Election Eve Reading and Viewing

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I can’t be the only one today who wishes Duck really was on the ballot. Doreen Cronin, who taught a generation about collective bargaining in Click, Clack, Moo and Giggle, Giggle Quack (and others) has also worked her magic on the American political process! Now, unlike with Click, Clack, Moo, I did not buy copies of Duck for President for my entire family, but I still love this gem of a book! It’s right up in there in my affections with Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m Just a Bill” and “Elbow Room”  and the “Preamble”in terms of teaching about American history, government and civics. Duck for President.

Enjoy the story here:

 

And because almost no one remembers why we have the Electoral College (hint: slavery and elitism figure in), here is Schoolhouse Rock to explain it. Here is a link to the lyrics.

 

 

Don’t Mess Up Your Ballot!

Voter Confusion Run Amok!

Classic West Wing Scene!

No matter how hard it may be, go to the polls tomorrow and vote.

 

Not voting?

 

Wouldn’t be prudent….not at this juncture!” Tell ’em Poppy….I mean Dana….

Hail to the Chief with the Ruffles and Flourishes.

The difference one or two people can make

ppbs3-24564259regFew things on t.v. keep my interest these days, but anything by Ken Burns gets my attention. His newest film, Defying the Nazis, the Sharps’ War moved my like few other films. Unitarian Minister Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha, went into the whirlwind of immediate pre-war Nazi Germany and did what it took to save lives. They did the truly dangerous part-leading those to be saved out of Germany. They are the sort of people I’ve always hoped I’d have the courage to be!

If you saw the show and were moved by it then you will likely be just as fascinated by this book–about another couple who rescued Jewish children from the Nazis.

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Think one person, or two people together, can’t make a difference. Think again. This book tells the amazing true story of two Americans, a well-to-do Jewish couple from Philadelphia who did the unthinkable: The went to Nazi Germany just before the start of the War and rescued 50 children. Lawyers often get a very bad rap, but this one used his knowledge of the law to come up with a brilliant solution to the problem of waiting years for Visas. I was humbled and moved by the blatant audacity of Gilbert and Eleanor Krause and the victory they achieved. This is a story of true courage and is not to be missed. 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple.... by Steven Pressman. (This review was originally published May 27, 2014, on my old blog.)

You may also want to learn more about how “radical” so-called Confessing Church within Germany resisted Hitler. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a leader in that church–he was a martyr to this cause. Here is the a link to get you started–my story of his engagement to a much younger, but shockingly mature, woman named Maria Von Wedemeyer.

Finally, if you missed the post last week, here is the one book I would hope I would go to prison defending–the Bible. Read it here.

This is not a political blog and I do not accept political comments, but I am posting this to help people see that throwing away their vote does not help anyone. Yes, your one vote, your one pair of hands, your one check, your one time getting involved can and does make a difference–even if it does not save a life. Voting, speaking up, doing. All matter.

Fall! It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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I can’t lie–I love Fall. I love the visible changes that herald the arrival of this season. Where I live the tobacco comes in to the barns, the corn gets turned into mazes, the leaves become all sorts of beautiful colors. But the big thing to me is RED! I’m a red leaf freak! Love red leaves. I’ve always wanted my driveway to be bordered by bushes that turn bright red in the Autumn.

 

These are some of the great NEW Fall things I’m looking forward to this season.

Food and Drinks

In the Autumn you are either a pumpkin freak or an apple fan. I’m the latter. I don’t dislike pumpkin, it’s just not enough to build a life around. And, nutmeg just doesn’t do all that much for me. I even feel free to skip it, or greatly reduce it, in most apple recipes. Autumn is a time for root vegetables and squash; for soups and stews.  If you tailgate or host parties fall drinks become crucial–both alcoholic and non-alcoholic. And who doesn’t enjoy ribs? Or desert? Or nibbles? Even salad is delicious this time of year!

 

Crock-Pot Apple Butter BBQ Spare Ribs Harvest Cobb SaladAutumn Infused Water; Carmel Apple SangriaHearty Italian Chicken and Autumn Veggie SoupPumpkin, Spinach and Walnut SpaghettiAutumn Brittle; Cookie Sheet Apple Pie  (OK, I slipped in ONE old favorite!)

 

Memory Keeping

While I don’t do so much anymore–well, let’s be honest. How many duck-faced selfies do you want to take time to preserve? I know, right? So, suffice to say that the teen years aren’t as much fun to document and embellish for the scrapbooks–or even the photo book! SMASH books–yes, I could SMASH some duck faces, LOL. Here are some lovely scrapbook pages you can use for inspiration.

 

 

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Fun Stuff

Bucket lists can be fun–or stressful, depending on your take. Remember, many of these things–like Corn Mazes, Hay Rides, Pumpkin Patch trips can really add up. Look for freebies. Churches often do these as an alternative to scary Halloween. A donation maybe requested. Just because Pinterest says its great, doesn’t mean it is! Do what your family enjoys. These are merely suggestions. Plus, Mom’s who love to Scrapbook need these activities to fuel their hobby!! So, to do Snapchat and Instagram addicted young girl friends (sorry, guys)!

