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SATURDAY

A week ago today, I woke up and could hardly walk!  Somehow, some way, my lower back seemed to have disconnected from the rest of my torso.  Well that’s what it felt like.  I couldn’t stand up straight and even I popped two Tylenol, an hour later, still in pain.  I spent all of last Saturday in my apartment hobbling around and moaning now and then. By evening I took the one and only Alleve in the house.  We have two vintage deco lamps on our piano, one of the bulbs burnt out.

SUNDAY

After a very fitful night of sleep, I woke up and still in severe discomfort.  A long hot shower with the water pouring on my back only felt good while I was in the shower.  Given that we were in the apartment where the hot water supply is seemingly endless, I considered staying there forever.  However, the thought of more wrinkly skin and vanity being what it is, I decided I better get out and try to move around.  Believe it or not, there were still some reindeer that had to be put out.  Reindeer, you say?  Yes reindeer, my ecumenical concession to my Jewish husband when it comes to Christmas decorations.  Of course there’s a wreath and even two metal sculpture trees which light up from within with a candle.  And there are Christmas cards, usually NOT holiday cards, and two vintage stockings hung from the fireplace as well as a few Christmas village houses nestled among the plants on the living room window sill.  The warrior in me soldiers on.  By early evening I take one the two Tylenol with Codeine we have in the house.  One of the light bulbs in a foyer lamp has burnt out.

MONDAY

Thinking I had a Monday morning meeting, I scramble around as best I can, still my lower back not working in conjunction with any other body part.  I’m walking half bent over and on a tilt.  I know I can’t walk to work so I take a taxi.  WHAT? NO MEETING??!!! Well sitting at my desk is no more uncomfortable than sitting at home and besides at the office I have a whole bunch of sympathizers around me.  Actually sitting or lying down on my back with my legs curled up to my chest IS the only comfortable position.  Today Peter and I are going to the afternoon SAG movie, Mr. Turner.  I leave my office at 2:00pm to catch the 2nd Ave bus and will transfer at 57th St to a crosstown bus which will take me to West 57th St at 6th Ave.  The traffic on 2nd Avenue is a f_ _ _ _g nightmare.  The bus does not move.  It takes the bus more than 30 minutes to get to 55th St from 79th St.  YES I could have walked there quicker but I can’t really walk.  At 2:45, sirens are screaming as everything comes to a halt and let’s an ambulance through.  If you’ve never been to Midtown during the Christmas season, you really can’t imagine what is going on…it’s absolute gridlock everywhere;  Pedestrians crossing at all points, more cars on the street than ever, the windows of Bergdorf and Tiffany beckoning crowds and the tree at Rockefeller Center causing more jam -ups. 

Far INTO the Maddening Crowd

Far INTO the Maddening Crowd

At 2:55 I’m at 57th St and between Madison and Fifth and we have stopped again (not that we ever really roll along) and now two firetrucks are approaching from the west and all vehicles move over.  There’s is some stupid little black car that is playing chicken with the bus and wants to get in front of us!  I’ve got to get to 6th Ave and be in the theater before 3pm because then they lock the doors! I telephone Peter and tell him I probably won’t make it and will go home. By 2:58 we still haven’t crossed 6th Avenue to the bus stop.  When we do I practically leap off the bus and make my way across the street and up to the theater. It IS after 3pm and even though I’m bent over a bit I look up and see a woman going in and then another.  I try to walk faster and when I get to the doors I can’t believe they’re still unlocked.  At that moment, Peter comes into the lobby to see if I’ve made it.  The nice lady at the entry desk greets me with “Thank goodness, you made it”.  When I tell her I’ve been on a bus for an hour, she suggests I should have walked!

