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Not Ready for Granny Panties
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When Your House Makes You Say, “Ew.”

By: Mary Fran Bontempo

IMG_1581There’s nothing like a quickly approaching party for 70 at your house to make you look around and say, “Ew.”

Remember when you first set up house? As a young bride, I was all about my home decor. I scoured magazines, tore out pictures, meandered through furniture stores and obsessed over what should go where and what color went with what. Home was a great source of pride.

Then, I had kids. Which meant that decor quickly devolved into where to put the toy box and how many stuffed animals could fit on the couch. Accessories were soccer cleats, balls for every sport, dance shoes and mountains of dirty laundry.

As the kids got older, the stuffed animals disappeared, but then the roof started to leak, the windows needed to be replaced, the heater went, along with the air conditioner, and the decor? Well, the decor was the same stuff I lovingly put in place in the early ’90’s, and suffice it to say, two decades later, it did not wear well. In fact, the house started to resemble one of those creepy places you yell at people not to go into when you’re watching a horror movie.

Imagine what a house would look like if Country Living Magazine had a baby with the Victorian era and taxidermist’s office. Duck decoys, pictures of flying eagles, and federal duck stamp prints residing on walls with enough paisley and color to bring on a migraine. Throw pillows, coffee table books (who came up with that idea anyway?), weird figurines of more animals and at least 80 different kinds of Yankee candles.

What the hell was I thinking?

Now, youngest daughter, Megan, is getting married and wants to have her bridal shower at home. Which is a lovely idea, except for the whole horror movie thing.

So, for the past five months, I’ve been pulling off wallpaper, scraping walls, painting, moving furniture, and pretty much putting everything my husband has an attachment to in the basement.

Dave was the one who went through the wildlife phase. For years, I happily indulged him with the aforementioned decoys, artwork and weird figurines. Somehow, it seemed more interesting than buying him shirts at Macy’s.

I should have bought the shirts.

He also has an attachment to a random collection of books, along with old photos, countless magazines, religious medals, and enough bits and pieces of stuff to fill the pockets of every ten year old boy on the planet. Bobby Brady would be jealous. At last count, I rid the family room of three bird decoys, one Rottweiler puppy figurine, three federal duck stamp prints, a bookcase full of Dave’s books, and countless bottle caps, bits of string, baseball cards and chewing gum. (Okay, I’m kidding about that last part, but you get the idea.)

However, lest anyone think I’m a controlling witch (go on, substitute the “b,” you know you want to), I did not dispose of Dave’s treasures. Instead, I relegated everything to the basement.

Again, this is not as bad as it seems. Dave’s office is in the basement, and he spends around 18 out of every 24 hours down there, so surrounding him with his stuff  in the cellar is actually his best chance to enjoy any of it. Since I couldn’t care less what goes on in the basement, everyone wins. And of course, then I get to go out and buy new stuff to replace the wildlife.

Yet, I have experienced the occasional pang of guilt. The other day, after I removed the giant soaring eagle print which hung above the family room sofa in order to paint the room, I asked Dave if he wanted me to re-hang the piece.

“No, that’s okay,” he said.

“Really, I don’t want to erase you from the house. If you want it back in there, I’ll re-hang it,” I replied.

“Just bring it downstairs. I’m a realist. I know my place is in the basement, and I’m fine with that,” Dave said.

Like I said, everybody wins. And with any luck, on the day of Meg’s bridal shower, no one will mistake our house for a set piece from  Psycho.

As long as they stay out of the basement.

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Dear Future Husband by Meghan Trainor–A Video for You!

Adorable new video by All About the Bass singer, Meghan Trainor. Advice for future husbands and current ones. Listen up, guys! Enjoy!
–Mary Fran

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Every Little Bit Helps

By: Chrysa Smith

macys-flower-show088

Every so often, MaryFran and I take outings.

They’re not extravagant, because if they were, you’d be the first to know.

They’re just little jaunts that take us away from our computers, neurosis and worries about our writing careers. (Do I dare say that without laughing?)

So, these days help. They help me. They help her. And they always help both of us get a new perspective. Figure things out from a new angle. And God bless us; we’ve been doing this for years. Yet there’s always a new insight—a new vision—a new suggestion that seems to put things into perspective and launch us on our way with more enthusiasm, confidence and determination than ever. But that’s just for starts.

This time, we went to the Macy’s Flower Show. Did you even realize they have one in several cities? Well they do. And essentially, they take their display areas over their main floor cosmetic counters, unoccupied sales floor and turn it all into a spring wonderland. And boy, can it ever come too soon this year? Now granted, it’s not the Philadelphia Flower Show—biggest in the country and occupier of a huge convention hall. But it is spring, and it is creative and it does brighten the gray day—if just for ten minutes. But not only that, it transports you back in time when the department stores of yore were institutions. And Philly is a grand scale. Balconies, organ, elaborate moldings and enormous chandeliers. Pair that with beautiful flowers and well, you know you’re out of the burbs—and transported somewhere special–creative—inspiring—if again, only for ten minutes.

If you don’t already have one, find a friend who likes to explore. Loves life. Is grounded. Who believes in the very best. Who has faith. Who has time. Who has ambition. And don’t let go. It’s special. And the special outings only make the friendship that much more special. Because in the end, what we have are memories. We have the inspirational moments. And we have those times that got us through the rough patches.

