Friday, December 05, 2008

And the Stockings Were Hung

Jason and lil' CJO needed new Christmas stockings.

I found this great fabric in Utah (center of the universe for all things crafty) and whipped up these beauties.

It took me a while to figure out how I was going to do the names - I didn't think stitching them across the top would work because of the multi-colors in the fabric. Finally inspiration hit and I knew I wanted to use just a single big initial. I found these great chipboard stickers last night. I mounted them on light cardboard and hung them with wire rings. The single initial makes them look modern even though the fabric has a vintage feel.

Hope Santa approves!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

taste like crap.

Winter brings the roasted chestnuts to the street vendor carts. I've always wanted to try them and I finally did last Sunday.

Wow was I disappointed.

The shells slip off easily to reveal the nut flesh.

The nuts themselves are very soft and taste almost like a bean/legume - they are not nutty.

The best thing I can say about the experience is at least I've tried them.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

New Compact Size

Now in baby size - a patchwork throw made out of Jason's old aloha shirts.
It's backed with super soft fleece and trimmed with a nice band of satin.
This is CJ's Christmas present, good thing he can't read yet and ruin his surprise.

Words Can't Describe

The bond between a cat and her human.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Yay for Girlfriends!

Last weekend my CA buddies flew in to the city for shopping, eating, and general mayhem. We kept the mayhem to a minimum but did manage to shop until we dropped.

Mel flew in Wed night so she could have her Soho shopping day. She's an expert at hopping on the 6 train to Spring St. I was able to take a half day on Thursday and warmed up for the main shopping event with some great purchases at Uniqlo. Post shopping we took a nice long breat at Teany - I had some fabulous Earl Grey Creme tea and a super rich chocolate brownie. Mel's tea wasn't our fav - a melon flavored white tea that was a bit weak and a HUGE cookie. Seriously the cookie would have been enough for 3 people.

After our spot of tea we enjoyed a tasty dinner at Bondi Bar. Home of Toohey's New and blue drinks. This time Mel cleared the bar of the Toohey's and we both stayed away from anything blue. Annie and Bex flew in late Thursday night, we decided to wait for them at their hotel -but made them think we were already home for the night (hee hee).

We totally surprised them at the hotel - which was really fun. They were hungry so we wandered a bit through mid-town to find a place for them to eat. We went somewhere Micheal and I have never gone before and will probably never go again - Mimi's (and not the chain, some piano bar/restaurant in mid-town NYC). The food was fine, but the scene was surreal. There was live piano entertainment that just can't be described. Singing, dancing, toothless women and a pianist in drag - what more can you want at 1am?

Friday morning came way too early. Micheal left for CA (and yes, USC beat Cal!) and then the party really started. To make sure we had strength for shopping we had a tasty lunch at Nick's. White pizza with ricotta and mozzarella and salad (house salad for A&B and Caesar for K&M). The thin crust pizza fresh out of the brink oven was outstanding as usual.

Credit cards ready we headed off to Lucky Shops. Bex snapped this great shot along the way. All photos are credited to her - I get totally lazy when she is around, because I know she is so good about taking pix. I know, we all rely on her to capture the memories - we need to be better about that!

We made it, let the shopping begin....

We should have taken a photo on the way out too - it would have been funny to see the before and after.

This photo below is from the Rebecca Taylor booth - I love her designs, especially her suits. Even though Bex didn't love it, I did get the shirt I'm trying on. She liked everything but the pleating on the sleeves - but I thought that was a fun detail. I wore it yesterday and I'm quite happy with the purchase, the color goes with many items already in my wardrobe. I am totally coveting the animal print sweater Annie found. It is so cute and flattering - how did I miss it on the rack?

This dress looked great on Mel from the front, but way too big in the back - so no luck in this booth, but never fear she didn't leave the event empty handed.

After 5 hours of shopping we came home with all kinds of fabulous purchases. Mel and I scored on an amazing Kooba bag, Annie's managed to find an absolutely perfect Shoshanna LBD, and Bex picked up a timeless black skirt.

