Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Have a Rockin' 2015

I don't think I've ever used the word rockin'. I've said rocking horse and rocking chair, but not rockin'. But when I saw this sign in a Chinatown parking lot I knew it was my New Year's Eve post picture. As out of my usual sphere as rockin' is, it got me to thinking.

One of the things I think about is getting stuck in a rut. It's easy to do. I've lived in the same building twenty plus years and belonged to the same synagogue for over twenty years, too. I like tradition and I enjoy my favorite foods, restaurants and authors. I'm someone who ate the same lunch every day in high school for four years and didn't get bored with it. All that aside, I like to try new things, too. I like to meet new people, travel to unfamiliar places and discover new cuisines. I think that translates to rocking my stable world just a little bit to keep things interesting.

On that note, here's to a rockin' 2015. Wishing you delicious new foods, new friends, trips to new places, near and far and lots of new fun! 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In the Dark of December

In the dark ages when I was growing up one of my hobbies was memorizing poetry. I had a good memory and both my parents and my school encouraged this activity. I spent hours reading poems and memorizing ones I liked. A lot of the poems have faded from memory, but some remain. One of my favorites is "I Heard a Bird Sing," by Oliver Herford. I probably recite it to myself every day in December, and today was no exception.

  I heard a bird sing 
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember
'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
Though winter began last week, today felt truly like winter, especially once it grew dark after five. I was once again grateful for the gift of poetry and this sweet bird singing in the dark of December. 
As always, thanks for visiting. Take care and keep cozy!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Six Things I've Learned This Christmas Season

On December 26 it was as though a wind had come through Manhattan and blown most of the remnants of Christmas away. I realize that was only the second day of Christmas, but Valentines now were placed where Christmas cards had been. I realized I needed to hustle to find Christmas cards for next year.

On the afternoon of December 25 this was all that remained of my beloved Christmas tree stands in the neighborhood.
This led me to think about what I learned from this season, and surprisingly it was a lot. I sometimes think that this aging dog can't learn new tricks, but happily there are still new tricks to learn. In no special order -- and with random Christmas pictures -- here are six things I've learned this year. 
1) I am not crafty and it's not likely that I ever will be. My goal was to make cards this year and I bought the supplies in October. They are still on my craft shelf and I used the cards I had on hand. I had more than enough time, but I really had little interest. Next year I won't even kid myself that I will be making cards and I have already bought my cards for next year. 
 The Municipal Building, Manhattan, decorated for the season
2) I like to start my shopping early and have it finished early. With a few exceptions I bought everything by December 1, and a number of things over the summer while I was in Ireland. I did misplace one ornament -- I am hoping it turns up for next year -- but it saved a lot of time and I had a great time picking out gifts in fun places. My big trip for this year is in April and I hope to do some shopping while I'm away.  
I especially liked the mix of orchids and Christmas greenery at this florist in Chinatown.
3) Not unlike the last thirty -- maybe forty -- years I did not get out all of my cards before Christmas, and I couldn't face seasonal cards on December 26. Happily there is still a nice assortment of New Year cards and I've enjoyed writing notes in a very leisurely way the last few days. I've got a few more to go and I'm enjoying corresponding a lot.
 One of my favorite scenes at the Union Square Holiday Market
4) Inventory, inventory, inventory. I've been putting away cards and the remnants of wrapping paper and making notes about what I need. I'm on the lookout for tags and one nice roll of paper and I'm going to discard/donate things that have sat on the bottom of the holiday bags for years unused. 
5) Since retiring my life is very different  and my life at Christmas is no exception. During my working life there was a lot going on and I had many obligations. Some of these obligations were also fun, but most weren't very much fun. Now I have very few things that I consider to be obligations and the things I've been doing in the last month have been fun,  a lot of fun. I've made up for all the years of office obligations and I've been able to enjoy some of my favorite places in New York this year.
The Annunciation at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
6) No doubt about it, I love this season and I've loved sharing it. This has been a wonderful December and I am so grateful for friends throughout the world to enjoy it with.  Thank you for cards, notes, emails and comments. You all contributed to making this a wonderful Christmas time.
I'm going to savor the snowmen and Socko and Pepe in his Father Christmas outfit for just a few more days. Then they will go back to their regular homes until next year. But I will keep the memories in my heart for a long time to come.
As always, thanks for visiting and take good care. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Little Italy Pink Saturday

Once again, it's time to join in the Pink Saturday fun. This last month we've added seasonal pictures and this will be one of the last seasonal posts for this year. I have a couple of other ideas, but beginning on January 1, 2015 it will be time to return to Foodie Friday, book reviews and my perfect word for 2015. I've enjoyed spending time visiting holiday sights and sharing them, and I hope you all have enjoyed these posts, too.

