Category Archives: Cooking

Sweet Tea

Sweet tea, southern-style

I’m working hard today and it’s time for a break. Of course my #1 drink-of-choice is always and has almost always been iced tea. Here in the South, folks prefer SWEET TEA. In fact, they swear by it!!! Any eaterie will serve it. It will be sweet, really sweet. When you visit somebody, you will be offered SWEET TEA. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes lemonade or a beer will ALSO be offered, but you can betcha that in the South you will be drinking sweeeet tea sometime during your visit! So don’t turn up your nose at it. And if you move to the South, then you had better learn to like it! Oh, by the way….it is very often served in a Mason jar! Somehow it enhances the flavor (the opinion of a lot of us, haha). Many folks like it with lemon, some like it with mint. I normally drink it with mint simply because I usually have 3 or 4 types of mint growing in my garden.

I’ve been picking a few strawberries and blueberries out of my berry patch, trying to get to them before any of the’nuisance‘ critters do. I’m getting ready for a road trip so I need to tend to my gardens as much as possible before leaving. The blackberries and raspberries may or may not produce while I’m gone but there’s not much that I can do about that. Next up is my herb garden and all I can do is to pinch the tops off the basils so that they’ll grow fuller, as from past experience here in central Florida I do know that most types of basils can last 18 months or more! I’m putting 7 large pinwheels in my main garden to try and ward off some of the birds and squirrels that have been munching on my tomatoes (I have 12 plants already) and peppers and squashes and beans. I don’t know if they will keep ALL of the critters away but they surely do look pretty twirling in the breezes. We do have plenty of winds here in our part of the Sunshine State, and I’m hoping that they will at least keep away SOME of those varmints. I suppose I am the only one that can keep our puppy away from the pinwheels though!

When I was growing up, in Indiana (not the South!), my Mama served us iced tea EVERY night with our supper. I do mean every night: summer, fall, winter, spring. It wasn’t a choice, it was just a part of our meal. She cooked it in a saucepan on one of the 2 burners that was on the long island in our big kitchen while she was making the supper at the stove. Then she’d let it ‘steep‘ awhile. Right before supper, she’d have one of us kids pour the tea through a strainer into a large pitcher and add water and sweetener. We had to put the exact number of ice cubes into each glass and fill them with that beautiful amber-colored liquid beverage. Mama used Lipton loose tea and it always tasted perfect. When any of us had supper at somebody else’s home, we kinda missed having our iced tea. It was a tradition, I reckon, that you don’t even realize until later.

Nowadays I have diabetes and cannot add the sugar so I USUALLY sweeten my gallon-jug of tea with Truvia and Equal. Every once-in-a-while, I make it the old way with real sugar and then cringe as I take my blood-sugar reading the following day! It’s worth it occasionally if I don’t make it a habit! I also have made the switch to green teas. I also need to learn how to make hibiscus tea because I’ve got half-a-dozen gorgeous hibiscus bushes and my Hawaiian pals tell me that I oughta being making my own tea. I do like Jasmine tea. My daughter and I drink a gallon per day. Sometimes I make peppermint tea, or regular plain mint tea, or REAL tea (nowadays that seems to make me hyper and make frequent trips to the loo) but I do soooo love my SWEET TEA immensely! Well, I am thinking that I will go and have a jar right now!

Missing Christmas

Missing Dad Christmas

Christmas came. Christmas 2014 is over. Most of the day I spent by myself, remembering past holidays when my own children were little. And of course, that also got me recalling the wonderful and cherished family members that attended Christmases when my brothers and I were little kids. So I mostly had a day of reminiscing and MISSING CHRISTMAS. My own parents were much younger than I am now when I was a little child and we had large family gatherings at our home filled with lotsa favorite cousins and Aunts and Uncles, as well as my beloved Grandparents. (The Grandparents and all of the Uncles are gone now and I have 1 Aunty left) After devouring a most scrumptious meal lovingly prepared by the fabulous cooks in our family (everybody had their ‘specialties’ which we came to expect and look forward to), the bigger kids would help to clear away dishes and arrange kids in the living room, my Daddy would mysteriously disappear, and soon thereafter Santa would come and hand our gifts. We had joyous holidays at our home.

