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Hey, Do You Want To Meet For Breakfast?

 

Aww breakfast. It’s drilled into us that it is the most important meal of the day, yet many of us skip it. Busy. Rush. Race to work. I’ll grab something at my desk. I understand. But I also am going to give you 5 Reasons To Meet Someone For Breakfast. I have more than 5 reasons. The number one reason for me is because it was our beloved Natalie’s favorite meal. Maybe it was all the early morning swim practices, maybe it was her love of eggs, pancakes, and sausage, or maybe it was because she was so full of life and love and was always so ready to seize the day. Natalie knew the best places to go for breakfast in Richmond and she sure knew them in Buffalo too. What an exceptional breakfast Natalie made us every Christmas morning for as long as she could grab a step stool and mix the eggs in a bowl with her daddy. It wasn’t long until Natalie took over as lead chef and upgraded from omelets to egg frittata. Preparing meals for us was another shining example that we are on earth to serve others and enjoy meals together.

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If you are wondering why I am so happy in this picture it is because I am sitting across from Natalie and the conversation and laughter always just flowed. photo credit: Natalie Lewis


5 Reasons To Meet Someone For Breakfast

 

#1. It’s Cheap

Let me be more discreet – It is relatively inexpensive. There is no paying for cocktails except for coffee. Well, I have been known to upgrade to a latte. You may get lucky and have free coffee refills. There are no expensive appetizers or dessert. Most meals are $7.00. Omelets and pancakes are my top 2 choices on the menu. The thing I like about pancakes is they always taste better in a restaurant (especially Pancake Restaurants!) and you don’t have to mess up your own kitchen. Somehow there is always extra batter in my bowl. Somehow the first batch never turns out. The bottom line is -order pancakes out- it’s easier!

2. It’s Simply Delicious

Pancakes. Omelets. Brunch. Oatmeal with the fixings. Fresh brewed coffee. French toast. Waffles. Blueberries. It suits all types of eaters. Gluten free, vegetarian, paleo, carnivorous, and the ever popular no-restriction dieters.

3. It’s Fast. No Strings Attached

You can meet someone and not feel any pressure to do anything afterwards. After all, we all have to get the day started and we all have something else to do and someplace to go. We are off and running. The no pressure and the no expectations of anything happening after is a real benefit. No doubt great for dating or getting to know someone. Also, service is fast. It’s an energetic meal and the pace and energy are appealing.

4. It Gets the Day Started Right

Do you know how great it is to meet someone out? Fellowship. Friendship. Relationships. We are all so much better off as humans getting out the door and connecting, supporting, and seeing people out. When you leave the restaurant, I promise you that you will feel so much better not only because your belly is filled but because you are sharing stories, experiences, and connecting with a family member, friend, new acquaintance or business contact.

5. There Are So Many Places To Go

No doubt you have a favorite place to go. Maybe it’s a Sunday tradition to go out to breakfast after mass. That is my kind of tradition. Look at how many amazing breakfast places we have in Buffalo alone. Kostas. Sophia’s. Ashkers. Spot. Sweetness 7 Cafe. The choices are unlimited.

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Here she is…Natalie getting ready to dive into her favorite breakfast at Weezie’s Kitchen in Richmond, Virginia. Natalie was not a coffee drinker. She never needed it. She woke up early and was ready to go with a big smile on her face.

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A few years ago Natalie said to me..I always wanted to go to Hershey, Pa. I’m so thankful we went together. Here she is getting ready to eat another delicious breakfast at our B&B.

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Sure we all like to eat at local restaurants but chains such as Panera and Corner Bakery Cafe offer some great choices.

The last Christmas breakfast Natalie prepared for us. Serving others folks. Keep giving. Just keep giving.

The last Christmas breakfast Natalie prepared for us. Serving others folks. Keep giving. Just keep giving and loving.

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One Gorge-Ous Day

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One new adventure a month. It’s our new goal.

