Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Traditions are Important

When I was a teacher I always enjoyed assigning work that revolved around the holiday at hand. I was still making my students think and use necessary skills, yet I felt the assignments were fun and went in hand with what was on their minds anyway. Besides, when I graded the assignments it put me in the mood for the holidays as well.

The assignments were called “Traditions” papers. I had my students write about their family traditions for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then whatever gift-giving holiday they celebrated in December.

Some of my students balked at the idea of figuring out what their traditions were. Others were convinced that their family had no traditions. Still, the majority of the students embraced the topics (3 assignments in all, one for each month October-December) and I got to read about them.

What the children began to learn was that routine is the root of tradition. They learned that what was “normal” or even “boring” to them was sometimes different than their peers and other times the same.

Certainly Trick-or-Treating, eating turkey, and opening gifts were on most papers, but the other traditions were vastly different.

Some watched the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade while others were always traveling on Thanksgiving morning for their meal. Some had artificial trees and others had only experienced live trees.

From menus to d├ęcor, activities to church/temple visits, the children began to understand that their normal was not everyone’s.

My point for doing the assignment was to make the students aware of the importance of traditions in one’s life.

All too often couples come together and think their family of origin’s traditions aren’t important in their new life. But they certainly are and can become deal breakers or at the very least sources of contention for couples.

How we observe the special times in our lives – holidays especially – are part of what makes us who we are.

It doesn’t mean we cannot adapt, assimilate, and change, but rather we must have the option to maintain some semblance of the way we were raised.

The little things, minute details, and fringe add up to so much more than the sum of their parts.

It takes compromise, union, and patience to merge traditions and create new ones unique to the blended family.

So as you observe Halloween today, be acutely aware of how much you do that is tradition. And, moving forward, do the same for Thanksgiving and the holiday you celebrate in December.

Traditions bind us together, connect us to our past, and spring forth into our future. Traditions are powerful forces in our lives.

By identifying our traditions we can recall what we took from home and what we created to make a home.

And for me traditions are a resonating and recurring Simple Joy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Simple Joys

Welcome to Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

No matter the climate, the atmosphere, the conditions, or the situation, I have Simple Joys to soothe me.

That is a strong statement for me. There have been times in my life that I had lost faith, was on the verge of giving up, and hopelessly baffled. Somehow I got through.

Now when my world begins to go topsy-turvy I hold on tightly and concentrate on the Simple Joys, no matter how small or seemingly inconsequential, to pull me through.

By allowing one to believe in Simple Joys they spring to life. They are as tiny as a compliment, a hearty laugh, a favorite song, or a tasty beverage and as monumental as a new baby, a fabulous date, or a much-needed vacation.

What is vital is remembering that no matter what you are going through, Simple Joys still exist, are accessible, and can see you through all times – good, difficult, and impossible.

And now, without further ado, is this week’s Simple Joys.

Mallomars. These cookies that resemble S’mores are a regional favorite in the northeast. Typically they are nearly $4 a box at the grocery store so that is where they stay.

But every September my grocery store discounts them to $1.49 a box (no sales tax on food in NJ) so I stock up on them.

My children adore these cookies and a common refrain when they return from school is, “May I have some Mallomars, pleeeeeeeeease?”

I usually answer yes. We are nearing the end of our supplies, but I still am enjoying the delight in my children’s chocolate-covered faces when they get to indulge in one of their favorite store-bought treats.

Having Mallomars in the house is a delicious Simple Joy.

Interview. Last week I was granted an interview with NASCAR Hall of Famer Glen Wood of the famed Wood Brothers Racing. The man is 87 years old and was not feeling well, he admitted, when we started our conversation.

Once I asked the first question Mr. Wood was off and talking animatedly about the topic at hand. I asked several questions and Mr. Wood was excited, engaged, and sounded like a man forty years his junior.

It always excites me to interview another person for an article and Mr. Wood was no exception. Meeting a true legend and getting to guide the discussion through my questions was a Simple Joy that makes me embrace and love my job.

Anticipation. Sometimes waiting for something wonderful to happen is nearly as much fun as it happening.

My husband has agreed to take off a couple of days in November to be with the children and me during their school break. It is so much fun counting off the days and planning how we might spend them.

In addition, my husband and I, in an effort to celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary in January, are taking a trip that month – alone.

Just visualizing the adventure is a pure Simple Joy whenever I need to get away from it all.

Leaves. “Frankenstorm” – Hurricane Sandy – is threatening my area so my husband was determined to remove the leaves off of our overgrown lawn and mow. Before he finished the entire job he made a leaf mound for our children (and me!) to jump in and frolic.

When the children (and I) saw the pile they (and I) ran outside and jumped with reckless abandon, giggling all the way. The leaf pile was the site of jumping, rolling, and throwing of leaves, but also a setting for my children to conjure up great stories of adventure.

It was such a fun spot that when my husband announced he was ready to clear them up so he could finally finish the arduous job, the boys (and I) cried!

Finding such rapturous delight in autumn’s bounty is a Simple Joy worth experiencing annually if not more frequently!

