Homemade Tomato Sauce–The Gravy!

This was an experiment in my kitchen today. I had an overabundance of tomatoes from my garden (maybe about 16 or so of different varieties). I looked up a few recipes online, and made this one my own. It’s not that hard to make, and tastes way better than starting your marinara from a canned variety.

 

Ingredients

15-16 Garden Tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil

Garlic powder

Fresh Basil

Fresh Parsley

Black pepper

Method

1. Rinse tomatoes. Remove top core and gently draw an x with the knife on the other side of each tomato.

2. Place tomatoes in a pan of water and bring to a boil. Boil for one minute.

3. Remove from stove, and drop tomatoes into a pan of iced water using a slotted spoon. Let cool.

4. Once tomatoes are cool, gently peel the skin from each tomato. Run the tomatoes through a food mill. If you do not have a food mill, squeeze out seeds and place the rest of the tomato into a blender to purée. You can also use a food processor. I prefer a blender because it is much easier to pour the purée into the pot from a blender than a food processor.

5. You are now ready to make the marinara! In a separate pot, warm extra virgin olive oil and garlic.

6. As soon as the garlic starts to brown, add the tomato purée. The garlic should not burn. If you burn it, you need to start over.

7. Add fresh basil, parsley, and ground black pepper to taste.

8. Bring to a boil, and let it simmer on the stove for about 60- 90 minutes.

9. Serve over your favorite pasta, or place in Tupperware containers and freeze for future use.

10. As my grandmother, Mamielle Celona, used to say, “Good luck!”

The Lion Sleeps Tonight. Happy 108th Birthday to Papa Joe.

I wrote this post shortly after my grandfather died in the summer of 2014, and read it at his funeral. It’s been slightly updated, but I am posting this again because today would have been his 108th birthday. Happy Birthday, Papa Joe!

Giuseppe Celona Jr. was born on March 20, 1908. He was married to my grandmother, Lenilda (Lee), for almost 70 years. Together, they had four children, nine grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Papa Joe lived a life that most of us could only dream about. He wasn’t a celebrity. Well, maybe a little bit because he was the oldest living man in Rhode Island and the oldest, active, living Lion’s Club member in the world. He wasn’t educated past middle school, but he was one of the smartest, wisest, well-read, handiest, business-minded people whom I’ve ever met. He would greet us with a “What’s cookin’?” Or we’d greet him with, “Papa Joe, what do you know?” He would always respond, “Not too much. So he was also very unassuming in his day-to-day life.

He was a fantastic gardener. He grew all kinds of vegetables, and grew pumpkins almost every year for his grandchildren. He practiced organic gardening before most people knew what it meant. He loved to talk politics. He listened to his “talk-back” shows on the radio as he called them, and always read the newspaper to keep up. When Alisa, my two children, and I visited with him at the nursing home about a month before his death, when we got there, he was sitting at the nurse’s station with his glasses perched on the end of his nose reading the newspaper. I asked him what he thought about the current administration in the White House. His response was that there was a lot going on behind closed doors that we all don’t know about.

He was the guy who could fix anything with his favorite tools—an oilcan, duck tape, or electrical tape.  I remember his broken tail light on his Oldsmobile that was put back together with such tape. It worked, and it saved him money. He also had his go to fix-it guy and friendship in his pal, Mr. Dorazio, as well as a lifelong friendship with the Renolas.

He was smart with the dollar and practical with his spending, even when it came to gift giving. He made sure that his grandchildren had a new pair of shoes for back-to-school and for Easter every year. We all appreciated this gift, while keeping in mind that “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

He also had many other sayings, some borrowed, some his own, that he would share with all of us. For example, he always said that “marriage is a partnership,” but that “such is life, with or without a wife.” When he couldn’t get his point across, he would sing, “What’s the use, oh what’s the use?” When he was dealing with a stubborn person, he would say “You can lead a horse to the watering trough, but you can’t make him drink.”

