Tuesday, January 31, 2017

The More of Less

This is a long overdue post. It's actually the post I meant to write the first week of January when I was contemplating the year ahead. Now the year is almost one-twelfth finished, but the thoughts that Joshua Becker shares in The More of Less are certainly no less relevant.

When I was younger, acquiring was so much more attractive. But somehow as the years went by, all the acquiring -- "getting and spending" as Wordsworth described it -- became a burden. Stuff seems to be everywhere and it seems at every turn we're encouraged to get more and more. I've written steadily about my decluttering efforts and though I've made headway, I'm a long way from the less cluttered life I'd like to live.

I found the More of Less a good guide, both in the lessons of Joshua Becker's life and the practical suggestions that are offered. I'm especially enamored by this quote, "the beauty of minimalism isn't what it takes away, but it's in what it gives."  My goal is to live a life that isn't sparse -- I still want books and pictures around me -- but one that gives me time to read, enjoy the out of doors and spend time with people I care about. I'm going to test this out during my vacation. I've made great strides in vacation souvenirs, but my limit is three for this trip, and preferably small and useful.

I'm just about set for my trip. I've got a few last minute trip related things to do and not very much scheduled in the next few days. I'm packing light and will put everything out on Thursday night to make sure I'm not scrambling at the last minute. A light suitcase makes a happy traveler.

We had one of our few snowy days today. It snowed, but it wasn't slippery and I really enjoyed being outside and walking. I'm hoping Friday is clear, so there are no weather delays with my flight.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!

Please note: I was given a review copy of The More of Less by Blogging for Books in exchange for my thoughts. My thoughts are all mine.

Monday, January 30, 2017

When You Wish Upon the South Star

As, I'm sure, those who know a lot more -- or even just a  little more -- about astronomy will tell you, there is no South Star.  But if there was a South Star -- equivalent to Polaris, the North Star -- next week I would be gazing at the night sky and tossing my wishes right to it.

I'm not usually one for selfies, but yesterday at the New York Times Travel Show I took a number of them. I was wishing for one that included penguins and I got my wish. I leave this Friday for Argentina and set sail on Sunday for a cruise that includes penguins and Antarctica. My dream destination for years has been Antarctica and after looking at trips for years and watching for a sale -- it was a quick three day sale -- I'm almost on my way.

I've bought my foot warmers for standing on the deck and taking pictures -- no cold feet for me! -- and have my reservations for my hotel in Buenos Aires the night before the cruise and a penguin expedition in Puerto Madryn, Argentina. I also discovered via Facebook tonight that a lovely couple I met on the cruise I took to Iceland and Norway three years ago will also be on this cruise. Foot warmers, penguins and friends -- can't ask for more.    
Enjoyed meeting my Panda friend. 

The travel show was a lot of fun. I shared the good time with my college roommate and we walked two miles through the Javits Center enjoying the thought of all the places we might travel. A safari was enticing, but I also found fun things in New York and Pennsylvania, which are definitely more doable.

There were exhibits from many countries, and this CoffeeGirl couldn't resist the one for coffee from Indonesia. I'm going to look for coffee from Sumatra during my coffee excursions in New York.

It's hard to believe that I will be leaving for South America in just four days. I've been dreaming of this trip for years and now it's less than a week away. I've got a number of errands yet to do, another yoga class, a medical appointment and a few more blog posts to write. I'm hoping to post while I'm away and share the scenery of Antarctica with Buttercupland.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

I'm a Coin Roller...

...And other quirks of the past. 

In 2012 I wrote a series of posts entitled, "Do You Still..." I wrote about wearing a watch and alarm clocks and other outdated and quirky habits. I was rolling coins this week and it struck me that this qualified for an updated "Do You Still..." post.

I've rolled literally thousands of dollars worth of coins in the last almost fifty years. My coin rolling career began when I was a waitress in college. Most of my income came in coins -- lot of fifty cent tips in 1969 -- and in order to deposit them, they needed to be rolled. I no longer waitress, but I still save change and deposit it in the bank.

