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Froggy Goes To DC

25 Feb

Froggy wants to tell you about his trip to Washington DC.

He LOVED it there!!

He only spent a long weekend, and he jam-packed it with monuments, museums and mouth-watering good eats!

He felt great patriotic pride, and he was in awe of the history and splendor.

One of the first places he headed to was the International Spy Museum.

It was AWESOME.

He was duly impressed by the miniature weapons, cameras and other concealable spy devices – just the right size for a frog.

He ate at Ben’s Chili Bowl – YUM!

It was a little messy, but he managed to not drip a drop of chili on his clothes.

He tells me not to forget to mention The National Gallery of Art.

And – here’s a little quiz for you – who can guess where Froggy is in this picture??

Froggy had one heck of a time! In fact, he wants to go back real soon…

xoxo,

SAllan (and Froggy!)

Yesterday’s Santa Con 2011

11 Dec

There were two locations for the Santas to meet at the start of yesterday’s NYC Santa Con 2011 – one in lower Manhattan and one in The Brooklyn Bridge Park in Brooklyn.

It was such a lovely morning I decided to go to Brooklyn. (Grimaldi’s Pizza, anyone?)

When I got off the subway, I looked around, and decided it would be a safe bet to follow these couple of red-dressed individuals.

When I arrived at the waterfront, I noticed a few more.

*SMILE*

There’s no cheerier site than Santas under The Brooklyn Bridge!

Before I could say “HO HO HO”, there were many, many Santas.

Of course, Mr & Mrs Santa were there:

Here are 2 other Santas (or maybe Santa’s Helpers?):

I saw a mother and her young child hurry past – the mother was covering her child’s eyes with her hands. I couldn’t tell if the Santas were being somewhat too rowdy for the child to witness, or if the mother simply did not want to answer the inevitable questions about so many Santas.

This Santa had his Naughty List handy:

as well as his Nice List:

Here are three other Santas:

And The Bling Santas:

Some unique girl Santas:

and some unique boy Santas:

After I took a break from photographing Santas, and I rode Jane’s Carousel for only 2$

Ate pizza at Grimaldi’s (YUM!)

and walked across The Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan.

I stopped by City Hall, where there was a MASSIVE congregation of Santas.

There were even a couple of Santa Protesters.

As well as The Easter Bunny!

And The Gingersnap Man with The Cookie Monster.

Everyone was feeling the love!

I’d say it was a very successful Santa Con 2011.

I got home very happy, very full and very exhausted!

xoxo,

SAllan

 

Happy Day Of The Dead!

2 Nov

Wikipedia tells us:

Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) is a Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico and around the world in many cultures. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. It is particularly celebrated in Mexico, where it attains the quality of a National Holiday.

The celebration takes place on November 1–2, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Day (November 1) and All Souls’ Day (November 2).

People go to cemeteries to be with the souls of the departed and build private altars containing the favorite foods and beverages as well as photos and memorabilia of the departed. The intent is to encourage visits by the souls, so that the souls will hear the prayers and the comments of the living directed to them.”

I had read here that the Saint Marks Church-In-The-Bowery was recreating “a Mexican village churchyard and offers events to honor those who have passed. Workshops are for all ages and include altar-building, paper flower making, poetry writing and bread baking. Bring photographs, candles and flowers to adorn the altar in honor of your deceased loved ones, or just drop by and enjoy the experience of this five-day celebration, which also includes musical performances and a traditional dance procession.”

Delicious Mexican Food?? This is calling my name!

I headed down yesterday, and somehow on my way, I found myself at Rosa Mexicano at Union Square.

Never one to question destiny, I followed the calling and went in for a bite. It is, after all, one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in the city.

They had a lovely Day Of The Dead display right in their entrance way.

As well as a small altar.

After enjoying a scrumptious taco meal, I made my way east and south, towards the church.

I passed, at 17th Street and Irving Place, a home where author Washington Irving had once lived. (* see postscript below.)

I’ve been to his home at Sunnyside in Tarrytown, NY – had a photo shoot there.

