Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 – A “Tangled Vine” Celebration

Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017 – A “Tangled Vine” Celebration

Last week, Pete called Vinnie to invite us to see his favorite band, TANGLED VINE. They were playing in Norwalk and it was going to be his, and his wife Karen’s, birthday. Both are turning 55. This was probably the 3rd or 4th time Pete has invited us to see this band and we have never gone. Last night we joined them!

A group of us started at Partner’s Cafe. Some of us were related by blood, some by marriage, some through softball, and some through elementary school. When we left there and went to the second floor of Peaches, another party was celebrating a family member. That family member was a long time friend of Vinnie’s from high school. They have planed reunions together, have shared bottles of wine together, and laughed many times together.  She is also the cousin to the in-laws of my daughter who were also there celebrating with her. My daughter’s friend was there with her fiancee and I chatted with a mom of my other daughter’s friend who I haven’t seen in about 10 years who is again connected to my daughter’s mother in law.  My sister chatted and danced with two friends from high school and reminisced about events at Brien McMahon that occurred over 35 years ago. Around the room some people I recognized and many who I didn’t,  danced to the music of TANGLED VINE, held drinks, hugged and reconnected.   Lifetimes of friendships, families and acquaintances were being refreshed, refueled and revisited in the handshakes and the talking over the band playing Led Zeppelin.

As I snapped a picture of Vinnie and Karen, I thought about the fact that they were in Kindergarten together and have stories that are so intertwined in ways that go very deep and are impossible to peel apart. And, as I think about last night, simply saying YES to go hear a band, I can’t help but to smile in thinking about how grateful I am to be a part of a tangled vine of people who fit together in ways that are impossible to separate.

I am eternally grateful for the tangled vine of people I am connected with who all hold a deep love for each other every day!

And I am thankful that we went with several from my tangled vines to go hear TANGLED VINE….They were awesome!



FRIDAY, JAN 20, 2017 – GOOD MORNING, BALTIMORE!! Hairspray Jr.

Friday, Jan. 20, 2017 – Good Morning, Baltimore!!  Hairspray Jr.

Big day today!

It was the inauguration of our 45th President, Donald Trump; the peaceful transference of power took place earlier in the day. I had seen this before and whether it was a candidate I wanted or not, always marveled at the symbolic pomp and circumstance that is associated with the amazing event that is our country’s tradition!

And then, at 7pm I was sitting in the auditorium at West Rocks Middle School watching one of their school plays for the first time ever! When my children attended WestRocks, they did not do plays or musicals. They have been doing them for the past 5 or 6 years and I just never got over to see one!  But, tonight, Liz and I saw Hairspray Jr which is all about one girl’s effort to desegregate in the early 60’s.

The politics, protest marches, and the idea of accepting others…people who are different from you…was the theme of the day and the evening for me.  There was much to reflect upon over the day and the previous year of campaigning. To top it off I had just seen Hidden Figures, the movie about 3 African American women who were leaders at NASA during the Space Race in the 60’s. I felt like I was looking back on a time that I didn’t fully remember and yet looking for a time that I would feel great pride for my America!

Having been born in 1963, I was too young for the civil rights movement. Growing up in Norwalk, heading into Rowayton Elementary School in 1968, I did not personally know segregation and had friends of every color! I don’t remember separate water fountains, separate entrances to places, separate places for that matter, and everyone came on a school bus – unless you walked or a parent drove you! Sitting on the back of the bus was for 8th graders regardless of the color of their skin. In school, we learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. and at home we watched American Bandstand and Soul Train. The late 60’s brought a monumental moment to me and my country simultaneously. I lost my first tooth at Aunt Rose’s house while we watched the long awaited moment of the first walk on the moon!! (Too bad her cat ate my tooth! Another story!).

Tonight, on Jan. 21, 2017, watching these middle school students play the roles of Corny Collins, Tracy Turnblads, Link Larkin, and Motormouth Maybelle as they clapped, danced and sang “Welcome to the 60’s”, I thought about how far we had all come as a country! It made me proud of our country (aside from the rioting and protests I had witnessed on TV over the last year of the political campaigning) and grateful that my experiences don’t really come in to my mind until the 70’s!

