Thursday, December 31, 2009

Surviving New Year's Eve!

One of my "least" favorite holidays is New Year's Eve...always has been, even in my "younger" days... Why... Beware when "non drinkers" decide to drink... one of the other holidays I say that about is "St. Paddy's Day"... having spent many March 17 in the city and seeing kids who drank too much... trust me, not pretty.

New Year's Eve... it's almost depressing to means the "end" to Christmas, the tree is dry and drooping, and it's time for the long winter with the only other holiday lurking around the corner ... St. Valentine's Day (which I do enjoy)...

It's just one of those things... I'm happy to be home, safe and sound with my immediate family - ah hem, who am I kidding - our son is NEVER home on this night, and it's one night I'm not nestled into bed until he is home and safe... (reality, I'm on chauffeur duty... for obvious reasons)! 
I wish EVERYONE a very peaceful and healthy New Year...we all deserve that!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thankful for great cousins!

My cousin Karin and Caroline
Some of my favorite memories growing up were spending them with cousins...I'm grateful to still be in touch with many of them, on both sides of my family. I spent a lot of time with "The Kish" family, including a summer in London when I was 16... a lot of time in Vermont and many memories of family times together! (I remember our parents ALWAYS laughing and "partying")  Karen is the oldest of 7,  her daughter Caroline is my godchild and was my flower girl when she was 5! It was wonderful to spend a couple of days with them in VA right after Christmas... How I wish they lived closer!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Boxing Day!

Boxing Day... always posted on our calendars, not many know the tradition of "Boxing Day"... celebrated in the British Isles.  In Ireland, December 26th is also St. Stephen's Day. The origin of Boxing Day is the day after Christmas when servants are given off and receive a "Christmas Box" from their master... usually a collection of money for the poor - all domestic help are "off" on this day and a box with gifts is given to them. It's also a day celebrated with guests often popping in for a snack and a quick drink, the food and drink on Boxing Day is more relaxed than Christmas Day. It is a legal holiday.. no one is running to do returns on December 26th, and certainly NEVER working... We need to slow down and celebrate Boxing Day here in the states!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Wishing you a Joyous Christmas!

May his love and presence fill you and bring you a most Joyous Christmas!
May peace be your gift at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

Mom - dancing at my 50th birthday party!

Today is my Mom's Birthday... Every December 23rd... I think celebrating 2 days before Christmas has to be much better than 2 days after Christmas... we are all in the "Christmas Spirit"... I love celebrating Mom's birthday... she always feels "badly" because it's "on top" of Christmas (I think every birthday cake has pointsetta's on it) ...I refuse to complain.  Mom is 81 today... that's worth celebrating... at 81 my Mom text messages all of her grandchildren (she learned the way they respond)... very proficient on the computer and still as sharp as a tack... may I be as blessed when I'm "close" to that age! Happy Birthday deserve ONLY the best... Love you!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas "Book Group"...

A FAVORITE Christmas event is our annual "book group" Christmas Dinner... A wonderful evening of the same 7 women for over 5 years!  Funny thing... we FORGOT to discuss the latest book "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett! 

Monday, December 21, 2009


"A Christmas Story"
One of my favorite things to share and hear are other people's "traditions"... cut and paste and share yours too! 

Eggnog or hot chocolate? Neither (I HATE eggnog and hot chocolate I don't associate with Christmas) - BUT... Mulling spices in cider w/ a tad of something to "spike" it... YUM.
Does Santa wrap the presents or leave them open under the tree? I wrap them all now... but grew up to toys NEVER wrapped.

Colored lights on a tree or white? White. But do love to see other's trees and appreciate them all!

Do you hang mistletoe? Most years... hmmm I actually bought it this year and it must have been thrown out in the bag...(It just occurred to me)!

When do you put your decorations up? Usually the first weekend in December... I start them... I did "less" this year, hand picked what I wanted in the attic and left a few boxes (and NO one misses them, or realized it)!!
What is your favorite holiday dish? Christmas Eve we ALWAYS have stone crabs that were flown in from Naples, Florida...our tradition and we LOVE them... Prime Rib on Christmas Day.

Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We give our son 1 gift. Phil and I exchange on Christmas Eve...the rest come from Santa on Christmas Morning!

How do you decorate your Christmas tree? Traditional...ANYTHING goes!

Snow: love it or hate it? LOVE IT.

Can you ice skate? NOT WELL... and have not tried it in years!

What is your favorite holiday dessert? Pecan Pie... I'd eat it at EVERY holiday, if I could!

What is your favorite holiday tradition? Getting up EARLY and waiting for Gene, even this year at 21!!! When I was a kid it was going to our stocking and being allowed to eat candy before breakfast!

