July 30, 2014

Is this really the environment you want served up with your cup-of-JOE?

Have you ever really sat in a Starbucks with your laptop or tablet? Seriously, we have all walked into a Starbucks and gave glaring looks at the insipid college students taking up every piece of real estate studying, chatting, growing roots where you know they’re practically in that spot for life.

I am a Starbuck purveyor at times, but it’s mostly joe on-the-go. Over the past few weeks I’ve actually tried going into a few around greater Boston. Not even in the city, which in the city I have had the somewhat pleasure of sitting in a Starbucks and enjoying my iced-grande coffee in a Venti cup, extra ice, with one pump hazelnut and one pump of vanilla (French vanils is what the flavor turns out to be; since Starbucks is anti-French vanilla). A little bit overrated of an experience that most people have of a Starbucks, but decent nonetheless. The real enjoyment of a coffee house is not at the coffee chains like Starbucks. It’s the individual little coffee shops that we really should be paying attention to and giving our business. 

Sorry, I got off track. I’ll try to shorten this as much as possible. I’ve sat in Starbucks doing, or trying to do, some work. Here’s what you get: 20 degree frigid-cold temperatures, loud music that one would think is not soothing to your coffee sipping, and loud customers chatting about incessant topics you could not give a rats a** about. 

I’ve literally sat in the middle of it all. Even if you try to drown out the conversations, it doesn’t matter, people are on top of you and you’re in their conversation whether you like it or not. Also, the noise coming from behind the counter in barista-ville. LOUD. Banging, dinging, blending, grinding, hissing, yelling out of orders - ouch, my ears. It just adds to the mad noise you will encounter. Don’t get me started with the parents and the screaming kids. Crying, screaming kids in Starbucks? Yes, Starbucks has become the alternative to destination McDonalds. It’s become the Chuck-E-Cheese of the 2010’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love kids. But when did children start drinking coffee and tea at 3, 4, 5 years old?

On top of all this, you get “sorry all out” of product at the dairy bar where you sugar, milk, cream, sprinkle your coffee beverage. And, it’s less than tidy. For real. You know this, you've been here and encountered it. It’s a rare occasion that you will come across a nice, clean dairy bar to fix your $4 coffee. 

And since we’re on the subject of tidy, lets talk about the tables? You need a hazmat outfit to clean up the tables. I mean, c’mon Starbucks, step up  your game. I hardly ever see anyone going around actually cleaning or wiping down the tables. These tables at Starbucks need a few good anti-bac sprays throughout the day. I’ve had to almost wallpaper my table with Starbucks napkins just to put my food down, let alone my laptop.

Sighhhhh. . . so as I sit here and try to do work and get some things done in what I thought would be a productive, soothing environment, it is really far from soothing or productive. It’s almost downright irritating. My advice is, enjoy your joe - on the go! If you know what’s good for you. . .

(Yes, I wrote this while sitting in my Assembly Row, Somerville Starbucks, while trying to drown out screaming, crying kids, with louder-than-I-wanted music, while my teeth chattered from the cold. I’m leaving shortly to go outside and warm up!)

June 2, 2014

Love is LOVE

Tonight, Facebook made me smile. I'm one to bemoan Facebook. It's abusive, a time-suck, annoying,  addictive and more. It annoys me sometimes more than provides information and entertainment. I go there to burn a few minutes, see what's going on with the world and move on.

The Facebook app? Worse. I HATE it. I've started hating the app more and more and am finding myself using it less and less as time evolves. Tonight, it served me something I missed, that was 9 hours old. Even though I ask for my news feed to display "most recent" it serves me old news from hours ago, even yesterday's news that is outdated and of no interest.

Tonight this 9 hour-old post, made me smile and I am grateful to Facebook (shockerrrrr) that it showed up at the top of my news feed, because this - is, um, well written and could not be any more true and better said than anyone that I know.

It's "Pride" month and Boston Pride starts at the end of this week and this appeared at the right time. Be proud of who you are and who you love. Lets leave the labels out of it. Love is LOVE.

The person that wrote this is someone that I've known for a long time and her identity will remain private unless she chooses to broadcast her identity. She grew up around my family and has been part of my niece and nephew's lives since childhood.

Here are her well-written thoughts (With her permission, of course):

"DISCLAIMER: Facebook is for funny shit! and this will not happen again! and now the rest of you don't have to send me DM's asking what's up?

I fell in love with a woman, and I’m still in love with that woman. We are going to get married, have kids and do life together forever. I have no desire to be with a man, but I also have no desire to be with another woman. So, for me, it’s not about being gay or straight. It’s about being in love.

