Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Mystic L Day

Is there something fishy here..........
One of the highlights of my Christmas stay in Rhode Island was a day at the Mystic Aquarium with Grandson Bobby.
Mystic is one of the smaller aquariums but it is well designed. Of course having Bob Ballard as one of your sponsors doesn't hurt either.

Bobby and i went around the inside exhibits at least 8 times and each time we found something new and interesting. 

While the shark tank was interesting, who decided to hang out with them was better.

After a while we started getting hungry. Especially near the Jelly Fish. With all of the luminescence in the Comb Jelly tank, we were amazed that we couldn't see some Peanut Bunker Fish for a little Peanut Bunker and Jelly Snack. 

Hey!!!!! I heard someone groaning out there...... OK,,,,, i know it's usually a fluke when one of my funnies get a big laugh. Usually they just flounder around. Then i get all crabby and just clam up.  I'm worried that this behavior might get to be a halibut!!!!!!!
Of course we visited other cool friends while there. Skates, Camo Sharks, Sego's, our favorite Sea Lion, some Moray Eels, and a couple Sea Horses.

I bet some of you are wondering if that cute white Beluga whale at the beginning was rolling over with laughter at one of our clever fish tales..... no such luck. He was doing his daily training. Just outside of the picture is a trainer with a BIG bucket of fish.
Grenville [on a rain delay in Jersey] (Go Eagles!!!!!)

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas with Mom

Thanks to everyone for your holiday greetings and well wishes for my mother. She was hospitalized unexpectedly before Christmas in NJ. She has since been transferred a rehab facility, where she is expected to remain for the next couple of weeks.

These photos from a Christmas Day visit. Top left to right, mom with granddaughters (and our nieces), Julie and Jamie. Bottom left to right, myself & mom, mom in holiday wear, and myself and brother Tony.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Got Ears?

Attention-getter for this company's business . . . car is much cuter than those pests.

Royal Parking ? . . . car and sign were in the parking lot of a Renaissance Festival in PA.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Celebration

Grandpa Grenville is spending Christmas with grandson and granddaughter Ellie in RI and also visiting other New England family. Here are some photos that he and their mom sent recently.
Even though we're separated by distance and the need to be with family members in differing states this Christmas, seeing these photos has been heartwarming for me.

Grenville is on a day trip today with grqndson and will have more photos to post. He brought his camera and will share photos another time.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas All

Grenville and Beatrice (Patrick & Dorothy) wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Frog & PenguINN and our feathered friends (Harold & Maude).

Thanks for your comments, support and friendship this year; all are very much appreciated. Bloggers are a special community; please give yourselves a big hug from us (smile).

(Update: Dorothy's mom remains in a NJ rehab facility for physical therapy where Dorothy will be visiting on Christmas Day.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Jesus

I know i'm repeating last years post, but i'm always so moved by this short sermon i feel it should be repeated.

In 1926 an obscure Los Angels preacher, Dr. James Allan Francis, wrote a short sermon of just 245 words. Words about a solitary life from an obscure village. A solitary life that would impact the human race for over two centuries. As Dr. Francis wrote, I wonder if he realized the impact his words would still have 85 years later.

It’s Christmas. A time Christians the world over will celebrate the birth of a solitary man from an obscure village. A man who has had a most profound effect on the human race. A man we know as Jesus of Nazareth. I wonder if either of these men realized how much they would affect future generations.

Let us turn now to the story. A child is born in an obscure village. He is brought up in another obscure village. He works in a carpenter shop until he is thirty, and then for three brief years is an itinerant preacher, proclaiming a message and living a life. He never writes a book. He never holds an office. He never raises an army. He never has a family of his own. He never owns a home. He never goes to college. He never travels two hundred miles from the place where he was born. He gathers a little group of friends about him and teaches them his way of life. While still a young man, the tide of popular feeling turns against him. One denies him; another betrays him. He is turned over to his enemies. He goes through the mockery of a trial; he is nailed to a cross between two thieves, and when dead is laid in a borrowed grave by the kindness of a friend.
Those are the facts of his human life. He rises from the dead. Today we look back across nineteen hundred years and ask, What kind of trail has he left across the centuries? When we try to sum up his influence, all the armies that ever marched, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned are absolutely picayune in their influence on mankind compared with that of this one solitary life…
“The Real Jesus and Other Sermons” © 1926 by the Judson Press of Philadelphia (pp 123-124 titled “Arise Sir Knight!”).