I've been spending a lot of time in Lower Manhattan and it's been a real change of scenery. I don't think I've been in the City Hall area very much since I retired and in just that short while there are new buildings and a changing skyline. But as much as New York changes there are happily still old favorites. On Christmas Eve I walked uptown and stopped to enjoy Little Italy. The neighborhood is now mostly restaurants and pastry shops, but I enjoyed looking in windows.

This store had religious objects imported from Italy.

My first food stop was Ferrara's. I thought of stopping for a cannoli and coffee, but the line was long. I did enjoy taking pictures of the treats for sale.

The temptation was great, but I moved on with just pictures for souvenirs.
I had the good luck at arriving at Caffe Roma during a lull and was able to get a table without a wait. By the time I left a half hour later, every table was filled.

 This is the oldest pastry shop in the neighborhood and the cannoli I ordered was delicious. I especially liked the old-fashioned ambience.   
Christmas was lovely, warm and fun and the last few days have been spent seeing friends and enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. What a treat!
This house was just a few blocks from the friends I visited on Christmas. I enjoyed the simple, but lovely, white lights.

As always, thanks for visiting. Your visits and friendship are great gifts all year round.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

O Holy Night, the Stars are Brightly Shining...

...somewhere the stars are shining, but here in New York it is overcast and the sky is filled with clouds. It seems that there are many nights and days that there are no stars and the sky is filled with clouds, especially this year. For too many people and in too many places the stars have not been brightly shining.

Beautiful Christmas tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art...
But if you are concerned that darkness will be the theme of this Christmas post or any post in Buttercupland, that is not to be. I believe that on dark days we keep the stars of hope and light in our hearts. Let the light go forth from our hearts in our words and deeds to transform the world.
Wishes for a bright and blessed Christmas

It's Christmas Time in the City -- The Lights Are Bright on Broadway

It's not just Christmas time in the city, it's Christmas Eve. There are less than twenty-four hours to Christmas day. It's a day for cooking, perhaps a few errands left to do and getting ready for celebrating Christmas. I've still got a few cards to write, a few packages to wrap, and a few blog posts to finish. This is the scene as I walk up Broadway doing my errands and enjoying the last day of the season.

The lights of Lincoln Center are my first stop on my way home.
I've already stopped at the Farmer's Market a few blocks away and found these treats.
The aroma from the herb wreaths was lovely. One of the things I will miss most on December 26 is the aroma from herbs and greens that have turned the sidewalks of New York into a forest glade.
Hansel and Gretel time in a local bakery window
This chorus of dogs and penguins made me smile
This is the scene on every third block. I feel that I've fallen into a version of Christmas "Ghost Busters."
Wishes for a bright and beautiful Christmas Eve, with time to enjoy the aromas of the season and many moments of joy and happiness. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Rockefeller Center Pink Saturday

It's time for  Pink Saturday -- on Sunday -- fun with a visit to perhaps the most iconic place in New York City at Christmas, Rockefeller Center. I enjoy stopping by any time of year, but it's magical at this time of year. The tree, the skaters and the decorations are among my favorite parts of the season, and ones I never want to miss.

 I had a very sunny day for my visit this year. It was great not to be cold, but it didn't make for bright lights. 
This year was as crowded as I have ever experienced. so much so that I couldn't get close to the skating rink to take pictures. I promise to return later in the winter to take pictures of the ice skaters. 
Looking east through the skyline to St. Patrick's Cathedral
He's tooting out wishes for a very merry Christmas and a very happy new year!
On a different note, my prayers for safe days for New York City police officers and fire fighters, and their colleagues across the country. 
 I'm somewhat amazed that Christmas is this week. I've wrapped and mailed presents and done some of my cards, but I have a number still to write. I feel more organized than during my working years and happily not as rushed. I've really enjoyed being able to visit so many places in New York City this month and share the photographs. Tomorrow we return to the Union Square Holiday Market.
I hope you're having a great weekend. As always, thanks for visiting and take good care!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Foodie Friday at the Union Square Holiday Market

I had a great visit yesterday to the Union Square -- East 14th Street -- Holiday Market. This was my first visit to a holiday market this year, and I'm sorry I waited so long into the season to do this. There were wonderful gift ideas and delicious foods presented. I especially enjoyed the local artisan food companies and the unique crafts that were sold there. I collected a number of cards and had a great time taking pictures. The day was relatively mild, but on a colder day I could have fortified myself with delicious looking hot beverages that were for sale.

