Saturday, December 31, 2011

More NYC photos

I had originally wanted to post this last night after working on these few photos and a rousing day spent decompressing from my trip to NYC this week. I actually took a nap in the afternoon – something I rarely ever do – so this was how busy my day was. I did go out for lunch with co-workers to the new Olive Garden in town and I believe it was the single Italian margarita we all had that put me to sleep. My gosh, that thing was good. And they serve it with a shot of amaretto.

And then I watched The Adjustment Bureau. What a cool movie. Have you noticed yet how all-over-the-place this post is becoming?

So let’s get to the photos ~


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Along Columbus Avenue around 69th Street.


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The Apthorp on Broadway between 78th & 79th, is an historic apartment building that was built in the very early 1900’s.


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The older buildings are so incredible. I’m not sure where I was when I took this one. I just thought it was beautiful.


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As is this one with its cool water tower (if that’s what is on the top).


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I took this from our table at Robert on Columbus Circle because I was so taken with the pretty trees.


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There is so much to see and do in the city.

But I really am glad to be home again in my comfort zone.


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I’ve never been to Lincoln Center, and we didn’t go inside, but wow. We tourists were quite taken with the steps and their advertising lighting that changed every few seconds or so.

There was a flash mob here at Halloween on these very steps this past October that featured Kelly Ripa. Not that I’m a huge Kelly Ripa fan, mind you. But damn, that girl has a lot of energy. And she’s pretty funny.



And finally, because I’ve got to shake a leg here, I leave you with this. We are actually having company coming out tomorrow, which is fun. It’s just a very small gathering, which suits my husband well. He can’t take too many people – too many voices. I’ve got cleaning to do, grocery shopping, and maybe someone is getting a doggie bath.

But before I go, I want to wish you all a Happy New Year.

Let’s hope it’s a good one.


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Taken from my table at Robert with the lights of Broadway acting as the bokeh for this shot. The brush is a freebie download from French Kiss Textures that I found somewhere on their sidebar.

Happy New Year, my friends ~

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

In the city at Christmastime

I returned today from a trip to New York City to visit my friend, Daryl, and meet up with a few fellow blogging friends. And I took a train this time, which is a first for me. Seriously. I’ve never been on a train before.

I just got home and haven’t had a chance to edit very many photos but here are a few that I’ll share with you because there’s a border collie who is super excited to have me home and I must tend to his every need. This mostly consists of fetch-related games and lots of pets.


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It’s not New Yawk without the taxi cabs and during this trip, I rode in several of them. In one – and I kid you not – three of us were in the back and I was sitting in front and I actually had to tell the driver where to go. I think you should be very proud of me.

I told him he was a disgrace to taxi drivers everywhere and he told me it was his first day and could I please go easy on him. I’m kidding. I didn’t say anything about his geographic impediment and he told us all to ‘Have a Nice Day’.


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The ToonMan and his babies. That’s Jack on his lap and Rosie on the desk. ToonMan is Daryl’s husband and one of the coolest guys you’ll meet. And he loved the potholder I made for him with my own little hands and my Hip to Be Square Looper Loom.

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It was raining cats and dogs when we arrived Tuesday evening at Penn Station and after we got settled and dry, we headed out for a late dinner. On Wednesday, the rain had cleared but it was quite chilly and windy. It was great weather for walking, as far as I was concerned.

And walk we did.


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Daryl took us on a mini-tour and I love being in the city, going out in the morning and not getting back until mid-afternoon. I felt like I did so much. And saw so much.


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I have lens envy. Seriously – Daryl’s lens is cool and I’m going to save my pennies.

Nikon AF-s NIKKOR 28-300mm VR



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Across the street from Lincoln Center is a very cool timepiece.


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And I have a thing about sconces.


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Daryl and Janice in the Apple Store.


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Now ~ Of all the wonderful food that I enjoyed in the city, you may be wondering why this is the only shot I’m sharing today but I’m telling you – these fries were scrumptious. Served at Atlantic Grill, they’re gently seasoned with Old Bay, and the ketchup is delicately laced with wasabi. OMG.


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My day was ever so much better than this, thank you.


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The reason for my hat hair later that evening.


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That’s Maria in the background there. She joined us from Atlantic City, NJ.

Hi, Maria.


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And finally, the view from our table at Robert, a restaurant on the 9th floor of the Museum of Arts & Design on Columbus Circle.

Oh, be still, my heart.


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Straight ahead is Broadway and to the right is Central Park West. The elegant atmosphere, gorgeous food, and the incredible view put me on a dining experience high – something I rarely experience in my neck of the woods.

And speaking of rare experiences . . . there I was, sitting at one of the ultra cool cocktail tables and looking oh-so-terribly chic (not really) when someone tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if my name was Kate. It turned out to be one of my friends from the blogosphere, someone who wrote me and told me she’d be in the city this week. But the window of time when we’d be there together was so slim that we didn’t even make plans to meet. What a twist of fate that had us at the same place at the same time. She and her husband had been visiting the museum and had come up to the restaurant for cocktails and were just about to leave. Hi, Gail and Robert! It was so nice to meet you.


