Best Advice of the Week: Making “Toe Peeks” Unnecessary

April 30, 2011

Whenever I think of something I have discovered that I might share as “advice”, it always next occurs to me that maybe everyone else already knows that!  So, if you have always done this, just bear with me because I’m sometimes a slow learner and this is something I just discovered.

For me, one of the most common conditions that could interrupt a good night’s sleep was being either too hot or too cold.  I always started out with the sheet and blanket covering me.  Then, if I got too hot, I would throw the blanket off.  But, of course, pretty soon I would wake up again because now I was a little chilly, so I would pull the blanket back over me.  Sometimes, instead of this off and on routine, I would stick a foot out from under the covers and that would adjust my “thermostat” just enough.  But, of course, as soon as I would fall asleep that foot wouldn’t continue to peek out, so I was doomed to wake up again to make another adjustment.

Of course, not every night was like this, but I also probably don’t always remember when this happened because I made the adjustments while only half awake.

But I have now found a fix for this dilemma that works well for us and I thought I would share it, in case there are some who haven’t already thought of it.  My solution is that I replaced the standard weight blanket on our bed with two thin blankets.  That gives us another level of “temperature control”.  We have both found this to be a great assist to a good night’s sleep.  And if I do happen to wake up and am still a little chilly even with both blankets over me, I keep another thin blanket (this one twin-size) in the nightstand drawer so that I can throw it over me too.

Hubby is almost always too warm, so this has worked great for him too, because he can easily use just one of the blankets along with the sheet.

A good night’s sleep always make whatever the next day brings easier to handle, doesn’t it?  Happy sleeping!


When clothes lines were as important a line of communication as telephone lines!

April 27, 2011

I received the following in a forwarded e-mail today and it brought back great memories of watching my mother hang our clothes on a clothesline to dry.  I especially remember the wonderful feel and outdoorsy scent of the newly washed sheets when they had just been put on the beds.  They were heavenly!

THE BASIC RULES FOR CLOTHESLINES:

1. You had to wash the clothesline before hanging any clothes – you walked the entire length of each line wiping it with a damp cloth.

2. You had to hang the clothes in a certain order, and always hung whites with whites, and hung them first.

3. You never hung a shirt by the shoulders – always by the tail! What would the neighbors think?

4.. Wash day was on Monday . . . You never hung clothes on the weekend especially not on Sunday for heaven’s sake!

5. You hung the sheets and towels on the outside lines so that you could hide your “unmentionables” in the middle (perverts & busybodies, y’know!)

6. It didn’t matter if it was sub zero weather … clothes would “freeze-dry.”

7. You should always gather the clothes pins when taking down dry clothes. Pins left on the lines were “tacky!”

8. If you were experienced, you would line the clothes up so that each item did not need two clothes pins, but shared one of the clothes pins with the next washed item.

9. Clothes off of the line before dinner time, neatly folded in the clothes basket, and ready to be ironed.

10. IRONED?! Well, that’s a whole other subject!

A POEM

A clothesline was a news broadcast

To neighbors passing by,

There were no secrets you could keep

When clothes were hung to dry.

It also was a friendly link

For neighbors always knew

If company had stopped on by

To spend a night or two.

For then you’d see the “fancy sheets”

And towels upon the line;

You’d see the “company table cloths”

With intricate designs.

The line announced a baby’s birth

From folks who lived inside –

As brand new infant clothes were hung,

So carefully with pride!

The ages of the children could

So readily be known

By watching how the sizes changed,

You’d know how much they’d grown!

It also told when illness struck,

As extra sheets were hung;

Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,

Haphazardly were strung.

It also said, “Gone on vacation!”

When lines hung limp and bare.

And told, “We’re back!” when full lines sagged

With not an inch to spare!

New folks in town were frowned upon

If wash was dingy and gray,

As neighbors carefully raised their brows,

And looked the other way .. . .

But clotheslines now are of the past,

For dryers make the work much less.

Now what goes on inside a home

Is anybody’s guess!

I really miss that way of life.

It was a friendly sign

When neighbors knew each other best

By what hung on the line.

                                                                                                                                           

Old and New Easter Memories

April 25, 2011

We spent Easter with DD and her girls in Chicago.

We attended a beautiful service at their church.  The music was especially beautiful, as it always is at Easter.  Once again we have been reminded that Christ died for our sins so that, even though we are all sinners and not worthy of Heaven on our own merit, His sacrifice assures us that we can one day live with Him in Heaven.

