Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas Dilemma

Christmas Dilemma

As any red blooded American can relate I have suffered from the Christmas Dilemma of what gifts to buy, how much decorating to do. Do I want the place to look like the Griswalds have taken over or what to fix for Christmas Dinner? Or even to fix Christmas Dinner.

Now I am faced with a unique problem. Well, unique to me. Those of you who have been invited to partake in an Ugly Sweater Contest may have a better handle on this. I’m new to thisl I have not been in the habit of creating Ugly Sweaters or Sweatshirts. In fact, to the contrary. In my fabric hawking days the idea was to create good looking, flattering sweaters and sweatshirts. One time I was even asked to make an apron to be worn in a Christmas Fashion Show the local Chamber of Commerce was putting on. My creation, worn by the Mistress of Ceremonies, was a showstopper. Well, ok. The apron wasn’t the showstopper, but when my beautiful niece, Summer, appeared on the runway in red knickers, that was the show stopper. You get the idea. I am not used to making ugly stuff.

So....because I was not really familiar with Ugly Sweaters and the like I went directly to my information source; Amazon. Practically as I searched for them there was a price change. Are you ready for this? The prices on some of these less than desirable sweaters WENT UP.

It is abundantly clear that I have to get out more. What should make sense doesn’t. It’s like working for the government.

So, instead of ordering an ugly sweater from Amazon I plan to go to the dollar store and buy some silly, unattractive decorations and safety pin them onto a sweater from the Salvation Army. Details to follow. While I’m at it I’m sure I can find some creative number for Mr. Lucky wear. (Wink).

Stay tuned. I’ll report on the end result.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

As Seen On TV

As Seen on TV

For you non-over-achievers out there in shopping land I have a few tips for shopping or I should say not shopping. If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping yet, you might appreciate this.

It’s all about my experiences with the ‘As Seen on TV’ stuff which I usually buy in stores

to save the shipping and handling. Have you ever noticed that the second one is free, but you get to pay the shipping on the second one? But I digress.

Let me tell you about some of my experiences with that incredible Pocket Hose. Notice I said experiences. I am the idiot who bought not one, not two, but three. Ok. The first one just sprung a leak. A little hole in the middle of the thing appeared. Dang it. We were getting along so nicely. Like the guy on TV says it’s lightweight and easy to drag around. Anything can malfunction. So, off to the store where they pleasantly replaced it with a brand spanking new one. About 48 hours later the business end popped right off the brand new (2nd) one. After changing my clothes from the cold shower that minor hose explosion created, I went back to the store. Hmmm. They were out of Pocket Hoses. It seems that they had been having quite a run on returns, too. They politely refunded my money. I’m thinking that the problem was with the plastic connecting gizmo. Silly me. So my next course of action was to spend yet twice as much money for the X-Pro Hose. The guy on TV bashes the brass fitting with a hammer of the X-Pro. So after seeing this commercial no less than 9 times I zip off to get this magical X-Pro hose with the brass fitting. Well, I’m hear to tell you DON’T WASTE YOUR MONEY OR TIME ON IT. The magical brass fitting is what blew off my new X-Pro Hose.

Remember a few years ago every 20 minutes or so you were entertained by a ‘As Seen on TV’ commercial about a wonderful handbag. The actress on TV put an incredible number of things in one of them. She crammed in a wallet, a bottle of water, umbrella, a gaggle of keys, makeup of all kinds, a pile of credit cards and I think I saw a small poodle - all into the purse, which by the way, came in a variety of colors. That was one of the selling points for me. I bought a blue one and a red one. The end result was you could put all this stuff in the bag and it was just a matter of time until it started to fall out.

Despite my hose failures and the malfunctioning handbag I have had some more positive experiences. If someone on your is in need of a cane, I recommend the "Trusty Cane"....not to be confused with the Hurry Cane. Mine usually will not stand alone like ‘as seen on TV’, but the light works. Ok...Mr. Lucky did have to put the battery in it.

