Decorating for Christmas

Thanksgiving is over.  Radio stations are blasting their Christmas line ups.  Black Friday shoppers nudging people out of the way.

For us, it’s time to get the decorations up.

This was the first year that Liam was engaged in helping to getting the ornaments on the tree.

He quickly began knocking them all down 5 minutes later…but progress is progress. IMG_20171124_132911249IMG_20171124_193028527IMG_20171124_150450691IMG_20171124_150514530IMG_20171124_153200472


Road Trip to Delaware


Tied up as many loose ends as I could this morning, then packed Patti, Maddex and Liam in the car and pointed the car south for Delaware.  Reheboth Beach to be more specific.

Why Delaware?  1.  It’s on the way to our final destination in Virginia.  2. It’s awesome. 3.  I have fond memories of this area. (always a catch isn’t there?)

It was the last vacation I ever took with my immediate family.   It was the summer of 06 and I was in a very isolated point in my life.  I had just withdrew from College and lost my finance in the same day that past February.

I entered a state of seclusion where I hid from the outside world.  Only emerging  work in restaurants, which was about 80 hours a week.  I had a couple of close friends that refused to let me become a total hermit.

However, my mom besieged me to take a week off to drive her, my grandmother, and younger brother down to see my Aunt in Delaware.

The trip was very therapeutic.  I spent the week thinking about how there was so much more out there.  That I was barely living a “half life”.  When I returned I enrolled in the Culinary Arts Program and began piecing my life together.

Surviving the car ride is the hard part.  Getting down route 81 and then horrifying  476 when you get to Philadelphia and traffic turns into a slow crawl for a good hour.  You’re in the homestretch once your cross into Delaware’s RT 1S.

We made it to our destination about 430PM.  Let the vacation begin.




I know I’m Lame…but I miss Quiznos. 



846eae2ed0503e9e95e8baf1cd4fe7e0Dec. 30st

Like so many other people, I found 2016 to be a not very good year.  But my year was bad because of politics, the economy, or the vast string of celebrity deaths.  As 2016 drew to a close I found myself to probably me the most unhappy that I have ever been.  Unhappy with my work, my marriage, and with life in general.  The problem was that the reason for my unhappiness was unclear.  I had a have job, a recently purchased house, and a beautiful family, but I found myself constantly trying to escape to a new life.

I knew I had to find a way to fix these feelings of discontent.  It wasn’t until I found an audio book named THE HAPPINESS PROJECT, by Gretchen Rubin that I hoped would point me in the right direction.  The Happiness Project Chronicles a year in the life of a NYC wife and mother of two as she makes 12 months of resolutions all centered about making her happier.  Was it easy for her? Of course not.  But after a year of blogging about her experience she found herself the happiest she had ever been and it didn’t require a major life change.  It inspired me to start my own Happiness Project.  January 1st is just around the corner and I can’t wait to get started



December 31st

A little bit about myself before I dive into why I am starting a Happiness project.

I’m 30 years old living in a small suburb near to Syracuse, New York.  I am married with 3 boys.  Maddex (11) technically my step son but I love and care for him like my own, Lucas (5) lives with his Mother in Buffalo when he is not with us. Liam (2) we had shortly after we got married.  My wife Patti and I have been together almost 5 years now.

I work as a General manager in a local restaurant and my wife works a server at a different restaurant.  We don’t rely on babysitters so we have to work opposite shifts which can prove very difficult.

So Why am I starting a happiness project?  As I said about there was no major, defining reason for my unhappiness.  Just a lot of small ones.

