I Believe

Every once and a while I do a cookie drop and have an experience that leaves an imprint on my heart.  It’s like it’s almost painful to keep it in and not share its profound impact on me with the world.

I did a cookie drop at Runway Tire the other day.  You probably haven’t heard of it; it’s all the way up on 19th Ave and 42nd Street, practically as close to the water as you can get in Astoria.  I met some hardworking gentlemen there, including the owner, Anthony Germano.  I had meant to go pick up my plate the Monday before Thanksgiving, but got swept away with holiday travel preparations and didn’t make it there until the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

I always feel a little sheepish when I don’t return for a plate when I say I am going to.  That’s one of the many things I’m resolving to do better in 2016.  So, as I walked in, I carried a touch of embarrassment for not having been in sooner.  Anthony recognized me and said, “We’ve been waiting for you!” and went to grab a bag on top of a vending machine in the back of the front room.  He told me he took the cookies home to his family and his kids and wife had loved them, looked me up online and that he wife loves joyful, happy things like my project and so they wanted to do something nice for me.  And here was my plate, wrapped in cellophane with a small gift bag and a card with my name written in cheerful bold purple block letters.  I was pretty surprised and very appreciative of the gesture.  We chatted a little bit about the history of Runway Tires, I learned that he took over the business from his father and started working there when he was 17 after his dad went in for open heart surgery, I thanked him for the gift and headed back home.

I tried to take pictures of the beautiful package when I got home, but my phone is so woefully full that it wouldn’t take.  In retrospect, I’m a little glad I didn’t document the hell out of this.  I savored unwrapping the ribbon holding it the cellophane together, reading the card and its heartfelt words, gingerly taking out the tissue paper from the gift bag.  In the bottom was a small Alex & Ani box.  The irony in that is that I had just told my family what I wanted for Christmas just a few days before – an Alex & Ani bracelet.  Inside the box was a Kindred Cord; a small charm that says “Journey Blessing Grace” on a delicate black cord with a blessing of Godspeed.  I have been shown incredible kindness and generosity in my day, but something about this struck me differently.  Sure, I give every week.  I bake cookies and a share goodness with those around me.  But the Germano family went to the store with me in their minds and hearts, and picked out something for me specifically.  With intention.

I left my apartment shorty after that to head into school to teach some lessons feeling humbled and uplifted and touched beyond words.  For the rest of the evening, I kept looking at that black cord on my wrist, knowing only I knew the story behind it, and feeling touched I had been thought of, and by people I didn’t even know.  I woke up the next day, still wearing it, feeling the same way.  My secret badge of honor; that I did something good for someone.  Somehow wearing it felt life armor against anything bad life might throw at me.

I taught differently that day.  I love my job and rarely have a bad day.  I’m blessed with great students, and I feel I’m doing good work with each one of them.  As I saw student after student, I was truly glad to see everyone of them, and connected.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m always happy to be at Turtle Bay and making music, but something felt different.  Something inside me had shifted.  I could see it in the way my students responded to me and our work.

Then my 12 o’clock came in.  This woman, let’s call her M, is a delight.  She is always game for a new Italian art song or aria, loves Pavarotti, and often gives me a rundown and review on the latest performance she’s seen at Carnegie Hall or Lincoln Center.  She’s made great strides since we started working together, but refuses to believe me.  She told me a few weeks ago, “I know I’ll never be a professional musician, but music for me is hope.”

M came in and I greeted her warmly, asked how she was doing, as the last time I had seen her, she was battling that wicked fall cold that everyone seemed to get.  She was settling in and setting her stuff down and said as good as could be expected.  She then turned, straightened, and told me that her mother had died on Saturday.

She told me it was everything you could hope for, a good thing for her mother, and shared some intimate details of their last conversation.  I told her if she wanted to not sing today we can reschedule, and please, take care of yourself first.  With pleading eyes, she asked me if we could spend the lesson vocalizing for a bit and then she could go home.  That this had been something she wanted to do and was looking forward to.  45 minutes of singing with me.

She sang beautifully that day and I cried when she left.

The cornerstone of Single Girl Cookies is kindness, kindness with intent, and kindness because you never know what someone is going through.  You can never know your impact on someone, so be kind to all, always.  I didn’t realize what our lessons meant to my student, and the Germano family has no idea how special that simple black corded bracelet is to me.  In my mind, these two events are linked, and the two parties aren’t even aware of the others’ existence.

