Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November Thankfulness - Always Thankful

Various and sundry things I am thankful for:

Noisy wheel bearings
Dog hair
Modern medicine
Green smoothies
Purdue University

And, of course,

Monday, November 28, 2011

November Thankfulness - Anniversary

For our 29th wedding anniversary, I thought I would write a poem (which can also be sung to the tune of Rossini's William Tell Overture, a la Fred Flintstone.)

Happy Anniversary, 
I had a colonoscopy;
Clay took such good care of me,
Happy Anniversary.

Happy Anniversary,
We got home just before three,
He made me pb and jelly,
Happy Anniversary.

Happy Annivesary,
Dinner at Tre Bicherri
Lamb and fancy ravioli,
Happy Anniversary.

Happy Anniversary,
One love letter just for me.
All I need, just G and C,
Happy Anniversary.

PS  I didn't say it was a great poem.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

November Thankfulness - Gifts

Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.  
Albert Einstein

I like presents.

Primarily, I like giving presents.  Finding just the right thing for just the right person is a true joy.

I like to wrap presents, and tie pretty bows and hand-stamp the tags.

I like to make presents.  Duct tape wallets, fuzzy fun fur scarves, purses, pictures, soap, hot fudge, cocoa mix, cheeseballs.

And I will freely admit that I like getting presents, too.  While I'd like to think that I am not materialistic, I realize that I do like things.  Not lots and lots of things, but pretty things, useful things, things that someone else has picked out for me that are just the right things.  And my tastes are simple.  Books.  Pictures.  Yarn.  Crafty things.  Antiquey things.  Basically, anything anyone gives me is deeply appreciated, especially hand-made things, which I love to display, and have even been known to frame.

But what I don't like is a present just for a present's sake.  Shopping just for the sake of shopping.  Spending money because that's what the calendar and the commercials tell you to do.  If you are one of those Black Friday shoppers, that's cool with me -- I like a bargain, too.  But Black Friday shopping is not something I am comfortable with, as it seems to consist of two of my least favorite things in the world:  crowds and conflict.

And, it falls at my least favorite time to be up -- sleep time -- on my favorite day of the year, the day I like to call Couch Friday.


Friday, November 25, 2011

November Thankfulness - Brown Friday

Today is one of my favorite days of the year.  Leftovers, couch time, a movie or two, knitting and quiet.
And today was a little more special, because Clay and I took a nice hike at the Refuge.  Take that, Black Friday -- we just created Brown Friday (crunchy leaves version.)

So, today I am thankful for a long-legged husband who will shorten his stride so that we can walk together.  (There's a metaphor for something in that last sentence - I'll work on that!)


Sunday, November 20, 2011

November Thankfulness - Pie

My, oh my, how I love pie.  (I should write a poem, shouldn't I?)

I love to read about pie, bake pie, serve pie and eat pie.

And eat pie the next day, when it is almost always better, except for meringue pie; sad but true, meringues, like yeast breads, are outside of my skill set.

Mom was a great pie baker; her best was Raisin Exquisite.
Grandma Hunley was a great pie baker; fortunately for us, meringues were her specialty -- chocolate meringue, lemon meringue, coconut meringue.
I am just an OK sort of pie baker, whose crusts still tend to shrink and often get a little black around the edges.  I do, however, have aspirations of greatness, and look toward the day when I'll have enough time and patience to cut out little pastry leaves to decorate the edges of our pies, a la Martha Stewart.  

This Thanksgiving, I think we will have about 20 pie-loving guests, so I'm baking the following:  2 pumpkin pies, 2 regular sugar cream pies (the state pie of Indiana, and everyone's favorite), 1 brown sugar sugar cream pie (recipe here -- Clay says, "Why mess around with a good thing?" but I say, "This might be the new good thing!") and 1 mincemeat (just because).  If things go as planned, I am going to make the crusts, using the foolproof recipe from America's Test Kitchen (the secret is vodka!); if things go wonky, as they are apt to do around here lately, I will rely on the Pillsbury Dough Boy and his marvelous refrigerated crust.

Piece.  Of pie.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

November Thankfulness - My Girls

Craft show admission - $0
1 spoon ring -     $5.00
2 cookies -         $3.00
3 pork burgers - $9.00
Spending a few precious hours with Sarah and Maggie -- Priceless.

OK, I know that is completely cliched, but it's true.  It just doesn't happen very often, and I am so thankful when it does.

Friday, November 18, 2011

November Thankfulness - Riley Children's Foundation

Today, I was privileged to attend the Riley Children's Foundation annual luncheon.  It was a beautiful, inspiring day; I could try to describe it for you, but there is a nice video here at the Foundation's website.

I am thankful that Indiana children (and children from all over the world, actually) have such a fantastic hospital, and thankful that all Hoosiers can easily help Riley by tossing their change into Speedway buckets, dancing in marathons or buying a Riley license plate for their car.  None of our kids or grandchildren have needed Riley services, but I am so thankful that if they do, Riley is there.

