Friday, May 30, 2008


I'm experiencing cookbook OVERLOAD!

A co-workers mother died recently, and she was worried that her mother's cookbooks wouldn't have a home (not being a "cook" herself). I said that I'd be HAPPY to take them...little did I realize she had 200 COOKBOOKS IN HER COLLECTION!!!!

They've been riding around in my trunk for a week...I vowed that I'd bring a stack up each day when I got home from work...especially since they weigh SO MUCH, and the price of gas just keeps going UP and UP!!!

I think I have MOST of them upstairs now, and, after an "airing out" (she smoked), I'll start weeding through them to see what I can find.

I've noticed a couple of duplicates (I guess if you have TWO HUNDRED COOKBOOKS, you're BOUND to have a duplicate or two!), and some "fish dish" cookbooks, so I SHOULD be able to go through them fairly quickly, and make a nice donation to Goodwill (the co-worker said that I could).

I'm excited, though...there are some AWESOME Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks from the 60's and 70's that'll be a HOOT to go through, as well as some fun regional and "church social" cookbooks to look through.

I'm SURE I'll find some AWESOME recipes, as I sift through if I could JUST bring up that last box of's too heavy, and I'm TOO TIRED (with just a week of school to go) to lug it up the stairs!!!

If I find any AMAZING recipes, I'll post them here for YOU to try!!!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The number of beach towels on the deck rail... proportional to the age of the people "hanging out" in the lake house! I remember YEARS GONE BY when there were 15 or 20 beach towels hanging on the deck rail, drying, to be used again the next day. Now that we are all OLD, and don't really venture into the lake anymore, there aren't many towels hanging out to dry...sad...but I guess it's a fact of life!

Anyhoo...another Memorial Day weekend has come and gone. I have to take a moment to pause and say "we miss you grandma and grandpa Reynolds, cousin Doug, friend Todd, dear "mentor" Larry, grandma and grandpa Shepherd, high school friend Lisa...taken so young, uncle John, "grammie", and COUNTLESS others who have gone before"...I didn't realize "getting older" meant losing so many dear friends and family don't really think about that when you're "young", do you?! Yet ANOTHER reason that getting older SUCKS, I guess...

Anyhoo again...death and contemplation aside, it was a good weekend...Duane and I drove to mom and dad's on Friday there around 9:30, and were READY to turn in by the time we got there (yet ANOTHER indicator that we are OLD!!!). Almost got to be one of the "remembered" on Memorial day in Osceola, when we ALMOST got sideswiped by a semi-truck.

I was a LITTLE beyond the "stopping area" at the stop sign exiting interstate 35, and, luckily the semi-truck that was coming at me was able to 'veer' into the left lane, or Duane and I would be have been using a rental car (after a brief to lengthy hospital stay) to get back to the cities. I think I'm becoming spatially challenged as I age...I THOUGHT I was back far enough...out of the lane of traffic, but apparently I wasn't. The driver of the truck was MORE than happy, however, to honk and swear to let me know how WRONG I was!

Near death experience aside, we arrive in time to chat a bit with dad, and then went to bed...only to toss and turn the entire night, while a line of thunderstorms went through southwestern Iowa. I remember waking up TWO different times to thunder, wind, and lightning, but we eventually got to sleep, and, except for the storms and the "possessed" windchimes (you really SHOULD take them down if a storm is even REMOTELY in the forecast) got a good night's sleep.

Saturday was cold, windy, and rainy, so we didn't end up going to Doris and Charles' lake house until late afternoon. We spent the day, instead, driving to Mt. Ayr and looking around at a few stores (FEW being the operative word). We went to an antique store that was a LITTLE too junky for my taste ("Aunt Jennie's", or something like that), Pamida, and CGI (a local grocery store). We also hit the local Hy-Vee (which, from previous posts, you KNOW I love), and then went back to the house to use up mom and dad's supply of rhubarb (and some of aunt Francis's stock, as well). We made our "famous" rhubarb cream pie, and tried a new recipe for rhubarb oatmeal bars. BOTH turned out WONDERFULLY, and, by the time we left today, all were GONE!

After we baked, we sat in the yard, on grandma's porch swing for awhile, and then mom and dad went to the Lorimor class reunion.

Duane and I headed to the lake and had cavatini (which Doris kindly made and left in the fridge for us), and took a walk.

