Tag Archives: busy hands/happy hands

Summer drop-out

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Summer drop-out

Ho-kay; done with the dreams.  Moving on now.

summer beauty

Its summer, the time of year we follow the sun running like fools until we drop in front of the BBQ pit at 8 o’clock at night in our best imitation of Wonder Woman.  No matter it’s not dark for another hour or so, the clock is still ticking and there’s fun to be had.

crazy summer

Well this year I’m opting out.  In honor of my grandmothers’ legacies, I’m going more Southern Lady in the Shade, sweet tea in one hand, sewing needles in the other.  I’m done trying to reach marketing geniuses ideas of summer fun.  I live in south Texas where temperatures are still hovering around 100 degrees at 10:30 at night. Nuff said.

 

Climate change or cyclical anomalies, whatever, never seem to be factored into TV commercials; and it’s a crying shame manufacturers are trying to sell uncontrollable joy and the ultimate outdoor gladiator experience in this kind of heat.

Greed is the sweaty little merchandise king with the leather whip driving this maniacal ship, and I want off!

I’m headed back inside my tortoise shell with the air blasting.  I’m going to OD on Discovery ID Crime and Food Network Cooking shows.  I’m going to sew until Charlotte, my Bernina, screams.  I’m going to quilt until my fingers bleed.  I’m going to make about 1,000 salads and learn my way around Cool Whip cakes and Jello Fluffs.

I’m not going to try to keep up with anyone.

keeping up with summer fashion

I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

aunt bea whatever look

I’m pulling the plug on social politeness.

dont cross me

Stand back girls, I’m going in!

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A New Chapter in an Old Book

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A New Chapter in an Old Book

Heelllooo!  Having circled the drain for months, I am back as strong and stubborn as a Borax and liquid Dawn resistant stained shower stall!

dirty shower stall

 

Let me start by saying I’ve absolutely NO intention of returning to health-worry purgatory ever again!  As miserable as it’s been, I must admit I have learned a great deal about myself, and others, while suspended in the goo of uncertainty amidst approximately a million gloom-and-doom predictions from a team of expert bearers of bad news. 

grim reaper

 

I won’t try to fib here; it wasn’t easy trying to find a way to turn this level of manure into something less offensive, but long story short, we did it, and almost as soon as we did, we discovered Rich DOES NOT have ALS, in spite of about a million and one contradictory diagnostic indicators, and a million and two test results supporting that miserably serious contention, and about a million and three earnest specialists working diligently to prepare us for the fact that he did.

 

And, oh by-the-way, that coronary artery of mine, the one the cardiologist punctured during a stent insertion three days before Rich’s tentative diagnosis, is healing nicely now, and every day I feel a little more like my old self, (except that now I’m living 100% in the world according to itty).

burst pipe

 

When the whole drama began I was living life through a lovely filter, and during the Four Month Wars I came to appreciate the benefits of having chosen to do so many years ago.  Throughout the ordeal, I successfully fine-tuned the comforting perimeters of my mental Mayberry existence by using the greater world’s insensitivities and arrogances that spin like tornados as motivation.

 

Surprisingly, I discovered real peace in the horrible truths that scalded Rich and I almost daily, realizing and embracing there was nothing, absolutely nothing that anyone could say that could change the time we spent together.  Whether time is spent playing or meeting the physical needs of one another, it remained time spent together.

 

There are consequences to every life lesson, and Rich and I have emerged with a short  list of Things to Do resulting from this slight twist in our path through life, (and beyond), together.

loving old couple

 

Morgan, our granddaughter who lives with us, is moving into an apartment on her university’s campus to finish her senior year, and Rich and I are down-sizing for an eminent move to Texas where our children are waiting with open arms.  Morgan will join us all later, doing her graduate work there.

 

I am so excited to get to share this new adventure with my readers!  I’m even more excited about life in general these days.  Back on the home front, Aunt-Bea-Me is comfortably sitting on half of the double recliner, rose-colored-lenses in place, the Food Network murmuring softly in the background, as she compiles a list of details necessary to pull off yet another glorious life-style change.

 

In the kitchen for tonight, a new diabetic friendly recipe for Orange Chicken!  And two loaves of wheat bread rising.

 

Lord-of-mercy, my friends, it’s good to be back.

 

happy face

 

Aunt-Bea-Me’s Pearl of the Day:  Sometimes it’s necessary to deafen your ears to the roar of the storm, and instead to appreciate the soft breeze slipping through imperfect window panes.