 

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Do you enjoy Fall? What’s your favorite Fall food or drink? Activity? Football–yes or no? Leave me a comment or link to your own Fall favorites or other fall-themed post.

And then there’s …… Football…

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…and, all the men (and a surprising number of women) said AMEN.

Reflections on the Perks of Being a Wallflower or finding myself at 54 thanks to a YA book.

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Of all the high school books and all the coming-of-age books, this is the one that spoke loudest to me. It is the one that connected me with what I lived in high school; lived–not lived through. I was often that awkward, disconnected kid. I had to retreat at times and put on music and lock my door and escape from it all. Charlie! Charlie, you sweet boy. And Patrick, Sam, Brad, Mary Elizabeth–I’m with you all in my heart.

This is a book that well-meaning adults often seek to ban. It uses words they don’t like and discusses themes that will never have any bearing on their child. Yet, this is  a book that would bring about such amazing learning in the hands of the right teacher. (Yes, I do know that most classrooms are not blessed to have the “right” teacher).  Even a mediocre teacher, armed with a good heart and a study guide, could do a lot with this. But well-meaning people fear discussing mental illness, pre-marital sex, teenage angst, abortion and recreational drugs, let alone homosexuality and betrayal of a child’s trust.

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That’s a shame, because this book isn’t about those–yes they are IN the book, but the book is about navigating the world, about finding solid ground to plant roots and grow in. It isn’t about hooking up, it is about self-discovery in the deepest sense.  It’s about putting together the pieces of a very scattered puzzle and finding a the complete picture. It is about an awkward boy who knows he is awkward and isn’t ready to face why. When it finally happens, and he must face the truth, he does so commendably and with the loyal support of friends and family. Charlie loves his parents, loves his friends and is a loyal and steadfast friend to them. He takes great care to give thoughtful and loving gifts, but he realizes that he can and does”use thought to not participate in life.

And when Charlie faces that un-face-able truth, he decides he will go forward participating–this is the part that really hit me. I was not as much a non-participator as Charlie, but so much of this story WAS ME. And, yet, I didn’t make the decision to participate until my late 30s. I don’t regret my life–I really don’t, but I admire that this was his decision–and that another kid could do so because he or she read this book and had it speak to them. Charlie is a true phoenix and that matters. That is something so many kids could draw on if they were allowed to read and discuss this book.

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Plus, Charlie managed all of this without a cell phone or internet. That will be as huge to kids today who are accustomed to 24/7/365 access to friends, no matter what rules their parents think they set and enforce.

I’d love to tell how a few of the conversations in the story affected me, but they would be spoilers and I can’t spoil this for you.

I am amazed at what read this book, reading Looking for Alaska, and reading a few other YA coming-of-age books has done to help me sort out my own awful adolescence. If you can relate to what I’ve written, then get the book and read it. I listened to it–it became very personal hearing Charlie’s voice as he read the letters. It forged a deep connection and with that connection came some long-over-due healing. Not magic bullet healing, more of a “that’s it…” “that’s how it was” kind of healing. Healing helps at 16 or at 54.

What a book. I don’t know if I can watch the movie or not yet. Some day.

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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We all scream for Ice Cream Books!

Even though I have linked items to where you may buy them, I do not earn any money from this blog.51UGvsdDhkL._SX425_

Click to buy  the Meri Meri Ice Cream Van With Cups and Spoons

 

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

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Novels Not About Ice Cream After All

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Everything John Powers wrote about Catholicism in Chicago in the 50s and 60s is spot on. Hey, my paternal cousin was a Benedictine nun in Chicago from 1948 till her death last year–and SHE thought he was spot on! In Power’s Ice Cream book is the early adulthood volume of his trilogy. In it Tim struggles with the meaning of life, of faith, in one of the funniest ways ever. You don’t have been alive in the 50s and 60s, or even have ever been a Catholic, to love this book. The Unoriginal Sinner and the Ice Cream God by John Power.

 

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I’ve  been a William Boyd fan since college–which for you young whipper-snappers was back when the Gipper was President. I love Boyd’s books. Africa today is partly a mess because the great colonial powers carved it up using a map that did not reflect ethnic group locations. World War I was another reason–it upset that very bad map and made it into an even worse map. This is the story of innocent people stuck in East Africa during the onset of World War I. If your picture of East Africa is Flame Trees of Thika or Out of Africa  you will see flickers of that world, but then you’ll step off into Boyd’s East Africa and wonder how you’d ever imagined the time and place without him. An Ice-Cream War by Prince Charles’ Gordonstoun contemporary, William Boyd.

 

A Novel That Involves Ice-Cream, sort of…

 

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An immigrant tale that goes horribly, tragically wrong, but then goes wonderfully right again–thanks to a seller of ice cream! I’m anxious to read this one.

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

 

 

 

 

And now a novel inspired by a little boy eating ice cream.

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I love the story of how this book came about, so I’m reading it soon. I’ll post a review when I’ve finished. Meanwhile, you can read  more about the inspiration here.

A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton

 

 

 

 

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Buy the Banana Split Centerpiece

 

Ice Cream for Science Lovers

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Ok, this one DOES involve ice cream! I imagine though, that this one is beyond my ken! My Dad ran an ice-cream factory from the late 70s to the early 90s so I’ve seen the process in action. Don’t ask me to understand the science though!