I've tried every sort of coin rolling device, short of buying a commercial one that banks use. I long ago decided that simply counting the coins and rolling them was the least complicated and fastest for me. One of the banks had coin counting machines, but alas, they were removed in the last year. I loved the ease, but when they were disconnected I returned to my old-fashioned quirky habit. I don't keep up as well as I did when all I had to do was put my coins in a bag and walk over to the bank, but usually every two weeks I've got a roll or two to deposit. I keep my coins in an old can and when the lid no longer fits I get busy.

I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this quirky habit. Any other coin rollers in Buttercupland?

I'll be back tomorrow for Pink Saturday on Sunday. The high point of the week was getting to the gym three times, which may be a first for me.  Last week, we had some nice weather as well as some cold and rainy weather, so on the rainy days it was great to get exercise indoors.

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and keep cozy!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Cafe Grumpy Pink Saturday

By popular demand, CoffeeGirl, aka Buttercup, is back to writing about coffee. It's been a long hiatus in Buttercupland, though I've kept up in InstagramLand @buttercupnyc. But I wanted to do a little more than one photograph and fifty words, so I've returned with a visit to Cafe Grumpy in Chelsea. I picked a rainy Tuesday for my coffee excursion and it was a great place to while away a dreary late morning in January.

For my reentry to coffee reviews I chose the neighborhood -- Chelsea -- because I hadn't been there in awhile and I knew there were fun coffee places to visit. I googled "best coffee in Chelsea" and the name, Café Grumpy, caught my eye. It was in close proximity to my subway -- important on a rainy and cold day -- and it turned out to be anything but grumpy. It was cheerful enough for  Pink Saturday.

Café Grumpy is actually four independently owned cafes/bakeries and a roaster in Brooklyn and they serve a great cup of coffee. My choice, iced coffee from Colombian beans, is not listed here, but it was excellent. I plan a return visit to try the Kenyan coffee, with its tasting notes of Big Cherry, Black Currant, Clove and Grapefruit. The pastries looked delicious, but as I am still Pastry Abstinent, I only looked and drooled.

Café Grumpy has some of the best packaging of any store I've seen lately and I was captivated -- lots of photographs -- by the coffee bags and the mugs. Since I recently sorted through my vast mug collection, I abstained here, too, but it was a challenge.


As long I was literally just a few blocks away I paid a visit to St. Peter's Church Chelsea. It stands on land donated by Clement Clarke Moore in the 1830s. Clement Moore gave us one of the most notable Christmas poems, "Twas the Night Before Christmas." Hence St. Peter's is also known as the Christmas Church.

As an update to my journey of 1,000 miles I am happy to report I am right on track for January. I've walked 67.1 miles and I'm hoping to complete 85 miles by the end of the month. So far the weather has been very cooperative for walking out of doors and I am most grateful.

As ever, thanks for visiting. Friends in Georgia, prayers for safety from the tornados in the area. Dear friends, keep safe and take care!


Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Journey of 1000 Miles...

Starts with putting on my sneakers!

Have purple sneakers, will walk!

I began 2017 with several goals. The first is walking 1000 miles during the year. For social media purposes I'm calling it The Journey of 1,000 Miles, or in blog shorthand for the future, #1000miles. The premise is pretty simple. I walk an average of 2.8 miles for 365 days -- no days off really -- and I will have walked a thousand miles. Actually, I will have walked 1,022 miles.

In both rain and snow I've been out walking This month I've walked 52.3 miles so far, so I'm right on track for my goal. Some days are daunting and I think this may not work at all. But once I get walking -- and it's not slippery out -- the steps happen pretty easily. I walked a lot in 2016;  846 miles since May when I started tracking -- but I was concerned that I would slack off when it got cold. The #1000miles was a way to reinvigorate my fitness goals for this year.