Doris and Charles were doing the "graduation circuit" in Des Moines, so weren't there to chat with, so it was JUST Duane and me. It was nice to have the lake house to "ourselves", but was SO not the norm. We only stayed for a couple of hours, then went back into Tingley to wait for mom and dad to get back from the reunion. While we were waiting, I started getting the chills, and ended up with a fever of 100.7 degrees. Not sure WHAT was up with that, but, took a couple of Advil, went to bed, and was fine when I got up Sunday morning.

Sunday, we headed to the lake and spent the day eating, getting sunburnt, lying in the hammock, eating, riding around the lake in the speedboat, eating, catching up, and eating...all that a weekend at the lake SHOULD be. It was hot, sticky, and, in other words, a TYPICAL summer day in Iowa!

Duane and I walked to the dam, and had a lovely time just being alone together, and we also got in a couple more boat rides throughout the day. Some of mom's cousins were there (who I GENERALLY avoid), so we spent most of the day on the deck. Jim and Toshi drove over from Chicago, but only stayed TEN MINUTES, and turned around and went back. Jim just got out of the hospital with pneumonia, and couldn't deal with the heat and humidity...what a HORRIBLE drive, to only spend 10 minutes there!

That evening, while we were out on the boat for one final "spin around the lake", Robin called (they had been in Kansas City for graduations on the "other" side of the family) to see if we could take the boat out, were they to get there before dark...they did, and we did, and it was GREAT to get another few laps around the lake.

We all went back to Tingley around 8:00, and got there JUST before the severe storm warnings kicked in. We all got ready for bed, and, before we could get settled in, were ushered to the basement to "wait out the storm"...reminded me A LOT of the weekend we moved mom and dad to Tingley...we spent a little time in their basement THAT weekend too (tornado warnings...sirens...hail...the works!).

Hanging out in the basement until the storm warnings passed!

We survived the night, and were able to spend this morning relaxing on the porch swing, and drinking coffee. We got around, and drove back a few hours later. On the way, we stopped at an AWESOME antique mall in Des Moines (the Regal Lion...Royal Lion...Majestic Lion???), then had a Maid-Rite in Ankeny, and drove back to the cities to "regroup" for the week.

Only EIGHT more days with students...ONE day of "teacher stuff", and the school year is over...(except for various curriculum writing, workshops, and summer school during June, July, and August...where did it go??!!).

Hope YOUR weekend was full of fun times, memories of loved ones who are no longer with us, and new memories of those that are still here to brighten our days and nights...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ashley's Graduation Party!

Just spent a GREAT weekend in Iowa attending a graduation party for my cousin's daughter (my SECOND cousin) Ashley. She's graduating from high school (along with three OTHER cousins!) this weekend. She's a WONDERFUL person, and I'm so proud of her...very good head on her shoulders, kind, fun, and a sweet, sweet girl.

I rode down with Robin and Dave and the girls on Saturday morning. We stopped at Carlos O'Kelley's in Des Moines (we ALWAYS hit a C O'K if there's one nearby!), then went to the sad, sad Merle Hay Mall to shop for a little while before going to the park for the party (don't ask what park, because I have NO IDEA what the name of it was). We shopped at Kohl's and a Waldenbooks (I didn't know they still HAD Waldenbooks anywhere!), then headed to the party.

It was great to see most of the family there...Swigarts, Webers, Browns, mom and dad...everyone but Darvin and crew (but since they are in Georgia, it's understandable!). As I predicted, the high school friends sat in a group on one side of the gazebo, and the "family" sat on the other, but it was nice to catch up with everyone, and, except for the wind and the pollen and dust blowing everywhere, was a good time.

After the party, we stopped at Hy-Vee (from previous entries, you'll remember this is my FAVORITE grocery store!), and bought "beverages" to drink at the hotel, then ATTEMPTED to get to where we were staying. I should say OUR vehicle got there, but dad called on his cell phone to say that they'd gone ahead and were waiting in the Holiday Inn parking lot. I relayed the message to the people in MY car, and Robin realized that they were at the WRONG hotel (we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn), but I didn't catch it until we got to the RIGHT hotel, and they weren't there. We called them (what DID we do before the invention of cell phones??!!), and directed them to the ACTUAL hotel we were staying in, and EVENTUALLY they made it to the right place, and it was all good from there.

