Saturday, December 18, 2010

Another Talented Nephew

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

White Christmas Guarantee

The local news in Vermont has an advert running about a White Christmas Guarantee. I haven't paid enough attention to get the details, but last night's weather and the forecast for the next 10 days pretty much supports that guarantee up here in central Vermont. I woke before dawn to a nice 7 inch snowfall today. The thermometer, which was flirting with mid-fifties over the weekend, dropped back overnight in the other direction. It's now struggling to get to 20 and there's not much hope that it will rise above the freezing mark until - yes, you guessed it - the weekend.

Today I'm thankful for a few basics:

1) Lining up a great local snow plow service and high speed internet in early November right after we bought this home in Vermont.

2) Finding my driveway and steps totally cleared of snow before 7am today.

 3) Being a work-at-home freelancer, so I don't need to go out in the cold except to pick up the mail and clean off the car. I don't need to drive anywhere, but if I did, the roads are completely clear. Hey, this is New England, not Pennsylvania.

I've got the Christmas tree up and mostly decorated - I saved the best ornaments for Doug. Today and tomorrow I'm expecting delivery of the gifts I ordered online, so all that I need to do now for the holidays is wrap gifts and spend time with family. Assorted family members will be driving here from a few hours away, so let's hope for no more snow for a few days  - after the New Year would be ideal.

Monday, November 08, 2010

I Hate Mondays

Hate Mondays

Friday, October 29, 2010

Newborn Babies - Picture Perfect Portraits

I have a friend on who's a talented photographer, writer and blogger - Heather Dunham Katsoulis.

She's got a flair for capturing portraits that's touching and appealing. Her professional photos of newborn babies are particularly beautiful and sensitive. Have a look at some of Heather's latest newborn baby portraits ... you'll be saying "Awwwww ..."

New born babies photography - HLKPHOTO.COM

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Halloween Costumes for Kids - Baby Halloween Costumes - Easy Halloween Costume Ideas

BOO Baby Halloween Fashion shirt

BOO Baby Halloween Fashion by imagefactory
Shop Zazzle for a different t shirt zazzle

Been thinking about what the kids will be dressed up like this year for Halloween. It's Bella's 9th, Sawyers 3rd and Anya's 1st Halloween.
Halloween Costumes for Kids

Friday, October 22, 2010


Mum and I had a whirlwind vacation week in late September. We took a bus trip to Savannah, GA and Charleston, SC by way of Charlotte, NC. On the way down we toured Shelton Vineyards and I stocked up on the harvest wine duo plus a bottle of estate Charonnay.

On our trip home we took a tour of Andy Griffith's Mayberry (Mt. Airy, NC) and then made a stop at Charlotte Raceway. We got a guided tour of the pit and track area and even got a ride around the track in a rally van.

I made this race car clip art sheet awhile ago ... it seems like the right time to dust it off to share (personal use only) for scrapbooks and paper crafts.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Almost Time to Change Clocks Back to Standard Time

I remember when Daylight Saving Time ended before Halloween. Not so these days. Thanks to a 2007 update to the original law, if your US state observes Daylight Saving Time all clocks return to standard time at 2am on the first Sunday in November.

I guess that leaves more daylight hours for Halloween and safer door-to-door Trick or Treating, but when I was a kid, we LIKED it when the early evening hours were dark and scary for Halloween. But life for kids was simpler then.

Snag this Turn Clocks Back clip art button to add to your calendar with the reminder to Fall back. Free for personal use on your blog or personal page, too,  if you link back to this post.

Friday, October 15, 2010

It's Not Just Black and White

Graphic design training includes at least one foundation course in Color and Design. You learn all the nuances of color and how it works - and doesn't - to catch the eye, hold attention, and convey an impression without a single word. There's work with the visible spectrum in both pigment and light. There's study of color temperatures, psychology of color, complements and hues plus much more. These days, a good instructor may even throw in a bit of cultural color training so one can intelligently design products for a global market.

To get a sense of how color and branding go together like PB&J, check out this post that includes a visual diagram of the world's most powerful brand marks and logos. You'll see what I mean.

kiss my black ads: The Most Powerful Colors in the World

Thursday, October 07, 2010

About that black cloud behind us ...

