Saturday, June 28, 2014

Greetings from Reykjavik

Enjoying my visit to Iceland very much. We've gotten two warm and mostly sunny days and it's great sight-seeing weather. Yesterday we explored geysers and the lava fields and today I'm in Reykjavik, a charming city.

Back to the ship soon and then we leave for Shetland. After that I'll be seeing the fjords of Norway.

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

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Down to the Sea in Ships

I'm looking out the window on the ship watching water and waves. The sea blissfully is calm and I am enjoying the trip immensely.

There is one little hitch. Somehow the password on my iPad is stuck and my iPad has been declared disabled. This makes blogging from the ship with photos undoable. I may be able to blog from my phone when we're in port, but I'm not sure how available wi-fi will be. I've been so enjoying keeping in touch and keeping a record of the trip. It's not to be.

I had also downloaded a number of books and was looking forward to catching up on my reading. I can read on my phone, but I've also quickly reverted to the more old-fashioned method and am reading a novel about Margaret Tudor by Jean Plaidy, "The Thistle and the Rose." I've also picked up a mystery in the library by Elly Griffiths, which looks very good, too.

Two or three years ago this wouldn't have been an issue, but now I am disappointed. But the sea is calm, the sky is a bright blue and I'm off to some of the best scenery in the world. I promise to share it all with you when I'm home.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.    

Monday, June 23, 2014

England's Green and Gentle Land

I spent a wonderful perfect June day yesterday seeing sights outside of London. It is a whirlwind day, but I got to quickly visit two places I've wanted to see. The bonus was seeing the beautiful English countryside. My only disappointment was not having time to see my English blog friends. Next trip!

We whirled through Bath -- barely time to see the baths and eat wonderful local ice cream. I wish I could take home the ginger and honey flavor.

Stonehenge was as interesting as I'd dreamed. Seeing the stones loom on the plain was a long time travel goal and one that met my anticipation of decades.

The first photo is Stonehenge. The second picture was taken outside the baths in Bath. I had visions of the Bennett girls on their way to a party. 

We are off to sea today. On to Shetland.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Oh to Be in England Foodie Friday

I had the easiest set of flights I've had in years and arrived right on time in London. Aer Lingus -- the Irish airline -- did very well. It was almost like flying in days gone by. There was a snack, dinner and a nice choice of movies and television shows. I started with "Game of Thrones, " which I'd never watched and lasted about three minutes. I switched to "House of Cards" and watched five episodes in a row, which made the flight go by very quickly. I'm actually looking forward to the flight home from Dublin when I will watch five more episodes. "House of Cards" looks at a fictional congressman and is equally completely absorbing and a completely depressing. 

My room won't be ready for another while and I'm down the street from the hotel at Caffe Nero, a very pleasant coffee house, enjoying iced coffee, a croissant and free Wi-Fi. It's a very pleasant 74 degrees, not a whit of humidity, and I'm enjoying the moment immensely. 

I hope you're enjoying the moments of today, too. As always thanks for visiting and have a fabulous Friday.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Next Stop, Dublin

I'm at JFK Airport. I'm checked in and I've gone through security. I've even had a snack. But I've got another hour or so to boarding. I'm going to have plenty of time to read on the flight. So what does a blogger do? Blog!

I have to admit I was a little anxious this morning. I'm flying by myself and I change planes in Dublin. I've done a lot of planning, but I also know all the things that can go awry. So here's a prayer for safe flights and my luggage meeting me in London.

I'm hoping to blog often and share my adventures. Next stop is Dublin, tomorrow morning. Thanks for traveling with me.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

We'll Take Manhattan...

..and Staten Island, too! 

Manhattan Island, seen from the Staten Island Ferry

About a month my blog buddy, Becky, who writes the wonderful blog "Hospitality Lane," asked if I would join her family for some sightseeing in New York City. Their friend Johnny was visiting from Denmark and he wanted to see New York. There was no way I could turn this down. I first met Becky at a blogger get-together four years ago and so enjoyed her warmth and great personality. I had no doubt that I would enjoy the rest of the group just as much. 

