Spring in New York City

Spring is in the air and if you live in New York City, it couldn’t come any sooner. After suffering through a dismal winter full of snowstorms that came as frequently as your weekly trash pick up, just a hint of warmth in the air probably has you salivating at the thought of picnics, strolls in the park, and outdoor concerts. Luckily, NYC offers a wide range of activities for the month of April that are less demanding of the pockets and full of spring fun.

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Check out what has become the unofficial first sign of spring: the blooming of the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden located at 990 Washington Ave, at President Street in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden holds a collection of approximately 220 cherry trees on display, one of the largest in the country, and you can enjoy the beauty (and smell) of springtime through various tours or exhibits offered throughout the month of April.  You can also plan your visit around the exact stage of bloom you wish to see by tracking the blooming progress of these beautifully delicate flowers through the garden’s online CherryWatch Blossom Status Map.

Note: Tours typically take place every Wednesday at 1pm and Saturday at 11am. Prices range from $10 for adults to free for children under the age of 12

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Feeling dramatic? Well, the Tribeca Film Festival may be just the event for you. The festival takes place April 16th to April 27th, and this year Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea will be the host. Not only will you be able to see some incredible independent films that range from documentaries to narrative features and shorts, you may just bump into a celebrity or two, including one its founders, Mr. Robert De Niro, himself.

Note: Here’s the film guide for a complete listing of films featured this year as well as the event guide, where you can find a list of events that are happening during the two week festival.

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If you want to usher in the spring with a toast, head over to Studio Square in Long Island City on April 25th and check out the Five Boro Craft Beer Fest. This indoor/outdoor event features 33 brewers from across all five NYC boroughs that will serve over 300 craft beers, some of which are specially brewed for this event and have never been tasted.

Note: Doors open at 7PM and all attendees must 21 years of age or over.

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For all the foodies out there, the 27th annual Taste of the Nation NYC is the perfect event to indulge in savory dishes and drinks from over 75 of the city’s most renowned chefs and bartenders. Located at 82 Mercer, this event is a little pricey but it’s for a good cause. Proceeds will go towards the No Kid Hungry network, a program dedicated to extending access to food for millions of low-income children across the nation.

Note: The event is held on April 28th. General Admission is from 7-10PM. Tickets can be purchased directly through the No Kid Hungry network’s website.

Tamara Jenkins is a real Jersey girl. She’s independent, opinionated, and loves her sports. When she’s not watching her favorite teams, she’s reading, practicing yoga or working on a few books she hopes will get published one day. She also may or may not be training for a 5k race. With a belief that life is what you make of it, Tamara doesn’t merely want to survive life; she wants to live it.

A Raisin in the Sun: A Broadway Revival

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Denzel Washington is riveting as Walter Lee Younger in this recent revival of the classic play, A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorraine Hansberry. A tribute to the past it is running in the famous Ethel Barrymore Theater in New York City nearly 55 years after its debut in the same theater. The story is based on a black family living in the poor south side of Chicago in the 1950s, whose hopes and dreams are wrapped around a large sum of insurance money inherited after the death of the family’s patriarch.

It can be said that a man doesn’t feel like a man until he’s able to take care of his family in a way the he sees fit. Leading a cast full of complex performances, Washington seems to capture this sentiment as he conveys the in depth struggles Walter Lee has about his manhood. Despite being nearly 20 years the character’s senior, Washington is able to give a credible and dichotomous performance of a man who is desperately clinging onto a sense of idealism that has been crippled with bitterness after years of constant disappointment.

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LaTanya Richardson Jackson reels you in as matriarch, Lena Younger. A staple on Broadway stages, Jackson commands the audience’s attention as she masterfully balances Lena’s proclivity to use wit as a means of getting her point across with her ability to offer her frank assessments of life. Oscar-nominated Sophie Okonedo gives a brilliant performance as Walter Lee’s aloof wife, Ruth, who is so focused on tending to the needs of others, that she forgets to tend to her own.

Another Broadway regular, Anika Noni Rose, is excellent as Walter Lee’s precocious and ambitious younger sister Beneatha Younger. Rose leads her character through an identity crisis as she attempts to combat the rising cynicism that seemingly tries to suffocate her in the same way that it does her brother. Rounding out the outstanding cast in supporting roles are Sean Patrick Thomas (as African national, Joseph Asagai), Bryce Clyde Jenkins (as Walter Lee’s 10 year-old son, Travis) and Jason Dirden (as black elite George Murchison).

