Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Simple Joys

Welcome back to Simple Joys on this Tuesday following Memorial Day Monday. This week my Simple Joys do revolve around this most solemn holiday. Even during somber occasions I am able to identify the Simple Joys around me now. That wasn’t always the case and for this I am most grateful. Now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Memorial Day Parade. Since my oldest child joined the Cub Scouts in the end of his Kindergarten year, we, as a family, have taken part in our town’s Memorial Day Parade. The boys dress in their handsome Class A uniforms, march holding American flags, and stay at the conclusion of the parade for the program that follows honoring those who have fallen. They, young boys, seem to understand the gravity of the situation, and, although they can get a bit squirmy, can pull it together to sit or stand quietly while ceremonial wreaths are laid in honor of fallen heroes. This year the boys were dressed in their Webelos uniforms, akin to the Boy Scout uniform they will wear in two short years. At the conclusion of this year’s parade a crowd of hundreds gathered in Veteran’s Field to honor two men from our town who had died in battle. The families of these men were the guests of honor, and their memories of their loved ones, their son and brother, were spoken eloquently and emotionally. One man had died in battle during the Vietnam War in 1968. The other man was killed in October 2010 while serving in Afghanistan. His military brothers came to show respect and honor one of their own. It was incredibly moving and left me overwhelmed with emotion. I stood shoulder to shoulder with these soldiers, and, in front of me, were my son and his Den brothers. Both groups looked so young to me; the soldiers clearly men but many with boyish faces. My Webelos, in various gawky stages of youth, are closer in age to the soldiers than I care to acknowledge. Looking at the soldiers and listening to family members reminisce about sweet young boys who loved their mothers was simply too much for me. The tears fell unabashedly. I held my son tightly and made sure to tell him, as I do anyway, how much I love him. It was a Simple Joy to be a part of this community that circled around to offer support of these two native families, be a part of something bigger than a barbeque over the holiday weekend, and truly remember the reason we celebrate Memorial Day Weekend. God Bless America and God Bless all of the families who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country and our freedoms.

Dr. Rus. I joined Twitter in October 2010 to little fanfare and even fewer followers. It wasn’t until several months later that I found and followed a man named “DrRus” that my Twitter world expanded. His profile intrigued me and we seemed to have a bit in common. I finally gathered my courage and sent Dr. Rus a direct message to assess my career path. To my surprise and delight Dr. Rus replied almost immediately with good advice. Over the weeks I kept doing my thing, posting my links, and commenting on Dr. Rus’ tweets. We forged an acquaintance then a friendship. We’ve never met, but we are indeed friends. From movies to music, our love of people and our positive way we approach life, Dr. Rus and I are cut from the same cloth. When I got a “RT” (retweet) from Dr. Rus it was like receiving the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. I am in awe of him, Dr. Rus is even more than a friend, he is a mentor and someone I look up to in awe. Dr. Rus has three children like I do, and out of his three sons two serve in the military. In an effort to support his boys and the many military families in our country, Dr. Rus works tirelessly to keep them in the forefront of people’s minds. He has developed and implemented several programs that help families stay connected while their family member serves. It would be a great service to all military families if you would check out the programs Dr. Rus created and supports. Please take a moment to read the information on the following links:

About General Sarge - http://generalsarge.com/about/
Familes First Campaign - http://generalsarge.com/families-first-campaign/

Dr. Rus is an inspiration and a true friend. He is a man who, along with his lovely wife, has raised three wonderful young men, two of whom serve in the military. His light, dedication, and life are why I am proud to be one of his friends. I believe in Dr. Rus and his selfless projects that support our military families. Knowing and talking to Dr. Rus is a richly rewarding Simple Joy.

Working Together. The holiday weekend brought with it time off for my husband. He and I often find it difficult to spend quality time when our three children require so much of it, but we do try… and succeed. This weekend found us in our local Lowe’s with a laundry list of needs, the last of which was a new storm/screen door. We bought the door, brought it home, and my husband started to work on hanging it. Shortly after beginning the project my husband asked for some quick help. With our baby daughter napping and our two young sons safely playing under our supervision, we set to work together on the chore at hand. It took a few hours from start to finish, but we successfully hung the door without fighting, bickering, or swearing (at one another) which is wonderful! Completing a project together strengthens our relationship like little else can. Once again we proved to ourselves that working together as a team makes us far more successful than working alone. Completing a task with my husband is a huge and satisfying Simple Joy.

I hope you all enjoyed another fine week, found some time to reflect over the long Memorial Day weekend, and will make time to check out Dr. Rus’ links. One way to find and appreciate the Simple Joys in life is to help those who need it. Thank you for taking the time to make my Simple Joys a part of your day/week. I look forward to reading your Simple Joys!

Please join me tomorrow when I wax poetic about a totally new topic!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome back to the Monday Movie Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. Today is Memorial Day, a day for reflection, being thankful and grateful, and honoring those who fought and died serving our country. In addition to the prayers being offered up, remember to actively do something in honor of this day.

Memorial Day Weekend has also been the unofficial start to summer for decades! Hollywood, fully understanding that people have more time off thus more time to spend money to sit in a cool, darkened theater, offer up their Summer Blockbusters. Others stay home to catch up on the many movies they had intended to see in the theater but for countless reasons, could not. This is a resource being created, alphabetically, that provides those who wish it, movie titles to rent, select, watch, and rewatch whenever the mood strikes.

This week’s focus is movies that begin with the letter “U”. A more difficult prompt than other letters, “U” definitely has made a mark in moviedom. Please list the movie title that begins with “U” as well as a brief synopsis or review of the film. Also, remember to list the stars if pertinent.

To add a theme to this week’s topic, along with any movies that begin with the letter “U”, include your favorite patriotic/war movie. Same guidelines apply. There have been several subtopics introduced throughout the months that provide yet another cross-reference for hardcore movie lovers.

I look forward to seeing the responses to “U” movies as well as patriotic/war movies. I check often to read comments, posts, and selections. Please consider joining me tomorrow for the most uplifting post of the week, Simple Joys.

Happy Memorial Day everybody! Thank you to the valiant men and women who have served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you to their families who still grieve. God Bless America.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chuck "Cold Steel" O'Neil for Real

Here is a sample of some of the writing I do for my other sites. This kid is phenomenal, loyal, and hardcore. Enjoy!

Instantly engaging, ruggedly sexy, intelligent, dedicated, relentless, strong and intimidating are some of the words to describe Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil, contestant on the wildly popular The Ultimate Fighter Season 13 on Spike cable television. Brought on the show as an alternate, O’Neil has taken a bumpy road to reach the spot he is now, including lucking into a fight, losing to fellow contestant Zach Davis, and securing the wild card position that allowed him to fight another day after that loss! A win during the week of May 11th secured his rightful place of prospective champions for this season.

Chuck O’Neil’s story, however, starts long before the start of Season 13 of The Ultimate Fighter. Born in 1985 in Bourne, Massachusetts, a community near Cape Cod, O’Neil was an active child engaged in several recreational sports. Although interested in wrestling, the Bourne High School didn’t even offer the sport so O’Neil was unable to train in this discipline, a crucial part of any MMA program. Interested in nutrition, strength training, and conditioning, O’Neil graduated high school, enrolled in the exercise science program first at Cape Cod Community College and then on to nearby Bridgewater State. O’Neil earned his degree but realized he needed to follow his dream. At nineteen, after watching the first episode of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter, O’Neil knew he wanted to be on the show and be an MMA fighter. Always a doer, he not only “talked the talk” but “walked the walk” and began training in earnest. For most teenagers, the task would have been too daunting to follow through, but that was never a problem for O’Neil. Once his mind is set, he doesn’t rest until the goal is met. An MMA career was launched in earnest from that point forward.

It was a close friend who gave O’Neil his moniker “Cold Steel”, a reference to his fighting style and “powerful punch”. O’Neil explained, “I like to throw the first punch and take control of the fight”. In fact, before he goes into the cage O’Neil makes sure to play the entire fight he’s about to enter in his head over and over again. By doing this he feels there are “no surprises”. O’Neil comes out strong and is relentless until the fight is over and he is the victor. The first fight O’Neil entered was a disappointing loss for him and showed the gym he trained in that perhaps he was not ready. O’Neil recalled that he came into the cage a bit too early in his training. This loss slowed his momentum and forced O’Neil to reconfigure his fight plan. Displeased with his performance, O’Neil laid low, continued to train, and resolved to dedicate himself to winning. His training picked up, his work ethic became stauncher, and the wins began. O’Neil supplied that it took four fights before he completely committed to his fighting career. Once he wrapped his brain around fixing his fight style and strengthening his resolve to win, the wins began to happen. When asked what O’Neil’s strength in the cage is he offers up, “good conditioning and I’m well-rounded”. O’Neil continued by stating, “In fights I’m not worried what they’re going to do, I’m thinking about what I’m going to do. I like to set the tempo.”

Early in his career, after his first loss, an opportunity arose for O’Neil to take a charity fight against a 40-year-old private investigator named Mark Chauppetta who was training and stepping into the cage to raise money and awareness for his twin sons’ Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). It was a charitable fight that brought exposure to both fighters and DMD. When asked if he was concerned about the fight O’Neil replied that he had reservations because he wasn’t at peak condition; he had gotten the call to fight about nineteen hours before the event and was chowing down on pizza and training only two times per week! Within a few short hours O’Neil lost the excess weight for weigh in and formulated a fight plan. It paid off and O’Neil earned his first win.
Along the way O’Neil’s career shaped up nicely. In addition to his MMA life, O’Neil continued to work as a personal trainer and feels helping the “general population” is always going to be a part of his life. With a record of 8-3-0, a charismatic personality, and a no-fail attitude, it wasn’t long before O’Neil began to realize his teenage dream.

