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Archive for August, 2011

Dear Readers,

I couldn’t let August pass without recalling memories of Mom’s birthday and buying presents for her.

It was August, 1960 – Mom would celebrate her 48th birthday on the 22nd of the month.  That summer I was a 14 year old working my first job at St. Anthony’s Hospital.  My job description was tray girl in the pediatric wing.  My duties were to deliver and retrieve meals from the patients and then transport the dining utensils to a central dishwashing room in the basement of the hospital.  My salary amounted to $9 a week and for a 14 year old girl, I suddenly felt rich.  This would be the first August I could buy Mom a really special and luxurious gift.  And I knew just what I wanted – an expensive nightgown.

On a shopping trip downtown, a frilly pink gown adored with delicate ribbons was selected.  It was pricey – $5.  But nothing was too good for my mother.  For an additional 50 cents, the piece of lingerie was gift-wrapped in shiny pale blue paper with a large pink ribbon bow attached.  My Mom was going to absolutely love this present!  After all, I loved it!

On her birthday, she unwrapped the gift, saving the paper and bow for another use, and declared it was beautiful but perhaps a little too special for everyday wear.  Mom carefully placed it in the drawer for use on any future hospital stays.  (This was probably the product of a frugal German upbringing.)

The following August I took a more practical route and chose a set of eight drinking glasses decorated with tiny pink flowers and cradled in an ornate metal glass holder.  She again remarked that they were beautiful and displayed them on a kitchen shelf.  They were off-limits for everyday meals.

From then on my gifts to her were of a much more practical nature.  I learned a great lesson.  I stopped buying gifts that made me happy and started giving gifts that made her happy!

Keep smilin’!

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Quick Corn and Zucchini Saute

Dear Readers,

This recipe makes use of all those good veggies available during the summer at the farmers’ market.  It’s colorful and healthy.  Each serving contains only 110 calories and 7 grams of fat.  I use olive oil instead of vegetable oil.  It came from the Pillsbury Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Cookbook published in 1983.

Quick Corn and Zucchini Saute

1 medium red pepper, cut into strips

1 medium green pepper, cut into strips

2 medium (3 cups) sliced zucchini

1/4 cup oil

4 large ears (2 cups) sweet corn kernels, cut from cobs

1 teaspoon garlic salt

1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning

In large skillet, saute pepper and zucchini in oil until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Add corn, garlic salt and Italian seasonings.  Cook until thoroughly heated.  Makes 6 to 8 (1/2 cup) servings.

Enjoy and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Here’s a tip I want to pass on to you from a column called “Top Drawer” written by Joyce Clark Hicks and appears in the Raleigh News and Observer.

“Cool Uses For Ice Cubes

The August edition of Real Simple magazine offers these cool new uses for ice cubes:

Soup skimmer.  To skim fat from soup without refrigerating it, fill a metal ladle with ice cubes and glide it along the surface a few times, wiping the ladle as needed.  Excess fat will cling to the ladle’s bottom.

Soil soaker.  Avoid messy spills by watering your plants with frozen water.  Cover the surface of soil with ice cubes.  They’ll gradually hydrate your plants as they melt.

Caulk smoother.  As you squeeze a new caulk line around the bathtub, run the corner of an ice cube behind it.  The ice will create a clean edge without sticking.

Disposal scrubber.  Run a handful of ice cubes and a pinch of baking soda through your garbage disposal.  You’ll get rid of the built-up grease on the blades and the smell of any leftovers.”

Hope you find these tips helpful and remember to

Keep smilin’!

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Orange Almond Salad

Dear Readers,

Here’s another cool summer salad that goes with any meal.  It is printed in the Pillsbury Cookbook of Family Favorites and is a family favorite.  Try it!

Orange Almond Salad

6-oz. can frozen orange juice concentrate

1 juice can water

3-oz. pkg. orange-flavored gelatin

7-oz. bottle lemon-lime carbonated beverage

11-oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

1/2 cup slivered almonds

Heat orange juice and water to boiling; stir in gelatin until dissolved.  Slowly add lemon-lime beverage; chill until thickened.  Fold in orange sections and almonds.  Pour into 4-cup mold.  Chill until firm.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Come on, ladies, we all know what “wardrobe anxiety” is.  It’s that fear in the pit of our stomachs the minute we open a wedding invitation.  Our initial thought is not about the bride and groom.  No, it’s about “What am I going to wear?”  Usually a trip to our closet or the mall for that certain party dress is all we need to alleviate this stress.  (Men wouldn’t understand this because all they need is a shirt, tie, suit and dress shoes and they’re good to go!)

