Some Comedy For the New Year

31 12 2008

I have nothing much to say about this 2008 wrap-up, other than that it is certainly amusing!

Guest Post: A Girl’s Wish

26 12 2008

Holiday travel is always stressful, but well worth it when you arrive to hugs and the smiling faces of some of the cutest kids in the world. We’ve not done much but around the house, so I have little to report in terms of Colorado, but, in the vein of female bonding and passing the torch to a new generation of writers, I present some holiday cheer in the form of a guest blog. Without further ado, “A Girl’s Wish,” a story by Miss Olivia Jean Russo, age seven.

A Girl’s Wish

One day a  girl named Sarah wanted a webkinz Racon. She asked her mom. Her mom said no. So one night Sarah heard a sound on the roof. She climed up on the roof  and saw  Santa with  a webkinz Racon. She went up to Santa and was  so happy. She got to ride in his sleigh. Because she was so happy she got to go to the north pole and see the elves. The next day Sarah’s mom was  wondering where Sarah was. Sarah was watching tv with Mrs . Clause. They were watching  Elf. When Elf was over Sarah had to go home. When she was home she got to go Christmas shopping with her mom.

About the Author

Hi my name is Olivia Russo. I have two dogs. My favorite food is ice cream. I have five people in my family. My friends call me Liv. My mom sometimes calls me sassy pants when Iam bad. my favorite animal is a dog.I like to go to the pool with my family.We also like to go to Sweet Tomatos. We like to go camping at Horsetooth reservoir. I like to go on rides on the boat. Ilike to jet ski and snow ski. When I grow up I want to be an author and write all kinds of stories. I want to live in Hawaii because you get to swim jet ski and swim with the dolphins.

Written by Olivia Russo and typed (exactly as written) by Olivia Russo and Lauren Markel

Budding Young Writers, Lauren Markel (left) and Olivia Russo

Budding Young Writers, Lauren Markel (left) and Olivia Russo

Monday Pennies

23 12 2008

Given the current economic downturn, we could all use all the pennies we can collect. And so, a few that mean a lot to me recently:

  • Subway friendliness: Yesterday I got to the subway station and could hear my train coming in as I went through the turnstile. I raced down the stairs behind two other women, certain I would get to the bottom only to see the train rolling out. Before reaching the platform I heard a voice saying, “She’s right there,” and when I got down saw a girl sprawled between the doors and holding them open for me. If that isn’t neighborliness, I don’t know what is.
  • New York Magazine: Last week’s issue (which I only received this weekend due to glitch with the lovely US Postal Service (namely my old post office) lists “Reasons To Love New York 2008,” two of my favorites being that  “Obama is One of Us” and that “Every Once in a While There Is Dancing in the Streets.” Also amazing is the (well-stated) claim that you have to be part masochist to make it in New York, and perhaps most outstanding is the lengths one goes to to live here.
  • New Books: I’m reading two right now: Forever, which will ultimately be a story about New York, but I’m only a few chapters in and am currently fascinated by the depth of Irish history involved (and will soon be diving into more of that) and I’m a Stranger Here Myself, Bill Bryson in all his genius, hysterical, insightful, classic.
  • Snow: Much as I hate the cold, the stuff has a magical quality to it:
  • blog-bike

    Snow flowers?

  • Trees: I know I may have overdone the Christmas thing, but these trees had to be shared:


    Reminds me of the village my mom and I make under our tree every year...

Bryant Park

Bryant Park

Across the street from Bloomingdales

Across the street from Bloomingdales

Holidays offManhattan

21 12 2008

Ok, this may be cheating a little bit, but I’m going to do it anyway. In keeping with my holiday obsession of late, I spent some time on Friday writing about holiday festivities off the island of Manhattan for none other than, a travel guide for New York that promotes green living by writing about places to visit outside Manhattan that are reachable by public transportation.

I had so much fun researching and writing this that I may have gotten a little carried away, but since most of these are things I want to do and see, I had to share them a second time here. Check it out.

Christmas Market Round-up

19 12 2008

I recently checked in on my old friends at EuroCheapo and discovered that they too are in the holiday spirit. And they had several posts that reminded me of one of my favorite things about Christmas, especially in Europe: the holiday market. Alas that I can’t waltz among the glistening lights of Vienna’s gorgeous buildings (see the post, Ginobli is sad too).

