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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Throw It Out Thursday: Kitchen Table Linens (Supposedly) Drawer

One goal of mine has been to eliminate Junk Repositories from my home. I detest cutesy Crap Containers, so-called Organizers, any flat surfaces designated for detritus to accumulate, and all manner of Clutter. Part of the reason is that we have a very small house; another is that I am home now for a large part of the day and have to deal with it/look at it.  (I dream of getting rid of my coffee table, but we do use it.)

When we went to set the breakfast nook table for our Informal Thanksgiving, the Kitchen Table Linens Drawer quite simply exploded. In the search for tablecloth and matching napkins, (and a placemat for Zydrunas's dishes on the floor), stuff was rooted through, and only with superhuman effort would the drawer begrudgingly close again...almost. Rick and I rarely use an actual table for meals now, opting for more casual dinners on the couch while watching the evening news. The Drawer, therefore, had become neglected, and while I was aware that it needed editing, I was unaware of exactly what had been squirreled away in there of a decidedly Non-Linen nature.

Here, then, is what got Thrown Out of the Drawer today:


First of all, that Lowe's receipt is so old, you cannot even read what the item was or how much it cost.  It was stuffed way in the back.  The little plastic tub was not in the drawer, but it is overflowing with the doodads that somehow found their way into the linens:  screws, a plastic bag of hooks from before my subway tiles were installed, a key safe, a light timer (like for when you go away and want burglars to think someone is home), a broken cover for my refrigerator's water filter, a partial tube of silicon adhesive, some hooks for my pot rack, and a slew of other stuff, including a ceramic cow's ear for a cow I no longer have in my collection.  Rick will have a little sorting job to do.

(I'm sorry to see that cow hook up there get tossed.  I love it, but I have nowhere to put it, and while the repair is an easy one to make, it will also be easy to see.)

And yes, those are actual linens from the drawer I'm either tossing, donating, or selling cheaply at the next garage sale.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: Baking For My Father

Saturdays were a very special day at our house when we were growing up on East 38th Street. My mother always baked something on Saturday afternoons so that we had it for dessert on Saturday night after our baths, and sometimes we had it for breakfast on Sunday mornings before twelve o'clock mass. My father adored fresh pastry, pie, cake, and every once in a while, a homemade pudding like tapioca or a meringue-topped bliss entirely misnamed Graham Cracker Pudding when it should have been called Fantastically Wonderful But Horribly Worky Sweet Delight.

My father often requested terribly complicated and labour-intensive baked goods, and my mother, for some reason, complied. I can vividly remember sitting under our kitchen table while she made strudel dough, stretching and stretching it thinner and thinner, its transparent edges hanging long over the sides. Every so often, I'd reach out from under the table and tear a bit of dough off to taste it. She would sometimes see me and reprimand me, but she never made me get out from under the table.

When my mother made pies, she often had leftover pie crust and allowed me to use it to make my own creations which she would then bake along with her pies. I would roll the bits of pie crust into pinwheels or shape them into flowers or animals. Then I'd sprinkle them with cinnamon and sugar, or if I was given enough crust to form a small tart or two, fill them with jam. When they came out of the oven, I'd be so proud of them! Carefully, I'd look them over and choose the nicest of them to present to my father on a pretty saucer.

My dad was always so complimentary and loving about whatever I had made and given to him, but he never ate a single thing when I presented it. "That looks great!" he'd say. "I don't want to eat it right now. Have your mother save it for me and pack it in my lunch, and I'll have it at work with my hot tea." Always disappointed, I'd say okay, and take it back to the kitchen and relay the message to my mother, who would put the plate away. I would snack on the remainder of my little treats that I had made myself and think no more about it.

I can't tell you exactly when it finally occurred to me that my father never, ever ate any of the little treats I baked for him. Embarrassingly, it was probably not too long ago, relatively speaking. As I've said before, when it came to my Childhood, I was Blissfully Unaware a good ninety percent of the time, trusting always in The Grownups and spending most of my life with my nose buried deep within books. Like cookies put out for Santa, my little pie crust treats were never consumed by the person for whom they were intended.

