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Posts Tagged ‘Sunday’

Today was a very Super Sunday!  First of all it was hot and sunny and a perfect beach day.  A sunny Sunday at the Shore is hard to beat.  Then there’s the soup;  This morning I got up early and made Gazpacho.  It’s the quintessential summer soup and a great Sunday night supper.  I love this recipe and so I made a huge batch, some for our dinner tonight and some for the freezer.  And since I think she’s reading the blog, I also put a small container of Gazpacho aside for Elinor.  If you would like the recipe for this Gazpacho, please see this prior post:  : https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/gazpacho-or-th…ersey-tomatoes

After an afternoon of wave surfing, well actually it was more like trying not to get swamped by the rolling waves, we went home, showered and had a quick cocktail.  The best was yet to come…. Tonight promised us the biggest moon of the year.  The sky had been clear all day and so we planned on heading back to the boardwalk at the time the moon was expected to rise.  I’ve been wanting to watch a moon rise for the last couple of weeks.  Tonight had all of the aspects for the perfect moon rising, the time was good for us and of all the moons, this one was going to BIG, BIG, BIG!

We enjoyed sitting on the boardwalk which happened to be heavily populated as a whole bunch of people were sitting and standing around waiting for this spectacular site.  Everybody was talking about the Super Moon.  While we waited, the sun, no slouch in the spectacular department went down in a blaze of glory.

A Glorious Sunset In The Making

A Glorious Sunset In The Making

The moon rise web site said the moon would rise in the ESE direction and about 7:43pm.  I kept scanning the horizon looking for that thin red line to appear on top of the water in the distance.  Sometimes you can’t see what you’re looking for because what you’re looking for is a bit obscured and appears not as expected.  The red rim of the rising moon never graced the horizon BUT then about 8pm, there it was!  NOT on the horizon but rather quite a bit above the water line and not looking very red orange – it was a big fat round white ghost in the sky!  I guess the sky was not quite as clear as we thought, the cloud cover obscured the rising moon until it was a ways above the water.

The Ghost of a Moon

The Ghost of a Moon

As it rose higher and the atmosphere cleared, the moon not only got bigger, it got orange too!  It was quite the sight, that blushing man in the moon smiling down on us.  It loomed larger and brighter and it was like being in a planetarium because the moon hung there in the sky right in front of us and it felt like we were watching this phenomena in 3-D.

Big Red

Big Red

We called it a Super Moon, but it has had many other names over the years.  It’s a Mega-moon, a perigee moon.  Native American tribes that were basically fishermen noted this August moon as the Sturgeon Moon because ti was during the time of this full moon that the sturgeon were more readily caught.  It was also known as the Green Corn Moon and the Grain Moon by other Native Americans.  Also known as the Full Red Moon as it appeared when rising through a sultry haze.

 

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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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Reczniki papierowe

Paper Towels

 

Unfortunately this weekend just slipped away amidst some family crisis, laundry, spring cleaning and doing my taxes.  So now it’s Sunday evening, I’m expecting a guest for dinner and so f0r the last hour and a half I have been scurrying around the kitchen and dining room like a crazy person.  I actually employed Peter to help me and that’s something I rarely do but boy oh boy I was off schedule – the damn taxes AND THEY’RE NOT EVEN DONE YET!

 

Friday I literally spent the entire day on the phone and was emotionally drained and exhausted  by 5pm.  We just ordered-in some Chinese food and I finished paying the first of the month bills.  Then I got some kind of second wind and stayed up until 2am watching all the commercial tv shows that I had DVR‘d for my late night viewing when he who shall not be named relinquishes the remote and retires to the bedroom to continue watching any movie that’s on  TCM.