After the play ended, we went to our friend’s house and watched the festivities of the inaugural events. So many mixed emotions in our country today. So many fear tactics being instilled and references about our country taking a step backwards. Yet at the same time, there was such great pride among the various groups who attended the many balls welcoming our new president into his new role that he would be playing on the air and off the air and on twitter!

I do not believe we will move backwards to the 60’s. I have faith and hope in the Tracy Turnblads and Link Larkins of this time period and the fact that this country is the strongest country on the planet. I do believe we will overcome the emotions in our country right now, stand together as one United States, and be the best people we can be. After all, our country is made up of very good people!

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2017 – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2017 – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!

There is a chocolate shop that I have been passing by for the past 3 years or so in Waterbury, CT right off Rt. 8 at exit 36. Every time I have passed it I have told myself, I should stop in….but I never have.

After passing by it again on Friday night and noticing the sign saying “TOURS”….I got on line, and reserved 2 seats for the Saturday tour at 2pm. Vinnie and I were going to go on a tour of a Chocolate Factory…..Not Willy Wonka’s but rather FASCIA’S Chocolates!  AND…Christine and Jia decided to join us! We were a “party of 4” on a Chocolate Tour and YES, for 10 dollars we wanted to make our own personal chocolate bar!

In that hour and 15 minutes we were able to view the very clean factory. The scene was of one woman putting the creamy centers onto a rolling belt and in 6 minutes they took a journey through a chocolate waterfall and were cooled so that a young man could pick them up and put them in boxes. In the room where we all sat watching, the son-in-law of Mr. Fascia (the original owner who still comes in everyday to check on things) explained the process and showed us that famous clip from I LOVE LUCY. You know the one with Lucy and Ethel working as new employees on the candy belt! Hilarious!

When we arrived we were told to pick any three “toppings”. I picked pecans, walnuts, and toasted coconut! We were given a mold, and a little bowl of melted chocolate and simple directions. “Pour the chocolate into the mold and then pour on your toppings and smooth it out!”  So we did and as we licked our little smoothing sticks, the granddaughter of Mr. Fascia took our bars to the cooler. It would be ready in 15 minutes!

As our bars cooled , we learned about the COCOA or CACAO beans that grow in the pods in Africa and the CARGILL  Company that processes the beans and ships the cocoa and the cocoa butter to Pennsylvania to PETER’S CHOCOLATES to make it into the ten pound blocks of chocolate that Fascia’s buys to create their delicious treats!  We were assured that no child or slave labor is going on at the Cargill company to harvest the pods every spring and fall. I sure hope so…I don’t like my chocolate dipped in a little guilt!

The granddaughter appeared again with a little baggie for each of us. In the baggie were three small disks of chocolate: one white, one light brown and one dark brown. We ate the dark one first, but we were told to chew it twice and then let it melt in our mouths! We learned that this is the way to eat good chocolate. It was a deep flavor, quite enjoyable. Then the milk chocolate. At this point is where the son-in-law explained the process of making milk chocolate. THANK YOU MR. NESTLE!!  He and Peter (owner of Peter’s Chocolate in Pennsylvania) were buddies and the process of making milk chocolate was created there! Then for the white chocolate; creamy and rich again thanks to the cocoa butter that is the basis of it all. I learned that often the “white chocolate” in the everyday stores is not even chocolate! It is made up of things that are not even related to the cocoa beans! These three little disks of chocolate were worth the visit alone! Delicious.

And so the moment had come! The talking was almost over and our bars were brought back out to us. We packaged them into our personal little clear bags to take home. We never left our seats during the tour, but we watched, we learned, we created, and we ate smooth and creamy chocolate! Not bad for a Saturday afternoon!

Less than a mile away, we topped off the afternoon with a visit to the Brass Works Brewery for a little “Sweaty Sisters Blonde Ale”. I am a believer that life is short and I am now thoroughly convinced that the perfect day in any life is one that does include a wonderful afternoon of chocolate and beer!



Jan. 7, 2017 – DAY 6 of the 21 DAY FIX – DONE!!

JAN. 7, 2017 – DAY 6 of the 21 Day Fix – DONE!

