Monday, June 29, 2015

Lesson One in Cooking: Fried Chicken, Part One


I'm late in posting this (and each lesson will be weeks behind the actual lesson), but here is the first one...

You may have read about the Grand Tea Party – well, these two granddaughters also decided they’d like me to teach them how to cook, so this summer, every week (almost) we will be having cooking lessons.

I told them they’d need to decide what they want to cook. A few days before the first lesson, they called. “Grandma, we don’t know what to make. Can you give us some suggestions?” I was thinking, welcome to my world. This seems to be the universal problem of those who cook – what to make. I rattled off, “Meatloaf, fried chicken, roast—” 
And before I could get in another word, they both shouted, “Fried chicken!” 
I said, “Okay, fried chicken it is.”

We agreed that I’d pick them up on a Sunday afternoon, we’d grocery shop for what we’d need, they’d spend the night, sleep in on Monday and once up, we’d start cooking.

I forgot how 12 and 13 year olds like to be entertained, so I made a mental note to have a craft or game to do the next time I picked them up for Sunday evening.

We sat at the kitchen table and I asked, “So how much chicken will you need for your family?” I decided to let each girl cook their own food for their family and then they will serve their family dinner on Monday. I talked about a whole chicken and the various parts. How you can buy a whole chicken, or just the pieces you want. They each wanted a whole chicken. Princess Frost was feeding four. Princess Flame, two. But if Princess Flame had leftovers and Princess Frost needed more, they’d share. They decided on mashed potatoes and corn on the cob.

“Can we make dessert too?”

“Sure.”

They wanted to make strawberry shortcake. We made our list and headed to the store. Ah, how quickly it fades what extras end up in the grocery cart when you have people with you shopping. I wanted to teach them about budgets, but… we clearly exceeded ours this round.

I was a little disappointed that the big ole fancy pants Schnucks was out of corn on the cob. Seriously? We settled for frozen.

We came home, put everything away, fixed a quick dinner with Grandpa and then headed to Fritz’s for dessert.

Princess Flame and I were ready to go to bed by 9:30, but Ms. Princess Frost was not chilled enough. “It’s summer vacation!” We propped our eyelids up until sometime after 11, but who knows what time we actually drifted off to dreamland.




Next blog, I’ll post the process of cooking.

Here they are in the aprons that I sewed for them. They each received a box with some goodies. You’ll see more in the next blog.



Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Texas 4000 AWESOME!


My friend, Tina asked if I’d like to volunteer by driving some college students to a few places… they’re cycling from Austin, Texas (hence, the name Texas 4000) to Anchorage, Alaska and had a stopover in St. Louis. The cyclists are students from UT (University of Texas). Check out Texas4000.org for more info and I guarantee you will be impressed.

I was clueless as I arrived at the Maplewood Richmond Heights High School that housed these students during their stay in St. Louis. They split the students among the six of us volunteer drivers. Between Paige and myself, who were going to Cardinal Glennon Hospital, we had: Alex, Zoe, Abigail, Blake, Joey, Dan, and Tuan.

We started out at St. Louis Bread Co., and while in line, an elderly couple saw the back of their shirts (Fighting Cancer Every Mile) and thanked them for what they were doing. They were both cancer survivors. The entire group turned around and engaged with the couple, listened to their stories, then asked their names and said they would be riding for them too. I was so touched by their sweetness.



From there we went to the St. Louis Zoo. It was so crowded that we dropped them off. Paige and I parked near the Art Museum and waited for their call. It was nice getting to know Paige as we admired the view.




Paige received a call – half the group wanted to go have lunch, the other half wanted to continue at the zoo. She took her group to Adrianna’s on The Hill. I waited, snapped a few photos, then did some research on Texas 4000. Wow, why didn’t I do this before? I listened to the videos of Alex, Zoe, and Abigail. (Later I listened to the others.) Talk about impressive. I was hooked and knew I’d be following the group to Anchorage. Not in my car, just online.

While at the zoo, someone lost their phone, but it was turned in at the Lost and Found, at the opposite entrance of where I was to pick them up.