When the movie is over and it is over 2 hours long, we go out to find a) it’s raining b) I will never make it home in time to hostess my Mah Jongg group at 6:30 and c) I cannot take the subway which would be quicker because I can’t negotiate the stairs! and d) the bus doesn’t appear to be an option because as far as the eye can see, it’s traffic, traffic, traffic and I can’t imagine getting on a bus again.  I call one of the players and ask her to call the others and delay the game by a half hour.  Peter is annoyed because I’m in a rush, can’t walk and we are in frigging Midtown in the middle of the the Christmas holiday which looks a little like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.  I start to walk east in the rain, bent over while he is kvetching about no rain coat and no hat.  He also has predicted that I will NEVER  get a cab because by now, I have walked (read hobbled) as far as Fifth Ave. and gone south to 56th St hoping to avoid the madness of 57th St.  OMG there is a cab two cars away – I am waving my arm like a lunatic and rushing thru moving traffic to grab that cab.  Thank you Lord and the TLC.  Just before my guests arrive, I take the last Tylenol with Codeine.

TUESDAY

I have to meet an appraiser in the morning and then I’m off to the office.  Actually standing up a bit taller and feeling pretty good.  Tuesday is also a SAG movie night but this time I have to be there by 6pm.  Janice, my friend from the office is also invited to tonight’s screening so we’re going to go together.  I tell her there’s no way we can go the bus route, we have to take the subway system.  Janice is not all that familiar with the subway connections so I say, “Just follow me”.  First we wait and wait in the rain (yes raining again) for a bus.  But since NYC is always doing something that requires scaffolding we are at least standing under the shed (bottom floor of scaffolding) while we wait and wait.  The though of trying to walk mostly at an incline to Lexington Ave to get on the subway seems like a really painful option so I say let’s wait another minute or two for the bus to come.  Well waiting for a bus to come in NYC in the rain is like waiting for a tea kettle to boil.  At this point Janice wonders if her Metro card has any money on it.   The bus comes and as I walk down the aisle I hear that dreaded sound of a bleep rather than a ding signifying the passenger’s Metro card has insufficient funds.  Luckily the driver says she owes 55 cents and lets her drop the change into the slot.  Janice has got to add money to her card when we get to the subway station.  We have to walk two blocks from the bus to the subway and halfway there Janice calls for a halt.  Well once we are at the subway station, of course we miss the train that is there because JB has no money on her card!!! Oy!  Another train comes along fairly quickly and I lead her through the rush hour hordes of people to the another subway line on 59th St.  Soon we are on an R train headed for 7th Ave and 57th St.  We arrive at the theater with time to spare – traveling underground is really the only way to go at this time of year.  When we got home, a bulb in one of the den lamps burnt out.

WEDNESDAY

The back pain is not only still there, it is bad.  Our office is donating toys to Cassidy’s Place and I go out at lunch time to find a suitable gift – this is the last day to donate.  We are having a meeting at 3pm and a holiday toast at 4pm.  It’s a very busy day.  By 3:00 my back is aching so I got two aspirin from the front desk and washed them down with champagne! By the time the meeting was over and the party underway, I felt ok.  But not for long.  I had to meet my friend, Barbara for a holiday dinner à deux and walking the few blocks to the restaurant was just agonizing.  Dinner was wonderful, the food was great, the company delightful.  Unfortunately I had to walk home and even though it was only a few blocks I  just inched along in the rain- Yes raining again!

