New York Stories :: Sunday in the City, South of Houston

My fascination with my own city may never cease. There are so many things I adore, most of which is often overlooked. How many times have you wandered the city and looked up, or down, instead of straight ahead. New York boasts some of the world's most amazing architecture from bygone eras and yet most of it all too often goes unnoticed. As I walk through the streets I can't help but notice the details. It's as though my eye is perpetually looking through a lens, and I think it is - always has. Architecture, detail, color, patterns and people fascinate me. I slow down and capture a moment, a memory, a thought... I capture what most rush by. This is the real New York and these are the real New Yorkers. No one saw me taking their photograph. I leaned up against buildings or tried to bury myself in the crowd. Sometimes I shot from taxis. You'll see simple object - a skateboard leaning against a wall, a mailbox with grafiti, a fire hydrant and some bags of garbage... You'll see people - many of whom are on their phones, engaged in their devices, missing all of what I shot. I was enamored by the color of SOHO, patterns, textures and graffiti. I captured a piece of art, some flowers, and a man on his phone looking extremely frustrated... two friends talking in French on a stoop, another at a cafe, listening to music, writing... A tourist looking at a map, a child looking bored, dogs, a dwarf person - also on his phone... This is the city. This is my city. I hope that you too can see beauty in the mundane and simplicity in the details. 



All photos are property of Jessica Gordon Ryan/The Entertaining House and may only be used with proper attribution.

New York Stories :: Saturday in (and around) the Park...

I've always loved capturing people when they are most natural, when they are simply being themselves whether deep in thought, in conversation, enjoying a meal, or relaxing. The photo captures a split moment in time and yet can say and reveal so much more - a simple expression, a wrinkle, a twinkle in an eye, or even a tear. New York has this gruff edge. New Yorkers are considered to be rough, rude, rushed, edgy, harsh - the truth is that really these couldn't be further from the truth. Of course during the week people are in work mode. There are meetings, deadlines, mega-million dollar deals that can put people's livelihood and well-being at stake. New Yorkers can be a serious bunch - of that there's no question. But meander through the city on weekends, especially a summer weekend, and you'll see a side of the city that is not always seen, and not always portrayed. You'll see the softer side of New Yorkers. New Yorkers at ease and play.

Even though I have not lived in the city for well over 20 years, I still and forever will consider myself a New Yorker. I love the city. I love the energy - it always pulls me in. The city is and will forever feel like home to me. There's nothing like walking out into Grand Central Terminal or driving over the bridge as her tall and majestic buildings draw closer and closer. Flying into her airports after travelling locally or abroad. There are many wonderful, beautiful cities, but there is only 1 New York. Although I no longer live here, Manhattan is my home.

I had the privilege of spending the entire weekend here - a mix of business and pleasure. I will, over the course of the next few days, share my journey with you. But for now, as it's the weekend, I will show you what New York at ease is really about - New York through my eyes.

Central Park shuts down to all cars and trucks, and the only traffic is that that is generated by the bicycles, the runners, walkers, skateboarders... New Yorkers are a healthy lot. Wander through the park and you'll also see those doing yoga, and participating in boot camps. You'll see those relaxing on the grass with friends and loved ones, reading the New York Times, enjoying a picnic or cup of coffee. There's no better place to people watch in the world for we are such a mixed cast of characters!

New Yorkers love their pets, especially their dogs. Central Park turns into a dog park, perfect for our furry, four legged friends who, after a long week, get to run around and frolic in the grass too. You will see, from my images, that New Yorkers, especially on Saturday mornings in the park, are no different than anyone else. We may be luckier - we have, after all, some of the best, museums, hotels, restaurants, and events around...




All images are property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House and may not be used or reproduced without proper attribution.

Manhattan when I was young :: A Tribute to a city, the victims of 9 -11 and their families

Photo: Matt Weber

Our mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, sons and daughters... Our best friends and loved ones perished much too soon. You remain forever young in our hearts... you remain in our thoughts and prayers... Angels among us...

As many of you know I grew up in Manhattan. The towers, along with the Chrysler and Empire State Building made up the skyline as I knew it. You can't get lost in New York, all you have to do is look up! The buildings will guide you and take you to where you want to go... and they will bring you back home safely. The skyline, the streets filled with cabs and busy pedestrians and extravagant shopping is part of my own personal landscape. Like the street vendor selling hot pretzels. Like the hansom cabs. Like the homeless man on the corner or the children running and skipping down the sidewalk... Or the young lovers strolling through the park holding hands. The artist, the photographer, the crazy haired hippie, the business man, the dog walker with 12 dogs of varying sizes... these people are all my Manhattan. As is Central Park in Spring. Central Park in the Fall. Central Park when it snows. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. St. Patrick's Cathedral. Rockefeller Center. The Plaza. Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue... Tiffany and Company. Wollman rink. The boat basin. The boathouse. The traffic! Tavern on the Green, which sadly no longer exists. They are all my Manhattan when I was young. And all I have to do is close my eyes and know they are there. I close my eyes and I can see the towers. Strong. Tall. Majestic. Radiant in the morning sun. Glorious at sunset. All I have to do is close my eyes...

I left Manhattan when I was in my early 20s. I did not go very far. I went all the way to Greenwich, Connecticut. Highbrow, austere, elegant, tony, wealthy (though I had not a penny!) Greenwich, Connecticut. I didn't care much about the exquisite shopping on Greenwich Avenue back then, I was all about Todd's Point. Park, beach, nature preserve. Sublimely beautiful. Serene. Tranquil. Paradise. Lined by beautiful sandy beaches and endless trails for biking, running and walking. This park is a health enthusiast's utopia... it's heaven even for the non exercise enthusiast. I used to love to go to Todd's to run, walk or rollerblade. I loved most, this one spot, just around the bend... You could see the tip of Manhattan. I paused there often. Just taking in the magnificence of the city. Taking in the magnificence of my hometown. On a clear day she shone with a brilliance rivalled by none. Then again, she was rivalled by none - she was, (is) after all, Manhattan. The towers stood together, proudly, at the tip like watchdogs guarding their home. The towers were infallible... You'd know this, of course, if you ever stood inside their grand lobbies. But the Titanic, I suppose, was infallible too...

On September 11th, 2001 I was in my early 30s and living in my new home in Fairfield, Connecticut, some 30 miles east of Greenwich. I had two babies, the younger one was a mere 9 months old. I was on the phone and watching the Today Show when the first plane struck. A moment in time like no other. A moment in time that will never be forgotten. My Manhattan had been attacked. My Manhattan was forever altered. I think I was too... I think we all were.

"I'm at Todd's" a friend called to tell me. "I can see them. I can see the towers." She said nothing else. I knew what she meant. I wondered how many people - men, women and children, stood there, at Todd's Point, that day watching history... watching history crumble. I couldn't do it. I'd never want to. I have them in my memory. I have them in my mind still. Perfect. Strong. Safe. In my mind, I can remember Manhattan when I was young.

I offer my heartfelt prayers to all those who lost loved ones on September 11th, 2001. They will never be forgotten.



New York {A Day in My Life: A photographic journey}

It couldn't have been a pleasanter day... the weather was perfect... the sun was out and there was a gentle breeze flowing through the island... the island of Manhattan.

The day was a culmination of old and new. I took the train to 125th Street to meet a friend. I had never gotten off there before as I generally get off at Grand Central Station. The station in Harlem was beautiful, full of yesteryear's splendor, as though I had been transported back to old New York, and once we left the building new New York stood proudly, in full glory. She's a beautiful city. I'm partial; I think she's the most beautiful city in all the world. We headed toward Central Park and drove into my old neighborhood on the Upper East Side. We drove past the building where I grew up and parked the car on 90th Street next to The Church of the Heavenly Rest. I tossed on my flip flops, grabbed my camera, a bottle of water and into the park, towards the reservoir, we went. My old stomping grounds. The Upper East Side, the reservoir... all familiar. I had come back home. It felt great to be back home!

I kept apologizing for my need to stop and snap a few pictures... Ok, more than a few... a lot of pictures! My normal style is not to look at the over-all landscape, but to hone in on the smaller detail... the details that are missed by most. I like to point out the beauty to those who have not stopped to take a closer look.
But yesterday I needed to do both. In my photographs of this particular day you'll see the larger tapestry, and you'll see the smaller, finer, more delicate threads within.

We cut out of the park and headed toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I spent much time both inside and outside as a child. I love to watch people... to study them... I can do this for hours. My camera loves people as well. My favorite pictures to take of people are those where they're being themselves... when they have no idea a camera is nearby.

From the Upper East Side we ventured downtown. I am not at all familiar with lower Manhattan at all. It's really like traveling to a foreign country. But in addition to what was old, I wanted to see something new. My friend proved to be an amazing tour guide. I learned so much about my city... about all the new and wonderful things she has to offer.

