Too Hot To Trot

Here in New England we get to enjoy Spring temps for a day and then BOOM; its 80 degrees and hot as heck outside. 

Let’s try to cool off shall we? 

On my lunch breaks at work, I retreat to the private park in the back. A peaceful oasis with slightly rolling hills, a cooling dam & a resident, elusive blue crane. ​

​The geese hangout at the top of the dam. How do they keep from tipping over? It doesn’t even look like a struggle. 

One day I brought my Stubby out with me. A cool refresher and pick-me-up at the same time. 

Reading a (food) magazine clears my head and cools my brain while the brook babbles on. 

The rolling hillside nearby is awfully inviting, but I’m afraid if I laid a towel down to sun myself; I’d either fall-asleep or be riddled with ticks or mosquito bites. 

I could’ve sworn the Teletubbies were going to scamper over the hillside and ask me to play; but no…….. Ok, I’ll go back to work. 

My oldest is back from her Freshman Yr in college and started her summer job. Scooping ice cream at the awesome Three Sisters Cafe. Zoë and ai decided to cool off there on Monday. We checked out the specials before deciding on…..


Dill Pickle!! No! Just kidding….gross! Don’t get me wrong, I love dill pickles but as ice cream? Hmm. Could be a big hit with pregnant women! We opted for a scoop of Wicked Witch: cool and mean and green. 


After licking our cones, and watching the dogs and people go by; we were sufficiently cooled off enough to head home. 

Of course a sultry Spring day could not start out on the right foot if I didn’t brew up some coffee to ice. For Mother’s Day, my fabulous daughter brought me some amazing coffee from Philly. 

This coffee is bright, smooth…divine really. It’s terrific hot and black. 

However, 80 degree weather demands ice in my coffee. Last season I was all about cold brewing the coffee in my French press. This year, after a bit of research reading and taste testing, I’ve determined that brewing strong and then pouring straight over ice is the way to go. 

Of course it tastes better when it’s in my vintage pitcher. 

Just a few suggestions to get you cooled off. 

Hope you all have a great Holiday weekend! 

Girls Night Out

Looking for something to do tonight? Ready to grab your gal pals and shake off the work week? 

Start off at Art Prov Gallery, for their Girls Night Out event from 5-9pm. 

A fun art & fashion shopping experience featuring original artwork, clothing and accessories. 

My Mom and I recently visited the gallery for their opening reception entitled: Fashion Statements on exhibit thru May 27th.



The artists were inspired by fashion: current, worldly, evocative, modern, classic, futuristic and more. I loved the exhibit and felt so inspired. 


I love the piece above by Kyle; I want to stroll in my backyard in a pretty dress like that, or at least take the painting home where it can adorn my bedroom wall. 

These ladies are a fetching pair.


How about this twirly, light, frilly pretty number? 

Rather than painting, Susan Freida uses fine gold wire mesh to create ethereal dresses you want to stare at for hours. 

My friend Holly takes us to Africa where we admire the deep, colorful, rich textures of fabrics, popping life on the canvas. 

It’s a terrific show and this was just a mere slice. 

Head on over tonight to 150 Chestnut St, 3rd floor, in Providence, RI. 

Have some champagne, mix, mingle and buy a piece of wonderful local art. 

Sunday Stromboli

As the Sunday school year comes to an end at First Unitarian Church of Providence, we have been taking some time to thank the Teachers. This morning we hosted a breakfast to thank them, talk about the school year and discuss plans for the future. As the RE Director’s Assistant, It was an obvious choice to have me help with the breakfast. 

And by help, that of course means, cook or bake something! I prefer savory items for breakfast so I was going to make a quiche. However, one of the parents’ volunteered to make one so I had to think of something else. I was out and about Saturday morning and while driving, an idea/recipe popped into my head. A breakfast Stromboli! 

I woke up early this morning and got busy. 

I took the pizza dough out & rolled out on a floured surface.  

I then placed the dough into a sheet pan I sprayed first with canola oil. I then squeezed some Dijon mustard onto the prepared dough. 