When I was a kid we had a family joke about a rain cloud that followed my Dad all around when we went on vacation. We always had our vacation in August, and no matter how sunny, hot and dry the summer weather had been up to that point, on the week all 6 of us piled into the car with Mum and Dad we'd have rain. Six kids on vacation in the mountains or at the beach when it's raining can be trying for even the most nonchalant adult. We always managed to find fun on our vacation, even on the rainy days.

On one vacation in August that  I took without Dad but with Mum at Hampton Beach the cloud still managed to find us. We were camping - yes, camping in tents at a campground near a salt marsh in the piney woods - and a hurricane brushed New England. After 3 days of rain and warnings of flooding and high winds we packed up the tents and camping gear and drove home with the kids and Trish (who was about 2 and a half then). The sun, of course, returned the next day but we abandoned the beach vacation for the rest of the week and stayed close to home. Curses on the black cloud - it must have been atracted to the car, not to Daddy.

Mum and I got a reminder of the black cloud syndrome this past week when we took a bus tour vacation through the sunny South - to Charleston, SC and Savannah, GA with stops in Charlotte, NC. On the first day as we were enroute to Charleston, our tour stopped for an overnight stay and afternoon of shopping in Charlotte, NC. All 50 of us got dropped off from the tour bus at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach . We were nowhere in view of the beach, but we had plenty of water to contend with because we were smack in the midst of a tropical storm that dumped 11 inches on that area and then moved up the eastern seaboard to New England. There was so much rain that many of the folks on the trip had to buy new shoes because they got so wet. We had rain gear and umbrellas; others improvised with makeshift protection - one lady even good-naturedly put a plastic bag on her head to keep dry! Nothing stopped the determined shoppers that day, and we all managed to find humor in our stormy Monday situation. As we left the next day we saw news reports that parts of Charlotte were disaster areas. Sorry for that ...

We proceeded south the next morning, heading into more rainy weather enroute to Charleston. Although we slogged through intermittent showers and clouds the sun came out on Wednesday and we had lovely weather for the rest of the trip.

Friday, September 17, 2010

We're About to Declare Success

After several go-rounds of negotiation between seller and potential buyers (us), it looks like we'll be able to come to agreement on a retirement property in Vermont. If all goes as planned, I'll be attending the engineering inspection next week and finalizing the rest of the endless paperwork. Might even be able to close before the birthday twins celebrate their 1 year old and 10 years old special days in November.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another Northern Trek, Another Step Closer to a Vermont Home

We just returned from our second house-hunting trip to Vermont. We really thought we'd found the right home this time - we even made a formal offer to the seller. Unfortunately, the deal is off because the owner wants full price and the house is just not worth that much in this housing market.

There's a bright side to this. Even though we spent a good part of our time looking over the home, the lot, talking with town officials about lot lines and easements and figuring out if we could add a garage to the home at some future date only to have the deal fall through, we discovered how much we like West Rutland so we're now putting more focus on that community to find our retirement home.

West Rutland's located just outside the city of Rutland (county seat) but close enough to get downtown to services, shopping and medical offices within a few minutes. West Rutland's a town that's embraced the arts, particularly sculpture, as a way to rejuvenate the community and energize the small downtown area. At one time West Rutland was home to a marble production center and several world-famous marble quarries. These days the quarries are closed and most marble business operations have almost disappeared. But marble is everywhere in this small town, and it's a big part of the town's history.

We visited with the Town Manager and the Town Clerk, then drove a bit further down Marble Street to The Carving Studio where Doug had a chance to meet with artists and the executive director. We took a walk around the grounds and studio areas and had an opportunity to view massive marble sculptures in process ... it was truly impressive and exciting.

We'll be back up north soon, looking more intently at West Rutland homes or vacant land for our Vermont home. Send me email if you know of a newer home (built after 1980) for sale with at least an acre of land within a half mile of West Rutland center.

Friday, September 03, 2010

A Bloodhound Bit Me in the UI - MySpace, I'm Outta Here

I've just killed my account on MySpace. I didn't use it all that much and my latest visit proved to be my last. I got into my profile to adjust my privacy settings and as I tried to save them my computer froze up ... yes, within the secure (?) MySpace UI. I believe it was running Java. I was able to complete the task, but I was on alert right away. When prompted by MySpace to give a reason for cancelling, I was upfront and honest about the experience I'd just had and my disgust about it.

