Saturday, February 28, 2015

Jumping for Joy Random Five Friday

This week the winter and the cold got to me. I thought I could make it to spring without excessive grumbling, but alas, I was cranky. I decided I would stay inside until the temperature was above forty degrees and order Chinese food for sustenance. But in the midst of my delusionary state I opened my Facebook page and...

1) I saw the return of one of one of my favorite bloggers, Nancy and her wonderful blog, A Rural Journal. Nancy has been on hiatus from blogging, but I was delighted to see she was returning to blogging and to one of my favorite parts of the week, Random Five Friday. Nancy writes from rural Nebraska and I write from Manhattan, but I've found a kindred spirit in Nancy. Welcome back, Nancy!

2) Another happy note on Facebook was the post that my cousin, J, had been admitted to the University of Connecticut. He's got several choices and I look forward to seeing where he chooses to attend college. It seems that J and his sisters -- triplets! -- were just toddlers and now they are about to start college.

3) Thank you, New York Public Library, for a cozy corner on even the coldest days. I'm content to sit in the reading room with a pile of magazines. I don't need a subscription to "People," but it's fun to catch up from time to time when I'm at the library.

4) During my magazine reading I came across an article on the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. It has never crossed my mind to jump into the ocean in the middle of winter -- the water there is barely warm enough for me in August -- but it almost seemed like something I might try. Almost!

5) Leonard Nimoy's passing. Live long and prosper, Mr. Spock.

A final cheer for the return of Random Five Friday! It's still down coat weather, but it was sunny today and above twenty degrees. I noted in the weather forecast the number forty for later this week and I am excited. Here's to spring!

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

If You Can't Get to Rembrandt...

If You're Lucky Rembrandt Will Come to You

Neither a trip to London or Amsterdam is in my plans right now, so it's a great treat to be able to see this wonderful film about the life and work of Rembrandt by taking a quick subway trip to 42nd Street. I wasn't sure if a film about art work would be both interesting and take the place of seeing the paintings in person, but I am happy to report that it was wonderful.  
I took the subway to West 42nd Street...
Entered the Empire 25 screen multiplex...
and then was transported to Seventeenth Century Amsterdam and the world of Rembrandt.
I've always enjoyed Rembrandt's painting, but after seeing the film I realized how much more there is to know about his work, and how much that knowledge can add to my appreciation and enjoyment of his painting. There were discussions of specific paintings, Rembrandt's technique and how the show of his work was put together and it was fascinating. It was as though the best lecture I went to in college was put up on a big, big screen and I could just sit back and listen and learn. There are several more art programs to come -- Van Gogh in April and The Impressionists in July -- and if I will definitely try to see them.
We had a heat wave today and I enjoyed being outside and loved being in the sun. We've got a few cold days coming again, but every day brings us closer to spring. And I cannot wait for spring!
As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and be safe and cozy.
Please note: I received a ticket for "Rembrandt" from Fathom Events in order to write about it, but the opinions are all mine.   

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Three Tips for Surviving -- Flourishing -- in Single Digits

The temperature in New York City this morning was seven -- yes, seven -- degrees. Generally New York City apartments are overheated, but not in my corner of New York City this morning. My apartment is now comfortable, but that wasn't the situation first thing this morning. I was beginning to feel that this long, long winter had gotten the best of me, and I was about to descend into single digit doldrums when I remembered a few tried and true ways to cheer up. I knew a cruise somewhere warm would be one answer, but for less than ten dollars I could cheer up right away.

Here are my quick and inexpensive tips.

1) Fun and cozy socks.

I'm not sure when and where I bought these fleecy slipper socks, but I'm glad I did. They are not only warm, but fun, and the pink and orange brightened my day right away.

2) Something green and growing, preferably with a pretty scent.

I bought this hyacinth at Trader Joe's last week for $2.99. It was an impulse at the end of my shopping trip. I have gotten infinite pleasure every time I walk into my kitchen and the aroma alone is a treat. There are still buds to come and I am enjoying it immensely. The Delft tile in the background was bought during a trip to the Netherlands in 1966 and was in my mother's kitchen for many years. This plant may be the best purchase of the winter.

3) Hot Beverages

I started the day with a pot of coffee and enjoyed it with vanilla creamer. I moved on to spearmint herbal tea and both made for a cozy day. I usually drink out of a mug, but for my tea I switched to this pretty cup.