1st Christmas with Daddy-5 months old-1956

Now my precious Daddy, pictured with a 1-year-old ME in the photo, is celebrating Christmas in heaven, and has been for a few years. I am sad, and the tears still flow because I miss him sooooo much. But I have learned not to be selfish, for I know that this is his ‘reward‘ and it is surely glorious beyond anything that my mind can imagine. Besides, this is Daddy’s very first Christmas in heaven with ALL 5 of his big brothers and his sister and his folks so I’m certain that they’re having a GRAND TIME! I still am blessed to have my darling Mama, pictured with me in the photo of my 1st Christmas, even tho she’s spending Christmas at her Hoosier home in Indiana. She does always hope for that ‘White Christmas‘, whether or she gets it is another story! The only white that I wanna see in the winter is the sugary white sands of the beaches on the Gulf of Mexico!

Mama&Jeannie-1st Christmas

I’m also missing my baby boy this Christmas. That’s him pictured with me when he was a young’un. He lives in PA with his fiancee and wasn’t able to come home to FL for Christmas since he’d just been here in October. But I’ll be seeing him in April when we all gather in Indiana for Mama’s 80th Birthday Celebration!

Mama & Joey Easter 1988

So even tho I spent most of my daytime yesterday MISSING CHRISTMAS, in the evening I did get to have supper with my other 2 kids and my daughter-in-law! We had a yummy meal and then our gift exchange at my son’s apartment. I enjoy living in central Florida; the down-side is sharing my kiddies with the tourists since this is officially ‘The Tourism Capital of the World’! My daughter and my son and his wife DO WORK for a giant Mouse, after all! Even tho it’s not cold here….it is very festive!

Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

My Mama makes the best APPLE DUMPLINGS in the world! This is my opinion & it’s undisputed. Nobody can change my mind tho many have tried. Nope….won’t happen; can’t be done….hers are best! No room for discussion! Yes, I am a very good cook too, and, yes, I probably COULD prepare them just about the same as Mama does (I’ve watched and assisted numerous times since I was a young girl) but that just wouldn’t be the same, now would it???

This time of year brings the falling leaves in the top half and middle of our country. Friends and kin like to ask me the same thing every year at this time, and that is whether or not I’m missing the changing of the seasons and the beautiful, splendid, colorful, and ever-changing scenery. I always emphatically answer a resounding “NO”! I don’t like the cold in any way, shape, or form! As for the spectacular changing colors….viewing their lovely photos on social media is plenty enough for me. I do NOT need to be there physically in order to admire my Lord’s awesome handiwork.

Autumn DOES bring ‘apple harvest’ tho, which means APPLE DUMPLINGS, apple pies, apple cider, homemade applesauce and/or apple butter in the crockpots, and caramel or candied apples; and also bobbing-for-apples at get-togethers! I grew up in northern Indiana where there were always plenty of apples to pick. The school kids would be taken by the busloads to a particular apple orchard for a special day of being educated about the apple harvest, and would then be treated to apple recipes to try and bring home, as well as having fun and games before being taken back to school. I remember chaperoning when my youngest son’s class took this ‘field trip’ and enjoyed an amazing day with his classmates. My biggest surprise of that day was the gigantic jar of Apple Blossom Honey that I bought. It was the tastiest honey that I have EVER had in my entire life! Just the thought of it makes me want some RIGHT NOW! But I’m not willing to drive all the way to Indiana just for honey! Florida’s Orange Blossom Honey comes in 2nd place, so I settle for that.

Now, at this time I will add a tiny note to mention that the Cracker Barrel restaurant does indeed offer a rather yummy dessert that they TRY to pass off as an Apple Dumpling, however it is actually more of an Apple Cobbler or some kind of an Apple Dessert Casserole. Anybody that knows me will attest that I’ll use every excuse to dine at Cracker Barrel because I feel that their ‘Southern cooking’ reminds me the most of my own Gramma’s cooking. Biscuits and gravy for breakfast OR fried catfish with turnip greens and dumplins are my ‘go-to’ meals that I could enjoy every week, much to my children’s dismay (since they are the ones that take me)! IF I’m lucky….or perhaps it’s ‘if my daughter is feeling sorry for me’….I’ll get her to share one of those big desserts with me. It’s delicious for sure, but usually just tends to create a hunger for Mama’s APPLE DUMPLINGS even more!

