04/22/16 2:10pm
Home fernishings: How to turn your apartment into an oasis of greenery, and keep it alive

Succulents sunning by the window. Bridget McFadden/Brokelyn

Know why there’s no such thing as a “lamppost hugger?” Because the urban jungle isn’t something you want to embrace and nurture the way you do a tree. And if, like me, breathing in the scent of New York City’s 12 million strangers has you craving a whiff of sweet soil at the end of a long day, then it’s time to get some houseplants. Why? For starters, they purify your air, and transform your paint and plaster quarters into a glowy green sanctuary. Not to mention the psychological benefits. With their self-contained root systems, a few good houseplants can help you feel more rooted in this sprawling metropolis. Plants are self-sustaining hustlers, just like us New Yorkers. Everything that a plant needs to survive is tucked into its terra cotta pot! Well, almost everything.

It also needs you. By tending to houseplants, you’re take an active role in an interspecies relationship. Not the kind you’re thinking of, though. This one is known at “kinship,” and it’s way wholesome. Take it from a bona fide plant whisperer and bryologist (a.k.a moss expert) Robin Wall Kimmerer, who says of plant-human kinship: “[It’s] like a family, we help each other out. […] What is good for life is good for all life, whether it’s green or two-legged or anything other kind.”

What’s good for plant life is good for your life, and here are a few aces that will thrive in your apartment. You can pick up any of these at your corner flower shop — my personal favorite is World of Flowers in Greenpoint — and they’ve all got some wild superpowers. (more…)

04/21/16 9:50am
Real life photo of my purse from New Years.

Real life photo of my purse from New Years.

Well, you’re at a house party.

You’re squished somewhere between a gas stove you keep igniting with your hip and a guy you knew in college who has an overly-ambitious beard now. You’ve been on your own for about twenty minutes since the lightweight friend you came with started fighting with some guy because, well, that’s what she does. “Trap Queen” is playing for the fourth time, and you’re not that mad about it but you feel like someone probably should have switched the playlist by now. As you try to subtly adjust your tights because they’re doing that terrible creep-down-your-legs thing again, you hit the critical mass point. Like a salmon urged upstream to his ancestral waters, you feel the call of home. Before you go, however, there is something very important you have to do: you must get a road beer. (more…)

04/12/16 2:22pm
The fermentation party's front door... aka a portal to another world. Photo by Sam Corbin

The fermentation party’s front door… aka a portal to another world. Photo by Sam Corbin

This weekend I went to a fermentation party in Clinton Hill. No, I’m not sorry. Despite its reputation as a yuppie/yuccies-only trend, fermentation is actually a widespread and incredibly accessible practice. And Sunday’s party, hosted at the Brooklyn Free School, was packed to the gills with home-brewers and neophytes alike who flocked from various parts of the borough to swap starters, scobys and other sour recipe secrets. There were workshops, potluck-style tables organized by type of fermented food, and an area reserved for people to donate starter cultures (more on this in a second).

As an amateur kombucha brewess myself, I was looking forward to sharing my latest batch and swapping stories. But when I arrived, I realized that this was far more than a niche get-together, and that I was way out of my league. This was no tupperware party — this was some kind of small-batch speakeasy. In the span of one gut-fizzing hour, I tasted chipotle kimchi, brazil nut cheese, sour dumplings and miso beet hummus; I drank belgian ale, amazake and ghost pepper water kefir; I ate a goddamn fermented cookie.

What I saw on Sunday begs the question: is fermentation the new pickling? Will kimchi jokes be the next focal point of Jimmy Kimmel’s next Brooklyn Week? Are vinegar-based preserves as passé as pre-condo Williamsburg? To these we at Brokelyn sing a resounding “yes!” Folks, the fermentation game in Brooklyn is strong. Much stronger than spicy McClure’s. And you might want to get with the program.  (more…)

04/08/16 9:00am
via Angies' List

This is liberation. via Angies’ List

On Tuesday, I was at Littlefield bar. Don’t ask me what I was doing there, because the answer definitely isn’t “competing in a pun competition.” Anyway, it was during a break in the action of this not-pun competition that I raced to the bathroom, not remembering that my phone was tucked into one of the shouldn’t-be-legal back pockets of my jeans. I peed, wiped and flushed, business as usual. But when I stood and pulled up my pants, I heard a sound. It was a sound you hope never to hear — the thuddish, plunking sound of something that definitely should never be in water, falling into water. It was the sound of my past drowning.

I looked into the toilet and immediately realized what had happened. I’d been in situations like this before, but this time I was awake. I reached into the toilet and pulled my iPhone out, swaddling it in paper towel, watching as the water crawled along every edge of the phone’s protective case like a war map in a history movie. I patted and squeezed, praying the thing would live. The phone gave it a few seconds … then just straight powered down. This was the true definition of shade. #Byephonelicia.

