Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve 2011

We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. 

The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day. 
~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Friday, December 30, 2011

American Airlines ticket scam email

I just received an email from "American Airlines" (, titled "Your Order#7672627"   It has a zip file attached, and the email encourages me to open it.

No, I did not order any plane tickets, and No, I'm not clicking on that file, thanks very much.

A quick search on Google revealed that this is a common scam--the destination and flight number are different, but the overall gist of the email is the same. The file contains a phishing virus that will trash my computer if I open it.

Not going to fall for it, and I hope no one else does, either, which is why I'm posting the info here.

It's been said before, but it bears repeating: Don't click on ANY files unless you are certain about the sender. If you're unsure, take a few extra moments to do a quick internet search using portions of the email and the word "scam".   The Snopes website ( is also a great resource for these types of things.  Here's their page confirming this email as a scam:

The same goes for those email forwards from well-meaning friends and family (you know who you are--STOP sending me that stuff!) who insist on disseminating spam filled with dire warnings meant to breed panic (such as the "hypodermic needle hidden under the movie theater seat" or the "man hiding in the back seat of your car at the gas station").   They're usually completely false, and even when there's a grain of truth to it, the email has distorted the information to make it utterly useless. Again, before you hit "forward"--don't! And if you still feel you must "just in case", then at least take a second to head over to Snopes and see if there's any truth to it.

Here's the text of the scammer email I received:


ELECTRONIC 133861167
DATE & TIME / JANUARY 28, 2012, 10:33 AM

Please find your ticket attached.
To use your ticket you should print it.

Thank you
American Airlines.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Ways of Truth and Love

"When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

--Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

It was another wonderful Christmas again this year. I hosted a traditional La Festa dei Setti Pesci (The Feast of Seven Fishes) on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Dinner the next day. There's nothing better than spending time with family, enjoying each other's company, and being grateful for all of the blessings that have come our way over the past year.

Dressing up our dog in holiday finery was just the icing on the cake.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sage advice from an 11-year-old

I was out running errands tonight in the pouring rain with my youngest daughter. At one point, I explained why I was taking a slightly different route than usual: road conditions were slick and visibility was low, so I took a path that consisted of mostly right turns. It wasn't the most direct path, but it was the safest, especially during rush hour.

She said it reminded her of one of her favorite expressions:
"If nothing is going right...go left!"

We talked about how that was good advice, whether you took it literally or as a metaphor for something deeper.  If you're on a road where you can't make a right turn, you just have to go a little past it, make a left, and double back to get there.

The metaphoric application is far more interesting, of course: if Life isn't going in the direction that you'd planned, you need to adapt and take a totally different path. Switch things up, do the unexpected, and see where it leads.

Wise words, indeed.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Fire in the Dryer!

Had some unexpected excitement this past Thursday: the lint in my clothes dryer caught fire.

I was VERY lucky.  I was home, standing right next to the dryer when it ignited, and I had a fire extinguisher close by.   I was able to put the flames out before the smoke got bad, and knew how to pop open the front of the dryer to access the part that was burning.  I had the flames extinguished within about a minute, and the fire did not spread through the ducting to the walls.

I have long been aware of the dangers of lint build-up in a dryer, and learned how to remove the front panel to vacuum the dryer out periodically, which I do. Nevertheless, lint can build up quickly, especially if you're doing lots of towels and bedding and tablecloths (which, during holiday time, when you prep to have lots of family stay over, tends to happen).  That's what happened to me.

Many dryers have an automatic shut-off fuse that trips and shuts off the dryer when it starts to overheat.  My dryer was about 15 years old, but the fuse didn't help in this case because the lint started burning as soon as the ignitor started the dryer cycle.  I think the lint was clogged right next to the ignitor, so when I hit the switch, it sparked and caught.

I put the clothes in, pressed the start button, and within seconds, smelled something burning. I shut the dryer, unplugged it, and then looked down in front of the panel and immediately saw the unmistakable red/orange glow of a flame. Since it was unplugged, I knew it wasn't a pilot light, and smoke was starting to waft out and fill the room.

