Monday, November 26, 2012

It's a Blue Monday Without You

I'm not sure that as suggested by my blog buddy and terrific photographer, Nancy, that I am going to be able to do a series of bright subway cars. I did see a red car in addition to the pink and blue, and I was hoping for a lime green, which I didn't see. What I also didn't see in my travels for the last few days were very many Christmas decorations. I steered clear of the busier areas that are decorated, including the big department stores. I will be making a few trips to see the decorations -- definitely the tree at Rockefeller Center and a few of the big stores -- but so enjoyed not being in crowds over a busy, busy weekend. The areas I visited had very few decorations. I'm not sure if it's cost cutting or a sign of the sadness that's in the city. 

Though today was hectic -- and snow is expected tomorrow -- I am still relatively relaxed. I spent a good hour tonight shopping for baby presents on Amazon for a baby shower on Sunday. The shower is for a friend and colleague's daughter. I had a wonderful time at Amanda's bridal shower and wedding and so looking forward to celebrating with her at this happy time.

Wishes for warm and cozy!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Pretty in Pink

The ride goes better in pink!

I had a very enjoyable day with friends yesterday. We liked the play, walked in Greenwich Village and just had fun being together. We even had several flakes of snow, which is just the way I like snow. But what I didn't have was a great photo day. This was the only picture I took. It's one of the cars on the Shuttle -- the subway between Grand Central Station and Times Square -- and it was painted pink. There were other brightly colored cars and if I get the chance today -- I'm traveling in the same direction -- I will try and ride in another car to snap the color. The Village was pretty, but not holiday festive and that was my photo focus. I'm hoping to take a picture that can be turned into my photo card this year. It's sunny today, so I'm hoping for better luck. 

Wishes for a Pretty in Pink Day!    

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Pinterest Celebrationfest

Source: via Carol on Pinterest

I love browsing Pinterest. One of my favorite things is to find gooey, calorie-ridden recipes. These are recipes that I would make daily if there were no calories in the world. There are lots of calories in reality, but none in Buttercupland, so this is the place to share some of my finds. I will be featuring some of my favorite choices for luscious calorie filled holiday treats from now until New Year's on Celebrationfest. 

I think you're going to see a lot of gingerbread here. I love gingerbread -- all things ginger -- and don't get enough of it. But I've got a few other treats in mind, and I never know what other treasures I will find on Pinterest. I'm starting with this fabulous gingerbread pudding cake. Calories or no calories, I think I may need to make this. Any other ginger fans in Buttercupland?

I'm off to meet friends at the theater. I will be in the East Village, so I hope to bring back some pictures of New York at the holidays. A toast to a happy and healthy Saturday!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thankful Friday

Yesterday morning while I was chopping and peeling I thought about the things I was thankful for. At first my mind went around the misfortunes of this year and to be very honest, I didn't feel especially thankful. But as I chopped -- and scraped the seeds out of the jalapeno peppers -- people and things came to my mind and by the time I arrived at my friends' house the list was quite long. It's very specific and I'd like to share my top ten things I am grateful for this morning, in no particular order.  

1) My wonderful neurosurgeon, Dr. Snow. 

2) Heat and light! 

3) The New York City Employees Retirement System, which administers the city pension plan. I'm not there yet, but so grateful it exists.

4) My personal technology consultants, Jess, David, Ben and Brandon. 

5) Baby Charlie, my friend's great-nephew who is two weeks old. 

6) Theater tickets that cost $4.50.

7a) Our (recovered) public transit system and 7b) the forecasters at the National Weather Service, especially G., who kept us informed every day during Sandy.

8) The folks at Mike's pizza in Long Island City, who delivered chicken parm sandwiches during a hurricane, and those sandwiches were delicious. 

9) Blog friends, near and far

10) The good health and well-being of all I shared Thanksgiving with and those whose tables I couldn't join, my Connecticut family and my North Country family.  

