Photos from one of my favorite St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York where, in the morning, the day seemed more about the sounds of bagpipes that would echo in your chest and small children in tartan plaid than green beer—which was preferable.
Funny thing. I wished Hither & Thither a happy sixth birthday last year, but I got ahead of myself somehow—a few years back, in fact! Someone finally corrected me. This year marks six years. The first post was a picture-less entry written by Aron, on January 19, 2009.
What I didn’t get wrong is that every year on here is worth celebrating. And it never ceases to surprise me—even as its demands ebb and flow—how much of a role Hither & Thither plays in my life now. I’m so grateful for all of the readers whom it engages—those who have come along since the start (when Aron and I were writing it together in New York) and those who just recently started reading. For me, it’s so rewarding to have such a supportive space in which to grow as a writer and a photographer, and to build a career of my own vision. But of course it’s often the conversations, the friendships made, the back & forth, that’s best of all.
Thank you, as ever, for reading. With a trademark lack of brevity, I’ve compiled a look back at this year’s highlights. I so enjoyed looking back through some of my favorite posts again; I hope you will enjoy this, too:
I was in New York for roughly 36 hours this week. I was in town for a special event (that I look forward to sharing more about after the weekend—though you may have glimpsed on Instagram), but it was just long enough to tack on a visit to the newest section of the High Line—which opened just a few days prior. I won’t lie: I hesitated. I could only visit in middle of the day which usually translates to thicker crowds and bad photo conditions. But the larger timing was hard to beat.
When I was a book editor in New York, we had a licensing partnership with the American Museum of Natural History and I had the luck of being assigned to work on some projects that required me to go visit the offices and sneak peeks behind the scenes. In fact, when I left (when Hudson was born) I was in the middle of creating a new children’s guide to the museum, and had just finished editing a book on butterflies and moths.
I wrote about my experiences a bit, here, but I’m going to be a tad obnoxious and quote myself about visiting the photo files in the museum’s research library:
“Our librarian/guide began flipping through plastic sleeved contact prints in the vertebrate paleontology section, pulling up images such as those of horse-drawn covered wagons carrying scientists on a fossil-hunting trip into Utah in the 1870s! In fact, when the tour was over, we all came back to these stacks to flip through on our own. I particularly enjoyed the drawers of historical images documenting the creation of the museum—like the ones above that show curators creating dioramas, or the many great shots of Central Park, before the great lawn existed and when sheep still grazed its grasses.”
Well, yesterday, the American Museum of Natural History opened their digital archive to the public—nearly 7,000 images from the museum’s 145-year history, many never never seen before. And once again I’m finding myself enamored with old field photos of research trips to far-away-lands (true Indiana-Jones-fodder), with notes on the creation of iconic dioramas, and with images of a far-gone Manhattan. What a treasure!
We had the best experience staying in an apartment on our last visit to New York City: We rented a place through the new vacation site, Kid & Coe—which lists beautiful, family-friendly properties around the world—and it made all the difference in our feeling like we still have plenty of family trips to the city in our (near) future.
It’s been a fantastic year. I can’t believe this past Sunday marked six years of blogging on Hither & Thither. It continues to inspire me—owing so much to the feedback and comraderie I get from readers, but also thanks to the joy of having an outlet to practice skills like writing and photography and to the joy of documenting and sharing personal milestones. I would have never expected this to become the rewarding work that it has, when Aron and I first started building the space together on that cold January day. (He wrote the first post! With no photos!)
I really enjoyed looking back over highlights last year, at five years, and hoped you might again, too. (Warning: it’s a long one!) …
As I mentioned (and you may have seen on Instagram), we’ve just spent a week in New York. We had a wonderful time visiting favorite old haunts and taking in all of the holiday decorations; it was so nice to spend a week in a city we know so well. It definitely made it easier for us to go at a toddler’s pace without any regrets about skipping over some things. Still, I can’t lie: it has been a rough transition home for Hudson! I’m not sure if it was the time change or the consecutive weeks of vacation, but coming off of this trip has seemed more jarring than most. So it’s nice to look back at these pictures this morning, and remember why this is all worth it!
Because the trip felt like a bit of a homecoming, and because I’ve posted about many of these places before, I’m going to be referencing a lot of previous links where you can find more details if you’re planning a trip of your own.
