In Apple Blossom Time…

It’s Apple Blossom Time here in the Berkshires… not as well known as the harvest season, maybe, but no less quaint and New England-y.


This weekend, we were able to attend the Second Annual Blossom Fest at Bartlett’s Orchard, right in our hometown. This isn’t an event teeming with crowds, vendors, bouncy-houses and beer tents — although there was, in fact, one beer tent — but rather, a gathering space that felt very community-minded, welcoming, and calm.

With the apple trees nearing full bloom, the orchard at Bartlett’s was opened to the public for strolling and picnicking. Burgers and dogs on the grill were offered up for a few dollars each, plus soft drinks and a few selections from Wandering Star Brewery – an awesome, local craft brewery with a great team of folks at the helm. I’ve seen its founder, Chris, a few times at nonprofit events and he’s not only always friendly, he’s always got a new IPA on tap for me (this time, an 8.9% ABV brew called Loopy Juice.)


Local (and a little legendary) musician David Grover, with special guest Linda Worster, was on hand to provide chill tunes — a lot of James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and a few kids’ selections that Grover is known for in the Berkshires.

We’re hoping to attend the third Blossom Fest next year, but if you’re keen to visit Bartlett’s before then, apple-picking season starts as early as August and the farm store is open year-round. (Two words: cider donuts)

#TBT May 2008: Snark, Car Shows, Pasta Salad & Yoga

Note: The following blog posts originally appeared on The Jump in May 2008, when it was hosted at blog-city. They’re gradually being added back into the current blog as #TBTs, so not to overwhelm subscribers.

How Do You Write a Blog Post About Things That Annoy You Without Sounding Snarky or Unbalanced?

4526411483_739e65404b_zYou can’t.

Roll with it.

I will, however, temper every gripe with something I like:

1. I hate it when people try to make me feel, ironically, stupid for using a word, term, or topic in conversation they don’t understand. This goes back to high school for me, but now, as a gainfully employed woman who writes for a living, I’m ready for y’all to shut it already. It’s not like I’m quoting Proust or something. And if you just asked what I meant, you’d know something new you didn’t know before. Trust me- this would make you a better person and probably a lot funnier.

But I do like – daisies. They’re sunny and simple, like nature’s vapid little Homecoming Queen.

2. I hate it when I’m interrupted in the middle of a sentence, especially when the interrupter was not part of the conversation to begin with. It’s not cool, so stop it. You’re not that important.

But I do like – Karamel Sutra ice cream from Ben and Jerry’s. I like it so much I won’t smear it all over your face when you interrupt me, because I would not want to waste any of the delicious caramel core inside.

3. An addendum to number one – people who assume they know everything and go through life saying supposably, expresso, prostrate cancer, and irregardless.

But i do like – espresso with a nice chocolate chip croissant.

4. I hate women who think it’s cute to act dumb or talk like children. You’re setting all of us back decades every time you giggle and twirl your hair and say ‘Iiiiiiii dooooon’ttt knoooowwww.’

But I do like – Falling asleep to a thunderstorm. Serenity Now.

5. Conversely, I also can’t stand children who act like adults. Mostly little actors. The only motivation a 5-year-old should have is Chicken McNuggets or an extra half-hour of Dora.

But I do like – scarves and hats. And playing dress-up.

Published: Friday, 9 May 2008


A visitor‘ left this comment on 21 May 08
You forgot “precussion”

A visitor‘ left this comment on 13 May 08
This is hilarious. I’ll need to remember to mix in my nasties with some lollipops and rainbows. It does make them go down easier!

A visitor‘ left this comment on 13 May 08
Amen. Can I add one to the interrupter? I hate when people interrupt me to finish my sentence — *and* then they don’t even get it right! Arg!!

A visitor‘ left this comment on 12 May 08
Hey, I tend to snark even on things I like (see, for example, my 50 favorite TV shows). But I’ll bite. Irregardless of whether or not you axed, I am so impressed with your list that I prostate myself before it. And a half-hour of Dora would be as welcome on my TV as a half-hour of jellyfish stings or a half-hour of getting punched in the face by Celine Dion in full warble. Chicken McNuggets are OK, though.

