Browsing Date

May 2016

The Cleaning Bug

Grandkids By May 29, 2016 Tags: , 24 Comments

A Cleaner or not a Cleaner – That is the Question

If you google the word cleaner the definition is a person who cleans something.  In this post it does not mean a hit man or someone who removes evidence from a crime scene. You can probably tell…I raised boys.

My question is – are you made into a cleaner or are you just born that way? I suppose I never really considered the question before.  I thought all kids had to be trained (forever) in order for them to pick up their stuff, put things away, clean up their mess and wipe up that spill!

My kids were NOT natural cleaners. In order to get that result out of them, force had to be applied one way or another.   I spent over eighteen years, nagging, guilting, bribing and grounding.  The results were not always stellar.

My three year old granddaughter on the other hand LIKES to clean.  She always has – well, at least since she could walk.  For example, when she was 18 months old, as discipline for her actions, her mom had her pick up every single kernel of corn that she purposely tossed on the floor, from her high chair and deposit it into the garbage can.  She dutifully and without complaint picked up every kernel of corn (one at a time) toddled from the dining room, through the kitchen and to the garbage.  Like 25 times.  I think she enjoyed it.  I was amazed…with my granddaughter AND with my daughter-in-law’s patience.  I probably would have let her make three trips, administered praise and swept up the rest.  Possibly this is why it took me forever to train my kids!cleaning2

When she was two, my husband was at the dining room table working on his laptop, my granddaughter found the swisher broom and began happily cleaning the floor behind him, while singing twinkle, twinkle little star at the top of her lungs.  It was a sight, I wish I would have recorded it.  She was in her element.

A few weeks ago she found my stash of Clorox wipes.  She decided she desperately needed to clean the floor in the bathroom and her potty chair (both were already clean)!  There really was no stopping her, she was on a mission.  I let her finish, restricting her to how many wipes she could actually use and then washed her up when she was done.  I really think I missed it for Christmas, I should have by-passed the toys and just bought her an economy pack of cleaning wipes. She would have been thrilled.

The cleaning bug doesn’t seem to carry over to keeping the caps on markers though, which is one of my pet peeves.

I have already informed her parents that I plan to take full advance of her love of cleaning when she is old enough to earn money for chores.

So what do you think?  Are cleaners made or just plain born that way?

 

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My Favorite Aquarium

Family By May 22, 2016 Tags: , , , , 14 Comments

My three year old granddaughter likes aquariums and so does my husband.  Consequently, I have visited 4 aquariums in the last year, in 3 different states.  That is more than I have visited in the two previous decades!  It’s not that I don’t enjoy marine life, it just hasn’t been at the top of my ‘to do’ list. I might write about all my aquarium adventures in a future post but now I want to share about my favorite aquarium to date, the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, NY.fish2

For my birthday my husband took me on a weekend trip to Long Island.  We had never explored this area of New York before, we took the ferry over in order to drive around and take a look.  We brought our oldest granddaughter (the one who likes aquariums) with us, she had fun and we were able to spend some quality time with her.aquarium-fountain

Since it was my birthday (weekend) the aquarium let me in free, a nice saving off the admission price.   I had already booked our ferry passage home, at a specific time, therefore we allotted 2 hours for the aquarium visit. This was not nearly enough, a family could easily bring lunch and stay for 3 or 4 hours.  We arrived when it opened and since it wasn’t crowded, we could move freely and quickly.  It’s not that the aquarium is huge but every bit of it is designed to draw you in.  The first thing you do is take a walking bridge across a pond that has skates and various fish swimming in it, ending at a waterfall.  They have beautiful murals painted on some walls and the other walls are encrusted with sand and shells, with huge seashell wall sconces.  Whoever designed the aquarium focused on detail and it definitely enhances the visitor experience.atlantis3

My husband really likes rays, he finds them fascinating.  They had a ray touch tank (as most aquariums do) but they also let you feed them.  Wow!  In fact you were able to feed a variety of animals.  I remember when I was a child, my grandmother would take me to see the seals at the zoo.  She always purchased the seal food, so I could feed them.  I loved it and have fond memories of her and I doing that together.  I am glad they do that here.penquins

Besides the general aquarium fare, they have a reptile house, a Japanese Snow money exhibit and a building from the lost city of Atlantis with Poseidon sitting on top.  This building is designed for the budding archeologist. Kids can dig through ruins, shift dirt looking for artifacts and find  ‘gold nuggets’ (aka small rocks) in the gold mine.  Awesome idea.

