Friday, November 30, 2007

Old Tyme Photos

When our older three kids were school age we had a family photo taken dressed in old fashioned costumes and sent it out as our Christmas card. We had been on vacation in Hayward, WI and thought this was a fun idea. It was printed in a sepia (brown) tone and looked old. Years later, my mom and dad had their picture taken posed as a Civil War general and his fashionable wife. Our son Dave has a portrait in a gunslinger costume. Recently my husband suggested we do this again, this time with the whole family including grandkids. We checked into doing it at a shop in the Mall of America. No time to do it for Christmas cards, the kid won't be home from college in time. There are about six themes you can follow. We narrowed it down to 1920's or Victorian era. I'll bet the grandkids would prefer the medieval costumes but not sure I want one of us to be Merlin the magician. The princess thing might be cool though or the knight in (plastic) armor. Anyway, we will work it in and get a current portrait. It would be much easier to dress like the people in the picture. Wouldn't even hurt if you were having a bad hair day.

Kind of makes you wonder why they bother to take pictures.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Happy Anniversary and Ole!

Yesterday was my sister and brother in-law's anniversary. She said they were celebrating at an Austin, TX restaurant, Fonda San Miguel. I found their website. It looks like a landmark restaurant with great food and ambiance.
We are heading to Ft. Myers, Fl in a little over a week. Jon has been looking forward to eating at "Rib City" and I want to go to Luby's Cafeteria. I think we set our sites a little low. Fonda San Miguel looks more elegant. Take a peek. I have an ulterior motive. I do not want to be the only one humming the catchy tune on their website.

The Whole Enchiladi

I am a headliner today in the Bulletin Board in the SPPP with my turkey leftovers poem. It won't be helpful this late. I hope no one is still eating leftover Thanksgiving turkey a week later. This has been a trifecta. Look at the bottom of the column. The "Band Name of the Day"--Cream of Mushroom and the Peas. The website: Tetrazzini (inspired by another turkey dish).

I have been going back and forth by email with the editor of the Bulletin Board this week. He had a few suggested revisions to my masterpiece. (I say that tongue-in-cheek.) He thought my changing manicotti to manicotta was odd and suggested enchilada to enchiladi instead. Don't think I see what difference it made which name I bastardized, but..he is the editor. I am just a "little sister" clamoring for attention.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

You've Gotta Have Heart...

Feeling down, or in a funk? Take inspiration from this wonderful story about a sled dog north of the border. Don't quit. Fulfill your calling. Sometimes it means being hitched with someone who can help you fulfill your mission. Good example from nature about giving it your all. Go Isobel

The Wave of the Crest. (Navigating the toothpaste aisle.)

When you get older you are more likely to reminisce about the good old days. They seldeom were as good as we say, but they may have been simpler.

I can remember when they invented Crest brand toothpaste. It was a "sea change" in toothpaste. It contained fluoride to prevent cavities. Dentists recommended it. I remember a few other brands in that time period: Colgate, Ipana, Pepsodent and different brands of tooth powders and baking soda toothpaste. There weren't many choices. Rexall had their store brand.

Boy have things changed. We needed toothpaste and I counted 26 varieties of Crest in the store. I don't think they have room to stock all of them produced. There is Crest that whitens your teeth, crest that has Scope to clean your breath, Crest for tartar control, Crest to prevent cavities, Crest with baking soda, Crest for kids, (actually six children's Crest toothpastes). Nature's Expressions Crest, Crest Pro-Health, Crest for sensitive teeth, Striped Crest, Crest to loosen plaque etc. Then there are varieties of each of these. Some come in gel or paste. Some have sparkles in the gel. There are colors. There are tubes or upright dispensers. We haven't even touched on the fact they all come in a variety of sizes. Do you realize your could have a shop that just sold toothpaste? These are only varieties of Crest. This is all duplicated by Colgate varieties. When I sorted Operation Christmas Child boxes last week I must have spotted a dozen different brands of childrens toothpaste. They make several that a kid can swallow.

I purchased the Pro-health Crest that promises cavity protection, help for gingivitis, plaque fighting, breath freshening,whitening and helps sensitive teeth. I think that should about cover it. Couldn't they use that to replace the other types? Doesn't everyone want all these benefits? When I got home I noticed the toothpaste I bought is "clean cinnamon" flavored. Yuk. I like the orignal aqua colored paste. Probably wasn't room on the shelf to stock that. Will this get easier when I get to the point where my teeth are in a glass?

Oh, the wonders of modern science. Don't get me started on disposable razors. Are they up to 6 tracks yet?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Turkey Time

Our youngest headed back to college yesterday with turkey dinner leftovers. He and his roommates had agreed to each bring leftovers and share a dinner Sunday night. Hope all survived without food poisoning from the four day old food. We didn't seem to have that much leftover meat this year. I can remember years when we ate it everyday and just could not look at turkey for a long time. That got me thinking of how many things you could do with turkey. I check the online recipe site and got quite a long list. I said what "you " could do with turkey. My husband only likes it cold. No creative recipes please. Therefore I took out my energies on this poem instead of in the kitchen. Now we only have to wait another month until Christmas for more turkey. I think we will have beef at Christmas.


by Jane Celeste the Pest

Leftover turkey, this we treasure
Chop it, slice it, guess- don’t measure
Take a handful of turkey pieces
Add veggies or some cheeses
With rice of noodles—surely pleases.