 

The Science of Ice Cream by Chris Clarke

 

 

The Business of Ice Cream

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A journalist examines famed ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s. Who doesn’t love Ben & Jerry’s? I’m especially fond of the cookie core flavors, but anything chocolate works for me.

Ice Cream Social: The Struggle for the Soul of Ben & Jerry’s by Brad Edmondson

 

 

 

Homemade Ice Cream Recipes

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Williams-Sonoma is one of my Fantasy Islands, worthy of a future post! So here is their ice cream book to drool over. Oh, yes, you can make ice cream from it too.

Williams-Sonoma Ice Cream

 

 

 

 

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Buy the Talking Tables Street Stalls Three-Tiered Ice Cream Van Stand

The Life I Planned, Part II. The Life We Would Live and Two Great Books

When you crave dishes that your friends make you know you’re living your life right.

-Lisa Scottoline

Earlier this year I wrote this post on the plans I made for my real life back in college–you know, when the Gipper was president? We’ve come a long way, baby, to get where I’ve got to today. And, surprisingly little of those plans have played out the way I intended. For starters, I’m single–though I was briefly, and badly, married.

I’ve also written before about when a book validates some aspect of your life’s experience. Today, I’m writing about the plans for the life I wanted–the life the fictitious “we” would have lived and about a book that shows what that can look like in real life. I’m not at all sure that my last sentence is grammatically correct or makes sense, but stick with me, Ok? I’ll also be telling about a book that shows the way I want my life to be today. Sound fun? Here we go!

When my idealistic, broke, 20-something self imagined life in my future, I always saw a successful husband in the mix. I figured we’d have four boys, send them to some cool place like a Waldorf School, buy our groceries at a co-op (I’m sure we’d have grown up to be charter members in the town’s uber-hip CSA [Community Supported Agriculture] to enjoy organic everything. Yes, I was crunchy even then.) We’d have taken the boys to rugby (soccer would already have been too ordinary) and  gone on FolksWalks/March/Sports meet-ups where the boys would collect patches and hubby and I would preen over our perfect parenting.  When we got home is where the validating book comes in.

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At home, I’d have a lasagna prepped, salad and homemade dressing ready and a cheesecake cooling. Hubby would pick out the exact stack of records (oh, sorry! VINYLS) for the background music.  Our couple-friends would arrive, maybe a singleton or two, maybe someone bringing a visiting friend or relatives too, with their kids and maybe the family dog. All the kids would be friends and they’d charge down to the basement where they’d play sword fighting and make their own heraldic crests for the wooden shields hubs would have had ready for them. We’d troop down later, drinks in hands, to see a swashbuckling display worthy or Errol Flynn or to watch a Breyer horse dressage competition or to watch an original theatrical production!  Quilt Photo Source

Upstairs the adults would gather in the huge kitchen with the oh-so-ahead-of-the-curve island and grab a stool. Hubs would mix cocktails and poor wine (it goes without saying, doesn’t it, that perfect hubs would be adorably–and not obnoxiously or pretentiously–into wine once he hit 30. I’m sure he’d make his own, too, even after the homemade beer fiasco at 28). We’d all be friends from rugby league or volkwalking or community activism or Waldorf school or socially active church or the co-op/Farmer’s Market/CSA.We’d value our differences, swap recipes for heirloom grains and gab about the hell of organic cotton diapering. (Yes pretention is a theme in these dreams–I just didn’t know it then).

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Shauna Niequest, then, is living my planned life. Her Grand Rapids dinners, held in, your guessed it a 1920’s home (though it was tiny) in that sort of neighborhood , her cooking club (I would TOTALLY have started one!), the support group–friend-mily (friend-family) group, is how I saw my life. I thought it would be like being in the one sincerely supportive Church Small Group ever created (and I’ve been in a darned great Small Group before so I do know a thing or two about this!!).

We’d have that younger one in the group who brought dates to be checked out. We’d have a hipster oldster who weaves her own shawls or that silver fox guy who plays his flute at church in our group, too. We’d all do STIMULATING work and read the New Yorker and pass around articles and swap books and be  our own  book club. We’d talk about airfares to New York  or Chicago for Adults Only day trip get-a-ways to great art exhibits or shows. We’d support the Arts In Our Area, do the PBS pledge drive phone bank together and watch each others’ kids in Community Theater. Sigh.

I wanted so badly to fill it  [our first home] with laughter and memories and celebration that I overlooked what it lacked, and threw the door open at every opportunity…..What people are craving isn’t perfection, people are longing to feel like they’re home. If you create a space full of character and creativity and soul, they’ll take their shoes off and curl up with gratitude and rest….it isn’t about perfection its about your performance.” (Bread and Wine… by Shauna Niequist).

