Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Living In The Moment

What good is it to rush around, shopping on a day that you should be spending with loved ones, giving thanks for your blessings, creating new memories and reminiscing about old ones?   We spend our busy days rushing, scrambling, texting, fighting crowds to buy the latest gizmos, ending up feeling physically exhausted and spiritually empty.  What good is it all if we don't stop and live in the moment, enjoying the now, slowing down and absorbing our surroundings, our families and our good fortunes.   You know, taking time to smell the flowers?   Thanksgiving was our last chance to have that simple day of reflecting on our blessings and showing our family and dear friends how grateful we were by asking them to share in our bountiful feasts which could be as elaborate as a finely set dining table, or a buffet of delectable dishes brought from guests to be shared and enjoyed at makeshift tables and chairs, cramming guests and food as best and creatively as we can in small living quarters.   We do anything as creative hosts in order to enjoy this special holiday.   We snap pictures of babies having their first turkey leg.
Or perhaps, a newlyweds first time hosting Thanksgiving, showing off her first cooked turkey, succulent and golden brown right out of the oven.

 Mothers and Grandmothers working tirelessly to fill the dining table with an abundance of flavorful dishes, never complaining but relishing the time spent with their loved ones, showing love as they know best, through their wonderful cooking.

I hope this Thanksgiving you will stop and reflect on the true meaning of the day.  It's not meant to be spent fighting for a parking space at an overcrowded Mall, buying things that you don't need that day, things that will still be there the day after Thanksgiving.   Please take lots of pictures, eat lots of good food, laugh and share in your common memories of Thanksgivings long ago and savor this quiet beautiful holiday as it was meant to be celebrated.   Happy Thanksgiving, feel blessed and pass it on!

Oh, and one more thing!   There is always one person who goes above and beyond in the planning of this wonderful feast.   They shop and chop and cook and bake, usually too tired to even eat but get their great joy in seeing their guests enjoy their labors of love.   Give that person an extra hug and kiss and show your gratitude!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Actions of One

It only took the senseless action of one coward to change the course of history and the psyche of a nation.  With three gunshots, two proving to be fatal, we went from a post war generation of idealists and optimists who believed, like our beloved president, that we could do it all, achieve what we set our sights on and successfully enjoy the fruits of our labor and dreams.  But 50 years ago this November 22nd, everyone who can remember the events was forever changed.  I was seven and I can still remember a lot of the events like it was yesterday.  It was just after our lunch period, 2nd grade, Mrs. Heidenrich who was starting to teach a subject when she was called out of the room, returning with a pale, sad face to tell us the news, sending us home to our mothers in the gloomy, dark rainy afternoon to find them crying, watching the television, not knowing what to say to us.   I can remember watching the events unfold, feeling sad, wanting to do something, being sent to stay with my grandparents.   My wise grandfather decided we would do something constructive to keep us busy, so we scoured his newspapers and cut out pictures and text, creating an amazing scrapbook for me to keep in remembrance of our fallen President and the historic events unfolding that cold November weekend.

I cut out pictures of the President and First Lady arriving at Dallas, he looking dapper as always, she a beautiful vision in her cotton candy pink Chanel suit with matching pillbox hat.  How we all wanted to be and look like her, mothers and daughters alike.   So stylish and pretty, not stuffy and old like Mamie or Bess were.   They were black and white, she was technicolor!   She gave women an image to look up to, from the way she carried herself to her effortless style.

Even in her grief and agony, she remained dignified and we
watched in amazement as she
helped lead a nation in mourning.
Jacqueline Kennedy was the
right person for the times, she
had the utmost sense of history,
from her efforts to restore the
White House to the peoples home
furnished with antiques and
period pieces suited to the Presidents
who resided there, to the planning
of her husbands funeral.   She
knew that it must be memorable,
majestic, an event that would
be permanently embedded in
our memories so we would
never forget her husband and all that he achieved in his lifetime.   For those of us who lived through the events, we never will forget the steady beating of the drums during the
funeral procession to the Capitol building where he would lay in state
all day and all night, with thousands waiting in a ten mile line to pay their
final respects to him.  We will remember the Navy Hymn "Eternal
Father, Strong to Save".  We will remember the passenger free Air Force
One, flying over one last time at the gravesite in a final tribute.  The twenty
one gun salute, the meticulous folding of the American flag being presented to
Mrs. Kennedy, the lighting of the eternal flame.  We who lived through the events
still remember, just as she wanted us to.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Keep Calm and Carry On