I'm not posting a picture of myself in my single digit attire, but it includes my favorite winter fabric, fleece. I'm wearing a lilac fleece sweater and feeling very cozy.

There's nothing fancy, expensive or complicated in this post, but the combination of the three has lifted my spirits immeasurably. Until the next warm day -- which is looking like Sunday -- I'll be in fleece and fun socks, enjoying coffee and the aroma of hyacinths.

I'm joining The Enchanting Rose, one of my favorite places in BlogLand for Roses of Inspiration.

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

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Pink Saturday Thank You

I got back to New York on Wednesday night, but it's been tough getting back to blogging. Actually it's been tough getting back to lots of things in my daily life, but finally I've gotten back to the gym, grocery shopped and happily, here, I am at the computer, just in time for some Pink Saturday fun.

Waiting for me when I arrived at home was a package from one of my favorite bloggers, Lavender Dreams, and it was decked out in pink. I was the winner of the "Sunshine and Sweetness" giveaway. Since I had just spent time in minus degrees weather the gift of sunshine and sweetness was a perfect welcome home.

 The wrapping was so pretty in pink...
...and I'm delighted with my pink floral makeup bag, sea shells and sweet card. 
Many, many thanks!
The phrase "life-changing" is used often, and I tend to be wary of it, but the prayer retreat was life-changing. I can see changes in my life already, but I am also aware that it may be many weeks or months before all of the changes begin to be part of my life. I am so grateful that forty people took four days of their lives to discuss faith and prayer and to pray. It was deep, it was intense and I am striving  to carry the experience forward. 
Blogger is being it's more petulant self and I can't enlarge the photos. I will try again in the next few days and hope it's being more cooperative. 
We had glorious warmer weather today and everyone who was able to do so, was out and enjoying the sunshine. Lots of slush, but what a treat.
As ever, thanks for visiting. Take good care and keep cozy! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New Snow, New Day

I'm at our congregational prayer retreat. The weather is freezing, but we are wrapped in so much warmth. My blog buddies are in my prayers, but if there is anything specific you would like added, please let me know.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Return to Exile

I am a great fan of historical fiction. More often than not there is at least one book that takes place in a historical setting on my night table, and generally it takes place somewhere in England or Scotland. If I see "Tudor" in a title the book moves up to the top of my reading list. But thanks to the Litfuse Publicity Group, I've moved out of my very familiar eras and entered the world of ancient Carthage.

I very much enjoyed Lynne Gentry's "Return to Exile." The second book in the Carthage Chronicles, we enter the world of Dr. Lisbeth Hastings, a modern epidemiologist, who finds herself in ancient Carthage. My knowledge of the era goes far back to eighth-grade Ancient History, but I was glad to return with Lisbeth, her true love, third century Cyprian, and members of the early Christian Church of Carthage. Lisbeth returns to Carthage via time travel and it's a fascinating journey. "Return to Exile" is the second in the trilogy and I am eager to read the third volume, "Valley of Decision," scheduled for publication in September.

I'm still a fan of novels set in Tudor times, but I'm also reminded that it's fun to venture to other times and places. I've also become a fan of Lynne Gentry's novels. I'm happy to venture to a time and place that I don't know well and become familiar with fascinating and engaging characters and events. Thanks, Lynne Gentry, for my own journey through time.

I'm off to a prayer retreat a little further north later this morning. I hope to post at least once while I'm away, but I'm unsure about the internet and phone connections. Please know that you will be in my thoughts and prayers during this time of prayer and reflection.

As always, take care and keep warm!    

Please note: I received a copy or "Return to Exile" in exchange for my review, but the opinions are all mine. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love from New York, It's Valentine Pink Saturday!

It's time for some Pretty in Pink Saturday Valentine fun. I've been taking pictures for the last two weeks and I'm excited to share them with my bloggy buddies.

There are hearts and kisses...
A monkey or two.. say I love you!
There are friends old and new, who are wishing you a very Happy and Sweet Valentine's Day!
Pepe is joining the fun, too. Since he doesn't have a sleeve, he's wearing his heart on his hoodie.
I spent the day with some of my very favorite people and had a sweet, sweet Valentine's Day. I hope your day was just as special and that you have memories to savor. 
As ever, thanks for visiting. Take good care and keep warm on these cold, cold days.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

If You Can't Get to the Royal Ballet, the Royal Ballet Will Come to You

It is no secret that I am a fan of ballet. I love it and would happily attend every week. I am lucky I live in New York and for most of the year have the opportunity to see live ballet weekly. But that's not the case everywhere. Even with the availability the cost of tickets makes ballet-going more of a treat than a weekly event. I was delighted to discover the cinema evenings produced by Fathom Events, taking place at local theaters. Yes, the ballet is coming to you.

