Blog Component

Here's Why New Yorkers Think Shirley Chisholm Deserves a Monument - The Cut

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I Learned to Make Granny Squares!


I Learned to Make Granny Squares!

Written by Sarah on February 3rd, 2015 Posted in crochet, granny square

The votes are in! It was a tight race but you guys decided that I should learn to crochet granny squares. And, boy, have I!

granny squares

I pulled out some stash yarn and experimenting with basic granny square patterns. Quickly, I realized that I really didn’t know how to crochet at all. Whenever I ran into something I didn’t know how to do (double crochet? triple crochet??), I’d check YouTube and figure it out. (I tend to use Lion Brand’s videos. It’s important to use a quality source that you can trust when you’re learning online.) It was remarkably easy to learn. I can’t believe it took me so long to try it.

I didn’t have much leftover yarns that matched each other but I ended up making around 20 granny squares in a week. They’re ADDICTIVE. Who knows what I’m going to do with all of these mismatched granny squares (I said, “I’ll make a bunting!” a hundred times. I do not need more than one granny square bunting.) There are lots of free patterns that I’ve been trying out and I’ve been getting so much inspiration from this Pinterest board. I couldn’t stop. The different shapes really excite me, circles inside of hexagons, flowers inside squares. Each one feels kind of magical. I’m really obsessed with this sunburst pattern. I’ve made so many of them.

I’m not very good at crochet yet. I don’t know which hook to use with which weight yarn the way that I would with knitting needles. I’m not terribly fast since (yet). There are some other things that make me feel like I won’t be giving up knitting any time soon. But in the end, I’m loving the finished product. I’m definitely going to make a lot more granny squares. And, seriously, I love that new-craft feeling. I keep holding granny hexagons up in Jon’s face and yelling, “I did that! Look!” That feeling never gets old.

Will you learn to make granny squares? Have you tried them? Did you think they were easy?

Tags: fresh stitches, granny square, learning, new skill, pinterest, sunburst, sunburst granny square, tutorial, vote, what should i learn next, youtube

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Thanksgiving staples: turkey, gravy, stuffing, sweet potato something, and CORNBREAD. Ironically, I was never the biggest cornbread fan growing up! However, since perfecting my gluten-free cornbread recipe, I’ve become a cornbread fiend. Simple, tasty, and delicious; my fellow gluten-free need to whip up this dish this Thanksgiving!

Shoutout to Califia Farms… this recipe is dairy-free, too!

What You Will Do:
1 cup plus 2T gluten-free all-purpose flour

1  cup plus 2T gluten-free cornmeal
1/3 cup organic cane sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1  cup Califia Farms almond milk
¼ cup dairy-free butter

What You Will Do:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a alrge bowl, GF All Purpose flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a small bowl, whisk eggs. Add melted dairy-free butter, almond milk, and honey.
Pour liquid bowl into the large bowl containing the dry ingredients. Mix until fully incorporated.

Pour into a 9” x 9” bread/brownie pan, and cook for 23 minutes.
Let your bread cool, and top with honey for serving! I added a little peanut butter and walnuts, too!


Wegmans readies for opening of first New York City store - Supermarket News

Wegmans Food Markets plans to open its long-awaited first New York City store this fall.

Wegmans said Monday that it has begun hiring and training for the 74,000-square-foot store, which is slated to anchor the $140 million redevelopment of the Admirals Row site in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Rochester, N.Y.-based grocer announced the project in May 2015.

Plans call for Wegmans to hire about 500 people for the Brooklyn store, including 150 full-time positions. The company said most employees will be hired locally. Full-time positions to be filled range from entry-level management and customer service to overnight grocery and culinary roles, such as chefs and line cooks. The chain also has started hiring for some part-time bakery and culinary positions and said it will begin filling other part-time roles at a later date.

Located on Flushing Avenue in Admirals Row, the Brooklyn Wegmans will feature a second-floor mezzanine with nearly 100 seats for the in-store café. That space also will include a bar that serves food, wine, beer and spirits.

