My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.




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Entries in New York (21)



Things have been a bit of a blur for me lately. In a six week span I visited four countries, four states and had been on seventeen flights. Add some very long work days and a lot of spring yard work into the mix after I finally got home and needless to say things have been a little crazy. I have so much to share and plan to start posting again soon with life settling down a bit. In the meantime I thought I would share collages of my Instagram pictures from my recent travels.

New York, London, Madaba, Jordan's Rift Valley...

Kerak, Petra, Saqqara, Mephis, Giza, Cairo...

Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Esna, Cruising on the Nile, El Kab, Edfou...

More Cruising on the Nile, Djebel Silsileh, Kom Ombo, Aswan, Rome...

More Rome, Vatican City, Los Angeles...

More Los Angeles, Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Seattle...

Seattle, Phoenix, Tonto National Forest...

...and home!


9/11 Memorial  

As the United States remembers the terrible events that happened on this date thirteen years ago, I wanted to honor today by sharing my visit to the National September 11 Memorial.

Frank and I went to the Memorial last year while we were in New York during the "Interim Operating Period" when construction on nearby World Trade Center projects surrounded the Memorial. Because of this we had to have ticket reservations and wait in line to enter, however as of May of this year visitors can freely enter the Memorial Plaza during its open hours from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

The main feature of the Memorial is two enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools which stand in the location of the original twin towers' footprints. The design was intended to symbolize the loss and void left by the terrorist attacks with the sound of the rushing water drowning out the city noise to create a reflective atmosphere. 


The most haunting aspect of the memorial is the bronze plates that surround the pools inscribed with the names of the victims of the 2001 and 1993 attacks on the World Trade Center. You can't help but feel overwhelmed by the devastation and loss of life as you walk around the pools looking at the names. Seeing the words "and her unborn child" after a woman's name was particularly gut wrenching. Visitors left remembrances for loved ones by placing flowers in their names and the park staff honors the victims by leaving them a white rose on their birthdays.

The Museum was dedicated and opened to the public in May of this year, but was still under construction when Frank and I visited.

Among the grove of over 400 swamp white oaks in the Memorial Plaza stands a special callery pear tree known as the Survivor Tree. It was found severely damaged in the rubble of Ground Zero in October 2001 and after its recovery was planted at the Memorial in 2010 serving as a living symbol of perseverance and rebirth.  

Visiting the Memorial was profoundly sad. I have the deepest gratitude to the people who serve our country and my heart goes out to all those whose lives were shattered on that terrible day.



Things have been a little crazy for me lately. In a forty day span from mid-September to late-October I spent only fifteen days in Ann Arbor. Honestly, I am a bit exhausted and looking forward to being back home for a bit.

The traveling kicked off when Frank and I flew to New York for a few days. We ate some wonderful dinners at Blue Ribbon and Mission Chinese and had a decadent brunch at Norma's. We visited the Whitney Museum to see a wonderful Edward Hopper exhibit and then paid a somber visit to the 9/11 Memorial. We also snuck in some time to visit the Feast of San Gennaro and pick up spices at Kalustyan's. One of the big highlights was that we got to see my favorite play, The Glass Menagerie, being performed at the Booth Theater starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto. It was really quite amazing.

That Saturday we then drove to Connecticut to see Michigan play U Conn. It was an ugly football game but thankfully Michigan pulled out a win.

After being back home for two days I flew out to Japan for work. That weekend I had time for sightseeing and started my Saturday morning by going to the Osu Kannon flea market and picking up a few fun items.

I then took the Shinkansen south to Himeji to visit Himeji Castle. The main keep has been under restoration since April 2010 continuing through March 2015. I had previously visited the castle in September 2008 before the restoration began when I was living in Japan and my sister came to visit. I decided to visit the castle again so that I could see the restoration process. I also spent a little time at the nearby Japanese style garden, Koko-en.

