Archive for the ‘Sewing’ Category

I have a dear friend who’s old dog is reaching the end of her story. This gentlemen lost his wife three years ago. A lot of of the love he had no place for after his wife died, he has poured into this sweet little dog. Like many old animals, Maya has slowed down considerably. Where she used to run joyfully after her ball, she now sits and looks longingly after it if you toss it, but doesn’t make any effort to get up and bring it back to you. Still, she loves to be in the yard. I watch her from my window when she’s visiting. There’s something so joyful in the way she raises that old snout and breathes deeply the fresh air. Sitting quietly, her head turns from one side to the other as she surveys her “land” and she seems to take pleasure in simply being outside shrouded in nature. When we are entrusted with an animal’s well being, it is up to us to make the to relieve them from pain should it become necessary, because they can’t do it for themselves. So many times I have been asked to make the choice to have to say goodbye to an old furry friend. It never gets any easier. Fortunately Maya has no pain according to the vet so she will live out her life well loved and cared for until it is time for her to go. To my mind, pets are members of the family. I have said many times Boo, the Queen of Cats, can be credited with getting me through the past two and a half years. Had I had to face Rick’s death and this isolation without her companionship it would have proved far more difficult. There isn’t a day I don’t look at that much loved furry face and feel overwhelming thanks for her presence in my life.

Loss is part of life. This year has brought more than the usual share of loss for so many people it seems. I remember thinking last year I could not wait for 2020. 2019 was a year marked by a lot of hard edges. I can hear my grandmother’s voice in my ear, “Susan, never wish your life away”, but 2019 asked a lot. Who knew 2020 was going to show up and prove to be a far more tumultuous and difficult year? Makes 2019 look like a walk in the park.

I am thankful I made it through with the virus and didn’t end up in the hospital. Finally, Even more thankful that after entering my third week of confinement I am beginning to feel like my old self. Not fully mended yet but beginning to sense it is around the next bend in the road. The virus is still lingering in my body according to a recent second test, also positive. Apparently this is not uncommon. I have been given the green light to actually return to the general population the middle of next week provided all my symptoms have abated. This news comes just in time for California to begin a sort of state-wide lock down to get a handle on the over populated hospital wards due to Covid spread. So, I can go out, but, I can’t go out. Rather than hop in the pity pot and stew for a while, I am going to wrap myself around the glorious feeling of finding my energy once again and my regained sense of taste and smell and do something to keep myself busy in my little house with Miss Boo, the Queen of Cats. This too will pass, will be my mantra, and I have promised myself if I feel despair knocking at my door, I will not answer.

In an effort to keep the blues at bay, I have dusted off my sewing machine and begun to work on some projects. I love to sew, it’s cathartic for me. Actually enjoying working with fabrics really didn’t start for me until my early thirties. Up until then, I had not had much success with sewing. The first time I used a sewing machine was in Home Economics in eighth grade. Home Economics, for those of you scratching your heads, was a required subject in middle school back in the stone age. Young women of that time were being groomed to become wives and mothers, not CEO’s of large high-tech companies. Household skills were deemed necessary to sink the hook in your mate of choice. Thankfully, I didn’t lean totally on this Cinderella concept. I enrolled in a typing class before I graduated from high school. This, it would turn out, would be a decision that would save my bacon when finding myself a single mother with two small children a few years down the road. Home Ec, as we called it, was not my favorite class. I did not endear myself to my classmates when in the first semester tasked with making cinnamon toast (not exactly rocket science) I accidentally grabbed the jar containing salt not sugar. This would have been chocked up to a stupid mistake but for the fact in order to get a grade we had to eat what we produced. Needless to say this did not sit well for the other young ladies in my group. Sorry.

From cooking we moved on to sewing. My mother, God love her, couldn’t sew on a button if the fate of the world hung on her doing so correctly. Mum was a bit of a debutante growing up, and had people to do such things. Up until a scant few years ago if she lost a button or dropped part of a hem the item was put in a pile with a note reading “Save for Susie” pinned to it to await my next visit. So, going into sewing class I knew absolutely not one thing about how a sewing machine worked or any clue whatsoever about choosing fabrics or reading a pattern. My best friend who next to me in class was usually my partner in crime. If possible, she knew even less about how to thread a needle. Between the two of us, we were sort of the precursors to Dumb and Dumber, ladies edition. Similar to having to eat what we cooked, we were giving the assignment of making a garment then wearing it to school to earn our grade. Isn’t life humiliating enough at thirteen, without being charged with having to do something like that? I think so, I really do.

