our book club reads happy books!

Holiday Cheer

I find myself complaining a lot lately when I have a day off. I complain that I didn’t get everything I wanted to get done accomplished. I complain that I didn’t have any fun. I just complain!

This past Thursday, I took a vacation day and I accomplished everything on my “to do” list. The list was pretty short: enjoy the day and have fun!

The main event of the day was the Langhorne Borough Holiday House Tour, run by the Four Lanes End Garden Club. This is an annual event in Langhorne, but my first year attending. What a great event! I went with my Mom, a dear friend, and her mother-in-law. The houses were spectacular – I wavered between wanting to go home and decorate my house and thinking I wouldn’t even bother. I could never get my house as beautiful as these houses! We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but I took a few outdoor shots:


holiday house vic

plant langhorne

All the houses were beautiful, but if I had to choose just one to live in, it would be this charming farm house:

house tour farm

We had lunch at the Langhorne Hotel.

Crab cakes – yum! It was a great afternoon, spent with great company. It filled my head with lots of great ideas, which I probably will never do! I’m realistic – although I love beautiful plants and flowers, I am more of an admirer than a creator in that area!

And my head is full of other things I want to create because of what I did next. My husband and I took a one hour ride to Byrne Sewing Connection.  My husband was there a couple of months ago when I had a “quilting emergency”, and I’ve been wanting to get there ever since. Their hours and my hours never seemed to coincide though. Since they are open till 7 on Thursdays, I figured I would take advantage of my vacation day and take a ride “just to look”.

Ever since my “quilting emergency” I have been contemplating the idea of a spare sewing machine. That idea morphed into the idea of getting a strictly straight stitch machine that would be better for free motion quilting. I had been doing some research. And that led to this:


My brand new Babylock Jane sewing machine!!! I had to overcome a lot of guilt to buy this machine. (notice the perfectly good Brother machine in the background!) But after a weekend spent quilting on it, I must say I am so glad I got it and I only regret not getting it sooner. Three exclamation points do not really express how happy I am with it.

So that was my super fun vacation day, but as chance would have it, the fun did not stop there. While I was on the house tour, I got a text from my daughter. Did I want to “Run the Lights” at Shady Brook Farm on Friday? You bet I did! I had never seen this light show and it was so fun to run through all the holiday twinkling lights:

shady brook

To quote my good friend  the Grinch:

“What if Christmas, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas …perhaps…means a little bit more!”

Ok, my Baby Jane came from the store, but what really got me into the spirit of the holidays was spending some fun time with people I love!


I hope everyone else is taking time to enjoy the holiday season too!


Christmas with the Krafts

 Holiday Book Club Party! Yeah!!

In the midst of other holiday celebrations these past few weeks, Wednesday was our 2nd annual Holiday Book Club meeting. Once again it was a very glittering affair! And when I say glitter, you know what kind I’m talking about.

These year we actually read a book for the meeting – “Skipping Christmas” by John Grisham. It was a quick, fun read, and we actually spent a couple of minutes discussing it. While we understood wanting to skip certain aspects of the holiday (spending all that money!) we agreed that maybe the Kranks carried it a bit to far. Come on – put up the snowman already! What’s the harm?

Then it was on to the really important stuff – food and crafts! Everyone brought delicious treats to share. We ate and then got down to our true purpose – crafts!

Once again Stacy supplied us with an extravaganza of craft projects. Her craft room  is very like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag – everything you could possibly need is in there! In honor of the Kranks, we created snowmen:

What a fine display of craftiness!

What a fine display of craftiness!

After pretty much following the rules with our first craft, we all really got into the spirit with our fun foam snowmen. Just like a snowflake, no two were alike: 

Fancy  Snowgirl available on Etsy. $15, free shipping

Fancy Snowgirl available on Etsy. $15,free shipping

We ALL did a great job with our snowmen!

We ALL did a great job with our snowmen!

Thanks Stacy, for hosting and planning this fun night for us! It was a relaxing evening –  talking, laughing, and doing simple crafts that made us feel like kids again.

