Seasonal & Special


 

 

Ever notice how blogging can be like whistling in the wind? Swirling around in a raging storm? Just about the time you think you have a handle on your topic or audience, a huge cloudburst of doubt or writer’s block rolls in. Soaks you to the skin. And you’re not sure which end is up.

 

LOTS of It

That’s kind of what rural life on the Olympic Peninsula is like. Yep, it’s green. Outdoor opportunities abound. But the lush landscape, soaring evergreens, and feral beauty of western Washington come with a price: Rain.  Lots of it.

 

In fact,  in the largest temperate rain forest in the world, we measure rain in feet, not inches. Locals joke that the four seasons are:

 

  •  Raining
  •  Almost Raining
  •  Just Finished Raining
  •  Construction

 

Only tourists argue with that. Because by this time of year we’re starting to feel like Noah. Sunshine seems like a distant memory.

 

What’s a blogger and writer to do besides sprout gills and webbed feet, especially when hitting a writer’s block wall? Well, I dive in to an old favorite: Under the Tuscan Sun.

 

Incongruous?

Under the Tuscan Sun seems incongruous. But a favorite is a favorite, regardless of weather:

 

  • Two hundred and eighty pages redolent with France Mayes’ delicious descriptions of her restoration of an abandoned villa in the spectacular Tuscan countryside.
  • Incandescent, the text drips with the beauty and simplicity of life in Italy.

 

Because Under the Tuscan Sun is the kind of tome you tuck into a summer picnic basket. Or wrap yourself around during one of the wettest PNW winters on record.

 

 

Meanwhile, Back on the Peninsula

Diving into Tuscan Sun, I’m soon adrift in a sea of Italian terra cotta, palazzi, gelato, and padrones. Sun-soaked vineyards and Chianti.

 

 

What’s The Hurry?

I envy Frances Mayes and her villa’s fireplace, large enough to sit in. “I think most Italians have a longer sense of time than we do,” she writes. “What’s the hurry? Once up, a building will stand a long, long time, perhaps a thousand years. Two weeks, two months, big deal.”

 

A severe storm? Two hours, two days, two weeks, big deal.

 

I can’t quite wrap my head around that.

 

The wind howls like a banshee. Frogg-Toggged, I take Kimber the pup out, snatching a few minutes from the elements.  Frances and Ed Mayes try to decide on what to renovate/upgrade first – the leaky roof or central heating.

 

Stormaggedon?

By nightfall passing cars have switched their windshield wipers off. Somber prognostications of Stormaggedon seem far-fetched. Even if the wind is tossing buckets of rain from gray-cement skies.

 

Kick Writer’s Block to the Curb

Does your keyboard ever look like gray-cement? Is dredging up new blogging inspiration like trying to recover the Titanic?

 

When this happens – and it always does, sooner or later – take a blogging vacation. If you can’t swing a change in scenery physically, take a mental vacation. Stop trying so hard. Take a break from writing and disconnect:

 

  • Go for a walk
  • Play with your kids.
  • Eat a banana split
  • Take up line-dancing, a watercolor class, or wood carving.
  • Find a new author
  • Make a new friend
  • Change the oil in your car. Quit stressing about your next blog post or series. There’s something therapeutic and bracing about shifting gears, trying something novel, exploring new territory
  • Whatever it takes to replenish the well.

Rest to Recharge

A “rested” mind is a more creative mind. Some of my best ideas and creative bursts arrive after I’ve turned off the computer and gone “on vacation.”

 

How long should your writing vacation last? That’s up to you. But running on fumes isn’t doing you or your readers any favors. When you start feeling like writing is fun rather than a chore, or something to check off your To Do List, you’re on the right track.

 

Aftermath

Suddenly it’s Monday.  The storm has passed, subsiding to a soggy threat.

 

 

Kimber chomps her breakfast. The Etruscan wall necklacing Frances’ villa is rebuilt. The weed-choked cistern cleaned. The roof fixed. Aging interior polished to its former patina and newly planted herb gardens blooming, Frances’ restored villa gleams in the Tuscan sun.

 

Blue and gray, overhead skies here clash like troops at Gettysburg. But the worst, it seems, is over. The sun is elbowing flannel-gray clouds out of the way. Wait! Is that a patch of blue?