In the midst of San Bernardino, and Planned Parenthood, and Paris, and too many other tragedies to mention, it’s so easy to lose sight of the good in people.  But I still believe we are all good on the inside.  Kindness and light will prevail, but it has to start somewhere.  It has to start with you.  We can’t let our humanity slip away in a river of violence or anger or disappointment.  You have to believe that there is good left in us.  That there is hope in the darkness.  That kindness does make a difference.  It’s there in the little everyday gestures that may be meaningless to you, but may mean the world to someone else.

That difference has to start with you.  That difference is you.

I believe.  Do you?



60 Beans Kitchen & Coffee: A New Experience

Last night I was lucky enough to attend the soft opening of 60 Beans Coffee and Tea’s brand new kitchen, now 60 Beans Kitchen and Coffee.  It was like being at an Astoria movers and shakers convention (yes, I am proud to call myself part of the category).  I saw many familiar faces of Astorians I’ve had the pleasure to get to know over my years as Single Girl (Queen of Astoria, The Brass Owl, Astoria Bookshop), and got to know a few more (A Story of Astoria).  I brought my bestie Amanda, the mastermind behind the upcoming Zymurgy Sessions (more info on that soon!), and we feasted.

We sat in the back where the comfy couches used to be, now filled with cherry and walnut two tops.  The tables themselves are beautiful, handcrafted by the architect, and continue to lend a homey, inviting feel to the space.  The fire place was going, the lighting was dim but not dark, the music muted and hip – in short, my perfect atmosphere.

Now, you may recall I had my soft opening at 60 Beans on Valentine’s Day this year, nearly selling out of all my goodies.  They were the first to take a chance on Single Girl the business and I’m forever grateful to owners Claudia and Peter for that.  Through that experience of selling SGC at 60 Beans and generally being a patron, I had a pretty good idea of what I was in for last night, and I knew it would be quality above all else.  I was not disappointed.

Salted Cod Croquettes

We started with the chicken liver pâté, salt cod croquettes and bitter greens salad.  The pâté was whipped, topped with whole grain mustard and presented with hearty toast, raisin chutney and housemade pickles.  I don’t have a bad thing to say about anything I had last night, but there were some clear stand outs to me and this was one of them.  The texture and light tang of the mustard as you spread the rich and flavorful pate on your toast was equally complemented by both the chutney and accompanying pickles.  The bitter greens salad was a favorite of Amanda’s, with the smoked croutons (what the what??) balancing out the sharp anchovy vinaigrette.  That is definitely another of my favorites and something I would urge you to try.

Chicken Liver Pâté

We moved on to the next course, Amanda having the mussels and me having the rigatoni.  I don’t eat mussels, but I soaked a bit of bread in the sauce.  It has the right amount of flavor and heat for me, and if I ate mussels, I’d imagine I’d love that part too.

You may think my choice of pasta at a new opening is a little basic.  And rigatoni at that!  Come on, you’re thinking, you can make that at home.  Be adventurous!  Try something new!  That’s all well and good, but when you have a chance to devour and enjoy an entire plate of homemade rigatoni with lamb Bolognese, you take it.  In fact, all their pastas are housemade and would make any Nonna proud.  All of this was accompanied by the charred kale sprouts – do you even know what a kale sprout is?  I didn’t.   Luckily, I was able to talk with Chef Domenick Gianfrancesco and Sous-Chef Pablo Nealon after the meal and ask them all my questions (and compliment them, of course).  A kale sprout is similar to a Brussels sprout in flavor, and is essentially a baby kale plant before it grows into what we know as kale.  It is exactly what its name implies – it is a kale sprout!  The only thing you need to know is that it is delicious and you need to order it.

We followed up with the young chicken entree.  Again, you may think, “Chicken?  Isn’t that a little basic?”, and again I will say you have to try it.  The chicken is brined and is full of flavor and sits atop parsnip puree and roasted root vegetables.  I ate a carrot and literally thought, “I didn’t know carrots could taste like that!”.

At this point, I had to put down my fork.  Sweets are a priority for me and I wanted to be sure I had room for dessert and a latte.  I am so glad I did!

Latte, Cheesecake with Apricot, Salted Caramel Custard

If my descriptions haven’t made you salivate yet and change your dinner plans to be dining here (they officially open tonight!), I say only this: salted caramel custard.  SALTED CARAMEL CUSTARD.  This was the absolute winner of my night and a must-try for anyone stepping foot in there.  Even if you stop in just for dessert and a glass of dessert wine from their extensive menu, get this.  You will thank me later.  I mean, is anyone really surprised that my takeaway favorite is a dessert offering?  I think not.

