Archive for June, 2009

Dear Readers,

Late May and early June is strawberry time in Kentucky and I couldn’t let June end without recalling childhood memories of the neighborhood produce peddler and his song.  You see, our peddler was Junior Russell, the ne’er do well son of our neighbor.  He was a good guy but liked liquor a little too much for his own good.

But at strawberry time, he was a neighborhood celebrity who drew our attention with his loud “strawberry chant”.  Let me try to explain in writing the rhythmic sound of his call.  It went something like this “straw . . . bare. . . reez” with the accent on straw and reez, a pause and then another “strawberries” with no break between the syllables and then the final line, “a quarter a quart”.

That chant echoing from a block away was music to our ears.  We eagerly ran into the house to warn Mom to hurry because the “strawberry man” was coming!  She quickly fetched two quarters from the cigar box in the kitchen drawer along with a metal pan and handed them to my sister and me.  We promptly ran out to his truck to hand over the quarters in exchange for two full quarts of juicy, ripe, red berries, which he carefully piled into the pan.  Oh, the smell of those strawberries was heavenly!  We raced back into the house with this delightful treasure.

We knew what was in store for us;  Mom would clean those berries and bake her famous strawberry and strawberry-custard pies.  As always, 2 quarts was enough for 2 big pies.  But we could never decide which type of pie was our favorite, so we were allowed a small piece of each.

I no longer live in Kentucky and my Mom is no longer alive but at this time of year, I always remember Junior Russell’s “strawberry chant”  and the wonderful memories attached to it.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This recipe for a cold soup is easy and a great way to start a summer meal for family and friends.  I like it because it is inexpensive and contains no exotic ingredients.  There’s another added bonus – it’s low in fat and calories.  Hooray!  The source of the recipe is “Veggie Life Magazine”.

“Strawberry-Banana Soup

A soup where buttermilk really shines, keeping things from getting too sweet.

2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced

2 cups sliced strawberries

1/4 cup sugar, or to taste

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup lite sour cream

6 whole strawberries

In a food processor or blender, combine bananas, stawberries, sugar and lemon juice.  Process until smooth.

Transfer mixture to a large bowl and whisk in buttermilk and sour cream.  Serve chilled,  garnished with whole strawberries.

Makes 6 servings.  Each serving contains 117 calories and .5 grams of fat.”

Your toddler might also enjoy this soup.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

I walk for exercise about 3 or 4 times a week and sometimes during these walks many random thoughts just explode from my brain.  Here are a few I’ve remembered to jot down upon my return.

One of my walks takes me past a fire station.  On many occasions I’ve witnessed a fire truck zooming out the driveway complete with a loud blaring siren.  The driver’s face displayed a look of both urgency and anticipation.  And I’ve wondered:  does a fireman get addicted to the adrenaline rush when maneuvering a big fire truck down busy streets to answer a fire alarm?  And if so, how does he feel when driving the family car?  It must be quite a letdown!

Another thought was formed as I walked by some yards that were overgrown with weeds.  At first glance, the yard looked pretty messy.  But upon closer observation, there were beautiful little flowers of all colors and shapes blooming from these weeds.  Even the dandelions sported eye-catching golden blooms.  So . . . who really decides what blooms are worthy to be called flowers and which unfortunate plants have to carry the stigma of being a weed?

The final random thought occurred in the airport among a multitude of passengers.  How many people does one see in a lifetime?  And that includes seeing strangers at concerts, ballgames, graduation ceremonies, museums or just strolling down the streets of a crowded city like New York, Paris or Berlin.  In my 63 years of life, I’ve encountered quite a few human beings.  I just wish I had a little counter in my brain that would register the exact amount.  Maybe the count is in the millions!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

I know quite a few mothers who are very interested in providing the healthiest food they can for their toddlers.  They want to make sure their toddlers form the best eating habits early.  It is with this thought in mind that I baked these cupcakes for my granddaughter’s first birthday.  They are extremely healthy and taste pretty darn good!

Oatmeal Cupcakes

1/2 cup applesauce

1/4 cup honey

2 eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 cups regular whole oats

1/2 cup fresh, dried or frozen fruit (I’ve used peaches, blueberries or pitted fresh cherries)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients; mixing well.  Place batter in foil baking cups in cupcake pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Makes 12 cupcakes.

