life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, May 30, 2014

pizza in the Bronx

John's, one of our favorite Times Square eateries, is now on Arthur Avenue!

We were a large group, celebrating a special occasion.  Service was pleasant and efficient.  Food was as expected.  Fried calamari was crisp, not greasy or chewy, and was served with marinara sauce.  Garlic bread was hot and fresh.  Pastas were served with just the right amount of sauce.  But the star of the show is the brick oven pizza; we were seated near the oven and could see the pizzas as they emerged, hot and crisp, with a variety of toppings, and quickly sliced and served.  They don't serve slices, but they do have individual pizzas on the menu now.

Definitely worth a visit.


 John's of Times Square on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Nice to be appreciated

I went grocery shopping this evening. I had a very long list, there are 8 people and 2 cats in residence.

Becca was feeling a bit bored, she is home from school and hasn't started working yet, so she decided to come with me. It was nice having the company, I usually shop alone.

So I had her check things off the list as we shopped, and she enjoyed pushing the shopping cart through the store.

Took us over an hour.

As we were checking out, she said to me, "Wow, you do this every week? You really know what you're doing, you know where everything is, you pretty much knew what was on the list without my telling you. Wow."

I guess if you're used to buying for one person and your shopping trips take all of 20 minutes . . .

Well, anyhow, it's nice to be appreciated.


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Monday, May 26, 2014

Italian pastry...yum

Cute neighborhood bakery on Arthur Avenue.  The focus here is on pastries and cookies, anything you can order to go with a cup of coffee.  Wound up bringing home  mini cannoli, lace cookies, rainbow cookies and sugar cookies.  Everything was fresh and tasty. Pity I don't get up to the Bronx all that often.


Palombo Bakery on Urbanspoon

Sunday, May 25, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

When we saw the trailer for this movie, Drew got all excited. He loves the X-Men series, and predicted "Days of a Future Past" would be one of this summer's real blockbusters.

And then I said "I have never seen any of the X-Men movies."

He looked at me as if I'd grown another head.

None of the X-Men films are stand-alone sequels, each builds on the previous movie.


Well, I really like Stan Lee's other creation, "Spider-Man". He was always cool. And, of course, there's "The Avengers". You know, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America. Great stuff.


So I binge-watched all of the X-Men movies. And other than a nightmare where Wolverine was singing "Bring Him Home", I actually enjoyed the series.

The new movie is a worthy addition. We saw it in RPX 3D, so the special effects were dazzling. But the movie is good even without the 3D effects. Wolverine is sent back in time to 1973, in the hope he can alter the future. Simple science fiction plot, but done very well here. (And as you know, I have a fondness for the 70's.). Lots of action, many occasions for the superheroes to use their powers, as you would expect in this genre.

But what really captures me is the overriding theme of the X-Men saga.the mutants are an analogy for the Jewish people. It's no coincidence that Erik/Magnito is a Holocaust survivor who was the subject of Nazi experiments. The mutants are both envied and feared, ostracized, subjected to scientific experimentation, threatened with annihilation. The debates between Erik and Charles Xavier are about morals and ethics -- do we fight back, get them before they get us, or do we try to integrate into the larger society, try to create peaceful coexistence?

Yes, definitely a movie -- or rather, movie series -- worth watching.


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Friday, May 23, 2014

girl drama

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Both of my daughters are dealing with "girl drama" right now.  I thought that would be over as they left their teens behind, but them again, I know lots of adult women who thrive on "girl drama".


Jen's drama comes from cheer leading.  The irony is that when Jen was a cheerleader, her coach actively discouraged girl drama.   The source of Jen's aggravation isn't the girls on the team.  The short version is that other people want her job as varsity coach and are trying to undermine her authority.  She's handling it nicely, has the support of the school administration, and the girls on the team love her.  But there's lots of aggravation,  I'm hoping next year will be quieter than this year, and that she can concentrate on coaching instead of drama.


