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Christmas with Family
Posted On 12/08/2017 12:45:45

With our daughter & her family living 200 miles away and our son having 'alternate' weekends & holidays with his kids, we usually plan a 'family day' on a weekend before--or after--Christmas.  Last year, our daughter, her husband, and 'adult' son came in for the entire weekend; so we had plenty of time to prepare a big meal.  My daughter brought turkey and an extra crockpot; we had a 'white' turkey breast in one crockpot and 'dark turkey' meat in the other crockpot.  So everyone  got what they liked! Sadly, our son had to work that day, but he got off early & was here by 2pm, I believe.  

This year, it looks like they may only be here one day; so I think we're going to have a different family favorite: spaghetti with homemade sauce and garlic bread. My husband told me: make a double batch!  Needless to say...he just loves this homemade spaghetti sauce!  That's one thing he loves eating 'leftover'.

As for gifts...well, with two grandsons over the age of 21--and both of them 'out on their own', we just give them cash, which they can always use.  Emma, the only granddaughter, is 10 yrs old now; I am  going to take her shopping this weekend for some clothes.  And since Mike has her this weekend, he'll have her the weekend before Christmas as well--so that means we'll have our 'family Christmas' that weekend.   

Nothing is definite yet--but it looks like it'll be at least 7 of us here for 'dinner'; and maybe 9 with grandson Clay and his girlfriend who we hope will be here.  It should be a  fantastic day!   

R - Recipes
Posted On 11/27/2017 15:23:26

Recipes.  I started collecting recipes many years ago--in the 1970's, I think.  Now, I've never been a "great cook". But I did enjoy baking.  Most of those recipes I collected were for desserts, my favorite thing to cook! I hand-wrote them and put them in a box. Now, this was long before I had a computer, of course.

Back then, the big thing was 'punch' cakes. You baked a vanilla cake in a 'sheet pan', 9 x13 inches. Then, you punched holes in the top, usually with a fork. Then you poured in a mixture of 7-Up, jello, and/or pudding.   Then you would 'top' it with a mixture of jello & whipped cream.  I collected a large number of those recipes, with different ingredients and cake flavors.   

But of course, I also clipped and saved many other recipes from our local newspaper.  However, I didn't actually 'use' many of those, since my husband is your typical "meat & potatoes" kind of guy--and not at all interested in 'experimenting' with different food! The cakes and cookies were about the only things I did make from those recipes.

Many years later, I  sifted through those and saved only the ones I 'thought' I might use; later, I used my printer to scan those into the computer. And by then, I was saving recipes from online.  I now have several large Folders titled Recipes! I even put many of those onto CD's/dvd's.

I have my favorite folder, of course: with Grandma's Chicken Casserole recipe, the family 'special' spaghetti sauce made from scratch, the three or four cookie recipes I use, and my favorite cake recipes, which include The Milky Way Cake. Those are pretty much the only recipes I use lately.

  But...yes, I still catch myself saving online recipes--just in case.

P: Pets, Pecans, & Persimmon Pudding
Posted On 10/18/2017 19:39:04


PETS: I’m sure most of you know I had ‘announced’ we wouldn’t be getting any more pets, when we lost both Sammi and Max in May; they were 19.5 and 15 yr old cats. Well, my husband has been ‘helping’ a friend who recently bought a farm. Every night after he’d been there, he’d asked if I wanted a kitten--there were friendly feral cats on the property and the new owner’s wife doesn’t like cats & wanted them ‘gone’. They were very friendly, even though they were living in the barn. No; I didn’t want to start over with a kitten, even if I had even thought about getting another cat. So that wasn’t too hard.

But then my daughter ‘shared’ photos from their local Humane Society. There were so many cute kittens and cats! There was a sandy kitten that grabbed my heart instantly; however, I reminded myself we definitely didn’t want to start over with a kitten. But naturally, that got me to thinking about cats again. So I checked out our local Humane Society’s Facebook page & found several older cats. One looked really adorable: yes, it was Missy (Samantha at that time). I decided it wouldn’t hurt just to go look, so we headed to the Humane Society. Terry instantly gravitated toward Missy. There was one more cat that was a ‘possible’; so we played with both of them--and decided on Missy/Samantha. We’ve now had her about a month, and she’s doing great! So I’m really glad we decided to at least ‘look’. 

Pecans: We both like pecans, but Terry is wild about them! The same neighbor with the farm has a number of pecan trees on his land. Well, Terry was thrilled to be asked to ‘help’ pick up pecans once they were ripe. He’s brought home 2 large bags so far!

