Hello again everyone and Happy Happy Saturday. We are enjoying our very chilly day here in the NE. Tom went to the boat to do some tinkering (I officially do not go until it warms up. Its always freezing and I end up waiting and wondering [often out loud to him] "when are we going", so he is happy to go alone in the Winter), and I just hung around the house some then headed to the nearby coffee shop to do a little writing.

Now to the explanation of the post title... Tom's birthday!!!!
His actual birthday is not for a couple days, but its on a weeknight and the plans I had made to celebrate were much better suited to a weekend, so yesterday, we took the afternoon off work and headed into the city for a full day of just walking around and being together! Our day started downtown, around the WTC site and then we went all the way uptown almost to Harlem to wander around the Upper East Side. We took the train quite a bit along this route, but also did a great deal of walking which is my favorite thing to do--and Tom humours me as I wax poetic on the city, the architecture, the image, the feeling I get when there, my desire for us to live in a brownstone etc.

All of this walking and sight seeing made us hungry so it was a good thing we had reservations at 5 30 at the famous restaurant One if by Land, Two if by Sea located in the heart of Greenwich Village. This very romantic and charming restaurant is also very unique. It occupies the old carriage and stable house of Aaron Burr (known for his term as Vice President under Thomas Jefferson and also for the murder (but never tried) following the death of Alexander Hamilton who perished after being shot by Burr in their famous duel) and to this day, is supposedly haunted by the ghost of the niece of Aaron Burr who died in her carriage, from this house, on the way to her wedding back in the late 1700's (I think).
(We didn't feel her presence, which the waiter said was our fault for not having more wine, so we'll have to go back again to try and see if this centuries old mystery is real).

The restaurant, being an old stable, still has the same layout it had way back when Mr Burr frequented there. The upstairs dining room was the hay loft and the bar is in the carriage house area. With all of the round door frames, one can easily imagine horses populating the place.
Of course I am sure many of you know the history of the saying "one if by land, two if by sea"... it is found in the famous Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem "Paul Revere's Ride"

'One if by land, two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex, village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.'

note: this was the signal: one lantern hung if the invading British soldiers were coming by land, or two if they were coming by sea. See our Boston blog post last month for more on Paul Revere.

We have been dying to dine here for a while now. Most of our guests that have visited pass by here with me while touring the Village. It is quite expensive, so what made our dinner even better was that its still Restaurant Week in NY. One if by Land only has 2 menu options normally-- A Chef's tasting menu priced at $95 a person, not including desert or beverages or the Fixe Prixe menu at $75 a person which allows you to choose an appetizer and main dish (again, alcohol and dessert are not included). With Restaurant Week, the Fixe Prixe menu is reduced to only $35 a person and includes dessert. Some of you may be thinking that we are paying less, but also getting less during this popular NY promotion, but that is not the case. The entrees were beautifully prepared and quite filling. The key lime cheesecake and caramel chocolate cake with maple ice cream that Tom had were two of the best desserts we have ever tasted. Our main courses (fish and steak) and the apps were also very tasty.

After a wonderful dinner we caught a cab to take us back uptown for Tom's big surprise of the night... tickets to the Broadway production of Wicked!!! I have to give props here to my Aunt in Seattle. She was able to pull some strings and call in a favor to her friends at the theatre company to see if any tickets were available. The outlook wasn't good-- Wicked is nearly impossible to get seats to and when trying to get tickets on our own through the normal venues, the earliest date we could get was in September. HOWEVER--she pulled through and not only did we get seats, we got HOUSE seats, about 12 rows up, center stage. The show was SO wonderful and went 3 hours--so worth the money. If you haven't seen it, we of course recommend it. It tells the "other side of the story" of the Wizard of Oz--from the witches' point of view.

After the show we entered out into the very well lit Times Square, packed with people and seeping energy as always and caught a cab back to the train for home. It was a perfect weather day too---cold, but not too bad, around 36, and no precipitation except some snow early. We had so much fun!!

