Happy New Year’s Rockin’ Eve from New York City

The ball will drop in an hour and we are safely ensconced in our hotel at E 38th and Madison Avenue. It was tough getting around today and we even finally ended up taking the MTA subway – albeit in a straight line and for only 5 stops, to get to the Guggenheim Museum uptown.

We started the morning at 5:45 AM, and were at breakfast when the hotel opened the restaurant at 7 AM. We meant to get straight up to the Today Show as soon as we could, but it was so early and the Empire State Building also opened at 7 AM and we hit there by 7:30 and no line, so up we went. There were big lines by the time we left about 45 minutes later, tho, and we patted ourselved on the back for stealing the moment The sunrise was blinding and it was warm on one side of the building until you went around the corner and whew! Boy was it cold! I had my good mittens today and I was glad.

We hoofed it up to 51st and Lexington, the closest Staples we knew of, to buy our poster board and markers to make our sign. By the time we got into the Today Show area, it was about 9:15. And no Al Roker! He was in Pasadena going on about some silly football game tomorrow. Sheesh. We tried to get on camera, and I did get a report from my sister that she saw us for a moment right at 9:30 from an aerial camera that Steve had pointed out and we looked up for a moment and she saw us. maybe you did too? But you couldn’t read our sign from there to be sure. So here’s a picture.

We next went to the MoMA, Modern Museum of Art, which was close by (more Monet’s here). Around 11:30 we hit the wall, hungry and tired and tired by the crowds and the volume was growing by the minute everywhere we went. Most museums are closed on Monday but since today was considered a “holiday Monday” some of them even opened an hour earlier to accomodate the visitors. And we were not alone, that is for sure!

We took a cab back and Steve picked up sandwiches from a nearby deli and we hit the sack for a power nap. Well, a real nap really, since we slept for nearly 2 hours. But we woke refreshed and ready to tackel the MTA subway to get back uptown to the Guggenheim Museum.

Disappointingly the museum was “in a bag” and undergoing renovation. Steve loves that building, it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. There was an interesting exhibition by an artist named Richard Prince, and I spent a lot of time laughing at the jokes in his paintings. (More Monet’ shere, too.)

We left the museum at about 5:30 to take a cab to Paradou, a French restaurant in the hip Meatpacking District. We made reservations a month ago and have been eagerly awaiting the evening. The dinner was amazing, the wine the most expensive I have ever drank probably (and quite good), and the prix fixe menu I am pasting in here since I am afraid the page may disappear from their web site.

New Year’s Eve 2008
~ ~ ~ ~
Amuse Bouche with Champagne Cocktail
~ ~ ~ ~
Lobster Salad with Blood Orange & Espresso Soy Gelée (Wendy)
Wild Mushroom “Cappuccino” with Black Truffle
Pan Seared Foie Gras with White Wine Poached Pear (Steve)
~ ~ ~ ~
Cranberries-Peppercorn Crusted Fillet Mignon
over Saffron Pearl Barley & Bordelaise Sauce (Steve)
Mango & Tarragon Marinated Cod
with White Asparagus & Wild Rice “Pilaf” (Wendy)
Duck Trio – Duck Leg Confit in Cassoulet
with Roast Duck Magret & Duck and Armagnac Sausage
~ ~ ~ ~
Selection of Artisanal French Cheeses paired
with Chef Kfir’s House Made Confiture
~ ~ ~ ~
Tarte aux Marrons
Chausson aux Poires & Noix de Pecan
Bitter Chocolate & Cognac Crème Brûlée (Both of us!! It was so amazing!)

Steve felt so sick afterwards (the espresso put him over the edge) we walked for quite a distance before hailing a cab back to our hotel. We are now safe, and I can tell you in advance the ABC is probab ly going to be the best network to watch the ball drop. We are watching the local news at the moment and they are warning of a big storm coming in tomorrow. We hope it doesn’t effect our flight out and HOME.

