Tasting Out STRONG & KIND Bars by KIND Snacks: A Review and Thoughts

Strong and Kind bars

The fun thing about doing what I do is that sometimes I get the chance to try out new products on the market and offer my opinion on them. The super awesome folks over at Kind Snacks recently sent me over some of their brand new bars to taste, and if you’re at all familiar with Kind bars, you know they are de-li-cious—so I was all in for this taste test. Kind bars are well-known for their sweet and savory mix of ingredients that offer good amounts of fiber and protein without tons of sugar (at least 8 varieties of Kind bars boast only 3-5g per bar). So, what was so new about this “new” line?

Besides the fact that 2014 NBA MVP Kevin Durant is the face of Strong & Kind (check out what awesome role he has in this partnership), the new line of bars has two main new things to offer: bold flavor and 10g of protein per bar. (Sugar content is about the same.) When you consider that regular Kind bars average about 5g of protein (with the exception of the Almond Walnut Macadamia With Peanuts  + Protein variety, which also has 10g of protein), this new line has something very different to offer—particularly for the person looking to get an extra intake of protein with their diet. The Kind Snacks website attributes these ingredients like almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and pea crisps to the extra boost of protein in these bars.

I had so much fun trying out the bars, and as usual, they were scrumptious! (They barely lasted past the taste test.) Below are the details on the taste test and thoughts on the new Strong & Kind bars. Thanks again to Kind Snacks for this fun opportunity!

“Being kind isn’t a sign of weakness—you gotta be strong to be kind.”

Kevin Durant

The Bars

strong and kind bars

The first thing I noticed about the new flavors was their interesting flavors! When they said bold, they meant BOLD. The Strong & Kind line wants to surprise your taste buds with a ton of flavor and something very different from what you’re used to: spices! Here are the five new flavors of the Strong & Kind bars.

  1. Hickory Smoked
  2. Roasted Jalapeno
  3. Honey Mustard
  4. Thai Sweet Chili
  5. Honey Smoked BBQ

The Testers

Because I wanted to get the opinion of someone else, I enlisted a male counterpart to help me test out the new bars, who we’ll call “T”. The profile on the male tester, I think, is definitely a person that Kind Snacks is will be targeting with this new line: someone who is health-conscious and active with an appreciation for great tasting snacks.

On my end, I have a similar profile with one key difference—which I think makes the high-protein count in the Strong & Kind bars particularly important: I’m vegetarian. It’s difficult for me to pack in enough protein into my diet, especially in my snacks, without taking in just as much sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. My interest was definitely piqued!

We offered our opinions on factors of smell, taste, aftertaste and overall enjoyment of each of the bars; we also gave a rating on a scale of 1-10 for each bar. Our thoughts are listed below!

The Taste Tests

Hickory Smoked

T: This bar immediately has a smell of BBQ chips when you open the package. It also tastes like BBQ, with a very distinctly meaty taste. I didn’t find that this tasted like a snack—it was almost more like a meal, being more satiating than refreshing (compared to the sweeter “candy bar-like” Kind bars). I found that this had kind of an onion-y aftertaste—which I didn’t particularly love.

Overall rating: 6/10

F: I also had a distinct thought of BBQ chips when I smelled this bar —which I like, so it wasn’t a turnoff for me. I didn’t think the bar had as strong of a BBQ chip flavor though, which I also really appreciated since BBQ flavor makes me usually think of meat. The flavor of the almonds comes through nicely, and you get a great balance of taste. Overall, I really loved that you get a yummy BBQ chip taste without it tasting like a greasy snack!

Overall rating: 7/10

Roasted Jalepeno

T: This bar smelled good off the bat — has a smoky, slightly spicy smell. It tasted very much like a savory snack mix, but it isn’t as meaty as the Hickory Smoked bar. This bar was a hit with me, and I’d definitely buy this variety!