Another of my success stories is a little number for cooking in a quick and easy fashion called an Xpress Cooker. In fact I have been so satisfied with this one that I bought the new and improved model. Whoopee. One for the house and one for the motor home.

How can you go wrong with a cookbook for making Dump Cakes? I haven’t used it yet, but I have it and at some point I’m sure I’ll need to dump a glob of cake batter and some assorted items into a pan and bake it for awhile.

You may have had a good laugh when you saw the commercial for the cloth pocket gizmo for baking potatoes. Well, it works. I figured out how to make my own for a lot less than ten bucks, but I caved and bought my first one. And FYI you can bake sweet potatoes in them, too. And even yams. Oh, my. Be still-my heart.

Another thing in the win column is a set of "Hard to Find" County Music CDs. That was Mr. Lucky’s Father’s Day present. A big hit, I might add.

In retrospect I have done pretty good with my As Seen On TV experiences. But I am a bit of a pro when it comes to shopping. Just ask Mr. Lucky. He doesn’t seem to think shopping is a sport.





Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Ask and You May Not Receive

I don’t plan to turn this piece (from the valley) into Miss Lura’s Advice Column but it has occurred to me that some folks need a refresher on what questions may or may not be appropriate to ask. Bear in mind that children under the age of 4 or 5 are pretty much exempt from my guidelines. But please don’t use them to ask questions you shouldn’t.

We all know, or should know, that you don’t go around asking women or men, for that matter, how old they are. You can always come in the back door and ask what year they graduated from high school. Usually this will give you a clue and you can do some simple math and figure it out.

Along those same lines in most cases it’s ok to ask someone how tall they are, but don’t be stupid enough to ask how much they weigh. Not very many folks are happy with their weight. Medical workers are not exempt. If you happen to be put into a position where you have to answer this rude question I suggest you do what I do. Give them the number on your driver’s license. Bungee jumping would be the one exception to the rule.

You maybe shouldn’t go around asking people what size shoe they wear. "Hey, Phoebe, where in the heck do you buy your shoes? What size are those gunboats? Thirteens?" Don’t do that. The same is true with their dress, bra, belt, pants, and sometimes even ring sizes.

Speaking of is not cool to ask how many carats the diamond is. Worse yet, "Is that rock real? They are making such nice looking cubic zirconias now days."

Hair color is another gray (ha ha) area. If their hair is blue, fuchsia, or purple you pretty much know it’s a dye job. I’m going out on a limb here in guessing that probably 30 to 50 % of the women color their hair in some way. To say nothing of the men folk. But who cares? You don’t need to know, and/or ask, no matter how bad you want to.

Some folks are offended if you ask them if they made their cake from scratch or "was this made with a mix?" Don’t worry about offending me with that one. I haven’t made a cake from scratch since I was in Home Ec class in the last century. And the stove I baked it in was electric, not wood. It has been me and Betty Crocker all these years. Nowadays you can buy cookie mixes, too. A little FYI... you can add 2 eggs and ½ cup of oil to any cake mix and turn it into cookie dough. Works for me.

We have mid-term elections coming up, folks, and a lot of people are reluctant to be blabbing about who they are likely to vote for? Maybe you don’t need to ask them.

"What did you do with the money your mother gave your for _______________?" Fill in the blank. Singing lessons? A haircut? A new shirt?

Last but not least...."When is the baby due?" This is not good in so many ways. What if she had the baby a month ago? What if she was not nor never has been pregnant? Back in the olden days (the sixties) you could tell if a women was "in the family way" by the type of clothing she wore. Lovely creations called smocks. As soon as the baby was born the smocks were retired and sometimes burned in a ceremonious fashion.

I graduated somewhere between 1961 and 1971.

