Monthly Archives: May 2011

Memorial Day Doings

Memorial Day started early for us with breakfast with Ele, Jim and Little Michael.  We were out early because Jim had to start back to Washington mid day and we wanted to see him before he left.

We headed for Dunkin’ Donuts!  We like it there.  I like it because I can get iced coffee which is becoming a favorite of mine and their flatbread veggie sandwich.

Very tasty and satisfying at 7 points for the flatbread and I gave the coffee 4 points.  I don’t know what DD uses for their syrup and they add the cream so I pointed it a little higher than I do the iced coffee at Barnes & Noble.

NOTE:  The donut in the background is NOT mine!  It’s Ele’s.  We were in rather close quarters so I couldn’t get it out of the picture.  She laughed when I told her I’d have to write a disclaimer! 🙂

Jim, Little Michael and Ele

Little Michael and Ralph

Little Michael and Me! 

I Love this one…Little Michael and this time, Uncle Ralph is being silly!! 🙂

We said our farewells at DD because Jim would be leaving for D.C. and Little Michael would be picked up to go home and back to school.

I spent the day with Gail, Alice and Angie shopping and getting things ready for our upcoming adventure.

We’re all going to Clearwater for a few days.  Gail and Alice both have condos there and we always have such a great time there…swimming in the pool, going to Honeymoon Island State Park, resting, reading and eating!  We’re all trying to get back on track with Weight Watchers and we’ll be doing our best to keep each other in line.  I’ll get to go to my first WW meeting somewhere other than New Jersey.  That should be interesting.

After all of the shopping, I had to rush home to pack.  Gail’s Brother Ray is leaving this morning to drive down.  It will make life much easier if we don’t have to worry about luggage on the flight.  I’ll just have a carry on with my last-minute things that I need with me until we leave. 

I got packed very quickly because I basically had everything sorted out, I just needed to pack it and find one bag that I needed.  I had a fun experience of losing my balance and falling into the closet in my efforts to get the bag.  No photos unfortunately!! 😉  Gail was impressed that I was back so quickly with my bags.  I was pretty impressed myself.  I just packed, didn’t worry about pressing anything.  Gail has everything I need there for that and I can take care of it when I get there.  Besides…it’s so humid, the wrinkles will come out on their own!   Wonder if that will work for MY wrinkles? 😉

I was very hungry when I got home.  I heated up the leftover grilled eggplant and used up the salad left from Sunday.

It was SO Delicious and so filling that the only snack I had later was a banana.  I’m starting to get into them.  We’ll see how it works out!

Sunday at Ele’s I took some beautiful shots of the flowers in her garden.  I forgot to post them so I’ll share them now.

The garden itself has an interesting story.  It is an old swimming pool.  Our Dad built it years ago out of bricks and cement.  We would fill it every year.  Each week we’d have to drain it and scrub it out. We had the best time and so many funny photos.  If I can find some, I’ll post them.  When Ele and I got older we didn’t use it anymore and it was filled in with soil.  Thus it became the Garden it is today.

It’s actually much prettier than it looks in this photo.  I just love the fact that it’s still there, just morphed into something new! 🙂

Lots to do today.

Happy Tuesday!

Back To Real Life

After spending the last week in a hazy unreal world, we are all trying to get ourselves back on track.

We planned a get together at Ele’s house for Memorial Day.  Not a lot of people, but we had a good time.

Carrie and Ralph

Jim toasting Me with water!

Little Michael being silly with his Aunt Heather

Little Michael being silly with Uncle Patrick

Ele and Heather

Ele and Jim

Me, Little Michael and Ralph

Me, Ele, Jim and Ralph taken by Little Michael!

The start of the food.  We realized that we had the table directly in the sun so we eventually moved it to the other side of the yard in the shadow of the house.

Kiss The Cook!!  Brian working his magic on the grill!

My usual Big Salad!

Ele’s VERY yummy pasta salad!

My Combo Plate ( there were 2 of these…may sound like a lot, but overall I think I was Very good!) 🙂

The wonderfulness I had been waiting for and why I said Kiss The Cook referring to Brian.  He’s such a great guy.  He makes marinated eggplant for me!!  He tells me he marinates it in balsamic vinaigrette and then grills it.  I need to get a grill pan so that I can do this at home.  It’s cut thick and is very…can I say “meaty.”  It’s delicious and filling. 

We were so lucky that in spite of several really hot days, it was very comfortable outside.  As long as we were out of the sun, there was a wonderful breeze and we were not fried like WE were on the grill as we had been last year.

