Extremely Puzzling

Welcome! Here we are well into our third week of self-isolation. I feel so fortunate that my family and friends are safe and well fed and that the only challenge we have is finding ways to fill our time. We’ve been doing pretty well so far. My daughter and I lean towards “introvert” so we are more content than the men but they too have found ways to keep busy with movies and walks and little projects.

Last week, in search of a diversion, I was rummaging around in the Attic and came across this:

This belonged to my mother originally. I brought it home when my sisters and I were cleaning out and dividing up mom’s things after she passed away. She and I both had a love of trivia and puzzles so this was right up our alley and we did attempt to finish it back when it was new. However, this particular puzzle proved too much for us and we were never able to quite finished it. We could have used the poster that came with it but that didn’t seem fair. Some of the quotes were so obscure that we eventually gave up.

Luckily, Miss Dee and I now have the advantage of Google!

Yes, I admit, we cheated. That “enclosed poster with all the answers” has long since disappeared and some of these quotes are really challenging. For example:

“She believed in nothing; only her scepticism kept her from being an atheist”

Perhaps there are some of you out there who could easily attribute that saying to Jean-Paul Satre but I’m just a chick from Jersey with a degree in Fine Art. This guy is way outside my range of knowledge. I did great on the movie quotes and D-man and Mr D were a big help when it came to American Wars or Politics. Miss Dee even figured out some of the more current quotes but since the puzzle was copy written in 1994, four years before she was born “current” was a relative term.

Whatever method we used, we still had fun matching the quotes with the proper person and it has provided a great distraction, helping to fill some of the unstructured hours. We even learned some new stuff. Now we are down to fitting the actual pieces together, harder than you would think since they are all the same size and you only have slivers of images on the edges to try and match up. It may get to the point where we give up and move on but for now I’ve been adding a piece here and there. Who knows, with at least another month in front of us, we might get it finished.

What’s been keeping you busy?

Hops and Barley and Guava and Lime

I live in a dry town. Although that may sound like a weather condition, it actually means that there is no alcohol sold within the town limits. Considering that we began as a Methodist meeting camp that took root and grew into year round bungalows, it’s not surprising that the drinking of alcohol was frowned upon. What is surprising, considering our dry condition, is that apparently, microbreweries don’t fall under the same law that keeps our town free of bars and liquor stores. We now have two up on Main Street and a few others in neighboring towns. I am definitely a fan of these cozy little watering holes. They promote casual gatherings, and a provide friendly welcoming atmosphere for the nearby college students, young couples and even old folks like us. The D-man and I have been known to stop by occasionally to meet with friends or just to have a “lets welcome the weekend” drink.

But here’s the thing,

Microbreweries sell fancy beer.

Beers with names like *Peach Brulee, Crimson Skull or Pink Guava Lime Gose. Beers with discriptions that say things like “The 5th iteration of our revolving hop, house pale ale features Simcoe, Amarillon and all-new Cryo Lemondrop*” I’m pretty sure most of that is English but I have no idea what any of it means.

Now I certainly enjoy an ice cold beer, especially in hot weather or down the shore accompanied by fresh crabs (YUM!) but, I lean towards basic beer. It’s how I was raised. I grew up imersed, if you will, in beer. My dad worked for Schmidts Brewery in Philadelphia his whole life as did all his brothers. Cases of beer or a tapped keg were basics at family barbeques and holidays. There was no wine or hard liquer, and the only beer allowed was Schmidts. That’s what put food on the table in our family so it was the only brand they would drink.

When I was older and on my own my friends and I drank Coors Light. We liked it because it was cheap and we were in our early twenties and therefore broke. We didn’t know the difference between imported or domestic beer. We didn’t care if it was an ale or pale. We drank what we were used to. The fanciest I get these days is when the D-man and I order a Blue Moon and it comes with a little slice of orange. Classy, right?

What I’m saying here is that I am not, by any stretch of the imagination a beer connoisseur. In fact, I’m probably about as far from one as you can get. The beer I grew up with was just basic beer, beer that anyone who knows about brewed beverages of that sort would probably shudder at the thought of.

