Wednesday, December 25, 2013

These Gifts We Bring

Wishes for a bright and blessed Christmas

I’m not sure how many thousand times I’ve heard “The Little Drummer Boy.“  Mostly it’s been in elevators, on car radios and in commercials on television. It never seemed the equal of the great Christmas hymns or the classic Christmas songs like “White Christmas.“ It wasn’t quite “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,“ but I always felt there was something second-rate about it, as much as I kept time to the rum-pa-pum-pum.

My feelings had a complete turnaround on Friday night. I had the privilege of being at a wonderful concert at Lincoln Center, with the New York Philharmonic and one of my favorite singers, Brian Stokes Mitchell. The high point of the evening was yes, “The Little Drummer Boy,” and I no longer think of it as second rate.  The phrase that spoke to me was “these gifts we bring.“ I’d heard it thousands of times, but this was the first time I really heard it.

I’ve spent the last few days thinking about what gifts I can bring to the world, a topic for a later and longer post. But I’ve also spent time thinking about the gifts you all have brought to me, especially the gift of friendship.  If any among you think you have no gifts to bring, think again and again, for you would be sorely wrong. Thank you all for these gifts you bring.  I have been so richly blessed.

For the next week I am on a blog vacation. You might see a picture or two, but it's time to step off the merry-go-round for a little while and catch my breath. I will be back on January 1, 2014 with my perfect word for 2014. My wishes for a bright and blessed Christmas, a week of calm and fun, and a glad new year. 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Not a Creature Was Stirring...

Except for some sweet little Peeps.

On a day in early October I had the good fortune to be the guest of the Peeps folks for a #SneakPEEPS event to see the Peeps Christmas decorations and recipes. It was a warm day and Christmas seemed very far away. But now it's Christmas Eve -- how did the autumn fly so fast? -- and not a minute too soon to enjoy the sweet PEEPS ideas. 

 I liked the jolly snowman made of Peeps. I'm not the most crafty artist, but this looks within my talents and he was so cute!

This table had fabulous treats. It's hard to pick a favorite -- they were all yummy -- but I'm especially partial to the Peeps chicks with dark chocolate and pretzel on the far left. I also liked the gingerbread Peeps a lot. 

"Peeps" -- on the far left -- has joined our happy group of snow folks and teddies, and they are all wishing you a sweet Christmas Eve.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

My Wish for You

Fresh flowers in the winter...

Many moments of fun and laughter...

Lots of time spent with your favorite girls and boys...

I wish you days of love and laughter with your favorite people in your favorite Christmas and all through the year. 

I spent this summer day in December -- seventy degrees -- walking on one of my favorite streets in New York City, Madison Avenue, enjoying window shopping. I'm finishing my cards, wrapping a few last presents and savoring the aroma of evergreens in the street. I hope your day was as relaxing and peaceful. 

As always, thanks for visiting and thanks for your friendship. Wishes for a bright and blessed week.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Macaron Pink Saturday

We've got some especially delicious Pink Saturday fun today. After my visit to the Frick Collection on Wednesday I spent some time walking on Madison Avenue. I thought each window was prettier than the next until I came to these windows. They were the prettiest windows I saw that day.

Maison Laduree is a branch of a French company that specializes in fabulous macarons. Macarons are generally brightly colored almond meringue wafers with delicious fillings. These are gold and I was captivated immediately. They are pricey -- $2.85 each macaron -- but they are supposed to be the best in New York City. I might have been tempted to try one, but the store was literally packed with customers waiting to buy the sweet treats. I made a note to return after Christmas and was happy to find in the linked article that they will be opening a large tea shop in Soho in "early 2014." I think I can wait until the tea shop opens and look forward to a special treat in the winter days of February or March. You know there will be lots of pictures.

In the crazy days of winter weather this December it's spring today and tomorrow is supposed to be close to summer. I'm not complaining, but it is odd. I'm going to make the most of it and return to Madision Avenue to window shop and enjoy the decorations tomorrow. If I really get ambitious I may head to Macy's too. Tonight I'm having dinner with friends and we'll be toasting that every day moving forward will have more light. So happy that each day moves us closer to spring.

