Monday, February 28, 2011

New to my cupboard

I don't get to the antiques co-op (where I used to have a booth) too often these days, but every time I do I find some little treasure for a bargain.  Okay, the bargains there aren't as good as they are at yard sales, but one must make due until Spring returns and so do the tag sales.


Look at this little beauty.  Isn't it cute?  It's heavy restaurant China and says:

Shanango China
New Castle, Pa.

I must have a thing for chocolate mugs for I now seem to have three of them that are in regular use.


Do you have any kind of a theme going in your cupboard?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Girly Update

Pink nail polish For Valentine's Day, Mr. Ivy gave me a little package with four different nail polishes.  (Okay, I bought it and said, "You can give this to me in my Christmas stocking," but he forgot and found it in February and gave it to me for Valentine's Day.)

So, I finally broke out a bottle and for the past week I've been wearing nail polish.  Mind you, I haven't worn nail polish on my fingers for quite a while.  For one thing, I keep my nails short.  I can't type if they get long.  (Or it seems to me I make a LOT of mistakes if I wear them longer then my fingertips.)

Nail_Polish I like to see my fingers with nail polish on them, but I tried the red and thought--ick, that looks awful.  I think if you have short nails you really need to wear light colors.  So I've got on light pink with sparkles and it's quite lovely, I must say.

I keep looking at my fingers as I do stuff and for days I thought...that looks very familiar.  Why is that, and then I Saturday I knew.  Nail polished fingers remind me of my Aunt.  Lots of times she wears nail polish (or she did--I know her toenails are polished, because she showed me.  (Great color, too.))

So when I'm looking at my fingers I'm thinking of her and what a wonderful cook she is.  I've actually had to do some cooking this weekend (okay, mostly reheating but that's cooking to me) and I find myself watching my fingers.  And I'm thinking, you know, I've got the Auntie cooking genius when I wear this silly polish.  I swear the food has tasted twice as good.

Bottom line:  from now on, I'm wearing nail polish when I cook.

How about you?  Do you wear nail polish?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Eating Healthy

A member of my family was recently diagnosed with "pre-diabetes" and told to lose weight and eat healthy.  That got me thinking about how we eat, which isn't healthy enough.

Skillet For the past year, I've been trying to make changes.  First up, I've pitched several of our non-stick pans.  I'll be looking to replace them with Revereware or Farberware.  (I've already replaced the pots--now to get another skillet or two.)

But what about food?

Dried beans We eat far too much processed food.  I've been switching over to lower fat and lower sodium soups, etc., and when I went to look for a can of black beans yesterday morning, I realized I'd used the last one up. It was time to break out the bag of real, dried beans.

According to the Idaho Bean Commission:
  • Each half-cup serving of dry beans provides six to seven grams of protein, meets at least 10% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein, yet costs about 20 cents per serving.  

  • A single half-cup serving of cooked dry beans counts as one, one-ounce serving of lean meat in the USDA Food Pyramid Meat and Beans group, and as a full serving of vegetables in the Vegetables group.  (And there are LOTS of other fascinating facts up there, too.)
Crock pot I've never cooked dried beans before.  Who has time to watch a pot on the stove?  Instead, I rinsed and picked through the beans, like the package said, and tossed them into a girl's best friend:  my crockpot.

Once the beans were cooked (on high for about three hours), I figured I was ready to go.  Now to make them palatable--and that means curry paste.  Okay, that's processed, too, but there's no added sodium, and I know exactly what's in today's lunch.

We need to eat more real fruits and vegetables.  That would be easy for me -- not so easy for my husband.  But he's agreed to try.

It's a start.

P.S. Anybody got a good black bean recipe?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It's no secret that I don't like bugs.  Of any kind, but the bug that strikes to most terror in my heart is spiders.  I hate them.

Spider in web Spiders LOVE to live near water.  My friend Brenda, who lives on a big pond, told me that they spray a couple of times a year to keep the spiders at bay.  I worked with MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) for years, so I'm not fond of poisonous chemicals and what they do to people -- so spraying isn't an option in my book.  I'm very grateful for Mr. Fly Swat, and I use him often.