I had some initial hesitations about making the trip to Santaland: the New York Christmas tradition is notorious for long lines, crowded elevators, and over-eager elves. And then there was the high probability that our toddler, who most likely wouldn’t remember any of this by the following year, would cry at the sight of that big, bearded fellow in a red suit.
And yet, in spite of these very reasonable reasons to stay away, Aron and I felt compelled. How often will we be in New York City with a young child at Christmastime? We had to see it! Natalie Wood and little Ralphie… David Sedaris and a singing Zoey Deschanel… they all compelled us.
Here’s the thing: Activity-wise, it was possibly the highlight of the trip!
Lamingtons are little square of dessert heaven, sponge cake coated in chocolate icing and covered with dried coconut, that originated in Australia—and while they’re not part of my Sunday mornings anymore, there was a time when they frequently were.
Recently, my mind has been turning back to the ritual of brunch (something I miss from New York), and that reminded me of the delicious lamingtons that used to tempt me when we walked into Public, a beautiful restaurant in the NoLIta neighborhood of Manhattan.
There are tons of little touches that made Public stand out as a favorite brunch spot (or, for that matter, for a dark and romantic date spot). Avroko’s design for the space is stunning. But what always got me was the little table of baked goods that welcomes you to the dining room.
Isn’t it sort of the fantasy for a Sunday morning at home? You step into your light-filled kitchen and are greeted by jars of jams and marmalade, fresh-baked scones and strawberry-and-cream Lamingtons, and crisp copies of the Sunday Times…
I’m thinking that I may have to try my hand at making some here. I’ve looked over a few recipes, and I think David Lebovitz’s looks like the one to try (link below). Aussies… weigh in!
I trust him (he did, after all, spend thirteen years in the kitchens at Chez Panisse); he chooses to fill his as well as ice his with chocolate—which I believe is the preferred route for many Queenlanders. However, I did love the contrast of the jam and cream at Public and think I’ll try that myself.
Recipe: Lamingtons (via David Lebovitz)
Do you have any favorite weekend morning rituals?
I can’t get over this: the David Hotson Architecture group designed an 80-foot slide inside a New York City penthouse, called Skyhouse, to take residents from the attic (where a hole is cut into a vertical glass partition) to the ground floor, four levels down.
The whole place is incredible—the views alone are enough to make your jaw drop, nevermind that there’s also a 50-foot climbing wall on a central beam that extends up from the living room and a stainless steel slide! The building itself dates to 1896, a beaux-art skyscraper with a dramatically pitched roof, but you’d never know it from the interior.
Can you imagine?! The designer notes that guests have the option of using yellow cashmere blankets to speed-up the ride down. I guess if it’s too much, you always have to the the option to get off on the third floor. Eek!
Today marked another occurrence of Manhattanhenge, which was one of my favorite non-official holidays when we were living in New York: with the right weather, the sun aligns just perfectly with with the east-west grid of the island such that the setting sun alights the roads and the sides of the window-laden buildings, blinding drivers, and prompting piles of onlookers to rush into busy intersections and bask in its glow.
Hopefully it’s not too overcast! If you’re in town, the best views can be found on 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd, and 57th streets. It happens twice a year.
Check out this link for some favorite photos from last year, when we were in the fray.
[Top image created by Thomas Saliot, bottom images Hither & Thither]
Speaking of our New York apartment…
Pop the champagne: we have finally closed the sale on it. Despite finding a buyer within the first two weeks of listing it last year, and then finding another the week after Hurricane Sandy hit, we endured months of obstacles to get to the point of finally saying “sold!” just over a couple of weeks ago.
Now that I’m sure I won’t jinx anything, I can look back and say aloud what a pain in the arse it is to hold an open house—especially when the entire house you’re selling is visible the moment you walk in the door. It was only two weeks, but during those two weeks the apartment was listed, we had someone coming to see it every day.
Let’s just say that I finally understand why anyone would iron their sheets.
I remember reading in shelter magazines, like Domino, that ironing one’s sheets was something one does—and being a bit shocked. And then, Martha Stewart dedicated a portion of an eponymous episode to showing off an amazing rotary iron at which she liked to sit and press sheets during restless nights.
My first thought was ‘that sounds like hell.’ Sleeplessness and ironing?! But for years I’ve wondered about the secret to a well-made bed—the kind that you’d find in a fancy hotel (and the kind that someone wants to see in a home they’re considering buying)—and I’m afraid pressed sheets, as unrealistic as they may be, might be the answer.