Salted Caramel Custard

I know there are still some menu tweaks happening, so while I can’t guarantee everything I ate last night will be exactly the same tonight, I can guarantee that the quality of experience will be.  I’m pretty sure the menu will be somewhat seasonal and subject to the best ingredients available at that time.  Again, are we surprised by the commitment to excellence?  I think not.

They’ll be open for regular coffee shop hours today until 5pm with dinner service starting at 5:30pm.  No worries though – you can still stop in for your post-work/pre-evening latte anytime until closing.

Congratulations to 60 Beans Kitchen and Coffee on their new venture!  Can’t wait to be back here again soon, supporting my locals and perpetuating the good 🙂

Tell Me Something Good

We all need outside validation from time to time.  To be told you’re good at your job, to be given a pat on the back for making the right call, or just to be sincerely told, “I love you”.  But the main source of our validation should come from within.  If you rely solely or mainly on outside sources to lift you up, you’ll find yourself in a terrible cycle, and it goes like this.  It starts with a high from that compliment or praise, which is exactly how we all feel when complimented, and rightly so.  But then like any rush, it subsides.  Without that source of validation that should live within, we crash.  Sound familiar?

Social media makes it easy to seek outside validation, easy to be caught up in the cycle of chasing that high, and easy to disappointed.  How many likes, hits, comments, you get on your content become a measuring stick for your own self worth, and if the numbers are low, well, then so are you.

Today is my birthday.  Before today, I had been having a hard time with this number.  34.  I am officially in my mid-thirties, and before today, I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about it.  I’ve always had this nagging feeling like I’m constantly pulling the wool over people’s eyes and one day they’re going to find out my secret; that I’m not nearly as talented as they think, or that I’m making it up as I go along, and that all this time I’ve been fooling them into thinking I’ve got it under control.   I think we all feel that way from time to time, and I think that’s ok.  Nobody can be 110% all day, every day. Here’s the crux of it all though: when those thoughts come, that’s the time to draw from your inner pool of validation.  I think of it like this: Everyone has a well of water (validation).  You drink from yours, everyone else drinks from theirs, and often times you give or accept drinks from other wells.  That’s great and fine, because you’re tending to your own and being satiated by the water from it.  But if you’re slaking your thirst by drinking from everyone else’s well, you’ll come back to your own and find it is dry.  It hasn’t been tended to.

Why is it so important to be able to validate yourself, you ask?  Maybe you’re having a bad day because you made a major blunder at work, or aren’t getting along with your friend/partner/family, or just have general doubts that you can’t seem to shake.  Those are the days when I need my inner validation the most.  Yes, maybe I did make a mistake, but that doesn’t mean I’m not still smart and intelligent.  Maybe I’m not sure if I made the right choice of words with a colleague or friend, but that doesn’t mean I’m worthless.  All it means is that I’m human, and so are you.  And maybe you’re not getting the outside validation you think you need or deserve, but that doesn’t mean that the people surrounding don’t still think you’re grand.

So bring on 34, and thank you ALL for the birthday well wishes.  It’s amazing (overwhelming) to me how people in your life come out of the woodwork to share their thankfulness of your existence.  I am just as thankful for each one of their presence in my life.  And tomorrow when it’s just another day, I’ll still be buoyed those wishes.  It will help to push me in the right, positive direction for my coming year.  And in this year, I welcome every flaw, wrinkle, blunder, and stumble.  Each one of those gives me an opportunity to learn more about myself and gives me a chance to continue to fill up my inner pool of validation.  Cause I’m awesome and so are you 🙂

Apple Pie Bars

It’s the most wonderful tiiiiiiiiiiime of the yeeeeaaaaarr!!!  No, not Christmas, although I do love the holiday season (and can’t seem to escape the preemptive Christmas decorations EVERYWHERE) but I’m talking about fall!  You know it’s my absolute favorite time of the year, and this year has been no different.  Say what you want about New York weather being fickle, but I’ve enjoyed having a mix of warm days and chill, crisp air days.  Even the warmer days have allowed for my baking to go crazy because I’m no longer sweating it out in my apartment!

I posted about my bacon fat gingersnaps earlier this fall, also about my vanilla cupcakes that are so popular and delicious, and now it’s time to post about my amazing apple pie bars.  Apple pie bars, you say?  Does that mean like, an apple pie in bar form?  That I can hold in my hand and deliver directly to my mouth??  YES.  That is exactly what I mean.


