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Kick start your day with a good breakfast

A Wall of Women

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Here I am, at the ripe old age of “Mind your own business!”, and I participated in my first protest, Women’s March on NYC. The atmosphere was electric! Until now, I’ve always been a spectator, stopping for a few minutes on the sidelines to see what’s going on. Today, I marched up the middle of Fifth Avenue, chanting “This is what democracy looks like!” and singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” while the carillon of St. Thomas Episcopal Church rang out the tune.

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I was with old friends, one of whom’s father at 88 years old walked with us the whole mile and a half, and then some to find a bite to eat afterwards. On our way to the pizzeria, he asked to stop and sit down for a moment, but when he saw a young woman take her sneaker off because her foot hurt so much, he walked his chair over to her and insisted she sit down. Imagine Donald Trump doing that….

There were boys and girls, men and women–everyone intent on getting the message across that a large swath of America cares very deeply about decency, our fellow citizens, refugees, civil rights, and women’s rights. But they did it respectfully with peace, love, and laughter.

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The cops were just as steadfast and stoic as you’d imagine. They re-routed the crowds with calm and good humor, watched without judgment, and protected everyone.

My favorite sign of the day was one word, black type, all caps, on a white background: GEEZ.

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Give Yourself a Hand…

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A handmade show of support, that is! Why should you always give someone else the love?

One of the greatest inspirational authors of our age, Louise Hay, had healed her life and millions of others’ with the simple idea, “That which we constantly affirm becomes true for us.” Inspire yourself…congratulate yourself…love yourself and watch what happens.

I’m at 30 days in my promise of “30 days…30 handmade projects.” I have to admit, of course, certain days were less productive than others, but I cooked, sewed, knitted, cross-stitched, cut and glued enough to feel great! Why stop now?

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Look! I Made It Myself!

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Remember as a kid what a rush it was to show off something you’d made yourself? If we were lucky, our parents or teachers made a fuss and displayed it so we could bask in the accomplishment (if you didn’t get this kind of praise, blame Dr. Spock who felt that excessive compliments did not foster independence). This is purely my own unscientific belief, but I would argue that making anything by hand–food, clothes, a card, a simple, useful little item you probably take for granted–stimulates the brain, encourages creativity, and saves money. This book by Matthew Crawford purports to present “the immense psychological and intellectual satisfactions of making and fixing things.” With an author bio like this, I’d be inclined to believe him: Matthew Crawford is a philosopher and mechanic. He has a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the University of Chicago and served as a postdoctoral fellow on its Committee on Social Thought. Currently a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia, he also runs Shockoe Moto, an independent motorcycle repair shop.

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To test my and Crawford’s theory, I’m embarking on “A Month of Making It Myself.” 30 days…30 handmade projects. While I didn’t make the knitted sunglasses case in the photo above all in one day (it took a weekend and a weekday evening), I’m happy with it.

Easy as pie: 50 stitches on size 3 needles: 10 rows at the bottom; 6 rows of two contrasting colors 5 times, a row of eyelet stitch, and a final 10 rows before you bind it off. Fold it in half, sew up the bottom and side seam, lace a ribbon through the eyelet, and you’re done!

This also made me stop in at one of my favorite shops in Manhattan–M&J Trimming where happiness is buttons and bows, boas and crystals, ribbons and decals by the dozen. image

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This is Why I Love New York

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I went into this Irish pub, Trinity on East 84th Street, a “Lady” and I came out “Beth.”

I didn’t have to drive, I didn’t have to make a reservation. I recalled a good review I’d read, oh, somewhere…I thought I’d try to find my beloved old piano bar Brandy’s, so I headed down East 84th Street and found this narrow little Irish pub with a welcoming glow.

There were only three people at the bar and the bartender was on his cell phone. I sat, opened my book, and ordered a Stella. Within the hour, I was laughing with the couple beside me who’d eloped to be married in Central Park years ago and come every year to celebrate from Athens, Georgia. We talked about di Blasio, Bloomberg, the music business, publishing, airBnB, and dogs… a lot about our dogs.

By the time I left, two Stellas and a wee smashin’ later (for the road), I was “Beth” to my new friends and the bartender Barry.

And that’s why I Love NY

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Simplest. Breakfast. Ever.

Natural, chunky peanut butter on fresh banana--it doesn't get much easier than this!