You could read countless tech saves and dummies’ guides on how to save your phone after an incident like this. I admit, I’m still holding out hope that the “rice method” will eventually revive my old phone (no luck yet) so I can pull some contacts and photos off of it. But I’m also grateful it went the way of the dodo. Because in the end, dropping my phone into a toilet was actually one of the best things that’s happened to me this year. And everyone should try it at least once.  (more…)

01/13/16 11:00am
IMG_7879 copy

Once a hobby, now a jobby

Ever since we clawed our way out of the recession (*cough* bailouts *cough*), cooking has seemed like nothing more to the average New Yorker than an occasional opportunity to save some cash during tight times, or perhaps a last stand against cleverly-targeted delivery food ads on the train. But thanks to a new iPhone app, cooking your own food isn’t limited to a last-resort moneysaver anymore — it can also be a significant source of income!

So it goes on Homemade, a location-based cooking service for smartphones that lets you make money off cooking meals for your neighbors. Do you freelance from home? Bake your famous cookies while you write. Running between jobs but make a killer winter chili? Put that slow-cooker to good use.

“It’s like Etsy, for food,” says Homemade’s co-founder, Nick Devane. “We wanted to match that makers’ spirit.” (more…)

12/16/15 4:26pm
Are these ornaments or cupcakes? They are cupcakes, and you can learn to make them

Are these ornaments or cupcakes? They are cupcakes, and you can learn to make them

We’re neck deep in holiday party season, and you’re out there stressing about what you might be able to make to impress your in-laws or your parents or your judgmental friends. Never fear! We took a look around our CourseHorse offerings and found a whole bunch of cooking and alcohol classes that’ll turn you into the hit of your holiday party. It’s a real win/win here: You become an excellent baker or wine expert, we keep the lights on here when you book a class through us. (more…)

11/12/15 11:16am
You, too, can serve up PInterest-worthy platters. via Flickr user Stacy Spensley

You, too, can serve up PInterest-worthy platters. via Flickr user Stacy Spensley

Fall means a lot of crummy things in this town, but on the brighter side, it does mean Thanksgiving. Who among us doesn’t look forward to the blessed mid-season holiday where we throw all our calorie cares, workplace woes and family feuds, if only for one or two days?

While Thanksgiving may be cheerful, the preparations are not. We understand, so we’ve rounded up a few classes focused on tackling the more intricate and challenging elements of a Thanksgiving meal: cooking for celiacs and vegans, crafting autumnal wreaths, getting everybody glogg-tipsy, and carving a turkey, naturally.

Remember, signing up for these classes through us keeps the Brokeshow in town, so if you like what you read on our site, give one of these courses a try. (more…)

11/09/15 11:26am

The Experiment Comedy Gallery is a perfect spot for Subreddit Live. Photo by Melton Sharpe

If you’ve been following Brokelyn’s series of articles on getting the nerve up to try an open mic and then killing it at said open mic, then you must have realized we’re telling you (yes, YOU) that Brooklyn always needs another comedian. You’ve been working on your material, getting up on any stage where you can get time, and rotating through all the bars in the metropolitan area. Maybe you’ve even met some people and gotten booked onto shows! And maybe now you’re wondering what the next move is? Contact the Tonight Show? Work on a TV pilot centered around your quirky life? Both of those will work, but you might also consider creating your own comedy show.

Sounds a little intimidating, you say? Don’t worry, Comedy Dad is here to help. (more…)

11/05/15 1:47pm
Even Arnold knows how to treat the streets. via London Kaye

Even a stoop kid like Arnold knows how to keep it legal. via London Kaye

You see it everywhere. It’s that giant picture of the cute kid outside your yoga studio; it’s the graphic of the young activist throwing flower bouquet bombs on your walk to work; it’s that random square of kid faces and block coloring on the sidewalk outside of your coffee shop. Street art is one of the most pervasive forms of media in the borough. So pervasive that you’ve probably been tempted, at some point or another, to make your own. 

But before your inspirations run wild and you start painting your heart out onto a building wall, it’s important to consider whether what you’re doing is legal. We’re all for stunts and damning the Man, but nobody wants to get arrested. Brokelyn got hold of two elusive specimens from BK’s guerilla art scene: London Kaye (best known for that heavily controversial Moonrise Kingdom mural), and Joseph Meloy, whose art you definitely recognize from various blocks in the borough. Here are their tips to get your work out there, and keep it out there (barring a sudden whitewash—RIP Five Pointz). (more…)

11/05/15 12:09pm
Would you believe that comes off in the shower? Well, a few showers. via Tattly's Instagram

Would you believe that comes off in the shower? Well, a few showers. via Tattly’s Instagram

Did you cash in on a $31 tattoo this Halloween? If not, never fear — you can still get a pretty killer washable one.

Tattly, purveyor of seriously stunning—but transient—body art, is setting up shop inside The Invisible Dog Art Center in Boerum hill from November 14, 2015 thru the end of February 2016 (leap year, so you get one blessed extra day of stick-on tats). (more…)