King's County Brewers Collective Weekend Wrap Up

This weekend was filled with activities but unfortunately I forgot to take photos on Saturday so I'll just share it with you very quickly. I had a dentist appointment in the afternoon, which went well and then we were on our way to Queens. One of my friends lives there and we went to visit her and her boyfriend. We decided to go to a mall there, since malls are kind of rare around here and we do miss them from time to time. After strolling through the mall and seeing some of our favorite spots (Chick Fil A and Cheesecake Factory) we went to one of the best Thai restaurants in NYC. I stand by that statement and New York Times agrees.
On Sunday we went out to Williamsburg, it was full of European tourists (which is always the case) and we took in some nice city sights. We worked up an appetite hanging out on the tiny beach area so we decided to go get the best slice around at Joe's Pizza, seriously the best slice which is only $2.75. They also have a location by Washington Square Park in the city but this one is a little less busy.
Then after chowing on the pizza we made our way back to Bushiwck. We strolled around because the weather was beautiful on Sunday and we wanted to check out a place that we haven't been to before. Brooklyn has a lot of breweries, and one that's close to us is called King's County Brewers Collective.
It's a pretty cool space and I've heard really good things about it prior to going. They always have special events going on and people like to have parties there. They have lots of room for sitting around and chilling by the bar and of course lots of great beers to choose from.
We tried 3 different beers each, all of them were awesome. One of mine was a cider from a brewery in Queens. Until a couple of years ago I was not a big beer drinker but since Alex and I got together he's converted me to loving beer. My favorite beers are stouts, especially if there's chocolate involved.
We had a great time there and we are looking forward to going back now that we've got our favorites all picked out. This brewery is in a very convenient location so it's close to a lot of other bars and restaurants. Basically, our Sunday ended on a slightly tipsy note but it was  great weekend!

How was your weekend? What did you do?

Philadelphia Highlights

As I briefly mentioned in my post last week, we went to Philly for the weekend! We took the bus there early Saturday morning and went back Sunday evening. It was both of our first time going there and we really enjoyed it! The philly cheese steaks definitely helped with that. We stayed in Old Town and it was such a beautiful area. Overall we enjoyed how uncrowded the city was, which was kind of a sweet relief coming from NYC. This post will just have some highlights from the trip and I will share a more in depth one later on :)
We really liked exploring the areas that were close to our hotel. We didn't expect it but Philly is such a clean city! It might be that we're just not used to it anymore but it's something we noticed right away. Lots of people with dogs here too, is it just on the weekend? We saw so many dogs!
It was a blast even though we only got to spend a weekend here. I would love to go back and to do more stuff. I've spotted some ice cream shops that looked very tempting and I plan on coming back and visiting them!

Have you ever been to Philly? What's your favorite thing to do there?

Saving Money for Travel Part 1

First off, I should state that I'm not an expert in any way. I'm sure you already knew that :) But I figured it would be cool to share some steps that we're taking to save money for travel in the future. This particular edition of saving money for travel is what I'd like to call "chum change" because you won't get the big bucks (or maybe you will) but it's just little steps that probably won't drastically change your quality of life but will help you save the green in the long run.

Cutting the Cord

We did this pretty early on so we haven't had cable in a while. I'm not even sure, to be honest, how much cable costs these days. I'm guessing quite a bit! We don't watch a lot of tv already as it is so it made no sense for us to put money into something that wasn't getting any use. Sure I like the occasional Bachelor on ABC but I can also watch it through my antenna, if positioned perfectly, or through Hulu which also streams it. Speaking of streaming services...

Go Easy on Subscriptions 

Now, subscription services with their relatively cheap prices can really suck you in where you won't be able to get out of it. My Birch Box subscription was the first to go. It was only $10 a month (so $120 a year) for something that didn't bring me that much joy. Sure I liked some of the samples but majority of them were random hair products that I ended up giving away. It just wasn't worth it in the end. 

Next was our Spotify subscription. I liked premium, commercials sure do suck but for a family plan of $14 a month ($168 a year) it certainly wasn't worth it. I listen to it for 30 minutes a day max, so I think I can survive with a couple of commercials. Alex felt the same way and he's been listening to podcasts a lot too, which are free - hooray!

