Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Off to New Jersey!

We're down in New Jersey for a couple of weeks, visiting my mom and the rest of the NJ family.  No matter how far I roam, and no matter that I lived here for only a short percentage of my life, I will always be a Jersey girl at heart.  Both my parents grew up in NJ and although we were military and traveled quite a bit, we always called NJ our home base.  My maternal grandparents' home was the place we felt comfortable and secure even though we never had a long term home of our own.  My NJ aunts, uncles and cousins were somewhat of a mystery to me because we didn't grow up with them and were unaccustomed to their ways and traditions, but they were family and I always felt like this was where I belonged.  I spent two years at McGuire AFB, attending freshman and sophomore years of high school--a mixed memory of good times and teen angst.  :)  Even after living in Texas for many years, raising my girls there and making some of the best friends ever, I never considered myself a Texan and never felt that same sense of "home" that I have in "Jersey."

After the long flights from Unalaska to Anchorage to Seattle to Philadelphia (anyone who's been reading this blog for long knows THAT drill by now!), we were picked up by Mom and my niece Becca.  It was great to see them and to catch up with news on the way home.  Of course, we had to pick up hoagies for supper--that's what we do just about every time we come in!  My sister in law Patty and nephew Billy also came by to visit that night.

Rich and I took a walk around Laurel Springs one evening--the weather has been perfect, sunny and warm and you know I love that!  Mom grew up in Laurel Springs, my grandparents lived here until they died, I lived here with two of my daughters while going to grad school, so it's definitely the one place that has provided a lot of continuity in my life.  Here are a few photos from our walk.

Welcome to Laurel Springs!
I love all the big old houses here. They have so much character and each one is unique.
Skipping down my Mom's street!  Yes, I am happy to be here!
Lots of vibrant flowers still blooming...and another nice house
Laurel Lake, where the poet Walt Whitman enjoyed his mud baths back in the day
House, tree, owl, moon

Mom belongs to a "Red Hats" ladies group and October was her month to host the rest of the gang.  Rich cooked a fabulous lunch for them and I had a great time helping serve the guests and chatting with  them about Alaska.  A fun time was had by all!

 My Aunt Jeannette, my Aunt Mary, my Mom's cousin Louise and lots of Mom's fun friends

Aunt Mary and Mom

 My Uncle Tom came by to say hi
 My cousin Timmy and his lovely wife Brandi
My Aunt Mary and me

Another night, my brother Bill, his wife Patty and Mom joined us at Jose Garces' restaurant Amada in Philadelphia.  Rich and I ate at one of Garces' restaurants in Chicago and just LOVED it so we wanted to try this one as well.  We had a great selection of small plates that we shared amongst all of us and everything was fabulous.  Jose Garces is my favorite celebrity chef these days. I am a huge fan!  :)  If you ever have a chance to eat at any of his places, don't miss out!

More to come....

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