Tuesday, December 31, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York City on the last day of 2013.

At midday the temperature is below freezing, and by midnight's arrival, those fun-seeking Times Square revelers might be dancing in 15 degree F air.  I will be warm at home.

My knitting needles, single and double point, have been very busy throughout 2013, as I created items for the Etsy shop I wished to open.  That goal was a 2013 New Year's resolution that I was able to keep.

I also knit gifts for friends and family.  Last week, I realized that I had not made anything for myself and decided to remedy that with an end of the year slouchy beret, like the ones on the virtual shelves of Foakley Arts.  I used a mix of harmonious 4 ply yarns, mostly shetland style wool, with a touch of a silk mohair yarn in each of the rows separating the diagonal stripes.

I am happy to report that I finished the hat a few days ago, just in time for the sub-freezing cold wave.

It's a pleasure to report that the hat definitely keeps the chilly breezes away.  It's also given me an opportunity to take some funny photographs of myself.

Hoping that these views also give you all an idea of the flexibility of this style.

I am greatly looking forward to the New Year, with all the possibilities its days offer.  I plan to make a few resolutions for 2014, but will keep them to myself for a while.  My superstitious self will also be preparing the Southern traditional New Year's Day black eyed peas, with the hope that eating a spoonful or two will bring me good luck.

Having so many lovely folks visit hereabouts has been grand.  Continued thanks to you all who have left comments.  I'm looking forward to our 2014 blogging visits.  xo

Thursday, December 19, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Good afternoon from New York and a very Happy Christmas to you all.

Perhaps some of you all remember my photograph of a little  cyclamen plant that I bought in hopes that it would inspire my Christmas tea cup cards this year.

Each of these watercolor cards is painted individually, so that although somewhat alike, each one is different.  Just like flowers, themselves!  I do the paintings on Arches watercolor paper and manage to fit four on each sheet of a block of this paper.

The weeks since I returned from my U.K. holiday have been filled with multi-task juggling.  I am still so happy to have gotten my FoakleyArts shop up and running at Etsy, but also very glad to have been able to fit in visits with New York friends, Christmas gift shopping and shipping and painting the tea cups.

Today I commenced cookie baking, an intriguing project given the minuscule dimensions of my kitchen.  New York City kitchens are small.  Mine is very small.  I have a sturdy butcher block table in my little living room.  Surrounding this table is a wooden shelving system made many years ago for me by my late father.  This duo serves me well in general food preparations, but  baking requires me to rearrange many items that the butcher block table normally holds.

It's an adventure!  An adventure that is best begun when I've got plenty of time and patience.

I thought you might be amused to see some of the cookie baking process.  (I mixed up the basic brown sugar, butter, vanilla, egg, cream and flour dough early this morning.  It's been chilling in the fridge for hours.) 

I like using star-shaped cutters for these cookies, and add green or red sanding sugar to the cut out starts before they are baked ... for about 9 minutes.  You may have spotted the Glenmorangie, but do not think that any sipping of the malt accompanied the baking.  No indeed.  This project requires a clear head.

This tin of cookies is  now ready for the oven.

Here's the first batch of red stars cooling on a paper towel.  This occurs on a sliver of kitchen counter next to my sink.

I assure you that I did nibble a couple of the stars just to make sure that they did taste all right.  They did.

As I write this post I am also alternating my laptop activity with additional tins of cookie baking.  Multi-tasking.  The sun is beginning to set.

The following photo shows you all a bit of the complex storage maneuvers that take place on the shelves above the butcher block.

On the lower shelf, you will see a pretty blue enameled multi-purpose jug.  In one of the first pictures you'll perhaps see a pale rose enamel vessel.  These two very welcome additions to my kitchen equipment arrived yesterday...from Amsterdam.  They are part of a collection of Riess enamel ware that I was very fortunate to win an a giveaway from Yvonne Eijkenduijn, who writes the delightful yvestown blog.  Yvonne is also the creator of the 2014 Mollie Makes calendar, which will soon be pinned to my kitchen wall, replacing the 2013 MM calendar.

I promise you all that I will find a place to keep these lovely prizes and look forward to making great use of them.  The porridge pan will be perfect for my morning oatmeal!  I am very grateful to Yvonne and feel as if Santa has already arrived in my home.

Many thanks also to all of you who've been visiting my posts.  I love getting comments from our world wide community.  My hope is to create another post before Christmas.  Meanwhile, best wishes to all for a wonderful Christmas time...even if you are also practicing multi-tasking!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York where a very light snow is falling.

Earlier today, knowing that the weather was going to turn chilly and snow might fall, I wrapped myself up in lots of layers, including my trusty old hand knit scarf pictured below, and headed over to the gorgeous 42nd Street main building of the New York Public Library.

I always consider that the Library's Holiday Open House, to which Friends of the Library like myself are invited, signals the official beginning of the Christmas season in New York.

Some of you all will have seen prior posts describing this festive afternoon, and some of what follows might seem familiar.  There are some traditions kept going each year, like the huge Christmas tree in the grand entry hall (formally known as the Astor Hall) and the Santa-cap-wearing jazz band that plays throughout the afternoon in Astor Hall.

Lots of entertainment is designed to amuse children.  During the afternoon, it becomes clear that children come in many ages.

This year, a new entertainment and refreshment are, the Cafe Periodical,  was popular.  Coffee and tea was served, along with gypsy swing and jazz played by The Hot Club of Bushwick.   The band can just be seen in the far corner of the "cafe."

