gratitude-a-thon day 236: mmmmmm fried green tomatoes

IMG_5672

OHMYGOD, My first experience with fried green tomatoes. I could literally eat the picture. These had goat cheese and prosciutto, but I also had some with fat cloves of baked garlic on them. Yeah, I was the one at the party with the great breath.

It’s sort of embarrassing to admit that until Saturday night I was a fried green tomatoes virgin. This is a tragedy of epic proportion. Once I tasted those flavorful tomatoes, I knew this dish would now be on my list of The Top Ten Foods I Want in My Mouth at the Time of Death.

My friend and old neighbor Emma had a party and she made the tomatoes with another friend John, and what did I do, I just kept eating them. It was like when I was a kid and my mom used to make the eggplant for eggplant parmigiana, and I would eat those lightly breaded and fried brown circles so fast, she could never get enough to make the actual parm. Anyway, that’s how I was. A ravenously rude guest hogging the tomatoes. I’m guessing I won’t be asked back anytime soon.

IMG_5675

This is my friend and former neighbor Emma, and behind her John, who hates his picture taken. They were the head chefs who captained my fried green tomatoes maiden voyage. Thanks, guys!

So, if you’ve only seen the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, give the real thing a go. We are talking intensely flavorful gratitude.

gratitude-a-thon day 235: postcards and stars

200546894-003

When I go to Barcelona in November, I’m going to send postcards. I am. Give me your address and I’ll send you one.

I am always on the prowl for ways to make life a happier gig. This Huffpost article featuring a couple ways you can shun technology for a deeper kind of satisfaction, is a good read.

I’m the first to admit that I often watch tv, while I’m checking email, and playing Words With Friends on my phone. I know this just overtaxes my pea sized brain and kills the few remaining working brain cells, and yet, the gravitational pull to stay plugged in is powerful. Let me just check Facebook one more time.

So today, I gratitude up on Five Ways to Revive Life’s Simplest Pleasures, sans the tech. After I write this, I’ll store the computer (yeah, right).

gratitude-a-thon day 234: grabbing for the light

IMG_5662

Crooked Coast last night. My favorite song was Loose Tooth.

Last night I saw the band Crooked Coast. Yes, the median age of the people I saw it with was 25, and I am more than double that. Yes, it brought me back to college, where I might go to a small venue/bar to see a band. And yes, I was the old lady dancing in the crowd.

My sister’s very close friends were in Boston to to see Crooked Coast, because their son is the frontman of the band. Luke is adorable and has a face that makes you feel like the sun just came out. Which is exactly like his parents. I have known them for like three decades now, and it would be hard to find people who are as lovely and warm as Jane and John. They live in the most beautiful part of Woods Hole, called Gansett Point, and maybe it’s where the band’s name came from, because the house is on a craggy bit of spectacular coastline. It was here that Peter and I spend a night, early in our relationship, and that we still think of often, with goo goo eyes.

John and Jane had four beautiful kids, but Wes, their youngest, was killed last November in a terrible car accident. He was 22.  I can’t even discuss the pain of this situation, because it’s not something you can even touch with any words I know, but what I’ll say is they’ve handled it with a grace I am not sure I possess. There is much more I could talk about here, but I won’t. Suffice to say that seeing Luke last night, so filled with music and energy and youthful beauty, with his parents dancing to the beat, a permanent smile in their eyes, made me want to split open with happy. I guess life goes on, even after such unspeakable sadness. It just keeps moving forward with the force of a college marching band (don’t you always feel like they’d plow you down if you were in the way). Was their dancing proof that  both sadness and joy can peacefully co-exist? I imagine you never stop feeling the searing pain, but last night I saw two people who were able to move to the rhythm of happiness, too.

IMG_5670

Singer/songwriter, Luke Vose of Crooked Coast. Isn’t he adorable?

Crooked Coast was great. A little bit reggae, a little bit rock. I am a fan, and now have my CD in the car, where I will play it until my family tells me to throw it out the window (because that’s how I am with music. I play it until it’s in my DNA and nobody around me can stand one more listen).

So massively grateful to have seen Jane and John last night, and their talented rock star son, Luke. Grateful they’ve been able to navigate the roughest waters that exist. Not without overpowering sadness, but with the kind of peace that allows the happy to be experienced. Luke gets married next weekend. He was a little freckled faced boy, scampering about at my wedding, and finally falling asleep with his brother and sister under some coats (one of my best wedding pictures). Who knows what life will bring on, all we can do is know it’s important to keep grabbing for the light.

gratitude-a-thon: day 233: small bites friday

images

My sister Joni is unexpectedly visiting because a dear friend is gavely ill. Not happy about the friend, but so darn thrilled I get to see her!

Two days ago, a friend and I saw Museum of Fine Arts Exhibit, She Who Tells a Story, a collection of photographs from 12 leading women photographers from Iran and the Arab world, including our friend Rania Matar, who was there to see it with us. It is beautiful, and brilliant. And so is she. You should go.

Let’s here it for Matt Labrum, Union, Utah’s football coach who suspended his entire team for cyber bullying. Score.

