Category: family bonding


January 22nd, 2014 — 4:01pm

There are some milestones in life you can’t help but celebrate with great fanfare and reflection. The big 4-0 is one of them—and it’s been a celebration even sweeter than I could have imagined.

The festivities began over a week ago, during a lively dinner with my fellow turning 40 galpal Bobbi and several of our friends. We enjoyed a delicious three-course meal and dancing at sprawling Meatpacking District hotspot Manon.

Birthday Girls: Bobbi and me

This past weekend, I continued the fun with family. My brothers and sisters-in-law came in from Dover and Boston respectively, joining my sister, aunt and cousins for a very special meal at .

Best brothers in the world: (from left) Ray, me and Steve

There’s good reason why Il Cantinori has such a storied reputation (and, natch, was the location for Carrie’s 35th birthday non-dinner on Sex And The City). We were well taken care of in a private room downstairs, which was beautifully adorned with flowers and candlelight. The ambience, food and service were all fantastic. But the best part for me was being surrounding by the people I love most.

There was something magical in the air that reminded me of the many happy family occasions we were so blessed to have when my parents were still with us. Though I will miss them forever, on this night my heart felt nothing but joy and gratitude.

After dinner, I joined my cousins at for 80’s cover band ’s first gig in their new home (the awesome closed a few weeks ago, *sigh*).

Family Bonding: Me and my cousins (from left) Carla, Dana and Alexandra

As always, they rocked it out, this time with an assist from American Idol and “Rock of Ages” alum Constantine Maroulis.

Constantine wowed the crowd

Yesterday, my actual birthday, was quieter but equally wonderful. After a delightful lunch with good friend Vicky at Midtown bistro Gente, I pampered myself with a massage at Bliss 49. The evening was spent with my beloved cousin and soul sister Alexandra, enjoying dinner at Baraonda on the UES (yes, I can never get enough Italian food!) followed by drinks nearby at Bounce.

Happy Birthday to me!

During my massage, the therapist and I talked about turning 40. Now 45, she shared some of the wisdom and growth that has come to her in this decade. At the top of the list — feeling completely comfortable in her own skin. It’s a sentiment similar to what I’ve heard from many of the fabulous fortysomething women I’m so fortunate to know.

Nurturing that self-assuredness is one of my goals for this milestone year and decade. I feel like I’m beginning an exciting new chapter in my life. And I’m so thankful to have wonderful family and friends to share it with.

40 and fabulous indeed!

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February 27th, 2013 — 9:10pm

When it comes to travel, sometimes mixing business with pleasure produces the best kind of trip. That’s exactly what happened with my five-day jaunt to Florida.

It began with a weekend in Jacksonville to visit my Titi (auntie in Spanish) Eneida. Titi defies her 72 years, with a vibrant, energetic spirit to match her youthful, trim looks.

Titi Eneida and me in St. Augustine

Saturday, we made the short drive to St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city. A charming beachside hamlet known for its rich history, Spanish-influenced architecture and unique shopping, St. Augustine is a fun excursion. Titi and I spent the afternoon strolling around pedestrian alleys, browsing everything from a New Age boutique and vintage candy shop to a garden flag store.

Along the way, we stopped at French Fry Heaven, a Jacksonville franchise that takes this indulgent side to a whole other level. We shared a cone of parmesan garlic fries. In a word, yumm!

French Fry Heaven's GarlicParm supreme fries are delish

Capping off our action-packed afternoon, a late-afternoon stop at St. Augustine’s Premium Outlets just in time to take advantage of Coach’s 50% off handbag sale. Huzzah.

Sunday was spent mostly in the kitchen, watching Titi cook to perfection some of the Puerto Rican dishes that remind me of growing up and my beloved late grandmother, who was born and raised on the island. Joining the festivities were my cousins Monica and Steven and their families. All of us savored every bite of Titi’s homemade arroz, platanos and meat-filled empanadas.

In between all of the shopping, eating and catching up, Titi and I did a lot of reminiscing about my beloved, late mom. The legacy of family is one of many great gifts she left me. Being with Titi was a wonderful, much-needed reminder of that.

Coming up…part two of my Florida getaway and my first-ever super-sized experience as part of the Starwood Hotels & Resorts team.

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May 23rd, 2010 — 3:02pm

All Smiles: Barb and me in Rehoboth

Yesterday, Chris and I joined my brother and sister-in-law Ray and Barb for a relaxing afternoon at Delaware’s Rehoboth Beach.

