Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lobster One at Palm One

One of our best buddies in the building is Arthur up on the 40th floor. He's the first person we call to come to dinner or to a party, and he's the first person who jumps to help when we need something. Arthur is a born and bred New Yorker, so we do our best to teach him about the South, and in turn, he tells us all we need to know about New York, specificially about restaurants. He knows the best places in the neighborhood, the best nights to attend and the best foods to order.

Twenty years ago, Arthur and his friends were such popular regulars at New York's Palm One that their prescence was immortalized at the restaurant with their faces drawn on the wall near the bar. Tonight we were lucky enough to be treated to the "Arthur Appleman Experience" at the Palm - wine, bread, salad with blue cheese dressing, creamed spinach and a four pound lobster topped off with a three-layer chocolate cake! As the waiters tied bibs around our necks and cracked our lobsters for easy eating, I prepared to experience my first lobster at the authentic New York restaurant with an authentic New York patron. Thanks Arthur!

Arthur posing like his picture on the wall at NYC's original "Palm One".

Perfect capture of Arthur's exuberance.

Cameron and I with our 4-pound lobsters!

Fun with the claws!

My first lobster!

Happy Birthday Daddy!

It's not fun to be away from home and miss birthdays and other special times when everyone is together, but it is fun to send a little package from New York in my place!

A week before Daddy's birthday, he sent me an email that he was watching the Food Network and, according to them, the best chocolate chip cookies in New York City are from Levain's Bakery. "Cool," I thought, "I'll have to get over there soon to try one." Then I sat and drummed my fingers on my desk trying to think of something to get Daddy for his birthday. Buying for Daddy is harder in New York since there is a lack of my normal something-related-to-Alabama-football gift. Hmmm...what to get, what to get?

Suddenly, the two things on my brain - chocolate and Daddy - clicked. Of course! Cookies from the bakery!

The "golden" cookies weren't delievered on time, so after a last-minute goose chase to track the UPS package, Mama saved the day by meeting the truck driver at a parking lot in Homewood and beating Daddy to the restaurant to pull off the surprise! When it was time for dessert, the waitress came to the table with the box and asked, "Are you Gary Mummert? This package is for you from New York City."

Chris, Elizabeth, Julie and Gabe - the gang's all there!

Opening his special delivery from New York City...that's me on the phone!

New York City's best chocolate chip cookies from Levain's Bakery!

Daddy doesn't need any help from the cookies...he's already sweet! :) Hahaha!

Since no one else was allowed more than a tiny taste, we'll just have to take Daddy's word that, indeed, they are the best chocolate chip cookies in NYC!

Happy Birthday, Dol!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

February Finally Freezing

After receiving NO snow during the first month of the year, February has made up for it with several snowy days. The weathermen distinguish the amount and severity of each snowfall as "wintry mix" or "snow shower" or "snow storm"...but to this girl from Alabama, snow is SNOW!

It's so exciting to wake up and snow already be falling! This picture was taken out of my apartment window on the morning of the "snow storm" on Friday, Feb. 22 - it had been snowing since 5 AM, and rooftops were already very much covered!

Living in the city means there really are no "snow days"...the first thing I saw on my way to work was this little cutie getting pulled along the sidewalk! Although not as fun as a little red sled to pull me to work, I was glad to have my red galoshes to jump over the slushy snowy muck at the crosswalks!

It finally stopped snowing around 1 PM, so I went around the corner from my office to see Madison Square Park. On a normal day, the Empire State Building is easily seen in the sky above the trees.

No resting on park benches today!

The Shake Shack in the snow...and still, the people come!

The fountain near Shake Shack, and the only bench with untouched snow - so perfectly thick!

A snowman as tall as me! People making snow angels and throwing snow balls...too bad I had to go back to work!

This red building on the corner of 23rd Street and 5th Avenue caught my eye in the snow...I don't think I've ever even noticed it! The Flatiron Building is to the left of the picture.

On Tuesday, February 12 - just a "snow shower" day...the Empire State Building from the 6th floor patio of my office.