I opened the door to the garage to get some air and help vent the smoke out, then ran for the phone to call 911 and grab the kitchen fire extinguisher.  I secured the dog, opened the back door and front door of the house wide so that the Fire Department could come in, all while dialing the phone. There was a plumber heading to my neighbor's house who parked his truck in front of my house, so I told him I had a Fire Emergency, and to please move his truck because the Fire Department was on the way.

I grabbed a butter knife to try and pry the panel off the dryer so that I could spray the extinguisher, but I couldn't get the right side off (which was the side where the flame was).  I realized that opening the panel would probably send more smoke billowing towards my face, so decided to try spraying the extinguisher right into the gap between the panel and the rest of the machine. 

Meanwhile, the 911 dispatcher told me to just leave it alone and get out of the house.  I said I would, hung up, and decided to give the extinguisher a quick try before complying because the flame was still contained. It took me a few seconds to pull the red clip and figure out that I needed to push down on the top before pulling the trigger, but once I did, I sprayed the dryer with the fire extinguisher and white powder went everywhere. I didn't see any flame after that, so I popped the panel off (easier now that I was calmer) and sprayed it all again.

At that point, I got my dog and put him into the car, which was still parked in the garage. I realized that I'd better get the car out of there in case the fire had already spread to the walls.  I parked it in my other neighbor's driveway and--against the dispatcher's instructions--went back into the house to grab my cell phone.

I should note at this point that I was fairly certain the fire was out, but yes, it was probably not the smartest thing to do, and I don't advise others to follow my example.
At that point, a policeman arrived, and I heard the worker tell him, "She just ran back into the house." Thanks, dude. Way to get me in trouble with the cop.

I knew the officer and asked him to come in and help me check to make sure the basement was clear, because I have two cats down there that I needed to get out. He came in, and I asked him to feel the wall behind the dryer, which I couldn't quite reach, and it was cold--a good sign.  Then he said he wanted to check the vent where it comes out of the house to see if there was smoke. We went around to the back of my house, where the vent emerges under my deck (yes, a very stupid and inaccessible spot for it--but that's where the builder put it) and all seemed okay.  Then we opened the door to the basement and didn't smell anything burning, so that was a good sign, too.

At that point, two more police cars, the Fire Inspector and a fire truck arrived.  I took one of the firefighters down to the basement, secured the cats so that I could make a break for it in case things turned dangerous, while he checked the ceiling (where the ducting fed out of the house) with a heat meter.  All was well.

The firefighters took readings with the heat meter all around the dryer, as well as the walls and ceilings in the rooms above and below. They shut the gas to the dryer and took it out of the house for me.

I feel very fortunate to have been able to douse the fire so quickly. The inspector said it was a good thing I had a fire extinguisher in the house--most people don't.  It costs around $25, and is well worth the piece of mind. They're a "one-time use" thing, though, so I made sure I replaced mine right away.

If you've taken the time to read through this entire post, I hope you'll do me one more favor: promise me you will NEVER run your clothes dryer, or any other household appliance (such as a dishwasher or washing machine) when you're not home and able to check on it.  I have spoken to friends about what happened, and so many of them confessed that they leave their washer and/or dryer running while they're sleeping, or while they're out running errands, or even when they have kids (teenagers or pre-teens) home alone in the house.  Not a good idea.

I know, it can be a real time saver to have a load of dishes getting cleaned while you sleep or run errands, but refraining from doing so can be a life saver.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has some great safety tips on their website: Overheated Clothes Dryers Can Cause Fires. If you have a minute, check it out. And please, stay safe!


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hate is a strong word

There's a new television show premiering tonight, the title of which is "I Hate My Teenage Daughter."


I have three daughters, two of whom are teenagers. I've also been a teenage girl: granted, that was many moons ago, but I still remember what it was like.  The teenage years are a difficult time for parents and their kids. There's the old joke that once you have teenagers, you finally understand why some animals eat their young.  I get it--the hormones and mood swings and the constant battles as they struggle to assert their independence can be exhausting and emotionally draining.

But, c'mon. HATE?

