Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Let there be Peace

Wouldn't it be amazing if there was Peace on earth? It wouldn't take too much. It would take each individual to be kind and thoughtful. It would be for individuals to carry peace and joy in their hearts and to give it away every day. It would be for us to celebrate and embrace our differences because we can learn from one another.  It's our own uniqueness that makes our world an amazing place.  I invite you to sing along with these most talented children.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Kitchen Yeah!

Yes, it's done - Bob the Builder has done a great job in fitting the new microwave and hood into the current scheme of the kitchen. 

This is what I started with - ugh! First order of business - get new appliances especially the fridge.  It was running and running, so annoying.  The stove didn't work too well.  I finally gave up when baking a cake took twice as long as it should have.

So the new appliances arrived.  Thanks to my neighbor, Julie, she had done some homework and shared it with me.  That' when I found out that the microwave hood didn't fit.

It was too large compared to the space.  Oh well, Plan B into action.  Bob the 'all around fix it guy' was back in business after an extended shoulder injury.  Just in time, and of course there  was a list of lots of other items.

So here it is.  As he said, 'it was a bit crazy making the cabinet smaller and it became insane when the doors couldn't be made smaller'. I give him a lot of credit, especially while we were shopping in Lowes together to come up with a "fix".

Two brains, lots of patience on Bob's part, some stain, okay a couple of stains to match, and Plan B happened- voila doors with a black mesh sreen. 

Don't think a decorator could have done better!

Glad to have appliances that work and my electric bill went down $14 in the first month!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

First Day of Winter

While all of us are getting ready for the holidays - we are coming up to the first day of winter. The Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night on our calendar here in Connecticut. I enjoy the the winter and love the snow.  I look forward to seeing the snow fall, smelling the fireplaces burning, and enjoying the special drinks and foods that are only winter.  To bring in Winter, I'm featuring my niece, Taylor's video she made, set to Sara Bareille and Ingrid Michaelsons's song Winter Song.  Thank you Taylor, Thank you Sara and Ingrid, .... Enjoy!



PS about 100 days till Spring :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tis the Season - The White Tree

Two years ago I put up my white tree for the first time in a long time.  That year was special as my nephew, Seamus help decorate the tree.  This year, now the third time.  It has evolved a bit from the past years.  I found that those pics you get at the craft store make a lovely decoration to the end of the stick branches.  I found little doves in silver, gold, and white.  I  found some beautiful crystal icicles in Storrtown Village at the Big E.  Hand made and imported by Kurt Adler, they reflect the light so beautifully and add that extra sparkle to the tree.

The new addition to this year is a hand made crystal pineapple.  I found it at the Yankee Candle on my way back from New Hampshire.   Pineapples have long been a symbol of welcome, hospitality and wealth to all that live here.

It goes back to Christopher Columbus and to colonial America.  Once discovered, the pineapple became the 'treat of kings'.  No matter if you were back in Europe or here in colonial days, the pineapple became sought after.  Shop keepers were known rent out the pineapples before they were purchased by the more affulent families in the town.

In the seafaring towns of the east coast of America, the symbol of the pineapple can be seen in the architecture.  It was said that pineapples would be put out on the gate signifying that the sea captain was home and available to receive guests.

Time to take the tree out, set it up, and enjoy the ornaments that you have collected over the years.  No matter what holiday you celebrate, those decorations have stories.  Do you have the stories written down?  Hopefully this year, as you decorate for your holiday, you may have the chance to write about them.  

By the way, my tree is complete and I'll be enjoying it all month long!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spread Joy to Everyone

The season is upon us and it is the time we spread joy to those people we pass by each day. A nod, a smile, a simple greeting, it really doesn't take much. We don't know what is going on "over there". With a simple gesture, you may turn around someone's day. The reward is that you feel better and you smile deep down inside. What could happen, you may make it your daily rountine :) May you have lots of JOY in your life.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Give a Hug & Get a Hug

The holiday season has arrived. Some of us look forward to the festivies, parties, being with friends and family. There are a few humbugs and grumpies too.  So through this holiday season, I will be sending you little bits of inspirations that will raise your spirits and those around you.

Just imagine being in this square - hugs are the best, we all should have a dozen hugs a day.  Enjoy and I send you a big hug today.

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's was a Great Time - I am Thankful


Day Two - We were up pretty early to make breakfast and get underway to go to the Connecticut Science Museum.  This was a really big day.  We started in the water room and played with the various vortex water vessels and built water dams with Leggo's.

Then off to the top floor where we calculated our carbon footprints, saw the Connecticut river fishes and animals and the rocks from the glaciers that came through at the end of the ice age.  This wasn't on the hit parade for Seamus

The fifth floor offered probably the most fun.  The picture here was from the sports lab where we found he would be great at different sports.  In the pictures of health lab is the ever popular "mind game".  Two opponents strap on a headband that measures the alpha brain waves and the person with the higher waves attracts the ball towards them and subsequently loses the match.  The first time, AP won of course.  The second time (we went back three times), and after some coaching of how it works, he was able to come out victorious against another young boy like himself.

We traveled through space, saws nebulas, the sun and explored Saturn in the comfort of recliner space chairs.  Thank goodness, my feet were about to give up!

Going down - to floor four - gave us some time with race cars, sailing toy boats and balancing a beach ball on a stream of air.  We tried to beat the robot on making a puzzel, didn't win at this one.  The robot had much more experience and actually was quite funny;  imagine that!  We worked in the sight and sound lab and played with movements of how they affected sound. 

Before we could leave, we were back to the water room to play some more with the Leggo's.  I must say it was a great time with my 'favorite eight year old nephew'.  He's a joy to be with.  One evening I had him read to me a whole story - OutLoud - oh my goodness, you'd think I'd asked for some horrendous task to be done.  With some coaxing, he did read an entire story to me before dinner.  He did quite well, I was proud of him.

Bedtime is also special - there is the routine, jamies, teeth brushed - all of them, pick up the room, shoes by the door and then I get him tucked in with Koda and set the lights just so.  Then we talk - or should I say he talks, asks questions all about our day's activities.  Since we just did Thanksgiving dinner, we repeated "let's say thanks" each night and spoke about the who and what we are thankful for.

Dear Seamus - since you are not here tonight, I'll say my thanks and hope you dream of them.  I'm thankful that you come and stay with Aunt Patty; that we get to go and see Santa; that you help me with chores and do a very good job.  I'm thankful for you reading to me; for you trying raisin bread with cinnamon and sugar; for you learning to spell three words.... guitar, science, museum.   By the way, we will visit Hartford's library, the carousel, and go ice skating the next time.  Till then, love you bunches and sweet dreams.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New Checking Account According to Seamus

I need to have my nephew stay with me more often.  We get into so many "deep" subjects and his questions and comments can be priceless.  Super topics - I should call it "When the innocent talks".