This is a beautiful and interesting aquarium inside and out.  If you ever find yourself in Long Island, NY this must be on your list of places to visit.

Here is their website in case you are interested – Longislandaquarium.com

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Movie Review – East Side Sushi

Family By May 15, 2016 Tags: , , 11 Comments

My youngest son just returned from a visit to Japan.  He met a friend from college, who is working there as a teacher.  After a ton of walking and hiking, he lost 10 pounds, in 2 weeks.  According to him, not from lack of eating.  That is a new one – The Japanese Walking Diet!

He came over to the house, bearing gifts from his trip as well as take-out sushi and wanted to watch a movie.  I browsed Redbox real quick and found East Side Sushi. It had a subtitle –not your typical Mexican cuisine. Now we were all intrigued and it seemed appropriate – considering.  We rented it.

The movie is about a single mom who lives with her widowed father, trying to make ends meet and raise her daughter.  When her current work becomes too dangerous for her to continue, she stumbles across a job in the kitchen of a sushi restaurant.   She is drawn to the art of making sushi, as she watches it being prepared.  She studies the sushi chefs and teaches herself how to make it.  As she pursues trying to become a sushi chef, she runs into road blocks in this male dominated world.

We all enjoyed the film.  The movie shows her struggle to provide for her daughter, while wanting to do something more, not just have a job.  She battles with doubt, her dad’s opinions and the limitation put on her at the sushi restaurant. However, she is determined and stronger than she realizes.  Of course it has a satisfying ending – because I am all about that!

Unless you are fluent in Spanish keep the closed caption (or subtitles) on and just ignore the English.  They speak Spanish during a few scenes in the movie but do not translate it.  I know, right?  Maybe they thought it would be more authentic or maybe they forgot to include the translation. But, you will want to know what they are saying during those parts of the movie.  Its a small inconvenience and you get used to it.

If you want to watch a movie about determination and not giving up (without boxing, warriors or blood and guts), then this is a good one.

Enjoy!

 

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Food Triggered Memories

Recipes By May 8, 2016 Tags: , 30 Comments

My Aunt Gertie’s Molasses Cookies

When I was a child, my grandmother would take us to visit her sister, my great aunt.  She lived in a small town, about an hour’s drive outside the city.  Aunt Gertie was stocky and had a long salt and pepper braid that she coiled and pinned neatly at the back of her head.  Without fail, she had fresh, home-made molasses cookies ready for us to eat when we arrived.  Neither my mother, nor my grandmother baked much, so this was a real treat for a bunch of hungry kids.  These tasty cookies were firm on the outside and chewy on the inside. Oh so good.

My Aunt Gertie died when I was a teenager.  There were no more home-made molasses cookies after that. When I was a young bride, I asked my grandmother if she knew the recipe.  Not only did she send me the recipe, but the actual handwritten one my aunt had given her.  Years later I realized that having the actual handwritten recipe was a treasure. Of course, by this time it had cookie batter and grease stains on it. I finally copied it and put the original away.  I estimate Aunt Gertie’s molasses crinkle recipe to be over 90 years old.

I began making them for my new husband and then my children. On occasion, my mother would ask for them and I would make her a batch and put them in the mail.  This simple cookie has been my most requested over the last three and a half decades.  I plan to continue making them for my grandchildren, sharing the story of my Great Aunt Gertie.   My children never met my Aunt but they have a memory of her because of a delicious cookie she baked for me fifty years ago.

My Aunt Gertie has been and will continue to be, fondly remembered for her love, kindness and molasses cookies.

