Saturday, September 28, 2019

A Very Brady Renovation: 70s design

By Elizabeth Prata

A very Brady Renovation is a new show on HGTV. Apparently the home in Los Angeles used for exterior shots-only for the 5-season TV show went on sale for the first time in 45 years. Amazingly, there was a great deal of intense interest in the home, and a huge bidding war ensued. HGTV got it.

The Brady Bunch TV show is celebrating its 50th year since its debut season in 1969. Can you believe it? I can't. I was 8 1/2 when the show first aired, and it's weird to think I can remember things that happened half a century ago.

I liked the show well enough, as a child it captured my interest because of the storylines involving issues of interest to kids: sibling rivalry, character building, and responsibility within the family.

When HGTV heard "The Brady House" was for sale, they decided to buy the home and renovate it. The interior we all saw on TV was simply a set that a set designer dreamed up, and bears no resemblance to the actual home's insides. The set was a two story home, with the famous floating staircase joining the lower and upper floor. The actual home has no second story! So the HGTV folks had to build one. Further, the home isn't large, not for all the rooms that the Brady set designer dreamed up, so HGTV constructed an addition in the back (so as to keep the front exterior aspect the same.)

The episodes I've seen so far focus on scrounging, making, or crowd-sourcing exact replicas of everything in the home, down to the glass cluster of grapes on the living room coffee table and the fluffy giraffe in the girls' room. In that way, they focus some on design of the era.

Now. The design. Sigh.

I'm not a fan of 70s design. I much more enjoy seeing the sleek, linear, and symmetrical lines of mid-century modern. That era extended from 1933 to 1965, though some say the design height of that period was confined to 1947 to 1957.

The clunky, chunky 70s design era was filled with barrel shaped end tables, lots of paneling, heavy stonework (usually on chimneys), and gasp! avocado and burnt orange kitchens. I wonder who thought up the avocado trend...

My first home was a raised ranch with a modern contemporary design inside, sprinkled with a few antiques. The antiques I had were sleeker with no fru-fru scrollwork, so they fit in with the modern design. Then when I got married we lived in a 'camp'. This was a seasonal cabin or small home n a lake. It's what we called these seasonal homes in Maine. We winterized it and moved in.

The cabin was built in 1953. When I moved in during the late 1990s the interior still sported the original kitchen clock, the propane, rounded top fridge, knotty pine paneling on the walls (which didn't make the room dark because the three walls facing the lake sported bay windows) and the overstuffed puffy couch with huge pattern. We even had a 1950s Electrolux vacuum, lol. It weighed a ton.

I liked the 1950s style. The style I'm living in now is kind of an eclectic Boho. A mishmash that kind of works. Mainly because this furniture is what I've ended up with or been given, so that's what I have, lol.

I lived through the 70s and I wasn't a fan of the design then and I'm not now. But it's nostalgic for me and I'll tell you why.

When I was born me and my parents lived in an apartment above the family business in the city of Providence. My parents' goal was to buy a home in the suburbs. They found a 100 year old Cape Cod-style farmhouse (1860s) in a nice town and 4 acres came with it. Perfect. Also a chicken barn in the back. The farmhouse was typical of the 1800s construction, small, lots of smaller rooms, a fireplace in each room, and an add-on of a kitchen in the back that was so small only 1 person could work in there at a time. Upstairs was two large bedrooms rooms with sharply sloping ceilings typical of the Cape Cod style, a bathroom and a small closet that was turned into a nursery when my sister came along.

It was fine for a while, with a small child and a baby (my brother that came soon after). However when I was 10 years old they decided to renovate the chicken barn out back, move into it, and rent the house. This was in about 1970.