Candy canes: yum or yuck? Yum.

Favorite Christmas show? "A Christmas Story" but I DO also love "The Grinch"!

Thank You "Preppy Player"... made it an "easy" post!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A "first" for me... Emailing my Cards!

This is a "first" for me... (I sent this via email)... if I received this from someone (years ago)... I'd have something to say, I'm sure... after all, how impersonal can you get???  Well, I hope no one was offended...but the fact is...I'm running out of time and something has to "give"... I actually enjoyed creating this original card of family photo's this past year... I'll send cards next year... I don't want to loose touch with too many special people who I ONLY hear from once a year... (and many are not checking their emails)... I love Christmas...and one of my favorite traditions is to open up cards... especially when there is a "personal" note, not a typed letter to the world bragging about how "great" everyone is in the family... (those I save for a family dinner and we all "crack" up over I do hope we receive a is rather amusing for us). 
Count down...less than a week before Christmas!  The week leading up to Christmas is my favorite week of the entire year... the anticipation, having everyone home or arriving! 

Friday, December 18, 2009

Annual Department Christmas Party...

One of the "BEST" things about the working world is the annual Christmas Party... I've been to many and it's just great when everyone is in good form and there to have fun!

Sister at the gift exchange...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

1 Week Till Stone Crabs!!!

One week from tonight (Christmas Eve) we will be eating our FAVORITE traditional meal... stone crabs. It all started when we were first married and I ordered them as a "surprise" for Phil on Christmas Eve... it's been our family tradition every Christmas Eve since then! We order them (religiously) from Capri Fisheries in Naples Florida... they are Prohibitive ... but once a year... we splurge. We have creamed spinach and onion rings as well... it's easy...but oh so good and it's all about tradition!

We highly recommend Capri... delivered overnight to your door (Well, Fed Ex has kept us on our toes many years...but they always arrive on time)!  Harvesting is accomplished by removing one or both claws from the live animal and returning it to the ocean where it can regrow the lost limb(s).
Check out Capri Fisheries ~

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

NYC at Christmas!!!

A perfect day in the city... It felt so good because I did something I wanted to do... part of me thought I "should" finish my shopping, write my cards (oh wait, I'm not doing them this year), bake my whiskey cakes (I'm not doing them either)... but I blew off my "to do" list and spent a perfect day in the city.
It started with my little cousin's Holiday Concert at her Montessori School on the Upper West Side... what better way than to hear little voices singing 9 songs...

I met a great friend for lunch, and we managed to do some shopping... (where else, Williams Sonoma) - we had so much fun....Cindy left with bags that were filled! 

I made it a point to see "the tree", I heard it was beautiful this year, I thought - ah,  it looks the same every year.... but, it was beautiful this year... So were the Christmas windows at Saks...

Popped into Henri Bendel - great 'frivolous" shopping - a store I can't EVER imagine my husband tolerating!

And ended with special people at a great NYC watering hole...
Pig n Whistle Irish Pub!!! 

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This Christmas...

No Cards... No Baking. A VERY different turn for me... I'm "shocking" people I'm not sending cards... Maybe if I had a nice family picture I'd buckle and do a card... but it never happened this year and sending pre-ordered picture cards with signature is SO EASY... I can't sign 100 cards (and for me it's an all or nothing task). NO baking? I don't think so, if everything else gets done and time allots, maybe I'll do a few specialities... (maybe)  It's the year of change for me... Our family all discussed scaling back - especially between the adults, after all, we ALL NEED NOTHING. When I hear on the news that shopping is down from other years, I feel great that I'm contributing to that status. For some reason... I don't think the 3 wise men who brought the birth of Jesus each a gift ever thought Christmas would come to what it has!
What I'm happy to still be doing is emphasizing what we all have, keeping the traditions that are important to our family...some outreach to many less fortunate and reminding myself to be grateful for what we are blessed with! 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have you tried it?

Last night...after ringing up my "upteenhundreth" tin of Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark... a customer said to me... This is like crack in my house... once we open the pound tin, we can't stop until it's all gone! I truly "laughed out loud"... I've NEVER seen anything like it. Have you tried it? At $26.50 for a 1 lb tin... it flies off the shelves! Personally, I'm not a fan of it at all... but I don't share that while I'm ringing it up!

Oh, and to make it a fun December, one of the managers (favorite) and I have a contest... can we go the entire month of December without sampling 1 piece of any candy... to date, we're both in the running (unless she's cheating)... but knowing Lisa, I don't think so!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree...