Our first stop – Grotto Pizza, the state’s best, for lunch and fun conversation about Ray and Barb’s courtship. They first met when Ray pulled over to assist Barb with car trouble. He asked her out, she accepted as a thank you for his help and with no intention of seeing him again.

Shortly thereafter, a huge arrangement of flowers – with Ray’s phone number – greeted Barb upon arriving in her new apartment. She didn’t call, so after a week passed, he gave her a ring. That was that and nearly two decades later, they’re still blissfully happy. When it comes to love, there’s something to be said for persistence.

After lunch, the four of us strolled along the recently-renovated boardwalk, enjoying the perfect spring weather and some delicious ice cream.

Saturdays don’t get any better than this.

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September 1st, 2009 — 9:30pm

Friday night, I had the pleasure of catching up with my cousin Carla over drinks at Bounce, a lively sports bar and restaurant on NYC’s Upper East Side.

Bounce: A good place for happy hour and, on occasion, mingling with men who love sports

Bounce was serving up 2-for-1 happy hour specials, so I treated us to some flavorful frozen margaritas that tasted more like daiquiris (note: strawberry tops coconut here).

Carla and I hadn’t seen each other since the start of summer, so we had lots to talk about. Among the threads of conversation – moving on from no-good old flames, the inevitable expiration date of summer flings and the pleasures of a good meal.

Calories be damned, we indulged our gastronomic whims and headed over to nearby Cilantro for tasty Mexican fare. There’s no better way to start the weekend than over a shared plate of guacamole with one of your favorite people who just happens to also be family. Even if — now that I’m in Single Gal slimdown mode — it means spending more time at the gym.

Coming up…a long-awaited visit to the set of SATC2 and a trip to the US Open.

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September 1st, 2009 — 4:30pm

Friday night, I had the pleasure of catching up with my cousin Carla over drinks at Bounce, a lively sports bar and restaurant on NYC’s Upper East Side.

Bounce: A good place for happy hour and, on occasion, mingling with men who love sports

Bounce was serving up 2-for-1 happy hour specials, so I treated us to some flavorful frozen margaritas that tasted more like daiquiris (note: strawberry tops coconut here).

Carla and I hadn’t seen each other since the start of summer, so we had lots to talk about. Among the threads of conversation – moving on from no-good old flames, the inevitable expiration date of summer flings and the pleasures of a good meal.

Calories be damned, we indulged our gastronomic whims and headed over to nearby Cilantro for tasty Mexican fare. There’s no better way to start the weekend than over a shared plate of guacamole with one of your favorite people who just happens to also be family. Even if — now that I’m in Single Gal slimdown mode — it means spending more time at the gym.

Coming up…a long-awaited visit to the set of SATC2 and a trip to the US Open.

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July 16th, 2009 — 10:26pm

Last weekend, I left the hustle and bustle behind and headed to the Poconos for some family fun. After a breezy two-hour drive into the heart of Pennsylvania’s lush territory, I arrived at the home of my Uncle Chucky, Titi (a.k.a Auntie) Rosie and younger cousin Melanie.

Family Bonding: (from left) Titi Rosie, my cousin Melanie and Mel’s eight-month-old cutie Caden

Uncle Chuck threw some burgers on the grill and we talked about their upcoming trip to Aruba. The getaway will be their first alone together since Melanie was born 20 years ago, so Rosie was wondering how they’d fare without her. With a laugh, Rosie acknowledged she’s more of a talker than Uncle Chuck, which got us on the subject of women in general needing to converse more than the opposite sex.

Speaking of girl talk, Rosie and I later did plenty of it – about how relationships evolve over time and how, the longer you’re single, the more difficult it can be to open yourself up to someone new.

Rosie empathized, recalling that because of her painful divorce, she had no interest in marriage when she first met Uncle Chuck. She said you never know how a relationship is going to unfold, that even a bumpy start doesn’t necessarily rule out happily ever after.

Her insight gave me pause. As someone who’s made a career out of identifying why Mr. Right For Now can only be just that, it’s nice to think that, someday, I might end up being surprised by his longevity.

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July 16th, 2009 — 5:26pm

Last weekend, I left the hustle and bustle behind and headed to the Poconos for some family fun. After a breezy two-hour drive into the heart of Pennsylvania’s lush territory, I arrived at the home of my Uncle Chucky, Titi (a.k.a Auntie) Rosie and younger cousin Melanie.

