A Post-It Memorial

A neighborhood shop owner died a couple of weeks ago. But she was no ordinary shop owner: she had owned Irving’s Toy and Card Shop for 76 years. Ethel Weiss was minding the store up until the very end of her 101-year-long life.

Although I’ve walked past her shop every day for the past six years, I’ve only stopped in a handful of times, to buy stickers. Walking into her shop was like walking into a time warp. Her sticker collection was circa 1980, which is why I loved it. All of the cards were in plastic sleeves and were probably decades old. The biggest seller was the candy she sold in the front of the store.

Whenever I happened to walk by her shop on a weekend afternoon, Ethel would be sitting in a chair in the front of the store, patiently waiting for the next customer to enter. She was a constant in the neighborhood.

A day or so after she died, someone put Post-It notes and pens on the ledge next to her shop. And people started leaving notes.

It was so touching to see the memorial grow.

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It rained the other day and someone took down all of the Post-Its. After the rain cleared, more Post-Its appeared. People are still thanking her and honoring her, weeks after her passing.

Seventy-six years in business. Generations of the same families knew Ethel. How many hundreds of thousands of people popped into her shop over the years?

I’ve thought about how lucky this neighborhood has been to have a neighborhood toy shop. Ethel loved children and would encourage them to practice arithmetic by having them count out their change. She also imparted her wisdom in poster form, selling a poster she created with the title “Thoughts for a Happier Life.”

Ethel is a legend and will be missed by many. If we all touch a minuscule fraction of the lives that Ethel has touched, we should consider ourselves lucky.

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Saturday and Tuesday

Thanksgiving is nigh! I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy taking time to ponder what you’re grateful for and enjoy spending time with family and friends.

If you participate in the events on Friday and Monday (that shall not be named), best of luck to you. I hope you will also participate in Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday:

On Saturday, visit your favorite small business to buy some one-of-a-kind gifts.

On Tuesday, donate to your favorite charity. Why not make a donation in a family member/friend’s name and give that as a gift this season? I’m adopting a wild animal and buying a share of an animal for my family this year. Or you can pledge to donate some time this season. Visit Volunteer Match to find opportunities near you.

Listen to these smart people:

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” Mother Teresa

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” Winston Churchill

“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

“For it is in giving that we receive.” Francis of Assisi

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Chocolate and Stamps

So, #33 and #34 on the birthday list.

Some friends and I went to the Chocolate Bar at the Langham Hotel a couple of weeks ago.

Chocolate Bar at the Langham

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve kept my eye on it for years, feeling unsure about spending $30, $35 on eating a bunch of chocolate. The price is now up to $42, so I decided that this would be the year I tried it.

After we sat down, we noted that it felt like we were on vacation because (a) we were being totally indulgent by eating a boatload of desserts and (b) we were sitting in a hotel restaurant in an area of town that we usually don’t visit.

The serving sizes of the desserts were not very big, but everything was RICH, so we filled up faster than I expected. I tried: white chocolate cheesecake, a bacon banana tart, chocolate-dipped fruit, various chocolate mousses, S’mores, chocolate honey madeleines, a dark chocolate Rice Krispy treat…just to name a few.

 

Chocolate Bar at the Langham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Bar at the Langham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some kind of genius decided it would be a good idea to offer salty items to offset all of the sweetness. We took much-needed “salt breaks” and ate chips and popcorn.

I walked into the Langham thinking that this would be a “once-in-a-lifetime” outing. But I can actually see myself returning someday…

After parting ways with my comrades, I met up with another comrade to visit the Spellman Museum of Stamps and Postal History. One of two philatelic museums in the United States, it is located on a small college campus in what seems to be a former elementary school building.

Spellman Museum of Stamps

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a thing for stamps, which probably stems from a longtime love of receiving and sending mail. I also consider stamps to be tiny pieces of artwork.

We had the museum to ourselves, which was fun. Exhibits we saw included: one about sending mail during the World Wars, one about mail being delivered by Zeppelins (news to me), and a collection of stamps featuring the American space program. Also on display were portions of the stamp collections of Theodore Steinway (of the piano family) and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Spellman Museum of Stamps

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really enjoyed viewing a collection of small antique metal and leather stamp cases. The museum was closing as we were strolling around the shop, so we feverishly looked through baskets of stamps for sale. I bought a few sheets of stamps featuring the Queen Mum and Queen Elizabeth.

I may have caught the philatelic bug…

Earth Hour and Earring Jackets

Earth Hour is at 8:30 pm (local time) tonight! The World Wildlife Fund has sponsored this global initiative since 2008. Hundreds of towns and cities in hundreds of countries participate to bring awareness to the issue of climate change.

If you haven’t participated before, it’s easy! Just turn off your lights for an hour tonight. I try to act in an environmentally friendly way daily, but this annual event serves as a time for me to unplug and be grateful to live in a first-world country, where I can access electricity 24 hours a day.  I also take the time to think about how I can reduce my carbon footprint.

So that’s that.

Earring jackets! I didn’t know of their existence until a week or two ago. I like to find ways to change my appearance during birthday list time. I still mourn the fact that my ear rejected cartilage piercing years ago. I kept it in for almost two years and it never fully healed.

So I got the idea to buy a cute ear cuff this year. Off to Etsy I went and I stumbled across earring jackets. What could be cuter than a jacket for your earring??

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These earrings are a little too big for my ears, but you get the idea. I’ll probably buy some ear cuffs too, but I am more excited about the jackets. Had anyone else heard of earring jackets before?

 

Time for Dessert

I tried Indian pudding the other day. It’s a dessert native to New England, so it was fitting that I tried it at Durgin-Park, one of the city’s oldest restaurants.

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Indian pudding with vanilla ice cream on top

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I loved this dessert because (A) I love molasses. Note that one needs to feel strong affection for molasses in order to enjoy this dessert. (B) It has the consistency of CoCo Wheats!!

My family ate CoCo Wheats for breakfast throughout my childhood. It’s basically chocolate grits and it’s so good.

I relived my childhood again thanks to another dessert, which I baked from scratch today.

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Behold the Chinese marble cookie. I probably ate one of these per week for at least a few years during my youth. Wegmans, our grocery store, had a “cookie club” for kids: a free cookie to enjoy while following your parents down aisle after aisle. There is still a cookie club today, but chocolate chip is the only type available.

Eventually I aged out of the program and the Chinese marble cookie disappeared from the bakery. But I never truly forgot about this cookie. I’ve thought about it off and on over the years. Something finally stuck this year and I searched for a recipe. I found this one (thanks, Monster Sweet Tooth) and made it today.

I guess I love this cookie because of the nostalgia tied to it. The two sticks of butter I used probably has something to do with it too. The flavor is not strong; there’s a little vanilla extract, almond extract, and unsweetened chocolate.

I will never be without these cookies again. What a comforting thought.