Tuesday, July 23, 2013

2 Live Crew Ain't Got Nothin' on the Flag Crew!

This past 4th of July, I was asked once again to be a part of the Boston Red Sox “Flag Crew”, a mixture of Red Sox employees & volunteers (people who know people who know the employees), to help out getting the giant American Flag folded up onto the Green Monster then help toss the flag to drape over the Monster the next day. I have been asked a few times to help out fold and toss the flag and each time feels better than the last- mainly because I know exactly what to do without getting lost. I’m going to back up a bit and tell you how I got stared with the ‘crew.

September 12th, 2011

It was a typical Tuesday during work, until I got a cryptic message from Zach (yes, the same Zach from SkeeBall), asking me to meet him at Fenway Park at 6pm. That was the entire message said. Of course, I had asked why and the only response was ‘be there. 6pm. won’t regret it.’ Ok. I had only known Zach & Heather through 1 season of SkeeBall and we were rolling on season 2, so I had no idea what the message meant, especially since there was no game that night. I decided to take my chances and see what it was all about, if nothing else, it was a nice night to walk around Fenway during a non-game day, fewer crowds.

As soon as the bell rang for 5pm, I ran out of work (in full work clothing blouse & skirt), over to Fenway Park to be there by 6pm on the dot. As soon as I rounded the corner to Yawkey Way, I found Zach waiting for me by Gate D. He gave me a bracelet and told me to ‘come on in’ to the Park… very nonchalant like he simply owned Fenway Park. As I followed him into the park, I kept trying to ask him what exactly we were doing here with to no avail. I had also noticed that we kept passing the concession stands and seating areas and walked into a ‘restricted area’, where the grounds crew, the physical therapy and behind the scenes employees’ offices were all located.


We made our way around to a door located by the grounds crew equipment and Zach had asked me one last time, “Do you know where we are yet?” For a split second, I got the feeling I was in one of those many horror films I watch and Zach played the starring role of ‘psycho killer’ and me, ‘helpless victim #2’, and he was going to chop me up into pieces and scatter my remains on the field. Once I got back into reality a nanosecond later, Zach had opened the door that led right onto the outfield of Fenway Park! I mean, I was actually ON the field, walking around, touching the grass, seeing the dings on the Green Monster and out laying on the field, was some blue tarp and a wheeled out bin with the work ‘flag’ written on it. Zach asked me if I understood what was going on … still having no idea… and he said to follow along and pay attention.
Flag Crew Insider: The Flag Crew is a mixture of Red Sox Grounds Crew, Red Sox Employees and people who happen to know people referenced before. The Flag Crew comes down either right after a game has ended or on an off day, help lay out the flag on the outfield (under blue tarp), roll it up, and send it up the Green Monster. The next game day, the Flag Crew returns to either help toss the flag and drape it over the Monster or be on the warning track to help hold it down/catch the flag. The Flag Ceremony is usually held on: Home Opener, any national holiday, some Yankees/Cubs/special games and on the anniversary of 9/11. 

There was a mixture of about 20 people (grounds crew, ‘veteran’ flag crew & newbies) on the warning track getting ready to ‘follow orders’ from Johnny…aka Zach’s cousin. Johnny was like your typical drill sergeant, having us line up along the third base line explaining what would be happing, how we should take the flag and lay it on the tarp and whatever we do… don’t touch the white foul line! Once we were lined up, we walked over the wheeled bin and grabbed a piece of the flag over our shoulders and walked along the edge of the tarp to lay out the flag.


After the flag was fully laid out, it was time for what I would now call the ‘roll & tot’, where Johnny would yell at us to ‘roll the flag up to half a stripe or star’ depending on where we were and make sure it was flat, tot and all the air was out. even though I tried to pay attention as best I could, I really couldn’t believe this was all happening and since I didn’t think any of my friends would believe me, photos were a must….except that I kept getting my camera folded under the flag…oops.

Once the flag was fully rolled up, (extra flat and tot), Johnny was there to give us orders to ‘pick up the flag with our arms and palms up, lower the flag on the green tarp and step back’. This was all done very orderly so Zach and a few other people could tie up the tarp and get it ready to be sent up the Green Monster. The same orders were followed for that actual part as well for taking the flag over to the Monster. After all the hooks were on, it was time to send the flag up the Green Monster where it would lay until the next night when it would tossed over the side and draped over the Monster.

