Eating: Eddie’s Sweet Shop

This past weekend my brothers and I were craving ice cream hardbody (do people still say that in 2016?). 

  

They’re smiling on the inside.
  
After a quick Yelp search, Eddie’s Sweet Shop was just one of the many spots that came up in my search: There seems to be no shortage of quaint ice cream parlors in this eclectic city and I was happy to take advantage of this fact. Authentic handmade ice cream is pretty commonplace in NYC and that is exactly what drew me to Eddie’s on Metropolitan Avenue in Queens. Erected in 1909, Eddie’s offers a dozen flavors of ice cream such tried and true favorites chocolate and vanilla as well as rum raisin and vanilla fudge. You won’t find any of those experimental flavors such as sriracha vanilla or birthday cake batter. This cold treat spot prides itself on tradition. And clearly that model has worked for them as they are a neighborhood favorite featured on many iconic New York lists

  
Inside the shop you will find vintage tables and chairs as well as a ice cream bar with stools. I opted for a booth to house my clan as we feasted on a Monmouth sized banana sundae. 

Banana sundae royale

Our banana sundae royale featured three scoops: vanilla, vanilla fudge and chocolate towered high with whipped cream sprinkled in rainbow, chocolate syrup and topped off with cherries. It was enough to satisfy our tastebuds to the tenth power. 

  

Let me know if you give Eddie’s Sweet Shop a try or if you’ve had them already and tell me what you think! 

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How to: Create an Amazing Instagram Feed for Your Brand

In this series, I would like to explore the topic of branding with a focus on aesthetics. I will be exploring how your brand is affected by the fonts, colors, photos and even the captions you choose for your social media platforms. I’ll tell you what works and what doesn’t as well as give you tips on how to have a more uniform look across all your platforms.

 

Visitors should be able to come to your blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook page and be able to tell right off the bat that these all come from the same brand. Your Facebook shouldn’t have a style aesthetic that is contrary to the photos you post on Instagram. All of your brand’s social media platforms should share the same look and feel.

 

As a fashion blogger and YouTuber, Instagram is by far my favorite social platform. Instagram allows me to express myself as a fashion lover through photos I attentively choose, keeping my brand and audience in mind. When visitors check out my Instagram they get a glimpse into what my blog is all about and who I am as a blogger. Instagram is just as important as your blog itself, you could even call it the appetizer. But Instagram is even more important than the appetizer, it’s almost like the potatoes to your steak or the peas to your rice, pay special attention to what and how you post on Instagram.

 

I spent more time than I should on Instagram, so I come across a number of bloggers and brands on there. What I find more often than not is that a lot of people have no idea what they are doing on this site. For example, if I go to the explore page and find a dope shot of a blogger posing in her latest OOTD(outfit of the day) I get so excited I’ll want to check out her Instagram. Sometimes I’m disappointed to find that bloggers and brands don’t take Instagram as seriously as they should. I’ll find quote graphics with watermarks and colors that are loud and clash with the other pictures on their page or I’ll find images that seem as if they weren’t even posted by the same person.

 

I find that bloggers and brands forget that Instagram has the option to view any profile in both new feed format and thumbnail format. Anyone can come to your Instagram profile and click each picture of scroll down your feed. Consider how your Instagram looks in both formats. Make your profile as aesthetically pleasing as you would your blog or website. If you neglect to do so you could lose potential followers. I noticed once I started paying attention to how my Instagram looked in thumbnail and news feed form that my follower count and likes began to grow.

 

Don’t just throw up any old photo you took that day. Take the time  out to edit and choose what works best for your profile and brand.