Late September of last year we drove to Indianapolis to attend my beautiful niece’s perfect wedding. (believe me, my love for her is one of the very few reasons that I’ll return to that cold climate!) We stayed a couple of days with my Mama and I didn’t even realize until a few months later that I’d totally forgotten to ask her to bake some APPLE DUMPLINGS for me! When I called and mentioned it to her, she got a kick outa that….HA! I’m getting sooooo forgetful that I’m having trouble remembering things, even requests of my fave desserts that ONLY MAMA can make just the way I like it! But AHA! Next spring at the end of April I certainly hope that I remember to ask for them when I go to visit Mama for her 80th Birthday Celebration! I realize that apples will be out of season and I know that it’ll be her birthday but I still want my treat!!! And only Mama can make it for me….and that’s just the way it is! This time I’m getting my APPLE DUMPLINGS!

GrandDad’s Buddy

Granddad and Jerry

My First-Born child also has the honored position of being the First Grandchild for my parents, as well as for my Step-Mom. He loves this distinction! However, my Step-Dad already had 2 grandkids by this time but they live in South Carolina so he only saw them a couple of times annually. He had lotsa fun being GrandDad too. My son never got to know his ‘other’ biological grandparents….the grandfather had been killed by a tornado more than a decade before and the grandmother had been extremely ‘broken’ by this same tornado so she wouldn’t have known him anyway. But since both of my parents had remarried and lived in the same small town, which was approximately 40 miles from where my baby boy and I lived, he still had two sets of grandparents and a set of great-grandparents to dote on him! I had to live in a larger town, near Purdue University, for my travel agency job but every Friday after work we drove to either my Mama’s or my Daddy’s house for the weekend and had a grand time! All of my children have/had special relationships with each grandparent/great-grandparent. For nearly the first couple years of his life, my son turned into his GRANDDAD’S BUDDY. Whenever we were at Mama’s ‘little round house out in the woods‘, every time I’d turn around, my Step-Dad had that baby laying on his tummy watching TV or reading to him or even taking naps with him!

My parents divorced when I was in my early twenties. Don’t ever believe the old adage about divorce hurting the children less if the parents wait until those kids are grown-ups. It’s just not true. My world turned totally upside-down even tho I was in college. I ran away, literally, to finish my college studies as far away from my small Hoosier hometown as I could get. My parents informed me of their decision in July and less than a month later I was attending a small Catholic college in Honolulu. That was as far away as I could get and still be on American soil. After college I returned to Indiana but not to the same small hometown. Instead I moved to the larger town 40 miles away where I could obtain work.

As it turned out, I married an Air Force Officer and we had assignments in Texas, Hawaii, and Florida before my husband decided that he didn’t want to be married anymore. So it was back to this small Hoosier hometown that I took my 3 children and our broken hearts so that we could feel the love of family surrounding and comforting us once again. My parents, even tho married to others, cooperated together to pave the way by finding a suitable house for us to rent and basically made the decisions for me at a time when my distraught mind was unable to function. My Daddy and my brother brought a moving truck to Florida and literally picked us up and got us and took us HOME, while Mama was busily getting things ready in Indiana. I do not even recall registering the kids in school and doctors and many other things that needed to be taken care of so I’m sure that my wonderful parents must have had a hand in taking care of a lot of the things that I didn’t even notice but am totally grateful for. It was a good move and a good idea. Sometimes in life a person has to trust in the wisdom of those who have lived life and already made mistakes because they are able to give advice, should anybody care to listen. My parents are a perfect example of this. I may not have always agreed with them but they wanted what ultimately was best for their grandbabies. Of course I’m sure that it was wonderful for them to be able to finally attend the various schooling and scouting and church functions with their grandkids too that they’d been missing out upon because we lived in other states! They certainly did! It worked out fine.

My Daddy and Step-Mom lived out in the country so that was fun for the kiddies. Daddy enjoyed coming into town and taking the 3 of them, or sometimes each one at a time, to do things or to go places. He even took my boys to his own barber and filled in when my daughter needed him for ‘Daddy Date Night‘. My Step-Mom always knows exactly which foods are the favorites of each family member and makes it a point to prepare everybody’s favorite. She’s kinda like ‘the cheerleader‘ of the grandbabies! Mama and my Step-Dad had moved a couple of blocks from the Elementary School so it was fun for the kids to be able to ask if they could walk to Grandma’s after school a few nights each week, where they knew that she’d have home-baked goodies awaiting! Their Great-Grandparents lived across town near the shopping area and we visited with them a few times weekly. It was a very good 4 years that we lived in that area, having all those grandparents nearby gave my kids the love and stability that had been lacking when we’d been moving around the country going from Air Force base to Air Force base!

