St. Petersburg Garden

St. Petersburg Garden

Monday, January 31, 2011

Angels at my door...with Cookies!

Yes, I love me a cookie. I know many of you may not believe this but it's true. Cookies, chocolate, cupcakes - these are the staples of a good diet that I can not live without. These are all necessary and healthy of course. Chocolate, well everyone knows that this has benefits to good heart health. Lemons, yes, the citrus I'm sure aids in digestion and in burning fat. Don't you eat grapefruit on diets?

Well, lemon is almost a grapefruit. They are in the same family. That counts. Mint, when combined with chocolate is a double health whammy. You can feel the goodness working overtime. And of course everyone, and I mean everyone, knows how fantastic coconut is for you. Just look at the amazing benefits you get from drinking coconut water. It's packed, I mean PACKED, with electrolytes. So, it was armed with this knowledge that I wondered, hhhmm, where can I find such deliciousness? It was at this moment that the Heavens heard my call. A miracle you ask? Perhaps. I like to call them.......Girl Scout Cookies. That's right. It's Girl Scout Cookie Time!

Oh sweet lovin' they are back. Just when I didn't know what do to for dessert my call was answered. Thin mints, Samoas, Chalet Cremes, Do-Si-Dos, Tagalongs, yes the whole gang is back. We have our favorites. Thin Mints and Samoas are already lining the cabinets with a little Chalet Creme thrown in for good luck. A few boxes are in the freezer for safe keeping.

You have to ration those bad boys or cookie coma can set in. I know. I've learned from the past. Oh but let's get back to that Thin Mint. I know there is already a pre-made peanut butter cookie in the Tagalong but it just never did it for me. I had to invent my own concoction with the Thin Mint and Jiff. It's a match made it heaven. No cheap little dollop of peanut butter on that cookie will do. It's a perfect little sandwich - and remember, peanut butter is protein which means that this is also good for you.

A favorite of mine has always been the Samoa. Back in my Girl Scout days when I was cranking out those boxes to make sure I was top seller (I'm sure you're surprised to hear I was competitive back then), I always had to have the Samoa.

This cookie doesn't need anything added to it. It's like a Twix bar only better. Much, much better. It's got cookie crunch, caramel, chocolate & coconut. Seriously, it really doesn't get better than this in the cookie world. Those Girl Scouts hit perfection when they made this little golden nugget. I don't even have to add peanut butter to this and I am addicted to peanut butter.

Moving on to lighter fare. The Chalet Creme, a.k.a. the lemon cookie. Now, these may not have been around as long as their more famous "face of Girl Scout Cookies" cookies, but they sure can hold their own. When I'm in the mood for something light and refreshing I turn to the old lemon creme. It's a great spring and summer cookie. You can eat these without getting your fingers messy. Plus, sometimes, all you want is a nice little sandwich cookie to twist open and lick off the creme center without it being a black and white cookie. You know what I'm talking about. Lemon is the way to go.

Now for those of you that may not know my hidden past, here goes. Not only was I a Girl Scout but I was in to the end. That's right, I went all the way. I made it to the big top. I made it to Gold Award which is the highest rank in the Girl Scouts. I joined when I was six. You can only guess how many cookies I sold along the way. They taste just as good now as they did then. I'll never stop eating those heavenly tidbits. And you shouldn't either. So let me know if you want some. I know where to find the Angels.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Game I - The Learning Curve

The games have officially kicked off. The weeks and months leading up to our first fundraiser of the season, well, our first fundraiser ever, has now commenced. We knew we had to do something big to raise more money this year and to start it all off we began with the first Autism Fundraiser at The Stone Tavern. We began planning months ago.

As I live in San Diego and the Stone Tavern is in Whitestone, NY, I had to rely on my trusty and newly appointed charity Chairwoman, Mom. Mom, in her ever expanding roles, was FAB-U-LOUS. She knew she'd be under a lot of pressure. Yes, from me. As many people know, this is a lot of pressure. Especially, most especially, during competition, ahem, I mean during fundraising season. She not only handled it like a champ but she worked it. Mom became a rock star. She became our rock star.

We thought it would be great to have raffle prizes from local businesses. Gift cards, gift certificates, baskets of swag. This is where my Chairwoman really earned her title. You name it, Mom got it. She was unstoppable. She went from business to business letting them know all about our charity, Autism Speaks, and why we were doing the fundraising.

Armed with all of the necessary information, she became Charity Woman. The gifts were flowing in. The support she was given from all of the local businesses was incredible. When it comes to charity we know New York is definitely the place to be. When it comes to fundraising, Mom is definitely the person to have on your team. But she's on my team so you can't have her.