The site is directly across from the 3,000-resident Farragut Houses and near the Ingersoll and Walt Whitman Houses and growing residential neighborhoods in Downtown Brooklyn, Fort Greene and Clinton Hill. Besides the Wegmans supermarket, the development will include 78,000 square feet of retail space, 126,000 square feet of light industrial space and 7,000 square feet of community facility space. 

Wegmans’ Brooklyn store is one of three new locations — all in new markets — due to open this year, lifting the grocery chain over the 100-store mark. The company plans to open a 113,000-square-foot store in Virginia Beach, Va., on April 28 and a 100,000-square-foot store in Raleigh, N.C. No opening date has been announced yet for the Raleigh location.

The Raleigh store will expand Wegmans’ market area to seven states. The chain currently has 98 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Massachusetts. Its most recent opening, a 120,000-square-foot store in Lancaster, Pa., came in late September.

Wegmans in late October announced a fifth planned location for North Carolina, in Wake Forest. Other stores slated for the state are in Cary, West Cary and Chapel Hill.

Other new stores planned by Wegmans include locations in Middletown, N.J.; Harrison, N.Y.; Rockville, Md.; Washington, D.C. (in the former Fannie Mae campus); and Alexandria, Arcola, Reston and Tysons Corner, Va. 


Take the Gun, leave the Swedish Meatballs

It started with me whining about not having enough storage space for all my shit because I’m an American person and have way too many of everything. I’d surveyed several options for extending our clothing storage beyond two small closets, and came upon a narrow shelving unit from the compressed cardboard knitting factory formerly known as Ikea. I say formerly because I can no longer bring myself to call this place anything but The Nefarious Swede. My mother always told me it wasn’t nice to hate people– and I don’t. But this is a company, and it feels less offensive to hate them and share my contempt publicly–here, to my loyal fourteen followers who always nurse my wounds and have my back.


Actually, I should clear this up– my beef is not with the store itself. I’ve never really had a bad experience shopping in one of their massive warehouses. It’s hard not to succumb to the allure of Ikea when you live in a city, because as nice and sturdy and reliable as genuine hardwood furniture is, if you live in a small NYC apartment, actual grown-up furniture doesn’t always fit, and if you happen to move, hauling heavy wood is a huge burden. Aside from the assembly part, buying from Ikea has always been easy and affordable. In fact, I’ve always considered a trip to Ikea an hypnotic experience, running through pre-assembled rooms like a kid in a fun house, one filled with artificial wood in bleached out colors and unyielding, under-stuffed sofas. They have a great selection of fresh plants and practical storage options. I’ve never bought a toilet brush anywhere else. I don’t love their frozen meatballs, but I can respect a place that sells them.

My complaint today (and perhaps forevermore, as I’m feeling particularly embittered about this) is with the customer service hotline associated with their online store. If that sounds super specific, it’s because it is. Apparently the online service is run by a completely different company than the original store-based Ikea. That’s what the robotic customer service rep at the store told us anyway. I think she was trained in evasiveness, and she was remarkably effective.

I’m taking this to the blog not just to bitch, but to pass along the word to others, because we had an incredibly frustrating experience but it’s nothing compared to the seemingly endless roster of complaints  other desperately raging consumers have posted online.

Without further ado and without sounding completely melodramatic…


I rush home on Saturday afternoon to wait for BILLY. Billy is tall, white and slender, with four long doors and a flexible cardboard back. The automated message predicted his arrival for sometime between 2 and 6, and much to my delight (TM), he arrived at exactly 2:20. Two sincerely unhappy, possibly mute young men carried him in, piece by piece in long cardboard boxes, plopping them in a pile on the living room floor. They seemed to understand my verbal and non-verbal cues, but refused to utter a word or even crack a vaguely pleasant smile. When I reflect back, I imagine it’s because they respond to so many complaints they’ve likely been advised to just drop things off and get the hell out of dodge.

