October, 2013

  1. New York City

    October 30, 2013 by Angie

    Our trip to New York City finally happened October 18-21! We initially planned to go last fall but Superstorm Sandy ruined everybody’s fun by flooding things and knocking out the power at our hotel. We went to Denver and Boulder instead and had a great, snowy time there. Robbie had never been to NYC or the Northeast so I was determined to plan a good trip for him. I think I succeeded.

    Drinking at TIA

    Getting the party started with a big breakfast and a Bellini at Tampa International Airport

    We adored our little boutique hotel in Chelsea, the Chelsea Pines Inn. The hotel has a movie star theme with each room focusing on one old timey movie star. We had the Tab Hunter room. The location was great with a lot of good bars and restaurants in walking distance and a subway station on our block. We were also really impressed with the staff and the free breakfast – we ate really good croissants with cheese every morning.

    Our room at Chelsea Pines Inn

    The Tab Hunter Room

    Bathroom at Chelsea Pines Inn

    Cute little bathroom with his and hers sinks

    Breakfast Area at Chelsea Pines Inn

    Amazing breakfast area/sunroom

    Garden at Chelsea Pines Inn

    Beautiful garden/terrace where you can eat your breakfast

    After checking in to the hotel and putting our bags away we set off to check some touristy items off our list. But first – authentic New York style pizza. We had excellent pizza at New York Suprema Pizza. We each ate a cheese and a margerita slice. I was touching a lot of gross stuff in New York, like the subway, and the bathroom situation is not great there so we would both wash our hands before our food arrived, leading to me not getting many food photos on this trip. Trust me that the pizza was in the top 10 lifetime pizzas which says a lot coming from us.

    Here we are walking through Times Square full of pizza. It was crazy packed at 5:00ish on a Friday.

    Robbie in Times Square

    Robbie in Times Square

    An expensive McDonalds

    A posh McDonalds


    Busy crosswalk

    Times Square

     So many lights

    On our way to the Empire State Building we passed by the Miracle on 34th Street Macy’s. It’s pretty impressive…for a Macy’s.

    Macy's on 34th

    THE Macy’s

    We walked by Rockefeller Center and saw some people ice skating on the outdoor rink.

    Skating Rink at Rockefeller Center

    Rockefeller Center skating rink

    I know you know this but the Empire State Building is seriously tall, you guys. There were a lot of people on the street trying to sell us tours to the top but we didn’t want to pay $60 each to be terrified so we just admired it from the ground.

    Empire State Building

    Empire State Building

    Robbie at the Empire State Building

    Robbie at the Empire State Building

    We stopped in at the Heartland Brewery near the Empire State Building. It’s a fancy place where they brew their own beer. Robbie had an IPA that he liked.

    Heartland Brewery

    I had heard good things about UNIQLO so we looked in there and at H&M. No luck at UNIQLO mostly because their weird everything-is-one-length-but-we’ll-hem-it for-free policy. It just made the clothes not fit right. Robbie scored a sweet hoodie at H&M and we got to witness our first NYC fight between a couple in line.

    We headed back to our hotel then went out on foot to some bars in Chelsea/Greenwich Village. It’s a great area to walk around and stop in at several different bars. That night we visited the Upright Brew House which was our favorite of the night because it was really neat inside and they had Stone Enjoy by 11/12/13 on tap and a good pinot noir for me. We tried to go to a speakeasy called Employees Only but were turned away by a wasted woman who may or may not have worked there. Next, we went to the Blind Tiger on Bleecker Street which is a great place but was PACKED, like fire hazard packed. On our way home we stopped at the Tavern on Jane which was pretty good but Robbie wasn’t crazy about the Old Fashioned he got.

    On Saturday, after eating our cheese croissants and getting ready to go out in the world, we made our way to the Chelsea location of Blossom Du Jour. I was really excited about this place because of all the great reviews. We were both disappointed. It’s a vegan restaurant that’s supposed to be a quicker option so they have counter service. Robbie got the Skyscraper Burger. It was a Boca burger with some onion rings on it. I didn’t taste it but it looked completely unappealing. It was all one blah color. I ordered the Smokey Avocado Wrap. It turned out that this was a pre-made wrap they were storing in the fridge. It was like 711 food for vegans. Total bummer.

