Posts Tagged ‘Memorial Day’


La Vien en Rose in early Spring

La Vie en Rose in early Spring

This photo was taken probably in early April before the rose bush’s leaves opened.

OMG what a day! I worked from morning till night doing all kinds of things; AND I’m going to tell you about all of them.  Why? Well, because if you’re fortunate enough to have a family member or friend who has a cottage and you get an invitation to visit sometime this summer, I want you to know that a lot goes into making La Vie en Rose and every other beach house a great place to stay.

Today, Sunday, has been the nicest day so far this Memorial Day Weekend, considered by all to be the unofficial beginning of summer.  Our street was filled with the cars of visitors who parked and went off to the beach.  That’s what we used to do when we would go to the Shore for the weekend.  But those days are long gone…..

I started off the morning shaking out the throw rugs, then I dust-mopped the kitchen and bathroom floor with my Swifter.  Then I washed both floors.  Peter had gone to get me coffee and while he was gone, I cleaned the litter box, put last night’s dishes away and made the bed.

When he returned with my Grandé Americano, I made us a breakfast of bacon, eggs and English muffins.  That was the last time I sat down!

While Peter washed the breakfast dishes, I decided to vacuum the white area rugs which are here and there though out the cottage and are too light weight to be vacuumed with the Hoover, so I use the Dust Buster to pick up all the pesky little specks.  After the third rug, the Dust Buster began to lose power – great!  And the day had just begun.  Downstairs to recharge the vacuum, I decide we must move the kitchen table so I can use the Hoover vacuum on the radiator where dust and cobwebs left over from the winter are probably residing. Moving the table is a two-man job and now that it is halfway out into the working part of the kitchen and the 4 chairs are scattered about, it’s kind of tight in there to maneuver.  My husband agrees he should clean the radiator and I tackle the window. I  took the curtains down and shook them out and noticed how dusty the window sill was and how dirty the window was – a lot of rain and snow this winter!

I’ve been harping about repainting the window sills and frames since last year because they are layered with paint, some of which is cracking, some is chipping and basically they just look bad.  This ginormous task has been carefully avoided by Peter  up to now.  I started cleaning that nasty dirty area between the storm windows and the window sill.  Let me just remind you all that this cottage was built about 1888!  Peter brought out two scrapers and I began trying to smooth out the rough over-painted areas and removing the loose crackled pieces of paint.  I’m just going to skip over the fight we had about scraping versus non-scraping and then sanding because let me assure you, the window frames got scraped and sanded as I knew they would!

The scraping/sanding task also included washing the windows inside and out in the living room. To do so, I went outside on the front porch and  yuk another job to do.  But before I deal with the porch, I vacuumed the living room rug as well as the scrapings and sawdust in each window.  I had to move the BIG TV, God is it heavy, to get to window back there.  By the way, have I ever told you how much I dislike, bordering on hate, triple track storms and screens.  After dripping in WD-40, I finally got one of upper storm windows down so it could be washed inside and out.  Peter went upstairs to do the window frames and while he was up there, I thought he should vacuum the back porch which was covered in debris and leaves.

For 2 days the box of the porch candles has sat in the living room and I was determined to get them out on the glass tables (after I washed the tables naturally).  But first, back to the yukky porch which was really dirty (it was a long winter).  Peter washed the porch which means furniture was all over the place and some of it on the lawn.  Yesterday I filled the porch planter (which is like an outdoor window sill planter) with geraniums and petunias but didn’t attach it to the porch BECASUSE the porch wasn’t clean.  It gets tied in place to the railing spindles BUT they were dirty and spotted with mildew.  So out comes the Tilex and brush and rubber gloves as I tackle spindle after spindle scrubbing the mildew away and discovering that some of them were losing paint and OMG, rotting and will need to be replaced. It’s hard to work on the porch and not notice how black the front of the house is due to the traffic and dirt from the road.  More Tilex and more hosing down.  By this point I’m pretty wet.

I still had a wicker planter to fill with pink petunias, however that piece was in the garage and Peter had to go get it – “Not now”, he said, “Do something else”.  OK, I will transplant the mint.  Yes, I know it grows like a weed and because it does,  some has already sprouted up in areas other than the patch of lawn I gave it last year.  I had bordered that patch of ground with sea shells, some of which did not survive the winter.  So, as most of the other jobs have been going so far today, this one wasn’t going to be any different – Stop, get some sea shells from a stash I have in the shed and replace the broken ones before I start to transplant the errant mint into its rightful home.  Now that I’m on my hands and knees, I can see that the flagstone walkway is overgrown with grass and needs trimming.  I have to do this a couple of times each summer and am always surprised that the damn grass grows on top of the stone but not in the lawn!  At this level, I see a lot of areas that need hand trimming and yes, I did that too!

About this time, I realize that there are about 7 jobs in progress and none completely finished.  The furniture is still all over the kitchen, the porch furniture is scattered and the porch floor is wet and littered with paint chips.  I went back to the front of the house and made the mistake of looking up and saw that the porch ceiling should probably be repainted and certainly it was really dirty, so as I aimed the hose upward, the water came downward and I just got wetter. I asked Peter to go get the wicker planter, PLEASE!

