Monday, September 25, 2017


Last week, I spent a day in Iowa City with Anne...and I FOUND A POPOVER PAN FOR $1.50.
I'm telling you -- NOBODY should ever pass up a bargain like that.

Clearly -- It's time for a Popover update.


I will never forget the first time I ate one of these delicious concoctions. Served up in a little metal pan at the very beautiful St. James Hotel in downtown Chicago.

I COULD NOT BELIEVE I'd never eaten one before.
Marion and I were spending a few wonderful days at the James Hotel in downtown Chicago -- and their Popovers were INCREDIBLE..!!
Reproducing those James Hotel Popovers became a mission for me....and there were some early failures I barely remember. Because I'VE GOT IT DOWN NOW...and I'm gonna make some today. They are WAY easier than you think...and it's more of a technique than a recipe...and, at this point, I am happy to report that Popovers are my Signature Dish.  YIPPEE KAYEE...
The recipe is on the opening page of this blog -- ALWAYS -- so I'm not going to type it in here. It makes a thin batter...
The important thing is to preheat your oven to a scorching 425 degrees
AND you must also preheat your popover pan...this is my new mini-popover pan!!
This picture was taken through the window, after 20 minutes...
Be sure to stab each popover as soon as you get them out of the oven -- to release the steam -- so they don't collapse...
IT JUST DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN THIS. Holy Cow. DELICIOUS. In my humble opinion, hot popovers turn an ordinary meal into a special event!!

You cannot make popovers in a cupcake pan, people. JUST BUY THE DAMN PAN. Amazon will deliver it to your door by the end of the week...c'mon -- you're worth it!!

The last time I made popovers, I split them in half -- and filled it with my favorite pudding. (cream 4 oz. cream cheese, alternate package of jello instant vanilla pudding, 2 c. milk)...

In the last picture, you can see my quarter pound of butter...a MUST HAVE, of course....real butter...

Margarine on a popover would be a ketchup on Prime Rib...or having a brand new $3000 mattress, then using polyester sheets.....getting a brand new top of the line sewing machine, then using an old spool of $1 thread...

Depending on the size, a small Popover has 68 calories, and a large one has 110.  I'm not counting the butter, of course...
MMWI: 230.2  Yeah...I feel pretty stuck at this here plateau.  MAYBE I NEED TO GO BACK TO FAT CAMP, EH??

Saturday, September 23, 2017

My New Carry-On

Next week, TMBC is taking their SHOW ON THE ROAD!!Four of us are getting on a bus (at 5:00 AM) to head down to Hamilton, Missouri.
Sandy, me, Linda K and Linda P...OFF WE GO!!

For this special occasion -- I'm decorating a new carry-on suitcase.
Of course, it starts with my personal color palette.  Yellow, pink, orange and teal...
I mod-podged the areas I intended to paint.  Then, I gave everything a base coat of WHITE.
It took two coats of white paint to cover.  Then, I made some lines with a Sharpie.
And I started to add what I thought looked like quilt designs (Yes, my name is Rita Farro and I AM NOT A QUILTER.)
I have boxes and buckets full of paint, brushes, marking pens...
But some are not as vibrant as I'd I need to go over them one more time...
The next time you see this bag, it'll be getting on a bus.

Jenny Doan -- HERE WE COME!!
P.S.  You won't recognize me -- I've lost 70 pounds since last summer!!

Friday, September 22, 2017

City Chicken

I didn't know it when I was a kid -- but our Iowa diet was very meat-and-potatoes. Salt and pepper were our only "spices", and jello puddings were considered "salads".

One of the biggest changes in my life happened when I married John and embraced my mother-in-law's cooking.  Helen Farro was an excellent cook, and she made many delicious things I'd never heard of -- like CITY CHICKEN!!

In Pottsville, Pennsylvania -- you can buy City Chicken in the grocery store -- all prepared and ready to cook.  Which is a huge time-saver, because, believe me -- preparing City Chicken is A LOT OF WORK...

Like so many things Helen made, City Chicken is more of a technique than a recipe.  But here's how she did it...
John put pieces of cut up pork and beef on to skewers.
Then you roll it in flour...
Then, an egg wash....
Then, breadcrumbs...
OF COURSE you fry them!!
But the end result really is delicious.  TOTALLY worth it!!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Painted Suitcases/Embroidered Luggage

WOW.  I had to go all the way back to 2012 to find this post...

Yes, I paint my luggage...

Actually, it's one of my FAVORITE THINGS TO DO...
Other people watch the dozens of black bags go around and around the airport carousel... wondering which one is theirs...because THEY ALL LOOK ALIKE...

