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Thursday, February 21, 2019

My City, My Pearl

It's my city...it's everyone's city....whether you live there or not, New York City energizes you and opens your eyes to great possibilities.

Sis took the train from CT and I took the bus from NJ and we met at Grand Central for the #5 train uptown to 86th Street. We ate at a nice French restaurant [shared excellent cheese fondue, sidestepped Crepes Suzette] and then went to the jewelry exhibit at the Met, a show that is closing shortly. Sis is a Member, so we got in free. Crowns, belts, collars, bracelets, rings, jade--from all times and all places.

It was a friendly day. We chatted with Peggy and Jane, pals since schooldays in CT., now older women, who were next to us at lunch, and at the Met, with Cathy [sp], who flew into NYC [from CA] to celebrate her 70th bday with her friend and daughter.

I got up for 7 a.m. support group, so I'm tired. Must rest. Good night to you.

$ MONEY SPENT OUT OF POCKET
  • DeCamp bus to NY and back, $7.65 each way, $15.30. [Sis paid for subway with her MetroCard.]
  • I  joined Joyist! Here is the link. I signed on to support the healthy venture with one unlimited coffee week, which I will get later this spring. $40.
  • Lunch with Sis, $43.
  • Tip for tote check at Met, $1.
DAILY TOTAL: $99.30



Wednesday, February 20, 2019

School Library Lens

I helped out at the school library again today, from 9:45 to 12:30.

Big Nate and Harry Potter books move fast. Sometimes I want to stop, flip through and read--today, a biography of Steven Spielberg [I didn't know he lived in NJ as a child!] and a cookbook of Mexican recipes. [Punch loves flan, has had it in restaurants, and the recipe in this book called for just 1/2 cup sugar, not too bad. Didn't have time to make a copy; will Google for something similar.]

Hell, I would love to sit there a whole day or a few days with good lighting and a comfy chair and just read.

I give the kids the benefit of the doubt if the system says they have an overdue book--or they can't take out a new one.

It says you took out Ivy + Bean in December 2018. You will return that, right?

Then the child either says earnestly I returned that already, it's in the box or I think it's home on my book shelf. 

I understand, because Punchy was often in the same situation, and then I would find a book at home stamped with the school library name in black.

This morning, a cute boy with freckles said he had returned a book.

His pal, a boy about a head taller, with floppy brown hair, standing close by his side, said, He reads a lot. He reads all the time.

It was touching, the friendship, the way the one boy vouched for the other. So sweet. Boyhood. And sure enough, the librarian found the missing book.

Have a good night.

$ MONEY OUT OF POCKET
  • We let Punch put in a Starbucks mobile order that she picked up on the drive to school. She also got a lunch box, with fruit, sandwich, raw vegs. $14.55.
  • Convenience store to get 3 bananas, milk and small, 50-cent bag of Dipsy Doodles. $6.60.
  • Starbucks, walking distance from school, for lunch, snacks, grande drink--I was hungry after library, had money on Starbucks app and was going back to school at 2:10 for early dismissal due to snow. $22.66.
  • Received email from Glendarragh Lavender Farm in Maine, with SPRINGCLEAN free shipping code, which saved $12. Glass bottle of liquid hand soap and glass refill bottle with twice that amount. That farm, and the products, are beautiful --and glass tops plastic, of course. $31.
DAILY $ TOTAL: $74.81.




Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Producers

Today was productive. My friend Rachael and I both got blowouts [at separate Montclair salons], did our makeup and met at her house with Mark Wyville, a gifted photographer who lives right down the block from me.

Rach, a health coach, mother of three [including Figgy's dear friend] and chef with amazing recipes up her hot pink cashmere sleeve, will be launching her website soon. Mark was taking photos for it, and I'm in some shots, cooking with Rach. [I'm one of her clients, too.] Process shots included squeezing a fragrant navel orange for the dressing on a farro dish; holding a bowl of turkey Bolognese served over spaghetti squash; scattering chopped parsley over a lovely big salad; clinking wineglasses.

It was fun, but also work, and the shoot was from about 1 to 3. After that, we dug into the Bolognese [yum], plus roasted cauliflower and Brussels sprouts--and, for dessert, plain Icelandic yogurt with a dollop of lemon curd and fresh raspberries on top.

