To fly or not to fly….

Usually when I travel it is by car but due to unexpected events I now find myself a frequent flyer. I have flown back and forth between S.C. and N.Y. at least 4 times in the last 2 months and each time I fly I get better at it or more prepared at least. On one of my flights, the turbulence was so bad I found myself sweating perfusely and praying to the big guy to please not let the plane go down. The plane was shaking so bad that the drink on the tray table beside me went flying. Good thing my neighbor had sharp reflexes. One time when I was flying a long time ago, I had to exit a plane and jump down an inflatable slide while it was still on the tarmac. Good times.

I do understand flying is a necessary evil, especially for this trip. It’s just about impossible to drive when you only have 2 days and you are 13 hours away from your destination. But believe me, if flying was absolutely not an option I would’ve driven and made it work. Some people are worth making the effort. For my Donna June I would travel to the ends of the earth, barefoot, over hot coals and broken glass if that’s what it took to get to her.

For you see, Donna’s mom has been diagnosed with early onset dementia. Donna is staying with her temporarily until her new home is ready for her in Pennsylvania. Donna’s sister Suzanne and her husband Pete are building an apartment in their home so that mom can go live with them being she is unable to stay alone any more. I can’t even begin to express the admiration and love I have for Suzanne & Pete, along with their daughters Amber & Alyssa, for opening their home and hearts to allow mom a safe place to live and being willing to make the necessary changes to make that possible. They are pretty amazing people and I am very lucky to call them my family.

Until the apartment is ready and mom’s house in NY is sold Donna is staying with her and has been there since the end of January. Hence, me flying so much. I probably should’ve gotten one of those credit cards that you get travel miles for but I dont anticipate flying much after mom moves to Pennsylvania.

The drive there is a lot nicer than the one to NY. I like to take I 81 being it is very scenic and takes you through the mountains. Also there is no going through NYC. Even though I was born, raised and learned to drive on Long Island I get little pangs of anxiety when I go back and have to drive. Southern State Pkwy, LIE, even Sunrise Hwy all make me yearn to go back home to SC. Regardless, I prefer to drive.

So that’s it. If I had my choice I’d drive everytime. For all of you out there in cyberspace that fly, I wish you safe travels with clear skies.

Happy St. Patty’s Day to ya…

So as you can tell from my featured image I am not indulging in the Irish spirits this holiday. As I have not done so in the past 26 Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations being I am a recovering alcoholic. This works out well, because if I would’ve been drinking I wouldn’t remember a damn thing and would have nothing to write about. So let’s get on with it then…

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my big sis Kelly made corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and my favorite, Irish soda bread from scratch.

This year was no different. Although she wasn’t exactly jazzed about how the corned beef and cabbage turned out, I still enjoyed it immensely.

There just is something about food and traditions. How the smell and taste can bring back a flurry of memories and bring you back in time. To a time when loved ones that have since past were still with you and you shared that food. Created that memory.

Cherish each day for you never know when it might be your last. Tell the ones you hold dear that you love them. Tell them today, don’t wait until tomorrow to say it.

1000 miles in 365 days….

I have had an on again off again relationship with fitness and healthy food over the past couple of years. Well we are going steady once again. One of my coworkers had ordered me a running calender, which allows me to record daily how much I run/walk. The calender was provided by the site ilovetorun.org and it is a great motivator for me.

I have it right on the closet door in my bedroom. It is the first thing I see when I get up and the last thing I see before I go to sleep so it reminds me to stay fit daily. I get so excited to fill it out, attempting to outdo the prior day’s total miles.

So the challenge I signed up for is this… run/walk/crawl 1000 miles in 365 days for 2018. It sounds like a lot and kind of overwhelmed me at first but a saying I heard just recently helped me get beyond that feeling. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time”. So I am eating this 1000 mile elephant of mine biting off one mile at a time.