The cranberry jalapeno relish was a great hit and it will be making a return engagement next year. I'm going to make another batch this weekend to go with the leftover turkey in my refrigerator. I liked our pomegranate drink, but call me old-fashioned, I think I will stick with cranberry martinis. On that note, here's a toast to all for a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It's Soup Time...

Erica, you're the winner of the Progresso Soup giveaway! I will be emailing you to get your name and address to send to our sponsors. Again, thanks all for entering and thanks to our sponsors, Progresso and My BlogSpark for their generosity. 

A note of correction is in order. I was chatting with my dear friend and Thanksgiving host, Nancy, about yesterday's post and cranberry martinis. She let me know that we are in for a change and there is a new yummy beverage being featured tomorrow made with pomegranate. I will definitely share my review over the weekend. I also am going for a change in one of my Thanksgiving contributions. One of my standards for a number of years is cranberry pear relish with ginger. We all like it and it's requested every year. But this year I saw a recipe for cranberry apple ginger relish with jalepeno, and decided that it was time for a change. I was a little wary of the jalepeno, but the recipe sounded so good. I will let you know if this is as popular as our standard cranberry treat. For those of you who are twitter friends, I am planning to tweet the recipe. 

Do you mix it up and try new holiday recipes or do you stay with the tried and true? We are sticking with our  beloved brussel sprouts and not abandoning turkey, but there will be some new dishes around the table. Best of all there will be familiar faces, loving hearts and grateful thoughts as we celebrate. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Pinterest Cranberryfest 2012 Version

I had ideas for a billion brilliant posts today, but when I sat down to write just one post my brain seemed the consistency of cranberry sauce. No brilliance emerged. I am falling back on a holiday-appropriate response. It doesn't make up for the weekly Friday Pinterest themes I enjoyed doing last year, but this Pinterest pin speaks completely to the season and to my mental state. This year's Pinterest cranberry choice...

The Cranberry Cosmopolitan, thanks to Martha Stewart, which is very similar to the cranberry martinis we've enjoyed for the last several Thanksgivings.  I can definitely recommend this!

I haven't spent much time visiting Pinterest lately, but I had a great time tonight and I've got some fabulous, yummy recipes to share in the next month. I'm starting Pinterest Fest on Friday. Please stop by and visit. Also, please stop by and visit tomorrow to see the winner of the Progresso Soup giveaway. 

Happy baking, cooking and tasting!

Monday, November 19, 2012

It's Almost...

...Christmas Time in the City!

Truth be told I haven't been the perkiest little buttercup this last week. I'm physically tired, not sleeping well and just out of all energy, physical and psychic. You can see it in the lack of blog posts at what is usually one of my favorite times of year.  I've been unusually cranky and not especially interested in doing very much. I've gone to work and the laundry has gotten done and I've grocery shopped, but I haven't had energy for much else. As I was walking to the subway this morning I realized how sad and angry I was. That realization was somehow freeing and I didn't try to pretend that all is well. It's not. This has been one of the toughest six months of my life and this buttercup is wilted. 

So how did the perky title above happen? My group at work gave a breakfast this morning and I arrived to find they had set a wonderful array of foods -- including homemade pumpkin muffins -- outside of my office door. It was hard not to smile with this terrific surprise. The day went okay and I refrained from barking at anyone. When I got off the subway I was surprised by one of my favorite sights. 

The scaffolding for the Christmas trees! Very soon the aroma of evergreen will fill my walk home. 

Am I back to where I was a month ago? Not close to it, but I pray that each day will be a little more healing. I'm not going to pretend all is well, but I am going to make an effort to find the joy, even when it is hidden from my view. 

Wishing you, too, hope and joy! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Progresso Baby It's Cold Outside Light Creamy Soup Giveaway

Yes, that's a mouthful for a title and this soup is a warm rich creamy mouthful, too! In September I was approached by Progresso and My BlogSpark about a giveaway for Progresso's new light soup. I tried both the Creamy Potato with Bacon and Cheese and the Chicken Pot Pie. I liked both soups, but I was especially taken with the potato soup. I am a fan of potato soup and though this has a lower calorie count, I didn't feel I was deprived. This makes a very nice cold weather dinner served with a salad and my favorite walnut nut rolls from our nearby bakery.