For some reason, probably just because he’s the oldest, my Step-Dad seemed to like to teach my first-born kid lotsa stuff. Perhaps it was because he missed his own grandkids, which by now he had 4. Or perhaps it was because he reminded him of his own son at that age….they both are stubborn loveable blondes with really big eyes! My Step-Dad was a ‘tinkerer‘, always fixing or improving something, often to my Mama’s frustration. That’s how my son became his GRANDDAD’S BUDDY….my Stepdad and my boy took apart 3 junk mowers and built 1 mower rather than buying a new one. They built a model airplane and worked on other projects that always kept my Step-Dad busy. I think that sometimes he was just looking for an excuse to ‘borrow’ my kid even tho he said that he wanted to teach him something! My Mama and my Step-Dad also invited my son to watch EVERY Chicago Bulls basketball game on TV at their house, complete with carefully planned favorite snacks. My other two kids showed no interest in sports so this was a special memory for my son. He still watches basketball and is a big fan of the Chicago Bulls. He also has turned out to be a ‘tinkerer‘ too, always finding projects to work on! Yep, that’s my boy! I’m sure that my Step-Dad is watching this young man, GRANDDAD’S BUDDY, from heaven with a twinkle in his eye!

Silly Boy

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My baby boy is coming for a visit in exactly ONE WEEK!! HOORAY!!! This youngest child of mine is the one that has oddest sense of humor and always keeps me laughing. He comes up with hilarious ‘off the cuff’ remarks that somehow seem to flow effortlessly and so quickly that I’m constantly wondering how he thinks up spontaneous retorts immediately. Daily I’m saying to him, “Joey, you’re a SILLY BOY!” He has been doing this for a couple of decades, beginning as the CLASS CLOWN in elementary school. He’s never outgrown it so I reckon that it’s just a part of his personality. He’s well-liked wherever he goes, so maybe that’s the reason.

I’ve not seen my baby boy in nearly 8 months this time. Or to be more ‘family correct’, I reckon I oughta say that my BABBY BOY is visiting. I don’t even remember when or why I started calling him that but the name has stuck. Just for me though. Nobody but his Mama calls him that, but then I suppose that mothers have cutesy names for each of their children (I surely do). Come to think of it, he’s had the most nick-names throughout the years out of the 3 of my kids. I honestly don’t think that there’s been any that he’s disliked. I often call him JoeRicky, which I think is a rather cute combo of his first & middle names that I’ve never heard anywhere else. He started out as JoeJoe as a baby and had that name for several years. I accidentally called him that, I don’t why it slipped outa my mouth, last year one time while we were with plenty of other folks. I was appalled, but he didn’t even flinch! I’ve never ever even heard him say “Mama, don’t call me that in front of my friends.” I certainly CAN remember asking my own mother NOT to do so at her many ‘pet names’ for me! Imagine my dismay when my mother came 4,350 miles from her small Hoosier home to visit me at college in Honolulu and managed to get my entire coed dormitory calling me ‘Jean Bean’! Oh, the horrors! But Joey has always liked his name. When he was young, he enjoyed the fact that his name meant the same as a baby kangaroo. I used to tease him that it was probably the reason that I had to carry him everywhere! That BABBY BOY wouldn’t walk till 3 months later than his brother and sister had. In retrospect, it was probably because I DID carry him so often that he didn’t feel the need to. With his sister less than a year older than him and his brother 2 years older than her, more often than not it was just much easier to grab the young’un and go!

My family and friends have all heard me lament over the fact that it’s really very hard when the youngest child is the first to move far away. Well, it’s true nonetheless. He’s 29 and engaged to a young lady that he’s been dating for several years. But I still miss him tremendously just the same. A thousand miles from Mama is tooooo far indeed! I’m sure he’s looking forward to some of my chicken & noodles; that’s the meal that he always asks for first! We’ll go to some of the theme parks, of course. The beach is a definite MUST; everyone wants to go to the beaches. Joey usually likes to go to a beach on both coasts: the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. That’s one of the positives of living in the middle of a long peninsular state. We’re a bit more than an hour from either coast plus we have passes to SeaWorld and Busch Gardens. Naturally we’ll go to DisneyWorld since those are free for us. He and his sister and a friend are wanting to go to Universal Studios annual ‘Halloween Horror Nights‘ but they can definitely leave this old Mama out of that one!