Becca's issue is with one of her roommates.  They've been living together for two years, and as far as I knew  they were friends.  Now that they've had a major falling out, I"m hearing about all the prior incidents, all the drama that this girl created.  The current argument?  The roommates all graduated last weekend, but the lease does't expire until the end of July.  Miss Drama Queen wants to move out now, she has another apartment lined up, and she wants to sublet her room to a guy who's taking summer school classes.  Becca doesn't want to live with a stranger, and when she pointed out that the lease doesn't allow for subleases, Miss Drama Queen began harassing Becca via text message in the hopes she would change her mind.

Sigh.





Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cheesecake Factory

Dinner with an old friend last week, at one of my favorite chains.

We have been going to this location for a very long time and have always enjoyed it. Though I have to wonder how much longer this location will remain open, as it is located in the dying Source Mall.

Chocolate martinis no longer appear on the menu, but the bartender was very happy to make one for me -- smooth and creamy and just slightly sweet.

The bread basket contains both white and whole wheat, served with sweet butter.

We chose two appetizers. Stuffed mushrooms were pretty much standard, ok but not exciting. Fried macaroni and cheese was interesting -- macaroni and cheese, shaped into balls, breaded and fried, then served with Parmesan cheese and marinara sauce. Very rich, overindulgent dish.

My entree was Moroccan chicken -- grilled chicken cutlets served over couscous with fruit and nuts. There's just a little bit of a kick to the dish, not spicy but definitely interesting seasonings.

Of course we had dessert. How could you not, in a place called The a Cheesecake Factory? I always go for the plain cheesecake served with strawberries and whipped cream. Heaven on a plate.

The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Graduation

So yes, Becca graduated from college on Saturday, with a substantial entourage of friends and relatives in attendance. And now I find myself in the role I have been drifting towards, that of mother to independent adults.

Or rather, semi-independent. Becca is looking for a job, she is not yet employed. Jen is underemployed, not earning enough to be truly independent.

But we are definitely on our way.


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Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Fangirling"

That's the word Becca used to describe her feelings for Justice Sotomayor yesterday. Her Honor received an honorary degree at Becca's graduation.

And you could have played a drinking game to Tino Martinez' keynote address -- how many times would he refer to the graduates as "you guys"? But his speech was fairly interesting for someone who is not a professional speaker.

Though Father McShane, the president of the university, is clearly a Yankees fan.


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Thursday, May 15, 2014

fitness!

My newest toy:  the iHealth wireless activity and sleep tracker.  Placed my order a few days ago, and it should be arriving very soon.  A friend of mine uses a Fitbit, and loves it.  This product does the same thing as a Fitbit, but for a lot less money.  The one caveat --  while Fitbit can sync with iphones and android phones, the iHealth device can only be used with Apple products.  Not an issue for me, I'll sync it with my iPad.

It's time to ge tmore active, I've been sitting on my butt for far too long, and a gadget like this will help me get motivated.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

make up and cosmetics

Growing up, I was never "into"  make up and cosmetics.I experimented with products occasionally, but most of the time I didn't use much make up.  Usually I wore it when I was going out, or for a special occasion.

When I was going through chemo 9 years ago, the American cancer Society program "Look Good, Feel Better" was a lifesaver.  I never left the house without my wig, my drawn-on eyebrows and some added color in my cheeks.

Then, when I felt better, I stopped wearing make up on a daily basis.  Don't know why.

but the last few weeks I've been wearing make up to work.  Not much, just some tinted moisturizer, a little neutral eyeshadow, mascara and lipstick. And I've been getting amazing compliments!

So I guess I'll be wearing make up every day from now on.

Just signed up for an Ipsy glam bag....


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Embassy Suites and the Paddock Grille -- Lexington, KY

Embassy Suites is my employer's preferred hotel in the Lexington area. It's located in a commercial/industrial area just a short drive from the airport, so a tourist would find nothing of interest in the immediate neighborhood. But the hotel is clean and comfortable and offers various amenities aimed at the business traveller. I thought the atrium, at the center of the hotel, was very pretty, but on at least one occasion the fountains were over-chlorinated and the smell of chlorine was obvious.

