Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Good and the Bad About Snow

As much as I might complain about all the snow we have been receiving this winter in New York City I have to admit I love winter weather. The air is fresh and brisk and I find it invigorating to be outside. It's easy to bundle up and enjoy the outdoors.  When it is hot and humid in summer it isn't always possible to feel comfortable unless I am indoors in air conditioning. I actually feel more cabin fever in the Summer. I took the photos above this afternoon while walking in my favorite Brooklyn park. The walking trail is almost a mile long oval and I try to walk around three times for exercise. (All photos will enlarge if clicked on once and then clicked on again when they re-open on a new page. Use your browser's back arrow to return to the post after viewing)

 A view from both ends of the park, above and below. It's hard to find such a wide open sky in the city so I always feel like I am in a different place when I walk here.

The snow appear blue from the sky's reflection.

Isn't the sky beautiful?

 If you looked closely at the photo mosaic you might have spotted this structure. 
Someone made an igloo in the center of the park!

 A few people and a dog were having fun exploring it.

While the snow is pretty in the park it's not so much fun to deal with on the streets of Brooklyn.
With no place else to put it, there are mounds of snow surrounding the parked cars. 

See this mound of snow?

I know it may be hard to believe, but there is actually a car underneath all this snow!

Why the owner has not dug it out is a mystery to me, but I think it may be April until they see it again!

What's your guess?

I'm linking with Mary at The Little Red House for Mosaic Monday, Smiling Sally for Blue Monday and the crew at Skywatch Friday

Don't forget to see my One World, One Heart introduction on this link -- two door prizes will be awarded to one winner on February 17, 2011 by random number generator. Good Luck!

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One World, One Heart 2011

Welcome to my blog!  I'm Pat, a lifelong New Yorker who loves to learn new things about my city and share them on my blog. I am participating in the One World One Heart event and I'd like to introduce myself to all who are visiting me for the first time.  I love taking photographs, and researching facts about all the places and events I visit in New York City, and also the many places I travel to in the United States and all around the world. My blog's name means a "Thousand Favorite Flowers" in Italian, and after having written almost 600 blog posts I feel like I have collected a beautiful blog bouquet about my life in New York. I hope you will find something of interest here, whether you hope to visit New York City one day or are curious to know more about it.

To thank you for visiting me during the One World One Heart event I'm giving away two prizes with artwork by a mixed media artist I admire, Kelly Rae Roberts. One is an illustrated journal, and the second is a stationery folio.

 The journal is 9 x7 with lots of blank pages to record your thoughts and dreams or blog ideas!

The stationery folio features eight correspondence cards, eight folded notes, and sixteen matching envelopes with twenty coordinating seals.

One World One Heart is a worldwide event that gives all those who blog a chance to meet and mingle and form connections with those they may not have otherwise met from all over the world. In the past 4 years this event has grown to over 1,000 participants with lasting friendships. It is the fifth and final year of One World One Heart and I'm so happy to be able to participate this year!

To see a list of other participants click here: OWOH

In keeping with the rules of One World, One Heart this give away is open to bloggers worldwide. All you have to do is a leave a comment on my blog that will allow me to visit your blog in return and also as a way to contact you if you win. The winner will be drawn on February 17, 2011, by my using the random number generator on  I will announce the winner on my blog and I will also e-mail you, so please make sure if your blog does not have an e-mail contact that you leave your e-mail address in your comment here on my blog . Thanks! 
"A friend is a present you give yourself "
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
I'm looking forward to visiting your blog!

Update February 17, 2011! Announcing the winner!

I had a total of 236 comments to my One World, One Heart give away post.  Using the random  generator at number 73 came out.  I counted to number 73, checking it twice, and the winner is Mary Lee of the blog Merrilymarylee's Weblog!  Congratulations Mary Lee!

The One World One Heart event was lots of fun!  I visited so many wonderful blogs and was impressed by everyone's beautiful artwork and your lovely blogs.  I will continue to visit the links on Lisa's group page at OWOH as long as they are available, and I encourage all who read this to do the same as you will be very impressed by all the talent in the Blog community.

Thank you Lisa for organizing this wonderful event for the last five years! I look forward to participating in your new One World One Art event next year!

Friday, January 28, 2011

News from the Arctic

I do feel like I am living in the Arctic Circle this winter! My backyard outdoor table looked like this yesterday morning. We had received another 16 inches of snow overnight on top of the three we had received the prior day!  Many hours were spent shoveling snow both yesterday, and today.  It's getting to the point where we don't have anyplace to put the new snow. The snow that has fallen, since the day after Christmas, is still in high mounds and piles in my garden and near the curb. (All photos will enlarge when clickewd on once, and then clicked on again when they open on a new page)

Digging out our car and driveway was another big job.