There are times when my teenagers frustrate me, but even when they are fraying at my very last nerve, I still love them more than anything in this world. And, I make sure they know it, even as they're storming up to their rooms thinking I'm mean and unfair and way too strict.

I know, some will say, "Oh, where's the harm? It's just the title of a TV show. It's no big deal."  I disagree.

Being a teenager is incredibly difficult. You're at a stage of your life where you're just starting to discover who you really are and what you want out of life.  You're leaving behind old friendships and fostering new ones. You're learning to take responsibility for your actions, and accepting the consequences that go along with the decisions you make. You're growing, and maturing, and there's a lot that is expected of you.

The teenage years are a scary time, when the only thing you need more than wings to fly with is a soft place to land.  A parent's most important role is to be that soft place, no matter what.
What bothers me most is that putting out a show with a title like that implies that it's okay to hate your kids. It's not. Sure, you can hate the angst and the drama and the stress that comes along with having a teenager, but you always, always, ALWAYS love your child.  And you need to let them know that.

Especially when they're teenagers.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Giving thanks

Last week was Thanksgiving, which has become a very bittersweet time for me. It's a time to reflect on all of the blessings in your life, and a time to appreciate the people and things and moments for which you are grateful.
This year, Thanksgiving fell on November 24th, the 5th anniversary of the day my father died. It's a sad time of year for me, and yet, I can't help but smile when I think of him. He was a wonderful, caring, loving man, and I was extremely lucky to have him in my life for as long as I did. I still feel the pain of his loss every single day, but I feel his presence with me every single day, too. That brings me some measure of comfort.

But still. I miss him.

There is a void in my life since his death that I haven't been able to fill. I don't know that I'm supposed to, really. It's like an immovable obstacle that suddenly appears in your path, one that you cannot change no matter how hard you try, so you eventually learn to just work around it and go about your business. It becomes part of the fabric of your everyday life. You don't like it, but you get used to it.

Today, I spoke with an acquaintance who shared some terrible news with me: her 22-year-old niece died in a car accident a week and a half ago,  and a few days later, her beloved dog of 16 years also died. All of this happened within days of Thanksgiving.

As a mother myself, it's nearly impossible to see anything positive or helpful spring forth from a tragedy like this.  No parent should ever have to cope with the unspeakable burden of burying their own child. But, I did find myself taking comfort in the fact that the dog died within a few days of the girl's if the dog sensed her owner's grief, and decided it was her time to go so that she could watch over the niece as she transitioned to the other side.

I know, it sounds hokey and spiritual and "out there," but I do believe that there is a life after this one. That who we are, our spirit, our essence, lives on.  I know, with certainty, that my father lives on. And that one day, I will see him again.

Until then, I will have to be content with the small, fleeting glimpses that keep hope alive in this world. The wonderful-but-all-too-rare visions of him, dreams of seeing him and talking with him and seeking his counsel. The unmistakable feeling that he is present, here with me now, as I type this, and at some future point in time, as you read this, watching over us both. 

Monday, November 21, 2011


One of my favorite websites:

They sell "demotivational" posters like this one:

If you have a sarcastic/ironic sense of humor, you'll love this site. If not...nevermind!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Natalie Wood's Death: Finally Some Answers?

Thirty years ago, on November 29, 1981, Natalie Wood drowned while on a boating trip with her husband, Robert Wagner,  and her movie co-star, Christopher Walken. I remember hearing about the murder, and feeling awful because she'd always talked about how fearful she was of the water. Drowning was one of her worst nightmares, and it's terrible that she had to die that way. There were rumors that she was drunk and fell overboard, but nothing was ever proven.

The circumstances surrounding her death always seem so hazy, with lots of unanswered questions as to exactly how it happened. Now, the Los Angeles sheriff's office says they have new information that has led them to re-open the investigation.

In 2009, Robert Wagner wrote about the events of that evening, and for me, they raised more questions than answers.  He talked about how they argued that night, and how much their entire party had been drinking. You can read his version of events HERE at the UK Daily Mail's website.

I hope this case is finally solved soon.