I joined Planet Fitness this year which has been an immense help in keeping me on point with my daily regimen of running. First I run on the treadmill, then I workout with weights and then I sit back and enjoy a 10 minute massage in one of the massage chairs. Planet Fitness is within walking distance from my home so I get in some extra miles walking to and from the gym. On occasion Donna will join me (with my Black Card membership I can bring a guest and get unlimited massage too!) and she’ll get on the recumbent bike and I’ll do weights.

I already can feel an difference. Notice that I said FEEL a difference. I am not obsessing about what the scale says but focusing on how my clothes fit and the increase in my energy level. If I should miss a day, which I try not to, but if I do I don’t beat myself up. The next day I’ll just push to run a little bit more than I normally would. Why would I beat myself up being I am doing this because I love myself. Makes sense, right?

Love yourself enough to be willing to make a change for the better in your life, whatever that change might be…

You never know what the day will bring…

Today while I was out for a walk, I happened upon an unexpected suprise. Every Sunday from 10:00 – 2:00 at the West Columbia Riverwalk entrance, Latham’s Farm and Curiosity Coffee Bar are featuring their products. Being I knew Donna would love this, I decided to swing back home and get her.

Me and my girl…

When we returned, we decided to sample the coffee first. I opted for a regular cup of coffee but Donna was tickled that Curiosity Coffee Bar was offering chai tea, so she got a Chai Hot Toddy (mocktail). As for snacks, we sampled alfajores, compliments of K & K Gourmet Sweets and a date & almond scone.

Alfajores by K & K Gourmet Sweets
Scones
While we ate and drank Donna chatted up the baristas about her mosaics.

Donna’s company is called Evergreen Mosaic and you can see all of her amazing pieces on instagram. And if you’re lucky enough, maybe you too could own an Evergreen Mosaic original!

Mosaic by Evergreen Mosaic. This work of art was creating using beads as the medium.

Then we walked over to the tent manned by Latham’s Farm. They had a wonderful selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and you couldn’t beat the price of $13 for as much as you can stuff in a basket!

I would have fit more into this basket but it was already very heavy and I had to carry it home!

So what did I do with that basket o’ veggies you ask??? I cooked them of course! For dinner tonight I made chicken cutlets with roasted eggplant, squash, zucchini, carrots and white corn on the cob. With the mild weather and our meal tonight, it is starting to feel like spring time in the south.

The trick for not letting your veggies dry out in the oven is cutting them into at least 1/2″ cubes.

They tasted twice as good as they look.
No guilt in eating this meal ūüôā

Mustard base or tomato base? That is the question…

Tonight I went to Murray’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar in Cayce for the first time with Kelly and a bunch of her friends, now also my friends ūüôā .¬† This is odd that I have never been there being that I lived right around the corner from them for about 3 1/2 years.¬† I didn’t know what to expect but what I got was good food for a reasonable price with a laid back atmosphere.¬† I was also thrilled that the waitress refilled my water several times without me having to ask and she brought plenty of napkins to the table.¬† I don’t know what it is, but it pisses me off to no end if the waitress/waiter doesn’t refill my water.¬† I drink a lot of water and that’s all I drink when I go out to eat.¬† And if my glass never gets refilled that tip is going to suffer.¬† I guess I am just weird like that.¬† Regardless, our waitress was on top of the water situation all night.

Kelly ordered the¬†“Murray‚Äôs Signature Sub” which¬†consisted of¬†steak, saut√©ed onions, melted swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato, oil & vinegar, parmesan cheese and Murray’s special sauce.

 

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Murray’s Signature Sub with a baked potato

 

I was torn between the French dip and the North Carolina BBQ platter.¬† Eeenie, meenie, miney, mo…..¬†¬†I¬†chose BBQ.¬† Now I like a mustard base sauce myself.¬† Tomato base is a little too sweet for my liking.¬† I actually once made some pulled pork at home in a crock pot.¬† Yes, this Yankee transplant whipped up some BBQ herself and let me tell you something, it was good.¬† I didn’t know the first thing about making BBQ.¬† Yuri told me that I needed a pork butt to make it.¬†¬†I put that butt in the crock pot and cooked it all day long (I don’t remember exactly how long, I just followed the recipe).¬† With the use of 2 forks, I shredded that boston butt into oblivion and then¬†added Bi Lo store brand mustard base BBQ sauce to the mix.¬† Voila!¬† BBQ!¬† Now, back to Murray’s and my sandwich.

