Friday, December 14, 2007

On the Fifth Day of Baking, My Oven Made for Me

A large batch of ginger crinkle cookies!

These cookies are crunchy on the edges and chewy on the inside. A very tasty cookie, but they are the runner up for the cookie tray.
My cookie tray selection is definitely the brown butter cardamom cookies. They look traditional but the taste has a modern twist.
Thanks to Michael and his office mates for putting up with plate after plate of cookies this week. (Honestly I don't think it was too much of a burden for them to shoulder - I'm sure they will be missing the cookies next week when I am in CA.)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

It's Snowing

This was the view out the bedroom window around 11:30 this morning. The snow was really coming down - you can kind of see it in the picture by looking at the brick wall in the lower half of the photo. All of the fuzzy white specks are snowflakes!
It started with hail/freezing rain, then changed to nice fluffy snow and now it's back to icy cold rain. Some of the snow is sticking and we're getting some good icicles off the fire escape.

On the Fourth Day of Baking, My Oven Made for Me

A ton of just OK pumpkin oatmeal cookies.

The first plate, wrapped and ready for Michael to take to work -
Now what do I do with the rest of them?

And the funniest part of this is I have two plates of pumpkin oatmeal cookies wrapped up on my counter and I get a package delivered this morning filled with what else? Yes, more home made Christmas cookies!

By the time the cookie exchange gets here I won't eat another cookie for months. OK, not really. But seriously I need to find a home (other than my belly) for all of the cookies in the apartment right now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the Third Day of Baking, My Oven Made for Me

What just might be the perfect cookie!

A brown butter cardamom cookie

These may look like your typical Russian tea cookie or Mexican wedding cookie - but the browned butter and hint of cardamom update the flavor profile providing and unexpected and quite delicious cookie.

This could be the one! Did I tell you I can get 4 dozen out of one batch too.

I'll still do some baking tonight and MAYBE Thursday night. I think Michael's office now quite spoiled with their daily cookie plate.

Monday, December 10, 2007

On the Second Day of Baking My Oven Made for Me

White chocolate caramel bars.
Sure they look nice, but they are SO sweet. Not what I'm looking for in a cookie exchange cookie.

Back to the oven!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Cookie Trials

I finally started trying some recipes for the cookie exchange extravaganza next week.

Cookie #1 - a delicious gingersnap lemon cream sandwich cookie. Once I got the gingersnaps to be more chewy and less snappy it tasted great. But they are a pain to make and I would have to make 2x the amount of cookies and icing too - way too much work to make 13 dozen of these gems.

They are being taste tested now, no early reports. If nothing else they look good on the plate.

Cookie #2 - a mini black & white cookie. As a tribute to New York City I thought a small size black & white cookie would be really cute. Well I mixed up the dough and started baking. No matter how much or how little batter I put on the cookie sheet they totally flattened out in to pancakes. Maybe my baking soda was bad? I don't know - but cookie #2 is headed straight to the dumpster.

Back to the oven tonight!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

P Run Dress

For anyone that watches Project Runway (better known as P Run) - you remember the challenge with SJP, to design a dress for her Bitten collection at Steve and Barry's.

Well of course I had to go to Steve and Barry's right away to check out the dress. And little did I know, the actual dress sewn on the show is there on display!

A very nice sales person took my photo in front of the dress.

And of course I couldn't leave without picking up the ensemble for myself.

Steve and Barry's only location in Manhattan is at the Manhattan Mall. For the holidays they loaded tons of Christmas ball ornaments in their fountain - it looked really cool. You can kind of see them in the photo.

And not related to anything else - but around the Thanksgiving time frame (yes, this update is late), here are some of the flowers Mel sent to brighten up Thanksgiving in the city. The roses were spectacular, a nice peachy/orange color on the outside and a deep orange-red on the inside.

Seattle Karen's Visit

Over Thanksgiving we had a surprising visitor - Seattle Karen. She is not a fan of urban environments and I was very pleasantly surprised she would be visiting NYC. She travelled with her mom and a family friend. They did some visiting and sight seeing in Washington DC and then spent a few days in the city before heading home. Their family friend has a daughter and son-in-law who live in the city. Erin (the daughter) works at Macy's - she was our parade ticket connection.

First stop was the Rockette's Christmas Spectacular! The Rockette's put on a great Christmas show. We had seats at the front of the mezzanine - my favorite spot in the theatre. I think you have a better view of the stage being a little higher up, and when you're in the front no one tall can sit in front of you.

This photo is before the show started - look at the sides of the theatre, they were projecting images of Christmas ornaments on the walls. And the garland and wreaths were stunning.

Swarovski provided the main lobby decoration, a million dollar crystal 'Christmas Tree' chandelier. It was so sparkly. My photo doesn't do it justice at all!

The Rockette's also wore costumes covered in Swarovski crystals. They sparkled under the stage lights. They had a costume on display in the Swarovski store - it must weigh a ton. I picked up just one piece of fringe and it definitely had some weight to it.

I took Karen on a cake and cupcake tour of the city and we managed to sneak in some culture in too. Here she is at the Natural History Museum. We decided I need to work on a 'Night at the Museum' tour.

The Natural History Museum had this Christmas tree on display - it was covered in origami ornaments.

We went to the top of the GE building and had amazing views of NYC. It was such a clear day we could see to the Atlantic Ocean, Yankee Stadium, and the Statue of Liberty.