We spent the night before our event wrapping our prizes. The day of the event we prepared appetizers. We were ready to go. We arrived and got right down to business. The set-up. Once we laid out the raffles and the silent auction, we put Dad in his position - door man, a.k.a. "The Bouncer". We had decided on a suggested donation of $10. Having Dad man the door was the best idea ever. I believe 95% of the patrons paid the donation. Perhaps because they wanted to? I'd like to think so.

However, I know the more likely answer. They thought Dad was the bouncer. Yes, my friends, Dad had that look that said give me your money. Brilliant. It worked and that's all that matters. Thanks to my Promotions and Entertainment Coorinator, Elizabeth, a.k.a. Roach, there were of plenty of laughs and jaw dropping moments. Not only did she wrangle in the people but she kept the masses highly entertained. Our Executive Sales Rep. Sheila kept the raffles going by hawking those yellow tickets. However, her most important title of the night by far was Banker and a fabulous job she did. My NYC team was amazing. Without them it wouldn't have been the same.

Another hit was the lotto hat. As much fun as it was to try and win it, apparently, it was more fun wearing it. That bad boy was the latest fashion accessory. It was sad to see it go but it did help bring in the funds. We did try our hand at the 50/50 raffle.

This was an epic fail. Or shall I say EPIC FAIL. Yes, that's more like it. I've heard that when people win the pot at charity events they usually give it back. I guess they didn't get the memo at our event. But hey, we're first timers. We view this as a trial and error - we know what to do in the future. We're learning as we go along.

Overall, the night was a big success. It was a lot of hard work but it is worth it to know that what we are doing is helping others. We are thankful to everyone that came out to support us and thankful to those who couldn't make it but still supported us - in the past, in the present and hopefully in the future. Claudia, thanks for keeping our bouncer entertained. He loves you.

If you were unable to make it that night but would still like to support us with a donation, please visit our websites at: or

Thank you to the following businesses for their generous donations:

The Stone Tavern - 12-54 150th St, Whitestone, NY

Christie & Co Salon -

Trattoria Neo - 15-01 149th St., Whitestone, NY 718-767-1110

Pizza Chef - 15381 Cross Island Pkwy, Whitestone, NY 718-746-1255

Queens Florist - 154-10 Cross Island Pkwy, Whitestone, NY

Freddy's Pizzeria - 12-66 150th St., Whitestone, NY 718-767-4502

Cherry Valley - 12-29 150th St, Whitestone, NY 718-767-1937

Harpell Chemists - 12-65 150th St, Whitestone, NY 718-767-5600

Storks Bakery - 12-42 150th St, Whitestone, NY 718-767-9220

Salerno Pastry Cafe - 15371 Cross Island Pkwy, Whitestone, NY 718-357-4808

Carvel - 14901 14th Ave, Whitestone, NY 718-746-7575
Cozy Diner - 14-09 150th St, Whitestone, NY 718-767-4949

Utopia Bagels - 19-09 Utopia Pkwy, Whitestone, NY 718-352-2586
Hall of Science - 47-01 111th St, Queens, NY

The Clinton - 917 Clintonville St, Whitestone, NY 718-746-4800

GNC - 153-29 Cross Island Pkwy, Whitestone, NY 718-747-2674

Monday, January 10, 2011

Let the games begin!

Ah, January. The time of year when we start anew. Out with the old, away go the decorations, all the festivities have come to an end. For many people it can be a sad and boring month. There usually isn't much going on in January. Sure, there is little Christmas on January 6th. Also known as the Feast of the Three Kings. Hey, I'm all for this - it's an extra day to get a present. But this is it. The end of the festing (new word!). This is also my Dad's birthday but I don't get a present for that.

For the most part, I'm sure we can all agree that yes, this is a boring month. Yes, yes, for all you January birthday babies this is a great month. You get presents. Woohoo for you. I mean that sincerely. In the past, when I saw January approaching, I was right there with all you non-birthday people. No holidays, nothing fun. January. Ugh. But that changed a few years ago. Now I see January in a whole new light. It's not just the start of a new year. Oh hell no - it's much more than that. It's the start of competition time and oh how I love a competition.

Oh, I'm sorry, did I say competition time? What was I thinking? I meant fundraising time. Silly me. That's right my friends it's that time of the year where we gather our team and get ready for our annual 5k Walk Now for Autism Speaks charity event. This year the walk will take place on Saturday, April 23. As usual it will be at the Rosebowl in Pasadena, California.

