Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Sunday in NYC

When we head to NYC, I don't want to miss a thing. It was the beautiful warm-for-the-season Sunday after Christmas. We weren't alone on the streets. Festivity was in the air. There will be many photos here, but I want to show the bounty before we're off again. We're doing a lot of traveling in this week and a half the kids have vacation... CT, NJ, New York City and tomorrow, Rochester, NY.

So drink in surprises and charms of New York streets. It's not quite the same as being there, but for those far away perhaps it imparts the flavor of the place:

A woman with the largest and smallest dogs.

The line at the Guggenheim.

The line at the hot dog stand outside the Metropolitan Museum.

A bench to rest on just when you need it.

The amazing granite slide in the playground at east 67th street.

A beautiful building along 5th Ave.

Beautiful Renee and her beautiful French toast at the Wright museum restaurant at the Guggenheim.

My parsley, raspberry seed holiday tree at the Wright museum restaurant at the Guggenheim.

The kids in front of a Bergdorf Goodman window. Strike up the band.

More details of these breathtaking windows. For crafters this is THE SIGHT to see in NYC. Head to 58th and 5th. This year, they were based on Alice in Wonderland. They are hard to photograph but so inspiring. If you click on the photos you see lots of detail and reflections of the buildings across the street. Just think, it's someone's job to work on these all year long.

The hedgehog, dodo and nearly everything in this window are completely made of paper.

Enlarge and look closely, Judith Leiber jeweled purses and an actual stuffed squirrel!

I recently changed my blog photo to a moon shot over our home. The moon is lovely in the city as well.

Even in the midst of the busy city there can be peace.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Not More Snow Photos

I'm betting no one wants to see more snow pictures. But here some are anyway. I hope they have a bit of artistic flair or fun.

Renee's 9th birthday snow cake:

Another present for Renee. The biggest icicles on the house are right out her window. Don't you love her clothes line of paper dresses.

And finally some actual gifts. Amazingly the camera we got for Renee exactly matches the gloves my mother knit for her.

And some of the paper crafts Jack and I made (he did the wonderful window stars) with the girls at Renee's party. Their 3-D snowflakes, paper and window stars were their goody bag gifts. I loved that I avoided the convention of sending candy and plastic trinkets home with guests. It's one of my pet peeves.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Creative Gifts

Thank you, thank you creative bloggers. You are such an inspiration to me. I have been incredibly lucky to win a few items in blog give-aways lately. Below are a beautiful pendant I won at Apples for Poppy Anne. The lovely holiday napkins and gift tags come compliments of Creative Kismet. Check out their Etsy shops for more of their beautiful creations. These special surprises have made my Hanukah very special. For 2 nights I received special gifts in the mail.

I have been doing a bit of crafting myself. I have been trying crafts that I hope to make with the girls attending my daughter's crafty 9th birthday party on Saturday. This 3D paper snowflake seems like a winner, easy and beautiful. You can find the tutorial here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Making Massachusetts Home

We had a few neighbors over for hors d'oeuvres, desserts and game playing (Scrabble, Lego Creator, cards, etc.) this past weekend. Though there weren't too many people (14 in all), there was lots of anticipation and preparation before the party. But I had good helpers.

Among the items I made were salsa for chips. And so I send a note of thanks to Brian Blyth, renaissance man, for teaching me to make homemade salsa. I'll never use that stuff from a jar again.
Ingredients before chopping:

And since it was Chanukah, potato pancakes with apple sauce and sour cream. Renee was in charge of dry ingredients and mixing. I chopped and shredded (with the Cuisinart's help), and Jack peeled MANY potatoes.

Yummy desserts were brought by our guests. It is hard finding new friends in a new place. But we're making the effort, to make this feel more like our home.

And we're always learning new things about our town and state. Renee is studying Massachusetts in 3rd grade social studies. I am learning a lot from her assignments. The other day she brought home a topographical map made of flour paste.

The class has also learned:
the state bird, black-capped chicadee
the state motto, "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty"
the state tree, American Elm
the state flower, Mayflower
the state muffin, corn muffin
the state cheese: Swiss
and others including the state cat, dog, mammal, cookie, beverage and more.
Some of these make you wonder if our elected representatives could be spending their time in more productive ways.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Music Can Make Your Day

I'm hanging out spending too much time on the computer today, but going back to recent blog post about music a few days ago, I'm listening and watching:
Michael Franti. Play this one loud. Make room to dance!
This one makes me want to be a rock star. Mick Jagger brio! I want some of that!
gorgeous Cyndi Lauper for those more reflective times

I hope these work from the blog. If not search for Michael Franti Say Hey, Cyndi Lauper Walk on By, and U2 Jagger Shelter. Thanks to Headbutler for turning me onto 2 of these and On Point radio for their Michael Franti interview.

Sometimes music can make your day.