    Our friend Ryann was coming to Blossom Du Jour to meet us but it was filling up fast and people begrudged us our seats so we headed to a very eclectic bar next door, the Trailer Park Lounge. I’m so glad that we did! The bartender is a really cool guy who did a round of free whiskey shots with us. It’s a crazy place that really takes the trailer park theme all the way.

    Trailer Park Lounge

     Trailer Park Lounge

    After a couple of rounds with Ryann at the Trailer Park Lounge we walked toward the High Line. It’s a long stretch of repurposed railroad now used as a pedestrian path and garden. We really enjoyed seeing the city from up there.

    Ryann & Robbie walking toward the High Line

    Ryann & Robbie walking toward the High Line

    High Line from the street

    The High Line spans across the street.

    Robgeleen on the High Line

    Robgeleen on the High Line

    Robgeleen with a skyline

    Robgeleen with a skyline view

    After that we walked through the Chelsea Market which was quite busy and crowded. We saw a lot of things we wanted but most were too overpriced to consider. Robbie did score a t-shirt with the Paris subway system on it.

    Later that day we took the subway to Washington Square Park. I remember thinking it was a fun, public space when I visited NYC when I was 18 so I wanted to see it again.

    Costumes & horns in Washington Square Park

    We saw a group of people in costumes dancing and playing horns.

    Break dancing in Washington Square Park

    There were some talented break dancers attracting quite a crowd.

    After the park we took the subway to Brooklyn to eat and drink and hopefully dance. We had dinner at the highly reviewed Bliss Cafe on Bedford Ave in Williamsburg. Our waitress was really sweet and I wasn’t poisoned by secret nuts as is always my fear at “hippie” restaurants. The food was good, not spectacular, but good. We got the Super Nachos with dairy cheese for our appetizer. Robbie got the Seitan Steak Sandwich and I got the Curry Supreme.

    Nachos at Bliss Cafe in Brooklyn

     Super Nachos

    Tofu curry & seitan sandwich at Bliss Cafe in Brooklyn

     Seitan Steak Sandwich & Curry Supreme

    After that we walked around Bedford Ave and the surrounding area stopping in at different bars. Spike Hill Williamsburg is a nice place with live music on one side which was actually quite good. We stopped in at Mugs Alehouse next where the bartender was stellar and made me a delicious hot toddy. Our last stop before our final dancing location was The Ides, a kinda rooftop bar inside the Wythe Hotel. The view…OMG, y’all. It was really dark and I only had my iPhone camera with me so this was the best I could do but trust me when I say that the inside and outside of this bar have the best views.

    The Ides rooftop bar

     View from the deck outside The Ides bar

    We walked what felt like a really long time to the The Woods in hopes of dancing. They were playing Lorde when we walked in so we were hopeful but they played total bombs from there on out. I had the worst margarita of my life there. I think it will be several weeks before I can manage to drink a proper margarita because I’m still mentally gagging on that lime catastrophe. The place has potential but it was a bust that night. We walked a long way back to the subway station just to find that no trains were running back to Manhattan. We stood in the street with everyone else in Brooklyn and hailed a cab back to the hotel, like real New Yorkers. It sucked to spend money on a cab after buying subway passes but Robbie talked the cab driver into loving Obamacare so I guess it was worth it.

    The main reason I wanted to go to NYC during October was to see the fall leaves in Central Park. This was a definite success. We walked around a good portion of the park on Sunday. The weather was beautiful and the park was full of people lounging, picnicking, and walking their dogs. Prepare for an onslaught of photos.

    Trees in Central Park

    Fall trees

    Angie in front of an arch in Central Park

    Angie in front of an arch

    Skyline & trees in Central Park

    Trees & rocks & skyline

    Skyline in Central Park

    Skyline in Central Park

    Fall tree in Central Park

    A totally orange tree! Jackpot!

