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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Summertime Memories

Do you have great memories of childhood summers?  I do!  My parents were not affluent, but they scrimped and saved so we could have a week’s vacation each year.  We went to New Hampshire one year – for something different after years of vacations in Sea Isle City/Townsend’s Inlet.  But, we were spoiled by all of the great times at the shore – it was beautiful in New Hampshire, but so quiet!  I don’t think I appreciated peace and quiet when I was a child.

At the shore, we loved mugging for Dad’s movie camera – one time, we took turns going into the outdoor shower stall, then Dad would stop the camera, and we’d switch places with another sibling (or cousin).  Dad would start recording again, and we’d all laugh so hard that it looked like one kid went into the shower, and another came out.  (Kid humor – what can I say?!)

We watched the first astronauts land on the moon on a tiny portable TV we brought from home – more static than picture (no cable TV in those days), but it was HISTORY!  We watched one of my teenaged brothers teach another how to drive stick shift - and laughed at the jerky ride.  We had various cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends who would come down for a day trip – to spend the day on the beach (even if we had umbrellas up, because it was pouring rain), get showers at our place, have dinner, and go home.

My cousin Cindy from Canada would spend that week with us each summer – a big treat!  We’d go to the Trading Post to shop for some treasure or another with our little bit of cash.
It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that many of our memories involved food.  My sister Mary and I loved taking a quarter and walking from the beach to the fudge shop for a “bag of scraps”.  Oh, the quantity/variety of fudge we could get for a mere 25 cents!  Then, there was the time Uncle Fred decided to cook clams and spaghetti – something none of us had ever eaten.  He spent several hours preparing dinner. 

In my 20s, I spent several fun summers with a share in a shore house.  I was never a big drinker, but I sure loved to go dancing at the Avalon Cabaret, Bongo Room, and Jack's Tavern.  We'd arrive at leisure after work on Friday evening - or early on Sat., after hitting David Dye's Friday Flashback at the Chestnut Cabaret.  On Fridays, Ray would make a grocery shopping list - still remember how he'd say "okay, we need t.p." - always the first item on the list.  We'd plan out our meals for the weekend.  He'd do the shopping after the clubs on Fri. night/Sat. morning - 2 AM, best time to shop!  We'd usually spend the days on the beach, talking, reading magazines, and going in the water.  Once, Barb left her hand on her thigh and fell asleep.  No one noticed, but Barb had a red leg - except for the hand mark.  We'd hang out in the living room at our house, singing along to Luther Vandross cassettes.  Sometimes, we'd go to Garrity's to sing along while Lonzi played.  Often, we'd leave for work on Mon. morning, so that we could enjoy ALL of Sunday.  Oh, those were the days!  Not a care in the world - just sun, sea, songs, dancing, chatting, and relaxing with friends.

As my parents became grandparents, they began to rent a place again – and the grandkids would come down.  At the time, I worked in the corporate world, but I’d take the week off to be the doting aunt, help Mom with the kids, relive childhood memories, and make new memories.  Mom was always a short-order cook for breakfast, and we had great dinners with the kids.  Afterwards, we’d all go to the Yum Yum’s ice cream shop in Sea Isle.  The kids delighted in finding the gumdrop in the bottom of the cone!

This week, I was able to take a day trip to the shore, and to this day, I can’t leave the shore without picking up some fudge.  As soon as I cross over to the island side of the beach, I get such a  feeling of relaxation and bliss that harkens back to simpler times.

It seems that today’s parents are too hard on themselves, always feeling they have to go-go-go. I can tell you that my happiest childhood memories involve building sand castles, body surfing, walking the boards, having ice cream. What are yours?

I thought I’d end this column with a really great, really easy recipe that will bring summer into your kitchen.  My youngest niece gave it to me when I first began my business.  She was 5, and she ripped it out of a kids’ magazine she subscribed to.  She told me that maybe I could use it in one of my classes.  I thought that was so adorable (I AM a doting aunt, after all), but the recipe has proven to be a favorite of little ones.  We call it “Ocean in a Cup”.