For those of you who love yoga, here's another Michael Franti favorite with amazing acroyoga (Don't try this at home!)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ornament Extravaganza

Our holiday/Christmas/Chanukah tree went up this past weekend. The kids did a great job hanging everything. I hung just my special photo ornaments of the kids at different ages. Jack was tall enough to do the lights on his own. Doug, of course, put the six-pointed star (blue on one side for Chanukah, red on the other) on the top. Then Jack set up his train. A tree fits very nicely in our new family room. Note the snow out the picture window. It seems likely we will have a white Christmas here in Massachusetts.

Here are some of the highlights:

I made the tree skirt in 2000. The idea came from Family Fun magazine. You can see the tutorial here. Each year since then, the kids have put gold handprints on it, except for the year Renee wouldn't put her hands in the paint. In the photo you can see the striking difference between 2001/2002 and 2006. Jack's hands are bigger than mine now. I'm still searching for the gold paint for this year's prints. I may have to buy more (another item lost in the move).

The next photos contain some of my favorite ornaments:

I love these frame ornaments. The kids must be 2 & 7 here. And a year older in the picture below. Also notice the beautiful colored balls in shades from peach to red to purple with gold glitter. I have a set of 48 of them that I bought at an after Christmas sale at Neiman Marcus for 75% off years ago. I love love love them!

The hearts below are ornaments I made for the kids 2 years ago by embroidering and stuffing material from old blue jeans. Flowers for Renee and a space theme for Jack.

In the following photo you can see some of Jack's origami boxes. They are like special little presents on the tree.

And finally a shout out to Meryl for the lovely acorns she sent me. They look great in my little nature arrangement along with the real acorns, chestnuts, dried flowers, etc. Your special pin sits there too. Thank you.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Wintery Weekend

While there was a snowstorm here in October, it only coated the grass and branches lightly and disappeared in a few hours. Now we have snow that stays (at least for a 2 days so far). Here are some photos of the yard and Renee. She couldn't wait to get outside and play.

I took this one earlier in the morning (before 7 am). I just had to observe and photograph the quiet stillness of the morning. The wet snow and lack of wind helped the flakes cling to the branches in an amazing way.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Surrendering to Music

Last night we attended an A Capella concert at Wayland Middle School. We heard Bowdoin's Miscellania, Amherst's DQ, and Brandeis' VoiceMale along with three groups from the local high school. My favorite group was actually the high school's T-Tones (for Testostertones). They were so talented, poised and funny.

Sometimes the voice or production quality of the performances lagged, but the mission of the evening was fulfilled by the shear joy on the faces of the singers. Every performer was having a wonderful time. Every performer was strutting their stuff in a solo or listening intently to match their voice to enhance the group. It reminded me of my bell choir days, the joy of being part of a group performance. The satisfying feeling of working hard to accomplish something beautiful even if ephemeral.

I recently finished Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog. While overall, I found the book uneven and overly erudite, there were a few thought provoking ideas. A favorite selection relating to a school choir concert follows:

"Every time, it's a miracle. Here are all these people, full of heartache or hatred or desire, and we all have our troubles and the school year is filled with vulgarity and triviality and consequence, and there are all these teachers and kids of every shape and size, and there's this life we're struggling through full of shouting and tears and laughter and fights and break-ups and dashed hopes and unexpected luck--it all disappears, just ike that, when the choir begins to sing. Everyday life vanishes into song, you are suddenly overcome with a feeling of brotherhood, of deep solidarity, even love and it diffuses the ugliness of everyday life into a spirit of perfect communion. Even the singers' faces are transformed... I see human beings, surrendering to music."

"In the end, I wonder if the true movement of the world might not be a voice raised in song."

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Excursion to Salem

We're trying to explore our new state. Warm Sunday afternoons seem the perfect time, especially now that most of the leaves are blown or raked off the grassy parts of the yard.

Today we headed to Salem, yes witch trial Salem. There was a Witch Museum, but we instead chose to focus on Salem's maritime past. From the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s, Salem was a major trade port. Local products like wood and dried cod were shipped around the world. Elias Hasket Derby, perhaps America's first millionaire, sent his ship Grand Turk to China and India for exotic trade goods. There was little reference to slavery in the signage around the area, but I wouldn't be surprised if that trade too enriched these Northern traders. Privateering also enriched the city during the Revolutionary War. The city prospered from taxes collected at the Customs House where one of the clerks, Nathaniel Hawthorne plotted The Scarlet Letter and The House of the Seven Gables (which you can visit nearby) while he worked.

At one time Salem was America's 6th largest city. Its fortunes turned for the worse once ships, built too big for its shallow channel, headed to Boston and New York instead. But the density of a bustling early American city remain. Narrow streets are lined with charming houses built in the 1700s with barely a yard between them. Signs on many buildings tell when prominent architects of the time built the homes for wealthy merchants and sea captains. The town is now well maintained and full of little shops and restaurants catering to tourists. But, it was not too crowded on this chilly Sunday after Thanksgiving.