 

  1. Backgrounds can make or break an image. Choose cool backgrounds like street art and rich, vibrant landscapes. Make the pictures interesting. Sure you’ve got an amazing product to showcase but remember that a picture is a complete tool featuring a dozen different elements. Don’t be afraid to do your research concerning photography.
  2. Quotes for folks. Put quotes in the captions that support your voice as a brand. Or ask your followers a question to encourage engagement. We want comments converted into followers. Engage your audience so they are enticed to stick around for some of your other content.
  3. Cool it on the hashtags #bro! Save the hashtags for the comment section of your post as opposed to putting it immediately in the captions of your photos. That way everything remains uncluttered.
  4. Quality over quantity. Choose high quality, crisp bright photos only. It’s a proven fact that HQ, sharp photographs get the most likes on Instagram so make sure you invest in the quality of your photos.
  5. Edit like a champ! Use editing apps such as Facetune, Piclab or Photoshop to correct any imperfections. So you’ve found a photographer, got a great camera but still your pictures are missing something. That’s okay! You can also edit those minor discrepancies but don’t go overboard. Social media users love authenticity and can spot a fake from a mile away.

 

Remember, Instagram and other social media platforms are some of the first impressions potential clients get of your brand; make the most of it! Don’t hesitate to let your creative team flex their skills.

 

Images via http://www.createherstock.com

Eating: Black Tap NYC

Last Saturday, after realizing I hadn’t eaten since lunch the previous day, I scrounged Instagram trying to find a bite to eat in NYC. My thinking was if I was going to break this involuntary fast I had better do it in style. And I had just gotten paid the day before so I was feeling like Mark Cuban. And as luck would have it, Black Tap Burgers and Beer’s IG came to mind. A few clicks later I was salivating at the mouth as my eyes consumed the visual yumminess that is a monstrous Black Tap cookie milkshake and a melty-cheesy-fall-apart chipotle burger. I was sold! I quickly jotted the address of their Soho location at 529 Broome St. into Google maps. And as luck would NOT have it, I turned the corner of Broome St. to find a line that rivaled that of a Yeezy Boost drop. My mind refused to accept that this line was for a burger spot. “Excuse me,” I casually said to a small group of women standing at the back of a line “what are you guys waiting for?” “Black Tap! The burger spot. We’ve been waiting here since 11:20.” I quickly realized that the line within my view was neither the beginning nor the end and that these women had been waiting here for 3 hours. I scoffed and took about two minutes to reevaluate my life choices that lead me to this moment. What exactly had I been thinking when I walked up to one of the most trendiest, hippest and happeningest places in NYC on a Saturday. I took deep breaths and wished my bearers of bad news adieu. I could have caved and taken my six bucks to the Subway up the block but remember I had been fasting (unbeknownst to me) since yesterday. I knew Black Tap had a meatpacking location that I surely thought couldn’t have the same congestion issue. A fifteen-minute train ride later I arrived to what appeared to be some sort of hipster midday club opening featuring a bouncer, some barricades and two wait time. I was determined. There was no way in hell I would leave the island of Manhattan without a picture of the colossal Black Tap cookie milkshake. I just couldn’t do that to myself. Had I had McDonald’s I wouldn’t have checked in on Facebook or taken a picture of my buttermilk crispy chicken sandwich. No, that isn’t what one does at McDonald’s. We whine and moan about how the corporate food industry is trying to kill us with their manufactured meat products they call burgers. We millennials scoff at the idea of having to spend $1 on something that will fill us up for twenty-five minutes. Instead, we choose to stand on line for two and a half hours on a Saturday and spend your freshly delivered minimum wage paycheck. For two and a half hours I endured (with a wealth of grace might I add) the admittance of parties of two into the most ~exclusive~ club in all of Manhattan that I just had to be apart of. I watched as those who were smart enough to bring +1’s skip to the front of the line but yet I went on. I prayed that my only 8% phone would not give out on me before I got inside because without a picture to commemorate the moment I can’t verify my presence on that faithful Saturday. I smiled and nodded as my fellow diners wished me luck. And then as if Paula Deen herself had ordained the bouncer pulled back the rope and said they had a seat for me at the bar. The hostess lead me inside where I was blinded paparazzi flashes that, to my dismay, weren’t for me but for the burgers and shakes that decorated the dimly lit room. My waiter handed me a menu of which I declined because: “I already know what I want” I said with a grin that would put Tom Cruise’s megawatts to shame. My cookie milkshake came out first and it certainly brought all the boys to the yard. Yummy soft whipped vanilla ice cream piled high with whipped cream and topped off with an ice cream cookie sandwich and the glass brimmed with chocolate chip cookie crumble. With much digging I found TWO more cookies for my pleasure! Oh, the ecstasy of my taste buds! I worried I wouldn’t have room for my burger but once it made its appearance my fears melted away, as did my resolve for self-control. This was the meal I was born to eat. Everything had led me up to this point. My choice of spicy chipotle burger with bacon was just spicy enough, seasoned to the gods(!!) and absolutely juicy. You know a burger is good when you don’t reach for the ketchup or mustard. It was so worth the wait.

