Thursday, September 29, 2016

My Kind of Celebration

My first stop on the coffee trail began with a cup of hot coffee at my favorite coffee cart in the neighborhood. 
 Twenty four hours ago I'd never heard of this event and now here I am joining the celebration. What celebration? Today is officially National Coffee Day. Of course I celebrate coffee every day, but it's nice to have a day dedicated to one of my favorites in life. Besides drinking coffee I decided to document coffee in my immediate neighborhood. I had a meeting a mile from home. As I walked home I found a number -- a large number -- of places, either dedicated to coffee, or including coffee. My photographs were taken during a half mile of my walk only on one side of the street.

Two blocks north of the coffee cart I stopped at Fairway, a New York chain, to visit the coffee bean section. They had a great assortment of beans and the aroma was fabulous. 

Two blocks further north I passed Maison Kayser, an upscale bakeshop and restaurant. They have very good bread and beautiful pastries, as well as an extensive coffee menu. 

On the same block I passed Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, a national chain that is less upscale than Maison Kayser. The coffee is good and they have lots of seating. Amazingly, considering the number of places that feature coffee. it's sometimes difficult to find a seat. As an aside the store to the right, Westside Market, is where I made the sighting of the rare pumpkin yogurt.

These are a few that stood out. Oren's, which I wrote about in April during my search for the best coffee in New York, was also in this ten block stretch of Broadway. If you're surprised I didn't include Starbucks, it's not because there are none. There are two locations within these ten blocks, but they are on the other side of the street.
My best celebration of National Coffee Day, however, took place a few blocks north of the places photographed. I made a cup of Breakfast Blend Katahdin Specialty Coffee, which was a gift from my thoughtful friend, B. It was delicious, especially served in my Buttercup mug. Thanks B and Taryterre for your help in celebrating National Coffee Day.

Any other coffee fans in Buttercupland? Please let us know how you joined in the celebration.

Overnight it has turned to fall. I wore a jacket today and my open toe sandals are officially put away for the winter. There are pumpkins everywhere and it won't be very many more days before flannel and fleece makes appearances.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.


Monday, September 26, 2016

To My Dear Friends at Dannon...

In what seems to be a rare event, a sighting of Dannon Light & Fit Greek Pumpkin Pie yogurt.

To you, I am just one of the millions of people in the world who eat Dannon yogurt. But to me your Light & Fit Greek Pumpkin Pie Yogurt is a dream come true. I love yogurt and I eat it just about every day. I have a few favorites, but your Light & Fit Greek yogurt is at the top of my list for snacks. Most flavored yogurts have too many carbs and too much sugar, but Light & Fit's nine grams of carbs are an answer to prayer and my A1c.

I first saw the Limited Edition Pumpkin Pie at Westside Market on the Upper West Side right after Labor Day. I bought three containers, assuming that I could easily find this flavor anywhere in my yogurt-loving neighborhood. Silly, silly me! I spent the next two weeks searching for Pumpkin Pie, but without success. I searched as though I were seeking the Holy Grail and last Thursday I found the answer to me quest once again at West Side Market. Right in the middle of the blackberry stood two forlorn containers of pumpkin pie. I moved the other containers around seeking more and there were none. That was Thursday and today is Monday and those two are gone. I returned today and settled for blueberry and salted caramel. They are good, but they are not pumpkin pie. The whole world is eating pumpkin and the Upper West Side is bereft of Dannon Pumpkin Pie yogurt.

I posted my concern on Twitter and Instagram and my friends suggested other brands. After copious label reading, I learned that those other brands had at least double the carbohydrate content. I'd love to try them but the A1c knows all of our sugar and carb misdeeds. So like Galahad before me, tomorrow I will go off in search of your Pumpkin Pie Light & Fit Greek yogurt.

Dear friends at Dannon, Please do not forsake me! We need Pumpkin Pie on the Upper West Side and we need it now.
Yours truly,

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A Visit to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Real life has inadvertently gotten in the way of blogging. My sentimental journey -- blog post to come -- was interesting, demanding and very rewarding. But I returned from the trip to Massachusetts tired -- busy schedule! -- and anxious following the bombings in Chelsea. I was happily distracted by a visit from a childhood friend on Tuesday and blog friends on Wednesday.
I met my childhood friend, Sandy, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on Tuesday afternoon. I was tempted to cancel so that I could catch up on a dozen things on the home front, but happily went to Brooklyn and had a great time catching up and visiting the Botanical Garden. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden is always on my to-visit list, but I rarely get there. Big mistake, it is beautiful and an island of serenity just a few blocks out of the busyness of the streets of Brooklyn. I promise a return visit in cherry blossom season, if not before. 