On Sunday I spent the day in Kyoto. I was with my friend from work, Cassie, who had never been to Japan before so I took her to see a few lovely temples and shrines. We visited the gorgeous golden Kikaku-ji followed by the amazing rock garden at Ryoan-ji. We then visited the sand gardens at Ginkaku-ji and ended the day by visiting my favorite place in Kyoto, Fushimi Inari Taisha, to wander through the brilliant crimson torii.

After a long work week I was ready to head home that Friday. I went to the airport to see if I could get on the non-stop flight to Detroit, but unfortunately I was stuck with my connections through Honolulu and LA. I had some time before my flight so I headed to Arimatsu which is known for its special technique of tie-dying fabrics called shibori.

I finally got on my 8 pm flight and after a three hour layover in Honolulu (where I got breakfast at Nico's Pier 38 and wandered the airport gardens) and LA (where I grabbed dinner at Encounter in the Theme Building) I finally got home at 6 am on Saturday morning.

The following weekend Michigan was playing Penn State so off we drove to Happy Valley for the weekend. We had a fun day tailgating but lost the game in the fourth overtime.

After a week at home I was out in Arizona this week past week for work. It was very busy with long work days but I did get to see some friends who live in the area in the evening and satisfy my fix for In-N-Out Burger. Also, when driving to work one day my co-worker and I saw some hot air balloons and one even landed near the road we were on.

As you can imagine, not too much has happened on the home front with all this traveling going on. There are two items of note, however.

First, right before all of the traveling started all of the rough inspections for my bathroom and laundry were approved. Now I just need to get some time to start closing the walls up!

Second, the house paint was looking a little faded and there was some peeling that needed to get addressed so we hired a guy to paint the house. We are keeping the same basic color scheme but going with bolder, darker shades. Below is an example of the new paint on the left and the old paint on the right. It makes a world of difference and I can't wait until it is done.

Anyway, that's what I have been up to lately. I'm looking forward to some time at home to get going on finishing up the laundry and downstairs bathroom. On top of that I have a bunch of apples and sugar pumpkins that I bought yesterday that I plan on making into applesauce and pumpkin puree.  Have you been doing any traveling or working on any fun projects this fall?



A few year's ago my friend, Sarah, visited me in Ann Arbor. Her friend and her friend's college friend (both Penn State alumni) happened to coming to Ann Arbor that very same weekend to watch Penn State play Michigan in football. Having a big house all to myself I invited them to also stay at my house and the four of us had a lot of fun making dinner together and hanging out.

Knowing that I love to cook, one of ladies, who was from New York, mentioned that next time I was in New York I should really go to Kalustyan's as she was sure that I would love it. Of course I went on my next trip to the city and ever since I've made it a tradition to stop there every time I am in New York.

Kalustyan's is a specialty food shop that has all sorts of wonderful goodies, especially from India and the Middle East. The narrow aisles are lined floor to ceiling with just about every dry good imaginable. On top of the wonderful selection the prices are really great as well.

The best part of Kastulyan's for me is the amazing selection of bulk spices sold by the bag. The store smells amazingly fragrant with all of the spice smells mingling together.

Frank likes Kastulyan's because it is the only place other than a few expensive online sites that he has been able to buy smoked paprika, which is a staple in his cooking. Just as an example of the extensive selection of spices, the picture below is only showing different types of paprika that Kastulyan's stocks.

Although we could have easily bought out the store, Frank and I settled on getting two large bags of smoked paprika, pickling spice and some chia seeds. I've never made anything with chia seeds before but I thought they would be fun to try.

Before leaving Frank and I headed upstairs for a stop at the deli. Along with olives and cheeses, they also have a selection of vegetarian and meat options that make a great lunch.

Frank and I shared a combination plate of chick peas, grape leaves, a samosa and kasseri cheese. We enjoyed our delicious food while sitting in the window overlooking Lexington Avenue.

The most surprising thing happened after we had paid for our spices and headed outside to hail a taxi. Although I have been to Kalustyan's several times I never noticed before that there was a New York Historical Society plaque outside providing a little background to the building.