Saturday morning I was dragging and spent a lot of time on the computer playing Words With Friends and Scrabble and looking for some stuff I want to find on Ebay.  It was lovely not getting dressed and just sitting around.  However, I had promised myself that either Saturday or Sunday would be devoted to getting the income tax in order to ship off to the accountant and also to do some cleaning.  Really the level of dust in the apartment was appalling.  Anyone who knows us, knows that to dust this apartment is a MAJOR event.  Actually I was more washing down and wiping down than dusting – that’s how bad things had gotten.  Me and my Windex and paper towels;  Cleaning the vintage radios, wiping off the hood ornaments, washing the grime off vases, lamps and every tchotcha on the living room shelves. And I polished all the wood furniture with lemon oil because everything looks dried out to me after this everlasting hot-air-heated winter!  All of this industriousness was certainly causing a riff in the household;  Well one of us seems to have endless tasks and the other person is kind of whining that there’s no time when we can be together BECAUSE I’m always working!!! REALLY now!  I managed to do a couple of shelves in bedroom, none in the den and the day was pretty much gone.  It had been a lovely sunny day and I understood why my spouse wanted to leave the house and get outside but when he said let’s walk up to Madison Avenue and go into some galleries, I couldn’t imagine doing that at all.  First of all I didn’t want to be dress up much to be on Madison so to appease my poor neglected spouse  I suggested we head off to the Met to see some exhibits we wanted to catch before they closed.  That put a smile on his face.  It was good to get out although it was ridiculously windy and my knees and ankles hurt – not the best foot forward to go to a museum.

But off we did go and although every step hurt in some place or another, we managed to see the Metropolitan Vanities,  the French Marville photography exhibition of the Paris that used to be.  I was unaware that the Paris of the 1920’s was destroyed and the Paris that we know today with its wide boulevards and beautiful buildings was designed by Hauseman and built.  We should have looked at the map as to where the exhibitions we wanted to see, were because the way we did it, we managed to crisscross the museum twice. If you’ve never been to the Met, let me tell you that’s a lot of walking.  I wanted to see the Western Bronzes in the new American Wing so spent some time looking at the great sculptures of Remington and Solomon Borglum.

That was as much walking as I wanted to do especially since those 2 Extra Strength Tylenols had not done their job!  We stopped at Fairway on the way home and picked up a roast chicken and a baguette for supper and some ingredients for Sunday’s dinner.  Knowing I had work to do, I had planned ahead and defrosted a quart of pea soup I had made a couple of weeks ago.  Pea soup, chicken, bread and salad was the perfect Saturday night supper.

Although I went to bed early and fell asleep during Angels in the Outfield, when I woke up this morning, I still didn’t feel really refreshed and dreaded putting the income taxes together. Oy what a horrible task.  Seriously I spent most of the afternoon calculating  dinners, taxis, memberships and charitable deductions.  In fact I spent so much time making notes and adjustments that all of sudden it 4:45pm and I had to shower and change AND COOK for my dinner guest who was due to arrive at 6:30pm.

Well, when I started this blog it was during the time I was awaiting the arrival of my dinner guest.  Peter assured me she would be at least 15 minutes late; By the time it was 7:25pm I wondered if she thought I had said 7:30pm.  THEN the light bulb went off and I said to Peter, “I wonder where she is, she hasn’t called, God, I hope she didn’t email me”  I looked at my phone and there was an email from 11:15am from her asking me what my address was.  Of course I didn’t see that one or hear it come in as I was knee deep in receipts.  There was another one at 6:15pm saying she was walking out the door and by the way, what is my address?  OH BOY! I was cooking like  a madwoman at 6:15pm!  GENERATION GAP!  We’re wondering why we haven’t heard from her and she’s sitting home because she can’t find any emails from me, can’t find my business card and of course since she’s under 40, the idea of calling information and assuming we might be one of the few relics that still have a land line, never entered her mind!  So we called her and Peter scolded her because he just doesn’t get that they communicate almost solely through electronic messaging and hardly ever use their phones to actually talk!

But since she showed up bearing flowers and is as much fun to be with as ever, all was well within minutes.  It turned out to a witty conversational evening and the food wasn’t too bad either!  Just for the record, I made Chicken Paprikash, Steamed Asparagus and my new favorite salad of Arugula, Farro, Tomatoes and Olives.  The recipe for this great dinner party salad is in my blog post; https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/farro-and-arugula-salad-tasty-tidbits-tuesday/.

We had a lovely evening playing with the old Edison phonograph and showing off the portable record player we’ve taken to Central Park picnics and talking about old movies and new!  AW is a kindred spirit, we hope to see her again soon…maybe we’ll catch her stand-up comedy act!

 

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Wi-Fi Signal logo

Wi-Fi Signal logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

SUNDAY

Well, I’m off on another adventure to Florida!  Usually the “fun” begins when I’m there and I amuse my readers to no end with accounts of the daily craziness.  NOT SO this time!  Let the games begin! 

