Saturday, December 31, 2011

Live from New York City...It's New Year's Eve!

Looking Down to Times Square

In a moment of forgetting how much I dislike crowds -- yes, I know I live in Manhattan -- I got theater tickets for this afternoon. I had a wonderful time with my beautiful goddaughter and we enjoyed the play, but we were three blocks from Times Square, which was wall to wall people. By the time we left the theater the space inside these barricades was filled with the people we will see on television a little later. It is a perfect day to be outside in New York this year. Last year we were recovering from the Christmas blizzard, but today was in the 50s and mild.

I am delighted to be spending the evening with friends in my neighborhood, where it looks like any other Saturday night. We will have dinner at a new Greek restaurant and then champagne and cupcakes at one of our friends' apartments. Low key, warm and festive and I will be happy to watch the ball drop from a cozy living room. I will then take the bus home and get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow morning is 2012!

My warmest and sweetest wishes to all who have joined me in Buttercupland this year. I have been blessed again and again and count myself among the luckiest of women to have such dear friends!  

Friday, December 30, 2011

I'm Having a Party...

...And you are the guests of honor!

Let's celebrate New Year's Eve Big City Glamor style. 

We'll spend the afternoon together getting the manicure we'd usually never get, but we're going to a party!

And then we'll shop for dresses -- again not our usual styles -- but this isn't the usual evening!

My little apartment wasn't big enough for New Year's Eve dinner and dancing, so I've borrowed (from Pinterest!) a beautiful penthouse, which from the looks of it, may be in Paris.

We will have no worries. Our glamorous dresses will fit perfectly, we will be able to dance in our high heels and there will be no concerns about our cholesterol. This is Fantasy New Year's Eve. 

R.S.V.P. Buttercup 1-800-New-year! It won't be a party without you. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stop the Clock!

This week seems to be one of my best for decompressing after Christmas and I am enjoying the slower pace at work and quietly spending time with friends. I love getting a seat on the subway every morning on the way to work -- school is out and fewer people are going to work -- and eating a less rich diet. But although I am ready to move ahead to 2012 I am not ready for this. I know it's coming every year, but December 27?

On the same day, (different drugstore) I found one more Christmas treat for myself, and a friend to Pepe. Yes, I am a sock monkey fan and Pepe's new friend, Socko, will fit in very nicely with the rest of my office toy store. Socko's "talent" is singing, "Hey, hey it's the Monkees," when his hand is pressed. It's very silly, but lots of fun and just the perfect pick-me-up for any winter blues.

Pleased to introduce Mr. Socko. 

What's your harmless treat to cheer cold winter days? Besides Socko and friends I can be very happy with  peppermint hot cocoa.

Wishing you warm thoughts and sweet dreams for cold nights! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

My Perfect Word for 2012

I love to read and for cozy fiction Debbie Macomber is a great favorite. I subscribe to her e-newsletter and noted that she has a new book of non-fiction coming out in January, "One Perfect Word." In it she writes about choosing one word to be her focus in the new year and how that word can be transformative. Some of the words mentioned are trust, surrender and prayer. She asked her readers to choose a word for 2012 and let her know the choice.

I've got some choices in mind, but want to take this week to carefully consider my word for 2012. I'm leaning to "courage," but will pray on it. What would you choose for your word for 2012?  

Monday, December 26, 2011

Quiet Time in the Countryside

I don't know if you feel the same way, but I find it hard to transition from the excitement of Christmas to the quieter time that follows it. I usually feel a real letdown when Christmas is over and the winter looms ahead. I'm making every effort this year to acknowledge this and to gently ease into the post celebration mode. I'm going to take a few visits this week to some lovely and quiet times I had during the year and share them with you.

I spent the first weekend in December visiting my fifth grade best friend, Lonni, in Connecticut. We had a wonderful visit and one fun memory was a visit to Holcomb Farm in West Granby, CT. It is a beautiful working farm that offers community programs. We made our visit for a craft fair and to listen to holiday music from local musicians. What a peaceful and lovely place.