I’m looking forward to taking photos. My other 2 children live here in this area within 5 miles so maybe I’ll get a few great group shots of ‘my little family’. But as for my SILLY BOY, as seen in the photo above….we just never know what kinda mischief he’ll get into when I get ready to take his picture! Another example: last year at Magic Kingdom, an instant before I was to snap his photo in front of Belle’s fireplace, he quickly curled himself up INTO Belle’s fireplace! Aaahhh, JoeJoe my BABBY BOY always likes to keep us guessing….and laughing….and smiling. He IS my SILLY BOY before, still, and probably always!

Shrimp & Grits

Shrimp&Grits

I am definitely NOT understanding why these Southerners have such a fascination with one of their favorite dishes: SHRIMP & GRITS. Separately, my tastebuds find each of these absolutely delicious. But put them together, and NOT SO MUCH! Last year I posted the following short paragraph on Facebook before after having tried this dish for the 1st time. What followed was a deluge of recipes that astounded me! Here’s what I wrote last year:

“OK, so what’s the big deal about SHRIMP & GRITS? It’s supposed to be something special in the south…..I kept avoiding it even tho I’ve been making grits for my kiddies ever since they were tots & I love shrimp in any way, shape, or form that I’ve ever eaten it. Since I’ve lived in 8 cities in Florida plus 2 cities in Georgia for a total of approximately 20 yrs., I figured maybe it’s time to finally try some of these ‘shrimp & gritstogether…..so I chose a famous restaurant & had my 1st & ONLY taste……YUCK! I’ll stick to eating them separately! So much for that particular so-called ‘southern delicacy‘!!!”

I was surprised that many of the recipes actually came from several of my northern friends! Some even came from pals overseas! And you had better believe that most of my followers that commented were extremely adamant about their LOVE of SHRIMP & GRITS! I had no idea that I’d started such a ruckus. Yes, I did indeed try many of the recipes.

Shrimp is my 3rd-favorite meat, following Salmon and Scallops. I’m a seafood-lover. I probably enjoy preparing each of these at least 2 dozen ways on a regular basis. Cheesy Grits has been a favorite of my children since they were young’uns. It can be the breakfast or lunch meal alone, or served as a side dish at supper. When we were stationed in Hawaii, I knew to pack several boxes of grits. A decade before, as a college student at Chaminade University in Honolulu, I’d been saddened to learn that no grits were to be sold on the island of Oahu. The entertainer Al Harrington (who played Dr. Ben Kokua in the original ‘Hawaii 5-0‘) used to tease in his stage show to the tourists “What…you no like our POI? Well, we Hawaiians no like your Grits either!” This delighted the Mainlanders and caused a wave of laughter and applause (every time) throughout the audience. By the way, I DID like the poi, but I never could get Al Harrington to let me make a bowl of grits for him! (he used to chat with me in Waikiki as I sold tickets to his show)

This photo is of the SHRIMP & GRITS that were my supper tonight. Yep….I’ve tried everybody’s recipes. I still don’t have a particular fondness for them and would prefer them separately! But I was gonna have Shrimp tonight anyway and my daughter was hungry for Grits so I figured that I may as well make up my own recipe and write about it!

Silly Pictures

 

Image (595)

My step-grandfather was a pleasant addition to our family when I was a child. We’d already moved to our ‘big house‘, as we dubbed it, when Gramma and Nick came for supper and I noticed her diamond ring. Of course I had to be the one to shout it out to everyone first! Since our house was brand new and my Mama had splendidly decorated it, the wedding was to be held in our home as we welcomed Nick to our family. Over the years, as we grew up, every once-in-awhile Nick would buy a new film cartridge and deem that the entire roll of film was gonna be used for ‘SILLY PICTURES’. What fun we had taking these photographs, usually to the dismay of my Gramma and Mama, who liked their pictures of all of us poised and smiling.