Turkey chili can be quite spicy
Served up with cornbread would be nice, eh?
Turkey sausages-- very hardy
Turkey meatballs—for your party.

Stuff some peppers with the turkey
Dehydrate slowly – make some jerky
Top a pizza, stuff some pitas
Serve them up with margheritas

Turkey soup will warm you up
On colder days just drink a cup
Try turkey tacos, make some hash
Use the leftovers, save some cash.

Quesadillas, enchiladas,
Tetrazzini, manicottas
Turkey omelettes, turkey stew
Many choices, what to do?

Minnesotans, feed the group
Making “hot dish” with canned soup
Add cream of mushroom and some peas
Dinner's ready. It's a breeze.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Annette and Frankie at the Beach --Revisited

Jon told me about a TV program he watched this morning. A twenty-something guy decided to investigate what it would be like to live retired. He spent six months in a Florida retirement complex observing the retirees lifestyle. He told about people socializing in cliques; some were card players, some golfers, others played tennis. The widowed women greatly outnumbered the available men. The men were popular. I remember when my father in-law was widowed he was pursued, sometimes aggressively, by older women. He was an attractive outgoing, fun guy. He was also very handy and could fix almost anything. Jon asked me if I knew what quality was the most valued by these older women looking for a man. I didn't say money, assuming they already had some if they were retiring in a comfortable Florida condo. I figured they would want a guy who could fix things. Wrong. I guess they have maintainance men at those complexes. The men who could drive at night were the most in demand!

Two weeks from tomorrow we are heading to Ft. Myers Beach, Florida for a weeklong vacation on the beach. This is a place older people go. It is not like South Beach in Miami where you need that beach body perfect. I wouldn't feel comfortable there. Oldsters go to the gulf coast to watch the sunsets and eat the early bird special dinners. They go to the beaches where the bodies are likely to have wrinkles and sags. We will join them. I plan to keep a close eye on Jon. He still drives at night. Got to keep the cougars at bay.

Edmund and Victoria's Family Gathering

I have a new project. Organize a Parnell family reunion for next summer. Interest has been growing. We are due. This picture was taken in 1957. A few of my cousins had not been born yet. The extended family is much larger now adding the grandchildren and great grandchildren of the original Parnell eight.
Many have stepped up to help and offer suggestions. Our last reunion was about seven years ago. My cousin Dan took charge after observing we were only meeting at funerals and needed to come together at another time.
I remember that first reunion. I was twelve and had never met my California cousins. Coming from a small town in Minnesota, I was so impressed by this blond California cutie, my cousin Mary who is my age and had actually been to Disneyland and the ocean. Other cousins had a dad in the Air Force and lived in Wyoming at the time. We hadn't seen them often either. It was a great week spent in the hometown. Aunts kept us busy helping and organized a talent show. We went floating down the Apple River together. We had picnics. Fond memories. Time to remember the past and make some new memories.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Operation Christmas Child

I am happy to say I didn't hit the stores yesterday to shop. My afternoon was spent in the company of a group of my cousins volunteering to pack shoebox gifts for the Operation Christmas Child project run by Franklin Graham. The twin cities are a regional receiving and distribution center for this charitable project that distributes donated (shoebox) gifts to needy children around the world. For several years my cousins, descendents of one of my favorite aunts, have volunteered together the day after Thanksgiving. They asked us to join them this year. I am so glad I did. Dan and Diane own a charter coach business and drove the whole group to the warehouse. It is an amazing experience. The huge warehouse is full of pallets of shrink- wrapped brightly wrapped gift boxes. Volunteers do an assembly line final check for inappropriate items. No weapon toys, no food that would melt or spoil. There is lots of love sent in those little boxes and many have photos of the donors smiling faces. Imagine. You can touch the lives of a child somewhere in the world who probably has nothing. Spread the joy and love. Bring God's love to them. We are the hands and feet expressing His love in the world.
In an age of overabundance and unbridled materialism, this simple gift giving is good for our hearts.
After our Thanksgiving dinner talked turned to "what do you want for Christmas?"
Isn't it amazing that you seldom can answer that question? My son Dan finally came up with the best answer I have heard in years. "Cereal", he said. We paused and looked at him. "Cereal, the kind I like is $3.50 a box." That opened a line of conversation about our favorites. I was reminded that years ago when they were little I would not buy the sugary, junk food cereal they craved. One year I acquiesced and gave wrapped Captain Crunch to them for Christmas. (not the only gift) Oh, my. A treat. Wait another year for another box. Well, we probably are going to see cereal under the tree this year and I think it will be great.

My mom's family grew up during the depression. They started a family traditional called "Bushel Basket Christmas". Everyone either made a gift or gave something they owned to another. Years later the custom was revived when the extended family gathered at Christmas. My cousins I met with yesterday still do that. Jon and I are going to do it this year. Hopefully, we can rekindle the tradition. That or expect cereal.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Reindeer Were Never This Noisy

I have had too much caffeine today resulting in compulsive overblogging. Last one for the morning here. I am leaving in a few minutes.

