Thursday, October 27, 2016


I LOVE MY LIFE.  I always have. It's jam-packed with the usual things -- a little work, a lot of hobbies. Family and friends I love who love me back. I take joy from everyday things like doing laundry, cooking an ordinary meal, hemming pants for a neighbor or sewing a Halloween costume.


So, when my sister called and said, "Do you want to go see the Rockin Road to Dublin tomorrow night?" I did not hesitate at all.

YES, OF COURSE was my immediate answer...Even though I had no idea who these people were...

IT WAS A WONDERFUL SHOW!!  Irish dancing and singing -- all with a ROCK BAND that reminded my of the TSO concerts I loved so much. 
They didn't sell a lot of tickets during their one night stop at the Adler Theater in Davenport, Iowa...
Although THAT WAS THE GOOD NEWS for us -- because Deena got a screaming hot deal on SIX TICKETS...
Me, niece Nicole (she is Deena's Kenny Rogers buddy), Deena and her daughter Kelcy, friends Sarah and Val on the right side.
After the show, we spoke to the band in the lobby. THEY WERE TERRIFIC..!!
Such beautiful singing voices -- and the dancing was wonderful.
No doubt you have a venue near you that works hard to bring in acts...GET ON THEIR MAILING LIST. And even if it's a show you've never heard of -- GO. Watch for the specials. Be spontaneous. Invite your friends!!

Go to the Rockin Road to Dublin website to see if they might be coming to  a town near you!!  I think they are touring the western United States right now...

Thanks again, Deena -- for a WONDERFUL NIGHT!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Splendid Sampler™ Wednesday

The Splendid Sampler™ Wednesday
(...skip this part if you're not new here...)

The Splendid Sampler™ is an internet sew-a-long created by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson. It is an EPIC sew along...
  • 83 fabric designers have created specific blocks that feature different quilting techniques. (paper piecing, fused applique, etc.).
  • The blocks will be released each week, and are FREE to participants until March 2017. (at that time, they'll use the designs to publish a book).
  • You can use whatever fabric you like.
  • There will be pictures on their Facebook page, etc.
The new block designs come out twice a week....on Sunday morning and Thursday morning. I'm doing this with my TMBC...and, therefore, it is my pleasure to BLOG ABOUT IT every Wednesday. *******************

A funny thing has happened since the TMBC started participating in The Splendid Sampler™....we ARE BECOMING QULTERS..!!

Last week was kind of unusual -- because we had many field trips....

On Tuesday, we went to Fulton, Illinois to check out Susan's Calico Creations GOING OUT OF BUSINESS SALE.  Shopping there was a happy/sad affair. Happy to see all that beautiful fabric for 40% off...but sad the business is closing it's doors after 20 years.

We started off with breakfast at our favorite place, Krumpets -- and, of course, THERE WAS A SEW AND TELL...

LP did two versions of the bonus blocks...
Two versions of "Bows"...SO different with various fabric choices.
This block is called First Stitch...
After all that exhausting breakfast/fabric shopping...we moved on to a fabulous lunch, and a walkabout town.  This sign on the side of a building cracked us up.
LIKE THAT WASN'T ENOUGH sewing excitement -- Sandy and  LP went on a TWO DAY SHOP HOP BUS TRIP...where they visited eight different quilt shops in three different states.
AND, as the freakish thing called RITALUCK would have it -- I visited this wonderful quilt shop in Fennimore, Wisconsin on WEDNESDAY -- THE QUILT PEDDLER.  and LP and Sandy were in THIS SAME SHOP three days later!! 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Smelly towels

WOW!!  I received many emails about the problem of WASHING MACHINES.  Yikes.  Many of you are also suffering from the ""my towels smell like ass" syndrome...

I can't remember exactly where I found this -- maybe on the Speed Queen website....but this this is some good information:


You’ve just taken a refreshing shower that leaves you feeling invigorated. You reach for your towel, and your spirits deflate. The towel feels coarse against your skin. Worse yet, as soon as dampness settles in, your towel takes on a smelly funk. Sound familiar?

