An Open Letter to Massachusetts Drivers

September 30, 2008 on 9:13 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

Dear Massachusetts Drivers,

It’s not all of you. Let’s not generalize. But a number of you are…(how to put it nicely?)…not the best drivers. I know you’re in a hurry; we all are. And I also know you harbor a lot of not so secret anger over things like the Patriots’ last Super Bowl loss and Tom Brady’s injury and the state of the economy and the opposition to gay marriage. But there’s no need to take it out on the rest of us.

I grew up in New Jersey outside of New York City, so I’m all too familiar with the “kill or be killed” mentality. Yet here the motto is more like “kill and be killed.” For example, cutting me off and then stopping short is not safe for anyone. Additionally, while merging, it would be nice if you didn’t speed up and blow past three or four cars, nearly sideswiping all of them, just to get where you’re going 3 seconds sooner.

I think it’s also important to remember that not everything calls for honking your horn, and hardly ever does the occasion warrant laying on it for a full 90 seconds. If the first car at the light doesn’t start moving the second it turns green, said horn laying (which always seems to continue until that first car, you, and everyone else has made it through the intersection and then some) does not really make anyone move faster. Plus, no one is annoyed at the slow driver; we’re all mad at you, the horn-happy driver ten cars back.

Now I know this one is an easy one, and you would think it didn’t require repeating. But red means stop. I know you know. And yet I see cars that race through lights that have been red for several seconds every single day. And I can’t help but think about the car or pedestrian or group of kids walking to school who could be in that intersection when you carelessly barrel through. Of course, the flip side of this is that green means go. You know when you sometimes stop to let cars go out of turn or answer your cell phone or watch the wind blow in the middle of a green light? And then you make it through on yellow, but everyone else who has been sitting there for ten minutes is stuck through yet another red light? We don’t appreciate that either.

I would also be grateful if you stopped throwing garbage out of your window. Not only is it both annoying and distracting when it hits my windshield, as it invariably does, but it’s also not environmentally friendly. Maybe you didn’t get the memo, but we’re all trying to be a little greener these days. And I’m sure you pass a garbage can or two on the way to wherever you’re going.

Now let’s discuss the speed limit for a minute. To you, 30 mph seems to mean either 15 or 60. This can cause any number of problems for those around you. The government may not always tell you the truth, but please believe that they meant it when they said to stay at around 30 mph. After all, they went through all the trouble of putting up that sign. I’d also like to remind you that cars were given blinkers for a reason. It’s true, these people really thought of everything. If you’d like to move into my lane, just signal. It’s much easier than just trying to shoot in front of me. Alternatively, please do not signal when you have no intention of going anywhere. It’s confusing to the rest of us.

I know, I know - it’s a lot to take in. You’d think they’d hold classes or something. But, with practice, I’m sure you’ll get it in time. In the meantime, I’ll see you on the road. I’ll be the one in the silver Celica with the out-of-state license plate giving you dirty looks.

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Busy Weekend, Busy Week (plus a busy week recipe)

September 29, 2008 on 10:00 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments


This weekend went by both quickly and in a blur of activity. Unfortunately, a lot of time was spent doing laundry and cleaning, although we also saw Ben Folds in concert on Friday night and found time to take a long walk around the neighborhood (despite the on and off rainstorms) and watch a movie (Cinderella Man) on Sunday. But the busy weekend is leading right into a busy week - especially since I’ll be in New York/New Jersey on Thursday (until next Wednesday) for two work-related events in the city and my mom’s birthday next Monday. So instead of telling you about the concert (which was somewhat disappointing) or the reasons I have a problem with drivers in the state of Massachusetts (likely to come later), I will give you a delicious recipe that can be prepared a bit ahead of time (it needs to marinate anyway), and then cooks VERY quickly, which you can use during one of your own busy weeks. (Plus mangoes were on sale when we went grocery shopping this weekend, so it’s a good time to get them while you can.)

Peanut Chicken with Mango Salsa

Chicken cutlets, and/or boneless, skinless chicken thighs (we generally use a package of about 4 or 5 cutlets and then cut them in half length-wise to thin them out)
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup chili sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 TBLs oil
2 TBLs vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced (can use jarred)
1/2 teas. dry ginger

Clean and dry the chicken, set aside.

For marinade: In a bowl mix the hot water and peanut butter slowly with a whisk - it will be stiff at first. Stir in chili sauce, soy sauce, oil, vinegar, garlic and ginger. Place it in a plastic bag, and add the chicken. (Double bag it or place the bag in a bowl.) Put in fridge to marinate for anywhere from 6 to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Mango Salsa

2 mangos, peeled, pitted and cut into small cubes
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 scallions, sliced thin
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. If possible, allow to sit to blend flavors at least 2 hours.

Broil chicken in oven for about 5 minutes per side. Serve with mango salsa.