 

Well. I’ll be ‘et fer a tater if I don’t sense some writing inspiration on this rise…

 

 

How do to kick writer’s block to the curb?

What makes a great romantic story or movie? One that tugs at the heart strings over and over? Makes you laugh and cry, sigh and buy stock in Kleenex?

The Basics

“Most romantic movie” is highly subjective. (IMHO, Hollywood hasn’t cranked out much worth seeing in this category in decades.)

But basic elements include credible dialogue and a solid, poignant script. Three-dimensional characters who learn, grow and develop. Superlative acting. A story that typically goes like:

1) Boy meets girl

2) Boy loses girl

3) Boy finds girl again.

Boils Down To

In between are all sorts of obstacles, angst, turmoil and tumult. Misunderstandings. Heartbreak. Despair. Tragedy and triumph. But the essence of a great romantic movie boils down to:

Love Conquers All

Additionally, an element of selflessness and/or self-sacrifice should be evident in order to make the cut. (That’s why the truculent, self-absorbed characters of Titanic aren’t on this list.) With these basic criteria in mind, here’s my 100% subjective, totally unscientific list of:

The 10 Most Romantic Movies of All Time (in no particular order):

1. Casablanca – Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, 1942

World War II is raging. Rick Blaine, an exiled American and former freedom fighter, runs the most popular nightspot in Casablanca. Rick’s café has become a haven for refugees seeking to obtain illicit letters that will aid their escape to America.

One of these refugees is a Czechoslovak underground leader Victor Laszlo who’s on the run from the Nazis. When Laszlo suddenly shows up with his wife Ilsa, Rick’s former lover from Paris, the cynical café owner must make a heartbreaking decision.

Play it, Sam.

2. An Affair to Remember – Starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, 1957.

Handsome playboy Nickie Ferrante and beautiful night club singer Terry McKay meet aboard ship while sailing from Europe to New York. Despite being engaged to other people, they suddenly find themselves falling in love. They agree to meet on top of the Empire State Building in six months. But fate intervenes…

3. The Bridges of Madison County – Starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood, 1995.

A National Geographic photographer on assignment in Iowa meets a lonely housewife.

While her husband and children are away at the State Fair in the summer of 1965, Robert Kincaid (Clint Eastwood) happens to turn into the Johnson farm and asks Francesca Johnson (Meryl Streep) for directions. The next four days change their lives forever.

4. Out of Africa – Starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, 1985.

Looking for a better life in early 20th century Denmark, Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) enters into a marriage of convenience with a womanizing baron. But when the couple moves to Kenya to start a dairy farm, an unexpected adventure awaits Karen: she falls in love with an English safari hunter who can’t be tied down.

A stirring John Barry score.

5. Somewhere In Time – Starring Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve, 1980.

A haunting love story that transcends time.

When a young playwright Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve) struggles with writer’s block, he heads to a hotel on Michigan’s Mackinac Island to clear his head. While there, he notices a photograph of a beautiful young woman hanging on a wall of the hotel’s Hall of History.

He later discovers that the young woman, Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), performed a play at the hotel some 60 years earlier… and he was there.

6. Sleepless in Seattle – Starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, 1993.

A Baltimore reporter, Annie, tunes in to a talk radio show on her way to her engagement party on Christmas Eve. She hears a young boy, Noah, wishing his father, Sam, would find a new wife because his mother recently died.

Unable to forget Sam and Noah, Annie begins to look for something she didn’t know she was missing. Something like… magic.

7. Gone With the Wind – Starring Vivian Leigh and Clark Gable, Olivia de Havilland and Leslie Howard, 1939.

Based on the sweeping epic by Margaret Mitchell in which a manipulative Southern belle and a roguish blockade runner meet their match – in each other.

8. West Side Story – Starring Natalie Wood, Rita Moreno, Richard Beymer and George Chakiris, 1961

A modern, musical re-telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Set in New York City amid warring street gangs, the Jets and the Sharks.

Jets member Tony (Richard Beymer) falls for Maria (Natalie Wood). She’s the sister of the Sharks leader, Bernardo (George Chakiris). Tensions simmer and boil over into a battle to the death and a heartbreaking finale.

Winner of 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture.

