Facets of Lucy

Looking at the various side of a life


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A Daycation – Making the Most of a 24 Hour Getaway

For reasons too varied and boring to explain, we’ve not had a summer vacation.

What we have had are a few long weekends.  Some of them have involved traveling to visit or help family, some were spent doing errands or household tasks.  But we had one wonderful “daycation” and I’d recommend it highly.

One late evening, my husband and I drove to a little town an hour away.  We did an errand or two and stopped at an inexpensive restaurant for a light dinner.  While there, we had a good laugh at one trucker’s parking job.,

Parking a Truck at a Strip Mall

Parking a Truck at a Strip Mall

After waiting out a sudden downpour, we made it to the car and headed to the next town over where we stayed the night.  What a nice beginning for our daycation!  There’s a little ice cream shop in the second town which makes THE best chocolate malts ( a kind of milkshake).  We each enjoyed one while we walked around, appreciating the varied home designs and gardens.  It was a lovely night, post-rain shower and the walk was a happy ending to the first few hours of our getaway.

The next morning, we were up and out!  Breakfast came from a not so unique little place – McDonalds.  When you want a fast and hot breakfast along with drinkable coffee, McDonalds does the trick. Once we were fed and caffeinated, we were off to ….go fishing!

Fishing

The spot we fished at was in a beautiful local park. Since it was a Friday morning, we had the place to ourselves.  It was so peaceful there.  The fact that we caught nothing didn’t take away from the fun.  We stayed just as long as we wanted and then packed up our gear.  Although I enjoyed the fishing, I was excited to move on to our next activity – antiquing.  This little town has a delightfully large antique “mall”, representing many antique dealers in that area.  Prices are more than reasonable, dealers are willing to dicker and the stock turns over often enough to check it out frequently. All I bought this trip was a Steve Miller record album (I’ll wait if you want to go look those words up) but we both had a good laugh at a collection of transistor radios (same offer), a wooden baby walker and so many other treasures.

We had only two scheduled activities.  One, to visit my sister and her family occurred around lunch time. Her son, “little man”, is a precocious 4 year old who is always fun.  (An example:  He called the other day to say he had a new joke.  We said  that was great, that we were ready.  So he said, “Knock, knock!” Then he cracked up,  laughing so hard at his own joke that he couldn’t even tell it.)  So a happy hour or so was spent with them, hearing about their actual vacation and catching up.

The last scheduled event is one we both looked forward to – dinner with our son.  Having graduated from college this year, he accepted a job at a firm about 2 hours away from home.  Thanks to the GPS, we took a route from my sister’s town to his.  What a surprise!  The route took us zig-zag across the state, by some incredible farms, some horse country and lovely small towns.  That trip alone was worth the travel.  We made it our son’s city in plenty of time to meet up with him.  The three of us enjoyed a delicious dinner at a nearby restaurant.  It’s lovely to raise children but the real pay-off is to get to know the adult versions and watch them evolve into wonderful men and women.  We so enjoyed our conversation that we lingered awhile at dinner.  Regretfully, we hugged our son and headed to the car.  It was time to head home.

Believe it or not, we weren’t horribly late getting home but even returning late added to the sense that we had been somewhere, that we had really gotten away.  The variety of activities with visits, and no drive too far made this really feel like a vacation.  If you haven’t gotten away and are lucky enough to have places you can visit not too far away, give it a try.  If money is tight, you can eliminate the overnight and aim for public parks, scenic spots and anything that intrigues you or that you know you enjoy.

According to the news, more and more people  in the U.S. and the U.K. are having stay-cations instead of long getaways because of the economy.   Consider trying the daycation as an alternative or another way to break up your summer without going broke.  Happy Travels!


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Summer Sangria

Need an Excuse to Entertain?

Relatives graciously invited us to drop by for a visit while we were in their town a few weeks ago.  The hostess offered me a glass of Peach Sangria.  We were late and it wasn’t quite as cold as it had been earler but it was delicious and looked, smelled and tasted like summer.  The memory of that Sangria stayed with me when I returned home.  Finally, I thought why not make some myself?  When the weekend rolled around, a few of our friends came by to visit and enjoy it with me.