– not on the top of my game a work : after three straight years of being in the upper tier of performance in my company, my performance seems to have peaked Now i have slipped into the mediocre at least in my own mind

lack of close relationships: Throughout my life I have only have a couple close friends at a time. My two best friends in my adult life  have both more off intro their own adult lives

lack of relationship with,  my wife Patti : Patti leaving her job and going back to Zebbs (restaurant) added new stress on our relationship. Sure she was making more money which was a huge source of stress when she wasn’t. But now she was working 5 nights a week and going in at 5. Which gave us a few minutes together each of those days. And Monday nights. sometimes we would get luck with a Friday night or Tuesday morning but that was occasional.

amount of time seeing  Luke: my first son Lucas, I have had trouble coping with only seeing him every other weekend. his mother has recently gotten engaged with has been this anxiety escalate.

struggles with work – loosing my right hand and assistant in the middle of the year has proved a challenge. My current management team is good but we still have a lot of growing to do

It’s NYE obviously,

Check out my post explaining exactly what a happiness project consists off.

Then check back  for January’s resolutions

Mid-town Manhattan in Decembmer

One of the longest running items on my bucket list was to see NYC, specifically Mid-Town Manhattan during the Christmas Season.  I have never been despite all my visits to the Big Apple in recent years.

Everyone always talks about all the sights, sounds, and excitement and I will say that all the hype did not disappoint.

Patti, Liam, and I drove right into Manhattan Tuesday afternoon, parked the car, and before long we were engulfed in all the big city, winter wonderland atmosphere.

6 hours and I think we hit all the big spots.

  • I ate Kimshi in Bryant Park while we checked out their Christmas shops and skating rink.
  • Checked out the window displays on 5th Avenue.
  • Giant Snow Flake by Central Park
  • The Plaza hotel from Home Alone 2
  • The Giant Christmas Ornaments across from Radio City Music Hall
  • The Love Sign
  • Times Square
  • And of course Rockefeller Center and Ice Rink


Just the right amount of New York my wife told me.

Liam did great sitting for all that time.  Got a little restless need the end.  But all in all it was a great memory to have.

New Years Eve in Time Square next year. IMG_20171211_161105396IMG_20171211_141355255_BURST000_COVER_TOPIMG_20171211_141342350IMG_20171211_153749431IMG_20171211_150509292IMG_20171211_154012717IMG_20171211_153801473IMG_20171211_165613580IMG_20171211_151632039IMG_20171211_162138317IMG_20171211_165603561IMG_20171211_172430404IMG_20171211_144122710_BURST000_COVER_TOP2017121195172031






Secrets Of Adulthood

Been busy today crossing off and item on my bucket list.  But I wanted to take a second to share Gretchen Rubin’s (author of the Happiness Project) Secrets of Adulthood.   

She lists them in the introduction to The Happiness Project and I had forgotten them until I went  to read the book while on a long drive.  

As I go through the list, I am amazing on how many secrets I find to be true in my own life.  

Secrets of Adulthood

  • The best reading is re-reading.
  • Outer order contributes to inner calm.
  • The opposite of a great truth is also true.
  • You manage what you measure.
  • By doing a little bit each day, you can get a lot accomplished.
  • People don’t notice your mistakes and flaws as much as you think.
  • It’s nice to have plenty of money.
  • Most decisions don’t require extensive research.
  • Try not to let yourself get too hungry.
  • Even if you think they’re fake, it’s nice to celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
  • If you can’t find something, clean up.
  • The days are long, but the years are short.
  • Someplace, keep an empty shelf.
  • Turning the computer on and off a few times often fixes a glitch.
  • It’s okay to ask for help.
  • You can choose what you do; you can’t choose what you LIKE to do.
  • Happiness doesn’t always make you feel happy.
  • What you do EVERY DAY matters more than what you do ONCE IN A WHILE.
  • You don’t have to be good at everything.
  • Soap and water removes most stains.
  • It’s important to be nice to EVERYONE.
  • You know as much as most people.
  • Over-the-counter medicines are very effective.
  • Eat better, eat less, exercise more.
  • What’s fun for other people may not be fun for you–and vice versa.
  • People actually prefer that you buy wedding gifts off their registry.
  • Houseplants and photo albums are a lot of trouble.
  • If you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.
  • No deposit, no return.