I developed this recipe as I was fiddling around with ice cream sandwich ideas for my featured dessert spot at The Queens Kickshaw.  I tried a few ice cream pairings that I didn’t love until I put together one made from my almond sugar cookies and apple pie ice cream that I made by blending apple pie filling and vanilla ice cream together.  My mother had made a similar apple pie dessert in non-pie form that day, which got me thinking about how to get an apple pie that you can hold in your hand that doesn’t come from McDonald’s or 7-11.  The ice cream sandwich was killing it at being delicious, but I wanted to be able to pick up a piece of pie.  The almond sugar cookie mixed well with the apple pie flavor, so I thought I’d go in that direction instead of a traditional pie crust.  I settled on a shortbread bottom and crumb topping with all that cinnamony goodness in the middle and have never looked back!


I’ve now made these three times in less than 14 days and every person I have shared them with has declared them amazing.  When you get 36 little squares out of every batch, that’s a lot of people!  I guarantee these will wow your guests or hosts at the next party you attend this holiday season, and will quickly become your favorite go-to dessert.

Apple Pie Bars

Ingredients for Filling:
5 pounds of apples   *I like using honeycrisp
1 cup of sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cornstarch
2 to 3 tbsp water of apple cider
squeeze of lemon

Extras: Dashes of ginger/nutmeg/cloves/all spice.  If you’ve got’em, throw’em in, if that’s what you like.  Or if you have a recipe for filling that you like for your apple pies, use that.

Peel, core and chop apples into small chunks. Combine all ingredients in a pot and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until apples are soft and cooked.  I like super small chunks in my apple pie bars so I go through and use a dough cutter to help break them up even further.  I also like doing this step the night before.  It makes putting it all together tomorrow really easy and then I get to multitask and smell that delicious apple pie smell in my house while I’m working!


Ingredients for Shortbread:
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks)
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups flour

Ingredients for Crumb Topping:
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour

First preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Put all the ingredients for your shortbread crust in a medium sized bowl.  Use your dough cutter to mix and blend the ingredients.


Once you start seeing pea sized chunks of butter, I get right in there and mix with my hands to make sure everything is truly blended.


Press your dough into the bottom of a 9×9 pan.


No need to grease; there is plenty of butter in the shortbread already.  Take out your pre-made apple pie filling and pour that evenly over the shortbread.


Using the same bowl you used for the dough (I like to save on dishes), mix the ingredients for the crumb topping with your dough cutter, but stop while you still have sizeable chunks of butter left.  Evenly sprinkle that on top of the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes at 350.  The filling should be bubbling around the edges when you do. Let cool completely before cutting, and better yet, let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours before cutting.  It slices cleaner and sets up better.  Cut into 9 squares to remove it from the pan, then I cut each square into quarters.  You may think they look small, but these babies pack quite a punch.  Those bite sized squares are the perfect size to pick up, and go a long way at a party.  And you can then have two or three of them.  Or three or four.  Or six.  I’m not here to judge. 🙂


Everyone has loved these so much that I’m looking to get them in a few places around the neighborhood, so if you aren’t a baker or just don’t feel like making them, you can still get a taste of the season!  And as always, I love seeing photos and hearing stories of how your baking adventures went.  Tag me on Twitter, Insta or Facebook of your pics!  Happy baking!!

Bacon Fat Gingersnaps Recipe

Hey hey hey!  So I know that you all loved my recipe for vanilla cake and vanilla buttercream.  I took them to The Queens Kickshaw where I know they were appreciated, I ate a couple, and I know some of you went home and made this too.  This warms my heart to see such love being spread through baking, and gets me excited to, because I am working on Single Girl Cookies book!  Totally my own things, independent and not sold in any way, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a few years now. I believe i mentioned it before, then got sidetracked with life.  A collection of anecdotes, things I’ve learned along the way, and of course – RECIPES!

Today I want to share with you a really unique recipe that a friend sent to me from the New York Times for gingersnaps, but gingersnaps that call for bacon fat instead of any other fat such as butter or shortening.  Based on a traditional Swedish recipe, these do remind me of Christmas, not only for the ginger part ala gingerbread men, but for the fact that the only time i eat bacon anymore is when I’m home with my family and we are all gathered for breakfast, like at Christmas.  In fact the bacon fat I used for this very batch came from the last time i was home and my mom cooked pounds and pounds of bacon for all of us.  The very first time I made these, I cooked pounds and pounds of bacon and probably ate a pound in the process.  Needless to say, I was a little sick and my apartment smelled like bacon for a week. That being said, these cookies were worth it.


