Monthly Archives: November 2012

Got Your Money’s Worth?

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We were putting away laundry the other day.  As I pulled my husband’s sweatshirt out of the basket, I had to marvel at its current state of being.  I held it up and said, “I don’t know what you paid for this thing, but I think you’ve gotten your money’s worth.”  sweatshirt

In case you can’t tell from the photo, every edge is frayed.  There’s a hole in the seam at one shoulder.  There are paint and stain spots all over it.  Any elastic it had at the bottom is gone.  But if I dared to suggest it might be time for a replacement, I’ll hear:  “But that’s my favorite!”

At least it’s reserved for yard work.

This led us into a search for the next oldest, still working item in our home.  That turned out to be the GE toaster oven my husband brought into the marriage.  toaster oven

We think it is a 1984 version; it has been in his possession so long he can’t remember when he bought it.  Originally, it sported fake wood grain on both sides.  At some point, those panels started to peel, so he removed them and cleaned up the plastic underneath.  That was an improvement in the looks department.  Revived, it has continued to work without a hitch for an estimated 28 years.  And we use this thing almost every day!

But the winner in the house is my GE makeup mirror.  I remember my mother buying me this antique when I was 16 years old, after I had been instructed in the “proper” way to use cosmetics.

makeup mirror

That was 1975.  Thirty-seven years later, it still works just fine.  In fact, I replaced one light bulb last year – and that was the FIRST time I have ever had to do so.  We had to unscrew the back panel to get the bulb out and then it was a less-than-confident trip to the hardware store to find a new bulb.  I couldn’t believe we found one that was the right size and shape.  This hard worker has been to college, lived in several apartments, survived multiple house moves and continues to light up my mornings.

Hats off to GE for making some high quality products!

So – what is the oldest, continuously working item in your house – something that has not needed a fix?  Can anyone beat the 1975 mirror?  And tell us who made it – let’s give credit where credit is due.

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Give and Receive

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To celebrate Thanksgiving, I decided to do something nice and unexpected for someone.  I had about a 35 minute drive to my family gathering, so I stopped at the local Sheetz (convenience store) to buy a coffee for the road.  I took my travel mug in, as I usually do, and filled it up, then made my way to the register to pay.  When I stepped up to the next open clerk, she asked me if it was just a coffee refill.  “Yes,” I said as I handed her my Sheetz loyalty card to scan.  “But, I would like to buy you a cup of coffee or a soft drink for Thanksgiving.” 

She looked at me a moment, then gave me a very nice smile and said, “Thank you, hon!  But we get free drinks here.  That is so nice of you though, thank you.” 

I must admit, I was a bit disappointed.  She finished ringing up my coffee then looked at my loyalty points total and said, “You’ve earned a free coffee.  Would you like that now?”

We both chuckled at this little turn of events.  I thanked her, took my cup of coffee that I didn’t have to pay for and we traded “Happy Thanksgiving” wishes as I headed out the door.  Even though it didn’t pan out, I still enjoyed making the offer.  It was a good start to the day.

 

Funny How a Melody Sounds Like a Memory

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On Tuesday this week, the Daily Prompt came out:  Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.

This was a perfect prompt for me, but I have not been able to set finger to keyboard all week.  I have been suffering from my own stupidity.  Last Saturday I worked in the yard most of the day.  The weather was fabulous – no humidity, sunny, about 60.  I cut down grasses and weeds and packed it all into leaf bags.  I was so excited about the beautiful weather that I was in a short sleeved t-shirt.  And what was I bundling without thinking?  The now leafless poison ivy.

poison ivy

Evil Weed!

I have been terribly allergic to this stuff since I was born.  I cannot believe I did this to myself.  I have spent the entire week trying not to scratch myself into oblivion.  All I want to do is take my arms off and hang them up somewhere until it goes away.  Today is the first day I’ve been able to think of anything other than how much I itch.

So I’m late…way late…but I’m writing it anyway.  I love music*.  I believe there is a song lyric for most every event in life and I have been known to break in to song at both appropriate and inappropriate times.  When I re-read the prompt , my mind began dancing with all the possibilities.

I had to start with the obvious, given my situation:  “Poison Ivy, poison ivy…” by the Coasters.  Then I remembered our Thanksgiving 2004 trip to Hawaii.  My husband and I were taking a Thanksgiving evening dinner cruise with friends.  We were all on the top level of the boat, enjoying drinks before the meal.  A local musician was on the lower level, playing and singing.  My husband and one of our friends left the table and disappeared down the steps.  Suddenly I heard the musician say, “Happy Thanksgiving, Connie.  Here’s a little something just for you.”  And he began to play and sing one of my husband’s favorite songs:  “I’ve got sunshine, on a cloudy day.  When it’s cold outside, I’ve got the month of May.  I guess you say, what can make me feel this way?  My girl.”

Wandering around the song lyrics in my head, I realized once again how many tunes and lyrics are attached to the events in our lives.  Most of us can remember every word of our favorite songs from high school and college days.  We remember the songs that romanced our lovers and calmed our babies.  We laugh and we cry.  It’s “Funny how a melody sounds like a memory.” **

* check out the O’Jays if you don’t know this song

** Springsteen, Eric Church

 

Prison Kitchen

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My cousin emailed all of us coming to Thanksgiving the other day and asked us to let her know what we were bringing.  I have a large extended family and we try to see each other at Thanksgiving.  This tradition started when we were children.  We used to gather at my paternal grandmother’s large home.  Grandma is gone, as is the house, so we meet at my cousin’s church now.  There’s plenty of room inside (including bathrooms) and the youngest ones can go out and play on the church grounds.  Whenever I start thinking about what I’m going to make for Thanksgiving, I am flooded with memories of those “special moments” cooking for and with a crowd.