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My Thursdays Will Be Funny Again

September 25, 2008 on 12:42 pm | In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Today is a special day. The Office starts tonight. After a long, un-funny summer, Fall TV is making a big comeback. And I, for one, couldn’t be more excited. In honor of the show’s return, I found The Office Quotes Generator, which I thought deserved a special place on my blog. Especially since the website said, “This random quote generator chooses one quote from TheOfficeQuotes.com database of over 1000 quotes from The Office. If this doesn’t please you, I don’t know what will. (That’s what she said.)”

Hope it helps you prepare for tonight!

click for more quotes from the office

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Fall Recipe: Luci’s Skirt Steak with Cipollini Onions

September 24, 2008 on 12:36 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

1/3 cup flour
3 lbs. skirt steak, each piece cut into thirds
3 - 4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups beef broth
1 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 to 1 1/2 lbs. cipollini onions
Button mushrooms, halved (optional)

Place the flour in a shallow bowl and coat the meat lightly on all sides, knocking off excess flour. Set aside.

Heat 3 Tbls. oil in large saute pan over high heat. Brown the meat a few pieces at a time - don’t crowd the pan. Transfer the browned meat to a slow cooker. Add the broth and red wine to the sauté pan and bring to a boil over high heat, using a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Cook until the liquids have reduced a bit, then pour the mixture over the meat in the slow cooker, and add the vinegar, soy sauce, and tomato paste. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours, or high for 2 hours, then add the onions (and mushrooms, if using) and cook another 2 hours on low, or 1 1/2 hours more on high. Can serve with cous cous (we make red, white, and green “confetti cous cous” by adding peas, slivered almonds, and either chopped roasted red pepper or pimento) and lightly sautéed Swiss chard doused with balsamic vinegar while cooking.

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Wordless Wednesday: The Colors of Fall

September 24, 2008 on 8:55 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

It’s not recent, but here is what fall will soon look like in New Hampshire.

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Responsibility Means Helping Others

September 23, 2008 on 12:02 pm | In Uncategorized | No Comments

I never saw the movie “Pay It Forward,” but I like the idea. And I like the Liberty Mutual commercials based on the same value. So it’s no surprise that I like Liberty Mutual’s newest set of online videos making up part of the Responsibility Project.

My favorite is entitled Lighthouse. (And not just because I also love lighthouses.) Every once in awhile it’s just really nice to see a big company doing something small to make a difference in people’s lives. If you have three minutes, there’s no reason not to watch it. It’s my feel-good video of the day. And, after watching it, if you’re not inspired to do something nice for someone - well, you will be. It’s short, it’s touching, it’s valuable, and it makes you wish you lived in that (animated) town.

And I know you have three minutes.

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If You Like Pina Coladas: Our Weekend on the Cape

September 22, 2008 on 9:58 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

So this weekend was the Harbor to the Bay charity bike ride. Which Pete participated in, as the crazy little cyclist that he is. Since he had to be in Boston around 5:30 am on Saturday morning, we got up at 4:30. Which still has me feeling tired.

After dropping him off, I continued straight on to the Cape. Which, at first, seemed horrible, but actually turned out not to be so bad. I quickly woke up and watched the sun rise as I drove.

Plus, this is the view that greeted me when I arrived in Provincetown less than two and a half hours later:

Rather than nap, after checking into the hotel, I decided to head straight into town (and search frantically for coffee).

Provincetown is, of course, very artsy.

I walked, shopped, and ate lunch by the water…

…then headed back to the finish line to wait for Pete, who had spent his entire day biking 125 miles. Which is really, really far.

If you’re going to ride 125 miles, the Cape is the place to do it. I was so proud of the crazy little cyclist.

The sun was starting to set as we headed out to dinner.

This is a picture (from the next morning) of the restaurant we ended up at after not making reservations and realizing most places were booked.

I’m surprised Pete was still attempting a smile, despite the fact that I hadn’t taken the camera out of his face since he rode in.

Yesterday morning, after a breakfast provided by the Harbor to the Bay people, we headed to the Pilgrim monument and museum. We learned about how the Pilgrims actually landed first in Provincetown and saw a surprisingly large display of old artifacts, including animals brought back from exotic locales and one of the first fire engines on the Cape.

We then set out to climb the monument.

The view from the top:

Then back down…

There were stones from all of the cities in Massachusetts. Yay Boston. :-)

When we came down, I finally got a good picture of the lighthouse, albeit from afar.

And then we hit the road, stopping at a number of different towns, including Truro (for the winery) and Sandwich (for the glass blowing and the funny name). Which reminds me - if I ever open a Cape Cod restaurant, I am totally serving a Mashpee Sandwich.