As always, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Happy, merry and healthy!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Random 5 Christmas in New York Friday

I'm delighted that our dear friend, Nancy at A Rural Journal, is back from her break and it's officially Random 5 Friday. I've been kind of doing my own Random 5, but it's so much better to be part of the Random 5 family again.

1) Not so randomly, thanks Nancy! I definitely received a gift meeting you in Blogland and being part of the Random 5 fun every week.

2) It's a beautiful night in New York City. The temperature is fifty degrees and the only way I know it's not spring are the patches of snow left from Tuesday's storm. I've just been to a wonderful concert at Lincoln Center, which is decked out in its holiday finest.

The Metropolitan Opera at night

3) I've loved walking through the Christmas tree sale stands all over the city, especially for the aroma. As I walked through the one closest to home I realized that by this time next week the stand will be gone. Actually they will be packed up by Christmas morning. This makes me so sad. It's one of my favorite parts of the season. 

 Yes, in Manhattan your Christmas tree can be delivered to your door. 

4) The bright red of the berries captured my attention at the fruit and veggie store. I think I need to bring some home. 

5) These cute guys called out to me, too. I'm looking for one more snowman and I am a pushover for musical stuffed animals, or in this case, snowmen. These guys play "New York, New York." I know it's not Christmas music, but I'm having a tough time resisting them.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

You Know You're a Grown-Up...

My friend Andrea posted on Facebook that her best Christmas present was that the results of her husband's medical tests were negative. Besides being delighted to see this, I really got it. After all, my present to myself was a new shredder and I am happy it arrived today. But I had two wishes for December and they were about as far from frivolous as could be.

My first wish was to make sure I got to see Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring during her visit to New York. I'd made plans to visit the exhibition with a friend, but our dates weren't coming together. As the days went on I realized I'd miss seeing this if I just didn't buy a ticket. I went online and picked the first available date that worked for me. Yesterday I got to skip the line and so enjoyed my visit.

The entrance to the Frick Collection

The center courtyard decorated for Christmas. I think this is one of the most serene places in New York.

I loved seeing Girl with a Pearl Earring. I enjoyed the book and the movie and here was the actual painting. The rest of the exhibit is in a different room and Girl with a Pearl Earring has her own gallery with three guards. I wish I had a photograph to share, but they are very strict about cameras and I didn't want to be asked to leave the museum for violating the camera rule. 

The Frick Collection is so worth a visit if you are in New York City. The holdings are relatively small, but the paintings, sculpture and decorative art pieces are extraordinary. Besides seeing "Girl" a high point was seeing the three Vermeer paintings that are part of their permanent collection. The three "Girls" are grouped together and it's an amazing sight to see them all in a row. They're in good company with two Rembrandt paintings, two Van Dyck's and two large and fabulous Veronese paintings, all in one room. 

My second wish was more in line with Andrea's observation. I wanted to make sure that I scheduled my least favorite medical test before the end of the year. One, I wanted to make sure it was in 2013 when I had already used up my deductible, and two, I wanted to get it done and out of the way. I trudged out in the snow on Tuesday, took care of the test, and I am delighted to report that I don't have to go back for five more years. Happy! 

If someone had told me forty years ago that these would be my best presents I am almost sure I would have shaken my head in some measure of disbelief. But you know you're a grownup...

As far as I can tell my shopping is done and so is most of my wrapping. I've got some cards to do and one more trip to the post office is on my agenda. I'm going to stop by the office tomorrow for the holiday lunch and I'm excited about a concert at Lincoln Center tomorrow night. I hope your days are as merry and happy!

As always, thanks for stopping by and take good care of yourself. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

One Day It's Thanksgiving...

How does it happen every year? One day it's Thanksgiving and I blink and Christmas is less than ten days away. I keep thinking there's lots of time and the next thing I know I'm hearing television commercials tell me I have three days left to mail. Every year! I'm making good progress on my cards, though the few that are going to England probably will arrive after Christmas. I do have a few packages to put together and that means also getting to the post office. I'm aiming for Thursday and barring something unforeseen I should achieve that goal, too. I've done my Christmas e-cards and have most of my blog post ideas ready. What I don't think I have to do is set foot in a store to buy anything. There may be a few little errands, but no major shopping events. I do promise to get to Macy's to take pictures to share here.

