It seems like there are infinite combinations when it comes to pizza. I'm not talking about what you have on the pizza, but with you have WITH it.
Take my friend Jean for instance. Her husband is a chef. When they have pizza it's an ordeal. First of all, her hubby MAKES the pizza from scratch. But before he does that, he first gets out his big soup pot. Yup, pizza night for them means homemade chicken soup comes first.
When I was growing up, pizzas were few and far between. The only place around us that made pizza was a little hole in the wall called Chicken Delight. (And as you might guess, the pizza wasn't very good--but what did we know--we hadn't had much to compare with--except for that rubber monstrosity they made at school with was 90% uncooked dough, 8% bad sauce, and 2% rubber cheese.)
As a kid there were three things to drink in the house: pop, Kool-Aide or milk. I got used to drinking milk with my pizza and still do to this day. A nice, Tall, FROSTY glass of (skim) milk.
Hubby says it makes him want to puke.
He, on the other hand, either has a beer or a glass of scotch (unless we're reheating it at lunchtime and then he drinks--ick--Gatorade).
It's a running gag on commercials, TV shows, and in comics that men hog the TV remote. We buck the trend in this house. The truth is, we don't watch all that much network TV. I'm pretty sure my husband has no idea which remote even turns on the TV. That's not surprising, since we have five remotes sitting on the coffee table.
Yup, five. One is for the TV. One is for the DVD. One is for the DVD/VHS machine. One is for the DVD that we use as a CD player, and one is for the amplifier we use WITH that DVD player. Three of them are black, and two of them are gray. I must admit that on more than one occasion I've picked up the wrong gray one trying to get the DVD player to play, only to discover I'm using the wrong one.
Talk about a Homer Simpson moment!
I pretty much take care of all of these machines. (And hook them up as they come and go. For some reason, we have gone through a LOT of VHS and DVD machines. And it's not like we jump on them or anything.) Some of these remotes are really cool, and one of them (the newest one) doesn't even have a power button. (What's with that?) To turn on the machine, you have to bend down and press the power button--not easy to do when your like my hubby and have two artificial knees. (That's where I come in. I'm really good at pressing buttons--no brag, just fact.)
But lately I've noticed that the TV remote is getting cranky. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. We bought the set soon after we moved into our house, so it's at least 17 years old. It's a Sony and the picture is just as good today as it was when we bought it. (I still have my first Sony TV and only stopped using it when digital replaced analog TV. I should hook it up to a DVD player and watch movies while I cook. Hmmm...yet another remote?) When flipping channels, you can go from channel 3 up--but you can't go from channel 23 down. You can punch in any number you want, but that gets to be a pain after a while. (Gosh, am I spoiled, or what?)
Anyway, I'm concerned that the TV will far outlive the remote--then what will we do? Will I have to actually get up and cross the room to change the channel one day, or will I have to get a universal remote that I can't figure out how to use?
When I learned to cook, I was a part of a family of five. Therefore, I usually make enough food to feed an army. Unfortunately, we're just two people with a small fridge. When we replaced our refrigerator several years ago we figured, hey, what do we need a full-sized one for?
What were we thinking?
Right now there are about seven hundred bottles and jars of condiments in our refrigerator. I also keep my oatmeal (by the sack) and and flour in the fridge, because that keeps it from sprouting bugs. (You know they're there--but why invite them to hatch?) Then there's the BIG vat of hubby's coffee. And now there're Thanksgiving leftovers balanced on top of everything else.
When we first got married, hubby refused to eat any leftovers. He's changed his mind. (And I didn't even have to beat him senseless for him to adapt to this new way of thinking.)
I happen to LOVE leftovers. Usually the flavors are enhanced by the aging process. I love going weeks and weeks eating leftovers for lunch. I can go for months, even years, without resorting to peanut butter and jelly.
What will I have for lunch today? (I've got a feeling that turkey will be part of that meal.) How about you?
It's that time of year when the grocery store fills its seasonal aisle with all kinds of red, green, gold and sparkly stuff. I'm not immune to a little bit of glitter and love to walk that aisle and soak it all in. (Knowing I have no more room to add any more to my already stuffed-full closets. Ah, well . . .)