Zach had informed me that we could come back the next night and help toss over the flag- to which I immediately said ‘yes’! We had met at the same area the next night and had met Johnny for our bracelets- I was feeling like VIP since I got to beach the crowds and walk right into the ballpark without a ticket. We made our way up the Green Monster, flag still intact and ready to go. Zach had mentioned to me what usually happens- we toss out the flag on cue, let it drop into the arms of the soldiers who were below us, they would walk off the field with it our job was done. After that, we could either wait until people claimed their Monster seats or we can walk around the ballpark.

Once the ceremonies and the memorial for the victims of the September 11th attacks were read, it was time to get ready and wait for our cue to toss the flag over the Monster. I must admit, I was rather nervous about this part; I didn't want to be the one who missed the cue and didn't toss it on time. But, it all went as planned and the flag draped over the Green Monster in all its glory. Once it was again on cue to drop the flag down to the soldiers, it was now time to relax and watch the game… which was coincidentally Tim Wakefield’s possible 200th win as Red Sox pitcher.

Game Recap (to move my story along):
  •    No one came by to claim the seats, so we had front row Green Monsters Seats all to ourselves
  • You can order Wachusset Green Monster Beer and Monster Dogs only in the Monster Section
  • Game got really intersecting until the 6th inning when the Sox scored a bunch of runs to guarantying Wake the win
  •  Red Sox won and Tim Wakefield got his 200th win
  • Still goes down as one of the coolest nights I ever had in Boston!

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Very 'Gifted' Evening

A few weeks ago, (yes, I’m still in the process of getting this blog updated weekly), I attended another great event presented by @BlogAndTweetBos (#bosmakers). The event was call ‘Meet the Makers Blogger Event’ an event co-hosted and held at Gifted, a unique gift shop’ in the South End and Olives & Grace, a store dedicated to local makers and entrepreneurs.

After work, I made my way down to the South End, a place notorious for me getting lost; I know every nook and cranny when it comes to the city, but the South End is something else, every street either looks the same or looks like there hasn’t been any construction or updates in the past 10 years. (Case in point, when I went to SoWa Markets for the first time, I followed the “easy” directions online telling me to get off at the Tufts Medical Center T stop and walk half a mile and I would be there… well 45 minutes later, I was beginning to think this place didn’t exist, until I happen to have “stumbled upon” in like someone just happens to stumble upon Atlantis). However, this was a very easy walk down to the corners of Dartmouth & Tremont St. and soon enough I had walked into the little shop which reminded me very much of going into those little boutiques on the Cape or Newburyport; top to bottom with every unique and one of a kind items you wouldn’t find anywhere else to give as gifts for friends and family….or gifts for yourself-( luckily for myself, the event started right on schedule, so there was no time for me to look and pick out everything I wanted for myself).

Once the event had started, we were lead downstairs and introduced to Marie, owner of Gifted and Sofi, owner of Olives & Grace who gave an introduction about their shops and a little overview of all the crafters who were in attendance for the event. After the introductions were made, it was time for some fun and learn about all these local crafters.

Round House Jewelry: Created and owned by Lisa Sachs, Round House is handmade jewelry made out of clay with added metals from copper, bronze and silver. Each piece was unique in design and feather light in weight, perfect to add a bit of class to an outfit without being weighed down.

Confabulous Cases: When I first walked up to Ali, I thought she looked very familiar- that’s when I remembered, I saw her and her Confabulous Cases at the recent StyleFixx Event. Her cases are just that, fabulous iPhone cases that you can change like you change your outfit. The concept is simple, she sells a standard iPhone case and you choose the inserts to change to fit your mood or style. Since I had missed the boat at StyleFixx, I really wanted to snag her offer and purchase one of her cases… which I did and have had many compliments off my “it’s 5 o’clock somewhere”, “Keep Calm and Go Shopping” and “pink dazzled” inserts! Best part of meeting Ali, she let me in a little, now known secret, you can purchase her cases & separate inserts at MiniLuxe!! (woo-hoo!)