So, I suspected something was going on because of how the PC was behaving. It seems I was right. Norton nailed a nasty virus within a few minutes ... a virus that exploits Java vulnerabilities - it's called Bloodhound - and it goes after personal information. Norton took care of cleaning it out, and I took a few more steps to ensure it didn't get into my backup sets or system restore file and I also manually updated my Java software to make sure I had the latest version running.

If I got that virus while using the MySpace UI and working on my personal data, I can only imagine what's going on with other member accounts and personal information. I don't need the headaches or the snooping, thank-you.

I can't prove that MySpace was the source of the virus, but I don't visit unknown sites, and it was the only place I visited that day that I don't surf to every day. I use updated Norton live protection and a couple other tools to keep my computer free from crap .. nothing else adds up except that visit to MySpace and the problems I had when I tried to tighten up my privacy settings.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pondering Reupholstery

Let me begin with this: I have been sewing, crafting and wielding tools since I was a kid. I've made slipcovers for sofas, chairs and love seats. I've designed and built decks, furniture, toys and additions to my home(s). I've renovated antique houses - right down to a complete bathroom gutting and remake. And I have done some upholstery. I've just never tackled a sofa.

Well, it's coming down to do or die with our old sofa and chair. They're family heirlooms, passed to us from my mother-in-law, who purchased them new in 1931. They need new covers, springs, padding - the works. I've only done the new padding and covers parts in my past adventures. Undaunted, though, hubs wants to tackle this, so here's a time lapse video of what to expect if we tackle this.

I have no idea where we'll be able to do the work other than in the living room, but I know it MUST be done in less than a week once we begin. We absolutely cannot live with a giant craft project taking up most of the space inside our existing giant craft project - our home is a WIP!

Thanks to Freshly Picked for sharing this video of what it takes to reupholster an old sofa.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Extreme Makover: Home Edition Berks County

The biggest thing to happen around here this summer is the big construction project going on just up the road apiece (about 20 miles north) in Tilden township. ABC and crew plus a huge contingent of volunteers are building a new home for Trisha and Cora Urban. It's been a whirlwiind week of press, work and wondrous accomplishment - read about it here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

No- Sew Ballerina Tutu - Green Crafts for Kids

My friend Michelle on Squidoo, lensmaster a_willow, is a frugal creative mom with a young daughter. She reminds me of my own daughters quite a bit.

Michelle  recently posted a simple but brilliant recycling craft project  -  how to make a ballet tutu from plastic shopping bags. I sent the idea along to my daughter Bekah, who knits shopping bags from those nasty plastic sacks - she can save the idea for her wee one (as soon as Anya's walking and dancing, that is).

Find more Toys for Toddlers ideas here

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Unschooling - Dayna Martin

A few decades ago  we explored the idea of pulling our child (the only one at the time) out of public school and becoming part of the Milford Free School. If we had the resources then that are available today, I would have definitely gone with non-public education.

At that time (mid-1970s), alternate education plans needed approval by the state of NH and the local community school board.  We decided to keep our daughter in the public system but to make sure she got plenty of additional opportunities for learning in an unstructured manner. When her sister came along a couple years later we needed two incomes, but we ensured that our day care provider followed the same philosophy. Both girls did well in school as well as with their independent learning experiences, so I think we gave them the best of both options available within our means.

Today, many forms of alternative education including alternative public school curricula, home school arrangements, cyber-schools and unschooling have been endorsed and even embraced by the worldwide community of parents and educators. Hooray!

Here's a brief interview of Dayna Martin of Madison, NH - her family of 4 gets a great unschooling experience at home from Dayna and her husband Joe. I wonder how my grandkids would enjoy the unschooling experience? I know I would have loved it ... both as a child and as a parent!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Are You Rushing Through Life?

How often in your daily life do you need to catch your breath - to slow down, take time to consider the beauty around you or just take in your surroundings?

In my mid-forties I was completely enveloped and controlled by the events in my life, so much so that I felt as though I had no life ... and I made a drastic but wonderful career change that I have never regretted. I left my high tech job, went back to school and finished a long-delayed degree program, and learned to use my computer to create art and market my work. I make new friends online through the communities I've joined on Facebook and Squidoo.

