Unique New York

This post is really long.  I tried to include enough pictures to make it interesting; they just made it longer.

Last weekend, Johnny and I were able to make a little getaway to NYC.  We’re only a few hours’ drive away, and a friend offered us a place to stay.  We left on Friday after work, and after sitting through the perpetual Hartford traffic jam, had a pretty smooth trip.  Along the way, I think I saw Pope Francis advertising the Annual Bishop’s/Archbishop’s/Cardinal’s Appeal for every diocese we drove through.  He sells, I guess.  We also saw this one, which I think I’ve noticed before.  As always, I have to wonder whether that 1-800 number connects to Father Ed, or Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.


I was glued to the Google Maps directions as soon as we got into the City, but it was surprisingly easy to find where we needed to go.  Kudos on the signage, New York.

We were lucky enough to find a parking spot on our first trip around the block, but Johnny’s parallel parking skills are rusty (to say the least), and my skills of directing him are positively tetanus-ridden.  I would’ve been standing on the sidewalk yelling unintelligibly till midnight except that a kind New Yorker stopped and talked Johnny through it (this guy’s solution involved veeeeery gently touching the car in front of us, which I never would’ve advocated.  “Hey, everyone expects it.  You gotta do it,” was the explanation.).  Once we parked, we didn’t dare move the car again till we left on Sunday.  Commence walking.

A major attraction of this trip for Johnny was to see as many churches as possible, so Saturday morning, we walked a few blocks to Immaculate Conception for morning Mass.


Mass was great, and then we went to a little diner for brunch.  On the way there, our New York friend made sure to point out the corner where she once saw Jimmy Fallon.  Johnny had heavenly peanut butter banana pancakes that I’ll have to recreate once Lent is over.


Pretty quiet for a Saturday morning; one of the perks of going to early Mass.

After brunch, we walked up to St. Vincent Ferrer, which was definitely a highlight of the trip.  The exterior was impressive enough, but once we got inside, I was speechless.


The darkness inside made the windows all the more stunning by contrast, and it was absolutely silent, except for my camera shutter, which resonating to an almost embarrassing degree.  Luckily, we were almost the only people there.

There was no shortage of side chapels and little devotional spaces; in short, it was an introvert’s dream church.


Once we were back out in the sunlight, we strolled through Central Park on our way to the Met.  It was a beautiful day (see below: no coat!), and there were lots of families out in the park.


Perk of hanging out with a friend: a third party to take photos.

The Met was, as expected, fantastic.  We were there for a few hours and just barely scratched the surface (we weren’t lingering, either).  Below are just a few of the great things we saw (click to enlarge).

At some point, we realized that we were starving, so we regretfully left the Met (never did make it to the William Morris section).  We headed to what was the next highlight of our trip: Eataly.  So much food!  So many hazelnuts and pasta shapes and flavors of gelato!  We got a fantastic lunch, took it outside to eat, and then went back in for post-lunch gelato (for him) and espresso (for me).  We were somewhat proud of the fact that the only grocery item we picked up was a large tube of tomato paste for under $4 (a great deal no matter where you’re shopping).  And then.  We got to the checkout line, where we fell victim to the strategically-placed fresh mozzarella and prosciutto.  I think those will come out tonight as antipasti for St. Joseph’s Day.


Definitely coming back here after Lent, when I can do more than inhale deeply.

Very full and happy, we walked to St. Francis of Assisi, a Franciscan parish with beautiful mosaics.  We had to wait for the Vigil Mass to finish before we could walk around, but it was worth the wait.


My current Lenten desktop background.

The side altars:

Sunday started with a trip to St. Agnes, with which Johnny absolutely fell in love.  He’d move to Manhattan just to be able to attend church here every week.  Everything the choir and schola sang was sublime, including this Mass setting and Panis Angelicus.  I’m grateful for the little 5-person choir at our parish back home, but it really is wonderful to be able to experience a different level of music every so often.


Our day included lots of other site-seeing, but my camera was acting up, so there are mercifully few pictures of it.  We had brunch with friends, and then walked to Rockefeller Center, Times Square, and the NY Public Library.

The foyer of the bathroom in the Waldorf Astoria, which had a double staircase, fireplace, and a separate room for each "stall."

The foyer of the bathroom in the Waldorf Astoria, which had a double staircase, fireplace, and a separate room for each “stall.”  Johnny wouldn’t go in to check, so I assume that the men’s restroom is graffiti-ed and has a trough urinal.

We also stopped in at St. Patrick’s, and let me tell you, they are not messing around with that renovation.  We walked through the whole church, and I still have no idea what it looks like.  Someday (a few years from now, I’m guessing), we’ll have to go back and see it in all it’s restored glory.

Untold miles of walking later, it was time for us to pack up and head home.  Luckily, it was much easier to get out of our parking spot than it had been to get in, and the trip home was entirely uneventful.  It will surprise no one who knows us that our only souvenirs of the weekend are a tube of tomato paste and a postcard from the Met.  And a few blisters.  No regrets.


