Sunday, November 10, 2019

My Favorite Podcasts: Business Edition


I've been an avid podcast listener for a while now, and my go-to genre is business topics and interviews. Podcasts feel like an engaging and often enjoyable way to take in the latest developments and get the perspectives of experts. I can also listen to them while cleaning or doing work that doesn't require full concentration, and over time I've accumulated a list of favorites, listed here for those who may be on the hunt for something new to listen to:

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Hudson Valley Apple Picking: A Day at Harvest Moon / Outhouse Orchards


A popular New England activity that I'd never actually tried before is apple picking, which for New Yorkers means going upstate about 1.5 hours to one of the quaint apple farms and markets between September and October.

This year, I decided to brave the commute and headed to Harvest Moon Farm & Orchard and its neighbor conveniently across the street Outhouse Orchards in North Salem, NY. Note I don't have a car (as with most city-dwellers), so the ability to commute in via Metro North from the city was critical.

Below are my tips on getting in from NYC, as well as quick thoughts on both orchards.

Transportation


If you're coming in from the city, the best option is to take the Hudson Metro North Line from Grand Central to Croton Falls (saw many similar apple adventurers with us on the way up). The ride is 1.5 hours each way, and costs $15 each way / $30 roundtrip per person during non-peak hours.

Trains over the weekend come about every hour; download the MTA Train Time app to find when the trains depart (about every :10 after on the way there and :12 after for way back). Use the MTA eTix app to buy your tickets easily and have them directly accessible on your phone; you just activate the tickets when you board your train.

Once at Croton Falls, there's a couple solid options. There was a shuttle bus right at the exit of the station, charging $5 per person for an immediate ride over. Each bus sits 14 people and kids who can sit on your lap are free (you can see the black one parked in the right side of the photo). The guy was very friendly and gave a quick overview of the ride during the quick (probably less than 5 minute) 2 miles over. They also pick up from Harvest Moon's entrance before each train. They depart whenever the car is full, and I saw most people chose to load up about 30-40 mins before the train departure time.

If you miss the shuttle or if you have a larger group (say >2 people), I recommend getting an Uber or Lyft. We took that on the way back and if you catch a good time it'll be around $8, which means it's a much better deal for a group of 3-4. The challenge is there are few vehicles usually in the area, so you're in for at least a 10 minute wait for your car to arrive from Brewster.

There's also a cop monitoring the two-lane highway that runs between Outhouse and Harvest, making it a very smooth venture across the street to visit one vs the other.

Harvest Moon


When we went this final weekend in October, the orchards were literally picked bare, or "Slim pickings" as they were hilariously dubbed. That said, they host a festival all of Sep / October so there was still plenty to enjoy.









There's a market which is in the house right by the drop-off stop that sells fruits, bucket fulls of apples, and really delicious pie. We bought a mini apple pie for $8 and it was so very worth it - one of the best I've ever had.









Behind the house featured a fair-type set up, with food vendors, a pumpkin patch, bouncy houses and a bungee jumping area. Harvest Moon is also known for their Hardscrabble Cider, which is a 6.5% alcohol cider that comes in either the dry (aka clear and more traditional) or unfiltered options. The dry was amazingly crisp and a big leap on the standard pre-bottled ciders in bars, so recommend giving it a try. I also had their hot cider from the cash register in the house, which I'd say probably isn't worth the $3 price tag


The downside to the food booths is there were very few this final day, and comprised of a jerk chicken shop in the back (which we had and which was just ok), a wood-fired pizza station, and a fried foods and BBQ station which perpetually had an intense line and sold turkey legs, fries, burgers, and all sorts of tasty things. That said, none of the savory food looked remarkable, so maybe eat before you come and then grab some cider donuts ($5 for 6, really tasty and fresh) or just enjoy some pie at one of their sun-exposed picnic tables, while the live band plays.



The area was fun to walk around and very kid-friendly, so a good day activity albeit a bit crowded.



We didn't try going into the orchards, as it appeared you had to purchase at least a bushel bag ($30 for about 20 lbs) to let in a group of 5 adults.

Outhouse Orchards


Outhouse had apples available for picking when we went, though very few from our quick stroll through. All the apples available were close to the top, so you had to take one of their long pullers (very heavy!) to collect even a few. That said, the grounds are much broader and were far less crowded, and they allowed even those who didn't want to purchase a bag of apples to venture forth.



The views you can get of the foliage on the mountains is spectacular, as Outhouse sits on a hill above Harvest Moon (the view in the top photo was from here). It was a wonderful clear day out, and I would highly recommend going through their grounds.




They also had hay rides and what looked to be a massive corn maze (gave me some In the Tall Grass vibes) plus a market as well, where honestly the baked goods and drinks looked far less appealing than at Harvest.

Overall, this is a wonderful weekend activity for a sunny fall day, and it's something I'd definitely do again next year. If you go, be sure to let me know how you like it!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Kingdom: Season 1 Review


Kingdom, written by Kim Eun-Hee of Signal fame, is one of the first fully Netflix produced Korean dramas, and is also one of the first thriller Korean dramas that I've completed in years. I don't consider myself a fan of the horror or thriller genre, preferring cheery and sweet romances to terrifying, action-packed fare, but Kingdom is one of the best dramas I've ever seen. It features an impressive cast (Joo Ji Hoon, Ryu Seung-Ryong, Bae Doona) and an ominous yet enthralling mythology beneath its horror story roots. To call it merely a zombie horror is to not do it justice, since the tale wraps around so many fascinating characterizations and layers of myth and ethos in its telling.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

A Day in Astoria, Queens NY



I'm starting a travel feature on this blog, as I've been making it a goal of mine to visit more spots across the US and sharing my real thoughts and itinerary. Hope this is helpful!

