Thursday, April 30, 2015

Go West, Young Woman

With apologies to Horace Greeley, this phrase -- Go West, Young Woman -- stayed in my mind as I read "A Heart's Obsession." This is the second volume in Colleen Coble's Journey of the Heart series. We follow the tremendously likeable Sarah Montgomery west to Fort Laramie, Wyoming and the love of her life, Rand Campbell. The series takes place directly after the Civil War and it's a great blend of romance and history. It's not a period I am very familiar with and I very much enjoyed reading about Sarah's life in Wyoming. I am glad that there are four more books in the series and delighted that the next book, "A Heart's Danger" is waiting for me.

One of my goals is to see all fifty states and I have eight, mostly in the west, left to see. I have been to Wyoming, but only for one day and this book definitely makes me want to make return visit. I've had a pull to definitely make a trip west in the next year. I've never been to North or South Dakota, so they are high on my list, as are Zion and Bryce National Parks in Utah. I know there's at least one Buttercupland buddy in Utah, but are there any bloggers from either North or South Dakota in Buttercupland?

I am happy -- actually thrilled -- to welcome a long awaited guest to New York City. Yes, it's our good friend, Spring. So very glad you're here!

As ever thanks for visiting. Take good care and I hope spring is in your neighborhood, too.

Please note, I received a copy of "A Heart's Obsession" from Litfuse Publicity Group to read and review. The opinions are all mine.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Do You Want to (Watch) Dance?

I am happy to share a quick contest for Buttercupland friends in New York and Northern New Jersey. Thanks to our friends at Fathom events I am able to offer the opportunity to win a pair of tickets to a film presentation of the Royal Ballet's production of "La Fille Mal Gardee." This is a one-time only presentation for next Tuesday, May 5. Please click this link to enter.

The Royal Ballet is always a treat and this ballet is no exception. This is legendary choreographer
Frederick Ashton's final full-length ballet and one of his most joyous creations, inspired by his love for the Suffolk countryside. It is based on an 1828 French ballet and the music was adapted by John Lanchbery from Ferdinand Hérold's original score. La Fille mal gardée was a great success on its premiere in 1960 and has remained a favorite in The Royal Ballet's repertory. Young love, stunning dance and the English countryside...this promises to be a fabulous evening for those of us who can't make it to London to see the Royal Ballet. 
I am very grateful to my friends at Fathom Events for the opportunity to offer this to Buttercupland. I only wish everyone could take advantage of it. I received no compensation for this offer.
Happily, spring has arrived in New York City and today was glorious, with bright sunshine. My cold has receded and some computer hiccups seem to have resolved, though I'm keeping my fingers crossed for spring, health and computer.
No, this isn't New York, but it's as pretty a spring picture as I have. It's the Queen's Garden at Gyeonbokgung Palace in Seoul.
As ever, thanks for visiting. Hope you had a wonderful Wednesday and wishes for a terrific Thursday.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Where Did My Spring Go?

When I left for Japan almost three weeks ago it was still winter, not the depths of winter, but cold enough for my light winter jacket. I was reasonably -- actually, almost certain -- that when I got back it would be spring. After all it would be nearly May when I got back.

Yes, the trees are blooming -- and somewhere in my phone are the spring flowers -- but I am still wearing my winter coat and heavy jeans. We've been promised warmer weather this week, but I won't believe it until I feel it. We're also having a boiler emergency in my building. Our boiler has gone far, far away and while we do have an emergency system for hot water -- a problem for two days last week -- there's no heat. This shouldn't be a problem in late April, but as we know this isn't a year for weather as we've known it. Of course with the state of the world tonight, I still count myself as very fortunate. My prayers are for those in Nepal, also without heat. and in much more dire circumstances.

So that this isn't a whiny post, I'm adding a Monkey Monday picture, taken in the airport in Seoul.

No, this cute little guy didn't come home with me. The prices in the airport were, well they were the typical double the prices not at the airport.

I think I'm getting closer to Eastern Daylight Time, but I'm not there yet. I will so appreciate being on a more regular schedule.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Lilac Pink and Cotton Candy Saturday

Alas, Random 5 Friday is on hiatus, so I'm going directly to Pink Saturday. I am going to do a post on my skincare and cosmetics shopping in Korea, but I'm going to save it for another day. Today I'm going to share one of my favorite photos from the trip, and almost pink, thanks to colorization via Google.

