Thursday, December 16, 2010

My Favorite Holiday Hor'devours ~ Adding Pizzazz!

Crudites Christmas Tree

1 cone shaped Styrofoam form (Walmart Craft Section)
Syran type plastic wrap

Endive, radish, carrot slices or baby Belgium carrots, cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, broccoli, & cauliflower heads, cheese cubes, baloney slices, what ever you want to add to the tree for crudites.
Tooth picks, the decorative kind look better. Once I found those with curly foil ends...very colorful and glitzy.
Cover cone with plastic wrap, then endive securing with tooth picks. Add cut veggies, cheeses, baloney as though you are decorating a tree securing with tooth picks.

Hollow out pepper, squash, for dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

One container of sour cream
1pkt. of Good Seasons Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
1/2 teaspoon of sugar (optional)

Mix well. pour into pepper, etc. place on tray next to tree.

I have also stepped up this idea by using a topiary form from the Walmart Craft Dept. This gives a Victorian look to a party. I have used this for weddings.

My Sister Ruth Ann's Stuffed Mushrooms
2 cups Italian Bread Crumbs
16 large mushrooms (about 1 lb.)
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
teasp. crushed garlic
1 green pepper, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1/2 sweet onion
1 stick butter or margarine, melted
Soul Seasoning or Seasoned Salt and pepper to taste

PREHEAT broiler.
Remove stems from mushrooms; chop stems. Saute mushroom caps lightly in butter, remove then saute and stir mushroom stems, peppers and onion to skillet; cook and stir until tender. Add bread crumbs, spices, (salt and pepper to taste). Spoon into mushroom caps; drizzle with 2 Tbsp. melted butter.
BROIL 5 to 7 inches from heat 5 min. or until heated through.

Kiffel Dough Hor Devours

I have another hor-devours for those who love liverwurst. I make the kiffel dough using cream cheese, butter, and flour, roll it out cut into squares, diamonds, little circles- bake and cool. Mix cream cheese with a tube of liverwurst and you and add some grated sweet onion if you like. Put liverwurst mixture into a decorator bag or sandwich bag and pipe onto the cooled kiffel dough. Top with fresh parsley sprig or green olive slice, pimento.

Kiffel Dough4 c. flour "You may need more if dough seems too wet."

1 lb. butter

1 lb. cream cheese

Mix well. Divide into about 4 large round balls. Refrigerate overnight; however, if there is not enough time to refrigerate overnight, the dough may be worked immediately after mixing.

Cups of Spinach Dip

I also have taken this dough and made circles like you do for nut cups, press them into the nut cup pans, and bake. Make the cream cheese and spinach dip and fill each cup.

Cream Cheese Dip

2 packages of cream cheese, add 2 tablespoons of milk, beat until smooth, add one very well drained, deforsted package of chopped spinach, 1/2 cup of grated sweet onion. Add a pinch of soul seasoning or seasoned salt, pinch of pepper, pinch of sugar(optional)

The Spinach Dip can also be added to hollow out crusty bread. Cut up more crusty bread for dipping.

Seafood/Cheddar FondueSaute Lobster, Shrimp, Scallops, Clams, Mussels in one stick of butter, add 1 pint of heavy cream on low heat constantly stirring, add one cup cheddar cheese or Velveeta, constantly stirring until cheese is thoroughly melted and blended. You can also add sauteed pimento, peppers, onion,or celery. Remove from heat pour into a toasted, hollowed out loaf of crusty bread, cut up more crusty bread for dipping. Garnish with parsley.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Memories Of Christmas

My memories of visits with Great Aunt Ree and Uncle Bill on Christmas are filled with the images of a Norman Rockwell painting. A trip to their farm on the mountain just above Martins Creek, PA was just like riding through a Currier and Ives Christmas Card. Traveling along the Delaware River, and then crisscrossing Martins Creek, while driving down Creek Road, and up Rasely Hill Road through the small secluded wooded valley blanketed with fluffy white snow was a wondrous sight on Christmas Day.

Upon arrival we were greeted by the smell of the wood burning stove in the big room, combined with the scent of a roasting turkey and a freshly cut cedar tree decorated with antique German family heirloom blown glass ornaments.

The laughing eyes, and the sparkling gold tooth in the welcoming smile of Great Uncle Bill met us at the side porch door. He was wearing a red and black plaid flannel shirt, and overalls held up with a pair of suspenders. Right behind him was Great Aunt Ree whose soft round features, azure blue eyes, and silky silver hair completely defined her as the perfect grandmother image.

Great Aunt Ree and Uncle Bill were our God parents, and she took her responsibility seriously, and preached a sermon at each visit. She was devoted to her faith, and loved to quote the Bible. The true meaning of Christmas was defined by her deep love for Christ, and shared with all who came into her home.

They always seemed to be delighted to see us, and made us feel so special to be there in their warm cozy farmhouse. It was the most perfect setting for a family to gather on Christmas Day. When I first saw The Waltons on television I experienced an immediate connection to their extended family Christmas gathering.

Each year Uncle Bill would cut down a fresh cedar tree from their farm. Each of the ornaments were very old and passed down through generations of the Eck/Hinkle family. On the top was an angel with a composition face. Underneath the tree in the putz was a family of bears, a fuzzy Santa in a sleigh, and another Santa standing there with his pack on his back. I so loved standing near their tree and staring at them. I still love looking at antique decorations.

We always knew what our gift from them would be before we even opened it. Aunt Ree always bought us flannel night gowns from Woolworth's. We made a fuss, and thanked them for such a great gift that would keep us warm on cold winter nights.

Our entire family sat down to dinner around a large pink table, surrounded by pink chairs. After we finished eating everyone sat around the same table and talked. I can remember the lighting to be dim, and the room was toasty warm from the wood burning stove. The feeling of love and acceptance permeated the atmosphere of that quaint, comfortable room of that pleasantly peaceful farmhouse.

