Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thankful Thursday

One of my favorite blogs is "What's New at My House."  Ma is always up-beat, faithful and I come away from reading her blog with positive thoughts. How she manages to do this every day is a wonder, but she does and I am very grateful for having found her in Blogland. Her thoughts for today centered on thankfulness and one of the ideas was to thank G-d for twenty things today before I ask for anything.

Here are my twenty -- in no particular order...

1) Ma. Thanks for all the good you send into the world.

2) Emily, my sweet audiologist.

3) My new hearing aid.

4) My kindle and the sweet people who gave it to me, Jess and K.

5) No snow today!

6) My wonderful friends in Blogland

7) Great trip and dear friend who shared it with me...
  8) Barcelona

9) Yankee win on opening day of the season!

10) Iced Coffee

11) My warm apartment

12) Spring flowers

13) My family

14) A note from my nine year-old cousin -- too cute!

15) My congregation

16) "What Not to Wear"

17) Lazy summer days on the St. Lawrence River

18) Next week's baby shower for sweet J in our office

19) Brunch and theater with friends this weekend

20) Almost the weekend!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Confession Is Good for the Soul

My true confession last week about gift card hoarding gave me great comfort in knowing I was not alone in this habit, as well as some good encouragement and advice. So I am here with another confession. It's nothing truly awful -- or what I think of as truly awful -- but something I rarely acknowledge. I am a time waster. There! My awful secret is out in the open.

It started with television evenings and as the years have gone by it's morphed into computer-based time wasting. I don't count crossword puzzles, one of my great enthusiasms as a time waster since I learned it was good for keeping my mind sharp. What a relief that was. But Solitaire went to Farmville and now I have discovered Angry Birds, which may be the greatest time waster ever developed. I downloaded it to my phone because I read so much about it and like so many bad habits I am now a devotee. I even use my precious subway reading time for Angry Birds. For those who are unfamiliar the aim is to fling birds at various structures inhabited by pigs and score points. Simple, but oh so seductive.

I almost blogged about Angry Birds last week and held back thinking my devotion would wane. To the contrary it's gotten stronger. I even think about playing it during the day at work. So far I have not succumbed to sneaking into the restroom with my phone for a few quick games. Please take my advice, do not download this game just to see it, unless you have infinite hours to spend flinging little virtual birds through the sky.

Has anyone else been caught in the snare of this siren or am I all alone? 

Summer Dreams

I'm dreaming of a soft breeze and warm gentle rain with every boot-clad step I take. May your days be sunny and bright and may all your hours sunshine bright! My apologies to Irving Berlin, but I am going winter-nutty. Too many hours in gloves and wool socks make this girl paraphrase "White Christmas..."

I know I've skipped an entire season, but I'm dreaming of...

Sailboats and breezes on the river...

fruits and veggies at the farm stand....

fresh flowers!

What are your summer dreams?

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Remembering Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor has been one of my favorite actresses throughout my life. From a little girl I was taken with movies and I started to read movie magazines -- remember them? -- when I was in the early years of grade school. My mother's attitude was that it was great I was reading and let me spend my allowance on "Modern Screen"' and "Photoplay." Somewhat unusual, but I did become a great reader and a great movie fan, two interests that have stayed with me throughout my life.

I've probably seen 90% of the movies Elizabeth Taylor made -- "Raintree County" to "The Sandpiper," but my all-time favorite remains "Father of the Bride." It is delightful fun and Elizabeth Taylor is a beautiful young woman, perfectly cast to her father in the film, Spencer Tracy. I am sure that I can't count the number of times I've seen this movie and I am always engrossed.

What is your favorite Elizabeth Taylor movie?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is Anyone Else a Gift Card Hoarder?

True Confession...I am a gift card hoarder. I love gift cards and am delighted to get them as gifts. But then I "save" them. I either misplace them or wait so long they no longer have value. No longer!

Starting tomorrow I am going to use up the gift cards that I have -- a massage scheduled for the afternoon and a trip to Banana Republic to buy socks -- and I am going to use any new gift cards as soon as I get them. The massage is compliments of my sweet cousins who gave me a great gift card to a local spa last summer for my birthday and the Banana Republic card is so old I don't even remember who gave it to me.

Does anyone else want to join the ASAP Gift Card Users Club? We promise to use our gift cards ASAP after we get them. No dues, no meetings, just enjoy the gifts! Any new members on this just-about spring weekend?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Neither Snow, Nor Hail...

...Nor sleet, nor thunder and lightning -- the wild weather mix we have had today -- can keep spring out of my home or my heart. Thanks to a dear friend, I am enjoying a burst of spring in my apartment.

I've been away for a few days on a quick, but jam-packed business trip. We packed nine meetings, two flights and about ten thousand calories into not-quite two days and I am glad to be home and catching up on mail, email and blogging. Will definitely be blog visiting over the weekend. Missed you all!

Hope spring is coming for a more permanent visit soon for all of us. Sweet dreams!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Day at the Beach

We had March Madness on Friday with seventy degree weather and fifty degrees yesterday. But this morning I noted it was in the thirties and tomorrow is in the forties. Where did springtime go? I need a day at the beach. Does anyone else?

