Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve Reflections ♥

Hunter 'n' Chloe 12/31
Cell Photo by Christian
Twenty-ten has flown by! Grateful am I for having shared it with my family and friends in a flurry of events that have been a delight to participate in and blog about. Thankful am I to all who stop by to read, comment and e-mail. Your input is ever-inspiring.

Time to look ahead to the Year Of The Baby Boomer. G-d willing, we'll kick that topic off tomorrow.
Joe Checking Out New Horizons 12/30
A toast to the waning hours of one year, as they blend into the future. Wishing all happiness, good health and an abundance of love in twenty-eleven.

A Soaring Au Revoir To 2010

Something wonderful needs to be shared. When Vicki surprised us with a holiday visit, we seized the opportunity to visit the Rio to see the wintering eagles. She had never witnessed one in the wild. 
The Rulers Of The Sky did not disappoint. We quickly spotted a couple of mature Baldies who seemed to take cue upon our arrival and begin to hunt. What an air show! Such a display is not always a given, but it was dinnertime and we got lucky. Vicki was duly awestruck. I do believe that she shall take to her studies of Native American spirituality a better understanding of exactly why a single feather from Baldy is such a revered gift. 

Photos and the written word simply cannot afford one a proper grasp of the humility felt upon communing with such majesty, where sky meets water and trees, under the brilliance of Old Sol. One just has to believe.


A beautiful day. A grand almost-finale to 2010. We love you, Sweetie. We'll find you that feather. Meanwhile, SERENITY NOW.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

An Ongoing Celebration

We had a very fun ChristmasWe knew that our get-togethers would extend over several days, but never anticipated the ease with which they would flow. As it should be, with family.
please left double-click on collages to enlarge
B/K/A/G's Christmas Day gifted us total relaxation, reminding us of our own holidays, when the boys were little. Aubrey and Gavin never got out of their pj's, and we all just chilled. "Wii" got a good workout, and Aubrey was proclaimed the champion of "Connect Four". I still can't beat her! 



Our day-after here turned into a sleep-
over for Christian and the children. Sometimes, "frightful" can be "delightful", as was the snowstorm that caused our Baby Grands to be stranded on Stacey Drive. Hunter came in so excited, jumping up and down, exclaiming, "G'ma, G'ma, we're having a storm and we're sleeping over." I melted. Unfortunately, next-day work obligations kept Dawn from sharing time with us.

When all together, the four children are incredible pals. They just pick up wherever it was that they left off, to again fill the house with laughter and cheer. I love them so much. Each has a personality so unique from the next - combined they are an unsurpassable team. "Toy Story 3" offered a breather from the commotion and respite for the pooches. Then, second winds kicked in for another blast of energetic fun. 
Lovin' Santa.

Yep, I Recognize The Nose...

It's Gavin! 

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Real Time - Morning Has Broken

O Holy Night

For me, no song captures the essence of Christmas more than "O Holy Night". I cannot pick a favorite version.

Each year, we receive an outstanding card that quickly becomes our favorite of the season. How appropriate that this one arrived on Christmas Eve. The sketch was done by Julia, whom I've mentioned before on CMI-link. She continues to amaze me with her artistic expression, still improving like a fine wine - she's well into her eighties. What an inspiration!

She, too, captures the simplicity that is the essence of Christmas.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Love To All ♥

Everyone found lots of cheer at Bri 'n' Kell's
Santa Night... but the real excitement came when 

the big guy came strolling through the door!
Yes... Believe.

A Twist

Joe surprised me by requesting Sour Cream Twists, this holiday season. I haven't baked them in years and years. In the family cookbook I've compiled for the kids, the following is my notation:

"An old Firemark family recipe and a special request by Poppy (my Dad), Uncle Ron and Uncle Benny (Dad's very best friend) every Christmas.... a lot of work, but very delicious, 
it seems..."

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks cold butter
1 pkg. dry yeast dissolved in 1/4 cup warm water
1 egg and 2 egg yolks
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon and sugar (S-C) mixture, to taste

In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt; then, cut in the cold butter till it's a pea-sized consistency. Combine remaining ingredients, except for S-C; blend well into flour mixture. Knead a bit and separate into three sections. Wrap each and refrigerate for two hours or more.