Next to the sparkly aisle were shelves of seasonal delights for the taste buds. Everything you need for your holiday meals. Of course, I'd been waiting weeks to buy more cans of jellied cranberry sauce. Unlike most of the rest of the country, I use the stuff year round. And the minute the holiday season is over, the sale price goes off and the "real" price goes back on. That real price is 50 cents more per can than what I have to pay in November and December and I decided to stock up.
But wait. As I went to grab the can I turned to Mr. Ivy and said, "Does this can look stubby to you?" (Stubby as in SHORT?) "No, I'm sure it's the same as it always was."
Sure enough, we got it home and took out other standard cans from the pantry and guess what. The standard can of cranberry sauce (and it's not just the store brand--even Ocean Spray) is now 2 ounces less than it was just a couple of weeks ago. I noticed in the "regular" aisle they still have the standard sized cans and they're still the REAL price.
Well, I'm still going to stock up on the cans because let's face it, I love the stuff. And I put it on roast chicken throughout the year. They tried to pull one over on me and didn't succeed. But I'm still missing 2 ounces of cranberry sauce with every can.
What trick has a manufacturer played on you lately?
You expect some things in life to always remain the same. If there's a coolant leak, and the warp core is about to blow on the Enterprise, somehow you know that Geordi LaForge is going be able to fix it every time. Either that, or the ship will enter a time loop and give Geordi another shot at it tomorrow. ("Cause and Effect" one of my favorite Next Gen episodes.)
But things don't always remain the same.
Take my latest venture to the grocery store. I've been avoiding the olive bar for months. Why? Germs. I read where people sneeze on olive, salad, hot food bars, and spread cold and flue germs and then you're on your back for two weeks, or, in some cases DEAD. Being a chicken through and through, I avoid all such food areas and their temptations when the weather turns cold.
But let's face it, last year the whole H1H1 flu thing was blown out of proportion, and the other day I decided that the time had come for some delightful kalamata olives. They're so awful, they're good! So, gathering my courage, I picked up the industrial sized spoon and scooped up half a cup of them.
Since I arrived home just in time for lunch, I piled a bunch of them next to my ham and Swiss sandwich and sat down for my favorite meal of the day, popped one in my mouth and -- ugh! What's that inside? A pit? No--it wasn't hard enough. But it did sort of go CRUNCH when I wasn't expecting it.
Hubby bit into his first olive, and was surprised by a crunch, too. Hmm. Our olives weren't bad, but they didn't quite taste the same. We decided, whatever they'd stuffed them with, we didn't like it. So we carefully chewed around the next "soft pit" and spat it out.
The olives were not a hit. But they weren't exactly cheap, so about a week later, I decided I really should try and eat them. Hubby and I ate the exact same lunch -- except, I added olives to mine.
You just know where this story is going, right?
Can you say SICK AS A DOG?
So when I hit the grocery store the other day, I decided to see just what those olives where stuffed with. Turns out it's garlic. Now, I happen to LOVE garlic, but not in the middle of a kalamata olive. And the store isn't offering any other way to buy them.
I guess I won't be buying kalamata olives for a long time.
Don't you hate it when someone messes with a perfectly good recipe and spoils it for you? When was the last time that happened to you -- and what did someone ruin?
You can ask anyone in my family: I have a memory like a sieve. I can never remember what I've done with my gloves, keys, hat, purse, phone . . . you name it, I've lost it.
After years of putting up with this, my husband has finally come up with an explanation. He says I'm not so much careless as I just don't pay attention where I leave things. He likened my losing stuff to a snake, shedding its skin. I'll have my keys in my hand and put them down, with no thought as to what I'm doing (usually because my head is full of Tommyrot). And then, when I need them, I have no conscious memory of what I did with them.
That sounds reasonable . . . most of the time.
Take my hammer, for instance. (Doesn't everybody have a tool box of their very own? Mine is a former fishing tackle box. Inside I have screwdrivers, an awl, a small hammer (used, $1 at a yard sale--you can't buy a small hammer like this anywhere, I know--I've tried.) I've been looking for my hammer for weeks. Why? I wanted to move the nail that holds my calendar over 2 inches so I could see Sunday. (Weird calendar, has a BIG section for notes on the right side, so Sunday was hiding behind my monitor screen.)