It’s been a great trip and I am really glad we came. It’s a heck of a way to celebrate a tenth wedding anniversary and I have always wanted to visit NYC, the place that so many of our favorite movies and television shows have taken place. Tomorrow morning we plan on trying the Today show first thing but my sister told me it is on only from 7-8 AM tomorrow because of the Rose Parade. We then will go up and walk around Central Park since we have only been along one edge so far. We have a car coming at 2:30 to take us to the airport (we are not messing around with a shuttle this time) and our flight out of Newark is around 5:30. We have another car meeting us at SeaTac to get us home in time for Sophia’s late night walk. I can’t wait to see my dog again! (I am so in love with my little pup girl!!)

I better sign off soon so I can focus on watching the ball drop on LIVE television. What a change, I get to see if before all you folks on the West coast! Hah!

Happy New Year!! Have a great 2008!

PS The funniest advertising sign I saw on this trip was for the New York Sports Club. It said, “If your snow angel looks more like a crop circle, call us and we can help”. Hilarious!!

Ok, here’s the rule: When you feel like you are still moving when you are standing still, you are done for the day.

Well, we got a late start today because we did not use an alarm again…basically I hit the shower as soon as I am awake enough to have my brain start thinking about what we were going to do today. It’s obvious we are not going to be able get to everything we thought we could and tomorrow is a last chance to see the Guggenheim Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. We’ll be starting out at the Empire State Building at 7 AM or as close to it as we can get, then we are headed down to Rockefeller Plaza and the Staples store across the street to make our “It’s our 10th wedding anniversary TODAY” sign and pester Al Roker or whoever is doing the weather during the TODAY show and mug for the camera and say hi to all you folks back home.
The Staten Island Ferry is free.

But first let’s talk about today, not the show. We decided we were not here long enough on this trip to waste time getting lost trying to use the subway so got a cab down to the Circle Line pier and went on a 3 hour cruise around the entire Island of Manhattan. It was narrated and very good. Pretty packed. When we got close to the Statue of Liberty so many people went to the side of the boat I became concerned we were tipping so far sideways. I could not even see the statue since it was on the other side of the boat and the only thing I could see was water! Kinda freaky for someone who is scared of drowning (that’s me…)

This is the golf driving range at Chelsea Piers…remember the movie Serendipity??

When we got back from the cruise it was about 3:30 and as we were walking towards Times Square the traffic got worse and worse and we couldn’t find a cab to go back the other way towards South Street Seaport/Pier 17 and the Brooklyn Bridge. So since we were so close and hadn’t seen Times Square yet we dove in. On the way we passed a place we decided to come back to for dinner, Ollie’s Noodle Shop. We each wrote a wish for the new year on a piece of confetti that will be dropped into Times Square tomorrow night. Luckily we were at the beginning of the dinner crowd when we got back and got a table just before 5 PM. I finished the meal with chocolate sorbet served in half of a cacao bean. Steve had pineapple sorbet served in half of a real pineapple.

It’s now almost 9 PM and we are wrapping up for the evening so we can rise and shine early like a bird! This is 3-4 hours earlier than we have been getting to bed the last two nights so I imagine I will be awake at 4 AM or something stupid like that.

Steve took a lot of pictures today so I am only posting the highlights. I am not going to caption most since I didn’t take notes and it is too hard to remember everything.
The Colgate Clock

The Statue of Liberty
Ellis Island

The Brooklyn Bridge

The Chrysler Building

Sky tram that goes to Roosevelt Island

The Red Lighthouse that all of the children wrote letters to the city to save from being torn down.
An area that is falling into the river and so the boat had to travel real slow thru this area so as not to cause any waves.

Times Square photos

The Wishing Wall. Ours will be included.

Live from New York City…It’s Saturday Night!

I’ve been waiting a long time to say that. It has been a long day and we are beat! We’re still on foot, except for one cab ride near the end. Tomorrow we will finally have to brave the subway system, alone. Our friend Colette, a native New Yorker now living near us in Seattle, is here in NY but sick as a dog from something on the plane on Xmas day. So we are on our own! Loose plans include a harbor tour, dim sum in Chinatown, and a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.

But first, for today. Here is our day in pictures.. .

