Friday, December 31, 2010

Call Me!

Ben here, it's New Year's Eve and the hoomans are what else is new? I haven't seen them much the last month. They leave me here, by myself a lot. I'm really not old enough to be left alone but they put a bowl of water out and a few crunchies and expect me to amuse myself.

To tell you the truth, it's kinda nice to be alone after last week's big blowout. The Grandkids were all here, there were toys to step over, movies and games everywhere and it was hard to catch my 40 winks. If it wasn't for the extra food and snackies I would have complained.

The hoomans have started taking down some of the Christmas stuff so I know what's next and it won't be pretty. Every year about this time they run out of money. I know this for a fact because we run out of good food. They eat salad and chicken breast and broiled fish. I just wish they would budget their money better so we didn't have to do the starvation thing every year. But no, I'm just the dog so I don't have a vote. 

I want to wish all my readers a very Happy New Year and if any of you might like a house guest the next few weeks, I'm available! Just call me on my cell...555-1212!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Quieting the Voices

I had an accident last week that involved a big ham and a crisper drawer. You guessed it, it fell from the top shelf and crashed down on the bottom crisper. Yep, it broke. I was unloading the groceries from one of my many runs to the store to stock up for the holidays. The fridge looked like we were preparing for a famine and I just kept remembering one more thing I needed. Every trip to town was another opportunity to add to the stash. While the kids were all here over Christmas, I had to move the juice to get to the milk to get the container of half and half wedged in the back left corner. Every nook and cranny was filled to the brim with cheesecake or jello salad, brisket marinating waiting to be cooked or spiral ham leftover for sandwiches. Hash brown casserole, leftover dressing, cheese balls and breakfast is a maze of bowls and containers, only I know how to find things. I would even say it's dangerous to open my fridge during the holidays!

So yesterday we went shopping for a new freezer. I'm not certain we NEED a freezer, we already have a side by side and a small chest freezer. Really it's just certain times of the year they are stuffed to the gills. Summertime and the holidays being the worst. If I try to add one more thing, the doors won't shut!

The voices in my head tell me I have to buy things that are on sale or else. I blame my Mom, she followed the same rules and when I was growing up we had two large chest freezers plus the two fridges, one in the house and the other on the service porch. It may have been a 50's thing, or a Missouri thing, or maybe it was a Depression thing. Every summer my parents would either can or freeze from the garden. Then every fall they would add a hog and a side of beef. Week by week the freezer would receive package after package of hamburger on sale, pork chops too good to pass up and roasts that begged to be taken home at 89 cents a pound!

I'm trying to be reasonable and tell myself two people do not need a large freezer. There's no chance of a famine anytime soon predicted for NW Arkansas. My grocery stores are open 24 hours a day so I could get my hands on a ham or a brisket or a turkey anytime I need one. For right now, I'm able to put a muzzle on the VOICES!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I had a GREAT time at Grandmas!

Grand and Great, Ewan is both of those things to Mom and I! Our visit to Great Grandma Risley was a treat for all of us. Jamestown is Mom's home now and they make it feel like Grandma's house in many ways. While we were there, Ewan looked at her Christmas cards, rode around on her lap and even had some lemonade and a little snack. I wish he had been here last week when Santa made a special stop at Jamestown's Christmas Party. As much like any family gathering I had ever attended, there were dozens of families who were joining with loved ones. The staff prepared a feast for us...cakes, cookies, candies...sandwiches, appetizers and even a chocolate fountain! We were entertained with Christmas carols and HuLa Dancing...the many children that were there to visit Grandmas and Grandpas were THRILLED when SANTA made his surprise visit with lots of presents for the residents. Nursing homes are changing for the better. So many now make a concentrated effort to provide a home atmosphere with quality health care. If you haven't visited a dear Aunt or Great Grandma yet, there's still time to wish her a Merry Christmas with a special visit. Make the time to go, it will brighten your day and theirs!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Sad and Blue

I'm a little lost today, the kids went back to Texas and the house is so dang quiet I can hear the clock ticking. As tired as I am I should appreciate the quietness, but it's a lonely "it will be 6 months before we see them again" feeling in the pit of my stomach. Ewan adds to the tummy ache when he says "I love you Nanny" and wants me to come home with them...three is just the cutest age! The cousins had the bestest time ever getting acquainted and playing with cars and Iphones! Jackson and Ewan are 13 years apart, but you can see in this picture they were having fun!