For at least three days I searched the house high and low for that hammer and then I tried to remember when I'd last used it. Aha! When taking down the Christmas lights three weeks ago. (We nail in these little metal holders that keep the cord for the wreath from dangling in the snow.) Sure enough, I'd "shed" the hammer in the garage, where it still sat.
Of course, that doesn't help me for things like my brand new set of car keys. The day I bought the car, I had a terrible cold. I did not feel like going to the dealer to pick it up--but had no choice. I drove the car home, shed the keys . . . and they've never turned up since. (The fact that that ring had all my OTHER keys on it, too, and the "smart" key to my husband's car which costs $100, made it a pain to replace. And BTW, he won't shell out the $100 for another key because I'd just lose that. And he's right. I've lost two more sets of keys since 2005.) I still maintain those keys are somewhere in this house (uh . . . five years later). Hubby maintains they've been at the local landfill for all but a day of that time.
Even though it's not New Year's and I don't make resolutions, I'm going to try NOT to shed things and make a conscious decision to put things away where I know I will find them again.
I can't be the only person around who is appalled at the cost of greeting cards. What used to cost a dollar or so, now costs at least $4 to wish your friends or loved ones a Happy Birthday, Anniversary, Thank You, or just to send a Thinking Of You card.
Okay, I admit it, I'm cheap. Apparently, a lot o f other people fee that way, too, because I now get (and give) many electronic cards. I've got a subscription to Jacquie Lawson's online greetings. They're wonderful animated cards that feature flowers, animals, and nature. Just wonderful.
But there are still occasions when I want to send a REAL greeting card. The cards I send out the most are Thank You cards. I get the majority of them at yard sales and most of them are blank cards, You name it, I probably have a blank card on it. Flowers, cats, dogs, fairies, I must have 200-300 blank cards. (It's always tough to choose.) But for Birthday Cards, I usually make them myself.
I have to admit, I love to receive "made-it-myself cards." My sister in law makes gorgeous cards. She must have one of those little die cut machines. She makes all her cards and it must take hours. She uses different papers, textures, and rubber stamps with embossing ink. I always anticipate the cards she sends for holidays and birthdays.
My brother has a computer program that lets him make cards. He recently made a thank you card for someone and wondered if he was going to look "cheap" with his DIY effort. But the words he wrote were from the heart and the card was lovely.
I'm not real "crafty," so my cards aren't all that elaborate, and I mostly give them to my immediate family. My husband set up a template in Abobe Illustrator, and I can choose the graphics and wording myself. That means the cards I make I can personalize. I like to use my own photography (like this picture I used for last year's Father's Day Card.) And I get a lot of pleasure putting these cards together. Usually, it takes between 20-40 minutes to pull one off. (Mostly because I don't do it often enough and forget how to use the program.)
I have to admit, I'm a bit of a card freak. I save them. In fact, I have every birthday card I've received since age eight. I keep holiday cards. My favorite Christmas card is from my Grandfather, who's been gone more than 26 years now. Every year, I take out the last card he sent me and put it up with the current year's holiday greetings. I look at his handwriting and I miss him, but because I have that card--he's still with me.
Maybe I'm a nut to hang onto these cards, but they don't take up that much room, and it's nice to revisit those happy occasions when someone thought of me.
USA Today has a sidebar feature called Snapshots where they'll give a cute little graphic and some kind of statistical data. A while back, they featured a survey on cookies.
I guess it should come as no surprise that the chocolate chip cookie was the favorite--by a whopping 53%. Yeah, I like chocolate chip cookies, and prefer the homemade variety (of which there seem to be about a million variations). For my money, the very best recipe comes right off the Nestles morsels package. Yup, the good old Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie. If I'm making chocolate chip cookies (which I do only about every other year), there's no reason to try another recipe. This one comes out perfect every time. (No lie!)
Next up, was the peanut butter cookie at 16%. I happen to have the perfect recipe for that one, too. It was given to me by a friend of my parents. I must have been ten at the time, so for her to take the time to write out that recipe and give it to me meant a lot. And the fact that I'm still making that version (mumble, mumble, mumble) years later, is a testament to the quality of that recipe.
