Sunday, September 30, 2012

Just Another Dog Day Afternoon in the City

I am unacquainted with the folks in animated conversation on Seventh Avenue yesterday. I think they were unacquainted, too, until their dogs stopped to get to know each other. I was taken by the troop of dogs meeting and greeting and couldn't resist a photo. On second reflection I think the man with the many dogs is actor, Austin Pendleton. He's been in many television shows and was the voice of Gurgle in "Finding Nemo."

I spent a quiet day today, catching up on blogging, my sweepstakes entries and grocery shopping. I did pop out to see a movie, "The Queen of Versailles," which I enjoyed a lot. It's not about France, but rather about a real estate developer and his wife who were building the largest house in America, until the economic downturn got in their way. It more than held my interest and gave me a lot to reflect on.

What I think will become a tradition is my link to A Rural Journal and the photograph Linky party, Your Sunday Best.  This week's theme was Autumn Overload and I posted my photograph of pumpkins taken at downtown Manhattan deli. Not the usual, but my favorite picture of the week. Please stop by and enjoy some terrific photographs.

Wishes for a sweet week! 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

National Coffee Day Giveaway

Coffee is both my every day favorite beverage and a treat. I am very content with an iced coffee in the morning -- my favorite daily indulgence -- and a nice hot cup almost any time of the day. I do switch to decaf after 2:00 p.m., as I am sensitive to caffeine. But there are days when I want cappuccino or a mocha coffee. I want a "fancy" coffee, but I am loathe to pay fancy coffee prices. I want the flavor, the foam, but I do not want to pay more than five dollars a cup for my treat. Living in New York there are lots of fancy coffee places to tempt me, including one that I pass going to work and coming home from the subway. It is a temptation, but I can't see spending twenty-five dollars a week on coffee treats. 

I was delighted when my buddies at Nescafe gave me the opportunity to try Nescafe Memento.  I was a little wary at first. How could a small paper container mixed in hot water give me fancy treat taste? I was given several flavors, including mocha, caramel and cappuccino. I heated the water and then I mixed the coffee and flavoring. I saw lots of foam, but of course, the test is the flavor and it was good. Actually it was very good and I am particularly taken with the mocha. I got my fancy coffee taste at a very affordable price. 

In honor of National Coffee Day -- I celebrate this day every day! -- I am delighted to do a Memento and natural bliss giveaway. There is one first prize,  a package of Nescafe Memento Cappuccino (with eight packets), a coupon for natural bliss and a Memento coaster, and four second prizes, a coupon for natural bliss. The entry is simple. Just leave a comment with your favorite way to drink coffee, and please be a friend of Buttercup's. I will pick five names next Saturday and the winners will be announced in a post on Sunday, October 7.    

Wishes for a sweet, sweet Sunday!

*I received no compensation for this review, other than the samples of the products. My opinions are based on my experience with the products. 

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pure Bliss!

It's no secret that I am a coffee lover. I like it hot and I like it iced and I always like it light. One of my problems is that I can go three or four days without making coffee at home and I seem to run out of milk. I was delighted to discover Nestle Coffee-Mate's natural bliss. My favorite, sweet cream, is milk, cream, sugar and natural sweet cream flavor. A little goes a long way, so I don't feel I'm overdoing sweetener. Best of all I feel that I am not just getting my cup of coffee, but I am getting a treat.

I tried all the flavors of natural bliss at BlogHer and had a great time with the Coffee-Mate natural bliss and Nescafe Memento folks. I was in coffee bliss land! They were very gracious and I am delighted, due to their generosity, to host a giveaway honoring National Coffee Day. I'll give the details tomorrow, which is National Coffee Day. Right now, settle in, take some sweet sips and tell me how you like your coffee. Love to spend time with my sweet blog buddies and a cup of coffee.

*I received no compensation for this review, other than product samples.My opinions are based on my experience with the products.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Skyscrapers of Manhattan...

Then and Now

Last week work took me to an eighteenth century church on Staten Island. This week I was in lower Manhattan, surrounded by skyscrapers. 

The tallest building in the photo is The Woolworth Building. It was also the tallest building in the world when it was built in 1913. In 1930 it ceded the title to 40 Wall Street. The link has some wonderful historic views of the building. 

The building under construction in the background is the Freedom Tower, which is on the World Trade Center site. At night it is lit in red, white and blue. It is actually about three blocks from where I was standing to take this photo. I was pleased to get the sign for the 9/11 Memorial in the same picture. The pumpkin display in Tuesday's post is just to the left of the bus stop sign. 

