life in and around NYC is insane

Thursday, January 29, 2015

imagine if...

so tired of winter...


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

songbird salutes the 70's -- Mummenschanz




The commercials were all over the TV -- Come see Mummenschanz on Broadway.

So what was Mummenschanz?  Something weird, something different, but very entertaining.  A mime troop, they performed their vignettes on a bare stage, with very interesting masks and costumes and props.  In fact, the masks and costumes BECAME the props. They performed in silence, no music or dialog.  They were funny, quirky, charming.


The show ran on Broadway for 3 years.


I never got a chance to see it.


Until last weekend,



Mummenschanz is touring the USA again.  We saw the performance at the Tilles Center (CW Post/Long Island University).


It's a family friendly show, there were a lot of children in the audience.  the style of performance is mime, but it's a very athletic, acrobatic version of the art.

The show starts with two performers, dressed as hands in white gloves, opening the curtain and letting the audience into the Mummenshanz world.  I think my favorite was the flirtation between two characters, each with a mask made out of rolls of paper -- his paper was blue, hers was pink.  The characters with the clay masks, which were molded and reshaped during the performance, were clever too.  Loved the slinky-like pipe that threw the giant ball out to the audience.  And the bendable glow stick masks were delightful.

It was a  fun, quirky, amusing afternoon.



(photos courtesy of the Mummenshcanz website)


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snowed in

Yeah, I think we got a little snow.


It wasn't the "end of the world" storm they were predicting, but we did get a significant snow. It's worse at my parents' than here at Drew's. They've lifted the travel ban, but most businesses are closed today -- including my office.

We will have to dig out later, but for now...I'm enjoying an unexpected day of leisure.

Monday, January 26, 2015

hunkering down part 2

So Drew is back home, and the cars have been arranged on the driveway to facilitate shoveling out after the storm.


Becca changed her mind and went home.  She left work at noon so she'd be home before rush hour -- after she heard  that NYC subways  LIRR and MetroNorth, as well as the highways, were planning to shut down. Mayor DiBlasio has announced a complete travel ban for the city, and the governor is anticipating a similar ban for the state.   Seems that we've been hit with so many bad storms that our government agencies have learned to anticipate and prepare for transit problems.


Drew's school district decided on early dismissal,today,  and the NYC public schools will be closed tomorrow.  I got a text message from my public library that the buildings would close at noon.  Surprisingly, however, although our school district cancelled after school activities, they did not go for early dismissal, and did not announce that school will be closed tomorrow.

So I have the TV news on, and they're talking about cancelled flights, cancelled sporting events (Knicks and Nets were both supposed to play tonight), school closings, travel bans.  Even Broadway shows are cancelled tonight.

There are a couple of inches on the ground, but it's getting heavier now...

hunkering down

Stormaggedon.  Snowpocalypse.  Words being bandied about by the TV meteorologists.  No doubt about it, a blizzard is headed our way.  They're saying we could get two feet of snow.  The light snow began about an hour ago, the heart of the storm is expected tonight.

So I'm weathering the storm at Drew's house.  Becca is headed to her friend's apartment in the city.    My parents and sisters will be holding down the fort at home.  Not sure what Jen plans to do, maybe her boyfriend's house, maybe a friend's, maybe she'll stay home.  The house is still in the process of renovations, they don't have a working kitchen, but with the new boiler just installed, at least they'll be warm.

The supermarket and gas station were crazy last night.  I think people lose their minds when a bad storm is coming.  A friend of mine calls it a "French toast emergency", people go nuts buying milk and bread and eggs,

The thing that I am truly thankful for today?  Remote access.  I am sitting in Drew's den, about to begin my work day.  No need to panic over missed work days, my laptop is the only tool I need.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

lazy Saturday

It's 4:00 in the afternoon, and I am still in my pajamas.  And I have no intention of changing into other clothes at any point today. And I have done nothing all day except eat, watch TV and play on the computer.


And I feel absolutely no guilt at all about that.

Friday, January 23, 2015

On Parade Diner

On Parade Diner on Urbanspoon


Yes, I know, I spend far too much time in diners.  But here on Long Island, we are blessed with a plethora of such places, offering large portions of good food at reasonable prices. I'm fairly certain that there's no such thing as a "bad diner around here, because such a place would be quickly killed by the competition.  So I'm always amazed when I see bad reviews for diners that have been in business for decades. 

My experience with On Parade Diner was entirely positive.   We stopped here for breakfast one morning.  I found the décor -- 1950's rock and roll fantasy -- charming, the waitress friendly and outgoing.