This is how I saw it at my house–don’t get me wrong. I’d never want to be the house where all the kids gathered. No. Just no. I wanted to create a community of friends family, a friend-mily, for myself and MY children. I wanted to be the one who hosted the Saturday dinners where we’d sit and talk till the wee hours of the morning, kids asleep like puppies in a pile in sleeping bags and beds where ever they landed. I wanted my friends to know exactly where the plastic forks were kept and where the tampons were stashed in the downstairs bathroom. I wanted mine to be the group Settlement House, if you will. I’d be the cook, the librarian (of course) and  they’d be the conversation, the bring-me-out-of-my-shell folks who might be crazy enough to read Vampire books or horror fiction, but who could have fun of the right sort and laugh at the same sorts of things I laugh at.

I know this can happen because it is the life my cousin has lived. The long-single friend who helped with everyone’s kids but finally found true love was eagerly included in the group and her happy marriage celebrated. My Aunt and Uncle and occasionally other “group” parents were included eagerly, too. All the seven kids grew up like cousins, playing, arguing, surviving trigonometry and CCD class, living thru the trials and tribulations of dating and college and coming-of-age together.

These friends gathered in one house or the other–my cousin’s home usually in the winter since another family had a pool for summer. The Moms worked it out so all could work but no one ever had to use day care centers or paid babysitters (Grandmas and other friends helped when necessary, too). When I visited I was welcomed, teased, lectured, made fun or and laughed with over and over again. They picked up each others’ kids when needed–even if their own child wasn’t at that movie or in that activity. One Dad found the comfort to return to writing songs and singing and playing his guitar at these gatherings and everyone loved it. They celebrated First Communion and graduation, and, yes, they came together fabulously to morn and support my cousin when her husband died suddenly and way too young. This is what I mean about friend-mily.

I’ll be writing more about Shauna Niequist’s Bread and Wine: A Love Letter Around the Table With Recipes in a series I’m prepping on hospitality. For now, though I just love the stories she’s told about gathering her friends and about her Cooking Club supporting each other and about making friend-mily (family of friends) and serving good, unpretentious food. I love how she shares her friends milestones and enjoys them.

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Lisa Scottoline’s new essay collection, written with her daughter Francesca Serrittella, is called I’ve Got Sand In All The Wrong Places. In it she tells the story of a group of friends she loves. The meet a couple of times a year at the same house for dinners they’ve come to love out of that friend’s cooking repertoire. All were horse moms. If you’re a horse person, you know this can bring together very disparate types of people!

While they did the American version of Princes William and Harry’s Diana-approved Pony Club, don’t for a moment think that means they all go fox hunting! It just means their kids were serious about horses. Like I was as a kid (you can read about that here.) These Moms, many of whom are no longer even involved with horses, have stayed bonded together and supportive. The quote at the top of this post is about them.

Life is what happens when we’re making other plans. Today, I live just “too far” from my group of friends to do much in the way of gathering. But I came very close to this for a few years just before and right after I adopted my kids. I loved that time in my life. Loved the fun of it. I want that again for whatever I’ll call my retirement.

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Gal-Pal Beach Day!

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Pebbles and Bam-Bam are back at school. Fred and Barney are at the gravel pit. Now it’s time for Wilma and Betty to hit the beach and celebrate! Yes, celebrate! They survived another summer at home with the kids, another family car trip vacation and they’re pretty pumped! Why? Cause when they asked the most important question, “But did you die???” The answer is a resounding NO!  Today I’m taking all you gal-pals to the beach. Of course, where I live that means walking or being truly American and driving the two miles or so to the beach at the Lake in my neighborhood. It’s still sand, ok??? Let’s pack the beach bag, shall we?

Swimsuits

Wear one, or wear shorts and a tank top or….wear whatever fits, is paid for, and you aren’t ashamed to be seen out in public wearing. This is southern Ohio, not the South of France! We value tattoos that are spelled correctly, but all y’all is grammatically correct so that leaves a lot of latitude for the dress code.

Drinks

I imagine open container laws apply, but that doesn’t stop the drunks driving away from the bar so why not have a little tipple if you are so inclined! And, if not, we’ll make some flavored water with lots of great faux-promises of instant cellulite reduction. Or open a Diet Dr Pepper–whatever works for you.

 

Entertainment

I can’t promise Orlando Bloom waving his…er….paddle …but there’s probably some hot young rednecks with sagging trunks, sleeve tattoos and a Marlborough on their lips (hopefully its a Marlborough….we’ll just call it one). That tan, those abs, those groin creases, that sun-bleached hair…..Ok, ok, he’s as young as your son. So what? He’s not your son! Be sure to pack extra batteries for the misting fans. Now to do in that good-for-nothing little trollop trying to get him out of view!

Food

Salted Carmel Gelato? Birthday Cake Muddy-Buddies? Chex Mix? Guac and chips? Homemade salsa. Hot dogs at the snack shack–sure, why not. You’ve just spent the whole summer telling the kids how horrible those things are, but sure–have one. Load it down with relish and mustard and onions. Oh go on! That cute guy is so not going to come kiss you and gag on the onions. Look–he’s …. um, don’t look…. You’ll cry, but dam the little trollop is sure having a happiness project of her own! Film on Youtube at 11 I bet. Geesh, get a Love Shack already, why don’t ya?

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Ok, now that we have skipped that little fantasy island, lets’ get real. Here are some great books for gal-pals at the beach. Share ear buds, buy two copies, take turns reading aloud–what ever. Just enjoy!

