Thursday, March 31, 2016

Made in Peru Surprise Giveaway

Tomorrow I begin the A to Z Blogging Challenge with a month of coffee tales of New York. But I have one last post from Peru, which is both a coffee story and a giveaway. After the excitement of Machu Picchu, our group returned to Cuzco and spent a wonderful day touring the city.  One of our stops was the San Blas neighborhood, an area of many art and craft galleries. We paid a visit to the  Meeting Place Café, where I very much enjoyed this photogenic and delicious cappuccino. It was as good as it appears.

After coffee I spent some time in the plaza next to the Church of San Blas -- known as Saint Blaise in English -- where there were a number of craftspeople selling things they made.  I bought several items from this woman, and one of them I put aside for a giveaway in Buttercupland. The identity of the item is a surprise, but it is useful and it was made in Peru. The weaver was lovely and very gracious to my extremely basic Spanish.  This is the easiest giveaway. Just leave a comment on this post any time before Sunday, April 10. I will announce the winner on a post on April 10.
This lovely courtyard of a ceramic studio was one of our stops in the neighborhood.
I'm getting ready for my month of coffee and I'm also looking forward to visiting a wide, wide world of bloggers. Coffee and new blog buddies -- what a fun month.
As ever, thanks for visiting and happy April! 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rockefeller Center in the Spring

When I think of decorations for Rockefeller Center, my thoughts turn to Christmas and the magnificent Christmas tree that graces the Plaza. But every season has magic, and Rockefeller Center in the spring is no less lovely. The fountains were turned into tributes to spring and I loved the giant Faberge eggs.

I am a fan of topiary and this joyous bunny quickly joined my top ten list. 30 Rockefeller Plaza -- the NBC headquarters -- is directly behind the bunny.
The hats weren't limited to Fifth Avenue. This was one of my favorite floral bonnets. 

The Easter Bunny wasn't the only animal buddy that took part in the festivities. A very elegant participant was Kimba, the Chihuahua. I googled Kimba -- I didn't think I was the only person who thought her photogenic -- and there were a number of entries.  I'm pleased she took a moment toose for Buttecupland.  
Yes, there's the Easter Bunny, the Easter Chihuahua, and our friend, Pepe, the Easter Monkee. He looks dapper in his bunny ears -- a gift from one of his admirers -- and is enjoying them so much he is still wearing them. I think he'll change into his baseball uniform next week to celebrate Opening Day.  

I'm getting ready for the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, which starts this Friday, April 1. Actually, getting ready for the challenge isn't too different from my regular life, which is doing things in Manhattan and drinking coffee. Today I spent a very nice day in Brooklyn -- need to expand my horizons -- drinking coffee, walking and visiting with a friend.  I drank some excellent coffee, took pictures and did a little shopping. I'm not sure if I had the best coffee in New York City, but it was good.

As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Parade Pink Saturday

Easter was sunny and bright today and I had a wonderful time joining the Easter Parade. Just to be clear it's not really a parade, but a portion of Fifth Avenue is closed to traffic. It seemed that all of New York was out enjoying the day. I was not decked out, but I felt like I was in a minority. There were some very creative outfits and a fabulous array of hats. 

There were many Easter Bunnies in attendance, but this bunny was my favorite. I especially enjoyed the flower wreath that was entwined in the Bunny's ears. 

I liked the wide range of hat styles in this group. There was the classic bunny ears on the right and the Easter themed group in the center. I also liked the varied shades of pink in their clothes. 
Here we see the ever popular balloon bonnet, also in varied shades of pink.

There were many extremely creative hats. These hats are modeled on New York landmarks and the Empire State Building is on the right and the Chrysler Building on the left. 

This trio may be my favorite of the day. I enjoyed all of the bright colors and they made the most artistic photograph, with sunglasses and black coats.

Of course Easter isn't just bunnies, hats and candy. This is St. Patrick's Cathedral. This section of Fifth Avenue in front of the Cathedral was completely filled with people.  