Natural, chunky peanut butter on fresh banana–it doesn’t get much easier than this!

In a world where you’re asked for yet another password every time you turn around and the iterations of coffee at Starbucks are damn near endless, the idea that there’s a “value in simplicity,” as the New York Times reports today is almost laughable. Yes! We all want a less-complicated life more than anything. A brand and corporate identity consultancy, Siegel & Gale, just came out with their Global Brand Simplicity Index. Of the ten top U.S. brands, seven are food-related, chain restaurants and two supermarkets. If you’re looking for simplicity, why go farther than your own fridge and natural ingredients? So, I’m all for seeing Trader Joe’s and Kroger on here, but I say, “Huh?” when it comes to the chains. Why drive to McDonald’s, Chipotle, or Dunkin’ Donuts, for overly processed food when you can feed yourself well with the greatest of ease at home? A complex question to ponder why I’m nibbling at this tasty, simple snack.

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Best Friends and Bloody Marys

It’s the eagerly anticipated reunion weekend for the St. Bart’s Players of the 1980s, a stellar group of performers whose common bond is long rehearsals, hours of singing, dancing, and acting up a storm under the hot lights, and many more hours of cast parties, tech shows, and gossip.

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In my tenure, all of this mayhem was orchestrated by Tom Briggs who can’t come up from North Carolina this weekend. His talents are too many to count: actor/dancer/singer; director; administrator; juggler. Oh, just to hear his wry digs. Tommy, you’ll have to come up soon and we’ll “take it from the edge.”

Stacy Einhorn, Katherine Wolf, Kim Selby, Ellen Gould in "The Boyfriend"

Stacy Einhorn, Katherine Wolf, Kim Selby, Ellen Gould in “The Boyfriend”

Classic American musicals were our strength: “Gypsy,” “Fiorello!” “Working,” and so many more. In the case of “L’il Abner,” however, the only thing strong was the smell of what came out of frightened animals carried onto an unfamiliar stage!

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We never saw the poor woman who played Moonbeam McSwine at St. Bart’s ever again.

Somehow, skinny, awkward me got the role of Appasionata Von Climax in “L’il Abner.” I made it work.

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“Never act with animals or children” was advice we should’ve taken!

Having done Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green’s brilliant musical “On the Town,” we’re off to see the new Broadway revival this afternoon. And now for the Bloody Mary part: Sardi’s before the show. I can taste it already.

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While I’m in the midst of this creative, funny, energizing, beloved group of friends, I’ll be remembering another St. Bart’s Player, Bob Smith. It’s been a very long time since I saw him last, but I’ll never forget his smile, his kindness, his dancing, or his quiet strength. Here’s to you, Bob. xx00 Scan_20141018 (3)

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Food Porn

I grew up in the warm embrace of Time, Inc., the publishing company founded in 1923 by Henry Luce and Briton Hadden. My father moved us east from my hometown of Chicago to take a job as an ad salesman for Fortune magazine in NYC in  1962.

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Time, Inc. sent my parents a silver cup upon the birth of my sister later that year. This generous corporate parent moved us west to Mill Valley, CA, and east again to Chappaqua, NY, as my father climbed the ranks. It straightened my teeth, gave my brother his first job, and ensured my father a cushy retirement. That’s a long way to explain why I love magazines. When I see a glossy, perfect-bound collection of ads and editorial, I literally salivate. Imagine my excitement when my eyes fell on the October Food issue of Conde Nast Traveler Saturday morning.

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Let’s take a tour.

What stopped me: 

Martin Parr’s photograph of a bowl of juicy red grapefruit on a breakfast table in Abergavenny, Wales with the red and white tablecloth and the charming little mat printed with a Constable painting beneath the delectable meal.

Rick Bayless’ tortas, available at Tortas Frontera at Chicago O’Hare, voted the best airport food in the world.

The photo and review of Three Chimneys, a hotel on the Isle of Skye which sources its seafood from the docks just steps away.

What I dog-eared to read later:

The editor’s letter from Pilar Guzman, “Never Waste a Meal” (I can’t be the only person who never passes by the editor’s letter, or they would’ve stopped taking up valuable, salable space long ago)

“Olive Oil Odyssey,” the story of Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli (known as the Frankies for their Brooklyn restaurants) eating their way through Sicily

“Supertaster,” a profile of Padme Lakshmi

“Catskills Collective,” upstate NY small-town restaurateurs creating a new culinary weekend getaway

What I hated:  

The infographic, “Here’s Where You Should Go…” God, they’re so annoying–just give me a straightforward narrative, please!

