Archive for December, 2008

Mimi Is On Vacation

Dear Readers,

I’m on vacation visiting family for the Christmas holidays.  Will return after New Year’s Day. 

Keep smilin’!

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Christmas Thoughts

Dear Readers,

Christmas is the time when we think of family and friends.  And it is in this spirit that I want to salute all of those people near and dear to me.

To “Hubby” who gives me confidence to try new things and who loves me even when my hair is flat!

To my daughter who makes me laugh when telling of her globe-trotting adventures.  And to her husband who takes such good care of  his wife.

To my son and his wife for always making me feel welcome in their home and letting me be a big part of their daughter’s life.

To my granddaughter for making my heart sing!

To my two sisters who share the same Christmas memories with me and who love me no matter what.

To my niece and her family for showing me what kindness and compassion really are.

To my nephew and his family for loving me and making me laugh.

To my tennis friends for helping me exercise and having a great time in their company.

To my other friends for their loving support.

To my readers for making me feel that maybe I do have something to say.

To all of you, Merry Christmas and my God bless each and every one of you!

Keep smilin’!

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Random Toddler Tips

Dear Readers,

Mimi has assembled some random toddler tips for your consideration.

Tip #1:  This info is from the article “Eat Smart” by Jean Carper.  “Preschoolers who ate yogurt every day for a year had shorter episodes of diarrhea.  And Yale experts see strong evidence that yogurt bacteria help prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Tip #2:  Ms. Carper also writes about childhood allergies.  “Children who ate 3-1/2 ounces of yogurt containing the bacteria L. casei a day for a year had fewer attacks of allergic rhinitis or hay fever” according to an Italian study.  “New Finnish research shows that women who ate probiotics found in yogurt from the eighth month of pregnancy had babies who were less prone to allergies”.

Tip #3:  Have you ever taken your little ones for a professional photo and realized that their hair won’t lay right because of static electricity?  Just take a dryer sheet with you and rub it on their hair and it stops misbehaving.  Got this tip from a good friend of my sister!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Mimi wants to squeeze in one more recipe before Christmas.  Found this recipe as a child on a leaflet at the corner neighborhood grocery store.  The Diamond Walnut Co. printed it and I talked my Mom into trying it.  She loved the cookies and continued baking them for many Christmases.

It’s so easy and you don’t even need a mixer!

Walnut Surprise Cookies

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup English walnuts, chopped

Stir together sugar, egg, vanilla.  Add flour, salt, soda and walnuts.  Spread batter in a greased 9 inch square pan.  Bake 20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Leave in pan, cut into squares while warm.  Then cool and break the bars apart.

These cookies also freeze very well.  Take care not to overbake or they will become dry.


Keep smilin’!


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Dear Readers,

Recently read an article entitled “Eco-Toys for Your Tyke”.  It was very informative so I’m going to quote from most of the article.  By the way, the author is Natalie Ermann Russell.

“Last holiday season, parents were paralyzed with fear as they tried to buy toys free of lead paint.  Now, the toy industry has branched out with eco-friendly, toxin-free options.  Here are a few:

Sprig Adventure Series (sprigtoys.com) These toy vehicles are a composite of recycled wood and reclaimed plastic – no paint (so no lead).  They’ve tested negative for potentially harmful chemicals BPA (bisphenol A) and phthalates.  Best part?  No batteries.  The LED light and sound features are powered by your child pumping the vehicle.

Green Toys (greentoys.com)  These are made 100% in California, so parts aren’t shipped from overseas.  All the toys are classics – the kind that rely on imagination, such as a tea set or gardening set.  And they’re made from recycled milk containers, which contain no BPA, phthalates or lead”.

Speaking of recycled toys, have a cute story from Pa about this.  He told us that every year about a month or two before Christmas, his wagon would mysteriously vanish.  It would then  re-appear on Christmas morning painted a different color!  His Mom knew the benefits of recycling toys, especially when there were 10 kids to provide toys for.  Pa always went along with the ploy but he did admit to us that he got pretty tired of that same ole wagon year after year!!!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Was out on my usual 3 mile walk one morning, strolling at a pretty fair pace.  About halfway through the walk, I heard footsteps behind me.  Turned around to sneak a peek at my fellow walkers.  Well, it was a man and woman younger than me, armed with weights in both hands and earphones on their ears.  They looked like mighty serious walkers to me!

Determind not to let them pass me, Mimi stepped up the pace!  Continued at this furious pace for a while and then I heard the man clear his throat and cough a little.  Oh! Oh!  Either he’s warning me he is overtaking me or this pace is wearing him out.  Turned around to look and with a sigh of relief realized that I was way ahead of the couple.  Needless to say, I finished that walk in record time.

Funny how the spirit of competition overtakes us in the most unusual circumstances!!!

Keep smilin’!

