Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

Salmon paste anyone?

In the spirit of the season, I’ve invited the neighbours around for a Christmas drink on Sunday afternoon.

This is the little I know about them:

  • the basement couple have two mad dogs, who are naughty and require a lot of telling off (“Bad dog! Baaaad!“)
  • the man of the couple directly above us plays fantastic classical piano (the first night the H1B and I stayed here and, ahem, blessed the apartment our passion was accompanied by the crescendo of a Beethoven concerto – at least I think it was Beethoven)
  • the man in the top flat works for a financial company and has just come back from London and his wife is on a long-term work placement in Minnesota (or was it Pennsylvania?)

The key to meeting your neighbours in a big city like New York is to smoke. We’ve had the best conversations with our neighbours when sitting on the stoop having our weekly cigarette and they are coming back from work. (Never say that the H1B and I don’t know how to let our hair down…)

Also, remembering names is useful but not my greatest strength as about two seconds into the conversation I’m trying to imagine more interesting aspects of their lives, such as how they managed to score such an attractive wife or if their apartment is bigger or nicer than ours. (I find a good rummage in the morning post helps to kick-starts the memory.)

The party is about 5pm. I’m thinking of serving mulled wine (festive, easy and all those lovely aromatic spices hide the cheapness of the wine), a few bottles of (better quality) white wine and beer, and non-alcoholic hot cider made from the incredible apple juice sold at the Grand Army Plaza greenmarket (okay, maybe with a splash of schnapps).

Foodwise, some homemade blinis if I can find the buckwheat flour, with sour cream, chives and smoked salmon. The H1B, true to his Calvinist roots, thought “we could just roast a few potatoes for people to pick at”, but I think we could stretch to some sweet potato wedges baked with rosemary, honey and plenty of rock salt.

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Pinch and Punch…

To celebrate the first day of December, here are some Santa socks. I don’t actually know how I acquired these socks or who they belong to. If they are yours, you can’t have them back. Sorry.


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Yesterday, the H1B and I caught the subway up to the Museum of New York City on East 103 street. Much of the place is under renovation but it does have a very good film, narrated by Stanley Tucci, about the history of New York from the first Dutch settlers to present day.

A visit to the museum is also worth the visit for a walk down through Central Park, where we haven’t returned to since our first stint here in the summer. (We lived on 66th and 1st in a oven-hot studio with an industrial scale air-con unit that froze one small strata of air and nothing else – I actually woke up one night with boiling hot legs and an ice cream headache because the slim icy jet was aimed at the pillows. The park became something of a front lounge and dining room for us as the apartment was too horrible to spend the evening in.)

After a brief stop for a drink at the always charming if not touristy Boathouse, we headed south and via the skating rink at Central Park

… ended up on a very Christmassy 5th Avenue and at the window displays of Bergdorf Goodman.

Now these are what I call a Christmas window display… magical.

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Ice Skating NYC

Yesterday we walked past Bryant Park, after being too late to see the Macys Thanksgiving Parade (which starts at an unholy 9am), and saw that the ice skating rink was up and running. It was a beautifully mild fall day but the atmosphere felt festive enough to get us ridiiiculously excited about Christmas.

Ice Skating in Bryant Park

Ice Skating Bryant Park

We didn’t get on the ice this time, instead settled around the stone fire pit with a cup of hot spiked apple cider (apple juice, spices and Amaretto).

I can’t wait for ice skating at Central Park myself, especially as the Prospect Kate Wollman rink is closed this winter (noooooo).

Here are a list of the key locations where you can get your skates on in New York city:

  • New York Parks Info (has all the park locations and you can handily search the closest to you)
  • Rockefeller Center (open every day, late weekends. $75 pp!! for express pass but can’t see non-express option, although on other websites it says around $10 adults)
  • Central Park (two locations, north and south end. $6.25 adults)

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Two years ago I bought one of Emily Peacock‘s super cool tapestry designs. As with knitting, I do seem to like the buying of the craft packs and fantasising about how fabulous they’ll look at the end, rather than the actual process, but I must be nesting because I thought it’s time to pick it up again.

Taking Flight by Emily Peacock

Funny then that this morning I received an email with some of her new designs, based on mid-century graphics:

Sun by Emily Peacock

Flower by Emily Peacock

Bird by Emily Peacock

Cool aren’t they? Would make a great gift for a crafty-minded friend even if you don’t fancy cross stitching yourself. Unfortunately you can’t buy the made-up versions, darn it.


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Markets are a distinctly New York experience and none more so than the Green Markets, which are the hippest way to buy food in New York.

Cheaper than most of the astonishingly expensive Manhattan stores, such as Gristedes or Whole Foods (though I found that Amish Market was better value when we lived near Tribeca), you have the bonus of the food being seasonal and local.

Brooklyn Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket

The Green Market Organisation was set up in 1976 as a way for small producers to get their food to the consumer. The first market bought together 12 farmers at a lot at 59th Street and 2nd Avenue in Manhattan although there is no longer an active market at the site (the closest is 59th street and 9th avenue).

The buzz of the stall holders, as well as initiatives to help those less well off (such as the EBT stamps), as well as all the photo-worthy local produce make them well worth a visit as a tourist destination too.

If you go no other time of year, make a visit on the market days prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas when the atmosphere will be genuinely festive. I’m looking forward to the pre-Thanksgiving market at Grand Army Plaza on Wednesday, even though I’m not actually cooking or having people around for dinner!

