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Dear Natalie

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Sisters are a blessing. 

 

A Letter to My Sister:

My dear, loving, beautiful Natalie,

Happy Birthday. 10/10 will always be reserved as your day, a perfect 10 as a sister and the most perfect 10 of a person.

It seems like just yesterday we were goofing around on the phone about silly inside jokes and ending our last phone call with an “I love you” But at the same point, though that seems like just yesterday, the heaviness in my heart and the sadness of losing you has not subsided. Not at all. Though these past five months have been an absolute blur, I have read many letters about you. All are beautifully written and all are full of the most genuine love for you. Every single letter says that you had a light that shined so bright, that you encourage people, telling us what YOU did for THEM, and how your faith, positive attitude, and selflessness made you one of the most remarkable people any of them would ever meet.

I often wonder about how you thought of yourself while you were here. Did you have any idea how incredible you were? Did you have any idea how many people love you? Do you know how many sleepless nights have been spent thinking about you, with thoughts consumed with how this cannot make sense, that Natalie- the one who was so reliable, so dependable, so responsible, is gone? Do you know how comforting it was to know that I could always call you and tell you anything? Did you know that you were the one thing in life that I was 100% confident on to be with me through anything life threw me?  I bet you know now, and I can guarantee you do not like seeing the tears and hearts that ache for you. You were the one to offer such good advice. You were the one that no matter how much the world did not make sense, no matter how upside down everything seemed to turn, you offered comfort and reason. But we are all different because of you. We are all better because of you. Do you know how many lives are changing because of you? Did you ever have any idea, that by you simply thinking of yourself less, in turn made others think more of you? Do you know how many people tell me that every day they think about how “Natalie would handle this”, I mean seriously Natalie did you have any idea just how much your smile had an impact on everyones day? I can say with confidence that if you were here with me today, and I told you that this many people love you and care about you and want to live like you, you would say something nice about each person. You would probably have a story about each person, a “Remember When”, or you just simply would not believe that you could change people’s lives just by being you.

If I told you that people were making positive changes with you as the reason behind it, you would just be happy to know that more people are being kind, you would be excited to hear about everyone’s accomplishments. You inspire all of us, Natalie. So many people look up to political figures and label those who run companies “leaders”, but unknowingly, you are the best leader we all know. There are not enough leaders out there like you. There are not enough leaders who are advocates for caring, not enough leaders in kindness, not enough leaders who lead us to be better.  There are simply not enough people to remember birthdays, to send notes to cheer people up, to support and truly care about another. You could have done anything, and you did. And everywhere you went, you made an impact. You changed people because you believed in them. If everyone in this world had only 10% of the confidence and faith you had in each one of us, we would all be the best version of ourselves. You are inspiring people all over the country, people that do not even know you. How lucky am I to call you my big sister. How did our little humble family in Buffalo, NY end up having 24 beautiful years with such a wonderful person? You absolutely are an angel, and although it cuts deep down to my core when I think about how I cannot see you and call you and hug you and just be in your presence again, I feel a passion in my soul to carry out what you would have if you were here.

They say time makes it easier. It does not. There is nothing easy about losing my best friend, sister, role model and confidant wrapped up into one. What time does is it makes it less immediate. But, Natalie, I want to keep you immediate just as you would be if you were around. I will do anything to keep your spirit alive. At your funeral, I made a promise to you that I will live out your generosity, your selflessness, your smile, and your love. You are in every breath I take, every beat of my heart, every choice I make, every kind deed I do, every smile I wear, every sacrifice I offer up, every tear I wipe, and every hug I give. You are the motivation to do better, you are the will to do and become more. You are the most beautiful person I have ever had the privilege of knowing and although I cannot physically give you a birthday present every year anymore, I will give you a gift everyday as everyone who is changing their lives because of you will as well. We will give you the gift of showing you a world as you envisioned it. Seeing the glass half full instead of empty, finding beauty in small things, going out of our way for those we love, sharing words when encouragement is needed, and reminding each other that “we are all human and doing the best we can”. No matter how old I get, I will never stop looking up to you. I love you so much, and miss you and your excitement for life, and the feeling of completeness you gave me. We are all praying for you and thinking of you every single day, and we will never stop. Our family is missing it’s leading light. We are all trying to be the best we can be. Thank you for everything you made me, and everything you are allowing me to become through you.