Kissing. Getting kisses from my children is sweet. Sharing kisses with friends I greet is great. But kissing my husband is at the very top of my Simple Joys list. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Simple Joys need not take money, time, or effort. All that is needed for Simple Joys is an open mind and heart to accept them.

Taking time to think about the Simple Joys you have encountered each week is a great exercise that allows Simple Joys to be more evident.

Take it from me, life is constantly improving and my perspective positive and pleasant when I count my Simple Joys.

Wishing you all a week chock full of Simple Joys.

Please join me tomorrow, Halloween Day, as I wish my husband a very Happy Birthday, and I wax poetic on yet another topic on Freestyle Wednesday on Chief 187™Chatter.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Media Blog-Halloween Television Episodes

Welcome to the Monday Media Blog on Chief 187™Chatter.

Once again Halloween is upon us. Earlier in the month we examined favorite Halloween movies and specials.

Now we will focus on favorite television shows with awesome Halloween episodes.

My favorites always revolved around sit-coms like Roseanne and Home Improvement that seemed to go all out to celebrate the holiday.

But shows of all kinds tend to offer up a Halloween episode. Glee has done a few and the shows my children watch on the Disney Channel do as well.

List your favorite television show that featured a Halloween-centered show.

Wishing you all a safe and Happy Halloween!

For those of you in the path of Hurricane Sandy, I am wishing you extra safety as well.

Please join me tomorrow for the uplifting and ever-popular Simple Joys on Chief 187™Chatter.

Wishing my husband - the great love of my life and my very best friend - a very Happy Halloween Birthday as well! He was actually born on October 31st!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tums Fast Relief 500 Race Recap by Chief 187™

Chase No. 7 from Martinsville Speedway – the Tums Fast Relief 500 - is in the books and pole sitter Jimmie Johnson once again gets the win. It was Johnson’s seventh win at the short track and his fifth Chase win at the place known as the Paper Clip.

Once again the Hendrick Motor Sports (HMS) No. 48 juggernaut seems primed to take the championship for the sixth time. Johnson deftly took the points lead away from Brad Keselowski at the conclusion of the day. He leads by two points with three races left in this 2012 Chase.

Kyle Busch, a non-Chase racer took second in the race. Busch tried to chase Johnson down and pass the five time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, but Busch never found enough to throw at him.

Kasey Kahne, Johnson’s HMS teammate, brought home third. Aric Almirola was fourth in his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford. Clint Bowyer, driver for Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR), led the race for a time but had to settle for a fifth place finish.

Keselowski had an extremely decent run on Sunday finishing sixth at the track that had once plagued him in his career. Jeff Gordon, HMS teammate of Johnson and Kahne, finished seventh. Brian Vickers, part time driver in the No. 55 and teammate of Bowyer at MWR, took eighth. Bobby Labonte, another non-Chase racer, was ninth. Greg Biffle brought up the top-10.

As mentioned above, Johnson took the lead coming out of Martinsville with a slim two point lead over second place Brad Keselowski.

Clint Bowyer picked up one spot to occupy third, 26 points back from the leader. Kahne, also ascending one position, was fourth after Sunday’s race, 29 points back from Johnson.

Denny Hamlin was plagued with electrical problems late in the race that were finally identified as a broken post on the master cutoff switch. The prognosis came far too late – Hamlin was 34 laps down and stuck in 33rd place. He fell two spots to fifth.

Gordon leapt two places to sixth. Martin Truex Jr., 23rd in the race, lost one place and landed in seventh. Matt Kenseth, 14th in the race, gained a spot to take eighth. Biffle (Kenseth’s Roush-Fenway teammate while the 2012 season is still in progress) picked up two positions to occupy ninth. Defending Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart who won this race last year fell three spots to round out the top-10 due to his 27th place finish.

Kevin Harvick was doomed by a blown engine, finished 32nd in the race, and dropped one position to 11th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to Chase racing after a two-race hiatus due to a concussion at Talladega, finished 21st and remains in 12th place.

Racing resumes next weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway for the AAA Texas 500. The race will be on Sunday, November 4th and will be broadcast starting at 2pm EST on ESPN.

Tune into the race to see the action for yourself and then return to this site upon completion of the race for my AAA Texas 500 Race Recap.

Candice Smith can be reached via Twitter by following @Chief187s. To find out more please visit

Friday, October 26, 2012

Friday Music Blog-Martinsville

Welcome to the Friday Music Blog on Chief 187™Chatter.

With Chase Race No. 7 from Martinsville Speedway this weekend and Halloween less than a week away, the music topics are more than plentiful this week.

The Tums Fast Relief 500 runs on Sunday so the first topic is songs that have the word “Fast” in the title, lyrics, or artist’s name.

As Martinsville is located near the Blue Ridge Mountains so the next focus is songs with the word “Blue” in the title, lyrics, or artist’s name.

In addition, list songs that mention “October” in the title, lyrics, or artist’s name.

Finally, include any and all songs that are appropriate for Halloween.

I always encourage everyone to leave their music selections and then continue to check back later in the day and throughout the weekend to see what has been added.

