Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011

In a mere three hours the millions of spectators in Times Square will enjoy quite the spectacle. We downtown dwellers will enjoy the view on television while checking out sparkly fireworks outside our window. At least one New Year's Eve at the crossroads of the universe is most highly recommended. There is nothing quite like it. Even the television broadcast does not do justice for the energy that is there.

The year of 2010 was quite good to us. We have health, happiness and so many fortunes. Along the way we try to learn a little more about ourselves and those around us. Travels were plentiful this year and laughter was almost always around. We continue to be blessed with a wonderful life in the most beautiful of places. Our friends are our core here on this little island (and those far away.) Some have suffered tragic loss this year so we rallied around them. Others have had great joy so we celebrated with them. We know they are there for us so we shall be there for them. I constantly mention it but the warmth and knowledge I derive from friends is so very high on my list.

Throughout the year we had many loves. Visitors, shows, learning new things, great travels near and far, amazing new playgrounds, wonderful explorations, plentiful time with friends and family, blissful days on the beach, snowball fights in great blizzards, breathtaking sunsets, many colorful fireworks shows, watching our child grow in spirit and knowledge, daily seeing WTC One grow to half of her scheduled height, many jaunts across the most incredible Brooklyn Bridge, having a cousin who is living in this town and loves it as much as us, reconnecting with people and finding friendship deeper than ever,...and the list could go on and on. No complaints here. We are grateful for our many gifts.

May 2011 bring you much magic.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


The month of December has flown by at record speeds. The holiday spirit is all around. The menorahs glowed at the beginning of the month and now the Christmas trees are bright with color. We have taken in much the city has to offer. The windows at Macy's tell the story of Virginia and the Miracle on 34th Street. The extra large tree at Rockefeller Center looks spectacular and sparkly as she should. The crowds have been thick but who wouldn't to spend the holidays in New York? Santa has been spotted out and about. Rumor has it the reindeer especially love landing on top of these really tall buildings we call home. The sound of lovely carols have been heard throughout. Two different musical events at the amazing Trinity Church have added to the fun. No complaints here. There is magic in the air and I like that. Christmas Eve will be spent venturing over to check out the tree in front of the NYSE. It is one of our local favorites. That evening treats will be left on the windowsill for old St. Nick and the doorman while have instructions to let any man in red who is ho ho ho-ing right on in the building. With no chimney we know a man as practical as Santa will come jaunt through the front door. Christmas morning will hopefully bring many delights underneath that tree. Later in the morning we will begin our journey to Texas to celebrate with family and long time friends. And by the time 2011 rings in we are scheduled to be cozy back in NYC. We believe and hope you do too!

Thursday, November 25, 2010


We try to be thankful everyday and not just on Thanksgiving. Our day was beyond amazing. This morning started with the 84th marching of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. It was our first time to view the parade from above. One word...incredible.

Our favorite balloon of the day...Po from Kung Fu Panda. There was not a cuter panda to be found on this thankful Manhattan morning.

*that is not a tv screen, that is the window!

Our favorite float? Santa, always Santa. Even though we were 17 stories above him we could hear him ho, ho, ho-ing! He seems fit and in great shape and ready for his heavy work season.

Lunch was held at Ulysses as tradition continues. We took over most the restaurant with our circle of friends ranging from Colombia, Germany, the UK and this year....extra Texans in attendance. Even one cousin who has migrated to NYC and I think she just might stay as this little town has grabbed her heart. The flock of kiddos gobbled up their meals and took to the street for the annual game of tag.

Do we really have to wait an entire year for another day as great as today? I hope not! Thankfully.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

And so it begins...

the holiday season has officially started. The windows of some of the world's most famous department stores are glittery, the air is brisk and a very large tree will soon have her lights turned on. I can never pick a favorite season in NYC. But I have to admit is pretty darn cool being a resident of this little island during the holidays. Being able to take in every moment without time constraint is awesome, just awesome. I am not a Christmas junkie but I do like a taste of it every now and again.

Today we made our annual trip to the beautiful Radio City Music Hall. She took my breath away as always. The Rockettes were kicking, Santa was singing and live animals were on stage. The Parade of the Wooden Soldiers was once again performed as it does every year since 1933. When that golden curtain rises up one knows something pretty special is about to take place. The show did not disappoint. This is our sixth year in a row and I am looking forward to making it a forever tradition.

