Archive for September, 2009

Dear Readers,

The flu season is quickly approaching; Mimi got a seasonal flu shot this week.  Thoughts of an H1N1 epidemic are becoming more real, even in church.

In fact, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued guidelines for the celebration of Mass during the coming months.  We have been asked to refrain from shaking hands with fellow worshippers during the Sign of Peace and just say “Peace be with you”.  In addition the reception of Holy Communion from the Cup will be suspended.  Priests, deacons and Eucharistic ministers are asked to wash their hands before and after Mass.  (I hope they have always done this.)   These guidelines go into effect the first Sunday in October, but parishioners were already abiding by them this Sunday.  So now at the Sign of Peace, we all just smile at each other and give a peaceful greeting.  I will miss the handshake because it is a nice way to connect with each other but for now it seems to be the safest thing to do!

Recently visited Yale’s campus and they are gearing up for the H1N1 virus by providing hand sanitizing stations at numerous locations, including the cafeteria and library.  There were Purell hand sanitizers on the counter at the local AT&T phone store in a shopping center.  New Haven, CT has decided they would rather be safe than sorry and I don’t blame them one bit!

For more info on correct handwashing, please read my blog “Washing Germs Down the Drain” located in the March, 2009 archives on the right side of this website.

In the meantime, remember to sneeze into your sleeve.  Keep your hands  away from your eyes, nose and mouth.  Stay home when you are sick and get a flu shot now.  Mimi sure is giving lots of motherly tips today!  Stay well and

Keep smilin’!

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Beans, Beans and More Beans

Dear Readers,

Here’s a recipe for an easy autumn meal.  Just combine it with a tossed salad and cornbread and you have a winning combo.  The added bonus is the healthy protein provided by the beans in this recipe.

Three Bean Bake

3 slices bacon

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green pepper, chopped

2 (16 oz.) cans baked beans

1 (16 oz.) can lima beans, drained

1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, undrained

1/2 cup chili sauce

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Cook bacon in medium skillet until crisp; drain, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet.  Crumble bacon and set aside.  Saute onion and green pepper in drippings until tender.

Combine onion mixture, bacon and remaining ingredients; stir well.  Spoon mixture into a greased 2-1/2 quart casserole.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Yield:  8 to 10 servings.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Tomorrow is my birthday and it’s always a special day.  But there are some birthdays that are more special than others and memories of my 9th birthday are vividly etched on my brain.

I was a fourth-grader in Sister M. Teresita’s class at St. Therese Grade School and the anticipation of my birthday dinner celebration was uppermost in my thoughts that entire day.  School dismissal was at 2:30 P.M. but because I helped the teacher after class every afternoon, my walk home began at 3:30 P.M.

It was a beautiful early autumn afternoon with clear blue sky and just a hint of fall’s coolness in the air.  It  was just about perfect!  Thoughts of my birthday dinner and presents propelled me home swiftly.  That year I had requested a birthstone ring of sapphire.  At nine years old, surely I was old enough for an adult piece of  jewelry.

Mom had prepared a delicious feast.  As a birthday treat, we were allowed to pick the menu and I had chosen fried pork chops, baked macaroni and cheese, green beans and waldorf salad with oodles of red grapes and apples.  Dessert was a homemade, white, two layer cake decorated with white icing and adorned with deep pink roses.  Mom piped “Happy Birthday, Mary” on top.

I could smell dinner cooking as soon as I walked through the door.  My Great Aunt Alma was an invited guest.  We enjoyed the festive meal in our small kitchen and then Dad turned off the light as Mom lit the nine candles.  Everyone sang “Happy Birthday” and I happily blew out the candles.  After eating cake, it was time to open the presents.  My great aunt gave me a card with two dollars tucked inside.  Then my parents brought out the small ring box.  I carefully unwrapped it and inside was the most beautiful sapphire ring in the world!  The stone was a square cut and it was a little loose on my finger.  Mom carefully attached a roll of adhesive tape to the back of the ring to make it fit snugly.

I wore that ring everyday for many years; in fact, I still have it.  It’s a great reminder of a very memorable birthday.

Keep smilin’!

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Another Apple Recipe

Dear Readers,

Last Friday I gave you a recipe for Virginia Apple Pudding.  This Friday here’s another apple recipe so you can make full use of the great variety of apples coming to market in September.  This Cheese Apple Bread is simple to make and freezes very well.  It also makes a terrific hostess present.

