If We Were Having Coffee…3/11/17

If we were having coffee…I would (quickly) welcome you in and slam the door right behind you. There is a fridge wind fighting to get in this morning and I am determined to keep him at bay. I feel as if the March Lion is doing battle with the March Lamb. We are expecting a snow storm on Tuesday here in southern New Jersey so I guess the Lion still has control at least till then. Personally, I’m more than ready for Spring!

Nevermind the weather. Come in. Sit down. I have coffee or tea or hot chocolate ready to warm your bones. You might notice that I am using my very cool  Friends “CENTRAL PERK” mug that Miss Dee gave me for my birthday this past December. As you can see, it’s very large so I only use it on the weekends when I have unlimited coffee time. There are lots of other cool mugs for you to choose from; two Marvel Avengers , a Hershey Park (the sweetest place on Earth), another from Disney World, or Miss Dee has a mug from her graduation that says “THE TASSEL WAS WORTH THE HASSEL.” I’m sure she wouldn’t mind sharing. Which ever you chose, I promise to fill it with something strong and hot!

If we were having coffee…I would start off by asking you how you’ve been. It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to join the Coffee Share (in fact, it’s been so long that I didn’t realize that it changed hosts!) so I’m afraid I’m a bit behind. Is everything well in your world? Everyone healthy? Have you seen any good movies or read any good books?

Things around here have been chugging along. Nothing too extraordinary is happening. We are a bit excited because my niece, Anna, and D-Man’s stepsister, Regan, are both about to have babies so of course we are awaiting news on that. This is the second baby for Anna. Anyone who has been following this blog for a while might remember the shower Miss Dee and I threw for her when her first (Squish) was born two years ago. She and her guy will be welcoming another little boy to their family. We can’t wait to meet him.

Hubby’s step sister, Regan, is also having a little boy. This is the first for her and her husband. They live a few hours away, up in Hoboken so we don’t get to see them too often. Miss Dee and I attended her baby shower just last week over at my in-laws house. Personally, I find showers, as a whole, a bit of a snooze to attend and, (speaking as an introvert), terrifying  to be the subject of, but it’s always nice to wish the soon-to-be parents well and see all the cute things they receive. We a gave a gift card and books, of course. I make it my mission to start every child’s library with a few good stories.😊

In other news, Mr D and three of his friends are driving to Florida for their spring break next week. It’s a thirteen hour drive to where they are going in Daytona Beach and as a mom, I’ll admit, I’m a bit freaked out but they are a pretty responsible group of young men and they’ve planned it out well. The other moms and I have put together a “survival kit” containing snacks and sunblock and of course we will be expecting regular texts and calls while they are gone. If I was 21 again, I would see this as a great adventure too so I can’t fault them for wanting to go. Doesn’t mean I won’t worry though.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that my friend Urszula and I went  out last night to see the movie Lion and I must say, if you haven’t already seen it, I highly recommend a viewing. It was written by a man named Saroo Brierley and telle his life story. Brierley was born into a loving but poor family in India but was adopted by an Australian couple after he got lost as a child and ended up homeless on the streets of Calcutta. Twenty-five years later, he went back to India to try and find his family. Dev Patel plays the character, Saroo, as an adult and an amazing young man named Sunny plays the child Saroo. It was one of the best films I’ve seen in a while.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that I certainly have enjoyed our drinks and conversation! I would also remind you to visit Nerd in the Brain so that you can enjoy the rest of the Coffee Share Posts. May the rest of your weekend be super-fantastic!  I hope you are able to surround yourself with the people and things you love the most.

The Weekly Smile…Some Creative Fun

This week I had a blast getting creative!

A friend asked if I would make some decorative alphabet letters for her son, who will be turning three next week and loves Disney. She purchased the 9 inch wooden letters that spelled out his name and gave me a list of his seven favorite Disney characters. I knew most of them but, I admit, I had to look up one or two. Hey, my kids are in college! I’ve been out of the Disney loop for a while! 😊

Just for fun, let’s see if you all can guess the character each letter was based on.

[Updated 2/22/17…Each letter is now pictured next to the Disney character who inspired it.]

Jake from "The Neverland Pirates"

Jake from “The Neverland Pirates”

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Mater from “Cars”

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Dory from “Finding Nemo”

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Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story”

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Sulley from “Monsters Inc.”

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Mickey of course!

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Tigger from “Winnie the Pooh”

And the finished product:

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Ta-da! I found painting the letters to be very relaxing, kind of like coloring. I highly recommend it to anyone who just wants to do something fun and creative.