Nick’s name was Harold Nicoson but everybody called him Nick. I’m rather sure that, other than family members and bankers, most people were unaware that his actual first name was Harold. I grew up in a teeny-tiny town with approximately 40 houses and my Gramma and Nick were next-door neighbors. Gramma was widowed first when Grandpa Joe died. Nick and his wife Amy were very close friends with Gramma, so when Amy got sick she asked Gramma to watch over Nick. Our family lived a couple of houses away from Gramma so we were accustomed to seeing Nick on a regular basis. His wife was sweet and quiet even tho he seemed gruff but nice, always hollering at the neighborhood kids as we rode our bikes up-and-down the road. When Nick was widowed, Gramma and some of the other neighbors made sure that Nick had meals to eat, otherwise he probably wouldn’t have bothered. Gramma had an old-fashioned front porch. I remember sipping tea and eating cheese-curls (Mama didn’t allow it but Gramma did!) with my Gramma and she’d allow me to bring any of my friends that I wanted also. Sometimes Nick would join us but I usually found an excuse to leave because I thought he was grumpy. Over time he softened and we started including him in our holidays because he didn’t have any kinfolk (that we knew of at the time). My Mama and Gramma were always good about not wanting anyone to be alone on holidays. Sometime during those years, Gramma and Nick must’ve fallen in love. I certainly didn’t see it happening, but then I was a child so how would I? It took much longer than a year for our new house to be built. Then Gramma, and Nick too once they married, moved into our old house (next door, incidentally) and their 2 small houses were sold.

Nick never allowed us to call him Grandpa. That was okay, I had a fantastic Grandpa already. He lived a bit further down the road and also joined us for supper most evenings. So I felt blessed, as I know that Gramma did when she ‘got Nick‘. She always told everyone what a good man he was. With my Gramma he was very affectionate in a playful way, as well as amiable and kind. I don’t think she’d had this much FUN in either of her other marriages before! So she was finally getting to enjoy her older age and that made our family happy. He loved his 2 stepdaughters tremendously and quit being the grouch that I’d remembered, turning into an amusing, merry, cheerful step-grandfather that we loved having around! Then when all of us Grandkids had our own children….at last he allowed them to call him ‘Great-Grandpa’! And you know what? I do believe that he enjoyed that title! He and Gramma seemed to love being Great-Grandparents. During the 4-year period that my own 3 children and I lived in my Hoosier hometown (following divorce), it was an awesome experience for these 3 ‘Air Force brats‘ to stay in one place and to revel in the company of having a set of Great-Grandparents plus two sets of Grandparents living IN THE SAME TOWN!

One of Nick’s most cherished photo that he took of me is one that I am NOT particularly fond of, nor will I share it. Whenever I’d come home from college, my Gramma would make a dessert for me that was aptly called ‘Cherry Delight‘ and it was my all-time favorite. Nick totally caught me by surprise as I had the big pan in front of me and was just preparing to serve it with a big spoon. He snapped the picture in such a way that it looks as if I’m about to dig in and eat that entire thing by myself! (this was before the days of being able to ‘crop‘ photos, yet he still managed to get the picture without any of the dessert plates or any other people in it) Of course he wanted to show the photo to as many folks that he possibly could!

The photo above is probably my favorite of our SILLY PICTURES. We’re standing atop a big stump while Gramma took the photo. Usually when Gramma would take the photos of the 2 of us, the pictures weren’t as silly or as ‘adventurous’. When Nick and I took turns taking pictures of each other, it wasn’t until about a week later when the drugstore would have the roll of film developed, that the real fun would begin! That’s when Nick would often, and I do mean OFTEN, get hollered at….first by Gramma and then by my Mama….when the photos of me doing crazy stunts like climbing onto the roof via the antenna (we both got into trouble for that one!) or holding onto the same side of the fence that the big angry bull was on or rolling in the dirt of Gramma’s carefully-tended garden. Good memories nonetheless with my stepgrandfather. I’m sure he’s told his pals in heaven all about our SILLY PICTURES already! We we fortunate to have Nick in our family.

Sprinkle Cheese

 

TMNT pizza

Put this under the category ‘DID I REALLY SAY THAT’? My daughter & I tried the new Cheesy Bites Pizza for lunch at Pizza Hut. This is their latest promotion in connection with sponsorship of the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles‘ movie. This photo is of our leftovers that we’ll be taking home. Of course, my daughter’s is the portion without meat since she has a been a vegetarian for 17 yrs! Not me, I love pepperoni on my pizza. Anyway, the Parmesan cheese shaker was empty and I cannot believe that I asked the server for more SPRINKLE-CHEESE!! Good grief! How old am I again? That’s what we called it when the kiddies were little….now they’re 29, 30, & 32! We both got a good laugh outa that, so did the waitress! A slip of the tongue perhaps? Or maybe it’s ME that’s entering MY 2ND CHILDHOOD.