Weekend Pasta Salad

“Wacky Mac” multi-colored veggie rotini, ranch dressing, lemon juice, parm. cheese, salt and pepper, balsamic vinegar, yellow pepper, tomato, scallions, and broccoli. The bowl is from Homegoods.

Published: Sunday, 11 May 2008 Tags: pasta salad food

The Horror! The Sandwiches! The Surf Rock! (Very Late Weekend Update)

I didn’t see The Texas Chainsaw Massacre until I was in my twenties. A group of friends and I rented a bunch of horror movies and loaded up on junk food while I was renting a house in Osterville, Mass., and we camped in the living room for hours of paranoid fun.

Everyone up ‘n left immediately after the last tape in the batch ended, with Leatherface waving his chainsaw in the air at the permanently damaged heroine escaping in the back of a pick-up truck.

I love horror movies. But I was shelled. And when I suddenly found myself completely alone in a big house in the woods of Cape Cod, the terror of that sick flick only grew. It still freaks me out – even the bad remakes and sequels and prequels are disturbing.

However, it’s the dawn of a kindler, gentler new day for Texas, Chainsaws, and Massacres. This weekend, back at the Cape to do some event planning, I had one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had by the same name, at the Box Office Cafe in Chatham, where all of the sandwiches, drinks, and pizzas are named after movies (I blogged about the place once before here).

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre isn’t messy nor does it contain people, so I’m not sure where it got its name, but here’s the lineup: cracked pepper turkey, roast beef, pesto, mayo, tomato, and mozzarella cheese on a toasted ciabatta. Killer.

sandwich box office cafe

Some of the other offerings include The Poseidon (tuna), The Rocky (Italian), The Animal House (meatball sub), and The Caddy Shack (a club sub). As for pizza, there’s the Good Night and Good Luck, for one — described as topped with garlic, garlic, tomatoes, and more garlic — and for breakfast, there’s a selection of sandwiches all named after directors. Where else are you going to walk in and say “Uh, yeah, hi. I’ll have a medium coffee and an Erich Von Stroheim. Thanks.”

Plus, the Box Office has a cute mini-store with mugs, totes, and t-shirts like these:


After lunch, there were other interesting things happening on the Cape of Cod this weekend: we spotted a cruise night sponsored by the Cape Cod Classic Car Club in Dennis, for instance:

cape cod crusie night

And on Saturday night, we caught Earth Junior at Arturo’s. EJ is my brother’s band – a surf rock trio that’s been playing on the cape for more than a decade. They treated the crowd to Sweet Caroline during the seventh inning of the Red Sox game:

My brother told me he hated the rendition, but I had to share it with Red Sox Nation. And besides, it’s not like they massacred it or anything.

Published: Wednesday, 21 May 2008 Tags: sandwich box office cafe texas chainsaw massacre earth junior sweet caroline red sox 12009 cape cod classic car club


Writerjax‘ left this comment on 22 May 08
Really!! I agree the naming of things has a certain je n’ais e quois that really raises the bar for the item being eaten.

That said, a Kevin Smith … I’m going to say at McDonald’s that’d be about the equivalent of an egg mcmuffin. Substantive, with a hint of cheese and a propensiity toward the silent but deadly.

A visitor‘ left this comment on 22 May 08
That’s an awesome idea…I’m now going to name everything I eat…I will insist that the rest of the world comply or at least play along…I’m going to McDonald to order a Kevin Smith right now…thanks

Memorial Day Staycation (Weekend update)

Happy Tuesday as some of us return to the working week … I wish I could recount hundreds of long-weekend adventures for you, but alas it was a pretty low-key holiday for me. And as Stuart Smalley would say, ‘and that’s … ok.’

I started the weekend off, however, trying out a new recipe from Bakerella, the Queen of Cupcakes and all things yummy. I was a little timid after painstakingly creating a braciole from the Good Eats Web site a couple of weeks ago that was more like a salt lick than an Italian delicacy, so I decided to give one of the more simple-looking recipes a try — peanut butter balls.

