Friday, October 28, 2011

Go Cardinals!

Sitting here rooting for the Cardinals in Game 7 of the World Series...and scanning the stands for a peek of my brother, who's in St. Louis and at the game tonight. He's a tall guy, but I don't think it will be easy to find him in a sea of umpteen-thousand faces!

I talked to him this afternoon and he was very excited--and it's so much more fun for Todd and I to watch this game, knowing he's there.

We are Cardinals fans by inheritance--our dad is from northeastern Missouri and in fact my brother and I were both born there. (My sister was born in Ohio after we moved there in 1976.) My brother is a die-hard fan...I am more of a casual Cardinals fan, as in "Oh, they're in the play-offs? Cool." But I did catch the last couple innings of the game last night and it was a thrill.

I was sitting here wondering how I learned about baseball: walks, strikes, balls, etc. I don't know all the details of the game, but I do know the main points, and there are virtually no other sports I can say that about. I must have absorbed it from walking through the living room on summer evenings when Dad and Jeremy were watching.

I actually saw a Cardinals game with my brother at the old Busch stadium in 2004. We had driven to Missouri together for our grandmother's 80th birthday party, and we stopped off in St. Louis for a game. We also stopped in Cincinnati and saw a Reds game on the way home. My first two--and only, so far--real live MLB games. They were both so much fun, and the best part was getting to experience it with my brother. Wish we could do that kind of thing more often!

Right now St. Louis is up 3-2, top of the fifth, and David Freese just caught an acrobatic out. Go Cardinals!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Betty book.

I had to run into the library this morning to pick up a book I'd requested, and I stopped to look at the Friends of the Library sale rack just inside the front door.

I never really noticed this rack before--it's in an awkward place between the door and the metal detectors--and I think if I ever did glance at it, it was just a cursory "James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, yeahyeahyeah" kind of glance.

A few weeks ago, I went in with my father-in-law and he stopped at the rack right away and found something he wanted. So now I'm noticing it more.

Today I found this for a buck:

I thought maybe there was a nice dust jacket under that paper bag cover, but alas no. So it's not an awesome find, but I am a sucker for old Betty Crocker books. I have a ring-bound Picture Cookbook (the edition before this one) and I have a hardback cookbook from the 60s that's the same edition my mom had in ring-bound when I was a kid. I used to love to pore over the pictures, and it has some excellent recipes for pound cake and oatmeal cookies, among other things. I have a Betty Crocker Cooky Book from the early 1970s, too. I just love the bright pictures in old cookbooks...they're too bright in a vaguely unappetizing way.

You know, you just don't see radish roses any more, and I think that's a darn shame.

These are the Betty Crocker test kitchens of the 1950's. They tested "new and glamorous" recipes in the Kitchen of Tomorrow...wonder what those would have been? Cheese fondue? Pizza rolls? Sushi?

This link shows the different Betty cookbooks over the ages (if you scroll down a tad.) The first red one is the one I have in ring-bound. The second one is the one I picked up today--that's what the jacket would have looked like. The third one is one I have salivated over on Ebay more than once. And the fourth one is the one my mom had in ring-bound and I have in hardcover.

Beyond those years, I think the editions are not as cute. I have a Better Homes and Gardens book to represent the 80s and beyond--it was a wedding present to me in 1992. Love that one, too--I always have to check it every time I make hard-boiled eggs, as I don't seem to be able to keep the procedure in my head.
It's very useful, but it's not as charming as the old books with their ultra-bright pictures.

This book that I found today is in really nice shape, a few places where the spine is cleaved, but the pages are clean. I always hope for handwritten recipes tucked into these old cookbooks, but no such luck with this one. There's only one page that looks worn and has some liquid damage. It has recipes for cottage pudding with vanilla, lemon, chocolate or nutmeg sauce; cinnamon fluff; cherry carnival; and Iowa date pudding. I wonder which one was the family favorite? Upon reading, it looks like "cottage pudding" is just a plain white cake baked in a 9" pan. That sounds much more appetizing than "cottage pudding," which made me think of steamed cottage cheese.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New look.

I finally took some time today and sat down and figured out how to customize my blog, instead of whining about not knowing how. What a concept, eh? It took longer than I wanted it to, mainly because Blogger seems to have been designed by teenage boys who probably snicker in their cubicles, thinking of all the middle-aged women out there shrieking in frustration. Not that I'm bitter--I could have been wasting those two hours cleaning toilets or something.

The fall picture I found for my header above is one I took almost exactly a year ago, on the Wilderness battlefield in northern Virginia, one of the loveliest, quietest, most blood-soaked spots in the U.S. We were there last year to celebrate my 40th birthday. This past weekend, although I liked the nice round shape of 40, Mother Nature decreed that I must move on, to 41. I dislike odd numbers very much. They seem so jagged and don't fit neatly into slots.

Case in point: 2011, an odd number for an odd year. I'm not sure what has happened to me this year. There have been plenty of normal days, a few really pleasant days, but more dismal, bad and downright crappy days than I ever really wanted. Some of that has been from forces beyond my control...much of it has been self-inflicted. I feel like I've gotten crankier, meaner, more negative--more jagged, if you will. (I never did fit neatly into slots, so I'm not too concerned about that. )

So I woke up on Sunday, the day after my birthday, and decided 41 needs to be different if at all possible. I did great being positive on Sunday--I didn't leave the house all day and I watched old TV shows and did a bunch of research online. Easy peasy!

Monday I did great till late afternoon, when I got a big disappointment and then in the evening, had an anxious conversation with a friend. Suddenly I was feeling snappish and angry again. Todd said, "It's easy to be positive when there's nothing challenging you." So I stomped on his big toe. Kidding!

Today has been a mixed bag. I might have yelled at the neighbor across the ravine that they needed to keep their dogs quiet. In my defense, one of their dogs sounds exactly like a very loud, very hysterical squeaky toy. On the other hand, I said a few nice things to a few friends, and had a couple nice things said back to me. Plus, I got a bunch of laundry done. Tomorrow I'll go for an unmixed bag of positivity, I swear.

Here's a picture of me on my 41st birthday, enjoying a blissful cup of morning coffee at our neighborhood dive, which serves the best and cheapest breakfasts in town. I look pretty positive here, but then--I'm holding a cup of coffee, after all.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Stripey Christmas tree.

I've been playing with scraps and thought I'd share my Christmas card prototype.

I cut a whole bunch of strips of Basic Grey Christmas paper. The nice thing about most of BG's Christmas collections is that you can mix and match from year to year. And I have years and years' worth, believe me. I varied the width of the strips from 1/4" to 3/4" and every size in between. (It helps to make lots of strips of each size...that way if one strip doesn't reach the whole way across the paper, you can find another one the same width to put next to it.)

Then I ran a piece of cardstock through my Xyron machine to apply a solid coat of adhesive on one side. And I started laying strips down on the adhesive, scooching them up nice and tight against each other. I used 8.5x11" cardstock and ran the strips across the short side.

From this new sheet of striped paper, I cut a bunch of triangles that measured 2.5" at the base, and 3.5" tall. Then I cut each triangle in half lengthwise. When you have an assortment of triangles cut, put two halves together that are cut from different sections of the paper--so that they don't match up.

I rubbed distress ink on the edges of each half (Frayed Burlap) and mounted on a patterned paper background. Then I added a trunk (snipped from a brown scrap of Basic Grey paper so there's a subtle pattern) and a star and a stamped sentiment. Now I just need to make a few dozen of them!