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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Eating my words

Well, It was an amazing movie, last night we saw Avatar by James Cameron. I didn't want to go, didn't think I wanted to see some Jar Jar Binks look-alikes, but they didn't look like him at all. It was truly weird how at first the Pandora creatures looked so alien, and then so beautiful. The humans looked puny and sick by comparison. I should just stop being a naysayer and force myself to do things I don't want to on a much more regular basis. There are certain movies that stick with you for cinematographic value alone and this will be one of them.
Everything was beautiful, even the weapons. In "Alien", when they were using those machines that they put themselves into, those giant robotic forklift things,I thought they were cool, but clumsy and very limited. The ones in Avatar were elegant and had a range of motion that was breathtaking. They were a magnificent melding of machine and human with very fast reflexes, running and jumping ability. Even the helicopter-like things with the side counter-rotating rotors were mesmerizing. They reminded me of the steampunk machines in The Golden Compass that looked strangely futuristic and historic at the same time.

The planet was stunningly developed, I always thought the movie Legend would be hard to beat for beauty, but the glowing phosphorescence of the plant life against a dark sky reminded me of private underwater realms that we rarely see.

I hope you all get a chance to see it- I will not spoil the plot but I hope to see it in 3-D soon at the IMAX theatre.

Monday, December 28, 2009


My husband has been under a lot of pressure this year. My daughter won her softball championship, my son won his baseball championship, I won the dream job, so he had to win, finally win his Fantasy Football league. We were going to ask him to move out if he lost. After months of "Screaming Sundays" the verdict is in, he won in both leagues. It wasn't about the money, it never was, it was about being CHAMPION! Can you tell we are a bit competitive in my family? Yep, we are. After like 6 years of crazy draft parties and him stealing all the computers and televisions every week for the endless round of games, I finally feel like it was worth something. I watched him meticulously prepare the championship trophy for each year's winner (not him) and feel bad that he will have to prepare his own. As commissioner no one will laud his skill at picks and transactions, but we know here in our house how he suffered through every choice, how he questioned every player's ability to advance him toward the playoffs. So though he will never read this, it is out there in the ether- the vindication that he is the MAN! You go Baby!
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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Out in the Sticks

Of course I have to drive at least a half hour to get some decent yarn unless I bug my local woolspinner. After speaking to a few friends about their favorite places to get yarn, I decided to just drive to a Rosie's Yarn Cellar on Locust Street in Philly.

It is far easier to drive there than negotiate the twisting roads of South Jersey all the way to Cape May. I asked my daughter is she felt like a quick jaunt to the city and we had no trouble finding it at all. Mapquest finally came through! We even found a parking spot right in front of little shop. It WAS in the cellar and I was surprised by all the choices.

I took it easy, didn't spend too much and finally bought the Clover bamboo circular needles I had been moaning about for the past year. This shop has sidewalk sales and a blog that is updated frequently. They offer classes and have a frequent shopper program. I will have to organize a field trip for my knitting group.

I haven't knitted in over a month and have been itching to get some wool for a new hat project. My son and nephews could use some matching hats and I figure I will start this week while I am off. My daughter picked out a nice Irish Tweed for the boys.

It will be sufficiently manly enough for them. Rosie's had a decent selection of buttons so if anyone is making a sweater, they have the wool AND the buttons. Our knitting group is getting ready to start

up again, so I am excited to see what everyone is working on. We had a bit of a falling off from August to November and I was so sick in December. I haven't seen some of our members since summer. Next year I guess we will not meet in the Summer and Fall. I will quilt instead. There is a fabulous new quilt shop in my town. I have to make quilts for both my kids to take to college. Knitted blankets don't really keep you warm like a woobie quilt.

Too lazy

I am so mad bubbleshare went belly up. I had tons of pictures on my blog from them and I just don't have the umph to go reposting them all so that my previous postings make sense. UUUUUUUGGGGH! as Charlie might say. I am alone in the kitchen debating the day and what I should do with it. I can stay home and waste it listening to my husband scream and yell his way through two chanpionship playoffs in fantasy football, or I can get out of here and do something constructive. Maybe a yarn shop visit? HMMMMMMM. Two of the dogs took off this morning chasing after squirrels in the woods behind our yard. One didn't come back for forty minutes. I had to wake up my daughter to help me look for her. Yes, this is a shamless plug for the garden fence if you are reading this, my hubby. Enough already. I wendt out and checked out all my herbs, they did very well under 2 feet of snow. Christmas morning i was out there digging out the rosemary for dinner. It loves the snow, but the parsley was decidedly wimpy. The sun today may rescue it. It should dig some of each herb up and bring them indoors for the winter, I just don't remember which herb didn't make it through last year. Can you tell I already have cabin fever in December? I want to garden already. Wow, it is going to be a long winter.

I know what this is all stemming from. I have been sick for the last month- yes MONTH. I could barely get through each day at work and I came home and collapsed. My poor kids had to eat junk like pizza and chinese food and subs for dinner. I wish this sickness had led to a huge weight loss, that would have been worth it, but no luck, I actually gained two pounds while I lie in my bed, too sick to even read. That is true, I have never been so sick I couldn't while away the time with a good book,but I lost a whole month of my life. My new cycle students think I have no lungs because I haven't had a decent voice for them yet. I typed a lot of messages on the smartboard for them instead of trying to choke my way through an explanation. I have no idea what was wrong with me, an upper respiratory infection that outlived two z-paks and 2 rounds of leviquin. I think I know what set it off, I have been surrounded with students who have been sneezing and coughing their germs all over my room since September, but really, a month? I still choke all night long and have other embarrassing issues to boot. Well if that ain't enough to cause cabin fever in December, I don't know what is. Here is hoping the new year brings me new lung strength and a renewed love for soup, because after a month of it, I may never make a pot of it again. I am also sending out my thanks to my wonderful friends who drove my kids places and dropped of soup to help me get better. I can never thank you enough, my family would have starved without you.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What to make for Christmas?

Each year I do a little reflection on what a holiday meal should be. After years of turkey and trimmings or ham, I am always looking to make something memorable that my family and friends will enjoy. The year of the lamb chops was good, it stood out from the others. This year I just happened to catch an episode of Down home with the Neeleys, and they were making Cornish Game hens with lemon pepper. I thought, "Well, I could do that, except for the lemon pepper, it seemed to ordinary to do to a beautiful little hen." So I went off on an internet search for a better idea. Paula Deen had the stuff I was looking for, and I changed her recipe to make it my own. Luckily I was able to dig some fresh rosemary out of the snow in my kitchen garden. It did make all the difference. Just so I don't ever lose this recipe- I am posting my version here. I hope you try it, it is delicious! Probably the most memorable Christmas meal since the deep friend turkey.

6 Cornish game hens -about 1 pound each (I bought frozen and defrosted them- They were fine!)
4 cloves garlic
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (Paula uses peanut oil)
2 tablespoons orange juice
3 tablespoons Orange marmalade (I just used Smuckers)
1 tablespoon orange zest, minced
pats of butter ( at least one for each hen.
Fresh Rosemary- one bunch.

