Wayne Life May 2024

                                     

Serving Wayne, Oakland, Wyckoff, Franklin Lakes 


The Origin of Mother’s Day
By Henry M. Holden

Mother’s Day, a holiday honoring motherhood was created by an American, Anna Jarvis, of West Virginia in 1908. It became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. While it is observed in different forms and different times throughout the world, Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s over-the-top commercialization and spent a large part of her adult life trying to remove it from the calendar. 

Celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who held festivals in honor of the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele, But the strongest modern example for Mother’s Day is the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.”

A major tradition in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, this celebration fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was originally seen as a time when the faithful would return to their “mother church”—the main church in the vicinity of their home—for a special blessing or visiting the church in which one was baptized.

Mother’s Day in the United States dates to the 19th century. In the years before the Civil War, Jarvis helped start “Mothers’ Day Work Clubs” to teach local women how to properly care for their children. These clubs later became a unifying force in a region of the country still divided over the Civil War. In 1868 Jarvis organized “Mothers’ Friendship Day,” at which mothers gathered with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation.

One mother who has been praised and admonished is also another precursor to Mother’s Day. Her roots, came from the abolitionist and suffragette movement Julia Ward Howe. In 1870 Howe wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” asking mothers to unite in promoting world peace. In 1873 Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” celebration every June 2. 

While versions of Mother’s Day are celebrated worldwide, traditions vary depending on the country. In Thailand, for example, Mother’s Day is always celebrated in August on the birthday of the current queen mother, Sirikit.

Another alternate observance of Mother’s Day can be found in Ethiopia, where families gather each fall to sing songs and eat a large feast as part of Antrosht, a multi-day celebration honoring motherhood.

In the United States, Mother’s Day continues to be celebrated by presenting mothers and other women with gifts and flowers, and it has become one of the biggest holidays for consumer spending. Families also celebrate by “giving” mothers a day off from activities like cooking or other household chores.

At times, Mother’s Day has also been a date for launching political or feminist causes. In 1968 Coretta Scott King, wife of Martin Luther King Jr., used Mother’s Day to host a march in support of underprivileged women and children. 

In the 1970s women’s groups also used the holiday as a time to highlight the need for equal rights and access to childcare.

Mary Ball Washington was neither a villain nor a saint—but rather an exceptionally strong and resilient woman, a single mother who raised five children and instilled in them qualities of fortitude and purpose. She was independent in ways few other women were at the time, choosing not to remarry after her husband Augustine’s death and refusing to give up her property to a male relative as had been the custom. 

By many accounts Mary Ball Washington, mother of George, our first president was a tough mother. After she was widowed, she didn’t have the money to send George or her other children to school in England, as was common for well-to-do Virginia families at the time. Instead, she enlisted George and his siblings to help run the farm. She emphasized obedience in her children. “She treated George seriously as a man and seriously as a religious being,” according to her biographer Martha Saxton (The Life of Mary Washington) 

Prior historians once interpreted this as poor mothering, which contributed to Mary’s adverse standing in history. In fact, it was common of mothers at the time to be stern, even remote. “The fond mother, the mother who is psychologically and emotionally utterly available and has nothing but unconditional love for her children came about in the late 19th century,” Saxton says. “That’s not the kind of mother Mary was.”

Other early Mother’s Day pioneers include Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan, in the 1870s. The duo of Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering, meanwhile, both worked to organize a Mothers’ Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some even called Hering “the father of Mothers’ Day.”

Over time the Mothering Sunday tradition shifted into a more secular holiday, and children would present their mothers with flowers and other tokens of appreciation. This custom eventually faded in popularity before merging with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.

  While dates and celebrations vary, Mother’s Day traditionally involves Mother’s Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family or individual, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on different days in many parts of the world, most commonly in the month of May presenting moms with flowers, cards and other gifts.   

In the United States, Mother’s Day 2024 falls on Sunday, May 12.


What Families Can Do To Honor Fallen Veterans
The freedoms people living in the United States are afforded would not have been possible to provide if not for the brave efforts and undying commitment of the many individuals who have served in the nation’s armed forces. American military personnel have played vital roles in securing freedoms for their fellow citizens as well as individuals overseas.

Each year on the final Monday in May, the United States commemorates military personnel who lost their lives while serving in the armed forces. Those individuals made the ultimate sacrifice, and Memorial Day is a way to honor them and thank their families for their selfless acts. This Memorial Day, families can embrace various measures to honor fallen veterans.

• Visit a local veterans cemetery. The United Service Organization (USO) notes that most states have national veterans cemeteries. Though some veterans cemeteries are open only to family members of service personnel, others are open to the general public. Visiting a veterans cemetery is a great way to honor fallen military members and ensure the memory of their service and sacrifice is not forgotten on Memorial Day.

• Celebrate veterans over Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day weekend is now synonymous with getaways and backyard barbecues. By taking time out during the weekend to honor fallen veterans, families can ensure the meaning behind the holiday is not lost in the midst of celebrations with family and friends. Take time out during a family barbecue to discuss a family member who served or, if traveling, make an effort to visit a veterans memorial along your travel route.

• Help raise funds for veterans organizations. Fun runs or community Memorial Day walks may benefit local veterans organizations that help service members in need. Many service members may need help dealing with the deaths of friends or family members who died while serving in the armed forces, and veterans organizations may provide such help or direct funds to groups that do. That makes participation in events that benefit veterans organizations a great way to honor current military personnel and those who have served in the past, including those who died in service of their country.

• Teach youngsters about the role of the armed forces. There’s a lot competing for the attention of today’s young people, and that can make it easy to overlook the very freedoms that make the United States such a unique country throughout world history. Parents and guardians can emphasize the role the armed forces play in procuring and protecting freedoms in the United States and emphasize the significance of the sacrifices of those who gave their lives to ensure a higher quality of life for all U.S. residents.

Memorial Day commemorates military personnel who died while serving in the armed forces. There is much families can do to ensure those sacrifices are never forgotten or taken for granted.


By Steve Sears

Don Casey, soon-to-be 87 years old in June, never played much varsity basketball in his youth, but coaching became and was his forte.

In fact, Casey coached basketball as either an assistant or head coach on the high school, collegiate, and professional level for almost 40 years. 

Casey was the youngest high school coach in the country when Bishop Eustace Preparatory School of Pennsauken Township hired him back in 1959. He would eventually be at the helm for both the San Diego Clippers and New Jersey Nets of the National Basketball Association for a year and a half each in the 1990s.

And the lone son of Larry and Mae Casey, who was born on June 17, 1937 in Collingswood, is in very good health. Casey said, “I work out, not feverishly, and the jogging has turned into long walks with the husky dog for an hour, three times a week. And that keeps you moving, which helps.”

