Tag Archives: favorites

Where to stay in NYC?

Over the years I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels in New York City. Most of them have been perfectly fine, especially since I’ve only required accommodations for a single night or maybe two. There have been a couple that I won’t book again – The Empire across from Lincoln Center comes immediately to mind. That room was so damn small that it was impossible to navigate, even though there were only two Lilly boys at the time we stayed there and they were significantly smaller than they are now. Pass.

My favorite hotels, the ones I return to repeatedly, are my picks because of a combination of amenities, space and location. Value for the price, basically. The Millennium Hilton on Church Street is my absolute favorite place to stay because it checks every box for me – I love that area of the city for an evening run, on weekends it’s possible to actually find on street parking, and the shopping and eating options are decent. Oh – and there’s an indoor pool, something rarely seen in my experience in NYC.

While I tend to stay at Hilton properties (including Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Doubletree) because of rewards programs related to my credit card, there are times when I go off brand and try someplace different. TravelZoo sends a weekly email with some good deals and I’ve discovered some terrific, new-to-me hotels by taking advantage of these opportunities when the price is right.

The hallway and the closet which was larger than many NYC kitchens I’ve been in.

Last weekend my son and were in the city to celebrate his birthday. I had a reservation at a Hilton, but canceled when I received an email offering a night’s stay at the St. Giles Tuscany on E. 39th. A few years back I spent a night at a different St. Giles property, now closed, and found it to be comfortable, chic and well located, especially when Amtrak was using Grand Central as their NYC station. The deal being offered through TravelZoo was unbeatable at $140 total. I booked it.

We arrived too early to get into our room prior to our matinee at Lincoln Center, but we were welcomed and invited to enjoy the complimentary hot beverages in the lovely lobby while our bags were checked. We returned hours later, after dinner and a walk around Bryant Park, to finally see our room and I was blown away.

The room was easily the largest NYC hotel room I’ve ever been in. There was a hallway with the bathroom to one side and a gigantic walk in closet on the other. The bedroom had two queen beds with enough room remaining to move around without bumping into one another. It was just enormous! The bathroom was a dream with gorgeous tile, a floating vanity and a tub that made me regret having had recent surgery which prevented me from indulging in a deep, sudsy soak.

#bathroomgoals

Generally speaking, I don’t spend a tremendous amount of time in any hotel room, much preferring to be outdoors or doing fun things. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate having somewhere comfortable and well laid out to return to after a full day of activity. Maybe you’re the same? What are your favorite places to stay in NYC?

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Filed under birthdays, family, favorites, NYC, Recommendations, travel

Entering Palm Springs…

When I travel my preferred method of transportation, when possible, is walking. It’s the best way to capture images of sites and to feel a connection to the land, so to speak.

On my recent trip to the desert I logged miles on my feet, crisscrossing my way around the city of Palm Springs utterly charmed by the beauty, both natural and manmade. Here are some of my favorite doors and gates…

Can’t wait for my next opportunity to visit this special place in the high desert.

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Filed under beauty, California, Christmas, favorites, holidays, Observations, travel, vacation, winter

Holiday gifts, 2019

Christmas Eve dinner with all my favorite guys at our favorite Chinese place.

Learning the blue jay song on a walk with Jeter at Albany Muni. Now I can identify two bird calls!
A new kitchen faucet and dish draining rack, because I’m a 50 something homeowner.
The gift of safe travel via train and plane.
Three days in the desert with someone who’s always willing to go places with me.
A couple of hours soaking in mineral waters heated by the earth staring at mountains capped with snow.
Time spent with the person most responsible for my ability to create a life filled with happiness.
Challenging myself with a hike that scared me a little.
A delicious cinnamon roll that I allowed myself to eat in its entirety. In tiny bites.
Joy found in the most basic moments in an extraordinary world.

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Filed under beauty, California, Christmas, Dinner, Eating, favorites, friends, Hiking, holidays, musings, Observations, relationships, travel, vacation

Next week, when I’m in California.

(I just like saying that. Wink.)

Christmas, the year and the decade will all end.

I’ll be traveling with a companion for the first time in a long time.

My Jewish mom will meet my Jewish boyfriend, to put it in its most simple terms.

We’ll spend two hours soaking in springs heated by the San Andreas fault, which just goes to show that sometimes even the least stable situation can bring maximum relaxation.

I’ll get to see and walk and hike and maybe run in some of my favorite mountains.

There will be a respite from the barrage of politics and news.

We will go to the nice Aldi’s and get avocados for guacamole.

There’s the the possibility of rain. And dancing. And maybe dancing in the rain.

Next week when I’m in California is going to be fun.

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Filed under beauty, California, Christmas, favorites, friends, holidays, musings, News, politics, travel, vacation, winter

So many pancakes, so little time

After not getting around to making a pot of sauce with meatballs and sausage a few weeks ago, I found myself with a container of ricotta cheese for which I needed to find a purpose. After a quick Epicurious search I came up with the perfect use – Ricotta Pancakes.

In my house, we’re big on pancakes. Since being shamed by a foodie friend for using Bisquik, I’ve been making mine from scratch and I actually have the recipe* committed to memory. It’s so easy it makes me regret all those years of paying for a packaged mix filled with all sorts of unpronounceable ingredients. I use the same basic recipe for waffles and play around by adding canned pumpkin and nutmeg or using buttermilk or almond extract to change things up because, like I said, we like pancakes and variety isn’t a bad thing when it comes to breakfast.