Sunday, June 29, 2014



My fascination with wheels or objects bearing wheels must have started when I got my first tricycle. I was somewhere around 5. I might have been pushed in some contraption like a buggy before then but that escapes my memory. Bicycle - age 10. Somewhere between tricycle and bicycle I was introduced to roller skates–those nifty ones that you clamped onto your shoes. I mean shoes, too; sandals didn’t do the job. I still have a skate key, if you are old enough to remember them. But no skates. A side note....if you have a skate key you became pretty popular. Skate keys were the first things lost and the last things found. A neighbor had the skates to envy. Shoe skates. Hers were white boots just like the roller rink had. She had little pom pom deals attached to hers. Oh, my.

Mr. Lucky understood this thing I have for wheels. He went to a yard sale once and came back with a tricycle (rusty and quite wonderful), a Radio Flyer wagon, and a wheel barrow. (I had to look this up...wheel barrel or wheel barrow. It’s barrow). What a guy. On Mother’s Day on year I got a new wheel barrow. Another time I got a lawn mower with 4 wheels. Oh boy.

Moving along.... I didn’t marry Mr. Lucky because he had a 1960 Studebaker Lark, but it didn’t hurt his image either. Most importantly he introduced me to motorcycles. Have you ever heard of a Tohatsu? That’s what he put me on first. It had wheels. Later I moved up to a thing of beauty. A 1970 Yamaha Enduro 175. It’s still in the garage. One of the last times I rode it, it threw me on the ground between a rock and a really hard place. As I recall there was a kelly hump and a mammoth tree stump involved, too.

After witnessing me hitting the ground Mr. Lucky thought (wisely) that it was time to switch to four-wheelers. Better still. More WHEELS. So far it appears that I am lots less likely to get thrown to the ground while riding my 4-wheeler.

The yard sale wagon was the start of my collection of wagons. Most of them are rusty, but well loved. However a few years back my son sent me one for my birthday. It’s a beauty, complete with pneumatic tires, removable wood side boards, and much too nice for kids to play with. Every grown woman should have one. The wheel barrow thing just sort of happened. I have used both the wagons and wheel barrows for planters as well as for hauling stuff about in the yard.

As you can imagine I have assorted wheel barrows and wagons scattered about in flower beds and former flower beds. Oh, yeah...and one rusty tricycle. I call it Yard Art.

I’m on the hunt for a kiddie car just in case you have one to give away. I wouldn’t turn away any Tonka trucks, either.

Shortly after I wrote the first final draft of this piece (from the valley) I went out for my "health walk" during which I fell to the ground in fine style. That would be with an audience and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. With little fanfare Mr. Lucky took me to the ER for x-rays. I was sure I had broken my patella or tibia or some other hard to pronounce part of my anatomy. No. Just a torn ACL. The L part stands for ligament. Long story short. Now I get to use a walker (with wheels) until I get better.

Man, I love wheels.





Sunday, June 1, 2014

Man or Woman's Best Friend

During our happy, blissful married life Mr. Lucky and I have had over a dozen dogs. At some point I’ll blat about many of them but first....

Let me tell you all about Fred. He was some sort of a Heeler. If you read up on Heelers, as I did, you’ll find that they are smart, trainable, good with kids, and require very little grooming. He even responded to his new name-Fred. All of that worked for me.

Fred appeared in the neighborhood one spring day; a full grown dog with a collar, but no identification or rabies tag. A notice on the radio and a call to the police about a lost dog didn’t turn up an owner. He soon took up residency under our deck. The neighbors had a bunch of kids that the dog seemed to find necessary to watch. Watch them he did. There is a small stream of water in our backyard that I like to call a creek (in Idaho that’s crick) and that’s a stretch. It’s really a glorified ditch. Anyway, if the kids were anywhere near the creek (crick) Fred was on duty. Watching. Some days it was a full time job. They were busy kids.

Lucky for us he was well trained. Around our house we are what you might call dog training challenged. We did manage to housebreak our kids and they both learned to use silverware. So if guests popped in we would invite them to have a chair. You know...something like this. "Come on in. Sit down." Fred would immediately sit. He was a gentle dog who tolerated female dogs and tried to run off any male dog that happened to come along. The big male lab-cross who lived in the neighborhood was not discouraged by Fred. He pretty much ignored him. Fred just had to suck it up.