And the food?  My waffle was crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, and accompanied by a generous portion of bacon.  Coffee was hot and fresh.  Orange juice was fresh squeezed and full of pulp.   A pleasant meal.  Definitely worth a return trip.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Swiss Fudge Cookies!!!!

Years ago, when Stella D'Oro was still a family-owned business, there was a commercial for Swiss Fudge Cookies. The husband came home with expensive gifts - jewelry, furs, etc, - and the wife was disappointed because he didn't bring home Swiss a Fudge Cookies from Stella D'Oro.

So of course I had to try them.

A small, plain cookie filled with the most decadent fudge ...

Heaven.

I don't buy them often, they're so addicting. I mean, seriously, I could eat the whole package without even thinking about it ...

I was in the supermarket the other day and found ...


This:







When did they start making chocolate Swiss Fudge Cookies? And how come I didn't know about it?

Would they be pure heaven, or would the chocolate cookie base be overkill?


Of course I had to try them.


What makes the original cookie so great is that the cookie base is not overly sweet. It's plain, like shortbread, or like a Stella D'Oro Breakfast Treat.

Same holds true for the chocolate cookie. There's a chocolate taste to the cookie, but it's not overpowering. It complements the rich fudge.

A new addiction is born.







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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Fire and Ice

So I spent the three day weekend at Drew's house. Went home Monday afternoon...to a trio of 'heating and air conditioning" vans on the driveway.

Seems that the boiler - installed new when the house was built in 1968 - called it quits Friday night. Pilot light would not stay lit. Component parts were not replaceable. Repairman says this type of boiler was meant to last about 25 years max, so no complaints. Still, replacing the boiler proved to be expensive and time consuming

And it made for a very chilly weekend at the old homestead. Most of the family bailed out, stayed with friends. I wound up back at Drew's.

But it was time to bring back the family story ...

My mother always complained that the den was too dark, that the windows didn't let in enough light.

January 1978. An ice storm hit Long Island. The trees looked absolutely beautiful coated in a thick glaze. Except when they were cracked and falling from the weight. And dragging down power lines.

Our house was hit hard. Our whole neighborhood lost power for 5 days. No electricity or heat.

Many of our neighbors sought refuge in nearby hotels or with friends who didn't lose power. Others chose to stay and tough it out. They built fires in their fireplaces and cooked over Sterno.

But our house?


There was a tall oak tree in our yard, so tall and so old that it had branches as thick and heavy as some other trees. One of those branches knocked over our chimney and crashed through the roof of our den, making the fireplace inaccessible and useless.

The twins were 10 years old at the time; they were sent to stay at a friend's house. But the rest of us stayed at the house. In the cold. The brutal cold. We escaped to warm places during the day, but came home at night to sleep. With our coats on.
Pepi, our dog, cuddled under the blankets with us. Our cat Cinders spent a lot of time running back and forth to stay warm.


Afterwards, my parents didn't simply repair the den roof, they installed a skylight.




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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Colony Diner

Old friends who have moved away come back to visit. And where do we go for lunch? The diner, of course. There are lots of good diners on Long Island, but none at all where our friends live now.
So off we went to Colony Diner.
 
Lunchtime on the weekend and the place was crowded, but still they found a table for us with very little wait time. Service was friendly and efficient.
 
Food was ... Well, typical diner. Huge portions which, for the most part, were very tasty. Chief complaint of the meal -- the friend who ordered matzoh ball soup thought the matzoh balls were bland and would have been better if they'd simmered in the soup for awhile. The paninis were excellent -- I loved my Cubano (roast pork, ham, cheese and pickles). Steak and prime rib paninis were enjoyed as well. Fries were hot and crispy. No complaints about the bison burger or eggs Benedict.
 
Diner craving satisfied, our friends went in search of bagels for the long ride home ...



Colony Diner on Urbanspoon
 
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Sunday, January 18, 2015

Selma

Today is a holiday, in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.

So yesterday we saw the movie Selma.

The plot of the movie concerns the events in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Dr. King went to Selma to lead a protest march in support of legislation which would ultimately be called the Voting Rights Act of 1965. It was a violent time in American history, and the movie is not shy about portraying the violence.

The movie begins with Dr. King accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in December 1964.

Juxtaposed with this image of peace is a scene in a church.  A group of African American girls are  walking through the church, chatting about hairstyles...I knew what was going to happen, I remembered about the 1963 Birmingham church bombing ... Still, I jumped when the explosion came...

Overall I thought the movie accuratly portrayed the history and captured the mood of the Civil Rights movement.  Like many, I was not happy with the portrayal of LBJ as obstructing the legislation, when in fact he raised the concept of voting rights legislation prior to the events in Selma.