The next weekend, my mother took my friend and I to the fabric store to pick out patterns and fabric for our assignment. Now, this would be tantamount to sending a chimp to the NASA command center to manage a rocket launch. I decided to make a skirt. I’m sure this decision was predicated on the fact a skirt was equal to half a dress so would be less work and had a relatively low degree of difficulty. A skirt would consist of a waistband, a zipper and the skirt itself. Easy peasy. Right. I got the pattern home, opened it up, and laid the pieces out on the floor. Had the instructions been written in Ancient Sanskrit they couldn’t have been more confusing. Words like “selvage”, “understitch” and “bias” jumped off the page with no explanation offered. Diligently, I pinned the pattern pieces to the fabric, cut them out, and took the lot back to school the day my next class was scheduled. Having no idea there were different types of fabrics, one better suited than another, I chose a stretchy material. True to it’s description, it twisted and stretched in every direction like an avid marathon runner before a big race. By the time I got done sewing the skirt, put in the zipper, and attached the waistband, it looked like I had sewn tennis balls underneath it. Puckers and pouches abounded. Sigh. My mother, always my biggest fan, said it looked as if I’d bought it off the rack. Go, Mom. It’s like the old Egyptian saying, “in his mother’s eye, the monkey is a gazelle”. Knowing I had to wear it to school, I seriously considered sewing a matching bag to pull over my head. I showed up at school the day we were to show our final product, skirt on, and head down. About mid-morning, with my Home Ec class not scheduled until after lunch, I had already endured enough humiliation to fill the humble pie of my young life to the brim. Just before lunch, the unevenly placed stitching on the waistband gave way and my skirt, waving the white flag of defeat, dropped to my knees. Life, as they say, was in the toilet during that moment. So memorable was it for my friends, I was still taking some good natured kidding in high school about that incident several years later. Fortunately, I had worn a slip, the only thing rescuing me from total social suicide. Still, I had to go to the Home Ec class and be sewn into my skirt so I could finish the day. That being said, the resulting grade did not do much to enhance my GPA.

After that debacle, I retired my foot pedal until I was given a sewing machine in my twenties by a friend who had purchased a new one. I didn’t have the heart to tell her no, so excited was she to be sharing something she so enjoyed with me. Yawn. For the first year, the machine sat lonely and abandoned on the closet shelf in my spare room. Around the holidays, my daughter, a third grader at the time, came home to excitedly tell me she was going to be a Cossack in a Christmas pageant at her school. Yay!! A newletter sent home to the parents of participants in the pageant mentioned parents were expected to either sew or have sewn the costumes their offspring were to be wearing. Swell. I felt I leaned more toward the “have sewn” group, but since money wasn’t exactly sprouting out of a tree in the back yard, I decided I’d better attempt to create something myself. Once again, I immersed myself in the strange and wonderful world of patterns, but this time I showed up to the battle armed with The Simplicity Learn to Sew Book. Truthfully, looking back most of the things I’ve learned to do well in my life have either came from trial and error by actually doing whatever it is I set out to do, or getting a book and going about teaching myself. I am probably one of the more tenacious humans on earth, so like a dog with a bone I will keep gnawing at it until I get to the marrow.

After much swearing and a number of failed attempts, one resulting in a shredded Cossack vest resting in a shallow grave in the art room trash can, I finally managed to make a costume my little girl could be proud of. Secretly, I was rather proud of it myself. My mom sat in the audience the night of the pageant and when she saw the costume she leaned over and whispered, “looks like you bought it off the rack”. Go, Mom.

I am not fond of the word can’t. Used to tell my kids there is no such thing as can’t, but rather “won’t” or “I don’t want to”. Most probably most things you really apply yourself to do, can be done. Not all of course, I’ve had some epic failures. Let’s face it, you can’t fail if you never try at all.

So I shall persevere today and remind myself how much I like to sit at machine creating lovely things with fabric. Maybe you can rekindle a romance with something you used to love during this time of isolation? Make it a great and productive day.

