Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Wonderful, Welcoming and Wii...

We had a wonderful Christmas! It was the best for me because I got to go back to Long Island and see my brother and his family. I also got to spend an afternoon with my BFF, Barbara. But first, we spent Christmas Eve at Aunt Joan's. Aunt Joan is my sister-in-law, Margaret's aunt. The family tradition is to have everyone meet at Aunt Joan's on Christmas Eve. Over the years new generations have been added, extended family members have been welcomed and it's a wonderful party for all. The youngest is Danny, the baby of the family who is adored by everyone. Danny is about 2 years old and the center of attention. The elder of the family is Aunt Joan at the youngest 80 something I've ever met!

Santa arrives around 8:00 and hands out presents for all the 'kids'. This year the presents were widespread and included a couple of bottles of Patron. Santa knows how to shop! Anyway, the house is so full of people you can't move. The younger ones are in the basement watching movies, the guys are in the dining room talking sports, the 'Captain' holding court. The teens and 20 somethings are in the kitchen and spilling out to the living room and the rest of the cousins are eating, talking, laughing spread out everywhere else.

This year there was a sing-a-long. Not exactly the traditional Christmas music, this was a Springsteen, Meatloaf kinda caroling. The college kids and 20 somethings started the show. What was great was that their parents and grandparents joined in! Aunt Joan was rocking along with everyone else. When I pointed out Aunt Joan's singing prowess to my brother he said, "Aunt Joan has been to more Springsteen concerts than I have!" After Springsteen, they rolled into Meatloaf''s "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" with Aunt Joan right in the middle. (She's the cute little elf with the green Santa hat on the left, below).

Christmas morning we were all at Brion and Maggies' opening presents. Alexa FINALLY! got her decorated can. She's been bugging me for years to do a can so this year I finally got with it and did her can and hid her pink iPod Nano inside. Don't ask about hooking up the iPod and adding music because right now I'm doing this entry because I can't get her computer to connect to the internet do just that, arrgghh!$%&#@!

Here are a couple of photos of us opening presents...That's Norm with his "Filthy Shakespeare", compliments of me LOL! and Maggie with tickets to 'Guys and Dolls' from her daughter, Mehgan for a Mother-Daughter girl's night out! Next is Mehgan on the left with a new external hard drive for her computer and Brion trying to figure out what the heck to do with hickory slabs (they're for the grill he's going to buy for his boat with the GC that came with the slabs!)

Montana, the wonder dog, waiting for a buscuit, or a shrimp, which ever came her way first,

and Norm, Alexa and me enjoying a wonderful Christmas!

The next day we trekked into Manhattan and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Who knew my brother liked Picasso!?! He didn't until he saw some of his work. The museum was very busy and a good portion of the second floor was closed for renovation. Here are some of my faves and two of us. Who knew we could take pictures of the artwork!

Maggie, Lex and me in front Louis Comfort Tiffany's 'Wisteria'. Norm, Brion, Lex and Maggie in the Egyptian temple exhibit.

Brion deciding he doesn't care for Van Gogh as he looks at his "Irises". Finally, John Singer Sargent's 'Madame X', and Monet's 'Water Lillies' - how gorgeous!

After we left the museum we went to Tony diNapoli's on 83rd and 2nd for dinner. We picked...there was nothing left of family style platters of Veal Parmesan, Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Francais and Penne in Marinara. Then came dessert - can you say Chocolate Decadence?? we could, we did, we finished the plate! We should have walked back to Bayshore, but we caved and took the subway back to Penn Station and the LIRR home. It was a wonderful day and Alexa got to sleep over her aunt and uncle's house - a perfect ending!

Next day, Saturday, it was warm, in the 50's but we had a light rain. I met Barbara at Katy Daly's in Massapequa. This restaurant/bar has been there for well over 30 years. Barbara and her husband Mike used to go on dates there. We stayed until the bartender started giving us the evil eye and then moved on to a local diner because, of course, we weren't through talking! To tell the truth we weren't through when we finally had to say goodbye, bummers! Here we are holding the camera out at arms length trying to get a photo at Katy Daly's...

We hooked up with Vicky and Ed, Maggie's brother and sister-in-law and their foster daughter, Samantha and went to a Japanese restaurant Saturday night. It was the first time for the kids, Joe included. I think they really got a kick out of watching the chef put on a show. The girls, Samantha and Alexa also managed to wangle a sleepover at Aunt Maggie's house after dinner so we were girless for two nights! Here we all are and here is the chef doing his hibachi thing...

