Category Archives: New Jersey

Spring in Northern New Jersey: Snow

The snow came down thick and fast this morning.

This past weekend was gorgeous weather-wise, a little nippy but sunny and hopeful feeling, like winter was gone. Not so much. I woke up this morning to snow. The first full day of spring in my Northern N.J. world and the snow is falling thick and fast. I raced outside to rescue the pot of herbs I had just cleaned up, watered and put outside on my back steps just yesterday. I covered my strawberry pots with an umbrella-like cloche and will keep my fingers crossed.. The hostas and astilbes I planted? They will likely survive. The two kinds of heirloom poppy seeds? Not likely. The lettuces? We’ll see.

This cloche operates like an umbrella; let's hope it keeps the plants in the strawberry pots I showed you yesterday nice and warm!

That’s what I get for rushing the season. You’d think I would have learned by now. I mean, I’ve lived in New Jersey, Northern New Jersey, for more than 25 years. I should know that spring around these parts is unpredictable, kinda like a two-year-old in a department store: Here one minute. Hiding under the women’s clothes rack the next.

P.S. I was so distraught at the snowfall that I videoed it. I know. I know. It sounds like I need a vacation. . .in a warm place. Anyway, if you like snow falling, take a look at the video to the right under “My World in Photos.” And yes, that is my depressed voice you hear!



Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, New Jersey, Snow and Snowstorms, Uncategorized, weather

Fernandes II Steakhouse: We’re Still Full!


Every table is filled in this huge, three-story restaurant every time we eat there. It attracts mostly large family groups that come for the festive atmosphere and tasty food. We typically call two weeks in advance to get a prime-time table reserved, and although it’s pricey, we definitely think Fernandes II is worth it when we want to celebrate an occasion; last night, we celebrated my son Max’s last night home before heading back to Big Ten College.

Waiters carve and serve BBQ meats tableside.

Fernandes is famous for its rodizio, a fixed price, all-you-can-eat meat fest; waiters carry huge skewers of different kinds of grilled meat and even bigger carving knives tableside and slice portions onto your plate; they just keep coming back with filet, pork, lamb, sausage, sirloin and more until you finally wave them off. My husband Mike and Max ate the meat fest meal last night. Mike looked like he was in a meat coma by the time he had tucked into his last sausage!

Take a look at the photos to see what the rest of us ordered and ate. And yes, some of us, who will remain nameless, ordered dessert too!

I ordered the spicy shrimp; check out my portion of rice in the bowl to the left of my plate!

My sister Cindy ordered a steak; those homemade potato chips are the bomb!

My daughter Tory ordered the garlic, mushroom, spice chicken. Tasty, tasty, tasty!

My brother-in-law Bid ordered steak and lobster tail. Tender and delish, nothing was left on his plate!

My niece Moriah ordered this steak; it comes on a bamboo plank with a lit stove underneath; she cooked her steak just the way she wanted it!

1 Comment

Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Family, Fernandes II Steakhouse, Fine Dining, Food, New Jersey

Northern New Jersey: The Happy Gardener

7 bags of garden debris in 8 hours over two days. . .and I've just begun the cleanup.

This afternoon was a great time to get some more spring garden cleanup done. The sun was shining. A slight breeze was blowing. The birds were singing. All was right with my world. I spent four hours raking, pruning and “Preen”ing a few areas of my garden. I also replanted a couple of shrubs that somehow hopped out of the ground when I wasn’t looking and winter was doing its freeze/thaw cycle.

Do garden centers sell corn gluten where you live?Hey, do you use Preen? It’s a pre-emergent herbicide that prevents weed seeds from germinating. I would rather use corn gluten, which serves the same purpose and is an organic approach to boot, however, try finding corn gluten when you live about 20 minutes from New York City.

Tonight is a special night, my family of four is meeting my sister and her husband for dinner at Fernandes II, a Basque restaurant in Newark (that’s ‘New erk,’ as in Jersey, not ‘New ark’ as in Delaware). I think my niece will be there too with Baby Nathaniel. Good food! Good company! Good time!