Dear Readers, I know my blog has been overdue for an update but I hit a bump in the road of life recently so forgive me for taking some time off.   2013 has proved itself to be quite challenging, more so than even 2012 was.  I thought maybe after a major surgery followed by chemo and radiation treatments, God would kinda give me a reprieve but we all know thats not how life works.  With the holidays behind us, 2013 started off quite calm, then my husband suffered a stroke the day before our twenty-seventh wedding anniversary.  Thank God we got him to the hospital in time and he got amazing care with amazing doctors and after many meds and recovery time, both he and I spent the spring recovering from our recent setbacks only to be involved in a terrible car accident in which I had to be cut out with the "jaws of life".   Wasn't that an out of body experience?  But we thankfully were not seriously hurt, just sore, shook up and I had a huge bump on my noggin to show for it.   The car was totalled which was a shame because though it was a 2003 Toyota Rav4 it was in perfect condition and running order.  So, while we dealt with the aches and pains, we bought ourselves a brand new Rav4.   I figured since the other car saved my life, I was sticking to the same thing.
 So far, the year was proving to be quite a challenge.
We spent the summer tackling a project we had been putting off for quite sometime.   Our flooring had issues and we finally picked out cherrywood floors, packed up everything in the living room and bedroom and ordered new furniture - another thing I had been putting off for years.   I am so glad we chose to do this project when we did because as soon as it was completed and the last piece of china was unpacked and lovingly placed back in the cabinet, I got hit with another bump in the road.
October was fast approaching and it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, reminding me of something I had been putting off, so at the end of September I had my mammogram, which showed an abnormality in one breast, leading me to have a core biopsy and ultrasound which lead me to the most wonderful breast cancer surgeon who assured me that this was in its earliest stages and actually it was a miracle the radiologist saw it at all.   She also assured me that it was highly curable and would require another round of radiation ( Joy Joy ) but probably not chemo ( Thank You Jesus ) so I put my trust in my surgeon and her great team of doctors and God of course, and stayed calm and focused.   What other choice did I have?

Well, I could shop.  That always makes a gal feel better, right girlfriends?   I had seen a TV show on breast cancer survivors and one lady had the most beautiful purse which is my weakness of course.  So I Googled the purse and found where to order it.   I figured if I'm going to fight this, I might as well be as stylish as I've always tried to be and this purse was just the medicine I needed!   Isn't it gorgeous?   And proceeds of course went to cancer research.

 My surgery was on Oct. 25th and I came through with flying colors and on Halloween I got the great news that it had all been removed in surgery, nothing had spread to vessels or lymph nodes.  It was a separate cancer from the Ovarian cancer I had in 2012.  Great news again!  It was stage one.  If you have to have the big "C" then stage one is the number you want to be diagnosed with, detected early and highly treatable.   I'm a pretty lucky girl and feel very blessed.   Being diagnosed with the big "C" twice in two years puts things in perspective, your priorities change, you relish and hold dear every visit with your parents, or breakfast with your BFF's which is what I did one week after surgery.   I look pretty good all things considering don't I?

So, now I tackle some radiation, piece of cake, been there, done that, can do it again!   Staying positive and focused and enjoying my favorite time of the year where beautiful autumn days lead up to the holiday season of Joy and Thankfulness.   Yes, this year I hit a few bumps in the road, but this Thanksgiving I'll be feeling more blessed than ever.   Enjoy this time of the year, take a ride in the country as we are going to do today, marvel at the colors of the leaves, enjoy the homes and farms decorated with pumpkins and hay and cornstalks, live life in the moment, take it all in and savor it!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Sweetness of Autumn

 Well, it is official.   Summer 2013 has come and gone.   It's time to embrace one of the most glorious seasons.   Autumn is such a beautiful time of year and doesn't last long enough for me.   I love the cool weather, the colorful trees, picking out pumpkins and gourds and bright mums, making a big pot of soup or better yet, a succulent pork roast stabbed with cloves of garlic, roasting on a Sunday afternoon, with a pan of acorn squash baking right next to it.  The acorn squash has to be made with a huge pat of butter, dark brown sugar and a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon.   Add homemade mashed potatoes and pork gravy and you have a heavenly fall Sunday dinner.    Baked apples or a pumpkin pie for dessert makes the dinner complete.