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My son met us for cocktails and ending up staying for dinner. Probably because the company was so darn interesting. And fun. And please do not note my hat hair. Oh, shit – made you look.

As great a time I had, it’s so good to be home in my comfort zone again. But oh, what fun to be in New York at Christmastime! More to come tomorrow ~

Until then, my friends . . .

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Monday, December 26, 2011

And then it was quiet

I had myself a merry little Christmas, and I am hoping that you did, as well. Our sons have left and all is quiet here again at the manor house on the hill. Yesterday afternoon, there was lots of laughter and lots of family at my in-laws home in NJ. In fact, it was a bit too much for my husband, as he prefers the quiet here.

But it was just what I needed.

Today, my husband called me to the window and pointed outside. And there, sitting on one of the large branches of the dogwood tree right outside our kitchen window, was a beautiful hawk.

I went to get the camera. And then to get the long lens, and then . . .

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the hawk was gone. The little junco above was taken about an hour later from my bedroom window.

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This was all I captured of the hawk.

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This afternoon, I watched a Netflix movie that I’d never seen before. And I watched it from my tv. Our son gave us a Sony media streamer for Christmas and then set it up for us. It’s so cool to be able to stream movies on the big screen. Today, I watched A Christmas Carol (2009), the Disney film directed by Robert Zemeckis and featuring 3D CG animation. Jim Carrey voices Scrooge, plus all of the ghosts. Colin Firth, Bob Hoskins, Robin Wright Penn, and Gary Oldham, to mention a few, round out the cast. At times, I felt like I was on a Dickens Disney ride, as I swooped over the snow-covered, bitter cold streets of Victorian London. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this version of Charles Dickens’ classic tale.

And it’s on stream at Netflix. Here’s the trailer:


I am not particularly fond of this trailer, however.

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My husband bought me new hiking shoes for Christmas and they’re really very nice Solomons and although I would have never bought shoes this color, they’re excellent on the trail. I tested them out today.

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The skies today were sometimes sunny, sometimes cloudy and always interesting.

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And the sunset this afternoon. Can you see the moon? This is another photo opportunity pointed out to me by my husband.

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On Tuesday afternoon, I am leaving for New York City to visit friends, so I won’t be posting until I get home Thursday evening. I’ll be taking the train with {her}, then meeting {her} at Penn Station, then meeting {her} for dinner on Wednesday. I can’t wait and am so looking forward to having some fun in the Big City at Christmastime.

I’ll try to get some photos to share ~ but here are some from last year:

New York City at Christmastime

Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas

Hope your holiday week is a good one, my friends.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Eve

It’s late and I’ve just put out the presents before heading to bed on this Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, now I can’t seem to get to sleep. So I decided to talk to you before I turn in.

 It’s been a quiet few days here at the manor house and it’s been really nice having our son home. Our youngest turned up today with his backpack and his guitar, and proceeded to play us a song he’d been practicing.

I actually began crying because it was so beautiful.

And because he plays by ear, it makes it even more incredible to me. He’s taught himself the guitar, and has been playing just over a year now. Today we listened to him play Led Zeppelin’s ‘The Rain Song’.

If you’ve never heard this before, it’s really quite beautiful. It was a ballad constructed by Jimmy Page, with lyrics by Robert Plant who always considered it his best vocal performance.

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My son’s rendition was beautiful.

(to listen to the original, click {here}). It’s a long song, but just listening to the beginning will give you a clue. And make some of you remember ~

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Call me a sentimental fool, I don’t care. But I will always remember this gift. And this moment, sitting next to my husband on the couch, listening to music I hadn’t heard since the 70’s coming from our son’s guitar, well it was pretty moving.

Ok. I’ll stop now.

I’ll stop and share some random photos taken throughout the day and the evening.

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I am a cookie baking fool.

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I love these. They have a sort of cake-like consistency.

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My eldest son made me a sandwich for lunch today that a friend of his copied from a restaurant they used to love in college. This is a Chicken Cali, an open-faced sandwich with Boar’s Head sliced chicken, a layer of gouda cheese, a slice of pineapple, and BBQ sauce, served on sourdough bread. Totally yummy.

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Taken from the front door just after sunset on this somewhat mild Christmas Eve.

I love my view.

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I want to wish all of you a wonderful, peaceful holiday. I hope it’s full of things that gladden your heart. Thank you for your visits to my space here, for your encouraging words and support, and for your friendship.

And now someone else would like to say Merry Christmas . . .

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: : :

Until next time, my friends . . .

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

There’s only splendor for the sight

Today was gray, but not terribly cold and I had a lot to do inside. I got up before sunrise because I wanted to get it all done, but take it slow. Vacuuming, dusting, and getting the guest rooms ready for my sons when they come home was first on the list. Wrapping the rest of the presents later on made me realize how few I really have, but I’m telling myself that it’s the quality, not the quantity that matters.

