Monday, February 22, 2010


Hello, friends! It's my turn to host the photo challenge this week. I would love for you to pop over and check out my post....Treasured.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Julie & Julia (and me)

Earlier this year I joined a reading challenge hosted by C.B. James at Ready When You Are, C.B.  I signed up for four books and movies for 2010. My record of completing book challenges is pretty sketchy....well, none actually....but I'm determined to see it through, even if I bore all of you to tears. So here goes.

I'm pretty sure that reviews of  Julie & Julia and 'Julie & Julia' have inundated cyberspace since the release of the book and, subsequently, the movie. Most of you have read and/or watched it, so none of this will be news to you. Feel free to go on your merry way...I won't be hurt. Well, not too much anyway.

Julie Powell was drowning in a pit of government bureaucracy as a temp for an agency dealing with proposals for the 9/11 memorial site. Mostly she answered phone calls from irate/depressed/crying/nutjob citizens who required having their two cents heard by someone...anyone. Needless to say, this job was bringing Julie down.

After visiting her parents in Texas, Julie brought home a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. Her brainchild was conceived.

What if she made all 524 recipes in 365 days? Annnd, what if she wrote about it in a blog? (Blog? What the heck's a blog?)  Julie's perception that doing this could redeem her flotsam/jetsam life and make it worthwhile is the core of the book. That she does it with laugh-out-loud, gut-busting humor in a kitchen that would fit inside one of JC's pantries is a delight. Julie doesn't spare any of the gory details, either in the kitchen, or in her personal life which suffers in a year filled with emotional ups and downs.

The movie was wonderful. I love Amy Adams, and she made Julie's character a little less dark and a lot perkier (well, Amy is perky) and sweeter. The book is much, shall we say, earthier (is that a word?) than the movie, but I thought the film stayed fairly true to the written word which is unusual in Hollywood.

The main event for me was Meryl Streep's spot-on portrayal of Julia Child. She brought so much humanity and warmth to the icon that is Julia. The romance between Julia and Paul (the delicious Stanley Tucci) was touching and real and if Meryl doesn't win the Academy Award, it will be highway robbery. (Sorry, Sandra, you know I love you, but you also know I'm right!)

Unfortunately, about halfway through the book, I googled Julie Powell, and I wish I hadn't. Revelations about her personal life almost made me put it down for good, but I picked it back up and it just happened to be during the lobster-murdering part. I was so grossed out, but laughing hysterically at the same time, and I knew that I had to continue reading. And I'm glad I did. If you haven't already, you'll be glad you did, too.

Monday, February 15, 2010

My sister, my friend

(Before I came along)

She was nine years old when her baby sister was born. Until that day, she had been the baby of the family. So it wasn't unexpected that she would be a little jealous of the newcomer. She tells me that I was like a baby doll to her and our older sister. That when I came into her life she had to quit piano lessons (but that she was secretly glad). My earliest memory of us together was asking for a drink of water (I was too little to reach the hand pump in the farmhouse kitchen, much less make the water come out of it). Mom was too busy to get it for me and asked my sister to do it. She did...and then she poured it down the front of my dress. I cried of course, and I think she got yelled at....or smacked...depending on how loudly I caterwauled. My sister also liked to tickle me until I cried, gasping for mercy from her devilish hands. I think she enjoyed every minute. Paybacks in her mind?

I was the spoiled rotten baby. My mom was thirty-nine years old when I was born and worn out from a life of hard times and harder work. My dad was almost sixty-three. We were his second family. My second clearest memories are when I was about five or six. Being a brat, I'm sure I deserved many a spanking, but I always ran to Daddy and he would say, "Now don't you whip that baby." This had to be frustrating to my sisters and my mother, to say the least, because I got by with murder. But they had a plan. When Dad would leave and I misbehaved, my sisters would chase me as I ran away from them around the house. One would go one way, and the other the opposite direction and trap me between them. Then I would get a much-deserved spanking. I don't remember it hurting very much, but I must have screamed like a banshee. On the other hand, they also protected me from our mean old rooster, without regard for getting flogged themselves.

(Mom, me, my sister)

When I was almost seven, I remember there was a lot of crying going on in our house. My sister, our mother, even our dad. Daddy begged her not to marry her boyfriend...that he was no good. But she was "in trouble", and more than likely she wanted to get away from home and work. She got married on her sixteenth birthday, standing in our aunt's house while our uncle said the words over them. I would like to report that it all worked out, but Daddy was right. He was a very good judge of character. In those days, you stuck it out in a bad marriage, and she did for ten long years and with three little kids. Without enough education, it was hard to see a way out.

After our dad died, Mom and I were living in a small house in the small village where we had moved when Dad got sick and they sold the farm to my brother. My sister and her family moved next door to us. I hated it! I had to help with the kids and she was always bossing me around. My favorite sentence was "You're not my mother!"  Of course I deserved everything she tried to do to rein me in. I was ten and running all over town on my bicycle, staying at my friends' houses, hardly ever coming home except to eat. Poor Mom! What I did to her she never let on to me. She was worried to death about finances. She didn't drive, didn't have a job and we had very, very little to live on. She took in laundry and ironing to bring in a little extra money. And none of our family was in any position to help out, especially my sister. She was in almost the same boat herself.

Then there were big changes. Mom met a recent widower, married him shortly thereafter, and we moved to the country. In a few more years, my sister finally got enough courage to leave her husband. She eventually remarried; well, more than once.