As he filled the bird feeder,  I got the Round-UP out to kill the weeds that were popping up on the patio and between the blocks on the sidewalk.  That done, it was time to put the petunias in the wicker planter.  Uh oh, I don’t have enough dirt!  I dug some up where I plan to plant a basil plant but it really wasn’t enough.  I think there were 12 plants in the flat, however the flat was a plastic molded affair and it was really difficult to get the plants out.  There were a few casualties!  I squished them in together and HOPED that their dirt will blend together and I probably better buy some potting soil soon. I just hope they survive till I return next weekend.

Our neighbors strolled over and she noticed how stick like my hydrangeas were and informed me that I needed to cut back those stems because what I thought were buds were not and I should cut them all back to where there was some green growth near the bottom.  She offered me the use of her new clipper and now even though it was 6:30pm I tackled the two hydrangeas in the front and the one in the back.  Somebody has to tie up all these dead branches for the yard-waste pick-up. 

By the time the kitchen table and chairs were put back, the TV was put back, the porch furniture was put back (only to come off again BECAUSE the porch needs to be repainted) and the two vacuum cleaners emptied and put away, as well as the bottles of Tilex, Windex, Awesome, Simple Green and Fantastik, it was after 7pm.  I was most definitely NOT making dinner tonight.  

After a shower and two Tylenol (for my achey body), we ordered Chinese food!. Tomorrow is another day and after the Parade, I think Peter will repaint the front porch floor….this ole house! 



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This isn’t going to be a long blog.  Today is a point in case where a picture is worth a thousand words.  There are some holidays that really make me miss my Dad.  I always used to call him on Veteran’s Day; He was so proud of his naval service during World War II and then subsequently in later years he joined the Naval Reserve as an officer.  

However, this weekend is not about honoring those that served and lived to tell about it.  Memorial Day weekend is all about honoring those that died while serving the cause – whether you agree with the cause or not is irrelevant because some mother or father somewhere is mourning the loss of their child who went to war.  There are thousands and thousands of white crosses in cemeteries around this country….and yet we keep on sending our youth, our future, off to fight  wars on the other side of the world!  WTF?  WHERE is it written that the United States is the peace keeper of the world?  Or that it’s our business to decide what political group is running a country other than ours?  

I’m not going any further with this little rant because ALL I REALLY WANTED TO SAY was “It’s Memorial Day weekend and it’s not all about picnics and parties. 

photo courtesy of montyrainey.wordpress.com



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Liriope spicata (creeping lilyturf) A young va...

Liriope spicata (creeping lilyturf) A young variegated Liriope. Taken by Elf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why don’t we hear it?  We should know by now that when you hear the bands playing on the Fourth of July and the fireworks light up the night sky, that we are now on the downward slide towards Fall.  Fourth of July is like Wednesday is Hump Day.  Don’t you love the new Geico commercial?  It’s ok but I do love the Gecko best of all.

It’s one of the last Saturdays in August and a cool breeze is wafting through the front door and out the back door. Sometimes it’s good to have a small cottage.  It’s late morning and I can see by the slant of the sun shining in the window that this is NOT mid-summer anymore.  This is NOT the sticky hot humid heat we had in July.  This feels more like a September morning.  I remember this angle of sun so well – it reminds of playing tennis with friends after the kids had gone back to school.  The sun was warm in our arms but the breeze was there and you never sweated playing then.

When I went outside to retrieve the New York Times I noticed that the Liriope was blooming.  Slender stalks had shot up and were topped with tight little clusters of purple flora.  I felt a pang.  When spring arrives, that glorious time of year when we are rewarded for having endured yet another gray winter, we are treated to purple crocuses, purple grape hyacinths.  The sight of those little purple flowers can make your whole day, maybe even your whole week.  Why? Well we know then that spring has sprung and summer is on its way!  But when you see the purple lirope you know that summer is over; They are the last to bloom in my front yard.  

The forsythia came and went as did the daffodils, day lilies and astilbe and azalea plants.  I had a couple of beautiful peonies, my roses are still blooming and the hydrangeas were simple gorgeous this year.  The butterfly bush is bigger than ever and I thought for sure I had killed it when I hacked it down last fall.  The geraniums I bought on Memorial Day barely bloomed all summer but this week they are in full bloom.  This has been a very colorful spring and summer and I imagine autumn will soon bring its own palette.  When the gray days of January and February are upon us, I hope to remember the vivid colors of this summer; Not just my flowers, we’ve had blazing sunsets, a shore filled with a color wheel of beach umbrellas and this summer, toe nails in shades of blue, green, yellow and hot pink!

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English: Albert Einstein, official 1921 Nobel ...

Albert Einstein

Seriously, yes I am! I know I have been MIA for a couple of weeks and one might think the worst;  like “oh dear, she must be really sick” or “oh my things must be going badly for her right now”…

Well I’m here to say NOT SO!  I have been busy, busy, busy.  And of course I am over-committed so unlike Einstein, for some reason I don’t have enough hours in the day to do all that I want to do and I have pushed off writing a blog.  On the other hand since I am a staunch believer in the fact that people do what they want to do all the time, I may have to try to be more honest with myself and my readers.  