Although Blogger is playing difficult and not letting me enlarge this, it's one of the beautiful lilac bushes I found all over Seoul.  Lilacs are my favorite flower and one I didn't expect in Korea. But there were a number of times I was drawn to the lilacs via the aroma coming to me. There were some of the fullest and most beautiful lilacs I've ever seen.

One of my other discoveries in Korea is Milkcow, an organic Korean soft ice cream company. I had one of the best soft ice cream cones ever. There are many delightful varieties, but I went with Montblanc, which had a cotton candy garnish. There are branches in Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines, but since none of those countries are right around the corner, or a subway ride away, I'm hoping that Milkcow comes to New York. 

Soft ice cream, cotton candy and jelly beans -- fantasy come to life!

I'm still somewhere in another time zone, but I'm hoping I'm getting closer to New York City. In an effort to getting back to a more settled sleep schedule, I'm going to get ready for dreamland. I'm hoping my dreams will be all lilacs and cotton candy.

Sweet dreams and thanks, as ever, for stopping by.

Friday, April 24, 2015

It's Three O'Clock in the Afternoon in Tokyo...

...and my body wants to be there.
I've been awake for the last half hour and for the first ten minutes I assumed I'd quickly drift back to sleep. But after realizing I was wide awake and could actually do the post I'd planned to do at nine o'clock, a realization came to me. It was the dreaded jet lag. My body is perfectly synched with the time in Tokyo and Seoul. It knows it should be out and about and not sleeping. In a fantasy, I thought I would make the transition back to New York without jet lag, but here I am at almost four o'clock a.m. wide awake.
I left Seoul at 4:55 Wednesday afternoon and arrived in New York at 9:30 Wednesday night, after two airports, two flights, two and a half movies, three television episodes, three meals and sixteen hours in the air. Happily, it was uneventful and we even missed major thunderstorms in New York by half an hour, permitting the flight to land on time.  I have a half unpacked suitcase and dirty laundry that needs to be dealt with, but I got to the grocery -- mandatory! -- the gym and to the bank. Later this morning I will get to Weight Watchers. I don't usually go to the 9:00 a.m. session, but since I may still be wide awake, I will start my day earlier. That will put me at Trader Joe's before the weekend food buying hysteria begins and I will get fruit and vegetables, for a return to sane and sensible eating.
I was feeling a little sad at coming to the end of my trip. Despite my travel anxieties, I almost always find traveling exciting and interesting and this trip was no exception. Fabulous sights, interesting travel companions, and a wonderful time with my friend K, who I shared Japan with.  There were the sublime moments, like seeing Mt. Fuji and the less sublime, like discovering the infinite flavors of soft ice cream in Japan and I enjoyed them all. Home in comparison, even New York City, seemed very routine. 
But I was greeted with this...just a block from home, and reminded that there were many discoveries yet to make right around the corner, literally and figuratively. 
  Broadway, Upper West Side
I also made this discovery while grocery shopping...
I think I'll start with the green tea, and then the ginger.
It's 4:02 a.m. in New York City on Friday, April 24 and all is well. I hope all is well in whatever time zone you are in. I plan to be back sometime in the next twenty-four hours with Random Five Friday. There will definitely be one random thought on wasabi KitKats and several on skin care shopping in Korea. 
Thanks for visiting and take good care.   

Monday, April 20, 2015

Greetings from Seoul, Korea

This is my third day in Seoul -- we leave tomorrow -- and I'm enjoying the visit a lot. I felt like I did a lot of running around in Japan and I'm taking the pace slower in Seoul. I'm doing a lot of walking -- after two rainy days the weather is beautiful -- some shopping and trying out a few of the infinite number of places to drink coffee. My big treat for the trip is a massage later this afternoon. I did some research before I got here and the place that looked great online looked even more luxurious in person. 

I did do some serious sightseeing and one of my stops was the Chogyesa Buddhist Temple. The bright colored papers are prayer requests. 

Tomorrow afternoon I fly back to New York, via a quick stop in San Francisco. For my next blog post I'm back at my computer, looking at my living room, not the street in Seoul. I'm looking forward to everything familiar, but I know I'll miss seeing new sights. I've got some blog posts in mind for the coming weeks, so we'll still be spending time in Japan and Korea.

As ever, thanks for visiting and for joining me on my travels. Take good care and have a terrific Tuesday!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Kimono Pink Saturday

The color isn't quite pink, but the theme is cherry blossoms. Saturday is actually moving to a close -- it's late in the afternoon in Tokyo -- and I can't link to my friends at Pink Saturday. But I still have been on the lookout for pink treasures to share. I saw these beauties at the Tokyo National Museum this morning and enjoyed seeing great works of Japanese art. I can't think of a better way to spend a perfect spring day.