If you desire good health, talk to Don Casey. Yours truly – the writer of this article – who will soon be a 28-year heart attack survivor – was on the fielding end of some very sensible questions. “What is your HDL & LDL?” Casey asked me. I disclosed the numbers, and when I told him the details of my workout program and how sporadic I am with my regimen, he said, “You have to get a regular routine going.”

Ever the coach, ever the caring individual. So much so that, post-coaching, he dedicated himself to health care for many. More to come on this.

Casey, who now lives on the west coast, fondly recalled his Camden County hometown. “Collingswood was a nice competitive town of about 18,000 with its own high school. But I went to Catholic school, and the high school for me was Camden Catholic.”

Casey’s mom was a telephone operator, and his dad a writer. He said, “He worked in the political arena for papers in Camden, and I know he worked hard for Governor (Alfred E.) Driscoll to be a governor, and he worked on the (Dwight) Eisenhower campaign. We lived on a street called Wesley Avenue. It was a dead-end street and with 18 rowhouses on it, and it was a street where everybody knew each other.”

Casey played intramural basketball for the Camden Catholic basketball team in the 1950s, and as senior was invited to try out for the basketball team. He made the varsity squad, but due to the fact he had not played freshman of junior varsity basketball, was primarily a practice player. He said, “The team was okay. It was not as good as Camden Catholic teams in the past, but it was a very good experience in that regard, just being with the team.”

Nearby Temple University was up next for Casey. He attended as a part-time student, and then in 1959 learned through a friend that Bishop Eustace Prep was looking for a junior varsity coach. He accepted the job, but after the varsity coach left, Casey next season had his first head coaching role. 

Casey, age 21 at the time, was the youngest high school coach in the United States, and his Crusaders won state titles in 1961 and 1962. He said, “I had the good fortune to be introduced to Jack McCloskey, who was at Penn, Harry Litwak, who was at Temple, and Jack Ramsay, who was at St. Joe’s. The influence of each one of those three was how I developed the game.” 

Casey in 1966 would eventually become Litwak’s first, full-time assistant coach at Temple, and it would lead to an eight-year head coaching stint. 

During his first season at the helm, the Owls won 16 games, and then finished below .500 in the next two campaigns. The team turned the corner in his final six seasons. During that time, the Owls won 119 games and lost just 48, were three-time Men’s East Coast Conference champions, won one conference tournament title, made an appearance in the 1979 NCAA Tournament, competed in three National Invitation Tournaments, and finished in the Top 20 twice. His overall record as Owls’ head coach was 151 – 94, and he was inducted into the Temple Hall of Fame in 2018.

For Casey, the south Jersey\Philadelphia area was home, but he next ascended the coaching ladder to the National Basketball Association. In 1982, he headed to the National Basketball Association’s Chicago Bulls to be head coach Paul Westhead’s assistant. He was with the Bulls for just one season before moving on to the San Diego Clippers to serve as an assistant again, this time for head coach, Don Chaney. When the club moved to Los Angeles for the 1984–1985 season, Casey went overseas and coached Scavolini Pesaro in Pesaro, Italy. He returned to the United States in 1985 to rejoin Chaney and the Clippers and remained an assistant during legendary head coach Gene Shue’s tenure until 1989. When Shue was fired, Casey took over for a half a season, and then coached a full season in 1989-90.

His next stop was the Boston Celtics, where he served as an assistant to both Chris Ford and M.L. Carr. Casey said, “We had Larry Bird, Keving McHale, and Robert Parrish at their last stages, but they still could play.”

Casey remained with the Celtics until 1996, when he returned to the Garden State and was hired as John Calipari’s assistant with the New Jersey Nets. In his second season with the team, the Nets went to the playoffs but were swept by Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The following year was a lockout year, when the team started 3 – 17, and Calipari was let go. 

Casey recalled, “I was very much involved. Behind the scenes I was a Senior Vice-President of the NBA Coaches Association, representing the assistant coaches.”

Like his Clipper days with Shue, Casey was again thrust into the head coaching seat for half a season in 1999, and for a full ledger during the 1999-2000 season. His Nets went 31 – 51, and Casey was replaced by Byron Scott.

After lowering the curtain on his coaching career, Casey served as Vice-Chairman of the President’s Council for Physical Fitness, serving with Tom McMillan, Jackie Joyner Kersey, and others. And Casey, who lost his mom to Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) in 1969, also has been a strong advocate for 55 years in the fight against the disease.

Casey, who has served on both New York and San Diego ALS Association chapter boards and served as a member of both ALS Association National Board of Directors as a Trustee, said, “It (ALS) hits two groups. It is the only disease associated with being a veteran. If you are a veteran, you are two and half times more likely in your lifetime to get ALS. The second group is football, the NFL. It is a high number of former players that are coming down with it – concussions are a precursor to ALS – and they are under the scope of Boston Brain Institute.”  

Casey is also an author of two books, The Temple of Zones, and (with Ralph Pim) Own the Zone: Executing and Attacking Zone Defenses. Both offerings focus on the effectiveness of zone defense in any level of basketball competition.


Wayne Adult Community Center 

Wayne Adult Community Center is a place to:  Meet new friends, keep your mind and body active, discuss books and events, or become an artist.  We are an all-volunteer, secular, non-profit organization that has been serving New Jersey adults ages 55 and older for over 25 years.  Newcomers are welcome and may participate in any activity at no charge twice before joining.  After that, there is a minimal daily activity fee which includes refreshments.  Membership fee is $25 for one year or $40 for two years.  Our center is open five days weekly and our activities include:  Pinochle, Book club, Lending library, Art Instruction, Canasta, Duplicate & Contract Bridge, Mah Jongg, Walkers group, Discussion group and social gatherings.   Please stop by to meet us.  

We are located at—1502 Hamburg Turnpike, Wayne, NJ 07470 (White House on Schuyler Colfax Campus)  

 You can reach us at 973-633-0734 or www.WACCI.net



My Last Hike On The Appalachian Trail
By Richard Mabey Jr.

In late June of 1996, I hiked the Appalachian Trail for the last time. I did not know it at the time, that it would be my last time hiking this wonderful and magnificent wooded trail. The late Reverend Fred Herwaldt and I took the boys, who had just finished a rigorous one-year term of both religious studies and hard working service to their church in their pursuit to earn the coveted God and Country Award.

My dad, Reverend Herwaldt and myself had led the weekly God and Country Award classes at the First Reformed Church of Lincoln Park. This very special award is a combined effort of Boy Scouts of America and the Reformed Church of America. There is a scouting religious award for just about every faith known to mankind.

