The A, B and D of politics

b-c-d-alphabet-letters-floral-elements-decorative-vintage-different-designs-square-format-behind-each-uppercase-33779316Did you notice I left out “C?” That’s because “C” would have been for Clinton and I found her to be a deeply flawed candidate that the Democratic National Committee forced upon me as their chosen candidate. It wasn’t that I believed her to be unqualified, only that she was the wrong nominee at a time when citizens were demanding someone not closely connected to the “establishment.” Sorry, Hillary, but Bernie was my guy. He’s not my “B,” though. We’ll get to that. Let’s begin with “A.”

A” is for Andrew Cuomo, our governor and a man I don’t plan to ever vote for again. I can’t say never because, as I was reminded, what would I do if Cuomo ran against Palandino? Right, there’s that to consider, isn’t there? My lack of support for our governor is a result of his inept and heavy-handed implementation of Common Core Curriculum at the expense of teachers. The damage he caused to my profession was undeserved and I’m holding a grudge.

B” is for Barack Obama, a man who held the highest office in our country and conducted himself in a manner that was unfailingly appropriate and worthy of respect. While he may not have accomplished all I had hoped for, he and his family represented me in a way that made me proud to be an American. His intelligence, speaking skills and empathy will be missed and I sincerely hope Barack (and Michelle, too!) continues to play a role in our government and policy making. His rational thoughtful voice is going to be needed now more than ever…and that brings us to “D.”

D” is for disturbed and destructive and dangerous and divisive and disrespectful. “D” is for dismayed and distressed and disgusted. “D” is for Dear Lord, let’s hope this goes by with dizzying speed. “D” is for Donald Trump.

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The urge to purge

db2f6261-f9f8-4a1f-9a59-bc0e490f0e79-12096-000007bb74a66c9d_tmpConfession: I have too much stuff, particularly clothing. These days when I look at the two-sided garment rack which is stationed outside of the closet large enough for me to step inside of, I feel weighed down and vaguely embarrassed. It’s too much.

I’ve defended my consumerism with numerous excuses – I lost weight and needed clothes that fit, I must have to different wardrobes to meet the needs of both my day and evening jobs, I rarely pay full price for anything and many of the pieces come from consignment shops or clearance sales, I consign my clothes a couple of times a year…

Whatever. In a world where too many have nothing, I have too much.

But, I’m feeling stuck. My avenue for consigning my clothes has hit a dead end since the store I previously worked with is no longer selling clothing. The idea of exploring other options overwhelms me right now and finding an alternate sales venue feels impossible in my current, crazed life. Maybe you have a suggestion?

Since I haven’t been able to dispose of my clothing without feeling as if I wasted money with my initial purchase, I’m working to commit to not buying new garments. Even when the sale is tremendous and the item “perfect,” I’m walking away empty handed. Buying new things isn’t filling me with joy right now, so why bother?

As weeks in a new year quickly move along, I feel myself trying to get another angle on lightening my load. Maybe It’s time to take an afternoon to make a few piles of clothes which I am willing to weed from my wardrobe, no matter the cost. You know, sorting everything into categories such as Not Worn in a Year/No Longer Fits or Flatters/In Need of Tailoring or Cleaning or Repair and then being relentless.

The idea of actually doing this is growing more exciting than formidable and I’m almost there. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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Filed under Fashion, musings, Random

Bravo, Brava

img_0864On a mellow Sunday evening, I was fortunate enough to revisit Brava Wine Bar in Lenox. It’s hard to say exactly what made it the perfect evening, but the scenery, complete with a dusting of fresh snow, certainly contributed. Seriously, with the holiday lights still on display Lennox looked absolutely magical! What a beautiful little town that is…

We pulled up to Brava early, probably at about 6:00, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The only other time I was there was Labor Day Weekend and the place was humming. This night, though, things were quiet. We selected a spot at the bar, as far from the door as possible on a cold evening, and joined two other parties in the small space.

After ordering a couple of red sangrias (they offer white as well) , we decided to make a meal from a kale salad, roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon, and a pizza with Italian sausage, onions and mushrooms. Noticing the charcuterie options, we quickly added two meats (a mousse/pate and prosciutto) and a Spanish goat’s milk cheese with a paprika rind to our order. Then we sat back and let the refreshingly professional and competent staff take care of us.  What a treat.