The chicken barn was 90 feet long. My father designed the home to his aesthetic which meant the living room and dining area comprised the main part of the home, and was all open. The room was about 50 feet long. Red brick adorned the back wall, and along the two sides were sliding glass doors and huge windows. The ceiling was rustic, rough-hewn cedar beams along cathedral ceilings. The ceiling hung with black wrought iron chandeliers with light bulbs that looked like candles. There was a five foot wide fireplace with concrete floating hearth, and massive stones lining the chimney up to the chalet-like ceiling. Since the room was so big the massive concrete and stone fireplace didn't overwhelm the room.

Red shag carpeting. An octagonal dinging table with swivel barrel chairs. A galley bar with high barrel stools matching the dining table. It looked like a ski lodge and was dark, despite the windows all along the side.

I liked the openness of the plan and I love the cedar, stone, and brick. I do like natural materials. I even loved the concrete hearth. I wish I had polished concrete floors or a concrete kitchen counter. I like the look of polished concrete.

Anyway, "The Barn" (what we called our home forever after)  was a unique design but was totally unworkable for a family. There was no tub. The kitchen had a stove and fridge but no sink, the only sink was in the galley kitchen-bar. And it was small. It's also where the dishwasher was. Not enough bedrooms for the sisters and brother, the brother slept in the attic (which he loved). But he had to go through the sisters' room to get to the attic ladder, which they hated. A Jack-and-Jill bathroom connecting the living room and the sisters' bedroom. Awkward. Dark, heavy, very male design which the wife disliked. She always said it was like living in a chalet. It was really suitable for a bachelor and indeed that is who my father sold the home to 40 years later.

Anyway, as I watch the Brady House renovation and they design the stone walls inside the home and add the paneling and the brick, install shag rugs, and place barrel-shaped end tables adorned with clunky lamps, it is all very familiar to me because I lived in that aesthetic from age 10 to 14. Also included in the 70s aesthetic were bold prints of flowers in bright colors, yellow (The Brady House has yellow tile backsplash in the bathroom), macrame plant holders (Macrame is just a dust catcher to me), rattan, and disco-glitz.

If I was forced to choose a 70s design it would me Mary Tyler Moore's apartment, with the gold velour couch, stained glass kitchen over hang, beige shag rug, and cream tulip table with rattan chair by the sliding glass doors.

The renovation show does bring back a lot of memories, both of my own life in living that design era and the Brady Bunch show itself. Can you believe The Brady Bunch is 50 years old? The lead actors who played the mom and dad (Florence Henderson and Robert Reed) have passed away. The maid, Ann B. Davis, has also passed on. But all 6 actors who played the kids are alive and all 6 participated in the reno show.

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, nostalgia has become a big business. The ratings for A Very Brady Renovation are through the roof. As an aging Boomer, I know I'm interested. Apparently there will be a Christmas Special, too. LOL. Now, if only the actual design of the era was palatable, we'd be all set.

More on 70s design:

This Decade Is Slowly Taking the Design World by Storm

American Style Through the Decades: The Seventies

Seventies design trends and ideas

Sunday, September 22, 2019

All the prep

By Elizabeth Prata

Things are so much easier when it's cool out. Happy Fall.

I had energy this morning and decided to do all the prep at once. Here's what I did and why.

Broccaflower: was on the mark down shelf for 99 cents. The stem was a bit iffy and a couple of the points had dark spots. I just shave them off and cut the stem away. Voila, a $4 veg for 99-cents.

Chicken: also on markdown. Kroger has roasted chicken they pick and package I hate picking chicken, or even handling meat. It's a texture and gross-out thing. So when they mark down the clean chicken I'm all in. I just dump the chicken into the pot of sauteing veggies and I'm done.

Quinoa: Whenever I cook something I make extra. It saves time and electricity. I put some of the cooked quinoa in the soup. Although it's a grain (actually a seed) that packs a protein punch, it also packs a carb punch. Don't overdo. I saved aside the rest of the quinoa to have as morning cereal with fruit.