The boys earnestly studied and worked hard on service projects for their church. From raking leaves to cleaning windows to repairing the binding on hymnals, the boys learned the practical side of serving their church. But aside from hard work, the boys had completed a rigorous academic study of the Holy Bible. Written tests on Bible knowledge are given to the boys, usually once a month, in the course of the year-long study.

In June of 1996, I was 42. My dad was now 68. Dad was fighting a bout with prostate cancer, so it was not possible for him to hike the Appalachian Trail. Reverend Herwaldt knew that I earned Eagle Scout and had served as an Assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 170 for many years, so he appointed me to be the leader of the pack.

The stretch of the Appalachian Trail, that traverses New Jersey, is 72 miles in length. However, during our one-day hike, we hiked a little over 20 miles. We left the First Reformed Church in Lincoln Park at 6:00, that morning. One of the boy’s father drove us to our starting point near the New York State and New Jersey border.

Along the hike, I had the honor of reviewing with the boys, how to identify the different species of trees. I pointed out natural, edible plants. Along our hike, we saw all so many different birds. I brought my Boy Scout Handbook in my backpack, and used it as a reference, while the boys successfully identified the various species of birds. Squirrels abounded, climbing the oak, the maple and the elm. We stood still and remained quiet as we watched a group of deer walk through the forest. All in all, it was a most wonderful and memorable day.

We all had brought sandwiches that we packed in our backpacks. There is something to be said for eating lunch, sitting upon a big rock, beneath the umbrella of majestic trees. The warmth of the golden sun, gentle breezes, birds singing in the trees, and squirrels seemingly flying from tree limb to limb. I remember, all so very well, that Reverend Herwaldt read a few Palms to the boys. It was a most heart warming moment in time.

As we hiked the wild and wonderful Appalachian Trail of New Jersey, I felt the shadow

of my father. I was just 11 years old, when I first hiked the AT. Now, over 30 years had passed. I was no longer the Tenderfoot Scout, walking beside my father. I was now the responsible leader. Ever watchful for snakes that might plunge upon one of the boys.

It was only a day hike. But I think we all came away from that special day, a little more aware of God’s beauty in nature. And soon the boys would all be honored with the presentation of their hard-earned God and Country medals, at a church service. This was the completion of a special, year-long endeavor the boys had undertaken.

I was immensely proud of the boys, who hiked all those miles in just one day. I think we had finished out hike at about 8:00 that night. We had cooked a group supper along the trail, consisting of beef stew and buttered hard rolls. There was a genuine spirit of good fellowship that prevailed.

I had no idea at the time, that this would be the last time that I would hike the AT. Now, at 70, with a serious heart condition, I am resigned to return to the dear old Appalachian Trail in memory only. If your healthy and in fairly good shape, please do consider hiking the Appalachian Trail. If only to go for a full-day hike. There is an endearing quality to the trail that will move your heart and give you a deeper appreciation of God’s breath-taking creations in nature.      

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He hosts a YouTube Channel titled, “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of poetry and short stories. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com.

Solve Busy Weeknights with Simple, Satisfying Meals

Juggling those weeknight responsibilities including homework, catching up on emails, after-school activities, social events and more can leave families scrambling when it comes time for dinner. When your busy schedule leaves little time to spend in the kitchen, turn to family favorites you can put on the table in 20 minutes or less to give loved ones the fuel they need without sacrificing taste or quality.

Take Taco Tuesdays to a new level (without the hassle) with this deconstructed version of classic fish tacos. Served over a bed of quinoa and drizzled with yogurt crema, these Baja Fish Taco Bowls let you switch up average taco nights by swapping out tortillas and shells for quick-cooking, protein-packed quinoa mixed with nutrient-dense kale. This easy, satisfying meal adds deliciously seasoned fish, creamy avocado and hearty whole grains to your diet with a lighter version of Baja sauce as a perfect companion for fish tacos.

At its core, this tasty weeknight meal relies on the ease and light, nutty flavor of Success Tri-Color Boil-in-Bag Quinoa, which is ready in just 10 minutes. It’s packed with protein, all nine essential amino acids and is a good source of fiber, making it a perfect solution for busy moments whether your loved ones eat vegan, vegetarian or a mix of everything.

If a jam-packed calendar calls for a light dinner, or you’re searching for a quick side to pair with your protein of choice, add a little color to the table with this Edamame Brown Rice and Lentil Salad. Brimming with tasty, colorful ingredients like bell peppers, cucumbers and more, it’s a wholesome and satisfying way to recharge after a long day.

Take the guesswork out of cooking this flavorful salad with 100% whole grain Success Boil-in-Bag Brown Rice, offering high-quality, pre-cooked grains that’s ready in just 10 minutes without measure or mess. It leaves you with a serving of fluffy, nutty brown rice that cooks up perfectly every time to take some stress out of family dinners.

Visit SuccessRice.com to find more recipe solutions for busy weeknights.

 

Baja Fish Taco Bowls 
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

 

2 bags Success Tri-Color Quinoa

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 white-fleshed fish fillets (5-6 ounces each)

1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon lime zest

1 teaspoon lime juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

4 cups packed baby kale

1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and thinly sliced

 

Prepare quinoa according to package directions.

In large skillet over medium heat, heat oil. Season fish with Cajun seasoning and salt. Cook 2-3 minutes per side, or until fish is lightly browned and starts to flake. Set aside.

In small bowl, stir yogurt, lime zest, lime juice and cumin.

In medium bowl, toss quinoa with kale. Divide between four bowls. Top each with fish, sliced avocado and dollop of yogurt and lime crema.

Substitutions: Use taco seasoning or chili powder in place of Cajun seasoning. Use arugula or baby spinach instead of kale.

 

Edamame Brown Rice and Lentil Salad

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

 

1 bag Success Brown Rice

1 cup cooked green or brown lentils

1 cup edamame, cooked, cooled and shelled

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 cucumber, diced

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup roasted almonds and sunflower seeds (optional)

 

Dressing:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

 

Prepare rice according to package directions.

 

In large mixing bowl, combine rice, lentils, edamame, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion and parsley. Toss gently to combine.

To make dressing: In separate small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt and pepper until well combined.

Toss salad with dressing until well combined. Sprinkle with roasted almonds and sunflower seeds, if desired.

 

Source: Success Rice (Family Features)


Make Mom’s Day with a Craveable Brunch
There’s perhaps no better occasion to show off your kitchen skills than Mother’s Day, a perfect opportunity to turn the tables on mom and let her relax while you handle cooking duties. A homemade breakfast – or better yet, letting her sleep in for brunch – is a sure way to win her over and show how much you care.

