Plan B…Again

plan B

Some people will tell you that having a Plan B just muddies up the waters for Plan A. Other people will tell you that the most successful people always have a Plan B. If you think for one minute you can plan your life you’re wrong. All you can ever do is be available for it, your life that is.

What was supposed to be an adventure into the city to walk the High Line and nibble our way through the meat packing district instead turned into welcoming new puppy Eloise home to Sleepy Hollow. Carly and family aka the Hodgsons are the proud new family of tiny Shepard mixed with god knows what Eloise as of today. Things happened that quickly, too quickly to even get a focused shot of Eloise.

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I was not without apprehension, these are fly by the seat of their pants, leave the door wide open, run hither and yon people. Puppies take discipline and work and time and boundaries and pack leadership and on and on. Enter Aunt Sandi with all her apprehension and a bag full of toys, a puppy gate and a soft sided crate, an open heart and she was pleasantly gratefully surprised. Carly is steadfast in her learning about being pack leader. She has learned and read and absorbed everything the experts have been telling her over the last two days. Thankfully she’s a quick study and I put her in charge. She will be an amazing pack leader and I exhaled.

So while the adventure changed it did in fact remain an adventure topped off by a walk through the Sleepy Hollow cemetery at the Old Dutch Church in Sleepy Hollow.

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Followed by some delicious nibbles at Mint in Tarrytown. As you can see we ate through the cheese and charcuterie board too quickly for even one picture.

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I have lived in Plan B my whole life and it has and continues to serve me well.

Recipes for a Storm – Blizzard 2016

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Blizzard: n. severe snowstorm characterized by strong sustained winds of at least 35 mph (56 km/h) and lasting for a prolonged period of time—typically three hours or more…Wikipedia

I’m sure after this weekend no one needs me to tell them that. I love a blizzard because I’m that person who stays home in it, regardless. Stay home, wear pajamas all day and cook. Oh yeah and make the house smell delicious.

This blizzard I cooked from my pantry using my go-to recipes, with a few variations, apple fig muffin tops and pasta fagioli.

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Basic quick bread recipe and this year’s blizzard add-ins:

  • oil, I use canola, ¼ish cup
  • sugar ¾ cup, if you need sweet kick it up to a cup. I just use the 5 oz scoop in my sugar canister.
  • vanilla to taste, I use a lot, no measuring. If you had to measure I’d say a teaspoon but I’m a quick pour kinda girl.
  • 2 eggs
  • flour, 2 cups
  • baking powder, 2 tsp
  • baking soda, ½ tsp
  • salt, 1 tsp
  • some kind of fruit, no more than 2 cups
    • for this blizzard I peeled and cubed two apples and mixed them with fig jam after microwaving them for 2 minutes with a little water.
  • some kind of liquid, no more than a ½ cup, sometimes I use yogurt…
    • for this blizzard I used the liquid from the apples and jam and a dash of ½ and ½
  • just for kicks I added in apple pie spice and some Kashi nuggets

Wisk all the wet ingredients, everything above the flour, together and then abandon the wisk for a spatula and mix in the dry. Add in the fruit and then the liquid to make a smooth, as smooth as something with two cubed apples can be, batter and portion evenly into the six wells of a muffin top pan. No muffin top pan, although I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t have one, you can use a regular muffin tin. Just add more time, like 10 minutes or so.

Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

Fantastic with a cup of coffee, latte or tea. I’ve tested them with each, on different days of course. I have made this recipe in every variable possible, it is forgiving and never lets me down.

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Pasta Fagioli

  • pancetta, I keep cubed pancetta in my freezer and use it as I need it.
  • Soffritto (the Italian version of mirepoix)/mirepoix onion, carrot and celery
  • garlic
  • tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomatoes I love fire roasted
  • 1 can cannellini beans, rinsed or ick…
  • 1 cup ditalini pasta, or whatever shape you prefer

Render the pancetta in olive oil until its crisp. Add in the soffritto, salt and pepper to taste and sauté until it’s just about to turn golden. I don’t like that whole til its transparent thing I like some color. Add in the garlic and the tomato paste. Really cook the tomato paste until it begins to turn brown. Add in the tomatoes and at least two cans of water. One to rinse out the can and one to bring the level up a bit. Stir until mixed in then add the cannellini beans. Whatever size can you’re using for tomatoes, use the same size of beans. Bring the whole thing up to a boil, you’ll see the bubbles along the rim of the pot, then cover and turn down to the lowest point and let it do its thing for about 30 to 45 minutes. Uncover, turn the temp to medium and add in the ditalini. Cook until al dente. If it gets to thick, add some water. Taste as you go and season to taste.

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Serve right away with a generous sprinkling (or grating from that big chunk you’ve got in the fridge) of Parmigiano Reggiano. Crusty bread on the side wouldn’t hurt either. And a glass of red, just sayin.

I’ve never understood why so many people feel that they have to run to the store in advance of a blizzard for every package of junk food they can find. Calories still count during a storm and yeah you’ll be shoveling but you’re not going to undo 5000 calories worth of chips and dips and donuts and brownies and god knows what the hell else. And your house won’t smell delicious and like everything is going to be alright tomorrow.

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While the snow may be piling up around you and the wind is howling, your day at the stove in your pajamas just might bring you more abundance than you could imagine. “A year of snow, a year of plenty.” — French proverb about cooking during a blizzard, it’s what they do… just sayin.

