Thursday, February 17, 2011

Brunner Bash 2011

"NEWS.”The word itself triggers thoughts of severe weather alerts, crime warnings, terrorism, famine, and war. All issues that seem to have a black-cloud over them and induce the “ugh again?” when you sit wide eyed watching the news or reading the newspaper.

But despite all that “NEWS” there is the one coveted section that escapes the hold of the depressing dark cloud. A section entitled “It wasn’t all bad…” A section that reminds the readers of the world that there is some good going on alongside the “NEWS.”

Some people criticize this section calling it “flowery” or “warm and fuzzy.” Those people may be right, but in the wake of the oh-so depressing breaking news that….

  • Runs across the ticker tape at the bottom of CNN
  • Interrupts our “regularly schedules programs” and
  • Flashes an alert on our cell phone

I think we’re all entitled to a little good news every once in a while.This good news steams from the tenacity of today’s youth. Many people label the youth of America as “Techy’s” and “Gamers.” While this may be true for some, there are still some wholesome go-getters out there. Some kids who aren’t afraid to get out from behind their computer screens and T.V’s to start a revolution… A Dance revolution that is…

On February 11, E.T.Richardson M.S. in Springfield, held its first ever Brunner Bash Dance-A-Thon from 3- 9pm.  The committee of students including; Shannon Flaherty, Taylor Cutcliff, Justin Miller, Alex McCormack, David Eckard, Emma Shields, Lauren Bruinsma, Karma Penater, Evelyn Kampmeyer  and Sarah Reilly worked for six months to put the event together.  Each year, Springfield High School holds an annual Dance-A-Thon, but this is the first time the Middle School has organized one.

Middle School student Lauren Bruinsma initiated the idea for the event when she asked her principal if her school, E.T.R., could host its own Dance-A-Thon in memory of Mr. Glen Brunner.   Brunner was a 4th grade teacher at Sabold Elementary School who tragically passed away from cancer, in May 2010.

Justin Miller, an eighth grade student and member of the Brunner Bash committee explains the inspiration for the event.  “My friends and I were really motivated to take part in the event because of what a great teacher Mr. Brunner was.  He made all his students feel special… and his favorite saying was ‘If you can believe it, then you can achieve it’." So they did.

Throughout the evening, more than 176 students from E.T.R. participated in dancing and various events including dodge-ball and “Minute to Win It.”  The event raised $10,475.57 for the Four Diamonds Fund which benefits childhood cancer.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Food For Thought: This is my story...what's yours?

My Story

I am from noisy dinner tables, comforting warm hugs, overly excited weekend bags packed and heavy sighs of relief upon returning home.
I am from calloused hard working hands and long beautiful words.
I am from footprints in the sand, ladybugs and a bushel and a peck.

I am from burnt bread, Chinese noodle cookies, blueberry pancakes and half eaten broccoli slipped under the table to the dog.
I am from stifling uniforms and fancy jazz shoes.
I am from camp fires, board games, decks of cards and countless wonder years.

The pictures of my life tell a surface story, but the lessons lurk behind the smiles. The scars of wisdom leave imprints on my heart, marks of what lies deeper.
I have danced through days and survived lonely nights.
I have battled heavy legal books and filled empty computer screens with lovely words.

I have been a punching bag, a shoulder to lean on and an ear to bend; just as often as I’ve needed the bag, the shoulder and the ear.
I have been absolutely certain and I have been utterly lost.
I have felt the praise of highest honors and the desperation of not making the cut.

I have lived scary beginnings, confident middles, and bittersweet endings. Peppered with self doubt, over-zealous mistakes, content memories and pure happiness; all imperfectly scattered through my life.

I have neatly fold wisdom, hope, questions, uncertainly and fear into piles, and gingerly packed them into the baggage of my life.

This is where I am from.
This is what I have carried.
This is my story.


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Cupcake Lady Who Makes House Calls!

We call her “The Cupcake Lady” but some call her “The Cake Boss of Delco”. Her name is Maryellen and her business is Cakes and Candies by Maryellen. She is a native of Delaware County, originally from Clifton Heights, and later moved to West Chester in Chester county.