Bacon Fat Gingersnaps

3/4 cup bacon fat (It took me 2 lbs to get a full 3/4 cup)

1 cup sugar, plus extra for dusting

1/4 cup molasses

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

2 tsps baking soda (I might try less next time, like 1 1/2 tsps)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together, cover and put in fridge to chill for a few hours.  I left mine in all day while I was teaching voice lessons.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350.  While that is preheating, take the dough and roll into tablespoon size chunks.  Put your extra sugar in a small bowl and roll your doughballs around in there until covered.  Put them on your cookies sheet approximately 2 inches apart.  The original recipe calls for parchment paper or a Silpat or something – I’ve never used anything and never had a problem. You can now choose to flatten them for a flatter, crispier cookie or leave them as balls (like I did this time) which resulted in a thicker, chewier cookie.  Bake for approximately 10-12 minutes.


I like to dust mine with sugar (again) when I am finished, they just look so pretty that way.  Now share them with friends and neighbors and enjoy the love!


Original recipe courtesy of the New York Times here.

My Favorite Vanilla Cupcakes Recipe

When I was growing up, my mother would bake all the time. I mean, all the time.  That’s how our Famous Heitmann Cookies got to be so famous.  They went everywhere with us, to every function.  And if they didn’t, well…there was some hell raised, or at least a half-joking-but-not-really comment like, “What, no cookies this time??  Come to find out, my mother bakes as a form of stress relief.  That is how she unwinds after a long and stressful day.  Is it a coincidence that I recall a big spike in cookie making around my adolescent years?  I think not.

For me, baking has always been a fun thing to do, although not necessarily a stress reliever.  The dishes, the clean up, the having to have self control to not eat everything… you know how it goes.  But yesterday, I finally got how my mother feels about baking being stress relief.  I had just come from the post office in an attempt to retrieve some packages that I’d been waiting on.  I’d elaborate, but I’m sure I need to say no more – you’ve all been to the post office before.  When I got back home, the only thought in my head was “MAKE VANILLA CUPCAKES”.  So like any Single Girl that has her priorities straight, I made myself a nice ice cream sandwich, ate that, then got down to business. 🙂

A week or so ago, I posted a many-tweets-long recipe for vanilla cupcakes which is my go to recipe.  Along with that tweet, I promised to publish a blog post with the recipe in a concise format, not spread throughout 6 or 7 tweets, haha.  I love a good, rich vanilla anything – ice cream, cupcake, pastry, etc.  Vanilla often gets a bad rap for being bland, but before that, we had practically nothing!  Vanilla was an exotic spice at one time, and was used not only for food consumption, but also as a beauty product.  Women used to dab a bit of vanilla behind their ears when perfume was too expensive.


I found the base to this recipe on allrecipes.com and like I do with everything, I tweaked it a bit.  This recipe is the one I go to for making my cakes.  It s perfect on its own, does well with fun additions like fruit, sprinkles, or whatever else comes to mind.  It’s also SO super easy, and just as easy as making a box cake, yet a thousand times better.  Enjoy, happy baking!

Single Girl’s Go-To Vanilla Cake Recipe

1/2 cup butter (one stick)

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup whole milk/half and half/heavy cream

Mix the first four ingredients together, adding one at a time.  Because I’m a time saver (read: lazy and don’t want to wash extra dishes; but then again, I am saving water by not adding more dishes, so I’m also a doing good things for the planet!  Go me!) I don’t bother with mixing my dry ingredients in a separate bowl, especially when there are only two.  For this I put both of them on top of what’s already in the bowl, then I make sure I mix really well.  Now, for the last ingredient, I like to se whatever is richest on hand.  Today it was half a half.  I’ve used heavy cream (my favorite) and whole milk (also very good).  Mix that in, pour into 12 cupcake liners and bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes.  You can also use a 9 inch round pan and bake at 325 for about 25 minutes.  Ovens are so tricky, so it’s best to keep an eye on it and test when you think it may be done.  Your tester or knife should come out mostly clean when checking in the middle.

Let them cool and frost!  I like to use my buttercream on these, and the recipe is below.  This is a good thing to whip up while the cupcakes are cooling after you’ve done all your dishes.


