Friday, February 5, 2016

Friday Letters

I haven't written any Friday Letters for quite a while, but I do have a few this week to recap, express what's on my mind, and take the opportunity to offer a thank you. Let's open the mail ...

Dear Mother-in-law,

I love you dearly and feel I should thank you for providing me with so much entertainment. When I took you to the funeral of your friend's mother last week we had a great time together, didn't we? Listening to my seat belt buzzer beep at me continuously for 15 miles because you wouldn't let me fasten your seat belt and you couldn't hear it yourself was fun thing #1. You choosing to clutch on to random male strangers and the casket handles for stability instead of holding my arm (or using your cane) was amusing to all. The funniest was after we had been sitting at the viewing for an hour and you decided that you didn't want to stay for the funeral. Since you never, ever wear your hearing aids, your voice is very loud and your announcement of "LET'S JUST SNEAK OUT" at 98 dB was heard by almost everyone. Just in case there was anyone who had missed this, you were very clever to repeat this to two other people (at approximately 105 dB because you told me they were hard of hearing) on our way out. I value people who can make me laugh, and I seriously thank you for some real fun!


Hey Squirrels, (Sorry, I just can't address you as "Dear")

Consider this your cease and desist letter. While you may feel that chewing your way into our attic four times after we've repaired your damage each time shows persistence and fortitude on your part, we just find it aggravating and infuriating. It seems like you are trying to further provoke us by waking us up at night with the sounds of squirrel mating, producing more horrid little vermin to carry out your evil plans to take over our house. We will be fighting back with all weapons at our disposal, from cleverly hidden traps to Justin with his blowgun. You have been warned. 


Dear Fortune Cookie Fortune Writers,

I'm wondering if there have been some cutbacks at the factory? Based on these recent fortunes we've received, it looks like some of you may be struggling, especially you, Po. Maybe you've simply had to write too many fortunes or you're going through a mid-winter slump, but please work on, in despair. I've got some suggestions if you'd like help.


Wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and safe weekend, with plenty of noddles!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thursdays Are For Cookies

Or they are when you have a son who has moved back home and is able to help out around the house by eating cookies. I do love to bake, but don't do it as often as I would like to because neither John nor I need extra calories from home-baked bread, cake, cookies ... all the things I love to eat best.

Last weekend Justin was able to get the prized, semi-secret recipe for "Grandmom's Cereal Cookies" from my mother-in-law. There's nothing like sending a favored grandchild to do your dirty work! I have asked her for the recipe several times, and while she's too kind to refuse me outright, she has usually just changed the subject and the recipe has stayed locked inside her recipe box.

This isn't really a secret cookie; some of you may know them as Ranger Cookies. I've found lots of different recipes for those, but I wanted the official, original, Grandmom-certified recipe. Now that I've got it, it's time to make the cookies!

Whenever I try a recipe for the first time I always make it as written, but this dough was so thick that I only added 2 cups of flour instead of the 2 1/4 that the recipe says. My mother-in-law has also made these with raisins or used corn flakes instead of Rice Krispies, but we are definitely no-raisin, Rice Krispie purists here.

The scent of fresh-baked cookies and full cookie jars has the power
 to make me feel that all is right with the world!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

G is for Gift

John and Justin have been nagging mentioning that I've been coughing a lot for almost a month. I have pretty much ignored it, figuring it was just a virus and lingering cough, like coughs seem to do. Over the past few days I did feel a little "wheezy" and it was hard to take a deep breath when I carried loads of laundry down three floors, so I finally gave in and went to the doctor on Friday.

Imagine my surprise when she told me I had pneumonia. I really didn't feel too bad at all, and am slowly feeling better now that I have antibiotics, an inhaler, and cough medicine (with codeine!) The bad part is that pneumonia prevented me from attending my grand niece's first birthday party. When I let my sister know that I wouldn't be there infecting all the guests, she responded with lots of sympathy and offers of meals.

