Category Archives: Home & Family

If We Were Having Coffee…Baseball and Country Line Dancing

Hello! Hello! I’m so glad you stopped by!

If we were having coffee on this lovely summer afternoon, I would probably offer you lemonade or mango juice as a substitute for hot coffee. I tend to drink a cup every afternoon no matter what the temperature but I know that’s not for everyone. We also have some leftover brownies that the D-man made for a party we had this week. Help yourself. They have chocolate chip cookies in the center, one of my hubbies many brownie variations. I’m pretty sure he could write a book!

How has your week been? Mine has been a blast! Monday kicked off my first full week of summer break. Yahoo!! It’s been a very full few days. Let’s see…

Monday I did some cleaning and cooking to get ready for our get together that evening. It was graduation night at the middle school where D-man works and we traditionally have the whole staff back here after the ceremony. It’s a chance for them to relax and celebrate the end of the year. He works with some really great people. It’s hard to believe that this will be his 22nd year there. Retirement is peeking around the corner!

Tuesday I had a very nice lunch date with my sister. We talked for hours and finally had to make ourselves leave the restaurant and go home! I spent the rest of the day helping my son finish up his packing since he was leaving for Greece the next day. Neither of us has ever traveled internationally so we felt the need to double check everything. He and a group of friends went over there to meet up with another friend who has been studying and playing basketball in New Castle England. He is finished now so he met them in Athens on Thursday and then today the group went to Mykonos Island for a few days. So far it looks like an amazing trip and I can’t wait to hear all about it.

Wednesday Miss Dee and I met my (step)mother-in-law Denise at a local recreation center for a County Line Dancing class. Anytime that dancing involves actual steps as well as knowing left and right has never been my thing but it’s nice to try new things, right? Denise has done country line dancing before just not for a few years and Miss Dee danced a bit in school plus she has natural grace and rhythm so they did pretty well. Me? I danced like I had two left feet tied together at the knees! It was fun to watch the rest of the class and I didn’t break anything but I don’t think I’ll go back. I think the nice lady teaching the class will be okay with that!

Thursday I taught my craft class for the ladies at the Senior Center. This week we made these cute ladybug photo holders. It’s amazing all the crafts you can do with a bag of rocks! They seemed to enjoy it and they are always so much fun to work with.

Friday, after running some errands and getting a much needed haircut, D-Man, Miss Dee and I went over to Philadelphia to watch the Phillies play. It was an extra special baseball game because they had a ceremony to officially retire my all time favorite players, Chase Utley. Even though he spent his last few seasons playing ball for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Chase will always be a Phillie because of the important role he played in helping us win the 2008 World Series as well as his amazing skill and passion for the game. His wife and kids were there and he got a huge ovation as he came onto the field to give his speech. Even though the current Phillies team lost the game that followed in spectacular fashion it was still worth the trip just to see this former second basemen.

As you can see, it’s been a fun yet busy week for me! Let me refill your glass and you can tell me what has been happening with you. Don’t forget to visit our coffee share hostess, Eclectic Ali and see what she and the rest of the crowd have been up to!

Thanks for stopping by!

Reviving the Summer Bucket List

For the past thirteen years I have worked at a job that allows me to have the summers off. This is a treat, of course, but it can also seem daunting to someone like me, who thrives on routine. I found that instead of being productive with my time, I was wandering around half-doing a lot of stuff with no direction or plan. A few years ago, I decided to try a little experiment. I called it my “Summer Bucket List” and you know what? It really worked! I wasn’t able to finish everything on the list but it did keep me motivated and focused and when September rolled around, I was able to see exactly what I did with my time off.

Last summer I dropped the (beach)ball and never got around to making my list. As a result chaos reined from June to August. I reached September feeling exhausted but not quite sure why. This summer I’m getting back on track!

Some of the items on this list are repeats from summers past, either because they were not accomplished that year or, they were so much fun, I wanted to do them again! I update it regularly and mark it with a star once it’s complete. If an item is something that I need to do multiple times, it gets a star for each time I accomplish that task. Anything marked with a (c) is something that makes me a bit nervous or is something I tend to procrastinate about and will therefore be more of a challenge to accomplish.