After spreading the mustard all around, I carefully placed about 1/2lb of sliced honey ham all over. 

I then sprinkled on some sliced cherry tomatoes, slivered red onions and chopped baby spinach. 


On top of the spinach I layered 1/4lb sliced Swiss cheese. 

I then carefully rolled the dough from one side to the other. Folding the edges at each end to avoid cheese oozing out. 

At this point I recommend you brush the top with an egg wash. I did not so my Stromboli, while cooked through, looked light on the outside rather than golden brown. I baked in a preheated 375degree oven for about 30min. Keep your eye on it. The bottom should be a nice golden color and the crust should not be “doughy”

Boy did this smell good!! I wrapped in tin foil and went off to church. Once it cooled off I placed it on a cutting board, sliced and arranged on a nice serving platter. 

The slices looked beautiful and were very scrumptious. If I was home, I’d probably stick my slices back in the oven just to “toast” them up a bit. No need for a doughy Stromboli in the middle. 

Pretty sure it was a hit with the teachers as there were only 2 slices left! Looks like I’ll add this made up Breakfast Stromboli to my Jen’s Dish repertoire.

I hope  your Sunday was savory, sweet and serene. 

Mixtup Love

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about love. How we fall into it, how we express it, how we fall out of it.

What if there is someone special in your life and you want to tell that person how you feel? You could say it with flowers. 593

You could say it with food: 001

You could say it in a card. But for me, I’d rather say it with music. Music hits the soul.

LOVE, LUST and even just a little bit of LIKE take us through a wide range of emotions. Those feelings are captured perfectly in a song.

It’s funny, I was thinking about this and then not long after I saw an interview Charlie Rose did with the utterly brilliant Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lin-Manuel was talking about his love of the Mixtape. As a side note, the fantastic Broadway hit, “Hamilton” started off as some what of a mixtape which has taken on a life of it’s own. Lin-Manuel told Charlie that he used to make and give all of the girls he liked Mixtapes. He carefully considered each and every song. As he reminded me, the genius of mixtapes is that you HAVE to play the songs in order. There is no skipping around, no “shuffling”. There is an arc to the songs. It starts out fun, free, hopeful, even. Then the 4th song. Well, the 4th song is KEY. It is the clincher. It says EVERYTHING. There should be an arc to the arrangement he said. A beginning, middle and end. I was so inspired I made one of my own. Ok, not on an actual tape, because they barely exist anymore!!!! I did however find a picture. 330px-Audio_cassette_tapes

I made a virtual mixtape. It was fun, emotional and challenging. Amazing,  it was not hard to find just the right songs to capture the wide range of emotions you have when someone pops into your life. I hope  you enjoy and feel inspired to make your own and share with that special someone. As for me, maybe that “someone” will read and listen…….

Remember, play in order…..

Big Bad Handsome Man: Imelda May

“Fire Bug” JD McPherson

My Heart’s Like a Kick Drum: The Avett Brothers

Misty: Ella Fitzgerald

The Very Thought of You: Sara Vaughn

Wrong to Love You: Chris Isaak

You Go Down Smooth: Lake Street Dive

Sail Away: David Gray

Just What I Needed: The Cars

Don’t Make Me Dream About You: Chris Isaak

Another Story: The Head and The Heart

Little Lion Man: Mumford and Sons

I’m Sorry: Hothouse Flowers

No One Is To Blame: Howard Jones

So there you have it. You can say it with candy IMG_1915

But I think the sentiment gets straight to the heart with a SONG………

Go make your own mixtape and send me the list. I wanna listen……

 

Out and About with Zoë: TGIF

We made it through another work and school week. Zoë and I were feeling pretty beat and tired. Friday nights are pizza nights in our house. We usually make our own and many times have friends over to enjoy our hand-thrown “pies”. Tonight, however, we felt like grabbing a slice ( or two) and then heading home to catch up on our favorite show: “The Amazing Race”. 

Where to go in Providence for the perfect slice? No question: Nice Slice Pizzeria located in the heart of Thayer St. 

  
It’s a tiny spot with cool graphics on the walls.  