9. The Princess Bride – Starring Cary Elwes & Robin Wright, 1987

The beautiful Princess Buttercup and the dashing Westley must overcome incredible odds to find happiness amid six-fingered swordsmen, murderous princes, Sicilians and rodents of unusual size.

An enchanting love story that not even the Dread Pirate Roberts can sink. (Did you know the 1987 movie was based on a book?)

10. The Bodyguard – Starring Kevin Costner & Whitney Houston, 1992.

Former Secret Service agent Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner) takes a job as a bodyguard to protect a temperamental pop singer (Whitney Houston) who’s been receiving death threats. Lots of ruffled feathers ensue before Cupid’s arrows start hitting their marks.

11. I Can Only Imagine – J. Michael Finley & Dennis Quaid, 2018

Discover the untold story behind the beloved chart-topping song. No list of “love conquers all” movies would be complete without this one. A personal favorite.

Honorable Mention:

  1. Camelot – loosely based on the T.H. White Arthurian classic, The Once and Future King.
  2. Les Miserables – Based on the novel by Victor Hugo. (I am speaking of the 1995 dream cast musical version, not that God-awful 2012 Russell Crowe knock-off.)
  3. Dr. Zhivago – Based on the 1957 novel by Boris Pasternak.

Did your favorite make the cut? What would you add?

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. And what better way to ring in the day than with a love story?

Now, I could line the bottom of my bird cage (if I had one) with most of what passes for “romance” stories these days. That’s not what this list is about. You won’t find any cheap dime store boiler plate trash here. This list focuses on timeless love stories that go above and beyond basic romance.

Some of these titles are relatively new. Others have been around for centuries. All reach straight for your heart. Climb in. And settle in to stay. B.Y.O. tissue.

Here are 16 of the most unforgettable love stories of all time, along with memorable quotes. Many have been made into movies. Some might surprise you:

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s masterpiece of love and life among English gentility during the Georgian era. Mr. Bennet is an English gentleman living in Hartfordshire with his overbearing wife, one of the most ridiculous mothers in all literature. Mrs. Bennet’s chief goal in life is to see her five daughters married off and living comfortably. But fate intervenes…

Memorable quote:

“My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.”

2. Doctor Zhivago – Boris Pasternak

This novel traces the lives and loves of its two tragic protagonists, Yuri Zhivago, a physician and poet, and Larissa Antipova. Pasternak’s epic love story takes place between the Russian Revolution of 1905 and World War II. First published in Italy in 1957.

Memorable quote:

“Oh, what a love it was, utterly free, unique, like nothing else on earth! Their thoughts were like other people’s songs.”

3. A Common Life – Jan Karon

Laughter and wedding bells ring as Father Tim and his artist neighbor, Cynthia, get ready to tie the knot. Finally!

Memorable quote:

“I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.”

4. Message in a Bottle – Nicholas Sparks

When a woman discovers a tragic love letter in a bottle on a beach, she’s determined to track down its author – and finds much more.

Emotionally intense story of love after loss. Set in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Memorable quote:

“Without you in my arms, I feel an emptiness in my soul.”

  1. The Princess Bride – William Golding

Six-fingered swordsmen. Murderous princes. Treachery. Gallantry. Sicilians and rodents of unusual size.

Buttercup and Westley’s love story is a classic that not even the Dread Pirate Roberts can sink. Did you know the 1987 movie was based on a book?

Memorable quote:

“As you wish.”

  1. Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

The powerful, poignant story of the unbreakable bond between a young boy and his two Redbone Hound dogs, ‘Ole Dan and Li’l Ann, reminds us what love really means. Set in the Ozarks during the depths of the Depression.

Once in a lifetime, a story comes along that inspires generations of readers. Where The Red Fern Grows is one of those stories. Bring Kleenex.

Note from Kimber: My personal favorite, friends! Even better than bacon! Mom always wants to snuggle up with this one. I’m a good helper, ya know. But I’m a World Class Snuggler and face-licker!

Memorable quote:

“I looked at his grave and, with tears in my eyes, I voiced these words: ‘You were worth it, old friend, and a thousand times over.’”

  1. Out of Africa – Isak Dinesen

Set largely in Kenya, East Africa, this sweeping epic is a story of discovery, loss and love.

Karen Blixen followed her dreams until her dreams became reality. She came to Africa from Denmark to search for something inside herself. There, she discovers a man and a country. And life as she’s never known it.

