washington heights

A Neighborhood Bookshelf

A few weeks ago, this appeared outside Cafe Buunni, a great coffee shop in Washington Heights (my neighborhood).

Nomat Book Club: A bookcase where people can take and leave books, in Washington Heights

The idea is incredibly simple, but brilliant: It’s a bookcase for the whole neighborhood.В People can take or leave books as they please.

I love everything about that bookcase.

It fosters a sense of community—I like the idea of neighbors sharing books. It’s a money-saver—I’m all about supporting authors, but it’s a treat to get books for free!В But perhapsВ the thing I love most about the bookcase is that it gives me a place to pass along books I no longer want or can fit in my apartment.

I think it’s fair to say that most New Yorkers are short on space—apartments in the city are generally small, even in pre-war buildings in more affordable neighborhoods, like my own. As a result, we’re always purging in an effort to maximize our spaces.

I’m a strong believer inВ the sharing economy, and really appreciate having places to donate or drop off items so they’re not going to waste. My building, for example, has a clothing and textile bin that benefits a local charity. I can’t count the number of times I’ve dropped in clothing or shoes. And that’s why I welcome that communal bookcase to my ‘hood. It’s a great addition, and it’s amazing more neighborhoods don’t have something similar.

Is there anything in your building or area that encourages sharing among neighbors? I’m curious and would love to know.

Upper Manhattan, Cloaked in Fog

There’s a running joke in my family that I’m completely oblivious to most things that are going on in the world around me. That “joke” once again proved itself to be true, this week.

Apparently, yesterday morning, all of NYC was covered in fog—and I had no idea until I stumbled upon these amazing fog photos.

This one, of the George Washington Bridge and my neighborhood, Washington Heights, was my favorite:

nyc fog photo

Semi-related: speaking of the GWB, have you seen the Jimmy Fallon/Springsteen tribute to the Chris Christie “Bridgegate” scandal? It’s too funny!

(Photo from USA Today Weather В via Time Out New York)

Washington Heights = Skating Rink

When I got home at 10 p.m. last night, the streets were dry and there was nothing falling from the sky. That’s why–despite all the dire weather predictions–I was shocked to find my neighborhood like this, this morning. An inch of ice covers the streets and sidewalks and all the trees and shrubs are drooping under the weight of frozen water. Watching people clinging together for support and taking shaky baby steps as they “walked” to the train would have been more amusing if I weren’t doing the same thing, nearly wiping out several times in the process.

…It’s hard to believe that just a week ago, I was sipping coconut water and sunbathing in Negril!

First Washington Heights CSA Pick-Up of the Season

I wanted to join a CSA since I first read about community supported agriculture. The majority of my grocery budget goes to buying produce (mostly organic), but I tend to buy the same fruits and veggies (spinach, arugula, bok choy, mushrooms, bananas, plums, etc.) all the time because they’re what I’m familiar with and they’re usually not too expensive. I’m also not a great cook — I’m constantly stuck in food ruts — and I figured a CSA would force me to learn how to cook new dishes since I’ll have no control over the fruits and veggies I’ll receive. Oh, and it also seemed like a good way to support local, organic farmers.В

After doing a bit of research last fall, I learned that there’s a Washington Heights CSA that distributes veggies in Fort Tryon Park, which is only a few blocks from my apartment. The produce comes from Windflower Farms, a small, organic farm upstate in the Taconic Hills. Joining the CSA was the hard part. Apparently, a glut of people also wanted in, so I was on a waiting list for several months. A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail stating that I was accepted from the waiting list, and I signed up for a vegetable share (22 weeks) and a fruit share (20 weeks).

Yesterday was the season’s first pick-up, so I headed to the distribution site, at New Leaf Cafe, in Fort Tryon. I was surprised to find a rather long line of people also picking up veggies. Apparently, the CSA has quite a few new members, and a volunteer kept reiterating that they’d never had a line before.В


It moved quickly, though, and soon I stood before a row of boxes, each bearing a different veggie. A large chalkboard informed us how many of each were were allotted.В




I returned home with this gorgeous array of veggies, fruit, and herbs. Then came the hard part: washing, breaking down, and deciding what to do with all of it.