I'm going to leave the trees up until after New Year's Day, I always hate to take down the decorations. It makes the house look so plain and nothing is sparkly anymore! The transition from the holidays to the reality of at least 3 more months of cold bleak weather is enough to get me down if I let it. Along the way we'll have some snow and ice to add a little excitement to the days though! I've been watching for Walmart or Target to put their sleds out. Our Texas Grandson's have never had the pleasure of sledding so I sure want them to be prepared. Last week when I went into town I stopped at our local Ace Hardware Store, Garners and sure enough...there they were, a big stack of blue, orange and lime green "saucers." Ready and waiting for the first snowfall of the season, I bought 2, so we are prepared!

Hubby is off this week so we are planning a few fun things and some naps to get our batteries recharged! It's been pretty hectic here on Granny Mountain so blogging has taken a back seat. I have lots of pictures to share, they are in the camera....setting on the counter at Grandmas! You can see my brain needs a few days to recover...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Present for ME!

I received a present in the mail, the gift card I won from
So excited... $100 to spend on something special! It's that time of year when I see a million things I LOVE, then re-focus and tell myself I need to shop for others.  When I found out I was the lucky winner, I asked Hubby to look over Macy's website with me, choosing something we'd both enjoy. After a few minutes of Internet shopping he said, "You just pick something you like, I'll love it too." He's a KEEPER!

There are lots of things I think I'd like. This has been on my Wish List for awhile, just not certain where I'd put it in my tiny kitchen.

A new handbag is another great idea! But I have one under the tree waiting for me to open already...

One of the new flat surface chargers would be nice. I run around with a DEAD phone half the time!

I'm leaning toward a new set of flatwear. Practical, can be enjoyed a LONG TIME and shiny...yep, think I will order these today! Go over to visit Jacqueline  for some EYE CANDY and while you're there, be sure and tell her how nice you think she is for the wonderful giveaway!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

New and Improved

Well, here's the new furniture. After all the searching we bought the same color, the main difference is that the new sofas have reclining seats. We are really loving that feature!

The tree in the living room has the "Joke Gifts," the ones that are so fun to buy! This year there's all kinds of good finds, one actually alongside the road. The rules of the joke gifts are thrift store, garage sale, re~gift or even better...dumpster diving!

I have a busy week ahead of me with a couple parties, baking and candy making.

The woodland bears are ready though, they have Santa's Box full of fun things for Ewan! Old fashioned toys like tic tac toe and paddle ball. I'm betting he likes the slide puzzle the best, at only 3 he's a number boy...very schmart! 

Blogging has to take a back seat to all of the activities right now, I appreciate the fact that some of you aren't lolly gagging like me and are busy posting great recipes for me to try over the holidays. In fact, I'm looking at them right now and planning my menus!

Monday, December 20, 2010


This time of year my heart begins to swell when I think of the blessings in our lives, family and good health at the top of my list. We live in a small town and even now are protected somewhat from the cruel realities of the World. Until you open your eyes and see there are those who are hurting right now.

We have one, yes only one homeless man that we see around town. He pulls a little grocery cart, like the ones our Grandmothers used to carry their groceries home from the neighborhood store. I see him and my heart goes out to his plight. I don't know how he reached this point, maybe a broken heart or a broken spirit. He's the age that he could very easily be a Viet Nam Veteran. Or maybe life just hasn't been as kind to him. 

This week as I baked cookies for neighbors, mailmen and the many who care for my Mom at Jamestown... I kept thinking about him. I wondered who he had in the world that he should be spending Christmas with? If he still had his parents, if he has brothers or sisters that he once shared the joys of the Season.

One little box of cookies and he wasn't hard to find, he's usually on the corner of Poplar and 8th. Reaching out felt good. His name is Mark.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Simple and Sweet

~Illustrations by Susan Branch~
I'm glad there's a list to follow with directions clear and plain how to improve the quality of my life. Daddy always called such things "Horse Sense," but sometimes when it's down in BLACK & WHITE we pay attention!

