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I know with the gorgeous weather we are having here in Buffalo,NY it is hard to believe Fall is upon us. But the stadium is full of Bills fans again and school is back in session- so I know it is here. And with it comes my favorite- the changing of the leaves. It is like nature puts on one final show for us every year before resting up for next year. The colors and flavors of fall are the best. Of course New York State apples are the best in the world. With that comes amazing cider and apple pies. (Please don’t hate me for my next sentence) While I am not a pumpkin fan myself, it seems everyone goes crazy for it this season. Pumpkin flavors, colors and decorations are everywhere. I am heading to our local Apple Umpkin Festival down in Wyoming county this weekend. I am excited to taste and see all the great local apple products there.

I found all sorts of fun new drink recipes on Pinterest today that I cannot wait to try. From caramel to hot chocolate- there will be a lot of experimenting this season! I also saw a cute idea for serving cupcakes in cups with spoons tied to them with string. How cute would that be for a Fall wedding? There are so many fun Fall crafts and activities to keep me and my children happy and busy this season. Please share any you make here with me- I love being inspired!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Fall and gets outside to enjoy this beautiful season we are blessed with!


Campfires. I have always loved them. My earliest memories of them are at Chaumont,NY. My grandparents had a cottage there when I was growing up. Grandpa had built the cottage and the firepit. The firepit was made of flat beach rocks he had piled up into a half circle to protect the fire from wind off the bay. It was right on the edge of the beach, where the grass ended and the rocky shore started. We had a campfire every night. Grandpa would spend hours sitting at it, just staring at it. I asked him once what he thought about and he smiled and said “not much…” It was fun to watch the fire, find faces and shapes in it, watch it dance. It was mesmerizing. My favorite childhood memories involve listening to the waves lap the shore while sitting at the campfire with grandpa. The smell of the smoke, the heat on our faces… If we were good grandpa would let my sister and I build little mini campfires along the outside edge of the big campfire. We would gather small flat rocks from the beach and build little firepits, then use twigs to make our own fires. Often our cousins were there at the cottage with us and of course we would toast marshmallows and make s’mores. They almost always had ash in them from the fire, giving them a smokey taste. We would all sit around laughing and talking and toasting marshmallows. But my favorite memories are still of sitting quietly with grandpa watching the fire dance for us.
When I met my husband he came with a campsite (bonus!). For the past twenty some years it has become a second home to me. The campfires there are always fun. Sometimes just with just us and our children, but more often with friends and neighbors. Learning to build a campfire was one of the first things my son most wanted to do when he was young. Now he builds most of them. Sleeping in his hammock in the woods nearby. Our friends all gather, sometimes to sit quietly and relax and exchange stories about our lives. Sometimes one of the kids breaks out their ukulele and they all start singing. Or acting out skits they learned at summer camp. Mostly we laugh. The campfire is a place to gather and unwind and relax with friends and family. I wonder if grandpa was remembering back to some of his campfires as a youth with his friends and family, doing the same things I am with mine. It really hasn’t changed much. Luckily.
Many mornings following campfires we still have hot coals. So my son throws some bacon over the fire. That brings out the neighbors. They arrive carrying eggs, bread, fruit, etc. and we feast. Sometimes our campfire breakfast lasts until noon. We all sit with our coffee and plan our day. Days spent doing our separate things. Swimming, boating, hiking, relaxing, etc. But we all wind up back together that night gathered around a campfire.
Campfires to me represent family, friends and all that is good and basic and pure. They have been there for me since I was a child, since my grandparents were children and back for generations. Campfires are for relaxing and connecting and making memories. Just the smell of one takes me back to those lazy summer nights in Chaumont with grandpa watching the fire and not thinking about much at all- just feeling the moment and loving every second of it.

I found this on my travels through the internet today and thought I would share it:

A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, “Tell me what you see.”

“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

The daughter then asked, “What does it mean, mother?”

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water , they had changed the water.

“Which are you?” she asked her daughter. “When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

*anonymous author

I know you think I am biased, but before buying another disposable water bottle, just hear me out. A reusable water bottle is better for the Earth, saves you money and is better for your overall health.

Reusable Saves You Money

Did you know that Americans spend about as much money on disposable plastic water bottles each year as they do on engagement rings? $11 billion dollars. That is a lot of money being thrown away. An estimated 25 percent or more of bottled water is really regular tap water, sometimes purified, sometimes not. So you are really buying your own tap water. I just read the label on our local Tops brand water- it says right on it that it comes from our Erie county water supply. In the United States, 24 percent of bottled water sold is either Pepsi’s Aquafina (13 percent of the market) or Coke’s Dasani (11 percent of the market). Both brands are bottled, purified municipal water. Put a filter on your faucet and it is exactly the same thing.  But free.

Sipping from a reusable bottle could save a whopping $550.00 a year (one disposable plastic water bottle daily at its average cost) compared to a one-time $10-$25 investment. One water pitcher filter can effectively replace as much as 300 standard 16.9-ounce bottles. So you can get great-tasting water without so much waste. Talk about refreshing. The average water pitcher filters 240 gallons of water a year for about 19 cents a day. Put in perspective, to get the same amount of water from bottled water would require 1,818 16.9-ounce water bottles a year – at an average cost of a dollar a bottle, that’s $4.98 a day. For about $10 each, you can purchase a reusable bottle, saving you hundreds of dollars a year on bottled water.The recommended eight glasses of water a day, at U.S. tap rates equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.