My father was, in his own way, a bit of a germophobe, and had deep misgivings about the Unknown Ingredients in my cookies. Had I licked my fingers as I sprinkled on the cinnamon sugar? What if I had not thoroughly washed my hands before I prodded that dough? Perhaps my mother had not made sure my pigtails were pulled back and not able to brush across the cookies' surface. Worse, what if I had coughed on them? There was no way to be sure, so there was no way he could possibly eat them. Instead, he spared both of our feelings with his kind fiction, and I remained happy for the most part, if a bit puzzled.

I buy my pies, except for two pumpkin pies every Thanksgiving, at a local pie shop. I buy premade pie crusts, and there are never any leftovers; you just unroll a circle of dough and push it into the pie pan. It's very easy to do, and when you're done, you're done.

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Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Teacher Tuesday: Quick Language Pricklies

This is the last Teacher Tuesday of November, and it's a gorgeous, sunny 62 degrees here in NEO! I want to spend a little more time outside, storing up some natural Vitamin D before Nature looks at her calendar and corrects her mistake.

Here are a few Language Burrs that sneaked under my saddle this week and caused me some discomfort.

1. On Accident. I read this online, but I've heard it said time and time again; e.g. "Travis locked himself out on accident." The correct phrase is "by accident." The mixup most likely occurs because of the converse phrase "on purpose."

2. A Real Trooper. I'm pretty certain that this is going to go the way of many, many olde fashionde sayings and because of its constant misspelling lapse into tolerated and grudgingly accepted usage. The proper spelling is "trouper" after the word "troupe," which is a group of performers. Just as the old saying attests, "The show must go on;" a trouper, therefore, is a performer who keeps going on despite problems and hardships.

3. Lightening/Lightning. This drives me absolutely crazy. If you are making something paler or blonder or weigh less, then you are lightEning it. That is a three-syllable word. If you are referring to bolts of electricity in the sky (which one of my junior regs once told me Benjamin Franklin invented), then you are writing about lightning. That is a two-syllable word.

Going outside now! This warm weather is bliss.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday Meme: Firsts

Someone or something always has to Be First. A few Firsts are memorable, pioneering, momentous, and life-changing. Others are mundane, routine, and incidental. Let's take a look at a few

Firsts In The Life Of Nance

1. First thing you'd do if you won a million dollars?
Call my financial planner and ask how much fun we can have with it.

2. First real grownup job?
Bank teller

3. First thing you do when you get bad news?
Wallow in fear and look for solutions as fast as I can.

4. First place you lived on your own?
My college dorm, then my apartment with my husband.

5. First thing you look for on a restaurant menu?
If it's a nice restaurant, seafood or duck. If it's a casual place, pasta.

6. First choice for dessert in restaurants?
Creme brulee

7. First choice in career?
I always wanted to be a teacher, but had a brief year and a half of veterinary medicine study before I went back to education.

8. First book to make a significant impact on you?
It's a tie between A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and To Kill a Mockingbird. I read them at about the same time and was deeply affected by both. But TKAM has had the most lasting effect on me.

9. First movie you went to without adult supervision?
The Sound of Music

10. First thing you do in the shower?
Think about how cold I am.

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Sign Language Saturday: The Huh? Edition


Okay.

Even after the viewer overlooks the missing apostrophe (and two upside-down S's), this sign has problems.  I'm struggling to find its message and meaning or any semblance of coherence.  It's as if there was a sign meeting and

Chairman of the Sign Committee:  Okay, everyone.  What should our Holiday Sign say?
Member 1:  Technically, it doesn't say anything.  People read it.  It's not a talking sign.
Chairman:  Ha ha, Joyce.  Okay, anyone else?  I'll write down everyone's suggestion on this legal pad.
Member 2:  Happy Holidays!
Member 3:  How about Welcome to Cinnamon Lake?
Joyce:  That's always on the sign already.
Member 3:  You don't have to get snotty, Joyce.  And it says "Welcome To Cinnamon Lake A Great Community", if you want to get technical.
Member 2:  Come celebrate Christmas with us!
Chairman:  Well, not everyone will be coming just for Christmas.  Over at the Lodge, we're having a Thanksgiving dinner, and also, don't forget the Christmas Eve Bunco Game and our New Year's Eve Euchre and Trivia Countdown Party.
Member 4:  I have to leave early.  Carl moved the Recycling Committee meeting to tonight.  We need to move this along.   
Joyce:  What's on our list?
Chairman:  Okay.  I think I got enough.  Meeting adjourned.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Free For All Friday: A Little Throw It Out Thursday Gets Accomplished In This Thanksgiving/Dog Show Recap


