Friday, March 29, 2013

Happy Easter

from the MOMA (with apologies to Mondrian)

Hello friends!  Do you have big plans for the weekend?  Do they involve family get togethers? eating large dinners?  scarfing more chocolate than you care to admit? Yeah, me too.  Whether you have big plans or a quiet relaxing weekend, I hope you have a good one.  

I'm not sure I'll get around to making these, but I love the inspiration and you might too:

~ shaving cream painted easter egg cards

~ natural dyed easter eggs with a batik-effect using flowers and leaves

~ a garden-themed Easter table (it is the second one down, although they are all pretty)

~ white paint markers on brown eggs

Wishing you and your family a happy Easter!
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Life Imitates Art

When I looked through the almost 1400 photos I took of New York City I noticed that some of the art we saw in the galleries reminded me of some of the scenes we saw around the city.

This red, blue, and yellow painting by Mondrian that we saw at the MOMA reminded me of ...

this picture taken out the window of the MOMA with the red, blue, and yellow vehicles. 

This moody painting of Westminster by Monet at the Metropolitan Museum of Art reminded me of ...

Metropolitan Museum of Art
the soft moody view we had of the Manhattan skyline from the Staten Island ferry.

And this gorgeous floor mosaic at the Met reminded me of ...

the Imagine mosaic at Strawberry Fields in Central Park.

And this Egyptian tile at the Met reminded me of ...

the skyscrapers reflected in the windows of other skyscrapers.

Wowzer!  I know the last week has been New York City overload on this little blog, but I just couldn't help myself.  It was such a fun trip for all of us and I enjoyed re-living it.  I appreciate your indulgence.  In case you missed any of the posts you can check them out here, here, and here.

And one last New York tidbit: 
When William and I were on the Staten Island Ferry we were debating whether there are any marine mammals living in the New York harbour.  So I Googled it when we got home and was pleased to discover that there are.  In fact we just missed seeing a dolphin as you can read about here on the blog called Nature on the Edge of New York.  I wanted to tell you about this blog because it is such an interesting read. I spent one evening reading back through his posts about all the birds and marine creatures he has found in and around New York City.  Who knew?  If you live anywhere near New York you might find this a really interesting blog to read.

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Linked to Weekend Bloggy Reading at Serenity Now

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

New York City - Hotel, Food, and Packing Suggestions

I've been asked by several people where we stayed in New York and I'm always happy to tell them about the great hotel we found.  We have stayed at the Salisbury Hotel three times now and have never been disappointed.  By the way, this is not a sponsored post - just a helpful tip in case you are looking for a good place to stay in New York City.

The Salisbury Hotel is on 57th Street in midtown Manhattan just across the street and down a bit from Carnegie Hall.  It was built in the 1930s as a church-hotel complex with the adjoining Calvary Baptist Church. The rooms are adequately sized, but even more importantly are modestly priced. If you love fancy shmancy hotel rooms then you may not love the bathrooms as they seemed a bit dated, but apart from that the rooms were spotlessly clean and well cared for. In addition, most rooms have a small kitchenette so you can get your own meals and snacks as desired. There are many small grocery stores in the area (the nearest one being just a few doors down the street) to get some fruit, yogurt, bread, soups etc or even a take-out meal. 

Small kitchenette in our room with a sink, microwave, and a bar fridge below
I love the location of the Salisbury Hotel as it is central and a good walking distance to all the major museums, Central Park, the Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. And I felt completely safe on 57th street and didn't hesitate to walk around the area even at night.  I really didn't want to be in an area that felt unsafe so I would hesitate to go out in the evening.  Also the Salisbury Hotel is well served by transit as it is very near several of the subway lines.

View Larger Map

As for food, we were pretty frugal which will come as no surprise if you know me. We brought granola from home and bought milk in New York and had that with coffee and tea made in our hotel room every morning for breakfast (we brought four plastic nesting bowls and plastic spoons to use for our cereal).  Our breakfast was basic, but quick and easy.  