Vin immediately gets to work building BILLY. In my imagination, he’s looked forward to this moment all week, as he is able to fulfill his life’s purpose putting the pieces of his wife’s poor financial decisions together. There are about six boxes to go through, all filled with long planks of compressed wood chips sandwiched between a thin layer of plastic. He builds one half of the cabinet. Unfinished, it tips forward and shakes slightly, because Ikea pieces must be drilled into the wall to ensure they don’t tip over and kill your children. Vin moves to open the next set of boxes to complete the build, and realizes that one of the most critical pieces is chopped in three sections like the sad leftovers from a $10 karate lesson.


A feeling of dread washes over me, as a simple online order just became a complicated problem. I move to my computer to look up the number for their customer service line.

For a truly miserable time, call

“Thanks for calling IKEA. Your call is important to us (LIES! ALL LIES!!). The approximate wait time is 60 minutes.”

I don’t know what’s worse, being told up front that the wait time is 60 minutes, or just hanging on and learning as you go. I put the phone on speaker, and do a few quiet household tasks. I couldn’t vacuum like I really needed to, so instead make some infused artisanal butter with rehydrated, pureed porcinis and a pinch of sea salt. It had been on my to-do list for a few weeks. This is what middle-aged people without children do on Saturdays– wait for shitty furniture deliveries and make homemade mushroom butter.

A rep finally picked up my call and couldn’t have been more apologetic. She kept saying she was sorry, and she really nailed an earnest, authentic tone. She validated my frustration and disappointment, which helped me manage both better. By the end of our 30-minute conversation, she’d let me know that my complaint had been registered, and that someone should be dropping off a new piece in the next two weeks.

“The next two weeks? Can I at least schedule a day for that to happen?” I ask.

“Noooooo, you can’t schedule it. What’ll happen is, the day before they drop it off, we’ll notify you by phone that it’s coming.”

“So I might get a call on Wednesday alerting me that the delivery is happening Thursday when I have to be at work?”

“Exactly. Thanks for calling, and thank you for shopping Ikea!” CLICK.

I live the rest of my life that week like I normally do. I prep food, go to my job, avoid the gym and tip-toe around a hulking half-constructed wardrobe cabinet while trying to get dressed and undressed every day, hoping its untethered base doesn’t tip over and give me a concussion.

On Tuesday afternoon, I get a voicemail from Ikea customer service letting me know that my replacement piece will be arriving between the hours of 2:00 and 6:00 the next day. Well that’s just super, I think to myself, before picking up the phone to see if my retired in-laws feel like hanging out on my couch for a few hours the next afternoon. They’re like the best parent people in the world– we never leave their house without a paper plate of leftover lasagna and every time our basement flooded while we were stuck at work, they came over to mop it up. But they weren’t available the next day, so I knew I’d have to get back on the horn with Ikea customer service. Expecting to be put on hold, I waited until I got home from work, changed into loose clothing, took a good nice pee, then parked myself on a cushiony chair purchased from a steadfast, reputable competitor.


CB2…You da real MVP

I dial the number and, as expected, am told the hold time will be 65 minutes. I have had a long, draining day at work and am having a hard time managing my own frustration about spending my evening this way. I feel cheated out of my recovery time and the longer this hold time runs over the appointed 65 minutes, the angrier I feel. By the time the rep pics up the call (at 75 minutes), I am close to tears.

“Hello, thank you for calling Ikea customer service. How can I help you?”

Right out the gate, this rep’s tone is different than the initial lady. She sounds like someone who’s been shoveling other peoples’ shit all day, and no longer has the strength to lift a shovel. Her tone was flat, to the point and if I may say so, a bit curt.

I will have a hard time proceeding with the business end of this call until I am able to express my feelings, so I just go right for it.

