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Not Ready for Granny Panties
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More Than A Summer Thing

By: Chrysa Smith

Farmers-Market-foods

There are more and more of them.

You have probably shopped at them this summer. And you’re probably reeling the visits back in, prepping for colder weather.But I say carry on. Because more and more farmer’s markets are becoming more and more year-round.

Now granted, the abundance of summer produce is undeniable. I myself am a summer fruit gal. Come fall, my fruit intake drops to distantly grown grapes and little more, because like you, I so dislike pale attempts at good ripe fruit. Farmer’s markets and sustainable agricultural folks have made their name, in large part, on the fact that their food comes from within a 100 mile radius. That proves great for a few months of the year. But what about the rest? What about those of us who actually have a winter?

Well, I know  here in PA, more and more greenhouse and hydroponic farms have popped up, allowing for fresher produce year round. New agricultural techniques have extended the growing season, giving us better, fresher veggies much longer. So recently, I saw an ad for a farmer’s market in New Jersey. It is in Stockton, a cute town plunked right on the Delaware River. Mostly known for it’s excellent wine store, the number of vendors seemed surprisingly large, so I dragged my husband over the river for a look-see. Much to my surprise, it was indoors. They took what was a small, abandoned grocery store and re-purposed it. Now, it contains a variety of farmer’s stand like vendors, housed in one weatherproof dwelling.

If you’re familiar with the Reading Terminal Market or the Italian Market in Philly, it’s a scaled down version. But it’s close. No train. No parking fees. But it does put locally grown produce, eggs at your fingertips. Locally-made pasta, chocolates, crepes and cookies in your shopping bag. And it does it all without processing, unpronounceable ingredients and other factors that make so many of us walk away from food labels more and more.

If you’re near the river, take a trip over to the Stockton Farmer’s Market, open Fri-Sun.  And if you’re not, take a check of your state’s Dept of Agriculture website  or Google ‘farmer’s markets in……….’ and see if you can’t find some similar markets that make the case for fresh foods year-round.

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Should a Red Solo Cup Be Our New National Symbol?

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

redcup2A red cup.

Never mind years of vocal training or hours spent practicing classical piano. Who cares if you can stand on point in ballet shoes and spin off a bunch of fouette turns in a row (which is really, really hard)? Can you weakly warble a popular tune an smack a cup around?

With what looked like a routine from a summer camp talent show, Miss New York won the Miss America title Sunday night, after singing(?) the Pharrell Williams’ tune, “Happy,” and tapping a beat with a red cup, a la Anna Kendrick and her “Cups” song, from the movie Pitch Perfect.

Seriously?

The Miss America contest has never exactly been a talent showcase–apparently looking good in a bikini is still a major draw–but this was reminiscent of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer promoted a beauty pageant contestant with a pigeon act. After a pigeon mishap, the contestant was forced to withdraw, depriving the audience of what was surely top-notch talent. Or not.

I wonder what would have happened had someone absconded with Miss New York’s cup? Maybe the ventriloquist would have won. (Hey, at least she had to work at it.)

And Kira Kazantsev was Miss New York! You know, arguably the cultural and artistic center of the United States? There are graffiti artists in the New York subway who put more effort into their spray paint.

I’m sure Ms. Kazantsev is a lovely young woman. And she said she wanted to “do that talent” because she “wanted every single little girl in America to be able to see that you can do that talent — you can do whatever talent you want on national television — even with a red cup — and still be Miss America and have the time of your life.”

Clearly, she was right.

But I’m not so sure that Miss America, who has been inspiring little girls since the contest’s inception in 1921, should be a model for mediocrity.

We live in a culture where every kid gets a trophy simply for showing up on a team. Everybody gets an “I Am Special” poster and a week to tell the class just how wonderful he/she is. Every half-hearted effort is met with a “Yay! Good try!” by enthusiastic parents assuming they are promoting confidence in their children.

Seems to me we’re just promoting lower standards.

But maybe I’m wrong. As Miss America has proven, you can be the best, win the prize, bring home the big bucks and make your dreams come true with a mediocre effort.

As long as you look good in a bikini, that is.

 

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Stunning Shadow Dancers–A Video for You!

Moving, stunning, beautiful. Hungarian shadow dancers on Britain’s Got Talent. Enjoy!
–Mary Fran

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A Hump Day Giggle

Men never learn, do they? The following was contributed by my mother, via an email forward from her that I actually read this time. Thanks, Mom!

–Mary Fran

 

A BIBLICAL STORY

A woman runs a red traffic light and crashes into a man’s car. Both of their cars are demolished, but amazingly, neither of them is hurt.

After they crawl out of their cars, the woman says; “Wow, just look at our cars! There’s nothing left, but fortunately we are unhurt. This must be a sign from God that we should meet and be friends and live together in peace for the rest of our days.”

The man replies, “I agree with you completely. This must be a sign from God!”

The woman continues, “And look at this, here’s another miracle. My car is completely demolished, but my bottle of wine didn’t break. Surely God wants us to drink this wine and celebrate our good fortune.” She then hands the bottle to the man.

The man nods his head in agreement, opens it, drinks half the bottle and then hands it back to the woman. The woman takes the bottle, immediately puts the cap back on, and hands it back to the man.

The man asks, “Aren’t you having any?”

The woman replies, “Nah, I think I’ll just wait for the police.”

Adam ate the apple, too.

Men will never learn…

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All About that Bass–Summer’s Number One Song for You!

