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Archive for June, 2011

Dear Readers,

We have a guest blogger today – my husband, Mike.  He offered to write a post and I eagerly accepted.  Hope you enjoy reading some of his thoughts.  Thank you, honey, for contributing to Mimi’s blog.

How Do You Define A Special Day?

Getting married, having a baby, winning the lottery, earning a promotion, getting a raise, moving into a new house; of course, all of these constitute special days in one’s life.  But if major events are the only way we define special days, we are limiting ourselves.  If all seven events listed above happened in one year, we would only have seven special days.  What about the other 358 days?  How do we make them special so we can learn to appreciate them?  We always hear that we should “live for the moment” but we know how difficult that is to accomplish.  We Americans are very busy people.  We get so involved and focused on mundane things that we sometimes forget how important it is to live for today.  Yesterday I did not forget.

My wife and I live in the south and we deal with humidity almost every day.  A good air conditioner is a necessity in our area.  If my state had a thousand divorces, you can be sure that 998 were filed when the air conditioner was broken.  But I digress.  What happened yesterday that made it such a special day?  Not a whole lot if one uses the criteria with which I began this post.

We woke up yesterday to a strange phenomenon.  There was no humidity in the air.  Our air conditioner could have been broken and I don’t think it would have affected our marriage at all.  There was a cool breeze hitting our skin, the skies were blue and life was suddenly better than the previous day.  My wife informed me that we were going to play tennis.  I nodded yes because I knew I really did not have a vote in this decision.  We played for about an hour, I told her that she was improving and she looked at me almost like she did 44 years ago when we started dating.  Well I guess that might be a slight exaggeration but at least I knew she was happy with the tennis date.  We then took showers, had a nice lunch and then the phone rang.  It was our daughter-in-law asking if we wanted to join her and our two granddaughters for a couple of hours at the park.  Off to the park playing with two granddaughters and the humidity was still very low.  Five o’clock was “wine time” on the front deck and this is my definition of a special day.

If we wait for the main events in life to define special, we can lose sight of the truly great things that happen on a daily basis.  Live each day really is a good idea and we should try hard not to forget it.

Keep smilin’!

Michael

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Dear Readers,

Attended a Memorial Day cookout at my niece’s home in Louisville, Ky. and she served this ice cream dessert.  She copied it from allrecipes.com where it was submitted by Gvanderhey.  Everyone raved about this dessert and I asked for a copy of the recipe to share with you.

Buster Bar Ice Cream Dessert

1/2 pound chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed

1/4 cup margarine, melted

3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

1/2 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/4 cup margarine

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups vanilla ice cream

3/4 cups dry-roasted peanuts

1.  Combine crushed cookies and melted margarine and press into a 9″ x 9″ square dish.  Chill 1 hour in refrigerator.

2.  In a saucepan over medium heat, combine confectioners’ sugar, evaporated milk, chocolate chips and 1/4 cup margarine.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, and boil 8 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.  Set aside to cool.

3.  Slice vanilla ice cream into 3/4 inch slices, and place them in a single layer over the chilled crust.  Smooth the seams.  Sprinkle the peanuts over the ice cream.  Top with the cooled chocolate sauce.  Cover and freeze 8 hours or overnight.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

This is the final installment of the saga of Mimi and the piano.

“As luck would have it, I managed to sell the piano in quite an unusual manner. I had hand surgery this summer and was sitting across the table from a woman in occupational therapy who said she was a piano teacher.  The light bulb went on in my head,so I casually mentioned to her that I had a Baldwin piano for sale.  Her eyes lit up because she knew of a family looking for a piano and she recommended that they buy a Baldwin.  She took my name and telephone number and sure enough, I received a phone call from Steve Wildemann.  He was interested in the piano and we set up an appointment for Saturday afternoon.  His second call was to ask if it was okay to bring the whole family.

The Wildemann family came promptly at 12:30 PM – Steve, Cathy and their four children – a girl 9 years old and three boys aged 8 years, 7 years and 7 months.  The three oldest kids all tried out the piano; although the 7 year old only wanted to play with his right hand!  They were such a cute family and the children were all very well behaved.  The oldest girl played two songs from memory and the piano never sounded better.

We agreed on a purchase price of $1,400.  (The piano tuner told me the piano was worth $1,500. to $2,000.)  Arrangements were made to pick up the piano on the following Wednesday morning.  I told the kids that if they became famous pianists, I wanted some of the credit because my Baldwin piano was involved!

On Tuesday night I down sat to play one last time.  (I could only play with my right hand because of the surgery.)  It was only fitting for my last piece to be “A Time For Us”, the love theme from the movie “Romeo and Juliet”.  This song was played at our wedding and I learned an easy version of it to surprise Mike on our anniversary years ago!

So now the piano is gone and I am comforted by the fact that it is in the home of a very loving family.  I’ll always have the memories of my piano-playing days and those memories might fade with time.  One thing that won’t fade is the love my husband showed to me on my 30th birthday so long ago!”

Keep smilin!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s a continuation of the story of Mimi and the piano.

“There was one area of music that wasn’t too hard for me and that was Christmas carols.  I loved playing these songs and started playing them right after Thanksgiving until Christmas.  One year for my last lesson before the Christmas break with Chris (my piano teacher), I played a surprise Christmas concert for her.  She was so touched; she had tears in her eyes when I finished.  I think we both knew that was as good as I would ever get!

I was never a quitter so I bravely soldiered on and continued the lessons until summer vacation.  Lisa Carroll, a friend of my daughter, Jude, played on my piano one afternoon.  She was 8 years old and was better than me!  I knew then that my dream of playing the piano was over.  I waited until fall to tell Chris I wasn’t coming back.  At the time Chris was involved with some personal problems so my quitting was no big deal to her – she had more important things on her mind.  But for me quitting was a really big deal!  I felt like a failure at the time.  I had taken lessons for 8 years and all I had to show for it was Christmas carols.  Looking back I don’t think I was a failure – I just didn’t have musical ability which is God-given.