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Anticipating the arrival of their windfall, members of the Younger family have conflicting ideas on what to do with it. Walter Lee ambitiously wants to use the money to start his own business as the owner of a liquor store. Beneatha, wrought by her own ambitions, has dreams of becoming a doctor. Lena and Ruth both share the idea of purchasing a modest house they can call their own. As the family struggles with this dilemma, Lorraine Hansberry is able to demonstrate the complexities that come with being poor and black in America. Although this classic is based off a family living in the 1950s, it is still relevant for some black families today who deal with issues of race, class, cultural and personal identity.

A Raisin in the Sun, starring Oscar winner Denzel Washington, is playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theater until June 15, 2014. For tickets visit this website

Tamara Jenkins is a real Jersey girl. She’s independent, opinionated, and loves her sports. When she’s not watching her favorite teams, she’s reading, practicing yoga or working on a few books she hopes will get published one day. She also may or may not be training for a 5k race. With a belief that life is what you make of it, Tamara doesn’t merely want to survive life; she wants to live it.

The Happenings: 11/17/2013-11/24/2013

Los Angeles

 

What: We Run The City: USC vs. UCLA—Running for a cause!

Description: Run or Walk in this 5k athletic event. All proceeds go to the Special Olympics athletes of Southern California.  Anyone is able to participate, so grab a friend and get ready! The run will be held near the USC Campus. This is a great way to build friendships, get in great shape, feel good about yourself, and connect with your inner athlete.

When: Sunday, November 24, 2013 9:00 am

Where: Exposition Park, 701 State Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90037

Cost: $35 registration fee + medal + t-shirt

What: Disney’s THE LION KING: Relive the memory!

Description: A new Broadway rendition of the classic tale of a young lion cub named Simba, and his personal journey to become king of the Pride Land. Directed by Julie Taymor, who conducted such masterpieces as William Shakespeare’s: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the audience will be enraptured by the imagery and the plot of, The Lion King. The heartfelt song by artist Elton John, “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” will be a memory to never forget as the allure of the plot unfolds. Families of all ages will love this musical.

When: Wednesday, 11/20/2013, 8:00 pm (Duration of showing: 2 Hours and 40 Minutes (including intermission) [November 20, 2013 -January 12, 2014(ongoing)

Where: Hollywood Pantages Theatre, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

Cost: Ticket purchase

San Francisco

What: Patchwork Show: Oakland Fall 2013—Discover your inner artist

Description: A display of various artistic displays that range from a handful of talented artists. Artisan food, which is food that is produced non-industrially and more home grown will be available, among varying workshops and arts and crafts activities. The Patchwork Show has marked its seventh anniversary. Items sold by the artists will include jewelry, ceramics, art for the home, and even art for children. This event is very beneficial to families as well as a great cultural experience.

When: Sunday, November 24, 2013 11:00 am – 5:00 pm

Where: Jack London Square, 2 Broadway,  Oakland, CA 94607

Cost: Free!

San Francisco

What: Japanese Kabuki Theatre on Film: Tribute to Shikan-Art in movement

Description: Japanese Kabuki Theatre is the performance of a classical Japanese dance combined with a dramatic story. This event/educational experience will dive deep into the style associated with Nakamura Shikan VII, who is considered to be a legend of Kabuki. The Kabuki theatre has been at the heart of Japanese culture in terms of art and expression, and even dates back to the Edo Period (1603-1867). Don’t speak Japanese? No worries! There will be an English translation, so don’t be discouraged.

When: Sunday, November 24, 2013 2:00 pm

Where: Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, 1840 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94115

Cost: Free!

Houston

 

What: Free Pet Photos with Santa at Houston Humane Society-

Description: Pet owners! Bring your pet to the Houston Humane Society to have his/her picture taken with…Santa Paws! Children are welcome to be in the photos as well. Make this holiday season a festive one! The photo is free, but a donation of a pet food or toy is needed. All pictures are emailed to the pet owners.

When: Saturday, November 23, 2013 11:00 am – 2:00 pm

Where: Houston Humane Society,  14700 Almeda Rd, Houston, TX 77053

Cost: Free!

What: Yelp’s Grape Escape Wine Club! November What: A Thanksgiving Wine Up-A night to relax

Description: Thanksgiving Wine’s galore!

The wine distributor is the Plate and Bottle, and this company sells diverse wines. Stop by for wine tasting.

Admission & RSVP: Attendance is no cost and free, but hurry because space is limited. Every guest needs to RSVP first before attending.

When: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Where: Plate and Bottle,  5411 Morningside Dr., Houston, TX 77005

Cost: Free!

New York City

 

What: Yelp Passport UYE: Yoga Class at Mimi For Me Yoga Studio-Ground yourself and connect with your Chakras!

Description: Join your fellow yogis and ground yourself in this yoga event. Meditation and Yoga are a great method for naturally detoxifying the body of such stress hormones such as Cortisol, which is created from the body’s fight or flight response. The amount of people in the class will be a max of 10, so there is enough room to breathe and the atmosphere is calm. Anyone attending can rent a yoga mat for $1.