All About that Bass, by Meghan Trainor, is summer’s number one song–over 51 million views on You Tube–is a catchy number with a good message for girls. You don’t have to be a size two to be beautiful. (Not crazy about the boys liking a little more booty to hold part, but generally a good message…you be the judge!)

 

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Hot Dogs & Memories

By: Chrysa Smith

hotdog_png

There’s still a little summer left. So, I heat up the grill and throw on a few ‘dogs’. Now of course, I recently talked about Dr. Oz and eating healthy. And while you can actually find healthier versions of the BBQ staple, maybe you’d like to sneak one or two–just for old time sake.

I was watching the TODAY Show which had a survey — which condiment do people prefer on their dog?. Not surprising to me, it was ketchup. I’ve always been a fan and for a second, it took me back to my youth. Because when I think about it, I’ve got a few cherished memories related to the tubular meat.

I remember my grandmother making me hot dogs, slicing them, putting them on white toast with ketchup and serving them to me in her very old, very large kitchen. It was one of my favorite lunches, not only because the taste was divine, but I do connect it with lots of love. Of course, my grandmother  would brush my hair and make me an occasional Tom Collins (remember those? Today she’d be accused of endangering a child), but the food–especially the hot dogs, came with doses of care-taking and love.

And then there was the very memorable time when my dad took me for a most famous hot dog. Growing up in NYC, Nathan’s was the place for a dog. And my dad was big on outings—outings which usually involved the entire family. But this time, as I remember, it was just us. At least it was us sharing a hot dog experience. A spicy, unhealthy lunch, complete with wavy fries, I still remember taking that first bite. It was different. It was good. And I still think of that special time with my dad, standing at the Nathan’s stand, with the Coney Island roller coaster looming large behind us.

A little older, I fondly remember my days working in NYC. And while I was a turkey sandwich fan by that time, I’d pass by the street vendors and get a whiff of that great hot dog smell. And it would all bring me back again.

According to studies on the olfactory gland (smell sensors), scent and taste is attached to memories. So, it’s no wonder the perfumeries and candle companies try to capture those magical potions that simply make us feel good. Or the chocolate milk shake that takes us back to those years before we dare not touch them.  I guess what these experiences have taught me is that there are simple links that take us back, take us forward.

For me, besides the hot dog,  it has been the scent of powdered sheets and fresh cut grass. But for now, seeing my son follow in my footsteps with hot dogs and ketchup is enough—tying me now to an entirely new generation of pork and tomato lovers.

What scents bring you back? What leads you forward?

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What Goes Around, Comes Around

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

New daddy, David, loaded down with baby "stuff."

New daddy, David, loaded down with baby “stuff.” Hahahahahaha!

Ya gotta love a cliche.

Trite as they may be, most times, they’re firmly rooted in some kernel of truth, which is what causes people to use them over and over until they become, well, cliches.

So when your mother told you, “What goes around, comes around,” she was right.

This past weekend, we had a visit at our shore house from the “Ghost of Vacations with Babies” past and present, in the form of my son, his fiance and their two week old daughter, a.k.a. my first grandchild, Emma Waverly Bontempo.

And what a delightful visit it was.

Of course, it was lovely for all of the obvious reasons: time spent getting to know the first grandbaby, sweet baby cooing sounds, baby snuggle time, etc. But it was also wonderful for another reason–watching my son, loaded down like a pack mule, lug pile after pile of baby paraphernalia into the house. (And yes, of course I took that picture. How could I possibly resist?)

You remember those days. Baby seats, baby port-a-cribs (now pack and plays), baby swings, baby bottles, baby clothes, baby diapers, baby wipes, baby blankets, baby changing pads…stop me if I’m forgetting anything.

Which, of course, is also every new parent’s worst nightmare: that they’ll forget some absolute essential necessary to keep the baby from freaking out, thus confirming for all the world to see what they fear most–that they don’t really know what they’re doing.

And how could they? One minute you’re minding your own business, getting up for a snack during a commercial, showering when you want, sleeping through the night and the next, you’re afraid take a fifteen second pee break because you’re terrified that a two week old, should you leave her on the floor on a blanket unattended for that long, will suddenly discover how to roll and wind up wedged under the couch.

Beautiful baby Emma Waverly Bontempo--first grandchild. xoxoxo

Beautiful baby Emma Waverly Bontempo–first grandchild. xoxoxo

So you bring enough stuff to fill a U-Haul truck with you, setting up a bouncy seat, bassinet, stroller, a formula station in the kitchen and unpacking enough tiny diapers to collect baby poop from a nursery full of kids, until you realize just how much your daughter likes to poop, when you wish you’d brought more.

As I watched the scene unfold, I had a vision, of myself and my husband, lugging an equal amount of stuff for our first tiny baby, the daddy of this sweet little girl, and I thought, Well, now you’re in for it. From this time on, you’ll never have a peaceful night’s sleep again, not even when she moves out. You’ll jump at every cough, sneeze, hiccup and burp, and you’ll look at poop with a fascination you never thought possible, just to make sure she’s okay. You’ll cry when she’s hurt and you’ll want to hurt anyone who dares hurt her, even if it’s another kid. And you’ll finally understand me and your father and how we feel about you. What goes around, comes around.

Like I said, the visit was wonderful, and David handled the close proximity (we have a really tiny house), as well as my “suggestions,” with grace. (Well most of the time, anyway.) When they left this morning, after approximately eight trips from house to car to repack everything, I was sad to see them go.

Welcome to parenthood, kids. You’re doing just fine.