Friday, August 1, 2014

Steak and Shake

If you haven't been there lately -- today you need to have lunch at your local Steak and Shake.

THE FOOD IS AWESOME...

They have about twenty burger meals -- all for $4....Their hamburgers are terrific -- and their french fries are better than McDonald's (which I love, love, love -- remember, people -- do not judge me)...
They go to big effort for the kids at Steak and Shake.  This is Lillian, building her first little cardboard car...
She has a fleet of them now...
She gets a paper hat, and a placemat with games and mazes...
And -- AS IF ALL THAT ISN'T ENOUGH???? -- Every day, from 2 to 4 -- they have HALF PRICE SHAKES AND MALTS...
This incredible salted caramel malted milkshake only cost me $1.75...
So -- that's our new favorite place, people. Steak and Shake. The burgers are AWESOME...and Lilly and I can eat lunch for less than $10 for the two of us. WHAT A BARGAIN..!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Project Runway

Did you know they recently started a new season of Project Runway??

HOW DID THAT HAPPEN??? As you know, I watch a lot of television -- and I never even saw a commercial for the new season.

The only reason I knew it happened was because my DVR was scheduled to tape all new episodes -- so it turned up on my list of recorded shows.

Of course, I was delighted, and I sat down, made a pot of coffee -- and watched Tim Gunn "On the way to the Runway" (introduction of the new designers).  AND the first episode.

Now I am confused....and disappointed.

For years now, Project Runway has gone bonkers with their product placement. I get that -- and mostly, it doesn't bother me. I understand that they sew on Brother sewing machines -- and there will be bigtime mention, because they are a sponsor. And the revolving "Accessory Wall" is such a joke.  They've had more sponsors on that wall than Murphy Brown had secretaries....THAT could be it's own television reality show...how many can you name?  Banana Republic, Macy's, Bluefly, Piperlime, Lord and Taylor, Belk...this year it's ALDO.  (isn't that a dog food?  No, that's ALPO...sorry)...

But then, it's the RANDOM sponsors that annoy the hell out of me. It's crazy...they have to mention the bottled water they drink...and those placements are so forced and odd. Remember the yogurt challenge?? Well, this year, Samsung gave them a refrigerator for the break room...so apparently, there will be a lot more scenes shot THERE as opposed to in the actual sewing room. And I am preparing myself for the challenge week when they have to go INTO the beautiful Samsung refrigerator and try to create a garment with bologna, carrots and milk cartons...

Mostly, I hated who the judges picked as the winner....I thought Heidi bullied the other judges into seeing this dress her way...and I just didn't get it.

Old kitchen curtain fabric -- raveled at the edges -- with those very odd torn sleeve caps...WHA?
Because it's not like they didn't have some great choices....there were many other outfits that I would have placed in front of that mess...
THIS would have been my pick as the winner of this weeks' challenge...

As always, I will continue to tune in on Thursday nights. But I feel like I'm the only person STILL WATCHING Project Runway. If Laura Mendoza and Connie Tkach are not watching, I think this could be the last season...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Freezer Pops Suck

There are all kinds of "recipes" on the internet for Freezer Pops. It seemed like a fun project to do with Lillian...We started off with the yogurt pops...
Using the food processor, Lilly dumped in one container of yogurt, one banana, and 2 tsp. of jello...
You can see the food processor bowl on the table -- and Lilly is trying to get the individual pops out of their holder...
She carefully poured in the colorful yogurt mixture...
Our second batch was pudding pops...
We mixed up the pudding according to package directions
To be a fancy, we tried to poke in some mini marshmallows...
.
Then, we put the tops on.....
Stuck them in the freezer...and WAITED
The actual pops needed an overnight in the freezer...But the best thing about this kind of form is that the pops are INDIVIDUAL...and you can get them out one at a time...
This kind of pop form is the WORST. You need to thaw them all at one time...
Dipping them in warm water didn't work...
So -- here is my assessment: The banana/yogurt/jello pops had great flavor -- but the forms made a HUGE pop that Lilly couldn't eat before it melted down.

The pudding pops tasted okay, but the forms were a pain.  Having to get all four pops out at one time was problematic...then what do you do?  Plastic wrap?  They were all wet and got icy...ugh...