You can order full pies to go, but I find it more fun to look at the different pies and order a few different slices. Depending on what strikes my fancy.

  
This night we went for the Steak and Bacon pizza with BBQ Sauce and a couple slices of cheese. 

They have a wide variety of sodas and iced teas to choose from. They even have an old-school favorite: RC Cola!!  

 
We snagged a window seat which allowed us the perfect viewpoint to people watch. Thayer St. is located in the heart of Brown University’s campus and close to RISD, so the street is constantly humming with students and such. 

While listening to Zoë fill me in on the latest 5th grade gossip, I realized I had never fully noticed Avon Cinema’s rooftop. It’s such a cool building.  

 
We realized we were so hungry we did not take any pictures of our pizza! It’s a crispy/chewy thin crust with just enough sauce and super flavorful toppings. It hits the spot.  

 
  
We’ll be back again soon!  

 

Easter Special

It was a quiet holiday weekend this year with my oldest in Philly finishing up her Freshman year. Zoë and I zipped up to NH to enjoy some ham with my Dad & Step-Mom. 

We arrived Saturday afternoon and within  20min I left Zoë with her Grandparents and headed to downtown Nashua for a nice catch up with an old friend. 

Over a Guinness at Peddler’s Pub.

 
And some “Irish Nachos”.  

 Not sure how Irish they were, but the chips were crunchy and homemade and topped with bacon. My friend and I did not appreciate the bleach smell permeating the perimeter of the bar. However, the conversation flowed as did the beer so we tried not to think about it. 

Back at the homestead, we enjoyed a yummy dinner of ravioli and salad. Then a fierce card game of “Kings in the Corner”. I’m not a huge card player, but this game is pretty easy to learn and competitive. 

Easter morning we were treated to my Step-Mom’s fabulous scrambled eggs. I don’t know how she does it or what her trick is, but her eggs come out fluffy and perfect every time. I can never duplicate the texture. I had mine with asparagus.  

 

Dinner was going to be served at 1pm. A quiet affair, just us 4. Before prep, my Step-Mom went off to church, Dad started the bourbon glaze for the ham. I sipped some coffee and watched the bluebird while Zoë hunted for eggs.  

 
   
   
Watermelon Peep before noon? Sure! 

Soon it was time for us all to gather in the kitchen to prep the Easter meal. My Dad baked a good sized (10lbs!) ham. He actually had a hard time finding a basic smoked ham. Most were ready to go heat and eat spiral hams. Expensive too! 

  
I made my requested Asparagus Gruyerè Tart: this recipe comes from my collection of “everyday FOOD”. That really cool little magazine Martha Stewart used to publish. Each issue had terrific, fresh, vibrant, easy recipes. It’s a shame it folded…

Here’s the recipe: 

Flour, for work surface

1sheet frozen puff pastry

5oz shredded Gruyerè cheese

1 1/2lbs medium or thick asparagus 

1Tbspn olive oil

Salt and Pepper

1.) Preheat oven to 400. On a floured surface, roll the pastry into a 16by10 inch rectangle. Place pastry on baking sheet. W/a sharp knife, lightly score the dough 1″ in from edges to mark a rectangle. Using a fork, pierce the dough inside the markings at half inch intervals. Bake until golden, about 15min.

2.) Remove the pastry shell from the oven, and sprinkle w/cheese. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell, arrange in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips. Brush with oil, and season w/salt and pepper. Bake until spears are tender, 20-25min.  

 
Truth be told my puff pastry had seen better days. I think it had been in my freezer a little too long. While it wasn’t perfect looking, it sure was scrumptious. 

I loved that we had our own responsibilities in the kitchen. Zoë took pics and made a video. With my tart baking, I made some gravy with the ham pan drippings. Drippings make the best gravy!!  

 
  
A simple menu but oh so scrumptious.  

   
The sweet potatoes were Rhode Island grown. I roasted with onion and shallot. Then added a nice drizzle of Vermont Maple Syrup.  