Wendy Davis, the fillibuster queen of Texas, who stood in pink sneaks for more than 12 hours to block a statewide abortion restriction, is running for Governor. She’d have my vote, alright.

BHS girls Varsity soccer beat Weymouth yesterday, 2, zip! Go Warriors!

Brookline foodies, celebrate! Rifrullo Cafe, at the site of the beloved Sealey’s is up and running. And aside from the awesome fresh and flavorful fare, the place is totally gorgeous! I have had two nights of take out already and it’s absolutely delish! This is a smashing addition to the hood. Go today. Like me, you’ll want to go again tomorrow. To owner, Colleen Suhanosky, thanks for making my life better!

The light around 6 everyday is so spectacular that I want to squeal with delight, but I fear someone would mistake me for a pig.

I watched Michael J. Fox’s new show last night, and aside from the discomfort I felt over his obvious Parkinson’s, I laughed at the great writing. Good show, brave and talented dude.

If Riley doesn’t start watching what he eats, he could end up at a doggy gym. Roll over.

Sometimes you buy something and it’s just not right. Check out these retailers with great return policies.  Makes me want to go shopping right now.

gratitude-a-thon day 232: gratitude

images-2

We here at the gratitude-a-thon (meaning ME here at the gratitude-a-thon) are always looking for tangible proof that gratitude is a sure-fire way to make yourself happier. In case you’re still not convinced, here’s more impressive “lab coat” approved data that giving thanks is the freakin’ way to go.

http://www.upworthy.com/scientists-discover-one-of-the-greatest-contributing-factors-to-happiness-youll-thank-me?c=feahttp://

gratitude-a-thon day 230: doing the work

Screen Shot 2013-09-17 at 7.17.15 PM

Jake in a club in Barcelona. Hey, not everything you learn is in the classroom.

I have been mentally preparing for Jake to go to college for like three years, when I literally woke up one day and it hit me like a sledge hammer to the skull that I was looking down the barrel of the end of a very particular kind of parenting. I’m not sure why it struck me during his sophomore year that the end was near. It seems premature, as I look back on it. But for some reason, this was the beginning of my mourning process. And while I don’t think it’s appropriate to equate dying to having your kid go to college, there are some similarities. Of course, I wear black whether there’s mourning going on, or not.

The thing is, I am actually not killing myself here, having Jake gone! This is a real surprise to me. I considered that a crane might have to be called in to lift me out of bed, the National Guard to prevent my jumping off the roof, the rescue of ten puppies at the MSPCA to escape the sadness. I thought I might wear pajamas for a year, not be able to walk past his room, or say his name without breaking down into mental hospital psychosis. But guess what? None of that has happened. In fact, I’ve been doing really well! Knock me over with a miniscule feather from a petite bird.

I miss him, but not in any sort of debilitating way. I am guessing at least part of my ability to tolerate his absence is that I talk or text with him everyday. This has freed me up from thinking that he might be in a Spanish ditch somewhere, lets me know what he’s up to, shuts up the my fertile imagination, which can cook up dangerous and ridiculous scenarios. I am vicariously delighted when he tells me what he’s been doing, even though much of it is partying his face off. I am impressed with the way he has adjusted. I am proud of the adventurous nature he’s displaying.

I have spoken to a handful of mom’s who have been struggling with the transition in the way that I thought I would. A few are now empty nesters, which is a whole different thing. But some are just like me, with another kid or two at home still. The one thing we all agree on is that it’s a TRANSITION in 800 point type, all caps, bold. And for my money, transitions are never simple. They mean the exploration of a whole new way of doing things, a change in patterned behavior, the ability to morph from one way of being to another. It takes time to create the “after” script. It takes processing and energy to make a different kind of life.

I’m so grateful that I realized it would take me extra long to get myself ready for this new stage. I know if I hadn’t I could be wandering around Brookline with Lady Gaga hair,  Courtney Love before she got all designer-y clothing, moaning like a ghost in a low budget horror film. It could literally have been “Nightmare on Elm Street.” But it’s not, it’s more like “The Kids are alright.” And so am I.

gratitude-a-thon day 229: life is really good

IMG_5597

If you missed The Life is Good Festival this year, don’t miss it next year. There’s gratitude in the freakin’ air there.

 

Blue skies instead of rain. The kind of Fall night that requires a cozy sweater. A big ‘ol moon in the sky. And Jack Johnson on stage at The Life is Good Festival at Prowse Farm. Grateful, grateful, grateful.

The Life is Good Festival is like the best awesome end of summer party you’ve ever been to. There’s music all over the place. Games and activities for kids. And positive vibes humming through the air so thick, they can’t be ignored.

Local Needham boys, Bert & John Jacobs, who began Life is Good in the 80’s by selling t-shirts and living in a van. Fast forward to a $100 million dollar company. But here’s the best thing about these two guys–they don’t just sell positivity on a grand scale, they give back. The Festival raises money for their Life is Good Kids Foundation, which provides funds that go to various kid-centric charities.

IMG_5629

The famous collaborator of Jack Johnson, Banana Pancake singer, Lily Walsh.