Show your delicate side by working up a batch of Apple Ricotta Crepes, which require a soft touch to cook the light, silky batter to golden perfection. This rendition of the beloved thin pancakes calls for a ricotta spread and apple-cinnamon topping for a delightful pairing of savory and sweet.

If a full Mother’s Day celebration is on the menu, something a bit heartier may be required. A frittata provides the best of both worlds, as it’s a filling meal that’s also easy to make – just let the oven do the work. This Apple, Tomato and Goat Cheese Frittata is no exception as it calls for a handful of everyday ingredients you can whisk together in a cinch. While it’s in the oven (about 30 minutes, give or take) you can put the finishing touches on your last-minute decorations and handwritten cards.

Special occasions with those you love can be uplifted with the aroma and flavor Envy Apples that offer an invitation to savor small moments around the table. Available at Whole Foods and other major grocery stores, the craveable texture and crunch of this leading apple variety provides balanced sweetness as the ultimate apple experience for Mother’s Day gatherings. Along with their delicious flavor, the flesh remains whiter longer, even after cutting, slicing, dicing or cubing, so that homemade meals look as good as they taste.

Visit EnvyApple.com to find more Mother’s Day brunch inspiration.

 

Apple Ricotta Crepes

Yield: 12 crepes (2-3 crepes per serving)

 

Crepes:

1 cup flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

butter, for cooking

 

Apple Topping:

butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

Envy Apples, sliced or cubed

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

salt, to taste

maple syrup

 

Ricotta Filling:

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 lemon, zest and juice only

2-3 tablespoons sugar, or to taste 

 

To make crepes: In bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt. Add milk, eggs and vanilla then, using whisk, combine thoroughly. Mixture should be silky smooth. Refrigerate.

To make apple topping: In pan over medium heat, heat butter and brown sugar until bubbly and golden.

Add apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, to taste; cook over medium-low heat until apples are soft. Turn off heat and finish with maple syrup.

To make ricotta filling: Combine ricotta, lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar, mix well and set aside.

In nonstick pan over medium-low heat, melt small amount of butter. 

Add one ladle crepe batter, cook until bubbles form, flip and cook until golden. Repeat with remaining batter. Stack crepes to keep warm and soft.

Spread ricotta mixture thinly onto crepes and fold into quarters. Top with apple mixture and serve.

Apple, Tomato and Goat Cheese Frittata

 

6 eggs

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce 

2 teaspoons kosher salt

20 turns fresh cracked pepper

1/4 cup whole milk

1 Envy Apple, small diced

1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives

 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In large mixing bowl, whisk eggs, hot pepper sauce, salt, pepper and milk until well combined.

Stir in apples, tomatoes, goat cheese and chives until well combined.

Using 1/3 measuring cup, spoon frittata mixture into oven-safe large skillet or 9-by-9-inch pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Let cool slightly then serve.

Source: Envy Apples (Family Features)


Celebrate Spring with Brunch Favorites
Few things go together quite like fresh spring air, warm sunshine and a menu made up of delicious brunch bites. Whether you’re hosting a crowd or simply gathering your loved ones around the family table for quality time together, a menu of morning favorites can appease appetites of all kinds.

From sweet to savory and back again, you can turn your mid-morning meal into a full-blown feast with a menu made up of pleasing dishes such as this French Toast Casserole, which can serve as a make-ahead twist on the breakfast classic; customizable Breakfast Burritos that pack a protein punch; and a bite-sized treat like Double Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins for a sweet finishing touch to any brunch occasion.

Find more recipes to inspire your next brunch menu at Culinary.net.

 

Warm Up with a Fresh Casserole

An exciting twist on a breakfast classic, it’s hard to beat this French Toast Casserole when putting together your brunch spread. Crisp on top while soft and moist in the middle, it comes fresh out of the oven with the aroma of maple syrup and pecans that will have the whole house eager for a bite. It’s easy enough to make fresh in the morning but can also be prepared the night before so all you have to do is add the topping and pop it in the oven. 

 

French Toast Casserole 

1 loaf French bread (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes

5 large eggs

1 1/2 cups unsweetened milk

2  tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

maple syrup, for serving

 

Topping:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil, melted

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2  cup chopped pecans

1 cup frozen strawberries

1cup frozen blueberries

confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

 

Grease 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place bread cubes in baking dish. In large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Pour mixture evenly over bread cubes. 

If making casserole ahead, cover baking dish and refrigerate overnight. If baking immediately, let stand 30 minutes at room temperature to allow bread to soak up egg mixture. 

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

To make topping: Drizzle casserole with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and pecans. Top with strawberries and blueberries. 

Cover and bake 35 minutes then uncover and bake 10-20 minutes, or until topping is browned and egg mixture has mostly set. 

Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve with maple syrup.

 

Brunch with a Powerful Punch

When you’re craving something hearty and rich, switch up your brunch habits with wholesome and filling Breakfast Burritos. With protein to keep you full, veggies for a touch of added nutrition and hot sauce to pack a powerful punch of flavor in every bite, this hearty recipe will keep you full and bursting with energy until your next meal. Plus, they’re easy to make in a matter of minutes and totally customizable to accommodate every palate. 

 

Breakfast Burritos

Servings: 4

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 small red onion, diced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

salt, to taste 

pepper, to taste

4 eggs

4 egg whites

1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese

nonstick cooking spray

4 flour tortillas

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup salsa

1 large tomato, seeded and diced

1 avocado, sliced

hot sauce (optional)

 

In large skillet, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add red onion and red bell pepper; cook 8 minutes. Add black beans and red pepper flakes; cook 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to dish.

In medium bowl, whisk eggs and egg whites. Stir in cheese until combined. Heat large skillet over low heat, add egg mixture and scramble 3 minutes, or until cooked through.

Spread sour cream over tortilla. Spread salsa over sour cream. Spoon 1/4 bean mixture over salsa. Spoon 1/4 scrambled eggs over bean mixture. Top with diced tomatoes and avocado. Drizzle with hot sauce, if desired. Roll-up burrito. Repeat three times with remaining ingredients and serve.

Bite-Sized Chocolate Delights

 

Flavorful French toast, filling breakfast burritos and favorite fruits make a feast to look forward to, but no brunch spread is complete without a chocolatey bite to cap off the meal. In fact, make it a double.

These Double Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins offer a combination of two kinds of rich chocolate complemented by the caramel notes of C&H Light Brown Sugar for an irresistible dessert in bite-sized form. Tiny, tasty treats are a perfect way to send guests off with one sweet final bite.