 

Beach Books

 

For All Gal-Pals

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Lisa Scottoline and daughter Francesca Serritella  have a new collection of essays out and they are GREAT! I’m listening to them on my commute. Like I always say about their Mother-Daughter gabfests, it’s like going on a road trip with your best friends. Chocolate, pet-love, living a New and Improved Life (i.e. getting older) this dynamic duo is required reading for Gal-Pals and Gal-Pal book clubs!! Don’t blame me if you start hoping Bradley Cooper takes up paddling…..

I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places.

 

 

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I laughed so hard reading these that I suffered the embarrassment of … leakage [i.e., laughed till I peed]. And what Gal-Pal day hasn’t been improved by leakage? Especially leakage that becomes mutual due to laughter? These texts cover a large variety of classic literature–not just Jane Eyre. The humor is ranges from sublime to down right, almost raunchy. In short this book is a blast!

Texts from Jane Eyre.

 

 

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For the Mommy-Years Gal Pals

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Yes, your child WILL eat rocket salad (I think that’s arugula). Read this book and learn how. Or laugh till you pee at the very idea of ANY of this taking hold in suburbia. Where’s the soccer league?  Where’s the paint by wine classes? Hilarious to read though. Just imagine little Jacque-son having to put away that word-search puzzle of back-to-school words and do French homework. Why yes, we did bring a second bottle of wine…..

Bringing Up Bebe

 

 

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Since no one has written Duchess Kate’s Guide to Fabulous Parenting (probably coming out after Pippa’s honeymoon), I’m adding this one to the list. Because no one, No. One. wants to micromanage a suburban childhood these days, if they’re honest. It’s too much work. But, they can’t stand the shaming that would go with quitting! You can read this and play “remember when?” As in, “remember when we swore we’d only breast feed…” and your Gal-Pal says back, “Worst 8 minutes of my life…..” Things like that. Now, if your Gal-Pal is a Kate-worshipper who has an entire Pinterest board of her own ORIGINAL play-date themes, well….you might just skip this one so you don’t have to keep saying “Yes, really….” to her.  Slacker Mom Handbook.

 

 

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This one should generate the snot rockets red glare out the nose! Honestly, is there anything worse than married sex with kids in the house? Now, if your Gal-Pal is a Kate-wanna be, just skip this one. If you Gal-Pal is normal though, follow it up by re-watching the  FRIENDS episode with “girth” mentioned. Or search for the uncensored Orlando Bloom photos and try to picture you and hubs doing that? I know right…. No, I wouldn’t want to help with the Calamine lotion, either, thank you! But what are Gal-Pals for, but to laugh and cry with?

Mars and Venus in the Bedroom

 

 

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For the Empty Nest and Retirement Years Gal-Pals

 

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He’s home. He’s underfoot. He’s in your space. He wants  lunch but after 37 years in the same house he can’t find the lunch meat. Annoying? You bet!  But you  pledged till death do us part! Make him into a lamp? Maybe not. Compare notes with your Gal-Pal on just how horrible retirement is some days.

 

101 Things to do with Your Retired Man

 

 

The Slacker Granny Book

I couldn’t find a good Slacker Granny book, but if I do, I’ll re-post this. Surely there’s a book out there that teaches you how to escape being your grandchild’s day care or how to get out of those ghastly overnights so the parents can make naughty alone at bedtime. After all, your kids survived a weekly dose of Benadryl, so can your grandkids, right?  And what to do with that in-law from hell who won’t eat anything you serve? How to help your  daughter leave the son-in-law who turned out as badly as you knew he would, but not get stuck with your kid, their kids and their pets living in your house. That kind of book. Any publishers reading this? I’m available to write it!

 

The Midlife Gals

Not only will you laugh till you leak, they’ll talk about laughing till you leak… and middle aged s%x and caring for the aged one and….they’re great. And they also review movies. Too fun! KK and Sal-Gal are a hoot! Required viewing from the first moment of Peri-menupase.

 

 

Have another must-read or must-watch item for this list? Leave me a comment.

 

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by Carol Carmichael

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Main Street Grille

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Sunday I enjoyed trying a family-friendly part of my local food scene: The Main Street Grille. I LOVED IT!  If Mayberry was real and in Ohio then this is where Andy Taylor would eat lunch when Aunt Bee was helping get the Church Social decorating done!

Sardinia is about 40 miles east of Cincinnati–right in Amish country. If you are in area to visit local Amish attractions, to see fall foliage, or to enjoy Ohio’s Little State Fair (i.e. the Brown County Fair in nearby Georgetown), then be sure to make the Main Street Grille one of your meal destinations.

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Let’s start with the place itself. The outside has recently been redone and looks so inviting! I’m a sucker for a red barn any day so the red siding and stucco are a very pleasing look. Inside I found a welcoming decor that was pleasing and fabulously clean and inviting. TVs were on, but not blaring (expect to see the Bengals and Reds on whenever possible, though!). Floor space was ample, and table arrangement nicely flexible to allow for gatherings of friends and family with little inconvenience.  There were also nice comfy booths for more private dining.