There aren’t many pizzas that my family DISLIKES, come to think of it. For home delivery, Papa John’s is my favorite. Mellow Mushroom is probably the yummiest in Orlando, Jacksonville, and Atlanta….so that kept us happy during our last couple of decades. My adult kiddies enjoy this all-you-can-eat cheap pizza buffet called Cici’s that I rather detest so they usually go without me! It’s popular though. Between my house and DisneyWorld there are actually more Cici’s Pizzas locales than there are McDonald’s and I find that unbelievable, plus the kids get a hefty Castmember discount. My daughter also enjoys stopping at Little Caesar’s on her way home to order pizza-to-go. I still prefer Pizza Hut. So if I’m paying for my family, then it’s gonna be Pizza Hut! However, there is a major exception. If we’re in my small Hoosier hometown then we’ll be going to Pizza King! No doubt about it!

Cheese, cheese, cheese, and more cheese please! I learned that cheese can make soooo many things much more delectable. When my children were very small and wouldn’t eat their veggies, of course I would add a bit of cheese to trick their tastebuds! They’d eat just about anything if cheese were on it or in it. I taught other parents the same ‘helpful hint’ too, also with successful results. My kiddies are now adults and do enjoy trying all kinds of cheeses and usually have a varied assortment in the fridge. I may not hear a “Thanks, Mama” but that’s okay….I take responsibility anyway!

Well, I notice that I need some more SPRINKLE CHEESE here at home, so I’d better put Parmesan-Romano cheese on my shopping list (even my ‘shopping list’ is on my phone nowadays, I’d never have guessed that a decade ago!). Nobody in the grocery store will know what I REALLY call Parmesan cheese, eh? Hmmm, maybe my daughter better not take me to Kentucky Fried Chicken….I might absent-mindedly order ‘chicken-with-a-handle‘ (what the kiddies called drumsticks)!!! Oh, and by-the-way, that new pizza at Pizza Hut was yummy!

Easter Loneliness

Easter Kids

 

I certainly didn’t anticipate having an overwhelming sense of loneliness on this Easter Sunday, but the day unfolded that way anyhow. The kids are all working today; the tourists don’t care if it’s a holiday or not so the theme parks are gonna be ‘business-as-usual’. My two oldest kids and my daughter-in-law work at the so-called ‘Happiest Place on Earth’ so I’m sure that they are making Magical Memories for folks from all over the globe, while my youngest son is in Pennsylvania showing whatever movies are popular on this particular weekend while his fiancee spends the day with her family. Today is the day that my Mama is meeting her very first Great-Grandbaby so I’m pretty sure that she’s having the most fun of all! One of my brothers is spending his evening at Medieval Times in Chicago. Seems an odd choice for Easter but today also happens to be his daughter’s birthday and that was her choice of entertainment this year! My other brother is undoubtedly spending time with his family.

Last night we had an early Easter dinner at our house, just the four of us that live here in central Forida: my daughter, my son and his wife, and myself. It was a pleasant evening. We enjoy ‘potluck dinners’, each of us bringing our usual favorites to share. My son has a birthday in a couple of days so we’ll go out somewhere to eat then. I enjoy both, being surrounded by my little family at the house with our favorite foods, and also getting to have the treat of going out someplace nice and letting somebody else do the cooking and serving and cleaning! I really miss my youngest son especially during these ‘family’ times though. The fun just never seems complete without ALL of them!

The photo that I’ve included is from an Easter Sunday when we were living in Ft. Walton Beach, FL and their dad was stationed at Hurlburt Field. The kiddies were ages 4, 5, and 7 at the time. It was fun getting them dressed up for church but they didn’t stay clean for very long! That’s probably one of the reasons that this is one of my favorite photos….because they’re all smiling at the same time plus they’ve not yet dirtied their clothes. I miss those days, even though I did 3-5 loads of laundry daily!

