Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spell it Out

There is something a little magical about  pancakes.

Maybe  it’s the melted butter and syrup that  we drench them in.  Maybe-in my case, it’s the handful of chocolate chips I sometimes toss on top of each circular pool of batter after I’ve poured it in the pan. Maybe it’s the memories.

I remember as a kid relishing the tall stack of “silver dollar” pancakes my mom made.  Somehow hotcakes that were the size of large coins tasted better than anything I’d ever had. (Even as an adult I still consider “silver dollar” pancakes to be a special treat, even though a dollar isn’t worth as much today as it was then.)

So this morning as I was flipping through Amy’s old, well used copy of Betty Crocker’s New Boys and Girls Cook Book (1957),  I came across this recipe, for “Branded Pancakes”. 

How fun!  And though making these pancakes might be slightly on the labor intensive side, imagine the possibilities that exist when you send a message via a pancake.  For your school aged son or daughter, how about-

D O    Y O U R    H O M E W O R K 

Or for your husband-

B U Y   M E   F L O W E R S 

My advice though-just make sure you are the only one doing the cooking. I don’t think 

I R O N   M Y   S H I R T 

would taste very good first thing in the morning.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Amy Scissorhands

I should have known.  I really should have known.  Amy, alone in her room, had been too quiet, for too long.  And by the time I decided to investigate, it was too late.  Oh sure, I saw the red flags that waved across those moments of relaxation I had been enjoying.  But I chose to ignore them.

The scene that came into view, just beyond the doorway of her room, surely must have resembled the beauty parlor from H-E-double hairspray bottles-one where a beautician with a grudge against hair, or some misguided sense of style, has been at work. 

Hair and fur were EVERYWHERE.  It took me a minute to sort out my confusion.  Amy’s own curls were reddish blonde, and plentiful snippets of her hair lay scattered about.  But I also saw clippings of black and brown fake fur, tufts that looked like real fur, and trimmings of green fake fur, too.  There may have been other colors that I missed.  It was hard to tell.

Amy, I can say with certainty, was a fast worker.  When I mentioned that the quiet in her room had lasted too long, it could not have been more than 15 or 20 minutes.  But put a pair of purple plastic blunt tipped scissors in the hands of a child on a mission, and it’s long enough.

I don’t know on whom she started cutting first-herself, or one of her many stuffed animals that fell victim that day. I do know that no one was spared.  Not even Willow, our dog, who relished any form of attention-even if that attention made her look like a character from a Dr. Seuss story.

Of all the hair cuts given that day, they had one thing in common.  They were all bad.  (Amy’s was a real piece of work-cropped down to her scalp in several places.)  But at least her haircut, and Willow’s haircut weren’t permanent.  Not so for “Pinky” the bunny, “Flingo” the flamingo, “Dot” the cow…

And what did Amy have to say for herself when her handiwork was discovered?

“I didn't do it.  My stuffed skunk did.”

So what do you say to a three year old renegade hairdresser, who is impossibly cute, telling a bold faced lie while holding a pair of safety scissors in her hand, and covered with hair and fur? 

“Well I guess we should send skunk to beauty school then.  If’s he’s going to be giving haircuts, he should at least learn to do them right.”

who me

The TRDC prompt this week was to edit a piece we had written in the past.  This story was originally published November 3, 2010.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thank You, Shelby Little


For creating this fun book that I found at Goodwill last week. 

It was buried under a mound of assorted stuff-stuff that had nothing to do with books.  I like to think it was hiding out-waiting for me to come along.  Me, as in someone who would appreciate a book like this.

I was curious about the title, and the unassuming exterior.  I figured it to be a novel, misplaced by someone who thought about buying it but changed their mind and dumped it in the bin where I found it.  But it’s not a novel, it’s


The Word-Change Book

The dedication reads:  To those charming people who are dissatisfied with things as they are.

And what makes this book all the more charming to me is that it was written in 1927.  It would seem that in 1927, this word change game-invented in the late 90’s, was once again a new and fascinating phenomenon.

After an amusingly written forward by the author’s husband, and then a note by the author herself, we get down to brass tacks.



1.  Only one letter may be changed at a time.

2.  No letter may be transposed.

3.  Only English words, not definitely marked obsolete, to be found in standard unabridged dictionaries, may be secured by each change.  Foreign words, simplified spellings, abbreviations and proper names are barred.

(The compiler of this book declines to be held responsible for any transgressions of the above rules, either real or apparent, made in the “Answers”-her job ends with Problem No. 180.  When you get past there it’s simply a case of every man for himself and the one with the largest vocabulary and the heaviest dictionary wins.

