Friday, March 30, 2007

New York, New York, it's a helluva town!

Hey party people (copyright, Jonathan Adler)! Mel here, guest blogging on 90th and KO! Now, you may be asking yourself, “What did Mel have to do to get a guest blogger gig? More importantly, how can I get one for myself?” Simple, just go visit KO, have a blast and start writing!

First things first – I have to give a huge thanks to Kristin and Michael for being such gracious and generous hosts. You could honestly not have been any better. KO even picked me up at the airport after a red-eye flight – that’s 5 am people! Now that is a good friend and a great host. After a quick cab ride to the apartment (there is no traffic at 5 am – apparently the city that never sleeps actually just power naps from 4 am when the bars close to 7 am when it’s time to start thinking about heading to work), I got to see the apartment in person for the first time. Either the crabs worked as a distraction or the apartment is just so cozy and charming that it doesn’t feel small. (Personally, I think it's the latter.) Kristin had a great itinerary planned for the weekend – every restaurant, activity, or store on it was someplace that I would (and did) love!

Our tour started on Friday with lunch in Brooklyn (and my first subway ride). The delicious traditional pizza at Grimaldi’s made up for the wait. Since it was raining, we took the subway back to Grand Central which is just beautiful. We tried out the Whispering Gallery near Oyster Bar – the ceilings are shaped in such a way that you can stand in one corner and whisper to someone in another – very cool! We walked to Rockefeller Center then on to Saks where we toured the 5 floors of women’s items, including the most gorgeous shoes. Just thinking about all those shoes sends me to my happy place!
After a delicious cocktail creation by master mixologist KO, sushi at Poke was delicious. Our first stop after dinner was one of Kristin and Michael’s favorite local bars and for all of you who think that New York is cold and anonymous; I’m here to tell you that you could not be more wrong. The bartender knows Kristin and Michael, knows what they drink – in a city of over 8 million people. Cold and anonymous? I don’t think so!

Lunch at Craftbar on Saturday was delish – thanks Mr. Colicchio! Fishes Eddy and ABC Home were very cool – full of everything you never knew you needed, some of it even reasonably priced! Here is a picture of the vase I picked up at Jonathan Adler – it suits my d├ęcor perfectly!
The Met was amazing - so many wonderful things to see. I was a little bummed that the costume collection was closed, but that just means I’ll have to come back! Dinner at Bondi Road was great. Not only did I get my Toohey’s New, I got what were probably the best french fries (chips) I’ve ever tasted. Crispy on the outside, moist and potato-y on the inside, they even tasted good when they got cold! Now on to the alleged blue drink alluded to in KO’s post. It sadly did exist, and it brought about the usual pain and suffering of all blue drinks. I’m blaming the Bad Idea Bears (from the musical Avenue Q). “Come on, drink it, it’s free. It would be rude not to.” “It’s not that blue, drink up!”


It’s never good when you know something is a bad idea, and yet you do it anyway. Next time the Bad Idea Bears want me to enjoy a blue beverage; I will tell them “Suck it!” (My favorite New Yorkerism – I’d like to work it into as many possible conversations as I can in my daily life.)

Brunch on Sunday was followed by a stroll through Central Park. The park was still wearing its winter colors, but because it was a “balmy” 53 degrees, people seemed to be out and about so there was lots of fun people watching to be had. Not to mention turtles, ducks, geese and squirrels!
Sunday night was Avenue Q on Broadway – a very funny show featuring puppets and definitely NOT meant for children! Dinner at Balthazar was scrumptious, and totally reminiscent of a Parisian restaurant. Plus the celeb sightings!

Monday we enjoyed a “Midnight Treat” at the local dinner before heading off to the Fashion District for the P-Run tour. The fabric and notions stores are amazing. There are so many selections it makes your head spin! After hitting the highlights, including Mood, Parsons, and the Atlas apartments (here’s me at the doors to the Atlas apartments),



it was off to Soho for some power shopping. I was able to pick up some fun pieces for spring at Uniqlo (a Japanese department store with extremely reasonable prices, plus I got my trendy yellow piece!) and H&M where I found the classic black pencil skirt I’ve been looking for forever.