Greens: I can't resist a deal can I? The greens in the tub are chard, spinach, mizuna, and kale. It's a lot. But then again, if you cook them, they saute down to nothing. I ate some in salads, but then after a few days I needed to cook them before they went over. So I did, with on-sale mushrooms, salt, and a bit of lemon. I can add a scrambled egg to it, add some to the soup, or just have as a side dish at dinner.

Ocean Perch: This was a gamble. It was marked down (of course). No other fish available at the time I shopped was marked down. Shrimp and salmon are so expensive to buy not on sale, and the Kroger prepared crabcakes and stuffed scallops have bread crumbs in them. I'm not much of a fan of any other seafood So when the perch presented itself, several clean white looking fillets, I said what the hey, I'll try.

I dredged them in egg and gluten free flour and baked them alongside the broccaflower. They came out looking terrible. I almost threw them out. But then I tried a nibble on the end of one of the small filets. YUM. It is a delicate and tasty fish.

Carrots and Celery: I get home from school having carefully consumed my wonderful breakfasts, snacks, and lunch and I want to eat every carb in sight. Popcorn! Crackers! Peanut butter toast! Anything! Anything! So...I cut up celery and carrots to snack on. It will fill me up more and I do like the crunch.

Strawberries: On sale for $1.77. So I bought 2. I washed and cut them up for the week. I like to just dump some in my tupperware and go in the morning. I don't like preparing anything in the AM before work. Same for the Mandarin oranges. They are easy to peel but I still don't enjoy peeling. I peeled a few and along with the remainder of last week's grapes and this week's strawberries, made a fruit salad. I'll eat this first, because the grapes are the oldest fruit in the fridge.

Snacks at school: I caved in and got an Amazon Subscribe and Save Pantry. I'll have delivered each month, this 24-pack of nuts. I need to much on some proteins during the day because it's along time since breakfast at 6 am and lunch at noon. I can't have cheese sticks any more because of the lactose. I can't have boiled eggs any more (don't ask), I can have some fruits but they're limited due to FODMAP issues and not portable, meaning, I need to sit down and eat them with a spoon or fork, not always feasible in school. So, what snack? Nuts. They end up being about 31 cents per snack. 24 means one per day for the school month.

Planters Variety Pack 24 ct, Salted Peanuts, Honey Roasted Peanuts & Salted Cashews Ready-to-Go Sleeves, Multi-Pack Box

So, proteins: perch, eggs, chicken soup, tofu (since it keeps the longest it's on standby), quinoa, deli turkey.

Lunches: soup and turkey sandwiches on gluten free bread. I do put together the sandwich each morning, otherwise they get soggy. You do need a moisture barrier and the ingredients in the proper order. Also, soup.

Sides: broccaflower, greens

Dessert/Snacks: nuts, carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, fruit. Also lactose free vanilla ice cream.

Healthy eating takes a lot of work and preparation. Also money, ergo my attention to sales. With my gluten, lactose, and Fodmap issues I need to ensure I do it right. If not, I'll get sick, and that is no fun!

Have a great week everyone. What's in your fridge this week?

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Happy Saturday

By Elizabeth Prata

I'm ruled by my ears. I seek atmospheres with soft sounds, calming and lovely. I enjoy good music, breezes ruffling trees, birdsong, harps, purring kittens,church bells, and so on. I dislike whistling teapots, ambulance sirens, orchestra tune-ups, screeching women, squealing tires, fire alarms, and much more

Sound is alive and almost physical to me. It roars or grates or envelops and my body reacts. The reaction stays in me for a long time, unless if it a bad sound I'm attempting to rid myself of, I can quickly seek and find a more pleasant sound to overwrite in my ears. I can't stand voices with strange cadence or temp, nasal, a grating accent, or in any other way, grating Martyn Lloyd Jones has a nasal tone but due to the lower quality of the ancient recording device that captured it, I can listen because it sort of evens out. I enjoy John MacArthur's voice, whose tone I consider perfect, because it has no tics, vocal oddities, weird tempo, or anything else to distract from the words I seek to hear. In fact, the voice is comforting and fades into the background as the eternal words come to the forefront. By contrast, Todd Friel's shtick on Wretched Radio is so painful if I do listen on video I put it on mute and turn on closed captions. It's no wonder my word for the school's Vocabulary Parade was mellifluous.

