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Friday, December 15, 2017

Christmas in the kitchen

In the spirit of “keeping it simple” I only put out a few decorations in the kitchen. On the shelf a partridge sits ina pear tree while simple letters spelling joy are underneath. 

Above the sink is a simple pine garland and two sparkling pears were added to the little glass terrariums. You can also see my little plaid lunchbox. 

Here is a small display on the round table using flowers and candle that I already had and adding a sleigh with ornaments. I really enjoyed decorating this year. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Christmas memories

Christmas memories are the best. Here is a repeat post from 2007 

1. I remember exactly when I learned there was no Santa Claus. I was 12 and I had suspected for a few years and listened to the talk at school that the jolly old elf was just fictitious. When I confronted my mother she admitted to me that it was true. So I sat on the bottom stair and watched as my mother and dad put out the presents for my sleeping sisters. I still remember the disappointment I felt that my childhood illusion had been vanquished. 

2. The first year that Don and I celebrated Christmas in our own house he decided to go and cut a tree for us. He brought back a long needled spruce and set it in the stand. This was not your typical Christmas tree. ..not the perfect conical shape that you see today. This tree had long spaces of trunk between the branches. I loved it! The ornaments that hung were clearly visible and the tinsel wrapped itself around the tree in long strands. 

3. I still cherish the tin ornament and the crayoned ornament that my sons made for me. Each Christmas I put these two things out as part of my memories. Chris made the colored ornament once in art class in junior high. Ryan made the tin ornament with its punched out letters...BEST MOM. 

4. Only my loving husband would climb up on the roof with an oar to make the tracings of Santa's sleigh in the snow and tap out reindeer footprints..

5. One Christmas eve it started snowing and never stopped until the next day. We awoke to knee deep snow that covered the roads, the sidewalks, and all the hills. Don had a plow on his jeep and spent the entire Christmas day going around to all his friends and family and plowing them out.

6. Don doesn't have a lot from his childhood. There are two toys that we put out every Christmas that belonged to him...an old leather football and a wooden flat car with wheels. 

7. Don always tells the story of how he peeked at a present...it was a bb gun. When Christmas morning came he felt so guilty and had to pretend to be surprised. To this day he wouldn't look for a present even if it was out in plain sight.

8. My father and my husband had a special holiday gift tradition. They were both coin collectors and there was a special buffalo nickle that they gave back and forth to each other every Christmas. It was always a trick to see who could disguise the nickle so that the other didn't suspect. Once dad suspended it in a shirt box by attaching it in the middle of the box by strings. Once he put it in a long telescoping box. 

9. We once made a Mission Impossible game for Ryan to find his present that year. He had clues and went all over the house reading the clues and chasing down the next clue. finally he was led outside and had to climb a tree to get down his present...a climbing rope for rappelling.

10. When Chris was young I took him to the local elementary school for a Christmas program. Joking with him on the way back I said, "Look I think I see Santa and his sleigh in the sky," to which he replied, " and I see Rudolph in the front!. 

11. Ryan and Chris have always had a tradition of opening the presents from each other on Christmas eve.

12. Nothing is better than to have family around at Christmas.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


When I was eighteen I was introduced to alcohol…legally. Since our town is five minutes away from the New York state line and their drinking age at the time was eighteen many of our teenagers spent a lot of time in Limestone. There were a few bars there but the favorite by far was Casey’s. What made this bar so special was the piano guy…Phil English. It was a party every Saturday night when my now husband and I would sit at a table and sing and sing along with the tunes Phil was playing. It was such a happy time. The bar became famous and the picture below was in Life magazine. It even drew people from Buffalo to come down and have a great evening. Like most good things the bar finally closed but my good memories live on. Image may contain: 9 people, text

PHIL "FINGERS" ENGLISH, who was hugely popular & somewhat of a legend ranging from Kinzua(which was Phil's hometown) to Bradford & up to Salamanca. But it was at Casey's Limestone Hotel, located in Limestone, NY, that was considered Phil's second home, as he was the feature entertainer here. He was widely known for getting a party started & making it last till the end of the night. One of the things that made Mr. English so immensely popular, was the fact that he could play ANY SONG upon request, no matter what the song was. If he was not familiar with it, he would ask the person to hum a few bars of it, then he would take it from there. He was a man that never had any type of formal piano lessons.