We strolled down (or is it up, I swear I had no idea which direction I was going the entire time I was there!) to Emmett McCarthy’s store (from Project Runway) – he had some very cute things, but somehow the $350 jacket that I loved just didn’t fit the budget. On the way back to Prince Street, we passed by Thom, the designer from Queer Eye. The pedicures at Bliss were, quite frankly, blissful (sorry, couldn’t resist)! I think we definitely got our money’s worth from the spa amenities. Dinner was great – I had scallops that were like butter, so delicious.

Sadly, Tuesday morning was time to head home, bright and way too early (I left the apartment around 7 am to get my 9 am flight). KO had to get back to work and fish and guests start to stink after three days, so I was pushing my luck! I just want to reiterate what a great time I had, thanks to Kristin and Michael and their wonderful hospitality. Thanks for making me so welcome and introducing me to such a wonderful, fun city. I can’t wait to go back for another visit! There are so many more things on my list now: Oyster Bar, Flatiron Building, Natural History Museum, Greenwich Village, new stuff at H&M and Uniqlo, the Costume Collection at the Met…

Wine Label Removal Made Easy

Thanks to a tip from Big Daddy Dolby Sr. I was able to remove a wine bottle label in perfect condition and with little effort on my part.

It really doesn't get much better - great results for small effort, those are the projects I love.

The tip is from Mr. Dolby Sr. via Melissa.

To get those pesky wine labels off of the bottle, put the bottle in the oven on low heat. Eventually the glue heats up and you can peel the label right off the bottle in one nice piece.

I set the oven to 200 degrees and left the bottle in the oven for about 45 minutes. I was able to start the removal in one corner and then pull off the entire label. The label comes off with the back side being very sticky. I put my labels on an acid free piece of paper and smoothed out any bubbles. To make sure the labels stayed nice and flat as they cooled, I set the piece of paper on the counter label side down and put a heavy object on top of the paper.

My perfectly preserved label.





The naked bottle.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Annoyance du Jour

Beckham is a pretty fussy eater. The only cat food he liked was caught up in the recent pet food recall. His food was pulled as a precautionary measure - but of course he ran out and we had to find him something new.

He finally decided on one flavor of Fancy Feast - the delicious Chicken Feast. I purchased some cans at the grocery store and paid dearly for the convenience.

Earlier this week I decided to see if I could get a better deal at our local Petco. Happy day - with my Petco frequent buyer card I could buy 10 cans for $5. This is almost half price compared to the grocery store.

I quickly piled up 20 cans and headed to the register.

When it was Beckham dinner time I popped a can and immediately noticed the food looked different (wuh wuhhhh). I plated it for him, hoping the difference wouldn't matter. Of course it did. He won't eat it.

Luckily I had a few cans of the 'good' food left. I compared labels and realized he likes the 'Gourmet Chicken Feast', not 'Roasted Chicken Feast'.

I have photos of the cans below - could the people that decided on the packaging made it any more confusing? The two foods have almost the same name and the label is almost identical in color. Who decided that was a good idea?

Luckily Trixie has stepped up to the plate and pitched in as a real team player. She is eating the 'Roasted Chicken Feast' without complaint.



Bad Food
Good Food



Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Out Like a Lion

Just in time for spring, the girls updated their winter looks with a sassy lion cut.
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Sadie's best lion impression.
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Sadie showing off her lion tail.
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Sadie is hoping the hair cut will equate to some weight loss, she's tired of being on a diet.
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Trixie was in no mood for photos, and the camera reflected her attitude - this is the best shot we managed during the photo shoot today.
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Most of the photos turned out like this, crazy eye Trixie!
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One cat that doesn't need a trip to the groomers.
He's been handsome too long.
He knows beauty too well.
(OK for most of you that was really lame - but the NYC readers will enjoy the reference.)
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Mel Takes a Bite of the Big Apple

