Last Stop, Broad Channel

You know the final scene in Titanic when Leonardo DiCaprio is in the arctic waters freezing to his death trying to console his beloved (also frozen) Rose (Kate Winslet)? Every day that clip flashes through my mind as my stomach fills with dread… then we arrive.

LAST STOP BRAWD CHANNEL, Transfah to the A!!!!

Broad Channel Station

It’s essential that we Rockaway commuters have our winter gear situation down pat.  There’s the hoodie/hat combo, the double coat plus cap technique, the earmuff collar up style, the poofy coat /headphone combo etc. etc. I’m partial to the hat/scarf head wrap. My nose is like the peninsula, exposed to the elements, protruding on all three sides. It’s imperative it’s protected, the hat/scarf head wrap method does the trick.

Broad Channel - Queens

This is the famous “hipster” hat. It was my grandmothers actually and it’s damn warm. I like wearing it with the scarf my sister made me. The scarf design was inspired by the  Doctor Who scarf.


The beanie hat – tight and full coverage.


 “Matchy Matchy” – Always a good look and it’s wool.

There’s a bond I’ve been feeling lately, a real New Yorker camaraderie… we’re all in this together. Some of us are pacing, some are looking down the track, others have hot coffee in hand, we are all bundled from head to toe…  then finally there’s a collective sigh – the train finally clunks in.

Waiting for the A train at Broad Channel is the price we pay for living in the best neighborhood in NYC. It’s worth the wait.


tagged in broad channel, winter

Do you respect wood?

Ok, so we’re obsessed with wood. It’s natural, beautiful and resistant to damage. Seven months ago we started hoarding unwanted material from a barn in Massachusetts, dumpsters in Far Rockaway and a gutted house in Ridgewood. It’s astonishing the stuff people throw out. We’ve put our collection to use, repairing floor boards, making paneling and adding features throughout the house. Our style inspiration is American Craftsman with a touch of “farmhouse”.

We’ve seen exposed beams many times on our trips to Lake George and I’m always charmed by the Adirondack aesthetic. We salvaged the oak beams from an old barn in Massachusetts.

Installing the beams was difficult. We consulted Nick, our architect who pointed us in the right direction.


Nick suggested letting the beams hang a half inch or so lower than the sheetrock to avoid the ceiling from potentially cracking as the house settles over time. It would be easier to install this way too. We determined threaded rods would be best to secure the beams to the ceiling joists. Will installed the rods every foot – keeping the positioning level. It was a tremendous challenge since everything in our house is kattywompus! It was a trial and error process. I’m thrilled with the outcome.


We’re not sure how to finish the beams. I like the rustic look and it would be less work to keep them as is. However, a sleeker finish would blend with our kitchen counter tops – which will be made from the same oak. I keep flip-flopping on what to do. If you have an opinion on this, leave it in the comments section. What do you think?

Wood Wall - Plan
This is the first of our two wood wall projects – the plan is pictured above. The thought here is utilitarian – we feared if we used sheetrock it would get dinged-up from moving furniture through this high-traffic narrow staircase. Wood paneling is forgiving.

We made some layout modifications to your house and with the surplus wood (100 year old fir) we created this paneling. John milled the wood into 4 inch strips at 3/8 inch thickness on the table saw. A labor intensive process but cheaper than purchasing new wood. I’m happy we were able to reuse wood from the original building dated around 1890.

first floor staircase

Will went to work staggering the wood up the wall. Of course nothing is level in our house so even getting the wood to appear straight on the wall was difficult. We’ll put a clear polyurethane on since the wood is so beautiful as is.


This wall is in the duplex apartment. We used flooring Matt found on a dumpster dive in Ridgewood along with new spare floor boards from his Mother’s house to create a chevron pattern

The original plan was to sand it, making the color uniform but everyone liked the way it looks multi-colored. The more I look at it, the more it looks incredibly beautiful to me. If you think the first wood wall was hard to install this one took even more precision. John started the work off and Will took it home – Thanks guys!

Do you RESPECT wood?

Mushroom and Leek Risotto

I called a co-worker at home over the Christmas break and as we were speaking he said, “I’m making a risotto right now, and as you know, you have to stir, stir, stir!”. I didn’t know but he assumed since I cook a lot, risotto was in my repertoire, but it wasn’t. A few days later, I asked my brothers girlfriend for some recipes, and she sent me a risotto recipe, which seemed like the universe was telling me to make a risotto. Below is the recipe she sent me, slightly modified and with some notes of my own. The below should take about an hour and serves 6.

mushroom and leek risotto 2

1 cup leek, diced
1 portobello cap diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
5 cups fresh vegetable stock or 5 cups fresh chicken stock ( you can substitute 1 cup of the stock with dry white wine)
1 lemon, juice and zest of
2/3 cup parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped (I didn’t use the parsley)

mushroom and leek risotto


Heat the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the leeks and mushrooms, cooking over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons of the butter to the pan and saute the onion over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes.