If I didn't know I had just arrived by the New York City subway system, I would think I had flown to Japan. The Japanese Garden was stunning and I could have spent the day sitting here and enjoying the view.

I also enjoyed the fountain and the flowers. In the distance you may catch a glimpse of the neighborhood just outside of the Garden.

These may -- or may not -- be the last roses of summer, but if they're not the very last, there aren't that many more behind them. The temperatures have cooled down to the very low 80s and I saw the letter "6" begin a weather forecast for the weekend. 

Today has been a "home front," grocery shopping and blogging day. Love my adventures about New York and traveling, but equally enjoy days at home.

As ever, thanks for visiting and a very happy autumn!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

It's Almost Sock Weather...

...And time for long sleeves and long pants. Autumn is officially less than ten days away and I feel that I can legitimately begin the autumn posts. While doing a little browsing over the weekend I came across a display of cat and dog Halloween costumes. Since my last post -- writing about September 11 -- was (appropriately) serious I thought this topic would lighten things considerably. We can all use a little fun and even some silly in our lives.

Whether it's the simple themed neckwear...

A witch's hat...

Or the bovine look, your feline friend is going to look spiffy for the Halloween festivities. 

No worry, canine friends are included, too. Some devoted animal companion is going to be dashing in the Oscar Meyer look or monkey look-alike.

Fido will be pretty in pink for Halloween.

Tomorrow I'm off for a sentimental journey. The song lyric continues, "to renew old memories." I know I will do that, but I hope to make some new memories, too. You know there will be pictures.

As ever, thanks for visiting and welcome to almost autumn.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fifteen Years Later

The Garden in Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan Island 

I had a few dreams growing up. I wanted to write a novel, I wanted to visit Paris and I wanted to live in New York. If I had any thoughts of fame, those thoughts were limited to literary fame. I never dreamed of being an actress or singer, the ways in which most women became famous when I was growing up. I certainly never saw myself as part of a defining moment in history. Never.

On September 11, 2001 I got up, got dressed, drank coffee and voted in the primary election held that day. Then I walked to the subway to take the train to work six blocks south of the World Trade Center. My thoughts were on a meeting about our Division's budget scheduled for 10:00 a.m. The train I was riding stopped north of the World Trade Center. No trains on that line were going south. Two women on the platform said that a plane had hit the Trade Center. I, like, millions of others that day thought it was a small plane, an accident. I was focused on my meeting and switched to the other line that ran downtown. 

I emerged from the subway at Wall Street and William Street, a very familiar corner. The scene that greeted me was not familiar. I looked west and saw Trinity Church. The sky behind the church was filled with paper. A million pieces of paper filled the sky, blown out of the World Trade Center. I ran down the street to my office and in those moments my life became part of history. 

With that moment and that decision my life passed from the personal to the historical and back to the personal and September 11 became my story, as it is still, fifteen years later. Where once it was my shoes walking on the sidewalks filled with ash, there are now plaques. Where once there were barriers and debris, there is construction and buildings rise. Where once the air was filled only with death and sorrow, there are now, as well, moments of light and air. 

Though the day is a day of history and remembrance, it is still my day of memory. The sorrow and the memories always remain, always. But mercifully and gratefully, they are not my first thoughts every morning, as they were for so many mornings. Fifteen years ago today that thought was incomprehensible. I will always mourn and I will never forget the thousands who went out on a beautiful late summer morning and never came home to their families and friends. But fifteen years later I am grateful for the slivers of light that slowly pierced the darkness of mourning and memory.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Buttermilk Channel Pink Saturday

With a final last hurrah to the summer of 2016 I'm sharing one of my favorite memories of the summer, a visit to one of my favorite restaurants, Buttermilk Channel, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn. Last summer I attended a wedding luncheon there and loved the atmosphere and the food. I made a note to return and in the way of the world it took me a year to get back there. It's a relatively casual restaurant, but fancier than simply dropping in for a quick salad for lunch, and less geographically convenient. But one evening in August I took three subways and met my friend Anita there to celebrate fifty -- yes, fifty! -- years of friendship. 