It’s true I have been working and the fruits of those labors came true when I was able to list a property for sale in my building.  It took a few visits and a lot of time spent staging it but it was well worth it.  I put it on the market on Friday and the first showings and Open House were on Sunday and on Monday we had one offer, on Tuesday we two offers, on Wednesday we had three offers. On Thursday I l left town to fulfill my other business obligation.  It’s not very easy to serve two masters in two different states even if they are adjacent.

Someone will surely suffer or both and neither will be happy and then I’ll be out on both accounts.  So this weekend I have to settle the issue and am dreading the conversation.  I don’t want to let anyone down, I commit and I stay with it, I take responsibility to a degree that actually is self-destructive by putting other people’s needs above my own.  This time my own level of stress has been so great that I am going to push through my anxiety and confront the issue.  So many factors to consider.

So busy with two jobs, running between two states and all the rest of life’s miseries still in place, although I haven’t written any blogs in two weeks, I have found time to play Scrabble, I did get a pedicure, I did have breakfast with a friend, I did play one game of Mah Jongg and I did go out one night to dinner and a show with friends and I did go to the doctor’s one day.   Well that’s the truth dear readers and I did all that rather than try to write a blog.  

Did I have writer’s block? No, my friend Gail has sent me several articles I have saved because I want to use the material.  There was one reason I postponed and postponed and it began on Mother’s Day.  I wanted to write a loving blog in memory of my mother but instead we were out and then back in the car to NYC and then back into a grinding routine.  My birthday followed shortly after and I wanted to write about this particular birthday and my mother.  I started many times to formulate it in my head.  I knew it was going to be heavy and so I kept procrastinating.  Memorial Day came and went and we had company and we went to a barbeque and we went out to dinner and then we worked here in NJ and then home again-still the blog haunts me.  

I may have to try to write it soon, I think it will be cathartic.

This weekend is for seeing a first cousin who I haven’t seen since she was little and I have no idea of how many years have passed. She and another first cousin who I have never met – And this is on my mother’s side….the unwritten blog is sending me a message. But doesn’t it know I have to work tonight, tomorrow, tomorrow night and Sunday and then drive back to NYC really early Monday so I can go to work there?  Have mercy!

It happens to be pouring rain outside this morning which is making the whole yard a deep bright green.  I glanced out the window and am wondering where the newspaper is, perhaps it floated away.  

Have a delightful day, I’ll be back.

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Oh Memorial Day Weekend!; Much anticipated, longed for as a respite from the daily grind and laced with hopes of warm sunshine and that exhilaration that comes from sticking your feet in the Atlantic Ocean for the first time of the new season.  It’s a weekend filled with…


If ever there were ever a town that was labeled All American, it would be Ocean Grove, New Jersey.  When we bought our cottage there, Peter and I both remarked on the proliferation of flags waving “welcome home”  from so..oooo many houses.   There were big flags, little flags and bunting in full array.  Flags unfurling  from porch banisters, mini flags dotting front yard gardens, large flags hanging on second story homes, bunting draped over front porch railings. It was just red, white and blue all over the place.  This year, of course, was no exception.  I saw a lot of mini flags outlining front yards and not quite as much bunting as usual.  Our flag has a rip in it and we know we have to replace it and with the wind we had on Friday made it worse and the flag actually managed to twist itself through the rip and presently is a bit tangled. I definitely will replace it upon my return.  I’m a big flag person so I put 3 small flags in the ground around the house and I hung a red, silver and blue sparkly star thing on the shed and laced a curly que wire covered with silver patriotic stars all around Peter’s objet d’art on the wall of the shed.  Since we didn’t have a large group over for a cook-out, I opted out of using my star-shaped  dishes and my red and blue bowls (much to Peter’s delight).  


By Memorial Day, most of what is going to bloom has either done so or is about to;  The Daffodils are long gone as well as the Grape Hyacinths, however, the Peonies are popping and Lillies of the Valley are ringing their little white bells on the side of the house.  This is the weekend that the Ladies auxiliary sells flowering plants and I usually buy my Geraniums from them, but this year I was working on Saturday.  I was determined that before the weekend ended I was going to get some flowering plants for my porch window box and some Geraniums for the back yard table.  I love these Hello Summer rituals;  I plant some Basil (you can just taste those tomato-basil-olive oil salads), try to corral the Peppermint plants and surround them with clam shells.  By Monday, I was anxious to get going with my planting so Sarajane and I set off to Matt’s, a super fruit, vegetable and plant stand. I’m a regular customer during the growing season, picking up the BEST Jersey tomatoes and the sweetest Jersey corn.  It’s still early so the pick of vegetables is sparse but oh did they ever have flowers!  The geraniums were robust and lush so I picked out some pink and white ones for the front porch box and mixed in a leggy leafed purple flower and a cascading pink flowering plant, whose names I can’t remember.  Hurricane Sandy killed all of the flowering plants that had been growing on my front yard  stone wall.  It was with great sadness that I pulled out the dead salt-burnt foliage, I hope I can find something to replace it that will take hold before summer ends.  I did buy a variegated sea grass and planted out front where the salt water had killed one of my   Coral Bells.  It’s going to be a colorful year after all – even though I practically decimated the Butterfly Bush and the Morning Glories are coming up but look a little thin.  Well, we’ll see.