Today is Sunday and after racing around to finish up packing, getting a pedicure, trying on 3 different things that did NOT fit and not being able to locate one of the cats (we finally did) we finally left our apartment.   Since we were leaving late (apparently my fault) (NOT), tempers were already running high.  Add the 71 degree weather in the no-longer-air-conditioned apartment AND picture this – I have my rolling suitcase with a heavy tote bag on top of it, carrying my computer over my shoulder and one large canvas bag of Christmas presents; I’m wearing flip-flops because I don’t want to squish my new pedicure and all black because that’s what fit that would be ok to sleep in.  Peter is carrying a suitcase that must weigh 25lb on his shoulder that pulls his sport jacket down and he’s carrying another canvas bag with Christmas presents and a bag that has some last minute snack food I scavenged from the refrigerator and cupboards.  Actually the snacks are leftovers from Wednesday night’s gathering!

Hailing a cab turned out to be fairly easy but of course we got a driver who was indecisive about the fastest way to Penn Station.  First he started west on 86th St and then thought the FDR drive would be better so he U-turned.  The Drive was ok but when he exited at 34th St and headed west on 35th St, we virtually crawled across town.  I was already overheated, cranky and watching the meter climb was making me crazy.  $22 later we arrive at Penn Station a.k.a. Penn’s People Zoo.  It was MOBBED and it was hot.  

We were supposed to leave by 1:30pm but by the time we walked out the door it was almost 2pm.  Our intention was to get to the station an hour early so we could check to see if there were any cancellations for a roomette.  There were none, the train is sold out!  Oh, didn’t I mention that by the time we booked the trip they were no more roomettes left? And why did we book so late?  Look to my right…. therefore we are in for a 26 hour train ride in Coach seats, no beds.  I knew right away it was Christmas since there “was no room at the inn”. 

Getting onto the train was like being part of a herd of cattle.  There’s a cop at the top of the stairs next to the ticket agent and he’s shouting “Keep the families together, keep the families together” which means there are straggling kids with wheeling suitcases trying to push through the 5 lines of passengers trying to reach the top of the escalator!  

I boarded the train and turned right like the conductor said only to come to an immediate HALT.  There was a family of four trying to get out of the car against the tide of us trying to get in the car.  This necessitated a strange dance backwards of several people and their luggage with no place for them to back up.  Finally they got off and I lunged forward hoping to find two vacant seats together, lol lol.  Of course there were no seats.  I was ahead of Peter so I dropped one bag down on one seat and across the aisle and one row forward, I dropped another bag.  Then I tried to negotiate with the woman in the second pair of seats.  “ Excuse me ma’am would you mind switching your window seat here for the one over there so I could sit with my husband”?  She looks at me as if I asked her to move to rest room.  I try again and she leans over to look at the seat I’m pointing at and says, “No, I think I’d d rather be here”.   At this point Peter comes up the aisle and sees that I’m not standing in a pair of seats and I’m already putting the bags of Christmas presents up on the rack.  He loudly says, “What, aren’t there 2 seats together?” And then adds, “Well can’t you ask someone if they will move?”  I tell him I did but no one wants to.  I guess that did it because the lady announced she would move.  I said, “Bless you, thank you, you are so kind and you have no idea how he’s been, I’m never traveling with him on a train again! 

Once underway, the train cooled down a bit and we settled in.  As soon as one of the conductors came by, I inquired about Wi-Fi and was informed there was no Wi-Fi on the train and here I thought I would be writing my blog, playing scrabble online, cruising through ebay and checking in on Facebook, Not Happening! 

Shortly thereafter, a man came through asking is anyone wanted to make reservations for the Dining Car.  We looked at each other and thought a change of scenery would do us good later on so I told Peter to make it for 8:00pm. Well that wasn’t happening either because the only reservation he had was for 5:00pm and it was already 4:30pm!  And I wanted to buy a large sub for us to split on the train since everyone told us how expensive the food was and Peter said not to AND I listened to him, so really who’s the schmuck? 