Enter New York. Just like the garlands and shop windows, sundry Christmas markets crop up here, there, and everywhere. Sure, a lot of the vendors end up selling cheesy wares and some of them even overlap from one market to the other. But then again there is something to be said for the feel of the cold air (yes, I said it) as you walk through the festive booths with a cup of hot cider in hand. And every once in a while, you even find the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for someone, a gift which is ten times more unique than anything you could buy in an overcrowded store.

And so, to the Christmas Markets:

The Pond at Bryant Park: More than 100 artisans selling crafts, clothing, and specialty foods. Plus free ice skating. Plus Celsius, the cool Canadian Lounge where those of us who aren’t (ahem) very good at ice skating  can drink and watch.

Bryant Park, 6th Ave. at 42nd St.; 866-221-5157; Open daily from November 22 through December 28, 2008: Mon-Fri, 11am-8pm; Sat, 10am-9pm; Sun, 10am-6pm.

Grand Central Holiday Fair: From Christmas ornaments to Christmas books, and everything in between that’s not Christmas (bags, jewelry, ties…) the market in Vanderbilt Hall is packed with cool, unique gifts. A bonus: the setting’s pretty great as well (and not only because it’s warm. After a bit of holiday shopping head down into the main terminal where every half hour a light show takes you into winter wonderland.

Grand Central Terminal, Vanderbilt Hall, 42nd St. and Park Ave.; 212-340-2210; Open daily November 16 through December 29, 2008: Mon-Sat, 10am-8pm; Sun, 11am-7pm.

Holiday Market at Union Square: Leather goods, handmade toys, and warm wooly items along with countless others make these red and white booths both fun and festive. Go on a day when the Greenmarket‘s open and get all your shopping done at once.

Union Square Park at 14th St., 212-529-9262; Open daily November 22 through December 28, 2008: Mon-Fri, 11am-8pm; Sat, 10am-8pm; Sun, 11am-7pm. Open from 10am-4pm on Christmas Eve

Christmas Market at St. Bartholomew’s Church: It doesn’t get much more winter wonderland than this, what with the pretty market and the glow of trees from Park Avenue, and if that weren’t enough, the gift selection is great too: everything from antiques to winterwear to the usual holiday crafts all in one fantastical tribute to winter.

Park Ave. at 50th St., 212-809-5200; open daily November 19 through December 24, 2008: 8am-8pm

Gifted (at the Brooklyn Flea): Talk about unique gifts. Gifted is connected with the Brooklyn Flea, so you can browse fun vintage items and then head over to the holiday market, which features fantastic vendors like Jezebel Stationery, jewelry by Bonbon Oiseau, and more.

Brooklyn Masonic Temple, 317 Clermont Ave (at Lafayette Ave.), Fort Greene; Sundays, December 4, 14, and 21: 11am-6pm


Christmastime in the City

17 12 2008

I’m not shy about my disdain of winter. Generally I find it cold and miserable, especially when the wind picks up. And yet there is something that makes Christmas decorations all the more, uh, Christmasey, when the air has that bit of chill to it. And, I’ll admit it, walking home last night, with snowflakes flurrying about me and a thin blanket of that pretty white substance that we have to fabricate in California was a little touch of magic (topped only by the tiny, blinking, and ever-so-charming Christmas tree with which some nice neighbor graced my new lobby).

Now, New York, cold and snow and all, may be considered, if you will, the city of Christmas. We have Rockefeller Center (much as I cringe thinking about cutting down trees, I can’t deny that the fact that this one has its own website is pretty nifty, even niftier that it lists some green tips), for one, and then there are those little ladies with the long legs, who really know how to kick it up a notch for Christmas (sorry for the terrible pun).

But these Christmas classics are just the tip of the iceberg. And so, for the remainder of the week, I devote Around the World to Christmas festivities, in New York and elsewhere. Because the first snow of the season got me into the spirit.