Is your Christmas Tree up yet? The more people I talk to, the more I feel like the minority... nor have we bought it yet. As a kid, our tree NEVER went up before the Sunday before Christmas...I remember it well, it was a family event, everyone was home and participated! The flip side is everyone wants to take their tree down on the 26th, Boxing Day... and as a kid our tree stayed up until "Little Christmas", the Epiphany - January 6th. (The 12 days of Christmas, Twelfth Night)...Maybe the merchants who have Christmas STUFF out in September have made us feel the pressure of getting it up sooner??? Anyway - ours is not up and maybe this weekend coming up, and maybe the following weekend - after all, that is still 1 week before Christmas!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Talk about a "Diamond in the Rough"

A Happy Ending Story...
A few weeks ago I noticed one of the diamonds was missing in my engagement ring... my sisters and mom were over, we all started hunting on the floor... I noticed it on my stove... (We all thanked St. Anthony...I was VERY lucky)... I went to the jeweler... the woman said all the prongs looked worn and I agreed to have the jeweler fix them all. This is a special ring... the center diamond was given to me by my mother, it was one my dad gave to her... the side diamonds were earrings Phil gave to me for my 40th birthday, they fell out twice (even with a screw back)... I had my ring re-set with 3 diamonds... my "favorite" piece of jewelry. I picked up my ring 2 weeks ago, OH SO shiny and new looking!!! Yesterday while in a meeting I noticed 1 of  the side diamonds was gone. This time I was not so lucky...even with the meeting coming to an end and everyone hunting with me to try and find it... I phoned the jeweler... I was very nice - he remembered me and the ring and said to come in. I went there yesterday...he was VERY nice, looked under a microscope and showed me that the diamond that was there was the one he put back... it was obvious under the microscope... I agreed... BUT... nicely said "I was asked if I wanted all the prongs tightened, paid for that service and received the ring back assuming it was repaired"... He said "I will call you tomorrow and see what I can do"... OK... without making a "fuss" I said - thank you. We all had a different scenario on what he would do??? He called me today, asked if I found the stone... and of course I had not - He said he would replace the diamond, re-set it and it would be ready in a week, he has to order the stone! Was I happy???? Of course I thanked him and said if I find the stone, I will bring it back to him, and I would of course do that... I'm constructing a nice letter to the local paper thanking him; I truly was shocked, grateful and will always remember how polite and honorable he was... Thank you Plaza Jewelers in Waldwick, NJ
Now, isn't that a happy ending?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Meeting Cardinal McCarrick

Procession before Mass (I'm in red jacket)

Cardinal McCarrick and Father Charlie
It was a great day at my parish last Sunday, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick visited and was our Presider at Mass. The Cardinal recently served as Archbishop of Washington after he was elevated to a Cardinal in 2001. It was his second visit to our parish, he's a soft spoken and gentle man with a loving smile and sincere and humble personality.  It was an extra special day for me having the opportunity to serve as a eucharistic minister at this special celebration with him.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet Caroline!

June, 1987 ~ Caroline on my wedding day!
I came home to a package... from my Godchild (cousin), Caroline. What a nice surprise...  Caroline was my flower girl, she was 5 and just precious - I was so proud and happy to have her in our wedding. Now...some 20+ years later, it's funny how the "tables have turned" to receive such a thoughtful gift... it's not the first I've received from her.

I have a "red" reputation in the family...and it still holds true, I love red, I love December, I love Christmas! So, I opened up my first gift... a beautiful red shawl/scarf - I can't wait to wear it! Thank you, Sweet Caroline!!!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thank you "Eddie Bauer"!

Of course I could be TOTALLY wrong... but I "want" to believe I may have had "something" to do with this...
I've reflected on this before... my "pet peeve" with Eddie Bauer was advertising free shipping, then sneaking in a "handling" charge, and they taxed the handling charge, even on items in NJ (no sales tax on clothes in NJ)... I had many back and forth emails from them, Eddie Bauer said it was a NJ law to charge tax on "shipping"... I relentlsessly showed every other retailer that when advertising free shipping they do not charge for handling and NO one charges any form of tax...
Today I saw this email...
NO Shipping Charge, No Handling Charge and
No Tax!

Time to order the vest that has had my my name on it all season!

And, Thank you Eddie Bauer!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Meet the Sparkles Cheerleaders!

The tears were running down my face. Last night I caught Oprah at 1:00 AM (waiting for my son to come home, yes, I still wait up)... She featured "hero's" my favorite segment -  "The Pleasant Valley Sparkles Cheerleaders".  High School Cheerleaders, who have embraced special need students... it all started with one of the girls when she started cheering on the Special Olympics. 
So inspiring, so sincere!  Take a look...........