What was the best part of this weekend?  Why the friends of course.  Sarajane arrived on Sunday morning just in time for an outdoor brunch.  We hadn’t eaten breakfast outside yet and with the warm sunshine and clear sky, it seemed like the perfect place to eat.  After all, if you have a backyard patio, if you don’t use it in the early summer, you probably won’t use it much later on.  Last 4th of July turned out to be so hot, my guests implored me to move the party indoors where the blessed air conditioning was on.  Fruit salad, fried eggs, turkey bacon and scones; Mmmmm good.  

And more friends….Joe and Michael and Lisa and Kelly and Marcia.  Drinks on their patio Sunday evening in the shadow of the melting iceberg.  We made a lively group as the wine flowed easily and Peter had his gin martini.  It had been a year since we saw Kelly and Lisa, but we just picked up where we left off, everyone is so at ease with each other.  Last time Peter and I were with Michael and Joe, we said it was like being with family and that only proves something Peter has often said, “Our friends are our family of the present” – So True.  We  met Marcia that night and instantly liked her; perhaps we will see her in The City.

Having house guests can by trying and tiring but Sarajane was a great help in the kitchen and good company. Come back soon!


Red Cherries, Blue Curacao and White Cream of Coconut - A REAL Patriotic Drink

Red Cherries, Blue Curacao and White Cream of Coconut – A REAL Patriotic Drink

Speaking of our house guest and food being the topic, we were treated to Bananas Foster and grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream.  The bananas complemented my pancakes – that was another outdoor breakfast and again a beautiful day to eat outside.  Monday evening we decided to cook out;  Marinated chicken breasts on the grill (and thanks to Sarajane, they remained moist and were cooked perfectly), Jersey tomatoes with basil (from my new little plant) and mustard potato salad with fresh dill. A really lovely meal capping a lovely weekend.  But let me rewind a little because I can’t finish this blog without going into some detail about dinner on Sunday night.

After a significant quantity of wine at Joe’s we all headed to Asbury Park to go to Old Man Rafferty’s.  The young’uns decided to walk there and I opted for the comfort of my car.  We did beat them there even though Joe was sure they would get there first – I wonder if he used a whip or a cattle prod lol.  Anyway, I walked into the restaurant, announced that we were here for the Lugo reservation.  The host inquired if we were a party of 8 and I said yes.  He then stated that when the entire party was there, he would seat us. I friggin’ hate that!  And I asked him if he were planning to turn the table in the time before the rest arrived!  Oh my, did I mention that the wine had been flowing easily at Joe’s?  Thank God, they arrived within 2 minutes and we all sat down.  Now NJ restaurants are big, and certainly much bigger than 99% of New York city restaurants, however, even in this large restaurant  our group stood out or should I say were heard out.  Well you know how hard it is for 8 people to have multiple conversations especially when the table is not a round one.  I noticed that the couple sitting next to us were disturbed to say the least with our decibel level and the fact that they left after just having soup was probably the most convincing point. Oh well…. Joe likes to tease us about being Grandpa and Grandma, oh actually he said Great-Grandpa;  Yes well we are older than the rest of them BUT it wasn’t us who was ordering Tiki drinks, throwback to the 50’s!  And speaking of throwback, you should have seen a certain someone throw back those Blue Hawaiians!  Not one, not two but THREE! Yup, THREE! Whoooheee, did we have fun!

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Really who doesn’t love a 3 day weekend?  And what a great time of the year to have one too!  The beach is supposed to officially open…. And here’s how it went down.

We arrived a day early as did our friends Joe and Michael, all anticipating a long leisurely weekend with house guests.  Joe and Michael were expecting Lisa and Kelly and Sarajane would join us on Sunday so we could all have our 2nd annual Memorial Day cookout with them.  I was looking forward to lovely afternoon and catching up with the California contingency and Joe and Sarajane hadn’t seen each other in a while.  I bet you know where this is heading…..best laid plans!

Joe called me on Friday morning with disastrous news;  Upon arrival they discovered that their refrigerator had broken down and what a mess!!!  They weren’t sure whether the water filter or the ice maker broke because water was leaking out of the refrigerator through the NEW wooden floor boards and into the basement.  They were able to salvage a few food items and  I said I had room to store them until the repair man came that afternoon.  They tried unsuccessfully to open the freezer and couldn’t – apparently it had filled with water and then froze into a solid block. YIKES!  Well, Joe, Michael, Lisa and Kelly arrived carrying bags of food stuffs salvaged from the iceberg.  Joe expected the repairman in a few hours and so I left them a key to retrieve the food,  and surely Sunday’s cookout all would be fine.  NOT!

The repairman said he couldn’t fix the refrigerator because it had to defrost first; DEFROST? WHERE? In the kitchen?  I don’t think so!  Mind you the refrigerator is only about a year and half old and because they were expecting house guests, the freezer was FULL of food!   Joe left me a voicemail saying the cookout was off, maybe we could make another plan.  Oh Boy….

By Saturday evening we decided that we would all meet for dinner on Sunday evening BUT the iceberg is melting and Joe and Michael have to get it out of the house.  It has to go outside in the yard and Joe thought of  renting a dolly at Home Depot and trying to move it out.  I told him I had the name of someone he should call, actually two people.  I looked up the telephone number of a man and his sons who had helped us move some furniture out of our cottage and moved stuff in that we couldn’t handle.