Soon, Dad would announce that it was time to start our journey back to Phillipsburg, NJ. We gathered all our things together and kissed them good-bye. During the winter months they always stood at the side porch door waving good-bye. I have this vivid image of their wonderfully loving faces, while they stood there in the doorway.

I praise God that I have these memories, I have inherited the bear family, Santas, and few of the blown glass ornaments. When I place them out for the Christmas season, they are a tangible connection to those wonderful memories.

If I could have one Christmas wish come true, it would be to have all those same participants gather in that same big room for one more wonderful Christmas together.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Wonderful Man

Please watch the following videos to learn why I so love this marvelously talented, kindest man I have ever had the privilege of calling my friend. I am so happy that both of my daughters and my granddaughter Emily had gotten to meet him. Gee, Jamiann even got a hug and a kiss. My sister Ruth Ann was the person who turned me onto his work. She also paid for many of my concert tickets over the years. She finally got to meet him and be hugged by him at BB Kings in NYC. Then again on April 30, 2003, Ruth Ann and I were given box seats at Rod's 30th Anniversary of his 40th Birthday at Carnegie Hall. We sat with the Producer of the show Chuck Ashman, and some representatives from Hewlett Packard who were promoting his Seasoned Citizens tour. Afterward we attended a birthday party for Rod at Shelley's a restaurant near Carnegie Hall. There was a fantastic array of elegant desserts, drinks of any kind, and champagne. We had a wonderful time.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Repost: Bud's Snack Bar Cheese Steak

During the Spring of 1958 my father and his brother Dick, built a small building on the South West corner of Rt. 519 and Rt. 22, next to Bud Burgstresser's Sunoco Gas Station. Presently it would be situated a little toward Rt. 22 next to the abandoned former bank in the Walmart Strip Mall. Back then the area of the strip mall was a cornfield the stretched from Rt. 519 toward New Brunswick Avenue also known as Alternate Route 22. This area was known as Straw Church Circle before they turned the circle into a cross roads, adding traffic lights.

The building was almost square, with a slanted roof, and we called it the "Cup", but the sign on top read Bud's Snack Bar. My parent's signature sandwich was their steak sandwich, and what made them so good was her original sauce recipe. Dad had an Auto Detailer paint in cursive Bud's Snack Bar, and words like French Fries, Hamburgers, Milk Shakes, and Steaks on the sides of his 1959 green Ford pick-up truck.

Their steak sandwiches were the most popular item on the menu. Our french fries were always made with fresh potatoes, no frozen there. The hot dogs were made as Toby's Cup make them, deep fried in oil. The menu also included hamburger bar-b-que, also known as Sloppy Joes, and hamburgers. We sold ice cream, soda, floats, milk shakes, sundaes, pretzels, chips, Tasty Cakes, and candy. Dad also sold produce, such as potatoes, watermelons, and apples on the grassy area between the parking area and the corner.

We had lots of loyal customers and most of our friends loved to tag along when we worked the counter. During the interim slow periods we would sit on over turned apple baskets or milk crates, and play a game of trying to toss rocks in a basket, and trying to get passing truckers to blow their air horns with our motions of pulling on a horn/s chain using our arms. We would listen to songs on the radio like, Running Bear, Purple People Eater, and I Will Follow Him, and of course we sang along at the top of our lungs.

In 1963, my parents opened another business on the corner of Rt. 519/Third Avenue and East Central Avenue in Alpha, known as the Alpha Luncheonette. For three years they had kept both businesses running, closing the "Cup" in 1966, and selling the structure. It was a bitter sweet moment, as we no longer wanted to be tied to trying to keep two businesses going as a family, yet we would miss that quaint little "Cup" and all the memories it held.

Bud's Snack Bar Cheese Steak Sandwich

2 lbs. Chipped Steak Meat (Mom got hers from the meat counter at the former Central Super Market) We have gotten ours from the Marlin Meat Market near Pottsville, PA, and in most supermarkets you can find Landis in the freezer section.

2 Sweet Onions (Mom used Bermuda onions, I like to use Vidalia) Chopped/Diced

2 Green Bell Peppers Chopped/Diced

12 oz. can of tomato sauce (Mom used Hunts)

1 cup of ketchup (Mom used Heinz)

2 tablespoons of A-1 Steak Sauce

1 level tablespoon of sugar

1 lb. of fresh sliced white American cheese from a Deli

6 fresh six inch steak or sub rolls
(Mom got them from the former N.Y. Italian Bakery in Phillipsburg) I would suggest if you do not have a bakery, try the bakery section of the supermarket, the ones in the plastic bins, not in the plastic bag.

In a sauce pan, saute the chopped onions in the oil of your preference, (Mom used vegetable oil). Remove from pan and put aside. Add the chopped peppers to the pan and saute them, adding 1/3 of the sauteed onions to the peppers, add sauce, ketchup, sugar, and A1 sauce, and stir occasionally for 20-30 minutes over low heat in covered sauce pan.

In a large saute pan saute the chipped steak, breaking it apart using two forks pulling in opposite directions (if using a Teflon pan, break up frozen chip steak using fingers into small pieces as you add it to the pan). Add the remainder of the sauteed onions to the steak, and stir through. Steak cooks quickly over medium heat about seven minutes. Add cheese and cover until cheese is melted. About three quarters of the way through cooking the steak, add sliced rolls to a 350 degree pre-heated oven to toast them.

Add steak to the roll, and top with sauce. If you prefer a steak without cheese leave the cheese off a portion of cooked meat or all of it. If you want it to be a hot steak add hot peppers that are found in the condiment section of most supermarkets.

If you choose to not make your own steaks and want to eat one that compares, and live in a 30 mile radius of Phillipsburg, NJ Crossroads Restaurant in Hellertown, PA just off the exit of Rt. 78, make a left and it is just down the road a few blocks. The next best steak is from Joe's Steak Shop on S. Main Street in Phillipsburg.