Blixen published her autobiographical Out of Africa under the nom de plume, Isak Dinesen.

The 1985 movie won seven Academy Awards including Best Picture. It stars Meryl Streep as Blixen and Robert Redford as her lover, Dennys Finch-Hatton.

Memorable quote:

“If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on, or the children invent a game in which my name is, or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?”

  1. The Notebook – Nicholas Sparks

A touching story about what we long for. What we settle for. And who we were meant for. Full of longing and wistfulness. Despair and hope. And unexpected plot twists. Vintage Nicholas Sparks.

“I read to her and she remembers.”

Memorable quote:

“We fell in love, despite our differences, and once we did, something rare and beautiful was created. For me, love like that has only happened once, and that’s why every minute we spent together has been seared in my memory. I’ll never forget a single moment of it.”

  1. Rome and Juliet – William Shakespeare

Don’t make me explain this.

Memorable quote:

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.”

10 – 13. The Last Promise, A Perfect Day, The Letter, The Sunflower, – Richard Paul Evans

  1. The Velveteen Rabbit, Margery Williams

How a brand new toy becomes Real.

Don’t think this “children’s” classic is a love story? Think again.

Memorable quote:

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

  1. Jane EyreCharlotte Brontë

Beloved love story between the plucky orphan and governess Jane Eyre and the dark and brooding Rochester.

Memorable quote:

“Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs.”

 

16. Bid Time Return – Richard Matheson

A haunting story of the link between a man and a woman that transcends time. The novel upon which Somewhere in Time is based.

My husband rolls his eyes every time I drag out my SIT DVD. I just smile and grab some more chocolate.

This story and the movie that followed starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour prove how little critics know and how even a predictable love story never fails to tug at the heart strings.

An unforgettable John Barry score doesn’t hurt, either.

Memorable quote:

“Come back to me.”

What would you add?

Hello February!

‘Tis the month for love and romance and all things heartfelt. That includes good books and good food! In fact, what better way to kick off Valentine’s month than with pairing some great love stories with great food!

The titles below feature love stories flavored with rich, robust writing. Also links to a culinary idea or two you can savor before, after, or while you’re turning pages.

Some of these titles may be familiar. Some may be new. Some may surprise you. Just don’t get so engrossed in the plot that you neglect to mind the stove, okay?

Ready? Set? Grab your book. Head to the nearest kitchen and Let’s Go!

1. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy – Frances Mayes, 1996.

Chockful of picturesque settings and luscious scenes, this delicious memoir introduces us to Italy via the author’s restoration of an Italian villa, Bramsole. Part autobiography, part history, part travelogue and part cookbook, Mayes treats readers to the sights, sounds, textures, and tastes of the lovely Tuscan countryside and culture on every page, revealing their glory one paragraph at a time. What’s not to love?

Pair With:

Tuscan Style Chicken and White Bean Arugula Salad and crusty bread. For an entire cookbook chockfull of the hearty, rustic fare from central Italy, check out Lori de Mori’s Savoring Tuscany. Que bella! (No movie trailer here. Saw it. Ugh. One of the worst films ever. Don’t waste your time. Read the book instead and savor the author’s love for all things Italian.)

 

  1. The Bridges of Madison County – Robert James Waller, 1992.

I know, I know. Sappy, sappy, sappy. But it’s also one of the best-selling romance novellas of all time.

Set on an Iowa farm in the 1960s, Bridges tells the story of a lonely Italian-American woman (war bride) who meets a traveling photographer while her husband and children are at the state fair for the weekend.

Intense, poignant, and beautifully written, the story became a beloved film starring Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.

Call me a sap, but I cried.

 

Pair With:

Grab some tissue and sit down with Robert Kincaid and Francesca Johnson over hearty Iowan fare like tangy Herb Roasted Pork and Fresh Corn Salad or Garlicky Summer Squash & Fresh Corn.

3. Nights in Rodanthe – Nicholas Sparks, 2002.

Abandoned by her husband for a younger woman, 45 year-old Adrienne Willis is struggling to care for her sick father and raise her teenage children alone. She spends the weekend at a North Carolina inn. A storm is brewing. While there, Adrienne meets a divorced father and former surgeon running from his past. Set in Rodanthe, North Carolina.