Brooklyn Grand Army Plaza Greenmarket

Grab yourself a coffee and a pastry and have a wander around. Even it’s a pound of crisp red apples from upstate New York, a cup of hot apple cider or locally produced honey, make sure you buy something – you are supporting the local farmers and small holders and the community.

Now there are 53 markets around the NY area – the biggest market is at Union Square on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.







Here is a list of the markets with local subway stops and days (go to grownyc.com for full details and information) :

175th Street Thursday 
106th Street / Stranger’s Gate Saturday 
97th Street Friday
92nd Street  Sunday
82nd Street Saturday
79th Street Sunday 
57th Street  Wednesday & Saturday
Abingdon Square Saturday 
Bowling Green Tuesday & Thursday
City Hall Tuesday & Friday
Columbia Thursday & Sunday
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Wednesday
Fort Washington Tuesday
Inwood Saturday
Mount Sinai Wednesday
Port Authority Bus Terminal Thursday
Saint Mark’s Church Tuesday
Staten Island Ferry Whitehall Terminal Tuesday & Friday 
Stuyvesant Town Sunday
Tompkins Sunday
Tribeca Wednesday & Saturday
Tucker Square Thursday & Saturday
Union Square Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday
World Financial Center Battery Park City Thursday
Zuccotti Park Tuesday
Fulton Youth of the Future Youthmarket Thursday 
Lower East Side Youthmarket Thursday 


Bay Ridge Saturday 
Boro Park Thursday 
Brooklyn Borough Hall Tuesday, Thursday, & Saturday 
Carroll Gardens
Cortelyou Rd Sunday 
Fort Greene Park Saturday 
Grand Army Plaza Saturday 
Greenpoint McCarren Park Saturday 
Sunset Park Saturday 
Williamsburg Waterfront Saturday
Windsor Terrace Wednesday
Williamsburg Thursday 
Brownsville Youthmarket Tuesday & Friday 
Cypress Hills Youthmarket Friday
Kensington Youthmarket Saturday 
Lafayette Youthmarket Sunday 


Astoria Wednesday 
Atlas Park Glendale Saturday
Corona Friday
Douglaston Sunday 
Elmhurst Tuesday
Jackson Heights Sunday 
Socrates Sculpture Park Saturday 
Sunnyside Saturday 
Ridgewood Youthmarket Saturday 

Bronx Borough Hall Tuesday 
Lincoln Hospital Tuesday & Friday
New York Botanical Garden Wednesday
Parkchester Friday 
Poe Park Tuesday
Wholesale Greenmarket
Monday-Saturday, 2-8 AM
Kingsbridge Heights Youthmarket Friday 
Learn It, Grow It, Eat It Youthmarket Wednesday 
Marble Hill Youthmarket Friday 
Riverdale Youthmarket Thursday  


Staten Island:
Saint George Saturday
Staten Island Mall Saturday
Stapleton Youthmarket Saturday 

No idea what a rutabaga is - but they sure are popular

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NYC might be the city that never sleeps, but you’ll need to crash eventually. While we shipped out most of our belongings (via K2 Moving – who I’d recommend), we didn’t bring out a bed – partly because we weren’t sure what kind/size of place we’d be getting and also because we rented out our home back in the UK furnished.

I think a good bed is one of the most important purchases a couple can make. Not for those reasons, smutty mind, but because a good night’s sleep can create all sorts of harmony in a household. And with the high ceilings and generous square footage of our Brooklyn brownstone, I thought we could get something quite grand.

Our first stop was Sleepys – a top-of-the-range place with all sorts of fancy computer equipment to determine what firmness of $6000 mattress would support our lumber and slumber. So, we played around on that for a while and, like all good bargain hunters, then took the NASA-grade information (me, slightly firm; H1B, firm – and definitely not the weirdly goopy Tempur-pedic memory foam for either of us) then went to find somewhere cheaper…

Ikea was an obvious budget choice (there’s one in New Jersey and one in Brooklyn, to which you can get a shuttle ferry from Wall Street Pier, which is free at the weekend, $5 weekdays) but I wanted something a bit sturdier and made of iron to suit the vintage/traditional feel of the apartment.

Next stop was Pottery Barn – which is a middle-class cornucopia of 1000 count thread sheets, twinkling Christmas decorations and sumptuous sofas in look-I’m-so-wealthy-I-can-afford-white linen covers.

I liked this one – amusingly called the ‘Adrienne‘, which made the H1B do some comedy Rocky air-punching in the 69th street store. It was £799 reduced to $699 online.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky

Under the raised (and perfectly plucked) eyebrow of one of the immaculate male attendants, we then shadow-punched our way a few stores down to Raymour & Flanigan.

What is it about mid-range furniture stores that feel so 1990s? Must be all that polished leather, mass-made art and glass-topped tables. However, the staff were excellent, unpretentious, and didn’t flinch when we said we wanted something more reasonable than the top-tier mattresses (even after we’d bounced up and down on every single expensive one, Bill made us feel like we were indeed actually very clever for going with the cheaper option).

We ended up buying a mattress, box spring and the Winslow bed frame ($329) from the store (Pottery Barn don’t sell mattresses or box springs – just the frames) for just over $2100 ( including tax and delivery – and build), via an interest-free 12 month repayment plan.

The sensible pricing, one-store purchase and old-school chivalry of Bill and his colleague Carlton helped seal the deal but I suspect the final decision to hand over the cash was largely down to them finding the H1B’s Rocky impressions funny.

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