Happy Summer!


blue Jello gelatin (prepared as on box)

peach or orange slices

Swedish fish


construction paper “sails”

Prepare blue Jello and chill as directed on box.  Put Jello in clear dessert dishes or glasses.  Stir in several Swedish fish candies.  Place one peach slice on top of Jello “ocean”.  Attach construction paper “sail” to toothpick.  Stick toothpick with sail into center of orange/peach “sailboat”. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

There are so many wonderful mothers in my life to celebrate - MY Mom, Doris Wolper, who has guided me and loved me unconditionally for my entire life, my sister Mary Treisbach, sisters-in-law, Lisa Wolper and Lori Greco-Wolper, my oldest friend, Alberta Bird, and so many others - women who are mothers, whether adoptive or not, expectant mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, and who have focused their motherly instinct on their dogs and cats. 

But, please remember those of us who never had children, too - people like me who always thought they've have a bunch of kids, but it never happened. For we, too, LOVE your children - as teachers, aunts, godmothers, friends - and we try to step in and help when you can't be there. 

I think this is why I've dedicated most of my adult life to teaching - whether it be 4th grade (St. John the Baptist), 3rd grade (St. Pat's), Computer class (Conshy Catholic and St. Teresa of Avila), substitute teaching (Wissahickon and Colonial School Districts, St. Paul and St. Titus Schools), and for over 11 blissful years through my business (Kathy's Just Desserts DBA) Kitchen Wizards.  I also LOVE my nieces, nephews, and friends' children. 

I don't have to change dirty diapers or worry when they come home late or have challenges that hurt them. But, I have loved children and tried to impart some "words of wisdom", guidance, and a bit of fun and happiness in their lives in the absence of their parents. I know I could never do as well as a Mom, but I've tried to fill in. So, to the Moms of all kids whose lives I've touched, Happy Mother's Day! 

But, most importantly, I'm so grateful for the role model MY MOM has been to me - and I'm so glad that, at age 87, she's still with us, so we can celebrate HER today! Love you, Mom!!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Need a push?

Hi All!

It's been a crazy-long time since I posted to my blog.  Sorry 'bout that!  It's kind of like putting off calling a dear friend - the longer you procrastinate, the more you have to tell - so you keep trying to find blocks of time for a long, leisurely conversation - and we ALL know that doesn't happen in our fast-paced lives!

So, I'm not going to explain EVERYthing that has been happening in MY life, and just say, "I'm BACK!" 

I've been given a gentle push to return to blogging by Phoenixville Dish - the folks there were kind enough to post a link to my blog in an article that promotes our summer's Kitchen Wizards cooking camps. 

So, here's the link to that article -


here's the link to our summer cooking camp schedule -

We're still booking MORE camps - and we'd love to see the foodie kid in your life at one of our cooking camps this summer.  Don't procrastinate - consider this to be YOUR call to action!  Please help me spread the word!!  :-)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Old Home Week!

Last Thursday evening, I again participated in a fundraiser for the Greater Norristown Police Athletic League.  It's always a good time!

I love to donate to worthy causes - in particular, to causes that help children.  PAL has done that in my area for many, many years.  So, it's my pleasure to whip up cookies and cakes to serve about 1,000 of PAL's supporters.

