A New Year’s Eve dilemma

When you think of dilemmas on NYE, you might think about what party to attend, what sparkly dress to wear etc.

This is why  I did not see this dilemma coming.

I made this cake.  No, it is not quite as pretty as the one pictured with the recipe.  But it looks decent.  The problem with a fancy NYE cake is how to get it to a NYE party.  Yes, I signed on to bring dessert to a pre-concert dinner at Amber’s.  I should have factored transport in and then decided to make cupcakes or a cheesecake.  But no, I had to pick a cake.  A tall cake.  A cake that is taller than the cake carrier lid. 

So please take note of this cake pre-travel.  It looks somewhat decent.  No promises for what it will look like after traveling to the other end of Minneapolis.

The plan: Tiffany, covered by a sheet or an apron or something to protect her cute outfit against the worst case scenario, will hold the cake while I drive at a snail’s pace toward Amber’s.  We will probably bring forks with just in case things go awry and we need to eat the cake out of the floor of my car, a’la Rachel, Chandler, and Joey on Friends with the world’s best cheesecake.

Alright, I’m off to a prayer meeting for smooth cake transportation.  I’ll let you know how it all goes…

Breakfast at Tiffany’s; versions 2 & 1.

Yesterday I had Rachel over for breakfast.  Because I am SUCH a fancy friend and gourmet chef, I made us baked oatmeal.  Now I understand that doesn’t sound like something you’d want to go to your friend’s house for.  I can see why the guy at the gas station wasn’t overly impressed.  But let’s review: it is not instant oatmeal.  It is a recipe that I have wanted to try for a long time and was already planning to make when I invited her over.  You start with a layer of banana and blueberries, then add the rolled oats+cinnamon+other dry ingredients that I can’t be bothered to remembered.  Then you pour milk+maple syrup+a lightly beaten egg+vanilla over the top, throw on a few more blueberries and chopped nuts, and throw it in the oven.  Then, have it with a cup of delicious coffee, and a toasted english muffin – one half with nutella and one half with homemade crabapple jam from an adorable Sunday school kiddo.  We’ve got ourselves a breakfast.  Yes, I probably could have made Rachel something a little fancier, but she was nice and didn’t complain.  (Click here for the recipe).

And let’s be honest, nothing will top our real Breakfast at Tiffany’s adventure.  (some could argue that we also had breakfast at Tiffany’s yesterday, since my roommate is Tiffany and we were in her/my home).

Let’s travel back to New York to relive the original Breakfast at Tiffany’s experience.

We got up real early, swung through Broadway Bagel, where they serve the best bagels with the best cream cheese, and took our breakfast to-go.  A few subway rides later, we walked along the edge of Central Park toward the shiny snowflake up ahead.  Then we saw it: Tiffany’s. 

We spent a few moments taking in the beautiful window displays, then quickly settled in for a pre-breakfast photoshoot to document our meal. 

Fortunately for us, a kindly older midwestern couple happened upon us, and in addition to being so happy for us that we were having breakfast at Tiffany’s, they also offered to take a picture of us together – something we weren’t sure would happen again since Claire headed back to NJ the evening before. 

Then we settled in for our meal, sitting on the steps in front of the giant vault door, wreath, and fancy lights.

After eating, we checked out the window displays – which were basically our favorite.  Carousels.  Love. 

There was something blissful about sitting outside of Tiffany’s, eating our breakfast, on a quiet Saturday morning.  If you want to experience the quiet side of NYC, head out to a normally busy area around 7:30 in the morning.  It is like the city is yours.  Occasionally a jogger will run by, heading toward Central Park, but otherwise you can just enjoy a peaceful side of the city that not many see.  Take some time to soak in the wonderment of it all.

