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Not Ready for Granny Panties
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Thankful for…Squirrels?

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

IMG_8619I think I’m finally done.

About an hour ago, I came home from my seventy-sixth trip to the grocery store in preparation for Thanksgiving dinner. Okay, it wasn’t really seventy-six trips, it was more like three hundred seventy-six. Or at least it felt that way.

Regardless of my copious list-making, I inevitably forget something, which requires me to go back to the store, where I pick up the requisite item, only to return home and realize I’m missing three more things.

And it’s ugly out there. The parking lot at our local farm market, Tanner Brothers Dairy Farm, looked like a smash-up derby waiting to happen. So did the inside. I thought about running people over, but I did a lot of praying instead. I think I reached ninety-four Hail Mary’s before eleven o’clock. When I finally did return home, well, let’s just say the bottle of wine on the counter was looking pretty good, even though it was before noon. (I didn’t drink it, okay? But once it hits five o’clock, I’m not making any promises.)

Unfortunately, the job of preparing for Thanksgiving dinner can leave a woman less than thankful. So I decided to compose a list of things for which I’m grateful, some silly, some not, to remind myself to unclench my jaw and enjoy. Here goes:

1.  Squirrels. Particularly the squirrels around my house, including the one pictured above, who has decided my pumpkin is as good a buffet as he’s going to find anywhere. I know they’re rodents, but watching the squirrels in my yard is like having my own private viewing of Cirque du Soleil every day, without the exorbitant ticket price.

2.  Spanx, spandex and underwire bras. Use your imagination.

3.  Wine. No explanation necessary.

4.  Chocolate. Ditto.

5.  The Trenton airport. Opened in 1929, which is probably the last time they did anything to it, it’s small, dated, kind of dumpy, and sheer heaven compared with Philadelphia International.

6.  Spare bedrooms. Now that at least a few of the kids have moved on, there are extra beds upstairs, which means that when either Dave or I can’t sleep (which of course happens all of the time because we’re old now), we can walk down the hall to another bedroom, or as Dave calls it, “The West Wing,” where a change of scenery sometimes helps us doze off. Yeah, we’re those people now.

7.  Doggie heaven. Yes, I miss my pooch, but I do not miss her mess. Nor will I miss having to clean up her poop from the kitchen floor on Thanksgiving like I did last year because she, too, was old. (And I think Dave and I are at least a few years away from, well…never mind.)

8.  Leftovers. Yes, we will be eating turkey for the next three weeks, and anyone who doesn’t like it is free to graze elsewhere.

9.  Say Yes to the Dress marathons. I simply cannot get enough of wedding gowns.

10. Emma. Beautiful new grandbaby, and her parents, my son, David, and daughter-in-law, Kelly, as well as my daughters, Laura and Megan and ever-patient husband, Dave. It’s been quite a ride, but we’re blessed, and I wish the same for you,

Happy Thanksgiving, NRFGP readers!


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Thirty-One–Organizing and Gifts for the Holidays

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

thirty-onePicture it: You’re headed out the door, loaded down with packages, food, wine bottles and, of course, your purse, the black hole, which weighs a ton and where things seem to go to disappear, never to be seen again. Before you leave, however, you have to figure out how to carry everything, so you embark on a scavenger hunt searching for bags, boxes, anything to help transport the stuff.

The result? Your carefully prepared and purchased offerings end up schlepped in old grocery bags, the half boxes you grabbed on your last trip to Costco, and a tote from TD bank, which you picked up at some convention somewhere and shoved into a drawer for just such an occasion. Oh, and you look like a bag lady.

Yeah, you’ve been there; we all have.

Enter Thrity-one, a company founded by one such overwhelmed woman determined to organize her life and her stuff. Not only organize, but organize in style.

The company presents solutions to every storage problem, both inside your home and when traveling outside of it. With categories of items labelled, “Utility,” “Totes,” “Home,” “Accessories” and my favorite, “Purses,” Thirty-one features totes, bags and storage products of all shapes and sizes. There are thermal totes for transporting food, too, many with lids that will keep your items from tumbling about in the trunk, eliminating the need to tape your dish lids on with masking tape before leaving the house. (Or maybe that’s just me. But I’m betting not.)

But these aren’t your standard totes and bags. Thirty-one does it with flair, showing multiple fabrics and patterns, even embroidery, to personalize items to your taste. One awesome idea–the “Suite Skirt Purse.” Choose a basic purse in black or brown, then change the exterior with a cover called the “Suite Skirt” to coordinate with your outfit. (See Pat Achilles’ adorable illustration of the Suite Skirt Purse below.)

My personal Thirty-one guru, Laura Pankoe (also daughter of NRFGP own Pat Achilles), did a fabulous job showing the company’s product line at a gathering last week and detailing multiple uses for the many items she presented.

If you’d like to take a look at the line, check out the link to Laura’s page, where you can access all of the company’s wares and reach Laura directly with questions or orders. (

With the holidays just around the corner (yes, it’s true!), you’ll find the best kind of gifts–useful and attractive–for every woman on your list at Thirty-one. Even better, by using Laura’s link, you can shop in your pajamas–spending Black Friday comfortably at home eating leftover apple pie and watching Christmas movies on TV. Now that’s my kind of shopping!

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This Tree Rocks

By: Chrysa Smith


There’s nothing like Christmas in New York City, with the very best decorated windows you’ll find anywhere, food shops that can get you most any of your culinary traditions and of course, the star attraction–The Rockefeller Center Christmas  Tree.

