Diana's Dresses

I have been an Anglophile since the Royal Wedding. Not Kate and William - the other one. So when Scott and I first visited London together a few years back, he was very patient as I slowly strolled through an exhibit of Diana's dresses at Kensington Palace.

London is calling me again this year, with this new exhibition of Diana's dresses that marks the 20th anniversary of her August 1997 death. However, since we just visited London again last fall, and will be nowhere in the neighborhood of Kensington Palace this summer, I am enjoying scrolling through photos from the exhibition from the Daily Mail, and on the Palace web site.

In middle school, I thought so many of these dresses were quite stylish. I suppose they were at the time, but in hindsight, some of the early ones (like that billowing wedding dress) aren't really my cup of tea. A few - like the shift dress above left or the one below in which she famously danced with John Travolta at the White House - are a little more timeless than some of the other frothy frocks.

You can check out most of the dresses on display here. What are your favorites?


* Photos from The Daily Mail.

Our (Second) Shot at "Hamilton"

We looove it when family ventures up to New York City to see us - especially during the dead of winter, when there is a decent chance you will be treated to one of our surprise snowstorms or President's Day blizzards - or land in the middle of a polar vortex.

But the sun came out - all weekend - and the weather got downright warm in the 50s and 60s for our visit from Scott's brother and sister-in-law. We invited up them since we had two extra tickets to (wait for it...) "Hamilton" on Friday night, and they decided to make a weekend of it.

They arrived early Friday morning, giving me an excuse to make a ham, mushroom and soufflé for breakfast. After fueling up on soufflé and hot coffee - plus croissants and brioche from our nearby Maison Kayser - we jumped on the M3 bus and headed uptown to the Hamilton Grange, a National Park Service site and museum that includes the only house that Alexander Hamilton ever owned. Not surprisingly, with the popularity of all-things-Hamilton over the last two years, the number of visitors to this place has increased.

We saw - and loved - "Hamilton" when it opened in 2015. I have been pre-gaming a bit in recent weeks, listening to the soundtrack more than usual and getting back into the revolutionary spirit, so this was the perfect pre-show outing.

Here's the view of from this uptown property at 141st Street and Hamilton Terrace. It's quiet there.

And a peek inside the Hamilton's parlor.

After a bit of non-Hamiltonian sightseeing at The Cloisters (part of the Met Museum), and much needed afternoon naps all around, we met up at the theatre and took the obligatory pre-show selfies.

Do we look excited or what?



Art That An Eight-Year-Old Will Love

I have lived in New York City for 19 years, but never set foot in the Guggenheim museum until last February when we got a free year-long membership through the NYC ID program. It's funny how the closer things are - the less likely we sometimes are to visit. The museum is only about a 10-minute walk from our apartment, so as our membership year winds down, we have been squeezing in a few visits.

Depending on the exhibition, the Guggenheim sometimes shows what one might call "challenging" art. Unlike other museums around the city, it's not exactly a popular place to take children.

But on one recent Saturday morning, two installations in the "Tales of Our Time" exhibition enthralled most of the people we observed viewing them - including the seven- and eight-year-olds who were probably not super-enthusiastic about a museum visit.

This exhibit is housed on the fifth floor (tour tip: at the Guggenheim, always start on five), and these were the first two works we saw. 

"Can't Help Myself" is the title of this - and you can't help but keep watching. It's mesmerizing.

While Scott stayed...and stayed...with this, I moved along to the adjacent gallery, where you will find "In The End Is The Word." It starts with extensive footage of a calm sea - eventually adding battleships and finally culminating in what you see below.

Also on display, and likely of interest to kids: a working solid gold toilet ("America" by Maurizio Cattelan).

Yes, you can use it - if you're willing to stand on lines that run well more than an hour during busy times.

Since they were installing new exhibitions during our January visit, we went back again yesterday.  

As a fan of Jackson Pollock's work, I was excited to see his "Alchemy" painting being shown starting February 10. This was the first of his "drip" paintings for which he became so famous. It was restored just a few years ago, and then displayed at the Guggenheim in Venice. Much as I'd love to go back to Venice, the New York museum is a bit more convenient, and I loved being able to hop over a few blocks to take it in. They also have fascinating displays and videos in a separate gallery about the restoration process.    