Yesterday I received even more evidence of Jill's thoughtfulness. She knows that one of my favorite indulgences is to lie on the sofa and read, so she sent me a lovely gift, Last Chance to See, a wonderful book by Douglas Adams (yup, the Hitchhiker's Guide Douglas Adams) that I've been wanting to read for quite a while. A few hours of resting and reading with a cup of tea has made me feel even better.

Yes, I was lucky to receive a wonderfully thoughtful gift from my sister, and I've been the recipient of her generosity and thoughtfulness many, many times in the past. The real gift is that I was lucky enough to get Jill as a sister. She may have been the pesky little sister when we were young; she may have been messy enough that it drove us to put a string down the middle of our shared room to keep the mess on her side (the door was on my side!), but it turns out she's one of the most concerned, considerate, sensitive, and thoughtful people I know. Thanks, Jill!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Ten on Tuesday - Groundhog Day!

The Ten On Tuesday prompt for today is in honor of Groundhog Day (both the movie and the "holiday") - 10 Moments/Events/Days In Your Life You'd Like To Repeat.
I have plenty!


1.   My wedding day. This isn't because I want to put on the dress (although I do wish I still fit into it!) and walk down the aisle again. It's because we were lucky enough to have almost every single one of our family members, friends, and loved ones gathered together in one place to celebrate with us. So many of those people are gone now, and if I could repeat that day, I'd hug them all a little tighter and tell them all how much I love them.

2.   The day Ryan was born. Yes, lots of pain, but it was all forgotten once I held my first son. I remember it well, but it was such a miracle that it would be wonderful to repeat.

3.   Of course, the day Justin was born. It was just as miraculous to hold my second son that I would do it all again.

4.   The day Ryan and Justin set up their squirrel trap in the pear tree. John traveled a lot when the kids were little so I often felt like a single mother for weeks at a time. I was exhausted one spring day and just sat on a blanket outside watching the kids have fun, too tired to object to their crazy plans. Their idea was to attach carrots to fishing poles, paint their arms with mud they had mixed up to camouflage themselves, climb the tree, and reel in the squirrels when they took the carrot bait. They kept coming up with laughable ideas that were fun for all of us all afternoon. It was simply a great day.

5.   The day I graduated from graduate school. There was a lot of family angst associated with this event, but I distinctly remember thinking "Now I'm a grownup." I'm not sure that was true, but it was a good feeling.

6.   The time we went to Glacier Park. The whole park was beautiful, but I was simply awe-struck by the color of the streams and lakes, a really astounding blue. A ranger told me it was due to glacial flour, small pieces of rock ground by glaciers that were reflecting light. I often wish for yarn in that color, but it can really only be seen in glacial waters.

7.   When we went to Grand Teton National Park. We took my favorite family photo at Oxbow Bend. I love the snow-capped Tetons with Mount Moran in the background and the family in the foreground.

8.   Any day that I've been in Fort Collins. Since I only see Ryan once or twice a year and he lives in Fort Collins, that makes it even better. It's a wonderful place, one that I always enjoy and feel at home in. I would be happy to repeat the days we visited The Loopy Ewe, hiked at Reservoir Ridge and Horsetooth Reservoir, enjoyed delicious cheese at The Welsh Rabbit, or toured the brewery at New Belgium.

9.  The day this photo was taken. It was Ryan's college graduation and Justin and Ryan had gone to breakfast together while John and I packed up Ryan's room. A college photographer took the photo, but I didn't even hear about its existence until a few weeks later. I looked through the college's Flickr albums for a month or two and finally found it. My favorite photo of the two of them was well worth the wait and search, as it reminds me of so much about that proud day and my two wonderful sons.

10.  The time I learned that I could think for myself. This wasn't one specific day, but over a period of time in high school that involved some mean girls, I gradually learned that I could think for myself, do what I know is right, and be my own person. I wouldn't relive high school for a million dollars, but that realization was priceless (that's why I'm smirking at graduation!)

I've been lucky enough to have a pretty good life so far with many happy moments
 I'd like to relive. What are the times of your life you'd like to repeat?

Monday, February 1, 2016


This weekend I did some ...