Success, and my hat off to Bakerella. She’s a culinary genius for World 2.0. The secret is in the Nutter Butters …

and the dipping is relatively easy. Mine aren’t as symmetrical as Bakerella’s but still tasty.

On Saturday, the highlight of the day had to have been a random, huge flea market we happened upon. Apparently Steve McQueen was there before us:

And in the evening, it was off to dinner at one of my favorite places, Cal’s, and then to join the rest of humanity in seeing the new Indiana Jones flick. For what it’s worth, I’m glad we went, and it was good for what it’s intended to be; a transition piece introducing Shia LeBoeuf as the next generation Indy (aka Mutt). Still, it’s no Temple of Doom, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be.

It was around the credits that my second major allergy attack of the season set in, thus setting the tone for the rest of the weekend – sniffly, ears plugged, throat scratchy, ARGH! I muscled through with some craft projects (started repainting the front porch planters, more on that later) and a CSI marathon on Spike TV. Which apparently is the ‘man channel.’ Whatever.

I also pulled out one of my older yoga DVDs, since I wasn’t going to make it to the gym. It’s actually a DVD with a companion book:

…and not a bad 30-minute cycle at all. It’s pretty low-budget – just Yolanda and an Oriental rug, really – but it’s low-stress enough that I went through the cycle twice.

Now, it’s back to the grind … thankful for the short week, though. Meatier posts to come soon, including a 40 under 40 recap and a review of Marie Antoinette: The Journey, which my faithful readers know took me about four and a half years to finish (maybe more like eight months. But still. Eight months? Stop falling asleep with the book on your face, Grandma.)

Bright Colors, Clean Lines at Hotel Indigo

We were able to escape for a quick getaway last weekend, to see Trevor Noah live at the Wilbur Theatre, and take a break from reality at Hotel Indigo in Newton.

It was a whirlwind stay in the dead of winter, but we’re definitely planning a return. Here’s a quick run-down of some of the hotel’s higher points:

The Art.



The plans and schematics of inventions created in New England are printed on bright paper and placed under frameless glass in rooms and hallways. Our room also included a floor-to-ceiling print on fabric that looked like batik, but upon closer inspection, turned out to be a macro photograph of a cocktail umbrella.


The Location.

This isn’t the prettiest of photos, but it illustrates how soul-crushingly cold it was that weekend, and also how close the train station (The ‘T’) into downtown Boston is to the hotel. Hotel Indigo is just off Route 95 and right next to Riverside Station, one of the last stops on the green line, so it can’t be easier to get to — or into the city. Another perk that bears noting with all this close proximity to transportation: Sound. Proof. Glass.

The Bar.

We missed dining hours due to the show we were seeing in the city and slept past breakfast so I can’t speak to the restaurant on-site — an American steakhouse. The bar had a great late-night menu though,  as well as comfy seats, a cool atmosphere, and live entertainment, so we were happy with the goods.

A grab-and-go cafe is also open until 1 p.m for coffee, yogurt, bagels … just enough when all you’re doing is heading back on to the MassPike anyway. Next time, we’re hoping to book a room in the summer, in order to take advantage of poolside service, cabana rentals, and night-time fire pits.

Jax Rating





Willow House magazine launches!

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 11.14.42 AMExciting times in WriterJax World this week! A new lifestyle magazine has just launched and I’m psyched to have an article in the premier issue.

Willow House magazine is geared toward young couples and families looking to make their lives a little better, brighter, funkier, more organized… you name it.


Photo by Sarah Severson

An idea for an article on DIY Souvenirs has been in my pitch book for years, inspired by the little freebies I’ve collected along the way as a broke college student, frugal travel writer, and now penny-pinching working mom. Gladly, the topic was a perfect fit for Willow House, and now it’s finally seeing the light of day. That’s a win in WriterJax World. Hope you can take a look, and please share your own DIY Souvenir ideas in the comments — either here or at Willow House!