It's the time of year between high seasons, where summer heat that we strive to keep out lessens and the windows can come up and allow in the fresh cooler fall air. As a result, I enjoy the night birds, breezes shaking the leaves, faraway train, distant car traffic, and even the silence as I awaken in the wee hours to enjoy all these sounds. I love that.

On my walk around the yard in the dawn I captured these lovely scenes:

For my food prep this week I'll have

Dinners and lunches:

Lentil salad with cherry tomatoes - lunch
Chicken soup with veggies and quinoa - lunch

Pan fried ocean perch

Refried beans with cherry tomatoes and cheese atop crispy tortillas

Tofu with green beans and peanuts and teriyaki sauce

Veggie sides and Snacks

Mandarin oranges, strawberries, grapes



I finally caved in and subscribed to Amazon's pantry. I eat some nuts and/or a slice of turkey in mid-morning for a fiber/protein snack. The subscribe & save item I bought will be delivered monthly containing 24 packs of one-serving packages of nuts. I wish I could add cheese to the snack rotation but the lactose is bothersome. Since I'll be eating nuts so often I decided it was worth the $7.50/month for the 24 snacks. It comes out to 32 cents per snack. Pretty good.

Most of the above were on sale at Kroger. The cherry tomatoes were a 99-cents item due to one of the small tomatoes in the pint being moldy. The broccaflower was also in pretty good shape but had one tiny bad spot so it also was marked down to 99 cents. Zucchini was on regular sale, 99 cents per pound as well as the green beans being the same. With having to buy gluten free break and lactose free milk which are expensive, I try to make it up with on-sale veggie and fruit items. Speaking of, the mandarins were also on sale, as were the strawberries. Sale, sale, sale...where would we be without sales.

I got up at 5 am today, excited by the prospect of a day without wilting in the heat, and enjoying the fresh air pouring in. Isn't it cozy to just snuggle under the covers for a while and then get up all refreshed? A day full of limitless possibilities? I have some work to do in the garage that I'm not looking forward to, but I'm putting that off for now, and just enjoying the day as it presents itself to me.

You all have a nice Saturday, too.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Lactose free, flour free, milk-based soup isn't as good as it sounds

By Elizabeth Prata

This busy school year it kickin' my behind. But I have also been tempted to grumble, and had to repent of that several times. So, a learning test. Always good.

I had a bunch of mushrooms about to go over, so I cooked them down and decided to make, what else, a soup. It was going to be a cream of mushroom soup, white, thick, creamy...yum. Except I've never gotten the knack of making any milk-based soup, nor a roux. Also I can't have dairy or flour, therefore, making a milk-based soup thickened with flour was going to be rough. But ahead I persevered.

I had lactose free milk and non-flour flour. I had the chicken broth and the mushrooms. I had the time. I only lacked the skill, but hey, I had most of the ingredients, right? When the mushrooms cooked down I added the non-flour and made sure they were all coated. I added the milk and brought it to a boil, waiting for it to thicken. This is about when it doesn't thicken and the whole soup turns gray. True to form, it did this time also. But ahead I persevered.

I tasted the gray and unappealing soup. It did not taste all that great. So, success! I'm consistent.

My books I'd bought on half-off sale came in the mail today, and I'm so excited. I also re-started John MacArthur's The Vanishing Conscience. Why are there so many books? I'd gotten interested in studying the theology of the conscience, sparked by a pastor friend's Facebook post on the subject. I had also started the book The Hard Way about a small town newspaper editor that grew a failing paper he bought and eventually won awards. So many books, so little time...