When: Saturday, November 23, 2013 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Where: Mimi for Me Yoga, Mind & Body Wellness Studio, 76-11 37th Ave. 2nd Floor,   Jackson Heights, NY 11372

Cost: $10.00

What: “COMMON GROUNDS – Coffee Inspired Art from Around the World” Curated by Andrea Arroyo—Universal Thought!

Description: Bringing universal consciousness to the world! The main area of focus for this event is on the economic, political, environmental and social impact of the coffee trade. That cup of coffee your drinking originates from somewhere! Best to know just how its made. There will be a collection of masterpieces by artists from Mayan villages of Guatemala.

When: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 10:00 am – Monday, December 2, 2013 5:00 pm

Where: The Grady Alexis Gallery, 2710 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

Cost: Free!

Atlanta

What: Dr. Seuss Holiday Show Extravaganza- A merry Seusmass!

Description: This will be an event to discover the art work of the Dr. Seuss Collection, an untimely favorite of children alike. There will be Dr. Seuss books to buy, and some never before seen works by Dr. Seuss. Not to mention, there will be some yummy Dr. Seuss treats! Bring the family!

When: Saturday, November 23, 2013 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Where: Jackson Ann Galleries, 932 Canton St., Roswell, GA 30077

Cost: Free!

What: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis

Description: “I’m gonna pop some tags, only got twenty dollars in my pocket…” Remember those words from the hit Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis? That’s right! Come out and celebrate these acclaimed artists. Both originated from Seattle, Washington. Now they are here to visit Atlanta!

When: Friday, November 22, 2013 7:30 pm

Where: The Arena At Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Pkwy, Duluth, GA 30097

Cost: $29.50 – $49.50

Top 3 Cupcakes Shops in NYC

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If you’re like me you love a great cupcake, or two! New York City is the land of everything, and it has the reputation of being a “concrete jungle,” two characteristics that may make it sometimes that difficult to navigate. There’s a sweeter side to the Big Apple and U Blush is your guide! The top three bakeries serving some of the best cupcakes The City has to offer.

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Magnolia

This classic American bakery offers cupcakes that pack a punch! Topped with rich frosting, moist cake, and delicious sprinkles or candy atop, these delights are a just what you need after a long day in Manhattan. Classic flavors such as vanilla or chocolate  are better than ever, plus additional tastes including German Chocolate, Banana, and Devil’s Food. Perfect for a family outing, this quaint bakery reminds you of vacations at your grandma’s house – tasty treats with milk, in a cozy atmosphere. With a flagship store on the Upper West Side, shops in major U.S. cities and the world, everyone can try this great American tradition – and now online orders mean these cupcakes are really just a click away.

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A nod to the modern age – nothing is average about this New York bakery. With signature cupcakes you won’t find anywhere else, you get a unique blend of fine taste with flavors you don’t typically find in cake form. Try such blends as Girl Scout Thin Mints, Ultimate S’mores, and Milkshake. Even traditional cupcakes flavors such as Red Velvet and Vanilla/Chocolate Sprinkles, are remixed! Special flavors make it a must go for every season. For October, try Halloween’s Candy Corn or Jack O’Lantern and Breast Cancer Awareness month’s cupcake of choice,  Pink Ribbon. From its first store opening on the Upper West Side to its dozens of franchises across Manhattan and  nationwide, every cupcake is a treat! After a trip to this shop, the only thing left will be crumbs.

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Sweet Revenge

The West Village is sweeter than ever thanks to this bakery!  This shop offers the best of cupcakes with a twist!  With a slogan of Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, you can enjoy your favorite cupcakes and wine – a combination that will lift the spirit of any contemporary, professional stylista. Restaurant suggested cupcake/wine pairings such as Dirty & Sweet Smaak Rose Moscato, Pure & Principato Pinot Noir, or Crimson and Cream & Raspberry Bellini are sure to satiate your sweet tooth. If you’re a renegade make your own from a host of Artisan cake flavors including Dulce de Leche, Mayan Chocolate, and Pumpkin Spice and beer, wine, cocktail, and non alcoholic drinks of your preference! With special menus ranging from breakfast to happy hour, come at anytime of the day! Escaping the limitations of corporate America, the success of this shop, really is a Sweet Revenge.

The Happenings: 10/13/2013-10/19/2013

San Francisco

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Who: 43rd Annual Half Moon Bay Art & Pumpkin Festival: The World Pumpkin Capital of Half Moon Bay celebrates its bountiful fall harvest and autumn splendor with a special display of gigantically enormous, heavyweight champion pumpkins, three stages of smashing entertainment, non-stop live music, the Great Pumpkin Parade, a bone-chilling Haunted House, homestyle foods, expert pumpkin carver Farmer Mike sculpting a monster 1,200+ pound pumpkin into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece and more!”