Alternate but over used title: Mel in the City
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This weekend Mel paid a visit to NYC. The weather was reasonably kind (Michael and I were enjoying the early spring weather, but it was a little chilly for our SD guest) and good time was had by all. I'm still recovering and quite jealous she is off of work for the rest of the week.
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To distract her from the size of the apartment, I cleverly folded towels in the shape of crabs. Two blue crabs were waiting on her bed when she arrived from JFK.
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As cute as they look, they proved to be quite troublesome (more on that later).
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Michael managed to get himself a ticket to the USC basketball game Friday night, so the girls were left to their own devices. Mel and I enjoyed a nice tour of the Upper East Side, had amazing sushi at our favorite local spot for dinner and then went out for drinks. USC lost the game, and even though it was late Michael joined us for a few late night cocktails.
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Now back to the crabs. Michael went home after work to change before the game. Mel and I were out shopping and when we came home the dark blue crab had a smile on it's face. It was very deliberate - we thought Michael had added the smile. Well he didn't. When we all got home after dinner and drinks, the crab's smile had turned upside down and it was frowning (no one but the cats had been home). Needless to say, the towel was rapidly unfolded and moved to the bathroom. Beware of blue things at all costs - towel crabs, drinks, they are all trouble. The mystery of the smiling/not smiling crab remains unsolved - the cats are being subpoenaed for questioning later this week.
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Saturday was a mix of neighborhoods and varying degrees of culture. We started the day at Craftbar in Union Square. We all loved it. Lunch began with risotto balls (creamy risotto wrapped around cheese, coated in bread crumbs and deep fried) and this delicious creation:
Fresh mozzarella, white anchovy, and french bread all drizzled with olive oil and speared together with a sprig of rosemary and heated.
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Our main dishes were all tasty and we will definitely be going back. Well done Colicchio, well done.

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After lunch Mel and I hit up a few of my favorite stores in Union Sq. Fish's Eddy (unique dishware) and ABC Home (high end home goods). We ended our tour of Union Sq. with a walk through the green market. The green market has flowers, organic food, fresh veggies and crafts. At one vege stand Mel counted over 20 different varieties of potatoes, including our new favorite:







Yes, the sign does say 'German Butt Baby'. Who can resist the German Butt Baby potato? What kid isn't going to eat a vegetable called the 'Butt Baby'? I mean really, does it get much better?



After Union Sq. we headed back uptown for some culture a 12 year might not appreciate. After a quick stop at the Jonathan Adler store we visited the Met. This trip was key for any future visit, we found the nicest and least crowded restrooms in the museum. How valuable is that information? So key, that I am not willing to share it on a public blog - you have to know me to get that scoop.

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The Met was fabulous as always - I even visited the often ignored (by me) South Wing and saw a few collections I had never seen before. Currently my favorite collection is from one of the Tiffany heirs. Amazing the things you can create if you don't need to work - vases, stained glass, paintings - his collection was inspiring.

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I had my first NYC celebrity sighting at The Met entrance, Martin Landau. No one else saw him, so it's unconfirmed - but I just looked him up on IMDB and it was definitely him.



Mel and KO in a classic 'Gossip Girl' moment on the stairs at The Met.




This photo is from a temple on display at the Met, a huge installation. Can you see the graffiti from the 1800's? Old school tagging.



We finished Saturday night at a quirky little place in the East Village called Bondi Bar. It served Mel's favorite Australian beer and had tasty Aussie inspired sea food. There might have been a blue drink involved with the evening, but I don't have any photos - so there is no proof of any blue drinking activities.



Sunday included a stroll through Central Park, a night at the theatre and dinner at Balthazar.

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Balthazar provided 2 more celebrity sightings (they all came out to show off for Mel). Upon entering, Mike Meyers was waiting for a table. After we were seated, Take Home Chef Curtis Stone strolled in the restaurant. And dinner was delicious too.

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We finished out Mel's visit with a P-run tour (Tim Gunn eluded us) and shopping in Soho. When our feet were just about to fall off we headed to Bliss Soho for pedicure appointments. We took full advantage of the spa and turned our 60 minute pedicure in to 3 hours of the sauna, steam shower, and relaxing in their lounge. Dinner was at Lure Fishbar in Soho - one of Michael's favorites. We discovered it during Restaurant Week and it did not disappoint.