Then, as required by Cape law (well, it should be), we stopped for lobster rolls and fried clams…

…before heading home to collapse. Where I wish I still was. The weekend has me worn out - and I didn’t even bike 125 miles like some people. But I am glad we got in a nice summer weekend at the Cape before the arrival of fall!

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Childhood Dreams (I love Cheerios)

September 18, 2008 on 10:34 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

When I was little, I had a lot of big dreams. One of my earliest dreams, in fact, was to be homeless, although I think that’s a story for another time. But another dream I had was to be in a commercial. And not just any commercial, mind you. A Cheerios commercial.

For some reason, I just couldn’t get enough of those advertisements, especially the ones for Honey Nut Cheerios. (In all honesty, Cheerios still has the best commercials. The dad with the baby and the Cheerios football plays? The holiday commercial with the grandma and the highchair baby? Priceless.) But at that time I loved the cartoon bee and the way he interacted with real children. And those kids weren’t even all that special. Cute enough, I guess. Smiley. Well-trained. I could do that too. “I LOVE Cheerios,” I’d announce, just like the children in the commercial. (And, really, it’s not that hard of a character to get into. Who doesn’t love Cheerios?)

Being the enablers that they were, my parents decided to take me to a talent agent to try to make my dream come true. I was probably only about four at the time, but I still remember walking proudly into the office, looking up at the pictures of the well-trained, smiley children on the wall. I imaged my own image similarly immortalized in a cheap, wooden frame on the clean white wall. Suddenly, we were in an office with a man who asked me to say “I LOVE Cheerios.” The way I always had before.

At first, I couldn’t believe it. This was too perfect. Had my mom told him about my dream? Did he just happen to need a smiley child to be the Cheerios kid? What luck!

But, as I stood there, I began to get more and more uneasy. I looked back at those pictures on the wall. I looked at the man (who I now imagine had receding hair, a few missing teeth, and possibly a greasy mustache). “This doesn’t feel right,” I thought. And so I refused to talk to him. I knew that, not only did I love Cheerios more than most people, but I could also sell it to an audience of children and parents looking for the perfect breakfast cereal to buy. I knew I could say the line, which I had practiced for months, with enthusiasm and the perfect smile.

But, as a child whose favorite word was “no,” I simply stood there and looked at the man, blank-faced, like I didn’t know what he was talking about and didn’t care what he had to say. And I marched right back out of that office without an ounce of regret.

Of course now I think back on that day with slightly more remorse. “The Cheerios Debacle,” I like to call it. I’m convinced that the man was not truly a talent agent, but rather some weirdo in a fake office who never had any intention of putting me in a real commercial. How else could he have known about my Cheerios dream? What are the chances they were actually casting for a Cheerios commercial at the time?

But still. I feel I’ve missed my chance. Even now, when I mention to my parents or Pete how I’d like to be in a Cheerios commercial, or how great I would have been, they tell me I’m too old now anyway. That I should let it go. Easy for them to say.

But I am a big dreamer. Sure, little dreams I can give up on. Being homeless was never a sensible goal. But I will carry this one with me always. After all, I have always loved Cheerios, and I always will.

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Wordless Wednesday: Summer Skyline: Admiring the View

September 17, 2008 on 9:02 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

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Perfect End of Summer Salad

September 16, 2008 on 9:48 am | In Uncategorized | No Comments

As long as we’re both home from work relatively early, Pete and I generally cook dinner. Although, if it were up to him, he’d probably be eating something that you just heat up. But, even though he doesn’t require elaborate meals, he’s pretty good at helping. (Although I sometimes think it’s because I won’t let him eat if he doesn’t help.) As long as there is no onion chopping involved, he’s a great sous chef. The other night, part of our dinner was a really simple vegetable salad which, to me, is perfect for the end of summer.

For salad:

Assorted fresh or frozen vegetables, anywhere from 1-2 cups of each
(we used broccoli, green beans (cut in half), corn, and peas)
1 cucumber, chopped or diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful of dried cranberries
Handful of walnuts, toasted
Mixed greens

For dressing:

1 clove garlic
1 cup (reduced fat) mayo
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon white wine or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper

(With one cup each of the vegetables, this made four small or two large dinner portions.)

Boil salted water in a large pot and cook the vegetables for 3-4 minutes. Toast walnuts in a small pan on the stove with a small amount of oil, then salt. Drain the vegetables and add to halved tomatoes and diced cucumber. Add cranberries and walnuts.

For the dressing, mince the garlic or smash, sprinkle with salt, and grind to a paste with your knife. Put garlic in a small bowl, add the rest of the dressing ingredients, and whisk.

Add some of the dressing to the vegetables and toss. Serve over mixed greens with extra dressing on the side.

See? I told you - simple. And really delicious. Especially if you’re using up your summer tomatoes. Of course, we ate this with a nice, creamy spinach and artichoke dip, but I’ll save that recipe for another time.

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