Quote of the Week: John Adams

“Posterity!
You will never know, how much it cost the present generation, to preserve your freedom!
I hope you will make a good use of it.
If you do not, I shall repent in heaven, that I ever took half the pains to preserve it.”

~ John Adams

Thinking about the presidential election has occupied way too much of my thoughts. Especially over the last couple of months. And the last couple of weeks. But how can I not think about it?

At the end of September, I visited Peacefield, which is part of the national park system and the historic home of John Adams and John Quincy Adams. It’s not even a ten minute drive from my house, so one day when I was feeling especially distressed, I decided to visit the garden. I walked around and then sat for a bit. Looking at the old house.

And then I prayed. Prayed to the spirits of those presidents to protect this country and keep our democracy. When John Adams spoke of posterity in the quote above, I took it personally. Posterity included me and he was thinking about me and the people in this time.

If these former presidents had any kind of pull with the election, I figured that going to their former home might be enough to get my prayers over to the other side. Autumn is said to be the time when the veil between life and death is thinnest, so I might as well take advantage of the season.

I looked at the magnificent tree in the garden and wondered about all that it has lived through. How long had it been there? Did its roots begin back when these presidents were alive? Did they sit and admire it too?

Joe Biden won the election, but our current president is doing everything to prevent a peaceful transfer of power. He has no respect for democracy. He has no respect for anything. I fear for our nation.

It’s been about three weeks since I last blogged, which is far less than normal. I’ve been waiting for something definitive to write about and to feel less stress about the democratic process. But the stress is still here. When I’m upset, sometimes I stop writing. But that’s the time that I need to write even more.

So I’m writing. But like with the pandemic, we are stuck in the in between. Waiting for the inauguration in January when Biden’s presidency will be real. Waiting for the vaccine, so we can start a new normal way of life without the virus. Just waiting.

Until then, I’ll write for the future. One day, months or years from now, I’ll look back at this post and feel grateful that this period in time is over and our country is still standing. And hopefully John Adams does not regret the pains he took.

Snow Season Begins

first snow of the season

Unbelievable. The day before Halloween and we’ve already had a real snowfall. More than three inches in the Boston area! There are still colorful leaves on the trees! I’m not a fan of winter or snow. But there’s no fighting Mother Nature, so all we can do is settle in and accept the change in season.

Daylight Savings Time ends tomorrow and we turn the clocks back. Now it will be dark at 5pm. These colder months are the season for turning inward and reflecting, while we stay indoors more as well.

For me, appreciating the change in season is a deliberate practice that I’ve cultivated over the past couple of years. Over a year, I noted what was special about each month. Because each month has its merits. Without winter, we can’t get to spring and summer. Below is part of what I wrote about October.

A cup of hot tea.

Looking out a window at the sky.

The sparks and crackle of an outdoor fire

that warms your hands

and smoke that smells like memories.

The Best Of New England

New England scene showing pumpkins and a field with haystacks

My mom and I recently went to a farm stand. It was so perfectly New England in late summer moving into fall. The pumpkins, stacks of hay, freshly picked vegetables and fruits remind me of the beauty in Massachusetts.

Given the levels of trauma and sadness happening in this country on a daily basis, any degree of serenity and peace I can find is a much needed gift. So with this roundup post, I’m celebrating some the best of things in New England.

Best Drive-In Movies

Going to drive-in movies is a thing again because of the pandemic. I remember going a few times when I was very young and having a blast. Fodor’s Travel lists ten of the best drive-in movie theaters around the country and three of them are in New England. With chilly weather here, it’s the perfect social distanced activity.

#3 Sunset Drive-In – Colchester, VT

#2 Mansfield Drive-In – Mansfield, CT

#1 Wellfleet Drive-In Theater – Wellflett, MA

Best Places To Live

As a third generation New Englander, I’m definitely biased, but there are many good things about living here. People travel here from all over the world to attend school. Whether you love ’em or hate ’em, our sports teams are some of the best. We have world class hospitals and medical care, which is especially important right now. Five places in New England made Money magazine’s list of the 50 best places to live in America.

#37  Salem, NH

#28  Chesire, CT

#26  Braintree, MA

#14  Chelmsford, MA

#12  South Windsor, CT

Best Craft Distilleries

Rhode Island Spirits, located in Pawtucket, came in third in USA Today’s list of the ten best new craft distilleries.  They sell organic and gluten free gins, vodkas and liqueurs. This reminds me of the great time I had touring a rum distillery with my father.

Best Pizza

The Daily Meal recently declared the top 101 pizza places in the United States. Several New England pizza places made the cut. Connecticut has the most places on the list of the New England states and beats the entire country with the number one spot. Mystic Pizza is arguably Connecticut’s most well-know pizzeria and the movie by the same name helped launch Julia Robert into stardom. Back in January 2019, Playbill wrote that Melissa Etheridge was working on the score to a stage adaptation of the movie. Despite the fame of the pizza shop, it’s not on the list.

#90 Micucci Grocery – Portland, ME

#86 Slab – Portland, ME

#67 Al Forno, Providence, RI

#47 BAR – New Haven, CT

#45 Zuppardi’s Apizza – West Haven, CT

#43 Colony Grill – Stamford, CT

#40 Tilton House of Pizza – Tilton, NH

#25 Galleria Umberto – Boston, MA

#16 Modern Apizza – New Haven, CT

#9 Sally’s Apizza– New Haven, CT

#7 Santarpio’s – East Boston, MA

#1 Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana – New Haven, CT

Best Scents

I can’t claim that these are the best scented candles, but I like the idea of them. The brand is called Homesick and the scents are supposed to remind you of a place.

Scent is a big thing for me, so I was thrilled when I was invited to take a smell walk in Boston. That walk focused on scent was one of the coolest things that I’ve done as a blogger.

