Monthly Archives: May 2012



After remembering Eleanore and Mitty’s Love Story, my thoughts now wander to yet another Love Story.

It all started with a slim gold wedding ring and a text message. “Hey! Mom!  You know that thin gold ring you gave me a long time ago?  The inside is  engraved  . . . TIFFANY . . . and there is more engraving that’s Nov. 3, 1914 PGL to LMD . . . what’s the story behind this???   It’s AWESOME!!!

Lucy Mary D.

Paul George L.
playing poker with Paul George L.

We were traveling in the car.  My husband of 31 years was driving, as I read the two text messages from our daughter out loud.  He immediately suggested his grandparents.  As their last name began with a “D”.  I said, “no way, your Mother only gave me one piece of jewelry and it’s in the safe deposit box.  That ring came from my mother’s things.  Remember when she died and my sister kept both Mom’s and Gram’s diamond rings, and gave me that box of “junk” jewelry?  The ring I gave Lisa in High School was from that box.  Humm. . . PGL to LMD.  Paul George L. to Lucy Mary D? ” That would be my grandfather to my grandmother back in November of 1914.  At that time they lived in a small coastal town on the Jersey Shore.   Could this small ring be telling us their Love Story?  

In 1914, to buy a Tiffany ring Paul would have taken the train to NYC from Long Branch, well over an hour’s ride.  Not to mention, maybe also a ferry ride each way to get to New York City to buy a wedding ring.  From the size of the ring he obviously did not have much money, but he wanted to give Lucy a good ring and is seemed only Tiffany’s would do.  To confirm the story, when we returned home later that day I called my Aunt and Uncle.  Yes, Paul George L.  married Lucy Mary D. November 3, 1914!

We will never know if Paul  really did travel to New York City to purchase the slim, gold ring for his beloved.  No matter how he acquired the ring, this is the way I choose to remember them both.  Sadly, I never met Paul as he died when my mom and her brothers were young.  As a young widow, out of necessity, Lucy, our Gram, went on to be a full time working mother and career women at a time when very few women left home to support their families.  


I promise to share   Lucy’s remarkable story on another day.  It was only by chance that I passed the slim gold ring to Lisa.   I am thankful that by doing so, we uncovered Lucy and Paul’s Love Story.



We fly our flags this weekend to honor our fallen heros.
We owe a great debt of thanks to all the veterans of the U.S.A.

As I think about what Memorial Day means, I remember this World War II, Love Story.

My parents met before the war. Like everyone else, when Pearl Harbor was attacked,  Mitty enlisted.   He must have taken an aptitude test because before he shipped out, he was sent to Telegraph School.  There are photographs in Mom’s old album of Dad’s first day at school and then at graduation.  Upon graduation he received his assignment and went directly over seas.  For months, Eleanore and Mitty wrote letters back and forth.  At some point, Dad had leave in the U.S. and landed in Kansas City, MO.  He asked my mom to get on a train and come as fast as she could to Kansas City, MO.   He asked her to marry him. 

War Time Wedding Portrait of Eleanore and Mitty

Eleanore grew up and lived in a small New Jersey coastal town.  At that point in her life, I believe the farthest she traveled from New Jersey, was to New York.  It’s hard for me to imagine her taking a train across the country.  I do think her love for my father made her brave and strong.

At Sunday dinner, she announced to the family that she was going to Kansas City to marry her beloved, Mitty.  My Aunt Frances, Gram’s sister and  family matriarch, said:   “No, you are not getting on a train and traveling alone across this country!”  

Lucky for my Mom, her older brother, Alfred was at dinner.  He stood up,  and firmly told Aunt Frances, “Eleanore loves Mitty.   As far as he was concerned, she was getting on the next train to Kansas City to go and marry him.” That day, Uncle Alfred became the head of the family. Although Mom was close with both her brothers, I now understand why Eleanore so loved and adored her big brother, Alfred.
Dad on his ship at work sending and receiving coded messages.

I am sure that Uncle Alfred put Eleanore on that train and Mitty met her at the station in Kansas City.  They married, like so many other couples did at that time.  She stayed with him until he shipped out again, over seas.  

Happy Newlyweds strolling in downtown Kansas City, MO

Uncle Alfred in uniform

Younger brother, my Uncle Joe in uniform

Uncle Joe in the field

Uncle Alfred

Eleanore and Alfred as children

We were a lucky family.  My dad and my uncles all survived WWII.  They came home and each went their separate ways.   In spite of the distance separating everyone, the family remained close.  I have great memories of visits during holidays, vacations and birthdays.   Eleanore and Mitty remained together until his death from heart failure in 1972.  Eleanore was never the same after he left us.  She eventually succumbed to cancer in 1981.  When I think of them I always see them together: happy and completely in love.




In my last post I mentioned I had been sewing.  Over the years, I go in and out of sewing.  It started when Lisa was small and I decided to make her a dress.  

Then we planned a Birthday Party at a Chocolate Factory, and I decided to make aprons for all the party attendees.  