I no longer commute for an hour each way through horrendous traffic at 80mph to work at a job in another state. My chest isn't tight; my heart beat is slower; I don't get migraine headaches; I have time to knit, sew; try my hand at new crafts and cook - really cook - again.

Fifteen years later, I don't rush to the airport several times a week to catch a yet another flight to a far-away state or foreign country. I don't need to agonize over uncomfortable ethical decisions that conflict with personal values. I am free of office politics, the pursuit of a bigger paycheck and the never-ending career treadmill that seemed like a grindstone for the grim reaper.

I work for myself; I do what I love; I take time to take time, every single day. And I earn more money than I ever did before when I worked for someone else ... but that's really secondary to having my life back.

Are You Rushing Through Life?

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy July 4th!

We're having an all-American 4th of July weekend - we went to a Reading Phillies baseball game last night and enjoyed a bang-up free fireworks show after the R-Phils victory over the Altoona Curve.

Our US flag is flying ... Let Freedom Ring!

Holla Holla by Two From The Zoo

Holla Holla by Two From The Zoo

Melanie and Sean ...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Early Bird Gets the Berries

We feed the birds and wildlife on our small patch of earth all winter long. They stick around because there's plenty of fresh water year round from our ponds and flowing stream, plus they find shelter and natural food all over the garden.

We plant flowers that attract butterflies and birds all summer, then leave the seed pods for the birds, chipmunks and other critters to gather as forage during the cold weather months. We have a HUGE walnut tree in our yard that drops nuts that destroy our garden and lawn but it feeds the squirrels and makes really cool shade during our sweltering summer days ...

When Spring rolls around the bird treats aren't needed (except for the hummingbird feeder) and keeping the feeders full only attracts starlings, deer and (in some places) bears, so we stop filling and let the critters eat from the plants and shrubs in the gardens. That's when the challenge begins, because the birds and wild critters think we plant our vegetable garden just for them, too. We solved that battle by fencing in all the food except for the wild berries. Once the berries begin to ripen in June each morning becomes a race with the birds. I try to gather the fruit in the morning and late afternoon. They get to pick what's left during the middle of the day.

Today I won the berry picking race - or at least I think I so.  I gathered all these beautiful wild organic fruits - black raspberries and strawberries - on the second day I spotted ripe berries in the yard. But perhaps I just got the leftovers. The birds were up at dawn today so they probably left these few for me and chuckled at my frantic picking from high up in the trees. We'll see tomorrow ... hot sunny weather ripens the berries and our forecast for the next week is fair and dry with temperatures in the 80s.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Peas on Earth

Last night we dined on the first peas from our garden (we snagged some early pea pods a couple weeks ago, too). YUM! Our seeds were planted in succession, with multiple sowings between March 17 and May 3 ... the vines are taller than 5 feet now!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fire and Tools - Dad's BBQ Weapons

Get this cool design printed on a tee shirt, BBQ apron, button badge or trucker hat for that special man in your life - customize it with his name or whatever you like. Many styles, sizes and colors available for your King of the Grill.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day - It's Been 40 Years!

It's been a tough go but I think the nation has finally grasped the concepts put forth in 1970 and taken them to heart. Reduce, reuse, recycle - and while you're at it, buy organic/fair trade/sustainably produced foods and goods.

When you shop, BYOB - bring your own bags. If you don't have enough and don't want to buy canvas bags then stitch, crochet or knit up a few extras and keep them in your trunk or back seat.

I'm saving big birdseed bags to cut apart to make sturdy tote bags. If you enjoy working with fibers, knit or crochet a reusable shopping bag - this one's easy to knit from cotton yarn.Or get out the sewing machine and turn old clothes or sheets into new shopping totes.

For you diehard recyclers there's another tried and true nifty way to use up those plastic grocery bags the stores keep handing out.  Cut up your old plastic shopping sacks to make plastic strips (sometimes called "plarn") then knit yourself a reusable shopping bag from those nasty plastic bags.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Zazzle Award for My T-Shirt Design

 I just got word from Zazzle that one of my designs, First Time DAD T Shirt, won a Zazzle Artist Award for creativity. It's being featured in the New Dad Gifts collection for the next 2 weeks at Zazzle

Monday, April 19, 2010

Censored by Facebook - And then, Not Censored

 Minutes after I first posted this, the link on Facebook returned. I still think my comments here are valid, and worth keeping. But rest assured, Facebook's editorial team found at least one member with a brain who could actually read and must have followed the link to review the content.

