Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Here's another view of New Kam Man, my favorite grocery/housewares/take-out food shop in Chinatown. For those visiting NYC, the store's address is 200 Canal Street. Happy shopping. I'm off to New Jersey for a few days. Coming soon, photos of my new couch and a yummy present I've received.

Monday, February 25, 2008


Got your walking shoes on? First stop... Chinatown.
Jean and Nhi live in Virginia and were visiting NYC for the first time since they were kids. Even though I might now be considered an out-of-towner, it was my pleasure to show them around town.Unlike years past, it is now perfectly safe to watch the Chinese New Year parade. You no longer risk your clothes catching fire or going deaf from the constant explosions of several tons of fireworks.
Fireworks, traditionally tossed from rooftops and windows onto those below, are now outlawed. Really! There wasn't a firework in sight. The mini explosives have been replaced by poppers which quietly spew colorful confetti into the air.
After watching the parade for a while, we headed across Chintatown to meet up with my friend Chitsou and have dim sum. Born in China, Chitsou is my local dim sum expert.

Dim sum is served for breakfast and lunch in numerous Chinatown restaurants. Golden Unicorn, a three-floor mega-restaurant, is my current favorite. It is known for serving a huge assortment of steamed buns, noodle dishes, braised veggies and authentically-prepared seafood. The offerings, served from rolling carts, change every hour or so. The servers shout out what they have on their carts in Chinese.
Nhi, who is Vietnamese, and Jean, who is Korean, quickly mastered the “peek and point” technique to get the tiny dishes of dumplings and other fare they desired. When Chitsou showed up, however, there was rapid fire conversations, which yielded a few especially tasty specialties along with delicious chrysanthemum tea.
After brunch, with Chitsou as our interpreter, we went shopping and each of us found exactly the Asian ingredients and housewares we were looking.Around 3 PM, we crossed Canal Street and wandered into the Little Italy section of lower Manhattan. Since it was a chilly day, we stopped at the Ferrara Café for cappuccinos .... and some of their legendary Italian pastry, of course.
A few calories later, we headed for Soho, where expensive restaurants and shops selling luxury goods have replaced many of the art galleries.

Eventually, I journeyed back to the hotel where I changed my clothes and went right back out. It was time to meet yet another group of friends for a late dinner!

Fish, a seafood restaurant on Bleeker Street, was my destination. I ordered a salad (I was still full from the morning’s munching) but enjoyed checking out the fabulous seafood specialties that shared the table with my greenery. The blackened, grilled, and fried fish all looked wonderful.

After dinner, the guys (I was the only female this evening) wanted to go to a café for dessert. We strolled along Bleeker Street checking out several quirky clothing shops, a few restaurants, a luxury pet boutique pet, and a used CD store before arriving at Rocco’s Pastry Shop. The gang drank exotic coffee creations and ate pastries while we argued about politics. Having finally reached my limit… I ordered a mint tea.

MYSTERY PROJECT UPDATE: A new annotated outline is due tomorrow. Once it gets approved by the publisher, I will begin work on the second draft. The major changes are that the 900 some odd word Introduction that I wrote has been divided into a Foreword, which will be signed by the designer and an expanded Introduction. The chapters have been slightly rearranged in Part 1 of the book and certain ones need to be expanded, too. Looks like March will be a very busy month for me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


I'm back, staring at my computer screen again. My Flamenco Festival weekend in NYC was great. Need some vicarious thrills -- or calories? Read on…
Note: This isn't NYC. I took some of today's photos in Spain when I was there in 2006 for the Flamenco Biennial. This ceramic embellished building tower was in Seville. I've provided photo info, so you won't get lost.

FRIDAY'S AGENDA: Today, Dan and I worked on revising our bios and putting together a few paragraphs of tantalizing text describing our Cozy Waterside Cottages book.

Our editor at Gibbs Smith needs to submit copy for their Spring 2009 catalog before she goes on maternity leave in March. We also spent some time researching a future project.
(El Alcazar, Seville, Spain)

Our research took us to Smith Street, one of Brooklyn's tragically hip shopping destinations. Home & Haven and Environment337 are two chic home boutiques that are must sees.
(Home & Haven)

We also stopped into one of my favorite Boerum Hill haunts, Ohio Knitting Mills.
The shop’s story is unique. Several years ago, sculptor Steven Tatar was searching for scrap metal near his Cleveland studio and came across an abandoned factory.

Inside, he discovered thousands of never sold sweaters, capes, vests, and other knit goods. He acquired the rights to sell the Ohio Knitting Mills items and opened his novel shop.
Brand new, yet vintage, all of the shop's knits were produced from 1947 through 1974 when the mill was shuttered.

We also checked out several of the antique and salvage shops on Atlantic Avenue. In the early 80s, when I lived on Atlantic Avenue, there were dozens of shops and bargains to be had.

