Colour & Line & Pattern

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Some of my New York photos were taken because the combination of colour with lines creating patterns spoke to me. These photographs especially created bright spots in a grey New York  (I can see where the images of Gotham come from.)  The photographs are shared here in the hopes that readers will find inspiration in them and or just enjoy the colours.

I was quite taken by the parquet flooring in Stella McCartney. The colours changes subtly from one area of the store to another. The stairs create an optical illusion that is has an interesting possibility for a quilt I think. In Kate Spade the whole store bloomed with colour and the displays of merchandise were colour blocked with the books along the ceiling shelves signalling the movement of the merchandise colours. The walls in certain areas combined the colours to create a saturated environment for the bags, shoes and other merchandise. Gundrun Sjoden featured rugs and light fixtures that echoed the brightness of the clothing. The feeling was of being in a garden. Mood fabric had the rolls organized by fibre content with a riot of colour in each section.

This is a very short post again as the Alberta election was called last Tuesday and I am devoting my days to my MLA’s reelection campaign.  It is a wonderful time, as the Office Manager I get to meet so very many interesting people on the phone or who drop in for signs or to volunteer or tell us of their support.  It is an intense learning experience and my horizons have expanded.  I highly recommend it.

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Easter 2015

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Happy Easter! I had a few minutes on Friday and it was sunny so out to my garden I went with camera in hand.  I found purple and yellow crocus’  blooming.  Daffodils are poking through the  soil and some tulips are coming up.

This is a brief post to say that my regular posts each Sunday may vary in the next month or so.  I have been volunteering for my MLA as we ready for a Spring election.   As soon as the election is called (which I have reason to think will be soon) I will disappear into the campaign office.

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Anatomy of a Quilt

Tumbleweed 2015

Tumbleweed 2015

Earlier this year I posted about receiving the package of fabrics for the Trend-Tex challenge from the Canadian Quilters Association. The fabric was full of possibilities. So now the piece is completed and mailed off.  This morning’s  blog will analyse the creation of the quilt.
This analysis will be a look back to my design (plan) based on the design elements and principles. Different publications divide the elements and principles in different ways.  However the words are the same.  I chose to  use the Canadian Quilters Association categories. Their standards show under elements: line,shape, pattern, texture, colour. Principles of design include balance, rhythm, harmony emphasis and proportion.
Part of my design was a given. The colours of the package were determined. Thus design development began there.  The colours are: navy blue, marsala (red), yellow rust print, a floral print incorporating marsala, gold/yellow with a grey background and last of all a grey print. So eliminating the grey, not a colour that leaves blue, red and yellow or the three primary colours thus a Triadic colour scheme. I view the colours as tones with the addition of grey to each one. The colours taken together are harmonious (principle), i.e. working together in a pleasing way.
I set the fabric out and put the design problem in my mind. As I pass it, I think about the title of the Trend-Tex challenge “Blowin’ in the Wind”. I also think about Lethbridge. The wind blows incessantly in Lethbridge (at least on the occasions when I have been there). Lethbridge is arid prairie and there are portions of spectacular cliffs exposing the strata of the earth below. So my mind evolves to a landscape that will incorporate the sense of wind i through some of the quilting and the embellishment. The piece will be horizontally oriented and the lines and shape (elements) will echo the topography of the location. Consideration has to be given to how I can get the horizontal length of fabric to provide the emphasis (principle) that will tell the viewer that this is a Lethbridge area landscape.
To construct the piecing of the wall hanging I refer to “Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts” by Rayna Gillan. She provides the details for free-hand cutting and sewing. I find them a wonderful review and as I often have a visual problem understanding this technique I took notes and made a sample that I can keep. This book opens me to all kind of ideas for abstract quilts but due to time I limit my enthusiasm and keep focused.
As the top evolves from  the fabric I am concerned about the balance (principle) between earth and sky. As I am thinking about the line between earth and sky. I also consider the weight of each fabric. Certainly the yellow is the most dominant. However the marsala and the navy blue balance are used to balance out the amount of yellow. l decide to make the earth ⅔’s of the piece and the sky and sunset ⅓. This achieves a horizontal balance.