He loved a good home cooked meal, and would compliment the cook by saying, “you couldn’t buy that in a restaurant.” He would also to tell you to “chew your food the way a cow chews his cud.” Take your time and enjoy your food. “Come lo cuoci, lo mangi—the way you cook it is the way you eat it.” Take your time cooking and enjoy the process, and take your time enjoying the feast, because “Chi va piano va sano e va lontano. “He who goes slow, goes safe and sound, and goes a long way.” He would also have most of his meals with water because “Water is the best drink in the house.”

Papa Joe had an incredible sweet tooth. He loved Fanny Farmer chocolates and Russell Stover—the Nuts, Chewy, and Crisp Centers—boxes that were hidden throughout the house, and that we would always find. He loved ice cream, especially coffee ice cream. He especially loved to eat it with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and as he served us he sang— “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream, Ra, Ra, Ra.”  We loved eating ice cream with him. But “everything in moderation.”

He believed in working hard because “hard work never killed anybody”. He, along with his two brothers, owned an ice company, cinderblock company, and a Texaco gas station. One time my mother accidentally ripped the gas hose from the gas pump while her car was being filled at his gas station. When Papa Joe saw the mess, he probably said, “It could be worse.” He didn’t stop working until he was in his 70s, and at the end of the day, he would look down at his hands and say, “These hands have done a lot of work, boy I’ll tell ya.”

He believed that “man’s greatest romance was achievement and success.” He would tell us to never give up on anything because “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” If things didn’t go your way, you were told to “keep your chin up, take the bull by the horns,” and finish what you started. He would say, “If a task is once begun, never leave it ‘til it’s done. Be the labor great or small. Do it well or not at all.” That advice was inspiration to us all. Take your time to do things correctly, because we all know that “A stitch in time saves nine.”

We were told to “ask questions.” We were also told that “life is not a path of roses, and there are many thorns along the way.”  However, it “all boils down to common horse sense.”  “Don’t create your own problems” because “if you want to dance, you’ve got to pay the fiddler.” “Experience is the best teacher,” but “the young learn from the old.” A person could only do so much to help you, because at the end of the day, “the rest is up to you.”

Papa Joe was a true gentleman to everyone he met, but he also recognized that “You catch more flies in molasses than you do in vinegar,” and that “One hand washes the other.” He would also say to “live and let live.”

“Life is what you make it.” “Life can be beautiful. It’s how you live it.”

Some of his other lines included, “You can’t beat that,” or “You’ve got something there.” “Anyone could’ve done that,” “Something’s wrong somewhere.” “That’s between you and me and the lamppost.” “See what you’re coming to.”

In his 106 plus years, he’d seen a lot. When he was born, the Model-T Ford was introduced. He was only 6-years-old when World War I began.  He was about 55-years-old when JFK was assassinated. He was 93 when 9/11 hit, and 105-years-old when the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series.  But as he said many a time,  “That’s history.”

 He always said, “The first 100 years are the hardest, and then you coast.” This is evident in that he lived to see his 9th great-grandchild, Gavin, born over three years ago. His eldest, Alec, is now a freshman in college. In 2013, he attended Karen and Sal’s wedding.  They have since had their first baby, so the great grandchildren count is up to 10. We were very lucky to have him in our lives for so long.

Now, “I’ve got to go see a man about a horse.” “Oh, God bless you all” and “don’t take any wooden nickels.”

The Lion Sleeps Tonight. My Memories of Papa Joe

PAPA106

Giuseppe Celona Jr. was born over 106 years ago on March 20, 1908. He was married to my grandmother, Lenilda (Lee) for almost 70 years. Together, they had four children, nine grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. Papa Joe lived a life that most of us could only dream about. He wasn’t a celebrity. Well maybe a little bit because he was the oldest living man in Rhode Island and the oldest active living Lion’s Club member in the world. He wasn’t educated past middle school, but he was one of the smartest, wisest, well-read, handiest, business minded people whom I have ever met. When Alisa or I would walk into his house, he would greet us with a “What’s cookin’?” If we got to the greeting first, it would be Alisa or I saying, “Papa Joe, what do you know?” He would always respond, “Not too much.” So he was also very unassuming in his day-to-day life. He was a fantastic gardener. He grew all kinds of vegetables, and would grow pumpkins almost every year for his grandchildren. He was practicing organic gardening before most people knew what it meant. He loved to talk politics. He would listen to his “talk-back” shows on the radio as he would call them, and always read the newspaper to keep up. When Alisa and I and my two children recently visited with him at the nursing home in early July, when we got there, he was sitting at the nurse’s station with his glasses perched on the end of his nose reading the newspaper. I asked him what he thought about the current administration in the White House. His response was that there was a lot going on behind closed doors that we all don’t know about.