The sock animals were favorites of mine!

I had a wonderful day with friends yesterday. In the morning I had a mini-reunion breakfast with a group of friends I worked with twenty five years ago to welcome our friend, Sharon, who was visiting from California and in the evening had dinner with friends I have celebrated Christmas with for the last decade. Lots of laughter, conversation and affection, and I have been counting my blessings all day today.

To all my blog friends, a wish for quiet times, happy celebrations and many blessings! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Live from New York...It's Christmas

From my lobby...

To Maryland and Pennsylvania, to North Carolina and Ohio, to Illinois, Texas, Arizona and on to California and states in-between and then across the ocean to Australia and India and England and back to New York, wishes for the brightest and merriest of Christmas celebrations and joy to last until next Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas in Chicago

Macy's on State Street

A highlight of last month's trip to Chicago was lunch at Macy's on State Street. We ate in the fabulous Walnut Room, which dates from 1907. I fell in love with the Christmas tree display and saved them to share with you today. I haven't wanted to brave the crowds at Macy's here in New York City, but may make an excursion next week.  

Wishes for a bright and blessed Christmas Eve.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Pinterest Gingerbread Fest

Source: via Carol on Pinterest

I've been surrounded by fabulous bakers this week -- lucky me! -- but this beauty of a cake may even surpass what I've had the yummy fortune to sample. If anyone hasn't chosen their Christmas dinner dessert, my I suggest this cake. It's as pretty as any I've seen and I am sure it is delicious.

It't been both a fun and hectic few days. Every night I'd arrive home ready to post and then decide to organize gifts/wrappings/cards for the office. I'd try and write a few cards and generally fall asleep practically with my pen in my hand. The office gifts have been happily completed. I wrapped my last presents at 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, after having a very nice luncheon with the immediate group I work with. The fabulous bakers I mentioned brought in chocolate chip cookies, lemon bars and a cherry cheesecake. The treats were so good and the company even better.

I'm looking forward to spending time with friends, sleeping, walking around Manhattan, getting a little rest and finishing my cards. There will be some Christmas celebration, some Chanukah celebration and immense feelings of gratitude for all the gifts of this blessed season.

Wishes for a sweet, sugarplum evening!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Happy Chanukah

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah. I'm bringing a "guest blogger" from my synagogue's weekly email. It gives a brief explanation of the historical setting for Chanukah and the philosophical reason it remains important. It is a holiday of hope, faith and miracles and discovering light in the darkest times. Often it's seen as a holiday for children, but as I grow older the need for hope, faith and miracles grows, rather than diminishes and I found these thoughts very inspiring.

Hanukkah Message 

In the Talmud, Shabbat 21a, the Rabbis teach, "On the twenty-fifth day of Kislev commences the days of Hanukkah—eight days on which lamentations for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the Temple, they defiled all the oils therein, and when the Hasmonean dynasty prevailed against and defeated them, they searched and found only one cruse of oil with the seal of the High Priest, but it contained sufficient oil for one day's lighting only. Yet a miracle occurred and they lit the lamp that burned for eight days."

At the darkest time of year, we celebrate Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, and while the Rabbinic story of Hanukkah teaches the miracle of the oil lasting for eight days, perhaps the greatest miracle of Hanukkah is our ancestors’ desire to have faith in lighting the oil at all, since it was only supposed to last a short while. We know that in times of darkness and despair, it can be difficult to get up the courage and faith to make the effort to see light, to bring light in, to find the spark internally, and to dedicate ourselves to being "lamp-lighters" in the world. We pray that, during this season of rededication and light, we have the faith to dedicate ourselves to bringing light into the world despite its darkness, and faith that if we are willing to make that initial step, the light has the potential to kindle other flames and to vanquish the darkness. 

Thanks to Pinterest for this delightful Chanukah gingerbread house, a first for me, and I hope you will enjoy it, too. My thanks for the sweet and thoughtful comments about my dear friend, Diane, and my wishes for hope, faith and miracles to you and your families and to all in need of light and hope.