Tea Cuvée: Known as the First Premium Cold Brewed Tea, I was quite interested to see what made this tea stand out to other iced tea; that’s where I had met Evy, owner of Tea Curvée who explained to me the difference. The main difference is how the iced tea is actually made; unlike many brands in the U.S. which  are made from over-processed, chemically and artificially flavorings,  Tea Curvée is made only out of whole tea leaves and ‘bloom’ in cold water which leaves you with a more natural and refreshing flavor. After tasting the Moonlight & Amber flavors, I could immediately taste the difference of Evy’s iced tea compared to iced tea I would brew at home. Delicious!

Moody Beauty: Amy Fleischer is the owner and maker of Moody Beauty, an oil based skincare which nurtures, hydrates and soothes the skin and face. Like myself, Amy has dry and pinkish/red hues on her face and it’s difficult to find a product that would contour both problems, either you look even redder or you face dries out even more from the harsh chemicals. Amy’s product is made from all natural and organic ingredients that help just about every face feel light and refreshing. Before the real heat of summer began just this past week, I began trying a sample of Moody Beauty which did make my face feel more refreshed. Unfortunately, when the heat came in so did the excessive sweating on my face, so I’ve stopped using it for the short term, but plan on using it again once the temps go to a tolerating degree and less sweat!

Glass Designs: Laurie Landerholm is the creator of custom lampworked beads, hand blown glass and even teaches lamp work classes in Brockton (sounds very interesting but a little intimidating!).  What was great about Laurie is that she brought her work right to the Gifted Event. Right in front of my eyes, I watched in curiosity as she created a one of a kind lampwork bead (torch and all). Of course, Laurie made this look very easy, but I’m sure after a few of her lampwork classes (and maybe a few burns), I could be creating my own custom glass bracelet!

Porcelain and Stone: A creator of fine, ceramic jewelry, Kimberly Huestis pieces are made right in Cambridge, each design reminding me of a day at the beach or on a boat. The unique pieces all had a nautical or beach theme, a theme that goes hand in hand for Kimberly and her environmentally friendly efforts. She even creates ceramic mugs; great to keep the morning coffee hot…unfortunately, they’re not for sale… just yet.

Travessia: Ah, what’s a blogger event without a little bit of wine?! Jennifer Marcos is the Tasting Room Manager for Travessia, a micro-winery located in New Bedford (really? Yes, really.) What I had learned from Jennifer, as I sipped my way through a tasting (or 2) of their Chardonnay, Vidal Blanc and Pinot Noir, is that most of their grapes are grown right in Massachusetts and their main focus is to try and be authentic as possible when it comes to taste and the production. Local is better!

Moochie’s Macarons: As I made my way around the crafters setups, I couldn’t help but notice the colorful display of little mini macaroons at one table. Nina DiBona Pauk is the creator of these fabulous French Macarons that was inspired one evening while planning a trip to France with her husband. These bite size macrons’ come in a variety of unique flavors: Pistachio, Lavender Honey, Chocolate Ganesh, Lemon Poppy Seed and many more including my own personal favorite, coconut!, (which I probably ate about a baker’s dozen of that flavor).

Yuthica: The last table of the night that I visited was Yuthica, Soy Wax Candles by Chinku Mahindra. Unlike your typical Yankee Candle, Yuthica Candles are made from soy wax, which makes the candle burn longer, with less smoky residue and keeps the natural scents elegant until the last use. What’s even better about these candles is that you can “double dip”, since the candles are made of soy with added shea butter, avocado oil and other essential oils, you can not only use the candles to create a beautiful, calming atmosphere, you can even use the wax to moisturize and sooth you skin!

By the end of the night, I had a bag full of goodies to try out and even a beautiful bracelet & ring set compliments of Gifted Boston! So, if you’re ever in the market for a unique gift for someone… or a little retail therapy for yourself, I would recommend any of these fine makers and their products, all which can be purchased at Gifted Boston and Olives & Grace! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Cocoanuts Summer Sweets Blogger Event...Where Real Bloggers' Blog...and I Blog Like a Wannabe...

