Saturday, December 30, 2017

All Aboard for Pink Saturday!

Gracie Mansion, "The Mayor's House" on the Upper East Side of Manhattan
 We're saying so long to the holiday season in New York with a  Pink Saturday visit to the Holiday Train Show at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx. I didn't include this extraordinary wonderland in my list of iconic Christmas places in New York City, but it's only because this was my first visit made after the post was written. The show includes 150 New York landmarks made of bark, leaves and natural materials. I have seen thousands of television advertisements for this exhibit, but finally I got tickets and enjoyed one of most beautiful displays in New York City.  

One of my favorite displays -- difficult to choose a favorite -- was Art Deco New York. I loved entering this room and seeing the Statue of Liberty, perhaps my favorite monument anywhere. Note the train tracks. There are model trains moving throughout the exhibit.

A train passes by Grand Central Station.
  Morris Jumel Mansion, built in 1765 is located in Upper Manhattan and considered New York's oldest house. It's on my list for a visit next year. 

A section of the Coney Island display, another of my favorites. I especially liked
the elephant and the roller coaster.

I am enthralled by this bark and twig depiction of the "Old" Yankee Stadium.

With this post we wrap up Buttercupland for 2017. There were 116 posts. We visited Iceland and Antarctica, Maine and Massachusetts for my wonderful 45th college reunion and zipped all over New York and Connecticut. We read books and we went to museums. We drank coffee and we walked and walked. I am so grateful for everyone who visited, whether it was once or many times. A blog isn't much fun without visitors and Buttercupland has the best. To all of my blog friends, wishes for good health, happiness and all that delights your heart in 2018.

We'll be back on Monday with the word of the year and new year greetings. As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Sometimes It's Just Around the Corner

One of my goals for 2017 was to be a more faithful Instagram poster. My goal was to post every day, and while I didn't achieve it, I came very close. I didn't have a set plan and mixed food, travel and various pictures of New York City. I just posted pictures I enjoyed.

This morning Facebook started to show groups of pictures from Instagram with the hashtag #2017bestnine. I couldn't resist letting the app go through my Instagram pictures to locate the nine pictures with the most "likes." I was shocked by the results. I expected the most "glamorous" lights and dazzle pictures of New York City to comprise the top nine. The top picture (top left) was taken at Grand Central Station when I was waiting to buy a cup of coffee.  The only Christmas picture that made the top nine was a lovely, but very simple picture of a doorway in Brooklyn Heights. The sunflowers were taken at one of the local farmer's markets and the autumn leaves were photographed literally a block up the street. There are two museum pictures and there is one "travel" picture taken in Iceland and spectacular. But there are also photographs taken on my walk home from the supermarket and the drugstore.

I learned a great lesson today. It's not a new one, but one worth learning again and again. Some of my best moments, not unlike my most liked pictures, take place just around the corner. I do travel far and wide (and hope to keep traveling far and wide), but there are great times right here at home. Here's to museums and sunflowers and autumn leaves!

I'm going to continue my Instagram posts in 2018 and my goal will once again plan to post every day. If you're an Instagram user, please click the link and join me in 2018.   

On a very different note I can't end this post without noting the loss of one of my favorite authors, Sue Grafton, who passed away yesterday. Her alphabet mysteries, featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone, were among my favorite books for the last thirty five years. Sue Grafton, you and Kinsey will be sorely missed.

It's still chilly (a definite understatement) here, but happily I'm cozy in my apartment. I'm feeling more energetic, and coughing less, but still not my usual self. Because it's so cold, I have no interest in going more than a block or two from home.

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

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

There's No Shopping Like Window Shopping -- A Visit to Cartier

The jeweler, Cartier, dressed up in holiday finery, including
 the symbol of the house, the panther, all aglow. 
One of my favorite pastimes is window shopping. I love to see the displays especially at this time of year. Whether it's just browsing the neighborhood drugstore -- where I'm looking to see what's on sale -- or enjoying the elegance of the windows on Fifth Avenue and knowing that almost everything I see is just for looking.  

Today's window shopping took me to Fifth Avenue. It was a cold, cold day and I didn't do half as much as I hoped to, but I had a great time at the Maison Cartier.  It was definitely a just for looking day, but I so enjoyed the beautiful and very clever displays. I love to look at jewelry, but I wear very little -- watch and earrings mostly -- so I had no temptation to go into the store and see what the treasures in the window cost.  