My friend Charlie grew up with Bert & John and I got to meet Bert last night, as Peter and I were treated to the VGP area (stands for “Very Good People”) for those who fundraise. Down to earth (although not close to earth, this guy must be 6’5), he and his brother were walking through the crowd shaking hands and giving out hugs–the ultimate hosts. I can’t imagine a better way to run a company.

IMG_5600
I am not at all sure what my husband is doing in this photo.
IMG_5598

Deb and I waiting for Jack. He was worth every second of standing.

IMG_5636

 

I missed the Emmy’s, but Jack Johnson was absolutely worth it. The sound was great, and his set was really smooth from start to finish. In a pre-game meet and greet, my friend Lily got to sing Banana Pancakes with Jack. Which meant, she pretty much watched the concert from cloud nine.

I love this event. I love the mission of this company. Sorry Modern Family.

Unknown

I got nuthin’ but respect for these guys, Bert & John Jacobs, owners of Life is Good. They throw a slammin’ party.

gratitude-a-thon day 228: a leg up on the competition: Jody Steel

IMG_5593

Jody Steel’s leg. She takes doodling to a whole new place.

IMG_5594

Jody at Starbuck’s last night. She’s really cute, and man can she draw.

Ok, so last night we were at The Abbey, and my friend Charlie says, “Hey, there’s the girl who draws on her leg. I just read about her in The Globe at your house.” We were all starving to actual death when he said this. Because the 20 minutes they told us it would take for our table to open up, turned into an hour and ouch, I thought he could be hallucinating from hunger. I had had enough to drink, and plus, I thought she might have some food, so my friend Deb and I went to see her leg and take a picture because I didn’t know much about the story, but I already liked it.

Into Starbucks we walk, and there was only one table filled, so I’m thinking she’s left, but I see a girl and I look at her leg and there it is, an intricate drawing of a man’s face, on an adorable girl’s thigh! “Hey, were you in The Globe today?” I ask, but really could there be another girl who draws on her leg out there? She was slightly taken aback, but friendly, as we gawked at her thigh, and I told her about the gratitude-a-thon and that I’d like to write a post about her. She was cool and gave me her email so she could read it. Her name is Jody Steel. She’s an Emerson College student. She’s from Florida. She wants to work in film design and production, but clearly she should be an illustrator in my humble opinion. She takes pictures of all her leg drawings on her phone, before she washes them off. As it turns out, she’s all over the internet. She’s received a bunch of job offers from her leggy art press. And lastly, she is fucking talented.

This is the kind of thing that I LOVE, that I’m so grateful for. It’s someone’s passion so big, it’s spills out all over, in this case, all over a body part. It’s interesting, quirky and totally off the beaten path. It’s everything that’s magical and good about life. Creativity expressed in a brand new way. It’s the sensibility that I live for. I hope Jody keeps drawing on her leg. Of course, any surface she touches will be lucky to have her.

gratitude-a-thon day 228: now that’s a place to shop

IMG_5580

Here’s the owner Joanne herself in her delightful shop. I don’t use that word too much, but there’s no other way of describing it. And guess what? She writes down five things she’s grateful for every night!

I interrupt my usual Small Bites Friday to share a great shopping experience I had yesterday. The thing is that  shopping has become so homogenized, it’s like living in Wellesley, there’s just no diversity. I love when someone puts together a collection that’s both intriguing and amusing. The mall-ization of America makes me feel despondent. What’s a girl to do? Well, for one thing, she can shop independent stores, where people go out of their way to actually carry things that can’t be found elsewhere. Those are my favorite kinds of places. I try to shop them as much as I can because not only do I like what they have better, but I also appreciate the fact that running a small business is a labor of love. You do it because you want to, you have to. And it shows.

Which brings me to yesterday and, Joanne Rossman, Purveyor of the Unneccassary and Irresitible (joanne-rossman.my shopify.com). This place is a find! Everything in this small and intimate store is great, including Joanne herself. This intelligent, stylish, and charming woman is not only interesting, she has stocked her shop with interesting stuff from all over the place. And has she got an eye! Perfectly displayed, beautifully edited, this is the place to kill your holiday list, or where to go for a pick-me-up during one of those days when nothing’s going right. From jewelry to cook books, Joanne-made hangers to one-of-a-kind paintings, John Derian to Patch NYC, there are loads of quirky finds in this perfectly appointed space.

IMG_5587

I needed a 50th birthday gift for a friend and I couldn’t think of anywhere to go that everybody else wouldn’t also be going. Joanne’s shop is in Roslindale, so I hadn’t been since the end of the school year, but I thought this friend was worth the time. And I was right. I scored the ideal something something for someone who’s been on the style bus for five decades.

IMG_5583

Soaps, candles, and all things delish.

If you’re tired of the so-so, the blah blah, or the same old, same old, head over to 6 Birch Street and treat yourself to a visit with Joanne Rossman and Rita Rose, her adorable dog, who has her own luxurious bed and has a charming snore. I’m pretty sure you’ll be grateful you did.

IMG_5581

How cute is Rita Rose, not to mention her bed?