Friday, July 29, 2022

Friday Five: Frank's Birthday Five

It's that special Friday again, friends! That annual treat for me and you - every year, Frank writes a birthday guest blog for me (see 202120202019201820172016201520142013), and today is that day!  

Here we are again with my favorite birthday tradition, my yearly five. 44 has been quite the year indeed. I was back to work doing aftercare and substitute teaching in Haddon Township, student taught and graduated from Rutgers with a Master’s of Teaching, and I am now the new 2nd-grade teacher at James Stoy School in the Haddon Township school district. There have been so many people that have helped me get here but the number one person is my wife Amanda who worked so hard to support the family during these last two years. So in that vein, I figured I would write about the five things I have learned in my first full year in elementary school.

Kids are funny - I spent so many hours this year laughing and most of it was caused by the kids. They are often repeating the jokes and they soon get old but their timing and the things they say will make you crack up

Recess is life! - Even the meek and timid kids become savage warriors during recess. I don't remember games being so life and death when I was young but it gets more competitive than the super bowl. Days are made or broken depending on kickball outcomes.

Integrity is valued - Spending over 20 years in sales teaches you to win at all costs no matter who it hurts. Those with integrity are often stolen from, used, and thrown away when they no longer serve. In this field, it is the opposite. Your integrity is rewarded by the staff and the students. Kids have a large bullshit meter and they know when you aren't genuine. If you are genuine you will be rewarded with effort, kindness, and a bond that is pretty incredible.

People help if you ask - Even further they will help just because. Every educator I know has either done something to help me, offered to help, or advocated on my behalf. It is inspiring to receive all of that kindness and the only thing they ask in return is to pay it forward. For someone with my history, this was very strange and difficult at first. I now know that if you help people and put good things out there they come back to you. What a great lesson to learn at my age.

I have found my calling - This is truly what I was put on this earth to do. I am so lucky that my former career was thrown away because of Covid. I was highly successful, making great money, and was completely miserable. I am a rookie and I have a ton to learn but I am a teacher. I am completely addicted to helping my students learn and grow. It has been the most rewarding professional year of my life. I was great at sales and it never felt like I fit in. I am home, completely comfortable, and with people who are just like me. Not a lot of people get the chance to do what I have done at this age. I am so lucky to have been given this gift which was spearheaded by Amanda and Eva. 

I am so proud of Frank for this beyond mid-life change, and Amanda for carrying a heavier load while he did that. I am really happy that Frank became a teacher, he is perfectly suited for it and we need more good people in education. We should also stop grounding the already good people in education down. All of us owe a great debt to our educators and school staff and some of this country has not shown that recently. Let teachers teach and treat them as the professionals they are, not the all-day babysitters some people have gotten twisted into thinking they are. And while we're at it pay them more for doing so. Get it together, everyone. 

Happy birthday Frank, thanks for doing your annual post which I love. See you tomorrow! Happy weekend all!

Monday, July 25, 2022

Snippets of the Weekend 7.25.2022

Scary episode 1 of Stranger Things 4 has me out for the season. Four episodes of Euphoria season 1. Finished two books. DNF one book. Started another book. Paged through magazines for the first time in forever. 

Got a jump on weeds, laundry, and work Friday morning. Restorative, excellent massage and infrared treatment with Sarah at Blossom massage and Body work in Langhorne - check her out! Bad news: shore cleaning crew could not make Saturday. Good news: found a sub late in the day to save me a trip down to co-clean with MFD, who was doing turnover solo this week. 

Stayed inside to beat the heat wave temps.

Worked on my piles and small projects: cleaning this or that. Clearing the dining room table. Sorting and purging. Pantry clean out. Vacuuming. Errands. 

Lounging with dogs. Clean sheets. Face and eye masks. Coffee in silence. 30 year old t-shirts. 

Replacements found for: shore king quilts, dead Philly toaster my Pop found for us at a flea market over 10 years ago, 30 ounce tumblers.