THURSDAY

Before I left for the day I opened the freezer and OMG the stuff in there was slightly defrosted and I thought maybe the door had been ajar all night.  The night before I had a couple of spoonfuls of ice cream and maybe I didn’t close the door completely!  Surely the diet gods are behind this!  I’m meeting Janice at a property a few blocks away so I walk there and by the time I arrive I know that I can’t go along on these showings because there will be a lot of walking along the way.  I go back to the office and sit.  Once home, I put this massaging machine behind me and just let the pressure and circular movements massage the base of my back.  Peter is about to make a drink and head to the freezer to get some ice cubes only to discover that THERE IS NOTHING FROZEN IN THE FREEZER!! The ice cubes are water, the broccoli is mush, the frozen fruit is soggy and soft and all of the herbs have turned into green slime.  Just f_ _ _ _g great!  It’s 8:00 at night and I don’t know whether we need to call our landlord who of course will not be in his office or try the Super.  Peter heads downstairs and as luck would have it, our Superintendent is in his office.  Technically, he is supposed to do work in our apt only at the behest of our landlord since we are not the shareholders – it gets complicated in New York.  Anyway, once he heard of the dilemma he instructed a porter to switch out our refrigerator for one that was in a vacant apt.  First all of the food had to be removed and a lot of the stuff thrown out.  The refrigerator was actually pretty cold because it hadn’t been opened all day.  After a lot of measuring and moving of furniture in both the living room and the dining room (because that’s the only way this new refrigerator was going to get into the kitchen), the door were removed, the old one moved away from the wall giving us full view of years of dust and stuff.  The new refrigerator is bigger than the old one and it’s BLACK!   By 9:30 I’m microwaving some Chinese noodle soup that had defrosted.

OMG It's Black!

OMG It’s Black!

FRIDAY

We finally got ourselves out the door and headed to Ocean Grove for the weekend.  We hadn’t been to the cottage in two weeks so when we arrived it was about 50 degrees!  I pushed up the thermostat  and began to unload our stuff.  Once done, we headed off to do grocery shopping just as the house was warming up.  The cats curled up in their beds which are next to a radiator. 

Actually Nora Decided To Sleep With Nicky

Actually Nora Decided To Sleep With Nicky

We got home at about 6pm and wow the house felt cold.  After unloading bags and bags of groceries which required the door being open, I checked the thermostat and pushed it up higher to get the heat to kick on.  Five minutes, ten minutes – NO HEAT.  There’s a whole lot of cursing going on….  Peter goes to the basement which is actually only a Yankee basement, not much bigger than a Manhattan kitchen and to reach it you have to climb down a ladder, not stairs and of course move about 10 things that are stashed in the back area which I refer to as the Hoosier room.  He finds a reset button and nothing happens.  We wait.  He pushes the button again and after a few minutes, the furnace kicks on.  Pretty soon the radiators are hot.  And then 15 minutes later, the furnace stops.  By 8:30 we are freezing and again tempers are flaring, it is really, really cold in the house and someone (not me) thinks going back to NYC is the answer. NO WAY! I’m not leaving the house with no possible heat so the pipes can freeze and burst – you know who grew up in an apartment building!  We call the emergency number and are told we will get a return call. NO CALL.  At 10:00 we call again and about 11:00 we get a call.  The nice man on the phone who had been sleeping was willing to come out BUT I suggested he try to walk Peter through some possible solutions.  After 45 minutes on the phone, the furnace kicked on.  And 15 minutes later it stopped.  The only possible choice we have at this point is to go to bed with a lot of covers and hopefully a cat too.  Before I went upstairs I really wanted to finish watching the finale of Grace Point which was On Demand.  I had a heat shirt on under my pajama top, a corduroy shirt over that, a scarf around my neck and gloves on and socks and slippers.  I can’t fall asleep if my nose is cold and every time I sort of covered it, I felt like I wasn’t getting enough air. Not a good night. 

SATURDAY

About 4:00 am I got up to use the bathroom and the radiators were hot. Oh joy!  At 8:30 we woke up and the house was cold as were the radiators. OH NOT JOY.  Peter calls the emergency number at 9:30 and is assured Gary will call us.  At 11:00 am he calls again.  No call back.  Well by now I’m in the middle of making Beef Minestrone in the crock pot and roasting some cauliflower in the oven and oh boy that 450 degree oven helped to keep the kitchen warm.  I made us hot oatmeal for breakfast.  By 2:00pm we still had no call back and I called the emergency number and I was not as nice as Peter was about being trapped in a house that is registering 52 degrees waiting for a phone call.  I told the not-pleasant- customer-service lady we had to get of this freezing place and gave them a cell phone number.  Within 20 minutes we get a call from Gary who says he has tried to call us but our voice mailbox is full. WTF? There are no messages on our phone.  He arrives shortly and is very personable and knowledgeable and after some looks here and there, he finds the problem.  The furnace is over full of water causing some pressure problem but how did it get that way?  30 minutes later he discovers that the pig tail needs to be cleaned out.  Don’t ask!  As I write this last line, he is packing up his gear.  The radiators are not hot yet but God and Gary willing they will be! 