It's 5 sleeps, 15 hours and 38 minutes until Christmas Eve and all across the world we are planning our menus. Susan Branch cookbooks are among my favorites simply for the art alone, but her outlook on life lifts me up! She remains a child in her heart even though the outside is all grown up and in my case...may be getting a little wrinkly!

Her Christmas cookbook is my favorite, chocked to the brim with glad tidings and happy's a primer on how to have Happy Holidays. Recipes galore, I'm hard pressed to say there is a favorite but maybe this one...

Simple and sweet, it makes you smile! No matter what you make this week, if it's someone's favorite then you are following Susan's rules...
From the Heart!

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Forever Friend?

My SISTER-in-law is thinking about getting a dog. Just thinking...not sure...I'm trying to convince her it's a good idea....I think. It's no secret that we love our Ben. He was a rescue, years ago to heal our daughter's broken heart. He came into our life skinny and neglected, and within a week he was sleeping on our couch and I was preparing breakfast for him to order!

Terry said she doesn't want to turn into one of those people who talk about their dogs like they are children. Good luck with that, in no time at all you are talking for them....
"Ben says he's hungry!"
"Ben says he wants to go for a ride in the car!"
"Ben says he wants a bite of that steak!"

He's a senior citizen now, in fact his hearing is gone but he still watches me and knows what I'm saying.
"Where's Daddy Ben?"
"Are you hungry sweetie pie?"
"Let's go for a walkie!"

Ten years and he knows our every movement. He knows when it's time for Jerry to come home, he knows
Saturday morning after coffee and paper he has a long walk. He especially knows summertime routine when we are getting ready to go out on the boat...his FAVORITE thing!

So I'm telling my SISTER-in-law it's a good idea, but it's a decision only she can make. There are vet bills and haircuts, toys and beds, leashes and collars. There are fences and gates, bowls and placemats, brushes and Kongs. There are times when you can strangle them for barking or peeing or chewing something up. But they work their way into your heart in no time just like kids. They know you as well as your spouse, and they forgive you like no human ever can. God made dogs for us to enjoy. He made them for us to care for and in turn they heal a broken heart and add so much to our lives. I'm voting "YES!" Let's hear what you think she should do....

*If you are thinking about adding a Forever Friend to your family, please visit the Humane Shelter or the many rescue groups in your community who have hundreds of pets just waiting for you!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Woodland Tree

The little woodland tree that sits in the dining room is close to being a Charlie Brown tree. Sparse and plain, with only a minimum of lights, it's my favorite of the three we put up every year. The ornaments are brown and twiggy; pine cones that Daddy picked up in the woods for me years ago, honeysuckle heart wreaths and birds of all kinds.

Sitting underneath waiting for Christmas to come are the Boyd's Bears that were Amy's when she was a little girl. The Easter Rabbit and a lone Christmas Mouse keep each other company until Santa arrives...

Feather birds, even chickens roost on the branches...

A pretty little Cardinal sets in a nest...

A Blue Jay eyes a Christmas plum...

Santas line up on this sideboard...

The oldest is a Santa bell from my husband's first Christmas in 1951. We bought many of the little wooden ornaments when we lived in California in the early 1970's, they were 10 cents each...on sale of course! Every year we add more and now I have to pick and choose favorites to have enough room on this table. I love the Santa in the Ark, do you spot it on the left?

We have tall Santas and short Santas, fat Santas and skinny Santas...about every kind of Santa you can imagine! The little Santa frames hold a pictures of our GRANDsons!

Every Christmas when I unpack these, they are new joy and many happy memories of Christmases long ago!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ballroom Dancing

Waiting.....on the new sofa and love seat to get here. Our living room has that
"Ballroom Feel" right now, open spaces and one lonely recliner. Ben is upset, all he has to lay on is his 40"X40" DOG bed...terrible!

It's funny how big a room feels when you move out the furniture, especially if it was over-sized furniture. I notice trends in clothing, but you don't buy furniture with each season. The old set was bought mid 1990's and was made for Paul Bunyan! We like big furniture, throughout the years we have always been lured by the bigger pieces. One of the first things we bought when we first married was a dining room set that was Mediterranean... I can hear snickering right now, hey it was THE thing in the 1970's! It would have fit in a castle nicely...but we only had a two bedroom apartment and it was a "little tight!"


