Monthly Archives: October 2014


happy halloween

I guess I’d have to consider today a success.  Halloween has never been my favorite school holiday to celebrate.  The kids are so excited it is hard to get much accomplished, but today was a relatively smooth day.  It was followed by the town parade which brings out thousands of people.  The costumes this year were terrific.  I had been asked to take photos for the local website The Village Green,  and there were so many great ones to choose from.

Every year since I can remember, Drew has wanted to win a prize and this year, he did!  He was so excited.  His Play Doh costume was a hit!  After the parade, he went trick or treating with a group of friends and got one of the biggest bags of candy he has ever collected.  I don’t even know what we are going to do with all of it.  I told him tomorrow we could sort it out and  give away the stuff we aren’t going to eat.  With four candy lovers in our family, (who all enjoy different kinds) there might not be much to give away!  I might have to start looking for recipes that incorporate a lot of candy and stock up on toothpaste!  Dentists must love this time of year!!

Teamwork = Success

important work at home

After all the worrying about what and how we would make Drew’s Halloween costume this year, we came up with an idea and a plan.  Dave got the paint and the trash bin.  I cut and pasted and created the logo.  Drew dug out his old morph suit and we have a costume!


He is so excited for tomorrow now.  Thank you Pinterest and all of those creative people out there!  He found his idea on there.

His goal is to win a prize in the town parade.  He has never won in the costume parade and although, I am not sure how original it is, or how it can compare to the much more creative people out there, I am so glad to see him so confident and excited about something we made together.

It was fun to work on this as a family.  Fun to see him still want help from mom and dad.  Sometimes it seems like my boys are growing up so quickly!  All of my friends have younger children and I miss those days.  As DJ is busy with his own social life and applying to colleges, and Drew is auditioning for the middle school play and involved in lots of after-school activities, I sometimes feel like I never see them.  This was a great way to find some time to spend together.  Even if he doesn’t win a prize, it was a win for me!

It All Leads Back to Family


Tonight we ate dinner at my grandma’s.  Gigi, her caretaker made a feast for us!  Lasagne, spaghetti and meatballs, broccoli rabe, tomato and mozzarella salad, roasted red peppers and a tossed salad.  This was not a meal for the entire Gianni clan, but just my family, my dad and brother.  There was a lot of food and it was delicious! Her roasted peppers actually tasted just like the ones my gram made when we were younger.  I told this to Gigi and she told me she learned from my gram.  There were lots of leftovers which means dinner for tomorrow too!

Driving home, we were talking about what we were doing two years ago tonight.  It is the second anniversary of Super Storm Sandy. What a crazy time that was for everyone in our area.  School was canceled for a week, Halloween was postponed, (for the second year in a row after a freak snow storm hit the year before.)  Once again though, we were with family.  Ten days without power led to us all camping my aunt and uncle’s house – the only one with power.   We ate together and camped out in all of the rooms of their house.  At one point there were over twenty of us staying there!

Small, intimate dinners together, big feasts, it doesn’t matter.  Just being together – it always leads back to family.

Halloween Costumes

halloween costume

Every year, we go through the same thing.  Drew comes up with several ideas that he wants to dress up as for Halloween and changes his mind over and over again.  He has wanted to win the town costume contest ever since I can remember but unfortunately, we aren’t very clever and some of the costumes other people come up with are far more creative than anything I can ever come up with.  It doesn’t help that I am not very artistic so I don’t do well making costumes either.

He does have an idea for this year…I am forbidden to tell “in case someone steals it” from him.  Well, it is Tuesday night -three days before Halloween and we don’t even have all any of the materials we need for his idea yet.  Dave’s assignment tomorrow is to head over to Costco to see if he can find the main part of the costume.  He’s already been to Home Depot and Lowe’s without any success.

Drew does have a backup plan, two actually, but even those require some talent to put together and materials we don’t have laying around the house.  He’s clever.  His ideas are good ones, if only his parents had some artistic ability to put help bring them to fruition!

At least we know he’s got a hockey helmet, stick and uniform he can throw together last minute.  It might not win a prize, but at least he will be in a costume, (and warm enough) to go trick or treating with his friends.