Leave a comment

Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Baby Nathaniel, Family, Fine Dining, garden cleanup, New Jersey

It’s Show Time: Filming in My Neighborhood

Would you rent your house out to a film crew?

Do you live in a town where some residents make large sums of money by renting their homes out to production companies that film movies, commercials and the like? Sounds like a great opportunity, right? My town earns a fee every time a production company comes to town.

Our doorbell has been rung four different times by a scout looking for the “perfect” location to film. I never had to make up my mind how I really felt about the whole thing since we never ended up being the “perfect” location; however, I can say that every time this scout rang our bell or left a phone message then stopped by, I invited him in, he made his pitch, took a few photos and then he asked to use our toilet. I showed him where our bathroom was the first time, but the next three times he didn’t need any direction at all. He remembered. After each of his visits I scrubbed the toilet thoroughly and completely. I’m like that. If you know me, you know I speak the truth.

No benefit to loaning my toilet.

Not too long ago the same scout left a phone message asking if he could stop by to look at our house again. I didn’t return call number five. Call me slow but after mulling it over for a while I am convinced our home is just a pit stop and I’m tired of cleaning the toilet thoroughly and completely every time the scout leaves.

Anyway, I digress. I’m sure it is exciting and lucrative if you are the homeowner who is hosting the filming; however, for the rest of us, your neighbors, it’s not much fun at all.

Today I woke up to large white trucks idling in my next-door-neighbor’s driveway; the street choked with out-of-state cars, trucks and vans; a police officer who was supposed to be directing traffic sitting in his car instead; and vehicles parked veryclose to the end of all the driveways in the area. In addition, it was pouring rain.

Some of the crew's vehicles.

Ready, set, ACTION!

Guess what? A production company is filming at my next-door neighbor’s house today. We did not receive notification ahead of time (as our local ordinance states we should and as we typically do) so I was completely unprepared for the mayhem and foolishness a shoot brings to our neighborhood. Even though we are an “experienced neighborhood” (Our across-the-street neighbors have hosted at least five production company shoots over the years they’ve lived in their house.), I still like to be notified ahead of time so I can plan accordingly. For example, we wouldn’t have scheduled the Verizon repairman to come today. The poor repairman who fixed our dead telephone line had zero visibility into and out of our driveway and no help from the cop who was hired to direct traffic (the cop sat in his car out of the rain instead).

Anyway, I stayed away as long as I could, but once I was home again. I noticed a few things:

(1) The spotlight trained on my next-door neighbor’s side window throws off a lot of light; my kitchen is bathed in reflected glory.

No need to turn on the lights in my kitchen today.

(2) The big white truck that’s parked about 6” from one of my large holly trees was idling its engine when I left at 9:30 a.m. and it’s still idling at 5 p.m.; what are the odds that the heat from the truck’s engine will scorch the holly branches next to it?

Will the holly trees be scorched by the heat off the truck's radiator?

(3) Men, working men, talk in really loud voices; it sounds like these guys are in my kitchen, standing next to me.

Gee, I wonder if it’s a two-day shooting schedule?


Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Filming, New Jersey, Rain

Chuck the To Do List and Start a Spring Garden Cleanup

Dr. K's fingers flew today. It was a positive sign!

This morning I went to my beloved dentist Dr. K for a checkup. I was fully prepared to be hooked, poked and generally put through my pain paces for a good 30 minutes as he scraped, buffed and polished me back to some semblance of toothy perfection. It didn’t happen that way though. He had two toothy emergencies, so I was in and out in 15 minutes. Half the time!

It was a sign! A positive sign!

When I pulled in our driveway a weak sun was shining. I walked to the rear yard and saw my son Max diligently digging up the two old rose bushes, just as I had requested earlier in the week.

Another sign! Another positive sign!

Felco #5 clippers, a hand rake and leaf bags: My tools of choice!

I looked up at the sun. I felt the breeze on my cheeks. And I knew. I knew what I was supposed to do! I tossed on an old vest and a pair of gardening gloves, grabbed my #5 Felcos and a small hand rake and began to de-leaf the garden beds around where Max was working. My “To Do” List could wait! I seized the good weather day and started my spring cleanup! Yes!!