Fast-forward to the fall of 2010 and Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil was commanding attention of the producers of the Spike reality program The Ultimate Fighter Season 13. By the premiere of the show this winter, O’Neil was bursting to share the news of his being cast! Finally he was able to broadcast the news at a viewing party in his favorite haunt The Charlie Horse in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, where O’Neil has been throwing similar events ever since. O’Neil gushes about the experience he is having on The Ultimate Fighter Season 13. When asked about some of his cast mates he responds, “Charlie (Rader) and I are like brothers. Zach is one of my favorite guys. When the show progressed I realized, ‘I’m going to have to fight Zach, this sucks!’” It’s obvious these guys’ friendships will long outlast the show, as O’Neil is just that way, loyal, staunch, passionate, and unaccustomed to loss. O’Neil is characteristically gracious and loyal to those who have supported him. He enthusiastically named the following for standing by him and helping him: Scivation Vitamins/Supplements, Impact Fighter for his clothing, and training partner Jimmy Quinlan. In addition, O’Neil wanted to shout out to the gyms he trains in, Sityodtong Boston, South Shore Sport Fighting, Gracie Barra, NH and Mass BJJ.

O’Neil won’t be denied nor turned away. Once he makes up his mind he wants something, he goes after it whole hog and won’t rest until he attains it. Whatever the outcome of Season 13 The Ultimate Fighter, Chuck “Cold Steel” O’Neil will forever more be a household name. Upon parting, when asked what his long-term goal was, O’Neil responded without hesitation, “to be UFC champion”. I have no doubt he’ll do it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome back in to the Friday Music Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. Today marks the start of the Memorial Day Weekend and thus the unofficial start to summer. Music, the soundtrack of life, seems to be even more important during this season. As the weekends rev up each week, be sure to make a quick stop at this site to properly commence the summer weekends.

This week’s focus is songs that are patriotic. These songs can be traditional in nature, a “classic” from the early 1990s, or something that is simply patriotic in your opinion but may not be known widely. Be sure to list the artist who performs the song.

As it is Memorial Day Weekend, I request that you take a moment (or longer) to do something in honor of the brave men and women who have served our country and are no longer with us. From buying a poppy from a veteran to attending your town’s Memorial Day Parade, thanking a soldier to saying a prayer for the military family, it is important to remember and honor those who laid their life on the line in duty to our country.

Finally, it is with great pleasure and swollen pride that I announce the latest milestone at Chief 187 Chatter: yesterday the site had its 13,000th pageview! The distance from the 12,000th pageview was only a couple short weeks, the fastest the site has ever marked such a major accomplishment! I plan to continue to offer original content throughout the summer unlike the television shows whose season are now over and repeats have begun. Five days a week I will post new, original content and invite you all to read, comment, share, follow, and, most importantly, continue to come back. Thank you for your support!

I look forward to reading your responses to today’s topic of patriotic songs. I will be checking back often to read your selections and encourage you to do the same. Do not forget to utilize the search feature on the site to find recipes (Tantalizing Thursday), movie titles (Monday Movie Blog), music topics (Friday Music Blog), or Simple Joys to meander to remind you how wonderful life really is. Enjoy your weekend and I’ll see you back here on Memorial Day Monday for an all-new Monday Movie Blog to start the week.

God Bless our military and God Bless America!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

Welcome to Tantalizing Thursday on Chief 187 Chatter. This week I’m continuing the focus on healthy, filling, and delicious meals for the warmer weather. The salads have brought many readers to the site and that inspired me to offer other meals that are easy, healthy, colorful, and quick. Inspiration struck at the grocery store leading to the development of the following recipe. It was a huge success with my husband who is painfully honest; if he doesn’t like something he’ll let me know. This meal he ate heartily and asked for more so I equate that to a “winner”. I hope you are encouraged to try the meal and let me know what you thought of it!

Chief’s Champion Sandwich
Recipe by Chief 187

1-2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, enough to lightly coat the pan
2 Vidalia or sweet onions, sliced
2 containers mushrooms, sliced
peppers (green, yellow, orange, red), cored and deseeded, sliced
mayonnaise (homemade or store bought)
prepared basil (or your favorite) pesto (homemade or store bought)
Portuguese or other large sandwich Roll, split open
Smoke Gouda, sliced thinly

1. In a large skillet heat oil and add sliced onions to medium high heat to begin caramelization. Allow 5 minutes stirring regularly for the onions to begin to cook.
2. Add peppers, roughly the same thickness, to the onions for the same process. Allow another 5 minutes of cook time. Continue to stir, incorporating the onions and peppers.
3. Add the sliced mushrooms to the skillet and mix the ingredients. Several more minutes (10-25) are appropriate for the mixture to reach the right softened, brown, caramelized consistency. Smelling the mixture is a good way to indicate if the concoction is ready.
4. Meanwhile, in between stirring the mixture, slice rolls in half lengthwise to create sandwich halves.
5. In a small bowl combine 2 parts mayonnaise to one part prepared basil pesto to make a pesto mayonnaise to spread on the roll.
6. Slice the smoked gouda into thin slices for adding to the sandwich. Place on the side of the roll with the pesto mayonnaise.
7. When the vegetable mixture has cooked down, looks browned and smells scrumptious, pull it from the heat and spoon a heaping pile onto one side of the roll. Place the dressed half of the roll on top making sure to have the cheese touch the veggies so it will start to melt.
Serve hot. Makes 8 small or 4 large sandwiches.

Vegetarians will love this meal for obvious reasons; there is no meat! Meat lovers will enjoy this meal because the mushrooms have a beefy flavor and the sandwich is filling. The combinations of flavor, host of fresh fibrous vegetables, and heartiness of the sandwich makes it perfect for dinner. Serve it with oven fries, potato salad, or chips. Try macaroni salad, 3 bean salad, or cole slaw. Any way you present this sandwich with its sweet aroma, huge presence, and delectable taste, will keep your dinner mates happy and full. I look forward to reading your reviews of this recipe after you’ve tried it!

Please utilize the search feature for any of the preceding Tantalizing Thursday articles at this site. I encourage you to check out the archives for everything from holiday meals to scrumptious desserts. The recipes are easy, quick, and delicious and there are several menus for consideration.

I hope you can return tomorrow when we close the week with the popular Friday Music Blog.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thank You, Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey closes her talk show down today, a quarter century after she began it. I was a young girl when the show premiered, always liked it, and feel a sense of loss at its ending. It’s not that I never missed an episode nor would I even qualify myself as a fanatic, but The Oprah Winfrey Show was definitely a part of my life over the last twenty-five years. I learned, laughed, grew, and, yes, cried, while watching the program. Even though I am not an authority on all things Oprah, I do want to offer my tribute to the dynamic woman who I will sorely miss at four in the afternoon.

My mother raised me on Phil Donahue. He’d be on while she began dinner and I was underfoot either playing or, later, doing homework. I loved Phil Donahue because he was personable, warm, funny, engaging, and ‘worked the room’ effortlessly. I probably didn’t understand most of the topics he discussed, but I knew it was entertaining and I adored when he had celebrities to his show. By the time Oprah Winfrey started her show Phil Donahue was being phased out. Times were changing and Phil Donahue was considered “old school”. I seamlessly switched my allegiance from Donahue to Oprah without any regret. When Phil Donahue retired from doing his show, it was with interest I watched, but felt no loss as I had Oprah’s show to fill the void.

Oprah had celebrities, interesting social topics, and pushed the envelope of what was once taboo in society. From her weight to abuse suffered by the hands of family members, Oprah shined a bright light on the dirty little secrets society was hiding for far too long. Not only did she shine the light, but, through her own strength, hope, and guidance, continued to shine the light to a path of health and freedom. Oprah was not mired in problem, but steered toward solution. Oprah was not beaten down by her circumstances; she stood tall on the rubble given to her. Oprah made her own fortune, fame, and empire through good old-fashioned hard works, education, and networking. I admire her for her continuous struggle with weight and dealing with it on television year after year. I supported her when she found herself in legal trouble over a statement about beef, and was fascinated by the lessons she learned and consequently shared after the affair was over. I relied on Oprah’s wit and wisdom in a time of my life when I thought I wouldn’t make it another day… another hour. Distraught, scared, overwhelmed, and uncertain of my future, I opened myself up to an Oprah suggestion, and found my first step on a path to wellness. Oprah reignited a passion for reading among her fans; as a lifelong reader and educator, I rejoiced! Oprah celebrated women, raised good men to the light, and consistently found ways to push her viewers to be more active, physically, mentally, emotionally, charitably, and reasonably. Oprah values teachers and mothers, my two careers, as well as writers, my newest vocation. While I missed far more episodes of The Oprah Winfrey Show than I ever saw, I loved knowing that when I was home and starting dinner, I could turn on the kitchen television set and see what Oprah was discussing. Sometimes the hard-hitting topics were too deep for me, other times I reveled in the feel good shows like her “Favorite Things” episodes or makeover shows. Her celebrity connections run far and wide so A-listers always stopped by to promote a movie, discuss a pet project, jump on couches about their love life, or show off their hours old Oscar award! I will miss all of that. The following list is comprised of the wonderful things about The Oprah Winfrey Show that enhanced(s) my life, gave me courage, saw me through, and entertained me.

