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Monday, December 27, 2010

It's not about the presents, however...

...some really thoughtful gifts were under my tree this year!

 For example, look at this GREAT PHOTO ALBUM from Adam and Jackie.  A wonderful picture of Jackie and I from her wedding (I don't think I had a copy before this, hmmmm :) ) in the front of an album to be filled with pictures of our future adventures together.  LOVE THAT MOTHER/DAUGHTER TIME!  And also containing some GIFT CARDS to grease our travels!  And look at that FABULOUS PHOTO OF GRACE with her name carved into the mat, no less.  Photographer Adam gets kudos for this wonderful shot, a grandmother's gold.  And Kudos to Jackie for collaborating with Grace to give me this gift.  Now take a look at the card.  Unassuming, yet loaded with a real treat...are you ready?  TICKETS to see Whoopi Goldberg at NJPAC in February.  Seeing Whoopi in person is one more item I will be able to cross off of my list!  Wow, Bobby, you and Kathryn really topped off my day with this one.  PLUS, the "John Adams" series on DVD.  (Why did On Demand pull this series before I finished watching it?  Oh, right I thought it would stay On Demand for a very long time.  Please note that the DVDs did not make the photo because they are sitting next to my TV waiting for me to spend this snow day with coffee and JA.)
And, of course, what Christmas would be complete without a good gadget?  My sister, Debbie, came up with this one, a soap dispenser with an electric eye!  It dispenses liquid soap when it "sees" your hand under the nozzle!!!!!  Love it!  And it made its way to our bathroom vanity in record time as you can see.

Presents...always nice.



Wind chill is causing very low temperatures.  Turnpike and GSP ramps are impassable. 15" - 22" according to TV.  Layer of ice under snow.

Airports closed.  LIR closed. State of emergency declared.  State Police advise everyone to stay home.

The view from the back door!

The sewing room window overlooking the park.  Bear is, of course, unaffected and unimpressed.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Worship Celebration

Last night Rob, Grace, Kathryn and I attended the Christmas Worship Celebration "Love Has Come" at the Hawthorne Gospel Church.  Rob and I attended last year. This special program is awe-inspiring.  The Jazz Ensemble pictured here warmed up the crowd with cool renditions of "The Christmas Song" and "Angels We Have Heard On High."  Dave Dillon on Saxophone and Stacy Bautista's vocals put us in the mood to expect more.  We were not disappointed.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Our visit to see Santa on Sunday was great!  We arrived at Macy's before it opened and were among the earliest people on line with Grace and Kyle.  Both of the kids were excited.  Santa was the best.  After a snack, we took cabs over to Rockefeller Center to see the tree.  The Center was bustling with shoppers, skaters and a motorcycle club.  The club was collecting toys for donation to children in families struggling to make ends meet.    

Jackie found the perfect place for lunch, Blue Smoke at 27th. and Lexington.  Kyle was excited to compare it to Famous Dave's.  He declared Blue Smoke the better tasting restaurant.  The kids really had fun there.  The restaurant brought each of them a raw cookie to decorate.  While they ate, the cookie was baked and presented to them at the end of the meal to take home.  The crowds, the cab rides, and the energy of the city impressed the kids.  Kyle had a 10 minute nap on the way home and Grace was asleep for the entire ride.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Well, they are finished, my first pair of socks!  Knit on three needles with help from Mary C. at Cozy Quilt Shoppe, learning to knit "in 3D" was a challenge from my to do list.  Many thanks, Mary.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A New Tradition Begins

Yesterday, Black Friday 2010, was the perfect day to see a Broadway show!  All of the tourists and shoppers were downtown while Jackie and I enjoyed the light crowds in midtown.  "Elf, the Musical" was the object of our adventure.  It did not disappoint us, roaring good fun. 

We met at the Marriott Marquis in Times square, for a light lunch, then hustled over to the Hirschfeld Theatre for the 2 p.m. matinee. After the show, we walked over to the Nintendo store for some quick shopping.  Then we hailed a cab over to Fresco by Scotto for great calamari and mac & cheese.  On the way back to Jersey, we laughed; totaled our expenses for the day, and laughed some more.  We plan to do this again on future Black Fridays.  It was a great day and we did our bit to bolster the economy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Clovis 4/13/92-11/11/2010

Clovis ran the house from the day she was born.

