Quirky things in NYC

31 10 2016

Some things I spotted on our bus tour of New York City today:

Interesting how the US Postal Service's Manhattan Maintenance Facility doesn't maintain their own sign!

Interesting how the US Postal Service’s Manhattan Maintenance Facility doesn’t maintain their own sign!


This is really the name of the business. And in case you didn't see it the first time, it was on several different windows on the 2nd floor.

This is really the name of the business. And in case you didn’t see it the first time, it was on several different windows on the 2nd floor.

Seriously? An eyelash 'hairdresser'?

Seriously? An eyelash ‘hairdresser’?

And some things from our ‘free’ day:

Banner on the deli: We cure our own corned beef; our chicken soup cures everything else

Banner on the deli: We cure our own corned beef; our chicken soup cures everything else

Baby Fiat as a traffic police car

Baby Fiat as a traffic police car

QV2016: Day 12: Touring NYC

31 10 2016

We started our Sunday tour of New York City with a stop at Grand Central Station. Matthew was our tour guide (http://www.citywalksny.com), and he gave us a lot of history of the place, its architecture etc. — stuff we would never know just by looking at it.

We then wended our way in our chartered bus from mid-town to lower Manhattan, with Matthew pointing out places of interest, various neighbourhoods, and some of the history and stories associated with them. Our final destination was the 9/11 memorial area, where we stopped and walked around for quite some time. Again, Matthew gave us insights into some of the personal stories. If you’ve been, you know that this is a place that you can’t talk about too much.

Our next stop was Pier 61 at the Chelsea Piers for our 2-hour champagne brunch/lunch cruise on the Bateaux ‘Celestial’. The weather was just perfect, as you can see from the photos, and the cruise took us as close as we were allowed to get to the Statue of Liberty. However, the food and the seating arrangements left a lot to be desired. Let’s just say that if you’re on a buffet cruise with a bunch of hungry Americans, ask for seating that gets you to the buffet earlier rather than later, and check that the staff replenish the dishes often and with hot food, and have put out CLEAN plates with no food residue from previous use… I have no doubt our tour leader will be having words with the Bateaux people as I KNOW she had booked this more than 12 months ago and had asked for window seating for our group, which we didn’t get.

After lunch we spent the afternoon on the tour bus with our guide Matthew. Our only stop was Strawberry Field in Central Park, the memorial to John Lennon, who was shot at the nearby Dakota building in Dec 1980.

We had a most magnificent day — both for the weather we experienced (about 22C), and for the great tour given by Matthew.

Oh, one final thing — Matthew pointed out the hot dog stands and mentioned that a stand outside The Met would cost the stand owner some $250,000 to $300,000 a year, to be paid to the City!!!

I took well over 100 photos today — just a few are here.




QV2016: Day 11: New York, New York!

30 10 2016

After a 3-hour drive from Lancaster, PA, we crossed into New Jersey, and then into New York City! As expected, the last hour of our trip was the shortest but took the longest — getting through the Lincoln Tunnel and then to our hotel near Times Square. But we arrived safe and sound.

The hotel couldn’t check us in at that time, so we walked to our first stop — Top of the Rock at the Rockefeller Center. What a rigmarole to get in! I reckon we were checked, counted off, or security checked by at least 15 different people. The elevator ride to the 67th floor is not for everyone — first they pack you in like sardines, then the lights go out, and everyone looks up the lit elevator shaft. Everyone except me, that is. I started to get all clammy and put my head down and shut my eyes. By the time we stopped, my palms were dripping with sweat. I was OK at the top as I felt pretty secure with the thick glass, solid flooring, and the fact you couldn’t see directly down. But the elevator ride down sure wasn’t a thrill for me. The views are amazing, even on a hazy day like today.

My feet were pretty sore by the time I walked back to the hotel, so once I was checked in and unpacked, I put them up for a bit before our early dinner at The View revolving restaurant in the Marriott Marquis. We had a wonderful meal, with great service (no doubt it cost a heap, but it was part of our tour experience!), and left to walk to the St James Theater on W 44th St where we had tickets to see ‘Something Rotten’. The whole Broadway/Times Square pedestrian experience is madness, but we all made it in the end — and on time too.