Whether or not you believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, his influence on the human race is unquestionable. It is His birth we celebrate today.

Peace on Earth, Good will to all.
Merry Christmas.
Happy Birthday Jesus.


It's Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve and there really is magic in the air. 
As most of you know, this Christmas Princess Beatrice and I are in two different places taking care of family.
I was going to write about this very special time, but one of my favorite musical groups, Alabama, just came on Pandora and has said it best in their song Happy Holidays.
Smilin' faces on city streets
Crowded shoppers, busy feet
And every smile just seems to say
We're having some happy holidays

Twinklin' lights on Christmas trees

Kids up on Santa's knee
Busy lines on telephones
Sending a Merry Christmas home

Bells ringing everywhere

Season spirit in the air
Up and down the avenue
Holiday dreams comin' true

A choir singing songs of cheer

Carols we all love to hear
Rudolph with his glowin' nose
Lovers under mistletoe

Postman bringin' Christmas cards

Reindeer out in the yard
Frosty with his eyes of coal
Present wrapped in pretty bows

Sidewalks full of happy eyes

Flakes fallin' from the sky
Boys and girls at the big parade to see
St. Nick up on his sleigh

The scene is set, it's beautiful

Sounds of peace, joy and love
From all of us we'd like to say
Have yourself some happy holidays


Not the Grinch Spirit

How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a Christmas story in rhymed verse written and illustrated by Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss). It was published in 1957 as a book by Random House and in Redbook magazine. The book criticizes the commercialization of Christmas.

The Grinch is a bitter, cave-dwelling grouch with a heart "2 sizes too small" living on snowy Mount Crumpit with his loyal dog, Max, just north of Whoville, home of the merry Whos. From his steep perch, the Grinch hears the noisy pre-holiday Whoville festivities. Annoyed, he decides to stop Christmas from coming and steals their presents, trees, decorations and food, which he plans to dump off the mountain.

Expecting to hear bitter and sorrowful cries, instead he hears the Who's singing joyously on Christmas. It occurs to him that Maybe Christmas, means a little bit more than presents and feasting. His shrunken heart grows 3 sizes larger, he returns everything, and is invited to the Whos' celebrations. (In 2000, the book was adapted into a film starring Jim Carrey, and is on our Christmas "must-see" list.)

What does this story have to do with this post?
In the past few days, there's been news of some retailers staying open 24 hours or over 100 hours non-stop for last-minute shopping frenzies. CRAZY, we agree, BUT, as the Grinch learned, just maybe Christmas means a little LOT more . . . 
  • In PA, police officers reached out to help make Christmas merry for 10 children of officers killed or injured in the line of duty. The initial 10 kids bloomed to over 2 dozen in other states.
  • At an Indiana children's hospital, "elves" decked out in pointy shoes and hats and red and green rappelled down the side of the 10-story building outside children's windows while the children waved and smiled; Santa made his rounds indoors. 
  • Children's Healthcare in Atlanta brought a snowy wonderland to all 3 of its hospitals at the same time in December. Despite 57-degree weather, it snowed for an hour outside hospital rooms surprising children being treated for cancer or awaiting heart transplants. The hospital hired Magic F/X, which works with Disney on snow shows. The company assembled over 30 snow machines with gallons of snow fluid on the hospital rooftops. The real-looking "snow" felt like cotton.
  • Travelers at Toronto and Hamilton Airports shared Christmas wishes with a virtual Santa as about 200 WestJet employees listened via 19 hidden camera at the airports. After travelers boarded, employees hurried to make wishes come true. Upon landing, the carousel buzzer sounded as disembarking passengers didn't see luggage but snow falling and gifts from "Santa" with their names. Gifts included a "choo-choo" train, camera, a flight home for the holidays, even socks and underwear. (Last year, the Canadian carrier surprised passengers with a flash mob of singing and dancing elves.)
  • In Joplin, MO, a Secret Santa gave Salvation Army kettle ringers a BIG surprise. As totals were counted, 5 checks of $10,000 each were found wrapped inside $1 bills. The responsible person(s) remain anonymous and over the past years have given nearly $500,000.
  • NOCOShares (Northern Colorado Shares) delivered 350 Christmas trees (freshly cut or artificial if allergies) to families in need. 

