Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Bright Holiday Gift Ideas from a Cape Cod "Washashore"

This time of year can be overwhelming for many.  Are you befuddled about creative gift ideas this holiday season?  Between Thanksgiving and Christmas most of us are consumed with finding the perfect items for family, colleagues and sometimes the good old fashioned Yankee swap.  As a recent “washashore” I have learned that Cape Cod is the perfect place to begin holiday shopping.  

Before you start, however, you should ask a few questions.  Let's face it, how many people on your list need another bottle of wine, a sweater or hand lotion?  Since the pandemic there has been a shift from big box retail shopping to a more creative gifting approach. 


Each village in the Cape has local artists and small boutique type stores.  Love Live Local Cape Cod is an organization that represents small individual businesses and offers a gift guide for those who like online shopping. They also sponsor a holiday fair Saturday, December 3 in Hyannis to introduce consumers to many great local vendors.

Do you need a Gnome for Your Home?  One of a Kind Gnome has custom-designed gnomes for pet owners, newlyweds and other original requests.  These can be ordered on their facebook page. 

If you are a dog lover for $5.00 you can find the 2023 Patriotic Pooches of Cape Cod Calendar at local shops in Sandwich or on their facebook page.  The Sandwich Arts Alliance on 6a features several local artists and author works in their gift shop.  The Plum Porch in Marston Mills offers online live shopping for those who want to buy Cape Cod treats from their laps.

Each weekend between now and Christmas there are festivals and holiday bazaars with plenty of handmade crafts in almost every Cape village from the mainland to the Islands.  Check Cape Cod Xplore for up to date postings of events.

If you are a foodie there are many creative ways to gift from homemade to farm to table meals and desserts. Down the Cape Concierge has put together a great site featuring some great Cape Cod focused foodie gift ideas. 

Perhaps you want to spread a little culture through your gift-giving.  The Cape is home to many cultural and creative arts venues.  How about season tickets to a musical? ArtsCapeCod is a great way to check out upcoming shows and venues. Also did you know the Cape has over 25 museums and most offer season memberships as well as gift shop items for an education themed gift.  Check the Cape Cod Museum Trail for quick inspiration.

Don’t forget to be good to yourself this holiday season. Perhaps you may want to look at these gift ideas and treat yourself to some theater tickets or a museum pass.  Many of the venues offer discounts this month for enjoyment that can be spread throughout the year.  

Lastly,  my book Coffee Connections is an original idea for your coffee lover giftees and pairs well with a coffee shop gift card or mug.  It can be purchased here or for a signed copy ($20 with shipping in the U.S.) email 1bellacose@gmail.com to order directly.

I wish you a wonderful holiday season and welcome any other creative ideas you may want to share in the comments section.  


Wendy is a Realtor and freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She recently published her first book, Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground Through My Daily Brew.  Wendy enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments. 

If you like her writing and want to support these efforts, please  CLICK HERE

Sunday, October 23, 2022

There's more to a Book than Its Cover

 


I grew up in a library. Instead of wallpaper, our living room d├ęcor was a wall-to-wall bookshelf. My Dad had each book perfectly lined up and inserted exactly one-half inch from the shelf line. If someone removed a book, it had to be replaced to the exact spot. To be sure, he would double-check with his tape measure. 


It was ingrained in both me and my younger brother Maxwell that books must be treated like a best friend. One should always respect a book and never write inside the book or overforce it's binding. A read book should always look brand new. 


I have followed these rules for most of my adult life and came to appreciate the importance of books as I matured.  I never wrote in a textbook until it became the norm in college and then only when the book was used with some prior writing in its margins. 


To this day I am an avid reader and book.  I can get lost for hours in the rows of books at a bookstore or local library. I agree with my dad that books are like best friends. A good book can entertain or broaden one’s perspectives on life. A good book can transport the reader to new places and ideas. There is nothing like reading a novel until the wee hours of the night because you can’t put it down. A beach read enhances any vacation and a cookbook brings memories of home meals to your sense. After finishing a book, it is great to share the content amongst friends, book clubs, and random people you see holding a copy while waiting in line for coffee at places such as a local Starbucks. 