Lines in the quilting are used to support the horizontal design of the quilt. The earth echoes the strata of the earth while the sky quilting lines  are slightly modified to give a sense of movement in the clouds and still maintain the horizontal image. The middle section representing the surface of the earth is quilted with long diagonal sweeping quilting lines to emphasize (principle) the blowing wind.
Now for the focal point (emphasis). This is created by a series of hand painted loosely interpreted tumbleweeds across the earth surface of the wall hanging.
I felt that the quilt needed a boundary but a minimal one, in proportion (scale) to the piece. I chose using the 4 different strip method I learned from Yvonne Porcella some years ago. They form a narrow binding and minimally contain the piece. I could have chosen a piece without a visual binding but felt that the binding was needed to complete the piece.



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Art or Craft


This week there have been three hits to my perception  concerning art and craft. The first one actually goes back to an exhibition I saw in New York at the Modern Museum of Art. There were a number of textile pieces in this exhibition. The one that particularly drew my attention looked like a painting except it was a textile, mounted on stretcher bars so that from a distance it looked like a painting, abiet a very dark piece. When you were nearly touching it you could see that that it was knit, machine knit in dark brown with some green lettering through it. Unremarkable except for the card beside it raising the issue that Painting is at the top of the hierarchy and art and knitting, quilting craft and therefore at the bottom. She also references male vs female within that hierarchy.
Tracy Chevalier (via Anna Hergert) writes that she thinks quilts should be art. She comes to this by saying that “Art is not defined by how it is made, but by what it does to us.” Tracy goes on to say that to her “craft is something made to be admired and used, while art is made to get a response, to make us think or feel. ” That leads me to wonder then are large functional quilts intended as bed coverings craft and wall hangings art?
The third note came from Loraine Torrence’s introduction to “The Quilter’s Guide to Design Essentials. In it she asks “Are quilts art or craft?” “Should quiltmakers be considered artists? Should wall quilts demand the same prices as paintings, sculptures ad other works traditionally accepted as “fine art”.”
I think that many of us who create wall hangings or “art quilts” and  and more mixed media creations would like to be recognized as artists. We certainly are in our own minds. I also think that we would like the recognition from others that our pieces can hang in public and private spaces and be granted shows in mainstream galleries. Part of that recognition is that our work command the prices that current works of art bring.  I look forward to your thoughts on this.


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New York – Fibre & Fashion Fusion

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This post brings together two passions of mine, fashion and fibre. My love of texture and colour began by creating clothes.  Then I discovered an enlarged canvas  with quilts and my passion modified.  Now my world has a new window.  I am seeing how I can combine my love of creating clothes with many of the techniques and embellishments that I use in my quilting. I’m not an early adopter.  We are seeing that trend in many places.
At least one designer Kees van den Aker has been combining layering and quilting techniques for a while. I have tried a couple of his Vogue patterns and with mixed results. He combines colour and texture, my reason for working in fibre. His clothes are definitely collage.
We travelled to his boutique: Koos & Co in New York. It was tiny and delightful. I tried on several items to get a sense of what the shapes looked like on me. More attention was paid to the fabric combinations. One that resonated with me was a jacket that of cotton plaid on one side and the other was a heavy lace. The cotton plaid was slashed to show the lace on the other side.
Other designers are joining the quilted, collage, embellished trend. Most of these clothes are not for the faint of heart. Neither are the designs like the original quilted garments that were stiff and often looked like the wearer was a bulls eye target. To be successful in adventuring down this road it takes a good eye for design and use of colour. When I look at the garments I am reminded of Miss Piggy saying “more is more”. That is definitely the case and at the same time sometimes more can be overwhelming.