The day isn’t over yet so I’m not sure what else can go wrong today, you never know.  I might have to call my sister-in-law, Juanita to see if Mercury is in retrograde because believe it or not, the kitchen light in the cottage wouldn’t go on but that turned out to only be a loose bulb and the battery on Peter’s computer died about an hour ago.  Stay tuned….   

Sign of the Times

Sign of the Times

How would you like to make some quick Ice Cream Sundaes this very Sunday?  Raise your hand if you love Oreo cookies?  Now raise your hand if you love ice cream (who doesn’t?).  Good now that we are all on the same page, let’s make some Ice Cream Sundae Oreo Cookie Cups.

Ingredients

Ingredients

Ingredients:
- 2 sticks salted butter
– 3/4 cup granulated sugar
– 1 cup brown sugar
– 2 eggs
– 2 teaspoons vanilla
– 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
– Oreo cookies
– vanilla ice cream
– magic shell or chocolate syrup
– sprinkles

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in a mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix. Add dry ingredients and stir in chocolate chips.

Mixing and Adding

Mixing and Adding

2. Break up 12 Oreos and add them to the dough. Mix. Scoop the dough into a muffin pan. Bake for 15 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, combine one carton of softened vanilla ice cream with 24 Oreos. Freeze for 45 minutes, or until the ice cream is firm.

Break Up Oreos and Add To Ice Cream

Break Up Oreos and Add To Ice Cream

4. Remove the cookies from the oven. Press a sprinkle container into each cookie to make a cup. Let the cookie cups cool.

Make An Indentation In The Cookie Dough

Make An Indentation In The Cookie Dough

5. Remove ice cream from the freezer. Fill each cookie cup with one scoop of ice cream. Top with magic shell and sprinkles. Enjoy!

This recipe and photos originated from Brit & Co, Francesca Bean

Ice Cream Sundae For A Wintery Sunday

Ice Cream Sundae For A Wintery Sunday

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Murray spent some time with us and he took a lot of photos of our cats, Nick and Nora.  They are brother and sister but don’t look at all alike.  Did you know that a female cat can be impregnated by two different males?  When you look at these two, it’s obvious their mom fell into that category.  Like any mother, I think my fur babies are beautiful and so today I decided to post some of Murray’s photos.

Nicky is my sweet boy, gentle, inquisitive, sleek and serene.  He lets me pick him up, roll him over, brush his teeth and clip his nails.  He’s the alpha cat in the house and he does chase his sister now and then.  He’s my handsome little prince and he likes to pose for the camera too.

All photos courtesy of Murray Head

What's Going On Over There?

What’s Going On Over There?

OK I'm Ready For My Close-Up

OK I’m Ready For My Close-Up

Good Lighting Is Essential

Good Lighting Is Essential

Love His Long Whiskers

Love His Long Whiskers

Nora is a moosh;  She sleeps with us every night, curled up between our pillows or snuggled between legs.  She is a plump softie, quiet, and a major lap-sitter.  Nora knows where all the warm sun spots are and naps in all of them.  She loves to sit in boxes, even those that are too small.  She isn’t as social as Nicky who always greets people at the door.  Nora is more apt to run and hide under the bed for a while.  She doesn’t like the grandchildren and has hissed at Finley and batted her hand.  Naughty girl.

I'm Not A Toy

I’m Not A Toy

Nora As Part Of A Still Life

Nora As Part Of A Still Life

Peek A Boo

Peek A Boo

Nora And The Mouse

Nora And The Mouse

My friend, Gail, sent me a link to a website called Collector’s Weekly.   In particular, the link related to the popular tradition of the 1950’s of individual town and state postcards.  Those were the days when the average person did NOT log onto Cheapair and find tickets to fly to Yellowstone Park or to Grandma’s house in Texas.  People drove!  I remember the trips my parents took sightseeing to Canada and to Florida and elsewhere.  My Dad was fond of the practice of putting decals on the windows of the car depicting a place or town or state. Photos of those collectibles another day.  