We enjoyed a lovely dinner at Candle 79 (the vegan restaurant we discovered during the Waldron family visit). The food was outstanding, but the photos weren't so pretty - it must be really hard to be a food stylist on a photo shoot.

Our dinner order for the night:

Annie - Seitan Piccata creamed spinach, grilled potato cake, oyster mushrooms, lemon-caper sauce

Mel - Black Pepper & Balsamic Grilled Seitan potato-celeriac purée, sautéed wild mushrooms, haricots verts, shallots, roasted vegetable au jus

Bex - Porcini Crusted Tofu garlic mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, cabernet-wild mushroom sauce

KO - Cornmeal Crusted Eggplant Napoleon tofu spinach ravioli, roasted tomato sauce, cashew cream, broccoli raab, arugula-pine nut pesto

And once again we had dinner and a show. Instead of the piano player and his crazy fans we had a girl at the bar pass out right in front of our table. She just toppled right over and landed with a big thud about 3 feet away from us. In spite of Bex telling the self appointed person in charge to call 9-1-1, she didn't. She claimed this had happened to her a month ago and all that was needed to fix the situation was to give the woman that passed out some salt?! Luckily the bartender had the sense to call for help. EMTs were there within minutes and the drama was moved away from our table and outside. We think she was taken to a hospital, but we don't really know.

After dinner we managed to score the coveted back booth at Trinity. Just one round of drinks before we called it a night and headed home.

Except for a rainy Saturday afternoon the weather totally cooperated - we didn't need to wear excessive layers or even gloves!

Saturday started out with bagels and undergarment fittings at Intimacy. Nothing can make a woman happier than getting the girls locked and loaded.

Next stop - The Plaza! After months and months of renovations the hotel is open and in full splendor.

Luckily Eloise is back, right at home in the beautiful lobby and looking over tea at Palm Court.

Of course Bex had to pick up a little something something for M - and look at this treasure trove. I bet she would love to just have this entire cabinet in her bedroom!

The sales woman has the best expression on her face - I think Bex said she was surprised to have her photo taken, but even better look at the bag. Total score for Bex because she was out of plastic bags, so it was an upgrade to the fancy handle bag.

And if you think you can't have something as wonderful as this Tsar Nicholoas II Baccarat commissioned candelabra in your home, think's for sale! I didn't see a price tag, maybe it's on the bottom?

The rain started as we were leaving the Plaza. We did a little bit of window shopping down 5th Ave, but quickly caught a cab - window shopping in the rain just isn't much fun.

Rose joined us for lunch at craftbar. (And I know everyone else probably hates this picture, but since I look decent, it's in the blog post!)

We shared some very tasty starters - the Peccorino fondue with hazelnuts and spicy honey

and the chickpea fries with black olive aioli. Rose also suggested a very tasty cheese - but I don't remember the name now. Something with Bliss in it - I would definitely get that again.

I had one of my favorite brunch items at craftbar - white anchovies, soft boiled egg, and leeks over toast. Finally - a good picture of this very tasty dish.

We walked off lunch by having a few adventures in Canal St. We didn't have quite the adventures as the last time Bex was here, but did pick up a few choice items. The selection wasn't as good as in the past - maybe the economy is slowing down on the black market as well?

Still pushing to do as much as possible we made two more stops on the way home - Dylan's Candy Bar for some sweet treats and some accessories at Laila Rowe.

Whew - what a day! After all of that we had sushi for dinner and one last drink at Uptown.

Yay for my girlfriends and Yay for an amazing weekend!

Monday, November 03, 2008

NYC Marathon 2008

So I started this post and didn't finish - this was supposed to be posted Monday Nov. 3rd....

The streets were shut down most of yesterday to accommodate the thousands of people running the New York Marathon.
The marathon brings out an unexpected side of the city. So many people line the streets to cheer on the runners. Most runners put their names on their jerseys and as they run people shout out their name and yell encouragement. It's really touching to see the crowds reach out to the runners.

