Category Archives: Travel

Go To The Beach!

Why not treat yourself to a day at the beach alone?  Beach days shared with good friends and family are wonderful.  But it’s easy to forget how enjoyable a beach day can be, even when you’re on your own.  Give yourself the chance to connect with your soul and take a rest from the formal activities that fill most of your days.  Go!

“I have the world’s largest collection of seashells.  I keep it on all the beaches of the world…perhaps you’ve seen it.”  Steven Wright

Going solo to the beach is a miraculous experience.  A day well spent on the beach, can be filled with wonder, relaxation and discovery.  It’s like a week of vacation when you’re out there on your own!  Unplug.  Leave your devices at home.


Toes in the sand!

The first step is to go early, before the hot afternoon sun bakes down, creating a fiery, scorching bed of sand against your bare feet.  Drop the sandals, opt for a really great foot scrub of sand and shells and just feel the sand in your toes.  Feet feel happy, when freed up and let loose.  And one of the only places left where bare feet can still happen safely, is on a beach!

Choose your spot!

Choose your sweet spot!

Next, carve out a spot that’s yours.  Claim your space and set yourself up with a beach chair and umbrella, big towels, a floppy hat,  great book, a sandwich, fruit and a large bottle of ice cold water to last the day.  Plan to spend your time slipping the day well into a late afternoon of total rest and relaxation.  Listen closely to the sound of waves crashing on the shore.  Bring along a notebook and pen, to write your thoughts.  No devices here.

Take a swim as frequently as possible.  Enjoy drying off by taking a nice walk along the shore.  Pick up a few shells and colorful rocks to display on a shelf when you get home.  It will help to remind you how delicious a day at the beach alone can be.  Next time you find yourself with a free day in spring, summer or fall, consider gifting yourself with the super indulgence of a beautiful day at the beach!  That’s A Table For One!

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved.



The Mark Hotel

The Mark Hotel, is a real gem, tucked away on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  Great neighborhood and great location, on East 77th St. between Madison Ave. and Fifth Ave. just steps away from Central Park.

“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”  Lao Tzu

Not only do I love traveling, I love to explore my own neighborhood and really take in the surrounding sights as though for the first time!  In this case, The Mark Hotel is a wonderful stop on the way to Central Park.  It’s got a lot to offer both guests and neighbors alike!

The Mark Hotel

The Mark Hotel

Recently renovated, The Mark Hotel has a more than a new face.  It features perhaps the most exclusive hot dog stand in NYC, if not the world!   The Mark “Haute” Dog Stand is by Jean-Georges.

Haute Dog Stand

The Mark Haute Dog Stand by Jean-Georges

It features high-end gourmet organic chicken and grass fed beef hot dogs served with a special kimchi relish as well as other more familiar condiments.  At $6 each, it’s a bit pricey for a hot dog, but well worth it as a unique eat!  Highly recommended.

Kimchi and condiments

The Mark Hot Dog by Jean-Georges with kimchi relish!

And, after a “haute” dog by Jean-Georges, you’re ready for a ride down Fifth Ave. for a shopping trip to Bergdorf Goodman.  The Mark keeps a branded Bergdorf Goodman bike on the ready.

Bergdorf Goodman

The Mark Hotel’s Bergdorf Goodman custom cycle

Very creative partnerships that enhance what is already a wonderful hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  A great way to enjoy a day exploring on your own.

Custom Cycling

The Mark’s Bergdorf Goodman Express!

check it out at  Now that’s a seriously wonderful experience for “A Table For One!”

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All Rights Reserved



Memorial Day

Remembering the fallen and also those who fought and continue to fight in defense of freedom.  I think that Memorial Day is a unique holiday of patriotic celebration.  It’s even more poignant than the Fourth of July which is so exciting and celebratory.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”       Edith Wharton

I like to think of those who put their lives in harm’s way for our freedom as having had a calling and extraordinary vision.  Our present was their future and so I think it’s very important to understand the depth and meaning of their sacrifice.  Sometimes, this calls on some quiet time “alone” to meditate and connect to their heroic acts of bravery.


Memorial Day

This year, I was on my own for Memorial Day weekend.  And so, I went in search of the largest American flag I could find, to photograph it and express gratitude to those who made the supreme sacrifice.  It felt right.

Memorial Day sunset

Memorial Day sunset

And a moody sunset goes a long way to a heartfelt salute of the day’s end.  If you find yourself alone on any holiday, be sure to find a way to celebrate it and honor it in your own way.  It makes for a really memorable moment to treasure!  And that’s “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved



Central Park’s Conservatory Garden

At the top of New York’s “Museum Mile”, between 104th and 105th Street on Fifth Avenue sits Central Park’s gorgeous Conservatory Garden.    Six acres of beauty, divided into 3 smaller gardens, representing Italian, French and English traditional gardens are a sight to behold.