Thank God, that contact was still valid.  Rafeek showed up Sunday morning with his son and in short order the iceberg a/k/a the refrigerator was out the door and in the yard and wrapped up in plastic.  And now let the melting begin.  I can’t imagine what everything in that freezer is going to look/smell like after a couple of days sitting outside.  

Sunday dawned sunny and beautiful and now that the refrigerator problem was temporarily solved, we decided we would all meet at Joe and Michael’s for a drink before we went out to dinner.  Sarajane was looking forward to seeing Joe again and the renovation of the cottage and Peter and I were looking forward to meeting Marcia, the third houseguest!  

We always have such a good time when we get together with Joe and Michael and Lisa and Kelly are delightful.  Everybody but me seems to be in advertising;  Peter knew many of the players from when he worked in sales promotion.  I enjoy hearing the stories, me, the Mad Men groupie.  

The House guests Kelly, Marcia and Lisa

The House Guests Kelly, Marcia and Lisa

Wine and deviled eggs on the patio and lots of chatter – and off to dinner we go!

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It was Sunday afternoon and Peter and I finally headed to the Jersey Shore.  After opening up the cottage and letting some ocean breezes fill the house with fresh air, we set about doing the things you just gotta do when you’ve been gone over a week.  Read Peter you have to mow the lawn, fill the bird feeders, wash the sidewalk and and and…. I put away food, clean linens and laundry, unpacked bags and then decided to open up my computer and there was a Happy Memorial Day post from Joe!  WITH an invitation to stop by for a drink if we were in town. What a delightful idea!

I called Joe to say we would love to stop over, have a drink and take another look at the magnificent renovation/construction that had been done on his house over the winter.  Joe said he and Michael had a couple of friends staying with them and they were going to barbeque and we were certainly welcome to join them.

NOW, you see this is what I think makes a holiday memorable.  Friends are woven into the  fabric of your life.  We didn’t have any plans for the evening and then along comes a delightful invitation as a complete surprise from our friends, Joe and Michael.  What I love about them besides the fact that they are the  most perfect Yin and Yang couple is their generosity  of spirit.  They had house guests, close friends visiting from out of state and without  a moment’s hesitation, they included us in their party! 

I offered to bring dessert and with specific instructions about the importance of chocolate I went shopping.  I happened to be going to Costco and for some reason, this day, the bakery area was a bit shy in the chocolate department.  They had Black and White cookies but those only have some chocolate frosting and that’s only on one half;  The bakery also had shortbread cookies which are to die for but again only half the cookie has some chocolate coating.  Finally I spotted some Red Velvet Chocolate cupcakes.  They were huge and looked good, however, for good measure as the saying goes, I  tossed a bag of dark-chocolate-covered acai blueberries.  I don’t think you can ever have enough chocolate on hand, especially if it’s dark chocolate.

A barbeque at Joe’s is an event!  First of all, there were the guests;  we met Kelly who lives in LA and Austin and is a freelance commercial producer.  She spends considerable time on East Coast in NYC also and as of today is on her way to Prague to produce a Dove commercial.    And Lisa, who lives in Oakland and also works in advertising and has been Michael’s friend for years.  I had the opportunity to sit next to Lisa for part of the evening and really enjoyed talking to her.  Monica who is a neighbor was there and it was good to see her again.  She is a lively soul and has a very cute Yorkie who visits Madison regularly.  Monica, Christine and Rich had dinner plans elsewhere so I’m glad we got there early enough to connect with them all before they left for Taka.

Joe and Michael are among the MOST GRACIOUS hosts.  I want to call it Effortless Entertaining BUT I know it takes a lot of effort to plan and prepare an evening meal with many components.  They work seamlessly together;  one is cooking, the other is filling bowls, one is making drinks, the other is placing dishes and silverware out.  Really it is amazing to observe this culinary choreography!

We drank, we snacked, we drank some more, we ate, we drank a bit more and ate dessert.  Hours had gone by, I couldn’t believe the clock when I looked at the time!  We had to go but hey we were the altacockers anyway!!

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention how perfectly private the patio is now that Joe has redone the landscaping (again).  We were secluded behind beautiful greenery. 

Joel Lugo, Memorial day, Ocean Grove

A Good Host Takes Time To Listen Too!

Lisa, Kelly and Michael

First corn of the season, juicy tomatoes your choice of several kinds of grilled meats. Yummmmm

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Littleneck clams, small hard clams, species Me...

Little Neck Clams

You know I LOVE shopping at Wegman’s and one the best features of the store is that fact that often when you walk in, you see Gus over to the left and you know to make a bee line directly to him to see what he is cooking up!  Well the other day it was clams!  Gus was grilling some Little Neck clams and preparing them in a way that never occurred to me.  He handed me a warm little half clam shell with the clam and a tiny piece of steamed asparagus in it and it was drizzled with Wegman’s  Garlic Cheese Finishing Butter.

If you recall my very long Memorial Day blog, you know that I served these clams as an appetizer.  They were different, delicious and fairly easy to make.  Of course it is easier to do when you have the ingredients available the way Wegman’s does;  The clams were in a net bag, the asparagus were a gorgeous green, uniform in size and packaged in a micro-wavable pouch and Wegman’s carries a line of finishing butters which come in small round containers, slightly bigger than a disk of cream cheese you might get at a restaurant.