Aunt Gertie’s Molasses Crinklesmolasses-recipe

Bake 375 degrees

Mix together :

  • ¾ c. shortening
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ c. molasses

Then stir in:

  • 2 ¼ c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. cloves
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ¼ tsp. salt

Mix thoroughly, then chill the dough for about an hour.  Roll into balls the size of walnuts.  Dip one side in white sugar and place sugar side up on a greased or parchment covered cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  The cookies should be set but not hard.   Let them cool for a minute or two and then remove to a cooling rack.  After they have cooled – store the cookies in a sealed container – if you have any left.  My Aunt Gertie kept them in an old fashioned Rooster cookie jar on a kitchen shelf.   🙂

rotated-aunt-gertie

 

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Confessions of a Travel Wimp

Family By May 1, 2016 Tags: , , , 25 Comments

I am cringing at the title of this post. I never considered myself a travel wimp but the experience I had over the last weekend has made me reconsider.

I traveled to Las Vegas from New England for a blogger conference (BAM – Bloggers at Midlife).  Las Vegas is on Pacific Time, I am on Eastern Time – which is 3 hours earlier. I didn’t think much of this until I actually had to live it.  Since I am paying for this conference myself, I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on airfare.  The compromise was a reasonable fare with a four hour layover in Denver.  Denver has a beautiful airport, it could have been much worse but still, four hours is a long time.  I chose to take a soft sided carry-on bag (no wheels, I might add) that got heavier and heavier as we explored the airport, looking at the shops and trying to find things to do.  By the time we got on the connecting flight my hand hurt and my palms had red marks from the straps.

We finally landed in Las Vegas, got our rental car and headed to the hotel.  This hotel was beautiful and huge – a resort with golf course and spa facilities.  We managed to park and haul our luggage (I also brought a massive and heavy lap top bag) into the lobby to check in.  That was the easy part. treasure-map2 Once we checked-in the cheery, smiling desk person tells me the room number, hands me the keys and pulls out a map.  I really, honestly thought he was just going to circle the room and point to the elevators behind me but no, this was an actual map of the huge facility.  Then to my horror he started drawing lines to show me the path I had to take, in order to get to the next tower, where my room was located. Lots of long pen marks through multiple building. I looked at him with a blank stare – are you kidding me?  Now, I have to actually travel to my room?! AND, it’s going to take a map to get there!  By this time I was in charge of our entire luggage pile, my daughter-in-law had booked a hair appointment at the spa facility and she was late for it.  So no, he wasn’t kidding as he gleefully handed me the map.  I had been up since 5 am, it was now about 8 pm on the East Coast, I AM TIRED, I am low on coffee and food.  I forced a smile, took the treasure map and drug the luggage the 3 miles to my room.  Geez…now all I want is a nap.

I am an early riser, Las Vegas was made for night owls.  I woke up at 3:00 am PST ready for the day!  Of course, the Starbucks in the hotel won’t open until 6 am and its dark outside.  Oi!  However, I did finally rally and managed the rest of the weekend without any additional drama but then… I had to travel home.

airport-sign2For some reason, that I do not remember,  we decided to take the red-eye home to arrive early on Sunday morning. This overnight flight left at 11:30 pm – there is a reason it is called the ‘red-eye’!  If you do the math, that would be 2:30 in the morning ‘my time’. I am not a good late night person.  I couldn’t sleep very well on the plane, the seats had these monitors in the back of them that glowed all night (nobody was watching them) and then we had to literally run half way across the airport to catch our connecting flight!  We were almost the last ones to get on before they closed the hatch.  We were determined NOT to miss it.   I thought I was going to throw up (probably from sleep deprivation and running a sprint) – luckily I didn’t –that may have delayed us.

Here I am (a few days later) just starting to feel normal again.  However, since my husband and I want to travel more and we also would like to travel with our kids and grandkids, I have to analyze and deal with my issues over the past weekend.

Here are my ideas.  Purchase a reasonable WHEELED carry-on, get a lighter laptop or just don’t bring it and use my smart phone (I will just have to manage the much smaller screen), NEVER, EVER fly a red-eye flight again and always make sure there is a reasonable layover time between flights. Oh…and drink more water.  I got dehydrated because I didn’t want to drink anything on the plane and have to crawl over people to use the bathroom. Sigh…

 

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