I have always wanted to walk the Highline, and that was our next stop. What was once a run-down, elevated railroad track has been renovated, slowly, section by section, and turned into a most wonderful park where people can sit and relax, picnic, take in the sights of downtown or simply walk through to get from point A to point B.

I cannot adequately describe the Highline as she weaves in and out of various buildings and neighborhoods...   It's an experience that will awaken all your senses... there's so much texture in New York City and no where is it more apparent. New York is smooth, rough, flat, gritty, soft. Here wood meets metal, meets brick, meets glass, meets grass...

Gardens and gorgeous flowers strategically planted and placed along the old tracks... and sight and smell and touch... our senses are heightened...

Everyone seems to want to stop and smell the roses and slow down, if not but for a quick moment.

And the New York scenery is all around... horizons and harbors and funny advertisements...

We paused for a moment to look at the new construction... the vast expanse will become the new home to the Whitney Museum of American Art in a couple of years. She has outgrown her currently location in the old Frank Lloyd Wright building on the Upper East Side.

We got off the Highline to have some lunch and walk around the Meat Packing District where designers have stores, fancy restaurants feed tired and hungry tourists who come to rest their weary feet and refuel.

From the Highline we wandered through Chelsea Market...

...and over to Chelsea Piers... a beautiful stretch of the old commercial docks of the Hudson River that not too long ago was redeveloped... the old, tired, run-down piers that no longer served a purpose have been revitalized with rolling hills, parks and a breath-taking view of the harbor.

We then left the Chelsea Piers to head toward Madison Square Park ...

and a stroll through Eataly... another visual and aromatic journey...

and into Union Square to experience the incredible farmer's market...

and sadly the day was over and I had a train to catch back home...

I had a truly wonderful day and owe thanks to my amazing tour guide!

I hope you all enjoyed my stroll through the city as well...

Happy Mother's Day!



I'm coming home...

I headed back in to the city again yesterday to meet Ronda Carman (All The Best) for lunch near Grand Central Station. Knowing that the only thing on my agenda was our lunch date, I went in equipped with my camera, excited not only to meet Ronda but also to have a bit of time without having to rush around madly, or look after young children. The day was magical. Ronda is lovely and our lunch was wonderful. After we ate and asked the kind gentlemen at the front of the restaurant to take our picture, we parted ways, and promised we would get together again the next time she's in town.

After lunch Ronda headed to Starbucks to work and catch up on emails and I thought I might rejoin her there as it's a great place to recharge my iPhone but I never did. Instead I let my camera be my guide and lead my way... we headed back to Grand Central Terminal and then towards the New York Public Library... all the while I was looking at things anew.

as many of you know, I grew up in the city, and while I no longer live there I will always consider it my home. I feel safe and welcome there - and even though I had the luxury of a few hours of solitude, to wander by myself, to contemplate in my thoughts, I knew I was not alone. In the city one can be alone without being lonely.

That old saying is so very true and very much applies to me. You can take the girl out of the city, but you can never take the city out of the girl. I love my home in the country. I am surrounded by miles and miles of farms and barns, animals, trees. It's gorgeous. It's bucolic. But, it's not Manhattan. I've been to many cities in my life, Manhattan is mine. Manhattan is home.

The city is filled with so many wonderful threads, colors and textures... everything tells a story... I love the blending of the old and the new... I love to see the finer details that are often overlooked... I love to watch the people pass by... I'll be back home again one day very soon!


Ladies who Lunch

Some of my girlfriends and I have this term about "ladies who lunch." Truth be told it's not really a flattering one... In our area these ladies are decked out in their jewels and fancy designer clothes, they talk (gossip) talk (gossip) and talk (gossip) all the while no one breaks out into smile and there is nary a wrinkle to be found on any of their too tight faces. I've always gravitated to girls -- I much prefer that term -- who are more like me... boisterous, fun-loving, intelligent, witty, and, most importantly, real. I'm usually at the loudest table in the restaurant. Often I am the loudest person. So I wondered what to expect when I was to meet Liz, Jane, Ridgely, and Stacy (I had already met Mindy, Cynthia and Gretchen) at the tony restaurant on the 7th Floor of Bergdorf's.

I arrived at Grand Central Station with about a half an hour to spare. I would have loved to have walked through the department store to drool  do some window shopping but my shoes had managed to tear up my toes (all ten of them) and a pit-stop at Duane Reade to pick up some J&J magical blister Band-Aids was most necessary. I met The Gracious Girl in front of the entrance and together we headed up to be greeted by The Daily Basics Editor-in-Chief Cynthia Borgart, Ridgely Brode of Ridgely's Radar and Gretchen Aubuchon. We made our way to our table and our Shopafrolic sisters Liz Lange and Jane Wagman showed up with Stacy of Quintessence. As soon as we were seated Ridgely pulled out gifts for us all, lotions, lip glosses and tights. (She heads a PR firm with clients in the fashion industry.)

Stuffy? Uptight? Stiff lipped? Quiet? Not this bunch!!! Glad to say we were indeed the loudest table on the 7th floor... perhaps in all of Manhattan? What a bunch of lovely and gracious and fun-loving girls!

(In advance, apologies for the sun glare behind everyone as alas I decided not to schlep the good camera all over town.)

Jane, Ridgely, Stacy

Jane on her purple phone! I really, really do have to have this!

Jane, Stacy, Cynthia... Tweeting and Twittering away

Liz and Gretchen

Me, they insisted... they hated my Twitter Avatar!

Ridgely's new Twitter Avatar

Goodies from Ridgely and name tags designed by Jane

I'm nosey and love to see what's in Liz's bag!

Group Shot
Coryanne (who joined us late in the game) Liz, Gretchen, me, Jane (behind me), Mindy, Stacy (behind Mindy) and Cynthia

Our favorite Shopafrolics!

After lunch everyone parted ways for a while and I needed to recharge my phone so I dashed into a nearby Starbucks and planted myself next to an outlet and started drafting up my next project. From there I headed to a bar in Grand Central Station called The Campbell Apartment Terrace where I met up with Coryanne Ettienne (Housewife Bliss), Cynthia Bogart and Maybelline Te of Snug Furniture where we enjoyed our first Mojitos of the season... and boy they were good!

I caught the 6:38 Express back home and left the city with a spring in my blistered step and a smile on my face. I got some wonderful and sage advice from so many, most especially Cynthia and Coryanne, for my next project. I cannot wait to get started!

Ladies, I love you all and can't wait to lunch again!

XOXO, Jessica

Brunch at Bergdorf's...

So excited! I'll be heading into the city later this morning for the lunch that we've been planning for well over a month. Unfortunately, the weather is not exactly cooperating... It's currently raining cats and dogs out there which makes getting around in the city pretty miserable. Cabs will all be taken. I'll pull on my polka dotted rainboots and splish splash my way over to the Upper East Side where I do plan on having either a glass of bubbly or a Bloody Mary. This you can be sure of! Another thing I am quite certain of, the girls will be my sunshine today!

XOXO Jessica

Design Inspiration + Nate + A BIG Fat Thank You!

I'm back up and running and this never would have happened without the help of my friend Rita's husband Paul. He is The IT guru! I owe my everything to him... I am and will be eternally grateful. I love you Paul! :)

And now... back to business!

It was a pleasure to meet so many wonderfully talented individuals. These bloggers/designers were warm, charming, friendly and fiercely talented. We came together as invited guests to The Nate Berkus Show. We were also so disappointed by the show... while Nate is warm, charming, endearing, charismatic and, of course, as good looking as can be, we were all quite let down by the show. His personality did not come across as it should have. The segments were choppy and did not flow... and were very run-of-the-mill. I felt as though the show had been dumbed down slightly. The producers missed the mark. They should be thinking Oprah caliber... I thought the show to be a version of Ladies Home Journal when it could truly be the Domino or ElleDecor of television. I wish Nate and his staff nothing but success, but they do have their work cut out for them... if they want any more of my unsolicited advice they can email me through my profile ;)

Where I did find true inspiration was at the After Party sponsored by The Nest Magazine at a wonderful restaurant in the village called The Collective. My camera had a field day with all the wonderful decor all made from recyclable objects. I would like to thank everyone for all their hard work and talents to pull of such a wonderful party at the last minute... I would thank all the talent personally, with links, but soon the kids will be waking up and the chaos that is called morning will come crashing down upon us. I am short on time!

I, do however, want to share the photos I took ...

Maybelline Te, Liz Ortega, Catherine Avery, Marcy Feld, Marcy Michaud,
Johnathan Legate and I enjoy a little lunch before the show

Goofing Around!

Staring deep into my eyes...

And of course I had to take pictures of the set!

wanted to see what was in the drawers!

And now, on to the Design Inspiration!

The Collective

Have a seat... any seat!

Darling, you light up my life!
(or maybe it was all those little pills!)

Love this light?
I'll drink to that!

Care to join me in the bathtub?

Come on over to the bar, my little muffin!

Meet Rita, the Meter Maid...