We were talking about money.  Giving a tip at dinner, making money, saving money for college and writting a check.  Rembember he's eight years old.  I was telling him that I save some money and  I put a check for $100 into this college account.  He wanted to know if the check had to be $100 or could it be like $90?  Good question, though I was having a hard time following the train of thought.  I was able to finally have him understand that the check could be any amount, even let's say $38.24.  Oh, ... "that's good" he sighed.

Without missing a breath, he wanted to know where did the money come from to write a check.  Was there just a place where checks are?  Like extra money?  (this must be like a money fairy?)  After some discussion I told him if I wrote a check, the money would come out of my savings account.  The bank would transfer the amount from my account to his savings account.  He thought on it for awhile, then said flatly "okay I get it.  There is no extra money around somewhere."

Topic done - on to the next one!

Perfect Kick off to the Holiday Season

Once again I had the pleasure of having my nephew, Seamus, join me for the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It has been a whorl wind so far. 

We packed up from grandma's house, duffle and Coda, and we drove back, about an hour, to my place.  My nephew didn't stop talking.  He calls himself a 'chatterbox'.  Actually I don't think I know another kid his age (8 years) that could keep up with him.  He has an uncommon way of transforming a conversation and taking it off on tangents and all of a sudden he will say "hey, how did we get here?".  He's done it about three times in the 24 hours since he's arrived.

Thursday night isn't much, get a tour of the house, find all the light switches, reaquainte him to all the nuiances of my home so he will feel comfortable. 

Friday began with baking cinnamon buns.  It was really cute, he read all the directions including setting the clock and timer.  The Dough Boy helped out and Seamus placed the buns on the baking pan.  Mr. Eagle Eye kept watching the clock and the oven and thought it was really cool to see them rise.  Ding went the buzzer and we pulled them out - perfection was only a few dribbles of icing away.  He ate four of them along with a big banana and Aunt Patty's special/secret organge juice. 

Ok - we make the list of items to do, take care of chores and help Bob the Builder with several items he needs to take care of while we are gone.  There was lunch at Steve's; go to the Library for movies and books and get Aunt Patty's library mail; watch the movie at the Library; back home to get ready and then the real treat - go to see Santa turn on the lights!

The Festival of Lights has been my favorite thing to do since I moved to the Hartford area.  It's my way to kick off the holiday season; I get an enormous dose of holiday spirit all in one shot.  This year, the event was moved from Constitution Plaza to Bushnell Park to enable the growth of the event.  In that spirit, citizens gathered at the Plaza and walked through the city streets singing carols and picking up Santa along the way (riding a Zamboni machine) to the park. Traditions evolve, it's how they stay traditions!

So Seamus and I did just that.  We met some of the Wolf Pack hockey team and some of the cast from "A Christmas Carol", in costume, opening that evening at Hartford Stage.  We met Hartford's new mayor.   Mayor Pedro E. Segarra is a lovely man.  He took several moments to answer my questions about the downtown improvement and pointed out some of the upcoming highlights.   I introduced Seamus to the mayor.  He spoke directly to Seamus about the science museum and what a good time he will have.

Before long, the group of us began the march to the park.  Hartford's finest were on motocycles;streets closed off as we walked and sang.  Meeting up with Santa was really cool.  We moved into the park, obtained our complimentary hot cocco, and awaited the turning on of the lights.  There was a skating demo on artifical ice, and more caroling.  Hartford mounted police were there too.  It was a short lived program, a few dignitaries.  In my opinion, we need more pizzaz and I'm sure with the change in venue we will see improvements over the next years.  Since the carousel was open we walked over only to find the line was a couple of hours long.  We peeked through the windows and could see all the horses going round and round.  I promised Seamus we would come back at a time when it wasn't as busy.

We treated ourselves to IHOP for a quick dinner.  We laughed so much and then it was home, jamies and to watch part of the movie before getting ready for bed.  We said our "we are thankful fors"; I had to cut them off at ten as he'd never get to sleep.   All in All - it was a perfect day - sweet dreams.

PS  Before I forget, my eyes are heavy ....  things he wants to do for next time - ride the carousel, go ice skating, skateboarding, bake cookies, cook dinner, work as Santa's assistant, read a book, learn more words, do more math examples; make some crafts in my studio, go to Steve's, go to the art museum, make some art, then...he said .." I, like, maybe can stay at your (my) house for five weeks because KC will like me better",,,  the list goes on but I'm getting the giggles thinking of the great day I had.  Tomorrow will only get better.

PSS  This was a good one - he wanted to know... (you just can't make this up) .." if  grammie Kovack married Aunt Denise's daddy would the Filosa cousins be my cousins?  That would be cool, you can not have enough cousins".   Hey PopPop and JoJo - are you listening?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Wish

Wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.

Wishing everyone a moment of time to relax this holiday weekend.

Wishing everyone enjoyment of the small things that make a holiday a special time.

Wishing everyone invention of a new tradition.

Most of all, wishing you and yours health, happiness, joy, and Peace.





Photo courtsey of controltheweb's @flicker

Monday, November 22, 2010

A New Beginning

I'm sure you noticed that last week was a difficult emotional one. So many lives were touch by JoJo and so many lives will need to find a new path in life. Before I go on to chatter much more, here's a place that JoJo and I shared an affinity for. It's a long video, yet it is so peaceful..... Enjoy.......


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Missing You Jo Jo

Dear Jo:  It was a sad day for us when we heard that you have left us.  You will be missed so much.  Thank you for all you gave to eveyone.

Keep well, you'll be keeping an eye on us and we will have you in our hearts, forever.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I remember the first time I met you, then Mrs. F.  It was in the summer at your home for the wedding shower to celebrate my soon to
be sister-in-law.  I had brought a laundry basket of gagdets and wrote a little poem about the life Denise was soon to begin with my brother, Pete.  There were light bulbs, to light the way, elastics to know when to you need to stretch and lots of laughs inbetween!

You loved life itself.  With all the celebrations and rough spots, you were the 'lady'.  Those qualities you taught to your family quite well.  You enjoyed decorating and made a lovely home.  You wore so many hats; as daughter and sister, friend, wife and lover, mother and grandma and excelled at them all.  I do know that your grandchildren adored and enjoyed their time with you.  You even friended me on FB.