Rinse hens, trim off excess fat, and pat dry; salt and pepper the insides of each. Place in marinade container.
Put garlic and ginger in food processor and process until smooth.
In another bowl, mix soy sauce, honey, oil, orange juice, marmalade and zest. Add the garlic and ginger. Pour mixture over game hens, coating well. Refrigerate overnight, turning in marinade several times.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place game hens in shallow roasting pan; pour marinade on top. Tuck a slice of orange in each hen along with a spring of rosemary. Tuck the rest of the rosemary around the hens. Put a pat of butter on each hen. Bake for 1 hour, basting every 15 minutes. Shoot some of the glaze inside each hen when you baste. Remove hens to serving platter. Pour cooking juices into small, heavy saucepan and boil for 4 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Pour over hens just before serving. Serve with wild rice and a healthy salad.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The pressure

When I was watching house husbands today I heard a girl say to her dad that he didn't work. All the men complained of being unfufilled at one point or another. it reminded me of the pressure I felt from my daughter eight years ago. I had a full time job that I was good at. She didn't see it that way because it was a family business. In other words, it wasn't valued enough. It was these words from a seven year old that propelled me to go back to school to be a teacher, " It is not an important job mommy". I guess these words made me take note of what my dreams were, pre-kids. As I watched these men complete to-do lists left to them by their wives, I felt bad for them. Every mom knows how hard it is to stay home, it is easier to work away from home regardless of travel time. It also is important to know that our financial contribution helps. Nobody appreciates the laundry we do until they have run out of underwear and socks. Staying at home is a thankless job, so for every mom and dad that stays home and works their butts off there, I give you credit. I could only ever handle it part-time before I went bonkers.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tired of the pictures

I am tired of uploading my precious photos and seeing the photo places go out of business after a few years, Bubbleshare by Disney will be biting the dust soon and you know I use them a lot on my blog. Monetize already and stop messing with us! I will have to go back to actually ordering prints and books. I now upload rolls to three different sites, but I needed the blog ones to stay. I may have to get discriminating about what I shoot and keep, because there are only so many external harddrives I want in my life. They are sure to fail eventually. I guess I will just have to start handling this problem instead of letting endless files build up on hardrives and on the net.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We will get sued...

My dogs went to the groomers this week, but not all of them. One poor mini-schnauzer had to stay behind because she had little schnauzer bump ulcers after being shut up while the carpet men were here. This rash is called comedone syndrome, which is the stupidest name I have ever heard of for a syndrome. It has something to do with the hair follicles erupting into ulcers. In my house if there is a bump/bite or scratch on one of the dogs, the other dogs will lick and chew on it until it is bloody. In the morning she was fine, by afternoon she was covered in bloody bumps. Uuuughh! It took two vets to diagnose, since they didn't look like bug bites and she had a rash on her belly as well. In fact, all her skin was pretty red. We put her on a regimen of steroids and antibiotics and kept her away from the other two dogs. Sadly her red door appointment had to be cancelled. While the other dogs enjoyed their day of beauty, my poor Trixe had to succumb to my own distinctive grooming style. I cut her carefully, avoiding her little bleeds and then used the razor on all the areas she would let me. I gave her a benzoyl peroxide shampoo for her little ulcers and she looked fairly good, until the other dogs came home. My schnauzer looks like a cat. My son was complaining about her look this morning and my daughter said,
" Never become a hairdresser mom, we will get sued."
I truly did my best, but she does squirm an awful lot.

Saturday, August 15, 2009


Today is another day of revelations from my dad. He was at Woodstock for a few hours. Weird, I cannot picture it at all, apparently he flew in with a friend on his helicopter and when people were pooping where they were eating, they left. They didn't mind all the other stuff that that was pushing it. The stuff we do not know about our parents could fill several books I bet.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There's gold in them there hills!

Yesterday I scrapped my old gold and got paid $180.00. I did not shop around looking for the best rate, I just turned it in as I was getting some other pieces repaired. I had years worth of broken rings, bits of chains, and bracelets that had no hope of ever being worn again. Single earrings seemed to take up most of the weight. I do not know what it is about me and hoops but we just don't seem to be able to sustain long-term relationships. Some of these scraps I have had since I was 20 years old. Old bits and baubles that have floated in the detritus at the bottom of my jewelry box will have a new home on someone's body as they are recycled. Since extracting gold from mines is such a dangerous and underpaid profession, I thought it was high time to clean out my mess and contribute to the shortage. Of course, the money in my bank account doesn't hurt either, but it really all boiled down to cleaning out of my drawers. I love summer cleaning because we get a chance to get rid of everything we really don't need and reorganize our home and minds. I feel better after a clean out, able to tackle projects easier. I have listed a gazillion books on amazon and there is a steady trickle as they make their way out of my house to the post office. This particular clean out make a take a few years as I have thousands of books in the basement. The payoff is slower as well, but it still beats the prices I get at a yard sale.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Absentee Landlord and cell phone woes

I know how absent I have been from this blog for the last month. In between filling out credit applications for the new theatre, studying and going to numerous job interviews, and getting through baseball and softball playoffs, I haven't had time to do anything. I did make a few halfhearted tweets last week from the new blackberry, but that is all. So far I like the new gadget, though it is not syncing with my mac right. BUMMER!
I haven't had time to do more than look through the user forums and call apple, maybe this week I will attack the blackberry call center and get this thing working my way. Speaking of cell phones, both of my kid's new cell phones, the Rant, have been freezing up. we are just going to get a blackberry for my daughter, because she lost all of her information. There is no sim card in the sprint Rant, just a media card. ANOTHER BUMMER! Thank goodness we still have her sim card from her old Nextel and the new phones were only in use for 2 weeks, at least she can get most of her contact info back. I just wish things worked the way they are supposed to.

In the theatre, everything that could go wrong this week with the 35 mm projector, did go wrong. Right now we are Five hours away from premiering the new Harry Potter and the projector is still acting wonky. I could just cry from all the lamp burn-outs, relay problems, wiring troubles, and everything else. It appears that Lydia, our resident ghost, may not like our projectionist very much. He even stopped wearing his suspenders today in order to appease her. I hope she gets out of her funk. When I left a half hour ago, the screen was making some awful screeching sounds and our sound guy was being a total ___. I leave you to fill in the blanks. I think we are all on our last legs here. Yesterday, when I drove into Philly to pick up the Half-Blood Prince reels, I shoulda stopped and had them blessed or something. Well, I will post pictures later of tonight's premiere, good or bad.;..

8th grade graduation SURPRISE!

I was so proud of how hard my daughter worked in middle school, I just had to do SOMETHING! A pirate-themed murder mystery was in order! It was extremely hard keeping it a secret, her friends were texting me non-stop about their characters and costumes. It was the most fun ever and our family and friends really pulled out all the stops in terms of costumes and participation. Enjoy the photos...

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Yes I changed it...

I like renewal, so I changed the title of my blog. Apparently Pandora's Box has too much attraction for the porn crowd, so I dug up my own little box title. I have always told every child that drove me crazy that I would put them in a corner in a box, or that they could find me there if I went batty.

Knitting can be dangerous!

As a woman I have always prided myself on my ability to make anything work. If you don't have the right tools improvise, right? Instead of rooting around for the toolbox and the correct tool as a man would do, I have used skinny thick vases as hammers to hang art, butter knives as screwdrivers, and my husband's work shoes as a sledgehammer to beat the garden fence posts into the ground. This flexibility has usually served me well, until today. This morning I was attempting to not wake my family up and still get some cleaning done. My crafts are usually all over the place (along with my shoes) and I thought I would tackle that task (like that alliteration?).
I was cleaning out my knitting bag, there was lots of yarn and it was all tangled. I wanted nice tidy little balls of wool. After discovering my scissors were gone, again, I decided to break the knotted yarn with the fire starter. You know, to just burn through the yarn? Well it worked fine on 5 tangles, then the black yarn really caught fire. As I attempted to blow the little tiny burning bits out, I had a drop of burning synthetic yarn stick to my finger. I immediately put my finger in my mouth, burned my lip, and now I have a blister on my lip. I am sure by tomorrow it will look like I have the herpes. That is what we called it where I come from, the herpes.

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Graduation Moments

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The letting go...

