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Category Archives: RI

I’ve Made It Into the Tennis Hall of Fame!

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O.K., so I didn’t actually make it into the Tennis Hall of Fame due to my playing abilities; I  just went to visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, RI.  A few weekends ago they had a family day with free admission for all those under 16.  Imagine my surprise when the clerk was about to let me in for free.  I said “I thought only kids go in for free” and she answered “You are not older than 16 are  you?”  I had to contain my desire to hug that woman.

She provided the kids sheets with clues, and pencils to go on a scavenger hunt around the museum, discovering many artifacts and facts pertaining to the origins and history of Tennis.

They learned about Brad Parks, the pioneering founder of wheelchair tennis worldwide.  The actual wheelchair Brad used during his games was on display.

As for me, I was much more interested on finding the display for Rafa Nadal.  Of course, my interest in him is purely based on the fact that he is the number 1 Tennis player in the world.  It has nothing to do with his olive skin and dreamy smile, seriously.  Fine, don’t believe me.  I did find Rafa and took pictures with him; unfortunately those didn’t come out so good. 

No worries, I was able to find the display of another hunk, I meant to say another great Tennis player, Andre Agassi.  

Skimpy Outfit from the 1940's

He seemed very happy to see me and insisted that I take a picture with him. “Why of course Andre, I’d be glad to.”

 Other than the attractive players, I really liked the display of playing outfits, which were considered very risqué for their times.

My kids and their friends by the courts

After playing a couple of rounds of Tennis Wii, the kids and I headed outside to look at the grass courts, which are truly beautiful.  In fact, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has been voted one of the best places to host a wedding in RI. 

Have you made it into any Hall of Fame? 

If you come to fame not understanding who you are, it will define who you are. – Oprah Winfrey 
 
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Special Date: Providence Place

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In our home, I like to make birthdays very special for each person.  Usually this means spreading a few activities throughout the week of the person’s birthday, in order to keep the celebration going a bit longer.  The most recent one to enjoy this special treatment was Karla.  On the day of her birthday she had birthday cookies to bring to school, cupcakes to share at daycare,  and a birthday dinner with her dad and brother at a restaurant of her choosing.  The birthday gifts, cards, and calls from family and friends spanned for a few days.  During the weekend she had a costume party at home, with guests mostly consisting of school mates.  I thought an appropriate way to top off the celebration was taking her out on one of our special one-on-one outings we call Special Dates

She wanted to watch the new Adam Sandler movie, Jack and Jill.  I usually wait until movies are showing at the discount movie theater to bring my kids – movie tickets are ridiculously expensive nowadays, but seeing this was a special occasion we headed to the matinée at the  Providence Place Mall cinema. 

Providence Place Mall is right at the heart of Downtown Providence.  It’s establishment was part of the renaissance period the city went through beginning in the early to mid 90’s.  Another icon of this period, Waterfire, is right across from Providence Place.  The Mall is considered upscale, and it is home to about 180 stores, including several restaurants.  Some of the companies showcased include Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., Coach, The Apple Store, The Cheesecake Factory, Sephora, J. Jill, Ross-Simons, Build-A-Bear Workshop, and Dave & Buster’s among others. 

After having a good laugh at the movies, we had lunch at the food court.  The agreed upon restaurant: Johny Rockets!  Here we ordered a couple of burgers and fries and we shared a delish strawberry milkshake. 

Since a trip to the mall is not complete without some retail therapy, I took her to Claire’s, a somewhat affordable accessories store with a juvenile theme.  She picked out some gloves and hair accessories and we were good to go.

I am always glad to spend my time giving individualized attention to my kids.  It builds our relationship and their trust in me.

Special Date: Friday Night Live

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Special Date: Friday Night Live

Friday Night Live Crew

It is not in vain that Providence is called The Creative Capital; we have a good concoction of cultures, flavors, and rhythms, as well as many artists injecting life and energy into the city.  I enjoy this mix and often drag my kids to cultural events, may they too develop an appreciation of varied forms of art.  For our latest special date, Aleck and I attended Friday Night Live,  a weekly family friendly Improv show where a group of talented performers make it up as they go.

