Friday, January 31, 2014

Happy It's Random 5 Friday

Happy that it's Random 5 Friday, one of my favorite times of the week. I've started to make notes during the week to capture my randomness and it's a lot of fun. With no further ado...

1) One of my favorite pastimes during the week is going out for a cup of coffee. I don't generally go anywhere very fancy, but I really enjoy having a cup of coffee in the middle of the day and knowing there's nowhere I have to be. This was at my local coffee shop and I liked the circles and lines in the picture.

2) I must be really behind the times, but I just learned this week that there's a new hundred dollar bill. I don't usually see currency that's larger than a twenty, but I'm not sure how I missed this in the news. Am I the last person in America to know this?

3) I'm still working on the Sue Grafton book, and it's going more slowly than I anticipated. I did take a break and read "Shovel Ready," a dark, dark dystopian book about New York City. I liked it, but with the caveat that bad dreams might follow. It's not my usual, but I read the review and it sounded interesting. It may be awhile before I go into the dystopian universe again.

4) Aunt Buttercup is still at the Puppy Bowl. She has lots of opinions, but right now she's enjoying the puppies.

5) Question of the week...Downton Abbey or the Big Game? I don't generally record television, but this may be the week to record "Downton Abbey" for later viewing.

We just covered the gamut from coffee to currency to dystopia to puppies. I think I lived up to the concept of being very random, and I hope you enjoyed our random journey.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take very good care!  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

I Had a Seat on the Forty Yard Line for the Puppy Bowl...

...And it was as much fun as you might expect!

This year is the tenth Puppy Bowl, which takes place on Animal Planet at 3:00 P.M. this coming Sunday. There's enough time to watch Puppy Bowl and the Big Game. There will be adorable puppies aplenty, but there will also be lots of information about finding forever homes for these cuties and other waiting dogs.

Buttercup meets Mo and I am in love!

One of the best parts of my visit was the opportunity to meet the wonderful Mo, the Mascot of Mohawk Flooring, which has made a commitment to the PetFinder Foundation. Mo was friendly and beautiful and I had a great visit with him. 

 Mo looking especially handsome with the I Love New York rug. Don't they coordinate perfectly?

I needed to run a quick errand near Super Bowl Boulevard and zipped in to Duane Reade. I had the good fortune to meet Chester Cheetah -- didn't know the Cheeto's Cheetah name before today -- and now we're friends, too. Big Game excitement everywhere!

I love the Big Game, but it's not the only bowl in town. I know my puppy-adoring friends would have had so much fun at Puppy Bowl and I wish you all could have been there with me.   

It's been a full and very fun few days. The temperature is supposed to climb to forty tomorrow -- hurray! --and I'm planning to catch up on errands I've delayed while I was out enjoying Big Game and Puppy Bowl excitement. I was also out last night for a trivia night with friends and tonight we had a great book club meeting. I may stay in the next few nights just to rest up. 

As always I'm so glad you stopped by and especially glad you were able to share my visit to Puppy Bowl and meet Mo. Take good care and have a fabulous Friday.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's Not Every Day the Big Game Comes to New York City...

...Actually it's the first time ever that the Big Game -- football's enormous game -- has come to New York/New Jersey and we are so excited.

#DRBigGame, #shop, #cbias

Thanks to my good friends at Duane Reade and #Collective Bias I had the opportunity to have two extraordinary Big Game experiences. I thought that January was going to be a quiet month, but it was anything but.

There weren't many things that could have gotten me out of my warm house last Wednesday, but the invitation to be part of the Big Game festivities just a few subway stops away at Times Square got me bundled up and out the door. I had the opportunity to meet Rueben Randle of my beloved NY Giants. No, the Giants aren't in the Big Game this year, but I have every faith that next year beckons.

#DRBigGame, #collectivebias, #shop
Rueben Randle, wide receiver for the NY Giants, ready to sign autographs. I've got my signed photo right next to my computer.

#DRBigGame, #collectivebias, #shop"
I was as happy as I look and Rueben Randle could not have been nicer. 

While I was at the beautiful store I spent some time picking snacks for the Big Game day. It was not an easy choice, there were so many goodies to choose from. 

#DRBigGame, #collectivebias, #shop
My eye went to the candy, but the view of Times Square in the background was fabulous, too!