The funny part is that my late father-in-law had a couple of pecan trees in his yard; he also gave us some pecans each year. He always said, “Now Dianne can bake something with pecans”. The reason it’s funny is that I never did get any to bake with; Terry would eat them up! To be honest, there weren’t many--probably about a quart, at most. And I would never have thought about actually making a pecan pie. 

Now, however, I’m going to try to set aside at least a dozen to use in cooking. I recently discovered that I really love pecan pancakes (I get them at Denny’s). So I’d like to try making some here at home--if I can ‘steal’ some! 

Persimmon Pudding: Grandma used to make persimmon pudding when I was little. I always said I really loved it! I even did research over the years to see if I could find a good recipe for it. I never did ‘find’ persimmons to buy, so I never did even try to make it. However, I think I’ve about come to the conclusion it was really the ‘sauce’ that I loved! I guess if I ever saw persimmon pudding when I was out somewhere, I’d probably try it; but I somehow doubt I’ll ever get around to making it myself.       

N- Neighbors
Posted On 09/07/2017 11:35:51

Neighbors.  I've heard that in 'cities', people don't know their neighbors.  In small towns, everyone knows everyone else. Our town is 'in between'.

At approximately 42,000 people, I actually don't run into people I know very often when out shopping--except for my actual neighbors.   My senior class--the last before the 'split' when a second public high school appeared--was 800.  A few of my fellow  graduates became public figures, but other than those, I don't actually see many of my class.  Of course, that's probably because many have moved out of this area; Scott AFB accounted for quite a few of my fellow students--and military people move frequently. 

But talking about actual 'neighbors' is different. I know everyone in close proximity.  Of course, our 'neighborhood' is a mobile home community; it consists of 96 homes.  Ten years ago, when my husband and I were 'managers' here, I could name who lived in every single home.  Now, many of those have changed: moved, sold their homes, etc.  And we have more 'rental' homes now than we did back then.  But  I still 'know' many people who live here.  

As we've all aged, my husband and I have helped many of our senior citizens over the years.  It seems that many 'families' seem to ignore senior citizens. So neighbors become more important. When we need something, there is always someone there volunteering to help us, as well.

And yes, we've lost friends/neighbors over the years.  I still miss my good friend/neighbor Audrey, who passed away 4 years ago at age 87. And my husband misses his friends who also passed a few years ago:  Glen, Ron, Jimmy.  

No, the neighborhood just isn't the same without them. However, we've made new  friends as others moved into our neighborhood.  Across the street are Trudy and Steve; around the corner--Rufus & Jennifer with their children; farther down the street is Barb. Between us and Barb are others, like the Mueller sisters.  Those are just a few that I can name offhand; my husband can name at least another couple of dozen. 

So yes, neighbors are important.  They know they can count on us just as we can count on them, should the need arise. 

M - Memories
Posted On 09/04/2017 12:48:55

M for Memories.  This past week or two, I've been learning more about my family's past--mainly due to my brother's wife starting an account at MyHeritage. 

However, while it's been interesting finding ancestors as far back as the early 1500's,  I've been more fascinated by the old family photos I've found while clearing out some boxes from my closet.   These are bringing back quite a few memories from my childhood. As for why I'm doing this--not only am I trying to get more organized, but when we were chatting (while waiting to see the recent solar eclipse), I learned that my brother didn't have any photos of our great grandmother, so I promised to 'find' some old family photos to share with him.

This is a photo of my family from 1955; I know the year because my mom was pregnant with my younger sister. Grandma Alice took the photo.  This is the best photo I have of my great-grandma Champion, which is another reason I'm so happy to have found it. The next photo is of my grandparents with the first 3 grandkids: me, my brother, & my cousin. As I said, it's been fun 'looking  back' to when we were little.   I've been sharing these  photos with my brother and his wife, my sister, and my cousin Judy. I have a feeling I'll find even more photos as I continue my 'cleaning out'!  

And yes, I'm remembering all the fun times we had with our cousins; at one point, we lived next door to each other and our mothers were best friends. So we spent a lot of time with the 'cousins'.   One sad thing I remember as I look at this photo: not long after this was taken, my mother nearly died from a brain hemorrhage. She was in a coma, in the hospital, for a while. I don't know any more details, other than my brother and I stayed with grandparents while she was in the hospital.   And happily, my sister was born in mid-February, healthy--and Mom returned to good health at some point.  The only after-effect was problems with her memory; but she lived to be 78 years old.  



L - Library
Posted On 08/29/2017 18:34:55

The public Library has always been one of my favorite places to visit.  I think that started when I was in seventh grade (about age 11 or 12). I can't remember if my school had a library.  It probably did.   But mainly, I remember visiting the public library, which was fairly close to our junior high school. I think the first time I visited it was to gather information for a 'term paper' I had to write for Social Studies class.  Or maybe it was just to find more or different books to read. That was so long ago that I don't really remember for sure.