If we can't get to the beach, I'm bringing the beach to us, with a quick visit to Lanzarote. Lanzarote is one of the Canary Islands, only seventy-nine miles off the coast of Africa. During the cruise this stop was made instead of our visit to Morocco. We had a lovely day in this pretty beach town. We didn't do any formal sight-seeing, but enjoyed walking along the beach.

 We found a wonderful shop -- with the best gelato! -- and had lunch. 

I'm warmed up, before I go out in winter coat and gloves for March in New York.  Hope you enjoyed the sunshine, too. 

The "green" photos were Southern Spain and olive groves. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

March Madness

For most people the words "March Madness" mean only one thing...the NCAA basketball games taking place now. I do like college basketball, so I am following the "Madness." Go UConn!

I witnessed a different form of March Madness at the cafe a block from my building. The sidewalk tables are out and even though it was barely fifty today -- down 20 degrees from the glorious high of seventy+ yesterday -- folks were enjoying being outside. I needed gloves today and that's my line between eating outside and inside. I don't do outside when I have to wear gloves. But any day now I'll be joining these folks eating outside. I can hardly wait!

Hope you're having a sunny and bright weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Glorious Green Earth

In honor of St. Patrick's Day...

Splendid sky and snow-capped mountains

Would anyone like to guess where these pictures were taken? I was struck by how gloriously green the countryside was. 

Hope everyone had a glorious spring day wherever you are!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Wishes and blessings for a joyful St. Patrick's Day!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Inquiring Minds Want to Know...

...The Four Tops or the Temptations? What's your favorite group? Favorite song?

I know this is the upbeat blog, but it's tough these days. I look at the front page of the New York Times and am close to tears with the array of news presented. War, rumors of war, flood, quake and disaster...

So for this night I am going back to the '60s. I know I can't retreat there permanently, but I've been listening to some of my favorite music. I'm not brushing away my concerns and real life needs now, but I think we all can use a few minutes of fun. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Markets of the World...Madeira

Madeira sits as a small, perfect jewel in the Atlantic Ocean, 350 miles north of Africa and 600 miles from Europe. I was enchanted by the view of the ocean, the lush vegetation and the beauty of the island. It is a region of Portugal. Whenever I heard the word "madeira" in the past I had thought of wine, generally featured in a Regency novel.

A street in Funchal, the main city of Madeira

I was delighted to find a supermarket and literally ran inside to take some pictures...

It was bright and well stocked and had most of the products I might find in my grocery on Broadway, even though we were in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. There was also a big book section, clothes and housewares.

I made a find that particularly delighted me. Growing wild throughout the island was this sweet flower...
 ...the Bermuda Buttercup!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Markets of the World...Barcelona

I love to look at markets when I travel. Some are fascinating for the luxury items --Paris -- and some for the exotic and unfamiliar items -- Macao. But all of them give a great picture of how people live throughout the world. In Barcelona we found the Mercat Santa Caterina and had a delightful visit.

Everything looked delicious...

Or very interesting...
I'm not sure that I'm ready for an emu or ostrich omelet. 

I would like to shop for groceries here on a regular basis. I was so enchanted -- actually with all of Barcelona --   that the idea of renting an apartment for a few weeks has become a regular thought. Wouldn't that be fun?

Friday, March 11, 2011

It's Always Breakfast Time Somewhere...Barcelona

This perfect little cafe was the scene of our first breakfast on the trip. We landed in Barcelona, checked into our hotel and as the room wasn't ready -- it was 9:00 am Barcelona time and 3:00 am New York time -- we looked for a bank to get Euros and then coffee. We achieved our mini-checklist and were fortified by big cups of cafe con leche and delicious pastry. A successful and yummy beginning to our trip.

My heart and thoughts have been with those affected by the earthquake in Japan. My friend's husband did a very interesting interview with ABC local news in New York. Jim is a geologist at Columbia and explained the scientific issue very clearly for those of us who aren't scientists. I tried to post the link, but wasn't successful. If you have a minute it's worth checking the ABC Channel 7 website.

Great to be awake and blogging. I'm looking forward to catching up in Blogworld. Have a great weekend!    

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Home, Sweet, Home

I'm still a little jet lagged, but easing into being back in New York. It was a wonderful trip. Sunshine and warm weather -- with one exception -- and relaxation, laughter and good times. Loni and I were terrific traveling companions and did well with the usual little inconveniences of travel. There were two disappointments. We didn't get to our two stops in Morocco and there was almost no time for shopping. The latter is pretty unusual for touring and came as a big surprise. I had a number of gifts I wanted to buy while I was away and it's so much more fun to shop while on a trip than at home fighting the crowds at Macy's or in a mall.

I particularly enjoyed our two days in Barcelona and wished I had at least two more days, if not another week there. We had beautiful sunny weather and liked seeing the architecture and museums very much.

 All of Barcelona, from the steps of the Art Museum 

The area at the Harbor

The Cathedral of Barcelona

These are just a few of the places we visited. I'm glad I got to Barcelona and am eager -- already! -- for a return visit. 

As always, thanks for stopping by and hope it's early spring where you are.   

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Greetings from Beautiful Madeira

We are in the lovely island of Madeira. Sunny and bright and gorgeous flowers. Wish you all could be here.