Working with one section at a time, roll dough in S-C, shaping into a rectangle. Fold sides in and roll out again in S-C. Repeat once or twice more, making them as sweet (or not) as you please. Finally, roll into a long rectangle and slice into one-inch-wide strips. Twist and shape, as desired, placing on a cookie sheet, leaving room between each. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven for about 15 minutes, or so, depending on size... keep an eye on them. Cool completely before storing in a tin. They can also be frozen.

Make your house smell yummy! Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Déjà Vu ♡

Santa Singers
Now, this is familiar: 

Gavin's concert was adorable, as he and other kindergartners entertained us with holiday fare. He knew his part well, after Sunday's rehearsal. Afterwards, we were invited back to his classroom.

Guests watched the kids behave in a festive and orderly manner, as they were served a snack of holiday cookies. Then, Teacher invited those who could to please stay, to help with the construction of Cone 'n' Candy Trees. I couldn't resist. When Brian and Christian were in school, I was always Class Mom, "specializing" in crafts. Gosh, it seems like a lifetime ago and just yesterday, 
all at the same time.
Bri, wasn't I just helping you?
On My Left
My Grand had both parents helping him; so, I went to another table. On my left, there was a meticulous child who had a specific and sparse pattern in mind. On my right was a little girl with a penchant for lots of candy. 
Individuals. 
Each precious... 
uniquely creative. 
On My Right
Proud Grand 
Upon completion, the projects were wrapped in green plastic, tied with ribbon, and sent home with parents, for safe transport. The children were so happy. 
I'm happy, too. 
Tears-in-my-eyes happy. 
This is Christmas.

 Cone 'n' Candy Trees
Use sturdy plastic plates for bases, canned white icing to "glue" on cones and create "snow" on plate, and green icing for coating the "trees". Decorate with candies of different varieties and small cookies. Sprinkle with crushed mint "snow". Wrap 'n' Ribbon. Voila! A breeze, as compared to gingerbread houses!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Make This Instead Of That

One can never make too much sauce!
'Tis still the season to cook big. Bri and Kell are hosting their annual Bring-A-Dish Santa Night, tomorrow. The children shall be excited beyond description, as they await an appearance by the jolly one. "Do you really think he's coming?" The adults tend to wile away the hours by taste-testing. 

Lasagna has always been an easy stand-by, but it can be annoying to serve, especially if it doesn't set properly. With a little extra work, the same flavors can be blended into Stuffed Shells. 
Stuff 'em full, please.

Yes, 'tis the season... for real ricotta cheese... 
no Chobani substitutes:
Prepare delicious sauce. Pre-cook shells. Combine ricotta, eggs, cubed mozzarella, grated pecorino romano (optional-it's salty), parsley, garlic powder, pepper. Stuff 'em. Refrigerate or freeze, if necessary. Sauce just before popping into a medium oven; they'll bubble fast for a quick serve. 

Buon Appetito...not particularly -Healthy,
but don't count on leftovers!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Vision - A Concert

Aubs 'n' Pals
Prior to today's Winter Concert and unaware at the time of its intent, I shot this photo. Funny that it should end up speaking so well to the theme of the program. A glance at these sweet faces tells us that diversity 
is alive and well.

Our district is striving to qualify as a World School, via the International Baccalaureate system. Please check out this link, if you'd like to learn more. Though "America" ("My Country, 'Tis Of Thee") was highlighted, so were songs such as "Hello From Around The World", the Russian "Good Night", the Spanish "Dos Cancioncitas", and so on. I must confess here that "Jingle Bell Rock" was missed. Sigh. I digress...
Aubrey's Schoolmates
I especially liked the "movement" segments. The children were encouraged to feel the music, interpreting it through motion and dance. Beautiful.

Long story short, our little citizens are being afforded the opportunity to respect difference. With a little luck, they'll carry this notion to adulthood, with an understanding of what it takes to attain global peace. We are the world. Merry Holiday.

Mr. D. Staying Current

Real Time... 3:00 a.m.