And I was surprised to learn that Malcolm X played a role in the events in Selma, showing up in support of King just 3 weeks before Malcolm X was killed.

Interesting exchange between LBJ and George Wallace.  Johnson tells Wallace to think about how they'll be remembered in 1985, when they will both be dead and gone.

Definitely worth seeing, both for the historical importance and the moving performances.


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Friday, January 16, 2015

Time, time, time



29 days until Valentine's Day.

33 days until my birthday.

64 days until spring.

Well, I have to look forward to something during this long, cold, gray, depressing winter.


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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Another this and that

Winter is not my friend. Lip balm, hand cream and Visine artificial tears are my current best friends.

At least I'm not standing in the cold every morning, waiting for a train. I like working closer to home.

Though I do have to make the occasional trip into the city, to see the client. 

Medical testing continues, for Drew as well as me. Current joke: we're both out of warranty, that's why everything is falling apart. We both have issues going on, but nothing life threatening.

My parents are having issues, too. But in their case, it's different...Yes, I am worried. 

Becca has been spending a lot of time with her friend who semi sort of lives in the city. Jen spends a lot of time at her boyfriend's house. I spend a lot of time at Drew's house.  So I don't get to see a lot of my kids these days ...

I am so looking forward to a three day weekend.  We have friends who moved to Florida coming to visit.

Moving to Florida sounds wonderful right about now.

Winter is not my friend.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Taco Perfectos redux

So it was Friday night and we wanted take out Mexican food. It was time to revisit Taco Perfectos.

No appetizer this time around. He had the a cheese quesadilla and the tortilla platter, I had the fajitas platter and an empanada filled with chili meat.

My platter came with steak, accompanied by sautéed vegetables-- onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms. Black beans were topped with a mild cheese. There were three small flour tortillas. Rice was flavorful -- and not dried out this time.

His platter was served with lettuce and fresh tomato salsa instead of the sautéed vegetables. Somehow he wound up with chicken instead of the steak he requested, but the chicken was very good.

The quesadilla was served with fresh salsa, sour cream and guacamole. The salsa has just enough of a kick to make it interesting. The guacamole was smooth and flavorful.

And this time around -- dessert.  Flan, to be exact.  It is served in little plastic containers, creamy custard with loads of caramel sauce on top.  I thought the sauce was a bit watery, but overall I enjoyed the dish.

The empanada was great served cold for breakfast the next morning.

Yes, definitely a keeper.

Taco Perfectos Fresh Mexican Grille on Urbanspoon

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Free sample!

Well, not entirely.   I paid for shipping and handling.  

But I'm eager to try this beauty cream.

All American

This place is legendary. A real landmark. You cannot write about burger joints on Long Island without mentioning All American.


The place opened in 1963, and when you go there, it's like stepping back in time.

It's a drive in. A hamburger stand. Plenty of parking, no place to sit and eat except in your car. We took our meal home.

Menu is typical fast food, burgers, hot dogs, shakes, fries. Prices are ridiculously low.

Food was good. Better than McDonald's or Burger King, definitely worth the price.

But here's the thing. I think nostalgia adds flavor to the experience, and since I was never a regular customer here (I've only been here a few times) I think I'm missing part of the experience.

Will I be back? Most definitely. Will I drive all the way to Massapequa just for take out? For Smokin' Al's, of course. But for All American, no.


All American Hamburger Drive-In on Urbanspoon
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Golden Express redux

Still loving their lunch specials.

On a recent visit I chose Szechuan beef, and added an egg roll instead of my usual can of soda.

The egg roll was pretty standard.  Crispy outside, lots of veggies and a little pork inside. 

The beef dish was amazing.  Tender slices of beef and a nice assortment of vegetables (pea pods, onions, carrots, peppers, water chestnuts) in a red sauce.  Billed as "hot and spicy", the sauce had just enough "kick" to create a bit of an afterburn without being overwhelming.  Perfect for someone who likes things just a bit spicy.  Menu says they can adjust the level of spice, since they cook your dish to order.


Hot and spicy baby shrimp was a bit of a disappointment.  Tasted great, but not enough shrimp -- it was more of a vegetable dish with a few shrimp thrown in for flavor,

Parking lot is still a royal pain, but I'm glad I found this place.

Golden Express Chinese Kitchen on Urbanspoon


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Premier Diner

Newsday calls this one of the best diners on Long Island.  I agree.  I've been coming here for awhile now, and I've always had a good experience.

