From Someone Else’s House in New York!

Good morning, girls!  You know how it is when you are staying in someone else’s house and it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you’re dying for a cup of tea?  Maybe you turn on your computer and put on some good wake-up music first . . .

We are staying with friends in their beautiful five-story brownstone on the upper east side of New York City.  I’m not familiar with the inside of many Manhattan brownstones, but from the outside you can see they are all rather vertically designed. In our friend’s house, the kitchen and dining room are on the ground floor; up one steep flight of stairs is a long living room with tall windows at both ends.  The guest room, where we’re staying, is up the next narrow, curving, highly polished set of stairs (slippery to the person carrying a cup of tea!) — our room (I’m never leaving) is a little suite that takes up the whole third floor. Separated from the sleeping area by a large closet,  is a small, cozy sitting room (where I am now). It’s all dark wood, with a mooshey brown velvetish sofa (perfect for a person to read on, has a soft blanket on the back of it), wood floors, a wall of wonderful floor-to-ceiling book shelves filled with books, a beautiful old Oriental rug in faded colors of soft green, camel, and burgundy, a giant TV, and a comfortable armchair.  It is like a cocoon in here.  You wear this room like your favorite sweater; put it on and never want to take it off, perfect to wear over your jammies.

 I took a shower yesterday, in the bathroom off this little snuggy room; came out wrapped in thick white terry towels, my wet hair wrapped up in a towel turban; Joe came up from the kitchen bringing me a plate with thick, crunchy, seedy New York bread with raisins in it, toasted and buttered, along with slices of warm roasted chicken and a cold tangerine.  I sat on the brown velvet sofa, clean from the shower, put the plate on my toweled lap and ate; peeled my tangerine which sent spritzes of juice off into the air. So that’s how the day began.  Deep happy citrus breath.  So quiet here, you would never know you are in the middle of the city that never sleeps.

This was last night.  Yes, we are the kind of tourists who like to stop in the middle of Park Avenue to take pictures with mouth agape, a bit of drool at corners, because it’s just so BEAUTIFUL.  Because of Ellis Island, New York is called “America’s Hometown” — so many of us got our start right here there is historical DNA everywhere you look. We are crossing Park Avenue on our way home; it is positively balmy weather, and we’ve just had an amazing dinner at an amazing restaurant called Tao.

Here’s a photo of Tao from our table . . . it’s in what used to be the stable for the Vanderbilt family in the 1800’s (every building in NY is filled with history) — the photo is a bit out of focus, didn’t want to have anyone looking at me so I didn’t use a flash!  See the huge Buddha at the back?  We are on the second floor, overlooking the first floor dining room.

The food was SO good; we had salty edamame beans to snack on with cocktails; I had a delicious Pad Thai, with rice noodles, chili peppers, lime, garlic, bean sprouts and grilled shrimp; we had coconut ice cream and pineapple sorbet for dessert, and chocolate fortune cookies.  But my favorite (besides people watching and the gorgeous clothes) was the bathroom. First I had to find it . . . down a long stairway, in the middle of a narrow hall; there were two doors to choose from, one on your right, one on your left, across from one another, exactly alike except one door said YIN and the other said YANG. Which door would you go in?  Think about it for a moment.  I was alone, had no one to mull this over with . . . personally, at the time, I felt more like a Yin than a Yang, but I wasn’t about to just go with it. We don’t get out much on the Vineyard, our doors always have SOMETHING to tell you which door is yours.  So I waited in the empty brown hallway, poised to go in, facing the YIN door, waiting for the next woman to come out.  The door opened, I took a small step forward, then quickly stepped back, coming eye to eye with a man who was trying to squeeze past me into the hallway.  “Uh, huh,” I said, “Just what I thought.”  The man laughed and said, “I did the same thing!”  So funny. Nice thing for him to say.  I felt like less of an idiot as I turned and ran into the YANG door!  You can take the girl out of the country . . . I could set my clock by what I think . . . If I think, “go right,” that automatically means I should “go left.”  I’m rather unfailing that way.  I should depend on it more.