The Boston candle is described as “Fall days spent wandering the cobblestone streets. Notes of spiced tea with clove and orange capture the City on a Hill.”

There are a few more city candles and state candles too. I think these would make a great gift. To wind up this roundup, here are the descriptions of the scents for each of the New England states.

Connecticut: “Warm-baked pies fragrant of nutmeg, clove and lemon. Eucalyptus and oakmoss evoke memories of brisk fall afternoons spent outside.”

Maine: “Reminiscent of wild Maine blueberries and lavender fields. Woody notes of cedarwood and patchouli balanced with a floral bouquet.”

Massachusetts: “Apple cider, simmering coffee, and just-baked donuts. Sweet hints of tonka bean are balanced by spicy cinnamon and a touch of fragrant clove.”

New Hampshire: “Cozy up with a cup of hot apple cider. Autumn days spent outside with views of foliage and the sweet smell of vanilla in the air.”

Rhode Island: “An afternoon on the Cliff Walk with hot apple cider and cozy sweaters to keep warm. The rolling tides carry the sweet and spicy scents of fall.”

Vermont: “Vibrant foliage covers the rolling hills of the Green Mountain State. Scents of cinnamon and apple pie blend with decadent maple syrup.”

What do you think? Do these scents represent the best of New England? And just because you might like it, here’s a cider donut locator. It doesn’t get much more New England than that.

Massachusetts License Plate MV 1

Massachusetts License Plate MV 1

If you’re driving around on the roads of New England, you might want to lookout for Massachusetts license plate MV 1.

What is it about us in the Bay State, that makes us obsessed with low number license plates? I’ve never had one, but always notice them and wonder about the owners. These plates are prized family heirlooms passed from one generation to the next.

Well, apparently the generation passing didn’t happen for the MV 1 license plate. Because this past Sunday, some lucky person bought it. The Vineyard Gazette reports that it was purchased via live auction for $46,500.00.

Celebrities are no strangers to the Vineyard and Seth Meyers, who was visiting with family, hosted the Zoom event. He joked that the winner of the plate would still need to make a ferry reservation and that motorists should acknowledge them.

Be sure to say thank you — maybe two polite honks. But this is New England . . . so if they cut you off, feel free to give them the middle finger.

Most of the proceeds go to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, so the money raised will do a lot of good, which I had no idea until now. It’s nice to know that these vanity plates benefit people in need.

So if you play the license plate game, you might want to add a twist and focus on low number plates.

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Image: Possible Dreams 2020

Holiday Dessert Roundup: Mincemeat Pie

Mince pie cut in half with background blur.
Photo Credit: By Jonathan Farber on Unsplash

From my last few posts, it’s clear that I love holiday sweets. Gingerbread is a holiday staple and eggnog might be my favorite holiday treat. But there’s another one that I haven’t written about — mincemeat pie.

First, let me clarify. Most mincemeat pies do NOT have meat in them. They are made with dried fruits and spices. While we call them mincemeat in New England, apparently in most other places, they’re called mince.

Personally, I’ve never made a mincemeat pie. One of my mom’s sisters, is the pie maker for our holiday meals and we are often blessed with one of her mincemeat pies. After a brief Twitter exchange with someone, I realized that not all families are so blessed! We had one for Thanksgiving and I’m hopeful for Christmas too! Served warm with vanilla ice cream, it’s a carousel of delicious flavors and textures.

I started wondering if enjoying mincemeat pies is more of a regional thing. The pie does have its roots in England. Growing up in New England may have skewed my views. Although for a period of time, Connecticut banned mincemeat pies. Those Puritans were no joke.

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Mincemeat pie is a holiday treat that has been enjoyed by many for a very long time, according to a recent article on Haiwatha World.

Mincemeat pie finds its roots in the 11th century — the Crusades, to be more precise. Returning crusaders brought back valuable spices — cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg — from the Holy Land, and these three spices were used to season a special “Christmas pie,” to represent the three gifts of the Magi to the infant Jesus Christ. Christmas pies were small, and could be eaten in a few bites. These pies were made in an oblong shape to resemble a cradle, and space was left for a Christ child figure to be placed on top. (The figure was removed before eating.) It was considered to be lucky to eat one Christmas pie for each of the twelve days of Christmas, between December 25 and Epiphany, January 6. The mincemeat filling of these pies was indeed almost entirely meat, but cooked with rum and spices, which acted as a preservative, as well as giving it its distinctive flavor.

With my increasing interest in all things mincemeat pie, I decided to do some additional research on the latest news and have assembled a roundup for your (and my) holiday reading pleasure. Enjoy!

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– Here’s a recipe for a boozy Baileys mince pie.

– Selfridges was selling a mini mince pie advent calendar.

Mince pie filled cookies are a thing!

– A mince pie sandwich is also a thing.

– Is mince pie flavored popcorn going too far?!

– Caffè Nero is offering mince pies in the UK for the Christmas season, but not in the US.  Not even in New England.

– Here’s a recipe for mincemeat crumble cake.

– The Helen M. Kelly Memorial Mince Pie has been in this family’s fridge since 1988.

Mince pie bao buns are for sale on Amazon Fresh UK.

– Parenthood won the best Thanksgiving TV dinner and the mincemeat pie had a lot to do with it.

– Grocery story Lidl has mince pie ice cream!

– A Dublin restaurant took the meat part of mincemeat too literally for Professor Darryl Jones.

– An American website had a similar meat problem with its mincemeat pie recipe.

– Try Queen Elizabeth’s royal recipe for mince pie. No meat included!

– If you’re ready to go absolutely medieval, try this mincemeat pie recipe that includes pork shoulder roast and bacon.

– And guess who has never tried mincemeat pie? I apologize in advance.