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I love to travel.  Actually let me clarify that;  I don’t love to pack, get to the airport, go through security, look for the nearest restroom or sit in the middle or the window.  What I love is to be where I’m going.  And even that could be further distilled to mean I like to travel to places I can experience and places I’ve never been.

If you have been reading the blog for the last couple of days, you know I have a new grandchild, Thomas Fletcher and he along with the other two grandchildren were shanghaied  to Florida last January.  And if you have been reading the blog for a year, then you may remember my daily posts from the 10 days I was in Florida helping Chiara set up a new household while dealing with two kids.  Then I went to Florida again in March to babysit and wow did I ever have misadventures there and I blogged about them – who can forget the 4 hours in the Urgent Care place and the 11 X-rays of my foot?

I got the call.  “Mom, can you come down here for a week? I want you to be here when the baby is born”.  I wanted to but I couldn’t because my son, Joel was staying with me and I hadn’t seen him in over a year.  I said I could fly down on Sunday (today) which was the due date.  BUT of course the baby came early and Chiara postponed her baby nurse by a week so there would be room for me at the house.  Luckily she didn’t come home till yesterday so I don’t feel awful about not being here.  The baby, by the way, is a tiny little doll – if you can refer to little boys as dolls.  I can see I’m going to have to significantly alter my vocabulary with a male in the mix.

I wanted to be there as early as possible so I booked a 7:29am flight out of LaGuardia and planned on arriving Sunday morning at 10:29am.  As often is the case, what looks good on paper isn’t always so much fun in reality.  We had a dinner invitation last night that had been planned way in advance.  We got home just before 11:00pm and I still had some last minute packing to do so it was after midnight when I went to bed.  I set the alarm for 5:15am and was sure I would never sleep knowing I had to get up in a few hours.  OH how I wished my flight was at 11am.  Well, I did fall asleep and woke up twice before the alarm went off.  Needless to say I was not a happy camper getting up in the dark.

I figured I would leave by 6am.  I washed my hair (always a stupid thing to do when you are on a tight schedule) and quickly got dressed without making too much noise since Peter was still in bed (lucky dog).  No make up for me, it was too early and it was packed anyway.

I went downstairs thinking I would have no problem getting a cab because really how many people could actually be going to work at that hour?  The answer: no one was around and therefore there were no cabs!  I asked the doorman to put the taxi light on and I stepped in the street straining to look both ways and across to the avenue hoping to see a yellow cab come into view.  Well, so much for leaving early and getting to the airport without having to rush.  Finally I saw a taxi approaching and heading in the wrong direction, but I hoped he would take pity on a woman and a suitcase in the street and make a U-turn.  Thank you Lord, he did.

We made it to the airport in record time, he drove really fast.  I hopped out and went into the Jet Blue Terminal to find a kiosk to check in.   I put in my credit card and my name came up along with a request for the flight number.  I typed it in – Sorry we are unable to locate your reservation.  Please try again or go to our Full Service desk.  I tried again, no such luck as the word that rhymes with that came out of my mouth.

No line at the counter so I checked my bag and got my boarding pass.  It was very easy and simple, however, it just annoys me to no end when equipment doesn’t function correctly.  There was a line for security but it seemed to be moving along and I was glad I had only my handbag and computer and no jacket.  Nothing is ever quite as easy as you think it’s going to be and one of these days I am going to KNOW that before it happens to me.  JUST as I was at the conveyer belt ready to put my stuff into bins, I looked down and there were no bins!  I looked around and around and no one seemed to see my dilemma.  I was about to put my bag and computer on the belt sans bin when all of a sudden there was a blue blur in front of me.  Not one, not two, not three, really I don’t know how many stewardesses, oh excuse me flight attendants jumped in front me each holding onto two bins and sent their belongings into the X-ray machine.  I was dumbfounded and a bit put off by the whole thing, but just then  a young man came along pushing a cart stacked with bins.  My stuff went through.

My flight on Jet Blue was due to depart from Gate B1, only when I got there it said Frontier!  I looked at the schedule on the electronic board and there it was;  Jet Blue flight 461 departs gate B1.  Oh well, I thought, I’ll just sit here and see if some Jet Blue  staff would show up at the counter.  I really wanted some coffee but the line leading to Dunkin Donuts was soooooo long. Thankfully Jet Blue employees showed up.  