Loved this movie...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

In Memory of My Brother Buddy

My brother Buddy was the oldest of my parent's five Children. He was ten years older than me. When Irene and I were little, as in the photo to the left, Buddy had two pair of boxing gloves. Yes, you guessed it, he put a pair on Irene and then a pair on me, had us stand each in a corner of our parent's bed, set the alarm clock to ring, and taught us to come out swinging. He was always teasing us, and trying to get us to kill each other or at least create some havoc.

Once he held Irene down on the floor and had me tickle her until she cried, and then let her loose. Well, I ran out through one door, and back in another and locked her out of the house, then Mom arrived home just in the nick of time to save my life.

I think he enjoyed teasing us girls so much because each time my mother was pregnant he hoped for a boy, and mom had a girl. She didn't have another boy until a month after Buddy had a son of his own. During the Christmas season when Irene was born on December 1, 1948, Buddy wished for an Lyonel American Flyer Train Set. After Mom explained to him that because of his new baby sister that they couldn't afford a train that year, he promptly replied, "Return the baby, I want a train!"

Buddy didn't stop with teasing us, he teased Mom too. He would walk into the house with a story that went like this"MOM...Oh my goodness, did you hear, there are dead bodies all over the place up the hill????" Mom would reply in utter dismay, "Oh my God, no what happened???" And then Buddy would reply while chuckling , " You know up there in the cemetery at the top of the hill!"

On another occasion he walked into the house huffing,and puffing, devastatingly declaring that there was a really messy accident on the corner of Vulcanite and Third. When Mom did her usual, "Oh my God what happened?"(you would think she would have figured him out by then, but she didn't) He replied, "A Mustang ran into a Thunderbird, and there is horse shit and feathers all over the road!" Then there was the time he told all of us about the time he was sitting at the gas station in Union Square in Phillipsburg getting gas, when a dog walked into the station and started licking up a puddle of gas on the pavement. The dog started running around in circles and then dropped over. Mom in her usual dismayed reply asked if the dog died, and Buddy replied, "No, he ran out of gas!"

He didn't stop with mom either, he played pranks on dad too. Once he put shaving cream in dad's hand while he fell asleep in the chair, and then tickled his nose. Well, Buddy ended up on the receiving end that time, as Dad swung his arm outward and hit Buddy in the mouth and knocked his tooth loose.

Buddy's stories never ended, he always had a funny story to tell, whether it was about his escapades at work in Ingersoll Rand's Drill Floor, or a story about one of his crazy friends. There were stories about bowling on the Drill Floor, playing poker on the Drill Floor, and playing pranks on the Drill Floor. It is amazing that he lasted 41 years working for I.R., but he was also a dedicated and proficient tool and die maker, a skill he learned from our dad.

There were stories of Brad Hall and Sterling Clymer, and the pranks they played on neighbors, and daring feats they pulled off around the neighborhood in Phillipsburg when he they were teens.

Buddy set up pins in the basement bowling alley of the Elks Club on S. Main Street in Phillipsburg, and along with his buddies he also stole clams from the steamers on the stoves in the kitchen of the Elks, right through the open window. Some of his stories reminded me of the Bowery Boys from the old time black and white television movies.

Once he shaved our neighbor Mike Mowery's head bald, and blackened it with shoe polish when he fell asleep in our living room chair. Mike awoke, stumbled out the door, to his house next door and climbed into bed with his wife Joyce. She awoke screaming, as she thought another neighbor Tony Kerr, a Russian Immigrant had crawled into bed with her.

There was another story of when He, Sterl, and Brad went to the Jersey Shore with limited funds. After they had started to feel hungry, Brad the leader of the schemes, came up with a good one, and told Buddy and Sterl to play along. They walked up to the front of one of those Pizza Parlors that had pizza sitting out in the open on the counter. Brad asks for the owner or manager, and then proceeds to tell him that he was with the Board of Health and that he was training two new employees, and that having the pizza sitting out in the open was a violation and that he would allow it to slide by this time, but that the restaurant needed to cover it in the future. He then proceeded to say that the pizza smelled delicious, and the owner invited them in for some free pizza.

As a teen he like the rest of us went roller skating at the Villa Roller Rink in Broadway, NJ. It was there when Buddy was 16, that he met a very pretty 15 yr. old young lady named Joan Kline. They started dating, were married in 1961, and had three sons together. They had been married for 43 years at the time of his passing.

He was a loving, and dedicated father, coaching his son's football, and wrestling teams. He taught his sons to hunt and fish. They had gone on many amazing hunting and fishing trips together. When I was the Brown Leader in Alpha, and met my assistant's husband for the first time, he told me that he could remember one Christmas Eve he saw my brother Buddy walking past his home on High Street carrying a bicycle on each shoulder during a blizzard. Buddy had purchased bikes for Buddy Jr. and Craig at Laneco, and took them to our parent's home on Seventh Avenue to assemble them. When the snowstorm became a blizzard on Christmas Eve he couldn't make it by car from his apartment on High Street so he walked about a mile to our parent's home to get those bikes to put under their tree for the boys surprise on Christmas morning.

Buddy was always ready to lend a helping hand, and helped me out many times in my life. He and my sisters helped make my girls holidays special giving them gifts that I could not afford while raising them alone after my divorce. When I remarried in 1993 Buddy gave me away, since my dad had passed in 1985. At his funeral many of his friends commented with tears in their eyes on how special a person my brother was to them.

Buddy was much like our dad, and was creative and industrious. He helped dad with his contraptions like the merry go round and roofing paper pool in our backyard. He also helped build his beautiful Cape Cod home in Alpha, along with his father-in-law, brother-in-law who were builders by trade, and his sons, and anyone willing to lend a helping hand. He bought bricks that were salvaged from Sitgreaves, the elementary school he attended as a child to use in the facade, and fireplace of his home.