He was the guy who could fix anything, with his favorite fix-its—an oil can, duck tape, or electrical tape. I remember his broken tail light on his Oldsmobile that was put back together with such tape. It worked, and it saved him money. He also had his go to fix-it guy and friendship in his pal, Mr. Dorazio, and a lifelong friendship with the Renolas.

He was smart with the dollar, but he was by no means a cheapskate. He was practical with his spending, even when it came to gift giving. For example, he made sure that his grandchildren had a new pair of shoes for back-to-school and for Easter every year. We all appreciated this gift, while keeping in mind that “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

He also had many other sayings, some borrowed, some his own, that he would share with all of us. I will try to share them with you as I continue to type. He and Mamielle had a great marriage. He always said that “marriage is a partnership,” but that “such is life, with or without a wife.” When he and my grandmother would have an argument that she always seemed to win because he knew when to stop arguing, he would sing, “What’s the use, oh what’s the use?” If I were there, he’d say “Hey, Anita, have you ever heard of the song ‘Oh, what’s the Use?’” Then he would continue to sing. When he was dealing with somebody who wouldn’t quite understand his point of view, or somebody who was stubborn, he would say “You can lead a horse to the watering trough, but you can’t make him drink.”

He loved a good home cooked meal. He would sit quietly at the kitchen table while he would eat the feast that my grandmother would prepare. My grandmother was known for her cooking and baking skills. She could turn out homemade pies and ravioli faster than McDonald’s can make hamburgers. Except her cooking was fantastic, and “you couldn’t buy that in a restaurant.” He would also to tell you to “chew your food the way a cow chews his cud.” Take your time and enjoy your food. I think that’s what he meant when he would say, “Come lo cuoci, lo mangi—the way you cook it is the way you eat it.” Take your time cooking and enjoy the process, and take your time enjoying the feast, because “Chi va piano va sano e va lontano. “He who goes slow, goes safe and sound, and goes a long way.” He would also have most of his meals with water because “Water is the best drink in the house.”

Papa Joe had an incredible sweet tooth. He loved Fanny Farmer chocolates and Russell Stover—the Nuts, Chewy, and Crisp Centers. He would hide boxes of candy throughout the house. I don’t know if he was hiding them from Mamielle or the grandchildren. Nonetheless, we would always find the candy. He loved ice cream, especially coffee ice cream. When Alisa and I were little, he and Mamielle would load us in the back of their Oldsmobile, and take us to Steere’s for ice cream. He would sing the ice cream song—“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream, Ra, Ra, Ra.” On the way home, Alisa and I would lick our cones while chocolate jimmies would fall all over the back seat of the car. We loved going out for ice cream with them. But “everything in moderation.”

He believed in working hard because hard work never killed anybody. He, along with his two brothers, had an ice company, a cinderblock company, and a Texaco Gas Station. When my sister and I were little, we were riding in the car with my mother, Mamielle, and my Auntie Joan. They stopped at the Texaco to get some gas. While the car was being filled with gas, Mamielle and Auntie Joan were having an argument over a mattress. My sister had had enough. She yelled “Go Mommy go!” My mom listened. She went. She hit the gas, and the hose ripped away from the pump and gas spilled everywhere. When Papa Joe saw the mess, he probably said, “It could be worse.” He didn’t stop working until he was in his 70s, something that was a bit unusual in his day. At the end of the day, he would look down at his hands and say, “These hands have done a lot of work, boy I’ll tell ya.” Very true.