The food, like my last visit, was right on. The salad was adorned with a light, creamy dressing and was perfect for sharing. The Brussels sprout were cut in half prior to roasting and they were tender and coupled with crispy bacon. The add-on charcuterie plate was delightful with plenty of pâté for me and some of the most buttery prosciutto I’ve ever had, while the cheese had a not unpleasant funk to balance both of the meats. The accompaniments, including dried apricots reminiscent of my childhood, made for the perfect foil. And that pizza? Blistery on the bottom and topped with simple, but delicious flavors. I’d go back just for that again.img_0865

img_0867 img_0866The atmosphere was relaxed and cozy and the company was perfect. We extended our meal with a moist, delicious bread pudding, a tawny port and a fantastic “bowl” of coffee. Two leisurely hours after we arrived, we departed Brava and headed back to Albany. That, my friends, is how I do Sunday. How about you?

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Filed under Dinner, Eating, favorites, Food, friends, love, pizza, Recommendations, road trips, snow, sunday, Wine, winter

Brooks Brothers suits

b683bae9-f62b-4ceb-96e3-a47c320e332f-10839-0000071941aafe77_tmp… my taste for customer service, that is. I don’t often shop at Brooks Brothers (their clothes are well tailored but a bit conservative for my lifestyle), but after visiting their Lee, MA outlet location twice in the last few months, they just may have made a customer out of me. Here’s why…

I dropped into their store at the end of summer to pick up a few dress shirts for a friend as a gift. I’ve never been particularly good at keeping track of measurements and sizes and that trip to Lee was no different. I had no idea where to start with sleeve length and neck size for this guy, but I did know that he has a history of shopping BB and I hoped that perhaps there was a database of customers that could be accessed. I stepped up to the counter and inquired and within minutes I knew the necessary shirt size. Easy.

What I didn’t know was that there was a preference (or even a difference) in collar style. Seems that my birthday guy prefers a close collar rather than the wider one I had randomly selected. So, for the last few months three (almost) perfectly new shirts have hung unworn in a closet. Last weekend we took a drive over to rectify the situation and that’s when the customer service took an additional, even more tremendous, leap forward.

Retaining a sales receipt for months is not necessarily my strength and we found ourselves in Lee without evidence of the purchase. I’ve been in this situation in the past and was successful in obtaining a credit by presenting the credit card originally used for payment, but, naturally, I recently switched American Express cards, so that wasn’t an option. As I prepared to log on to my Amex account to recover evidence of the transaction, the clerk asked me if I knew the date of the transaction and, miraculously, I did. Within 2 minutes the transaction was located and an exchange receipt printed. Simple.

A short time later we left the store, new purchases in hand, and headed to a place more my speed – UnderArmour. I had asked at Brooks Brothers for directions to the UA outlet since it was frigidly cold and we weren’t feeling up to wandering around the outdoor mall. As we were browsing the running gear an employee approached me to inform me that I had forgotten my phone at the Brooks Brothers store. Apparently, one of the employees there had made the effort to track us down to notify us of our oversight. Wow. Thoughtful initiative? Yes, please and thank you. Well done.

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Filed under birthdays, Recommendations, road trips, Uncategorized, writing

Coming clean

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I’ve got a thing about soap. Growing up, it was all about Ivory and sometimes, if I could get my hands on my mother’s, Dove. To this day, the scent of either can bring me right back to childhood. Not a bad thing at all, unlike that time when I washed my face with the new soap I found next to the bathroom sink. That one experience with Lava convinced me to never use anything that wasn’t described as “mild” or gentle. Lesson learned.

For the last 20 years or so my favorite soaps are from a company called Pre de Provence. They’re gentle and come in a great variety of different scents, my favorites being the hard to find eucalyptus, sage and, in summer, cocoa butter or verbena. They’re obviously more expensive than what I grew up using, but the bars last a really long time making them a modest indulgence.

A couple of winters ago I discovered the Bliss Mammoth Minty Bar – a huge slab of soap with bumps on one side for massage and gentle exfoliation. Amazing! This soap is as close to a life changer as I have ever experienced in the shower and when I received a surprise bar for Christmas, I couldn’t have been happier.

Speaking of gifts, I was lucky enough to be given a few bars of soap last fall for my birthday that I’m still working my way through. They’re from Chasworth Farm Soaps, a company in Saint Albans, VT and the fragrance these babies emit is heady! I’ve got the egg yolk and honey bar, as well as a lavender thyme one still to go.

Despite my extensive soap experiences I still haven’t explored the local market as I should. I hear really great things about Rad and their new space in Stuyvesant Plaza looks fantastic. Have you checked them out yet? How do you wash your daily grime away?

