A Moose Thanksgiving

I know I just wrote about Mom and her social whirl but I spoke to her yesterday and she had just attended the Thanksgiving event at her club, The Moose. This happens every year, the Thursday before the holiday. Everyone brings a dish and they all share a meal.

So, I said “Mom, how was it?” She said, “As always, a load of crappy food, but the ham was good and they gave you a big slice.” So there you go – no turkey but a nice big slice of ham. Mom took cranberry salad but only after I told her to make something. Her original idea was to buy a can of jellied sauce and put it in a glass bowl. Like that’s going to fool someone. So she made her salad – everyone liked it but she said the sweet potatoes were a weird brown color and the pumpkin pie was not cooked in the middle and that was crappy as well. And of course no REAL whipped cream. Mom better get used to that – in Cincinnati next week she will be having Cool Whip with her pie.

Speaking of Cincinnati, my family is gathering there next week including both the new grandbabies and their parents and Mom, too. Our dear friends have offered us their house on a lake and I have been going nuts trying to please everyone and organize everything – meals for 8 adults and 2 babies etc. etc. It’s almost like planning Adrienne’s wedding all over again.

Anyway, I am so stressed out I did something crazy today. I was in a dressing room in the mall and looked down and saw I was wearing TWO DIFFERENT SHOES!!! And one of them, the cheetah flat is part of a really old pair I only wear out to the mailbox or to sweep the porch (I don’t ever actually sweep the porch but I do wear them outside).

Have a wonderful thanksgiving, filled with cooked pies, a nice turkey and SHOES THAT MATCH. Blessings to all of you.


Mom's Social Whirl

I know I write about Mom a lot, but that is because she is such a funny character. I talk to Mom on the phone every other day and she ALWAYS has news for me. It is so true, since she is one of the busiest 85 year olds ever.

Here is her schedule for the last week:

Sunday - First Mom reads three Sunday papers (my sister calls her house the Library of Congress - there is so much reading material), then, off to the Moose Hall for a potluck to watch the Cleveland Browns play. Of course, since it is a potluck, she is expected to bring a dish to share. When I ask what she is bringing, she tells me she is tired of cooking and is bringing a bag of potato chips. She must be feeling old today since she is always the first in line to bring something home-baked and yummy. The Browns lose again of course.

Monday - A short, quick trip to the grocery to buy the latest “scandal sheets”, like the National Enquirer etc, and a few groceries. In the evening, she has a St. Mary’s Women’s Guild meeting. My best friend from high school keeps in touch with Mom and is her usual chauffeur. Debbie will chauffeur her mother and mine to the meeting and believe me, I am very grateful. Tonight is a guest speaker that talks about the history of Lorain and Mom pronounces it boring. She is however, very happy that she got two compliments on her pretty outfit.

Tuesday - Mom has lunch scheduled with 4 women she used to work with a gazillion years ago. The youngest is 76 and Mom is the oldest. They call themselves the “J and F Cuties”, since they worked for a clothing company as seamstresses called Joseph and Feiss. They each take turn picking the restaurant and today its Mom’s turn. She chooses Red Lobster, which amazes me since she hates the smell of seafood, but man, she loves their shrimp scampi and apparently the cheddar cheese biscuits are perfection. She and her cronies always ask for more biscuits and then fill their handbags with them!

In the evening she meets at the Orthodox Church she still belongs to and its sisterhood group. The sisterhood had about 50 members when I was a child, but now is down to about 10. They plan their bake sale set for Election Day at the church. Mom will cook for this one, her Burnt Butter cookies. At the meeting she learns of another death - always someone dying in mom’s life and she has a funeral pretty much every few weeks. Her comments on how the dead person looks in the coffin are truly hysterical. These old people really compare notes on how the undertaker did his job, like how their hair looked or if the makeup was too orange.

Wednesday - Mom has another lunch scheduled, this time with 4 of her HIGH SCHOOL girlfriends - since Mom graduated 67 years ago this is quite a feat. By the way, she is also on the reunion committee. They go to Perkins and Mom orders the crepes suzette with orange sauce that she calls “craps” suzette. After lunch she is off to the funeral home for the “viewing” wearing what she calls her “funeral jumper.”