Now, the number of shops has shrunk and the price tags have skyrocketed. Looking to blow the budget? Try City Foundry (and City Foundry Annex) for an intriguing assortment of quirky salvage and vintage wares. One of their scrap metal robots would make a great conversation piece.
(Cordoba, Spain)

CHOW DOWN: Lunch (party of 2): Brawta, my favorite Jamaican restaurant. Since I was going to be having an early dinner, I ordered the "available all day" breakfast special, ackee and salt cod.
Dinner (party of 2): Molyvos, a Greek restaurant around the corner from City Center. Assorted spreads, salad, and grilled fish with wild greens and lentils.
Terrific tidbits catered by Solera.

FLAMENCO: Tonight my friend Linda and I attended the World Music Institute’s 8th annual Flamenco Festival Gala at City Center. (I’ve missed only one of the eight galas due to a severe flu.)

City Center resembles a mosque with neo-Moorish architecture and decorations. It was built in 1923 as a meeting hall for the members of the Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine and later converted into a concert hall.
It was great catching up with dozens of music world friends, sipping Spanish wines and nibbling on tapas.
Before the show, there were free flamenco lessons and Marisa (above) shows off her moves.

This year, the show was titled Mujeres (Women). It showcased three dancers, Rocio Molina (below, who stole the show), Belen Maya (who in the show must go on tradition danced with a sprained ankle), and Merche Esmeralda (one of Flamenco’s grande dames) plus Diana Navarro, an outstanding singer.The show was extraordinary. Jennifer Dunning of the New York Times agreed with me. In her review of the performance she said, “the core of [Rocio’s] solo was a sustained build-up that was spellbinding, a term I resolutely stayed away from for three decades.”
(Robert and Helene, Cordoba, Spain)

SWEET DREAMS: I spent the night, or what was left of it at a friends’ apt in Brooklyn Heights. (Full Disclosure: my friends, Robert and Helene Browning, are the executive director and publicity director of The World Music Institute.)

(Courtyard, Cordoba, Spain)

SATURDAY’S AGENDA: My hosts and I shopped at several Middle Eastern groceries, bakeries and record shops. I stocked up on some hard-to-find ingredients and a reissue of an old Arabic CD.

(Seville, Spain)

CHOW DOWN: Lunch (party of 3): Assorted Middle Eastern salads, fresh baked pita bread with string cheese and a spinach potato pie.
(party of 8): Azucar/Guantanamera, about 2 blocks from City Center. Shared appetizers (including calamari, chorizos and seviche) and Cazuela Marinera (seafood casserole)
(Cordoba, Spain)

Tonight, our group of six fans of Spanish dance headed to City Center to see Eva Yerbabuena’s Santo y Sena (Signs and Wonders), another performance in Flamenco Festival 2008.

Several years ago at The Festival, Eva’s flamenco ballet 5 Mujeres 5 wowed me. This time I was disappointed. Que lastima (What a pity!)

(Cordoba, Spain)
To Be Continued...

MYSTERY PROJECT UPDATE: The latest new creative team has requested a substantial reorganization of the existing material. "Cut and Paste" makes moving around text blocks easy but unfortunately, it doesn’t magically provide flawless transition paragraphs. That is my problem!

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Blame it on the weather! Yesterday, I planned on posting about a few special environmentally friendly products.
Today, I planned on a Valentine’s Day tribute.
On Tuesday afternoon, however, an unexpected ice storm hit. My husband couldn’t get home from work and had to stay at a hotel.
On wednesday we lost power, heat, and phone service. The problems continued sporadically all day yesterday. (Wish I had a Gaiam radio, see below. )

Since yesterday was the first day the The Mystery Project (TMP) resumed production, the power problems made life very difficult indeed. We now have a new editor at the publishing company and a new deadline (June.) More about this next week.
Hope you don't mind, but I decided to combine the two posts-- first comes green, then pink.

If only part of the post appears and not the rest, please know it wasn’t an operator error, blame it on the weather.
(Photo by GlassCityJungle.com)

Kermit the frog, of Sesame Street fame, was famous for saying “It’s not easy being green.” But, nowadays, if you interpret ‘green’ as being environmentally conscious it’s getting easier each and every day.

Companies concerned with the environment –or their bottom line—are going green. I’d like to share some of my favorites.

From flooring to furniture, bamboo is one of the most fabulous, renewable resources there is!
I’d like to introduce bamboo’s softer side. Did you know bamboo rivals the softest Egyptian cotton or cashmere?

In addition to its luscious feel, bamboo is hypoallergenic, allows your skin to breathe, absorbs odors naturally, and is easy to care for.
Bamboo Dreams bedding is cozy, soft, and incredibly comfortable! You’ll find gorgeous green coverlets, sheet sets, shams, and blankets in a rainbow of colors at www.dreamsack.com.
(Photo by Soy Silk)
Southwest Trading Company (www.soysilk.com) makes sustainable stitching easy. In addition to an assortment of wonderful yarns spun from bamboo fibers, they also produce yarns from annually renewable resources like corn, soy, milk, and chitin (a combination of shrimp and crab shells.

