Monthly Archives: March 2011

Weird foods I loved as a kid

I read a fellow blogger’s post about Ketchup sandwiches (for more please visit Jumping in Mud Puddles). I can’t say that I’ve ever eaten a Ketchup sandwich but I do remember dipping toast in ketchup and only having that – toast and ketchup – as a snack.

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As a kid, one of my favorite times was whenever my mother baked bread and with 5 kids, she baked every week.  Because I was the youngest and usually hanging around her anyways, she’d often give me some of my very own dough to make into something.  Most often we made “dough gods.”    What you do is take a round ball of dough about an inch thick and fry it in butter, browning on both sides until it’s cooked throughout. Press down with a spatula as it’s cooking, like a pancake.  Slather with more butter and some home-made jam, chokecherry was my preference.  Heaven!   *Hey I was 6, what can I say.

Another favorite kid food was Dill pickle dip.  I think it’s only available in Canada, because I’ve never seen it in a Michigan store.  Yes it is just as it sounds but as a kid, it was fantastic.  It was the perfect accompaniment to Old Dutch ripple potato chips and, even better, if both were smuggled out of the kitchen in stealth mode and then rushed to the backyard tent for a sleepover with my cousin!  I can only imagine our breath the next morning. Good Lord!

Speaking of pickles, I loved (and still love) dill pickles.  A  favorite childhood lunch-time sandwich was Cheez Whiz + dill pickle.  That’s it.  Weird I know.

Can we talk bologna?  I actually liked bologna on a sandwich but only if it was accompanied by regular yellow mustard. I would not touch that gnarly pimento-infused stuff that my Grandmother always wanted me to try. Gag-a-roonie. Don’t even ask me to try Lutefisk.

Liver. Believe it or not I was that kid who would eat liver and onions. Don’t touch the stuff now.. something about ingesting organs freaks me out a little bit.

Beets and spinach. Two vegetables that most kids will not eat and yes, I loved them. Still do. Fresh steamed garden beets with a little butter & salt? Divine.

When we went to the summer fair (in Canada it’s called the “Exhibition” or the “Ex” if you’re 14 and trying to sound cool), in addition to the midway jam-packed full of rides, the horse shows and live performances, there was all that food to look forward to.  Saskatoon is a multi-cultural city and embraces the foods of many ethnicities.  As a result, we were exposed to many childhood delights. Even though some were not really “kid-friendly,” the ones that made my mouth water were the pierogies (sold out of Little Baba’s kitchen and served with sour cream and fried onions), the heavenly smelling Doukhobor bread, Greektown’s chicken souvlaki (served on a stick with cucumber sauce and shredded vegetables) and the deep fried ice cream (and ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and peanuts then flash fried).    No elephant ears for me, give me the good stuff!

Thinking back on all of these foods, I realize I was reasonably adventurous.  However, I never could embrace Grandpa’s love of sour cream slathered on his bread, my Dad’s sprinkling sugar over his popcorn, or my brother’s love of red hot fireballs.

I guess I’m weird like that.

What about you? What weird foods did you like as a kid and do you still eat them today?

Categories: Family, Food, Friendship, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Has being “capable” become a rarity?

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Last night, I was thinking of something that happened last summer.  We were invited to a gathering via our oldest son.  I had met the other couple before and while the wife seemed a little nervous,  she was nice enough.  Then he told me that she really struggles having people over.  One eyebrow raised, I remember dismissing the comment and thinking, “ah .. It’ll be fine. It always is.”