Here are some pics:

1) Shots of the restaurant-- inside and out (very unassuming exterior. only a very small sign flush with the brick wall)
2) Tom and I at dinner
3) great set-- the witch flying
4) glinda the good witch and elphie the wicked witch from the show

i love it here

this is a short post but I couldn't not comment on today. First of all, and I know I sound like a broken record, but it was beautiful today--perfectly sunny. After work I headed to our local coffee shop--Smart World--always organic and always fair trade (I know its not Starbucks although my heart belongs to them always) to take advantage of it being light later and to have some time to myself to write. Just before entering Smart World and sitting in my usual easy chair and ordering my usual green tea, I stopped into the magazine stand (store) across the street. Just to set this up--this city, like all towns around this area, have very quaint downtown areas that are a throwback to small towns and just walking down "Main Street" gets my memory going thinking of summers from my childhood visiting my grandparents in Omak, WA or camping in Chelan, WA and visiting the small "mom and pop" book stores and cafe's. But--- these small towns here are NOT like those small towns. The small towns near us are thrivng with activity and modern features that seem to lack in truly small town areas and while unique, are closely enough connected that you never feel like you are stuck somewhere far away. The magazine store also sold real penny candy, postcards that seem to have been printed in the 70's, tobacco and every magazine you'd ever want has not changed since it opened in the 1940's (per the owner I spoke with). Walking in, newspapers were strewed all over the floor--the owners' remedy for the winter weather and to keep people from slipping. I couldn't stop smiling. I loved it. How corny do I sound? I don't care. I am happy!!

Today, despite the snow and "winter storm WARNING" from the news I took the afternoon off work and headed into the city to meet up with an old friend from high-school. Its amazing how fate works; not having spoken in the last 17 years or so, we found each other on facebook and were shocked to find that we had both moved to the NY area in August 2007. That was the first of many likenesses. After chatting via email over the last couple weeks we decided to hook up in person for a late lunch in the city. Which leads me back to the first sentance of this entry... in the city you do not, can not cancel reservations--so we braved the snow and sleet (in our fashionable boots no less) and we were so glad we did! It wasn't so bad anyway--the temps had warmed up to the mid 30's.

For lunch, we took advantage of the final days of the famous Restaurant Week in NY where you can dine at many FABULOUS places and choose appetizers, main courses and dessert for a low LOW price (for NY standards). Today we chose the Fig & Olive. There are 3 of these in the Manhattan area, but Ang chose the one in the hip neighborhood that is the Meatpacking District. We had grand plans of shopping, window shopping, eating and visiting, but we had so much fun getting caught up--we stayed at the restaurant and visited the entire time! Our waiter Jonah was quite charming (an aspiring actor as most waiters are in the city, or as he called himself, an INspiring actor) and the atmosphere was very modern chic. The food was some of the best we have had. I had raw tuna with a cilantro based sauce for my app and Ang had some sort of triangle shaped chicken creation. We both had the mushroom penne (it had a much fancier name, but that name escapes me now) for the main dish and then the best fig tiramasu I have ever eaten. I think Tom and I need to hit this place up soon so he can try it out.
Here are some pics!


Today Tom and I headed back up to the Poconos to visit our friends Frank and Patti at their cabin. They live up the street from us usually---but they have this whole other very cool residence--the most beautiful custom cabin with full view of the Camelback ski runs and the surrounding mountains (mountains for the NE...).

It was a beautiful day--extremely sunny--as most days are here in the winter--and about 23 degrees.
We didn't visit long, but we quickly made plans to head back up there with them Valentines Day weekend to snowboard and relax.

We didn't bring the camera this time, but I did snap a couple shots with my phone.

The view from their living room
The view from their loft (telescope is awesome)
Tom with Chardonney, their pug.

We hope everyone had a great weekend and this is going to be a busy week for us, but a fun busy, so check back and see all the pics we post!

great video

if you are a fan of the band coldplay and "live" music, you must check out this video. Its very creative. If you aren't a fan you will probably enjoy the video anyway. Happy Wednesday!

God bless President Obama!

"What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task." -President Obama

Here are some pics from NYC this morning taken by my friend Angela Holland who braved the crowds and the 20 degree temp to watch the inauguration in Times Square. Thanks Ang!

living small in nyc

I recently have discovered Facebook (yes I know I am a bit behind the times) and have gotten re-aquainted with friends that I haven't spoken to in years (in some cases, 20+ years--I am talking elementary school!! !!) Its been great!