      Maybe it’s this incredible appreciation we have now of being able to breath, walk, live, and love. Or perhaps it’s life itself and having each other. Maybe? No, it is just that. We are not the same and the message is urgent to experience life and love each other. We have set out on a new goal of experiencing a new adventure each month to push ourselves to live life to the fullest and never waste time putting things off. Nothing extravagant. Just something new to heighten our senses. This past Sunday we went to Seneca Lake and hiked Watkins Glen and I’m hear to tell you the tale. First, let me confess, despite living in Buffalo all my life…I am embarrassed to say I have never been to Watkins Glen. What the heck is wrong with me?? They say it’s one of the top 3 State Parks in the USA. Again I repeat- I have never been to Watkins Glen and my husband has never been either! What?! We decided that we both thought of it as home of NASCAR races and that wasn’t our thing. But it is so much more! There’s a Ben & Jerry’s! And it’s so close! And it should be experienced. It’s the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks. Now, if you go on map quest and the driving distance to Watkins Glen from Buffalo is 2 hours and 28 minutes….why do we all look at that and think we somehow failed if it takes us longer? Who cares? What’s the rush? Don’t travel with us. We stop and smell the flowers. But, we do tend to speed things up on the way home.

All the talk of geology went over my head. Keep it to a 5th grade level. This is Greg . tour guides are free. They add to the experience.

All the talk of geology went over my head. Keep it to a 5th grade level. This is Greg. The tour guides are free. They add to the experience. How can you not dig their passion for the formation of the Finger Lakes?

     When we arrived at the South End of Seneca Lake we decided to “fuel up” at the Seneca Harbor Station. It’s a delightful little nautical theme restaurant over looking the lake that serves some darn good ribs. From there we went to the TOP of the gorge path ($8 dollars to park) so we could simply walk down the 832 steps. Who’s counting? Oh, I did. The 2 mile path descends 400 feet past 200 foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of the Cavern Cascade with spectacular views of the gorge. The guides are free and available at 10 am and 1 pm. I like free. I like to learn about the steps along the trail that were built compliments of FDR and the New Deal money. The guide lost me a bit on the talks of erosion, Arcadian mountains, super continent, glaciers, sandstone, shale and a famous deer. Heck, I just wanted to take pictures and not slip. Mission accomplished. My two cents- they should have made the trail wider when we had the New Deal money.

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I was fascinated by how damp and wet the trail was and all the ferns and moss that grow in the rocks.

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The sign read “No Swimming” but did not say “do not dip your feet in the running water”

     I will now list several observations that were not included in the guided tour. 

1. No dogs allowed. Thank goodness. You are not going to find many hand railings on the trail and you don’t need your dog pulling you off the slippery path down a waterfall.

2. No swimming allowed. That did not stop people from doing so.

3. I saw way to many people who should not be on the hike. Older folks, babies, and those limping. Not to mention all those wearing flat flip flop sandals! Hum, I wonder if people thought I should not be on the trail.

4. The only wildlife I saw was a chipmunk.

5. Have a nice dry pair of shoes waiting for you in the car.

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This hiker found himself looking at my camera instead of one of the 19 waterfalls.

     It’s such a great feeling to complete the hike. We got caught up and gave each other “High 5’s!” It was not a great feeling having wet feet and not bringing another pair of shoes. Most people start on the bottom at the main entrance and walk up. Take it from me, start at the top and walk down. There is no need to walk back up to get your car. Why walk up and down? An hour and a half is plenty. We started at 1:00 and ended at 2:30. There is a shuttle bus for $5.00. That’ll do the trick.

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We went on the Stroller IV at Captain Bill’s for the narrated boat cruise. That will set you back $16.00 a person.

     We ended our day with a narrated sightseeing cruise on Seneca Lake which gave me all new information. The lake is fed by underground springs giving it little chance to freeze over in the winter. The lake is named after the Seneca Native American tribe. Salt manufacturing is also done at the lake and US Salt and Cargill manufacturing plants can be seen from the boat cruise. That was all we could do in one day. We hit the open road and headed home and both agreed we were so glad we hiked Watkins Glen and did not buy a single souvenir item despite being tempted by the “you’re gorge-ous” t-shirt.

My Top 8 Buffalo Summer Traditions

Hello and welcome to summer. Buffalo style. I often say, there is too much to do around here. Too many gorgeous places to visit. We really are spoiled in the summer months in Buffalo. We don’t have much time, we have too many options, but there are certain MUST-DO’s that we always find time for.  We like to stay close to home in the summer and enjoy our own back yard. You can travel to far off places but really everything you ever wanted is right here. There is something so sweet about summer. Wearing sandals, eating corn on the cob, moving at a slower pace and reading under a tree. It’s swimming outside. It’s doing handstands in the pool. It’s going off diving boards. It’s swinging on a swing. Summer is really all about kids and bringing out the kid in you. It’s about connecting as a family and nurturing and being playful. It’s where I hold cherished memories of my own childhood and think of my wonderful years being a young mom. We are off the clock in a way. No homework projects due. New friends develop and new skills are learned. Now mind you, it’s not all perfect, there’s pesky mosquitos, humidity and quite frankly, I can do without fireworks. But, as a family, it would not be summer without these 8 traditions. The Canadian beaches, visiting Chautauqua Institute, Swimming outside and outdoor swim meets,  grilling and eating outside, the annual family picnic at Chestnut Ridge Park, the inspiration of the Garden walk, Saturday mornings and walks to the Famers Market and one that will never be the same is taking an annual picture of our children. Again, I know we have a lot of options and I did not even include Niagara Falls or baseball. But hey, this is my list. And these 8 traditions are true blue with our family.

