Tuesday, August 12, 2014

July 2014: Clay & Gina Visit NYC

We really enjoyed our weekend with Clay and Gina.  On Thursday Big Clay, Gina, and I shared lunch at the world-famous Carnegie Deli.  Their sandwiches are so large the three of us only shared ONE $28 Reuben and one slice of strawberry cheesecake.


That Thursday evening after work Clay and Gina met us at our apartment and had a chance to meet Mr. Duke and see our little piece of the Big City.  We then enjoyed dinner at Atlantic Seafood Grill with a Scottish server which got us even more excited about our trip to Scotland next month.

On Friday while I was at work Clay took Clay and Gina to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  They shared lunch with Parker at Bryant Park and met me at our UES (Upper East Side) train stop to head to the Yankees Stadium.  

One of H. Bruce’s friends, William, works at the Yankee corporate office and took us on a tour we’ll never forget.  First we got to see the private suite level before meeting the curator of the Yankee’s museum and receiving a private museum tour from him.  He explained in depth the current exhibits and how he was able to put them together.  Near the end of the tour he asked the museum staff to hold off on letting fans in so that our group could be alone in the room.  He asked us to put on white cotton gloves and we ended up holding autographed bats of Mickey Mantle's and Babe Ruth's (his was used during 1922-1923 and had baseball stitch marks indented into it!)  

photo taken from one of Party City's suites
Rachael wearing 2009 World Series Ring

Mickey Mantle's bat
Babe Ruth's Bat
2009 World Series Trophy
our seats were in the Delta Sky Lounge area
Saturday we met Clay and Gina for a breakfast of New York bagels before heading to the High Line.  We began at the north end of the High Line at Hudson Yards, stopping to check out Chelsea Piers Driving Range along the Hudson River, before finishing the High Line and walking through Chelsea Market.  We headed back to the UES for lunch at Penrose, one of our favorite weekend haunts, then we spent the next few hours resting.  We met back at the 77th St train stop to head to SoHo where we walked through Little Italy and Chinatown before dinner at Peasant, an authentic Italian restaurant where they only cook by burning wood and charcoal.

on the High Line

Chelsea Market
on the bus
Sunday we took Clay and Gina to Hillsong NYC before eating brunch at Uva, an UES Italian restaurant where we’ve also taken Joanie and Da.  After brunch Clay and Gina headed to the airport.

What a great weekend!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Foraging Class in Central Park

For years we've been striving to be more conscientious of our consumerism and trying to reduce the impact we make on our planet.  I was excited when I found a Central Park foraging tour on Groupon; two of my coworkers joined us as Wildman Steve taught us about a number of Central Park plants.  We tried a few leaves/berries of all of them and brought a number of them home to throw on our salads and in our juices.

Erin, Julie, Rachael (my coworkers)

Epazote: comes from Mexico, very common in our area.  Use this is small quantities as a seasoning, in large quantities is toxic.  It's a spice.  Put it in guacamole, tomato sauce, bean dishes.  If in bean dishes it will take away the gas part of eating beans.

Black Cherry: common native fruit, pollinated by flies

Lamb's Quarters: European relative of spinach and beets, great source of of beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, and iron in the world; also a great source of trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and fiber

Quick Weed: leaves taste a little bit like artichokes, better cooked or steamed then blended into cream soups

Common Spicebush: native plants, make tea by pouring boiling water over leaves, tea used by Native Americans to reduce fever, yellow flowers in very early spring, great for gardens

Sweet pepperbush: if you rub flowers with water in your hands turns into bubbly soap

American Mayapple: fruit tastes a bit like lemon

Mountain Mint: 

Asiatic Dayflower: leaves taste a little like string-beans and are enjoyed in soups

Purple Flower Raspberries right next to Belvedere Castle, no fruit yet:

Sassafras: use leaves crushed to make tea, can use sapling roots to make even better tree, right under the outer bark smells strongly of root beer

Lemon Sorrel: I grew up calling these 'sour pickle plants' because the grow into a pickle shape before opening into a 3 leaf clover, you can eat the leaves, add a citrus/sour flavor, can use in salads or added to smoothies, loaded with vitamin c

We also found some wild blackberries (no photo)

Poor Man's Pepper: in the mustard family, use the seeds, can also sprinkle over soups and salads

We found an apple tree in the middle of Central Park from the 1800's, so random!