All smiles on the Staten Island Ferry.

We had a wonderful day. Becky describes it in detail on her blog, and I can only concur with everything she wrote. The day was just right and the humidity that descended on Tuesday wasn't there on Monday. The subway trains weren't crowded -- highly unusual -- and we got seats every time we rode, even at rush hour. 

We saw the World Trade Center site, stopped for a photo at the "Bull," symbol of Wall Street, and rode the ferry to Staten Island and back again. It was a perfect day to be on the water and see my favorite sights, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. 

"I lift my lamp beside the golden shore..."

We then took the subway uptown to see Central Park, Johnny's specific request and there the cutest couple on either side of the Atlantic posed for pictures. 

Picture Perfect!

We stopped for a treat at Grom, my favorite spot for gelato. I went with lemon sorbet, but was very tempted by my usual favorite, tiramisu. 

I learned a good lesson on Monday. Less is more, much more! We should have stopped after our gelato treat, but I had forgotten that it's not possible to see all of Manhattan in one day. We came pretty close to it, and I was one tired tour guide by the end of the day. I will remember this on my vacation -- tomorrow -- and not try to see all of any given place in one day.  

That said, it was a wonderful day. I love sharing New York with friends and love spending time with my blog buddies and our day together was the best. Becky, Warren, Johnny and Chelsea, thanks so much for coming to visit. I'm already thinking of our next day. We'll start with Rockefeller Center... 

I've spent the last few days doing pre-vacation errands and with the exception of some paperwork, I'm just about done. I've printed everything out, sorted out socks and toiletries and it's almost time. 

As always, thanks for visiting and take good care. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Giveaways, Giveaways, Giveaways!

I feel kind of like Santa Claus tonight -- if Santa was a woman in blue jeans, without a beard, and happily there is no snow around us. But I do have two winners for the tote bag giveaway and a new winner for "4 Ingredients Chocolate, Cakes & Cute Things." Unfortunately the original winner for "4 Ingredients" didn't contact me. I went back to the very scientific picking a name out of a dish method and the new winner is blogger buddy, Pondside. Yay, Pondside! I strongly suggest paying her a visit. Her latest post about the state of her neck -- probably all of our necks -- is one of the funniest posts I've read in quite awhile.  

I was going through my massive tote bag collection and realized I had two cute, cute green tote bags and since I find it hard to only give one giveaway prize, there are two winners. One is Peggy, who blogs at A Primitive Plot. Please stop by and visit Peggy for fun posts on gardens and grandchildren. The other winner is my Facebook buddy, Elaine. We met in January when we started to chat in line at the Katie Couric show. Elaine is a honey and I'm so glad we've kept in touch. Happy reading and toting, Peggy and Elaine.

Sometimes Santa gets more than milk and cookies and I'm happy to share that I won a giveaway from my blog buddy, Shoshanah at "From L.A. to LA." The giveaway is a thriller -- one of my favorite genres -- "When Camels Fly." I really enjoy visiting Shoshanah's blog and especially like her book reviews. Thanks so much!

I did get to Macy's today, but I didn't find a dress. I did find a nice black sweater and a fun pink and black top that I think will get a lot of use. I tried on a few dresses, but nothing looked great and I hate to spend money -- even with great sales -- for something I may only use a few times. I almost made a financially disastrous stop at the shoe department, but luckily remembered buying new shoes before a vacation could be an orthopedic nightmare.

A relatively quiet corner of Macy's. I didn't even have to wait in line for the dressing room.

I've got a bid day tomorrow. One of the sweetest citizens of Buttercupland and her family is visiting New York City and I'm the official tour guide. I can't wait to show them around and I'm wishing and hoping for good weather. 

I hope you all had a great Father's Day and have a wonderful week. As always, thanks for visiting and take good care. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Happy Father's Day Pink Saturday

We're celebrating Father's Day on Pink Saturday and we've got lots of treats. 