Visit chsugar.com to find more delectable dessert recipes.

 

Double Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

Muffin Batter:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 package (10 ounces) mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 large eggs

1/2 cup C&H Light Brown Sugar, packed

1/2 cup C&H Granulated Sugar 

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon instant espresso (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 tablespoons flaked sea salt (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line mini muffin pan with mini cupcake liners.

In large mixing bowl, use whisk to combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add chocolate chips and stir to ensure chocolate chips are coated in flour mixture.

In separate large mixing bowl, use wire whisk to whisk eggs and sugars until ingredients are combined and sugars are dissolved. Add sour cream, oil and milk. Whisk again to combine. If using espresso powder, add to vanilla then add to wet ingredients. Whisk vanilla espresso mixture into other liquid ingredients.

Pour liquid ingredients on top of dry ingredients. Using rubber spatula, mix until just combined, being careful to not overmix. Batter should be thick and shiny.

Using tablespoon or two spoons, spoon muffin batter into liners. Batter should be filled almost to top of each liner. Top each muffin with flaked sea salt before baking, if desired.

Bake muffins on center rack 6 minutes. Rotate pan and bake 6 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in muffin comes out clean. Once muffins finish baking, place muffin pan on cooling rack to cool completely.

Source: Family Features


7 Smart Home Solutions that Enhance Convenience and Security

Devices that allow you to stay connected to your home from virtually anywhere are all the rage. If you’re looking to seamlessly integrate innovative solutions into your home for added convenience, security and peace of mind, you’ll need smart tech with the right features.

The experts at Masonite, a global industry leader in interior and exterior doors and door systems, share these seven smart home solutions.

Garage Door

Leave behind that nagging feeling that you forgot to shut the garage door when you’re a block away from home. Smart garage door openers that connect to an app on your phone mean you can always check on the status of your door to ensure it’s closed when it should be. It provides the added benefit of keeping track of who’s coming or going while allowing you to remotely open the door for friends, family, neighbors and others who may need access when you’re away.

Front Door

Take your front door to the next level with a high-performance model incorporated with top tech like the Masonite M-Pwr Smart Door, the first residential front door to fully connect to your home’s electrical system and wireless internet network. Homeowners can create a customized welcome-home experience with the door’s motion-activated LED welcome lights and a smart lock that recognizes your arrival and automatically unlocks. Whether at home or away, homeowners can use the door’s smartphone app to program the lighting, confirm if the door is open or closed with a door state sensor or monitor the entryway with a built-in video doorbell.

Plus, the integrated connection to the home’s power means there’s no need to charge or replace device batteries, providing peace of mind that you’re always connected and protected. Available at The Home Depot, homeowners can select from a range of designs, colors and glass styles all made with the Masonite Performance Door System. The system is designed to protect your home from the elements and provide superior weather resistance, energy efficiency and comfort with premium fiberglass construction, a rot-resistant frame and a 4-Point Performance Seal so there’s no need to sacrifice style for enhanced performance.

Mirror

Hectic mornings may never completely be a thing of the past, but you can smooth out the start to your day with a smart mirror that displays important information like weather, news updates and your schedule. Many interactive displays allow you to check notifications and play music for a sleek, stylish addition to the bathroom that helps you stay on track and on time.

Refrigerator

Smart refrigerators are often inherently newer models, meaning they’re typically more energy efficient to save money on electric bills. With built-in features like cameras and sensors that aid in keeping track of grocery lists, they can help reduce food waste by reminding you to consume perishables before they spoil. Some models even include an interactive display that lets you watch recipe videos so you can test your skills with a virtual assistant.

Oven

Wi-Fi connectivity is the key feature of smart ovens, improving the cooking experience with increased control. By using an app on your smartphone, you can remotely preheat the oven and set timers. You can even cook like a pro with models that allow you to import recipes for automatic temperature control.

Dishwasher

Similar to smart appliances like refrigerators and ovens, smart dishwashers bring added convenience to your day along with improved function and efficiency. Connection to Wi-Fi and remote accessibility via smartphone app allow you to start wash cycles and check cycle status while away, receive notifications when detergent is low and more.

Washer and Dryer

If laundry feels like a chore, you can make it less of a hassle with smart washers and dryers that connect to your home Wi-Fi network. These smart appliances allow you to remotely start and stop washing and drying cycles from your smartphone and can send notifications when cycles are finished. Built-in diagnostics send alerts to your phone when there’s a malfunction or it’s time for required maintenance. Plus, they can help you maximize energy efficiency by automatically starting a cycle during off-peak hours.

Visit Masonite.com/MPWR-Smart-Doors to find more innovative solutions.

Source: Masonite Doors (Family Features)


Debunking Common Bathroom Remodeling Misconceptions

Many homeowners put off upgrading essential spaces like the bathroom because they perceive the hassle or expense outweighs the benefit. Common myths surrounding these projects keep many homeowners from even envisioning a beautiful new bathroom, let alone embarking on a remodeling project.

“There’s a lot of misinformation about renovations, especially when it comes to bathrooms,” said Scott McGillivray, HGTV star. “A lot of people think a bathroom renovation means you have to gut the whole thing and start over. That is not true.”

To help sort facts from fiction, consider this information from the experts at Bath Fitter, a leader in custom bath and shower remodels, along with results from their online survey of 1,000 U.S. adults.

 

Myth: A traditional down-to-studs remodel is the “right” way or “only” way to achieve a new bathroom. 

Truth: Tradition and right are not one and the same. There are plenty of innovative ways to achieve a like-new bathroom without the messy demolition, stress and unexpected delays. In fact, according to the survey, 50% of respondents who renovated their bathroom in the past five years agree that a tub-over-tub liner is an affordable solution that eliminates these renovation pain points while providing the same quality and durability of a traditional remodel with long-lasting results.

 

Myth: Tub and shower liners are made from substandard material that results in a low-quality look.

Truth: Constructed from the same premium acrylic found in high-end spas, custom liner products are a high-quality solution that’s just as attractive, exceptionally durable and easy to clean. Consider options from Bath Fitter, which manufactures every acrylic bathtub, shower and wall at its North American facility, ensuring the highest quality standards are met. When installed with a one-piece seamless wall system, these acrylic tubs and showers look new for longer than most traditional remodel options and are backed by a lifetime guarantee.

 

Myth: Tub and shower liners are “coverups,” which can worsen or create problems with mold or water damage.