For the 24 years we have lived in Stillwater Santa arrived the day after Thanksgiving on a fire truck. He comes right down our street on the big truck with the siren sounding. Kids come out to greet him and he throws candy to them. When Andy was little he waited for him. Today it is almost 10:am and time for his arrival. Andy is still sleeping the way the young do on a day off. I have been up five hours. The picture was taken in a different town. I got it online. Santa must have changed over the years. He used to come on a sled, but that was when we had snow in Minnesota. Actually, when I was a kid Santa came to our house to deliver presents one Christmas Eve when my sister and I were sick. She then told me he was really Tater Roberts, a friend of my dad and local fireman. Maybe he could have come on a fire truck after all. I hope I see Santa before I have to leave this morning. Good memories.

Black Friday

They dubbed today, the day after Thanksgiving, "Black Friday". Sounds omenous, but it refers to the kickoff of the Christmas shopping season. The black refers to the black ink retailers will have if we all cooperate and spend, spend, spend. Every years there are dire predictions by newpeople that this year people won't spend as much and retailers will be stuck with excess merchandise and go broke. Duh. Couldn't they anticipate that and stock less? Doesn't merchandise move as "just in time" supply? Anyway, it is a predictable story much like the July news stories of crop failure if it doesn't rain soon. It always rains little in Minnesota in July. Shopper's are always concerned about money. Every year someone is out of work or otherwise pinching pennies. The price of gas is always too high (but they are really pushing the limits this year. I said the same thing last year when it was $2.)

Good news. Foreigners to the rescue. With the drop in the value of the US dollar, an influx of shoppers from other countries is expected. We have experienced Japanese shoppers at the Mall of America for years. Now Europeans having the exchange rate of euros / dollar in their favor are buying here. New York and Boston have them. I wonder if the MOA will have the same catch. If not, we can depend on those neighbors to the north, Canadians, to be big spenders. Times past, Minnesotans drove across the border to get bargains. There are duty-free shops on the Canadians side of the border to purchase their goods. They probably are not doing well now that the US and Canadian dollar have equaled. Oh well. Might as well see the bright side of the picture. Doesn't our economy thrive by peoples purchases? Eh, come on down Knucks! Ciao Italians. Guten Tag Germans. Top of the Day to the Irish. Come and buy. We are the new Europe. No need to greet an influx of Mexican shoppers. They are here already working in the stores and restaurants.

The Name Game

The Name Game

Recent headline in SPPP, “Is Med School Name Worth $150 M(illion)? The U May Find Out”. They report the University of Minnesota Medical School leaders are considering selling naming rights to the school for a big-time cash donation. The school is not balancing the budget currently.

We already have Xcel and Target’s name displayed on major local venues. Others are lining up to sponsor sports arenas at the U of M. Naming the medical school might require a committee to screen applicants, or would just the biggest checkbook win? Consider the possibilities. Can we live with the “Simon Delivers” School of Medicine? That would fit nicely in the obstetrics department, however. How about the “Great Clips” School? This might do a disservice to our heritage at the U of leader in transplant services and cardiovascular surgery. Would be politically incorrect to solicit funds from Green Giant to train bariatric surgeons? We are already familiar with Ronald McDonald’s presence on hospital campuses. Maybe Toys ‘R Us could jump into the pediatric sponsorship. Lots of Minnesota companies and lots of possibilities here. This will go through my mind all day. I am voting for Lifetime Fitness because it sounds more dignified, but IF they chose Green Giant they would already have green surgical scrubs for the doctors and only have to buy the elfin boots and leaf-like dress. Lots of possibilites.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Running With the Turkeys

9000 people got up early and gathered in downtown Minneapolis for the annual Turkey Run. What fun. Lots of people in interesting costumes such as the four in black pilgrim outfits with hats. Many varieties of turkey hats. Most were comical figures, a few with just feathers sticking out of their stocking caps. We did 5K in 54+ minutes. Seems slow, but it really takes a while to get a decent start and break up the pack. Maybe we would have been faster if we had not stopped to pose for a dozen or so pictures. The picture of Mary with the dark building in the background is the new Guthrie Theatre. It was cool and snowing those big, lazy snowflakes. Hardy folks we are. Some serious runners wore bare legs and shorts. Most, like us, dressed more sensibly in jackets and hats. I am anxious to do it again next year. Mary suggested some other fun runs. One, the "Blubber Run" starts downtown and halfway through you stop for free beer. Chances are we could recruit a few more family to join us for that.

Speaking of Giblets...Not One of My Favorite Things

My mother in-law asked once commented that she liked my stuffying and asked how I made it. I told her, first step, take the giblets and toss them... I think it is the texture I don't like. Maybe they taste fine. Anyway, I'll be thinking about all the cooks out there up early making stuffing and getting the bird ready. Ciao. Or is it chow?

(stuff probably not on Oprah’s list)

Jeopardy is on TV at 4:30 in our area. That hour is sacred. I love to guess along, saying my answers out loud to the consternation of those who are watching with me. Sorry, but I can’t help it. I love trivia. I am competitive and I am pretty good at getting the correct answer to the final question. It is helpful to have time to think of the answer.
Anyway, this has nothing to do with Jeopardy. It is about watching a little of Oprah’s show waiting for 4:30. Yesterday was Oprah’s “Favorite Things” annual show. She shares her list of new favorite things and then gives the audience these gifts. The young women in the audience scream their adulation. I like Oprah, but am not so fond of the adulation she receives. My son Andy, remarked once about women on the edge of their seats awaiting life instructions from Oprah. She is a maven and can create best-selling books or new trends. I suppose the vendors of her favorite things are donating them to the show for the great publicity. I am not a “maven” but have my own favorite things. I also like to make lists. Here is it:

Our Osterizer blender. Gift from Jon after we were married in 1968. It has seen heavy use turning out baby food, beverages and the family recipe of knoedels and just keeps humming along.