The plane wasn’t crowded, there were quite a few empty seats, the plane was impeccably clean and the seats comfortable. I had an aisle seat. Seat backs up, trays up, turn off your electronic devices, put on your seat belts.  One of the attendants started to recite the safety measures one must take should there be a crash or loss of pressure in the air cabin…AND THEN she said, “potty time can wait a moment” . Apparently some woman just got up and went into the lavatory.  Then a couple of the attendants came down the aisle and went to the rear of the plane where the rest room was.  AND THEN a LOUD discussion took place.  The woman kept saying,”I wasn’t rude, how am I going to get home”?  This went on for about 10 minutes.  The head stewardess marched forward to speak to the pilot.  Shortly thereafter, a security officer went down the aisle.  Discussion with my seat mate and surrounding passengers revealed that woman had copped an attitude with one of stewardesses and had been asked to leave the plane.  We are now 30 minutes into the discussion.  Back come all of the flight attendants, then forward, then the security guard.  Eventually they are all up front talking to the captain who is standing outside the cabin.  AND THEN as we all sit strapped into our seats, we hear coughing and retching coming from the bathroom – the woman is in there.  They all rush down the aisle and inquire loudly if she needs help and is there anything wrong.?  The head attendant is maintaining the position that there is nothing she can do.  The woman is repeatedly claiming that she had been sleeping and she wasn’t rude.  The airline staff cannot touch or handle the civilian passenger.  AND THEN (and we are now 50 minutes into the standoff), two police officers arrive and head to the rear.  More discussion ensues and EVENTUALLY with real attitude the woman leaves the plane escorted by the two cops with the promise that ‘we can discuss this outside”.  

The plane that was supposed to depart at 7:29am was finally ready to take off at 8:25am.  We are all assuming we’re going to be an hour late.  I rarely and I mean rarely ever break any rules.  I had visions of my son-in-law sitting at the airport at 10:30 waiting for me and I would be an hour late.  I threw caution to the wind, figured they wouldn’t want to throw 2 people off the plane;  After all consider the social media opportunities for really bad publicity, so I turned on my phone and sent a cryptic 4 word text to my son-in-law – “very late check flight”.  

The upside to this adventure was 1) the movies were free and 2) we landed in West Palm Beach at 10:47am  – PLEASE tell me how the pilot made up the lost hour!  I mean really? Really?

JET BLUE

JET BLUE

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Oh wow, what a great time I had last night.  I was in my glory and in full possession of the remote.  Well if not the remote exactly, I did pick all the shows we were going to watch on Sunday evening.  I had it all planned out and then the football game  screwed up the line-up.  It started out with 60 Minutes  starting late and running over past 8:00.  I wanted to watch The Amazing Race, the only reality show I think worth watching, so since I also wanted to watch The Good Wife, my solution was to DVR both of them as I was watching them BECAUSE Masters of Sex and Homeland  followed at their regular times.  Oh my,  such planning;  Two TV’s on two different floors and only one with DVR capacity.  Such is life in the 2000 millennium.  

My plan did not quite work;  We watched the shortened version of 60 Minutes and The Amazing Race and three quarters of The Good Wife.  I happily went upstairs to watch SHOWTIME, content with the knowledge that afterwards, I could go downstairs and find out what Alicia was going to do as she was caught in the middle of a fiduciary dilemma.  Best laid plans and all that jazz, I just never took into account that the DVR  didn’t know that the football game had run late, it recorded The Good Wife from 9:00 to 10:00 and therefore the ending was never recorded! 😦

There was just enough chill in the air to warrant closing the window and making a hearty soup for dinner.  The soup was  Escarole, Canellini Beans and Sausage and it hit the spot on this fall Sunday evening.  I served it with some great chewy Italian bread.

1 pkg (1 1/2 #) Italian mild pork sausage patties ( I used hot poultry sausage)

3 TBS basting oil divided

8 oz chopped onions

3 cloves garlic chopped

1 pkg (15 oz) escarole

Salt and Pepper

1 carton chicken stock

1 can cannelloni beans, drained

1 cup ditalini pasta

lentils + escarole

ESCAROLE  (Photo credit: joannova, a/k/a foodalogue)

2 TBS lemon juice

Cut each sausage patty into 6 pieces and roll into balls.  Heat 1 TBS basting oil in a large braising pan on MED .  Add sausage balls and cook, turning to brown on all sides 3-4 minutes.  Remove sausage from pan and set aside. Discard pan drippings.