When I look at a piece I try to analyze what works and why. For example In the February Vogue I saw a beautiful long coat that was a simple patchwork. The unit was a parallelogram and the piecing followed the long lines of the coat. I read it as a split complementary colorway with a riot of prints of similar value. There is sone variation of scale but mainly they are medium in size and work together as a whole. It would take a certain joie de vie to carry if off but fun. It is a Prada design. I welcome some feedback on my analysis.
If you want to try either a garment collage or a fabric collage New York is the place to get the supplies. Ovewhelming variety! That is the best way I can describe what we found in the New York Fashion District. Some cotton plaid perhaps for an attempt on a Koos design came from a shop called Mood Fabrics.  Just to get their e-ads provides inspiration each time they come into my inbox. Often the fabrics are the last bolt of a designer’r run and unique. As you can see from the slide above there is bolt after bolt. I am not often overwhelmed but I hardly knew where to begin. Fortunately I went in with a list. I didn’t find everything on my list but did come home with a couple of things.
Also in the fashion district we found several shops with ribbon, button and other embellishments. Because I couldn’t figure out where to start it was easy not to get carried away. I did however bring home some ribbon from Mokuba.  It was a unique shop, just ribbon, thousands and thousands of rolls.
As we were in New York during Fashion Week in February it was a treat to see the garment racks being pushed along the street. Thngs I had only seen on TV or the internet previously.  We were close to the Fashion Institute of Technology  so made the trek to their Museum.  We saw an exhibit of Yves Saint Laurent and Halston.  I enjoyed seeing the “70’s clothing.  Some of the influences can be seen in current fashion, other pieces seemed dated and still others are timeless.   We also saw an exhibition entitled “Faking It”, comparing originals, copies and counterfeits.  It used to be that new collections were closely guarded secrets so that knock-off’s couldn’t be on the street before the new collection could be unveiled.  Originals were sold in order to create listened copies.  Designers also used the originals to create their own licences copies to get their designs to more mass markets.  Today there are people who see the designs somewhat after the fact and “interpret the designs” for a particular market.  Still others just copy the designs.  I have seen this in handbags.  Of course they are no where near the quality of the originals or the licensed copies but they are out there and popular.

To live in New York, conceive of a design either for a quilt or a garment and then go shopping would be a dream come true.

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New York – from 5th Avenue to Soho

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When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.  Even though when we went outside any distance the tears ran down our faces due to the cold and wind – what’s a girl to do?  How can you be in New York and not go shopping?  Of course we did.  The time was short, but we did our considerable best.   First stop  – 5th Avenue. One essential place for me to go was Tiffany’s.  The whole store was – well dazzling!  There are interesting designs by well known designers, that I admired,  particularly Paloma Picasso.    For me there has always been nothing better than a Tiffany’s diamond – solitaire setting originally but now there are so many beautiful contemporary designs.  I just admired.  I have decided that diamonds are the best of any precious stone because they catch the light and add sparkle to any day.

From there we went across the corner to Bergdorf Goodman.  The 5th floor displays went from one perfect diorama to another.  Each one was chock full of beautiful objects ‘d art.  There was only time to get an impression.  The whole store was a sensory delight.  No one who knows me all will believe it when I say that was all of the department stores on 5th Avenue that I saw.  However I swear that it is true,

I wanted to explore other parts of New York shopping while we had a knowledgable guide.   We went to Soho which turned out to be lots of fun.  We started at Kate Spade and the colours of the clothes ,bags accessories and the shop arrangement was spectacular.  We were warmed by this delightful store.  Because that is where we started one morning we intended to make it back.  However there were so many other temptations that we didn’t get back.

We went to Stella McCartney and again the colours of spring, particularly a soft yellow caught my attention.  The clothes were creative and appealing.  We found shop with very contemporary minimalist design clothes of wonderful natural fibres called IF.

The shop we spent the most time in is unique to New York and the Gudrun Sjoden  shop in Soho is he only North American shop of this Swedish designer. It was so colourful.  Her design inspirations come mostly from nature and bright colours abound in nature and in Gudrum’s clothes.  We had so much fun in the store.  There were 5 of us and everyone tried on and on and on.  It was one of those stores that cause me a lot of trouble because the easy way to deal with it is to choose one of everything.  I managed to narrow it down and don’t think that there was anything that wouldn’t have been great.  Each time I came out of the dressing room I saw something else.  No one left empty handed and now that we know our sizes the online catalogue will be a source of inspiration,  The designs themselves are simple.  It is the patterns and colour combinations that are the most fun.

New York shopping could be a career path in itself.  The slideshow in this blog is mostly about colour and pattern.  I find it inspiration for pieces that may be part of a New York collection at some time.