We're right in between people running up 1st Ave headed to the Bronx and 5th Ave where they turn in to Central Park, almost at the end of the race.
I decided to watch the runners just as they made the turn in to Central Park. When I got out to the streets the last of the wheelchair racers were headed to the finish line. The crowds were cheering like crazy for each racer that rolled by - Time Warner was handing out cow bells, between the clang of the bells, the claps, and the cheers the racers has plenty to keep them motivated.
The picture below shows the turn in to Central Park at 90th. The crowds on the corner would shout how they were almost done and to keep going. There was one wheelchair racer who just looked exhausted, as he turned the corner he grabbed the wheels gave a big heave and then hoisted his arms in to the air - the crowd went wild, they were on their feet cheering him in to the park. It was so emotional.
I waited about 15 minutes and the leader (and winner) passed by - first the official time truck, then the cameras and police escort
and then the leader. She's really hard to see in this photo - but look towards the right side her shoes and gloved hands stand out among the crowd. Her stride was amazing - by this point she had completely broken away from the pack and was clearly in command of the race. She went by so quickly I couldn't even get in another photo.

I waited for the leaders in the men's race and then packed my cow bell away for next year. I always think I want to run a marathon - but really I'm more suited for cheering from the sidelines.

More than just costumes on Halloween

Of course I wanted to make some Halloween cupcakes for Michael to take to the office. Completely from scratch, I made some tasty pumpkin spice cupcakes with cinnamon buttercream frosting. They were so delicious and the spider rings on top were a bit hit.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Those Unemployed Fat Cats on Wall St

Hearing about all of the fat cats on Wall St. losing their jobs,
Sadie decides to post her resume.

Happy Halloween from all the fat (and not so fat) cats in NYC!

Best BLT Ever!

I had the most amazing BLT Sunday night.

We went way up to Dinosaur BBQ, way up on 131st and 12th Ave - definitely a neighborhood I haven't visited before.

Immediately when you walk in you get hit with a great smoky BBQ smell.

We started with the deviled eggs, they were totally overfilled and a little spicy - absolutely amazing.

For dinner I ordered the ultimate BLT. It was thick sliced, crispy, hickory smoked bacon, lettuce, and fried green tomatoes on a roll with a garlic mayo. It was so decadent and delicious. I ate every bite and saved my sides for lunch the next day.

I love it when you something familiar but it has been taken to a new level.

I can't wait to go back!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Country Roads Take Me Home

Well it's been over a month so it's about time I write about our 5 day get away to Virginia and West Virginia.

We headed out early Wednesday morning on the train to Charlottesville, Virginia. We arrived in the early afternoon and picked up our rental car. We don't have AAA any more, so we had to head to a gas station to get a map of the area. The rental car place handed us some kind of cartoon style map that wasn't going to get us across the street without getting lost! The weather was cool and rainy, but we didn't care - we were headed to West Virginia.

A few hours later we pulled in to the Lewisburg Super 8. We headed to the small downtown to find a place to eat. We had dinner at the Stardust Cafe, from the outside it looked like a typical diner - on the inside it was a very nice little bistro. It was lit with low lights and lots of candles. The menu was surprisingly sophisticated. Michael had this amazing Mediterranean salad that was served with rice.

Thursday morning (after biscuits and gravy at Bob Evans) we headed to the Greenbrier Resort. This is the home of the now decommissioned secret Congressional fallout shelter. (I think they are still doing secret stuff there, you can't take photos on the tour and the mysterious CSXIP company has blocked off many areas for private business, supposedly data storage - but that just sounds like a cover to me.)

The resort is very old and prestigious. The decor was over the top, and in some ways it reminded me of Hotel Del Coronado - just older elegance that isn't quite in fashion now, but you appreciate it's beauty and style regardless.

We started the day with the Bunker Tour. It was really fascinating to see how it was built and maintained. Parts of the bunker were actually used during conventions as exhibition space - so quite brilliantly some of the bunker was actually hidden in plain sight. It makes me wonder where the bunker is now, and what about the Presidential bunker - where is that hidden?

After the tour we explored the hotel. It was raining and pretty chilly, so we skipped walking the extensive grounds and just roamed the halls. Of course I had to check out a ladies room - the photos below are the 'sitting room' area.