The hotel is located right across the street from Jordan Creek Mall, so OF COURSE we had to do a little MORE shopping. I was WAY SAD to see that the gourmet market that Duane and I LOVED had closed. Apparently there are not enough gourmands in West Des Moines to keep a place like that open. Too was AWESOME!

After a little shopping and "recouperating" at the hotel we went to Red Robin for dinner. UNFORTUNATELY they'd never heard of the Baja Turkey Club sandwich (my FAVORITE Red Robin entree), so I settled for a Caribbean Jerk Chicken sandwich...good, but not FABULOUS (like the Baja Turkey Club!). I'll have to see if it's still on the menu up here in the's AMAZING.

Kim came over to the hotel on her motorcycle around 9:00, and we chatted until about midnight. It was great to catch up. She and Ashley used to come up a couple of times a year, and spent SEVERAL memorable weekends with us in the was AWESOME to have them here, and we got to know them much better because of those visits. We're hoping that they resume coming to see us again...someday.

On Sunday we had breakfast in the was WONDERFUL. $8.95 for omelettes, pancakes, waffles, cereal, toast, fried potatoes, sausage, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, pastries, fruit, yogurt, coffee, juice...whatever you wanted to eat! It was AWESOME...if you need a hotel in Des Moines, the Hilton Garden Inn is the place to stay!

The only UN-WONDERFUL part of the weekend was when Robin and Dave chose BREAKFAST to tell mom and dad that they were no longer going to be Emilie and Abigail's guardians, if anything should happen to Robin and Dave. I can see their point...they want Dave's brother and sister-in-law, who live in Kansas City, to be their guardians (something about "metropolitan area", and younger, more energetic people to raise the girls). The rest of the morning, pretty much, SUCKED. Dad was devastated...TOTALLY blind sided by the had an "inkling" that it was going to was a little more "prepared", but a REAL downer of a morning!

I understand the rationale behind the change in "guardianship", and I DO think the girls will be better off in a metropolitan area, with "younger" people to watch over them, and it's all "moot" (because Robin and Dave aren't going to die for years and years and years), but it was still a little bit of a "slap in the face" to mom and dad, and I feel very sad for them that this all happened.

After a little "pool time" (jacuzzi for me...!), mom and dad packed up the car, and headed back to Tingley. I think they might have stayed to hang out with us a little longer, but after the "guardianship" bombshell, I think they needed to leave, lick their wounds, and regroup.

We had planned on meeting Kim and Ashley at Valley Junction, a "boutiquey" area near downtown, with lots of antique shops and specialty shops, so went ahead with the plan. It was actually quite fun...they had their spring art fair on Sunday, so we had a chance to see some COOL local arts and crafts, and I got to eat my first "walking taco", or "talking waco" as we dubbed them.

I'd never had one before, but Robin said that they make them sometimes at Tupperware parties to show off some of the plastic. You, basically, take an individual bag of Doritos, slit the side, add seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and taco sauce, stuff a fork in it, and have a taco that you can eat while walking around. It was QUITE tasty!

After a few hours at the art fair, we headed home, and ended up back in the cities around 6:30. It was a (mostly) GREAT weekend to catch up with everyone, and I'm feeling WAY old, now that Ashley is graduating...wasn't she JUST 10??!! She plans on going to Iowa State University to study fashion design, and I think she'll be an AWESOME college student, and a GREAT success in the fashion industry. She really IS an amazing girl!

Hope YOUR weekend was fun, and that YOU got to reconnect with family and friends!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Will I EVER Be Able to Button My Pants Again??!!

Okay...confession time. I have NOT been able to button my pants AT ALL this school year EVER...NOT ONCE...NOPE. I've spent the ENTIRE year wearing belts that hide the buttons, and shirts that cover the "open" top to my trousers. I'd like to blame it on the pants being the wrong size, or the buttons being too far along the waistband, or something related to "shrinkage" in the laundry, but the fact is I NEED TO LOSE A HUGE AMOUNT OF BLUBBER...okay, really only 10 pounds, but it might as well be a ton...!

I've TRIED to diet...I've TRIED to exercise...I've TRIED to NOT stuff everything I can find into my mouth when I get home from school/am stressed/am tired/need nourishment, but the truth is, I HAVE NO WILLPOWER WHATSOEVER, when it comes to eating. Add to that the ANNOYING reality that your metabolism really DOES slow down after you hit 40, and it's just NOT a good scene.