"CASEY'S LIMESTONE HOTEL" was located on Route 219 in Limestone, NY, and across the road from the old Limestone Entrance into Allegany State Park. It says that they have been open since 1865/1866, there slogan sounds like one from the 1800's, that says, "PURVEYING SPIRITUOUS LIQUORS".
It was built in 1865 and is one of the oldest buildings in Cattaraugus County. Casey's once hosted President Woodrow Wilson. Casey's was known for it's big top quality steaks and also for the liquor bottles that rattled on the bar, as well as the windows shaking, when trains rumbled past, on the very nearby railroad tracks. Another popular draw at Casey's, was that it had a piano bar to entertain the bar crowd & the dining patrons. This piano bar was extremely popular, mainly because of a smaller, thin man named Phil English, who hailed from the former community of Kinzua, Pa. Mr. English, who had a background in music and the theater, but no formal piano lessons, had a knack for pulling patrons into the fun and songs. Phil English, was, well you could say that he was ahead of his time for back in those days, because he was not shy about saying that he was “openly gay,” also kept the parties and drinks flowing every night. Mr. English’s evening performances, were so well-loved that word spread to local media, who included Bill and Mildred Miller, hosts of the popular “Meet the Millers” cooking show on TV, in Buffalo. Through the Millers, who were regular customers at Casey's, and other media sources, word of the popular piano player at a rural steak house, spread to Life Magazine. The Life Magazine staff, complete with several large trucks and flood lights for the famous photographer Yale Joel, arrived in the summer of 1959 for the photo shoot. This famous photograph, looks much like a Norman Rockwell painting, as it captured a lively piano bar scene with pianist Phil English, leading a fun-filled sing-along of spirited patrons. After the photo(seen at the top) was published in Life Magazine's December 29, 1959 issue,"the little restaurant near the railroad tracks" skyrocketed in fame. Reservations were booked weeks in advance, and lines of people were part of the landscape. After this once immensely popular restaurant closed down, it became an antique shop, called "Discovery Antique Store" for a while. This famous old local landmark, is still standing, but sitting abandoned, the word is that it is going to be torn down, because it has become an eye sore and a problem because of asbestos. I received some of this information from an Olean Times Herald newspaper article

funniest 12 Days ever

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Staunton Virginia


One of my very favorite things to do is go on a house tour. This past weekend my sisters and I met in Staunton Virginia for an evening home tour. There were six homes all in the same general neighborhood. Although the houses were small they were interesting as we viewed the personal lives of the owners. One lady who had served in the military oversees had objects from the east that she cherished and when remodeling discovered an old circular cooking fireplace in her home. Some homes made the best of the small spaces by combining rooms and updating kitchens. As you can see from the pictures Virginia had snow over the weekend which added to the ambiance. 

We were dressed warmly and drove around since the houses were on a hillside. Afterwards we went to the Mill Street Grill for dinner. 

We had a wonderful time at dinner laughing and joking with the waiter. We thought the trio of rolls served in a metal crock was a great beginning to the meal. It was served with black cherry butter. 

We all had the prime rib sandwich and declared it the best one we ever ate. Diane splurged with a brandy bread pudding and our waiter brought complementary peppermint ice cream dishes to the table after dinner. 

We went back to the motel room and had a ball reading letters that Diane had saved from long, one ago. We laughed so long and so hard we were sure that someone would be knocking on the door to tell us we were disturbing the guests. 

One thing we always enjoy about being out of town is the food. This is my lunch from the Pampered Pallett...squash soup, turkey Rachael, and fruit. 

And this is my dinner from Bravo...fontina stuffed chicken wrapped in prosciutto with spinach, butternut squash and gnocchi. Absolutely delicious. 

This cute little Jack Russell statue was in one of the windows in a favorite shopping spot. Yes, we did get in a little shopping too on our trip. It was so much fun to be with my sisters.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Tai Chi

For the past few months I have been taking a Tai Chi class from the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford. We are so lucky to have this University right down the road from me as it offers a lot to the community including personal growth classes. Last year I took the Tai Chi class in the fall semester and did so also this year. The girls in the picture above were our instructors. These darling Chinese girls were Confucius scholars who are at the university teaching for one year. They were very patient with the class considering our advanced age and lack of physical abilities Tai Chi looks very beautiful and simple but it requires a lot of controlled motion and balancing.  I thoroughly enjoyed going to class every Monday. We learned the twenty four movements and were able at the end to do the whole exercise to music. We took the girls out to our local Chinese restaurant last night as a treat. 

