Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sugar and Spice

Despite the sleety Saturday weather, we knew what we needed to do next.

No trip to SoHo is complete without a stop at Balthazar Bakery.

So off we schlepped from Pearl Paint to the best breads in the city, slipping and sliding in a few spots while we got our bearings and finally came to Spring Street.

SoHo was alive with visitors from the tri-state area and foreign countries alike - all intent on getting their shopping on.

And once inside, the tiny bakery was crammed full of people, jostling for position and craning their necks to see what was for sale.

In front of the croissants and brioche, some lovely little desserts tempted those ahead of me.

But for this trip, it was no time for pastries - and we would be in and out of there in 7 minutes. I was squarely focused on the items that would travel well for a day wandering the city:

A few chocolate madeleines...

A multi-grain loaf... (which, in the end, was way too overdone for my taste)

A perfect French boule...

And to top it all off: two decadently frosted chocolate-on-chocolate cake doughnuts.

It was these doughnuts that helped Mr Spandrel and me ease into a lazy Sunday the next day, while we enjoyed the warmth of the house and the lights on our Christmas tree, as I regaled him with tales of the trip to the city, reconnecting with my dear old friend.

But, oh, did I mention brunch?

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Wherein I Take a Long Time to Get to the Point

So a week ago Saturday, December 20 to be exact, the New York metropolitan area was digging out from a sizable snowstorm, and my friend who was staying outside of the city and I were checking conditions.

"It's looking good!" she reported during our 7:30 a.m. check-in call, just before we each were to leave our respective houses to head to train stations in two different states.

I breathed a sigh of relief. Primarily because I hadn't seen my friend for two years, and also because I adore visiting New York. So of course, like many things I love and do way too infrequently, I'd built this up so much in my head that not going would have been a major bummer.

After meeting up in the city, our first stop was Pearl Paint, in Chinatown, trolling for art supplies as a gift for a nephew.

After running the gauntlet ("Handbags-Handbags-Handbags-Handbags-Handbags-Handbags-Handbags-Handbags-Handbags" the men muttered under their breath, as people scurried around, burying their heads in plastic garbage bags full of knockoff purses and wallets), we made it to the craft haven.

The two of us could have spent all day there.

Aisles and aisles of supplies of every type, from paint to pastels to pottery.

A billion different varieties of pencils!

Boxes in which to contain your finds.

Shiny plastic folders for storage and paper-toting.

And all manner of drawing paper and other media to use as a blank slate and draw inspiration, whether of the spiral-bound variety or even Moleskines.

Amidst the holiday hubbub, it was the proverbially serene oasis of calm, the store clerks inventorying the wares and occasionally offering their advice or scrutiny over our selections.

We made our way through three or four floors' worth of merchandise, and made our purchases before heading back out into the sub-zero temps, bound for more shopping...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


Despite my best intentions, it's all so focused on stuff, this time of year. (This aside from all the worky-work that needs to be done by 12/31.)

It's enough to make the idealist in me just want to cry.

But it makes me extremely happy that people - of all ages and walks of life - can band together and think like this.

That an event like this could take place.

This, this gives me hope.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dreaming of an Aimee Mann Christmas

My sister and I decided on the spur of the moment, late this week, to go to Saturday night's Aimee Mann Christmas show at the Keswick Theater.

To our surprise and chagrin, it was much less focused on Aimee Mann and her band, and more on the special guests, who included Grant-Lee Phillips (eh), Nellie McKay (ordinarily, someone I'd have wanted to see perform, but again, eh) and Amos Lee, who just the only one who really had it going on and boy that guy can sing. Oh, and the profane stylings of the Hanukkah Fairy.

Finally, at the end, Aimee and band played a few of my favorite songs from the Magnolia soundtrack (Save Me always gets me).

Before the show, as we walked through the ticket gates, I'd just been thinking to myself, all these people at a very local theater, and nobody I know here?

A moment later, I walked right into an old friend in the lobby. Gotta love those cosmic-fun moments.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Favorites, Part I

Among my favorite Christmas tree ornaments is a miniature pink-frosted cupcake house that has a delicately fluted base and a tiny door, out of which a jaunty little mouse is peeking, welcoming you inside.

My Mom gave it to us to commemorate our first Christmas in our house, and it has stood the test of time.

Each year, unwrapping it and finding it a place of honor on the tree results in much giggling.

Unless I think about it too hard, the weirdness of finding a mouse in a cupcake - or in your house, for that matter - doesn't really cross my mind.

It's just one of those super-cute things that makes me smile at the incongruity of it all. A photo will be forthcoming, as soon as we unearth all the holiday decorations. (Someday...)