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2020 to me could be easily described with a chart detailing the general state of the union and those living in it.  In January the arrow might been pointing perhaps to the right of center in the NORMAL (we’re never totally normal) section which would be at the far left. As the arrow begins to arc more to the right and things begin to go haywire the arrow moves quickly into UNUSUAL. By March the arrow had moved further right to WEIRD, finally ending up at the extreme right in DOWNRIGHT BIZARRE. In my estimation we have finally gone to as far right as we can without moving off the chart entirely. I’m beginning to think the atmosphere is so strange if an alien spacecraft were to land in Old Town Sacramento and little green men were to deplane right on Front Street someone would hand them a mask and not even give them a second glance.

I remember thinking in 2019 I couldn’t wait for 2020 to show up on the calendar. I had somehow survived my first year without Rick next to me in bed and was beginning to show signs of life again. 2020 looked to me to be fresh and untouched, the perfect blank page on which to start the beginning of a new chapter in my story. I found myself looking forward to it with guarded anticipation. Whoops, my bad.  Had someone said to me last year 2020 would be the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, our country would erupt with civil and racial unrest, police reform would be instituted across the board, and the whipped cream on the sundae would be a highly charged, contentious and divided political climate I might have once again headed towards the closet with my bag of fiery Cheeto’s and a bottle of Gray Goose. Sigh. Being by nature a rather silly being I am struggling to locate my sense of humor of late. It seems to have put up a sign like everything else in world, “CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE”.

Though California is beginning to awaken from it’s sleep with stores pulling up their blinds and beauty parlors turning their signs from CLOSED to OPEN, cases of the virus continue to be on an uphill climb. The world, at least for me, has gotten smaller. I find myself thinking about what I am doing wherever I am rather than just being able to enjoy the activity I am involved in. Masks have become part of my daily routine. Because I am one of only several who can still run a sewing machine in my peer group, I have been busy sewing masks for friends and family. Now along with my keys, my purse, and a bottle of water, one or two masks and a container of hand sanitizer are included in my must haves when leaving the house. Yesterday while in the market a lady smiled at me (she was not wearing a mask). My mask had frogs dancing across the front which I assume was what elicited this reaction. I smiled back but realized she had no idea I was smiling so I said “I am smiling, you just can’t see me.” to which she replied, “Yes, I can. I could see it in your eyes.” Even though she wasn’t wearing a face covering that was nice. People are angry. Let’s face it we here in the United States are not used to inconvenience. It is touted as a free country by its creators and we like to hold them to that promise.

The head of a grief group I am part of said something yesterday that rang true to me. We are being asked to learn a new way of being. Change for humans is never a garment we wear easily. Truly we are creatures of habit comfortable in our way of doing things and resistant to having things turned upside down. Sometimes there isn’t a Plan B. Right now I think we only have Plan A to deal with for at least for the time being. This totally sucks I agree but since we are all in the pot together perhaps it would be prudent to at least attempt to swim in the same direction?

My best friend calls me an idealist. I’m not a fan of labels, but perhaps this one applies. I tend to think the best of people out of the gate. Sometimes I am disappointed but more often than not I am not. I prefer thinking people to be honest, dependable, kind, generous of spirit and loving than to presume they are not. I don’t like the idea of waiting for someone to screw up and then pouncing on them the moment they do.  I believe most of our life we spend our time making mistakes, correcting the error, then heading in the right direction until we mess up again, and repeat. The important thing to my mind is we learn from these course corrections and hopefully adjust our behavior accordingly.

For my peace of mind and to locate a bit of normal in the midst of chaos my friend and I confirmed our reservations for a weekend getaway at the coast for much later in the summer. Three days basking on the beach, enjoying the beautiful California sunshine and doing nothing requiring any heavier thought than lifting a book to eye level and sipping something intoxicating from a straw. OMG. My mind is doing a tap dance just thinking of it. Yes. This I consider a total sanity check and I am already deciding what to pack in my overnight bag.

Keeping myself occupied beyond writing on my beloved blog, I have been working on several projects with my daughter as well as some sewing projects as I mentioned earlier. I also have my work with a non-profit I’ve been associated with over the past six years. I encourage those of you out there interested in doing some volunteering to sign up for whatever opportunities are available in your area. God knows we have some extra time on our hands these days. A lot of the jobs posted I have noticed are those requiring little interaction with others, with many being able to be done at home. There is nothing as soul nurturing as being involved with something altruistic that is not about you but rather benefits someone else. If ever there was a time we needed to nurture our souls I believe right now has a bullseye stamped right on it.