If we had been visiting when it was warmer we might have picnicked for lunch, but that was out of the question in March so we mostly ate in different cafes and delis. M-T, from the blog French Touch, lives near New York and she recommended the cafe Le Pain Quotidien which was wonderful and very near our hotel.  The food is healthy, organic, and really delicious.

We also ate at the cafes in several of the museums like this one at the Guggenheim.

On one of the days we had lunch at Katz's, a venerable old Jewish deli in the Lower East Side that was established in 1888. The walls are covered with photos of celebrities that have eaten there. Katz's is famous for their mile-high corned beef and Reuben sandwiches. We ordered Reuben sandwiches that were tasty, but man were they hard to eat. They definitely took the prize for the messiest food I have eaten in public.

And one day we ate street food ... in the snow (I think the snow had stopped by the time I took this photo, but you can see us eating in the snow in this post.)

Several times we were rushed at dinner time because we were going out again in the evening so we bought some tinned soups, mini pitas, hummus, and carrot sticks to eat in the hotel room. Just down the street was a lovely Italian restaurant  called Angelo's (sorry I didn't get a photo of it).  We bought take-out pizza there one evening and another we ate there.  The food was great, but we chose the restaurant mostly because it was two doors down from our hotel and the thought of walking any further wasn't appealing to us.

I know that regime doesn't appeal to some people as they love to eat out, but we were happy with the arrangement as it saved money and was faster than eating in a restaurant every evening so we could be off doing other things.

Are you a minimalist packer?  I know a lot of people would like to be, but end up taking too many things that they don't end up using. We only took carry-on bags with us for the five days. I was pretty happy with the amount I brought as I felt like there was enough variety so I didn't feel like I was wearing the same thing every day, but it was all easy to carry. 

I was actually forethoughtful enough to get some photos of what I packed before I left (I should have taken the photo on something that wasn't red so my rust t-shirt showed up better, but laying everything on the bed seemed the easiest thing) and you can read about what we did each day here.  Here's my list:
  • jeans
  • black pants
  • black cardigan
  • navy cardigan
  • navy and cream striped long-sleeved t-shirt
  • rust coloured long-sleeved t-shirt
  • black long-sleeved t-shirt
  • cream camisole
  • black camisole
  • green scarf
  • navy and cream scarf
  • necklace
  • sneakers
  • black flats
  • socks, unmentionables, pajamas
  • winter coat, gloves, hat, scarf (natch)

Day 1
I wore jeans, my striped shirt, navy sweater and navy and cream scarf on the first and last days.

Day 2 
I wore jeans, my rust shirt, navy cardigan, and navy and cream scarf.

And that evening I wore my black pants, black shirt, black cardigan, and necklace with the black flats to the opera (sorry - not a very good photo, but my 18 year old just didn't get how to make a photo flattering and believe me it is hard to be both in the photo and giving instructions on how to take the photo.)

Day 3 
It was very cold on this day and we were going to be outside a lot so I doubled up on my shirts.  I wore jeans, a camisole, rust t-shirt, black t-shirt, and black cardigan, with my winter scarf, coat, hat, and gloves when I was outside.

Day 4 
I wore jeans, my black camisole, black t-shirt, and black cardigan with my green scarf.  I had to include my green scarf given that the St. Patrick's Day parade was going on.

And outdoors I wore my winter coat and usually my gloves and hat.  I always wore my sneakers (which you can see in the photo above) unless I was going out, in which case I wore black flats and I carried my yellow cross-body bag and camera everywhere.  It all worked well.  I always wore my jeans during the day, but my black pants were my back-up in case I spilled something on my jeans. I had enough variety of tops and two cardigans so again I was fine if one top or sweater got dirty.

Since we took granola and almonds and a few snacks with us we had some room to bring a few things home. We are not big shoppers (well I have the potential to be, but not with the three people I was with) so only bought a few souvenirs.  The three things I bought were a silk neckerchief in a William Morris print from the Met,

a small plate for $1 from a Goodwill in Greenwich Village,

and a book on the different art movements (which we studied at night before going to the next art gallery - I know, what a bunch of egg heads, eh?).  

William bought a few other souvenirs and we had a few things for the rest of the family, but we managed to cram them all in.