She started a catering business 16years ago, to make some side-money to help pay for college. She graduated college with a degree in occupational therapy and after graduation worked in payroll. She kept her catering company going on the side, but it wasn’t until 4 years ago that she really decided to pursue her passion, one she shares with millions of others—dessert!
 We love to eat it and Maryellen loves to create it.

She started baking at the age of 3 with her Nana, the original baker of her family, and decided to get back to her roots. “My heart was with desserts” she said. She quit her job and focused whole heartedly on creating her cakes and candies company. Maryellen is a master baker and choclatier. She has been practicing her craft for over 11 years, making countless goodies that have put smiles on hundreds of satisfied customer’s faces. She was recently featured in the Da Vinci Society of Delaware’s Vendemmia food and wine showcase/tasting.

I call her the cupcake lady because 3 years ago she started making bite-size cupcakes. “I wanted to incorporate different flavors, fillers and icing, and petite cupcakes seemed like a good way to do it.” She has flavors like Banana Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Coconut, Pumpkin Spice and Pink Champagne.

So you’re thinking…with all of these combinations, how could anyone choose? Well, the only way to know what you like is to taste it. Cakes and Candies by Maryellen does not have a store front, but uses a warehouse cooking location in West Chester. So in order for customers to try out her cakes…she makes house calls.

 That’s right, you read that correctly! A cupcake lady who makes house calls—like a fairy bringing sweet dessert goodness door-to-door.

 Just call her and make an appointment at 610-986-3802 and she brings to your home, 10 kinds of cake, with more than 12 different icings and fillers for you to try. Vanilla pound cake with Key Lime Pie Filling, Red Velvet cake with Chocolate Icing, Lemon Cake with Raspberry Filling…any combination you can imagine she can accommodate. The best part is while you’re tasting, she is keeping record of which combos got the most “Mmmmm’s” and “Yum’s” to help you decide on what you want for your special occasion.

 Oh and remember if you can’t decide, you can pick all of your favorites by choosing a variety of flavors in the petite cupcakes. (Now you see why it’s such a great idea?) Plus she doesn’t just specialize in cakes, you can also order Italian pastries, chocolates, fruits and candies. To book your tasting and make an order....


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

DELCO gets involved in National Take Back Day

The common adage used to be that marijuana was the “gateway drug” but times sure have changed. Statistics, provided by the DEA, explain that every day, on average 2,500 teens use prescription drugs to get high for the first time. Studies conducted by the DEA in a National Survey on Drug Use and Health, shows that in 2009 alone, 400,000 more people recreationally used pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants and sedatives for the first time rather than marijuana.

One of the biggest problems with prescription drugs is that people do not view them as harmful as “street drugs.” Yet, according to the Center for Disease Control prescription drugs—opioids and antidepressants, are responsible for more overdose deaths than “street drugs” such as, cocaine and heroine, are.

So how do we begin to remedy this problem? How do community members ensure that their medicine cabinets are not unintentionally dealing drugs? Participate in National Take Back Day.

This Saturday, September 25, from 10am to 2pm the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will host the first-ever nationwide prescription drug take-back day. Glenolden Borough Hall, along with Aldan, Springfield, Brookhaven, Upper Darby, Upper Chichester, Media, Upland, Eddystone, Ridley Park, Tinicum, Devon, Wayne and Sharon Hill are among the 14 locations countywide that will serve as a drop box locations participating in this event. At the end of the day, the DEA will transport all prescription drugs to Media, the county seat for proper disposal.

The DEA encourages citizens to properly dispose of these medications at the drop boxes. Flushing the prescription down the toilet is not a method of proper disposal. Recent Studies by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have detected pharmaceutical drugs varying in concentration in the water supply. To ensure that water stays pure and people are not abusing these prescriptions the take-back program is the best way to dispose of old drugs.

Recent studies show the majority of abused prescriptions drugs are obtained from family and friends medicine cabinets and the hope of this campaign is to eliminate that factor. This program hopes to make communities safer and lives healthier by preventing increased pill abuse and theft. Residents and community members are encouraged to bring all unused prescriptions, including those that are old and expired, to these sites for destruction. The service is free and anonymous with no questions asked.