Holiday Gifting

16 12 2008

Christmas is next week and this morning, as I walked through Union Square and watched vendors setting up the Christmas Market, I realized that I have yet to even think about holiday shopping. Yes, I am that girl. But, since most people I know procrastinate too (with the exception of my crazy sister who has had her shopping done and cards out since December 1), I guess I’m ahead of the game. At least I have this list of unique ideas to inspire other procrastinators like myself:

  • Green Christmas: Since I’m going to Colorado, where my family only recently (due to much pestering by yours truly) started recycling, I’m thinking green, and so is Sistemas Forestales Ecológicos, a company based in Mexico. For a mere $14 you can give the gift of ecology, in form of a Treesmas Tree. It’s the gift that keeps on giving: for 20 years the tree you adopt for a loved one will be cared for and protected from illegal logging. If that weren’t enough, once the tree is harvested, your recipient will receive a return on your investment (the value of the volume of their tree). Perhaps a long time for turn-around, but better than a bunch of stationery.
  • Deliciousness: If you have a foodie on your list, or even if you don’t, this is an amazing gift. Nudo is an olive grove in Tuscany that lets you adopt an olive tree. Your recipient gets an adoption certificate and tree information booklet (instant gratification), followed by a spring shipment of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and then a fall shipment of flavor-infused oil. Warning: the stuff is too good to cook with—bread-dipping only. You can even choose the grove from which your tree will come. (Choose wisely; if you’re really an amazing gift-giver, your birthday gift to said recipient could be a visit to the tree itself.) And if you can’t afford the $100 (in GBP, plus shipping)  the Nudo Shop sells an array of food items separately, so you can still give the gift of a refined palate. (I’m a little obsessed.)
  • Sabon= Soap: Trees may not be your thing (though clearly they are mine), but don’t go the route of bath products unless they are truly superior. Sabon is a New York-based soap company that sells a myriad of bath and home products in luscious scents. The best part is that all hail from Israel and most are made from the vital minerals and salts of the Dead Sea. You’ve never experienced hand cream until you’ve experienced Sabon Body Butter ($11.75), a magical, melts at body temperature substance that leaves skin softer than you imagine. But my personal favorite is the Body Scrubs ($24-30), which are made with those magic salts from the Dead Sea to make your skin silky smooth. And they look pretty too.
  • Here’s to the Wanderers: If you’re a New Yorker or visiting New York before Christmas, give the gift of travel. Idlewild Books, a.k.a. my new favorite place, is a travel book store, that is not only beautiful but sells all things travel, a go-to place to pick up the guidebook along with the literature of a particular place. Or better yet: if you can’t decide, tell the smart folks there about your giftee and their trip, and they’ll take care of the rest, with a customized gift pack (hint: mention DailyCandy before 12/29 and get 25% off a pack of three or more).

Whew! A lot of word for four gift ideas. Now stop reading and get to shopping!

List: Musings on a Return to the Real World

11 12 2008

I’ve had such a long stint of silence that it seems only apprpriate to return with a list, a musing on the moving and how it made me a wreck for nearly a month. And thus, thoughts…

  • Movers are fantastic. I went with the “guy with the van” route, or, rather, two guys who ran up and down my four flights of steep stairs with heavy furniture while I sat on the sidewalk and watched the van. They also fixed my couch. All for very cheap. Go movers.
  • Cockroaches are disgusting. One of the realities of living in New York is dealing with pests. You’re not a real New Yorker until you have at least one story of the mice or cockroaches or other disgusting pests that invaded your living space. When I got into my new place I had more roommates than I’d bargained for, which made settling in tough. They are, however, gone now (fingers crossed).
  • Caulking is therapeutic. I spent the first few days in the new place caulking all the spaces between baseboard and floor (and any other hole I could find) to keep the roaches out. There was something oddly pleasant about the whole thing, even though it kept me from unpacking. But hey, if the whole writing thing doesn’t work out, at least I have my back up plan.
  • California is lovely. A trip home for Thanksgiving was a welcome reprieve to the stress of moving. No cockroaches, for one. And then there was good food, great family, and my mother to fuss over me. We took the ferry into San Francisco one day and wandered around my old haunts in North Beach. It was both a thrill and slightly upsetting to see people laying out in Washington Square in late November. Much as I love New York, I won’t lie and say it didn’t have me wanting to stay for more.
  • Christmas is coming. I finally bought my ticket to Colorado for Christmas, and miraculously waiting as long as I did seemed to have helped. It wasn’t cheap, but given I know people who paid upwards of $700 a few months ago, it makes me relieved to think that travel prices may be going down. As for that whole shopping thing, I’ve yet to do it.
  • It’s good to be back. After nearly a month of floundering in moving craziness and travel and playing catch-up, I’m finally back to normal and able to blog again on a regular schedule. Until Christmas…