Gratitude Journal. Always I writer, I had kept a diary and later a journal since I was seven. Throwing my innermost thoughts on paper, writing the secrets of my heart, and even gossiping on the pages to entertain myself. By the time I was twenty-five my life was in turmoil and my writing had all but stopped as the content of my entries were too painful, scary, and terrifying to secure on paper daily. Finally, when my world seemingly fell apart, I felt lost and alone, and seeing myself to the next minute was excruciatingly painful, I remembered Oprah had done a show about a gratitude journal. She explained that finding the things in life you are grateful for helps keep life in perspective and keeps your heart able to accept goodness. I tried making one previously, but I was so negative I couldn’t get passed “blue cheese dressing” and “chocolate”. After I reached a bottom and was unsure if there was any strength or wherewithal left, I took out a blank book and labeled it “Gratitude Journal”. It was ironic; I was at my lowest, yet I knew that I had to find my way out of my pit. I put pen to paper and wrote one entry that first day, “I’m grateful I’m breathing”. That was it. But that was enough. From that moment forward I gathered my senses, my hope, my character, and my chutzpah, and made a decision to get out of my sad circumstances and do better. I continued writing in that gratitude journal. My entries got longer, my outlook more positive, and my life, thankfully, truly did improve. It didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen. I do believe Oprah’s “Gratitude Journal” idea helped save me and shaped me into the woman I am now with a positive vibe.

Talking. Phil Donahue was a master at it, but not until Oprah Winfrey admitted on air to such problems as childhood abuse, low self-esteem, and weight issues, did those topics become powerful conduits to change. Whether therapy or talking with a trusted friend/adult/clergy/teacher, the act of talking, admitting, and dealing with the problems one faces, allowed for society to have a say in their mental health and well-being. Stigmas were released, ownership was explained, and change occurred. There is always work to be done when self-improvement is at hand, but talking, the way Oprah Winfrey fearlessly did through her show, modeled the way change could happen positively. It wasn’t about blaming, finger pointing, or accepting one’s circumstances; it was a lifting up of social mores that swept disturbing topics under the rug. By talking about anything and everything, people… I… could make their situation better. They could become healthier, stronger, more confident, and better for having talked. I am not afraid to be honest about who I am. I tell my children about honest talk. I thank Oprah Winfrey for tearing down the walls of social taboos for talk shows. Again, I am the better for it.

Book Club. Increasingly more and more people I came in contact with categorized themselves as “non-readers”. They were “too busy” “too uninterested” or “too bored” to read. I, a life-long reader and educator, was always disheartened to hear this, whether it was from my peers or my students. Oprah’s Book Club launched a revolution that saw books become popular media! Classics, modern stories, well-known authors or rookies were given props by Oprah. I didn’t join the Book Club per say, but I have read several selections and always enjoyed them. Among my most favorite I read at Oprah’s suggestion was The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I knew I’d seen the book when I was growing up (my parents had each read it) but I had never picked it up. It was a beautiful, action-packed, sweeping novel that truly captured my imagination and transported me to another time. I’ve keep book journals, recommended books to friends, and taken recommendations as well. I thank Oprah for bringing reading back into vogue. I plan to never let it go “out” again!

Feel Good. As much as Oprah inspired change, good works (Oprah’s Angel Network), education, and hard work, she also loved to simply have fun. She enjoyed sharing her “Favorite Things” with her audiences and left them with everything on her list. She enjoyed providing makeovers for all kinds of people and allowed them to keep the clothes. She had a knack of making those shows so magical and enticing to watch. I usually laughed and cried. Good for ratings, sure, but Oprah seemed to be turned on by just making people feel good. I can totally get behind that! I think these shows I will miss most of all.

There must be so much more that can be attributed to Oprah over the last twenty-five years. I could write for days and not cover it all, but these topics speak to the Best of The Oprah Winfrey Show for me. I am thrilled Oprah Winfrey will still have a presence on television (OWN on cable), but I will sorely miss the five-day a week treat that was The Oprah Winfrey Show. I simply feel fortuitous that I was able to be under her indirect tutelage low this quarter century. I can only hope that what I have learned in my life shows through in what I do here at Chief 187 Chatter. I am a student of Oprah Winfrey. Thank you, Oprah, for giving me a front row seat in your classroom and for enriching my life in myriad ways. Good luck and Godspeed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Simple Joys

Simple Joys have become my signature post at Chief 187 Chatter. What started out as a one off earlier this year has become the weekly favorite among my readers. I am so pleased that focusing on the daily pleasures all around has resonated so deeply. Stresses are real, frustrations can occur, and resentments can fester, but a dip in the Simple Joys pool refreshes and reinvigorates one soul. I urge you to join me in creating your own Simple Joys list. Whether written or thought about, shared or concealed, the act of focusing on the good in life is powerful enough to offset the bad. And, as I find out weekly, Simple Joys beget Simple Joys. Once you allow the consciousness of the Simple Joys all around, you identify more and more of them. Now, without further ado, here is this week’s Simple Joys.

My Daughter’s Kiss. I was struck within the same week with the enormity of tenderness my children can convey with a touch. It left me breathless with each individual encounter, and hyper aware how quickly these special moments will be faint memories. My daughter, still at a frustratingly high-maintenance age (19 months) is constantly wiggling away from me to explore her tiny world. She is unaware of the dangers that lurk and outraged when I try to corral her. This week, however, she showed signs of ‘settling down’ a bit. She was seeking my comforting arms and, after an exciting tour of the Wal*Mart toy aisle where she kissed each baby doll in their box lovingly, she wanted to kiss her momma in the same way. She craned her neck to me, pursed her sweet, full, little lips, made the “mwa” noise, and kissed me on the lips. She had a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her lips afterwards. She was the baby girl of a mama’s dream. Those instances are neither consistent nor trackable. I have no idea when they will happen again, but what I experienced is enough to keep me going until this emotional Neanderthal evolves some more. In the meantime, I’m staying near enough that I might be gifted another one of my daughter’s kisses, truly a magical Simple Joy.

Holding Hands. My eight, almost nine, year old still walks to the bus stop with me. Although the stop is visible from the house, it is on a main road that is a highly trafficked area. For this reason I continue to take him to and from the bus stop. We’re both not sure when this function of my job description ends, but it bothers neither of us so we continue. Since Day 1 in Kindergarten, I have held my hand out to my son as we walked the short distance to the stop. He always reaches for my hand and we talk, or not. Once at the stop we drop hands and he plays, I quiz him on spelling words or math figures, or we plan our upcoming weekend. As we took our stroll to the bus stop one day this week, I reached my hand out as usual, he accepted, and, without knowing it was happening I said, “You know, I’m going to miss doing this when you decide to stop holding my hand,” to which he replied softly, “I know.” He never let go, but I knew then and there that my little boy had taken another step toward manhood. It made me proud… and inwardly sad. He seems to really understand that as much as it is his job to grow up and away from me, that I am always here for him. I must be doing something right for him to trust that. And my son held my hand the rest of the week, too. I don’t think either one of us is quite ready for that ritual to end… yet. A very priceless Simple Joy.

Touch. My four year old has been the less demonstrative child. Happier to run, play, and explore, cuddling on the couch was nearly torture for him. He has settled down nicely, but he still is an active child. This week rain was the scene every day keeping us tied to the house searching for entertainment. We did numerous activities to fill the hours and keep him occupied. By the week’s end we had exhausted our ideas and retreated to the Lego Room in our home. The four year old, who is a very talented Lego designer, usually whittles the hours away creating cars, houses, and scenes, but took a wholly different approach this past Friday. He took a longer Lego element and began styling my hair. He spent an inordinate amount of time coiffing me while I simply closed my eyes and enjoyed not only the relaxing feeling of being attended to, but the close proximity to my son who would stop and allow me to hug and kiss him. Perhaps he was simply in a short-lived phase of needing reassurement that he was indeed loved and valued or perhaps he simply has settled into the style that his mother shows love. Either way, it was an absolute and complete Simple Joy to be handled so lovingly by my truly amazing four-year-old son.

I am surrounded by good fortune, incredible blessings, and, thankfully, enough wisdom to be grateful for it all. My daily life is filled with conflict, deadlines, and uncomfortable situations, but taking the opportunity to spend quality time with my children, ignore the more pressing needs of the laundry, a phone call, or a television show, I am able to find the inspiration to keep going, continue trying, and never give up. My children provide a plethora of Simple Joys and the clarity to seek every opportunity to find them. I hope whatever brings Simple Joys into your life you can identify and accept it. Life is full of Simple Joys, we just need to be aware.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome back to the Monday Movie Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. With Summer Blockbusters premiering weeks before the Memorial Day Weekend, movies are on my mind more than ever. Nights will be sultry and a great movie is the cure when it is too hot to sleep. I plan to utilize this resource for finding the perfect movie to fit my mood. Far more reasonable and comfortable than going to the movies, I prefer watching a movie from home; is the clear alternative for me. I hope you remember to search the archives of Monday Movie Blogs that exist at this site and, in the remaining weeks, continue to help flesh out the alphabetical list of movies that has taken form since January.

Today’s focus is movies that begin with the letter “T”. Please list any and all movies that begin with the letter “T”. Remember to include a list of actors from the film as well as a brief synopsis or review. The more information included with the title, the better the resource.

Please indulge me briefly as I wish my mother the very happiest of birthdays! She reaches a milestone 70th Birthday today and I am so proud of her! My mother does indeed suck the marrow out of life and is an inspiration to me to live my life to the fullest! My mother will not be with me to celebrate for a couple of more weeks, but I so look forward to thee summer when she is with me and we spend a copious amount of time together. I love you, Mother!