 This fall, go out and support our hard working local farmers by purchasing their pumpkins, corn stalks,gourds and mums and decorate your home accordingly for the season.  Watch for things along the roadside to add to your outdoor decor like cattails which are in abundance right now and bright green osage oranges, free for the taking along any country road.   They look beautiful when placed with pumpkins, all lumpy and green, much like a gourd.  I've enjoyed decorating for fall since I was very young.   When I was still living at home, I would always take my mom to our favorite garden market and purchase stalks of corn and huge pumpkins which we displayed for the neighborhood to enjoy.
If you're lucky enough to have a lot of trees on your property, you also get to enjoy the crunch of their leaves on your lawn.   My parents house had three huge maples in the backyard and it was a tradition to rake them into a huge pile, running and jumping and burying ourselves.   Crazy fun and once we tired of the pile, we would burn the leaves which smelled wonderful to me back then.   I know it's environmentally incorrect to burn them now, but I miss that scent from childhood.  Every now and then, when we're driving in the country, you'll smell someone who still burns them and the odor takes you back to when you were a kid.   So eat, decorate and take in the wonderful colors of the season.   Before you know it, branches will be bare and a blanket of snow will be covering the land.   Embrace Autumn and all the wonderful things it brings!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Making of my "Woman's Cave"

If you are like me, making your home warm and cozy is a top priority of your life.  It is something that is always changing and evolving, from decorating season to season, rearranging furnishings and acquiring new or antique pieces to add something special to your living environment.  It also sometimes involved a total restoration or renovation which is something we took on this summer.   We had been putting off this big project for some time, until I finally got myself motivated by promising myself a new set of living room furniture after the big renovation was complete.  We have been needing new flooring throughout the house for quite sometime, but the weakening conditions of subflooring told me we could put the project off no longer.  This involved first of all, getting quotes and deciding if we wanted to replace carpeting or go with laminate flooring.  It also involved the application of a total new subfloor.   Once we signed the contract with the company and picked the installation date, I turned into a mad woman, planning and ordering and packing.  We ordered the new furniture to be delivered after the floor was installed.  We purchased a 55" Smart TV that I had been promising my husband for years.  This purchase should take care of birthdays and anniversaries for a few years!   We started packing up all knick knacks - did I mention I have a lot of knick knacks and BOOKS!!!   We went to U-Haul and purchased all sizes of boxes, took pictures on our phone of how the books and "things" were placed on the shelves so that we would have an idea of how to unpack them.  I meticulously labeled all the boxes with items and which room they belonged in.  The two major projects were my china cabinet filled with my Royal Albert Old Roses china and my beloved bookshelf in the bedroom.  We had our two strong football player nephews come and store all the boxes in the garage the week of the installation and lived in the shell of our house for a couple of days until the flooring was installed.   I decided on cherry wood laminate and am I so happy with that decision.  On the big day two strapping "russians" came in and worked their butts off for two days, the first day was spent ripping up carpeting and laying down plywood.  The following morning they were here promptly at 7:00am and by 2:00pm we had our floors, polished and gleeming, with all the big pieces of furniture placed back in their spots.   Those two men were magnificent!

Here's a picture of the work in process.   And below is a picture of my husband assembling the chairs I ordered from   Did I mention I love   Thanks to my sister in law who told me about her experiences with them.   I would highly recommend them!  Fast, free shipping.   Aren't these chairs gorgeous?   I thought they were a bit bold, but I'm in that frame of mind these days.   Bold and beautiful!