A Plastic Dragon!

This is very cool.

I love when art projects involve using ordinary, everyday items and transforming them to create something extraordinary.  Here, an artist creates a dragon sculpture using only plastic cups, spoons, and forks.

You can read the original post about it here:

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Embrace Your Braces!

On Monday, my youngest daughter got her braces. She was a real trooper throughout the process, even though her teeth were very sore the next day.

The night before she had her braces put on, she hosted an "Embrace Your Braces" party.  She invited over a few close friends and served all of the things that she won't be able to eat for the next 12 to 18 months: fruit chews, popcorn, gummi gushers, fruit roll-ups, etc. 

Congratulations, this time next year, you'll have the nicest, most perfect teeth in the family!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Baby #20 for 45-year-old Michelle Duggar

Duggar Family Announcement: Baby #20 on the way



It's Election Day 2011. Please take the time to get to your local polling place and vote.

I sincerely hope the protesters at Occupy Wall Street and similar demonstrations across the country will exercise their right to vote. Spending your days camped out in a public park, holding up a sign and shouting catchy phrases for the TV cameras about being the 99% or fighting corporate greed--that's your right as an American.

But all of the shouting and demands and shaking your fist at the sky don't have nearly the power that the simple act of casting your vote could have.  Don't tell me there aren't any good choices out there--if you don't like the representative from your area, then run for office yourself. Get involved and make a real difference.

It's easy to stand up and criticize and point out the problems that face our country. How about you try being a part of the solution?


Monday, November 7, 2011

The Hunger Games

My middle daughter loved this book, and can't wait until the movie comes out because she's in love with one of the stars (Josh Hutcherson).  I've heard great things about the book series, so I finally got around to picking it up.

I loved it. I finished it in a day, and blew through the sequel (Catching Fire) in half a day.  I'm waiting to start the third and final volume in the series, Mockingjay, because I know once I start I won't be able to put it down.

The Hunger Games: a futuristic, fast-paced adventure story, with a bit of teen angst and romance thrown in for good measure. Highly recommended!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Our last Halloween before she gets braces. Enjoy the sticky stuff while you can, Pirate Girl!

Why Bradford Pear Trees Are Not A Good Choice

Fifteen years ago, the developer who built the houses on my street decided to plant two Bradford pear trees in each front yard.  The effect was stunning, especially for those two weeks a year when they flowered with beautiful white blossoms.

About 3 years ago, a landscaper friend warned me that Bradford pears are notoriously weak trees, and that once they reached the 10-12 year mark, they start losing branches and breaking in the winter.  Sure enough, that year, two neighbors lost trees to the snow and ice.  The following year, my own Bradford pear bit the dust.

And this week, we had an unusual October snowstorm.  The combination of heavy snow on the not-yet-fallen leaves proved too much, and every one of my neighbors saw their trees split and crumble.  My block looks like a war zone right now.

Word to the wise: you're better off with a flowering dogwood or cherry blossom tree.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October Snow

Early snowstorm here in the Northeast, and the trees and flowers in my neighborhood are NOT happy.  We've lost power briefly a couple of times, so I'm posting this while I can.  As I'm typing, I can hear loud "CRACK" sounds coming from outside...the trees on my street are dropping, one by one.  My next door neighbor's tree came down across our driveway just a few seconds after my husband pulled his car into the garage. He and his car are fine...our mailbox wasn't quite as lucky.
My mailbox, or what's left of it. No bills for us, today!

This is the view looking up towards the top of my street.
Access is completely blocked by downed branches.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Food: Wild Boar Ragu with homemade Pappardelle Pasta

I saw Anne Burrell make this last week on The Food Network and knew I had to try it.  Finding the wild boar meat wasn't too of my local grocery stores just got in shipment of wild boar roasts, so I lucked out.  It took a long time to make--over 4 hours including prep time--but was absolutely delicious.