“How deeply seated in the human heart is the liking of gardens and gardening.”                  Alexander Smith

The Vanderbilt family built these gardens and the majestic gates leading into them is well known as “The Vanderbilt Gate”.  Made in Paris in 1894, the gates originally stood before the Vanderbilt mansion at Fifth Avenue and 58th St.  A magnificent, welcoming entrance for all.

The Vanderbilt Gate leading to the magnificent Conservatory Garden in Central Park

The Vanderbilt Gate to The Conservatory Garden, Central Park

This particular gathering place in Central Park is a “Quiet Zone”.  Meant to invite meditation, calm and inspiration, the various gardens evoke a special sort of spiritual energy.  When traveling on my own, I always love to explore the parks and gardens that populate so many cities. They provide a respite from the noise and hustle that make up city life.

Spring arrives NYC

Stunning pink and greens, in Central Park’s Conservatory Garden

Sundays are the most perfect day of the week for these kinds of explorations.  On the classic “day of rest”, I always feel free to wander and pick up on a spontaneous whim and go wherever it leads me.  Like the Sunday Drive, a good long walk on a Sunday is a luxurious indulgence.

Conservatory Garden

City Gardens, islands of beauty and rest in the city

The memory of that day inspired my recent Sunday outing to the Conservatory Garden, here in New York.  A late afternoon stroll was a balm to the soul.  I think that we frequently overlook the things that are right in front of us.  Sometimes, I try to apply my travel habits to my own home turf and set out on a Sunday afternoon as a “tourist”.

It’s the perfect way to revel in a Sunday afternoon adventure.  “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved





The Sunday Drive

Sundays are a great day to indulge in a whim.  Growing up, we frequently went on a “Sunday Drive”.   My father would announce the recurring event as a question:  “who’d like to go for a Sunday Drive?”  Of course we all wanted to!

“Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week”.  Joseph Addison

The Sunday Drive was an exercise in meandering and discovery.  The whole point was to simply get in the car, go out on the road, enjoy the scenery and find yourself wherever the day’s whimsy took you.  There was no plan.  No calculated purpose.  That was the whole point.

My Sunday Driver Auto machine!

My Sunday Driver Chariot!

I love to name things.  It all started with my first car, a Volkswagen square back which I named “Pod” after the Dad in a book called “The Borrowers”.  Now, I’ve got a lovely old 2003 Audi station wagon that I call “My Audee”.  Since my family nickname is Dee, it’s a perfect play on the brand name.  I love my license plate and it’s a real conversation starter wherever I go.  I was never a fan of “vanity plates” until I imagined this one.  It creates a lot of fun interactions!

This way to Island Drive!

This way to Island Drive!

So on a recent Sunday, I took “My Audee” out for a drive.  Inspired by my Dad’s wonderful inspiration to just go for a drive and see where it takes you.  I ended up in Rye, N.Y. where I grew up, on Island Drive, North Manuring Island.  It was a fabulously beautiful day.  Perfect for wandering.

The rewards of a """Sunday Drive"

The rewards of a “Sunday Drive”

Just down the road from the island is another breathtaking setting.  “Jake’s Boatyard”.  On the inlet side of North Manursing Island, Jake’s factors in as the gateway to what was once home.  Just a wonderful setting and perfect for a spontaneous “Sunday Drive”.  So fulfilling, inspirational and charming.

When you wake up alone on a beautiful Sunday morning, take a “Sunday Drive”. You may discover a place, a memory, an inspiration you didn’t even know you were looking for.  Just wander and see where it takes you.  That’s “A Table For One” moment.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved






Easter NYC

With all the years I’ve lived in New York City, I’ve never attended the Saturday evening Easter Vigil mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  For the most part, it’s because I’m usually somewhere else with friends.  But this year, with Easter coming so early, I decided to stay in the city.

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”              Edith Wharton

Then came the inspiration, to walk down to the Cathedral for the Saturday Easter service.  A spectacular celebration of The Resurrection of Christ.  Renewed life.  Joy.  Light.  In churches around the world, Easter begins with this most stunning of services on Saturday evening.

Ceremony of Light, St. Patrick's Cathedral NYC

Ceremony of Light, St. Patrick’s Cathedral NYC

Since New York is a magnet for tourists, our midtown iconic destinations, like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, just across from Rockefeller Center, is constantly buzzing with people, cameras, flash bulbs and excitement.  But it’s also a parish church and NY’s local citizens frequently attend mass there, as well.

My maternal grandmother attended daily mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  She was a true matriarch and lived an exciting city life at The Biltmore Hotel on East 43td St.   We frequently went with her, to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for mass, so although it’s a real tourist attraction, for me it’s also home.