The Weekly Smile is brought to you by Trent’s World. Stop by and check out the rest of the smiles or, better yet, leave one of your own.😊

If We Were Having Coffee…1/8/17

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If we were having coffee…I would thank you for slogging through the snow in order to come visit me today! I’d usher you in and help you off with your boots and mittens and immediately thrust a mug of something hot into your fridgid paws. You would have noticed already that here in southern New Jersey we have collected three or four inches of snow and that the tempeture outside is hovering around freezing.  Brrrr! Let’s just stay indoors with our coffee (or tea or hot chocolate) and a selection of fresh baked cookies (courtesy of my hubby) and have a nice long chat.

If we were having coffee…I would ask you how your week has been? What is the weather like at your home. I have a retired colleague who is spending this week in Jamacia. She keeps posting photos of her and her husband on the beach or at the beachside bar. Meanwhile I’m looking out my window at squirrels digging through the snow for food! I may have to block her posts till spring. 😊

You would probably guess that I’m not much of a cold weather person. I tend to hibernate, curling up with a book or my iPad and ignoring the outside world (and anything productive I might be doing). Yesterday I did manage to take down all my Christmas decorations. I felt the pressure to get it done while Miss Dee was at work because she doesn’t take the whole “undecorating” thing very well. The idea of Christmas being over tends to make her wimper a bit and immediately go into denial, so my mother-in-law (who is now getting around quite well with her walker and expects the doctor to give her the all clear to move to a cane tomorrow) packed it all up and put it away while she was gone. Everything but the tree. I’m not ready to give that up quite yet. It is still looking pretty and fresh and losing hardly any needles so I’m keeping it till next weekend. Besides, look how pretty it looked next to the backdrop of snow yesterday…

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If we were having coffee…I would tell you that we had a bit of a scare last night. Mr D called to tell us that on his way home, his car had been side swiped by a hit and run driver who had been swerving all over the road! Thank goodness he and his passengers were unhurt and that the car has only minor damage. He was able to pull in to a parking lot and call the police. A witness in a pick up truck was clever enough to follow the other car home and came back while Mr D was talking with the police to tell them right where they could find him. As it turned out, the other driver had been drinking! Could we BE anymore stupid?! “Hey, let’s have a few drinks then go drive on the snow covered roads!!!” That other young man better hope he and I never meet or he is going to get a very large and angry piece of my mind.  It is  certainly unnerving to be reminded how vulnerable our children are when they are out in the world.

If we were having coffee…we would probably notice the sound of the snowblower down the street and realize that other people (including my husband who ducked out a few minutes ago), have gotten on with their Sunday while we’ve been chatting. I suppose I should as well so, although I hate to hurry you out, I must wash the mugs and get myself moving. Thanks so much for coming by if you are still in the mood to chat there are lots of other wonderful folks sharing coffee and conversation. Stop by and visit.

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted each week by the lovely Diana at Partime Monster.

G.S.S.T.A.- The State Where We Live.

The second marking period of fourth grade social studies is dedicated to learning about our home state of New Jersey. The first task our students had was to complete an informational packet. This included things like the State capital, the governor, the land masses and economy. I’m always surprised at how little some of the children seem to know about the place where they live but then I guess that’s the point in studying it!

After they slogged through the tediousness of the packet, the teacher offered them a more enjoyable project.  Each student was to research some fun facts or trivia regarding our fine Garden State and put together a power point presentation to share with the class. They really rose to the challenge and came up with all kinds of interesting (and sometimes weird) tidbits. A few were even new to me! Here are some of the highlights.

  • New Jersey was home to the first known competitive baseball game played at Elysian Fields in Hoboken on June 19, 1846. (The New York Base Ball Club defeated the Knickerbockers 23-1.)
  • Our coast is home to the longest Boardwalk (Atlantic City) the first sea shore resort town (Cape May) and the world’s largest elephant, Lucy in Margate (You know how I feel about Her!)   

  • We have more diners than any other state and are often refered to as the “Diner Capital of the World!” (Apparently, we also have the most shopping malls!)
  • New Jersey has a Spoon Museum, (over 5400) It is housed in the Lambert Castle Museum, in Paterson. (Who knew, right? 😳)
  • The first ever drive in movie theater opened in Camden Nj on June 6, 1933 (wonder what was playing?)

  • The light bulb, the phonograph and the telephone all had their start in New Jersey thanks to Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell. (And the first motion picture projector too)
  • Modern paleontology began in 1858 with the discovery of the first nearly complete skeleton of a dinosaur (the Hadrosaursus) in Haddonfield NJ.