Finally, Netflix. I know, I'm probably crazy but hear me out. We have Amazon prime, which we already paid for and it enables us to watch shows on there. They have some decent stuff like Mozart in the Jungle, I have to be honest I haven't done much exploring because I haven't had time to watch tv lately. Which is probably another good reason to cancel Netflix though it wasn't super expensive at $10 a month ($120 a year). We still have Hulu because we signed up for it during a special when it was $5.99 a month which I guess I can live with (because Handmaid's Tale is awesome). 

So just for opting out of those 3 subscriptions we save $408 a year, which could instead be used to buy plane tickets or something along those lines!

Bring Lunch

Sometimes I don't do this enough because I'm too lazy or because my coworkers are going to a restaurant I really like so I can't resist, but eating out is a big spender. If I'm being conservative in my calculations, say I buy lunch for $10 dollars every day of the week, that comes out to $50 a week. If Alex does the same thing it's $100 a week. If we do that for a whole month it's $400, if we do it for a year it's $4,800 which is insane. 

It's amazing how quickly tiny purchases worth around $10 can add up. It's an amount that seems kind of small and insignificant but if you do it often enough it really adds up.

Are you taking any small steps to save money? 

Long Story Short

So, let's get into it! As some of you might remember (though I doubt it) I started my first blog in April of 2014. It was successful because I managed to keep up with it for almost 3 years, that blog was Birch Juice Blog. I started it on Blogger, then I ended up moving to a self hosted Wordpress blog. Wordpress was awesome, and if deciding on hosting wasn't an issue then I would have probably stuck with it.

Both my hosting and domain for BJB are about to expire this month so I figured that now was the time to decide what I wanted to do. Normally when you first do a hosting plan they offer it to you for dirt cheap, which is what happened with my Blue Host domain, it was something silly like $2.50 a month. I paid for it for the 2 years and had nothing to worry about. Now if I were to renew I would have to pay more, I'm sure I could haggle with them or something along those lines but I just don't have the energy to do that. I also could have moved on to another host, but I just didn't want the hassle. Who knows, though, maybe I will eventually move this blog onto a self hosted Wordpress if I can find a nice cheap deal. Any recommendations?

I also felt like BJB ended up going in a completely different direction, but I blame myself for trying to chase the "blog success" and trying to post the kinds of posts that I thought would get the most clicks. That's not why I started my blog in the first place, I started it because I shared photos of foods I ate and activities that I did on the weekends. I might be lazy but I just don't care about trying to promote my blog on 5 different social media channels, it's a hobby not a full time job.

During my time off from blogging I realized that what I missed most was catching up with my blog friends and seeing what they were up to rather than being stressed about page views. It feels nice to slowly get back in the loop with what everyone has been doing and reading. It also feels a little exciting to be on a new blogging platform so it feels like I started fresh, which definitely helps to get back into the swing of things!

Have you ever taken a break from your blog? What made you want to get back into it?

Also, we're off to Philly this weekend! If you have any tips or suggestions for what to do and where to go please let me know :)

Mexico Trip Recap

I figured it that it wouldn't be right not to share a detailed recap of our trip so here we go! I apologize in advance for the length of this post :)
This is us being pumped about being on the plane to Mexico! We had a 9am flight so we had a decent amount of sleep and taking an Uber to the airport instead of the subway really worked in our favor. For reference we were flying out of JFK, which does have subway access but you have to pay extra to actually get over to the airport on the airtrain.

The flight felt very quick, though it was 4 hours. Bringing an interesting read definitely helped! We arrived at the Cancun airport, and going through customs and all that took maybe 20 minutes. It was quick and easy. Next was our shuttle to the resort which we booked ahead of time. Since we were staying in Tulum it was an 1.5 hour drive there but it didn't feel long either. 
We arrived on what looked like a rainy day but the weather turned around and stayed sunny the entire time we were there. With the travel and everything we got to the resort at around 3 o'clock and with check in and getting settled into our rooms we didn't get out to explore the beach and surrounding areas until around 4. By that point we were hungry but still wanted to scope everything out for the following day. 

On the first day when we finally got to put our bathing suits on we decided to get up early so we don't miss out on precious beach time. I don't know what it is about beach vacations but I cannot sleep in for very long because I'm itching to get out there. We strolled around for a bit and grabbed breakfast, the breakfast buffet did not disappoint and may have been my favorite meal of the day the entire time we were there. 