One of the highlights for me was the gift that Carrie and Patrick brought me from their Alaskan cruise.

This is by an Alaskan artist.  It is a dragonfly decorated with Totem markings.  I love dragonflies and Carrie knows that.  A few years ago, she even made me a book of pictures of dragonflies from her garden.  She’s SO creative.  I just love this and need to get a frame for it.

Under the heading of technical difficulties, I realized at the end of the day that somehow the memory card from camera was loose.  It wasn’t in place in the camera so all of the photos I was taking were going to the camera’s memory rather than the card.  I had a momentary freak out because I had never tried to download photos directly from the camera.  Seems that I can be pretty clever when I need to.  All of the photos except for the one of my dragonfly are all downloaded from the camera.  I can even do both at once now because I needed to get the dragonfly from the memory card.   I’m very proud of myself for figuring out how to do it. 

Happy Memorial Day!

To all who served and gave their all…Thank You.

To all who serve today…Thank You.

To my wonderful Ralph who served.  Thank You.

Vamp Till Ready

The title is an old theatre saying.   It means the business you do until it’s time to do your business whether it be your lines in a show or a song. 

That’s what the last few days have felt like.  In a way just going through the motions until it’s time to handle what we need to handle.

I did have a doctor’s appointment this morning and had to deal with annoying traffic and then deal with a long wait to see the doctor.  Then more traffic for the way home. 

Tonight is the viewing for my best friend Gail’s Mom.  Tomorrow is the funeral.   My posts have been sporadic for that reason. 

Gail and I spent most of yesterday into the evening going through old photos.  It’s funny how when you know someone all your life, you have a lot of things that you share.  We found a lot of great old photos.  Boy, have we changed over the years!  We laughed at how many times Gail’s hair changed over the years and how her Mom’s hair was always the same.

I may not get to post for the rest of the weekend.  Everyone have an enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend, and please remember the reason for the holiday…all of the people who fought and died for our freedom.  We can never repay what they gave to us.

Taking Care of Business

While Gail and her brothers took care of the details to arrange the services for their Mom, Alice and I waited at the house for the Hospice company to pick up the equipment.  As they have always been, they were very efficient and just one man had all of it out of the house and loaded in his van in about 25 minutes.  I did door duty to help him get things out.

While we were waiting, Alice’s brother Joe came from the shore to visit Gail.  When he heard she and her brothers were handling things, he offered to take Alice and Me to lunch.

We headed somewhere I had never been but had heard a lot about.  The Riverwinds Restaurant.  It’s a very upscale restaurant just about a mile away.  It’s part of a huge complex with homes, condos a golf course and a huge recreation center. 

The entrance doors into the restaurant.   Pretty Impressive!

Funny thing is, Gail and her brothers were there having lunch between their appointments.  We had the chance to speak with them for a few minutes.  I don’t think the host appreciated that. 

I was woefully under dressed for the place (as was Alice) but I suppose my lack of fashion was less offensive than the fact that I dropped my water-glass and it BROKE!!  I was so embarrassed, but they just whisked us to a new table and we continued with our lunch.

There were not a lot of vegetarian choices so I went with my usual standby, Caesar Salad.

It was very tasty, especially since Joe didn’t want the asparagus that came with his lunch and shared it with me.  Their rolls were also delicious.  I’ll get another opportunity on Saturday to eat there because the luncheon after the services will be there.  Since Gail is also vegetarian, she’s made sure there will be something for us to eat that day beyond salad.

When we got back to Gail’s house, Alice and I set about putting things back in order, cleaning away some of the medical things that had been everywhere.  We wanted the house to look a little bit more back to normal.  We were cautious because we didn’t want Gail to think we were crossing any boundaries.  When she got home and saw it, she was very grateful and happy.  She said she has no boundaries when it comes to what we’ve done to help her.  That’s what friends are for.

Later, the three of us went shopping for Gail and Alice to get suits for the services.  I have one I can wear so I didn’t need to get one.  I just went for support.  I got to put my old costumer skills to use, toting and hanging things when necessary.  It was enjoyable in spite of the circumstances. 

Another busy day.  We’ll see what comes of it.

Sad Day

It’s hard to write this post today.  Tuesday was a very hard day for the people within my circle.

After many months of serious illness my best friend Gail’s Mom passed away yesterday.

I’ve searched for a photo I could use to show you all what a beautiful lady she was.