My view from our side door, looking west and taken through glass... didn't even have to walk outside to suffer chilly temps. Please left double-click on photo for a better view. Very cool sight, indeed.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Lunar Eclipse + Winter Solstice

Tonight's anticipated dual astrological event might produce a rare image such as this:

Equation For Christmas Cheer

Two Baby Grands + One Great-Grandmother + Christmas Tissue Paper + Watered-Down Elmer's 'n' Brushes = 
Fun For All

Aubs and Gavin made "binders", patiently ripping, brushing and gluing tissue paper to cover the entire outer cardboard. Well, let's say Aubs was patient! I easily accommodated their requests to tuck recipe booklets into the nearly finished projects. 
They went home happy. So did Mom. 
That's Christmas.
We were also treated to an impromptu rehearsal for an upcoming holiday concert...
video

Sunday, December 19, 2010

We've Got To Stop Meeting Like This

New Paltz is an old, artsy village, home to a university, and located in the heart of the Shawangunk Mountains, near Mohonk and Minnewaska. CMI is sprinkled with mention of the absolute beauty of these places. We love driving in that direction and did so, yesterday.
Christian had mentioned a funky, hole-in-the-wall restaurant that he and Dawn liked; so, we gave it a try. Rock Da Pasta offers made-to-order fare, boasting all fresh, pure ingredients. Wait-time is enhanced by a steady stream of rockin' music, barstools have guitar backrests, and old albums adorn the walls. They are graded, framed and for sale.

And so, we dined with Neil. There he was in his rightful place, amongst a slew of rock 'n' roll Hall Of Famers. Smile. Even Joe has to admit that the guy refuses to stop following 
me around.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Santa Sighting

On our way home, this moonlit night, Joe and I spotted Santa... so, you better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why... he really is coming to town!
"Merry Christmas and a Ho, Ho, Ho!"

Friday, December 17, 2010

Scusi???

Gotta luv New York, but I'm not so sure about this Marist poll. Have you heard? Yes, voters have chosen the year's (link) most annoying word. Humph. It happens to be one that I quite enjoy sprinkling about my blog.

Whatever!

Hot or Not, Y'all?

Niece Kim and I agree that this big ole Texan is hot, y'all. Pick him apart, feature by feature..... yeah, yeah, we know - he doesn't fit the mold of, let's say, Elvis's exquisitely chiseled features. But still, he's a southerner and a one-name icon who, when he opens his mouth, packs hotness. 

Take yesterday, for example. First, he spoke with the parents of an exceptionally precocious eleven-year-old whose hearing might be lost completely, should she suffer a blow during participation in her beloved sport of gymnastics. The girl's decision to continue to jump and tumble was allowed by the parents, though they clearly understood the risk. The kid had them believing that her maturity level was adequate enough to judge for herself. That changed when Doc spoke with her. The impact of his words and directness of eye contact altered not one iota, though his approach changed, ever so slightly. His hypothetical question to her was key. Not verbatim, but... "If right this minute you had to choose only one - the ability to hear or the continuation of your sport - which would it be?" The child chose correctly. By the session's end, he made it clear to the adults that a child, regardless of her maturity level, is simply not developmentally capable of safe judgment, as it pertains to her future. Though he rarely inflicts decisions on clients, he told this mom and dad that they have no choice but to put an immediate stop to dangerous activity. Then, to aid the girl's acceptance, he suggested that she be suited up to feign deafness for a couple of weeks; she agreed. 
Way to go.

Hey, how many times have you wished to consult Dr. Phil? Kim? Laughing hysterically (or not!) here.

Merry Christmas, Dr. Phil and Elvis, wherever y'all are. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happy 4th, Mambo Peach ♡

Springtime 'n' Prancin' Pretty

Wow! Times really does fly, when you're having fun. Here is last year's entry. 
Love Grows!
Today's Fetch
Puppy Comfort

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thanks, Santa ♡

Santa came home bearing gifts, last night. I could barely see his face, beyond big blooms. 
Thanks, Santa... you've added the perfect touch. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Congratulations, Neil Diamond...We Know You Rock ♡

Singin' To Me Long Ago
"Play Me"

Photo By Joe




It doesn't matter that the honor of being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame is long overdue... sometimes, the best is saved for last! We are thrilled, knowing well how much we've rocked with you over the last 4 1/2 decades. Here's to 2011, your 70th birthday and well deserved celebration of your success. 
Thank You and Congratulations! 
ROLLING*STONE*INTERVIEW
Singin' To Me Recently At The Garden

Monday, December 13, 2010

Create Merry

In planning this year's holiday, Bri and I agreed that no one remembers too much about pricey gifts from years gone by. We do, however, readily recall feelings experienced during special moments in time. Here on Stacey, the air in our home became palpable with excitement, back in the day. 