I'm feeling significantly better, but the virus/cold I had last week -- maybe even a light case of the flu -- knocked the wind out of me. I had a long list of places to visit this season, but Cartier may be the last one I get to. I had tentatively scheduled a visit to the Metropolitan Museum to see the Christmas tree tomorrow. But I met one of my neighbors in our lobby tonight who related her experience today waiting 40 minutes just to get inside the museum. Since the high temperature is expected to be nineteen without the wind chill I am taking this excursion off my list and staying closer to home. I think it's a day to catch up on my New Yorker magazines, drink tea, make applesauce and blog. What are your plans for these chilly days?

As ever, thanks for visiting. Bundle up, keep warm and take good care!


Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve Will Find Me...

A semi-selfie from the sidewalks of New York
This Christmas Eve finds me in my neighborhood enjoying the holiday decorations. Very soon I'll be leaving to share Christmas Eve and day with friends who are family. There will be a beautiful tree, presents underneath the tree and good food. But the best part of the days will be the people around the tree. There will be laughter and fun and maybe, we'll get to watch snowflakes fall for another sweet holiday spent together. 
My wish for my dear Buttercupland friends is laughter and fun and those dear to you to share the celebration. May Christmas Eve and Christmas Day find you where the lovelight gleams.  Merry, merry Christmas wishes!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present

The Frick Collection at Christmas, 2013
This was one of my favorite posts of all-time. I thought I'd written it last year, but actually it's from 2013. It's been on mind and since I am sick again -- cough, cough. cough -- I'm not running around very much and taking new pictures to post. For those who weren't friends of Buttercupland in 2013 it's a new post and for everyone else, I hope I'm not repetitive.

The post is about my feelings about the Christmas song, The Little Drummer Boy. I came to really enjoy it in 2013 and the words "I have no gifts to bring..." stood out in my mind. This year the phrase "I am a poor boy..." caught my ear. In the last year I've heard many people I know say that they have nothing to give, that they are poor, old, tired or sad, as if the only gift to give needs to be shiny or expensive or brightly wrapped. The best gifts this year were gifts of friendship, smiles, support and kindness, most of which cost very little, but meant a great deal. Dear Citizens of Buttercupland, thank you for your gifts this year. I've valued every comment, Facebook like and follow. Some might say these are all virtual, but I've had the good fortune to meet a number of my blog buddies and what gifts they are. Those I haven't met I accept the good wishes, kindness and concern demonstrated in comments. Thank you, all.

As ever, thanks for visiting and thanks for being part of Buttercupland.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Pink Saturday Gets a Visit from Saint Nicholas

St. Peter's Church in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan

I started to write this post with the words, "I've spent the better part of an hour trying to load pictures..." But in the interest of accuracy I will say I've spent the most frustrating part of an hour trying to load pictures of the New York Botanical Garden's Holiday Train Show and not one would load. I promise to spend as much time as it takes to load the pictures for another post, because the Train Show may be one of my new most favorite sights in New York City at this time of year.

Luckily, there are pictures freshly taken this afternoon and easily transferred from my phone. I happened to be in the Chelsea neighborhood this afternoon and I walked over to the Christmas Church, St. Peter's.   It was founded in 1831 on land given by Clement Clarke Moore, taken from his estate "Chelsea." It is still very much a functioning congregation and it was beautifully decorated for the season.
After days of gray skies and snow I enjoyed today's bright weather.

This isn't the best photograph, but I took it from a flyer for an event on the church outside bulletin board and it's the Buttercupland tribute to perhaps the most beloved American Christmas poem, by none other than the founder of St. Peter's, Clement Clarke Moore. Unfortunately the reading was last week, but I'm going to make a note to be on the lookout for this event in 2018.

This isn't the post I intended, but like so many things in our lives, it turned out to be just the right post for  Pink Saturday and the nights before Christmas, with a happy pink-cheeked Santa. I hope you think so, too.

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take good care and good wishes for week ahead.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lies Jane Austen Told Me

Calling All Jane Austen fans

I thought I would be really calm this month. I didn't schedule a lot to do and had almost all of my shopping done by the end of November. But despite all of my pre-planning, somehow the usual holiday season anxiety took hold. Maybe it was too much coffee or too many things on my to-do list, but I was not the calm and carefree woman I had so hoped to be.