I don’t have a beach body yet….but in 21 days it is almost a guarantee…make that only 15 more days because today, Day 6, is DONE!

I am a very proud “LIFE TIME STATUS” Weight Watcher member!  Thirty years ago, I got the pin to prove it! Vinnie even sent me flowers. Back in 1986, I had gained 18 pounds in 18 months after my wedding day in 1985. My jeans didn’t fit, but it didn’t seem so bad! It was only one pound per month and that didn’t sound horrible. After all I was happy!  Then I did the math! At a rate of one pound per month for the next 25 years I realized I would  weigh 428 pounds on my 25th wedding anniversary!  So off to Weight Watchers I went.

Since that proud accomplishment so many years ago, on and off, I have counted points, weighed my food, and wrote down every morsel. I have followed the Grapefruit Diet, The Banana Diet, the NO CARB Diet, and the high protein/low fat diet.  And yes, in 2014, I was hypnotized for weight loss and it worked. I actually loved it and felt the change in my body almost immediately until I fell back into the wine barrel!

Yes, I have borrowed books from the Norwalk Library called GOD’s DIET, THE CAVEMAN DIET, and NO WHITE AT NIGHT. There are diets that say no fruit or no bread or no alcohol (I never tried that one!). There are diets that say to eat pasta on Monday and Friday, potatoes on Tuesday and Saturday, and a piece of toast on Sunday and Thursday. I guess Wednesdays are a free for all or at least that is how I interpreted the directions!

No matter what diet I have been on over the years, they always strongly suggested to seek medical advice before starting any strenuous exercise! But, since I don’t go to the doctor’s very often, I could not start a rigorous workout regime! Over the years, I have done a little walking and even a few leg lifts from time to time!

Following those few random leg lifts, I knew I should give my muscles time to repair themselves between workouts. That is what I was told at Women’s Fitness in 1986, step aerobics classes in 1989, the three classes of Zumba that I attended back in 2012, Planet Fitness in 2013, and the ads that pop up on my Facebook page!  I know how to take care of this body for sure!! Until Jan. 2, 2017,  I had given myself a 3 year hiatus from exercise.

So, in early December, after being once again, totally out of control with the food and drink, I told my daughter, Stephanie (a true Beach Body Coach) that I was ready to commit! I guess she took me seriously because for Christmas I received  Holy Cow…a personal workout trainer can now show up at my house at 5am every day of the week!!   How lucky am I??!

Bright and early on Jan. 2, 2017, I met Autumn Calabrese. She was perky, cute, excited to be there – fitting on my laptop screen! She introduced me to the TOTAL BODY WORKOUT. What she did not make clear to me was that I would be doing a different work out everyday with her. I thought we would just get to know each other with the same workout every day. It wasn’t until yesterday (DAY 5!) that Stephanie informed me that I had to do the UPPER BODY and LOWER BODY and all the other parts of the body following a certain calendar! UGH!!…More workout rules!

SO here I am today…completed Day 6 with the UPPER BODY workout (although I watch KAT on the video – she is the one not wearing a sports bra…she wears the full body coverup and moves a lot slower than Autumn and her other friends) and I am back to measuring my food – just like my old Weight Watcher days – and keeping a food journal!

I have always said “I am not a morning exercise kind of girl. I need to ease into my day”. And God knows, a “beach body” is far out of my reach, but it is a new year and I am doing something I have never done before! For the past 6 days, and at least 15 more, I am INTENTIONALLY getting up at 5am, climbing out of bed to the shut off the alarm, and grabbing my laptop instead of climbing back into bed!

You may not recognize me at the end of my 21 Day FIX, but at least I will know that I have done something I have never done before. I have exercised for SIX days in a row so far….that is a record for me!!  Keep your fingers crossed for me, and Amber, as we work out together at 5am for the next 15 days!

And…as a side note, my efforts were confirmed when I saw Oprah showing back up on TV boasting about weighing and measuring her food for Weight Watchers again. If Oprah can make a new commitment to weight loss and healthy exercise in 2017, so can I!!

Enjoy your week!


PS – That is Autumn in the photo above….not me!!!