But my suitcases are always VERY EASY TO FIND -- and I'm the first person out on the curb, looking for my ride...
My bags have been to many, many airports over the years...including Memphis...

Reno, Cincinnati, Seattle, Chantilly, Kansas City...

NO AIRLINE could ever lose my bags...there simply is no excuse...I have the AIRPORT CODE painted right on the bag...

Here are the steps:

  1. Mod Podge any part of the bag you intend to paint. It seals the luggage fabric, otherwise, the paint just soaks in, and it won't be vibrant.  Let it dry overnight.
  2. Add your paint in layers.  I often paint a big area WHITE, then let it dry, and go in with some designs later, with other colors.  I use any kind of paint -- just those cheapo little bottles of craft paint.  
  3. Use PERMANENT felt tip markers to do the writing.  (I prefer a Sharpie, with a chisel point).
  4. When your design is complete -- use a foam brush to add two more coats of ModPodge.  (let it dry between coats).
 Believe me -- this paint job will last MUCH LONGER THAN THE BAG ITSELF..

Optional: If you want to add EMBROIDERY to your bag, you still should Mod Podge the area you are decorating. Embroider the words you want on the fabric, then cut it to fit into a specific area. Use Peel n'Stick to apply the embroidered fabric piece to your suitcase -- Then two coats of Mod Podge to protect the embroidery.

THIS SUITCASE was written up in Designs in Machine Embroidery magazine! I did all the embroidery on fabric, then cut it to fit the shapes needed for the luggage...

Sadly, last year, two of these bags were destroyed by the rough handling. Ugh. One had the handle ripped off...another lost a wheel...

Treating them with the respect they deserve, like a worn out American Flag, or a treasured Lazy Boy recliner -- I had a little funeral and burned them...


I'm working on a NEW painted carry-on bag right now, even as we speak. The first step is done (I painted on the Mod Podge as a base coat).

When it's finished, I'll tell you WHERE IT SENT ON IT'S VIRGIN TRIP!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

the perfect week

If you're doing it right -- every day of the week has something you look forward to. I am really, really good at this. Structuring my life so that each day becomes it's own special gift. I think about it, my life has taken on it's very own "Seven Days A Week" Dishtowel philosophy. Remember those?

  • Monday/Laundry:
  • Tuesday/Ironing:
  • Wednesday/Sewing:
  • Thursday/Shopping:
  • Friday/Cleaning:
  • Saturday/Baking:
  • Sunday/Rest
Anybody who knows me knows that Monday is my CLEANING DAY. And the reason I love it so much is because CARRIE COMES.

For me, this is the kick-off to a wonderful week. I GET HELP...For a few hours every Monday, I have a somebody come to my house who's sole purpose is to HELP ME.

And I am a pig. I live a big, messy life that requires constant picking up after. There is always a mountain of laundry, and kids' toys, and sewing and projects and books...and Carrie is magic. Show just KNOWS what needs to be done...and she is the hardest working young woman I know. Really. She goes through my house like Grant through Richmond....
For special occasions, she brings cupcakes.
She also helps me with special projects. Like -- painting the ceiling? REALLY...!!
Last week, my refrigerator was not working right. I asked Carrie to clean it out -- and throw everything away that had an expiration date...(it would be better for me if I did not see these two bags that went into the garbage)...
OMG. I can't believe I found this picture. Her daughter Elizabeth just had her 10th birthday!
And here's the thing. Although I never would have written about it as it was happening, Carrie's son, Dylan, was diagnosed with cancer. He is fine now, but it was a harrowing, terrifying time.  Weeks in the hospital, chemo, radiation, surgery.  As much as you'd like to help -- you just don't know what to do for somebody when they are fighting a battle like that...

I decorated a "hospital bag" for Dylan. I bought a wheeled suitcase at a thrift store, and painted it...with his name, kind of a race car motif....(he was 11 at the time)...There was always LOTS OF STUFF to be carted into the hospital. His medications, extra clothes, books, games, etc. I cannot tell you how many times Carrie thanked me for this bag. When I gave it to her, it was filled with snacks...small bags of Pringles, peanut butter crackers, chips, granola bars, instant oatmeal...that bag became known as the place Dylan kept treats for the nurses, etc.
My cousin Kim, holding Dylan's bag. This is the only picture I have of the bag...(Kim is Carrie's Mom -- Dylan's Grandma).
I don't know if I have ever made a better gift for anybody. And the reason I started to write this blog was because I got an email the other day asking about how to paint luggage...

So -- now I have to go back to my archives...I know I've written that up before...

