Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Day on the (Small) Town: Jean's Birthday

We recently celebrated those two preeminent, pre-Christmas retailing events -- Jean's birthday and "Small Business Saturday" -- by hopping the Metro North train at Grand Central to the village of Cold Spring, New York, about 50 miles north of Manhattan on the Hudson River.

We had barely left the train when we passed this mailbox. What a great opening gambit!

Main Street, the main shopping thoroughfare, was already decorated for the holidays. Having everything on one street simplified our approach: we went up the north side of the street and went down the south side, checking out all of the antique stores along the way.

Like many of the establishments, Cold Spring Antiques Center consisted of a number of booths with different vendors' merchandise.

Valerie found these terrific vintage knitted polka dot gloves in the very first shop we entered, right at the bottom of the hill on Main Street.

Says Valerie, who strenuously objected to having this picture taken, DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME! Nature did not intend us to wear open knit white cotton polka dot gloves with plush orange wool (particularly not if the gloves have a petite satin rose glued to them). This photo is only to show the gloves - not to show you what to wear them with.

Here's the town police station. Judging by its size and location, the crime rate appears to be quite low.

As lunchtime approached, we spied this chalkboard menu and both honed in on the scrumptious-sounding apple chestnut bisque.

So we ate at Brasserie Le Bouchon, the French restaurant in this beautiful building. The food was terrific. We both ordered the apple chestnut bisque which came with a deliciously crusty round loaf of french bread, and a glass of bubbly - an absolute must if we were to toast Jean's birthday in style.

Once we'd ordered lunch, it was time to show off our finds. Jean got a great pair of cream colored cotton gloves covered with short gray dashes.

She also found these fabulous black knit gauntlets which, if extended to their full length, stay black, but if folded over (as shown here), have red cuffs. The finishing touch for a red and black outfit! And just to rub it in, we should say that everything we found was very reasonably priced.

Valerie also found white cotton Lily Dache gauntlets for $25 (not shown), and hemmed and hawed over them until finally deciding that the pale streaks of dirt along the folds might not come out with washing. They might come out, but we have to ask ourselves the question: will I ever actually make time to do that? Will they sit untouched in my drawer forever? If the answers are no for the first and yes for the second, leave them for someone who will show them the tenderness they deserve.

Valerie, bubbly, and soup. ("But Grandma, what a big hand you appear to have in this photo!" "The better to drink bubbly with, my dear!"

Antique Alley.

The shiny stainless steel and bakelite Art Deco barware in the window in Antique Alley glistened in the sun.

Next time we visit, we have to try Cathryn's restaurant. You can see why we'd want to do that.

Valerie in front of Nelsonville Antiques at 81 Main Street.

As the sun started to set, it was time to sit down and take it easy after so much window shopping. We had almost an hour before the next train was due, so we stopped into The Foundry Cafe for latte and cappuccino.

Here is their memorable menu board.

What did Valerie give Jean, you ask? Was it this gorgeously sleek black Corvette Stingray, parked tauntingly right outside the cafe? Naaaaah.

What is in the box? You will never guess in a million years.

Hint (BIG hint): It's the soundtrack for "Qui etes-vous Polly Maggoo?" (Who are you Polly Maggoo?). See? Told ya that you'd never guess!

Poor Valerie. Fooled again! Polly Maggoo is one of the most lauded movies of the 1960s - at least from a fashion perspective - but it has stubbornly resisted commercial availability. The Metropolitan Museum of Art showed snippets of it in the '60s room of its huge fashion retrospective several years ago. It captures the zeitgeist so well.

Valerie did a little sleuthing on line, and finally found it. Or so she thought. When it came time to wrap the gift, on closer inspection she came to think she'd gotten the sound track, not the movie itself, and was shocked and crestfallen. And how do you check, without opening the wrapping? So it's back to the drawing board. If anyone knows how we can get hold of the movie - tape or DVD - do please let us know. SIGH.....

As we finished our coffees, we buttonholed a very sweet man with a huge camera and asked him to take a picture of the two of us with a small digital. Beware of large cameras. They lull you into thinking that the owner is a trained professional.

We caught the 5:02 pm train back to Grand Central and then stopped in Cipriani's on the mezzanine in the great hall for a celebratory cocktail.
Even though we'd had a glass of bubbly over lunch, when our train arrived, a night cap (well, evening cap) on a balcony overlooking Grand Central Station seemed like the only appropriate way to end to a birthday celebration.

We're getting good at cobbling together our own drinks from menus. We've decided we like pureed fruit, which adds texture to a drink. Jean asked the waiter if we could have the peach puree from one cocktail mixed with the tequila from another (and no ice!). This sounded so good to Valerie that she very unoriginally asked for the same. They were yummy!!!

One of the best things about Cipriani's space is that it overlooks the main floor (great for people-watching, cocktail in hand) and affords a bird's eye view of the astrological mural on the ceiling restored a few years ago.

And so the used number is traded in for a brand new number, with all the coming adventures that implies.

What we're wearing:
Jean is wearing an Ignatius fleece hat; High Use coat; W118 by Walter Baker slacks and Undergound creepers.

Valerie is wearing an orange felt hat stamped Glenover Henry Pollak Co., orange costume earrings from the flea market, Cashmink scarf, black sweater (mostly unseen) by the late great Charivari (but found at a second hand store), unlabeled jacket, Comme des Garcons pants, Arche ankle boots.  A wasp pin can just barely be seen on her hat.  We're hoping no entomologists read this and point out the inaccuracies.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

LAST CHANCE FOR THE NEXT 88 YEARS... Just a reminder for those of you who like interesting numbers: two weeks from today will be 12/12/12! This is the last of these fun numbers -- you know there won't be a 13/13/13 -- so plan now if you want to do something to commemorate the day.

Need another day to commemorate? Or looking for an excuse to celebrate something? December 5, 1933 is the date the 21st Amendment was ratified, bringing an end to Prohibition. 12/5/12 doesn't quite have the same ring to it as 12/12/12, but if you'd like to raise a glass in honor of the 21st Amendment, do you really care?


  1. Oh my, what a wonderful time you must have had. Such a quaint little town. I would love to go shopping there. You both look amazing as usual.

  2. A belated Happy Birthday to Jean! It looks like you had a perfect day. And the cocktails look and sound delicious.

  3. Happy Birthday Jean! As usual, the two of you have celebrated in style with hats that have my admiration and I'm loving the gloves. Looks like you found the perfect antique stores for a celebratory treasure hunt.

  4. Looks like my birthday sister had an awesome day! I love the red and black gauntlets and how they just happened to go with what you were wearing ;) What a lovely little town - a perfect place to celebrate the beginning of a year of new adventures. You two should write a guide to the best cocktails in NYC.

  5. Who are you, Polly Maggoo? is included in this Criterion boxed set:

  6. Happy Birthday.

    As always, you show presentation, presentation and presentation makes the event memorable!

    So interesting you city girls can do what we country girls do, shop in boutique towns.

    Love the train station. Amazing back drop to end a perfect day.

    My Husband flies into NYC in two weeks for work I don't think the airport and hotels showcase NYC like you two do.

    NYC was not on my bucket list until I found your blog. I was not able to go with him this trip as,I am going to be spending two weeks in St Louis and Nashville. (train station towns). Enjoying the Christmas decorations, local delights and family and friends.

  7. Happy Birthday....but....I SO beg to differ about the white knit gloves with the orange coat & hat! It's my favorite combo of everything here. OK, so maybe it looks better in the pic than it would in 3D, but I would certainly try it at home!

    (no comments about my taste level, please) ;-)