Papa Joe believed that “man’s greatest romance was achievement and success.” He would tell us to never give up on anything because “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” If things didn’t go your way, you were told to “keep your chin up, take the bull by the horns,” and finish what you started. He would say, “If a task is once begun, never leave it ‘til it’s done. Be the labor great or small, do it well or not at all.” That last saying always drove me nuts, but it always made me want to try my best and finish the job at hand even when I really wanted to quit. I think Papa’s children and grandchildren would agree with me. Take your time to do things correctly, because we all know that “A stitch in time saves nine.”

We were told to “ask questions.” We were also told that “life is not a path of roses, and there are many thorns along the way.” However, it “all boils down to common horse sense.”Don’t create your own problems” because “if you want to dance, you’ve got to pay the fiddler.” “Experience is the best teacher,” but “the young learn from the old.” A person could only do so much to help you, because at the end of the day, “the rest is up to you.”

Papa Joe was a true gentleman to everyone he met, but he also recognized that “You catch more flies in molasses than you do in vinegar,” and that “One hand washes the other.” He would also say to “live and let live.”

“Life is what you make it.” “Life can be beautiful. It’s how you live it.”

If one of us told him something that impressed him, he would say, “You can’t beat that,” or “You’ve got something there.” If he was less than impressed, it was “Anyone could’ve done that,” or if something didn’t make sense, it was “Something’s wrong somewhere.” If it was something he was telling you in confidence, “That’s between you and me and the lamppost.” If it was something he saw in your future, “See what you’re coming to.”

In his 106 plus years, he’d seen a lot. When he was born, the Model-T Ford was introduced. He was only 6-years-old when World War I began. He was about 55-years-old when JFK was assassinated. He was 93 when 9/11 hit, and 105-years-old when the Red Sox won their last World Series. But as he said many a time, “That’s history.”

We were very lucky to have Papa Joe in our lives for so long. Every year that passed, especially in the later years, we were especially thankful. He lived to see his 9th great-grandchild, Gavin born almost two years ago. His eldest just turned 17 this past May. Last year, we were lucky enough to have him attend Karen and Sal’s wedding. Somebody had passed out during the ceremony. At first I thought it was Papa. Instead, it was a 20-something year old bridesmaid who was dehydrated. Maybe that’s because “The first 100 years are the hardest, and then you coast.”

Now, “I’ve got to go see a man about a horse.” “Oh, God bless you all” and “don’t take any wooden nickels.”

 

 

My Review of the Loews Miami Beach

It’s that time of year again when people are making travel plans to someplace warm—either for the holiday break or for February vacation. Last February, my family decided to escape the cold weather and head down to Miami, Florida for five nights. We stayed at the Loews Miami Beach and we were very happy with our stay. Yes, it was pricey, but if you are looking for value based on getting a good monetary deal, then the Loews isn’t for you. If your definition of value is based on having amenities at your disposal, then maybe it is. I posted a review on TripAdvisor shortly after we got back. Below is that review, and I hope it helps readers to decide whether or not this would be a great vacation spot:

“Excellent Stay, but Prepare to Pay”

We just got back from our trip to the Loews Miami Beach yesterday. We were there from 2/18-2/23. Overall, I have to say that our stay at the Loews was excellent. The location of the hotel itself, in the heart of South Beach and steps away from all of the shopping and restaurants can’t be topped. The hotel is also located right on the beach, which makes it very easy for guests to go back and forth between the beach and the pool. There is a boardwalk (fairly wide brick walk) in between the pool and beach so that you can rollerblade, walk, or bike safely. All of the employees went out of their way to make sure that we were comfortable and had everything we needed

For example, during our last night there, we stopped at the hotel ice cream shop. My son wanted ice cream, but my daughter only wanted lemonade. One of the workers taking care of us said that they didn’t carry lemonade, but they had it at the bar and he would be right back. He came back right away with the lemonade and my daughter was very happy. We could have easily gone to the bar ourselves, but their entire point is to make their guests have as nice of a time as possible without the guests having to do much of anything.

The food was pretty good (we only ate lunch and dinner there), and there was enough of a variety on the menu so that there was something that pleased everybody. The menu is available by the pool and at the beach until 5:30 p.m. every day and the staff will take your order and bring your food right to you. That was a nice touch. However, the food was expensive, but you are paying for the setting and the experience of being able to eat by the water. There were also ample sand toys (pails, shovels, etc.) right on the beach so kids could grab what they needed and have plenty of fun building sand castles.