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Aside from some early morning cat wake up calls I think the visit went well. It was really fun getting to show off the city. I'm starting a list of things we need to do for the next visit - we can't wait for Mel to come back.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Guest Blogger: Beckham

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I was sleeping, enjoying the warm sunshine - until someone decided to take my picture.
Humans can be so rude.
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This picture does show off my creamy white belly - don't you want to pet me?
Well you can't. Because that's the way I roll.
If you don't like, suck it.
(I've learned some new phrases in NYC - adds to my street cred.)
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I want everyone to know that the only food I like to eat in this whole world was recalled as a precautionary measure. Luckily I have found a substitute suitable for my finely tuned palate.
I'm sure you are relieved.
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Sometimes I wrestle with Roxy, but she's pretty strong and really pushes me around. I don't like getting thrown to the ground all that much, even if she thinks it's great fun.
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Time to go make a mess, the apartment is way too clean right now.
Do I throw up? Do I shed and get hair everywhere?
So many decisions, maybe a quick nap to sort it all out....
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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pretty in Pink

The things these cats tolerate, last night I put bows on the girls.
Aren't they cute?


Sadie
(the couch manatee)
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Roxy
Is she being shy or just tyring to figure out how to get the bow off?
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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Neal and Shannon's Wedding

This past weekend we traveled upstate to attend the wedding of Neal and Shannon.

It was a fabulous event held in the Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center.

"An Enchanted Hudson Valley lodging experience set atop a Hudson River Bluff.
25 miles from Manhattan, 19th century elegance meets state of the art amenities. The nation's first conference center was established in the Hudson Valley in 1840. This is Tarrytown House, a Westchester Hotel & Landmark."
http://www.tarrytownhouseestate.com/

The estate is a group of historical houses that are now used for conferences and parties. We were able to enjoy an indoor pool, spa, sauna, ping pong and pool tables. The wedding reception was a great party with a live band, sit-down dinner, and open bar. The bride provided flip flops for everyone on the dance floor, so uncomfortable shoes wouldn't stop the dancing. In lieu of favors on the table, a donation was made to an animal shelter - I really thought that was a neat idea.

There is only one photo from the wedding, the centerpieces. White hydrangeas in a glass vase - simple and elegant.





The wedding and reception were held in the Biddle House. The front part of the house had lots of little rooms that were nicely decorated. During the cocktail reception the rooms were set up with bars and wait staff passed an array of hors d'oeuvres. The back part of the house had a ballroom (it was added on to the original house once the estate was being used as a conference center). The dance floor was raised up from the dining area, with a balcony overlooking the guest tables. The balcony area made an ideal spot for the couple's first dance.

East Coast weddings flow differently than West Coast weddings. Dancing and toasting is integrated with the meal service. The couple was introduced and immediately danced their first dance. Then the rest of the guests were encouraged to join them on the dance floor. There was more dancing and then the guests were seated for the first course. After the first course, more dancing and then toasts followed by the dinner service. After dinner more dancing and then cupcakes and chocolate dipped strawberries. Cupcakes are huge on the East Coast, they are starting to gain ground out in the West. There was no cutting of the cake, tossing of the bouquet or garter belt.


The Biddle House exterior.
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Biddle House entry/front room.
The portrait above the fire place is British Major John Andre. He is famous for being caught with plans to West Point. He received the plans from the infamous General Benedict Arnold. West Point was key to the British, it stopped their ships from moving up the Hudson. If the British had taken West Point they would have cut off New England from the rest of the colonies, very possibly changing the outcome of the Revolutionary War.
(Admit it, all this time you knew Benedict Arnold was a traitor but you never knew why - well now you know.)


Another sitting room in the Biddle House.
During the cocktail reception this room had a cheese and fruit buffet on the back tables.





Dining area in the Biddle House.
During the cocktail reception this area had a bar and off to the side there was an Asian inspired hot appetizer buffet. The leaded glass in the widows was amazing, it really sparkled in the sun the next morning.



Way to go Mom O!

Mom O has been growing out her hair to make a Locks of Love donation. She reached the required 10 inches last Thursday. She now sports a short bob and her hair is on its way to becoming a wig for a child in need.

What is Locks of Love you ask...

(from the Locks of Love website)

"Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis. We meet a unique need for children by using donated hair to create the highest quality hair prosthetics. Most of the children helped by Locks of Love have lost their hair due to a medical condition called alopecia areata, which has no known cause or cure. The prostheses we provide help to restore their self-esteem and their confidence, enabling them to face the world and their peers."

If this has inspired you to make a donation or you just want to learn more about the organization visit their website at www.locksoflove.org

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Can I get that delivered?

New York City - an agoraphobics dream.

Not exactly the next catch phrase for New York's Convention and Visitor's Bureau, but if you don't like to leave the house this city is the place for you. Delivery is sometimes free and sometimes it will cost you a pretty penny - but you can get what you want brought right to your door.