Buon Appetito from Stowe Lane


Leave January Alone…

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There are some months that are just full of nostalgia, for me January is one of those months.  We lost Lina in January, my father’s birthday is in January and we lost my dear friend Cookie in January.  I’m telling you, warning you, begging you to leave January alone from now on.

Except things don’t always work that way do they?  Toti Nonna is recovering from an allergic reaction to…who the hell knows.  I can’t figure out exactly what it was but I know I’m responsible, there isn’t anyone else giving her food or treats or anything else so I’m the culprit.  That’ll give you the guilts about a zillion times over.

She is resting comfortably from her anaphylactic episode yesterday while we figure things out with Benadryl and prednisone at the ready. We believe she will be fine any minute now.

I hope you’ll forgive my throw back for this week but I too need UN NUOVO GIORNO… the lessons and the sentiment remain the same.

See you next week, with better news from Stowe Lane.


Telling Your Stories

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If you think you’re not telling your story simply because it hasn’t been written you’re wrong. Every day that you’re here you’re telling your story, perhaps not in words but in a myriad of other ways. Writing is the obvious but do you paint, build, garden, or collect?

I may have mentioned before that art is legacy. It is the artist’s story that helps to build a portion of their legacy.  I’ve been following a friend I met in Houston at the Lime Retreat hosted by Karen Walrond of, on Instagram for the last several months (only the last several months because I just discovered Instagram). Her name is A’Driane Nieves @addye_b. Her story unfolds in each of her paintings and it is REAL. Whatever she thinks she is, she is talented, provocative, engaging and worth mentioning again…real. I often say that the best stories come from those of us who crawl, walk, soar and she personifies this. I know like I know that she is telling her story in glorious color and building a legacy that will live on.

Ask any gardener what their story is and they will walk you through it, literally.  They will tell you why they planted every variety, they will tell you who gave them a cutting of this or a seed of that.  They will tell you when the light moves and how many times it took to find just the right spot for the damn fill-in-the-blank. This is the story they live and hope to leave behind.

A collection can tell any number of stories about a person.  Think about what draws them to collect the things they do.  I have a friend who collects vintage audio equipment, reel to reel and stereos. Why? Because he and his family are lovers of music and what better way to enjoy that music than on the equipment for which it was intended.  Visit with them and the playlist becomes an important part of the experience as does their enthusiasm.

My spoon collection was started by our dear family friend Jeanette.  By now you know I speak the gospel of Jeanette as often as I can but, in this collection, perhaps my name will be bantered about. My spoons come from all over the world, the country, representing different locations, themes and associations. I know who gave each one but I especially love when it comes with the sentiment of I thought you’d love this…I do!  There are hundreds of them and each started as a way to connect with people I know, where they were traveling, where they lived, what they were enjoying. With each gift came the story of their adventure or their reason for choosing just that perfect one.  It became my way of connecting with and reliving the stories of those I enjoy most.  They are all displayed prominently in my home and admired, their stories have become a part of my story.

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The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you canNeil Gaiman Whatever form or forms it takes, your incredibly delicious pea soup, the level in Jiu Jitsu you’ve attained and are fostering in your children, the people you’ve learned you’ve touched recently at your retirement party, your acting, your music, your sense of style and sarcasm, anything that represents you the way you want to be represented should be celebrated as the story that is you.



Car Hag’s Brunch 2016

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What happens when you put a dozen women from the car business in a room, add mimosa, bloody mary, wine and enough savory and sweet nibbles to thwart inebriation? The dam breaks, it all comes out, every story and situation that has happened over the last year spills into the room with laughter loud enough to move the Richter scale.

To be correct we are women in the automotive industry but nobody calls it that… let’s face it it’s the car business. And we have be aptly named car hags by one of the funniest and inclusive men that was ever in the car business. He was generous with his knowledge when men were still calling us Hon (men still call us Hon) giving us the secrets of the trade, letting us in on the real deal and telling us how to get around “the boys”.

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The percentage of women in the car business is still pretty small but seated around the table were CFO, Team Leads, Inventory Manager, General Sales Manager, Area Manager, IT Manager, Marketing Event Planner, Center Development Coordinator, Customer Relations, Service Department Expert and Center Assistance Manager from both the regional and dealer level. These dozen women brought to the table experience from the last forty years…we have seen it all.

Here’s what we’ve learned:

When conducting a meeting do it from the head of the table.

Learn to use the word “careful” when looking to stop an errant 24 year old from calling you Hon.

Insist that your time be respected as valuable.

Work as hard as the men, but smarter.

When trying to explain something start with the word “perhaps” instead of going with your first impulse to slap…

If you must slap, slap them so hard (verbally that is we don’t have access to bail money) they think they got a kiss.

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When all else fails, call another car hag. We have no twelve step program, we have no formal association, and we have no rules or guidelines. What we have is shared experience, incredible depth and breadth of knowledge and a willingness to help a sista out of a situation. If not for this tribe, women in the car business would still be getting coffee and getting their asses slapped. We might never rid the industry of the word Hon but we can certainly “identify and discuss” the offenders to the point where their ears are ringing off their heads.

Hopefully as we move forward there will be more and more women identifying themselves as car hags, I know the name’s not pretty and many have tried to change it but it’s strong and able. In an industry still so heavily dominated by men we owe it to ourselves to put our hands out to each other to assist and uplift rather than demean and compete with each other.

My time in the car business is nearing a close. As I get closer and closer to retirement I know like I know that I will remain a car hag well into my old age and will do everything I can to insure there is a safe place for the others to vent and share and keep this time honored alliance going.