Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Is it Porketta or Porchetta??

Welcome to our 2017 PORCH PARTY!!

Thanks to my friends Mary Mulari and Nancy Harp -- this year, I had a special theme -- "Food From the Iron Range".

Our menu will be: Porketta (spicy, boneless, rolled pork roast) Pasties (a savory hand pie the miners used to take to work with them) Cardamon Bread, Lefse (here's an interesting video) Potica (a hand-rolled nut bread)..and sandwich loaf (more about that later).

John and I did a Porketta trial run the week before the luncheon.
He deboned a large fresh pork roast, cut it in two, and butterflied it...
The spices are rubbed on the inside, then the meat is rolled, and tied.  (in this case, we used the porketta sweater Nancy sent)
The spices are then rubbed all over the OUTSIDE of the roast.
They look great!
WOW.  SO DELICIOUS.  I cannot believe I lived this long and never knew about porketta.
It makes me wonder what else I might be missing!!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Iron Range Luncheon

Today is a VERY SPECIAL cousin Jackie is in town, and I've invited the TMBC to come for our annual porch lunch.

AND -- to make it extra special this year -- I'm making it a THEME PARTY.  The theme is FOOD FROM THE IRON RANGE.

THE MENU WILL BE:   Porketta, Pasties, Lefse, Cardamon Bread, Potica...and...wait for it...drumroll -- SANDWICH LOAF.

I'm going in, Nancy Harp!!

With any luck -- tomorrow I'll post some pictures of THE SANDWICH LOAF I MADE for the luncheon.  My fillings will be:  egg salad, ham salad, and olive/cheese spread.  I'm picturing layers of yellow, pink and orange.  Sooo pretty, eh? 

Monday, May 29, 2017

2017 Memorial Day

I wrote this post in 2011....


Memorial Day is an odd "holiday' for me. Because I work at home, I never really 'get Monday off". And then, too, I grew up knowing this is 'the official day" after which it is okay to wear white. Which, frankly, has NEVER been a concern for me. (cellulite being more of a problem than the day on the calendar...)

I think it's about visiting graves of people you've lost...which is very sad....but, then, isn't it also about BBQ and picnics? Which is very happy...See what I mean. It's confusing.

So I looked it up on Wikipedia.

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday observed on the last Monday of May (May 30 in 2011). Formerly known as Decoration Day, it commemorates men and women who died while in military service to the United States.[1] First enacted to honor Union and Confederate soldiers following the American Civil War,[2] it was extended after World War I to honor Americans who have died in all wars.

Memorial Day often marks the start of the summer vacation season, and Labor Day its end.

It began as a ritual of remembrance and reconciliation after the civil war, but by the early 20th century, Memorial Day was an occasion for more general expressions of memory, as ordinary people visited the graves of their deceased relatives, whether they had served in the military or not. It also became a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach... apparently Memorial Day can be whatever you want it to be. I will visit some graves this weekend, to remember people I loved and miss every day...

Then, I'm going to make it about celebrating my own personal veteran...being grateful we're both alive and well. John will grill something. His new thing is "smoking" meat...

And, I appreciate how much he loves to figure things out....he spent years of experimental bread baking....trying to bake the "perfect" loaf of Italian bread...

John's bird feeder porch extravaganza attracts hundreds of hummingbirds...he cleans and changes four gigantic feeders. His hummies provide hours of endless fascination....

for our own boys, many nieces and nephews -- and now the children of those children...

And, in his retirement, he golfs every chance he gets. At some point, on this Memorial Day, I hope he will end up relaxing in his Lazy Boy...because he has earned it!!

And, as a special favor to veterans everywhere, I have decided NOT to wear white today...

Happy Memorial Day!! If you have your own favorite veteran within shouting distance -- invite them over for a cookout.
2017 update:  MMWI:  242.2

Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Pants Are TOO BIG!!

Since I've lost weight, MY PANTS ARE TOO BIG..!!

You know what a cheapskate I am. And the truth is, I almost never pay more than $2.38 for a pair of pants to begin with.

So, now, after wearing those size 2x and 3x pants for many years -- you'd think I'd be fine with THROWING THEM OUT -- right??

But you would be wrong...

BECAUSE I SEW. And fixing, hemming, mending and altering clothes is just about my favorite thing in the world to do.

And it is shocking to me how, every time I have this conversation, one of my accomplished sewing friends will say, "I'd never bother to alter pants. That's waaay too much trouble."