When your towels smell and lack absorbency—especially shortly after being laundered—it’s a sign that detergent and fabric softener have built up in the fabric. While it sounds counterintuitive, using too much detergent is bad for towels. When soap residue builds up, the towels don’t dry as effectively, decreasing their softness and increasing the possibility of being a breeding ground for bacteria (thus, the musty smell).

The good news is that there are steps you can take to reverse these effects.

How to refresh towels

Washing towels with vinegar and baking soda can bring them back to life in just three steps:
  1. Wash towels in hot water and one cup vinegar. Don’t add any detergent.
  2. Wash the towels a second time (without drying them) in hot water and one cup baking soda.
  3. Dry your towels but avoid fabric softener, which builds up on towels and reduces softness. Learn more about fabric softeners in our Liquid Fabric Softener vs. Dryer Sheets

How to keep towels soft

Now that you’ve refreshed your towels, how do you ensure they will stay that way? Here are a few hints:
  • Make sure you are using the correct amount of detergent. These tips will help you stay within recommended guidelines:
    • Fit the detergent to your machine. If you own a high-efficiency machine, use detergent to match.
    • Measure detergent according to the manufacturer’s package. You’re likely to use more—rather than less—than recommended if you eyeball the measurement.
    • Know how to tell if you have used too much detergent. Suds left over after rinsing is a sure sign. Also, if your wet clothes feel stiff, they are likely filled with soap residue.
  • Hang your towels to dry. Never throw a wet towel in the hamper. Bacteria will grow faster on towels that aren’t allowed to dry completely.
  • Clean your washing machine frequently by running a cycle with one-quarter cup bleach.
  • Launder your towels frequently. A good rule is to use the towel no more than three times between washings.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Buying a new Washing Machine!!

Last year my TMBC friend, LP, bought a new washing machine. She knew she didn't want a front loader -- and after doing a lot of research, she purchased a Speed Queen, which she is very pleased with.

THAT triggered a little a trip down memory lane for me. Growing up, my parents owned several laundromats -- and they ALWAYS had Speed Queens.
My mother would never have considered any other brand at her house. And -- guess what -- THEY ARE STILL MADE IN AMERICA. Right here in Ripon, Wisconsin.

So, now I'm doing some research...and it was shocking how many people have replaced their $1000 front loaders after just five or six years.

But it ain't easy to buy a Speed Queen, cuz the big box stores don't carry 'em.  Then I remembered I have the internet.  HOLY COW.  YOU CAN BUY THEM FROM AMAZON..!!

Instead of me telling you my semi-worthless opinion -- I'm sharing this lively Amazon review from a real life consumer!!
The Speed Queen AWN412S is a dinosaur, in the sense that; it will not whistle Dixie when a cycle completes, agitation is louder than a front loader, and a whole truck load of ugly hit it on the way out of the factory. No electronics means no delayed start, no Wi-Fi, or latte dispenser. Add to that, your irritating neighbor who seems to have all the toys will look down her/ his nose at you for owning something that does not light up and sing 'Also Sprach Zarathustra', even though they only know the piece as "the theme to 2001 A Space Odyssey."

With that stated, this machine does what it is supposed to do. It cleans clothes, gently, effectively, and quickly. Use your egg timer if you need an end of cycle alert, 28 minutes for the Regular/Normal cycle by the way. The baby will fall asleep instantly listening to the rhythmic agitation phase. The spin cycle is butter smooth and very quiet. If you have a separate laundry room, the ugly problem is solved. If not, then put a plant on top of it and stop whining. As to the pesky neighbor, laugh out loud and point when they have to replace their 'fashion statement' machine for the fourth time, while your trusted old friend sits there and CLEANS YOUR CLOTHES.

Oh, and take the money you saved from replacing the machine over the years and go to Maui.
Get it while you can as apparently after 2017 machines like this will no longer be made, due to Federal regulation. It does use more water and electricity than a front loading machine. However, what is better for the environment? Having a machine that will be in use for decades? Or having a huge polluting manufacturing plant pouring out junk that has to be shipped off to the recycling/ landfill every 6 years? The water will be recycled and the AWN412S uses $43 per year in energy (with a electric water heater) as opposed to $23 per year for my old front loader.

