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Christmas in New York: Part 2

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In Christmas Part 1, I gave you a brief summary of our itinerary and slagged the possibility of contracting something awful from the subway.

In this instalment of the wonderful Christmasy world of New York,  I’m going to talk about my experience at Rolf’s restaurant and Paddy Maquire’s Ale House.

First of all, let’s talk about Rolf’s. it’s as over-the-top as you imagine. I mean, take a look at this;

 

This was my first and last Christmas trip to Rolf’s. It was one of those destinations that leave you feeling glad you did it once, but a little deflated at the same time.  The mass of decorations in photos like I’m sharing with you here give the impression that the restaurant is big enough to accommodate crowds. It is not.  It’s a tiny little space like all of the other tiny little spaces in NYC.

When I made my reservation ( in September ), I was told that each person dining MUST order an entree, and that seatings were only for one hour. Considering each meal is big enough to serve at least two people, you can’t complain about the cost. Ridiculously large, isn’t really my style. If you go and don’t order the potato pancakes, what’s really the point? And the black forest cake. If you’re gonna do it, so it right, right?

No wine list offered, but $18.00 for a 5oz glass of house plonk, really is gouging. The heat generated from all of the guests crammed uncomfortably close under a zillion lights made the hour-long giant meal uncomfortable at best.

If you want to see Rolf’s, save yourself a load of cash, and line up first thing in the morning to get into the bar area for a drink. They seat you so tightly, that standing shoulder to shoulder while sipping an overpriced Christmas cocktail seems to be the best

choice to observe this NYC Christmas landmark.

Just down the street is Paddy Maguire’s Ale House.  I happened upon this gem while waiting for my table at Rolf’s.

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I have to admit that I’m a pub girl. Irish blood runs in these veins, and there’s nothing like a good pour at an Irish pub to warm  you up from the inside out. Plus, there are always friendly regulars.

Drinks were reasonable, service was excellent, and the decorations were both bountiful and welcoming.

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If you ever find yourself lucky enough to be in the city during the holidays, Rolf’s and Paddy Maguire’s are both a must see.  Although I appreciate the effort, and commitment to wowing the Christmas crowd’s at Rolf’s, it definitely costs. It’s a one-time-visit versus a multi-visit-I-wish-I-lived-close-enought-to-be-a-regular at Paddy Maquire’s.

The rest of the NYC Christmas Extravaganza can be found here.

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Christmas is For Friendship

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I had the pleasure of getting out for dinner/dessert with a handful of people whom I don’t get to see too often.

We agreed on a place and a time, and enjoyed an evening at a gorgeous restaurant.

Life is busy, and as I get older, I prioritize my free time very carefully. Well, at least I try.

Many times I’ve heard that getting together at Christmas time is hypocritical. That the Christmas spirit is bogus. That if you can’t make time the rest of the year, why bother at Christmas time?

I’ll tell you why. It’s a damn good reminder that there is more to life than work, bills and wishing you were living on a secluded island with a muscular, pool-boy who who knows how to shake a mean margarita.

It’s a good goose on the bum to motivate you to make plans.

So, tonight was a kick-off to what I hope will be a season of cozy catch-ups over coffee, boozy brunches with the gals and lingering dinners with friends.

Tonight, as I sat listening to, and talking with my friends, I realized just how fortunate I am to have people in my life who are genuine, kind, and more intellectually and spiritually evolved than the general public.

I’ve come to beware of people who zap my energy and I know my personal boundaries.

So rest assured, if I’m spending time with you, I not only like you, I respect you. Ok, ok, I admit that I do spend time with some folks for the sheer entertainment value they provide. Use your imagination…

My wish for you this Christmas is the same as my wish for me; that you have enough time to spend with your friends to refresh your soul, and enough entertainment to keep some fire in your soul.

 

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Holiday Flirting Season Kick-Off

redDear Gal-Pals,

Let it be known that I still have that Irish Fire I was known for in my youth.

Although there are men who never learn their lesson, I still believe there are good, fun, and very wonderful men out there, regardless of how poor my judgement, my grand naiveté, or my bubbly fuelled fairytale fantasies.

Ok, maybe the good ones are scarce, but the fun ones are a’plenty, and that’s all a girl really needs.