As we had the traditional, at least in our family, ham dinner, Hubby and I told them stories about our memories of Easters in our childhood.  The girls were a little incredulous that when I was a little girl, I always not only had an Easter dress, but also a hat and sometimes even gloves!  Now you don’t even see grown women in hats on Easter very often.  I miss the hats.

This picture with its obvious cracks is the only picture I could find on my computer where I am wearing a hat.  It was Easter 1967 and I was expecting Gunny in August.  I’ve always loved hats and am really sorry for their demise for both men and women!  (and, no, ball caps don’t count as far as I’m concerned)

So, anyway, it’s always fun for me to try to think of some project or craft I can do with DD’s girls when we are together.  So I took two dozen store-bought sugar cookies and lots of frosting, peeps, and all kinds of sprinkles for us to do some cookie decorating on Saturday afternoon.

It was fun but it was also messy!




All three of the girls really got into the cookie decorating.

But because Mimi is quite a bit younger, she asked for a little extra help.

As Lulu demonstrates, we all ended up wearing some of the frosting!

Coco even got her face involved!

Pre-frosting-on-her-face, Coco was already giving us an innocent look like, “Who me?”

Mimi admiring some of their handiwork.

It was fun to see how creatively they used the decorations I had supplied.

I was especially charmed that they based some of the decorations on the peeps I had taken that I really intended just to be used to cut up to make flowers!  How appropriate that the blue peep has a nest of blue eggs.

So all two dozen of the cookies got done without too much permanent damage (except my sweatshirt may be too stained to be salvageable).

After we cleaned up, the girls and Papa went out on the deck to take a breather.  But apparently, they weren’t too tired to try to make DD and me laugh one more time.  We heard a tap on the glass door and were startled to see this:

Some great new memories for all of us.


It made sense …

April 22, 2011

… until I really read it!

Last week there was an article in the paper that suggested a refrigerator could be cleaned in 20 minutes.  That certainly caught my attention, because keeping the inside of our refrigerator clean has never been a 20 minute job for me.

The author did a minute-by-minute run-down of how this could be accomplished.  As I scanned through her list, it didn’t strike me as unrealistic … until I got to what she suggested you would do during Minutes 16 and 17 “Plug in the refrigerator.  Returned the drawers.  Put the food back in, wiping down jars and bottles.”  In two minutes?  Really?

I’m pretty sure this article is only realistic instruction for refrigerators that have about a tenth of what is in ours. There probably should have been a disclaimer on the article that it for the refrigerators of singles who eat out most of the time.

I should have known it was too good to be true.  I’ve got to close now … and go spend a half day cleaning the refrigerator.  Two minutes … really?  Sigh.  Not a chance.


Stamped on the memory of a little boy

April 20, 2011

A friend’s son was visiting them recently and he laughingly mentioned that he had thought they were on food stamps when he was little.

My friend was shocked!  She and her husband are long-time business owners, for goodness sake.  They have definitely never needed food stamps.

She asked him where he could have possibly gotten that idea?  He said when he was a little kid it just made sense to him that the “stamps” they received at the “food” store must be what people were talking about when they talked about “food stamps” .

Of course, what he was really talking about were the S&H Green Stamps that were given out at the grocery store when you checked out.  I remember taking mine home and faithfully pasting them in their little books and then taking my rubber-banded bunch of filled books to the stamp store (there were several around town) and “buying” things.  I especially remember that that is the way as a young mother when we didn’t have much disposable income, I was able to get our first set of the “in” dishes of the day, Corelle.  And, btw, this same friend told me that she still has champagne flutes that she keeps in their original box from the stamp store.  That’s kind of remarkable to me since I think the trading stamps went away about thirty years ago.

So, anyway, the son is an adult now and knows that Mom and Dad didn’t have to use food stamps.  But don’t you just wonder how many people that little guy may have told his mistaken idea?  I’m sure his parents have.

This reminds me of when we went to orientation for Gunny’s kindergarten class.  The teacher told us, “I promise not to believe everything your child comes to school and tells me, if you will promise not to believe everything your child comes home and tells you!”  Good idea.


Sleeping in the Doctor’s Office

April 15, 2011

The big, old house where my family lived the first nine years of my life had previously been the home and office of a doctor.

His examination room became my bedroom.

In my bedroom on Christmas night with my new doll baby and festive clown pajamas that I received from Santa.

It was a big room and I liked it that it was in the center of the house — next to Mama and Daddy’s room (that, btw, had been the doctor’s waiting room), and close to the bathroom and the stairs that everyone else sleeping upstairs had to come down — I never felt alone.  Important to a little girl in a big room by herself.