But thankfully there is reading and fun romance books to read. Thanks to my friends at Shadow Mountain Publishing I had the pleasure of reading Lies Jane Austen Told Me. It took my mind off my infinite list of errands and it a terrific and fun read.

I am a Jane Austen fan and I've read a good number of the books that use Pride and Prejudice/Emma/Sense and Sensibility as their bases. Lies Jane Austen Told Me does the genre proud. Julie Wright has created a perfect Austen heroine with Los Angeles marketing executive Emma Pierce. She's read every word of Jane Austen, but hasn't found her Mr. Darcy. After discovering her boyfriend with another woman -- not too spicy, dear readers -- she decides to focus on her career and meets her now ex-boyfriend's brother, Lucas. As another British author wrote, "The course of true love never did run smooth," but in Lies Jane Austen Told Me, you will enjoy following its course.

If you're still searching for a gift for a friend who enjoys reading or a book to settle in with on a cold winter day, I highly recommend Lies Jane Austen Told Me.

It's been fun visiting with all of you and chatting about books. I'm going to make a cup of tea -- perhaps peppermint, my new winter favorite -- and devote myself to card writing.

Take good care, dear friends. As ever, thanks for visiting and have a sweet Sunday.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

No Matter How You Spell It...

Happy Hannukkah/Chanukah!

The not-so traditional sufganiyot -- doughnuts -- from my favorite Breads Bakery.
On Tuesday, December 12 -- the 25th of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar - Chanukah began. Chanukah means dedication and this festive holiday commemorates the victory of the Maccabees over Syria. The Temple in Jerusalem was rededicated and there was only enough oil to light the menorah for one day. Miraculously the oil burned for eight days.
There are two traditional foods for Chanukah and both involve oil. One is sufganiyot -- traditionally powdered jelly doughnuts -- but my favorite bakery put a modern spin on their holiday treats and the chocolate sufganiyot is filled with nutella. It was unexpected, but delicious.

The first night of Chanukah
On the first night of Chanukah one candle is lit and on each successive night an additional candle is added. On the last night all eight candles are lit. The candle in the center of the menorah, in a less conventional design, is called the "shammas" or helper candle. It is lit first and is used to light the other candles. On the left is the second traditional food, Latkes, potato pancakes. These were thin, crispy, delicious and worth every calorie.   
It's been a lovely time of celebration -- friends, food, prayer and the traditional songs of Chanukah.
So grateful for this festival that is a celebration of light. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and wishing you joy, light and miracles.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Yesterday was Snowman Sunday...

...And the snow collection had a great time singing and celebrating the season.

Today is Monkey Monday and Pep and friends, all dressed in their holiday best, claimed the new recliner for their holiday festivities. 
Tomorrow is Teddy Tuesday and (from left to right) Snowflake, Miss Fluffy and Paws
are dressed for fun and good times.
There's lots of holiday celebration for Pep and all of his friends. Though despite what I thought was careful planning this year, I am running way behind in getting errands done. I've got almost all of my planned cards to do and lots of wrapping. I'm still optimistic that I will get everything done, but I realized that Christmas is only two weeks away and Chanukah begins tomorrow.
Pep and all of his pals join me in wishes for fun and festivity and sweet dreams!
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a terrific Tuesday. 


Sunday, December 10, 2017

My Vote for the Most Iconic Christmas Experience in New York City

The winner is: Rockefeller Center
I've got a list of must do experiences for December in New York City. I love the department store windows on Fifth Avenue, the decorations at Macy's and the Christmas tree and crèche at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I rarely miss a visit to Saint Patrick's Cathedral and a stroll along Madison Avenue to see the store windows. Holiday must-do entertainment is a visit to Radio City to see the Rockettes and the holiday show and the New York City Ballet perform the Nutcracker. To round off the list is a visit to one of the holiday markets -- Union Square is my favorite -- and a trip to Brooklyn to see the fabulously decorated houses in Dyker Heights and Bay Ridge. But at the very top of my list is a trip to Rockefeller Center to see the Christmas tree and the ice skating.
The view from dinner -- dazzling and magical 
I've visited Rockefeller Center every year since I moved to New York City in 1975. I enjoy it every year and thought it couldn't get better. But my visit this year was better. In fact, it was magical. Last Thursday I was searching for a restaurant for dinner on Friday. I had a tried and true where I often went with my work colleagues when we got together. But I wanted to see if there was somewhere we hadn't gone before. I came across the Rock Center Café in Rockefeller Center. Amazingly, on a Friday night before Christmas, there was availability for six people at six o'clock. I quickly looked at the menu and booked the reservation before the opportunity was lost.