Perhaps this explains why I was so excited to see a part time position posted at my local library. I think this would be a dream job at this stage of my life and applied immediately. Although I don’t have library science skills, I have grown up amongst books my entire life. As a child I learned to respect and appreciate the physical book. As an adult, good content has been incorporated into everything I do.

Books have been a constant companion in my daily life. I read both for pleasure, education and self-help. I read fiction and non-fiction, eBooks and hard copy. A position at the library would allow me to be amongst the great writers of the world and readers who also share my love of books.  I will share if I am considered for this position.  

Wendy is a Realtor and freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She recently published her first book, Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground Through My Daily Brew.  Wendy enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments. 

If you like her writing and want to support these efforts, please  CLICK HERE




Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Life Beyond the Roc

My niece moved to Rochester this past April and suggested I visit  once she settled in.  I planned a trip this past weekend to see her having low expectations of what to expect in this area unknown to me. I have since learned that one should not prejudge, there are many great American cities to explore and Rochester is high on the list. In fact, it was just rated as the top most neighborly city in the US.



Rochester was a very wealthy demographic in the early 1900s to mid-century and considered one of the first Boomtowns with industries including Eastman Kodak, Bausch and Lomb and many large flour mills.  as well as 2 major universities.  There are many great older homes that have been converted into apartments within the original structure.  One of my favorite places to visit was the George Eastman Museum (founder of Eastman Kodak).  He was an amazing inventor, philanthropist and visionary who has impacted each of our lives (how often do you take photos on your phone, these days?). Wandering the streets is a step back in time to the grandeur of the past century. 

As a former industrial city many of the older warehouses and factories have been converted into residential or commercial spaces featuring boutiques and upscale restaurants.   There are beautiful parks throughout the city and a great Public Market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays to buy fresh produce and amazing apple cider doughnuts. If you are a foodie like me, keep exploring as you will be truly find nirvana. A few I examples include NOSH, BRANCA Midtown, and Locals Only (of course the name was a huge draw). The city is constantly being revitalized and amazing restaurants are abound. The cost of living is a fraction of lower New York and many other New England destinations although the quality of life may be much higher.

There is culture, arts, and wonderful places to walk around through the city and one can walk from a beautiful neighborhood to downtown safely with minimal traffic. Many corners boast local coffee shops and honestly I didn’t even seek or find one Starbucks.  I tried a few great roasts at Equal Grounds and Locals Only.  If you have read my book you know I am always on the search for new coffee connections although the venue with that name in Rochester didn't make my go-to list.

Perhaps the greatest discovery is how easy it is to get to Rochester. Direct flights take under two hours; if you have the time, it should be a fairly easy drive from most Northeast bases.  By planning ahead you can find great stops along the journey.  

Once arriving in Rochester, if you fly you may want to rent a car.  You can’t possibly see everything in a short time as there is a  lot to see beyond the city limits.  For instance, if time permits within less than a few hours drive are Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and Wine Country with over 200 small wineries.  Lastly



Toronto and Niagara Falls are perfect for weekend trips.  

I spent three days in Rochester and now know it is a place to return for a longer stay.  As such I am planning to plan a visit next May for the Lilac Festival and will hopefully visit some of the nearby wineries.

Perhaps the greatest thing I learned this past weekend was how many places there are to explore in our own backyards.  It is much easier to fill your car with gas and pick a new place to visit than many other tourist "fly to" destinations.  You may find other great places that truly "ROC" like Rochester and if so I welcome you to share them in the comments section.  

Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments.  

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Fall Activities on Cape Cod.

I write blogposts for Cape Cod Xplore and wanted to share them on this platform as well for my followers. Below is my latest.

It's fall and there are a lot of great activities for kids of all ages.  Check my post here to learn more.  



Sunday, September 4, 2022

Interview by Matt Robinson from the Writer's Block with Wendy Bornstein, Author of Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground with My Daily Brew

    


Click here to buy a copy of Coffee Connections Book.

Wendy is a Realtor, freelance writer and first time author. She loves walking her dog, traveling, cooking, theater arts, meeting new people and connecting with family and friends over a cup of coffee.  

