The Best Grilled Cheese

Having to get up at 5:30 in the morning on a non working day is not my idea of excitement unless I’m going on vacation. Carlos had a doctor appointment in Boston for his neck, and being the supportive team member I am, I gladly accompanied him on the 2 hour road trip to the big city. After leaving the appointment and running on what fumes we had left from our coffee stop we were ready to eat - one of my favorite things to do. 

Since we don’t typically find ourselves in the Boston area very often, we wanted to eat somewhere super yummy that we can’t get close to home. I did a quick search on my Google maps to see what was nearby and saw Cheesy Street Grill. The reviews were great, almost 5 stars and everyone had something awesome to say about the food and staff. I was sold. I mean c’mon, gourmet grilled cheese that’s amazing…who just passes that up? 

I plug it in and we end up at a gas station stop off the pike. First I was thinking no way this is right. Carlos even suggests we go somewhere else because this wasn’t what he had in mind. If you’re not aware, the pike offers rest stops that are less than appetizing. It’s usually overcrowded, semi dirty and your food choices are generally Mc Donalds, some sort of pizza place and a sandwich shop. It’s not your ideal place to stop and get a bite unless you’ve been trapped in the car for 8 hours, have to pee, and going to start eating your fingers if you don’t see a drive thru stat. But, at 4 . 8 stars and awesome reviews I was more curious than anything to find out what was really going on inside this rest stop. 

We walked in to find the Cheesy Street Grill right next to a pizza place and a Mc Donalds. The menu is simple but amazing, which I love. Carlos ordered an Italian sandwich which was a delicious mixture of cheese, prosciutto and red peppers with some other yummy ingredients and I had the chipotle chicken, which was recommended by Lisa the owner. The food was nothing short of everything you could ever hope a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich would be. I have to say that given the location I was happily surprised at how delicious these sandwiches were. 


Lisa was awesome. She started her yummy sandwiches out on a food truck and then moved into a solid location. She has two other places in the eastern part of Massachusetts but was looking to put her next location into the soon to be opened Springfield Casino. This excites me, that casino will be 15 minutes from me and I can’t wait to add another local place to my picky list of places you just have to eat at! I’m so glad we found this little gem, and Lisa is just the sweetest. I’m looking forward to checking her spot out in Springfield soon.  - Check them out at


Axe Throwing

So my younger brother saw a place in Brooklyn, NY on Facebook that had an axe throwing bar. We all thought this could turn into a really cool trip out to New York, but as it turns out, we have an axe throwing bar right here in Massachusetts called Agawam Axe. Well it’s not a bar, more like axe throwing with a snack bar. Either way, the thought of throwing around axes as a method of fun sounds…well….fun! 

We gathered a few friends and off we were to throw some axes. Honestly we had no idea what to actually expect. We pulled up to a small warehouse and walked in to be greeted by some really awesome staff. I believe they were all from Canada and were more than stoked to get us in and show us their stuff. 

I have to say, this was the most fun I’ve had in a bit. Probably due to the fact that I was somehow a complete natural at throwing axes (who knew!) and was kicking everyone’s butt! There were 4 throwing lanes with 2 wooden axe boards in each lane so you could compete against your friends. Everyone had so much fun trying to get a bullseye and trying out small and large axes to see which one was better. 


You get an hour of play and it seems to pass by perfectly. By the time we were all axed out we had about 3 minutes left before we were done. The price wasn’t bad at $20 a person. If you compared this to doing an escape room, which is also $20 a person, I would say your money is far better spent axe throwing. I am totally looking forward to going back. I personally think this place would be spectacular if they had a sports bar type of place connected to it, but it seems to be just enough on its own. It’s a totally fun idea for girls night, date night or hell, even if you want to go alone and let out some frustration. It’s plain good, clean fun and has Carlos and I considering something of the like in our backyard for the summer. 