Overall rating: 8/10

F: I LOVED the way this bar smelled; it had a slightly spicy smell to it—and I’m a sucker for anything jalapeno-flavored snacks, so I was intrigued and definitely pleased before trying it out. The taste itself is very punchy, with just enough spicy flavor so it gets your taste buds dancing and wanting more. Based on the spice meter, I was expecting more jalapeno flavor and was only mildly disappointed. Overall, delicious!

Overall rating: 7/10

Honey Mustard

T: Not a lot to say about this one other than: I was a BIG FAN! This bar tastes almost exactly like honey mustard pretzel bites, but they have so much more nutritional value. Definitely an  awesome replacement for an unhealthy but delicious snack.

Overall rating: 9/10

F: The first thing I noticed about this bar is that it STRONGLY smells and tastes honey mustard (compared to the Jalepeno bar, which was a bit milder). So, if you like honey mustard-flavored snacks, this one is for you. Luckily, I do, so I did enjoy the bar but didn’t love the mustard aftertaste. This is the type of bar I’d pick up if I was specifically craving something tangy and punchy.

Overall rating: 6/10

Honey Smoked BBQ

T: I particularly didn’t think this bar tasted like BBQ chips—I got more of a Carolina-style, vinegar-based BBQ flavor from this Strong & Kind bar. But because it tasted like actual BBQ to me, I felt like I was eating meat—which I, personally, don’t love in a dry snack. On that note, I think if you like jerky, this bar is for you!

Overall rating: 5/10

F: I, on the other hand, thought these tasted very much like BBQ chips (I also don’t know what real BBQ tastes like). I’ll agree that there is definitely a very meaty quality from the nuts and the flavor, so I wasn’t the hugest fan as a vegetarian. For me, this variety lacked the savory sweetness of the Hickory Smoked bar, and the flavor had much more pow to it. If you want something like that in your snack, you will definitely love this bar.

Overall rating: 5/10

Thai Sweet Chili

T: Yum! The flavor of this bar is just as interesting as the name. It has a tantalizing smell and the taste has hints of coconut and ginger, while also incorporating that spicy kick. (Almost has a bit of Sriracha Sauce taste in the background!) I immediately thought of Panang Curry when I tasted this bar—loved it!

Overall rating: 9/10

F: If you like Thai food, you will go crazy for this bar—but that’s not to say it TASTES just like Thai food. The flavor is wonderfully surprising (I, too, was most intimidated by the name of this flavor!), managing to delivery a creamy, coconut-y taste without being too much and had a delicious aftertaste (but no funky breath!). It tastes like a snack I might find in an Asian grocery store, and it was definitely the most unusual and memorable flavor of the bunch.

Overall rating: 9/10

Summary of the Strong & Kind Taste Test

The unique and particularly notable quality about the new Strong & Kind bars are their savory quality and their likeness to your everyday snacks. They are an exceptional replacement for unhealthy snacks that we’re all so prone to succumbing in those impulse buys. For your health-conscious and active person, especially, the Strong & Kind bars offer unique flavors with a salty and savory quality and with a huge boost of protein.

The flavors are both unique and familiar, creating the perfect balance of surprise and comfort in your daily snacking. There really wasn’t any of these bars that we wouldn’t eat (seriously, they’re all gone now). If you’re a loyal Kind bar snacker, then you might have an initial hesitation to dissociating yourself from the conventional sweet/salty taste of a Kind bar. But you are in for a pleasant surprise because this is exactly what was missing from the line of snack bars that you don’t feel bad eating. Kudos to Kind for an awesome new line of snack bars!






The Experience of ‘Gravity’: My Spoiler-Free Review

gravity movie reviewJust. Wow.

Add a huge exhale of bated breath, and that’s pretty much the feeling I walked out with after watching Alfonso Cuarón’s sci-fi and hugely action-packed ‘Gravity’ starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. If you’re looking for a movie to scare your pants off, leave you in dumbfounded awe and maybe even make you shed a tear, this one will do it. Reviews of of this blockbuster can be found abound, so I’ll spare you the intelligent breakdown of why and why not everyone succeeded to deliver a great movie and just tell you my thoughts walking in, watching and walking out. No spoilers, promise.