As I write this tonight, I am reminded of the families in Connecticut who will probably be skipping Christmas this year, and realize how lucky I am to be able to celebrate with my family and friends.


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“Gonna Fly Now, Flyin’ High Now”

Yes, they actually do play the “Rocky” theme song at the beginning of the Broad Street Run – even  for the people who start all the way in the back like me. What other song could they possibly play at the beginning of a 10 mile run through Philadelphia?

After all the drama leading up to it, the race thankfully went smoothly.   I pushed myself, because I really wanted to improve my time from last year, but I also tried to appreciate the experience.

Because it certainly was an experience. Close to 40,000 people with one common goal. The diversity of the people running was amazing – every color, shape and size  were represented.

As I ran, I read the stories so many people had pinned to their backs. Sometimes just a name, sometimes a charity, sometimes a picture. Like the young woman who ran “for Papa Bear, you will always be with me.” It made me so grateful, that at the age of 55, I still have my Papa Bear, and my Mama Bear too.

And the spectators were tremendous! There wasn’t an area where there wasn’t someone there to cheer you on. But the last two miles – that was something else. There were crowds of people and the noise was loud! People were shouting and ringing cow bells and making me feel like a super star. My least favorite cheer: “only two more miles!” I guess it’s the “only” that bugged me. But then I heard a man shout out “you’re doing it!” This is my favorite cheer to use when I’m a spectator at a race, and it was so nice to hear coming from the crowd. Heck yeah, I was doing it!

 I have such admiration and respect for the super athletic people who finish in less than an hour, but I also have admiration and respect for the people I saw as I was leaving the Navy Yard. I had finished my race, but they were still running. Some overweight, some limping, but not giving up, persevering to the end. Heck yeah, they were doing it too!

I finished the race strong, 1 minute faster than last year. After meeting up with the rest of our group and finding out that everyone had excellent races, it was time for a post-race brunch. Yum! A great way to celebrate. Then it was home for a shower and a nap. Because as great as it felt to run those 10 miles, it felt even better to lay down and take a nap!

Mission Accomplished!


Tracks of my Tears…or, Better than a Stick in the Eye

Here I am, on the eve of my second Broad Street Run, filled with anticipation. I’m a little nervous, but not as nervous as usual. Here’s why:

This last week before the  race hasn’t been the best in terms of race prep. Rain every morning this week kept me from getting in the runs that I wanted to. I know I’m supposed to taper, but it was getting a little ridiculous. Finally, Friday I got a few good miles in, came home, jumped in the shower… and then the fun began…

What I at first thought was a little shampoo in my eye, turned into an all day event that ended with a visit to the emergency room. I drove to work with what felt like an eyelash in my eye. Tried getting it out at work – no luck. Tried to help patrons – could barely see the computer screen for all the tears running down my face. Kept telling patrons – “Really it’s not pink eye, I have something in my eye!” I used up a box of tissues mopping up the runny eye and nose. At lunch time I ran out and bought eye drops and more tissues – no luck. Finally at 2:00 I gave up. I wasn’t really working – just dabbing my nose and eye and grossing out everyone around me. I left work. Ok – here’s the scary part: I drove home holding my right eye closed. Somehow made it home safe. Laid down with a cold compress on my eye and took a little nap. Woke up – no luck. By now, I was frantic, I had to get this eye to stop tearing, not to mention the pain of what felt like a grain of sand in my eye!

As lame as it sounds, I had my hubby drive me to the emergency room. They examined my eye and saw a pinpoint that could be either a little grain of something, or an abrasion. The nurse flooded my eye with eye wash. No luck – the pain was still there. She sent me home with Vikodan and instructions to see a opthamologist in the morning.

But here’s the thing…

I kept thinking about Broad Street. As one of the  nurses was leaving for the night everyone was wishing her luck at Broad St. The nurse who was treating me talked about how much fun she had when she ran Broad St. The patient in the bed next to me mentioned that her son was running it.