Last night I beheld my daughter with her battle scars. After a night of traveling softball she came back to me with a fat lip and bruises all over her legs. I did not freak, or get all mushy, I just looked, asked if her nose felt broken and continued eating my ice cream. I was at my son's game all night while she was away at another field with my husband. She seemed mighty proud as she stood before me, daring me to have a fit over her face, and I didn't go there. After all, what mom wouldn't freak just a little?. According to the coach of the pitcher who damaged her, the only way she was going to get on base was by getting hit with the ball. I guess they really wanted her on that base, but they shouldn't have spoken so soon. She was able to bang one back at the pitcher and I am happy for her. Hopefully as she graduates and sings the Star-Spangled Banner this Friday night, she won't look like Quasimodo and ruin her own pictures.

Update: They won the whole championship, she slid into almost every baseman for the rest of the season. Crazy...
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AND, my husband had to shave his beard and mustache, the other coaches had to shave their heads... Unbelievable, I think he should have shaved his legs instead, I like the beard and mustache...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What a weekend!

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Photos courtey of Warren Ogden, Jack Mazzeo Studio's, Dave Buckley, Rus ____ and myself.

Well, it is not over yet, I am still working my way through our theatre opening weekend, but it has been a lot of hard work and a blast to boot. Friday afternoon, I arrived to find our sign in place and a torrential downpour that flooded the municipal parking lot. Since we had an overflow tent in our parking lot, I was worried about our soft opening. Luckily, everything came together, area carpets were loaned so we could protect the new carpets and keep everyone from slipping in the bathrooms. SO much donated food arrived, the staging area was like a cruise ship banquet hall. I could not believe how generous the local restaurants and pastry chefs were. Volunteers we didn't even know we had showed up and kept the cocktail party beautiful, elegant and well staffed. We didn't even run out of wine or those amazing cheeses. I have never spent $65 on cheese before,(I split it with a friend, so we had $125.00 worth) but it was amazing, and I still have a bit left for a wine and cheese party at my home.
Saturday dawned cloudy and became a beautiful sunny day as soon as we cut the ribbon. The local media showed after all the performances on the stage were through, but I think they still had decent footage. Dj was great, as were the groups performing inside. The venders had a good time and the food was delicious. There were griddle hot dogs on wonderful buns, glad I had one, it was split open open down the middle and fried flat on the griddle, then it was enceased in a nice chewy roll. YUM! Well, we have our big premeire tonight, wish us luck!
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Organically Grown

I made a little discovery yesterday, the market that I had been shopping in for fifteen years had a wide organic meat selection. It was in a freezer next to the fresh meats and I had never bothered to look at the sign. They had rabbit, beef tongue, various steaks, and sausages all made out of grass-fed animals. The prices were dear, but it was nice to know that the people with the financial wherewithal have choices among their cuts of beef. I should not have been surprised, this market features the most amazing cheeses and varieties of produce and pasta. They also carry fresh breads from bakeries in Philly and butcher their own cuts of meat in the back. Bagliani's offers wholesale produce out of the back, and very good prices on produce for the retail customer. I went in there yesterday to get their fried chicken and home-made macaroni salad. They fry their chickens in a pressure cooker, which gives it a nice crunchy skin. I will try their organic meats next week, I didn't get anything yesterday because I did not have any recipes for rabbit on me, and I was in a bit of a hurry. I will take the kids with me and we will choose something. I am normally not a fan of frozen meats, so I think I will be getting some of the more exotic cuts.
The funniest thing was me standing in front of the lettuces and spinach and realizing that I did not have to purchase anything because my garden is really enjoying our rainy early summer weather. At least one row of my lettuces will have to be picked and reseeded this week.

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Exam Avoidance

I thought I had seen it all. It is exam time and kids are faking sick, converging on the nurse's office en masse and conveniently "losing" their study guides. I was wrong, today I was treated to the sight of kids stuffing each other into lockers. There was no bullying involved, the "victims" asked for this treatment, they wanted to stay in a one foot by 4 foot space instead of writing an essay. When they were handed scantron sheets during social studies, they blanked out. One teacher reported that the students asked what to write on the subject line and said " And people wonder why I am retiring?" Our exam team of at-risk students were no better the students just circled any answer, thinking they were going to get away with it. They wouldn't even fill out their study guides appropriately unless we were policing them. One student wrote for the Social Studies term Lexington, that it was a small town in the middle of nowhere and the town of Concord was a small town in the middle of nowhere, next to Lexington. I really don't think that information will help him pass his exam.

Linear Perspective

Last night, as we were re-hanging (Don't ask) the borders and legs for the stage, we were treated to a little lesson on upstage and downstage. I knew where they were, but not the reasons why, specifically. Dwight told us about linear perspective, the Italians, raked stages and roman acting platforms. Upstage was where the stage was highest, in the back, since the audience was normally sitting on a flat surface. The audience could still see the actors that were furthest away from them. There is always a reason for the vernacular we use, we don't even think about it most of the time. As we set up theatre games for our younger theatre camp members I think we will incorporate some of the rich history that lies behind all the theatre terms. Thanks for the lesson Dwight!

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Grand Opening!

Eagle Theatre Grand Re-Opening Set for Saturday and Sunday.
Hammonton's historic Eagle Theater, located at Second and Vine, will be holding its grand re-opening on Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7. The 200 seat theatre has been completely refurbished and is almost ready for the big event.

The schedule of events for the big weekend is as follows:

Saturday: Saturday begins with an open house from Noon to 4 PM with free refreshments and tours. At noon, there will be a presentation by Dance Magic. At 1 PM, Mayor John DiDonato will cut the ribbon during the dedication ceremony as well as the reading of a special proclamation. At 1:30 the Hammonton High School Choir will perform. This will be followed at 2 PM by a Shakespearean Monologue by Carl Howell. At 2:30 PM will be a presentation by the Paul Morris DanceXplosion.

Saturday evening will be the inaugural performance on the new Eagle Theatre stage. The program is "Broadway by Request" and features The Shaken Not Stirred Players. Curtain rises at 8 PM. Tickets are $25 and may be reserved by calling 609-561-1199. Tickets are going fast according to the members of the Friends of the Eagle Theatre.

Sunday: For the first time in many, many years, a special feature film matinee will be held. The movie is "Back to the Future". Tickets are $5 and can also be reserved by calling 609-561-1199. Refreshments will be available for purchase.

For more information, visit the theatre's website at .

What is with the Chair?

I went for an important job interview yesterday and when I sat down, the chair tipped back. Every time I leaned back, just a little, the chair almost tipped over. I felt like I was being punked by Aston Kutcher. It was a rocking-type office chair that seemed like the back had lost its ability to stay upright. I could not relax and my concentration was severely affected. I even had to ask them to repeat a question.

I do not know if they do this just to see how the applicants respond. I won't mention the school, since it is local and I am TRYING to get a job there, but I thought that since they KNEW that the chair tipped back and told me not to lean back after my first tipping incident, it would have been nice to have been offered a different chair. Since there are many more applicants they need to see, I hope they have a heart and change out the chair. I hope I don't see myself on youtube.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Ah, the smells...

Today I was driving past the railroad and the smell of tar and resin drifted into my car. There were men working on the tracks and the scent was fresh and sharp. I was immediately transported back to the 6th grade when I used to walk home on the railroad tracks with my friends. We would go to a wonderful soda shop right across the street from our middle school. It was called the Campus, and we would buy SOME candy there. We would buy the rest of our candy at a little store in the neighborhood that we called Fishies. They sold those little gummy fish individually, you know, as in penny candy? I have no idea what the name of the store was, it was just Fishies to us.