PS Bonus thanks -- I got to say hi to Anne Ryder in the bathroom, and told her she did a lovely job as the MC.  Anne did the very last filmed interview with Mother Teresa before she died, and I've always been a fan.   She had closed her remarks at the luncheon with something she learned from Mother Teresa:  "It's not how much you do that matters, it's with how much love you do it."

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

November Thankfulness - Forgiveness

At about 1:30 today, I realized I had forgotten to call the guys in the band and tell them I wouldn't be at the Lutheran Home at 11:30 today.  I wasn't there last Tuesday, and won't be there the next two Tuesdays.

The guys will all understand, and carry on, but I know I am really going to catch it from the residents.  Here's hoping that if I play all their favorite Christmas songs nice and loud, they'll forgive me.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

November Thankfulness - Middle Age

After an evening of partying with a sweet 21-year-old birthday girl, I am thankful that bars, obnoxious DJ's, pounding music and shoulder-to-shoulder clubbing are not a part of my life.

I am thankful, however, for the introduction to Toast, Scout and NuLu -- East Market Street is now my new favorite Louisville locale.


Friday, November 11, 2011

November Thankfulness - A Vet

So I told you about my friend, Chuck, the 82-year-old Korean War veteran who is writing his memoirs.

Today, he came to St. A, shared school lunch with us, and spoke at our Veterans Day program.   He passed his Purple Heart around for the kids to see, told us to appreciate  all veterans and made me so proud.

I am thankful to have a friend like Chuck.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November Thankfulness - Busy

I have really been too busy to post anything deep or witty.

So today, I am thankful for this busy life.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November Thankfulness - Little Bites

I really needed just a little bit of chocolate today, and there is none to be found in this house.
There is, however, a jar of hot fudge in the refrigerator, and one good spoonful was just enough.

Thankful for just enough.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

November Thankfulness - The Proper Tools

Monday evening my chapter made cheeseballs.  Hundreds of cheeseballs.  (need one?)

Monday morning, all the supplies were delivered to school, and that evening we all hauled our mixers into the kitchen and started the assembly line.  Proper tool #1 - a KitchenAid mixer.  Perhaps the best gift I ever coerced Clay into buying for me.  Here's mine, in pink:

I had to guard her closely -- some sisters with plain white mixers thought it would be a good idea to trade.

Unfortunately, the nuts we ordered were not chopped, so I called Will and he brought in Proper Tool #2, my Cuisinart:
which makes fast work of almost anything.

After the chopping and mixing, the forming of the cheeseballs began.  The only proper tool for this is #3 - hands.

So today, I am thankful for my hands, which are my proper tools for all the things I like best -- playing the piano, knitting, quilting. turning book pages, turning soil and hugging.


Monday, November 7, 2011

November Thankfulness - Paint

A fresh coat of paint makes everything better, doesn't it?  You know one of my goals this year has been to get rid of all the wallpaper in the house (OK, that's the one paper I don't like!)  The baby shower was just the kick in the pants I needed to finish the task, and I am proud to say that it is all gone!  We painted the living room and dining room in Martha Stewart Dolphin gray -- bright and clean.
And, I sanded down and  repainted these

to get these

I also painted some old picture frames in the same off-white, then framed our favorite song lyrics.  Speaking of painting, I broke out my watercolors for two of the songs -- I had forgotten how much I love to paint with them.
The chalkboard in the center is another pinterest idea; the sentiment on the chalkboard is Maggie's idea.  

The Norman Rockwell corner

The foyer, with a sweet little telephone desk I purchased from my favorite little shop, Claire Marie

 And I don't think I posted the re-vamped family room wall, so here it is:
We've lived here almost 20 years, but it feels sort of new.


Sunday, November 6, 2011

November Thankfulness - Paper

I love paper.

Newspaper, wrapping paper, scrapbook paper.
The paper books are printed on.
The paper thank you notes are written on.
The paper wrapped around a florist's delivery.
The paper books are printed on.  Yes, I said that twice -- that's how important it is to me.

We had a terrific party here today.  Some of my best friends came together to celebrate  a sweet girl and her soon-to-be-born sweet girl.  And besides being all about a baby, it was all about paper.

Brittany will soon be a teacher, and her mom is our school librarian, so I thought a book-themed shower would be appropriate.  Thanks to pinterest and Martha Stewart, I got all kinds of good ideas.

Here are the invitations:
I found a template of a blank library card on the internet, copied it into Printshop and messed around to get this.  The envelopes were just brown lunch sacks cut down to size and stamped.  (Isn't that fancy smudging out of my address and phone?)

And the decorations:

Cricut letters, cut with the Storybook cart.  I smudged around on the edges with stamp pads like my pal, Tonja, taught us at her card class.

And the food, with little paper replicas of children's books as menu cards:
 Joannie's Stinky Cheese Man

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie cookies

Sarah's Famous Strawberry Pinkalicious Cupcakes 

Linda's Green Eggs, served with ham sandwiches 

 A Very Hungry Caterpillar vegetable tray

I made up 26 blank scrapbook pages, each with a letter of the alphabet and had everyone choose one; they were to draw a picture or write some words about that letter (and sign their creations), then we put them all in a pink scrapbook for Brittany.  That was lots of fun, even for those who said they couldn't draw!
 And favors were, of course, bookmarks:

Everyone pitched in to make it a great time.  Special thanks to my sweet girls, the cooker and the cleaning fairy.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

November Thankfulness - Discovery

Today, I am thankful that it's never too late to discover something new to you.

