Monday, October 29, 2012

Happy birthday, SweetTea&Sunshine!

If it's my birthday--and it is--then it's also the birthday/anniversary of this little old blog. And if I'm 44--and I am--then ST&S is all of 4 years old, since post #1 took place on my 40th birthday (wasn't that just yesterday? Certainly feels like it!). Toddler blog no longer, we're a big kid now... sort of. (Thank goodness we're past the terrible twos and the tyrannical threes, right?)

Meanwhile, it's been on my mind for a bit to have a blogaversary giveaway to celebrate such a momentous event. I love the idea of giving presents on my birthday (I can hear the boys asking now, am I planning on making good on that here at home?).

What would make a good giveaway? Something that says "Sher!" and "ST&S!" and also is something YOU would like... Many things crossed my mind, but I always knew I would land on a cookbook. But which one? I am not often drawn to books themselves for recipes these days. Many times it feels like the same themes, repeated; as well, there has to be something special about the printed format, when so many functional and appealing recipes exist online.

There are, of course, books that make the cut. Two came my way last year for my birthday: Tender and Plenty. Both are beautiful to look at, and full of fabulous and fresh ideas. But, they are last year. What's THIS year?

And then it just plopped in my lap, so to speak. Somewhere during the delicious week in NYC, I read a review of a new cookbook.

This lovely gem of a book, by none other than Stanley Tucci (and his family), is getting good reviews as an accessible and family-oriented Italian cookbook. I've been a Tucci fan since Big Night, and my affection has grown since, through Devil Wears Prada, Julia&Julia, The Hunger Games, Murder One (TV) and even The Lovely Bones.

Then I watched the video below, and knew I would need this book, and knew one of you would too!


Here's how it works: Leave a comment by midnight on Thursday, Nov. 1 and I'll do a random drawing. Very simple, and good luck to you all! Comment away.

Happy anniversary sweet blog. I've had a lot of fun in the past four years, and look forward to many more!

To see the past three blog-a-birtthday-versaries (I can't decide if it's a birthday or an anniversary, can you tell?):
Year 1 (2009)
Year 2 (2010)
Year 3 (2011)

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend... when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that's present--love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure--the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.
-Sarah Ban Breathnach

In the absence of color this week (or so it seems each gray morning), I am offering up gratitude in the form of color.*

I hope that wherever you are, there is color in your life--and if it's not in your outdoor environment, that you find ways to bring it with you, wherever you are!

Which reminds me:


 (Yes, Jen, I even rethought my "Autumn is the best season EVER" stance this week. Not saying I changed my mind, but I did take an extra shot of espresso a couple of mornings.)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Glimpses of fame, in the city

C ome on, you *knew* I'd have to share the low down on celebrity sightings, right? What's a trip to the city without looking around for the famous folk?

This small list is in addition to the Matthew Morrison/Kathie Lee/Hoda photo bomb moment on Tuesday morning, which doesn't really count, as they're rather like specimens under glass through the NBC window. And the other famous thespians we saw in the play on Tuesday night (Paul Rudd, Ed Asner, etc.) don't *really* count either, as they were paid to be present. The folks below, they were out in the wilds of the city, spotted in their natural habitat...

Walking in SoHo: David Allen Basche

I remember him mostly from Lipstick Jungle and The Starter Wife, but he's also now on a sitcom called The Exes. It was definitely one of those "I know I know who that is, but who is that?" moments that plagued both Corinne and I ALL day. I could picture him in a setting, but not WITH anyone, and so it was really difficult to get him in a context--it seemed like it should be a work-related sit-com, but not something currently on TV, what could it be? He looked very suited up--navy with fine pinstripes--and put together... seemed like he was in working mode, and was walking and talking on the phone before he ducked into a building down the street (probably to avoid the two strange ladies who did double takes and watched him walk away!). I finally latched onto his name, associating him with Kristen Johnson (from The Exes, but more notably Third Rock from the Sun), and sure enough, IMDB did the rest.

Late night in the East Village: Angelo!

I already posted about seeing Angelo Sosa, one of the finalists for Season 7 of Top Chef, but I have to mention it again, as it was probably my favorite sighting of all, and the least traditionally famous of the lot. He was someone who, if we hadn't been actually crossing the street in traffic, I might have said, "Hey Angelo, congrats on Top Chef," and he *seemed* like that would have made his day.