Her second husband taught her the pizza business and she is still making and selling pizzas today. And they're darned good, too!

(Taken in 1975)

Her third husband taught her to never "look for love in all the wrong places."

Her fourth and last husband is the "finally" one. Finally, she found someone who treats her with the respect and love and caring that she deserves. And yes, she more than deserves it.

She's a smart business owner and a talented artist. She loves dogs, especially Yorkies. She loves Elvis and saw him twice in concert and still has all his albums. She likes to drive fast (all of us Jenkins siblings do!). She has a green thumb and grows the most beautiful roses. She hates winter and loves living in Florida. She's been rich and she's been poor, but she always treats people the same. She's a straight never have to wonder what she's thinking or if she's being honest with you. She's a hard worker and doesn't cut any slack for anyone who isn't. Her loyalty is fierce, but if you lie to her, watch out.  She shares our mother's birthday...thirty years 22 years gone. She can be tough; but she's also very sentimental and cries at the drop of a hat. She gives the best hugs.

From being my nemesis when I was a little girl (only a few times) and the scourge of my life (my perception) when I was a teenager, she became my best friend, one of my staunchest allies, a shelter when the tragedies of life seemed too big to overcome. I hope she knows that I love her with all my heart.

(Judy in 2008)

Happy Birthday, dearest sister, my friend.

Love, Me

(This song in no way represents our relationship other than the fact that I'm her little sister and she loves Elvis.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Susan's helpful hints

Having lived 56 years and being married for 37 of those years, I've learned a few things about things around the house.

  • Do you have a king-size mattress? Is it starting to look a little worse for wear? You can add another few years to its life by giving it a quarter turn. It's like getting a new one! It hangs over the box springs by an inch or so on each side, but when you make the bed, it doesn't show.
  • Look on the ends of your boxes of aluminum foil and plastic wraps. There's a tab to push in and lock the roll in place (don't know why waxed paper and parchment don't have them). I'm not sure how I lived 54 years without realizing this!
  • I have almost eliminated the use of paper towels in my kitchen. I have stacks and stacks of white (bleachable) bar mop towels for drying dishes and wiping up spills. For window cleaning I use microfiber cloths made for that purpose. They do a much better job than paper. There's no streaking! I use one for wiping and a clean one for drying. I can do all my inside windows with just two and then I just throw them in the wash. I even use them on the outside and for car windows and bathroom mirrors. I still use paper towels to clean up cat yack though!
  • I also use cloth napkins instead of paper. I've made a lot and whenever I find used ones at Goodwill or other thrift stores, I snap them up. I've accumulated LOTS of them. It isn't any more time-consuming to wash and fold than it is to look for them in the store. In fact, they're great for kids to fold.
  • Did you know that grocery bags aren't the only ones that are recyclable? You can recycle any plastic bag that your finger will easily poke through. Dry cleaning bags, produce bags, and newspaper bags are just a few examples.
  • To keep baked goods from drying out, place a slice of bread in the container. It will extend the life of your cookies, brownies and muffins.
  • You will never have to throw out hard brown sugar again, if you have a Brown Sugar Bear. Actually, at Lehman' they come in several different shapes. They're made of terra cotta and you just soak in water for 15 minutes. Then place it in an airtight container with your brown sugar and it stays pliable and moist for months. Note: I put a piece of waxed paper between the disk and the sugar to keep the disk clean.
  • Making your fresh produce such as lettuce, parsley, etc. last longer in the fridge is as easy as 1.2.3.  1.) As soon as you get home from the grocery or farmer's market, wash the produce.  2.) Shake off excess water and wrap gently in a non-terry kitchen towel [I like linen, but cotton works well, too].  3.) Return to produce bag and place in crisper drawer of refrigerator. Parsley especially will last a couple of weeks. Dampen the towel every few days and pull out any yellowing pieces.
  • Do a lot of your recipes call for 2 tablespoons of something or other? Save yourself some time and get a coffee scoop that holds 1/8 cup which equals 2 tablespoons.
  • Speaking of scoops, ice cream scoops come in many sizes and they make great, perfectly-portioned cookie scoops.
  • If you don't already have one, get a 6-inch whisk. They're perfect for making a sauce in a small pan when a regular one is too large.
  • I use my citrus reamer all the time. I can't squeeze lemons because of the carpal tunnel and arthritis, so this works great for me. I use the reamer over a measuring cup holding a small strainer. Quick and easy.
  • Clothespins work just as well as bag clips and they're a lot less expensive. Get wooden ones as the plastic ones tend to slip on plastic bags.
  • Cut brownies with a plastic knife. It won't stick and drag. You come out with clean cuts every time.
That's all for today, bloggy friends. If you already knew all of these, then my hat's off to you!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sweet Sassy Molassy!

Things sure have changed in a few short weeks. I caught Sassy and Frankie hanging out together in my rocking chair by the bay window just soaking up some sun. Frankie and Tobey love chasing and being chased by our new resident. They're getting a lot more exercise than they usually get during the winter months.

Did you notice Sassy's right ear? Don't tell her, but it's a little shorter than the other one. She doesn't seem to mind. She's also missing about an inch of her tail. It looks kind of cute in its stubby way.

Shhh...Tobey and Frankie didn't want me to tell you, but they kind of like the new girl. They even give her baths sometimes. It'll be our little secret.