I don’t remember ever questioning that my room had a sink in it.  Maybe that is because the only times the sink was actually used was when Mama and my sister Martha Lou experimented with developing their own pictures a couple times and made my room a temporary “dark room” and used the sink for the processing.  Other than that, it was just ignored.

I wish I could now go back and look at that house with adult eyes.  I realize now that it had some very unique features like that sink.

I guess it’s fortunate that when that was my bedroom, I was too young for it to occur to me all the interesting things that had probably taken place in that very room like births, surgeries and even deaths.  That’s a good thing because I think thoughts like that, especially of deaths, might have kept me from sleeping peacefully.


Myrtle’s Easter Eggs

April 13, 2011

At book club last night our friend *Myrtle told us a really cute story:

When Myrtle’s children were little they were going to have an Easter egg hunt with the neighbors who had four little children of their own.  The adults had hidden eggs all around the yard and were now sitting in lawn chairs enjoying watching the children doing the hunt.

The neighbor’s youngest, about three, was a little young to really get into the hunt, and was just wandering around watching the other children find eggs.  He finally wandered over to where Myrtle was sitting, and Myrtle told him that she knew there were still some Easter eggs to be found and he should just look harder.  He stood there a minute apparently finally understanding a little of the concept that the eggs were hidden and he would have to guess where they were.  So with this new idea of looking for something in a place not expected, he reached up and patted Myrtle’s chest.  Nope, that wasn’t one, so he wandered off to look in other places.

We all laughed long and loudly at Myrtle’s story.

Later in the evening, we were discussing books in general, and how much harder it was to lay in bed and read a book if it was a large, heavy one. Myrtle was lamenting how hard it is to balance a heavy book on your rib cage while lying down.

At which time another friend commented, “And, of course, you want to be careful that the book doesn’t fall over and break your Easter eggs.”

I love my book club.  They not only enjoy reading books and discussing them, but they enjoy laughing together too.

*Myrtle’s name has been changed to protect the privacy of the owner of the “Easter eggs”.


Can Kidney Pie be far behind?

April 11, 2011

Is it just me or is there alot of talk right now about meat pies?

When we were at DD’s about a month ago, she made us a really delicious shepherd’s pie.  Who would have thought that a meat pie with parsnips as one of the ingredients could be so good?  But it was!  Because we liked DD’s so much, Hubby made a version of shepherd’s pie that we got off the internet (not quite as good as DD’s original) when Gunny and his teenagers were here a few weeks ago.  They loved it too.

Then I happened to turn on the TV about a week ago to see a chef named Sunny making what looked like a great chicken pot pie, so I went to her website and got that recipe.  I made it a few days ago and we really liked it.

And then, one of my favorite bloggers, Beth at C. Beth Blog posted a recipe for Irish Beef Pot Pie that also looked wonderful.  You can see her recipe here.

So, it just seems to me that pies that are meals are coming on strong right now, and I’m jumping on the band wagon!

Here is Sunny Anderson’s recipe that I used:

Easy Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients:

1 1/2 lb. chicken tenders (about 10 tenders)

1/2 t. sweet paprika

1/2 t. dry sage

1/4 t. dried oregano

salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 T. olive oil

1 C. frozen pearl onions

1 C. frozen peas and diced carrots

2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 2 t. of minced garlic in a jar)

2 T. flour

2 C. low-sodium chicken stock

1 C. heavy cream (I am going to try using fat-free half and half next time)

1 store bought pie crust, unbaked and thawed if frozen

1 egg slightly beaten

Directions:

Use a 10″  cast iron skillet (I don’t have one so just used an oven-proof skillet I do have.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle chicken with paprika, sage, oregano, salt and pepper.  Heat the skillet on the stove over medium high heat and add the olive oil.  Add the chicken and saute until cooked through, about 4 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second side.  Remove the chicken with tongs to a plate, leaving the oil in the pan.  After the chicken has rested for a few minutes, chop it into 1/2″ cubes.

In the same pan add the onions, peas and carrots and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Stir and cook until the onions become tender, 3-5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute longer.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir until it dissolves into the vegetables and juices.  Add the chicken stock and simmer until thickened.  Then stir in the heavy cream and add salt if needed.

Return the chicken to the pan.  Unfold the pie crust and place over the top of the filling, tucking the excess edges into the pan.  Brush the crust evenly with the egg wash.  Using a knife, gently cut 3 (*small) vents in the crust.