Other nice touches that you would expect, but were great and made you feel like you were on a vacation—somebody was always there to open the door to the hotel lobby when you approached. We asked for extra towels one night and we got them, and the housekeeper who took care of us remembered we liked that. She had them for us for the rest of our stay without us having to ask again. A copy of the New York Times was waiting outside our door every morning and the Miami Herald was available in the lobby and by the pool. Every day, a Loews counselor would run children’s games by the pool. The pool chairs and beach chairs all have cushions that the staff members cover with a terry cloth covering when you claim your chair.

Overall, the hotel is a very upscale, kid friendly, and pet friendly resort. Between the kids games, menu, and dog path, it is a great place to stay and I would probably stay there again. However, you must be prepared to pay to stay. The room rates were pricey at about $650 per night for two double beds in a small room. However, the bathroom was a good size. The shower was a basic tub shower set up, but it was fine. You are certainly paying for the location.

The hotel does not offer free WI-FI in the rooms. It is only free in the lobby and in the pool area, and it was spotty at best. We refused to pay for the WI-FI in the room as it cost about $43 for three days, for up to three devices. They charged $10 per visit to use the fitness center. It should be a given that use of the fitness center is no charge. They had a spa, but I didn’t even bother checking into any services because I was afraid of the prices.

It was $37 per night to valet park the car. You must valet because the self-parking was not great. There was very limited on-street parking, and you are definitely safer leaving it to the valets to handle (you’re definitely not dealing with the parking attendants from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off so you can rest easy). Really, if you are going from the airport to the hotel and staying there, I would advise against renting a car because everything is within walking distance.

Beach chairs, umbrellas, cabanas, and beds cost money on the beach. There was an option to rent one queen size beach bed, cabana, unlimited umbrellas and beach chairs for $100. To rent the items à la Carte was $10/chair, $15/umbrella, and $20 per cabana. The prices also change depending on the travel season, so it could cost more if you are going during Christmas break. I thought it was hilarious at one point when two twentysomething women flirted with one of the employees while hanging on the beach and scored a free umbrella. He brought it to them without them even asking.

Another warning is that you must claim your pool chair early. If you get there by nine o’clock in the morning, it is almost too late. Yesterday we got there by eight o’clock and the best spots were already taken. Do not try to get there at ten o’clock and expect to have your pick. You can claim your chair, leave to have a quick breakfast, and come back. If you don’t come back within a one-hour’s timeframe, they will put a warning sign on your chair, and if you still don’t return, they will give it away. That is only fair.

There is no charge for the pool chairs, but, of course, you should tip the person setting you up with your towels and cushion covers. Yesterday, we claimed our chairs and walked down the street to grab a takeout breakfast to eat by the pool. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but if you walk out of the hotel, go right, and it is less than a block on your right next door to a pizza place. The people who work there are extremely nice and they have a nice variety of food at reasonable prices.

The bottom line is that we had a wonderful time here. It was relaxing even with the Wine and Food Festival getting underway on the day we left. If you can get past some of the ridiculous charges and recognize that you have to open your wallet, then you will have a good time.

I didn’t give the hotel a very good value because it was extremely pricey, but it is what the market will bear. If you are looking for value for your money, then you shouldn’t stay at the Loews Miami Beach. If you are looking for value for the experience, then you should go.  One last tip: If you have more than four people in a room you should definitely get a suite or adjoining rooms.

Dog Training

Just about every morning I take my dog out to the woods so that she can meet up with her other doggie pals and run free off her leash. Usually it’s a bunch of stay-at-home moms and dads who bring their dogs to the woods and while the dogs socialize, the adult humans do too. There is this one guy who brings his dog to the woods (off-leash before he even gets there—there is a leash law in my town and if the dog ran from him she could get hit by a car or disappear altogether. A different story in itself).