In this photo Gay, Karen, and Linda have Central Park and the Upper West Side in the background. With the wacky weather the park had lots of good fall color. (And yes, it was windy and chilly at the Top of the Rock.)

Here is the view from the other side, this time they are posing with the Empire State Building.

Of course we took some time to shop.

Karen and her mom on the fabulous Swarovski crystal couch.

And the newest Bloomie's girl - Karen! We shopped until we dropped on Friday, it was a marathon session at Bloomingdale's followed with a Macy's chaser. (And before I hear about it, only one of those Bloomie's bags was mine - the only 'medium' brown bag. I maintained total restraint throughout the day!)

We all went to visit Santa at Macy's Santaland. They put together an elaborate display - lots of things to look at while you are waiting. We were there pretty late at night so our wait was short (and virtually kid free).

In the picture from left to right:

Karen, Gay (Karen's mom), KO, Santa, Erin (foreground), Linda (Erin's mom), and Chris (Erin's husband). Michael missed out, so Santa won't know what to bring him this year.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Highlights

I have a ton of pix from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade (did you know it officially marks the start of the holiday season - I didn't know, but I was told several times while watching the parade).

We had seats on Central Park West and 75th. We were at the start of the parade. The best part being at the start was hearing the announcer invite each band and balloon to 'join the parade'. I wanted him to say 'Kristin, join the parade!' The worst part about being at the front was we only heard drum cadence from the bands, they didn't start playing until farther down the route.

The weather was perfect, it was sunny and in the low 60's! We learned that the only way to get tickets to view the parade from the grandstands is to know a Macy's employee. We were so lucky to get tickets.

We were sitting by a girl who's dad was the soccer ball balloon captain. Job well done Bill!
Here is the soccer ball balloon and here is Bill. He pretty much has to walk backward the entire parade. It is his job to make sure the balloon doesn't run in to anything and to let the balloon carriers know when to start walking and when to stop walking.

Oh and none of the celebrities sang by us either, but we did get to see lots of famous faces including:

Singing legend Dolly Parton

American Idol winner Jordin Sparks on the Pillsbury Lovin' Oven float (really well done and cute float)

My favorite High School Musical actor Corbin Bleu (we did see Ashley Tisdale too, but I like Corbin's smile so he made it to the blog highlights)

And cute little Bindi Irwin was on a great float sponsored by Animal Planet

The balloons are pretty big moving down the street. It's a different perspective being underneath them instead of just watching on tv. One of them was pretty out of control when it started, it was a new balloon, a Sesame Street character called Abby Cadabby. She was really swaying across the road. The people on the balcony in the building across from us got to see Abby up close, real close.

My favorite balloons:

Scooby Doo

Kermit the Frog (all of his handlers were wearing vests with his signature green collar)

Super Cute Hello Kitty

And Jo Jo the Clown isn't my favorite character, but what they handlers did with the balloon was cool. She had ropes on her fingers and they were moving the fingers as they walked to make it look like she was tossing the balls in her hands.

These next balloons were kind of odd, but they were a good addition to the parade.

Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers. I don't know how these people walked the parade with a big balloon head on their head.

The Energizer Bunny put on a show for us, it did a doughnut right in front of our seats.

This performing group of tapping trees was made up of older ladies from Alameda CA. If I lived in Alameda I would totally be a tapping tree. They were performing the entire parade route and so full of energy!

And the parade wouldn't be complete without the NYC recycling and trash cans!

I bet you thought I was going to say the parade wouldn't be complete without Santa, well almost - this little elf was a signal that Santa was on his way. He was a reproduction of a balloon used in the 40's.

And finally - the jolly man we all want to see.

After the parade was over we had an easy walk through Central Park back to the apartment. We snacked and rested and then headed to a tasty and relaxing Thanksgiving Dinner at a local steakhouse.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Where's Beckham?

The other day Beckham was sleeping on the bed. He was so tired, but all of sudden I noticed he was missing. Where is Beckham, I thought to myself - then I saw the lump under the covers.

I found him!

Roxy Girl

The Rockettes were originally name "The Roxyettes".

Here is our favorite Roxyette.

Busy Saturday

Last weekend was busy with all kinds of errands and some fun stuff too. It's so close to Christmas I feel like I need to be busy with something all of the time. (I know, it's the same for everyone.)

I started out an Union Sq and picked up some fresh produce. The Green Market was packed, I'm guessing lots of people shopping for Thanksgiving dinner. They some funky veges - along with the 20 different types of potatoes there were purple and white carrots, purple and yellow cauliflower, and black turnips.

After that I walked up to Angelo and Maxie's Steakhouse. We're eating Thanksgiving dinner there and I wanted to double check the menu. Here's what I'm having for Thanksgiving dinner:

Hopping on an uptown subway, next stop Grand Central Terminal. I picked up a few transit related items and then met Michael. We took the Metro North to the New York Botanical Garden to see some fall colors.

The Botanical Garden's natural forest had some good color. (All of the 'artsy' shots are Michael's - of course.)

Look through the fencing and there is a little tiny KO!

Normal size KO.

Leaf debris.

The colors are so much more vibrant in person.

Along with acres of natural forest, the NYBG also has a huge conservatory with rotating displays. Right now they are celebrating the Japanese art of growing chrysanthemums.

These cascades of blooms take 9 months to grow.

The giant single stems are as large as dinner plates and take 6 months to grow.

And the most impressive, these giant bushes are all grown from a single plant. They take 11 months to train and grow. This one has almost 300 blooms.

Fall bonsai!