Here's just part of the finished project.   I also purchased a beautiful red couch and matching recliners from La Z Boy Furniture.   More bold colors.   Not at all like I previously had in my homes.   My first home was done in country blues and creams with ducks and geese and Laura Ashley bedding.   It was typical 1980's but beautiful and homey.   Those colors lasted until we built a home and I went with everything in shades of green, pink and ivory.   Even my 10 ft. Christmas tree did not have one ounce of red on it.   It was all done up in victorian shades of pinks and mauves, ivory pearls and soft green to match the carpeting in the great room.   I kept those colors but in a much scaled down version when we moved into a manufactured home.   After all, one doesn't have room for a 10 ft. tree anymore, but the colors of the "old" furniture went well with the neutral beige carpeting.   But now, with this big project I decided to go in a totally different color scheme taken from the Royal Albert Old Roses china pattern.   Reds and golds and oranges and pinks.   A bit daring but I am happy with the outcome.   It's made the living room warmer and more inviting.   The 55" flat screen Smart TV doesn't hurt.   We're ready to hunker down as cool fall evenings turn into snowy, blustery nights.   You are all invited to stop by anytime you find yourself in the neighborhood for a pot of tea, some homemade cookies, hot buttery popcorn and a movie.   I am so happy with myself for finally tackling the dreaded project and now I can reap the rewards!   Bring on the cool weather, the new TV shows - especially my beloved Downton Abbey.   I am ready to enjoy my new "woman cave" but don't tell my husband I call it that!   We'll let him think it's a man cave with a few feminine touches.

Monday, July 29, 2013


There is much to be said for modern technology, especially websites that help you find old friends or family members that you have lost touch with as the years have gone by.   I am specifically thinking of Facebook and how it helped me reconnect with old friends from my childhood and grade school and old friends I once worked with but lost touch with.   It's amazing what results you can obtain just by putting a friend or family members name in the search engine and waah laaah!   You can immediately connect with them if you just send them a friends request or a simple private message.   As soon as I started a Facebook page back in 2009 I got immediate results.  Not only was I looking for people, but imagine that.   They were looking for me too!  The first reunion was a tea I hosted for three friends and former co-workers from over thirty years ago.   I took great care in the planning and choosing of the menu, the invitation and the gifts for each gal.   I had mugs made with pictures of us on the Kankakee river, at Great America, the Ground Round, the Renaissance Faire, 4th of July picnics, all from pictures I had been taking my entire life.   Have camera, will travel.   Wow,  did I take the pictures and boy, was I glad!   Here is the table set in anticipation of our reunion.
I could not wait for the ladies to open their gifts so we could reminisce looking at our mugs and the crazy things we did in those pictures.   When the girls showed up, it was as if no years had passed between our last meetings.   That is a real friend, someone you can just pick up with where you left off so long ago.   That afternoon was very special and we have stayed in close contact since that day, vowing never to lose track of one another again.   So far we have succeeded.  But it does take work and effort and is so well worth it!

I hosted another reunion a year ago today with even more old friends and co-workers that I either found on Facebook or had always kept in touch with.   I had just been diagnosed with the big "C" and had just completed thirty-two radiation treatments and the first of six chemo treatments and was feeling very nostalgic and melancholy.   I wanted to have all my special ladies around me for a special day that would take me through the months ahead.   I wanted to make sure that no matter what happened, I had reconnected with them to enjoy them and savor the time spent with them.  I had a table set up on the front porch for our luncheon and for each ladies place card, I had a framed picture of them - a picture from long ago.   It was so much fun to watch their reaction when they saw their framed placecard.  I also had a special card at each persons place setting with copies of more pictures of them.   Pictures they had no idea I had.   I enjoyed going through all my old pictures for this project and hoped the pictures would make them as happy as they had made me.   The look on their faces as they opened the cards was priceless.   I am so thankful for cameras!   I only wish I had an I Phone back in the day.   I would have been pretty dangerous!  Here are a couple of pictures from that luncheon held just one year ago today.

I'm now in the planning stages of yet another reunion with ladies I worked with at a flower shop long ago.   We are in touch, we are determined and eager to meet for dinner, it is just a matter of getting everyone to agree on a date.   This meeting will be bittersweet as we have lost of few of our flower shop girls in recent years.   But we will toast to them and share our memories and hopefully, will stay connected in years to come.    I will most certainly post about that reunion in the near future!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Guilty Pleasure

I admit it, I am an anglophile, which by definition is:

A person who is fond of or greatly admires England or Britain.
Fond or admiring of England or Britain.