This is one of my favorite pictures of my father and me. It was taken sometime around my first Father's Day in 1951. 

Happy Father's Day, Daddy. You are loved and remembered. 

But we need a sweet treat for Father's Day celebrations and I discovered this patisserie during my travels around New York City. What a delicious pretty-in-pink goodies at Payard. I resisted stopping in, but I know I won't be able to resist for long. There's a branch not too far from where I live and I have a feeling I will be dropping in soon. 

What a beautiful selection of treats.

I was also intrigued by the ice cream sandwiches. The cake is actually the beautiful macarons. 
A sort-of-selfie at Payard 

I am keeping the flash totebag giveaway open one more day. If you'd like a chance, just leave a comment about what you are currently reading -- commenting on this post is a-okay --  and be a citizen of Buttercupland. 

As always, thanks for stopping by. Wishes to all for a great Father's Day celebration. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Ooh La La! Time for "Say It With Words"

It's not often -- if ever -- that I get to correspond with one of my favorite artists. I've got a number of favorite artists, many of whom go back centuries. I will never meet Giotto or Renoir. I can only enjoy their work and read about their lives. But it's different with Marie Rayner, another favorite artist. I can not only enjoy her work, I can read her blog, "The English Kitchen," enjoy her Facebook page and live with her art.

One of my favorite works by Marie.  

I was delighted to discover that Ooh La La Creations has put together a CD Rom of Marie's artwork called "Say It With Words" for all of us who enjoy crafts. There are over 700 sheets to print out to create our own Marie inspired cards, envelopes, boxes and even a calendar. Ooh La La is a British website, but with an order of approximately eleven dollars they will ship for free all over the world. I've never tried using a craft CD, but this really looks like a great way to create fabulous cards and gift tags. There were a number of other fun craft ideas on the Ooh La La site, but for now my heart, printer, scissor and glue stick are with Marie.    

I have BlogWorld to thank for my friendship with Marie. From a comment on one blog to a comment on another blog to Facebook to friendship. It's amazing how blogging works and the wonderful connections that are made all over the world. 

I'm gradually checking off my pre-vacation list. I think of myself as relatively organized, but there seem to be so many almost last minute errands. Of course some things couldn't be done too far ahead, but there are lots of things to finish up. Tomorrow I return my not-overdue library books and have a mini-reunion lunch with work friends. I am also planning to look for a dressy outfit for the two dress up nights on the ship. I'm thinking of going for something long and summery and Macy's just may have put most of their summer things on sale. Even if I don't find anything I think it will be fun to look. 

Please stop by tomorrow for a sweet Foodie Friday. I think you'll enjoy it. 

As ever thanks for visiting. Take good care and happy reading. 

Wedding Wednesday and a Giveaway

One of the most popular posts in Buttercupland during the April A to Z Blog Challenge was this post featuring a very happy bride and groom. I decided to be on the lookout for other bridal moments that I could share. The weeks went by and no brides and grooms. But a few weeks ago I was passing the LDS (Mormon) Temple across the street from Lincoln Center and saw this happy couple. Since June is the month of weddings I am delighted to begin Wedding Wednesday in June. Here's to many more Wedding Wednesdays and a toast to the brides and grooms of June, 2014.

 I especially liked that the bride's shoes and the groom's tie matched. Her shoes make a very pretty "something blue."

On to a "flash" -- quick, quick, quick -- giveaway. I was very taken with the saying on this great tote bag. 

  "Never Trust Anyone Who Has Not Brought a Book With Them."
Lemony Snicket

Knowing that there are lots of readers in Buttercupland I wanted to be able to share the saying and the tote. The kind people at Turtleback Books provided a totebag for a giveaway. Just leave a comment with the name of the book you're currently reading and be a friend of Buttercupland via Google+, Bloglovin' or Google Friend. Easy Peasy! This is a flash giveaway, for only forty-eight hours. I will choose one reader and announce it on Saturday's post. And for the decor minded, the background for the tote is my living room couch. I'm a big fan of pink and green.  