If you use Facebook, have you ever had one of your posts removed? It happened to me today - and I don't understand the reason. I posted a link to a video on, an interview with young adults who survived the Oklahoma City bombings 15 years ago today.

According to recent news reports, that horrific event has been nearly obliterated from the history books used by our schools; ask high school or eaven some college students about it and they'll  give you a blank stare. They know about the WTC attack, but they don't know about the attack by US citizens that killed so many innocent people.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist - I just think it's strange that a bombing on home soil is fading from memory and Facebook found my reference offensive ( or one of those who reads my page objected to it ) and took down the post. This is clearly censorship. The post was an interview video on a respected television news station.

Do we have anarchists working at Facebook? Or did someone think I was in support of that act of cowardice and mayhem? Perhaps the complainer sympathizes with the terrorists, or the editor who blanked out the link didn't follow through to see it was not at all in support, but is a solid piece of journalism that explores the aftermath on the kids who survived the blast that destroyed their day care center in the federal building. They, like most of the kids in high school today, were babies and toddlers when the bombing attack occurred.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter Bonnets, Bunnies and Bibs

Every little girl (and especially babies going to church for the first time) needs a special Easter bonnet. Rebekah asked me to whip one up for Anya this year to go along with her special Easter dress.

I'd already been working secretly on a soft knit rabbit pillow and a cotton knit bib, so I had to work double time to get this little lady's chapeau sewn up and into the post on its way to Vermont earlier this week. Bunny makes a fine model, don't you think?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Earth Hour - March 27 - Go Dark

Celebrate Worldwide Earth Hour by turning off your lights for an hour at 8:30pm local time on Saturday, March 27, 2010.

Monday, March 22, 2010

It's Official - Spring Has Arrived

Spring arrived on Saturday afternoon and we were blessed with a simply gorgeous sunny weekend in the 70's. We ate lunch outdoors on Saturday, then all 3 meals on the deck Sunday. I'm raring to go with our vegetable garden and raised bed boxes - we're planning an even bigger crop of organic veggies this year, just like these carrots from last season:

I'm still not 100% following the gallbladder episode, but I simply had to get out to work in the garden and enjoy the weather. I managed to clean up most of the garden beds and walk ways: I trimmed off dead stalks from the perennials, fluffed up the mulch, removed the winter leaf covers, cleaned off the brick  patios and swept the deck and cabana.

Doug dug up the vegetable patch and planted the peas and spinach, plus he hauled all my debris piles away. Mind you he did all this in between sanding and varnishing our bedroom floor and painting the ceiling in there, too.

All in all we had a very productive weekend - now we're ready to get the hot tub opened up by end of the month!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Are You an Organ Donor?

I had an unexpected detour on my recent long-distance grandma trip to New England. My plan was to visit DD#2 and her family in Vermont for a few days, then travel down to southern New Hampshire for a few days with DD#1 and the two older grandkids. Well ... as day 2 was winding down, I started to feel not so well.  In fact, I wondered if I might be having a heart attack. Two days of rest and a raging fever along with pain worse than childbirth convinced me it was not just something I ate.

Okay, so I got to the ER at the crack of dawn on Tuesday and the docs examined and tested and determined my gallbladder had to come out. I was feeling a bit better by that time, thanks to the pain meds and kind staff when it was time to answer the "standard" patient admission form questions. Some made me laugh, others were more sobering. The one that made me think twice was, "Are you an organ donor? "

It struck me a bit hilarious ... but also slightly ominous. I was, after all, about to have the first "real" surgery of my life, and yes, I am a registered donor - it's on my license. I felt compelled to make it very clear when answering this question (3 different times) that  I am an organ donor but I'm ONLY planning to give away my gallbladder at this time.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Get Ready to Spring Forward

Daylight Savings Time is coming (to most US states) March 14, 2010.

Here's a reminder graphic to help you remember to change your clocks  to one hour AHEAD when you go to bed on Saturday, March 13, 2010.

You can find lots more of my original clip art, coloring pages and paper crafts printables at All are free for personal or classroom use.