Later that evening after work...the Shake Shack in lights...with people ordering burgers and shakes in the freezing cold and wind!

The Flatiron Building

A Saturday morning stroll in Central Park on February 23rd.

A beautiful sunny Sunday at The Pond in Central Park...this is my favorite area in any season!

Kids young and old sledding near The Pond. The bigger boy with the red sled is apologizing to the smaller boy for not catching him as he slid over the drop off they are standing on and slammed into the concrete sidewalk!

The frozen Pond.

Bethesda Fountain near the Boathouse.

Such pretty views around Bethesda Fountain!

The beautiful snow makes the cold temperatures worth every layer of clothes, every wind-induced tear down the cheek and every inch of my big poofy stovepipe coat!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Looking Up

As I walked home from dinner and drinks in midtown tonight, a building on Fifth Avenue caught my eye, so I glanced up at it. I glanced again, then stopped walking completely so I could really look at the lights, the ornate architecture around the windows, and the sheer size of the building. I tilted my head all the way back so I could look all the way to the top of the building, then I turned in a little circle to get a view of all the buildings around me.

I realized it's been a long time since I took the time to enjoy the street views of the buildings and to feel the massiveness of the towering structures.

For the next few blocks to the apartment, I walked slowly, keeping my head tilted back for several steps at a time, enjoying the nighttime lights of the buildings and streets. Square, plain brick buildings; curved roofs, slanted roofs, pointy roofs; intricate decorative detailing; tall and skinny, short and stocky; foliage and lights on upper balconies; shiny black windows reflecting the building next door.

Every building had a distinctive look to add to the beautiful New York skyline. When I reached my apartment, I discovered my walk looking up at it all had put a few more dreams in my heart, a few more thoughts in my head, and lifted a few more prayers for my friends and family.

Looking down at the sidewalk cracks, dried gum clumps, and faceless passersby aren't nearly as inspiring...

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sweet Setting Sun

The Empire State Building spire was lit in red, pink and white in honor of Valentine's Day...and the sky was lit in magnificent orange, pink and blue. Happy Valentine's Day, my sweets!

This picture doesn't do the colors justice. It was beautiful.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Front Row Faces

One of my favorite parts of Fashion Week is reading the "Roll Call" for each show in The Daily. The publication is handed out daily in the Tents (hence the name) and several pages in each issue are dedicated to reviewing the shows from the day before. Each review has a few looks from the show pictured alongside "Roll Call" and "The Scoop". I skim The Scoop - a review of the designer's new styles and trends in the collection - but I read Roll Call in detail, sometimes two or three times, to review the list of the noteable celebrities who were in attendance at each show.

I have my priorities in line, people!

And now, for my very own celebrity "Roll Call" from Fashion Week:

Miss Sixty front row: Anne Hathaway and her fiance Raffaello Follieri to the left, Chloe Sevigny, Ashley Olsen, Milla Jovovich, and Paula Patton.

Nigel Barker from America's Next Top Model is second from right at Venexiana.

At Venexiana, not 100% sure, but it looks like Lauren Conrad from The Hills is the girl leaning to the side.

Eva Longoria Parker at Naeem Khan.

Outside the Tents after Naeem Khan...I don't know who they are, but they were being interviewed...

The beautiful and nice Aisha Tyler from Friends, Ghost Whisperer and Talk Soup at Tadashi Shoji.

Reporters broadcast from inside and outside the Tents all day, every day.

When the shows run short of celebrities to spice up the crowd, there are still plenty of wackos to fill in the gaps. My favorites I saw repeatedly during the week:

I don't know her official identity, but I think "Spiderwoman" will suffice. Here she is posing with tourists outside the Tents Friday night after Venexiana....

...and inside at Tadashi Shoji on the last day of Fashion Week. At least she has a copy of The Daily in hand!

Almost stranger to see around The Tents than Spiderwoman, I spotted this unidentified lady at random times throughout the week, always with a new assortment of hair clips.