Do you love to shop when you go on vacation?  Although I love a good shopping expedition, I rarely do a lot of shopping while on holiday - mostly because I'm with people who would not be interested. 

Anyone have other suggestions of places to stay or eat in New York.  It is such an expensive city that I'm always interested to hear about other people's finds.

If you want to see what we did while we were in New York read this, and if you want to see what March looks like with both flowers and snow in Central Park, read this.

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Linked to Open House at No Minimalist Here

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Turquoise Easter-in-a-Box

She loves turquoise - always has.  So I decided to make turquoise the theme of Kate's Easter-in-a-box this year (you can see last year's here.)  

I love wrapping things in kraft paper - it is such a lovely simple backdrop to be dressed with decorations in any colour.  Of course, I used turquoise to decorate Kate's box using gingham washi tape to write "Happy Easter".  As for finding the treats to go inside ... that pretty much involved me wandering around stores looking for anything turquoise.  

There was candy and chocolate wrapped in turquoise,

and turquoise washi tape and a turquoise Sharpie (because the girl loves Sharpies too),

and a turquoise elephant mobile from The Paper Place in Toronto (because everyone needs an Easter elephant),

and Tic Tacs (which aren't turquoise) but are in a hard-to-find flavour and the girl loves Tic Tacs so she will be thrilled. By the way, what flavours of tic tacs can you buy where you live?  We have found that they vary a lot from country to country and we always bring home weird and wonderful flavours for Kate as gifts.

After I took the photos I packed the box up and realized I still had some room - which definitely is a no-no when it comes to care packages.  Soooo, I bought some more turquoise things and added them.  

I found some turquoise candy that I put into a divided container (I got the idea from Angie at Echoes of Laughter which you can read about here). I included turquoise sprinkles and coloured sugar in one of the partitions and some turquoise cupcake papers so Kate and her friends could decorate cupcakes for Easter.

I also found ... wait for it ... turquoise tic tacs in New York so they got included too.  The cupcake liners and candy filled the box perfectly.

Then I tied the package with a bow ... a turquoise bow, of course ... and sent it off to Kate!

Do you have kiddos living away from home - at university or working? Do you send them something? What do you include?  I'm always looking for other ideas of what to send.  

I remember how tough this time of year is for university students so I like to throw in lots of treats.  Kate has already opened her box and has started the sugarfest. Happy Easter Kate!

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Linked to Nifty Thrifty Tuesday at Coastal Charm,
Time to Sparkle at Inside BruCrew Life,
Open House at No Minimalist Here

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Five Days in New York

It was a busy five days in New York, but we managed to pack in a lot of fun things. I came up with an itinerary before we left so we could work from that and modify as needed depending on the weather and timing. We are a museum and art gallery loving family so a large chunk of our time was spent visiting some of the world's best. In addition, William loves poetry and music so Greenwich Village was top of his list and my parent's were keen on seeing Peck Slip, a small street just south of Brooklyn Bridge that is named for our ancestors. If you've been to New York then you probably have your own ideas for things to do, but if not then our itinerary might inspire you - that is, if you love museums and are up for long walks.

Day 1
We arrived in New York about noon so had time to hit the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in the afternoon.  The MOMA consists of six floors of modern paintings, photography, and sculpture.  One of the floors had art that is a bit out there, but the rest were one famous painting after another.  

And then we visited Times Square in the evening.

It was on a news feed in Times Square that we learned that Mario Bergoglio would be the next pope (couldn't have been a more incongruous setting for such news.)

Day 2
The next day we walked through Central Park and then visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is an enormous museum with the most amazing collection of both art and artifacts.  It really has something for everyone.  We toured the Egyptian section together and then split up so everyone could go to their favourite galleries.  I spent most of the day in the Period Rooms and the Impressionist Paintings. Heaven!  Do you split up when you go to museums and art galleries?  We find it keeps everyone happy and then we share our highlights with each other afterward.

We had tickets to the opera, La Traviata, that evening at the Lincoln Centre.  We were on the fifth balcony up and still had a great view and could hear everything.  It was our good fortune to be able to be there for the opening night of La Traviata with Plácido Domingo singing. The opera was wonderful and even though I was initially disappointed that the sets were going to be modern and minimalist, I found them really interesting in the end.