This didn't just happen when William married Kate, although as you can see by the picture, I was a bit obsessed with the ceremony, waking up at 3:00am, brewing my pot of English Breakfast tea in my Royal Doulton teapot, putting out a spread of crumpets and scones for myself and the sleeping spouse.   No, I've been an admirer of all things British since falling in love with all things  Dickens, especially A Christmas Carol, and that nanny of all nannies, Mary Poppins.  I love Beatrix Potter's beautiful illustrations of bunnies and foxes romping around in Mr. McGregor's garden, pictures of quaint English villages with thatched roofed cottages, English hymns and songs, especially Greensleeves, and of course The Beatles.  I first remember following the activities of the royals in 1969 when Charles was crowned Prince of Wales by his mother and being intrigued by all the pomp and ceremony.  Then in 1973, my mother let me stay home from school and get up in the early morning hours to watch Princess Anne marry Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey.   Again, my mother and I shared a pot of tea when, in 1981 Diana Spencer married Prince Charles at St. Paul's cathedral, yes THAT St. Paul's where Mary Poppins sings about feeding the birds, tuppence a bag.  We loved getting up early to watch all the excitement of the crowds and the news commentators.  When a year later, the married couple came out of the hospital with baby Wills, well who couldn't love that picture.  And now, this week, history repeats itself on the same steps of the same hospital where Willam was introduced to the world.   But this time, it is bittersweet that HRH George of Cambridge doesn't have his Grandmother Diana here, to love and spoil that way I'm sure Kate's mother will do.   I'm sure Diana is looking down, proud and happy that William has become such a nice young man with a beautiful, down to earth wife and now an adorable little heir that we anglophiles will enjoy watching as he grows into a fine adult.   With the parents he has, can he grow up any other way?   So, I join the Brits in wishing the new family much happiness and I hope they let us catch glimpses of HRH George as he grows up, as Diana did with William and Harry.   Bravo William and Kate, job well done!   Cheerio!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A Glorious 4th of July

 Hope you are celebrating the birth of our nation, however simple or small the picnic or party might be.  We used to be known for our 4th of July bashes.  I would decorate anything that wasn't sitting still and if it was sitting like our cat Sassy below, she got put in with the decor for picture documentation.  Back in the 80's the  big thing was to make a ham in a you can't even find a ham in a metal can.   I would make all kind of salads, baked beans, decorated flag cakes, even a jello mold made in the shape of the United States.

 Bunting and balloons, a Christmas tree decorated with 4th of July ornaments and flags, plasticware and dishes in red, white and blue, one brother providing his DJ services for some great music,  my other
 brother providing the fireworks.   We hosted these
parties for years and while it was a lot of hard work, the rewards were worth it.   I have so many pictures of family and friends sitting around, gourging themselves in their red, white and blue finest.   The most fun was seeing how everyone dressed up each year.   We were a pretty colorful, patriotic group.  At our first little cottage, we had arbors and trellises to decorate and everyone would pose under the arbor that we made with love for my husband's sister's garden wedding at our home.   I think I topped Martha Stewart that day.   I did idolize her back in 1991.  Now, not so much.
Every year my Dad and husband would try to outdo each other with their colorful patriotic shirts and they always took a great picture!   Love you guys.  As I've gotten older, I've let go of the entertaining, being happy to attend others picnics.   This year since the 4th falls in the middle of the week, not too many are having big shindigs, so I've purchased some beautiful ribeyes and that is what we'll be doing, barbecuing on the blue Weber grill given to us 27 years ago as a housewarming gift by my parents.   A nice quiet holiday spent listening to surrounding fireworks and reminiscing about the "good old days".    Happy Independence Day and God Bless the USA!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Another Year Older