Buddy was deep sea fishing with his friends the last few days of his life, and on June 10th shortly after a wonderful dinner of crab, and clams with his family he began to have chest pains. He took a shower, and his son Craig ran him to the emergency room of Warren Hospital. He walked in on his own. His son parked the car. While he was parking the car he had his first heart attack. The doctors revived him. My nephew stood over him, and Buddy told him that he was shocked as the heart surgeon who recently tested his heart gave him a clean bill of health. No sooner than he got those words out, just like that the big one came and they couldn't revive him.

On June 10, 2004, I had just driven the 67 mile commute from work to my house in Hamburg, PA. and changed my cloths, and was lying down when the call came. It was my brother-in-law Tom, who said, "We just lost Walt!" For a moment I did not know who he was talking about, as we always called my brother Buddy. It then sunk in, and I said, "Not Buddy??" He replied, "Yes, Buddy died of a heart attack and if you want to ever see him again you must come up to Warren Hospital right now, because he is being cremated in the morning." Well, I did not want to see my brother in a morgue. The last time I had seen him was at my mother-in-law's funeral a few weeks earlier in May. He was wearing a suit, hugged, me and said I love you. That was how I wanted to remember my last moments with him. I would have never thought at that moment in a funeral home would be the last hug I would get from my brother.

I think that Buddy's passing was so much harder because it came out of the blue, and there was no time to prepare. He also was immediately cremated so we never saw him. All of that coupled with the fact that he was a sibling, a peer, and that really brings home your own mortality. His sudden death makes one really comprehend the urgency of living each day to the fullest.

When we experience the death of someone so close, as a defense mechanism we try to keep it locked up and hidden away in order to cope, but when birthdays, and the anniversary of their passing roll around we visit it, and mourn again.

I am so thankful for all the memories I have of such a wonderful older brother, who was so full of life. He made life more interesting for all who were blessed with his presence. His presence was larger than life, and he will always be with us in spirit.

I so love to remember my dear brother Buddy!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

In Memory Of My Father, On What Would Have Been His 88th Birthday

In memory of my dad William W. Dunwell on what would have been his 88th Birthday...

Our Dad was an inventor, and entrepreneur. My nephew Walter/Buddy Jr. put it perfectly. He said, "Grand Pop, created the businesses, and then he got Grammy to run them."

In 1958, he created Bud's Snack Bar that sat on the corner of Rt. 22 and St. James Avenue in Pohatcong Township, which is where the Pohatcong Mall sits now. In fact the snack bar was a little toward Rt 22 from Ruby Tuesdays. He and his brother Dick built it, next to Budd Burgstresser's gas station. Dad would also take weekly trips to the now defunct Nazareth Auction to purchase potatoes, and other produce that he sold in front of the snack bar.

When we lived on Williams Street in Alpha, he made apple cider, wreaths, grave blankets, and along with produce sold them from the back of his 1959 Ford pick up truck. I can remember going along with him through Delaware Heights, and running up to the doors of the houses exchanging the wreaths for money.

In 1963 we moved to the corner of E. Central Avenue and Third Ave/Rt. 519 in Alpha, and he opened up the Alpha Luncheonette. It was a grocery store, complete with a penny candy case and fresh sliced luncheon meat, as well as a luncheonette with a jukebox, booths, and cheese steaks. We sold ice cream, milk shakes, soda, and out front produce.

Then about a year later he and our brother Buddy started Dunwell Tool and Machine in the garage. By then we had three businesses going all at once.

I had mentioned earlier that Dad was an inventor. If you are a lady and wear a bra, then you have touched a mechanism that my Dad invented. He worked for Sobel Metal Products in Easton, PA at the time, and Dad came up with an idea for a sliding device to shorten or lengthen a bra strap. Dad created the Die piece and Bestform Bras bought the idea. For all of his ingenuity he received his regular weekly paycheck.

All of Dad's co-workers said that he was the best tool and die maker/machinist that they had ever met. He even took a Metallurgy class at Lafayette College. He was a union organizer, and I can remember once he went out of the house wearing a nice white shirt and tie, and came home covered in blood as union busters beat him up.

When I was around two or three he built us one of those merry go rounds that you push off with one foot, and climb aboard as it twirls around. Every kid in the neighborhood hung in our back yard, and all of us had one worn out sole on our shoes. Later when we lived on Seventh Avenue in Alpha, he and our brother Buddy built an in the ground swimming pool using roofing paper. They dug the hole, layered the paper criss-cross, sealing the edges together, built a pump, and we had a real swimming pool, that doubled as an ice skating rink in the winter.

In 1975 Dad, Buddy, and Uncle Dick built a ranch home from a Miles Home Kit, over the hole where we once had fun swimming and skating. By Christmas 1976 the house was finished, the old house that sat in front of it facing Seventh Avenue was torn down. All of this was accomplished by our entire family while all three men held down full time jobs.

Our dad grew up in a father-less home, with an extremely stern mother. His dad abandoned the family of five during the depression. He entered the Civilian Conservation Corp to help his mother feed the family. He can remember eating lard on bread for dinner. His favorite Christmas memory as a child was when the Mogavero family who had a store in Phillipsburg at the time brought Dad's family a box of food, that had the best tasting figs he had ever eaten.

I can remember Mom telling us that she was set up on a blind date with our dad, for a double date with friends. He dated her for several months before he even kissed her. When we were kids and playing in the attic we stumbled upon a box that held love letters that he had written to our mom while he was away in the Navy. They were sweet, and he kept mentioning how much he missed her and our older brother Buddy who was just a baby. We saw a side of him we rarely saw.