When I set out to make the Sangria, I researched recipes online.  There are recipes with 20 ingredients, some that take hours to make and some with exotic ingredients that I’d not use again.  I finally settled on one that sounded good, had only a few ingredients and didn’t take long to prepare.  Then I made minor adjustments of my own.

I understand that usually Sangria is made in a big batch but that didn’t really suit how the evening flowed.  To make it for our group, I made the final touch “by the glass”.  I’ll put my  touches, such as they are, in parentheses, and you can decide for yourself.  We thought the results were peachy and fresh without being cloyingly sweet.

Peach Sangria

1 bottle white wine (something leaning towards the dry side)       Sangria

½ cup Peach Schnapps

¼ – ½ cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup)

1 liter ginger ale (I substituted peach flavored sparkling water)

Peach slices

Mango slices

Mix the wine and the schnapps in a pitcher.  Add sugar and stir well.  Add peach and mango slices, stir gently.  Chill for an hour or two.  Before serving, add ginger ale.  (My changes:  I poured the wine/schnapps/sugar mixture into individual wine glasses, then added peach sparkling water to the glass.  I then added several frozen peach slices to each glass which acted as ice cubes.  The result wasn’t as sweet as what I’d tasted before which suited my taste buds.  I think it was a hit because, with each thank you note received, a request was made for the recipe.)

Try it and let me know what you think.  Happy summer!


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Lucky Number?

A few days ago, I went to a store to purchase the software to use to file our taxes.  The price on the package was $74.99.  I groaned but carried it to the register.  When the clerk scanned it, the price on the register came up as $69.99.  She noticed the difference and re-scanned it, then went in to the wider system to find out why the price difference existed.  She couldn’t find any backup for the higher price on the tag.  Finally, she rang it up at $69.99 which reduced even further with the instant rebate offered.

Then today, I went to a sporting goods store to buy a Valentine’s gift for my beloved husband.  I found the item I wanted and the price was right – $39.99.  I had a $15 coupon so the price would actually only be about $25, a great deal.  So I went up to the register and waited for my turn.  Finally, the clerk reached for my item and rang it up  – at $69.99, which is the price in their system.  She called a manager over and he declared that the price tag wasn’t one of theirs, as if I carried around a price tag maker in my purse.  He called back to the department and asked them to check the price on the items still on the shelf.  They did and all the bags were priced at $39.99.  He okayed the transaction and I walked out even happier with my purchase than before.

So, the price $69,99 has shown up twice in a week, in transactions where the price was disputed.  In both cases, I ended up paying less than that amount. How odd is that?  Here’s the question:  Should I play the lottery with my 4 lucky numbers- 6, 9, 9 and 9?


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Why I Can’t Wait For School to Start

Image property of Facets of Lucy

Property of Facets of Lucy

I am not a curmudgeon – let me just start with that.  You may judge me when you read what follows but I hope you’ll hear me out:  I’ve never been sorry to see summer vacation end. In fact, I threw a few parties over the years celebrating the first day of school with like-minded moms. It’s not that summer vacation isn’t fun; it is.  It’s not that I don’t love and adore all 4 of my children: I do.  It is instead that I have always LOVED school.  Is that weird?  Even as a child, I loved the smell of new textbooks and getting school supplies I was not a fan of school uniforms but I put a lot of effort in the” first day of school, no uniform required” outfit.

As my children came along,I guess I passed my enthusiasm along.  When they were young, my children and I even had a tradition of buying school supplies on the first rainy day in July.  They were so excited when that  day came each summer. The bonus was that we avoided the crowds shopping at the end of August.  In our neighborhood, we learned teacher assignments by mail.  Then, everyone rushed to the swimming pool to see their friends and play the “Who’d You Get?” game  (now you just post it on Facebook, I guess).  Every year, each of them got their pictures taken under a tree in our front yard.  Such fun memories, especially when they were little so the pictures had to show the design on their back packs.  Yes, the mornings were chaotic at first; it’s never easy to fall back into a schedule. But eventually, school fit easily back into the rhythm of the family.

Are you asking whether I missed them during the day?  Well, of course, I did but I enjoyed when they came home , too.  School, especially in the lower grades, offered opportunities for excited conversations.  In the summer, I basically knew what they did all day.  After school, though, I got the excitement of the day as well as what went wrong.