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Our Bodies, Our Selves- a delayed book review

When I was a student at Newton South High School, I took a course with Ms. Hansberry, an English teacher who taught an elective course focused on a newly published (1970) book Our Bodies, Our Selves. The book has since been revised several times and most recently has been updated to serve as a comprehensive women’s health care guide. The 70s were a time of sexual revolution for women. We had been granted the right to abortion and choice in 1973.

At the time I took this course as an elective to meet my core graduation requirements with an easy “A”. I admit I wasn’t an all-out feminist at the time and really just wanted the credit. I didn’t need to be because the difficult fights for my freedoms were fought by the brave women a generation or so ahead of me. It was eye-opening to learn about the struggles of women’s rights in context of this course but the right to choose was now a given as I was about to enter the age of potential sexual activity.

Reflecting on the granting decision of Roe vs Wade this was a monumental right of equality that needed to be set. Many of my generation and future generations took this decision for granted as our fundamental right. We expected to be equal in all our freedoms. The "Women's Lib Movement" had done the hard work.

Once a constitution right is given, how can it be taken away? The consequences of this past week's Supreme Court decision to uphold Roe vs. Wade will affect the lives and health of millions. All people should have the fundamental right to make their own health decisions. It astonishes me that a fundamental health right can be rescinded. 

Women should not be forced to live in an alpha-male dystopia like The Hand Maid’s Tale. Women should not be considered vehicles that can be impregnated and forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. I do not think abortion should be used as a method of birth control, however I do think that if a women’s body is violated or she has personal reasons or health concerns she should have the right to choose if she wants to carry a pregnancy. This should be a human right in any civilized society.

It is now up to each of us to stand up and fight for our individual freedoms. I went to my first rally yesterday on the Cape. Our voices must be heard.  Many ask where can we do right now? Here is a link from today's NYT with some immediate guidance


State elections are more important than ever. Organizations like Vote Save America will share important information at the state level. 

Each vote will count on the local level. If you are not registered to vote it is your obligation to vote if you want change. Please click here to register. Every VOTE will count. I now understand the IMPORTANCE of LOCAL ELECTIONS. 

When I read Our Bodies, Our Selves over 50 years ago, I took the course as one of my less serious “electives” to get an easy “A” but honestly can't remember if I did. Although my ultimate grade is not significant, I now realize it was one of the most monumental classes I took before graduating. I now appreciate Ms. Hansberry and her ability to open the eyes of me and my classmates. This book should be on everyone's summer reading list. 

Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments. 


Sunday, June 12, 2022

Finding Balance in Today's World


Within a few minutes of disappointing news this morning, I heard a loud noise coming from my bedroom.  A mannequin that stands on three legs collapsed. As a writer, I also look for symbolism around me to tie my thoughts together.



Perhaps the fall of this avatar-like persona often dressed up in a fashionable outfit with coordinated accessories was meant as a lesson of the importance of balance in our lives. The third leg was added to make an unsecured figure keep upright. To have proper balance, one needs to be equally footed; the third leg would make this impossible.

I went on a bike ride to clear my head and process the news I heard earlier. Fresh air and time alone were needed to maintain better equilibrium. I felt better after doing some exercise and having time to better reflect on my own intrinsic needs. 

As we each approach a new week, keep in mind that with the daily challenges life brings us we must always keep grounded and know where one stands. It is crucial to be able to share your true thoughts and not hide behind a costumed persona. I will keep this new image in my head as I move forward and begin the week ahead.


Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments.  



Saturday, May 14, 2022

How to break a Strange Loop


Last week I saw the new musical by Michael R. Jackson,  A Strange Loop and it made me think about the loops in my life. The key character in the play was a gay usher who wanted to write a musical about his coming out to share who he was with his family and audience. He initially allowed his thought patterns to limit development of his story throughout the show (his inner conscience was played by the other 6 cast members). There are no spoiler alerts here, except that by the end he overcame his inner obstacles to create a musical nominated for 11 Tony Awards. 

The key takeaway from the play is that we often limit our internal beliefs by not being able to accept the reality around us.  As author, Mark Manson shares in a recent article  about being stuck, this is similiar to an elephant being tied to a pole. If we open our eyes to new possibilities, we can move forward and incorporate changes into our lives. We are each responsible for our own stories.