Return pan to heat, add remaining 2TBS of basting oil. Add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent. Add garlic, cook, stirring till softened-1 min.  Add escarole, cook, stirring, 1-2 minutes until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Stir in stock, beans and browned sausages.  Heat to boiling on MED-HI.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Add pasta, simmer 10 minutes.  Add parsley and lemon juice.  Season with salt and pepper.

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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…

FLAGS: 

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).  

FLOWERS:

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.

FRIENDS:

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!

FOOD:    

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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As the holiday season in New York City revs up to full speed, the most popular post in my blog has been Top Ten Things To Do In New  York City During Christmastime– see previous post: Top Ten Things To Do in New York City during Christmastime.  I’ve been looking around and researching what’s happening around town to see if I have missed anything and don’t you know I did discover something!

Turns out that the Citicorp building in midtown is no longer the home to a fantastic adult and child-pleasing train display.  Very disappointing because this Sunday I planned to take Finley to see this wonderful exhibit.  I’m not sure if and where it has moved.

Here’s my 2012 list of suggestions on ways to celebrate the season in New York City.

New York City’s own LITE-BRITE Tree

  1. THE TREE – STILL the number one tourist attraction this time of year and an event televised nationally – The lighting of the Christmas tree in ROCKEFELLER CENTER  a spectacle to behold and free.  Each year I marvel at this monstrous beauty and each year it looks better than the year before.  Walk around the Center, see the ice skaters, better yet, why not rent a pair and join in the fun! 
  2. GRAND CENTRAL TERMINAL:  Millions of people have passed through this temple of transportation, so many trips begin and end here!  Walk though this architectural landmark;  View the heavenly ceiling with its golden astrological symbols.  Visit the Transit Museum and Gift Shop (even if you are “only looking”).  There’s always several vintage train sets on display. The Christmas Fair booths in Vanderbilt Hall are great for unusual and unique gifts and there are many retail outlets throughout the Terminal.  If you arrive after 3pm and are sans kids, you might want to have a late afternoon or evening cocktail at The Campbell Apartment.  It has been restored to its original splendor when it was the private office and salon of the 1920’s tycoon John W. Campbell.
  3. THE NUTCRACKER BALLET – You can catch a performance of THE NUTCRACKER at BAM- BROOKLYN ART MUSEUM performed by The American Ballet Company  Very easy to get there by subway or bus.  This year’s show is dazzling and entertaining.  Suitable for children ages 4 yrs and up. It’s a holiday classic.
  4. RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SHOW – But nothing is more classic than going to RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL and seeing the ROCKETTES perform in the annual RADIO CITY CHRISTMAS SHOW.  I have been going since I was little;  My grandmother used to take me and as a young girl, I was overwhelmed by the size of the Music Hall and the sweeping grand staircase.  The show is magical, the Rockettes are truly spectacular.  My favorite routine is the Wooden Soldiers. And you can never get tired of watching in awe how those legs just keep high-kicking!  Children love the show, there are two recent pieces done in 3-D and Santa is the host throughout the show.  

    And down they go one by one

    And down they go one by one

  5. WALKING THE WINDOWS –Walking in Midtown Manhattan during this holiday season is one of the best ways to enjoy Christmastime in New York.  On your way to Rockefeller Center, you should plan a walking route that will take you past some of New York’s premier department stores and their breath-taking window displays. The stores to see (and they are all within walking distance of one another) are: Bloomingdale’s* at 59th St/Lexington Ave., SAKS Fifth Avenue at 49th St., Bergdorf Goodman’s on Fifth Ave/58th St., Barney’s on Madison Ave/61st St.  * Bloomingdale’s is a great place for your kids to visit Santa.  ** Not within walking distance  BUT certainly a New York holiday experience is a trip to Macy’s,  the renowned Christmas store in Miracle on 34th Street.
  6. The UNICEF SNOWFLAKE –Strolling along Fifth Avenue in the evening is a treat in itself.  This is the time when the City lights up!  Look up and follow the Star on Fifth Avenue.  Since 1984, the Snowflake has been a holiday tradition. The snowflake was dedicated to Unicef  by the Sotheby family in 2002.  The original snowflake now hangs high above the Beverly Wilshire on Rodeo Drive.  In 2005, a new Snowflake was created by Ingo Maurer of Germany in collaboration with the Baccarat Crystal company.  The Snowflake has 12 double-sided branches, contains 16,000 crystals, is 23 feet wide and over 28 feet high.  Quite amazing!!  And then there’s CARTIER all wrapped up in a big red bow!