I had a little trouble with the pappardelle (can't seem to get the hang of it, it always ends up too thin), so I ended up making wide fettucine instead. It held the sauce well and I was happy with the end result. I forgot to take a picture of it while it was on the plate, so here it is in a not-so-fancy plastic storage container, ready to go into the fridge to save for a quick lunch during the week.  I know it's hard to tell from this photo (which I took with my crappy cell phone) but the color of the ragu is a rich, deep brown with red undertones. The boar was good. You can definitely taste the difference from beef, but it's not exactly like pork, either. It picked up the flavor of the red wine and was very tender after cooking all day.

Here's a link to the recipe: Papparadelle with Wild Boar Ragu

Dog Day Afternoon

Yesterday, we attended the annual DogFest event, hosted by a local animal rescue organization.  Our dog, Scooter, had a great time meeting and greeting dozens of fellow canines who turned out with their owners to support this great festival.
We adopted Scooter from an animal rescue group three years ago this month. We don't know exactly what breed he is (the vet says he's part beagle, and others swear he's got Australian kelpie in him) but he has been a wonderful and much-loved addition to our family.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Way of Grace

If we need to change
and we do not do it on our own
oftentimes the world steps in
and does whatever it must
to make the change happen.
One way invites grace,
the other does not.
Choose the way of graceful change.
Do what needs to be done.
--Daniel Levin

From his book "Zen Life"

©2009 by Daniel Levin

I bought Mr. Levin's book a few months ago. It's billed as an "Open-at-Random Book of Guidance. Lots of great stuff there. Check it out.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Last Lecture, 6 years later

Today marks six years since Randy Pausch took the stage at Carnegie Mellon University and delivered "The Last Lecture."  He was an extraordinary man and served as an inspiration to millions of people, including me. I have a copy of the lecture in book form, but there's no substitute for seeing Pausch deliver the lecture himself:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Her Last Goodbye

Watched the GOP debate on MSNBC. Am I the only sap who cried when they showed Reagan's funeral? I don't care what your political leanings are: watching Nancy Reagan press her cheek to Ronnie's coffin was heart wrenching. Makes me want to wrap my husband in bubble-wrap for the forseeable future.

Pokemon Center - NYC

We took a day trip in to NYC with the girls today. We stopped at the Pokemon Center store in midtown (10 Rockefeller Plaza), which is filled with every type of Pokemon plush toy you can imagine.

Pikachu is still my favorite.

On the upper level of the store, you'll find all things Nintendo, including Super Mario Brothers.

Then we headed downstairs to the underground Concourse at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (a great place to shop and visit when you're in NYC on an inclement weather day) and had some hot chocolate at the Jacques Torres store.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake along the East Coast

There was an earthquake at around 2pm today in Virginia, a 5.8 on the Richter scale. It was felt as far away as Massachusetts. Here in the NY/NJ area, friends reported seeing shaking computer screens, desk items falling over, etc.

I was in a store at the time. I thought my cell phone was vibrating in my back pocket. Took it out, checked it, put it away and kept on shopping. Then the fire alarm went off for about 30 seconds. I didn't smell smoke...clearly a false alarm. Hey, look, nachos are on sale!

This does not bode well for my survival reflexes in the event of the Apocalypse.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Think of the haters in your life as sandpaper: they'll scratch you up time and again, but in the end, you're polished and spotless, while they end up useless.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Forever 21? I don't think so.

Nothing like a trip to the "Forever 21" store to realize I most certainly am not.

It made me think of this spot-on commercial spoof from "So Random" for "Your Daughter's Closet":

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

20 years and still going strong

Happy Anniversary to my love, my best friend, my sweetheart.
20 years!  Here's to many, many more.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Saturday, July 23, 2011

View from the Lake House

We're on vacation at Lake Winnipesaukee in New first time visiting the "Live Free or Die" State.
This is our view off the back deck. Absolutely beautiful!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Fun: Pick Your Own

Pick your own blueberries!
Peaches. Lots of 'em.
Today we went to a local farm to pick blueberries and peaches, and it was a great way to spend the day. The sun was shining and it was hot but we went early before it got too bad. The blueberries were at their peak, and we loaded up our baskets fairly quickly (and yes, there was some sampling along the way).  Then we moved on to the peach orchard for pick-your-own peaches.  Those weren't quite as ready, so it was more of a challenge to find (and reach) the ones that were ripe enough for picking. 
Once we got home, we made blueberry pie and peach cobbler. We still have tons of fruit leftover (we picked wayyyyy too many peaches) so tomorrow, I'll be making preserves. LOTS of them.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Road Warrior

This is it...the day I have dreaded for 17 years is finally here.