Yesterday was my last day of work so I am taking this weekend to reset myself to “summer mode. Come Monday (late)morning I’m set to go!

Wish me luck!

SUMMER BUCKET LIST 2019

  1. Have one lunch date a week with a friend or family member ⭐️⭐️
  2. Paint the living room and kitchen⭐️
  3. Organize my growing pile of photographs (c)
  4. Visit the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia to see their Marvel Exhibit⭐️
  5. Visit the nearby Grounds for Sculpture (I’ve never been!)
  6. Walk on the beach as often as I can.⭐️⭐️
  7. Visit a winery
  8. Go to the theater to see at least 4 movies or plays⭐️⭐️
  9. Have a picnic meal
  10. Spend some time on a boat in a lake or the ocean
  11. Go zip-lining (c)
  12. Go up in a hot air balloon (c)
  13. Catch up on annual dentist and doctor visits
  14. Spend time working (playing) in my art room creating at least every other day.⭐️
  15. Continue a daily routine of either yoga or some other form of exercise⭐️
  16. Complete work on Inventors scavenger hunt for STEAM camp (post to follow)⭐️
  17. Take a train ride
  18. Write at least one blog post per week and finishing my “Adventures in Hollywood” series
  19. Spend time each day reading other blogs, getting inspired and keeping up with what my blog friends are up to.
  20. Relax! Enjoy the simple things and be a little lazy.:)

READY, SET, GO!

If We Were Having Coffee…Busy mornings!

Happy Sunday morning!

If we were having coffee I would welcome you up onto the porch and hand you a cup of French roast coffee or whatever beverage you preferred. There’s lemonade, tea or crisp cold ice water. We are looking at a sunny Sunday here in Southern New Jersey with a high of 79 degrees. Perfect!! I’m enjoying it while I can before the stifling humidity returns.

How has your week been? We’ve been slogging our way through the last two weeks of school, trying to keep a lid on the students building excitement and maybe get a little bit of learning done as well. It’s been a bit of a challenge! I may need to give myself several pep talks just to get through this final week.😊

Thursday morning, some of our fifth grade students put on a talent show for the rest of the school. There were only 9 acts but they ranged from dancing or singing to comedy and karate! I give each one kudos for being brave enough to perform (I’m a behind the scenes girl myself.) It was a fun way for us to start the day and a fun way for them to cap off their time in elementary school before moving on to middle school.

Friday morning I accompanied the third grade class and teacher on their annual walking tour of our town. The final social studies topic for that grade is always about communities including founding and development of ours. The culmination of that is a visit to the many places we’ve learned about. I love that we live in a town that is walkable and has an actual Main Street with a library, small stores, restaurants and police station/borough hall. We toured the police station and the local museum and checked out some other landmarks including our Veterans Park and an old stone horse watering basin that still stands just next to where the railroad station used to be. The students really enjoyed the trip and behaved very well.

Saturday morning Miss Dee and I went shopping for new kitchen appliances which was fun. Mine are all over 15 years old and showing serious wear. The D-man and I decided last month to take out a small loan in order to do some updating around here. New counter tops (our current ones are red laminate, straight out of the 80s!) and appliances are the big purchases. Ahh, to have an oven that actually keeps the proper temperature and a dishwasher with a door that doesn’t drop down spontaneously scaring the sh#% out of us and the cat. I’m simply tingling with anticipation!

Miss Dee thinks I might get nostalgic and start missing the red counter tops. I’m not so sure….

That’s the thing about home ownership, isn’t it, there is always something that needs fixing or updating. I’ve got a list of other summer projects as well. I guess we will see how much of it gets accomplished. Usually something has to really start bugging me before I’m willing to spend money on it. I’m kind of cheap, and the fact that no money is coming in during the summer makes me even cheaper!😊

So now it Sunday morning and you might wonder what my plan is for today. Well, after all those busy mornings, I think that this one will be spent sitting on the deck, reading a book or working on some art work. That sounds just about perfect, like the weather! I’m so glad you could join me for a chat. You should run on over to Eclectic Alli and visit with the rest of the Coffee Share crew. I’m sure they’re serving up some great conversation as well.

If We Were Having Coffee…Prelude to Summer.