“Can you pick us up at the South entrance?”
“Sure, if I can find it. I am directionally challenged.” I hung up and called my husband. “Where’s the South entrance of the zoo?”
“Where we always go in at.”
Hmmm, I thought the North entrance was where we went in at. Since we were running behind to get them to their appointment, I called them apologizing and asked if they could just go to the North entrance. Boy did I feel like a dope. But in no time, they piled in the car and off we headed to Cardinal Glennon Hospital.

They presented gifts (for the children/patients at the hospital) to Meredith, who gave us a tour. I was quite impressed and learned so much about a great hospital in my hometown.



After the tour, we were off to Ted Drewes for St. Louis’ famous custard—they totally enjoyed it.


They heard toasted ravioli was another St. Louis thing and wondered whether time would allow them to go to The Hill to try it—and off we went to Guido’s.

I told them I wished I had been thinking to bake them a Gooey Butter Cake—another St. Louis thing.

“What’s Gooey Butter Cake?”

I explained it.

“Can we get it somewhere?”

“There is one place that I hear makes a pretty good one ‘Gooey Louie’ however, homemade is the way to go. Ugh, don’t ever buy it in the store.” If anyone is reading this and wants to try it out for themselves—you know, bake it for your own friends and family, go to my dessert blog: Lynn, What's for Dessert?

Tina called to thank me for volunteering. I thanked her and told her I’d be happy to do it again next year. I told her how sweet the group of students I had were and how after we left Cardinal Glennon, Alex asked if there was someone I’d like them to ride for.
“Um, actually, my mom. She died of breast cancer when I was 12.”
“What’s her name?”
“Vera.”
“Can you tell me a little something about her?”
I was stumped because no one really asked me that question before. I had to think, what is she like? How do I describe her? She was a homemaker. She sewed, cooked, etc., but instead I blurted out about my watermelon story. Tina attended the fundraiser event that evening and told me how each one shared a little story and that ‘Lynn and her mom about the watermelon was mentioned.’
“Awww, how sweet.” A lump in my throat formed and I choked back tears.

I think about what an incredible journey these young folks are taking—the growth they’ll experience, and what an awesome adventure in helping such a cause. I overheard them always thanking everyone they came into contact with. They thanked me for driving them every time they got into the car. Observing them gave me hope for the future. I’d like to end by thanking them.

They actually asked if they could have a picture with me when I dropped them off at the school. I was so touched.



I crawled out of bed this morning around 8:00 and the first thing I thought about was the Texas 4000 group already cycling on the road for an hour. They were headed to the St. Louis Arch and then on their 100 mile trek for the day. I hope the Arch inspired them as they continue on.

As I mentioned, I’m hooked and will be following this awesome group through the rest of their journey, helping a bit financially… wishing them safety and sending love. Perhaps y’all might want to do the same.

Here are links to "my" group (although I never had Dan and Tuan in my car):

And here is the Ozark route. And the entire 72 Ozark riders.

These students are so incredibly grateful to anyone and everyone who supports them even in the tiniest way... if there's anything you can do to help, they'd love it. 

Thank you!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Turtles and Cardinals and Deer, Oh My!


I love where I live. It’s a bit of a haven for the few remaining wildlife.

Hubby, coming home from his work, spotted this on our driveway. He picked him up and brought him in so I could see him. We then let him loose in the backyard to mingle with the other creatures. Isn’t he a beaut?



We have a big picture window on either side of the area in the one part of the house—they mirror one another, so I imagine if you’re a bird, you’d think you could fly on through. BOINK. We’ll hear this loud thud on the glass. Sometimes we’ll look and the poor fella will be knocked out silly—still alive. We do what we can to restore them to health. I usually sing HU and that does the trick. The are stunned to the point of letting us help. Just like this sweetie…



I’m always excited to see new borns. And this little fawn frolicks with its mother every day. Some people I hear get aggravated that deer eat their garden, and I get it. I’d rather admire the deer than admire my hosta. That is evident when you see my garden.

One day I spotted the little fawn by herself. No momma. She planted her tiny body on the rocks near the pond—foliage hid her, but since I watched her go there, I kept my eye on her waiting for her to get up. I had things to do and left. Later, I observed she was still there. I had hoped nothing happened to momma as deer are always getting hit by cars around here. Then I decided momma was training her little one. “Go and hide and I’ll find you.” or “See if you can make it on your own today, but don’t go too far.” Now how could you want to see a pretty hosta over this lovely creature?