Your little sister,

Caroline

 

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“It seems that life is always ready with a challenge just when we think everything is going along fine. Please know that whatever comes along, I am right by your side… When you are strong, you will have my admiration… When you are weak and afraid, I will hold your spirit in my heart and send you all the prayers and love I have… When you are overwhelmed with choices, I will be there to support the decisions that only you can make… When you have doubts, I will acknowledge them and  then relight the candle of hope with you”

 

Candy Cake

The finished candy cake. Lots of fun and easy to make.

The finished candy cake. Lots of fun and easy to make. I added some of the extra candy on the bottom on the cake stand for easy pickings. 

It’s Spring! It’s time to celebrate. We got Mother’s Day. First Communions. Graduations. Weddings. Showers. Fundraisers. Birthdays. You name it; we have to reason to celebrate. I wanted to try something festive and fun combining colors and candy. Candy cake! Why not a candy cake? Makes a statement and a great centerpiece for a party.

All you need to do is go to the Dollar Tree and buy some foam cut outs. Of course, make sure you have lots of candy, a ribbon and lots of glue for your glue stick.

All you need to do is go to the Dollar Tree and buy some foam cut outs. Of course, make sure you have lots of candy, a ribbon and lots of glue for your glue stick. Stack up the foam pieces and figure out how you want to decorate the layers with candy.

Just a tad of glue from your glue gun holds the candy perfectly in place. Use all different sizes and  various candy.

Just a tad of glue from your glue gun holds the candy perfectly in place. Use all different sizes and various candy.

Top with a colorful bow or artificial flowers. Use your imagination. Enjoy! The cake is certain to bring a smile on everyones face.

Top with a colorful bow or artificial flowers. Use your imagination. Enjoy! The cake is certain to bring a smile on everyones face.

 

 

Engagement Party

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The goal of an engagement party is to introduce the two families and get the ball rolling on the wedding plans.

 

The happy couple pre party. Natalie prepared all the food herself.

The happy couple pre party. Natalie prepared all the food herself.

 

A surprise engagement for the bride to be...surrounded by her friends and sister who kept it a secret from her.

A surprise engagement for the bride to be…surrounded by her friends and sister who kept it a secret from her.

 

Of course she did!

Of course she did!

 

The actual engagement took place February 1, 2014 at Maymont Park. Michael arranged to have all of Natalie's best friends in Richmond there.

The actual engagement took place February 1, 2014 at Maymont Park. Michael arranged to have all of Natalie’s best friends in Richmond there.

 

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A glimpse at the food spread.

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Cut out cookies were served for desserts with the engagement cake and vanilla ice cream.

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Flowers all around add beauty.

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After the gifts, they let me take one more picture.

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Little mini mint tins were ordered with the name of the couple and date of the proposal.

 

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The glasses are ready to be filled with champagne for the toasts.

Traditionally the bride -to- be family hosts an engagement party a couple months after the proposal. We were psyched. We were ready to host. The groom to be family was also thrilled. This was a celebration of love and commitment between a treasured couple. My husband cleaned the baseboards and our son cleaned the windows and the ceilings. Nothing like a party to get the house sparkling clean. The appetizers were assorted veggies with dip, tortilla chips with guacamole, texas caviar, and salsa. Mini caprese salad bites. Toasted crostinis with balsamic strawberries and goat cheese, avocado egg rolls, pot stickers and shrimp with cocktail sauce. The main course was pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, Waldorf chicken salad sandwiches, Carved turkey breast, field green salad, mini twice baked potato poppers, and season fresh fruit. The dessert was engagement cake, vanilla ice cream and cut out cookies. Too much. Too good. All made by the bride to be who also is a culinary expert on the side. We are loving the left overs. The highlight of the evening were the toasts. The champagne popped opened and the cheers began. The feel good attitude you and both families are left with was worth the effort and more. We could not be any happier. Our beautiful daughter Natalie and future son in law Michael are as good as it gets. If you are interested, I invite you to follow along on this blog as the wedding plans continue. Cheers!