Once again, this beauty comes from around the corner in PA, 85 feet tall and is crowned by a star made of hundreds of Swarovski crystals. It’s impressive alright. When I worked in the city, I’d venture over there with my friend Carol. Back in the day, the tree lighting ceremony wasn’t quite the extravaganza it is these days. In fact, it was only televised in the NYC market and lasted all of a half hour. No top 40 artists. No national celebrities. In fact, I believe the mayor was the official who pressed the magical light button. But times have sure changed—or have they?

Did you know:

The first Christmas tree graced ‘the plaza’ back in 1933

The trunk has been  given to the US Equestrian Team for use as an obstacle

One year, the tree was donated to make lumber for habitat for Humanity

Normally, the tree is shredded and three tons of mulch are donated to The Boy Scouts

This year’s tree comes from Bloomsburg, PA

Five miles of lights decorate the tree

The crystal star weighs over 500 pounds

History puts the official tree at 1933, but the tradition is said to have dated even earlier, when make-shift ornaments were strung and locals celebrated with tin cans and paper. While the tradition has grown, the sentiment behind it is the same—good cheer, celebration, decoration. And if you get the chance, in between your own festivities, be sure to tune into the ceremony on December 3rd, 7-9pm, NBC. And if you’re lucky enough to take a trip in, the tree will stay lit through January 7th.


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Much Ado About a Big Booty

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

MP900178843I’m ashamed to admit it, but I looked.

Despite my aversion to their vapidness, stupidity and general uselessness, after hearing the latest uproar about the latest episode in the land of Kardashian over-exposure, I just couldn’t help myself: I looked at the picture of Kim Kardashian’s bum.

Over-exposure it was.

In case you missed it, and I don’t know how you could have, last week, Kim Kardashian continued on her quest to destroy the world through her own bad taste and idiocy by posing for naked pictures. Again. If you recall, Kim’s initial exposure to fame (and yes, I will be using the word, “exposure” a lot as it’s all the Kardashians have going for them) was through a sex tape released around ten years ago. If I’m not mistaken, I think her mother, the matriarch of tastelessness, Chris Jenner, had more than a little something to do with the tape’s release and marketing. (Can you imagine? They should all be rounded up and marooned on an island somewhere, along with that nitwit Kanye West, Kim’s husband. But I digress….)

Anyway, last week, the New York based magazine, Paper, ran a spread (quite the apt description) of Kim Kardashian baring her famous behind for all the world to see. Like I said, again.

I tried to resist the madness, but after hearing about how the pictures were “breaking the internet,” as well as after years spent trying to figure out why young women know the name, “Kardashian,” but don’t know the names of the female members of the Supreme Court, I gave in.

In trying to describe what I saw, I decided upon the word, “prodigious,” which, according to, means, “extraordinary in size.” It also means “abnormal” and “monstrous.” Kim’s butt is both.

Prodigious also describes the entire Kardashian clan, especially the abnormal and monstrous definitions.

Which is pretty much how I felt after succumbing and doing exactly what those fools wanted me to do–become part of their conversation. Not only have I given in, but now they have me looking at porn, which is what those pictures are, without doubt.

The world needs an exorcism. And little North West (dear God, those lunatics Kim and Kanye actually named their daughter, North) needs a mother who conducts herself like a mother, not a shameless, high priced hooker.

But as long as people are willing to give in, the Kardashians will continue to rake in millions and millions of dollars to show us the worst of themselves, and by association, of ourselves.

Frankly, I’ve seen enough, which explains why I’m not putting in any links to the images. If the Kardashinas are intent on the destruction of the world, they’re going to have to accomplish it without help from me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel like I need to shower. And figure out how to scrub my eyeballs.

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A Perfect Monday Message

Yeah, it’s Monday. I know I have to get my big girl panties on and get at it…but maybe not just yet. Take it slow, gals!
–Mary Fran


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Ballroom With a Twist

By: Chrysa Smith

thIf you’re a fan of Dancing with the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance or American Idol, you’ll love Ballroom With A Twist. It’s a traveling show that includes members of all of these casts.

For two hours, you’re glued to the stage, watching as men and women move and contort their bodies in ways that make you cringe, feel completely obese, think about taking an intense fitness class or putting yourself on a starvation diet.

I’ve never been one to watch the dancing shows on TV. For whatever reason, they never held my attention, although of course, still wowed by their talent. But in the flesh, it takes on a whole other dimension. For those who are ‘in the know’ Anna and Dmitri were the hosts, with Anna playfully engaging the audience. And I must add that I wouldn’t mind ‘tripping the light fantastic’ (can you tell my age?) with him—he’s quite handsome and sweetly charming.

They introduced us to each series of dances that included classic ballroom, swing, Latin and hip-hop. There was even a break-dancer that swept the floor on butt and head with his swirling, kicking and gymnastic movements. I actually couldn’t take my eyes off one of the dancers. She was so tall and graceful, with a cute pixi haircut, and both her body and hair moved perfectly in sync with the music.

The tango was sultry, the jive was swinging and the pop, trendy. In a variety of numbers, two singers from American Idol sang along while the dancers performed. And it was an enjoyable night for all. If you get a chance to see it in your city, please do. It’s a great girl’s out evening. And my Zumba class was there with bells on. Perhaps this week, we’ll remember just a few of the moves, feel a little more risqué and make the class even more of a workout. I’ve got my latex and jingling bracelets on—-gotta go. Class calls. For upcoming tour dates across the country, log onto:

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Dog Jumps at Baby’s Shadow–A Hump Day Video!

This has to make you smile. Watch this bouncing baby giggle as her dog tries to catch her shadow. Happy Hump Day!