May I walk you to your (subway) car?

The fabulous party sponsors!

Fabulous Blogger Girls...

A Perfectly Palatable Dinner of Cupcakes and...


and running to catch the 8:07 home!

What a fabulous day it was!

eye candy...

Tomorrow is the first BIG Day this week! I can hardly stand it! I'll be heading in to the city in the morning to meet up with about 200 other designing bloggers as guests of The Nate Berkus Show. I am just positively giddy! I still don't know that to wear... I keep changing my mind every two seconds alternating between casual and a bit more formal. It's supposed to be warm tomorrow, in the mid 70s, so I want to dress for a warm day and a cool evening. I'll need my walking shoes and I will need my "show" shoes! So much to think about!

Anyhow, I thought I would leave you with a little eye candy...






Easy Like Sunday Morning...

Fresh cappuccino with The New York Times, Apple Cinnamon Muffins fresh out of the oven, (click here for recipe) and a little fall cleaning which started when my 9 year old ran his hand across the inches of dust upon my piano which, thank goodness, did not show up in the photo I posted here the other day!

I think I have a Windex obsession! My husband found all these bottles under the kitchen sink! These do not account for the bottle in the garage, in the laundry room or in my bathroom!

For all of you who have had a hard time accessing my blog, my apologies as the website transitions over from the old to a new one in my domain -- an easier to remember, more professional one. Pardon the glitches. I have lost my blog roll and my followers appear in my dashboard but not on my blog. I am so upset by this. If you were on my blog roll, or would like to be on it please let me know as I try to recreate it!

I have some fabulous posts planned for you in the days and weeks to come... I have LillyLemontree, Housewife Bliss, and Pink, Preppy Lilly Lover all scheduled to take part in a Three Part Series on Fall. It will be wonderful! I will fill you all in on my day on Tuesday at The Nate Berkus Show (I will be bringing my copy of True Prep to read on the train en route!) I will share more of La Jolie Grandmere's Manor House in Oxfordshire and I will bring you all with me to Nantucket where I will leave on Thursday to visit Tickled Pink Talk, with Pink, with Green & Southern  and It's a Golden Day. We just can't wait. Oh it is going to be a fantabulous week!

Eloise at the Plaw-za!

I have long loved Eloise. She was a lot like me. She was a bit precocious. She was an only child. She was a city girl. We both grew up in Manhattan. We both lived on the Upper East Side. But she lived at The Plaza! The Plaw-za! And she got to eat ice cream in the Palm Court like all the time!

When Rebecca was just a few months old Hilary Knight came to Greenwich (Connecticut) to sign copies of all the Eloise books that were being relaunched. I lived right near by at the time and so I put my sleeping baby down for a nap and headed to the library where I would purchase one copy of each of his books for him to sign. I knew that one day she too would love all things Eloise. (And one day she would outgrow her love for all things Eloise and move on to other things to love instead, like Justin Bieber...Blech!)  One day she will have a little girl of her own (I hope!) and I will take my grand-daughter to the Plawza to look for Eloise! And together we'll have an ice cream in the Palm Court. I wonder how much a scoop of ice cream will cost then...

In 1957 The Plaza Created their own Eloise Menu.

The hotel was delighted to be able to cater to the Eloise fans who visited the hotel. There was an Eloise Ice Cream Parlor and a special "Eloise Menu" was offered in the Palm Court.

The menu was created with the author, Kay Thompson, and featured a Hilary Knight illustration of Eloise on her tricycle on the cover. Inside, the menu a little story accompanies the menu.

57_eloisemenu.jpg - 28.5 K

I am Eloise
I am six
I am a city child
I live here at the Plaza
Nanny tells me to be good good good
Especially when I am eating
I must eat or I'll dry up
Everybody knows that
Here's what I like
And here's the thing of it
There's this Tricycle garage
where you can park your tricycle too
Skipperdee is my turtle
He eats raisins
The Plaza is the only hotel in New York
that will allow you to have a turtle
Weenie is my dog
I put sunglasses on him
when we go on tricycle trips through the Park
Oooooooo there's so much to do
I absolutely love the Plaza
The adventures of Eloise, a little girl who lives at The Plaza, were created by Kay
Thompson in her book, "ELOISE," illustrated by Hilary Knight and published by
Simon and Schuster.


children's menu
  Kiddie Kar Kocktail           with compliments of Eloise
*      *     *      *     *
Jumbo Juice      .45
*      *     *      *     *

Sirloin Suzie-Qsizzling, special chopped sirloin steak1.75
Turkey-In-The-Strawdelicious hash à la plaza1.95
Eggs Eloisea dainty omelet for tiny tots.80
Teeny Weeniestwo delectable frankfurters, junior size.75
Mary-Had-A-Little-Lamb Chopa luscious lamb chop2.25
Skipperdee Sandwichpeanut butter and jelly.75
*      *     *      *     *

Smashed Potatoes.35          Punch and Judy Peas, Purée.75
Funny French Fries.35          Space Ship Succotash.60
Popeyed Baked Potatoes.45          Jack-&-The Beanstalks, Julien.60

*      *     *      *     *

Tricycle Treat.95          A Tisket-A-Tasket.50
Supersonic Sherbert.65          Tooty-Fruity.75
Rice Pudding Mary Jane.55          Copy Cat Cake.60

*      *     *      *     *

Milk, Milk, Milk!      .30

Well, once again Eloise lovers of all ages can jump up and down and rejoice. A brand new Eloise Room designed by Betsey Johnson is available for Mummy and Minnie for a mere $900 a night! But don't fret, for a mere $900 your Minnie will get a $100 gift certificate to use at the Eloise store, her own bawth-robe, a pink disposable camera and all the candy she could possibly eat!

The Eloise Suite that Johnson designed combine whimsy and luxury. The result is positively charming! The suite channels six-year old  Eloise's effervescent spirit. Eloise, the precocious six-year-old lived with her Nanny, pet pug Weenie and turtle, Skipperdee at the grand hotel.

As is only fitting for New York's quintessential "city child," Eloise's suite is located on the 18th floor of the famous New York hotel and is comprised of two rooms – one for young Eloises and one for their Mummies and Nannies. The Suite is dazzling.  Eloise herself would have applauded this palette of pink and black. She would have adored, and perhaps swung from, the signature Plaza chandelier fitted with pink bulbs.  She would have loooooooved the pink and white candy striped walls outlined with gold leaf molding. She would have loooooooved the contrasting black and white zebra-print carpet that muffles the sound when Eloise slomps her skates to “make a really loud and terrible racket.” And most of all, she would have loooooved her name scribbled in bright lights right over her bed!

Mummies and Minnies (and perhaps Nannies as well) won't be able to resist the Tea Room where family and friends can come together for refreshments and celebrate birthday parties and other occasions. Any day now the Eloise shop will also introduce a week-long ‘Charm School’ to teach little Eloise’s in training how to dine, dress, write thank you notes and generally learn how to say, “s’il vous plait” and “thank you very much.”
For those of us with Minnies who find the suite's $900 price tag to be a wee bit much for our pink and white wallets, the Plaza's doormen will engage your daughter with Eloise's latest antics at the hotel. They may even ask your Minnie for assistance in trying to locate the precocious six year old! 
You and your Minnie will certainly want to head over to The Plaza’s legendary Palm Court, which is once again pleased to offer a special ‘Eloise Tea’ complete with kid-approved favorites such as miniature grilled cheese and organic peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, freshly baked, warm seasonal scones, cupcakes, a cookie that looks just like our heroine, assorted sweets and pink lemonade or peppermint iced tea.  

Prep School across The Pond: Part 1

Note: This post turned out dramatically differently than I had intended... what was to be lighthearted and filled with fun and fashion and some good old fashioned name dropping turned into something much more personal -- writing this evoked many raw emotions, and great period of personal pain and struggle that would last for several years. Many teenagers go through awkward times, but all these feelings of self doubt and uncertainty happened so very far away from home. I feel a little vulnerable and exposed but I am not going to change it. So here it is The first installment of my British Education. (It is long.)

I remember the cool air and the grey skies of that winter. The weather was milder than at home, but the lack of sunshine that week was a bit depressing. I dutifully visited all the schools and quite liked the co-ed school but was not as fond of the campus. I chose instead a posh school that had educated members of the Royal Family, Guinness family and celebrities for generations. I had not known this at the time. (But I am certain that this was the reason it was my grandmother’s favorite!) I remember visiting; and seeing girls smiling and laughing and being girls as they walked down the halls to their classes. I remember the roly poly Mrs. Johns who was the then Head of the School. It seemed to me, as I observed all around, a place I would fit in well. The girls were pretty (of course that matters to a 16 year old!) and reminded me of my friends at home.

Needless to say La Jolie Grandmère was delighted with my decision to spend a year in Europe and spend it with the “right” people.

I finished up the rest of the school year in New York without incident. I was not unhappy to leave until the summer was over.

