Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

On August 10, I blogged under Serendipity about finding this book at a Goodwill store. It had been recommended to me by a dining companion aboard ship this last May. Well, now I've read it and all I've go to say is:

Where have I been?

With such an unusual title one would think I'd have at least noted it somewhere. After all, it's not hard to forget. Weeks on the NYTimes bestseller list and I see where it's being made into a movie. The NYT site shows Kate Winslet as the main character, although doesn't. But then, it doesn't list a movie for her for 2013 either. Hmmm.

Suffice it to say, it was a charming book and I can't wait to pass it on to someone else and share the joy.

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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Embroidery thread debacle

I learned to embroider when I was five years old. Scattered through my mother's kitchen drawers were towels and aprons done in a decidedly childish, 3-strand embroidery. We bought Aunt Martha's hot transfer patterns at the dime store and Mother would cut up old sheets and my sister and I would decorate them. Some lasted quite a long time.

So did the thread.

I don't know when my current "collection" started, but I'd wager some of it is close to 25 years old, dating to the December I made felt kit Christmas stockings for the four of us. Although the kits have become harder to find (make that near impossible), I've made 4 more: daughters-in-law and grandchildren. Each kit had more thread than needed.

So did each cross-stitch kit. Not to mention the threads I purposely bought for the vintage-esque Victorian quilt I fashioned for a friend. Or the tie quilts I've made for myself. Or the kitchen towels I embroidered just for the fun of it.

So, in need of a project, I've decided to make a new Christmas tree skirt. Our current one dates to our first Christmas and is made of felt and rickrack, glue and sequins. To say it is shabby is an understatement. It's a good thing it so quickly becomes covered with presents. I have a pattern for a machine-applique 12 days of Christmas tree skirt which I actually did make once in a sewing class and then donated to a silent auction. I believe it fetched over $200 which, given the labor involved, was a steal for the buyer.

But now I'd like to hand applique and embroider the details. I've cut out the pieces from scraps and a few new quilting fat quarters. I started gathering all the necessities, thread and needles and small scissors. A friend has given me an applique lap board which I'm not sure I'll be able to use, but I'll try. All I needed was to select my embroidery threads.

Two (or so) hours later, I had over 100 colors of thread spread out on my cutting board. Some of the shades were so close, I had to wait until the next morning to be able to determine the differences. Gazing over the threads was a review of my last quarter-century's work.

I was appalled.

It was obvious they couldn't go back into the zippie bags and get all crushed together again. Off I went to Walmart to get a tackle box. I found one I liked which would take up a minimum of space and had slide out drawers. It looked like it would hold about 60 separate colors and I thought I'd just squeeze a few in together.

It quickly became evident that that wasn't going to work. If I was going to arrange and organize, I might as well do it right. Tackle box number two was fetched.

120 colors and dividers later, I am pristine in the embroidery thread dept. I have trays of yellows, oranges, browns, blues, greens, blue-greens, reds, and pinks. I only need one more thing: black.

I have a skein, but you never know...

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy birthday to Matt!

Today son #1 is 34. Where does the time go? And how technology changes.

Once he left the nest where we celebrated with swimming parties and basketball parties and overnights, we'd call and sing "happy birthday" to him. Then came the era of texting and since we didn't want to disturb him at work with our off-key singing, I'd text the song to him.

But today... today we did FaceTime. How wonderful to see him in his robe in his kitchen with the kids around and eating breakfast. It's Emily's first day of pre-kindergarten (Where does the time really go? Wasn't she just born last year?) and everyone was excited.

So we wished him 'happy birthday' and we sang.

Off-key. Lucky man... not only did he hear us, he could see us!

Happy birthday, Matt!

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Sunday, August 21, 2011

The best birthday ever

Or at least, that I can remember!

I became the big 6-0 this weekend. There's not any sense denying the passage of time, although I could probably pass for 55.

On my "big" birthdays, I like to do a little extra celebrating. At 30, I threw my own bridge party. At 40, the spouse took me to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose Texas for a weekend in a high-class tent and a pseudo-safari. At 50, we had about 35 people at a restaurant for a Mexican buffet, then back to the newly remodeled kitchen for birthday pie. At 55, I did a hands-on cooking class with friends and relatives. What fun! Hard to top, but I've done it.

This year, we packed up kids, in-laws, grandkids, and headed to the JW Marriott resort in San Antonio. It's a something for everyone place, so the guys could golf, the kids swim. There was a spa and delicious food and great service. Saturday night we dined at La Fogata, my favorite Mexican restaurant in all the world, and listened to a mariachi band.

I became 60 in style.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Wax paper

I grew up in a wax paper household. Mother seemed to use it for a myriad of things, foremost lining cake pans. I doubt she had ever heard of parchment paper.

My kitchen has both and I use parchment when a recipe calls for it. The differences in the products have often been lost on me, but can be found here. However interesting that is, the Reynolds site disputes the cake pan lining no-no, so I'm still safe as that's about all I use it for. As I don't make many layer cakes, a roll can last me a very long time.

How long, you might ask.

I came to the end of the wax paper roll yesterday. The box was coming apart, but the cutter-edge was still sharp. It was an old box though because there was a green Walmart sticker on it with the price of 54 cents.