Each year we try to come up with more ideas on how we can raise the most money. Slowly but surely, we have been moving up the scale. I understand that these things take time and that fundraising is not an easy task but from a competitor's standpoint you just want to do better, get more, be the best.

As this is for charity, I feel that this attitude comes in handy. What better way to benefit the team than a little friendly competition. At the 2010 walk, Mike and I did fairly well. We raised a nice amount and made it into the Grand Club with one slight problem. We missed the cutoff by one week. The Grand Club is a roped off section where walkers gather before the race begins to be pampered. I needed to be in there. My goal was to be in there.

About two weeks after the walk we received our letter congratulating us on making the Grand Club. Bummer. We made it but didn't. This was all the incentive we needed to work harder for 2011. We have been planning our strategy since last year's walk ended. We wanted to go bigger, raise more, try harder. We knew it wouldn't be easy but we knew we had to at least try.

As of this moment I am preparing to go to NYC for what was scheduled to be the first of our fundraisers. While in preparation for this one, I received word that another fundraiser came through and is set to take place this week - also in NYC.

We're trying not to get too excited but have I mentioned that I love raising money? It's such an amazing feeling, to see those numbers coming in, rising, rising. Knowing that you are doing something to help someone else. Plus, don't forget, it is still fun to see who can raise the most.....

We are still working on some events that we would like to have in California. These are still in the works. Hopefully everything will work out. We've added the bracelet collection to our repertoire. We're asking for a donation of $5 per bracelet. If anyone is interested please contact me at

If you would like to make a donation, please go to:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happiest Place? Hhmm.

For the holidays this year instead of going to NYC to see my parents, we thought it would be nice if they came to see us. It would be warmer, more relaxed, more fun. You see where I'm going with this. We had great arguments going for why they should come to San Diego. It worked because this year it was a Southern Californian Christmas. Which, ironically, was our backup plan.

It was originally supposed to be a Hawaiian Christmas. Meleke liki maka and all that good stuff. This would have guaranteed us a warm holiday. Alas, Maui wasn't meant to be. Sigh. But hey, this is Southern California. It's always warm, right? Always sunny, right? I said right?

But really, it didn't matter where we were. We could have fun anywhere. That's just how we roll. As a special holiday treat we thought, hey, let's take the parents to Disneyland. We decided to get the park hopper pass. Two parks in one day. California Adventure is just across the "street" so why not. We had the brilliant idea of going on Christmas Day. Apparently so did 85,000 other people. Literally. We never made it.

We lounged in our pajamas opening presents on Christmas morning, thinking about how nice it was to be lazy and dreaming about our brunch of German pancakes. Then the phone rang. It was our friend. He was already at Disneyland. He wasn't being lazy. The park was too full. No more people would be allowed in. Oops. Guess we'll have to try again.

We set our sights on Wednesday. But wait! Rain. The one day where we have a virtual flood. Really? Thursday it is. We made it to the park and yes, so did the other 85,000 people. They say this is the happiest place on earth. I'm wondering who dubbed it that. Probably the bankers. That's got to be a pretty fat profit coming in.

Don't get me wrong. We had a great time. The rides that allowed us to waltz on up to the front with the wheelchair were my absolute favorite. Thanks Mom. But those lines. Is it possible to be happy waiting in line for over an hour?

Ok, over at California Adventure, I will admit that the Hollywood Tower of Terror was worth the 60 minute wait but the same can't be said for the Matterhorn. That ride only lasted 30 seconds. 30 seconds. Besides, there's a technicality here - California Adventure doesn't fall into the happiest place on earth category as it's not part of Disneyland so it's disqualified.

We needed a little pick me up after all that waiting in line. What better way to put a smile on your face than hat time. Of course nothing says it better than Grumpy. After we all took our turn trying on all the hats, and yes, I mean all, we were renewed and once again hit the streets. We bundled back up - hat, check. Scarf, check. Coat, check. Ah, it's a beautiful warm Southern California day. 55 degrees. Okay at least it's sunny.

As we were moving along, or zipping along with Speedy Mags, we realized how clueless people are. They walk right into you. Apparently they don't see a giant scooter, complete with horn and light, coming right at you. People walked sideways, diagonal and even head on right into Speedy Mags.

I finally told her to just run them over. She's the one with the wheels, if they can't get out of the way, they must suffer. Oh the beauty of it all. She listened to me. Sweet lovin', Speedy Mags listened and she ran them all over. I changed my mind. By God this is the Happiest Place on Earth.