Michael has been intrigued (I have too, but he actually took the time to put together the order) with the idea of getting groceries delivered through a company called 'Fresh Direct'. They are relatively popular in the city, they claim to have better meat/fish, fresher produce, and lower prices than the grocery store. They aren't cheap, but their prices are the same as or lower than the grocery store.



Our first delivery came today. Trixie supervised the unpacking of the boxes.



Our delivery time was between 10am and noon (you can pick the block of time that best fits your schedule). At 10:30 our 2 boxes arrived, the friendly delivery guy brought them up the stairs without complaint. (It's only one flight, but the mail man always grumbles about coming up the stairs)








The smaller box held the 'grocery' items - only these two bottles in this big old box!






Box #2, now we have some food! The box had a cardboard divider, right half held produce and the left half the meat and deli items. Everything was in a box, double boxed or bagged - no drips or spills. The first layer has the strawberries, blueberries, chicken and mushroom Marsala, fresh mozzarella cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and roasted red peppers. (This is making me hungry - can't wait for dinner tonight.)





First layer unpacked - second layer has red snapper on the left and HUGE portobello mushrooms, asparagus, a red onion, and kiwi fruit on the right. All of the produce is bagged and labeled, the asparagus had foam padding wrapped around the delicate tips.







Good thing the box is almost empty, the fridge is full. The last two items are some bagged arugula and a foam container with plum tomatoes. The tomatoes had some extra padding in the container, they were nice and bright red and not crushed or smushed even though they were at the bottom of the box.



A close up of our beautiful produce. What a harvest!



Roxy is so BORED - no catnip or Pounce in the box! Why would you get a delivery and not think about the cats, humans are so rude.



Roxy moved to enjoy some sun in the back window. Renovations last night opened up the space, making it more comfortable for cats with curves.




Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Dinner anyone?

Courtesy of my favorite G.I. - 2 MREs (Meal Ready to Eat) arrived in the mail today.

Pat sent us chicken with salsa and the vegetarian friendly cheese tortellini. He thought we might enjoy a nice romantic dinner for two - very considerate.

These are probably headed for the emergency supply kit - but don't think I'm not tempted to open them up and give myself a taste of Army life.

I wonder how many Weight Watchers points per meal? The nutritional labeling must be on the inside of the package.

Book Recommendation

Towel Folding 101!

This might not be for everyone, but for anyone who's been on a cruise and wondered how they make those great towel critters - all of your questions are answered.




The use of colored and striped towels really add a new dimension to the world of towel folding. I'll have to practice up before my guests arrive - a mere 10 days and Mel will be knocking on my door expecting a welcoming terry cloth creation.


Thanks to Miss Karen for this great find.




Monday, March 12, 2007

Book Recommendation

I received this book for my birthday, once I started reading I couldn't put it down.

In To Thin Air by Jon Krakauer

It's about climbing Mt. Everest. The book jacket provides a nice summary:

"This is the terrifying story of what really happened that fateful day at the top of the world, during what would be the deadliest season in the history of Everest. In this harrowing yet breathtaking narrative, Krakauer takes the reader along with his ill-fated expedition, step by precarious step from Kathmandu to the mountain's pinnacle where, plagued by a combination of hubris, greed, poor judgement, and plain bad luck, they would fall prey to the mountain's unpredictable fury."

This isn't my usual book genre, but maybe because it is so different and so real is why I found it interesting.

Now I'm completely hooked on Everest. We rented the IMAX movie, Expedition Everest. It was filmed the same season as Krakuer's quest. The IMAX team was lower on the mountain during the tragic storm - they helped with rescue efforts and shared carefully stocked supplies with stranded climbers. The film imagery is amazing and watching how it was made is truly incredible.

Now I want to visit Kathmandu. I don't need to climb Everest - seeing the movie was enough for me. It also got me thinking about other places/things I want to visit/see - the Great Wall in China, Mt. Fuji, Easter Island, the coast of Croatia, the Northern Lights are all on my list.

With the weather warming up Michael and I have plans to do some local trips - Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. That should help control the wanderlust.

So many places to go, so little vacation time.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Dream A Little Dream

For everyone who doesn't want to be at work today, the New York Mega Millions lottery is up to $340 Million!