Sunday, June 28, 2009

Chalupa hops in the fountain but it's a little too cold

Hooray Sunny Saturday!

Yesterday was a great day and for us in NYC it finally actually felt like summer, it was very warm, humid and sunny. And we stumbled upon just about perfect day too, first we went to brunch at the Cloisters cafe in the East village. Brunch was about 12 bucks, and you can't beat the atmosphere. The "garden" is canopied by grape vines and the stained glass art make for a really special experience. And although we didn't have Chalupa with us this time, I asked the waitress and she confirmed that they do allow dogs in the garden area. Bonus. I ordered the Chicken Caesar Salad, and John ordered a Spinach and cheese omelet. And the portions were a nice size, although I do have to say I was eyeballing another table who ordered burgers and fries. I think next time I'll have to try the turkey burger. But my salad was good, the dressing was very light...I usually prefer a thicker Caesar salad dressing, but it was refreshing and good for a hot summer day. We ended up shopping around Union Square looking at artwork and other goodies, then decided to head back to our neighborhood. Where we got a quick drink at the BXL cafe, where I was happy to find they carry Lindemann's Framboise on tap. After our drinks we decided to get home to be able to take Chalupa out to enjoy some of the weather. She was happy as a clam chasing her 'sonic' toy around and squeaking it to show off to other dogs. We played in the park with her a bit then went home just before a huge summer down pour of rain. But our day wasn't over yet, we also went to Morton's to take advantage of the $99 for two people dinner, if you sign up on their mailing list you will get this coupon. It's a surf and turf for two, EACH person gets to choose a salad, a single cut fillet (John upped his to the Rib eye for $9 more) and a seafood entree: John had the bacon wrapped scallops and I had the crab cake. We each ordered a side: the grilled asparagus, and the creamed spinach. Then we each got to choose a dessert (either the chocolate lava cake or apple pie) we got one of each. It was a truly decadent meal, and we usually don't go to Morton's unless it's a special occasion, but all that food for $99 was a great deal. That's $99 for two people NOT $99 EACH. I recommend you sign up for their mailing list. at A great day all in all, hope everyone else is having a good weekend too.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

$1300 to rebuild a transmission

So to *hopefully* conclude my car saga, the short story is I had to pay $1300 when all is said and done to have another (used) transmission put in my car, and then have it re-built. It was an electrical problem within the transmission. And I immediately put the car through it's paces by driving off to Baltimore the other weekend to help my sister with her fundraiser. The garage I went to seemed honest enough, but they were kind of a pain in the butt, but it's done and I'm just glad my car is in working order again. She still got a few miles in her yet. :)

John's, great Italian in the East village

This little place boasts that it's been serving "100 years of Italian HOME COOKING", and you better believe it. John's is cozy little place with attentive waiters, and delicious italian food. It feels like the chef is a loving Italian grandmother, the tastes are so comforting and hearty; combine that with impeccable service and you've got a solid place for Italian food. It's old school new york in the best possible way, with very reasonable prices (my lasagna at $15) and the garlic bread is perfect, smothered in butter and a plenty of garlic for flavor and to ward off any vampires. Super yummy, super good, and super friendly. That's Italiano! Highly recommended.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Evening light

Tonight around 8 pm there was beautiful orange light that reflected in an eerie and unusual way around the city. Maybe the reflections were from low hanging clouds but walking around chelsea to union sqaure was surreal. Here are some pics.