Vanilla Buttercream

Half stick of butter (softened)

1 lb bag of confectioners sugar

3 or 4 teaspoons of vanilla (to taste)  I like mine strong

Sometimes I add a little bit of water to get things going when mixing.  Mix ingredients together and hope you don’t make too big of a mess!

And of course the last step is to share with friends and enjoy!  So easy, right?  Shoot me a message one any one of my social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) – I’d love to see photos of your finished creations and hear how your baking experiences went!


Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

We are in the throes of lazy summer. You feel it, I know you do.  It’s that odd blend of New York feels at this point – it’s August and we’re all hot as hell, but starting to feel that bite in the air telling us that fall is right around the corner.  We say things like, “There’s still almost a month until Labor Day!” and rush around to try to cram as much summer in as we can.  But on those days off, I feel like just being lazy in my air conditioned apartment instead of being ambitious and going to the beach.  And because it’s August, most days I literally do not know what day it is.  Given a moment of thought, I can usually come up with the day, but date?  Forget about it.

What I can tell you is I’ve had a few really awesome days that my brain lumps together as one moment in time experience, starting with my cookie drop on Thursday.  I finally, FINALLY made it to Advanced Radiological Imaging on Astoria Blvd and 30th Street.  I thought they closed at 5, but when I got there at 4:55, there was a waiting room full of people, one person at the window, me, then another woman walked in with her (assumed) son right after me to check in.  So I’m waiting there for the person n front of me to finish up and just as she does and I get to the window, something inside me compels me to say “Uh, you know what?  I”m going to let this woman behind me go first.  She’s clearly a patient and I’m going to take a moment, so…” and let this other woman and her son (let’s just assume it’s her son and go with that) step up to the window.

Have you ever been in a situation where as it’s happening, you are a little incredulous and think, how this would’ve been different if I didn’t just make that choice?  Sure, we’ve all been there.  Well, i watched this and thought, “Good thing I let her go first.  This poor guy’s gonna need a cookie after she gets done.” This woman proceeded to step up to the window and give this guy the biggest Attitude, and I mean attitude with a capital ‘A’.  First off, she assumed the little information she gave him was enough to find her.  He asked for the proper paperwork and she balked.  He finally found her in their system and she said, “See, you had it there, you just had to look for it.”  Strike one.  Really strike two because she approached him with an attitude.

So the kind gentleman at the window proceeds to type at his keyboard and try to get her and her son registered when he asks, “Do you speak Spanish?”  Now, to be fair to him, this woman had an discernible accent and could have been from a number of backgrounds.  It was also in a part of the neighborhood that I know has a high Hispanic population, and maybe based on her name?  I don’t know, but given that there is a high percentage of New Yorkers that speak Spanish as their first language, or are fluent in both Spanish and English, I thought it was a fair question.  And having been on the customer service on of things before, I would bet my life his question was asked in an attempt to make her experience easier and more pleasant.  She clearly did not think so.

Upon hearing those ‘oh-so-foul’ words, she recoiled and said, “What is it your business is I speak Spanish??  I don’t speak Spanish!!  It’s none of your business!  What does it matter!  I don’t speak Spanish!!  That’s none of your business!”  As my eyes darted around the room, I could tell I was not the only one there that thought, 1. This reaction was a bit much, and 2. Whoa.  Crazy Lady.

Strike Three.

She and her son step away to fill out whatever paperwork in needed and I step up to the window, cookies in hand, big smile on my face, and eyes wide from what I’ve just seen.  “Hi!” I said, “I think I’ve come at just the right time.  I’m here to deliver these cookies to you!”  And so I began making a connection.

Being that it is a medical office afterall, I didn’t want to take too much of anyone’s time, but didn’t want to drop and dash.  I found out the kind man’s name is Eddie and we had a novel’s length conversation with just our eyes about what just went down.  I gave him my spiel, the other ladies behind the window seemed pretty excited about the cookies, and I left feeling like some actual good had been done.

As I made my way to the N train, the full weight of what just happened hit me.  I had just witnessed karma in all her glory work right in front of my eyes, and instantaneously.  What had prompted me to let that nasty woman go ahead of me?  And I’m pretty sure I truly made Eddie’s day because I was there with a plate of cookies after he was berated, restoring his faith in the kindness of fellow human beings.  He had done the right thing, was kind to her, and did his job well, and was, in a way, rewarded with cookies.  And as quickly as I had that previous thought, I thought, “Holy shit.  Karma can just as easily go the other way.”  I think I experience a lot of goodness in my life because I do good.  Not to say that bad things don’t still happen, and believe me, they do.  But I truly believe good things happen to good people.

