Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shopping at Safeway

When we were newlyweds in 1970, my budget for the weekly groceries was $10. I shopped at Safeway just up the street from our apartment on Church Street. I would make my menus, then my want list. It was a limited menu; spaghetti, hamburgers, and pot pies. A lot of pot pies. They were 4 for a dollar. Oleo, we called margarine oleo, was 10 cents for a little round patty that lasted a week. Nearly 40 years of wedded bliss have passed and I can still remember standing there at Safeway’s meat counter looking at the packages. My rule was if it was over a dollar, I didn’t buy it. Sometimes I would pick up that slice of ham and it looked so good, but it was $1.04 and I would put it back and choose something else. It didn’t hurt us or make us resentful doing without. It made us smarter. Smarter about the choices we would make down the line. Making each cent count, stretching those dollars. We don’t have to pinch the pennies quite so bad these days but it’s a hard habit to break. It would be impossible nowadays to find anything to eat at the meat counter less than a dollar.

My daughters and their families face these tough times with almost no way to save on grocery bills. Coupons are of little use, the name brands cost more so you don’t save anything using them. Cooking from scratch used to save money, now I think it’s the most expensive way to cook.

I wanted to fix a nice Valentine meal for the two of us last weekend so when I went to Walmart on Friday I had made a list.
Sourdough bread
2 baking potatoes
Salad mix
I had a steak in the freezer so it was just a handful of things to buy. The bakers were 98cents a piece, the sourdough bread $3, the butter $2.54, the salad mix $2.58, tomato 75cents and the cucumber 50 cents. That came to just under $12 with tax. One meal…40 years ago that would have been a whole weeks worth of groceries. We enjoyed our steak dinner even though I did kind of ruin the romance by going on and on about the potatoes costing 98cents each.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Snickerdoodle Day

I'm going to go visit my Mom today. She lives in a nursing facility that specializes in Dementia Care. It's set up like a home with living room, dining room, kitchen, bedrooms and a nice outdoor area with a courtyard that they can come and go freely in warm weather. My Mother's move from her farm could have been traumatic, but she feels like this is home and is very secure and happy again. That means the world to me, when she reached the point that she could no longer live alone, Windcrest provided her the safe home she needed. It's a close-knit little group of 16 ladies who share their lives daily and have become family. I love each one of them and look forward to my visits not only with Mom but with the other ladies as well. I take cookies or cupcakes once a week to feed my Mom's sweet tooth! Today I made Snickerdoodles from Paula Deen's The Lady and Son's Cookbook. It's an easy recipe that always is a hit!

Snickerdoodles...Two Ways Printable Recipe
Yields Approximately 4 Dozen
1 cup Crisco...I use Butter Crisco (I'm Southern!)
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar (the 2 tablespoons are to make the cinnamon sugar)
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar and the eggs. Sift together flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Combine with egg mixture and chill dough thoroughly. Roll into balls the size of a walnut. Roll in mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon. Bake for 8-10 minutes on ungreased baking sheet until lightly browned but still soft.*Ok, here's the two way part...I love cinnamon so I add 2 teaspoons cinnamon to the dough (along with the other dry ingredients) and then roll in the cinnamon sugar just like the recipe says.

Cream the Butter flavored Crisco, sugar and eggs until light and fluffy. This is my new KitchenAid mixer that my darling husband surprised me with Christmas Now he's always been a great gift giver, but I think this ranks near the top of all my gifts! I feel a little guilty receiving it, I rarely bake anything for us. It seems we are on a FOREVER diet these days. But I do bake for Mom and the Ladies and holidays when our daughters and their families come home.

Add the sifted dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and chill thoroughly.

Paula Deen's recipe says roll the balls the size of a walnut, but I like to use my little ice cream scoop so the cookies may be a tad bigger. Roll them in the mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Again the recipe says to bake 8-10 minutes on ungreased baking sheet, but I bake 12 minutes (because of the slightly larger size) until lightly browned but still soft. They will crisp as they cool.

Don't they look like little scoops of vanilla ice cream? I saw this idea of using a small ice cream scoop (I found mine at Walmart) on Food Network. It sure makes quick work of making cookies. While I am on the "Good Idea Train," my neighbor Sharon told me her Mom used to make a batch of cookies and refrigerate the dough, baking them a dozen at a time. You know how good they are fresh from the oven and seem more special than cold ones from the cookie jar. Husbands need to smell cookies baking anytime you have had a busy afternoon at Tuesday Morning...

Here's the ones I took to Mom and the Ladies. The Ladies baked a cake this week, they stirred it up and all helped to decorate the top. I appreciate the care and dedication of all of the ones who work so hard to keep my Mom happy and safe.

These I took to our good neighbors who checked on me during the recent ice storm, brought us Valentine cupcakes, and watch to make sure I put my garage door know who you are!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Turn Around

Our Grandson Ewan Theodore turned two on Sunday. He’s learned a lot in that short time, the love of his Mom and Dad at the top of that list. That he can count on them to feed him when he’s hungry, comfort him when he’s hurting and provide everything that he needs. That’s probably the most important lesson we learn as children and we can count ourselves lucky if we have two parents who provide that stability. The importance of family is set by good example. The bedtime story, the good-morning wake-up…these are the things that your children carry with them into adulthood. It’s the little things that count.