The first good piece we bought was a Thomasville coffee table and it too was large. Country French, I still lean toward that style all these years later. For the next 25 years it moved every time we moved and continued to be a beautiful part of our living room. Two years ago it went to live with daughter Stephanie and her family.


Later on we found a great buy on a hutch at Macy's in Sacramento. That too was a beautiful piece of furniture that we had for many years. It now lives with our youngest daughter Amy and her family in Texas!

If I could, I'd buy furniture often. I love change when it comes to home decor, not so much for other parts of my life. The main objective for us now is comfort so the new sofa and love seat has 4 recliners, on the ends of each piece. That will make watching TV perfect for us...nap time that is!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


 It's 18 degrees here this morning with winds 30-40mph out of the North Pole making our Real Feel Temperature a -7. So cold and windy the birds are having trouble landing on the feeders. Glad I'm not a bird!

We even had a light dusting of snow last night. I thought we'd blow away...the winds howled all night long.

Amazing, the poinsettias and garland didn't blow away. I haven't been out to check if the bows on the garland are still there...
Ben's not worried about the cold temps. In fact he's dreaming about a warm beach somewhere and he's just ordered a cheeseburger and a side of McNuggets. Life is good!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mixed Marriage

We're all hunkered down , waiting for the first blast of winter. In this world there are two kinds of people...the ones who love the cold and and the ones who hate it. I'm in the first group, Hubby is in the second. I guess that makes us a mixed marriage, but it's somehow survived 40 winters so far.

Tonight it's supposed to be down in the 20's so I'm going to set the mood so that he won't complain. Maybe a pot of stew and homemade bread will keep him from grousing too much!

Here's a favorite recipe from the NFL Family Cookbook...
After the Game Beef Stew
Marty Schottenheimer -KC Chiefs
3 cups V-8 juice
6 T. tapioca
1tsp. salt
black pepper to taste
2 lb. steak, cubed
3 stalks celery, diced
5-6 peeled potatoes, diced
1 large onion chopped
4 carrots, diced
Preheat oven to 250. In a large bowl, combine he V-8, tapioca, salt and pepper. Put the steak and chopped vegetables into a dutch oven or crockpot. Pour the juice mixture over it all. Cover and bake the stew in the oven or crockpot for 5 hours.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Old Fashioned Christmas, MONEY HONEY!

We made a deal with GRANDson Gavin. When he spends the night on the weekend... he wraps the presents, carries them down to the family room and we give him $20 when the job is complete.  He was wanting to make some money so he can buy his Mom and Dad a present, isn't that nice? He jumped at the chance thinking that wrapping presents is an easy $20!

Saturday morning we went upstairs to the guest bedroom and tackled the job. On top of the bed was a mound of presents that I had been gathering up for the last 4 weeks. It took at least 10 minutes of moving things until there even was a place to wrap! But he was willing and cheerful and I KNEW I had made a wise decision to contract his services.

First off he tells me he doesn't know how to wrap. I give him a quick cut, fold and tape lesson and we are off to a good start! The first presents were large, in fact too large to fit into the bags made for hard-to-wrap presents. He tore off a huge section of paper, much to big but he's trying so I don't say anything. I dispense the tape and he overlaps, folds and struggles with the enormity of the present. When he's finished it kind of looks like that UPS package that's been mis-handled!

Package 2 looks a little better, except he had to tear a new sheet of paper since he cut it too short. Oh well, practice makes perfect.

Package 3 is long and one end is larger than the other. You know the kind, the square paper won't cover the big end and the small end has enough left over to wrap 10 presents. He uses the most tape on this one, it reminded me a little of a wrestling match I saw once!

Present after present, he's slowly improving and by now the stack of presents in the hall is so big that he decides to make a few trips down to the tree in the family room. Like a pack mule he loads up with as many presents as he can hold and down the stairs he goes...thump, thump, thump. In a few minutes he's back huffing and puffing. That was Trip 1.