As much as I love to be in the kitchen I am trying not to devote too much of my day to preparing food. The downside to cooking is you are probably going to eat what you’re producing. Seems to me at least this would be the next logical step. Then as your pre-pandemic pant size begins no longer to be your mid-pandemic pant size you are forced to go shopping for new pants which in the present climate isn’t the safest place for you to be. Another downside is that many places won’t allow you to try clothes on as the fitting rooms are off limits. If you do go ahead and buy pants and take them home only to find they don’t fit, the stores won’t take them back because they are not accepting clothing returns. I have one friend who simply ordered a supply of yoga pants on the Internet in various sizes and is riding this out until the gyms open, which they are now trying to do, to exercise the weight back off. Good luck with that. It is usually a whole lot easier to load the pounds on then it is to peel them back off in my experience.

In this strange new “now” I find a lot of interesting things to look at personally. My creative self, often lost in the flurry of activity I always seem to immerse myself in, has risen to the surface. Dusting off my sewing machine was the first sign of this resurrection, quickly followed by my taking out my drawings I haven’t had, or rather made time for, in the last year or two, and a book I’ve had in mind for several years now has a first chapter rather than continuing to be just an idea yet unhatched in my tattered brain. Yay.

A friend of mine called yesterday to tell me mercury is in retrograde. This means, for those of you not in the know (like me – had to look it up) that Mercury is moving in the opposite direction of the Earth. This, if one believes it to be, effects communication, travel and learning. Good news. After I hung up I did some deep breathing exercises and then consumed a half a pint of Chunky Monkey. I tried to convince myself I was doing this as a sacrificial gesture to make room in my crowded freezer for more important items such as meat and frozen foods but even my own mind couldn’t wrap its arms around that pile of horse droppings. Sigh.

An hour of so later the phone rang once again. Looking at the screen lighting up I controlled the urge to run and save myself from whatever the dreaded retrograde was sending my way. In the end my curiosity overrode my survival mechanisms and I pushed the screen to accept and said hello. It was my hairdresser. We had our first appointment since the pandemic several weeks ago when my roots had reached the step just beyond critical and she put me beautifully back into balance. Lovely girl. Aside from being excellent at understanding how to color and cut my hair, she’s a charming lady who I enjoy talking with while my roots are cooking. I have only been with her the year since I moved but during that time we went through the usual hits and misses associated with getting a new hair dresser and had now had reached the happy zone just before the virus arrived. Before Emily there were three other ladies at my previous address and amazingly each one in turn just as I got settled moved out of state. What are the odds? Assuming this call was an appointment change of some sort I asked what was up. Wrong question. Why didn’t I grab the vodka and make a run for it? Hindsight really is 20-20.

Emily, it seems, and her husband and three children have decided to move to Texas and are leaving in two weeks. Really? Is it me? Who was I in my former life Vlad the Impaler? Why can’t Mercury just go in the same direction as Earth? Apologizing for the short notice she assured me her friend in the same salon would have my color specifications in hand for my next appointment and take good care of me. Please. This isn’t my first hair salon break-up. Last time I got a similar assurance and she dyed my hair the color of merlot (I am definitely more chardonnay). Ugh.

So my chin is held high. I am deep breathing like a long-distance runner and trying desperately to keep the faith and allow the happy thoughts to have their way with me. Hope you all are doing the same. Until next time – stay safe.





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There’s a phenomenon in the medical profession which truly concerns me. On many occasions women visiting a physician’s office with a complaint are dismissed by such platitudes as “you’re just getting older” or “it’s probably an emotional issue”.

This is particularly personal in my case because my daughter’s mother-in-law, Judy, had a similar experience several years ago. Over a two year period Judy visited her physician regularly complaining of chronic nausea and a general feeling of malaise. The doctor, a female herself, kept placating her prescribing antacids for the stomach issues and suggesting she was “over thinking” her symptoms. In the end when the situation reached a critical state requiring a visit to the E.R., she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer.