People ask me all the time, “So, you’re a lesbian now?” My honest answer is, “I don’t know, and I don’t really care.” I just feel like me. But to satisfy the need for people to understand, I may say yes, I may say no or I may say, “What should we have for lunch?” Sexual identity is confusing for people, because it’s not black and white (or gay or straight). We’ve been taught that we’re one thing or the other, and when you’re one thing, it’s really hard to understand what it must be like to be the other.

I believe we can fall in love with anyone at anytime. Straight, gay, bisexual and whatever else someone may be… we’re all the same. We all want love. Of course, a lot of lesbians label themselves as lesbians, and the same with gay men, however, that isn’t the case for everyone. But that doesn’t make their love and commitment any less real. I just consider myself to be the way I am right now, and that very well may last me the rest of my life."

May 14, 2014

Kristin Chenoweth, Cheyenne Jackson and More to Make Provincetown Debuts, Summer 2014

Producing Artistic Director Mark Cortale, now entering his fourth season at the helm of Provincetown's Art House Theater, has made the picturesque Cape Cod town a must-do stop on the itinerary of Broadway's brightest stars. The Art House continues to somehow top itself with each successive summer's celebrity lineup. . . [More >>]


April 7, 2014

Cududua - Italian Easter Cookies

These cookies were a Sicilian tradition in my family while I was growing up. My grandmother, a Sicilian native, made these cookies faithfully every Easter. Cadudua,  reminds me of her every year. She was the best Sicilian cook I've known in my lifetime and am lucky I got to watch and learn as I was a child, how to cook some great Italian food. You can alter this recipe to your liking. My grandmother would frost them with the basic Italian cookie icing and colored non-pariels and used white, hard-boiled eggs.


6 eggs (well beaten)
1/2 pound butter, softened (or melted, then cooled)
1 1/2 cups of granulated sugar (you can cut this down to your likingsugar)
2 Tbs. Baking Powder
2 Tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
Touch of Cinnamon
4 1/2 cups of sifted flour
White or Easter-colored, hard-boiled eggs

  1. Heat oven to 375
  2. Beat eggs until yellow and frothy
  3. Add touch of cinnamon, vanilla and sugar, a little at a time; mix until sugar is dissolved or just about dissolved
  4. Add butter and mix well
  5. Followed by adding flour and baking powder and mixing intermittently Add enough flour so that soft but not sticky (may have to add more than recipe calls for or less)
  6. Let dough rest for an hour in refrigerator or on table - can be room temp  Take piece of dough, about the size of a small handful and roll with your hands on flowered surface into round rope-like cylinder while leaving the center thicker
  7. Press center down with heel of your hand. this is for the egg
  8. Place on cookie sheet, then put hard-boiled egg in that spot.
  9. Place two small strips of dough (like a cross) on top of egg to hold it to the cookie
  10. Pinch the top of the dough and slit the tips for decoration
  11. My grandmother would braid them acrossthe top of the egg
  12. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes until light golden
  13. Remove from oven and cool; frost with frosting and sprinkle with colored non-pariels

You can make any design you want on the cookie - Buona Pasqua!



February 1, 2014

Traffic Ahead: A Rant & Rave Set off by Flashing Sign

Over the past week, I am realizing that the Massachusetts State Police are physically monitoring traffic in one of Greater Boston’s most busy intersections, Wellington Circle in Medford.

How do I know this? Well, today I saw a sign flashing in the middle of this intersection that reads “Don’t cause grid-lock. $100 fine.” And I see at least 2 state police cruisers, with flashing lights. Sitting. Stationary.

OK - anyone that knows this intersection can tell you this crazy convergence of busy roads has been a clusterf*ck for years. It’s an antiquated, huge rotary with at least 6 different traffic lights that change in the matter of a minute sending traffic in all different directions. Wellington Circle, we’ll call WC, is the result of one of the worst civil engineering jobs of all times.  Not to say when it was first laid out, that it was this bad.

WC is estimated to be over 110 years old and was probably built to handle a few hundred cars, max, at that time of the early 1900’s, people.  Today, this behemoth of an intersection handles tens-of-thousands of cars in which it wasn’t built to handle. There is traffic at WC till all hours of the night. One can pass thru WC and you will never be alone.