I was a whole lot less out of my element here at Tea and Sympathy in Greenwich Village.  So many of you mentioned that we should go here, we had to take your advice . . . whipping through the city streets down to the Village in our cab . . . you were right and it was delicious!  We loved it!  We also loved English bacon when we were in England and haven’t been able to get it since . . . so the bacon sandwich was irresistible to me; Joe had sausage roll, mash, and beans, and the waitress asked him if he was English.  He beamed.  Joe went to school in England for a year when he was twelve, so he is kind of English is what he thinks.  We shared this tender little treacle cake in a puddle of vanilla custard.  The people who worked here were charming and British and sweet, and it felt like home. It’s a tiny little spot, perfect place to take your book or your British Country Living (heavenly magazine which you can get at Barnes and Noble, by the way!) and sit at a table in the window to while away a rainy afternoon.  The gift shop next door was filled with English food and lots of English China, tea pots and cups.  Such a good thing to do in the middle of a busy day!  We highly recommend it!

From there we grabbed a cab down to the Javits Center where we’ve been attending the New York Gift Show the last couple of days. . . looking for new products for my art, things we would love for ourselves, and hope you will like to have too!  Rows and rows of gorgeous things . . .

Thinking, wouldn’t my art look pretty on sheets like this?  We could have them in our web store!

Or on a nice big cup like this?  We found all sorts of fun things . . . from printed aprons and dish towels, to bird feeders they would make to match the arbor in my back yard, to heavy decorated ribbon boxes and packaged herb seeds.

On our way home, we stopped at the New York Public Library because of the rumor that we might be able to see the original toys, the Pooh Bear (Winnie), Tigger, Kanga, Piglet, Eeyore, that A. A. Milne gave his little two year old boy, Christopher Robin.  I wanted to take pictures of them for you.  But they wouldn’t let me.  So I found this one in Google images.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.  My mother always says that, and sometimes, it’s true!  They were in a large rectangular glass box, all together, close to each other just like this.  The sweet old toys are a bit worn, but they look loved; definitely loved by me . . .  I have to say, Piglet was my favorite.  You will know which one he is by process of elimination.

This beautiful library is free, open to the public; Virginia Woolf’s handwritten diary was there too, right near Pooh and friends.  See the girls on the steps?  Those are French girls visiting New York . . . I know because they asked Joe to take their picture.  The New York Public Library is just one more reason to be proud of this beautiful city.

He really did love those girls! 🙂

I have to show you a couple of photos of the library!  It’s just too beautiful!

This is the Main Reading Room, computers, books, and researchers . . . all very quiet!

The Gift Shop!  (We brake for gift shops!) I picked up a book called Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway, a book full of stories of the inspirations behind the great works of literature; opened it right to the page about Beatrix Potter where she is illustrating a letter to a child; took it as a sign and now it’s my book!

OK, I have to get going.  Joe just came upstairs, herding me out of the cocoon, toward the shower, bringing me breakfast again . . . I’m pushing my luck, two days in a row!  This time it was that same delicious buttered toast, with a cut-up apple, white cheddar cheese, a tangerine and a slice of ham!  And another cup of tea!  Very lucky girl.  Someday I should tell you about the Princess syndrome the boys were talking about at dinner last night, I think I am seeing it in action…they think it’s smart to treat women like Princesses, and I must say, I could not agree with them more! 


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322 Responses to From Someone Else’s House in New York!

  1. Doris Minear says:

    Dear Susan
    You were with us at our Valentine’s Day Tea. I used your Lennox tea pot and dishes for our orange heart scones, and chicken salad sandwiches. I made raspberry brownies and cut them out in the shape of hearts. My husband and I had such a romantic evening. He gave me flowers and chocolates. We had our tea in the living room in front of the fire. Your spirit was there with us. Looking forward to reading your next blog.

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