2011: A Year in Review in Kid Quotes

I had a request for more kindergarten stories… my apologies, my friends.  I have been out of the classroom assessing students for much of December.  Lame for teaching and lame for overhearing some of the great gems that I like to share with you.  To tide y’all over until the end of winter break (and let’s not wish away these remaining days of relaxation and calm) let’s dig into the archives and remember some nuggets of five year old wisdom and hilarity.

January: “You can put a seed in your mouth and then you will have a baby in your mouth!  Because if you swallow a seed, you will have a baby!”

February: Love is giving hugs to somebody.  You feel it in your heart.

March: “Miss K!  Guess what!  I went to the saloon!  They did my hair.”

April: Upon seeing the overhead projector for the first time: student 1: “We have a robot!  What should we name our robot?”  student 2: “It already has a name!  3M!”

May: “I want to call you Mrs. K so we can pretend you are married.  You are married to a boy named Max.  He has pointy hair.  Sometimes he wears blue clothes and jeans.”

June: What is your favorite kindergarten memory?  “Touching your necklace.”

July: Let’s look at a picture of a child chasing a pigeon. 

August: I have nothing to say to represent August.  How lame is that?  Apparently, August is “avoid children month”

September: “Why do you have so many germs on your face?”  Freckles, kid.  Freckles.

October: “Miss K!  I moonwalked all the way from my locker to the classroom!”

November: This is the month in which we learned that if you ever find yourself in a situation where gum-chewing is forbidden, just stick your gum on the top of your head.  Problem solved.

December: me: I’m going to see Santa tomorrow.  What should I ask for?  “hmm.  A girl toy.”  nope – not the drive through.  Santa.

2011: A Year in Review in Pictures (and some words)

If I were to write a Christmas letter, it would probably include some or all of the following:

January: This is my least favorite month.  So it is not surprising I don’t actually have pictures from it.  I will say my greatest accomplishment was probably making a sweet Winter mix CD for me and my sister.  Oh wait, I found a picture.  Twins Fest.  New best friend: Kevin Slowey. 

February: I celebrated my birthday in Florida with my close friends (and the MN Twins).  I grilled for the first time, met a lot of Twins players, and hung out with alligators. 

March: Co-hosted my first baby shower (my in reference to the hosting, not to the having a baby.  I do not have a baby.  I hope that is clear).  Met movie stars at Hope’s annual Film Fest. Wrapped up another season of leading Bible study.  I was introduced to mini cones of joy.  They are a life-changing snack.  Snow melted.  We began vacation planning.

April: Dyed a lot of Easter eggs.  Started the Twins season.  In the snow.  Remembered why I don’t try and make my own caramel.  Hosted Cupcake Camp.   I got a smart board in my classroom (it has since been taken away shared with others).  I got lost a lot.

May: Welcome Baby Elsie!  Welcome Bear.  I told a student, “don’t lick the bus”.  I got my sister all ready for prom.

June:  Weddings, weddings weddings.  Graduated another class of kindergartners.  Procrastinated packing. 

July: Spinster Sister Vacation Take Two: I put my years of studying German and Julie Andrews to good use in visiting Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic to see the beauty of Europe and the sights of The Sound of Music. 

August: Always love spending relaxing quality time up north with the fam.  I also love going to Circus World weddings.  I amazed myself with my cake-pop and cupcake skills. 

September: I went to my last Twins game of the season.  Now I wish I’d said a proper goodbye to half the team 99% of the team.  I said hello to a new group of students. 

October: Baby Jeremiah was born.  I did my first photoshoot of a family.  I learned to bake a three layer turtle cake. 

November: I baked my first pie.  I visited my first tree lot.  I contemplated buying my “first” real Christmas tree.  I decided I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment. 

December: I pre-Christmassed in NYC.  Discovered my love of peppermint tea.

See you soon, 2012.

Feliz Navidad from Julio

I’d like you to meet Julio, my favorite NYC horse.  I spent a little bit of time getting to know Julio on Sunday afternoon, and I’d like to give you the chance to get to know him as well. Here are some fun facts about Julio that I learned. 