I made a batch of sugar cookies, then baked them and let them cool before applying royal icing and sugar sparkles. And all the while, I took it easy – trying not to overdo it. The Christmas music helped, although I’m not a huge fan of Michael Buble (but it’s the only CD in the house that I could find).

I took some photos, too, in between wondering where all my Christmas CD’s were hiding.


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The bureau in the dining room.


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The bookcase shelves in the living room.


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I’m not a huge fan of Yankee candles either, but they are the only thing that fits this cute little glass lamp shade. Ok, let me rephrase that. I like Yankee candles just fine, especially their fall and winter scents. But when it comes to Christmas candles, I prefer Votivo.

Geez, I sound like an elitist. But if you smelled Votivo’s holiday collection, you would understand completely. And that’s the name of that.


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My royal icing job is a tad sloppy but I prefer it to the hyper-neat. I have the best sugar cookie recipe – one that I’ve been using it since the 70’s. It’s from the Betty Crocker cookbook.


1 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. almond extract

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cream of tartar

Mix thoroughly butter, confectioners’ sugar, egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Blend flour with baking soda and cream of tartar using a whisk, then gradually add to butter & sugar mixture until dough forms. Cover and chill 2-3 hours.

Heat oven to 375. Divide dough in half. Roll each half about 3/16 inch thick on lightly floured board. Cut into desired shapes. Place on lightly greased cookie sheet (I used parchment paper) and bake 7 to 8 minutes or until light brown on edges.

TIP – Freeze the cookie shapes for about 8 minutes before putting them into the oven. This avoids spreading, and they’ll retain their crisp edges. I also sift the confectioners’ sugar before adding to the butter.

Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, 1969


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I love the beauty of bare branches.

Last night I watched ‘The Bishop’s Wife’, and the night before, ‘The Family Stone’. I’m running out of holiday flicks and might do a Back to the Future marathon instead. I love those movies.


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I’m thinking of entering this one in the holiday bokeh thing at PW’s. I love this little tree. Got the brushes from French Kiss. They were a free download on their FB page.

Tomorrow I pick up my son at the train station in Philadelphia and then we’ll have lunch with my niece, Emily. Fun ~

Thanks for stopping by and visiting my little corner of the world. Means much to see you here. Enjoy your days ~

123 Signature[5]

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!
From base to summit, gay and bright,
There's only splendor for the sight.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
Thy candles shine so brightly!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Cookies and sparkles

It’s been wonderful having a holiday from work, and I’ve been doing things that make my heart glad. The cookie exchange was fun and I came home with some delicious treats that are difficult to stay away from.

I guess my cookies were all right, because I got a text later that night from one of our former students who was home from college. Her mom had come home from the exchange and shared some of the treats with the family. The text read:

Hey, Mrs. Young, it’s Madison. I’m planning on eating your entire bag of cookies. They’re banging!!!

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I made White Chocolate Kissed  Gingerbread Cookies, and heard of this recipe on Pinterest. It was originally posted on the McCormick spice website. I love gingerbread (as does my husband), and the addition of the white and milk chocolate piece adds an extra punch. The gingerbread is slightly crunchy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside, which is the way I like it.

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Click on the link below for the easy-to-make recipe. The dough takes 4 hours to chill, so plan accordingly – and make sure your kisses are unwrapped before you take the cookies out of the oven ~

White Chocolate Kissed Gingerbread Cookies

I got the quote stamp {here}, from Kim Klassen.


Oh, I just love this song.

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I also love the glow of candlelight.

This is one of my favorite decorations and is in the upstairs landing. Night is beginning to fall and I don’t even care that it starts getting dark by 4:30. The winter solstice is tomorrow and then the days will begin to get a little bit longer.

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There’s a garden shop nearby that has a big after Christmas sale every year. All their holiday d├ęcor is 50% off, and that’s when I got this twig, feather, and pine cone spray a few years ago. I love it.

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Something else I love is wrapping presents. Last night I poured a small glass of sherry, put on my Christmas tunes, and wrapped a few presents. These are gifts for blogging friends I’m meeting in NYC over the holidays.

I am taking the train up, and meeting one of them for the ride. (So excited!)

Two months ago, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to leave my husband, but he’s doing quite allright. And I need this ~ I really do.

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This one has border collie bokeh in it. Oh, and speaking of bokeh, PW is having another ‘Holiday Bokeh’ photography assignment. Check her site to find out more about it.

Holiday Bokeh Alert

Thank you for all of your visits, your kind comments, and for following me over the years. It’s been a pleasure sharing my photography with you and I cannot believe that come December 26th, it will be four years since I began this blog.

So much has happened in four years ~

Enjoy your day.
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ps - I'm linking this post up with Farmchick's blog, for her recipe swap. Check it out for more foodie goodness or to join in with a recipe and post of your own by clicking on the button below.

Fresh from the Farm Recipe Swap with Farmchick