   
   
 
   
 
It wasn’t really warm and sunny but that didn’t keep us from a Sunday Easter stroll! Once our bellies had rested, we drove to my Cousin’s house. It’s a holiday tradition. Our large extended family gathers together for dessert and lots of hugs.  

 
Debbie makes her Trifle. Claire makes the Boston Creme Cake.  

 
And Katie made Congo Bars.  

 
Goodness! It was a small but scrumptious spread this Easter. Zoë packed up some goodies to go and we hit the road. Feeling so thankful for a wonderful family weekend, we drove back to Rhode Island and tucked ourselves into bed. 

Morning Reflection

Despite the snowfall earlier today; Spring is here. A time of renewal, rebirth and growth. This past Thursday I received news that I am still Cancer-free! Time to jump up and down….if only my hip didn’t hurt. I jumped up and down in my head believe me.

As I breathed a sigh of relief, I went on about my business, still feeling stuck on something. Dad was down to go to my Doc appt. with me and after pizza we had a good catch-up over a bit of whiskey.  

 
Nice, but did not quite clear the mind. I picked up our pizza and while waiting for it, the sky changed into a most amazing color and a rainbow appeared.  

 
A sign of hope? Or Perhaps my pot of gold is waiting for me to claim it. 

I certainly felt lighter, and less stuck. 

Zoë had a full social calendar this weekend, which kept me busy. I spent much of Saturday grocery shopping, cooking and baking which really calms me. I found my self less caught up in achieving closure and more caught up in how fabulous my chicken marinade was tasting. 

I noticed the spectacular blue Spring sky on Sunday.  

 The puffy soft pussy willows reminded me of Easter Sunday walks to the pond near my Grandmother’s house.  

 Coffee with a friend helped as well as noticing the bright yellow (soon to be covered in snow ) daffodils in my backyard.  

  

After dropping Zoë off to her Dad’s, I had a long overdue catch-up with my friend Lisa. We live close but had been seeing each other more on social media than real life. So glad we changed that. 

The evening came to an appropriate close with a reading of this spot on relevant article my Coffee friend sent. Entitled, “Embracing the Vernol Equinox.”

I especially loved this part: “It’s important to not see failure in these ventures but to see the courage that it takes to admit when something doesn’t work out as we hoped it would.”

“Sometimes the only choice we have is to simply let go and see what happens when we let it.”

This morning I made a yummy breakfast of scrambled eggs  

 
With veggies and ham.  

 While scrambling I was feeling thankful the snow was light and I did not need to shovel. 

Upon reflection, while sipping my coffee,  

 
I realized I felt lighter, happier. The wise words from friends, the small everyday observances all add up to a good day, a good life, where we may not always have the answers or closure we seek. But it is not always the end all be all. We have the power to clear our minds and find calm and happiness. 

I sat at my desk today and heard one of my all time faves. Let’s call it our song of the day: “You Can’t Get What You Want Till You Know…” By Joe Jackson: Sometimes you start feeling so lost and lonely. Then you’ll find it’s all been in your mind. 

 

Pork and Pain

It’s getting to be that time again. No, not the time when daffodils bloom, crocuses peek out from the ground and birds start chirping again. Not quite. It’s scan and checkup time! 

First up today, a trip to the Orthopedist. If you’ve been following this blog for a bit you know I’ve been having hip issues since July. Hip pain brought me in to see my primary who found the mass. When my Nurse Practitioner told me I had hip displaysia it ended up being overshadowed by the discovery of the mass. 

Since surgery, my post-op pain has dissapated and the hip pain has reared its ugly head. A recent MRI showed a tear in my right labrum. Now a trip to another Doc to deal with it. 

Today was the day. I had some spare time this morning and a pork butt waiting in the fridge. When I’m stressed or upset; cooking calms me. The thoughts flow in and out easily when I’m chopping onions and mincing garlic. I was nervous about this appointment so got to work in the kitchen. 

