All posts for the month August, 2013

Don’t Fig Newton Me!

Published August 31, 2013 by Maryanne



What is better than a fresh fig?

A fresh fig picked right from the tree!

When I was a little girl, my grandparents had a fig tree. It was always such a treat eating fresh figs straight from the tree. And sad at summer’s end when they wrapped the tree up for the winter. But even more sad over the years, the many times when I mentioned “figs” to someone they’d say, “Oh, Fig Newtons.” I was heart breaking how many people I talked to over the years that never had a fresh fig!

I hate Fig Newtons. I just don’t understand why foodies find it necessary to taint my beloved figs. They dry them, bake them, they makes tarts, chutney, preserves and spirits out of them. They stuff them with cheese, roast them with meat, throw them in salads and then drown them out with dressing.

My poor figs. I just don’t get it. They are just so good on their own, how can you improve perfection? You can’t! This is why I love my figs naked in all their glory. Don’t do anything to them, just let them be figs!

But whether you like figs fresh from the tree or do fancy things with them — if you must — figs are considered the healthiest food, so rejoice in that when you eat figs you are doing something good for yourself. Figs are a good source of potassium which lowers high blood pressure; a good source of fiber; a source of calcium; and they protect against macular degeneration.

Yesterday I was ecstatic when a friend wrote on Face Book that he doesn’t do deliveries, but was offering fresh figs, straight from the tree, to any friend who was willing to drive to his home and pick them up. It just so happened I was visiting my mother and sister in the area the next day — so, hell yeah!

Turned out, the fig tree was huge — at least three times the size of the little one my grandparents had — with dozens of fresh figs waiting to be picked! Did I die and end up in fig heaven? It was such a fun summer thing to do, pick figs straight from the tree with my friend, his wife and their 10-year-old-daughter.

And of course, they were delicious!

Tusk: The Ultimate Fleetwood Mac Tribute, Linden New Jersey

Published August 28, 2013 by Maryanne


Tusk is my favorite cover band because each individual musician has greatness to offer.

Kathy Philips IS Stevie Nicks. She has the vocals down pat and never breaks character. Her costume is made beautifully: black suede boots, sequined black shawl and Nicks’ trademark top hat. She whirls and twirls and shakes her tambourine throughout the night, never missing a beat. (Note: Last summer I saw them perform outdoors during a full moon — it was enchanting to see a recreation of Stevie Nicks doing “Rhiannon” with a full moon as backdrop!)

Scott McDonald on guitar is amazing. I’ve seen this band perform several times and thanks to him magically  recreating the work of Lindsay Buckingham, I am now a big Lindsay Buckingham fan and have several CDs. I have to say, he’s my favorite band member.

Kim Williams on keys and vocals has the prettiest voice. I said to my husband last night, she plays as she sings, soft, pretty and delicately. She’s so cute and stylish too — great hair, bell bottoms, platforms and a halter top. Don’t know if that’s her real style or doing the ’70s thing for the show, but it works!

Randy Artiglere on bass was mind-blowing. I’ve always been a “bass girl” and he certainly delivered.

And for the greatest drum solo from a cover band, Tom Nelson, who added all the drum solo cliches from popular bands such as U2 and The Rolling Stones, then got up and started drumming on the pillars and door along side the outdoor theater. It was crazy, fun!

They leave no stone unturned when it comes to the library of Fleetwood Mac songs. You’ll hear all of them. My favorites are: “World Turning”; “Say You Love Me”; “Gypsy”; “Edge of 17”; “Gold Dust Woman” (which is total perfection, thank you Ms. Kathy Philips!); “Go Your Own Way” and best of all “Second Hand News.”

Interesting, this is probably the fifth time I saw Tusk over the past three years and every time they begin “Rhiannon” I’m thinking it’s “Oh Daddy” — but since they are doing the LIVE version of “Rhiannon” it throws me off. I’d love to see them do “Oh Daddy” someday.

Another suggestion would be Lindsay Buckingham’s “Holiday Road.” Because not only does McDonald have the guitar genius going on, he can sing like Lindsay Buckingham!