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The New York Times: all the recipes fit to cook

image: rubylane.com

image: rubylane.com

One of the things I really miss about my life pre-restaurant ownership (in addition to loved ones, fretless sleep and true downtime) is cooking. Remember the days when I would have recipes and pictures posted here of yummy food made in my very own kitchen? These days, I’m lucky if I cook an evening meal for my family twice a week. Well, three if you’re willing to count grilled cheese and ramen. While it is certainly a luxury to eat meals prepared, served and cleaned up by others, I definitely miss being in my own kitchen puttering around sometimes.

During a recent break from school, I took advantage of having some extra time by indulging myself in a little kitchen therapy. Actually, I indulged all of us now that I think about it. One of the items I prepared was a new recipe while the other was an old favorite. Both were from recipes I had originally found in the New York Times. Maybe you don’t think of the NYT as a source for recipes, but my vintage copy (1966, baby!) of the NYT Cookbook would prove you wrong. It is one of my favorite recipe collections and I refer to it frequently.

The sides puffed up remarkably.

The sides puffed up remarkably.

The new recipe that I attempted, with great success, was for breakfast Christmas morning. In years past, bagels, cream cheese and lox were our holiday morning go-to meal, but since my divorce things have been a bit more unpredictable. I’ve made variations on pancakes and waffles and one year went to great trouble to make cinnamon rolls. They were good, but not great and, in my opinion, not worth my efforts. Crepes were requested for this year, but, honestly they’re a little more labor intensive than I like at the start of a long day. But, the Dutch Baby recipe from the Times? Well, that was perfect!

img_0778Requiring only 5 ingredients, all pantry staples, this oven baked “pancake” was one of the easiest and most satisfying breakfasts I’ve ever made. Taking only 40 minutes, start to finish, the Dutch Baby is something that can be made even on a regular school morning. It is my new favorite breakfast treat and I think I’m going to make it again this weekend. You should, too.

img_0848The ease of the Dutch Baby was definitely offset by the work involved with making the Meat Lover’s Lasagna. I’ve been using this recipe for more than a decade, despite the extensive list of ingredients and time demanded, and consider it to be a solid version of lasagna, but it comes at a price. First, there’s the actual cost of ingredients – pancetta, pecorino romano and sirloin aren’t cheap, my friend. Then, there’s the time involved in preparing this beauty. Conservatively, it takes about of 4 hours to put this delight together, maybe less if you cheat on the meatballs step. The payoff, though, is good. It is a dense, delicious and hearty entree that will provide multiple meals. That’s a good thing since I won’t have another chance to cook for days!

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Filed under breakfast, Christmas, Cooking, family, favorites, Food, holidays, Recipes, Uncategorized, vacation

Holiday wrap up

54cd238f-fa07-4fcb-95e4-36d1a7ec9337-7056-00000503bacda6d6_tmpSomehow 10 days have flown by and it’s back to school time. It’s been a quietly busy vacation and I’m pleased that I resisted over scheduling myself, something I’m inclined to be guilty of doing. So – what did I do? Let me tell you!

I went to the movies, twice. Bonus – neither film was rated G, produced by Disney or animated. La La Land was lovely and pretty much charmed me from beginning to end. The cast, dancing, singing and costumes all combined to give me a simple, happy movie experience. Almost equally enjoyable from a performance perspective was Jackie. Natalie Portman was really remarkable in the role and I’m certain I’ll spend some time reflecting on the story that was told, wondering how close to reality the script may have been.

As you might imagine, I ran. There were miles with the Lunar B*tches, with Jeter, solo, and as part of two different organized group runs. I also checked out an aerial class at Good Karma yoga studio. I enjoyed the class and was surprised by how comfortable and well supported I felt in the swing. Accustomed to a hot yoga studio I was a little underdressed and found myself chilly at times. Next time I’ll wear another layer.

Jeter and I got to the golf course quite a few times. Romping around in the sunshine with a bunch of buddies makes Jeter happy and tired. We always love our time there, especially when there’s snow on the ground rather than mud. A nearly white dog and mud are not a great combination, because our time outside needs to be immediately followed by a bath and then, of course, a bathroom cleaning.

Speaking of cleaning, I vacuumed almost every day. What can I say? I love my Dyson vacuum and Jeter is the most sheddingest dog I’ve ever known. I wish I could say I did some other major cleaning tasks or maintenance projects, but, I didn’t. There’s always February break for that. I’m already looking forward to it.

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Filed under Christmas, Exercise, holidays, Local, running, winter