Thursday, February 28, 2013

Putting On The Ritz

Joe's Thursday route is my favorite, so I often ride shotgun. If time allows, we have lunch by the river in one of the classy restaurants that have seemingly sprung from nowhere. While soaking in the water-views, it is very easy to forget that just a block or two away, a city lies in ruin. What must be the longest freight train ever chugs over tracks that separate this side from that... clearly creating boundaries for a study in contrasts.
Newburgh, once known to typify all-American perfection, has deteriorated beyond belief. Taken from the second link, below:

 "Deemed an 'All-American City' by LOOK magazine in 1953, Newburgh began a steady decline. By 1981, it topped a federal list of the most distressed areas in the United States."  

Yet there are visionaries who never fail in their attempts to restore a building... or maybe just a wall of a building... or a park... or perhaps (link) a theater. Little, loving touches that cast a glimmer of light. Imagine our surprise when we discovered the newly enhanced wall of The Ritz. We stopped for a photo shoot... and just moments ago, I researched the touching stories behind the wall.
Read for yourselves about (link) Dmitri Kasterine and his incredible work of meaningful art, NEWBURGH: PORTRAIT OF A CITY. And visit, sometime, to witness the 61-foot mural appropriately named "Transcendence", created by Chile's Dasic Fernandez. 
Where there is life, there is clearly hope.

Congratulations, Rock Hill!

Bri and pals placed first in the East Coast Firemen's Race at Hunter Mountain, donating $2,350.0 in prize money to the Captain Matthew Porcari Children's Fund, Owego, NY.... a sad but admirable cause. That's teamwork.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Excuse Me? Did You Say "Formaldehyde"?

We just executed the exchange of a memory foam mattress we'd chosen for our "new" master bedroom. The overwhelming stench it emitted came from its formaldehyde content. It screams, "Carcinogen!" Formaldehyde. Can you imagine? 

Needless to say, we were not aware of the sickening component till after I developed pounding headaches and nausea as a result of sleeping on it for a few nights. We'd concentrated on reviews regarding comfort... no merchant revealed feedback about its literal dark side. Once there's a problem, deeper research leads to the discovery that strong gasses need to escape the foam. "Escape to where?" you ask.  Here is the recommended procedure, upon acquisition of this beast. 
Freakin' brutal. 

In my opinion, it would never be free of contaminants... period.
Good riddance. Please be warned.

Monday, February 25, 2013


Sorry I bailed, Joe... but...
Recently - At The Belle Mountain

Popes Don't Retire... And The Scandal Grows

My prayers are for long-overdue

Overwhelming conspiracy.

Oscar Got A Lot Right, This Year

This is SO right!

No complaints here. The Two L's, Lincoln and Les Mis, went home with some bacon. Barbra sang. Adele sang. The cast of Les Mis sang. Jack is still adorable. So is George. The young starlets are gorgeous and gracious. Robin Roberts made the show. Need more?

What an awesome year for the movies.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Kitchen Stories - A Blog In A Pot

C could not conjure up a visual of Nan's sauce-pot, the other day 
when I offered it to him. He does, however, clearly remember
 the best gravy ever! I retracted the offer and shall keep this puppy
here for a while. Then, it'll move back to Long Island,

traveling full circle to Ronnie's abode.
Mom loved to tell the story of traveling
salesmen who sold the original
Club Aluminum, door-to-door.
Any half-Italian worth her druthers remembers childhood pots of gravy simmering away for the better part of each and every Sunday. In our home, either Gran or Mom put it up in the hammered Club-Aluminum-with-a-story Dutch oven. Man, if only that pot could speak with its seventy years' worth of kitchen chatter. Back in the day, the best exchanges took place over sizzling pots 'n' pans of this or that. Collaborative cooking was grand.

Today we call gravy "sauce". It doesn't cook for endless hours. We don't make it every Sunday. We've removed the salt and lots of the oil. The garlic remains, in excess. The meats are leaner. Its aromas tantalize. 
It's still the best soul food ever

Sometimes, though, it might be sauce of a different variety, as was the case this a.m. We were in the mood for waffles and (link) strawberry sauce. I used Mom's pot for the first time, here on Stacey. Well, not exactly. You see, this was also the artichoke pot and my favorite veggie often arrived, all stuffed and tender, in this very vehicle. 

From Jamaica to Massapequa to Kiamesha to Rock Hill to Monticello, the tradition goes on. The possibilities are endless. The memories are priceless. And in case you're wondering...

That's a somewhat healthy cornbread, pictured in the montage. I simply added light coconut milk, dried cranberries and walnuts to a Trader's mix... delicious.

Buon Appetito. Go for a little Oscar-night Sunday sauce... the all-time best recipe.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Be A Hero!