Did you all have a pleasant Thanksgiving or Thursday or both? It was important to me that I take the day off from Something, so Writing was that Something. Truth be told, I also took the day off from Behaving Myself a little bit, and did quite a bit of Curse-Filled Pontificating And Narrating during the Dog Show. Once again, my most favourite dog in the universe, the Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever did NOT win, nor did it get any camera time beyond its speedy introduction as part of the Sporting Group. To add Insult to Injury, the Brussels Griffon won Best In Show, and I was completely outraged. Here, you tell me:

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever
This dog did not win.

Ugly Brussels Griffon Icky Thing Dog
This one did.

I think my point is made.  I only hope the Canadians don't take it personally and stop making wine for me in Ontario.

This Thanksgiving taught me that, in addition to Throwing Out some pretty good Swear Words and Rants Against Lesser Dogs, I could also Throw Out the following:

1. Rolls
2. A second vegetable side dish

I fussed and fumed about not finding The Good Rolls this year, and went on a ridiculous 3-Store Hunt for them. After finally securing this coveted item and putting out said Good Rolls on the Thanksgiving Table, they were assiduously ignored and forgotten, left untouched to be put away, pristine and puffy, likely to be frozen for less festive meals in the future.  I also made the Executive Decision to serve only one vegetable--Jared's sauteed Brussels sprouts (the best thing from Brussels, ahem!) with onions and balsamic glaze--and it was more than enough.

So, to recap, here's What I Threw Out On Thanksgiving Thursday:
1.  Lots Of Indiscriminate Profanity Directed At Dog Breeds And Dog Show Judging
2.  Any Notion Of Ever Serving Rolls (Even The Good Kind) At Thanksgiving Dinner
3.  The Idea That A Second Vegetable Dish Was Necessary
Oh, and--
4.  All Pretense That I Can Make "A Lot Less" Stuffing

We were one less at the Dept. for dinner this year since Sam was vacationing in warmer climes.  I was determined to make A Lot Less Stuffing.  I still have NO IDEA why this did not happen.  I truly feel like I did not buy the same amount of ingredients I used to; I honestly feel that I mixed, chopped, sauteed, and seasoned way less.  YET, when I finished shaping the little balls of stuffing, I still had three pans full of them.  Each and every time I had to get out another pan, I was stunned and amazed.

I was not even drinking. No lie.

Speaking of drinking, we served two wines with dinner, an oaked Chardonnay and an unfiltered Pinot Noir, both lightly chilled.  And both Canadian. 


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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Way Back When Wednesday: The Lesson Of Dessert


When I was much younger, lots and lots of our extended family get-togethers (like most people's) involved sharing food. The aunts would bring casseroles and Jello salads and pies and cakes and vegetable dishes that made filling a plate a Logistics Nightmare. Very rarely was there a clunker on the table; besides, my grandfather would eat anything, and plenty of it.

One of my aunts, Aunt Eileen, married into the family, played golf, drank booze, and was fiercely loving.  She also made terrific desserts.  She once brought a towering bowl of butterscotch pudding topped with billowy whipped cream to a family gathering. I kept my eye on that bowl for the entire meal, but by the time I got to dessert, it was gone. My heart is still not healed from that, but it taught me a valuable lesson that I put into practice at a subsequent event.

The family was having a big eat-for-all at my grandparent's cabin, so we went down for the day to visit with the relatives, swim in the lake, and eat a lot. We met first at Grandma's, and my Aunt Eileen dropped my cousin Tim off there to go down with us since they weren't coming. Tim arrived with his bathing suit, towel, and one of Aunt Eileen's double chocolate cakes.

I don't remember how we managed to do it, but Tim and I hid that whole cake from Grandma, my mother, and everyone.  We hid it at Grandma's, and we hid it in the car on the way to the cabin, too.  We probably draped his swim towel over it, but more likely no one paid much attention to us. We sneaked that magnificent cake up into the loft in the cabin, hid it under a bed, and later, when no one was going to notice, we grabbed two forks that we had sneaked up there too and ate gorgeous, chocolatey cake at our leisure and by ourselves.

With absolutely zero regret, shame, or guilt.

And it was delicious.

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