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

It Changed My Life

Rhonda Pierce and I are headed to beautiful Maderia Beach, Florida for Round Two of Fitness Camp AND YOU ARE INVITED!!

Both Rhonda and I agree that giving ourselves ONE WEEK at Weight Crafters in beautiful Maderia Beach, Florida last November was the BEST GIFT WE COULD HAVE GIVEN OURSELVES...

And we are doing it AGAIN -- the week of November 12-18, 2018,


This is a photo of me -- the week BEFORE I went to Fat Camp last fall.  I weighed somewhere north of 300 pounds...and I'd already been dieting and exercising for a month, hoping I would be able to DO THE WORK once I got to Florida.

MAKE NO MISTAKE -- IT IS A LOT OF HARD WORK...we were down in the gym every morning by 8:30.
The view from our condo -- that beach looked SO INVITING...but, most nights, we were too tired to walk across the street...
I loved, loved, loved NEVER having to think about what I was going to eat.  Every meal was delivered...and I enjoyed each bite!!
The sunsets were stunning!!  It is a really beautiful part of the world.
Conn, our trainer, did a great job of MIXING IT UP...on this day, we walked to a local park...and played basketball!!
In a million years, I NEVER THOUGHT I would go kayaking on the ocean!!
On our last day -- we finally did manage to WALK ALONG THE BEACH...
I cannot tell you how Fat Camp changed my life. At 68 years old, I weighed over 300 pounds and had to take the steps to my basement one foot at a time. I mostly sat in my chair for 12 hours a day...and I had accepted that as my life. I was old and fat, and that was the way it was gonna be.

During the week I was in Florida, I lost 12 pounds. But the really amazing thing is that when I got home, I adopted a whole new lifestyle.  I eat breakfast every morning, I joined the Y, and I aquasize almost every day.

At this point, I've lost 70 pounds. I've gone from wearing a size 3X, to a size 18.

I can't thank Conn and Weight Crafter's enough.

Fat Camp (my term, not theirs) changed my life.

A picture of the new me.  I do NOT FEEL fat or old...!!

WE'D LOVE TO HAVE YOU COME WITH US for the next round!!

Weight Crafters have offered us a terrific deal....instead of the usual price of $2799....

IF YOU GO WITH US, DURING OUR R and R SPECIAL WEEK, YOU will only pay $1,799 per person (for shared condo)...

SO -- COME ON DOWN!! Join me and Rhonda this November to push the RESET BUTTON on your life!!

To get this pricing, you need to commit by the end of this week!!

Believe me -- this is a GREAT DEAL....and I'd be happy to answer any questions, and give you more information.

Hurricane Irma did visit the Madeira Beach Area, but the Weight Crafter's facility (which is built like a fortress) had only minimal damage. So our dates are firm -- and we're ready to go!!

Mary Mulari is going to join us...and YOU CAN, TOO..!!

Contact me:
my cell: 563 529 5438

Monday, September 18, 2017

Our Special Saturday Adventures!

Every child should have one thing they really feel good about. I don't mean being an Olympic figure skater...but something they just enjoy doing that gives them a feeling of accomplishment.

Something that makes them feel capable and part of things. Sports is the key for lots of kids. My boys both loved playing baseball...and during the summer, the weekly practices and games brought a busy, happy rhythm to our lives.

For Lilly -- let me see -- and 8 year old who knows all the words to about 20 Hamilton songs??

Yep -- Junior Theater Acting Classes -- HERE WE COME..!!
I signed her up for the Saturday afternoon Acting Class.
Founded in 1951, The Davenport Junior Theatre is the second oldest children's theater company in the United States. We've often attended the plays they put on -- but I never realized there was a whole schedule of classes. DUH, Grandma!!
We got there a little early, so the kids had time to do some coloring.
Lilly's picture was worthy of framing...
Warren and I were invited up to the studio to see the first five minutes of Lilly's acting class...but then we were invited to LEAVE. No problem. We went to a nearby park.
You've gotta love the age of four.
Everything is just SO MUCH FUN.
He played hard for 30 minutes.
Then, he was ready to go back and get Lilly.  We were both eager to hear her report.
We hooked up with Uncle Ross for a Steak and Shake lunch.
Lilly gave an excellent report. There were 8 kids in her acting class, and they learned about pantomime. They acted out different animals...she told us about every other child in her class.

THEN, we went swimming at the YMCA. Yes, was THE PERFECT SATURDAY..!!

MMWI:  230.0  Hey -- don't feel bad for me.  I forgot to tell you that THE PERFECT SATURDAY ended with pizza and fried chicken!!  It was a I'm over it...onward to NEXT WEEK..!!