Sure, on occasion he drones on and on. But we luv 'im - right, Kim? And every now and again, he says something that really sticks. You know, one of those life's lessons. 
Enter a hero or heroine, y'all:

"Sometimes relationships need a hero. That means someone has to step up and be the bigger person to close the gap. Someone has to make the first move, the first compromise, to heal the relationship. Swallow your pride and be that person."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Choco Bark - A Recipe

How sweet this jar, gifted to us by Bri after his first trip to Disney without us.
We haven't been to Trader's in ages, our extra dark chocolate bars long gone. Though Ghiradelli chips at 60% cacao are not quite the same as the bittersweet variety we like, they suffice in cookies or anti-oxidant-laden bark. 
Brian 'n' Christian sharing a Ghiradelli ice cream soda, on the Pier
in sunny San Francisco... a few moons ago!

Be careful not to burn chocolate when melting. Nuke on low setting, a little at a time. Stir occasionally, till it's pourable. Work in batches, rather than trying to melt too much at one time. Add whatever you like, refrigerate and break into pieces, when solid. Store in fridge or freezer.

Joe loves this, though he wouldn't dream of eating granola undisguised. Hope you, too, enjoy this nutritious treat from
Nicki's Candy Company :-)

Bloomin' On Stacey

Alec Baldwin 'n' The Three P's

Sure, blame it on Alec Baldwin. That's the easy, newsprint-worthy route. Déjà vu. A celebrity. He even makes CMI with some regularity. Now there's a goal recognized. :-) But remember, we've a connection. You know. His dad. The other Alexander R. Baldwin, also tough, sarcastic and competitive, in his own right. I loved him, back in the Dark Ages when I took History at MHS. I digress. 
Let's talk The Three P's.

Privacy * Paparazzi * Police

We recently avoided a life-altering decision. It's analogous, in a way, and involved a move from Stacey that would have diminished what I value most about our current digs. Privacy. Needless to say, no one hounds me when I wander from Point A to B. But it's more about the expansive version. If I desire people-free lounging in my pj's till noon on a gorgeous summer morning, my yard allows that luxury. Actually, a stark-naked walk to our rural mailbox would go unnoticed. I simply cannot imagine the inability to stroll a few city blocks without being hounded. Some say it comes with the territory. Gain fame and your fans deserve entitlement. I say fanatics. Leading me to...

The paparazzi. En masse, they are freaks. You've seen the current news footage, right? Who wouldn't spew an expletive or two. Or even a slur, if the lens got close enough... though I don't believe for a second that he's racist... far too liberal. I digress again. Right in his face and giving it their all to provoke him. Who is in the wrong?

Mr. PoliceMan/Woman: How about a bounty on the heads of those life-lackers who spend all their time stalking? They've long been the enemy. Just sayin'.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Thumbs Up 'n' Giving Thanks for....

Paint This!

Our Loves

We're in the decorating phase in a couple of rooms. That's where the real fun begins and it's giving us a break till the next mess. Sure, there's lots of retail therapy involved. But there's also a ton of robbing from Peter to give to Paul, in terms of where items might land  There also comes a point when I refuse to spend $$$$'s if I accomplish something myself. Y'all remember (link) "Anything you can do I can do better", right? Case in point...

Two long green frames with off-white mats once resided in the living room. They were moved to the new kids' room with updated black 'n' whites. Thing is, the mats were not white enough to offset the pics; and besides, I wanted black mats. Joe took one template to a local merchant to have a set cut with a single bevel and no second color. How's fifty bucks sounding? Luckily, he called me and that brainstorm was nixed. Instead, I painted the mats and rehung the frames, but then the green simply did not make those beautiful faces pop...

Did you know that Home Depot sells three-dollar samples of any fancy-schmancy color you might desire? Well, I didn't; but a quick trip there led me to the discovery and a rainbow of reds, the desired color, to choose from. Yippee! Those puppies took three coats each, but the end result thrills me... and there's once again a tad more money in the bank...

Not to mention that I'll now be purchasing those little bottles of color for the kids' projects, rather than the pricey, limited acrylics available in craft stores. Why don't ya just...

Color Me!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Aurora Holiday Mountain

We went to watch Aubs and Gav do their thing on the Roman Candle, this morning. It had to be about zero degrees, with the wind-chill factor. Oh, my Goodness and Lord-y!! I didn't bring NIK along... too cold to take my delicate girlie hands out of my gloves. But Cecil B. DeMille did have his movie camera. One of us is always willing to make the sacrifice... right, Joe?

In spite of bitter cold, the snow-covered mountain looked gorgeous, with true cerulean blue skies and brilliant sunshine hovering above. 
I didn't expect much when I snapped a few shots with my iPhone, looking straight into the sun...

Imagine my surprise to find this gem, upon checking my results. I must say, it's the first time I've seen purple in a sun-shot of mine; could never be duplicated. 