Another day, I was in my car going down the drive and I saw something waddling down the driveway. It was hurrying as it heard my vehicle. I finally figured it was a wild turkey, but by the time I got out my phone to snap a picture, he was well hidden in the woods.


 Wonder what I’ll see next? I’m always easily entertained.

Monday, May 18, 2015

What? Words? What About Words? And Other Ramblings


Boy, I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I wrote a blog post. There are times when I consider not blogging. I haven’t read blogs in about as long. I fell off the grid. I finished the rough draft of my children’s book… illustrating.

I went to SLWG meeting presented by Catherine Rankovic on titles and designs of book covers. Most everything made sense and was useful. Then I heard someone ask a question about children’s books and it was said, “Never illustrate your own book.” I haven’t touched my book since.

The power of words. The power of other people’s words. That same afternoon of the workshop, I ate lunch and read through a dessert cookbook a friend had given me. Long story short, as I experimented, I burned my hand. Really, really bad. I was grateful I had just purchased some Lavender Essential Oil and I doused my entire hand with it. I was sure this burn was going to require emergency medical attention, but thanks to Lavender Essential Oil, you have no idea a burn took place.

After burning my hand, I resigned to take it easy on the couch and read. I pulled several books from my library. The book I ended up reading was Hidden Language Codes by R. Neville Johnston. If anyone thinks that God doesn’t have a plan, well, I’d like to debate.

In Hidden Language Codes it talks about the power of words. It opened my eyes. I’ve read things like this before. I knew these things about the power of words. Sometimes when I hear it a different way—boom, a light goes off… again.

The part about God and His plan… the thoughts about not illustrating my book were going through my head, along with ‘what shall I do today?’ on the day I burned my hand and that settled doing anything… but reading. What I read changed my attitude about so many things. More specifically… I may have heard, “Never illustrate your own book.” But I will. I will do it with confidence and joy.

Did everyone have a Happy Mother’s Day? I did. My two daughters came over and cooked me dinner. It was delicious! We napped. We chilled. It was a lovely, love-filled day. Thank you, Stinkers!

Here’s a few pictures.

 Jessica and Rita



Did anyone go to Listen To Your Mother event? I did. My two daughters came with me. (Thank you, Linda!) This event was fantastic and the three of us cried. I recommend going next year. This was the third year. I’ve gone to all three. Each year, I think, can it get any better than this? And it does. But then all stories from the heart are so touching. This year there were two men and bravo to them.

Oh and I went to two baby showers... one hosted by my stepdaughter, Jenn and she had the place decorated so cute. Another by my bff grade school friend... she's going to be a grandmother and she can't wait. Of course her decorations were cute too. Here's a cute idea for a watermelon baby shower:

 
My youngest daughter moved out of her place – and can I mention I helped and she’s border-hoarder? She will be moving into another place in due time. After the last load, she said, “Hhmmm, maybe I’ll become a minimalist.” I thought it was a good idea.

My Uncle George is dying. He’s my dad’s brother. My Aunt Lee will be the last of the nine siblings. When my sister’s and I visited Uncle George, he had moments of being his robust self. He was not careful with his words! Ha. We all laughed, as did he. And I wondered, when I’m in that place, will I have a filter?

For those who read this, thank you. I am ever so grateful. For those I read when I get around to it, thank you. You all inspire me.

With love…

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Very Inspiring Blogger, uh huh, sure.


My good friend, critique/writer buddy Tammy presented me with this award, oh some weeks ago. Not sure what happened, but life gets in the way sometimes. I’ve been a very busy person lately baking… you’ll see later after this Very Inspiring Blogger Award… which I don’t think my blog is all that inspiring, but maybe the baking could be. So thank you, Tammy. I just love Tammy. Not only does she write the most awesome prose (And. I’m. Not. Just. Saying. That.), but she’s super sweet.
 