"The Winter's Tale," based on the Shakespeare play, will be screened on February 17 and "Swan Lake," will be screened on March 19. While Winter's Tale is a new adaptation, Swan Lake is a beloved classic of dance. I'm always excited to see a new work and find a new favorite and I love seeing my favorite ballets again and again. And yes, Swan Lake is one of my great favorites. I cry every time I see it.

Thanks to our friends at Fathom Events I am happy to provide a link for New York and New Jersey blog buddies to win tickets to local theaters, for these performances.  The events are one day only for each ballet.

"Swan Lake" may be my favorite ballet. Are there other ballet fans in Buttercupland? What are your favorite ballets?

It's grown very chilly -- downright cold -- in New York City. It's hat, scarf and boots weather again. Family and friends in New England, keep cozy and safe!

As always thanks for visiting and take good care.

Please note: I have received tickets to these events to enable me to write about them, but there is no other compensation. The opinions are all mine.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Foodie Thursday: A Valentine's Day Sweet Treat

When I was in college one of my favorite breakfasts was toast with cinnamon sugar butter. It's one of my all time favorite comfort foods and just the memory of warm toast with the aroma of cinnamon makes me feel happy. It was the perfect food to fortify me to trudge across campus for morning classes in the New England winter. 

The years passed and I no longer trudge across campus, and the plates of butter mixed with cinnamon and sugar became a distant memory -- until this week. The very nice folks at Bearitos asked me if I would like to try their new limited edition Bearito Pita Chips. There are two fabulous flavors, Fair Trade Cocoa and Cinnamon Sugar. Yes, bloggy buddies, cinnamon sugar is back in my life, and it's delicious.

It's a great snack, non GMO and filling, and both flavors would be great for a Valentine treat. I do like candy, but I'm working on cutting down my candy consumption and this works so well for me. I'm thinking of getting my favorite low-fat cream cheese -- mixed with yogurt -- and adding a little cherry jam for a dip. 
I made a trip to Whole Foods -- the only place to find these limited edition pita chips -- yesterday and found this treasure trove. 

Both are great flavors, and I am leaning to Cinnamon Sugar for my Valentine special snack. But I know there are lots of cocoa fans in Buttercupland, too. Which flavor would you choose? Cocoa or Cinnamon and Sugar?

Happy to report the sun is shining in New York city today. I'm catching up on home things this morning and looking forward to a coffee get-together a little later today. I hope there's sunshine in your day, too.

As always, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Please note: I received the product in order to sample, but the opinions are all mine. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Beach Blanket Monkey Monday and a Giveaway Followup

Pepe and Opus were so excited about being part of Monkey Monday last week that they asked if they could share their latest adventure with their friends in Buttercupland. While Opus likes the winter, it's getting to Pepe. He was longing for a trip to the beach, and a banana margarita. The margarita will have to wait for a trip to the grocery, but we improvised on the beach trip. The dynamic duo is lounging next to their own version of a pool, the kitchen sink. They kept away from the apples and pears that are cooking on the stove and they had a happy time. It's not quite the beach and the wash cloth isn't quite a beach blanket, but those of us in chilly climes are improvising and making our own fun.

The more the merrier on Monkey Monday.  These two cuties are here to join the Valentine celebration.
Last month Buttercupland celebrated its sixth blogaversary, and I posted a celebration giveaway. Nineteen very nice bloggers responded with comments, and I just couldn't pick one person for six surprises. Instead all nineteen bloggers will be getting surprises. It may be a card, a trinket from my travels, a book or a box of candy. I have some addresses, but will be reaching out in the next little while get all the addresses of everyone who left comments. I wouldn't have a blog without the sweet bloggers whom I've met. Again, and always, many thanks and lots of hugs!
This has been a quiet at-home day. I cooked, caught up on bills and scheduled a couple of medical appointments, and took Pepe to the beach. Tomorrow it's back to the gym and a trip to the post office.
As always, thanks for visiting. New England friends and family, be safe and everyone, take care.  