My room ... was actually a suite. Living room with sofa, armchair, coffee table, desk with two chairs, flat screen TV. Small kitchenette area with a sink, refrigerator and microwave. Nice sized bathroom with Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries (mmm ... Avocado). Bedroom with two queen beds, flat screen TV and a second desk/chair. Bed was very comfortable. Thermostat was easily accessible. Actually a lot more space than I needed. No complaints.

Didn't have time to use the fitness center or indoor pool. The gift shop is very small and sells very little except snacks and drugstore items such as Tylenol and toothbrushes.

The Paddock Grille sits in the middle of the atrium. It offers a complimentary cooked to order breakfast and a reception every evening. I never ate in the restaurant, but did order two dinners from room service.

The first night I ordered fried green tomatoes, which I had never had before, and a hamburger served with beer cheese. The abatter on the tomatoes was light and crisp, not greasy, but I just didn't care for the texture of the tomatoes. The burger was completely covered in beer cheese, and I discovered I don't like beer cheese. The burger itself was tasty, though. The potato wedges, however, were crisp and flavorful. Would definitely order a burger again, with the potatoes.

Second night I ordered house salad and spaghetti with meat balls. Loved the Catalina dressing on my salad. Liked the shaved Parmesan on the pasta. Meatballs very very bland.


Staff was friendly and efficient. Overall a very good experience, I could see why my company chose this hotel.



The Paddock Grille on Urbanspoon
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Monday, May 12, 2014

Milleridge Inn for Sunday brunch

We decided to try the Milleridge Inn for Mother's Day brunch. Years ago this was my family's "go-to" place for special occasions, but I hadn't been in years.

The place has been operating as a restaurant since colonial times, the original part of the building dates back to the 18th century, so you know what kind of atmosphere to expect.

There was a nice selection at the buffet, including breakfast dishes such as scrambled eggs and French toast, as well as lunch dishes such as quiche, stuffed shrimp, salads, etc. There was a carving station with turkey and lamb, and cooked to order omelets and waffles. Food was good for the most part, though the lamb was a bit tough. Cocktail shrimp were excellent. Tart shell on the dessert table was under baked, so I contented myself with the strawberries and whipped cream.

Service was friendly and efficient. The staff did have a bit of a struggle to keep up with the demand at the buffet table, there were a few empty serving dishes when I got to the buffet, but the dishes didn't stay empty too long. We were initially served cold coffee, but it was quickly replaced. My daughter was disappointed that she could not order a mimosa - we were seated at 11:00 and alcoholic beverages are not available until noon.

Afterwards we walked through the "village" and browsed in the shops. Nice atmosphere.


I think we have found another brunch place.





Milleridge Inn on Urbanspoon - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, May 8, 2014

video -- Kentucky Horse Park

Horses of the World finale:


Horse Park photos

When you arrive at bluegrass Airport, you know you're in horse country. You get a little preview of what you will find elsewhere. Here are two photos from the airport, I saw this as I was walking from the terminal to the car rental garage.
 

At  the horse park -- this is from the Horses of the World show:


 Here's one of the racing champions, a very hadsome horse indeed.

 


After the Horses of the World show, we got to meet some of the horses and their riders.


 

This is a rare breed from India.  the ears rotate 180 degrees!
 

Another racing champion:

 


Self-explanatory:
 
 The Man O'War Memorial:

 

And Secretariat:

 


Inside the museum:
 

 And they even have ponies:


 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Kentucky Horse Park

When you arrive at Bluegrass Field, on the grounds of the airport you will find sculptures of horses with jockeys and trainers, reminders that you are in "horse country".


So what do you do when you're in horse country and you've got a few hours to kill?

Well, unless you hate horses, you head to the Kentucky Horse Park, of course.

There are two aspects to the park, historical exhibits and living horses housed there.

Even before you enter the Visitor's Center, you can view tributes to Man o' War, considered to be the greatest racehorse of his time, and Triple Crown winner Secretariat.