Thursday brings two events - first, its Bingo Thursday at the Moose and Mom is a regular. She wins a few bucks and that makes her happy. Then it’s back to St. Mary’s for the senior luncheon, an incredible value - for only $2 she gets lunch, (of course she won’t eat any of it because the food is so bad she says) and a program for seniors - like how to manage their wills, or Irish dancing or how to make a wreath. She says they talk to the seniors like they are not quite bright 5 year olds and she hates the crafts!

Friday brings another fish day - apparently there is something about fish that does attract her. It’s off to the local Slovak Home for a perch fish fry, fries and coleslaw. This is a place that serves on paper plates and still gives you a coke in a small bottle like they did years ago. But, before fish, she goes and has her hair done with a standing Friday appointment - $6 and she is washed, curled and dried and with that $1 tip that hairstylist can surely retire soon.

Saturday is her relaxing day - she goes to 4:30 Mass, then makes herself a little dinner and then watches old Lawrence Welk reruns from 1955. Don’t any of you be calling her between 7 and 8 on Saturday night, since she will not answer her phone.

Mom is so busy, driving herself around, visiting friends in nursing homes and going to funerals, it is amazing. She recently sent me a pretty photo of herself taken wearing a cute pink suit with a note that I should use it as her obituary photo. Let’s all hope that is a long time coming. In just a few weeks Mom will meet her first two great-grandsons when we all gather in Cincinnati for Thanksgiving. I hope you are fortunate to have a Mom as wonderful as mine!


Vintage in Today's Decorating

I have noticed the home “vintage” look is popping up everywhere, in both fine accessory shops and places like HomeGoods and Tuesday Morning. I’m talking that look Anthropologie has perfected. You see it in dishcloths, frames, lamps, mirrors and especially in china and dinnerware.

I recently received a book titled “Vintage Vavoom” (2007 Action Pursuit Group) and it chronicles the vintage look in a wonderful pictorial manner. Blending vintage style with contemporary or traditional style is so easy – it makes for an eclectic look mixing modern and funky, nostalgia and functional.

Many of us have china or dinnerware we inherited from our families – in my case “borrowed forever” and this seems to be the crux of the look. Plates are displayed in wrought iron plate hangers, both horizontally and vertically (check out Hobby Lobby for some cool ones) and walls are decorated with mirrors or empty frames. Martha Stewart has made this look so affordable – all that whiteware she shows in white cabinets, with pretty lace accents. Even her linens have a reproductive look. I love the effortless style of blending colorful toile with decorative platters that are new but look old – this is where Anthropologie comes in big.

At Tuesday Morning there are reproduction cereal mugs and plates featuring the old Kellogg ads, many dish towels that look exactly like the ones in Mom’s drawer and great glass jars that can be used for display or practical purposes – flour, spices, etc. Jadeite glass collectibles or that cute white milk glass are making such a comeback, and when displayed properly look so great. And, they are actually useful, unlike the silk pillow your dog or new baby drooled on last week. I love it when people have a collection of dinnerware (the Royal Doulton Blue Willow china comes to mind) displayed in a white cupboard with the back of the cupboard painted a contrasting color to make the china standout.

Where are those old cookie cutters from your Grandma? They can be hung on your kitchen wall next to one of her old aprons (or buy a new pretty one at HomeGoods). Get those old books from Grandma’s attic and stack them on a table, then put a traditional lamp on top – everything evokes a memory that will make you smile.

I have found a lot of vintage decorating is right at your fingertips – just get out all the decorative stuff you have and think about how you can display everything. It will give you a good feeling – both remembering where it came from and if it wasn’t from family, which great flea market you got your “find.”


I Love Pumpkin

I know pumpkin is so traditional a this time of year, and there are a few people out there who don’t care for it (Sue, are you kidding me?) but each year in the fall, I make a pumpkin dessert that isn’t pie just to try something new. Last year I made a pumpkin praline torte for company and it was so fabulous, I made it again last week.

We had the Raynor’s for a college game night recently and I made this for dessert. It came from a Sunset magazine, Nov. 2005.


