Easter 1977: The year before we blended flowers and plaid.
The year that at least one of us didn’t want his photo taken in suspender shorts.
Posted in Family, Photographs, tagged cursive writing, family, farm, grandfather, grandmother, grandparents, homemade keychain, keychain, keys, knickknacks, padlock, pawpaw, pawpaw, photograph, spelling on October 10, 2012 | Leave a Comment »
My mother collected this keychain from my grandmother’s house last year. I had made it for my grandfather in, I don’t know, maybe fourth or fifth grade. It bears evidence of my tragic attempts at cursive writing, which honestly has only degraded over the years.
And Papa should be spelled Pawpaw. I have yet to actually picture it spelled the correct way in my head, however. (We all picture words spelled out in our heads, right?)
Am I impressed that Pawpaw kept this knickknack for some 20 years? Sure. But it’s easy to just toss little things like this into the top drawer and never happen upon them again.
The attached keys are what’s really impressive. At one time, somewhere on that reasonably sized farm, was a padlock that could be opened only by hauling out the keychain that I made.
Knowing that my grandfather held on to this item for so long gives me warm fuzzies. Knowing that he actually found it semi-useful simply thrills my inner utilitarian.
Posted in Do One Thing, Home, tagged brother, do one, duvet, duvet cover, family, garage, garage organization, guest bedroom, home, husband, kitchen organization, mother-in-law, Nashville, pantry, postaday2011, Target, Volkswagen Vanagon on March 11, 2011 | 1 Comment »
Day 65: Finally hung up the curtain rod for the long-suffering wall hanging that we’ve owned for years. It came into our possession when my husband bought a Volkswagen Vanagon back in the late 1990s. (Apparently, it’s traditional to include a gift when you sell a Vanagon — the husband left a waterbed mattress in one that he sold before we were married.)
Anyway, it doesn’t really go with anything, but it doesn’t really NOT go with anything, either. It’s handmade and unique, and I love the stylized creatures that now brighten the upstairs hallway.
Also this week:
Day 63: Made an epic find at Target. I was planning to buy a duvet and duvet cover for the guest bedroom, since I’ve found that combination imminently easier to care for than a comforter, bedspread or quilt. With the mother-in-law set to arrive later this month, it was finally time to ditch the cat-hair-laden comforter.
Anyway, I found the EXACT items I was looking for in the clearance section for half price. Woot!
Day 64: Attempted, yet again, to move the garage shelf, only to find that there was a HUGE, unwieldy pile of green wire for the robotic mower blocking the way. I spent a good 30 minutes untangling the wire and wrapping it around an empty paper towel tube.
Can it be unwrapped easily without retangling itself? I don’t care.
Day 66: Finally managed to move the garage shelf into its new place without getting hit in the head with the surfboard again or finding another tragic tangle of green wire.
Day 67: Cleared a few things out of the kitchen pantry, including a canister of breadcrumbs that expired in April 2010. It’s rather amazing how things accumulate so quickly in there.
Days 68 and 69: I spent these two days driving to Nashville, hanging out with my brother at work and then hanging out while he had knee surgery, and then driving back. Family trumps home improvement, every time.
Posted in Eats, Family, Home, Uncategorized, tagged bread, burgers, cats, Christmas, cooking, Costco, Earth Fare, family, flattery, food, Foreman Grill, George Foreman grill, grilled cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, Havarti, holidays, honey mustard, hot dogs, husband, lunch, mother, olive bread, panini, panini maker, PB&J, postaday2011, sandwiches, waffle maker on January 3, 2011 | 2 Comments »
The husband and I have owned a George Foreman Grill for the better part of our marriage. (Actually, we’re on our second grill. The cats broke the first one about 10 years ago.) We used to cook burgers on it; its sole use lately has been to sear the occasional hot dog.
Last year, I saw a couple of comments on food blogs recommending the Foreman Grill as a fast, cheap panini maker. It makes sense: The device is, after all, simply two heavy sheets of metal that press together.
I made grilled cheese sandwiches with it. Blah. The only bread I tend to keep around is some brand or another of wheat bread, the kind that doesn’t go bad in four days since I don’t actually EAT bread every day, and the husband tends to like a PB&J on the weekends. It didn’t grill very well, Foreman Grill or not, partially because it didn’t really fit on the grill (it’s a smaller model).
Enter Earth Fare. Heading to the checkout one day, I saw a display of bread that stopped me in my tracks, bread that looked like it had been freshly made just to fit on the Foreman Grill.
I made an experimental sandwich when I got home, smearing honey mustard on two slices and bundling a small bundle of ham and cheese in between. Best panini ever.
When Mom was here for Christmas, the only kind of bread Earth Fare had left was two loaves speckled with pieces of olives. Best panini ever. (And I realize I have to stop saying that or my credibility is going to be shot.)
For lunch today, I grilled the last two pieces with a couple of slices of Havarti from Costco. Perfection.
More perfection: Mom texted me yesterday to let me know she had switched the plates out on her waffle maker to make sandwiches like mine. Ingenious.