#DRBigGame, #shop, #collectivebias
Mars is one of the sponsors of the Big Game and Snickers is one of my all-time favorite candy bars. My big problem was choosing which one to have on hand for snacking on Sunday -- classic, almond or dark chocolate. Yes, you know the answer to that problem. I chose all three kinds of delicious Snickers. Can't have too many snacks -- or too many Snickers! --for the Big Game.

We've really got Big Game excitement in New York City and I am so happy to be part of the football fun. Can't thank my Duane Reade friends enough for this opportunity. One way to share in the fun is to go to the #DRBigGame website for great pictures of all of the excitement. I'll be posting more of my pictures there in the next few days. It's a terrific way to be part of the experience. There's even more excitement to come, but that's a post for another day.

As always, thanks for visiting. Take good care and keep warm!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

I'm Dreaming, Dreaming, Dreaming of #SoFabCon14

I have loved this blogging journey. I love the people I've met, the experiences I've had and the many things I've learned. One of the things I've learned is that this is a journey. There are more people to meet, more great experiences ahead and so much more to learn. I've also learned that this journey -- like every journey -- is more meaningful when shared. One group I've been delighted to share the journey with is the wonderful group of bloggers at #collectivebias. Through my work with this group I've met great people, had terrific experiences -- wait until you see tomorrow's post -- and learned so much. They are sponsoring a conference, #SoFabCon14, in Arkansas this May and I have so wanted to attend. But after I calculated the airfare and hotel, it just didn't seem possible. I visited the airfare sites at least a dozen times, but there were no magical numbers, just a big, big number for a flight to Arkansas. I realized that as eager as I was to attend it wasn't going to happen. But then my fairy godmother on Facebook led me to the #SoFabCon14 page and I discovered the #LuvSoFab14 contest. 

My dreams for #SoFabCon include...

...Gaining some of the blogging wisdom of the ages. 

Though I may never have the talent of Rubens... 

or Sir Joshua Reynolds... 

or create anything as fine as this beautiful Venetian glass...

I may never be the Vermeer of bloggers, but I look forward to meeting people, having wonderful experiences and  becoming a better Buttercup and a better blogger with my experiences at the conference. There is power in shared experiences. I don't know where the road will take me after #SoFabCon14, but I know it will be a sweeter journey.

I've been to Little Rock, but never to NW Arkansas, the site of the conference and for the last two years I've had this destination in mind. I've written about my love of museums and I have been wild to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville since it opened in 2011. It's a beautiful building, designed by one of my favorite architects, Moshe Safdie, with a stellar collection of American art. When I read that the opening reception for the conference would take place here, it was the icing on the cake of reasons to attend #SoFabCon#14.

I believe in dreams come true, and with this dream firmly tucked in my heart, I'm holding the dates on my calendar. Please, dear friends, make this blogger's dream come true. Let this be the next stop on my blogging journey. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

A House is Not a Home Without a Floor

Just twelve hours ago this was my dining area with my beautiful parquet floor. Now it's a semi-floorless area, covered by this board. Otherwise I would fall into a hole that contains the pipes that connect the water lines in the my bathroom to my kitchen. When this building was first built in 1911 there were two thirteen room apartments on each floor. This was the era when well-off families gave up their single family brownstones and moved into large apartments with enough space for big families and servants. My family, recently arrived in America in 1911, did not live in a building like this. Over the years the big apartments were cut up into smaller ones and kitchens were created where no original pipes had been installed.

This was news to me. My super mentioned on Friday that the neighbors in the apartment below me had a major leak and the plumbers might have to cut into my floor to repair it. I spent the weekend praying this could be resolved with no floor damage, but alas, the pipe under my dining room table, was completely corroded. I thought I had my share of plumbing issues after the Christmas plumbing disaster, but that must have been for 2013. I learned to appreciate functioning plumbing in 2013 and in 2014 I am learning to appreciate a fully functional floor. If I'm not careful I could step in the wrong place and the temporary floor might not hold.

   Why I learned to appreciate floors

Happily, the floor contractor will be here either tomorrow (I hope!) or Wednesday and will begin the process of  rebuilding the wood platform and then putting the parquet back together.  

I am grateful for my wonderful super, the plumbers, who worked quickly and professionally and for taking pictures during the work. Otherwise I'm sure I wouldn't remember where the floor had been taken apart. I've spent sixty-three years taking floors for granted, but you can be assured I will never do that again.