My Expectations of ‘Gravity’

When I first saw the trailer for ‘Gravity’ a couple of months ago, I was skeptical of how good the movie was going to be. The entire trailer was action-packed, and there didn’t seem to be any build-up to the plot. It was made pretty clear early on that the main characters suffer some catastrophic event in space that leaves their lives in peril — but that was pretty much it. No back story, no ambiguous reference to the outcome, just — boom — the thick of the plot. The grave state of things actually seemed a bit melodramatic and cheesy at first. But what did pique my interest were the names behind the movie. With only two main actors, and they being Sandra Bullock and George Clooney — two people who are synonymous with acclaimed performances in serious roles — I was definitely interested. They wouldn’t just sign on for any old cheesy sci-fi flick. And then another name grabbed my attention: Alfonso Cuarón.

Now, I’m not going to lie — the first thing I thought when I saw his name was ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, but let’s not forget that this was a pretty big hit. My interest rose even more. This was indeed a really unexpected mix of people behind a movie that could totally be super sensational movie about getting lost in space. But you had me at wondering, ‘Gravity’, you had me wondering!

The Experience of Watching ‘Gravity’

After hearing pretty good reviews about the movie and reading the reports of its opening success at the box office, I thought I’d finally go see what the fuss was all about. And if I was going to see an sci-fi movie taking place in space, I was going to do it right and watch it in IMAX 3D.

Best. Decision. Ever.

It made all the difference to watch something so heavily packed with special effects, beautiful cinematography and action sequences on a huge screen and in 3D. Watching ‘Gravity’ like this was truly an experience right off the bat. Being in space with Dr. Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Matt Kalowsky (George Clooney) was more like actually being in space with them — or as close as you could be, anyway. For a space nerd like me, it was hauntingly beautiful and a little frightening at the same time. The action sequences are just so larger than life with the surround sound and floor-to-ceiling IMAX screen that I don’t think watching the movie any other way is even doing it justice.

What you should know is that if you’re faint of heart, this really might not be the movie for you (especially not in IMAX 3D). The reason the trailer jumps straight into the plot is that the movie does too. There’s not a lot of guesswork here as to what the movie is about — pretty much from the get-go you know that shit just hit the fan in space. I was on the edge of my seat for almost the entirety of the 90 minutes with bated breath just waiting for the next succession of catastrophic events — and they are all pretty intense.

Also, Cuarón seemed to have really wanted you to “experience” this movie whether you watched it in IMAX 3D or at home on DVD because when I say you’re in space, I mean you are in space. Don’t expect the camera angles to adjust for your viewing pleasure when the characters are spinning around in weightlessness and doing things upside down and all topsy-turvy due to the lack of gravity. Your tolerance for motion sickness might also be something you should definitely take into consideration before buying a ticket.

Walking Out of ‘Gravity’

When I left the movie, I honestly felt like I had spent 90 minutes in another world. The entire movie takes place in space, no flashbacks to their lives before the mission, nothing. It was honestly the most overwhelming and unexpected feeling to be a little disoriented standing up and walking out with — well — gravity. It sounds bizarre, but try being completely lost in space with no one else for hours (like Bullock and Clooney pretty much are), and having the lights turn on to a theater full of people will feel a little strange to you too.

If you’re hoping for a more well-developed story plot, you may be disappointed. This movie is what it looks like: an action-packed, sci-fi thriller. Not to say that there isn’t a secondary story, but it’s pretty much about surviving in weightless space. You will walk out with an immense appreciation for the special effects teams and Cuarón’s imaginative storytelling though, not to mention a mix of awe and deathly fear of space beyond Earth’s pretty blue skies. If there’s ever been a time when I felt completely at a loss for words for the mystery and magic that is the universe beyond our atmosphere, it was after watching ‘Gravity’. If you’ve ever even gandered a speculation as to what it would be like to really be “lost in space,” this movie will give you a pretty hair-raising scenario.