Divorced ~ Not Broken

I could go miles on this subject but to spare you the 300 pages I’ll keep it as simple as I can. :)

Getting a divorce these days is seemingly just as easy as getting married, and sometimes can cost just as much. It’s nothing I think that any person is proud of doing and certainly not anticipated in the beginning of the marriage. Divorce is a very emotionally and mentally tough thing to do no matter what the circumstances. It is a public declaration to everyone around you that your marriage didn’t work, you were wrong about her or him and now you have to start all over again. In so many cases it leaves a person feeling used up and broken. You now have this metaphorical baggage that you have to carry with you everywhere. You have this “thing” you have to break to every new relationship which can be a deal breaker in some cases. 

Then let’s say you’ve been divorced more than once. Well, hang up your shoes and put in your cat lady application because you’ve officially ruined your relationship future. Now every time someone asks, it becomes a long drawn out story to rectify that you’re not actually crazy.The thing is, this is so far from the reality of your actual life. This is what society makes you feel, how they see you. Now you have to settle for someone half as good or someone else who is divorced because you’ve already bought your train ticket. Then the second or third marriage becomes a teeny tiny ceremony that no one knew anything about because well it’s not the first so no need to send out those second round of wedding invitations. It’s like divorce strips you of the rights and happiness you actually deserve. 

I know there are plenty of people out there who can agree with me when I say that some of the most awesome couples I’ve ever met were divorced. Now, that doesn’t mean I think you have to get divorced to have a great marriage. It is possible to get it right the first time. But, if you don’t, all hope is not lost. I could offer you some amazing relationship insight based on my relationships that didn’t work out. You see, when you got a divorce you got this second chance to be more picky. You experienced something you didn’t like or maybe you did something terrible and your own actions ruined your marriage. Now you’ve learned a valuable lesson for the next relationship. A good relationship becomes so much more to you than it was the first time.

I will share something that I for sure never imagined I would let the world see. After my second marriage failed, I asked myself what I really wanted. What was I actually looking for? I needed to know what I wanted so that I wouldn’t settle for anything. This is important. Below is the actual message I wrote on August 1, 2015. I met Carlos (friends first) 11 days after I wrote this. 

The Man I Want Is….

he has college/degree just like I do.

he maintains a clean home, car, bathroom, bedroom, and no one else does it for him.

to his family, his friends, and most importantly to himself. He is not afraid to say no to something he may want because he knows it is not good for him in the long run. He takes care of his body internally and externally, he is not obsessed but enjoys feeling good and healthy.

he always has a goal, is always trying to better himself, he has a positive outlook about his future

Sense of humor
he isn’t afraid to laugh at himself, isn’t snobby, and can laugh at almost anything

but not cocky, he believes in himself and his abilities and in turn does not feel threatened by others who are competing with or against him. He can stand against a crowd with his own judgement and opinions and not waver.

He knows what he wants
he knows himself, what he likes, what he will and won’t tolerate, and what he does and does not want in life. He is not easily swayed or influenced into anything other than what he has decided for himself.

He can stand alone
he doesn’t need a chef, a maid, a mechanic, a yard man, or his mother. He can do for himself just fine and does not see a problem with it. He views taking care of himself as a part of being a responsible adult and not a job that he complains about.

He makes me feel beautiful, I don’t have to feel self-conscious around him. This guy makes me want to be the best me, I can literally tell him anything without fear of judgement. He doesn’t want to change me, he’s in love with who I am at that moment and is genuinely happy for my accomplishments and the good things that happen in my life. This guy is my teammate, I feel free with him, free to speak and act and think all on my own. I don’t have to ask for permission or a go ahead on anything, I do it simply and freely out of the deep respect I have for him as a person. There is no feelings of ownership or expectations - we just love being with each other and working together.

Since Carlos and I have been together it has been nothing short of amazing. Yes we have our rough times but it’s easy to work it out when you have someone who is reaching for the same goals you are. 

Divorce does not ruin you. It gives you a chance to have a do-over. I would rather be the person that takes my second chance than to be the person who dies miserable in a marriage they hated that held them back from a good life all in the name of morals. Do not allow others to make you feel less than you are. You are still a person, you will still be happy and you deserve a good life. 

