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Archive for August, 2013

Kindred Spirits

Once a treasure hunter, always a treasure hunter, I always say. HE will have a different opinion, often saying “What kind of junk did you bring home THIS time?”   Collectors are kindred spirits. We have been known to drive down rutted country roads in the rain to be the early birds at estate sales.  We stop at thrift shops and junk stores, and even at piles of stuff on the side of the road if they look interesting enough.  We are the original American Pickers. I have always liked ephemera, which is another word for paper collectibles, and have a collection of sheet music which includes songs from the Civil War, the Lusitania, the Titanic, and Amelia Earhart. I also collect everyday glassware from the 1940’s and 1950’s such as Fire King, but I believe in using it instead of just dusting it. If something occasionally breaks, I am sad, but it just give me something else to hunt for.  I met a kindred spirit at our church’s annual sale, when I almost snatched a small little dish out of her hand.  Not really, because I think as a member of our church council, it would have been frowned upon for me to break a commandment so blatantly.  I don’t know how I missed this sweet little dish, but she saw it first. We thought perhaps it had come from a cafeteria and would be used to hold a tea bag or something. I wanted that little dish badly. I held it. I caressed it. I handed it back, secretly hoping that she would change her mind.  *Sigh* It would have made a great spoon rest on my stove.  Today, three months later, I was wandering around the Annual Tractor Show and Flea Market and saw an identical dish. This time, I grabbed it quickly, only to  look up and find my kindred spirit from the church sale with a big grin on her face.  She was selling the little dish, as it didn’t quite fit where she had thought it would. She had done her research and found out that it was from an ice cream shop in Wisconsin, and was the perfect size for a single scoop. That was back in the day, though. These days, our scoops as well as our booties are a lot larger. I love knowing the history of an item and repurposing it for something else. Although HE may beg to differ, I am trying not to fill our little house with too much “stuff”.  One tiny little perfect dish that was meant to be mine surely won’t make a difference,  will it?   I like to think that somehow and someday, some things end up just where they are supposed to be.

kaaps

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Insomnia

I put a piece of paper under my pillow, and when I could not sleep I wrote in the dark. ~Henry David Thoreau

I don’t have insomnia.  I just can’t sleep.  It has been said that many of the really successful people in the world get by on less sleep than most.  I’m sure JFK didn’t have hot flashes to wake him up, and although the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Meyer,  reportedly sleeps only four to six hours a night, she takes a week-long vacation every few months to recharge her batteries. I would doubt it very much if Donald Trump shares his bed with a restless Chihuahua who prefers to sleep under the covers. Both Kelly Ripa and Martha Stewart also sleep about four hours a night.  These highly successful people probably hop out of bed and cheerfully began their very productive day instead of grumpily stumbling around until the second cup of coffee is poured, except for JFK, who is dead, and Martha, who probably roasts and grinds her own coffee beans at 3 A.M.  One thing I DON’T have in common with these folks (except for the obvious large bank account) is that they probably all have help with the household chores.  Do you really think that Martha Stewart really weeds those acres of gardens or cleans out her own chicken coop? Do you believe that Kelly really cooks, cleans and does laundry for her family of five and still be able to look as good as she does?  Can you picture The Donald with his sleeves rolled up and his hands in a sinkful of dirty dishes?  Nope, nope, and NOPE!  Since I have  lying awake coming to my own scientific conclusions and contemplating the true meaning of life, (Along with wondering what the HECK I was going to write about this week) I have decided that the truly successful people in the world get that way because they are not spending their time cleaning their bathrooms or mopping their kitchen floors.  If I were not shoveling out the chicken coop, I, too, could have my own Farm Woman Empire.  Just think…..television, internet sales, speaking engagements, fame and fortune!  Whew! It makes me tired just thinking about it.  Instead, I think that I’ll just crawl back under the covers and go back to sleep for a couple of hours.

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These lovely silky eggy dumplings are a family favorite and go great in soups, chicken and dumplings, or  beef stew. They are made like a classic patachou, or cream puff dough. This recipe makes a large batch and can easily be cut in half, using two eggs.

1 cup water          1/2 cup butter          1 tsp. salt          1 cup white flour

3 eggs

Optional additions:

Coarsely ground black pepper, snipped chives, dried parsley, or nutmeg.

Add butter to salt and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Add flour all at once and stir immediately until the mixture does not stick to the pan and becomes a smooth paste. Remove from heat. Let cool for three minutes or so. Add eggs, one at a time, beating with wooden spoon until each egg is incorporated into the mixture. You may use an electric mixer for this part, but all it takes is a few minutes and a little elbow grease. Using two spoons, drop dough in pieces about the size of a walnut into boiling soup or stew. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Do not uncover until the time is up.   They will rise high and then shrink down. Don’t worry, this is exactly what to expect.

dumplings

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A few weeks ago, HE came home with a present. Since we have been married for thirty-hundred years, my heart did not start the pitter-patter of excitement that so many of you may have when your beloved showers you with tokens of his everlasting love. I knew it would not be jewelry or Belgian chocolate, so I was really not surprised at all  that my “gift” was a ceiling fan duster.  Long, long ago, and in another life, I had a cleaning lady. Every other week, I would come home to a sweet-smelling, spotlessly clean home with the vacuum cleaner marks all going the same way on the carpet.  One sad day after she left a note asking for extra money to dust the ceiling fans, HE decided with his darned old practical self that we had other more important things to spend our money on like college educations and house payments. “We’ll all pitch in and help with the cleaning!” he said.  Right.  I need a Hazel.  I need to have someone, even a snoopy someone like Hazel, to cook and clean while I flit off to Garden Club meetings like Mrs. Baxter often did.  Mike and Carol’s Alice was just like a member of their family, and after raising six bratty Brady Bunchers, would probably not even blink an eye at chicken manure being tracked into the house.  Hop-Sing kept things running smoothly at Ben Cartwright’s ranch.  They never revealed this on TV, but can you imagine the dirty stinky laundry there was to do in that house full of sweaty men?  I don’t have as much money as George and Louise Jefferson, so I probably couldn’t pay Florence quite what she was earning, but she could have a nice room in the country with hollyhocks right outside her window, and wouldn’t have to put up with George’s mouth. The same goes for Richie Rich’s Cadbury, and I’m sure he would love to be able to wear jeans instead of that penguin suit he has to wear night and day at the Rich mansion.  Maxwell Sheffield’s sarcastic lip-curling Niles cleaned, cooked, and snooped and would probably do just fine here until I brought in yet another huge head of cabbage from the garden and asked him to come up with something new and interesting for dinner.  I wondered if Batman’s Alfred would find it boring here in the quiet north woods, but he is pretty old anyhow and is probably looking forward to retirement. I would be willing to offer him some part-time work to supplement his Social Security.  I thought about perhaps offering a job to Mr. Belvedere, Mrs. Garrett, or Benson, but I’m not sure how they would feel about shoveling snow off the front porch from November until April. I really think the best person for the job would be Lurch.  Lurch is by far the perfect choice.  Not only would he scare away the bears, coyotes, and wolves, he is tall enough to dust the ceiling fans.

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