I'm very happy to offer a giveaway of two cans of soup, a great blue lunch bag, a water bottle and a mug with a lid and spoon. The mug and spoon are great for the office and mine now has a place there. This is a quicky giveaway. I had planned to do this as my third October giveaway, but Hurricane Sandy arrived and my blogging got pretty sporadic. Entries close on Tuesday, November 20 and I'll announce the winner on Wednesday, November 21. Please leave a comment and let us know your favorite soup. In addition you must be a citizen of Buttercupland, i.e., follow this blog.

Again, many thanks to Progresso and My BlogSpark for the terrific giveaway, just in time for the cooler mitten and glove weather that's arrived!

**I have not received monetary compensation for this review, but have been given samples of the products  for review.

Monday, November 12, 2012

There's Talent in Buttercupland

Not me, but we have some very talented citizens!

I usually put a list for Christmas/Chanukah shopping together some time in the summer. I like choosing things while I'm on vacation or at weekend craft fairs. But this year was different and I didn't even think about gift giving until last Friday. Chanukah is three weeks away and Christmas will be right behind. I wanted to find fun, useful and special things for friends and family, and not necessarily mass produced. I turned to my very talented friends in Buttercupland to begin shopping. Thanks, Etsy and thanks, friends. 

I've written about Becky of "Hospitality Lane" before and am happy to chat about her latest project, Tommy Candles, which benefit orphan adoption. Two of my work friends will have these beautiful candles to look forward to. I ordered the Christmas Cabin scent and it will be difficult to give them away. 

I then turned to Marie's art blog, "The Artful Heart. Marie is a talented artist and her beautiful prints will gladden the hearts of three friends. I will still have to frame them when they arrive, but I love the idea of giving original work done by a friend. 

My next stop was ordering copies of Terra's book on motherhood firsts. I've written about this wonderful collection before, but am happy to give it a shout out again. She is also the co-author of a book on Christmas firsts that is perfect for this season. 

This was fun shopping. I skipped the long lines, chose from beautiful, crafted products and bought from friends for friends and family. I think I may have started a new holiday tradition. 

Central Park, Manhattan

This was the third day of a three day weekend, of which I am so appreciative. The weather was warm and sunny and I sat outside for an hour reading the newspaper.  I started the morning with a quick medical appointment, sat outside and then took a quick trip to Michaels.  I've had a quiet afternoon and am about to go and hear Barbara Kingsolver, one of my all-time favorite authors read from her new novel. Of course I didn't accomplish everything I hoped to do in the last three days, but have gotten a lot done and am feeling better rested. The latter was a big goal of mine. Hope your day was as sunny this photo of Central Park!  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Remembering on Veterans Day...

Those who served...  

My father is in the back row to the left. He was drafted after Pearl Harbor and released from duty in 1946. He served in the United States and in combat in Europe, including France and Belgium.

...And those who serve now.  
You have my complete and total gratitude. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Buttercup, Consumer Advocate

Groceries in Manhattan are expensive. It's an island off islands -- as we so found out in the last few weeks -- and everything is shipped in. I came to understand this when I moved here in 1975 and through shopping carefully and sales I try to keep my grocery costs to less than exorbitant. The supermarket around the corner is about a quarter of the size of a small Walmart and probably at least twice as expensive. But it's convenient and I am a frequent visitor. I have learned, however, that the scanning doesn't always match the price announced and I watch the checkout like a hawk.

Tonight I was excited to find my favorite light rye on sale. But when I reached the checkout it rang up at $3.99. After I raised my concern, the young man who was at the counter went downstairs -- yes, it's two floors -- and came back telling me the price was $3.99. I said I didn't want the crackers and paid for my other purchases.

This troubled me. Was I reading wrong or simply hallucinating? I went back downstairs and whipped out my cell phone camera. The proof is in the picture! It's not about the principle here, it's about the price. Are you a careful checkout observer? What tips have you learned for grocery savings?