When: Saturday, October 19, 2013 9:00 am – Sunday, October 20, 2013 5:00 pm

Where: Downtown Half Moon Bay, Main Street, Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

Cost: Free

Scotty Boy

Who: Scotty Boy + Fyasko: “Voted one of the Top 10 DJ’s in America the past 3 years by DJ Times Magazine and “Best House DJ” in Las Vegas 2010 & 2011, DJ Scotty Boy has been rocking dance floors across the country for over 20 years. Scotty Boy’s signature style of “Electro Mash” or as he calls it, “Las Vegas Mash Up” has made him a staple in the dance music industry, and one of the most sought after DJ’s in the nightclub scene.”

When: Saturday, October 19, 2013 10:00 pm – Sunday, October 20, 2013 2:00 am

Where: 85 Campton Pl., San Francisco, CA 94108

Cost: $0-$30

Los Angeles

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Who: Skylight Fall Film Festival: “While we prepare the galleries of the Annenberg Space for Photography for our upcoming exhibit, The Power of Photography: National Geographic 125 Years, we encourage you to take part in our Skylight Studios Fall Film Screenings.”

When: Saturday, September 28, 2013 11:00 am – Sunday, October 20, 2013 5:00 pm

Where: Annenberg Space for Photography 2000 Ave Of The Stars, Los Angeles, CA 90067

Cost: Free

Pink Party

Who: The Pink Party: “Each September, fashion meets philanthropy as pink-adorned and-accessorized guests and celebrities join forces to raise awareness of women’s cancers. Style guru Elyse Walker established the Pink Party, now in its eighth year, to benefit Cedars-Sinai Women’s Cancer Program at the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute.”

When: Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Where: Hangar: 8 Santa Monica Airport, 3100 Donald Douglas, Loop North, Santa Monica, CA 904005

Cost: Varies

Houston

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Who: Glam Shop Girls Fall into Fashion: “Glam Shop Girls will put together an over the top event that will bring out local and non-local beauty, fashion, and lifestyle vendors for a one day pop-up shop seeking product exposure and brand recognition in a sophisticated and refined atmosphere.”

When: October 16, 2013 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm

Where: Mr. Peeples, 1911 Bagby St., Houston, TX 77002

Cost: $10-$25

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Who: Soul Night at Hotel Sorella with Roxy Roca: “Time to throw down in H-town! ROXY ROCA lays down the Dynamite Texas Soul for you in the Monnalisa Bar at Hotel Sorella from 10pm until midnight. FREE SHOW!”

When: Saturday, October 19, 2013 10:00 pm

Where: 800 Sorella Ct., Houston, TX 77024

Cost: Free

New York City 

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Who: The Smith Street Fest: “Smith Street Classic is a cocktail competition between some of Smith Street’s foremost cocktail bars and restaurants. Each restaurant is tasked with creating their own signature cocktail for the event comprised of Green Hook Gin and Lejay Lagoute Liqueur.”

When: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 12:00 pm – Thursday, October 31, 2013 11:30 pm

Where: Dassara Brooklyn Ramen, 271 Smith St., Brooklyn, NY 11231

Cost: $35.00

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Who: Empire Drive-In: “Experience another kind of drive-in movie theater. Climb in and out of 60 cars reclaimed from a New York junkyard as you watch a live show or film projected on a big screen.”

When: Friday, October 4, 2013 10:00 am – Sunday, October 20, 2013 10:00 pm

Where: 47-01 111th Street, Queens, NY 11368

Cost: $5-$15

Atlanta

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Who: Feline Film Festival: “The Feline Film Festival showcases the best in feline cinema from around the globe. One film will receive special recognition and win the Pawe d’Or!  The Feline Film Festival is a benefit event for Lifeline Animal Project (and a bastion for bad puns).”

When: Saturday, October 19, 2013 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm

Where: Studioplex on Auburn, 659 Auburn Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30312

Cost: $10.00

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Who: 3rd Annual Naturally Pretty – “Natural Goes Glam”: We are excited to announce the 3rd Annual Naturally Pretty event hosted by Vlogger Natural Chica and Celebrity Makeup Artist MiMi J, benefiting the Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children. This year’s theme is “Natural Goes Glam” and we celebrate with a fashion show featuring designers Rafael Cox, Avnah Long, and Natt Taylor.

When: Thursday, October 17, 2013 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Where: The Defoor Centre, 1710 Defoor Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30318

Cost: $15-$20

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