Place in the pre-heated 400 degree oven and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

*The reason I specified small vents above is because I think I made my three vents too large and it allowed alot of the gravy to escape.  I don’t imagine it changed the flavor, but it would have looked alot nicer if the crust hadn’t looked like it was drowning in gravy.

I had never had shepherd’s pie until a month ago, and I’ve never had kidney pie either.  Well, I liked DD’s shepherd’s pie, but I’m not a fan of kidney’s in anything, so I’m not planning to try kidney pie any time soon.  But, never say never.  It could happen.   And, of course, if it does, I’ll be sure to tell you about it!


Best Advice of the Week: Bathroom Graffiti our way

April 9, 2011

When we worked, I carried a small Franklin planner that was my go-to place for all things going on in life, both work and personal.  It was always either on my desk at work or in my purse, and I referred to it many times a day.  And Hubby had an electronic hand-held planner where he (and his admin) put everything important for him to remember and that his ad min synced once a day with his work computer as well as hers.  So that was his go-to spot for all things to be remembered.

And then we retired.

When we retired, it became much more important to keep a master calendar here at home.  But, then we had to remember to look at it every day.  A bigger challenge when in retirement, because there wasn’t nearly the daily routine that there had been during our working days.

So, I started putting post-it notes on the mirror in our bathroom when there was something we needed to remember.  Most of the time, these were reminders of things that were already written on the calendar that we kept, but seeing it on the mirror was a much more sure reminder.

But then something I saw on television, and my memory fails me here so I don’t remember what it was I saw that inspired this idea.  Anyway, I thought of the grease pens that are used on white boards and wondered how they would work on the mirror!

They worked.  And now any messages we need to leave for each other or any reminders we need to leave ourselves, are left on the mirror.

The notes are often incomplete — just enough to remind.  This tells me, on Friday I have golf at Shoaff Park at 10 am and we’re going to dinner and a movie with Doug and Linda about 4 pm.

This picture shows both what kind of works and what works better.  On the tub deck beside the plant is the calendar we write everything on.  But, when we realllly need to remember something, even if it is written on that calendar, we write it on the mirror “just to make sure”.

I put the markers and eraser in a container on the counter to keep them handy.


E.J. and Me

April 7, 2011

Yesterday, I told the story of the wonderful bond that Hubby and his police dog, E.J. had.  But I also mentioned that E.J. wasn’t crazy about me.

Hubby always told me that it was in my head that E.J. didn’t like me.  And he said he believed the whole root of the problem between us was that E.J. could tell I didn’t trust him and he was reacting to those negative vibes he was getting from me.  Yeah, right.

Anyway, one day Hubby decided that this was the day that E.J. and I were going to become friends.  And we were going to accomplish that through a medium we could both relate to — food.

Hubby cut a hot dog into five or six pieces and put them on a plate on the table next to where I was sitting.  Then he told me to call E.J. over to me … but DON’T PUT YOUR HAND OUT TO HIM.  Of course, he said that because that was how I and others had previously received warning bites on our hands.  So he instructed me to just call E.J. over to me and then to tell him to, “Sit!”.

I did and he did.

Hubby reminded me to not act intimated by E.J.  Okay, I’m sitting there looking straight into the eyes of a not very friendly 200 lb., big black dog and “not being intimidated”.

Hubby next told me to pick up a piece of the hot dog, hold it out to E.J., and then after he took it and ate it, pat him ever so gently on top of the head and say, “Good boy.”

Okay, I could do this.  I held the first piece of hot dog in my fingers and offered it to E.J.  He took it and ate it.  I then patted him ever so gently on top of the head.  “Good boy!”  Hey, it looked like this might be the start of a new warmer relationship between us!

So I gave him a second piece and then a third, patting him ever so gently on top of the head and praising him after each.

I really was feeling more confident.  Maybe Hubby was right.  Maybe it had been me who just hadn’t figuratively reached out to E.J. before!

Then I gave him the fourth piece of hot dog.  Then I reached out to pat him again (eveeeeer so gently, of course) on the head.  Then he grabbed my hand in his trademark not to hard, but firm I-don’t-want-you-to-touch-me bite.  End of experiment.

I gave Hubby my best I-told-you-so look and went to do other things –things I was more successful at like sweeping and doing laundry.  Things that were alot more “fun” than trying to convince a big, black, grumpy dog that he should like me when he was obviously not going to change his mind about me, even when I was bearing hot dogs.

So, E.J. and I never did develop a close relationship, but I did love that dog because I knew that he always had the back of the man I loved.  That was enough.