The "Tales of Our Time" exhibition runs through March 10 if you are in town and have a chance to stop by. You can check out the Guggenheim's web site for details, including extensive interpretations of the meanings of these and other works on display.

Sunday Stories

Now that holidays are "officially" upon us, I am totally immersed in holiday reading.  

On our recent visit to London, we found ourselves fascinated by the ceramic "Blue Plaques" that adorn houses where famous (and infamous) people lived.  The New York Times recently had an article discussing the history of these plaques.  As one who is obsessed with "A Christmas Carol" in all forms, what better way to celebrate the holiday season than a stop by Dickens' house? 

Photo from  The New York Times .

Photo from The New York Times.

Last week, I was getting ready to make pumpkin bread - with all of the ingredients staged around the kitchen counter - when this recipe for Soft Pumpkin Cookies popped up on Lovely Little Kitchen's Instagram.  Decisions, decisions.  I made the pumpkin bread - essential to our Thanksgiving dinner - but these are on next weekend's agenda.

Can't wait to see the new permanent installation on NYC history "New York at Its Core" at the Museum of the City of New York.  This museum is only about a 15-minute walk from our apartment, but we don't get there nearly as often as I would like. 

If you still have leftover stuffing. Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, turkey gravy and more, layer them up into The Kitchn's recipe for Leftover Thanksgiving Lasagna.  Our leftovers consist mostly of turkey and cranberry sauce (mmm...sandwiches), but if you try this, let me know what you think.

I am so addicted to Apartment Therapy's House Tours.  I can't pull up the site without spending at least half an hour scrolling through, especially any and all apartments and flats in New York, London and Paris.

Finally, this weekend, the New York Times published their list of the 100 most notable books of 2016.  How many have you read? 

Have a lovely - and festive - week! 



Summer in the City

Even if you have never watched the classic Marilyn Monroe film "The Seven Year Itch," you have at least seen the iconic subway grate scene.

When I first saw this on a movie channel in high school, though, what I remembered most was that mothers in this 1955 film would take the kids to the country or the beach for the summer, while most of the men stayed behind to work (and presumably chase Marilyn and her friends) in sweltering, non-air-conditioned Manhattan.

Fleeing New York City during the summer is still a "thing," albeit on a much smaller scale.  (Why work in the city when you can take your iPhone and laptop to the beach?)  As a result, in the more residential (read: non-tourist) areas, people clear out, leaving those of us who don't rent houses in the Hamptons to have the run of the place - especially on weekends.

If you visit and spend most of your time in Times Square or downtown, you will probably not notice this phenomenon.  But neighborhoods like our Upper East Side Yorkville 'hood are relatively quiet - especially as summer winds down in late August.  The sidewalks are empty, you can go grocery shopping without having people bump into you, you can easily hail a taxi at almost any hour, and you can get a table at almost any restaurant. 

You still can't get "Hamilton" tickets, but hey, you can't have everything.

On a recent weekend, we took full advantage of the lack of crowds.  Since I have traveled for work most weeks - and even some weekends - this summer, it is always nice to have a full weekend at home with Scott, without either of us having to pack a bag and go to the airport on Sunday.

One Friday night, we got the party started with a free performance of "The Taming of the Shrew" at Shakespeare in the Park.

Saturday morning, after walking up to East Harlem to pick up cakes for a going-away party for friends at church, we just enjoyed strolling around the empty streets. 

We then dropped by Luke's Lobster for lunch.  We ordered one meal to share (we're kind of sappy and romantic that way), enjoying the fact that this joint was less crowded than any lobster place on a beach might be.


This was followed by a walk in the park, then a friend's birthday party on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  In addition to bars and gorgeous views of Central Park, the Met rooftop has an exhibition space that is currently occupied by what is referred to as the "PsychoBarn."  Not to be missed if you are in town through - appropriately enough - Halloween.


We wrapped the evening at a romantic Italian restaurant, snagging a quaint sidewalk table on a Saturday night with no wait or reservation.  On our early morning walk before church on Sunday, we only encountered a few people walking their dogs in our neighborhood park, Schurz Park.

Only two more summer weekends before everyone is back in the city, school starts, and fall craziness is underway.  

How do you celebrate the end of summer?  What are your weekend plans?