The freezer pop forms sucked.  Really.  It was hard to pour the thick fillings into the forms, and they froze with air bubbles inside, then were impossible to thaw out enough to eat...and at the end, were too large for a child size serving. 

We will be making yogurt and pudding freezer treats again...but I threw the plastic forms in the trash.

There is a MUCH EASIER WAY, PEOPLE...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

2014 PORCH PARTY

Last Tuesday -- the day I'm having my PORCH SOFA REVEAL PARTY was the hottest day of the summer. With temperatures expected to hit 100 degrees -- we started the party with breakfast inside my air conditioned house.

My guests were my usual Tuesday morning clubbers -- the two Lindas and Sandy.  I'd also invited a few extra guests for the big occasion. My sister Ronda and cousin Kim. The menu was: fritatta with fresh pesto, popovers, and watermelon.
We got RIGHT TO THE EATING portion of the party -- and I forgot to take pictures of the food. Oh well. Who hasn't seen enough pictures of food -- right??
Kim and I on the old porch chairs -- showing off the NEW little coffee table...he is so cute..(yes, it's the cement money with her baby...I LOVE IT).
Even with the heat, there was good shade and a nice breeze.  We were surprised it was so tolerable, and moved out to the porch to take some pictures and eat dessert...
The fabulous foot stool deserves a post of it's own. (not to worry -- that's coming)...
The girls set it up many different ways so I could take pictures...then I insisted they all sit on it...
Here, Sandy, Linda and Ronda are following my orders ("put your feet up on the stool")....
WHAT A GREAT PARTY. It was wonderful to have my friends out to inaugurate the new porch configuration. It was only fair that they be the first ones to sit on the restyled sofa. God knows they've heard about it every week for months....

We did what we always do. We ate, we talked...we laughed...then we repeated those three activities. For hours.

We discussed our lives...we had a sew and tell....a special dessert from the Pioneer Woman....then more laughing. Well -- what can I say? By 1:30, we were all hungry again -- so I dished up the leftovers for a little lunch -- and it was 2:00 before the party was over.

YES, I DO KNOW HOW LUCKY I AM...

Monday, July 28, 2014

Porch Sofa REVEAL

The SMARTEST decision I made at the beginning of this sofa project was to PAINT the ugly flowered sofa fabric instead of trying to re-upholster it. OMG...

THIS WAS SO EASY. And the result was sooo good. Beyond my wildest expectations. Two coats of plain old blue flat interior wall paint turned the crappy fabric into a washable canvas. Linda B. asked me if the fabric felt rough...and after two coats, it seems very sturdy and washable to me.  I was DELIGHTED with the way it turned out...
Hey -- this sofa is probably 30 years old -- and it sits very soft...so I added this board (which I conveniently found in my basement -- big surprise...)
This would be one configuration for the big cushions...
And, they each have a small cushion companion...right?
But then, I'd probably never set it up that way...
I love the patchwork side of the small cushions...
And the possibilities do seem endless...
A few throw pillows -- and I'm ready for a nap!!
Tomorrow -- you'll see who came to my PORCH PARTY -- for the BIG REVEAL...

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Lessons from my Uncle

If this blog was all you knew about me -- my life must sound like a picnic.  Of course, I have the same ups and downs everybody else has.  I just don't WRITE about them.

Which is why I took the blog break.  It really was about that old credo, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all..."  At the time, so many people round me were dealing with such big issues -- my little blog writing just didn't seem to matter...

Thanks again for the emails and letters during my blog break. I appreciate your efforts to cheer me up -- and you did.  I want you to know I'm fine.  My family is fine.  We are a lucky, grateful bunch here in our Iowa cornfield...

********
My Uncle Melvin was 83 years old.  He lived a wonderful life, and he was ready to let go.  Organized religion was not part of his life. So, when it was time to plan his actual funeral, many options seemed unsuitable. His wife, Kathy, decided to let the family do the service. I was honored when she asked me to speak.

I wrote it so Ross could read it if I was too emotional.  As I worked on what I would say -- I had to start way back, when I was 7 years old.  I simply talked about who he was to me and my family.  I won't bore you with the whole thing (it was long..)