I’d stock up on tissue ‘fize you.

 

Pair With:

Start with Sparks and end or continue with some favorite North Carolinian fare like Sweet Potato Biscuits and Country Ham or Crook’s Corner Shrimp and Grits. Be sure to save room for some Banana Pudding or Moravian Sugar Cake.

 

  1. Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds – Joy Adamson, 1960.

A profoundly moving story of the remarkable bond between an orphaned lioness, Elsa, and the humans who loved her enough to set her free.

 

Set in Kenya, Born Free is the true story of one of the most heartwarming relationships between humans and animals ever put to print. Beautifully illustrated with evocative photography.

I first read Born Free in 1969. I re-read it again last summer, 50 years later. I still love this story. A true classic.

 

Pair With:

Wind down your Kenyan safari with Elsa and the Adamsons with Kuku Paka (Kenyan Chicken in Coconut Curry Sauce) and Githeri (Kenyan Corn & Beans) or Sukuma Wiki (East African Greens Simmered with Tomatoes).

 

  1. Two From Galilee: The Story of Mary and Joseph  – Marjorie Holmes, 1972.

Frightened, alone and in love, a teenage girl and a young carpenter must withstand family conflict and a hostile world in order to carry out a responsibility that will change human history.

A compassionate, evocative tale of divine love for young and old and anyone who finds beauty and wonder in the timeless story of events surrounding the first Christmas. A best-selling classic.

 

Pair With:

Serve up a sumptuous Christmas feast celebrating this book with Dry-Brined Lemon Rosemary Roasted Turkey, Roasted Maple Pears With Cranberries & Thyme, Green Beans With Orange & Almond Gremolata, and Sour Cream Mashed Potaotes and Bacon Crumbs. Or try Pineapple-Glazed Ham.

 

What pairings are your favorite?

 

 

 

Banana pudding image credit: Flickr.

In case you’ve been in a cave or a coma lately, the Super Bowl is just around the corner. But some of us (who shall remain nameless) don’t watch the Super Bowl for football. We tune in for the commercials.

Indeed, Super Bowl broadcasts have showcased some of the most memorable television commercials of all time. So with Game Day waiting in the wings, we got to thinking about memorable TV commercials.

Now, “memorable” is highly subjective. A commercial doesn’t necessarily have to be any good to be “memorable.” It may be silly. Hokey. Or just plain ridiculous. It could be so bad, you can’t get it out of your head. It may also be so poignant and powerful, you can’t forget it.

So Kimber and I put our heads together the other day and came up with our own highly subjective, 100% unscientific list of the 12 Most Memorable TV Commercials Ever.

Not all of these commercials aired during a Super Bowl game. But can you name the ones that did? In no particular order:

1. The 9//11 Tribute (Budweiser, 2011)

When it comes to memorable ads, Budweiser is in a class by itselff.

The 9/11 tribute ad only aired once, during the 2011 Super Bowl. But once was enough.

Ten years after the tragedy, this ad features the famous Budweiser Clydesdales clip-clopping across the Brooklyn Bridge, past the Statue of Liberty, then bowing before the New York cityscape. Then “We’ll never forget” appears across the screen.

The ad airs without a single word of dialogue. It doesn’t need any.

One of the most poignant, powerful commercials ever.

2. I Can’t Believe I Ate That Whole Thing (Alka Seltzer, 1972)

In this ad, Ralph is seated on the edge of his bed, moaning about an upset stomach after over-eating. He doesn’t get much sympathy from his wife, who tells him to take some Alka-Seltzer.

The ad won a Clio Award (the television commercial equivalent of an Oscar) in 1972. The line, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing,” was selected by Newsweek magazine as one of the ten best quotes of the decade.

3. The Mayhem Guy – St. Bernard Puppy (Allstate, 2019)

In this commercial, a 70-pound St. Bernard puppy with a “lack of impulse control” meets its match in Tina Fey. “Get Allstate. Where good drivers save 40% for avoiding mayhem – like me.”

The Mayhem Guy has made a career out of these commercials. Which is your favorite?

4. Aqua Velva Man featuring Pete Rose – (Aqua Velva, 1976)

Pete Rose sings in this cheesy Aqua Velva commercial from 1976. Because there’s just something about an Aqua Velva man.