Included with your admission is entry into the International Museum of the Horse. I didn't go into the museum until very late in the afternoon, when I was tired and hungry, so it felt a bit overwhelming. Yes, there really is a lot to see in the museum. The evolution of the horse in prehistoric times, the development of the horse's relationship with humans. Horses were once considered prey until they were domesticated! There were exhibits about horses and chariots in ancient Egypt, horse racing at the Circus Maximus in Rome, knights in full armor astride their horses, Conquistadors bringing horses to the new world.

There is an exhibit of all the different sports which use horses. The emphasis is on Thoroughbred racing, of course, with the bright silks of the jockeys, the Kentucky farms that breed them, and the trophies won in all those races. But I also saw a lot about harness racing, polo, steeplechase, fox hunting ...

There's a separate wing devoted to Arabian horses. Beautiful animals. There's a small reading nook within this exhibit, where I found a carefully-preserved display of books -- Walter Farley's "Black Stallion" series, which kept me entertained for most of 4th grade.

But what I really came to see were the horses themselves.

You can wander the grounds and find horses in their stables and paddocks. Better yet, there are several short shows throughout the day where you can see horses in action.

"Horses of the World" involved several different breeds of horse riding around a ring, with riders in costume. Afterwards the audience is invited to meet the horses up close and personal. I especially liked a rare breed from India -- the horse has unusual ears, they can rotate 180 degrees.

I also saw the show at the Hall of Champions. There are several retired racehorses living on the grounds of the park, and I got to see four of them. Each horse was walked around the ring to be admired. A video was played to explain the horse's exploits. I saw three Thoroughbreds (including two Kentucky Derby winners), and a harness racing champion who spent a considerable amount of his career at the Meadowlands in New Jersey.


There's a lot more to do, especially if you have children -- ride a horse or a pony, ride in a horse-drawn trolley. They also offer tours of area horse farms. And, of course, there's a gift shop.

If you are a serious horse racing fan, this is a "vacation destination". For the rest of us, it's a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.



Pictures to follow.



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My Lexington adventure begins

When I work from home, I access the company's computer system from a terminal that connects to the internet and creates a virtual desktop for me. But before I had the company's hardware at home, just after a Superstorm Sandy, I downloaded software to my laptop which allowed me to access the virtual desktop remotely.

So my plan was to bring the laptop to Kentucky, to get some work done.

Only problem is, a year and a half after Sandy, the software has been upgraded and is no longer compatible with my old laptop, which runs Windows Vista.

Vista? Isn't that a program from the dawn of time?

Well, yeah, it is.

But wait a minute, I just got a new laptop. It runs Windows 8.

Also not compatible.


So the laptop stayed home.


Which gave me a free afternoon.



So off I went to explore.


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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Kentucky-bound

Car service to JFK. Self check-in at the kiosk, print boarding pass. No checked luggage, so I head straight to the gate. Easy to see who is familiar with TSA procedures and who is not. I've done this often enough to have the routine down.


Pick up a bagel and coffee on my way to the gate. That place calls itself the Brooklyn Deli? The bagel was definitely not Brooklynesque. A late-arriving flight attendant delays boarding. I see Drew called while I was going through security. (ear worm time -- "Going through security, I held her for so long . . ."). Call him back, leave a voice mail message.

Settled in my seat. Guy next to me is with his 6 year old son, they're headed home to Florida after 9 days at Sloan Kettering (kid is doing well),

Aren't iPads a wonderful invention? Read two newspapers, played a few games.

We'll be landing soon. Short layover in Charlotte, then the journey continues.


OMG I have to get from one end of the terminal to the other to make the connecting flight. In 47 minutes. At least I'm alone. Last time I did this, Drew and I had an infant and a toddler and a ton of gear with us, and dog traveling as cargo.

I've never been on a jet this small, I have to check my carry on because it won't fit in the overhead bin, and I have to walk outside and climb up the stairs to get into the plane. I am one of the last to board.

I'm in row 13, the very last row in the plane. I have the aisle seat but the window seat is empty. The lavatory is across the aisle, so I am the only passenger in row 13. Don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

(When I went to San Diego a few years ago, I was in the last row of a much larger plane, and was very annoyed until I realized I didn't have a seat mate. Loved the extra space.)

