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."