Water, heavy on the lemons and limes. Tomatoes and burrata with balsamic glaze. Air fryer chicken thighs with steamed brussels sprouts. Macaroni salad with shrimp. PB&J cookies from Lou's Farm Market. Fresh local corn bought & put up to freeze for the winter.   
AND two naps. Safe because no one was in the house so I could wake up and be mean to the air.

In addition to snippets here, I've taken to doing weekending reels on Instagram if you are interested. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

3 Awesome Tips For Becoming A Better Dinner Host

Pexels - CC0 License

It’s very easy to become over-serious about hosting a dinner for other people. Of course, it’s not hard to see why. Cooking for others, especially those we rarely cook for, and super especially if it’s for someone important like our boss at work or a romantic interest we’ve invited to our home for the first time, can be nerve-wracking.

The key to overcoming this anxiety is to try and have as much fun as possible. Don’t think of it as a test you have to pass, but a nice event you get to contribute to and enjoy. When you’re able to do that, you can think about what you’ll also get from the evening, which naturally helps you focus on making that experience better rather than jumping through artificial hoops to impress.

So, with that mindset, we hope to give some advice that help you become a better dinner host without all of the worry and fear that may come along with that, at least initially. Without further ado, let’s consider:

Perfect Your Dips

It may seem as though you need to perfect the most impressive recipes and offer something truly groundbreaking in order to make your dinner party memorable, but that’s not necessarily the case. Just keep it simple, and focus on doing well. Often, it’s the smaller items where you can show your creativity and worth. For example, with this authentic tzatziki sauce recipe, you can provide a fantastic accompaniment to a range of meat or vegetarian-based dishes and perfect your side dips with care. This adds more color, texture, and love to your dinner table, and ultimately helps the event feel more like a celebration and less like a stuffy meeting.

A Range Of Beverages

It’s also good to have a nice range of beverages available for your guests. Some sodas, or a nice punch, or perhaps just a nice fruit juice pitcher created from watermelon or other blended fruits can provide a refreshing aftertaste. On top of that, a water pitcher filled with ice is always good to have access to. From here, you might also offer coffee after the meal, or decide to share a bottle of wine in advance. Believe it or not, but 50% of being a great host is making sure your guest has access to refreshing beverages for their entire stay.

Accommodating Allergies

Of course, not everyone likes every food item, but more than just preference, some can’t eat particular foods. Asking about this in advance can help you prepare your kitchen, from making certain that ingredient is nowhere to be found (like nuts), to wiping down your kitchen thoroughly with disinfectant beforehand, or even inviting your guest into the kitchen to show them all of the ingredients you’ve used (spoiling the surprise is much better than a trip to the hospital), you can provide exactly what your guest needs and design the menu around that. It’s the least anyone deserves.

With this advice, you’re certain to remain the awesome dinner host you probably already were.


This post was written with the Life According to Steph audience in mind

Thursday, July 21, 2022

Thursday Thoughts - But some nights, I always win

Sun dappled everything in Philly yesterday.
Hot AF. Not a great time to walk a half mile to the doctor and a half mile back to my office but we do what we must and we sweat and curse while doing it. Lots of masks back indoors in Center City.

Gordon Lightfoot in concert in OCNJ Monday night. We love seeing shows at the Music Pier. Gordon is 83 and still touring. I love his music even if he needs a little help from the audience to get all the words out there. His opener was Jake Wildhorn and he was good too.
My oldest friend. After the concert I met up with Jen who was in OC with her fam. Jen and I have been friends for over 40 years. That is crazy for me to think about. It is nice to be able to immediately tune in to someone you don't see as often because you do have so much shared life. We caught up but it's never enough time.