Keep On Telling The Family Stories

 

Here's to family stories that are passed from one generation to the next.

Here’s to family stories that are passed from one generation to the next. Here are the children of Mary McMahon Mattimore. These 5 have produced 23 children and countless grandchildren. I lost count. Plus we have great grandchildren now to add to the numbers.

 

There is something comforting in hearing the same stories over and over. I mean, we all rolled our eyes when we were teens but now I just sit back and relish and smile at hearing them. In our family, there are a few “classics.” It all started with John McMahon. As a young lad, he left Ireland for the United States of America; an unfriendly place for the Irish. No one was hiring the Irish. From Ellis island to working on the Erie canal and onto Buffalo to find work. He lost his best friend to illness along the way and searched for a place to settle. John endured and walked to Ellicottville, NY where the Irish were being hired. He found love and 7 children later (those who lived) -one is my grandmother Mary McMahon Mattimore. Folks, if you think driving to Ellicottville is a big deal try walking it in 1800’s.

Baseball stories abound around the table. Michael Mattimore was a ball player and my dad received a letter to try out for the Boston Red Soxs. Yes, we have the letter framed.  Jane McMahon dated a professional baseball player named  Tris Speaker –until religion got in the way. He was a Mason, she a Catholic. No mixed marriages back them. Cousin Kay Daly married baseball legend Ray Chapman (shortstop for the Cleveland Indians remains the only major league baseball player to die from an injury while playing) and had his baby after he was killed by the Yankee pitch. Unfortunately the baby did not survive. Aunt Kate who lived with the Mattimore family on McCamley Street growing up in South Buffalo was a “softie.” The sister of our grandmother who never married lived with her family and helped with the children. When the kids would walk home for lunch while attending Holy Family School, she would let them stay home and not return to school. Stories of the handsome men in their uniforms, women and their recipes and songs song kept our dinner table warm. I’m just scratching the surface here with our family stories. Share the stories. Someday your kids will ask again “wait, what was that story you use to tell?”

 

Mattimore Family Singers

 

 

Looking For A Chocolate Poodle?

Get off the Silver Creek exit and treat yourself to the uniqueness of Valvo's Candy and Cement.

Get off the Silver Creek exit and treat yourself to the uniqueness of Valvo’s Candy and Cement.

When you live in Buffalo and want chocolate, you think of the big 3 candy makers. Watson, Fowlers and Parkside. You can’t go wrong. After all, they all excel in packaging, store locations and quality. Great chocolate! But, humm, I was not able to find a chocolate poodle for my Easter basket until I drove to Silver Creek and looked for the large female “Big Boy”  larger than life statuette. (That’s the best way I can think of to describe it)

There she was on Routes 5 and 20 and 5 and dime is what this store reminds me of exactly. You want a cement figure of an alligator? You got it. You want a solid chocolate ballerina? You got it. Valvo’s is best described in pictures. Reminiscent of the past, the candy is jammed all over the store and you can’t help but be enamored by it all. Huge chocolate rabbits. I must say, the chickens looked the most appealing sitting in their baskets. I simply can’t describe it all; it’s best just to have the pictures tell the story. I did find it peculiar to find a Blessed Mother chocolate statue. Would you want to bite her head off? No way. It might be the first piece of chocolate I would not be able to eat. Visit Valvo’s. It’s one crazy place.

Folks, how about a chocolate Blessed Mother? Horse? Poodle or Chicken? Would you call it unique or odd?

Folks, how about a chocolate Blessed Mother? Horse? Poodle or Chicken? Would you call it unique or odd?