 

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North Carolina BBQ platter with grilled vegetables

The grilled vegetables that I chose as a side were delicious.¬† The char on them brought out such flavor in the zucchini, squash and broccoli.¬† The garden salad I substituted my coleslaw for was¬†filled with yummy extras like a hardboiled egg and the thousand island dressing was definitely house made.¬† Now as¬†for the pulled pork sandwich,¬† I though¬†that was a little bland.¬† Even after I added the BBQ sauce to it, which was served on the side I didn’t find myself devouring it.¬† Actually, I got so full eating the amazing beer battered onion rings that we had as an appetizer I didn’t have enough room to finish my dinner.¬† I would definitely go back but I am going to¬†try the French dip instead.

 

Garlic cheese bread with a side of pot roast please…

So let me tell you about my day.¬† As I walked into work today, I was met by my assistant manager who handed me an egg &¬†sausage¬†McMuffin, out of appreciate for all of my hard work.¬† How can you not have a good day when it starts out like that.¬†Right?¬† Then while I was working at my desk, one of my co-workers Gordon (the guy that gave me the venison¬†that was featured in¬†a previous blog) drops me off a doughnut.¬†¬†What the heck is going on?¬†¬†It’s like¬†I am wearing a sign that says “Feed Me”.¬†¬†Then while I am sitting at Jiffy Lube¬†waiting for my car¬†after work my dad calls.¬†¬†He asks me¬†if I want to come over for diner, being that Yuri made¬†pot roast and scratch made cheesy garlic bread.¬† Can Barbra Streisand sing?¬† Heck yeah I’ll come over!¬† I though to myself that I should go buy a¬†lottery ticket because how lucky can a girl get.¬† Needless to say I didn’t go buy a ticket for the¬†mega millions but I did accept that invite for dinner!

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Home made pot roast with potatoes, carrots, onions & celery

The pot roast was so tender you could cut it with a fork.¬† Yuri made it in the crock pot.¬† I’m not sure for how long or if it was on high or low, but it was delish.¬† Now, for the star of the show….the bread.

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Scratch made cheesy garlic bread.  OMG!!!

Have you ever had the cheddar bay biscuits at Red Lobster?¬† This tastes like those but A MILLION times better!¬† The bread itself is very light, it isn’t incredibly dense.¬† The garlic permeates every inch of the bread but is not too overpowering, it’s just right.¬† And the cheese.¬† The glorious cheese.¬† It is¬†melted throughout the loaf and on the bottom where it is slightly burnt but not charred is where the best flavor is.¬† While I was eating I used the bread to soak up the juice from the pot roast and¬†it made it taste that much better.¬† I think I just made myself hungry all over again.¬† Yuri, I have to give you props.¬† You are an amazing cook and I appreciate every meal that you serve.¬† Most¬†of the time after Yuri makes something she always says “This could have been better” or “The crust should have been firmer” or “This turned out to watery”.¬† Yuri,¬†just¬†stop it.¬†¬†You are awesome.¬† Everything you cook is delicious.¬† The proof¬†of that¬†is that me, Kelly and dad are not skinny.¬† We eat all that you make because it tastes very good.¬† Thank you for feeding us, we love you for it.

 

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Here’s the bread recipe if you would like to give it a whirl

 

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You can see how the cheese is strewn throughout and the bubbles from the butter and garlic surfacing.  Also you can see the airiness of the bread.
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This is the delicious surprise at the bottom of the bread!