I soon realized that library had a lot of 'good reading' for children my age--fiction.  I became addicted to reading for fun. One of the first 'series' I remember reading was about a young nurse named Cherry Ames.   I think--from what I found just now--that the first book was called Cherry Ames, Student Nurse.   I don't know how many of them I read, but it was probably all of that series that our library carried!  

 I do remember that I was an avid reader; I was there so frequently, they amended the normal 'limit' of books for 'children' to 6 for me--the normal adult limit.  I think I would finish all six before the week's time limit was up.  I remember going to the libary after school and walking home from there.  

I continued using the public library in every place we lived.  It was probably one of the  first things I asked my parents about each time we moved.

Now, of course, I read 'eBooks'. So I quit 'going' to the library in person once I learned I could download books via my computer.  In fact, last summer when I had to physically go to the library to renew my library card, it was quite a shock to 'see' all the changes that had been made to our local library.  Yes, I had read about the renovations in the newspaper;but it was 'real' once I saw it in person.   And while there are surely more books to choose from in person, I probably won't be going back to the library until I need to rewew my card again. I have to admit  I 'get' more books via Amazon now; but I doubt I'll ever stop using the online library.  

K - Kittens
Posted On 08/27/2017 11:31:48

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I'm sure you all know how much I love cats and kittens, since I often put cats on my page as well as making 'cat graphics'. Our very first cat, Baby, was only 8 weeks old when we got her--from a neighbor.  This isn't Baby, but it's almost exactly what she looked like--the white under the chin  was the only white on her. Baby lived to be 21 yrs old. She grew up with our kids.

Later, we decided we didn't want to start 'from scratch' with a kitten;  but when we went to the Humane Society a few years later, we saw Muffy--who was about two months old. He stole our hearts--so we came home with another kitten.  Muffy lived to be about 12 yrs old, when he developed a terminal health problem.

After that, the youngest cat we adopted was Sammi, who was 9 months old.  As some of you know, we lost Sammi in May of this year, at the age of 19.5 years.

  A neighbor of mine 'adopted' a stray cat recently who just had three kittens; naturally, she asked if we wanted one! But my husband and I have decided that at our age, & with limited income now, we will not be adopting any more pets.  Yes, we miss having a cat around--but at this point in our lives, it's just the right thing to do.  But we have many fond memories of all the cats and kittens that have passed through our home, either adopted or 'strays' that we took in until we could find good homes for them. 

J - Jade Tea
Posted On 08/22/2017 15:56:18

My favorite 'hot tea' is called Jade Citrus Mint tea.  I have a cup of this each morning.  It's also good 'cold'.  Here is the official description:

Refreshing and invigorating, this green tea blend is a bright citrus balance of lemon verbena and lemongrass with a hint of spearmint and rich China Chun Mee green tea base.

I get this--for now--at the Teavanna store in our nearby mall. Sadly, Starbuck's (who own Teavanna) recently decided to close all 279 of the Teavanna stores.  I suppose, after that I'll have to order it online--if it's still available that way.   I've been told it's also available at Starbuck's--but I have no idea if that's just by the 'cup/glass' or if you can buy the loose tea there.  I have to admit I've never been to a Starbuck's, for the simple reason that I don't drink coffee. I'm not even sure where the closest Starbuck's is to me!  

One of the reasons I chose this typic for my "J" blog is that it's a reminder of how annoying it is when you learn that something--some product--that you really like is going to be discontinued.  This same thing happened with another flavor of tea that I drank a few years ago; right now I can't even remember for sure what brand it was. But I have a hunch it was from Lipton.  I do remember 'finding' it online, at a much higher price!  Needless to say, I didn't order it.

I'm pretty sure most of us--if not all--can think of at least one or two times this has happened.  Yes, we eventually move on; but I think most of us still remember at least one item we still wish we could find again. 

PS--I just found many comments on the Lipton site: it seems I'm not the only one who really misses their Bavarian Wild Berry tea! Sample: Why did you discontinue the Bavarian Berry tea? It was your best tea. Any chance of bringing it back? Please!!!!

I - Ice cream
Posted On 08/15/2017 13:17:42


I love ice cream; but I don’t have it often due to a minor medical problem. Right now, my favorite flavor is Raspberry Cheesecake. Some of my other favorite flavors are: Caramel Waffle Cone, Raspberry Ripple, Strawberry Cheesecake, Chocolate Covered Cherry (Dairy Queen). I don’t rmember which is which ‘brand’; I mainly get Cold Stone, Blue Bunny, or Prairie Farms (which might be a local St. Louis brand).

PS--the only time I eat 'vanilla' is when I want to cover it with hot fudge!

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