Lastly, I did include 'Wii" in my header, didn't I. We have been telling Alexa for several years now that no way, no how were we ever going to get one of those video game boxes, x-boxes, whatamacallits - not us!
Well, we caved, what else is new! We bought, for the family mind you, a Wii console and Wii Fit. Alexa's grandmother got her 'Dance, Dance, Revolution' for Wii also. We left all the Wii stuff at home and had a second Christmas with Norman's mother when we got back from the island. Needless to say, Alexa opened the Wii before I could get in place to get a reaction shot from her. So here is a very happy, if not posed shot of Alexa and the Wii! That's about a wrap (ha, ha) for our Christmas in New York - both of them.

I finished this post a little after 1:00 a.m. on January 1st. We stayed up and watched the ball drop - very anti-climatic, but Alexa wanted to see it. Her first words of the New Year were, "For my birthday I'm thinking about a skating party..." You see, she's not allowed to talk about her birthday party until the first of the year. I think she set a new record, 12:01, January 1, 2009.
Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2008

On the second day of winter...

Mother Nature gave to me...
A bright and white winter's day...
P.S. - and both DH and daughter home for the day!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Welcome Winter... what!?!?

Welcome to the first day of winter in Buffalo! This is the view out our large picture window! We had snow on Friday that kept the schools closed and we woke up to white out conditions this morning. Here are a few other views...

I stuck the camera out the front door and pointed it down the street to the right...Then I pointed the camera to the left. The plow guy was here shortly before I took this photo. The snow is now pushed up almost to the top of the plow marker on either side of the drive...

Finally, this is right in front of the front door. We have a row of short hedges in front of the house. We had about 8 inches on Friday and I think we've gained another 6 today. Alexa is already lobbying for no school tomorrow - and Tuesday!

Mom says, - Let those school busses roll!!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Back in the day...

Everywhere I go these days I keep hearing the phrase "Back in the day". Now, for me, back in the day would be a day a very, very, very long time ago, like turn of the century or earlier. What I'm slowly figuring out is that back in the day, today, means -- when I was a kid or teenager. Not good, not good...

I've been Christmas shopping and observing my Christmas 'traditions' such as they are. Here are some of my Christmas 'Back in the Dayisms".

Our dining room table with our coffee cup Santa, a handstitched table runner (I think I made it. If not, my mom did).

Back in the day...I'd make my Christmas list and hope my parents and Santa knew about that doll or game or book I wanted. It was always a toss up if I got the items on my list. Santa seemed to be a very independent minded individual back then and I sometimes got what he thought was best vs. what I thought was best.

Today - I have to beg to get a list from Alexa. When I do, it's typewritten, on the computer along with photos and URL's to websites with the specific items and accessories listed.

Back in the day...My dad would get out the card table, his master address list, several boxes of cards and a roll of stamps and write out all the Christmas cards. That was his job. I never recall seeing my mom do them. Maybe because she did all the cooking and cookie baking.

My nutcracker collection.

Today - I do all the Christmas cards. I pick them out or pick a picture and send away for photo cards. I had all the addresses on my computer but I need to re-do the list, so this year I hand addressed them all. But I must confess, I haven't done cards the previous two years so just to let people know we haven't fallen off the face of the earth, I'm sending out cards.

The mantle in the family room. My Santas are along the top and our stockings hang below. All were handmade except the one on the far right. From l-r Normans (by me - felt applique), Alexas (by Eleanor Engelmann - quilted) and mine (by me - the 12 Days of Christmas in cross stitch).

Back in the day... I'd go out with my dad to buy a live tree and my dad was in charge of trimming the bottom and setting the tree in the tree holder and then raising the tree. My mother, in the role of the "Boss" would supervise and direct the operation once the tree was in the house.

This is the living room 'Wegman's Tree', a first this year.

Today - I bring up the trees - plural, from the basement because we haven't done a live tree in several years and we now do four trees - the family room traditional tree, my color coordinated Wegman's tree, Alexa's 4 ft. girly, girl tree and a small 2 1/2 ft. tree that I won in a charity Chinese auction. This does not include the ceramic lighted tree I made for my mom over 35 years ago. My husband, the dad - does nothing, except maybe watch from the sofa. Note: Norm will say I do it all because I'm too picky to let anyone else do it.