Anyway, this guy does good things such as cutting and moving tree limbs that have fallen during storms in order to clear the walking paths. He also tries to look out for other people’s dogs, such as during the morning he spotted me standing still in the woods holding my leash when he walked by. He asked if I had misplaced my dog because he couldn’t see her. I replied that she was taking care of her business and I was just giving her some privacy. My friends and I joke that he is always trying to sniff out doggy danger and I have nicknamed him Captain Skip for that very reason. For Halloween, I envisioned him dressing up as Captain Skip complete with a blue cape, dog collar, and large dog bone on his chest. But alas, there was no trick-or-treating in this town because of the big snowstorm; so seeing him decked out in uniform will have to wait until maybe next year.

However, there is one disturbing aspect about Captain Skip’s discipline methods that really bother me. Not only will he discipline his own dog by BITING her on her ear (yes, I wrote BITING), but he will go ahead and bite the ears of other people’s dogs if he sees they are not behaving. One day he did this to one of the dogs that runs in our group. The dog didn’t listen to her owner’s command, so he bit her on the ear because she needed to show her dog who’s boss.

I didn’t witness that incident but I did find it very disturbing. Why would you discipline another person’s dog when not even asked? That’s like disciplining another person’s child without asking! You just don’t do it! I didn’t think much about it, until I was in the woods again the other day and spotted him and another neighbor walking their dogs. He called the neighbor’s dog over and she didn’t come. He called a couple of times and when she finally came over to him he sat her down, grabbed her by the collar, and BIT HER EAR!!!!!!!!!

I was a bit stunned at that scene. My mama bear instinct said that if he ever did that to my dog, I would hurt him. However, as I stood there stunned and seething, I decided I needed to do some research on this method of discipline so that I would be prepared if he ever tried anything with my dog.

My dog was trained by a professional dog trainer. Before the training began, the trainer explained to me that there were basically two types of training—reward dog training and aversive dog training. The reward dog training works by finding something your dog likes such as a favorite treat or a toy and rewarding your dog’s wanted behavior with that something, or discouraging the unwanted behavior by taking away that something. Sometimes trainers will use a clicker so that the dog will associate the clicking sound with the reward.

On the other hand, aversive dog training works by applying an unpleasant stimulus such as a muzzle or a choke collar, kicking the dog, or my favorite (note the sarcasm please), the alpha roll where the owner forces a dog on its back to prevent aggressive behavior. Some other methods of aversive training include staring down the dog and actually growling at the dog.

My trainer used the reward dog training method, which I knew before he even stepped foot in my house or else he would have been gone at the word ‘hello.’ Those who use the reward-based training may not see results immediately but in the long run, one will end up with a happy and emotionally healthy dog. On the other hand, studies have shown that dogs who are trained using the aversive method may respond to commands more quickly, but over time will develop a fear of the owner, behave more aggressively, and have more anxieties.

In addition, over time the dog may not respond to the aversive training because he or she will have become used to being kicked or growled at. My former neighbor used a muzzle on her dog to get her to stop biting (she was a puppy and she was only nipping), and over time the dog became very aggressive and they ended up getting rid of her because they couldn’t control her. Finally, I asked my vet about punishing a dog by biting his ear. She basically said that it sounded a bit crazy. I couldn’t agree with her more. So as the Griswold kids said in the movie Vacation “WEIRDORAMA!!!!!!!!”

Run, Carry Injured Opponent, Run Some More

In the sport of cross-country, it is a battle of endurance. The one with the most stamina and the strongest lungs will prevail. I am not a runner. It actually makes me miserable when I am even trying to go 10 feet let alone a mile. Put me on a bike instead and I can ride all day. I respect those warriors who go out there every day like my husband and can achieve that so-called runner’s high.

That’s why when I saw the article about high school cross-country runner Josh Ripley, I had to post an entry about him. Apparently, during his meet, he rescued an injured runner from another team ½ mile into his race and carried him back to the start so his coaches could tend to him. Josh and apparently some of the other runners heard a loud scream which came from the voice of Mark Paulauskas, a runner from the other team. The other runners kept on trucking, but holy Ripley’s Believe it or Not (sorry) it was Josh Ripley who came to the rescue.

Mark’s ankle was completely bloodied up and it was later discovered that he accidentally caught the spikes of another runner. He ended up needing 20 stitches and a walking boot to keep the wound closed and secure.