Truth: Custom-made tubs and showers are installed using a grout-free, watertight system that prevents future mold and water damage. Extensive sanitizing of existing bath areas ensures a clean and strong foundation prior to installation. In fact, 47% of survey respondents who renovated their bathroom in the past five years used a tub-over-tub solution as part of the renovation.

 

Myth: Liners are a temporary fix that won’t last or serve as a long-term replacement.

Truth: While 1 in 4 future renovators believe tub-over-tub solutions are covers and insufficient substitutes for a complete replacement, McGillivray’s renovation experience tells a different story.

Unlike resurfacing or replacing bathtubs or showers, which may only last a few years, Bath Fitter products offer the same look and feel of a new tub or shower but with a lifetime guarantee, installation in as little as 24 hours and less hassle than a full demolition renovation.

“Bath Fitter is a great example of how to reface a bathroom,” McGillivray said. “It gets you the beautiful, finished product you are looking for, but it’s smart because it saves time, money and adds life expectancy back to the space.”

 

Myth: The number of bath and shower style options are limited and won’t fit contemporary bathroom design trends.

Truth: Custom tubs and showers are available with hundreds of design and customization options to suit any space or style and blend in seamlessly with your chosen aesthetic. From Scandinavian to English Country, you can find an expansive portfolio of designs that can be integrated into an existing design or incorporated into an updated look.

Find more ideas and inspiration for your bathroom remodel at bathfitter.com.

 

Benefits of a One-Day Bathroom Remodel

If you’ve lived in your home for a while, it may be time to give your bathroom more than just a facelift. Dated fixtures, peeling paint and chipped tiles are telltale signs that all isn’t well with your bathroom. A beautiful new bathroom may be more accessible than you think. A one-day bath remodel can turn your outdated bathroom into a stylish space you’ll enjoy using every day.

Convenient: A one-day bathroom remodel is perfect if you want to upgrade your bathroom without interrupting your daily life. Since it can be completed in just a few hours, you can skip the inconvenience of having a construction crew in your home or experiencing extended disruptions to your daily routine.

Affordable: Traditional bathroom renovations can take weeks to finish with costs rising by the hour. A one-day bathroom remodel keeps costs down since the installers specialize in completing bathroom remodels quickly and efficiently.

Customizable: You can customize every aspect of your new bathroom, from the fixtures and walls to the accessories and lighting. Experiment with different designs and make your vision a reality using Bath Fitter’s Design Your Own Bath online tool.

Source: Bath Fitter (Family Features)


Exploring Titanic
By Henry M, Holden

The RMS Titanic, a luxury steamship, sank on its maiden voyage, in the early hours of April 15, 1912. It sank off the coast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic after running into an iceberg. Of the 2,240 passengers and crew on board, more than 1,500 lost their lives. The Titanic disaster has inspired many books, news articles and films (including the 1997 Titanic movie starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio). Today, the ship’s story has entered public awareness as a cautionary tale about the perils of human overconfidence.

One person who has had a long and personal attachment to the ill-fated ocean liner is Charles Haas (Charlie) a retired Randolph High School educator of English and journalism.’ One thing Haas did not do was sit around wondering what to do after retirement.

Haas retired from his educator’s job in 2006 and decided to pursue his dream to explore  Titanic twice in 1993 and 1996. 

Charles Haas was born in New York,  and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Rider University in Lawrenceville, N.J , and a Master’s degree from William Paterson University, in Wayne, N.J. He was named Morris County Teacher of the Year in 1990, and listed four times in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers.. 

Haas’ interest in ships was sparked by his grandfather, who worked in the management of a New York stevedoring company. He introduced Charlie to ocean liners through the windows of his office, which overlooked New York Harbor. His grandfather also loaned him a copy of A Night to Remember, thus beginning a lifelong interest in the Titanic.

In high school and college, Haas studied microfilm of newspapers’ coverage of the Titanic disaster. His interests are in the ship’s features, exploration of the wreck, the state of the wreck and artifacts. 

Hass is a co-founder of Titanic International Society (TIS) and a longtime trustee. He served as editor of their journal, Voyage, until the group was founded in 2006, when he became president of TIS. 

A lifetime highlight for Haas was making two dives to the Titanic wreck in 1993 and 1996. Haas narrated the program “Titanic: Untold Stories,” and was a member of the 1998 expedition to the wreck, and contributed to the design of artifact exhibits through 2000. 

He was a featured speaker on the 2012 Titanic Memorial Cruise, and has appeared in numerous television documentaries. With co-author John P. Eaton, he has written five books: Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy, Titanic: Destination Disaster; Titanic, The Exhibition; Titanic: A Journey Through Time; and Falling Star: Misadventures of White Star Line Ships.

When asked what his first thoughts upon reaching the ship  he said, ”My first reaction was the surprise of the immensity of it. It was over two-and-a half football fields.

“Photos of the ship don’t convey the immensity of it,” Haas said.  “We were following the debris field in the submersible until we got to the actual ship. My first impression was oh my God, the size of it.  

As we explored the ship another set of emotions came into play all pulling each other. Remember, we were looking at a ship that had nine decks and was 882 feet from stem to sten. It was a unique reaction or a set of reactions at the same time. There was sadness remembering the passengers who lost their lives.  I treasure that memory even though so many people perished. I also felt tremendous pride that I was the world’s first teacher to go down to the wreck. 

“On the first trip I had a severe case of nerves because I had been told about the pressures on a submersible’s hull. I came very close to saying I did not want to make a dive.

“My writing partner, John Ethan said basically that I was being given an opportunity that not many people had.”

His trepidation must have been obvious to the crew. One of the crew said to me “we want to see our families again too.” So, when the second dive came, I felt much more confident about the whole process because of the strong adherence to checking things and being safe.

“On the second dive, I had a commission from the Discovery Channel to narrate a tour of the Titanic. 

“I took them on a virtual guided tour of the ship relating to them what I know happened. Though it was a very different feeling. I cherish those 

There were artifacts outside the ship that could be removed, and the Navy had a system that could interact with transponders. This interacted with the submersible’s navigation system permitted each artifact to be identified and cataloged its exact location. It recorded latitude, and longitude. A record of where the artifact came from was created. 

On my first trip I was told that the pressure on the submersible would be about 6,000 pounds per square inch. Just me and the two crewmembers were in a 7-foot-wide titanium sphere which was part of the submersible which is about 22 feet long. It wasn’t long before we began feeling water on our feet and head.

“I was immediately alarmed. What was happening?” One of the crew said we had lunch in 85° temperature on a surface but the water down at the Titanic site is only about 28°. As a result, there was water on the top and inside surface of the crew’s sphere, it was kind of like a private drizzle. By the. End of the day, several gallons of water were sloshing around on the floor. What was happening was the water vapor in our breath was condensing.