    Another fall tree

    That’s a fine tree.

    Fountain & lake

    A fountain and a boating lake


    More fountain

    Boating in Central Park

    Boats on the lake

    Skyline over another lake

    The skyline behind a lake for toy boats

    Alice in Wonderland statue

    Alice in Wonderland statue

    Robbie with the Mad Hatter

    Robbie with the Mad Hatter

    Central Park selfie

    The best selfie we could manage with buildings in the background

    We worked up an appetite walking around in Central Park and headed to Candle Cafe East where we had our first amazing vegetarian restaurant meal. It was pricey and we had to wait a while but everything we had was delicious. I regret not getting photos. This is the vegetarian restaurant you don’t want to miss. In case you’re wondering, we had the house-made crispy dumplings for our appetizer – absurdly good, I would eat 50 more of those. Robbie had the tofu club sandwich and I had the BBQ tempeh and sweet potato sandwich. Our waitress gave us a free oatmeal chocolate chip cookie to make up for our long wait. Everything was excellent.

    I’d read good things about the beer selection at The Stag’s Head so we took the subway there. It must have been a slow beer day because Robbie ended up with an Old Fashioned. It was really loud and sports-tastic in there so no high marks for ambience but the drinks were really good, the staff was very nice, and the truffle popcorn is what dreams are made of.

    Delicious truffle popcorn

    When we were leaving The Stag’s Head we happened upon this beautiful “private park for public enjoyment” with a waterfall. It’s a very peaceful space called Greenacre Park.

    Private Park near Chinatown

    Greenacre Park

    Later that night we decided to walk to some new places in the West Village. We started at The Brooklyneer. It’s a cute, small place with a good bartender. I had a hot toddy and Robbie had a beer that he liked.

    Hot toddy at the Brooklyneer

    Mug of hot toddy

    On our way there we noticed Houston Hall and had to stop in. It really is a giant hall – the inside is awesome. I had the best drink of the trip (my life?) there. It was called a pumpkin latte but it was 100% booze, 0% coffee. I had two and let’s just say it’s good thing I didn’t have a third.

    Amazing drinks at Houston Hall

    Robbie poses with our fancy drinks at Houston Hall

    In an effort to sober up and because we’re pizza gluttons, we had a pie at John’s Pizzeria on Bleeker Street on our way back to the hotel. It was fabulous and we ate the whole thing. Very highly recommended by us, the pizza snobs.

    Monday was our last day 🙁 We headed to Chinatown to go to Buddha Bodai for lunch and saw this Woody Allen graffiti on the way.

    Woody Allen graffiti in Chinatown

    Woody Allen graffiti

    Buddha Bodai is an all vegetarian Chinese restaurant specializing in frighteningly realistic, but very tasty, fake meats. I had a really good wonton soup to start and Robbie got a vegetable tofu soup. Robbie loves fried rice and gave this one five stars. He said it tastes just like the fried rice he grew up on with rib meat in it.

    Robbie's fake meaty fried rice at Buddha Bodhai

    Robbie’s beloved fried rice

    Angie's General Tso's fake chicken at Buddha Bodhai

    I had one of my favorites – General Tso’s (fake) Chicken. It was fantastic.

    After that we headed south to see some stuff we hadn’t been near before. We saw the New York Stock Exchange building kinda by accident.


    New York Stock Exchange

    We walked through Battery Park to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The park was under construction but the open parts are pretty and well-maintained.

    Battery Park

     Battery Park and a tiny Statue of Liberty

    Statue of Liberty

    A zoomed-in shot of the Statue of Liberty

    Immigration statue in Battery Park

    This is a statue dedicated to immigrants that I liked.

    We walked down Wall Street and to the Charging Bull statue but it was COVERED in tourists so we didn’t both with a photo. It is an impressively large bull.