 

 

 

Waiting for Leisure to Begin

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Waiting for Leisure to Begin

I never saw Aunt Bea in a pair of fuzzy pink slippers but I’ve got to believe she owned one.  Here in domestic Nirvana, I’ve given mine a real workout of late.  These slippers are not the dainty feathery type with pointy, sharp heels, (I’m no Elizabeth Taylor), or the casual flip flop summer variety, but more an over the ankle combat boot lined with molten hot flannel wrapped in thick batting, and finished in a flurry of heavy duty fleece.

As I pad along creaking oak floors in these beauties, I’m also wearing hefty wool socks patterned with stripes, plaids, little yellow ducks,( the print doesn’t matter), because its effectiveness I’m looking for.  What I really want is a compact pair of energy efficient ovens for cold, arthritic feet, but I can’t find any anywhere in retail.

boots meant for walking

I generally love frosty weather, but this year my brain seems to have dropped the ball because my body never got the message.  As a result, I’m moving through the house with the silhouette of a Green Bay Packer, (undershirts, long johns, sweater on sweater), muddling through work that suddenly is more chore, less delight, and the sheer weight of heavy clothing is getting me down.  Now add grey, overcast sky and ice with an attitude and you can see where I am. We’ve had so many ice storms this year, I’m tempted to throw away every piece of crystal in the entire house just to get rid of any reminder of the brutes outside beating up the shrubbery, torturing naked trees, and mauling finicky power lines.

Then there’s the fact that I blew out a tire in a couple of appliances and the budget isn’t having anything at all to do with my sobbing pleas to replace them; as a result, I’ve found myself grounded to a complete halt on the frozen surface of the proverbial creek.  I might have a good case for self-pity:

Blues, despair, agony on me,   Deep, dark depression,    excessive misery.   If it weren’t for bad luck,    I’d have no luck at all.     Blues, despair,    agony on me,  (Lyrics courtesy of Buck Owens and Roy Clark for this verse of their little jingle  from Hee-Haw, circa 1969 – 1992), but I don’t think so.  If Aunt Bea wasn’t already ‘homesteading’ in earnest, she is now.

The problem with actually living life means there isn’t as much time to write about living life, so from time to time in passing, I smile at the computer, wiping a near-tear away with designer cleaning gloves, as my furry combat slippers carry me from one chore to another.

Dietary news is much brighter than what comes out of Maintenance these days, what with dark, heavy skies and flurries of flurries, I am inspired.  Soups, stews and rich warm casseroles have found their way through last season’s maze of light entrees and green salads, kicking ass and taking names.

winter squash

The cabbage looks a little droopy in the market so Rich gets a well-deserved break, but the aisles are literally bursting with colorful, mysterious looking varieties of winter squash and root vegetables!  Aunt Bea Me has tried them all, some more successfully than others, but each a winner in its own humble way.

With Rich’s A1C level hovering safely around 6, it’s good to go at our house, and both of us are eagerly awaiting the lull we plan to transform into a virtual festival of rest and relaxation!   The puzzle boxes are stacked neatly on a corner game table and the remote control is properly situated between the two sections of a double recliner we share.

puzzles boxwd

Yes, Mission Control is a-buzz with anticipation as these two old space cadets giddily wait for leisure to begin.

mission control

Unfortunately, to this point, by the time the day’s work is semi-complete, neither has the energy for lift-off.  And although it’s not exactly the scenario either had imagined, it still beats the pants off anything we had before we teamed up.

hands holding hands

Happy New Year, my friends, and may the Force be with you. 

The Agony and Angst of Competition: Cupcake Wars

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this is war baby

I’m a huge fan of the television reality show Cupcake Wars, so when our local bakery, Fat Bottom Girls, was asked to participate, I was ecstatic!  Actually, no one in town except the girls at the bakery even knew about it for the longest time, apparently like most wars, details are illusive, very hush-hush.  But when an airing date was finally announced, Aunt-Bea-Me did a little happy dance in the middle of her kitchen and then bounced to the laundry room to mark the calendar.

Well, I can tell you, the weeks drug on and on, my anticipation growing proportionately; and when the viewing date was so close I could almost taste one of Fat Bottom Girls Salted Caramel cupcakes burst in my inner mouth, I visited their cute, little pink bakery on Central for luck.

I’ve always heard that Hollywood was fickle, and now I can attest to that truth, because on that late day, mid-summer, I was shocked and disappointed to find that the Food Network contacted the Girls to let them know their show had been postponed, a future reschedule date to be announced some time later.

Well, I never….

