Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's (Almost) New Year's Eve...

...and in New York City we're getting ready to see the ball drop.

I took this photograph on the way to work this morning. Times Square is eight blocks down the street and the police have put up barricades already to be ready for the crowds tomorrow night. I have been in the Times Square area several times in the past, but being part of crowds that large is something of the past for me. For over ten years I have celebrated with my bible study friends in our neighborhood. We have dinner at a local restaurant that is festive, but reasonably priced. The prices can be exorbitant, but this place has good food and doesn't add on major amounts because it's New Year's Eve. We have coffee and dessert at a friend's apartment very close to the restaurant and sometimes play Charades or Twenty Questions. We laugh a lot and it's always a lovely evening. This year some of our group is in Egypt, so we will be four. There is definitely a missing chair for our dear Barbara.

The week that was supposed to be quiet at work didn't happen and my desk looks like a cyclone just struck. So much for the organizing I hoped to do. But the day held so many nice surprises...

1) I got to wear my new wool hat that my friend Anita knit for me for Chanukah. So warm and cozy. I will show a picture over the weekend.

2) Peanut butter was on sale at the supermarket.

3) My Amazon book shipment arrived. So hoping it would get here before the weekend and I can spend a lot of time over the next few days reading. I got three brand new hardback books. No waiting for the library or book exchanges. Can't figure which one to start with. I've got to choose between "Wolf Hall," "The Help" and "New York: The Novel" by Edward Rutherford. I've enjoyed his other historical novels, especially the ones about Ireland. Which one should I start with?

4) I won perfume from one of my contests.

5) I got tickets to hear Carrie Fisher speak next month -- actually only 10 days from now -- as part of the New York Times Culture Weekend. Will of course report back to all of you.  

Wishes to all for a fun and happy New Year's Eve!

Monday, December 28, 2009

On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue

On my way to Rockefeller Center yesterday I passed Cartier's and was mesmerized by the windows. Please join me in a little elegant window shopping.  I made my way through the crowds and snapped two of the beautiful windows to share with you.

I'm partial to the necklace on the bottom. Which one is your favorite?

 I always get the same thought when I look at very (!) expensive jewelry. I think "I couldn't wear that on the subway." But I don't think the women wearing these necklaces worry very much about riding public transportation.

I had hoped that this would be a slow week at work. I had dreams of organizing my files and catching up on loose ends, but that doesn't seem to be on the schedule. Today flew by and there's lots to do in the next few days. I am managing to check a few things off the list and feel a little more organized.

Wishes to all for quiet moments and peaceful times!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

It's Christmas Time in the City

The crowds on the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue. Saks Fifth Avenue is across the street and Rockefeller Center is to the right.

Sometimes there is a benefit to procrastination. I've been to Rockefeller Center to see the tree when it was two degrees and other times it's been a lot warmer. Today it was a lot warmer. It was almost 50 degrees and not that I wouldn't have made the effort for my dear blog friends, it was a lot more fun without the wind whipping across the plaza. No boots, no down coat, no scarf and not even gloves! The building at the far side of the plaza is where "The Today Show" is taped.

 The star is a model of the star at the top of the tree.

I'm feeling a lot better today. I caught up on some errands, as well as just enjoying being outside and getting some exercise and sun. I hope everyone had a day of sunshine, relaxation and holiday fun.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Warm Winter Wishes

I'm spending a quiet day after Christmas. I have a slightly scratchy throat and the weather outside is frightful -- dark and cold and wet -- so I am drinking tea and trying to make some order out of the chaos of my apartment. I've been sorting through the Christmas things and taking note of what I need -- more tags -- and what I don't need -- more cards. I'm throwing away slightly smashed bows and odds and ends of paper and trying to get everything into one (or maybe two) shopping bags and putting things away neatly. The next projects are sorting through piles of mail and catalogs and posting books I've read or never will read on BookMooch, a great on-line trading site.

Christmas Day was fun. Too much food -- all yummy! -- and good company. I've now spent at least six Christmas celebrations with my friends' families and it's really tradition.

The tree was lovely this year

The house across the street from my friends' house looked so pretty

Warm Wishes for a cup of tea with friends and warm memories!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Wishes!