Then years passed and I did little or no sewing except for a Halloween costume or two, until I started practicing Yoga, again and taking a Yoga Teacher Certification course.  Then I came up with my Yogi Bags.  The Yogi bags started because I was practicing Yoga with friends in my neighborhood.  We often rode bikes to each others home to practice.  How do you carry a Yoga mat on a bike?  So, I made a simple bag for myself, and then  bags for friends, then more elaborate bags, and on and on.  

The Yogi Bags are fun to make and I learned a lot about sewing by making them.  From time to time someone needs a bag and I have a nice selection to offer.  

Earlier in the blog I posted about a small bag I had found as inspiration  to make my own small Pocket Bag.  Using fabric on hand, I eventually morphed the small Pocket Bag into a big Pocket Bag.  This is what they turned out to be:  

The bags are fun to make and like my Yogi Bags, they have one on a kind vintage buttons.  No two are exactly alike (I cannot do anything the same way, twice, anyway) and they all carry the Good Karma Yogi Bag label!  Like the Yoga Mat Bags, they are fun/addictive to make.  All it takes to get me going is some fun fabrics.  

If you are interesting in sewing, but have never sewn before, I will share with you a bit of advise from an old friend from Boston, MA,  Alice Ann.  She always said, “half of sewing is ironing.”  Turns out that this is very true!  Wash and iron your fabrics first and then continue to iron all through the project.  If you can iron a straight line you can sew one, too!  

When my bags become a big business you all can say you knew me when . . . .  Now, instead of messing around on the computer, or with the sewing machine, I must focus on getting my real house in order!  



It’s Sunday and after a bit of sewing, it’s time to do some cooking!  We are running low on sauce, so I will make Gram’s Meatballs and my Mom’s Tomato Sauce!  Before getting started, let me share with you why I need to make homemade Tomato Sauce.  It’s all about the PIZZA! 

Most Friday nights, I make Pizza.  Back in the day (Texas) I would make my own dough, but living in Florida, where we have a Publix Grocery Store, I have succumbed  to buying my dough from their bakery.  Just preheat the oven, roll out the dough, add sauce, minced garlic, salt and pepper, garlic powder, fresh basil, spinach, chicken sausage, onions, mozzarella cheese.  Well, you get the picture.  It’s perfect for dinner and a movie in “The Man Cave” with a glass of red wine.

Friday night I noticed my frozen supply of Tomato Sauce was getting low, so today, I got to work cooking.  Starting with my Gram’s meatballs.  What I remember most about Grandma  Lucy’s meatballs is that they were delicious.  So was her sauce, but I do not have her recipe for sauce.  Anyway, they were flavorful because she used a lot of grated cheese and minced/grated/pressed garlic.  When I asked her for the recipe, she told me a handful or this and that.  Over the years, my rule of thumb is when in doubt, add more cheese, add more garlic!  They taste great every time.  

Grandma Lucy is in the middle of my Dad’s sister,
Aunt Suzie  and her daughter Marie Soldo

My favorite memory of being a kid was waking up on a Saturday or Sunday morning to the smell of meatballs cooking in the kitchen.  My mom would always give me a “taste”.  Fantastic, and so delicious!

I always use my Mom’s large Tupperware bowl.
This is what you need for  Meatballs.

Don’t even attempt to make Meatballs without garlic.

Start with fresh “Market Ground” beef, add one egg, some
 Italian breadcrumbs, and grate Romano cheese over all.

Add minced or grated garlic, parsley, salt and pepper.

Mix all of the ingredients by hand and form balls.  

Heat Olive Oil over medium, and add some of the meatballs.
They are starting to brown up and look good!
 This is how they turned out:
Now, onto the sauce!  When I asked my Mom how to make sauce, she was very ill.  I remember sitting across from her at our kitchen table and writing it all down on the reverse of a used envelop.  I never understood why my mom saved and used everything to the last drop until I was much older.  Of course, having survived WWII, she learned how to stretch a dollar.  I admire her as the first person to influence me to conserve and reuse.  To learn how to make something out of almost nothing.  My sauce recipe started with my Mom and it has evolved over the years, so honestly, it’s a combo recipe created by us both.  However, I still like to give her credit for it because no one cooked better than my Mom!
Eleanore, my Mom in our family room
at 363 Branch Ave., Little Silver, NJ 

Eleanore & Mitty (Mommy & Daddy)
young, and in love, before I was born.

First things first, start with Italian tomato’s.  
The can must say imported from Italy. This is what you need.  It’s so easy, why not make some homemade sauce?

I like to add the vegetables because it gives the sauce body and texture.  Start by cleaning the onion, celery, carrot and garlic and putting in the food processor.  Mince to a fine consistency.  

Brown the vegetables in the pan you used to make the meatballs.  I drain off the oil  so that the minced vegetables
do not stick to the pan, nor do they swim in oil.
Cook well until all are soft and slightly brown.

Add Tomato Paste and cook well, until the paste is slightly brown.
Remove from pan and put into your crock pot. 

De-glaze the pan with some red wine.  Add the wine and pan drippings to the crock pot.