While you enjoyed your family and lent support to those around you, grass didn't grow under your feet.  If you weren't at home, the two of you were traveling around the world.  While I was baby(?) sitting for Denise & Pete's 20th anniveresary, the kids and I called Grandma Jo Jo and Grandpa Ray.  The both of you were still adjusting to the time zone as you  had just arrived back from Egypt!

If that wasn't the big adventure, the cruise a year later with your entire family in tow was. It was an amazing time for all involved! I know, the Missouri girls and I were going through picutres for half the night at my house. Ok it was only half of the 9000 or more pictures! We were out to dinner the next night, there were the girls flipping their napkins and guessing (in various accents) what we would have for dessert.  I don't think I was able to stop laughing.

Life is good to all of us; as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it "It is not length of life, but depth of life".  Jo Jo - you did just that, you lit the way wherever you went, you kept us stretching each day and enjoyed lots of laughs.  Keep well Friend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Work with KasCare

On my creative side, I've been working with/for the organization KasCare. You can read more about them on my Creative Sources blog.  See the special page KasCare and the pledges page too!

Creating community is so rewarding.  Connecting people to work on a cause allows them to make a gift, though my gift is the 'connecting' them. I've only just begun...(sounds like a song).

My first impression with this group was to make some squares myself.  Easy and I could use up some scrap yarn. Then it grew and I thought I could organize and get the word out to others.  I wasn't sure how it would go over - though nothing ventured nothing gained.  I sent out lots of emails about the project and wouldn't you know, people responded.  Then more people responded, the outflowing is just wonderful.  Those folks that are not as 'creative' have made a contribution for the postage.  It's going to be expensive to send them to South Aftrica!

This weekend I should be picking up lots of squares - well over 100!  Watch the Creative Sources for more information on the total to date!

Thank you to all that have contributed and to all of you that will be!  I'll be continuing this work for the foreseeable future!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Let's be Friends

I came across this video and hope you enjoy it. Message - we can all be Friends. An amazing inspiration - when you don't know the difference - all is possible. Time to shake off those differences. Enjoy

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Governor is set - Not much will change - Sad for us

It is finally said that Dan Malloy will be the next Governor of Connecticut.  The Democrat will take office in January, the first Dem since 1986 as pointed out in an article in the New York Times on Monday.

This year's governor's race made news when the State's largest city, Bridgeport ran out of ballots for the people to vote.  We didn't have hanging chads - we just didn't have enough ballots!  Go figure?  Somebody didn't.
Of course the State's General Assembly - comprised of the Senate and House - had a few upsets too.  The basic information can be found on that link.

This is the first time in a long time that the General Assemby and the Governor Office will all be from the same party.  In my opinion - we are in for a big spend, spend, spend ride. 

Too soon to tell ----  check back with me in March when we are 2/3's through the 1st 100 days.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Happy Birthday Connecticut

Hi all,
This video was from the beginning of the year. Watch along until our Governor M. Jodi Rell speaks to the children. She speaks to the next 25 years - to our 400th Birthday.

Happy 375th Birthday Connecticut

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Recipe

Back about a half of month ago, I fell to the idea sent by my dear sister-in-law, about sending a recipe chain letter.  I generally delete them and don't respond.  This seemed easy and wouldn't it be great to get some new recipes for the Fall.

This recipe chain was a simple one, send a recipe to the first on the list and take them off the list.  Add you name to the bottom of the list.  Heck the list was only she and I, and send it to a bunch of friends.

I've waited and waited, checked my junk folder, and yet none.  One of the ladies that I sent the request to, instead sent me the recipe.  Since it was the only one, I thought I'd share it with you.  Thanks to Dori!  Looks great and time to try it out.

Bon Appetit! 

MADEIRA SAUCE
 
2 TBSP BUTTER
1 1/2 TBSP FLOUR   
3/4 CUP BEEF STOCK
1 TSP. GRAVY MASTER (KITCHEN BOUQUET)
1/4 CUP MADEIRA WINE
1 TSP WORCESHIRE
1/3 CUP CHOPPED MUSHROOMS
 
IN A LARGE SAUCE PAN, SAUTE MUSHROOMS IN THE BUTTER, SPRINKLE IN THE FLOUR. 
 
ADD THE REMAINDER OF THE INGREDIENTS TOGETHER, SIMMER FOR THREE MINUTES.    POUR OVER THE ROAST AND SERVE; EXTRA IN A GRAVY BOAT FOR ADDITIONAL SERVING.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Queen for the Day!

There is a time when we treat ourselves like a princess and a queen.  Off to the salon for a little pampering or a nice warm bath with the door closed! 

When we were little girls, we would play dress up and there isn't a little girl that didn't have a fairy princess dress and wand!  Of course you need a crown.  That's how everyone knew you were the queen for the day!

Royalty was bestowed upon my family this past weekend.  No one was in London visiting the Queen, we didn't find a long lost Duke in the family tree, nor did the genie fairy pop out of a magic lamp and grant us three wishes.

Remember back to high school, most of us had a homecoming king and queen.  The royal court was generally voted upon by the students.  It was a week worth of activities and then the unveiling was at a fancy dance.

One senior young woman from Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Mo was voted as their Homecoming Queen.  She's beautiful - of course being her Aunt, I am fully confident in her success.

She was so excited and should be. Heck, her father was so excited that he text me when he found out that she won at 10:30 at night! 

Congratulations Jessica, and congratulations to your royal court.  You deserve this honor from your friends and classmates.  


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

My Studio

Last week was like a train rushing through the night.  There was no stopping the steady stream as I readied by home for a week long guest.  I had been pulling apart the studio to get it in better shape.  It's been the last room that I've worked on and it doubles as a guest room.  Still no decorating, just needing the structure of the room in place - it doesn't feel workable yet.  I looked at the calendar, Leslie will be here in two days.

The consignment / antique place down the street closed down.  I was hoping to find a table and upholstered chairs.  Oh hum, to find another place is now back on the list. 

Give me a deadline and the creative spirit moves me.  With no shop to go to, that got me thinking about the current items in the room.  You may have seen the decorating show - redesign.  It's great as it looks around and makes a solution out of what you already have.  So I get the measuring tape, make a few more sketches, and found a new idea.  If I take the shelving unit from my former home and place it on top of the credenza, possible 3/4 of an inch to the ceiling - it will fit?

I moved all the other 'stuff' out and prepared the room for her arrival.  We had a great time even though I needed to work a good portion of her visit.  Leslie said that I better give her a project so she helped out one afternoon.  We dismantled this shelving and very carefully put it in its new place.  Oh my goodness - it was barely 1/3 inch!  Before long the shelves were refilled and the room looked bigger.  What a difference, Again, thank you Leslie!