My daughter got her Driver's License.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

High School Grad!

I can't believe my firstborn is now a high school graduate. How is this possible? Where did the years go?? Wasn't she just in the other room fingerpainting? Yes, yes I'm sure she was.

And yet, today, she graduated high school, with honors and a couple of awards and even a few local scholarships. We're so incredibly proud of her. She worked hard to achieve this well-earned success, and I know there's more of that to come.

In just 2 short months, she'll be college-bound to a terrific university about two hours away. Just far enough to be independent, but close enough that I can drop everything and get there if she needs me. She'll be fine, I know she will.

Me? That remains to be seen.

Congratulations, Christina. I'm truly happy for you, baby. I know that you have a bright future ahead of you, and that you will love your years at college. In fact, you will probably look back on these years as some of the best ones of your life. It'll be great!

Just pay no attention to that sobbing mother behind the curtain.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Golfing in Ireland

My husband went on a golf trip to Ireland this month with a group of friends, and THIS is where they stayed.

So. Jealous.

It reminds me of the houses in the movie Pride & Prejudice. I don't care if it's old and musty and drafty with ancient plumbing and no cable...I would live in a place like this in a heartbeat.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thinking about my daughter's teacher this morning, who lost her husband on 9/11 in the WTC attack. A death is never something to 'celebrate' but at least the man responsible for killing so many innocent people is no longer breathing the same air we do. Osama Bin Laden lived for 10 years afterwards, so I still don't feel like it's "justice", but at least it's something.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Much Ado About the Royal Wedding 2.0

I can still remember back in 1981, setting my alarm clock to get up early and watch the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles. It was the event that catapulted all things Royal into the celebrity stratosphere, with non-stop coverage of every last detail. Key moments such as Diana's endearing flub of Charles' name during their vows and, of course, the kiss on the balcony, were replayed over and over on every channel.

We all know that the fairytale ended badly for Diana, and yet billions of people still tuned in for the Royal Wedding 2.0 with Prince William and Kate Middleton yesterday. There wasn't nearly the same build-up and excitement this time around, but the media coverage on the day of the wedding was, as expected, widespread and intense.

Almost thirty years older now and a bit more jaded than my 14-year-old self, I didn't go out of my way to watch the festivities this time. I did turn on the TV at some point yesterday morning, in time to see the newly-married couple leaving the church together. As they rode off in the carriage towards Buckingham Palace, a beaming Kate turned to William and said simply, "I'm so happy."

At which point, I smiled, shut the TV, and went about my day, saying a silent prayer for them both that their happiness endures. Although I didn't find myself caught up in the hoopla this time, I certainly didn't begrudge others who took enjoyment from watching the pomp and circumstance and taking part in the day vicariously through the media coverage.

To be sure, there were other important newsworthy events happening at the same time, but one thing I've learned about tragedy and bad news: they've got a lot more staying power than euphoria and good news. The devastation caused by tornadoes in the Southern U.S., the rioting in Syria, the dire economic situation across the globe...the wedding is over now, and all of these things are still with us waiting to be dealt with. Is it really so awful a transgression for the media to temporarily pull back from the horrors of hard news to bring us a bit of fluff and silliness from across the pond? I don't think so.

Of course, not everyone agreed, and I did witness some backlash from those who felt the media was shirking its responsibility by covering such lightweight fare. What I find disconcerting is the lengths to which some folks went to rail against the Royal Wedding. I had one friend who was so desperate to vent his anger over the media coverage, he created an entire page on a social networking site to express just how much he didn't care about the whole thing, complete with uploaded photos and videos and all sorts of angry comments. All day long.

Um...oooookay, then.