I had a fun and busy day today. Haircut, lunch with a work buddy and a slew of errands. I leave for vacation next Thursday and there are lots of things I'd like to get done before the trip. I will be away for two weeks plus a few days -- just about the longest vacation I've ever taken. I've got lists and more lists, and I'm happy that I'm checking items off. 

As always, thanks for stopping by. Take good care and happy reading.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

All My Belongings

One of my great treats is finding a new author whose work I enjoy. I'm happy to say I added Cynthia Ruchti to the list of writers I want to keep reading. Thanks to my friends at Abingdon Press and Litfuse Publicity Group I have some happy reading coming up this summer. I will definitely be adding at least one more of her books to my list of books that I've read and I am sure I will enjoy it, too.

I love my mysteries, but I also like a good, solid novel with engaging characters. I found it in "All My Belongings." I was completely engaged on a number of subway rides and ran the great subway reader risk of missing my stop. This is the story of Jayne Dennegee who leaves a painful family situation, the town she grew up in and even her name to look for new horizons in California as Becca Morrow. There is a good story, romance, and there is some mystery, too. There is also a strong faith component and it winds through the plot and the characters without being overdone.

This is a difficult book to write about because I don't want to spoil any of the turns in the plot. But it kept me reading and I am happy I have another book by Cynthia Ruchti right behind this one.

Whether you're reading this summer, with a tall glass of iced tea at your side or next winter with a cup of cocoa, "All My Belongings" is a very enjoyable book.

I'm not sure where the weekend or the weekdays go. My projects seem to have taken on a life of their own and even with a new to-do list every morning I'm not getting all the things I hope to do accomplished. I did start yesterday morning at my neurosurgeon for a two-year checkup. For newer readers I had a spinal cord tumor removed in June 2012. This was my first visit back to my surgeon since my follow-up ten days after surgery. The appointment went well and I will have my next follow-up MRI in June 2015. Hurray! I feel very fortunate and I am so thankful.

Please stop by and visit tomorrow. I will have a very quick BookExpo America tote bag giveaway.

As always thanks for visiting. Take good care and happy reading.

Please note: I was given a copy of "All My Belongings" for review purposes, but the opinions I've shared here are all mine.  

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Street Fair Pink Saturday

Yesterday was a somber day in Buttercupland, but today we're going to have some Pink Saturday fun. One of the spring and summer fun activities in New York is going to street fairs. There are things to buy, all kinds of fun and caloric foods -- I gain weight just looking -- and entertainment. A few weeks ago I went to my first street fair of this season. I stepped out to do a few errands, walked just a block from my house and found myself in street fair country. I did allow myself one of the treats, but my focus was on all things fun and pink.

There were lots of scarves for sale, but the pink ones caught my eye. 

There were trays of costume jewelry....

...more jewelry, and something that was new to me, toe thongs. 

The one food treat I did indulge in was for one of my all-time favorite desserts, the cannoli. with its sweet and delicious ricotta filling. I find these pastries so hard to resist, and this time I didn't resist.

These were outstanding, and definitely worth a trip to Brooklyn. Fortunato Brothers, thank you for fabulous cannoli. 

It's a beautiful not-quite summer day today. I'm looking forward to spending the afternoon at a barbecue with friends in Westchester. There's lots of catching up to do, and I know it will be a great afternoon. I hope you've got a fun day planned, too. 

As always, thanks for visiting. Take good care and have a pretty-in-pink Saturday.   

Friday, June 6, 2014

June 6, 2014

Today is the seventieth anniversary of D-Day, the day the Allied Forces landed in Normandy. I've long been fascinated by this time in history. Maybe it was my father's stories of his Army service or perhaps it was seeing the movie, "The Longest Day" in 1962.