We would take our candy and Yoo-Hoo's and walk along the tracks. There was a special spot we had to hang out, it was a manhole in the middle of a stream under the tracks. There were four of us on that manhole at least once a week, and we couldn't even face each other because there wasn't room. We stepped gingerly from rock to rock until all four of us were safely seated, our bookbags were left on the shore. Thank goodness we were skinny or we would have pushed each other into the water every time we shifted position. We shared our deepest secrets on that manhole, and lots of candy. Our backs to each other, we would talk as long as we could.

Sometimes we would get tar on our shoes and pick it off while we sat there, rolling the little balls of black into tiny voodoo dolls of the teachers we disliked or the kids that thought they were so tough. We could hear other students walking the tracks above us, but no one ever noticed us right below them. Luckily for us, we were shielded by a huge Mulberry tree during the warmer months, during the winter, it was a bit cold to sit on a metal manhole. The kids that rode their bikes on the dirt trails that ran along the tracks were the ones that we were afraid of discovering our secret place. They were the noisy boys that teased girls and played "Keep Away" with the bookbags.

Thinking about this time in my life made me realize how precious a few stolen moments with one's girlfriends can be. I have no idea why there was a manhole sitting in the middle of a stream. Where could it lead? Someday I will go back there and see if the actual place fits the picture in my mind. Or maybe I won't and just let the memory be.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

It's a Lot More SInister Than That

Last night we were at a talent show that my daughter and her friends were in. It was a benefit and I was working the ticket window. One of her sixteen-year-old friends, Steve, came up to the window during the intermission and explained that the event was really quite sinister. I immediately thought he was referring to the People's Choice awards, where people put money in the bucket of the performer that they liked the best. The one who raises the most money gets a special Angel award. When I started to explain the program to him, he interrupted me, "No No, it is not that."

I did not know what he meant and replied, "No Steve, it is really just a fundraiser."
"Unngh, Unngh," he continued, "You just don't know what is going on in there."
"I don't know what you mean."
"It is the war of the old Grandparents," Mrs. __________.
"Explain Steve," I dared.
"There are all these old grandparents in there going, "Did you see my Johnny, wasn't he wonderful, did you see my Mary, she was better tonight than most of them." He put up his hands and warned, " You better watch out, they are going to start attacking each other with their walkers. This isn't a talent show, it is a Grandparents Grudge Match." Watch out for your mother-in-law, she might get attacked."

I was astonished, but laughing my butt off, because he wasn't entirely off the mark. Everyone in the ticket booth was laughing too as we looked around at the grandparents talking to each other about the performance so far.
All the people in the show, adults and kids, thought that they had just that little bit of something that made them special enough to go head to head with each other. It is not exactly a reach to think that their families also think they have a little bit of something that makes them special, but Grandparents do have that extra pride gene, you know. I overheard one saying that her grandson looked exactly like her son when he played the piano, it was like watching him all over again, and "Everybody remembers how good HE was." Guess Steve pegged it right. Trust a sixteen year old to cut through to the heart of the situation.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Jodi Kreider, Keep Your Beak Clean

None of us can afford to throw stones, I wonder what Jodi's real beef is? Is she a publicity hound? Is she truly looking out for the children of Jon and Kate? Is she jealous of the what the Gosselins are earning? Tough to tell. Would she be able to withstand the same scrutiny she and her husband are focusing on their own family? I hope their beaks are clean. The media has a way of finding out everything there is to know about people. EVERYONE has an axe to grind when they go public about a sensitive issue. Wonder what it is. It does make me think less of the Kreiders that they would put the family business out there in such an unflattering manner. No one expects anyone to talk badly about one's own family, that would be cruel. It is not necessary and I wonder why they are doing it. I myself have an axe to grind while writing this. I don't like when families sabotage each other. I wish people would just stop.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The back of an envelope

What is wrong with ideas hatched on the back of an envelope? I have written my best songs on the backs of envelopes, while driving (You know how I love to multitask). who among us hasn't reached for any scrap of paper when brillant ideas are hatched?

I was reading an article this morning about global warming and how Energy Secretary, Steven Chu,had an idea to combat this problem. He suggested painting the roofs of the building in our cities white so they would be more reflective and not the heat sinks they currently are. The article is entitled," Energy Secretary's White-Paint Proposal Puzzles Climate-Change Experts."

Another gentleman likened Chu's idea to an uneducated, random proposal, "Milloy was most critical: "It sounds like some dubious global-warming calculation that someone made on the back of an envelope." I do not know what Milloy has against envelopes, but there are millions of businesses and ideas that have been founded on scraps of lessor papers than envelopes. Milloy, just because the idea did not come from a scheduled think-tank of scientists in a formal setting, it does not mean it cannot succeed. I challenge you to always carry around a team of scientists and legal pads in case you are inspired.


Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Calling calling calling

I feel like I am back in my telemarketing days. I am sifting through an endless list of studios trying to find the one person who is the actual distributor. Dead-end emails and phone numbers are driving me just a hair this side of crazy. Apparently none of the big boys want to come out and play, because there is no way to get in touch with them. Today I will probably spend another three hours beating my head against the same wall.
The only distributers who anyone can reach right away have libraries that will not bring movie viewers into our theatre. Most of their social and documentary films are not going to appeal to our demographic, they are more suited to a high school or college classroom. Well, enough groaning, I better get in the shower or I will be late to my real job.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Van Zyverden Inc.-Shame on You!

Review of strawberry plants-Three years in a row I have bought strawberry plants from this company, Van Zyverden Inc. Do I have strawberries? No. Do I even have a plant? No. failure to bloom. Failure to do anything. I planted everything according to directions, not even a leaf comes up. THREE YEARs IN A ROW.
After a few more days of despairing that I would never find strawberries in my yard, I went to the garden center. I was choosing some nice BIG strawberry plants with berries on them already. My husband tried to stop me by saying, Must we? Is it the yearly killing of the strawberries time already? I pressed ahead and bought the plants. Of course some animal in my yard has attacked them and eaten the berries, so still no strawberries for me. I can see myself failing at this quest well into my nineties. In any case, back to the bad company that sells the little plants that refuse to grow each year. They have no working website, no customer service number on the packaging, though they prominently display the Guaranteed to Grow at the bottom. This might be their number I will try it on Monday.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Get a Clue People

I am sick to death of watching reality TV stars self-destruct. Haven't they learned from everyone else's mistakes? While I love watching Jon and Kate plus 8, I cannot help but feel that they should have been prepared for disaster like every other reality family. Hardly any of them make it out unscathed by the press, and the fact that they even have to have a bodyguard says it all. I feel bad for them, they just wanted another child, wound up with 6 adorable babies and probably felt like they had to bring in income any way they could. What a choice to make. It also seems that now they are reaching for a bit more of life than they have previously enjoyed and are getting slapped in the face for it. Although I wish Kate would lay off the Spray Tan, she looks better and so does Jon, they don't seem as cohesive, even their fighting has lost its uuumph. I will say a prayer that they make it, Lord knows I would not want to be the one to have to move out of that house. Can you imagine setting up separate accommodations elsewhere that could hold all those children? Jon doesn't seem to have the money-making capabilities that Kate does, so he will probably have a rougher time of it, unless he learns how to write a book. I feel bad when families fall apart. Anyone thinking of a reality show career should look at the odds, they aren't good, people.

