Monthly Archives: July 2010

Calphalon Pots and Pans

Final Decision

Calphalon cookware. Isn't it handsome?

After more than 15 years of happily using my red Chantal cookware, I am passing it on to my son Max. He’s returning to his sophomore year of college in mid-August and will be living in his first apartment. He said he’s looking forward to cooking his own healthy meals.

Max has been eyeing my pots and pans all summer, I think. He loves the red color of the Chantal cookware, which will match his new kitchen, and I think he likes the idea of bringing something from home to make his apartment more home-like.

With my Chantal cookware I've cooked some awesome meals.

The decision to gift Max my current cookware was an easy one. It’s served our family well over the years, but I am ready to try another brand. As they used to say on that old TV cigarette commercial, “You’ve come a long way, baby!” Cookware-wise, I am anxious to experience a more modern approach to stick-free cooking!!

No worries about scratching the non-stick finish now!

At the beginning of the summer I purchased a set of Calphalon sauté pans. I love them! They go from stovetop to oven, unlike my Chantal, and they clean up quickly and easily. My only concern was that the kids would use metal utensils on the non-stick-finished pans when they were cooking. . .and they would ruin the finish. That said, I spoke to each teen in turn and I do believe they listened. That and the fact that I “hid” all the metal utensils I own in a nearby drawer!

Thinking that with the sauté pans so easy to cook with and clean up, the rest of the line had to be equally as good, I wandered into Macy’s to check out the different brands, including Calphalon. It was my lucky Tuesday afternoon as a knowledgeable salesperson was free and easily talked about the various brands and helped me compare the choices. I left with the 10-piece Calphalon set, which included a “bonus” chili pot and set of utensils.

Who would figure I'd be so excited about new pots and pans?

I got right down to business. . .washing all the new pots and pans.

I unpacked my new cookware at home,  washed the new pots in hot soapy water and put them away. I haven’t cooked a huge meal using them yet, though. And the likelihood of me doing so this weekend is nil.

Cool runnin' Mon.

Have I told you yet?

We are leaving for Jamaica on Monday morning!! We have been packing and daydreaming about this big family trip. My husband Mike’s family is all going – Pop Pop and his girlfriend Alice, Cathy and Joe and their two kids and a girlfriend, Betsy and Phil and their son Andrew and a friend, and Judy and Rob and their daughter and her cousin from Rob’s side of the family. Ah, yes, and Tory is bringing her ice hockey playing friend Heidi.

Can’t Wait!!

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Filed under Calphalon Cookware, Cooking

Auto Accident

What Happens When It’s Your Kids in One?

My daughter Tory had been bugging her brother Max to drive her to the Jersey Shore since their shore “date” with their Uncle Michael Michael had been cancelled due to rain. Trying to be a helpful Mom I dragged Max out of bed this morning and Tory quickly followed. After a lot of growling around on Max’s part they loaded up the old Ford Explorer and took off for the shore. I stayed home to accomplish a “to do” list and give them some time together before Max returns to college.

Fast forward some time and my cell phone rings. My husband Mike said, “The kids have been in a car accident, but they are all right. The kids aren’t hurt.”

Mike’s words penetrated.

My heart raced.

One of my worst fears now real, I asked for details.

Mike told me what he knews, clearly and without drama, bless him.

I hung up and called Tory’s cell phone. She answered, sobbing out some details about the accident, but more important, their approximate location on the Garden State Parkway.

Somehow a photo just doesn't convey how it looks in person.

I took off for my Honda Pilot at a run, jumped in, took a huge deep breath and fired up the engine.  The accident was barely 2 miles from where the kids got on the Parkway. They went almost all the way through a construction zone, Max changed into the fast lane readying for an Easy Pass toll lane and traffic stopped dead in front of him. He said he braked, but didn’t have enough time to come to a complete stop. He hit the woman in front of him.

Does the crunched side view help convey the wreckage better?

By the time I got to the scene of the accident, Max and the woman had exchanged pertinent information. She, a mom herself with a son the same age, reassured me that she and her passengers weren’t hurt, that traffic was ridiculous.

