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Brooklyn is one of the most dynamic places in New York City. From fantastic food options to great festivals for the family to enjoy, there’s a lot to explore, but there’s one day that we think everyone should be in Brooklyn: Halloween!


Bursting with events to choose from leading up to the holiday and then the day-of, it’s perfect to enjoy with or without little ones. We pulled together a list of the best-of for Halloween in Brooklyn and we are looking forward to seeing you there!


Halloween comes early to Prospect Park this year. On Saturday, October 29th from noon to 5 PM, the Halloween Haunted Walk and Fair will be taking place -- it is a frighteningly good time! A haunted walk, scary stories, a haunted carousel and more await you. Most events are free and it’s appropriate for kids of all ages.


Heroes and horrors convene at Prospect Park for Halloween.


Also on Saturday, October 29th, the Botanical Garden is hosting their Halloween celebration with their Ghouls and Gourds event. Free for kids 12 and under, this 6 hour annual event offers a different program to check out every 20 minutes, along with music and live entertainment to enjoy. There’s a lot to see and do here, so make sure everyone is dressed comfortably -- sneakers are a great idea.


Ghouls and Gourds transforms the Botanical Garden into a spooky adventure.


For October 31st, the three best events to visit are the BAMboo, Halloween 313 and the Park Slope Halloween Parade, and in that order if you can do it! It would be a fast race from event to event, but each one is sure to be a hit.


The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), is hosting BAMboo, starting at 4 PM. A Halloween outdoor block party, BAMboo will have a costume contest, candy giveaways, a bounce house, games as well as arts & crafts to welcome the spookiest night of the year.


Halloween 313 is a free 30 minute spectacle located at 313 Clinton Avenue (between Dekalb and Lafayette) in Clinton Hill. Halloween 313 has been part of the community since 1994, when it was started to make the neighborhood safer for trick-or-treating. Over time it’s become a Brooklyn tradition that has a new theme every year -- this year is Abra Cadaver and will feature magic, mystery and murder. Appropriate for kids and adults alike, it’s spooky and scary but an utter delight!


For over twenty years, Halloween 313 has been making Brooklyn scary once a year!


In Park Slope, the heart of family-friendly activities, the annual Halloween Parade is a must-see event. This year marks its 30th anniversary in the neighborhood and it is rumored to be the largest children’s parade in the nation. The kids get full reign of the streets as they enjoy the parade route and all of the candy that’s handed out by shop owners along the way. The parade ends in the JJ Byrne Playground at the Old Stone House.


We hope to see you in Brooklyn for Halloween this year and that you have a spook-tacular time!




Posted in:General and tagged: Park SlopeBrooklyn
Posted by Nelson Aybar on October 27th, 2016 1:35 PM

With the heat of the summer upon us, strolling down the street in Brooklyn can feel like a veritable ice cream advertisement. Almost everyone you encounter is grasping a cone, heaping with ice cream and a smile on their face as they lick their way through. Brooklyn has a bevy of excellent ice cream shops, so which one should you visit next? In advance of National Ice Cream Day on Sunday, July 17th, we found some of the neighborhood’s best ice cream spots for you to check out.


Blue Marble, a Brooklyn-based ice cream shop that has partnerships with Bareburger and Barclay’s, has scoop shops in Prospect Heights and Industry City. Earning rave reviews for their organic ingredients and creative flavors like Green Tea, Midnight Mint Cookie and Mexican Chocolate, their delicious ice cream is also available for purchase in many grocery shops.


Blue Marble can be enjoyed at a Scoop Shop or via the grocery store.


Ample Hills Creamery has locations in Prospect Heights and Gowanus. Their Facebook menu is kept up-to-date with what ice cream flavors they are offering, which currently includes Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, which is their creamy vanilla ice cream with “gobs of St. Louis Ooey Gooey Butter Cake pieces” as well as The Munchies, which is, “Pretzel infused ice cream with clusters of potato chips, pretzels, Ritz crackers, and mini M&Ms”. If that’s not enough to satisfy your ice cream craving, they have 19 other flavors to tempt your palate.


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A small sampling of flavors offered at Ample Hills Creamery.


Starting on National Ice Cream Day and running through Labor Day, Ample Hills Creamery has a loyalty card that gets stamped with each purchase and after 5 stamps you’ve earned a free scoop!