WC is the convergence of extremely busy Rts. 28 (north, south – which is also the end of the Mystic Valley Parkway) and 16 (east, west – which is also known as the start of the Revere Beach Parkway), but also branches off in different directions to shopping centers, apartments, train stations, eateries and more. The suburbs that surround this area are Somerville, Medford, Malden, Everett and are a pass through for cities and towns of Revere, Chelsea, Melrose and Stoneham. The biggest pass-thru is its link to the City of Boston.

The “circle” is a huge rotary (circle, round-a-bout, road that no other parts of the country would ever build today because they are antiquated, based on the English which brought them to the states with no purpose). It contains incessant traffic in all directions, most of which are coming to and from the huge metropolis, Boston.  Rt. 28 leads right to Boston from WC and is just under 1.5 miles away – Rt. 93. Rt. 93 carries Rt. 28 right into Boston and beyond.

I was curious over the days as to why are there flashing lights on state police cruisers at this intersection? Did someone die? Are they trying to nab a terrorist? Is this the next Sochi? Of course, what does anyone do that is driving a car when you see flashing police cruiser lights? You slow down. Not that the traffic is bad enough and there is no way you could be going over the speed limit anyway, but traffic is being slowed down by the presence of these state police cars with their flashing lights; oh yes, to hand out $100 traffic tickets.

Let’s revisit that illuminated sign that the state wants us all to pause and look at: “Don’t cause grid-lock $100 fine.” I hear you – and TRUST, I don’t think anyone driving through this ridiculous circle wants to sit in, nor cause a grid-lock! It begs to ask the question: Why is the state penalizing and resurrecting a law that drivers can’t control because of an antiquated highway system?

Are we trying to raise money to redo this road? Are there plans to improve this out-of-date rotary, circle, call-it-what you will? Clearly, WC is 50+ years out-of-date. I have no idea what the plans are, if any, for improving or ridding the citizens of this state of this horrible convergence. But to spend state police time, tax-dollars and posting flashing signs like this are not the solution.

The solution is to work with these cities and towns and bring these roads from the twentieth century, into the twenty-first century. Fining innocent drivers that have no control over poorly planned roads with out-of-control traffic volumes is not the solution. The solution is waiting to be heard from the Mass DOT on what the plan is. There could very well be a plan, but I’ve lived in this general area on and off for decades and all I’m hearing at this point are crickets.

October 1, 2013

Apple Turnovers ~ Recipe


This recipe yields 4 turnovers, which is a lot of work for just four. I doubled the recipe and got 13 out of it and could have easily reached 16 turnovers. You just have to add more cinnamon and cut up a couple of extra apples if you double the recipe (2 apples, double is 4; but cut up 6 or 7 and add a bit more sugar and cinnamon).

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup ice water
  • FILLING:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 2 medium tart apples, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons beaten egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons water
  • GLAZE:
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon water

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in 1/4 cup butter until crumbly. Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until a ball forms. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 12-in. x 6-in. rectangle.
  2. Cut remaining butter into thin slices. Starting at a short side of dough, arrange half of the butter slices over two-thirds of rectangle to within 1/2 in. of edges. Fold unbuttered third of dough over middle third. Fold remaining third over the middle, forming a 6-in. x 4-in. rectangle. Roll dough into a 12-in. x 6-in. rectangle.
  3. Repeat steps of butter layering and dough folding, ending with a 6-in. x 4-in. rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 15 minutes. Roll dough into a 12-in. x 6-in. rectangle. Fold in half lengthwise and then widthwise. Wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and cinnamon. Add apples and lemon juice; toss to coat. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes or until apples are tender, stirring often. Remove from the heat.
  5. In a small bowl, combine egg and water. Roll dough into a 12-in. square; cut into four squares. Brush with half of the egg mixture. Spoon about 1/4 cup filling on half of each square; fold dough over filling. Press edges with a fork to seal. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush with remaining egg mixture. With a sharp knife, cut three small slits in the top of each turnover.
  6. Bake at 450° for 17-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over turnovers. Serve warm. Yield: 4 servings.
Nutritional Facts
1 turnover equals 456 calories, 24 g fat (14 g saturated fat), 94 mg cholesterol, 537 mg sodium, 58 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 5 g protein.

Recipe is adapted from Taste of Home.

August 27, 2013

Summer Season-ending Shows at the Provincetown Art House

Megan Mullally, Patti LuPone, and Chita Rivera End Provincetown Season with a Bang (via SBWire)

Three of entertainment’s leading ladies give superstar lineup an exclamation point! Provincetown, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 08/26/2013 -- Megan Mullally is a two-time Emmy-winning star of TV’s Will & Grace, and recent star of Broadway’s Young Frankenstein…