Sauntering in Rockefeller Plaza: Shaquille O'Neal

I was looking down at my phone texting or reading or something and looked up to see a bunch of people all looking in one direction, sort of in my area, but beyond me. Ah-ha, I thought. They see "somebody." So before I even knew who I was looking for, I did a (very natural, of course) 180 and started walking back toward where they were staring. I looked across one of the side areas of Rockefeller Plaza--before you reach the busy part--30 Rock, shopping, NBC, etc.--and there was a scrum of people, with one super-large person more than a head above. Yep, Shaq. He had a small smile on his face, but was otherwise completely mellow and saunter-y. The whole group went into a building, and I continued on my merry way.

Cool as a cucumber on United 0703 JFK>LAX: Gayle King

Did not expect to see Gayle King sitting in first class on my morning flight out of NYC. She was dressed very nice (purple!) and was in her seat checking her phone (good way to avoid eye contact with crazy gawking women!) and I obviously just kept walking on by to my seat a little further back from her spot.

Now, who I wanted to see, but didn't try very hard: Carole Radziwill

Carole is an author and former TV producer who was on the most recent season of Real Housewives of NYC. Yes, we've previously covered this as one of my guilty pleasures, let's not go over that ground again, shall we? She was indeed the one breath of fresh air to an otherwise tediously drama-filled season. I went in skeptical that she'd even give the show the time of day, but came away more of a fan than ever. She has style, grace and wit, and doesn't take herself too seriously (from what I could see).

Having returned from the city and now (didn't think of this beforehand, doh!) following Carole on every social media platform there is, I am confident that by the time I return to NYC: a) she will have a restraining order out on me, b) she will no longer be even semi-famous, or c) I will be able to perfectly time bumping into her at her favorite hat store on Thompson and we'll become fast friends. Ha ha, sure. That last one, definitely.

I know, there are many more important things to occupy my time than celebrity sightings; combined, the above viewings took about 2 minutes, tops. And goodness knows if I lived in the city these wouldn't even have made my radar, I suppose, I'd be so "oh, yeah, whatever" about it.

We did learn, Corinne and I, that we have little stamina for the papparazzi life. On the subway Tuesday morning down to SoHo, a guy with a beautiful camera and large lens was sitting across from us, catching a few zzzz's. I thought, gorgeous camera, but didn't for a minute consider what he'd be doing wandering around the city with it. A few minutes after we'd all gotten off the subway and had walked around a bit, we saw a group of men (including our subway companion) with cameras, all huddled around a corner. Across the street was Trump SoHo. Of course we wandered over (we were going that way anyway), and hung out for a minute... a couple of minutes of nothing happening and Corinne asked one of the guys, "Who are you waiting for?" He answered, "I don't know." Brilliant. Of course he's not going to tell US. We gave it about 30 seconds more, and were gone. It was cool and breezy and catching a glimpse of someone going from a hotel to a black Excursion didn't really seem like a good way to spend our day... we had lunch at L'ecole to get on with!

Sadly, this was the first time I'd been to L'ecole without seeing Jacques Pepin. The three times I've been there previously, he's been in the restaurant, teaching and then sitting up at the bar having a little meal after the main lunch service... no such luck this time.

Thus ends my celebrity sighting career for, well, awhile... until Tom Skerritt comes back to Walla Walla again (he was here last weekend and oh how the Facebook pictures got posted, poor guy).

Who's the most famous person you've seen? Curious me wants to know!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Night Grateful Moment

Arriving home on a Friday night is wonderful in that it caps off a lovely week--to have the joy of sleeping in my own bed, next to dear husband, warm and safe and loved. That's pretty much the good life, right there. Along the way this week, though, there have been oodles (yes, oodles) of things to be thankful for. You've seen pictures of many of them, but I can't help but reiterate a few...

I'm grateful that Corinne and I had the opportunity to travel to NYC together and see sights that we both enjoy and appreciate. We understand each other rather well, I'd say, having the long view from many years back to the present... Heirloom friend adventures are lovely.

Yes, that's us, circa 1992 or so... crazy to realize how long we've been friends.

I'm grateful we stayed safe, and that when we heard of the foiled terror plot on Wednesday morning, we looked at each other, raised an eyebrow (or two) and kept moving.

I'm grateful that Seth and husband had a good week at home together, taking care of each other. I'm also grateful that communicating and keeping in touch when traveling is easier than it used to be; makes it a lot easier to keep on top of homework and chores and all those other lovely motherly reminders! And I loved getting texts from husband at various times of the day, too.