I have to tell you, the rest of my interactions with people in the customer service side of things that day were stellar.  I mean, above and beyond amazing.  I think people can read and feel my positive energy and react positively to it.  You may think I’m nuts, but try it for a day.  i dare you.  You will be rewarded in ways you never imagined.

Does anybody really know what time it is?  Does it really matter?  As long as you are doing the right thing, making the good choices, and living your life as best you can, I don’t think it does.  For now, I’m continuing to move forward, taking it one day at a time, and in my immediate future, that means finding out where Advanced Radiological Imaging will send me.  Stay tuned…

Who Loves You?

Good morning!
So, yesterday I found myself on the other end of kindness and consideration. I woke up in a bad mood (you know those days) and my Sunday commute was further hampered by the MTA (shocker, right?) and, in retrospect, I was pretty hungry. I was shown patience and kindness, which certainly smoothed my rough edges, made some beautiful music with some very bright and talented kids, and then I ate brunch at Cafe Lalo, which helped my hanger situation. But my question to you is this – when you’re in one of those bad moods, the kind you kinda want to stay in because ‘nobody’s gonna make me feel better cause I’m just mad so don’t even try! 😤’ (as read in an 8 y/o voice), how do you get out of it?  

Do you wallow in it and experience all the feelings until they dissipate on their own? That’s what I like to do, to the consternation of my mother. She’s a fixer, and when she’s people that are less than happy, does her best to try and fix it. Are you a fixer, but self focused? Like you can see that your bad mood is a little ridiculous and so you force positivity on yourself to dig out of the pit? Fake it ’til you make it is a real thing, scientifically legit. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201206/there-s-magic-in-your-smile) I’ve done that a time or two when I don’t have the luxury of being in a bad mood. Sometimes all it takes to lift my spirits is a song from my bank of Instant Happy Tunes, such as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons Who Loves You? The irony of listening to that song for that specific purpose is the lyric “It’s hard to make believe you’re happy when you’re gray”. 

I think however you do it, it’s important to recognize the consideration you receive while in it. Remember what that feels like when someone smiles at you through your funk. My reaction is sometimes more anger, like “don’t smile at me, can’t you see I’m mad?! 😤” Totally unreasonable, I know, but there is still a sliver of kindness realization that cuts through all of that. “Oh! Well that’s kind of them ☺️” and the positive reaction starts. It doesn’t have to be a smile. It can be that someone didn’t push the close door button on the elevator just as you were walking in the building, or didn’t get upset when you snapped at them. 

Consideration is a beautiful thing, and it’s important to remember what that feels like to receive that in the midst of a bad mood, so you can give it back to others you encounter when they are in the midst of theirs. If we were all measured by our faults in our worst moments, none of us would have any friends. Luckily, we aren’t robots and have access to empathy, kindness, and most importantly, forgiveness. 

So give that stomping man with the determined look on his face in the subway some room. Smile at the frustrated looking lady behind you in the very long line for coffee. Hold open the door for the frazzled person juggling too many things. And remember that we’re all just trying to find our ‘happy’, and that we’re all in this together. 


Oh, and one more thing – try eating a cookie. I’ve never had it not lift my spirits 😊

Like a Diamond

It seems silly to write a post about a picture, but I was looking at it earlier and couldn’t help but notice how burned and blackened this baking sheet is. 

I’m the world’s best dish doer (they’re not clean until they squeak) and this is as clean as these get. I can see where my apple pies bubbled over and burned, and the spots where I’ve made thousands of cookies. And I see myself in this cookie sheet. Not shiny and new, maybe a little banged up and scarred, but strengthened by trials and fire. And I’ll tell ya something else – this baking sheet bakes the best damn cookies. Not the new brand name one I have (and never use – it burns the bottoms of my cookies), but this one. 

So the next time you feel ‘less than’ shiny or brand new or wonder what you have to offer the world, think about this burnt, old baking sheet. It might not look like much, but it’s done a lot of good for a lot of people. 

Shine bright, my dears. 



Midnight Confessions

Why does inspiration strike so late for some?  And by late, I don’t mean being 80 and having your “blow-the-whole-game-wide-open” break through idea, I mean late in the day.  Or as most people call it, morning.  Without fail, the moment I lay my head on that pillow, I think of three things I meant to ask or say to various people in my life, 5 things I needs to and want to do tomorrow, and blog posts and lectures just come pouring into my head the way I’ve heard songs come to songwriters.  What am I supposed to do then?  Do I stop what is surely my brain’s way of unloading so i can get some restorative sleep to cram more things in there tomorrow so i can try to grab hold on something, or do I hope and pray that I remember something tomorrow and will myself to sleep?  Inevitably, I do the latter; the idea of getting up is less than appealing for this sleepaholic.