All in all, I really liked ‘Gravity’. I can’t say enough that it was definitely something you have to experience to really enjoy, and I highly recommend watching it in IMAX 3D if you have the option to really do the movie justice. Sandra Bullock’s performance is one for the books, and George Clooney does what he does the best — plays a good role and makes you fall in love with him. Definitely a movie worth spending a few extra bucks on to watch it right!

An Open Letter to Dr. Dre — and His Beats Headphones

beats by dre review

To the Beats Support Team and Dr. Dre by extension,

I’m writing you to express my extreme disappointment in your company and for the efforts you’ve made to permeate through society this idea that your products, the Beats headphones and earbuds specifically, were items made with care and with high quality parts. I’m disappointed that I bought into this idea that because your product looks so “cool” with their token red wires, oversized earpieces and sky-high price tags that they would be something worth buying. You see, you fooled me by putting your product into the hands of well known celebrities and making the names “Beats” and “Dr.Dre” so ubiquitous in the music listening world that I actually thought that you had a quality product on your hands. Of course, it wasn’t just your paid advertising and branding that sucked me in; you targeted the hipsters and self-proclaimed “DJs” and “music junkies” who strut the streets of cities like New York, Chicago, LA and Miami and who might shop at thrift stores to stock their wardrobe but are never without their beloved Beats headphones forever hanging off of their necks. You’ve brainwashed music listeners into thinking that the brands of Dr. Dre, Monster and Beats were reputable and credible so much so that we should dish out hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to invest into a product that would change the music listening experience forever.

I’m extremely disappointed because all of this has been a big, fat lie.

You see, I’d heard of the amazing sound quality that Beats headphones and earbuds provided. I pined after a set myself for while. Living in New York City, I relied on my Mp3 player to get me through my commutes everyday. But the constant noise of the city meant that I had to listen to my music increasingly louder if I even wanted to hear it at all. I wanted to buy a set of Beats earbuds that I’d heard so much about — the crystal clear sound quality, the deep bass booster, the overall awesome quality! But alas, how could I afford even the most inexpensive pair when they ranged into the hundreds of dollars? I have crazy bills to pay first. But my eardrums were paying for the constant ambient racket that they were being subjected to on a daily basis.

Then, my luck broke, and I was able to buy a new open box item during a sale. I got a set of the Beats Tour Earbuds for a steal about 4 months ago. I wasn’t a huge fan of the bulky fit, but the sound quality did meet my expectations. I could block out the noise and hear my music 10 times better, even at lower volumes. I was a happy camper.

Then all of a sudden, they stopped working. The left ear just stopped playing music. A move of the wire, and I heard static. Then the right ear stopped playing, and then they both stopped working. Oh, then I heard sound for about a second before I went through the whole process again. So, I contacted customer support. I had all the information, and my earbuds were supposed be under warranty.

Your customer service told me that I should just buy new headphones or get mine fixed because they couldn’t help me. Your warranty “didn’t support unauthorized vendors.” Sorry, we’re not sorry — that’s what I really heard.

Okay. So, maybe there was something wrong with the product when I bought it.

But then I started doing some research, and I found that this was a common problem. Your product gets an average of two stars on Apple.com, two and half stars (by users) on Cnet.com. Why is that? It turns out that people losing sound and your product breaking is a pretty common occurrence. What’s also a common occurrence is being told that “there’s nothing to be done” about it. What is your warranty for? Why is your product so expensive, and why do you have an entire Beats Support Twitter account that is spewing off the same crap to everyone who is complaining about the same thing. Aren’t you ashamed of ripping off and duping people with your flashy name only to sell them a shitty product that is almost guaranteed to break down within a matter of time?

Obviously not because you’re still doing it. Your prices are getting more and more ridiculous, and with your tactical and smart branding you’re convincing a younger and younger consumer base that they just have to have the cool headphones toted around by Dr. Dre himself. You’ve created a status symbol that is a scam.

I’ve now attempted to contact your phone customer service and your Twitter customer service, and I have to tell you that the people on both ends were very polite and seemingly helpful until they quite flatly told me that they were “extremely sorry” that they just couldn’t help. That’s just called good training, so kudos on that too.

