Connecticut By Commuter Rail

Sunday, I headed up to Connecticut to attend E’s little cousin’s 4th birthday party. E had gone up the night before to go to the UConn basketball game at his alma mater, so I got to train up by myself. There’s something lovely about train travel, even just the commuter rail (on the weekend, when there are no commuters, of course). Things around here have been crazy, both in our apartment and in my head, and I was happy to have two and a half hours to myself to listen to music, read a book rather lazily, and mostly just watch the backs of abandoned riverside factories pass by. Oh, New England.

One of the things I love most about MetroNorth is my departure point from NYC: Grand Central Terminal.

It’s a beautiful train station, with a ceiling to die for, and it’s always bustling with people on their way to or from not-so-distant places.

And, if you’re ever lucky to be there with my darling husband, he’ll spend the entire visit talking your ear off about what a shame it is that they tore down the old Penn Station. And, I mean, he’s right, but I prefer to just appreciate GCT for the jewel it is.

When I got on the train (where I was one of 3 people in my car — ahhhh, Sunday morning commuter rail trips!), I realized my nails matched the ceiling at GCT — teal with gold flecks, and I had to document the serendipity. I decided to try out the combo the night before after thinking about it for a couple of days, and it’s one of my favorite manicures of recent date!

Once I got off the train, I wandered around the abandoned station house for a little while before hopping in the car to visit with E’s family.

It was a lovely day, and in the evening we drove (which, as a gal who takes mass transit everywhere, was its own transportation-glee) home in time to watch the Oscars. This weekend ahead, I get to take the train twice more, and I’m excited to sit back and let someone else do the… driving? Conducting? Whatever, I just know I won’t have to think about it.

100 Things To Go

The other day, someone on the Internet (that really narrows the field, eh? UPDATE: It was Kinzie of From a Small Step!) linked to Makeunder My Life, which chronicles one person’s quest to simplify their life. That’s something that E and I have been talking about a lot lately. We live in a small one-bedroom apartment, so there’s not really that much stuff we can accumulate. Even still, we haven’t moved in 2.5 years and have therefore avoided a major clean-out while also going through several periods of stuff-getting (lookin’ atchu, wedding). So, this weekend, as I cleaned up our apartment but still felt like I was drowning in stuff, I decided to take a page out of MML and get rid of 100 things. That means throwing out, selling, or donating, as the case may be. One hundred things sounds like a lot, but frankly, I don’t think it’ll be too hard. Which, I guess, really means I need to do this exercise!

So, here’s to 100 things being gone from my apartment, and decluttering not only my shelves, but my head a bit, too.

Tessie, who watched me clean this weekend, and will undoubtedly take advantage of this process as a chance to climb into every single previously-unexplored nook and cranny in our apartment.

ETA: Minutes after posting this, I stumbled on this link to 101 Things That Can Be Reduced in Your Home. While this list is general categories of things (glassware, for instance), it’s a good starting point, and a good reminder that most of us have too much of just about everything.

We Do New York: Local Queens Fun

Things have been sort of bananas lately. Work has been crazy, and nearly every weekend has been chock full of travel, or visitors, or both. This weekend we had blessedly little on the docket, so we took the opportunity to spend time with some local friends and finally give the apartment a fraction of the TLC it’s been missing out on while we’ve run all over the place. While I was waiting for the Chinese food delivery guy (hey, I never said we were superheroes) to run up the stairs with our order, I looked at our newly clean living room and thought to myself, Hey, this place is actually pretty nice when it’s in some kind of order. I tend to get pretty negative about our apartment and everything we hate about it, but we’ve lived here for 2.5 years and it is most definitely a reflection of us, if nothing else.

So, about that whole hanging-out-locally thing. As residents of an outer borough, it is somehow very gratifying to spend an entire weekend without crossing that body of water that separates our home turf from Manhattan. The trains are basically always messed up on the weekends, and, well, it just seems so much further away if you have to go underground (the subways out here are elevated).  E and I spent Saturday during the day wandering around the old world’s fairgrounds further out in Queens, enjoying the beautiful 50 degree weather. The former fairgrounds are now a park that is in some disrepair, and is peppered with the remnants of New York’s 1939-40 and 1964-65 world’s fairs. Being something an enthusiast for theme parks and world’s fairs, this park was one of the things that made me excited about moving to New York when I was generally pretty unhappy about the deal. When we rented our apartment, we had to drive to a bank to take out cash to give our landlord, and we passed the fairgrounds on the highway. I saw the top of the Unisphere poking out above the trees and was immediately excited to visit, and that’s still true today.

Image

As usual, we wandered around the New York state pavilion, and did some people-watching by the Unisphere. We had grand plans to go to the Queens Zoo, also in the park, but it was chillier than we anticipated, so we ducked into the Queens Museum of Art (recently — and oddly — featured in the movie New Year’s Eve) to visit our old friend, the Panorama of the City of New York. The park remains one of my favorite off-the-beaten-path sites in the city, and if you have the time to trek out there, I highly recommend it. I’m hoping to use a Mets game as an excuse to get back out there again in the coming months, to drink some beer and heckle some baseball players who make way more money than I ever will!

Saturday night, we met friends at a speakeasy-style lounge in Long Island City called Dutch Kills. No one in our group had been there, but it was a fun bar with a great vibe and fantastic cocktails. We got there around nine and were able to get a table right away, and all night the place was just the right amount of busy — you felt like there was a lot going on without being overwhelmed. I am not generally a mixed-drink kind of gal, but this bar was a delicious exception.

Image

Something we all oohed and ahhed over was the fact that each drink was chilled with hand-cut ice to suit the needs of that beverage. Above was my drink for most of the night, the Marie Antoinette, with its tiny little cylinders of ice. Other folks at the table had drinks “on a rock” — with literally one large chunk of ice — or “served long” in a tall glass with a single long, cylindrical piece of ice. Definitely cool (pun not intended, but appreciated). They also include the recipes for their cocktails on their menu, which you can download from their web site. That kind of inclusiveness helps counteract the pretentiousness of a bar this young masquerading as a speakeasy, and makes me pretty excited to try to recreate some of our favorite sips from the evening.

E and I both slept off our booze this morning, which was well worth it for a lot of reasons. We’re gearing up to watch the season finale of Downton Abbey tonight, and I am more excited than I probably should be. I want to run out and get some snacks for the viewing, but can’t think of anything themey, and the whole point of watching television is themed snacks, am I right? Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but I was pretty stoked that time I made “fish biscuit” sugar cookies for a Lost viewing party. I do have a bottle of sparkling wine in the fridge. I mean, fancy wine is appropriate, no?