Sunday, January 31, 2016

Annual (?) Epic Brunch - January 31, 2015

January 31, 2015 horoscopes:

Aquarius

Even though it's the weekend, you still have to deal with some fiscal matters and other responsibilities. If you feel like you don't have a moment to yourself, decide which things must get done and which you'd like to do, but aren't high priority. Also, it's important to make some time for loved ones.

Don't let other people hurry you along this weekend. Keep moving ahead at your own sweet pace and everything that has to get done will get done. More importantly, it will get done correctly. Someone has to keep standards high.**

Yes, even though I have other responsibilities, I have/had decided that there are things that I have to do and they involve the high priority of making time to see friends - because it's been/had been far too many months.

One of the best parts of meeting up with friends for brunch is spending time catching up. The worst parts of meeting up with friends for brunch is that every other group of friends in NYC wants to do the same thing at the same time. Restaurants get loud. There are lines of people waiting for your table. The restaurants want to turn over the table. You don't get to really linger. Also, NYC is WAY too small - you inevitably can't do the venting you need to because someone is around, you fear someone is around, and/or you have to rush around to go on to your next appointment of the day. Because there are inevitably multiple appointments of the day, even if it's a weekend day.

UNLESS!

Unless your friend has a rare thing: an apartment with a huge kitchen with room for people to sit at a table that will fit up to 6, so you can spread out and chat. 
Unless she offers it up as a meeting place - AND offers to cook, so you make it a pot-luck gathering.
Unless you have a mutual assurance pact in place that you have all blocked off at least 3 or 4 hours to really linger, talk, and delve deep.

This was this kind of rare brunch with Ruyi and Matt - at Ruyi's Upper East Side walk-up. 
(Can I just note, her actual cooking/counter-space is just as limited as mine - and not anywhere like all those "standard" kitchens shown on HGTV, and yet, look what we produced.)
Ruyi made some kind of buck-wheat crepes (from scratch), as well as a shrimp alfredo (from scratch) - with Matt's able sous chef assistance. (Smart. Matt's done some culinary school.) We all come from different culinary backgrounds, so you never know what all we'll bring, but somehow it all coalesces into a perfect NYC brunch.

She put me to work assembling these yogurt trifle parfaits, (thank you, years of party prep from Caramoor and hours of FoodNetwork/Cooking Channel),
 
 as well as making up and tossing a side salad, assembling the salmon crostini, and putting out other "apps" like the spicy nuts and sweet rugelach I had brought, and the rest of the fruit and beverages.

 What a pretty table. 
What a yummy meal.
 What a nice thing NOT to be rushed, or stressing over orders or finances.
 Cheers to good company. 
Cheers to the chef(s). 
Pass the shrimp while it's hot. 
Let's eat!

It was really good to sit and talk. After working together at the Big J, Matt is/was the only still working there. We're all heading in different directions, so being able to connect over food, get to talk about challenges/goals, and then get to talk to Ruyi's sister about the same, AND play with Ruyi's cat ... It was a really great afternoon.

And unfortunately - it took us a WHOLE year to get our schedules to coordinate to do any kind of gathering again.

I was all nice and relaxed - but then I made a strategic error of trying to grocery shop at an UES Fairway, the weekend before the SuperSportsBallCupThingy. The line to check-out literally snaked all the around the store and out the door. By that point, (an hour in?), I was committed. NEVER AGAIN!


** This is actually evergreen advice, no matter the year. Maybe I can get it put on a needlepoint or tattooed on the inside of my arm so I always see it.

~ photos by iTouch

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Annual (?) Epic Brunch 2016 Edition

What a difference a week makes. 
Last Saturday was a Blizzard - yes, with a capital B!
What a beautiful Blue sky.

It took months of scheduling but I was heading into NYC to my OTHER Upper West Side 'hood, near the former Mannes Library building, for brunch with Matt and Ruyi, friends from the Big J years. We're all over the place these days - geographically in NY and professionally, so we rotate neighborhoods for brunches. 

In previous years, we've had crepes on the Upper East Side, brunched at Sarabeth's on the Upper West Side, and brunched at home on the Upper East Side (see future post). Somehow though, I haven't persuaded them to come North to Westchester or to Caramoor/Katonah. ONE OF THESE DAYS! It is TIME.