In response to Drinn in my comments section, I have to again say that while I love the show, there are years of reality couple misadventures that this couple should have taken into account. They should not be surprised and should have expected it at some point. While the producers of Whose Wedding is it Anyway were filming your wedding the "expected" happened. When the crew interviewed me for your show, I knew not to say anything that could be misconstrued and I answered all questions slowly. They questioned me in front of the boat, and they were trying to get me to say something negative about the choices you had made for your wedding. I staunchly defended your style, pointed out how elegant the Pirate Wedding was and how it was not surprising at all. If you had a normal, bland wedding, THAT would be a surprise to me AND all your guests. I guess I didn't give them the edge they were looking for, since luckily, my comments never made the show. Unfortunately, when other people like family and friends are involved in reality shows, you cannot dictate what will be said, what jealousies will rear their ugly heads and what the fallout could be. We certainly are seeing that in Jon and Kate Plus Eight. You have to be a real sad person to sellout your family the way her brother did. One of my daughter's friends just made a reality show and when we were discussing this situation we had a family argument about these types of shows. I would never consent to my family doing one, it is not worth it. Not everyone in my family agreed with me. You were lucky enough to escape unscathed, though I fully expect the pole-dancing groomsmen to make it into another show at a later date.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Dogs Don't Celebrate Mother's Day

The first hint that mother's day is not going so well would be to look at the time stamp. I have been up for over an hour already. Guess What?
Dogs don't celebrate this day. They were bouncing on my head for an hour before I gave up and took them out. Then they ran into the neighbor's yard and played with all the birds, I had to chase them down to get them back into our yard. Then, the wind was blowing at like 60 miles and hour and I had to chase the trash can around the yard as well. My adrenaline is jumping.

Where was hubby? He was sleeping, on the couch, because he was out playing pool and drinking with his buddies last night and I told him not to come to bed until the alcohol fumes subsided. So now he is the one snoring happily and I am thinking I should have had a few more hits off his beer bottle last night, maybe I would be sleeping too?

This was the first year that I didn't have to drag my sorry butt out of bed to go to church to hear my daughter sing at 9am
because she stuck up for all the moms when the choirmaster asked who was singing this week. She said "My mom wants to sleep in just once." I couldn't believe it.
I felt a little embarrassed that she put that right out there, but then I thought,
"So what, God knows it is true and frankly, if he had a mom, he would be changing the mass times himself."
Jesus would if he was in charge. The first year, when she was seven years old and singing, it was cute, I thought it was so precious to see her singing. But they DO sing every month, and to make a special early morning Mother's Day Service is not really thinking of moms at all. We are the one's who have to get them up and dressed and off to the church an hour BEFORE the service so they can practice. Do I sound selfish, maybe, but isn't this the one day I am supposed to be a bit selfish? YES!

Well, I am going to attempt to go back to sleep, but somehow, I don't think it is going to work... Maybe a nap later?

Happy Mother's Day to all you beautiful women. I hope you get some sleep.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Daughter's 8th Grade Cruise

We've Got Some Ballplayers Here

Last night I watched my beautiful daughter slide into muddy bases like she had been playing for the Yankees (Yeah, I 'm not sorry Phillies fans, this my blog and I am from Yankee Land, I get to say what I want here). It was pouring on and off during the whole softball game, but she was doing a little dance on the bases and playing her heart out. This is the girl who wouldn't leave the house last year unless her hair was straightened and her lip gloss was on. Two days ago my son was doing the same thing, in the midst of yet another downpour. It may be flooding on the ball-fields, but that is nothing compared the the flooding of my eyes as I watch them gain confidence and a sense of empowerment. In previous years they were cute in their uniforms, now they are impressive. They wear them to school on game days and stride through the hallways with their teams like young gods. I never played organized sports when I was a kid, and never felt that team spirit as I was growing up. It is so gratifying how different their childhoods are from mine. By the time I rowed crew in college I recognized that I did want to belong to something bigger than myself. I am so happy that my kids get to experience this joy. It makes washing out the muddy uniforms four times a week, vacuuming the ten pounds of sand out of the van, and scraping off the muddy cleats a bit easier to handle.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I don't want to be me

I have been pulling back all the linked in, myspace, name tags, profiles, and such, I think I am "oversaturated" by my online self. I am losing internet weight, might as well lose some weight somewhere. I have to think of a term for that. Send me your best ideas.


I was speaking with a friend about her being death-friendly, she doesn't have a death wish, is not suicidal, but feels that she has never found the reason for her life. She wonders why she was ever born, since she is usually unhappy. After years of listening to her moan about the state of her life, or un-life, I diagnosed her problem. She has no fear of death and she needs to take a year-long nap. The moments she remembers as being her happiest are hazy and seem untouchable. Do you have any death-friendly people in your life? Obviously depression is at the heart of her situation, but I am not skilled in dealing with depressed people. I can deal with difficult people, and not lose my temper, but gloomy people depress me. They bring me way down and I hate that feeling, so I tend to gravitate to high-energy people.

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blogging time

I was having a conversation last night with my friend about blogging. Obviously I haven't been writing much, I have been too busy to deconstruct things that are going on in my life in written form. She says I am busy living life instead of writing about it and she is right. I am lucky if I get to talk to my friends on the phone. Twitter is not as fun as it used to be, I have to drop a lot of people I am following because they are not talking about anything that interests me, but I don't have the time to go through and see who is saying what all the time. I have to be honest, I met a lot of great people through twitter, and now I read their blogs, but I do not have time to always check their tweets. Seems like writing for me is best done in the winter, it kept me from going into my yearly blahs. All spring, summer and fall, I am usually running my tuccous off. Did I spell that right? I don't know. So if I seem sporadic, I am. Sorry, there are a lot of drafts waiting to be finished, and I will get to them in time.

Frugal Upstate: Giveaway: GroGood Garden Pledge Starter Kit


Scotts GroGood Garden Kit Giveaway!


I found this fascinating quote today:

When the folks at Scott's Miracle Gro contacted me about the chance to test and give away a GroGood gardening kit I was excited, but cautious. You see I love to garden, and the idea of free gardening stuff for me to try out and free stuff to give away to all of you was very attractive.Frugal Upstate: Giveaway: GroGood Garden Pledge Starter Kit, May 2009

You should read the whole article.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Date Night

It seems that ever since the reality shows such as Hell's Kitchen and Tabitha's Salon Takeover have come out, I cannot eat or go to a hairdresser without being super-critical of the process. Every resturant I go to is now scrutinized on every level by my family and myself. I have found that this examination has even transformed the way I cook a meal, I am more aware of flavors and ingredients than ever before. I even changed hairdressers because I decided that I deserved better than the service I was getting at the local Haircuttery. It is worth that extra $7 to be treated well and to feel as if my business is appreciated.

Last Saturday was Date Night for my husband and I. It was funny because we spent a decent portion of the meal being amatuer resturant critics. As far as I am concerned, anyone can be a critic as long as they know what critiera they are looking for.

As we walked from the parking lot to Filomena's resturant in Berlin, the Saturday night DJ's music was blaring. We almost decided to leave at that point because no one enjoys loud music when they are trying to eat. Since it was already 9pm, we decided that it might be too late to get a table at other nearby resturants, so we proceeded into the establishment.

I always thought that the bar area at Filomena's  should be walled off from the resturant so the loud music doesn't penetrate into the dining area. The open kitchen already provides enough noise in there, and having all the music and shouting  from the bar is just too much. While there is a beautiful decorative wall, it is by means menas any kind of a sound barrier. Since they serve dinner until 11pm on Saturday's, I think they should either truly seperate the two areas or not blast the music until the diners are on their way out the door. There was the added annoyance of hearing two types of music at once, the dining room and the bar music were competing over our heads.