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If we were having coffee on this fine breezy morning in Southern New Jersey, I would probably start off with “Hey, remember me?!” It’s been a while since my last coffee post or any post of any kind.  Why return now, you might ask? Well I work in an elementary school and because that wonderful thing called “summer break” is almost upon us, I now find myself with more time to do fun stuff, like blog writing and blog reading.  I can’t wait to catch up with the many things that have been going on with you all!

So lets chat! What’s been up with you?

Seen any good movies lately? (went to see ENDGAME few weeks ago. LOVED IT!!! It needs an entire post of it’s own so stay tuned).

Read any good books? (Just finished “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens. Excellent read.  I highly recommend.)

Gone on any new adventures? (Hubby and I are in the midst of planning a trip to New Orleans to celebrate our 25th Wedding anniversary which was on May 21st. The trip will happen in November when the weather is more agreeable!)

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This cutie is enjoying having us around more too. She is such a social cat that I think she might be part dog!!!

How’s life been treating you and your family? Our family is doing well.  Mr D is wading his way through “adulting,” working in one of our neighborhood schools and taking classes towards getting his certification to teach special education. He was also best-man in his friend’s wedding a few weeks ago which was fun for all of us to see!

Miss Dee has bravely conquered her junior year of college and is enjoying her well earned break.  She has also started seeing an anxiety counselor which is really helping her get a hold of her stress levels. It is helping her focus on all the wonderful things about her like her creativity and compassion. Having all her friends back home for the summer really adds to her joy as well!

As for the D-Man and I, with the kids no longer being kids, we are enjoying more and more  time as a couple including a weekend at the beach and dinners at new resturants.  I think it’s shaping up to be a pretty good summer around here.  I hope the same holds true at your house.

I’m off to read some other Coffee Share Posts. Stop by and visit Eclectic Alie, see what she is up to and visit the rest of the Weekend Coffee Share.

 

If We Were Having Coffee…Lazy Sunday (finally!)

If we were having coffee…on this bright, crisp afternoon in Southern New Jersey, I would say, “Sit!! Relax! Please pardon my PJs!” Today I’m feeling lazy and enjoying, what feel like, the first “do nothing” day in forever!! Although last Sunday I was also doing nothing but that was because I’d gotten socked with a combination flu-sinus infection so I guess it’s actually the first chose-to-do-nothing day. I’m still dragging a cough around with me but at least I no longer feel as though I’ve been hit by a bus.

So, happy February! I’m pretty psyched that Punxsutawney Phil didn’t see his shadow and that Spring is just around the corner. Let’s face it though, Phil’s gonna say whatever gets him back in his warm bed the fastest. Personally I’d have bitten the guy with the hat the minute he reached in my door, but I’m a bit cranky in the morning anyway.

If we were having coffee… with I’d tell you all about the wonderful visit we had last night from my nephew Kyle and his fiancé. They are visiting from California and its the first we’d seen them since they got engaged. If you happen to have read my yet-unfinished-series “Adventures in Hollywood” you might remember that it was Kyle that my sister Linda and I went to visit last November. He showed us the sites and we met his lady then although they weren’t betrothed at the time. Her name is Tuka and she’s originally from Persia/Iran but has been in the US since she was a little girl. She brought the most amazing eggplant dip to share. We plied her with typical Jersey food (hoagies and Tasty Cakes!). We are definitely smitten with her and cant wait for the wedding. They are talking about a destination wedding to Iceland so they can be married under the Northern Lights. Sounds very romantic but I’m not sure how it will fit our budget! Guess we have a few years to think about it.

Hanging with Kyle and Tuka last year in Venice Beach (Can you tell I was a bit cold?!)

Well, I do need to get a few things done today so I guess I should finish up this chat. I hope you enjoyed your French Roast and conversation. Please stop by Eclectic Allies‘ and visit the rest of the Coffee Share Posts!

Getting Creative in 2019

Happy New Year! It’s a little late, I know, but it still feels pretty new to me. Like many of us, I made some plans and resolutions for 2019 and one of them was to spend more time being creative (thanks Jill Kuhn for your inspiration!)

