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Wednesday, November 30, 2016


The word was out that Drew Bledsoe was sampling his wine at Whole Foods in Lynnfield tonight.  So hoping to taste some Doubleback or Bledsoe Family Wine I headed to Whole Foods after work.  I've developed a love of west coast wines since my trip to Sonoma.  Some of the best Pinot Noirs and Zinfandels are made in Sonoma.  Clean and smooth.  Okay...I don't know the wine lingo or anything but I do now what I like.

The turnout at Whole Foods was enormous...from the back of the café into the cheese section.  Unfortunately there was no wine left for sampling.  Drew was signing autographs including wine bottles but that just isn't my thing.  I was there for the wine. 

I did manage to catch a couple of photos.  One was taken while standing outside in the rain; the other from inside the doorway.  Never mind about the one in the rain.  I swore it came out but apparently it did not.  I am left with one side view and no wine.

Pictures...I need you to leave you with some decent pictures.  Here are two from my walk in Lynn Woods.  BTW...I have never seen the reservoir so low.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


turned into so much more.

Because I promoted Small Business Saturday on this blog, I decided to spend the day living what I believe...small business makes communities more interesting and unique and are deserving of support. 

Once I got my ass moving which seems to take longer these days, I headed to Walnut Street Café for my Saturday iced coffee.  Man, the place was packed so I needed an alternative plan. 

Friday I drove by Pho Minh Ky on Union St.  I've had Pho but I wanted some really delicious unbelievable Pho.  Pho Minh Ky was on my mind all night.  Side note...if I get something in my head that is important or if it is something I want to do, it stays there until it is satisfied.   Think Paris!

11:00...I decided it was time to try Pho.  No one was there when I arrived but it quickly filled out with quite the diverse crowd.  The staff was great.  The Pho Ga was so so delicious.  The large is gigantic for $7.95.  There was plenty left over.  I can only imagine what the extra-large looks like. 

I walked by Treasures Too and peeked in...lots of interesting items but nothing for me. 

Back to Walnut Street for an iced coffee. 

Next stop was Eva's Organic Butcher Shop in Middleton. -

Today I am preparing a Thanksgiving at home and needed some additional items.

Eva's is owned by Roberto and Barrianne Alonzo.  Roberto was born and raised in Argentina.  His family were commercial butchers from whom he learned his trade.

The quality of their meat is top notch and locally sourced.  I have been going to their Middleton shop since just about when they opened.  It is still good but it doesn't have the same feel as it did before they open their shops in Beverly and Marblehead. 

For dessert, who could resist Jeni's ice cream. 

Pamplemousse in Reading carries her products.  Here we go...Middleton to Reading.

Jeni started a small business in Ohio which has grown into a national business.  Her ice cream is unique (can you say goat cheese and fig ice cream - my favorite), uses well sourced ingredients and is delicious.  Downside is that it is very expensive so I only buy it on special occasions.  Today, I didn't buy any.  Pamplemousse had one of my favorite chocolate wines for dessert...Trentadue Chocolate Amore.  SOLD!  They also had a specific wine for a special Christmas present. 

The best surprise of the day...was the music of Ian Maksim at the White Horse Coffee House.  Ian was born and raised in Russia...St. Petersburg to be exact. 

I have no words for how incredible his concert was.  The show was an add on at a very small venue.  The evening concert was sold out so a 4:00 show was added...lucky for me.

He style is very unique.  He started out with some classical music (Bach) progressed to some Russian, French, Balkan and Irish tunes.  Not only did he play the cello but he sang.  He sang in Russian, French and English.  The Russian ballads were beautifully haunting.  He performed some original music and music of Sting and BB King.  The clip below does not even begin to capture how amazing his music is.

When Ian performs in a community, he hires a local musician.  Last night Fabio Pirozzolo, originally from Italy, accompanied on percussion.  He also sang 3 southern Italian ballads and chants.  The songs were from 3 different cities and sung in the local dialect.  I fell in love with his music.

A clip of Fabio follows:

Ian and Fabio had never performed together prior to Saturday night.  It seemed like they had been together forever.

I went to the White Horse Coffee House hoping for a fun evening of music.  It ended up being an amazing experience that blew me away.  Who knew a cellist could be this talented and perform such a wide range of music?

Oh and the White House staff recommended a spectacular French wine.  The plan had been to go to April's after the show but a couple of glasses of wine and an appetizer did the trick. 

How lucky is it to live in a community where you can get Vietnamese Pho, go to an Argentinian butcher and then hear musicians from Russia and Italy.  Learning about and exploring different cultures makes a life worth living.

Friday, November 25, 2016


with some additional favorites...quick and dirty.

Lynn Museum -

They have an extensive gift shop.  I received a Fluff candle one year and it smelled great.  A bonus...Treasures Too Consignments and the Capital Diner are right across the street.

Some restaurants for a good lunch or Saturday night out. 

Just want to give a shout out for Pamplemmouse in Salem and Reading.  I prefer the Reading shop but Salem is good too.  Extensive selection for the wino or cook in you life.


The plan had been to offer a small business a day leading up to Small Business Saturday.  It didn't quite work out that way.  So this morning I went out and took some pictures of my favorite places.  Can you say suckola?  Yes, that is how most of the pictures looked.  Most looked like scrambled eggs.  Was it because I didn't have my glasses on while taking the pictures?  Quite possibly.  I have this habit of reading, writing and taking pictures without them.  The end result is usually ugly.

So what I have for you are pictures from the website of some of my favorite local small businesses.  It is the best I have to offer today.  Let me say...when I think small business Saturday, I don't just think Christmas shopping.  I think food, drink and entertainment...3 of my favorite things.  Regular shopping for stuff is not a favorite.

First up...