Freedom for Billy. Billy Hicks was at the shore in our one room efficiency for over two weeks, and despite his underground lair there he was super ready to come back to a three story house full of hiding spaces in Philly.
Next time I think gel nails are a good I got them in 2016 before Ireland and then in 2022 before our New England road trip. I did a shitty job of removing them the first time and had to do a deep dive on them again this week. Never say never but like...never again.
Books. I finished an advanced copy of the newest Taylor Jenkins Reid novel, Carrie Soto is Back this week. It comes out at the end of August. I loved it. I got the Tangueray book, and I have some others out there too. I keep trying to remember to update what I read that week on Instagram on Fridays, but I am probably only remembering that like 2x/month at the moment. I'll be doing a full books post at the end of July.
Food. In an intense entanglement with portobello mushrooms right now. And anything I don't have to cook cook because I never feel like cooking when it's really hot even though my house is an ice cube. I can't explain it. Veggie salads, caprese, macaroni salad are all on the menu right now. Probably a rotisserie chicken too.
Indoor things. I'm in Philly until a week from today. This rental season has hurt my feelings and I need to remove myself for a little, plus this weekend is Night in Venice at the shore and I cannot and will not. MFD is dealing with turnover this weekend since he has to be down there to play for Night in Venice anyway, and we have returning people coming in so we are all a known entity to each other. I'm setting my sights on not leaving the house due to oppressive heat. I might go to the Farmer's Market and get some corn to put up to freeze. But I ran errands today and it is awful out there. Well wishes to everyone who works outside and those without AC. Remember libraries are cool gathering spots in the excessive heat. And that your dogs should not be outside in this except to go to the bathroom.


Among other things, Ginni Thomas.  Why You Should Care that Ginni Thomas is Bonkers. Secret service text deleting. Elected democrats still trying to ride the fucking middle instead of using all tools available, pushing for change, and delivering on things for people. Republicans calling a 10 year old rape victim impregnated by her rapist a liar. Continued violence at the hands of the state. Everything about Uvalde. The climate on fire. Complete disrespect for bodily autonomy. People not having the critical thinking skills to be discerning about information on the internet. On and fucking on. 

Reusable bags with attitude. I love them. I picked this one up in Maine.

What appears beyond the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts titles is what I'm listening to when I'm starting this - this week is Some Nights by Fun

Monday, July 18, 2022

Snippets of the weekend: 7.18.2022

Friday off after a traumatic and late Thursday night of a snaked drain, poop smell, discovery of a former plumber's left behind snake head and cable in drain pipe, an encounter with princesses on the boardwalk, four hours with a plumber in our small apartment, and Police Academy. Jersey tomato and Italian glaze season (with portobello mushrooms is chef's kiss). Beach day with Kim, Steve, and Libby. Guests left on Friday so we could take our time with turnover. Boardwalk rides and cheesesteaks and goodbyes after a week with a good amount of time together!  

For the love of god, as requested in listings and house manual and now on toilets, do not flush wipes. None are flushable in a 122 year old house and actually none are flushable period. Fucked off to the North End. Went under water for the first time in the season. Salads and sofa city at night.
Impromptu trip to Lewes to spend the day with Dad and Carol and Stephen and Aubrey and the kids. Bubbles, water balloon fights, barbies, indoor pool time, said hello to Denny and Fran and Ashley and Jon and the girls, some grape devil drink, salmon and fresh corn from the corn man, no sunset on the way home but a lovely ferry experience anyway, both ways. 

In addition to snippets here, I've taken to doing weekending reels on Instagram if you are interested. 

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Thursday Thoughts: We were standing on the edge with the sand under our feet

Feels like summer. Do do do do do do do do

I have seen my BFF Kim and her family nearly every day this week and loved it. A sweaty as F Farmer's Market outing Wednesday. 
Brown's donuts are delightful even if they arrive mangled. The combination of a hot off the press and long walk doesn't make for pretty, but their recipe is always delicious. As is Steve's breakfast. 
Lots of time on the boards this week - storm rolled in on Tuesday.
Libby and I met up with Amanda, Eva, and Donna on Wednesday. Then I had a glass of wine with Kim & Steve on the deck. Solid Wednesday night, they are rarely that good. 
Glimpses of nice evening skies, but no super moon on Wednesday. There was a shelf of clouds just off-shore. 
Nail talk. I got gel polish at the nail salon before we went on our road trip vacation. The last time I got gel polish was before I went to Ireland in 2016. I absolutely hate my nails after and that's what I'm going through now. That shit under the lights absolutely weakens your nails and they are bending and chipping and annoying AF right now. And I say that as someone who has almost superhuman strong nails. 