I got up early (5:00 am) and worked on Bible study and reading, my photos and some blogging until noon, then made the soup, and watched a movie: Keep the Change on Amazon Prime.

Keep the Change is a first, I believe, having actors with autism play people with autism as the main characters. David is 30, living with his wealthy (but bigoted) parents in NYC and at a Jewish Community Center meets 24-year-old buoyant Sarah, living with her alcoholic grandmother. Their romance blossoms, in typical autistic way which mirrors neuro-typical folks: their relationship has its quirks, ups and downs, compassion, anger, irritation, big fun, and all the rest.

Here is a review I enjoyed. The film is rated 16+, contains some f-words (in one scene David got angry) and one sex scene which I don't know how involved it got because I skipped it. The film is a rare and compassionately honest look at adults with autism.

Food prep this week will be bay scallops with greens, (dinner), stuffed crab with greens, (dinner), mushroom soup, and probably the lentil soup again as I made last week but this time with red lentils, (lunches). Also brown lentil salad with a huge bag of cherry tomatoes I scored at Kroger for 99 cents. Fruit will be strawberries, blueberries, peaches, and grapes.

Some photos of the walk down the driveway and up the road this humid, stormy morning.

Have a good week ahead everyone.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Never Forget

I lived through this. I remember, vividly. Even if you didn't live through it or were too young, never forget America was cravenly attacked. Many people lost their lives that day in a terrible, long, horror.

Worse, some who died who were outside Christ met their Maker, and it wasn't a friendly encounter.

The men who perpetrated this heinous act are the mission field.

Never forget the attack. But always remember the ultimate goal of our lives is to witness of Christ to the saving of their souls. Share the Gospel with your neighbor, with a Muslim, with all who you encounter. This day might be their last.

Monday, September 09, 2019

Simple cooking and smashed avocado toast

By Elizabeth Prata

My parents had money and I grew up with some of the finer things of life. One thing that was popular starting in 1963 was Julia Child's new cooking show. She was personable, relatable, cheerful, and brought explanatory French cooking and other styles to the housewife in Peoria (or East Greenwich). My mother loved to cook and was a good cook. She experimented with new recipes on us kids. We also ate out at restaurants a lot and we were encouraged to get whatever we wanted on the menu. Growing up I tasted dishes like or had suppers like Lobster Thermador, Japanese cuisine, frog's legs, caviar, Baked Alaska, gourmet cheeses, and the like. I was so grateful for the expanded palate my parents allowed me to develop and the interest in world cuisine I"d gained.

What I've been enjoying here in Georgia is learning about simple food, hearty food, and different food, than I have previously been used to. Yes, the South has a cuisine all its own! Plain, hearty farm cooking is also terrific.

There are two older ladies who had or have cooking shows on Youtube or Facebook I want to introduce you to. Clara Cannucciari, a dear lady at the time who was near 90, and who has passed on now, became an internet sensation 12 years ago with her grandson's productions of her Depression Cooking channel. She shows how to prepare dishes they ate during the Depression while telling stories of what the times were like. She was charming and her stories were simple, like her cooking, but powerful in the starkness of her first-hand retrospective.

Joyce Woods of Momma's Easy Country Cooking on Youtube does the same as Clara with her Depression cooking- show how to make simple, down home Georgia dishes popular with families. She's also an older lady and tells her local history of the dishes as she's creating them.

Simple, ya'll. I like both kinds of cooking - the fancy French cuisine Julia introduced to us, and the simple but hearty foods from Clara and Joyce. Check them out!

Momma's Easy Country Cooking Channel

I had never heard of pear salad until attended my first Southern Baptist Covered Dish supper, but this simple salad is so yummy!

Momma's Easy Pear Salad

Clara Cannucciari Depression Cooking-

Here is my breakfast of late. I had oatmeal every weekday morning last school year, then changed to Groats every day during the summer, but I think my body got tired of the grain-type of breakfast. I switched to an egg and that seems to be tiding me over better until lunch. I think having an egg on toast or even a sandwich is a bit heavy so I am trying an alternative. Smashed Avocado Toast, except the avocado isn't smashed and I don't have any toast. Now, hang with me here.