Besides the hot cider this booth had beautiful and delicate wooden decorations. 
I completely fell in love with Fatty Sundays, the best looking -- and tasting -- gourmet pretzels I've encountered in a long time. They were so pretty and delicious. I will definitely be on the lookout for them for gifts and fun hostess presents.   
I sampled the Sprinkle, and I bought a box of the Toffee Crunch to bring as a get-well cheer up gift for a friend who had knee surgery. The toffee crunch definitely brought cheer. 
There were a large number of food booths, all very enticing. I especially enjoyed the spicy pepper cashews at Nuts+Nuts. They are imported from Indonesia and have the added benefit of working with local farmers in Java and Bali. I am a cashew fan and these were not the norm. They were plump, delicious and an immense treat.
I enjoyed chatting about the company and sampling their wonderful choices.
Not to leave out our canine friends I found this booth with doggie food treats -- the cutest -- and clothes, equally cute. 
 This company, YoYo Dog, doesn't have a website, but if anyone is interested in their products I am happy to share their phone number. 
The holiday market, surrounded by skyscrapers.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit. We'll be back on Sunday for gift ideas and decorations that I think you'll enjoy. Tomorrow we're going to one of the most iconic New York Christmas sights, Rockefeller Center for seasonal Pink Saturday. 
As always, thanks for visiting! Take care and hope you're having a fabulous Friday. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Day in My Life on Broadway

No, I haven't been cast for a Broadway show -- that would take a very big miracle -- but I have a few pictures to share from my walk up Broadway after the gym. It was a warm, almost balmy, day here with temperatures in the fifties. I decided this would be the day I treated myself to a cup of ice cream. I would walk up Broadway getting a little extra exercise, leisurely enjoy my ice cream with peppermint candies mixed in, and stroll home.

I passed this sidewalk café. Though it was warm for December, it wasn't café weather.

Ten blocks later I was around the corner from the ice cream store. I turned the corner and there was no ice cream store. I was so sad I didn't even capture the moment on film. Instead of ice cream, there was a big "For Rent" sign.

What is a disappointed ice cream eater to do? Take pictures!

This tree has many New York City ornaments.
I can't resist a florist display and this one was so pretty. It went  a long way to cheering me up.
What cheered you today?
As always, thanks for visiting and wishes for cheer and good tidings! 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nights of Light

The first candle of Chanukah

Tonight is the first night of Chanukah, the eight-day festival that celebrates a miracle of faith over two thousand years ago. One candle is lit daily for each day of the holiday. On this first night one candle was lit and tomorrow two candles will be lit until the last night when all eight candles are lit. The middle candle is the helper, or shamash, candle and lights all the others. 

My prayer class was scheduled for tonight, but instead of our regular study we lit the menorah, sang songs and ate jelly doughnuts, one of the traditional foods of the holiday. Our wonderful rabbi spoke about the meaning of the holiday and it gave me new insights into the festival of light. I don't think I can do justice to his thoughts, but I'd like to share my notes with you.

Though there was just enough oil for one day, there is a place for miracles. We need to find the crucible of oil that's within us to light our spirit. The first step in finding our spiritual purpose is to light the first candle and encourage the light to grow. The miracle is that when we act in faith, help comes from Above, but it is our duty to act, and look for the light within us.  

Besides the bears and snowfolks I have Chanukah items, including my favorite, my camel menorah. I bought this in Israel over twenty years and it brings back sweet memories.

This is the scene at my local bagel store/deli, which is a frequent stop on my retiree calendar. It's not fancy, but they have some of the best bagels in New York. After sampling coffee throughout the neighborhood I found I liked their coffee best of the dozen places within three or four blocks of my apartment. I've become a regular and three or four times a week I'm there to drink coffee and read the newspaperThe latkes, or potato pancakes, are in the pan to the left. I haven't tried either the latkes or doughnuts served here, but I bet they are good.

On this night when we celebrate light and faith I leave you with these lines from a song we learned this evening.

"Kindle my candle and my light, O G'd,
They will then shine forever."

Monday, December 15, 2014

Wishes for a Beary Merry Monkee Monday

Pepe and friends wish you a beary merry Monkee Monday. Paws and Miss Fluffy, both in festive holiday attire, join Pepe, Ricky and Lucy and Socko, to wish all in Buttercupland a happy day.
The music makers on the mantel join the chorus...
...and the snow people sing the encore!
That's the scene at my house today. Besides a trip to the gym and a very quick errand, it's a day for package wrapping and cards, and I'm not complaining a bit. These folks are great company.
Hope you're all having a great day. As always, thanks for visiting and take good care!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What's Your Favorite Foodie Treat?

Yes, it's Foodie Friday and Pink Saturday on Sunday, but I've got an important question for Buttercupland:

What's your favorite food treat at this time of year?

I've given this question a lot of thought. I've been careful with my treats and I'm trying to be really selective and only eat those items that are special, and I do have criteria for special. The food has to be exclusive to this time of year and something I really liked. I spent time thinking about this and after a visit to my local mall and some browsing, narrowed it down to two choices.