 That picture of me on my first birthday was the first of many wonderful, happy parties.  This first one was spent quietly at my grandparents house where we were living, with my Godparents in attendance.  The cake was a lovely buttercream with a pretty blonde haired doll popping out of the middle.   I don't believe they had smash cakes way back in the 50's, and besides that, I was much too dignified to get icing all over my party dress.   My mother would always order a beautiful chocolate cake with buttercream frosting for all of our birthday parties.   Mine usually had ballerina's dancing around the edge, my brothers mostly had circus figures and they were the most delicious cakes made by our favorite local bakery.   They don't make them like that anymore.   It's become a lost art to make a delicious cake.  But that's a subject for another day.   We're here to celebrate my birthdays.
 My birthday is June 28th and I had many, many birthday parties all documented in our family albums.  My mother always said my parties fell on the hottest day of the year - I'm sure that was a slight exaggeration but this is in the era where it was a luxury to have an air conditioned house and my mother always had my parties either on the covered patio or in the garage.   It was sweltering in either location.   My scratchy, itchy party dress would stick to me, making me so uncomfortable but being the party girl I was, I never let on that I was uncomfortable.   That would have been unheard of.  I loved dressing up.   I just wish my birthday had fallen on a cool autumn day or the early days of winter.  But, I made due with the birthday I was given and in every pose, there is no clue that I'm feeling like a drenched washcloth.   My guests were troupers as well and went along trying to enjoy the festivities as best they could on the "hottest day of the year".   Of course it helped that they were bribed with all kind of party favors, prizes from games played like musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey.  My childhood parties were always a mixture of cousins, school chums and neighbors, but mostly the cousins.   There would be tons of food, my moms fabulous sloppy joes, hot dogs and chips and lots of bottles of Canfields flavored pop.  My favorite flavor was fruit punch.   It just wasn't a kids party without fruit punch which did nothing to quench your thirst on the "hottest day of the
year".   There were little cups of spanish peanuts and pastel mints at each childs place setting, blow out horns with paper fringe, decorated sunglasses, party hats, plastic leis, balloons, party cups and matching plates with some festive birthday decoration - Martha Stewart eat your heart out -  and the "Piece de resistance", a cake decorated so beautifully with sugary buttery cream made into colorful roses, with my name written on top, toasted coconut pressed around the sides of the cake.  Oh, it was too pretty to cut, but once my wish was made and the candles were blown, it was time to forget about how pretty it was and savor the creamy sweetness of the chocolate cake, the fresh strawberry filling and that wonderful buttercream frosting.  Oh, please let there be left over cake for tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.   I alway observed the way my mother handled cutting my cakes, not wanting my guests to get too big a piece, after all, I didn't want to be responsible for them getting a  tummy ache.   Just big enough for them to enjoy and me to have extra cake for the rest of the week.   To me the cakes were and still are better than all the gifts I could ever receive.  Well, except for that 40th birthday when I drove off the car lot that night with a candy apple red Sebring convertible.
 So, this year will not be a milestone birthday except that it is a year spent cancer free, so I will be spending it quietly with my husband and parents which is fine.   I've had the parties and have lovely memories and pictures to last a lifetime.  I enjoy quieter birthdays as I get older with time spent reflecting on all the journeys I've gone through in my 57 years.   My life has been great so far and I'm looking to celebrating ( quietly ) many more in  an air conditioned home or restaurant, not out in the sweltering heat in a sticky, scratchy party dress.   Those days are over.   Comfort rules!  Happy Birthday to me !   And thank you Mom for the best birthday parties ever!!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Solstice

 It is here!   Finally!   The first day of summer, the longest day of the year.   Thousands will make their pilgrimage to Wiltshire, England to celebrate among the Stonehenge ruins which were constructed around 2600 BC, though no one knows exactly how they achieved such a construction.  To think that the site was dug using picks made of antlers is mind boggling.  If you are intrigued, I suggest you research it on the internet, the facts and myths are fascinating.
So to all who have waited for Summer, it has arrived.   Celebrate and embrace it.   Be an observer of nature, not just in this season, but in all seasons.   For now, be on the look out for fireflies, fat bumble bees, hummingbirds and butterflies of all colors.   It isn't too late to add flowers to your surroundings be it a garden, a porch or deck, even a balcony if you're an apartment or townhouse dweller.   The insects and hummingbirds will be ever so grateful and the garden centers are still bursting with beautiful plants to pick from due to the cool spring we had.   So, support your local nurseries and greenhouses and drop by this week, give yourself a gift to celebrate this glorious season.   I leave you with a quote from Frank Lloyd Wright, a master at observing nature and creating dwellings that enhanced their natural surroundings.