Let the games begin, and may the best,( very best ) man win…

Giddy-up and happy holidays!

 

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Christmas Care for the Caring

snuggleWonderful. Beautiful. Lovely.

Adjectives that caring folks often use. At Christmas time, everything is supposed to be extra wonderful, extra beautiful, and extra lovely.

Putting on a kind face when everything is not can take a heavy toll. We often hear our friends  talk about their suffering, but never really hear it.

So in the days leading up to the holiday, remember that the ones who never buckle under pressure, who always seem to hold everyone else together are human too.

It may be a text, email or phone call. Better yet, be there with a hug and a shoulder. Take a chance on someone who makes your heart go pitter-patter and snuggle up under the duvet for a movie or heart to heart.

Have another first kiss or a first, first kiss. Be their shining light on the darkest nights.

Sometimes it’s the caring ones, the bold ones, and the seemingly brave that have the most fragile of hearts.

Don’t forget that the caring ones among us need to be cared for too.

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A Christmas Kind of Cozy

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tateshina-snow-tree-20130216 (Photo credit: kenmainr)

Dogwood and evergreens are just steps outside my patio door. In the summer they provide shade and privacy, and during the late fall months, they stand barren against the desolate pervading grey.

Today was our first real snow fall. The kind that hits the meteorologists radar a few days in advance, and has people panicking to put on snow tires, find snow brushes, and get their shovels ready.

With the absence of having to shovel or scrape my car ( I love city living), my first-snowfall-of-the-season to-do list was more like; get all food, drink, and Christmas baking ingredients in the house so we don’t have to leave until Monday morning.

People think I’m crazy because I have my gifts together, house decorated, and even the special ingredients for my Christmas baking in the house weeks before the holiday. Other than fresh produce that I pick up through the week, we’re fully stocked.

I think people who save all of their errands for weekends and the weeks just before Christmas insane, driven by consumerism and brainwashed by the glossy-magazine-cover-demands of Christmas.

Christmas isn’t just the 25th of December, it’s the entire season. There’s nothing better than to be able to really relax when company comes by, or to take your time baking and merry-making.

As I pulled the covers up to my chin last night, I drifted off to sleep as excited as a child about not having to set my alarm, and not having to go to work. For that matter, not having to do anything at all.

I was roused from my sleep at 6am when my alarm went off. My weekend alarm. The one I only set for weekends on call, and three AM limousine pick-ups to the airport. The one I forgot I had set for last weekend for some ungodly reason.  For a split-second I contemplated getting up, but before I made up my mind, I was back in dreamland.

Managing to get out of the house before 11am on the weekend is a grand coup here. But today, so very excited to have no agenda, no ‘have-to’, ‘ought-to’, or ‘need-to-do’ chores, I was up and out at 8:45, happy to snag a newspaper and my favourite cup of take-out coffee before the snow really began to fly.

I managed to drink my coffee and read the paper without interruption, rushing, or having  pull my coat over my shoulders as I usually due at my regular café to guard against the drafty window seat.

All the while, our kitten was cozied up on my lap, and the old cat was snugged into his favourite spot on the chesterfield. The evergreens and dogwood were already covered in snow, and I was so thankful to just be inside. I had a perfect, cozy, group-of-seven-view just outside my window.

After a big breakfast and confirming our plans for ‘no plans’, our home settled in to that Sunday afternoon feeling. We peeled clementines, munched lunch,drank refreshing spritzers, and managed to bake up some yummies.

With some foresight and good planning, dinner is in the freezer, ready for a trip to the oven, and our fireplace is full, ready to start our evening fire.

Finally, after a weeks of rushing to holiday parties and school events, on this lazy day of not having to do anything, it finally feels like Christmas.

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Christmas Top Ten

English: Christmas cookies Deutsch: Weihnachts...
English: Christmas cookies Deutsch: Weihnachtskekse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the holidays.

Yes, even the displays in the stores that begin in October. Just because we live in a world where we are brainwashed into our consumer stupors, doesn’t mean we have to participate.

It’s ok, more than ok, just to enjoy the lights, the energy, and be quietly reflective.