I remember my father talking often about being in the Army and being in Europe during the war. But except for one set of photos of Luxembourg -- one of them is in the Upper Left in the photograph above -- there are few other physical reminders of his service. I have six medals and before last night I'd never looked at them very carefully. The one on the right is for active service in Europe, North Africa or the Middle East. I learned in my research that the small star in the ribbon and in the bar denotes service in a battle.

My memory is that my father fought both at D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. But I don't remember him discussing the specifics and sadly, I don't remember asking a lot of questions.

One of the places I most wanted to see were the beaches at Normandy and I was fortunate to be able to travel to France in 1985 to make this pilgrimage.  I am still in awe of the courage it took to land on a beach with enemy fire all around, and I am especially in awe of the Rangers who scaled Pointe du hoc to disable the German guns. As the years have gone by I grow more in awe each year.

 This is the top of Pointe du Hoc. The German guns were here, and it was critical that they were dismantled. 
 A United States Military cemetery in Normandy 

I made no notes on the backs of these photographs in 1985 and I am not sure who is buried in these graves. Their stories, like my father's stories, may now be lost. My father died three years before I went to Normandy and when I returned I didn't ask my mother what she might have remembered my father discussing about his war service. What is remembered is the bravery, the courage and the steadfastness that was shown on June 6, 1944.

My father was one of the lucky ones. He came home from Europe, met my mother and started a family. But at the end of his days he was still proud to have been PFC, US Army, 1941-1945.

With Grateful Remembrance for those who gave so much on 
June 6, 1944.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Thank You, Katie

I've never actually met Katie Couric, but after being in the studio audience for her show three times in the last six months I feel that I've been her guest. And when someone offers you hospitality three times it's only appropriate to say thank you. This is my thanks to Katie, and to the very funny and thoughtful people who made visiting the show a great experience.

I've been in the studio audience in November and January and was delighted to get tickets again to attend yesterday. I was with my college and neighborhood buddy, Betsy, and we had a great time. My other two visits included Facebook and twitter activity, but there was lots less this time. The show was being taped live and except for a few photos at the beginning -- like the one above -- and after the show was finished cell phones were turned off.

I enjoyed the show a lot. There were episodes on travel and the empty nest. I had the fun of seeing blogger Sharon Greenthal interviewed as part of the latter segment. We were also a lucky audience and had the fun of winning the "swag bag," which is a collection of goodies for everyone in the audience. Our swag was an assortment of bottles of hot sauce, a neck pillow, and certificates for jewelry and fancy jeans. I'm especially excited about the jeans. I've been wearing definitely "unfancy" jeans, and this should be a real wardrobe upgrade.  

The stage immediately after the show ended. I'm sitting near the back and it was difficult not to include a few tops of heads in my photographs. 

The last episode will be taped next Thursday, and the show will continue to be shown during the summer. You may just get to see me in a quick minute or two throughout July and August. I'm wearing a pink cotton shirt -- I took a quick scan and it seemed half of the audience was in pink -- and sitting on the far left.  

 Thank you, Katie. It's been great. 
Every wish for health and happiness.  

Now it's back to real life after my day in television. I've got overdue library books to return, a medical appointment to schedule and I'm going to visit a friend who's ailing. I'll stop at my favorite new neighborhood bakery -- soon to be featured in Foodie Friday -- and get a treat for her and for me. They have the best croissants.

As always, thanks for visiting. Take care and happy reading!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

They Get Me at the Pas de Deux Every Time

I realize this is somewhat of a cryptic title and a little explanation is in order. In ballet the pas de deux is the dance duet, generally performed by the prima ballerina and the foremost male dancer in the ballet company. It is the "bravura highlight" of the ballet, at least it is for me, every time I see it. Tonight was no exception.

   The American Ballet Theater is in residence at Lincoln Center this month. 

I've been a fan of ballet since I moved to New York almost forty years ago. I took ballet lessons for a year and had a subscription to the New York City Ballet. It was clear that I wasn't going to become a ballerina -- tough if not impossible when starting lessons at thirty -- but I enjoyed the exercise and gained understanding of what I was seeing on stage. But as the years went by the tickets grew more and more expensive and I am sorry to admit, I started to nod off from time to time. The theater was dark and the music was sweet and if I closed my eyes for a second an entire scene could easily be lost.   

