About Amanda

I’m a disgruntled Metro-North commuter by morning, real estate journalist by day, insomniac by night, and cancer butt-kicker for life.

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Our First NYC Easter Parade!

Easter is a holiday usually spent with family, but this year was a bit different. Mom decided to spend Easter in Florida with my brother, who moved down there last year. Alex and I were left to our own devices, so we thought we’d do something we’ve never done before: the NYC Easter Parade.

It was a goal on my 101 in 1,001 list to participate in a parade, and I was originally supposed to march with Fordham University in NYC’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year. But it snowed and rained that day, so in order to fulfill that goal, it was the Easter Parade or nothing.  So bonnets it was. (At least it wouldn’t be as complicated as the time we built reefed subway cars for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in 2008.)

Of course, we don’t like to be normal, so it couldn’t be straw hats and fake flowers. We thought it should be something NYC themed, like the subway cars. Since we already did those, Alex thought that perhaps we should do buses. At some point, we came up with the idea of doing Staten Island Ferries… but instead of a normal boat, it would have bunny ears and and a tail. As an appreciator of all puns good and bad, the “Staten Island Furries” were born.

As we planned for our bonnets, we were discussing the other way to Staten Island—the Verrazano Bridge. Mom joked that was one way to “passover” to the borough. So, of course, we had to make the bridge hat. But we needed a third person. And who better than our friend Deena from Fireball Network!

The hats turned out to be a lot more complicated that we originally thought they’d be—I’d say they took about 15 hours in total, not counting trips to Michael’s and waiting for paint to dry. Using a combination of old Priority Mail boxes, a panko bread crumb container, plastic bowls from Panera Bread, fuzzy fabric, pipe cleaners, felt, glitter, brads, and a LOT of Mod Podge, we finally finished the hats:


Here I am with both hats (Alex and I wore similar Furry hats) and the sign Deena held with another pun: EZ Passover Accepted in All Lanes. (As she joked, if her people had as good directions back when, they wouldn’t have wandered the desert for 40 days and 40 nights.) It certainly took some posturing and alterations to keep the bonnets on our heads—not to mention it later got windy, and even mini Staten Island Ferries and the Verrazano Bridge sway a lot in the breeze.

“On the Avenue, Fifth Avenue, the photographers will snap us, and you’ll find that you’re in the rotogravure!”

We certainly weren’t expecting the reaction we got, especially since we were among so many creative bonnets! We couldn’t walk more than two feet without someone stopping us and then multiple people taking our picture. Not just folks on smartphones, but even press photographers. It will be fun to see what comes out in the news and Flickr over the next few days. So far, Deena and I have made Easter Parade coverage in the NY Daily News and all three of us appear on Whom You Know, Examiner.com , and Xinuhanet coverage. We must’ve gotten at least 300 photos taken of us, if not more. Real Staten Islanders were particularly amused (and somewhat disappointed that the three of us didn’t actually hail from their borough).

One memorable moment was someone smacking me hard on the butt. I turned around and it was a little boy, no more than two or three. “Picture!” he demanded. His mother was mortified, but I obliged.

Here’s another shot of us that was taken by David Handschuh from the NY Daily News:



I particularly enjoyed this tweet from a disgruntled parade-goer. Twitter name redacted to protect the moody teenager who was dragged to this awful parade by Mommy:

just saw a woman wearing a homemade easter bonnet shaped like the “Staten Island Furry” rabbit thing god what a freak TAKE ME HOME

Glad to be of service!

We wrapped up the day with some Potbelly Sandwich Shop then dessert at my brother-in-law’s family gathering (does that make them my in-law in-laws?)

Neither Alex nor I can walk anymore, and my legs feel like iron weights are attached to them. Even though two miles wasn’t a lot to walk (Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal to the parade route of Fifth Avenue between 49th and 57th streets), the constant stopping and posing took its toll.

More photos (and a post from Deena on what we learned at the parade) soon!



Almost Finished!

Lexcie and I spent a very long day crafting to put the finishing touches on our NYC Easter Parade hats. We’re covered in Mod Podge, glitter, paint, and hot glue, but we’re very happy with the results. Here’s a tease; we’ll reveal the fruits of our labor tomorrow:



We have lots of cleaning to do before Mom gets home from Florida.

A Loaf Of Bread That’s Nearly 70 Years Old

Although we celebrated St. Joseph’s Day a little early this year, I wanted to show you two traditional items from the feast day, which falls on March 19.



Above is traditional Sicilian dish called pasta con le sarde, made with sardines, fennel, tomatoes, pine nuts, and raisins (or currants) and traditionally served on the feast day.

The bread, though, is not for eating. My great-grandmother baked it nearly 70 years ago, promising to St. Joseph that she would bake a loaf of bread for everyone on her Brooklyn street if my grandfather (named Giuseppe, the Italian form of Joseph) came home whole from World War II. He did, and she kept her promise. The bread was then blessed.

My grandmother kept the bread, wrapped in the cloth napkin, in a drawer. When we moved in with my grandmother 20 years ago, my mom found the bread and asked my grandmother why she didn’t display the bread. Well, that night was our answer—a little mouse (which we didn’t know we had) came and nibbled a bit off the end of the loaf. Back in the draw it went for safekeeping, and since then, it’s only brought out on March 19.

It’s amazing how intact the bread is, considering it’s nearly 70 years old. If you didn’t know it was as hard as a brick, you’d think it was fresh and edible. There’s been no mold, shrinkage, or any other nibbles since (given its age, we’re soon going to buy a glass display case for it). It’s truly an amazing piece of my family’s history.

