Sunday, August 30, 2009

Ms Piggy makes my day

On a whim, I decided to download some pictures of Ms Piggy from Google Images and Yahoo. Well, what a delightful surprise I had. There were dozens of pictures (even a few risque ones) and all of them darling.

Some neighbors are coming for supper tonight so we're busy cooking--corn on the cob (a must this time of year), mashed potatoes and gravy, caprese salad (since we have fresh basil) and smothered pork chops. Warm brownies with ice cream for dessert. I think I'll just have ice cream because I don't much like brownies.

But I love, love, love ice cream! A friend and I went to one of those little ice cream shops down in the trendy area of St Paul yesterday. She ordered Norwegian Chai ice cream and I asked for Salty Caramel which I've heard is a popular flavor locally. They were out of that, so I settled for good old Maple Nut. (It was wonderful!) This particular shop, called Izzy's, gives you a little extra treat and adds a tiny scoop of another flavor on top of your cone. My Maple Nut was topped with a dollop of smooth and creamy dark chocolate. Ummmm.

OK, I'm done gloating about my excellent ice cream cone. It will probably be another year before I get to try the Salty Caramel.

I'll let you know how it is.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How much do we need cats?

There are two drawbacks to having four cats:
1) Litter boxes (enough said)
2) Shedding all over the house.

The cats all have different coats--Snuffy (shown above) is an American Longhair and sheds like a son-of-a-gun. He develops small mats in his fur and pulls them out with his teeth discarding them willy-nilly all over the carpet. It's truly amazing that he remains fully furred when he loses so much of his fur on a daily basis.

Tweedy is a tortie American Shorthair who sheds very little, but Sunny is a Norwegian Forest Cat with a dense double coat that develops big mats. We have to shave him several times a year because we can't even get a brush through his fur. The "prodigal" Gracie is a Ragdoll cat and she doesn't shed much, thankfully.

We dearly love our cats and happily share our home with them in spite of the drawbacks. I've never calculated what the cats cost per year and I guess I really don't need to know. Buying cat food and litter, plus occasional toys and vet bills is just part of the cost-of-living at our house.

The one thing I value most about the cats is this--they make me laugh. That is such a precious commodity you can never place a value on it. Add to that the snuggles and purrs and you have a winning combination of life enhancers.

"I love cats because I love my home and after a while they become its visible soul."
Jean Cocteau

"Time spent with cats in never wasted." May Sarton

"If purring could be encapsulated, it would be the most powerful antidepressant on the pharmaceutical market." Alexis Hope

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Extreme Ironing

When I got married in 1958, among my wedding gifts was an iron and an ironing board. It was a useful gift because "back in those days", nearly everything had to be ironed. When my girls started school, all their little dresses had to be ironed. I had a full-time job so I had a perpetually full laundry basket of clothes needing to be ironed.

Then came the life-altering invention of permanent press clothes and tumble-dry clothes dryers and we have never looked back. I don't use the iron more than a couple times a year. And, when I do, it's most likely to shorten some pants with Stitch Witchery (great stuff!).

How then, did it come to pass that grown men--seemingly sane and healthy--took up ironing as a sport?! Take a look at these (ahem) athletic fellows.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gracie graces us with her return

You may remember that we adopted a stray cat on wintry day back in February. But then, in July, much as she loved being well-fed and pampered, she got outside and disappeared.

Last night, the other three cats began reacting to something outside. When they started running back and forth from the patio door to the bedroom window around the side of the house, we knew they had seen an animal. Sue switched on the light out on the patio and got a glimpse of Gracie. Sue was so speechless it was funny--she stammered and gestured that I had to come and see. I went to look and there, off to the side of the patio was Gracie, peering at us fearfully around the side of a potted tomato plant. (Our tiny patio is a regular jungle of tomato plants.)

Sue went to the kitchen to get some food to entice Gracie while I quietly went outside and sat down in a patio chair. (Thankfully there were no mosquitoes.) The three cats were lined up inside the patio door watching the drama. As I sweet-talked Gracie, calling her by name, she would sneak forward and then dash away only to reappear on the other side of the patio.