Daylight Savings Time clip art

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Spring is Coming - the Craft Fairs are Calling

This time of year is the hardest for me. I get tired of the cold and want the weather to start getting warmer. I look for little signals from Mother Nature every day - birds start to sing a bit instead of silently looking for food; maple tree buds begin to swell ever so slightly as the sap starts rising (and in New England I see the spiles and sap buckets hanging to capture the excess); and finally the snow starts to look like grey sand as it compacts and gets hard just before finally giving up its grip on the road side.

Another harbinger of spring is starting to appear: calls for artists and crafters for this season's upcoming fairs, festivals and art shows. The first one to arrive in my email is from the Bizarre Bazaar Boston folks, who kindly sent along news and a call for artists and performers for ArtBeat 2010, presented by Somerville (MA) Arts Council. "During the heat of summer (held on the third weekend in July), artists and festival goers converge on Davis Square, transforming it into one of the area's largest and most innovative arts festivals. ArtBeat includes music, performance art, craft vendors, dance, theater, food, and a whole more."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Bite Me, and Happy New Year, too

Okay, I love to draw, and humor is a major element in my illustrations. Every now and then I come across another artist's work that makes me LOL - and here's the one that did it for me today.

SnowPocalypse Live in Southeastern PA - February 10, 2010

We got 22 inches according to the measuring stick on our deck. Here's a shot of Mother Nature working hard to deliver the second punch of heavy snow to our area in 4 days - in a region where they don't generally know how to handle snow, and usually just wait for it to stop before plowing (or not - they like, just let it melt). I'd rather be in New England.

This storm arrived for dinner on Tuesday, just a few hours after I finished clearing the leftover ice and snow on the walks, steps, roof edges and deck from a weekend storm that dumped 12 inches at our house (much more just miles south of us).

I hear that Vermont has no snow - and the Olympics is also suffering a snow drought. You can have ours ...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bird Buddies in the Blizzard

Got a chance to snap some new bird photographs during the blizzard today. We feed the birds all winter and today they were practically knocking on the door for breakfast, lunch and dinner as snow fell fast and heavy - an inch or more an hour. Lucky for them, we stocked up on black oil sunflower seeds before the snow storm.

In Honor of Today's Weather - Let It Snow!

Are we in Florida?

Once again, Pennsylvania has fallen down and can't get up because it's snowing. The governor has closed all the interstate highways, roads are all but impassable, and we're waiting for the power to go out. This is a heavy snowfall but it was well forecast and there was plenty of time to prepare. Most citizens did just that, but if you don't actually plow the snow when it falls, guess what happens?  Cars and trucks get stuck, have accidents, and all hell breaks loose until you clear the roads.

Oh, did I mention this isn't the first time? Happy Anniversary PADOT. Pennsylvania Valentine's Snowstorm Disaster of 2007 has returned ...

Gads, I miss New Hampshire and Vermont!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

This Weather's for the Birds

Every year at about this time my patience with ol' man Winter runs thin. I get tired of the cold days and chillier nights. I long for warmer days, more sunshine, and time to dig in the garden soil. Thank God for the birds. They brighten our days all year long, but in the dead of winter they're out there in the garden and visiting the bird feeders we keep filled with their favorite foods.

Here's to the birds who visit our gardens and bird feeders all year long. They're willing to let me get close enough to take lots of bird photographs and videos. They brighten up dreary days, and in the worst of weather - cold, snowy sleet or rainy days - they're chirping, and hopping about, and stopping by for a snack and a pose.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Year, More Frequent Driver Miles

Just returned from my first 2010 LDG (long distance grandma) trip to New England. Our holiday visit with the kids and grandkids in NH and VT got delayed due to Doug's heart procedure (he's fine now that the stents are in place) and the weather (snow in PA and NJ on my twice-delayed departure date).

When I finally got to share Christmas gifts with both daughters and their families it was actually more relaxed than during the holiday rush season. 

Needless to say I drove the truck to New England, feeling almost immortal armed with the stick shift and trusty FWD. Good thing - my nice shiny new 2010 Corolla has already accumulated 2 recalls, not yet repaired: 1 for a sticking gas pedal (it actually did this to Doug while I was away) and serious loss of braking capability if you drive in cold states like, oh, Vermont.