This January has become the snowiest in the weather records books as an unprecedented 36 inches have dropped since Jan. 1. The record up to now was 27.4 inches, set in 1925. The typical snowfall for an entire New York City winter is just 22 inches. More snow is expected this weekend and another large snowstorm accumulation is expected next week! There is a side benefit to the almost constant snow fall as I am getting an upper body work out from pushing, lifting and tossing snow.  Jumping over slush on street corners or climbing over hills of snow is also giving my lower body a work out. No need to pay for a gym membership this winter, as Mother Nature has become my personal trainer. (Smile)

A friend gave me permission to show photos she took on her way to work yesterday, in the Flatiron/Gramercy neighborhood, in and around Madison Park. The freshly fallen snow looked beautiful for a few hours.  Unfortunately, so much snow in New York City has created major inconveniences for tourists, commuters, students and residents and has strained the snow removal budget. NYC sets aside $38 million a year for snow removal, but the city admits they spent more than that digging out of the post-Christmas blizzard alone!

A resilient New Yorker found the time and whimsy to build a snowman in the park -- I think its strange looking face is drawn on with a magic marker -- or is this Frosty supposed to look like it is laughing loudly over all our snow frustration?

Do you remember my blog post about Le Parker Meridien Hotel's annual Gingerbread Extravaganza displayed in the hotel's atrium during the Christmas season? I received an e-mail today from the Parker Meridien that the winning gingerbread was "King Kong" built by the hotel's own bakery, Norma. The exhibit was free, and voting was done by the visiting public, at a $1 a vote, with the money going to City Harvest. A total of $16,373 was raised this year for City Harvest, the world's first food rescue organization, dedicated to feeding the city's hungry men, women, and children.  I loved all the gingerbreads on display, with the theme this year of "Movies Made in New York City."  I will now admit that I also voted for King Kong to win!  Le Parker Meridien promises a bigger and better gingerbread display next year, and I'm looking forward to photographing it again.

Today mark's the sad 25th anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. 

I'll always remember that I first heard the news of this disaster when I was picking up my daughter from pre-school.  In stunned disbelief I rushed home to watch the news on TV and saw videos of the horrible explosion that occurred 73 seconds after lift off being shown again, and again. I think everyone who witnessed this event was especially saddened by the loss of Christa McAuliffe, a teacher who was selected from more than 11,000 applicants to participate in the NASA Teacher In Space Project.  After her death, schools and scholarships were named in her honor, and in 2004 she was awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

To learn more about the Challenger Disaster you can watch this short film clip:

"The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God.' "
 ~ President Ronald Reagan

I hope all is well, and winter is being kind where you are. Have a wonderful weekend!  I will be shoveling snow....again!

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rolf's -- Where Christmas Never Ends

It's almost a month after Christmas but I wanted to show a restaurant that is a "must see" for many during the Christmas season. Rolf's German Restaurant, located in Manhattan's Gramercy Park neighborhood at 22nd Street and 3rd Avenue, is known for its "over the top" Christmas decorations which stay up well into January. (All photos will enlarge when clicked on once, and then clicked on again again when they open on a new page)

As soon as you walk in the door you see an explosion of Christmas lights and decorations.

They literally take your breath away when you first see them!

Decorations are in every nook and cranny of the restaurant, hanging overhead, dripping from the ceilings, walls and light fixtures like a fairytale wonderland.  Garish? Excessive? Perhaps, but I couldn't help but feel enchanted by it all and enjoyed the festive atmosphere.

Even the bar area is enrobed in lights and baubles.

Dolls are nestled in the garlands ...........

....also Angels and Santa Claus figurines.

There were so many figurines everywhere in the restaurant that I could only capture a small amount with my camera lens. I could not take my eyes off the ceiling and walls looking for all of them

Baubles and balls, berries and garland, ribbons and bows, icicles and over 45,000 lights dangle and shine.

Ornaments of golds, reds, pinks, purples, silver and green are a virtual rainbow of color.

They all make Rolf's a Christmas-time spectacular that evokes the fairy-tale like feeling of Germany’s "Black Forest" region.

Even the cover of the menu shined from the reflection of the lights overhead!

My husband and I dined at Rolf's with friends a few weeks ago, well after the Christmas season, as it is almost impossible to get a reservation to dine here the month of December. Even trying to have a drink at the bar is almost impossible in December, due to the enormous crowds. The food is German / Alsace and moderately priced for a Manhattan restaurant. While Zagat reviews are mixed as to quality of the food, we enjoyed the hearty thick potato pancakes we had as an appetizer, and my husband and I enjoyed our Schnitzel a la Holstein which was served with a side of spatzle and a vegetable. While not gourmet, it was filling and good.  I didn't take photos, because I didn't want to disturb my friends dining experience, but you can see Rolf's entire menu on their website.
Rolf's website states that they change their decorations seasonally, so it may be worthwhile to stop by at any time of the year, but if you can visit sometime during the Christmas season and especially during the last weeks of January you are in for a visual treat!
Linking to:
I'm linking to Mary's "Mosaic Monday" on her blog The Little Red House, Diane's "Second Time Around" on her blog  A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, and "Rednesday" on Sue's blog It's a Very Cherry World, Jenny Matlock's "Alphabe Thursday" -- the letter is "P" and this is my POST Christmas visit to Rolf's, Sandi's "Friday Linky Favorites" on her blog Whistlestop Cafe Cooking, Laurie's "Few of my Favorite Things Saturday" on her blog Bargain Hunting and Chatting with Laurie, and Beverly's "Pink Saturday" on her blog How Sweet the Sound