I scrolled through the many beautiful and colorful postcards, what a sweet trip down nostalgia lane.  It was hard to pick out only 10, they were so creative and cute.  

Here’s an excerpt from the article: “From the 1930s through the 1950s, tourists taking their first road trips in their newfangled automobiles would frequently stop along the way to pick up a few colorful postcards to mail to the folks back home. The most popular form of eat-your-heart-out greeting was the large-letter postcard, which had been around since the first part of the 20th century but whose heyday was during what we know today as the linen-postcard era. Made of textured paper rather than actual cloth, linen postcards were printed by companies such as Curt Teich & Company of Chicago, Tichnor Brothers and Colourpicture of Boston, E.C. Kropp of Milwaukee, Beals Litho & Printing of Des Moines, and Dexter Press of Pearl River, New York, among many others. Their souvenir postcards for states, cities, military bases, and tourist attractions were usually heralded at the top by the words “Greetings From,” below which were large, blocky, dimensional letters filled in with illustrations or photographs of the destination’s most scenic or noteworthy sights.”

I actually picked 11 and here they are:

Alaska

The 1942 Cards Were Not Big Sellers, So The Retailer Threw Them Out Creating Instant Scarcity

The Bigger The Letters The More Graphic The Depiction Could Be Inside and Out

The Bigger The Letters The More Graphic The Depiction Could Be Inside and Out

Early On Sun Valley Was Promoted As A Ski Destination

Early On Sun Valley Was Promoted As A Ski Destination

It's Not Clear That Rawlins Was A Metropolis But The Rope Borders On The Letters  Is A Nice Touch

It’s Not Clear That Rawlins Was A Metropolis But The Rope Borders On The Letters Is A Nice Touch

The City of Pontiac Michigan Takes Its Name From the Native American Tribe Who Lived There Before the Arrival of the Europeans

The City of Pontiac Michigan Takes Its Name From the Native American Tribe Who Lived There Before the Arrival of the Europeans

Here The Letters Of Niagra Falls Appear About To Tumble To Their Doom

Here The Letters Of Niagra Falls Appear About To Tumble To Their Doom

If This Card Had A Yellow Top and Blue Horses It Would Be Rare

If This Card Had A Yellow Top and Blue Horses It Would Be Rare

Big-Basin-

State Parks were popular destinations and cards such as this one could be sold in the Park gift shop.

There's No Question As To What Gulfport Has To Offer

There’s No Question As To What Gulfport Has To Offer

Quick - Name A Vegetable That's Grown In Iowa

Quick – Name A Vegetable That’s Grown In Iowa

Radiating  Bands of Color Were A Common Background

Radiating Bands of Color Were A Common Background

Tuscan Beans with Basil Pesto & Mushrooms

Tuscan Beans with Basil Pesto & Mushrooms

Oh what a dinner we had last night! YES, I’m bragging because I made two dishes and they went together nicely and were delicious!  I made the Tuscan bean dish which I think was meant to be a side dish but was so hearty,  it could easily be a Sunday night supper with a baguette.  The other dish was Butternut Squash Farrotto, which is essentially a risotto and I will post that another day.

TUSCAN BEANS with BASIL PESTO & MUSHROOMS

INGREDIENTS:

2 TBS olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 pkg (10 oz) of whole Baby Bella mushroooms, stemmed and quartered

2 cloves of garlic minced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup Vegetable broth ( I used chicken broth)

2 cans of Wegman’s Tuscan Cannellini Beans (they’re large)

1 jar of Basil Pesto sauce (7 oz)

1 pkg (6 oz) baby spinach

Salt and Pepper

2 TBS grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in large nonstick pan on MED, add onions.  Cook, stirring 3-4 minutes until golden.