Looking back toward the town from Derby wharf. The ship is a reproduction of one that would typically have unloaded goods here.

Looking out at the channel from the wharf.

That little lighthouse reflects the little use this area gets today. The channel is maintained at 19' through dredging for local pleasure boats. The area around the wharf might be only 1 or 2 feet deep at low tide.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Today I'm trying to find joy and thanks. Last year at this time we had no inkling of what was to come. Since then we've sold our old house and moved to a new one. In some ways we are so lucky to have made this move without financial damage. The kids are adjusting to their new schools. Doug is employed at a job he seems to like and where he is valued. I have every opportunity in the world to find new possibilities and friends in this place.

Today I am thankful for:

food, shelter, warmth
family traveling to be with us for our first Thanksgiving in MA
wonderful books and blogs that bring me inspiration
no more back pain
a son who can do fancy napkin folds

May this Thanksgiving bring you a peaceful, thankful heart.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Feeling Bad

Sorry for not having written for so long. Doug and I went on a terrific weekend away to Cape Cod. Too bad I didn't bring the camera. We explored marshes, a beautiful beach and a swamp where trees grew from mossy tuffets poking out of the water. We visited the spot where Marconi first sent wireless signals across the sea to England. The foundations of his enormous wire web structure have been nearly washed away. We stayed in a lovely B&B and had one of the best dinners I've ever eaten: grilled lobster with cubed chorizo, squash, bechemel, light herbed gnocchi, and pomogranet (sp?) seeds. Sounds weird but it all the flavors complemented one another and were presented beautifully. And it all looked even better after a chocolate margarita. If you get a chance, visit the High Pointe Inn and the Brewster Fish House.

Otherwise I've been in quite a funk. Once we got back from our trip, Renee got sick. We ended up in the emergency room last Monday because I panicked. I'm in the process of finding doctors up here, but we haven't seen anyone yet. I called one of the offices I'm dealing with, and they were trying to be helpful, but I couldn't wait on hold while she cried with stomach pain. I thought it might have been her appendix. Back in NJ, I would have rushed her to our pediatrician. Here I was scared and alone. I called 911, ended up in the emergency room and became one of the statistical patients rushing to the emergency room driving up health care costs! She was fine and we went home after a couple hours and a couple tests. It could have been gas.

This is just an example of everything that is so hard about moving. Nothing is familiar. You don't have any resources to draw on. Every small problem turns big because you don't have your regular doctor, electrician, car repair people. Everything is a search, and I get lost every time! I've been trying to take long walks to stop my brain from evil thoughts. Four and a half hours in the last 3 days.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What is Missing? Maya Lin

Finally a family photo. Taken at Hamlin woods this weekend. Jack balanced the digital camera on a rock and set the self timer. VOILA...

Today I walked back to this lovely conservation area. A wonderful 2 hour walk. Once I reached the woods, a remarkable program came on my headphones: an interview of Maya Lin (the creator of the Vietnam War memorial) about her new memorial What is Missing? It is a multimedia project in museums, on the web, in book form and more to document the 6th mass extinction on Earth, this one caused by habitat change caused by humans. What a remarkable project. What a remarkable woman. Listen to this amazing interview.

It was so meaningful walking slowly around this beautiful pond imagining the losses in habitat and plenty on the Earth. Part of her project recreates what old habitats were like by going back to the diaries of travelers and explorers of the past. For instance, Christopher Columbus in the late 1400s reports that he thought one of his ships was grounded but then realized he had just wandered into a huge group of turtles so thick it stopped his ship. Early European settlers in North America reported 12" oysters, 6' lobsters, and 40 lb wild turkeys. Her project will encourage people today to share their memories of changing environments. I remember hearing loons on Raquette Lake in the Adirondacks when I went to sleep away camp in the late 1970's. Evidently, they are nearly gone.

On the way home I began to pick up trash along the road. Here's what I collected. There could have been more but the bag (that I had found on the roadside) was full and I didn't wander more than a yard or so from the road.

What can you do to help the environment and preserve our planet and its species today? Do you really need to get a new disposable cup of coffee or bottle of water every day?

Sunday, November 1, 2009


So much wind yesterday. It was Halloween, the last day October and the last day for most of our leaves. The narrow wooded part of the driveway was filled with leaves we collected and pulled into the woods.

Halloween was very different from years past. In our old house we got hundreds of trick-or-treaters. This year we had two friends stop by. That's all. In this town tons of people trick-or-treat on one road safe from fast cars, a circular one where all the families expect big crowds. Many homes were expertly decorated for the occasion. We had a pot luck dinner with about 4 other families then went to this area of town and walked the dark street... The only lights came from flashlights, glow sticks and spooky lighted displays. The nearly full moon was enveloped from time to time by the fast moving clouds we could see beyond the dark swaying branches.

Check out this spooky witch and IPod Guy/Disgrunted Teenager

Happy Halloween