You see, although I come from a humble farm upbringing, I’ve traveled, lived on my own, and have always been self supported.    Not many situations intimidate me and I know that whatever “moxie” I have is because of  my very capable mother and aunts.  Growing up, I witnessed talented women who could assist with a calf delivery in the night, get five kids off to the bus on time,  hang the wash on the line (after using a wringer-washer to get our laundry done), manage a 1/3 acre garden, and serve multiple mouths multiple meals daily – all from scratch.  They did so with grace and good humor and, in my mind’s eye, hardly broke a sweat.  They taught 4-H, shepherded us to swim and piano lessons, drilled us on our vocabulary lessons,  and taught Sunday School.  Their gardens envied Farmer’s Markets and they cooked, canned, and pickled enough to get us all through a long winter.  I can remember many instances when Mom and Aunt Irene found themselves “nominated” to “put on” (host/plan/cook for/etc) a party in someone or another’s honor, often with little notice… for 100+  people.  Easy-peasy!  Christmas dinners in our family were never prepared for less than 35 people, 17 of them children.  Summertime cookouts brought scads of family members of all ages and, while some offered a dish to pass, many just showed up bearing a hearty appetite for family time and delicious foods.

Back to my story from last summer:  As is customary, I phoned ahead to see what I could bring and was asked to contribute a side dish which, to me, means “bring two.”   So, after a full week at work, I prepared a fettuccine pasta salad and marinated vegetable salad.  We arrived and found ourselves part of a small group of people milling around.  I was not surprised to see that our boy had prepared burgers and smoked chicken; I brought out my pasta salad and marinated vegetable salad.   The hostess presented.. with great flourish … baked beans.  After a bit of mingling we all sat down to eat.  The conversation was a a little stiff  but safe, focusing on weather, summer plans and such.   I could tell that he was trying hard and secretly hoping that we were having a good time.  I listened as her husband and others raved about the beans.  On and on they went about the beans.  And they were good but … really?   Around the table, as I watched as the entire group devour the chicken, burgers, pasta and vegetables that we’d brought all I could hear were oohs and ahhs about beans.

Glancing up, I couldn’t miss the raised eyebrow on the hubbs’s face.  He knew that I was thinking:  It’s not like she grew the beans.   These are open-the-can-and-plop-into-a-casserole dish-beans. Seriously?

But them something happened:  An old familiar lesson swirled around me again: not everyone’s experience is the same.   The experiences you’ve had were exemplary, and hers might not have been. Maybe this is as good as it gets?

I got what our boy meant about “she struggles to have people over.”

Not everyone cooks.

Not everyone likes hosting get-togethers.

It’s OK. I understand.

But here’s where the rubber meets the road: When someone brings home-made goodness to your table, maybe while you’re licking your fingers eating it, you can pay them a compliment, too.

Categories: Attitude, Confidence at any age, Family, Food, Life, Mom, Personal, Relationships, Snarky, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , | 18 Comments

The time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land

Baseball season is quickly upon us.  At my house, we all know when this is happening because the hubbs has a sudden desire to clean the garage.  There’s an urgency that comes with this project that we don’t see in others and the reason is that, a few years back, I gave him the ultimate Fathers Day gift – cable TV in the garage. He loves nothing more than finishing up his work day, popping a cold one and standing (or sitting) in the spring air to watch his beloved Detroit Tigers. Often, you will find me with him as baseball is a great sport for couples to watch.  It’s fun and exciting, yes, but also has enough breaks for us to talk! (Try doing that during basketball!)   Our youngest will wander out, too, especially if a storm is brewing.     Having the garage open and the game on is an invite to neighbors to stop in for a chat and a refreshment.  It fosters a sense of community after a long, cold winter.

Of course, growing up in Michigan, the hubbs fondly recalls listening to Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell as he so eloquently described the play-by-play on the radio.  Ernie, known affectionately as the voice of baseball, passed away last year.  The hubbs talks reverently of summer evenings when he’d crank the radio up as loud as it would go and place it next to the screen window. This way, he and his friends could still hear the game while they shot baskets in the driveway.