The New York waters are the home of small islands, inlets and channels. I've never made a study, but it seems we're never farther than a mile or two from a body of water. I've never lived or worked farther than a mile from water, whether it was the East River or the Hudson. The great shipbuilding days are gone, but New York was settled, like so many cities, because it had a great harbor. Buttermilk Channel is the strait between Governors Island and Brooklyn. Legend goes that in the era when Brooklyn was farmland the farmers would come across the strait and sell their produce in Manhattan. The current was so strong that the milk would be churned into butter.
I arrived early and started the evening with a drink at the bar. It is very rare that I feel comfortable sitting by myself at a restaurant bar, but the atmosphere is very friendly and welcoming.

I've been on a very low carb diet for the last year, but I decided that this evening I would eat what I wanted, with no concern for calories or carbs. When we saw the mini-popovers at the next table the decision was made for us to order the popovers.  They are served with honey and sea salt and were light and delicious.

One of my favorite -- and least eaten -- foods is fried chicken. At Buttermilk Channel it is served with cheese waffles -- the carb choice of dreams -- and a delicious slaw. The chicken was crispy, not greasy and enough for two blissful nights of eating. Definitely worth the caloric splurge.
Buttermilk Channel is in Carroll Gardens, a beautiful neighborhood in Brooklyn. The area is a historic district, with the brownstones built in the period following the Civil War. At this time Brooklyn was not yet part of New York City. The area is one of my favorite places to walk and enjoy the historic architecture and neighborhood feeling.

I'm joining with Pink Saturday to share this last post of the summer. The weather is still summery, but the days are growing shorter and the post for tomorrow goes in an entirely different direction.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Monday, September 5, 2016

What I Did on Labor Day Weekend

I'm in a back to school mood, although I'm far away from going back to school, or even back to work after a long weekend. But old habits don't fade away and it seems that I, too, should be starting school. In lieu of the essay about my summer vacation, I present what I did over the Labor Day weekend in a brief photographic essay. 

My very long walk yesterday included walking several miles past Central Park. It wasn't hot, the park was lushly green and I got to walk with what seemed like, everyone else who was in Manhattan over the weekend. I walked miles and though my hip is not appreciative today, it was a wonderful way to get exercise and enjoy New York.

My favorite activity today was an outdoor theater performance in the urban garden two blocks from home, the West Side Community Garden. The play was fun and I'm appreciative of the efforts the staff and volunteers at the Garden make to schedule activities for the neighborhood. Though New York is a city of over eight million people, it's also a vast network of hundreds of neighborhoods.  
I also made my monthly -- the pace will pick up as the holiday calendar fills in -- visit to Michael's. I really need nothing -- and refrained from any extraneous purchases -- but I took a lot of pictures. They had an extensive selection of pet Halloween costumes (this is one small section) and I'm enjoying the thought of my favorite poodle, Elvis, dressed as a lobster. I know he would keep it on for about three minutes before tearing it off, but it would be a great picture. 

My other major activity of the weekend was blogging. I kept my commitment to blog five times and have just about responded to the comments that you all were kind of enough to leave for me. I'm glad to be back in Blog mode for the autumn. I also chose the winner for the Buttercupland giveaway for The Things We Knew.  It's Terra from Terra Garden. If you're not familiar with this blog, please stop by. It's always a very enjoyable visit.

I hope everyone else had an equally good weekend. Of course the biggest blessing was being spared the worst of Hurricane Hermine. We were lucky ducks!

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Happy to see you in September!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Thousand Islands Pink Saturday

I've been thinking a lot about my post on Friday and about seeing New York State. There are so many sights to see and it's hard to choose the ones I'd recommend first. I'd put New York City -- especially Manhattan at the top of the list. Yes, I'm Manhattan-centric, but after forty plus years living here I've found it to be endlessly interesting. Two and three on my list -- and they are tied -- are Niagara Falls and the Thousand Islands. I've only been to Niagara Falls once, many years ago, but I've been to the Thousand Islands area many times over the last forty five years. The beauty of the river and the natural beauty of the countryside never fail to delight and calm me. If you had asked me before this most recent visit last month if there was anything I hadn't yet seen in the area, I would have replied that I'd seen all of the sights. And I would have been very wrong.
On this trip I added a visit to one of the most outstanding collections of late nineteenth and early twentieth century resort architecture in the United States. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but each building was more impressive than the one next to it. Perfectly well preserved and beautifully detailed. 