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Flying Prayer

Dear Readers,

Around Thanksgiving I read an article in the Wall Street Journal called “Declarations” written by Peggy Noonan.  Among other things, she wrote about being thankful in these turbulent times for our safety.  Then she went on to say that when she flies, she says this prayer:

“Dear God, put your big hands under this plane and lift it up, and carry it forward through the air untouched and unharmed by other objects.  And may its inner workings work.  And put us down softly in our place of destination, and return us safely to our homes, and to those in whose lives we are enmeshed.”

And to that, Mimi adds a heartfelt “Amen”!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

December 8 reminded me of Christmas shopping with my Mom.  That date was a holyday and we had a holiday in our Catholic grade school.  There was no such thing as a Christmas sale, so every year we shopped on December 8.

We walked two blocks to the bus stop on Barret Avenue for the trip downtown.  I can still remember dropping coins in the fare box and how they jingled as they rolled down a maze of different levels before they hit the bottom.  You could really make a lot of noise, if your fare was a combination of nickels and pennies!

The department stores were so exciting – lots of hustle and bustle on the first floor as you walked through revolving doors.  The perfume counter was up front and I knew just where the large candy counter was located in the rear of the store.  There were all types of candy on display – chocolates, licorice mix, candy corn, gummy candy in all shapes and colors, and even mixed nuts.  It was so enjoyable watching the lady use a big metal scoop to pile the candy on a scale to weigh it in increments of 4, 8 or 16 ounces.  Then she carefully placed it in a special candy bag.  We always bought the lower priced candy – Mom was very practical.  I would have loved to have purchased a big chocolate turtle!  (That’s a round mound of nougat covered with chocolate with 4 whole pecans sticking out for legs.)

Mom bought new Christmas outfits for us, even new patent leather mary janes.  (Buster Brown had an x-ray machine we put our feet in to get the proper size!!!)  Shopping wasn’t complete until we sat on Santa’s lap and told him how good we had been and what we wanted for Christmas.

The day ended with a late lunch at the counter of the five-and-dime store.  We always ordered the same thing:  grilled cheese, french fries and a small coke.  ( I guess because it was the most reasonably priced item on the menu.)  The food came out on a rolling conveyor belt from the kitchen.  It was so exciting to see all the fancy ice cream dishes and banana splits glide by.  (Kids didn’t  have the opportunity to eat out much during the 50’s.)  When we finished our lunch. Mom took the checks and paid the cashier behind the cash register at the end of  the counter.

Went out the door and crossed the street to reach our bus stop.  “Chestnut-Norris” or “Chestnut-Newburg”; these were the only buses to take to return to Barret Avenue.  We loved helping Mom carry all the Christmas shopping bags from the bus stop to our front door.

December  8 was truly a magical day and not one to ever be forgotten!

Keep smilin’!

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Christmas Cup of Nuts

Dear Readers,

Mimi has a great idea for a hostess gift to be used during the holidays.  How about filling Christmas mugs with “Sugared ‘n Spiced Nuts”?  You can find the inexpensive mugs almost anywhere; the recipe for the nuts is easy, and doesn’t require any special equipment or ingredients.  Wrap the mug in cellophane of plastic wrap, attach a ribbon and Voila!  You have a special homemade Christmas present.

Sugared ‘n Spiced Nuts

4 cups pecan or walnut halves

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Heat oven to 275 degrees.  Grease cookie sheet.  Spread nuts on prepared cookie sheet; bake 10 minutes.  In medium saucepan, combine sugar, water,cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and nuts.  Using slotted spoon, place nuts on foil or waxed paper.  Separate with fork; let dry.  Store in airtight container in cool dry place.

Notes:  One batch of nuts will also fit into an empty 13 oz. coffee can.  This recipe should fill about 3 mugs, maybe more.  Do not double this recipe.  The syrup will not dry properly on the nuts.  Walnut halves are cheaper than pecans and can be purchased at Costco for a reasonable price.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

December 6 is the feast day of St. Nicholas.  When my sisters and I were growing up, we celebrated this feast day in a special way.  We hung up one of our Dad’s longest socks on the mantel behind the coal stove on the evening of December 5.

We had school the next day, so we arose extra early to see what treasures the sock held.  Sure enough, there were wonderful delights awaiting us.  There was always an apple or an orange in the toe of the sock to make it stretch.  A nickel or two was also resting in the toe.  Then the remainder of the stocking was filled with candy bars such “Zero” bars and “Clark” bars.  (Mimi is really giving away her age by mentioning these candy bars – they’re not even made any more!)  There were also lots of penny candies, including tootsie rolls and maryjanes.

We loved having this small celebration before the big one on Christmas.  But we didn’t hang up stockings on Christmas Eve, because we didn’t want to appear greedy!  Our Mom told us that naughty kids got pieces of coal in their stockings.  That would be awful!

Those were great days and they will always be a big part of my Christmas memories!

Keep smilin’!

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