It seems to me that those who truly don't care to hear about frivolous events like the Royal Wedding would be better served ignoring them completely. Creating a page to promote your feelings about an event you feel is being promoted too does that make sense?

When I called him on it, he concluded that I did not have a proper appreciation for satire. Not true. I appreciate good satire, not bitter rantings that accomplish nothing other than spreading negativity. This type of reverse schadenfreude--reaping misery from other people's happiness--seems every bit as pointless to me as waking up at 4am to don a fancy hat and watch a couple you've never met (and probably never will) get married thousands of miles away. But at least the latter activity isn't aimed at making anyone else feel bad about the choices they make. Is it really so difficult to live and let live, even just for a day?

If you think there are other, more important things worth discussing--then do it. If you're upset about the civil unrest in the Middle East, or those who have lost their homes due to natural disasters, then use your energy to do what you can to help. Spread the word about relief efforts, tell your friends how they can send aid where it is needed, visit online news sites that are covering these truly important events so that they will register the page hits on those stories you think they ought to be covering, thereby encouraging them to do even more of it.

We are each entitled to our own opinions, and entitled to express those opinions how we see fit. I just think that if you have a point you want to make, then finding a positive, productive way to do it makes a heck of a lot more sense.

And to the new Duke & Duchess of Cambridge: Congratulations. I did not buy you a present, did not watch you exchange your vows, and did not make a champagne toast to your future. But I wish you well all the same.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter 2011

Christmas Eve is my favorite holiday, but Easter is a close second. I love getting the girls dressed up for church (although, these days, they take care of most of the primping themselves), I love any excuse to eat chocolate, and I love passing on holiday traditions. Starting the day off with Mass, and then eating ourselves into oblivion...what could be better?

This year, I made a batch of rainbow cookies (aka seven layer cookies) with my eldest daughter, and some pignoli cookies. I'll also be making dandelion soup, a traditional Southern Italian dish that my grandmother used to make every year.

Wishing you a Blessed & Happy Easter!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Happy Birthday Joyce!

Took a trip to visit my cousin Joyce in Virginia this weekend to celebrate a "milestone" birthday with her. In a nod to all of the Saturdays we spent at our grandparents' house in Brooklyn, I gave her a bottle of Absolut Brooklyn vodka (special edition by Spike Lee).  I have no idea how the stuff tastes--not a big vodka fan--but it says it's flavored with apple and ginger. I also made some shot glasses for her to add to her collection.

I had a great time visiting with family and made some wonderful new friends, too. Thanks for the invite, Joyce, and Happy Birthday!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

St. Joseph's Day traditions

Today we celebrate The Feast of St. Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the human father of Jesus. For Italian Americans, especially those of Sicilian descent, we commemorate this day by giving thanks to St. Joseph for all of his intercessions and help throughout the year. It's a day when we gather together and set up an altar or table to St. Joseph, upon which we place items like food, fresh fruit, and delicious pastries. Fava beans are set out for good luck, and to remind us of how the fava was a staple crop that helped keep the people of Sicily from going hungry during a time of terrible drought. We also adorn the altar--which has 3 tiers or levels to represent the Holy Trinity--with candles, along with notes of gratitude or prayers to St. Joseph.

My local UNICO chapter gathers together each year for a St. Joseph's Day dinner, and my favorite dish is Pasta con Sarde. It's spaghetti with sardines and bread crumbs, and it is a traditional choice for St. Joseph's Day because the bread crumbs represent sawdust, which was an ever-present thing in the life of St. Joseph, who was a carpenter.

I know for most people, March is all about celebrating St. Patrick. While I do enjoy the "wearing o' the green", La Festa di San Giuseppe will always hold a special place in my heart.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Snapshots from Captiva Island, Florida

Enjoyed another great family trip to Captiva this month. Here's a shot of one of the many gorgeous sunsets we enjoyed during our stay. Unlike last year's Winter Break when we had an unseasonably cold, rainy streak , the weather this year was sunny, warm, and absolutely perfect.