I’m happy that I didn’t dish out the hundreds of dollars for your crap of a product, but I am sad because I bought into your brand thinking it was something that I could be proud of — not just because it was “cool” but also because it was a smart investment I’d made on my part. I’m embarrassed to say that it wasn’t, and I hope that anyone who is considering to buy any of your products does their research to get the truth straight from the mouths of people who were duped like me. The reviews are out there, but you’ll never see them from your lofty throne that sits atop an empire of cheaply made products. I just hope they do.

Thanks for nothing,

Foram M.

On the Move: Buddy Boy Movers to the Rescue

Buddy Boy Movers

If there was one thing I hated almost more than anything else (although — I’m sure grocery shopping is a close tie), it’s moving. The whole process couldn’t be more stressful: the looking for a new place, signing forms and leases (and that’s just the beginning!), packing boxes, throwing out and donating things, and then of course — the laborious, exhaustive part of actually moving and then unpacking it all. I’ve moved at least 10 times in my life, and I’ve come to realize it’s not only physically tiring but also emotionally. Why? I don’t really know — maybe the process of seeing so many things tied to your life being packed up? Probably a bit of the “starting anew” part too adds to the stress of moving. Whatever it is, I’m always a mess when it comes to moving, and doing it in New York City was a completely new experience — 10x more chaotic and stressful than ever before…

You don’t realize how much you just need a car (or a friend with one) until you are trying to transport things from one place to another. I absolutely love and live for NYC’s public transportation, but not when I’m lugging things around. Today, I was supposed to move two large suitcases, 1 small suitcase, and 2 1/2 small boxes — items that would have easily fit into an SUV or van, but since no one around here has one, I had to hire a mover — because there’s no way I was going to be able to lift all that into a cab.

Last night I called these guys: http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/lbs/3193923657.html who were supposed to charge $25/hr for one man and a van and $45/hr for two men and a van. I was told I would have to get two men so one could stay with the van and the other help me; in the end I was quoted a flat rate of $50. I knew the job would take less than an hour because I had all my things ready and was just moving further downtown, so I really think $45 was more fair, but I booked an appointment for 9 a.m the next day and agreed on $50. I was told I’d get a call ahead of time, so I made sure to be ready by 8:45 — no call. 9:00 — no call. 9:10 — no call. I gave them a ring and was told I’d get a call back. 9:30 — no call. I called back angry but professional and was told someone was “on the way.” I asked for a discount considering I had been on my stoop for 30 minutes and had to call over and over. The guy told me I was already getting the “minimum price,” so I told him that I was actually paying $50 when their ad advertised for $45/hr. The guy told me, “Well, you can find someone else then.” and hung up — while I was in mid-sentence.

Exhausted and at a loss of what to do after having lugged all my heavy bags and boxes outside, I tried to hail a cab for 45 minutes on my stoop, but to no avail because each one was full. I even had a neighbor miraculously (the same nice man who helped me open my door for an hour the night I moved in) come out and watch my things while I tried to get a cab on a main avenue. One cab stopped and told me he wouldn’t come back around.

Completely a hot mess, desperate and unimaginably exhausted, I started just looking for another mover on my phone who could come and help me. It was also at this point that a rat came out of nowhere and ran over my toes…and yes, I was wearing open-toed sandals.

I found Rob from Rob the Mover and gave him a ring nearly in tears. He told me he would try to help me but it would probably be hours and asked me to text him my number. A few minutes later I got a text from him saying John would call me and could come in two hours at the earliest. Lo and behold, John did call. Practically crying at this point, I told John how desperate I was and adding to my argument that there are genuinely nice people in NYC, he actually seemed to feel bad for me. He even lowered his price for me a bit and said he’d be on his way ASAP because he was at a job already. A little over 30 minutes later, I got a text from him saying he was on his way, and less than 10 minutes later — John from Buddy Boy Movers showed up.