A Brooklyn mainstay, Uncle Louie G’s has been in the neighborhood since 1959 serving up delicious homemade gourmet Italian ice and ice cream. Offering samples to anyone who comes in with a smile and NYC-pride Italian ice flavors like FDNY Cherry or NYPD Blue, visiting Uncle Louie G’s is a Brooklyn rite of passage.


Continuing with the Italian inspired trend, L' Albero Dei Gelati, located at 341 5th Avenue in Park Slope, is the outpost of the Italian brand. With delicious gelatos that make the mouth water, this spot is a not-to-be-missed shop on your ice cream touring adventures. With amazing flavors like chocolate mixed with hazelnut, you’ll quickly understand why there are lines down the block to get a scoop of their creations.


The gelato that you may never get enough of, at L' Albero Dei Gelati.


Additional shops that shouldn’t be missed include Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream in Greenpoint and Boerum Hill which has vegan ice cream along with their traditional ice cream.


Odd Fellows in Williamsburg has flavors that are updated daily which makes each visit a special treat. They carry a flavor called Roberta’s Sticky Bun and Bacon which sounds deliciously addictive and Coffee Crunch which could easily replace our afternoon coffee.


The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory in Brooklyn Heights and Greenpoint has traditional flavors along with Chocolate Chocolate Chunk and Peaches & Cream which will make anyone’s mouth water.


Finally, The Good Batch has decadent ice cream sandwiches using Blue Marble ice cream that are sold in shops throughout Brooklyn. Should you find yourself on Governors Island, both Blue Marble and The Good Batch have an ice cream stand there so you can satisfy your ice cream craving.


The Good Batch’s ice cream sandwiches come in a variety of flavors with different toppings.


Brooklyn has so many great ice cream shops that it may take all summer to visit each delicious store. Although we’ve drooled over many here, Yelp has an even more complete listing of ice cream shops in Brooklyn.


With so many choices available and such terrific flavors the question becomes when can you visit each of these great options. We’ve signed ourselves up for an ice cream challenge to work our way through the flavors and shops of the borough and look forward to seeing you out there, too!






Posted in:General and tagged: Park Slopeice cream
Posted by Nelson Aybar on July 14th, 2016 1:55 PM

With July 4th right around the corner, it’s a good time to figure out where the best view for the fireworks displays will be in Brooklyn. The fireworks are taking place on the East River this year before taking a hiatus and moving back to the Hudson River next year. Brooklyn is one of the best boroughs to get a fantastic view of the spectacle. But where to watch them?


Boats fill up quickly so if you’d like to hop aboard to check out the fireworks, maybe while having dinner or enjoying a drink, it’s better to get tickets sooner rather than later.


Setting sail from Sheepshead Bay, the Sheryll Princess is $125 per person. Boarding starts at 4pm and sets sail at 5pm. This is a long cruise, so consider going sans-kiddos, but there is a buffet included and a cash bar available.


Freedom Cruises, also leaving from Sheepshead Bay, offers another option at $159 per person. This package also includes a buffet dinner, the option of a cash bar and sets sail at 5.30pm. After being on board for several hours to enjoy the fireworks, you’ll be returned to Sheepshead Bay around 11.30pm.


If you can’t make it out to Sheepshead Bay, there are also boats available leaving from Manhattan’s Pier 15, like the Hornblower Cruises which offers a buffet and an open bar for $250 per person.



Freedom Cruises’ Pink Lady will sail by the Statue of Liberty on its way to the fireworks.


The Brooklyn Bridge Park, located in Brooklyn Heights, is expected to be open on the 4th of July so you can set up your picnic there to watch the fireworks. It is considered the gold standard of locations in Brooklyn to see the East River fireworks. As a result, this park is expected to get crowded, so if you are planning on going to the Brooklyn Bridge Park, make sure to get there early so that you can get a good spot.


The South Street Seaport will be bustling on the 4th of July, but it’s also a great spot for a view of the fireworks. With plenty of great restaurants and bars to choose from in the area, it will also be the setting for a street festival from 1pm - 8pm. There will be music and a variety of food vendors set up, as it will be the setting for Smorgasburg.


Smorgasburg in Brooklyn is a classic experience that brings a great variety of food vendors together.


The Brooklyn Promenade is another option to see the fireworks this year. Stretching a third of a mile along the East River, it’s one of the most idyllic spots in New York City. Located above the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway, the Promenade was built to muffle the sound of traffic below. The views of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Manhattan make it a perfect spot to enjoy the 4th of July celebration.


The Brooklyn Promenade overlooks the East River and is the perfect spot to see the fireworks.