The resturant was freezing and I actually had to put my jacket on to eat. As this was the fourth time I had eaten there in ten years, I knew that it was always cold, so I was glad I brought my coat. We looked at the extensive wine list, which included five special choices that explained what kind of food they went with, the bouquet and other information about the selected wines. I ordered the house Pino Noir, but I would not recommend it. The waitress did not even know it was on the menu or what brand it was. That should have been my first clue. The Corona my husband ordered came with a nice frosty glass. The bread the server brought to the table consisted of 4 puffy sicilian- type squares that were topped with spices and sundried tomatoes. It was accompianied by seasoned olive oil and fresh roasted garlic cloves. I could have eaten it all night, thank God they didn't bring more.

The specials sounded delicious, but we ordered off of the menu. My husband decided to try to Risotto Pescatore and I chose the Veal Elaina. We decided to forgo appetizers since it was so late. When the waitress acknowewledged to my husband that the dinner included salad I almost asked for the dressing on the side. I didn't want to be a pain, so I kept mum. Big mistake. The salad was fresh and crunchy and literally drowning in a a very vinegary dressing. I couldn't eat more than one bite. My husband ate some of mine because he didn't want to offend the waitress, I think he is a way better person than I.
While we were waiting for our entree, the waiter who was handling another table took a cell phone call right on the floor in front of us. I did not know that dining manners had slipped so far that this was now acceptable. He proceeded to give out directions to his friend right there next to our table. After listening to him repeat himself three times, I just wanted to grab the stupid phone and tell his friend to clean the potatoes out of his ear.
The experience was bizarre. In fact, the servers seemed the think that it was acceptable to hang out near our table and chat since their computer was right there. It was quite distracting and took away from the beautiful atmosphere. When someone is paying $22 and up per entree, they do not expect to be treated as if they are sitting in a McDonalds. It would also have been nice to have been offered the fresh pepper instead of having to request it. The pepper mill was literally three feet away from our table.

Our entrees arrived and they were delicious. I tasted the risotto right away and found it very creamy and just the right texture. Unfortunately it had a strong shrimp taste since the resutrant had run out of scallops. Since the resturant was so cold, it only tasted good for the first five minutes, after that, it was too cold and started to get hard and congeal. The Veal Elaina was perfect, the cappelini was cooked just right, the crab was fresh, the sundried tomatoes were tender and the artichoke hearts were tasty and just the right consistancy. I heartily recommend this dish. You will love it.

For dessert we shared a creme brulee, this is one of the reasons we chose this resturant, it is their best dessert. I remember when we chose this restaurant for our 5th anniversary dinner and we asked for a Creme Brulee to go. The waiter had to give it to us in the decorative china cup so we could bring it to my baby-sitting sister. Yes, we did eventually return the cup, I think...the rest of the desserts lack imagination and are not worth the cost. I ordered a coffee and a shot of Bailey's Irish Creme. I was treated to a very generous helping of this liqueur in a nifty little glass and couldn't finish it. What a shame.

I never did check the restroom out, the restaurant was too cold to contemplate disrobing in any way.

Will I come back here to eat? Probably, since they are close by, but I will also be sending a "review" to them. I know this is the only way they will ever get better. I only hope that as I serve dinner to my family each night that they are not going to order me out of my own kitchen like Chef Ramsey. I could not hope to meet the standards I am setting for everyone else. But maybe these reality shows will raise everyone standards just a bit and make people proud of the cuisine they offer and the services they perform...
I apologize for spelling errors, I think I need glasses.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Summer Youth Theatre Workshops

Rosaria Mineo


HAMMONTON, New Jersey– See what’s going on this summer! Registration is going on now for two dynamic theater courses taught in our very own Eagle Theater! Children and teens ages 7-16 can join group sessions beginning June 29th through August 7th. These workshops will focus on fostering a lifelong sense of appreciation for the performing arts, as well as a practical education of the study and creation of theatre in a fun and exciting atmosphere.

“Intro to Theater” is a hands-on approach to theater for children ages 7-12. Directed by Rosaria Mineo, children will learn about teamwork, creativity, and the magic of theater through age-appropriate games, rehearsal and design. Runs June 29th-July 16th, Monday to Thursday. Choice of full-day or half-day schedule with a performance on Friday, July 17th. Max 30 students.

“Acting Workshop” is a study in improvisation, audition technique, scene and monologue work, and characterization. Directed by Richard Curcio, students will gain practical experience and knowledge they can use in high school, college, and beyond. For teens 13-16, this workshop will run July 20th to August 7th. Afternoons only, Monday-Friday, performance dates TBD. Max 20 students.

Co-Directors Rich Curcio and Rosaria Mineo bring practical performance and directing experience from the professional, collegiate, and community levels to their workshops.

Early applications are encouraged. Space is limited, and priority is given to early applicants. Course fee will apply to accepted students and will vary based on half or full day selection.

Volunteers are welcome to apply for positions as classroom aides! Applicants should have an interest in theater and be available for the length of the workshop.

For more information and a registration form, please contact:

Rosaria Mineo 609-970-4400

Friday, March 20, 2009

Signs my dog is going through Adolescence

Non-compliance, she won't get up in the morning, I have to carry her furry butt to the door while the other two dance round the door eagerly, waiting to go out.
When I call her in from the yard she pretends she doesn't know me (As if her friends coud see me and I am embarrassing her).
She gets more mail to the house than me.
She has a crush love/hate relationship with the mailman.
We are always out of panty liners.
She claims whatever spot I want to sit in and will sit there regardless of whether or not I am already sitting there.
I swear she is talking about me behind my back to the other two dogs.
She goes in my purse and steals gum.
She came back from the groomers looking totally different than we discussed.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why would you do that?

I do not understand people. They are their own worst enemies sometimes.

Yesterday, my sister came over to visit and I showed her the scarf I had made with her in mind. It was the one made out of Angora bunny wool, the one she informed she would be allergic to, after I was half done. The one that she wouldn't really like in Pink, because she doesn't like Pink clothes. Of course it was Pink, as soon as I saw the wool I thought of her, her name is Pinky- so Pink fit- right?

So she is over and asks to see ti anyway. Pinky grabs the scarf and feels it up, loves the softness and proceeds to wrap herself in it. Her whole face. I was shocked, and she did it before I could stop her.
See, I had had a little problem with the wool, it sheds like crazy due to some possible pre-knitting moth activity in the wool bag.
It took me weeks to make this scarf because it just kept shedding on me and then I would get all sneezy and my eyes would bother me. I may also be allergic to the bunnies, who knows? It's not like I am around them so I wouldn't know. My regular Angora and Alpaca scarves do not bother me at all.

When she wrapped herself in the scarf, my first thought was," Oh no! She is wearing black. Where is the lint roller? That is not coming off anytime soon." Of course she had trouble with it, she is truly allergic to bunnies. I just have nothing left to do but shake my head.

I tried the other angora wool and it didn't shed at all, so I will make a new soft scarf for myself. Guess it was the moths after all. Poor Pinky.

It's a Matter of Texture and Age

I have been trying to get my daughter to eat oatmeal for years, only to hear, "It gives me warm belly, I don't like warm belly. I'm not gonna eat it." She comes in last week with a Seventeen Magazine that has an article on how healthy oatmeal is for her. They dressed it up with bananas and nuts and drizzle of syrup. Is she eating it now? Faithfully! I guess I am just too old to know what is good for her. I have reached the point of no return and might as well juts keep my opinions to myself unless I can convince Seventeen Magazine to publish all the advice I want to give her.

And now for my brief review...

