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Lending a “Sandy” Hand

Last weekend we sat in our apartment thinking about what family outing we should do.  We had power, nothing was ruined, and it was the weekend, right?  What new area could we check out?  Dean and I through some ideas out, and each time an idea was said, an empty feeling came over each of us.  How could we have a fun family day out with the aftermath staring right at us; the seemingly endless gas lines everywhere, trees ripped from the sidewalks, and the thought of so many without power, heat, diapers, all the necessities that Sandy spared our family.  How did we get so lucky?  What if we weren’t?  What if our area looked like Staten Island or the Rockaways?  There was only one thing to do, get out and help.  We had an SUV and a full tank of gas.  No better way to spend our Sunday than lending a thankful hand.

Waiting to get gas.  Maddie was sleeping in the back seat, so we had a good hour or so before she woke up and before a break down began.  I can handle an hour wait, but not an hour of toddler tantrums!

 Packing in the supplies from Assemblyman Mike Miller’s Sandy relief location.

Maddie helped in the back seat making sure everything passed the grab, push and squeeze test.

Headed to our drop-off location.  Wish I would have taken more photos.  Trees were blocking street, large trash binds sat in driveways filled to the top, boats and cars were in odd places, yet you could see neighbors and citizens banning and working together.  A warm feeling on a chilly day.

Howard Beach drop off location.  Cleaning supplies, clothes, linens, and food.  All was needed!

Headed home and the lines for gas were still lining the streets, including the gas can lines.  This lined wrapped far around the corner.  And it was getting colder..

One thing I’ve learned moving from CA to NY…New Yorkers are tough and can get through anything.  It was moving to see fellow neighbors, citizens, organizations and states banning together to lend a hand.

Tomorrow we vote!  Hopefully everyone can still find a way to cast their ballot!  I know who I’m voting for.  Do you??

Central Park Breast Cancer Walk

This weekend we participated in our yearly family breast cancer walk. A walk I feel proud to be a part of for many different reasons.  So many people are affected by cancer and most of us have been touched by it in some way, either by a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or an acquaintance.  Cancer is a disease that could eventually affect us all in some way and breast cancer is the second most common cancer for women in the US.  According to the American Cancer Society, in 2012, about 227,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and nearly 40,000 women will die from the disease.  That sounds high, yet we are also making progress.  More women are being cured and living longer than in the past.  According to ACS, ‘The chance of a woman having invasive breast cancer some time during her life is about 1 in 8. The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36. Breast cancer death rates have been going down and this is probably the result of finding the cancer earlier and better treatments. Right now there are more than 2½ million breast cancer survivors in the United States.’  WOW!  What a feeling just hearing that.

Each year we do the walk in memory of my mother.  My mother who lived a healthy lifestyle, active, ate healthy, had regular check-ups and who was diagnosed at 53 with cancer in many of her major organs, including breast cancer cells.  A shock to us all, to say the very least.  Within a few months of being diagnosed she passed away.  I don’t blame anyone, not the doctors, not the things we could have done earlier, not the signs we didn’t take seriously, not the treatments available at the time.  I truly feel God was ready to bring my mother home, which makes me feel at peace with why she was taken so early.  I think about her daily: her love, her support, her smile, her loving advice, and our heartfelt conversations.  I also think about how 9 years have gone by so fast and the things that have changed: marriages, grandchildren, first homes, achievements and how the world has evolved.  Sometimes it makes me sad thinking about it, but I think of the higher power and put my trust in God and realize there’s a greater reason for everything.

When I walk in the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer walks with my family each year, I don’t just walk for breast cancer survivors and research, I walk for all those fighting a cancer fight, for those families who stand beside their loved ones and are a part of the emotional journey, and for those that will someday be face to face with the struggle.  I too wonder, if I will someday be in that fight, but I can look to my mother who handled herself with such grace and strength for her children and family and find peace in her courage, and how she fought, the good fight, at such an early age.

The month of October is the month my mother was born, the month she passed away and the month of breast cancer awareness.  Being a part of these walks are a wonderful way for Maddie to feel closer to her grandmother, for my husband to feel connected to his mother-in-law and for me to honor such a wonderful mother who gave her All for her family and children, and to walk with those who have been a part of what we have experienced with cancer.  The cheers while walking are not to make it to the 5 mile finish line, they are cheers for life and cheers for those still in the cancer fight.  What a wonderful walk to be a part of.

Has a form of cancer affected you or your family in some way?  May God bless those still in the flight and those that have been affected.

Amy

Pumpkin Carvings & Creations

What do you look forward to during the Halloween season?  Is it dressing up in costume? Is it the treats and candy?  Is it the spooky tales and haunted houses, or is it just another excuse to plan a party?  Well for me, it’s the pumpkin carvings and creations!  I love seeing the random carved pumpkins and pumpkin creations around the city, the rows of pumpkins lining the city squares, and checking out the glowing jack-o-lantern trails in the area.