  1. Julio loves Christmas (as evidenced by his choosing to wear a Santa hat)
  2. Julio’s favorite food is carrots (as evidenced by the carrots in the carriage)
  3. Julio’s favorite color is dark green (as evidenced by the color of the fabric in the carriage he chooses to pull).
  4. Julio has been chauffeuring people around New York City since 1862 (as evidenced by the black and white photo) 
  5. Julio loves New York, but his favorite part of the city is Central Park (he spends a lot of his time there).
  6. Julio doesn’t actually speak Spanish (as the title of this post implies) but rather, Portuguese.  I know this because our driver was originally from Brazil.  Unfortunately I don’t know how to say Merry Christmas in Portuguese and saying thank you, hello, or where is the bathroom wasn’t as catchy of a title for the blog post, so I went with Spanish.  I’m sure Julio can still understand it though.
  7. Julio loves America (as evidenced by the flag in his carriage)
  8. For as much time as Julio has spent in Central Park, he has surprisingly enough never gone ice skating at Wollman Rink or ridden on the carousel.
  9. Julio is a people person.  He meets lots of people in any given day.  He may have told us we were his favorite new friends.
  10. Julio brings the magic into Christmas at Central Park.

I have always wanted to go on a horse drawn carriage ride.  As magical as it would have been to tour Salzburg in this manner this summer, I’m glad that I got to share this experience with Rachel Larson – she was the perfect travel companion for ridiculous magical dream fulfillment.  And Christmas in Central Park – a perfect backdrop.

Boxing Day Confessions

Christmas was warm, cozy, and bright.  I love my family.  I love celebrating our Savior’s birth in a relaxing fashion that includes Swedish meatballs and eskimo pie.  I’m not going into a ton of detail about the festivities of our day or the traditions we follow.  Partly because I couldn’t be bothered to take pictures throughout the day.  Partly because my sister-in-law just started a blog, and I am hoping that she will just cover those topics for me. 😉

I do have some clothing-related items I feel a need to get off my chest:

Christmas fashion: In an effort to pack as quickly as possible, because Christmas Eve tradition holds that Laura will be running late, probably due to baking something that naturally takes longer than expected, and arrive home for the holiday slightly stressed, I decided to repack my New York ensembles (I promise they were fresh from the laundry), which I call subtly Christmas.  That is: combinations of red and green, but not the usual shade of red and green.  It is covertly festive.  And since I wore them two weeks ago, they require no thinking – just grab them from the laundry pile and go.

Getting Dressed:  I scare easily.  I can’t remember if we have discussed this or not, but it is true.  And when I walked into my old bedroom at my parents’ house, thinking of the outfit I would be changing into, I saw my mom and screamed.  She was just standing there.  She wasn’t being sneaky, scary, or doing anything out of the ordinary.  Just standing.  And I screamed.  Yep.

What I Packed:  In my haste, I just grabbed a gray t-shirt from my clean laundry pile (goal for today: put that all away).  I pulled it out of my duffel on Christmas morning to put it on, and I saw that I had not actually grabbed a plain gray T.  Nope.  I’d grabbed a gray t-shirt covered with a design of dark blue/gray blobs and bright pink butterflies.  Normally I would think that nothing says Christmas like pink butterflies, but that didn’t actually seem to go with my reddish cardigan and green scarf.  Hmm.  Dilemma.  Could I wear the loungey shirt I had on?  Nope, already spilled coffee all over myself.  Does my mom have anything in her closet I could wear?  Doesn’t really look like it… Solution?  Wear my shirt backwards.  Genius?  Maybe.  Ridiculous?  Probably.  Remember, it was under a cardigan and had a scarf covering the neckline.  Totally not noticeable(?)

p.s.  My Christmas trip highlight was skating at Rockefeller Center.  I put it up on Christmas Eve, which I realize is not exactly a prime blog-reading day.  If you haven’t had a chance to read that post, please relive that dream with me by clicking here, or by simply scrolling down/over to the previous post.  Thanks, you are my favorite blog reader.

p.p.s.  I must confess that I am wearing my butterfly shirt again today, but facing forward.  I couldn’t help it.  Sometimes choosing clothes to wear is just too hard, and it was the first thing I saw this morning afternoon when I got dressed…

Where the Dream Began… Rockefeller Center

Merry Christmas Eve, friends!