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ballerina Pink Saturday

The Apthorp Cleaners probably has the best windows in the neighborhood. They decorate their windows with tableaux done with Barbie dolls. They always have lots of pink in the décor and I stop every time as I walk by and take pictures. The most recent window featured the Impressionist painter Edgar Degas painting one of his famous paintings of ballerinas. Alas, you can see the snow reflected in the window, but nonetheless these ballerinas make a pretty in Pink Saturday

The previous scene was this fabulous pink ribbon fashion show. The attendees are so elegantly dressed and the tables are perfectly set. 

Today was downright balmy, reaching thirty-eight degrees and there was even sun. I let myself dream of spring for just a few minutes, especially when I saw these pretty in pink spring clothes in a store window. Lincoln Center is in the reflection and yes, there's still some snow on the ground. I actually own a similar pink cardigan as well as pink slacks, but I think the check dress could have a place in my closet.

I hope you're having a pretty in pink Saturday, too. Thanks for visiting and take good care.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Foodie Friday: Spaghetti Squash Pizza (Sort of)

I'm going to begin this post with a disclaimer. I am not a food blogger. Repeat, I am not a food blogger, but my respect for food bloggers has risen exponentially after putting this post together. Friends, posting about cooking, rather than my usual writing about food, is a lot harder than it appears. And then there's the pictures, which look like a seventh grade project, if the seventh grader had never used a cell phone camera. All that aside, I had a good adventure with spaghetti squash last week and I would like to share it.

One of my goals this winter has been to cook more and to try vegetables that I am not familiar with. I've so far become adept at roasting brussel sprouts, as well as braising fennel with onions and oranges. When my Weight Watchers buddy Blaire suggested a spaghetti squash pizza, I rose to the challenge. I had never made spaghetti squash before, but how difficult could it be? I learned cooking spaghetti squash wasn't difficult. Making it into pizza was the problem.

The spaghetti squash waiting to be cooked.
Both Blaire and my college roommate, Jane, recommended microwaving the squash, but since I had the oven on -- love the warmth of the oven in the winter -- for another project I roasted the squash in the oven. I did pierce it a few times, to prevent a squash explosion. The recipe suggested cutting it in half before roasting, but I couldn't hack it apart without doing myself bodily harm. As the photo below shows, it did just fine.
I followed the recipe and prepared the "crust." This is the crust after baking. The edges are nice and crispy as described in the recipe. Unfortunately the center isn't pizza crust crispy. I should have covered the edges with aluminum foil and put the "crust" back in the oven for another ten minutes or so. The taste was great, but it wasn't crispy enough to be pizza.   
I added a layer of tomato sauce and sautéed olives, onions and turkey sausage. I baked it for another ten minutes for the flavors to come together.  
Not exactly pizza, but a great casserole for a winter day. It was filling, tasted great, healthy, and I had two more meals that only needed heating up. It met my goal of introducing a new vegetable to my menus and being easy to cook. The squash itself doesn't have a lot of flavor, but would work well with different seasonings. We've got another cold week ahead and I may try to master making "pizza" crust.  
I know I said I wouldn't complain about the weather, but it has been cold, really cold. I take solace in knowing that spring is only six weeks away and I am thrilled that it's light until 5:30. One thing that perked me up this morning was featuring Miss Fluffy in her pretty red outfit for The American Heart Association's Go Red for Women event. This annual effort raises awareness about heart disease and women and encourages everyone to wear red.

 Miss Fluffy is asking you to take good care of your heart 
Please stop by tomorrow for Pink Saturday fun. As always, take care and keep cozy! 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Fifty Layers of Fleece -- Buttercup's Fifty Shades of Grey

I remember the moment so well. Our eyes met as we reached for the fennel, and then our hands touched, and touched again. It was during the Snowmaggedon 2015 pre-blizzard food hysteria. I forgot the fennel. My only focus was the man whose brown eyes I was looking into.

Without saying a word we both drifted to the cashier. He was in front of me as I checked out. When I got home I found a card in my down coat pocket with his name and number. Could I call him? Should I call him? My heart and my thoughts were racing.

I didn't call strangers, but I called him and as the snow melted I found myself a mile downtown entering his building and then his apartment. I saw the New York Times and the recliner and the two cups side by side. I knew I made the right decision.