I was disappointed that my favorite cookie, oatmeal (no mention of raisins and walnuts) came in at #3 with 15% of the vote. Oddly enough, I don't have a favorite version of this recipe. For years I made the version listed in my Betty Crocker cookbook (okay, mostly I ate the raw cookie dough--but those days are long gone), but it's not the best. I've never really found the ultimate oatmeal cookie recipe, but I have discovered that commercially made oatmeal cookies are generally horrible, and any homemade oatmeal cookie recipe is bound to be infinitely better. (And if you've got a great recipe, please share it.)
Next up on the list: sugar and/or shortbread with 11% of the vote. I love shortbread, and have made a sugar cookies, but must admit not often. (I think because I may have singed the shortbread. I need to buck up my courage and give it another try, as I'm going to feature the recipe in my first Victoria Square Mystery.)
What I found amazing was that the "other" category was only 5%. Does that mean that Oreos are NOT America's favorite cookie? (Does Nabisco know this?)
Lately, I've watched a bunch of old movies that I love. One in particular I watched at least four or five times: Superman. Yes, the Christopher Reeve (1st) Superman picture. I've always loved that movie. I liked the first part with Jor-El, I LOVED the second part in Smallville (the cinematography is breathtaking--who could forget that wonderful scene in the wheat field?), and also loved the Metropolis stuff, too. (I wasn't too keen on the scenes with Ned Beatty. I couldn't imagine why a the "greatest criminal mind of our time" would have such a buffoon working for him.)
Even though I never liked Superman II -- I figured, what the heck, and bought a used copy. I watched it once and remembered why I never liked the film. It was dumb (and half of Gene Hackman's dialogue was looped by another actor, and it's REALLY obvious). All of Margot Kidder's close-ups look like they were filmed through heavy gauze--the focus is that soft. Overall, the story just didn't work for me.
I knew that the original director, Richard Donner, had filmed scenes for both Superman and Superman II, but had been replaced on the second film, even though he'd shot more than half the movie. Something like that never bodes well. About the only time it worked well was on the Wizard of Oz (right?).
I decided to look up the movies on Wikipedia and was surprised to find that, due to fan appeals, Warner Brothers had released Superman II, The Richard Donner Cut, in 2006. Whoa! I had to have that. Once again, I bought a used copy and waited.
About 10 days later, it arrived and I put it in my DVD player and nothing happened. I tried it in my computer -- and nothing happened. I tried my other DVD player and . . . you got it . . . nothing happened. It turns out, it was an HD version of the film. I contacted the seller and was happily surprised that not only did he tell me to return it, he refunded my money within the HOUR! (You better believe I left nice comments for him via Amazon.)
But I still wanted to see that movie. So . . . I bought another one (this time making sure it wasn't an HD version).
Whoa! What a difference. I've now watched it twice (in 24 hours--the movie with and without the director's commentary) and while at least 75-80 of the film is the same, that 20-25 percent that was in the general (bastardized) release was not good. Instead of featuring Marlon Brando as Jor-El (they scrapped the footage), the theatrical release instead featured Suzannah York (Lara--Superman's mother) as Kal-El's mentor. I'm all for strong female stories, but there's no denying that the father-son relationship (established in the first movie) was far stronger. (After all, Lara had virtually NOTHING to do in the first movie.) And there were other big changes, as well.
No kidding, the Donner cut comes off as a totally different movie. And a much better one, too. I'm probably going to resell my copy of the original Superman II -- why would I ever want to watch it again when the Richard Donner cut is so superior?
Has anybody else ever seen this version of the movie? If so--what do you think?
Okay, so it's November 16th and I've been decking the halls all week.
Okay, not literally. I have not put up one Christmas decoration. Then again, I really don't need to. I have over 200 Christmas figures from the 1940s-1960s in a cabinet in my office. Any time I need a bit of holiday cheer, I just gaze into my cabinet and sigh. But it takes a bit more than that to get me into the holiday swing, so I've been listening to Christmas music and watching Christmas movies. Okay, I've been watching ONE Christmas movie: The Santa Clause.