Now, it's been a few years since Walmart, or anyone, has put price stickers on things. This box did have a UPC code. So today, I went to buy another box because one obviously doesn't know when one may need it, and besides, it should last me a decade.

Or maybe not. For starters, there's less of it in the new box, 75 sq. ft vs. the previous 100 sq. ft. As to the price, 54 cents doesn't cut it any more; it was $1.33. That's almost 2.5 times as much for 25% less, or .0054/sq ft vs. the new rate of .0177/sq ft.

Looks like I'll just have to gauge my usage.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

39 and counting

Tomorrow we will be married 39 years. 39. Where does the time go?

So I got to thinking about what, besides the "selections" of china, silverware, and crystal, we still have that we had when we moved into our first apartment.

Two pieces of Club Aluminum. Harvest gold. I may have switched to other cookings pots (on my second set of Calphalon), but I keep the two big, 8 and 12 quart, pots for making jelly.

Steak knives. A gift from the best man's family. Bone handled. Bought at Neiman Marcus. Just as beautiful and sharp as the day we opened the gift.

Four grapefruit spoons, a gift from a good friend's parents. How little we thought of the gift then. How much we use them now.

A cache pot. Really. Think big white vessel we keep an ivy perched in. It developed a crack along the way. Who hasn't?

Hanging lamp from an uncle. It has orange flowers on it, tiny. We've had it rewired twice, no, three times. Love it.

My little gray plastic tool box which keeps the picture hanging materials now. At one time, it held all our tools.

Avocado green folding chairs. Acquired, along with a card table, with S&H Green Stamps. The table tore up long ago.

A crab/shrimp/corn on the cob cooking pot. It's decorated with all sorts of colorful creatures. We used it for years and now it sits on a shelf, but I'm not discarding it.

Avocado green Rival crock pot. Doesn't hold diddley compared to the new ones, but I still have it until it is needed elsewhere. I occasionally see it at antique stores for $5.

Various church cookbooks.

The hassock. It belonged to my parents and we have photos of me when I was two pulling the cat around by his tail as he lazes on top. He was definitely a good and patient cat. John. Mother had it recovered for us and gave it to us as a footstool cum coffee table. And it still is, 39 years later.

Oh--and we still have each other!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I don't know how we even got on the topic but at dinner one night aboard Oceania Marina, our Mediterranean cruise ship in May, we began talking about books. Our tablemates that night included two widows, cousins, one Canadian, the other British. They cruised all the time, had their favorite restaurant onboard (where we were), and were having a fine time.

The one seated next to me said I simply had to read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Because it was about the island of Guernsey during WWII and they were both British (sort of), I assumed it was an English novel. While I never thought to come upon it, I politely took out my iPhone and typed in the title.

So today, I have an appointment for my annual physical. This is not exactly one of the joys of being a woman, but it is what it is and it gets done. At my stage, and with the busyness of the doctor, it averages about every 15 months, and indeed my 2012 appointment is in November. But that's neither here nor there. Today, I had a 9:30 appointment, the doctor was still in surgery, and I was asked to come back at 11:30.

I took myself off to Goodwill. I usually find something amongst everyone else's castoffs and today was no different. Guess what I found in the book pile? Oh, yeah. I even pulled my phone out to make sure I had the right book. It's a 2009 Random House book and for $2, it's now in my TBR stack.

And it looks like a good read.

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Monday, August 08, 2011

The birthday goodies continue

And from Soft Surroundings, a favorite clothing site for me: $20 off a $75 purchase, good in the store or the outlet. Of course, what I've an eye on is under $70, so I'll have to scout around for a little something extra. Clever folks. Coupon expires Aug. 31.

An email from Starbucks saying there's a coupon coming for any drink/size I want. Don't know the expiration since the coupon hasn't shown up, but it's usually into the next month. That one is as good as cashed.

And from Chamberlains, a half price entree with the purchase of entree. Alas, it expires on my birthday and I don't think I'll have time to cash it.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

My Kind of Month!

It's my birthday month and time for all those businesses which I support and allow to have my email address to pay up! In other words, I have birthday coupons!

So far:

Chico's: $10 off. What can I say? It's spent already!

DSW: $5 off. No minimum purchase. Expires 8/31. I sense a shoe trip coming on.

Papa Murphy's pizza: free cookie dough with pizza purchase. Expires 8/31. Definitely doable.

Landry's restaurant empire: $25 has been added to my membership card. Expires: 9/15. Very generous, especially considering I have to drive a minimum of 40 miles to find a restaurant in the group.

Chamberlains's Restaurants in Dallas: This is an anniversary offer (August is a BIG month for me). Free creme brulee with dinner purchase. Alas, expires on the anniversary and I don't think we'll make it in.

Surely, there are more to come?

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Monday, August 01, 2011

The '1' in the temperature

In North Texas we have now had a month of 100+ degree days. There doesn't seem to be any end in sight. The last time I remember it being like this was the record-breaking summer of 1980. The main difference now is that I don't have two toddlers to contend with--and so far, my air conditioning is working, unlike then. For a week.

But upon careful thought--and air conditioning working--I've decided that if there's to be a '1' as the first digit in my outdoor temperature, I'd rather it be followed by two digits than a single one. Below 19, I don't do so good.

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