I remember FOR YEARS wanting to "gain weight so that I could turn it into muscle". I was SKINNY as a teenager/young adult, and I could eat WHATEVER I wanted WHENEVER I wanted to, and never gained an ounce...boy are THOSE days over (and I have YET to figure out a way to do that "fat to muscle" thing...especially since I DESPISE lifting weights...!!!).

Boy have things changed...I had a physical about a month ago, and I've officially moved into that "obese" category (my doctor, who's like, 12, was very nice in saying that I was BARELY in the obese category, but ACK! ACK! ACK!). My cholesterol was also WAY high...269!

So...for the fifty MILLIONTH time (this school year alone!), I'm going on a diet...again...and it's DOOMED to failure (for the reasons mentioned above...mainly the NO WILLPOWER thing). Maybe by posting this on my blog, I'll actually follow through (some sort of cyber "accountability"??!!).

Summer is almost here, and I SO don't want to look like THIS anymore (shown with my friend Julie):

I'd MUCH rather look like THIS...
...but...unless someone figures out a way to attach heads to other people's bodies in REAL LIFE, and not just Photoshop...THAT'S not going to happen...sigh...

Anyhoo...back to reality...I DID find some cool online resources to use (BESIDES the Weight Watchers recipe "boards" at

I'm going to use the following to help me figure out what I'm eating, and how many calories I've consumed:

I'm also going to check how many calories I've burned at various activities at (the green box under "Calorie Counter").

I've also got a "weight chart" on my bathroom mirror, on which I plot my weight (every Wednesday). The "zig zaggy lines" aren't looking too good lately, but, maybe now they WILL start the downward zag...I can only hope!!!

As I said above...I've tried the "diet thing" A LOT lately, so I'm not promising anything, but I'm TIRED of having this "spare tire" around my waist, and I'd REALLY like to wear shorts and t-shirts this summer and NOT look like I have a beach ball STUFFED under my shirt!!! Ack!

Here's hoping that YOU aren't "battling the bulge", and that you can eat WHATEVER you want WHENEVER you want!

Gotta go...the raspberry creme brulee I bought at Trader Joes last week is CALLING TO ME...!!!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Mellow Weekend!

Just a quick note to say that it's been a LOVELY, mellow weekend (which is good...the next TWO involve driving to southern Iowa for various graduation events...FIVE children of cousins (my 2nd cousins?) graduating from high school in the same two week period...CRAZY!).

It started Friday night when I pulled my old cassette recorder out of the storage unit, and dragged out some old accompaniment tracks, and some old music to listen to. I found the demo tape I made while I was living in Japan, and some old concert tapes from my days as an Old Gold Singer at the University of Iowa...what a hoot (and cd's are SO much of the concert tapes is warped beyond repair...I'm going to check into transferring cassettes to cd's this week, and am also going to try to contact the U of I school of music to see if they archive those old would be great to actually hear the concert when it DOESN'T sound like it was recorded by muppets on drugs!).

Yesterday, Duane and I drove down to Rochester to check out the Gold Rush Antique Show/Flea Market at the fairgrounds. It was COLD, and CLOUDY, and even RAINED at the end, but there was a lot of stuff to look at. LUCKILY, I contained myself, and limited my purchases to a couple of vintage Iowa postcards, and a TON of junk food (curly fries with mexican beef and cheese, and a chili dog with cheese). I also found a cinnamon roasted almond vendor...yum!

After a couple of hours at the Gold Rush, we found a Hy-Vee (I LOVE that place!). There are only about SEVEN of them in the entire state of Minnesota, and I grew up shopping for groceries there, so when we find one, we go a little crazy (this is another reason that I KNOW Duane and I are meant for each other...we BOTH have a WEIRD desire to check out grocery other towns...on vacation...when we're bored...??!! It's a COOL way to discover new products (or in foreign countries to check out the local cuisine!), and we've both been "grocery store afficionados" from the beginning...).

I found PB 2, which is a powdered peanut butter that I read about on the Weight Watchers "boards" about a year ago, but just wasn't brave enough to go through the "online ordering process". I haven't tried it yet, but, at 75% fewer calories and about the same less fat, it can taste like tree sap, and I'll be good to go (hey...I like retsina, right, and that's basically Greek tree sap wine!). They also had True Lemon, which is a powdered chrystallized lemon powder, which is AWESOME in water and iced tea (and which I found on a grocery store spree in San Diego a few months ago...I LOVE HY-VEE (and am rather lame...I admit it...!).