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New York – All Around the Town

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Our very first morning in New York we set of for museums. The subway stop we disembarked on turned out to be the Dakota. One of the features on my to see. Then we tripped across the street to Strawberry Fields. Tiny snowdrops were just poking their heads above the ground through several inches of brown leaves. Among the brown leaves were nestled little brown sparrows with just their wee heads poking up. It was a cold day in Central Park and we only encountered a few hardy souls. However we did stop for pictures at the Alice in Wonderland statue and kept on going until we reached the Loeb Boathouse tearoom. It was warm and welcoming and we enjoyed tea and scones before setting off for the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
From there to the Guggenheim. One could not visit New York without seeing Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic structure. There I found an unusual (my take) exhibition by On Kawara – Silence. A m interesting part of the exhibit were a set off canvasses with dates mounted on them. Below each date were the boxes that they were to be stored in, each box was lined with a newspaper from the date hanging above. So they were a 20th century history. Another exhibit was Kandinsky before Abstraction which I found very interesting. What I found the most memorable was a Picasso entitled “Woman Ironing”. Leaving the Guggenheim we took a taxi (so we could say that we had) part way to Rockfeller Centre. On the way we had a glimpse of Carnegie Hall and Radio City Music Hall.
It was actually cold enough that people were skating, another iconic glimpse of New York. We made our way to the Top of the Rock and had a magnificent view of Central Park, it seemed very small from that height. it was fun to see the view from each side and get the skyscrapers of New York in our sights. When we looked way way out we could see the Statue of Liberty in the distance. I was quite satisfied with that. The Staten Island ferry and Ellis Island will have to wait until a warmer trip.
One of the sights that I really enjoyed was seeing the Chrysler building lit up at night. It was a beacon to orient oneself by. The lights on the World Trade Centre from a distance were also magnificent.
A trip to MoMa (Museum of Modern Art) was an experience. Just getting in and checking and retrieving one’s coat was an experience. No matter where we went the number of people was always a bit of a surprise although it should’t have been. Clearly what I understood at an intellectual level had a emotional impact that I wasn’t prepared for. At MoMa I was able to see “The Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec: Prints and Posters” and a special exhibition that included some textiles.
One last stop to note in all around the town was a visit to the New York Public Library. Patience and Fortitude,the lions at the entrance, were impressive and I expect serve as reminders of the value of both of those attributes every time one passes them. The library was awe inspiring and I would have loved to spend the day and then another and another.
All around this town in any detail would take a life time. I managed to get just a taste.

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New York – M & S Schmalberg


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This story is a case of serendipity. I was cleaning out my Vogue Pattern magazines just before I went to New York and found an article in the June/July 2023 issue about a firm that made flowers in New York. Tore the article out and showed it to our intrepid tour leader Brenda. She said well we are going to be the garment district, let’s see if we can find it. Off we went and into a building and confirmed with the man on reception that we were in the right place and took the elevator to the 7th floor to M.& S. Schmalberg Inc.
We could see flowers through the window and were bussed in by Adam Brand and welcomed to the showroom It got better. Adam could see our enthusiasm and also see us peaking around the corner into the shop floor. He asked us if we would like to be shown around. We didn’t think twice. We were treated like princesses. There were box after box filled with wonderful fabric flowers. It was like being at a smorgasbord banquet where the wonderful food exceed what you can possibly consume. We hardly knew where to look next. Along came Warren who guided us through the shop. We saw machines that cut the petals from fabric. We saw dies that would then shape the petals. We saw people working at assembling the flower petals into groups and we saw the flower centres being added and the luscious results.
The flowers are used for many purposes. Some turn up on costumes for theatre, some for gowns that stars wear to the Oscars and in movies. Some are used for wedding dresses and couture outfits. Some are used in napkin rings, for wedding decorations,bouquets and boutinneres. They are great pins and can be used on hats and in hair ornaments. I wanted one of everything. My friend and I took many pictures and you can see them above. They show the process better than I can explain.
Warren and Adam could see how delighted we were and we each came away with a box of flowers. Luckily I brought an extra suitcase. i am looking at them now and enjoying the artistry and craftsmanship of the work There are endless combinations of fabrics, dies to cut petal, still other moulds to shape the petals and many ways to assemble them. Literaly there is no end to creativity in this business and the showroom and flowers reflect this. Their website is as eye popping as the showroom and you can see the details of how the petals are marked and the finished products.