Cheese Apple Bread

1/2 cup butter

2 eggs

2/3 cup sugar

2 cups flour

1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup peeled, shredded apples

1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Combine butter, eggs and dry ingredients  in large mixing bowl; blend well.  Stir in apples and cheese.  Turn into well-greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes, until center of loaf tests done.  Cool thoroughly before removing from pan.  Serve with sweet butter.

Makes one loaf.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

There is nothing like a parade!  Can’t decide what part is the most thrilling.  There’s  the  precise marching of glittering drill teams as they strut and twirl their batons; the pulsating rhythm and beat of the marching band; and the elegant grandeur of sauntering horses.  It’s all good.

As a child I never had the opportunity to witness a live parade; only those televised.  Loved to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in NYC with the towering inflated characters held down by teams of strong men.  Windy days were quite a challenge for them.  The arrival of Santa signaled the parade’s end.  They saved the best for last!  Also enjoyed the Rose Bowl Parade in Pasadena, CA.  The majestic floats constructed of live flowers were works of art and I’m sure they smelled delightful.

My first live parade was as a teenager in Louisville, KY watching the Kentucky Derby Parade meander down Broadway.  It lasted for almost 2 hours with lots of bands, horses, floats and tons of funny clowns;  you know the part where about 20 clowns climb out of a small Volkswagen Beetle!  It was so exciting and so much more enjoyable in person.

In the last few years, my husband and I have attended the Tamale Festival Parade in Indio, CA on the first Saturday in December.  As you can imagine,  Hispanic music is played and clusters of colorfully clad young senoritas perform Mexican folk dances.  Fancy hot rods roll by and some are rigged to rise up and down about 2 feet above their axles.  They’re amazing to watch and always get a huge cheer from the crowd.

My most recent parade was one staged by the Southeastern Association of Firemen as the concluding part of their convention held in Raleigh, NC.  There were many shiny fire trucks of all types – hook ‘n ladder and even water tank trucks.  Some were antiques and others looked brand new.  They were all  highly buffed and polished; not a speck of dirt anywhere.  Families lined the street with small children eagerly waving to the firemen as their sirens blared.  A small group of bagpipers played and solemnly marched by.

By most standards, it wasn’t a long parade and only lasted about 25 minutes.  But those 25 minutes were utterly thrilling and raised my spirits for the remainder of the day.  Yes, Mimi does love a parade and someday hopes to march in one!

Keep smilin’!

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An Apple A Day . . .

Dear Readers,

It’s September and apples are arriving daily at the Farmers’ Market.  They look so delicious – there are so many varieties to choose from.  Here’s an apple dessert that I’ve been preparing since I was a newlywed and that’s 39 years ago!  It’s easy and tastes fantastic warmed up and sitting beside a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Virginia Apple Pudding

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup sifted flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

2 cups peeled, raw apple slices

Melt butter in an 8 or 9 inch square casserole pan.  Sift dry ingredients together and add milk to make a batter.  Pour over melted butter in casserole.  Pile apple slices in center of batter.  Bake in a 375 degree oven until batter covers fruit and crust browns – 30 to 40 minutes.  Serve warm, plain or with vanilla ice cream.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Enjoy and remember:  an apple a day keeps the doctor away!  But I’m not sure if that counts for desserts!!!  Oh well.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Okay this is my last installment of back to school in the 50’s.

We attended Catholic grade school and had to purchase our own textbooks.  Books were never purchased new; it was just too expensive.  Mom searched for students a year ahead of us who bought new books or had very clean used books.  The value of new textbooks was a lot like the value of new cars; once they’re used, the purchase price drops dramatically.  After some serious “wheeling and dealing” by Mom, our books were obtained for a total of approximately $5 for each of us.  School tuition at that time was 50 cents per month per child.  By the time we reached 5th grade, we negotiated the purchase of our second-hand texts without Mom, but armed with all her bargaining knowledge.

There was no such thing as a cafeteria in our school; at least not until I was in the 6th grade.  We were allotted an hour for lunch and given the option of lunch at home or a packed lunch in the school lunch room.