This really isn’t new.  At twenty-five I went to the GYN complaining of having heavy cramping with my monthly periods. My doctor looked at me as though I was being a hysterical baby and totally overreacting so I didn’t mention it again. Several months later our family had planned a camping trip on the beach in Baja.  While there the bleeding became so alarming it became necessary to come back early. Returning to work on Monday the pain intensified quickly ending in a trip to the emergency room. An initial examination and x-ray had hospital staff rushing around me. Before you could say hemorrhage, I was whisked off to have emergency surgery resulting in the removal of an ovarian cyst. Afterwards the surgeon said had I waited another twenty-four hours this would have turned into a life or death situation.

This dismissal doesn’t limit itself to women. Elderly patients often encounter similar problems when seeking treatment. Because you are “old” does not mean you are dispensable. The fact that your ninety year old grandmother has lived a good long life does not mean she does not wish to continue to do so. Recently I had a situation with my mother. An irritated red spot with a scab developed on her face. Twice she has undergone Mohz procedures for skin cancer so to me it looked suspicious. Texting her doctor I asked if she had noticed it. Her reply indicated indeed she had, and her conclusion was it was a pre-cancerous growth. Inquiring what the course of action was to be seemeed to surprise her.  What? There is no course of action when you reach a certain age? My mother is fully functional and viable human being and I suggested politely she do whatever needs to be done without delay.

Even friends in my age group are reporting a difference in their care.  Everything is not associated with aging. Perhaps physician’s need to stop staring at their computer screens and take a moment to look at the person seated before them.

My rant for a Saturday. These short ribs were absolutely a three yum situation. I had seconds which is rare in our house.

Slow Cooker Short Ribs for Two

2 Tbsp. peanut oil
4-5 short ribs bone in
1 onion, slice thin
1 bay leaf
12 oz. beer (I used Corona)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. chunky salsa
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. beef bouillon
1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 pkg. brown gravy mix, prepared

Heat oil over high heat in frying pan. Sprinkle ribs generously with salt and pepper and brown on all sides. Spray 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Line bottom with onion. Top with browned short ribs.

Mix together all remaining ingredients except gravy mix. Pour over meat. Cook on low for 10-11 hours. Remove ribs from sauce and whisk in prepared gravy. Return ribs to sauce and continue cooking on high for 1/2 hour.

Serve over mashed potatoes or noodles.

Serves 2

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With Jack o’lanterns flickering in doorways and scarecrows guarding front yards All Hallow’s Eve is upon us.  The perfect time of year to focus on superstition. If asked I would not say I consider myself a particularly superstitious person. However, last night while cooking dinner I spilled salt on the counter.  Without thinking I took a pinch from the pile and tossed it over my left shoulder. Why do I do that, I wondered? The obvious answer because it is good luck, but why? A curious creature by nature, I sat down at the computer after dinner and went in search of an answer.

The preferred explanation, or the one most given, seems to be steeped in man’s early religious beliefs. Salt, in biblical times was a highly coveted commodity used not only as a medium of exchange like money. In addition, with the invention of the refrigerator far off in the unseen or imagined future, salt was an absolute necessity in the average household for preserving food. Wasting such a valuable possession bordered on the sacrilegious, so if granules of the precious mineral were spilled, the culprit threw a pinch of salt over their left to keep the devil at bay while they swept up the spill.

What about Friday the 13th? Certainly it is considered a day of misfortune and bad luck by many people. A day to lock up your animals and children and hide in the back of the closet until the sun rises on the 14th.  So pervasive is the fear of the number 13, in fact, that in approximately 80% of the high rises erected, the thirteenth floor, at least numerically, is not included in the numbering going directly from 12 to 14. Bad luck attributed to the number 13 as well as Fridays finds their core in close association with capital punishment and once again religion. When public hangings or executions were commonplace, the ceremonies were imbued with an almost fair like atmosphere. Families gathered in the streets, vendors hawked goods and foods, and street performers danced and sang in the village square to watch as the condemned man or woman took their final walk up thirteen steps to face their executioner. Traditionally, these events were held on Fridays. Religiously, Judas was the thirteenth guest at the Last Supper, and Eve supposedly tempted Adam with the apple on a Friday, among many other biblical associations with the number.