If you’re a Fleetwood Mac fan, or someone like me who only had a few albums, check out Tusk and trust me, you’ll end up being more of a Fleetwood Mac fan then you ever thought you’d be!

SAM_2305Kathy Philips channels a young Stevie Nicks

SAM_2282Guitar extraordinaire –Scott McDonald

SAM_2288Left to right: Kim Williams, Tom Nelson, Kathy Philips

SAM_2276Randy Artiglere and Kim Williams

NOTE: If anyone wants to swipe these photos, I have no problem with that — just be polite and credit: Photos courtesy of Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta.

The Smithereens–Live at Duke Island Park, Bridgewater, NJ (August 25, 2013)

Published August 26, 2013 by Maryanne

I RARELY re-blog, but this was a fantastic review of last night’s concert!

I Just Read About That...

[ATTENDED: August 25, 2013] The Smithereens

I’ve liked a number of Smithereens songs for many years.  I even bought their greatest hits.  But I never really think about them.  And yet, the opening bass line to “Blood and Roses” is one of the best opening bass lines in rock music.  It’s so deep and groovy.

But so imagine my surprise to see that The Smithereens were playing a free concert at Duke Island Park, about ten minutes from my house.  What was especially weird is that most of the free concerts are oldies singers (The Duprees) and cover bands (Tusk, THE B STREET BAND).  But here was the honest to God Smithereens.  Now, I realize they’re not remotely as popular as they were, but it was really them.  They’re from Carteret and Scotch Plains, NJ, so they were playing to a happy local crowd.  They also told some very funny…

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The Smithereens at Duke Island Park, Bridgewater, New Jersey

Published August 25, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_2237New Jersey’s legendary Smithereens

Had a wonderful time with my husband at the Smithereens show at Duke Island Park.

A classic 1980s band from Scotch Plains, New Jersey, did many of their songs plus some Beatles songs, a Who song and the Youngbloods.

True musicians, such great talents and Pat DiNizio has such a gorgeous voice.

Current line-up: Pat DiNizio on vocals, rhythm guitar; Jim Babjak, lead guitar and vocals; Severo “The Thrilla” (from Manila) Jornacion on bass (awesome bassist!) and vocals; and Dennis Diken on drums and percussion.

My favorite songs included: “Only a Memory” “Behind the Wall of Sleep” and “Blood and Roses.”

The entire show was phenomenal! They were fun, making the audience feel as if you knew them personally, shared great stories on stage. Very cool.

I only have one CD, now we’ll get more, definitely.

Thank you to The Smithereens for performing tonite! Much appreciated — a million times!!

SAM_2238Pat DiNizio

SAM_2239Pat DiNizio and Jim Babjak

So cool, looks like Jim is posing for me!


Published August 25, 2013 by Maryanne


When I think fast, off the top of my head, at least three people I highly admire are not drinking. It’s a great club to be in, as I just joined myself. More productivity and creativity, more fun, more energy — and you come home at night looking as great as you did when you first went out. Can’t beat that!

The Beauty of Slow

Published August 25, 2013 by Maryanne

baby and mommy

In this day and age of rush, rush, rush, there is something to be said about taking your time. Creativity isn’t a conveyor belt. Your muse should be truly loved and nurtured. And that takes time. Sometimes a very long time. Your muse shouldn’t be sent out to the world prematurely, as you wouldn’t send a child to school before he/she is developed. Cherish your muse, with all your heart. True artists have no expiration date.  — Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta


Published August 20, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_21058:19 on 8/19!

It was so bizarre, last night when we hopped in my car to celebrate my birthday, the time was 8:19 on 8/19! I caught this photo just seconds before it was 8:20.

I had an amazing day. My husband took me to Park & Orchard, one of my favorite restaurants in New Jersey:

We stayed in a local hotel for the day and night since we needed to be near home to check the cats, as they are old and need medications. After lunch we stopped at my mom’s work to say hello on my birthday.