I made that last treat for my family tonite, fixing Fig a separate parfait with almond-milk "yogurt" and just berries. I filled my mother's shallow crystal bowl [a wedding gift, I think] with yogurt, some lemon curd and ruby-red berries for me, Dan and Punch. But she promptly ate all the berries--like a hungry bear cub in the mountains--and the lemon, leaving most of the plain yogurt behind for us. Do you have any more curd? she asked after.

Book group with my boot camp friends tonite [they call it Book Camp]. We read Becoming by Michelle Obama. We all liked it. Since MB grew up in Chicago, Becky served Windy City-themed foods--tapered triangles of deep-dish Chicago style pizza and rich, chocolate-lover’s squares made from the first brownie recipe--invented in the 1890s for the Chicago World's Fair. Those friends are something special.

Good night.

$ MONEY OUT OF POCKET
  • Business expense: Blowout, $35 + tips, $45.
  • Business expense: Barbara Eclectic, reading glasses with tortoise-style frames by Peepers [great brand, new to me] with tax, $25.59.
  • Beyond the Bagel, turkey and Swiss on everything w lettuce, tomato and a little mayo, $7.94.
  • Pink Bungalow, beautiful pink and gold Lilly Pulitzer luggage tag for future getaways, with tax, $12.80.
  • Starbucks, energy bar, grande decaf latte, really cute picture frame and four 2-packs of dark chocolate graham crackers because I thought I'd bring them to book group but then Becky said she had it all covered, $23.72.
DAILY DOLLAR TOTAL: $115.05.



Monday, February 18, 2019

Born to Run

I rested this weekend but am back in the saddle. 

Punch returned by 11 a.m. from her Mimi's--it’s a 2.5-hour drive--and was up and running with two play dates, one til 4:30ish and another [part trampoline jumping, part talent show practice] with dance partner from 5:40 to 6:40. She ate some dinner, then read the book Flush for 15 minutes of the school’s 6-hour reading challenge. Each child who completes it gets a ticket to Six Flags!

Now that Punch is nearly 12, the play dates do require less hands-on attention....she and her pal walked back from town, 20 minutes, and the fresh air pinked their noses and cheeks.

But we cannot tune out totally, or God knows, batches of slime might be whipped up; "brownies" made with no recipe, wasting ingredients, making a mess and turning out like a rock; or too much time spent on devices. Dan or I must take those away. These kids are sly, and the internet beckons big-time. Such a huge time waster, and feelings can be hurt via email or text.

Must rest. Good night.

TCOY
  1. Made pumpkin oatmeal.
  2. Talked to Sis [planned Met Museum for this Thursday]--and to my friend Bruce, from Rutgers Daily Targum days.
  3. Shopped for and made healthy dinner....Grace's Mushroom Soup, from the little cookbook we bought on Isle au Haut off the coast of Maine, when we stayed with young Figgy at a lighthouse keeper's house turned into a B&B! I love Judy's recipes in this book. Made some of the soup vegan for Fig, without butter, milk and sour cream.
  4. Applied for another job that interests me; that makes three.
$ MONEY OUT OF POCKET
  • Parking meter, $1.50.
  • Montclair Bread Co., Rosemary Sourdough loaf, $7, and small jar granola, $5, + $1 jar tip, $13.
  • Williams-Sonoma, deep sale on Giada's Lemon Ricotta Cookie Mix [I tucked box in freezer for company/special occasion] and Frosted Gingerbread liquid hand soap. Original prices were $16.95 + $12.95. I paid $9.71 + $3.99. Add tax, $13.96.
  • Punch asked if I could take her and V. to Little Bear Poke for lunch, and I said yes. Bill for three of us, $41.05 + $2 jar tip, $43.05.
  • Girls then walked to Learning Express, the toy store a few doors up the street. Punch had the $20 gift card we gave her for Val Day. She needed a bit more for her purchases. 22 cents.
  • I was after a jar of lemon curd for recipe my lovely friend Rachael, health coach, told me about: Icelandic yogurt with a dollop of lemon curd and fresh raspberries. Want to make for family, too. Got almond milk/nondairy yogurt for Fig, and she can't have the lemon curd [butter]. Wasn't sure ShopRite would have the jar, so went to Kings. While there, got chicken and other things on sale, plus fresh dill for the mushroom soup [above]. $38.55.
  • ShopRite next, where things really were much more affordable. I had $17 and 3 coupons and bought a lot, including 24 oz. baby Bella mushrooms,10 oz. white mushrooms, butter, milk, 4 shiny green apples, a lemon and more. Was dismayed to see the exact high-end French brand of lemon curd [Bonne Maman] on sale for $3.99. I had paid $5.49 at Kings, but didn't have energy to exchange/bring it back, etc...$16.53.
DAILY TOTAL: $126.81.

