Posts Tagged ‘Sarajane’

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!

Read Full Post »

I LOVE to play Mah Jongg!  I always wanted to learn and I have no idea why.  Being the Martha junkie that I am, several years ago there was an article in her magazine, Martha Stewart Living about Mah Jongg sets and I fell in love with the tiles and the idea of owning a set.  Soooo being the true collector that I am, I bought one – PINK tiles of course!  I kept the set for years, sometimes opening it up to admire these mysterious tiles and wonder what they all meant because I surely had no clue.

About 5 or 6 years ago I was at work one day and heard one of the brokers talking about going to play Mah Jongg.  I couldn’t believe my ears and immediately I said to Haley, “oh you play? I want to learn” .  Haley invited me to join her group for an evening and they were kind enough to let a TOTAL novice play along with them, well actually Haley and I played together on one card.  That was my introduction and I was HOOKED!!  I played a few more times with them and brought along another friend, Bobbie who also worked with us and who had played when she was younger.  Talk about a CRAK addiction!  I wanted to form a group. I wanted to play every week.  Haley’s group was a little less formalized, they played when they could all get together.   It just so happens that shortly thereafter I was at my friend Gail’s mothers memorial service and somehow I must have uttered the word Mah Jongg – “Mah Jongg” up pipes Sarajane, one of Gail’s friends and soon to become one of mine – she knew how to play and wanted to play and was eager to form a group too.  Now we were three.  We got Haley to play with us a couple of times but her schedule didn’t allow her to join us on Monday nights.  I contacted my sister-in-law Stacey and asked her if she wanted to be in a weekly group and she did and she knew how to play too.  OH BOY – we had a group and we were ready to roll those dice and clack those tiles.

That was, as I said several years ago, and along the way our group has added and lost a member or two but we remain 5 determined committed women who LOVE to play this ancient game of chance and we play every Monday night which has led to our group’s name of Monday Night Mah Jongg Mavens. Corny but cute.  We had another name that I was partial to and not sure why it got dropped as time went on and that was “This is Not Your Mother’s Mah Jongg”.

And as time went on and my CRAK addiction took hold, it was only natural that I would want to collect some vintage Mah Jongg sets.  No new ones for me – I wanted the real thing, the aged smooth tiles worn by time and love to a smooth silky surface, the paint faded away on some but still retaining their original artistry.  OK, so truth be told I now own  a few, maybe several or some might say many sets. This is not an easy item to collect or display in terms of shelf space!  Nevertheless, I love my sets dearly.  Each one chosen because of its rarity, or the sheer beauty of the tiles themselves, particularly the depth of color of the vintage bakelite or style of the One Bams and the White Dragons (also known as Soaps).

Tonight I’m off to the Museum of Jewish Heritage to see a special Mah Jongg exhibition.  I know it will be more than a few sets on display, perhaps I’ll find out what drew so many American Jewish women to this game.  I’ve attached a link to an article that appeared in they New York Times in March about the game and the upcoming exhibition and a couple of photos of some of my vintage tiles.

Martha Stewart Living, pink mah jong mah jonng tiles

My first set - PINK of course!

mah jongg, mah jong tiles, Four Winds, Soap, one bam

Vintage Four Winds caramel backed Mah Jongg tiles- Soap and One Bam

mah jong, mah jongg tiles, bone and bamboo

Vintage Pung Chow Mah Jongg bone and bamboo tiles

Museums Special Section – Recalling the Craze for a Game of Chance – NYTimes.com.

Read Full Post »