Posted in Eats, Photographs, Travel, tagged Atlanta, Ben & Jerry's, Big Wheel, biscuits, brother, childhood, cooking, cream cheese icing, dogs, exploration, family, farm, grandchildren, grandfather, grandmother, ice, ice cream, ice cream freezer, Irwin Street Market, Jake's Ice Cream, kitchen, Lowe Mill, Nutella, pie crust, potatoes, red velvet cake, strawberries, woods on October 21, 2010 | 1 Comment »
When I was a child, a visit to my grandparents was a magical event. They had a farm with gardens, cows, tractors and sometimes even horses. My brother and I were transformed into free-range children, loosed to explore the edge of the woods, climb big hills of red clay and ride the Big Wheel up and down grassy slopes, dodging excited dogs and fallen tree branches along the way.
The food was also an adventure. I can’t think of my grandmother without picturing her in the kitchen, mixing biscuits by hand, cutting up potatoes or rolling out a pie crust.
One of the culinary experiences we looked forward to the most was homemade ice cream. My grandmother always kept one of those old-fashioned hand-crank wooden barrels on the back porch; once it was deemed hot enough outside, she would make a ton of ice (or get someone to pick up a couple of bags on the way back from town), gather the salt, make the ice cream base and prep the grandkids for hard labor.
Because if we wanted ice cream so badly, we were going to have to work for it, turning the crank until the mixture thickened so much that we our little arms just couldn’t turn it anymore and our grandfather had to come to our rescue and finish the job for us.
The ice cream always came out thick and delicious, not as firm as it would be after a couple of hours in the freezer, but good enough to eat without having to wait. And while we were good kids, waiting for ice cream after all that work was not on our list of things to do.
Fast forward to the late 1990s, when I my husband gifted me with an electric ice cream freezer. I was disappointed when my first batch emerged from the canister not merely soft, but soupy. When the second and third batches did the same thing, I packed the freezer away and gave up.
(Yes, you can buy hand-crank ice cream freezers, but they make way more ice cream than two people [these two people, anyway] can eat, and we don’t have any readily available child labor.)
I was on the verge of tossing the freezer a couple of years ago when I gave it one more chance and it redeemed itself with a recipe for strawberry ice cream from the Ben & Jerry’s recipe book. Alas, that’s the only ice cream recipe that emerges from the maker ready to eat.
I’m ready to give it another go, however, because the Red Velvet ice cream from Jake’s Ice Cream in Atlanta is everything I’ve tried to accomplish in homemade ice cream and more. It was like a fresh piece of cake, cream cheese icing and all, mashed up in a scoop of ice cream. Only it had all been frozen together at once, without the cake drying out or freezing into crunchy, unsatisfying bits.
We visited the Irwin Street Market location of Jake’s, a former warehouse housing several creative food vendors. The building’s got kind of a Lowe Mill feel, for any Huntsvillians reading, only on a smaller scale.
The husband had the Nutella flavor, which I don’t even SEE on the menu. Jake must spend his days dreaming up awesome new flavors. I want Jake’s job.
Anyway, I’m trying to decide whether to dump a measure of red velvet cake and cream cheese icing into my unpredictable (or, I guess, quite predictable) ice cream maker or just mash some cake and ice cream together toddler birthday party style. It’s a win either way, right?
I finished a crafting project and only blistered one finger with the glue gun! This is epic, you guys.
My mom brought me several of my late grandmother’s pins earlier this summer. I have my doubts that my grandmother actually ever wore most of these pins, as they lean toward the sparkly and the offbeat, while my grandmother leaned in the opposite direction.
Still, they were hers. Or, at least, they were given to her and she kept them for a long time and now they’re mine.
I’ve gotten tired lately of hiding my treasures in boxes. Fun jewelry deserves a fun display. One day in early August, I was walking through my favorite thrift store, A New Leash on Life Marketplace, and while I was digging through a box of old, beat-up frames, it hit me: 3D pin frames. My husband would later call this wondrous idea a “pin cushion.”
I purchased a few of the smaller frames and went to work. First, the frames had to be painted, because I do not get along with gold and bronze accessories. Black seemed like the color to best offset bright silver jewelry. I had fun with a wooden frame that features highly stylized scrollwork, layering red, then silver, then black for a unique finish.
The hard part was next. I bought your garden-variety pillow stuffing and some black cloth. I glued three edges of the cloth to the little piece of cardboard that goes between the frame and the glass, stuffed it with stuffing until it reached my visualized shape and glued the fourth side down. Finally, I crammed the cushion into the frame opening.
It took more maneuvering to get the pins into the cushions than I had imagined, and I had to thread a tiny piece of invisible thread around the tops of the pins to keep them from tilting forward, but overall I’m calling it a successful project. Glue gun injuries aside.
I don’t even know what to call this piece of furniture. Spice cabinet? Spice drawers? During its long tenure in my grandmother’s house, it was simply the blue drawers in the hallway; for adults, the holder of telephone books, for kids, the source of puzzles and books, pencils and paper.
I brought it home after my grandmother’s funeral last week, stuffing it into my tiny car along with a few photographs and a handful of handwritten recipes from the bottom kitchen drawer.
I asked for this piece long ago (my grandmother had been assigning artifacts to children and grandchildren alike for nearly three decades), choosing it over the fancier formal china cabinet that resided in the den and didn’t match my personality or decorating style any more than pineapple-topped bedposts.
Seriously, what’s with the pineapple-topped bedposts?
It’s in my office now, slightly cleaner thanks to a brief encounter with Murphy’s Oil Soap, but still bearing evidence of its age. Rather than puzzles and phone books, it holds the essentials of a perpetual graduate student. Mostly, though, it just holds memories, and I’m grateful that my husband maneuvered it into my car with mere inches to spare.