After a long summer of hard work with cooking camps, it's nice to have the time to socialize.  Born and raised in Norristown, I have such deep roots here that I seem to know a lot of people in the area - and in particular, people who come to this event.  Some of the folks I saw are Jim McCrudden, the former "personnel" manager at Genuardi's who hired me for my first job as a checker at Sandy Hill when I was just 16; Santino Ciccaglione, owner of Sessano's and former classmate at Kenrick; Rita Ferman, DA - I met her through her work with Mission Kids (another worthy children's cause); Poncho Venezia (not so heavy anymore!), who owns a pizza place and went to grade school and high school with my brother Tim; Kate Harper, state rep - I attended LaSalle with her and we took a PoliSci class together in freshman year; Pete Reinert, another old Kenrick classmate - we laughed over antics in our German class with "Herr Schilling"; Jim & Cindy Serratore & their daughter Alicia Hemmerich - Alicia is one of Kitchen Wizards' instructors and Cindy was a neighbor and good friend of my cousin Maureen when they were kids; Dale Hood (in photo), a friend of my sister Mary and her husband Alan; the Owads and Autrys - I taught their kids at St. Pat's when they were in 3rd grade; Kathy Champagne, who was another Kenrick classmate and we're mutual friends with Laura DeSimone - we were bridesmaids in her wedding; Debbie Repas, who I met at LAFitness in water aerobics class; James (formerly Jamie!) Myers, a 3rd grade student at St. Pat's and the current publisher of the Norristown Patch - he took this picture...and so many more familiar faces!

It always feels like an episode of "This is YOUR Life" at the PAL event.  This smattering of faces from my past is one of the reasons I LOVE being from Norristown!!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Open-Faced Sandwich

I know it's been a long, long time since I posted.  But, I have a good reason.  Between my busy camp season for Kitchen Wizards and some family issues, there was really no time.

Mom had a serious health problem at the end of May/beginning of June.  She never thought she'd ride in a helicopter, but at age 86, she was airlifted to Hospital of University of Pennsylvania.  The doctors were amazed that she was alive.  You see, her electrolytes were so out of whack that her levels were "not compatible with life", so we were told by doctors.  It was rough going for awhile.  After being discharged from HUP to go to Shannondell for rehab, Mom was admitted (briefly) to Montgomery Hospital, then back to Shannondell.  Shannondell proved to be a GREAT experience for Mom - they were caring, helpful, and gave me back a Mom I hadn't seen in about a decade! 

While Mom was in rehab, we moved Mom AND Dad into BrightView Senior Living.  They're living in an independent apartment, with breakfasts and dinners provided, lots of social opportunities, and reconnecting with folks they knew in their earlier years who are also residents.  The place is beautiful - reminds me of a country inn - and it has the feel of living on a cruise ship.  I'm happy that my parents have the time and opportunity to reap the benefits of their life of hard work.

So, why the title of my post?  Well, I often hear about people of my age being in the "Sandwich Generation".  Since I have no kids, my "sandwich" is open-faced.  But, what I've learned through this health scare with Mom is that I love my parents with all of my heart, and I'd do anything for them!  I KNOW how fortunate I am to still have both of my parents - and I'm hoping that they have many more years to enjoy their great new residence, their family, and their health.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

A Small Victory for Victims of Abuse

As a lifelong resident of PA, a Catholic, and a person who loves children and thinks they should be protected at all costs, I believe that yesterday brought some justice for the children who were hurt by Catholic priests and Jerry Sandusky.  It will probably only slightly help their healing, but I hope they feel that the public is in their corner now.  Maybe this awareness will help prevent child abuse, so that future generations will not have to deal with such injustice against our most innocent citizens, our children.

Jerry Sandusky is an animal.  It has been easy for me to form that opinion. And, I do have the same opinion about the priests who have abused children.

However, it's been much more difficult for me to wrap my brain around my church allowing priests to continue ministry, knowing the terrible things they were doing - and to understand how "men of God" could be so horrific!  But, it HAS never shaken my faith in God. 

A priest friend just posted this on his FB page - he's truly one of the good guys.  And, given the stance the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has had, HE's pretty brave to put his opinion out there.

Thank you, Father Murphy, for giving us your perspective and for being a true shepherd!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Help Make My Dream Come True!

My long-term goal for the business is to have Kitchen Wizards programs throughout the country.  This grant would allow it to happen sooner, rather than later.

Please help me with this small business grant. If I get only 250 votes, the judges will read my application and consider my business for 1 of 12 $250,000 grants. Go to, then log on with Facebook (on the right, bottom). Put in Kitchen Wizards for the business name (no need to choose city/state). Then, click Vote. Spread the word to your friends, too.  Deadline for getting the 250 votes is June 30.