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It’s A Guy Thing December 20, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor, Joke.
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17 comments

Brian-Oh-NoWhat is it with guys shoving food down their pants and into their pockets, like squirrels storing up stores for the winter?

* Raymond cramming his pockets full of roast beef at the PTA Pot Luck on Everybody Loves Raymond.

* Stephen C. McQueen lining the pockets of his overcoat with canapes stolen from a birthday buffet in The Understudy.

* Pinto in Animal House sticking packages of meat down his pants and inside his sweater for a Frat Party. TOGA!  TOGA!

At the Cheese Tasting we attended this week, a retired sheriff’s deputy spotted an un-gentlemanly gentleman pilfering cheese, by stuffing containers down the front of his pants for later consumption.

Apparently he’s not alone!

According to the Fun Facts shared at the tasting, cheese is the #1 shoplifted item in both Europe and the US because it’s small, compact, and pricey.  And doesn’t melt like ice cream.

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So, if you happen upon a cheese tray at a Holiday Party this year, you might query the hostess about its origins.

If she says, “Raymond picked it up for me,” consider opting for the fruitcake.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Does Santa Make Kids Selfish? December 19, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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42 comments

Xmas-CatThe training of new consumers begins on Santa’s lap. Ho~Ho~Ho!

And continues in front of the TV as animated ads from Toys ‘R Us ask . . . “What’re ya gonna get? What’re ya gonna get? What’re ya gonna get?”

We are programming kids to become greedy meanies.

For an eye opening look at how Santa’s questions frame responses and keep the materialistic spiral going:

But all is not lost.

Once Santa shifts his script from getting to giving . . . the kids opt to give the larger piece of chocolate away.

Aah . . . that’s better!

The Wonderful World of C~H~E~E~S~E December 18, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Travel & Leisure, Special Events.
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45 comments

On Saturday, we attended a Cheese Tasting presented by The Fresh Market at the Main Library.

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We had the opportunity to try 10 cheeses from the Eight Cheese Familes:

1. Fresh Cheeses ~ Goat Log and Cilegene (fresh mozzarella)

2.  Soft Ripened/ Bloomy Rind ~ Ile de France Brie

3.  Washed Rind ~ Chaumes

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4. Pressed Uncooked ~ Tillamook Vintage White Cheddar

5. Pressed Cooked ~ Kaltbach Cave Aged Gruyere

6.  Pasta Filata (Stretched Curd) ~ Armenian String

7. Blue Veined ~ Buttermilk Blue

8. Specialty ~ Wendsleydale cranberry and Cran Le Roule

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Each table of four tasters had all cheeses within arm’s reach which enabled us to compare and contrast the tangy peppery goat log with the rich Brie with the sharp Buttermilk Blue.

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Karen LaBonte, the cheese specialist, brought Raspberry and Apricot preserves to pair with the White Cheddar and the Buttermilk Blue.  The Apricot preserves raised the Blue to stellar heights.

2014-12-13 14-46-30_0007Karen also brought a fresh Cheddar Cheese Curds for us to sample, amid squeaks.

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Following the tasting, the Manatee School for the Arts put on a short Holiday Concert.

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Giving attendees a chance to cleanse their palates with cookies and punch.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Are your favorite cheeses Mild or Sharp?  Nutty or Tangy?  Are they Stinky, Aromatic, and Pungent? Peppery, Grassy, or Musky?  Silky or Crunchy?  Citrusy, Earthy, Sweet, or Salty?  Elegant and Rich?  Or Rustic and Barn-yardy?

Thank You . . . I Am Inconsistent! December 17, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Humor, Life Lessons, Mindfulness.
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44 comments

Tree-Frog-PerchedConsistency is consistently over-rated.

* Consistency makes us predictable. That can be a great help to others in anticipating our acts and reactions.  But it may be a hindrance to us.

We are, all of us, in the process of becoming.

To become more fully who we were always meant to be, we need to embrace change.

* Consistency gives us a sense of control because we know that we didn’t care for green eggs and ham yesterday and probably won’t like them any better today.

Of course, nothing in nature is stagnant ~ neither should we be.

We are not who we once were.

* Consistency makes us feel “right.” As if we’ve figured out the answers and need not ponder the questions any longer.

Because of our routines, we forget that life is an ongoing adventure. ~ Maya Angelou

Boredom arises from routine.  Joy, wonder, rapture, arise from surprise. ~ Leo Buscaglia

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Re-considering self-imposed boundaries and our consistent consistency is a good thing.