As the nurse sent me home she asked if I had any questions. I just asked how long it would take to heal. She said there’s no definite answer, maybe a week. My husband asked the question that I didn’t want to ask because I knew the answer.   “She’s supposed to run Broad St. Should she?” The nurse gave me the answer I knew she would and then explained all the reasons why it was a bad idea. But as a Broad Street veteran, I think she felt my pain because she added, if you’re just doing it for fun, and not running for a time, and use common sense and quit if you start feeling too bad, you can try it.  Then she added professionally, “but I would not recommend it.”

So I went home, feeling not much better. I was determined to run, but didn’t think I would bother if I was still in the same condition. I went home, put my eyedrops in and took my Vikodan. As I fell asleep to Action News showing film of runners picking up there race bibs at the expo I  said a little prayer that the next day my eye would be miraculously better…

… and it was! The eye was still a little swollen from all the irritation the day before, but it got better and better as the day went on. And I knew as soon as I opened my eyes in the morning that either  the “grain of sand” was gone or the abrasion had healed, but my prayer was definitely answered.

No tears today! Just smiles that we’re ready ro run!

So, I’m not too nervous tonight. Just grateful that my prayer was answered and  happy that I’ll have a chance to be out there running tomorrow – running down Broad Street! Now that’s better than a stick (or even a tiny little speck of sand) in the eye!


The OK Corral

  No, I’m not talking about a gunfight here – I’m talking about this corral:

start line

It does look (and feel) like a herd of cattle sometimes in the corral! (Photo credit: B.T. Indrelunas)

To be more specific, the starting corrals of the 2012 Broad Street Run!

But before I tell you about that, let me tell you a funny story about my first experience of race corrals. It was at the 2008 Philadelphia Marathon, and my daughter was running her first marathon. I went as her chauffeur and cheerleader, but my secret reason for going was to be there at the ready for any emergency trips to the hospital, or to pick her limp & battered body  up off the finish line . I mean, 26.2 miles! Who does that?

I found a spot along the Parkway where I could see her as she ran by at the midpoint of the race. As I was waiting, I struck up a conversation with another spectator, and she asked me what corral my daughter was in.

Now at the time, my son was very involved in a choir, and when this woman asked her question, I heard, “what chorale is your daughter in?” My first thought was to say, “oh, she isn’t here with a singing group.” Luckily, I stopped myself, and gave the far more intelligent reply, “I don’t know”.  Then I added the equally intelligent: “I don’t know what that is.” So the woman explained it to me.

In theory, here’s how it works:

All the elite athletes start in the front. Everyone who registers puts down an approximate guess of how long they think it will take them to finish the race. Everyone is then put into corrals, according to their predicted paces and the race starts  in waves, with the faster runners starting near the front and the slower runners starting near the back.

In reality, here’s how it worked at Broad Street last year:

All the elite athletes start in the front.  Everyone who registers puts down an approximate guess of how long they think it will take them to finish the race. Everyone gets to the race and is enveloped in a crowd so large that they can barely move. They find a spot in the closest corral and wait for the race to start. And everything is OK. No one is trampled.

And here is something else that is OK with the corrals. I was standing there last year amid 30,000 other runners last year, and I’m going to be there again this year.  Every year there is news footage of the colorful sea of runners starting off on the race and I had always thought it looked so exciting, and so crazy too. Every time I find myself in a race corral, I’m a amazed to be a part of that sea of people. And here is what you can’t see or feel from the television. From the outside, it may look like a herd of cattle being led to slaughter, but inside the corral, no one is being forced to go anywhere. Everyone is happy, and excited, and yes, sometimes nervous. They have worked hard for this day, and they are glad it’s here. It’s a celebration – people are throwing clothes, tying shoes, looking for friends, and looking forward to a good run through the cheering crowds lining Broad Street..

How I got here is a story for another day, but the seed was planted at that Philadelphia Marathon in 2008. And my daughter? No picking her up off the finish line. She finished looking exhilarated, and like she had a few more miles left in her. She has run several marathons since then.  And in a little over a week, we’ll both be running Broad Street. And that’s more than OK with me.


Hoping to add to my bling this year!


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