I look forward to reading this week’s contribution to the Monday Movie Blog. I encourage you to leave your response, check back throughout the day and week here, and remember to use this ever-growing list of favorite movies whenever the opportunity presents itself to watch something. Please join me tomorrow when Chief 187 Chatter presents the most uplifting post of the week, Simple Joys!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome back into the Friday Music Blog on Chief 187 Chatter. It has been a week of epic achievements, record-breaking pageviews, and an expanded follower base at this site. Through a grassroots movement, my self-promotion, and the kindness of others, more eyes read more words this week than ever before. I am thrilled by the reception my work has been given!

The focus of today’s FMB is songs from 1982. List any and all songs that were produced, released, or were popular in 1982. Be sure to include the artist who made the song famous or the ones who performed the song versions you prefer. This may take a bit more digging research-wise if you are not familiar with the copyright of songs or recall what you were listening to in 1982, but with the Internet it is easier than ever to locate this information!

The Friday Music Blog was a topic I started at my original blogging site, Rowdy. It has been around for years and has offered many musical topics. I am the first to admit, and my loyal readers anxiously point out, I repeat topics. Sometimes that is intentional to allow for new readers to leave their selections for the topic. But, I must admit, there are times it is due to forgetfulness. Since January I have been posting three separate and different Friday Music Blogs at three separate sites. The topics are even more difficult to keep up with and still be completely original and “unpublished”. I would eagerly and openly like to request you, the reader, send in your requests for topics for the Friday Music Blog. You may send the topic to me here as a comment or to my Twitter account where you can follow me; I am @Chief187s.

I will be checking back with this blog periodically throughout the day and weekend to keep up with the comments that come. Please feel free to do the same. Also, remember to check out all of the week’s (month’s, year’s, or all) blogs if you were unable to read any this week. If you like what you read, please continue to share it with those around you. I appreciate the help! Lastly, to see all that I do, please check out my website http://Chief187.com for the latest information about my ever-expanding career. Thank you so much for your readership and support.

I’ll see you back here throughout the weekend and on Monday when we begin a whole new week together at Chief 187 Chatter. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday

Welcome back in to Tantalizing Thursday, the tastiest day of the week! Following the reasoning that shorts, t-shirts, and swimsuits are the wardrobe of the season, I am including another fabulous summer staple as a main course, the salad. A mere garden salad is not enough to be considered a meal, however, so proteins and “extras” must be present to fit the bill. This salad is a filling, flavorful, and, depending on your tolerance, healthful salad perfect for weeknight dining.

The Cobb Salad
Recipe copied from allrecipes.com

6 slices bacon
3 eggs
1 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
3 cups chopped, cooked chicken meat
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
1 avocado - peeled, pitted and diced
3 green onions, chopped
1 (8 ounce) bottle Ranch-style salad dressing

1. Place eggs in a saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Bring water to a boil. Cover, remove from heat, and let eggs stand in hot water for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from hot water, cool, peel and chop.
2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
3. Divide shredded lettuce among individual plates.
4. Evenly divide and arrange chicken, eggs, tomatoes, blue cheese, bacon, avocado and green onions in a row on top of the lettuce.
5. Drizzle with your favorite dressing and enjoy.

Like with any recipe I publish, I feel strongly that it is simply a guide, not a law. Substitute what works for you and your family, omit what you abhor, and add what you love. For this recipe I recommend turkey bacon if you are cutting out pork fat (but what a shame if you are!). To up the “green” quotient try Romaine lettuce instead of the water-based iceberg. If chicken cooking isn’t your thing, buy a prepared marinated rotisserie chicken at your local grocer or Costco. They are scrumptious, easy, and yield several meals depending on the size of your family (and the meals). If seeding tomatoes is beneath you, eat seeds! I adore bleu cheese crumbles, but if you prefer feta or another cheese, try that instead. Avocado is sublime, but many are deterred by their ripeness or lack thereof. A ripe avocado should yield to the touch in the skin, but not be too squishy. If yours is hard, simply drop it in a brown paper sack for a day or so. Split the avocado in half length-wise and go around the entire orb. Twist the two sides apart leaving one side clean and one with the giant pit or stone. Using a teaspoon, gently remove the fleshy green fruit from the skin. On the other side, use your knife blade to cut into the pit to grasp it and gently pull it away from the flesh. If it resists, simply and carefully cut the pit out or use the spoon to scoop it out of the center, then repeat the process for this half to remove the flesh from the skin. Simply slice the flesh into sections. Onions, especially this green variety, add a depth of flavor without overpowering the dish. Lastly, use any dressing, bottled or homemade, that appeals to you. Remember, the dressing carries a ton of calories, so use something flavorful that needs less. I am a huge proponent of red wine or Balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

By eating salads, vegetables, lean meats or proteins, and less saturated fat, our bodies work better, feel better, and look better. This is a hard lesson for me to remember when time is of the essence and the convenience foods beckon from the freezer. Yet, I love eating this way, especially when the weather is warm and I am not overly famished like in winter.

I would love to read if you tried this recipe and what you thought about it. Recipe sharing is always encouraged on this site as well. Please use the search feature to look through all of the Tantalizing Thursday blogs on Chief 187 Chatter for more delicious fare. I hope you can join me tomorrow for the Friday Music Blog, the popular week ender at this site.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Now's the Time To Play!

During the many Beach Weeks spent with my husband and his family on Hilton Head, South Carolina I was exposed to a great man who spoke little. One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given was said during a beach volleyball game when a throng of sweaty, sandy, half-naked people surrounded me, vying for the ball. My team captain, who happened to be the aforementioned man, my husband’s Nordic-God-looking Uncle Dean, was yelling the following to us upon missing a point: “Now’s the time to play!” As I was prone to do, I giggled uproariously. The intensity in his voice coupled with his smile and kind eyes allowed me the reaction. However, even at that moment, my younger self knew that I was just given very sage advice.

The sentiment that was uttered was not only intended to rally the troops on the volleyball team, but was a grander call to take opportunity when it is given and put your all forth. When a situation arises that calls for complete attention and wherewithal, that must be the priority and nothing else! Moments occur suddenly that leave us feeling unprepared, but when they happen, we must react! We must utilize every ounce of courage, passion, and strength to offer our best foot forward and get the win, be it personal or team. We only have now. The past is over and the future is uncertain at best. The present is the time to put focus and concentration to the test; rally strength, determination, and energies to accomplish the goals ahead.

Over the years these words resonated with me. I’ve used them superficially in a physical education class I was substitute teaching in as the children, ironically enough, were playing a game of volleyball and performing in a lackluster fashion. I’ve used it more imploringly when I’ve watched youngsters I know test for their black belt and are at “empty” but still have need to dig for more energy and belief. I utter the words to myself when I feel I cannot write one more thing or take on another work commitment; I remember that the opportunity is presenting itself now, so it is my duty to myself, to take that chance to soar. “Now’s the time to play”. We only have now. I want to live my life knowing I tried my hardest at everything I did and not regret not playing when I had the opportunity.

Thanks, Uncle Dean, for being a fantastic coach on the volleyball court, and in life. Your simple and hardcore approach to squeezing everything out of life is commendable and powerful. I love hearing your words fall out of my mouth whether it is aimed at my children, the television, or myself. The next time you feel you just can’t do it, tell yourself these simple words and live by them, “now’s the time to play”.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Simple Joys

Welcome in on this Tuesday, Simple Joys day. Some hours, days, and even weeks have their fair share of “rough patches” and I have experienced many. Even since Simple Joys has become a weekly part of my life, those times still rear their ugly head and throw me for a loop. What Simple Joys does for me is offer a fresh, new, and invigorating perspective that in the face of adversity, stress, sadness, and frustration, there is still goodness, optimism, and love. Simple Joys as a vital part of each week and I hope it is for you, too. Now, without further ado, here is today’s Simple Joys.

Party. People we know through Karate invited my entire family to a party. Over the years we have sat in the dojo waiting room smiling, talking, cheering, and supporting our children as they learned, matured, and advanced through their ranks. Several of the parents, like my husband and me, have been or are currently students as well. Recently four teens tested and passed their black belt rank test; this was a party in their honor. We were so tickled to be included and delighted our entire family was included. The party was a mix of parents, teenagers, elementary school-aged children, and my two youngest children ages four and one. There was a jovial, friendly, good-natured vibe, great music, delicious food, and no weirdness at the mix of ages or personalities. From shooting pool to dancing, dining on the fare and talking about anything and everything, this party was absolutely fantastic! When good people share an interest, support one another in their endeavors, and genuinely like one another, a good time will be had during a gathering. Upon leaving my husband and I insisted we would be the next to assemble the group. I’m already planning and I cannot wait for the event!

Scouts. I’ve written several times about my son’s and my involvement in Cub Scouts. This week he advanced to the rank of Webelos, a very grand distinction. As his den leader I was proud and emotional about his accomplishment, but also those of the other boys in my den. Like a teacher, something I was in my former career, being a den leader provides ample opportunity to watch the younger generation grow, mature, evolve, and blossom. We were first introduced at the end of the boys’ Kindergarten year and made great strides in creating and fostering a loving, nurturing, and respectful environment that made learning fun and the requirements engaging. Our boys have gone on “Go See ‘Ums” (fieldtrips), marched in countless parades in the community, camped, learned new skills, and worked together to help others. As they crossed over to their Webelos chapter of Cub Scouts, it dawned on me, once again, how quickly childhood passes. Our boys are taller, ganglier, goofier, but also intrinsically respectful, intuitive, and kind. They are the seeds of the men they will become and demonstrate the best of the youth of today. There are times volunteering can seem a bit of a hardship; schedules have to be juggled all the more, electronic paperwork has to be filed by a deadline, requirements need to be finished correctly; but I am so very lucky to be a part of these boys’ lives. I get to be a part of their formative, moldable years and leave my mark on them. We get along, really well, and we laugh, a lot. We learn, we struggle; we get frustrated, yet we face the obstacles together and learn the valuable lesson that through teamwork, all things are possible. We repeat “Do Our Best”, the Cub Scout motto, and recite the Cub Scout Promise. We understand these words as truths and instill in these young men that they are capable of changing their world for the better. There is nothing more powerful or optimistic than that. And all the while I get a front row seat of these boys’ “growing up” years. Simple Joys abound in Scouts.