This past Labor Day, in the pursuit of a local and affordable day trip around NYC, I paid a visit to Astoria, Queens. Inspired by this post, I wanted to share my itinerary and experience for others planning a day here. Overall, while I was glad to have explored the neighborhood and broaden my familiarity with the different districts across NY, I wouldn't necessarily rate Astoria as a must-visit. It is a mainly residential area with older buildings, and the few visitor-friendly sites are fairly spread out, necessitating lengthy walks without much to see in between.


Monday, August 5, 2019

The Bachelorette: Season 15 Review & Reactions



I've been quietly watching The Bachelor and The Bachelorette for years now, and have seen so many of the tropes and dramatics that it's rare for any particular season to keep me engaged through its run. I dropped the franchise for a bit after the horrible bore and pointlessness that was Nick Viall's season (he couldn't even stay together with his finalist for a couple months), but then fell back in when I heard of the change-decision drama with Arie's season. After that, I sat through the retrospectively PAINFULLY BORING Becca season, the overhyped and very annoying Colton season (sorry, but never liked him or Cassie and never will, especially after seeing their very immature and fame-hungry Instagrams), which brings us to the just-completed season with Hannah Brown.

I have to say upfront, I was a believer in Hannah's potential as a lead from the very first rumors of her being the next Bachelorette. I don't understand how people could judge her so much for her toast mess-up with Colton, when she proved so real and entertaining the rest of his season (a bright light in a sea of rather superficial characters). I have certainly fumbled my share of speaking events, and related very much to the pain of it all. And as expected, her season didn't disappoint, though as with any season there were some draggy points in the middle when the Luke P drama overstayed its welcome. While I wouldn't call it the most watchable season ever (that honor belongs to either Chris Soules or Kaitlyn Bristowe), it was refreshing and pushed very much against the tropes that this show too commonly suffers from. The ending was certainly unexpected and Hannah was such a perfect lead for it all.

Monday, July 29, 2019

What to watch this summer: My Top 3 K-drama rom-coms

 
There are few better feelings than cozying up on a warm summer evening to a really good rom-com for hours on end. Since it's been so long since I've done a K-drama review, I figured I'd round up my top three rom-coms of the last two years into one post, for folks to watch (or re-watch) and enjoy while the air is hot and we are in the mood for heady summer romances.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Part 1: Broadway Play Review


Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been on my to-see list since the play came out in New York last year. I'm a longtime fan of the books (aren't we all) and was curious how a stage adaptation of a sequel years set over a decade later would work. Note this review is only for Part I, as given the length of each part (3 hours each, 6 hours total) I haven't yet seen Part II. Overall, while I was entertained, I would put this into the same category as the Fantastic Beasts movies - entertaining, but missing much of the magic of the original series.


Friday, June 21, 2019

Man in the Window: Podcast Episodes 1-4 Review


If you're a fan of true crime podcasts (think Dirty John and Doctor Death, both by the same producers), Man in the Window definitely deserves a listen. But be warned this one takes the terror level up about 10 notches, recounting in spine-tingling, paranoia-inducing detail the crime history of the Golden State Killer. Scariness aside though, this is a tremendous piece of audio journalism, managing to not only guide us through the events that unfolded year by year in the horrific decade from the 1970s to 1980s, but also weaving in the political and legal backdrop that enabled a man to get away with over 100 rapes and a dozen murders for half a century.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Go Back Spouses: Severe second lead syndrome as of episode 9


I've been enjoying Go Back Spouses a surprising amount, and it's one of the only shows I'm watching among the current pool on-air. It started off because I enjoyed the sense of humor and wanted to see the relationship rekindle between our time-traveling couple, played very fittingly by Jang Nara and Sohn Ho Joon. But the more I watch, the less enamored I am with the romantic story behind our main leads and the more I'm watching purely for the heartfelt family moments. In fact, despite the title of this post, I'm really not in it for any of the romance (especially given the high likelihood of my current ship not winding up anywhere). What I want to see more of is the tragic past between Jang Nara's Jin Joo and her mother, whose storyline never fails to bring me to tears, as well as any of the many thoughtful family relationships depicted.


Monday, July 3, 2017

The Bride of the Water God: Episode 1 First Impressions


This wasn't a show I was even remotely interested in watching, until I learned that it comes from the director of Nine and Queen In Hyun's Man, which are two of my favorite shows ever. With that said, episode 1 completely won me over, and really made me believe in the power of a good director in making a show go from middling to grand. I love the combination of quirky yet majestic that Bride has managed to seamlessly combine, and I even find myself surprisingly won over to both lead characters. They're not actors I would ever pick to watch, but Shin Se Kyung and Nam Joo Hyuk seem to really be putting their weight into their roles here and are a winning pair so far. All in all, a very solid first outing for Bride, which has me excited and eagerly anticipating what's to come.