 

Finally, I the poodle walker have found a chocolate poodle for my Easter basket.

Finally, I the poodle walker have found a chocolate poodle for my Easter basket.

I simply cannot describe how peculiar yet folksy this store is without pictures.

I simply cannot describe how peculiar yet folksy this store is without pictures.

The chickens were the most appealing. They are sitting in baskets like they would in a hen house.

The chickens were the most appealing. They are sitting on eggs like they would in a hen house.

 

 

Hello Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Evan meets Dr. Sanjay Gupta at UB on March 26, 2014.

Evan meets Dr. Sanjay Gupta at UB on March 26, 2014.

Natalie and Caroline meet Dr. Sanjay Gupta who said to do something everyday that scares you.

Natalie and Caroline meet Dr. Sanjay Gupta who said to do something everyday that scares you.

The best advice that Sanjay Gupta has ever received is to do something everyday that scares you. He knows it doesn’t always work out; “you might get fired from your job and the girl might say no but just give it a go.” He went on to say that we should try to become comfortable with pushing our limits and in forcing ourselves to become familiar with unfamiliar situation. That is the best way to get to know yourself.

Dr. Gupta talked about his mixing medicine and media. He still works as a neurosurgeon each week and still preforms surgery.  His first TV experience was scary, “which meant it was perfect for me.” He admits to not being very good on camera until his wife suggested he talk to the camera like it is a patient with the same words and expressions. Media and medicine are alike in many ways. They both require constant homework, both have the potential to improve and lengthen people’s lives, and both have credibility. He related how, on assignment for CNN in Afghanistan, he was called, in very primitive conditions, to save a life of a Marine whom had just been shot in his head was going to die. Dr. Gupta switched roles and immediately utilized a tent pitching drill and a sterile IV bag to remove the bullet from the soldier’s skull. Six months later, back in the United States, Dr. Gupta tracked down this marine, and they met again– in a poignant moment, while the Marine and his family thanked Dr Gupta for saving his life. When you have to save a life, you save a life.” Dr Gupta said later of his priority at the moment.  He added a fun fact: profession with the highest trust rate is nurses with 89%, doctors 69% and politicians 8%.

Much appreciation to UB for bringing in the good doctor for us to hear and be inspired. He was happy to pose for pictures and was fit and trim with a beaming smile to boot.

 

Sing Me Something Irish

My dad wasn't going to sing this song when his daughters were growing up but now since we are older "what the heck."

My dad wasn’t going to sing this song when his daughters were growing up since our mother would not allow those kind of songs sung, but now since we are older “what the heck.”

Folks, if you are lucky to grow up with loving father of Irish decent, you no doubt heard him sing the songs “Danny Boy” and “Irish Eyes Are Smiling” countless times. But there are a lot of Irish songs and ballads out there that I have never heard. So, I decided to ask my dad to sing me an Irish song that I don’t know…he joked that my mom would never allow it. Oh what the heck dad – go ahead- let me hear just one. Here we go – The Lady in Red song by my dad – Dr. Joseph Mattimore.

The actually words to the “Lady on Red’ – my dad was pretty close.

‘Twas a cold winter’s evening,
The guests were all leaving,
O’Leary was closing the bar,
When he turned round and said
To the lady in red,
“Get out, you can’t stay where you are!”

She shed a sad tear in her bucket of beer
As she thought of the cold night ahead,
When a gentleman dapper stepped out of the crapper
And these are the words that he said:

“Her mother never told her
The things a young girl should know,
About the ways of college men
And how they come and go.
Age has taken her beauty,
Sin has left its sad scar,
But remember your sisters and mothers, boys,
And let her sleep under the bar.

Celebrating the Ladies

In this past year, I have enjoyed, relished, appreciated the simple joy of enjoying a meal with some lovely ladies in my life. Friendship and laughter go hand and hand. A beautifully set table with flowers are an added finishing touch. Chances are a question is asked (advice on something, goal for each person, summary of the past season etc) and setting aside an intentional time to get together is really the best memory we can keep in our memory bank. Don’t make it a fundraiser! Good golly we all get invited to too many of those. Maybe it’s a birthday, engagement, or simply a “let’s do lunch” invitation – time together is the best medicine in enjoying life. Cheers my friends- Cheers!