Tonight, however, a generous friend gifted me with a ticket she couldn't use and I was back to the ballet for two of the most splendid pas de deux I've ever seen. The ballet was "Manon," based on a tragic novel of pre-Revolutionary France. The music was lush, the sets were great and the pas de deux just about had me weeping. Once again, the pas de deux captured me. 

Though it was raining when I arrived the night was clear when I left. I enjoyed watching the dancing fountain and then walking to the bus. 

 The Lincoln Center Plaza Fountain

Now it's well past my bedtime and there's a big day ahead tomorrow. I'm keeping it a surprise for tomorrow's post. 

As ever, thanks for visiting. Take good care and happy, happy reading. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Monday After

It's now the Monday after BookExpo and I'm trying to settle back into my usual life in New York City. Between being in Connecticut for Memorial Day weekend and BookExpo, it's taking a little effort to return to my daily rhythms. But there's nothing like an empty refrigerator for motivation and I made the trip to my favorite fruit and veggie market. I love markets all over the world, and while this one isn't exotic, it's colorful and has a great assortment. My snack for the next few days is cherries, one of my favorite fruits.

 I love the rainbow look of the fruits and vegetables. 

Yes, my eye immediately went to the super special sign in the front of the photograph.

 Grapes are on my shopping list for later in the week. Are you a red or green grape fan? I like them both.

This is a shout-out to my dear friend and devoted blog reader, K, on the first Monday of her retirement. Welcome to a wonderful club! K, I have no advice for enjoying retirement, because I know you will and have great plans already. I do think you'd be a wonderful addition to BlogWorld. 

Just one year ago -- literally -- it was my first Monday not going into a workplace. I'll be doing a recap on my year of retirement later this week. This year has taken me places I never dreamed I'd go. I'm grateful for all of the opportunities I've had, but again more later.   

A little blog housekeeping...Dear friends, please leave me a way to get in touch with you if there's a giveaway. This is especially important if you don't have a blog or are a "no-reply" blogger. I left a message on Google+ over a week ago for the winner of the "4 Ingredients" cookbook and I haven't had any response. If I don't hear from Maria Simon in the next few days I'm going to pick another winner. Maria, if you are out there, please leave me your email in a comment. There are a couple of readers who asked for Grumpy Cat postcards and I don't have a way to get their addresses. If you're reading please leave me an email address. Grumpy Cat wants to come and visit you!  

As always, thanks for visiting. Take good care and happy reading. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

BookExpo America Pink Saturday

I saved a few of my BookExpo America (BEA) experiences for Pink Saturday. There were some very fun-in-pink good times at  BEA and I knew they would be perfect for a post.

I didn't expect to make new friends at BEA, but I'm happy to say I met two of nicest women who publish at Pink Pig Press. I was drawn to their pretty-in-pink booth and especially liked their two great books about cats. Liz and Vell were very gracious and I will be doing a giveaway later in the summer for one of their titles.

Of course I was drawn to this pretty in pink booth.

There were hundreds of exhibitors, but not very many with pink decor. I found a perfect Pink Saturday sight at the American Girl booth. 

My attention was captured by the bright pink lettering on the cover of "Let's Get Lost." I got to chat with the author, Adi Alsaid, and look forward to reading his book, which will be published in July. 

And a final goodbye to BEA. I'm now sorting out the business cards I collected, making a list of email I want to write and getting down to the real business, which is reading. I'm enjoying "The Hollow Girl" a lot. I do love my mysteries. There are still some Grumpy Cat post cards available and I'll be in touch with those of you who already let me know you wanted them.  

Now I join Dora in waving a fond farewell to a wonderful week of books, more books and new friends. 

As always, thanks for visiting and take good care. Happy week and happy reading.