Being "green" is an end to end process. You can not be "green" by purchasing manufactured products that have to be replaced at short intervals. There is a massive cost to the environment in building these things.
So, if you're in the market for a new washing machine -- YOU ARE IN LUCK.  At least, for one more year...

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Shoofly Pie

Since I'm on a's time for a lesson in Shoofly pie recipe. Lilly and I made two of them last week -- they were PERFECT. They are one of those things that just taste like home...

Growing up in Iowa, I never heard of Shoofly Pie. But it is one of my "MUST EAT" items whenever we visit John's family in Pennsylvania.

Here's what the internet has to say about Shoofly Pie:

Visit the Lancaster area of Pennsylvania and indulge in a Pennsylvania Dutch original, the Shoofly Pie. Also know as Shoo-Fly Pie, and Shoo Fly Pie.

First time visitors to the area always comment on this pie and its strange name. Most of the area restaurants and bakeries sell this favorite pie. The pie is more like a coffee cake, with a gooey molasses bottom.Pennsylvania Dutch cooking is indigenous to those areas of southeastern Pennsylvania that were settled by the Mennonites and Amish. William Penn (1644-1718), founder of Pennsylvania, was seeking colonists for the Pennsylvania area. The Amish and Mennonites both settled in Pennsylvania as part of William Penn's "holy experiment" of religious tolerance. The first sizeable group arrived in America around 1730 and settled near Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

These settlers were addicted to pies of all types and they ate them at any time of day. The most famous of their pies is the shoofly pie. As the very earliest settlers came to North America by boat, they brought with them the staples of their diet - long-lasting nonperishable that would survive a long boat trip. These staples were flour, brown sugar, molasses, lard, salt, and spices. Arriving in the new land during late fall, they had to live pretty much on what they had brought with them until the next growing season. The women, being master of the art of "making do," concocted a pie from the limited selection that could be found in the larder. This resourcefulness led to the creation of shoofly pie.

The origin of the name has been debated for years and will probably never ultimately be solved. The most logical explanation is related to the fact that during the early years of our country, all baking was done in big outdoor ovens. The fact that pools of sweet, sticky molasses sometimes formed on the surface of the pie while it was cooling, invariably attracting flies, show how such a pie could come to be called shoofly pie.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Unbaked Pastry for 10-inch one crust pie

3 tablespoon butter
1  cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup hot water
1 cup dark molasses
1 egg
Mix:  1/4 cup boiling water with 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, then stir into wet mixture


Dry:  In a large bowl, using a pastry blender, cut shortening or butter into flour, brown sugar, and salt until mixture is the size of small peas; set aside. (reserve 1/2 cup for topping)

Wet: In a large bowl, mix molasses and egg and 3/4 cup hot water. In a small bowl, mix 1/4 c. water with baking soda. Combine all wet ingredients and whisk until soda quits foaming.

Gently stir wet into the dry. Pour mixture into unbaked pie crust, sprinkle reserved crumbs on top.

Bake 10 minutes and then reduce oven to 350 degrees F. Bake an additional 35 to 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Padora's Italian Bread

One of the highlights of our Pennsylvania vacation ALWAYS -- is eating bread from the Italian baker in Tamaqua.

John likes to get there at 11:30, just as the bread is coming out of the large coal-fired brick oven...(which is over 100 years old) and he usually buys two or three loaves. We freeze some to bring back to Iowa -- but the biggest treat is to sit down and eat a fresh loaf of crusty bread, while it's still warm enough to melt butter.

Yes, I am a lucky, lucky girl!!

OMG..OMG...OMG...due to the miracle that is the Internet -- I found this article about Padora's Italian Bakery.  This is actually more than I ever knew about this bread and it's history.  Thank you, Al Gore...!!