Good night to you.













Saturday, February 16, 2019

New York Minute

Our room looked just like this. Platform bed,
Archipelago Designs faux fur throw, so cozy.
Amazing view of glittery city.
It was a nice metropolitan getaway. Dan and I relaxed and had fun. Travel notes:
  1. Mass transit. We took the bus and two subways on Saturday. We left Montclair near 2 and were in our hotel room on the Lower East Side by 3:10 p.m. 
  2. Three’s company. I had to bring that darn CPAP machine along.
  3. High style. Dan booked a room for one night on the 14th floor of The Public, a hip, glam, young hotel designed by Ian Schrager of Studio 54 fame. Nice minimally designed rooms with thoughtful details, from small, cube/shaped fridge with crystal-clear door to large, flat shower head [warm rain pouring, not dribbling] and modern reading lights over the bed--you fold them into the wall. Website tagline: LUXURY FOR ALL.
  4. Cafe society. We remembered that our nephew, Chris; his beautiful, French partner, Marie-Camille; and their friend Nick live in an apartment just a quick walk from the hotel. We texted them and they suggested we meet at 9:30 at Anyway Cafe on 2nd Street in the East Village. It was a cozy, quirky little Russian place. Items on our table included absinthe, espresso martinis, gravlax, caviar. Live music. We really enjoyed it. Felt like we were somewhere far, far away from Montclair--Europe, maybe.
  5. The moon! We were on such a high floor that the moon seemed really close as we went to sleep....if we opened the sheer drapes and craned our necks, we could see its texture, its light so bright. [You can also push the "drapery" control button to lower the shade.]
  6. Broadway show. "The Book of Mormon" was funny, energetic, witty--a lot of rollicking laughter in our audience seats. I will admit some of it was more actively obscene than I anticipated--and vivid images of the "Spooky Mormon Hell Dream" linger. But I love the songs "Turn It Off" and "Man Up"--have them on Spotify already--and the dancing, jumping, joking. Laughter is healthy. Such great music. "Hello," the opening song, features multiplying Mormon doorbell-ringers holding their blue books. I also didn’t know coffee was against Mormon rules until I saw the Starbucks-style cups in hell! I liked learning about Mormonism--I think the only Mormon I’ve known was a handsome, blonde, clean-cut, all-American college guy who was in our group of interns at The Nation magazine in the summer of 1982. Wow, working at a liberal magazine in the Village--how did that fit in? [That was also when AIDS was emerging in the U.S., and the Mormon show depicts the epidemic in Uganda, where the young missionaries live.]
Punchy comes home tomorrow....school holiday. We are back in our humble living room. 

TCOY
  1. Good skin care. Like my naked + thriving detox oil for face.
  2. Liked showering with the body wash at hotel.
  3. Time and space, strolling, going to Russian place with Chris & Co., checking out a tiny place called Caffe Vita on Ludlow Street, where the latte was just what I was after. Beans I had never tried before; rich, creamy cap; beautiful design made by barista Megan. 
  4. Getting to know Dan again/better. We talked and listened and it was fun. We didn't have to focus on Punch and we couldn't bicker, as we tend to in car, because we were on public transportation! I learned things about him that I didn't know even after almost 5 years of dating and 28 years of marriage. For instance, when we walked by Orchard Street, he told me his mom took him there to get a leather jacket when he was heading to Beloit College in Wisconsin. He said people put things out on the sidewalks to sell. I think he was wearing that brown leather jacket the night of our first kiss.
$ MONEY OUT OF POCKET
Dan booked hotel and got show tickets....I know that is our money, but I didn't make the purchases. Here is money I spent Saturday and Sunday:
  • Blowout and pedicure, $35 each. Plus tips, total $88.
  • One falafel in pita for me and Dan to share + jar tip, about $9.
  • At hotel, large bag of honey-mustard breadsticks, small coffee + jar tip, about $14.
  • Tip for housekeeping, $5.
  • Tip for holding our four bags [including tote and CPAP] while we walked around the Lower East Side today, $4.
TOTAL FOR TWO DAYS: $120.


