Sunday, September 30, 2007


Today was a sad day. My favorite Clam Shack, Iggy's was closing so that major renovations can take place between now and March,2008. When I heard the news from my friend Dale, my immediate reaction was 'they can remodel, but they are keeping it a clam shack, right??' Dale's mom, Mal and I love going to the clam shack for a bowl of RI chowder and some clam cakes. There are times when we have to beg Dale and Chris to humor us and come along. They usually do because they want to eat. After hearing this news,we decided to meet at Iggy's for a "last lunch". Its' a good thing we didn't make it a "last supper" because they were running out of some items when we were there around 2pm. There was no bottled water and they had no salt packets. When the man in front of us asked for salt, they just gave him the cook's shaker and said this is all we have.....salt and go!

What is it that draws me to the clam shack? The feel of the beach and this wonderful view (above photo) is a big draw. I have this wonderful thought of coming to Iggy's with my journal or laptop and having a cup of warm chowder as I work on my "great American novel". Iggy's is a very informal place but it also has a rich history in Rhode Island. Situated in Oakland Beach this institution has outlasted the Victorian resort community at the turn of the century, a honky tonk town complete with a carousel and Dodge'Ems, and a rough and tumble kind of neighborhood where people turn the heads away from all sorts of transgressions. Through it all, Iggy's was the place to walk up to the window, give your order and wait for your number to be called. I remember being in line at the window of Iggy's and not being able to see into the kitchen. At that age, it was not the chowder that I liked; then we came for the dough boys. The lovely pieces of fried dough coated in sugar were a great treat. Walking through the attractions on the midway was exciting. I remember going on the DodgeEm's with my mom and getting scared out of my wits at the way she was driving. I really hated the sparks on the ceiling above our car and the smell of the greased parts.
I ran out of the hall as soon as the cars stopped and I don't think I ever went on Bumper Cars again.
Iggy's in the past few years has been a great sanctuary.....a place to feel the attraction of Narragansett Bay, the warm sun even in the winter and the serenity around the water. So many wonderful memories of this little clam shack. I told Dale that if she sees the news tomorrow and there is a video clip of two women lying across the front doors of Iggy's not letting the bulldozers pass to check and see if its Mal and me!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Zen of Washing Mini Blinds

There is room for meditation in tasks of daily living. I would definitely not call washing the mini blinds a task of daily living since I have never attempted to do this before...I would just toss the old and buy some new blinds. Trying to be more GREEN and not really knowing what I really want on the windows, I decided that it was time for a serious wash..even by my very low standards of cleanliness. I filled up the tub with hot sudsy water (thanks to lavendar fabulouso) and dumped the first one in. It really took a while to figure out the best way to get the job done. The blinds were not cooperating, hiding the dirt between their slats. After first finding a comfortable position by padding the tub and leaning over into the sudsy water with both hands free to work, I did find a comfortable rhythm in working with the blind totally submerged and running the cloth over the back of one slat and the front of the next slat in a rhythm....that's when the zen kicked in. I noticed that all I needed to be concerned with was the slat I was working on and the rest would take care of itself. I did not experience this until the second mini blind. The first washing was full of struggle and thinking 'how many more slats until I am finished with this sucker'. The gift of getting into the zen of the task was I gave up the struggle for it to be over and just stayed in the moment. Thicht Naht Hahn has a short story in his book The Miracle of Mindfulness about his friend and getting into mindfulness in doing the dishes. So this was my time to be mindful in doing the mini blinds....the gift of the day!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This week, it really happened for me.....realizing that Fall has arrived and I am so enjoying it. Its not that I didn't love this summer, I did enjoy it. I just feel so excited to be enjoying another wonderful September without the trauma of returning to school. It wasn't that school was was getting used to all the headaches and stressors of the beginning of the year that made September a blur. Trying to have a smooth entry into the world of school for my students and all parties meant that a great deal of my time (not in school) was spent on plans, phone calls, coordinating meetings. That created a numbness around what was going on in the rest of the world for me during the first few weeks. This feels like the first September that I don't feel like I am playing hookey! I have my days planned with teaching Yoga and tutoring on two days of the week and the other days are for me to fill mindfully. A writing group is starting next week and my strength training class started this feels like the week takes on a wonderful tempo with meaningful work and enough time to do some things that feel good. I am really getting alot of satifaction with feeling productive....making the phone calls, cleaning out spaces, painting what needs to be painted. I hope this lasts for a few house needs it!!