 

black tap nyc coolie milkshake
Thumbs up for the hipster bar top!!

No, I’m Not Sorry

I fought the urge to say sorry today and won.
It was difficult but when you consider the amount of times women say sorry for no reason, it’s ridiculous. We say sorry when we talk too much. Sorry when we tell someone to do their job. Sorry when we don’t make sense.

I’m not talking about saying sorry for bumping into someone or saying sorry for making a mistake, I mean apologizing for getting the job done before someone else or for “sounding confusing”. These aren’t valid reasons to say the word “sorry”.

You don’t have to make yourself small to gain respect, especially in the workplace. I model my career ambitions after my mother’s. She may have her flaws but if there’s one thing I respect about my mother it is her work manner. She is a boss. Both literally speaking and Beyoncé-speaking. In “Who Run the World” Beyoncé croons “strong enough to bare the children, then get back to business.” That describes my mother to a T. She’s the woman who will enter into any new work environment and kill it. She can command a diverse room of both male and female employees without hesitation. She can tell you what you aren’t doing right and what you’re doing well in the same sentence. She can effectively and efficiently follow protocol without skipping a beat, all while looking fabulous. And one thing my mother does not tolerate is disrespect, neither in the home nor the workplace. So whenever I make a decision I consider what would she do in this moment, what would she think of me? She wouldn’t bend over backwards that’s for damn sure.

Resisting the urge to apologize was one of the hardest thing I had ever done (I actually sat here and retyped an email several times before sending it out). I was so afraid of not being considered polite that I didn’t care if someone was falsely accusing me of incompetency. When I weighed the situation against itself I decided that having my work ethic come into question for no reason was more important than apologizing. In the end the recipient was pleased with my response and I even got some congrats, too.

My Hair, My Identity

I grew up in a sheltered one-parent home on Long Island. My mother was a first generation American who struggled with the desire to preserve her culture while also attempting to raise two strong-willed, young women. How does one teach her daughters to be proud Haitian-Americans in an American world when Haitians are naturally conservative and American ideals run the way of left thinking?

June 2012, I cut my hair. I didn’t just get a regular trim or bob cut, I completely took my hair off and started rocking nappy coils on my head. Up until this point, my head was always adorned in either Moesha-style, butt-grazing single braids or super shiny Japanese looking, shoulder length wigs and way back when I even rocked a jerry curl. You remember the jerry curl, right? That wet curly look made famous by Lionel Richie. I had done so much to my hair that when I look back at pictures now I can’t even believe I was brave enough to leave my house. I was the very definition of a train wreck.