I can’t swear to the authenticity of all of these claims but as a New Jersey native, I’m pretty sure we have bragging rights to most of them (especially the weirder ones!) I’m also pretty sure that long after our fourth graders have forgotten the major economic sources in the State, they’ll still remember that we gave the world Salt Water Taffy and the Hersey Kiss.

How about your State, or Province, or Village? Do you have some fun facts you can you brag about?

http://www.njeha.org/njfacts.html

http://www.50states.com/facts/new-jersey.htm

If We Were Having Coffee…Remembering 2016

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Good morning! Welcome!

If we were having coffee…I would fill your cup and offer you an Entenmanns donut (one of our regional bakeries). We have the kind with the cinnamon crumble on top. We also have lots of left over Christmas cookies if you prefer. According to an Internet meme, “If you eat it in the morning with coffee then it’s breakfast.” That certainly works for me!

Before you arrived, I was sitting her contemplating the fact that this is the last Coffee Share and, indeed, the last morning of the year. Where oh where did 2016 go!? When my children were younger I kept a yearly Christmas book in which I pasted a family photo, a copy of the Christmas card we sent out, and then wrote in some of the highlights of the past year. When we unpacked the book a few weeks ago, Miss Dee was going through reading aloud each year’s events. It was fun to remember all the details of what went on. Somewhere around 2006, I dropped the ball and stopped filling out the pages. I wish I hadn’t because then maybe it would be easier to recall exactly how we spent our days in 2016! Mostly, it’s a blur.

Of course I recall the big events like Miss Dee’s high school graduation, Mr D turning 21, and the birth of two different nephew’s baby girls, but the little things have slipped away. I suppose I was busy, mostly, with the business of living, everyday things like laundry and paying bills and such.  I’m sure there were trials and problems to work out and days I just wanted to get through. But, there were also many, many days shared with loved ones, cheering on my kids, snuggling with my husband, days filled with excitement, anticipation and lots and lots of laughter.

That sounds just fine.

For 2017, I think I’ll just wish for more of the same.

Let me leave you with this thought though, a little mantra I posted on Christmas Eve last year. It’s a good way to start the day.  I think this year we might need it even more.

🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

Today I will be kind.

I will not judge,

or assume.

I will help when I can,

and learn from my mistakes.

I will appreciate the uniqueness of those around me,

and try each day to leave the world a little better than it was the day before.

🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉🎉

Happy New Year and thanks for stopping by.

The Weekly Coffee Share is brought to you courtesy of Diana at Part Time Monster. Click here for more coffee shares.

If We Were Having Coffee….12/24/16

imageIf we were having coffee…I would welcome you to the “calm before the storm.” It is a rainy Christmas Eve morning here in southern New Jersey. The rest of the family is still asnooze, as I sit with my cup of piping hot French roast, contemplating today’s “to-do” list.

Tonight we will visit with my husband’s father’s family, catching up with cousins we see only once a year, and tomorrow our immediate families will gather here for Christmas dinner. We usually toggle between 14 and 25 guest. This year we are 22, missing a niece and her group who are promised to his family this year, and a nephew whose new job is keeping him on the west coast. No matter what the group, though, it is always noisey and chaotic and totally wonderful!

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So, if we were having coffee today…I would wish you all your own special brand of holiday crazy wherever you are,  no matter what you celebrate this time of year. Please stop by for coffee next weekend when peace and quiet will once again be the norm around here. We can have a proper chat then. For now I need to run. so much to do! For now, I hope all is well with you and yours. Don’t forget to visit Diana at Part Time Monster for the rest of the Coffee Share Posts.

A Christmas Memory #3….The Tree

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I’ve been told, by my older siblings that when they were little, they would head to bed on Christmas Eve with a bare tree standing on a bare platform in the living room awaiting Santa’s touch. As they slept, he not only delivered the presents but also put all the lights and ornaments on the tree and set up the houses and trains below so that when they emerged groggy eyed on Christmas morning they would get the full effect. I can see where this would be an exciting and magical for a child to start their Christmas Day, however…

I’ve (also) been told, by my mom and dad that when my sibling were little there were many Christmas Eve’s when they never actually made it bed! My dad usually tackled the platform and any gifts that needed to be assembled while mom did the tree. If they were lucky, neighbors or family would stop by to help but most times they were busy at home with the same task. From what I’ve heard, there was a fair amount of treats and “good cheer” flowing as well. I suppose they did need something to keep them motivated.

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By the time I came along (12 years after my oldest sister) my parents had pretty much burned themselves out on that whole “putting the tree up on Christmas Eve” nonsense and, since my birthday was just a few days before Christmas, we began a new tradition of having the tree up in time for that. I always felt like the tree was part of my birthday celebration. It is still my favorite part of the holiday season.