    I didn’t know there was this whole process with a ticket and gates to see the 9/11 memorial. I thought I could just walk up to it like every other memorial in this country but that’s not the case. We didn’t get to see the memorial but we did see the new World Trade Center which is quite nice.

    New WTC

    New World Trade Center

    911 Mural

    We also got to see this 9/11 mural which is very well done, albeit a bit graphic.

    We were running out of time before we had to head back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and get our car to the airport so we squeezed in two more bars in the area. Bill’s Bar & Burger was clean and nice but nothing too memorable. After that we went to Trinity Place which is a bar and restaurant INSIDE a bank vault. Now that’s something.

    Trinity Place inside a bank vault

     Trinity Place inside a bank vault

    We took the subway back toward our hotel and had some snacks and sangria during Happy Hour at a Mexican-owned 24 hour Cuban diner named Coppelia. We had guacamole (not very Cuban but delicious anyway) and cheese croquettes. I would definitely frequent this Happy Hour if I lived in the area.

    The most insane cab ride ever concluded our stay in NYC. I don’t even know where to start with this guy. In the first five minutes he told me I need to have eleven babies because lots of babies make you rich. He went on to say he has three wives and a girlfriend and the ability to magically heal from self-inflicted injuries but only during one month of the year. It was hard to follow what he was saying and also hard not to crack up.

  2. mulled wine

    October 17, 2013 by Angie

    I’ve been wanting to try mulled wine all year. Hot spiced wine sounds so cozy and delicious and warm the way it’s described in the Song of Ice and Fire books. I discovered hot toddies last year in Denver and they quickly became a favorite drink so I knew that mulled wine, which is basically a warmed sangria, would be my kind of beverage.

    glass of mulled wine

    I looked at a lot of recipes online and talked with my friend who has made it before. I knew I wanted to use up a bottle of Merlot we had been given (it’s the thought that counts but we couldn’t bring ourselves to drink Merlot unaltered!) and that I should use whole spices instead of ground. I most closely followed this recipe. Details below!


    1 750 ml bottle of Merlot
    3 tbs Bourbon
    2 tbs honey
    1 orange, rind peeled, segments separated
    10 whole cloves
    2 cinnamon sticks


    1. Peel the rind off the orange and set it aside. Separate the orange into segments.

    2. Pour the entire bottle of wine into a pot and turn the heat to low.

    3. Add the rest of the ingredients adjusting the honey to taste.

    4. Cook on low for about half an hour. You want the wine to get warm but never to boil because you’ll cook off the booze and that would be a tragedy!

    5. Carefully ladle the mulled wine into glasses so that no whole spices or orange rind end up in the glasses. I put some orange segments and a cinnamon stick in mine to add to the flavor as I was drinking it.

    pot of mulled wine

  3. curried chickpea mash

    October 16, 2013 by Angie

    This is a tasty and relatively quick meal from {never}homemaker. I wanted to serve it with garlic naan, another recipe I got from them, but I was pressed for time. Robbie ate his with toast and I had these low carb crackers. I followed the recipe except for the fresh ginger. I used a little ground ginger instead. It was good but I will cut the cloves substantially next time and add more salt.

    curried chickpea mash

  4. garlicky thyme tempeh

    October 15, 2013 by Angie

    This is one of many great recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz/The Post Punk Kitchen that I make semi-regularly. It’s fast, healthy, and we both love to eat it.

    garlicky thyme tempeh

     Garlicky Thyme Tempeh

    garlicky thyme marinade

    This is the marinade. I try to marinate the tempeh in this for at least an hour.

    I follow her recipe except for a few little changes. I never have fresh thyme so I use about one tablespoon of dried thyme. I also don’t own white balsamic vinegar so I use one tablespoon of regular balsamic instead as she suggests. I tried her tempeh steaming technique once on a different recipe and I found it adds a lot of time to the recipe but doesn’t make the tempeh taste or feel any different in my opinion. I’ve been skipping that part and going right to the marinating and I think it tastes great that way. I like the flavor of tempeh anyway so I see no need to “take away the beaniness”.

    tempeh with a side salad

     We ate it with a yummy side salad.