Gardeners are the most environmentally conscious group of people, right? Wrong! As more folks take up gardening, the release of toxic chemicals into the air, soil and water has reached crisis level.

According to author Joe Lamp, if most gardeners watered early in the morning, instead of the other times of the day, nationally we would save at least 700 billion gallons of water each year!
Joe, a master gardener and certified landscape professional, has thought about environmentally sound ways to water and more. (He's also thought of Valentine's Day and wore a pink shirt for the occasion!)

Joe’s just published The ‘GREEN’ Gardener’s Guide features practical information and quick ideas for eco-friendly gardens. Get started by visiting www.joegardener.com to learn more about environmental stewardship through gardening and beyond!

While you may not be able to get off the grid with these new motion and sun-powered products from Gaiam, even small efforts can yield big rewards.
Give the Shake Light a few jiggles of the wrist and it charges up instantly. Ten seconds of shaking delivers about two minutes of light.
At just 2.5 oz., the SideWinder is the smallest, lightest and most powerful portable cell phone charger made. Two minutes of cranking delivers 5-6 minutes of talk time, or up to 30 minutes standby.
A built-in solar panel, hand crank and AC adapter give you charging versatility with this Solar Radio. Only 30 seconds of cranking powers the internal NiMH battery for 35 minutes of AM and FM broadcasts.

Happy Valentine’s Day.
Doesn’t this Scarlet Ibis remind you of a big pink feathery heart? I photographed her (him?) in Barbados several years ago. I’ve knicknamed her Scarlet. Yes, I really do\ have a thing for birds!
Just in case you didn’t receive flowers this year (or even if you did!), these are for you.

I’m off to NYC for my annual Flamenco Festival fix. See you all next week.

*** BLOG DU JOUR ***
For someone who loves to cook – and bake—like I do, a little less cream in the chowder, a little more veggies in the empanadas are my ideas of healthier living. Since Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate, wait until tomorrow to visit Kavit’s Wellness Junction blog. www.wellness-junction.com

Monday, February 11, 2008

Centennial Subjects

Hip Hip Hooray! This is my 100th post!
The house is getting back to normal slowly but surely. We had very strong winds over the weekend. By noon Sunday, the power went out and one of our heavy wooden English benches blew over.
A few hours later, a 40-foot tree uprooted and is now leaning across my driveway.was fabulous! 60 is a sensational, 70 is sentimental, 80 is elegant, and 90 is nifty… so, I’m not sure what the significance of the 100th post is but I’ve been told it is reason to celebrate. For me, just being able to blog is a reason to celebrate.

I’ve always been a Luddite when it comes to new technology (see www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luddite for more on the subject.) Over the past few years, however, I’ve worked very hard to overcome this disability. In fact, I now can’t imagine life without cell phones, iPods and Wi-Fi!

Anyhow, what we all should celebrate is … our earth.Yes, talking about living a “green” life is trendy but it’s also an age-old problem.

During the ancient Roman Empire, toga-wearing senators discussed the toxic pollution caused by early metal production for chariots and tools.
In North America, no doubt, Native Americans were appalled as they watched the American Colonists dam rivers (causing abundant freshwater fish supplies to dwindle) and clear woods to establish cities (causing led to erosion.)And in modern times, British peers debated how to prevent another Great Smog, like the one that occurred in December 1952 and killed more than 3000 people.

Recognizing the effects of pollution is nothing new and resolving to change our evil ways is as old as mankind. ..but now, it's more critical than ever to do something to save our planet for future generations. You don’t need to go off the grid and produce your own power with solar panels and wind force to make a difference.Small changes in your home, such as substituting inexpensive alternatives to toxic home products, choosing low VOC paints or buying natural materials instead of ones that rely on petroleum, can make a difference.
Today's Home Tour photos prove that Going Green can be stylish!
My friends Hideko and Bob have lived in two different houses since we met. Both were beautiful and earth-friendly.
Born in Japan, Hideko mixes traditional Asian elements with western ones.
Wood, clay and natural fibers star in her decorating schemes.
Her kitchen is unique and "green".
Textures are used to create vignettes.A talented poet and artist, Hideko cherishes handmade items and chooses them instead of mass-produced ones.
She also creates her own pottery masterpieces.

The powder room is simple -- yet stunning. Wood surfaces have been cut and polished to fit Hideko's design, yet they look as if they "just happened".

*** BLOG DU JOUR ***
In case the concept of Green decorating has whet your whistle, Natural Home is a great magazine. Visit their web site for more doable ideas.