Just My Size Minimizer bra although I may have to rethink the minimizer thing as I lose weight. Do you think they make a maximer bra? The minimizer has straps that don't stretch. No one my age wants stretchy straps. Need to fight gravity and keep those gals up there.

Dry Idea clear gel unscented deodorant. No white marks on cloths, no scent, no sweat.

Andrea Bocelli’s CD “Romanza”. Meant to be listened to with the volumn up. Bring the Kleenex. It will move you.

The chocolate raspberry cake from Bread Art Bakery in Bayport, MN. Try is and you will be sorry you don’t live here. Maybe you will be glad you don’t live here if you are counting calories.

Dannon Light ‘N Fit yogurt. Only 60 calories per 6 oz and tastes good. I prefer the raspberry or raspberry & white chocolate. Do you see a pattern here?

Laugh out loud movies: Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Blues Brothers. Sure to lighten your day.

Trader Joe’s. They built one closer to our house. Best balsamic vinegar at a good price comes from Trader Joe’s.

The beach at Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Seven miles of white sand beach waiting for us to come in December. Do the manta shuffle if you step in the water.

The lakes region in Austria. The Alps. Switzerland and Bavaria.

The greater northwest in the US and western Canada, especially Vancouver Island.

Turkey. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. Guess I will have to continue to make the traditional dinner because I love it tool Have a nice Thanksgiving even if you are eating lobster.

Holiday Humor

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

See the Picture on the Wall?

The artist is Eric Enstrom, not Engstrom. It is called "Grace". Feedback from blog put me on the right track. more info:

Another Favorite from Norman Rockwell

Being Thankful

There is a painting of an old man with folded handed bowing and saying his prayers before eating that is seen in many midwest homes. I believe it is called, "Grace" by Engstrom. I went to my usual source for illustratory pictures (Google), and put in Grace + Engstrom under the find images function. The first hit I got was a picture of a woman named Grace Engstrom. I never found the painting. Must have the name incorrect. Anyway, here's to you Grace Engstrom.
We all have many things to be thankful to God for. Here is my short list:
My God whose grace keeps me going. I could not have lost weight this past year without lots of grace. He has been faithful over the years and my source of strength.
My husband. Faithful, funny, loving, thoughtful and pretty good looking. We are approaching forty years of marriage and hope for many more.
Our oldest son, Dan. It is wonderful to watch your kids mature and raise a family themselves. He is soft spoken and reminds me of my dad. He went back to college a few years ago and finished his BS in horticulture and now enjoys what he does for a living. Good job.
I am thankful for his wife Jen. In all the years they have been married I , as a mother-in-law, have probably done or said things that would offend but have never heard a harsh word from her. She is the perfect wife for our son.
Our grandkids Zach and Mina. Love your and wish you would slow down a bit growing up. It is going too fast for me.
Our second-born son, Dave. I am so proud of him. He is faithful to keep an eye on his "aging parents" and in the past year has set some amazing goals and reached them. He quit tobacco cold turkey. Way to go. He is our dependable house sitter when we travel.
Our only daughter. Everyone should have a daughter like Mary. She is a talented, lovely young lady. I enjoy her cheery email everyday. A daughter glues the family together and will keep everyone in touch long after the parents are gone. If you have a daughter you know what I mean.
Her new husband Mike. Worth waiting for him. They are still newlyweds and he is one of the most thoughtful guys I know. We are so glad she married him. My mom taught us to pray for good husbands by doing that herself. We did and got him as answered prayer.
Our youngest, Andy. The baby we didn't expect has rounded out our lives. Everyone said when I got pregnant at 40 that the baby would keep us young. I don't know about that, but it kept us involved with the young. He was so easy to raises and a very good kid. This year he will graduate from college and we can see he is more mature than many his age.
My sister. We share so much history and our gene pool. She has always been there for me.
My church. People who church hop a lot miss out on those long term relationships that make our church family special. I especially love the smaller size of the congregation that means you know people.
My country. America the beautiful.
Friends, old and new. It is wonderful to have the time to spend with friends when you are retired.
I don't have a dog, which would probably come next, so will be thankful my computer keeps me linked to others and gives me a place for self-expression on this darn blog.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, hopefully spent with those you love.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wannabees and Ones I Want to Be That Aren't Born Yet

I pulled a couple CDs off the shelf yesterday that I hadn't listened to in a long time and drove to the next town to run an errand. I put the disk in and turned up the volumn of my old favorites, Robbie Robertson and the Red Road Ensemble. I love this hauntingly beautiful album. The music is Native American. It set the mood for a little daydreaming. Since son-in-law Michael is part Native American, when they have children our grandkids will be part Native American. I guess I am a wannabee like my mom was. I am delighted their children will have that cultural heritage. They actually belong in America. Such injustice was done to the aboriginal peoples. When we shudder at atrocities committed against people around the world, cultural cleansing, we must realize we aren't too many generations from the same actions. But many have survived and I think it kind of just that they are profitting from the casinos. I am not endorsing gambling, but no one is forcing anyone to gamble. Maybe they will get some of what we owe them back a quarter at a time.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

You Think You're in a Rut...