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New York – Let’s Get On With the Show

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Six wonderful nights of appealing performances.  This is another reason I love New York.  As soon as we arrived and stashed our luggage at Leo House some of us went to Times Square to see what we could find in show tickets for the evening.  We found tickets for “On the Town”.  It was  wonderful musical and even though we were very tired we throughly enjoyed the singing, the costumes and the overall production.  It was very exciting the first night in New York to hear the song  “New York, New York,  a helluva of a town”.   It set the stage for the week and yes it is a helluva of a town.

Monday evening saw us attend the Metropolitian Opera in the Lincoln Centre complex.  The opera was La Donna del Lago by Rossini.   Beyond the set, the performers and the wonderful music a highlight for me was the hall with the Swarovski crystal chandeliers.  As the curtain rose for the first act so did the chandeliers.  We came away feeling satiated and in a bit of a wonderland.

Next we went off to the Jazz Standard club.  We were privileged to hear the Russell Malone Quartet.  Russell Malone is considered to be one of today’s finest jazz guitarists.  He was introducing a new CD  “Love Looks Good On You”  The CD is wonderful mellow jazz.  The set was great, , with some good variety, it was over too soon.  I actually spoke with Russell Malone and told him how much I enjoyed the quartet’s music.  toWe had a great southern dinner, there were fritters, a great brown butter sweet potato mash, crispy brussel sprouts slaw and a delicious banana cream pie with lots of bananas and crispy shards of burnt sugar brittle.

One of the students from Grant MacEwan U had a cousin acting in this show and this drew us to the Kraine theatre on the lower East side on Wed. evening .  “The Accident” was very much like a Fringe play in Edmonton, well done and very enjoyable. We were lucky to get it on opening night.  There were a number of small theatres in this location. It would be fun to have been able to see more in the evening.

Thursday  saw us back on Broadway at the Lincoln Centre, this time Avery Fisher Hall.  We were wowed  by Yo Yo Mah and the Silk Road Ensemble and also by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.  I was blown away by the size of the orchestra and the youth of the concertmaster.  The sound filled the hall and the Strauss: Death and Transfiguration transported the listener.  I realized that this was the first symphony orchestra I had heard live other than my favourite  Edmonton Symphony.  When I expressed my amazement at the size and the sound I was told that the New York Philharmonic is considered one of the premiere orchestra’s in the world.  Again I felt so lucky to be able to hear them.  The Silk Road Ensemble’s music was all new to me.  However I knew I was going to love it when I heard f what I thought was bagpipes and turned out to be a gaita. Yo Yo Mah and the Silk Road Ensemble certainly expanded my musical horizons.  As I write I am listening to them and am transported back to Lincoln Centre.

Our last evening took us back to Times Square and  Broadway for The Audience.  We went into a magnificent old theatre the Gerald Schoenfeld, divested ourselves of many outer layers and settled into our seats with anticipation.   The curtain went up and Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth appeared.  Within a few minutes we were not aware that it was Helen Mirren.  It was the Queen of England.  The mannerisms, the voice  the gestures and the facial expression were to a Queen watcher evidence that this was the Queen.   Helen Mirren’s diction is impeccable.  She is agile onstage.  I was mesmerized!. In short this was the best way to conclude a week in New York if it had to be concluded at all.

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New York – Food Glorious Food


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Food seems to be on my mind  so today’s topic fits nicely.  Might as well write about food while the house still smells of the baker’s dozen of “everything” bagels that I brought home from Murray’s Bagels in Chelsea.  I was alerted that the bagels were addictive and I concur.  I was also warned that I should not ask for a toasted bagel.  (A toasted bagel is just matter of fact in Edmonton).  My friend went in to Murray’s with me one day and asked for a toasted bagel before I could tell her not to and she was told that Murray’s bagels were never toasted.  They are so fresh that they don’t need to be toasted.  They are thinner than bagels I have eaten.  The texture is dense with a very  fine crumb. They are just the right amount of chewy and don’t require a lot of effort to eat.  I think that this is a good measure of a bagel.  Murray’s also has a very nice variety of soft spreadable cream cheese.  I liked the scallion one and the Kalamata olive one was also recommended.  When you buy one ready to eat the cream cheese is generous and oozes out the sides once you bite into it.   Murray’s also had delicious raspberry rugulach, just saying.