Here's the thing. Somebody else ALREADY DID MOST OF THE WORK, PEOPLE! You can very quickly turn a size 3X pair of pants into a size 18....without altering the pockets, or the hem, or the elastic waistband. Because ALL OF THE REDUCTION takes place at the inner pants seam of the pants.

1. Take a pair of your now-too-big pants and turn them them inside out, then drop one leg into the other -- exposing the front and back crotch curve.  Lay flat.

2. Do the exact same thing with a pair of smaller pants that FITS YOU.

3. Lay the smaller pants on top of your fat pants, matching the outside seams (where the side pockets live). THAT SEAM will not be touched during this alteration.

see where I'm going with this??

4. Mark if you want...but I just cut away with a scissors. Start at the bottom of the pant leg and cut up (one layer at a time). At the hem, I was cutting away about 1 inch of the time I got up to the crotch curve, I was cutting off a full 2" of fabric.

5. Do the same thing with the two front crotch curves...and then, the two back crotch curves.

6. At this point, you will have two separate pants pieces.

7. Sew up both inside leg seams.

7. Turn one pant piece inside out, and insert the other pant piece, so the right sides are together....then, sew the crotch seam...front to back.

(tip: start to sew at the waistband at the back about 5" or so -- then do the same thing at the waistband at the FRONT about 5"...then, pin the crotch curves together, gently pulling to fit. You DON'T want to start at the back, sew all the way around to the may end up with a glaring, crooked seam in the front of your new pants.)

I swear -- it took me longer to WRITE THIS BLOG POST than it took me to alter two pair of pants. The first pair was a miss...(I cut away too much fabric, and the pants are so tight, the pockets bulge.) But the second pair is perfect.

Hey -- I just saved another $2.38...(I'm saving up to take Lilly to Hamilton!)

No -- wait -- it's better than that!! If I bought a new pair of Lands End pants, it would cost me $29. So if I alter five more pair...HECK -- I'M ALMOST THERE!!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Ross and Ivory Soap

Ross is looking for a house. So, perusing has become my new hobby.  When Mary was here, we went to a few Open Houses...and I've learned about all 33 parks in Davenport, Iowa.  (well done, Davenport!).

Unfortunately,  it's a seller's market right every time a decent house comes on the market that Ross might be able to afford, it goes PENDING before the day is over.  He is very frustrated...

Then, just when I'm feeling bad for Ross -- I remember -- I DON'T WANT HIM TO MOVE OUT ANYWAY!!  He is my television buddy.  Right now, we're watching episodes of  Sons of Anarchy every night.  (we've done Downton Abby, Mad Men, Entourage, Homeladn...etc.)

It seems to me I AM THE ONLY ONE who realizes how important these last four years have been for Lilly and Warren.
Uncle Ross attends all of Lilly's school events...
He's the one who SETS EVERYTHING UP
Uncle Ross takes the kids to the park...he's the one who takes care of their band-aids, clips their hang-nails...
When he takes them to the park, he packs sunscreen (or mittens, depending on the weather), and bottled water.
Ross has been working as an RN for a year now at the Birth Center.  He calls his co-workers "the other girls"...and most of them are 20-something young women.  One of them (I'll call her Jane) was   showing off her favorite lavender soap, which costs $9 a bar...

Ross:  YOU MUST BE NUTS!!  I quit buying Irish Spring when I realized I could buy Ivory soap, 10 bars for $4.50.

Jane:  (showing him her beautiful bar of hand-crafted soap)...Yes, but look at this, Ross.  Smell it.  You can actually see the lavender in the soap...

Ross:  I don't smell anything...and for all you know, those specs could be oregano.

Jane:  Oregano!!  Wait until I tell my farmer in France you think his hand-picked lavender looks like oregano.

Ross:  There are farmers in France who are hand-picking lavender?

Jane:  Of course.



You can understand why I'm going to miss Ross.  But I won't be the only one... 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mark Twain, Travel and dogs...

When Mary and I did our Ya Ya show in Beaver Dam, I talked about taking Lilly to New York City. And I shared one of my favorite Mark Twain quotes,

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."

The rest of that quote is:  "Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime."