I mentioned before that I like Charra's Tostadas. They are 6-inch, no fat, low carb baked tostada shell. For a snack, I enjoy a couple of them with tomato and cheese and a bit of hot sauce, broiled, making two large nacho chips. Well of late I've been trying them with a scrambled egg on top! Super! This morning I was too lazy to even scramble the egg and instead I fried it on my griddle. I had an avocado about to go overripe so I halved it and then decided I wanted "Smashed Avocado Toast- with Egg." But I don't have toast, just the chip. If I smashed it, I'd smash the chip. So let's call this recipe "Gently Cubed Avocado on Tostada- With Egg."

I fried an egg and cut it in half. Voila, here is one of the two chips I ate for breakfast:

As Julia would say, bon app├ętit!

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Food Prep 9/9-13, plus, cool vintage item found

By Elizabeth Prata

I just saw the National Weather Service come out with a warning for predicted high heat over the next week. Highs will be in the upper 90s, reaching 100 in some areas. I feel deflated by this. By this time of year I've really run out of patience with the sticky humid heat and I am longing for the expected break that used to come by mid-September but now is often delayed into October.

Oh well, it will eventually break and when it does I will probably be one of the happiest people in the county. This Yankee has never gotten used to the heat or the humidity!

I went to my favorite Vintage Store on Friday to find some necklaces for two friends whom were thrown a birthday brunch event to celebrate their birthdays. They are young moms, both minister's wives, so I wanted to get something feminine and not related to their kids, lol. I knew the store would have a LOT to choose from, and they sure did. The lady there helped me pick out some necklaces that were more on trend for the younger ladies than the ole fuddy duddies like me.

While I was poring over the jewelry counter I saw a double clip thingie. I learned that it was a vintage sweater clip. In the 1950's the ladies used to wear a cardigan draped over their shoulders and the clip would prevent it from sliding off. That doesn't sound appealing to me. I mean, wearing a sweater meant to have your arms in the sleeves but wear it precariously over the shoulders instead, requiring an unnecessary accessory to prevent the sweater from doing what it naturally wants to do and likely sliding off anyway and making the clip a choking chain around your neck. Phew.

What does sound appealing is using the clip for a cardigan and another light jacket I have that has no buttons or zipper and needs a clip to keep it closed. Ever practical, I used an office binder clip at school the first time I wore my jacket and it kept sliding open. Of course, a vintage clip that's prettier and actually designed for that purpose will suffice all the more. Here it is:

Jennifer Hayslip  gives a short history of these clips in her post about Vintage Glamour and Sweater Guards
Sweater guards are a fashion relic! They were introduced in the 50’s as an accessory to help “hold” and secure cardigans on a ladies shoulders. Whether wearing a cardigan or a caplet these little chain accessories became all the rave!
They are also called sweater clips or cardigan clips.

At only $4 I consider it a treat to have acquired such a classic and classy vintage item and also to have learned about a fashion rage of the 1950s!

Food this week will be:

Dinners: spinach salad, green salad, and salmon. I bought two filets on markdown, which will become four dinners. I also bought a salmon burger. Kroger makes them and they are so large I halve it and reshape into the burger circle, so that will be two more helpings of salmon. I might change one of the filets into a salmon salad to eat with crackers. Good thing I like salmon! Rounding out the dinners will be green beans for the veg and an occasional 1/2 potato.

Lunches will be lentil & chickpea soup. I'll use this recipe. I will use up the 1/4 cup of red lentils I have left and will fill in the rest with the brown lentils I have on hand. "Use what you have." No need to run to the store to buy more red lentils (even though I prefer them and enjoy them in soups more). If I have stuff on hand, I use that first. #FrugalCook. I actually have all the ingredients the recipe calls for (except smoked paprika. Come on, I'm a normal person. I'll use black pepper instead!) I also don't have a chili pepper but I do have sriracha sauce so that will bring the heat.