I, relieved to see my two kids and the passengers of the other vehicle unhurt, almost missed the drama ensuing behind our old Explorer. Apparently another two vehicles had crashed in exactly the same way, for exactly the same reasons; however, the four male occupants were definitely not as calm, polite and cooperative as Max and the Other Mom.

One of NJ's finest was very kind and helpful today.

A State Trooper pulled up, then another. The trooper who handled Max’s accident was polite, kind and helpful. He filled out the paperwork and called for a tow truck since transmission fluid and other fluids were leaking out of the truck and into the roadway, clearly signaling that the Explorer was driving itself absolutely nowhere. With his okay, I worked the phone and called our local auto body repair shop, Bloomfield Auto Body, letting them know the Explorer would be arriving on a flatbed.

Our second vehicle being loaded onto a flat bed tow truck in less than two years.

So far,

Max has contacted our insurance company.

Neither he nor Tory is complaining of aches or pains.

My husband Mike has been apprised of the condition of his Explorer via emailed photos.

After speaking with Anthony at Bloomfield Auto, we’re pretty sure our family is now officially down a vehicle.

Max has lost his wheels.

But my children are safe.

Thank God.

Does it look totaled to you?

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Filed under Auto Accident, Car Accident

German Short-Haired Pointers

Walkin’ the Dogs with Gail

The bluestone sidewalk beckoned!

We finally met up: my girlfriend Gail after many weeks of her travelling with her boys for lacrosse tournaments and me travelling with my daughter for softball tournaments. We took Gail’s two lively German short-haired pointers for a walk and caught up on our lives.

Looking at their mistress and waiting for the "go" signal.

When we left the house, both dogs were straining at their leashes, eager to be off. Billy Jean wears a chain collar and Cooper wears a collar that has a leather piece that wraps around his muzzle. No matter to them what they were wearing as both dogs took off at a rapid pace with Gail and I trotting behind them.

With tails up and noses twitching the dogs trotted down the sidewalk.

Serious walk formation.

The dogs were polite and well behaved passing the nanny and child.

They graciously moved off the sidewalk to allow a nanny and her charge to roll on by.

I'm thinking it was a good thing we were on the opposite side of the road from the landscaper. Just saying.

They fell into a kind of doggy formation to eye the landscaper working across the road. (I got the feeling the dogs don’t much like landscapers.)

The hat must have been old news to the doggy duo.

As we trotted along Cooper and Billy Jean passed a hat abandoned on the side of the road; however, they spared it nary a glance as they were intent on something (what? what?) down a nearby driveway.

Well behaved or just tired out?

As we walked along and Gail and I chatted on, the dogs willingly slowed and stopped as Gail tied her shoe or spoke to a neighbor. By the time we circled back to the house more than an hour had passed and the dogs were tired.

Cooper, the older male pointer, has been Gail’s loyal companion for years; he’s a big, husky dog who will gaze soulfully into your eyes then steal a half sandwich from the edge of your plate as soon as you blink. He loves to carry his toys around, hoping to entice you into a game of tug of war, which, trust me, he always wins. In short, he’s a burly, loveable dog who can send you spinning with one thump of his tail.

Gail brought home a cute little (relative term considering how big these dogs get) female German short-haired pointer named Billy Jean (and, no, we don’t shorten her name to BJ!) a little over a year ago to keep Cooper company. Billy Jean, after a fretful start to her life, has blossomed into a real beauty under Gail’s care. She is bouncy and fun, fun, fun! The two dogs live la vida loca at Gail’s.

Billy Jean on the left and Cooper on the right. Have you tried to get two dogs to look at you at the same time?! Tough!!

Walking with Gail and her loyal canine companions almost made me want a dog of my own. Mike? Mike? I’m just kidding. . .I think.

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Filed under Animal Tales, Dogs, Exercise, German Short-Haired Pointers

Siamese Cats

Home Again with My Loyal Companions

Since the summer travel softball season has ended I’ve been reconnecting with my beloved Siamese companions, Brutus and T-Rex. On Sunday we spent the entire day together.