That means that on those occasions when my hubby and I visit one of these cool new microbreweries, I’m completely out of my comfort zone, totally intimidated by those hand chalked signs over the counter. I stand there trying to figure out what the difference is between a lager and a brown ale or what exactly is a black and tan? Turns out it’s a cream ale mixed with coffee. Who knew, right? Standing there, shifting from one foot to the other, I contemplate the benefit of having a Pummel (as naked as a larger can get) over a Silver Queen (made with 20% white corn) or possibly a Not For Anything IPA (an iteration of our hazy methodology features a meg-adjunct grist thanks to our indomitable mash filter*) Yikes!!

I’m certain these are all amazing beers and that all this “brew speak” makes total sense to most of the other patrons. Just not me. Luckily most microbrewes offer something called “flights” which are sample sets of several different beers of your choosing. That’s my fall back and most times I come across one that I like or that at least tastes close to what I’m used to.

The whole idea is to try new things. I get that and I do most times but, what I’d really like, and I think I’m going to suggest this to the owners next time, is a post script on that chalkboard menu that says:

<BORING BREW– For those patrons with unadventurous taste buds who mostly just came for the atmosphere.>

Wouldn’t that make sense? It would save me all that indecisive anxiety and I bet I’m not the only one. What do you think?

*All photos and beverage descriptions are courtsey of the BONESAW GRILL and NECK OF THE WOODS microbreweries here in NJ. Both have excellent brews and are really cool and welcoming establishments. Visit if you get the chance!

If We Were Having Coffee…2/1/20: Cats and Head Colds

Welcome!

If we were having coffee…you would probably say, “Who the heck are you!” Understandable since apparently I only post once every six months! The thing is, I just bought myself a cute little Chrombook and it will make posting so much easier than using my old Ipad which crashed on a regular basis. Hopefully I will be motivated to post more often now. So sit, have some hot french roast coffee and a chocolate chip muffin. I’ll fill you in on my week and you can tell be about yours.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that my head is stuffy and the sky here in South Jersey is a soupy foggy mess. Fun Saturday, huh? It will be because, aside from going to see the new Star Wars movie with the D-Man later on today, my day is mine to do with what I choose.

I started out the morning by fighting with the cat over a bird feather. D-man found it on one of his walks and brought it home for the cats to sniff since neither ever gets to sniff and actual bird. Darby has become obsessed with it. She kept jumping on the kitchen counter (a big no-no) to get it off the windowsill over the sink. I took it down for her to sniff but she tried to eat it. I put it in the pocket of my robe but she pawed at my pocket attempting to stick her face in it! Finally, I put it inside a plastic jar and sat on the floor. She can still see it but not smell it so it seems to have lost it’s appeal.

Darby!

Cats are weird.

Speaking of weird cats, the other one, Dash, has skin issues. The vet said it’s like psoriasis only in felines. He’s developed a weird bare patch on his chin and, because he is all itchy, he has licked the back of one leg bare with his obsessive grooming. Now he is on steroids. Once a day we mix it with his food. Luckily he is not a finicky cat and will eat almost everything (whether it’s eatable or not.)

Dash!

Like I said, cats are weird.

If we were having coffee…we could talk about tomorrow’s Super Bowl and the party that we go to each year, but since the Philadelphia Eagles ended their season on such a disappointing note I’d rather not talk about our American football at all. 😦

Let’s instead talk about you. What’s been happening in your world? Do you have any weird cats in your house or other pets, perhaps? (Speaking of weird animals, did you read the recent article about the iguanas that were falling from the trees in Florida. Apparently the weather had gotten so cold that they were forced into a sort of frozen hybernation? Talk about weird! If you haven’t seen it you should Google “Frozen Igunas falling from trees” It’s very interesting)

Have you too been struggling with headcolds or allergies or other germ related illnesses? I work in an elementary school surrounded by little 8 year old Petri dishes so believe me, I understand germs! We have hand sanitizers in each classroom and the custodian spends part of each day disinfecting the door knobs and hand rails. I hope that you have escaped the worst of the germs and are enjoying this Saturday doing something fun.