Baked to perfection
Friday, February 26, 2010


Lawrence "Mickey" Padora, 83, is a master baker who specializes in only one product - Italian bread.
Born Lorenzo Guiseppe Padora, Mickey has spent over 50 years making fresh, hard-crusted Italian bread in Tamaqua's Italian Bakery. The small, white wood-frame structure clings to the hillside unannounced at 122 Railroad Street. Locals call the area Pleasant Row.

Consumers say Padora's bread is without equal.

Demand for the tasty treat has allowed Padora and wife, Carolyn, to stay in business and raise six children - Donna, Anna, Michael, Johnny, Carol and Larry, all of whom did chores and pitched in to help at the bakery throughout the years.

The shop's yield is high. Orders vary each day. But it's not unusual for the one-room outfit to produce 500 loaves a day six days a week when orders mount.

While most of the product ends up in local stores and better restaurants, the golden brown loaves also get shipped to far away places. Padora's bread has been all across the country, plus to Ireland, Wales and Canada. One family was known to pack it in suitcases for their regular trips to Hawaii.

Much of the product, however, stays in homes and eateries in Schuylkill, Luzerne and Carbon counties. Some is used to make hoagies at Padora's Six Pack House, 209 Railroad St., a side business owned by the family.

The old Tamaqua Italian Bakery has been Padora's bread and butter for most of his life.
 "We only closed one year, it was during the Korean conflict in 1958," he says.

Everything about Padora's approach to breadmaking is special, from the Old World Italian recipe to his historic, century-old, open-hearth firebrick. It's fueled by buckwheat-sized anthracite coal.
"A state inspector once said he believes the bakery to be the only one of its kind in the state," says 36-year-old Larry, Padora's son and a bread baker in his own right.

Some believe the firebrick bake oven fueled by anthracite coal may be the only one in the country. In Tamaqua, the bakery is an institution and locals walk to the place to pick up their daily bread.
On June 11, 1998, Tamaqua's Italian Bakery was forced stop operations briefly when an essential piece of equipment went bad.

The bin on the dough mixer had worn through from years of use. The vintage apparatus, a motor-driven, 1913 Hobart Peerless Bread Machine from Sidney, Ohio, could no longer be used. Replacement parts were impossible to find.

"The company was still in business so we called and they were surprised to learn about the old machine still in use," says Larry.

Peerless had no solution to the problem and a new, computerized $65,000 doughmaker just wouldn't cut it.

A family friend, John "Sonny" Trudich Jr., came to the rescue. Trudich helped to remove the worn bin and directed the Padoras to a Tamaqua fabricator, Nestor's Iron Works. There, a thick steel band six feet long was manufactured and shaped to form a new bin. The bakery reopened on Saturday, just two days later.

The famous brick oven also was repaired once. Larry crawled inside the confined space to tend to the firebricks.

"You could never do it if you were claustrophobic," says Larry.

According to Mickey, the unusual dome-topped hearth measures about 21 X 20 feet. It gets its heat from a vortex of hot, fan-forced air shot from the coal fire. The fire is positioned beside the oven, not underneath. In full operation, temperatures can reach 1,200 degrees although the bread is normally baked at about 650.

Once fired, the bricks become hot and the oven retains its heat. The Padoras use about two tons of coal a month.

The unusual oven was built around the turn of the century by George (D'Allesio) Dallas, who commissioned experts from Italy to do the job.

Dallas operated the oven for several years before 1911 then leased it to Odoriso Sozio and sons who ran the business until the 1920s.

Afterward, it was taken over by one of Sozio's helpers, Emedio Zaraca, originally from Italy, who baked bread until his death in 1955.

Zaraca's wife Anna and son Robert continued for another year before turning it over to Mickey Padora.

Mickey learned the bread making technique while assisting Zaraca, he said.

Larry picked up the trade from his father but never let on that he knew how to do it until Mickey became hospitalized. While an inpatient, Mickey couldn't understand why hospital visitors mentioned that they were still enjoying the bread. Turns out, Larry had taken over the reins but never said a word.

"I think he was surprised," Larry says.

A reserved and modest man, Mickey is proud to point out that his bread is a wholesome, homemade product that contains no chemicals, additives or preservatives.