Our first stop was Grand Central Station. It was the last day of the holiday market that has taken over the station. The one thing on my personal shopping list was fulfilled immediately – leather silk lined gloves from Italy in pink of course. Rheumatoid arthritis has made my hands extremely sensitive to cold and wind goes right thru the seams of my polar fleece gloves. I needed something more sturdy. And I found a canine couture booth and purchase a NYC doggy tank for Sophia.
Rockefeller Plaza and Center.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
It’s nice knowing someone who knows how to operate a camera properly. And we have invested in nice equipment lately, too, in preparation for this trip. You can bet most people’s interior pics of St. Pats don’t look this nice.

Radio City Music Hall as seen from the waiting line for Top of the Rock.
Nice chandelier effect in the atrium to Top of the Rock.

Okay, we got the $2 map that tells us the names of all these buildings as seen from the 70th floor of Rockefeller Center. Buy your own.

On the beam, like the old photo of the Depression-era construction workers who built Rockefeller Center.
A picture together!

The Chrysler Building tucked behind there…

I find this building the most intriguing…it is very cool looking.

The Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Plaza. The crowds were intense in this area and for several blocks surrounding. We had to physically push our way thru to get across streets. There were cops everywhere trying to control the throngs of people trying to cross against the walk signals. I made the obligatory “moo” herd of cows joke.

Trump Tower-New York. I miss The Apprentice (the real apprentice…not the later incarnations).

A romantic stop at Tiffany & Co. a’l
a Breakfast at Tiffany’s. (one of my favorite movies). It’s not the 10 Year Diamond Anniversary Band, but it has diamonds on it, and I really like it. Steve’s been planning this for awhile, to stay within a budget of some kind but not insult me either…
The ring is yellow gold and the diamons pa-vay (paved along the ring). This is a Tiffany’s Signature Ring. Thanks honey! It’s very romantic. Thanks for ten great years. Everyone asks us what’s the secret and we say “no kids!”. They brought us champagne and everything. We were the envy of many people passing us by in the store (which was also jammed).

The Metropoliltan Museum of Art was a very long walk along Central Park – after dark. The museum is open late on Saturdays so we were able to squeeze in a visit to see the 37 Monet paintings housed here. We hit the wall at about 7:30 and gave up and got a cab back to Rockefeller Center since we thought we had purchased the Sunset Pass to go back to the Top of the Rock after dark. Unfortunately when we finally got up there we found out they had not sold us the right ticket and we were not able to go. We decided that was ok since we were so tired at this point.

The Christmas Tree all lit up at night.
Rockefeller Center, some amazing architecture.

We ended our evening back at Moonstruck for some diner food and then to our hotel across the street to collapse and rip off our boots. Our feet are sore! The weather was perfect, tho, and I even carried my coat for part of the day.

Good night!

The nuts were warm, the towels were hot, the glasses went “clink”, and the cars just sat

1:38 PM Pacific
Email typed offline

First class is nice. Breakfast was first rate. It is nice to not have to hold my arms tucked in for hours and getting a sore back. Steve wonders how we will ever fly coach again but the price difference is significant so I will just enjoy it for now. They give you a personal digEplayer loaded with movies and music and you can just entertain yourself all the way across the flippin country. The ride to the airport in a fancy Lincoln Town Car was nice and it was great to not have to bother anyone for a ride and I did not get sick sitting in the back seat. We have a car reserved to take us bak home Tuesday night too.

Before landing we were given little dishes of warm nuts to snack on. Then we were brought hot towels to wipe our hands with. We ate on real china, drank from glass glasses and used real flatware of course.

Last night I was getting things together and crawled into bed at 11 and was up at 5. We probably have another hour in flight. This email will go when I can turn my device off of flight mode!

I miss Sophia. But I would never make her fly. We could hear a dog barking frantically in the hold and it made me sad.

We must be headed down since my ears just plugged.

Midnight NYC time

After a couple of trips back and forth on the AirTrain at the Newark, NJ airport, we managed to find ground transportation to call a shuttle to get us to Manhattan in NYC. It took over TWO HOURS to get to and thru the Holland Tunnel and across the NJ/NY state line. Of course it was Friday night rush hour. They drive like freaks here, with five lanes narrowing maddenly fast to two. I now understand why New Yorkers (like our transplant friend Colette, now living in West Seattle) are driven bonkers by Washington drivers. Which I will of course point out that over half of Washington drivers are from another state anyway so we sort of get a bum rap. But I get it. I also thought I was going to get creamed into the side of a bus more than once. The driver was nuts, and we were crammed like sardines into a van with 11 people total. Not fun. But we made it.