That’s why, when someone accuses me of being inconsistent, I give them my best Mona Lisa S~M~I~L~E.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Holiday Simplicity December 16, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Life Balance, Special Events.
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56 comments

After reading Simplify Your Life in 1997, we stopped stressing over the holidays.  We do what we enjoy doing, and don’t do stuff that feels like a chore.  We’ve decided Less is More.

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We do not spend hours putting up a BIG tree or untangling lights.

We have a tabletop tree that we store decorated with favorite ornaments ~ many handmade. It’s good to go in about 15 minutes.

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Other decorations collected over the years (Santas, Reindeer, Elves) go from boxes to shelves in about 60 minutes.

When our nieces and nephews were tiny toddlers, I gifted Santas to them (which helped keep our decorations in check).

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Instead of shopping ’til we’re dropping, we send cheery cards and college checks to nieces and nephews, and consumables (food, wine, snacks, books) to family and friends.

BFF and I don’t exchange Christmas gifts with each other. Instead, we spend time creating experiential memories together.

Ignoring the call of the mall leaves us with time and energy to enjoy local Holiday Offerings . . . like the Candy Cane Crawl, Christmas Town at Busch Gardens, and PIZZA on Pine Avenue.

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We stopped sending Christmas Cards to everyone we’ve ever known in every place we’ve ever lived or worked (NJ, VA, SC, NC, MD, and here).

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Culling the list from 250+ people we barely remember to those we genuinely care about and want to see again is a HUGE time saver each December.

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Which gives us a chance to enjoy Choirs of Angels in Santa Hats.

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Once they get situated with their hats on straight.

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A new tradition this year ~> collecting and gathering spare change to toss into the big red buckets manned by ubiquitous bell ringers.

Together with our cheery HO~HO~HO!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

What are your favorite traditions? Which ones could you do without?

Candy Cane Crawl December 15, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Special Events, Travel & Leisure.
Tags: , , , ,
34 comments

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On the night of the crawl, the merchants gave to me:

12 sips of cider

11 salty pretzels

10 bites of cheesecake

9 steel drum carols

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8 massage minutes

7 festive ribbons

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6 Hershey’s kisses

5 brownie bites

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4 cheese and crackers

3 candy canes

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 2 violinists playing

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And a slighty disheveled Santa

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Heirlooms & Keepsakes ~ Rogie & Logie December 14, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, People.
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37 comments

I treasure a number of heirlooms and keepsakes from my maternal grandparents and my Great Aunt Edie.

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The oldest heirloom is a walking stick carved by my great great grandmother’s suitor.

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You can read more about it here:  A suitor who just didna suit her.

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My grandfather enjoyed travel as well as working in his woodshop . . . where he transformed a tray purchased overseas into a table.

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He made matching bedside tables.  I have this one and my sister has its fraternal twin.

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This rocking chair belonged to Great Aunt Edie.  After she died it lived in my parents attic until I requested it ~ painted by dad and re-cushioned by mom.

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My grandfather made this jewelry box for my grandmother, inlaid with her initials.

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Another view.

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My grandfather’s shaving mirror sits on a shelf in our kitchen.

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When my grandparents visited the Middle East in 1965, they brought back this Bible from Jerusalem for Aunt Edie.

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Along with a piece of palm from Palm Sunday, carefully preserved inside the front cover.

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I wear this turquoise ring given to my great aunt by her sister, my grandmother, in 1918 as they arrived in the states from Scotland.

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This pewter tea set sat in my grandmother’s dining room for years until she passed.  In time, my mother passed it on to me.

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This copper teapot also came from my mother’s family.

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This tin coffee pot (from relatives in Vermont) rounds out the set.

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My mother had this Scottish pitcher on her hutch until I adopted it.

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“Here’s a health to them that’s awa!” ~ Burns

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Here’s where it lives.

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This two shelf unit may have been made by my grandfather.  I remember it hanging on Aunt Edie’s bedroom wall.

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Also from Aunt Edie, this wooden letter holder made by my grandfather.

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My grandfather’s pewter baby cup brought over from Scotland.

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Another view.

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My grandfather loved working with watches and building clock cases.  He gave us this coin clock when we got married.  My brothers and sister each received one.

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My grandfather also made this shelf clock which keeps great time, as long as we change the battery.

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As far back as I can remember, Edie had these plates hanging on her wall.

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And the other.

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And this special Christmas plate that served up Scottish Shortbread.

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The painted glass pitchers belonged to my grandmother who may have done the painting herself.

Or maybe she bought them at the Church Bazaar.

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My mom’s childhood desk lived with us when we were kids.  Later, BFF and I used it as the scoreboard for darts.

Now we use it as a message board in the dining room.