I'm grateful that places of quiet and calm exist in the midst of the city chaos. (Grand Central Station, for some reason, is always very calming to me, even when it's crowded. And Central Park is pretty fine in that regard as well.)

I'm grateful to recognize my blessings.

I'm grateful for technology--from my bluetooth keyboard for my iPad, to the charging gadget I got at the Apple store, to the Belkin multi-charger husband lent me for the trip. We were never far from our devices, but the gadgets helped us immensely, too.

The technology didn't do all that we expected, in some regards. This made me very grateful for laminated subway maps; sometimes there's just no substitute for pulling out an actual map (and not an app on your phone!) and figuring it out. I need all the help I can get, when navigating from underground!!

I'm grateful for every bite we plotted and planned in the city. We didn't get to every little stop we were dreaming about, but we came darn close. From the pierogis to Per Se (and L'ecole and the CIA in between), it was dreamy. Now to go home and crack the treadmill (not literally. I mean it in a book-cracking kind of way. I hope.)

I'm grateful for the introspection that being away from those dearest brings.

Nothing is better than an urban setting to remind me of the many different kinds of humans that inhabit our country. I'm grateful for the common ties that all humans share, but also for the many things that make us unique from each other.

I'm grateful it's the weekend, and for naps. I anticipate a little sleep catch-up in the next couple of days.

What are you grateful for this weekend? I hope your list is long!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

NYC Day Four: More walking and eating

This morning Corinne had a class from a flower guru that she wanted to attend over by the UN/Tudor Place, and I certainly know how to entertain myself in the city, so we parted ways at Starbucks and agreed to meet up for lunch... I headed down to Chelsea to a quilt shop I found somewhere online, probably a quilt blog... I was curious to see how the city folk would present fabric and such.

I arrived at the store just before it opened and was amused to see a clump of ladies gathered and waiting. I was the youngest person on the block, I'm pretty sure of that! I like hanging with the older ladies, it is true... I wandered the fabric, looked at the finished quilts and of course indulged in a bit of fabric for my stash at home. But I was definitely reminded that we have an excellent quilt shop in Walla Walla, and there's not much lacking from the selection I have every day. That was a nice reminder.

There's a quilt museum on one side of the quilt shop, with some beautiful pieces. This is where the husbands hang while the women wander the fabric aisles...

After a quick lunch at 'wichcraft in Midtown, we found ourselves some bikes to ride around Central Park and set off. It was a bit of an experiment in going against the grain--I think for most of the ride we were going the wrong way in the bike path, and thankfully no one yelled at us. That actually surprised me. But the signage was so completely lacking, we really had very little idea of how to get to where we wanted, and most of the time we accidentally arrived at a scenic spot. A little frustrating...

Regardless, though, it was a lovely outing, and more peaceful and quiet than Midtown, where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney were arriving at the Waldorf Astoria for some dinner or other, and the NYPD were out in full force.

Our final dinner in NYC was a doozy, in the best sense of the word. Corinne did the hard work of getting a reservation at Per Se, Thomas Keller's restaurant at Columbus Circle. I am still processing the experience, but it was definitely one for the memory books. It deserves its own blog post, once I've had a chance to mull it over. Alas, the lighting was such that no pictures were possible, so we just had to dive into each course and try to commit it to memory. Yeah, like that's going to happen.

Tomorrow morning it's back to JFF > AWK (ha, I wish that was the way the flight went!). Regardless, home is on the agenda, and I'm looking forward it! It's been a truly lovely outing, but home is always where my heart is. (That's you, husband.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NYC Day Three: A double-beet day!

Day three: another sunny morning dawned, and we headed straight out to Grand Central for our trip up the Hudson River to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.

This particular jaunt came up late in our trip planning, but what a pleasant addition! It wasn't until the trip drew closer that I realized how very much I was looking forward to it. While attending the school has never been really high on my priority list, or really an option--by the time it occurred to me I was OLD by CIA standards--it is a setting that I imagined would be inspiring. And it was, indeed.

Figs and coffee! A perfect breakfast. When Seth and I had our NYC trip in 2005, that was my morning tradition (his was hot chocolate and a bagel). I was thrilled to see figs at the Grand Central Market this morning, and just had to indulge.

Both of our mothers said they want pictures of the two of us together, so of course we oblige! Nothing like a little time on the train...

Two quick hours later, and we were there!

Very Vanna White of me. Couldn't resist posing by the campus sign... The campus is 150 acres, and beautifully landscaped, along the Hudson River. At least a dozen buildings--four restaurants, four dorms, some student housing...