This past Sunday after Leslie's departure, I kept looking at the space.  Got out my list, need some additional shelving - put that on Bob's list to do; move the dresser into the closet - that's me; empty and organize the scrap yarn stash - that's me again.  The other closet, it is going to wait.

Before I knew it, I had emptied the closet and moved the dresser into.  Then I got to the stashes of yarn. I was able to consolidate bags and boxes into a organized rainbow of colors.  Until I dumped it out and repack it, I didn't think I had that much!

Bob, handy man, will be back in a few days to add some shelving.  He just finished downsizing one of my kitchen cabinets so  my new microwave could be installed.  Now I feel pretty good.  The studio is taking shape, it's a bit peaceful.  Last night as I was taking in the success and I could hear the whistle of last train run by - isn't life just grand?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Recipes

Speaking about recipies - my sister-in-law sent me an email recipe chain letter.

Send a recipe to the first name on the list, then delete their name.  Add you name to the #2 spot and move the individual that sent you the email to the 1st spot.  Then send it to 20 people asking them to send a recipe to the #1 name on the 'short list'.

So I did this on October 6th.  I'm not one to re-forward much of anything.  Though I thought I might get one or two great recipes out of it.  Wouldn't that be nice.

So far I've got one person saying they can send out the request as they don't know twenty folks on email. Then a second one said they couldn't get the email link to work(?) I sent back instructions, and hopefully will get a recipe out of that one.

Interesting.  I'll keep you posted if I get any recipes out of it

Monday, October 11, 2010

Special Corn Bread

It's that time of year that says it's corn bread time.  I have this little recipe that is so simple and tastes great.  I think it came from my Mom, so thanks Mom!

Take a box of Jiffy corn bread mix.  Prepare it according to the package.

Saute some sausage - I used a chicken sausage - 2 links.  Use whatever flavor of sausage you like.  Take it out of the skin and cook untill its brown, drain out any extra fat.

Place the sausage in an 8" x 8" pan.

Peel and core a green apple.  Cut it up into small pieces and place it in the pan.

Pour the Jiffy mix over the sausage and apple and bake according to the box.

This is such a simple recipe. I will make it and save it for lunch.  Easy to warm up in the microwave and goes great with salad.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Recycling Police

Every so often my social justice thermometer begins to ring like a fire bell.  Ding, Ding, Ding I can hear it, and I ask where is the focus people?

Today was one of those days.

 I have been in touch with our Town sanitation department incharge of town-wide recycling.  This past summer we switched from the blue 14 gallon bucket to inline recycling and received a large rolling recycling container.  Actually this is quite exciting as we, us taxpayers, will begin to save some serious amounts of money.  It's an easy equation, recycle and pick up is free; regular trash and we have to pay to have it hauled away.  With talking with the town today, our recycling tonnage is up 35% since August.  Back to the matter at hand.

In order to participate in this program, the Town had to supply to each of the residents/taxpayers a trash collection device like this pretty blue one.  Actually they offered three sizes, 95 gallon, 65 gallon, and 35 gallon.  Though this naive one, yours truly, couldn't tell the difference.  My community doesn't use trash containers, we have 12 yard dumpsters.

Fast forward - I receive a device and I assumed it is a 95 gallon one.   It's enormous, I couldn't fill it if my life depended on it.  We are suppose to put it out every other week.   The first collection day came by and I forgot. The second one, I was away, then finally at the third pickup (six weeks later) , the container is still not filled, but I put it out.  I'm now also noticing that I will not be able to get the car in the garage with this device in there.  I've torn apart the place, how to reorganize it, nope, not enough room.

So I called the Town, asked them if I could get a 65 gallon one instead as it is way too large and occupies too much space.  She explains that I have a 65 gallon one - geez louise - I then asked for a 35 gallon one.  The long and short of it, you have to get on a list, yadda, yadda, yadda.

Now it is October and the device is not switched out.  So I've been on the phone these last two days.  Nice folks at the sanitation department.  First I find out that I'm not on the list, so I'm put on the list - I'm #126!  There are 125 of my neighbors, actually 15 in my community, that are still waiting for a different size container. 

What comes out of these conversations, is that the 'recycling police' of the Town sanitation department needs to determine if these 125 people ahead of me are worthy of a smaller container?  Of the 12,000 plus households in Town - only 125 opps 126 folks (only 1%) are requesting a smaller size. I think to myself - are you kidding?

 I continued to break down the supervisor's logic and point why in the bigger picture these arguments don't hold trash.  His responses were genuine.  His comments indicate that  there were certain assumptions made by the Town and those assumptions that didn't take into account all type of living arrangements located here.  He began with if the Town gave some one a smaller one, then the Town would have to do it for someone else.  Yeah?  I'm confused, don't we want all to recycle?  I asked him how many more individuals have called in the last several weeks.  He indicated that not many.  (I feel like I'm doing skit from the three stooges)   Therefore, the solution is simple, take care of these few individuals and be done with it.  Mind me, I heard a laundry list of why we can't do things. 

I promised that I would attend the next Town Council meeting and speak out about this matter.  Later this week, I would be meeting with my neighbors and this item will be on the agenda. 

Before we hung up, he finally agreed that he would discussing this next week when his supervisor returns and would call me with their decision.  I thanked him, and with a little laugh, said that I'll be talking with him most likely before he calls me. 

Did we lose some perspective?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Debt, Deficit, Vote for who??

Who are you going to vote for?  Here in Connecticut, it's getting pretty mud slamming to say the least. In my opinion - what a waste of time, money, and there isn't a messge yet!

Wherever you are - you may wish to look at the list below as you consider the canidates that are up for election. 

This list came out from The Daily Beast.  Actually it is an interesting slide show - click here.   To do the math - take the state's "debt 2010" divided by its GDP (gross domestic product) 2009.  The higher the percentage,  the worse position the state is in. 

There was an interesting additional piece of information in this list.  It listed the current/upcoming Budget Deficit.  Remember the deficit  means that current year revenue for the state, taxes collected from You, less the state's expenditures for programs, salaries, medical, etc.  The B - you know it - is for billion.

How does a state improve it's numbers.  One way is to let business do more business - that way the state's GDP goes up.  Another way and in my opinion, most important, the state should not not have a deficit in the budget.  At the end of a budget year, if the deficit held true, that shortfall of money turns into debt.  Three states listed say they have no deficit - hmmm? 

Who are you going to vote for?  One question (of many) that hasn't been truly answered yet - what are financial and fiscal policies that are going to be reviewed and acted upon?  Remember, government doesn't make jobs - small businesses make jobs.

