Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Another Fine Mess

In a moment of weakness, I let a friend talk me into a crazy money making scheme. We’d go shopping at a warehouse outlet (I pay for it), put it on EBay (I do all the listing), and sell it for a profit (I do all the shipping). Now I’m $200.00 dollars in the hole. The worst part was Hubby's reaction. He walked into our study (now warehouse) and shouted, “What is all this stuff?” When I explained to him the great idea of making heaps of money selling it all on EBay, he stifled a guffaw, knocked the area rugs off his ottoman, and sat down. “What is your friend’s part in this?” he asked. Well…. She’s my business partner, she went shopping with me. Did you drive? Yes. Did you pay for everything? Yes. Have you spent hours on the computer listing everything? Yes. Have you done all the packaging and trips to the post office? Yes. How is she your business partner again? Well….

He slowly looked around the room, shook his head, and walked out. I know what he’s thinking; another harebrained scheme that’s going to take money out of his retirement account. The last time it was a landscaping business and it cost him the price of a pickup truck. I ended up gardening for people out of pity so it also cost him for several trips to Home Depot. This is absolutely, positively the last time I try to make money. I’m going to stick to what I’m good at…. spending it.
With 12 hours left on my most promising auction, Ebay abruptly canceled it because I had used the words "Like New" in the title. Boy oh boy...did they catch me. I thought I could get away with it but they caught me red-handed. I guess I just can't get away with such dishonest business practices. How are the 15,000 other people who have that in their title's sneaking by? I'm now so disgusted by the whole thing that I'm taking bids on the whole lot. Any takers?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Comfort Food:Pot Roast Dinner

Sundays are perfect days to keep the tradition of mid afternoon dinner alive. The way the day goes with a busy morning and getting home after the usual lunchtime sets it up perfectly for us. So try some good ol' comfort food like Mom used to fix...

How about Pot Roast, rice and gravy, green beans, and apple salad?

For a delicious Pot Roast choose a rump roast that weighs between three and four pounds. This should be plenty for a family of six. If your family is smaller, you'll have leftovers. Put about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven. Heat on high; just as it starts to smoke put your roast in and brown it on all sides. Turn down the heat if the oil starts to burn. Pour one cup dry red wine into the pot(can substitute beef broth), 1/2 cup water, one can diced tomatoes, two handfuls of baby carrots, one package onion soup mix, one tablespoon peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, and a teaspoon of salt. Stir and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes per pound. It can cook longer. When the meat is done-remove and cover with foil on a cutting board. Bring the liquid to a boil and reduce by half. Strain the liquid into a gravy boat. Slice the roast against the grain and arrange with the carrots on a platter. Serve with brown rice, fresh green beans that have been parboiled and sauteed, and apple salad.

Yum! Comforting.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Rain, rain, go away....

In some parts of the country that's what people are saying, but not where I live. The heat has been so brutal, although no more than any other year, that we appreciate all the rain we can get. It's about now that it starts wearing on you. But it's going to be around for at least a couple more months. The first year we moved here I made my kids Halloween costumes the same way I would have in Georgia-out of sweat suits. The first frost usually coincides with Halloween so it's a good way to keep little trick or treaters warm. In Florida it just makes for a very uncomfortable night walking around the neighborhood. So now I've lived here long enough to know it will be hot until November.

Today we had one of those frog-strangler thunderstorms that drop three or four inches of rain in a couple of hours. It started out with lots of noise but no rain so I thought it was going around us. But after about thirty minutes of rumbling, the rain finally started pouring down. I ran outside to get all my containers and some indoor orchids out for a drink just as a crash of lightning struck close by. Deciding that death was not an option today, I retreated back inside. Everything got a shower except one watermelon colored angel wing begonia. It will just have to wait until tomorrow.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bad Timing

Happy day! Edgar Renteria is back in the Braves line-up after being disabled for three weeks. OOPS- no... make that back on the disabled list after looking at one pitch in his first at bat. I can't believe it! If it's this frustrating for me to see it happen imagine how he feels. Those ankle sprains can be as tough to heal as a break. Yunel Escobar is doing okay at short in the mean time, but there have been some double play opportunities squandered and errant throws that you can't help but think Edgar would have made that play.