This is the time of year when the parties and gatherings begin!  One of my favorite themed parties I’ve hosted is a pumpkin carving contest.  It’s fun for kids and adults, and most people are buying and carving pumpkins, so why not make it a party!  Check off one of your to-do’s while drinking, eating and laughing with friends.  And no need for a babysitter, invite the kids too.  It’s a simple party to get ready for.  Everyone brings their own pumpkin (BYOP), while you supply the stencils (free online) and individual pumpkin carving kits (they’re inexpensive) and a plastic trash bag for each person to carve their pumpkin on.  It’s fun watching each other create pumpkin designs and great for conversation.  I’ve planned one in the past and everyone had a blast!

Whatever your plans might be this year, either needing inspiration to design your own jack-o-lantern or ideas to help you win your pumpkin design contest, then check out below my favorite pumpkin ideas to get you in the spirit

So many ways to have fun with pumpkins!  There’s a lot more cool ideas out there, but these are my favorite pics!

Click here for free pumpkin carving stencils.

Click here to see the largest carved pumpkin.

Do you plan to carve or create something fun with your pumpkins this year?  Please share!  I would love to see and hear your ideas.

Oyster Fest

Who’s in for oyster shucking?!  Well you won’t catch me doing that, but last weekend we headed to Oyster Bay, Long Island for the largest waterfront festival on the East Coast.  There was much to see and much to do, especially with oysters, from shucking contests, to oyster eating contests, to a few oyster crafts, and to anyway your palate will take them, raw, fried, sautéed, mixed, over-easy and I’m sure, if you looked hard enough, on the rocks!  There were several large boats in the bay to tour, the USCG Cutter Chinook, the Barquentine Peacemaker, and the 130-foot 1931 John J Harvey fireboat.  And lets not forget the craft tents and artwork.  We came home with a few holiday finds for ourself and the relatives, all while listening to the bands play throughout the day in the background.  There were pirate reenactments, rides for children, and those with stomachs of iron participated in the eating contests, however we chose the leisurely stroll and tasting along the waste widening food court.  Anything unhealthy was at your finger tips!  And we couldn’t pass up a walk along the gorgeous waterfront.  Oyster Bay is not only known for its Oyster Festival, but also for its charm, beauty, stunning bay and harbor, and of course, the summer home of Theodore Roosevelt on Sagamore Hill.  Anytime of year is a great time to visit Oyster Bay.

Here are just a couple photos we took while enjoying our day in, oyster filled, Oyster Bay…

Oysters and crowds galore!  Get there early ;)

Admiring the large boats and fireboat display…

Looking for seafood comfort food?  The food courts had it all!

Couldn’t get enough of the stunning bay and harbor and views of Centre Island…

Maybe next time we won’t be watching our shoe float down the bay and be able to stay a little bit longer.

A fun family day and festival.  We could have spent the whole day there if Maddie hadn’t kicked her shoe off over the railing and into the bay.  When you have a toddler who stroller planks (for those non-parents, when a child refuses to bend and sit) there’s only one thing to do, emergency shoe shop!

Do you have a Fall festival you enjoy going to each year?  I would love to hear about it.

Picture Perfect Westport, CT

 

Yesterday we wanted to take advantage of the extended weekend, so we jumped in our car and headed north.  We needed to get out of the apartment and into the crisp air.  After driving an hour north we landed in Westport, CT.  I had heard a little about the town and thought it would be a fun area to explore.  Explore we did!  Such a beautiful colonial town that sits along the Long Island Sound with the Saugatuck River running straight through it.  We walked and shopped along Main Street’s chic stores, took a drive through the historic part of town, ate at Bobby Q’s Bodacious BBQ - fun place, yet nowhere near healthy - and stopped off at a few pumpkin nurseries that gave a whole new meaning to the ordinary pumpkin.  I’m sure the stores living amongst Martha Stewart had to up-the-bar!  And a couple fun facts, the town was made famous by the show I Love Lucy.  It’s where Ricky and Lucy bought their new home after moving from the city, and the cost of living in Westport is 167% higher than the rest of the US.  I guess Ricky was doing pretty good!

Here’s our Columbus Day outing and what came home with us…

We drove through the historic area of downtown…

Took a turn down the residential area of traditional colonial style homes of the historic area…

Walked along the chic stores on Main Street

Randomly came across Turkey Hill Road, yet no sighting of Martha Stewart :)

Stopped at Terrain Garden Cafe.  How can anyone pass by these mums and not make a u-turn!   What a find – the unique home decor, unusual plants, a cafe and restaurant made for foodies and the vast array of special finds that not even a screaming toddler can pull a person away from!

Loved their variety of pumpkins, berries and Fall plants…

Now which pumpkin, which gourd…can we finally choose?

Looks like this is the keeper!  Found our Charlie Brown pumpkin, now bound for home!

What a day in picture perfect colonial Westport, CT!  Wish we could have checked out Compo Beach and Park, but time starts ticking in the late afternoon when your toddler hasn’t napped. See you in the Springtime Westport!

Do you have a special place where you get your pumpkins and Fall decor?  Please share.  I love to get new ideas.

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