Now, start opening up the tomato cans and puree them in your food processor.  Add the tomato’s to the crock pot.

Mix the tomato, wine and vegetables.  You can thin with more red wine or beef broth.  

Take a break and “test” a meatball!

Cover the crock pot and cook on high until bubbly, then on low for several hours.

Oh, and since I am making sauce, how about Chicken Parmesan for dinner tonight?    I am running out of time and so will just post the photographs for now.  

Wash Chicken Breasts in cold water

Dip into flour seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder

Coat Chicken well in flour.  Shake off excess flour.

Dip in beaten water and egg mixture, coat in seasoned breadcrumbs.  Cook on medium in about 2 tablespoons of oil.  Drain on paper towells.
Put fried breasts in oven proof pan, top with sauce,
sprinkle with grated cheese.

Slice mozzarella cheese and place on chicken.  Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 – 40 minutes. Serve with spaghetti and sauce.  

This is one of my “kitchen assistants”.  He likes to hang out in the event I drop something yummy!

A fresh green salad is also nice with Chicken Parmesan.



After the reception, we headed back to Dan’s apartment so that he could change.  Then we drove a few blocks to our Inn.  Dan suggested we forgo a typical hotel for the weekend and instead book one of the many Inns.  I researched all the Inns near Dan’s apartment and booked at The Laurel Oak Inn.  As you can see from the photographs, it was lovely.  When we arrived  the Innkeepers, Peggy and Monta greeted us with chilled glasses of  Chardonnay and delicious appetisers.  After cocktail hour, we cleaned up and headed out to dinner.

When we first planned this visit, Dan suggested we dine at a  fantastic Gainesville Pizza Place.  Sadly, they recently had a fire and will not be open until later this summer.  Although there were several great restauants within walking distance of the Inn, Dan thought it would be more interesting to dine at The Yearling Restaurant, a short drive to Cross Creek, Florida.  

Well, it was a lovely drive through the country.  The Yearling is located next to The Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings state park You remember her, she wrote The Yearling.  Well, we got there too late to visit the park, but the restaurant was very interesting.

Old Truck on display outside of The Yearling

Vintage Farm Machinery on display

Dan and Peter at Dinner

Dan chose The Yearling for dinner for a “Real Florida” experience.  Well, it really is just that!  First off, we entered the front door and heard the music.  Willie Green plays the Blues on Friday and Saturday nights.  He was AMAZING.  He played harmonica and guitar and sang.  Just wonderful, real, BLUES!
The menu has a lot of dishes you can only find in Florida, Alligator, Turtle, etc.  They call turtle “Cooter”!  Sour Orange Pie was for desert.  When I told Lisa about The Yearling, she immediately said it sounded like having dinner at that restaurant in True Blood!  In truth, the atmosphere of The Yearling was not that far off! 

A small footnote about The Yearling is that when Dan and Lisa were very small I remember reading The Yearling aloud to them.  Actually, I read it once to Dan and then again, to Lisa.  We all cried both times!  It remains one of our favorites books to this day!  Dinner at The Yearling was very “Old Florida” and very special!



DAN’S GRADUATION, May 11, 2012 University of Florida Levin School of Law

Last Friday morning we drove to Gainesville for Commencement.  We arrived in time to visit him at his apartment before heading to the ceremony.

Dan’s Truck

Apartment Facade

After our brief visit we drove to the campus.

Stephen C. O’ Connell Center

Here are some photographs of the ceremony highlights! 

Before the Graduates arrive

After they received their Doctor of Justice Mantel

It’s over!  
Dan & Peter

Dan and Peter

Dan and Me

The ceremony was followed by an outdoor reception at the Law School.  Unfortunately it was so hot, I did not get a photo of Dan in his cap and gown.  We had fun, anyway.  
Next entry will be all about dinner that night and our Inn!



Good Karma Yogi Pocket Bag
On Tuesday I picked up a small patchwork bag at House of Hope Thrift. 

 Brought it home and put in on my desk and just thought about it.  Yesterday, after doing paperwork and chores around the house, I decided to iron.  Once the board was up and the iron was hot, I gravitated to my basket of fabric.  Pulled out several pieces of fabric left over from a pillow I had made for Lisa.  The fabric was so fun that I had not been able to toss it away.  Humm . . . I started out just ironing the pieces flat.  After more thought, this is what I came up with:  


Lisa & Nutter Butter
Hobe Sound Beach


As I start to find my way in this new discipline of blogging, it only seem appropriate to state what my goals are for this blog.  I want to share my family, friends, food and “finds”!  My beloved pets, and passion for fitness, specifically, Yoga and Swimming, all here at The Near Far Away.  


Looking out the window deciding what to make.

Cream Cake, perhaps?

Getting started with the cup cake tins and cups.

Whipping up the butter and the sugar.

Chopping walnuts.

Mmmm . . . wish we had a Birthday to celebrate!

Batter filled with walnuts, coconut and butter milk!

In the oven.

Out of the oven.

Yesterday afternoon, I made Italian Cream Cake Cupcakes!