Black cats are considered bad luck in some societies, while in others harbingers of good things to come. In Japan it is believed that a woman with a black cat under her roof is likely to have many marriage proposals or gentlemen callers, and in Scotland a black cat by the hearth is a sign of prosperity. Western society, however, views them as disciples of the devil and minions of witches and warlocks. In Germany, if a black cat crosses in front of you right to left it is bad luck, but left to right it’s a sign of good things to come.

When I delved into witches and brooms I was quite floored (ah, pardon the pun) to discover that unlike other superstitions, belief in witches and witchcraft, especially with regard to their relationship with their brooms, has rather unusual sexual connotations which I will forgo an in-depth description of in deference of good taste. Brooms were considered “equipment”, if you will, of witches, thus accounting for more women than men finding themselves tied to a stake during the Salem witch trials. Argh.

Open an umbrella indoors and bad luck will “rain” on you once again has several explanations. In ancient civilizations with their roots in desert climates, umbrellas were tools to protect your face from the unrelenting sun. Ra, or lesser sun gods might have been insulted should you open it indoors thus bringing misfortune to those who lived there.

A second theory discussed was umbrellas protect humans against the raging storms of life. If opened inside, the guardians of the house might take umbrage and leave the house leaving those living there unprotected. Again, I thought it was because if you set it on the table you’d likely poke your eye out, but that comes from my grandmother telling me that’s what would happen to me if  I did.

My bath water now cold, I delved lastly into walking under ladders and found these facts. Ancient citizens viewed triangles, hence the shape of the pyramids, as holy spaces where gods resided. Those who dared to walk in the sacred space between the legs of a ladder were considered evil and severely punished.

So there’s more information than you likely needed to know on the subject, but I found it interesting This was a nice quiche.  First time I ever tried it with broccoli and I found it quite delicious.

Have a safe and fun Halloween! My thoughts go out to those folks in the east dealing with the storm.

Photos by Susie Nelson

Broccoli and Tomato Quiche

1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 prepared deep-dish 9″ pie shell
4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
4 oz. Gruyere cheese
2 Tbsp. Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shredded
1 small head fresh broccoli, diced
4 green onions
1 Roma tomato, sliced
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup half and half
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 pinch cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Bake pie crust (yours or purchased) according to package directions, if purchased, for unfilled shell. Place a handfull of beans or a pie weight on top of a piece of parchment paper to prevent shell from rising. Brush with an egg wash to get a lovely golden brown crust. Cool. (Note if crust gets too brown during cooking cover edges with tin foil.

Cook bacon, drain, and crumble. Melt butter in small saucepan. Add onions and saute for 5-6 mins. over med-low heat until mushrooms are cooked. Sprinkle bacon and mushrooms across bottom of pie shell. Mix Gruyere and Parmesan together. Place 1/2 of cheese mixture on top of bacon. Top with broccoli and green onions. Add remaining 1/2 cheese mixture.

Mix together beaten eggs, half and half, and seasonings. Pour over all. Top with sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake for 15 mins. at 425 degrees then reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and continue cooking for 45 mins. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 mins. before cutting.

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Photos by Susie Nelson

Before I get into writing my blog, I wanted to acknowledge Cristi at Simple.Interesting for nominating me for the Super Sweet Blogger Award.  I will get to passing it on over the weekend, but for now wanted to give him a nod and point you in his direction and thank him for including me.

That being said, I’ve had a most interesting start to my day. Why is it days you take hours to apply makeup, fix your hair, and choose a fabulous outfit you never meet anybody you know, but the one time you leave the house looking like you’ve just exited an industrial clothes dryer you run into people you haven’t seen since high school?

This morning I was pulling together a cabbage soup recipe in my crockpot in anticipation of the rain headed our way this week.  Half way through the ingredients I discovered a crucial part of my recipe, namely two leeks, had gone south overnight in my vegetable bin. One cup of coffee into my morning and no make up in place as yet, I knew that there was no choice but to run into town (that being a ten mile run one way) with no time to make myself beautiful. Normally, I would have opted for the smaller local market close by, handy for days when you need an emergency head of iceberg lettuce or an onion or two, but their grocer does not venture into the more exotic members of the vegetable set much further than an occasional artichoke or a stray exotic mushroom from time to time over the holiday season. Running a brush through my hair and one over my teeth (not the same one FYI), I surveyed my reflection in the mirror, and finding myself suitable enough not to scare young children or induce heart attacks in the elderly, I threw on a jacket and hopped in the car. On the trip down the hill, I reassured myself that at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning the market would most likely be a graveyard except for store personnel so I could surely run in, grab two leeks, and make my escape without eliciting a second glance. Slow down Kemosabe.