“First thing first, I have to say, I am very, very upset with Ikea right now. I know it’s not you personally, it’s more of a systemic problem, but this is the second time in a week I’ve been on hold over an hour with you guys and it just seems like there has to be a better way. I mean seriously, you must get complaints about this all day long.”

“Yes, I do. What is yours?” Some people are born to do what they do for a living. This lady was clearly one of those people.

I tell her that I need to reschedule a delivery, with an actual firm delivery date because I have a job and have not yet reached the stage of life where I can afford Ethan Allen furniture or spontaneously call out the next day for a shitty IKEA delivery. She says FINE, we’ll schedule a pick-up this Saturday.

“Pick up? No, I need a drop off. I need you to replace a broken piece so we can finishing building this half-built cabinet.”

“Yes, Ma’am–I understand that. But first we need to schedule a pick-up for the broken piece.” she says.

“So you’ll schedule a time to drop off the new piece while picking up the broken one. That’s fine. Let’s do it.”

“No, first we’ll schedule a time to pick up the broken piece. After we do that, you’ll call us back and we’ll give you another date to drop off the new one.” I start to feel a heat at the base of my earlobes.

“Are you telling me this requires two separate delivery dates, and that you’re prioritizing picking up your broken piece over giving me the new one?” I just wanted to make sure I was hearing her correctly so that my head didn’t set itself on fire and launch itself into orbit for no good reason.

“Yes, that’s right.” She actually sounded giddy telling me this.

“Listen, again, I understand you’re not the one making big decisions about the way your company is run, but this is just terrible. I’ve now been on the phone with Ikea for three hours this week, and this problem won’t be resolved until I schedule two more deliveries with you. This is ridiculous. Can I just take this thing to the store and get a new one?”

“Yes you can do that.”

“Alright, fine. That’s easier. But let me just add that the whole reason I ordered online was so I wouldn’t have the hassle of going to the store. I’m very disappointed with Ikea. Can I get a refund or something? How about you return my shipping charges?”

“Well, ma’am we want you to leave your Ikea experience with a good taste in your mouth, so I’d be delighted to give you some food coupons to use in our store.”

I have sampled Ikea’s frozen salmon fillet with lemon-dill sauce and seasonal mush vegetables, and while it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth, I wouldn’t voluntarily sign up to brunch at the Red Hook Ikea unless the situation were truly dire, meaning all 25,000 of New York City’s restaurants spontaneously went out of business and their 50-cent hot dogs and limp pancakes were the last remaining food sources.

“Yeah, no offense, but your food costs like three dollars. I don’t really want food coupons. I would like some actual money returned.” I say. This whole thing is starting to offend me, and I don’t even offend that easily.

“Okay, well you can discuss that with the customer service reps at the store when you make the return. Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

“Got a time machine?” I considered asking. Instead, I answered no, put my head down on the table and let out a soft, defeated whimper.



Saturday we drive to Ikea and Vinny is ready to throw down. He’s the nicest person in the world but when it comes to customer service or business problems, watch out, cause that long-haired devil ain’t afraid to bite with fangs. He preps me in the car.

“Listen, Jenn. Don’t do that thing where you just give in. You’re too nice. We’re getting our money back.” The man is on a mission and I’m still sorta fired up too, but am gradually losing steam with this project. We park the car and make our way to the downstairs area, where half the people are sitting around with grim faces and deconstructed cribs.

I tell myself… Do not be distracted by the healthy looking plants everyone has in their carts! No lingonberry jam! You don’t need more cheap glassware!! Don’t go upstairs! If you go upstairs, they win! I see a few people walk by with soft-serve cones. They’re only a dollar but I can’t buy one since I turned down those stupid food coupons out of fucking principle.

They finally call our number and we stride up to the counter. I am silent, and let my husband do the talking. I am done defending my case with Ikea and just want this shit behind me. Vin ain’t mucking around though, and neither is this customer service rep. My husband explains the situation firmly, directly, and somewhat dramatically. A real injustice has been made here and we want to see some corrective action. The customer service rep says nothing, walks back to the loading dock and brings us a new piece.