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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Apple Cheese Tart

January 23 was declared National Pie Day by the American Pie Council, and Jo Jo of the blog Jo Jo's Joys is celebrating on her blog today with a pie party! 

I love to make tarts, which are a form of a pie that has a shortbread pastry crust with an open top. I've shown Blueberry, Strawberry and Lemon tarts on my blog before, and I've even made savory tarts such as Smoked Salmon, Fig and Onion and a Tomato Tart.  (click on the links for all the recipes)

For today's pie party I made another family favorite, an Apple Cheese Tart. I discovered this recipe years ago when every fall my husband and my children would go to an apple orchard in upstate New York to pick apples and have a picnic. We'd return home with over a bushel of apples that I used in many apple and apple crumb pies, to the point where we'd begin to tire of them, so I began to make different apple cakes and tarts just for variety. This Apple Cheese Tart has a delicious buttery crust with a hint of cheesecake taste.  The fragrant cinnamon apples and nuts topping tastes delicious served warm or cold.

Apple Cheese Tart


For the shortbread crust:

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sifted flour

For the cheese layer:

1 package (8 ounce) cream cheese softened to room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or lemon or almond extract


4 cups thinly sliced apples
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, pecans, or almonds

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Crust:  Beat butter, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla with electric mixer until well blended. Slowly stir in flour till mix forms a soft dough. Press dough on bottom and sides of a 9 inch ungreased tart pan.  A 9 inch ungreased springform pan can also be used, press dough on bottom and 1 and 1/2 inch height on sides. 
Cheese Layer: Beat cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar with a mixer until blended, add flavoring extract of choice and egg, beating until just smooth. Pour into pan, spreading the cheese mixture to cover the bottom.

Topping: Combine thinly sliced apples, cinnamon and nutmeg with 1/3 cup sugar in a large bowl and mix gently until all the apples are coated. Layer over the cream cheese and sprinkle nuts on top.

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes then lower oven to 400 degrees and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown (apples are soft when pierced with a fork), and filling is almost set.  Cool in pan on a wire rack and remove tart pan sides or springform pan ring.

Serve room temperature or chilled.  Leftovers can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated.

It's so good!

Visit Jo Jo's Joys for her Pie Party today and see what's being served on all the participating blogs!

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Amy of Oxfordshire

This is the view that I see when I pull into the parking lot of the park I walk in every morning. It has been an unusually cold and snowy winter this year in New York, as it seems to be in many other parts of the country and in Europe.

When I finally received a box in the mail with this Royal Mail stamp last week I was very excited, as I knew this was a package that was sent to me in November by Melanie, from the blog Jellybeanangel 2, as a Christmas gift! We had feared that this package may have been lost due to all the bad weather that the post office in England and the USA had to deal with between then and now.

Inside the box I found Melanie's Christmas card, some interesting literature about Samlesbury Hall in England which I had seen photos on Melanie's blog, and assorted canceled postage stamps that Melanie knows that I enjoy collecting.

The best surprise was unwrapped to show.......

........this beautiful doll called "Amy," that was hand made by Melanie! She is holding a heart button that Melanie bought at Waterperry Gardens in her home town of Oxfordshire in the United Kingdom.

Melanie had displayed Amy, and other dolls that she made, in a post on her blog in the fall, and I exclaimed over how pretty I thought Amy's multicolored curls looked! She was my favorite of all the dolls, and I am so touched that in friendship Melanie sent her to me as a gift, as I know how special Amy was to her!

I am always in awe of all the beautiful hand crafted things that Melanie makes, from sewing projects, quilts, knits, crochet, applique art, or stained glass. There are always multiple hand made creations on her blog, plus often wonderful photos of walking tours of the beautiful English countryside, or a visit to a castle or another historical area, that she takes with her family.  Reading Melanie's blog over the years I've greatly admired all of her talents, energy and enthusiasm!

 Melanie, and now Amy -- you both brighten my day! Thank you so much!

I'm adding this link to Beverly's  Pink Saturday on her blog How Sweet the Sound.Please visit Beverly today to see links to everyone's beautiful blog posts full of pink!

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