This is my last full day in Japan, a visit that has gone by in what seems a second. Tomorrow morning I leave for South Korea and new adventures.

As always, thanks for visiting. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mt. Fuji in the Morning...

...Followed by Tokyo in the afternoon. It's hard to believe I'm in the same country, only about one hundred miles apart. In some ways I feel I've returned to New York. The city is big, crowded and in constant motion. I'm looking forward to exploring Tokyo, though two days will barely begin to give me a sense of the city.

As ever, thanks for visiting and for joining me on my Japanese adventures.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

It's Not All Cherry Blossoms

 So far I've posted pictures of the most sublime sights, gardens and exquisite temples and lots and lots of cherry blossoms. But a country is more than the sublime. There are things that veer completely in a different direction. So, I give you the wasabi KitKat.

Wasabi is a spicy horseradish type root, very popular in Japan as a condiment. I'm a horseradish fan, but I wasn't ready to buy a package of eight KitKats. But you can be sure the minute I see just one for sale, I'll be trying this delicacy, and I will report back on my experience. 

We've left Kyoto and are staying in Hakone, a town known for its hot springs tonight. I'm looking forward to a visit to the baths in our hotel after dinner. On to Mt. Fuji tomorrow morning and then to Tokyo later in the day.

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cherry Pink

Sometimes I get an idea in mind and it stays and stays. One of the ideas that has stuck with me for the last thirty years is seeing Kyoto during the cherry blossom season. It's approximately the second and third weeks of April, but, like so many things, it depends on the weather. 

A lot of the blossoms are now petals in the wind, but there were enough to give me the vistas I had dreamed of. I have a number of cherry blossom pictures I will share in the coming weeks, but this picture taken at Nijo Castle, the Shogun's residence in Kyoto, is one of my favorites. 

Despite lots of rain, a soggy Buttercup is so enjoying Kyoto. Tomorrow we leave for Hakone and then to see Mt. Fuji on Thursday. I wish all of you could join me.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Welcome to Japan

After two very uneventful flights and over a day in transit I am in Osaka, enjoying the Sheraton's wi-fi. I had the gift of travel gifts, three seats in my row all for me, watched two movies and four episodes of "House of Cards" and was served two meals and a snack. I'm settling in and relaxing dora little while and then I'm exploring the department store next door to the hotel. I've had great recommendations about Japanese department store dining and will have dinner there. 

While waiting for my tour group to meet up with our guide I was interviewed by a crew from Japanese television who asked what I was most interested in seeing during my visit. Definitely, the cherry blossoms in Kyoto, though I know there will be many other things that will make memories.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bon Voyage

I realize the person who is traveling doesn't say bon voyage, but those are the words going around in my head.  I leave early, early tomorrow morning for two weeks away, mostly in Japan, but with four days in South Korea, too. I am nervous and excited, my usual mix before "big" trips, and this qualifies as a big trip. I'm on a tour, so there's a lot less to worry about, but I am still running through all kinds of worries -- am I packing the right clothes, for example -- that I usually have before travel.

I hope to post every few days, but knowing that portable electronic devices can be very temperamental -- my iPad froze during last summer's vacation -- that may not be possible. The easiest way to keep in touch is  Facebook.  If anyone would like to keep in touch that way, the link goes to my page. I hope to take lots of pictures and also hope that the cherry blossoms are in full bloom in Kyoto.

Until I'm back, bon voyage and take good care!

I Thought It Was Spring -- (Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Yesterday...The sidewalk tables were out on Broadway and the flowers were in the planters. It was just about warm enough to entertain thoughts of eating lunch al fresco. By the time I went out to do an errand last night I was desperately trying to remember where I put my gloves. It's not winter, but it comes pretty close.  I'll be eating indoors today.

Wishes for warm and sunny, if not for the weather, in our lives.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

At the Easter Parade Pink Saturday

For our Pink Saturday fun this week we're going to Fifth Avenue for the Easter Parade. Though the afternoon started out a little overcast it was still fun to sit outside and then stroll down Fifth Avenue to see extraordinary hats.

There were Easter basket hats...
more Easter basket hats...
...and bird cage hats!
There were lots of bunny ears...
...and more bunny ears!

Despite the crowds -- it sounds odd for someone living in New York City, I'm not a fan of crowds -- I had a lot of fun with my friend, Lynda, looking at the hats. We were accompanied by the grandest monkey in the Easter Parade, Pepe. He was also the only monkey I saw during our visit to Fifth Avenue.