Please stop by tomorrow and Saturday. We are having a coffee party in honor of National Coffee Day on Saturday, September 29. There will be a fun, yummy coffee giveaway on Saturday, thanks to my sweet friends at Nescafe.

Wishes for a fun, yummy Friday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thanks, My Huckleberry Friend

I know it hasn't been fashionable to listen to Andy Williams for at least forty years, but I'm proud not to have been fashionable. There have been many evenings in the last few years when I listened to youtube clips just like this one. I was happily transported back to evenings in the 1960s when my parents and I were in our den happily listening to "The Andy Williams Show." He would finish a ballad, maybe "Moon River," and my mother would say, "He has such a nice voice."

Mom, as ever, you were right. Andy Williams had such a nice voice, actually a wonderful voice, and I and so many others will miss him so. Thanks for all you gave us for so many years.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Two Word Tuesday

Pumpkin Time (in the city)

Lower Manhattan, two blocks from City Hall

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday in Staten Island

New Dorp Moravian Church, Staten Island, NY

This seems the perfect post  for a beautiful autumn Sunday. One of the benefits of my job is the opportunity to visit every part of New York City. I don't really visit, but rather attend meetings and public events, and generally I'm giving presentations about the work our agency does. Sometimes the meetings can be contentious, but on the whole I've really enjoyed meeting thousands of New Yorkers -- I've been in this job for almost nineteen years -- answering questions and providing information.    

In the interest of journalistic integrity the pictures were taken last Thursday. I'd never seen this beautiful church before or the historic cemetery that surrounds it. Happily I had my camera with me and after the program I was able to take a few pictures. It was a perfect early autumn day with one of the most beautiful skies I can remember. Actually today is very similar and though it rained last night, today is clear and sunny.  

New Dorp Moravian Cemetery

Grandfather and grandson, two centuries ago

I am linking up with A Rural Journal, one of my favorite places to visit in Blogland. There is a linkup of pictures and Sunday and a great place to visit. 

I've got a leisurely day ahead. Soup making later in the afternoon and a walk and some shopping in a little while. I hope your Sunday is a leisurely and happy day, too! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Welcome, Autumn

My apartment is quiet. I hear a faint buzz of traffic noise, but not the air conditioner. There may be a few more hot days where I will welcome the air conditioner, but now it's the season between air conditioning and snow plows. It's the season for crisp nights and mornings, for resuming wearing panty hose and turtle neck sweaters. There are apples fresh from the orchard two counties away and pumpkins at the farmer's market.

Welcome, Autumn. We've missed you and we're so glad you're coming back. We wish you could stay longer, but we know you will need to leave us too soon. So we'll savor your crispness and your bright blue skies. Here's a bouquet and a pumpkin latte to say welcome back!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Checklist...Buy Horse radish...

...make soup, cleanse my heart. 

This has been my check list for the last few days, a mix of the secular and sacred. The horse radish is bought, soup will be cooking momentarily and there are just a few last minute things to pick up at the grocery around the corner. But that last item...

Cleanse my heart, forgive, repent. I can't pick them up at the corner grocery or the specialty food store or the bakery. I can't buy forgiveness, a clean heart or a relationship with G'd. I have to do the difficult interior work that will make them happen, and I am grateful that they can't be bought. A clean heart is open to all of us, rich or poor. Starting this evening the Jewish calendar begins the ten days of awe. It is a time of prayer and a time to begin a new year with a clean heart.  

The next few days include several services of some length, generally three to four hours. I would be remiss -- especially in this time of spiritual candor -- to say that I am absorbed for the entire service. I am not. For the last three years I've brought a prayer list and when I start to wander from the service I take out my prayer list and focus on the specific prayer requests that friends have given me. I'm putting my list together this afternoon for tomorrow's service. Please let me know if you have any requests that you would like me to add to the list. It is my honor to pray for you.

My congregation sent out a beautiful book of prayers and I will end this post with this prayer from the book.

May G'd inscribe you in the Book of Life.
And so may it be and let us say Amen.  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Yes, We Bowl in New York City

Does this look like your bowling alley?