It turns out that at that spot on September 20, 1881 Chester A. Arthur took the oath of office to become the 21st President of the United States after President James A. Garfield was assassinated. William Randolph Hearst (inspiration for the famous movie, Citizen Kane) also later lived in the building. Fabulous spices and some history, too!

If you are in New York and love to cook I would definitely recommend a stop at Kalustyan's located at 123 Lexington Avenue. At the time of this writing the hours are Mondays - Saturdays 10am-8pm, Sundays/Holidays 11am-7pm.


Feast of San Gennaro

Frank and I have been visiting New York for a few days and while we were in town we decided to visit the Feast of San Gennaro, Patron Saint of Naples. Immigrants from Naples brought their tradition of celebrating San Gennaro's Feast Day with them to the new world, with the first in New York City happening along Mulberry Street in 1926. Originally observed only on the feast day, September 19, it has now stretched to an eleven day annual festival.

Frank and I started at Houston and wandering south down Mulberry Street, which is closed to traffic for the festival. Everywhere you look things were festooned in green, white and red, the colors of the Italian flag.

Although the food vendors had just about anything you could think of, Italian specialties, like sausages with peppers and wood fired pizzas, were prominently featured.

On the dessert side we saw several delicious looking cannoli and torrone stands. 

Unfortunately, we were already stuffed from having just eaten at Kalustyan's, but I was set on getting a cannoli at the festival. My mind was changed, however, when we happened upon a cronut stand.

A cronut is a hybrid croissant-doughnut that was developed by Dominique Ansel for his bakery. Although these were clearly knock-offs they looked irresistible. Frank reasoned that getting one filled with cannoli cream would be a good substitute for a cannoli and I was sold. As a person who loves her sweets and has high standards for my sugar filled treats, it is not lightly that I say that this was one of the best desserts I have ever eaten. 

Mixed among the food and souvenir stands there were also a number of booths featuring carnival games.

Several restaurants set up covered seating along the street for people to get out of the sun and enjoy a meal or drink.

After walking all day, Frank and I were enticed to make a stop at one of the covered tents and relax with a few drinks: him with a cold Peroni and me with a glass of homemade sangria.

Refreshed after our drinks we continued walking south along Mulberry Street.

As we neared Canal Street off to the right was Most Precious Blood Church, where a celebratory high mass is held on the official feast day, September 19, followed by a religious procession with the statue of San Gennaro through the streets. A second procession with colorful floats and music, called the grand procession, had been held the Saturday prior to our arrival in New York. 

Although we didn't have a chance to see either processional, Frank and I did enjoy the festive atmoshphere at the Feast of San Gennaro and had a great time wandering around people watching. We also learned our lesson that we should have shown up hungry!


Picture of the Day: Ferry with Statue of Liberty



















New York, New York


Picture of the Day: Union Square Holiday Market

Union Square
New York, New York


Picture of the Day: Observation Deck on Top of Rockefeller Center




















New York, New York



It just didn't seem right to post about a craft project or a travel adventure today. Today is a day to reflect on all the things that I shouldn't take for granted but I do. It is also a day to make a point of showing gratitude to the people who serve our country even though I really should thank them every day. I was lucky enough that no one I knew or loved was hurt in the attacks and my heart goes out to all those whose lives were shattered on that day.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of my Short Trip to Upstate New York

Wednesday evening of this past week I had to fly out to Syracuse, NY for a work meeting on Thursday morning. A supplier that I work with is located in the Finger Lakes region so I have taken this trip many times. It is never a great flight because it is on a tiny plane which tends to be uncomfortable but I had no idea what I was in for this time.

The Bad
The early evening flight was sold out so I was on a 9:45 flight which meant that after picking up my rental car and driving to Auburn I would likely be at my hotel by midnight. It wasn't going to be great but not that bad either.