But, I didn’t know that he had lived smack dab in the middle of the city here on Irving Place.

I guess that’s why it’s called Irving Place!

I wonder what it was called when he lived there – before it became Irving Place?

So, on to the church.

The church’s website says: “We are a church with a history as long and meandering as the history of European settlement in Manhattan. We are the oldest site of continuous worship in New York City and the burial site of Peter Stuyvesant and other prominent Dutch founding families of New Amsterdam.”

Wikipedia says: The property has been the site of continuous Christian worship for more than three and a half centuries; it is New York’s oldest site of continuous religious practice, and the church is the second-oldest church building in Manhattan.”

One time Hubby and I went to the Saint Marks Church for a friend’s memorial service, and Grandpa (aka Al Lewis) from TVs The Munsters was also there.

But yesterday, it was all about Day Of The Dead.

Here’s their altar:

You can see more about Day Of The Dead here.

Did you happen to notice that both the altar at Rosa Mexicana and the altar at the Saint Marks Church-In-The-Bowery had shrines to Steve Jobs?

“Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.”

Happy Day Of The Dead, everyone.

xoxo,

SAllan

* P.S. In the “comments” section, Hubby brought it to my attention that the “Washington Irving house” on 17th Street and Irving Place here in NYC might not really be a past residence of Mr. Irving. See the link that Hubby posted.

Curiouser and curiouser!

I also just saw this article which says: “Great historic significance is often attached to the house at 49 Irving Place; it is claimed that the great American author Washington Irving once lived here. It is, however, unlikely that Washington Irving ever crossed the threshold of this house.”

Okay, any historians out there who can clear this up for us??? That’s a pretty ornate plaque on that house, if it’s a false claim!!

Soul Kitchen – Red Bank NJ

25 Oct

We’re stepping out of New York City for the day – heading to Red Bank, New Jersey.

Well, not literally, but figuratively.

Have you heard about the restaurant there that musician Jon Bon Jovi and his wife opened?

It’s called Soul Kitchen – and by all reports it is pretty special.

From a CBS news story:

Jon Bon Jovi is trying to get rid of the negative stigma of getting a charitable free meal with his experimental new restaurant, The Soul Kitchen.

 The rocker makes it clear that his wife and his new establishment is not a soup kitchen, but a place for people who need a meal to volunteer in lieu of payment. Customers who can afford to donate a few dollars can leave a donation for their meal.

The Red Bank, N.J.-based restaurant served crusted catfish with red beans and rice, grilled chicken breast with homemade basil mayo and rice pilaf, and grilled salmon with soul seasonings, sweet potato mash and sauteed greens during the Oct. 19 opening. “This is not a soup kitchen,” he said. “You can come here with the dignity of linens and silver, and you’re served a healthy, nutritious meal. This is not burgers and fries.”

For those who can’t afford to pay for a meal, The Soul Kitchen asks that you volunteer at the restaurant washing dishes, busing tables or working in the kitchen.

Envelopes are placed on the table for those who can afford to pay. Patrons are encouraged to leave what they can afford and feel is appropriate for the meal.”

The restaurant is open Thursday, Friday & Saturday
from 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Sundays from 12:00pm – 3:00pm

Reservations should be made in advance by calling 732-842-0900.

The location is:

207 Monmouth Street
Red Bank, NJ

 New Jersey Transit trains travel from New York City’s Penn Station to New Jersey’s Red Bank station – takes maybe 1-1/2 hours each way (anybody? Is this correct?).

Sounds like a fun outing – great food, great cause, a new (for me) town to explore.

Plus, the restaurant has cute tee shirts for sale (and other merchandise as well, through the JBJ Soul Foundation).