Steam or grill the clams till they open.

Steam your asparagus for a couple of minutes in the microwave.

Melt a container of Wegman’s Garlic Cheese Finishing Butter.

I put the clams on the stove to steam open.   I put the asparagus in the microwave and then put the finishing butter in the microwave to melt.

With slotted spoon, I removed the clams to a colander in the sink and proceed to remove one half of the shells.   I quickly sliced a few asparagus into tiny pieces and put one piece on each clam and then just drizzled the melted butter on each.  It was a great presentation to bring a platter of these to the table

Here’s what I learned – I should have used just the tips of the asparagus because it would have looked nicer and you can always serve the rest of the asparagus minus the tips as a side dish later.  The clams didn’t stay hot while I went through the process of opening and discarding one shell and then topping with asparagus and butter.  A good chef has every component prepped so he or she can just add the ingredients as needed.  I thought I had but I found myself cutting up asparagus or trimming pieces to make them smaller because the clams are tiny.  Next time I will put the finished clams on a baking sheet and warm them up a bit before putting them on the platter.  I was using my Melmac so that wasn’t going in the oven and was too large for the microwave.    To improvise if you can’t find finishing butter, for this dish, I believe melted butter with some garlic powder or garlic salt in it and maybe some finely chopped Italian parsley would be fine.

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It’s Monday, it’s officially Memorial Day, the last day of long weekend.  You know when you work in an office, everyone wishes each other a restful relaxing weekend;  Now I don’t really work in an office on a daily basis and no one wished me a R&R weekend and I wonder if someone had, would the weekend have been any different? With me, it’s hard to tell because as my husband will attest, I never sit down and read a book, I never stop moving and I’m ALWAYS working!

So this is how my Memorial Day weekend played out;

We arrived on Thursday afternoon and opened up the cottage.  We are doing the Spring Flea Market next weekend so we brought LOTS of stuff down and it all needed to be wrapped or put in some sort of protective covering (most of this load was ephemera) so Peter started in doing that.  It had been a glorious  sunny day so about 6pm I strong-armed Peter into going for a walk on the boardwalk.  After all I think it’s only appropriate that once in a while we visit the ocean just to make sure it’s still there and remind ourselves why we come here!  And on our way back home, we stopped to say hi to Susan and Jim-small town you know!  Oh yes, when we arrived we found an empty bird feeder, grass a foot high and both the rose bush and the peony plants in full bloom 

The night before (at 10pm) I sauteed vegetables and chicken strips and packed them to bring along.  Thank goodness, dinner was going to be easy-I added that mixture to some linguine and made a light sauce from some broth, pasta water, and olive oil and lots of cheese.  Then I got a phone call from my friend Jane who owns one of the largest B&B’s in town.  She had a funeral to go to on Friday and needed someone to babysit the Inn.  And she needed someone to do so from noon to 10pm!  Her cousin was coming to stay so it was agreed that her cousin would be in charge till 3 or 4pm and then it was my turn.   That meant that the 10 errands I had to do on Friday had to start out pretty early!  And I needed to go over there tonight to get a lesson on how to check in the guests.

Bed and Breakfast, B&B, Ocean Grove NJ
The LIlligaard Hotel

Friday morning; Racing around, breakfast, showers, feed the cats, make up the errand list and let’s get the hell out of the house and the phone rings – it’s Jane and her cousin hasn’t left her house yet and Jane has to leave in an hour!!  I said I would be there but Jane knew I had hoped to get a lot done before we were relegated to the hotel.  In the end, she put a note on the door saying Check In at 2pm.  Hoping her cousin would arrive by then, I set off to run around.  First we stopped at Rite Aid so I could pick up some vitamin supplements.  Next it’s Habitats for Humanity to drop off 14 videos as a donation.  Anyone who really knows me that this little act of removing 14 videos from my life or rather Peter’s was a major event.  Of course he brought in about 8 so I really only subtracted 6…oh well!  Then I dashed into Wegman’s and Peter went to their liquor store to get you know what!  Wegman’s was having their annual flower and plant sale and once I saw this great large pot of deep purple petunias I knew it would be perfect next to the rose bush. 

Deep Purple

photo by Murray Head

We flew out of that plaza and went to the Pet Smart store to buy cat food and a new litter mat.  Then over to Michael’s because I wanted to replace the ratty-looking bouquet on our bedroom porch.  It’s possible that the Gemini in me was in high gear because it took me forever to decide on the color combination of the bouquet.  In the end, bright yellow forsythia, turquoise and yellow gerber daisies, and a few white flowers made a colorful arrangement.  Last stop before home was Starbucks because  I needed fortification for my job.   At the last moment Peter said he should pop into a thrift shop to buy a belt.  In and out and no belt.

I called the hotel and there was no answer so I hit the panic button and insisted Peter drive me over even though we might lose the much-desired parking spot in front of the house!  But when I got there, her cousin was there, she just wasn’t answering the phone!!!  Well I went into the office and the first thing I noticed was that there was no paper in the fax machine, the computer was closed and where the hell was the registry book?  My lesson from last night depended on these things.  I found the book, snatched some paper from the printer to put in the fax machine which immediately started to spew forth MORE reservations.  I have to say I did really well – assigned rooms, filed the paperwork and then said I would be back in a couple of hours.