We are in Murray Hill neighborhood, also called Midtown East. It is Midtown Manhattan.I have been Moonstruck! We found the most amazing diner across the street called Moonstruck (on Madison – they have two other locations). The logo is the same as that of the movie. The food was good, the portions were huge, and I wished our hotel room had a microwave so I could bring back the leftovers because I was only able to eat half of what was on my plate. And I had a real coffee ice cream soda. It tasted better after the ice cream had melted and mixed with the soda water.

We needed to walk after that so went just about 4 blocks and came to the Empire State Building. It was sprinkling lightly and they said the visibility from the 86th floor was 15 miles but we decided it we did do the ESB we would do it during the day. We did go buy a CityPass tho since it gets us into the museums we want without having to wait in line to buy a ticket. We have CityPass in Seattle, too.

Our room looked exactly like the photos on the web site. We got a couple of neat pictures – Steve has a new wide angle lens for our camera, impressive huh? Everyone says oh that will be super for real estate photos! There is a neat building view out our window – we are at the back of the hotel where it is quiet (except I still hear the occasional horn honk). Tomorrow I will walk by and see what building it is (see last photo).

Oh, and then we went by Lord & Taylor and its amazing store windows, But those pictures will have to wait until tomorrow.

OBTW – FYI – we’ll be in NYC for NYE for our 10YA

Today’s packing day for our big 10th wedding anniversary trip to New York City. I just checked the weather forecast and I better bring an umbrella! Trying to figure out which coat to bring has been bad enough! Do I go for total warmth, in my new double-breasted full-length wool coat in black cherry which will be too heavy for me to carry when I am not wearing it – or do I go for more casual but still warm, in my chocolate color car-length down jacket with the faux fur collar? I think the down is going to win, since it is light as a feather! (pun intended)

We’ve been planning this trip for a couple of months. We decided ten years of marriage was something to celebrate, especially since we don’t know hardly anyone married as long as we have been. When we visited Paris in 2000 I declared then the next time I wanted to go to a huge city and get freakin’ lost trying to use the subway, I wanted to at least be able to read the signs and we must go to NYC. Looks like it is finally happening. And no, you won’t find us anywhere near Times Square when the ball drops so don’t waste your time looking for us on camera. You could set your DVR for Monday morning, tho, since we plan on standing outside of The Today Show holding a cheesy “Married for 10 years today” sign and waving frantically at our friends back home.

I have once again not planned this vacation. We know which museums we want to go to – but not when. We know a few others sites we must see – but we’ll figure it all out when we get there. Our trip to Italy two holiday season’s ago was equally unplanned and it was great. Steve was in charge of the airline reservations, the requirement being that they were non-stop and we are splurging and flying first class for the first time. I did have some input as to what hotel we would stay at. I wanted to stay at The Benjamin, one of only a handful of certified Ecotels in North America but the $700+/night was hard to stomache. Then I was looking at trying to go budget hotel so I would have more spending money but I just can’t go all the way to NYC and stay at a TravelLodge for $380/night. Your accomodations should be part of the experience. So we looked for a compromise on experience and cost and were happy to find Morgan’s, in the $500/night range. Vanity Fair Magazine calls it “The handsomest hotel in New York”, altho it’s been 20 years since it was remodeled by hip designers and world-renowned architects. There was quite a bit of press at the time. I also know we will be in the heart of it all, right on Madison Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. It’s going to be a heck of a weekend! We whipped out the credit cards to make this trip happen. Not proud of it but it only happens once.

Check back as we will be blogging from New York. Steve has a new wide-angle lens for the camera and I imagine I will spend some time standing around while he fiddles with his new toy. I will miss Sophia and Steve says he will miss our kitties but it is a short trip and we will be back before we know it! My sister with baby and husband in tow are coming to stay and take care of everyone for us, eat our food, and burn up the plasma television as she goes into cable tv overload.