The celebration of light begins in darkness...

The celebration of light begins in darkness…

The mass begins with the cathedral cloaked in total darkness.  Then, a blazing fire is ignited at the back of the church.  The Cardinal begins the ceremony with readings.  All of the people hold candles which are subsequently lit from the same fire.  It’s breathtaking, as the church slowly illuminates by candle light and then finally the full-on brightness of every chandelier.  It’s so moving and takes your breath away.  I find that the pomp and circumstance of rituals like these are so stirring and special.  They’re perfect too, if you’re alone on a holiday.

Blessings from the Cardinal

Easter blessings from the Cardinal

Plan your holidays, but if you find yourself alone on one, I recommend looking at your surroundings as a tourist would.  Get out and explore.  Do something you’ve never thought of before.  Thinking like a tourist wherever you are will give you wonderful experiences to treasure.  And that’s “A Table For One”.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved





Winter Storm Jason

Winter storm Jason will be traveling up the Northeast Coast of the U.S., wrecking havoc in his path this weekend. It’s the first snowstorm of the year and is promising to be a giant one!

“Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while.”  Kin Hubbard

This storm is big enough to warrant a name, and so I decided to spend some of my time inside, looking into why we name storms.  I guess I’ve pondered this before, but never had the time or inclination to actually research it…another great opportunity when you’re spending some time alone, you can delve into a subject you’ve been curious about.

Storm watch

Next stop East River!

Generally speaking, this is what most people think, when gearing up against a storm the size of Jason.  Panic prevails and the stores become overwhelmed by dazed customers rushing in to buy things they never thought they needed…cannned goods along with the staples including more milk and water, bread and eggs than they could possibly consume in the 24-48 hour duration of these “weather events”.

Bread, eggs and milk!

Run on Groceries as Jason’s arrival is anticipated

Not to make light of legitimate concerns over safety in any storm!  Having lived on the U.S. Northeast coastline for most of my life, you learn to respect mother nature, take nothing for granted and always hedging against the worst…especially in a storm that merits a name!

Stock up for Jason

Stockpiling for the Storm

So back to my findings on this particular “naming” topic.  The naming of hurricane storms started in 1950.  Before then, these were tracked by years and the order in which they occurred.  But apparently, that frequently caused confusion when 2 or more storms were brewing near each others longitudinal and latitudinal positions ‘s at the same time.  It was thought that there would be more clarity in communications, therefore, if these huge storms were instead given names.

It wasn’t until 3 years later, in 1953 that women’s names were used, in addition to men’s.  Atlantic based hurricanes rotate names every 7th year, unless a particular storm was so devastating that the name is subsequently retired.  There are 78 names that have been retired since 1954.  2005 holds the record for retired names within one year, having 5 taken off the roster, including  Dennis, Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma.

Winter storm at home

Jason arriving NYC chez moi Upper East Side

But winter storms only began bearing names in 2012, when The Weather Channel thought that, like hurricanes, giving these huge storms names would help communicate better to the public when an outsized storm or blizzard was coming. It began with a November Nor’easter that The Weather Channel named “Winter Storm Athena”.

And so, as the weekend kicks off, we run to the market, shore up our pantries and hunker down for the arrival of Jason.  He promises to make quite a mark on the Northeast corridor!

Be safe everyone!  And if you’re on your own, be sure to enjoy “A Table For One” this weekend.

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

New Year Lights

This year, I stayed in New York for New Year’s Eve.  I’ve visited lots of different places on New Years, hosted wonderful dinner parties on Nantucket and rung in most “new” with great friends.

“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come, whispering, It will be happier.”                     Alfred Lord Tennyson

I love the start of a new year.  And celebrating at home means cooking the best recipes of the year, serving the best champagne I can find and watching the famous ball drop in Times Square.    I never tire of the midnight toasts and warm embraces of loved ones and friends.

But, like most holidays, I love to extend the celebration and make it last as long as possible.  In New York City, that’s easy.  In the days following New Year’s, a walk through the city at night presents a perfect opportunity to continue the holiday, by observing the beautiful street lights.

New York Street Lights

Holiday Street Lights in New York

Taking an evening stroll through the city, brightens the early-dark-nights of the New Year.   I always make a point of exploring the side streets and avenues without a specific plan.  I love all kinds of walks, but the purpose of this one is simply to wander and observe.

Park Avenue Lights

Park Avenue’s Holiday Light Displays

It can be very rejuvenating to begin the new year by observing all of the beauty around you, no matter where you are.  Extend the bright hopes of a new year beyond the traditional New Year’s eve midnight celebrations!