La Traviata (Source)
Day 3
The next day we took the subway down to the South Street Seaport Historic District in lower Manhattan as we wanted to visit the street named after our ancestors, Peck Slip (you can read more about it here), and see Brooklyn Bridge.  The area was badly hit by Hurricane Sandy and was a shell of its former self with many of the stores and restaurants still closed. Nevertheless, we enjoyed seeing the beautiful old ships against the skyscrapers.

And we saw Peck Slip the street where our ancestors had a tavern back when it was New Amsterdam.

As you can see they are working on upgrading the infrastructure on Peck Slip so the middle of the street is a construction site.  Peck Slip is wedge-shaped because the centre used to be open water where the ships were moored.  About 1810 the centre got filled in and was used as a market space and eventually became a parking lot and walkway. There was some talk of making it a nautical-themed park, but I'm not sure if that is still in the works.

The photo below shows the oldest building on Peck Slip (from 1807) with one of the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge just peaking over the elevated roadway on the right side of the photo. Although this is not from the same time period that our relatives lived there, which was back in the 1660s, it is the building that has the most historic ambiance so I was drawn to it.

We then walked through Chinatown and the Lower East Side to get to the Tenement Museum.

Since time was moving on, we decided to split up and my parents toured the Tenement Museum and William and I went to Greenwich Village.  Splitting up was a good decision as we both loved what we saw.  

William had printed off a very interesting walking tour of Greenwich Village that we followed (which he found here). It featured lots of the place Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg and other lovelies hung out/lived/wrote poetry/played music/threw up/got into trouble etc.  Great fun!

In the photo below you can see a close up of a poster on the door of Cafe Wha? that was part of our tour.  I'm not really much into music, but even I've heard of almost every one of the musicians that got their start at Cafe Wha?.  It still is a live music venue although it has a very run-down appearance, but really this place should be a museum.  

That evening William and I went to hear some quartets play at the Weill Recital Hall in Carnegie Hall.  Isn't that the most beautiful hall - just loved those empire chandeliers and the blue curtains.

Carnegie Hall Weill Recital Hall

Day 4
In the morning everyone except me visited the Frick Collection (I'm saving it to go to with Jonathan.  We didn't have time to visit the Frick when we were in New York for our 5th anniversary and we haven't been back to New York with each other since.)  Then we all went back to the Met again as we had more to see and we all adored it.

That evening William and I took the Staten Island Ferry so we could get a view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty at twilight.  Truth be told that was my reason, but William wanted to ride the Staten Island Ferry because it was mentioned in Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl ("and the Staten Island ferry also wailed").

Day 5
William and I walked through Central Park to find Strawberry Fields - a memorial to John Lennon (which was much smaller than I thought it would be).

And then we visited the Guggenheim Museum - the building is as beautiful as the paintings.  I always feel I should strap on roller skates and start at the top and work my way down - what fun that would be!

The long tubes across the centre hall of the Guggenheim were one of the art installations.  It wasn't until we got up close that we realized those coloured parts were liquid. It must have been difficult to install across the great open space. They looked really beautiful with the light shining through the coloured sections.

And then it was time to go.  Sniff.  Sniff.  

Isn't that a great photo we got out of the airplane window.  Amazing to think we had been walking through Central Park and right past that big reservoir just hours before.

It was a fabulous five days.  We saw lots. We did lots.  We walked lots!  My mother wore a pedometer and according to it she walked over 40 kms and William and I walked further.  There is so much to see and do in New York that you never feel like you have enough time.  Mind you that was all the energy I had as we got home on Sunday evening and it was right back to work the next morning, which meant I dragged myself around all week.

For those of you who have been to New York, what were your favourite things to do (I'll add them to my list for my next visit)?  We loved visiting the places we did, but it might have been a little museum/art gallery heavy for some.  Do you visit museums and art galleries when you travel?

I'm working on a post to show you where we stayed (it is a fantastic hotel), how we got away with only carry-on luggage, and how we saw New York on a budget (although that is a bit of an oxymoron).

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