Photo Source: Main Street Grille

 

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The staff were all very friendly, but not intrusive–no one caught me with my mouth full to ask how I liked it! They were attentive and offered friendly tips such as what dipping sauces they liked with the corn nuggets I ordered. [Full disclosure here–my son is part-time employee, but I dealt with everyone else on the staff to see what they were like and I paid full price for my meal]. I was happy to see that they treated all customers like they were a staff member’s Mom. An elderly couple came in for lunch and were warmly and sincerely welcomed. In a small town you always need to add the sincerity so no one stops Grandma at Church to say you were rude! Another diner was cheerfully queried if he wanted his usual Sunday pizza–it is that kind of place. What’s not to love? It’s like Cheers, right?

 

Source: Main Street Grille

The food is high quality, but area-friendly.You won’t likely find quiona on the menu–at least not very often! I liked the foodie-approved handwritten menus–the food and cocktail specials change often, so be sure to read them on each visit. The main items are pizzas, hot sandwiches and burgers, salads and a large variety of appetizers such as the corn nuggets I tried and loved, friend veggies, nachos. You could call the menu 21st Century Midwest Diner! Being close to Cincinnati there is, of course, chili.   There are weekly specials that feature more traditional Midwest dinners like meatloaf, lasagna, pork chops and the fried chicken. The prices are very area-friendly. Why go to fast-food when you can have GREAT Food for about the same price?

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I chose a Philly Cheesesteak and it rivaled the ones I’ve had in Philadelphia in years past. The bun was a Midwest-approved soft, white bun that stayed together (no cheap hot dog buns here, thank you!) with ample beef, onions, peppers and mushrooms and, best of all, plenty of cheese! Personally, I had to take half home. I have heard great things, too, about the Pizza Hoagie. Next time I think I’ll give it a try.

Photo source: Main Street Grille

Then there is desert. Honey, this is Southern Ohio–we DO desert. Their cakes and other deserts (featured on their Facebook page) are mouth-watering. Just what Grandma makes and just as good–or better! Sunday they featured a to-die-for Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cake!! (See the largest photo above.) Oh my my! Previously, I’d had a take-out  order of their Red Velvet Cake. So far beyond YUM that I have no words–seriously, this was the ONLY Red Velvet Cake I’ve ever loved. The icing was unbeatable! They sell some cakes whole, too. Call for details.

And here in the Ohio River Valley we take all things breakfast seriously. And breakfast in this neck of the woods means biscuits and gravy! And do they do biscuits and gravy? Do they ever!! Two words: Get Some!

 

Source: Main Street Grille

For adults there is a large selection of beer and a changing cocktail menu. Also for adults they have occasional special events like their recent Comedy Night. These events require advanced reservations, but judging by the response to Comedy Night, couples are happy to pay the price. I’m hoping they add more of these events. People get tired of driving to the Red Barn in Adams County or all the way into Cincy for some live entertainment.

It impressed me, too, that they are good citizens–they have held fundraisers for local causes and, by renovating the exterior of their building, they have improved the look of Sardinia’s busiest street.

The Main Street Grille

Locally Owned

Call for carryout or limited delivery (which may require a small fee).

Children’s menu available.

104 North Main Street
Sardinia, OH 45171
(937)446-3100

Just south of highway 32 at the 4-way stop. If you reach the library, you’ve missed it!

They are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SardiniaMainStreetGrille/

Hopefully soon they’ll have a website and join Twitter so fans can get instant updates on speicals.

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Photo source: Main Street Grille

 

Bullet Journaling and how I don’t really do it, but sort of do

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Have you taken to the bullet journaling fad? I tried to…and failed. Sort of. Maybe not totally. Don’t worry, I also failed at those SAHM-beloved housekeeping binders, too. I’ve made two of those so I have the proof. Here’s what I mean about possibly being a washi tape washout or bullet journal failure.

 

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Note: Both of these are from classes people teach. Click the link to see their blogs.

I keep seeing all these marvelous journal pages in my Pinterest feed. I have major journal envy. Art journals with mixed-media collages, Bible study journals with beautiful graphic-like illustrations, amazing natural journals and fabulous travel journals–all reinforce my inability to draw anything or create cool collage. I can live with that–it has been a life long source of embarrassment that I simply cannot draw. I’ve tried to learn. Toddlers clutching candle-sized Crayolas in their sticky little hands and scribbling on paper covering the dog’s back do a better job. I cope with this.

Lately it’s bullet journal envy that’s got me in it’s iron grip. If you’ve been off line for a while then you may not have met this new craft/time-finder/order-maker system that basically combines OCD/scheduling/listmaking/art/scrapbooking. Well, I used to do tons of scrapbooking. And, with something like adult ADHD. list-making is pretty important. But I’m not at all OCD–I can sleep soundly knowing there’s a weeks dishes left to do any time, any place. Never mind,  I took the plunge. I bought a journal. I watched the video. I looked at great sample pages. I created a Pinterest board. I bugged my bullet journal-loving friends for ideas and photos. I investigated printables. I fangirl-ed Boho Berry big time! Nonetheless, I’m a Bullet Journal School Dropout, big-time.

