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.

Slow + Simple :: The colors of the sun

How often do you take note of the "small stuff?" We are so busy rushing through our lives, trying to get to point B from point A, trying to make it to this meeting and that meeting... chasing the kids, pulling the kids, driving the kids, entertaining the kids, working, meeting deadlines, and trying to get done all that needs to get done by day's end that often we're speeding by with such speed and haste that we don't have a moment to look at the simple beauty around us.

I hate to run. I am not a runner. Sometimes I force myself  to run sprints when I'm out for my long morning walks. I feel as though I should - that somehow it's better for me. But I don't enjoy it and I'm so focused on getting to where I need to get that I don't pay attention to much else.

I live in a wonderful, beautiful, peaceful and tranquil part of the country. I am in a small, almost sleepy, coastal Connecticut town just outside of New York City. You might think that such a place doesn't exist. But it does and it's what drew me to this particular area. When I am able - when I have the time and when the weather cooperates - I get out of the gym and onto the street. I have a coastal route that takes me by the harbor and the beach. I can go all 7 miles, or if I haven't the time I can shorten it to 5 or even 2 miles. No matter how many times I travel these paths I notice something different. A new house, a new flower, a small ladybug grazing upon a large delicious leaf...

Last week as we were driving home from Newport along the terribly unromantic I-95, cluttered with many too many trucks, billboards, telephone poles, and the concrete malls and buildings that make up for most of the scenery, I noticed the most magnificent orange sun setting in the distance. I had to pay attention to the road and as much as I wanted to, I could not focus on the sun. My 13 year old son took my camera that was already fitted with my zoom lens and started clicking away.

The next day I came across his images while I was downloading them onto my laptop. I cropped them ever so slightly to remove a building, some telephone poles and wires and saw the incredible detail, bright and fiery colors and incredible textures. I couldn't possibly slow down, I couldn't possibly stop and focus on the incredible sight myself but I had the photograph. The photograph that reminded me just how important it is for us all to slow down and take notice - It's something I make a point of doing regularly. I hope you do too.

You're never fully dressed without a smile!

I'm often asked to provide a photograph of myself whenever I have something published. But I'm usually behind the camera and rarely in front of it, and when I am, I'm having fun or being silly, and often there's a glass of something in my hand. These pictures are wonderful candids and I do love them, but sometimes life calls for something a little more serious - a little more, well, sophisticated.

It was time. It is time. And so, here I am... all grown up. It's about time, isn't it?

I asked my dear friend and talented photographer, Marcy Feld of Marcy Feld Photography if she would take some head shots for me. We met in Central Park on a beautiful, warm Friday afternoon. It was our first taste of Spring. Dogs were being walked, children were running around and grown-ups were strolling around enjoying the warmth and the beauty of the oasis within the bustling city.

I just sat there and Marcy worked her magic. The pictures were all lovely. Some we both liked better than others and we agreed as to which came out best. There may or may not have been some Photoshopping done around my eyes. I think Marcy did a wonderful job of capturing the essence of "me," didn't she?

And now I've got something all ready for a book jacket ;)

We had a little bit of fun too...

Life's too short to take yourself to seriously!

Have a wonderful weekend!

A November walk to remember...

Armed with nothing more than my iPhone I set out on a 3 mile walk... slowly, steadily easing my way back into exercise after throwing my back out 2 weeks ago. I started out at a significant pace but on my way home I knew I had to capture the spectacular beauty all around. It was about 4:00 in the afternoon and it was slightly overcast with the sun low on the horizon. At times the sky was bright and and the sun's rays seemed to make the flaming leaves even brighter, and there were moments when sky seemed almost white. I played around with the new iOS settings and captured some black and white shots as well. It's amazing how different an object appears when shot in color as well as in black and white - how the composition takes on an altogether different meaning. I love to shoot this time of year - the month starts out vibrantly with bursts of intense color and ends with almost no color whatsoever. I love to watch the progression of it all. 

My town has started painting all of its fire hydrants. Aren't they positively wonderful?!

Have a wonderful Sunday!


*all images property of Jessica Gordon Ryan and The Entertaining House

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!



Brimfield, Part Two: When there's never too much of a good thing!

I hadn't intended on going back. I was going to spend 1 day at Brimfield. But I couldn't keep away... I wanted to reconnect with this wonderful, talented group of designers, stylists, decorators and friends... I wanted to go back and look through all the treasures (and the good bit of trash too, to be truthful!) and I wanted to go back without a schedule, without an agenda... armed with just a camera. And that's what I accomplished... I plodded through the fields at times alone and I plodded through the fields at times with friends... looking, laughing, marveling, wondering... I see the world around me very different when I look through my camera. I'm not looking at the overall picture, I'm looking at the details... the threads of our lives. When I go to the country, I won't shoot the entire farm - cattle, barn, horizon - I'll focus on the cow's face, a part of a bale of hay... there's so much beauty within that we completely miss...