  • Planning: An Alaska vacation this summer. Hopefully this will include glaciers and reindeer.

  • Cooking and eating: Death Row Potatoes. This is what we call them because Justin said he would want them for his last meal if he was on death row. I promised to make them again as long as he stayed out of jail and off death row. 
  • Searching for guanciale: It's not available locally and is prohibitively expensive online. I need it to try Amatriciana sauce, but will probably just substitute bacon (or cure my own pig jowls :-)

  • Knitting: A cowl that I need to finish while the weather is still cold, along with some alpaca fingerless mitts.
  • Shopping: Not my favorite activity, but I've got three February birthdays coming up. Luckily, some of the recipients enjoy books and yarn, so it's fun shopping.
  • Walking: It wasn't especially sunny yesterday, but it was 50 degrees, perfect for a nice, long walk. 
I did plenty of fun stuff mixed in with lots of laundry, dishes, and vacuuming. 
What did you do this past weekend? Hope it was great!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

It's the Little Things

Since I've been writing down something good every day to put in my jar, I've begun to notice the little things and how much they mean to me in everyday life.
  • When I warm up my tea in the microwave, I always push the popcorn button (it heats for 2 minutes) because I love how this inanimate object tells me to"EnJOY".

  • This teeny, tiny, little O ring is a flow restrictor from our shower head. I had to call a plumber to resolve some issues and while he was here, I mentioned that the flow from our shower seemed to be getting worse. In about 30 seconds he unscrewed the showerhead and pried out the flow restrictor, fixing the problem perfectly.

  • I can hardly ever manage it myself, but I love that John and Justin can peel clementines in one piece. We put the peels on our radiators because they smell nice.

  • When John or Justin thanks me for dinner. It's happened twice this week so far, and it's only Wednesday!
  • Looking through old photo albums to find gems like these.


It really is the little things!
What little things make you happy?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Ten on Tuesday - Welcome to Historic Flemington

I hadn't planned a Ten on Tuesday post for today because I honestly couldn't think of Ten Interesting Things About My Community off the top of my head. After reading Carole's post and consulting Wikipedia, I may have some ideas. My community is Flemington, located in central New Jersey.

1.   We're a small borough (1.077 square miles) of about 4500 people, and the County Seat of Hunterdon County.
2.   As the County Seat, this means we have two courthouses, the old one that could not be made ADA-compliant, and the new Justice Center. Naming it the Justice Center means that at least two people per week stop in front of my house and ask where the courthouse is.
3.   The old courthouse was the site of the Lindbergh trial in 1935 where Bruno Richard Hauptmann was found guilty of kidnapping and murdering Charles Lindbergh's son.

4.   Flemington was settled in the 1770s, formed as a town in 1870, and incorporated in 1910. The early settling means that seemingly almost everything (65% of the borough) is on the National Register of Historic Places.
5.   Since we're rife with history, that means we have to consult the Flemington Historic Hysterical Preservation Commission before we do any external work on the house. When we wanted to replace our leaking 150-year-old slate roof, we had to have our new shingles approved.
6.   The only famous person I know of that is from Flemington is Danny Federici, keyboard player in Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.

7.   Flemington was home to Fulper Pottery, then Stangl Pottery. The restored building now houses an indoor farmer's market, a restaurant, and our only coffee shop.

8.   We're also the site of the Flemington Egg Auction, the country’s first, and, at one time, the largest, cooperative egg auction. It operated here from 1932 until the 1970s. It's a beautiful building with lots of carved wood inside and a castle-like exterior. It now houses offices.

9.   We have the highest property taxes in the country. Lucky us!
10. We have three traffic circles in town. They may be roundabouts or rotaries in other parts of the country, but we call them circles in New Jersey. When we first moved here I used to plan ways to get around to completely avoid them. They can be quite confusing, but once you get used to them they're really not so bad. Just keep moving!

From the NJ Driver's Manual. With no set rules and a plea for common sense to prevail, what could go wrong? :-)

I'm looking forward to reading all the other interesting things that Ten on Tuesday
 participants have in their own communities!