Ernie was known for his low-key delivery, southern accent (Detroit “Ti-guhs”), and easy going style. Some of his catch phrases included:

  • “That one is long gone!” (His trademark home run call, with an emphasis on “long”)
  • “He stood there like the house by the side of the road, and watched it go by.” (After a called strikeout)
  • “Called out for excessive window shopping.” (Also after a called strikeout)
  • “It’s two for the price of one!” (After a double play)
  • “The Tigers need instant runs.” (When the team was behind in the late innings)
  • for more visit here

Harwell would begin the first spring training broadcast of each season with a reading from Song of Solomon 2:11-12: “For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”

And isn’t this what we hope? That winter is past and spring will come again soon? Baseball makes us long for hot dogs, draft beer, popcorn and that unmistakable crrrack as the bat connects with the ball.  We remember blistering in the sunshine and shivering at sundown. We recall smiling children with snow-cone stained faces and young loves sitting side by side. Baseball means our National Anthem being played, heroes are being honored, and fundraisers conducted to benefit others.  With baseball, we think of summer because, to the legions of us who love it, baseball is summer.

The temperatures won’t get over 35F today in West Michigan but, in a few days, the season will be upon us anyway and I, for one, cannot wait.

Just for you, here’s a sampling from Ernie Harwell’s 55+ year stellar announcing career, more than 42 of them with the Detroit Tigers.

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Family, Home, Humor, Joy, Life, Men, News, Opinion, Patriotic, Relationships, Seasons, Sports, Thoughts, Traditions, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , | 13 Comments

On Apologizing

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“Sometimes apologizing doesn’t mean that you are wrong and the other is right.  Sometimes it means that you value the relationship much more than your ego.” – Anonymous

Categories: Attitude, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Gratitude, Home, Life, Love, Opinion, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Wisdom | 8 Comments

Good-bye… Violet Eyed Vixen

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I am saddened to learn that screen goddess Elizabeth Taylor has passed away.  

Elizabeth, so beautiful that, even as a child actress, she didn’t just ignite the silver screen, she comandeered it. The violet eyed brunette with the kitten voice and multiple marriages is gone from us now.  

“I was taught by my parents that if you fall in love, if you want to have a love affair, you get married,” she once remarked. “I guess I’m very old-fashioned.”

To me, and many others, Elizabeth Taylor was the very essence of what is a movie star.

Beautiful. Fashionable. Interesting. Persued and desired.

The very essence of glamour and beauty.

Let us not forget that she was also a humanitarian; a woman who used her fame to help others battle AIDS and she did so long before it was popular for stars to lend their status to any cause.   Receiving a special humanitarian award for her charity work  she declared, “I call upon you to draw from the depths of your being — to prove that we are a human race, to prove that our love outweighs our need to hate, that our compassion is more compelling than our need to blame.”

Stunningly beautiful actress and winner of Oscars, yes, but, most importantly, she was a woman who tried many things and above all .. survived.   And let’s not forget that she was a Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother who leaves behind a family who will mourn her absence.

Rest in peace Elizabeth. You’ll be missed.

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Fashion, Gratitude, Life, Men, News, Opinion, Romance, Thoughts, Wisdom, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Full Circle

cup half full ... an emjayandthemphoto

I can’t drive yet so our youngest son has been shuttling me around here and there.  So … there we were yesterday afternoon, driving the dog home from his vet appointment. Riding through the neighborhood and looking out the window, he heard me sigh.  It wasn’t a subtle sigh, it was a discouraged sigh.  A sigh full of longing.

“What’s wrong, Mom?” he asked.

“Oh … I’m just frustrated” I replied.


“Everything. I can’t drive, I can hardly do anything and, quite frankly, I’m getting a little sick of it, you know?” I asked.

To which he replied, “Mom .. What is it you always tell me?  That cup half full thing?  You’ve gotta remember that you’ve still got a cup; you’re doing better every day.  It’s ok; you’ll be ok.” 

The 17 year old reassuring me.

Talk about role-reversal.

I looked over at him, noting the 5:00 shadow that so closely resembles his Dad’s. I watched as he carefully maneuvered my vehicle into the garage, taking his time so he didn’t propel old dog off the back seat and to the floor by stopping too abruptly.