I had had a fabulous summer – the best of my life thus far – working at the camp I had attended each summer of my youth in the Adirondack Mountains. I had found and fallen in love – My first real teen love! While we did break up at the end of the summer we remained friends and our friendship would last for years to come.

The end of that summer, for me, was filled with fear and dread. I had just come into my own. I had a wonderful group of fun and supportive friends. I had fallen in love. My self-esteem and confidence level was at an all-time high. I should have been able to move ahead with confidence and a sure foot. But I didn’t and it would be years, over 20, before I would I would have the same sense of self and confidence again.

September was fast approaching and I was packing for a new life in a new country – a journey I would be traveling, for the most part, alone without the security of friends and family, which for a 16 year old girl is hard and scary and crazy and bold, and a very grown-up thing to do.

I have never been one to embrace change. To this day I loathe it. I fear it. For a 16 year old to face such change and uncertainty is almost insurmountable. But I had committed to a year abroad and there was no turning back. My mother never let me quit which I suppose is a good thing because I am notoriously good at starting and stopping. To this day I am better at starting new projects than completing them.

So without turning back, across The Pond I flew once more. This time my parents were with me to bid me a fond farewell. On that plane my stomach lurched and churned. I suppose it was the first time I was actually fearful of flying. I wore my favorite outfit. It was one I knew I looked good in. I wore a pretty white blouse, my favorite Girbaud jeans (It was the 80s!) with a white sweater around my waist and a pair of navy ballet flats. I had my bag of tricks to keep me entertained. Paper and pens, of course, and my Sony Walkman my father had just given me for this trip. I had several tapes for listening but I am pretty sure I played the same one over and over again.

The Police had released their Synchronicity album earlier that year. We listened to it at school and at each other’s houses. The first song, I believe, to top the charts was Every Breath you Take and I remember how taken I had been with it. The Synchronicity album was one of those great works you never tired of. That summer, with my boyfriend and a friend of ours who lived in Quebec, we traveled to Montreal to see the Police in concert. It was amazing.

Everything about that summer, to me, was amazing. I adored the Police and listening to the music and the lyrics brought me back to a warm and safe place. I just couldn’t get enough of the songs.

We had arrived in England a few days before school was to begin. We would spend our days relaxing and shopping to for my room and bedding. And I would pick up a few more things for myself along the way. Most important was that I get over the jet lag before school started.

I don’t remember much about that week or the drive to school.

But once we got to school I remember the details vividly, as though it was just yesterday.

The school was gorgeous, brown red brick covered with ivy all. The old architecture was spectacular. The school was elegant, stately and warm. We arrived at the same time other young, pretty girls with beautiful British accents did… long hair flowing over their shoulders…big blue eyes and rosy cheeks eager to receive kisses from the friends they had not seen over the long summer. The girls wore their summer tans under their uniforms. Everyone seemed genuinely glad to be there. Everyone but me. I mustered all my strength to keep from busting into tears. This was not my school. I did not belong. We got my room assignment and climbed all the way up to Treetops, Lower 6th form.

We climbed what seemed to be (to me) the endless flights of stairs before we reached the top of the building in search of what would be my room. We followed the numbers on the doors and did not have to look far. My heart sank further. I mustered up more strength to fight back the tears. I didn’t have a room, I had a broom closet that someone had the bloody audacity to paint a pale pink so that one might actually for a nanosecond mistake it for a bedroom.

My bedroom, excuse me, my broom closet, was so small it did not have a closet in which to hang my clothes. A small make-shift amoire was jammed in. I didn’t have a proper desk, and the small table seemed like an exaggerated joke. This clearly was the room no one wanted. The room no one chose last spring when the girls got to pick out their rooms.

I’m sure my parents told me my room was adorable and used words of that nature. But these words didn’t help. Soon it was time for them to say their goodbyes and leave me in the godforsaken place where I did not belong. I kissed them and hugged them and closed my door and cried. And cried and cried and cried.

A short while later the dinner bell rang. I followed the girls down the stairs to the two refectories. I had no idea where to go or where to sit. There seemed to be no sort of a visible seating chart and no one to show me the ropes. I made my way into the larger of the two refectories where I was met by a tall stern woman with grey hair and tree trunks for legs. Like a bad character from a movie about a British Boarding School Mrs. Webb glared at me, then shouted “Where do you think you’re going?” More tears to control. I think my lips managed to quiver the fact that I didn’t know where to sit. It was a small enough school with very few new students, surely she could have used a kinder tone if not kinder words. There was to be no hand-holding at this school. I learned this on Day One.

I found my table and my seat which was near the head. We had assigned seats with a child or two represented from each form. Each person at the table had a duty, for example one child went to get the food, another served, another cleared, another fetched the desserts…

My First Supper, other than my Grand Entry, left no major marks on my memory. I do not remember what was served that night or whether I ate any of it. The food in general was pretty terrible British school food. There was always some sort of meat, vegetable and starch. There was salad that contained lettuce and tomatoes and some sort of a nasty yellow dressing -- and I use that term loosely -- that was thick, too thick to spread over your salad properly and had the unfortunate and unmistakable smell and texture of Miracle Whip. Aghhhhh…. And then there were desserts. They were sweet and rich and not terribly good but were perfect for filling a void.

At some point, over the next day or so, I made some friends. In the room next to me was Camilla. She had more hyphenated last names than Elizabeth Taylor would have had she strung all her married names together. That this girl was of pedigree was unquestionable. But she also had issues and I wonder how many other elite boarding schools she had been to and kicked out of. She didn’t last terribly long and after an afternoon with her I figured I had best stay away.

We had a Dorm Mother. She was an ugly, short, stout lady named Miss Willetts.She had short, chin length brown hair and bangs. She wore unflattering dresses, skirts and heavy cardigan sweaters and ugly, sensible shoes. She was a character and we loved to cause her distress. Smoking in the dorms was absolutely prohibited. Though we did it all the time. We’d cram as many girls as we could into the bathroom stalls and pass around a cigarette or two. It’s amazing she could not smell the smoke wafting out from under the door or hear the dozen or so girls piled on top of each other giggling and shhh-shing! Then we would carefully sneak out and sneak back into our rooms. Miss Willetts would then come out of her own room and smell the smoke wafting through the corridors, demanding to know who had had a smoke. Of course no one fessed up. Eventually we took to sneaking in the bathrooms and would run the water in the tub to better hide the sounds of our giggles.

St. Mary’s School Girls stood out in town. We would never be confused with the townies. We looked and talked differently and it was important, that if we were going to break a rule, like sneaking a cigarette, that we did it very discreetly. We hid behind bushes and trees and cars in the park, every so often running into a faculty member or gym teacher or such. This became a fascinating game for me. I had never been a rule breaker before.

Although I was starting to fit in and even acquire a bit of a British accent, I still missed home and my friends and New York. This place, on the other side of the vast ocean, was not my home and didn’t feel like my home.I saw my grandmother from time to time, but not very often. Thanksgiving felt cold and lonely. I went home for the weekend and my grandmother had gone to all sorts of measures to create a wonderful Thanksgiving for me. But it lacked the most important ingredient, being at home in the States. After all, wasn’t the holiday a celebration of surviving in a new country away from the English rule?

I began to find solace in food. Food and goodies began to fill a void. I began to turn to food in a way I hadn’t ever done before. I didn’t eat because I was hungry. I ate because I was bored or lonely or sad. I sought more comfort in food than I was getting in this foreign and cold land. I was being self-destructive and I could feel it. The clothes were getting tight. I was bloating and gaining weight rapidly. This upset me too and only did more to fuel the vicious eating cycle. Food was making me miserable and yet the food was the only thing that could comfort me, though I didn’t see this at the time.

Academically things were going well. In the English academic system, once you hit the 6th form you pick three (and up to five) areas of study. These areas of study are referred to as the A-Levels, Advanced Levels. One can only take her A-Levels after O-Levels (Ordinary Levels) have been completed and passed with a grade of B or higher. The grading system is much stricter than in the States. When taking these exams the actual tests are graded by special individuals who are part of the testing system and not by the school. The tests themselves are thorough and rigorous and it takes two years of study to learn and study for both the O-level and A-level exams. I had chosen to study Art, Art History and French and was thrilled to never have to look at another Math text book ever again!

My teachers were wonderful and interesting, especially my Art and Art History teachers. These may have been the only two teachers at the school who cared and gave a damn about me. They were lovely, loving, supportive and encouraging. And from these two women I learned more than I ever could imagine both personally and academically.

Mrs. Shallgosky was fun loving, fun, eccentric and an amazing teacher. She had grey hair that she wore in a chignon, she was both stylishly modern and classically hip. Mrs. Beckerleg was a very short, very round and not terribly attractive woman with a heart of pure gold. She wanted her students to succeed at school and at life. She loved all her students dearly. This was clear. These two teachers, their love of their subject, their love for their subjects and for their students may be the most important thing I brought home with me. These two teachers have a special place in my heart still, after all these years.