I'm wary of "tourist" restaurants, not just in New York City, but anywhere I travel. Generally -- and I am generalizing -- the food is unremarkable and the space is crowded. The Rock Center Café had the magnificent view of the Rockefeller Center skating rink, the food was good and the service, from our waitperson to the people who greeted us, was terrific.     

After dinner we joined, what seemed like, thousands of people who had come to see this year's tree. 

I've seen this scene more times than I can count, but each year it grows more special and this year it became magical. I wouldn't have expected magic after all of these years, but that's the joy of magic. It finds you when you least expect it. It found me this year at Rockefeller Center and that's why it has my vote for the most iconic Christmas Experience in New York City.     
What's your magical Christmas moment, past or present? 

Thanks for joining me for this wonderful experience. Wishing you many moments of joy and magic.  

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Pink Saturday Goes Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Broadway and West 73rd Street, Manhattan
 I was walking along Broadway after study group this afternoon with my friend, Nora. It was twilight and I looked to the right and saw this tiny park brightly lit and glowing. I asked if we could stop for a minute so I could take a picture. She replied yes, and added "I expect I'll see this in your blog." I told her I hadn't thought of using it, but since she asked for it, I would. As I continued home, I thought, "Why not?" I've been focused on capturing the iconic Christmas scenes in New York and was overlooking the beauty close at hand. So, tonight we take a Pink Saturday in my New York neighborhood.    

When I got home tonight it had gone from twilight to evening and the snow covered the street divider on Broadway. It set off the white lights that decorate the trees and made for a very local winter wonderland.

I took this picture on Friday at West 86th Street and Broadway, just a few blocks from the photograph above. I've probably walked by this store a dozen times in the last few weeks, but didn't notice the goodies in the window. But as I waited for the traffic light to change the t-shirt in the center caught my eye, "I'm only a morning person on December 25th." It's definitely true for me. Is this the case for my friends in Buttercupland?

"But the prettiest sight you'll see is the holly that will be
On your own front door."

When I started to write this post this phrase from "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" kept going through my mind. So I close this post with a photograph of holly from the grocery a few blocks from my house. It's not quite my own front door, but it's in a corner of my heart and world.

Tomorrow we return to the iconic sights of New York City with perhaps the most iconic. Any guesses?

As ever, thanks for visiting and have a weekend filled with blessings at your own front door.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

It's Time for the Buttercupland Fair

When I started blogging in 2009 I quickly discovered that my newly found blog buddies were wildly talented. In addition to writers there were candle makers, jewelry makers and soap makers. There were artists and authors of books. If I took a poll I'm sure I'd find expertise far beyond this list.

I'm a big fan of local. My favorite coffee place has just a few spots and they're in Manhattan. My favorite apples come from orchards in New York state and I've found some of my favorite gifts come from my friends in Buttercupland. In order to showcase "local" shopping ideas I enjoy featuring the talented citizens that I've met in Blogland.

We're changing the Fair just a bit and dropping by what may be the cutest store on the Eastern seaboard, Pebbles and Lace in Strasburg, Pa. It's run by three generations of talented and charming women, including my dear blogger buddy,  Becky at Hospitality Lane. I've written about Becky's fabulous soy candles in the past -- a link is included in her blog page -- but since she, her mother and daughter opened Pebbles and Lace in 2017 I'm featuring her store this year. Alas, I haven't had a chance to visit, but I've followed the Facebook page from the first day of business. It's lucky for my pocketbook that I'm not closer, but I would love to be able to visit and to shop there. It's a wonderful mix of the whimsical and the practical and I adore just about everything in the store. 
 Could the Pebbles and Lace Christmas array be any cuter!
I'm also featuring one of my favorite books, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, which includes writing by my talented blog buddy, Terra of Terra Garden. This is a wonderful book to give to a friend or give to yourself. In a season when the world seems to be spinning too fast with too much to do, this book is a great guide to how to find calm and joy in this time of year.

I hope you've enjoyed your visit to the Buttercupland Fair. We'll be back again for more gifts to give and to keep by talented citizens of Buttercupland.

