A Smile Made My Day!

My day didn’t go as planned… it was so much better than I could have dreamed.

I awoke to a text from a friend informing me of a craft show being held in the quaint seaside town of Manasquan, NJ. Oh goodie! A craft show! I love craft shows. I hardly ever purchase anything, I just enjoy talking to the crafters about their product, the process, and if they are doing well.

The show was being held in Squan Plaza… which to my dismay Google Maps had no clue how to direct me. I found it any way… you can’t keep me away from a good craft show! As I drove up to the plaza, all the signs read CAR SHOW. Ugh! Was my friend crazy? A car show? Really? How could someone confuse the two? Well… it turned out they were correct… it was a Craft Show AND a Car Show, all rolled into one. Something for the men while the women shopped. Perfect.

As it turned out, my friend actually had a car in the show. His cherry red, immaculately cared for and well loved 2013 Shelby Mustang.

Tom and car

 

We were standing near the car when an adorable boy, about 10 years old and his mom timidly walked up to take a closer look. You could tell he wanted to ask something… so I leaned toward him and inquired, “Do you have a question”? Shyly he looked up to my friend and quietly asked, “Can you start it?” To which my friend replied, “I don’t usually start it up, but for YOU I will.” As the boy stood back a bit, my friend jumped in the driver’s seat, placed the key in the ignition and turned it over. The car rumbled to life!!!

WOW! That little boy’s face lit up brighter than the annual christmas tree in Rockefeller Center. I looked over at his smiling face, then looked over to my friend… smiling just as wide. In that special moment a little boy and a grown man who didn’t know each other, bonded over the sound of a loud engine. Ah…. boys and their toys… making a connection through the generations.

Oh how I wish I had my camera out and poised to take the shot so I could show you that moment. Silly me KNEW the boy would have a dazzling smile… who wouldn’t??? However I too was caught up in the moment. I will never forget it.

An adorable little boy with a huge genuine smile… made my day!!!

Times like this remind me we all impact each other in one way or another. A positive encounter with a stranger can change the way you look at life. So go on out in the world, and make someone’s day!!!

New Addiction! Treats by Eileen

You might remember last year I blogged about a local coffee roaster… ROOK COFFEE. It is still my #1 supplier of caffeine. I have graduated to a more intense flavor, substituting my safe choice of the Honduras bean to a more robust one from Guatemala. But now I have an AWESOME snack to go with my cup of joe! Granola… Vanilla Almond Gourmet Granola to be exact… made right here in Ocean, NJ by TREATS by EILEEN.

Treats by Eileen

 

I never would have discovered this delicious treat had I not made the decision to get out of the house for a change of scenery. I hit up Barnes and Noble… to read their magazines :-0… when a woman came in frantically looking for this month’s copy of Food and Wine. Apparently a friend of hers received her copy in the mail and reported there was a BLURB ¬†printed about Treats by Eileen. She wanted to read it for herself… and buy a bunch of copies… because SHE was Eileen… as is in ‘Treats by’.

Sadly the store still had last month’s issue on the shelf, but that didn’t stop us from thumbing through the issue any way ‘just in case’. Yes, I said ‘us’. Spurred on by her excitement I grabbed a copy and helped her look. It’s alway more gratifying to have someone to share your good news with… even a stranger.

I remember when the sign went up on the building of my very first bookstore… Chicklet Books. I was bursting with excitement… and there was no one to share the experience with. It was a let down of sorts… but just for a brief moment. So now… whenever I see an excited someone I step up and help celebrate the moment. THIS was one of those moments.

We sat on a bench in the magazine section and talked for a bit. Eileen shared her story about her Gourmet Granola. Her passion for her product and business just bubbled out of her. She’s been producing granola for over 30 years and is STILL excited about it. As she talked about the wholesome all natural ingredients, the soft feel against the palate when you bite down, the fact that she uses no sugar or honey… it made me hungry. When she mentioned her granola clumps and is more of a ‘cookie’ shape I perked up. Did she say COOKIE??? Now you’re talkin’… I could use a cookie right about now.