The harshness of the outer world was mind-boggling.  Here in small town Arkansas, a person is only as good as his word, or the goodies she bakes, so a complete change in war strategies and rules came as a hard blow, shaking my faith in the entertainment world quite a bit.  But like any confident woman, Aunt-Bea-Me knows the true value of a Tim Gunn “Make it work” moment, so I made a plan that would facilitate another mandatory adjustment to change.

In true warrior style, I attacked the challenge using hands on combat, (baking therapy), to hasten and ensure a complete recovery, inventing cupcake after cupcake, each sugar free and more than a trifle dry or redundant.  But like any good soldier, I was steadfast in my determination and committed to the task ahead; that’s when the moist, delicious sugar free Banana Cream Cupcake with Cranberry Compote and Light Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting was born.  This cupcake was a hero!

It wasn’t long after the Sugar Free Banana Cream Cupcake with Cranberry Compote and Light Fluffy Cream Cheese Frosting culinary success had led me to recovery from Hollywood’s brutal betrayal, that an announcement went out that our own Fat Bottom Girls had, at last, been rescheduled for national debut!

Will they win or will they go down in flames alongside countless other cupcake geniuses?  I can only guess because that whole war secrecy code thingy is still in full force, in spite of set backs and betrayals.  But pretty soon we will all know!

Turn into the Food Network tonight, Saturday, December 7th, at 7 pm central standard time, and find out!  You can bet your best apron Aunt-Bea-Me will be watching alongside her best friend-husband, Rich, in their basic beige love seat recliner!

 

 

Victorious and Bragging after Yesterday’s Yard Sale Marathon!

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salt and pepper has its consequences

 

Need I say more?

This is my favorite find from yesterday’s Yard Sale Adventure!  A family argument immortalized in salt and pepper ceramic art!  I think it’s classic, and I’m counting on it to elevate my small salt and pepper shaker collection to near-great status.

On another note, Aunt-Bea-Me received a nomination from the Empathy Queen today for the Versatile Blogger Award! Many thanks to her Empathetic Highness for the gracious nod.  ( I  hear IttyMac is celebrating at her house too since she’s been nominated for the same award!)

Now just a note to the follower who asked for my Mexican Black Bean and Corn Relish Recipe:  Thanks for asking!  I took it as a compliment!    I have to say, Aunt-Bea-Me is very bad about writing down the ingredients she is using when she’s caught up in her own creative juices, but I think she remembers this one!

Ingredients needed:

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed * 3-4 small cloves of shallot, finely minced * 1 ear fresh, uncooked corn, cut from the cob * freshly chopped Cilantro, 2 teaspoons, or to taste * juice of one fresh lime to bring it all together.  (You may substitute 2 teaspoons of bottled lime juice if needed) Start with 2 teaspoons but add a 3rd if needed *

Mix all ingredients together, letting them sit in a bowl or serving dish for a minimum of a half an hour ensuring the flavors meld well.  May be served at room temperature or chilled.  (Aunt Bea prefers it chilled.)  This Mexican Black Bean and Corn Relish is great with baked tortilla triangles, baked pita strips or baked flat bread, and sliced avocado.

Well, I’m rolling down my garters and putting my feet up while I enjoy a nice cup of Camomile and Lavender hot tea on the deck!  Here on the mountain, it’s a delightful 70 degrees today!  Aunt-Bea is in paradise, for sure.

happy face

OPPS! I accidentally erased this blog; so if the second time around is better than the first, I’m happy to re-present “Sponge Wars- an Epic Day of House Cleaning!” for your reading enjoyment.

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If they held a draft for the American Domestic Olympics today, my name would be listed in the top ten competitors having nailed Sponge Wars yesterday! In preliminary drug testing, I was clean, (unless decaf and cardiac drugs are factored into control calculations).

cleaning supplies

 

I channeled Aunt Bea’s near OCD reorganization and kitchen cleaning skills, and sporting my 50 Shades of Beige smocked apron, I was off like a shot, at 8 in the morning!   Competition broke for a quick PBJ around noon, but was back in full swing within a half hour.  The games ended at 5:30 when competitors were required by law to initiate dinner mealtime preparations.  (Spectators were bummed, but in the end, found themselves agreeing with referees on that particular call.)

I must admit, but not to Olympic officials, I had an unfair advantage over other competitors.  From somewhere in the distance, Aunt Bea emerged wearing the most adorable aqua blue printed Jersey dress, cinched at the waist with a thin silver roped belt.  I could tell the belt was silver by its dainty buckle, but the rest disappeared, dividing Aunt Bea into two distinct segments, like one grapefruit precariously balance on another.

happy face

As quickly as I recognized the sweet little old lady, I heard the word “Borax.” ( telepathically, I believe).