Our lives in New York City -- despite the media -- isn't all glitz and glamour. While the world is hearing about Fashion Week and Katie Holmes and Kanye West and Kim K. the rest of us were going to work, riding the subway and yes, bowling. Our office group likes to get together and folks plan events. We've had two softball games in the last year, and both times I've been out on medical leave. When I heard about our bowling event I was delighted I could attend. No, I didn't bowl. I'm not even supposed to lift fifteen pounds, let alone fling fifteen pounds down the alley. That motion could undo some great neurosurgery and months of rehab. But I was happy to cheer for my friends.

Bowling alley snack bar...does your snack bar look like this one? 

And like everywhere else we cheer for our friends' bowling success. My friend, Donna, gets her first strike. 

Definitely a good time was had by all of us. Are there other bowling fans in Buttercupland? Let us hear about your bowling experiences. 

It's a gorgeous early fall day in New York City. Sunny, clear and just a tiny bit of crisp in the air. I took care of a long overdue banking issue. It was small, but something I just hadn't gotten around to for months. I did some walking and took a lot of pictures. I'm snapping every pumpkin I see. Hope your day is as fun and sunny as mine. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Remember...

... exactly where I was eleven years ago tonight. Finally, home. 

In the morning I had stood at a window at our building on lower Broadway and in horror had watched the second Tower of the World Trade Center collapse. The sky went completely black. It was at this moment that I realized that it was possible that my death could be imminent, and asked G'd for more time. I was grateful for the life that I had, but I prayed for more time. Shortly after that my colleagues and I were evacuated out of our building six blocks south of the Trade Center. My friend Sandy and I began the long walk uptown. We walked to Grand Central Station where Sandy took a train to Westchester -- amazingly trains were running. I walked across Manhattan and took a bus -- amazingly, too, buses were running in the Northern areas of Manhattan -- to a friend's house. Ultimately, I would walk halfway home from my office in Lower Manhattan to my apartment on the Upper West Side.  Smoke hung over the city and if you could see all the way downtown you would see the fires still burning. The smoke rose for months at the site where the Trade Center had stood and there was ash all around. I was stunned, shocked and very grateful to be alive. 

My shock has turned to profound sorrow and I am still very grateful to be alive. To the memory of those who were not so fortunate -- in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. You will never be forgotten.

Two Word Tuesday

Never Forget

Monday, September 10, 2012

Thanks, Random House

Some days I just need a surprise. It doesn't have to be a big surprise, but something that perks me up, and is totally unexpected. This was one of those days. I was late to work due to transportation delays. There's an ongoing work mess that's consumed both time and energy for the last few days and we had a public meeting this afternoon that could be okay or awful. There's also the looming sorrow of September 11 that casts sadness over the days at this time of year.   The meeting was okay, but I was out of energy and cheer when I got home tonight.

Happily there was a package waiting for me and this was inside the package...

There was no letter -- did I win a sweepstakes? -- simply a packing slip with my name on it. I'd read reviews (not these, but similar) and wanted to read this very much. Thanks to my friends at Random House, now I will be able to. After I'm done, I will stop back and share my thoughts.

Are you reading anything that you're especially enjoying? Please share. I'm always on the search for reading recommendations.

Wishes for an evening with sweet thoughts and a good book!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Savings that Should be Spent

Last night I hosted my synagogue bible study group friends for a pot-luck dinner before study and the Selihot service. I live less than two blocks from our synagogue and with the exception of last year when I was recovering from surgery and one other year, I host a dinner. This service begins a heightened period of preparation for the Jewish New Year, which begins next Sunday night. My friend, Elanor brought a lovely bottle of Israeli wine. As she gave it to me she asked if I was going to save it. Absolutely not!

My days of saving things have ended. There are too many things that have been put away and not used, waiting for a more important time. Magazines and books saved to read for later, and of course, they remain unread. Dishes and glasses sit on a high shelf and rarely used, if at all. I note that the upholstery on my dining room chairs looks a little worn. I am happy that they weren't saved, but rather sat in for many get-togethers with friends. I will try to be economical with money, but generous, or even lavish with things.

In the next few weeks, I am going to intersperse the more usual blog topics, with a few more spiritual thoughts. We had a wonderful and very thoughtful speaker at our study last night and his talk helped crystallize concerns that had been in my thoughts for the last few months.

It's an absolutely beautiful day in New York City. I'm relaxing and enjoying a day with few places to go and few things to do, but one to simply be thankful for all that's good in my life. Hope your day is filled with all that's happy and good. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

Can the Ultimate City Girl Learn to Make Jam?