Captiva Island, off the coast of Ft. Myers in Florida, is one of our favorite places in the world. It has beautiful beaches, casual restaurants with excellent food, and a laid-back vibe that my family and I love. It's also well-known for its seashelling opportunities, although I confess, I have boxes of collected shells sitting in a closet here that we brought home to turn into craft projects that will probably never materialize. Ah well...

<--This is RC Otters, a casual eatery that has something for everyone on the menu. Our favorites are Gator bites (yes, as in alligator) and the Oyster Po'Boy sandwich. The burgers are great, too.

These are some examples of the food you'll find at Tween Waters Inn, a hotel that has a terrific restaurant with windows that offer spectacular views of the sunset. Also the ideal place to watch holiday fireworks. On the left was a roasted duck dish, and on the right is the famous Key Lime Pie.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Who needs 3 lbs of chocolate?

No one. It's an obscene amount of sugar. Way too much.

But that doesn't mean I'm not eating this entire box.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Italian Heritage Day: Treasures from Home

Today, the Italian American service group I belong to held it's annual "Heritage Day." It was a great event, with over 100 people in attendance. We had traditional Italian foods available for tasting, one of our members gave an Italian language lesson, and a professional opera singer sang some beautiful arias. I helped pull together a display of items and artifacts from Italy, modeled after the "Treasures from Home" display at the Ellis Island museum. Here are some photos of the items we had on display, including an old football (soccer) jersey, dolls, housewares, documents and more.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Christie's Town Hall

Went to the first Town Hall of the year today, where Governor Christie took questions from the crowd and talked for about an hour about issues that concern residents of New Jersey. He discussed the Christie Reform Agenda and challenged everyone there to join him in making the changes necessary to put New Jersey back on track.  He talked a lot about "shared sacrifice," and how all state workers are going to have to kick in more for their healthcare if we want the system to stay afloat.  The Governor was in fine form today: funny, engaging, and as usual, very quick on his feet.  He's got a tough job to do, but he certainly seems up to the task.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Attended Governor Christie's State of the State address today. The overall message: we're still in a tough spot, budget-wise, but things are better than they were last year at this time. We've made some progress, but still have a long way to go.  Reforms are necessary in order to keep the pension system afloat, and both parties are going to have to work together to get things accomplished this year.  Here's hoping!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dying Birds in Arkansas: A Theory

Earlier this week, over 1000 blackbirds fell from the sky in Arkansas, dead on arrival. Conspiracy theories abound as to what may have caused this mass flash mob of death. Allow me to add my two cents' worth:

I think it was caused by a military weapon, one that uses sound waves to disrupt the molecular structure of a particular species. First, it was blackbirds. Then, hundreds of thousands of drum fish were found dead in the Chesapeake Bay. Today, it was reported that another 500 birds were found dead in Louisiana.

I'm not buying the "official" theory that a weather disturbance caused this. Perhaps that's plausible for the birds, who are airborne, but what about the fish in the water? And why only that one species of fish?

Several years ago, I did some research on the work of Royal Raymond Rife. He was heralded as "The Man Who Cured Cancer." His work in the 1930s was based on the fact that molecules can be disrupted when exposed to a particular frequency, as evidenced when an opera singer hits a High C and shatters a glass. The molecules in the glass are disrupted at that frequency, so the glass breaks.

Rife speculated: what if we can find the frequency that disrupts the molecules of cancer cells? If we target those cells with a sound wave at that exact frequency, it will obliterate the cancer cells while leaving the healthy, non-cancerous cells intact.

I won't debate the veracity of his research and experiments here, but the bottomline is that at some point Rife fell out of favor with the medical community (supposedly because they realized how much they stood to lose if the lucrative business of cancer treatment/drug therapy/hospitalization were eliminated) and his research was abandoned.

My theory: someone has expanded on Rife's initial research, and has built a large scale Rife Frequency Generator. They have used modern-day DNA technology to hone in and identify the genetic markers specific to certain species, such as red-winged blackbirds and drum fish, and they've also figured out the frequency at which their molecules would be disrupted. They've put all of it together to create the perfect weapon of mass destruction: silent and effective on a large scale.

I hope I'm wrong.