But, back to those ricotta pancakes.

The recipe I found was simple and used common ingredients. Separating the eggs and beating the whites into lovely peaks is the second hardest part, with the most challenging thing being finding the ability to stop after eating two. Or three. These pancakes are wonderfully light and airy with orange zest adding a delicious punch. I bet a dash of Grand Marnier would be an amazing addition.

This recipe, along with the NYT’s Dutch Baby recipe, is a keeper. Do you have a favorite pancake recipe I should try?

 

*1 1/4 c flour

2 T sugar

2 t baking powder

1 egg

milk to the consistency you like, more milk = thinner pancakes

dash of salt

maybe a t of vanilla or almond extract?

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Filed under Boys, breakfast, Cooking, Eating, family, favorites, Food, ideas, Recipes, Recommendations

Throwback thanksgiving

Pies from Debbie’s Kitchen, Albany NY

When I was a kid I had faux aunts and uncles. There were no true relatives (that I knew about) in the States, so my mother provided close friends who functioned on some level as family. It was a laudable attempt and there were some good people in our lives during those years, some of whom remain to this day.

One of these families, the Ls, had the most multi limbed family tree in the my world and I loved the holidays we shared with them over the years. Dinner usually included all of the following: the married couple, (about the same age as my mom), and their daughter, who was a toddler when we met, his son from his first marriage, joined by her two children from her first marriage. Also present, her first husband with his son from his second marriage. And the three of us.

It seemed like the most exciting, bizarre and totally normal holiday gathering ever. The traditions all blurred together, Jewish, Italian American, German, and the food was crazy – lasagna, bagels with lox, ham and fruit cake. Thinking about those days always makes me smile big.

Yesterday, for the first time in a few years, I had Thanksgiving dinner with friends. It was very low key and comfortable. We brought desserts and a savory vegetable casserole to join the bounty that was already present. While we didn’t play backgammon for boxes of Marlboro Reds, (as I might have decades ago with “my” extended family), we sipped far better wine than in those long ago days, with a mood which was comparably mellow.

My first attempt at curd – Cranberry Curd Tart from the NYT.

At the table was my UG* and his children. And his children’s mom and her partner, along with her partner’s parents and her brother and sister in law. Looking around the table and seeing the threads that tied us all together, I couldn’t help but smile at the familiarity of the situation.

We recreate the chaos with which we are most comfortable. (I use “chaos” here to suggest a familiar dynamic with lots of activity, not as an indication of lack of control.) There’s a vibe or pace that we try to replicate, whether it’s conscious or not, because that’s what we grew up knowing.

Sitting at the dining table with a bunch of people who, through the years, have chosen to share their lives with one another, defines the holidays for me, even more than turkey and cranberry sauce. The combination of common histories and yet-to-be-explored future activities is what I was raised on and yesterday was the first time I felt that familiar energy in a long time.

It was a good holiday.

How was yours?

*don’t ask me what it means, it’s a private joke term of endearment

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Filed under aging, Albany, Boys, Christmas, Dinner, drinking, Eating, family, Food, friends, girlhood, holidays, Local, love, marriage, musings, Observations, relationships, upstate New York, Wine

Last ride

Thursday afternoon Jeter and I took our last trip to Albany Muni in my Volvo. When we got there the odometer read 149,999 and it just seemed perfect. Truth be told, I was tempted to drive around the lot until the numbers rolled (figuratively) to 150,000 but it seemed too forced, and Jeter wouldn’t have tolerated it anyway with his need to be outdoors. Immediately.

Letting this car go has been unexpectedly difficult. I initially attempted to rid myself of it more than 18 months ago when I bought another car, but failed to finalize the trade-in deal. I wasn’t ready.

The car that I purchased at that time had everything I said I wanted in a car – Bluetooth, a huge glass roof, four-forms and a six speed manual transmission. The color was fine and the price was right and I bought it. I was ready, I thought, for something different, something new.

Since March of 2018 I’ve shuffled two cars, each with its own purpose. The Volvo became the dog car and was my go-to vehicle for Cape Cod. The Mini was my road-trip-south and general about town vehicle.

Maintaining, insuring and juggling two vehicles has begun to feel hyper indulgent. I needed to simplify my life and give someone else the chance to appreciate the car that I had always considered to be my princess vehicle.

The Volvo had come my way after I was rear ended in my previous Volvo wagon. There had been no injuries when the man totaled my car as I sat at a red light, fortunately for both of us. My incredible luck continued after the accident when, after complaining about my distaste for car shopping on Facebook, I was offered the chance to buy the wagon that I’ve owned ever since.

A 100,000+ miles later, I’m in a position to pass this great car on to someone new, coincidentally, a woman who responded to my post on Facebook. I think the car is as perfect for her as she is for the car.

Being emotional about a car is a new, and weird, thing for me. I think it may have something to do with my general unfamiliarity with possessing something for as many years as I’ve owned this car. I’m unaccustomed to it.

It’s easy to love something when there’s no expectation for it to love you back. It’s a car and, obviously, it can’t feel or express emotions, but this vehicle has responded to my affection and care with a steadiness and reliability that I can’t help but to romantically interpret as fondness.

I know I’ll miss this car, but I’ve come to accept that it’s time to pass it on to another family who needs it more than I do. I wish them many happy years together.

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Filed under aging, favorites, love, musings, road trips