Quick Takes in the Almost-Spring

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes about Snoop Dogg concerts, awesome nuns, and almost having the most epic book tour fail in the history of the world
Spring is on the way! I can tell because the radio meteorologist referred to yesterday’s snow/sleet/high winds as “late-season.”
I recently decided (for at least the fifth time) that I should get around to running a 5K at some point. I’ve got a milestone birthday coming up (okay, just the Car Rental one), and that seemed like as good a deadline as any. My first attempt at going to the college’s gym was somewhat disastrous. The indoor track was, seemingly, less than 1/8th of a mile around, had square corners, and featured a girl running around in the opposite direction. It didn’t help that the gym has no wifi, so no music streaming. It was then that I discovered that there were precisely three songs on my phone, and the most run-appropriate one was Take Me Home, Country Roads. Because who doesn’t love the pumping beats of John Denver?
Then Saturday came, and I not only replaced my high school-era shoes, but also went for an actual run outside! And didn’t die! Since then, I’ve logged a grand total of 13 miles on these shoes (thanks for the painfully specific statistics, Map My Run). For those keeping track, I think this is literally further than I ran in the first 20 years of my life combined.

My running success – if we’re calling it that – is pretty much entirely due to having a really good book to listen to. I can’t remember who recommended Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (Mary, was it you?), but it’s pretty great so far. I’m not done yet, so I can’t make a wholehearted recommendation, but I can’t help but laugh and agree with such pearls of wisdom as, “There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up early for,” or Mindy’s observations about the intersection of frisbee players and Teach for America teachers. So far, it’s hilarious, and I’m not looking forward to finding a worthy successor when it’s done.
So, Lent. Johnny and I jointly gave up flour-based food, and I went a step further by giving up sugar, too (I feel a lot better without it anyway but have no willpower, so I’m hoping that 40 days of discipline will help me out). I’m not being super-strict about my sugar-free life, but all dessert is pretty much out of the question. Johnny, however, is having a hard enough time with no pasta, so when he asked me to come up with a dessert for him, I agreed. It was easier than I thought – the first “gluten-free peanut butter cookie” recipe to come up was a total winner.
Now that I’m actually looking for the recipe, I’m having zero luck finding it again, but here it is, from memory:
Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup natural peanut butter
1 cup sugar (our PB was honey flavored, so I reduced this)
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
salt to taste
1/4 tsp baking powder (not in the original recipe, but it just seemed right to me)
Mix all ingredients together. Scoop out 1 1/2 tablespoons at a time and make sure it’s a firm ball (no cracks) before placing on a greased/parchmented cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Let cool before removing from sheet.
I didn’t actually try these, obviously, but my culinary critic was a huge fan. When I recommended that he hide them from me, I didn’t mean that he needed to eat the whole batch immediately, but well…you can guess what happened.
The Crescat’s post on basic application smarts really hit home for me this week.  We’re in peak application season at work, and the vast majority of applicants put forth appropriate, well-thought-out files.  The ones who don’t, though, really stick out.  In addition to what Katrina recommends, here are some tips of my own:
  1. No one’s resume needs to be three pages long.  Especially if you’re under 30 and were not a child prodigy.  At some point, it just needs to become a CV.  Which isn’t what we asked for.
  2. Make sure the person recommending you has good things to say.  You’d think this would be obvious, but not so much sometimes.
  3. Make sure that you eliminate all references to the previous place you printed an application for.  The admissions committee at Okie Dokie Community College doesn’t need to read an application that ends with, “…and that’s why I can’t wait to join the student body of East Western University.”  Well, if that’s the way you feel, we hope you’ll be very happy there.


IMG_2150bMy latest sewing project is…getting there.  I’m making this top in the fabric above.  I was humming right along until I got to the part where the two tubes that make up the shoulder magically get attached with no raw edges showing.  It’s a hard problem to google, too – phrasing it the way I just did is the most succinct way I can state it, and that doesn’t get many results.  I actually laid awake in bed last night trying to puzzle through this, because I know it must be so easy, but spacial thinking is not my forte.


It’s only taken me three years of adulthood, but I’ve finally figured out my housecleaning happy place: the floors.  I can’t explain where this came from, but I realized recently that nothing makes me quite so happy as my Friday night ritual of using the Swiffer (for the hair), sweeping (for the debris), and then mopping.

If I was going to get a tattoo...

If I was going to get a tattoo…

It feels wrong somehow to enjoy it as much as I do, but with the recent addition of a vacuum cleaner to our repertoire, I’m one happy girl.  Sure, the counters, tables, and bathroom are neglected, but at least something is getting done.  Feel free to come over here and walk around barefoot…just don’t look up.


Finally, I’m sharing an article I read yesterday that I found noteworthy not just for the content, but also the author and source.  From “Put the Sex Back in Sex Ed”:

The liberal response to conservatives’ demand for abstinence-only sex education has been to condemn the imposition of “fear and shame” on young people. But perhaps a bit more self-preserving fear and shame might be helpful in today’s hedonistic, media-saturated environment.

Do go and read the whole thing, then check out more quick takes at Conversion Diary!