About Amanda

I’m a disgruntled Metro-North commuter by morning, real estate journalist by day, insomniac by night, and cancer butt-kicker for life.

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Ragu Gone Wrong

A Writer’s Book of Days (09/03) – Write what was broken

My grandmother placed the steaming, hot plate of fettuccine alfredo on the kitchen table. Our stomachs grumbled in anticipation.

My sister was the first to take a bite.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Wait… fettuccine alfredo isn’t supposed to be crunchy.

“There’s glass in the pasta,” she cried, spitting out what remained in her mouth. A chunky shard sat on the side of her plate.

We then remembered the crash we heard earlier in the day. Grandma confessed that the bottle of Ragu alfredo sauce fell off the counter, and she decided to salvage as much as the sauce as she could—picking up some of the broken glass along with it. The fettuccine went in the garbage that night. We probably wound up ordering a pizza.

It’s a classic story we love to retell of my grandmother’s Depression-era tendencies to save as much as she could. I remember walking in the kitchen one day and finding her dutifully squeezing out all the single packets of ketchup we’d get at fast food joints into the Heinz bottle (that is, after emptying all the extra packets of soy sauce into the Kikkoman bottle). When she’d go to hotels, she’d not only take home the complimentary toiletries, but the extra rolls of toilet paper (“I paid for it, didn’t I?”). If she went to her favorite casino’s buffet, Ziploc bags were stored in her purse for a snack later. We nicknamed her “Iron Stomach” for all of the old leftovers she’d save and turn into omelettes or pasta toppings days later.

As I look at the giant stack of soy sauce and ketchup packets taking up space in my pantry, I must admit that I’m tempted. But the hotel Charmin stays.

Happy 2014!

Wow, I haven’t posted here in a long time. What better day to come back than New Year’s Day?

It certainly was an exciting year, and plenty happened since my last entry of June 9. While in contract for the short sale, we found another house we liked a block away, and bought it while still in contract for the other.  We closed on the house July 18, and less than 18 hours later on July 19 (which also happened to be Lexcie’s 34th birthday), we marched over to Ossining Town Hall and got eloped!


That day, a Metro-North train also derailed on our new home line (The Hudson Line), and we wound up driving into work. Since we eloped, we hadn’t taken time off of work, and both went in. On the way in, I called both my mom and boss and told them I got eloped. Mom was shocked, and of course, owning a bridal shop, asked me what I wore. The dress above was the only one in my wardrobe that doesn’t wrinkle, and since we didn’t have much at the house yet, that’s what I wore! It took us so long to get to Manhattan with traffic, by the time we drove in, parked, and got to our respective offices, my co-workers had set up a part with cake, champagne, and flowers. I was pleasantly surprised!

Apparently I’m quite talented at pouring champagne towers.

The house has been quite an adventure so far. It’s an 1884 Victorian and has a lot of little quirks, which we liked. It’s a never-ending project though! Right now, we’ve been without heat since the end of October, and it’s been quite the hassle trying to find someone who will covert us from oil to gas within a decent price range or is responsive. We’re hopefully getting somewhere, though. I’ll be chronicling all of my adventures soon on HouseByTheHudson.com.

A month later, I was finally told by my oncologist—after 8 years—that I could finally be called the “c” word. “Cured,” that is, which is huge.

There were plenty of other highlights, so 2013 will be hard to beat. I’m looking forward to what 2014 might bring!

I’m not making any resolutions this year, because I’ll probably break them all, but I leave you with my favorite proverb: Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours.



Burning Down The… Hood?

Today, I was in the beauty supply store that my sister works in, when a woman in her mid-70s walks in, reeking of cigarette smoke. Not in a “I smoke a pack a day” kind of way, but as in “I’m smoking in your store right now.”

I didn’t see any cigarette in her hand, but then I saw the source: Smoke was pouring out of her coat’s hood. I waved wildly at my sister’s co-worker Jaimie to show her, as I didn’t want to call out the customer when I didn’t work there.  Jaimie didn’t know what I was talking about, so I ran to the back of the store and told my sister’s boss, who walked calmly to the front, plucked the cigarette out of the woman’s hood, and said, “You have a burning cigarette in your hood.”

You think the woman would freak out, right? No. She didn’t know it was there, but acted like it was totally normal that she had a burning cigarette in her hood. Seriously?

Looking back, my reaction was a bit odd too. You’d think I’d pull out the cigarette myself. I don’t know what was going through my head at the time, but it was more along the lines of, “Oh, the woman must’ve stored it in there so she can resume smoking it as soon as she leaves the store.” Why did I even think something like that?

Generation Why?

Today, my friend Alshawn said, “Everyone says that people born in the ’80s and ’70s have better common sense than today’s generation, and I’m here to tell you that’s utter bullshit. We just didn’t have YouTube and Facebook to permanently memorialize our stupidity.”

Amen. These kids are in for a rude awakening the day they discovered their future employers—or even future children—have Googled them and found these “memorials.”

I wonder what I would have found on my parents had there been YouTube and Facebook in the ’50s and ’60s?

A Loaf Of Bread That’s Nearly 70 Years Old

Although we celebrated St. Joseph’s Day a little early this year, I wanted to show you two traditional items from the feast day, which falls on March 19.



Above is traditional Sicilian dish called pasta con le sarde, made with sardines, fennel, tomatoes, pine nuts, and raisins (or currants) and traditionally served on the feast day.

The bread, though, is not for eating. My great-grandmother baked it nearly 70 years ago, promising to St. Joseph that she would bake a loaf of bread for everyone on her Brooklyn street if my grandfather (named Giuseppe, the Italian form of Joseph) came home whole from World War II. He did, and she kept her promise. The bread was then blessed.

My grandmother kept the bread, wrapped in the cloth napkin, in a drawer. When we moved in with my grandmother 20 years ago, my mom found the bread and asked my grandmother why she didn’t display the bread. Well, that night was our answer—a little mouse (which we didn’t know we had) came and nibbled a bit off the end of the loaf. Back in the draw it went for safekeeping, and since then, it’s only brought out on March 19.

It’s amazing how intact the bread is, considering it’s nearly 70 years old. If you didn’t know it was as hard as a brick, you’d think it was fresh and edible. There’s been no mold, shrinkage, or any other nibbles since (given its age, we’re soon going to buy a glass display case for it). It’s truly an amazing piece of my family’s history.