I cancelled my card making class for tomorrow in order to be available at home for the floor contractor. I did a lot of decluttering today, and caught up on magazines and blog visiting. Still lots to do -- always lots to do -- but I feel pretty productive. I've got a Sue Grafton mystery, "W is for Wasted," to keep me company tonight. It's a long book, so I think it will keep me company tomorrow, too.  

As always, thanks for visiting. Keep cozy and take good care. 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Headmistress of Rosemere

I don't think of myself as being especially romantic, but every once in awhile I really enjoy reading a romance novel. If I read too many in a row I lose interest, but when I read just the right one I am very happy. After I finished my graduate work for a few months I only read romance novels, and generally I most enjoyed those set in Regency England. These books returned me to novels after a year of theology and church history exclusively. I enjoy reading Debbie Macomber and now I've found a new author to enjoy, Sarah Ladd.

When I was in grade school I wanted desperately to be able to go to boarding school. I thought going away to school would be the most exciting thing in the world. Perhaps it was because I didn't have a brother or a sister or perhaps I had over idealized Jacqueline Kennedy's years at Miss Porter's. My parents thought it was a ridiculous request for many reasons. We knew no one who went to boarding school, we couldn't afford it and I think it would have broken their hearts to send me away so young. But that didn't stop me from thinking about life at boarding school.

I fantasized about my life at boarding school, but I never thought about the life of the teachers or the headmistress. I'm sure my fantasy boarding school would have had a headmistress like Patience Creighton. She is young, kind, intelligent, attractive and committed to her students, and she is the headmistress of Rosemere. This most engaging book takes place in one of my favorite periods in literature and I enjoyed the visit back very much. Besides Patience, there are a number of engaging characters that I enjoyed getting to know. The plot moved quickly and had a number of twists that surprised me and kept me reading. I hope there's a sequel. I'm eager to see what happens next for Patience and some of my other favorite characters.

One especially nice thing about these cold days is how pleasant it is to spend a winter's afternoon with a cup of cocoa and a good book.  We had snow again this afternoon -- just flurries -- but it deterred me from getting much farther than a few blocks from home. But I had a pile of books and the Sunday New York Times to keep me company, and it was a sweet afternoon.

As ever, I'm so glad you stopped by to visit. Keep warm and cozy and take good care!

Please note: I was given a copy of "The Headmistress of Rosemere" for review via the Litfuse Publicity Group, but the opinions are all mine. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Snowy Sunlit Sunday

Central Park, with the Metropolitan Museum in the background.

My sunlit thought this week doesn't derive from the sun, which has been largely absent. Rather it's from my much more sunny attitude about the snow. I'm not a fan of snow. I worry much too much about falling and breaking one or another bone. I broke my elbow in four places eighteen years ago in a sleety curb cut, so it's not an anxiety without some basis. I look out on the snow and see only ice, falling and difficulty walking to the subway or grocery. I see a foot of snow being an Alp I have to climb to get on the bus. I see disaster with every snowy moment.

But not this afternoon. This afternoon I saw the beauty of fresh snow in Central Park. I'm not quite sure how Google does this, but they've enhanced my picture to show falling snow and I'm in love with it. There was an inch of soft snow. It wasn't difficult to walk and it seemed almost magically that the sidewalks were cleared. I'm so happy and grateful to find at least one upbeat, sunny moment in snow.

I'm delighted to join my friends at Sunlit Sunday. I think it's my best discovery of 2014. I had a wonderful afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum and enjoyed seeing a beautiful exhibition of Italian glass. Now I'm settling in for my evening hot cocoa and a good book. Book review to follow tomorrow.

As always thanks for visiting and take good care. Wishes for a very cozy evening.  . 

Friday, January 24, 2014

I Hope I'm Not Stale Random 5 Friday

Welcome to Random 5 Friday where we examine some of the great issues of the day and have a lot of fun, not necessarily in that order.

1) No, I'm not a baked product, but there are times I worry I'm getting a little stale, both here and on Twitter. I think I need to be more edgy and relevant. I'm not quite sure what edgy means exactly, but in an effort to exploit my inner edginess I promise not to mention the "Polar Vor..." again on this blog, at least this year.

2) And on that note, I'm @buttercup10024 on Twitter and you can tell me yourself if I'm a little stale. I won't be hurt, and I love new friends.