The other day, I made Pumpkin Scones with a recipe that was a copy cat from Starbucks. It felt great to smell the pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg along with the crisp air that was filling the kitchen. As the scones cooled, we had unexpected company drop in and it was wonderful to have these fall treats to serve. The recipe is as follows:

Starbucks Pumpkin Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
3 tablespoon half-and-half
1 large egg6 tablespoons cold butterPlain

1 cup plus 1 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk

Spiced Icing
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger in a large bowl.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half, and egg.
4. Cut butter into cubes then add to dry ingredients. Use a pastry knife or a fork to combine butter with dry ingredients. Continue mixing until no chunks of butter are visible. You can also use a food processor. Pulse butter into dry ingredients until it is the texture of cornmeal or course sand.
5. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then form the dough into a ball. Pat out dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle that is about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide. Use a large knife or a pizza wheel to slice the dough through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough.
6. Bake for 14-16 minutes on a baking sheet that has been lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper. Scones should begin to turn light brown.
7. While scones cool, prepare plain glaze by combining ingredients in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Mix until smooth.
8. When scones are cool, use a brush to paint a coating of the glaze over each scone.
9. As that white glaze firms up, prepare spiced icing by combining ingredients in another medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. Drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the icing to dry before serving (at least 1 hour). A squirt bottle works great for this, or you can drizzle with a whisk.
Makes 6 scones.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Serious Business

This is very serious need to make sure everything is just right. Having a Martini PJ Party can be a lot a pressure so it is best to work together to get just the right combination of flavors for the Chocolate Martinis and the Almond Joy Martinis. Nancy and Beth are you can see!

After all the measuring was through, it was important to have an independent taster. Susan provided a great commentary on the quality of our Martinis. After a very busy week with her good friend, Geri, and lots of late nights, it did not take much to please Susan. The Chocolate Martinis were 'smooth as silk' and having them out on the deck with that beautiful view (see yesterday's entry) made them all the more intoxicating. Susan had a little trouble hiding her disappointment that I did not bring my blender along. My last "blender martini" resulted in a very loose bottom(on the appliance) and some aerial tricks to save the last bits of juice.... it was a "Depends Moment" for all of us! The Almond Joy Martinis had eye appeal.....I forgot the Frangelica and added a bit too much almond extract. Thankfully, they were served after the first batch of Chocolate Martinis and our only concern was getting the Hersey Kiss in the bottom of the glass! How things have changes...from the worm in the bottom of the tequila bottle to the kiss in the martini glass...some changes are very good!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Martini PJ Party....The Beginning

The view from Nancy's house is just breath-taking. It's the kind of view that a photo will remind you of, but not capture the true sense of awe as when you are there, seeing for yourself. Nancy has this view from almost all the rooms in her house, just awe-inspiring. Nancy is great at describing the bodies of water and the land you can see from her house: Ninigret Pond and Charlestown,RI; followed by Block Island Sound and Block Island; followed by the Atlantic Ocean......and Europe or Portugal depending on the day, direction of sail. I just crack up every time we do our geography review from the deck.
Our PJ Martini Party started here and pretty darn early in the afternoon....thank goodness! This was a place and a purpose that I just could not wait to get to! Getting to spend a good chunk of times with my wonderful friends was something I waited for all summer. We definitely try to meet once a month to catch up and connect. Our visits are usually on a Friday night and greatly anticipated, coming at the end of our 'working' weeks. The time flies when we meet and before you know it, we need to call it a day. There never feels like there is enough time to catch up. Planning this little gathering was a great idea and having it at Nancy's house was a perfect setting for our Summer Soiree.
Once we all assembled at Nancy's, there was no moving us. From the deck to the living room(when it got alittle too warm on the deck) and back to the deck again....the day unfolded. Lots of laughter, good conversation and heart connections continue. Every special time together continues to weave our lives together in great friendship, a true sisterhood. When I think of these wonderful sisters I see once a month (Nancy, Beth, and Susan), I just am so grateful.
***Because I cannot figure out how to post pictures then text, then pictures again, the next entry will address the actual making, testing and enjoying of the Martinis!