Fast forward to the the summer of 2012, I had made the life changing decision of drastically altering how I would physically present myself to the world. This decision hadn’t come easily as if by the snap of two fingers. No, this was all thanks to the internet or should I say Al Gore, who invented the internet? The internet opened the door for me to experience the world of natural beauty as fashioned by black women. I discovered with a few clicks of my mouse that there were options for my hair other than miserably failing to mask the texture I had been blessed with. I spent hours scrolling through images of beautiful black women sporting beautiful nappy, kinky, curly, coily looks. And whenever I came across a picture of a black girl smiling proudly up at the camera with her chocolate coated crown of spirally kinks, I thought why not me? Why couldn’t I do the same? The thickness, the shape and the length, natural hair screamed health and encouraged me to take leap a faith. “Come on, do it brown girl!” said the queen with the beautiful sun kissed curls poking out freely from every angle on her head.

mL-5

For as long as I can remember, I had felt ashamed of the texture of my hair. Every six weeks I headed to the Dominican salon to get my kitchen and edges straightened out so that the wig I wore looked natural. Yes that was me on a Saturday with $65 in hand waiting eagerly by the hair dryers for my name to be called for my scalp to be scratched, scraped and burned all for the sake of a straight ‘do. And this was tradition, a rite of passage for young Black American women. Was I really giving this up?

I’ll never forget the first time I went back to the Dominican salon after my big chop with my hair all nappy and short the stylist took one look at my head then closed her eyes in exasperation. She tried to coax me into getting a relaxer but I straightened my back and held on tightly to the armrests of my chair in defiance and replied: “No. This is how I’m wearing my hair now.” Elevated by my groundbreaking decision to choose the new alternative Black lifestyle showed in my attitude, walk and speech. I had refused to conform once and this somehow led to me refusing to conform in other areas too.

As a Haitian-American girl I was raised to believe that my having been born into an immigrant family gave me an irrefutable sense of culture not shared by those with a similar complexion. The girl on the uptown bound 1 train may be just the same color as I am but because she was American she was somehow different from me. She had no culture, no history and therefore no sense of self which was why she wasn’t like me. Because of this strict ideology I grew up trying to distance myself from Black American culture. I refused to “talk ghetto”, I refused to admit I liked fried chicken and most importantly of all I didn’t dress “Black” even if I really liked a particular dress. Dressing “Black” entailed tight clothing, loud jewelry and colorful hair. My mother never prescribed to the belief that a woman had to be flashy to get attention. But she didn’t have to, my mother always commanded attention because of her regality, beauty and poise.

Looking back I can’t believe I ever felt that way about the parts of Black American culture that make us beautiful. Now I adorn my hair with flashy colors and bold styles without hesitation. I dress as I please even if it may come off “ghetto” because it’s a look I have come to admire. Yes, I have come to admire the very style I felt obligated to isolate from myself. I guess everything does eventually come full circle.

Poem #0001

 

When does the daydreaming stop?

What age do we become who we ought to be,

Want to be,

Hope to be.

When does the wondering cease and the manifestation begin?

Have dreams no mercy upon the dreamer?

No remorse for the victim?

Forever we chase, forever we lose

Of dreams we have, never ever to choose

(C) JasmineSkyy Forcer 2015

I’m Completely Addicted to OITNB now…

I made the mistake of starting Orange is the New Black in the middle of wrapping up my summer semester. BIG big mistake. I’m addicted. It has completely sidetracked me as I managed to watch 8 episodes before I finally cut myself off. Last week, I challenged myself to set and complete a short list of goals. I was to blog twice on Some Like It Thrift, blog once here, learn origami and hang out with my friends. I ended up completely all except the origami one. Needless to say, origami is officially coming off being that this is the millionth time I’ve set this particular goal.

Despite the fact that I failed to learn the art of paper folding, I did accomplish a few things I hadn’t out on my list. I submitted two articles to two different websites. This isn’t like me at all because usually fear takes over me and I hold myself back. I hold myself back because I’m afraid of rejection or failing in general. I usually have no idea what I’m doing because I don’t want to go down a path that may lead nowhere so I just sort of circle around with no real direction. But not this past week! This past week I actually stepped outside of my comfort zone and sought out some opportunities that would push me towards my goals. It’s new and exciting territory for me.

I’ll make a post once the two articles I submitted get approved or not.

Let’s see how it all goes.