3) On the relevance trail, I'm introducing a new Random 5 concept, "What I'm thinking..." I will select an issue of the day (or week) and provide advice to a famous person. Just call me Aunt Buttercup. Today I'm thinking about Justin Bieber. This is probably the first time I've given Justin Bieber any thought, but I've seen at least 100 references to him on television, in newspapers and all over the internet. And what am I thinking about Justin? Justin, you've got every opportunity in the world, please don't toss them away so casually. Somehow I don't think Justin is going to listen to Aunt Buttercup, but I think it's really good advice. I've got some thoughts about Kim Kardashian, too, but I'm saving them for next week.

4) I baked again this week. I've realized that there are few things nicer than a cozy kitchen on a cold day and the aroma of baking. One thing I hadn't realized is coming in from the cold to a home-baked treat is even sweeter.

5) I haven't forgotten my photos. But this week I'm going with very down-to-earth pictures. This is what New York City looks like during the "Polar Vor..." --Oops! -- and after a foot of snow.

Inside this tent there are dozens of roses, kept safe from freezing.

This is my bus stop across from the library. Dirty slush and a little mountain between the bus stop and the bus. This is the worst of the remainder of the storm. The major streets are clear and the crosswalks are shoveled. 

As always, I'm so glad you came to visit. Take care and have a sweet evening! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Calling

These last few cold and snowy days have been perfect reading days. With my cup of hot cocoa I've curled up with "The Calling" by Suzanne Woods Fisher," and my cold and snowy days became cozy days.

I appreciate history and biography, but my first love of reading is always a novel. "The Calling" captured me in the first pages and I had a delightful journey to the end of the book. The story centers around Bethany Schrock, a twenty-year old Amish woman, looking for purpose and love. It's difficult not to like Bethany, as well as the characters that surround her, especially five elderly sisters. I enjoy novels with Amish settings and I especially liked this one. I am so glad to find a new favorite author in Suzanne Woods Fischer. "The Calling" is part of the "Inn at Eagle Hill" series and I'm pleased to have other books in the series to read. Though I enjoyed "The Calling" with my hot cocoa, I know I'll enjoy the rest of the series with a cold lemonade, too.

I did get myself out and about today and despite the bitter weather it felt great to be outdoors. We had brilliant bright sun and it was a welcome change from yesterday's snow. The only thing I've got scheduled for tomorrow is physical therapy. It's only a four block walk and just far enough to be a little excursion. Afterwards I will treat myself to a cup of coffee at my favorite coffee place. It's not fancy, but they have the best coffee around.

As always, so appreciate your visits. Take good care and keep cozy!

Please note, I was given a copy of "The Calling" for review via the Litfuse Publicity Group, but the opinions are all mine.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Critical Snowy Day Question...Hot Cocoa or Hot Chocolate?

It is snowing and it is now seventeen degrees. I had two plans for today and one was cancelled and I cancelled one. My only commitment was to hot cocoa. But then I pondered... I referred to the hot drink made with milk and chocolate as hot cocoa, but what was the more popular term, hot cocoa or hot chocolate? Yes, there are more demanding questions in the world, but this is where my mind wandered on a winter afternoon.

The Swiss Miss folks call it hot cocoa, but do you? This is one of my favorite mugs, with happy memories of sunny days on an Italian vacation. Snowy New York day in the background. 

This is the scene from my front steps later in the afternoon. Usually there's a lot more traffic.

But a little -- or a lot -- of snow won't keep me from announcing the winners of  the Fifth Blogaversary giveaway. The winner of "Living Well One Line a Day" is Mary and the winner of the "surprise" book, "I Love Being a Mom," is Ida. I'll follow up to get your addresses. Thanks, all, for being part of the blogaversary fun. I'm excited about my sixth year of blogging. It gets better every year.  

I have another giveaway on the top right corner of the blog. It's a great one -- two kindles, two iPads and two nooks -- and the book that's sponsoring it is a very enjoyable read. It's a really sweet Amish story and I'll be writing about it later this week. 

Thanks so much for stopping to visit. If you're in snow land, too, keep warm and cozy. If you're somewhere warm, please have an iced tea and think of me. Take good care!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Get Your Hearts and Flowers Ready...

...and all your card making supplies. 