"We use an expensive, high-quality flour."

And there's no need for an oven timer because Padora instinctively knows when the loaves are ready, browned to a turn. At just the right moment, he reaches deep into the hot cavern using oversized, wooden spatula-type tools - with handles close to forty feet long - and retrieves the fully baked delight.

The healthful benefits of Padora's sugar and additive-free leavened bread have not gone unnoticed by local physicians and heart doctors. Some have recommended the bread to their patients.

Dale W. Freudenberger, president, Tamaqua Historical Society, says he, too, is a loyal customer.
"It's the finest, unique Italian bread I've had anywhere. It's outstanding, and I know what I'm talking about. My brother is an Italian bread connoisseur and he's tried breads from all over the country. He says nothing else even comes close."

For the Padora family, the bakery represents an honest, hard-working job producing a product known as the bread of life, common to everyman.

After all, people are individuals and everybody is unique. But bread, perhaps, is the one single common denominator, as basic as air and water.

"I've met some of the nicest people in here," says Mickey.

Larry agrees, noting that the business has provided an avenue to interact with people from all walks of life.

"Everybody has eaten this bread," says Larry, "from poor people to millionaires."


Another miracle from the internet -- somebody posted a video of Mickey Padora.  My husband John spent 20 years talking to this guy, every fall, trying to pick his brain about how to make the perfect loaf of Italian are his secrets!!  (Pat Leslie, you are going to LOVE this video)...

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lifelong Friends

You were afraid it was going to be another post about 1927, right? I may not be done with that topic yet. And, I am for SURE not done with my rant about washing machines. I'm doing a little research about which washing machine WE CAN AND SHOULD BUY...

But today -- I'm looking back on our Pennsylvania vacation. One of the highlights is always THE FOOD. On our way into town, we stopped at Palermo's in Minersville to pick up a pizza and a calzone...
This HUGE calzone was $9 -- filled with delicious cheese (and ham) -- and we ate it for a week!!
But, of course, the real value to our Pennsylvania trip every year is visiting with friends and family.

Kathy Keefer is my lifelong friend. Gheesh...I've known her since BEFORE I HAD CHILDREN.  We were neighbors for only three years, but during that time, we talked in person or on the phone every single day.  Each of us knew what the other was thinking, doing, or cooking on that day.  We gained and lost weight together -- TOPS was our weekly night out!  Kathy gave a surprise baby shower for me when I was pregnant with Ross...

But we moved to Iowa when Ross was just a year old, and in those days, talking on the phone meant huge LONG DISTANCE charges.  Remember?  

Fortunately,  every year, we'd go back to Pennsylvania for our family vacation and Kathy and I would always pick up right where we left off.
 I promised Kathy I would NOT PUT HER PICTURE in my blog this year...but I made no such promise to her dog, Daisy...

Fast forward 25 years. Ross was moving to Pennsylvania to take a job with the CBS affiliate. He arrived with a jam-packed Ford Escape and a U-Haul, no place to live and not much of a plan. Kathy and Denny took him in "for a couple of days". When Ross went to work, Denny unpacked the U-Haul, and those days turned into weeks.

Living with the Keefers turned out to be a real blessing for Ross. He became part of their family. Kathy and her boys will always be his lifelong friends.  Ross still talks about Kathy's cooking.  She is one of those people who can make TOAST taste delicious, y'know??

When you go to Kathy's house -- she can whip out a spread like this in five minutes. You don't even realize she's doing it...
Another non-Kathy picture...son Ryan and his family. Ryan has his mother's love of all-things-canning!! They put up hundreds of jars of garden goodness every year...tomatoes, salsa, soup, applesauce, jams, juice, name and they have a pantry full of it!!

In your life, people come and go. Nobody's perfect, and things happen. You lose touch...they move, you lost all the numbers in your cellphone. Stuff gets in the way, then too much time passes...

But the older I get, the more I realize WHAT A GIFT IT IS to have a true friend. So if you are looking back, and wondering whatever happened to your wonderful friend...CALL THEM. You might be surprised how easy it is to pick up where you left off...