From the restaurant’s website, here’s what they say about their volunteer opportunities:

Our volunteer opportunities fall into two categories: 1) those that need to volunteer in order to provide a meal for themselves and/or their families; and 2) those that volunteer to help staff the kitchen to assist in providing the meals to those in need. So, if you are local or have the ability to visit the Kitchen, the best way you can help would be to patronize the kitchen as a paying customer or to spread the word of our community kitchen to your neighbors. By doing so you support the financial balance of this model, where our greatest need is for a large percentage of paying customers whose payment offsets the costs of the client population who need to volunteer in order to provide their family with a healthy, nutritious meal. By dining at Soul Kitchen, you are also providing fellowship and aiding us in bringing communities together. We understand that there are many who, in addition to paying, also want to provide some service and we encourage all to get involved in their communities. Please continue to visit our website for updates and information on specific volunteer opportunities or events.”

Kudos to Mr. & Mrs. Bongiovi!

xoxo,

SAllan


The San Gennaro Festival – Italian Food, Wine, Church, & Bocce (With A Hint Of Mobster History Thrown In) – Through 9/25/11

20 Sep

The annual San Gennaro Festival is currently taking place in Little Italy; the last day this year is Sunday 9/25. I checked it out a couple of days ago.

LOVE.

Hubby is Italian – so, I’m part Italian by marriage, right?

Turns out I love just about all things Italian.

The San Gennaro Festival is a religious event – well, their website says it best:

The 85th Annual Feast of San Gennaro, New York City’s longest-running, biggest and most revered religious outdoor festival in the United States, will be held Thursday, September 15, through Sunday, September 25, 2011, on the streets of historic Little Italy, the lower Manhattan neighborhood which served as the first home in America for hundreds of thousands of Italian immigrants who came here seeking to improve their lives beginning in the early part of the 20th century.”

Religious yes, but honestly, I think a lot of people attend for the food.

Ah, the food…

I saw a woman in the crowd with a stuffed artichoke, and I died on the spot. I asked her where she got it, and after she told me I high-tailed it to my first food vendor

and then happily walked down the street with my very own stuffed artichoke.

I settled in momentarily at one of the little Beer/Wine Gardens to enjoy my delicious lunch.

No, those empty bottles are NOT discards from my lunch – they are part of the “decor”.     🙂

Then, for dessert – ONLY so I could experience it to share with the blog – I *forced* myself to devour a baby-sized cannoli.

It was pure torture.

What did I NOT eat, you ask?

Let me show you…

Italian sausage – the aroma of onions and peppers and garlic wafting throughout the Festival was simply mouth-watering!

Seafood salad, fried calamari and shrimp:

Pastas of all sorts, lasagna and meatballs:

and mountains of the Italian candy called Torrone, which is made from honey, sugar, and egg whites, with toasted almonds or other nuts.

Please remind me, why didn’t I sample the Torrone?

I’ve officially just made myself hungry! I am going to have to visit the festival again before it ends!

Now, it’s not ALL ABOUT the food. There are other vendors and events, as well.

There are a few vendors who hand-roll cigars for sale.

There are sand pits set up for Bocce tournaments:

I was intrigued by this vendor demonstrating and selling grater plates.

I ended up buying one, and I used it last night. It’s marvelous!

You can grate garlic, nutmeg, hard cheese, chocolate, ginger, horseradish… with no waste the way you get with presses and even microplanes.

(If you are interested, here’s their website.)

I visited a couple of the churches in Little Italy. They are amazing!

Here is Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral:

And here is the Most Precious Blood Church:

Both have just stunning architecture and history.

The other thing that I really wanted to view while in Little Italy was the original site of Umberto’s Clam House.

Hubby had recommended this book called “I Heard You Paint Houses“, and I had just finished reading it.

I heard you paint houses” are the first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran. To paint a house is to kill a man. The paint is the blood that splatters on the wall and floors.

This is a fascinating book, and very well-written. It’s basically the death-bed confessions of a mob gangster named Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, who “whacked” many people (25+) during his career. He claims to have shot his good friend Jimmy Hoffa on mob orders, and claims to have been involved in supplying the rifles for the mob-organized assassination of  John Kennedy.

He also claims to have been the single shooter in the 1972 mob-related assassination of “Crazy” Joe Gallo – which took place inside of Umberto’s Clam House in Little Italy.