Yesterday after the "ladies luncheon", I drove home from St. Croix Falls, WI on the "blue highway" cross-country. It is scenic, hilly and had at least one sharp 90 degree corner. For some reason I tend to drive faster in the Wisconsin countryside. Maybe it is the memory of riding in the backseat as a kid when my Uncle Ervin drove 100 mph. We flew over those hills. I still love that feeling of your stomach floating when you top the hill. One of the ladies in the car remarked about the deer this time of year. I checked my speedometer and eased up on the accelerator. No sense tempting those deer. Today in church our youth pastor preached. He illustrated a point he was making about taking correction from each other by telling a story of his wife warning him to slow down on one of those Wisconsin roads years ago. "The deer are out". Apparently he did not heed her council quickly, and hit one in short order. When he did the accident report for the police, the form asked him to draw what had happened to cause the accident. He said he drew a deer with a surprised look on his face. He is a funny guy. I can imagine that sketch. The deer are crazy during the mating season. It is also the hunting season. Are they running toward each other or from Elmer Fudd? Not sure, but they do not use good judgment when approaching roads. Driver beware.

Ya Ya Sisterhood and Zucchini Pie

"Ya ,Ya " is an affirmation and "The Ya Ya Sisterhood", a movie/ book about sisterhood. What I did yesterday is also about sisterhood, but I have dubbed it the "Amen Sisterhood". Our churches ladies were invited to a ladies luncheon hosted by a new church in St. Croix Falls, WI. The church opened in September and is pastored by our former (retired) pastor. His wife does the women's ministry and is used by God particularly to help brokenhearted women. We miss her teaching and gentle ways and groups of us drove the 40 miles to hear her teach, see the church and enjoy the fellowship luncheon. It is good to spend time with sisters in the lord. One of the women I drove with I have known casually at church and we also worked at the same hospital. While visiting with her yesterday I asked where she had grown up. "Little Falls" was the answer. I was amazed. She is about a decade younger than I am, but we have a similar background. The greatest connection is not our hometown, but being true sisters who share our faith family. "Ya, Ya" , slang for "yes, yes" should remind us that God always says "Yes, yes" when we come to him. He will not reject anyone who seeks him. That is good to know and share.

Everyone brought a "dish to pass" yesterday. One of my car-mates brought a green Jello salad with the disclaimer, "And I was not even raised Lutheran". I fixed a zucchini Italian cresent (quiche). It is loaded with calories having a full pound of cheese in the recipe. Best to make this when I will only have a taste and not the leftovers in MY refrigerator. Many asked for the recipe. I got it over 30 yrs. ago from my sister and it is always popular. Works well for brunch.
Another thank-you to my sister who forwarded the funny veggie pictures. I have 20 more on my computer so expect the worst.

*I doubled the recipe and it fits in a 9 X 13 pan

4 cups thinly sliced, unpeeled zucchini
1 cup coarsely chopped onion
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup chopped parsley or 2 Tbsn dry parsley flakes
½ Tsp. each salt and pepper
¼ Tsp. each dried basil & oregano
2 eggs well beaten
8 oz. (2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese
8 oz. pkg. refrigerated cresent rolls
2 Tsp. mustard

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In large skillet, sauté zucchini and onion in butter or margarine until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in parsley and seasonings. In large bowl, blend eggs and cheese. Stir in vegetable mixture.

Separate dough triangles and pat into ungreased quiche pan or 12 x 8 baking dish. Seal the seams. Spread crust with the mustard. Pour vegetable mixture evenly into crust.

Bake @ 375 for 18 to 20 minutes until knife comes out clean. Check after 10 min. If crust is too brown on edges, cover with foil for next 10 minutes. Serve hot, but leftovers are even good cold. Reheats well if covered with foil.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I.C.E. It Up

The joke used to be that the doctor would say "Take two aspirin and call me in the morning."; advice you are more likely to get now is, "Apply ice for 20 - 30 minutes four times a day and elevate the injured part". Here is a new use for ICE, besides building an ice castle like the picture from the St. Paul Winter Carnival a couple years ago.
If you have a cell phone put your emergency (family) contact numbers under the heading of I.C.E. This is an acronym for "In Case of Emergency". Emergency personnel look at cell phones when wondering who to call when a victim cannot speak for themselves. You may already know this, otherwise consider it good advice.
Here is another piece of advice from a former ER nurse. We frequently had to call patient's personal physicians including a lot of different specialists involved in their care. The secretary, if you had one, would spend precious time searching for those phone numbers. Why not put all your Drs. phone #3 on your cell? My husband has seven Drs. he has seen for one thing of another. I carry a list in my purse but this would work well on the cell phone under Dr. I think.