Jackie brought home a stray cat, suspiciously fat. A few weeks later, her bedroom closet was home to the mom and four (?) kittens.  Clovis was the largest, loudest and first able to climb out of their box :-) Jackie begged to keep her, so we found homes for the mom and the others and Clovis became part of our family.

Her name came from Stephen King's film "Sleepwalkers."  Jackie was into her horror film period.  Clovis was deputy Andy's cat.  In the film, the cat is the heroin who saves Tanya from vampire Charles and then leads the pack of cats, which had been gathering nearby, into an attack on vampire Mary thus saving Tanya again.  Jackie was 13 years old when she named Clovis.  I guess she felt that she needed protection from vampires.

Our Clovis was a character.  She is missed and remembered with love.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Eighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace

Eighteen AcresEighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Life in the White House(the 18 acres of the title and the pinnacle of U.S. government) is the subject of this first novel driven by the lives of Charlotte, first woman to be President; Melanie, a White House veteran and Charlotte's chief of staff; and Dale, TV correspondent covering the White House and Mistress of Peter, Charlotte's husband. The story is an unexpected page-turner! Melanie was my favorite character, but I was always turning pages to keep up with Charlotte and Dale as well. It's girlish and gossipy. At the highest levels of government, girls will be girls.  And, they play politics a bit differently than men. Sort of beach book goes to Washington, I really enjoyed this story.

Nicolle Wallace, former political analyst for CBS news and communications director in the George W. Busch administration writes well about a subject she knows in her debut novel.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Grace Weekend

Grace was visiting this weekend.  Yesterday, she went with Rob, Kat and the Quinones family to a pumpkin farm.  They had a great time and brought home a nice big pumpkin.

Grace is a big car singer. On the way home from the diner after breakfast, she ran through her repetoire of geometry songs including "Cindy Circle," "Susie Square," and "Trixie Triangle" then surprised us with a verse of "Hey Soul Sister."

And, she had mail here this weekend.  Her first issue of High Five magazine arrived.  She was good at finding items hidden in pictures, loved the poem about Mr. Turtle's birthday (he is 92), and cooked the "Mac & Cheese Muffins" with her Dad.

The missing muffins were eaten by the cooks!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Ford County by John Grisham

Ford CountyFord County by John Grisham

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I seldom read short stories. However, John Grisham is one of my favorite authors, so I picked up his collection "Ford County." I was not disappointed.  Grisham is a master storyteller both short and long.
Among the seven stories in this collection, "Casino" was my favorite.  It had all of the Mississippi nuances that give strength to the realism of all of these stories. Writers do write best about what they know best.  Sidney dearly loves, or is very used to life with, Stella.  Who would have guessed that he had the skills to get her back?  After enjoying each episode that added up to the climax, I had to smile when the story ended.  It was a satisfying ending.

There is a lot in these stories to keep a book group talking.  Because they are stories rather than a novel, members could read as much as they could in a busy month like December and still take part in the discussion without guilt.  The discussion would certainly be lively.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Thank you Bob Braun...

...for your column on the front page of The Star-Ledger this morning (Monday, 9/27/2010).  I recommend it to all of the wonderful educators I have known. And, I encourage them to keep their chins up, stand up and do not give up.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

First September that I am not going to work, feels weird.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

"Now and Then" by Robert B. Parker

My rating:  5 stars

Spenser and Susan are back together after a separation. Their conversations are as witty and cryptic as ever.  Of course Hawk, Vinnie and Cholo are on hand as well to give Spenser the backup he needs to protect Susan while he entices the killer of an FBI agent and his philandering wife into a trap.  What begins as a straight-forward job of snooping on the wife at the request of the husband turns into a complicated case of false identity and terrorism. 