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature.  It will never fail you".

Sunday, June 16, 2013


Happy Fathers Day!  I will be spending it with my father who I am blessed to still have around.   He's 80 years old and still going strong.   He wasn't around much when we were growing up, always eager to work as much overtime as he could to help provide for us so holidays and birthdays were special times spent with him.   His work ethic rubbed off on me and I spent my life working as he did, to better myself and acquire the things I wanted in life.  He's always had my back and I have always known that he was there for me if I ever needed anything.   I feel sorry for people who haven't had a father in their lives or had ones that were cruel and damaging to their heart and spirit.   My father was like his father, quiet, hard working but always generous and supportive.   While I never became a parent, I have observed how much he has enjoyed being a Grandfather and hope he continues to be in good health and happy for years to come.   Love you Dad!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

That New Car Smell

 I hope in your lifetime you have the opportunity to enjoy the smell of a new car, there's nothing quite like it.   I've had the good fortune through hard work  and smart choices, to have experienced it five time in my life.  My father gave me my first real car as a high school graduation gift, a 1970 bright yellow Chevy Nova with black vinyl seats which he presented to me the day of my graduation.   Previously I had been driving a former car of his - a 1963 Chevy Impala which was huge like an armor tank.   But the Nova was mine and even though it wasn't brand new with that special smell, it was new to me just the same.   I got his money's worth out of that car and was so grateful for his gift.   With that car I entered the work force and never looked back.  I found that working hard ( a work ethic I learned from my father ) got me the nice things in life that I desired.   And so, after a few years I wanted to pick out my own car which my father counselled me on and co-signed my first car loan for a 1976 Buick Skyhawk hatchback which I totally adored.   Again, it was not brand spanking new and didn't have that "new car smell" but it was new to me and I worked hard to diligently pay that car loan and make my Dad proud.   When I paid that off and proved to him I was trustworthy and responsible, he agreed to come look at new cars with me and helped me purchase a 1985 1/2 - yes Ford called it a 1985 AND A HALF Ford Escort.   Brand new, baby blue with you guessed it!   That brand new car smell.   Oh, God there was nothing like it.  I wanted it to last forever which it didn't.   But I took great care of that car and made my payments on time faithfully and the man I married got me and that car in the bargain.  A couple years after we married and started a side business selling at arts and crafts shows, we needed larger transportation and traded his Toyota in for a brand spanking new 1989 Plymouth Voyager mini van, fully loaded with all the bells and whistles and the "new car smell".   We definitely got our moneys worth out of that car.   Soon after that, we started talking about me getting a convertible, so on June 28, 1996 ( my fortieth birthday ) we drove off Chrysler's lot with a spanking new candy apple red Sebring convertible after trading in my beloved Escort.   I enjoyed that "new car smell" any time I happened to have the top up.   That car served us well as my work car and our weekend driving around fun car.  After ten years it started showing its age even though we pampered it, so we traded it in for wah - lah, my VW Beetle convertible with the leather heated seats and that "new car smell".   Again, I enjoyed that whenever I happened to have the top up.   Well, my partner in crime never did warm up to that "girlie car" as he called it.   Well, that was one of the nicer phrases he used to describe it - I won't mention the other words he used.   While I drove the Beetle, my husband had his Toyota RAV4 which I referenced a few days ago.   The car was totally destroyed in a car accident but it saved our lives because the door kept the other car from coming right at me.   We decided then and there that our convertible days were over and since we were both home, why have two cars and two insurance payments?  We rarely drove the Beetle and the new car smell of both cars was long gone.  So, we decided to trade in my beloved Beetle and get a brand spanking new 2013 Toyota RAV4 in Barcelona Red, with all the bells and whistles, heated seats, you name it AND that "new car smell".
I can only add that I hope you all someday have the chance to experience the "smell" even if it means visiting a showroom and sitting in a new car just for the experience.   We have been fortunate enough to have worked hard, made good choices and have enjoyed our car experiences.   This will probably be our last new car purchase and I'll enjoy the experience and smell of the car while it lasts which I hope will be for a very, very long time.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Heart Melter