5. The Most Interesting Man in the World (Dos Equis, 2010)

His mother has a tattoo that reads “Son.” I don’t always drink beer. But when I do, I prefer Dos Equis. Stay thirsty, my friends.

Wait. Did I say the Pete Rose ad was cheesy?

6. 241 Years of Battles Won (U.S. Marine Corps, 2017)

For a place. For a people. For an idea…. It’s what we do. It’s who we are….

This may be the best recruiting commercial ever.

  1. Are You Grown Up Enough For Granny Goose? (Granny Goose Potato Chips, early 1960s)

Interesting. Well-seasoned. Provocative. The only question is: Are you grown up enough for Granny Goose?

Love it or hate it, this was one memorable ad. Totally un-PC.

  1. Mean Joe Green (Coca Cola, 1979)

One of the most famous Coca Cola commercials ever. Have a Coke and a smile.

9. Times of Your Life Christmas commercial featuring Paul Anka (Kodak, 1976)

Remember Paul Anka?

Good morning, yesterday. You wake up and time has slipped away. Do you remember? The laughter and the tears? The shadow of misty yester-years? (Bet you can’t stop humming that…)

Nostalgia meets Kodak in this beautiful holiday commercial.

Kodak film. For the times of your life. They nailed it!

10.I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (Coca Cola, 1971)

Who can forget this one? “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” is a pop song which originated as an advertising jingle. It’s sung by the Hillside Singers in this 1971 TV commercial.

It’s the real thing…

11.Another Angel Gets Its Wings (Target, 1993)

Scenes from the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life intersplice this music video from the 1993 Christmas song, Another Angel Gets Its Wings. By Vince Gill and Trisha Yearwood.

The video appeared at the beginning of the Target Exclusive VHS copy of It’s A Wonderful Life. If customers bought a Christmas album by either Gill or Yearwood at Target, a free cassette single of this tune was included.

Remember, for each and every bell that rings, another angel gets its wings. So share you care…

Everybody sing!

12.Puppy Love (Budweiser, 2014)

An adorable puppy + a majestic Clydesdale + the bonds of friendship = best buds and a cuteness overload!

Budweiser knocks it out of the park again with this Super Bowl ad from 2014.

Will you be watching this year’s Super Bowl game for the football, the commercials, or a little bit of both?

There’s this football thingy going on this Sunday. Apparently it’s a BIG football thingy. Dad’s working on “game day food.” I’m not sure what that means. But if “Game Day” makes the kitchen smell this good, then we should do Game Day every day.

 

Here are five of Dad’s and my favorite snacks and recipes for Super Bowl Sunday. (I don’t really care who’s playing. As long as I get bacon.)

 

 

CRANBERRY COCKTAIL MEATBALLS

(Makes 2 dozen cocktail-sized meatballs)

Flickr

Meatballs

2 lbs. ground beef round

1 cup packed cornflake crumbs

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/3 cup catsup

½ cup finely minced onion

 

Sauce

I can ( 16 oz.) jellied cranberry sauce

1 bottle (12 oz.) chile sauce

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. lemon juice

 

Mix meatball ingredients together in a large bowl. Form into walnut-sized balls. Place in a large square baking pan.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan mix together the sauce ingredients; Stir and simmer until the cranberry sauce melts. Pour over the meatballs and bake, uncovered for 30 minutes.

 

Adapted from Four Midwestern Sisters’ Christmas Book, 1991.

 

 

MOM’S SLOPPY JOES

Flickr

1 lb. ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped green pepper

1/2 lb. frankfurters, sliced

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. chili powder

 

In a skillet, lightly cook beef, onion and green pepper.  Drain fat.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Simmer 5 minutes.  Serve open-faced on kaiser or sour dough rolls, or hamburger style.

 

 

CHUNKY CHICKEN CHILI

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped celery

½ cup carrot

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup mild salsa

1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

3 teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon cumin

1 (15 oz.) can garbanzo beans

1 green bell pepper, chopped

 

Spray large nonstick saucepan with nonstick cooking spray. Heat over medium high heat until hot. Add chicken, onions, celery, carrot and garlic. Cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink.

 

Stir in salsa, tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder and cumin.