I loved this one.  It is probably my favorite.  Spenser is smooth, Hawk is cool, Vinnie is psycho and Cholo is, well, expert.  Highly recommended.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Van Riper House Benefit Street Fair

Yesterday the street fair to benefit the Van Riper House was held on Franklin Avenue between Harrison and Centre Streets. Jeanne Van Steen and I set up the League of Women Voters table and the tent (a tricky project) with help from the Spencer Savings Bank crew ( a neighboring table). It was breezy, cool and clear, a beautiful day for the event.

Rob, Kyle and Grace met me on the Avenue.  After pizza and soda at Belle Paese's sidewalk concession, the kids had a great time playing on the inflatable attractions.

Later, I met Rob, Kathryn and Jackie at the Salt Creek Grill in Rumson for Rob's birthday dinner.  Seated next to the Navasink River, we chatted and enjoyed the restaurant.  It was a good day.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sesame Place

How big are Ernie's hands?
After the shoe shopping described below, we headed off to spend the afternoon and evening at Sesame Place, in Langhorne, PA.  It was a beautiful day. There was a huge crowd. The park was colorful, nostalgic and chaotic with happy little kids. The many water slides and pools were popular attractions.  And, we were EXHAUSTED driving home, except for Grace who chattered, asked questions about our front seat conversations (she doesn't miss anything) and watched "Toy Story" without falling asleep.

The Count's Splash Castle was a riot.  It dumped a huge pail of water on the crowd below in the pool every few minutes.

School Shoes

A tradition continues. Shopping for school shoes is a tradition I hope to continue with my granddaughter Grace, pictured here in one pair of the new shoes. That's her dad, Rob, carrying the bag.

Christine Donato at the library once described how her mother still took her to shop for school shoes after she reached adulthood. Chris was a school librarian before she retired and came to work with us. Her father continued that tradition after her mother passed away. I loved that story, especially since my daughter is a school librarian.  After hearing the story, I began taking her to shop for school shoes.  We had not done that since she was a student.

Yesterday, Rob, Grace and I visited two shoe stores, the Little Shoe Box and Nordstrom. It was a successful trip.  Grace is wearing the pair she picked in the photo.  Black patent leather MaryJanes, requested by her mom, are in the bag.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Compulsion" by Jonathan Kellerman

Compulsion (Alex Delaware Series, #22)Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listened to the audio book and I was reluctant to stop.  Milo Sturgis investigates and Alex Delaware, psychologist, consults in a team-up that never fails to produce twists and turns.

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World Quilt Festival, a Road Trip with Jackie to New Hampshire

August 18-22, 2010, Jackie and I drove to NH for the World Quilt Festival.  On Thursday, we participated in an all-day class taught by Barbara Barber from the UK.  BB is famous for her circular piecing techniques and her book "Really Sharp Piecing."  This is the block that I began in her class and just finished today at home. Clovis, my quilting companion, was very curious about this block.  She had never seen me quilt anything in a circle.  I was pretty pleased with the result.  It took some trial and error to get this one right. Now, I think I could do another easily.

On Friday, we devised our own "shop hop" and visited four shops on our way up to Center Harbor, the home of Keepsake Quilting which Jackie dubbed "mecca for quilters."  Our first stop at The Quilt Patch in Bedford set the playful tone of the whole day.  The proprietor, Sue Trask, had just opened the store and watered her garden as we arrived.  We spent a ton of money, laughed, consulted, pondered, drove, criticized the GPS and even had a wilderness adventure that will go down in family lore. ;-) Getting to Keepsake Quilting was so much fun.
Jackie entering Peggy Anne's Quilting & Sewing Co. in Concord. Found great SALES
Cute country shop in Andover.  All quilts in the shop go on sale at half price after Thanksgiving, and they were beautiful.  Good place to get holiday gifts.

After our "off road" adventure, we arrived at The Quilting Corner.
Finally we arrived at Keepsake Quilting in Center Harbor, a beautiful resort town.

NJ State Fair

What's a visit to the State Fair without a pony ride? Rob, Kat, Grace and I spent the Saturday, August 14th. in Sparta for the event.

I learned about oxen.  I was never too sure exactly what kind of cattle they were. However, there were three pairs at the fair and some very knowledgeable people who set me straight.

The livestock displays included this little guy who was very camera and child friendly.  Grace was a little hesitant at first.