My nearest mall, the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle
I scanned the shelves at Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma. I found some enticing treats at Whole Foods, including this Pink Elephant themed beverage. It's not at all my choice, but I couldn't resist the photo for Pink Saturday.
These sea salt truffles were closer to my taste. I do like candy, but they weren't unique to the season.
I found my answers at Williams-Sonoma. I debated between the legendary Peppermint Bark and the variation of Peppermint Bark peanut butter cups...
...and ginger spice cookies.
I debated and debated, and there were samples to help my decision. Would it be chocolate and peppermint or would it be ginger spice?
The winner of the Buttercupland favorite Christmas food is...
 Peppermint Bark!
The ginger spice goodies were delicious, but I stayed with my favorite peppermint bark. I am a chocolate and peppermint fan throughout the year and on those rare times when I get a sundae it's always mint chocolate chip and hot fudge.
It was a lovely day in New York and I spent the afternoon walking and enjoying a relatively balmy day. I continued my decluttering this morning and worked on my coat closet, which now has three less coats. Linen and storage closet are next on my list. 
As always, thanks for visiting and take good care!
Please note: This is not a sponsored post. The only compensation I received were the samples available to all Williams-Sonoma customers. 

He Knows When You've Been Bad or Good...

...And he knows when you've been shopping in Soho. 

I've got three or four posts in my head and the pictures are all cropped and picked, but life in New York City seems to be getting in my way. There's Foodie Friday and Pink Saturday and Christmas at the Metropolitan Museum still to come. But instead of blogging I spent a lot of today getting myself organized. My decorations are now unpacked and on display. I've begun writing cards and I just spent an hour on Amazon figuring out a subscription to Teen Vogue for my cousin for Chanukah. I pushed the wrong send-to and you can imagine the rest. Happily the folks at Amazon Customer Service chat are very helpful, even at 11:00 at night.  

I had a wonderful afternoon in Soho -- south of Houston St. -- doing a little shopping, lots of looking in store windows and having coffee -- with my friend, Betsy. It was just the sweet afternoon with a friend that makes me realize how precious friendships are. We did try to go to Laduree Soho, for macarons, but there was a line on the sidewalk to enter to simply buy macarons and the restaurant was so crowded that we couldn't get coffee without a reservation. We'll try again in January.

I hope your day was as fun and productive and I hope you'll be back tomorrow for more glimpses of Christmas in New York. As always, thanks for visiting.

Friday, December 12, 2014

It's Chritstmas Time in the City -- Gracie Mansion

Tonight I had the very good fortune to be at Gracie Mansion, the residence for the Mayor of New York City, for a reception. This is an annual event for people who worked in the administration of Mayor Edward I. Koch. I had the great privilege to be part of the administration for five years and I look forward to this reception each year to see friends and colleagues that I don't get to see on a regular basis any longer. There was lots of catching up, so much so, that I took very few pictures to share. But I did get pictures of the Gracie Mansion Christmas tree.

The decorations and lights were lovely...
...and I thought you would enjoy seeing the details of some of the ornaments.
I experienced a seasonal miracle today. During the great decluttering of 2014 -- another one is planned for January, 2015 -- I went through my shoes and give away several pairs that hadn't been worn in 2013. I couldn't find one shoe of my most comfortable black dress shoes. I've been making do, but I sorely missed this pair of shoes. I decided to go through the remaining shoes in my closet and find a pair I could wear for tonight's reception. Lo and behold! Tucked under my swim shoes was the missing shoe. This is not a miracle of grand magnitude, but for a woman with foot problems rediscovering a comfortable pair of shoes is nothing short of a miracle.   
I've got some Foodie Friday fun coming up tomorrow. I may be dreaming of the sweet coconut mini-cupcakes served at Gracie Mansion tonight or maybe it will be gingerbread or maybe peppermint bark. 
As always, thanks for visiting and take good care! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Wedding Wednesday Goes to Times Square

I'm taking a brief sojourn from posting only photographs of Christmas in New York for the latest post in the "Wedding Wednesday" series.  I was walking down Broadway near Times Square when I saw this couple in their wedding finery.  I detoured from my errand of buying theater tickets to take a few pictures I could share with Buttercupland.

There was a quick stop to pose for pictures near the TKTS -- discount theater  -- booth...
...and then a walk through the crowds at Times Square.

I couldn't resist taking a few other pictures while I was in the neighborhood. 
A sort-of-selfie with the Empire State Building and a Christmas tree...
...and the m&m folks in elf attire. 
December, not unexpectedly, is flying by. The Christmas tree is going up in the lobby of my building and my cards have made it out to my table ready to be addressed. I'm happy to add folks to my card list. Please leave me a comment with your email address and I will be in touch. I've begun to wrap presents that need to be mailed and plan to be at the post office for the first round of mailing on Friday. 
As always, thanks for visiting and take good care!