We usually go for the full dinner here, but this time around we opted for cheeseburgers. The burgers were served on brioche buns, with ample portions of steak fries, onion rings, lettuce and tomato. Cole slaw and pickles accompanied the meal. Of course there were leftovers, the burgers are huge.

Service was friendly and efficient.

No beet salad, maybe because it was late in the evening when we arrived.

Overall another satisfactory diner experience.

Premier Diner on Urbanspoon

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Food memory....

Funny how certain foods bring back memories.  For  example, I can never eat gefilte fish without thinking about my grandmother, who made hers from scratch.    Spaghetti and meatballs is the meal my mother served my father on his birthday, the night before I was born.  My daughter Jen cannot celebrate her birthday properly unless there is a strawberry shortcake.

Back in the 1980's I found a recipe in a magazine for sweet and sour cocktail meatballs.  The recipe was fairly simple, and I made those meatballs several times, for parties and get-togethers. for some reason I stopped making them .  Then, about ten years ago I shared the recipe with a coworker.  She made them and served them as a main dish, over rice.    Lost touch with her when she left the company a few months later...

So we were planning New Year's Eve, and I got a craving for those meatballs.  I hadn't made them in years, but wanted to try them again.  I made them the day before the party, and we forgot to heat them up and serve them.  But that's OK, Drew and I ate them for lunch.

And two days before New Year's, the former coworker contacted me on Facebook, looking for the recipe!

You can find all sorts of variations of this recipe on the internet, but I like to keep it very basic:

For the meatballs:

1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup onion, chopped
salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients, form into 1 inch balls.  You can brown the meatballs in a little oil, or you can cook them in the sauce.

For the sauce:

one 12 ounce bottle chili sauce
one 10 ounce jar grape jelly

Melt the jelly in a sauce pan.  Add the chili sauce, stir to combine.  Add the meatballs.  Let them simmer at least 15 minutes if you browned them, at least 30 minutes if you did not.  Serve in a chafing dish.

Variations:  I saw a number of similar recipes on the internet.  One called for using a bag of frozen meatballs.  You can add milk to the meatball mixture, and/or Worchestershire sauce.  You can add brown sugar and lemon juice to the sauce.   You can substitute ketchup for the chili sauce.  You can cook them in a crockpot. You can use cocktail sausages or mini hot dogs or sliced kielbasa instead of the meatballs. 

I haven't tried any of the variations, but I think I'm going to try it with cocktail franks.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Pastrami Plus

So our small group of friends was tired of Chinese takeout and wanted something different.  We introduced them to one of our favorites, Pastrami Plus.

I had my usual pastrami on rye.  Nice sized sandwich.  Not the huge, overstuffed sandwich you'd find at a NYC deli, but large enough to share if you choose to do so.  Kasha varnishkes came with a savory brown gravy. 

As for the others?  The chopped liver appetizer was almost enough for a meal.  Chicken noodle soup was flavorful and comforting.  Tongue was lean and tasty (or so I'm told, I would never eat it).  Gabila's knishes, what could be bad?  Yes, they have cooked onions for your hot dog.  The meal came with an ample supply of cole slaw and pickles


Lovely meal, happy group of friends, we will be back again.










Pastrami Plus on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Whimper

Ugh

The sound is unmistakable. A low, steady rumble, it gets progressively louder. You try to dismiss it as normal road noise, but you can't. You curse under your breath as you pull over to the side of the road. You have a flat tire.

It happened as I was driving home from work. Fortunately I took local roads, and I was able to pull into the parking lot of the public library. Got out of the car, and sure enough, the tire was flat. Or rather, shredded. Destroyed. Deceased.

And on such a bitterly cold night, too. 7*, with a wind chill feel of -7*. Just lovely. ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

Two hours later, AAA finally showed up. Five minutes later I was driving on the spare.

At least the library was warm and cozy.


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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Whine....

the party's over

Or rather, the holiday season has come to a close.

We're all getting back into our normal work routines.

The weather has turned cold and snowy, with an Artic blast headed our way.  Typical gloomy January.  The long, gray winter stretches before me, with no relief in sight until the spring.  No vacation this winter, too much else going on ...

I am not a fan of cold weather, and these last few years I've been more susceptible to the cold ... all I want to do is hibernate, curl up on the couch in a nice, warm house and read my books, watch movies, play with my iPad...

Winter has only just begun, and already I'm sinking into the cold weather blues...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Wantable cosmetics January 2015

To tell the truth, I think I'm getting a bit bored with this subscription.  I like the company, the customer service is excellent.  I wasn't happy with the accessories subscription, but I've enjoyed most of the products I received in the make up subscription. 