Today was chilly, but bright, and I zipped around doing errands. We may get a little snow tomorrow and I hope it's just enough to be pretty and festive, but not slippery.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!



Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

Yesterday I wrote that today's post would be about a mystery novel. But the term mystery novel doesn't do justice for Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan. When I was reading about this fast paced title I noticed the description of "legal, romantic suspense," and that sums up the book much better than the generic of mystery novel.

Deadly Proof features attorney Kate Sullivan who serves as the lead counsel in a major case involving corporate cover-up. Romance enters with Landon James, retired Army Ranger, who is hired for an investigation after the death of a whistle blower. The issues at stake are topical, thoughtful and could be taken from the front page of any newspaper. The plot and characters held my interest and I am pleased that Deadly Proof is the start of a new series. Eager to get to become better acquainted Kate and Landon in the future. Many thanks to Litfuse Agency for the opportunity to become familiar with Rachel Dylan's work.

Tomorrow we begin our first day of the Buttercup Fair, featuring fun gifts from two of my favorite bloggers. Please stop by for gift inspiration.

As ever, thanks for stopping by and have a terrific Thursday.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Christy by Catherine Marshall

Sometime in the 1960's I watched the movie "A Man Called Peter." It was based on the story of Catherine and Peter Marshall, the beloved Scottish minister. It was both inspirational and a deeply touching love story. I wept buckets watching this beautiful couple and the sorrow of Dr. Marshall's early death. Years later I was working in the Cokesbury Book Store in Nashville. One of my responsibility's was books about religion, both text books and more popular books. One of our best selling authors was Catherine Marshall, who wrote very popular inspirational books. I was delighted to find Catherine Marshall again and read many of the thirty books she wrote. A number of them are still on my bookshelf, underlined and filled with notes.

For some reason I cannot comprehend I didn't read Catherine Marshall's best known book, Christy. It was a best seller when it was published fifty years ago and it later became a successful television show. In honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Christy my good friends at Litfuse Group gave me the opportunity to enjoy this beautifully told and highly engaging story.

Christy is based on Catherine Marshall's mother's experience of teaching in Appalachia in the early years of the last century. She taught the children of the fictional town of Cutter Gap, Tennessee. The impoverished Cutter Gap is very distant from Christy's comfortable life in Asheville and her faith is challenged throughout the difficulties of her experience there. There is romance, there is history and there is a well-plotted novel that will hold your interest.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to make up for what I missed fifty years ago. My great thanks to Litfuse for filling a gap in my reading and bringing Catherine Marshall and her spirit and writing back to my life. Christy would make a perfect gift for the person on your shopping list who enjoys fiction.

I'm back tomorrow with another book discussion. I hope you'll join me for a very different, but engaging modern mystery.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Pink Saturday Goes to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

Before the Elf is on the Shelf

For the last twenty five years I've wanted to see the balloons in the parade before and while they're being inflated. I live less than a mile away, but in the past work, cooking, cold and snow or simply inertia have kept me away. I decided that this year would be different. I had done my cooking, I don't work anymore and though cold, it was clear. I stopped by on Wednesday night and the balloons were "closed" for security concerns. But Thanksgiving morning I was up and out after 7:00 a.m. and finally I was able to see the balloons before the parade began. 

One of my reasons for making this balloon excursion was to take photographs to use in a blog post. I did a post with one picture on Thanksgiving Day and then the novelty of the Christmas decorations pushed Thanksgiving out of my mind. When I saw the poster below in a subway station this week, I realized I'd was time to do my Macy's Parade post and what better time than Pink Saturday!


The balloon lineup on West 77th Street, shown with their handlers. Each balloon has a group of "handlers," who are trained to keep the balloons from going astray.  


Besides the handlers, there are hundreds of clowns -- not a bit scary -- who walk alongside the balloons and add to the fun. The Half-Baked Holiday Clowns graciously posed for the camera. There were many cute costumes, but this group was my favorite.

It's another clear night in New York City. After this post is completed I'm off to visit one of my favorite holiday sights. I'll leave the destination for a surprise, but I definitely need pictures at night.

Thanks for all of the get well wishes. My cold is better and there's only a cough or two now and then. I think/hope I will be ready for the gym on Monday.

Please be sure to stop by and visit Pink Saturday. It's always a fun visit and this week one of my photographs is being featured. Thanks, Beverly!

As ever, thanks for visiting and have a great rest of the weekend.