"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year."
                             Charles Dickens

My prayers and wishes for a Christmas celebration so joyous that its glow will be with you until next Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things: Hot Cocoa Time

I wish you all could be here with me tonight. We'd have a big mug of cocoa, made with cocoa and milk and sugar, with just a little vanilla. Maybe a cookie -- or two -- or a brownie or a lemon bar. We had brownies topped with red and green M&M's today at work, thanks to my colleague Donna. Yummy!

I'm a lot calmer today. I've got a pile of wrapped gifts at the office and have made a little headway on my cards. Still a long way to go, but I think my friends will understand if they don't get their cards until Monday. I know I will enjoy any that arrive next week.

I know it's not all about cards and gifts and errands. So not about errands. With all the difficulties at work that weigh heavy I'm nonetheless delighted to be here to savor the small pleasures and moments of the heart. I'm wearing my cozy slippers and sharing a cup of cocoa with some wonderful friends. Here's to you dear and precious blog friends, may your days and the year to come hold many moments of sharing and affection, bound by a chain of friendship that goes all around the world.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I Went Face to Face with My December Nightmare...

...and am pleased to report that I not only survived, but am feeling good. Every year I say that I will not, absolutely not, Christmas shop in the last few days before Christmas, particularly wearing my down coat and boots. Never will I do this again!

And where was I tonight? At Costco, wearing said down coat and boots. I got most, but not all, of the things I needed for the office. I had things in mind, but had to improvise, but I think two colleagues -- and their families -- will like the cute gingerbread house cookie jars. I certainly do. I even got myself a present, the softest, coziest slippers and at a ridiculously good price.

 I have some more snow pictures. These were taken yesterday afternoon, before any slush could make the city less attractive. Here is New York in its wintry coating of snow.

Wishes for a wonderful week! 

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Last Saturday...This was the scene as I walked from the eye doctor to study group. It was cold, but clear and sunny. 

Last night a few blocks from Lincoln Center.

Today there is lots of snow -- can't tell how many inches, but it looks a little less than a foot. It is sunny and cold and so pretty. I haven't ventured out after my outing yesterday, but I did enjoy walking around. I was "Young Victoria" and then had dinner at a Chinese Restaurant a few blocks north of where these pictures were taken. Except for the Ugg store, where there was a line to be admitted and the post office, where I had a forty five minute wait, neither the stores, nor the restaurants were crowded.

Last week went from awful -- work-wise -- to very awful. I'd come home at night with a headache, eat some dinner and go to sleep. By Friday I was able to get a little more optimism and today I'm feeling pretty good. Yes, circumstances are dire, but I will figure out how to keep going and not be miserable. Blessedly, it's a four day week, and I've mailed packages, will write some cards this afternoon and  catch up on blogs.

Hugs to all and wishes for a wonderful week!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

I'm Getting My Boots Out

I'm getting my boots out. Snow is coming and it may be more than a dusting. I'm out to do a few errands while it's still easy to get around.

Work has been all-consuming this week and it kept me from blogging and just about breathing. Love to all my bloggy friends. I'll be back tonight, with pictures!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Keep Me Away from YouTube

Every year, without fail, and generally more than once, this time of year rings my heart. Without fail. I felt like I was getting off easy this year. I haven't shed a tear.  But tonight I cried enough for all of December and into the new year.

One of my great pleasures in the evening is listening to music on YouTube. I've got some favorites and I listen to those and other times I just follow an idea. Tonight was the latter. I found Bing Crosby singing "White Christmas" and kept on with Bing Crosby. This led me to the original trailer for "Bells of St. Mary's" -- one of my all time favorites -- and then to "Going My Way." I pushed the video for "Toora Loora Loora," the Irish lullabye and before I knew tears were streaming down my face. I was in our living room in Hartford watching "Going My Way" with my parents on the old black and white console tv. My father was in his blue recliner and my mother on the couch, with the brown cover. It's at least 45 years since we all watched this together and my father has been gone almost thirty years, but I could see it clearly and missed those winter nights so much.

I know I am so blessed to have had parents for whom the idea of a great evening was all of us together watching a movie. And that is why I miss them so much, especially at this season. Penniwig asked this morning what are our favorite things and the first on my list was family and friends. It was an easy answer and so true, and so painful when they are no longer with us.

So bless you and keep you, my friends. Here's wishing you nights of quiet happiness with those you love best, now and all through the year.    

