Tourist Tuesday: Sheepshead Bay/Holocaust Memorial

Tourist Tuesday: Sheepshead Bay/Holocaust Memorial

Have I mentioned I love my neighborhood? I think it bears repeating, I love my neighborhood. This week’s installment of Tourist Tuesday once again features a hidden gem in my own neighborhood. We live between Brighton Beach (highlighted here: and Sheepshead Bay.

Sheepshead Bay, the neighborhood, takes its name from a hotel established in 1844, which, in turn, was named from the bay’s formerly abundant population of sheepshead saltwater fish (which are named for their weird sheep-like teeth… seriously, check out these creepy fish —

Known to be a fishing village in pre-colonial times, in the early 1900’s it had developed into a yacht club haven. The tradition of sailing and boating in the bay continues to this day.

Along the north side of the bay you’ll find a row of restaurants and fishing charters. It’s always vibrant and thrumming with life. Along the south side of the bay are ridiculously expensive homes, with the peninsula terminating in the Kingsborough Community College. A pedestrian bridge connecting these two sides of the bay was first built in 1880.

But at the top of the bay sits a beautiful and sobering tribute; a Holocaust Memorial. In the Spring and Summer the area feels almost secluded with trees and foliage forming a barrier around the memorial from the car and foot traffic surrounding it. In the late Fall and early Winter the ground plants get cut down, giving a more open view of the beautiful memorial. Conceived in 1986, the park was officially dedicated in 1997.

The memorial was designed to evoke tombstones, with 234 markers clustered in two areas. Some stones are inscribed with quotations, individual and family names, and historic events (

It’s worth a visit if you can make it to the neighborhood, and if you’re a bit peckish after your visit there are tons of restaurants to choose from along Emmons Avenue (burgers, bakeries, Turkish, crepes… pretty much anything you can think of). Also! There are swans in the bay! They’re beautiful and peaceful to watch.

Tourist Tuesday: Brighton Beach

Tourist Tuesday: Brighton Beach

Since I’m actually headed out of town this week, I decided to stay a little closer to home for this week’s installment of Tourist Tuesday.

So, we live between the neighborhoods of Brighton Beach and Sheepshead Bay. I love our neighborhood. It’s relatively quiet… I mean, as quiet as a New York City neighborhood gets. Our apartment is within walking distance of two train stations, the beach, grocery stores, and restaurants.

Once characterized by the New York Times as the “grumpy neighbor” of Coney Island, Brighton Beach is a small mostly Russian neighborhood (it’s also known as “Little Odessa,”) though the demographics have shifted some in recent years, with more immigrants settling from the Middle East and Asian countries.

Until 1868 the area was mostly farmland, but William A Engeman purchasable 39 lots and converted the area into a resort. By 1919 the demographics of the area had shifted such, that most in the neighborhood were first or second-generation Jewish Americans; this number only grew from the influx of Holocaust survivors that settled in the area.

In the 1980’s a new influx of immigrants began to arrive from Russia, transforming the neighborhood from a primarily Jewish neighborhood to a Russian neighborhood.

As for my visit to Brighton Beach, the beach itself is pretty quiet in the wintertime, but the scenery is no less captivating. The beach is a great place to go to escape the overcrowded city streets.

Tourist Tuesday: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Tourist Tuesday: Brooklyn Botanic Garden

I recently read an article that designated NYC (tied with Singapore) as the most expensive city to live in… yay for winning! And seriously, a lot of things are really expensive (housing, food, fuel, tolls, parking, entertainment… I think that covers just about everything), however…, big ol’ however, there are some things you can find to do for free sometimes.

We’ve lived in NYC for almost five years (our five-year anniversary is in February) and we have never stepped foot in the Botanic Garden. Partly because time, but partly because money. It’s $18 per adult, which isn’t crazy, but I can walk to the beach for free or take the subway and visit Central Park for free… there are just a lot of free options around

People have been encouraging us to go since we got here. Well, we recently discovered that we can get “affiliate” tickets to some attractions for free with our library card through the Culture Pass. They don’t make it particularly easy, and some of them are limited to once a calendar year, but FREE! YES! And the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is one of those attractions. So you have to reserve the ticket through the library, and then you have to use that ticket to purchase a ticket from the attraction. Also, and I’m going to bold this for any of the New Yorkers that might be reading this and don’t know, the culture pass ticket will indicate that you reserve for a specific day, but you can use the tickets anytime in a 30-day period, this is a lie! You HAVE TO USE THE TICKETS ON THE SPECIFIC DAY. We learned this the hard way when we arrived and they wouldn’t honor my husband’s tickets. He had made a reservation for him and his mom on one day, and then realized we weren’t going to be able to go on that day, so when I got my ticket I booked it for the right day. So we had two tickets they wouldn’t honor and two tickets that they would. It was confusing but worked out okay in the end.