Three Really Annoying Things That Happened To Me This Weekend

It was a fairly good weekend, but three really annoying things happened to me over the course of two days.

The Bastard Squirrel

It’s nearly springtime, and that means one of my favorite flowers has made its appearance—the crocus. It’s also the start of flower photo season, and I love taking photos of Mom’s garden.

Alex and I were sitting in the car yesterday when I noticed a particularly pretty crocus arrangement: a purple and yellow crocus side by side. So I told Alex, “I’m going to go inside and get my camera so I can take a picture of the crocuses.” As if on cue, this squirrel with half a tail appears out of nowhere, and eats the purple crocus. I yelled, “You bastard!” and in response, he grabbed the yellow one and looked straight at me as he munched down.

Now I know why he has half a tail. That bastard.

Skittles Removes My Favorite Flavor

Alex and I later went to see Welcome To Lawn Guyland, and I bought myself a pack of Skittles (my favorite candy) pre-show. I’m a little OCD when it comes to eating Skittles—I shake out a bunch in my hand, and eat it in the following order: lemon, orange, strawberry, grape, lime. It was a little dark in the theater, but I was able to make out the colors and saved the best for last.  Lime is the reason I love Skittles so much, as you don’t find the flavor in many candies anymore.

There were three limes in this shake—or so I thought. As I popped them in my mouth, the familiar citrus flavor didn’t hit my taste buds. Instead, I was hit with the disgusting taste of green apple. I turned over the package, and sure enough, it said, “Now with Green Apple!”

I was irate. In 2001, Skittles tried pulling this green apple trick, but had a massive PR campaign and voting system to see which flavor customers liked better. I spammed every message board I posted on to ask people to vote for lime. Eventually, it won, and the green apple—which only appeared for a short time—disappeared into the candy black hole. Or, so I thought. Turned out it only disappeared into the Skittles archive.

I’m not the only one unhappy with the switcheroo. There are plenty of people voicing their displeasure of Skittles’ Facebook page. There’s only small consolation that a lime flavor made it into Skittles’ new Darkside mix (pomegranate, blood orange, forbidden fruit, dark berry, and midnight lime). Although I like the new mix, new Skittles products seem to have a difficult time surviving—remember 2007’s weird Chocolate Mix or 2010’s Fizzl’d Fruits?

I hope they listen to the fan base because green apple Skittles are awful. As one person in the blogosphere pointed out, the original fruit flavored all mixed well together, but green apple doesn’t mix well with anything. What an assault to my mouth.

When You Think Something’s Going To Tip Over, It Will

Mom loves houseplants. They’re everywhere—including the bathroom. There’s one in there that sort of looks like a mini palm tree, which she rescued from the doctor’s office where she used to work. Apparently, no one in the doctor’s office took care of the plant, so she kidnapped it and said, “Would you want to go to a doctor with dead plants in his office?” So the doctor let her take it home and nurse it back to health, and it’s been in the bathroom ever since.

It’s gotten quite big since then. Big enough that it was starting to flop over. Mom said to herself this morning, “Maybe I should tie it up using a cup hook and string”—sort of how we keep our Christmas tree upright. But she had to go to work and decided she’d take care of it this evening.

Tonight, we invited my cousin Annette over for pasta con le sarde, a Sicilian dish traditionally served on St. Joseph’s Day. (Both St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Day were celebrated early in my house this year, with corned beef and cabbage on Saturday.) As you can see from the recipe, it’s a fairly intensive dish to cook. And just as I was about to add the chopped sardines to the pot, I hear CRASH! and Alex yell, “I didn’t do it!”

So I ran to the crash side, and indeed, it was something Alex couldn’t have accomplished (unless he has some ESP powers I didn’t know about). There was the plant on the floor of the bathroom, and dirt had flown everywhere. You know how it’s impossible to get glitter up off the floor after you spill it? Well, this is what the potting soil did. It was in every crevice of the bathroom, from the top of the toilet to the inside the bathtub, from the radiator vents to the gap under the door threshold.

I looked at the clock: Annette was due in half an hour and I still hadn’t finished the cooking or set the table. On top of it, Mom had cleaned the bathroom that morning. I grabbed every cleaning tool I could find and got right to work, shouting cooking directions at Alex as I scooped up as much of the dirt as I could and put it back in the pot. I couldn’t seem to get the plant upright, so I shoved it behind the shower curtain as a temporary hiding location (kind of like how I used to shove all my toys under the bed. Insta-clean!)

I took out Mom’s super-duper new wind tunnel vacuum and sucked up as much of the leftover dirt as I could, but it was everywhere. It took about 15 minutes to get almost every crevice clean. Finally, all that was left was the rug. Apparently, the vacuum is too powerful for the bathroom rug and wound up sucking it up into the brush. After playing tug-of-war with the vacuum, I decided to fold up the rug and throw it outside. In the process, whatever loose dirt was on the rug came loose and covered the entire bathroom again. Back to square one.

I finally finished, and I heard the doorbell ring. Thanks to the darn plant, my plans of having a nice chat and hors d’oeuvres by the fire before dinner went out the dinner, because it still wasn’t done by the time Annette arrived. I was able to make myself look somewhat unflustered (besides being a little to overzealous with the amount of sardines in the pasta) and the rest of the evening went off without a hitch.

Happy 2013!

2012 was a good year, but 2013 looks like it will be full of many wonderful new beginnings. An Irish blessing to share with all of you:

May love and laughter light your days, and warm your heart and home. May good and faithful friends be yours, wherever you may roam. May peace and plenty bless your world with joy that long endures. May all life’s passing seasons bring the best to you and yours.

Happy New Year!