Here's the list - click here to see the original

1 - Rhode Island 21.54%  ------  Budget Deficit  0.395 B
2 - Massachusetts 20.73% ----- Budget Deficit 2.700 B
3 - Alaska 18.50%  ------ Budget Deficit 0.000 B
4 - Connecticut 16.69%  ------ Budget Deficit 5.100 B
5 - Montana 16.66%  ------ Budget Deficit 2.700 B
6 - Vermont 15.64%  ------ Budget Deficit 0.338 B
7 - New Hampshire 13.55%  ------ Budget Deficit 0.365 B
8 - West Virginia 13.09%  ------ Budget Deficit 0.134 B
9 - New Jersey 12%  ------ Budget Deficit 10.070 B
10 - New Mexico 11.93% ------ Budget Deficit 0.333 B
11 - Maine 10.77% ------ Budget Deficit 0.940 B
12 - Delaware 10.77% ------ Budget Deficit 0.377 B
13 - South Carolina 10.75% ------ Budget Deficit .130 B
14 - Maryland 10.74% ------ Budget Deficit 2.000 B
15 - Illinois 10.71% ------ Budget Deficit 13.500 B
16 - Louisiana 10.57% ------ Budget Deficit 1.000 B
17 - New York 10.45% ------ Budget Deficit 8.500 B
18 - South Dakota 10.27% ------ Budget Deficit 0.102 B
19 - Hawaii 10.17% ------ Budget Deficit 0.594 B
20 - Pennsylvania 9.84% ------ Budget Deficit 4.100 B
21 - Wisconsin 9.71% ------ Budget Deficit 3.400 B
22 - Missouri 9.28% ------ Budget Deficit 0.730 B
23 - Kentucky 9.20% ------ Budget Deficit 0.780 B
24 - Indiana 9.13% ------ Budget Deficit 1.300 B
25 - Washington 9.09% ------ Budget Deficit 1.200 B
26 - Mississippi 8.49% ------ Budget Deficit 0.716 B
27 - North Dakota 7.87% ------ Budget Deficit 0.000 B28 - Oklahoma 7.78% ------ Budget Deficit 0.725 B
29 - Idaho 7.68% ------ Budget Deficit 0.840 B
30 - Michigan (ratio not listed)
31 - Florida 7.59% ------ Budget Deficit 4.700 B
32 - California 7.30% ------ Budget Deficit 17.9 B
33 - Colorado 7.22% ------ Budget Deficit 1.500 B
34 - Oregon 6.90% ------ Budget Deficit 2.500 B
35 - Virginia 6.87% ------ Budget Deficit 1.300 B
36 - Alabama 6.60% ------ Budget Deficit 0.586 B
37 - Wyoming 6.37% ------ Budget Deficit 0.147 B
38 - Washington DC 6.27% ------ Budget Deficit 0.104 B
39 - Ohio 6.26% ------ Budget Deficit 3.00 B
40 - Iowa 6.22% ------ Budget Deficit 1.100 B
41 - Utah 5.89% ------ Budget Deficit 0.700 B
42 - North Carolina 5.81% ------ Budget Deficit 5.800 B
43 - Kansas 5.22% ------ Budget Deficit 0.510 B
44 - Arizona 5.00% ------ Budget Deficit 3.100 B
45 - Arkansas 4.5% ------ Budget Deficit 0.000 B46 - Nebraska 4.43% ------ Budget Deficit 0.329 B
47 - Minnesota 4.40% ------ Budget Deficit 4.000 B
48 - Georgia 4.01% ------ Budget Deficit 4.200 B
49 - Texas 3.69% ------ Budget Deficit 4.600 B
50 - Nevada 3.58% ------ Budget Deficit 1.800 B
51 - Tennessee 1.95% ------ Budget Deficit 1.000 B

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Crown Ridge - Reserve Fund

If you have lived in a condominium association or known of someone that has lived in one, there is the common fee.  The common fee is collected from each of the unit owners to pay for the common expenses and to set aside money for future major repairs and replacements.

The future major repars and replacements is referred to in condo lingo as the Reserve Fund.  Finally, throughout the country, condominium accounting and finances have received more attention.  It's about time.  The Reserve Fund is, in my opinion, the most important part of the condominium financial ownership equation. In the last two years, the Federal government got on track to say to condo associations, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae won't be underwriting your home mortgage unless the association is saving at least 10% and has some type of reserve funding and savings balance.

When I moved here, I volunteered to do the study for the reserve fund.  My previous experience at my first condo and my professional training in the speciality of condo accounting allows me to do the calculations with ease.  I knew when I purchased that their reserve fund was in very bad shape.

The board approved that I do the study.  During the first year I couldn't get them off the ground.  So at the next unit owner's meeting, I spoke up for the second time.  I had reworked the numbers and handed out a sheet at the meeting (not to the pleasure of the board).  Oh well, I thought to myself, maybe it will motivate them.  It did in one way, as several of my neighbors volunteered to help out.  Community involvement is crucial!

Fast forward - the group met once and we all learned from each other.  As this past spring and summer went by, I collected information.  Received another 'nod' (finally) to go forward with the change in format of the budget. Barbara & I began a inventory of the windows and doors (another big conflict in the association).  It's really amazing as we learned lots about each of the units/buildings in our community.

Last week I completed a packet on the Reserve Fund.  It was given to the Board just as they received the first draft of the budget for next year.  I was thorough, attempting to include all repairs and replacements that the Association is responsible for.  In our case, that's just about everything someone could imagine.  Looking up costs, some of it science and some of it estimated, the back up of the data is daunting.  In the end, using several samples from others, why invent the wheel, I laid out a scenerio to look at.

The news is not good - is it doable one should ask?  Yes it is doable, though it will take serious backbone, dedication, and discipline of how the common fee is calculated and subsequently how the common fee is spent.  One thing that was said at the meeting by one member, "oh we are only having a 3% increase this year".  Wow, this person hasn't seen the results, but they must have the magic crystal ball. 

Stay tuned - while I'm not on the board - I am hosting, at my home, the board and those interested the budget work session for our association.  I've got my work cut out for me in preparing for the meeting. 

PS  I just recieved the "budget" worksheet from the board, time to get to work :)

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Fall and It's the BIG E!

It was Connecticut Day at the Big E this past Wednesday and according the staff, one of the largest attendance days.  Go CT!

 
I choose the day as it's in the middle of the week, and of course I like to see the parade.  Over the past couple of years, I've demonstrated making lace for part of the day and that gets me a ticket and parking!  Actually, the Big E would not be able to operate without all the volunteers at the fair. 