When I was thinking about blog posts for the rest of the year -- amazing to write this -- I remembered I haven't done the second part of my Radio City Music Hall post. I shared my Santa pictures, but still have photos of the Rockettes and the Living Nativity to share, and of course Radio City itself.

I've been to Radio City a number of times, but I am always awed when I enter. 

The Rockettes are so talented and so much fun to watch. They are on stage a lot and I am so envious of their seemingly infinite energy. This is the snowflake finale number. 

The Living Nativity is beautiful. I am always enthralled as the camels come on stage. 

We had snow today, but I had an appointment that needed to be kept and out I trudged. Mission accomplished and I was so happy to get home before it became slippery. Now it's time for my evening tea and reading -- I'm finishing "Longbourn" -- and enjoying a quiet evening. 

Hope you're warm and cozy or out having fun. As always, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Baby It's Cold Outside

This cute guy at the Christmas tree stand on the next block captured my heart the first time I saw him, and today he captured my thoughts. It's no secret, I am not a fan of winter. I like looking at snow once, and then I'm done with it. I don't especially enjoy dressing in lots of layers and I don't like being cold. Alas, it's just the middle of December and I'm tired of the winter already, and it hasn't officially begun. I will make every effort to refrain from complaining about the weather for the next few months, but I can't guarantee there won't be a time or two (or three) when I'm emoting about my least favorite season.

I'm happy to announce that the winner of the "Pelican Point" giveaway is Tina at Bringing along OCD.  I enjoy reading Tina's blog and it's been fun getting to know her. Her photographs are a delight. Tina, I'll be in touch to get your mailing information.

Even though it's early I'm home for the night. My plan is to write cards and order my last gift and then I'm going to light a holiday candle and enjoy a cup of tea and a book. Hope your evening is equally warm and cozy. As always, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Very Late and Very Random 5 Friday...

...and not so very Friday! We're still on holiday break from the Random 5 linkup,  and I certainly understand taking off some time at this very busy time of year. Between lots to do and lots of events I'm tired. But I'm also having some very good times.

1) Last Thursday was the annual Mayor Koch Alum get-together, We always hold it on the Mayor's birthday, December 12, and for the last ten years or so we've been very fortunate to be able to celebrate at Gracie Mansion, the Mayor's official residence. It was a fun party, though Mayor Koch's absence was definitely sad for me. The public rooms have been beautifully refurbished and I was happy to spend a little time just enjoying the Mansion.

2) I had a lot of fun joining a friend for a matinee to see "Catching Fire," the second book/film in the "Hunger Games" trilogy. I've enjoyed the trilogy and liked the movie of "Catching Fire" very much. I had forgotten some of the details, but they did a great job of capturing the spirit of the book. Is anyone else a fan of "The Hunger Games?"

3) I've been trying to keep up with commenting, but I'm sometimes very frustrated with bloglovin'. I'm all set to comment and if I've entered the blog through bloglovin' the link doesn't always open. I've been using Blogger, too, and have found more success there.

4) I had a great treat on Friday. The "Downton Abbey" tea truck was only a mile away, and despite the fact it was freezing I had to make a visit. It was a very fun way to build interest in Season 4. I'm not a fan of January -- cold, dark and a letdown after holiday fun -- but Season 4 of "Downton Abbey" should definitely pep me up.

 5) I'm starting to think about my word for 2014. It just came to me and I've been mulling it over. Is anyone else thinking of their word?

I'm going to run a few errands this afternoon. It's not snowing and it's in the 40s! I hope you're enjoying the day and keeping cozy. As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

There's Nothing Like Soup on a Snowy Day

One of my goals for the last few months has been to do more cooking. I've done okay with it, but I knew I had a long way to go, and was open to any assistance I could find. When the folks at Swanson offered me the chance to sample their new Flavor Infused Broths I was delighted, and when the weather report predicted snow I stopped at the grocery and bought my supplies to make Mexican tortilla soup, one of my favorites.

The recipe was simple enough for a novice chicken soup cook, as I am. I only had to cook some chicken pieces and saute onions. I added two tomatoes that I had that had passed their prime, but were perfect for soup, as well as a can of black beans and a can of corn. Then I just let it all simmer. I did omit the canned tomatoes and the pepper because I forgot to get them ahead of time. But I remembered the tortilla chips to add to the finished soup.