House to Home: Dining Room Table

One thing that I love so much about Carlos is his ability to just make it happen. We work perfectly together, I’m the one that says “I really want to do this” and he is the one who actually makes it happen. I jump in and help where I can but the credit is due to my love. 

Because our dining room is small, square, and right in the middle of the home, we needed a table that could fit more than 5 people if needed and not take up as much space. Initially I wanted to build the coveted generic rectangle farm table that everyone loves. But honestly it would have been a pain for anyone sitting on the ends or trying to walk through one room to get to another. So I settled for a round table design that would fit the room perfectly. 

Carlos found some plans on Pinterest and used these plans to create the round top and a portion of the legs. Once he got the basic layout for the legs, we used spare pieces of wood to create the bottom design. The table top per the plans was set to be at 70 inches, which to me felt far to big. However, when the table top was finished it came out to about 68 inches, which was still too big to me. Carlos ensured me it wouldn’t be too big, but mostly because it was a lot of work to get that far and he wasn’t about to re-do it. :0)  After the table was put together we sanded and stained it with a gray stain from Home Depot. I was looking for an old finish so gray felt perfect to me. I believe we only did two coats of stain and then four coats of lacquer to seal everything in. 

During the lacquer portion I was getting antsy, you know how you get when you just want something to be done so you can move on to the next thing!? This is always how I am, I don’t know how Carlos deals with it. The time finally came, we could officially move the table into the dining room. I was super nervous, feeling that the table genuinely was still going to be too big despite what Carlos was telling me. Once it was in, it was big, it was really big! But in fairness we had been sitting at a table that barely fit four people for a long time, so I guess it would be dramatic to suddenly have a 6-8 person table sitting in your dining area. After a trip to hobby lobby for some table decor I realized that the table and its size were perfect. I guess you could say it grew on me.

We plan to put some protectors on the bottom to keep the table from scratching the floors and potentially a rug underneath for both added protection and decorative reasons but we will see. We also plan to sand down and stain the chairs in the future. Our next project will be a buffet table that will sit in the same room. But for now, I am enjoying the fruits of Carlos’ labor and my idea. *Cheers*

Friday Night Freak Out

If you’ve been granted the blessing of being in a blended family where the ex wife/husband is a mature adult capable of maintaining a healthy and functional co-parenting relationship - well then this post ain’t for you.

I and my love haven’t been so lucky. But looking for the positive we’ve learned a lot about the power of patience and being the bigger person. Now that the boys are getting older, it is starting to reflect in their ways toward us. 

But let’s get to the point here. We were supposed to pick up the boys last night, as we do every other week and we were merely 20 minutes away from the pick up time when Carlos receives a phone call from the ex. Then comes a message through the text app stating that the youngest had fallen off of a chair he was standing on and she was waiting to hear back from the pediatrician. < insert Jen’s response yelled out from the other room, "tell her to get him to the ER - and what the H - E - double hockey stick was he doing standing on a chair!" > Of course Carlos calls back immediately and to our shock - but not surprise - the littlest one had indeed fallen from a chair that he should’t have been standing on in the first place had he been supervised, but that’s not where this story peaks. No see, it’s when she informs Carlos that once he had fallen he passed out and apparently was out for quite a bit. It never occurred to her that she should call 911 or rush him to a hospital. She proceeded to try to wake him up, which included her smacking him on the face until he came to. Again, it never occurs to her to do much else other than call the pediatrician and wait for a response, which of course who knows how long that could have taken. In a controlled rage Carlos tells her to get him to a hospital immediately and he will meet her there. Very long story short, he is ok and thankfully it wasn’t bad. Of course once the night is over and Carlos is back home, he receives another app messages from the ex. She is thanking him for meeting her at the emergency room along with a bunch of other bogus things that didn’t happen. So now she attempts to back pedal through the app to clear her reputation. Not to mention she never uses the terms “thank you” or “I appreciate” in any way towards Carlos for anything and is everything but cordial when they communicate. I know I’m not alone in this absolutely bogus behavior. All I can do is sigh and roll my eyes here….