Sue handed a bowl of cat food out to me and waited inside with the three cats to watch. After several false starts, Gracie finally advanced to the dish and gobbled some chunks of dry food down whole. Then she attacked the rest of the food and ate it up. I leaned forward to stroke her cheeks (her favorite spot) and she began purring. It only took a few minutes before she was in my lap.

I brought her inside--which did not go over well with Sunny, Tweedy and Snuffy. They really had their noses out of joint. They kept giving her hate stares and avoiding her. She was very restless all night but I suppose the sudden transition was quite disorienting. Today she's just like she never left.

We can only guess what happened to Gracie while she was gone but she didn't look nearly as bad as when she came in February. She's thin but her coat is still in good shape. We'll have to watch for fleas and worms for a while. I really can't tell if she remembers her name, but to me, she's forever Gracie (whether she wants to be or not)!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Retro desserts

Speaking of foods no longer on the market, remember Jello's wonderful Whip and Chill? I used to make that for the family back in the 70's. It was like a mousse and it looked really fancy with a dollop of Dream Whip on top. There was another product called "1-2-3" that was Jello that separated into three layers as it set. It was really pretty in a tall glass.

There have been different flavors of Jello that have come and gone over the years. (There are flavors in stores right now that will probably disappear one day as well.) I remember Spiced Tomato flavored Jello was available at one time--probably for aspic. Not a big hit. I looked online for some of the other failed flavors, and there were quite a few:
  1. Mixed vegetable
  2. Celery
  3. Blackberry
  4. Mango
  5. Sparkling berry (you added 7up)
  6. Mixed fruit
  7. Apple
  8. Apricot
  9. Sparkling white grape
  10. Concord grape

I'm sure you can remember others that came and went. Much as I love Jello, I never tried most of the discontinued flavors. It might be that some of them were just being test-marketed.

A Rainbow Foods store near me is selling three "dessert toppers" called Orange Crush Orange and Vanilla Cream, Dr. Pepper Cherry and A&W Rootbeer Float. I bought a bottle of the orange stuff. (Ingredients: Corn syrup, High fructose corn syrup, Water, artificial flavors, etc) It is dreadful! Gross! Horrible! I have not seen it any other grocery stores so I'm thinking that this is a failed product in the making. Nobody would buy it a second time.

I looked it up online and found it's manufactured by Vita Food Products. I sent them a customer message giving them my opinion, but I doubt that I'll hear back from them... The product they have listed right below the three dessert toppers is Scorned Woman Hot Sauce!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Reader's Digest files bankruptcy

Well, the chickens have come home to roost! Who would have thought that the most-read magazine in the country would be going down the tubes?

I can't say that I'm sorry, however. For many years Reader's Digest made a practice of mailing out huge volumes of mail to older people promoting contests and books of all kinds. After my mom died twelve years ago, we cleaned out her house and found piles of Reader's Digest mailings stuffed in drawers and unopened boxes of books stacked in a back room.

Now Mom didn't have much income, and I'm sure that she entered those contests in hopes of winning something to leave to her family. It makes me both sad and angry that she was taken advantage of that way.

When you multiply that by the thousands of other elders that were bamboozled, you can understand the scope of Reader's Digest's scam. As for all those Reader's Digest condensed books that they promoted so heavily? They are now so undesirable that you can't even give them away! Thrift stores refuse to take them. They wind up as landfill or being recyled.

So, it seems to me that advertisers and subscribers gradually lost respect for Reader's Digest and it finally caught up to them.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Would you read Shakespeare's blog?

What would Shakespeare blog about? Probably international gossip about the royals and world politics. He might well become a TV pundit--riling up the populace with heavy-handed conspiracies, dramatic revelations and dark dealings in government. He would be wildly popular.

I, on the other hand am a lightweight (metaphorically speaking), and deal in recipes, family stuff and things that bug me. Fortunately, there is room online for everybody.

I have a dirty little secret--I've never been a fan of Shakespeare. Even though I was an English major and studied the Bard, I never found that unique passion for his works that many others do. I don't get what the fuss is about. I sometimes wonder if it might be that he wrote in the same Elizabethan English that the King James version of the Bible was written in. That would certainly lend a lot of weight to the words.