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Happy Chanukah

Approximately 2300 years ago the land of Judea had been conquered by the Syrian Greeks. The Temple had been given over to worship of the gods of the conquerers. Judah Maccabee and his brothers led a group that reconquered Judea. After three years they succeeded and one of their first acts was to clean the Temple and rededicate it to worship. They went to light the eternal light -- a light that is in every Jewish house of worship -- and found a small amount of oil. It looked to be only enough oil for one day, but miraculously the oil burned for eight days and 2300 years later we remember this miracle and light candles for eight nights.

Chanukah has always been a favorite holiday. As a child I loved the candles and had my own tiny menorah, the eight branched candle holder, that used birthday candles. I also liked the presents, though they were generally simple and useful. I did get presents -- or a present -- on each night, but some nights were navy cotton knee socks for school or a new cotton slip. One of my favorite gifts was the Life Saver Treasure Book, with seven rolls of assorted Life Savers.

And now? I love the idea that 2300 years later we are still celebrating a miracle and that light can shine from a time of darkness.

Wishing you light and hope and miracles!

From Morning to Night

The morning began with this sign...I'm not sure what's being filmed -- and I googled heartily -- but I found a great website that has information about filming all over New York and the Los Angeles. I'll be stopping there often.

The work morning was spent in a bus depot and then back to the office. It's been a long week, but got to go through a lot of the paper on my desk. Not all, but lots of it and I am grateful for that. Hurray!

During my commute home I passed through the subway station at Columbus Circle and had the opportunity to see the fabulous mural by the artist Sol LeWitt. A friend has been a major part of the project and I've been hearing about the progress and it was great to see it. Generally there are hundreds of people in the station, but when it's later in the evening, sometimes there is a window of opportunity to get a complete picture.


This is the renovation in the rest of the station and the platform I use most often.

The blessed weekend! I've got an appointment with the eye doctor, a trip to the post office and study group for lunch, study and Chanukah. I also hope to get back to TJ MAXX for a few things I've been thinking about since my visit there a few weeks ago. There are lots of cards to write and blogs to read and presents to wrap. I want to drink hot cocoa and savor the New York Times and the holiday magazines.

Wishing you time to savor the things you enjoy most!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Evening with the Mayor

The lights of Gracie Mansion

Last summer I was fortunate enough to be invited to Gracie Mansion for a reception honoring the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act. Tonight I was fortunate to be back for another reception. This one brought together friends I had worked with almost thirty years ago. We get together every year and it is always a treat. This year was no exception. There are friends I work with now, friends with whom I still socialize and people I see only at this party. We've been getting together for the last twenty years and I've missed only a few times. I am always glad to go and each year brings a few faces I haven't seen in years as well as warm memories. We had name tags this year and it was a great help for my -- and all of our -- less than perfect memories.

The snowmen are still waiting for snow. The morning commute had torrential rains, but as the day went on it stopped raining, the sun actually came out and tonight was too warm for the down coat that I needed this morning.

I am marveling at how fast December is flying. I blinked and it's a third of the way through. Chanukah starts Friday night and I still have a few things to mail and some notes to send. After that I'll begin to focus on all the office holiday festivities and gifts. We have our Division party next week and we will also do a lunch for our unit. We're blessed with a great group of dessert makers and I am saving up my calories.  

Wishing you happy times and times to treasure!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Snowmen Time

My snowmen are pretty excited...there may be snow tonight. I am less excited, but to make the snowmen -- and lots of children -- happy, I will put on my boots and wade out into the snow. These cute guys are on my hutch and they are among the first sights I see when I come home at night.

Wishing you happy sights to greet you!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Martha Stewart Holiday Craft Sale

I had a great afternoon today at the Martha Stewart Craft Sale. Only bought a few cards, but had the opportunity to see a wonderful array of crafts, some of which were right out of the pages of "Living." There were beautiful cards, handmade soaps, jewelry, adorable knit baby wear and the list keeps going. I was very taken with cookies -- that could easily double as tree decorations -- that are featured in this month's magazine.  I definitely think a subscription to the magazine is needed!

When I left snow was falling, but it was hard to tell if it was snowy rain or rainy snow and now the sidewalks are clear, but it's still raining. Didn't need my boots, but definitely needed a hat and scarf. Now I'm settled in for the evening. I've got low-fat peppermint ice cream, which is so good and I am determined to write at least five holiday cards and then luxuriate with the New York Times crossword puzzle and some ice cream.