Finding the parking lot more crowded then I’d expected, I located a spot five cars down on one aisle and flying low and putting on my most invisible look, I moved quickly through the store to the vegetable section. After working my way through the kale, cabbage, peppers, and broccoli, I came to the area where the leeks usually make their home. No leeks. Really? As I’ve said before, I must have been Rasputin’s henchman in a former life, because the universe really likes to twist my knickers, and I believe gets a good chuckle out of it at the end of the day. Surveying the vegetable department for the usual produce manager, a nice plumpish gentlemen in his late fifties, I found instead the only employee replenishing the celery to be a man I would guess in his mid thirties who looked a bit like Brad Pitt with a moustache. Are you kidding me? Reviewing my socks with the little blue bunnies peeking over the tops of my Nike’s and my well worn sweats, I considered throwing my recipe to the wind and going commando without the leeks, but the cook in me vetoed the woman in me and I asked wantabe Brad where I might locate a leek. From the brief perusal of my appearance before directing me to the “organic section”, I’m sure he thought I’d already located a leak and immersed myself in it prior to leaving the house.

Success close, I grabbed a yellow “organic” bag and deposited my two leeks. Heading for the checkout area  I noticed the head of the Chamber of Commerce and his wife in the freezer section obviously dressed for church. Drat the luck. Not only was I not dressed for church, but looked more like I might be pending trial for stealing from the collection plate. Quickly I changed aisles and headed down the tofu and health food aisle, which in our area is certainly not the most frequented, only to find my new neighbor, a perfectly put together fitness instructor, digging in a bin of granola. OMG. Had I sent out invitations, I couldn’t have seen more familiar faces.

Dodging that bullet and the checkout aisles close at hand, I breathed a sigh of relief and pulled up behind a nice lady also in baggy sweats to wait my turn. The self check areas were open, but for some reason I seem to always set off some alarm requiring keys, extra personnel, and PA addresses, so in my state of attire I avoided it at all costs.

Sensing the end of my ordeal, walking in the front door I spotted a friend’s husband, Mickey. Of our extended group of friends and acquaintances he is the male half of probably the most superficial couple of our group. No matter what the social occasion, be it a barbecue or a holiday party, these two always manage to arrive looking as though they’d recently stepped off the runway in Caans or arrived directly from a recent photo shoot. Trying to hide, I stooped and began studying the Hot Cheeto display to my right, throwing a bag in the cart for good measure (a guilty pleasure). Still trying to make myself small, I bent further down to check out the varieties of gum available for purchase. My there is an impressive assortment to keep your dentist in business with.  Letting a minute of two pass, I stood back up. Looking around I didn’t see Mickey on my radar so moved forward to purchase my leeks. Suddenly two hands grasped me by the shoulders and I had no choice but to turn around, bag of Cheetos in hand, to find Mickey grinning at me with his perfectly whitened and straight set of teeth. After memorizing my visage for recalling every detail once he arrived home, he said, “Wow, Susie, you look great”.  Really? that being the case I must have been just short of the last rites last time we met. Did I mention they’re not the most sincere of my friends as well?

At any rate, I’m back home.  I have cleaned up and could receive the Queen, thus guaranteeing no one will stop by today.

This slaw is so delicious.  I slightly overcooked the pecans so forgive me as they were the last of the lot.  We’re having the slaw with a broccoli quiche so should be appropriate for a windy night outside. 🙂

Also, I wanted to share the first of my holiday aprons.  Orders start coming in early so I have dragged my trusty sewing machine out of it’s cardboard home and begun to produce my yearly quota.  When I lived in West Virginia I made my living by doing art and wine shows, and craft shows in general.  Always fun to meet other arty people and find a buyer for something you have created.

Fruity Fall Slaw

1 head cabbage, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 apple, diced
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained and quartered
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Mix well. Toss with dressing 1 hour prior to serving. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Top with orange slices and a handful of pecans.


1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
3 Tbsp. white vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together all dressing ingredients and refrigerate until 1 hour before serving salad. Mix into salad and chill until ready to serve.

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