For the fourth year we have been asked by Melinda at "Country Dreaming" to be part of the Valentine Card Shower Party. To make things brighter for kids who are in the Children's Hospital in Kansas City over Valentine's Day -- it makes me sad just to type this -- one of the local radio stations sponsors a card party. It doesn't matter where you live or how crafty you are, you can be part of the fun. I'm not so crafty -- maybe the card class I'm taking next week will help -- but I had fun last year with stickers and fun, too, knowing I could make the day sweeter for little ones who couldn't be at their class party or enjoying Valentine's Day at home. 

The details are on Melinda's blog. Just click the link above. You'll get all the information about the card party and you'll get to meet Melinda, too, and she is a sweetheart. The cards need to be at Melinda's on February 8 so she can get them to the group in time for Valentine distribution. There were six bloggers who participated last year and wouldn't it be great if we could double the number for 2014. I've got my heart stickers ready and I just need to buy the cute pink scissors I saw at Michael's last week. 

We're gearing up for snow here. Tomorrow's going to be a baking day and I'm perusing banana oatmeal bread recipes. I think there may be a pot of soup that needs to get made tomorrow, too. I've got books to read, papers to shred and blogs to visit, and I am so glad I don't have to go out until Wednesday morning. 

As always, thanks for visiting. Keep warm and cozy and take good care of yourself. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Metropolitan Museum of Art Sunlit Sunday

Even when it's a sunny day in the winter it can still be too cold to stay outside very long. It seems no matter how warmly I dress my feet or hands get cold and I'm longing to be inside. One of my favorite winter refuges  -- or summer oases -- is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There's always a new corner to explore, a special exhibition to see or an old favorite to revisit. And thanks to sky lights, there is lots of sunshine to enjoy.

The gold fish and the boys are actually inside the museum. There is a beautiful tea house in the Asian art wing and the boys and I were both enchanted by the fish and the lovely pond. 

I generally do stick to seeing my favorites in the American and European wings, but today I branched out and found a bright space in the Hall of Arms and Armor. 

I spent today's visit with my friend Lonni, who made the very good suggestion to have tea in the Petrie Sculpture Court. I can't of a better suggestion and I love the glass walls and the view of Central Park. 

I didn't do justice to the view of the park in the background and probably not to the tea tray either. The view is beautiful and the tea snacks were wonderful. I think there needs to be a return trip for another Sunday tea. It's a treat I don't do often and enjoy so much. 

Great art, friendship, Central Park, tea treats and no snow. I literally could not ask for a better Sunday, lit with sunshine in so many ways. I hope your day with sunlit, too. Please stop by and visit my Sunlit Sunday buddies. 

As always, thanks for visiting. It's Sunday night and I'm off to watch "Downton Abbey," and just a minute to make a cup of tea. Take good care!

Pink Saturday a la Declutter

Though the day has just slipped into Sunday, it's still Pink Saturday in my heart. I had a fun evening out with friends tonight -- dinner and off-off Broadway theater -- but I don't want to miss my date with my Pink Saturday buddies.

January seems a natural time for refocusing, though I've found it's just as easy to read magazines and watch television on a cold winter afternoon as it is to declutter. But I've given myself a goal for January and February and that's to declutter my living room. There are a couple of large piles of magazines to go through and lots (and lots) to file. My goal for March and April is to work on my bedroom and that will entail going through a large closet that's become a repository of  for many homeless items. There is no due date for the kitchen, but the other two rooms are more critical. The bathroom has been semi-decluttered and I do know what's in my storage area under the sink and in the medicine chest. Those forty square feet are under control, at least for the time being.

During my visit to Home Goods two weeks ago I came away with several ideas that I think would help keep things in better order and have the added advantage of being pink, my favorite color.

I definitely need one of these canvas laundry bags. My only problem is which one to pick. I'm leaning to the pink and white chevron bag on the bottom right. What's your favorite?

I also liked this assortment of laundry bags and the not quite pink organizer box on the bottom shelf. 

I didn't think I needed a new step stool, but the pink and grey one would be perfect for my bedroom and make it a lot easier to put things away without dragging the big step chair from the kitchen, and it's so cute. 

 This picture has nothing to do with decluttering but I couldn't resist the pretty in pink candy assortment.

Thanks for visiting and wishes for a pretty in pink Sunday!