Thanks so much for stopping by. With any luck, I’ll be serving coffee again next week. We’ll see how it goes. 🙂 If you can, please stop and visit the rest of the posts at our host site EcleticAllie.

If We Were Having Coffee…Sunshine and Sand

If we were having coffee this Saturday you would have had to travel a bit further southeast to find me here at the Jersey Shore (and, BTW, the “Jersey Shore” we go to is nothing like the TV show, not even a little).

Miss Dee and I are enjoying our annual girls weekend at the beach. Today’s plan involves no plans at all, going with the flow and totally relaxing. We left the boys at home. They have tickets to a Phillies game tonight so they don’t really mind.

If we were having coffee we could sit by the pool and enjoy the sunshine. The beach is about a block away so we could even walk down there and watch the waves. The condo we stay in here, thoughtfully shared by my husband’s stepmom, is in the quiet, family friendly area of Wildwood Crest. The beach is huge but at this time of the year it can get still get rather crowded. Since Miss Dee and I like to have space we go to the beach in the morning and pool in the afternoon so let me get right to catching you up on my week.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that STEAM camp this week went very well. The children enjoyed learning about Inventions and Inventors. We designed new cars and got to see a cool demonstration by a Tesla Model X car. We learned about the advantages of electric vehicles and it even “danced” for us, flashing its lights and opening and closing its wing doors in time with music!

The campers made hydrological elevators with Popsicle sticks, created their own board game, learned about lasers and really got into the Invention Scavenger Hunt we put together. It was an exhausting but fun week.

If we were having coffee I would invite you to put on your swimsuit and accompany us to the beach. We can continue our chat, have a swim, do some people watching and just relax! I’m so glad you stopped by. After you’ve brushed off the sand, visit Eclectic Ali, our Coffee Share host and catch up with the rest of the Coffee Crew.

If We Were Having Coffee…Plans For January

If we were having coffee today you would notice that the “view from the porch” is a snowy and fridge one.  I think temperature today here in south Jersey will top out at 21 degrees (brrr!). A story in the paper this morning said that they may even postpone the Philadelphia Mummers Parade tomorrow because the brass instruments keep freezing up.  Hard to play “Golden Slippers” when you have to keep breaking icicles off your  trombone!

Anyway, if we were having coffee today you might also say to me “Where the heck you been, Lady?!”  According to my WordPress dashboard, its been five months since my last post.  I could blame this on my iPad which kept freezing up and crashing every time I tried to post or I could blame it on a lack of time, motivation and ideas.  All of these would be true.  However, thanks to Santa, I now have a new IPad and a nifty Bluetooth keyboard that will make posting less technically challenging and since  the holidays have passed, or at least our hosting responsibilities which wrapped up with a gathering of friends last night, I have gobs more time.

So this morning I noticed that every January I find myself in this same weird state of mind.  For months before (since we also hosted Thanksgiving this year as well as Christmas) my mind is full of details and plans, a nonstop whirlwind of things to do and remember.  Then the week after Christmas when all the gifts are given, all the food is cooked and serving dishes stowed away once more my brain says, “Hey, what’s with all this room in here? Where are all the things we need to arrange and acccomplish?  What am I suppose to do with my time now?!” Although its nice to let my poor tired brain rest for a bit, I also know we will both go bonkers without some kind of plans for the cold months to come so I am dedicating this “Coffee Share Post” to listing the things my brain (and body) can acccomplish now that things have slowed down.  This blog post is the first thing on my list as will be (hopefully) more regular ones in the future.

Number two on my January “To Do” list is creating a scrapbook from the pile of 112 (yes, 112) photos stacked on my desk.  In November my sister and I took a trip to Hollywood to visit my nephew.  It was quite an adventure, which I plan on doing a series of posts about, but documenting it in paper form is also a goal.  I’m one of those weird people who actually still prints out photos and puts them in books.  I love being able to leaf back though the memories.

So there’s that to accomplish.