  5. puff stitch cowl

    October 8, 2013 by Angie

    I fell in love with the puff stitch cowl and scarf on All About Ami’s site. I followed her pattern to make a soft, red puff stitch cowl for myself. Now that I have my own I’m even more in love with it.

    puff stitch cowl

    In all its glory

    I had never done the puff stitch before so I had to learn it. It was intimidating at first but I watched a couple YouTube videos and quickly got the hang of it. It’s a really pretty stitch. I have my eye on a hat pattern that uses it.

    folded up

     Folded up

    folded in half

     Folded in half

    I have an ongoing problem with wearable crafts: I want to show y’all how they look on a person but I don’t want that person to be me. Robbie and Sookie aren’t volunteering, however, so here I am. Sigh.

    a beautiful mess app cowl

    Here is the cowl twisted and folded over once which is how I will wear it. I looked scary before the “vampire” filter so why not run with it?

  6. maple leaf pillow

    October 8, 2013 by Angie

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    I made a maple leaf pillow! It’s very autumn-y.

    finished maple leaf pillow

    Now that I’ve discovered half square triangles, I’m trying out different blocks. I made a maple leaf block out of HSTs, added a border, and turned it into a 16″ pillow.

    maple leaf block

     Maple leaf block

    maple leaf block with borders

    With brown borders
    maple leaf pillow

    All done!

  7. cross stitch snowflake ornament

    October 7, 2013 by Angie

    This was my third and easiest cross stitch. I searched for a snowflake pattern and came across this article from Good Housekeeping with a cute and very simple pattern.

    snowflake ornament

    I “framed” it in the hoop and tied a red ribbon on top to make it a Christmas ornament. It works up very quickly and I think it’s adorable. I would definitely recommend this if you like to cross stitch and are short on ornaments for your own tree or homemade Christmas gifts for friends and family.

    Cross Stitch Snowflake Ornament

    I finished my other two cross stitch projects by putting them in frames. I wasn’t too sure how to make this look finished inside the hoop. I couldn’t find too much in the way of instructions online either so I just winged it. I cut the Aida cloth as close to the hoop as I could. Then I placed a piece of red fabric under the hoop with the cross stitch design facing up. I traced around the hoop onto the fabric with a fabric pen. I cut the fabric out along the line with scissors. I put a small amount of fabric glue on top of the edge of the Aida cloth that was sticking up on the back then I placed the fabric circle on top of that. After I was sure it was dry, I used scissors again to cut out any pieces of red fabric that hung over the edge and could be seen from the front. I think an X-Acto knife is the solution for getting a perfect circle but since it’s just the back of the ornament I feel fine with how it turned out using this method.

    Back of the ornament


  8. Christmas star pillow

    October 4, 2013 by Angie

    I finally did something with the Christmas star block I made back in July. I made it into a 21″ pillow case. First I added borders to the block to give it a finished look and to make it big enough to cover the front of the pillow form.

    Christmas Star Block with Borders

    Finished Christmas Star Block with Borders

    Finished Christmas Star Pillow

    Next I made the envelope backing following the instructions I used for the quilted modern circle pillow I made last year. Then I put all the pieces right sides together and sewed a half inch around the entire thing. I ended up having too much material on the sides so I had to measure and sew again on those sides to get everything to fit nicely. I didn’t quilt this one because I like the simple look it has with just the pieced fabrics.

    Christmas Pillow & Quilt and Sookie in her crate

    Here it is on our bed with the Christmas quilt I recently finished. Sookie is hanging out in her crate ready to go to sleep for the night.

    Christmas Pillow & Quilt

    Another photo with the Christmas quilt

    For our house, I think the only Christmas project left is to embroider our names onto our stockings, unless I magically find time to make us a table runner. I’ve got several gift projects in the works though so I’ll be crocheting, sewing, cross stitching, and baking right up to the last minute I’m sure!