Umberto’s has since changed locations. I believe that this is the spot where “Crazy” Joe Gallo was gunned down while in-between his seafood courses:

129 Mulberry Street. It’s pretty creepy to stand here and envision the action that took place that took place just inside that doorway to the right.

The inside of many of these bars and restaurants look just the same as they did a century ago, when they were first built.

I loved every moment during my visit. Little Italy is an amazing area to wander around, despite the throngs of tourists and locals. The history is mind-blowing, and the energy during the San Gennaro Festival is infectious.

If you are in the area, be sure to check it out!

I’m going back for some of that Torrone as soon as possible!

xoxo,

SAllan

A Few Things I Love About Coney Island

17 Sep

First of all, on a cool, fall weekday, it’s not too crowded.

For instance, here’s my subway car:

Once there, I gazed upon The Cyclone roller coaster with admiration and awe.

Built in 1927, it’s still one of the greatest wooden roller coasters around.

Here’s a story from Wikipedia:

One of its many stories is from 1948, when a coal miner with aphonia visited Coney Island. According to legend, he had not spoken in years but screamed while going down the Cyclone’s first drop, saying “I feel sick” as his train returned to the station. He prompty fainted after realizing he had just spoken.”

I took Hubby on The Cyclone once, and I honestly don’t think that he ever recovered.

Hubby’s not exactly a roller coaster kind of guy.

Then, there’s The Parachute Jump, which was built for the 1939 World’s Fair. It was relocated to Coney Island in 1941.

Here’s a great photo from Wikipedia, showing The Parachute Jump in operation in about 1939:

Wikipedia also tells us:

During World War II, when much of the city adhered to a blackout, the ride stayed lit to serve as a navigational beacon.”

And, there’s the pier.

Local men gather and fish here, spending probably most days doing this.

I think it’s their life – out on this pier.

Of course, I love Ruby’s Bar & Grill, and The Clam Bar.

And little girls who think they can catch seagulls – if they can JUST run a little bit faster…

I love the painted signs!

and the oh-so interesting people.

And I love Coney Island when the day begins to turn into night.

These are just a few things I love about Coney Island.

And, oh yeah. It’s FREE.

xoxo,

SAllan

Fun Things To Do In NYC This Weekend (And FREE!)

16 Sep

WOW – there’re lots of fun and FREE things to do here this weekend, and glorious weather here in NYC to boot!

Here are just a few suggestions:

There’s the Little Red Lighthouse Festival

From their website:

Little Red Lighthouse Festival

12:00 PM – 4:00 PM on Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fort Washington Park

Join us as we shine a light on music and the arts at our annual Little Red Lighthouse Festival.

Festival highlights include:
• Lighthouse tours with the Urban Park Rangers
• Live music including a special musical performance of “Thanks to the Lighthouse”
• Guest readings of the classic children’s book, The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.
• Fishing clinics
• Arts and Crafts
• Festival food

Directions:
Take the A train to 181st St. and enter the park from the 181st St. footbridge.
Or take the 1 train to 157th St. and enter the park at W. 158th St. and Henry Hudson Parkway.
Follow the signs and pathway to the festival site.

Free shuttles available at W. 157th St. & Broadway as well as W. 181st St. & Riverside Drive.

**********

Also on Saturday, there’s the Fall Equinox Festival going on at Pier 84

From the website:

Fall Equinox Festival

2:00 PM – 7:00 PM on Saturday, September 17, 2011

Join us for this annual festival celebrating the changing of the seasons on beautiful Pier 84 (44th Street and West Street, Manhattan).

  • Live Jazz by the Piers Lawrence Quartet
  • Live Bluegrass from the NYCity Slickers
  • FREE Arts & crafts, fishing, face painting
  • Local produce cart and much more!