Last week I received my copy of "Midwest Living" magazine. I always look for new ideas and clip or copy recipies. I then file them and occasionally actually try some. I have a great collection of clippings. There was an interesting recipe for brussel sprouts. It had bacon, feta cheese, red onion and fresh thyme. My husband likes brussels sprouts and I confess the only thing I have ever done with them is boil them whole. Boring. This sounded like something I would like. In the past two days I have seen three TV cooking demonstrations with new ways to fix brussels sprouts. (Rachel Ray, Gordon Ramsey and the Today show). All the recipes were a little different. Today I read the morning paper's EAT sections. Headline: "Brussel Sprouts for Thanksgiving". They have a recipe that includes orange zest and balsamic vinegar. Think I will try one of the recipes for a pot luck I am attending Saturday. What is going on? I thought all the farmers were growing corn for ethanol. Next year they will probably all be growing hops. There is an international shortage of this beer grain due to drought in Europe and American farmers planting a lot of corn. That should send the price up. Maybe they will overplant and next year we will see recipes for fixing vegetable dishes with hops!

Be forewarned family. You are getting brussels sprouts as one of the vegetables on Thanksgiving. The consolation; it won't be in the stuffing, although that has possibilities.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Leaping' Lizards

I think I have become "Leaping Lena". Years ago, decades actually, when we first moved to Stillwater, I worked night shift at the community hospital. We got to know some of the local characters. One was nicknamed Buster and you would see him walking around town carrying a big stick. Occasionally, he would stop and pound on someone's car with the stick. I never heard of him hitting anyone, but I think people kept their distance. Rumor was he was a former boxer with a bit of brain damage. Another local "character" was Leapin Lena. You would see her bounding around town. She covered ground fast and walked everywhere wearing her funny hat and sunglasses and loping along. We had her as a patient once and I got the chance to visit with this "eccentric" woman. She would wear her sunglasses and either her hat in bed or cover her head with a bath blanket saying she hated the draft from the AC. At the time I thought this odd behaviour but you should see me now when Jon has the bedroom window open at night and the cold air pours in. I sat to visit with her one night and learned she had been a wardrobe mistress in New York for Broadway shows. She was an interesting person and I enjoyed talking to her. Now that I am "loping" all over town at a pretty good clip wearing my hat to keep warm and my transitional glasses turning dark when it is sunny, I realize I have become the new Leapin Lena. I prefer that to being the new Buster.
Everyone has a story. It is good to talk to the seniors and find out what their story is.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Run For Your Lives, You Turkeys

I do my sign at church on Mondays and yesterday's was easy. It was Veterans Day and the sign thanked and honored Vets. I thought next week"s was a slam-dunk too. It will be Thanksgiving week and I can put something about being thankful. One of my pet peeves is having the holiday dubbed "Turkey Day". Have we forgotten it is about thanking God? Non-believers could at least thank the turkey. Anyway I hate that phrase.
My daughter in past years has done a 5K run in downtown Mpls on Thanksgiving morning with a friend. It is promoted as exercise in anticipation of the big eat. One year she did "spinning" @ the Y with a huge group. This year she asked me if I would like to participate with her in a 5K walk. After being assured it was a walk not a run (optional, can do either) I said sure. I am walking 8 miles or 13K everyday now. Piece of cake. Last night when we met for dinner she gave me the entrants # and shirt. The shirt says "Turkey Day Run". Oh, my. Can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em. Maybe we can go "whole hog" and be "top dogs" and win that race. It should be fun and I am looking forward to it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy 65th Birthday Jonnie B

The love of my life, my best friend, husband Jon turns 65 today. It is a milestone birthday that comes complete with qualifying for Medicare and enduring bad jokes. Actually you ease into 65. You see it coming. On his 64th birthday he asked, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64"? Yes, yes, yes. We fed him good yesterday and the kids will feed him well tonight.
We started dating when he was 23. A few months later when he turned 24, his dad (an artist) made him a personal birthday card illustrating a young Jon running into the house announcing, "You had better clear out. There will be cops all over here in a few minutes." I raised my eyebrows. What was I in for? Not to worry, no jailbird. His name did come to mind for the local police when he was growing up when there were pranks pulled. Nothing serious. No juvie record, just his normal impish behavior.
That impish behavior persists. Last week he brought his "Fart Machine" (just a noise maker) to the Monday morning men's Bible Study group. When I invited one of those guys to the birthday party/dinner last night for our church people group, I told him "No Gifts." He said, "Good, I wouldn't know what to get a man who already has a fart machine."
Our "small group" from church helped us celebrate his birthday last night. We started out as a spiritual book discussion/support group and have continued meeting to laugh and eat great meals. We have a gourmet cook in the group (not me). Everyone has a great sense of humor and we have fun. We haven't been too good about following the format for small groups and our pastor will occasionally announce that there is another clandestine small group in church (us). We haven't been seeking new members. 16 is a big enough group for dinners and home meetings.
Last night one of the members who farms told a funny tale about a new use for Diet Coke. He employs several farm hands. One day he sent one to get him a Subway sandwich and a Diet Coke. The guy came back with a 2 liter bottle of the beverage. What do you do with that on the combine? He stashed it in the cab. A short time later he smelled a funny smell. Something was overheating. When he got out of the cab he discovered there was a fire in the engine. Not having a fire extinguisher, he grabbed the Diet Coke, shook it, and put out the fire. Who says God does not anticipate our needs?
Link to another use for Diet Coke:

Friday, November 9, 2007


We have had flurries a couple days this week. This am while I was on my walk, we had bigger flakes and a little snow sticking temporarily.