To find a drop location nearest you, go to and type in your zip code.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dining Under the Stars

Ahhhhhh sweet summertime. In between all the weekend fun of BBQ’s, trips to the beach and pool parties, there is that annoying thing we call THE WORK WEEK!

I admit that most of the summer, I too am wishing away Monday morning through Friday afternoon…but here is something that may make the week a little more bearable.

Every Wednesday night in Media, May through September, from 5PM-10PM State Street is closed off and the restaurants take over. Its called "Dining Under The Stars" The resturants on State Street open up their doors and spill tables out onto the street, transforming their restaurant into European style, open-air eateries. 

I wasn’t aware of this phenomenon until I was stuck in traffic trying to cut through Media on my way home. To my chagrin, I found the main street in town (State Street) was closed off. Once I got over my quick feeling of road rage, I was able to appreciate the unique dining experience that Media offers.

I pulled over and walked along the closed street. The sun was setting and the temperature was finally cooling off. I noticed a guy playing an acoustic guitar to some "John Mayer-esk" tune and I couldn’t help but relax. To be honest, I felt like I was walking along the streets of Rome. I was happy to discover that the shops on State Street were also open later too, so I ducked into a store and did some retail therapy (which quickly cured any remaining feelings of angst that the traffic caused).

In short…“Dining Under the Stars” is a wonderful change to a typically bland mid-week night. So, if you’re looking for a euro-dining experience, just head over to Media to distress, enjoy the warm weather and dine under the stars.

Participating Restaurants include:
  • Azie Global
  • Stephen's On State
  • La Belle Époque
  • Picasso
  • Iron Hill Brewey and Restaurant
  • Fellini Café
  • Margaret Kuo's
  • Sligo
  • Benjamin's Family Market
  • Lotus: A Salad and Tea House
  • Sheerei-Punjab Indian Cuisine
  • Sweet Potato Café & Bakery
  • Little Anthony's
  • La Na Thai
  • Plumstead Inn
  • Koffee Korner
You’ll find me at Margaret Kuo's in my opinon, the BEST sushi around!


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Inside Out

Here is some food for thought about a topic we all try to avoid, but as the Daily Times Newspaper pointed out, is a topic that we cannot escape. "The Heroin Epidemic." 

Drug abuse, pill popping and now heroin-- is and has been running rampant through Delco. When I read the cover story in the paper yesterday it had me reflect on my own experience watching a friend, become destroyed by drugs. If anything, this article, this epidemic, is speaking to our 20something generation. We have to stop thinking that "partying" "doing pills" or "getting high" is cool, normal, or socially acceptable.

I am taking a class this summer for my Master’s Degree called “Writing the Unspeakable” and so the Daily Times Article inspired me to write this piece...

Inside Out

I haven’t decided what’s worse? Knowing he was lying dead in a coffin somewhere or knowing he was "dead", killing himeself each day, but still dragging himself through life?

The latter had to be worse. At least when you’re dead… really stiff as a board, eyes stuck open, mind off, dead, then there isn’t any hope left. You’re gone. You have to accept it and everyone left behind has to accept it as well. There is no more space in time for “what if’s” no more “maybe’s” no more prayers or wishes or hopes. They too have all settled into what we affectionately call closure.

We can allow ourselves to grieve and eventually to forget. We allow our minds to manipulate the memories—we forget the tragic, the dark, the heart wrenching parts and we let the happier, “before” memories take over. Eventually we allow ourselves to let go of the hurt, disappointment and loss. We “let go” because we want to, and because they are dead, so we have to.

So don’t get me wrong, I am not wishing death on him. God No! It’s nothing like that. It’s just that for me—the bystander, the friend, the outsider; I had no control. I have just had the displeasure of watching the beautiful person I once knew fade away into the dark depths of drugs. I could only watch as he got worse, and kept using. For me, it was like standing by a pool, watching someone you love drowning and not being able to reach in and pull them out. That’s how I felt at least. That’s why I think that maybe death would have been easier.