As he grew older he was quiet, and he was extremely mannerly.He became quite a gardener in the late seventies, and even built a portable green house that could be wheeled like a wheel barrel into the garage at will. It was large enough to walk into, and was about eight feet long and four feet wide. He later gave it to an Indian man that worked with him at Lehigh Tool.

During the eighties he started making homemade candy, pickles, sauerkraut, and baking bread, cream puffs, and danish. He actually sold them to a restaurant on Center Square in Easton, PA.

My dad was often accused of having his head in the clouds, dreaming of the next great idea or invention. His successes in life were never measured by money.

One might think that the money value of an invention constitutes its reward to the man who loves his work. But... I continue to find my greatest pleasure, and so my reward, in the work that precedes what the world calls success." Thomas A. Edison

Our dad really made life interesting for us. He was the best dad he could be, especially since he had no dad while growing up during the depression. He was intelligent, honest, and loved animals, especially his cats.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Happy Birthday My Sweet Emily

My first grandchild, my precious princess, you are growing in leaps and bounds, you are eleven!!! Wow!!! I can remember your birth as if it were just yesterday. Your birth was the first time I had seen a new life come into this world. I had slept through surgery during the birth of your Mom and Aunt Jami.

When the doctor handed you to me, I felt so much joy and amazement.

You have grown into a lovely young lady who is so smart, and pretty. You make me happy and proud! I love you dearly!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Birthday Jamiann

Your birth was such a blessing to my life. You have brought more joy into my life than any one person deserves, especially me. I know I have made many mistakes over the years, but I hope you know that you were never one of them.

I am so proud of the woman that you have become. You make decisions wisely, and you certainly haven't learned that from me. You, Mike, Abigayle, Jacob, and Maggie are so much fun to be around. Why not, as a child you put on all of those shows making Grammy, our relatives, and friends laugh, with your characters like the bag lady, and the Jewish American Princess. You drove us crazy with your Manilow Madness, but that obsession brought us many lovely friends, and memorable moments.

You have such a keen sense of humor, and continue to make others smile, and laugh out loud!

Happy Birthday Honey, I love you, Mom

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Easter 1960s Style

Dearest Grandchildren,

"In your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it..." my Mom sang this song to us every Easter when we were little children. Every Easter Mom dressed us from head to toe with patent leather shoes and purses, white gloves and an Easter bonnet too.

Mom went all out even though she was on a limited budget. We even had brand new dress coats to wear to church on Easter Sunday. When she took us shopping for our outfits for Easter 1963 we came home with a few extra special surprises.

One surprise was for Irene and I and they were the latest craze...sponge coats. Well, that is what we called them. They were made of foam that was covered with fabric. Irene and I had identical sponge coats, except for the color. My coat was pastel blue, and Irene's coat was navy.

Our bonnets were usually white and had a brim adorned with a white or pastel satin ribbon, and paper or silk flowers. I can remember thinking that I looked so sophisticated with a hat and gloves, however I didn't keep them on for long. The hats usually had an elastic strap that cut into my chubby little chin, so I took it off as soon as the opportunity came. Once inside the Sunday school classroom the hat came off and the gloves went into the purse.

Our mother saw to it that each one of us had everything new for Easter, underwear, socks, hat, gloves, shoes, and dress. Sometimes, they may have been hand me downs, if they were in good shape. Even if it was a hand me down...it looked new. My Nannie Wahlers who was my Dad's Mom was an excellent seamstress, she would sew pretty dresses for us for Easter too. I can remember a dress that she sewed for me that had a bouquet of paper flowers with lace under them attached at the waist on the left side, and I just loved that dress.

The 1960s was a decade of new ideas, fun ideas, and frivolous ideas...like the sponge coats. One of these ideas was to inject dye into little chicken peeps, making their feathers turn all kinds of pretty Easter colors. When you are a child, you don't worry about the health hazards inflicted on these peeps...just the cute little colored chicks that you would love to have running around your house. I can
remember shopping at Woolworth's Department Store at the Hillcrest Mall in Phillipsburg, New Jersey with my Mom. Mom loved to buy her hyacinths there as they were less expensive than other stores. Woolworths would display their Easter flowers and colored peeps out front on the sidewalk. I would go to the little cages and talk to them and wish that I would get one for Easter. We had chicken coops when we lived on Williams Street, so the chicks had a place to go when they began to grow into adult chickens. But many of the children that received colored peeps for Easter had no place to keep them when they began to grow. Many of the chicks didn't get the right food and they would get sick and die.
The next step in preparing us for Easter was a trip to Harold's Shoe Store for the patent leather shoes. I had and extra wide foot...most likely because I hated to wear shoes in the summer and went without them most of the time. Everyone would be fitted for their favorite kind of shoe and there I was trying on every shoe Harold had in his store that was extra wide and hated them all. I would soon settle on a pair and that is what I did settle whether I really liked them or not. But, all the fuss was worth it when we found out that Harold was giving away colored peeps to each child who purchased new Easter shoes. So, we each took home a colored peep in our shoe box that had holes punched into the lid as so the violet, aqua, pink, green, or yellow peep could breath. Boy, was I thrilled, proudly carrying my very own colored peep out of that store and I didn't even care what my shoes looked like.
The weekend before Easter we would attend the neighborhood Easter Egg Hunt which was held in a nearby park. It was like a race to find the prize egg. I never did find a prize egg, but when your mommy was little she did and won a two wheeled bicycle with training wheels. But, every kid took home a hollow chocolate egg and that was fine with me.
On Easter morning we would awake to a beautiful basket which was decorated by our Mom with crepe paper(an art she learned from her Aunt Let),
filled with; coconut creme, peanut butter, marshmallow, butter creme, and hawk (pastel hard coated marshmallow) eggs, yellow sugar coated marshmallow peeps, jelly beans, milk and white chocolate mini binks (miniature chocolate bunnies, lambs, and chicks), and one tall chocolate bunny.
We would get dressed for church. In Sunday School we would learn about the resurrection of Christ, reinforcing what our Mom had always told us. She told us about when Christ died on the cross on Good Friday for our sins. On Good Friday we were not allowed to watch TV, or listen to the radio and were told to remain quiet and pray from noon to three, which were the hours that Jesus suffered on the cross so we could have everlasting life. Mom always taught us to have a personal relationship with the Lord. We liked to go to Sunday School too, especially on Easter as our Sunday School class gave us a dark chocolate covered creme cross as an Easter gift.
We would visit our Great Aunt Ree and Uncle Bill for Easter Sunday dinner. They were our God parents and they were also like grand parents as they raised my Mom. Every year Aunt Ree painted hard boiled eggs with toothpicks using food coloring. She would make eggs that had a tulip, hyacinth, and daffodil on one side and a cross set in a tuft of grass on the other and she separated the two sides with a frilly design. The side with the flowers usually also had our name written on it too. She would then make an Easter gift for each of us using a one pound coconut
cream egg which came in a card board box. When you opened the box, on each end of the egg was a little compartment where a divider was added to keep the egg still in the box. Aunt Ree used this divider to add a few jelly beans, the hard boiled egg, a sugar coated marshmallow peep, and chocolate mini binks to each side of the coconut cream egg.