Family Bonding: (from left) Titi Rosie, my cousin Melanie and Mel’s eight-month-old cutie Caden

Uncle Chuck threw some burgers on the grill and we talked about their upcoming trip to Aruba. The getaway will be their first alone together since Melanie was born 20 years ago, so Rosie was wondering how they’d fare without her. With a laugh, Rosie acknowledged she’s more of a talker than Uncle Chuck, which got us on the subject of women in general needing to converse more than the opposite sex.

Speaking of girl talk, Rosie and I later did plenty of it – about how relationships evolve over time and how, the longer you’re single, the more difficult it can be to open yourself up to someone new.

Rosie empathized, recalling that because of her painful divorce, she had no interest in marriage when she first met Uncle Chuck. She said you never know how a relationship is going to unfold, that even a bumpy start doesn’t necessarily rule out happily ever after.

Her insight gave me pause. As someone who’s made a career out of identifying why Mr. Right For Now can only be just that, it’s nice to think that, someday, I might end up being surprised by his longevity.

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February 8th, 2009 — 12:14am

This weekend, I’m enjoying a little getaway to Dover, Delaware’s sleepy but sweet capital city, and some quality time with my brother Ray and sister-in-law Barb.

Mi Familia: I took this picture of Ray and Barb at the Jersey Shore, May 2007
After a delicious home-cooked breakfast courtesy of Barb (melt in your mouth fried eggs and English muffins), we continued our tradition of bargain hunting with a visit to Shoe Show, a Payless-esque store where I struck footwear gold. Two pairs of shoes and three pairs of slippers for $56 – a welcome change of pace, so to speak, from price points in my beloved Big Apple.

Another tradition – going to Franco’s, a longtime favorite, for dinner. A casual neighborhood eatery serving up tasty, traditional Italian fare, Franco’s has a deserved reputation for being one of Dover’s best. Italy-born Franco and his charming wife Louisa, who greeted us with big hugs and kisses, really make you feel like family.

Over a shared plate of lightly breaded calamari and some superb pasta entrees (the fettucini carbonara was heavenly), Ray, Barb and I talked about the $650 million Delaware budget gap that could lead to a first-ever state sales tax, the allure of New Orleans and the superiority of snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef over anywhere else.

As we left Franco’s, I couldn’t help thinking how rare it is that going somewhere makes you feel like you’re coming home. And how lucky I am to feel that way whenever I visit Ray and Barb.

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February 7th, 2009 — 7:14pm

This weekend, I’m enjoying a little getaway to Dover, Delaware’s sleepy but sweet capital city, and some quality time with my brother Ray and sister-in-law Barb.

Mi Familia: I took this picture of Ray and Barb at the Jersey Shore, May 2007
After a delicious home-cooked breakfast courtesy of Barb (melt in your mouth fried eggs and English muffins), we continued our tradition of bargain hunting with a visit to Shoe Show, a Payless-esque store where I struck footwear gold. Two pairs of shoes and three pairs of slippers for $56 – a welcome change of pace, so to speak, from price points in my beloved Big Apple.

Another tradition – going to Franco’s, a longtime favorite, for dinner. A casual neighborhood eatery serving up tasty, traditional Italian fare, Franco’s has a deserved reputation for being one of Dover’s best. Italy-born Franco and his charming wife Louisa, who greeted us with big hugs and kisses, really make you feel like family.

Over a shared plate of lightly breaded calamari and some superb pasta entrees (the fettucini carbonara was heavenly), Ray, Barb and I talked about the $650 million Delaware budget gap that could lead to a first-ever state sales tax, the allure of New Orleans and the superiority of snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef over anywhere else.

As we left Franco’s, I couldn’t help thinking how rare it is that going somewhere makes you feel like you’re coming home. And how lucky I am to feel that way whenever I visit Ray and Barb.

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January 31st, 2009 — 10:43pm

There’s something to be said for an unexpected change of plans and the anticipation it creates for rescheduling.

Last weekend, the one-two punch of jetlag and a cold derailed my birthday plans. Tonight, at last, I will get to celebrate the big 3-5 with some of my best gal pals. An added bonus — the presence of my cousin Chris, in town from Delaware for the weekend.

With just three weeks between us, Chris and I shared some great times growing up. We eventually progressed from teasing each other mercilessly to bonding over the twists and turns of our respective love lives and mutual appreciation for the single life.

I think Chris is probably looking forward to tonight as much as I am — he’ll be the only guy at our table!

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