As we parted ways, I decided I just HAD to try this fantasy granola. I was planning on treating myself to a cup of ROOK coffee any way… and thought some granola would be a nice side treat.

Treats by Eileen is sold locally in Delicious Orchards, Sickles Market, and all of the Dean’s Markets… as well as other locations. Dean’s was close to my home… so off I headed first to Rook’s then onto Dean’s. I couldn’t WAIT to get home and taste what all the fuss was about.

OK… Eileen was right. Not only does the granola taste great… but the soft crunch is what makes this granola superior! I purchased the Vanilla Almond flavor and was happy with my choice. Roasted almonds mixed with stone ground whole wheat flour, oats, and a touch of maple syrup and vanilla… ahhhh… PERFECT!

Not only am I ‘keeping it local’, but healthy and natural too!!! Go me!!!

AND… for those of you not living locally… don’t worry… you can order online too. Go to their site… Treats by Eileen.

OH… and I just found out… if you are in a rush for your caffeine fix and don’t have the time to stand in line for the ’45 second pour’ of delicious coffee… you can TEXT your order and it will be ready when you arrive!!! To order their coffee online and get the text info check out their website… Rook Coffee.

While you’re at it… grab a book to read from The Paperback Exchange… and you are all set!

Have a wonderful day!

 

 

Rook Coffee Roasters… YUM!

My newest obsession is… ROOK COFFEE!!!

coffee

Apparently drinking a cup of coffee a day is supposed to alleviate a little health issue I am having. For years I have been a Dunkin Donuts girl… straying every so often to my local Starbucks for a change of taste. In the summer months I suck down Dunkin’s iced coffee like a Hoover (or should I say Dyson?).

Last week I had a conversation with a friend about a local brewery located up the street from me… Kane Brewing Company to be precise. I never knew it existed!!! I’m told they have some good beer and I should check it out some time. Googling (that’s a word… right?) Kane Brewing Company I read about a craft beer they named Morning Bell. Brewing it with a local coffee roasters’ full-bodied Sumatra bean… it has a slight coffee flavor.

Local coffee roasters?? I’m intrigued. I have seen the signs for ROOK COFFEE around town, but not being a coffee connoisseur… I paid no attention. Set in my coffee buying ways… it took months before finally… PING… the light bulb flipped on over my head. I remember making a pledge to myself to support small independently owned businesses as much as I could. Duh! I should check them out. Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks won’t miss my few dollars… I said to myself sheepishly.

So… I drove to the newest location in Town Center off West Park Ave… and walked in. Ahhh… the smell of fresh brewed coffee! Is there anything better to sniff on a cold, nasty, rainy day??? After a few questions… the girl behind the counter guided me to the Honduras Bean. I take cream and sugar in my coffee… I’m such a baby.

My first sip was pure heaven. Full bodied, smooth, and tasty hot coffee with a touch of sweet. It’s everything I ever wanted a good cup of coffee to be. You know how smooth a sip of silky hot chocolate goes down?? Well… this coffee slides down the same way.

Second sip? Just as smooth and wonderful.

I’ve gone back, and back, and back again. Every cup tasted the same. I’m so excited… my frequent buyer’s card should fill up with little ROOK stamps fast!

My taste buds have been educated. They now know what good coffee is supposed to taste like… and they won’t allow me to go back to the brown water francisers mistakenly call coffee.

I travel a lot and ROOK COFFEE ROASTERS is only local at the moment. They sell their beans, both in their retail locations and via the Internet… so I can brew the yummy elixir at home… but I can’t purchase a steaming hot cup on the road.

If I could change only ONE THING… I would ask that they re-think their choice of music in the retail location. Each time I visited the shop, I felt it was a bit jarring for someone who hasn’t had their first cup of coffee yet that morning ūüôā

Shopping LOCAL takes a little more effort… and sleuthing… but is so WORTH it!!! ¬†Give it a try in your own area.