Today I offer you my current Top Ten list of Christmasy things to help get your ‘Christmas On’

 

1) Eggnog, eggnot lattes (which, I must confess, comes a close second (gasp!) to the Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte), Eggnog and rum, Eggnog shortbread, Eggnog snogs under the mistletoe…

2) Christmas Carols, and radio stations that are ‘All Christmas’ at this time of year. After all, you can always turn it off and on whenever the mood strikes.

3) Snuggling under a blanket and watching the snow fall.

4) A warm, roaring fireplace.

5) Cookies. There is always an abundance at Christmas time, and I can totally enjoy that!!!

6) Donating or volunteering for charities. It’s fun, it makes you feel good, and it helps other people – t’is the season after all!

7) Christmas parties – an excuse to buff and scrub and feel pretty…and dance!

8) Getting Christmas cards in the mail. Better than bills and junk mail by far. This includes the crazy, too-freaking-much-information letters that people send out. I love those.

9) Giving gifts. Whether it’s a cup of coffee or a coveted luxury item, it’s nice to light up someone’s day and let them know that you listen, and you like to make them happy.

10) Time with friends. This my number one favourite thing about Christmas. This is a gift you can’t return, or have stolen from  you. It’s the true meaning of the season, and I look so forward to these special coffee, dinner, party…and ‘whatever’ dates with my friends, family and colleagues.

I hope that this niggles your hum-bug and helps you see some of the simple joys that are available not just during Christmas time, but all year ’round.

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Secret Santa For Your Sweetheart

English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift.
English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My shopping is finished before mid-November. My wrapping is complete within a week of putting up my tree (also in November), and my schedule is chock-a-block with Christmas get-togethers by the time the calendar is turned to the month of December.

And then I think of just one more gift. Just one more person who could use a little treat.

That one more person is often the current apple of my very hard to catch beautiful blue eye.

First there is the question of whether to buy a gift at all.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? What if they get all awkward and all, “I forgot your gift at home,” or, well, just weird.

But what if they don’t? What if they genuinely love the idea that you thought enough of them to offer them something at Christmas time?

What if, whether or not they turn out to be the love of your life or not, you end up brightening up someone’s life during the season of mystery, light and goodwill. Either way, going out on the gift-giving limb is win-win, situation.

Are you afraid of rejection or having your pride hurt? Sissy. If, at this stage we don’t go after what we want, we’ll be lonely old pitiful souls.

So, I have decided that this year, I will be buying the man who puts a twinkle in my eye and a little skip in  my middle-aged step a small gift to let him  know that he is in my heart.

For the ladies and gentleman out there who aren’t ready to hop into the sack, profess their undying love, nor are ready to give up getting to know someone special, I offer you a list of things you may wish to offer as a small token of your affection;

1) A beautiful pair of gloves or mittens with a little note..think something like, ” Wishing you a warm and cozy holiday,” for the more bold, you may like to try, “These are to keep your strong, capable hands warm so that you can warm me up later tonight.”

2) Cologne/Perfume; a small bottle. Perhaps offer to dab a little bit behind their ear and then take a slow breath next to their skin to inhale the scent. For the more bold lovers out there, buy yourself a wonderful new scent, dab a bit on your décolletage, direct their schnoz to your perfumed fleshy heaven and ask them if they like it.

3) Homemade baking. We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but women also appreciate a man who knows how to stir up something sweet.

4) An ornament. Be prepared to explain why it’s special and why you chose it for your sweetheart.

5) Music. Let them know which song reminds you of them and why.

6) Take them out for a walk or a movie or a quaint cup of coffee. Time, after all is a wonderful gift, and one that everyone appreciates.

7) A wine, scotch, bourbon or beer tasting. Go out and have some fun. Let them know that you know what they like, and you want them to  enjoy themselves.

8) A cozy blanket. Again, I suggest a note for the meek, ” Wishing you a warm and cozy Christmas.” For the less meek, “Hoping we can get into some trouble under the covers.”

9) An advent calendar with notes tucked inside. For the meek, include something pithy, generic and inspirational from tumbler, etc. For the less meek, leave a daily hint as to where to find you under the mistletoe on a certain date, at an exact time – clothing optional.

10) Give them a calendar for the new year with notes and dates you’ll spend together, written throughout the months of the year.

Whatever you decide to do, just DO something.