It really annoys me to walk into a room in my home and see a web hanging from one of the track lights and attached to the armoire/entertainment center.  Grrrrr.  I hate looking at my collection of knick-knacks and seeing cobwebs attached to them.  Didn't I just dust them a week ago and now they're back???

Ick spider Before I go to sleep, I do my nightly bug watch.  Check the corners of the ceiling and work my way to the middle.  Any spider up there had better be prepared for death, because I'm not going to sleep with one in my bedroom.

I remember one morning waking up and reaching for a tissue and there, sitting on my nightstand was a spider.  AHHHHHHHRRRRRGGGGG!!!

Last night, I couldn't sleep, so I got up to check my e-mail.  (Doesn't everyone?)  And there, smack-dab in the middle of the screen, was a SPIDER.  Usually I'd let out a little scream -- but as everyone was sleeping (husband and cats) I had to stifle my scream and just squish Mr. Spider.

My aunt wouldn't approve of this wanton killing spree.  I know spiders are good.  They eat other bugs.  But they could live Long and Happy Lives if they didn't enter my living space.  It's that simple.

Are you afraid of spiders?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wanted: One Shopping Pal

Shopping-mall Years ago, I had a friend and we did lots of cool stuff together.  This friend--oh, let's for the heck of it just call her Judy--and I used to go to the movies, attend local meetings, and SHOP.

Then she moved away.  Although I've made other friends, none of them have been shopping buddies.  I miss that.  I miss going to look at dishes, and furniture, and BOOKS, and office supplies, and music and stuff.  And the thing is, while I still love to window shop for these things, I hate doing it alone.

Lots of times I'll think about going to mall to look at china Dinnerware (not to buy, I already have a beautiful set of "good" china) and glassware.  I love walking through Macy's Home Center and seeing all the pretty patterns and baubles.  I love looking at the Egyptian Cotton sheets, and all the wonderful small appliances that I don't need or have room for in my tiny kitchen.  But I don't have anyone to share that with.

I love to go in Michael's or Joann's and look at the material, the crafts, the pictures frames, the stickers, and the candles, but usually I'm with Mr. Ivy who can't get in and out of those places fast enough.  (He can't stand the ever-present scent of potpourri.)

The only thing I don't like to shop for is clothes -- or shoes.  That's just painful.

Diner coffee Sometimes when my friend Nancy comes home to visit, we go to bookstores, but often we just sit in a restaurant and gab for hours.  We need to so some serious shopping when she comes back in April.

Until then, I'll just think about shopping.  If nothing else, it saves money.
Do you have a shopping pal?

Monday, February 21, 2011

I dot a code in da doze . . .

Neti_pot I haven't had a cold in several years--but I've got one now.  As colds go, this one isn't too bad.  On the misery scale of 1 to 10, I'd say I'm only at about 6.5.  But I'm sure it would be much higher if it wasn't for my neti pot.

If you've never used one, it can be . . . kind of disgusting.  Like when you were a kid and went swimming and water got up your nose when they made you dive into the deep end.  Ick!  Only this is kinda worse. You're actually rinsing your sinuses and cleaning them of germs and other crud.  Click on the video below if you want to learn a lot more about it.

One of the worst things about having a cold is waking up in the middle of the night and NOT being able to breathe.  I got through the night just fine.

Have you ever used a neti pot?  What's your best home remedy for the common cold?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Look out for allllllll the leftovers!

Leftovers It must be something in my genes that makes me cook gargantuan amounts of food.  There's just the two of us (and our four cats, and they prefer Friskees -- go figure!), but you'd think by the amount of food we prepare that we were contemplating feeding an army.

I've got a couple of really good crockpot recipes that makes enough food to feed the masses.  Mr. Ivy makes a mean chili, and a fantastic sausage/pasta/cheese/broccoli rabe concoction that is out of this world.  The problem is, these dishes also make tons of leftovers.  Now I happen to like leftovers.  I like them for lunch, dinner -- and a time or two, I've even eaten them for breakfast.  Mr. Ivy will eat leftovers once, then it's up to me to finish them off.  Hey, I'm brave and strong.  I can handle that.