Believe me, I'm not in competition with the great Shakes. I just have a real blind spot when it comes to having insight into what other people see in his writings. I guess I'm to be pitied.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

About lobsters

There were several things in the movie Julie and Julia that really pushed my buttons (besides the remarks about blogging). One was an experience years ago regarding an attempt to make beef bourguignon that left an unhappy memory. Another one was about the problems in making a cookbook. (I finished mine in 2007 but still wish I had taken longer and done a better job.)

But, most stressful of all was the scene with the lobsters. In the film, Julie is going to make a lobster dish and buys 3 live lobsters. She has a large stock pot on to boil but can't bring herself to kill the lobsters by sticking a knife into their heads. So, she puts them alive into the pot, one on top of the other. The top lobster keeps pushing up on the lid as it's fighting to live. It made me sick. It makes me sick to write about it. Some in the audience laughed (perhaps they were much more sophisticated than me). Maybe those ignorant people think that lobsters don't feel pain or that it's somehow necessary to boil them alive!

I didn't stay through the credits to see if there was a American Humane Society disclaimer at the end ("No amimals were harmed...") but even the representation of harm is upsetting to me.

PS: When I pressed "Publish" to post this blog, an ad popped up for live Maine lobsters! Grrrrr!

Monday, August 17, 2009

About things left undone

A friend and I went to see the film Julie and Julia yesterday. We both enjoyed it very much. In the movie, Julie is a young woman who decides to blog about her efforts to cook every recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a single year (2002). Her blogging eventually causes friction with her husband who accuses her of being self-centered because of the time she devotes to it.

This made me stop and ponder the self-absorption of blogging. (Such as: whatever made me think that I was interesting enough to blog about my life?) I spend much of my morning working on my blog to the exclusion of other projects.

For instance: my ticket decoupage. I've been collecting tickets to concerts, plays, movies etc. for forty-some years and still haven't done anything with them. But then I think, if I make it, what do I do with it? Plus, there is the perpetual, nagging fear that I will not be happy with it when it's done. And, how about tickets to things I haven't done yet--they would never be included!
(And does anybody decoupage anymore?)

I recently celebrated a birthday and noticed that the August personality type (shown right) says that we tend to overthink
situations. That is soooo right! I'm not balanced or full of grace
(whatever that means) but I sure do overthink things--to the
point of inertia. And then I wind up angry at myself for being such a putz.

And here I am posting yet another self-centered blog--I can't stand it!!!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Random thoughts

When I started my blog last year, I set a goal for myself to post every day. Sadly, I have not lived up to that goal. Several of the blogs that I read faithfully are new every day. I salute all of you avid, productive and inspired bloggers! You Rock!!

What should a caesar salad look like? On Sunday, I went to Applebees for lunch with my daughter and her family. It was the occasion of my granddaughter's 21st birthday and she was going to celebrate by having a strawberry margarita. I ordered a chicken caesar salad. I was served a big platter arranged with big wilted pieces of Romaine tops drizzled with dressing and spread with stale croutons. No kidding, some of the limp greens were as big as my hand! I didn't complain because the 21-year-old granddaughter works there. I looked up caesar salad on google images and this is what it should look like!

(I don't get to eat out very often so I take a bad meal hard.)

Anyway, I drained my brain with all that, so maybe I'll have something to post tomorrow.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I'm excited to take in some movies now that things have slowed down a bit. First, there's Julie and Julia. I'm a big fan of Meryl Streep and Amy Adams (not to mention Julia Meade).

Then, there's a new SciFi move called District 9 just released that I'm dying to see. There aren't any name stars in it, but who cares?

But, best of all, a local theater will do a special showing my very favorite musical Fiddler on the Roof in a couple weeks. I LOVE movies!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Treehugger time

I read a wide variety of other people's blogs. Several of them lean toward environmental issues, one of my main interests. I was catching up on reading other blogs when I came across this great line in one of them:

"Live more gently

on the earth."