When I was around 12 or 13, it became my job to go with my dad to pick out our tree. I think my mom had run out of patience years earlier and was eager to step aside. Usually we started at the closest lot, sized up a dozen or so newly cut trees, testing branch strength and freshness, making sure the trunk was straight and not too wide for the stand. Dad would haggle a bit with the tree guy and then decide none of the trees at that lot was good enough. We then performed the same routine at  a half a dozen other tree lots, testing and haggling. Inevitably, we’d end up back at the very first lot with the very first tree we had sized up back at the beginning!

This weekend, D-man and I ventured out to the tree farm where our son has been working for the last few holiday seasons, to pick out our tree. We don’t do artificial trees. Never. Nor do my sisters. That’s just the way it is. We have two small artificial trees elsewhere in the house but the main tree has to be real. To me, each Christmas tree is unique and has its own personality. I don’t want it to be perfect and I certainly don’t want it to be just the same as last year’s. Where’s the fun in that.

I know that artificial trees have all kinds of advantages. Believe me, I think about that when I’m still discovering pine needles in February. Certainly, they’re more convenient and the branches are all strong and even. The symmetry certainly appeals to my perfectionist tendency but the fact is that nothing brings back Christmas memories for me faster than the smell of a live tree. All I need to do is open my bedroom door each morning and let that scent wash over me. Suddenly I’m a kid again back at that Christmas tree lot, rating trees with my dad, strapping it to the roof of our Ford with much more rope than was probably necessary, and singing Christmas caroles all the way home at the top of my lungs. In short, Christmas is once again filled with magic.

 

A Christmas Memory #2….Church Bazaars

My mom's Bazaar bought snow couple

My mom’s Bazaar bought snow couple

 

Growing up we never belonged to any particular church or religion but most Easters and Christmas Eves we did attended services at the Baptist Church down the street. I suspect we went there just because it was the closest. I also attended Vacation Bible School there during the summer. However, there was one thing we couldn’t get from the Baptists. If we wanted nifty home made holiday items at dirt cheap prices, we had to walk a few more blocks to the Catholic Church.

These bazaars (defined in the Free Online Dictionary as:  A fair or sale at which miscellaneous articles are sold, often for charitable purposes.) would happen in early December and I looked forward to them every year, celebrating it as the official start of the holiday season. The bazaar was held in the gymnasium of the Catholic school attached to the church. There were rows and rows of long wooden tables piled high with bright colored items for sale. Mom would give me some cash and I would roam around, Christmas music playing overhead, and pick out small items to give her, my dad and my grandparents. She also gave me enough to purchase something for myself as well.

Pretty knit pot holders never meant to actually use!

Pretty knit pot holders never meant to actually use!

My grandmother received several knitted pot holders courtesy of the Church bazaar. Dad might get a wallet stitched together with leather strings and grandpa, a handmade pouch for his pipe tobacco. For my mom, I would buy decorative Christmas items or maybe an apron.

A Christmas trinket box purchased for my mother

For myself, I poured through the many hand sewed Barbie Doll clothes. The attention to detail always amazed me. How could someone make such perfect little coats and skirts in so many different patterns and styles!? They were the best made Barbie clothes I had, some handed down from my older sisters who had attended the Church Bazaar long before I was old enough to walk.

A few of the surviving doll clothes.

A few of the surviving doll clothes.

As you can see, several of these memory filled items still celebrate Christmas with us. Most started out as gifts to my mother then handed down to me. Even a few of the Barbie clothes have survived. I can’t help but wonder what those nice Catholic women who spent so many hours creating these item would think about that?

Okay, your turn. Have you ever been to or made items for a bazaar (church, school, or otherwise)? If you have, what kind of treasures did you bring home?

A Christmas Memory #1…Holiday Goodies

Last year in honor of my favorite season I embarked on a daily Christmas Postathon. It was a great way to maintain my holiday spirit but to be honest, the pace nearly did me in! So this year I’m going for a looser, more laid back version.  Periodically I will pull out a Christmas memory or favorite to share. Feel free to join the party! I would love to reminisce with all my friends.