“Well, what about the refund on the shipping charges?” Vin asks. “The lady on the phone said you could handle that for me.”

“No, I can’t do that. Ikea store is run by a totally different company than Ikea online. You’ll have to call their customer service line to get that taken care of.” So Ikea-online and Ikea-store just ping-pong their complaints back and forth to one another? If so, that’s Machiavellian but brilliant.

“I’d rather take one of your lukewarm, under-seasoned meatballs and shove it in my eye socket than call that line again.” I didn’t say this, but I wish I had. What a visual! Instead I shrug my shoulders and thank her for her time. She places the new box of shelves on our flat cart, and we slowly roll away– defeated.

“Man, what happened to you?” asked Vin. He had a look of complete disgust on his face. “You totally wilted.”

“You know what, Vin. We’ve got the piece we need, and now I want to put this behind me. It’s Saturday. And on Saturday, I choose happiness.”

He rolled his eyes so far in his head I didn’t see them again until the next weekend. We went home, and like a phoenix rising from the ashes, BILLY was finally standing tall, in one piece. We’ll see how long he lasts.



A few weeks later, I received an envelope in the mail from Ikea. My name and address were hand-written for a personal, yet completely unprofessional touch.

I opened it up, expecting a check for $30 to cover the shipping charges. Inside were five fucking food coupons.

The first five people to write a comment on this post will receive one of these golden tickets, but with a caveat. If you use them in your local Ikea store, you must go loaded with a strong hand gesture and a flaming bag of poop. Tell ‘em Jenn said Glada Helgdagar*.

*Happy Holidays, in Swedish

Jenn P.

30-something psychotherapist. Loves cooking, hosting parties, exploring new places. Texan by birth. New Yorker by choice. Likes to tell little stories. Pull up a chair; I'll tell you one.


Why I Love the New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show (+ Discount Tickets!)

NYBG Holiday Train Show Discount

The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show is one of my favorite things to see during winter in NYC. Local or tourist, young or old—no one is immune to the charms of this magical NYC experience. Vintage toy trains weave their way through twinkling, miniature versions of 175+ landmarks crafted from natural materials set in the stunning Enid A. Haupt Conservatory.

Train lovers and kids will be overjoyed, New Yorkers will smile at lesser-known architectural gems and tourists will have fun seeing all the famous New York City buildings in one place, from the Statue of Liberty to Rockefeller Center. New buildings are added every year—2018 brings One World Trade Center & ferries. Some families make it a tradition and pay a visit every year. It really is one of the best things to do in NYC during the holidays and something you need to see at least once, if not annually.

I recommend visiting The New York Botanical Garden Holiday Train Show during a weekday if you can to avoid the crowds. It runs every year from mid-November through the 3rd week of January, so visiting during November or January is also an option.

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Affiliate post. Some events may have ticketing fees.


Racial Slur Scrawled On Historic African Burial Ground Monument In New York City

New York City police are searching for the culprit who left hate-filled graffiti last week on the historic African Burial Ground National Monument in Manhattan. The vandal’s message, penned in black marker on a monument plaque, contained a racist slur and suggested black people should be killed.

The offensive graffiti was quickly removed, but community leaders expressed outrage that no one has been apprehended.

“Some lowlife come and on this monument right back here and write ‘kill the N’s.’ You must be out of your mind if you think we’ll remain silent. We want an arrest,” state Assemblyman Charles Barron said on Sunday, according to CBS News.

(A warning to readers: An uncensored image of the racist graffiti is posted below.)

Located steps from City Hall, the monument marks a burial ground that contains about 15,000 skeletal remains of African-Americans who lived and worked in colonial New York. Those buried at the site, many of whom were slaves, weren’t allowed to be interred in traditional church cemeteries at the time of their deaths.

According to the monument’s website, the site is the “oldest and largest known excavated burial ground in North America for both free and enslaved Africans. It protects the historic role slavery played in building New York City.” 