We found a nice place to watch the scene on Fifth Avenue at 59th Street. The building in the background is the Plaza Hotel.

I hope it was as happy an Easter Day for all of the visitors to Buttercupland as Pepe and I had.

Wishes for a bright and sunny week.    

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring Thoughts Random 5 Friday

It's been a wonderful holiday weekend. I've had the joy of spending both Seder nights with dear friends. There's been much good conversation, thoughtful reflection and great food. I've got any number of random thoughts flying through my mind that I'd like to share. Without further ado, welcome to five random thoughts for this Random 5 Friday post.

1) My first thought is about Passover. One of my grocery stops was at my local fruit and vegetable market. Horseradish is still part of the service as we recall the bitterness of slavery in Egypt. We had roots very much like these on our tables.

2) I am so enjoying the spring weather. It's really here and it's really wonderful. This planter is at the building next to mine. I was delighted one morning as I turned the corner and this beautiful display greeted me.

3) One of my favorite buildings in Manhattan is Trinity Church. There are generations of Lower Manhattan buildings in this photograph, including One World Trade Center on the far left. Black  and white depiction per Google.
4) I am in a somewhat state of disbelief that I will be leaving for Japan in less than a week. I've got a dentist appointment on Tuesday, one more Weight Watchers meeting to attend on Wednesday, one more trip to the gym, laundry, banking and of course, packing. I've bought new jeans, I'm trying to determine which shoes will be comfortable and I'm downloading a few library books to read on the plane.  I'm both anxious -- I get anxious at every long trip -- and so excited.

5) I don't think a Random 5 recap would be complete without a picture of food, and those giant horseradish roots don't count. In anticipation of Easter I present these sweet cakes. I saw them at a bakery this evening, and only the knowledge that regular baked goods are not on my food list for Passover kept me from making an impulse purchase. I was especially taken with the pink ones.

To everyone celebrating Easter, bright and joyous wishes!  
As ever, thanks for visiting and take very good care.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Halo Found Hope

I realized my life was changed -- forever -- the first time I began a sentence with the phrase, "My neurosurgeon said..." I'd had surgery perhaps ten time before, but for the most part when the surgery and recovery were completed, the surgery was finished. Done.  But after my diagnosis of a spinal cord tumor in 2012 my new life had only just begun. Helo's story of her diagnosis, surgery and recovery are different than mine was, but I found so many places that resonated.

How do you go through the physical journey, the emotional journey and the spiritual journey? Helo -- it's hard to think of her as "the author" -- has written a warm, interesting and completely engaging memoir dealing with all of these issues. I feel that I've come to know Helo as a friend and her story of recovery and faith is definitely worth reading, especially in this season of faith.

I'm grateful to my friends at the Litfuse Publicity Group for the opportunity to read "Halo Found Hope. I know many people prefer fiction for their reading, but I strongly recommend this story. I don't think you will regret it at all

I will be back tomorrow with some Random 5 thoughts and again for Easter Pink Saturday. My best wishes for those beginning the celebration of Passover tonight.

As ever, many thanks for visiting. Take good care and have a bright and blessed holiday weekend.

Please note: I was given a copy of this book to read and write about, but the opinions are all mine.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Shall We Dance?

My answer is an emphatic yes!
I got home a little later than I expected from the preview of the Lincoln Center  production of "The King and I." I didn't write my post last night, but the memories stay very fresh this morning. As a preface, I am an enormous fan of Rodgers and Hammerstein and I wasn't sure that this production could equal the previous Lincoln Center productions of "Carousel" and "South Pacific," both of which are among my favorite theater experiences. Equal, it did and then some.
The music remains glorious. This is the show that gave us "Hello, Young Lovers," "I Have Dreamed" and of course, "Shall We Dance." Add extraordinary sets, amazing staging, great dancing and dazzling singing and acting. As the show would say, "Etc., etc., etc." This was a production and set of performances I will long remember and treasure. 
The show is still in previews, set to open April 16. New York area friends, if you are at all interested in seeing "The King and I," please try and get tickets now. Once it opens, I anticipate that tickets will be very, very scarce.
The pool and sculpture at Lincoln Center. The neon lights for "The King and I" are in the back, left.
I'm off to the cleaners, drugstore and the gym. It's a real spring day in New York today and I'm out to enjoy it. Hope it's true spring all over Buttercupland.
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Happy spring!