I had a nice day and enjoyed lunch with friends and our Bible study. We continue in 1Kings and have reached the tragic reign of King Ahab. We had a great discussion and I am so grateful for a time for learning and friends to study with.

Wishes for a sweet Saturday!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Isn't it Ironic?

I work at an agency that runs 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. We run on Christmas, New Year's and the Fourth of July. I didn't really think what this would mean when I accepted the job nineteen years ago, but it soon became obvious. When it snows and other people are told to stay home we are expected to come to work, because we are essential. When other people curl up in warm beds we get dressed and trudge
through the snow. I came to accept it a long time ago, but I was still grateful to know the end was in sight.    

As I seriously thought about retirement in the last year, I could imagine not bringing the same level of responsibility to weather emergencies. My thought was to be retired this summer and with each season I would think thoughts like, "This is my last snowstorm." Just three weeks ago I was thinking that Hurricane Irene was the last hurricane I would deal with at my present job. Ha! There are three things in particular that make for very difficult days at work -- snowstorms, hurricanes and very large meetings that take place at night. In the last ten days we've had all of them. Isn't it ironic?

I've been chewing this over in the last few weeks. If I'd retired...But it was so clear that this was not the path for me. I have a dear friend and colleague who also thought she would retire last summer. We thought we might even do a joint retirement party. But we are still working together and neither of us is quite sure when we will retire. We were given a big responsibility today, one I had hoped not to do. Yes, it was going to be something retirement would give to someone else. This, too, passed to us. I felt that I'd been hit in the head and am still reeling. As we talked and planned this afternoon I expressed my dismay and concern about the project, and ended with, "If we'd retired..." She is a wise woman and her answer was quick, "We are here for a purpose," and she reminded me of several things we would want to do, and will be able to do because we hadn't retired. With her reminder I became grateful for the opportunity, however difficult it will be.

Today's title comes from one of my favorite songs, Rodgers and Hart's, "Isn't it Romantic?" sung by one of my favorite singers, Ella Fitzgerald. There's no real reason to share it, but we never need a reason to enjoy Ella Fitzgerald. Her music makes any day better.

I hope Ella and her music made your day better. Wishes for a sweet weekend!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Guest Post from Breezy Point (2)

Mike returned to Breezy Point yesterday to work on the little cottage and sent me this update to share with all of you.

Mike writes:

 Please tell your blog friends I spent the day at Breezy Point. Still much sadness. Some houses were red tagged meaning the premises was too dangerous to enter. My house got a green tag. That meant that the premises appeared structurally sound from the outside. 

 I had my wife and her nephew with me. He is NYPD (New York City Police Department) and was a great help. The Red Cross was there and the Marines! Those Marines were wonderful. They pumped me out and helped with the debris. Semper Fi. 
 We ripped out sheet rock and soaked insulation. The house is still soaked and there is a foot of water in my windows. They look like aquariums. 
 I spoke with the inspector later and he told me I was a low to the ground and it is an old house but from the outside it did well against Sandy. They still have to inspect the inside but we got over one hurdle. 

 There was much activity and the debris is in huge mountains. Much sadness and many are so much more unfortunate that we are. 
 Thanks for your prayers and wishes. Today was a better day for us. 

As always, many thanks from all of us in New York City for your prayers and encouragement. As you can see your prayers extend beyond the blog page and into the hearts and thoughts of my friends and colleagues. 

It's been snowing for the past six hours. It was a wet, heavy snow earlier and now it's much lighter. Unfortunately it's getting colder and it really feels like a January day and not early November. What a week, with both a snowstorm and a hurricane in the last seven days. 

I'm taking a moment for gratitude. Gratitude for my warm apartment that waited for me tonight, for a hot shower and cup of peppermint tea and blog friends to share my feelings with. Sweet dreams, dear friends!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Unless You're in New Hampshire...

You can still vote!