‘Something Rotten’ is very clever and very funny, with some amazing costumes and sets. The Will Shakespeare character (played by Eric Sciotto) reminded me a lot of Keith Urban in looks, hair flicking, and general demeanour 😉 But why oh why did the theatre have to be SOOO hot?! We were cooking in there, and it was very uncomfortable because of the heat — my mini hand fan from Bali came in handy!

Some photos from today:

View over Central Park from the Rockefeller Center

View over Central Park from the Rockefeller Center

Stacking car park

Stacking car park

Art deco even surrounds the trees

Art deco even surrounds the trees

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

Empire State Building (foreground); Statue of Liberty (background)

Empire State Building (foreground); Statue of Liberty (background)


QV2016: Day 10: Amish country — second day

29 10 2016

We had a ‘leisure’ day today, although almost everyone decided to join the group for a trip to Walmart and to an outlet mall (there’s nothing similar in Australia!). Many dollars were added to the local economy 😉 And many in the group acquired the super power of ‘extreme shopper’. Oh, I had another freshly made hot soft pretzel at Auntie Anne’s in the outlet mall — it was a jalapeno and cheese one and was SOOOO good.

Next stop was an out of the way place in New Holland, PA (Cedar Lane Dry Goods, 204 Orlan Rd) that seemed to mostly sell to the local Amish and Mennonite communities, based on the fabrics and clothing in their store. I could have bought a black cap worn by the females for $12.50, but didn’t. The big attraction for many in our group were the quilt tops made by local women — they all cost around $200 each for a queen bed size top, and were an absolute bargain at that price because I know how much fabric, time, effort, and work goes into making them. Many of the ladies will take them home and finish them off, adding the batting and backing, then quilting them, then adding binding. Some may just keep them as they are as an example of an authentic quilt from Lancaster County, PA. I didn’t buy one — I have enough quilts!

Our final stop of the day was a post office where some of the women sent home boxes of things they’ve purchased along the way. This wasn’t cheap. A single flat rate box with up to 20 lb of goods cost around $95 to send to Australia; some sent several. You could buy a suitcase at Walmart for about $30, then pay the excess baggage charge (say, another $30) and still be in front. However, you have to schlep that extra luggage, and for some that wasn’t an option.

I took very few photos today — the first two are of a car parked in the hotel car park, as viewed from the bus (Halloween is in a few days… at least, I hope that’s the reason he had the skeleton in there trying to get out!). The ‘doe in rut’ can was spotted in Walmart.





Quirky names for chili sauces

28 10 2016

All spotted in ‘Aged and Cured’, a cheese and meats shop in Kitchen Kettle Village, Intercourse, PA.

I tasted the ‘Sphincter Shrinker’ one and the Dave’s ghost pepper one — damn, they were HOT! But good. A tiny bit goes a LONG way…





QV2016: Day 9: Amish country

28 10 2016

Today was spent in Lancaster County, PA. The group was divided in two, with Group A learning hand-quilting techniques from Lois, a Mennonite quilter at The Country Store in Intercourse, PA for the first half of the day, while Group B did an Amish farm and house tour. In the afternoon, we swapped activities.

I was in Group B. We started with a tour of a typical Amish house, learning about their history, some of their customs, their dress, their work practices, their dating practices, marriage and funeral practices, etc. It was really interesting. I think the most surprising thing I learned was that Amish women pin their clothes (e.g. aprons) together, and their prayer bonnets to their heads, with straight sewing pins!! Ouch!!! Buttons are considered ‘fancy’ for women, yet men’s trousers use buttons for the fly flap — that seemed a little inconsistent to me. Unmarried females wear white aprons, while married ones wear black; unmarried males are clean shaven, while married ones have beards, but never moustaches (something about the German soldiers from the 1600s who persecuted them for their religious beliefs having moustaches…). After seeing the house and hearing the history, we then travelled in a small bus around the countryside, viewing farms from a distance, and stopping in at a couple of places that sold things to the public — like quilts, and the OMG best-ever soft pretzel straight out of the oven I’ve ever eaten!!!!