There's something magical about soup. Ten or twelve ingredients go into the pot and at first there's not much going on, but as it cooks and the flavors combine, it's soup. The flavors in the broth include lime, cayenne pepper, cumin, jalapeno and paprika. I was concerned the soup would be too salty or too spicy, but it tasted delicious and even better on the second day.

There are two other flavors of broth that I am looking forward to trying, Thai Ginger and Chinese Hot and Sour. I am a fan of Asian food and I think either of these would be great on a cold winter day. There is a Chinese take-out restaurant around the corner from my apartment and I've stopped there for hot and sour soup a number of times. But I think I can make an equally good soup for less than half the price using the flavor infused broth. I would also add more vegetables to my home cooked variety. Again, many thanks to my friends at Swanson for the opportunity to try the Flavor Infused broths.

I hope you're all keeping warm and cozy. Thanks so much for visiting. Your visits warm my day!

Please note: I received samples of the soup for review, but the opinions are all mine.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Visit to the Buttercupland Fair...Let's Read

Tonight is our last visit to the Buttercupland Fair. Chanukah has passed and somewhat amazingly, Christmas is less than two weeks away. But I couldn't do a fair without selections from the very talented authors in Buttercupland.

A perfect choice -- to give or keep -- is "A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts," written by a dear friend, the very gifted Terra, and a group of equally talented bloggers.

The book is subtitled "...Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday." It's a great mix of inspirational and practical, with lots of wonderful holiday ideas and stories. I love books and love to give them as gifts and this is one that makes a great choice for almost anyone on your gift list.

A second recommendation is "Can I Get There from Here?"  I met the author, Rusty Williams this summer at the Spinal Cord Tumor conference I attended, and am I a lucky woman! Rusty is funny, faithful and thoughtful, a rare combination, and "Can I Get There from Here?" is also funny, faithful and thoughtful. A retired police officer and a Reverend, Rusty brings terrific insight into the questions we often ponder about life. It's often difficult to find a book for men, but this is a great choice for the men in your life.

I hope you've enjoyed the time we spent at the Buttercupland Fair. Now it's time for Buttercup to finish her shopping -- two more gifts to order -- do some wrapping and work on my cards. The cards arrived this afternoon and I was happy to see the template I chose in Shutterfly's advertising on the subway tonight.

It's cold but clear and I got out today for my mile of walking, which felt so good. The only thing missing from my day was a cup of hot chocolate, but I'm going to fix that tomorrow.

As always thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. Merry and happy wishes!  

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's Christmas Time in the Neighborhood

We've been traveling around Manhattan looking at decorations and festivities and it's been a lot of fun. But I thought for today's post we'd stick closer to home. It's so easy to get caught up in the big excitement of the season that the joys right around the corner can be overlooked. Most of the time the greatest joys are in the little moments of light and gratitude.

Since 1991 my synagogue has shared the space of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (SPSA), UMC. Our roof collapsed and the congregation very graciously took us in. In the interim we have renovated our sanctuary, but we still have our Saturday morning services at the church, where we have space for junior congregation. It has been a wonderful friendship and we will always be grateful to our brothers and sisters at SPSA. The church was built in 1897 and there are lots of things that need renovation, especially in a building that is so well used. Last night was a benefit concert and the talent was extraordinary. David Hyde Pierce -- yes, Niles Crane from "Frasier" and Victoria Clark, a talented Broadway actress, hosted the show. The show also included Mary Louise Parker, Kelli O'Hara and the Texas Tenors. It was a fabulous night and just around the corner.

How Good it is When Brothers and Sisters Dwell Together in Harmony

This setting really taxed my cell phone camera, but it gives the overall scene. The Texas Tenors are all in black and wearing -- no surprise -- Texas ten gallon hats. 

 Just around the corner from the church Christmas tree sales were taking place. It was after 9:00 and there were still customers. 

I was happy to come home to this pretty sight. This is the Christmas tree in our building lobby. It's an artificial tree and putting it up and taking it down it takes at least four days. We had real trees for years, but New York City requires artificial trees in public spaces out of concern for fire. 

And to go from the sublime to the somewhat silly, these cuties are on my mantel. I did consider something shinier, but as I sorted through all of my cards and decorations I realized I had enough snowmen and stuffed bears to fill the mantel. I think Pepe, the monkey in the middle, looks especially spiffy in his Christmas suit. 