Hope your evening is filled with sweet and warm pleasures!

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...Macy's

Sorry to be away from blogging this week. I wish I could say I was out having lots of fun, but work was ultra-demanding. Last night was our Department holiday party. It was a nice party and we a lively table from our group.

I survived my trip to Macy's. My only purchase was a black sweater, which was a super-saver, so I didn't even get to use my carefully accumumlated coupons. This may be my last trip to Macy's for the season. I've ordered some things on-line and will try and stay in the neighborhood for any other shopping needs. I do plan to return to the local TJ MAXX for some cute candy striped picture frames for gifts.

A moment in the toy department

The first floor ceiling decorations.

Mickey is the theme for Macy's this year. I knew the Disney fans in the group would enjoy seeing him. 

I have a surprise destination for this afternoon, which I think should be a lot of fun...also there is a prediction  surprise -- for me -- of a certain long awaited weather. If this latter prediction comes true, I promise pictures!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy December!

Though I dread the coming of the cold winter, I take solace in the joys of December. The miracle of Chanukah lights and the happiness of Christmas celebrations, the blessing of celebrating with loved ones and remembering friends near and far. I am deeply sentimental and just hearing the first few notes of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" can make my eyes begin to tear up. I am quite content to spend a good hour in the car listening to the all Christmas Carol station.

While November seemed to be spent all over the country I am home for December. We have our big office party this Friday and an annual reunion of work friends next week. Chanukah begins on the 11th and lasts for eight days and I will be seeing friends to celebrate the following weekend. There are lots of little festivities in the office and I look forward to quiet times with friends over cocoa or a glass of wine. In years past I liked lots of noisy parties, but my tastes have grown quieter and I relish times chatting with people close to me. My friend Mary and I are planning a theater afternoon in January to celebrate, so the good times will continue into the new year.

And just for fun...

This store is down the street from Bloomingdales and has all things canine. The window is decorated with gifts for your favorite corgi or poodle.

Wishes for a joyous December!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Want a Skirt Just Like the Skirt I Wore in High School

This is a complete digression from my holiday album. I spent two hours at Macy's today, one of the biggest department stores anywhere, with floors of clothes for women. I had three goals. One was a wool sweater, which I accomplished. One was finding two cotton turtlenecks, which I didn't accomplish and the third was to find a wool skirt, preferably A-line. I have a black wool skirt and a green wool skirt and wanted either gray, brown or navy.

There were about 20 skirts in the store, most were not wool and only about three weren't black. I'm not counting on-sale cotton skirts in various bright colors, which will do me no good when it gets below freezing. When it's raining or snowing the leg of my pants is sopping by the time I get to work. It's not that way with a skirt.

I realize I want a skirt -- or two -- just like I had in high school. Have sensible wool skirts gone the way of the transistor radio or the hula hoop? Wait, the hula hoop has returned. Where are skirts? I know I can find them on line, but I like to try things on before I buy them.  Has anyone else noticed this phenomenon? Does everyone else wear pants all the time? Whatever happend to skirts?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Big Cheer for the Long, Long Weekend!

A friend of mine wrote on our Weight Watcher thread that today feels like Sunday. It does, but better than the relaxed feeling of a Sunday is that it's Saturday and I still have a whole day to relax, rest and do errands.

The weekend has been lovely. Thanksgiving Day was beautiful, both in celebration and the weather. Sunny, clear and not too cold and the celebration was sunny and yummy. I kept Chatty Crone's thoughts in mind and happily we didn't have pecan pie, so there was no temptation to resist. The turkey was moist and delicious and there were lots of great veggie sides and my favorite butternut squash soup to start. With the food there was lots of laughter to go around.

Spent yesterday with a friend from high school, her husband and some of her husband's family. This has become a tradition, as my friend comes north each Thanksgiving to celebrate in New Jersey. We had a lovely dinner in the East Village at a Greek restaurant and then had fun walking around and looking at the store windows. On my way to meet my friends I stopped at Build-A-Bear and got a little holiday treat for Pepe Le Monkee. Photos to follow.