 It's a right and a responsibility

In the last week I'd almost forgotten that there was a Presidential election today. I hadn't actually forgotten -- how could I? -- but it had slipped behind the immediate issues in New York. But nonetheless I was at my local polling place before 8:00 a.m. this morning. It took almost an hour to vote -- we have a new cumbersome system in New York City -- but I was glad, very glad that I voted. For major elections I always vote in the morning. For a number of years I worked on political campaigns and it wasn't possible to get home to vote in the evenings and I hate to miss the opportunity to vote. 

When my mother was born women couldn't vote and I thank the brave and intrepid women who made it possible for me to vote today. I had the opportunity to visit Susan B. Anthony's home in Rochester and I was awed by her efforts to make sure women could vote. Standing in line for an hour is very little compared to all that those brave women sacrificed.

Susan B. Anthony home in Rochester, NY

As an election footnote, the two Senate candidates from New York are both women who graduated from Dartmouth. Awesome!

If you've still got time, zip over to your polling place and vote! 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Tree Grew in Manhattan and Thoughts on Stuff

I took this picture this afternoon. This is a block from my building. It's the first time I've walked by it in daylight since the storm.  

Thoughts on Stuff

My synagogue has launched an active program for assisting folk who are in shelters. We brought bags of blankets, toiletries and other necessities to the Lower East Side on Friday and today did a collection for the Rockaways. It's gotten cold and there's a real need for warm clothes -- all my extra socks went to a good home -- and blankets. I knew I had some extra shampoo and soap in my bathroom vanity and found a surprise when I went in to find them. I'd had a leak at some time and things I'd put there were damp and in some cases, just ruined. If I'd kept the vanity more orderly -- and had less stuff -- I'd have realized this.  I still had lots of good things to donate, but that made me realize how much I had that I didn't need.

It was the same with my closets. I had lots that I didn't need. Lots! I was able to donate a lovely pair of brown wool pants, size 8. I don't think I've worn size eight pants since Ronald Reagan was President, and then it was definitely during the first term. I'm sure I thought I would one day be able to wear these pants again, but realistically I doubt it. It gave me a good realization of how few items of clothes I really use and really need. I will think very carefully before I buy another scrap of clothes to bring home.  

The two days off -- though keeping up with email -- have been great. I've been thankful for quiet, for friends and for light and heat. I hope you've had a good weekend and wish you well for the week ahead. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween on Broadway

There are few things sweeter than a regular, average quiet Saturday afternoon. I treasured my moments of walking in the autumn light this afternoon in my neighborhood. I went to services, did grocery shopping and took a walk. The grocery store is spotty in its supplies and I made sure to restock on milk and toilet paper, two necessities of life.  I also took an afternoon nap and am slowly getting recharged.

I am feeling guilty for not doing something today to help in those areas still suffering so much. But I also know that next week holds long days and I need to get some rest to do the things that I need to do and can best be of service.  

Halloween was my first day back in my neighborhood and I encountered lots of trick or treaters during my errands. Both young and not-so-young folks were dressed in costumes. This entire week has been surreal and the Halloween costumes certainly contributed to this feeling.

Young and not-so-young in costume 

Letter to Hogwart's on its way
There were a lot of princesses on Broadway

This gentleman appeared to be in Mad Hatter attire. 

Update on No-Spending October: I spent a total of $19.75 on things. I bought two Halloween cards, a tube of anti-pain lotion recommended for nerve pain and paper goods, tissue, paper towels and toilet paper. These are all things that will be/have been used and nothing that counts as "stuff," that will take up space. I don't feel that I missed buying anything I needed. I explored my closet and found a pair of pants I'd forgotten I owned and are great for this time of year. I also spent $27.00 cleaning my favorite winter jacket and getting it mended. It looked sad at the end of last winter, but it's looking nicely refurbished and the tailor did a great job matching the missing snap. I'm designating November as Low Spending November. I know there are holiday purchases I want to make, but I will really think before I spend and I will report back here. 