On to the Very Inspiring Blogger Award! The rules are these: 
 
• Display the award on your blog
• Link back to the person who nominated you
• State 7 things about yourself
• Nominate 3 bloggers 
 
Here are the 7 things about myself.
 
1) I must have inherited my mother’s genes for baking and cooking or it’s like anything else, practice, practice, practice. I do love to cook and bake. The weird thing is that I don’t taste anything while I’m cooking and sometimes I panic right before serving because I have no idea how it’s going to taste. Usually it needs salt.
 
2) I used to have a fear of using a public bathroom and I’m pretty sure in all the years of going to school, I never used the bathroom. I waited until I got home. Now I scope out where the bathrooms are upon entering a place and never pass up the chance to use the toilet.
 
3) If you've read Tammy’s number one thing about her, you’ll find that her mother broke her leg right before Tammy was born. My mom had appendicitis before I was born and apparently serious enough that we both could’ve died… but we didn’t. It was Friday the 13th – not so unlucky, now, is it?
 
4) I’m an introvert. I used to think something was wrong with me because when I’d meet new people, words would not come out of my mouth and if they did, it was something ridiculous and embarrassing. Once you get to know me though, and one on one, I can hardly shut up. Just ask my husband. I still say some ridiculous and embarrassing things, but I don’t freak out as much with knowing people.
 
5) I take things way too serious, even when they’re a joke. Just ask my husband (again). He keeps telling me I need to go to clown school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m able to take a joke, even if it’s played on me. I think I have a healthy attitude and can laugh about myself and I can be incredibly goofy. So wait, what?
 
6) I had a step-mother, so I was a step-child. Durp, what an observation. I have step-siblings. I am currently a step-mother and have step-children and step-grandchildren. I’m still in contact with my first step-child even though I divorced her dad some 27 years ago. “Step” always has a negative aspect to it and I only use “step” to make it clear that I didn’t birth six children, just three. But we’re all family. Once my daughter was doing a family tree for school and there were so many branches just for the immediate family that it became too complicated even for her. I have 80 first cousins… no steps in there either.
 
7) Do you know how hard it is to come up with 7 things about yourself? I love dancing and singing, but I can’t do either and usually don’t. Back in the day when I was a wild woman, I’d get on the dance floor, but it wasn’t pretty. Not being a wild woman, when I sing, it’s not pretty either and I’m usually asked to hush.
 
Now, I’m supposed to nominate three more people, but I’ve left this go for so long that I’m sure everyone I know has been nominated. If you read this blog and you are a blogger, please tell me 7 things about yourself. It’s an idea for a blog, yes? And if you’re not a blogger and want to comment about 7 things about yourself, I’d love to hear it. Really, I would.
 
And here is my latest baking dishes. The first four were for my daughter’s 30th birthday, which was on the 3rd of April. In addition to what you see here, I also baked her a gooey butter and a cherry pie. Well, aren’t I just the bragger baker?
 
Sleepy time cupcakes. Everything is edible. Those blankets are Starbursts, softened and then rolled out.
 
 
Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes - since Jessica lived in Boston for a while, they wanted these.

Spaghetti & Meatball Cupcakes. Spaghetti is one of Jessica's favorite dishes, but this doesn't taste anything like the real deal.
 
Oreo Cake. This looks rather dull, but inside is a surprise... it looks like a big oreo and on the top and bottom is a layer of oreos.
 

And this is what I made for Easter… my two daughters and I were pretending to have bunny mouths… see, told you I can be goofy.  
PS... Blogger doesn't put spaces in my text (after paragraphs as you will see above) and makes some text REALLY big, when I have it all the same, except for under the pictures. I have even added the correct HTML in the html code and it still doesn't work.... AAARRRRHHHH. I tried again and now it seems to work...

Friday, March 20, 2015

Another Grand Tea Party

I had a tea party for the two granddaughters when they were seven and eight. Now they are 12 and 13. I didn’t think they’d go for it when I suggested we have another tea party, but they were excited about it.

This time, we did things a little differently than we did the first time. And you can see how much they have grown since the first time.

Until I read the blog from five years ago, I didn’t realize, I had them help with the food. But with this tea party, I prepared the food ahead of time, so there’d be more time for fun.