If what you want this 4th of July is a bit of peace and quiet, check out Grand Ferry Park in Williamsburg. Tucked away and without perfect views, it should be a calmer scene than the other options listed above, but still provide a peek at the fireworks display.


The 4th of July can be overwhelming, but with all of these options available to see the fireworks displays, it’s worth the effort to meet up with your local neighbors to enjoy the evening. We hope you enjoy the show!


Posted in:General and tagged: Park SlopeBrooklynJuly 4th
Posted by Nelson Aybar on June 27th, 2016 10:28 AM

As summer starts to heat up, so does the real estate rental market in New York City. This is the time of year when most leases are signed. Sometimes, leases are signed in the apartment as it is being shown. Apartments move fast, especially the nicest ones and the best deals.


Since it is such a quick market, it makes sense to be as prepared as possible and to position yourself to be the best applicant. How to stand out in a sea of paperwork? We’ll walk you through the process and how to prepare yourself to shine in the hottest rental market.


Although it might seem like it’s early in the process, June is a great time to get started researching apartments and neighborhoods for an August rental. Giving yourself close to 60 days will ensure that by August, you will know exactly what you are looking for and in which neighborhood. It will also give you the opportunity to meet with different real estate agents and find someone who you enjoy working with, because finding an apartment in New York City is not for the faint of heart.


Keep in mind that housing expenses should not exceed 25% of your income and that many landlords require that you earn 40 - 50x the rent. If you don’t earn 40 - 50x the rent, you will most likely need a guarantor to sign the lease with you.


What’s a guarantor, you might ask? It’s someone who makes 75 - 100X the rent who is willing to sign onto a lease, basically vouching for you that you will pay the rent. Parents and relatives are likely suspects for this role and with strict income requirements, it shouldn’t come as a shock that you might need one in order to get your dream apartment. All landlords are different and some may want a guarantor to reside in the tri-state area, or in New York. With each apartment you apply for, check for the landlord’s requirements.


If you do not have any credit history, social security number or guarantor, you can look into working with INSURENT, which is a lease guaranty company that many landlords will accept as an alternative. Click here to learn more about Insurent.


Since you are starting the process with plenty of time, also take a moment to run your credit report through a free service, like AnnualCreditReport.com or  Credit Karma. Running your own credit is a soft inquiry and does not affect your credit score. By doing so, you’ll get a good idea of just how strong your credit is. And although 60 days most likely isn’t enough time to fix any errors on your credit report, at least you’ll be prepared to present your side of the story to potential landlords if there are red flags on your report and offer incentives, like a higher security deposit or an additional month of rent paid up-front for free market or decontrolled apartment. As for rent stabilized apartments, the most a Landlord can accept is first month and one month security deposit.


There are about 38,000 rent stabilized apartments in New York City. They are in buildings that were built before 1974 and have more than six units. The rent for these apartments are normally less than $2,700 a month, but can be more if the owners have received a J51 or 421A abatement, a tax break that landlords get for undertaking significant improvements to the building.


If you do find a rent stabilized apartment, make sure that the lease reflects that it is and what the breakdown of the monthly rent will be and what the allowable rental increases will be from year to year. We have an excellent selection of no-fee, rent-stabilized apartments that are on the market now.


After you have your credit report ran, the next step is to put together all of the documents that most landlords in New York City want.


  • A completed application

  • Employment verification letter on a company letterhead and signed stating: (1) Position (2) Length of employment (3) Annual salary (plus any bonus or commission)

  • **If self-employed, a letter from CPA stating: a. Nature of business, length of time in business, position, and last years’ income, this year’s projected income and signed contracts from your clients showing contracts if applicable

  • 2 - 3 most recent consecutive pay stubs (If applicable)

  • Recent bank statement (checking and savings/investment)

  • Copy of Government photo I.D.

  • Last 2 years of W-2 and 1st two pages of tax return and schedule C if available

  • Letter from current or previous landlord stating address, rent amount, that applicant was in good standing since they paid rent on time and has been a good tenant


To help yourself stand out from the crowd, consider writing a personal letter to the landlord, explaining why you love the apartment so much, and a bit about yourself. Another way to do this would be to include a resume so the potential landlord can learn more about your background and see that they would be renting to a trustworthy person.


Since there is so much documentation that is needed, it makes sense to scan all of your documents ahead of time and combining them to make one neat PDF file. You can keep this PDF in an email draft so that when you come across your ideal apartment, you’ll be able to forward everything to the agent in an instant.