After lunch, Group B met in The Country Store’s classroom, where Lois, a Mennonite, taught us hand-quilting techniques for several hours. What a lovely person she is! I always learn something from every class I do, even if the lesson is not to do that technique again, and so it was with hand quilting. Not my thing beforehand, and confirmed by actually doing it for a time. But I’m really glad I did it — first because we learned a bit more about Lois and the Mennonite beliefs, and because it was a good ‘bonding’ session with others in our group.

This evening we had dinner at a HUGE buffet restaurant (Bird in Hand, I think it was called) that was full of large groups, many of whom were much much older than those in our group, who, with only a couple of exceptions, are no spring chickens ourselves.

Some of my photos from today (it rained most of the day, so it wasn’t a good day for taking photos):







QV2016: Day 8: Kingston, NY to Lancaster, PA

27 10 2016

A long day on the road today, broken up by a stop at a tiny town (Pine Bush, NY) to visit their local quilt store and inject some dollars into their community. The store owners opened up early for us, we were done in 45 mins, and probably added several hundred or thousand dollars to their coffers for the day! I spent $30 and many spent much more.

It was a gorgeous day and the country vistas and Fall colours were lovely. Many of us sewed hexies or knitted or just chatted on the drive south. We arrived at the Kitchen Kettle Village in Intercourse, PA about 1:30 and had two hours there. During that time, some of us went on a horse and buggy ride with the amiable Amos, others had lunch, others bought goods and produce from the mostly Amish-operated stores, etc.

One of the stores sold cheeses and cured meats in all sorts of varieties, and had tasting trays for almost everything. They also had tasting trays of chili sauces, two of which were labelled ‘Hot’. Well, that was the understatement of the year!!! The first I tried was a ghost pepper chili sauce — wooooeeee! About an hour later I tried the ‘Sphincter Shrinker’, which set the end of my tongue on fire for quite a while. The best cure for the heat was walking over to the jams and preserves shop and tasting many of the goodies for sale there 😉

After our time at the Kitchen Kettle stores, we had enough daylight to visit a local covered bridge, which caused much excitement, especially when we waited for a buggy to pass and a car drove the other way — with a mini horse or Shetland Pony in the back seat!!!!

Out final destination today was Lancaster, PA, where we’ll spend 3 nights.

A few photos from today:







QV2016: Day 7: Shelburne Museum to Kingston, NY

26 10 2016

We started the day with a 3-hour visit to the Shelburne Museum, just south of Burlington, Vermont. This is not like a traditional museum — instead, it is a 45-acre plot of land on which are housed about 40 or so buildings, such as a schoolhouse, a couple of barns, a tavern, a worker’s cottage, and so on. Other buildings have been brought in from places around Vermont, and house various functions, such as a printing house, textile gallery, smokehouse, etc. The centrepiece of the buildings is the imposing structure housing reproduction rooms of the NY home of the benefactor and founder who made this museum possible: Electra Havemeyer Webb.

It’s what’s inside the buildings that makes this museum, and a 3-hour visit could never do it justice. Inside the central building, the walls are lined with priceless paintings by Manet, Monet, Degas, Rembrandt, Andrew Wyeth, and many others. There are bronzes by Remington, and in the most modern gallery there were two current exhibitions — one of Grandma Moses’ paintings and the other of old circus posters.

In other buildings we saw amazing quilts from the 1840s onwards, carriages and sleighs, school furniture and implements, apothecary furniture, bottles and implements, a general store with all sorts of old stuff, kitchens and bedrooms of simple houses, woodworking and farm materials, printing presses, etc. etc.