**********

And on Sunday, don’t forget the kite flying:

Midtown West Kite Flight

1:00 PM – 4:00 PM on Sunday, September 18, 2011

Rooftop parking lot of the Port Authority Bus Terminal South Wing, 40th Street and Eighth Avenue, 7th Floor
FREE
Last year, upon arrival, guests received free kites and tickets that could be redeemed for snacks like hot dogs, popcorn, smoothies and Popsicles. In addition to two areas of kite flying—one for pros, the other for amateurs—there were jugglers and stilt walkers, live music, arts and crafts, and face painting teams.

**********

The annual San Gennaro Festival is going on in Little Italy from September 15, through Sunday, September 25, 2011.

From their website:

Indoor and outdoor dining at 35 of Little Italy’s most famous Italian restaurants. More than 300 licensed street vendors selling international foods, official Feast of San Gennaro, New York City and Little Italy souvenirs.

“One of New York City’s major cultural attractions!”
“Fun for the entire family!”
“New York City’s biggest and most famous street party!”
“A celebration of the Patron Saint of Naples!”

Italian Folk Songs
Fun for the Entire Family!
Arcade
 Games    Kiddie rides
Variety of Food vendors
Outdoor dining at 35 Italian restaurants and cafes
Cannoli Eating Competition & Pasta and Pizza Eating Competitions

Saturday, September 17

2 – 4 PM: 85th Birthday Party for Little Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro

Little Italy’s Feast of San Gennaro will celebrate its 85th birthday with a gala birthday celebration that will take place between 2 and 4 PM on Grand Street between Mulberry and Mott Streets. Highlights of the party will include a performance of traditional Italian music and folk songs plus the unveiling of a large 6′ birthday cake on a 3′ base, weighing 2,000 pounds designed and created by Little Italy’s world famous Ferrara’s Bakery. 100,000 slices of the cake will be distributed to members of the public on a first-come, first-served basis on Saturday afternoon during the party.

**********

And, this weekend (today, actually) Jane’s Carousel finally opens in DUMBO. (Disclaimer – NOT Free.)

Hubby and I ran across it a few years ago, while it was still being restored.

From the website:

Jane’s Carousel is a completely restored historic Carousel made by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company (PTC #61) in 1922. It is a classic 3-row machine with 48 exquisitely carved horses, and 2 superb chariots. The wood carvings, often attributed to John Zalar and Frank Carretta, are among the finest of their kind. In addition, the scenery panels, rounding boards, crests, center pole and platform are all original to the Carousel. It was the first Carousel to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Jane’s Carousel will be opening to the public on Friday September 16th in Brooklyn Bridge Park, in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn, where it is magically set on the East River, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. The Carousel is housed in a spectacular Pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize winning French architect Jean Nouvel. Jane’s Carousel will delight children, as well as visitors from around the world, for many generations to come.

The Carousel and the Nouvel commissioned Pavilion are a gift from the Walentas family to the people of the City of New York.”

SUMMER – FALL, 2011
Open 6 days
11:00 AM – 7:00 PM
(closed Tuesdays)

FALL – WINTER, 2011 – 2012
November 6 – April 5
Thursday – Sunday
11:00 AM – 6:00PM

TICKETS
Tickets are $2.00. Children age 3 and younger and those under 42” tall may ride free if accompanied by a paying adult.
Special Introductory Discount: 12 Tickets – $20.00.
Special Group rates are available.

LOCATION
The Carousel is located in the DUMBO section of The Brooklyn Bridge Park, on the East River, between the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. The Carousel is easily accessed from Park entrances at Dock Street or Main Street.

**********

If you’re at Jane’s Carousel, there’s no reason not to just head up a little ways from the water to Grimaldi’s Pizzeria.

(Of course, if you go in to eat, NOT Free.)

Get there early, or plan to wait in line to get in.

WORTH IT.

19 Old Fulton Street, under the Brooklyn Bridge.

**********

And of course, be sure to visit Coney Island before the end of September, when it will SADLY be forever changed, drastically.

Go have a cold one at Ruby’s, while you still can.

All in all, it promises to be a terrific weekend here in New York City. Get out and enjoy it!

xoxo,

SAllan

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