The Build-A-Bear store on Fifth Avenue

Today was especially nice. Services in the morning and then lunch with friends. Had a wonderful leisurely afternoon with no set time to be anywhere, except at the post office before 4:00. Stopped at Barnes and Noble for presents for Baby Max in Washington and Baby Ethan in North Carolina, hopped the bus to the new Michaels in Manhattan -- I know I'll be here often -- and the TJ Maxx next to it and then did my grocery shopping at the Whole Foods on the next block.

Wreath sales on the Upper West Side. The reflected picture is from ABC-TV headquarters, which is across the street.

I'm feeling so relaxed that I am even planning to brave a trip to Macy's tomorrow. I have a great coupon and lots of energy, which is the only way I can go to Macy's. Not sure how long I will stay, but you can be assured it will be long enough to get some photos to share.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Wishes!

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm about to start cooking my cranberries and then I am off to Westchester to celebrate Thanksgiving with dear friends. We met in high school and stayed close through college and then as we were separated by a thousand miles we lost touch. One day in 1982 I was reading a letter that had come into my office. I noted on the letterhead that one of the organization's staff had the same name as one of my friends -- not a very ordinary name. I decided to call my friend and say hello. The worst that would be happen would be a quick and cold phone call.

The result was anything but quick and cold. We had dinner the next week and we talked for five hours. It was as though the years between hadn't happened. We were friends again.  

So this Thanksgiving morning I am grateful for friends of long standing and more recent, all appreciated. I am grateful for family and the wonderful times spent with them this autumn. I am grateful for good times, good health, for new babies, a cozy apartment and all the joys and unexpected pleasures yet to come. 

Wishes to all for a yummy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's Beginning to Look and Smell a Lot Like Christmas...

The look of Christmas is all around...

I was able to take this picture on my way to the dentist this morning. The picture doesn't do justice to the beauty of the lights. It was a very nice moment on the way to an 8:15 dentist appointment.

But the best surprise was on the way home from the subway tonight. Every year in front of the drugstore on the next block to my building -- and all around the city -- folks come down from Canada and the Northern Kingdom of Vermont and set up Christmas tree stands. Yesterday the frames were going up and tonight the trees had begun to arrive. It is the best aroma!

One of my best holiday memories is buying a tree from a stand like this one with my friend Mary. We were coming from a party and were just a bit tipsy. We picked out a beautiful tree for her living room. It didn't look that big at the stand, but it was enormous once we started walking blocks with it and my memory is that she had to cut off a little of the bottom so it would fit in her living room.

I feel as though I am in a Christmas song. I am getting a new tooth this year  -- my crown should be ready next week -- and my two front teeth should be all set, the chip fixed and polished.  

Wishing you days of bright surprise!

Monday, November 23, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...Dylan's Candy

This wonderful candy store is just kitty corner from Bloomingdale's and has great candy and beautiful displays. Just had to share a few with you. I am especially fond of the snowman display and have my eye on the snowman cupcakes, which are actually little boxes. I don't need them, but can't think of a day that wouldn't be made happier with the sight of a snowman cupcake.

Wishes for happy days and snowman cupcakes!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...Bloomingdale's

I had an itinerary all set for yesterday and my stop to photograph was the Time Warner Building. I left with plenty of time to include a stop inside at Sephora -- a great cosmetics chain -- and redeem a coupon. But the subway was skipping that stop due to construction and the best laid plan of mice and bloggers was thrown off. I realized that my final destination was a block from Bloomingdale's and that would be a great place to continue Buttercup's Holiday Album. I wasn't at all disappointed and I don't think my blog friends will be either.

The front of  the store is decked in white lights. The Chrysler Building is lit in the distance.

The theme here is Dynamic Duos and we see Batman and Robin and Cleopatra and Marc Anthony...

...the Obamas and Santa and Mrs. Claus

 This window is entitled "Secret Santa" and the gentleman in the jacket looks into the mirror and sees the reflection of Santa.

This window had Penniwig in mind. The tree is decorated in shoes and there are glittery shoes decorating the rest of the window, too.

I met Mary for a movie and dinner and there wasn't all that much decoration up either in my neighborhood or on our walk after the movie. But Mary, my scout on Fifth Avenue, said there were lots of decorations to see there. A trip to Fifth Avenue is in store soon. Not sure if I can get there before next weekend, but I've got a definite trip planned soon.

Wishes for a great week!