After Rochester, we came back to the cities and had dinner at a GREAT local Mexican place called El Loro. I had the "taco loco"...a taco salad with beef AND chicken (I'm SO off my diet this weekend...I'm SO not going to be able to button my pants for work tomorrow)(I know...TMI!!!).

Today we got around and headed to downtown Minneapolis for the farmer's market. It was FREEZING, and REALLY WINDY, but I needed to stock up on herbs at the Dehn's Herb Garden stand. The poor things were wilting and dying in droves with the cold wind, but I DID find some terragon that looked good. I also found some pineapple sage, oregano, basil, and regular sage to put in the trough on my deck. They were out of cinnamon basil, but I found some at an herb stall across the aisle from Dehns, so I'm good to go, and the apricot/cinnamon basil pesto production can continue for another year (AMAZING on chicken breasts!). We got to meet "Mama Dehn" today...she's a hoot!

My deck herb garden last year

We were also able to get our first breakfast sausage of the season at our meat vendor...have NO idea what the name of the people is, but we've been getting the breakfast sausages since we started going to the farmer's market YEARS ago...they are AMAZING! Would have been GREAT if I hadn't dripped mustard and pickle relish down the front of my jacket, but, that's what Spray and Wash is for...right??!!

After the Farmer's Market, we went to A Baker's Wife for pastries and coffee (Duane had the cherry danish, and I had the peach Buckle...yum), then headed over to Minnehaha Falls to see how full the creek was (and, as a result how thunderous the falls are right now). It was AWESOME....TONS of water crashing over the falls into the creek below. Duane got a new digital camera, so it was a GREAT opportunity to test it out. If he burns a disk for me, I'll add some to this post.

Now it's Sunday afternoon, and I'm going to try to catch up on the FIVE cassettes of stuff I've taped in the last several months from television to watch...mostly a BBC series called "As Time Goes By" with Judi Dench, and episodes of "Cold Case". I MIGHT even get a little laundry done...the fun NEVER stops!!

Hope YOUR weekend has been good, and that YOU'VE been able to enjoy some "mellow" too!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Not a Good Week to Be Robin or Dave's Cat!!

I don't know WHY I'm writing about cats again, but this week has been so extraordinarily BAD to be Robin, Dave, Emilie, and Abigail's cat, that I just had to write a quick note to say WHY...!!!

Tuesday, while Robin was taking the girls to school, Tigger (Abigail's cat), decided to explore the stovetop...UNFORTUNATELY, Robin had just used it, and Tigger burnt his front paw rather blisters, but he's CERTAINLY hobbling around like it hurts A LOT today!

LAST NIGHT, I went over so that we could all go to a FABULOUS tex mex place called Laredo's (at Xerxes and highway MUST have the jalapeno wrapped DIE for!). After we got back, we were sitting around, and Dave decided it would be fun to scare Trixie (Emilie's cat), while she was lying in the window in the sun room.

UNFORTUNATELY, the screen wasn't very secure, and, as Dave lunged at Trixie, the screen popped out of the window, and Trixie went FLYING out after it! Even more unfortunate was the fact that the sun room sits on top of the garage stalls, and the drop out the window is about NINE FEET to the driveway below!

We all GASPED as Trixie, legs flailing, flew up and out into the abyss. Emile was on the sofa reading, and burst into HYSTERICAL tears as we watched her pet plunge out the window. Dave watched the plunge, and said that she had landed on her feet (a good thing).

As he ran out to get her (and the screen), and Emilie continued to sob, and Robin tried to comfort her, and I stood there with my hands over my mouth trying not to burst into tears, Trixie was calmly walking up the back stairs to meet Dave.

Tigger is limping, and Trixie seems perfectly fine, but if I were one of their cats, I'd be trying to find another place to live!!!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Requiem for a Cat

Just a brief blog entry to say that mom had to put one of her cats, Maggie, "down" yesterday. She was having bladder issues, and was bleeding from...places from which you shouldn't be bleeding, so mom took her to the vet, and had her put out of her misery.

Mom is miserable now, and could use your thoughts and prayers (I's just a cat, but she gets REALLY attached to her pets, and, Maggie, along with "Bubba", has done a great job of keeping mom company while dad is at work, now that she's "retired").

Rest in peace, "Maggers"!