We had lots of laughs during this interactive show where the actors often ask the 

Aleck and I at the show

audience to provide random words as inspiration for their improv skits.  Part of the show is an acoustic guitarist that gives the performance an extra kick.  They also have an Open
Stage Night once a month where members of the audience get their 5 minutes of fame to perform a skit of their own. This clean comedic performance, which was named Best of Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly,  is family and wallet friendly at $5 per person.  Aleck and I absolutely enjoyed it.  He was happy I brought him to the show as our special date, and took many pictures of the skits.  I was glad to have such a handsome companion (not that I am biased ;))at this event.

Friday Night Live is part of the Everett company, “a cross-cultural, cross-generational group of artists that creates original evening-length dance theater performances, produces film and video, carries out a wide range of educational programs, and mentors new generations of young artists” as stated on their website  “Everett, through its Company, Stage and School, brings live art to diverse audiences. With a 25-year history, a Company that tours nationally; a vibrant Stage of monthly programming; and a School that offers free classes to low-income youth in everything from ballet to improvisation, Everett is at the forefront of integrating art and community…  No one is turned away for lack of funds and 95% of students attend classes for free.”

At the end of the performance Bianca, one of the talented young actors, asked us to watch a short promo video for a film she’s hoping to produce as part of her final thesis at Emerson College.  In her own words 
Got You tells the story of an 8 year old girl’s discovery of her mother’s suicidal thoughts. This film aims to raise awareness for depression and suicide and how it impacts the relationships we have with our loved ones. I would be so eternally grateful if you could help make this film a reality. Every dollar toward a donation counts, but even if you can’t help out financially, please spread the word! We NEED to raise $5000 by December 3rd!” 
I strongly encourage you to help.  Donations start as low as $1.  As someone who has dealt with postpartum depression, and still deal with clinical depression and SAD, I know how painful and alienating this condition can be, and the profound effect it has on one’s relationships.

Here is the link to the “Kickstarter” page where you can learn more information and also donate: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gotyou/got-you-an-emerson-college-bfa-short-film

Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

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Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular

This Year We finally made it to the Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular; another item knocked out of my Places to Visit in RI list.  I’ve been wanting to attend this event for about 10 years now.  Tried it back in 2004 but the line was soooooooo long that after waiting for about 45 minutes, with two toddlers in tow, and no other adult to help; I quit and turned around when an announcement was made letting everyone know that strollers were not allowed once inside the trail. Strollers ARE allowed nowadays, of course, my kids no longer require them. 

This event is attended by thousands of visitors each year, and it runs throughout the month of October.  On weekend nights the lines are so long that wait time could be up to 2 hours.  This year we went on a Monday night and we were able to purchase our tickets without waiting in line; once inside the zoo there was a bit of a line before getting to the actual Jack-O-Lantern trail, but it wasn’t bad, and they had fun signs with info about the event and trivia questions to keep us entertained. 

The actual display was truly spectacular, displaying about 5,000 carved and lit pumpkins.  This year’s theme was Journey Around the World, and stations included Italy, England, Asia, Mexico, Cuba, India, and the North Pole, among others.  My favorite were India and Asia.  Each station had background music to go along with the theme, such as The Beatles for England. There were carvings of The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Gandhi, Fidel Castro, Mariachis, a Geisha, and even an “In Memory Of” section, which included a carving of Steve Jobs.  I totally recommend this as a fun fall family outing.