Check out his fabulous menu at the Saturn Club in Buffalo. Fillet of beef with mushrooms, vegetables and greens. Notice the flowers and cookies.

Check out his fabulous menu at the Saturn Club in Buffalo. Fillet of beef with mushrooms, vegetables and greens. Notice the flowers and cookies. This was certainly a ‘die for” lunch but why wait – enjoy the company of your lady friends.

Hosting a gathering in your home is one way to get your to clean and adds a personal touch and comfort level.

Hosting a gathering in your home is one way to get your house clean and adds a personal touch and comfort level.

Fuss a little. Pull out the wedding gifts. Cheers to our friends and family. Life is so busy. Pause. Enjoy each other's company.

Fuss a little. Pull out the wedding gifts. Cheers to our friends and family. Life is so busy. Pause. Enjoy each other’s company.

 

 

Chill Buffalo

Chill Buffalo owner Anton Wopperer and manager Carolyn Ehmann.

Chill Buffalo owner Anton Wopperer and manager Carolyn Ehmann.

Chances are you would not have selected this winter to open a frozen yogurt shop. But on January 24, 2014 – Chill Buffalo opened at 2860 Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst. Owners Anton and Lisa Wopperer had the gumption to research all the ins and outs of the frozen yogurt business and decided they had the courage and the spirit to open their own shop. They could have gone with the tried and true franchises but realized they could localize the whole operation. Whoa, that’s a lot of work. Selecting the logo, colors, the furniture, lighting, tiles, flavors, toppings, menu; that’s a lot of decisions. Perry’s is the local distributor of the yogurt. Anton also owns a commercial roofing business so don’t expect him to have any free time this summer. He and his wife are also parents to 3 lively kids. It’s a great place to go after a sports game. Tonight I enjoyed a toasted coconut and carmel sea salt twist combo with chocolate sauce and a variety of nuts. The blue polka dot cups filled with the good stuff were averaging about 3 to 4 dollars each. Chill man. I was chilling and digging. I know we are have been chilling a lot this winter but this chilling was in a comfortable white chair and I was digging into all the tasty flavors.

Manager Carolyn Ehmann helps a fellow Allegheny College graduate how the yogurt flows.

Manager Carolyn Ehmann helps a fellow Allegheny College graduate how the yogurt flows. Carolyn is friendly and professional and so is her customer. Go Gators.

Another look at the blue tile. A unique look found at Chill Buffalo.

Another look at the blue tile. A unique look found at Chill Buffalo. Not a franchise. A look the owners created.

 

 

Ambush Makeover

In Ambush Makeover, producers search for a lucky lady to re-do who is kind and giving with no time for herself. This lovely lady typically has not kept her appearance up because she is too busy giving to others in need. The loved ones are always surprised when the selected lady appears with fashionable clothes, highlighted hair and beautifully applied make up. As a special treat, today we have selected 2 very lucky ladies indeed. Rory, a 3 year old pedigree standard white poodle and Lucy Marie, a 1 year old cockapoo. Both ladies have neglected their looks during this long cold winter and have not properly brushed their coat. They had other things to do; for instance– barking at the mail carrier. Let me present to you the before and after pictures of the lucky ladies.

Rory and Lucy Marie age 3 and 1 neglected their beautiful coats due to the long and dismal winter.

Rory and Lucy Marie age 3 and 1 neglected their beautiful coats due to the long and dismal winter.

After a lovely day in the poodle salon, the ladies are cleaned and brushed and waiting for Spring weather.

After a lovely day in the poodle salon (aka Petsmart), the ladies are cleaned and brushed and waiting for Spring weather. Rory immediately removes her bows upon exiting salon. Please accept out apology, she is not a bow dog.