Friday, January 17, 2014

Extremely Random 5 Friday

Welcome to my little corner of Random 5 Friday. It's where I take all of the thoughts swirling in my head and try to come up with five cogent paragraphs. I don't know if I always make it, but I do have a good time, and I have a great time visiting with my Random 5 buddies. Now on to the big thoughts.

1) The week started with a difficult decision. Would I watch the Golden Globes or "Downton Abbey?" I was out to dinner with friends and missed the first hour of the Globes. I arrived home just in time for "Downton," and then switched over to the Globes. Definitely the most organized television evening I've had in years. Which did you choose?

2) I finally completed reading my first novel this year, "The World Without You," by Joshua Henkin. I enjoyed it a lot and found the story of a family mourning the loss of a son, husband and brother -- not unlike the journalist Daniel Pearl -- engaging and compelling. It's the first ebook I borrowed from the library and was so excited to see that the process worked. I've just borrowed "Matrimony" by the same author and I'm hoping I like it as well. "Bridget Jones" has gone home only slightly read to the library. Sorry, Bridget.

3) I'm starting to get excited about the Super Bowl coming to New York/New Jersey. I am sorry, sad, upset that my beloved Giants won't be playing, but I'm trying to move beyond that.

The subway system has Super Bowl excitement

4) There's a great giveaway in honor of the book, "The Headmistress of Rosemere." The link is in the upper right and it's definitely worth a click. I'll be writing about the book later this month.

5) I've been dreaming of attending  #sofabcon14 in Arkansas in May. I've never been to this conference, but it looks fabulous. But as much as I've been dreaming of the conference, the airfare has been a nightmare. I was thrilled to discover a giveaway for six all-expense paid trips to the conference. They will be looking for the most creative entries and I'm clearing my calendar to put together the most fun, creative and convincing blog post/video/painting I can. Arkansas, here I come! I've been dreaming of you.         

Thanks so much for visiting. I hope you have a great long weekend and take good care!

Living (Way) Outside My Usual Zone

I almost titled this post "Living Outside My Comfort Zone." But I realized it's not so much that I'm uncomfortable doing things that aren't my normal activities, but that I'm so comfortable doing my usual. It's not unlike my wardrobe. I love jeans, a turtleneck and sneakers, but there are times it's fun to dress up.

Tonight I went way into my less-comfortable zone, and like those dress up times, it was fun. I took advantage of a Kickstarter campaign invitation to attend the opening of Melissa Joy Manning's new jewelry store in Soho.

About to enter hip downtown cocktail party. Many of the oldest buildings in Soho --South of Houston Street -- are nineteenth century cast iron industrial buildings. They are now stores, art galleries and restaurants. 

I'm not sure when I've last been at a cocktail party that wasn't also a retirement party. When I was younger I would have been uncomfortable. I would have worried about what to wear, but now I had a black sweater and black pants and I was fine. I would have been nervous that I knew no one else in the room, but again I was fine. I had fun looking for well known people I recognized -- always on the lookout for pictures for the blog -- and fun taking pictures. 

I enjoyed looking at the jewelry...

The interesting display space...

...And the hip downtown crowd.

I'm not abandoning the life I know and like for a wild life, and this blog won't turn into the cocktail chronicles. But I am going to look for a few more hip evening events. It had just too much fun in my less-comfortable zone.  I hope you had fun, too. 

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Next Stop...Heathrow Airport, London

Actually Heathrow is not the next stop on my travel list, but it is a stop. After days -- part of my blogging absence -- of pouring over airfare and hotel websites I've booked flights to London via Dublin. England has been high on my travel list and was my first thought in 2013. I knew I wouldn't get there last year and I won't get to see all of the places in the British Isles that I want to see, but I will be spending three days in London and three days in Dublin. I wouldn't have thought of including Dublin in this trip, but the cost of flights via Ireland -- yes, it's a stop off and adds hours to getting to England -- was significantly less expensive than a non-stop flight.

London and Dublin will be book ends for the rest of my trip -- a cruise with my friend Sue north to see the coastline of Norway. Norway was at the top of Sue's vacation list and after lots of fun email we've worked out our itinerary. We booked the cruise at the end of last summer, but I booked my flights yesterday and that made the trip seem "real." I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to travel with a close friend to see long dreamed of sights. I'm eager to hear about your favorite places in London or Dublin. Sue and I have both been to London, but Dublin is new to me, and somewhere I've long wanted to visit.