One hour.

I cleared the leaves from under the spirea. The open spot in front of the downspout is where my new climbing rose will live!

Two hours.

The tree peony is budding up and the worms are jumping! Spring is coming!

Three hours.

The hosta debris around the chiminea was formidable!

Time kept pace with the rhythm of my clippers.

It only took a few minutes to plant some radish, bean and lettuce seeds in the cold frame.

It got colder as the sun disappeared, but I kept going: I clipped dried astilbe stalks, flopped over mum branches, smushed into the ground hosta leaves, and more. I used my trusty hand rake, the one my Dad bought me a million years ago at the dollar store, to tease oak leaves out from around the tree peonies, under the boxwoods, around the spirea. The breeze on my cheeks was colder, much colder, but I kept going. Four bags of yard stuff later I reluctantly stopped.

Inside my little greenhouse, a prostrate rosemary plant somehow mysteriously grew; it's the plant on the right. It's huge. . .and happy in the unheated greenhouse.

I’m kinda stiff, but I have a smile on my face. Spring is coming to Northern New Jersey, my friends! And I can’t wait!!

1 Comment

Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Dentist, Family, Felco #5 clippers, garden cleanup, hand rake, New Jersey, prostrate rosemary, raised garden beds, Spring, spring cleanup, Sunshine, teeth

Spring in Northern New Jersey: It’s Coming!

Take a look at the sky from under the pergola; that's a Texas purple wisteria on it.

Today the weather is mild here in Northern New Jersey so I took my Nikon D90 out into the yard to see if I could find signs of spring approaching. And, thankfully, the answer is “yes, I did.” It’s been a very long, snowy, ugly, back breaking winter around here and I want to see the end of it. Now.

Snowdrops and witch hazels pop out at about the same time in my yard!

Don't the snowdrops look ballerinas in their white, white tutus?

The witch hazel looks like a party on a branch!

With the sun warm on my back and my feet snug in waterproof boots I meandered around, listening to the cardinal sing and the breeze blow through the dried hydrangea flower heads. I wish you were here walking with me. It’s heartening to see the buds starting to swell on the dogwood tree

The dogwoods are cautiously optimistic spring is coming.

and climbing hydreangeas,

The climbing hydrangeas are slowly, but surely waking up.

the bulbs fighting their way through the cold, cold soil

Bulbs are some of the first harbingers of Spring!

including the stalwart daffies!

and the first leaves of the chrysanthemum open.

Spring green is an evocative color name, don't you think?



Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, gardening, New Jersey, Nikon D-90, Photography, Spring

Jersey Shore: Family Fun in the Sun

In families there are planners and there are people who just show up. I love my husband Mike’s sisters and their spouses. I love them because they love to plan, vacations in particular. In my family, I am typically the mover and shaker so spending time with my husband’s family gets me a two-fer: spending time with people I like and not having to plot the when/where of what we actually do.

We will spend a week AT the Jersey Shore, not BE the Jersey Shore.

Next up for this branch of the family? My sister-in-law Betsy and her husband, Uncle Phil, are scouting houses so we can all spend a week at the Jersey shore together. No. Not that “Jersey Shore.” I can assure you that our family get-together in August will not resemble what happens to the cast of the “Jersey Shore,” well not exactly anyway. I mean, we are a lot tamer as fifty-somethings than we were back in the day.



Captain Underpants will likely make an appearance again this summer.

Yes. Our family DOES have a Captain Underpants. He will remain nameless.



But we won’t be out all night drinking and partying. We will start our evenings with dinner at 7 and likely be tucked into bed by midnight, 1 a.m. at the latest.


We have moved beyond this. . .I THINK.

Yes, there will be dancing, just probably not on tabletops.

Except for our older kids.

Yeah. They just might pick up where my husband Mike and his sisters left off.

Family tradition and all.

1 Comment

Filed under Adventures of a Middle Age Mom, Family, Jersey Shore, New Jersey, Uncategorized, Vacation