I bought the store-brand instead of Quaker oats this week, it was two dollars less expensive. There is a difference, the oats are all whole in the Quaker Container and there are many broken ones in the Shop-Rite brand. The broken ones add a paste-like consistency that is absent in the Quaker brand when you cook the oats. Oh, well, I tried to save money. I will switch back, the paste just doesn't thrill me, I will see if my daughter notices the different texture, under the honey and nuts and bananas... I bought Wheatina for myself; I needed a change of pace. put too much milk in it afterwards. Bummer. I had to chase the grains around in my mouth and I bit my tongue.
I also wasn't thinking about my coffee too hard this morning, I poured the hot water into the old coffee grinds in the press, don't know what I was doing at all, but that first sip woke me up, fast! Now I am gonna go brush my teeth, I am sure they are going to feel weird all day, what with old coffee grinds and little bits of wheat and bloody tongue. wonder what else awaits me today?

UPDATE: The store-brand talcum powder? DON'T DO IT! It is too thin and literally pours out all over the place. It is also slightly gritty.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Natasha Richardson

I am just so sad, I really like this actress, the first time I saw her work was back in the 80's when I saw a Handmaid's Tale. I just really liked her style. She depicted a character that I wanted to make friends with. I fell for her all over again in Nell; there she was, that actress I liked so much! When I saw her in the Parent trap, she was at her most charming. I do not know if it is the roles she has played that make her so likable, it's hard to tell when I have only seen a small percentage of her work. I hope that her family is able to cope during this awful time. I pray that she is able to recover and that the injuries are not as serious as they are being reported. Right now reports say that she is brain dead and being flown to New York. I cannot imagine it.

Update: Well it is over and we are all torn up about the loss of this beautiful woman. Apparently she has touched more of my friend's lives than I ever knew. One confessed that she actually felt like crying when she read the news. I don't blame her. It is a testament to her talent as an actor that she can make strangers weep.
We'll be waiting for the dimming of the broadway lights. Farewell Natasha...

Monday, March 16, 2009

google video uploader discontinued

I am so bummed. I knew just what to do, we could play the videos in school because Youtube is always blocked and google video wasn't. What a blow.

High-Quality Teenager for Rent

We were talking about how one of my daughter's former softball teammates has changed since last year. "She was always smiling and friendly, now she is different" my daughter complained.

I asked my daughter if the teammate was becoming moody. After a positive response I said, " I guess she is growing up and becoming a teenager, they all get a little moody."

My daughter looked at me almost like she was a bit hurt that I was making generalizations about teenagers. "We like you," I reassured her, "You are great!"

My son chimed in with, "Yeah, we like you, you are a high-quality teenager."

If the economy gets much worse I may have to rent out my high-quality teen to those parents stuck with the moody adolescents.
How much should I charge per day?

Update ( One month later): Daughter's science teacher informed us our "High Quality Teenager" is a bit moody. Should I try to get my money back?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Knitted Beanie

My first Beanie, made with that wonderful yarn, now I have to make one for my son, have to pick up some manly wool.
It only takes a few hours to do, I have to try one with ribbing at the bottom next. I keep losing count, and haven't mastered switching back and forth from knitting to pearling. The working yarn confuses me, where does it go, does it stay in the back or do I keep it in front? do I switch it back and forth? Help!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Another CandyPunk project

What do you do with the remains of the yarn after making a project? Make belts for your kids. I love this yarn and how it changes color, it has nice workability and a good feel, not bad for Walmart heart brand.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Latest Project from CandyPunk

This is our latest accessory, designed by my daughter and made by me. It is crocheted and I felted it just a bit with the iron to keep the flowers hanging on opposite sides of the cascade. The closeup picture would be clearer if I hadn't felted it. I made with fabulous homespun wool from our woolspinner friend in Waterford, Marlene Cicalese. Here is her website.


What do you have when your husband cleans off your whole car except the top after a snowstorm? An embarrassing Snowhawk.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Coupon Conundrum

On my way to being thrifty and frugal I decided to give coupons a bit of attention. My sister-in-law handed me a bunch she wasn't using, so I figured "Hey, why not? The worst that could happen is that I save some money right?" WRONG! First, the best coupons are not on the internet, you have to buy a paper for $1.50. There is only one paper in my area with decent coupons for brands I may actually buy. I do not intend to change the brands I use, I am happy with my choices based on quality already. Every time I try something new, my husband or kids will say something like, "What is wrong with this tuna? It is different." I respond with something like "Well, I know we usually buy the canned variety, but the package was on sale, I had a coupon, and it was double-coupon day at Shop-rite. It only cost me like a quarter a package."
"Well, can we just stick to the one we like?" was the response from He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.
"Sure, I just thought we were trying to save money, it is the same brand, I know the texture is a bit different, but is the taste off or something?" I tried, I really tried.
"No, It tastes okay, we just like it the other way more."

What am I supposed to do with that? I was inspired by the family that is trying to live on $1500.00 for the year in groceries and personal items. I really wanted to give this coupon deal a try.

It gets worse. I had a whole group of coupons for a $1 off of items I usually buy. Since it was double-coupon day, I thought I was going to clean up. I had spent the week preparing my list and knew exactly how much money I was going to save on sale items combined with coupons. The coupons were a $1 off, if I bought 2 loaves of raisin bread, two of this two of that, and three of the other. Guess what? Shop-Rite does not double coupons over 99 cents. I had to return everything, because I would normally never buy two loaves of raisin bread at the same time, they are way too expensive. It was embarrassing being at the register and not realizing the savings I had planned for, then I had to wait on line for the customer service and return everything.
Coupons are just not worth all that time planning. I will carry them around and see if they work out for me, but it is not going to be a way of life in my house. I need to spend the whole day just to make it all work out. I buy a few of whatever is on sale each week and record the prices in my price book. That will have to do for now.

The internet coupons cost too much in ink to print out so I will have to print them out at the library. Superfresh does not take internet coupons, but Shop-Rite does.
If anyone has a real plan for using coupons that won't take up all my spare time, bring it on!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

What is going on at our McDonalds?

Yesterday, we were approached by a a panhandler as we drove into McDonalds in our town. We were just there for a quick snack wrap for my daughter and a man came right up to the window asking for 65 cents. "I need 65 cents to get the bus to Lindenwold, it's not for beer, man." he assured us. The man looked no better than the bums I had given change to for years in New York City. I didn't care if they used it for beer, I figure if one had to go around asking for change, they maybe needed a beer and who was I to judge?
It was scary with our kids in the car though, it is amazing how the things that never phased us when we were young and unencumbered, take on a whole different significance once we become parents. Every stranger is a potential freak and it is harder to be friendly when worrying that they might pull a gun or knife out of their pockets. We gave him the change, laughed at the way he asked for it, because he must have asked for change for beer enough times to figure that is what everyone would think. I mean here he was explaining himself to complete strangers, as if EVERYONE knew he was a boozer and wouldn't believe him. But the whole experience rattled us because we are not used to strangers coming up to our car windows.

This was not our only bad McDonalds experience, two weeks ago, a kid was riding a huge bicycle around and around the store, in and out of the traffic pattern that goes through the drive-thru and parking lot. The bike was way too big and the wider front tire wobbled. This 11 year-old was going so fast people were beeping at him as they were trying to back out of their spots. I got out of the truck and stood in front of him and told him that he was doing a very dangerous thing. I mean it was scary, so scary that I couldn't just tune it out and get on with my life. I felt that if I drove away and did nothing and that kid died, I was gonna rot in you know where. The kid looked at me like I was crazy when I asked him to stop. He just continued doing the same thing and he almost got crushed right in front of my eyes by another customer coming around the corner. I started yelling then and a worker came outside to see what was up. He told the boy to stop it and I asked where his parents were. The kid just stomped away and went inside and sat with bunch of teenagers> I suspect they were the owners of the tricked-out bike. He glared at me as our truck pulled around to the order window. I knew that little &^%$ was going to get right back on the bike when we left, so I asked for a manager and explained the situation and offered to call the police. They said they would handle it and we got our food and left.
My daughter said he was a trouble-maker in school and was always causing a disturbance. I argued that it didn't matter, he still needed protecting, since no one was doing it for him. That kid who hated me for saving his neck, was giving us tough chin-ups and go (*&^ yourself movements with his hands as we drove away.
I may have just done the world a serious disservice by keeping him from getting killed, but at least some innocent driver won't have to blame themselves for running over a child. We had a friend who ran over a little kid who rode his big wheel right out of the driveway into oncoming traffic. She was treated very harshly by some other people I know. I knew how torn up she was about it, but it was not her fault, sometimes accidents just happen.