Positivity Challenge

positive thoughts

This weekend, Georgette, a Facebook friend of mine shared a Positivity Challenge. Something that is right up my alley! Each day, she chooses three people and a theme and “shouts out” to them on Facebook.  Then she encourages them to do the same.  I asked her if permission to “steal” her idea and start spreading my own positivity.  It began with choosing three people that are already out there spreading positivity.  I chose my three and encouraged them to do the same.

The next positivity challenge was for coworkers or mentors who have inspired me.  I shouted out to my three, telling them how they influenced me and once again, encouraged them to do the same.

Today’s positivity challenge was to “shout out” to people who make me laugh.  This one was an easy one.  I had a hard time stopping at just three.  Now it is their turn to choose three of their own and continue to spread the positivity.

It is such an easy thing to do.  So many people are on Facebook anyway, it is easy to pay a compliment to someone else.  There is so much negativity everywhere we turn.  It is nice to see these positive things woven throughout my Facebook feed.  I hope Georgette’s challenges keep coming.  It is fun trying to think of something nice to say about people who mean a lot to me.

Try the challenge.  Let’s get some positive vibes flowing out there!

Once a Foodie, Always a Foodie


Every weekend we try to meet up with my 99 year old grandma to go out for dinner.  Sometimes it is a big group of us, other times a small one, like tonight when there were just nine of us.  We always laugh because when we ask her where she’d like to go she picks places that you wouldn’t expect a “foodie” to choose.

I call her a “foodie” because she has always been a lady who was passionate about food.  She was an amazing cook and always enjoyed the best of the best when it came to dining out.  Now, she chooses places like The Olive Garden and California Pizza Kitchen.  Not that I think there is anything wrong with those choices.  We laugh because this is a lady who enjoyed dining out in fancy, upscale places where we had to dress up for dinner and we ate like royalty.

My grandfather belonged to a small, private, Italian dinner club in the city called Tiro a Segno.  It was on MacDougal Street and as kids, we’d take the train into New York City with our mom and grandma every so often to meet up with him and my dad. They were both working on The New York Stock Exchange at the time.  We’d get on the subway and take the quick walk through Washington Square to the restaurant. It always felt so private…so special when we went there.

Going out to dinner with my grandparents was always an event.  No matter how many of us were joining them, we feasted.  I tasted so many delicacies as a child, (some that I won’t ever eat again) that even though I couldn’t speak another language, I had no problem pronouncing the names of the Italian cheeses or meats on the menus.  When I met Dave, and he first began joining us for diner, I think it overwhelmed him at first.

When Grammy cooked for all of us, it was always an affair.  That is why Christmas Eve dinner is always such a big event.  She and her sister, our Aunt Dee, taught us how to prepare it all and we are continuing the tradition for our own families.  She doesn’t do the cooking anymore.  She directs us though, making sure that we are doing it all the correct way.

So tonight, when we asked her where we should go and she chose California Pizza Kitchen, we went. She certainly still has the appetite that she has always had!  She wanted pasta.  Her favorite but she made sure that the waiter knew she wanted something spicy.  She got her wish and devoured most of it, sharing a few bites with me.  I am definitely the grandchild who inherited her love for food!  She topped it off with a brownie covered in hot fudge.  Grammy never, ever says no to dessert.

Her eyes and legs don’t work like they used to and she may be slowly losing her hearing, but one thing that hasn’t changed is her enthusiasm for food.  I am happy to partake in her food adventures no matter where she chooses to go.  Mangiamo!  Let’s Eat!

Getting Children Involved


This afternoon, Drew and I had the opportunity to volunteer with TAKE THE CAKE, a program serving Maplewood-South Orange, New Jersey and our neighboring communities. They are a proud part of Rent Party Pantries (501c3) and are committed to the idea that every child deserves a special birthday party.  Last month, I took photos for their first party and I was so happy to be able to be a part of it again.

Drew decided to join me today because he was invited to a Bar Mitzvah for his friend Jacob.  Jacob is involved with Take the Cake as his Mitzvah project and since we aren’t able to donate a lot of money to the cause, we decided that donating our time would be beneficial as well.

Today’s party was for a child who was nominated by Good Grief, an organization that helps children and teens cope with the loss of a family member.