Lasagna Last week I had a hankering for lasagna.  This time, I made it in two separate pans so that I could give a third of it to my parents (so they wouldn't have to cook), and we had two dinners ourselves.  And we froze two more.  Ahhh, nothing like homemade lasagna.

I love it when we have roasted chicken because you can make so many Chicken second and third meals out of it.  There's just plain cold chicken; chicken pot pie; tika masala, and my favorite, chicken salad on a bed of lettuce for lunch.  We have had chicken tacos, but not often enough.  (Note to self ...)

And of course, my favorite leftover of all is turkey.  Turkey soup Since my family members aren't big turkey fans, every Thanksgiving I can count on getting the carcass.  I can make all the same food I can with leftover chicken, plus the added bonus of turkey soup.  (And have you ever had turkey waldorf salad?  Yum!)

You won't find me ever trying a recipe for just one or two people.  Nope, bring on the chuck wagon, folks -- I'm making enough for everybody.

Do you cook too much?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Frozen Stiff!

I've always maintained the February is the LONGEST month of the year.  Maybe not by days, but by the emotional toll it takes.

It's COLD.  And it's been COLD.  For days and days and weeks and weeks.  We had a brief thaw right after Christmas before we were slammed again with snow. Like the rest of the country, we've already had more snow than usual.  We're talking almost as much snow as we usually get ALL WINTER by mid-January--although not as bad as places like New York, Boston, and Washington,

Backyard in winter This is what my backyard looked like this morning.  Doesn't that just send shivers down your spine?

There are little trails through the snow.  Cats and squirrels and bunnies.  All those poor animals are out there in bare feet.  I look out the window and my old-fashioned rose looks dead--like sticks.  They sky is gray behind the arborvitae. 

Spring is STILL 31 days away.

It can't come soon enough for me.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sticker Fun

If there were stickers around when I was a kid, I never knew about them.  In my early 20s, I was into rubber stamps.  Not like people are today, with embossing powders and doing gorgeous cards and scrapbooking.  I just liked to stamp my letters (and envelopes) to friends.  (And I used to write a LOT of letters.  Now I do e-mails.)

Snoozing cat Back in the summer, I came across some little cat stickers that Mr. Ivy had put in my Christmas stocking some years before.  I'd never used them, but decided -- why not put a cat sticker on the envelopes for the bills or on a thank you note, or when I order something in the mail?

Of course, the stickers Mr. Ivy gave me all those years ago are running low.  The next thing I know, I'm in Michaels and pawing through the nine gazillion stickers looking for cats.  I had hoped to find something similiar to what I'd been using.  No such luck, but I did find some nice cat stickers.

Vintage teacup It was difficult to stop at just one package of stickers--so I stopped at two.  The second set?  Wonderful vintage china teacups, saucers and teapots.  Whoa!  They are so majorly cute it makes you want to puke!  Luckily, I had a coupon for 40% off, so I could get the EXPENSIVE one ($1.99) for almost half price.

So where am I going to use them?

I have no idea.  But even if I don't, I can look at them.  And if they bring me a smile, they were well worth the investment.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.  (But if you have any ideas on where I should use them--speak up!)

Are you a sucker for such things?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Careless drivers

Why don't drivers brush the snow from their car windows?

Woman-scraping-snow_~125096 How long have we been in the midst of winter here in upstate New York?  Why don't people drive to accommodate the conditions on the road?  There's no excuse for not clearing the windows on your car.  Why on Earth would anyone be so stttttooooopppidd???

They clear one small hole on the driver's side of the windshield.  They can't see what's behind them, and usually their side mirrors are covered, too. Not only that, but they get on the expressway (freeway to you west coast readers) and the snow comes off in sheets--usually hitting other drivers' windshields.  I'm sure these jerks cause tons of accidents -- inconveniencing people and ruining lives -- all because of their laziness.


Rant over.  What's bugging you today?