Next, D-man’s stepmom has been asking me to paint a portrait of her son’s dog.  Poor Oscar passed away a few months back and she wanted a portrait to give her son in memory.  This is a lovely idea and even though animals aren’t my best thing, I will give it a try.  I’ll keep you updated on that.

Another plan is to start an indoor herb garden.  I have a box that will fit in my kitchen window sill.  Now to work out the logistics.

I also need to work on getting my feet fixed.  To explain, thanks to family genetics, I have incredibly flat feet.  No arch what so ever. Nada.  This translates, with age, into bunions, the result of the bones in your feet pushing apart to compensate for their flatness. Ouch, right?  I have orthopedic insole that I have worn for years that help with the pain but they are in need of replacement and even with them, I am going to have to break down and have surgery eventually. Six weeks in a boot is not my idea of fun and also even less fun,  here in the U.S with our wonderfully inefficient healthcare  system, the first step in all of this is dealing with the insurance company. Ugh. That’s why I’ve put it off as long as I have but January is the end of procrastination!

Well, my brain feels much happier now.  I’m sorry I’ve run on so long but now that I have a plan I no longer see the cold months ahead looming like a black hole!  Thanks for listening.   Let’s warm up your coffee and you can fill me in on what’s been going on with your brain!

Many thanks to “Eclectic Allie” for hosting the Coffee Share.  Stop by and check out the rest of the posts.

If We Were Having Coffee…6/24/17

Whew!

If we were having coffee…I would hurry you in and start off by appologizing for my slightly disheveled appearance. At 6:30 this morning we were awaken to beeping cell phones issuing a tornado warning! Not the most relaxing way to start the day. Luckily, though the conditions were favorable, no tornados actually formed. Miss Dee and I sat in the basement family room watching the news untill the warning expired. The D-Man, who is much more of a thrill seeker, watched from the den window. Mr D never even made it out of bed. Pretty sure he could sleep through most anything.

Anyway, at this point in time, hours later, as I fill your cup with some nice strong French roast and offer you a donut, the skies have cleared. Young Mr D has left for work, D-Man has headed back to bed and Miss Dee having just climbed back out of bed herself, is watching YouTube videos. She will be off to work in a few hours herself. I really kind of love this time of year when hubby and I stay home and the kids go off to make a living. Ahhh, good times….

A cloudy view of the Freedom Tower as seen from Hoboken

If we were having coffee…we could catch up with each other’s past few weeks. I don’t know about you but mine have been quite busy! We finished up the school year (hooray) on the 16th, then spent the next day visiting D-man’s step-sister in Hoboken celebrating my father-in-law’s 75th birthday. Torrential downpours made the  drive a bit of a challenge but eventually the family was able to gather for a very nice lunch, wishing him well and fussing over new baby Asher, just two months old.

Beach selfie!

Sunday was a day of rest as well as laundry and packing because on Monday Miss Dee and I headed for the shore.  For the past three summers we have kicked off our break by having a Mother/daughter get-away at the beach. The weather this year was perfect. Sunshine, sand, lounging outdoors by the sea! Totally rejuvenating.  Mr D and his lady friend came to visit one day and we all went out for a lovely seafood dinner.

Full STEAM ahead!

On Thursday we found ourselves back home, unpacking and, again, doing laundry!  Then on Friday, AKA yesterday, I was up early finishing up my STEAM Camp props so that I could deliver them for set up. The airplane board just barely fit in my car but made it to the site unscathed. I spent an hour or so aiding in the set up then rushed off to do the grocery shopping. D-Man and I finished up the day enjoying the perfect weather while watching the team of middle schoolers that Mr D coaches play baseball.

That brings us full circle…back to this morning’s 6:30AM tornado warning…

Like I said….Whew!!!!

So if we were having coffee…I would now lean back and ask “How was your week?” I hope it was fun and eventful, low on stress and high on comfort. The day here is shaping up to be sunny and warm so stay a while. Let’s chat. Oh, and don’t forget to stop by Nerd in the Brain so you can check out the rest of the Weekend Coffee Share!

The 2017 Summer Bucket List

Woo-hoo! It’s that time again….