I had the good fortune to visit the Thousand Islands Park Historic District, founded in 1875. Despite a massive fire in 1912, 294 buildings remain of the summer community at the southern tip of Wellesley Island in the St. Lawrence River. 
When the community first began access was only by water and the views of the river are magnificent.

The community began as a Chautauqua-like summer community with tents on wooden platforms. The first tents were built in close proximity to the Tabernacle, which was the center of the area. As more people came to enjoy the services, educational programs and find a reprieve from the heat bigger structures were built.

The District's library

The houses in this community form one of the largest intact buildings of the turn of the century period. Their lavish gingerbread trim has been well preserved. I visited on a quiet week-day morning and it felt that I slipped back into a scene from "Our Town." The modern bicycles and golf carts that were in use were among the few items that made me realize I was not celebrating the turn of the nineteenth century.

I especially enjoyed this sweet house with its upside down heart adornment.

The trim on this house equally delighted me.
These two beauties had a view of the river. What a perfect place to sit and rock and enjoy and iced tea and a cool breeze. 
This old dog -- metaphorically speaking -- learned a new trick on this visit north. There is frequently something new under the sun, but you have to be open to finding it. The "something new" in this case was actually not very new at all, but so worth discovering. My trip to Clayton followed our morning of walking, enjoying and discovering in the Historic District. If you're on the east coast, this is a relatively easy trip. If you've been wanting to visit Canada, combining this natural beauty and the interesting city sights in Ottawa, Canada's capital, would make a great trip. Remember to bring your passport!
Happily today was a beautiful day in New York City. Hermine didn't pay us a visit -- Hooray! -- though I'm not sure what tomorrow's weather may bring. I had brunch with a friend and enjoyed a much less crowded restaurant and Madison Avenue. A post later this week will bring fall fashion photographs from my walk this afternoon. Now I'm happily joining the fun at Pink Saturday.   
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a wonderful Monday!

The First Little Chill in the Air

 Our local urban garden is still lush and green...
...but the signs are in the air -- as well as that first little chill that says you may need a jacket -- that autumn isn't far away.   

I'm not a fan of winter, but I enjoy spring, summer and fall equally. Despite this summer's heat I've relished the long days of light and going out in a t-shirt and flip flops. The woes of winter seem very far when I'm sitting outdoors enjoying an iced coffee and a soft breeze. Often it's when I'm shopping that I note time is marching on. The d├ęcor is different and it seems to be the first sign that the new season or holiday is approaching. Sometimes it's far ahead, but this year it was only three weeks before autumn begins.

On Wednesday I caught up with errands in the neighborhood and 7-Eleven heralded the coming of pumpkin season. I know I will have a pumpkin latte or two later in the season, but I'm continuing to opt for my usual drink of iced coffee. I may just buy sugar-free pumpkin syrup and create my own drinks at home.
Home Goods was my next stop and autumn was the theme -- including both Thanksgiving and Halloween.  Thankfully, I saw no signs of Christmas yet. I'm hoping I won't see Christmas decorations before I'm wearing a jacket and socks on a regular basis. I'd like to savor the autumn before Christmas and Chanukah take center stage.  

I did like this cute trick or treat basket. I may be returning to continue pondering whether to make this a gift for favorite trick or treaters.
I'm on the lookout for cute Thanksgiving table pieces and the copper pumpkins on the left of the picture caught my eye. 
As I grow older I want time to go more slowly and like so many things we want just the opposite happens. The days go quickly, the seasons come before we're quite ready to let go of the last and the years...the years are in flight.

As ever, thanks for visiting. Everyone in the path of Hermine, stay safe and everyone else, have a great weekend.

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Light Between Oceans

I've got a close to infinite list of places to visit and an even longer list of books I'd like to read. One book that has been on the list for years is M.L. Stedman's The Light Between Oceans.  Even though it was published in 2012, to my regret, I still haven't gotten to it. I was delighted when my friends at Disney offered me the opportunity to see it in a preview on Monday. The one caveat was that I had to wait to write about it until it opened today.