Common Plaintain: can use the leaves baked to eat like kale chips

Burdock: you eat the root like a potato though it's related to artichokes

Saturday, August 2, 2014

July 2014: Weekends full of family and friends

The Fourth of July in New York (Friday) was an overcast day due to a passing hurricane and Clay and I spent the entire day inside reorganizing, purging, and deep cleaning.  Saturday morning we met up with Joanie and shared breakfast at the Standard Hotel’s Grill before walking north on the High Line then walking back down to Chelsea Market (the former Nabisco factory turned food hall) at street level before having lunch at The Gansevoort Hotel.  Joanie then went back to her hotel to meet up with Mary while we went back to Chelsea Market to see 2 couples (+1 new baby) from Sydney!  We then joined Joanie and Mary for an Italian dinner at Amaranth Restaurant in the Upper East Side near their hotel.  The next day I was able to attend the last running of 'The Realistic Joneses' (play featuring Toni Collette) with Joanie, Mary, and Da.

The weekend of August 11th Clay was in East Hampton with Joanie, Mary, and Da walking on the beach, eating seafood, and trying out our new inflatable kayak.  Meanwhile I was in the City with my college girlfriend from 705, Lauren.  Friday I showed her my office and the Hudson Yards room, then we walked Mr. Duke to Gracie Mansion (NYC's official mayor's residence) and had dinner at Candle Cafe, my favorite vegan restaurant, before grabbing some 16 Handles FroYo (frozen yogurt) and staying up late watching National Geographic documentaries 'The '90's The Last Great Decade.'  On Saturday Mr. Duke Pug and I showed Lauren the 82nd Street NYC Greenmarket where I compost our weekly food scrapes before watching more documentaries on decades.  That evening we walked the High Line and grabbed a taco and ice cream in Chelsea Market before having dinner at La Bottega in Meatpacking and heading to my favorite UES local bar, Penrose, to catch up with a Winthrop University friend for late drinks.  On Sunday we slept in and watched some more tv before shopping summer sales in Rockefeller Center and walking the Brooklyn Bridge which included stopping at  the only full West Elm Market before she caught an Uber to the airport.  

Right after Lauren left I raced to Broadway at Times Square to see a friend from our Hillsong NYC Connect Group star as the leading female in 'Holler if you Hear Me,' a musical based on the music of Tupac.

The next Saturday Clay and I met with others from Hillsong NYC to volunteer at The Father’s Heart, a charity that helps New Yorkers with a food pantry, soup kitchen, food stamps, legal help, GED and ESL classes, etc.  Their motto is “To declare and demonstrate God’s love through practical expressions of compassion.” This ministry is very well organized, in the morning volunteers are split into groups and given the smallest of tasks so minimal training is needing and you can just start cranking out work when the doors open.  Within an hour and a half we served 732 individuals.  Guests who would like breakfast sit down and are served a hot meal of pancakes, bacon, fried eggs, and coffee and juice; they are continuously served plates until they want no more.  Then they go through a line to receive their bags of food that contain 9 meals.  Clay was in the kitchen helping fry eggs and I was at the door greeting and saying goodbye to people while also registering those that were new to the food pantry and needed id cards made.  A number of people were deformed or had disorders, many who I tried to register had no identification and no permanent address other than the homeless shelter where they were staying.  It was a very grounding and incredible experience and we felt just as blessed as those who walked through the doors.  Afterwards I had a Ladies Lunch with the women of our married couples Connect Group  and that night Clay went out with the husbands to a bar with vintage arcade games.

The last weekend of July Clay and Gina visited but they get their own post!