Friday, February 15, 2019

Lettuce

I peeled a lot of greens out of my purse today. But this did include a family gift and household staples.
Special issue, fabulous retro cover.
$ MONEY OUT OF POCKET
  • CVS, Nutri-Grain bars for Punch, 2 small valentine treats on sale for her and her talent show partner, $5.43.
  • Parking meter, 50 cents.
  • Joyist, healthy breakfast bowl with mashed root veg, roasted tomatoes, one egg, crispy kale, etc., $10.
  • Print of winter in Maine painting by my talented brother-in-law, David Hurley, and I'm sure he undercharged us, $40.
  • CVS again, went for 2 Rxs and got staples, including 3 bags lavender bath salts, Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day honeysuckle liquid hand soap, dried figs, Raisin Bran and nuts, because I had a coupon for $10 off purchase of $60 or more. [Did include indulgence: Full-color keepsake issue of LIFE Magazine devoted to Mary Poppins "the Magic, the Adventure, the Love," cover price sky-high $13.99.] $73.08.
  • Drink and dinner out with Elaine at Applebee's; she insisted on using her $25 gift card. So we each spent $23.
  • ShopRite, organic milk and $25 gift card [very late Christmas gift] for goddaughter visiting from Florida. $29.50.
TOTAL: $181.51.

RUNNING TOTAL FOR THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY: $1764.22, SO $117.61 DAILY FOR THE 15 DAYS OF FEBRUARY, SO FAR. [THAT $500 SATURDAY....SIGH.] I DO STILL HAVE TIME TO BRING DAILY AVERAGE DOWN FOR THE MONTH. BUT DAN AND I GOING INTO NYC OVERNIGHT TOMORROW FOR 28th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY.

COMPARE TO JANUARY: AVERAGE OF $71.88 DAILY. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Rocky Road for Chocolate Nibbling

Today was a bit of a rocky road. I had a good start, but indulged in a few smallish chocolate treats. Oh well, at least it wasn't a bag of Reese's PB Cups. And tomorrow is another day.

Dan flew to Charlottesville, leaving the house at 6 a.m.--he was hired to write 60-Second Novels at a big event there and will be back tomorrow afternoon.

I helped out at the elementary school library again, this time from 9:30 to 1. Caught glimpses of Punch and some of her pals, looking fresh-faced, a couple wearing red [one for Valentine's Day, one for Chinese New Year]. I checked in a lot of the books that the children returned and entered a lot of new donated books into the catalog system. Books about gems & crystals, Legos, dinosaurs, reptiles and other subjects passed through my hands--plus novels, including Marley: A Dog Like No Other.

Spent a far amount of money. Long, busy day. Must rest. Good night.

$ MONEY OUT OF POCKET
  • Donation, $2.
  • Someone I know left wallet home and needed coffee money, $5.
  • Parking meters, $3.50.
  • Blue Mercury, Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard. It's a light color. I got a tiny sample last week and used it for days. Feel like it really is radiant around the eyes, for younger look. I can use that power in a dainty magic sponge-tipped wand. $30 + tax, $31.99.
  • Cafe Giotto, small portion gnocchi Bolognese, ice water. With $3 tip, about $19.53.
  • Java Love to work on laptop. Large decaf coffee and slim, crunchy chocolate biscotti, $5.01 + $1 tip, $6.01.
  • Whole Foods dash with Punch between school and CCD. Organic milk, two Theo 70 percent dark chocolate bars [one for Fig], 2 mochi for Punch. $15.50.
  • Special, not too large chocolate-dipped cupcake, $4.
  • Little girl's bake sale [with her Mom] to raise money for animal shelter, $2.
  • Learning Express [toy store] gift card for Punch valentine, $20.
  • Valley Girl [fashion store] gift certificate for Figgy valentine, $20.
  • Punch haircut at 212 Salon, $40 + tips for shampooer and stylist, $52.
  • 2 slices pizza and bottle of water to share at 6:40 p.m. before Punch talent show dance rehearsal with partner, plus jar tip, about $9.
DAILY TOTAL: $190.53.