 

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Then, as I was tying myself up with expensive Japanese washi tape and  a fabulous, colorful gel pens I had an epiphany! Yes, an epiphany. I know, it is a cool word, isn’t it? Epiphany.  I’m not a failure at all. I was just ahead of the curve. Rare in my life, but it does happen. Ok, I can’t keep track of closed circles or open circles and the only thing that ‘migrates’ in my life is laundry from the dryer to the coffee table, and lets not even discuss the anxiety that Greater Than or Less Than symbols have caused in my life since 4th grade,  but I do this….in my own weird way, of course.

 

My Method

 

Desk List

 

 

First of all, let’s take the To Do list–my Desk List, I call it. It stays put on the left side of my desk at all times. It sits there atop my statistics tally sheet so I can find them. That lesson was learned a long, long time ago. First thing Monday morning I brainstorm everything that needs to be done. At the top are job-related tasks. At the bottom are personal things. As you can see, the list grows as the week goes on. I also have a huge desk blotter calendar and email calendar. I have to write things down with pen and paper to get them into my brain. This is such a crucial thing that earlier this year, when my best-ever freebie notepad ran out, I went in search of a duplicate. I actually splurged and gave T.J. Maxx $3.99 to have that same format of paper, but in a pretty design. Pretty is good. It’s even got cool inspiring phrases like my dear Boho Berry uses. See? I sort of bullet journal.

Mini-Journals

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The spiral notebook is my Book of Firsts–a type of observation journal used by nature watchers. I use this when I remember it. It’s not adorned, it just records any firsts like the first time I see yellowed tobacco leaves in a field, I know the season is nearing a change. It’s just the habit of paying attention. I don’t have a real Nature Journal because I simply can’t draw, but a lot of people enjoy doing those as well. They are usually a bound sketchbook, but can take any form the user chooses. Some people keep their Firsts on the calendar for obvious reasons. A bullet journal could easily contain Firsts and even a nice drawing to accompany the first. See? I sort of bullet journal.

 

I cannot function without two types of paper: 8 1/2 X 11, narrow-ruled legal pads to track big projects (not pictured) and mini Composition notebooks to keep in my purse. I use the mini-books to scribble great quotes from the audio books I listen to, to jot ideas for my books in progress, to keep prayer requests when I make it to Sunday School and for other stuff on the fly that needs to be remembered. Also not shown is a spiral book of 3 x 5 cards for when I want to memorize a Bible verse. Essential, obviously. Well, obviously a prayer list and Bible reading schedule or inspirational Bible verses and quotes are very appropriate for a bullet journal. And “Brain Dump” pages are one of the hallmarks of bullet journaling. See? I sort of bullet journal.

 

This plain red blank book is my Reading Journal. I also used Goodreads.com so I’m not as up-to-date as I should be on entering books here. I like the idea of leaving this for my great-grandchildren. I use a simple star rating system. Five Stars would be one of a very, very few fabulous books. I’ve kept a book like this for many years. My to-read list is just on Goodreads since it would take the whole book!

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I’ll give you that these two fabulous reading and to-read list pages are way, way cool. They rock the topic and then some. But my plain-Jane page does what it needs to do for me. See? I sort of bullet journal.

Big Journals

 

In spite of the picture showing two books, there are actually three. I forgot to photograph the snazzy plaid spiral notebook I keep my writing conference notes in. Trust me, it’s Boho Berry-worthy in terms of overall cover attractiveness. These two regular sized Composition books are my Commonplace Book, that is my book of quotes, and my Reading by Geography Log. In the photo, the red Geography Log corresponds to the photo in the upper right corner and the Commonplace is the upper left. Fairly straightforward–I do think the geography book would be amazing with little flag stickers to denote the state or country! With the Olympics not far off, I bet someone on Etsy is selling them, too. One amazing Boho Berry tip I’m stealing soon, is to print out a map on sticker-paper and then color the various states or countries represented. This works very well for a travel journal or a bucket list as well. See? I sort of bullet journal.

What’s Yet to Come?

Habit Tracking

In addition to the great map idea (in the video at the bottom of this post) I LOVE the idea of habit trackers. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not OCD. I won’t be tracking each time I drink a glass of water or keeping a tally of the steps I walk in my sleep. But a fitness habit tracker is a great idea. I use Map My Walk, a phone app, when I walk outside. I keep my gym progress in my head and my weight I prefer to not know. Trust me, I don’t forget it.

Remember that Homemaking Binder? Yep, many people put that sort of stuff in here too. I have a cleaning schedule–I clean whenever I must host a graduation, wedding, baby shower or funeral. Ok, it’s a little better than that! But I don’t obsess.  I do plan to print out (on sticker paper!!) some tracker pages or buy tracker page stamps. I can’t draw a straight line even with a T-square so I’m fine with these methods.

Savings tracking is also popular. There are a lot of great visuals for this and, you guessed it, I want to print a couple and see how I do with them. When I remember, I use Dave Ramsey’s free zero-dollar budget form online. My money is pretty well accounted for on payday. Any extra is usually squandered joyously spent on books.