Consider printing all of these documents out as well and keeping a copy of them with you so that you can hand everything over to the agent showing the apartment when you fall in love. Keep in mind that you’ll still need to fill out an application for each different landlord, but having the supporting documentation organized and pulled together ahead of time will put your application at the top of the heap.


Sometimes the first apartment that you apply for might not work out. While you’re waiting to hear back about that first apartment continue looking at additional apartments, since until you have a signed lease, anything can happen. Good luck and happy hunting during this real estate season!


Posted in:General and tagged: Park Slope
Posted by Nelson Aybar on June 11th, 2016 9:35 AM

Nestled in Park Slope is the famous Park Slope Food Coop. Established in 1973 by a group of neighbors who wanted fresh food options, the Coop now has over 16,500 members. One of the biggest perks of shopping at the Park Slope Food Coop is that everything in the store is about 20-40% less expensive than in other shops.


The Park Slope Food Coop is located at 782 Union Street in Brooklyn.


Organic food is abundant, but not offered exclusively. The province of where the items are from are listed in the produce section. Pasture raised and grass fed meat is available, along with free-range poultry. Delicious treats like chocolate and coffee are also at the Coop, in addition to necessities like imported and artisanal cheeses. Fresh baked bread is there as well and supplies are replenished multiple times a week, ensuring freshness.


Produce is abundant at the Park Slope Food Coop.


The savings that shoppers get at the Coop is attributed to the mandatory service that each adult in a household needs to sign up for: working at the Coop. This is done in shifts, typically for about 3 hours in length, and 13 of those shifts need to be completed in a year. In addition to keeping prices down by having members take work shifts instead of hiring employees, the Coop’s founding members also believe that this kind of investment would help members feel more connected to the Coop and more invested in its future.


The work slots are as varied as the produce that’s available for purchase in the Coop. There are opportunities to work in the office, answering the phones and helping with administrative tasks, maintenance opportunities to help keep the Coop clean, childcare providers, working as a cashier and many other options. If something comes up and you aren’t able to make your scheduled work slot, you can swap with other members and take their shift and they will cover yours.


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Seasonality determines what is stocked, though FL and CA help out in cold months.


But before you are able to start your shift, there are a few steps that need to be taken in order to become a member of the Coop. First, prospective members need to attend a 2.5 hour orientation training. These take place three times a week: Mondays at 7.30pm, Wednesdays at 10am and Sunday at 4pm. Proof of identity and residency has to be established, usually with a driver’s license and a bill that was sent to your home.


Once these criteria have been met, then you’re all ready to become a member and shop away at the Coop. Most of the products at the Coop come from within a 500 mile radius of New York City. 500 miles was chosen because it is roughly a one-day truck drive away, which means that the lettuce you pick up today from the Coop was most likely just picked and trucked over to Park Slope the day before. This keeps produce very fresh and supports a considerable number of small, local farms.


Posted by Nelson Aybar on May 25th, 2016 9:37 PM

It seems like everyone has an opinion on bringing babies to bars in Park Slope and the surrounding neighborhoods. What is indisputable is that Park Slope has a large offering of kid-friendly restaurants, and the numbers only seem to be growing. Little ones being such a large part of the community in Park Slope comes as a surprise to no one these days, and can be the motivating factor for a young family to move into the neighborhood.


Chowing down at a local eatery.


But where to go and what to do if you’d like more than the local bar scene? Park Slope has an array of offerings for families, kid-friendly and fun for everyone. To get on the inside track of all things kid-related in Park Slope, there is Park Slope Parents, an online listserv that aggregates information about the neighborhood.


There is an Advice, Classifies and Career Networking listserv and a passionate community that supports it. Founded in 2002, it has a huge presence in the online lives of Park Slope’s parents. Everything from clothing swaps being arranged to hearing about which handymen to hire, the group is a wealth of information for those moving to the neighborhood. Membership is $40 a year, with discounted options available for purchasing multiple years at once.


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ParkSlopeParents.com welcomes new members.


Being situated so close to Prospect Park, it comes as no surprise that Park Slope has an abundance of playgrounds for the kiddos to play in. From the newly renovated J.J. Byrne Park, located between 3rd Street and 4th Street on 5th Avenue to the gems found scattered throughout Prospect Park, finding a space to play in Park Slope will never be a challenge.


Prospect Park is filled with great playground options.