This what we need to do! We need to pressure stores to stock more paper products that use recycled materials and stop buying toilet tissue that is 100% newly-cut trees. According to The Equalizer blog at Kimberly Clark has announced that they will begin to use 100% environmentally responsible sources for their products by 2011. This puts pressure on other companies to follow suit.

The US Postal Service is down-sizing again due to the reduced volume of mail. We're talking a huge amount of paper being saved by people using other sources of communication. Despite the tragic loss of jobs, this is good news for saving trees! Save the trees--save the planet!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fighting gravity

A gal's gotta do, what a gal's gotta do! Hope you get a laugh outta this.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm shrinking, I'm shrinking!

Yesterday, I went to the doctor's office for a routine visit. As usual, they checked my weight and height.

As I expected, my weight continues to hover in the hippopotamus range, but the startling news was that I have lost yet another half-inch in height. I was once a comparatively majestic 5' 4". Now I am down to a mere 5' 1 & 1/2". This has got to stop!

I realize that gravity is desperately trying to suck me to the center of the earth. I understand that our spines naturally compress as we age even if we have good bone density. I know that my several hip replacement surgeries lowered my tailbone a little closer to the floor. But, dammit, how much farther can my belly pooch out before I have no lap left? I'm already at the point where my cats will roll their eyes or snort derisively if I try to entice them onto my knees.

I absolutely refuse to go back to wearing a girdle as I did in my younger days. If I could afford it, I'd have liposuction (yes I would!) or even a radical tummy tuck. But gravity will still continue to suck, and I will be another year older in a few days.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's a great year for strawberries

Sparrow practices doggerel for a day

Who doesn't love strawberries?
And this summer they're abundant and sweet.
No matter what you do with them,
They are a delightful treat.

Not only that, but strawberries are a delight to the eye.
They look so scrumptious you want to sigh.
So eat lots of strawberries
(Unless you have diverticulitis).
In which case, you have my profound sympathies.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

150th Post

I was going to be a "smarty pants" and show a picture of a fence post, but I couldn't find one that fit. I'm becoming pathetically reliant on visual aids to sustain my capricious Muse.

Well, let me tell you about her!

She is a scatterbrain and quite giddy so she skips around in my head suggesting
all kinds of loony topics that nobody would be interested in. She can never get to the point while I sit at the computer. Nooooh! She waits until I'm lying in bed trying to get to sleep. Then she starts in with all the brilliant, creative and original ideas that would make me a world-renowned blogger.

So, here I am, making excuses for being so inconsistent in my blogging. I'll keep working on it though and maybe one of these days she will give me some help!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Farmer's proposal

I really want to be one of those folks who contribute witty posts every single day. Unfortunately, I'm restricted by whatever thoughts my tiny little brain can squeeze out. I often have to resort to visual aids to stimulate my muse. This little ditty got me to thinking about a song from years ago that was fun to sing:
"There once was a farmer who took a young miss
In back of a barnyard and gave her a
Lecture on horses and chickens and things about eggs
And told her that she had such beautiful
Manners that suited a girl of her charms
A girl that he wanted to take in his
Washing and ironing, and then if she did
They could get married and raise lots of
Sweet violets, sweeter than the roses
Covered all over from head to toe
Covered all over with sweet violets."

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Peachy time

Last weekend, we had our annual family birthday party. It's a big affair because we celebrate a total of seven summer birthdays at once. Since my three daughters are all good cooks, we wind up with a wonderful spread and eat a lot.

My daughter, Cindy brought this fresh peach dessert. It was so good that I made it for my writer's group on Friday. Everybody raved about it, so in the spirit of sharing, here it is:

FRESH PEACH PIE (double the recipe for 9 x 13 pan)
1 c flour...1 stick of softened butter...1/4 c powdered sugar
Mix until crumbly and pat in pie pan, bake 15 min & cool.
1/4 c water...3 T cornstarch...1 c sugar
2 T butter...1 c fresh peaches, peeled and mashed
Combine water, cornstarch, sugar and mashed peaches into sauce pan and cook stirring constantly. Boil for a full minute til thick. Add the butter and cool. Peel and slice 3 cups of peaches and spread over the crust and pour cooked filled over covering all the peaches.

This is the nicest thing you can do with peaches! Enjoy.