Because it is so early in the holiday season (although the grocery store started hauling in the decorations back in mid-October, later than usual, I might add), I've spared my hubby from listening to the Christmas CDs with singing. But the instrumental CDs have been going for about two weeks. (I'm allowed to play the others as of Thanksgiving.)
Several years ago, I bought a piano CD from Target that I really loved. (To tell you the truth, I'm surprised it's not worn out.) I decided to buy as many piano CDs as I could after that, so now I've got quite a repertoire, for just about every occasion (and I got a bunch of them at The Dollar Tree). I've got piano music to read by. Piano music to sleep by. Piano music with rain in the background. Piano music with birds cawing. Still, I like my Christmas piano CDs the best.
I watched (or rather listened--I was busy on the computer during) The Santa Clause twice this week. My husband had been out doing an errand, walked into his office (without seeing the TV in mine next door), heard one line of obscure dialogue and said, "Are you watching The Santa Clause AGAIN?" Well, I couldn't lie. There was the evidence (the empty DVD cover) sitting on top of my printer.
I'd never been a Tim Allen fan (couldn't stand his TV show), but I love this movie. The story of how the love of a little boy turns a not-so-great Dad into Santa. Sniff. (Did I mention that I love sappy stuff like that?)
I've got six more weeks of the Christmas season left to keep enjoying movies (hey, I've still got The Santa Clause II and III to go through, Elf, A Christmas Story, Polar Express, White Christmas, Charlie Brown Christmas and Rudolph, too), CDs, and did I mention the 30 or more coffee table and recipe books I have based on the season?
Okay, I'm a glutton for all things Christmas. How about you?
Years ago, Mr. Ivy and I traveled to Colonial Williamsburg for a much-needed vacation. While there, we stopped at one of the little places tucked behind one of the historical homes and bought a snack of Queen's Cake.
Yum yum! As I remember it was very much like pound cake, but a lot lighter, possibly lemony, with poppy seeds. I say possibly because it's probably been twenty or more years since I tasted it. As I wasn't a pound cake fan, I was hoping I'd be able to find the recipe.
No such luck.
Every once in a while I go online and search for Williamsburg Queen's Cake. I've found a couple of recipes, but none of them have poppyseeds.
Okay, I admit it, I'm not about to start experimenting in the kitchen to try to come up with a vague facsimile. Reason? Well, there's just the two of us, and someone has got to eat all those baking attempts, and Mr. Lorna and I simply can't afford the calories.
But when I think back to that trip, and that bright, HOT, sunny day when we drank lemonade and ate Queen's cake, I'd love to have just one more bite.
Have you sampled a taste sensation you enjoyed but can't replicate?
As you know, I brake for yard sales. This summer I started collecting movies on DVD that were new and old to me. I figured they'd be fun to watch on a cold, windy day somewhere down the line.
One sale had about a gazillion old movies. The kind you get at the dollar store for ... a dollar. They were selling them for a quarter so I figured--what the heck and bought a couple. One of them is The Little Princess starring Shirley Temple.
These cheapie DVDs come in cardboard sleeves and tend to get lost on my DVD shelf. (Lately DVDs seem to be pushing the books out of the way.) Therefore, Shirley has been sitting on the shelf by my computer for at least a month now looking at me with her kid eyes and I can hear her sad voice say, "When are you going to play me?"
Well, let's see. I've already read the book once this year. And I saw a movie that was out a couple of years ago. (Got it and The Secret Garden for a steal from Amazon.) So, the Shirley Temple version of The Little Princess has not been on the top of my to-be-watched list. Not when I'm going through Star Trek Voyager for a second time and realizing how many I missed the first time around. (Wow--that's fun!)
I'm thinking that a cold, windy, SNOWY day in February will go well with the suffering poor Sarah Crew has to withstand in her attic garret. So, sorry, Shirley, you've got a wait on your hands.
Maybe I'll turn the DVD over so I won't have to see her little imploring eyes.
What movie is on your list to watch on a cold, snowy day some time in the future?