The Q&A with Thomas Keller’s partner Laura Cunningham: the questions are so dull (“Go-to in-flight meal or snack?” “Two surprising things I bring on board are…?”) and her responses which couldn’t have been more bland; I had her mixed up in my mind with Laura Shaine Cunningham, author of a delightful memoir called Sleeping Arrangements

This issue is 134 pages, so I’m obviously missing a lot: “Peru’s Melting Pot” (same old story that Peru will be the new international cuisine of the moment–hasn’t happened yet!), “Magic Kingdom” (Abu Dhabi? Women in chador? Horrible), “The Alchemist” on Andre Balasz (don’t care a bit).

Still, for a rainy Saturday afternoon, there’s almost no better entertainment than page after page of full-bleed photos of well-made food and the beautiful spaces in which it’s possible to consume it. As I turn the last page (a collage of chic, retro cocktail napkins from hotels and bars around the world), I’ll raise a glass of wine to the men who seduced generations with slick paper and smart writing.

 

 

 

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The Morning After

The regret…the sadness…the compulsion to do it again…I’m feeling all of this about…last night’s Horace Greeley High School reunion!

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I’m so sorry and disappointed I won’t see these old classmates again today for more laughs and memories and news and photo-sharing. Has any class ever had a 41st year reunion? (I’d better watch what I say or I’ll be roped into organizing it!)

I haven’t seen most of my fellow students since our tenth reunion. My, how we’ve matured. Some of us are retiring (in the sense of leaving full-time work; we were never a shy group!), some of us are grandparents, some of us are struggling with the death of not just parents but siblings. I’d say all of the people I talked to last night, despite shaky moments in careers or big transitions or recovery from addiction or loss, feel confident that everything will turn out for the best. I certainly do, after last night!

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The gifts Greeley’s teachers and staff and our parents gave us back then are still paying out today: a foundation of love and encouragement, a safe place to experiment and learn, discipline, drive, and confidence.  I’m so grateful.

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What did Max grow on Yasgur’s farm?

Cows! Max Yasgur was Sullivan County’s biggest milk producer in the late ’60s.

Then came his fateful agreement to host Woodstock, 45 years ago this weekend.

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I was 13, living in Chappaqua, NY, too sheltered, too scared to dream of going. Actually, I probably wasn’t even aware it was happening. But I did spend hours later, blasting Richie Havens’ “Freedom” on the hi-fi to my parents’ dismay, just imaging what kind of life I’d someday make for myself. Let’s just say, to be perfectly honest, that sheltered and scared isn’t too far from the truth. But there’s still time to rock out!

In a nod to Wavy Gravy, still working, fearlessly reaching out to anyone and everyone in need, who wowed the crowd with a smile and “What we have in mind is breakfast in bed for 400,000!” I made what might have been a typical breakfast at Woodstock.

whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter, fresh strawberries, cold milk

whole wheat bread, natural peanut butter, fresh strawberries, cold milk

Peace, everybody.

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The Cheese Plate at Breakfast

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My favorite thing about a French meal is the cheese plate at the end. If I could incorporate that into every meal, I’d be in seventh heaven. When I saw a photo of the juiciest, sweetest-looking watermelon today, I thought, “What about watermelon and feta for breakfast?” (I can hear the howls of protest from France at this leap from their exquisite cart of Brie and Camembert, Epoisses and Emmenthaler to this trendy combo, but there is a big, wide world out there with audacious ideas of satisfaction.) I didn’t have a chance to get to the store today, so I came up with another fruit-and-cheese pairing from what I have in the fridge: tomato and pepper Jack, served with a couple of strips of warm tortilla.

 

A Roma tomato, fragrant and almost sweet, is a good complement to the spicy cheese and nutty   tortilla

A Roma tomato, fragrant and almost sweet, is a good complement to the spicy cheese and nutty tortilla

Havarti and grapes…chèvre and pears…plums and ricotta…of course, the luscious melon and salty feta–there’s no end to the choices, and what a delicious, nutritious start to the day!

 

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