When I found the quote I added to my blog today, I was brought to a blog on, Chaos in My Arc. It offered so many suggestions for ways children can get involved.  From small things like random acts of kindness, to full blown projects. I think it is so important to get children involved in volunteering as early as possible.  Hopefully it will be something that sticks with them as they grow up and they will continue to see the good it can do for others and make a difference in the lives of others.



Sitting home tonight with Dave.  Both boys are out so we decided to catch up on some movies we keep recording and saving, yet never get the chance to watch.  Tonight we decided on Nebraska. I have been putting this one off, thinking it would be too depressing. Filmed in black and white, I just wasn’t sure if I’d get into it.  I was wrong.  I loved it!

Dave and I have a bucket list.  One of the things we have talked about doing is renting an RV and driving across the country.  Just to see what is out there.  I’ve been all up and down the East Coast but not many other places.  I have made it to Alaska, Louisiana and Nevada.  We spent a few hours in Utah while visiting Nevada while there for my cousin’s wedding.  That’s it.  It is kind of sad actually.

I want to see more of the mid-west, although the movie today didn’t really portray it as the most exciting place.  Driving across the country would give us a chance to see so much more.  Living so close to New York and the hustle and bustle of the city really shows the vast differences across our country.  New Jersey is the 5th smallest state yet the most densely populated.  Traffic is usually one of the top stories on the news because it is everywhere!  It seems so different as you get further and further from the big cities.  I think I would like it – at least for a little while.

Wholesome Television

Laura Ingalls Wilder Quote Simple Pleasures

As a little girl, one of my favorite shows on television was Little House on the Prairie. It happens to be on again in syndication on the INSP channel.  The channel also shows reruns of The Waltons, Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman and inspirational movies. There is such an innocence in these shows. So many good morals.  Dave and I are addicted to Little House.  Even though we have seen every episode, we still watch them again and again.  As I write this, “The Camp Out” one of the earlier episodes is on.

Over the summer I was watching a marathon of Orange is the New Black – quite possibly the complete opposite of wholesome and innocent.  Now I am stuck on a Little House marathon.

My kids won’t watch it – not even when they were younger.  I can’t even think of a children’s show that’s on the air today that could compare to it.  That’s just too bad.

Did you watch Little House?  Did you read the books?  I always loved Mary Ingalls.  Dave’s favorite was Mr. Olsen.  Who was yours?

What Do You Give Out for Halloween?

trick or treat

Today, I came across this funny post which was posted by 95.5 WPLJ:

Don’t be THAT GUY… avoid handing out the following candies and RUINING Halloween!!
1. Necco Wafers
2. Anything found in a bowl at an old persons house
3. Charms lollipops
4. Sugar babies
5. Mr. Goodbar
6. Good & Plenty
7. Mounds
8. Raisinets
9. Smarties
10. Chicklets
11. Whoppers
12. Dots
13. Candy buttons

I beg to differ!  If I got a bag filled with Mounds and Whoppers I’d be the happiest kid on the block!!  Dave is all about Mr. Goodbars!  Raisinets are one of my favorite things to mix with popcorn, (sweet and salty) so I wouldn’t have minded those either.

The rest of them, especially #2, I could do without.  When we were kids, my mom always made us give the handfuls of change that we got to our church.  We were those kids, who had to stop trick or treating, to go to mass on the eve of All Saints Day.  We’d empty our pillow sacks of treats and gather up all the money and toss it into the collection basket at mass that night.

Years ago, Dave wanted to be the house that everyone remembered.  The house that gave out FULL SIZE candy bars so he went to Costco, got cases of them and those years, we were that house!  That only happened for a few Halloweens, now we get way too many kids at our house to do that.  Dave still likes to hand out the good stuff.  You’ll always get to choose a chocolatey treat or sweet chewy one if you come to our house.  My kids have been known to come home between trick or treating runs and empty their bags, putting the stuff they don’t like into the give away bowl for another child to choose.

DJ doesn’t go out trick or treating anymore.  Drew and his buddies have their route all planned out already.  He isn’t going to give this up for awhile!

What was your favorite treat to get in your trick or treat bag on Halloween??  Any on the list?