Stir in the arborio rice and cook for 1 minute. Add one cupful of fresh stock to the pan and cook gently, stirring frequently; until all liquid is absorbed. If you’re using 1 cup of wine to substitute for the stock, add the wine first.

Continue stirring in one cupful of stock at a time, until each cupful is absorbed. This should take about 25 minutes. ( it’s important to not add in more stock until the liquid you added in is absorbed)

Just before serving, stir in the leeks and mushrooms, lemon juice and zest, half of the cheese, and the fresh herbs.

Be careful not to add in salt at any step and add it in at the end if need be. My risotto came out salted fine but I didn’t add any in, I suspect between the butter and the stock, that had enough salt. Add in low sodium stock and unsalted butter to control the salt content.

tagged in recipes

Fiver escapes, fights with fluffy

Fiver looking out the window

I’m not sure how he got out. We were loading in some gear from the van, and had the cellar door open, but the sliding door to the storage area was closed off. I think.

Fivey could have escaped from the second or third floor, but he would have had to climb down from the roof.  I’ve been letting him explore upstairs. He knows there’s another world up there, and lately he’s been meowing at the top of the basement stairs to go up. I thought the chance of him escaping out of a gap in the exterior was very small.

However he got out, it happened.

After we finished moving everything inside, I noticed Fivey wasn’t around. I didn’t think anything of it at first but after 20 minutes with no sign of him, I decided to look. I looked in every crevice of the house – the rafters on the second floor, behind the wood on the third, in the bath tub, behind the tools… everywhere. NO FIVEY. I called for Matt. He started looking outside. I went to the front of the house to see if I saw him on the roof. NO SIGN OF FIVER.

My heart started to race, my stomach felt sick, I started to panic. I was searching next door for about 15 minutes when I heard a strong meow. I followed the cry and saw Fivey sitting under the beach plum tree, two feet from Fluffy, a feral our neighbor takes care of. Fluffy looks unassuming, with his long gray puffy hair, masking his muscular physique. He looks round and soft, but he’s a tough cat.


Both cats looked alert, but all and all it seemed like nothing happened. As soon as I spotted Fiver, he bolted and disappeared like a wild tiger on a hunt. I looked high and low. At this point I was crying, walking up and down the block, into neighbors’ backyards screaming his name like a raving lunatic. I was in panic mode.

My neighbor Noreen (who cares for a TNR cat colony on our block) saw me and I burst out “My cat is lost, my cat is lost!!!” with tears streaming down my face. Other neighbors also noticed my hysteria and came over to see what the commotion was about. Sam from around the corner said he would check on Beach 92nd, just in case Fiver got under the fences. Noreen helped me look in her yard. There was a false alarm. A man from the condo across the street was aware of Fiver via Sam and thought he spotted a cat fitting Fivey’s appearance …  but the description was off. The cat he saw was mostly black, with a black nose.

An hour past and I was overcome with emotion. Our good friend and neighbor Eric saw me crying in his backyard holding a bag of cat food – he came over to console me. He said his Mom’s cat escaped and came back when she was hungry. “Don’t worry, he’s just having some fun, he loves you. He’ll come back when he’s done with his adventure. He’s probably having the time of his life.” I prayed that Eric was right.

I did another loop around the block and then Matt called. He spotted Fivey in Eric’s backyard, under the shed!!! I ran back  but we lost sight of him. There was nothing else to do but wait. I was sitting on a pile of cinder blocks just waiting, and crying, with all sorts of worst case scenarios running through my head. My biggest fear was that he might not come back by night fall. Would he be able to find his way? What about possums? Say if Fivey got hurt?

More time pasted, then out of the corner of my neighbor’s yard, by his shed, Fiver’s white head appeared. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to scare him away. I just called his name, and slowly got up. He was coming towards me but looked a bit spooked. I continued to walk towards him, and like lighting he bolted again! He stopped abruptly by the apple tree. I walked toward him and he ran towards the our cellar, but the door was closed! I followed him, grabbed him with all my strength and took him inside.

When he finally settled down I noticed his nose was bleeding, It was scratched up. Fiver had a fight with Fluffy!! Fivey and Fluffy have a history. Fluffy comes in our yard and stares at Fivey through the window. Although he was hurt, he seemed pretty unaffected by it. He decided it was time for a nap and laid down on the bed.


Fiver resting after his outdoor adventure. Note the scratches on his nose.

I had another melt down a little while after. “Why are you crying?” Matt asked. “Everything worked out.”  I said “Say if he’s unhappy and he wants to be free to explore the outside world?? Am I keeping him captive?”

Then I cried some more.

tagged in cats, fiver, rockaway