I think I prefer my windows or mirrors more assertive

Thursday, June 18, 2009

pho 32, shabu and something sweet

Pho 32 and Shabu recently opened on St. Marks and instead of walking past we decided to try it for dinner. Shabu is when you cook your own food at the table, it's fun, but when you are really hungry and not the best at chopsticks (which both applied to John) it can be a little frustrating. But once he got the hang of it, he enjoyed the seafood, beef and veggies. The how-to videos on the flat screen were a tremendous help. I ordered the grilled chicken and vermicelli noodle bowl, so I didn't have to cook anything. I was also excited that they had pearl tapioca drinks on the menu, but was utterly dissapointed when they placed a "smoothie with tapioca" next to me, it was wayy too sweet, and the tapioca was strangely enough both too mushy and hard in some spots. The bubble tea is not recommended by me. But my vermicelli bowl was good if a little on the light side. And by the end of the meal John was happy with his Seafood and beef shabu. They also gave each of us a repeat customer card and if we eat there 9 times we each get a free dish. This will come in handy when John starts teaching again at Cooper in the fall.
Since we were in the neighborhood and I still needed something to nosh on, we stopped by our old stand by Something Sweet, where I picked up the chocolate covered banana cookie and John picked up a selection of cookies for the office tomorrow. Lucky ducks.

Funny pic

Friday, June 12, 2009

Taste of the Arts in Baltimore

Off to Baltimore this weekend to help my sister with the Young Audiences of Maryland Taste for the arts. I'm sure I'll have photos to post and some comments on tasty treats after this weekend. Have a good one.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

there is a box in my closet. It's taped shut and it's filled with junk. Papers, scraps, receipts, old mail. I've had this box too many years to count and it does not belong to me. But I've kept it virtually untouched for years. If I moved it moved, from my parents house, to college, to my first apartment, to my second apartment, to NYC, to the second apt in NYC and finally here, to our home. The other day I opened it and looked through the belongings as If I've never seen them before. It's a time capsule. An unintended snapshot of a life that is long gone. This box belonged to my brother Charlie. And like I said it's mostly junk. Scraps of paper, check stubs, mail. Mementos that I cherish could have easily been trashed years ago. But when I look through these things I feel he isn't so far away. I feel not so alone. And even though it was years and years ago, sometimes the pain comes flooding back and even that I don't mind. Because I never want to forget, I want to know that he much we all loved him. How much we all miss him. Because even though I've grown up and am very far away from the 13 year old little girl he knew when he died, a part of me, or all of me will always be defined by my brother's life, his laugh, his warmth, his charm, his sarcasm, his life... and his death.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Chalupa's other rain coat

The good news is that Chalupa has lost just enough weight to squeeze into her new raincoat she got this past xmas. The bad news is that it's raining.

Chalupa's other rain coat

The good news is that Chalupa has lost just enough weight to squeeze into her new raincoat she got this past xmas. The bad news is that it's raining.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Chalupa at Rio Grande

We are taking advantage of the weather and eating brunch outside at rio grande.

Chalupa enjoying the view

Eastside walkway

Chalupa and I decided to check out progress on the eastside water walkway. Supposedly the walkway from 51st street will be expanded and connected to the one that starts around be completed by 2010. Doesn't look like they've made much progress.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Our trip to Antigua

The small but nice pool in the middle of the gardens at the Siboney Beach club, they also had a lovely hammock which scored big points with me.

When we got the invite to John's friend's wedding in Antigua, we figured that since they sent out the invites so late that they were just courtesy invites and that they really didn't want people to come out. But we were determined to foil their plan and actually make it to Antigua. And when I priced out the trip staying at the Sandals resort they had chosen the total came up to be just under $4000. FOUR THOUSAND dollars for a one week trip! It was just a little bit pricey. I mean yes, Sandals is all-inclusive, which means all the food and the drinks are included in the price. But what if you are like me and don't drink very much? And what if you want to spend some time out sightseeing around the island? A day here or there would definitely mean that you were getting screwed out of a bunch of money. Plus, from what I gather Sandals is exactly the same which ever country you travel in, so why even leave the country? They could have had a very similar vacation in Vegas and it would have been loads cheaper, and more friends and family would have been able to come. But I digress. It's their wedding and they should have what they want. Which they did. I was a little shocked to learn that including John and I, there were only three couples able to attend their wedding. Talk about intimate, but it was fun nonetheless.

Having said all that about the Sandals, I have to say that when we did visit with the day pass for the wedding the grounds and everything were lovely, the main pool was huge. Not having to worry about paying or tipping the bartenders and being able to grab food whenever was pretty nice. Although the food that was easily available was just pizza, and wraps and such. The nicer restaurants required reservations. And overall we got much better food outside of the resort.