With my husband Mike off for a weekend of bass fishing with his high school buddies and the kids otherwise occupied, the cats and I were home alone.

They helped me rearrange the chaise lounge in the sunroom so we had the most advantageous view of the backyard, birds and butterflies included.

We gave ourselves a new view of the backyard!

A great view from my comfy chaise.

T-Rex (left) and Brutus climb aboard their 'Mom sofa.'

They helped me read a pile of magazines, frequently pointing out items of interest with a furry paw or tail flick on the page; occasionally, they plopped their entire butt on a page when they disagreed with the premise of an article I was reading.

Brutus looked me in the eye, then sat his butt squarely on a magazine photo spread I just showed him. Clearly, he weighed in on fall fashions.

When they tired of the close-up magazine commentary, they leaped into their cat tower, from which they surveyed me and our domain for the rest of the afternoon.

Nothing escapes the interest of a nosy Siamese. . .or two.

They continued to weigh in with opinions on the articles and fashion spreads I showed them, though. A simple “merrow” signaled agreement with my commentary, while a more gutteral “rrrrow” indicated disagreement. When in strong disagreement with me Brutus lifted his leg and washed his butt. T-Rex, yawning mightily, would twist his head in what looked like a complete circle and survey me from his upside-down position. He’s not the smartest of the two cats, but he’s by far the more entertaining!

Maybe not the smartest Siamese.

. . .but certainly the most entertaining!

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Filed under Cat, Cats, Siamese Cats

Baby Shower Fun, 2010

Who Knew?

Here's the invitation. Isn't it cute?

My niece Moriah is having her first child in September.  Her brother LJ and her husband Ariel’s family threw her a surprise baby shower on Saturday night. I haven’t been to a baby shower since my first great-nephew was born almost five years ago, and I realized after Saturday night’s party that I am completely out of touch when it comes to baby shower fun.

Held at the Colonia Elks, party guests – young, old, male, female — were challenged by the significantly underperforming AC on a hot and humid night. Gotta say, though, that the heat did not slow the festivities down one bit. Ariel’s family and Moriah’s and Ariel’s friends kept the party light and fun with their fun and games. And the DJ spun great tunes.

This guy looked better than I did in the heat!

Moriah walked through the door on the arm of her husband Ariel into a pitch-dark room. Alexa, one of Moriah’s warm and welcoming in-laws, threw on the lights and we all yelled, “Surprise!” Moriah, having expected a baby shower at some point, was surprised the shower was then and there. Ariel’s family, so thoughtful, whisked Moriah to the bathroom and presented her with a complete outfit to wear for the evening’s festivities; she looked marvelous!

Can't capture my niece in a photo when she's moving fast to hug her Wisconsin cousin!

Part of the fun for our immediate family was Loryl, Moriah’s cousin who flew through some wicked weather in Wisconsin to attend the shower in NJ. Moriah spotted Loryl and made a bee line to her for a huge hug. The cousins haven’t seen each other in years. Saturday night all the cousins save one were in attendance. Seeing them together, laughing and talking was a real treat for my sister Cindy and me.

The amount and variety of food served at the shower was astonishing: three kinds of rice, two kinds of pasta, BBQ chicken and ribs, pork, potato salad with beets, tiny meatballs, two lettuce salads and more. I tasted it all and it was scrumptious.

At least a dozen different kinds of food, all delish!

Oh my! Grown men drinking from baby bottles. So, ok, it's beer!

After dinner the DJ cranked up the music and my sister Cindy suddenly yelled, “Get your camera and come quick!” So I grabbed my camera and darted to the center of the room. The men were seated in a row and each had a baby bottle filled with beer in his hand. When the DJ gave the signal, the men sucked the beer out of the bottle. The first man done – and he drank that beer really fast — won a prize. In another game the women fed the men baby food, but that’s another story! The evening was hysterically funny and fun!

This guy sure can suck beer out of a bottle. He won!