After Josh dropped off his opponent, he did not skip a beat. Instead he turned right back around and ran and finished his two-mile race. Josh really didn’t think he did anything out of the ordinary. However, he will be honored at a school board meeting being held next week. Those who covered the story as well as others call it a true act of sportsmanship. I call it a true act of being a compassionate person who looked out for somebody in his hour of need.

Parking KARMA, Supermodels, and Speeding Tickets!

So, yesterday one of my friends posted on his Facebook page that he was having really good parking KARMA in Boston. He is working in a marketing position so I imagine that he is on the road quite a bit, so to get a really good parking space once is good. Twice and more than that, he definitely has REALLY good parking KARMA. Maybe part of the reason why is because he is not driving a really HUGE SUV, which is interesting considering he is about 6’4”.

I definitely believe in KARMA. What goes around comes around. Like if you drop your gum on the street, and somebody steps in it, you will be stepping in dog poop some time in the very near future. If you have a dog, and don’t pick your dog’s poop, then you will be stepping in cow manure some time in the near future. It can go on and on. What goes around comes around.

Except, I think if you are a supermodel! Then, KARMA doesn’t count, and what goes around comes around doesn’t count either. If you are a supermodel, then you can get away with things that non-supermodels can’t. You can drive a HUGE SUV and get away with things, like speeding. Take for example, Gisele Bundchen. This past Saturday she was speeding around Barnstable, MA in her HUGE Cadillac SUV going about 70 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone, and she had two kiddos in the back seat.

Well, supermodel Gisele AND wife to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got off with a verbal warning. The trooper claims he did not give Mrs. Brady any kind of special treatment. He also claims that four other drivers were given verbal warnings during the same afternoon. There were also 20 others who did get tickets, but they were committing other violations besides speeding. What were they doing? We will never know. However, was it just the supermodel looks of Gisele that got her off, or was it the fact that she is Brady’s wife and the speeding took place in New England? Maybe it was a combination of the two.

Either way, she got away with it. I was caught speeding a few years ago going 45 mph in a 35 mph zone. I got a ticket. I didn’t get a nice verbal warning. Then again, I am not a supermodel and I am not married to Brady.

The Power of Prayer

This is a prayer that I came across when reading my local newspaper. It is a really good one.

PRAYER TO THE BLESSED VIRGIN
(NEVER KNOWN TO FAIL)

O beautiful flower Mt.Carmel fruitful vine, splender of Heaven, Blessed Mother of the Son of God, Immaculate Virgin,assist me in my necessity.
O Star of the Sea, help me and show me that you are my mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God Queen of the Heaven and Earth, I humbly beseech you from the bottom of my heart (State your request here).  There are none that can withstand your power, “Oh Mary,conceived without sin pray for us who have recourse to you” ” say three times” Holy Mary, I place this prayer in your hands.
{say 3 times} { say 3 days then publish it}

Apple – Are They Bad to the Core???

This is a true experience that I have had with my lovely iPhone. It is ready for the landfill after only owning it for about a year and a half. I wrote the following to Apple, but I am VERY disgusted that they are not giving me any real options for my iPhone so I thought I would post this on my blog so that the word might get out about how they don’t care about customer loyalty.

I purchased my iPhone 3GS 32 GB in August of 2009. Since mid-February I have had MANY problems with the iPhone shutting down for no good reason. If I try to power it up, it will give me the near-dead batter signal. This is true even when the iPhone had been fully charged prior to using. The phone is also becoming too hot to the touch. I finally took it to the Genius bar this past Friday where they told me it is dying a slow death and that my only option to even attempt to fix it would be to pay $200. Otherwise I could wait a month when I am eligible for an upgrade and pay another $200-$300 for a new iPhone. I recognize that my iPhone is 217 days out of warranty. However, I find the way I am being treated as a loyal Apple customer to be completely unacceptable. Over the past 11 months we have purchased two iPod Touches, one top of the line iMac, and one Macbook Pro. We are even looking at purchasing another Macbook Pro for our house. However, I really and truly feel that Apple is NOT standing behind its product. The customer service person I just talked to gave me the comparison about Sony or any other company basically saying tough luck, that if it is out of warranty, it’s the consumer’s problem. I find this kind of attitude to be very poor and it will certainly erode consumer confidence in your brand in the long run. I don’t think all companies have that attitude. If they did, they would be out of business. I am absolutely disgusted that my iPhone after only owning it for such a short period of time is ready for the landfill. Shame on Apple for providing me with a lemon and for also providing no real solution to my problem!!