 

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover. Simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garbanzo beans and bell pepper. Simmer until thoroughly heated.  6 (1.5 cups) servings.

 

Adapted from Classic Pillsbury Cookbooks, Heart Healthy Recipes

 

CREAMY ONION DIP

1.5 cups dairy sour cream

2 Tbsp. dry onion soup mix

½ cup crumbled blue cheese (2 oz.)

Assorted vegetable dippers (celery, carrots, cauliflower or broccoli florets, bell pepper, baby carrots, radishes, cherry tomatoes, etc.)

 

In a medium bowl stir together sour cream and dry onion soup mix. Stir in blue cheese. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 48 hours. If desired, sprinkle with snipped parsley just before serving. Serve with veggie dippers. Makes 1.75 cups.

 

Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Best Loved Recipes 2006

 

SAUSAGE-CHEESE BALLS

Flickr

1 lb. bulk hot sausage, browned and cooled

1 lb. sharp cheddar, grated

3 cups Bisquick

¾ cup water

 

Combine, shape into 1-inch balls. Bake until lightly browned, about 20 minutes, at 350 degrees. Reheats well. Freeze separate, then put into bags. Makes 80 -100.

 

Adapted from Seasoned with Love: A Book of Favorite Recipes compiled by the Joint Heirs Sunday school class of Whittier Hills Baptist Church, April 1984.

 

Mom’s contribution:

Not being a football fan, there’s just one “football book” I can recommend for today: I Am Third, by Gale Sayers.

 

Movies featuring football worth seeing again and again? The Blind Side and Facing the Giants. Two thumbs up for both!

 

What would you add?

 

TTFN!

Mom and Kimber

(And Dad, too)

 

Everybody’s been saying “Happy New Year” or “Happy New Decade.” “Best of the Decade” lists pop up like dog biscuits after I do something  really, really clever. Like every nano-second.

But did January 1, 2020 actually mark the beginning of a new decade, or the last year of an old one? Mom and I looked into this. Sort of.

Here’s what some people have to say, via NBC15:

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the agency that maintains the country’s master clock, the new millennium began on Jan. 1, 2001.

Astronomical data also takes a similar course, beginning in 2001, 2011, and this time around, 2021.

But to others, that doesn’t change the fact that as a society we seemingly talk about decades starting with zeros and ending with nines. For instance, the 1990s seemed to last from 1990 until 1999.

Also see: When Does the New Decade Being: This Week, Or a Year From Now?

 

Julian dates and Merriam Webster and the Farmer’s Almanac? Why do humans have to make stuff so complicated? How ‘bout we all settle for a nice long walk and a milk bone?

Well. You know humans.

 

Here’s what Mom and I think:

1. A “decade” is 10 years, right?

2. So if a “decade” starts on zero, then it ends on zero, ten years later.

3. Which means the “zero” year is the final year of the decade.

4. Not the first year of a new one.

5. So save the “new decade” thing for 2021.

 

By the way. Did you notice our new look?

Mom and I spruced up our web site over the holidays. These are days when I get extra good stuff to eat and more treats! People laugh and dance a lot, too. They smile more. Why do they do this? Why don’t they laugh and dance and smile more every day instead of once a year? Well. You know humans.

Squirrel!

Now lemme see. Where was I?

Oh yeah. Our new web site. Did you notice we added a new banner? New theme and layout? New style and approach?

We even got a custom domain. We’re now officially Pages and Paws. (I’ve been bugging Mom about this since the 12th of Never. But you know Moms.)

 

We’re still making some changes. Updates. Revisions. Well, it’s mostly me. Mom helps a little. I mean, someone’s gotta keep track of meal times.

 

Anyway. We have lots of good stuff in the pipeline.

Like 13 Ways To ROCK Your 2020 Reading Challenge. Easy Super Bowl recipes. Delicious Valentine Pairings (books and food! Yum!). 16 Unforgettable Love Stories. 10 Most Romantic Movies of All Time. Ways to celebrate Read Across America day!

 

Oh yeah! I’m so excited!

 

So don’t be a stranger. C’mon in. Pull up a chair. Put your feet up and set a spell. Share a good book. Don’t forget to comment. (We love comments. But not as much as bacon.)

 

By the way again, can you eat “decades”? Askin’ for a friend!

 

Stay tuned!

XO,

Kimber

 

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