As my Christmas gift to you this year, I’d like to invite you to come ice skating with me below the tree at Rockefeller Center.  This is really the mutual lifelong dream which began my Christmas trip to New York with Rachel. 

My whole life I have dreamed of skating in this magical place.  Let me tell you: it did not disappoint.

We saw the tree from a distance – glorious in all of its lights.

We got in line, and thought, “are we going to make it through the line in time?”  because we knew there was a private event happening after the next skating timeslot.  We couldn’t stop taking pictures and gazing at the tree while we waited.  It was the most festive and pretty queue I’ve stood in. 

Then, they let us in!  It was a tremendously exciting moment.  The moment we knew our dreams would be coming true.

We went into a super tiny warming house, bought our tickets (cost an arm and a leg, but TOTALLY worth it) and then got our skates.  We had them store our boots and bags.

We step out onto the ice.  This is always a terrifying moment for me, as I generally skate once or twice a year, and in that first second of finding your skating legs, you never knew how it is going to turn out.  Falling the moment I stepped on the ice wasn’t part of the dream.  And thankfully it wasn’t part of the reality either. 

We began to skate.  There was Christmas music playing softly in the background.  Along one of the long sides of the rink you could look up and see the people waiting in line.  On the two short sides of the rink, you could look up and see trees covered in white lights, along with gold and silver flags lining the rink, and blowing in the wind.  And let’s not forget the throngs of people standing on the sidelines, watching the festivity on the ice below.  Then on the fourth side of the rink, the main attraction, the tree.  If I thought it was a sight to behold while looking at it from eye level, the view of skating below it and gazing up at the colorful splendor, was really something.  

There was a fountain with the iconic golden statue below the tree.  The fountain was the perfect white noise to give you a feeling of privacy, like you were the only ones on the rink, as you couldn’t readily hear the conversations of those around you. 

When we started skating, it was a bit crowded, but soon it thinned out and towards the end of our time on the rink, there were not many people left on the ice at all.  Even at the most crowded times, the rink was still comfortable to easily skate at your own pace (unless your pace is speed skating) because they limit the number of people on at any given time.

on the ice!

It was fun to watch our fellow skaters: the mother and daughter in adorable jackets and hats, the family, the couples, and the pageant winners.  Yes, you heard that correctly.  A group of about a dozen pageant winners/contestants, in their fancy short skirts and coats, complete with sashes that say things such as Miss Arizona Teen USA came on the ice with their videographer.  Utah: great skater who twirls and everything.  Arizona: just like it was impossible to count the number of lights of the tree, it was impossible to count the number of times she fell. 

This evening was Christmas magic at its finest.  We listened to Christmas music, shared Christmas memories and favorite Christmas traditions as we skated rounded and round.  We couldn’t stop smiling – there was so much Christmas joy in our hearts that evening.  And there continues to be overwhelming Christmas cheer whenever I think back on this amazing evening.  Dreams really do come true. 

My writing probably cannot do this event justice, so we’d like to invite you to join us at Rockefeller Center and skate with us, in the video below.  Remember to tie your laces real tight for good ankle support, toss some tinsel in the air, and press play. 

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. 

See you on Boxing Day!

A Christmas Spectacular

Merry Christmas Eve Eve!

On our last day in NYC, the last big thing we did was see the Rockettes.  They call it the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.  And it really is a Christmas Spectacular.  

We joined the throngs waiting to get into Radio City Music Hall, having no idea what lay ahead.  As we entered the music hall, we were blown away from the crowds and the decor.  It was beautiful!  