I hope everyone is having a sweet Saturday. I'm off for some blog visits, so I'll see you in Blogland!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Adventures and Misadventures

The days are filled with adventures and misadventures, but each day seems a little better. New York is still very far from where we were last Sunday, but for many people, including me, life is getting a little easier. Four friends have their power back and they are in Long Island, Westchester, Queens and New Jersey, which beside Lower Manhattan and Staten Island, are the places that have been most seriously affected. The Marathon has been cancelled, which though a great disappointment to many, will free up just about every city service to focus on the immediate task of recovery. Getting fuel is still a major problem, but deliveries look to have started to arrive which will mean that folks who need to drive will be able to do so.

In the land of misadventure I took one of the two subway trains I ride for work this morning. It was literally jammed and I was about to have a major panic attack. I got off the train figuring I could walk four blocks to another stop for my second train and found the area I needed to walk through cordoned off and guarded by police officers.
A gust of wind on Monday broke this crane away from its securement and it's now dangling precariously over West 57th Street, very close to Carnegie Hall. 

I went back to the train I had gotten off and made my way to the office, via two other trains. A little misadventure, but I am very grateful for the (partial) return of the subways. Work continues on getting the complete system back in operation.  

Happily my day at work was relatively calm. My closest colleagues and I are T-I-R-E-D and the fatigue is getting to all of us. I am so grateful that tomorrow is Saturday and unless there is a major crisis I don't have to be in the office. I treated myself to a massage tonight and tried a place right in my home neighborhood. It wasn't a fancy spa, but the massage did wonders for my neck, which was twisted into a giant pretzel. I know I will sleep better tonight. 

I am hoping for a quiet weekend, with services tomorrow morning, lunch with a friend and some cooking. My treat once again is to visit my blog buddies and catch up on the goings on throughout Blogland. I'll be posting, too. I have pictures from Halloween in New York and a report on No-Spending October. 

Wishes for a calm and quiet weekend!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Guest Post from Breezy Point

For the last year I've been encouraging my friend and colleague, Mike, to write a blog about home restoration. He had bought a very run-down cottage in a beach community in Queens, Breezy Point and was totally restoring it. He worked on the foundation, the structure, the plumbing, put in a new electrical system and was just finishing the sheet rock when I went to visit two Sundays ago. The bathroom was just about finished and it was great, with white wainscotting, grey tiled floor and a cute sink and vanity with oak trim. I have become close to Mike's family and have found true friends. I was awed by Mike's work and could already visualize the backyard barbecues next summer. Eight days after my visit Hurricane Sandy arrived and devastation came to Breezy Point.

Mike sent a note out today and I asked if I could share it with all of you, who have been such steadfast supports to us in New York. He graciously agreed and I will also post several photos he took last night. They give a sense of the tremendous damage caused by the storm.

Mike writes:

Work is crazy. I can’t talk right now but it is comforting to know that I have such considerate and caring colleagues. These last few days have eerily remind me of 9/11.  It’s hard to believe the magnitude of this storm. I have been staying overnight at work since Sunday. Last night was the first time I could get to Breezy Point.  Very sad situation there.  It was a lovely little beach community where cars stop to let you cross the street and people you don’t know say hello to you.  It now looks like Hiroshima at the end of WWII.  In some spots, there are little signs that houses were once there.  Other houses are collapsed and others pulled from their foundations. Many homes that escaped an 11 foot tidal surge were later devoured by fire. 

The Little house that my son helped me restore still stands. The high water mark is almost as high as the top of my front door. The whole house filled with neck high water.  My decks and fences have been replaced by debris from some other poor neighbor’s home. I waded through 4 feet of water for at least the length of three city blocks to get to it.  The surge must have been tremendous.  Cars were tossed around like toys.  My refrigerator wound up in my living room.  The Kitchen Sink and cabinets came out and moved across the room. All the inside contents of the house are destroyed and strewn all about. Walls, flooring and wiring and even the kitchen has to be gutted.   Salvageable?  Maybe but there is much damage. 

Regardless, the shell of the house remains standing defiantly proud and the family is sad but well.    


Again, my thanks, blog buddies, for all of your support and prayers.