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Inside, you can see an antique wooden xylophone.  Both the desk and the xylophone may have been made by my grandfather.

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My grandfather did make this Tea Caddy hiding behind that Santa.

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Here’s a better view.

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Mom made this Santa.  Aunt Edie made Lulu for mom.  I played with her too.  Check out the rips and tears . . . Lulu was well loved.

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As most keepsakes are.

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  A Family Heirloom (Grannymar)

Next Sunday, I’ll share some treasures and keepsakes from dad’s relatives in Vermont.

My Top 5 Tips For Holiday Sanity December 13, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness, Special Events.
Tags: , , ,
43 comments

Janna wrote a post, Holiday Survival Discovery:  They Don’t Call Me Bonnie (And I Don’t Know Clyde).  After sharing her Survival Discovery, Janna asked us to share our secrets to Holiday Sanity:

Do you have any secrets (legal or not) for making it through the holidays?  I love this time of year, so I don’t usually get too stressed… but it doesn’t hurt to keep ideas on hand!

Here’s my Top 5 Tips for Holiday Sanity:

1. Live where it’s WARM so you don’t have to maneuver over or around snow banks or worry about icicles lurking overhead.

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2. Steer clear of the mall from Thanksgiving to Christmas . . . unless you just want to wander around and admire the decorations.

3. Buy most/all gifts at the Grocery Store . . . everyone needs to eat.  Focus on the 4 main food groups ~> Salty, Crunchy, Sweet, and C~H~O~C~O~L~A~T~E!

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4. Get plenty of exercise to alleviate stress and maintain balance.

5. Laugh at any insanity that slips into the mix.  It will.  That’s a given.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens December 12, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Fun & Games, Humor, Special Events, Travel & Leisure.
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32 comments

Last weekend, we went to Busch Gardens in Tampa to enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas Town.

First stop, Stanleyville Station to ride the Christmas Express.  After boarding, it started to rain. At the conductor’s request, we debarked and huddled together in the station to watch rain drops plopping in puddles for 15 minutes until the conductor asked us to retrace our steps:

“A~L~L    A~B~O~A~R~D!”

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The rain slowed long enough for us to pull out of the station, seated on soggy rainswept seats.

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We took the tracks less traveled . . . and saw behind the scenes hardware.

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As we passed Nairobi, the rains came . . . offering passengers a soggy safari.

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Can you hear My Fair Lady?   “The rain on the plain stays mainly on the train.”

Giraffes craned long necks in our direction.

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They stood high, but not dry, under tall palms.

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I heard them chuckling at prisoners huddled in puddles on the Candy Cane Express.

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After de-boarding, we decided to dry off inside.  We opted to see a show ~ Opening Night Critters ~ featuring rescue dogs, cats, birds, plus a plucky pony, a shy skunk, and a prickly porcupine.

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After the show, we saw other animals ~ elephants, Cape Buffalo, orangutans, and tigers.

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And a kangaroo stationed outside of Walkabout Way.

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Flocks of flamingos paraded around the grounds.

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All decked out in their Christmas finery.

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Amid beautiful floral arrangements.

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We saw fields of poinsettias blanketing a zebra-drawn sleigh.

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Inside the market place, we spied zebras, elephants, and giraffes for sale.

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Ready to be adopted by collectors of all ages.

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Before leaving, we walked through Christmas Village to watch wee ones enjoying a pint sized train.

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As it circled round and round model trains completing smaller loops.

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The trains defied all attempts to capture an unblurred image.  The trees stood silent and still, awash in bright lights while displaying a spirit of cooperation.

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Throughout the park, Christmas trees of all shapes and sizes offered scents of the season.

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This one stood in a pool of white poinsettia.

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And presiding over it all . . . the Big Man himself.

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Urging visitors to “Bring Home The Coke.”  HO~HO~HO!

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Aah . . . that’s better!

Tigger’s Tiggerific Tall Tail Tales December 11, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Amazing Animals, Fun & Games, Humor.
Tags: , , , ,
40 comments

Every year when I unpack Christmas decorations, Tigger appears.

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He likes to take time to smell the roses . . . and poinsettias.

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Before pondering the best placement for Santa and Lulu.

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But he’s never too busy to play hide-and-seek-wrestle with BFF.

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Once BFF finds him, the gloves are off . . .

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“My what big paws you have . . . “

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“Enough of this!  I need a nap.”

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“What?  I didn’t run away.”

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“Do I LOOK like a quitter?”

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“I’m just getting my second wind.”

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“I’ll wrestle again later.  Tuesday at the latest.”

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Aah . . . that’s better!

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