Fruit this week will be strawberries. They were on sale. What can I say?

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, September 02, 2019

Food Prep: September 2-6- more eggplants

By Elizabeth Prata

I needed this long weekend. I'll say it again, I neeeeeeeded this long weekend. I took two two-hour naps hallelujah. One on Saturday and one on Sunday.

The nights have been cool, down in the low 60s, so I turn off the AC and lift up the windows. I enjoy hearing the night birds and feeling the cool, if still damp, air. The cat likes it too. He puts his kitty nose against the screen and sniffs and sniffs. I wonder what he smells out there.

Today, Labor Day Monday, I am making some food for the rest of the week. I already did 3 loads of laundry AND put them away. I'm so adulting right now.

Eggplant stew. Or hash? It's just a mix of eggplant and veggies I throw in there. This week I am still working off the plethora of garden eggplants kind friends have given me. I will make a stew of eggplant, green pepper, mushrooms, and tomatoes. I got shaved Pecorino Romano to go on top when I serve it.

Lentil salad. Brown lentils hold together pretty well and retain a bit of hardness so they will withstand themselves in salad with dressing. I'm adding green peppers and carrots. The recipe calls for a lot of other ingredients, but I don't have them, so oh, well. I never let the fact that I lack most of the ingredients in a recipe stop me from making it, or adapting it. The only time it really matters is in baking, because, chemistry. This i a high protein low carb salad, that will also be filling! I know that "salad" and "filling" don't usually go together, but when you make it from pluses or beans, it is.

Baked tofu. I marinated it in Teriyaki sauce and baked them sliced into slabs. I'll use them in a sandwich or just eat on the side for a protein. Hey, it's a cheap protein, what can I say?

Roasted broccoli. It was on sale and I love roasted broccoli. It's so yummy. I'll eat as is, mix in with scrambled egg, eat it cold in a salad with other stuff...its versatile.

Chicken. I bought Kroger's picked, roasted chicken, intending to make a soup. But even though I've had naps and rested, I'm tired. My sleep has been lengthy, but it hasn't been refreshing. I don't know exactly what I will wind up doing with it. Maybe chicken salad, or the soup after all, with quinoa, carrots, and mushrooms, probably.

Fruit. I bought blueberries this week. They were on sale Sales are my friend. I also bought mandarin oranges and strawberries. These will be snacks and desserts.

I started the book The Hard Way: The Odyssey of a Weekly Newspaper Editor by Alexander Bacon Brook. I am enjoying it. He is a good writer. Having been editor of a small town weekly myself, I understand a lot of his trials, and I am impressed with the way he captures the place of a weekly in small town citizenry and government.

I watched some Hurricane Dorian videos and tweets yesterday and the storm is terrifying. I was in Hurricane Beth as a child when vacationing on Cape Cod, a Category 1 that barely grazed Hyannis. I was also in 1991's Hurricane Bob, a category 2 that made landfall in Newport RI. I was in RI at the time. Those were frightening enough, but I can't imagine a Cat 5 storm, and this one is hovering for hours over the Bahamian Islands. God's strength is surely powerful.

I'll watch a movie later, something light on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Read some more. Then it will be back to the kids tomorrow.

Have a good week!

Look at how that little bud pops out that huge berry.

Sunday, September 01, 2019

From the "Use what you have" and "Thinking out side the box" Department

By Elizabeth Prata

If you have read my posts for very long you know that I collect teapots and teacups. I'm done now, having accumulated all that I feel I can actually use, store, & display in my small kitchen. I abhor clutter, so my collections never get very big, lol.

I now own 8 new-to-vintage-to-antique aged teapots, and 13 teacups (an awkward number for sure, but how can I dispense with one of my babies?)