The cornerstone for the Cathedral was placed in 1858 and it was opened in 1879. When the cornerstone was placed this was the northern edge of building in Manhattan.
I took a lot of pictures today, a lot! I plan to be back tomorrow with photographs of Rockefeller Center, which was beautifully decorated for the spring. I definitely need a return visit when the area is less crowded just to enjoy the flowers and decorations. 
I hope you've enjoyed our Pink Saturday Easter fun. Looking ahead to this week in Buttercupland...We will visit Rockefeller Center, there will be a giveaway and I'm thinking of a book themed post. Please stop by.
As ever, thanks for visiting. I hope all that celebrate Easter had a wonderful day and wishes for a wonderful week to all.  

Joyous Easter Wishes

                               Every bunny wishes you and your family a happy Easter!

Monday, March 21, 2016

This Year's Theme Is...A Search for the Best Coffee in New York City

I'm happy to be joining the A to Z Blogging Challenge for 2016. This year has a new (to me) innovation, the theme reveal. When I last participated in 2014 I remember saving revealing the actual theme until the end of the challenge, but instead of a big reveal, in blogs all around the world, today,  bloggers are revealing their themes.
I didn't participate last year because I was in Japan, but I'm home for all of April and happy to be part of this challenge. The goal is to blog every week day in alphabetical order, from A to Z. My last theme was New York City food and I had a lot of fun with it. But I didn't think of anything for this year until last week. I was walking with my friend Nancy and we passed one of the thousands of places serving coffee in New York. She commented that a mutual friend thinks that Coffee Shop A serves the best coffee in New York. I was intrigued by the idea and my challenge was born. I am in search of the best coffee in New York City.  
This will be by no means a scientific search. I will stop by a few favorites -- perhaps a return to Café Lalo for this beauty -- as well as try a number of new places. I may write about areas of the city, stores, restaurants and coffee serving locations. Friends in New York are happily invited on my coffee expeditions, and I'm eager for any and all recommendations. All opinions are mine and all are subjective. There will be no thermometers to measure temperature of the coffee or any other scientific criteria, just an enjoyment of the coffee.  I can't think of a better way to spend the spring days of April.
As ever, thanks for visiting and let's have another cup of coffee!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

It's Spring (Sort of...)

I've been eagerly looking at every patch of dirt in the neighborhood, hoping for the first spring flowers. There are shoots popping up, but I haven't seen any flowers yet. But as I was out walking this afternoon this sight greeted me.

 Blossom time! I've been so busy looking down for flowers that I've missed the blossoms above. They look like they've been out for a few days, but perhaps they just came out in the last day or so. In the next few weeks the neighborhood should be spectacular. 
The forecast is snow for tonight, which is not unusual at this time in March. I looked at my post for last year and I wrote about icy precipitation. Of course we were coming out of one of the worst winters in my memory and it seemed like spring would never come. This winter has been spring-like and for once I'm not as desperate for warmer weather. I will still treasure every spring day and spring flower, but I've (prematurely) packed away my winter gloves already because it was unseasonably warm.
Besides my walk, a few errands and cooking prep, I spent a very leisurely Sunday. Lots of coffee and the New York Times and reading. I just started The Skeleton Garden -- A Potting Shed Mystery, which I'm enjoying.
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

The Market in Iquitos Pink Saturday

As New York City prepares for snow tomorrow I thought we'd go somewhere warm for Pink Saturday. Actually, I'm thinking tropical. We're going to visit  Iquitos, Peru, the largest city in the Peruvian Amazon. It was my entry point to my visit to the Amazon, and we though we spent very little time here, I was intrigued by all I saw. I enjoyed seeing the market stands in the Belen District and thought the bright colors would make for a lively Pink Saturday.

 Not surprisingly, sweet bananas and their starchier, less sweet cousins, plantains, are everywhere in the Amazon.

This is not my usual photo for Buttercupland, but my eye went to all of the pink outfits featured by the Pasiones Boutique.  

 The "motokar" takes the place of a taxi for getting around Iquitos. Iquitos is only reachable by air or river and these motokars are much easier to ship and much less expensive to run. They are modified motorcycles with attached seats.
I hope you've enjoyed our quick trip to Peru. My grocery shopping was much more routine and not quite as lively. I stuck to onions and zucchini, eggs and chicken. My plan is to spend part of tomorrow cooking and baking -- one of my favorite snowy day activities -- and I'm planning to try chocolate zucchini muffins.   
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. Have a pretty-in-pink Saturday.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

(I Think This Really Might Be) Once in My Lifetime

I very rarely use the phrase "once in a lifetime."  More than once I've said, "I'll never get here again..." and then find myself in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for a second time. But I had an experience the other day that really might be once in my lifetime.