I can't quite do justice in describing the hipster vibe of the southern pickle, biscuit, booze, and chicken place that is set in the middle of the Upper West Side, looking lost - as if it should be in Brooklyn. Even at 10:30, there was a line spilling out onto the street. Waiting list parties were paged by texts, hung out in front of wall freezers full of citrus and bottles of hand squeezed juices, and started drinking before they got to sit down.


Brunch portions were ... LARGE.
Fried - Artisanally, of course ...
with Beverages for the Boozy Folks and Bills Served in Mason Jars...
served by Waitstaff in Beanies, Man Buns, or BMIs that were too too low.

Ya'll -- Fried Pickles are good.
Heck.
Fried anything is good.

I think this is Matt's Sausage Gravy Smothered Fried Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich with a side of Cheesy Grits.
Ruyi's introduction to America's Southern cuisine, Biscuits and Gravy: Biscuits and Mushroom Gray with Scrambled Eggs
And - can we just talk about this Southern BLT?
I'll break it down for you - because that's how I had to attempt to eat this 8 inch tall "sandwich":

Nitrate Free Bacon
2 Panko-Encrusted Fried Green Tomatoes
Pickle Slaw (mostly coleslaw)
A Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast
a Biscuit
with a 
Side of Cheesy Grits

As we were being served, three different people (dudes, mostly), were asking me - WHAT IS THAT?

What is was, was a way to measure the pretention and hipster levels of my pretentious hipster brunch location aka HIGHER than this no-need to eat for the rest of the day meal. I didn't finish all the biscuit, slaw, OR grits. Or eat, for the rest of the day.

Also, to note - of COURSE we all took pictures and Instagrammed/Tweeted them. I think the fine print of the menu told us we had to, to tag the restaurant, to #hashtag the meal, and to Yelp it. I am POINTEDLY NOT mentioning the name of the restaurant, or a bunch of that other stuff. NO!

After brunch, on the way back to Grand Central, Ruyi and I looked back fondly at our time at Lincoln Center, 
 
 HEY! We worked near there!
 We were those goobers in the subway taking funny photos. Sorry locals. 

(Though to be fair, I looked enough like a local that I had two different people ask me for directions on my way to brunch. What is it about my face that says, Ask me for directions? -- Is the "L" on my forehead for "Librarian" flashing and I don't know it? I did help them out, however.)

I miss these characters. We need another meet-up soon. We didn't get to spend as long as we needed to catch up. Not like last year.
 

Artwork is part of Arts for Transit installations throughout the City:
This station has an artwork installed in 1989 entitled Westside Views by Nitza Tufiño. The artists are students of Manhattan Community Board 7 and the Grosvernor House. Scenes include 72nd Street, medians on Broadway, FDNY, kids at play, Ida Straus memorial in Straus Park, boats at the 79th Street Boat Basin, New York Buddhist Church Street vendors, and a New York City Bus. A poem entitled West Side Views by student Pedro Pieti is also featured.

per Wikipedia 

~ photos by iPhone

Photos of the Day: Snow Cap'd - January 30, 2015


Caramoor's Greenhouses
January 30, 2015

~photos by iTouch

Friday, January 29, 2016

Photos of the Day: Not the Hot Seat - January 29, 2015


 What a difference a season
and a snowstorm makes
Usually these seats are hot property
The Spanish Courtyard
Rosen House
Caramoor
January 29, 2015

~photos by iTouch

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Photo of the Day: Sunset Signs of Hope

The days are getting longer.
If you catch an earlier train, and remember to look up,
you'll catch sight of some fiery ribbons of light.

~ photo by iPhone

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Photo of the Day: Current Mood Masks

Imagine if we could actually wear actual masks to work, 
and not have to pretend with our faces and/or body language?

I would wear this guy A LOT!

Do you think people would leave me alone to do my work 
OR ACTUALLY DO WHAT I ASK THEM TO DO?!

Anyway.

Spotted, in the Education Center at Work last fall, when I was staying over ...
Along, with you know, a random accordion.

BECAUSE WHY NOT?