Furthermore, no guarantee is given that the word-changes are  made in the least possible number of steps.  If you want a word-change done right, you’ve just got to quit your job, retire to some nice quiet sanitarium, and work the damn thing out yourself.)


So here is an example of  what a word change puzzle is:


The answers to each puzzle are found at the back of the book, and I was delighted to see that each puzzle is solved by someone famous, or at least a friend of the author.  In the case of the example above, the solver was none other than George Gershwin.  In another instance, Emily Post solved the puzzle SOUP-----NUTS.


Here is an example of a completed puzzle:


WILD—wile—tile—tale—TAME  (solved by Theodore Roosevelt).



Each week I’ll be posting a new set of these word games-with the solutions given the following week with a new set of puzzles.

Have fun!







Monday, July 25, 2011

Newport Scrapbook

newport sailor girls_thumb

The perfect trip for me is one that combines an interesting destination, with a large dose of history.  My recent trip to the Oregon coast was just the ticket!

Newport beach_thumb

We were headed, last Monday, to the town of Newport, where we were meeting up with Stuart’s family to celebrate his mom’s birthday.

While it’s a long drive-around 7 to 8 hours if we take our time and make stops along the way- it’s also an incredibly beautiful drive, and one of our favorites.

After crossing the Columbia River into Oregon,  the road winds through the Columbia River Gorge.  Along the route, there is the option of driving on a stretch of the Old Columbia River Highway (Historic US 30), which was constructed between 1913 and 1922.  The purpose of the highway was to create a road that would allow motorists to view the many waterfalls and other scenic wonders that exist in the area. It’s a road of so much  beauty-both natural and man made…



One of the old bridges-aging very gracefully.



Horsetail Falls



Vintage postcard depicting both a section of one of the old bridges and Horsetail Falls.


Past old tunnels-no longer in use but still interesting to look at. 


This particular tunnel, the Oneonta Tunnel, was built in the early 1900’s.  It was filled in with rocks after World War II, but has now been restored.


Oneonta Tunnel in 1920.


Vista House-a rest stop and view point.  It was built in 1918.




The view from Vista House is breathtaking!



A few hours past the Columbia River Gorge, we arrived at our destination-the beach!


Newport, Oregon, and its trademark Yaquina Bay Bridge, completed in 1936. It was constructed as part of President Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) at a cost of  just over one million dollars.




Amy on the beach in front of our motel room.



We climbed up 111 of 114 steps to look out the top of the Yaquina Head Lighthouse, built in 1872.  Why not the last three steps?  The curator jokingly said that there is a “you- break- it- you- buy- it” policy regarding the original light house lens which is still in use.  When I asked what the cost to replace it would be-the answer was “Millions!”


We explored the craggy rocks surrounding the lighthouse.


Tide pools were plentiful and home to many colorful creatures.



Tufted puffin.


Our days at the beach passed by quickly-


Ending, our final night, with a gorgeous beach sunset.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Once Upon a Road Trip

Before I depart on my trip today, I want to leave you with this-another travel tale, from another time…

Several years ago, when Stuart and I were college students living in Corvallis, Oregon, we decided on the spur of the moment, one spring afternoon, to drive over to the Oregon coast.  Just an hour on the road would get us there, and we could walk on the beach, have dinner at some seafood joint, watch the sun set, and come home.


Our plan had one slight hitch. We didn't have a car. We went everywhere and did everything on our bicycles.


A call to a friend quickly provided us with wheels-a Honda Accord.  We were off!

It was an enjoyable trip, and we had a memorable time.  But at the end of the day there was another slight hitch.  As we prepared to return home, we realized we had locked the keys in the car!  What were we going to do?


We couldn't break a window. It wasn't our car...

We didn’t want to walk home.  It was too far away…

We hated to call someone to come and give us a ride.  We didn’t want to be a bother…


While we contemplated our dilemma, a good Samaritan came over and asked what was wrong. We explained our situation, and he quickly returned with a metal coat hanger. Soon a whole band of well intentioned citizens gathered around us with advice. One man even had a huge key ring full of every imaginable key-but none worked.


Just when it looked as though we might be spending the night on the coast, a girl, driving a Honda Accord, pulled in near us. She came over to see what the fuss was about, and when we informed her that we'd locked our keys in our car, she said "Here-try mine." Much to our amazement and joy, her key worked! Our car was unlocked and we were soon on our way. ( I vaguely remember folks clapping and cheering-everyone was pretty excited!)

All in all it was a great day. Our road trip had provided us with a change of scenery, a little bit of drama, a happy ending, and most of all...a fun story to tell when we were safely home.

(And I have to say thanks to all of Stuart's and my ancestors who so kindly took these pictures years ago, so that I could use them for this post!)