    The Unicef Snowflake

    The Unicef Snowflake

  7. SERENDIPTY 3 – FROZEN HOT CHOCOLATE! Seriously now, can you imagine just how delicious that is?? No, you can’t.  So you should give yourself a break from site-seeing and go to Serendipity 3 located at 225 East 60th St.  Frozen Hot   Chocolate is a treat not to be missed.
  8. THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART No trip to New York City regardless of the season is complete without a visit to THE MET.  One of the season’s glories is the BAROQUE CHRISTMAS TREE adorned with hand-crafted  Neapolitan  angels and surrounded with the BEST Nativity scene ever.  Hundreds of figures populate various scenes related to the story of The Nativity.  It is truly beautiful!  Note: The entry fee is “what you wish to pay” (really)!
  9. CHRISTMAS MARKETS – There are Christmas markets throughout the City, not as spectacular as those in Germany but they are here.  Check out Union Square, Columbus Circle and Bryant Park for a wide selection of craft items, art, outerwear and gifts of all sizes for all ages.
  10. NEW YORK BOTANICAL GARDENS – If you think there’s nothing Christmasy to see at The Botanical Gardens, you’re way wrong!  There is a spectacular Holiday Train exhibit there.  You will marvel at the model trains and landmark replicas.  This exhibit is worth the trip to the Bronx and you can get there by subway and bus.  
    The Holiday Train Exhibit Botanical Gardens

    The Holiday Train Exhibit
    Botanical Gardens

    11. BONUS: GINGERBREAD ADVENTURES – Children explore the spices that make up a classic gingerbread recipe. Kids can step inside a child-sized gingerbread playhouse and also decorate a gingersnap cookie with frosting and candies. All ages will enjoy viewing a display of gingerbread houses made by New York City-area bakers.

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English: "V" icon as as symbol for v...

English: “V” icon as as symbol for vegetarianism/veganism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not a Vegan or a Vegetarian however sometimes I make an entire meal from garden-fresh vegetables!  This weekend turned out to be one of those inspirational meal-making events.  I found a vegan recipe for Sicilian Chickpeas with Escarole and Carmalized Onions.  Sounded intriguing and decided it would be a great side dish.  After all it had a green vegetable and also chick peas which provided the carb factor.  Of course if we were real vegans that would have been the main dish, maybe the only dish and I would be a thinner person!  But I know my husband and he might say something like “is this the whole meal” ?  So I made him two salmon burgers and myself two veggie burgers.  Not vegan and in most eyes, not even vegetarian – it was those salmon burgers that did us in….

Saturday night turned into a different kind of culinary adventure.  We were at the shore battening down the hatches so to speak as were our friends, Joe and Michael.  Hurricane Sandy was on her way to the Jersey Shore and Governor Christie declared a State of Emergency that morning so we had a lot of work to do putting furniture away, tying down covers, securing everything and anything that might become a missile!  Joe called and offered to help us in any way, good neighbor and friend.  I suggested we might meet up for breakfast on Sunday morning.  Joe said how about a pasta dinner since he had a lot of gravy.  He’s Italian and I’m Italian and if you’re Italian you know what we’re talking about.  Sounded like a plan to me BUT I had my own ideas about the kind of pasta I was going to make.

I mentioned that I thought I would make a Pancetta and Fennel Pasta, a very delicious and elegant dish.  There was a notable silence at the other end of the phone and then I heard the words, ” I don’t like pancetta, what is fennel”?  REALLY?  After a bit of back and forth and some input from Michael in the background, it was agreed that I would make the pasta, they would bring some wine and dessert!  I still wasn’t sure that Joe would like this dish and he did mention Classico sauce SO I decided to make two pasta dishes; my own Pancetta and Fennel and also a bowl of penne and pomodoro sauce.  Add an arugula, grape tomato and red onion salad and a loaf of semolina bread and we were in business.  Turns out that Joe really was kinda, sorta kidding about the Classico sauce (he claims he doesn’t really  like it).  Well, he dug right into the Pancetta and Fennel and after a couple of  helpings, he  said it was delicious!  See I told you it was good!