Last night’s continual thought was “Man, I can’t believe how good it feels too blog again!” and “What should I write about for my next one??”  I woke up and that theme was still with me.  I figure if something is still floating in my brain the next day, it must be worth remembering or acting upon.  And the more I thought about content, the more i became overwhelmed with the many, many stories I have yet to tell you about my adventures this year.  My trip to the Astoria Historical Society where my friend Bob told me stories I’d never heard about this place I love.  Or my fantastic evening at Cafe Ole and what it really means to be ‘family run’.  You should make a reservation there for a date night, btw, but only if you love great food, fresh cocktails, excellent service and the feeling like you’re not in NYC anymore.  It’s a place where cell phones never make it to the table.

For me, blogging is partially about the content, of course.  I’d hate to think i wasn’t contributing something at least positive or beneficial to the vast galaxy of the interwebs.  At the end of the day though, it’s about connection for me.  To feel like I’m connecting with souls that normally might be outside the reach of my life’s net that’s been cast.

The last few places I’ve visited have exemplified that connection and sense of mingling and intertwining red threads; The Let Love Inn, The Bonnie, and tomorrow Singlecut Beersmiths.  My return visit to The Let Love Inn made me two new friends, Walter and Jessica.  It started when Jessica passed me an open box of Girl Scout Samoas and said, “Would you like a cookie?  I’m giving them away for smiles.”  Good thing I wasn’t taking a sip of my drink (Dirty Brunette – bitter, refreshing, worth a try) or I may have spit it out!  I got all excited and said, That’s what I do!!  and told her the story of Single Girl Cookies.  She was amazed, loved the idea, told me she had just bought these cookies on the corner and thought, let’s share them at the bar – everybody likes cookies!  You can imagine the conversation ran from there.  Her boyfriend (I think), Walter, was a friendly guy and when i asked him his story, he told me how he ended up in Astoria, which included a degree from an upstate college.  One my bff graduated from and I had visited a few times.  Turns out they went to school together and he even knew some people from Penn Yan!  As big as this city is, any rando you pass on the street just may be your three-doors-down neighbor you never knew from your hometown.

They also told me about the Astoria Kickball Association.  “Whaaaa????”, you say?  Astoria had a kickball league??  For ADULTS???  Yes kids, it’s true!  I joined the Facebook group to get the info, and from what i can understand, they play pick up games in the park then grab drinks afterwards.  If that doesn’t sound like a best possible version of a Sunday afternoon, then I don’t want to know you.  😛

The Let Love Inn’s recommendation was their neighbor down the street, The Bonnie.  The Bonnie, as you may know, is the newest addition to a great group of restaurants all owned by the same group of folks (If i have my info right) – Wilfie & Nell, The Wren, The Penrose, Sweet Afton, and now The Bonnie.  Unsurprisingly, I had an equally entertaining and interesting evening at The Bonnie at I did at The Let Love Inn.  This time I decided to stay and have a drink and some fried pickles on my drop night, which I almost never do.  The staying on a drop night, not the fried pickles.  I always do the fried pickles 🙂

In the span of two hours, I met a woman who is starting a small business that promotes kindness, had a chat with the bartender Chris, who when I asked him his story, he said, “I’m an Irish bartender in New York.” and gave me a wry look that said, what else is there to say??  I also had a conversation with a young school psychologist that used to live in NYC but now work in New Hampshire.  Our topic (and his school platform): gender neutral bathrooms for transgender students.

And don’t even get me started on the thousands of characters and friends and brilliant people I’ve met at Singlecut Beersmiths over the years!  I’m really looking forward to heading there in a “professional capacity” tomorrow.  Who knows, maybe I’ll meet another potential new friend!  Well, I like to think of everyone as a potential new friend, hehe. I’m a glass half full kinda girl, what can I say?

As for my thoughts that bubble up at night and persist and nag until I do something about them?  They are there, in my brain, just waiting to be thought during the rest of my wakefulness.  Connection works that way too.  There are hundreds of possible connections out there, just waiting to be latched onto, the moment you decide to plug in to the rest of the world.  Take advantage of it.  Smile at that person on the subway, strike up a conversation with your elevator mate.  Connect.