I can’t begin to explain the urge I had inside to run into that emergency room and shake her senseless. There are so many questions that ran through my mind, what if he hadn’t woken up or what if this had happened on a weekday, maybe she would have never told us anything. But of course, as this game goes, we must sit back and be patient. All we can do is document and wait….document and wait. I feel so bad for the kids. I feel bad for other couples who have to go through these same fiascos. It feels like you’re fighting a constant battle of good just waiting for the day of redemption. This is one small pebble in the sea of chaos we’ve put up with over the past two years. It’s draining, it’s frustrating and sometimes it's hopeless. Thankfully they are here with us this week and we know they’ll be safe. I hold on to the hope that one of these days they’ll be with us full time and we won’t have to worry about them so much.

Finding the Way Back

Once upon a time I was a healthy, active fit chick who loved the weight room and could eat the Cheesecake Factory's Chicken Carbonara and a slice of cheesecake all in one sitting. (These two things are very counterproductive but somehow I managed to pull it off at the time) I ran into some pretty rough life hurdles and had to make some changes that added about 40 pounds to my once slim figure seemingly fast. Eventually I found myself adjusting to a new job, city, lifestyle and step kids and everything and anything around me took precedence over myself. 

Recently, upon turning 30, I have found a routine for life that seems to be going well and have switched my focused back to myself. If you and your mind are not healthy, well, not much else in life is going to be healthy either. I came off of my birth control pills I was using to maintain a hormone balance and started doing research on natural ways to maintain healthy hormones through my diet. So far it's been going well but outside of this there's one thing that nags me everyday - my weight. I'll admit it, I can pull off being a thick curvy girl but I used to run and hike and Spanx just ain't for me. I've been out of the fitness game for quite awhile and finding the motivation to get back in is exhausting. 

But something has come up that I could get pretty excited about - the beach! I haven't worn a bikini since 2015 and we have planned a trip out to the Cape in May - dangit ya'll - this girl is going to rock a bikini. I love the beach and more than that I love being comfortable on the beach. So, this is my starter motivation to kick me into gear. 

Here's the catch, I am not going on a diet. I'm not trying a diet or a work out plan or a supplement or a diet shake - I am totally against these things! I believe deep down inside we all know what is best for ourselves, we've just gotten lazy and so we turn to "quick" ways to make the fat melt off. The internet is a sea of information, if you want to know what's good for you then you won't have to look far. 

My goal is 2 pounds a week, which I believe is fair, and so I've committed the next 90 days to bringing sexy back. I have 10 pound dumbbells for the house, my fit bit is locked and loaded and my mind is ready. Bikini season here we come! I'll do a weekly update so you can follow my progress but for now the idea is to get back into running, do some spin classes, cut out the sugars and lift some weights - and walk my dog of course. :)

During the course I'll share any yummy meal finds I discover and workouts that just seem to, well, work. Wish me luck!

House to Home - Pt. 3

We wanted to give up, even though that wasn’t remotely an option to us. We started doing research, watching YouTube videos and reading blogs to figure out what the best way to get rid of this backing was. I wish that I could offer a grand idea that we came across or discovered ourselves - but the truth is - there is no such easy way. Our only option was to scrape it up by hand. 



We bought a floor scraper and went to work. Between the two of us it took a total of 18 hours of scraping to get the backing off the floor. This was a very painful process, I went to bed the first night so exhausted and woke up the next morning in so much pain. Long story short it sucked, but we got it up. We were left with the glue residue and we had to rent a buffer from Home Depot and use a wood tool to scrape up the remaining glue. Again, this too was not a fun or easy process but definitely made a huge difference and of course didn’t take 18 hours to complete. 



Once we scraped up the remaining glue we had to sand the floors. Seeing the black gunk finagling disappear to reveal a beautiful fresh floor was the greatest feeling in the world! After finishing the main floors we had to hand sand underneath the baseboards for an all over even finish. 