We’re even going to the airport in style by way of a town car service. Boy, I have to get up early tomorrow!! What am I going to pack!?!

Don’t be calling me for any showings this weekend since I am OUT OF TOWN!

Got a New Year Resolution for your pet?

In preparation for making your New Year Resolution(s), how about making one on behalf of your pet instead of yourself? You just might be more likely to follow through since that special little someone else is counting on you to be a good guardian and pet parent!

Since moving to a new neighborhood and giving up the yard my dog used to have, now I walk her three times a day – which is the whole reason I adopted a dog in the first place. I am so glad I have no excuses anymore! But I think my resolution should be those walks should be LONGER. I tend to skimp on the 11 PM walk, especially when it is cold and rainy! My excuse is that Sophia hates wind and rain. But she’s wearing a coat, she’s not going to melt!

I would love to hear YOUR pet resolutions for 2008. Switching to BioBags should be one of them! Please post a comment!

ID YOUR PET: Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald of Animal Planet’s “Emergency Vets” and “E-Vet Interns” says making sure your pet has ID is one of the most important ways to keep it safe. Fitzgerald says that only 30 percent of the strays that they see at his Denver practice have a chip or a collar tag so they can be easily returned home. He emphasizes that you need to remember to keep your tags up to date.

PREPARE FOR PROBLEMS: Put together a first-aid kit for your pets. He suggests that at minimum you want gauze, sponges, cotton balls, triple antibiotic ointment, penlight and a thermometer. You can also buy prepared kits at some pet suppliers. And in case all else fails, he says, “have the number of the emergency vet by the phone.”

EXERCISE THE BODY AND THE MIND: You’re not the only one who needs to get more exercise in the New Year — so do your pets. “A cat’s or dog’s brain is a terrible thing to waste. They need a job and a purpose in life, or typically end up couch potato pets with waists the size of pickle barrels,” says Amy Shojai, author of 22 books about pets. Exercising your dog’s body will improve your dog’s behavior and the peacefulness of your household.

“Dogs have a tremendous reserve of energy, and if it isn’t spent in a constructive manner, that energy will spill into other nonconstructive behaviors like household destruction, boredom barking, unchecked attention-seeking behaviors, you name it,” says Victoria Schade, dog trainer and creator of the puppy-training DVD “New Puppy! Now What?” “A 15-minute walk around the block doesn’t cut it,” Schade says. “People need to provide off-leash, pant-inducing play at least once a day.”

KEEP CATS CLEAN: And don’t forget that many cat behavior problems can be headed off if the humans keep up with routine maintenance. Clip your cat’s nails regularly and you may have less problem with furniture scratching. And Shojai says, “Resolve to clean the litter box routinely. Most litter box “oops” accidents develop because of a nasty box. Scoop daily, dump out and wash weekly.”

The list above Courtesy of The Associated Press,

The Best Holiday Porches of High Point

We’ve really enjoyed walking around our new neighborhood experiencing our first Christmas season in High Point. We happened to catch a night it wasn’t raining and got some pictures of some of The Best Holiday Porches of High Point. Enjoy this slice of West Seattle night life – out walking the dog and soaking up the wondrous sights! We apologize for the blurriness of some of the shots since we were using a little point-and-shoot camera not really designed for after-dark photography. If you would like to see these lights in person they are primarily located along SW Raymond and SW Graham Streets, east of 35th.

Some More Green Q&A

The Q: As a Built Green Certified Agent, what aspects of sustainability would you market to the general public? Describe how each aspect highlighted is sustainable.

My A: It’s proven that the primary reason people seek out green homes – at least right now – is to save on utility costs. So it is about the pocket book first, and Mother Earth second. It doesn’t really matter since the end result is the same – a lighter step on the planet. People can understand dollars more than some of the intangibles. If you can show significant financial benefit to buying green, people will gladly invest in it.

The Q: How can green building be better marketed?

My A: Education of the consumer, plain and simple. One of the most interesting parts of this green real estate class for me has been learning more about the construction side of green. As a home buyer, often the home is complete and many of the things that make a home green become invisible inside those four walls, roof, and floor. I think more education regarding the front end of building green is invaluable!