The Parade - there are lots of CT related high school bands, the Governor and her Foot Guard, the State Police, fife and drum, Miss Pre-Teen CT, Miss Teen CT, and Miss CT all riding in shiny convertible cars and lots of others.  The end of the parade was the Budweiser Clydesdales and the Hallamore Clydesdales each had a eight-horse hitch. Of course there is the poo zamboni ending the parade.  The horses are so amazing, their size and strength of these gentle giants pulling the wagons.  If you go to the barns, you can get pretty up close to these horses.

After a bout with morning traffic, I arrived and set up at the the New England Building / Creative Arts.  Actually we don't really have a space, we set up in the aisle. It would be nice if we had a 'real' space we could set up in (hmm idea for next year).  Linda (fellow lacemaker) met me there and we organized ourselves so we could talk with the patrons about lace.  I met Linda at the fair last year and helped her rekindle her love for lace making.

Before you know it, the building opens with a raising of the American flag, accompanied by a group of fife and drum musicians.  It is fun to watch the patrons go by, some are outright curious and come up and declare that I'm tatting (lol) and others are too shy unless you invite them over to see what we are doing.  The patrons like to touch - so I bring a pillow for folks to actually work some lace - the 'snake'. Time goes so quickly.  Some where around three and a half hours into it, I could feel my voice getting scratchy.  I really enjoy it, and can continue on and on about cross and twist and counting to four.  Stop by next year and watch us lace makers.

After volunteering for four hours (requirement to get a ticket and parking), I had the rest of the day to get around the grounds.  I watch the beef cattle get showed and receive their ribbons.  There were dairy goats, dairy cows, sheep and assorted other farm animals.  This is the best part of the show/fair for me.  I love to watch the hatchling chicks pop out of their eggs and tiny pigglettes wiggle around in a pen.  Sheep are the best. Sheep Rule.  One thing you need to know about the fair especially if you want to see the animals.  There are barn change over days so watch what day you want.  There may not be many animals to see.

Better Living Center is a riot.  There are all kinds of vendors willing to sell you anything to make your life better.  From fancy showers for your bath, to window screens, a blender, lots of pots and pans dealers,  and even a guy selling a mop!  It is really alot of fun.

So what is a country fair without eating your way around? That's easy - it wouldn't be a fair.  There is just about everything known to man to have to eat at this fair.  Big E Cream Puffs are amazing.  (not for me this year)  I was pretty good, a large fresh brewed Sam Adams beer to walk around with after demonstrating was just what my voice needed.  Lunch, a taco chicken salad in a shell, lots of water to drink.  Dinner had me search for fried clams that I found in the Rhode Island State house (yum yum), a little ice cream and a coffee to go at the end of the night.  Of course you can eat your way into oblivion. 

My feet were giving out, I actually walked around enough to log some 4 miles on my pedometer!  I found gel insoles in the Better Living Building.  That helped a bunch.  Though the best find was back at the Fiber Nook - (near the sheep).  I have a new genuine handcrafted sheepskin scuffs!  Even better - they are made by Golden Fleece Fashions in Caterbury, CT  !  I met the owner, Adele, and she said they are good 'forever'.  She was repairing a pair a customer brought back because the dog ate off the toes!

I have a great pair that family gave me from LLBean.  Each year I call to get another pair, unfortunately they don't carry this type any longer made slippers any longer and they weren't US made when they did.  My feet are nice a warm and I can have now preserve the other pair a bit longer. Don't you just love sheep!

While food is plentiful, so is the shopping. Everything you could imagine. I give the vendors a hat's off. These guys travel in motor homes and are on the fair circuit for five months of the year. Most of them say the Big E is the best! I took cards from several artist types, need to do some measuring at home before buying.

Another year, and another Big E.  I was trying to think of the number of times I've come to this festival.  My parents brought us and we camped out somewhere near there.  I think that in the last ten years, I missed one year due to weather.  There is still time to see the fair - it is well worth the trip!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It is Fall already? It's time for the PLAN...

I guess it is. Something about going to the other side of Labor Day weekend kinda puts an end to the summer season.  Some feel saddened by it's end, me on the other hand, love the changes in the season.  I can smell the autumn in the air.

This last week it has been just wonderful here in CT. The weather has been warm in the days and cool in the night. Sleeping at it's best. It is also when I get a new surge of energy. 

Time to look back at the Plan for this year.   Take a moment to pull out your Plan.  How did you do?  What does it look like?  Did of my post of throwing out 50 things help?

Here's a few successful ones.   
Garden - planted a great patio herb garden. I have been enjoying fresh herbs all summer long.  Learned that pansies don't last well in containers and planting mini bells in the garden do well.  My large fern in the front garden is just a bit too big.  A little later in the season, I'll dig it up and move it.  The water hyacinth, while the bloom doesn't last long, it is a beauty.

Garage - I've been able to consolidate down the bit's and pieces and have labeled the boxes for future reference!  Wow it is great.  I've actually made some space there.  Now there are a few boxes on the floor with various plasticware containers in them that don't fit in the kitchen. Again, time to resort them into using on a regular basis vs. use for picnic and big party events.

Office - All but one box is scanned.  All shredding is up-to-date. Thanks to my nephew Spencer. We can now recyle the junk mail so my older study guides will get tossed out.  The lighting challenge has been addressed with the electricians.  I may have an expandable plan to set into action. 

Guest Room - nothing is better than having guests visit.  Since the guest room also doubles as my creative studio, I have had a chance to spiff it up. It will be a work in progress.

Lately I have found some 'guest' items to make them feel right at home.  Heck, I wasn't even here for my last guest, Pat's visit.  The card Pat left for me on my kitchen counter said it well "Every time a heart is touched by kindness, another flower blooms".

You can have extra tooth brushes on hand, small size toiletries, soap, towels, etc. I purchased a bunch of them at the Dollar Store or Big Lots.  All of them were supplied in a basket and waiting on a table in the room.  I supplied a small electric strip so my guests could plug in their techy gadgets.  As hostess, I wish my guests to feel right at home. Something I learned growing up. I wise person said, "..it's not the size of your home that matters, it's the love the guest feels.  Second guess their needs and wants, don't make them ask". 

That statement inspired a Bonus in my current year Plan.  I've developed Guest Info pages; like you'd find in a hotel.   It lists the how and what of the household like mechanicals and appliances, take out menus, alarm systems, how to operate the remotes, phone numbers for the house, cell numbers, emergency numbers.  Computer related information like 'guest passwords', etc. and let us not forget what  Ms. KC needs <meow>!