It was very chilly down there and I had five layers of clothing on so I could deal with the temperature changes. The warm Gulf Stream was mixing with the Newfoundland current. 

“On the way down what struck me was that sunlight only penetrated about 250 feet down and then, for the remainder of the dive, we did it in total darkness. The only way you could tell if you were descending by looking at the digital depth reader. When we finally reached the bottom, the crew turned on all the exterior and interior lights. We had made the trip without lights to save the batteries. I remember hearing that if we got stuck for some reason under the water, the batteries would last for about four days.

Haas can relate information about the icebrg and put it in perspective.

“The iceberg was a medium size one about 70 or 80 feet tall, and had recently turned over so that, instead of it, being a brilliant white color, it was a blueish color because of all the blue light waves water it had absorbed. It was also in an area where there was a slight haze, and that was the result of the Gulfstream and Newfoundland’s current mixing.

When the lookout in the crow’s nest spotted of the iceberg, he called the bridge, and the deck officer ordered a hard over rudder turn and full speed astern turn. The hard over began to turn the ship slowly because of the size of the ship.

After about 37 seconds the ship was beginning to turn to the left when there was a very gentle rumbling on the ship’s starboard side. In the space of about 30 seconds an underwater spur on the iceberg punctured a series of small holes below the water line.  “On the 1996 trip, we were able to look at the starboard side using special U.S. Navy sonar equipment. We discovered.  the holes were not gigantic: They were small, (totaled area about 12 square feet} but there were several dozen of them, small enough so you could not stick your thumb through them. Plus, there were several rivets scraped off. Six watertight sections that were breached by the scraping of the rivets.”

The death toll varied greatly depending on location. The higher death toll for the third-class passengers, was the result of actual physical barriers put in place to separate first- and second-class passengers from the third-class steerage passengers who would have to undergo a customs inspection when they arrived in New York. First and second-class passengers did not need to undergo this inspection, according to the rules of the day.

In addition, there were no lifeboat requirements. There were only 1,178 lifeboat seats available for 2,240 passengers and one seat for each passenger was not required by British law. Witnesses reported that some lifeboats left with empty seats.

The Titanic’s damage was minor in one sense of the word where there were a few small tears that one could not put a thumb through, the tears extended for one-third of the ship and resulted in seawater pouring into the otherwise watertight compartments. 

Communication was also a problem. There were 20 nationalities on board, and there was no public announcement system available.

At the time the number of lifeboats were not mandated and no lifeboat drill for the passengers took place. The crew had one abandon ship exercise. 

When the abandon ship order was given, it was ignored at first then became a disorganized, haphazard and uncontrolled evacuation. The boats on the port side of the ship allowed only women and children to board. On the starboard side men were allowed to board the lifeboats if there were no women waiting for a seat. 

There were only lifeboat seats available for about 1/3 of the passengers, and they were not required by British law.

The majority of dead were crew members and third-class passengers, there were roughly 2,200 passengers but there  were only  712 survivors and approximately 1,500 dead.

 While the trip down took eight hours, in just 2-hours-40 minutes the world’s finest luxury liner was gone forever. Immediately after the tragic sinking the United States and Great Brittian  held hearings to assess blame, The outcome was clear. Regulations regarding mandating enough; passenger seating was enacted, and better communications between ship and shore were established.


 

Do Cats and Dogs Really Fight Like Cats
Cats and dogs have long been depicted as ardent foes, consistently getting into scrapes with one another. But are those claims exaggerated?Many cats and dogs peacefully coexist in their homes, where their divergent personalities combine to make homes more interesting. Cats and dogs tend to have different body language, but that should not be mistaken for opposition.Take, for example, a boisterous puppy that excitedly approaches visitors with its tail wagging to show friendliness. According to the animal experts at slimdoggy.com, a resource for dog food, fitness, and fun; cats interpret wagging tails as signs of anger or displeasure. Dogs like to sniff their “friends” and get to know them, and cats don’t favor this attention. When sniffed, cats may run off, unintentionally triggering dogs’ natural predator instincts.

Such an instance is a rough way for cats and dogs to begin a relationship, and it’s easy to see how such an introduction can lay a poor foundation for their relationship.

Cats and dogs also have different social styles. While a cat may be content to be alone and approach visitors cautiously, dogs tend to be sociable and rush into situations if they think there is fun to be had.

But cats and dogs can peacefully coexist. One way to foster a good relationship between cats and dogs is to control their initial introduction. If possible, separate the animals initially, giving cats a chance to warm up to their new situation. Upon introducing the two, it may be best to have the dog on a leash so that you can control its desire to lunge. Calmness is key; do not force the cat to come to the dog or vice versa. Reward calm behavior with treats and repeat these steps until the pets appear to be used to each other.

It’s important that pet owners recognize that while cats and dogs may peacefully coexist in a home most of the time, their natural instincts may kick in every so often. Just separate the pets if they have a tiff.

Rumors abound that cats and dogs can’t share a home, but that’s simply not true. With some early socialization, patience on the part of pet owners, and an understanding of cat and dog behaviors; pet parents can ensure both cats and dogs live together in harmony. 

Dr. Matthew Krupnick is the owner of the Pequannock Animal Hospital. He grew up in Kinnelon and is happy to be home – with his wife, three cats, and two dogs – to provide quality and compassionate care for pets in the community. The Pequannock Animal Hospital is located at 591 Newark Pompton Turnpike in Pompton Plains. You can reach the hospital by calling 973-616-0400.


Tax Tips to Aid in Retiring Early 
Wouldn’t it be nice to check out of the workforce early and not need to worry about having enough money for retirement? While good financial planning can help you get there, leveraging the tax code as part of your retirement plan is also a good idea. Here are some tax tips that could help you reach your early retirement goal.

• Maximize tax-advantaged retirement accounts. Retirement accounts like traditional IRAs and 401(k)s allow you to save pre-tax money, invest the funds, and not pay taxes until the funds are withdrawn during retirement years. In other words, the IRS allows you to invest their potential tax receipts along with your money and will take its share of your investment earnings at a later date.

• Leverage the catch-up provisions within retirement accounts. Most retirement accounts allow older taxpayers to invest even more money in these retirement savings accounts. Even better, the catch-up contribution amounts are now indexed to inflation so the amount will rise more quickly over time. The key retirement fund limits for 2024 are:

• 401(k), 403(b), 457: $23,000 ($30,500 if 50 or over)

• Traditional/Roth IRAs: $7,000 ($8,000 if 50 or over)

• SIMPLE IRA: $16,000 ($19,500 if 50 or over)

• Consider Tax-Free Retirement Choices. Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s are an interesting alternative to other qualified retirement plans. Within Roth accounts you invest money in your plan with after-tax dollars, but any earnings are tax-free as long as you follow the withdrawal rules. While this lowers your potential initial investment, you create a source of funds that can earn money without being taxed in the future. Even better, both Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s no longer have required minimum distribution rules.