Career Opportunities. Many times I’ve explained my passion for writing and how I am simply compelled to write. First my blogging was at a NASCAR site, then I started this project. Eventually my career snowballed and now includes six sites where my articles, columns, blogs, and pieces run as well as two sites where I can be heard on Internet radio. This has happened in a relatively short time leaving me breathless and wholly overwhelmed in the best of ways. I want to take every opportunity that comes my way and, one day, make this a lucrative career. When I say that to my husband or my friend and mentor Mike they both tell me to slow down. They, far wiser and patient than I, individually set me straight by refocusing my energy. They remind me that if I love what I am doing (and I honestly adore it!) then the money will come… one day. And, it if doesn’t, it really doesn’t matter, for loving what you do is payment enough. Some days that is a bitter pill to swallow as I think most people want to help provide for their families. I do know, however, that writing and receiving comments from people that my writings resonate with them, does propel me more than a paycheck does. Connecting with people through my words is the ultimate. Everything else is gravy. I like gravy a lot, but the meal is what nourishes the soul.

Gum. I like to chew gum that provides me with “kissable breath”. Over the years I’ve tried many different gums, sugar free, to try and find my “signature gum”. Finally, after what was becoming a futile search for a gum that stayed tasty, chewed well, and whitened my teeth, I stumbled upon the best kind for me. It is called “Dentyne Pure” and I love the Mint with Melon Accents variety. A burst of flavor hits my mouth upon the first chew and consistently outlasts my chewing needs; and I can chew for hours! It is necessary to have this gum in my car, my purse, and in the cupboard at home. At one point I could not find it, but thankfully if was restocked at my local grocer. I highly recommend this gum and label it a constant Simple Joy in my life.

Lipstick. Along with kissable breath I like to have kissable lips. They go hand in hand in my book! Taking glamour cues from my mother led me to believe that it was rarely appropriate to leave the house without lipstick. Consequently, I don’t. Over the years, along with searching for the perfect gum, I have searched high and low, expensive and cheap, for the perfect lipstick for me. I have miles of clothes I’ve stained with red, pink, and coral candidates, and dry lip stories from lipsticks that dehydrated my once supple lips. But, one day, as a gift form Santa Claus in my stocking, I was given the “perfect” lipstick! It was a formula that stays put on the lips for hours, even after a meal or lots of kissing, and came with its own lipgloss that keeps lips moist. I have bought many colors, eaten countless meals, and kissed a ton, and this lipstick, bar none, is fantastic! Recently, however, it is very difficult to find. I am distraught as it’s like losing the best boyfriend ever! If you find a source, please let me know because I swear by this stuff and am running dangerously low on it! My children and husband are desperate to see me stay with this lipstick as it saves their clothing, heads, and lips from revealing my inferior lipstick tryouts. The brand is Maybelline and the type is Supestay 18 Hour lipcolor. Showcasing my lips with moisturizing, stay-put color is a very important Simple Joy!

Simple Joys run the gamut for me from enjoying the time I have with my young children, enjoying my peers, my new career, or the little things in my life that make my day easier and fuller. It is always encouraged that you write your Simple Joys and share them here, or just do them privately or mentally. Adding Simple Joys to your life breeds Simple Joys and creates a happier, richer, and more fulfilling world in which to live. My goal is to have everybody who reads this post embrace the Simple Joys around them daily.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome back in to the Monday Movie Blog! Movies are becoming the hot topic as the Memorial Day Weekend nears signifying the unofficial start to summer and the Summer Blockbuster season. While Hollywood does its thing, I will continue to sponsor the Alphabetical Odyssey that is the Monday Movie Blog.

This week’s focus is movies that begin with the letter “S”. Please list any and all movies that begin with the letter “S”. Remember to include a list of well-known actors as well as a brief synopsis or review.

Late last week Chief 187 Chatter reached another milestone; 12,000 pageviews! The timeframe from this milestone and the last (11,000 pageviews) came far faster than preceding ones. It seems this ‘Little Engine That Could’ is chugging along at a good clip now. Thank you to all of you for your support, loyalty, interest, and help. Each milestone, however small, is meaningful and important and deserves to be celebrated! I share my success with you!

I want to take a moment to wish my brother a very Happy Birthday today!

I hope you can return tomorrow for what is the most uplifting post of the week, Simple Joys! As always, I look forward to reading your movie selections and anticipate another fantastic week together!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Self-Proclaimed 'Media Whore' Mark Chauppetta

*This is an article I published on http://Eventlevel.com earlier this week. It is about a fascinating man I had the privilege to interview due to the radio work I do at that same site. I wanted to share an example of the work I do outside of Chief 187 Chatter as well as bring Mark Chauppetta's story to a wider audience.*

If you haven’t heard about Mark Chauppetta you may be living under a rock. From a widely publicized MMA fight to a documentary about prepping for the fight as a forty-year old man, and a book chronicling his most incendiary cases as a Private Investigator that landed him on the Howard Stern Show recently, Mark is indeed everywhere. Handsome, rugged, strong, and unassuming, Mark Chauppetta is a cross between everyman and a superstar. He is media savvy, a member of the media with his own successful radio show, a well-respected PI and a sought after character for reality television. Mark Chauppetta is several personas in one man and his story is fascinating.

A “pretty good wrestler”, Mark Chauppetta did okay in school but wanted to escape his hometown. So, as a young man, Mark Chauppetta left his birthplace in Massachusetts to chase stardom in California. He did some acting but nothing came of it so, being resourceful and following his incessant curiosity, Chauppetta contacted a private investigator and began working as an apprentice. Admittedly not a natural in this line of work, Mark learned on the job and honed his skills as a P.I. Eventually he found his way back to his native Massachusetts. There he worked with another established P.I. and accrued the necessary 5,000 hours needed to earn his own license as a gumshoe. He hung a shingle and work started to come in. Chauppetta, often distracted with ways to find his niche in the world, did well in his chosen profession, but always dreamt up ways to find recognition. He considered and began a run for local office, but realized it didn’t fit with his brash personality, and ultimately lost the bid. This path led him to radio work and a host of connections to the newsmakers and actors of the day. When reality television was in its infancy Chauppetta tried to parlay his talents and career into this new direction, and, although many were interested, no project ever came to fruition.

Meanwhile, Chauppetta reached for the golden ring, got married, and started a family. In 1995 his twin sons, Andrew and Troy, were born with the devastating Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a degenerative muscle disorder that causes the breakdown of muscle tissue over time. The steady deterioration and ultimate terminal prognosis of the condition not only took an emotional toll, but a financial one as well. At a time when many men are nursing a beer belly and buying a shiny red convertible, the then 40-year-old Chauppetta decided it was time to take his shot at raising money and awareness to his boys’ (then 14) plight by using his flair, wrestling/fighting background (he dabbled briefly in MMA), and ‘bring it on’ attitude to take part in a charity match to raise money for DMD and to help spread awareness. He gave himself three months to train and to re-sculpt his body from 192 pounds to a lean 175, ideal for his 5’7” frame. Working with Mike Varner, a local promoter who was a guest on Chauppetta’s radio show and issued the challenge and money, Mark trained hard for his fight. As a former wrestler and one time fighter Chauppetta knew what was needed to prepare for the event. A documentary about the match and the preparations that went into the event were chronicled in A Father’s Fight. Working his every angle, Chauppetta even secured the opportunity to train in Las Vegas in the legendary Randy Couture’s gym. The MMA/fighting career was never the goal; raising awareness about his sons’ DMD, staying in shape, and keeping himself in the limelight was. The movie contains several well-known big name MMA stars including Bas Rutten, Forest Griffin, Joe Lauzen, and Tito Ortiz as well as Sinista 1. It is engaging, exhilarating, and poignant, and brash, just like Chauppetta himself.

Fighting has given way, once again, to Mark’s love of media. Promoting the movie, networking, and keeping himself in the public eye have led to more opportunities and offers. In addition, Chauppetta realized his untapped source of marketable information was tied to his life as a private investigator. Knowing the insatiable appetites of Americans who love a cheater’s story, he compiled years of cases into several tantalizing stories of adultery in a satirical book he titled, Happens All the Time: Cheating in the Good Ol’ USA. True to his nature, Chauppetta donates half of his proceeds of this book to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research. His recent visit to the Howard Stern Show proved to be another savvy move indicative of the good decisions Chauppetta has made in his life. The segment went well and stirred up a hornet’s nest of interest connected to his involvement in Scientology cases in the past.

Until his boat comes in and provides the consistent national exposure he’s after, Chauppetta will expertly navigate the rough waters of near fame. From public speaking engagements to self-publishing movies and books, and from radio work to television reality shows, Mark Chauppetta is knocking on the door of fame and is proving that he can roll with the punches, land on his feet, and survive until the rest of America takes notice!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday: Salad Nicoise

This is a repost as Blogger seems to have lost it. Thank you for your patience! Enjoy!!