Tomorrow we will go on our Midtown jaunt for the Thanksgiving Day Parade. Started in 1924, the parade is at least a once do. Everyone seriously needs to witness it first hand...even just once. Of course being the parade lovers we are we go annually. Thanksgiving wouldn't be the same without it. This year will be a first for us. Instead of joining millions of our neighbors lining the streets we will be watching from above. Due to a shift in office locations we are going to be blessed with a view of the parade. I have to admit a few things. I am looking forward to being in a climate controlled atmosphere and not having to kindly elbow my neighbor a bit to get a better view. It won't be the same view but I am willing to switch it up a bit. I think I might just love it. Only tomorrow will tell.

Following the parade our annual feast at Ulysses will commence. Delicious eats, a beautiful array of friends and the annual game of tag for the kids are our favorite way to spend the day. We have endless amounts of people, things and opportunities to be thankful for. Always.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Happy Happy

Birthday to my dear friend Hillary. She is the best. I missed her birthday by one day. Really? What on earth is wrong with me? Few things are as important as celebrating friendship.

In honor of the one and only Hillary click on her name for a p.a.r.t.y!

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Man eating shark, Mushroom from Mario Bros, Rapunzel and a Vampire overlooking One World Trade.

October flew by at record speed. The weather gods were good and it was blissful weather. I dread thinking what winter holds before us. Halloween is now in the history books. It was lovely and lively as ever. A game of chase in an ancient graveyard with Alexander Hamilton's ghost nearby kicked off the weekend. Saturday held the annual party at the World Financial Center. It is a weird sensation that there is finally a shadow from the building of One World Trade Center aka Freedom Tower. Often I wonder if the kids of the neighborhood will realize what a special construction site they look over on a daily basis?

Halloween evening took us trick or treating through some of our very favorite residential buildings with some of our most favorite neighbors. It is on nights like tonight when I take a moment and think two thoughts. #1 being, "How did I luck out and get to live this life in the most incredible city?" and #2 being, "I have the most interesting people in my life as friends...see #1!"

November is here and will offer some of seasonal favorites on the agenda of NYC. Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, several fun birthday parties and some very special visitors. It looks to be another month that will fly by with many memories made.

Next Sunday will be the 41st running of the NYC Marathon. I have two beautiful friends in Johannesburg, South Africa that will be running the race. NYC is a place that they know well as it was their home for several years. Traveling 8,000 miles for a marathon is an incredible feat in itself. Not only am I excited to see them on their journey to the race but I am extremely proud of them. They are not just running for themselves, they are running to raise money for a program that promotes education throughout all of Africa. Go Mutsa and Blessing! I am honored to call you dear friends.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Sunny side of the street

Life can be so sweet
On the sunny side of the street

Thank you Louis Armstrong for those wise words. Is it me or is there some Fall in the air? It is this time of year where I think by the simple act of crossing the street the temperature varies up to 10 degrees. Feeling a little warm...cross the street? On the other hand, feeling a little cold...go to the sunny side of the street.

September means many things. It means it is probably time to go ahead and store the beach goods for the season. (Although I am willing to admit we spent Saturday on the beach.) It means pumpkins are appearing in the store windows and at the local bodegas. And ultimately September for any person in Manhattan means gridlock. The United Nations General Assembly causes major road shutdowns. Check out this list! And anytime the US President or some of the other fellas are out and about it is complete shutdown, including pedestrian traffic.

Being NYC and all it is taken in stride. We stand on the corner being held back by the NYPD, we look at each other and bellyache and complain. We wait it out and complain some more. Eventually the motorcades pass and everyone moves on. The price of inconvenience is paid upfront in this town....but I'll take it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Happiness is...bahn mi.

September is treating us so kind in the weather category. Lunch today was at Saigon Vietnamese Sandwich Deli on Broome Street. Most parties enjoyed the bahn mi dac biet...aka the "house special." I selected the bahn mi chay and was not disappointed! We grabbed our sandwiches (that were priced oh so right) and headed out to the park. Sara D. Roosevelt park on the Lower Eastside was a beautiful place to spend the lunchtime. Perfect weather, perfect friends and perfect conversation. And for the record, the bahn mi was perfect!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Nine years later and New York is still the greatest city in the world.

