Gettin’ Guesty with Manna From Brooklyn

I don’t remember when I first came across today’s Gettin’ Guesty Contributor I just remember being smitten from the start.

Today’s guest is Rebecca Roberts from the blog Manna From Brooklyn. I invited Rebecca to be a guest because of the way she sees the world. She notices the little things that many of us would pass by. What she sees and how she sees it doesn’t cost a thing. Her blog posts are kind of cryptic and almost always hilarious. She finds treasures on the streets of New York City and I feel like I found a treasure when I found her. I almost deleted that last sentence once I realized how cheesy it sounds but decided to stick with it. You’ll probably be writing love poems to Rebecca too once you see what I’m talking about!

Please help me welcome Rebecca!

via manna from brooklyn

And Then We Saved: What is the name of your site/blog? Are you on twitter or anything other places online?

Manna From Brooklyn: Manna from Brooklyn. No, my blog is pretty much its own thing—no store, no Twitter, no Facebook.

ATWS: What does the name of your blog mean?

MFB: Manna is the mysterious food from heaven the Jews found lying on the ground as they wandered starving in the desert after the exodus from Egypt, back in ye bible days, and Brooklyn is where I have lived for the last five years. My idea for my blog was that it would document the many random/awesome/mysterious things I find on the street here—“manna” from Brooklyn.

ATWS: How long have you been blogging?

MRB: About two and a half years.

ATWS: You are very mysterious blogger (no pics of you on your site and no “about me” section and no contact section. Most bloggers have their face all over the place;)- do you do this on purpose? If so, why?

MFB: Hm, I have never really thought about it. Regarding “about me,” in the beginning I had a link to my Blogger profile, but it didn’t really add anything, so I removed it. I like to have things looking clean. And it seems to me that the content should be able to stand on its own. A blog’s a discrete work of art; everything you need to know should be contained within it, I think—like a novel.

The blog shows how I see the world, and even if I look in a mirror like 70 times a day, most of the time I am looking away from myself—at Greg (her significant other), my new shoes, my work, the sidewalk, books, my dinner, or whatever. So there are some pictures of me on it, but not a lot. Also, with pictures of yourself it is tempting to try to make everything look perfect . . . and that’s a vanity road I don’t even want to start down—I got enough problems!

ATWS: I’m curious about you and your blog probably partly because of the mysteriousness…your pictures and captions are thoughtful, intuitive and humorous. What is your background? Do you have an artistic background? 

MFB: I’m glad you think the posts are funny—I didn’t realize I was funny until I started writing them. I went to art school and I have also always been a really big reader, and now I work as a book and ephemera editor in an art museum. Greg and a lot of my friends are artists and/or work in the arts. I grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, in eastern Canada, and I went to art school there. I got a masters degree in Toronto, then moved to New York for work in 2006.

(below is an example of one of her posts)

images courtesy of manna from brooklyn

ATWS: You post pictures of things that most people would pass on by and you seem to appreciate them and not only do you appreciate them you have a sense of humor about them too. Have you always appreciated the “little things”? Do you always keep a camera with you at all times?

MFB: One of my elementary school teachers told my mom that at recess I used to go off by myself and play with a stick. I think this pretty much sums up my relationship with the world—though I didn’t realize that socially awkward misanthropic anthropomorphism could be a positive personality attribute until I started my blog. I’m always picking little things up off the ground—pine cones, acorns, pennies, dimes, shells, marbles, pebbles . . . I’ll also read just about anything: weird old paperbacks, ephemera from 50 years ago, random commercial pamphlets, waterlogged kids’ books found on the street, religious tracts . . . I just think the world is an amazing place!

I generally always carry my camera. I didn’t do this before I moved to New York, but since then it’s become a real habit. I’m not a very good photographer but I like taking pictures of stuff quite a bit.

ATWS: What catches your eye when you are out and about?

 MFB: First and foremost: cats! Obviously. Followed by money on the ground, books of any kind—especially in free boxes or in the trash—treasures disguised as garbage, garbage disguised as treasure, plain old garbage, random weirdos and weird things. Words. Birds. Discarded lumber. Food on the ground. Anything hand knitted or crocheted. Clothes, shoes, and hair. Trees, flowers. Cactuses are a new but passionate interest.

ATWS: Do you keep everything you photograph or do you leave the items? Or do you take the items and then give them away?

MFB: A lot of times I’ll take a picture of something I don’t want to take home with me (or that I can’t take home with me) because it’s amazing. But if I see something awesome that I want to (and can) take home, I will definitely take a picture of it in its situation if I can, or when I get it home, so I can post it. If I take something home but then I don’t want it for whatever reason (eg, Greg points out that it is in fact really ugly and/or broken and/or useless), I’ll give it away or sell it or put it back out on the street. Sometimes I’ll see something that I know someone else will want and I’ll grab it for them.

ATWS: What is the greatest treasure you have found on the streets of NY? And what is the strangest thing you have found?

MFB: I think overall this* is my favorite thing I ever found. In that it is rare and I JUST LOVE IT SO MUCH. Click Here. I have found some valuable things—especially designer clothes, first-edition books, designer chairs, and the like. Also things I now use literally every day: pots and pans, dishes, our easy chair, our end tables, one of our chef’s knives, clothing, makeup (um . . . yes), the sneakers I wore yesterday, my reading lamp . . .

And there are some WEEEEIRD things out there in the world, man. Most of the funniest/weirdest things I have seen aren’t objects but rather people and situations. I think this* remains a fave for many reasons: Click Here And this* is just frickin’ strange: Click Here.

ATWS: Is there anything you passed up that you wish you would have taken? Is there anything you didn’t photograph that you wish you would’ve?

MFB: This* is a little thing but I still really want it!! I should have taken it. Click Here. I recently got a lot of flack for not grabbing this* when I had the chance (who knew?) Click Here. And this* is one fine piece-a wood. I still look at the picture and sigh from time to time. Click Here. But generally I try to have no regrets.

ATWS: Since this is a blog all about living frugally and getting out of debt do you have any money saving/frugal living tricks/tips for living in NY?

MFB: The main one is, don’t live in New York. Other than that I suggest living next to the highway, cutting your own hair, and picking up any money you see lying on the ground. And contributing to your 401K/RRSP if your employer offers matching contributions, o’ course.

ATWS: What are you favorite forms of free/low cost entertainment?

MFB: Hm . . . reading books found on the street, drinking coffee on a bench in the park with my sweetheart, working, putting things in my “shopping basket” but then not buying them, watching TV shows on Netflix, selling things on the internet, crocheting things then un-crocheting them then crocheting them again, ditto with knitting, cooking, g-chatting, blogging about garbage.

ATWS: Anything you’d like to say that you haven’t been asked? 

MFB: I think not. Thank YOU! This was super fun.

this is one of the 1st pictures i’ve seen of rebecca. image courtesy of rebecca roberts

Rebecca Roberts ● THANK YOU ● for being a part of And Then We Saved!

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2 thoughts on “Gettin’ Guesty with Manna From Brooklyn

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  1. shea hey

    haven't even read this yet but have to say how excited i was when i saw the headline! Love both of these blogs, and together! i'm in heaven!

    (awesome beach picture – i live right down the block :) )

  2. Katie

    Oh man, this is such an amazing guest post! Thank you so much for sharing your work, Rebecca! I just flipped to your blog and it's fair to say I'm going to spend the next hour of my work day reading your posts and disguising bouts of laughter as sneezes. I love that photo series of the little guy (is he a finger?) taking a bath. You have such a great eye and it inspires me to pay more attention to my surroundings! Thanks! :)


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