So the piano remained just a beautiful piece of furniture that I had tuned every spring and played every December.  The piano even stayed with us on our move from Mohill Drive to Blue Bell Country Club.  It had a place of honor in our living room.  Neither of our kids were interested in music lessons but I held onto the piano, just in case any future grandchildren might want it.

We are moving from PA to CA and there is no room for a piano that no one plays!  My son doesn’t want it and Jude will inherit her fiance’s piano from his parents.  The only sensible solution is to sell the piano.

As luck would have, I managed to sell the piano in quite an unusual manner.”

To Be Continued.

And remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

On my 30th birthday my husband gave me a piano.  In 2003 when we were preparing to move from Blue Bell, Pa. to Ranch Mirage, Ca., I realized that it was time to part with my piano.  It was very difficult so after the sale of the piano, I sat down and poured out my feelings in longhand on a yellow legal pad.  I recently found these pages and would like to share them with you.  I haven’t edited or changed a word of it.  This is exactly how the words and feelings tumbled out onto the page.  It is quite lengthy so I will split it up into three installments

“June 28, 2003.  Today I sold my piano!  It was not easy parting with this instrument.  It was a gift from my husband for my 30th birthday.

I can still remember after 27 years, all the time and effort he put into the purchase.  As per his personality, Mike thoroughly researched the makes and types of pianos available in our price range.  I thought I might receive a used spinet, but Mike wanted the best for me.  It was a brand new Baldwin “Hamilton” model studio console.  It was bigger and had a better sound than a spinet.  The next model better than that was a baby grand.  The console fit perfectly into our living room on Daws Road.  The only problem was I didn’t know how to play the piano!

Here I was 30 years old taking lessons from a lady in the neighborhood, who was my age or younger.  My only stipulation was that I would not play in a recital.  Too proud and too nervous for any such endeavor!

And so it started – every week I went to a house directly behind ours for a half-hour piano lesson.  Practicing 45 to 60 minutes a day for 5 days a week became a familiar routine for me.  (I did take off Saturday and Sunday.)  Practice makes perfect!  Right?  Well, unless you are born with musical ability, practice doesn’t make perfect but does bring on a lot of frustration!

After a year, my piano teacher divorced and moved away.  She recommended her teacher, Chris Zakarian, to me.  Chris and I hit if off and since she was a free spirit, piano lessons became fun.  Unfortunately practice was not.

I was still taking lessons when Andrew was born, almost 3 years later.  But each year I resumed lessons later in the fall and quit earlier and earlier in the spring.  I was always a good student in school and erroneously thought that plenty of practice would turn me into a pianist; you know, the kind of person who could come into a party and sit down at the piano and play.  It just wasn’t to be!  My playing was just too slow and too labored.  I’m certain Mike closed his ears when I sat down to practice.

To Be Continued.

And remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a main-dish salad for dinner.  And I have the perfect recipe for your consideration, ham and pineapple pasta salad.  It is simple to prepare and can be made ahead of time.  This salad contains 8 one-cup servings, enough for the whole family and maybe some leftovers.

Ham and Pineapple Pasta Salad

2-1/2 cups uncooked mostaccioli pasta

8 oz. cream cheese, softened

20 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained, reserving liquid

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 cups cubed ham

1 cup celery

16 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

Sliced almonds, if desired

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse with cold water.  In large bowl, beat cream cheese, reserved pineapple liquid, sugar and salt until smooth.  Stir in cooked pasta, ham, celery and mandarin oranges.  Refrigerate 2-3 hours before serving.  Garnish with sliced almonds.  Makes 8 one-cup servings.

This recipe came from a Pillsbury cookbook; but I don’t know which one.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Since I try to offer motherly advice to my readers, I would be remiss if the problem of bed bugs wasn’t discussed, especially since we are entering vacation season.  Kitty Bean Yancey of USA Today wrote a very informative article concerning these loathsome insects.  A lot of her information came from “The Bed Bug Survival Guide” by Jeff Eisenberg.  I’m going to quote her article directly because I think this info will be very helpful to you.

“Bedbugs are once again an epidemic…They can live up to 18 months without a meal and can lie dormant until they do damage.”

Eisenberg says bedbugs “can lay eggs in the zipper of your briefcase and fit into a crack the width of a business card”.

“Here are some of Eisenberg’s tips for avoiding the critters, who are harder to eliminate since the powerful chemical DDT was prohibited.

Having dinner out?  Put your handbag on your lap instead of on the back of the chair or, worse, at your feet.

On a plane?  Decline a pillow and blanket.  And take a carry-on stored in the overhead bin rather than checking a bag that goes in the luggage compartment.

Checking into a hotel?  Put your bag in the bathroom, where critters are less apt to crawl (they like wood and upholstery).  Don’t use hotel drawers, and keep clothing in sealed plastic bags.

Don’t be fooled by luxury.  You are just as likely to be bitten at a five-star hotel as you are at a place that rents rooms by the hour.

Men are less likely than women to show evidence of being bitten (or more correctly, sucked) by bed bugs.  Also bed bugs inject an anesthetic, so it can take many hours for a bite to show, which makes it harder to know where you got one.

Use a high-powered flashlight to examine both sides of a mattress, plus the headboard and box springs, for blood and fecal matter that would indicate the presence of bed bugs.”

I hope this info doesn’t keep you from taking a vacation; just be sure to be very vigilant.  In this case, an ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure!

Keep smilin’!

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