Back in the day...My mom was in charge of placing the ornaments on the tree. I was allowed to help, but I had to adhere to mom's master plan.

Today - I decorate all the trees except Alexa's- she's in charge of that one. One reason she has her own tree was because I thought it would be special for her. She thinks that she's entitled to one and my decorations are boring! Her decorations are much more 'with it' or, shiny, lotsa glitter! Norm - he may look up from the couch and nod once in a while.

Alexa's tree...

Back in the day...My dad was in charge of putting up all the outside lights and decorations, buying the wreath for the door. A week or so after Thanksgiving dad, on his own, would pull all the decorations out, check the lights and bulbs and climb the ladder and string the lights. Mom - did nothing, except come out and inspect when all was done.

Today - The lights outside don't get done...unless I do them. Even if Norm thinks to get out the lights, I'm either expected to help or when he can't figure out how to connect them, I get to do them all. If I don't get a chance to get them out before the weather turns, then I get Alexa on my case wondering , "Mom, when are you doing the lights outside?" Either that or my MIL, not to subtly, points out that the neighbors across the street have all their lights out right after Thanksgiving. She saw the neighbors stringing lights early the day after Thanksgiving, in the rain, snow coming down, minus freezing temperatures - and they're even older than we are. That's the way it was done in her know - Back in the day!

Our family room tree, with all our favorite ornaments. Many are handmade including over 20 cross stitch Santas on perforated paper made by myself and my mom. There are also a few crocheted balls made by my grandmother and a couple of crewel ornaments made by me.

Well, I'm always a day late and an ornament short, but here are my trees and decorations and as in back in the day, I'll probably get to put them all away too!
Well, that's it. I want to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. DM

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Christmas is coming the geese are getting fat..."

I've always liked that old English Christmas song -."..won't you please put a penny in the old man's hat. If you haven't got a penny a hay-penny will do. If you haven't got a hay-penny, God bless you! "

Christmas IS coming and I'm trying to a bit more HO! HO! HO!and less BAA HUMBUG! than I've been tbe last two years. I'm 90% done with shopping and the rest is easy. I finished my 25 tags for our tag swap at the store.
I'm 95% done wrapping what I've purchased so far. I do have one, maybe two projects to finish for gifts - and the reservations are made for Long Island - Maggie, please make your homemade Baileys!

I'm so looking forward to spending Christmas with my brother and his family. I'm also looking forward to a New York pizza one night. I not only go home for the family, I go home for the food!

But I digress...I've managed to put up one tree - that's right, one, meaning there will be more than one. The last two houses we've lived in have had large picture windows in the front. I've always wanted to have one of those beautiful color/ornament/ribbon/trim/garland - cordinated trees - you know, like the ones in Macy's or heck, even Wegman's (this year's inspiration and shopping source). How bizarre is it that I bought 99% of the ornaments and decorations for this tree in a supermarket. Those of you out there that don't have a Wegman's, you don't know what you're missing! Alexa and I had lunch at Wegman's the other day and this is looking down from the sitting area to the center of the gourmet/deli/bakery/fish/meat aisle. You can see the sushi makers directly below us.

Like a good little do-bee, I ran out on Thanksgiving night, hit Michael's 50% off all artificial trees lighted over 7.5 ft. and by Saturday noon, the tree was up. I had boxes of coordinated ornaments in red, green, gold and white. I put all the ornaments on and lit'er up! From outside it looked great, from inside, not so much... it needed MORE! more balls, more specialty ornaments, more garland, more coordinating picks - you know MORE! So on the guise of picking up a prescription, I was the mad shopper gobbling up all the coordinated ornaments that went on my 'Wegman's' tree . I didn't even have to travel to several Wegman's to get what I wanted.

Now I just have to decorate the rest of living room, the dining room, the family room and Alexa's room - yes, she gets her own tree - green with pink, purple and lime green ornaments! I also have a little surprise for her which I'll post when it's done. Don't forget to check out the BSS Blog for pictures of our day after Christmas make n' take and some Christmas decorating photos.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who needs Google with readers like you!

I made what I thought was going to be a rhetorical question about 'catsup' and 'ketchup' and I got several replies telling me of the origins of both the words and the product. Can I send you Alexa's homework questions? I could really use the help sometimes.