Wish lists–either from your family for gifts or your own or for your home, any type wish list is good too. When I owned my home, pre-Pinterest, I kept a wish list file with the actual list and samples of projects torn from magazines or photocopied from library books. It was very helpful. Today Pinterest does that pretty well, but the file let me keep price quotes, business cards and other things together. Today you can, of course, scan all of that and keep it electronically–just add a link to your Pinterest board. But having it in paper is still very handy for shopping so you don’t look like a phone-addict.

 

Source (left)               Source (top)   Source (bottom)–not Great Tips here, too!

Like any fad, bullet journals have spawned an entire industry of supplies. Different journals, pens, stickers–you name it. Most one-time scrapbook supply companies now cater fully to the journaling crowd. Drawing classes are surging and a new style of handwriting/calligraphy called hand lettering is sweeping the blog-a-sphere. Different people swear by different brands of journals and debate lined vs plain vs French-lined vs graph paper! Remember your Mom’s best advice? Be Yourself. Do what works for you. I find no need to drag all of this around with me. Nor do I like hauling a bag of supplies along to make it all look good. If that’s your thing and you really enjoy it then do so! And, I’d truly love it if you came back and posted some page examples in the comments. I’m that freak who enjoys seeing people’s vacation photos or dog videos or scrapbooks.

Now, I insist you click and watch Boho Berry’s Summer Road Trip! Not only does she show you awesome bullet journal page, but she’s a savvy road trip Mom with super ideas for your next family road trip–including the map idea I mentioned above. Below the video is a link to my Pinterest Bullet Journal board.

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Mummascribbles

“Fantasy Island:” You are invited to tea!

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A few weeks back I wrote about a favorite “Fantasy Island” of mine–the Stampington Studio’s luscious magazines!  Today “De Plane! De Plane” is landing on the island to take us to tea! Never mind that I almost live on iced tea, today we’re doing it up grand and looking at some favorite sources of inspiration as well.

Some of you know that I am writing a series set in two great houses–one in Scotland and one in England. Amberleigh and Shellborne to give their proper names. You can read an introduction here, if you’d like. Obviously, these people take tea time very seriously. Like Queen Elizabeth still does today, the hostess in these homes would measure out her custom blend of either India or China teas and serve beautiful little dainties on the side. Here are the photos I used for one great tea scene at Shellborne.

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I love tea sandwiches! “Finger Sandwiches,” my grandmother called them. She served them sometimes for bridge.  Smoked or plain salmon, shrimp, cucumber, egg and cress (well, you got me here–I can’t stand hardboiled eggs!). The point is to provide a beautiful little nibblie to go with the tea. An tea wouldn’t be tea without a sweet or two, now would it? A Victoria Sponge? (Remember the movie Calendar Girls? Yep, that’s their cake!) Brandy Snaps? Fruit Cake? (Those last two have prominent roles in my books). Who wouldn’t want to world to just plain come to a halt so these goodies could be enjoyed in a civilized way? Beats a Starbucks run to this coffee-loather, I can tell you. But, hold the milk. I’ve never taken to tea with milk or cream.

ee2725bd1f3aa3de69440b5cb67a61b6 Walter Granville-Smith,  A cup of tea, 1904

Some of my favorite inspirations for tea time come from these two great magazines. (Disclaimer–no “Fantasy Island” is not purely an occasional series devoted to my favorite magazines!)

I give you my word that these are two of the loveliest magazines ever produced! They are a temporary cure for vexed tempers, hot flashes, the vapors or office ennui. The perfect lunchtime pick-me-up that won’t get you into any trouble unless you read them for longer than an hour. The present gorgeous table settings, divine little tea shops, beautifully restored houses and recipes so lovely you want to lick the pages. How can you beat that? And, best of all? The magazines are calorie free! Sorry, I can’t promise the same for the cream and butter loaded yummies.

 

Lady Edith Crawley and Sir Anthony Strallan before the devastating end

This little gem appeared in one of my feeds–it is only $2.99 for Kindle. Though as a big-time Andith ‘shipper (translation for non-Tumblr afficiandos: I loved the Lady Edith–Sir Anthony relationship) I just read the hilarious recaps in the British papers for the last few series. All the same, that cup Lady Mary had to put down before taking baby George for his five minutes of face time you can bet had properly made tea. Tea bags were not yet a thing. Imagine Carson dangling a tea bag!  Tea at Downton.

 

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Next week, the paperback edition of a recent tea book comes out. I have not had an opportunity to preview it, but it definitely will go on my to-read list. Just looking at it makes me want to re-binge watch Indian Summers or Jewel in the Crown! Darjeeling: The Colorful History and Precarious Fate of the World’s Greatest Tea by Jeff Koehler.

 

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You can read tea-themed mysteries, tea-themed romances, and tea planter romances. You can have morning devotions related to tea–you can even color a tea themed page while you sip your steaming cup of goodness! Personally, I’m impatient to read this new novel–it comes out in September. The Tea Planter’s Wife by Dinah Jefferies.

What’d I tell you? Tea time is just Fantasy Island! Brew a pot or dunk a bag and have at it.

Do you enjoy tea? Have you visited a fun tea shop? Do you like to hold costumed Edwardian tea parties? Tell me your tea story in a comment or leave a link to your own tea-related post.