Not only was John professional, but he was genuinely gracious and kind. The first words out of his mouth were “Just breathe — it’s going to be okay.” 30 minutes later, I was at my new apartment and John had taken my heavy items up to my apartment on the 2nd floor already. After the most horrendous morning, he was truly a Godsend. So, if you need to move in NYC, definitely check out Buddy Boy Movers, and John will take care of you. (You can also call him directly at 917-861-6493). Turns out he used to work for Rob at Rob the Mover, and Rob had kindly called him for the job after hearing my sob story. So, I would highly recommend his service also.

To both gentlemen, and especially John, thank you very much for just coming through today and also your discretion and kindness!

Kudos to You! Finally, An Online Shopping Site With A+ Customer Service

I’m all about giving kudos where it’s well-deserved — especially when it comes to good customer service (and it’s pretty rare nowadays). So, today I want to tell you about a company that has blown me away with their amazing customer service: Shoplately.com along with one of their featured sellers glint & gleam.

It’s pretty unanimously agreed upon that shopping online comes a fair share of ups and downs: the convenience of not leaving your home and browsing through merchandise at your leisure without the hassle of crowds and lines vs. the teeth-pulling difficulty of reaching a real human being through automated customer service systems and then actually having an issue being solved. More often than not, the customer has to either:

  1. Fill out an mind-numbingly irritating form that’s — understandably necessary, but also like filling out a letter to Santa Clause: you’re hopeful it’ll be read and will result in that gift you want so bad, but you’re realistic — customer service is probably just a myth someone made up.
  2. Call a 1-800 number that has you go through a maze-like game of “where will you end up next if you press this number?” only to make you call back over and over, hoping you’ll just get through to a freaking PERSON to talk to.
  3. Giving up and losing your money, merchandise and hope in online shopping, altogether.

It’s truly a shame, but this is really what bad customer service in online shopping companies has been like for me, and I’m sure for about 562,773 people (but that’s just an estimate). So, when I had such an issue with a company and its customer service not only solved it for me, but went to such great lengths to make sure I  was happy, I wanted to take this opportunity to dole out an appropriate amount of kudos.

The Issue:

About a month ago, I ordered a beautiful bag from a company called Shoplately.com, which sells gorgeous fashion accessories from various sellers. This particular bag was by the seller glint & gleam, and I’ve bought multiple items by this seller and from this site — always with great experiences. The quality is impeccable, and the service is great. The bag in question was the Cool Contrast Structured Handbag in Turquoise and Orange. I had been looking for a great summer bag, and I was about to make a big move from Texas to New York City, and this bag was on their Sale Rack for a mere $40 — I was sold!

Shoplately’s merchandise usually took about one business week to arrive and I was leaving in eight days, so I had no worries it would make it on time. However, when the time came for me to leave, my bag wasn’t there. …and let the saga begin…

The Resolution: 

I’ve had minor questions about my purchases before, and have always gone to Twitter with my concern. Within minutes, I had a response from their account asking me to fill out an inquiry on the site. Very impressive! I did this, and I was told within the next day that USPS took a longer time to deliver larger packages, and the company would be switching over to UPS for this exact reason to deliver items like purses.

Now, I was pretty upset because I had already moved, and when I tracked my package, it had arrived at my old location the next day! I went back and forth with Shoplately for about a week and half telling them I wasn’t happy about paying to have my mail forwarded, and simply wasn’t going to to do it —  until they told me that the seller, glint & gleam, had decided to send me a brand new bag, free of charge!

I was blown away that the company was doing this (especially considering they offer $2.99 flat rate shipping, and the postage for this purse was close to $14.00 both times) — the retail value of the purse alone is $96.00!

The Bag:

The customer service was great, but I am beyond in love with the purse I purchased! Like I said, I’ve purchased other things from Shoplately.com and by the seller glint & gleam, but this bag is one of the best investments I’ve made to-date.

The purse is valued at $96.00, but seeing it in person — I can vouch that it is totally worth that much. The detailing, quality and stylishness of the bag is absolutely phenomenal — the color is super on-trend for the summer, and it’s functional with the extra clip-on strap!