I found this one from Christmas Eve, I think 2008.  We had gone out to breakfast with Gail and Alice as we always do on Christmas Eve and Gail’s Mom and her brother Ray showed up at Helen’s which was our favorite breakfast spot, until it closed.

Gail’s Mom, Ray and Gail

I like this photo because it shows her beautiful smile.  She was always the life of the party and she was always in charge.

We will miss her terribly.

Not sure what we’ll do without her.

Rest In Peace, Mrs. T.

Toot Toot Tootsie

These have been somewhat difficult days lately.  Spending long hours with my best friend Gail trying to help care for her 91-year-old Mom who is doing poorly.  We enjoy spending time together with our other best friend, Alice.  Many moments are difficult, but the time we spend together and with her Mom are precious.

Gail has always been a big baseball fan, the Philadelphia Phillies in particular and me…not so much.  Well, she’s turning me into a baseball fan, too!  We watch the games together and I’ve even started to watch them when I’m home.  I never thought it would happen.  I actually CARE that Chase Utley is back!

Since we’re all on Weight Watchers, we try to keep each other on track.  Long hours of sitting and waiting can lead to serious snacking issues.  We have 2 standbys that get us through the days.  One is Orville Redenbacher’s 94% fat-free popcorn.

Orville Redenbacher's® Gourmet® Popping Corn

The whole bag is only 3 Points on Weight Watchers and it really is a satisfying snack.  I have over the years mastered the art of slow popcorn eating (too bad I can’t master that with other foods!)  I can make that popcorn last through most of an episode of Law & Order!

Our other saving grace is strangely enough Tootsie Pops!! 

 We love them and go in search of them whenever our stash gets low.  We recently discovered that we can get them at Dollar Tree for…A Dollar!!  We had been buying them at Family Dollar but they were over $2.00.  We recently stocked up on them because we rely on them so much.

Do you think we’re covered for a while?!?!?  Gail had an old pretzel container and we decided that would be the best place for them. 🙂

We usually get the pack which they now consider their standard.  It has a lot of the original flavors, chocolate, cherry, grape and orange (no lime 😦  ) But it currently also has raspberry, green apple (not lime) and pomegranate.  It’s very funny watching us in the store.  There’s only a tiny window in the bag where you can see in.  We stand there poking at the bags to move the Pops around so we can take the bags that have the most of our favorites.

One of the good things about Tootsie is that they keep coming up with new flavor varieties, but the bad news is you can only get them for a short time.  We recently found this new one at Dollar Tree.

Wild Berry Flavors!!!  They are SO good!  Included are Wild Apple Berry, Wild Cherry Berry, Wild Mango Berry (my second favorite) and Wild Black Berry (my VERY favorite!!)  We all loved them!

We found them at one particular Dollar Tree.  I figured all of the stores carried the same thing at all of the stores…not so.  I went to the one that’s closer to us and there were none.  I even asked the manager…he said the stores don’t all get the same things…:-(

So when I had the chance to get back to the store were we originally found them…I bought 8 bags!!  I really keep itching to go back there and get some more, just to be safe.  But I think I’ll control myself right now. 😉

I did have a good dinner last night.  Ralph and I both had salads using up the last of the Artisan lettuce from last week and the last of the Big Salad from Sunday.

Dressed again with my balsamic vinaigrette with honey.  Very good.  

I love the convenience of having a big bowl of salad ready in the fridge.  I may do that today before I head to Gail’s house so that dinner will be easy again tonight.

Off to a busy day.  The Glee season finale is tonight!

Happy Tuesday!

Ten Years In The Making!

Sounds like a Hollywood Blockbuster…but really it’s just LASAGNA!! 

I don’t think it’s really ten years, but Ele says it is and since it was for her birthday, we’ll go with what she says! 😉

Ele loves my vegetable lasagna and I appreciate that fact and I decided that this year she needed it for her birthday.  I also decided it was a surprise.  These photos have been burning a hole in my memory card since Friday.  But since Ele is a faithful BCDC reader, I couldn’t post them until after Sunday when she was presented with her gift! 😉

I have to confess that my “recipe” is kind of fly by the seat of your pants.  I’ve made it various ways and since it really has been quite a while since I made it, I was searching my memory banks for how I did it before.  Here are the basics.

2 10 ounce packages of Cremini mushrooms, lightly sauteed in olive oil

1 large onion, sauteed with 3 packages of frozen spinach-defrosted.  (This of course, is the “after” shot!)