For a number of years I have made do with the countertop shelving and display that I already had. That's rule number 1 in frugal living, make do. Don't run out and buy new things just because of what could be a temporary desire has crept in. What I had was not unattractive (if not the classiest thing on the block) and serviceable.

Finally I got tired of the clunky display. It drove me nuts enough so that I reached a tipping point. But I had a hard time finding a good display option. It was when I thought outside the box (the box in this case being "kitchen" and "teacup display") and searched for 'countertop bookcase' that I hit the jackpot. I found an adjustable shelving unit I could adjust to different sizes for each section. I do have large to small teapots so a one-size would not fit all. The boards are a smooth bamboo, but I had to put them together. It was a bit difficult at first but only took me an hour. 50 minutes to figure out the directions and then 8 minutes to put it together. I needed to backtrack a couple of minutes as I put 2 boards on backwards...but voila, it was finally done. Here it is:

Now, what to do about the teacups? They proved a more difficult item to figure out how to display, without clutter, in a small kitchen, with no more wall space. I loved the 4-cup display holder I'd hung on the wall, but I didn't have any more space on any kitchen wall to put 2 more of them to hold the other cups. What to do?

This is where thinking outside the box came in handy a second time. (I mention this again because I'm proud to think outside the box. I like boxed thinking. It's hard for me to get out of the box). Since none of the regular teacup displays would do, I looked for any hanging rack. I spotted one at the Dollar General store for $5.50. It holds 4 cups, but no saucers. The bottom tier is crooked which isn't ideal, but the fact that I could actually hang it myself without a drill and was inexpensive made me decide to go for it. The crooked display will take a long time for me to build up a grudge against so this will do for now. It's a shower caddy.

Well, that took care of 4 more cups, how about the other 5? If one shower caddy worked, how about another? I had one hanging in the ... guess where? Shower. I cleaned it off, noticed some rust, but oh well, and hung it up opposite the other new caddy. An S-hook helped with the 5th cup. Here it is:

I enjoy looking at them admiring the patterns and the well crafted china and the glow they make in the light that comes through the window sheers. I also like them to be accessible for when I want to have a pot of tea, which is every afternoon in fall, winter, and spring. The saucers are in the cupboard.

Since I installed the new shelving I put the old shelving in the cupboard to make two tiers and that's where the saucers are. As a bonus, I now have room to put my paper towels on the counter instead of underneath. No more bending and opening the cupboard door a hundred times a day to get one.

Now here is the story of the stick.

I found a stick in the yard. It was exactly the right thickness and the right height for when I walk around the yard and up and down the street. I especially loved the stick because it was my spiderweb buster. You would not believe the size of the spiders here in GA. They are huge. They make stringy, sticky webs all over the yard AND in front of my door building their crazed-dance inducing webs from the overhang to the railing. More than once I've opened my door and stepped out only to go face first into a web, and more than once had its owner drop down on my neck. That'll get ya going.

So I lean a stick by the front door and wave it furiously around, looking like a spastic ninja, but I do not care. At least I don't have a spider on my neck or a face full of webs. Spiders string webs all over the yard, so I wave my stick about wherever I go, every time.


One morning last week I saw a huge spider had built a web from the basketball hoop to the trash can I was trying to get to. I busted the web, and the spider fell to the ground. It was big. Scarily big. Since I was in my sandals with exposed foot, I used the stick instead to bring down my wrath upon it. Don't laugh! Some of these spiders bite and they jump. Unfortunately, my wrath proved too much for the stick, and it broke. The creature ran away unscathed, ready to foil me another day.

Now I had no stick. My perfect, years-long possession that saved me from webs, spiders, and was companion as I walked along (I lean on it when my arthritic knee hurts). What to do?


New stick. Not as short as the other one, but still a good stick. I do not mind looking weird as I wave it around in front of me outside and in the garage. Not at all. My neck is spider-free, and it's gonna stay that way.