Did I mention the uber chic gold-tone metal feet detailing? I’m so tired of having bags that don’t sit up by themselves, and I made a conscious effort to pick this bag knowing that it wouldn’t be an issue!

Check out these pictures of the Cool Contrast Structure Handbag I purchased from Shoplately.com by glint & gleam:

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Thank you, again, Shoplately and glint & gleam for your impeccable customer service and wonderful product! I will definitely be shopping with you again — and very soon!

NYC GreenFlea Market: 2 Stalls You Have to Stop At

GreenFlea Market

For those of you who know me (or have seen any of my previous blog posts) know that I absolutely love vintage finds. Last time I was in New York, I had the privilege of digging up some great stuff at a flea market that I’m still getting compliments for to this day. So, naturally — it was a matter of time before I made my way to one of the most talked about flea markets in The Big Apple: The GreenFlea Market on the Upper West Side. Since it’s only open on Sundays from 10 am – 5pm, I traipsed up there around noon, today before the crowds hit.

Boy, oh, boy — did I strike gold today! (And that’s only slightly an exaggeration after you see what I picked up). I had done my research about this place beforehand and read great things about vendors selling a mix of great vintage designers pieces, food items and original creations. Truthfully, though, I didn’t know what to expect.

I ended up picking such great things, but there were 2 stalls and vendors that especially had such beautiful things to sell that I want to tell you about. More than that though, they were incredibly personal and made the shopping experience for me thoroughly enjoyable, which I think is super important at a flea market.

If you’re visiting the NYC GreenFlea Market anytime soon, make sure you check out these 2 stalls:

Mary Campbell & Phyllis Jackson’s Stall

Mary and Phyllis at their stall

These ladies’ booth is one of the first stops when entering the market, and what I loved (besides their gorgeous selection of jewelry and accessories) are their personable natures. My heart stopped when I saw a beautiful gold-plated belt that I was told was from the Victorian era. Now, as I’m both obsessed with belts and with history — I knew that I was going to have a hard time walking away from this belt.

A portion of Mary & Phyllis’ great stuff!

Phyllis told me she couldn’t bargain with me much more since the price had just been marked down, but I told her I was a poor gal who couldn’t afford the what she offered me and walked away hoping I’d find something else. Lo and behold: 45 minutes later, and I was back with the belt in mind. However, these ladies were so personable and genuinely sweet knowing how much I wanted this belt that they gave me a great deal, and I came home a very happy camper! They also had cases and cases of necklaces, earrings, brooches and much, much more.  Thank you, ladies — I will definitely be back for some more of this great stuff!

*The pictures of the belt I bought are at the bottom of the post with my other purchases’ pictures

Bruce Snell’s Stall

Designer everything at Bruce’s stall!

When I heard you could pick up some designer duds and jewels at a flea market, I had absolutely no idea it could be in this volume. Again, I was just blown away by the gorgeousness of everything that Bruce had tucked away in his glass cases, and as we got chatting, I learned that vintage buying and selling was in his blood. As a 3rd generation vintage hound, Bruce looked like he knew his stuff — and it was clear just by the hoards of lingering ladies that seemed to know him well from shopping trips before.

More of Bruce’s gorgeous designer jewelry

Although the price tags were well within bargain range for Dior, Chanel, Givenchy and the like — they just weren’t agreeing with my entry-level media salary, and I was honest with him about it. Once again, connecting with someone on a personal level seemed to work, and instead of getting discouraged that nothing was affordable — I asked him if he had anything within my price range (which was much less than anything marked). Surprisingly, he pulled out a pair of beyond gorgeous gold Dior C-shaped earrings that were marked for about 5x the amount for what he quoted me! I walked away once again, super happy with my purchase, but even happier with the personable interaction of the vendor. Thanks for the great deal, Bruce! I’ll be back for more!

Bruce also sells his stuff online here.