Rides? Grace loved them!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

New audio book download

  Compulsion (Alex Delaware Series, #22)Compulsion by Jonathan Kellerman

Listening to the audio book just downloaded from the Nutley Library Listen NJNW site.  A great service, these unabridged audio books go onto my MP3 player for listening in the car, during walks and while sewing.  Love them!

View all my reviews >>

Friday, August 6, 2010

Facelsss Killers by Henning Mankell

Faceless Killers (Wallander #1)
Henning Mankell, Steven T. Murray(Translator)

 A good first novel, the police procedures are painstakingly described, however, the action does not suffer. Detective Wallander, brooding and instrocspective, is very human. His relentless pursuit of leads and theories kept me right there with him in the story. I will read more mysteries from this Swedish author.

Bones by Jonathan Kellerman

  Bones (Alex Delaware, #23)Bones by Jonathan Kellerman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nothing new or interesting here, Kellerman is becoming stale.

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Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods

  Fresh Disasters (Stone Barrington, #13)Fresh Disasters by Stuart Woods

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Shallow, pretentious....

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Sunday, July 11, 2010


It's done and it only weighs 40 lbs. 2 oz., well under the 50 lb limit.  I have an entire day to second guess what I packed before going to the airport on Tuesday morning.  This is going to be a great trip.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

  Storm Prey (Lucas Davenport, #20)Storm Prey by John Sandford

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Where is the edge-of-your-seat anticipation of horrific events?  Not like the usual Sanford, this one is mellow by comparison.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Lincoln Lawyer (Mickey Haller, #1) The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
EXCELLENT! Mickey Haller, defense attorney whose office is a Lincoln Town Car (hence the title), works for a client who can pay his "A" schedule fees, a "franchise" client.  Roulet quickly becomes his worst nightmare.  Connelly knows how to build tension and desperation in his characters.

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

High Profile High Profile by Robert B. Parker

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Unflappable police chief Jesse Stone is back working a double murder in his town and trying to cope with his own personal problems.  Parker has written another chronicle of the evil that men (and women) do.  A good beach book, "High Profile" is a good read.

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True Detectives: A Novel True Detectives: A Novel by Jonathan Kellerman

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
The sibling rivalry and characatures of the bad guys are trifling.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Night & Day

Enjoyed a nice evening with my son, Rob, last night.  We went to see Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz in "Night & Day," a movie that kept us smiling throughout.  The stunts are nonstop.  The structure of the film brings the opening full-circle to the ending.  I loved the ending.  Cameron Diaz's spunky character and Tom Cruise's unlimited patience and time-outs to explain and give specific instructions to her are comic.  Their timing is very good.  It is fun to stretch believability with a smile.  

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Karate Kid

...see it.  Didactic.  Editing - flawless.  Music - beautiful.  Sound effects - amazing.  Cinematography - artistic.  Sets - authentic, panoramic.  Characters - 2 main have depth and are well-developed.  Acting - Jackie Chan: never saw him in a dramatic role before, he CAN ACT; Jaden Smith - probably worked harder than he ever imagined to prepare for this role, a good lesson to learn so young.

THE MAGIC IS ALL THERE.  Breath taking.  Inspiring.  Enjoyed by all ages in the theatre.

More Michael Connelly sans Harry Bosch

The Scarecrow The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Connelly makes Jack McEvoy, reporter, believable as he deals with losing his newspaper job.  The plight of newspapers is current and his assessment of print reporting currency, accuracy and standards vs. TV reporting is accurate.  That Jack uncovers the story of his career through great investigative journalism gives readers a plot that keeps them reading.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Hooked on Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is my new favorite detective. Immersed in an audio book binge since early April because Bosch is so hard to put down, "Nine Dragons" is my favorite book in the series so far.  I am not reading them in order. Len Cariou is one of the best audio book narrators working.  His recreations of the Bosch/Connelly series make listening addictive.

Kids.  They can really complicate life.  Harry's daughter complicates his in a twist at the conclusion that took me by surprise.  I do love late in the novel twists that create memorable endings. "Diggstown" and "The Usual Suspects" are films that I enjoy for that reason.

Downloading audio books through the Nutley Public Library subscription to ListenNJ is wonderful.