I hope you enjoy my stroll through the Brimfield fields...

As you can see, the entire Brimfield experience is one for all the senses... it's visual, it's textural and, it's aromatic and flavorful!

I hope you all have a lovely weekend, and a fantastic Mother's Day!

I'm headed into the city (New York) today... with my camera, of course!



What's your passion?

All images above are the property of The Entertaining House
and may not be used or copied without permission

What keeps you sane? What keeps you ticking and strong when times are tough? What is the one thing you can turn to to help melt your troubles away? None of us are immune to the stresses of day to day living. Could be family, friends, work, or a health-related issue... we all go through rough patches. And even when we are not we still have tough days where we just want to take a few minutes and forget about our worries. 

I have several methods of escape. I love a good soak in the tub, but sometimes I need to be physical. Sometimes I need to get out there and burn off some steam. This feeling is vastly different than the quiet time I require after a long and hectic day when I need to take a time out and relax.

I'm passionate about cooking, writing and photography and exercise.

When it comes to nervous energy I find that a good pair of running shoes and an iPod loaded up with great songs is exactly what I need. I can run as quickly or as slowly as I want. I can walk. But I prefer to move quickly as it kicks up the breezes that brush past my cheeks and blow through my hair. I love the solitude and serenity and tranquility of being by myself. I prefer to walk alone. It's not that I am anti-social but this is not a team sport. This is me needing to care for my body and my soul. My body reacts to the music and the tempo that sounds in my ears seems to adjust its pace accordingly. I sing along (and hope no one can hear me) and yet I'm thinking about a million other things. This is my time to think of answers, solutions to issues that have been plaguing me. And sometimes I think of nothing at all. How I love this. I love to have nothing to think about and to let my mind roam near and far and. I love to think of nothing but the blue sky ahead and the flowers on the paths, and the evergreens that line the street and provide shade from the sultry, steamy weather. I love to notice the beautiful bark on the tree to my left. I tell myself I will return to this spot but the next time with my camera. 

I love to see the chipmunks scurry and scamper ahead and I love to watch the birds in all their colorful wonder fly on by. I'm lucky to be here, in my forest by the sea. Lucky indeed. I'm fortunate in that I have always been a positive person. My cup is always half full. I always stop to smell the roses. And sometimes I photograph them. I can never walk anywhere without appreciating the beauty all around me. I just don't understand how some people can. Each day I see something new, even if I'm on the same road I've traveled on over and over again. And each day I appreciate all that I do have. And even if life seems particularly difficult that day I remind myself just how fortunate I am.

I love the feel of my feet hitting the pavement as I run and how my heartbeat quickens and it seems the faster I go the the better I feel. Though I still find myself coming to a grounding stop. The shoulder that had surgery three months ago is getting stronger each and every day, but still it's there to remind me to slow down. And the jarring motion of the feet on pavement causes my shoulder to jar in a most peculiar way. So I slow to a walk and catch my breath ... healing is a process and takes time... body and soul. I finish up by walking home. I feel energized and not at all defeated. I am growing stronger, body and soul. Sooner or later my shoulder will be stronger and I will be stronger and I'll run the distance. I don't really care if it takes a while as I'm quite enjoying the journey along the way. As I turn the the corner and head off the street and on to my cul-de-sac I listen to the next song on the iPod... John Mayer's Say What You Need to Say comes next. I croon along and listen as the lyrics seem to ring so very true. It's funny how that is, how every song seems to mimic some part of our lives. I never really paid attention to this until the day I learned that my friend Mandy died in a fiery plane crash on Martha's Vineyard. That afternoon James Taylor's Fire and Rain came on the the radio. As the song ends I turn onto our driveway and start the steep climb. My body feels good so does my soul.

I also need an outlet for this creativity.Without it I feel stifled and caged. I need to be creating and while I would love nothing more than to be able to write and photograph every day, I know this cannot be the case as both are time consuming and oftentimes alienating activities. But when I do write or take a picture that has perfectly captured an image or a moment in time, there is no better feeling! This is one of the reasons I have this blog. It's a means of being able to express myself exactly as I want to. I can write and post whatever it is that comes to my mind... Now, if only I could blog and run at the same time!

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.