The first month without Show Us Your Books linkup since October 2014. It would have been Tuesday. It still feels like freedom. I'll be posting a what I've been reading post at the end of July. 

My black and white animals frequently conspire.
My Ben and Bruce are much nicer. Bruce, much lazier.
I watched snippets of the Uvalde school shooting video yesterday. This wrecked me for the day. To see police standing lackadaisically in the hallway, getting hand sanitizer. Looking at the freaking punisher screen saver on the phone in their hand instead of rescuing children who were getting shot. The shots are heard clearly in the video. The screams of the children were edited out. Not for those police standing in the hallway though. They heard the screams. And did nothing. So much for the good guys with the guns counteracting mass shooter theories, huh? Hero worship, near blanket immunity from prosecution, a ruling of the supreme court in 2005 that police do not have a constitutional duty to protect people from harm, and back the blue flags have led to this. It is not fixable within the current system. It is not fixable when governors like Greg Abbott fight to not release the videos. And when the Mayor instead of criticizing the lack of response criticizes the media for releasing them. Is this not clear to people, still? 

Local to me abortion supporters: I hope you have followed abortionfunds and signed up for more info - if you have, and you are near me, you should have gotten an email from Abortion Liberation Fund of PA. Please follow them on IG, access/read/share their Post-Roe Tool Kit, and consider making a one time - and, ideally, monthly donation if you are financially able to, and if not share their organization. They were formerly Women's Medical Fund and have been operating in Philly since 1985, and in a post-Roe world protecting and expanding abortion access through direct service and community organizing. With PA state senate having begun the process through the passage of SB 956 to add an amendment to the state constitution that would criminalize abortion and other critical reproductive healthcare - denying the right to abortion care in Pennsylvania even in cases of rape, incest, or life threatening conditions AND pre-empt any state court from protecting abortion care in the absence of federal protections...which is weird since people have been shrugging their shoulders and saying it's not illegal, it's just back to the states...then GOP state senators are passing bills like this out of committee at 11:45 at night, past curfew, and without input from the citizens they represent; federal GOP going after abortion access everywhere for the last 50 years, and democrats not being aggressive enough, we are responsible at the community level to keep each other safe and rely on the networks established abortion funds have built over years. At this time, that mostly means talking about abortion, sharing resources like these, and donating as much as you can. Sharpen your teeth and protect each other.

In the background of everything, an attempted presidential coup it is quite clear the majority of elected GOP officials knew was happening with a false claim of a stolen election and they did absolutely nothing about it. So the attempted coup, then, is not just presidential, but Republican, and now there is a judicial coup in process while republican legislatures in states attempt to limit voting rights and criminalize abortion so that people convicted lose their voting rights. Fascism isn't coming, it's here. What are you going to do now? Nothing, like the DOJ is doing to people who will not comply with subpoenas? Nothing, like the DOJ is doing with the former White House squatter who is attempting to contact witnesses that have not yet testified against him?

To think about, as collected by We the Urban:
Endlessly becoming. I don't know why anyone ever thinks they are done becoming in this life. We are becoming constantly. Done means dead to me. I love this poem by Lucille Clifton. I mean... a changed changer, I continue to continue. How can you not think about that at pop up points always after first reading it 20+ years ago? It is amazing writing.
I'm off tomorrow. Hallelujah & amen

What appears beyond the hyphen in Thursday Thoughts titles is what I'm listening to when I'm starting this - this week is Feels Like Summer by Samuel Jacks