The biggest hurdle I’ve had with this was not finding the motivation, but finding a convenient space where I could spread out and not have to put everything away each time my family needed to have a meal! Some of my supplies were down in the basement, some in the kitchen hutch, a few in the pantry and even my bedroom closet! Well that’s all changed now!

My husband slaved through the last few weeks of the summer renovating what was formerly the kids play area downstairs (I mean, our youngest is 20, I think they are past needing it!) He moved his collections and “man cave” stuff down there as well as our guest area, freeing up our smallest bedroom for my art space. Yay!

Weeks were spent clearing out the room, stripping wallpaper and painting the walls a nice bright white. We are planning on replacing the carpet with a clean grey laminate but I’ll have to save a bit more for that. I’d purchased a smaller, black desk for our computer, which will still share the room so that was moved in. The final step was assembling the amazing new art desk my wonderful hubby had given me for my birthday back in December. It’s got so many compartments and it’s on wheels!

I’ve been picking up items here and there, curtains and cool storage containers (Anyone who knows me can tell you I get weirdly jazzed about organization!) My sister had a nifty little bookcase up for grabs (we actually traded her the bed frame from that room that we no longer needed-win/win!) and I was able to find a desk chair that looks brand new for just $25 on one of those online yard sale sites.

Then….FINALLY….this past Sunday, I collected my many art supplies from their many hiding places and put them away in my very own art room!! I’ve been like a kid on Christmas morning, just giddy with excitement and creative motivation, painting and experimenting with new techniques. One of the best parts is thatI can just leave it all out, ready for the next time I find a few minutes to create. I do have to remember to close the door, though, so the cat won’t walk through the wet paint or eat the brushes. She’s like that!

I’m hoping that this new found creative jag lasts a long, long time making 2019 the year of creativity! It just goes to show that sometimes resolutions or plans can take some patience, a bit of elbow grease and a little faith but they can happen. May all your plans for the coming year be every bit as gratifying!

If We Were Having Coffee…Homestretch to the Holidays

Morning! Only time for a quick coffee break this Sunday. Two days left to get everything ready for the twenty some guests we are expecting on Christmas Day. The tree is up…

The D-Man and I picked it out in record time (20 minutes) during last weekends rain storm. It’s pretty little tree, if I do say so myself. The jury is still out on this one…

So far so good. We did tie the tree to the wall, just in case.

My day today is a whirlwind of last minute have-to-dos. Sorry, no time for coffee or cake today, but I do want to pass on a holiday wish to my blog buddies for a healthy, happy Holiday Season!

Merry Christmas, to my friends who celebrate, and a very joyous New Year to all!

(Don’t forget to stop by Eclectic Allie for more Coffee Share Posts)

If We Were Having Coffee…Unpacking Some Christmas Spirit

Good morning and happy Sunday! It’s a bit damp and drizzly here in South Jersey today but it’s warm and cozy inside so sit down, have a cup of hot French roast and lets have a chat!

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that Miss Dee and I spent our day yesterday putting up Christmas decorations. I would admit that when we started, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed and less than enthusiastic but as we unwrapped each treasure, my mood improved. Soon, she and I were remembering stories and laughing at memories from holidays past.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you to bring your mug and I would give you a tour. I would point out the collection of Santas on display behind the sofa. There are the tall Santa my mother-in-law painted and gifted to my husband and I after we got married, the wooden “walking” Santa my father-in-law brought us from Germany, and the Christmas card holder that had belonged to my mom, all sitting comfortably together…

I would then show you the Christmas Village, originally just four lighted houses, purchased at a home demonstration back when D-man and I were newlyweds still collecting holiday decorations. Over the years we have added more houses and tiny figures. The job of setting it up has been handed down from me to Miss Dee. I think she does a wonderful job, don’t you?

However, we are worried about this one…

This is her first Christmas with us and we are a little concerned about the villagers survival. 🙂

Next we can check out the bookcases, my favorite pieces of furniture! On those, we have a mix of old and new, a framed Christmas card I designed as a teenager next to baby photos of my now grown children. Up on top are some reindeer, candle holders from who knows when alongside a new white ceramic one purchased last year. Down on the floor is the tall wooden tree I painted and decorated years ago. I always struggle to find the proper place for it but I’m thinking it looks quite at home next to our stuffed snowman there in the corner.