Believe . . . there are MANY folks helping Santa this year.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Snowy Woods

This snowy scene was taken in the New Jersey Pine Barrens in Double Trouble State Park, which we visited often when we lived in NJ. It reminded me of a favorite poem, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening; maybe it's also a favorite of yours.

Poet Robert Frost wrote Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening in 1922, two years before he won the first of his four Pulitzer Prizes. That happened in 1923, when this poem was  published in his New Hampshire volume.

Frost wrote the poem in June at his Vermont home. He had stayed up all night writing the longer poem, New Hampshire, and when finished, realized that it was morning. Stopping to watch the sunrise, he had the idea for this poem, writing about a snowy evening in several minutes and in summertime. 

Born in San Francisco, CA, Frost spent most of his years in New England. When asked to reveal the "hidden" meaning of his poems, he replied, "If I wanted you to know, I'd have told you in the poem."

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening has been used to eulogize notables, including the late U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. 
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep. 

by Robert Frost

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Merry Christmas Darling

Christmas is being celebrated by Grenville (Pat) and myself (Dorothy) in different locations this year due to family situations in NJ and New England.

But, we fondly recall past Christmas celebrations at The Frog & PenguINN when the tree was decorated and stockings hung with care. A snowfall made the holiday complete!

So, this Christmas, one of our favorite holiday songs, Merry Christmas Darling, by Karen & Richard Carpenter) is definitely in our thoughts.

Merry Christmas Darling was originally recorded in 1970, and was first available on a 7-inch single, which reached No. 1 on Billboard's Christmas singles chart that year, and also in 1971 and 1973. In 1978, The Carpenters issued a Christmas Portrait album, which contained a new remix of Merry Christmas Darling. The original 1970 mix continued to be used for all single releases, and the major difference between it and the 1978 version was a newly recorded vocal by Karen Carpenter. Richard Carpenter called the original recording one of his sister's best (and we agree).

This is from me to Pat, and if you and your loved one(s) are also separated it's for you too.

Merry Christmas Darling

Greeting cards have all been sent
The Christmas rush is through
But I still have one wish to make
A special one for you

Merry Christmas Darling
We're apart that's true
But I can dream and in my dreams
I'm Christmasing with you

Holidays are joyful
There's always something new
But ev'ryday's a holiday
When I'm near to you

The lights on my tree
I wish you could see
I wish it ev'ry day
Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say

That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year too
I've just one wish on this Christmas eve
I wish I were with you

by Richard L. Carpenter & Frank Pooler

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Don't Deflate

In the hustle and bustle of Christmas and last minute rushing . . . 

It's important to NOT let your spirits fall flat.

And keep smiling . . . as much as possible.

(Update on my mom: she was released from the hospital this week and transferred to a rehab facility to get her strength back. Pat/Grenville is now in New England, while I remain in NJ for Christmas week. We will celebrate long-distance this holiday.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Funnies

We spotted the name of this car dealership while driving on Rte 22 in North Plainfield, NJ, this week.

Of course, we wondered whether it referred to the type of cars being sold or what they do on the road. 

This is a shot of heavily-travelled Rte 22 in late afternoon rush traffic.

Wish you were here?
(We wished we were not.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Seven Already

This holiday season is not the first time we have hurriedly left VA during the holiday season. In the rush of leaving to drive to NJ, we neglected to post that grandson celebrated his 7th birthday a week ago.

We left VA just as hurriedly when his birth was imminent in CA, seven years ago. 

He was the best holiday gift of 2006 . . . red is still his favorite color.

This year, we couldn't be with he and his family, but his mom shared these images of a very happy birthday boy. 