  
I coated a 3lb butt with salt and pepper and seared in a hot pan on all sides. After pulling the pork out, I sautéed sliced onion till translucent and then added a couple cloves of garlic that have been minced. To the pan I added 1/2 Tsp of Chili Powder and 1/4 Tsp of Cinnamon. Let the spices “toast” for a bit then add 1 cup of water. Scrape the bits on the bottom of the pan, add the pork and bring to a boil.  

 
Add all to the crockpot and cook on low for 8 hours.  

 
The aromas coming from my kitchen were wonderful. I thought, “Oh man, this is going to taste amazing!” I cleaned up in the kitchen, finished getting ready, took one last sip of coffee and headed out the door. 

I got to the Orthopedic practice and was told my Doc needed more pics of my hip. After a deep sigh and probably a groan, I followed the tech down the hall. She had me put on these snazzy blue shorts. I think they look great with my flats; don’t you?  

 
After manipulating my hip in uncomfortable directions, the tech brought me to the exam room. My Doc and a 4th yr Med student greeted me, asked me a range of appropriate diagnostic questions. He also manipulated my hip in uncomfortable positions and proceeded to tell me my main issue was not the tear but my Hip Displaysia, something I’ve probably had since birth or early childhood. I’ll have to admit the fact that my Doc looked like a hot So Cal surfer dude, softened the wincing pain in my hip a bit! 

In all seriousness, we looked at my scans, he carefully explained what I was looking at, laid out my options while I took notes. We decided a few months of physical therapy would be the best place to start. 

After making appointments I walked slowly back to my car, settled in, turned on the tunes and drove off to work.

It was a typically hectic Monday, but hey, I had Carnitas waiting for me at home! While driving home tonight I planned out my meal. I’d sauté strips of red and yellow pepper, shred some pork, scoop up some juices and place on top of a bed of crispy lettuce. I practically ran up the stairs when returned home. Anticipating that awesome aroma in my kitchen. I put the key in the door, turned the handle and walked in. “Gee, that’s odd. My kitchen does NOT smell scrumptious! What is going on?” I walked into my cooking nook, looked on the counter and realized…..I had never plugged in my slow cooker! Damn, now THAT is painful. #reallyslowcooking

Sunny Saturday

I’m finally starting to realize that the changes that occur in one’s life after Cancer can be subtle and slow. I’ll be honest, I did think a lightening bolt would appear in front of me with “instant change and instant improvement”. My impatience shining thru. I’ve also realized that it is time to experience life a bit more and maybe step outside my comfort zone a bit. 

On Friday, I sat at my desk amazed another full week back at work has gone by. I was so happy I’d have a paycheck as well. I want so happy when I looked in the mirror and thought my skin looked a bit dry and wished I could do more about it.

I noticed the Alayne White Spa was having a special “30 Minute Mask Blast” at a great price. I thought “This is perfect!” So I booked one for Saturday morning. I have not pampered myself long before my surgery and thought I really deserved to be . 

  
I woke up Saturday morn, made some tea and walked down to Elmgrove Ave in Providence to the lovely oasis.  

 
I checked in, was offered a glass of water and soaked in the scenery before being called in.  

 
   
 
Soon, Lindsey came out to greet me. I could not have asked for a nicer esthetician. She was warm and caring and confident with flawless skin(a great sign!). I took off my shoes and got on the table. Warm blankets were wrapped around me like a cocoon. Under each hand Lindsey placed a warm stone. I thought it was a perfect sign that my favorite Classical piece; Pachebel’s Canon, was playing in the background. I closed my eyes and relaxed. For the next 30min. I relished in the pampering while Lindsey lathered my face and virtually smoothed out my wrinkles(ok, one can only hope!).

Right before I was about to fall asleep from sheer relaxation, it was time to get up. Feeling all aglow, I read some affirmations, thanked the ladies profusely, booked another appointment, 

 and walked home with a hydrated smile on my face. 

I was relieved to walk in my apartment to see that Zoë had made herself some breakfast and was cleaning her room(!).  I’m sure our afternoon plans helped her to motivate herself. We were headed to Bryant University to see the Bryant Bulldogs,  Women’s Basketball team play Mount St. Mary’s. I had recently met one of the coaches, Mary McConnell; one of Bryant’s all-time greats. I was telling her that Zoë and her friends play basketball and cheerlead their school’s undefeated team. She invited us to the game.  