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Filed under Baby Shower, Food, Pregnant Niece

Time Out

After Club Softball

A grueling every-weekend schedule.

It was eight grueling weeks long and now it’s over. Yep. My daughter Tory just finished her eighth consecutive weekend of playing fast pitch softball. Most weekends started with games on Fridays; however, a fair number started with games on Thursdays. And a couple memorable “weekends” started on Wednesdays for us. Travel time can be beastly sometimes.

Now it’s time for a brief rest. . .Tory and her teammates slept at their teammate Ashley’s house last night, and the majority of the girls headed for the Jersey Shore early this morning for some fun in the sun.

Where did the girls go today? I'm not telling!

And me? I slept until 8 am, did eight loads of laundry and cleaned out the refrigerator, the kitchen and bathroom cabinets and petted my two affectionate Siamese cats, Brutus and T-Rex. I’ve missed them and they’ve missed me.

My loyal Siamese: Brutus on left and T-Rex on right.

My husband Mike is away on his annual summer fishing trip with his high school buddies so I’ve been alone in the cool house all day.

Tonight is my niece Moriah’s surprise baby shower. I can’t wait! I wrapped the baby’s presents and am about to get dressed and go. I’m so looking forward to the evening with family.

Happy Saturday, my friends!

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Filed under Baby Shower, Cats, Siamese Cats, softball

Infiniti G Series Convertible

Car Shopping, Part 2

When we travel for my daughter Tory’s softball tournaments we are sometimes left with large chunks of time during which no softball is being played. When this occurs my husband Mike and I look at each other, trying to figure out what we can do that (1) fills the time and (2) might be fun. This past weekend in Delaware we had a chunk of time during which Tory had no games and went shopping with her teammates. That left Mike and me with time on our hands that we filled with a visit to a local Infiniti dealer.

Since I’m in the market for a new car and said car “must” be a convertible, it narrows my choices considerably. And given that the vehicle I drive has to be big and beefy enough to compete with the challenging drivers who roar down the parkways and turnpikes of New Jersey, that narrows my choices even more. And did I mention that the vehicle has to be “hot?”

Yes. Well.

A hot vehicle, but no longer manufactured so I'd have to buy it used.

After my Fourth of July weekend experience driving the Chevy SSR, which is no longer manufactured so I’d have to buy “used,” I figured I should give some other, new vehicles a chance to wow me. That said, I did a little research and decided an Infiniti G series convertible was worth checking out.

My husband Mike agreed. In fact, he suggested going car shopping last weekend! Remember, this is the man who says he’ll drive anything because “transportation is transportation.” He researched and found a local dealer near our hotel, called to make sure they had a G series convertible and off we went. Lee, our salesperson, was a well-informed expert on the vehicle. Not only that, I got to drive one of their loaner fleet convertibles!

Infiniti convertible: power, styling and comfort, but is it "me?"

The G series convertible is tremendous fun. I slid into the driver’s seat and the backs of my legs and small of my back were greeted with cool-air comfort. The leather seat is air-conditioned, folks! And the Bose sound system includes speakers in the headrest near my ears so that when the roof is down I don’t miss a beat of music.

When I had to go in reverse the cameras located toward the rear of the vehicle helped me maneuver the car expertly without me ever having to turn my head. All I did was stare at the computer screen on the dashboard and line up my lines of sight. Yeesh! I have to admit that it was kinda weird not to twist around, craning my neck trying to see where I was going though.

I started the engine and heard a beefy, muffled roar. <shiver> And I took off out of the parking lot and into traffic. Driving in Delaware appears to be a series of left turns and the Infiniti maneuvered them with aplomb. It hugged the road on curves and the steering became tighter and tighter as I accelerated. The ride was smooth and comfortable, but I still knew I was driving a sports car.

Since we returned to New Jersey I’ve been looking for one of these cars on the road, to no avail. Okay, people! Where are the Infiniti G convertibles hiding?

The Infiniti G has a beautifully designed interior.

With this interior color?

What do you think of this exterior color?

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Filed under Infiniti G Series Convertible, new car