But I do want to share the last few paragraphs....

****************
Here some things I learned from Uncle Melvin about how to have a happy life. He never had many rules -- so I am calling them lessons:

  • NEVER lie or cheat. It will ALWAYS bite you in the ass…
  • PARTICIPATE: Attend every celebration, and always accept a dinner invitation. (Especially if it comes from my sister Deena)
  • TRAVEL wherever you can, whenever you can. It will give you a sense of wonder…
  • FRIENDS matter.  You have to be a friend to have one and good ones will last a lifetime. (and you never know when you might need one of them to build a ramp up to your front door…)
  • WORK hard and take pride in what you do. Work gives your life a rhythm and a purpose.
  • LAUGH whenever possible. If you do a prank right -- they’ll be talking about it for 50 years…(Uncle Melvin hated foreign cars. 30 years ago, his neighbor bought a Toyota Corolla and he loved bragging about the great gas mileage. Uncle Melvin started to sneak over at night and put gas in the Toyota's tank…one week, 25 mpg, the next week, 35 mpg, eventually an amazing 63 mpg…the guy was bragging ALL OVER TOWN.  Then -- Uncle Melvin stopped adding gas…and started to siphon it out instead…)
  • HAVE HOBBIES. Do something with your hands. Ideally, you will make something, then give it away as a gift…
  • BE KIND. Build people up whenever you can, and never tear them down. People will always remember the way you made them feel. Uncle Melvin always made me feel like I was the most important person in the room…
  • SHARE your life with somebody you love. That's what makes it matter...

Friday, July 25, 2014

GOOD MORNING, KATHY KEEFER!!

One of my oldest friends is Kathy Keefer. We met WAY BACK in 1973, when John and I moved from Washington, D.C. to Pennsylvania. We bought a cape cod house outside of Pine Grove. It had a small acreage, a beautiful little pond, and the best neighbors in the world -- Kathy and Denny Keefer.
This is a picture of Denny and Kathy -- on their porch. We spent countless hours on their porch...visiting, laughing, playing cards.  THEY are the reason we have a porch on our house!
I remember -- 40 years ago -- when Denny remodeled this kitchen and hung these cabinets!!
Kathy deserved a great kitchen because she is the BEST COOK I KNOW -- and she is famous for her shoo-fly pies!!
About ten years ago -- Ross got a job in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was a big move across the country, he didn't have very much money, and he didn't know anything about this new city. I suggested he stay with Kathy and Denny while he looked for a place. Their house would be a 45-minute drive to his job. He said, "Mom, I don't know them that well."

But, at the end of the day, he had no place to park his U-Haul, and Kathy insisted...so he agreed to "stay with them" for a few days while he tried to figure things out. Ross pulled into their driveway, Kathy and Denny welcomed him with open arms -- Ross started his new job, and on the second day, Denny and his boys unpacked Ross's U-Haul (when he was at work) -- and told him to take his time to finding an apartment...
For the next two years, KATHY KEEFER made Ross's birthday cake -- chocolate cake with peanut butter icing...
Ross loved, loved, loved the Keefers. Just like I knew he would.  He felt right at home there -- and he adored the Keefer boys. Kathy took great care of him. Just like I knew she would. During his time in Pennsylvania, he ate every holiday meal with them. Kathy's boys still say she "only really cooks when Ross is coming"
During his next six years in Minnesota, Ross often made Kathy's Shoo fly pie, and I always make Kathy Keefer's coleslaw...
Last week, I was shocked when "Kathy Keefer" made a comment on this blog. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??? I told Ross -- KATHY KEEFER IS ONLINE...As it turns out, she has a new I-Pad, and is learning how to use it. This blog is one of the first things she stumbled across...and this blog post will be a big surprise.

Welcome to the internet, Kathy!!  You are going to love the recipes that live here.  Thanks for finding my blog.  AND THANKS for being a Mom to Ross when he didn't even know he needed one.  Mostly -- THANKS FOR ALWAYS BEING A WONDERFUL FRIEND TO ME...you have NEVER let me down...