Our Christmas Letter

All of this is true. Really. Can you imagine that somebody would actually think that a zeppole is a person?????

Last year, our letter ended with our family not having any idea which state or country we would be living in knowing that Mike’s job was ending effective this past June. Luckily, after several interviews and flights, Mike ultimately landed a job in CT.  Mike’s job began in July of this year and in August we left Louisville, our home of six years to move to our new house in Longmeadow, MA. While en route to our new home, we had to spend three glorious days and two nights in a corporate apartment in Downtown Hartford. Because of everything going on with the move, that was our family vacation for the year. We will be paying dearly for that one as we will be forced to go to the dark side and visit Disney World, the so-called happiest place on Earth.

Anyway, it looks like we got back in the nick of time, because otherwise we would have had to worry about people touching our junk when going through airport security. Somebody said to just walk through the line in a string bikini. That’ll teach ‘em. We do miss some aspects of being in Louisville, but it is very nice to live in a place where people know that Luccese is not pronounced Lou Casey and that a Zeppole is actually a special Italian pastry for St. Joseph’s Day and not a person. However, one of the nicest parts about living here in Longmeadow is that we don’t have to endure a 50 minute roundtrip car ride so that the kids can get a decent education. We live less than one mile from their new school called Blueberry Hill (Yes, that’s really its name.) and they either walk or ride their bikes back and forth to school.  Now that it’s getting colder, I had to put my chauffeur’s hat back on and do the drive. But at least it only takes about five minutes. However, Mike is always quick to remind the kids that he endured walking miles to school in blizzard like conditions with only a newspaper tucked into his shirt to block the freezing cold wind. Whatever.

The neighborhood here is pretty cool and welcoming to newcomers. There are so many kids who are always playing outside, and the neighbors actually talk to you. They also make a big deal about Halloween here where you end up having to get 10 bags of candy because there are so many kids. Our kids ended up splitting off with their buddies and parents to trick-or-treat, and I was going to walk with Katharine and her group. I lost track of them somehow and there were so many people that I never caught up with them. Mike and the hapless mom that ended up schlepping Katharine around didn’t think I was trying very hard because they found out that I stopped at a neighbor’s house for a drink and stayed for over an hour. Oh, well. The neighborhood also has a very interesting book club, and last month the author of one of the books we reviewed called in and talked to us for 45 minutes! It was terrific! Spumoni has also adjusted here and has made new friends with Ruby and Lucy.  She also loves the park near our house where Mike lets her roam free and she always takes off. Will he ever learn? Mike, that is.

Aside from settling into a new neighborhood and finding a new school for the kids, we had to find a new swim team and a new piano teacher. For swimming, instead of swimming for the Tritons of Louisville, Andrew and Katharine are swimming for the Typhoons of Longmeadow and they are having a blast. I really didn’t know that we got Typhoons here. Hmm. Anyway, as far as piano goes, their new teacher is excellent, but pretty strict. Yeva’s from Russia and she doesn’t understand why a Friday night lesson that gets out at 7:30 is NOT an okay thing. She also makes the kids memorize their recital pieces or they can’t perform. Andrew told her that we were Jewish so that he could get out of playing in the Christmas recital. It didn’t work and they are both getting ready for the big day.

Meanwhile, now that we are finally settled in here and Hannah Montana is coming to an end, we hope to catch up with our New England pals and holiday activities such as putting together the gingerbread houses that we bought three years ago. We don’t think Spumoni will try to eat them. But then again, she has a rap sheet a mile long which includes cinnamon buns and entire cakes so we better watch out.

Now, remember everybody once you finish reading this precious document take special care to shred it in its entirety. We do not want to find it on WikiLeaks!

Merry Christmas!