Welcome back to Tantalizing Thursday on Chief 187 Chatter. After a two-week departure from the culinary aspect of this feature, we are returning to its roots and offering a scrumptious recipe today. With spring in full form and summer around the corner, lighter meals with fresh ingredients are the order of the day and enhance a healthy lifestyle. Perfect for lunch or dinner, this fare is colorful, delicious, healthful, and simply divine.

Salad Nicoise
Recipe by Julia Child

For salad:
1 large head Boston-lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1 pound green beans, cooked and refreshed
1-1/2 tablespoons minced shallots
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 or 4 ripe red tomatoes, cut into wedges (or 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes, halved)
3 or 4 "boiling" potatoes, peeled, sliced, and cooked
Two 3-ounce cans chunk tuna, preferably oil-packed
6 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved
1 freshly opened can of flat anchovy fillets, optional (but highly recommended by Chief 187)
1/3 cup small black Ni├žoise-type olives
2 to 3 tablespoons capers
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
For Vinaigrette:
1/2 tablespoon finely minced shallot or scallion
1/2 tablespoon Dijon-type mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon wine vinegar
1/3 to 1/2 cup excellent olive oil, or other fine, fresh oil
Freshly ground pepper
Make vinaigrette: Either shake all the ingredients together in a screw-topped jar, or mix them individually as follows. Stir the shallots or scallions together with the mustard and salt. Whisk in the lemon juice and vinegar, and when well blended start whisking in the oil by droplets to form a smooth emulsion. Beat in freshly ground pepper. Taste (dip a piece of the salad greens into the sauce) and correct seasoning with salt, pepper, and/or drops of lemon juice.
Arrange the lettuce leaves on a large platter or in a shallow bowl.
Shortly before serving, toss the beans with the shallots, spoonfuls of vinaigrette, and salt and pepper.
Baste the tomatoes with a spoonful of vinaigrette.
Place the potatoes in the center of the platter and arrange a mound of beans at either end, with tomatoes and small mounds of tuna at strategic intervals. Ring the platter with halves of hard-boiled eggs, sunny side up, and curl an anchovy on top of each if using.
Spoon more vinaigrette over all; scatter on olives, capers, and parsley, and serve.
Serves 6.

This recipe should be used as a guide and tweaked to fit your taste. Julia Child had wonderful ideas, enjoyed French preparations, and had time to cook. If your schedule is jam-packed like mine, take some help with bagged lettuce that is pre-washed and simply drizzle the finished salad with your own oil and vinegar instead of making the vinaigrette. Take help with convenience food at the supermarket if you don’t have your eggs hard-boiled yet or you don’t want to deal with “cooking and refreshing” your green beans. Do open the tuna, buy some delicious olives, whatever the type, and find the anchovies; they make the meal! Serve with a crusty baguette and a light refreshment (white or sparkling wine or water).

Enjoy the recipe, the warmer temperatures, and the healthier lifestyle. After this meal, take a walk and enjoy the changes happening all around. For dessert, try an all-natural frozen fruit pop, either homemade or store-bought. Let me know if you used this one and please feel free to leave your own favorite spring/summer recipe favorite.

Please return tomorrow for the week-ending Friday Music Blog!

Friday Music Blog

Welcome back to the Friday Music Blog on Chief 187 Chatter. In recent weeks this blog has found its music-loving audience again and I’m anxious to continue that momentum! This week’s focus is on the best of 1978. Whether hard rock or disco, folk or techno, leave a list of the year’s best selections.

Remember to leave the artist who performed or made the song famous and be sure to only list music released or “popular” in 1978. Research every genre, style, and type of music from Top 40 to Broadway to get the complete retrospective.

As another week closes on Chief 187 Chatter and month eight is laid to rest I am pleased to report that numbers are soaring, readership is up, and my career, both here and at my other sites, is continuing to skyrocket. To see all that I am involved, please view my personal website http://Chief187.com. I picked up two new writing gigs this week and am so excited to add them to my “to do” list. I think you will enjoy it all. Regardless, thank you for your continuing support and readership. I value you all and thank you for making me and Chief 187 Chatter a part of your week.

Please continue to add your song selections throughout the weekend and check out this or any other blogs you may have missed over the weekend. Tomorrow I will be posting an article I wrote for one of my other sites that I'd like you all to read. Please join me this weekend for that posting as well. I’ll see you back here on Monday to begin a whole new week on Chief 187 Chatter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Endings... New Beginnings

Recently I allowed my boys to stay up later than usual to watch the series finale of the Disney program Suite Life on Deck, a program about twin boys who, for whatever reason, lived first in a luxury hotel, and then on a luxury liner. My sons had only discovered the program in recent months and had never watched religiously, but seeing as how the twin boys’, the main characters Zack and Cody, were graduating from high school with their classmates, I thought it would be fun for us all to watch. The children enjoyed the show, the popcorn, and the bonding the three of us did, but upon completion of the episode my boys became morose, melancholy, and downright sad! For the first time the children saw the end of something they loved.

Dora and Diego exist on a loop that is never-ending as does Thomas the Train and Sesame Street, but now my sons have seen young boys grow into young adults and leave their television show. All that is left are reruns; no longer will my boys see the stars continue to morph into adults. I explained that the Disney audience isn’t prepared to watch the boys go off to college; high school is the ultimate for the young viewers. My oldest wailed, “Why couldn’t they go to college on the boat?!” And it was up to me to try to explain to my eight-year-old that when high school is finished, most teenagers are ready and excited to move on to the next stage of life be it college away, working, or joining the military. He just doesn’t get it yet. My youngest son just seemed to cry because his older brother was upset and probably because, in his short four years, he has developed a keen sense of the world and knows his brother will be leaving the nest far too soon for his liking.

As a mother I wanted to reassure my boys that all is well, that what they saw was natural and a good thing to look forward to, but not to worry because they’d be living at home for a long time. The realist in me knows that the “long time” is really going to fly by at a lightening fast pace. I am torn between wanting to soothe them and feeling a rising panic to stop the clock’s relentless march. When I step back and observe from a removed perspective I organize my thoughts away from my emotions and know that endings are simply new beginnings. When those milestones occur in my house, I hope to be as prepared for them as possible.

I recall being the young woman anxious to take flight from home. I went away to college a year early. I married at twenty. Each step I forged on my own path brought joy, excitement, and a touch of uncertainty, but it was MY path and I was thrilled to be on it. I want that for my children. These years are treasures and I try to value each moment, because all too quickly I’ll be packing them off to go hither and yon. My path is in the realm of “parenthood” and it is a lovely place with some sticky, difficult areas. Eventually my children will check out to their own destinations and I’ll have to know that those endings for me are simply their new beginnings. It is a blessed cycle that makes the world turn. Like a television series, the reruns can play of home movies, but it’s best not to dwell in what was, it is much healthier for all involved to move on, stay close, and look for all the new beginnings.

The life lessons one learns as a parent are made ever more difficult because of the emotional attachment. Patience, independence, separation, evolution, and acceptance must be taught, modeled, and, oddly, accepted by the parent. Learning that endings are indeed simply beginnings is a universal moral; it embraces the fact that change happens. Applying that notion to all that happens in one’s life certainly helps get through difficult times. When death occurs, a baby is born. When a job ends, a new opportunity presents itself. When a child leaves the home after eighteen years, the parents’ role is remodeled. The cycle exists; one must be open to their specific role in the cycle at any given time. Difficult, at best, when emotions are involved, but all the more important to be a part of the ever moving cycle. Endings are simply new beginnings.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Simple Joys

Welcome in to Simple Joys. This post explores all of the incidents that occurred within the last week to fill my days with bursts of positive energy, good vibes, and a happy heart. Simple Joys has given me a new perspective, is infectious, and is a juggernaut that will not be stopped! Without further ado, here is this week’s Simple Joys.

Date. Recently my oldest son and I went on a mother/son date. He had expressed interest in spending time alone with me so knowing the opportunities to do so are disappearing faster than a designer wedding gown at a 50% sale, I cleared my schedule. We got away at midday, ate lunch at Subway, and reveled in the slower pace I was able to enjoy without tending to the two younger children who still so desperately need me. After lunch I took my son to an indoor antiques market. A large building with several vendors’ stations revealed row after row of treasures, some precious, some common, but all new to my child. He brought his wallet stuffed with dollar bills collected from grandparents’ generosity, the Tooth Fairy’s rewards, and hard-earned chore money. He decided not to spend more than five dollars and set out to find his treasure. American Pickers on The History Channel is one of my son’s favorite television shows, so he fancied himself a Picker during this outing. Fortunately among the furniture, textiles, crystal, and pottery there were toys, comic books, and children’s items. He found himself drawn to a bag of multi-colored plastic green army men. At the end of the adventure my son purchased the item and was anxious to get home to play with the pieces with his brother! He enjoyed the time spent alone with his mom, explored a new hobby, and provided me with a memory that will live in my heart forever.