I have carried bits of these traditions on to make Easter a little extra special for your Mommies...with one big exception "colored peeps" as they had been outlawed not long after we took our cute little peeps home that very special Easter.

With All My Love,


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In Memory Of My Mother

When I was a little girl I would cry myself to sleep whenever the thought of losing my mother would enter my mind while saying my prayers. I would have never thought that I could have gone on living one minute, one day without her there for me. It has now been 18 years since she passed on. She will always be right there for me, she is in my heart and in my soul. As a remarkable and loving mother she is ingrained in my whole being, and taught me to love unconditionally and to forgive without holding a grudge. She always lived by example. I try to live up to her teachings.

In Memory Of My Mother, Ruth Marie Dunwell On This Day March 30, 2010, The 18th Anniversary Of Her Passing.

This song in the background, There You'll Be reminds me of her. It is sung by Faith Hill,and written by Diane Warren. It was on the sound track for the movie Pearl Harbor.

There You'll Be

When I think back
On these times
And the dreams
We left behind
I’ll be glad 'cause
I was blessed to get
To have you in my life
When I look back
On these days
I’ll look and see your face
You were right there for me

In my dreams
I’ll always see your soar
Above the sky
In my heart
There always be a place
For you for all my life
I’ll keep a part
Of you with me
And everywhere I am
There you’ll be

Well you showed me
How it feels
To feel the sky
Within my reach
And I always
Will remember all
The strength you
Gave to me
Your love made me
Make it through
Oh, I owe so much to you
You were right there for me

In my dreams
I’ll always see your soar
Above the sky
In my heart
There always be a place
For you for all my life
I’ll keep a part
Of you with me
And everywhere I am
There you’ll be

'Cause I always saw in you
My light, my strength
And I want to thank you
Now for all the ways
You were right there for me
You were right there for me
For always

In my dreams
I’ll always see your soar
Above the sky
In my heart
There always be a place
For you for all my life
I’ll keep a part
Of you with me
And everywhere I am
There you’ll be

Monday, March 22, 2010

Paper, Plastic, Paisley, and Disposable

The technologically-savvy 60’s turned us into a throwaway nation. We had disposable plastic plates, bottles, diapers, cutlery, curtains, and with the advent of the new paper dresses, even a wardrobe that could be chucked into the garbage after it was used.

One lovely late Spring day in 1968, Debbie Rose and I went shopping at the Woolworth Dept. Store in the Hillcrest Shopping Mall. We purchased the latest craze, a simple A-line/tent dress in a psychedelic paisley print, made out of a special, sturdy fiber paper for a measly $1.25 each. I didn't even realize at that time that these dresses were made by the Scott's toilet paper company, how funny is that????

We were so full of ourselves, and just couldn't wait to show them off at the newly renovated Hullabaloo Teen Night Club that was transformed from the then former Villa Roller Rink.

I learned about another new innovation that Saturday morning when Debbie set her long wavy hair in empty Campbell Soup cans, and sat under my portable hat box style hair dryer. She did this to help straighten her hair.

The outfit was made complete by our knee high patent leather go-go boots. We were trying to copy Goldie Hawn on the brand new TV show Rowan and Martin's Laugh In. Oh we were the cat's meow!!!!!

During the same time period my mother came home from shopping thrilled over her new inexpensive curtains, the latest rage, throw away drapes. They were made of two ply plastic, the under layer was white, the transparent outer layer was of a gray, pink, white lace paisley print. I always thought that they were hideous, and eventually convinced my mother to get rid of them.

Today we realize that all of those throw away goods were bad for our environment. We now know that we need to create items that are recyclable or reusable. The sixties were a fun and experimental time and I was so young, and so innocent.

I didn't have a worry in the world, and everything was brand new!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Meal Fit For A Saint...

St.Patrick's Day Potato Candy

2 tablespoons mashed cooked potatoes 1 tablespoon butter 1 teaspoon milk 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar 1 cup peanut butter Mix together potatoes, butter or margarine, and milk. Add enough powdered sugar to make a stiff dough. Roll out on a flat surface sprinkled with powdered sugar. Spread on a layer of peanut butter and roll up. Chill and slice.