 When I had taken my first Blog class at the BCAE this past March, one key note the instructors told me was to attend different blog events to network and meet other bloggers, so I was excited when I found a Twitter page dedicated to promoting Blogger Events (@BlogAndTweetBos). I started following them and last week and event was posted on Twitter about a Summer Sweets Blog Event at Cocoanuts in the North End. The event was for bloggers alike to come down and try all sorts of local goodies and chocolates and blog about your experience. Chocolate & sweets tasting…count me in!...

...just one problem… what and how do I blog about a blogger event at a blogger event? Guess I’ll just pop in and see what everyone else does and follow suit.
After walking the hot two miles from work to Cocoanuts in the North End, I was more than prepared for some chocolate goodness. And that’s just what I got as soon as I walked in the door of Cocoanuts- a small boutique type shop that was covered floor to ceiling in chocolate and candy-(kind of like Willy Wonka’s Candy Factory for adults).

Right as I walked in, I was pleasantly greeted by a woman asking if I wanted to try some chocolate… (she didn't have to ask me twice). Her name was Nicole and she was promoting her company Fixx Chocolates. She had quite a selection of her homemade chocolate to choose from: Praline crisp with passion fruit pate de fruits (which was surprisingly delicious given it was chocolate and fruit filling), peanut butter nougat with roasted peanuts and sea salt (can't really ever go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate and the sea salt added a kick to the flavor) and finally peanut butter nougat with apple wood smoked bacon and maple caramel (one of those combinations that sounded, well, strange, but the different tastes of the peanut butter, bacon and caramel all came at separate times, which made the taste that much better.  

After devouring a few pieces of chocolate and I walked around to see what I could try next, that’s when I found Ra’chelle of Lark Fine Foods and her delicious cookies. She had four different types of cookies to choose from, and if you know me, you know that I can’t resist cookies! The types I tried were:

·        Salted Rosemary Shortbread  
o   Rosemary-seasoned shortbread lightly dusted with sea salts
·        Coco Locos (my personal favorite)
o   Buttery cookies with toasted coconut and a hint or rum
·        Lark Bark (Lark’s newest treat)
o     Crispy oak cookies
·        Polenta Pennies
o   Polenta cookies  with lemon and studded with golden raisins

Each cookies was more delicious than that next, but by far my favorite cookies were the Coco Locos, I love just about anything with coconut.
As I was stuffing my face with delicious treats, I was starting to wonder if this was we do at a blogger event, if we just eat a bunch of cookies and chocolate and blog about it? Not as soon as that thought ran through my mind when my answer was given. Tara, co-owner of Cocoanuts, introduced herself and started discussing about the shop, the chocolates and candies that they sold and introduced both Nicole and Ro’chelle and explained about their companies and the different types of samples they had to offer, (apparently, I started the taste test a little too soon).

There were about 13 other bloggers in attendance, and it seemed, they’ve all done this before. As soon as Tara started explaining about the shop and the candies, just about all the bloggers whipped out their phones and started typing and taking notes and asking questions about the chocolates, what types were gluten-free and how do you properly store candy in the summertime. Not wanting to look out of the loop, I quickly grabbed my phone and started to record, take pictures and try to take notes as quickly as possible. I thought I had the hang of it, until I saw my recording was mostly of the ground, my notes made no sense; but the pictures at least looked semi-decent.
After Tara spoke, it was time to snack some more and try and network with a few of these bloggers. I had met some really nice people at the event and everyone was open to asking my “beginner blog” questions; how their blog originally started, if and where they go their websites designed and if they blog a certain way.

Towards the end of my first blog event, I think it went really well, I learned a few tricks of the trade when it came to taking notes, I had a few networking contacts via blogs & tweet posts and a full stomach of chocolate deliciousness. With a bag of goodies purchased at the event, I was excited to go home and blog about my experience… now if only someone could teach me how to blog on schedule and on time, that would be great.

*Update* Saturday night, I went home to the North Shore to celebrate my mum’s birthday with my family. By Sunday morning, when I had come back to Quincy, I discovered my ENTIRE box of Coco Locos Cookies that I had purchased at the Summer Sweets Blog Event had been mysteriously ripped open and EVERY cookie had been consumed. I’m not naming names or pointing the finger, but I have a person of interested in mind. I won’t give any names (it starts with a “boy” and ends in “friend”), whom I feel owes me a further explanation…and a new box of cookies.