Friends are necessary. Spring is necessary. Don’t neglect to harvest both.

If you need to feed your nature side, the Macy’s Flower Show is running through the end of the week. Lots of nearby restaurants and parking make it a great ladies–or friends day out.

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Over 40? You’ll Get This!

If you’re over 40 or even younger but have kids, you’ll appreciate this. Bring on the steel reinforced cables–the “girls” need help! Happy Friday! (And check out www.spicecomments.com for more funny images for your social networks.)
–Mary Fran

saggy lady

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Cute & Quirky

By: Chrysa Smith

ptpleasantbeach

I’m hardly a loner, but I do like my time alone.

And I sure love my summer beach time, but I also like it about now.

Weird? Not really. Because there’s a silent beauty, awe of nature and the divine when you walk along the shore when nobody is there. Plus the sun is just a lot warmer these days. Dare I say I get more spirituality there than I do in church these days? (OK—thunderbolt) Being alone in the beauty of creation can’t be beat—and especially when your own internal thoughts are good ones—aahh—nirvana! But enough on the deep side. How about a little treasure? Well today I found it once again—all good blessings.

I happened to be in Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey for a school visit. Four blocks from the beach, I had to surrender. So I walked along the boardwalk at 8:30am and it was grand. Sun shining on the ocean and on me; everything boarded up tight for the soon-to-be in-season seaside dwellers. After my work, I asked about lunch, and was pointed toward the cutest, quirkiest café called The Beanery. It reminded me of so many off-the-beaten-path, but unique finds that warm your heart. Eclectic interior design (pieces of plates and cutlery were bound into the stucco wall) and creative lunch menu made a great little respite mid-day. Things like herb mayonnaise, croissants, thick-sliced multi-grain, homemade-tasting bread, grilled veggie and cheese wraps, spinach and cheese quiches were followed by luxurious desserts including a snowball—cake layers with coconut ganache and chocolate shavings. Wow! What can you give up today to make that calorie count work in your favor? If I were a coffee drinker, I would have opted for one of the delicacies of the day—it smelled absolutely scrumptious.

While eating, I noticed some cute boutiques across the street, and they were all open. So I wandered over to Sunshine Daydream. What a find! The shop was filled with trendy and nicely priced jewelry—-bracelets similar to Alex and Ani (but with mix and match charms), dangling earrings, other mix and match trinkets and chains and I wound up with a cuff bracelet for $16. It’s got a filigree design and goes well with my other bracelets. And if it should break from all of the opening and closing? Well, I won’t cry. I might have to return and get myself another. The center of town had lots of shops open—lots to explore. And the town is much closer to those of us who live north of Philadelphia than my usual favorite— Ocean City. For a change of pace or a quick run to the beach, even before summer, it’s worth the trip. Sand, ocean, food, sunshine and shopping? What could be better than that?

Check out the jewelry shop online at www.sunshine-daydream.com. Check out The Beanery at http://www.thebeanery.net/. And check out other finds on Bay Avenue in Pt. Pleasant Beach, NJ.

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Princess Rap Battle–Cinderella vs. Belle

Back from Florida and a trip to Disney, of course! Here’s a hilarious take on two favorite Disney princesses–Cinderella and Belle. Not exactly what you’d expect from the sweet ladies Uncle Walt gave us in his classic movies, and all the funnier for it. Enjoy!
–Mary Fran
 
 

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Seafood & Memories

legal-seafoodBy: Chrysa Smith

I love seafood. You name it—I can pretty much enjoy it. Crab, shrimp, scallops, flounder, sole, trout. Well, maybe not mussels or oysters. But hey, I don’t like to be slimed. Go to any ordinary restaurant and you can expect much of the same—one shrimp dish, maybe crab cakes or tilapia (cheap fish). You’re getting lucky if you find flounder or tuna—and well, you really hit the mark when there’s a column of fresh seafood to choose from. So I was thrilled to have dinner at Legal Seafood this weekend. Because not only did it serve up some nice grilled trout, but memories to boot.

Back in the late 70’s, early 80’s,my friend Carol and I caught a case of wanderlust and visited several cities on mini trips. One of them happened to be Boston. So we actually boarded what was, as I remember, a Greyhound Bus (or similar bus line) and headed north. So, I guess we either weren’t of driving age, or our parents weren’t willing to give us a car to drive in, of all places–Boston. Go figure.After an interesting trip, we wound up in Boston and we did what most tourists do: Faneuil Hall, Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Church and a battleship. The memories are still strong, and I happen upon a photo or two when I occasionally flip through my photos box (there were no phone cameras back then—how old am I?)

One of the memorable stops, even when I was a teen, was Legal Seafood. Born in Boston, probably at least fifty years ago, it has it’s roots in New England. Success led it to spring up throughout Mass and then. onto other cities down the east coast. But even then, before full adulthood, I remember being impressed with the menu—-seafood of every type, done in every possible way.

I think they’ve scaled their menu down to what is most desired, but to the seafood lover, if you’re not in Mass, Maryland or Florida, it’s pretty darn good. You’ll find most every common fish, along with some landlubber specials. The atmosphere is upscale chic, and the vibe is contagious. If you’re in the market for a bit of the sea, I highly recommend it. Find one in your area at:  www.legalseafoods.com.