That kid at McDonalds is wrong, his family is wrong for letting him be unsupervised, his big brother is wrong for loaning him a bike to ride around a busy parking lot, and I think I am going back to Wendy's for a while. Sorry McDonalds, love the fries, but it is too scary around there right now.


Same panhandler started panning for gold at our family business and we had to call in the authorities. I mean really, we have available jobs listed, ask for a job for goodness sakes...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Pancetta Pasta

My daughter and I made this the other night for dinner. It is a an amalgam of two other recipes. Since she is building up her own recipe book of dishes she can herself make while at college ( in 4 years) she asked me to put it in a safe place. We decided that the next time we make it, we may use fresh Roma tomatoes from the garden to achieve a lighter, summery balance. SInce it is February, we didn't have that option, so canned was the plan.
She is so used to traditional family pasta dishes that we make over and over, so we are exploring other pasta options.
This is delicious

1/2 pound Panchetta cut into small thick strips
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 (14.5 ounce) cans whole tomatoes
1 1/2 pounds linguine pasta, uncooked
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Grated Parmesan or Romano cheese to taste

Cook Pancetta in a large saucepan over medium high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Leave drippings in the pan, cook until translucent. Stir in garlic and red pepper flakes and 1/2 the basil; cook 30 seconds. Add canned tomatoes, undrained; simmer 15 minutes, breaking up tomatoes.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large pot of 4 quarts boiling salted water until al dente. Drain.
Stir rest of basil into the sauce, and then toss with cooked pasta. Serve with grated cheese.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Free Speech Anyone?

Lawmaker Presses for Free Speech in Foul-Mouth Student's Blog Case
At what age should students receive their inalienable rights? Should first graders have the right to Free Assembly, should 8th graders? What IS the age of reason? It is no surprise that a bill of this magnitude originates in Massachusetts, after all it has been the nursery or playpen for freedom since America began, but I hope the lawmakers are cautious and think farther than our founding fathers did. Imagine students saying anything they want about teachers, principals and school board members. Imagine the ramifications on people's careers. If I recall, my own teenage perceptions had very little to do with reality. My take on adults then makes me look back and chuckle now. I thought everyone who pushed me to do better was out to get me. If I could have said anything I wanted and disseminated it to the internet at that time, I could have damaged people's lives with my inane chattering. After al I was SURE that my gym teacher was flirting with the young girl students, but if I went online on a SCHOOL COMPUTER and said what I really thought at the time, I could have ruined him without having any real knowledge or proof. I think if we are going to allow students to blog or myspace anything they want, they should have to deal with the consequences as adults do. Either teachers should be able to say anything they want about the students, or we should be able to file harassment or slander lawsuits against said students. As teachers we are charged to keep confidential their records, personal information, grades, and their discipline issues. Who will protect the adults that work with students? It should be each district's decision to decide how to deal with these issues. We have been ordered to teach curriculum that deals with cyberbullying, are we going to allow it from our youngest citizens? The best/nicest/most decent teachers, principals, and administrators cannot have perfect averages when it comes to students; we will always piss someone off eventually. Are we going to allow students to ruin their own online reputations by putting themselves at risk of lawsuits? There are a lot of good questions that need to be asked and answered before legislation is enacted.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Someday is Here

I am not getting old, I am not pregnant, I am not even planning on moving to a commune. I simply wanted to learn how to knit. It is one of those things I always wanted to learn and told myself I would do someday. Along with a prolonged trip to Europe, and a tour of the Hoover Dam, mastering those needles has always seemed so far away and unreachable. My new year's resolution for 2009 was to knit something, anything.

Someday is here. It has been a week and a half since I learned the most basic knitting stitch, I have made a scarf and two headbands for my daughter. They are not horrible and she is totally excited to wear them and has started to make suggestions and requests for certain design features. I am already a yarn snob. Halfway through the first project, I decided that the yarn I was using was not soft enough for my daughter's delicate skin. I was twittering asking everyone the best method for getting that cheap practice yarn soft. I was also looking on Etsy to see what kind of knitting projects everyone was selling. After looking in my local area, I found a lady of interest. I can't wait until next week's knitting meeting to hook up with her, she spins her own yarn from her angora bunnies. I have a friend who spins her own yarn and makes amazing felted projects, but she is away right now and according to her kids, may be on a semi-menopausal tear halfway across the country.

I am excited to create accessories for my daughter to wear, I do not think of blankets as possible projects. I think little short-term projects will satisfy my impatient nature best. I really cannot see myself sticking to one large project like that for months unless it is a quilt. That will be the next resolution... Maybe a mid-year resolution.

In case you were wondering how awful my first project was, here is a sample.
That was the first day I ever knitted.

Sad Sad Day

Yesterday I was faced with a moral dilemma. I had to snub an old friend in order to not want to beat myself up. It is all very well and nice to say forgive and forget, and to not judge anyone too harshly, but I cannot just sit and play all nice-nice and pretend that everything is okay either. I need time, lots of it, and plenty of space.

We were never extremely close, I never shared any secrets with her, we were just on normal friendly terms.
But in order to make herself feel better, she shared awful secrets with me. I told her I didn't want to know, she ignored me. After she unleashed her poisonous mess all over my kitchen table, I told her I never wanted to discuss that topic again. I told her to leave me out of it and that it wasn't appropriate for her to tell ME secrets she had not shared with her own husband. Unfortunately, she got herself in a big mess with another acquaintance of mine. Now I don't want to take sides or hear bad things about my friends. I don't want to believe that they could hurt each other in irrevocable ways. I have not talked to her since and don't plan to, even though I told her I would not judge her. I am no angel, but I am not going to go ask my friends for validation of my evil-doings. My messes are my own.

I thought it was presumptuous of her to want to sit next to me. I have not spoken to her since that day. I have bounced back email messages as if I had changed my email address instead of just blocking her. I have not called or contacted her in any way. Isn't that enough of a hint? I am not trying to teach her a lesson or point out her wrongdoing, It is not my place or my fight, but I can't just pretend that everything is okay either, and I cannot sit next to her and make idle chit-chat.

She already had a seat and so did I. When she got up and came down through the auditorium rows to sit next to me, I panicked. My heart started racing, I knew that I was going to be unable to be who I had always been with her. I was completely unprepared. As she approached, I cut off my conversation with another mom, grabbed my cell phone and acted like it had rung. As I ran past her I gave a brief wave as if to say that I had an urgent call. I raced up the aisle and out of the school. I never returned to that seat where she was sitting waiting for me. Instead I ran out into the arms of another friend that I was supposed to meet at the event. I feel awful about the snub, because my behavior was not anything to be proud of. It was very high-school and juvenile. My hands were shaking during the entire event, and I was willing her not to turn around and look for me. I kept my program up in front of my face.

I was embarrassed at myself for not telling her the truth. "I don't want to be around you right now, it is too hard, I cannot hurt someone else's feelings to spare yours. I never wanted to know your secret, I wish it was all a bad dream, I wish you would go away now and leave me alone." I wish you could leave the whole mess in peace."
I wish I could just email this and get it out of the way...

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