I've been a bad, bad blogger, not checking in, no posting, but I have been busy. Let me go back a bit. First, we had a wonderful weekend in Cleveland - as we do every year.
As you can see, Norm has his Browns gear on, I've got my Browns gear on...Alexa - that's another story. She's willing to wear Browns gear as long as it "doesn't have 'Cleveland', 'Browns', or 'football' written on it anywhere OR as long as it's NOT orange or brown. That kinda cuts down on the options.
They were celebrating Veterans Day at the stadium so they did a really nice pre-game show with members of all of the armed forces and a fabulous fly-over that was timed perfectly with the end of the Star Spangled Banner. It was very, very special.
On the home front. I've been working a lot at the store as Dimitra is still in Greece. First, we had Stamp Camp, then breaking down Halloween and setting up for Christmas and in between we started a 25 Days of Christmas tag swap. We have 25 people signed up, everyone picks a number from 1-25 and we are all creating a tag - and 25 copies! We'll use a Bind-it-All to attach them all together and each one of us will have a complete set. It's a lot of work and I've got to get them finished tonight! I'll post a picture once we've exchanged tags (don't want to let my 'design' out of the bag!)
I also did a class project based on mirrored frame that Karen Lockhart sent us after she did a class at the store. I love her stamps and decided to recreate it with a few changes. I didn't have anyone for the class, but I did have 3 people sign up for a class kit. It took a day to put it all together along with instructions. Here is what the final project looked like.
Lastly, Happy Thanksgiving to everyone out there. I'm ditching my cooking responsibilities and we're going out to dinner on Thursday. With the four of us, it's sooooo... much easier. No tackling the Black Friday shopping crowds either. I'm almost done shopping and there's nothing I need to brave gridlock for. So if I'm a good girl, I'll get a tree up and or do Christmas cards for the first time in three years - and no, I didn't make them - let's be serious here. I'll be back soon and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend and as my friend Marty recently drummed into my brain - Isn't it ironic that the only thing a turkey can say is "Gobble, Gobble"? (it took me a day to get that one!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Catsup or Ketchup - Whatever!

Just a short post to let you know I'm still here. I was supposed to join the ladies, my Sweatshoppe girlies for a weekend of relaxation and scrapbooking but as they say, life happens when you're making other plans. Norm had to fly off to China for 10 days and Alexa needs her 24/7 chauffeur. I'll fill you all in later on Cleveland, China, Halloween and what's new but I've got to hustle for work.

P.S. - why would anyone name a tomato puree "Catsup"? What's that about anyway?
P.S.S. - is ketchup any better?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

This past weekend we made our yearly trip to Cleveland to see the Browns. We got the Browns and then some. Senator Obama had a huge rally scheduled right outside our hotel, between the hotel and the Browns Stadium. What made it even better was Bruce Springsteen was his opener! We went to the game, (Browns lost, bummer) and then we joined the 80-100,000 waiting for Springsteen and Obama. The crowd was very large and very diverse. Young, old, middle aged, white, black, every combination you could imagine. We couldn't see the stage but they had big screens set up and we could see Springsteen on them. He was great! After he finished, he introduced Obama and the cry of "Yes we can!" sprang up in the crowd.

Obama was eloquent, focused, confident and respectful. Alexa has been asking a lot of questions about the election and we've both been trying to explain the process and the candidates without overly influencing her to think our way. It's been difficult. For Alexa it comes down to who is 'good' and who is 'bad'. She's very black and white, no pun intended. Getting her to see shades of gray and learning that in many cases there are no absolutes is a challenge. So I've told her it comes down to respecting both these men for what they have done, who they are and what they want to do, and how they want to lead our nation. I've been very careful to try and get across to her that while I truly do respect John McCain and even like him - he's a hero for the sacrifices he made for our country during the Vietnam war and for the years of service he's given Arizona and our country in the Senate, that I don't always agree with all of his decisions or how he wants to institute change. I'm more comfortable and in sync with Senator Obama.

Alexa stayed up as late as she could manage, watching election results! Who knew?! She also told me what all her friend's parents were saying, who they were going to vote for, who her teachers where going to vote for! (Heaven only knows what Alexa tells her friends about us! I shudder to think about it!) Even this morning she was trying to figure out if McCain could still win because there were states that were still undecided!
Writing this post has been difficult for me. I do not like to air my political views in public. I'm very old school. What's that adage, 'Never talk about politics or religion" - well that's me. This year has been different. This election has been different. So I'm coming out of my political closet.