Capsules with English Subtitles

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It’s always a treat to get to enjoy films in my native tongue, Spanish.  Unfortunately there aren’t many opportunities to do so in RI.  There is the Providence Latin American Film Festival, which showcases a selection of movies made in Latin America by Latinos and Latinas, and comes to Providence for one weekend every year.  This is a fairly recent effort in Providence, which every year I keep trying to get to, but never do.  That is until this year; because thanks to my handy bucket list, my friend Leona and I made our way to the RISD Auditorium today. See, I included this film festival in my places to visit in Providence list, so I persuaded Leona to come along and watch  Cápsulas (Capsules).  This award-winning Guatemalan film, follows Fonsi, a pre-teen boy with a dysfunctional family, who is about to have big revelations and changes in his life. 

I enjoyed the movie. I n my opinion, and according to my taste, it deserves 3.5 stars out of 5.  Now, I will most likely make it to the festival many times in years to come, but for the purposes of my list I am marking this one down as completed.

All the movies were filmed in Spanish and showed with English subtitles. For a complete listing of the films showcased this year click here.

The Results are In…

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Disclaimer: I am not an alcoholic; not a regular drinker either.  I hardly ever drink alcohol, and when I do, it is usually 1 or 2 drinks the whole night.  Glad we got that out-of-the-way 🙂

Now to My Progress Report

On Cocktails:
Last week I posted a poll asking readers what their favorite cocktail was, and the results are in:
* Piña Colada snatched the first place
* Closely followed by the Martini (in different variations)
* Honorable mention goes to a glass of water (love it!)

For all of you Piña Colada lovers, here’s Paula Dean’s recipe:

Ingredients  

  • Ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup rum
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup pineapple chunks
  • Sliced pineapple, for garnish, optional
  • Maraschino cherry, for garnish, optional

Directions
Fill blender halfway with ice cubes. Add rum, coconut cream, coconut milk and pineapple chunks. Puree.

Serve, garnished with a slice of pineapple and maraschino cherry, if desired.

On # 14 Mastering a Few Signature Dishes:
No new dishes have been mastered as of yet, but have been cooking more often and am close to mastering Steak with Onions, Fried Okra, Yellow Rice with Corn, and Sautéed Pork Chops (Dominican Style)

On # 24 Exploring RI from A to Z:
 I crossed off visiting the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium at Roger Williams Park.  The visit lasted about 2 hours; of which the Planetarium show took about one hour.  The price was right at $3 per person, including the show. 

They have nice Native American Exhibits, a Victorian Era furnishings and artifacts  display, and my favorite, preserved animals that look so much alive. 

I will recommend this for a family outing with kids 4 and up; younger children aren’t allowed in the Planetarium show. 

Turkey Bravado

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We went on the road very early, headed to Coggeshall Farm Museum, in Bristol, RI, in order to participate in their BREAKFAST in the BARNYARD program.  This is a Farm Museum which operates exactly as in the late 187o’s, down to the garments the farm attendants wear.  It was a good experience in which the kids and I got to interact with pigs, chickens, turkeys,

horses, mules, and cows.  We were permitted to pet the animals, brush them, and even milk one of the cows!  I especially liked that part since this was my first experience doing so.  It was much easier than I thought, and she was  very mild-mannered, patiently letting everyone take a turn at squeezing her jigglers. 

The little farm-house is decorated with scarce furnishings from the 19th century. It has a very old-fashioned kitchen were we were delighted to eat some freshly made johnnycakes. 

In summary, I would totally recommend this as a family outing.  Word of caution – the turkeys do not appreciate being teased.  My nephew Alex quickly found this out when he started making funny turkey sounds and three turkeys lined up in attack mode ready to confront him.  I had to come to the rescue and appease the birds.  Luckily one of the farm attendants had warned us in the beginning of the tour to just stay still and quiet if at any point we felt nervous around one of the animals, and that’s what we did until the turkeys backed off. 

Bring a hat, a water bottle, and get some sunblock and bug spray on before your visit.  As we left the farm we also had a chance to make a quick stop by Bristol Harbor, which is gorgeous. This day trip serves to partially accomplish goal #24 on my list.

Have you ever had a farm animal try to attack you?