As a first grader, Mom bought me a blue metal lunch pail with a rounded top that contained a thermos bottle suitable for providing cold milk.  My fellow classmates had square metal lunch boxes with images of Roy Rogers or Hopalong Cassidy on them.  Mine looked like something a union laborer carried into a factory.  I hated it and at the end of each school day, the smell of spilled milk in it just plain stunk!  After a couple of years of this lunch pail, I pleaded with Mom to just pack my lunch in a brown paper bag.  I then was able to buy a cold bottle of mik for 2 cents at Royer’s Grocery store, next to school, return the empty glass bottle and throw the bag in the trash can.  Very efficient and the best part was no more stinky lunch boxes for me!

All the kids brought the same type of lunch – bologna on white bread with mayo or peanut butter and jelly wrapped in waxed paper.  An apple or a banana was included in most luch bags; but Mom packed raw carrot sticks for us because they were “good for our eyesight”!  Some days we were surprised by the addition of a Hostess chocolate cupcake or a bag of chips.  We gobbled those lunches down quickly so that we could have more time to play during the lunch recess.

Back to school in the 50’s was quite different from today.  Not much money was spent and we didn’t have the luxury of the conveniences available today.  But we did manage to learn to read, write, add and subtract quite well without all the frills!

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Mimi promised a continuation of school memories and here it is.

I bet you’ve never heard of Toni’s Home Permanent Wave Kit.  Every year at summer’s end, Mom purchased a kit for about $1.99 at Walgreen’s Drug Store.  This “Toni” was guaranteed to make our straight hair curly and also make us beautiful.

It was quite an ordeal getting a home permanent wave.  First Mom covered our shoulders with a big thick bath towel.  Then she proceeded to section off strands of hair which were enclosed in tissue paper sheet measuring about 2″ by 4″.  Each enclosed strand was wrapped around a plastic rod that was secured with a small rubber band.  Next the curling solution was daubed onto each rod with the tissue paper aiding in the saturation of the hair. The solution stung and burned my scalp and the towel caught the overflowing drops.  This concoction stunk and smelled like rotten eggs.  And the worst part was it had to be left on the hair for 30 to 45 minutes, until a test curl contained the desired amount of wave.  At this point, Mom applied a neutralizer to stop the curling action; rinsed our heads and removed the plastic rods.  If the neutralizer wasn’t applied at the correct time, you could end up with a head full of extremely frizzy hair!  The shampoo at the end of this process was a welcome relief.

When we complained, Mom would reply, “You have to suffer, if you want to look pretty!”  Then and there I decided that being pretty just wasn’t worth it.  Ugly was just fine for me.  But that wasn’t going to happen.  Mom wanted her daughters to have curly hair and so we did.  I have to admit my sister and I looked pretty darn cute in our school pictures.  But by the time I reached 4th grade, I got tired of home perms and Mom abandoned her idea of curly-headed daughters!

Check out part 3 of this blog detailing school lunches and the purchasing of used textbooks next time.  And

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Classes started this week for most of the grade, middle and high school students in Raleigh.  It reminded me of “back to school” in the 50’s.  Of course, school started at a later date; usually the Tuesday after Labor Day.

Thoughts of school really started with the blooming of our white clematis vine around the middle of August.  The thick clematis with its small white flowers that was draped over the wire fence behind the back porch swing, was a thing of beauty.  But it was not fully appreciated by school age kids.  In our mind, these three events were entirely connected:  the clematis bloomed, summer ended and school began.  Our childhood friend, Darlene, hated school so much that every summer she ran home from our house as soon as she spotted the first tiny clematis flower!

It was also during this time that we took our annual shopping trip for back to school shoes.  We walked from our house on Breckinridge Street to the corner of Preston and Jefferson Streets in downtown Louisville.  This was no short journey as it encompassed a distance of about 15 to 20 city blocks each way.  Goldie’s Discount Shoe Store was located there and it was a great place to purchase quality shoes at a discount price.  Mom purchased our brown and white saddle oxfords there.  These sturdy shoes felt stiff and unyielding, as our feet were accustomed to being bare or enclosed in loose-fitting summer sandals.  But those new shoes were so clean and new, that we were proud to wear them; even if it meant acquiring a few new blisters!  Quite a lot of adhesive tape was applied and used the first weeks of school.

There are a couple of other back to school memories such as getting a home permanent wave, purchasing used textbooks and the selection of a lunch box that carried various school lunches.  But I’ll save them for a part 2 and part 3 of this blog.  Be sure to watch for them and

Keep smilin’!

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