Overall, like many of us, our Plan is longer than we anticipate. Just spending time reviewing my Plan, I feel great.   I love my bonus above, I love what has been accomplished, and it has inspired me to think about what I need to schedule for this new season.  How about you?  Are you re-inspired? 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Make a Difference

Great video on performance - it's about 10 minutes and may give you an AH HA! Sometimes we need to see it differently, see the why in life - Thanks Dirk for the link.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

New Stove, Fridge, a work in progress

Since I moved in, I have struggled with the ever-running fridge and a stove which burners were hot or cold and not inbetween and an oven that really couldn't calibrate the temp.

 I did well with it, trying my best to cook on top.  I love to cook.  Heck baked potatoes would take 1-1/2 hrs at 350F? 

My neighbor, Jules and I have discussed at length various solutions to our kitchens.  She has the same one but just the opposite layout.  She even tried to get a new fridge awhile ago, but ran into broken delivery promises.

A couple of weeks ago, a P.C. Richard & Son opened down the street.  She's on the ball!  Bless this woman as she goes about checking prices and models and styles, etc.  She then makes an expedition to the new store, physically inspects the goods and buys.  I recieved a phone call to come on over after the install.  I was so impressed.  What a difference it made to our older style kitchens.  She's so kind that she gave me a copy of her receipt. 

I'm no fool - so I go down the next day and buy the same ones.  What is missing?  Did you guess the new range hood?  If you did, it's not missing, it is just not installed.  Later this week, the electrician will be stoping by to install the new microwave/hood and do a bunch of other small electrical repairs.

Wow - the kitchen looks so much better.  I'm considering changing out the counter tops for something updated and add the same material to the wall between the cabinets and counter.  While it isn't my dream kitchen, my electric bill will decrease, it feels newer, my cake baking won't be so challenged and I'll live with it for a few more years.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Camp back in CT with Spencer

Spencer beating the computer!
It was a great time in St. Louis, though Camp was unattended back home.  With few days back on the ground, and attempting to see if the local nieces/nephews wanted to get to camp, Spencer came out on top.  His time spot was limited as he was going to begin football practice by mid-month in August.

First of all, his dad got him to me by 8 a.m. on Thursday morning!  Spenc - what a trooper.   We took the day a bit easy only after making sure I noticed that I am now shorter than he was!  Hmmm something happened in the last six month!  He's wearing a size 10-1/2 shoe already.  We kidded each other all weekend long. 

It was an easy day - he helped in the office and made a few bucks!  Let me tell you, he's a great assistant.  Follows directions, was neat, asked great questions, and he was able to complete all the shredding in the office.  We searched the internet about some really great sneakers, got the pass from the Library and did a little bit of grocery shopping.  We also began to design his blanket! 

We went to the New Britain Youth Museum at Hungerford Park with a pass from the Library.  It was so hot outside!  We did see the various animals inside, turtles, furry creatures, fishes, and all type of rodents.  There was one snake there, oh my goodness, it was enormous.   The animals in the outside cages were not showy due to the heat.  We tried to hike around the lake, though the temperatures were soaring.  Instead we headed for home, only after going to the store and finding the exact sneakers he was looking for on-line.  I had him try them on for size and walk around.  Heck I got a bonus, and I found a pair of new sneaks for myself.

Friday was the big day - we went to the CT Science Museum again.  Of course we saw a 3D movie - The Oceans.  It was really amazing.  So today's plan was to start at the top and work our way down.  This way we should be able to see all the exhibits.  Unfortunately the car race was not there, but the mind relaxation game was.  This game is based on your brain waves.  You put a headband on and it measures your output.  The less of the output (more relaxed) the more the ball moves to your opponent!  Spencer was really good at this the year before and beat me heads down.  This year, we equally won.  Actually one game wasn't going to end until one of us got the giggles.  We agreed that it wasn't as exciting as last year, I guess we can choose something different for next year. 

Spencer shooting the ball with air
We finished up on the early side as I had reservations at the Rock Cats Stadium.  So off we went to the game.  Sad to say the Rock Cats were having a pretty bad season.  As I write this - they are 44/97 OUCH.  They were playing Akron at home.  First inning Akron gets two runs and the balance of the evening is three up and three down for both teams without much excitement until the ninth inning.  Then the excitment began.  Akron - three up and three down.  Now its the Rock Cats turn. They get hits, get a run,  and are on base (possible grand slam) with a chance to win the game.  It wasn't their night.  The fans were very generous in supporting the team.  Just as the last out was called, the announcers drop the lights and we had a fireworks display that would rival any fourth of July show.  It was fantastic.  Lasted some 30 minutes.  What a great day with Spencer.

Saturday was a family picnic.  I was up late the night before and early the next morning getting all the supplies and picnic stuff ready to bring.  The heat subsided, thank goodness!  It was going to be one of the most glorious days of summer.  We get to the park, it was a mess, I'm embarrassed.  Spencer helped with site cleanup. Family began to arrive and we began with our festivities.  I didn't see much of him as he buddied up with his cousins Trenten and Brenan for lots of fun playing bocci, some game in the woods, time at the pool.  He checked in throughout the day and that was good.  Before we knew it it was time to pack it up and take it back to base camp. 

Sunday, a lazy morning, he read the newspaper to me and had a chance to talk with his cousin, Chris in St. Louis.  We considered we could go to a movie.  One of his maternal side cousins had a bit part in an action movie.  I didn't like the trailers so we decided that the animated film would be a better choice.  We were off to see Despicable Me.  Really cute movie, the minions had me laughing,  lots of 'jokes' and who wouldn't just love the story line. 

Wow - time just flew by.  When you have the opportunity to spend time with your nephew - it's a real treat.  We had lunch and then I dropped him off.    His football schedule just arrrived.  I need to coordinate my schedule with his so I could see him play this year.

Spencer - you are a great nephew.  You made camp the best!  Designing your blanket will be very cool.  Now I need to make the pattern and samples and have you approve it.  Next year - we will find a new adventure!  Maybe the Yanks at the Green Monster?  Thanks and love you lots!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Shelby's Day at Camp

Last but not least was my time with Shelby. First we had a chance to taste some chocolate truffles. Last trip out, she and I went to this chocolate shop. She had a gift certificate and I filled in the rest.  Auntie explained, truffles are to be savored not gobbled. So we did. We bought one truffle for each day and we shared. So a tradition lives on. I think the champagne flavor was our favorite this time.

After lunch - see the post on Boiled Peanuts it was off to the City Museum. We found street parking, this time no charge as it was Saturday. This place was the invention of Bob Cassilly when he and his wife Gail purchased a bunch of vacant space in St. Louis. In a couple of years, City Museum opened. The Project for Public Spaces marked this as a "Great Public Space of the World" in 2005. This place is wild! I'd go back just to be able to spend more time again.