Now that I have found the perfect cup of coffee… I will focus on finding the best mug of beer… starting at Kane Brewing Company.

 

Miss Liberty…Quilters Take Manhattan

You never know who you are going to run in to at a quilt show.

Miss Liberty - Meg Cox

Today while attending Quilt Fest in Somerset, NJ I bumped into Miss Liberty (AKA Meg Cox with a friend). Donned in her very own bed quilt, she greeted show attendees and informed them of the up coming QUILTERS TAKE MANHATTAN being held on September 20, 2014. The Quilt Alliance is looking forward to this 4th year being bigger and better than ever. More information and registration can be found HERE.

I have been a lucky volunteer for this event… and am thrilled to be volunteering again this year.

Now… to report on the quilt show itself. I’ll be honest… nothing grabbed my attention to report on. The winning quilts didn’t excite me either. Although a lot of attendees ‘ohhhed’ and ‘ahhhed’ at the top prize winners, I couldn’t get enthused. Not a huge fan of an over use of rhinestones on a finished quilt… I thought the winners used bling instead of talent to capture a judge’s attention.

I like glitter and sparkle as much as the next princess… but not on my quilts… unless a touch of sparkle enhances the design.

Another quilt that had me stop short… was a portrait of the Dalai Lama… at the bottom was attached a smaller rectangle quilted with Dorothy, the tin man, cowardly lion, and scarecrow of the Wizard of Oz. Huh??? I had to read the small print of the attached description revealing the message ‘follow your path’. I can honestly say I didn’t ‘get it’.

Word to the wise… Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

 

 

Passion!!!

Passion!!

 

I know this is the month of L-O-V-E… but I’m not talking about THAT kind of passion. I’m talking today about the kind of enthusiasm¬†some people display when they are excited about something.

I am constantly in AWE of people who show no fear or shame in sharing their passion to the outside world. Like the guy in Indiana who so strongly likes model airplanes that he has them mounted on 8 foot poles and plants them in is back yard… which can be seen from the highway. I’ve passed his plane numerous times on my travels from Kentucky to Arkansas, but never stopped to snap a picture for myself.

Model planes

Or the person in New Jersey who collects plastic rocking horses and fastens them to the chain link fence surrounding their corner property. Again… no photo, but I am sure you can use your imagination.

Or the man in New York so excited about his sewing he proudly shows it off by wearing a colorful creation around town.

Man in Quilted Coat

 

(Photo Credit for above by: Brandon Stanton. His book and Facebook blog… Humans of New York is AWESOME!!!)

These creative people are really no different from the families who outrageously decorate for Christmas… except their displays are permanent and personal instead of seasonal.

A few days ago I was traveling around the outskirts of Atlanta and got a wee bit lost. The area was beginning to look a little ‘sketchy’. I called on the all knowing Siri to help me back on the right path. She sent me down a narrow, twisty road in an old neighborhood, which to me looked like a dead end. When I spotted as UPS truck going in the same direction I calmed down. The road was flanked by older bungalows. ¬†Each home was unique. Cars and trucks parked on both sides of the street required my full attention so as not to side swipe any of them. All of a sudden the road came to a sharp left, then right, zigzag. As I turned the steering wheel to the left… I slammed on the brakes and stopped right there in the middle of the street. To my left was the most adorable house, fencing all around the property, draped in ¬†Mardi Gras¬†Beads!!! I just HAD to snap a photo (causing a traffic jam in the process).

House of BEADS

Wow! What passion! What a statement!! Look closely… they are even hanging from the ceiling fans! I don’t know WHAT message the homeowner is trying to convey… but the glittering beads caught my attention and made me smile. The house looks happy. I have to wonder if the people inside are fun loving party goers. One thing’s for sure… it is certainly easy to tell their house apart from all the others when giving directions.