Here is what I ended up bringing home with me:

Vintage Christian Dior Earrings, $30

Other belts I bought, about $3 each

My First Week in NYC and a Pocketful of Finds

Last Friday, May 18, I made a very stressful move to New York City from Texas. We’re talking two 50 lb suitcases, a carry-on suitcase that was probably dangerously close to about 35 lbs., and a “purse” that was actually a tote bag that housed my purse, laptop, Nikon DSLR camera, Flip blogging camera, another digital camera, vitamins, makeup, phone, iPod, chargers for every electronic mentioned, and large blanket thrown over everything. Oh, then of course I had to dress in boots and a very warm sweater to lessen the weight of my suitcase, so I looked like a nutcase walking around the airport when the weather outside was about 80 degrees.

But — in the end the madness was worth it because even though my back muscles gave out on me, and it took me two hours to get to my apartment after landing and another hour to get into my apartment after that because I couldn’t figure out how to work the key in the lock, I am now living in the best city in the world. After an incredibly rough year, I’m  now employed and the happiest gal in the entire world! What’s unbelievable is that it’s already been a week, but I already have a pocketful of sunshine and goodies! Check out some of my pics of where I’ve been and what I’ve picked up so far:

1. East River Plaza, Harlem

East River Plaza

Since I couldn’t bring a lot of my necessities with me, I needed to do some grocery shopping immediately so I set out to explore my whereabouts from where I’m subletting on the Upper East Side and where did I end up but the super cool and awesome East River Plaza in East Harlem. Something of a new complex, this place made me feel like I was right back in Texas as soon as I saw its parking garages and its huge Target and Marshall’s. It has a Costco, Best Buy, Old Navy and a few more other stores and is a super cool place for some good commercial shopping on the weekend. Considering I had literally stepped off the plane from Texas hours ago, I was having major deja vu shopping here. The weird part was stepping outside and seeing the New York skyline hit you — talk about culture shock! This place is a gold mine though. I love New York for its boutiques and department stores but I can’t stay I wasn’t thrilled to see a friendly bulls-eye staring at me when I realized I just needed some toothpaste.

2. 9th Ave Food Festival, Midtown

9th Ave Food Festival

How perfect was it that the exact weekend of the 39th annual 9th Avenue Food Festival would be when I show up to town?! Too perfect, I think. A college friend and I were lucky enough to enjoy absolutely beautiful weather last weekend (before it got super icky for the work week) for this food and overall fun fest. We got some good grub, of course — but I picked up something even more exciting! What’s better than really great food at a food festival?

C.O.P.A. Medley Soap bars

Well, if you’re moving across state lines in a handful of suitcases and you forget to bring soap, I think handmade soap would take the cake. (No pun intended) We stopped by the Beekman’s C.O.P.A. Soaps’ stand and I picked up a box of four Medley soap bars, or as they are affectionately called “Frankensoaps”. Oh.my.gosh!! The soap is made with mixes of lemongrass, tea trea oil, shea, lavender, and other amazingly yummy stuff. I bought four gigantic bars for $10, and got a free sample of their lavender soap. Score! What’s amazing is how fragrant this soap is; it literally doubles as air freshener for the bathroom even without the steamy shower. And don’t even get me started at how buttery smooth my skin is. Seriously.so.in.love.

3. Georgetown Cupcake, SoHo

Earl Grey Tea & Lavender cupcake

You can imagine how thankful someone like me would be about just having a job after a year of unemployment, let alone to be working in New York (which just happens to be my dream place). But somehow my dream continues because not only has work been actually been pretty fun and my coworkers pretty downright fantastic from the get-go, but there also turns out to be a Georgetown Cupcake right around the corner from where I work! Yes, the Georgetown Cupcake – from TLC’s “DC Cupcakes”  — also known as the place that gives out a free cupcake everyday! Now, I won’t pretend like I was in the know about all of this, but I do know of the show. What I did not know was how amazing their cupcakes were and what a gold mine of a location their new spot in SoHo is. If you go at the right time,  you won’t even hit a line. Now, this is an absolute New York heaven.

I’ve done so much in just a week and have so many stories to tell, and these were just a few tidbits. Hopefully I’ll have my camera on me to record videos and snap more pics to come back and share more! My New York adventure has just begun, and I’m already falling in love this with city all over again.