There is a New Star in the Sky

Our beloved Diane

My blogging theme for December was happy, not sad. There would be pictures of Christmas lights and gingerbread men and that was my plan until yesterday. Happy is interrupted for real life as real life today is not happy. 

In the winter of 2003 I began posting on a Weight Watchers thread. My only goal was to lose weight. I lost some weight, but more importantly I made a wonderful group of friends. Three years ago we took our first trip together to Dallas. That was followed by trips to Las Vegas, Memphis and this year to Chicago.  Whenever anyone asked who did the arrangements for our trips, my answer was "My friend, Diane. She's the best." Heartbreakingly, Diane died yesterday of liver cancer. We had surgery the same week this summer, but tragically her diagnosis was not the same as mine. She had hoped to join us in Chicago in November and next year in Santa Fe, but that is not to be.

I wish you all could have known Diane. She was warm, thoughtful, fun and funny. Each year hers was the first text of the new year and she was the source of dozens of ideas for trips and good times. I am so grateful for the gift of Diane, but also sad that my life has lost her light and laughter. But when I look up at the night sky and I see a bright star I will remember Diane.  

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Frozen Custard Worth Waiting For

Are these not the most yummy seasonal flavors you can imagine?

Shake Shack is a burger "shack" that's popped up in New York City in the last few years and every time I think I may try it there is always a line. Of course I try to eat there in the evening or on weekends and that is the busiest time. Last Wednesday I had a medical appointment at 2:00 P.M. (3 month surgical follow-up) in the neighborhood where Shake Shack has recently arrived.  My appointment, thankfully, went well and quickly and for a treat I decided to see if it was possible to try the frozen custard at Shake Shack. When I've walked by the custard flavors look so good. 

There was no line on Wednesday and the flavor of the day -- Christmas Cookie -- didn't disappoint. Cookie flavored custard with pieces of cookie and holiday sprinkles. The other flavors for this season are Eggnog, Figgy Pudding, Chocolate Orange Chestnut, Gingerbread, Candy Cane Crunch and Apple Spice Cake. I am glad there was only one flavor to choose. I might have spent half the day making a selection from that assortment. What flavor would you choose? 

I am happy to report that I am making headway with my cards and wrapping. I received my Shutterfly cards and am very happy with them. If anyone would like one please post your email in the comments and I will get in touch with you for your address. Don't know if I will get everything done by Christmas, but I'm optimistic about New Year's. 

Wishes for a sweet Sunday!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pinterest Gingerbread Fest

Here's a cheer for the classic gingerbread man, beloved of literature and eating!

Aren't these the cutest little gingerbread guys ever? I've had a wonderful time looking at a world of gingerbread delicacies and decided that this week I would present the most classic gingerbread man. I chose this one from Pinterest and found it was from one of my favorite blogs, "One Perfect Bite." If you like to cook or eat this is a great place to visit, and Mary is a lovely blogger friend.

I am somewhat startled to realize that next weekend is Christmas weekend. I kept thinking there was still weeks. We had our holiday luncheon at work today. Lots of goodies and beautiful decorations. I have some fun times with friends this weekend and there's still wrapping to do and lots of cards to write and lots of blog visits to make. Frozen custard post tomorrow! It's a promise.

Wishes for a sweet Saturday!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Breaking News: Frozen Custard Delayed...

...for the sweetest real estate deal in New York

Thank you, Ruthys Bakery, at Chelsea Market.

I promise that frozen custard will make an appearance in the next few days. The flavors are too yummy not to share.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Cupcakes

One day, seemingly out of nowhere, cupcakes became the rage. I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but the Magnolia Bakery seemed to be there at the very beginning. They were mentioned in "S*x and the City," which chronicled the good (and very expensive) life in Manhattan. It's far from my life. I don't buy shoes at six hundred dollars a pair, but from time to time I do treat myself to a cupcake.