Won't you please envision the kids coming off the top and into that wind-whipped, icy course? Kudos to both and a special shout-out to Gav for handling a first-run fall with class... and then coming back strong to do well in the second.

"Good run! Good run!"

Told Bri it felt like just yesterday when we accompanied him and C up the chairlift to access the starting gate...
Déjà vu

Friday, February 15, 2013

No Watering Required

If you've clicked on to my sister site, PhotoStop, linked in the side bar, you've seen Lyla's new hat. The floral adornment was very fun to whip up in about half an hour... hmmm... yep, just one episode of something. Do you like? 

Here are the instructions, found on the best fingertip resource of all. Ignore the hook and thread requirements... 
just use whatever floats your particular boat. Most of all...

My Funny Valentine ♡

Hallmark and 800-Flowers have seen February 14th come and go, for yet another year. But let's face it, hearts and flowers on one day per year do not a relationship sustain. On the other hand, if a guy can keep his sense of humor during the overwhelming daily drudgery involved in renovating what one would think is the Taj Mahal, the true test of love has been aced.... 
and so it goes, and so it goes.

My apologies for the lack of photo descriptions. My Valentine, whom I love so completely, shall understand.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Hearts ♡

It doesn't matter how you say it, just do it!
Via Phone:
"G'ma, do you know why they are called 'candy kisses'?" asked Chloe, when thanking me for the same.
"Why, Sweetie?"
"Because when you send them to someone, it means that you really love them a lot!"
"That's right - we love you soooooo much, little Chloe!"
Via Facetime: 
"G'ma, look under Mambo's bed," said Gavin.
"But, Honey, he's sleeping on it."
"Well, can't you lift it just a little?
And there was the surprise love note, apparently left on last Friday's snow day.
One sweet Valentine deserves another, don't you think?
And so,


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Conspiracy Theory

My Catholic half observes the fact that today is Ash Wednesday by setting goals to reach during Lent. Always, though, it is from within and not dictated by the higher ups in the religious dynasty known as The Church. C'est moi - not sayin' it's right. 
Quick segue here...

Even as a young child, I questioned the practice of one human being's confession of "sins" to another (sinless???) human being. That's what a priest is. Period. Hey, I'm a believer, but no priest is G-d. And to think that little, one-digit-number-in-age children go into an enclosed booth with a stranger to confess WHAT? Makes my skin crawl. I've known amazing priests... and I've observed creeps... all members of a 'hood, except that their word is gospel, pun intended, 'cause after all, they are revered. 
Bringing me to...

"Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence In The House Of God", a must-see documentary that could easily be classified as a horror film. No words. Just watch... please. It is currently airing on HBO. Prepare yourself. No photos for this entry, as I attempt to wipe clean the slate that is my brain. This film's images, suggested and real, are beyond disturbing.

All this does not diminish my feel for a season of good intentions. It just further confirms my innate sense of the mandatory need to exercise extreme caution whenever and wherever our children are exposed. Suspicion prevails and danger DOES lurk...

And the Pope (a hot subject in the film) resigns, as I step off the pulpit. Wishing y'all a successful Lenten season.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ravenous Rio Raptors

It pays to wait for snow, ice and brilliant sunshine, when it comes to eagle-watching. Yesterday's time spent at the Rio was spectacular, as an adult and juvenile decided to perch quite close to our car.
There are no words to impart the thrill of communing with Nature, when so up close and personal.
At one point, old and young took off at the exact same moment, nearly colliding in mid-air.
Wherever we looked, countless birds were seeking, soaring and swiping, before landing to start the process all over again. Let it be known that the population thrives, here in upstate New York. You must go see for yourself.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Finding Nemo

Yep, our latest storm was christened "Nemo". Catchy, eh, and the farthest thing from a fish! We were spared crippling amounts of the fluffy white stuff, ending up with a mere eight or so inches. But the winds down at the lake were gale force. Wow

This is a shout-out to our Long Island family, who suffered a thrashing... again. We're thinking of you.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Long Ago or Just Yesterday?

Little blog entries come together in such intriguing ways. Case(s) in point:

Aubs and Gav came after early dismissal, thanks to the latest storm blowing its way through NY. Shortly after they arrived, UPS delivered a sizable package. Gavin immediately claimed the packaging and played with and in it for a good part of the afternoon. Joe and I reminisced about the huge appliance box that Brian and Christian played with for about a week, back in the day...
Long ago or just yesterday?
Aubs declared Manicure Friday, but only after devouring the pancakes she prepared and cooked. I commented,
"It seems like just yesterday when I painted your nails (and made your pancakes!); now, you're doing mine!"
Long ago or just yesterday?
Always a big black dog, remembering Baron and Sly, as we enjoy Mambo...
 Long ago or just yesterday?
"Will you use this picture on your blog, G'ma?"
TV's Disney channel provided our soundtrack with the movie, "Cars", happily introduced to us by the kids.
 We'd never heard the James Taylor song. Perfect.