Our mission was to gain admission to the World Aquarium on the 2nd floor. It was really crazy and loud. Here we are - thousands of animals and fishes. We scooted through tunnels with the sharks swimming all around us. Yes, did but bring some wax paper to sit on so you can quickly to through. We petted stingrays - actually gentle giants and smooth as a baby's bottom. I swam with a few of them in the Bahamas! Oh course there was a shark feeding session. Pretty impressive. We fed more fishes in other parts of the exhibit.
There were parrotts and none of them wanted a cracker. We watched the otters play. A cockatoo that wouldn't stay in his pearch. He kept screeching on about something.  The slough didn't like the cockatoo and very slowly walked across a tree limb just above our heads.

(ring ring goes the cell phone - Chris heard it as I was almost deaf by the amount of noise - it was Denise - wanted to know what we were up to? Oh having an amazing ball! Why? She's worried about dinner. Heck we just ate. I told her I'd call her back later.)

Shelby  & Chris
In the middle of this day - it became spa day. There was one tank, Doctor Fish, that I could barely keep Shelby out of. Actually, I enjoyed it and Chris tried it a couple of times. The tank had several hundred Garra Rufa's in it. If you don't know what a Garra Rufa is then I'll give you a hint. They are little fishes, silver in color and about an inch long fish. Originating from hot springs in Turkey, these little guys love to kiss human hands and feet. It is quite the rage. After inserting my hands into the tank, feet not allowed at this timne, they came out better than the treatment I get at my spa and a lot more fun.  Every time I looked around Shelby had her hands in the tank.  Dang it the cell phone is ringing.
(ring ring again - guess who - it's Pete - well I didn't call back because, oh, I guess we were having so much fun. They were getting hungry.  Restuarant selection was a heated matter by all the locals.  I didn't care, I'm pretty easy.  Are you thinking that the mommy and daddy are missing out on too much fun?)

After our fill of fishes and all, we went to the ramp room to run about, they went through mystery mazes in the dark to come out the other side of the room. Heck this Aunt was getting a bit panicky when it seems like they were gone hours. I was almost ready to go in after them. My patience was rewarded as they came out from the other side of the room - so was my sunburn.

There was a rope swing, we watched shoe laces made on antique machines, we ran and jumped, though I did stop at taking the tube slide from the 2nd floor to the first floor.  The first floor must be 20 feet tall!! 

What is amazing is the level of creativity throughout this place. Enormous pieces of building architecture have been moved into the place and around every corner is a true surprise.  You can touch everything. Since it was over 90degrees, we skipped the roof top. Now I truly have something to go back and see.

Okay - Auntie convinced the kids that we would eat dinner with the family after crys of "but it's our day".  Talk about making you feel special.  I told them we could do something cool afterwards if we wanted.  Agnes (GPS) was not cooperating and finding the restuarant was hysterical and fustrating.

Denise, Chris, Shelby
Taylor, Me, Pete
Fast forward - we had dinner  at PF Changs - chinese food but not your usual.  It was great and we were able to eat glutin free ( ahem except for the beer).

Dinner is over and  we asked Agnes to guide us back.  It looks like it is going to rain - black skies and all of a sudden the skies open and it pours.  I mean pours, big thunder and great lightening.   I was looking for a place to pull over and wait it out.

There I am, navigating according to Agnes when GPS according to Chris speaks up.  We HAVE TO GO to Silky's Frozen Custard Stand.  Shelby is cheering and yeah, I'm game.  Agnes was getting a bit upset with Chris as she kept on recalculating.  There it is, reminds me of a place at the beach.  Quick, pull in and a mad dash to get out of the rain.  I was instructed what to buy (thanks Chris), a Concrete (like a DQ Blizzard for you east coast people).  WOW and  YUM YUM!  This is better than DQ.  When we finally got home, with our Concretes in hand, we were greeted with sadness that we didn't bring them some.  My response, with a sly grin, we could have got some on your day!

Shelby this was a great day.  Actually each day we tasted our truffles was special. Thanks so much for being a sport and sharing it with your brother.   I'm looking forward to having you & me for a whole day!  Maybe the Doctor Fish spa?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Camp with Chris

Gluten Free Treats
This was an early day.  At the crack of dawn, just after breakfast, we packed a cooler with some waters and Chris, Shelby and I (and Agnes GPS) were off for a day of adventure.

I know I said that I would have a day with each of my nieces and nephew. Unfortunately, the airline and my miles couldn't make it work. So let me say - Shelby and Chris - you are still owed a day each!

Grant's Farm was Chris's choice for his part of the day.  The farm is named after Ulysses S. Grant, our 18th president who farmed some of the land in the 1850s.  The farm was subsequently purchased by the Busch family(think beer).  It is now operated by Anheuser-Busch and is free to the public.  (ahem - except for parking!)

Chris & Baby Goats
Spotted Cattle
We took the trolley ride and saw quite a few of the 900 animals. At the end, we entered the part of the park that you can get up close and personal with the animals.  (note - I have lots of sun screen on today!) 

 "Aunt Patty we have to feed the baby goats" was  all I heard.  Now, some time ago, back when I was younger than Chris & Shelby, I had a run in with a goat.  That goat jumped and marked up my favorite sailor shirt.  Today - that isn't going to happen. 

So here we are at the pen of baby goats.  There are about 3 dozen of very hungry little goats all squeeling for milk.  There isn't much else that could be cutier.  I bought bottles of milk and we, along with lots of folks, were herded by the goats to get a lick at the bottles.

Bud getting ready to show off
We moved on to see lots more animals.  By now it is so hot, most of the animals are not in-the-mood to show off except for the elephant, Bud.  (I'm thinking of an ice cold one now - pun intended)  We climbed up the small stadium, found seats, and enjoyed the show. Woohoo it is in the shade. 

Bud did all sorts of tricks and we learned lots.  After the show, I held the kids back so we could have a personal one-on-one with the trainer.  Shelby and Chris had lots of questions and it was great to learn more about Bud.

Bud showing off
We wound our way back to the baby goats after going through a sprinkler system. It was helping with the hot and dust of the day.

Goats it is and what do you think?  It was lunch time and of course we had to feed the goats again!  One of then found me and followed me around - oh no, I'm thinking, was this guy is going to jump on me.  Nope - he was a leaner and just wanted to be scratched and petted.

Hey Chris, this was fun! I'd go again or lets try another adventure.  With a little navigation, and some info from 'mommy' about our choice for lunch, we were off to Bandana's.