There are several branches of Magnolia Bakery and they all seem to be very busy all the time, which deters my desire for designer cupcakes. But the Sunday after Thanksgiving there was a window in time when there were not only no lines to buy a cupcake (!), but there was space to take pictures. I was going to visit a friend and realized that this would be the perfect sweet treat to bring as a gift.

Cute t-shirts and retro apron

The cupcakes were delicious. I bought no-frosting sugar dusted and we liked them a lot. In fact, we liked them so well I promised to bring them for dessert for our Bible Study New Year's Eve get together. 

It's a sweet place for a cupcake stop!

Tomorrow we visit another spot for a treat. The clue is frozen custard.

Wishes for a wonderful Wednesday! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's Christmas Time in the City...Radio City Music Hall

I like being a tourist, and I think my favorite city is the one I live in. Each season has its charm, but right now I can't imagine liking New York more than I do in this winter week. It's sunny, not too cold and the city is so festive, with the aroma of pine drifting around corners. If you're thinking of a trip to New York, this is a wonderful time. The weather is not always as cooperative for walking and seeing the sights, but this has been a glorious year. One of the places I would recommend for a visit is Radio City and the Christmas show. I have memories of going here with my parents when I was growing up. The shows in those days included a movie and I have a memory of seeing Fred MacMurray in "The Absent Minded Professor," during one of these visits. This was definitely one of the treats of my childhood. 

   Some of my favorite decorations are across the street from Radio City. Larger than life and so much fun!

We have the ornaments, the lights...

and the plug!

So glad we got to share this walk on Sixth Avenue together. Tomorrow's post is a sweet treat. The clue is cupcake.

Wishes for sweet dreams and holiday magic.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Christmas Time in the City

Times Square at Twilight
There are no specific holiday decorations visible, but the red and green lights had a very festive look. 

Today was a much quieter day than yesterday, and I stayed in my neighborhood doing errands and taking a nice long walk. I had lunch with my college roommate and introduced her to our local Michael's. I bought tags and the makings for cards, which is my project for tonight. 

Wishes for a sweet and festive week!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

It's Christmas Time in the City...SantaCon

Am I the last person in America to know about SantaCon? 

On the subway, in Grand Central Station, in the Bronx, at Bryant Park -- I was all about New York City today -- there were Santas and Santa's elves and Mrs. Santas everywhere. I hadn't heard about SantaCon, but a Child on Christmas Morning kindly explained it to me. It is a pub crawl throughout the city. Participants receive information on stops via Twitter. 

  Santas and other travelers buying MetroCards for the subway. Now we know how presents are delivered in New York City. 

Santa and Mrs. Claus stop for coffee and a snack.

This member of the North Pole Fire Department has his dalmatian with him. 

Elves joined in the festivities. 

This must be a great benefit to the costume and party stores. I've wondered about who bought some of the costumes I've seen in the party store near my office -- some Naughty Elf looks -- and now I know.  

My look was less festive. I did have on a green sweater and a red jacket, but I would not have been mistaken for an elf -- good or naughty. I had a wonderful time visiting Arthur Avenue in the Belmont section of the Bronx, on a food tour. I will be doing a post about my visit to the Bronx in the next few days. I hope everyone had as yummy a day as I did!  

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pinterest Gingerbread Fest

You are cordially invited to 
a gingerbread tea!

Source: via Carol on Pinterest

This magnificent gingerbread villa will decorate our table...

Source: via Amber on Pinterest

The sweetest gingerbread houses will grace our teacups...

Source: via Carol on Pinterest

And of course we'll have gingerbread to go with our tea! It was difficult to pick which gingerbread treat to serve, but this combination of cookies and cupcakes seemed to be the perfect choice. 

I've got the water boiling. So looking forward to sharing a cup of tea and a gingerbread snack with you. No RSVP needed. You know you're always welcome.