It is beautiful when it snows. We have had snow arrive later and later in recent years. Most agree if we live in a cold climate we might as well have the snow. There is no wind and lazy, big snowflakes in a calm world are gorgeous. I could live all winter without wind or ice, but hope we get some snow for the holidays. Winter doesn't have to last six months but is welcome for Christmas. My x-country skis await me.

When I was growing up my parents would tell about the Armistice Day blizzard of 1940. My dad was stuck in a house in the country for days. Because of the war climate, the weather forecast was not broadcast. My father in-law was at work when someone called his office from South Dakota warning them to go home. A nasty blizzard was coming. He did. Others were not so lucky and there was great loss of life. Many duck hunters did not have cover. The day had been warm and cattlemen lost stock who were out on the range.
Our Halloween blizzard of 1991 was worse, but we had warning. Link:

Thursday, November 8, 2007

4th Down and Goal to Go

Six more pounds to lose and I will fall into the "Normal" wt. range. No more obese. No more overweight. Normal. That sounds good and achievable. Here is my list of advantages of the diet.

1. I will fit better in an airline seat. It will still be small. It is for everybody.

2. No premium payment for life insurance or health insurance.

3. I can go to a high school class reunion.

4. A ride in a hot air balloon is possible. They ask your weight when they load the things.

5. The highway patrol could identify my corpse. My driver's license has never been accurate.

It still isn't correct, actually, now it says I weigh way more than I do. Got to fix that and the


6. Will get better gas mileage.

7. I can teeter-totter with thinner people.

8. I don't have to stand in the back row in group pictures.

9. No negotiating with the clinic nurse about that weigh-in before appointments.

10 I'm feeling great.


Kids grow up. A harried parent of young children might think, not soon enough some days but trust me, there are times you will wish you could turn back the clock.
Last evening our son, the college senior, called saying he was buying a new suit. Recruiters were coming to a Career Fair and he had updated his resume but needed to dress professionally. This is the first professional job he has sought. We gave him some advice on where to shop and he called after he had purchased a new suit and shirt. His girlfriend helped him make the selection. I told him to have her take a picture and email it to me. The picture just arrived. Doesn't he look smart? He is a young scientist. Will this outfit impress prospective employers? Not to worry, this is Andy in his Halloween costume--think Don Johnson in Miami Vice. He assures me he has cut his hair and the new suit is charcoal with a pinstripe. Gotcha.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tired of Delays in Airline Travel ? Try This.

You should watch this video. My son in-law who used to race will enjoy it. It reminded me of how my husband drove our rented Audi on the Autobahn. Drove it fast. Drove me crazy. After all I was an ER nurse who saw damaged bodies from crashes. Someone who had driven in Germany reminded me they don't have to worry about response times of paramedics when those cars crash on the autobahn. The cars disintegrate. No survivors. I finally relaxed a bit knowing I was toast when he drove 125 MPH, but if we crashed when he slowed to 100 MPH in response to my nagging (actually screaming) I was toast anyway. Need for speed. Not my need for speed, it is a guy thing.

Monday, November 5, 2007


We reserved a beach condo yesterday on Fort Myers Beach, Florida for the second week in December. We usually "travel", not staying in one place very long. After renting a house in Key West with friends for a week two years ago, we realized that is a more relaxing way to go. We are looking forward to some gorgeous sunsets (beach faces west toward the gulf) and relaxing days. After I retired I stopped at work to visit and mentioned we were going on vacation. I got grief from one of the Docs who informed me that you can't go on vacation when you don't work. Vacation from what? It is all vacation. Yup, it is, but Florida looks good as it gets colder.

Parenting 101

I attended a baby shower yesterday for a young lady we have watched grow from a gangly, long legged girl into a beautiful young lady. She married last year and is now ripely pregnant with their firstborn. We played ice breaker shower games and then were asked to write a serious piece of advice about child rearing on a note card for the soon to be new mom. Great idea. Among those attending were relatives, long time friends of Kelly's mother, and a lot of church people. I knew the bunch from church were a pretty fun loving group and soon picked up the grandma-be's friends were just as light hearted. Wondering what kind of wisdom she was going to glean from this mess of moms, I asked the group what they had written. We never got past the first one, her mother's advice; "Always be sure you have the child's carseat actually attached to the car." The mother then told her tale of not properly securing her first child's carseat and having to stop quickly on the freeway. Baby (still in the carseat) tipped over face down in the backseat. ) I asked if there was a sign that said, "BABY USED TO BE ON BOARD". All was well in spite of the mishap, except for one distraught mother. This spurred stories of traveling with children years ago. With our first three children there were no safety carseats. Everyone had a booster type car seat that sat on the bench seat of the car. No restraint. This just elevated the kid so they could see out the window and made it easier for the parent who placed the kid and seat in the middle of the front seat to attend to the child. The trifecta of safety violations: an unrestrained child, in the front seat (up high), and a distracted driver who reached for fallen pacifiers and toys or dug graham crackers out of her purse. It is amazing so many of our children survived. Another horror story was told by an older mom who said her nieces and nephews always traveled standing on the front seat. When she took them she insisted they sit down. No seat belts and air bags weren't invented yet. On one trip a child opened the front door as she turned a corner. I guess child safety locks weren't standard either at that time. On auto trips our three kids often stood on the back seat to see. Another person I know remembers a sibling who would sleep in the back window of the family car. My husband would sit our oldest son on his lap when he was about two and let him steer the car. (Done on back roads at a slower speed).