For the past eleven 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.

Naturally, I was ready to make another handy dandy bucket list this summer!* Several of the items on my 2017 list are repeats from other summers, either because they were not accomplished that year or, they were so much fun, I wanted to do them again! 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. My last day of school is this Friday, June 16th so that means that on June 17th I’ll be off and running! Wish me luck!

BEHOLD THE 2017 SUMMER BUCKET LIST!!

1. Take at least six day trips (parks, beach, etc)⭐️
2. Clean out and organize the household file cabinet⭐️
3. Repaint the living room walls
4. Travel some where by train
5. Ride a train into the city (c)
6. Create at least six art projects⭐️⭐️
7. Visit at least 2 museums
8. Take care of some “self maintenance” by catching up on yearly physicals.⭐️
9. Clean out and update the kitchen pantry. ⭐️
10. Go canoeing or kayaking
11. Have at least six lunch dates with friends or family⭐️⭐️
12. Go zip-lining (c)
13. Walk on the beach⭐️
14. Have a picnic somewhere next to the water
15. Have a romantic weekend away with my Hubby
16. Join a book club and attend meetings monthly⭐️
17. Maintain my newly planted herb garden and use the herbs often (c)
18. Attend the theater at least three times (films or plays)⭐️⭐️
19. Try to awaken my inner “chef” by researching and attempting some new recipes. (c)⭐️
20. Experience a ride in a hot air balloon (c)
21. Finish organizing and labeling our family tree and photos
22. Visit a local winery and enjoy a wine tasting.
23. Listen to some live music, preferably outdoors
24. Go dancing with my Hubby
25. Catch up on a full season of the “Once Upon a Time” TV show with Miss Dee (we got a little behind!)

*BTW It would be super awesome to have some company on this adventure so feel free to make your own list if you’re so inclined.

We can compare notes and cheer each other on! 😊

If We Were Having Coffee…8/21/16

Happy Sunday morning!

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If we were having coffee….you would notice that I am still in my jammies with slightly disheveled hair. I had a bit of a sleep-in this morning. Usually, I tidy up my appearance for guests but since you are “cyber” guest and this isn’t FaceTime I’ll over look it if you will. You’re all free to wear your pajamas too if you’d like. Who am I to judge.

I can offer you some fresh hot coffee (that gets made even before my eyes are fully open) and we have some rather good tea biscuits from the local supermarket. I should warn you though, if you decide to have one, this is what you will likely see…

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She has an addiction to baked goods, especially tea biscuits and will stand there tapping the table till she gets some. I’ve tried ignoring her but for a little thing she can become quite insistent. Anyway…

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that Miss Dee, Hubby and I finally got to see the new Star Trek movie last night and can I just tell you how amazing it was! I was on the edge of my seat and even though some parts were a little hard to follow at times, the cast is so excellent and the script and special effects are as good as the last film if not better. Of course all of this assumes that you like this kind of movie. We happen to be “Trekies,” D-man and I since we were kids watching the William Shatner/Leonard Nemoy version on TV. Miss Dee is more of a Chris Pine girl. We were also very fond of Anton Yelchin, who plays Checkov. It it was sad to watch his performance knowing that he had recently died so tragically. There was a dedication to him and Leonard Nemoy at the end of the film which I felt was very fitting.

If we were having coffee…I would tell you that yesterday afternoon I visited with my old friend Helen for a bit. She took a misstep getting off her brother’s boat last Sunday and ended up breaking her foot so she is now confined to her sofa, foot propped above her heart, awaiting surgery. ICK, right!? She showed me the X-ray and take my word for it, she did a pretty good job of it. Obviously she is uncomfortable but she said, aside from sleeping, the pain is not too bad. What is driving her most crazy is not being able to get around. She is like my Hubby, the kind of person who need to go, go, go and being told to stay, stay, stay is making her nuts! If it were me, I would be perfectly happy with a sketch pad, a pile of books and an iPad although I will admit, having to use crutches would be dangerous for so one as clumsy as I.