I had a wonderful evening in the neighborhood and I hope you did, too. I got my last minute groceries and spent today indoors, keeping out of our first snow fall. It doesn't look like much stuck to the ground, but it was nice not trudging through the snow to get to the subway this morning. I hope you had a warm and cozy day, too. 

As always thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Santa Claus is Coming to Town...

...and he's bringing a giveaway!

One of the very fun parts of yesterday's show at Radio City Music Hall were the scenes with Santa Claus. My pictures on my cell phone from the second mezzanine don't do them justice, but I think I captured the good times.  
 The staging and sets were terrific. Radio City seats thousands of people, but even from our seats we could see the show very well. There were lots of wonderful special effects, including two 3-D movies.

Infinite Santas singing and dancing...

...and more Santas on the side tiers of the theater.

Santa has asked me conduct a giveaway on his behalf.  I am happy to host a giveaway of Donna Kauffman's "Pelican Point, The Bachelors of Blueberry Cove." Santa brought me two copies and I am glad to share one with my Buttercupland buddies. I haven't read it, but it looks like fun reading for a winter afternoon. Please leave a comment for this post and be a friend of Buttercupland via Bloglovin', Google+ or Google Friend. Last entry is midnight, Sunday December 15 and I'll announce the winner on Monday, December 16. Santa would love to do this himself, but he's really busy next week and I like being Santa's elf. 

I've had a quiet day today, but I needed some time to rest and catch up after all of yesterday's adventures. I hope everyone is keeping warm and cozy. As always, thanks so much for visiting and take good care of yourself.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

All Around New York City Pink Saturday Overview

I do know it's Sunday and it's a snowy Sunday night. I've had two days of fun, especially today, which kept me away from the computer. But I'm happy to be back with a few pictures of New York City at Christmas time and to join in the fun at Pink Saturday.

Today was a complete New York City at Christmas time day. I met my dear friend Lonni -- our friendship dates from fifth grade and Girl Scouts -- and we had lunch at one of the restaurants at Rockefeller Center, enjoyed the Christmas tree and lights and saw the Radio City Christmas show. We also talked, laughed and took in all of the sights.

 One of my favorite store windows which we passed on our way to Radio City. I've got a few of these pretty dolls on my mantel, too.

Always a favorite sight on Sixth Avenue. 

One of the decorations at Rockefeller Center

A snippet of my mantle

Please don't worry, there's more to come on all of these topics. I've got pictures of all of my snowmen, bears and dolls, lots of Rockefeller Center pictures -- the Christmas tree is extraordinary -- and two blog posts for the Radio City show. Yes, it was that much fun.

I hope all of you who are surrounded by ice and snow are keeping warm and safe. I can hear the snow plow rumbling by, but so far the snow is only sticking to cars and the streets are clear. I'm about to boil water for a cup of peppermint tea, light a candle and make some visits around BlogLand, which makes just about a perfect evening. As always, thanks for stopping by and take good care of yourself!

Friday, December 6, 2013

All Around the Neighborhood Random 5 Friday

It's Friday -- a soggy, drippy Friday -- and I'm feeling quite random. Although the actual Random 5 linkup is on hiatus, I really enjoy one of day almost complete stream of consciousness.

1) I was walking to the library today...just to write this thrills me. I was walking to the library in two matching sneakers, without any extra pain or discomfort. I get excited about the thought of walking, and even in the drippy, soggy rain I was smiling.

2) This is a shout out for inter-library loan. I've got a number of books on reserve and I picked up two of them today. One of them I put on my list -- via the library website --  last week and the other has been there for three months. They are both from a much bigger branch on Fifth Avenue. My branch is truly a branch library. It's been beautifully renovated, but it's holdings aren't enormous. But that doesn't matter. I've got the entire New York Public Library inventory just a few key clicks away.

3) The book I waited three months for is "Longbourn," by Jo Baker. It tells the story of the Bennets' servants in "Pride and Prejudice." I'm only six or seven short chapters into the book, but I am totally absorbed. We've all read "Pride and Prejudice," but this gives a very new and interesting perspective through the lives of the people who washed their clothes, cooked their meals and drove them to dances.  