Too much going on this year that is taking the focus away from the families, the survivors, the people. Just remember the shock, the sickness, the sadness you felt during that awful September.

Click here, please

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

3, 471 miles

The middle to end of August the other side of the Pond was calling our name. Nine days in London was the perfect way to cap off a beautiful summer. We took in all the sights, enjoyed the city and found a place that we truly enjoyed. As "liveable" as I find London I am willing to admit I am not sure I could handle the lack of sunshine on a daily basis. London has only been a fly-through city for me so it was great fun exploring and learning more about it. A super enjoyable day was spent visiting an amazing friend in Colchester. The day ended by taking in the lovely coastal town on Frinton on Sea. Aren't these beach huts picture perfect? I can only imagine how fun they must be when it is high tide.

Our favorite UK park...St. James's Park. Green, beautiful and full of interesting birds. That is Buck Palace just above it.

Some time spent in Constable Country on the border of Suffolk and Essex was inspiring. Easy to see how the breathtaking countryside inspired hometown artist John Constable to pick up the paintbrush!

Good, good times.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ahhh, Summer

Summer is flying by. It has been one of many travels but making time for fun in our favorite hometown on New York. Some of our annual events have happened...Swedish Fest, family dances at North Cove, excursions to our favorite beach in Jersey and our beloved drumming circles at Wagner. We have appreciated new and innovative playgrounds. The very favorite being Imagination Playground. Collaboration is the key and a fantastic one at that. Love it.

We have traveled to Texas and ate bbq and Tex-Mex to our delight. We traveled to the heartland of America in Nebraska and visited with friends that are family. Tomorrow's travels will take us across the pond to London. We are thrilled to explore what is the hometown of many of our NYC friends. We have a list of tips and insight to fill our days.

Is it possible the sun is already setting earlier to signal that Fall is not far off? The school bell will soon be ringing but not before we enjoy the last weeks of a blissful summer. Fall looks to be promising and the visitors list is growing.

Have you ever seen the sun set over the Hudson River? It is a moment that evening after evening takes my breath away.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Smoke On

We lucked out today with tickets and ferry passes to the Red Bull Air Race. Having only very recently even heard of this sport we were thrilled to go check it out. A neighbor rang our doorbell at 10:30 am today and said, "Get dressed and go to the race!" We followed her orders and it was great. If you aren't familiar with the Air Race check it out here. These are some of the best pilots in the world! They must also have an extreme personality to do the things they were doing.

The Air Race was an easy and quick commute via ferry. Landing in Jersey City it was Red Bull City plus. It is a top notch affair and the marketing and branding was brilliant. Three giant grandstands were set up just feet away from were the race was taking place. The majestic NY Harbor was the race site. Giant floating inflatable pylones are set up as an obstacle course for these incredible fliers. Pre-race we saw the tricked up Red Bull Helicopter. Ever seen a helicopter do back flips? It was very cool and crazy sight to see an aerobatic helicopter. Other festivities included plenty of parachuters, great music and some fun activities for the kids. Guess what the only cola available on premises was? You got it! Red Bull.

After taking our seats in the grandstands we were anxious to get the race on. The announcers were amazing at educating us on the race we were witnessing. My favorite bit of lingo from the day is most definitely "Smoke On" It was the last thing said when the airplanes dropped into race position. These little planes fly through the starting gate at more than 220 mph. It was pure adrenaline watching these planes flying at you just 10-20 feet above the water

The tickets were such a lovely surprise from a lovely neighbor. We were thrilled to check out the fun! Our favorite racer...Kirby Chambliss.

Smoke On!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I have to admit the past year I have been partaking in some fun free a studio audience member. Fortune has given me the chance to see Martha Stewart (3 times!), Dr. Oz (never had heard of him and quickly discovered he has a cult-like following), The Marriage Ref, Carson Daly's New Year's Eve Special (blogged about in December), The Late Show with David Letterman and today I found myself at a taping for CBS Morning Show with a Christina Aguilera concert. All and all, not bad for my rookie year of a "studio audience member."

photo compliments of Mrs J. Brown

I have learned a few things, enjoyed watching the logistics of the shows and even scored some fun giveaways along the way. Martha Stewart is by far the easiest experience. She has her own compound. The line moves quickly, there are seats while waiting and they typically move you into the studio without much wait. And Martha has some great audience giveaways. Martha is definitely an awesome business woman and it shows. She is also humorous and very becoming in person.