Obviously, a botanic garden is going to be more exciting in the spring and summer, and maybe the fall with the leaves changing color, but don’t let that deter you from visiting in the winter, there is still plenty of beautiful things to see in the winter (but I will for sure be back in the springtime… I want to see the cherry blossoms).

So, on a chilly, rainy Sunday morning we headed off to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Since it was raining and we had my mother-in-law with us we decided to drive rather than take the subway. Traffic wasn’t terrible and there is a paid parking lot right next door (shared with the Brooklyn museum). We paid just over $10 for around three hours. Which is super cheap parking in the city.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is comprised of 52 acres and officially opened in 1911 with native plants being the first display created.

The Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden is one of the first stops in the garden, the design was completed in 1915 making it one of the first public Japanese gardens in the U.S. (it’s one of the oldest outside of Japan), and it is a lovely, peaceful place to sit and enjoy being in nature. The area is wooded with evergreen trees (cedar trees, Japanese white pine, eastern white pine, Japanese red pine), and lots of maple and cherry trees.

The Cherry Esplanade was closed, and we skipped the rose garden since there aren’t any roses this time of year (seriously, I can’t wait to go back in the spring) so we walked through the Rock Garden. There were some lovely trees and lots of plants to enjoy, but I was a little disappointed in the rock portion of this garden. I love rocks, so I was hoping for a big variety, with lots of identification tags, but alas, just a few were identified, it was mostly trees and plants around some boulders.

The Herb Garden, on the other hand, was fabulous; tons of plants with descriptions along with the medicinal uses of the plants or historical origins/uses. Granted, a lot of the plants were cut down for the winter, but the identifications were still there!

At this point, it was cold and rainy and we were in need of a bathroom break, so we cut through the Water Garden to go to the Steinhardt Conservatory. The conservatory was completed in 1988 and its collections are amazing. I feel like I’m using a lot of superlatives, but really, if you enjoy outdoor spaces or plants, it’s hard not to geek out over all the things.

The conservatory is made up of six areas. The Trail of Plant Evolution is on the main level; the room is warm and brimming with plants from all over, including a baby Baobab tree from Africa. Baobab trees have a spot in my heart from my time in Malawi. They’re stunning majestic trees, and how they survive drought conditions is rather marvelous (they are a “stem-succulent” tree and they store water in their stems [trunks] Also on the main level is the Bonsai Museum. I’ve been fascinated by bonsai since I was a little kid; I still have the book my mom bought me when I was ten on how to grow bonsai, it’s a cheesy book written in the 70’s, but I love it. Across from the Bonsai Museum is the Warm Temperate Pavilion… I’m not saying it was boring, but I just saw the place a day ago and I can’t really remember what the room was like.

The downstairs pavilions include the Aquatic House and Orchid Collection, the Desert Pavillion, and the Tropical Pavilion. I could live in these rooms. There is something so special about being surrounded by so many plants. The air in each of the pavilions is conditioned specifically to support the plant life… humidity levels, air circulation, temperature, and the air just felt good, like you could breathe more deeply.

10/10 go visit the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens any time of year. I’ll probably post an update when I go in the spring or summer.

Tourist Tuesday: Brooklyn Bridge Park

Tourist Tuesday: Brooklyn Bridge Park

So, I am not a native New Yorker. I grew up in a relatively small city in Northern California (Chico and spent my teen years in a small suburb in Northeast Ohio (Cuyahoga Falls I’m not a country girl, but maybe country adjacent? Regardless, I am not a city girl at heart. I’m used to lawns and gardens, forests and wilderness. None of which are particularly plentiful in New York City.

That being said, I’m extraordinarily appreciative of the fact that NYC does it’s best to cultivate and utilize green spaces. Given my propensity for being outdoors, I’m sure a number of my Tourist Tuesday posts will feature one of the many beautiful parks or outdoor spaces around the city.