We discovered on our first attempt at a road trip with him that Fred was not too keen on riding in the cab of a pickup. We were less than a mile from home when he had a bit of a panic attack. Nothing to do but take him home. Home was a test, too, at first. He refused to come inside, choosing instead to take up residency under our deck. That became his domain. And his alone. Our current dog, to this day, doesn’t go under the deck. Evidently Fred told her to stay out.

Fred loved chips....Doritos, potato, Sun Chips. He was introduced to them by the neighbor kids. The sound of opening a bag of chips would get him running for a city block.

He was not a bit particular about his diet. Fruit, vegetables, and as I mentioned, chips, and dog food. Even cat food. One time we caught him red-handed eating the neighbor’s cat food right on their back porch. One of his favorites was blackberries. He would pick his own. The same with cherry tomatoes, but they were not so dangerous as blackberries.

Fred’s life with us overlapped with a couple of other female dogs. One of them, Sadie, had to have medication a couple of times a day. When her pills came out, so did the cheese as a way to disguise the pill. Sometimes Fred got his cheese first. Not being as well-trained as Fred, Sadie was not likely to come when she was called. When we did get her into the house she was rewarded with a "come-in cookie". Fred figured that out early on. He always got one, too. I’m pretty sure he explained this procedure to our present resident canine, Bonnie. She goes directly to the cupboard when she comes in. He passed on several other good behavior traits to Bonnie. Considering that we are challenged in the area of dog-training we were grateful for Fred’s help.

Fred developed a tumor. It was on his upper jaw and was pretty much inoperable.. You can figure out how this ends. He gave us many years of enjoyment as dogs do. I like to think that we made a good life for him during those years. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of him to share on this post. Well, any pictures that I can locate. You’ll just have to trust me when I say he was a good-looking heeler.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Comfort Food

Comfort Food

While standing in the check-out at a grocery store I discovered not one but two different publications (overpriced, I might add) featuring a big spread on Comfort Food. I was tempted to buy one of these magazine, but thought better of it. After all I am no stranger to food, comfort or otherwise. Oh, yeah. They were $9.95. That was the deal breaker right there.

Moving along.... two nights ago I created one of my, shall we say, wonderful meatloaf dinners complete with oven-baked potatoes. This particular recipe, dubbed "Italian Meat Loaf", calls for pasta sauce and Parmesan cheese.  Evidently if you add these 2 ingredients you can call it Italian.  Just to be sure I sprinkled in some garlic powder.   Mr. Lucky made the proper comments about how tasty it was and added the phrase "comfort food". Ok.

The next night after a rainy and somewhat ugly day weather-wise I made soup. I started with a packaged thing called Gumbo and added some meat and leftover rice, and of course, garlic.  Again, Mr. Lucky remarked about how much he enjoyed the soup and added "comfort food".  Ok. I have a hunch if I laid out a mouth-watering spread of chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes swimming in country gravy he would respond the same way.

I can choke down a cheeseburger at almost any given moment. Or pizza. A Reuben sandwich always hits the spot. But these are not necessarily my comfort foods. For me bring on the Macaroni and Cheese. I’m not talking about the Mac & Cheese out of the box that 5 year olds can make in the microwave. I’m talking about the real calorie-laden, cholesterol-piking deal, which I make with Rotini noodles...for more noodle to the bite.  

So, I am wondering what is your comfort food? Something like Mom used to make? Something soft? Something smothered in gravy? Something wrapped in bacon?  Something simple like Oreo cookies and milk? Something decadent like Cinnabons?

Here is what wikipedia has to say about it: Comfort food is traditionally eaten food (which often provides a nostalgic or sentimental feeling to the person eating it), [1] or simply provides the consumer an easy-to-digest meal, soft in consistency, and rich in calories, nutrients, or both. [2] The nostalgic element most comfort food has may be specific to either the individual or a specific culture. [3] Many comfort foods are flavorful; some may also be easily prepared.

It’s comforting to know that my Macaroni and Cheese qualifies on at least 2 levels.