Monday, November 23, 2009

Turnips... don't knock them if you haven't tried them!

You either love them or hate them. Growing up, I was in the "hate" them category... but it's just NOT Thanksgiving without them. Now, I absolutely love them, and will cook them throughout the fall and winter.  They're of Swedish origin, common in The British Isles... frequently (usually) referred to as "yellow turnip" or just "turnips".  Since commonly confused with "white turnips", the correct name is "rutabaga". They are hard to cut, but so easy to cook... just like boiled potatoes, cut up, peal and boil. I follow my mother's way, and her mother's way... put in 1 or 2 potatoes in with the cut up turnips while cooking.  My grandmother, who bought her fresh vegetables daily, always bought 2, one time she bought 1 and it was rotten or stringy inside... this way she had a back up. Grandma Cravin was NOT one to waste food and from modest means... but every time I pick one out to purchase, I always think of her... and I never buy just one!

Try them, a little bitter, but a distinguished flavor... delicious!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Don't Mess with the Turkey!

The most traditional meal (to me) is Thanksgiving - we have our favorites for other holidays...but don't mess with Thanksgiving Dinner. It's not the time to try a "Southwestern Turkey"... not in my house anyway - and from talking and listening to's the same in most families! Frequently everyone likes to make their traditional food the same way someone made it in their home growing up. I always woke up to smelling onions and celery cooking on the stove in herbs... it is my earliest memory, my mom always stuffed the we always stuff the turkey too (and we never take the internal temperature to be sure it's hot enough and killed potential bacteria...and NONE of us have ever been sick)... I "love" to hear people's traditions... I'm always fascinated how Italians have pasta first... I love pasta, but never on Thanksgiving. I think my favorite reason I love Thanksgiving is "no gifts"... it's all centered around a meal, always at the same table (never a kid table on Thanksgiving) ... and everyone celebrates... you just wonderful to say "Happy Thanksgiving" and NOT Have a nice Holiday... (that bugs me)...

Pecan Pie... My FAVORITE!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Oh No...No More Oprah???

Who can forget this famous show in 1988? 
OH NO...

No more Oprah... She is brilliant and knows after 25 years to leave while "on top"
I don't think this is the LAST of her, this mega woman will not be going away.
I don't watch her show much can I? Some sleepless nights I've found myself tuning in at 1:00 AM...
So...we know she will be on live until September, 2011 - it's not EVEN 2010 and we will hear about the count down I'm sure. I still remember Johhny Carson's last show with Bette Midler on it... who do you think will be Oprah's last guest?
Do you remember this:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meet the Schneiders!!!

Introducing the "latest and greatest" in the Schneider Family... Josh and Kyllie 4 months old with proud parents Nilcee and Gary! I've known Gary since 1982? we spent the summer together in New Hampshire both doing summer stock theatre... 8 full blown plays/musicals in 10 weeks. It was wonderful, full cast of characters! I was the stage manager for the company, Gary was a performer. I liked him right away, he was a character and I gravitated to his humor and honesty! We've become close friends and I remember him visiting me when my son was an infant, this single guy drove out from Long Island to visit! Gary and Nilcee just had their first children, twins born July 15th. I finally got to meet them, I'm the proud Aunt! Our children are 21 years apart in age... they have a lifetime of beautiful memories to share with their "instant" family. This was a blessing for them and how wonderful it was to be smothered with 2 beautiful babies!
Thanks Mariann and Rob for hosting us...such a "happy" occasion!

Mariann, Susan, Nilcee with Josh and Kyllie!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happy Birthday Ellen!

"Downey Girls"

Celebrating Ellen's 45th Birthday!

"The Hylas Family" at Katie's Middlebury Graduation, 2009

Happy Birthday to my "older" sister! Ellen has spent the week making dinners and cakes celebrating her husband's and daughter's birthday...then comes hers (like they need ANOTHER cake in the house)! But she deserves it, the biggest and best cake!  Not only do we live in the same town, we work at the same University together, but our lives usually cross the most in the town A&P!  Ellen's been a great sister, pillar of support, she shows unconditional love for her family and deserves a GREAT day! Happy Birthday Ellen! I love you!

State of Mind!

"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I hope it's contagious!

Mom at 80 doing the Irish Jig at a Bar with my sister, Sheila. 

My mother, the eternal optimist...
these are the kinds of emails we LOVE to get!
"Hi Girls, Good news for me. Dr. said I might make 100. I am in good shape and have nothing serious to worry about.

Love, Mom"

Then...a few minutes later, this arrived from one of my nieces...

"The Cardiologist told Grandma she will probably live to be 100 this morning.