But the most intense episode of “wardrobe anxiety” descends upon us at vacation time.  Let’s see, we have to pack for hot or cool weather.  We need comfortable walking shoes but we don’t want to look like a dork or a dreaded tourist in white sneakers.  And, oh yes, all our clothes have to fit into a carry-on suitcase so we can avoid the $25 baggage fee.

Enough already!  I want to banish “wardrobe anxiety” forever and here are two possible solutions.  (All you inventors and creators out there, listen up.)

My first concept is rental clothes for vacations.  Outfits could be chosen in advance from a catalog and selected according to the type of holiday; lots of swimsuits and cover-ups for the beach and ski pants and thermal underwear for the mountain slopes.  A user could experiment with a completely different wardrobe from the one they usually wear or stick to their customary manner of dress.  These rental duds would be delivered to your destination hotel room and hung in the closet ready for you to wear.  At the end of the holiday, simply deposit clothes in a laundry bag and proceed to the nearest airport without any burdensome suitcase.

Here’s another possible solution but this might take a few years of development to bring it to market:  disposable clothes.  And the company’s slogan could be “After you wear it, we tear it!”  All kidding aside, we do have disposable diapers and baby bibs.  Why not create stylish dresses, slacks and tops that are constructed of soft but sturdy paper and come in a variety of fashionable styles and hues.  These ensembles could also be waiting for us at our hotel or resort or could be mailed ahead.  They might be a little pricey but remember there’s no packing or unpacking and no laundry to do when you return.  The best part is no frantic searching for luggage on the carousel in the “baggage claim” area.

These ideas might seem far-fetched but I bet the day will come when rental and disposable paper clothes will be the norm.  Until then, I guess I’ll just have to suffer a few more bouts of vacation time “wardrobe anxiety”.

Keep smilin’!

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Dear readers,

This appetizer is great to serve at family get-togethers or church pot-luck meals.  It contains only 6 ingredients and it can be made in advance and served hot or chilled.  It was submitted by Mary Hannon and printed in the St. Louis Parish Women’s Guild cookbook entitled “Recipes and Remembrances”.  St. Louis is located in Cathedral City, CA and is the church we attend when we are in Palm Desert.

Green Chile Souffle (Mexican Quiche)

4 eggs

3 cups milk

1 cup Bisquick

1 lb. cheddar cheese, grated

1 lb. Jack cheese, grated

2-3 (4 oz.) cans diced chiles, undrained

Beat eggs; add milk, Bisquick.  Mix well.  Add grated cheeses and chilies.  Mix all together.  Pour into 9 x 13-inch pan sprayed lightly with Pam.  Bake 1 hour at 325 degrees.  May be served hot or chilled, cutting into 2-inch squares.  When using 1/2 recipe, bake in 8 x 8-inch pan at 325 for 1 hour.

Enjoy and

Keep smilin’!

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Dear Readers,

Have you ever noticed the photo of the Campbell Kids at the top of my blog and wondered if there’s a story attached?  Well, there is.

But first here’s the history behind those cute kids.  They were created in the 1930’s by illustrator, Grace Drayton, as part of a marketing campaign for the Campbell Soup Co.  Campbell’s of Camden, NJ was founded in l869 and by the 1950’s their canned soups,  including tomato, was a familiar staple in many family pantries.  I can’t tell you how many Friday nights my Mom served grilled cheese sandwiches with Campbell’s tomato soup.  (She tried Heinz’s soup once or twice but it just wasn’t as flavorful.)

It was on one of these soup cans that my nine year old eyes spied an offer for a set of Campbell Kids salt and pepper shakers.  I was determined to purchase a pair for my mother.  It seemed pretty simple.  All I had to do was mail in three Campbell soup labels and 50 cents (2 quarters scotch-taped to the order blank) along with my name and address.  The offer said it would take 6 weeks for processing.  I waited patiently for the box to arrive; after all, 6 weeks seemed like an eternity to me.  Some days I would check the mail box two or three times.  When they finally arrived, I was so proud to be able to present them to my mother; even if they were plastic and not as big as I had imagined.  Mom proudly put them on display on a small kitchen shelf.  She didn’t have the heart to tell me they were difficult to fill and not very practical for everyday use.

When I got married, Mom gave the shakers to me and they were displayed in a place of honor on my kitchen counter.  They traveled with me from an apartment in Kentucky to three different homes in Pennsylvania and now finally to a downtown condo in Raleigh, NC.  Those kids stand right next to my stove and are a constant reminder of the happy times spent in my childhood kitchen on Breckinridge St.

The website of L & J Antiques & Collectibles Mall lists the Campbell Soup Kids Salt and Pepper Shakers for $80.00.  It’s quite a bit more than the original price of 50 cents.  But guess what – I wouldn’t sell my set for any price!  They hold too many precious memories for me.

Keep smilin’!

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