1. Go Over the Peace Bridge to Canada

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It is always a thrill to enter Canada and take advantage of our friendly neighbors and our unique geographic location. In 15 minutes we are on the bridge from our house. So close yet it feels like a world away.

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The first picture in my blog. Poodlewalker!! Inspiration from our dogs running free on the beach of Windmill Point, Canada. Fresh water from Lake Erie and the perfect place for beautiful walks and swims.

2. Spend a day or a week at the Chautauqua Institute. 

 

Here we are sitting on the rocking chairs of the Anthethian hotel.

Here we are sitting on the rocking chairs of the Athenaeum hotel. I thank God for these happy memories. Traditions and family vacations fill our hearts with memories and closeness. I know only too well you don’t get that time back. You are just so so glad you did.

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Inside the gate of the Chautauqua Institute. I am so thankful for these vacations that my parents started and that we continued with our children. Chautauqua is only a one and a half hour drive from Buffalo and has old fashioned charm and is located on a lake in a community that offers lectures and evening performances.

 

3. Swim Outside – just to relax or to watch a swim meet outside

Oh the years of outside swim competition warm your hearts and memories for decades. the magic of summer.

Oh the years of outside swim competition warm your hearts and memories for decades. It’s the magic of summer. Swimming outside and breathing fresh air is a delight. No hot natatoriums. Nothing but fresh water and the joy of watching your children and others compete.

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The Titans swim team enjoyed the short outdoor swim practice season. The cold water entering the pool was welcomed on a hot day. After practice the treat of a ride down the slide gave Natalie such joy.

 

4. Grill and Eat Outside

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Entertaining is much easier and more colorful in the summer. Natalie fussed and showed us how to prepare meals with happiness and joy. “It doesn’t take much to step it up a notch” she would explain.

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The fresh fruits and vegetables are bursting with flavors.

 

 

5. Reconnect at the Annual Family Picnic

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Chestnut Ridge Park. Such a rustic and homey feel to the park. There is such comfort to returning to the same shelter year after year. Follow the paper plates and connect with your family. Here is my dad in the navy shirt and our Uncle Dan in white who paved such noble paths for the family. Uncle Hank, the baby, is missing in the photo.

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How fortunate we are to have the focal point of our family picnic be a celebration of mass. Here is Father Jack Mattimore, SJ with his nephew Michael serving as altar server.

 

6. Enjoy the flowers and Garden Walk

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The Buffalo Garden Walk is inspiring and who doesn’t enjoy getting ideas and seeing peoples back yards.

 

7. Saturday Farmers Market

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The fresh vegetables and fruits are delicious but the mini bouquet of flowers are a colorful treat.

 

8. Photograph and take the annual family picture of the kids

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Here is a playful pose of the 3 children. Natalie will always be so loved and adored and lives in all of us. We are all changed and are better because of Natalie. This was the last photo shoot of all the children. I always took the Christmas card picture in August and told the kids how beautiful their hair and skin looked in the summer. Gathering our children together for a yearly photograph is beyond cherished to us now. We could not do this last summer. We know we have to forge ahead but this is the toughest of all.

One Year

Natalie lead the way. A natural leader by the way she lived. Here she is opening the gates for us at the Virginia House. Natalie was a history buff and loved teaching us all about the Capital of Virginia - Richmond. Natalie loved nature and was a natural beauty.

Natalie lead the way. A natural leader by the way she lived. Here she is opening the gates for us at the Virginia House. Natalie was a history buff and loved teaching us all about the Capital of Virginia – Richmond. Natalie loved nature and was a natural beauty.

