Tuesday, May 31, 2016

TWTW - the unofficial kick off to summer three day-er

Thursday night I picked up the house, packed up the car, bid MFD adieu, threw the dogs in the car, picked up Debbie, and we got to the shore just before midnight. I had post traumatic paint disorder and I needed to chill the F out. Friday morning was grocery shopping, breakfast at Sunrise Cafe, ambling down Asbury and shopping in our favorite store Blue Eden, and fielding many compliments on my grammarian shirt.
Friday afternoon we hit the beach along with everyone else, had an apres-beach snack, and I painted my nails. 
Friday night board walking and shopping
Debbie put together the IKEA poang chair and deck box for me as assembling furniture is not in my wheelhouse.
I moved stuff around on the porch until it was to my liking. I just need to add a few more lanterns. We spent a lot of time out there relaxing with the dogs, including Mae the ninja who escaped through the rails to tangle with a visla on the sidewalk. Never a dull moment.
Saturday afternoon was a perfect beach day: great people watching, sunny skies, pizza and Kohr Bros for lunch...we stayed late and I read an entire book.
We ran out of steam Saturday night and ended up chilling out, watching Bridesmaids, eating hotdogs and cucumbers for dinner, and taking the dogs back by the bay to peep on the awesome houses and flowers and see the sunset. Geege needed to be carried home, so good thing Mae's nanny was there to take charge of her. 
I made it up for Sunday's sunrise and biked up to the beach to see it. It was a misty morning cool one.
After some porch sitting, dog walking, and eating a bunch of fried boardwalk food we headed for home around 1, then went to my mom & Rich's for dinner. I also saw that the Best of OCNJ instagram shared my sunrise photo from that morning, so that was cool!
Sunday morning MFD and I relaxed, watched Political Animals, and got groceries delivered.
Weekly food prep: breakfast is egg muffins with broccoli, green onions, and monterey jack cheese; lunch is roasted sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, and baked chicken thighs; lemons for water; snacks are cucumbers and oranges; dinners are the pork tenderloin seen below with mashed sweet potatoes and steamed veggies and avocado toast. I also made power breakfast muffins for the freezer.
Other Monday things:
-Some photo cleanup online
-Seven freaking loads of laundry
-Fresh sheets on our bed and guest bed
-Reading The Nest
-First two episodes of the new season of Bloodline
-Dinner of pan seared steaks, baked potatoes, and steamed asparagus + dessert of angel food cake, berries, and whipped cream

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Summer has unofficially begun. But not officially officially, according to the calendar that's June 20. Sara from My Journey of Doing and I will host our next seasonal goal linkup on Friday, June 17. If you have summer goals/wishes/bucketlists/whathaveyou, please join us! Feel free to share how you did on any spring goals that day as well. 

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Stella & Dot fans: This is the last week for my online trunk show shopping party, 40% of the profits go to Paw Works, a no-kill, animal rescue in Los Angeles (www.pawworks.org). Shop this link: http://www.stelladot.com/ts/1mag6 

Linking up with Biana at B Loved Boston for Weekending &

Weekly Wrap Up

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

One of my favorite things to photograph is the American flag. 
The quote in the middle is true. 
The pictures surrounding it are some of my favorite flag photos I've taken. 
Thanks to those who gave all. 

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Chinese Lantern Festival in Philadelphia

Will you be in Philadelphia this weekend? Or any time before June 12? If so, you have the opportunity to catch the Chinese Lantern Festival at Franklin Square.
MFD and I strolled through Tuesday night. It was $34 total for both of us to get in. Even though it was on my spring goal list, I was unsure if I would attend. Franklin Square is one of the original five squares of Philadelphia that is essentially a public space that has been closed to its public during the evening hours unless you want to pay the pricey $17 PP to get in. They erected fugly fences  and they're wrapped in black and the whole thing looks horrible.
Obviously I got over it and we went in. It was beautiful and festive and a nice hour of wandering around looking at the joyful lanterns. The price is what I take issue with - $17 each for something you can basically do in 30 minutes. That's a lot for a lot of people, especially families. I wish the art was more accessible to the community. Because it's pretty and fills you with wonder and makes you feel like you're lightly walking around in a land of magic.
I think everyone could use more magic. Probably especially the people who can't afford the ticket prices.
If you go:

  • Franklin Square is at 6th & Race
  • Can't really help with parking, I snagged an illegal spot on Randolph
  • The festival runs through June 12
  • You can walk through the square until 5 p.m. The square is closed from 5-6. Hours are 6-10 Sunday through Thursday and 6-11 Friday and Saturday. 
  • Adults: $17, 17 and under: 12, under 2: free, seniors/military: $15
  • You need timed tickets on Fridays and Saturdays, you can get them at the gate 

In addition to the lanterns,

  • Square Burger is open
  • Craftsmen have booths set up
  • There's a gift shop (of course)
  • Nightly entertainment on a main stage

Whatever you do this weekend, be safe and have a good one!