Large paintings hanging around the room depict historic headquarters of major New York publishing houses.  The following photo is of the Scribner's building.  Years ago an elegant Scribner's book shop delighted readers of all ages on the first floors of this building.  A Sephora shop now claims that space.   Fifth Avenue is no longer the "book country" that it was in past decades.

Back in the Astor Hall, party goers were being serenaded by the LaGuardia Arts High School Show Choir.  The choir dressed formally...red dresses or white tie and tails!  Perhaps you can see them on the distant staircase?  You might also see some stilt walkers costumed as storybook characters.

More balloon sculpting was taking place on each of the Library floors.

The Library has a fabulous and varied collection of rare books, literary related artifacts and art.  Wonderful permanent and changing exhibits take place throughout the Library throughout the year.

I ventured into the Berg Collection's room today to see some treasures displayed there.  Below is my photograph of Charles Dickens' desk, chair, lamp and desk calendar.  We Dickens fans were kept at a distance from these items by a subtle green velvet rope barrier.

In a nearby glass case was another Dickens item, a large ivory letter opener given to CD by his housekeeper and sister-in-law, Georgina Hogarth, as a memento of his recently deceased beloved cat, Bob.  The handle is actually made from one of Bob's forepaws.  True.

In another case in the Berg Collection room is Virginia Woolf's bamboo walking stick.

There were many other gems in this room, but nothing quite got my attention as much as that letter opener.

And so, I continued my tour of other interesting diversions available here and there.

Although I have no photograph to prove it, I did stop by the juggler's hallway area, and mastered the skill of balancing a peacock feather vertically, plume upwards, on my upturned palm.  

I could not resist taking a photo of this vintage telephone kiosk.  Working coin-operated telephones are in the niches at each end of the kiosk.  The central area has been cleared of equipment, including ... telephone books.  That amused me, being in a library.

Back downstairs on the main floor, I encountered a costumed "literary Lion," who took his character from the two Sphinx-like stone lions who grace the entrance to the Library.

In the Library's very crowded gift shop, I encountered three members of the West Point Glee Club, taking a break between several afternoon performances.  I chatted with them a while, all the time thinking how young they looked. I gave them my thanks for their beautiful music, and wished them safety when their military service begins.

On my way to reclaim my coat from one of many coat check areas, I ran into Mother Goose, charming some young and not-too-young children.

My coat, hat, scarf and gloves provided some warmth as I exited the Library down the broad stairs, and so I decided to walk up Fifth Avenue to see what sorts of decorations I might discover.

I am sorry to report that few shops, even huge major retail "names," seemed to have any decorations.  This is not how I remember Fifth Avenue looking.  The sidewalks were thick with tourists, and I wondered what they made of the cold weather and rather ordinary displays along the famous Avenue.

At Rockefeller Center, the giant trees with its over 40,000 LED lights did seem to be a bit showy.

The Rock Center esplanade was very, very crowded.  I was not the only person wanting to take a photo of The Tree.

I continued walking up the Avenue, and as I neared the Cartier building, I saw impressive red and gold LED lighting.  A big red bow and several golden panthers engaging in kitty behavior about the building.  I made sure to include a yellow cab in my photo.

There are three panthers.  One on top of the front of the building, one climbing up the side of the building and one resting on top of the side entrance.

I do apologize for the photograph quality.  My hands were very cold.

Fendi has some jolly stylized Santas dancing along the front of their store...more lights.

The next photo is a very discrete peek into the window of a very exclusive, perhaps even stuffy or even snobby club.  Once only men could be members.  I have been to lunch and to some parties in this place.  All that was years ago.

A  much less dignified window view is in the following photo.  The Henri Bendel window is a tribute to the late Abe Hirschfeld, a brillian cariaturist, famous for his portraits of actors, and for always hiding his daughter Nina's name in each drawing.

Harry Winston's facade was all aglow, thanks to extravagant use of ... LED lights.  I actually saw shoppers shopping in that very luxe shop this afternoon.

Across the Avenue, Tiffany had some sort of vinyl decorations applied to its facade.  Very tacky, I thought.  By now I was getting very cold, and so I did not go across to take photos of the actual shop windows.  I promise to make a return visit.

Bulgari has a snake made out of ... well, by now you might be able to guess, snaking its way around its corner walls.

And so, at last, I reached the beautiful windows at Bergdorf Goodman.  Even inside my cashmere-lined leather gloves, my hands were so, so cold, that I could barely click the button on my camera.  I do promise to return to this location so that I can have better pictures to show you all of these fantastic creations.

There are ice cycles galore, and the theme of these windows is Holidays on Ice (a la the name of some glamorous skating shows.)

April Fool's day has everything topsy turvy.

I definitely remember that this following rosy-toned window was a salute to Valentine's Day.  A frosty Valentine's Day.

The next two pictures are of the Halloween window.

Spooky cobwebs amidst the ice.

The 58th Street windows around the corner from Fifth Avenue, continue the frosty theme, but without designating a holiday.  The monkeys that appear in these windows get recycled year after year by the visual team at BG.  I look forward to seeing them over and over.

Here's a perfect outfit to wear for a evening stroll in the woods.

Lots of little monkeys helping out this couple.

And so, as snow did actually begin to fall as I looked at those snow scenes, I thought it was time to find myself a bus to take me home.  

It's been fun, sitting in my cozy apartment, while putting together this little report of one December 2013 afternoon in New York City.

I plan to show you more New York City holiday views by next weekend.  Thank you all for your visits and comments.  Hoping you and yours are getting happily into the spirit of the season.