One 32 ounce and one 8 ounce container of part skim Ricotta cheese.  I probably didn’t need the 8 oz. container, but I used it anyway.  I liberally added ground black pepper, dried parsley and dried basil and mixed it all together.  When Ralph saw the bowl of it, he offered to eat it that way.  I declined his offer! 😉

One of the things I dislike about making lasagna is cooking the noodles…big pot…hot, escaping noodles…burned fingers. 😦  My friend Alice had the solution…

Put your noodles in a dish or pan that will allow them to lay flat.  Pour boiling water from your tea kettle over them.  She told me (after I did it!) that it helps to cover it.  I didn’t do that but it was great!  I did need to periodically nudge the noodles apart with a knife, but it was a wonderful, easy method.  That really is the part I hate the most about making lasagna, so I may do it more often now! 😉

Assembly line!!

Ta Da!!  The finished product!  Lots of mozzarella on top and in the various layers, too.

It kept well in the fridge until Sunday.  I took it out about 2 hours before I cooked it so that it could reach room temperature.  I cooked it at 350 degrees for one hour.  Be cause it was refrigerated, and probably still cold, I probably should have cooked it longer because I don’t think it was warm enough.  If you were assembling it and baking it right away, that would probably be sufficient time (depending on how hot your oven is.)  If you put it in the fridge like I did, it probably could have cooked for another 20 minutes or so.

The first cuts…

Accompanied by, of course…The Big Salad!!

Everyone thought the lasagna was great!  Oh, yeah…Ele LOVED her surprise!

After dinner, Kristen stopped by to help us celebrate.  And where did we celebrate?   Ice Cream Kids!

Ice Cream Faces…

Kristen and Ele, the Birthday Girl!

Uncle Ralph and Little Michael!

When we got back to Ele’s house, I sent Kristen off with a big container of the lasagna.  Got a text message from her later…she pronounced it “delicious!”

Ralph and I headed home and I was on my way back to Gail’s house.  I decided that under the circumstances, the lasgana leftovers would be appreciated, so I put it all in smaller containers and headed over there.  Gail and Alice both tasted it and said it was great.  And Alice doesn’t even LIKE mushrooms.  It made me feel good to make something like that and to share it with everyone.

I have no idea how I should count it on Weight Watchers, I had no time to figure that out.  Guess I’ll have to make it again soon in order to do that.  😉

I always feel that a gift of food is a gift of love.  When there’s nothing you can do, you do what you can. 

Good Grief!  I think it’s raining again!  Out into the Deluge!

Happy Monday!

A Walk In The Rain

Late Friday afternoon, Ele, Little Michael and I headed off to Chestnut Ridge Park in Mantua for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.  We were excited, but a little anxious that it might not go off because of the terrible weather.  It was drizzling when we left and continued to rain on and off during our drive.  We got there and there was a downpour! 😦  Ele braved the rain to check with the registration desk and they said the Walk was a go, rain or shine. 

Kristen arrived and she squeezed in with us in the car…

Kristen, Little Michael and the Gear!

As more of our team arrived, we found out where our campsite was and unloaded.

Kristen, Ele and Little Michael looking casual!

Setting up a tent…

A cute, scary pirate!

Lauren Hart, the voice of the Philadelphia Flyers, singing the National Anthem.  What a beautiful voice!

Of course food was involved!  We were lucky that our campsite was across from a lady selling food.  Kristen and I were SO excited to find that she had macaroni and cheese.


Kristen with hers!

Halfway through my SECOND batch of Diann’s fruit salad.  It was SO good!

The reason for the walk…the luminaria that commemorate those we have lost.

Little Michael as a saucy Storm Trooper, ready for the Crazy Hat lap!

The strange mist that covered everything that night.  Even though it was not raining, we were never dry.  One good thing…Carrie showed me how to turn off the flash on my camera when I wanted to take a picture in the available light…Hooray!! 🙂

One of my favorites…Boy With Tootsie Pop…

Sadly, I never did get a group shot of our team.  We were all the same team from last year, joined by Brian’s beautiful bride, Heather and his wonderful sister, Lisa.

I’ll finish up with something that everyone found so astonishing.  As we were starting the survivor’s lap where all of the cancer survivors who were present do a lap around the track,  we were blessed with a rainbow!! My photo doesn’t really do it justice, but here it is.

Last year, the Relay raised $43,000.  As of Saturday morning, we had raised $80,000!!  That is so incredible and donations are still coming in so we should get an update on the final total. You can still donate if you like by going to my page.  It is so great to see what can happen when people get together for a good cause.