Unfortunately my flight was delayed but since it wasn't too bad of a delay so I wasn't that concerned. After boarding the flight the pilot apologized that the air conditioning wasn't working. It was absolutely miserable - think 100 degrees with no air circulation. A baby in the back of the plane was screaming his head off most of the flight and although it made the situation worse I really couldn't blame him. On top of that the gentleman sitting beside me didn't feel limited to his own seat area and was almost sitting on top of me.

About half an hour into the flight I was trying to concentrate on my book and ignore my discomfort when the pilot came back on the PA. Due to some maintenance issues we had to head back to Detroit. A few minutes later the pilot came back to let us know that since they needed to burn off some fuel before the approach we needed to circle for a while before landing. After over an hour of miserable flying I was back where I started.

At first the air conditioning of the terminal was a welcome change but quickly the drastic change in temperature started to give me terrible chills. After an hour and a half of the flight saying we were about to board a new flight we finally managed to get on a new flight and head toward Syracuse. Lucky for me we had the same seat assignments so Mr. I Don't Care About Your Personal Space was next to me again.

When we finally arrived I was thrilled that I had only packed a carry on and didn't have to wait for any baggage. I also nearly kissed the rental car agent because she had kept the agency open over two hours after they normally close to wait for our flight. I got on the road and made it to my hotel in Auburn at nearly three in the morning.

I've flown a lot, but this was my worst flight experience. Don't get me wrong, I've had flights delayed longer or cancelled and stuck someplace for a day. But in each of those instances I've made the best of things by enjoying some extended sightseeing somewhere or relaxing and reading at an airport cafe. In short, my original plans were derailed but I wasn't miserable. On this trip I was just physically feeling miserable the entire time, plus I knew I would only be able to catch a few hours of sleep before a full day of work where I needed to be interacting with people all day. 

The Good
This post isn't all doom and gloom. After making it through the day on Thursday I went out for dinner at a lovely place called the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles with my coworkers. The Sherwood Inn is across the street from a park overlooking Skaneateles Lake so before we sat down for dinner I wandered around a bit and took a few pictures. It was really beautiful and I wished I had some time to enjoy the lake.

Back at the Sherwood Inn I had a wonderful dinner. The restaurant's history dates back to 1807 when it was a stagecoach stop. The building itself was charming with blue clapboard and shingle siding and black shutters. Inside it was just as quaint and we ate our dinner on their Lakeview Porch and watched the sun set.

Our food was delicious. We started by sharing some appetizers including the Dynamite Calamari, which were crispy fried and tossed with hot peppers, Sriracha chili vinaigrette, cilantro and lime, and the Sherwood Kettle Chips, which were freshly made and served with melted blue cheese, bacon and bacon-ranch dipping sauce. Both were incredible and I would not be able to pick a favorite.

For dinner I had the Ommegang Steamed Seafood entree which consisted of littleneck clams, shrimp and mussels steamed in a Belgian Ale with fingerling potatoes, cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers and Swiss chard. The seafood was cooked perfectly and I loved the dish. I was stuffed after dinner but made the mistake of looking at the dessert menu anyway and couldn't help ordering the Strawberry-Rhubarb Lemon Tart. It was a lemon tart with a strawberry rhubarb topping that was out of this world. I think I need to try to make something like this at home sometime.

The Ugly
After a my wonderful meal the stress of the flight into town had been replaced with simple exhaustion. I got into my car to drive to my hotel near the airport looking forward to getting a full night of sleep before flying home on Friday morning. That was not to be, however. 
During my drive, my airline called with a pre-recorded message to inform me that my flight home was cancelled. I didn't pick up since I was driving and by the time I was able to reschedule my flight everything was booked up except for the 6:10 am flight. My dreams of sleep flew out the window. I can't explain how defeated I felt especially knowing that I was going to have to be at work late on Friday. I ended up making it through the day (it was not pretty!) and needless to say that when I made it home at nine in the evening I crashed. Hard. Really hard. 

Looking back (now that I've slept!) it's a funny story and I am going to be getting some frequent flier mileage compensation which takes a little sting out of things. What was your worst flying experience? Delays, cancellations, redirected flight: I want to hear!