4) I spent last night watching The Sound of Music." I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed the music and I liked the show a lot. Audra McDonald, who played Mother Superior, is one of my favorite theater performers and I could happily listen to her all day. No, it wasn't Julie Andrews or Mary Martin, but I am delighted that NBC chose to televise a classic work of real quality.

5) I can't let another day in December go by without a picture of New York in its holiday finery. I saw this tree in a neighborhood card shop window and fell in love, especially with the New York themed ornaments.

   It's Christmas time in the city...

Wishes for a cozy, snug and safe evening. As always, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Big R Retirement Recap...

...which might also be titled, "Very little that I had in mind six months ago seems particularly relevant today."

I've been meaning to do a recap on retirement at the six month milestone, and at the request of one of my most devoted readers, K, I am looking back.

When I retired at the beginning of June I had three major concerns.

I'd be lonely.
I'd gain a lot of weight.
I'd spend my days shopping and would spend lots of money aimlessly.

No, no and more no.

I'm not lonely, though I realized I am a very social person. There are times I need to plan more activities with friends. At those times I reach out, but I don't have feelings of being alone in the world.

I weigh two pounds more than I did when I retired, but I'm sure it's more from a lack of exercise because of the broken bone in my foot, than eating. I start physical therapy in the next ten days and plan to be back to a more active exercise schedule after the first of the year.

I do very little shopping and don't find it especially interesting at all. I can barely get myself in a store and buy very little on-line unless it's something I've thought about. I've got a few sweaters that need replacing, but I probably won't get to the stores until after the first of the year for this, too. I may make an exception and when I go to Macy's to take pictures I will try on sweaters. Yes, I'm that old-fashioned. I like to try clothes on before I buy them.  

I signed up for a senior program the month after I retired, primarily for the exercise classes. The program is first-rate and I like the classes, but I don't participate in many of the other activities. I also signed up for volunteer programs and they, too, are great. But I'm not sure any of this is for me. I signed up for activities I knew about and they worked for a transition to not working. They were the things I knew, not the things I dreamed.

I had a travel list, but I've realized a number of places have been on it forever and are not necessarily places I wanted to visit now. I kept thinking I'd go on a "big" trip, but I haven't and it's not a priority. I have enjoyed the four trips I've taken a lot, but with the exception of Orlando, there wasn't one new place on the list. I learned I especially enjoy spending time with friends and learning new things at conferences.

My main goal was blogging and writing and this has been an unqualified pleasure. Yes, I almost lost my nerve a few months ago and started to look for a job, but that was a blip on the radar. I'm still a little wary to describe myself as a writer, but it's beginning to feel more comfortable. I'll report back on that in six months.

Moving forward...There are two major areas of focus, but they deserve their own post down the road. I do have a "big" trip planned, but that, too, gets its own post. My travel plans are looking more to the United States and I definitely plan to attend another blog conference -- or two! I'm reading, I'm writing, I'm spending time with friends and I'm really enjoying New York City. I can't ask for more.

It turns out my cold was actually bronchitis and I'm taking it easy. With a  second day of antibiotics I'm feeling better. As always, thanks for visiting and take good care of yourself!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A Glorious Day for the Buttercupland Fair...BaridaGlass

It's a glorious day in New York City. It's sunny, warm -- fifty degrees -- and not a bit windy. I'm so happy to share one of my favorite artists with you. I was at a friend's house several months ago chatting with Barbara when I commented on how much I liked her jewelry. She explained that she was the artist and I knew her work was perfect for the Buttercupland Fair. It's beautiful, it's useful and it's well-priced.

I love this set, though I could say that about just about every piece in the BaridaGlass Etsy shop. 

Barbara uses a fascinating process to create her work and I'm going to use her description to explain it. 

Barbara Marsh creates her jewelry and decorative pieces from sheets of colored and dichroic glass (similar to Murano glass.) She cuts, shapes and fires layers of glass in a special kiln for up to 12 hours. The dichroic glass is coated with metallic oxides. Some pieces are further refined by additional grinding and firing before findings are attached. Each piece is one of a kind, with the exception of some very simple earrings. Variations of dimension and color combinations result in distinctive pieces of jewelry. Barbara's quilting background is obvious in the color sense and precision of designs. Barbara has been working in glass for six years. 