Where we stayed was a shack compared to the empire that is Sandals. We stayed at the Siboney Beach Club, and the gardens are spectacular. We were surrounded by all types of wildlife from exotic and colorful birds (doves, warblers, humming birds) to intricately colored lizards that had red lips (I call them lipstick lizards), to crabs on the small rocky jetty near our beach. The environment was a live and definitely the main attraction. Our room...wasn't so great. It was very spacious, with a bedroom, a bathroom, a kitchenette and a living room. But our room was infested with mosquitoes, especially the first night where we must have killed about 20 mosquitoes between the two of us. The longer we stayed and kept the windows and doors shut, the better the mosquito situation became. But we also had ants, I know we are on a tropical island, but it was very difficult to keep any food items safe from the ants. Even when we stayed in the middle of the amazon we didn't have this much trouble with bugs. I suspect it was because our room was the cheapest and thus on the ground floor. But I don't think it's too much to ask to have a relatively bug free room...for the most part the rooms were very tidy. But I felt like the floor was always a bit dirty with sand and other debris. Siboney would do itself and it's customers a service with a good vacuum.

But overall, the staff was friendly and it was very convenient that the coconut grove restaurant was part of our hotel. If I had to do it over again I would definitely rent a car, even if they drive on the left. It's worth it to be able to access the more local restaurants and awesome beaches.

We had a great time and we had some great seafood at Papa Zouk's and delectable Roti at the Roti King in St. John's. We also had fun snorkeling on our own at Pigeon Beach. The sister island, Barbuda was a little bit of a disappointment, there are plenty of other beaches to see that are much easier to get to. All in all a trip to Antigua is definitely recommended, just don't forget your mosquito repellent and sunblock!

My car saga continues

So yesterday I went to pick up car from the crazy car repair shop. It's owned by two older guys, and I usually deal with Jacob but when I walked in yesterday Jacob waved at me dismissively over to Etan. Etan is much more personable than Jacob, but he was finishing his lunch when I came in. When he told me that my car wasn't ready, I wasn't really surprised. Even though I had left my car with them for three weeks, I had a feeling that I needed to call to check up on them and I didn't. When I called on Tuesday Jacob promised it would be ready by end of day or possibly Wed. We settled on Thursday since that was the easiest day for my schedule.

Turns out they put a re-built transmission into the car but when testing it they still had trouble switching from second to third gear. So, know they think the problem is electrical. I'm about to call them to check up on this. We need the car for Sunday since we are driving out to Jones Beach for a concert, and Etan promised me that either I'd have my car or I could burrow one of their cars to use.

She's an old car, I only hope they get things straightened out and she's back up and running at least for my trip to Baltimore next week to help my sister with her Taste of the Arts fundraiser.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

sorry for the hiatus

Above is a photo of one of the many lizards that live happily around our hotel in Antigua. Below is the view from the beach behind our hotel, this is the view to the left.

Below is the view from our hotel beach (all beaches are public in Antigua) looking toward the right.

I've been away to Antigua last week (the u is silent) We had a great trip. Besides the fact that I was eaten alive by mosquitos, the sun and the beach and sand was tremendous. And we put our brand spankin new snorkel masks and fins to good use. Lots of great snorkeling around the island, even on the sides of the island surrounded by the Atlantic, there were harbours that were so picturesque and calm and peaceful. And the Caribbean side was just luscious, beautiful blue water and soft silky sand. I have to say walking in the sand has made my feet nice and smooth. So, I've come back to a completely different island (Manhattan), with a ton of bug bites--- at least 17 on one leg--- some distinct tan lines, and an extra pound or two. I know, I know...time to hit the gym. It was worth it, and with the flight at a little over four hours direct from pretty convenient.

I have lots to say about our hotel, our activities and of course the food in posts to come, so stay tuned. And all apologies for falling off the face of the earth. Hope your Memorial Day weekend/or vacation was just as restful.