At night we went for drinks. I had my favorite Moonstone unfiltered sake. It was an amazing night. After seven years I am still so very much in love with my husband and love our dates. I feel good and happy and a tad hungover, as the bartender brought me that last drink I shouldn’t have had, but glad I did!

One more celebration with my sister next weekend and that’s enough birthday until next year!

What a blessing to be on this planet another year — to inspire, to create, to help others, to enjoy and most important of all to love!

Historic Burlington, New Jersey

Published August 18, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_2059Cute diner we saw on the way driving in to Burlington

Today my husband and I spent the afternoon exploring historic Burlington, New Jersey. We got a late start and ended up eating before we got to town at an vegetarian Indian restaurant at a town about 15 minutes away. It was so cute, I asked the owner if everything was truly vegetarian at the buffet. He said that one of the items had cheese so, “Don’t eat that!” Everything was absolutely delicious.

Then we got to town and walked around, did some antiquing and sight seeing.

SAM_2060Mercury and Me!

SAM_2063SAM_2065SAM_2066Old fashioned ice cream parlor

SAM_2068Old Coke bottles inside ice cream parlor

The ice cream parlor didn’t have coffee … I don’t eat ice cream, but later in the day I had a wonderful treat (keep reading!)

SAM_2070More cuteness inside the ice cream shop

SAM_2071SAM_2075My Love!


So after our little trip to Burlington (which was short because many shops were closed for Sunday), we took the back roads home. I told my husband to stop if he see an Asian market.

He asked me what I wanted at the Asian market.

A durian!

He knew of a huge Asian market in Edison, about 15 minutes from our home. It was massive, but right away I found what I was looking for — durian, the king of all fruit! Once I found the durian, I had no desire to look at anything else. What could be better than durian? I couldn’t wait to get home to stick the knife in and get all the fruit out of the pods. This was a big one and I got four bowls of fruit from it. Dennis had just a little taste, but I ate two bowls and now have two bowls left for tomorrow — that will be my birthday breakfast!

I was like, “Screw birthday cake — I have durian!”

durianDurian, the king of all fruit!

For those who don’t know, I love durian so much, I have the fruit tattooed on my lower leg!

Nyack Main Essentials: Carribbean Vegan Restaurant

Published August 18, 2013 by Maryanne

SAM_2027Collard greens, steamed vegetables and seitan barbecue

Yesterday my husband and I had a wonderful day in Nyack, New York, one of my favorite places.

We started out at Nyack Main Essentials Vegetarian: 

We’ve eaten here before and the food is amazing. So is the service.

I had the above dish, with an apple/parsley juice.

My husband had a seitan curry dish and a veggie faux meat sandwich.

SAM_2028Curried seitan with rich and vegetables

Afterwards we walked around the town to all the little boutiques and antique shops. I got a ton of stuff! Two pairs of jeans, a dress, a blouse and shoes! (Thanks to Weight Watchers I now fit into a size 4 jean again! Yay!)

It’s such a cool, bohemian, friendly town.

I was happy to see that the Back to Earth health food store is still there. The first time I was in Nyack was in the late 1980s and it was so cool to see the “little guy” still in business. I got a kombucha there and they had some free samples of raw protein.

Excellent day in New Jersey. The weather has been perfect!

My First Health & Fitness Public Speaking Event!

Published August 15, 2013 by Maryanne


I’m thrilled that I will be having my first health and fitness public speaking event next month! It will be at an assisted living facility and I’ll be speaking to seniors about choosing healthy items on the menu and why they are good for you, also motivating them for health and fitness.

I’ve always loved public speaking. One of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done in my life was speaking to a fourth grade class about journalism.  (Not to mention that I’ve done off-Broadway theatre and was a spoken word artist in my 30s).

Most of my journalism lies in health and fitness. I’ve written many articles about famous people in the health field, such as Carol Alt and Oleda Baker. I was the editor of “NJ Health & Fitness” and had my own online health column called “Here’s to Your Health.”

Currently I am writing regularly for “Skinny News” a Bergen County, New Jersey publication on health and fitness.

I’ve been waiting to do this for a very long time and am beyond psyched! This has been a super stellar week for me in business. I couldn’t be happier!