I picked them both up after school. We had dinner with Grandpa and then went shopping for our outfits. We went to a thrift store where they tried on a ga-zillion outfits. Here are a few shots. I’m sure the employees loved us having to hang up all those clothes.





Lots of giggling took place. After they settled on the perfect outfit (which you’ll see later as it’s not any of the above), we hit the shoe rack, then the hat rack, and then the jewelry rack. They picked out a purple outfit for me and found me some matching shoes.

We came home and they were so excited that they changed clothes to show Grandpa. Since Lily had a birthday the day before, I had made some panda bear cupcakes and we sang Happy Birthday!
 
 
We then made lipstick to match our outfits. 

After that, we painted nails.

Once the nails were dry, we headed to the bedroom to play Pass the Pigs, and finally to sleep.
Morning came and we began make up. Then hair and we had an oopsy with Lily’s hair as I didn’t realize a brush curling iron would tangle in long hair… 


Lily was a good sport about it and after trying every trick in the book to untangle the mess (even demolishing the curling iron), we ended up cutting her hair. However, you can’t even tell. So there.


We got dressed and headed to the “Tea Room.” I had saved some old dishes of my mom’s. I split the set and “dished” them to my kids, nieces and sisters. Two of the sets were still here, so I dug them out and we used those for our tea.

Talking in our finest British accent, we commenced with the tea party. Princess Flame (aka Logan) 
 
and Princess Frost (aka Lily) 

behaved themselves in the finest manner, even when an unexpected guest showed up. They were gracious in allowing Auntie Jessica (who was not in proper attire) join in for a spot of tea. 


Queen Grandma-ma Purple Plum invited both Princess Frost and Princess Flame to join me for tea on an annual basis, with the stipulation that two other princesses would be invited (if not more). It was “quitely” divine. Quitely was a new British word we created.


Here we are posing to show off our shoes. Oh, the shoes. I don’t know how the heels could be any taller. You can’t see Princess Frost’s heels, but they are taller than Princess Flame’s or mine.
Guess how quickly my fur, hat and shoes came off? Before the tea party was over.


A dear friend shipped some fine Teddy Bears to me to be included in the tea party and here they are with Princes Frost and Princess Flame. Have you ever seen two more angelic princesses?


I shoo’d the girls off to play while I cleaned up. Grandpa-pa took us out to eat again—while in route, Princess Flame and Princess Frost sang to … ack, a popular singer that escapes me. Country and Western, if I recall. Ah... Taylor Swift.  They knew every word and they both sang just as good as Taylor, if you ask me.
 
Back home, we continued to play—making bouncy balls from Auntie Rita, and teaching Auntie Rita how to play Pass the Pigs. After Auntie Rita left, we learned how to zentangle. Both Princesses are quite artistic.

The princesses stayed the night again and Grandpa-pa chauffeured them home the next day while I was at church.

Ahh, what's not to love about a tea party?
 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fifth and Forty-Fifth Anniversary

-->
It is the 5th anniversary of my blog! Can you believe it? I remember when I first posted, dedicating this blog to my mother on the 40th anniversary of her death. I blogged daily! Now I'm lucky to blog monthly. I'm not sure what happened... life got super-dooper busy.

Did I mention Mom died on a Friday the 13th and today is Friday the 13th – the 45th anniversary of her death?

I suppose it can be kind of strange to celebrate the anniversary of someone’s death, but her death did so much for me in so many ways. Writing to her, the way I started this blog, helped me to get out of my shell and expose myself as a writer. I remember how petrified I was. With that came publication. And joining a critique group. That was even more petrifying. However, friendships have formed and I just LOVE those gals! They've been the best thing for my writing soul. And then I thought I might be performing my story about my mother, for Listen To Your Mother, but I didn't make it. And it's really okay. I've been to the first two shows and they were fabulous. I am going to this year's show, which will take place Saturday, May 9th. There are two shows—tickets on sale now. You might want to check it out.

Each step has brought me to another step to another part of my life that I’m incredibly grateful for…

So Mom, although you’ve been gone for 45 years now, thank you for all that you have done and continue to do as you journey on.

-->
And if you’d like, take a look at my first blog post five years ago!