Today’s topic is…

Favorite holiday treats

As we slouched around the remnants of our Thanksgiving dinner this year, the conversation turned to all the special treats that made our childhood holiday seasons so memorable. Goodies like Christmas cookies and egg nog jump to most everyone’s mind but each of us had our own personal treats, those things that brought back that rush of Christmas feelings from our childhood.

imageMy sister and I compared notes and decided that we always felt Christmas was upon us when the bowl of mixed nuts appeared. They occupied a special cut glass bowl my mom saved for such delicacies with silver nut crackers tucked in beside them. We knew we couldn’t eat them all at once because they were an extravagance and had to last till Christmas Day. Back then I preferred walnuts and loved cracking them open and then digging around with the little silver pick trying to get every last piece from the broken shell. Today I’d happily dig into the almonds, filberts and pecans as well.

imageMom also splurged on a big box of Whitman chocolates each season. The box she purchased was called the “sampler” because it contained an assortment of every sort of filled chocolates they made. My favorites were the caramels. In fact, they still are. After we were grown and out on our own, mom still gave my sisters and I a Whitman Sampler each Christmas. I usually had to stash it away somewhere safe or it would be empty in no time.

imageAnother special Christams treat I remember from my grandmother’s house were ribbon candies and chocolate filled straws. She was very fond of hard candies  and usually had some type around her house but those two were reserved just for the holidays. To be honest, I only sucked on them for a minute or two before I spit them out to try another flavor! I wonder if my grandmother ever noticed all those half eaten candies in her trash? She always offered me more so I guess she didn’t mind!

imageNow it’s your turn. What are the special treats you remember from your childhood Christmases? I’m sure the there are local and regional goodies that are unique to certain areas. So many confections, flavors and tastes but the feelings of joy and warm memories they bring are the same no matter where or when you grew up.

If We Were Having Coffee…11/26/16

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If we were having coffee…I would start off by saying how much I have missed our chats! It has been a crazy couple of weeks around here and my posting and reading times have been limited. I hope that all is well in your part of the world and that my fellow Americans enjoyed their Thanksgiving celebrations on Thursday. We had a wonderful dinner with family and all ate way too much turkey and pie! There is much to be thankful for around here. This morning,  I am thankful that I can finally sit for a few minutes and enjoy a warm beverage and a friendly visit.

If we were having coffee…I would start off by introducing you to my mother-in-law, the amazing MJ. She’s bunking with us temporarily after a losing battle with a boxed Christmas tree in her basement resulted in a broken hip. Long story. As a result,  our list of “things to be thankful for” now includes the doctors who skillfully added three screws to her bone to help it heal, the talented therapist who aided her at rehab, helping her regain her strength, and the fact that we have an extra room where she can continue to heal, exercise and get back to her former energetic self. Mostly, though we are thankful that the injury wasn’t much, much worse and that her overall good health has enabled her to bounce back quicker than the doctors anticipated.

Miss Dee and MJ enjoying Thanksgiving.

Miss Dee and MJ enjoying Thanksgiving.

If we were having coffee…I would share that our sweet Jack has recently developed feline diabetes. He had been sleeping a lot and drinking a lot of water over the past few weeks. It turns out he’d been losing a bit of weight as well. He is a big cat (17lbs) so at first the weight loss wasn’t noticeable, but I was sure there something was up so off to the vet we went. Now the D-man and I are learning all about giving minuscule insulin shots with a teeny-tiny little syringe. Jack has been very cooperative and since we started the shots a few days ago he has been more active and vocal so we’re feeling quite optimistic. We also discovered that an added bonus to having MJ here is that, because she is an insulin dependent diabetic herself, she has been able togive us lots of helpful tips.

Our handsome Jack.

Our handsome Jack.

If we were having coffee…I might remind you that this was the final work week for the fourth grade teacher that I’ve been helping this year. She is anxious to welcome her new baby hopefully in the next week or so.  Her replacement, a nice young woman transferred over from the middle school, came in all last week to get acquainted with the students and familiarize herself with the classroom.  It will be an adjustment for all of us and I’m hoping that certain students don’t try to take advantage of the new teacher. Wish us luck.😊

If we were having coffee… I would share that a few Thursday’s ago we had the 100 year old oak tree removed from our back yard. It was an all day project involving a truck with a cherry picker parked on our lawn, a noisy wood chipper parked in our drive, branches swinging from roaps and a group of hardworking guys wielding chainsaws. Needless to say, it was a very crazy day. Personally, I think the guy in the cherry picker, swinging  the chainsaw around was a little nuts but maybe that’s what it takes to do that job!

My sad, bare backyard. ☹️

My sad, bare backyard. ☹️

I guess that covers the highlights of my last few weeks, so if we were having coffee I would turn the floor over to you. What have you been up to?

The Weekend Coffee Share I’d brought to you each week courtesy of Diana at Part Time Monster. Be sure to stop by  and check out the rest of the posts.