Besides all of my internet activity I've had a quiet few days and it's been tough to motivate myself to do chores and take care of errands. But I made a list of things to begin to attempt today that includes nineteen items. A few are very quick -- add a graphic to this blog and pay a bill -- and several will take a lot of research and won't get done for awhile. Happily it's sunny out after yesterday's cold rain and I will be leaving soon for my first errand. Happily, too I'm going to  return clothes I ordered online to Coldwater Creek because they are too big. But that's a post for another day.

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

Sunday, January 12, 2014

West Village Sunlit Sunday

I actually took these pictures on a sunlit Thursday last and I so enjoyed the excursion to the West Village -- Greenwich Village on the west side of Manhattan -- one of my favorite parts of the city. I only took a few pictures -- still too cold to snap many pictures without gloves -- but they bring sunshine to me and I hope to you, too.

 This is the view on Bleecker street looking east. 

Yes, it's a Buttercup selfie. There are a lot of individual (as opposed to chain stores) in the neighborhood, which makes for lively window-shopping. This cafe could have been on any Parisian street. I didn't stop here on Thursday, but I am planning to make a visit at another time. 

Only a long planned appointment for a facial got me outside and downtown on this cold day. Was it worth it? Absolutely yes! I have decided that this is my all-time favorite indulgence and I'm going to be on the lookout for discount coupons for this treat. Do you have a favorite indulgence?

Please stop by and visit my friends at Sunlit Sunday. This is my second week joining this fun group and I've met great bloggers. 

I'm zipping off's Sunday night it must be time for "Downton Abbey." Thanks so much for visiting and have a great week!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I Came to Crochet...Pink Saturday

On my trip to Michael's on Monday I discovered that a craft open house was scheduled for today. If I booked classes today I would get a discount on the class and a discount on supplies. Finally I was going to learn to crochet.

  I spent my bus ride dreaming of the yarn I would pick for my first crocheting project. I kept debating whether I would crochet a scarf or if there was an alternative for a complete beginner. 

When I arrived at Michael's there was a table near the entrance for all of the craft instructors. There was jewelry displayed, cake decorating supplies and cards, but there was no yarn. I asked one of the women sitting at the table where the crochet teacher was and was told that there were two of them and neither had arrived, even though the event had begun an hour before. I didn't want to register without asking a few questions and while I waited for the instructor I made a quick change in plans. I was going to take a different class. The nice woman I had chatted with was teaching card making and I certainly could use a refresher course in that topic. I signed up for "Card Tricks in a Flash," and I have high hopes for this years Valentines. The jewelry looked good, too, but that will have to wait for another time. 

Instead of yarn I have this to look forward to...

...and I think I'll add a pretty in pink scissor, too. 

I really need the pink striped model. Really!

I came to crochet and I departed a card maker. I'm excited about my card making class and I'm already dreaming of the cute cards to come. 

I arrived in time to be early for my Bible study group this afternoon and enjoyed the conversation and the study. We are slowly making our way through Ecclesiastes and feel so grateful to be part of the group.  I walked most of the way home in sixty degree weather, which felt like spring. Very unseasonable, but so nice after our arctic conditions earlier in the week. 

So enjoyed being part of Pink Saturday. Please stop by and meet some great bloggers. As always, thanks for visiting and take good care! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Snowy, Rainy Random 5 Friday

First there was snow this morning and then rain. Happily it's not slippery out and even more happily it's time for Random 5 Friday, some of the most fun I can have that doesn't involve calories. This post is all over the place. Fasten your seat belts, friends, it's a wild ride.

1) The last thing that I learned in 2013 was not to place any trust in decaf coffee. I was awake until 3:00 a.m. on January 1st, 2014 and I wasn't partying. My cup of decaf coffee at dinner kept me wide awake. My rule for 2014 is no coffee after 5:00 p.m. if I intend to sleep that night, or any night.

2) I'm still working on reading my first book of 2014. I'm finding "Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy" very slow going, and I'm stuck somewhere in the third or fourth chapter. I found the younger Bridget delightful and fascinating, but the older Bridget, not so much. It could be the older Carol and my perspective on life and not Bridget at all. I'm going to give it a few more chapters and I hope Bridget and I will bond.