The girls surprised us with gifts. The tassel knot's word in Chinese also means meeting friends.  The paper cut panda was done by one of the girls herself. She will be teaching an adult class in paper cutting next semester.  These girls were so sweet. I loved the class!

Monday, December 04, 2017

Shopping? Oh yes.

Yesterday Don and I took a trip to Erie to do some Christmas shopping. It's an hour and a half ride there but it's the closest place to go to the big stores.  Our little town has a Walmart, some dollar stores and a few small businesses. I shop online but I like to see what's out there and actually touch the things I'm buying. First we had lunch at the Olive Garden where unexpectedly I ran into the sister of a friend of mine. After a delicious lunch of angel hair pasta with Parmesan pesto sauce and a meatball I was set for shopping. My husband who abhors going into any store was dropped off at the casino where he spent three happy hours while I breezed from store to store crossing off my list. This year helped by a list from my family seemed easier than those in the past. With my limited time I managed to get almost everything done.  On Thursday I will be traveling...again. I am going to Fredericksburg Virginia to meet my sister Linda then on Saturday we will meet my sister Diane in Staunton Virginia where we will go on a candlelight house tour. We always get together in December.  It is a lot of traveling for me but I so love it when we are together and we have the best time. 

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Making time for reading

I love to read and always have books piled up waiting for me from the library.  But there are times when I just don't get around to reading them. Or I start them but they don't hold my interest. But I've read two books in the last four days which I haven't done in a long time.  

James Patterson is always a good quick read and although he frequently collaborates with other authors I prefer the ones he writes by himself.  This one was good. 

The second one took longer reading but was a great story of children who were taken from their home and taken to an orphanage and endured terrible conditions before being adopted. Here is a summary. 
Wingate’s tightly written latest (after 2015’s The Sea Keeper’s Daughters) follows the interwoven story lines of Avery Stafford, a lawyer from a prominent South Carolina family, and Rill Foss, the eldest of five children who were taken from their parents’ boat by an unscrupulous children’s home in the 1930s. With her father’s health ailing, duty-driven Avery is back in present-day Aiken, S.C., to look after him. She’s being groomed to step into his senate seat and is engaged to her childhood friend, Elliot, though not particularly excited about either. Though her dad is a virtuous man, his political enemies hope to spin the fact that the family just checked his mother, Judy, into an upscale nursing home while other elder facilities in the state suffer. At an event, Avery encounters elderly May Crandall and becomes fascinated by a photo in her room and a possible connection to Judy. While following a trail that Judy left behind, Avery joins forces with single dad Trent Turner, with whom she feels a spark. This story line is seamlessly interwoven with that of the abuse and separation that the Foss siblings suffer at the hands of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society, a real-life orphanage that profited from essentially kidnapping children from poor families and placing them with prominent people. Twelve-year-old Rill bears the guilt of not having been able to protect her siblings while also trying her best to get them home. Wingate is a compelling storyteller, steeping her narrative with a forward momentum that keeps the reader as engaged and curious as Avery in her quest. The feel-good ending can be seen from miles away, but does nothing to detract from this fantastic novel. (June)

Have a cup of cocoa

In my opinion there is nothing better for the soul at this time of year than a steaming cup of hot cocoa. I set up a cocoa bar in my kitchen so that I may enjoy it any time I want.  

Watch the sunrise at least once a year, put a lot of marshmallows in your hot chocolate, lie on your back and look at the stars, never buy a coffee table you can't put your feet on, never pass up a chance to jump on a trampoline, don't overlook life's small joys while searching for the big ones.  H? Jackson Brown

A little cup of cocoa,
I'm sending 'round your way.
I hope that you'll enjoy it,
on some cold and wintery day!

As you sip this cocoa,
it's warmth will warm your heart,
just light your friendship warmed up mine,
right from the very start.