So far I've done all of my walking in New York City this year, but next month that will change. I'm going to walk in at least one other country and another continent and I'm estimating five or six other states during the year, including one I've never traveled to. I'm two weeks away from my next trip and I'm doing a blog post soon to write about it. The trip will go to warm and cold places, so I'm packing ski mittens and shorts.

It rained today, but I was out to try a new coffee place and walk around the Chelsea neighborhood for my next blog post. Definitely time to get back to coffee tasting again, and it was delicious.

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and keep cozy!


Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Walk in the West Village Pink Saturday

I've had a lot of trouble getting back into "regularly scheduled" blogging in January. December was all holiday/all the time with just a few exceptions and my topics were easy to put together. January has been totally different. I'm almost back to where I was when I first began blogging and would ask myself, "What will I write about?"

I actually asked myself the same question and the answer was easily emerged. I needed a return to the things I regularly write about -- New York City, coffee, books and my life. This week I'm going to post about each of these topics in four different posts. Today for Pink Saturday I decided to start with an adventure in New York City. I put on my sneakers, took my MetroCard (subway and bus pass), buttoned up my coat and picked a subway station to start my afternoon. I ended up in the West Village and just started walking. As long as I was going north -- the direction home -- I knew I would be fine.
When I saw this cute pup in the window the thought that went through my mind..."How much is that doggy in the window?"

I learn something new every time I walk in this fascinating neighborhood. I don't remember seeing this plaque when I walked on Barrow Street before and wasn't aware of the relationship this street has with Tom Paine. Many of the houses date to the early nineteenth century, with interesting architectural details.

Down the block from the plaque we've just seen is this courtyard. It look like an alley between buildings, but it's an interior courtyard. I wish I could have gotten a better angle to show the details. 

A few blocks away I came to Grove Drug and was charmed by the pretty Valentine window.
A few more blocks north I arrived at Jackson Square. It's pretty when it's all in green in the summer and equally pretty in the winter with its snowy accents. It's a favorite place to sit and watch the city go by in better weather.

For a different perspective, here is the same scene in Jackson Square a la Waterlogue. 

I hoped to include a coffee review in this post, but only came upon a few non-chain coffee shops during my walk. I found one I'd like to try and may make a return visit to the neighborhood later this week.

It's been a nice weekend. Yesterday was my synagogue study group -- every second Saturday for the last twenty years -- and today was grocery shopping and my adventure in the West Village. I also have begun using a planner and spent time getting organized for 2017.

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and keep cozy.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Happily, the Weather Outside Isn't Frightful...

And our first giveaway of the season is delightful!

My friends at Fathom Events have given me the opportunity to share a giveaway for tickets for Mickey's Big Celebration. For every Mama and Grandma who has little ones with cabin fever -- and I expect there are quite a few of you in Buttercupland -- just click the link and fill out the form. You may be one of the winners of a pair of passes to this fun, fun event tomorrow morning, a one day release of Mickey and the Roadster Racers.

There is more fun for everyone attending -- giveaways, a five dollar offer to the Disney Store and a free e-book download. I can't think of a better solution to cabin fever than seeing Mickey and the Roadster Racers. A quick click of the link lets you enter for a pair of passes. Thanks, friends at Fathom Events for sharing the fun with all of us at Buttercupland.

The weather here is far from frightful. Yesterday was practically spring and while today isn't quite as warm, it's practically balmy for January. Any day I don't need boots, I'm a happy and thankful woman. I'm off to yoga and then a long walk along Broadway. Not exciting, but so pleasant.

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


Saturday, January 7, 2017

Louis Comfort Tiffany Pink Saturday

Magnolias and Irises, 1908 

Even aging dogs can learn new tricks, or at least I found today I can make discoveries in territory I thought I new well. I spent this snowy Saturday afternoon at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and as I often do, I drifted to the wing that holds American art. I have been to this wing at least a hundred times and thought I knew almost every piece here. I learned I was so wrong. I saw a sign for Shaker Art and followed it and then made turn and then another turn and came to the most astoundingly beautiful assembly of pieces by Louis Comfort Tiffany.   The stained glass window above may be my new all-time favorite, and the piece below is running a close second. 