Gosh. 
Imagine if I could wear an accordion around all the time
and play myself a soundtrack.

PEOPLE WOULD DEFINITELY TAKE ME SERIOUSLY THEN!
 

~ photos by iTouch


Monday, January 25, 2016

Drew's Second Decade: Happy Birthday!

So, this kid is probably somewhere on the other side of the country 
eating more pie or cake or something to celebrate his 11th Birthday!
How is my eldest nephew 11? Today? How does he turn 11 today?

He's had quite a year. School, family, family trips, and 
especially the trip he and mom took to Washington, D.C. in the spring. 
(Thanks for the pictures Kelli via Grumpa.)
 From the temple, to the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum,
 to his first train/subway ride, and the super steep subway escalator,
 he and Mom were tuckered out by the end.

He's quite the big brother to Cannon and Sarah, 
with all the odd and conflicted dynamics that being a big sibling, particularly being a
big brother to a brother, and a big brother to a sister entails.
 On the one hand, there's teaching about FOOTBALL!
 Drew, even though they may bug you, you still have them eating out of your hands.
 On the other, I know you sometimes just want to play pretend on your own,
 but they pick up weapons skills too quickly
 and manage to hit you in the face. 

But even after some initial sibling screaming and squabbling, 
they still want to hang out and just watch you, and see what you are up to,
 even when you are trying to chill in front of the cartoons after a hard day of 5th Grade, 
basketball, Scouts, homework, and "just life."
(Sarah juuuuust had to see how close she could get to poking him in the head with her toes.)

Luckily, Drew's swinging some outside interests of his own, 
and running away from the rat race with his Dad and friends.
Which is really awesome.

But MY favorite part of the year is when we get to hang out, just the two of us (and hundreds of other people in a crowded games facility), or eat and talk, or play games with our own rules, or go hiking.
Drew, I know you were annoyed that you were 2 inches too short
 to drive the Go-Kart on your own, but soon kid ...
Too soon, TOO TOO SOON, *
you will be more than big enough to drive your own car - and then, we shall see.

Happy Birthday, Drewbie.

Why are you growing up so fast?
Stop it.





~photos from all over the place, c. his folks, Grumpa, iTouch, and iPhone

*Maybe my bruise from trying to get OUT of the Go-Kart will heal by then. Seriously, I still have a bruise - and this happened on Black Friday. MONTHS ago.
 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Do You Wanna build a Snowman? Jonas Edition

So, the kids in Idaho have been already having fun this winter, playing out in the snow, building snowmen, and monkeying about.
Yesterday's Winter Storm Jonas was the first one for New York, and the weather forecasting models kept changing the ETA and estimated snowfall totals.

This was my view for most of the day (snowflakes by the Idaho kids),
 and then later in the afternoon as it really started to show it wasn't going to be "just" 6 inches,
by nightfall, it was obvious it was feet of snow, plus drifting, and then the "blow back" plows and blowers.
 What you can't see on the streetlight above, is the foot-long icicles that are hanging off the light.
What you also can't see in the last few photos, is the mesh from the screen window. In trying to "throw up the stash," something happened, and it came off in my hand and almost blew away. Have you tried to hold a phone and wrangle a screen window in during blizzard force winds? I do not recommend it. I also don't recommend looking at all the black gunk that I washed off the screen. Yuck.
This morning I ventured out and across the street to get the Sunday papers, but, despite our street being relatively clear by 9a.m., there were no papers. (We also didn't get mail yesterday.)
I am VERY grateful I didn't have to undig a car today, or fight for parking the rest of the winter. I did wish I had a shovel to start working on the 3ft radius around this hydrant--for about a hot second and then I laughed at myself. Undigging these STAT is ingrained into me - and then this morning the need for snow removal in front of hydrants was made evident when a major fire ripped through a building in Hell's Kitchen. Hopefully someone undug this hydrant on my street.
All in all, storm was ... uneventful for me, thankfully. I read 2 books, talked on the phone, hung around, wrote notes, ate, and stayed warm. Kind of wished it happened on a weekday so I could have "worked from home," but the season is still young. Whoops. Maybe I shouldn't jinx it.

At least SOME people had fun with "storm/snow zilla"