I believe that the trip we made to NYC, the year Lilly was 8, will change her life.  For example -- the first time Lilly listened to the music from Hamilton, she LIT UP when she heard the lyrics..."in New York, you can be a new man..."
She could understand those lyrics because  SHE WAS THERE.
And she felt the energy of that place.
When we did this NYC jigsaw puzzle, Lilly was picking out places we went...
She recognized Times Square, and the Staten Island Ferry...
Central Park, the carriages, that's where we met Ali...
Ali was kind, and gave us a WONDERFUL tour...even though the elements were conspiring against us. Ali helped Lilly count the number of dogs she saw in the park that morning...75 !!
She will never forget it.
She has a completely different frame of reference now.
Remember Lilly's steak dinner at Sardi's?
That steak was amazing...
IMAGINE how exciting it was for Lilly to see this article in People magazine!!
Rumor, the German Shepard who won the Westminster Dog Show...
Ate the same steak Lilly did!!
Oh, changing...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Grandma Camp Rain Day

Last Saturday -- my original plan was to go into town for Family Fun Day at Fejerary Park in Davenport, Iowa. We've never done this before -- but they advertised craft activities, refreshments and musical entertainment. Yes...that would have been fun...but it got rained out.

The weather was cold and wet. The rain had been coming down in buckets for hours...

I told the kids we'd have an indoor-daytime Slumber Party. That'll be fun, right? We all put on pajamas, I plugged in a DVD movie, and made some popcorn.

Lilly and I both enjoyed Emma Roberts in the 2007 Nancy Drew movie....but Warren fell asleep.
When Uncle Ross is here, I don't have to worry about the entertainment...
It was just me and the two kids...and after six hours -- they were bored. And cranky.

That's when I remembered how much fun they had doing the Easter scavenger hunt!

 Lilly enjoyed READING the clues...
And Warren enjoyed finding the treasures...

In the interest of KEEPING IT SIMPLE...I quickly listed TEN things for them to find. I gave the list to Lilly, who's job was to READ it. Warren's job was to carry the totebag to put things in...and count whenever necessary. Then I set the oven timer for 5 minutes...
  1. Tootbrush
  2. Six Kleenex
  3. Three Red things.
  4. Four things with wheels
  5. A letter from the alphabet
  6. 15 pennies
  7. A Swimsuit
  8. A flip flop
  9. Something green
  10. A flower napkin

If they managed to find everything before the timer went off -- their prize was a brownie with ice cream.

But, when they did beat the clock -- they didn't care one bit about the prize. They just wanted to DO IT AGAIN, GRANDMA...DO IT AGAIN...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Grandma Camp

Lilly and Warren are H.E.R.E.A.L.O.T.  And I pride myself on having quite a varied and exciting "Grandma Game".
Here they are, coloring Easter Eggs.
Another day, decorating the Easter Bunny Cake...
On a nice day -- we ALWAYS GO OUTSIDE!!
I'm the kind of Grandma who is okay with a carpet full of legos...
I also think everyday activities, like grocery shopping, can be turned into fun mini-adventures.
Impromptu picnics are ALWAYS  a possibility..
I don't know who's having more fun -- them or ME!!
And I am PLUGGED IN to the local libraries, theaters, and museum activities...
And we have a pretty good knowledge of every park in a 30 mile radius.
Scrambled eggs on the porch is our favorite lunch.
But, even with ALL THAT HIGH LEVEL GRANDMA GAME...sometimes, there isn't anything going on...and it's cold and rainy outside.

That happened last Saturday.

So -- WHAT THEN??  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Funky Coffee Shops

Recently, when I was in Aurora, Minnesota visiting Mary, we had one day to do a little tour of the area.  We had a most delightful lunch at a wonderful funky little place in Virginia called The Shop Coffeehouse.
The outside was interesting enough...
But the inside was so unique, it screamed "I LOVE YOU"
Everything about it was spot-on...
Every mug is different and unique. This one says,"Does this make my butt look big?"
Every wall was full of art -- like this wall of shards of glass, which created a mosaic design...
Inside, it's bigger than it looks.
And the personal pan pizza was SPECTACULAR.
Like I said -- art everywhere.
Honestly -- everywhere you look, there is some spectacular piece of art.
See what I mean?
The coffeehouse in Virginia, Minnesota reminds me of the Mate Factor coffeeshop in Ithaca, New York. Remember that place? I was on a road trip with my friend Marion...
We were doing a little exploring of the downtown...
We went inside this wacky little joint...and Marion had some delicious spelt pancakes.
After our trip, we discovered the place is being boycotted by the locals because it's owned and operated by a "cult".

Really?  Like life isn't complicated enough??  You can't even enjoy a simple spelt pancake breakfast without feeling responsible for some kind of  David Karesh mayhem...
MMWI:  244.0