Black opals, gold and enamel, 1904
This extraordinary piece of grape clusters and grape leaves was one of the 27 pieces of jewelry made for display at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis in 1904. Yes, the "Meet Me in St. Louis" Worlds Fair.


My friend Tiffany wrote about my Pink Saturday posts this morning -- Thanks! -- and I responded to her that I was going to either write about snow -- everyone likes to see New York in the snow -- or whatever caught my fancy at the museum. I decided to do both. The prediction of one to two inches of snow turned into at least four inches and slippery, too. I considered staying in today, but I realized if I start staying in for two inches of snow I'm going to be missing a lot of the next few months. So I got myself into down coat, leggings, boots and gloves and walked very, very carefully outside.  

The landscape looking out from the Metropolitan Museum to Central Park.
In the last few days I put away the last of the holiday things and edited and deleted pictures of 2016. I'm diving in -- once again -- to my annual decluttering and have shredded, shredded and shredded some more. In this paperless age, where does all this paper come from? Seeing the beautiful and simple Shaker pieces at the museum today reinforced my desire to simplify and clear away clutter around me.   
Now it's time to heat up another cup of mint tea and wrap myself in an afghan. There's tea to drink and blogs to read and snow to watch fall over New York City. As ever, thanks for visiting. Take care and keep cozy.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Monday on the Subway with Buttercup

After four billion dollars -- yes, you read that correctly -- and decades of planning and work, the Second Avenue Subway opened for riders on New Year's Day. I didn't make it on January 1, but I did get to see the newest wonder of the New York world yesterday. And a wonder it was. There are four stations and I -- and what seemed like most of New York -- visited two of them.

I entered at Seventy Second Street and descended a very long escalator into the most beautiful landscape. Everything was perfect and new and as of yesterday afternoon, immaculate. It was still a holiday for most working people and the usual crush of commuters wasn't there. Instead it was all tourists, whether we were from New York or from countries thousands of miles away.   

This is the mezzanine level of the station. One hallmark of the new stations are fabulous art work and I felt I was at a gallery and not in the subway. There were lots of people strolling, not unlike the Parisians enjoying their Sunday afternoon of leisure in George Seurat's Sunday in the Park with George. But instead of parasols and summer dresses we wore our winter coats and carried telephones and selfie sticks.

The murals at Seventy Second Street were done by Vik Muniz, a Brazilian artist who works in Rio and New York City. His tile figures,"Perfect Strangers," depict thirty-six New Yorkers, random, diverse and fascinating. I know I will be back with camera to capture them. 

It was a great afternoon to stroll the art museum created by the MTA New York City Transit designers. As a note of disclosure: I spent almost twenty years working for the agency and a colleague/friend coordinated the art work.
The Eighty Sixth Street station featured work by the American artist, Chuck Close. His work features large photo based portraits and the size and scale of the subway station made a perfect setting for his array of New Yorkers. 

I'm still enraptured with the Waterlogue app and I turned a moment on the subway platform into a watercolor painting.

It seems impossible that we are three days into 2017. Wasn't New Year's eve just a blink ago? I'm getting back into my routine. I've been to yoga, run errands and signed up for several programs I've been planning to do. I'm also looking at travel for this year and I'm researching and enjoying learning about places I have in mind. These will all be the subject of blog posts later this month.

Tomorrow I'm back to Weight Watchers. It's going to rough giving up my holiday fun. I didn't go totally off the healthy eating wagon, but there were a lot more cookies in the last few weeks than there had been in the last few months. But those were treats and now it's time for veggies and more veggies, which are all waiting in my refrigerator.

As ever, thanks for traveling the Second Avenue subway with me. Keep cozy and take good care!