The year my Dad died, the boys were very little. Mom, Joe and I had to lift ourselves from the doldrums very quickly, to create some merry for them. Always one to handcraft for the holidays, I began the therapeutic construction of decorations for our front portico. 

In 1976, there were no hot-glue guns. So, little by little, I rotated Styrofoam armatures, gluing nuts in random designs, all the long while thinking, laughing, crying, feeling. The end results have become symbolic for me and have been on display every year since. To this day, when I hang them, I think of my Jewish Dad decorating our Massapequa home. I can picture the life-sized Santa with the color-wheel of light upon it. Soon after completion, he'd arrive home with a beautiful Scotch Pine... our tree. Always, I felt so loved, as though the world just revolved around his and Mom's mutual desire to make me and Ronnie as happy as possible. It was the feeling Joe and I wanted to impart to our beautiful Children.
Every early childhood year, the boys created something for each of their loved ones and for each other. Handwritten notes and drawings always accompanied their work. I'd also bring them to Mom's, armed with supplies and instructions, so that they could do a project for us. Precious love went into that artwork; I can still feel their proud pleasure, upon presentation to us.

One year, Joe bought an enormous fresh wreath for the house. I kept its frame, and the following fall began working a new piece, using red branches of a shrub the boys had given me, the previous Mother's Day. I've continued to add branches for what now amounts to decades. Cousin Evelyn tells me that she'd be unable to recognize our home, if ever I took it down. Apparently, it's what she focuses on, upon arrival. Gotta love Ev. 

Niece Kim detests the commercial aspects of Christmas and has always focused on handmade gifts with her son, Keith. She'd come up with laborious projects for him to accomplish and gift to his family members. Laughing aloud here!! The kicker remains his handwritten, hand-illustrated, hand-delivered and complete copy of 'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, circa 2004, when he was nine. Talk about love and feeling... thanks, 
Keith and Kim, for the gift that keeps on giving. Love you guys so much.

In 1992, when the boys were older, I created a Mystery Box, filling it with letters to Santa, the loving notes they used to leave all over the place for us and each other, and special mementoes. It was out for most of the pre-holiday, not to be opened till Christmas Eve, its embroidered message saying:

Dear Joe, Brian and Christian, 
These treasures saved with love and care... 
Tonight I'd like with you to share... 
All my love N '92 
We had a special young, non-Christian guest that night. She just delighted in each discovery and became our Narrator, for the evening. Honestly, I'm getting goosebumps, as I write. I've added to its contents, over the past few, but haven't displayed it in a while. Surprised was I once again, upon finding baker's dough handprints, circa 1977, when Brian was 7 and Christian only 4.  I'm thinking that this year, our Baby Grands might enjoy old sketchbooks and notes of their Dads, as well as wedding letters and other goodies. 
Grazie Dio. I'm so in love with my family.

It matters not to me if one believes that Christ was born on December 25th, or that the Messiah has yet to come, or that power lies in the Sun and Moon, or that someone or something else is G-d. Truly, I just wish everyone the feeling of a season concentrated on showing love for others. In the creation of merriment, may we unite in capturing the best gift of all. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Flocking Outdoors

Our 36-degree heat wave brought the best of all life forms to the great outdoors, today, even though gray clouds prevailed. It was invigorating relief from the sub-zero temps experienced during the last few days. Did my best to capture a few of the flock. Better than nothing, 'cause a dusty camera is simply not acceptable.  
Wintering Bald Eagle Oversees The Rio

Delaware Tranquility - Can You Spot Baldy?
Woody Lands On A Rusty Railroad Trestle
Brave Ducks Buck Lackawaxen Currents

That's Our Sugar ♡ School Accolade