With unexpected tears clouding my eyes, I put my hand over his and gave him a warm smile.  Blinking my emotions away, I said the only thing I could think of, “Thanks kid.”

“You’re welcome” he replied, smiling.  Followed by his daily question of: “So … do you know what’s for supper tonight?”

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Family, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Men, Personal, Relationships, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , | 17 Comments

Reading and Recovering

I love to read and always have.   A good story can transport me, carry me away and cause me to easily miss entire conversations.  As a ardent multi-tasker, reading feels luxurious and, with a book, I always have a friend to turn to.
 Before my foot surgery several weeks ago, I spent a fair amount of time assembling a large variety of books, deliciously anticipating that I’d finally have enough time to read at will.  And I have the time … but the after effects of anesthetic coupled with pain (and pain meds) have conspired to sap my attention span. Regardless, I have soldiered on, determined not to fill my recovery days with reality TV, incessant news shows (that rarely offer new) or old reruns. Next to “command central” (the recliner that I spent most of my days in) are neat stacks of paperbacks within arm’s reach. These are the ones I’m focused on at present:   
  1. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen 
  2. Dirty, Sexy Politics by Meghan McCain
  3. Sh*t my Dad Says by Justin Halpern
  4. Heaven Is For Real by Todd Burpo
  5. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein  

  Are you a reader? If so, what are you eager to read next? 


book image from

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” – Anonymous     

Categories: Determination, Friendship, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , | 18 Comments


A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly.  You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.  ~Roald Dahl

Happiness is an attitude.  We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong.  The amount of work is the same.  ~Francesca Reigler

So often time it happens, we all live our life in chains, and we never even know we have the key.  ~The Eagles, “Already Gone”

The only people who find what they are looking for in life are the fault finders.  ~Foster’s Law

Every thought is a seed.  If you plant crab apples, don’t count on harvesting Golden Delicious.  ~Bill Meyer

No life is so hard that you can’t make it easier by the way you take it.  ~Ellen Glasgow

Misery is a communicable disease.  ~Martha Graham

A loving person lives in a loving world.  A hostile person lives in a hostile world; everyone you meet is your mirror.  ~Ken Keyes, Jr.

Some days there won’t be a song in your heart.  Sing anyway.  ~Emory Austin

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Forgiveness, Friendship, Gratitude, Humor, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Relationships, Romance, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , | 16 Comments

So .. tell me…

Categories: Friendship, Holidays, Humor, Joy, Life, Opinion, Random, Share, Thoughts, Traditions, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

What’s in your Relationship Basket?

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Lately, several different people have asked me for relationship advice.  Me! (I know, that’s what I thought, too).  The problem with me is that if you ask me my opinion, I assume you really want to know.

I’m no therapist, but I’m a fairly good listener and I have a good amount of life experiences.  I’ve also been lucky to have witnessed two very strong marriages: my paternal grandparents, Ausser and Pearl, who were married over 70 years, and my parents, who were sweethearts for more than 52.   The hubbs & I are celebrating year 19 next month. But, unlike them, when we met, we’d both been married & divorced.  He grew up in a traditional household and later became a child of divorce;  I grew up watching my parents go on date nights and speak softly to each other.  He witnessed fights and stress and matured too soon; I saw dancing and kindness and hand holding.    When we met, we brought our own unique basket of experiences to the relationship, but it’s what’s IN our baskets that has been so vastly different.

We’ve had our share of joys and our share of sorrows.  We’ve had regrettable moments when we were sharp and unkind with each other … but we’ve worked through them and moved on.  Asked recently what’s your secret, I replied that “there is no secret” – follow the Golden Rule and you’ll be just fine.   But, thinking about it further, I’ve assembled what’s worked for us:

1.     Remember that you chose each other.  Don’t save your best manners for strangers. Please and Thank you go a long way; speak kindly, and give credit where it’s due.

2.     Don’t keep score.  Well if he got to do ___ then I should get to do ____.  This is a relationship, not a video game.  It’s not always going to be equal; someone is always going to carry more than their share and who that someone is changes. 