Mother’s Day Tea. My middle boy is in his last few weeks of Nursery School. It is incredible to me that this little boy is half baby and half schoolboy. In school, surrounded by his peers, I see the young man who is maturing, curious, intelligent, smart, and creative. He constantly surprises me with his depth of understanding, attention to detail, and physical prowess. The morning began with a concert with songs all about or dedicated to Mom. He sang his heart out, did all of the gestures required, and waved to me upon the conclusion of each little ditty. His wide smiled caught my eye and melted my heart. After the concert he escorted his sister and me down to his classroom, which was set up with a table set for a tea. My son pulled my chair out for me, offered me some iced tea, and proceeded to point out everything he had made especially for me in honor of Mother’s Day. There was a laminated placemat he had drawn a picture of he and I on and written that he loved me (his mom) because I was “beautiful”. He had written, in his own hand, a construction paper Mother’s Day card with a hand-colored flower on front and inside read “Happy Mother’s Day! I Love You! Love, Gregory”. He had decorated a flower pot that was presented to me with planted flowers and a picture of my son’s face inside a paper flower he had colored and stuck on a Popsicle stick. There was a homemade dessert of “dirt”; chocolate pudding with crushed Oreo cookie crumbs on top and a straw that held my son’s little cut out traced hand stapled to it to form another flower. Lastly he tied a hand colored tissue paper corsage around my wrist that was spectacular to behold! The gifts were creative, original, and proudly given to me by my enthusiastic son. His teacher deserves the credit for all of her wonderful ideas for the myriad gifts the children were able to bestow. My son, however, takes the credit for providing his mother with making the last Nursery School Mother’s Day Tea the most special and memorable one. Days like that are the ones you want to push pause on the VCR of life and stay in a little extra longer. I never understood, before I had children, how construction paper cards and tissue paper flowers could make mothers tear up and say, “those are the most prescious gifts I’ve ever received”. Now I know; and they are!

Baby girl. I’ve made no secret that my 18-month old daughter is at a very frustrating age. She is unable to communicate effectively all of her many wants and needs, but does a great job of ‘flipping out’ when even one of them is not met exactly. But, as I know this stage will not last long, I try to seek out the most sweet and endearing moments I share with her. This week, after returning from the “date” with my oldest son, my daughter was overjoyed to see me, the woman who she had possibly taken for granted always being there. She wouldn’t let me out of her site or my arms. When I took a moment to sit on the chaise lounge (a former Mother’s Day gift from my darling husband) that had been rescued from winter storage, she insisted on sitting on my lap, bent down, and kissed me over and over again on the mouth. I knew she possessed the ability to kiss, but she rarely treated anyone to this gift. But on this one afternoon, with a twinkle in her eye and a smile that enveloped her face, she kissed me time after time with no hint of stopping. I soaked up the attention, the kisses, and the unabashed love she was throwing my way. The next day, while dressing for Mother’s Day, my daughter got into my jewelry armoire. She is usually admonished but this time I allowed her free reign. She found a gold bracelet, put it on, and strutted, lady-like, about the room. I took this cue and found a baby identification bracelet out for her to wear. I was scared she may try to pull on it and break it, but she was gentle, intrigued, and thrilled to be adorned! As a jewelry lover who fondly remembers eyeing my mother’s collection, I was overwhelmed by the connection I felt with my daughter. She wore the bracelet (and a faux pearl necklace) all day without damaging it. She knew it was there but regarded it in high esteem. I knew I had found a kindred spirit!

Mother’s Day. On Mother’s Day I was delighted by the freshly mown lawn, front and back, my husband tended to the day before. In addition, I admired the newly planted gardens and hanging baskets he arranged while I was out with my oldest. Everything was immaculate and signified spring. Inside I displayed the treasures my middle boy had given me, accepted handmade and thoughtful gifts from my oldest son (a clever poem, a book of coupons for things like doing the dishes and washing the car, colored paper flowers in a paper basket, and a certificate stating I was the best mommy because “she makes breakfast, lunch, and dinner AND she let’s me read myself to sleep at night!” ), opened the store-bought cards my husband lovingly picked out and had each child sign, and enjoyed the spotlight placed on me for the day.

Luckily, in my family, the spotlight does not stop shining when Mother’s Day is over. I am valued and treasured in my family each day of the year. These tangible signs of affection are valued and appreciated, but having these children’s hugs, kisses, little hands in mine, and “Momma” on their lips are the simplest and most potent Simple Joys.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome back to the Monday Movie Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. Hopefully you all enjoyed a wonderful and relaxing Mother’s Day weekend. Now it is time to put attention back to this ever-growing resource known as the Monday Movie Blog.

This week’s focus is movies that begin with the letter “R”. Please list any and all movies that begin with the letter “R”. Remember to include a list of actors as well as a brief synopsis or review of the film.

Last week saw historic numbers at this site, new followers, and a swell of pageviews for each day of the week, including the weekend! Thank you to all of the new eyes at this site, all of the loyal “regulars” who have followed and read my work since the beginning, and a genuine invitation to all to continue to join me daily. I urge you all to return tomorrow for the week’s most uplifting blog, Simple Joys. I look forward to your posts about movies that begin with the letter “R”.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Friday Music Blog

Welcome back to the Friday Music Blog on Chief 187 Chatter. Last week’s topic of “best albums of all time” brought passionate responses. This week’s focus, keeping in mind that Mother’s Day is on Sunday, will be “music you’d put on your mom’s playlist”. If you were to make your mother a playlist on your iPod or MP3 player, a mixed CD or tape, what songs would you include on it? They can be songs you know she loves, or songs that remind you of her, or, of course, a combination of the two.

Once again I am in the humbled and overwhelmed state of gratitude to my readers who have came out in full force this week. You embraced every post, from the Monday Movie Blog that enjoyed a strong audience and comments, to the Simple Joys post that is usually the most popular blog of the week. This week, however, you honored my mother and me by flocking to the Mother’s Day post I created in her honor. The numbers soared that day and I was simply delighted!

Looking forward to reading your playlists for your mothers. Wishing all of you who are moms a very Happy Mother’s Day on Sunday. And to all of you who still are lucky enough to have a mother with you, Happy Mother’s Day to her! Enjoy your (her) special day! I will be reading your responses to this week’s FMB topic all weekend. Please join me on Monday when we start the week back up again with the Monday Movie Blog. Until then, Happy Weekend! Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Tantalizing Thursday: Recipe for a Happy Marriage (cont.)

Upon posting last week’s Tantalizing Thursday: Recipe for a Happy Marriage, I realized there was so much more I wanted to add to the list. Like a living document, the recipe is ever growing, expanding, and evolving. I do not claim to “know it all” nor do I believe myself to be an “expert” in this field, but I have talked to hundreds of people about marriage. I especially question couples that have more than 30 years together what they feel contributes to their successful marriage. I’ve been stunned, entertained, and enlightened by the many different responses. In an effort to share and spread enlightenment, I am continuing the recipe started last week. Please feel free to read, comment, and especially add your own tips that you feel have helped you (your parents, favorite couple, etc.) stay happily married.

Recipe for a Happy Marriage (cont.)

31. Agree to disagree. So many people care too much about being “right” and insisting that their spouse share their opinion. Is it so important to be right? If it is for your spouse, simply allow your spouse to be right. I don’t mean compromise your integrity or lie, but listen and see things from your spouse’s perspective.

32. Compliment your spouse in front of him or her as well as when he/she is out of earshot. Nothing is better than having your spouse brag about you; don’t believe me? Try it!

33. Learn to give (and receive) a massage.

34. On the MP3 player(s) have his and hers playlists and then one you both enjoy!

35. Rent/go to movies you both want to see. If there is a disagreement, separate to see the movie you want to see so he/she can do the same!

36. Opposites attract, but marry someone you have things in common. Once the passion ebbs you want to have a strong connection outside of the bedroom.

37. Incorporate celebrations into your everyday life. Example: Today is Cinco de Mayo so make some tacos, put out some chips and salsa, and toast this important day in Mexican history! Live it up on the big holidays, but make each day a small celebration of love, life, and the wonder that is all around. When you live with a grateful, celebratory heart, then your life retains a positive vibe.

38. Stick it out during the hard times. When the vows are uttered the bride and groom are most likely not thinking about illness, financial ruin, or the like. But the reality is, reality is rough! Choose a spouse who can weather the storm, be supportive, and will see the rough stuff through.

39. Remember the brain is the biggest sex organ. It doesn’t matter if he has a bald spot or she has fifteen extra pounds around the middle. Love each other like you did when you first fell for each other.

40. Reach for your dreams while keeping your feet planted to the ground. Support one another, but remember to be there for one another. The family must come first.

41. Give your spouse space when he/she is upset. Everybody needs to vent, be annoyed, and feel anger to its conclusion. Once a cool down is finished, then discuss the issues behind the blow up.

42. Plan fun family vacations with the kids and really enjoy the break in routine.

43. Plan a “couple only” vacation without the kids so you can recharge your batteries and concentrate on only each other.

44. Don’t wait for a vacation alone to concentrate on one another; make your spouse the priority and the marriage, too. Happy children have happily married parents.

45. Treat your spouse with kindness; offer to make him a sandwich, make her some tea then rinse out her mug and put it in the dishwasher.

46. Don’t keep score. Marriage isn’t a competition or a game. You are on the SAME team.

47. Communicate. In every day in every way, keep your spouse apprised of what you are thinking and feeling. When communication leaves the relationship, the relationship dies.

48. Challenge yourself. Stagnation in one’s life sucks the passion out of you. Keep yourself stimulated and you’ll be stimulating to yourself and your spouse!

49. Take the word “divorce” out of your vocabulary.

50. Whether formally or privately, renew your vows each anniversary.

This concludes my Recipe for a Happy Marriage. Please add your own tips and strategies for a happy marriage that you’ve experienced or heard. Next week Tantalizing Thursday will return to its roots and offer a culinary recipe. Please join me tomorrow when I offer an all new Friday Music Blog.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday so my thoughts have turned to my own mother. I am fortunate to have my mother in my life and enjoy a comfortable relationship with her. That is not to say we don’t have our ups and downs, but the longer I live, the more I see the world and our respective places in it. For better or worse, right or wrong, good or bad, she is my mother and I love and adore her. This is dedicated to my mother with love.