There is an extensive collection  to choose from and Barbara will be happy to list anything you see here on Etsy for sale. She can be reached at Especially interesting and useful are the eyeglass holders, which are great for those of us who use reading glasses that we often misplace. 

This set would look great with a black sweater. 

I love the bright metal look in this set. 

If you've got a dog fan in the family -- who doesn't! -- this is a great gift. 

My original plan for the Buttercupland Fair was to do all my posts for it in October, but life got in the way. I'm going to do one more post for books in a few days. Despite all the hoopla on Black Friday and Cyber Monday there's still time to settle down at the computer with a cup of tea or cocoa and enjoy some fun Etsy shopping.   

Thanks for the get well wishes. I'm feeling better today, though my cough seems to be persisting. I was out early for a morning program at the library -- love my branch library -- and brought home two more books. But I couldn't resist one of Sue Grafton's books I hadn't read, "V is for Vengeance," and Marie Osmond's memoir, "The Key is Love." I also made my first visit to the post office in this post-Thanksgiving mailing environment, and survived. My goal is to mail early and I was delighted to start today. I'm in the midst of wrapping, so that when my cards arrive I can mail everything else next week. This will definitely be a first for me.   

As always, thanks for stopping by, and take good care of yourself.  

Monday, December 2, 2013

Happy Birthday, Anne!

I had planned to take us back to the Buttercupland Fair today and see the beautiful jewelry my friend, Barbara, makes. But the cold I've been fighting all weekend seems to be winning and my concentration has been stolen away by it. I felt awful this morning, okay this afternoon and I'm flagging again tonight. Each night I keep thinking that this will be gone the next morning, but it's a stubborn little virus and it just keeps hanging on.  

But I don't want to be all mopey and focus on my cold. Instead I'm wishing my December birthday buddies a very happy birthday!

This is a special shout-out to sweet and delightful Anne, who blogs at Phamily Blog. Her very special birthday is tomorrow. Please stop by and tell her that Buttercup sent you. I am so grateful to have gotten to know Anne and I'm happy to send her every wish for a wonderful birthday and joy that lasts for many, many years.

Dear December -- or any month -- buddies, I'm delighted to give birthday shout-outs from Buttercupland. Just let me know when your birthday is coming up.

Thanks so much for stopping by and take good care of yourself!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Life is a Precious Gift

I had some really cute posts in mind for today. I thought of writing about "Downton Abbey" and its return or posting more pictures of New York City. But I woke up this morning and glanced at my phone. There was a news flash from CNN about a Metro-North train derailment in the Bronx, and that was it. I was glued to the television set for the entire morning, and on and off for the rest of the afternoon.

Metro-North is the commuter train line to the counties north of New York City and to Connecticut. I started traveling on the line that came before it, The New Haven Railroad, literally decades ago and I travel on the line that derailed often. The last time was on Thanksgiving. I was traveling with friends and we commented that the train seemed "jumpy" somewhere just about the place it derailed today. I have many friends and colleagues who use this line daily and it is fortunate that it wasn't Thanksgiving or later today or any rush hour when the train would be much more crowded. Of course the incident isn't fortunate, but a tragedy for those who were killed and injured. So far, friends and colleagues are accounted for, including my friend Amy's daughter who was on the next train on her way back to Manhattan.

I don't think I've ever quoted a politician here in Buttercupland, and I may never do so again, but Governor Andrew Cuomo's remark stuck with me. "It's a reminder...that life is a precious gift." In the midst of Chanukah and at the start of Advent, and in the quiet moments all through the year, there is no better message.

Thanks for visiting. Take good care of yourselves and give someone you love an extra hug! 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Few of My Favorite Things Pink Saturday

It's once again time for Pink Saturday, a very fun weekly linkup. There's lots of pink this week, but also a number of posts celebrating the season. I went with the latter and I'm happy to share a few of my favorite things this time of year.

"My Favorite Things" celebrates "girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes," but I would amend it to include little girls in their party finery, whatever color. The beautiful dresses in this store window on Madison Avenue caught my eye.

Next on my list are the flowers of winter. I don't have any bulbs to force yet, but I think that's the first project for December. I loved the array at this florist.

This may be my favorite sight of the season, the scaffolding for the Christmas trees on the next block. I was so excited to see it on Wednesday. The trees have arrived -- there will be pictures -- and the block is transformed to a moment in a forest. The aroma is wonderful!