Before I found out that we weren't supposed to take pictures of the students, I took a few pictures along our initial pass through the school. My main takeaway from observing the kids (yes, they were awfully young) in a varuiety of food-prep situations was the glacial speed at which they moved. When I catered, time seemed to always be too short to get everything done that I wanted, and moving quickly took on prime importance. Not for these kids... the real world should wake them up to a different pace, I would think!

This teaching theater was between classes, but someone was getting schooled up front... we kept moving.

Beet and chevre salad. Divine. We ate in the American Bounty restaurant, and enjoyed our meal--made by and served by students.

This is the view of the river from the front of the campus. Absolutely peaceful and beautiful. All too soon our lunch and tour ended and we headed back to the city. We landed in Grand Central again, and at my dad's advice, checked out the Apple store there. This is the view from the store. What an amazing place! The second picture is one of the bars where you can check out the product.

From Grand Central we made our way to the East Village where I'd sussed out a pierogi restaurant. I can't remember which NYC-specific email pointed me toward Vaselka, but it proved definitely worth the trek. Borscht and pierogis? Yum. We sat up at the bar and listened to all the Russian chatter as they prepared food. Simply awesome, to have a casual, quick meal, after the more formal reserved dining occasions of the past few days.

Second round of beets for the day! For someone who doesn't seek out beets very often, it was memorable and both dishes were fabulous.

My pierogi selection: Potato, cheese, sweet potato and arugula and goat cheese.

On our way home from Vaselka, we passed by Momofuku's Milk Bar, and I got a cookie selection to share back at our hotel. Yum. Oh, and as we crossed over 2nd Avenue, we passed Angelo of Top Chef season 7 fame. Awesome; especially awesome given that we saw his name up at the CIA today as a graduation speaker this weekend and regretted that we'd miss him.

Happy tummies, happy girls. Only about 11,000 steps today, which was a nice break from yesterday!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

NYC Day Two: Sunny in the city!

Day two dawned beautiful and sunny. C and I hit the streets ready to explore, knowing that we needed to be available for a possible private tour of the NBC studios at 11a.m. We headed toward 30 Rockefeller Plaza with coffee in hand. Once we arrived at the outside of "The Today Show" studios, Kathie Lee and Hoda were interviewing Matthew Morrison of "Glee" fame (see below, really that's them through all those lights!) so we obnoxiously snapped pictures of the back/side of his head until security told us to get behind the barriers with the rest of the throng... Um, no thanks! We'll just keep moving along...

We had a quick breakfast at Bouchon while waiting for confirmation of our tour, which was ON. My sister-in-law's good friend Sheryl (who works at NBC) asked a co-worker and former NBC page, Marie, to give us a tour, which was fabulous! We saw the sets of SNL and Jimmy Fallon, passed by Dr. Oz's area, went into the MSNBC control room (very quietly, as we weren't supposed to be there), smelled the commissary (yum), and in general learned a great deal about NBC history and trivia. Very fun! (See Molly Shannon's Mary Catherine Gallagher get-up below. It was beside Dana Carvey's Church Lady costume--which was currently missing [?], and Jane Curtin's egghead outfit... that's before my time, I think?)

Corinne and our tour guide Marie checking out the Jimmy Fallon set.

We had 1:30 lunch reservations at the International Culinary Center (formerly the French Culinary Institute) in Soho, so we subwayed down to that general area and walked around for awhile, exploring.

A fabulous three-course lunch later (see my halibut above, and I bet you can't guess what I ordered for dessert, ha ha) and we were back out on the street, wending our way from Soho to TriBeCa, the East Village and Chelsea areas, stopping at Washington Square Park for a brief stop before continuing on to Union Square, where we subwayed back up to the Theater District, where we saw "Grace," a play with Paul Rudd and Ed Asner. It was very intense and dark-ish, but well done. After the play we had a quick Indian meal at a nearby restaurant and called it a day.

These boys were belting out some jazzy tunes in Washington Square Park and it made me think of Seth and how he might be able to fund college, while he's in college! They were good, and having a bit of fun too... had people dancing, even. Well, one guy. But he was very into it!

18,000 steps on the FitBit. Shops visited: Sephora, Apple, Purl Soho, Pearl River, DSW, Apple (again), Aerosole, Steve Madden... Notice the plethora of shoe shops there? Alas, nothing purchased at those... interesting. But oh how our feet were feeling those 18,000 steps...

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