We went to garage to get some bins out to price the items and for me to finish the list of things that belong to Laura that we are selling.  The car just would NOT start!  After a half hour,  I sent Peter to stop in at our mechanic’s garage to see if he could help us start up the Met.  Holiday weekend, Friday at 4pm – GONE, well what did we expect?  So we pushed and pushed and got the car back into the garage – it was much easier getting it out.   Let the wrapping begin! We did have a nice break in the work when Trish and Ron showed up.  Just a neighborly visit and one of my favorite things about Ocean Grove, small town you know.

We had made dinner plans with Jim and Susan to dine al fresco on the front porch of the hotel, however the wind was whipping around and that didn’t seem like such a good idea after all.  So when they arrived,  I gave them a tour of the hotel and we opted to order pasta dishes from Luigi’s and eat in the tea room.  Very nice to dine by ourselves in a quiet atmosphere in such lovely surroundings!  I’m not going to go too too far into what turned out to be the lively dinner  conversation; Seems that there was a big  brouhaha over the Neptune H.S. graduation being held in the Great Auditorium because there was a movement to eliminate any religious songs or prayers since everyone is not Christian while they were at it, the ACLU and a certain grandmother thought the religious wording should be covered up as well as the big cross on the outside of the building.  Covering the cross was the line in the sand that  the Camp Meeting Association was not about to cross and initiate a secular precedent.  Anyway, it certainly was a very interactive conversation.

Saturday morning dawned early for us as this was the morning of CMA flower and plant sale and the Historical Society’s antique auction.  As I headed over to the plant sale, Peter got us seats for the auction and checked out the merchandise.  I came back with geraniums and petunias in time to look over the items.  Luckily there was nothing there I couldn’t live without, although Peter picked up a children’s teaching kit all about art.  Interesting but dated.  On the gorgeous day that Saturday was and opening day at the beach, I couldn’t stand being inside anymore so we left.

Saturday afternoon turned out to be yard clean up day!  I finally spread the rest of the mulch, Peter mowed the grass  and raked up mounds of the cut grass. I weeded, he cleaned the grill which was quite a process and I swept up.  We had a 7:00pm barbeque to go to: Nice!

Going to a cook-out at Joe’s is always fun and Michael was going to be there and a friend of his as well as Monica, a neighbor and Elena an old friend.  Jim and Susan were there and Elena invited a friend, Richard and our friend, Heide came bringing an amazing salad!   Everything was set out perfectly.  Arranged with detail in mind – Joe is a lovely host.  I can SO relate to him about entertaining – he is cleaning up as the night goes on and in the end, the barbeque grill has been washed and every thing is sparkly clean – Yes Joe!

cook-out, Joe Lugo
Time to EAT
Jim, Susan and Joe
Michael Larson, barbeque
Michael cooks for the crowd

You’re wondering why I am outlining every detail then let me tell you.  I’ve  been running all weekend; I haven’t read the paper, I haven’t read a book or magazine, nor have I watched a movie.  It’s been on the go and then some.

Our friend Murray(YES that Murray!) was due to arrive on Sunday morning AND late Saturday afternoon we listened to a voice mail left by our friend, Paul who said he and his wife Karen were going to come down on Sunday!  Glad they’re coming BUT now I have to go to grocery store early in the morning.  I thought about what to serve, made my grocery list and hoped to get out to Wegman’s before my first guest arrived.

Sunday morning dawned yet another beautiful day and I was happy to be out and about by 9:00am, first Starbucks and then the grocery store.  As soon as I got home I set about prepping for our cook-out dinner.  I had decided to make the Strawberry Basil Shortcake that I featured last Tuesday.  First the cream and basil and while that was steeping, I began peeling, seeding and chopping cucumbers to make a batch of Cucumber Coolers (check out tomorrow’s Tasty Tidbits). The meat was thawing, I sliced the strawberries and macerated them, and took out platters, serving pieces and pots that would be needed. There was a sort of street fair in Bradley Beach on the boardwalk so I suggested that Peter and Murray take a long walk.

Bradley Beach boardwalk, penguins
Mmmm maybe I will buy that penguin necklace for Lori

photo by Murray Head

Soon thereafter, Karen  and Paul arrived after having a horrific time with their car.  Karen owns a 1999 Porsche, truly a classic.  They were going to drive down to the shore but needed gas and when they stopped they discovered that the car’s computer system had locked everything up including the gas tank cover!  Paul managed to get that open without damaging it and the good news is that once they arrived here, they parked and then re-parked the car.  What that did was reset the computer, essentially re-booted the car.  Whew!!!

Time to unwind on the porch, have something cold to drink and a nosh.

Karen Flaherty, wicker lamp, Ocean Grove, La Vie en Rose
A Strange Juxtaposition Between Karen and the Wicker Lamp

photo by Murray Head

After some refreshments on the porch we all headed off to the boardwalk where the fair was and since Murray had already been there, he peeled off to the opposite end of town with his camera and this is some of what he saw.

tents in Ocean Grove,
An Ocean Grove Tent

Photo by Murray Head

Ocean Grove boardwalk, Ocean Grove NJ

photo by Murray Head

Wesley Lake, Asbury Park, swan boats
Swan Boats 21st Century Style on Wesley Lake

photo by Murray Head

Strolling in the sun, window shopping along the boardwalk, we ran into Jim and Susan – small town, you know!  I bought a beautiful pink and purple striped scarf/shawl and Peter bought me some outrageous hot pink sun glasses.