Trip 2 he loads his arms and I tell him to place the gifts in order under the tree... all of his Mom's together, all of his Dad's, all of his brother's, all of mine, all of Papa's. Thump, thump, thump down the stairs...then thump, thump, thump he's back. I see a little bead of sweat now on the tip of his nose!

Trip 3 was riddled with a few, "This is hard Nana" and "How many MORE trips?"

We still have a lot more to wrap, he's earning his money the old fashioned way with hard work!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Naughty List

I know two names that are now on Santa's Naughty List, Lucy and Lyric. The Hoss Boss over at Woman Who Runs With Horses described to a tee what millions of parents are facing right this very moment with the bad behavior of their "children."

Out of control, bad boys and girls. They even have specialists like SuperNanny who can give you advice how to correct their bad habits.

Amazing to me since I came from the generation that used this reward for bad behavior! Run, don't walk over to read how she corrected her "errant children"... if you are raising kids right now you will get a big kick out of it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Red, White... and blue?

I knew I liked Jayme Goffin. Someone who diapers a sick chicken and brings it in the house to give 24 hour nursing care can't have a mean bone in her body! She's got lots of other qualities but yesterday I found out she is a red blooded American...she posted on Facebook that she was having trouble finding candy canes that were made in the good ol' USA. Since I watch Food Network's Unwrapped all the time a little, I remembered watching a show about Bobs' Candy Canes at their Albany, Georgia plant. Of course I gave Jayme heads up that she can buy them at any Wal-mart but after I Googled the website I realized it's really an American success story. They are the largest candy cane maker in the world,  just go to any Walmart... any drug store... any grocery and you can be certain they stock it during the holidays! 

It took a lot of hard work by a young candy factory worker named Bob McCormack to persuade investors to back his new venture into the candy making business in 1919. He only had a three-person workforce, some secondhand equipment brought in from Birmingham and basic supplies to start Famous Candy Company. Sugar shortages stemming from World War I kept them from making very many candies, initially they made and sold coconut, peanut, stick candy and taffy. Soon chocolate and pecan candies called "Bobs Pe-Kons" and "Bobs Pe-Kon-ettes" were a very popular seller until World War II.

Business was good and one of his investors, Bob Mills, joined to help run the company. Then in 1924 they changed the name to Bobs' Candy Company, sharing the same first name made that decision an easy one! The Great Depression took it's toll on many businesses nationwide but Bobs' Albany candy operation not only survived through the decade but increased the production of low-cost pecan candies, a luxury Southerners continued to budget for as a relief from the strife of poverty. The company changed its name again as a result, calling itself Bobs' Candy & Pecan Company. McCormack also introduced a line of snack foods during the 1930s, selling salted peanuts and peanut butter crackers, items that would help his company stay afloat when the next calamity arrived a decade later.

McCormack barely had the chance to celebrate his fortune at surviving the 1930s when disaster struck. On February 11, 1940 a tornado swept through Albany's business district, killing and injuring more than 500 residents and completely destroying Bobs Candy & Pecan Company. With no insurance, McCormack was forced to start from scratch, again. His good management of funds allowed him to rebuild his business within six months. The company stopped making chocolate candy after the tornado, but introduced a candy bar named "Bobs Tornado Bar," a peanut, coconut, and popcorn bar that was advertised as "worth a dime but costs five cents!" It sold very well, I guess the people of Albany, Georgia had a sense of humor!

WWII came and with it the company faced rationing of sugar and pecans tripled in price causing the company to stop production of the mainstay of many of their products. Once again they fell back on their snack food line to pay the bills. They made the decision to discontinue making their chocolate pecan candies and in 1943 Bobs' Candy and Pecan Company became Bobs' Candy and Peanut Company.

All along the way there were new ideas that helped production, air conditioners to dehumidify the company's wrapping room  and extend hard candy's shelf life, a machine that sealed candy stick in moisture-proof wrappers and his brother in law invented a machine to dispense ribbons of peanut butter on the company's peanut butter crackers. By the end of the 1950's it went from being a regional wholesaler to nationwide. Three generations of McCormacks grew and prospered the company until 2005 when they sold after 86 years to Farleys and Sathers Candy Company, another American company headquartered in Round Lake, Minnesota.

It's just a little candy cane, but it represents so much more!
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