The beach looked super appealing so that's where we set up shop. I have to say that we were extra careful on this trip with our sunscreen bringing both 70 and 30 SPF which paid off since we didn't really get burnt. It was also my first time bringing a one piece on a tropical vacation which really helped avoid getting a sunburn. So in the future I will have to get more of those! Finally, the biggest game changer was my hat that I got super cheap at H&M. I have no idea why I never really wore hats before on the beach but it really helped me avoid getting a sunburn on my scalp which is the worst.
That night for dinner we went to a Mexican restaurant on the resort. All of the restaurants there required a reservation and for men to be wearing pants and closed toed shoes (which Alex was not thrilled about). That was the night when I made the terrible mistake of doing tequila shots which then resulted in me hugging the toilet for a good part of the night and the following morning. It was rough, and I really thought that my day would be ruined by sitting in the room all day feeling like shit. However, after much research it turns out that Sprite is the miracle cure for hangovers so I sipped on that and got back out to the beach feeling mighty fine.
Since I had a tough time that morning I stayed away from drinking and took it easy for the remainder of the trip. What can I say, I learned my lesson! Though those drinks are great, especially the margaritas. That evening we made a reservation at a sea food grill place which everyone loved. In hindsight we should've ate there every night but we wanted to be adventurous and try a few spots. I think we look a little odd in this photo because a random person intercepted us as we were trying to go for a classic selfie and offered to take a photo of us. It was nice but whenever strangers do that I end up looking weird.
The following day we decided to move our hangout over to the cabanas and the pool area. There were 3 different pool areas to choose from. One of them was right by the kids pools so we never hung out there, the other one was by a swim up bar where the party animals hung out, and finally there were the shallow pools for just chilling and that's what we did. We also snatched a cabana which made for a nice and relaxing reading spot!
Part of our crew also decided to venture out to the city of Tulum, though I wasn't one of those people. I know it's lazy of me but isn't that what vacations are for?! That evening we made a reservation at an Italian restaurant, and I wish we never did that. It was definitely the worst experience we had at the restaurants there but at least we can say that we gave it a go. Luckily there was a dinner buffet that we could go so it wasn't all that bad.
Finally on our last day there we just wanted to stroll around on the beach and really enjoy the little bit of vacation we had left. It's always so tough thinking about going back home when you're in paradise with no worries at all. It didn't help that the weather was excellent, the drinks were flowing, and no one had to worry about cooking or cleaning.
Overall Mexico was so beautiful and we had such a good time, I'm really glad that we decided to go there.  It's easy to find good deals on vacations online, we used Cheap Caribbean for booking our trip and it was very smooth and straightforward. It was an all inclusive trip, which are great because when you get there there's nothing to worry about in terms of food and drinks. There are some additional things that you can pay for but that's entirely up to you. We did bring a bunch of smaller bills for tipping, but that's pretty much the same for all inclusive trips anywhere in the Caribbean.
We might look happy in that airplane selfie going back to NY but that's all for show, we were miserable as the weather was going to be cold and we were really sad about our fun tropical vacation coming to an end. Also, notice the gorgeous turquoise water that we were flying over, I can't get over how incredible it looks. You always see photos like that but it's unreal to see it in real life.

So there you have it, our Mexico trip in a nutshell! If you stuck around and read the whole thing I'm very grateful :)

Are you planning any tropical vacations?

What's New With You May the 4th Edition

This is my first time ever doing a link up! I'm liking up with Kristen and I hope I do this thing right.

April has been a great month for me in terms of beach time and getting to relax. It's been tough to get into the groove again after being away, so I've struggled with having to wake up early and actually going to work. I feel like I caught some kind of weird wanderlust bug that makes me want to go out and explore, as well as plan trips.

What's New With You
This month I'm hoping to:

  1.  Venture out to Philadelphia, which is only like 1.5 hours away from here by train. Everyone seems to love it there and who doesn't enjoy a quick day trip? As mentioned before we haven't really explored NY state and other nearby states so warm weather will hopefully help with that.
  2. Get back on my reading track! I have so many books that I keep accumulating but I'm not keeping up with my reading. I blame the new computer and me feeling like I'm glued to it. I'm almost done my current read and I'll hopefully manage to squeeze in a few more books this month.
  3. No spending month! I know I know, I don't have much faith in myself either but I've officially declared May as the no spending month. I haven't made any purchases yet that weren't necessities and I hope I can continue on with it. I think the key to success is to avoid checking any emails that I get this month advertising great sales on clothes/makeup. Do you have any tips?

What are you hoping to do (or not do) this month?
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