 

Vincent Andreolli

On October 15th 2017 at 5:16 a.m. Donna’s step father Vinnie passed away.¬† I was in Vinnie’s life for the past 9 years.¬† He called me “Ginny” instead of Jenn, which was kind of cute.¬† That sounds strange because cute isn’t the word that would come to mind when you think of Vinnie.¬† He’d make me laugh when he’d use the word “buck” in place of another word that sounds exactly the same.¬† For example:¬† “What the buck is wrong with the t.v.”¬† Get it?¬† That’s Vinnie.¬† Everytime we’d come to visit from S.C. he’d go get us buttered rolls and coffee from the deli for breakfast.¬† He loved his dog Sadie and John Wayne movies.¬† He was not always the easiest person to get along with but he was ours and we loved him.¬† Rest easy Vin, you will be missed…xo

Lake Wallenpaupack

Yesterday before going going to Alyssa’s tennis match we had some time to kill, so Donna wanted to check out the lake.¬† With the fall foliage upon Pennsylvania in full force it looks like a Bob Ross painting has come to life.

20171010_143937Lake Wallenpaupack is man-made and was built in 1927 for hydroelectric power, similar to our Lake Murray in South Carolina.  It is absolutely breathtaking.  We plan to come back in the summer when the kids are on break so we can take advantage of the boat tours.

 

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Self checkout is okay for a supermarket, not a restaurant

When I go out to eat I want to be catered to, that is why I am going OUT to eat.  Wether I am going to a fast food joint or a chain restaurant the last thing I want to be doing is placing my order myself on a computer and then ringing up the bill and swiping my credit card myself.  There was a table side digital menu with a credit card swipe at a Chili’s that we went to once.  I hated it.  Then we ran into a similar situation today at a McDonald’s in Milford PA.  The ordering kiosk was confusing to me and I would consider myself pretty computer savvy.  All I thought of was if my dad or Donna’s mom stopped in to that McDonald’s to order lunch.  They both would have left frustrated and hungry.  I’m all for self check out, I use it all the time at the supermarket but not at a restaurant.  In the end I guess I should be leaving myself a partial tip being I am part of the wait staff.

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There’s no ailment that a clam boat and sundae can’t cure

Friendly’s restaurant was an institution for me growing up.¬† After concerts, school plays and softball games Friendly’s was the destination to hang out with classmates and eat ice cream.¬† Being I went to North Babylon Senior High School the location on Deer Park Avenue was our go to.¬† They closed all the locations near my home on Long Island and there aren’t any in South Carolina where we live now so you could imagine my delight when I saw an ad for Friendly’s in the “things to do” book given to us at our timeshare in PA.

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Donna with her sister Suzanne and her niece Alyssa.

On the ride over we taked about what what kind of ice cream we were going to get.¬† Suzanne didn’t even need to look at the menu as far as food goes, she was getting the “clam boat”.¬† She loves that clam boat!¬† The kids got hamburgers, Donna got a turkey melt and I also got the clam boat.

 

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The famous “clam boat”

 

Now for the ice cream.¬† Oh, the glorious ice cream.¬† My favorite is a reese’s pieces sundae with black raspberry, mint chocolate chip and hunka chunka pb fudge ice cream.¬† I went with the 3 scoop being I can not longer put away the monster 5 scoop sundae.

 

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Is this heaven?¬† No, it’s Friendly’s.

 

I barely got it all down but in the end I was victorious!

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All gone!

 

Alyssa actually put down her sundae at one point then picked it up again and finished it like a champ.

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Alyssa proud of her accomplishment.

Donna was the first to devour hers!  She got a 2 scoop mint chocolate chip sundae with hot fudge and strawberry topping.

 

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My Donna ūüôā

 

All in all we had a great time.¬† The food was just as we remembered it, the ice cream was delish but being there with Suzanne and her girls was definitely the best part of lunch.¬† We couldn’t ask for anything more and are grateful for the memories made today.

 

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Me, Suzanne, Alyssa, Amber & Donna.