 
The girls were so excited and had their poster/programs at the ready. This was such an exciting game. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a live basketball game and these Lady Bulldogs did not dissapoint.  

 
  
While the band played, the team huddled, working out their plays, the girls were rapt in attention.  

 
Even the mascot was mesmerized and had his ball ready in case he was asked to make a free throw.  

  
The game had us on the edge of our seats down to the last buzzer. They won; 86-52. The girls rushed out ready to get some autographs.  

 

  
Thanks Coach, for an awesome experience. A wonderful opportunity for our girls to meet and watch some great role models.  

 
We look forward to catching the last home game of the season on Monday. Even though we didn’t play, we certainly worked up an appetite. My friend Pernille suggested we take the girls to The Creperie, a charming place tucked away off of Thayer St. in Providence. They serve up sweet and savory French crepes.  

 The girls ordered Nutella and Banana. They certainly helped themselves to the whipped cream. 

 
  
  
Pernille and I opted for savory crepes. Spinach, Feta, Red Onion and Tomato. Scrumptious.  

 
  
Feeling content, with full bellies, Zoë and I dropped our friends off at their house and we headed home. When she and I have a free night we catch up on our favorite shows on demand. Tonight’s special? “Project Runway AllStars”. Perfect for my budding fashion designer. While she cued up the tv, I made myself a cocktail.  

 
I started with a terrific key ingredient: pure Tangerine juice bottled  by the fabulous Fruitations craft soda and cocktail mixer. I filled a glass with ice, added some tequila, tangerine juice, a splash of orange juice,a squeeze of lime, and topped off with soda water. Perfect. 

Zoë and I put up our feet thinking about our fabulous fun day.  I look forward to getting out more as Spring knocks on our door. In Providence we have so many colleges and universities around us. So plenty of athletic games to watch, performances to take in, galleries to wander around in. We must take more advantage. It goes without saying we’ll enjoy more cozy cafes or divine diners, or fun food trucks. Stepping outside my comfort zone and experiencing more of life is now an essential part of my recovery. Look at the rewards!  

 

Seeking Answers

  
A couple Sunday’s ago, I trekked on over the fabulous RISD Museum to soak up some art before heading back to work. I needed to find some focus after being home for so long. It was a quiet Sunday in the museum so I made a beeline to my favorite piece. The large wooden Buddha. It sits serenely in it’s own room. I usually luck out and have him to myself for at least 5 minutes. I’ll be honest, I was seeking some answers. “To what?” You might ask. Gosh, many things. 

Many of us seek answers don’t we. We pour over our horoscopes, we go to psychics for a reading, we even ask the Magic Eight Ball….why? Will I? What will happen? 

Sometimes, many times perhaps, we don’t know the answers. As Dr. I answered when I asked why I had Cancer. “These things can just happen and we cannot explain why.” Really?! That’s all you got Doc? There are only so many things we have control over. Such as how long to let my cookies bake for:  

 If I don’t set the timer and forget about them they will burn. And then there are those things we don’t have control over. I’ll be honest, I thought after surgery I’d wake up enlightened and calm. Where shit just ‘Does not Bother Me”

A co-worker gave me that classic line, “everything happens for a reason.” (!!!) Well clearly I  did not wake up from surgery and gain patience as I would like to know, what is that reason? 

Perhaps it will come in time, the answers.  

 
I also thought after having Cancer, I’d catch a break. Life would be easier and not as complicated. Well it isn’t easier; Zoë recently had lice again(!! “Really universe? You want to throw this on me?”) I dealt with it of course but I really wanted to gnaw on some of my friend’s fabulous jerky,  

 
Or wallow in my frustration while enjoying a vegetarian sandwich from 7 Stars Bakery.  

 
I could learn to let go:  

 
And trust that the answers will come in time. Ok, life is still complicated. I’ll give myself a break, perhaps embrace the unknown. Put my hands together and just BREATHE.