Added to that we were there in Fall, when the colours were at their finest. It was a cold day, but SOOO worth it to stop there and visit a while. However, I’d recommend a day there at least — I believe you can buy 2-day tickets.

After the Shelburne, we hit the road again for the 4-hour drive to Kingston, down a lot of small state roads through Vermont (22A and 4 in particular), before getting on I-87 and heading south.

Some of my many photos from today:







Quilt made in the 1800s -- half-inch squares!

Quilt made in the 1800s — half-inch squares!



QV2016: Day 6: New Hampshire to Vermont

25 10 2016

On the road again… This time with a replacement bus (the other one had a door that came open every time we hit a bump). This bus is older, has no power outlets for charging devices (an essential requirement), and has a loud noise coming from the back wheel area. We are likely to get yet ANOTHER bus tomorrow. The organiser of our group is suitably unimpressed…

Today we left Meredith, NH and travelled just a few minutes to Moulton Farm where we saw lots of varieties of pumpkin, squash, gourds, corn, etc. And I saw a chipmunk in one of the hothouses. Their store sells amazingly fresh local produce (from their farm and others close by). I’m not a big fan of apples, but the Honeycrisp one I had was fantastic — fresh, crunchy, juicy, and delicious.

Next stop was Center Harbor, NH, home of Keepsake Quilting, one of the biggest mail order (and now online) quilting stores in the US. This is its ‘bricks and mortar’ store, and is PACKED with fabrics, pre-cut quilting kits, and quilt patterns. I only needed a couple of things, so I didn’t spend a lot here — Houston awaits!

Then it was back on the road to Burlington, VT. We crossed through the Franconia Notch and National Park, where there was snow at the higher elevations, and a little on the roadside in spots. The skies, which had started out blue and sunny this morning, turned a dirty grey, threatening either rain or snow. But fortunately, we got neither before stopping at our hotel for the night. It’s meant to get to 2C overnight with a maximum of 6C tomorrow.

After dinner with the group at the hotel’s restaurant, some of us adjourned to the hotel’s breakfast room to either learn about or work on our ‘hexie’ project (quilting hexagons [English paper piecing] for the uninitiated). I’m not a fan of hand sewing anything, so I think I be all fingers and thumbs doing this, but I’ll give it a try. Tonight I cut out my 94 hexagons, and (with the help of Janice) temporarily glued the hexie papers to them. We have 4 hours on the bus tomorrow, so if the weather is inclement, I’ll start tacking them down. This will be a long project….

Some photos from today:p1060753



QV2016: Day 5: Lowell, MA and Canterbury Shaker Village, NH

24 10 2016

We got on the road this morning, leaving behind the luxurious ‘The Langham’ in Boston, which had been our home for the previous four nights.

First stop was Lowell, MA, just up the road a bit from Boston. We were there for a special tour of the New England Quilt Museum by the curator. The special exhibition featured at the moment is a selection of red and green applique quilts from the 1840s to 1870s or thereabouts. These are held in a private collection of some 2000 quilts, and were amazing in their colours and their workmanship. Most, if not all of them, were hand quilted and likely stitched in poor light conditions (candle light). I’ve only shown a few here.

After some 90 minutes or so at the NEQM, we moved on to New Hampshire and the Canterbury Shaker Village. The weather was sunny, but the wind was bitingly cold. Perfect for taking photos, but not so good if you were out in it without adequate protection! The Shaker Village tour (75 mins) was really interesting. I knew a little about the Shakers, but learnt so much more (celibacy and the relinquishing of all personal property were their two big things). We visited the Meeting House, the Laundry, and the chapel in the main Dwelling House, and the lovely Kia told their stories and answered our questions. The Canterbury Shaker Village was handed over to a non-profit organisation back in the late 1960s as their population dwindled and died out (the last one in this village died in 1996 aged 93; today, only three Shakers survive). Interestingly, unlike the Amish and similar groups, the Shakers embraced technology that made their lives easier and invented many labour-saving devices. The Laundry was a great example of that.

Our final destination today was Meredith, NH, by the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee.