Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Week 3

I can't believe how fast time is flying! This week of work was great.  I'm still building up my confidence with the patients, but it is getting better everyday.  I love talking to the people and listening to their stories.  Gary the fireman is doing very well and feeling a lot better.  My favorite patients this week range from a little old lady who is about 4' 10" and has one of the best smiles I have ever seen to a man who got injured because he is a legit bouncer and was breaking up a club fight.  We get quite the range here on Long Island and every person is interesting and has a story to tell.  One lady this week is 92 and was telling us about how she used to ride the bus to Coney Island and get a hot dog for 5¢.  She is one of those people that you could listen to for hours.

This Saturday I rode the train again into the city and spent the day there.  I started out by going to the Manhattan temple.  I rode the subway from the train up to Lincoln Square and as you are walking up the steps from the subway you look up and the temple is perfectly framed almost above you.  I'm going to go back and try to take a picture because it was an amazing view.  I did get this pic from across the street:

It is a small temple, but really beautiful.  

I spent today on the mid east side of the Manhattan and my first stop was SPRINKLES, the original cupcake shop.

If you have ever watched Cupcake Wars on the food network, you know what I'm talking about.  Sprinkles started in LA and I have been waiting for this shop to open for a while now!  I would have to say it was worth the wait.  First of all, the staff was SO NICE!!!  I got an almond dark chocolate cupcake and milk for $5.50, which I thought was a good price for the city.  I sat in the little shop on a window bench seat and ate my cupcake with the cute little wooden fork they provided.  It was the perfect moistness and density of cake and the perfect amount of frosting.  Next time you are in California, Dallas, Chicago, Houston, DC, or even Scottsdale (sort of random), I suggest you stop by.

Another one of my activities today was going to the Stephen A Schwarzman Building, which is the main building for the NY Public Library system.  It is beautiful and I enjoyed the visit, but the number of books is surprisingly small.  This building is used more for research and conferences and such.  There is a beautiful reading room with amazing ceilings.

The outside of the library is the best part.  There is a nice park and cute little chairs and tables where you can enjoy a great view of 5th Ave.

If it is books you are interested in, I suggest Argosy Books at 116 E 59th Street.  It is 6 floors of old and rare books, autographs, and vintage maps and prints.  AND they let you touch everything.  I found some great vintage botanical prints fro $3 and $10 and some cool old book covers for $3.  Not too shabby.

The rest of the day I spent shopping in the fashion district.  My crafty heart cannot resist the walls of ribbon and buttons and beads and fabrics in every store.  I also stopped by Macy's on 34th.  It is HUGE!!!  I wanted to look for a cheetah print scarf and instead of 2 or 3, I found about 30!  Maybe that's why it's the biggest store in the world?

Friday, September 23, 2011

NY Cake

Two of the little girls I am privileged to live with have had birthdays in the last few weeks.  Their joint friend party was tonight and it was LUAU themed so naturally, I jumped on the chance to make some sweet treats.  It was so much fun to bake with the girls and I think it turned out pretty nicely.  

Mixing it up.

Dying our cookie frosting.

Super cute straw decor!  Wish I had this for my party.

The Sugar Scape.

Please notice my super cute new palm tree cookie cutter!  The girls thought of using the coco puffs for coconuts.  SO CUTE.

Cake goodness.

The waves were (roughly) painted on using dyed piping gel.

This makes me really sad that summer is over!

I got a new quilting tool for the towel.  Not too shabby.

Silly ladies!

One girls likes vanilla and one likes chocolate so the bottom was all vanilla, the top was all chocolate, and the middle was a nice mix of everything.

And for all of you aspiring cake artists: every cake has a back.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Week 2 Optimisums

I am a little late in writing, but I just ended my second week of living on Long Island and working in a real physical therapy clinic.  It has been a great week and I think that is partly due to my focus on OPTIMISM this week.  As I tried harder to be positive, I started to notice the "little things" that make my life sweet.  Here they are:
At work there is a long desk where all the therapists and aids set up their laptops to write notes about each patient.  There is a nice picture window in front of the desk and THIS IS THE VIEW!!!!  Most of you know that I love boats (especially sail boats) so for me, this is heaven.  On LI there are TONS of these canals where there should be side streets.  I get to see lots of cool things like a pair of swans, people kayaking, and sail boats taxing in and out.  I can't help but smile.  

My favorite part of my view is this boat... some say it is named after a gun and the owner is a retired policeman.  I'd prefer to think that he just LOVES 80's music.

I don't think this picture needs a lot of explanation.  These are the girlies I live with.  Angie is 10, Abby is 7, and Ella is almost 2.  They are adorable and love to paint nails, watch cool movies, and cook with me.  No complaints there.

Utah may be great, but it is not great enough to have a Panera!  After 6 years of living without, I have one about 2 miles from work.  It is the perfect place to go for a little pick me up before I get to play with the girls at home.  Nothing picks me up like orange scones, soda, and some Harry Potter reading!

I took this picture when my mom and I visited LI in April, but it still makes me smile.  We have quite a few elderly men in our clinic and there are a few who always say "FUHGEDDABOUDIT."
For those of you who have never been to Brooklyn, that is local vernacular for "forget about it."  This go-to phrase could mean terrible, impossible, hard, or painful BUT my favorite definition is "AWESOME."  Such as, "Her cake... Fugheddaboudit!"  I suggest watching Cake Boss to get the hang of it. 

The thing that made me happiest this week was going home to visit the fam.  I have never lived close enough to just drive home on a weekend and it was AWESOME!!!  No checking bags, no layovers, and it only took about 4 hours.  On Saturday we had a little girly shopping day to get Chelsey ready for homecoming.  It was a fun day, but the best part was that we went to TWO VERA BRADLEY STORES!!!!  Family, Vera Bradley, and shopping... it don't get no better than that.
And this is the new stadium blanket that Vera just started making.  SO CUTE!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget

As most of y'all know, I am on Long Island for a physical therapy internship.  I will be here for 8 weeks and will not be doing any cakes while I'm here.  As I was thinking about what to put on the blog I realized that I should focus on the OPTIMIST part instead of just the CAKE part.  Yes.. this is going to include more about feelings and less about frosting technique, but I hope you enjoy it.  Here is an overview of my first week on LI.

Like most people in the country, I have been thinking a lot about the 10th anniversary of 9/11.  This day shaped my high school years and changed the way I thought about my country.  I knew that it was a terrible thing to go through for the victims and their families, but I didn't give it that much thought.  I am now working in a PT clinic and it is a wonderful experience.  I get to work alongside the physical therapists and interact with a wide variety of New Yorkers as they heal from various injuries and surgeries.  We had one patient in the clinic this week, lets call him Gary, who touched my heart.  He is a NYC firefighter and was one of the first responders to the attack on the Twin Towers.

I remember the news broadcasts and the tributes dedicated to the brave firefighters of NYC.  They were the ones who ran up the dozens of flights of stairs to pull people out before the towers collapsed.  They were the ones who sorted through rubble to find survivors.  They were the ones who gave their lives to save the lives of others.  I have felt gratitude for them but I have never looked one of these men in the eye.  I assure you, it is a humbling experience.  Gary told us how he is on medication for post traumatic stress disorder resulting from the events of his 9/11 experience.  I wondered about the stories of all the other men and women who were effected and changed by 9/11.  Where are they now, who is helping them and taking care of them in 9/11's wake, and do they feel the gratitude and respect that I have for them?  

For Gary, his job and life of service did not end on 9/12.  He returned to work and two years ago he was hit in the neck by falling wood while he was pulling a lady out of a house fire.  He saved her life, but is in constant pain from his injury.  He has been "let go" from the fire department because of his health problems and has since been on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications.  He expressed that being a firefighter was his true love and passion and it has been very hard for him to cope with this change in his life.

Gary is a man's man.  He is Italian, salt and pepper haired, broad shouldered, and Catholic through and through.  He is not the type of man that you could imagine sitting on a couch and living off of disability.  He is the type of man who would run into the fire to save others, even if he was not a trained firefighter.  I could hardly get through his exam without crying.  I just felt so sorry for the events that have led to this injury.  I felt pain at seeing Gary's depression and I wish there was a way to let him know that he still has worth and purpose, even if he is not saving someone's physical life.  I hope that Gary knows that he is still someone to look up to and admire for all he has done for others.

Another one of our patients this week, lets call him Lee, really stood out to me.  He used to be a NBA referee and he is having lots of neck pain.  He is a funny and lighthearted man.  When I told him that I am planning a trip to Coney Island, he talked forever about going there on dates as a boy and taking his granddaughters there now.  As he was leaving the clinic, the PT I'm working with said that she would be thinking about him this weekend.  She later told me that Lee's son died in the Twin Towers.  He worked there, on one of the higher floors and didn't escape before they fell.  Lee said that him and his wife are holding a memorial for their son and he thanked us for our support.  He was somber, but still had a twinkle in his eye.  I was impressed by his joy for life, despite having lost a loved one in such a terrible and unfair way.

On Saturday I decided to go into THE CITY, as cool people call it, and see what I could see.  The NY Philharmonic was giving a free concert which you could watch outside at the Lincoln Center, or get tickets too if you stood in line.  I went the line route and had a great experience.  I got in line at 1:45 pm for the distribution at 4 pm.

While we were waiting, the people around me told their stories about 9/11 and we were asked to write about how music helped us through the experience.  I felt like I was intruding.  I was effected by 9/11, but not like those who were living in NYC.  Their experiences were hands on and real, while mine were distant and vicarious.  The concert was at 7:30 and before anything else, we were led in an amazing rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.  Between the full orchestra, the choir, and us, the sound was overwhelming.  I don't think there was a dry eye in the place.  The conductor, Alan Gilbert, gave an incredible speech and introduced the piece they were playing, Mahler's Symphony No. 2 (also called Resurrection).  The various movements of the piece show how life is full of destruction, but if we trust in God, we will be made whole again.  It was amazing how strong the spirit of love and gratitude was in that room.  The conductor mentioned how art may seem unnecessary in times of destruction, but it is art which helps us to feel and overcome grief.  This has been true in my own life.  (I don't know what I would do without Journey's "I'll Be Alright Without You" in times of heart ache.)  I only hope that the people effected by 9/11 also feel the support and cathartic healing that the music brought.

So ten years later, I am feeling the effects of 9/11 more strongly than I ever have in my life.  I feel like I understand more about the pain and sacrifice involved.  I also, however, feel more than ever, the peace and joy that awaits us in the future.  I am grateful for this wonderful country and it stands for.  I am grateful for th men and women like Gary who give their all to help others.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Week 1 in Pictures

Train station in Babylon 
(yes I live in Babylon, no it's not evil)

Conan - Turn on Conan and 11.  He'll return the favor.

Central park.  So serene, yet so close to the big hustle and bustle   

Live outdoor sax music wafting across the pond in the morning.  Not too shabby.

The MET.

AMERICA baby, and a really awesome rooftop garden.

Extreme harpsichord. 

 Indoor courtyard of the museum.   


Van Gogh



Rope you say, NOPE, white seed beads.  

The Biltmore family.  Shoot.  

 I love how architecture is taken and incorporated into the building to display it.

I'm calling this the peacock pond.  

Need this chair.

The boys are back in town.

Egyptian temple.  Like the whole thing, just chilling in NYC in a museum.  

Egyptians really knew how to clean themselves up and look awesome!  

Temple time.