When I was young, Easter dinner was quite the big event. After church we would have a huge dinner at our house or Gramma’s or my Aunty’s (the three of them took turns each holiday) and would include my brothers and I plus my eight cousins. There’d always be an Easter egg hunt, which was usually won by my cousin Ronnie or my brother Alan. The feast was always delicious and plentiful and marvelous. That’s because my Mama and Gramma and Aunty have always been the World’s Best Cooks! Holidays in my childhood were fantastic and among the best of my memories. I’ve always tried to instill holiday traditions within my own little family but we’ve usually lived far from my kin and cozy hometown where I grew up so I’ve had to make our memories more ‘portable’, as we moved from Texas to Hawaii to Florida to Indiana and back to Florida, then to Georgia and now back to Florida again. My kids have had more than two dozen homes. I’d only had two until I left for college! I really miss having the large family get-togethers but am glad that I get to keep in contact with all of my cousins anyway.

My Easter loneliness is about to come to an end….all of this reminiscing has brought joy to my heart and a smile upon my face. Now it’s nearly time for my darling daughter to arrive home from work. On Sundays she drives the special Wild Africa Trek at Disney’s Animal Kingdom so I look forward to hearing what cute little ‘critter stories’ she has to share today!

“Boy Hungry”

Jerry-age 3

It’s been nearly 32 years since the 1st time I gave birth. Even tho I didn’t think so at the time….the nurses exclaimed that it was a simple and relatively easy delivery. Of course I thought they were nutso, as I suppose most women that were experiencing labor pains would; but in hindsight I suppose that 2 hours of labor could’ve been much worse. I certainly wanted to kick the butts of those well-meaning nurses that told me that I’d soon forget the pain when my newborn would be laid into my arms. Well, that was certainly NOT TRUE! Not true at all….I’ve never forgotten the pain. Yes, it was worth the pain; but the memory of it does not go away. Nor does the memory of that teeny tiny little fella trying to nurse as I was learning to breast-feed him. For the next several months he was constantly a hungry boy!

My 1st child wasn’t much of a talker. He spoke so few words that we were concerned enough to have Speech testing done at the U.S. Air Force clinic at the base where hubby was stationed. After several visits to the Speech Pathologist, tests including x-rays and ultrasounds and even putting mirrors down his throat, it was determined that there wasn’t any physical reason that he wasn’t talking. The doctors said that he probably just wasn’t ready! This was frustrating because he was now 3 and his year-old sister was already putting together complex sentences. Of course he understood everything; that wasn’t at all the problem. When he did speak, for some reason he referred to himself in the 3rd person….ALWAYS. I haven’t any idea where he got this from or why he did this. It was kind of funny but at the same time NOT something that I wanted to encourage. So instead of using his own name, he called himself ‘Boy’. Several times daily he came to me and said: “Boy hungry” or “Boy thirsty” or “Boy need potty”! At least he WAS talking a bit and his Speech teacher told us to encourage even this small amount.

About a year later his speech SUDDENLY improved as though he just woke up one morning and decided that it was time that he had a lot to say! It’s 3 decades later and he still talks constantly. I’m not kidding; I’m very serious! From the moment he wakes up in the morning until his head hits the pillow at night, my oldest child talks and talks. His wife would surely agree!

Over the years, we’ve often teased him with “Boy hungry” at times. Of course, there have also been occasions when he was trying extra hard to get himself invited over for a meal (he lives 5 miles away) if his wife was working the evening shift at her resort or some other reason….so he’d use the old “Boy hungry” excuse on me too because he knows that it always puts a smile on my face!

As an example, tonight when he called….he wanted to know what sort of plans were being made for his upcoming birthday next week. Obviously he wants to go out to eat! Not surprisingly, this ‘hungry boy’ works in the Food Service Industry, as a trainer at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, and has luckily managed to remain at a healthy weight. During his two days off, he’s usually baking ‘goodies’, constantly trying to invent new recipes….all of which I get to ‘sample’! Anyway, his wife is off of work the day of his birthday and they have out-of-town plans for that day. But the following day is his other day off and he is really really REALLY hinting at wanting his Mama to take him out to eat too. Even tho he’s gonna be 32, and nobody knows him like his Mama, I am wondering if this boy HONESTLY thinks that his hints are subtle?!?! Finally, I stop his prattle and say, “Awwww, what’s the matter? Is Boy hungry?” We laugh. I love these memories and I love this Boy, my first-born!