Though I took a course on film criticism in college I am no film critic. But Buttercupland is not the New York Times. I highly respect the minds of my friends, but I realized soon after I began blogging and writing about books and, from time to time, about movies that this blog wouldn't take the place of the New York Times or the New Yorker. What I can do and what I do is answer the question, "Is this book/movie something I would enjoy seeing or reading? Is this movie worth ten dollars -- senior citizen cost in New York City -- and two hours (or so) of my time?

 My answer about The Light Between Oceans is a definite yes. There was one moment when I tried to see my watch in the dark, but that was fleeting. It is a thoughtful romance with some of the best movie scenery ever. It stars Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander and I will be surprised if at least one of them, if not both of them, are not nominated for Academy Awards. I read several reviews before writing about the movie. One of them noted that it reminded that writer of the Bette Davis movies of the 1930's. As someone who has watched "Dark Victory" more times than I can count, that is high praise. There are moments in The Light Between Oceans that are heart wrenching, sad, poignant and sweet. Bring tissues, settle in and enjoy.

Since we're discussing literature and movies I'm mentioning the latest post on Coffee Light and Mysteries (Mostly) Noir.   I'm writing about one of my favorite mystery series by C. J. Sansom. The hero is Matthew Shardlake, an attorney during the reign of Henry VIII, and the first book in the series is Dissolution. Mystery fans and Anglophiles, I think you will enjoy this series very much.

I've got relatively modest plans for this weekend, blogging and walking being at the top of the list. I hadn't been paying much attention to the weather, but it looks like New York City is in for some rough weather on Sunday and Monday due to Hurricane Hermine. I've got my flashlights up to date and have a supply of bottled water, too. The miles I hoped to walk may have to be put off for later in the week. I'm praying that Hermine decides it's pleasanter to go out to sea and the East Coast will be spared damage. Florida, Georgia and South Carolina friends, you're in my prayers.

 As ever, thanks for visiting. Take good care and stay safe!

Please note: I was offered the opportunity to see The Light Between Oceans for review purposes. The opinions are all mine.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

I Love New York: Visiting Clayton, NY

The weather has cooled down and I've gotten a burst of energy, especially for blogging. I'm celebrating the Labor Day weekend with a five-day Blogathon. I'm going to blog every day through Monday. Yes, five days in a row. There are several summer adventures I'd like to share before we enter the land of pumpkins and autumn leaves. I'm also going to respond to every comment. I've been remiss in blog visits and this weekend I'm returning to visits throughout BlogWorld.
For most people from New York City just about anywhere north of the Bronx is upstate. But my trip to St. Lawrence County is genuinely upstate. I've had the good fortune to have dear friends who live literally on the St. Lawrence River, which separates the United States and Canada for part of New York and Ontario. My trip this summer included driving from Albany to Ogdensburg. I was reminded how much beauty is in New York and how readily accessible those areas are. No passports, no planes and magnificent scenery. Though I've traveled a lot throughout New York there are still a number of places I'd like to visit again and I'm putting a list together. I'm hoping to do several I Love New York posts in the next year. 
Though I've been to the Thousand Islands area many times this was my first visit to Clayton, NY. Founded in 1833, Clayton's history includes lumber, ship building and mining. With the advent of the railroad in the 1870's tourism was added and it is a beautiful town to visit.  

The Lost Navigator is a local bar and restaurant and I enjoyed the advertising mural.

My visit included a wonderful visit to a local gallery and this painting was displayed outside.
Though it was my first visit to Clayton I hope it won't be may last. I was impressed with all of the activities taking place in town during the summer and took several pictures to keep them in mind. I have the fantasy of returning for a longer visit next summer and participating in the writers' programs. I also envisioned peaceful afternoons sitting in the town park and watching the river.

There is one more post of my visit to the Thousand Islands and at least one more of New York City good times. What are some of your favorite memories of this summer?

This weekend isn't just Blogathon, it's my return to walking as well. I've slacked off on my walking and my goal is to do 10,000 steps every day. I succeeded today and barring torrential rain, I'm optimistic that I can do the same every day. I'll keep you posted.

As ever, thanks for visiting and happy wishes for a wonderful weekend.