When I see signs like the ones below I stop and look for the movie or film shoot that is nearby. I saw these on Tuesday and took a picture because I thought it might be a fun post for Pink Saturday. After I snapped pictures I was waiting to cross the street at Amsterdam Avenue and West 78th Street, about half a mile from home and somewhere I walk at least twice a week. I noticed a man also waiting to cross the street who looked very familiar. I quickly googled "YDDK" and realized my instinct was correct. Dustin Hoffman and I were at the same corner.


We -- and the people who were with one of my favorite actors ever -- crossed the street. I made eye contact with one of the security people who noticed my phone poised for photos and shook his head. I understand the gesture meant not to take pictures or chat. Perhaps I read too much into the gesture, but I decided it was appropriate to respect Mr. Hoffman's privacy -- a unique concept these days -- and we all walked down West 78th Street until Mr. Hoffman went into the trailer below.

One of the security people turned to me and said, "I bet you don't know who that is?" My reply was quick. "Of course, it's Dustin Hoffman.

Dustin memory went back to the winter of 1968 and seeing "The Graduate" twice in the same week it was released. "Midnight Cowboy," "Marathon Man," "Rain Man" and another of my all-time favorite movies, "Tootsie."

What a moment... If this is just once in my lifetime, I'm very grateful for this once.

What is your favorite Dustin Hoffman movie?
It's a beautiful St. Patrick's Day in New York and I'm enjoying listening to the commentary for the Parade as I type. Wishes for a very happy and bright and blessed day!
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Monkey Monday

Since I've retired Mondays are generally much more pleasant than they were when I was working. But this Monday has been rainy, (mostly) sunless and a lot colder than the last week. Despite getting more than enough sleep I wasn't my most perky self and of course when I turn on the news it seems even grayer. I'm stepping back from reality and inviting everyone to Buttercupland for Monkey Monday. I can't promise a change in the world, but I hope you'll enjoy the visit and leave with a smile.

I found these three wise guys -- in the best sense -- at the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle. It's my local (very fancy) mall. It's only three blocks from my gym and I'm a regular at the Whole Foods in the basement. 

This cute little monkey was part of the group at Monkey Island. 

I found this Easter collection while walking in the East Village. It's not often I find a gorilla (in clothes!) in an Easter window, but I knew he would be just right for Monkey Monday. 
My favorite Monkee, Pepe, will not be appearing today, as he has his own Monkey Monday post next week, which he is very excited about. Of course, Pepe thinks every day is his day.  
Just looking at my monkey friends has pepped me up, and I hope if you needed a little cheer, this visit has provided it.
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Cafe Lalo Pink Saturday

 I know I'm really home from a trip when I start taking pictures in New York City again. I still have (at least) two more posts about Peru, but I wanted to share a neighborhood adventure while it's still current for this week's Pink Saturday fun.
Many moons ago a favorite movie was "You've Got Mail," and Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan stopped at Cafe Lalo  during the movie. Café Lalo is still open of West 83rd Street and I walk by it often on the way to the library. There's been talk that it may be closing and my friend, B, who had never been there suggested we have lunch there. I haven't been there in quite awhile and I was happy to schedule a return visit. 
The menu was extensive, the coffee was excellent and the desserts among the most delicious looking I've seen in a long time. The one negative was the noise level. We were there for Saturday lunch and it was hard to have a conversation. That probably wouldn't have been an issue twenty years ago, but it made this visit less enjoyable.
I ate very sensibly during this visit, but I think I need a return visit at a quieter time to sample at least one of the desserts. I think it's going to be a very difficult choice, but I've got several in mind. 
 I'm pretty sure my first choice of dessert is the S'Mores Pie, closely followed by the Chocolate Hazelnut Truffle Pie. I'm a s'mores fan and this looks like the next best to actual s'mores eaten next to a campfire.
 Tucked in the back of the top shelf is the Chocolate Mint Torte, which is also one of my top picks. I love anything chocolate and mint and I don't think this one will disappoint.
This basket of scones and croissants captured my attention and I'd like a second slightly less dessert oriented visit to try a scone. I would definitely have a cappuccino with my treat.  
If I were giving awards for the most attractive cup of cappuccino -- love the bright yellow -- this one would definitely be nominated. 
Which treat is your pick?
Although the calendar doesn't say it, it's been spring in New York City and I have so enjoyed it. The forecast is colder for next week and I'm going to have to remember to take my gloves with me. There have been a few no socks and even no jacket days. What a treat!
As ever, thanks for visiting and have a very pretty in pink weekend.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

(Very Belated) Monkey Monday

I know it's Wednesday and late on Wednesday, but I didn't want to skip my Monkey Monday post, even though it's just about Thursday. During our visit to the Amazon area I had the opportunity to visit Monkey Island, a rehab center for monkeys and other animals of the region. Most of the animals have been orphaned, but I also met an anaconda who had been injured by a boat motor and was being nursed back to health at Monkey Island.

I was very excited by my visit, but quickly realized that these were real monkeys. They are not Pepe and they are cheeky little primates. Per our guide I removed my earrings and watch before we arrived. Monkeys are fascinated by shiny gold, even when it's not really gold.

 The monkeys are playing with a coati, who is related to the raccoon family.
These two monkeys were enjoying a little swing time...
...As is this little monkey.
There were also beautiful macaws. The Amazon River is the background.
It wouldn't be a visit to Monkey Island without getting to know the residents. I enjoyed my meeting a lot, but realize as sweet as he is, his hygiene (or lack of it) wouldn't work in an apartment. As much as I was tempted I knew my monkey friend would be happier staying in the Amazon.
Even though it's only a week I feel like I've been back from vacation for a lot longer. One of the few things I need to catch up on are my photographs. I'm still learning how to use both my iPhone and my iPad and despite taking two classes at the Apple Store I have more questions than answers. There are still a number of photographs and adventures I want to share, and several -- at least -- more posts to come.
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care.  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Machu Picchu Pink Saturday

I can describe Machu Picchu and show magnificent photographs, but nothing comes close to actually being there. Nothing...

I've been back from Peru since Wednesday and I fell back into my usual routine -- groceries, laundry, the gym and exercise and Weight Watchers -- but I've been slow to get back to blogging and I apologize for that. I had hoped to blog more while I was in Peru, but between the mountains and the tropical rain forests the Blogger app on my iPad wasn't very cooperative. I'm still sorting through literally hundreds of pictures and I'm not going very quickly. I enjoyed every part of the trip -- even falling in mud in the Amazon on a nature walk -- and I'm going very slowly through the pictures.

I enjoyed every day of the trip, even without my luggage for four days. Lima had a great museum and interesting historic sites, Cusco and its environs were both beautiful and historic and the Amazon was fascinating. I'm thinking of doing posts on each area and highlighting some of my favorite places and experiences.

A different view of the "New" Mountain, and below, one of my favorite photographs. After three flights, a train ride and two bus rides, I am at Machu Picchu. When I was convalescing from my spinal surgery almost four years ago, this was beyond a dream. I am so grateful to have had this experience.
  Some of the rest of the climb was more than I could do -- think high steep steps and no handrails -- but I was still so excited to be at this point and see the excavations.
One of the special treats while at Machu Picchu was staying at the Inkaterra Hotel. Our group was upgraded and it was a fabulous experience. We had every luxury of home, but were still in the middle of the Andes.

This is the view from my room, with the Andes in the background. 
The sights were extraordinary, but it would have been half the trip without our tour director, Roberto, and the people I traveled with. It was a friendly and very inclusive group and I enjoyed everyone's company. Thanks, all, for great travel memories and friendships. I'm so happy to add this post to this week's Pink Saturday, and glad to be back to blogging.  
Returning to New York, to blogging and very happily to my blog buddies, and alas, just for one evening to "Downton Abbey." I'm back just in time to say goodbye. 
As ever, thanks for visiting and take good care!