• Roth Rollovers. You may also roll money from most qualified retirement accounts into Roth retirement accounts. When you do this, you must pay the tax on the funds rolled over, but the rollover makes any future earnings within this account tax-free as long as you follow the distribution rules. These funds will then be free from taxes when you retire.

• Consider Health Savings Accounts and their catch-up provisions. Health Savings Accounts allow you to set aside money to pay for qualified health expenses in pre-tax dollars. To be eligible to set up this type of savings account, you must be enrolled in a qualified high deductible medical insurance plan. The good news is that unused funds can be invested and carried forward to future years. Use this money to augment your retirement plan.

• Consider state taxes. Part of your retirement plan is understanding where you wish to live. It is important to note that states are not created equal on this front. 

Many states have no state income taxes, while others like Hawaii and California are in excess of 10%. Some states tax Social Security payments, while others do not. Many states are also trying to take the position that you must pay them state taxes on all retirement plan withdrawals from money earned while you lived in their state, even though you moved years ago! So pay attention to how your chosen state views your retirement income as a source of tax revenue for them.

• Consider additional deductions and benefits. There are also a number of other benefits to be considered as you reach retirement age. These include:

• Additional standard deduction when you reach age 65

• Credit for being elderly/disabled

• Timing of when to begin Social Security benefits

• How your Social Security benefits will be taxed

• Medicare and Medicaid plans

 

Shah & Sokoloff, CPA’s, is a year round full service CPA firm providing a wide range of Accounting and Tax services to both Small Business and Individual Clients. We are QuickBooks Certified Pro Advisors and provide new business set up, training and support. Our office is located at 166 Main St. Lincoln Park, NJ 07035. Our website is www.cpanewjersey.com and email is rps@cpanewjersey.com. To contact us by phone please call 973-633-1001.


Love Floweth, From Heaven to Earth

By Richard Mabey Jr.

In June of 1970, I completed my junior year at Boonton High School. My family belonged to the Trailmates Chapter of the National Camping and Hikers Association. There were about 12 families that belonged to this group of family campers. The Landers family was one of the families who would go camping with all of us.

Penny Landers had just completed her sophomore year of high school. She was very smart, kind hearted and very pretty. During our time of family campouts, Penny and I would play chess together, on a picnic table at a vacant campsite, that we were always able to find, no matter what state park our families were camping at that particular weekend. Penny was an incredibly great chess player.

Inevitably, our conversations during our chess games would focus on books that we had recently read. At the time, I was totally absorbed into Thomas Wolfe’s novels. I was in the midst of reading, Look Homeward, Angel. To my surprise, Penny had already read the book. I think that was a turning point for me. Looking back, the moment that Penny had told me that she had read Look Homeward, Angel, was the very moment that I fell off the Grand Canyon, in love with Penny.

I was a very shy boy. I didn’t have much self confidence. I had a damaged Mitral Valve, so I couldn’t play sports. And in 1970, sports were everything at Boonton High School. I lost myself in poetry, novels and in playing the snare drum in the school marching band. I wanted all so much to ask Penny for a date, but I felt so strongly that I was way out of her league. I would think to myself, “what would a smart, pretty girl like Penny Lancaster, ever see in me?”

Although I never mentioned it to my father, Dad knew that I liked Penny a lot. It was during our annual week-long hike of the Appalachian Trail that Dad talked to me about Penny. It was now July of 1970, we pitched camp somewhere in the forest of Eastern Pennsylvania. Dad and I were alone together, outside of our makeshift tents, cooking stew. And Dad told me, in no uncertain terms, that I had to stop putting myself down. That I had to dig deep within myself and get the courage to ask Penny for a date.

Well, at the next campout of the Trailmates Chapter, I found myself playing chess with Penny. Somehow and someway, I managed to get the courage to ask Penny for a day. My palms were filled with sweat. My heart was beating like a big, old bass drum. I inwardly trembled, after the words came out of my mouth. There was that two second pause from Penny. Then, her response came, quietly, almost shyly, “yea, that’d be nice.”

I was 16, Penny was 15, when we had our first date. Mom drove me to Penny’s house in Paterson. Penny’s father was a bit strict with her. And, rightfully so. It was a Saturday afternoon. We watched a movie in Penny’s living room, sitting together on the couch, while Mr. Lancaster sat in his easy chair.

Then we went out to Penny’s backyard. Penny had this game setup in her yard, it was like horse shoes, they called it Ring Toss. Instead of playing with horse shoes, you would toss this circular rope at the stakes, to try to get the ring onto them. It was a fun time.

Then we ate supper. Mrs. Landers was very kind to me. I can’t say that Mr. Landers made me feel all that welcome. His eldest daughter was coming of age and having a boy over for an official date. I don’t think that settled too well with him.

Penny and I dated for two years, through my senior year at Boonton High and my freshman year at County College of Morris. In September of 1972, Penny left for Rutgers University. We had promised to stay faithful to each other. Sometimes the most earnest of promises get broken. Sadly, we drifted apart.

We stayed friends till Penny’s passing in November of 2012. Sadly, Penny lost her battle with lung cancer. Although all traces of romance had evaporated, a kind of kinship still lived in our hearts for each other. We became adopted cousins to each other.

I would write email letters of encouragement to Penny, during her time of her fight with cancer. She would write me back that she dearly appreciated my kindness.

I know that this may not coincide with the religious beliefs of many people. But since I was diagnosed with Severe Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, I have had many, many visitations from Penny. I’ll be working on a story and I’ll feel Penny’s presence, powerfully strong beside my desk. Almost every night, Penny visits me in dreams, so real and vivid that it seems like it’s all so real and not just a dream. Penny assures me that there is a God and a place we call Heaven.

Can God be limited? Can God be put into a box, of our liking? Is it possible that a dear and cherished friend, residing in Heaven, can become a guiding angel? I know what I experience is powerfully real. Spiritual love, not a romantic love, but a true spiritual love between two people cannot be limited, be boxed in.

Love is the most powerful force in the universe. It is the foundation of miracles. It knows no limitations. Love is the most endearing force known to mankind. Truly, it is the foundation of miracles.

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He hosts a YouTube Channel titled, “Richard Mabey Presents.” Richard most recently published a book of poetry and short stories. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com.

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