Let's call her "Granny"...or the ghost of a gal who was fashionable many moons ago.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Running through Rain to the Runways

Fashion Week hit New York City with a spash! The damp and dreary skies last Friday didn’t darken the designers’ runways though…and the puddle-hopping paparazzi still photographed the primped fashionistas who paraded around the park in their parkas and parasols…seriously.

Rebecca outside the tents Friday night.

Venexiana by Kati Stern kicked off show week Friday night as an excited buzz filled The Salon at Bryant Park. The designs were daring and drastic – the evening gowns donned dramatic low V’s in both the front and back to create a sleek look, but Kati's use of fur and feathers is not for the faint of heart…

Pretty like Barbie...

Scary like Chewbacca.

Designer Kati Stern

Next up was Miss Sixty in The Tent at Bryant Park Sunday night. Designer Wichy Hassan put on a show the audience would be “In Love” with, as his invitation predicted. From the 60’s-themed psychedelic vans in glowing neon colors to the flowy shirts, draping necklaces, and fur accessories the models brought down the runway in true free-spirited, flower-child form…the designs were so interesting I only had a little trouble keeping my eyes on the runway and off the A-list celebs decorating the front row. Anne Hathaway, Ashley Olsen, Milla Jovovich and Chloe Sevigny were definitely taking notes from Wichy on how to create their own crowd-pleasing clothing lines.

The funky cool designs of Miss Sixty.

The weekend rain turned to snow, and the snow back to a drizzling rain by the Malandrino show time Monday morning at the Chelsea Art Museum. The show started late – as most of them do – but after an excessively long hour of standing outside in the elements, the Fall 2008 line was worth the wait. The pleating and draping of the garments gave the collection a structural feel, and the designer’s use of satin, fur and colors created a texture only Catherine Malandrino can achieve.

Outside at the Malandrino show - the Women's Wear Daily used as an umbrella is evidence the fashion world does have its unglamorous moments...

...and everyone's high heels may look fabulous, but trust me - they don't feel fabulous!

Back at the tents Thursday on another grey but rain-free day, Naeem Khan's show was perfectly accented by the background music - sounds of a dark and creepy forest filled The Promenade before the show and was replaced with a James Bond-esque beat as the models hit the runway. The silver, black and gold looks of the first half of the collection had a sleek and dramatic effect befitting of a Bond girl. As I pondered why we'd been subjected to the creepy forest, my answer sauntered down the runway in a beautiful form-fitting skirt made entirely of green peacock feathers. The animal prints added a rich warmth to his Fall 2008 line featuring beautifully draped and pleated garments.

On the Bond side of things...

...welcome to the jungle. (The peacock skirt is on the left.)

The tornado lights - a metaphor to swirl the Bond and Jungle collection together?

My new favorite designer - Naeem Khan.

The sun did not peek from behind the clouds to bid Bryant Park farewell on the last day of Fashion Week, but the energetic mood inside the tents - no doubt due to the Project Runway show that morning - had a sunny vibrancy all its own.

Tadashi Shoji created a relaxed, excited atmosphere as he pumped Michael Buble's "It's a new day, it's a new dawn, it's a new life" through the speakers for his noon runway show. And who wouldn't want to have a new life outfitted in designs by Tadashi?? Bright green, yellow and purple pieces were either the focus of the look or provided a pop of bright color to a dark outfit. The accessories completed the looks by adding fine details - belts, scarves, grey tights, hats, and even the simple low bun of the models' hair. Perhaps Tadashi's most interesting detail is the gathered/cinched look - elbow-length leather gloves of all colors featured a gathered side seam for a textured look, and many of the dresses twisted and knotted at the front waist to create a flattering hour glass shape.

The cinched glove; the scarf-belt combination; and bright pops of color.

Two beautifully gathered dresses.

Tadashi taking a bow.

As the tents come down tomorrow, surely the sun will shine again to let New Yorkers bask in the calming expanse of the lawns of Bryant Park. Until the tents return.

Until September...