And, there will be more happiness for both grands with Christmas arriving next week.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Snow and Feeling Better

Thanks to everyone for the well wishes and prayers for my mom, all are appreciated. She is feeling better day by day.

Thankfully, my brother took her to the hospital before the snow worsened on Saturday. Also, it thankfully held off snowing again as while we travelled from VA to NJ on Monday. We were able to visit briefly on Monday night.

Monday overnight it started snowing again continuing on and off throughout the day. This winter view was seen from our motel. Granted it's not the most scenic, but then we didn't venture out early as Monday had been a long day.

By early afternoon, we headed out to visit my mom, who was feeling much better than at our previous visit. The snow had become a slushy mess on the roadways, but what remained on the trees and roadsides was still pretty to us.

Heading back to the motel during rush hour traffic on Route 22, the snowy slush gave car lights an holiday light "look."

Sometimes, we need to find holiday magic wherever and whenever possible.  

Unexpected Travel

We are currently in our native NJ for a family visit. Unfortunately this is not a happy holiday road trip. My mother was admitted to a hospital over the weekend and at 91 years of age, any admittance is a serious matter.

After getting the call from my brother Sat night, Grenville (Pat) and myself (Dorothy) took care of things at home. On Monday after loading up, we drove the 6+ hours to NJ in two vehicles. Pat is continuing to New England by the end of this week for family visits in RI and CT, where folks there are also dealing with family/medical issues. I will stay in NJ for Christmas week. While this was our original plan for this holiday season, it started a week earlier than expected.

We don't yet have an "official" diagnosis arriving at the hospital late last night. However, nursing staff told us the "issues" included dehydration and an infection. 

Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts and prayers; all are greatly appreciated.

The above photo was taken a few years ago at the CT home of Pat's aunt, who is also facing serious medical issues. And, while only a photo, we hope these candles offer the light of hope for everyone, especially those dealing with similar situations.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Family Time

FYI — This post was removed as the photos included were no longer being shown. Thanks to all for your comments, which were read at the time of the original posting.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Coal for Spammers & Phishers

imageTis the season for lots of activities, including an increasing amount of spam and phishing emails being sent. Yesterday, we received emails at our blog email and my email (both at Gmail) purportedly from a fellow blogger. We recognized this as a fake and deleted them and the email address it was sent from which was connected to the blog (after resuscitating from the trash). I decided to re-post it as a warning. It really made me very angry (does it show?).

It’s a shame that some unscrupulous folks have nothing better to do — isn’t Wal-Mart open 24 hours?

This is a FAKE phishing email (copied as received). IF you ever get anything similar, you should also DELETE it. I’ve omitted the blogger’s name AND blog name as I didn’t think it appropriate to include. The message is as received:

Subject: What a Terrible Experience!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (blogger’s name)

I Hope you get this on time, I made a trip to Ukraine and had my bag stolen from me with my passport and personal effects therein. The embassy has just issued me a temporary passport but I have to pay for a ticket and settle my hotel bills with the Manager.

I have made contact with my bank but it would take me 3-5 working days to access funds in my account, the bad news is my flight will be leaving very soon but I am having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let me leave until I settle the bills, I need your help/LOAN financially and I promise to make the refund once I get back home, you are my last resort and hope, All i need now is $2,650 USD Please let me know if I can count on you and I need you to keep checking your email because it's the only way I can reach you.


This blogger was on our sidebar list of blogs (but has since been deleted). After the phishing attempt, I left a message on the blog to alert the blogger that her email (at Gmail) had been hacked and quite possibly other bloggers had received this sham email. Last night, I clicked on the blog to check for a response. This is what displayed (again the blog name has been omitted):

Blog has been removed

Sorry, the blog at has been removed. This address is not available for new blogs.

It’s a shame that the blogger had to end it, but most likely did it as a precautionary measure. Hopefully, another one will be created with a different email.

This is NOT the first time we’ve received phishing emails like this (certainly not the last). There was one supposedly from our credit card company last week. We contacted them and then forwarded the email to their fraud department. We suspect that keeping contacts listings online allows a higher risk of having them hacked. I previously had an online Yahoo contacts list online and it was hacked. I deleted it after sending everyone a message NOT to open/reply to any emails sent from it.