I loved college, especially, ever minute of it and so I didn’t cry there when we took them to school the first time, either. My husband and I had told stories of our college days and took them on college tours.  And then, of course, after the first one, each child had older siblings to tell them about school as well.  I’m down to my last two in college and, I swear, my 19-year-old waited for rain in July to buy school supplies. We’ve had fun together preparing for them to return and both of them know that I won’t cry when I say good-bye but that I’m supporting and loving this step as well.


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Summer’s Here: Are You Ready for “I’m Bored”?

Well, school is out just about everywhere now, and this post is for parents who are looking at a long summer ahead.  My credentials:  I raised four children, two girls and two boys.  Between the oldest and the youngest was a 10 year gap.  We all looked excitedly towards the last day of school, envisioning play dates and pool time galore.  The problem became glaringly obvious quickly.  Everybody got bored with this summer vision and, between the 10 year age gap and the difference in what girls and boys enjoy, summer could become quite a challenge.  Out of pure survival mode, I developed a plan.  It wasn’t hard and fast but it gave me structure.  Pick or choose what works for you.

The first thing I did was decide what I hoped to achieve over the summer.  For example, our school system like many these days, assigned summer reading and worksheets which had to be turned in when school started.  If you let it slide, Labor Day weekend was spent in stress mode, trying to get it done by the first day of school.  For me, I also wanted my young children to practice their handwriting, to get some exercise and to take part in some of the summer youth programs available in our area.  These lead to the following:

  • We found a cultural center offering weekly arts programs for children.  You signed up in advance but the programs were free. (Tip:  don’t wait to sign up.)  We witnessed short stage dramas (one even brought the actress who was to be a witch on stage to put her scary make-up on so she wouldn’t frighten the children), puppetry, music and dance.  The shows were timed for a child’s attention span and were perfect for children up to 6th grade.  Cultural arts for free!
  • We participated in our neighborhood’s swim team.  Swim teams are fantastic for families because regardless of age, all  of your children can participate.  If your child is not a great swimmer, the daily practice will change that.  Most swim teams also provide some occasional social activity which, again, works for all.
  • Almost every area has some historic components.  We live in an area rich with historic sites.  Many people never take advantage of those near to you.  I was guilty of that, going to see them mostly when family came in from out of town.  See your town.  Pretend you’re on vacation and tour it.
  • Periodically, we had international night at home.  Dinner was a non-complicated dish that was from a foreign country.  Nothing fancy  here, even spaghetti qualifies.  Go to the library and get an easy travel book so you can learn something about the country and a “learn the language” CD.  Then we would rent a movie from that country, subtitles and all.  It was fun to hear the language and try it.  Now renting is trickier so if you don’t have netflix, I suggest checking with the library.  Many of them offer movie rentals, too.  I don’t know if you can find them on Red Box for a $1.  That would still be a good deal.
  • Everybody had to write a letter once a week.  The most frequent recipients were grandparents, who were thrilled to receive the letters and who took the time to write back.  Children love to get mail.  Sometimes they wrote to musicians or sports idols.  My two sons once wrote to their biggest baseball idols.  I won’t speak badly of the one who never wrote back or even had his people do it but a tip of a mother’s cap and a warm thank you to Cal Ripken, Jr.  of the Baltimore Orioles who did respond and thrill my young son.  Letters not only helped my children practice their writing but taught them about the world around them.
  • Starting in July, we would pick times now and then to work away at required school work.
  • School supply shopping always happened on the first rainy day in July. Trust me, its a lot less crowded than in late August.
  • Speaking of that, if your children are small, summer is good for puddle-stomping.  After one of those late afternoon storms, put the rain boots on your children and go for a walk.  My neighbors used to love to watch my children as they joyfully stomped through ever puddle left behind after the storms.
  • Our back-up plan:  the “I’m Bored” jar.  It sat on top of our refrigerator and was filled with folded pieces of paper, each bearing an activity to do if you’re bored.  You never knew what it would be, unusual toys or games, a “call a friend” to play, something new to do outside or any of a large number of activities.

So, there you have it.  I may have forgotten something but most of these ideas are either free or cheap,  interesting for all and they help guarantee the children will have something to talk about in their “What I did on my summer vacation” paper.  And don’t think our entire summer was planned.  All children need some unplanned down time for their imaginations to grow.  That can’t be scheduled.  Happy Summer!