As the weather turned cooler and the days grew longer and darker my sadness did too. It was nearly time to go home. I couldn’t wait. I packed up all my belongings – all my possessions because I was certain that I would never return. I would stay at home in the city where I belonged.

On the airplane I was at peace and calm knowing that I had left that terrible place behind me. I sat on that airplane, my clothes uncomfortably tight knowing that as soon as I got home everything would be OK again and my clothes would once again fit. I had Simon and Garfunkel in my Walkman. The lyrics to A Heart in New York struck a chord and as I listened I cried…

New York -- to that tall skyline I come
Flyin' in from London to your door
New York -- lookin' down on Central Park
Where they say you should not wander after dark
New York -- like a scene from all those movies
But you're real enough to me, for there's a heart
A heart that lives in New York A heart in New York arose on the street
I write my song to that city heartbeat
A heart in New York -- the love in her eyes
An open door and a friend for the night New York -- you got money on your mind
And my words won't make a dime's worth of difference
So here's to you, New York There were no more perfect lyrics than the ones I was listening to… I listened to them, as I tend to do when I find that perfect song, over and over and over again.

I got off the airplane eager to see my parents and be home.
Everything would now be OK.

But it wouldn't be.

A Day in New York City Aboard The USS Intrepid

My father is a history buff... always has been. Growing up we had two televisions, one was a small portable black and white set and the other a large colored one that was housed in my parents' bedroom. On Sundays we would all watch television together. Sometimes it was a family movie. Often it was a historical documentary. The World at War, The Winds of War and like titles were what my father preferred. Most of the content was lost on me, too young to fully understand war, the casualties, loss and the repercussions. But still because it was television and because it was on, I would hang out with my parents. They sat on their bed and I sat on the big comfy chair, ottoman pushed in and my made my home there. I would have my paper, coloring books and colored pencils with me to keep me company.

I was never a history buff myself. I'm sure it's because my teachers made it tellement boring. What I always needed and what was always lacking, in my opinion, was the human element. This is why when I finally began taking art history classes at prep school in England, my world opened up and changed. Through art, which tells the story by sharing the human component, I started to enjoy history. And now that I am older with children of my own I have a new love and new interest for the history of my country (and the world) and the men who have fought so hard to protect my country (and the world).

 Aboard the USS Intrepid looking out at the New York Skyline

Rebecca, above, on the massive flight deck of the USS Intrepid.
The view of the New York City Skyline from one of the decks way up in the "cockpit"
which is such a stark contrast to her days at sea...

Our past and past, present and future all before me... I sit and wonder and marvel at the view ahead... Fighter planes of the past resting regally on the flight deck of the massive USS Intrepid who came to rest and call New York Harbor her home...

As my husband tried to read about the history behind all these planes -- (I think there were roughly 24 on the flight deck, and more below in the belly of the ship) I couldn't as I had a very wandering, whiny Alexander to watch, I focused instead on the art and beauty of the aircraft themselves.

Does this plane not some Disney-esque appearance about it? I don't know... I see Dumbo-looking plane! The spout coming out of the top of the is how this plane refuels itself in mid-air. We saw quite a few aircraft with these in various places.

We witnessed American and world history first-hand yesterday. It was awesome and amazing. And incredibly eye-opening. With all that has been going on lately within our own government, with our future history sitting precariously on a ledge, everything about yesterday was such a juxtaposition... the old war ship and war planes that had worked so hard and have seen so much sitting idyllically and  peacefully in modern times... the old war ship and planes who fought in far lands and over vast oceans resting tranquilly in Manhattan's harbor...

Perhaps what struck me most was when we were in the belly of the USS Intrepid. I was listening to a grandfather (slightly younger than my own father) tell his grandson (about Rebecca's age) all about the chopper they were standing in front of...(pictured above)  How he flew it... How it felt to be inside the small aircraft and what it was like to fly it. 

We got to board the Concorde which has long been a dream of mine. Ever since I was a little girl these magnificent planes that graced the air with record speed have always fascinated me. My grandfather flew them when he was working in California and living in Europe. He always complained that they were small and cramped and not very comfortable at all. I never truly believed him. Until yesterday! This long, wide-winged bird has a cabin that is no wider than that of a small commuter plane! I was amazed. I was also struck by how small the window were on the outside, just a couple of inches in diameter. My husband thought this might have something to do with causing too much drag. As we went into the plane we did try to locate which seats we thought my grandfather might have sat in!

In the belly of the Intrepid is where the museum lies with various exhibits and interactive activities for the children, and more planes.


The USS Crawler, a submarine commissioned during the Cold War set out to sea in 1962. It housed 88 men including crew. I was amazed at how narrow and cramped everything was below. These men lived in tight quarters... and I only saw 2 toilets!

To the men and women of our country who have fought our World Wars, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, The Cold War and the wars of today... I humbly salute you!

To learn more about the Intrepid please visit their website: The Intrepid, Sea, Air and Space Museum

My New York School Years: The Lycee Francais + Studio 54 + Preppy Murders


Lycée Français de New York
as she stood on 9 East 72nd Street

These buildings were sold, along with the Upper School Buildings on 7 - 9 East 95th Street
and the school relocated to a different location on the Upper East Side to a facility that would be able to accommodate both the Upper and Lower schools.

Even when it came to education my grandmother played a vital role. When it was time for me to start my schooling La Jolie Grandmère thought it only natural that I attend a French school. At the age of four I entered the nursery school at the Lycée Français de New York. After all, if I was going to be summering in France I ought to speak the language. That year I had a French teacher Mlle Matthieu whom I didn’t like. She was French and strict. My other teacher was Miss Peck. I adored her! Our class was bilingual. Half of the children were French and the rest of us were American. I don’t remember learning French that year, per se, but I remember singing French songs and painting and playing in the large store in our classroom. I didn’t really master the language until the summer after my nursery school year and before my Kindergarten year. All of a sudden, after being immersed in the culture and playing with the French children on the beach for weeks on end I was fluent. I returned back to the States sounding much like a little French girl! I had the same two teachers in Kindergarten and they could not believe that suddenly I had mastered the language. Because I was so young I had a perfect French accent and I could have indeed been a little French girl. My teachers were so proud of me. Even Mlle Matthieu!

At the Lycée all of our classes were in French. As I got older I studied, Math, History, Science, Geography -- all in French. I had spelling tests. In French. In fact, I only had two English classes a week!
The French school system was very strict. From a young age I had lots of homework. Much more so than my peers who attended American schools. I was quite envious of their ability to go out and play (in front of their buildings) in the afternoons. Much of my homework involved memorization. For all my courses there were thick, heavy books with paragraphs at the end of each chapter that I had to memorize. We were quizzed on them almost daily. We also had dictation. All of our writing was done in fountain pen. No ballpoint. No pencils with erasers. I was left-handed. (Still am.) Writing in fountain pen and being left handed was no easy task. Inevitably I would write and my hand would rub over the ink causing an illegible, ghastly mess all over my notebook and hand. It was very disconcerting. I was always getting demerits for messiness. I wanted to be neat so badly and for the longest time did not know how to be. I had a friend named Yael and she had the most scrumptious, beautiful handwriting. I wanted to write just like her. My letters started out ok until my hand slid over the not-yet-dried ink. Not only did we write with pen but we learned how to write in cursive from the get-go. There was no printing whatsoever.

In the second or third grade my teacher held up my cahier for the entire class to see. “Look at Jessica!” The teacher admonished. “What a messy notebook. This is a disgrace!” Needless to say I wanted to die right there and then. Today I have lovely handwriting. At some point, in the fourth grade, I think, I learned that if I turned my notebook just so, so that it appears that I am writing almost sideways, I could write without smudging the ink. Believe it or not I now love to write with a fountain pen!

We had uniforms at the Lycée. And they were the nicest, smartest uniforms of all the private schools in New York City. We wore navy (or brown or black) shoes, navy or grey knee-socks, grey flannel skirts, white blouses with navy or grey sweaters. We were a sharp looking bunch of children.

One day, it was the first day of Kindergarten, my mother and I were waiting at the bus stop for the bus to take us to school. When we got there two little towheads around my age were standing there with their mother, blond and beautiful. My mother noticed that the little girls were dressed exactly as I was and so she asked the mother if they were headed to the Lycée. Indeed they were. Samantha and Catherine were just a year apart, lived just across the street and were to be my best friends for many years to come. Samantha was in my class throughout my Lycée years.

We had gym every day at the Lycée. We wore white T-shirts with a navy rim around the collar and arm bands and the school’s logo, which was quite pretty, on the front. We wore navy track shorts to match. Sometimes we had gym class in the school’s lovely gymnasium and sometimes we went outside, to Central Park. The lower school in those years occupied a couple of spectacularly gorgeous brownstones on 72nd between Fifth and Madison Avenues. The park’s entrance was just a half a block away. Often we would go and run around the boat basin. Other times we would play ball in a large open field. There was nothing better than going to the park on a gorgeous fall or spring day! Sometimes we went to the park for recess as well. We even went to the magnificent playground in the park from time to time. New York City was a marvelous place to go to school.