We eavesdropped on a tour and learned a few fun historical facts.  We sat in the ladies room lounge because we could.  

We found our seats – the very back row, but still a great view. 

We perused our programs, and looked confusedly at the 3D glasses.  We learned that Santa would be telling us when to put them on.  I’m not sure if this increased or decreased the confusion.

The show was SUPER fun!  I would totally recommend it to a friend.

Here are some things I was surprised by:

  • I did not realize the Rockettes also sing?  I just verified this on the internet, and the audition information informs me that if you are cast as a dancer, your voice quality is not as important as the general ability to sing and dance at the same time.
  • I did not know there would be a storyline outside of high-kicks and sparkles.  But it makes sense – the girls need time for all their costume changes.
  • I did not know there were kids in the show (don’t worry, I also learned they are provided with tutors since rehearsals/performances take place during the school year/school day)
  • I did not know they would end with O Holy Night and a live nativity complete with camels and sheep. 

Things that I particularly enjoyed or was impressed by:

  • In one of the scenes, there are giant furry toys that are singing and dancing.  The ability to dance in the equivalent of an intense mascot costume truly impressed me. 
  • When the Rockettes dress up as toy soldiers, they do this thing where they all line up and they slowly fall like dominoes.  It was so great.  
  • Super fun costumes!
  • The backdrop really made you feel like you were in NYC!  (which we were, but still, it was great) 
  • The dancing and the precision was superb.

All in all, it was a fantastic way to end our trip!  

Santaland! Santaland! Santaland!

Can we talk about Macy’s?  Because Macy’s was an amazing Christmas experience.  Christmas joy to the max.

To prepare for the big day, we watched half of Miracle on 34th Street the night before. 

Because we care a lot about Santa (or because we don’t like long lines) or some combination of the two, we checked to see what time Santaland opened, and planned our morning accordingly.

When we walked into Macy’s, Christmas spirit was hanging from the ceilings, lighting up our hearts and lives.  Then we rode the escalators up to the 8th floor.  We thought the rest of the store was decked out in holiday cheer, but we were not prepared for the true magic of Santaland. 

Santa’s oh-so-helpful elves told us where to stand in the line.  They also told us things like, “Feel free to stop and take pictures, but then know that it is ok for other groups to go around you.”  To enter the north pole, we went on a train ride – we could see children playing in the snow and ice skating out the windows.  We could feel the wheels of the train turning below the floor, and hear the whistle as we slowed to a stop.  Walking through the north pole, we took in all the sights of a winter wonderland filled with all sorts of Christmas cheer. 

Soon, it was our turn to see Santa.  An elf greeted us at the entrance, and another elf walked us to Santa’s room (seriously, a genius set-up to ensure children only see one santa, but also keep the line moving at a pretty fast clip).

Santa was so happy to see us.  He said, “I remember you from when you were this tall!”  This was actually my first time seeing Santa, but I’ve been told I have a familiar face, so I will forgive him this confusion. 

We took a picture with him, and he asked what we wanted for Christmas.  We knew that we were going to be mailing him a letter, so we let him know to watch for it.  He said that if he didn’t get it in time, he would surprise us. 

After picking up our picture, we headed to the in-store Starbucks.  To maximize the Starbies experience, we got our drinks at a little kiosk on one floor and we drank them at a Starbucks on another floor.  While drinking our delicious holiday drinks, we wrote to Santa and tried the bread pudding that his elves gave us upon our exit from Santaland. 

We browsed the ornament section of the floor and then dropped our letter in the mail for Mr. Claus. 

That night, we found ourselves walking back past Macy’s on our way to the Empire State Building.  You might think this is because we are poor planners.  I like to think it is because we wanted to ensure we would experience the full magic of Macy’s in both the daylight and at night.  Because Christmas magic was bursting everywhere at 34th Street in NYC.