Ever since I gave up my booth at the local antique co-Op, I've had a hankering to open an Etsy online shop. The problem is, I'm not crafty. I had a lot of linens left over from my booth and wondered what I should do them. Ah-ha! There's my Etsy Shop!
Well, not really. I mean, the reason I gave up my booth was because I really didn't have time for it. The cleaning and repairing of merchandise, the inventory, and selling. If I opened an Etsy, I'd still have all that -- PLUS photographing and maintaining a site, plus packaging and shipping.
So for the time being, no Etsy shop for me.
But that doesn't mean I haven't been accumulating merchandise for that day. First of all, I love handwork. The effort that people put into making doilies, potholders, and dresser scarfs, and all the embroidery, tatting, etc. It's lovely. I can't bear to see the stuff end up in free boxes -- or worse yet the trash. And I can't believe how cavalierly people get rid of great grandma's chair tidies and doilies as though they were just junk. Hey, your gramma made that with her own two hands. You might not want it right now, but one day you might say, "Hey, I had something my gramma made and sold it for a quarter."
Shame on you!
Of course, not all of it is in tip-top shape, either. Stains, tears, and linens that are just plain worn out from years of use. I need to sort through everything and figure out what is good, what needs a dip in Oxy-Clean, and what should go in a scrap bag. (Hey, maybe someone more crafty than me can make it into something else.) I haven't done that yet, but every so often, I take the stuff out and look at it, which makes me smile.
Is there some project you've got simmering on the back burner for a later time?
When I was a kid, I figured I'd get married at 18 and I should be prepared. So, I started collecting recipes. I figured I'd have to feed the brute who was going to let me be a stay-at-home wife.
Well, things didn't work out that way. I went off to work and stayed single for a VERY LONG TIME. And when I finally got married, it was Mr. Ivy who did (and still does) at least 75% of the meal prep. (Mostly so he can get a decent meal, although I've gotten better at cooking in the past couple of years.)
I was poking around in the basement a couple of weeks ago and found my little recipe box. Boy, my handwriting was a LOT neater in those days. (These days I have to squint and sometimes use a magnifying glass on my handwriting to figure out what the heck I've written.) And darned if that little recipe box didn't contain 95% cakes, cookies, quick bread and muffin recipes. Yup, I've got a sweet tooth, and my baking has always been better than my cooking.
I'm ecstatic because I've found the recipe I always used for pumpkin bread. It was one of the first recipes I made all by myself. I haven't been able to make it for years before I lost the copy I had. Thank goodness it was a copy--because there's the original bad boy in that little gray file box. (I'm going to type it up and put it on the computer.)
Yesterday was grocery day and a big can of pumpkin went into the grocery cart. Got the walnuts, too. Ain't nothing like toasted pumpkin bread for breakfast. Ahhhhhh....
What's the first recipe you remember making all by yourself?
Over the summer, my fan died. One day it worked fine, the next day it was pushing up daisies. Somehow I didn't have the heart to throw it away. But, lately I've been in a "if-you-haven't-used-it-in-a year (or longer) it's-time-to-get-rid-of-it" mood, so yesterday it got walked to the curb for the trash men.
Off I went grocery shopping. But all the while I was picking stuff like kitty snacks and not-too-ripe banasas from the shelves, I was thinking about how much I loved my blue fan.
Back I came. And there sat my fan.
I bought it just after I moved into my first house. It was $25 at K-Mart and it worked great. It worked so great, I went back a month later to get another one and they didn't have the same model, but I bought one anyway. It has long since gone to fan heaven.
My Dad, who passed away last year, would never have tossed out a useful item without trying to fix it first. So, in view of all my neighbors, I retrieved my fan from the trash and brought it back inside. As I suspected, it wasn't broken at all. But it had been living near our forced-air heat run for the last 17 years and it was full of dust. (Ick--we're breathing in all that crap all winter? Oy!)
With just the first shot with the mini shop vac, it started to run again, but then I took the back off and really gave it a good clean with vacuum, compressed air, and a dust cloth. Now it runs like new.
All the time I was cleaning it I felt like my Dad was standing behind me giving me advice. And best of all--I got my beloved fan back. (Just in time to retire it for the winter. Oh well, you can't win them all, eh?)