I would love to paint a picture of this house… or at the very least the gate. If I could remember where I was, I would send the family a note with a copy of the painting letting them know how they brightened my day. Sadly… I have no clue where I was.

A wrong turn usually leads to an amazing adventure… and so far I have always found my way home ūüôā

What is YOUR passion?? Do you share it with the public somehow?

 

Chocolate with a capital “C”! – DP#29

Cacao

 

 

O!M!G! You have not had real chocolate until you’ve eaten a piece from Cacao of Atlanta!! That’s some SERIOUS chocolate!!!

This store is located in the posh little town of Virginia Highlands, GA. At first glance you might think the store is vacant. There is no wild window display and when you peek in from the street you don’t see shelves filled with cutesy chocolate displays. Oh heavens no!

What you DO see however is a tastefully decorated shop designed with acute attention to detail. Your first impression when you walk in is… OPULENCE! Marble counters, glass pedestals, gold foiled peanut butter cups, a macaroon tree, and an old fashioned french phone (which by the way sits next to the modern Apple computer).

But enough about the ambiance… let’s talk about the CHOCOLATE!!!

Every thing in the place is TOP NOTCH! From the sipping chocolate to the truffles. Cacao is proud to know the provenance of their Artisan Chocolate from the BEAN to the BAR. Their website has all the details at www.cacaoatlanta.com¬†so I won’t bore you with all the details… although I suggest you take a look yourself as it is pretty fascinating reading.

I had a difficult time deciding what to purchase. Did I want a few bars? Peanut Butter Cup? Truffles? Oh my, the decision was tough. I finally made the executive decision to get the Peanut Butter Cups. After all… you can NEVER go wrong with that combination.

Peanut Butter Cups

OK folks, I can wolf down an entire package of Peanut M & Ms faster than any one I know (We’re talkin’ the family size bag)… but this one Peanut Butter Cup was so rich and decadent it has to be savored one tiny bite at a time. Oh my! What an experience!

The chocolate melted as soon as it hit the warmth of my tongue. The buttery flavor burst out, followed by pure, rich, chocolate. Heavenly!!! Mmmmmm…. mmm!

Some day soon, when I need to treat myself, I will order some truffles online and have them sent to my home. (AHEM: To all interested persons… a reminder that my birthday is just around the corner in case you want to surprise me).

If you find yourself in the enviable position of trying to decide which chocolate to choose from Cacao Atlanta… might I suggest you NOT settle on the Peanut Butter Cup. Although it was absolutely delicious… I felt there was no need for the peanut butter (kind of like gilding a lily) and would have preferred to eat a solid bar as my first experience.

Thanks to the awesome techie world we live in… I can vividly see my future. It’s a snowy cold winter morning, the plows haven’t cleared my street yet, and I’m sipping a hot, steamy mug of chocolate from Cacao Atlanta. Life is good!

Here A Bentley… There A Bentley – DP#26

Here a BENTLEY…

Chromed Out Bentley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There a BENTLEY…

Black Bentley

 

Everywhere a BENTLEY, BENTLEY!!!!

I don’t know about y’all… but I can honestly say I have never in my life seen a Bentley ‘in the flesh’ before. Now… within just a few days I have seen 2!!!

I live in BMW land. Everyone and their maid seems to drive a black or dark blue BMW in my hood… except me and a few neighbors who live on the poor side of the lake. In my search for a new ride I have been looking at a BMW 128i convertible. One major thing holding me back is the fear of not being able to pick my car out of all the other BMWs in a parking lot.

Seeing the Bentleys was thrilling! The first one was awkwardly parked in a shopping mall lot. WOW… Was it ever CHROMED out!!! It was difficult to photograph without getting my reflection too. Automobile eye candy at it’s best.