I like the holiday season.  I enjoy fixing food for family and friends.  But there’s  nothing like too many rear ends in the kitchen and too many armchair chefs giving their unasked for advice to start the holidays off with a bang.

You know how it goes.  You and maybe a sibling/in-law or two are in the kitchen sharing the duties.  You’ve planned the menu and each family coming has agreed to fix a few things to help out.  You encouraged them to make the items at home and then bring them ready to go in the oven or be served.  But, no one listens to you so they all show up with their coolers and bags of ingredients.  “We thought we’d make it here; it’s so much easier.”  So now you’re on the hunt for extra mixing bowls, utensils, baking dishes, etc.  You’re also on the hunt for that glass of wine you poured when the first group pulled in the driveway.

So with three of you bouncing off each other like balls in a pinball game, you’re managing to prep food and enjoy being together.  About this time, one of the sweet college age family members breezes in to bake the biscuits from scratch.  She’s small, so she sees no problem squeezing in.  This is the same family member who is well known for enjoying the thrill of baking, but manages to be totally committed elsewhere for the agony of cleaning up.  She starts singing some musical show tune as a cloud of flour floats across the stove.

You are trying to multiply a recipe in your head (and for some of us this IS higher math) when a sibling/in-law starts asking where things are in the kitchen.  The train of addition leaves the mental station and you notice your wine glass is out of sight again.  You realize you are gritting your teeth while you look for whatever is needed, an item that could have been brought had anyone listened to your original request.

That new dish you made for this year’s event comes out of the frig to return to room temperature.  You ask someone to go ahead and put it on the table.  And what do you hear?  Is it, “Wow.  This looks delicious!”  Of course not.  It’s “What is this?  I’ve never eaten anything that looks like this.”  And it’s spoken by one of those family members who still, even as an adult, won’t let his different foods touch on the plate.

You are sweating now.  The oven is on and with all the other people in the room, it’s hot.  You strip down to that tank top you were smart enough to put on about the same time one of the armchair chefs walks in.  “Hot flash?” he asks as he starts to laugh.  “Why is it cloudy in here?”  Our baker is totally oblivious that this smart remark is directed at her; she’s still singing show tunes.  Suddenly you hear from the other room, “When are we eating?  I’m hungry.”

The voices grow dim as your eyes spy the butcher knife.  You know the turkey doesn’t need that knife, but there are other options for its use in the room.  You realize your hand is trembling.    butcher knife

Welcome to Prison Kitchen.

Ahh…the stuff of which family holiday memories are made.  Happy Thanksgiving, a little early.

Special thanks to my friend Sharon Holmes who introduced me to the term Prison Kitchen and had me laughing until I cried.

Ladle up!

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It has been a very chilly and damp day today in NC.  Nothing drives me to the kitchen like this kind of weather!  So tonight, I made one of our favorite soups for dinner:  White Bean and Kale.

The husband and I are both perfectly happy with a big bowl of hot, hearty soup and a slab of bread or stack of crackers as a meal.  This recipe is a fast fix while some of our other favorites are better suited for the crock pot.  And speaking of the crock pot, I think it’s pretty darn wonderful to walk in the door at the end of a long work day to the mouth-watering aroma of something that’s READY TO EAT now!

In addition to being easy, this soup gives us a vegetarian meal.  We try to do that every so often; it’s good for us.  So…ladle up and enjoy!

White Bean and Kale Soup                                                                                                               

1-3 cloves of garlic, minced  (choose whatever suits your taste)

1 cup of chopped onion

24 ounces of chicken broth or stock

2 cans (14.5 – 15 ounces each); can use Great Northern or Cannellini

4 cups of kale, torn in small pieces  (I use more with no problems)

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Saute garlic and onion in oil.  Add the broth/stock, beans and kale.  Bring to a boil and let simmer until kale is tender.  Add pepper and serve.

Bean and Kale Soup

Quick and Delicious

We end up with 1.5 bowls of soup each.  You could probably serve 4 if you added sandwiches, cheese toast or a salad.

I hope you’ll try it.  Let me know if you enjoy it!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

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A couple of summers ago the husband and I decided to go to Minneapolis for a short vacation.  We had so many people ask us how we decided upon this particular location – usually with a head-tilted, very puzzled look on their faces.  It was really a combination of  enjoying visits to big cities and closing our eyes while waving an index finger over a map.  Finger down…eyes open…and voila!  Minneapolis.

We stayed downtown and one morning, walked a couple of blocks from our hotel to a sidewalk cafe.  We had a nice breakfast outside and were just enjoying the morning when I looked up at the buildings across the street.  As you can see in the picture, it was a beautiful start to the day.

Minneapolis downtown

Morning reflected downtown

I was attracted to how the bright blue sky and clouds were reflected in the windows.  As I studied them, I also wondered how the panels at the very top of the building on the right were secured, since they tilted outward.  I liked the angle of my view, looking upward, so I pulled out my cell phone and took this picture.  It’s another reminder of how different the landscape is in a large city.  I guess that’s part of why we enjoy spending time in environments so opposite to our own.

Who knew I would end up sharing this photo in the Weekly Challenge?