Happiness Project Struggles

Happiness Project Struggles.


I wrote a few days ago, listing all the resolutions that I felt that I had made good progress on.  Notice that I said “progress”.  I can admit that I wasn’t always perfect in making these changes but I can say that I am a lot better at these aspects…and happier of course.

But there are some areas of my life that I made resolutions.  And some of those resolutions I struggled to keep up in the long-term.


  1.  Eating Healthy :  I had glimmers of hope earlier in the year with resolutions like Eat a salad and Extreme Dieting,  while writing this I just remembered the one day water fast.  What I stupid idea. smh.
  2.   Consistent exercise :  I did do a great deal of exercise this year.  Putting up improved performance in the Tough Mudder and Boilermaker. But I failed to keep up in a 3 day a week work out regimen.  No good excuse.  Sure I have been busy but that’s no excuse.  I need to be better at making time.
  3.   Disconnect from work :  I did manage to take a full week’s vacation this year and while I was able to disconnect from work for short periods of time.  Once I was put on ADHD meds, Hyper-focus was back with a vengeance
  4.  Controlling Impuslivity :  I have truly lost that thing in your brain that keeps you from saying something that you shouldn’t say.   I can be mean and I can lose my temper.  I am sorry.


But despite these struggles I have had a year to remember and if nothing else I have set up an even better 2018.


Old City Bar by Trans-Siberian Orchestra

As we getting deeper into December you can’t help but find yourself consumed by Christmas music everywhere you go.

The radio stations, restaurants, department stores.  Sooner or later you will come across your favorite.  Maybe you get really into it and blast Mariah Carey’s “All I want for Christmas” all year long?  Maybe it drives your nuts?

What’s your favorite holiday song?

Mine is fairly unknown.  Old City Bar by Trans-Siberian Orchestra.  “TSO” has become wildly popular in the last decade.  Even if you don’t know the bands name, I’m sure you have heard their Progressive metal / hard rock versions of classic holiday ballads on the radio at one point or another.

But their simple acoustic guitar track, Old City Bar off their 1996 Album, Christmas Eve and Other Stories, totally captures what this holiday should be all about.

This song tells the story of an city bar on Christmas Eve where an indifferent, bartender is moved to empty the til to help a stranded girl fly home to see her family for the holiday and how it changes him and those their to witness it.

Take the time to help a neighbor, or even a stranger this holiday season.  Enjoy.

In an old city bar
That’s never too far
From the places that gather
The dreams that have been
In the safety of night
With it’s old neon light
It beckons to strangers
And they always come in
And the snow it was falling
The neon was calling
The music was low
And the night, Christmas Eve
And here was the danger
Even with strangers
Inside of this night,
It’s easier to believe
Then the door opened wide
And a child came inside
That no one in the bar
Had seen there before
And he asked did we know
That outside in the snow
That someone was lost
Standing outside our door
Then the bartender gazed
Through the smoke and the haze
Through the window and ice
To the corner street light
Where standing alone
By a broken pay phone
Was a girl the child said
Could no longer get home
And the snow it was falling
The neon was calling
The bartender turned
And said “Not that I care
But how would you know this?”
The child said “I’ve noticed
If one could be home,
They’d be already there”
Then the bartender came out
From behind the bar
And in all of his life
He was never that far
And he did something else
That he thought no one saw
When he took all the cash
From the register draw
Then he followed the child
To the girl across the street
And we watched from the bar
As they started to speak
Then he called for a cab
Then he said “JFK”
Put the girl in the cab
Then the cab drove away
And we saw in his hand
That the cash was all gone
From the light that she had wished upon
If you want to arrange it
This world, you can change it
If we could somehow
Make this Christmas thing last
By helping a neighbor
Or even a stranger
To know who needs help,
You need only just ask
Then he looked for the child
But the child wasn’t there
Just the wind and the snow
Waltzing dreams through the air
So he walked back inside
Somehow different I think
For the rest of the night
No one paid for a drink
And the cynics will say
That some neighborhood kid
Wandered in on some bums
In the world where they hid
But they weren’t there
So they couldn’t see
By an old neon star
On the night Christmas Eve
When the snow it was falling
The neon was calling
In case you should wonder,
In case you should care
Why we on our own
Never went home
On that night of all nights,
We were already there


Obscurus CNY : Infinite Pop

Obscurus CNY : Infinite Pop.