The boat basin around which we ran

I usually brought lunch to school. My mother was very creative and I had all sorts of wonderful lunches. I would have sandwiches cut into various shapes from cookie cutters, or sandwiches on baguettes or bagels or soup in my thermos. Sometimes I bought lunch at school. The food was magnificent – as it should be at a French school! All the sandwiches were made on fresh baguettes and I never had a hot meal I didn’t like. School always provided milk. I never cared for the stuff so I never drank it.

When I was younger my Nanny would come and get me from school. (Please do not conjure up images from The Nanny Diaries. Ours were lovely and I adored them and my mother treated them well!) My nannies were always French and I always spoke French with them. In fact, the only time I spoke English was with my parents. By the time I was 10 I was allowed to go home from school by myself. I lived a mile away and I had a special bus-pass for students that I presented each time I boarded so that I did not have to pay. Often I walked home with my friends. Samantha, Catherine and Melissa all lived within 3 blocks of one another. Sometimes we went to Baskin Robbins for an ice cream cone that we would eat slowly on our walk home. (Baskin Robbins was located just across Madison Avenue from what would become Ralph Lauren’s flagship store.) My father’s bank was on the other side of the street. Sometimes I would stop by and say Hello. My father’s office seemed so magnificent and fancy. His was not a modern day walk in of today. I would never admit to him that my hello was really an excuse to get a dollar for my ice cream. But my father liked those rare visits and I always felt special as the boss’ daughter. I was treated as though I was child royalty when I stepped inside the bank. Samantha, Catherine and I always loved Pralines and Cream. I loved the sweet crunch of the pecans and the caramel swirl of the vanilla ice cream. I ate my ice cream slowly, savoring each and every wonderful bite!

As much as I wanted to go outside to play when I got home I had to either do homework, go to ballet or take Piano lessons around the corner at Diller-Quaile. Sometimes I had activities after school. I suppose you could say I was over-programmed. We just saw it as busy! Even though I worked hard at that school, so much so that my parents decided to pull me after the Fourth Grade, I loved it there and had many friends and many fond memories.

 The Hewitt School
45 East 75th Street

I was happy enough, however, to enter a generic Private all girls school just blocks away from my former school. I already knew a great many girls and they were all lovely and nice. I did, however, miss the boys and the girls at my new school were so much more realistic and so much cattier. Perhaps it was the age. We were all coming of age and growing up. So hard for anyone, add to it the competitiveness of an elite private school. Suddenly dress and designers were important. Labels became all important. Private School girls of the 1980s were indeed the Original Gossip Girls. We were smart, catty, too grown up, too intellectual and many of us (present company excluded) too rich.

We lived by The Preppy Handbook by day and morphed into Brooke Shields Wannabees by night. We wanted our Calvins (and Sergio Valentes and Sassons) and nothing to come between us and them! The days of disco were in full glory. Parties were held at Studio 54 and children had no curfews. I did but many of my friends didn’t and it was awfully difficult. We all donned Baird Jones invitations for all sorts of parties at the famed disco. (Baird Jones would eventually go on to create Jones curate artwork at the famed Webster Hall dance club on E. 11th St.) Studio 54 was in her glory during those years. It was the 80s and this was the place to be. I saw things that many my age, in other parts of the country, would not see until they were much older, if they ever did at all. I was really unaffected by the whole scene. I took in the sights and the sounds and the smells but I always had to be home by 11:00, which was when the parties really started. (Unless I was spending the night with a friend.) It’s a good thing I had a good head on my shoulders because many of my friends did not. I cannot imagine letting my teenager party at the infamous disco, and in the emergent years of AIDS and no cell phones! The parties were fun, but as much fun as they were I always wondered what it was like to be a “normal” teenager in the suburbs who went to high school football games and parties in people’s basements. Life in New York City was so very different.

Later I would go to Dorian’s Red Hand Bar on the Upper East Side, not terribly far from my home. This was around the time that Robert Chambers killed Jennifer Levin and what would soon be known around the world as The Preppy Murder. Jennifer was my age. While I would never in my right mind agree to go off to Central Park with anyone to have sex, her untimely death hit close to home. We were all affected.

Photo courtesy Dorrian's Red Hand Bar

I was never afraid of the city. In fact I felt safer in New York than anywhere else. With all the people milling about during all hours of the day, and doormen at every building there was no reason to ever feel unsafe. I am much more afraid and aware in the suburbs!

To be continued…

1136 Fifth Avenue

I was bored so I Googled my old address. I was quite taken by the flurry of emotions I felt. I was expecting to see a familiar building and green awning. I was not expecting to have the same building and awning evoke so many memories and emotions.


This is the building where I grew up. My formidable childhood and teen years took place here. I climbed those brass poles when I was little. I jump-roped, pogo-sticked and hopscotched in front of those doors. My parents left the building 20 years ago. They left the hustle and bustle of Manhattan for the relative peace and quiet of Newport, Rhode Island. I was in college and was shocked by their immediate and, what I thought to be a rash decision. How could they do this to me? They had foiled my grand master plan which was to move back home, get a job and not have to pay rent. Well, my grand master plan never came to fruition and so my life took a vastly different turn. This City Girl would end up living, most likely for the rest of her life, in the country. Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid would end up moving in (until their separation).

And this girl would soon learn, however, that you can take the girl out of the city, but you cannot take the city out of the girl!

Most kids cannot wait for their 16th Birthdays. Drivers licenses and cars follow suit. But not for me. I was never going to learn how to drive. Whatever for? I had buses and taxis and my feet at my disposal. (Loathe the Subway and to this day can count on my fingers and toes how many times I've used the Subway system.) But driver's licenses and cars would have no part in my future. Or so I thought then!

I hung out in front of my building a lot. Like many kids play in front of their houses and meet up with neighbors on their street. I roller skated (anyone remember sneaker skates?!) and skateboarded up and down Fifth Avenue. I lived in an area referred to as Museum Mile. Many of Manhattans most famous museums were located within that one mile. I loved to skateboard to the Guggenheim which was less than a half mile away. The Good Humor Man was always parked on the corner standing proudly in his white uniform, next to his white truck. I had two favorites. Both were chocolate.One was the chocolate eclair and the other had an actual chocolate candy bar inside it. Sometimes we'd skate a few blocks further to The Metropolitan Museum of Art where the man selling Italian ices had his cart. He sold lemon, cherry and chocolate. There might have been a blue one as well. I most often got chocolate. Lemon was my second choice. I never much cared for the cherry. Sometimes my friends and I would just hang out on the steps of the "Met" and people watch. 

The Stanhope Hotel was just across on the other side of Fifth. My grandparents always stayed there when they crossed the pond to come and visit us. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis lived directly across the street from the hotel and the museum and it was not at all unusual to see her or walk by her. Other celebrities I saw in my "hood" were Dustin Hoffman, Bill Murray, Ralph Lauren and Robert Redford. Movies were also frequently shot in this area. Kramer vs. Kramer was filmed on location in a restaurant just up the block from the met (on Madison Avenue) and at the school, PS8 located on the other side of Madison. Trading Places was shot a block away from where I lived. 

My neighborhood was always hustling and bustling and there was no better place to watch people than the steps of the Met. In the summertime, on the weekends Central Park is closed to all vehicular traffic. The streets are filled with bicycles, rollerblades, skateboards and runners. The road behind the Met was a great place to skate board. There's a large open grassy area behind the museum and on any warm weekend day it's filled with people reading, relaxing, picnicking and sunbathing. This was all my back yard and I was indeed the luckiest child in the world. There were also two wonderful playgrounds within that half mile that we could go to by ourselves once we got a bit older, 10?

Sometimes I just hung out in front of our buildings. I had a dozen friends that lived within a couple of blocks. My two very best friends lived right across the street at 1125 Fifth Avenue. They were sisters just 13 months apart in age. I was smack dab in the middle and did everything with them. Robert Redford lived in their building with his wife and children. His children were older than I. One day I was outside chatting with one of the doormen waiting for my friend Catherine to come downstairs. A really good looking, strawberry blond with tousled hair exited the building. He had his skateboard under his arm. I was holding on to the awning pole with both feet on my board. He taught me how to do a 360 on my board. He was nice. And handsome. And I had no idea who he was until he walked away and the doorman told me!