With death there is a definitive end.

So, maybe if he were laying in a casket instead of walking down the street I would have had to let go much sooner. Maybe then I would have been able to disregard the “what if’s” the “maybe’s” the prayers, wishes and hopes that lurked in my mind.

But he’s not dead, not then and not now. Somehow he “survived” all that drug use. His body survived at least, so he’s not physically dead. There is no coffin, no funeral, no eulogy—and no closure. See the catch 22?

He, as I remembered him, was forever changed by the drugs. The liquid poison raced through his veins and erased him. The person I loved, I knew, I grew up with…he was gone. His body was still there, reminding me of who he once was, but he was gone from the inside out. That’s the hardest part. Helplessly watching a loved one turn into a drug addict is one instance when it feels okay to think that death may have been easier than life.

Watching someone die inside out made it all feel so backwards.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

PA Nails- Average Prices & ABOVE Average Experience

The snow is a distant memory and Summer is just around the corner. So for us 20something’s this means flip-flops, open toed shoes and inevitably pedicures. The downfall of this is having to frequent a grimy, sub-par nail salon. You know the ones I’m talking about…. 

You sit on folding chair while in the waiting area. In the back of the joint, people are getting their eyebrows waxed in open forum in a corner without any privacy. The paint is peeling on the walls and the TV displays a fuzzy picture. You decide to pick your color while you wait, but notice names like Revlon and Maybelline. Hmmm… you wanted to use a grade-A salon quality, like OPI or China Glaze (I mean you’re paying right?) So, you reach for a polish, in what looks like a professional looking bottle, only to find it’s old, clumping and multi-colored. Even the strongest shake of that bottle won’t blend that polish around. At this point they have called your name, so you grab a color that doesn’t look too old (you hope). You sit in a dusty chair, looking down at dirty tools and mismatched equipment. Hey its only $15 for a manicure, you think. What’s worse is when you sit down and they bring a bucket with water (which is supposed to be a pedicure) or they have a chair you think will be a spa chair and you discover it doesn’t work.
This kind of experience makes you want to save your money and do your nails at home!


Do not deprive yourself of the relaxing experience. Treat yourself and go to a salon where you can get your monies worth. With the wide-variety of nail salon’s that saturate the Delco Area, (many of which evoke the terrible experience I’ve described above) I decided to let everyone in on my favorite place. One that is NOTHING like those other grimy places. It’s called PA Nails in Aston.

It is clean, professional, trendy and provides a rejuvenating experience. The owners play relaxing music throughout the salon and have the best spa pedicure chairs in the area. PA Nails is located in The Dutton Mill Shopping Center (right off of Pennell Road/ Route 452). It is a far cry from the run-of-the-mill nail salons that come and go with the passing months. Rather PA Nails has been in business for years. I was getting my nails done for Prom’s here.

Even better, in the past year they have revamped the entire salon. You sit in the tiled waiting area on plush leather couches. You chose your color from top products like Esse, OPI and China Glaze nail polish. If you want to have your eyebrows done, you go into one of the two private rooms in the back. You lie on a professional lounge-type chair, close your eyes and enjoy the classical music. The staff is nice and professional. The environment is chic and pristine.

The best part…. the prices!!! Hot Oil Manicures $12. Pedicures $25, Full Sets $25 and Refills $15. Standard prices for ABOVE standard service. Trust me, no matter what service you chose, you won’t be disappointed.

In addition to nails, waxing and pedicures, PA Nails is now offering a new addition to their pedicure services. If you want to really treat your tootsies spend $38 and get a Deluxe Spa Pedicure. This includes; Royal Petal Bath, Lavender Sea Salt Soak, Exfoliation Honey Sea Salt Soak, Peppermint Foot & Leg Mask, Hot Towel Wrap, Extended Massage with Lavender Oil and a Hydrating Cucumber Heel Therapy.

So, don’t let those other places break your spirit…keep treating yourself and get the services you deserve. To make an appointment at PA Nails call (610) 485-2670. I’ll see you there!


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