3)  I saw "The Wolf of Wall Street" this morning. I liked the movie a lot, though I would have liked it better if it was half an hour shorter and contained a lot less profanity. I've taken to going to morning movies and it's the perfect time for me. I'm awake, it's not crowded and it's half price. I'm thinking of attempting to see all of the films that are nominated for Best Picture this year. I've gotten out of the habit of movie-going, but I've seen four movies I've enjoyed this season and I'm drifting back to being a movie fan again.

4) Along with Valentine materials and note cards I bought myself a calendar to be used for blogging and writing projects. There are no pictures, just big spaces for each day. I'm not sure why I didn't think of this before.

5) Had a lot of fun Wednesday joining the audience for the Katie Couric Show.  The guests were terrific -- Jane Pauley, who looked incredibly fabulous, Wanda Sykes and chef Michael Symon. I got to chatting with a very nice couple from New Jersey and I felt I was with friends for the show.

There was still snow on the ground and it was cold, but the wait outside wasn't long. 

I'm sitting near the back for the show. I'm the woman in a pink sweater with hat hair. 

 This is the view looking west on West 67th Street, where the show is taped at the ABC Studio. 

Many, many thanks for the good wishes for my blogaversary and for the article. I will be visiting blogs to thank all of you who stopped by in the next few days. 

As always, thanks for visiting and take good care. Sweet dreams, dear friends!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fifth Blogaversary and Blogaversary Giveaway

I'm as happy as these celebrating folks. My actual fifth blogaversary is Saturday, but I just couldn't wait to begin to celebrate. Fifth blogaversary...I didn't think I would blog for five weeks, let alone for five years. I had no idea where the journey would take me. I couldn't have begun to imagine on a cold January day in 2009 that I would still be blogging and loving the writing, the friends and the experiences I've had because of blogging.

It wouldn't be a blogaversary celebration without party favors and there are two giveaways to celebrate. One is a surprise book -- I'll pick a title --  and one is Living Well One Line a Day, which is a five year journal. Please leave a comment, perhaps how you began your blog, and be a friend on Google Connect, Bloglovin or Google+. Please enter by Monday, January 20 and I'll announce the winners on Tuesday, January 22.  

And for the blogaversary icing on the cake -- a little blogaversary humor -- I had my first piece published yesterday on manilla, a terrific website, and I'm one happy writer. Here's the link to 5-tips-for-planning-life-beyond-the-office. Thanks all for the encouragement along the way. So appreciated!

The Polar Vortex has left us and now it's just winter. I'm back to wool gloves instead of my ski gloves and I'm happy to leave my down coat, which could do double duty as a sleeping bag, at home. It's a balmy 29 degrees and I'm off to enjoy a sunny day in New York City.

Hugs, love and good wishes and thanks for five amazing and incredible years. Here's to many more!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Ghost of Winter...Past, Present and Future

One of the advantages/disadvantages of retirement is listening to the news and the weather. I used to feel that I never got to leisurely enjoy watching the news and weather -- especially in the mornings -- but now I feel I'm watching all the time, sucked into a vortex -- word of the day -- of weather over-information. Out of a fear that I might never leave my apartment again I tried to run every errand I could yesterday morning. I got to stores I hadn't visited in months -- the boot kept me out of a lot of random jaunts -- and I found myself at Home Goods, Michael's and Whole Foods.

I had a great time and especially enjoyed my visit to a very uncrowded Michael's.

This is the ghost of winter past...Lots of temptation, but I had inventoried cards and ribbons and Christmas decor and needed very little. I did buy three little snowflake decorations that I can actually envision using. 

This is the ghost of winter present and the Valentines I need to be working on now. Yes, it's January 7, and yes, there is in theory lots of time, but the two cute packages of stickers may well take up permanent residence on my craft shelf if I don't get going now. I hear their little voices crying out to me. 

   And this is the ghost of winter future, or spring! I believe that spring starts just about at St. Patrick's Day, and if the St. Patrick's Day decorations are out, can spring be far behind? It gives me hope that we won't be living in an eternal Polar Vortex.

Life today in the Polar Vortex...
My cards and decorations are now on the third shelf of my linen closet and, I'm happy to announce that the linen closet got some long overdue rearrangement. I had nowhere I needed to be today and more than enough food to keep me well-fed. I even did a little beautification -- some might call it upkeep -- and deep conditioned my hair. I was beginning to have a serious case of hat hair that has been somewhat relieved. 

I hope those of you deep in Polar Land are keeping warm and cozy. As always, thanks for visiting and take good care.