These cupcakes taste a little like granola and can be frozen.  Put a birthday candle into each cupcake and you are all set for a healthy birthday treat for your toddler.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written about cleaning; and we all know a lot of “motherly tips” revolve around cleanliness.  So, here goes:

Tip#1 – Throw away your paper towels and Windex or Glass Plus!  The most effective way to clean mirrors and windows is with “Mysticmaid – the original microfiber cleaning cloth”.  Permit me to quote from the label.  “The original microfiber cleaning cloth cleans dirt, dust, grease and grime from any hard surface without cleaners or chemicals.  Use dampened with plain water for cleaning; simply wipe; dries streak-free and line-free in seconds.”

Make sure to thoroughly wring out all excess water when using.  Cloth can be machine or hand washed and line dried only.  Purchased it at a street fair in CA for $10.50 and the best part is that it really works!  For more information on this product, visit the website:  www.mysticmaid.com.

Tip #2 – This next product is very effective for all you pet owners – the Scotch “Fur Fighter” Hair Remover.  It comes in a kit with a plastic handle that the hair remover sheets attach to.  It will not harm upholstery and picks up pet hair better than a vacuum cleaner.  The starter kit, manufactured by 3M, comes with handle and 5 disposable sheets.  Saw it at Wal-Mart for $7.98.  A refill package of 8 sheets retails for $4.97.  It can be found in the claning supply aisle at Wal-Mart.  For more info, visit the website:  www.ScotchFurFighter.com.

Hope these tips are useful to you!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Who doesn’t love apple pie – that all-American favorite?  Well, here’s a simple apple pie recipe from my friend Marie, the same friend that gave me her wonderful brownie recipe.  It is really easy and is a different twist from the traditional apple pie recipe.

Swedish Apple Pie

Fill a greased 9-inch pie pan 2/3 full with sliced apples (use any variety)

1 tablespoon susgar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 cup flour

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over apples.  Melt 3/4 cup butter; add to it sugar, egg, flour and walnuts.  Pour mixture over apples.  Bake 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven.


Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

It’s been 50 years since I graduated from the 8th grade at St. Therese School in Louisville, Ky.  Recently dug out my graduation photo to refresh my memories of the class.  Thirty-two of us lined up on the church steps to pose for posterity; 16 girls and 16 boys along with Fr. Louis Bossung the pastor and Fr. Robert Mills, his assistant.  No picture of our teacher, Sister M. Ethel, as nuns were not supposed to be included in the photo.  None the less, she was a major influence on our lives.

Only 16 of us spent the entire 8 years of grammar school together.  We knew each other so well we were almost like family.  After graduation many of us drifted apart either because of moves or attending different high schools.  Four of us went to the same Catholic high school for girls, Ursuline Academy.  Two graduates married each other – they were childhood sweethearts from the seventh grade on.  One boy copied answers to math problems from me and is now a CPA!  Another girl became a nurse.  One classmate died a few years ago after spending many years in a nursing home.  She was the victim of a major stroke.

We never had a reunion but this year would be a great time for one.  We’ve all had 50 years of living since then along with many unique experiences.  Many tales of marriage, divorce, children, grandchildren, good and bad health and even death could be traded among us.  All of us have faced these situations and know the feelings that accompany each of them.  I would love the opportunity to talk with these classmates and find out how life has treated them.  I wish the best for all of them.  But for now, the memories attached to this photo will have to be enough.

May God bless all of you wherever you are!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

On my morning walk, I noticed a downtown condo development under construction.  One building of 4 condos was completed but with only 1 unit sold.  Next door was the framed skeleton of another building.  It was evident that no work was being done on it now.  (I guess the recession slowed down construction.)  The remainder of the area was just an empty parcel of land invaded by weeds.  There were lights on in the sold unit and furniture by the patio doors.  I was wondering how it feels to be the first occupant in a new development.  Is this homesteader lonely  or proud to be the first homeowner?

Then I thought about my morning walk which is usually in the same direction, counterclockwise around a 15 block area.  The walk is so comfortable and familiar I could almost walk it in my sleep!  But why does it feel so different when I walk it in the opposite direction?  Same houses and yards yet somehow they don’t look the same at all.  Is it because the sunlight shines on them from a different angle?  I don’t think that’s the answer because the walk is still unfamiliar on cloudy days.  Maybe the scenery is the same but I’m viewing it from a different perspective.

And my final thought is why are there so many disabled drivers parked in the restricted areas on the streets surrounding the North Carolina Archives and History Building at Jones and Blount Streets?  Are they all employees or just visitors?  Counted 30 handicap parking placards in this area the other day.  Are some of these drivers cheating the system?  I hope not!

Keep smilin’!

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