I promise lots of pictures of Christmas in New York in the next month. I will be making my annual visits to Rockefeller Center and Macy's and scouting out other great decorations. I am also pleased -- actually thrilled -- to announce that I have ordered my New York City Christmas photo cards. I think this sets a record for the last several decades for the most timely card order. My next holiday project is ordering candles from our dear Becky at Good Neighbors Candle Co. This has become a regular and fun part of the season for me.

Thanks as ever for visiting and take good care of yourself. Keep cozy!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Jelly Doughnuts Yay or Nay Random Five Friday

Our friend Nancy at "A Rural Journal," who sets up the link for Random 5 Friday is on a holiday break.Technically this means there isn't a link for Random 5 Friday, but I do like it and I'm just going to blog away with my five random thoughts.

1) In keeping with the critical holiday food questions I've been asking, e.g. Brownies vs. Blondies, my question for Chanukah is about the jelly doughnut. Jelly doughnuts and potato pancakes (latkes) are traditional Chanukah foods, representing the oil that miraculously lasted to light the candles in the Temple for eight nights over 2,000 years ago. I am a big fan of potato pancakes, but I can take or leave jelly doughnuts. My critical question for Chanukah is jelly doughnuts, yay or nay?

The latkes are to the left, but I thought the jelly doughnuts were the star of the show here. This is my local bagel shop. It's not fancy, but they have great bagels and coffee. I haven't sampled the jelly doughnuts, but they do look good. 

2) I've had a very relaxed day today. High points were coffee at my favorite bagel store, grocery shopping and dinner with one of my colleagues who was in the neighborhood. We had a great visit and it was so good to catch up. I do miss the daily chats with my work friends.

3) I was delighted to receive Chanukah cards in the mail today. The usual spot for cards is on my mantel. This highlighted the sorry state of my mantel. Not only are there no holiday decorations, but it looks forlorn. I've been looking at Pinterest and have some good ideas, but I think I'm going to do something more professional. I may do something wild like go to Pottery Barn and buy the pieces for a pretty and festive mantel. I've never done anything like this, but I'd love to come into my living room and see a nicely decorated mantel. I'm thinking of something with lots of silver and sparkle.

4) My goal for the rest of the weekend is to order my cards. If I don't get to Rockefeller Center I'll find an alternately iconic New York Christmas picture. I don't want to be mailing my cards at New Year.

5) I've had a great time visiting lots of blogs today. Somehow I've gotten out of the habit in the last few months -- I think it's due to the demise of Google Reader -- and there are lots of fun blogs I'm totally out of touch with. It's not for lack of caring and keeping in better touch is a goal for December.

My Thanksgiving celebration was great and I hope everyone had equal fun. As ever, thanks for visiting and have a great weekend! 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

The cranberries are cooked, the fruit is washed and my gifts are all ready to go. I spent a little too much time watching the Macy's parade on television, but I'm still caught up for my trip to Westchester. Thankfully, the weather has greatly improved and traveling is easier and the big balloons can fly!

My wishes for all for happy and healthy and bright and blessed, today on Thanksgiving and every day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Birthday, Charles Schulz

I've been a "Peanuts" fan forever and I couldn't let today go by without remembering Charles Schulz, on what would have been his 91st birthday. I'm pretty sure there are lots of "Peanuts" fans in Buttercupland, and I wasn't really surprised to find that "Peanuts" was read daily by over 350 million people around the world. I was delighted to find sculpture of some of my favorite friends when I visited St. Paul, Minnesota and couldn't resist taking photographs.

Sally and Linus enjoy a sunny day. 

Lucy joins the fun!

Marcie and I together for our favorite pastime. 

I'm happy to announce a winner for the Old El Paso Frozen entrees giveaway. It's Vicky at Life on Willie Mae Lane. Vicky, I'll be in touch to get your mailing details. I wish I had a gift for everyone who stopped by. Thanks so much for participating. My thanks again to General Mills through MyBlogSpark for the terrific prize. 

Thanks for joining me and our Peanuts buddies. I'm so thankful for my blog friends. Without all of you my life would be -- well, it wouldn't be! Actually, it's almost impossible to imagine my life without the sweet citizens of Buttercupland. Sweet dreams and take good care of yourselves.