New York City Lights

Colorful City Lights NYC

Open your heart and mind to the hope that the year ahead will be filled with joy and the anticipation of all things possible.  And be sure to use any time on your own to explore, wander and enjoy every moment with all of your senses recharged!  That’s what starts a New Year right at “A Table For One.”

Copyright 2016 Marion M. O’Grady

All rights reserved




Collecting Christmas

Years ago, along with the commitment to buying a bit of a bigger tree each year, I also began to collect ornaments from my travels.  It’s a great way to capture the essence of a special place you’ve been, or a special year you’ve had, or even just a keepsake as a treasured memory of home.  Christmas is a holiday you can celebrate all year, by collecting these mementos.

“One Christmas my father kept our tree up till March.  He hated to see it go.  I loved that.”                Mo Rocca

Christmas Ornaments

Creating a Collection of Ornaments

Christmas is so much a celebration of joy.  It brings with it nostalgia, anticipation of wonderful things to come and the warmth that comes with memories of good times with friends and family.  So, the first Christmas that I woke up alone in my little studio apartment in New York was a bit disorienting.  I had never imagined that I would have a Christmas morning alone.  It was both startling, disconcerting and also fun in a very different way.  I felt accomplished, having set up a tree, to ensure my Christmas day would start out festive and joyful.

Nantucket Ornament

Collect your ornaments all year long, including the wonderful places you visit!

I think that’s why having a Christmas tree every year, no matter what, became such an important thing to me.  It’s a wonderful and constant companion to the holiday, no matter if you’re with friends, family or on your own.  You will find yourself with plenty of time and parties to celebrate the holiday with lots of people.

But waking up to a tree dressed in the beautiful reminders of all the great places you’ve been to, or things that you’ve done, people you’ve known…that’s a really special thing that I think everyone should aim for at Christmas.  You get to savor the experience every day that the tree is up, not just on Christmas morning itself.  And it becomes so personal.



I have ornaments from London, Paris, Nantucket, New Mexico, Arizona, Provence, Italy, and more.  I have a small collection of glass bulbs from my mother’s trees.  I have ornaments that friends and colleagues gifted over the years.  I have a small collection of wooden ornaments, shells, a small creche.  I have a beautiful collection of the 12 days of Christmas.  And some that I made as a child in school.  Each one has meaning.

I always try to leave some ornaments out for anyone who comes to my home over the holidays to hang.  It gives me great pleasure to share my tree.  I call it “honoring the tree”.  And each morning leading up to Christmas, I turn on the tree lights, and sip my cup of coffee or tea while looking at it and recalling the meaning behind each treasured decoration.


Buckingham Palace London!

Playing special Christmas music.  Waking up to the refreshing aroma of pine, looking at this beautiful and unique creation.  All of it makes me feel so happy.  It’s a gift you can give yourself, every year, a very important one I think, especially if you’re on your own.

That’s “A Table For One” exquisite celebration!  Merry Christmas to all!

Copyright 2015 Marion M. O’Grady




Christmas and Trees

One of the most wonderful things about December is the number of Christmas trees that spring up everywhere.  I love Christmas and I love the proliferation of trees!

“I know that a Christmas tree farm in Pennsylvania is about the most random place for a country singer to come from, but I had an awesome childhood.”  Taylor Swift

I can totally identify with Taylor Swift’s description of an awesome childhood, having grown up on a Christmas tree farm.  It sounds like a dream come true!

Lots of decorations

Trees line the streets!

Christmas tree shopping was a ritual in my home growing up.  My Dad would pile us all into the trusty woodie wagon and we’d all head out to pick one out as a family, which was never easy!  The catch, however, was that my father loved to buy “live” trees that could be planted after Christmas.  This made it extra special, because you could see each Christmas tree permanently growing on our property.  It was a unique and truly memorable way to celebrate.

The tree is always the highlight at Christmas!

The tree is always the highlight at Christmas!

That may be why I became enthralled with Christmas trees from childhood, onward.  When I moved into New York to my first apartment, a small studio walk-up, I made a pledge to buy a Christmas tree every year, despite the tiny size of my apartment.   Living on a shoestring meant that I had to start with a very small tree.   I promised myself to buy a bigger one each year, until I could afford a big one, in the 6 foot + range.  And that’s exactly what I did!

Tree in my building in NYC!

Tree in my building in NYC!

Now, I live in a building in NYC that celebrates Christmas with a giant tree that delights all of us.  I still buy my own tree, but the ones they display surpass any height of an indoor tree that I’ve seen.  It’s just delightful to come home to it every evening during December.  We also have evenings with music and champagne!  It always inspires me to go out and take notice of all the trees in the city and wherever I go, during December.

It’s a great way to celebrate Christmas coming with “A Table For One!”

Copyright 2015 Marion M. O’Grady