On Monday evenings (at 7:30pm) my wonderful husband broadcasts a Bible study live on YouTube ( He loves to hit the road and broadcast from outdoors. So I joined him for a trek to Brooklyn Bridge Park.

We chose to drive to the park this trip, as we can usually find parking in the colder weather months, especially in the evening. Don’t bother trying to park in the warmer months, it’s nearly impossible. You can also get to the park by subway, but be prepared for a mile or so walk once you get off the train. Also, pay attention to the hours of the different piers; some of them close earlier than others.

Brooklyn Bridge Park is 1.3 miles long encompassing 85 acres (!!) along the East River waterfront. Honestly, there is so much to do at this park: there are tennis courts, basketball courts, wooded areas, volleyball courts, soccer fields, running trails, ping pong tables, kayaking, pickleball, fishing, and over 120 different bird species for bird watching. But my favorite thing is the absolutely fabulous view of the Manhattan skyline and the Brooklyn Bridge.

Pier Three is my favorite place to visit. It’s a wooded area with secluded grassy areas and tons of benches facing the water and the city view.

The area has gone through many different iterations since the mid-1600’s. Mostly serving as a trade route, starting with small boats and ferries, moving on to steam powered ferries in the 1800’s until railroad lines were installed in the 1850’s which lead to the construction of massive warehouses along the ferry landings and piers that jutted out from the land. Once the Brooklyn Bridge opened in 1883 the ferry trade ended and the area went through a period of neglect until the 1950’s and the construction of the BQE, which revitalized the area… for a little while. By the 1970’s the area was mostly abandoned and decrepit. In 1984 the Port Authority announced plans to sell the piers for commercial development. It wasn’t until 1998 that the planning for the Brooklyn Bridge park started in earnest, with ground being broken in February of 2008. The first pier opened to the public in 2010 with additional areas or piers opening every subsequent year until 2021 (except 2016 and 2019). You can learn more about the history of this beautiful park here:

Mint Chocolate Swirl Meringue Cookies

Mint Chocolate Swirl Meringue Cookies

I’ve been experimenting with meringue cookies lately. I made a batch on a whim, and they were pretty good, but I wasn’t obsessed with them until a month or so ago.

Lewis and I decided to have lunch after our dentist appointment at a little cafe in Bay Ridge (a neighborhood in Brooklyn), and I noticed some ugly looking cookies that *might* have been meringue. So I asked our server, sure enough, it was different flavored meringue cookies. So I got one of each to try (I’d only made vanilla and chocolate swirl to that point), and I was so disappointed. The texture was terrible and the flavor was so subtle. So I decided to start experimenting, because clearly these could be done better (not that I plan on telling them that their cookies are terrible, but still… why have bad cookies when you can have great cookies?). And these are great cookies! They’re sweet with a crispy outside and a bit of a chewy center.

This is one flavor version, the base cookie recipe can be adapted pretty easily. I’ve made green tea, pistachio (still perfecting that one), and cherry almond so far.

I’m trying not to be the annoying blogger that forces you to read ten years of background on a dumb recipe. So here it is:


  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1 cup of cane sugar (I use Domino brand because it’s a more fine grain)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon of mint extract (this will produce a very mild mint flavor, add more if you want a stronger mint flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon of cornstarch
  • 2-4 ounces of dark chocolate chips


  • Melt chocolate chips and set aside to cool
  • Heat oven to 350°
  • Line a large baking tray with silicone baking mats or with parchment paper
  • In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, whip egg whites for a couple of minutes until frothy
  • Slowly add sugar and whip until glossy and stiff (you should be able hold the whisk and the egg mixture won’t move)
  • Add vanilla and mint extract and whip until stiff again.
  • Sift the cornstarch and cream of tartar onto the egg mixture. And fold over with a rubber scraper until combined.
  • Drizzle the chocolate around the edges of the pastry bag with a star tip.
  • Fill with the pastry bag with the egg mixture
  • pipe cookies into a swirl pattern onto prepared baking tray
  • Place pan in the oven
  • Turn oven down to 200°
  • Bake for 90 minutes
  • Turn off the oven and allow the cookies to cool in the oven until completely cooled (oftentimes I’ll make the cookies in the evening and leave them in the oven overnight to cool)