Have a great week-and I’ll be back Thursday!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mid July Garden Update




I thought I’d share a few photos from my garden, so you can see how it is looking now, in the middle of July.  This is prime gardening season and so many flowers are blooming.



We’ve had a bumper crop of strawberries this year. They are small, but sweet.  We got our strawberry plants a few years ago-a huge flat for just a dollar!  

It  looks like we will be getting lots of raspberries too, enough for jam and a pie or two.



The most unexpected and beautiful surprise this year was that this lily bloomed.  Amy found it on the sidewalk two years ago, and being the sweet and compassionate girl that she is, brought it home-she couldn’t bear the thought of it being discarded and unwanted.  For two years it did nothing…until this year.  Wow!  It’s stunning!

Amy's Lily 2_thumb[1]


I was excited this past week when Old Farmer’s Almanac contacted me and asked if they could use this photo in a upcoming publication to be put out next spring!

light shade_thumb[1]


On Monday, I’ll be leaving on vacation for a few days.  We are headed to the Oregon coast.  I’ll take lots of pictures, and have some of my favorite things to eat like clam chowder and salt water taffy-and when we get back, I’m hoping we’ll have some ripe tomatoes!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lucky Day

Yesterday I went thrifting.  Not headline news, I know.  But I had a great thrifting day, and that is always something to get excited about. 

For starters, it was the first time, in a long time, that Amy could go along.  Out of school, and back from Alaska, she was free to accompany me.  And not only did that make shopping all the more fun, but I think she brought me luck, too.

I never fail to hit pay dirt at an actual antique store.  After all, they are in the business of selling vintage treasures from the past, and I love browsing among the bits and pieces of  days gone by, trying to choose one or two new pieces for my museum like collection of old stuff.  (I pretty much want everything I see!)

No, the real thrifting challenge is shopping at one of the two charity shops in town.  St. Vincent de Paul, or Goodwill.  While they sell used items, they do not necessarily sell vintage items.  (Well they do sell vintage-mostly from the 80’s though-but I don’t want to go there…)

Both stores have  sales every week.  At Goodwill, all items with the featured color tag are half off.  This week, the tag color was green, and  I found this cute little Hawaiian shirt.  It was marked at $3.99, but I got it for $2.  It will help protect me from too much sun when I am working in my garden.


While I always enjoy browsing around Goodwill,  my two best treasures of the day were at St. Vincent’s.  I found this box of vintage writing paper for 75 cents.  It has a very pretty floral motif.  The box also doesn’t have a bar code (introduced in the mid seventies) but does have a zip code (introduced in the late sixties) so it isn’t that old-but still a lovely find. 

vintage writing paper_thumb[2]

And then, the piece de resistance!

A piece of art pottery by Royal Copley!

Now if there is one thing that makes me go absolutely weak in the knees, it’s art pottery.  Some day I will write an entire post about the subject, but if you do a Google search for Royal Copley,  Hull,  Roseville, or McCoy to name a few, I think you will see what I mean.

Royal Copley was made in Sebring, Ohio by the Spaulding China Company  from 1939 to 1960, and I would guess this fish planter was made in the 50’s, during the time when Oriental decor was in fashion.  I paid $4.99 for it, which is a bit pricey for me as far as St. Vincent’s goes (I like to stay in the two dollar range)  but, I found the same planter online for $32.  Plus, I really like it!  I’ll use it to store pens and pencils on my desk.  

fish planter_thumb[2]

After shopping, I took Amy out to lunch where we laughed and chatted like two old and dear friends.  We had so much fun together!   And that, in my book of what makes a good thrift store outing a success-is priceless.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


When Amy and Stuart retuned from Alaska recently, Amy had taken over 300 photographs!  Here are just a few-from glaciers to mountains, wildlife to city life, and lots of water.

And once again, I’m biased-but I think Amy has taken some pretty spectacular photographs!  

Detail of totem pole showing traditional colors.

Mendenhall Glacier in the background.

Stuart, Amy and a huge waterfall!

Glacial ice.

Another glacier!

Harbor view.

Basking sea lions.


Bald eagle.

Hump back whales.  Amy said that every time she snapped the shutter on her camera she just missed most of the whales she was trying to photograph!

Downtown Juneau.


Statue of the Alaskan brown bear-also known as the grizzly bear.  They are common around Juneau.


Pirate ship?  No, fishing boat!


A carving done directly on the trunk of a tree.


View from the tram. 

Tug boat and cargo barge.

Tree root tunnel.


From Amy’s pictures, it’s easy to see why Juneau is known as America’s most scenic state capital!

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