My mother is a dynamic person with strong opinions, an optimistic outlook, and great skin! She champions my children, supports my aspirations still, and is the most stylish woman I know! From the moment I was born we were close; we were destined to be mother/daughter. And although I may not be the “carbon copy” people used to tag us as, we are definitely connected by blood, mannerisms, and our gregarious style.

In every way, when it mattered most, my mother has been there for me like only a mother can. As a baby she cared for me around the clock. As a young girl she shuttled me to and fro, brought me to her bridge games, and took me out to lunch all the while teaching me the fundamentals in addition to loving me unabashedly. When I was a teenager and a crisis occurred, my mother kept a steady head and got me through. She taught me how to tell a joke (even the lewd ones!) When my first choice college did not accept me, my mother reminded me of the “safety school” she recommended. I was accepted there and was offered a grant to attend! When I insisted my New Jersey wedding reception be held in March during my senior year spring break in college instead of in June like my mother desperately wanted, she relented. When the “Storm of the Century” struck the eve of the wedding reception sending three feet of snow, they got me there, paid the money for a reception for 130 people that 29 attended, laughed, and made the best of it, and not once did she utter then or even to this day, “I told you so”. When tragedy struck in my twenties she was there to support and protect me. When my first child arrived ten days before I turned 30 and I was overwhelmed, in physical pain, and scared, she came by every day to cajole me, make me lunch and dinner, do my laundry, and showed me how to care for my newborn. When my second child came she cared for my oldest child, her soul mate. When my last baby came she cared for both boys and bought a whole new wardrobe in pink for my little girl after the two blue wardrobes she bought for my sons respectively. Whenever I call for a recipe she patiently gives it. When I need help she provides it. When I ask for something she gives it. When she lives near me in the summer I see her daily. We even play bridge together with her lady friends! When we don’t see eye to eye it smarts. I try to remember the important lessons she’s taught me. When my mother was diagnosed with endometrial cancer she stared it down and fought. She struggled a bit, but mostly stayed positive and made what could have been unbearably scary, dealable. She is currently cancer free!

Now, with my new career, she is proud, encouraging, supportive, impressed, and, well, my mother! She delights in my children, cares passionately for my family, and has a rockin' social life all her own! The longer I live the more I see how very blessed I am to have such a loving, caring, and wonderful mother. Cheers to my mother, the woman who gave me life, taught me to live, love, and laugh, and raises my children to the light. I love you mom, Happy Mother’s Day!

Please take this opportunity to write about your mother or the woman (or man) who fills this all-important role in your life. Write about it here and then share it with her on her special day. To all of the mothers who read this, a very Happy Mother’s Day!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Simple Joys

Welcome in to Simple Joys at Chief 187 Chatter. This week is like a part two of last week’s vacation entry. Our trip was split into two destinations: South Carolina with my in-laws and Charlotte, North Carolina for our love of NASCAR. This Simple Joys will deal with the amazing time we spent in Charlotte. If you have never been to the Queen City, make plans now. Whether you are a NASCAR fan or a fan of good living, Charlotte is the city to be.

Rowdy. One of the bonuses of traveling to Charlotte is the knowledge that Rowdy Headquarters is now located there. Rowdy is the place where my writing career was resurrected. It is also the best NASCAR podcast in the business. We made a pilgrimage to Rowdy Headquarters in 2009 after the Martinsville Spring race when it was in Charlottesville, Virginia. We felt it necessary to christen their new home with our presence. So, Team 187 made Rowdy Headquarters their first stop in Charlotte. The studio was state-of-the-art, a complete step up from where they started. We met new faces, saw our old friend Leonard “Bass” Masters, and had the whole family in the outtro part of the podcast for Friday, April 29th. If you are so inclined, check it out on iTunes! Coming to Rowdy Headquarters always provides a fine feeling of Simple Joy.

Hotel pool. Upon checking into the hotel we threw all of us into the hotel pool. Indoor, warm, and a perfect place to blow off steam, we had a blast! The swim lessons we’ve been paying for for an eternity have paid off in spades. Our children all swim well and enjoy the water. It is a life-saving Simple Joy that I will never regret spending the money.

Bernadeth, hotel front desk. Our first night in Charlotte was a Thursday, the night I do “The Final Round Show” for http://Eventlevel.com. I was in need of a quiet space to do the two-hour plus program and we had only secured one room for our family of five. I explained my needs to Bernadeth and she thankfully offered up a board room in the hotel. A long wooden desk surrounded by ten lush tall-back office chairs awaited me. A kind hotel maintenance man offered me water, which I gratefully accepted. He returned with a full pitcher of the tastiest, most refreshing ice water that had ever passed my lips. I was alone, comfortable, with my needs met, and able to give undivided attention to the job at hand. Pure bliss! Thank you Bernadeth! Later the next day Bernadeth and I found ourselves sharing story after story resulting in a fast friendship. Sending love to my new friend! Making wonderful new friends is always a Simple Joy.

NASCAR Hall of Fame. This topic warrants its own article, but I didn’t want to leave it out of this week’s Simple Joys. We went as a family to the NASCAR Hall of Fame at opening (10am) thinking we’d be gone by lunchtime and needing to make an itinerary of “other things to do in Charlotte”. We met our dear friend Jules(loyal Chief 187 Chatter reader and commenter) and her enormously tall and sweet son Daniel at the beginning of our tour. We talked, toured, cried, laughed, gawked, and interacted all the way through the museum. Aesthetically beautiful, interesting, gripping, poignant, relevant, and historical, I recommend it to NASCAR lovers and historians alike. And whether you rooted for Lee Petty and think of Bill France Jr. as a kid, or your first experience with NASCAR was watching Trevor Bayne look for Victory Lane at the end of the Daytona 500 this year, there is something for everyone. It is a crime against humanity if you don’t put this landmark on your “to-do” list. And not the one titled “Bucket List”, but he one that needs to be done within the next calendar year! Don’t wait, do it NOW. And be sure to say hi to Barry; tell him Chief 187 sends her love.

Hospitality. There isn’t anything like the South. As a New Jersey girl, I’m used to my state being the “butt” of many jokes and enduring the endless critiques of our collective attitudes and tempo. I’m usually impervious and at times have stuck up for my fellow New Jerseyites. I am one of the nicest people you will ever meet, and I was born and raised in New Jersey. My New Jersey friends are all awesome and I meet nice strangers daily in New Jersey. The kindness, sweetness, and genuine hospitality I experienced in Charlotte just oozes easily out of everyone we met. I’m sold, Charlotte. You had me at “Hello y’all”.

Race shops. Charlotte houses several race shops and most are open to the public to tour, look around, and, of course, shop in for team gear. We went to JGR first (Joe Gibbs Racing). Stunningly beautiful, well-manicured on the outside and immaculate on the inside, we were greeted with more gracious Southern hospitality, saw numerous trophies, racecars, the cleanest garage I have ever seen, and the organized and meticulous way the JGR teams are obviously run to bring them the overwhelming success that is undeniable. We saw championship rings, both NASCAR Cup rings and track ones, but also Washington Redskins Super Bowl Championship Rings. Fascinating for this woman who adores jewelry! We also went to Hendrick’s team store (his shops were closed the day we went) and were tickled to see so many racecars, trophies, and pictures scattered about the store. Michael Waltrip Racing, unfortunately, was also closed the day we were there, which was a shame as he is my husband’s favorite driver. We already promised one another that when (not if) we return to Charlotte, MWR and Dale Earnhardt Incorporated would be on our list of what to see.

Charlotte Motor Speedway. In an effort to spruce up before the big happenings at the track in a few weeks, CMS was having a facelift. Repainting, resealing, cleaning, etc. was happening all around us. We opted out of a forty-five minute paid tour because we were facing a ten-hour drive home that day, but we did get to see the track. A Richard Petty Experience class was taking place so we even got to see stock cars going around. We added this track for a must-see in the next 2-5 years!

Our trip to Charlotte ended far too quickly. We could have spent at least a week there if not more and cannot wait to get back. As always, I look forward to reading your Simple Joys for the week!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Monday Movie Blog

Welcome back to the Monday Movie Blog at Chief 187 Chatter. I have returned from my vacation with a happy and relaxed heart and an increased passion for my writing. Meeting dozens of new people, learning of more who read my work consistently, and “pressing the flesh” has energized me! As many love to watch movies, this blog is a favorite that garners a lot of hits and responses. Since January we have been listing favorite movies in alphabetical order creating a comprehensive resource.

This week’s focus is movies that begin with the letter “Q”, a challenging topic to be sure. To broaden the topic, please also consider movies that star actors with the letter “Q” anywhere in their name! Remember to include a brief synopsis or review of the movie and any stars of note.

After the Southeastern Media Tour I just finished, I am excited to report that I met amazingly friendly people interested in reading my works. Chief 187 Chatter has over 11,000 pageviews and will be closing in on 12.000 in no time! If you like what you read here, enjoy my words, and are so inclined, please spread the word of Chief 187 Chatter. The goal is one day to have enough readership to attract sponsors and make this site a major player in the world of blogging. I appreciate your support.

I look forward to reading your selections for movies that start with “Q” and/or actors whose names contain the letter “Q”. I urge you to join me tomorrow for the most uplifting post of the week, Simple Joys. If you have yet to, please read Simple Joys; many have said it is the springboard to positive change in their lives. If nothing else, it’s entertaining!