Oven Roasted Corn Beef and Cabbage

Prep 20 min
Cook 2 1/2 hours or until meat fork tender
Serves 6-8


1-corn beef brisket (3 lbs)
8 small potatoes; peeled (leave whole)
8 carrots; peeled (leave whole)
1 large head cabbage; remove outer leaves and cut into 4 wedges
1 tablespoon of crushed garlic, sprinkle with onion powder
Water enough to cover corn beef brisket in a deep pan


1. Preheat oven 325 degrees
2. Place corn beef into center of pan fat side up, next arrange potatoes, carrots, and cabbage around brisket.
3. Sprinkle spice packet, garlic, dry onion powder over contents in pan. Next, pour water into pan covering brisket.
4. Cover with aluminum foil tightly around edges, place in oven at 325 degrees and bake 2 1/2 hours or until fork tender, remove foil return to oven to slightly brown about 10 minutes.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Tranquil Tuesday "A Woman's Worth"

The sounds of a Summer's night

Proverbs 14:1
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Proverbs 31:10-12 and 25-31
A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.

They may talk of a comet, or a burning mountain, or some such bagatelle; but to me a modest woman, dressed out in all her finery, is the most tremendous object of the whole creation. ~Oliver Goldsmith

There is in every true woman's heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Getting Psyched For Spring!

Spring is just around the corner. I know you say, "But Diane today we are having a huge blizzard!" Well, I choose to disregard this weather and think Spring!

Today I was reminded of a notable author, whose writing on the human condition, nature and anarchy against big government were prolific. Henry David Thoreau, was from Concord, Massachusetts, the son of a pencil factory entrepreneur. He studied at Harvard, and refused to pay the five dollar fee for his graduation diploma. The diploma was written on sheep skin, and Thoreau commented that he was saving the poor sheep. His friends were fellow writers, such as Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Nathaniel Hawthorne's son Julian. He strongly opposed slavery, and often spoke out against it. Thoreau was a man of high moral principles, yet remained an admirable individualist.

His love of nature, and the lovely area of Massachusetts that he called home inspired much of his writing. While spending a great deal of time in the woods of Maine in search of primeval America, he learned that a balance between the two; wilderness, and civilization was the most appropriate way for man to live his life.

Today there is a group founded with the purpose of preserving his writing, and educating those who are interested in learning more about this one of a kind human being. Here is a link to The Henry David Thoreau Society:

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness.If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." Henry David Thoreau from Walden.

It is now the twenty-fifth day of February, with Spring just around the corner, and I am reading Thoreau, and his words of wisdom are psyching me up for a Spring that will be the new beginning of a more active and fulfilling life. I look forward to once again getting out there, amongst the squirrels, chipmunks, and bunnies enjoying the beauty of nature while listening to the cheerful song of the birds as they move lightly and swiftly, darting from tree to tree in my own little piece of the world that I call neighborhood.

"We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake . . . by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor." Henry David Thoreau from Walden.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tranquil Tuesdays

Do you remember my Walp's Wednesdays? Well during the days of Lent I am going to try something new for my blog; Tranquil Tuesdays. I am going to record tranquil scenes from my own neighborhood, and feature them with a few positive affirmations, and Biblical verses.

Today the video that I am featuring is of a hummingbird at my back porch feeder from last summer.

Follow God's example in everything you do just as a much loved child imitates his father. Be full of love for others, following the example of Christ who loved you and gave Himself to God as a sacrifice to take away your sins. And God was pleased, for Christ's love for you was like sweet perfume to Him. Ephesians 5:1-2 The Living Bible

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The bluebird carries the sky on his back.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Children Learn From Our Words

I have had many excellent teachers during my school days in New Jersey. Some of them stand out in my mind as kind, and compassionate. However the little snippets of memories that stand out most in my mind are those produced by the less compassionate teachers. I remember the ridicule in front of my peers by a second grade teacher. I can remember her exact words; "Diane close your mouth, are you catching flies?" I was so traumatized I went home and told my mother, who called the school and told her off. She was the wife of a minister too. My mouth was open, because I spent my entire childhood with sinus infections, making it hard to breathe through my nose. My peers soon began making fun of my snotty nose. It is no wonder why I hated school, and missed allot of days as a child.

Teachers should realize that the way they treat their students will spill over onto how their peers will treat them. Just as parents are under the pressures of day to day living, and earning a living, teachers are only human and fall prey to those short tempered moments when a child pushes all the wrong buttons. Many times it isn't even the child who pushes the buttons that gets the fallout. It is that last raw nerve that becomes so aggravated, that one is at the mercy of complete exasperation.

However if we want to be a good memory of a future adult, then we must be diligent to curb our temperament, and make better choices in how we react in front of the children we influence today.

As a parent we tell our children we love them. We hug them when they are adorable and oh so lovable. Suddenly, they are not co-operating, creating messes, and upsetting the peace we need after a hard day. Now those children are equating love with anger, fowl or demeaning language, and sometimes physical pain. In my memory the lasting hurt came from the words that were spoke to me. My father who I know loved me, said many hurtful things, using words like fat, ugly, and sickening to me. He also hit me with a leather belt. But, the sting of the belt was nothing compared to the words.

His words lead me to search out love and approval from men who were just like him. They were either emotionally unattainable, or hurtful, demeaning alcoholics. My mother was a loving, kind person who was extremely altruistic. However, she was the wife of my father, and often tried to explain his behavior away as a necessary fatherly responsibility. She often apologized to me for his behavior, but condoned it as his inability to grasp proper fatherhood qualities because he was abandoned by his own father.

It has taken me many years of self searching to realize that I fostered a victim mentality for years, and years. I still struggle with that victim mentality. My older brother once confronted me on this issue, and I was dumbfounded, and clueless at that moment. I felt defensive, and hurt at his accusations. Once again I felt like a victim. Poor pitiful me, why do I always end up with the short end of the stick?

The wake up call came in a class facilitated by the Warren County Adult Education Program, and taught by Dr. Gwen Roquemore, entitled Taking It To The Limit. She helped me realize, "If it would be, it is up to me, if I am not for me, who would be?" Another affirmation she taught me was, "Never allow anyone to create feelings in you that are not enlightening, enhancing, or empowering."