And the best part, no paper hand towels - just nice thick cloth towels stacked neatly by the sink.

We left the Greenbrier and headed to Lexington, Virginia. Lexington set us up for a nice drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway Friday morning. We took our time driving to Lexington and drove on small back roads whenever possible. One of our favorite sights was an outhouse with the Confederate flag attached to one side. We didn't stop for a photo because I was afraid we might get shot - but it gave us a good laugh.

Downtown Lexington has that typical small town charm - cute store fronts that all close by 5pm. It would be a great place for a movie, since all of the businesses close so early you could film without disrupting business.

We found a pretty tasty spot for dinner, The Southern Inn. This time I won the meal lottery and my dinner was better than Michael's - a caprese sandwich with delicious fresh mozzarella cheese. After dinner we headed to Walmart and then the pool at the Sleep Inn. It was great - they had an indoor heated pool with spa that we had to ourselves all night.

In the morning we started our day with a hearty meal at Waffle House. I love Waffle House, we ate there several times when driving across country on the college graduation trip. The food is simple, good, and cheap - I had the fabulous pecan waffle, just as good as I remember. I could eat like that every morning (of course I would weigh 300 pounds, but I don't like to think about that side of Waffle House).

From Waffle House we hit the Blue Ridge Parkway - it's a two lane road that winds the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountain range. The scenery was breath taking. The weather was clearing we had blue skies and views for miles.

Very often we were the only car on the road. We had a pretty loose time line, so we pulled over at just about every lookout or view point.

This spot was beautiful - it told the story of the old logging railroad that used to run through the area. Luckily they had lots of signage to let you know spots with great views or historical significance.

The tracks don't go anywhere now, but they make for some great photos.

Farther along the trail these stairs took you up to a small creek and waterfall. I was hiking around in my Prada flats, so I wasn't too adventurous (you can take me to the country but I'm still all city).

Of course Michael used his new camera with the super zoom to get some fantastic shots of the scenery.

We exited the Blue Ridge Parkway in the early afternoon.

And wandered through some of the vineyards (and tasting rooms) in Western Virginia.

We tasted some really good wines. Some of the tasting rooms were small and well established while some were brand new and obviously built to also hold events like parties and weddings. All of them had a nice variety of wines available for tasting and the staff was very knowledgeable about what they were pouring. We came home with a few new bottles for the wine rack.

Friday afternoon we took the late tour of Monticello - home of Thomas Jefferson.

His home was an architectural masterpiece and a well designed working farm. Thomas Jefferson was incredibly well read and educated, he spoke 5 languages and when the British burned down the Library of Congress in 1812 he donated his 7,000 volume private library to begin building the new Library of Congress. For anyone that thinks our president should be a 'common man' - look at our founding fathers, they were the smartest most well educated men at the time and I think they did a pretty good job establishing the framework for our nation. (OK, I'm off my soapbox for now....)

Monticello had beautiful grounds that not only had tons of beautiful flowering plants but acres of vegetable and fruit gardens.

Saturday morning we met up with Michael's friend Bill and went to USC's first game of the football season vs the University of Virginia.

While picture was takeon on the UVA campus, the background might look familiar. Thomas Jefferson designed the school, there was actually a spot at Monticello (about 5 miles away) where he could sit out and watch the dome in the background of the photo above being built.
The campus was beautiful and many of the girls were little Southern Belles dressed in cute sundresses and strappy sandals.

The game was an easy win for USC and therefore a blast to watch. What a way to start the season!

Sunday morning we took one more tour through wine country and visited the small town of Crozet. It will only sound familiar to those of you who read the Sneaky Pie Brown mystery books - of course I have read them all and loved seeing the small town that is the setting for the books. We ate lunch at a small and pretty tasty little Mexican restaurant - well done Crozet. Then it was time to get on the train and head back to NYC.

Michael might be ready to move to West Virginia. He loved the country roads and small towns. As for me as long as we are close to a major airport and living in (or near by) a college town I'm good to go! I'm guessing we wouldn't get too many visitors though.....