I had a shock tonight at the grocery. I'm a peanut butter and jelly fan -- not often -- but once a month or so I get a craving. My latest craving came a few nights ago and I searched the refrigerator and there was no jelly. I stopped at the grocery on the way home from work and was astounded in the jelly aisle. The least expensive jar of jelly/jam was $3.39. There were no sales and this is Manhattan, land of the ridiculous prices.  Somewhere in my mind I thought that jelly cost $2.59, with more for the gourmet brands. On the way home from the grocery, with my tiny jar of peach jam I got an idea. Couldn't I make jam?

I know somewhere in the array of talented cooks of Buttercupland I can find assistance. Please remember I have a kitchen the size of a closet and can't stand for very long. Does anyone have any ultra easy suggestions for me?

The week was hectic and tiring, and I came home from work each evening --did get some time last night for errands -- ate dinner, read some email and fell asleep. I am promising to rest up over the weekend, but I will get to services tomorrow and to the hairdresser on Sunday, and I will spend time in Buttercupland. There's an overdue movie review I'd like to post. What are your weekend plans? Hope there's time for rest, fun and quiet moments.

Wishes for a sweet, sweet Weekend!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My Rule for Eating All Things Pumpkin

My Pinterest pumpkin board is ready to go...pumpkin cookies, pumpkin cake, pumpkin pies and pancakes. Pumpkin pancake mix in the freezer waiting for the first cool day. And that's my rule for eating all things pumpkin. I don't do pumpkin while the air conditioning is still going. As much as I crave my pumpkin delights I am going to wait until the windows are closed, I am in flannel and the air conditioner has gone to rest for this year. Then it's pumpkin, cranberry and gingerbread non-stop. But I did buy my first crisp apple of this season, and I can't wait to eat it for dessert at lunch tomorrow, air conditioner or not! Have you launched into fall treats or are you waiting for the actual start of autumn?  

Wishes for a sweet Wednesday (and I am officially launching my autumn colors!)

Monday, September 3, 2012

The (Not-So) Lazy Last Days of Summer

My visit to Connecticut was great, though restful only in tiny spots. Instead of leisurely sitting on the terrace as I expected on the first day, we went to the beach. What a treat! I love the beach, especially the Connecticut shore -- Old Lyme and Old Saybrook area -- where I spent lots of very happy hours growing up. I don't get there very often and I haven't been to any beach at all this summer, so this was a wonderful surprise. After I met my friend Lonni in New Haven she asked if I wanted to go to the beach. I don't think ten seconds went by before I said yes.
This is the photo I tried to post on Saturday from my phone. The post came through, but without the photo. 

Lonni's friends were so gracious. We took a quick trip to Old Saybrook, did a little art and gift shopping and tried the new frozen yogurt store. After our beach visit, we sat in the backyard, puppies at our feet, tuna and chicken on the grill, and blueberry pie for dessert. Is there a sweeter end of summer evening? 

 This is the front yard of the house we were visiting. I didn't see it at the time, but autumn is definitely on the way. Summer, please stay a few more weeks. It's getting dark too soon for my taste. 

The rest of the weekend flew by. We shopped, ate (all delicious, but way too much!) and chatted, as only friends of very longstanding -- 50+ years -- can do. I am tired, but delighted that I was able to physically do the trip and have such a good time. I hope your weekends were equally enjoyable. 

And now the question on my mind...How can it possibly be September 3? As I ask every year, where did summer go? 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Last Days of Summer

Love days at the beach!

Good News/Bad News from Stinkweed

Hi blog friends, It's Stinkweed, Buttercup's less sweet alter ego. I'm jumping in to blog in Buttercup's absence. The good news is that Buttercup is feeling better, but the bad news is that she is neglecting her blog. Bad, bad Buttercup! Ususally I have Pepe with me when I jump in and take over the blog, but Pepe is working at the office. He pitched in at the computer a couple of weeks ago and liked it so much that he stayed. Knowing Pepe he is sending out some wacky email and Buttercup will have quite a job when she gets back to the office on Tuesday.

 Pepe, dressed for autumn, and Elvis hold the fort at the office. 

For the first time in several months Buttercup is making her first trip outside of New York City and going to visit friends in Connecticut. She is excited about this change of scenery, but that's no excuse for blog neglect. Luckily, it's Stinkweed to the rescue.  

I'm a busy weed! I'm off to Buttercup's lobby to look for mischief. Hope all of you have a great, great weekend.