The hardest audience experience are shows that tape at 30 Rock. I would chalk most of it up to the fact that there are a billion things going on in that complex so logistics are a little more difficult. Audience members are lined up and held for pretty long and typically moved to another area with some hurry up and wait. That being said I thoroughly enjoyed the Marriage Ref. Not so much for the show itself but the fact Jerry Seinfeld spent some time chatting with the audience. Pretty cool.

Letterman was awesome because he is Letterman! That experience was easy and fun as well since he has his own studio. Making the experience even better was we had "group tickets" so it was fun to be with ten of my favorite people.

Get studio audience tickets if you have a chance. Wear comfortable shoes, relax during the waiting part and sit back and enjoy the show! It's free...does it get any better?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

So close...

Summer time is nearing. Manhattan is spectacular in the spring but I am ready for the sun! This month Brooklyn called our name three times and Staten Island and Queens earned our attention once. The "other" boroughs seem far away but in reality they are our next door neighbors. As prior post show I do have some love for Brooklyn, particularly the beaches. With family visiting we took an express bus and landed in Coney Island mid-May. It was a pleasure to show off the wild world of Coney Island. After a enjoying the views on the boardwalk we stopped in and said hello to Lola Star. Lola is a fixture in Coney Island and breaths her fabulous soul and spirit in her boardwalk store. Make sure you stop in someday and check out Lola, Shimmer and the pink feather walls. After the smaller visitors took in a ride at Deno's Wonder Wheel we all gathered and enjoyed the fare at the famous Nathan's.

Memorial Day weekend led some of us to Staten Island for a baby shower. Having only driven across Staten Island this was technically a first visit. The celebration was truly one of a kind. If you have never been to an Albanian baby shower you might put it on your list of "totally incredible things I have never been a part of!" The shower started at noon and went non-stop until 5 pm. The only reason the party ended was because the dj had another gig. Yes, I said dj. Not only did this baby shower offer a dancefloor, it offered two singing djs. Does it get any better? Amazing Albanian disco and pop blared and the circle dances were continuous. Needless to say it was a pleasure to be one of three non-Albanians invited to this incredible affair. The best piece of knowledge I gained was that Albanians like to mix red wine with Coca Cola. You read that right. Awesome. They even have a pop hit about that very subject. I have been to a lot of baby showers in my life but nothing even remotely close to this one. It was incredibly fun and an honor to be a part of these party people.

Brilliant sunshine begged us to go out and soak in the rays on Memorial Day. Once again we hopped on an express bus and ended up in Brighton Beach. Having just discovered this little beautiful neighborhood in the spring it was a pleasure to be back. The sand was clean and the people bright. Colorful swimsuits were sported by people of all ages in this most agreeable weather. Russian is what we heard from at least 90% of the beach dwellers. While partaking of vitamin D my mind wandered to the older folks on the seaside and wondered if their minds wandered to their days on the shores of the Black Sea? And how fun that the public restrooms (yuck, but necessary for days on the beach) were dolled up in artificial flowers and pictures of American presidents. Cannot vouch if the mens room was the glitzed up as well.

Last but not least May led us to the discovery of Jamaica Bay. To be honest it was a classroom field trip and bus ride courtesy of the NYC Dept of Ed that led us there but wow what a place! For those not in the know NYC is a huge spot for birding particularly during spring migration. Birding could be a post all its own. Jamaica Bay is the most important birding spot in NYC. More than 300 birds have been spotted at this bird sanctuary. The osprey nest was a huge hit among the shorter crowd. Glossy Ibis, yellow warblers, tree swallows and the ever popular cedar waxwing were oohhed and awed over. I have to admit that birding can become addicting. It is quite the exercise in patience yet being on top of your game. Jamaica Bay is the most important urban wildlife refuge in the country. I am looking forward to visiting it again in the near future. What a beautiful natural treasure within the world of New York City.