We DO NOT keep contacts online at Gmail, Yahoo, or Verizon and retain them on our devices.

Do you have a similar experience OR suggestions on preventative actions ?
Have you received similar scam/phishing emails ?

Rant over. Enjoy the weekend and for those who have snow in the forecast, be safe.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Frosty Flamingoes

We had an overnight frost yesterday, which while not the first of the season, came after 2+ days of rain, Grenville was hoping for at least one snowflake (me too), but nary a dusting here.  We’ve been enjoying snowy and frosty images on fellow bloggers site; maybe next time for us.

That said, the frost made for a beautiful morning view outside our kitchen window. berry lites

Those are NOT not holiday lights, but light reflections from the berry-like (called pomes) of this pyrocantha shrub by the side patio. It produces flowers in late spring and early summer; pomes develop from late summer and mature in late autumn, just in time for the holidays. Many folks use the pomes in natural decorations.Frosted berries2

DSCN5531My first thought was to title this post “frosted windowpanes” in keeping with the holiday time and hearing that line from Christmas Waltz in my mind. But my Jeep windshield isn’t a good replacement — not even close.

Frost-covered foliage presented wintry images during a short walk around the Frog & PenguINN yard. Pine trees would have been wonderful if snow-covered, but there’s still lots of winter weather left.frosted pinesFrosted foliage

We still have had some fresh parsley and a very large rosemary bush, which manages to hang on despite all types of weather and several re-plantings.frosted herbs

Interesting images, at least to me, were everyday objects that had tiny frost hairs(?) clinging to them, however briefly — a grill thermometer, frozen bird bath, railing, car mirror — and a light with a great winter cap.frost patterns1

Some backyard frogs (penguins were obviously smarter) were still hanging out in the yard; one even managed some reading.frosted frogs

About that post title, it refers to these two backyard residents that didn’t fly south (or anywhere) for the winter, plastic wings don’t do well for flying.frosty flamingoes

Sure, we would have liked white vs. wet weather, especially at the holidays. We know that folks in other parts of the U.S. may be wishing otherwise after getting (lots of) snow. If that’s affected you or loved ones, we hope all are safe.

How are your pre- holidays going?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Muffin Mistake

Last week’s recipe post for Apple-Orange Muffins was missing an ingredient, which I learned when redoing the recipe today. Some of the sugar was left out before; so here’s the complete revised recipe.

Apple-Orange Whole Wheat Muffins

As before, you can make changes/additions to this mix. Today’s version included raisins and chopped pecans with orange and lemon zest. And, since we didn’t have buttermilk or yogurt, I added lemon juice to milk and it worked fine.

  • 1 C whole wheat flour (4 oz.)
  • 1 C+ white all-purpose flour (4-1/4 oz.)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg (optional)
  • ½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temp
    OR ¼ C canola oil and ¼ C applesauce
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • ¾ C brown sugar divided (1/2 C + ¼ C)
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 C buttermilk OR 1 C yogurt (or mix of each) *
  • 2 large apples, peeled, cored, coarsely chopped
  • 2 TBSP orange juice
  • 1-2 TBSP orange zest (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ C chopped nuts (optional)

* can substitute regular milk and 1 TBSP lemon juice OR white vinegar for buttermilk.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

  1. Flour 12 muffin tins OR line with paper (grease paper insides).
  2. Mix flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt in separate mixing bowl.
  3. Cream butter, add white sugar and ¼ C of brown sugar. Beat until fluffy, add egg. Mix well and add in buttermilk or yogurt.
  4. Stir in apple chunks and dry ingredients, including orange zest (if using) and orange juice.
  5. Divide batter into muffin tins; sprinkle tops with remaining ½ C brown sugar.

Bake 25-30 minutes until toothpick in center is clean. Cool 5 minutes; turn out ontoapple-orange muffins1208 (4) rack(s) to finish cooling.

Enjoy with a fresh cup of coffee.

That’s what we did on a rainy and chilly Sunday morning.