Hope the rain stays away.  We’re off to celebrate Ele’s birthday…Again!! 😉

Happy Sunday!

Why I Walk

Last year I had the first opportunity to experience the American Cancer Society Relay For Life. This afternoon I will start walking again and if the rain holds out, I will be walking all night long.  From 6pm until 6am.  That’s how it works.

As you can imagine it is a fund-raising event for the ACS.  Our niece Carrie was the impetus behind it in our family.  She started our team, called Elvis In The Attic in memory of her mother in law, Cheryl.  Cheryl was an incredible person, an irreplaceable part of our family and one of the bravest people I have ever know.  After an 8 year battle, and I do mean battle because she was a fighter, we lost her in February of 2006. 

This is our team from last year…Kristen, Terri, Diann, Elvis, Brian, Ele, Little Michael, Me and Carrie.

This is a photo of Cheryl at her son Patrick’s wedding along with her Dad, Gordy.

This is Cheryl with Patrick as a baby.

We miss her.

Another person I walk for is my cousin LuAnn…she is my hero.

She is courageous and she is WINNING THE FIGHT!!  We are all so proud of her.  We always have been proud of her, this just increases our admiration.  We love her so much! 🙂

There are other friends and family members who have over the years waged war on this terrible disease.  We are proud of them for their fight and their success and we are so glad to still have them in our lives.

Most of all, I walk for my niece Mary Ellen.

This is Mary with her brother Patrick when she was a soccer superstar…or Honey Bee…which every you’d like!

This is one of my favorite pictures of Me with Mary and Little Michael on Halloween when he was 1 year old.

You’ve seen lots of photos of Little Michael.  He is Mary’s son.  He was not quite 4 years old when we lost Mary.  A child shouldn’t lose his Mother at that age, but it happened and we can’t change that.  We can work to help end this terrible disease.

I ask you all to donate to the American Cancer Society Relay For Life.  You can still donate by going to my page.  It’s quick and easy and your donation could help to save a life. 

No child should lose his mother for any reason…

Please donate so that it doesn’t happen again.  

The theme of the Relay For Life is “More Birthdays.”  Today I’d like to wish Happy Birthday to the best sister in the world.

Ele, Little Michael and Grandmom Gross.

Happy Birthday, Ele!! 🙂

Laugh And The World Laughs With You

Well at least Ralph will!  Sometimes… 😉

After a long rainy day doing various errands with Gail and Alice stepping in rain puddles and getting moldy feet ( just joking!)  I finally got home.  Ralph was not feeling terrific and asked for sandwiches for dinner.  Easy for me and if he was satisfied, that’s all that matters to me.

I decided on a stir fry for me.  I had some veggies in the fridge that were begging to be used or they would commit suicide in there.

I had asparagus that was really the worse for wear.  That’s one veggie that does not like to live in the fridge for too long.  Note to self.  Along with it I had garlic, of course, red and green bell pepper and frozen edamame.  I also had leftover bulgur from earlier in the week.  It is so tasty, I’m keeping that on my go-to list!  Next time I think I’ll try cooking it in veggie broth or adding some herbs.  Yum!

I added some veggie broth to this so that the frozen edamame would cook.  I added lots of ground black pepper and some dried basil.

Either I’ve been transported to San Francisco or this was a hot and steamy dish of deliciousness!! 😉

This was the real shot, topped with Locatelli cheese. 

Ralph didn’t say much while he was eating and I was eating and we were watching TMZ (oh…the Guilty Pleasure of it!!)

When I finished eating I said to him, “sometimes I cook something and it’s good.”  I then said “…and sometimes I make something that’s SO good!!!”  He got hysterical and I wasn’t sure why.  He told me, with the way I had started the sentence, he thought I was going to say that tonight’s dinner was NOT good.  It was delicious and I’m not actually sure why it was so good.  In any case it was delicious and filling (I keep saying that a lot lately, but that’s important!)

I only snacked on fruit later.  Good Job!

Just a reminder to all of you that I will be participating in the American Cancer Society Relay For Life on Friday, May 20. 

If you’d like to donate for someone you know who has experienced this, please go to my page to donate.  Every donation is appreciated and we all thank you for it.

After all of this rain, it looks like the sun is coming out.  Thank goodness, because I have to go grocery shopping and I hate to do that in the rain!

Happy Thursday! 🙂