Falcon 25oz tritan water bottle. Customize logo


If you think it is safer to drink from disposable water bottles still, maybe because you think that they are filtered more, think again. In the U.S., public water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires multiple daily tests for bacteria and makes results available to the public. The Food and Drug Administration, which regulates bottled water, only requires weekly testing and does not share its findings with the EPA or the public. Even under the more lax standards of the FDA, bottled water companies do not always comply with standardized contaminant levels. Alarmingly, the 1999 NRDC study found that 18 of the 103 bottled water brands tested contained, in at least one sample, “more bacteria than allowed under microbiological-purity guidelines.” Also, about one fifth of the brands tested positive for the presence of synthetic chemicals, such as industrial chemicals and chemicals used in manufacturing plastic like phthalate, a harmful chemical that leaches into bottled water from its plastic container. Bottled water companies, because they are not under the same accountability standards as municipal water systems, may provide a significantly lower quality of water than the water one typically receives from the tap.  Tap water in this country, with rare exceptions, is impressively safe. It is monitored constantly, and the test results made public. You can control your home filter yourself. Replace it as recommended and it will do as good if not better than you are buying in disposable containers.

Recycling vs Reuse

We pitch into landfills 38 billion water bottles a year (in excess of $1 billion worth of plastic). They should get recycled, but many people choose to throw them away instead. Americans went through about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, which means each person in America used about 167 of them, but only recycled 38 of them. Durable, lightweight containers are manufactured just to be discarded. Disposable water bottles are made of totally recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) so they can be 100% recycled yet our recycling rate for PET is only 23%.  Clearly this is a problem.

And if you are reusing your disposable water bottle instead of recycling it, eww. They are not meant for that. They are disposable. The mouths are not wide enough for you to clean properly. Harmful bacteria can accumulate inside as well as on the rim.

“In a 2002 study… researchers from the University of Calgary took 76 samples of water from water bottles of elementary school students; some of the bottles were reused for months on end without being washed.

They found that nearly two-thirds of the samples had bacterial levels that exceeded that of drinking water guidelines, which may have been the result of ‘the effect of bacterial regrowth in bottles that have remained at room temperature for an extended period,’ researchers wrote in the study…

“[T]he most likely source of enteric bacteria found in the students’ water bottles is the hands of the students themselves… Inadequate and improper hand washing after students have used the bathroom facilities could result in fecal coli forms in the classroom area.”

As soon as you drink from your water bottle, it is contaminated.  You need to be able to clean it correctly. Our care and use instructions will help you keep your reusable bottles clean and healthy.

Tritan properties definition

Energy Savings

Reusable water bottles save fossil fuels. If you fill one disposable plastic bottle a quarter of the way up with oil, it’s the amount needed to make it. A family of four switching to reusable bottles would save 27 gallons of oil a year. Making bottles to meet America’s demand for bottled water uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually, enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year. And that’s not even including the oil used for transportation. Just one person switching to a reusable water bottle keeps 2,580 balloons of CO2 out of the air per year.  By switching to reusable, you’ll feel better about your commitment to the Earth. The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes.

Reusable is Prettier

Reusable water bottles just plain look better. You can give them as gifts or incentives. Put your logo on them for product promotions. Hand them out at marathons and trade shows. Almost every gift shop, bookstore and souvenir shop in the world has reusable water bottles for sale. You should be carrying your water bottle with you wherever you go. Shouldn’t it be used to promote your brand? Get your logo out in the hands of all your customers. They will want to reuse your water bottle when it looks good. And can keep them healthier.

sparrow with logo


Macy’s McKinley

One Christmas season back a few years I took a job part time seasonally at Kaufmanns at the McKinley Mall in Blasdell,NY. Within a few months I was hooked and loving my job. I cannot say enough nice things about the team at McKinley. From my first days as a trainee at McKinley to my last days as Office Manager at Macy’s there everyone was fantastic. My co-workers were family. And so were our customers. We had many who would just stop in to say hi. Or show off their grandchildren. Or pictures of events they had gone to. We knew our customers not just by name also their spouses, kids, best friends and cousins. I think that is something that Macy’s forgot when they took us over and tried to force McKinley into the square peg that wasn’t us.

Macy's McKinley

At Macy’s McKinley, the people always came first. Always the relationship was more important than the sale. When I became Office Manager (or whatever the title was then) I was in charge of the CRL system. I received all the postcards customers filled out to give feedback as well as the online feedback. I loved it. I remember one Christmas at my sisters three hours away logging into the system to respond to customers. Good or bad, complaint or complement, I contacted them all. I loved sharing the good stories with whichever associate helped that customer and I really loved being able to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one. Usually they just wanted someone to listen. We were ALWAYS one of the top ranked stores in the country for customer service. The managers, associates, dock associates, visual associates, housekeeping, everyone there has a story to share about how they made someone’s day better. And a lot of the time a customer or two brightened our days also.

Macy's McKinley

It was sad to see Macy’s McKinley close. I am sure it was even harder for a lot of our customers who relied on us for friendship as well as service. I think with this digital world we live in we are losing that personal touch that we had once. I hope I bring the lessons I learned from my co-workers/friends at Macy’s McKinley on how to connect with customers to our business. To listen to our customers, find out what brings them to us and help them find what they need. And hopefully leave with a smile and a promise to come back.