On the other bookcase sits our mini tree collection. Here there is a potpourri burner, a gift from an old friend 20 years ago, a musical tree that plays “O Tannenbaum” and several others both decorated and natural. You can also see our newest decoration, the white car that is toting the Christmas tree on top. I came across it at Lowes last week and just had to have it. It reminded me so much of my childhood! I was flooded with years of memories, watching my dad strap our tree to the roof of the car. I worried the whole way home that it would blow off! The shelf below holds the manger, also a gift from a dear friend on our first Christmas. This is displayed each year without fail to reminded us of the true meaning of the Holiday Season.

We would then swing through the hall so you could see my Dicken’s Carolers. They were purchased second hand over the years so they don’t actually match but I appreciate them each for their uniqueness. The boy on the right refuses to stand correctly so we had to tape him to the snow. I’m hoping he doesn’t topple over taking the rest of the crowd with him! I think I love them so much because the music of the holidays instantly fills me with Christmas cheer. I wish I’d been able to Carole more often as a child. Miss Dee told me yesterday that they kind of “creep her out!” It must be the eyes. Guess I won’t pass them on to her.

That would bring us back to the kitchen, where the hutch that belonged to my in-laws when they first got married, is packed with more memories. On one shelf sits my mom’s Christmas tree glasses and on another are our reindeer mugs that we bought when the kids were young. Each one features a different one of Santa’s reindeer. Miss Dee always uses “Vixen” and Mr D always uses “Donder.” I’m a little more flexible. Today I have “Cupid” but other days I feel more “Blitzen-ish!” The little nutcrackers are actually place card holders, although I’ve never used them as that and the tray propped up behind was painted by my mom during her ceramic phase. On the back is scratched “Christmas 1977,” the year I turned fifteen.

If we were having coffee… I would tell you, as we sat back at the table and refilled our mugs, that I’m glad Miss Dee nudged me on yesterday and encouraged me to unpack “just one more box.” I realize now, after taking this tour with you that it helped me see past the “I’ve got so much to do!” mindset and instead reminded me what amazing memories we can make when we open our hearts and homes at Christmas!

Thanks so much for stopping by! Please take the time to visit some of the other Coffee Share Posts hosted over at Eclectic Allie.

Thanks For The Memories

Thinking back to the Thanksgivings of my childhood I remember waking to the mouthwatering smell of turkey roasting in the oven. I recall staggering out of bed and curling up in front of the TV to watch the Thanksgivings Day parades. My favorite was the Macy’s Parade with the giant balloons and the appearance of Santa Claus, but mom loved the flower covered floats of the Rose Bowl Parade so we would take turns switching  back and forth.

The Thanksgiving of my childhood. My sister, mom, dad and grandmother at the table in the living room.

I remember trying to stay out of the way as my dad and brother maneuvered our dining table through the tiny kitchen door. They would set it up in the living room and add the extension leafs and folding chairs to accommodate all the dinner guests. Then I would help set the table with the good white table cloth, the plates we borrowed from my grandmother and mom’s special cut glass dishes we saved just for the holidays.

I think about the wonderful dishes we passed around the table, the stuffing and the candied yams covered in sweet buttery syrup. I also remember that mom made two special vegetable dishes, favorites of my fathers that she only made for Thanksgiving and Easter: creamed cauliflower and Brussel sprouts. Now, as an adult I would enjoy them too but back then I passed them down the line and filled my plate with mashed potatoes and carrots instead. 

My children’s Thanksgiving. Our first home. Mr D is the smiling blonde in the front

My husband and I with Miss Dee’s on her first Thanksgiving.