Add mushrooms and garlic.  Cook, stirring about 5 min. until mushrooms soften.  Add wine, cook, stirring 8-10 min. until liquid reduced by half.

Add broth and beans, bring to a simmer. Add pesto and spinach.  Cook, stirring 2-3 minutes until spinach wilts.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with cheese.

Recipe from Wegman’s Menu Magazine, Fall 2014 issue

*  The dish was soupier than I thought it would be so I served it in bowls along side the risotto.

I really like some commercials and I admire clever ad campaigns.  For example, how about the Absolut ad that appeared in the 90’s for years, each one more clever than the one before!  I have a notebook full of Absolut Ads that depict various states, capitols, artists, emotions and ideas!  This was an ad campaign that “had legs” as they say in the industry!  I love the Geico Gecko, well really he is cute! But I hated the Geico cavemen commercials.  Who can forget Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?”  Or Bert and Harry Piels?

Cutesy Cubs

Cutesy Cubs

A couple of years ago, I was (and still am) enamored and enchanted by the Cartier commercial, L’Odeyssee de Cartier.  It is a spectacular piece, (in my opinion) and I’ve actually posted it on my blog previously.  I raved about it to all my friends, much to the chagrin of my friend, Gail, who works for Tiffany’s !! I believe it was beautifully-crafted and targeted to the sophisticated clientele that actually shops at Cartier’s! 

So what the heck is this year’s Cartier Christmas ad?  It is as bad as last years which was almost cartoonish and now this year they have gone all Disney on us!  We see two cute little cubs frolicking in the snow, knocking Cartier’s signature red boxes tumble down from the snow cliffs in the heavens to land under Christmas trees around the world.  I don’t know whether or not Cartier has switched ad agencies  or whether some company has convinced them that their brand is best represented by playfulness rather than mysterious, sexy fantasy which has been the hallmark of Cartier ads for several years.  Cartier jewelry is not playful and it is not inexpensive, hardly the arena for young cub buyers! 

If you haven’t seen this little ditty, take a look at this year’s Christmas ad.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5uUBFngag8

Now watch this one and tell me which one do you think best represents  the Cartier brand?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaBNjTtCxd4

Every year I make some time to stroll along Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue and gaze (read gawk) and admire the beautiful holiday window displays in The City’s famous department stores.  This is a real annual Christmas tradition in the Big Apple.  Velvet ropes guide the long lines past the amazing, creative dioramas and mechanical scenes.  The competition for the BEST display windows is always intense, but during Christmas time, it’s fierce.  The themes are varied;  Some stores like Macy’s and Lord & Taylor  often gear their windows to appeal to children.  Bloomingdales and Saks seem to blend child-like appeal with current events and yet add enough sophistication to charm adults.  When you get to Bergdorf Goodman’s, be prepared to be dazzled!  The tall windows of Bergdorf’s are usually spectacular, over the top and definitely designed for their clientele.  That goes for Tiffany’s also – this year their windows are literally dazzling – think diamonds!

While many of my readers live in the Tri-State area and many make the seasonal trek to the big City to shop, look at The Tree and ice skaters in Rockefeller Center and take in the Christmas Show at Radio City Music Hall, and check out the windows, many of you cannot.   So if you can’t come to the Windows, the windows will come to you.   Check out this short video featuring just a few of the  splendorific holiday displays.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/21/new-york-city-holiday-windows/19356105/

Saks Fifth Avenue is bringing fairy tale princesses to life with the likes of Cinderella and Rapunzel.

Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair

Rapunzel Let Down Your Hair

Lord & Taylor is featuring  an enchanted mansion replete with fairies and butterflies.

Enchanted Christmas

Enchanted Christmas

Bloomingdales  wasn’t in that video, so here’s a peek at their artful design. If you log onto their mobile site, using your smartphone you can play interactive games with the window display and win prizes!

Bloomingdales - You Can Play Too!

Bloomingdales – You Can Play Too!

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