The saying “love is blind” applies to many aspects of our lives. You may be in a trancelike state when you start something new or likewise idealize a situation you face. Often your endorphins are on high alert and the dopamine’s create a sense of comfort for you. On the flip side, you may experience extreme anger when something doesn’t go the way you expect. Sometimes you blame others and stage yourself as the victim.

 


Once the experience begins to level off you need to look introspectively. This should be a wake-up call.  Pay attention to the inner and outer voices around you. Accept when it is time to move on. Take ownership of the positive and negatives in your life and use them as opportunities to heighten self-awareness and personal development. Sometimes outside intervention can be helpful to attain emotional balance. 

If you continue to stay "stuck in the loop" you will not be true to yourself.  You are only causing yourself damage. People change as do thought patterns. We each need to accept this and move on. Allow each day to open doors and windows. This may mean you need to get out of your head and process reactions from those around you. Use these experiences to become self-aware and open to new beginnings. If not, you may not be able to create your story and will continue to stay stuck in A Strange Loop.

Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments.  

Thursday, May 5, 2022

As We Celebrate Mother's Day What Makes You Happy?

 


We are often asked this question as an ice breaker with new friends, during job interviews, or at random social gatherings.  This topic comes up frequently. There are numerous books and google searches for the secret to happiness. It is asked in one form or another at every networking event attended. Happiness appears to be a trendy status measure and thus we are quick to answer.  The expectation is that everyone around us is happy. We are inundated with shares of how great life is on all forms of social media platforms. On the surface, it is easy to say we are happy but what does this mean? There is so much going on in the world, and to navigate life’s daily challenges, I have attempted to better understand my path to happiness. 

As an avid reader and student of life's curiosities, I began exploring this concept several years back when I read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin.  She looked at a multitude of things we normally do with ideas to be more intentional with focus. The goal is to make our lives more meaningful and fulfilling. My approach was to read one chapter per month as I tackled little things that made my day-to-day life happy. Examples included making time to listen to others, clearing physical space to be able to work, and exercising routines to clear my mind. I also read Maria Condo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and figured out how to find “joy” in the things I keep in possession. 

Last year I downsized and have started to begin a new life path that would allow me to explore this question in greater depth.  I am learning how to prioritize and say Let It Go to the things that weigh me down by setting boundaries and doing things I want to focus on. It takes self-awareness to learn to say no and that we can’t do it all.  There are only so many hours in a day and we need to figure out what will bring the most satisfaction for the effort expended. 

Over the past year, I have started to shift my career focus to freelance writing. I have been taking courses with the AWAI where this topic often comes up in writing prompts. Most recently as a writer, I began posting “happiness is” posts on Instagram as my form of a gratitude journal. I am trying to figure out what makes me happy on a more focused basis at the end of each day.

My passion has always been to help people find the right resources to achieve their goals.  I see myself as a connector.  I have been strong as a project manager and therefore my brain automatically thinks about the task at hand and the pieces needed to get the desired result.  This can be simple things like someone needing a helping hand with a household project or working with a non-profit to plan a fundraising benefit event. I particularly love things centered around the arts and have been a producer for over 30 community theater-based musicals. 

As I was thinking about this theme today as I just purchased tickets to see the revival of Funny Girl on Broadway this weekend. The song People had just come on Amazon music. I have always considered myself a people person. It clicked that this is what makes me happy. The opportunity for me to be around others to create a positive result from our connection makes me happy. 



In my new book Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground Through My Daily Brew I use coffee to connect with others. The book's primary theme is how coffee meet-ups have served as a mechanism to find a common bonding before tackling a project. I flourish when I can be with others, and we connect for a mutually beneficial cause. This motivates and makes me happy. I guess I can answer the question as I better understand that “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world”. I hope everyone reading this will be inspired to figure out what makes them happy. Wishing all the great MOMS out there a Happy Mother's Day!!

Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.   She welcomes your comments.  


Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Ten Plagues would have been enough, Dayenu!