We always read to Ewan’s mommy at bedtime. She loved her storybooks and could read at an early age. Books were an important part of her childhood. It’s not the expensive toys they will remember, but the quiet times and special touches that linger in our children’s memories. Let them know how special they are to you every day.

Make memories that become tradition in your family…

Have a pizza night (or their favorite meal).

Take the phone off the hook and work on a jigsaw puzzle or play Monopoly.

Tuck a loving or encouraging note inside a lunch bag.

Buttered toast, hot soup and ginger ale, served in bed when they are sick.

Breakfast in bed for a special day.

Picnics by the fireplace on a cold evening.

Picnics in the backyard or neighborhood park.

Plant and tending a vegetable garden together.
Take walks and bike rides together.

Celebrate half-birthdays.

Make cookies with them.

Make photo ornaments every Christmas.

And then keep going...

For memory’s sake make note of each school year, all the special occasions and pretty ordinary times too, getting grandparents, relatives, friends and neighbors in the act as well. Write an annual birthday letter detailing the ups and downs, laughable moments, special occasions, turning points, memorable conversations, saving them in a memory box with other mementos. Every year start a new box and fill it with drawings, writings, notebooks and of course pictures. By graduation you and your child will have stacks of memories waiting for you!

Get into scrap-booking, pasting in photos, corsages, greeting cards, even a lock or two of hair, thus offering a special stroll down memory lane in later years. Keep snapping away, collecting photos of yourself and your family, relatives and friends through the years so that you’ll have a record of your lives to treasure—and work on the scrapbook together.

Grab a tape recorder or video camera and make a “living” record of your days together, including interviews with grandparents and great-grandparents, and other family members.

This way, your children will never have to wonder what they were like when little or how you spent your days together. Like a time capsule, your family’s memories will be right there at their fingertips!

Nana and Papa love you very much Ewan!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Can you see how thick the ice is on the branches? This was the following morning, no power and no phone. The house is so quiet without Good Morning America, I'm beginning to get "Cabin Fever" already! I did have the presence of mind to brew two pots of coffee yesterday and one is still warm in the carafe. Over the holidays I had bought a new fondue pot with sterno fuel so this will be my only means to hot food over the next couple days. I decided to make oatmeal, maybe a hearty breakfast would keep me full longer. I added butter, brown sugar and banana...feeling very proud of myself for being so resourceful! Immediately I realized eating out of the same pot would eliminate the dish problem (no hot water) and I was beginning to feel a little bit like a pioneer!

Mr. Big came back, hungry and looking at me with his begging brown eyes! It's about 8 degrees this morning so I looked around the kitchen for more junk food, this time vanilla wafers and caramel popcorn left over from Christmas sounded good to this little fat squirrel. He eats the sweets first, then the shelled corn in his cast iron dish!

In the afternoon the trees were bent with the weight of the ice. There was an errie creaking as they began to bend and break. This Red Oak limb was the first to fall, followed by many others down into the woods. The sky was sending sleet in the form of small icicles for most of the day and into the night. When it was all over we had 3 inches of ice on the ground and trees across the Ozarks were split apart with the weight. I kept my radio on for news and I had my cell, but really things came to a complete stop. You couldn't drive, stores closed, even emergency vehicles were stopped by all the downed trees and power lines. My local radio station took call ins from people in distress, an 83 year old lady who had a power line across her fence and unable to feed her horses. Later I learned that the radio station sent an employee out to throw the bales of hay over to the horses. Some guy with a great sense of humor called to say he had stocked up for the storm, had dry wood to burn and a pot of beans on the stove...and he hadn't called for a bailout from the government or assistance from FEMA! We are a hardy bunch here, able to figure out our problems and pull together in a crisis. The kindness of neighbors, the hard work of the linemen who braved the bitter cold days and nights on end; we each have a strength in us that we don't know exists until pressed. My Dad used to call it "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps", meaning getting out of a difficult situation by one's own efforts. It took the combined efforts of many to fix what Mother Nature did in just 24 hours.

Old Man Winter

A week ago we were preparing for a winter storm that was brewing. Our woods were a wonderland of ice, beautiful to look at but so very dangerous. Thick layers of slippery ice covered the roads, trees and power lines. I had stocked up on food, water and other necessities preparing to hunker down when the storm hit. It was that exciting "home from school" feeling that first day, all safe and cozy inside with the fireplace blazing and soup cooking on the stove. Ben slept snuggled on the couch and I kept the TV tuned to the weather channel, amusing myself with my favorite blogs. I watched the icy stuff coat each tree making plinking noises as it hit the decks and iced them thick just like a cake. About mid-afternoon the idyllic Little House on the Prairie feeling evaporated when the power and phone went dead.
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