A food.
A song.
An artist.

This week, it's Pat Conroy.  How did I get to be almost 52 years old and never read him?  He crafts a sentence/paragraph/scene like no one else.  Yowsa.  I'm not very far into Beach Music (primarily because I keep going back to re-read beautiful passages) but I can't wait to continue this fantastic discovery.


Friday, November 4, 2011

November Thankfulness - Chicken Salad

My Grandma P. was in two very important clubs -- The Sarah Society at church and the Country Club.

I knew these club meetings were important, because Grandma told me so.  The Sarah Society raised money for the church through their annual chicken noodle dinner/bazaar and mincemeat sales.  ("Mincemeat",  you ask?  "Delicious", I answer.  "Is it meat?"  you ask.  "Maybe.")  I only recall raisins, nuts, lemons, spices and lots of apples.  The church kitchen buzzed with ladies chopping, stirring and canning hundreds of quarts of mincemeat, my Napoleonic Grandma in the middle of it all, giving orders.

Country Club?  How I longed for people to think my Grandma and mom were members of the "real" country club, where people went for drinks and supper (which they probably called "dinner".)  But their Country Club was more of a monthly chat fest for the neighborhood farm wives, held in the afternoons at one of the member's homes, no cocktails involved.

I knew these club meetings were important because I watched and was pressed into duty as Grandma got ready when it was her turn to be the hostess.  She was a dynamo, anyway, but she went into overdrive, and took me along with her.  There was a lot of cleaning to be done, snack sets to be washed, tablecloths to be ironed and chicken salad to be prepared.

Club meetings were a time for showing off culinary skills and new recipes -- I believe Grandma saw it as a competition.  Fancy cakes, fabulous jell-o creations and chicken salad.  I don't think I can remember a meeting without chicken salad -- maybe it was in the by-laws.

My grandma made very best chicken salad.  I know because she told me so.  Chunky chicken, grapes, celery, crushed pineapple, nuts and Miracle Whip.  Lots of Miracle Whip.  Pile it on white sandwich bread with a piece of lettuce sticking out "just so", slice off the crusts and cut it into two triangles.  Perfection.

I still make it almost like Grandma did.  I leave out the Miracle Whip, but try to include the attitude.

Here's my latest variation.  For lack of a more creative name, I'll just call it November Chicken Salad.  Thus,

November Chicken Salad
6 cups cooked chicken, diced
6 ribs celery, chopped
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
2 nice apples, chopped (I used Ambrosias -- they are delicious!)
1 1/2 cups walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
juice of one lemon
2 cups low-fat sour cream
1/2 cup sugar

Toss everything except sour cream and sugar together.  Stir sour cream and sugar together and let sit a few minutes; stir again, pour over salad and mix well.  Chill.  Serve on white sandwich bread with a piece of lettuce; cut off crusts and divide into triangles, just because.

I had planned on writing something deep and moving about chicken salad -- like how even though people make chicken salad in many different ways, it's all good.

But in the end, you know what?  It's chicken salad.  Not much more needs to be said.

Chicken salad is a happy memory, and one I am thankful for.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November Thankfulness - Parties

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I was going to throw more parties, to honor the memory of Sarah Stephens.

This weekend, I'm having one, so I don't really have time to write a blog post, except to say that I am thankful for the opportunity to get together with my friends and celebrate!

Peace.  Party on.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November Thankfulness - Knitting

I know it's November, because I have been getting requests:  cabled hats, colorful mittens, and big chunky scarves.

So today, I am thankful for knitting -- the peace it brings me, the friendships it has allowed me and the pleasure my knitted efforts bring to others.

Currently, I have four projects on the needles:  a prototype chunky headband (that red blob in the basket), a Branching Out scarf made from local alpaca, a sweet lacy baby sweater in a soft green, and the previously mentioned big chunky scarf (the white blog in the basket).  There are several pattern variations out there for this seed stitch scarf, including this one knit end-to-end and sewn together, and this one  -- the Gap-tastic Cowl -- which one of our knitters shared last month.  I showed the pattern to Sarah, who immediately put in an order, and Maggie said she would like one, too.  And although you cast on 131 stitches and knit in the round, it's really a pretty fast knit with the Lion Brand Hometown chunky yarn on 13's.

Plus, I have taken the opportunity to practice my continental knitting.  I conquered the continental knit stitch a few years ago when I made myself learn two-handed color work, but have never perfected the continental purl.  I think after these two scarves, I'll have it.

As long as no one requests socks, it should be a pleasant knitting season!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

November Thankfulness - Sisters

Beside a well, one does not thirst.
Beside a sister, one does not despair.
           - Chinese Proverb

I am blessed with two biological sisters.  Two sisters-in-law.  Many, many close friends I consider sisters.   

I do not despair.  

Besides, when you get to go to work with your sister and dress like this,

despair is not an option.   And for the record, I was a Minion, not a bumblebee.