Yet there wasn't a sense of excitement when this package arrived.  Another lip gloss, this time in a pot instead of a tube.  Eye shadow, in a shade suitable for a party or evening out, right after party season is over.  Another mascara.  An an "illuminator" -- a concealer/highlighter, I guess.  Not sure what I'm going to do with that.

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Winter Survival Kit

Monday, January 5, 2015

Losses big and small

Today I begin with a quote from one of my favorite Broadway musicals, Fiddler on the Roof.
 
 
"Oh I'm losing my head.  Some day it will fall off altogether, a horse will kick it into the mud and 'Goodbye, Yenta'."
 
I begin with this quote because of Miriam.
 
Mariam is an old friend, she was Drew's houseguest over the weekend.  She comes in from Israel once a year to visit her family, and always manages to spend some time with us as well.   
 
This visit was not planned, Miriam raced home to the States when she learned her mother was deathly ill.  She was able to have a last visit with her mother before her mother passed away.  Of course she had time with her family.  And then she came to us.
 
She arrived Friday.  And as soon as she unpacked in the guest room, she realized she forgot to bring the charger for her cell phone and her toothbrush.  Both problems were easily remedied, as I had a charger that works with her phone, and I had an unused toothbrush.
 
Yesterday she took the train back to Queens, she's staying in the apartment that was her mother's home.  Drew drove her to the train station. 
 
Five minutes after they walked out the door, I saw it.  Miriam's phone, plugged into the charger and sitting on the dining room table.
 
I called Drew, but his cell phone was dead.  And Miriam didn't realize she left her phone at Drew's house until after she was on the train.
 
Drew doesn't have time to drive to Queens, but fortunately another friend will be able to meet up with Miriam and give her the phone.
 
This is  typical Miriam, by the way.  She's always leaving something somewhere.
 
That's how I met Neil.
 
Three years ago, Miriam came to Drew's house after visiting with Neil.  And didn't realize until late in the evening, as we were all getting ready for bed,  that she'd left her backpack -- with her passports -- at the Neil's house.  She  needed those passports in order to fly home to Israel.  She was lucky Neil didn't mind driving over to Drew's house...
 
When she comes next year, I'll know to remind her to make sure she has everything before she walks out the door...

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Of death and dying

So I found myself in synagogue, with my friend who is in mourning.

And the weekly Bible reading ...

Each week, as I've mentioned before, a portion of the Torah -- the Five Books of Moses -- is read aloud in the synagogue. The individual synagogue doesn't choose what to read. The same portion is read in every synagogue around the world, according to a calendar set down by the rabbis centuries ago.

Each Torah portion is paired with a HafTorah, a reading from Scripture other than the Torah. The two readings are paired to form a theme.

The Torah portion this weekend? The last few chapters of the Book of Genesis. Joseph is now Pharoah's viceroy, his brothers and his father Jacob have come to live in Egypt. Jacob tells Joseph he want to be buried in Canaan. On his deathbed, Jacob addresses his sons. Jacob dies, and there is a funeral procession back to Canaan.

The HafTorah comes from the 1Kings 2. King David is on his deathbed, and addresses his son Solomon, telling him how to establish his rule over Israel.

Legacies. Last wishes. Dying parents. Clearly a theme that I can relate to right now.

Two octogenarian parents, each plagued with various health issues. The two strong people who raised me and my sisters are now old and frail, and need our care and supervision. We have to "parent" our parents.

And for how much longer? When will the traditional words of comfort to mourners be addressed to me?


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Friday, January 2, 2015

Shabbat Shalom

Mitzvah accomplished.

Kaddish said.


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Thursday, January 1, 2015

Jones Beach Holiday Light Spectacular

So the confetti has been thrown, the food eaten, the champagne toasted. The holiday season is over... but not until I tell you about our trip to Jones Beach a few days ago.

Yes, Jones Beach.  That barrier island of beach and dune and not much else.  In the dead of winter.

The park sponsors a holiday light show.   It's a drive-through, takes about half an hour to see al the displays.  this year there were four distinct themes -- Santa's Safari, toys, beach party, and the Twelve Days of Christmas.  Very clever.  Local radio station also put together a music loop you can pick up on your car radio while driving through the light display.

In the middle of it all is a "holiday village", where you can park, visit the concession stand, etc.  There's an outdoor seating area with a few lights and a couple of campfires -- you can buy a "make your own s'mores" kit at the concession stand.  There are activities for the children -- a walk-through maze, a room showing holiday videos, take your picture with Santa (and yes, he was on duty even after Christmas).

Since we visited after Christmas Day, it wasn't very crowded, which made the experience a bit more relaxing.

I think we'll do it again next year, it was a fun diversion.




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