P.S. We cheated: I took our sheets to a launderer to have them pressed before the photographer came, and then slept without pillowcases, and went over the top edges of the sheets with an iron every morning while Hudson was strapped in his high chair. Did I mention it was a pain in the butt?
It seems more often that I find myself looking for drinks that can be made both with alcohol and without. My favorite for warmer, longer days (which I realize might still seem far off for some) is a variation on the Pimm’s cup that I first had over brunch at Jo’s in New York. Theirs is a mix of muddled cucumber, strawberry, ginger ale, and Pimm’s No.1, but Seven-Up stands in nicely for the Pimm’s.
And I’ve posted about Jo’s before, but I can’t help but share some favorite photos I came across when searching out this cocktail. It’s worth checking out for brunch if you’re in Manhattan. I always loved the way the light looked in there on grey days. Good pancakes helped, too.
Update: Sad new. Jo’s closed its doors this summer.
When we were living in Manhattan, we made a fall or winter weekend in the Catskills a routine. After our first visit (in snowy March), I spent a significant amount of time checking the tourism websites for all five counties in the region to locate an attractive, affordable hotel with both a fireplace and a jacuzzi. I think there were 2 or 3 possibilities at best. Since then, I shared multiple trips we took to our favorite, The Katerskill. It was the perfect way to enjoy the Catskills while the nights are still chilly.
But we always said how we’d have liked to rent a cabin or something and go in the late summer. The prices and scene are far more low-key than in other summer escapes (like the Hamptons) and we imagined tubing down the Esopus river, eating locally-made maple ice cream, and sitting outside under stars.
Sadly, we never got ourselves up there for warm weather, but there’s a new hotel that looks like it would have been perfect for that quick escape.
The Graham & Co.—which seems vaguely modeled after hipster-pleasing motel rennovation concepts like that of The Ace in Palm Springs (Don’t you love the RayBan Wayfarers in all the set-up shots?)—is a 20-room hotel in Phoenecia. That image of the movie outside on the lawn? Perfection! Especially since there still isn’t much to do at night up that way.
Phoenecia is a small town but it has a few cute eateries and shops, and is the perfect base for tubing. I haven’t tried it, but apparently you can ride down-river and then get out at a designated spot for a ride back to Phoenicia on the Catskill Mountain Railroad. How cool is that!?
There’s a theme to many of my food posts. Have you noticed? Things I made that I miss from New York.
You were thinking: things that are bad for you? Fair enough. (Actually, before we left, I truly made a list of things from NY I’d like to learn to replicate. This pizza was step one.)
These were easier. Anyone can make Momofuku Milk Bar cookies now, because they sell a mix in a box!
Knowing we would at some point start waxing nostalgic about that crazy butterscotch-chocolate-coffee-powdered milk-pretzel-potato chip-combination of a cookie, we picked up a box of cookie mix before leaving town. I bought ours from the Milk Bar around the corner from our apartment (danger, danger) and they sold me small bags of Cape Cod Potato Chips and Snyder’s Pretzels alongside it; the box mix includes chocolate and butterscotch chips, oats, graham crackers and coffee, but you need to add your own favorite potato chips and pretzels.
Crispy on the edges, chewy in the center–and straight out of the East Village.
Chinese New Year’s Day falls on Sunday, and marks the start of the year of the snake. I don’t think we’ll be in a position to see any of the festivities this year, but the parade in New York was always a highlight.
In other news, I just learned that Hither & Thither was nominated for Best Family & Kids Blog on Apartment Therapy, an award called The Homies! I’m so flattered, and whomever nominated us: thank you so much! It means a lot, and we really do have the nicest readers.
If you too are a fan of the site, I’d be so honored to have you send your vote our way! Here’s the link to vote for Hither & Thither! (And here are some of our most popular family posts–as well as a recent favorite, “Flying with a baby or toddler.” Thanks again!)
Have a great weekend–I hope those of you on the East coast stay safe!
I can’t believe it, but this weekend marks the fifth anniversary of Hither & Thither. There are nearly 800 posts on here! Aron wrote the first one on a whim after a freezing walk to work on a bitter January morning, five years ago Saturday.
Since then, it has become so much more than we could have imagined. I continue to be really grateful for all of the kind, interesting people it has introduced me to and for all of the experiences it has led us to. Thank you so much for reading along and sharing so generously.
Five years!? I’m afraid this is going to lead to a fairly indulgent year-end recap…