Robert Redford was as good looking in person. There is no way I can ever compare him to the other blond, younger actor, that resembles him slightly. Robert would never give up someone as classy and elegant as Gwynneth (who while younger went to the same school as Redford's daughter) for someone like Jennifer and  certainly would never end up with anyone like Angelina. Robert Redford was preppy. Old school. I remember this because I remember seeing him (as he came out of his limo -- or went into his limo) in lovely colored Shetland (cashmere?) sweaters and dark sunglasses. Always dark sunglasses. I knew preppy. The Preppy Handbook was my life. My music school was mentioned. As was my dance school. As was my school. As were many other pl aces I frequented. I had my blucher moccasins (LL Bean), penny loafers and my polos. (Ralph Lauren was one of  my father's clients for many, many years and he had drawers and drawers filled with Polo shirts -- in every color under the sun. Many still in their plastic packaging. His drawers became my drawers. My collars were always up. Mr. Lauren lived just a couple of blocks away. I didn't see him often at all.

We had lemonade stands in front of our building. I remember we always made a lot of money. The doormen liked to hang out with us as well. Dressed in their dark coats with big gold buttons, Chauffeur-like caps and white gloves, they stood tall and ready to open a door, or help a resident at any moment, but they liked the distraction we offered them. We had two doormen and two elevator men, if my memory serves me correctly. 

Our building had the old fashioned kind of elevators. There were no numbers to push, just a brass gate (not even a door!) to close and a lever that went to the right or left, depending on whether you wanted the elevator to go up or down. Some of the elevator men were nice and would let you drive the elevator to your floor! During the elevator strikes the building's residents would have to take turns driving the elevators. I used to love it when one of my parents signed up and I would happily join them

Our elevator men were either Hispanic or Irish. Russel was a loud, white haired Irish man. I always found him obnoxious. I hated when he worked in the mornings on the weekends. You could hear his voice in the courtyard by the basement and he always woke me up. There were Jesse and Jose and they were nice enough. And then there was another nice older (50s) doorman named Ronald. He too was Irish. And he loved to have the children play outside his building. He would play games with us (as much as he was able to) and one day my friend Zoe and I were playing with him when he had to go and take someone upstairs.

It took forever for him to come down. When he did the ambulance had been called. He had slumped down to the elevator floor and had a heart attack. He later died. For the longest time I wondered if I had somehow contributed to his death. I was very saddened by his loss.

My children like to drive by the old house. Sometimes we do on our way to school. Now I understand the appeal. It's fun to go back and revisit those special moments.


Don't forget to enter my cheese basket giveaway below!

The Last Supper...

Central Park will be a little darker. The mood will be a little more somber. Especially after tonight, New Year's Eve when the famed Tavern on the Green will serve it's last supper and close its doors and turn off its lights. Forever. A piece of my childhood will be gone. Forever.

Just three years ago the restaurant was serving more than 700,000 meals annually, bringing in more than $38 million in revenue. The restaurant (and really so much more) which sits at the edge of Central Park on the West Side, animated by twinkling lights and fake topiary animals, is preparing for New Year's Eve, when it will serve its last meal.

But the meals served was not enough, nor were the millions it earned. The restaurant could not keep the landmark restaurant out of bankruptcy. The restaurant is $8 million debt and in order to pay it off Tavern on the Green will auction off its Baccarat and Waterford chandeliers, Tiffany stained glass, a mural depicting Central Park as well as numerous opulent (gaudy even?) decor that has bewitched visitors for decades.

The restaurant's name itself is even up for grabs. It is said that another restauranteur will be taking over the 27,000 square feet of space currently owned by the city. If the name is auctioned off will the new eatery be able to reopen as Tavern on the Green?

Tavern on The Green first opened its doors in 1934 during the Great Depression. Once a sheepfold for sheep grazing Sheep Meadow, former NY Commissioner of Parks Robert Moses renovated the park and added the restaurant. It has attracted diners from around the world since. It is said that the ever elegant Grace Kelly dined there regularly. The restaurant appeared in numerous films including Edward Scissorhands, Wall Street, and Ghostbusters.

The Restaurant was owned by Walter LeRoy who also owned the famed Russian Tea Room, also in Manhattan. After his passing in 2001 The Russian Tea Room closed down. His daughter, inexperienced, was unable to keep the restaurant in operations. Her inexperience, it seems, has also led to the demise of yet another New York Landmark.

Would you like to own a little piece of history? A little piece of Americana? The following items will all be sold (and many many more) at auction.

These amazing chandeliers are all for sale. I do think my dining room ceiling to be a bit too low... perhaps one would fit in our front entryway!

Yes! Every house should have a brass elk!

The famed Tiffany lamps will all find new homes...

as will this faux topiary elephant! Perfect for any Republican who has a sense of humor,
loves whimsy and has a black thumb!

The Tiffany mural is a bit too much for my personality,

but one can never have too many white wrought iron chairs on their veranda!

Should you find the items at auction more than your purse strings will allow, perhaps you can still get seating for their Last Supper...



And should you be privvy to the First Seating in the Crystal Room, this will be your menu









Otherwise, all else will dine on









Now, if I may say so, 8.888% sales tax and 20% gratuity aside, a meal, a memory and a piece of history for that price isn't so hard to swallow!

Not Norman Rockwell's Christmas Day in The City

I had the day all planned out. Beautiful, idyllic, one that would go down in the memory book as perfect for forever!

I packed sandwiches in the morning that the kids (and parents!) could eat in the car en route to the city. I made baloney as a treat. The stuff is not allowed but the kids and their father do adore it. I used a fresh-from-the-bakery Italian semolina bread coated with a little bit of mayonnaise (light, Hellman's only!) and a good slathering of Dijon mustard followed by some crispy Romaine piled high and topped off with a couple of slices of baloney. I also packed clementines for dessert. Napkins and some Crystal Light lemonade that I poured into sports bottles for kids. (We had run out of water bottles!) I also packed some cheese and crackers and more fruit for the ride home unless we were to grab dinner someplace in the city. I had books for Alexander, a movie (Elf) to watch in the car, and some magazines for myself. I also had my small digital camera (better for the city and smaller) that had been charging all morning. Kids outfits had been chosen as had mine. I wore white in the city. White! How silly is that? I wore my full length off white down Calvin Klein coat with a black wool Banana Republic turtleneck sweater, off white stretch velveteen pants and In dirty slushy city snow! Because I had not brought my boots to the cobbler, opting instead to temporarily fix them up with Sharpie and Vaseline, I was able to wear them too. Well, in the city where everyone wears black (maybe a little brown or grey) white was a good thing. I was easily spottable! And OMG was it crowded. Even for me. It was a bit unbearable, really.

Our drive in was lovely and uneventful. My wise husband managed to find us a garage over on 33rd street (just 2 blocks away from Madison Square Garden -- to which New Yorkers simply call The Garden) for just $30 for 6 or more hours including the oversize fee, including the luxury vehicle fee. He's good like that!

We got to the theater, got our seats and even managed to find rest rooms with no lines! The show commenced and Alexander was riveted! He quickly climbed upon my lap, where he stayed for nearly two hours, after a very tall woman arrived after the performance had started and sat directly in front of him. He was mesmerized by it all! The music, the dance, the acrobatics... all of it! Wintuk was a fun performance but quite different from other Cirque performances... (In case you have certain expectations -- they may not be met with Wintuk. Go with children and an open mind and it will be a very pleasant experience!)

From 33rd street and 6th Avenue we headed uptown to the flagship Toys R Us store. We passed by the magical windows in Macy's of Herald Square and kept plodding uptown. Alexander was getting tired. We had no stroller. (Daddy didn't want to be bothered.) But there was so much to see and look at that this kept his mind and eyes occupied. Finally we squeeze through the doors like a ton of salmon spawning up river and burst through the doors (Ugh) and there she was, the huge Toys R Us Ferris wheel. We got on line and bought tickets, then got on another line to ride it. At this point my battery died. The battery that had charge all morning had gone kaput. I know I hadn't taken that many pictures. (Later I found out that I had taken just 40!)

I was totally and terribly disappointed that my camera had died. We hadn't gotten on to the ferris wheel, seen the tree, the stars at Saks or their windows! Quelle Horreur! I think this was the point I started to get cranky. The crowd was not helping. But eventually we got on our ride. We got a My Little Pony car and Christopher was horrified! So much so he wouldn't let me take his picture! I was able to squeeze out about 10 more (blurry) pictures sans flash! Despite the fact this little ride was only 4 stories high I didn't like it!

After the ride we hit the Candy Land section of the store and bought a few pieces of candy for like $75. Seriously, ugh... Then we walked through the store but it was way too crowded to actually stop and look at all the wonderful items on display. The Lego section is rivaled only by Lego World in Disney. The Thomas the train section is the best I have ever seen. We'll bring the kids back. But not at Christmastime! We got to shake Spidey's hand as we walked out of the store and had our picture taken with him. But then the line to see the pictures was too long. And I am sure that a wallet sized one would have broken the bank. So off we went to see the tree.