Hugs and wishes for a sweet Friday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Attention: All Crafters in Buttercupland

The lovely blogger Melissa at Crafting from the Heart is doing a fabulous end-of the-year giveaway. One of the gifts is a $150.00 gift certificate to Michaels and that is only one part of the giveaway. There are a few major, wonderful craft things that the winner will receive. The giveaway is open until January 1. Besides the possibility of a great win -- my year would be off to a terrific start -- there are some wonderful craft ideas. One of my hopes for next year will be to do more paper craft and I know I will be stopping by to visit Melissa often.

I'd love to be able to be a more proficient at sewing or knitting, but alas these are just not my talents. But if I was I would make this cute little gingerbread lady to brighten up my apartment. I know there are some talented citizens of Buttercupland. What crafts are you working on for Christmas and Chanukah?

I'm happy to be home and cozy. It was a chilly walk home from the subway, so I'm going to have a cup of tea and do some visiting.

Wishes for a sweet evening and sweet dreams. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's (Sort of) Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

...but a lot less than the last few years. John, Lorraine and I made this observation on our walk last week and it was affirmed for me on a visit to Bloomingdale's tonight. There is a branch of the post office not too far from Bloomingdale's. I planned to cut through Bloomingdale's, take some pictures of the beautiful decorations to share with all of you and then walk a few blocks and mail my package. I walked, I mailed my package, but there wasn't much in the way of decorations to photograph. There were some snowflakes and some wreaths, but not the big, colorful decorations I expect in department stores. I do have a picture from our visit to Chicago. We went for makeovers at Bloomingdale's on Michigan Avenue and just happened to take a picture.

Festive wishes for love and peace!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pinterest Gingerbread Fest

I'm just catching up with this month's Pinterest theme and I've picked my absolutely most favorite holiday treat, which is...


This is the sweetest gingerbread house I've seen this season, and I've looked at lots of them. I was so taken with the peppermint decor and the little sledder by the side of the house. I like ginger sweets in all permutations, from latte to cookies to candied ginger. The ginger snap was the first cookie I ever baked independently -- in the third grade -- and I was so proud to follow the recipe and actually produce cookies. My mother was a wonderful baker and thought it was not too soon to teach me to bake from scratch. 

Is anyone else a gingerbread fan? If not, what's your favorite holiday sweet?

Sweet, sweet dreams!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

It doesn't take snow to make a winter wonderland. All that I need is the lights on Fifth Avenue and company of friends. I had both on Thursday night.

I had a wonderful evening with Lorraine and John. Lorraine is the creator of a terrific blog, "With a Grateful Prayer and a Thankful Heart." This was one of the first blogs I discovered when I started blogging almost three years ago and if you are not a visitor, I strongly encourage you to stop and visit. It is a warm and beautiful look at life through Lorraine's perspective. There are crafts and great recipes and some of the best photography in Blogland. Lorraine and John were visiting from New Jersey and we had a great evening enjoying the lights on Fifth Avenue and happily chatting for hours. I didn't get home until nearly midnight. It was past my bedtime, but I think we could easily have talked for several more hours.

 The first floor decorations at Saks Fifth Avenue. We were disappointed with the windows, but the interior of Saks was lovely. 

Across the street from Saks, Rockefeller Center frames the Christmas Tree

 We watched the construction of the decorations at Tiffany's

Lights on Fifth Avenue. The Plaza Hotel is in the background. 

Lorraine is a wonderful photographer

Thank you, dear friends, for a wonderful evening. I will long remember the warmth and friendship. 

So enjoyed my weekend in Connecticut. A proper post with pictures will follow. We were blessed with sunny weather, fun shopping, a great time at a country craft fair and lots of laughter. Can't ask for more.

Wishes for sunny weather, fun and lots of laughter! 

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Not Lost in Space

No, Buttercup isn't lost somewhere in the Andromeda Galaxy. I am off to Connecticut to spend the weekend with my best friend from fifth grade. We've got a craft fair to visit!

It's been a whirlwind few days. A great evening with a blogger friend and her husband, more dental work, a funeral and of course, work. Pinterfest Friday will be temporarily moved to Monday, with a great new holiday theme and there are lots and lots of pictures to come.

Wishes for a very sweet weekend!