Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Holidays Are Upon Us!

The holidays are officially here. The pop up Christmas tree selling spots are the surest sign that that Christmas time is upon us. I noticed the beginnings of one such set up on 9th Ave last Wednesday, and they've sprouted up all over since then.

Last night we were out in Tribeca, walking around the neighborhood to waste a little bit of time before meeting friends for a play. I had to insist we walk through the display so I could get a good smell of the trees. As you can see, it was pretty busy at 9:30 pm.

The trees had been cut in North Carolina less than 24 hours before (thus the great fresh smell) and were Douglas Firs. There were a few that must have been about 14 feet. That certainly won't fit in our apartment, but we were assured that they were popular in the Tribeca loft area.

The holiday spirit is not dampened by small New York apartments. This is one of my favorite times of the year. Buildings and streets are decorated with lights, stores have fun skating is open in Central Park, Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center (there are alot of places to ice skate in Manhattan). And it's ok to consume lots of hot beverages like hot chocolate to keep warm.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Turkey Time!

It was just the 2 of us for Thanksgiving this year, as I have to head into work tomorrow and it was a long commute and lots of traffic to head to CT to be with the family. So to share our day, I snapped a few shots (to make mom proud!).

We targeted a 6 pm dinner time, and made it pretty close. After a leisurely afternoon and a little walk down to the wine store we headed back home via the High Line. Actually, on our way we saw the beginnings of the Christmas tree season. It's funny, but there was this old truck with a cab on it that sold trees in front of the Theological Seminary on 9th Ave. It smelled soooo good walking through there on the way to the gym (the pine smell reminded me of Christmas every evening). Apparently, they brought their trees in from Alaska. Well, the block became luxury condominiums, but the van is back this year! Just up the street.

Anyhow, I digress. Dinner was a yummy success. We had a free range chicken (that's what they were selling at Trader Joe's, and Food Inc. definitely had an impact on our choice. That and the fact the oven is small.), along with stuffing and sweet potatoes.

Doesn't the chicken look good?? It is cooking in my 15 inch brownie pan, but that seemed to work just fine.

There was only a slight problem. I had to remove all but one rack to fit the chicken in the oven, so when it came time to add the sweet potatoes, they were just slightly tipped in the oven (luckily, no butter dripped to the bottom). And the extra stuffing just had to go in later.

And the sweet potatoes (thank you, Amy, for the recipe!). This will give you a sense of the oven and what I was dealing with. Those stacked pans are the ones I typically store in the oven. And look at that homemade gravy! No lumps!

Look at this masterful carving!

And now full.

We were actually so full, we had to save dessert until tomorrow. Must have been a success! I'm off to work tomorrow, so will miss (happily) that made rush to the stores at 5 am. Not that I've ever been out there at that hour anyway. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gobble Gobble Gobble

Happy Early Turkey Day!

Just getting Thanksgiving started a little early. Since we are in the city for this holiday, and have read about it a few times, we took a trip to the UWS to see the inflation of the Macy's Day Parade balloons. Us and about a million other people.

So, we saw the start of the balloon area from across the street, where we caught a glimpse of Sponge Bob Squarepants resting on the ground:

And then we heard from the policeman/tour guide that the line to wander through is about 2 hours. From the looks of it, it was also about 20 people deep. So, after taking in the holiday scene we headed south for some matzo ball soup. Perfect for drizzly night!

Tomorrow is the first big attempt at Thanksgiving dinner in our little kitchen...more to come on that!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cookies and Hot Chocolate (round 2)

We've been on a bit of a search to try hot chocolate around the city. I like mine sweet and milky, and on the hot side. I'll admit to enjoying a cup of sugar free Swiss Miss at the office, so am not that particular. But there is something about a chilly day and a warm chocolate drink.

I will have to report on our first official hot chocolate of the season another time (after I try and find the name of the cafe!). So this is our second official taste testing in 2009.

It was a Sunday in November and were craving a sweet treat post lunch in the West Village. And so rounded the block to head towards Milk & Cookies (Commerce Street). The goal was to procure a cookie, but we ended up with 2 free mini cups of hot chocolate because our little barista/cookie man had some left over from the previous customer.

I have to admit that I was a fan of this one. A bit on the sweeter side, good taste of chocolate, and very satisfying.

The little store smells like fresh baked cookies and the desserts themselves are great. As we were enjoying our little table, we saw a tour guide lead her group inside to smell the shop and then bring out a plate of cookies for everyone to try. Apparently, we aren't the only ones that think it's worth stopping at.

Good to the last bite!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Three Tarts: Just Delightful

Three Tarts is the little shop you want to own. Located on 9th Ave at 20th street, the store is a mix of gift items ("for home and baby" as they say on their website) and baked goods. The shop came together after 3 culinary school classmates, the "Three Tarts" as a classmate called them, reunited after stints at Spice Market, Payard and Cafe Boulud. I love stories like this.

I have to admit that I haven't bought a gift here, but love to peruse. Notecards, gifts for the house, baby onsie "bouquets" just draws you in for a peek! And you can't ignore the chalkboard with the special treats available.

And then there are the baked goods. I had to snap a picture of the display. They have a full range of little cookies, chocolates, mini desserts, ice cream sandwiches in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. I stopped in on my way home and bought a homemade graham cracker. I didn't know anyone but Keebler made them! It was the perfect little treat and gave me the energy I needed for the 10 blocks home.

They've recently expanded the sitting area, so I will probably be back soon to warm up on a cold day. I'm now on a mission to sample hot chocolate around the city now that there is a nip in the air.

Many of their products are sold on their website, so take a look for yourself if you can't make it to Three Tarts:

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Running and Running and Running...for 26.2 Miles

I missed the Halloween party with the girls down in DC this weekend, which was sad. But we had to make a new addition to the family because I need to remedy my commuting situation. The little Elantra hatchback should be on the road shortly!

Since I was here this weekend, I did make it out Sunday afternoon to see the NYC Marathon and to support my friend, Joe. Honestly, running a marathon is not something I feel the need to do. Triathlons and half marathons work quite well for me. But I'm a huge supporter of other people's training and races.

I was the designated mile 22-er, and was supposed to be at 120th street, 1/3rd of the way towards 5th Avenue to await Joe. According to some book, this is where people hit the wall, right before a slight incline up 5th Ave towards Central Park. I was fresh and ready to run, so didn't think the incline was really much at all. I suppose that after 22 miles, it's tough. And I found Joe (he wore a red shirt, the crowd was light at this spot and I had a good view of the runners rounding the corner).

I thought this was a great picture capturing the scene and the fall colors from my vantage point:

Seeing everyone running is truly inspiring. 42,000 people run this race, and this year was the 40th Anniversary. I so appreciate people cheering me on during the triathlon that I like to give people shout outs and yell encouraging words. Some people are clever and put their name on their shirt. I'll admit that it makes it easy for me to cheer them on! I love it when they look over and smile after hearing their name, with a little more pep in their step.

This shot is right before the runners turn into the park at 92nd street, where quite a crowd forms to cheer. And this is where I had to drop off since "running friends" can't go into the park.

Can't wait to cheer people on next year!


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