A nice day. Be still my heart.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

L♥VE Intertwined

Have you heard? The appropriately named Diamond (Ahem!) Edition of "Peter Pan" has been released. Timeless. Pure love... still... always. If you have a minute, please check out my 2009 post, here on CMI. Sure, I'd already intertwined a few of the loves of my life... but in reality, the gemstone is an indicator of SIXTY YEARS of this beloved tale. Walt Disney - an American treasure. 
Memories are made of this.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Let's Talk "Inspiration"

There was a tad of ridicule, when I named CMI. Ask me if I cared. Inspiration is tangible. It's in the air. The trees. The sun. The moon. The ocean. Song lyrics. Flowers. All creatures, great and small. I could go on and on...  but most importantly, so many people who have graced my life exude it. Whether here or residing in my soul, still they gift it. And so it goes...
by Michelle

Surely, y'all remember (link) My Michelle and our (link) Fabulous Flippers Fundraisers of days gone by. I rarely hear from her, these days, and that is clearly a good thing - a fact to be celebrated!!! You see, she's in remission and back to school... living life as a teenager should. She's busy in a great way, taunting Nephew Keith as they pass each other in the hallways. No time for long, contemplative letters. :-) Ah, but she constantly resides in my heart, not to mention that her flippers and ribbon are all over the danged place! Thus, the latest basket, made with varying colors of leftover supplies. It's crazy and for Michelle's
 Easter gift.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

FYI - Do The Math!

"All work and no play makes Jack Nicki a dull boy girl." 
Okay, okay, I use the term girl loosely, but please cut me a break, as I apologize for neglecting CMIWe're in the throes of home improvements. Oh, you've heard? We've just about abandoned life as we knew it, becoming slaves to projects. Don't misinterpret. Give it a few months, and we'll be boasting the rewards. But for now, we're sleeping around - in the house, of course - and we're exhausted, barely able to crawl into something that replicates a bed, when nighttime falls. Yes, yes, we've hired contractors. You know how that goes. First, you clear the space for whomever; he does his thing and his thing only; you clean and straighten, just in time for the next round. No, no; I'm not complainin'... just 'splainin', Lucy. Could be worse - we could be sanding floors and such. :-) 
Still, what a bloody mess!

It all started with the thought to relocate to the lake, going so far as to hiring a realtor. The spoke hit the proverbial wheel when I prepared my photos for the potential sale. Ah, everything looked gorgeous; basically, I sold myself the Old Homestead, telling Joe that it's impossible to leave the house we built over forty years ago, just to move five miles down the pike. Joe was pretty good about my decision, as well as my thoughts to do this, that and the other thing to our already-lovely abode. Well, you know how that game of dominoes goes... one thing led to another and another; but we feel like we're in somewhat new digs... bringing me to...

Shopping challenges. They're brutal. Back in the day, when we were so very limited by distances to a few stores, we paid what we paid after choosing from a narrow selection. Oh my, how things have changed. Mac and I have been on a retail-therapy expedition like no other. I quickly eliminate what we don't like and hone in on the approved... then the real challenge begins. Take the pricey, over-seven-hundred-dollar item, a name brand and easy to research. Sure, I'd like to keep the business in NY, but there's that damned sales tax and no discount coupons. What is that?? No way. So, click, click to an out-of-state haunt, where it was fair-priced, but with free shipping and no tax... and a forty-dollar coupon. Oooh-kay; I ordered. Eight hours later, upon returning to check its status, lo and behold - a storewide ten per cent discount was happening. In the bat of an eyelash, I had customer service on the wires: 
"Oh, we are so sorry, but that was not in effect, this morning." 
"Yes, I realize that; do I need to cancel my order and re-place it?" 
"Please hold while I speak with my supervisor." 
Situation rectified.
Now, here's the problem... it is extremely time-consuming to shop, both in the real world and online. If you think Mac and I are just playin', don't be deceived. We've saved thousands, in our pursuit of the best price. It's necessary. Remember the economy? I say, 
"Just DO IT!" 
Allow your devices to work for you...

And stay grounded. Home is clearly where the   is. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013


January zipped by with the blink of an eye and here we are in the second month of 2013. Jeesh! Take your pick of events to embellish during winter's shortest month, as we move towards an early Easter. Mardi Gras on the 12th nearly collides with Valentine's Day, my choice of focus. Gotta love hearts 'n' flowers, the latter reminding me that Spring is right around the proverbial corner...

But first, there's Super Bowl Sunday and wings. Cheer loudly and...

Have a great month.