The recipe for the Pancetta and Fennel dish can be found in a previous blog: https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/pancetta-and-fennel-pasta/

Before I give you the Sicilian Escarole recipe, I have to tell you about the bonanza of desserts.  In true Jersey fashion, we had a dozen of Dunkin’ Donuts, many festively decorated for Halloween.  I will admit to eating a Boston Creme and at least half of a jelly doughnut.  AND then we had apple cake from Freedman’s Bakery in Belmar which was SOoooo good.  Thanks guys!

Sicilian Chickpeas with Escarole and Carmalized Onions

1  large escarole (1 1/2  lbs) I used a large bag chopped escarole

1/4 cup olive oil

2 medium onions halved and sliced thinly. I used 1  large Vidalia onion thinly sliced.

2 tsp sugar –  I used 1 tsp.

1/4 cup dark raisins

3 cups drained chickpeas – reserve 1/3 cup bean liquid

Heat oil over medium heat in large  saute pan.  Add onions and stir often till golden – about 15 minutes.  Add sugar and cook another 5 minutes till dark golden brown.

Add raisins and escarole.  Stir occasionally till leaves are tender, about 6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper

Add chickpeas and their liquid.  Simmer till flavors have blended, about 3 minutes.  Adjust seasonings.

 

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It’s that day of the year again!  The annual gorge fest of all things fried, sauced, cheesed and washed down with beer or worse yet sugary soda!

This is the one Sunday in the year when all Pfiizer executives gather in the company head quarter’s conference room around a giant TV screen gleefully counting their shares of stock.  Just think what this day means to Lipitor sales!!!!

We start out on the wrong nutrition-health-wise foot early in the day with pre-game munchies:  Cheese Nachos are a favorite – Just open up a bag of Tostados or other fried corn chip laden with sodium and cholesterol and melt American cheese (the high fat content kind)  on top with a little melted butter and there you have them – Quick Cheese Nachos.   Put out a few bowls of  Honey-roasted peanuts (certainly not almonds!), and  some bowls of buttered popcorn.  I especially like making a 7 Layer Dip which has at least a couple of ingredients from the food pyramid such as sour cream and cheese (dairy), salsa, onions and olives (vegetables) and refried beans (fiber).  Also popular is the thick and creamy spinach and artichoke  dip which affords you the opportunity to use pita bread, chunks of pumpernickel, Fritos, potato chips or corn Bugles for dipping.

English: Picture of delicious-looking Bagel Bi...

Pizza Bagel Bites

Once the empty beer bottles start lining up on the counter, you know it’s time to bring out round two of the food! Hey-did the game begin yet?  Favorites include pizza in almost any form.  You can buy pizza rolls, pizza bagel bites  or make your own pizza bites  by spreading Ragu tomato sauce on a toasted English muffin, sprinkled with Kraft Parmesan cheese (the kind in the green cylinder container).  Oooh yummy!

Probably the best-loved dish of the day is Buffalo Wings!   Really, what would any Super Bowl party be without some hot and spicy wings?  You can buy them in most grocery stores this weekend, sometimes fresh but certainly frozen.  OR you can make them;  You start with (skin-on) chicken wings and after coating them with butter and flour,you fry them AND then sauce them with a mixture of Tabasco sauce, cayenne pepper and  garlic powder.  Some people bake them but that really eliminates a lot of the fat content, and who wants to do that?

By Halftime, the crowd, now a bit fuzzy from carb-overload and alcohol, gets up and stumbles around to grab a bowl of chilli.  There are SO many chilli recipes with the bean-n0 bean rivalry, it’s hard to pick one that pleases everyone.  Fortunately at this point in the evening, no one really cares or wonders if the chilli is made with beef or turkey or with or without beans as long as the side dishes of sour cream, sliced jalapenos, sliced black olives and guacamole are out

Do we have more beer in the refrigerator?

Monday Morning Quarterbacking begins early tomorrow, so make sure to call your cardiologist early in the morning for an appointment!

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