Summer is so close we can taste it.

Bring on the Summer.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

no passport needed

The beautiful weather led us to journey outside of Manhattan. And as luck would have it the Q train deposited us right in the middle of Brighton Beach otherwise known as Little Odessa. Every nook and cranny is Russian. Every sign is in Russian. Every conversation we attempted to eavesdrop on was in Russian. Every restaurant was well, Russian. It is incredible and certainly deserves a complete day of its own tour.

If we had not already promised our smallest traveler a trip to the infamous Nathan's down the boardwalk in Coney Island we definitely would have dined at the this place! It is right on the boardwalk and looks to be not only delicious but filled with great characters as well. It has been bumped up to the top of "Must do in Near Future" list.

After a cold, snowy, wet, did I mention cold, snowy, cold winter we were soaking in every ounce of sunshine available. We walked to Brighton Beach's most eclectic neighbor...the one and only Coney Island. As previous posts mention, I heart Coney Island. The color, the sounds, the people, the smells make it truly one of a kind. Even on this random warmth of a mid-March day the boardwalk was alive and filled. Nathan's had many people in line to enjoy the birthplace of the famous hot dog. It was as if a huge winter cloud had been lifted...and it had!

While the sand in Coney Island is not the greatest we took direction from the sun and enjoyed a view hours of the beach.

Kites were flying, children were playing and the waves sounded like true music to our ears.

This week's forecast doesn't look so grand. After discovering a new place to check out (Brighton Beach) and soaking up some delicious rays of goodness from the sun I think we just might be able to make it through. Spring has to be on her way right?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

District of Columbia

Last weekend we headed to Penn Station and hopped on Amtrak to Washington, DC. Three hours later we were smack in the middle of our Nation's Capital. It has been eight years since last enjoying DC. It is a lovely place. The entire area was still wrapped in a thick blanket of snow. The white made some of the sights even more spectacular. Thomas Jefferson was thick with the white. The Korean War Memorial was even more realistic with the soldiers trudging through the heavy white. As a daughter of a veteran it made it even more touching. When reading about the Korean War there is always mention of the terrible winter conditions. Seeing the statues in that exact climate makes one reflect even deeper on what these men did for our country.

On our trip to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum we had the honor of the seeing the ground breaking Tuskegee Airman. It was quite a lasting lesson and they looked spry in their red coats. The notorious Abe Lincoln had a breathtaking view of a frozen solid Reflecting Pool. We spent many a fun moment taking the opportunity to walk and play on the frozen water in the shadows of our Nation's treasures.

Sunday morning we started the day in the Sculpture Garden of the National Art Gallery. The whimsical and thought provoking pieces were amazing. And who knew our second grader could give us a lesson and insight on the works of Claus Oldenburg?

Georgetown, Embassy Row, the National Cathedral were all taken in with oohhing and ahhing by us. The trip was made even better by a tasty Italian meal and chin-wag evening with a dear friend.

It had been too long since we enjoyed DC. It will now be a more regular journey.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

tempesta di neve

Ahh, the first blizzard of 2010 greeted NYC today. The forecast was right and the snow had continued to pile up all day. No complaints here. City living is very lovely in the snow. We can be lazy and play inside while someone else shovels and plows. Living vertically does have its benefits. Yes, we know the next several days will be filled with the not so pretty yellow and gray snow. Hopefully it will disappear quickly.

To continue our tradition of going out in blizzards we headed to the Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side. Cirque du Soleil was offering an open rehearsal of their latest show Banana Shpeel. We got there in time but the crowd was lined up around two blocks. It was great to see people come out in the worst of weather to catch a glimpse of artists truly honing their craft before show opening. We spent the afternoon in awe taking in the talent in the rawest form. We feel fortunate to catch a behind the scenes view of what it takes to make a spectacular end product.

All and all our first heavy snow of the new year has been nice. Bloomberg and Klein surprised us all by canceling school...that never ever happens. So far tomorrow looks to be back on schedule. We hope the weather does clear. We plan to head to our very own nation's capitol of Washington, DC. They are filled to the brim with snow, so we shall see.

Stay warm.