Friday, February 11, 2011

I gotta have a list . . .

Checklist No doubt about it.  If I make a list, I'm a lot more productive.  Saturday night, I made a list of 28 things I want to get done this week.  By Sunday evening, I'd accomplished 8 of them.  I've got at least four things I want to accomplish by lunchtime.  I'm hoping to get even more done by the time I turn in tonight.

Are you like me?  Do you get distracted and therefore don't seem to get much done?  I'll be in my office, decide I need something in the kitchen and walk all the way across the house only to discover I've forgotten what it was I wanted to do or get.  Yes, I definitely need to make lists.

Tupperware lists really do keep you on top of things.  For instance, I have a ton of Tupperware and other assorted containers, but can I ever find the corresponding lids?  No.  And the kitchen cupboards are so full when I open a door, some plastic storage contained is bound to fall on my head.  I'm tired of this.  Marrying up the containers with the lids is another item on my list.  (Of course, finding one place to store it all is another problem that needs solving, but let's take things one at a time.)

And when I finish up all the items on this list, I'm going to make another one.  It seems to be the only way I can get stuff done.

How about you?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A job well done?

Weather map Think about the occupation of meteorologists.

Now there's a career where you can be wrong 90% of the time, never apologize, and still keep your job.

Not only are they usually wrong, they seem to delight in terrorizing us.  "There's a 70% chance of SNOW!  TAKE COVER--empty the grocery stores of milk and bread.  It'll last for two days."

Snowflake Then you see a few flakes for half an hour, that immediately melt.  Ho-hum.
It was supposed to snow for five days straight.  Did it?


We were supposed to have up to three inches of snow overnight!

What did we get?  Nary a flake.

So what's annoying you today?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hungry cats with no worries

Okay, we've got four cats.  That's not really all that much.  I like to think of it as two pairs.  (Two girls; two boys.)

Catfood102008Our cats like to eat.  Oy--do they like to eat!  And two or three times a year we head out to the pet store and fill up the back of the car.  Can you guess what we did the other day?

This last load of 336 cans ought to last us until June.  And wouldn't you know, a day later we got a $10 coupon in the mail.  That's okay, we're getting low on Special Care (urinary tract dry cat food) that they also eat.

Can you believe, if there's some kind of national emergency, the cats don't have to worry about food.  Meanwhile, we don't have that much stored up for us.

Well, several kinds of the cat food are pate.  We can always spread it on crackers if we get desperate.

How well do your pets eat?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My kingdom for some pockets!

Why would clothing manufacturers make sweatpants without pockets?  I mean, what gives?

I live in sweatpants.  I need to have stuff readily available.  Like a tissue.  Or Chapstick.  These are vital things, especially in winter.

Suddenly, I only seem to have sweatpants without pockets.  Where'd my pants with pockets go?  I don't remember tossing any (although I probably should--you know, the ones with bleach stains (from when I cleaned the deck of mold/moss) and paint stains, when I backed against the table that was still wet).

It's time to take a trip to K-Mart and see if I can find some sweats with pockets--you know, before all we can buy are shorts and swimsuits.  (You wouldn't want me to wander around the house with chapped lips, would you?)

Any clothing gripes from your end?

Monday, February 7, 2011

A fat-busting cooking tip

Cooking oil I love to bake, but I don't like the calories.  So when I bake, I often substitute the oil in a recipe with unsweetened applesauce.  (And just WHY would anyone WANT to sweeten applesauce?  It's already sweet!!!)

For Christmas, I baked a very rich carrot cake.  Because it was the first time I used that recipe, I decided to make it as directed--with a full cup of oil.  It was pretty darn good.  For Valentine's Day, I made the same cake, only this time I substituted the oil with applesauce.
Bundt cake
How did it turn out?

Pretty good.  A bit moister, but other than that it was still a very good cake.

I noticed that my local grocery store is now selling a prune mixture, which can be used as a substitute for oil, and I'm going to buy some and try that in a recipe some time soon.  (While I contemplate going on a diet and putting all baking on hold for some time.)

What ingredient have you substituted in a recipe?