Is Covid the Eleventh plague?  Thousands of years ago Hebrew slaves quickly left Egypt to escape the Pharaoh's oppression. The success of escape was time-sensitive and basically, the Jewish people had to pick up and leave their homes immediately. Some were in process of baking and Matza symbolizes that there was no time to allow baked bread to rise. This becomes the primary food staple consumed during the eight days of Passover. 

The seder meal is a dinner to commemorate the escape and there is symbolism for each event from this time. The ancient Hebrews were enslaved under the tyranny of Pharoah.  Moses, the infant of a slave, was sent by his family in a raft to be freed.  He was found and raised as the Pharoah’s “stepson” when found by his wife who was childless. She raised him to become a great leader.  As he grew, he learned of his Hebrew heritage and became the “Chosen One” to bring his people to freedom.  As the Exodus occurred 10 plagues were set upon the Egyptians to secure a safe departure.  

Each year the Jewish people gather to tell this story to our children.  We often reflect and relate it to more contemporary times.  It has been a family tradition to gather with immediate and extended family for a Seder dinner to honor this celebration. The Seder dinner has been going on for thousands of years and continues to be shared with future generations. Many religions have seders as well to share the ideas of escapes to freedom. A focal point of the dinner is the Seder plate placed on the dinner table with foods representing the exodus. In the center of the Seder Plate is a cup of wine for the Prophet, Elijah.

The Seder has always been part of my life and there are many great memories I have from growing up.  As a child, I remember going to my Grandma Sarah’s every year in Cambridge for our festive meal.  We would arrive early to prepare the food for the Seder plate.  One of my favorites was the “charoset” which is a mixture of apples, walnuts, and wine to symbolize the bricks the slaves used to build the Pyramids.    We would also prepare foods such as bitter herbs to resemble the plagues. 

A highlight of the Seder meal was Grandma’s matza balls. They were a bit sweet and very fluffy and so delicious that nobody could eat just one.  Of course, we also had brisket and other amazing treats throughout the dinner.  

One tradition of the Seder is to welcome guests old and new and to leave a place for a stranger who may appear. Hospitality and welcoming are very important to most Jewish homes. The dinner celebrates redemption. There is a myth that Elijah the Prophet tests each Jewish family’s hospitality with a quick visit.  When it was “time” for Elijah to pop in, we would open the porch door and sing a welcome song.  My grandfather would slightly shake the table and say, “Elijah just had a sip of wine”. The running joke was that he probably got drunk taking a sip at every Jewish home. He stayed for a minute or two until it got cold, and we had to close the porch door. There was nothing that could keep me away from this dinner.

As I grew up and my parents and grandparents aged the tradition of holding a seder became mine. Since the birth of my firstborn, Greg we hosted this dinner.  Unless I was visiting my brother in Baltimore, the holiday would be held at our home.

During the first year of Covid, we were all in quarantine and the guest list was limited to our immediate bubble. We did a virtual seder with my brother and cousins to keep the tradition alive. Last year, we were in process of selling our family home and the tradition moved to our new residence.  It was again much smaller with the limited bubble of participants.

This year I had planned to go to visit family in Baltimore for the Seders.  A few nights ago, I attended a dinner party and subsequently learned one of the guests tested positive for covid the next day. This was my first direct exposure to someone with Covid. 

I now need to quarantine, and it is too risky to travel. I have been self-testing with negative results so far, but it is too early to determine if I will get a covid.  The earliest recommendation per the CDC for a PCR test is day 5 which will be Friday, the day of the first seder.  The results won’t come in until the Seder has Passed over. 

This will be the first time the thread of gathering for a seder with my family will be broken due to Covid risk. I am saddened by this and am hoping this is an anomaly and I don’t get plagued with Covid. At the end of every Seder dinner, it is traditional to sing the song Dayenu (which means it would have been enough) and to say, “Next Year in Jerusalem”, wishing for the pursuit of freedom in the Promised Land.  This year it may also be appropriate to add “Next Year without Covid”.  Wishing you and yours a Happy and Redeeming Passover.



Wendy is a Realtor and Freelance writer residing on Cape Cod. She enjoys networking and writing to connect her ideas and curiosities with people she meets.  Her first book, Coffee Connections: Finding Common Ground Through My Daily Brew was published last fall. She welcomes your comments.