Monday, July 11, 2022

Snippets of the weekend 7.11.2022

Tremendous skies Saturday and Sunday nights. Neon lights on amusement piers. Friday early evening in the North End with MFD. Quality time with Kim, Libby, and Steve Saturday and Sunday. Hydrangeas peaking. Sea glass Sunday after Saturday night's passing rain shower. 
Easy turnover on Saturday, returning guests checking in. Sign back in to the zillion streaming services. Replace broken lamp. Iced coffee making disaster due to coffee pot not on correctly resulting in coffee allover the table, shelves, boxes, under couch...bumping into Sunday morning alone time serenity. The only way to make hard boiled eggs for eternity now is in the air fryer, Preheat for 5 at 400, cook for 16 at 260.
Ice cream season. Sandwich season. Walk to the corner store for grocery shopping season.

Dogs off to Philly with MFD Saturday afternoon for a few days while he has work stuff. Shifty cat left with me.

Friday, July 8, 2022

Feeling very Friday today

I'm feeling very Friday today. You? Coffee on the porch far too early this morning in my new mug from Lori.
Backyard vistas. I am crazy for solar lights.
Hates couch protectors. Ben is my interior decorator dog - he moves dog beds all over and removes as much of the couch covers as he can immediately.

I didn't make it to Thursday Thoughts yesterday, but I did get all my work work done, finally finish the 230498304 loads of laundry from the shore and home, returned two dresses, packed clothes and house laundry and food  and work stuff up to come back to the shore, picked up some of the shore shit I needed to replace in the house (and a polish, who can resist). Earlier in the week I completed the bloodwork for my physical, which I tend to put off. I'm feeling good about this week personally.
I'm back at the shore to stay for the first time since the beginning of June. I've been down and back three times since then to do turnovers, but I've missed being here. This will be a longer stretch for me and I get to see some of my favorites while here. 

I bought my stamps for holiday cards today because they're going up in two days. Thanks to Cory on Instagram for the tip off. 

Bruce is the laziest dog I have ever had.

Joy is in the smallest things. This week it's been dishtowels, getting back on the good book foot, finding that new lovely polish, not much traffic on the way to the shore. It is not in a clean oven. If you have any care about anything outside of yourself, it is so fucking hard to keep yourself on an even keel right now because you can do all the therapy, wellness work, personal inventory, boundaries, actual self care, etc., but the far reaching social issues that arise from massive structural inequality across every system in this country impact all of us and our mental and emotional health. Fight for yourselves and each other. We all deserve more ease in this life. 

And stickers. Since childhood and forever, always stickers. 

It's guns and...a lot of very American things tied up in toxic masculinity and white nationalism with a side of shitty social safety nets follow Amanda Faun on IG

Reminder: no one owes you a reason or a story for why abortion must be available to all pregnant people. People who are pregnant need abortions for medical reasons but also because they cannot or do not want to care for a child in the circumstance they are in, and before you go on about birth control or abstinence I will ask you what in the fuck you have said about men in regards to birth control and abstinence and the answer will be nothing so you can STFU about women and forcing birth on pregnant people and pivot yourself to responsible ejaculation. This country has zero social safety nets for unwanted children that are operating at the appropriate capacity and zero social safety nets for wanted children that people cannot afford to raise here that are operating at the appropriate capacity. This is about white men staying in control and THAT IS IT. 

How to help within the system we are currently operating in - carrying this over from last week for the resource links We must first take care of each other - fund abortion. Do not try to be a rogue actor because you feel the need to do something - I get the desire to be part of a "camping" crew but we must use the well established and networked organizations to safely help people. The best thing to do if you are able is open your wallet. Every organization below will take donations right now. If you are unable to donate, share these resources in your networks and encourage others to donate. Links:
Donate to abortion funds: National Network of Abortion Funds
Donate to organizations that provide travel to those seeking abortions: The Brigid Alliance
Know your digital security rights: Digital Defense Fund
Know your options:, Plan C, Hey Jane
Support independent clinics: Keep Our Clinics
Support during or after a miscarriage or abortion: M+A Hotline, 1-833-246-2632 (call or text)
Legal advice: IfwhenHow - lawyering for reproductive justice

Take care of each other out there.

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