Many, many years of my life were spent healing from the words of several of the adults who were supposedly role models in my childhood. So please weigh your words when spoken to, and in front of the children GOD placed in your life...PLEASE!

Monday, February 15, 2010

When The Happy Ending Isn't There

I haven't written in well over a week. Since then I have had friends who have passed on, two from cancer, and one from injuries incurred from an accident that happened one year ago.

Victoria Carro Fiorucci Sanford is the aunt to my life long friends, the Maslonka family which includes my very good friend Cynthia. Vicky lived in our neighborhood, my mother baby sat for her children, and my dad worked with Vicky at Alpha Lehigh Tool. There was also a funny coincidence that over the course of several years long ago, I had lived at three separate addresses in which Vicky had previously resided. She fought a valiant fight against pancreatic cancer. She will remain in my heart as one of the sweetest, most loving, yet strong women in my life.

Barbara Ehrhardt worked with me at the Warren County Welfare Board from April of 1991-April of 1999. From September of 96-99 our desks were back to back and we sat face to face as clerk typists/receptionists for the Food Stamp Office. We had lots of fun times, and Barb was known for adding to our morale by copying the Express Times crossword and Jumble puzzles for us on a daily basis. Each and every Thursday she took our lunch orders for Chinese food, called them in, and greeted the delivery guy at the door. I still kept in touch with her by phone and e-mail these past 10 years. I just deleted her e-mail address last night, and I cried. It was the first time I had to do that because of a death. Her e-mail address so fit her personality, it was "besmile". I will always remember Barbara as having a smile on her face. She loved to make all occasion cards and oil painting. She loved Patrick Swayze. She also loved the movie The Enchanted Cottage. After loosing a lung to cancer, she had gone through years of chemo therapy,with an attitude of acceptance, always leaning on her deep faith in the Lord.

Marty Lantosh, was a neighbor, who was my brother David's age. I can picture him as a child coming in our parent's store, and buying penny candy. His mother Helen pierced my ears when I was eleven, and his sister Helen has been a lifelong friend. Marty was in an accident on February 11, 2009 and received extensive brain injuries, he passed one year to the day of the accident on February 11, 2010. I had so hoped for a miracle for Marty. I really thought he was going to recover.

Today I heard on the news that the body of Brittany Gengel had been recovered from the rubble of the Hotel Montana in Haiti. She and three other students as well as two teachers from Lynn University were still missing since the earthquake on January 12, 2010. They were all there on a mission to help feed the poor. When I saw her parents on the news right after the earthquake they were so positive that she was alive. I have been praying for her safe return, for a miracle.

Sometimes there are no happy endings in life, and it is very hard to try and understand why so much pain and suffering is allowed to happen. We see loving people who love the Lord, and are kind and good go through suffering. We see others who have turned their lives around and have much to live for, loose their will to live, and pass on way too soon. We wonder why God allows this to happen.

There are many answers to the question, Why do bad things happen to good people. I have no answers to this question. I do however believe in the fact that our existence in this physical world is only temporary, short, and a learning experience. Just as a baby comes into this physical realm kicking and screaming, we leave it with sadness. That screaming baby has no idea of what is to come, and thus we need to look at the end of this physical realm as a new beginning. We will have the Lord to greet us and show us a new life with Him.

Someone posted this poem on the online guest book for my dear friend Barbara, and I couldn't have said it better. It was written by Ruth Ann Mahaffey

A Letter From Heaven

To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say...
but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.
Here, there's no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I'm out of sight.
Remember that I'm with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, "I welcome you."

It's good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on.
I need you here badly; you're part of my plan.
There's so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man.

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night, the day's chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to you....in the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o'er.
I'm closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I'd like it for you too...
that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who's in sorrow and pain,
then you can say to God at night......"My day was not in vain."
And now I am contented....that my life has been worthwhile,
knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
When you're walking down the street, and you've got me on your mind;
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it's time for you to go.... from that body to be free,
remember you're not going.....you're coming here to me.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

When Food Brings Joy

Carnie Wilson is on Dr. Oz, and oh boy can I relate to her and her inner being.She is absolute proof that Bariatric Surgery is not a "cure all" for a person to loose weight. Yes, she did loose weight when she had the surgery,but she did not address her addictions and became an alcoholic. She recovered from the alcohol addiction, and now is back up over 200 lbs since birth of last child. While discussing what Carnie called "Baby Fat" she was reprimanded, as she was putting the blame on her baby, when in reality it was Carnie who ate the wrong food, and possibly too much of it while pregnant.

We need to learn why food brings joy. We need to replace that joy with real joy.

Dr. Oz said to automate your meals each day, and exercise daily, 10,000 steps. Get rid of the enablers in your life. I choose to educate the enablers since they are very important people who I love dearly, and some I have enabled. We need to work together.

An addict alone is in bad company. What great advice. Sometimes we feel alone when we are with someone. I personally need to change my daily routines, and get out of this prison that I have created. I need to get rid of the warden and replace her with a wise counselor.

In being honest, I still have this inner voice that tells me it would be okay to have a cheese steak every once and awhile. Then it says, "But you really do love to eat certain things, and enjoy them greatly." It also tells me that if I loose all that weight at my age I will have hanging skin, and look awful. I need to learn how to stop allowing this inner being that learned that food brings joy. I need to replace that joy with real joy.

God has put at least two people in my life who would be more than willing to help me learn how to eat sensibly. I am going to ask for help. You may remember my favorite quote by Goethe:

The Power of Commitment!

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative ( and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now".

- J. W. von Goethe

Isaiah 40:31 (New International Version)

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."

Note: I have not offered how I will actually accomplish this, as I do not yet know, but I do know that I must reach out for help, and take that first step.

That is me in the middle. I want to look like that again, only 43 years older.