Bent Water Brewery -

I have just not been here enough.  Beer is great and it is a bring your own food kind of place.  They now have music, community events and open mic nights.  Tomorrow night One Dime Band is playing. 

My go to place for ice coffee and an occasional egg sandwich.  Today's coffee was toasted almond iced.  People seem to love their bagels and muffins. 

At night, they switch to alcohol and music.  Tomorrow night Molly Pinto Madigan is the headliner.  Music Starts at 8:30.  Check it out.

Land Of a Thousand Hills Coffee Company -

My Picture
Turns out this is not a local small business (There are 12 along the east coast) but they do have an interesting story.  They are new to Monroe St.

Drink Coffee Do Good
In April 1994, Rwanda (an African country half the size of the state of Maryland) experienced one of history's most atrocious genocides. In just 100 days, close to one million ethnic Tutsi and moderate Hutu sympathizers lost their lives to the hands of extremist Hutu militia.

The 1994 genocide that left so many innocent people either dead, orphaned, or widowed has now become a focal point of the global community. In the wake of civil war, Rwanda made a commitment to national restoration. The government called upon the church to lead the country in reconciliation and asked the outside world to support them as it looked to heal and eradicate poverty, disease, and illiteracy.

In 2005, Jonathan Golden, founder of Land of a Thousand Hills, recognized a simple and tangible opportunity to make a difference in the reconciliation of the Rwandan people. This realization led Golden to start a coffee company that pays a fair wage to the farmers of Rwanda, helps them with their basic needs, and brings a quality product to coffee lovers.

You can read the rest of the story here...

I tried their espresso and an iced cappuccino maple syrup drink which they were selling at the Artist Open House at the Lydia Pinkham building.  Their espresso was the best I've had.  The cappuccino was a little too sweet for my taste but the espresso taste came through. 

Their store front is on Monroe St. right across from the Food Project Garden.  I went to check it out.  Looks very interesting.  They have breakfast and lunch which I have not sampled.  Maybe tomorrow will be a good day to sample their breakfast.

Delicious brunch with excellent music in a very intimate location.  Tomorrow night Ian Maskin is playing a sold out show which starts at 8:00 but the good news is they've added a 4:00 concert. I have tickets.  Hope to see you there. 

I Did It Myself

Need some framing done?  This is the place to go.  I needed two pictures framed.  I've driven by the building on Ocean St. since I was a kid but didn't really know what they did.  I decided to check them out.  Sandi Watkins offered the best advice and worked within my price range.  Her simple suggestion that I add the date and location to my framed pictures from Rome made a huge difference.  Below is the first picture she did for me. 

First picture she framed.
  She also provides interesting conversation free of charge. 

Arts After Hours -

Plays, music and community gatherings are what Arts After Hours does best.  Their next event is Dec. 15.  Tomorrow would be a good day to purchase a ticket or even purchase a season pass for the 2017 season. 

I have attended a number of their events and, most of the time, I am not disappointed.  Great plays and art brought to downtown Lynn.  My favorite event each summer is Shakespeare at a location in Lynn...the 3, or is it 4, that I've gone to in Lynn Woods have been my favorites!

Maybe I will be back with more tomorrow...

Monday, November 21, 2016

Shop Small

Small businesses rock my world.  They make communities unique, special and fun to explore.  It is difficult owning a small business as many would tell you.  So on Saturday, November 26, 2016, please shop small.

Each day leading up to Saturday, I would like to promote some of my favorites. 

First up is...Mill River Winery!

They offer great wines...Plantation is one of my favorites.  You can also find local specialty foods, olive oils, and other items in their shop.  Grab a glass of wine at their bar.

Their wine club = so much fun.  You join for $20.00.  You are then obligated to purchase 3 wines 3 or 4 times/year but you can hit them up for a free class of wine when they are open.  They have tastings nights when you pick up your wine.  The wine bash and their tastings promote a sense of community. 

They also hold special events for members.  My first event...the Mill River Wine Bash.  What fun and I wish I had taken pictures.  I always forget to take pictures.  The bash was under the lights in a tent in the vineyard.  It included dinner and the opportunity to a make your own wine blend.  The wine and the laughter was overflowing at my table. 

My blend was very close to winning.  There is a trophy.  My name would have been on the trophy.  They also make and sell your blend.  See the middle wine in the picture above. 

My blends...sweet LuLu not included.

Mill River Winery is located on Route 1 in Rowley.  Find something for yourself or the wine lover in your life.

From their email....Here at Mill River Winery, we're thankful for YOU!! This week we have extended our hours! We'll be open Mon-Wed from 11am-6pm, closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving, then open on Black Friday from 11am-7pm!! Shop Local ~ Drink Local!

Thursday, November 17, 2016


I want to encourage you to consider purchasing a Thanksgiving Farm Share from the Food Project.  They do great work with kids teaching them how to grow food, farm and the benefits of healty living.  Ordering a share benefits their work.  You also benefit.  You will receive locally grown food products.  The community benefits by our financial support.  Give it a try.  

Order Your Thanksgiving CSA Farm Share by Thursday

Just in time for the holidays! Enjoy local, sustainably grown produce for the holidays with our Thanksgiving share.

The Thanksgiving share is a 40–50 pound bounty of seasonal produce that typically includes carrots, winter squash (butternut, acorn, and carnival), onions, garlic, leeks, potatoes, daikon radish, popcorn, kale, sweet potatoes, and winter greens. Much of which can be stored and will keep throughout the winter.

As a special bonus, we will also have bottles of Alex's Ugly Sauce "Witches Brew" available. This special hot sauce was made from habanero peppers picked right here at The Food Project. Just $8!

Don't miss out! Order your share today.

Cost: $125

Today is the last day to can order through the link below.