I remember how, when the turkey was crisp and succulent, dad would use our handy electric knife to slice off as much as he could making sure to include lots of dark meat, my grandmothers favorite. He filled the platter to overflowing and then refilled  it when we were ready for seconds. After dinner he would trim off as much as he could and wrap up the remainder for my grandmother to use for turkey noodle soup. I always made sure he saved the turkey’s wishbone so one of my sisters and I could each take a side, make a silent wish then pull it apart to break.  The tradition was that the person who ended up holding the largest half would get their wish

breaking the wish bone

I think about how, the day before Thanksgiving each year, my dad would to climb up into the attic to retrieve the big roasting pan my mom used for the turkey. The kitchen in our tiny ranch style house had very little cabinet space so the pan lived in the attic between uses. I really remember (probably because the story has been told over and over) how one year after dinner my dad was trying to help get everything cleaned up and inadvertently put the roaster back up in the attic before anyone had gotten a chance to wash it!! Boy was that a surprise when he pulled it back down at Christmas! I suppose they were happy it was just up there from November to December during the cold weather and not from Christmas to Easter!

Our current Thanksgivings are hosted by my brother and sister-in-law. The family has certainly grown!

More than anything, though, when I think back to the Thanksgivings of my childhood I think about the wonderful feeling of togetherness, the warmth, the laughter, the many blessing we had. I’m extra thankful that I’m able to carry on those traditions with my husband, children and the family we have today. I hope my children will always remember their childhoods just as fondly.

What memories are you thankful for this holiday?

A Mother’s Day Tribute: All About Doris

I would like to wish all my mom friends out in the blogosphere a very happy Mother’s Day. I think we can all agree that being a mom is the most wonderful, challenging, frustrating, agonizing, amazing, and rewarding job there is! Sometimes all in the same day!!

Since I am no longer able to celebrate this day with my own amazing Mom I thought that in her honor I would share ten fact about her that helped make her so special.

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Mom with her brother Bobby in 1936 and as a 16 year old just after she met my Dad.

  1. Her name was Doris Mae and she was born in Camden, NJ in 1930.
  2. Doris went to 10 different schools in 9 years. This was because her father, a master plumber (someone who installs plumbing systems in ships or large office buildings) had to move around a lot for his work. She often returned to the same school district a few years later, catching up with old friends. Her oldest friend, Ruth, was an eighth grade classmate who became a life long friend. After my dad passed away they bought neighboring condos and continued to watch out for each other.
  3. Because of all this moving around, school was a challenge for mom so at the age of 16, she dropped out and started her first job as an elevator operator at Strawbridge and Clothier in Camden. She also worked for them as a phone operator, a waitress and a personal shopper for people who would call in with orders (she always said this was her favorite job!)
  4. Her two favorite fashion accessories were high heels and lipstick which she always made sure she had on whenever photos were being taken.
  5. She met my dad in 1946 when she was 16 by way of her best friend Gertie who happened to be my dad’s cousin. He was 23 at the time and fresh out of the army. I remember telling her that she would have locked me in the closet if I had tried dating a 23 year old When I was that age. Her response: “Things were different back then. He was a friend of the family and I was much older at 16 than you were.” Probably all very true.
  6. She became a mom at 20 when she gave birth to my sister Linda, a name she picked out after hearing a coworker by that name. She said it was very original for the time. Linda was followed by Patricia 18 months later, James three years after that and then (surprise!) me 8 years later.
  7. She loved to socialize and always had many friends spending time on the telephone or chatting over the back fence with the other moms in the neighborhood.
  8. Her cocktail of choice was a Fuzzy Navel: peach schnapps and orange juice. I still have a bottle of peach schnapps in my pantry that we kept on hand so she could have one at our holiday gatherings.
  9. She and I took a road trip to Florida in 1993 because she wanted to visit Universal Studios. She was afraid of flying and my dad hated to travel so since I was single and was driving a pretty reliable car at the time she offered to pay for the trip if I would be willing to drive there. It was a fabulous vacation and I’ve never laughed do much in my whole life. We made a detour to Clearwater on the coast so she could visit her cousin and made of point of borrowing a swimsuit so she could swim in the ocean, something I never remember her doing when I was growing up.
  10. By the time she passed away, in 2015, Doris had been blessed with 8 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren and countless other “adopted grandkids” that lovingly referred to her as MiMom, a name chosen by her first grandchild. This aspect of her life was by far her most favorite. 

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I could go on. There are so many more memories I could share. Maybe I will make this an annual post. For those out there who are also missing their moms on this special day, maybe you should take the time to make your own list, even if it’s just in your head and your heart. It’s a great way to remember those ladies who helped make us who we are.

Thanks for reading.