I had to travel for a couple weeks for work, so while I was gone Carlos took on the job of staining the floors. They came out beautifully! I still can’t believe all the work and time it took just to do floors but it was so worth it. It’s a complete feeling to me when you have a vision and then your vision comes to life. We still have a lot more projects to do on the house, but for now we’re soaking up the fruits of our labor! :0)


House to Home - Pt. 2

When Carlos and I finished redoing our bedroom, it instantly became our most favorite room in the house. Every time we would walk in we would feel as though we were staying somewhere else, it was like a tiny vacation spot every night. Of course for me, it didn’t take long before I became anxious to get started on the living room and dining room. I couldn’t even sit in the living room without thinking about all the things I wanted to change. So in the beginning of July we finally decided to start taking down wall paper. We used the same process for this project as we did our bedroom. Honestly I feel that the steamer is just the best way to go, but of course that’s my personal opinion. 


We quickly realized that the living room and dining room were going to be a much bigger project than we had expected. Taking down the wallpaper was a breeze, but then we needed to tackle the popcorn ceilings in the living room. Carlos had previously scraped the popcorn ceiling in the dining room years before and insisted that it was not something he ever wanted to have to go through again. That being said, we put up drywall with the intention of creating a smooth ceiling. If I could go back in time, I would have scraped the ceilings myself! Drywall is very heavy to begin with and putting up about 8 sheets of it was not an experience I will ever wish to have again. 



The heaviness is not even the worst of it! We had to tape the edges and the seams where the sheets connected and then joint compound and sand them down to make the smooth appearance. I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say it probably took us a month alone just to “smooth” out the ceiling. No matter how many times we sanded , joint compounded, sanded, joint compounded and sanded, you could still see where the seams had been connected with the tape. It was miserable! We had to come up with an alternative to what we had originally wanted. Carlos had read up about a textured paint that has sand in it. This paint would allow us to add a slight texture to the ceiling and essentially get rid of the lines you could see. 


We purchased a small bucket of Homax Roll-On Texture white paint. We were able to roll it on using the paint rollers we had purchased and it worked like a charm. It was very easy to use and allows you to control the amount of texture you want with the roller. The spots where the seams were an issue are more textured than the rest of the ceiling. It came out great and unless you’ve read this blog or we’ve personally told you about it, you would have no idea it had been an issue. We painted over the textured paint with a basic white paint we had used in the bedroom and finally the ceiling was finished! 


After the ceiling fiasco we still needed to paint the walls. At this point I was outwardly expressing quite frequently that I just wanted to see paint on the walls by the end of the week. haha It can be quite frustrating when you see the finished project in your head everyday and yet you just don’t seem to be getting anywhere close to that. It took us every bit of 3 months to decide on a living room color but it turned out to be worth the long search. We chose a color by BEHR called “Mountain Falls” and it is every bit of perfect. Our dining room color was chosen in less than 48 hours! :) I already had a color in my head, closely described in my own words as dirty white, and Carlos was able to pick one out that fit just right called “Toasted Gray” by BEHR.



Seeing the paint on the walls began to spark a lot of excitement again and we felt like we were finally to the finish line. All we had left to do was tear up our carpets and we would be sipping wine by the pellet stove within days. Then, we began to tear up the carpet. First to go was the 60 year old ugly, old, stained, smelly, shaggy orange carpet that I had despised over the past year. The smells alone that came out of moving that carpet would be enough to put you off your dinner for a few days. Underneath that was an ugly, thin, almost completely untouched green carpet that had obviously been laid down when the house was built. “This is it!”, we started getting so pumped, the moment of truth was upon us. We began the attempt to pull up the carpet which quickly turned out to be nearly impossible. We were literally using all our strength to rip this carpet up from the backing that was clearly cemented to the floor. And there it was, underneath the carpet was a rubber-like backing that seriously had no intention of coming up. Our hearts completely sank and we realized we had just opened up a whole new can of worms.