Lexington is a relatively small airport. Off the plane, down to baggage claim and into my rental car in record time.

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Dinner and a show

After seeing Spider-Man sling his webs through Times Square Friday night, on Saturday we got to see the real deal.

Times Square on Saturday night is a truly amazing experience. The crowds of tourists. The tour bus guys trying to sell you a ride. The comedy club guys selling tickets. We saw a young woman in Fossee-esque garb drumming up business for "Chicago". The costumed characters -- Mickey Mouse, Elmo, the Avengers -- posing for photos. Street musicians. Cops on horseback. Pedicabs.

Our evening began at Bubba Gump's. Yes it's a chain, and very touristy, but we like it. A bit overpriced, of course. But as I said before, they have all the movie details down -- you almost feel you're on the set.

Food was decent. We started with speckled lemonade -- lemonade with strawberry mixed in. Very refreshing.

The menu says appetizers serve two. Garlic bread was simple -- just butter and garlic on Italian bread. There was easily enough bread for 3 or 4 people.

I ordered the fried shrimp. Very tasty shrimp served with fries and two dipping sauces -- cocktail sauce with just enough "kick" and very bland tarter sauce. Cole slaw was equally bland.

Drew ordered a dish with four different types of shrimp -- fried shrimp, coconut shrimp, shrimp tempura and "chilly shrimp" (peel and eat cocktail shrimp). Served with fries and three dipping sauces -- cocktail sauce, teriyaki and Cajun marmalade. He didn't care for the marmalade.

Next it was on the the Imperial Theater, for the revival of "Les Miserables".

I saw the original production of Les Miz 8 times. Saw a student production of the show that Cameron MacIntosh helped stage. Saw the movie the day it opened.

This production has restaged the musical, made it fresh and new and yet oh so familiar. I was lip synching along with the performers.

Drew said to me "You were actually crying."

Yes, yes I was.





Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. on Urbanspoon




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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Spring fever

A certain young feline of my acquaintance is literally running through the house, climbing and jumping and chasing her toy mouse.


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Friday, May 2, 2014

The Amazing Spider Man 2

Spoiler alert!











Overall I enjoyed this movie. I loved how it was filmed in NYC, could recognize many of the locations.

But it did drag a bit in some places.

I thought they spent too much time on the Peter/Gwen romance. A lot of angst. And a very weird resolution.

Stan Lee always seems to enjoy his cameos.

The film is definitely better in IMAX 3D.


Loved the "X-Men" tease halfway through the credits. Was disappointed that there wasn't anything at the very end of the credits - Marvel is falling down on the job.


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Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Wantable box

The May accessories box arrived today.

There were three items.

First was a gorgeous orange scarf.  Lots of different textures in the material.  I'm trying to figure out what it will go with.

Next was a watch.  Chunky, bronze toned links.  The face is kind of quirky, only the "9" and the "3" are visible.  The clasp is easy to handle.  But there is no way to adjust the strap.  It fits my wrist, but it feels snug.  It won't be comfortable on a hot day.

The necklace is definitely a statement piece.  Very earthy, almost primitive.  Should be interesting to wear.

Tai Show Fusion

So I was getting a little bored with the lunch options around here, and decided to go for something a little different.  I've driven by Tai Show many times, thought I'd give it a try.

They do sushi and what they call "kitchen" dishes -- teriyaki, tempura, hibachi.  It was lunch time, I was doing takeout, so I opted for a bento box, which gives you a taste of several different dishes. The box comes with miso soup, salad, shumai, California roll, your choice of entree and white rice.

The miso soup looked appetizing, with bits of tofu and seaweed floating in it.  It tasted like ...well, like sea water.  guess I'm not a fan of miso soup.  The salad was primarily iceberg lettuce with that ubiquitous ginger dressing -- also not my favorite.

But the rest of the box --  the shumai were delicate and flavorful, the California roll was fresh and satisfying.  The shrimp teriyaki was very well prepared, large shrimp with a nice mixture of onions, mushrooms, carrots and broccoli.

So next time -- and there will of course be a next time -- I won't order the bento box. 








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