As I write this I am reminded of a card I saw years ago which had a picture of pioneers next to a covered wagon and in front of a campfire.  The inscription said “ate out again today, it was good”.  That statement pretty much sums up eating in New York.  Good food where ever we went.   Some food and locations did stand out.

One such location was Doughnut Plant.  Fortunately it was located directly between the subway exit and Leo House, a two block journey each evening as we returned from our foray to uptown shows.   To fortify ourselves for the last block through cold blasts of winter we would of course stop, ostensibly to warm up.  Unfortunately that excuse wore a bit thin as we found that even the largest doughnut can be scarfed in less than three minutes.  I am not really a doughnut fan but have never been such a shop in my life.  Pecan Praline Beignet, Brooklyn  Blackout, Peanut Butter & Raspberry Jam, Coconut Cream, Manhattan Cream,  Creme Brûlée. Of course there were more, but even in a brief time one develops favourites.  The long wall was covered with three-dimensional fabric doughnuts.  Whoever did these was an excellent fibre craftsperson and there is real creativity displayed.

One evening when we ventured to a Lower East Side off, off Broadway play we ate at Katz’s Delicatessen.  We sat directly next to the table made so famous in Harry Met Sally.  The sign above the table said “we hope that you have what she had”.  In fact we had the Pastrami sandwich which is the best.  I actually had half a sandwich.  I couldn’t get my mouth around it and tried to take it apart and still couldn’t get through it.  I felt that it could have easily served me and a couple of friends.  One person in our party had a vanilla egg cream.  I tried a sip and it was delicious.  Another person had the potato pancakes and I tried those as well.  Would go again but would share half a sandwich with a friend.

Thursday we wandered around Soho for shopping and found a restaurant called  Le Pain Quotidien.  It was a communal table restaurant with delicious organic food, heavenly bread plus more.  My problem is that my eyes are always bigger than my stomach.  The most memorable item for me at Le Pain  Quotidien was the beverage. (I was now waging all out war on the sore throat).  It was a bowl of frothy hot lemonade with freshly grated ginger, lemon chunks and honey.  Wish we had a restaurant like this in Edmonton, alas, none in Canada yet.

Yes, yes this is getting to be an essay.  I have honed it down to just three more restaurant/ food shops I want to tell about.  Readers are very lucky that I didn’t get to any of the food shops listed in my favourite Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.

Our tour leader had tried to schedule lunch at Eataly.  We finally made it to discover as she put it “a Debaji’s on steroids”.  An apt description.  Piles of many kinds of oranges and other citrus fruit.  Shelves of interesting pasta, chocolates, nougat.  Then there were the deli food counters – focaccia with aroma’s to draw you in, panini that looked like they should be in a painting, desserts so luscious you wanted to say “one of everything please”.  As well there were individual restaurants within the store including one for pasta and a wine bar. One of our group from Edmonton had been invited to lunch with a friend and he discovered that there was another restaurant on the 14th floor with a wonderful view in addition to delicious food.

Our last afternoon we wandered (if you could say that when it was one of the coldest days in New York and mighty chilly even by western Canadian standards) down to Chelsea Market.  It was food kiosk, restaurant, food shop, one after another.  There are two that particularly caught my interest.  The first was spices and tease .  This market kiosk consisted of bowls and bowls of fresh spices and teas behind glass of course and a very appealing display.  I came home with a very few to try.

I saw a sign Liddabit Sweets. I have a cookbook of the same name so I was off on a search.  A small kiosk tucked in a corner turned out to be the storefront location for Liz Gutman and Jen King authors of the cookbook.  Before laughing yourselves all the way to the fridge for a carrot check out this book or even better the shop.  Top notch ingredients and exacting recipes by authors who met at the French Culinary Institute. Good candy making is not a slam dunk but the results are worth it.

So I am at the end except for I remembered that when I was in Grand Central Station food court I kept seeing these cookies that were iced half white and half black.  Some were just regular size and some the size of side plates.  I stopped and asked if they were special to New York and was told that yes they were and that they had come out of  Seinfeld episode.  So when next in New York go to Grand Central.  While there be sure and check out Magnolia bakery.  I am hoping I can find the recipe for their “Smore” cake.  One of the very best I have eaten but not shippable to Edmonton.



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