Anyway... I recently began chatting with an old highschool friend I haven't talked to since our LHS days, Angie, and she too lives out East in Hoboken. We had a brief chat today on the desire to move into the city but that the house prices are CRAZY high (seriously, in NY, what recession?) After talking with her I opened up my favorite section of the NY Times---Real Estate--- to browse through the listings and articles. As you know, I always marvel at the small spaces for the big prices. Today a gentleman was featured who bought a co-op apt that he calls a "fixer-up-er" (kitchen is quite old and outdated and the bathroom is tiled in black and pink). The monthly maintenance is around $520 and he happily got a deal at $310,000. Pretty good for the Murray Hill area of town (around 30th and Madison). The apartment tho, this "fixer-up-er", is 313 square feet. The entire thing.
As I sit in my living room and ponder this, with the fireplace going, the couch, love-seat, coffee table, bookcase and chair within my view--I have ample room to practice ballroom dancing, have 15 friends over to do some yoga, build a rather large fort out of blankets and pillows (if my nephew were visiting) or play Wii Tennis with no space restrictions. It feels so large, that Tom and I sometimes resort to playing rock-paper-scissors when we are lounging on the couch to see who has to make the long walk to the kitchen to refill our wine glasses /coffee cups/make popcorn, etc. All of this occurs in our living room which is slightly larger than this man's entire apartment.
Now while we are happy with this size of living room, I cannot imagine our entire house with even 1/8 of our possessions crammed in here.
The trade off? This gentlemen is in the city. The wonderful, exciting, fast paced, artsy, fun and beautiful city--the best city in the world in my opinion and I'm sure when he compares himself to some other NY residents, he feels he has a mansion. See below.
This video was featured on an Oprah show. These people (husband, wife and baby) live and they say enjoy a 265 sq ft apartment in NY. Just watching the video makes me feel like stretching and not to mention impressing upon me a deep sadness at the thought having to drop down to having pretty much only 3 outfits (check out their "dressers").

The city draws me in... I gaze wistfully at the brownstones in Greenwich Village or the gargoyle protected condos on the Upper West Side... but for the money--and the close proximity we have now to the city--- I am happy where we are (until we win the lotto or I become an uber successful author (lottery is more likely...) then we will have the BEST brownstone housewarming party you WILL EVER SEE)!!

we are freezing...

But its sunny... so still no complaining! But I do wonder, how even while snowing, it can be sunny? Ahhh the mysteries of a state with real seasons---still a new experience for me.

Today has been a great day! I have been taking a kick boxing class and it is kicking my butt! I love it!! Its a great way for me to start off a day before my busy day at work. Its such a great motivator for a productive attitude. Somedays, it even motivates me so much that I choose to run on my lunch break. Not sure if thats something I want or not, hahaha.

Tonight is a big night for Frank and Ollie! Our neighbor boy Paul (who is 10) is coming to hang out for a bit while his mom, dad and little sister Hannah have an event at Hannah's school. Paul is a great kid and everytime we see him (he and Hannah like to walk the dogs with us) we learn something new. He is very smart and he and his family moved here from Germany about a year ago. He speaks fluent English and of course German and he is a good little German language instructor for me too. :-) I am slowly learning the key phrases like "This is my dog" and "my name is Diana". Paul wants to be a pilot, like Tom, so he is always very interested in asking Tom many questions.
Paul LOVES the dogs so this will be a fun play date for them. Hannah, when finding out that Paul got to come over, began to cry and insist that she didn't need to go to her school appt (she is 6) and she would "just rather be with Frank and Ollie".

He'll be here soon so I need to run and get our Wii set up and the cookies out, but before I go, I want to give a special HELLO to one of our regular readers, Denise in Edmonton, Alberta. Hi Denise! We are so glad you like to follow our adventures (even when its a stretch to call them adventures)!! We loved seeing you a couple years ago and hope to see you again soon when we get to the Great North next time :-)

super cold

question: who decides to go to their boat on a 20 degree day with heavy snow forecasted to remove the windows (to get replaced) and to place a tarp over the boat?

answer: us.

result: frozen toes and COLD all over. of course, we had this planned and its hard to plan around the snow here in the winter, so we bit the bullet and headed down to the Jersey Shore at 7 this am to quickly accomplish our goal and head home. At first, it wasn't so bad--sure a little chilly, but with my 2 layers of fleece (can't escape, nor do I want to escape, from the seattle staple that is fleece), my hat and gloves I was fine. Tom must have just been really excited to get started because he didn't choose to wear his gloves or hat. This feeling of it being "not so bad" didn't last long.

I have to give Tom credit-- he did the hard work, putting the ropes through the very large tarp, tying it down at various points and braving the elements. I was his handy sidekick and also braved the elements including one time in-particular as I stood half in the boat, half out, and started to ponder exactly what I would do, step by step, if I fell into the icy water (the boat is in the water year round and in the winter, bubblers are placed under to make sure the water does not freeze). Luckily that didn't happen and we managed to get all the glass off, boat secured and get home just before the snow really started to accumulate.

We have prob just about 4" now, but this should continue all night and thru some of tomorrow and off and on to Tuesday. I LOVE IT still--so all of you that said "oh wait until you have a NE winter, then we'll see what you think"... this is my second NE winter and I still LOVE IT. :-)

Happy Weekend, cheer for the Giants tomorrow and here is the boat in warmer times. I can't wait to be tan again.

shout out...