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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Thursday Thoughts before Memorial Day

1. On Monday we salute those who died defending America's ideals and protecting American interests around the world. While this one day out of 365 days is set aside in memory of those who died so that we may live freely, every day is the day to honor them by not taking your life and your freedoms for granted. In this fraught political landscape, it is easy to forget why this country was born, how it was made, and that while we might be royally pissed at our government, we still have the power to change it if we stop talking and actually take action. And collectively we have many things to be proud of. The bravery, skill, and sacrifice of our armed forces is at the very top of the list.

2. I also always want people to recognize the distinction between Memorial Day and Veterans Day. They are different. Every day is the day to thank a vet. Every day is the day to call your government reps and tell them you want vets to walk into any medical building in this country and receive immediate medical care, free; and that you want a place for every vet on the street to lay their head. Bonus if you tell your Congress person on the phone that while Congress does not deserve a pay raise ever again, the military does. ANYWAY. Monday. Monday is the day specifically set aside to remember those who did not make it home. It's a day to remember our dead. Freedom is certainly not free.

3. I'm about ready to call fuck this shit o'clock on this week. Debbie and I are heading down the shore with the dogs for the weekend. The weather will finally cooperate so I can sit on the beach and read a book for hours. Even if I have to do it in a sweatshirt.

4. The online Stella & Dot party I'm hosting is still happening. Click here to shop, 40% of the proceeds go to Paw Works, a no-kill animal rescue in Los Angeles. Do it for the doggies! The new thing for June is spend $50 and get 50% off the big ass getaway bags that I am in love with.

5. Boom. Thanks to my friend Brian for sharing.

6. Morning boys. Mae does not show her face until she's ready to show her face.

7. This week's library haul. I'm still working on one to finish from the last time I went. I'm hoping to read a lot this weekend. New episode of The Armchair Librarians drops today where Jana & I discuss Julie Murphy books. Thanks to those of you who submitted questions for our interactive episode, we record that tonight.

8. I typically hate everything about Tuesdays. This Tuesday rocked it - we went to Pho Saigon for dinner, got the final piece of shore furniture for the year from IKEA, then checked out the Chinese Lantern Festival in Franklin Square. More on that tomorrow. I did hate that the delicious Vietnamese Coffee I drank at 7:30 kept me up until after 2, which made me too tired to zumba last night. I did get to see my Lola instead though, so it all worked out in the end. Well, it worked out mostly to the end. See next.
9. If we're friends on face space, sorry for the screenshot but I am too tired after this shitshow debacle to care. I hope you at least get a laugh out of it. I got plenty when I was laying in bed with paint in my hair and so caked on my hands and nails that I couldn't get it all off.

10. E-card of the week:

What are your Memorial Day weekend plans?

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How to be Eco-Friendly at Home

We only have one planet, and we don't treat her well. Every day is earth day but most of us forget that. I've shared what I do at home to be more eco-friendly, and I continue to really think about what I'm doing in my house and the impact it has on the earth. I don't compost, yet...I need to get on that. And I'm interested in Nest, discussed below. Here are some tips from Jesse Hughes:

Going green starts at home. From recycling and composting to using eco-friendly products, there are a handful of simple, everyday practices that you can put into action to make your home a more sustainable and green place to live.

Choose Earth-Friendly Home Products

Say goodbye to those harsh, chemical-ridden products in your bathroom and kitchen; say hello to something that’s both eco-friendly and safe for your family as well as the environment. The Environmental Working Group has reported that the chemicals and cleaning agents found in many common household cleaning items can lead to birth defects, asthma risks, respiratory issues, chemical burns and cancer.
Consider checking out Amway.com for safer, eco-friendly options. Here, you can find dozens of household and everyday products that are safe for you, your family and the planet.

Avoid Unnecessary Waste

The United States makes up one-third of the global trash that exists, even though our country accounts for only 5 percent of the world's population, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Data reported by Virginia Tech shows that 65 percent of Americans do not recycle simply because it’s too confusing, takes too much work and isn’t required.
The effort to cut back on waste starts at home. You can recycle your unwanted glass bottles and plastics, and compost paper products and food waste such as banana and orange peels and egg shells. It’s easier than you might think. The experts at Gardener's Supply Company offer tips to make learning how to compost simple.

Save Energy

A smart thermostat can not only save energy, it can also save you money. There are hundreds of “smart” devices on the market; many of these items are probably already in use in your own home. Why should your home’s thermostat be any different?
Consider updating that old thermostat to Nest, a smart thermostat that is programmable directly from your smartphone. The thermostat can even sense when nobody is home and turn off your heating or cooling to save energy. Nest is even smart enough to learn your settings and preferences.