I took her some lunch and ate and chatted through the afternoon. It was a lot of fun catching up. I was also able to let her dog in and out about 12 times for her while I was there! Helen said he was driving her crazy. By the time I left at three, her daughter (who is a nurse working the night shift) was awake and ready to take over. Her surgery is scheduled for the 28th and will hopefully go well so that she can be up and around soon.

The last thing I would tell you about, if we were having coffee is that young Mr D went to a wedding yesterday for one of his classmates. This is the first wedding he has gone to as an adult, you know, without mom and dad! It felt really weird! We had to talk him through some stuff that you just kind of take for granted if you’ve been to as many weddings as I have, like the RSVP card that came with the invitation. That totally confused him. “What am I suppose to do with this?!”he asked. Then there was the whole discussion of what or how much to give as a gift. He also asked me if he would need a ticket to get into the reception (a fair question if you’ve never been to one by yourself) so I had to explain to him about the little place cards that are usually set out with your table assignment.  It seemed to go well and the couple was lucky enough to have quite good weather. His critique as he dashed in and out again last night was that the ceremony was too long but the reception was fun, good food, great music. Naturally he couldn’t tell me anything about her gown or the cake but that’s what I have social media for!

If we were having coffe…I would probably realize that I have been talking nonstop since you arrived! So sorry. Please, tell me what you have been up to this week. Have you seen any good movies or visited with any old friends? Do you remember the first wedding you ever attended? Let me refill your cup and you can tell me all about it…

(The Weekend Coffee Share is brought to you by Diana at Part Time Monster. Stop by and visit!)

Staggering Into the Home Stretch or Where Oh Where Has My Summer Gone?

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I’ve lost it.

Totally and completely lost it. My motivation. My focus. My purpose! Here it is 20 days till the end of my summer break and I have stalled midway through my Bucket List. It seems like I spent most of the last two months running around like the proverbial headless chicken but I don’t exactly remember what I was actually doing. Have you ever had days (or weeks) like that?

Today, I took stock of the cursed list and the number of items I have checked off of it are about half. “Not too bad,” you might say, but a lot of those items were done during the first few weeks, back when the summer was just a fledgling with so much promise and possibilities. By mid July my motivation was BLAH. I shouldn’t say that completely though because parts of July were fun. We had birthday and graduation parties and the STEAM camp that I worked at was certainly a blast, however, I’m thinking that camp may have been what threw me off course. I was so busy getting ready for it and was so exhausted when it was done that my get-up-and-go just sort of…..went.

Well, the days are short so it’s time to hop back onto that Bucket List train! Let’s get to planning! But where do I start? If you happened to visit my last Coffee Share, you know that items #9 and 10 are off the table. In addition, remember item #17? The one about maintaining and using my newly planted herb garden?  Sad to say, my herbs have become a casualty of the heat wave. They are now pots of brown crispy things that don’t much resemble herbs anymore. Guess that one is off the table too. (“herbs” off the table…get it?! *snicker*)

Hmm..maybe…Yes, I think my first order of business will be item…

#11. Have at least six lunch dates with friends or family.

I even have one planned already for Wednesday! Ba-zinga! It’s actually sort of a working lunch. A friend, who is a teacher and therefore also has the summer off, is moving in a week. We have been trying to get together all summer but being a single mom with a five year old, trying to pack up one house while fixing up the new one has kept her pretty busy. Finally I decided that the sensible thing to do, instead of us actually going out to lunch, would be for me to take lunch over to her house so we could eat and then pack while we visit. I happen to be a maniac when it comes to packing and organizing! She was thrilled with the idea.

So that’s one lunch date down….I might not get to six but I have a gift card for Red Lobster that I bet I can get my sister to help me with!

The next item I want to work on is…

#7. Visit at least two museums.

This sounds like an excellent thing to do during a heat wave- a nice air conditioned museum! If I take a friend…and we have lunch there….I can kill two birds with one stone!!! Excellent!

Okay. Good. I’m feeling much better. I’ve got this, right? Twenty days is a pretty long time. I’m sure I can squeeze quite a few more items in. This summer is not getting away so quickly!!

Stay tuned….