Borax has been used for cleaning and laundry for over 100 years.  It is a naturally occurring mineral.  I remember my mom always having a box of 20 Mule Team Borax around, but paid little attention to it.  These days, I find myself trying to find ways to cut back on spending.  The price of staying clean keeps rising, but using Aunt Bea logic, there many, many ways to keep your money while keeping a sparkling clean house.

I pay around $3.60 for a large box of Borax.  It goes into the laundry for stain and odor control as it boosts general clothes cleaning.  Using one combination or another of borax, white vinegar, Dawn dishwashing soap, and baking soda, I’ve cut out spending money on all other cleaning products, except laundry detergent and bleach.  I don’t buy shampoo or conditioner anymore either.  Shopping is simple, check-out less painful, the house is spiffy clean, and our hair is in better shape than it has ever been before.

Ca-ching!

So yesterday’s game began with borax in a bucket of water, a couple of sponges, about 6 clean rags from the rag bag, and a spray bottle of water and beach, and I was good to go!

Dinner last night was an old favorite from Marlene Koch’s first Eat What You Love book, so I flubbed up, missing my goal of trying a new recipe a day, but the kitchen was so clean and smelled fresh, it was easy to justify falling off the wagon, so to speak.

Corkscrew Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo quickly became Bowtie Chicken and Mixed Vegetable Alfredo as I used ingredients I had on hand.  Delish!

Tonight is Vegetarian night so I’m back in Marlene’s new book and going for Sautéed Cabbage, Onions and Apples.  A few ingredients in this dish include cider vinegar, caraway seeds, (which I may substitute with another kind of seed since Rich isn’t a caraway fan),  chicken broth, and brown sugar.

Nutritionally speaking, it’s 45 calories a serving.  Say what?!  In the Food Exchange it counts as 1 vegetable and ½ carb choice.  The Weight Watcher Plus Point comparison is 1 point.  The numbers on this dish are so good, I’m attempting a second untried recipe, this one straight from the American Diabetes Association.  It’s Low Fat Corn Bread and counts as 2 starches on the exchange.  At 150 calories a serving, tonight’s meal will be low calorie, but we’’ll have to wait and see if it tastes good and leaves us feeling satisfied!  (No wimpy food for Rich!)

So no Olympics today, but it is bread day and daylight’s burning, so it’s the blue gingham apron for Aunt Bea Me today!  Stay for dinner anyone?

retro-kitchen set table

 

 

Pots. Pans. Portals.

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I’m afraid I’ve accidentally opened some sort of intergalactic territorial gateway separating my little house in Arkansas, from Aunt Bea’s in Mayberry, R.F.D., (Rural Free Delivery), which exists to this day, on a distant plane, in a parallel universe.  Either that, or I’ve been possessed by Aunt Bea’s ghostly spirit who, apparently dissatisfied with the lack of need for domestic expediency in the after world, psychically picked up my vibes of admiration for her mastery levels in both familial and domestic skills.  Perhaps the pull between us was too much for time and logistical realities to ignore.  Or maybe I just quit trying to blend.

What we believe magically becomes our truth, and in my heart of hearts, I believe I am an absolute mirror reflection of Aunt Bea.  Lying in a hospital bed compiling a laundry list of Worst Case Scenarios, I decided to set my inner Aunt Bea free.  It was an idea I’d been toying around with for the last couple of years.  The challenge up until that particular point, was that I believed in order to be Aunt Bea, I needed the presence of my children.  (That darned empty nest nearly killed me.)

Morgan filled the gap from time to time, coming and going as educational realities ricocheted from Texas to Arkansas, to Texas, and back again, but the addition of a significant other, Charlie in this case, put a new spin on things at our house, and this time Rich and I held hands as we were sucked back into the tunnel of an ever-fluctuating nest.

It was a light bulb moment when I quit being afraid of all the changes that lie ahead, and effortlessly, there she was: Aunt Bea Me, giddy to continue my crazy love affair with domestic bliss!

shazam

SHAZAM!

 

Rich is taking me out to dinner tonight, so the kitchen’s closed until we sneak back in to raid the fridge for left-overs of last night’s yummy dessert!  The Heavenly Pumpkin Spice Cake was as easy to make as it was to eat, nearly orgasmic, making Aunt Bea blush.  Today she’s still smiling!

happy face