In the end, I was moved to tears by president-elect Obama's speech last night. I was touched and moved by Senator McCain's speech also. Both gave me hope that change can happen. That we can work together in the best interest of all Americans and not just of those who think like we do. I'd never seen crowds of people spontaneously pop up on election night all over the country the way they did in New York, Chicago, Washington, DC, cheering and joining together the way Americans did last night. It made me very proud of both candidates, and of our country, and the promise of a better America. It made me proud to be an American.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Double Nickles...

It is 12:01 on October 31. It's safe to admit it now...yesterday was my birthday. I'm birthday phobic and have been since I turned twenty eight (you can do the math). Anyway, as I was awake after midnight last night, I wished myself Happy Birthday and then stared at the ceiling for another hour or so as I couldn't go to sleep - my first birthday present of the day. My next present came as I got to have my daily struggle to get Alexa up and out for school. An argument a day keeps I don't know what away...

Screw this! My next present I gave myself - a chai tea latte with a piece of reduced fat blueberry coffee cake from Starbucks, ahh...peace and deliciousness! Off to work - not a hardship for me. Waiting for me was a lovely, sinful, decadent chocolate mousse truffle. An orgasm for the taste buds!! and a beautiful handmade card from Marty - THANK YOU!!!

I got home and found an Edible Arrangement of fruit, more deliciousness! This lovely present came from my bestest friend Barbara, who coined the 'double nickel' phrase on the card that came with the fruit. This has been a very gastronomic birthday so far. The trend continues...

Last week I got a box tower from Harry and David compliments of my daughter, Alexa. She was annoyed that they sent it so early but I have some serious nuts, truffles and moose munch in my future.

My last tasty treat for the day - a small package of mini-carrots came with the pizza and wings we had for dinner from my 'sweet baboo' otherwise known as Norman, my husband. Norm tossed them to me and said, "Here, Happy Birthday!" Norm admitted last night that he didn't have anything planned for my birthday. Instead I get to take him to Cleveland this weekend to see the Browns vs. Ravens. Now don't get me wrong, it's a fun trip, one I enjoy every year - until Norm and Alexa start complaining that I'm keeping them up with my 'breathing' (aka - snoring...) I love sleeping in the bathtub or on the floor!

Ah, least today (Friday) it will get a little better, Sharon, my boss, is buying me lunch - a whole sandwich! My fave, turkey and swiss with a little lettuce, tomato and onion on a sesame bagel. Now that's a bithday present!

Happy birthday to me!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Past...

A project I have on display at the store was begun by Alexa. She had come to work with me one day and wanted something to work on. Sharon gave her this cute Maya Road Owl chipboard mini-album. Alexa finished the cover and was not happy with it (she is such a perfectionist). I decided to take it home and do something with it so as not to waste the album. I came up with the idea of gathering all of Alexa's previous Halloween costume photos and making an album out of them

This is the cover. I took four different colors of Prima flowers and cut the petals off and layered them on the owl to look like feathers. The eyes are googly eyes and the nose is heart shaped rhinestone. Alexa's gold paint job shows through and I added some stickles to give it a little sparkle. I'm going to try and add the rest of the pages as a slideshow.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Here's what I've been doing lately...

I know I say I work in the BEST STAMP AND SCRAPBOOK STORE IN WESTERN NY (heck, the only stamp and scrapbook store in western NY it seems), well anyway, there is very rarely any ocular proof of this statement so I thought I'd post a mini-album I put together last weekend for Norman's cousin's daughter's bridal shower. I used a Basic Grey black chipboard shapes album and the new Basic Grey Line, .

First I have to apologize for the blurriness of the photos. Not sure what was going on there but I hope you can still get an idea what the pages looked like.

Each page was a different shape. I left a space for a picture to be put in a mat and some journaling.

Two pages were 1/2 hearts. This is the backside of one half. Here is the heart opened.

Cutting out the scallops on this page was fun - not!

As you can see, I used coordinated rub-ons and chipboard shapes along with flowers, coordinated brads and gemstones. A little ribbon finishes the tag pages.
This was the final page. It had three windows cut out of it. I just folded the paper around the frames fitted in a strip of the mat paper and then covered the backside with another sheet.
I'll take a picture, hopefully a better one, of a frame I made using Karen Lockhart stamp designs for the holidays. I brought it to work for display. I also have a little Owl mini book I made showcasing all of Alexa's Halloween costumes - very cute.