The vandalism at the monument occurred Thursday — the same day that Brooklyn’s Union Temple was vandalized with violent anti-Semitic messages, and the same week that several graffitied swastikas were found in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Days earlier, on Oct. 27, a gunman entered the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people in the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history. 

Dermot Shea, NYPD chief of detectives, told reporters last week that the city had seen an increase in “anti-Semitic hate crimes, particularly swastikas, on buildings in parts of the city,” according to The New York Times

On Sunday, the New York-based group Jews for Racial & Economic Justice responded to the vandalism of the African Burial Ground monument with a message of solidarity.

“Our communities will keep holding each other close. We will not turn on each other. We are in this together,” the group wrote on Twitter.


The colorful history of the New York City subway map revealed - Fox News

New York City, 1932 - at that point, the New York City subway has been around for a whopping 28 years. With 472 station stops, around 800 miles of track, and over 20 different subway lines, one might be shocked to hear that in 1932, the NYC subway system was attempting to label all 27 subway lines with only 3 colors. To even get close to understanding how NYC subways went from 3 colors to today’s 10, one would have to speak to a man named Peter Lloyd.

Lloyd is an amateur historian of the New York City subway system. He not only knows the system’s ins and outs he also knows the story of the creative geniuses that brought the system to where it is today. The New York City subway system has a long and outstanding history, but in order to learn where the color-coding system originated, we need to talk about 2 key players.

First and foremost, there is Raleigh D’Adamo, winner of a contest that the New York City Transit Authority held in 1964, and technically the creator of the modern color-coding system that exists within the NYC subway system today.


In 1964, the NYCTA contest called on graphic designers to attempt to design a way to organize the extremely disorganized subway system. D’Adamo wasn’t a graphic designer by profession, but he was a subway map guru and a man with an idea, so he entered the contest and to his surprise, he was one of three winners.

Although not the focus of the contest, his background in practicing law came in handy; D’Adamo says, “to explain it [his idea] I wrote a 19-page report comparing New York City’s system with other systems like London and Paris.” D’Adamo went on to explain that the key phrase that caught the eyes of the judges was, “It’s clear that the maps of the New York City subway system are using too few colors to do too much work.” All in all, D’Adamo's idea was that every line would be assigned a color, and so the modern coding system was born.

This organizational strategy worked for a few years but having a map with over 20 colors on it eventually started to confuse people. This is where John Tauranac enters the picture. Today, Tauranac is a professor at NYU, but back in the day, he was the leader of a key team in the MTA when the NYC subway map was going through some important changes. To simplify the color system, Tauranac and his team decided to incorporate something called “trunk lines.”


Trunk lines made it so subway lines that ran on the same avenue were all labeled the same color. Lloyd explains it best when he says, “Lexington Avenue has 3 lines running down it, the 4, 5 and 6. Now back in the 60’s and 70’s each of those routes had its own color. John Tauranac’s idea was to paint those 3 routes the same color and that meant he can draw a single line instead of 3 lines, saving space.” This trunk line system is still in effect, and New York City has John Tauranac to thank for the easy-to-read maps of today.

New York City is home to the largest rapid transit system in the world. However, when it comes to reliability, it finds itself towards the bottom of the list. This may change, but after understanding the rich and longstanding history of the NYC subways, it can be agreed upon that the properly organized and accurately colored system we currently have is far better than the one of bygone days.

See the exclusive video interview with Lloyd above to get the full story.


Colette Malouf Sample Sale

WHAT: Colette Malouf Sample Sale

WHY: Luxury hair accessories, jewelry, and cold weather accessories at 80% off retail at the Colette Malouf Sample Sale.

WHEN: 11/27 - 11/28; Tue-W (11-7)

WHERE: 594 Broadway
Suite 1216, 12th Floor
between Prince and Houston Streets
New York, NY 10012

For the complete list of today's sales and sample sales check HERE.

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