Funny how, no matter what mood you are in, all you need to do is look into the eyes of your pet and become totally consumed by them.   They lift our spirits, make us forget our cares and concerns and they love us unconditionally.   Our big guy here has become more dog than cat.   We have had other cats who acted like  cats - aloof, detached, conceited, temperamental, moody but lovable just the same.   But none have the attributes that this cat possesses.  He demands attention quite often where the other cats were content to go off to a quiet part of the house and sleep the hours away.   This cat has to be with us most of the day and night.   Don't get me wrong, we love that about him.   He's always demanding our attention, demanding to be pet, to have treats given to him, to be let out on the front porch to watch the birds and nap the day away.   No matter what he does, you just can't get mad at him, at least not for long.  Since he was a kitten he has had this naughty streak in him which I've always referred to as his "terrible twos".   Even though he's now twelve years old, his terrible twos still surface occasionally.  Thank God he's too darn big to climb up on tables and knock things over or set his tail on fire from a lit candle like he did as a kitten.  And who can forget how he snuck into an opened dryer only to have me close the door and start it, hearing this thump, thump, thump.  I thought my husband had put in a pair of tennis shoes and as soon as I opened the door, wah lah, out tumbles our boy, shaken but still in one piece.  He's way too big for those antics anymore.   He tips the scale at 30 lbs.   I know dogs smaller than that!   That's part of the reason we treat him like a dog.   We forget he's a cat.   He listens.  He knows what we're saying to him.   Our other cats played dumb, not wanting to deal with us unless it was dinner time or they were cold and needed a warm body to cozy up to.   This big boy has turned into the spoiled child we never had and I can't imagine life without him.   He eats us out of house and home and we joke that he needs to get a part time job to support the kitty crack ( treats ) he demands so often.   But we love and adore him and wouldn't change a thing about our Monty.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

National Donut Day, did you celebrate it?

Yesterday the media was all over it.   Yes, it was National Donut Day and you'd have thought it was a major holiday.   The Today Show, GMA, CNN and other media outlets were all aflutter about donuts, with most of them featuring the trendy $5.00 cronut croissant donut which has them lined up at a New York bakery for hours.   The baker only makes 40 a day and refuses to make more or hire more help, so they sell on the black market for forty bucks a pastry.   Crazy!  It didn't even look that good to me and I've never met a donut I didn't like.

Which brings me to some donut trivia for today.
Have you ever seen the classic "It Happened One Night" with Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert?   Well, there is a scene where he's dunking a donut in his coffee and she's looking at him like he has a third eye.   He explains what he's doing and has her dunk one, which she leaves in the coffee way too long and he patiently explains to her that dunking it too long gets it all soggy and it falls apart and is inedible.   Well, I guess that scene started the trend of dunking your donuts because it took off in the 1930's like wildfire.   Maybe it's a Hollywood myth, maybe fact,but I think it's a delightful story about the origins of dunking.

So while we're on the subject of donuts and pastries and bakeries, have you noticed the neighborhood  bakeries are becoming extinct?   They have either closed their doors or sold to someone who didn't carry on with their original recipes.   It seems that the small Mom and Pop shops can't compete with the larger grocery chains which have their own bakery goods of sickening sweet tasteless goo they call pastries.   They don't compare to the small bakeries which used the best, freshest ingredients.   Today, the sweets you buy in the grocery store bake shop all taste the same, bland cake, sugary icing with no hint of vanilla or chocolate, tasteless fruit filling and outrageous prices.   I'm sorry to see the privately owned bakeries closing and whenever I have the chance I buy from them.   I'd rather pay a little extra for a decadent Caramel cake form Angelica's or a cannoli filled buttercream birthday cake from the bakery my family has used for years.  So next time you need to pick up a dozen rolls or you need to order that special cake for a graduation or birthday, consider the neighborhood bakery instead of the grocery chains.   You won't be disappointed and you'll help them stay in business and that is what we need - to keep the small business owners thriving!  So, there!  I've said my peace.   Time for coffee and a cinnamon roll.