Since it is totally CHROME and reflects the surroundings… I didn’t notice it at all… kind of STEALTH. Thank heavens for my eagle eye nephew who spotted it. I would have loved to see it in motion on the road. I would bet dollars to donuts other drivers have a hard time seeing it. How many miles do you think it can travel without getting hit? I guess it’s more of a ‘showroom’ vehicle.

The black Bentley was parked rightfully so in front of The Ritz Carlton (yes, I’ve been hangin’ with the ‘in’ crowd lately). As impressive as this black beauty was… I liked the Chrome one better.

This all reminds me of a conversation I had a few years back with a friend. He’s a car connoisseur, with a deep appreciation for architecture. A while back he wanted to purchase some AWESOME vehicle with beautifully designed headlights, and asked his wife since it was such a work of art if he could park the car in the living room. Of course she replied, “H-E- Double Hockey Sticks NO!”

I gotta tell ya… I am NOT a car fanatic; however I DO appreciate a nicely designed piece of ¬†art. I would have answered, “Yes”… especially if it was a Chromed out Bentley.

What’s the most AWESOME car you have ever seen??? Would YOU allow a beautiful car to be parked in your living room?

Turn Right At The Big Chicken – DP#25

Big Chicken

 

Asking for directions this afternoon I was told… “Turn right at the next intersection, drive straight for a while and then turn right at the big chicken.”

“The big chicken?”, I asked.

“Yes… you know… the big chicken.”

I didn’t want to appear stupid, and I know what a chicken looks like… so off I went. I figured I would know it when I saw it. Well… obviously you can’t miss it!!! It is a HUGE chicken… which announces a Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food stop. And it’s ANIMATED!!! The eye rolls around as the beak opens and closes. The most brazen thing I noticed was right smack in the center of Coca-Cola country… this chicken proudly displays a Pepsi logo. IN YOUR FACE COKE!!!

If I were hungry I probably would have stopped in to grab a bite… the marketing genius having lured me in. However… I had a delightful lunch with a new friend in a retro, coca-cola loving Rexall Drug store… now named Rexall Grill.

 

Rexall Menu

 

The food was down home country goodness. I ordered a coke, and the BBQ with a side of Butter Peas (NOT beans… but peas I was corrected). They tasted like beans to me ūüôā My friend ate the homemade meatloaf with a side of slaw. ¬†Served on plastic Coca-Cola plates. YUMMMM!!!

IMG_2725

Thank GOD I’m a country girl!!! Speaking of that… I have always HATED ¬†Country Music… with a PASSION!!! Any time I would hear the ‘twang’ of a country singer I would cringe as if hearing a cat fight under my bedroom window. But now that I have been in the south for a few weeks I’m kinda warming up to it. I actually purchased a song from iTunes and downloaded it to my computer!!! ‘Knee Deep’ by Zac Brown Band. The lyrics are about being at the sea, down by the water and the calming feeling of it.

Hmmm… Homesickness???

McLoone’s Asbury Park – DP#10

McLoone's Asbury Park

 

How many of my old friends and family remember the Howard Johnson’s on the Asbury Boardwalk? Well now it’s McLoone’s Asbury Grille (yes, with an ‘e’). I had a blast to my past this evening as I attended a fund raiser for CABERET FOR LIFE… with a stunning performance by a neighbor from across the lake, Felix Truex.

The food was fabulous, the wait staff a bit on the slow side, the table conversation delightful, and the entertainment stupendous!

The photo this evening was of my martini glass. I ordered a Cosmopolitan which was served perfectly in an iced shaker. However I was a bit confused as to why the McLoone’s logo was backwards, until I took a sip and realized the genius behind the madness. The logo is perfectly readable when you drink!!! How clever.

Felix’s program was ‘spot on’ with some familiar tunes by Billy Joel, to others I have not had the pleasure of hearing before. A song about FAMILY nearly brought me to tears.

And to top it off, I was told by someone I didn’t know that I lit up the room with my smile and made his night enjoyable. How’s that for an evening of fun??