Last week NBC evening news did a segment on "The Nanny State". Some think our government has passed too many laws trying to protect children. Playing dodge ball or tag on the playground is not allowed in some states. There are many protective laws raising questions about whether we are allowing our children to enjoy their childhood. Some people even put a car restraint on the family dog. The people who authored these laws must have heard about some of the mothers at the shower.

Kelly better let someone take a look at some of the other bits of advice given before implementing them.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Love Stories

Everyone has life stories to tell and there is a movement to have older people record their memories. What happened in your life between birth and death? Those dates are all that will be on your tombstone. Last summer I wrote my memories of my childhood and my relationship to my sister. Ripples have spread out and energized my brother in-law's family to begin recording their history. With their mother's recent death, his family is probably more introspective and more memories surfaced.
What surprised me about writing my story was with time harsh memories soften and good memories sweeten. I tried to force feed the book to my grown children but realized they will be more interested in years to come when they are my age trying to make sense of life.
A couple days ago I had a younger cousin die suddenly. In the past year I have seen many old friends, some work friends, die. About half were younger than I am. Several died unexpectedly. I hope they told their stories, or someone they love recorded their thoughts about them.
I was listening to MPR this week when they were playing excerpts from the Storycorps project. It was a project that used a recording booth in Grand Central Station train depot to allow everyday people to tell their stories in a limited time. They have over 16,000 stories catalogued and have now published a book. Many New Yorkers impacted by 9-11 are included. The tales vary. If you have never heard of it, browse the site of the link below. My favorite that they played on the radio was the love story of Danny and Annie. It was a good reminder to be thoughtful and kind and loving everyday to those we can easily take for granted in our family.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Time Travel

In Remembrance

On Sept. 28 I blogged about visiting my aunt, the only surviving sister of mom's six sisters, in a nearby small Wisconsin town. I hadn't seen her for a few years. Since she had moved in recently within the town, we were unsure of her address. Plum City is a tiny town of just hundreds and we were pretty confident we could find her by asking locals. On the way we stopped at the cheese factory in Ellsworth, the next town. Leaving, we were surprised to be stopped by my cousin John and his wife who spotted us. That is Aunt Marcella's son. It was good to see him and his wife. He is newly retired and they were in their RV headed for a weekend camping trip with their kids and grandkids. He gave us directions to his mom's (Aunt Marcella) house and her phone number. Then they called ahead and we were greeted by my aunt as we got out of the car.

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from my mom's younger brother's wife. "I have bad news", she said. I thought of Aunt Marcella. Yesterday was her 86th birthday. "No, John died suddenly", she said. He was 60. He was found "down", no cause of death known, but his father died of heart problems in his early 50's. That family has had such sadness. Two of John's younger brothers had wives who died from cancer several years ago. One was in her 40's and left an elementary-aged son. His younger sister has lymphoma. Now his death. It struck me again when I last saw him how much he looked and sounded like his dad.

I notified my sister who reminded me his name was John Wayne. Born in 1947, a good strong name for a firstborn son. He was also a quiet man. Responsible. Friendly, but quiet. Tall, handsome, deep voice. A tribute to his dad and his namesake John Wayne. His career was management at the nuclear power plant in Red Wing. He seemed a good fit for the job. Serious. Trustworthy. A good son and father and husband. Sadly he died too young, like the other John Wayne.

Friday, November 2, 2007


An uplifting daybrightner. A father's love letter--Watch video with audio on.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Happiness Is a Warm Puppy

A warm puppy and a snuggly baby. It was a "Three Dog Night" last night. Temp was predicted to drop to 29. Without central heat, or a good goose down comforter, it would take three dogs to keep you warm in bed. I started the oven cleaning cycle on my range when I got up and am toasty warm in the kitchen as I do my blog.

The "happiness is a warm puppy" thing originates with Charles Schultz. A new biography is out. PBS did a special with his biographer. He paints a picture of a deeply introspective, sometimes depressed man. Maybe he had his problems emotionally but left a wonderfully warm legacy of Snoopy and Charlies Brown and friends.

My husband's father (also an artist, sometime cartoonist) was a friend of Charles Schultz. Roman gave him his first job in the art world and Sparky showed his gratitude his whole life. The job was a minor job doing the lettering for the bubbles in a cartoon strip, but at the time encouraged the young Schultz that his dreams could come true. He gives credit to Romie in his autobiography. They talked from time to time on the phone. We have photos taken of the two of them and sometimes someone else in our family with Sparky. When my mother in-law and sister in-law were sick, he sent an original art cartoon of Snoopy with a personal message. To our disgrace, we sold them. It is a hot market for those collectables.

What I will remember about the kindness of Mr. Schultz are the calls he made to cheer up my father in-law in his final years. Romie was depressed too, but a call from old friend Sparky did a lot to brighten his day. Now we know he probably did not feel very cheerful himself. It says a lot about looking past oneself and reaching out to others. Share the love and if you have a warm puppy be thankful and maybe share him with someone too.