 

It still doesn’t seem possible. It seems unreal. There is no possible way this could have happened. I still don’t want to believe it. Natalie. Our beloved Natalie. We just celebrated your wedding engagement. Yet, everything changed with one phone call. One unbelievable phone call. Natalie was in trouble. The hot air balloon she was riding in had hit a power line. We went numb. And we prayed. Not Natalie. She was never in trouble. She followed every rule. Natalie was a sure bet for a long and beautiful life.

Somehow the impossible came true. Natalie, the golden one, is gone from this earth. We were stunned. We fell to our knees and thought we could not get up.

Inside my narrow vision, I search for answers.  I don’t pretend to understand but I try. A dear friend sent me the book “Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?”  I did not read the book. I know. I lived it. It’s to develop deeper compassion, deeper understanding, to become more sensitive, more caring and more tolerant. You flaunt less and live with the realization that everything in this life is temporary. News stories and death of children hit you hard and you understand their pain. You realize every second of every minute counts. That we are on earth for something greater than ourselves. We are all filled with potential to make this world better and we have an obligation to do so. 

Natalie left such an impact. It’s no wonder. We are all in great need of quality people who have the ability to lift and encourage others. Natalie was so incredibly valuable to so many. And she valued herself and had the  confidence to encourage others by giving you that “you have it in you” feeling to accomplish anything you wanted to do. Suddenly you started to believe that you could win the Atlantic 10 Championships in the 100 freestyle, that you could lead the team in re-bounds in the basketball championships, that you could land that job you were dreaming of, that you could host and prepare a gourmet dinner or that you will find someone special in your life.

We can’t begin to express to you how much we miss Natalie. She was such a giver. Natalie gave and gave and gave. Her gifts were endless and she shared them with all. I used to to ask her all the time “how are you so good?” I still can’t believe how much she accomplished in 24 years. Natalie was so selfless, so disciplined, so joyful, unspoiled and loving.

I read this bible passage In Hebrews 1:3 Continue to love each other like brothers,and remember always to welcome strangers, for by doing this, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

That’s when I pause and realize that Natalie was truly an angel. Natalie showed us how to live. We truly were indeed touched by an angel.

We search for answers and always will. There is no doubt that our Catholic faith has sustained us. Gathering together for the rosary each night brings us such a comfort. Instead of counseling we attend daily mass. We feel closer to Natalie there. Heaven and earth come together and our faith supports, nourishes and gets you through the day. I imagine the joys in heaven. I believe nothing can separate us from Natalie. Mostly I believe in God’s love for all of us. I believe in Gods promises of everlasting life. Natalie said yes to Gods’ will. It’s a scary thought and I know most of us want to be in control. We plan. We try to control everything. But if you say YES to God’s will you will be eternally happy in paradise.

Natalie always so joyful and happy. She realized all this life had to offer and that you need give to get. You need to love and be loved. I took pictures of her constantly because her smile and was so contagious.

Natalie always so joyful and happy. She realized all this life had to offer and that you need to give to get. You need to love and be loved. I took pictures of her constantly because her smile and was so contagious.

Our family gains strength from each other. Natalie meant so much to us and we all struggle without her. We never would have chosen this life but trust in Gods plan. Our marriage and family unit is sacred. I love my husband more than I ever realized. We are not meant to go through life alone and this sadness has made that crystal clear. Do you know how a team feels when the star quarterback is sidelined with an injury? We feel like our QB is out and we have to all step up and keep going onto victory in her honor. We feel like we have a lot more good left to do on this earth. We all make a difference. We all have no idea how we touch people each day. Natalie taught us we all have the power and the ability to lift others up and the ripple effect goes on and on.

This Mother’s Day I will imagine Natalie with the Blessed mother in heaven. I will pray for all the mother’s out there who have lost their children before their time. I will pray for our dear friend Ginny Doyle and her family. I will hold all of our friends close in our prayers for showing us so much kindness.  I am inspired to be a better person by the outpouring of cards and gifts sent to us. Our family will hold each other tight and I will pull out one of the homemade cards from the box I have over flowing with cards that Natalie has written to me. And I will read it over and over and remember what an honor it is to be Natalie’s mom. And what an amazing honor it will be to have Evan Jr and Caroline along side of me.

Oh Natalie. Your beautiful homemade cards are truly breathtaking. Show kindness. Show appreciation. Show love. Thank you for showing us the way.

Oh Natalie. Your beautiful homemade cards are truly breathtaking. Show kindness. Show appreciation. Show love. Thank you dear sweet Natalie for showing us the way.

 

Lead by example. Live to inspire. Love and be loved. Love conquers all.

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.