Look for Eco-Labels

Many of today’s appliances are not only state-of-the-art but eco-friendly as well. Manufacturers have made it easier for consumers to make informed decisions about what they are purchasing at the store by adding eco-labels to their products. You’ve likely seen these labels, such as the Energy Star sticker, on your home’s appliances or on products in the stores.
According to the Department of Energy, Energy Star-rated dishwashers use 41 percent less energy than other dishwashers without the eco-label. Washing machines with the label can cut water usage by 40 percent. If you’re ready to update your home appliances, consider Energy Star-rated products to save money and energy.

Teach It

One of the best ways to carry on a legacy of sustainability is to teach what you practice. Encourage your entire family to recycle or compost. Talk with your kids and engage in an educational discussion about the health of the planet and what it means for all of the plants and animals living here.
The best way to encourage action from those closest to you is to lead by example. It’s not hard to do. Start small and you might just see big changes.


What are your eco-friendly practices within your home?

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Friday Fatassery on a Tuesday: Baked Cinnamon Sugar Donuts

Hoo boy. I got a donut pan and asses are about to get a lot fatter up in here. I worked from home on Friday and had these mixed and done before I would've even stepped off the train in Center City.

At least they're baked and not fried? Of course, they are dipped in butter sooo...

Thanks to my Soul Sister Ina Garten for the original recipe. I halved hers and altered it a bit.

Baking spray with flour
1 cup flour
3/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of whole milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the topping: 4 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a donut pan well.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together egg, milk, melted butter, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry until just combined.

Spoon batter into donut pan, filling each one a little more than 3/4 full.  Bake for 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for five minutes, then tap the donuts out.

Topping: melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Dip each donut in the butter then in the sugar - one side or both if you're feeling frisky. It was Friday so they got a double dip in my house.

Pass the donuts, friend.
Scarf them down while they are hot.
Elastic pants rule.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

TWTW - the one with the circle of life

Friday I worked from home: homemade donuts (recipe tomorrow) and furry coworkers. When I work at home Gus stands on one side of me and whines, Geege stands on the other side, and Mae lays on the dog bed and stares at me like a creep.
Kim arrived from Boston and we attended a Friday night viewing for our friend Mike, then we slunk through Target and ate our sad feelings at Brother's.
Saturday morning mass and funeral luncheon. It is always so great to see everyone and always so terrible when the circumstances are a funeral. People live in my memories and I can always see them at various points in our lives, but the first thing that goes for me is a what a person's voice sounds like. It was good to hear so many voices again. Mike wrote a song way back when and two of the other Mikes sang it at the luncheon. It was very appropriate. I used to not understand post-funeral lunches. As an adult I understand how important it is to gather, remember, and share a laugh in an informal setting after a funeral service. It's the turn for most of us. And I was extremely happy to finally meet KVSR's little angel baby Natalia.

I spent the next hour and a half crying up the NJ Turnpike. I just needed to get a big ass cry out and I did. It was cleansing and exhausting. Not so exhausting that I couldn't hoard Laura & Chris's baby for the next hour and a half. The newest Michael in my life was born on Friday at 10 lb 13 oz. I adore that his initials are MBD - which in his case of course also stands for Major Big Deal - and I love him so much already. That black square is covering up his don't steal this baby monitor. Technology is awesome.
Kim went north to Boston and I went south on the Garden State Parkway to the shore. It was a shitty, rainy drive, and I was over it by the time I got there but wired from swirling emotions and coffee in addition to renter noise so I was up past midnight. Sunday I slept in until almost 10 and then hit the beach and the boardwalk for a little. If you go to Ocean City, you should check out the L.E.H. soap shop on the boardwalk. The two I got smell delicious.
The rest of Sunday I spent cleaning up the efficiency, cleaning out the alley, going to Big Lots for cutting boards/coffee/dog toys, painting my nails, and eating a meatball sandwich from Voltaco's with CSI Miami in the background. Missed you, over dramatic Horatio. I left the shore around 8.
Weekly food prep: breakfast is english muffins topped with PB and bananas; lunch is Wawa salads; and I'll figure  dinner out along the way. 
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And it's the week before Memorial Day. Spring is still a fart in the wind and the temps this week make me think we're rolling into summer.

Happy birthday to my cousin Tracy today!

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Armchair Librarians: Hit us with your best shot

Jana and I are going to record an interactive episode next week that includes questions from you about books, reading, or anything else you've heard us talk about when we go off the rails. If you have a question or topic you'd like us to spend a few minutes on, please leave it in the comments below. 

Yesterday's episode was us talking about movie adaptations of books. Next week we'll be discussing Side Effects May Vary and a little of Dumplin' by Julie Murphy. 

Interspersed between general topics, we will have episodes that focus on particular books. If you like to read along, in a few weeks we'll be discussing How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz and sometime this summer we'll be discussing The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney and Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Armchair Librarians Podcast with Jana of Jana Says & me...episodes release most Thursdays

Visit our website for episodes:
The Armchair Librarian

Searchable on iTunes or click here: 

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