Infinite POP – A year long Syracuse Pop-up shop that will showcase locally made art, apparel, products while creating a unique environment that will engage the community as well as generate a feeling of relevance and interactivity in rotating monthly spaces.

Programming throughout the run will be heavily centered around what Syracuse has to offer in the arts & cultural scenes.

The First FRINGE POP-UP SHOP will be located at 410 S.Warren St. at the Back end of the Dey’s Building for the Month of December. Open 10am – 7pm each day + special events

A Year’s Worth Of Resolutions

The premise of the Happiness Project was to make resolutions each month focused on making myself happier.   I goal was that after a month of practice and effort that these resolutions would become habit.

This year I made 88 resolutions.  Of course it was impossible to think I could make 88 life changes in a since year.  How many of us make just one New Year’s Resolution each year and then abandon it by February.

But I did make a lot of progress this year.  Let’s take a look at some of the resolutions that stuck.  While, I can’t say that I keep them 100% of the time, their occurrance happen pretty regularly for various reasons.  Maybe they carry more value? Or maybe their are easier to enforce.

  1.  Tackle a naggling task
  2.  Drink More Water – Most of the time
  3.  Plan the Next Day in Advance
  4. Remember Birthdays
  5. Delegate
  6. Read more – I read over 25 new books this year.
  7.  Help Someone
  8. Push Yourself
  9.  Get In the Spirit
  10. Manager Your Mid Day
  11. Indulge in a modest splurge
  12. Give your home some personality.
  13. Take time to be sily
  14. Pick up the phone
  15. Show Up
  16.  Teach and Learn
  17.  Master the “5 Second Rule”
  18.  Take a Real Vacation,
  19.  Cut people slack
  20.  Ask For Help
  21.  Take Time for Mini-Adventures.
  22.  Find an area of Refuge
  23.  Seek out local Deals
  24. Tell people what you want
  25. Use Hyperactivity to your advantage
  26. Buy Needful Things
  27. Enjoy Fall Activities
  28. Dress up for Halloween
  29. Rediscover my love of the piano
  30. Apologize
  31.  Get involved in the community.
  32. Let the Past Go.
  33.  Look ahead to 2018.


I really enjoyed going back through the entire year to see what unfolded.   Check back next time so read about what resolutions I struggled with the most.

Project for New Year 2017

Obscurus CNY : Glazed And Confused Donuts


Syracuse, N.Y. – The entire Valenti family is ready to make the donuts.

Their donut shopGlazed & Confused, will open 7 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 16 at 211 N. Clinton St. The space was most recently home to Darwin on Clinton, the sandwich shop that moved a few blocks to the Chase Bank building.

The Valentis are the creators of the Dizzy Pig – a donut dipped in maple glaze, sprinkled with cured bacon and drizzled with a bourbon-sugar mix. It’s been one of the most popular $1 items at Taste of Syracuse for the past two years.

Izabella Valenti, who is 15, and who also goes by Izzy and Bella, worked the cash register at the 2017 Taste of Syracuse. She says “everyone was asking” for the location of the Glazed and Confused store. She had to tell them: “We don’t have a storefront. But maybe it’s a good idea.”

They’re also making “doninis,” savory sandwiches built on a cake donut. Toppings include a fried egg, bacon and cheese. The sandwich is pressed and served hot, like a panini.

More classic donuts, like ones with cinnamon sugar or sprinkles, are available, too, as are vegan and gluten-free options. Boxes of a dozen range from $11 to $19. Drinks include Recess Coffee, milk and iced tea.