Weekends, in fact, are a fabulous time to check out all you may have missed on Chief 187™Chatter. Using the search feature in the upper left hand corner you can find archived articles of all kinds - recipes, movies, Simple Joys, and more.

Wishing you all a very enjoyable weekend as I invite you to join me again on Monday as I begin another week of all new, fresh, and original blogs on Chief 187™Chatter.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Tantalizing Thursday-Virginia is for Food Lovers

Welcome to Tantalizing Thursday on Chief 187™Chatter.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers return to short track racing at the historic Martinsville Speedway for Chase Race No. 7 this weekend.

Most associate Martinsville with their eponymous hot dogs and this entry last spring dedicated itself to that very topic. But Virginia offers far more than the Speedway’s dog.

As the temperatures continue to drop and the autumn days lose sunlight, a hearty and toasty drink is a great way to warm up and revitalize.

Old Virginia Wassail Cider
Recipe found on
"A quick and delicious hot cider drink - Great for cold weather entertaining. Always a big hit with young and old! Cloves can be placed into cheesecloth or teabag infuser for easy removal if desired. A cinnamon stick in each cup makes a nice garnish." - CUTES12

Original recipe makes 15 servings

2 quarts apple cider
2 cups orange juice
1 (46 fluid ounce) can pineapple juice
2 (3 inch) cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1/2 cup honey


In a large stock pot over medium heat, combine the apple cider, orange juice, pineapple juice, cinnamon sticks, cloves and honey. Bring to a boil, then simmer over low heat, or transfer to a slow cooker to keep warm while serving. Strain out cinnamon sticks and cloves before serving if desired.

Nothing smells better than bread baking in a house. This recipe is for rolls that will take a bit of extra effort to create, but the outcome is far worth it!

Virginia Clise Bread
Recipe found on
"These are by far the best rolls I've ever had! My neighbor's mom makes these and passed the recipe along. They are scrumptious! This recipe makes a lot of rolls. You can freeze the dough after forming into rolls." – SAXYBONE

Original recipe makes 40 rolls

3 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
1/2 cup sugar
6 cups warm water
1 cup shortening, melted
2 teaspoons salt
5 pounds all-purpose flour


In a large bowl, stir yeast into 1 cup warm water to dissolve. Stir in 1/4 cup sugar. In a separate large bowl, stir salt into 5 cups warm water to dissolve; stir in shortening and remaining 1/4 cup sugar. After yeast foams, stir salt mixture into yeast mixture.
Mix in the 1/2 of the flour, and then mix in remaining flour 2 cups at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth and elastic.
Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl, and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
Form the dough into approximately 30 to 40 rounds. Place on lightly greased baking sheets. Cover the rolls with a damp cloth, and let rise until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bake rolls in preheated oven 15 to 20 minutes, or until brown. Serve warm.

To serve with the bread which is wont to sop things up, a stew is always perfect. This one is ideal for the time of year and the above recipes.

Aunt Dot’s Brunswick Stew
Recipe found on
"This recipe is adapted from a recipe shared by our Aunt Dot. The ground turkey makes it healthier, although ground beef can be used instead. Can be made in a slow cooker for an easy yummy meal! Good Virginia cooking!" – Karen

Original recipe makes 6 servings

2 cups water
2 potatoes, diced
1 onion, chopped
1 (15 ounce) can peas, drained
1 (15.25 ounce) can whole kernel corn, with liquid
2 (14.5 ounce) cans peeled and diced tomatoes with juice
1 pound ground turkey
4 slices bacon, diced
3 teaspoons salt, or to taste
3 teaspoons ground black pepper, or to taste
3 teaspoons garlic salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (optional)


Bring water to boil in a saucepan; add potatoes, and boil until tender (about 15 minutes).
Pour the potatoes and the water used to boil them into a large pot. Stir in onion, peas, corn, tomatoes, ground turkey, and bacon. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
Stir in the salt, pepper, garlic salt, and sugar. If stew appears too watery, stir together flour and some of the stew liquid in a small cup, and then stir mixture into the stew. Continue cooking for 1 hour.

Finally, as always, a sweet treat is needed to end this and any meal! Apples are still in season so what better way to utilize the ones you picked at the orchard, farmer’s market, or supermarket than this scrumptious dessert.

Virginia Apple Pudding
Recipe found on
"This is a wonderful old family recipe served warm, topped with vanilla ice cream." - LAURIE NANNI

Original recipe makes 6 servings

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup white sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
2 cups chopped, peeled apple
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
In a small baking dish, combine butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and milk until smooth.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine apples and cinnamon. Microwave until apples are soft, 2 to 5 minutes. Pour apples into the center of the batter.
Bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until golden.

I hope you enjoyed this tour of Virginia – we’ve had several this year!

Next week Tantalizing Thursday is on November 1st which means this is the last one before Halloween. Check the archives – the search feature is located on the upper left hand side of this page – for Halloween-themed Tantalizing Thursdays for great ideas for fun and delicious foods.

Enjoy the race from Martinsville! And remember, if you are at the track this weekend, the Martinsville Hot Dog is still your best bet!

Please join me tomorrow for the interactive and ever-popular Friday Music Blog on Chief 187™Chatter.