3.     Embrace each other’s friends & family.  When you make it easier for them to be in your lives, everyone’s happier. Learn to laugh at their stories because you’ll hear them many times.

4.     Be honest.  When you’re tired, say so. When you’re lonesome, speak up and ask for more time together. Never assume your partner can read your mind. I don’t have that superpower, although it’d sure be handy on occasion! When you’re wrong, remember these three important words, “I was wrong.”  

5.     Try not to go to bed angry but, if necessary, agree to disagree.    That old saying “pick the hill you want to die on?” It’s true.  Many issues are just not worth fighting about, in my opinion.  But if I believe in something? Oh yeah, you better believe it will be discussed.

6.    Find a way to pursue your passions and feed your soul. The hubbs and I enjoy our time together because we  give each other time to ourselves. He loves to compete and is an avid sports fan and team player. I like to read, write and play with music and technology.  The point is that we don’t need to be alike nor together all the time to get along. And when we are together, we’re interested in each other because we’ve both had the time and space necessary to pursue what intrigues us. 

7.    Forgive mistakes and move on. Don’t keep a list of false starts.  No one’s perfect, including you.

8.     Listen: try to do so without interrupting.  When you give someone your undivided attention, that in itself is a wonderful gift.  The hubbs is an attentive listener, and that’s really good for me because I love to talk!   He’s taught me to be a better listener and I’ve taught him it’s ok to open up.

9.  Laugh. Often. At each other. At yourselves. At life.   We can’t always control what goes on in our lives but we can control how we react to it.

10. Do nice things for each other. I know he likes casseroles (and he knows that I don’t) but I make them because he works out of the house and these are easy for him to warm up at lunch.  He does sweet things for me, like filling my car up with gas on wintry days and making extra trips back to the grocery store for items or brands I prefer.

11.  Be each other’s biggest cheerleader.  Applaud successes and be kind with failures.  Support each other’s interests. An appreciated spouse makes a joyful partner.

12.  Make regular time together a priority by scheduling it.  When our boys were little, we didn’t have much extra money or trusty babysitters.  We’d bathe the boys & tuck them into bed, and spend our evenings together out on the patio. Singing. Talking. Listening. Laughing. We still do this today.   Our boys have grown up seeing us prioritize our time together, guard that time together and relish our time together. Date nights are scheduled regularly and they don’t always require that we leave the house.  As a result, we’ve given our children a wonderful gift; knowing what a loving, supportive and fun relationship looks like.

How about you? What are your tried & true relationship rules?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life Lessons, Love, Men, Mom, Opinion, Personal, Relationships, Romance, Self Discovery, Share, Thoughts, Traditions, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , | 35 Comments

4 Nevers

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Every once in a while I’ll come across a movie that I’ve already seen but forgotten.  A girlfriend recently reminded me of “Hitch” and I instantly thought of how much I’d enjoyed it.  It’s my kind of movie – a sweet, frothy romantic comedy. Will Smith’s character is smart and adorable and the film is chock full of juicy quotes worth holding on to.

What I most loved about this movie are the gentle reminders throughout that everyone – every single one of us – just wants to be loved …  we all want to connect and most of us stumble a little bit on our way to love.

Here’s a favorite quote from Hitch:

“Never lie, steal, cheat, or drink.

But if you must lie, lie in the arms of the one you love.

If you must steal, steal away from bad company.

If you must cheat, cheat death.

And if you must drink, drink in the moments that take your breath away.” 

Great words to live by.  

For a preview of “Hitch,” check out the trailer below:

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Friendship, Humor, Joy, Life, Love, Men, Opinion, Quotes, Relationships, Romance, Self Discovery, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

Radical Amazement

My Rhododendrons will look like this soon… yay!

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement… get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” – Abraham Joshua Heschel

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Family, Forgiveness, Friendship, Gratitude, Home, Joy, Life, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Random, Seasons, Share, Thoughts, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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