Hey everyone! As you know, we appreciate how many people visit our blog and leave comments, or just silently enjoy it (hopefully enjoy). Our short post today is to serve the purpose of giving a BIG shout and thanks to a few specific regions I would like to identify---1st, thanks to our Pennsylvania readers. I can honestly say that we do not know anyone in PA, but according to the blog visit info, we have quite the fan base there! Thanks much and please, leave a comment if you so desire (assuming its positive)! 2nd-- to our neighbors to the WAY South in Brazil! Their hits equal 1/4 of those from Canada. Thats saying a lot since we know NO ONE in Brazil, but we have ample family in Canada (hint hint Ellefson's...).

And as a final acknowledgment-- thanks to our 2 readers in Russia. Wow. Russia. Cool.

There are many other countries and states we will call out in 2009 to say thanks for reading! :-)

odd ny news

we thought this was blog worthy...

Again, Manhattan has been enveloped by a smell that only can be described as "maple syrup". This smell has been a frequent visitor to Manhattan since 2005 and there is no reason to be found. Authorities say tho--it is harmless. How do they know?
Where does this smell come from?? cut and paste this link for more info.

and while we are on the subject of ny... this wonderful city (and I choose to think, general area) has been voted THE #1 city for the place to work and live. Seattle was voted #6. I guess those that voted to make Seattle #6 don't really care about sun in their life. Their choice. ;)

Day at the Poconos

Today Tom, the dogs and I headed to the Pocono Mountains ("the Poconos") to see what they were all about. We chose, after looking on the web and talking to our friend Lisa, Camelback Ski Resort as our destination. The Poconos reside in Pennsylvania and the resort is only 45 mintues from our house. It amazes us how we are so close to so many amazing places.

Camelback is nothing like the resorts we are used to (Whistler, Park City, Vail) but it will do--especially since for the first time ever I had an itch to ski (well, snowboard). Living in WA my entire life AND the fact that I sold ski-wear while in college at a local sporting goods store didn't spark my interest to ski and it didn't bother me. I think what may have done it today was the fact that it was 41 degrees and 100% sunny! The snow here is dry as well, so if (when) I fall, I won't get soaked. Hopefully. After we drove around and checked out the area, we headed down to a Trailhead we had seen hoping to get in a short hike. WOW--are we ever happy we did that! The trailhead was part of the Appalachian Trail which after we got home we looked it up and this is what we found (courtesy of Wikepedia):

"The Appalachian Trail is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States, extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Katahdin in Maine. It is approximately 2,175 miles long. The majority of the trail is in wilderness, although some portions do traverse towns and roads, and cross rivers.
The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season.
Along the way, the trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. An extension, the International Appalachian Trail, continues north into Canada and to the end of the range, where it enters the North Atlantic Ocean.
The Appalachian Trail along with the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail form the Triple Crown of long distance hiking in the United States."

So we only hiked about an hour but I have made Tom promise that we go back next weekend assuming we have similar weather conditions. It is truly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I can't wait for summer when we can hike much more and play some in the creek.

Here are some pics:

some of the creek. check out those icicles--amazing
di at camelback tubing area
part of the trail
di and the dogs (look how posed they are!!)
tom & the dogs at the trail head

short clip

A short video at the very start of our hike on the Appalachian Trail...

Happy New Year!

Its a new year now and hopefully it will be even better than the last! 2008 had its problems FOR SURE, but Tom and I have been fortunate and we feel very blessed to have our health, jobs and friends and family all in tact.

Last night we opted out of the Times Square New Years (actually, we never planned on it but many people we talk to outside of this area assume that of course we'd go. Yes, we are movers and shakers, but NO THANKS in Times Square. Seriously). It was below 0 with the wind-chill and those people we watched on tv looked COLD.

We were invited to celebrate with our neighbors Marc and Donna. They had us and our friends Frank and Patti over and I am not going to say that we DID Karaoke, but I am not saying we didn't... :-) (one song).
Donna made gourmet munchies and Marc was the bartender! It was a great night. They live just up the street from us so we chose to walk to their house. Bad idea. It was so cold!! The kind of cold where your ears, skinny little things that they are, begin to hurt so bad you begin to think there are actual needles pricking them. Brrrr.

We managed to fight off the temptation to nod off and proudly stayed up to ring in 2009 with streamers and the like! Today we spent the first day of this new year getting our house back to its pre-Christmas state. There are now zero Christmas decorations to be seen and its hard to believe actually that the Christmas season is gone already.

Back to work tomorrow. Happy New Year everyone! Make your resolutions, be safe and may you have nothing but success in 2009 regardless of your ventures.

Take care. Di and Tom

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