We headeded away from Broadway and over the Fifth Avenue. We were blocks away and Alexander wanted to get a cab. He was rightfully exhausted. But we were just blocks away. I could see the large sign for Radio City Music Hall screaming at us in bright red. But Daddy was sure it was more uptown. For some reason he didn't believe me. Nevermind that I know midtown like the veins in my own hands. Alexander trudged along. Such a trooper, really. And then just two blocks later I could see the top of Rockefeller Center. This is where my husband believes me. Great. There was no getting a cab, anyhow. Finding a cab in New York City in midtown during the holidays is like trying to find a piece of candy on the set of The Biggest Loser, now really!

We got to the tree which was smaller than past trees, but no less magnificent. We did see the wonderful light show across the way but it was shorter than in past years. Much shorter. But it could just be me. I was a bit disappointed by this. But Alexander was tired and thisclose to a massive meltdown. And Christopher was hungry. Daddy suggested grabbing dinner at the restaurant by rinks down below. We could eat, relax and watch the skaters. But I was not that hungry and I knew that the wait at the restaurant would ruin the whole day that a Major Meltdown loomed in our immediate future. I knew we needed to get to the car, and stat!

We headed back downtown. On foot. We completely forgot to check out the wonderful windows at Saks and I was and am deeply disappointed and saddened by this. I really expected Alexander to collapse in front of me. Nary a cab to be seen. Christopher was hungry. Starving. Rebecca was whining. Complaining about this that and the other as she is so apt to do these days. And the bickering between older two siblings really took off. Just get Christopher a hot dog, for crying out loud! Street meat to eat on the feet en route to the car. But Daddy had a different idea. He walked in to a Sbarro's pizza. (Ew!) And after Rebecca, Alexander and I protest we marched immediately back outside. Just down the street he stopped into this place and while it was not dirty, anything but I was leary... the boys got soda? Soda?!! That's not food. It's liquid sugar. Great, I thought to myself, now Alexander is going to have to pee in the middle of the Bronx with no where to stop. Daddy was getting annoyed with me. I was getting annoyed with the whining girl and the fact we had no stroller. I would have loved nothing more than to immediately fill Christopher's skinny and hollow tummy and get the little one off his feet. And while Christopher was famished he did very little complaining and kept plodding along. My boys are troopers!

Finally we spotted a cab! Alexander pered up again. He has wanted nothing more than to hop in a cab! A yellow New York Taxi cab! Daddy hopped in front and the kids and I sat in the back which was roomier and comfier than I expected it to be. Alexander was riveted by the touch screen television set in front of me. Alexander kept pushing the map buttons. Christopher wanted the ESPN buttons. More bickering ensued. Daddy reached behind him and pretended to close the thick plastic partition that separated us from the driver. (How I would love one of those in my car!) The bickering and whining was really getting to me.

Finally we're at the garage and got out to see our SUV at the top waiting for us already. (Tipping gets you far in the city!) I spotted a Subways across the street and suggested we get something for Christopher to eat in the car. And then it happened. A meltdown like no other. A very well behaved and very tired 4 year old simply could take it no more. "I just want to go home", he sobs. "I just want to get out of the city. Now!" More sobs. Poor little guy was inconsolable. He left with his father to get the car as I stayed to pay for the sandwiches.

Alexander did not immediately fall asleep as I expected him to do. He comfortably (with Sunkist orange soda in tow) enjoyed the sights of the city all around him as we inched our way closer to home. Finally sweet snores escape from his seat and we were well on the way home.

As we exit the theater there is the most magnificent crescent shaped moon overhead. I have to take a picture!

The kids thoroughly enjoy Macy's windows!

Ummm, how do I explain this play to my daughter?!

Here is where my camera dies and I try to shoot without using the flash to capture a few more images... Amazing the brilliance of Broadway!

The view from the top of the ferris wheel, sans flash

More blurry ferris wheel shots...

Christopher is hiding from me... won't be caught dead photographed in a My Little Pony car!

enough light on the set of The Today Show....

and a blurry picture of the tree... the very last image my camera manages to capture...

As a photographer I am still so saddened by this.

NB -- Thank you for your kind comments. I am editing this post to say that while the day in the city was not all I had expected, and despite the crowds, cold temperatures, dead camera battery, tired children we still did have a lovely time. Maybe not picture perfect, but fun none the less and I'm not disappointed and I'm happy we went!

Christmas in New York

Every year we make the pilgrimage (all 1 hour and a half of it!) to the city to see all of the wonderful Christmas sights. Really, There is No Place Like Home, or New York City (my birthplace and home of my youth) during the holidays. New York is special and wonderful any time of year, but come December when the weather cools and the magnificent lights and sounds and smells permeate the chilly air something magical happens! It's as though there is fairy dust in Manhattan. How I love New York! How I love new York in December!

The excitement starts as we drive over the Triboro Bridge and see the magnificent and majestic skyscrapers proudly wearing their robes of lights in the distance. The hustle and bustle renews my energy... gets my blood circulating. I've said it before and I will say it again and again and again. You can take the girl out of the city, but you cannot take the city out of the girl!

My kids are not used to the madness of Manhattan. It's too busy and too fast paced and too big and too scary. But I love it! I love it! I love it! I like this fear as they keep tight grips on our hands!

My husband has the week off and we decided that today would be a great day to venture in. Public schools are still in session and most of the working world is at work. We won't have too much traffic to battle with as we head over to the West Side and the theater at Madison Square Garden.

At first we were going to go in for a couple of hours to see the tree which hails from our home town this year! The tree which was on its last leg and due to be cut down anyhow. We must see the tree that hails, practically from our back yard!

But yesterday as the television was on I saw an ad for Wintuk, the Cirque de Soleil winter performance about a little boy and his quest for snow. The ad mentioned that with two paying adults kids could go free! So I mentioned this to the hubs and we decided to see if getting tickets was feasible. Next thing I know I am confirming 5 tickets to see the 2:30 matinee performance at the WaMu theater at the Garden! (For those of you who live in the metro NY area click on the link if you are interested. This is a great deal to be had! Tickets are still available and the show runs through the 3rd of January!)

After the show we will head over to Broadway as the children want to head over to the Toys R Us Flagship store which blows any other Toys R Us, any other toy store for that matter (including FAO) out of the water. Alexander wants to ride the ferris wheel inside the store that is made up of oversized Little Tykes ride on toys!

From there we will walk over (or cab it, depending on taxi availability and weather and exhaustion) over to Fifth Avenue. We'll see the tree at Rockefeller Center as well as the magnificent Light Show at Saks Fifth Avenue. (Click on the link to sample the wonderful display of lights and sounds to Carol of the Bells which is even more magnificent in person!) Then we'll cross the street and check out Sak's Magnificent windows all dressed up for the holidays. I'll be sure to take pictures!

Perhaps we'll stroll past my favorite wintertime building, the Cartier Building all dressed up in her red bow!

We leave in a few hours and I can hardly wait! I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!



Fabulously Wicked! Times Square is the New Central Park!

That old saying is true. You can take a girl out of the city but you cannot take the city out of the girl. While I love my house and home in suburbia -- I love that I live in an area where we have more cows than people, where farming is the predominant industry... I love that my kids can roam around the 'hood safely... I love the country, I really do, but I heart NY!

In the city my heart beats a little faster... In the city I really come alive! Rebecca notsomuch. She's intimidated by the speed, largesse, vastness and the crowds. I hold her hand a little tighter. I like that. She doesn't often hold my hand these days. Perhaps we should venture in to the city more often...

We drove in via the Upper West Side and while I love the youthful and artistic feel that the West Side has to offer, I'm an East Side girl myself... an Uptown Girl!

The weather couldn't have been more splendid yesterday and I could have walked around for hours. But Rebecca wasn't up to it. She wasn't herself. I blamed her recent allergy and asthma flare-up and we slowed our pace down some and headed directly to the theater... stopping along the way to take a few pictures here and there...

I have seen a great many Broadway shows in my day and I have to tell you that Wicked may just top my list! It was creative, imaginative, fun and incredibly funny... It was smart and witty and clever... It was beautiful and breathtaking. And if you have any plans to visit The (Great) Big Apple you should absolutely get tickets to see this Emerald Green Gem!

Mayor Bloomberg recently shut down a four block radius on Broadway. Instead of a steady traffic of cars there was a steady traffic of beach chairs! Has Times Square become the New Central Park? I paused and soaked the hilarity of the scene!

Rebecca and I posed for a picture... I can tell she's not feeling well but am glad that she'll pose with me.

Thought this was cute... my Munchkin on her way to Munchkinland!

Love this!

How did they know my other car was a broom?!?!

Objects in Mirror are Closer than they Appear...

In front of Gallagher's Steak House... a New York Institution... Can you spot me in this photo?!

Random photo of Sanitation Department!
Who knew sanitation was so pretty!

Under the Big GW!

I will never tire of shooting ordinary New York...

It's the ordinariness of the City that makes her so extraordinary!

The theater was freezing and by the end of the performance my poor daughter was burning up with fever... we returned to the car in lieu of lingering in the city. (She even declined an offer to pop in to m&m world!) The City will be here for us forever... she would wait for my little girl to get well.