If you’d like to get your kids some exercise beyond the monkey bars, tucked away at the back corner of Prospect Park are the Kensington Stables, which offer horseback riding lessons to those 6 years old and older. It might be hard to wait for the little one grows up enough to enjoy this, so don’t feel shy signing up for a course yourself -- adults are welcome to take classes.



Horseback riding in Prospect Park


Finding yourself with a rainy day with kids in Park Slope is no problem thanks to Barnes and Noble's extensive toy section, located on 7th Avenue, near 6th Street. There is a special reading area for the kids with well-loved books and scheduled story times to check out.


If you still feel stuck for ideas on what to do in the neighborhood, this list contains 100 ideas of activities in Park Slope for parents. For freebies around town, check out this roundup of 20 free things to do with kids.


When you’re stuck at work late, there are many daycares in Brooklyn that offer extended day-care options. Or, if you’d like to get a bit more enrichment in, there is always The New York Kids Club or Kidville, both of which offer a great array of classes for the little ones, including music, art, gym and dance classes. FasTracKids offers preschool programs throughout New York City that are geared toward getting your little one on the gifted track early, through a multi-sensory approach which exposes kids to 12 subject areas.


For the little ones who are into superheros, Park Slope has just the shop for them: the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company. Located on 5th Avenue between 5th and 6th Street, the location serves as a venue dedicated to helping kids with their writing skills.


The Brooklyn Superhero Supply Company is creating lifelong readers.


Tutors, storytellers and workshop leaders come together in the space to foster creative writing skills. Additionally, kids can get De-Villainized, try out capes and try to find the secret portal which leads to...you’ll just have to find out yourself!


Posted by Nelson Aybar on May 19th, 2016 9:41 PM

The fresh air of spring inspires many to open their windows to let the fresh breeze in and hopefully clear away the clutter that has accumulated in their home over the past few months. In order to actually see that clutter disappear, one of the most effective ways is to have a stoop-sale.


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Jeni Aron, a professional organizer and professionally known as the Clutter Cowgirl, lent us some ideas on how to make sure your stoop-sale is a success.


Some things to consider first before getting into the nitty-gritty of having a stoop-sale:


  • Aron warns that sometimes people don’t consider how they would feel when their neighbors see them with their wares on sale. Make sure that you’re okay with this before you proceed.

  • With stoop-sales comes lots of strangers; Aron recommends that you become comfortable with the idea of others handling and going through your things.

  • Although you might consider something valuable, that doesn’t mean that everyone else will -- so prepare yourself for low-bidders or people not wanting to buy what you have to sell.

  • If you have something valuable that you would like to sell, go through more traditional channels like Ebay.com or Craigslist.org to sell them, rather than anticipating that you will find just the right buyer who happens to be walking by.


With those considerations addressed, Aron has a few tips on ensuring a successful stoop-sale.


  • Although it might be tempting to put anything you have out for sale, Aron suggests really curating the items that you offer. Putting junk in either a “free” bin or not out at all, Aron thinks that the best strategy is to offer items that have a true value to others.

  • Look to get 25% of the price that you paid for an item, though Aron reminds us that getting stuff out of the house is better than getting the full price that you are asking.

  • Which leads us to: don’t be afraid to haggle! People who stop by may be inclined to ask for a discount. This is your chance to shine and offer a 2 for 1 deal, moving more items out of your apartment and still making some cash.

  • Try to keep all items at eye-level, so bring out some tables and chairs to prop items on, rather than putting them on the ground.


What are some items that sell well at a stoop-sale? Aron suggests that the following are always big winners:


  • Comic books

  • Vinyl records

  • Books


Price these items low, at $1 each and you’ll see them float away to new, happy homes.



As far as items that should never be included in a stoop-sale, Aron has some ideas on that as well. Avoid putting out for sale:


  • Any used cosmetics

  • Opened food of any sort

  • Lingerie


While you may think, “But this eyeshadow has only been used once!” -- and that might be true, the sanitary considerations outweigh anything that you might earn from selling it. Besides, lumping used cosmetics with some other great stuff that you might have to sell casts an unsavory pallor on the other items.


Finally, put out old-school, handwritten signs to advertise for the big day. Attract customers to your stoop-sale by using chalk on the sidewalk of your nearest major avenue to advertise the location, and go ahead, put arrows leading the way! Be friendly and chatty with your guests -- you never know who will buy what and it’s best to treat the entire day like an adventure, which is exactly what it is.


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Posted by Nelson Aybar on April 14th, 2016 9:04 AM