 The zipper was stuck on my down coat. He helped me with it and said, "I have something for you." Again, my heart was racing. I looked around and saw what lay on the sofa, fifty layers of fleece. I told him I was a down wearing woman and he told me to live outside my comfort zone. "Fleece is warm, so warm," he told me.

And then I saw the hand lotion. I remembered seeing it at Saks, and I remembered the aroma, the scent of wild oranges on a summer night in Capri. I remember thinking who buys hand lotion for $100?  Now I knew, a man who can fall in love with just one touch across the fennel. This man.

"I'm going to wrap you in fifty layers of fleece."

 I settled down in the recliner and heard the words I had longed to hear for so long. "I'm going to explain Medicare Part D to you," and I sat back.


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Dale Chihuly at Fairchild Garden


I'm a fan of glass art, whether the pieces are snow globes bought in gift shops around the world or vases and sculpture by artists. One of my favorite glass artists is Dale Chihuly. I'm not sure when I discovered Dale Chihuly's glass sculptures, and I can't remember when I first saw one in person. But once I became aware of them I am delighted to discover them in my travels. I had the good fortune of seeing a show of Chihuly glass in Dublin last summer and the equal good fortune in being able to visit a large installation of his work in Florida last month. I am very grateful that my friend, Sue, saw that the display was taking place during my visit and made arrangements for us to see it. The settings were extraordinary and it was a fabulous experience.

There were over eighty pieces arranged in the gardens and these are a few of my favorites. We rode throughout the grounds on a tram and got to see all of the pieces. We enjoyed the tram ride so much that we rode twice, both in daylight and twilight. The changing colors at different times were a special treat.

Today was cold and slip-slidey, a word I've just coined. I did get out for some fresh air, but I was very content to spend most of the day doing home things. I even let myself skip the gym. Tomorrow is supposed to be relatively warm -- 40 degrees! -- and I'll catch up on the gym and errands then.

I'm linking up with Roses of Inspiration for some happy Tuesday thoughts. Please stop by and meet some of the nicest bloggers in BlogLand.

As ever, thanks for visiting and keep cozy!

Monday, February 2, 2015

No Monkey Business Monkey Monday

Even though I had my favorite monkey choose a winner for the Grow Your Blog giveaway there was no monkey business. Pepe and Opus were diligent and we're pleased to say the winner of the giveaway is Anne Payne. Please stop by Anne's blog and say hello. I enjoy visiting and especially like finding out about new books and authors.
Pepe is in his winter attire and Opus, of course, is always dressed for cold weather. They are posing with the book for Anne.
Pepe isn't the only monkey in the Buttercupland today. We've got our old friend Curious George, who I ran into during my walk yesterday.
You're looking good, George!
I found this cute collection at my local drugstore. They can be used for cold packs or for heat. Tomorrow is senior discount day and I may swap my bags of frozen vegetables for the little monkey. 
These cuties made my day. Te amo, my blog buddies.
I'm not sure how the day flew by so quickly. We've got snow and freezing rain outside and I have not stepped more than five feet from my apartment door. It was a day for coffee, cooking and computer time. I roasted vegetables and made a spaghetti squash "pizza." The pizza making process went slowly because I took lots of pictures for Foodie Friday.
As ever, thanks for visiting. Take good care and keep cozy!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Breath of Spring Sunlit Sunday

I was all set for a longer post filled with photographs for Sunlit Sunday. But Blogger is once again very uncooperative in letting me enlarge pictures and I've had a very full night watching the Super Bowl. I do believe that this picture in front of one of my favorite neighborhood florists perfectly captures what brought sunshine to me this Sunday. I can't think of a more welcome sight for those of us who are weary of winter than these flowers. I didn't buy anything, but I think a return trip later this week needs to be on my schedule.

Now it's snowing and we're promised more of a storm than we had last week. I spent the day with my friend Mary and we saw a movie, had lunch and enjoyed a long walk, where we found these flowers. It was relatively warm out and I could hear my mother's voice pushing me out the door, encouraging me to get "some fresh air."

There may be snow, but there will also be lots of fun in Buttercupland tomorrow. I hope you will  stop by for Monkey Monday and to find out the winner of the GrowYour Blog Party giveaway.

As always, thanks for visiting and keep warm and cozy!