3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/3 c. butter
4 ¾ tbs. whipping cream
1 c. chopped pecans
4 large eggs
1 2/3 c. sugar
1 c. vegetable oil
2 c. pumpkin from a can
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. powdered sugar.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9” cake pans and line bottoms with parchment paper. This step is very important or you will not be able to get the cake out of the pan.

In a heavy pan over low heat, stir brown sugar, butter and 3 tbs. of the whipping cream until sugar melted and blended about 5 minutes. Pour half the brown sugar mixture into each pan and sprinkle 3/4 c. pecans evenly into each pan.

In a bowl, beat eggs, sugar and oil until well blended. Stir in pumpkin and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt. Whisk dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture. Pour half the batter into each pan.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30-35 minutes. Let cool in pans on rack for 5 minutes, then invert. Cool about 1 ½ hours.

Up to 5 hours before serving, beat remaining whipping cream on high speed until soft peaks form. On low, beat in powdered sugar and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Set one cake layer, praline side up on a dessert plate. Spread two-thirds of whipping cream on top, then top with other layer, praline side up. Cover with remaining cream and top with 1/4 c. pecans.

This is not only sensational looking but makes a delicious, fabulous cake that will serve 12. Store in refrigerator!!


Baby Andy's Bachelor Pad is Decorated

In our last blog, I talked about striping Baby Andy’s room to look like wallcovering. It is so great to do this, since if you don’t like it or want to change it, it is an inexpensive paint job to fix. Of course, we all loved our results. Now it was time to finish the job.

Remember we are using the Owls Sky pattern from Dwell Studio. It is
a charming owl and tree print fabric in a soft mercerized cotton. The colors are so perfect – turquoise, green, brown and gray on a white background. When Adrienne ordered the crib ensemble, we found we could order a lot of different pieces (pretty much any baby thing imaginable) but we could not order fabric by the yard. We needed this so I could make a window treatment.

So, we improvised. Adrienne ordered the matching shower curtain - a nice 6’x6’ piece of beautiful patterned fabric in a smaller scale than the crib quilt. Perfect for a window treatment. The shower curtain
had a nice top treatment with grommets, and instead of cutting them off and making a casing, I kept the buttonholes and cut from the bottom, the measurement I needed plus yardage for a 2 ½” hem. I then lined the fabric, very simply with a plain white good quality lining – lining is essential, as it keeps the “body” of the fabric in place, doesn’t stretch and protects the main fabric from sun damage. I simply cut a piece of lining and neatly attached it. I then added a cute green ball fringe to dress it up and we were ready to go.

The baby’s room window measured about 3” across (it is a transom area above a door), so the 6” width was perfect. You usually want to double your measurements to get a nice fluffy treatment. I purchased an inexpensive white rod with a ball finial at K-Mart from the Martha Stewart line and hung it up. It is adorable.

I used some of the remaining bits of fabric to cover a night light shade I bought at Hobby Lobby for about $8. I have seen it online for ½ the price. I added the ball fringe to this also and it was ready.

I found a wonderful chocolate brown rug at HomeGoods in a 4'x6’ size and we placed it in the middle of the room. The deeper color was essential as little Andy’s room leads out onto a wonderful deck. I figured it was a high traffic area and a sweet pastel rug was not such a good idea. It has a circle pattern in turquoise, grey and white.

Of course there was some remaining fabric, so I found a wonderful laundry basket with handles at Tuesday Morning. It had a striped lining, so I removed the lining, took it apart and used it as a pattern. I cut out pieces from our pretty owl fabric, sewed them together and made a new lining for the basket. Instead of heavy fabric ties, I used a lime green ribbon to thread threw the casing. It now houses baby wipes and diapers in Andy’s room.
Adrienne and Jim purchased classical white furnishings – crib, dresser (doubles as a changing table) and bookcase. The final touches were very personal – photos of the grandparents (that’s me) and original whimsical pieces that hung in Jimmy’s room when he was a baby that his mom had saved. Adie added some classic toys of Jimmy’s (like the talking phone every child owned) and Archie and Jughead that lived in her room when she was young.

I am not sure what kind of entertaining Baby Andy will be doing in his Bachelor Pad, but he will be doing it in style, I am sure of that. His daddy bought him a shirt that said “Lock Up Your Daughters” and I hope they heed the warning!