The Year of the Fire Monkey

Today marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year and, in anticipation of this celebration, I went down to Chinatown to see how people were preparing for it.  The streets were filled with people shopping for food, party poppers that make noise and release confetti, and decorations for their family festivities.  The Chinese Zodiac works on a twelve year rotation.  This year is the year of the fire monkey, which always occurs on a leap year.  The new year is based upon the lunar calendar, so the date changes annually. This year it begins on February 8th and ends on January 27, 2017.  I hope that all who celebrate have a wonderful new year! 

Super BowL 50

I rarely, if ever, watch professional football.  Super Bowl Sunday is the exception because I enjoy the pageantry and excitement of this particular day.  People gather in groups to watch the game, so the sociability element is the main draw for me.  Equally fun, though, is seeing the commercials and the half-time show.  While I am sure that many people will tune in to watch the game tonight, the pre-game buzz, leading up to the game has been low.  With all of the controversy surrounding the game, it remains to be seen if the Super Bowl will make it to 100.  I guess we will have to stay tuned to see.  Until then, may the best team win. Go Panthers and Broncos!

Update:  First commercial was a winner!  Hyundai Car Finder commercial was cute, funny, and very appealing!

Is Cauliflower the new Kale?

A few years ago, kale was all the rage. Kale was found in everything from chips to juices to salads. People may still be eating it, but it doesn’t seem to be as ubiquitous as it once was.  I personally never developed a taste for it.  Now cauliflower appears to be stealing the spotlight from kale.  I never tried cauliflower until recently, but I love it and eat it everyday.  I prefer it when it is roasted in the oven with a little olive oil and a sprinkling of kosher salt.  The picture below doesn’t do it justice, but I assure you that it is delicious and highly nutritious, too.

It’s Groundhog Day!

Punxsutawney Phil, the well-known prognosticator of seasonal change, did not see his shadow this year.  Evidently this means that spring will come early this year.  While I am excited about the prospect of an early spring, I do not put a lot of stock in the predictions of an oversized rodent.  In fact, Phil’s predictions are accurate only thirty percent of the time, which means that they are inaccurate most of the time. People love traditions, though, and news programs need light-hearted stories to report, so we embrace Groundhog Day, whether it is accurate or not.

Let the Race Begin

The 2016 Presidential election will be the first one that I vote in, so I am paying closer attention to the primary process this year than I did four years ago.  Primary season kicked off today in Iowa, but they don’t hold primaries there; they have caucuses.  I must admit that I am very confused by how a caucus works.  Iowans don’t actually go into voting booths and pull levers.  They go to gyms, churches, community centers, or other public meeting places where  candidates or their representatives make pitches to try to convince voters to vote for them.  The process is more complex than this and it is somewhat different for Democrats and Republicans, but this is an overview.

The results are in:  Ted Cruz has won the Republican caucuses and Hilary Clinton eked out a victory by a razor sharp margin.

Now it is onto New Hampshire next week, followed by South Carolina later this month. 

Thawing Out

What a difference a week makes! Last Saturday, New York City received 26.8 inches of snow, which is one tenth of an inch off of the record set back in February 2006. The city was basically shut down for 24 hours, until the snow subsided.  One week later, however, temperatures reached a balmy 59 degrees, helping thaw the remaining snow that had not yet melted.  It gave us a glimpse of spring, but I am sure that we shouldn’t get too used to this warm weather.  We have the entire month of February ahead of us and I have always found that February is the gloomiest month of all.

A Coffee a Day . . .



I was in Starbucks this morning and saw this basket of coffee with a sign that said, “Amanda’s picks”.  I am not the Amanda that picked this blend, but I snapped a picture of it anyway, to accompany my post about coffee.  I read a new report yesterday touting the benefits of coffee. There always seem to be conflicting findings about coffee; one day it is unhealthy and the next day it is.  The latest report said that coffee does not cause heart palpitations or arrthymia, but can actually improve cardiovascular health. Can it really be  true that a coffee (or two or three) a day can keep the doctor away?  I am not so sure, but I will continue to drink in moderation because there will most likely be a new report soon disparaging coffee. 

What a Racquet!


Squash is a racquet sport played on a four-walled court with two or four players. It is fast-paced game that is physically demanding, yet fun and social at the same time.  For the professional player, games can be grueling and can last for hours, but for the recreational player like me, it is an efficient form of exercise. It builds stamina, burns calories, tones the upper and lower body, sharpens mental acuity, and improves cardiovascular function.  Most of the top players hail from Egypt, England, and Pakistan, but the sport is gaining popularity in the United States. I don’t expect to reach the top echelons of the sport, but I do look forward to improving my game and playing well into the future.

Snowed In!

 Pictures taken in Central Park today by my uncle 

New York City is snowed in and locked down.  Meteorologists predicted that there would be 8-12 inches of snow, but this blizzard, known as Jonas, has far surpassed the experts’ estimates.  It has been snowing steadily for 20 hours and there are already 20 inches on the ground, with more to come. Mayor DeBlasio has declared a state of emergency here in New York.  He suspended bus service  and imposed a ban on personal vehicular travel. This city that never sleeps is officially taking a nap. Thank goodness for Netflix!

Thinking Warm Thoughts

Winter was slow in coming to the Northeast this year, but it has finally arrived.  Temperatures have dipped down below freezing and winds have kicked up.  There is a blizzard on the horizon, with a foot or more of snow predicted for this weekend. If I cannot go someplace warm any time soon, the least I could do is dream of some far off, warm locale with white sand beaches and turquoise water. I hope that these photos, which I took at different locations in the last few years, will warm you up.