Outrageous Sun Glasses

Back home and it must be time for a martini on the porch!  While they are all drinking, I’m in the kitchen steaming clams, cooking asparagus and making and baking short cakes.  The hors d’oeuvres menu: Cheese and Crackers, Olives, Bococini, Pepperdews, Cherry Stone clams on the half shell with Asparagus Tips and melted  Lemon Dill  finishing sauce.

Once all that was out, I washed the outdoor dishes, set the table and Karen made the salad which evolved into practically a main dish.  She put together corn kernels, fennel, cherry tomatoes, avocado, feta cheese and salad greens. The dinner menu:  Bloody Mary marinated flank steak on the grill, baked beans, asparagus, and the terrific salad.  Dessert was the Strawberry Shortcake and coffee. It was well past 11:00pm before Peter and I finished cleaning up, washing dishes and putting things away!

And so the weekend slipped by…Monday morning we had an early morning shower but the sun came out soon thereafter and a beach day was born.  But first, I asked Peter to put some more screens in.  Not sure what I did besides sift through hundreds of Murray’s photos to pick out the pictures used in the previous blog as well as saving many many more which you will see in the near future.

Peter and I went to the beach and marveled that here we were, sitting on beach, looking at the beautiful waves.  The beach was full but not crowded and the water was icy cold.  My winter white skin stood out among the already-tanned bods.  I think it’s a good idea to tan in your backyard before going to the beach, especially to get the back of these thighs.  You know I’m convinced that a good tan takes at least 5 pounds off your thighs!

All play and no work, ha ha, ha – we went home and Peter painted a scratch on a kitchen cabinet and decided to paint the top of the kitchen ceiling light fixture – OMG what a nightmare!  It came apart where it shouldn’t have and even the live wires became undone.  I was so scared and Peter needed me to hold this very heavy light fixture above my head while I stood on a step stool and he attempted to put the wires back.  I was really sorry I had already taken a shower because now I was sweating and my arms were aching.  To get the damn thing back on the ceiling took us almost 45 minutes! Tomorrow I’m going  to Home Depot to get a new light.

Last but not least, we went to the Lilligaard Hotel to have dessert with Jane and Dick and her cousin and fiancee.  The ocean was pounding for some reason, you could smell the familiar oceany smells so we sat on the porch and it was delightful.

It’s past midnight and time to call it a weekend!!!!

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I haven’t posted a blog in days and in trying to make up for it (lol), instead of writing 4 blogs at once I’m taking the easy way out and combining my FAB FOTO FRIDAY, CELEBRATE, ONLY in NEW YORK, and RED is Where You Find It all in ONE post.  Well after all it is a holiday weekend and although I’m not posting regularly I’m not on holiday either; but more about the weekend later….

Since it IS a holiday weekend, it’s important to Celebrate!  Of course we must celebrate Memorial Day and I could do a whole post on that (let me see how I feel by tonight) but this CELEBRATE blog post is celebrating the diversity of New York City. It is the equivalent of living in the world all in one place.  If you don’t live here, you may think I’m exaggerating but I’m not. There is hardly not an ethnicity represented in great numbers in the City, except maybe Aborigines.  This weekend, Turkey was center stage and drew thousands of on-lookers.  This parade unlike many others, was not a march up Fifth Avenue but rather in the United Nations neighborhood.  Take a look….

There were flags-lots-and people dressed in their national colors; Red and White, frolicking, dancing, marching, beautiful girls, costumed men, and of course little children looking darling in all manner of red and white.

Turkish flags, American flag, Turkish Day parade, Turkey, Turkiye

The FLAGS Speak

photo by Murray Head

Turkish Day parade, New YOrk city, Turkey, Turkiye, twins

Two for the price of one

photo by Murray Head

Turkish Day parade, Turkey, Turkiye, New york city, ballons

Did you ever see a Turkish balloon?

photo by Murray Head

Turkish Day parade, Turkiye, red paisley umbrella, Turkey

I Love the RED umbrella

photo by Murray Head

Turkish Day parade, Turkiye

I live here too

photo by Murray Head

Turkish Day parade, Borders installation art, United Nations, Turkey, Turkiye

Wanna play?

photo by Murray Head,

Turkish Day parade, Turkiye, Turkey, convertible

What's A Parade Without A Convertible?

photo by Murray Head

Turkish Day parade,

Or A Pretty Girl ?

photo by Murray Head

Turkiye, Turkey, native costume, Turkish day parade, new york city

Colorful Native Costume

photo by Murray Head

Turkish Day parade, New York City, Turkey, Turkiye

Is that a Blackberry or an iPhone?

photo by Murray Head

Turkiye,Turkey, red kerchief

Wearin' of the RED

photo by Murray Head

Istanbul was Constantinople
Now it’s Istanbul, not Constantinople
Been a long time gone, Constantinople
Now it’s Turkish delight on a moonlit night
Every gal in Constantinople
Lives in Istanbul, not Constantinople
So if you’ve a date in Constantinople
She’ll be waiting in Istanbul

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