This is a bad time to have a starter hurt- last year it was Chipper. He's okay now but the Braves have got some pitchers ailing and Andruw Jones has elbow troubles. It's all giving me that unsettled feeling that they're not going to turn it around. Maybe when the weather starts to change in Atlanta it will perk up the Braves.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hurricane Season

Time to put together the Hurricane Preparedness Kit. Since hurricane season is half gone, this might be a good time to get one. It mainly consists of three gallons of water for each family member, a jar of peanut butter, some cans of tuna, and a flashlight. The local news stations and newspaper begin reminding us of it around the end of May- as in: it's almost hurricane season so be ready with your Hurricane Preparedness Kit. A special pull-out section of the paper goes into great detail of every item that a person will need when the BIG ONE hits. Public service announcements air regularly to make you nervous about not getting your HPK together yet. By July they have you feeling really guilty if you haven't made a HPK by showing pictures of homeless pets and worried children on the public service announcements. In August they are wagging their fingers and tisking at you for being so irresponsible and not rushing out to buy six gallons of water for every family member and some cans of tuna (with a manual can opener). But every year around Labor Day, we get a scare. A hurricane will make it into the Gulf and start heading our way. That's when the Action Weather Team(motto:We really, truly, sincerely care about you) shifts into high gear. The leader of the team is parked out by the beach in a poncho screaming into his microphone. The rest of the team is spending the night at the station making elaborate maps of where the storm might go and drawing pictures of what the mass devastation will look like. It generally resembles a lunar landscape with homeless pets and worried children walking around. We bring all the lawn furniture into the garage so it won't become guided missiles and hope for the best. The kids eventually get cabin fever and go out to see their friends. Then, just as we suspected, the hurricane goes around us.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Taking Things Literally

A friend was checking her children's weekly math test and was puzzled with her daughter's answers. There was an inconsistency she couldn't figure out. One of the word problems went like this: If the store is three miles away and you were to run there at three miles an hour, how long would it take you to reach the store? My friend's daughter had answered "0". When asked how she arrived at that answer, the girl replied indignantly, "I'm not going to run three miles!".

On a family vacation to Florida many many moons ago, before cars had air-conditioning, we kept seeing road signs proclaiming, "See the Fountain Of Youth in St Augustine". It explained that this was a 16th century discovery of Ponce De Leon. I immediately envisioned a Spanish Conquistador standing next to an ornate fountain selling samples of his discovery to road weary twentieth century travelers.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Happy Birthday Momma

It's Jack and Arvis Bates' baby girl's birthday. She was the toast of Atlanta when she arrived there as a five year old from Augusta with a beautiful smile. Her smile so defined her that her aunt insisted on a smiling face when painting her portrait as a young girl. Momma's high school years were before Atlanta became a bustling metropolis. Fraternity dances and swishy formal dresses were everyday things. She bucked the system and went to University of Florida instead of Georgia, but returned to her beloved hometown after one year. That summer she began dating the man she was to marry. He was the lifeguard at Garden Hills pool and she had taken her youngest sister for a swim. The rest is history: A house built far out from town, six children, moved to Roswell, then Hartwell. She is a blessing to her twenty grandchildren and welcomes countless friends to her gracious home. Her talent at gardening is apparent as you come down the driveway. Pear tress and Crepe Myrtles line the drive. Magnolias and Red buds flank the house. A shade garden on one side is full of hydrangeas and hostas. The left side of the house is planted with Sasanqua Camellias, a Tea Olive, and a Pyrocantha espaliered on the wall. The list goes on and on of trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs, and annuals that she artfully arranged in her garden. Of course, as with all discriminating eyes, she is always thinking of ways to make it better. That means moving, adding , and editing plants. The result is always spectacular.
Her smile is still her most remembered feature. Generous and kind are words always used to describe her. Momma- You're one in a million! Happy Birthday!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Bargain Hunting

A good strategy is essential. The timing is critical. The territory is a mail order catalog warehouse that's open this week to clean out for next season. Discounts began at 30% on Monday with 10% more off each day. Tomorrow the discount will be 70% but it will also be too crowded in there to shop. So we're going in today to get unbelievable bargains at 60% off. We drive up in a pickup truck just in case. Don't want to have to leave something behind just because there's not enough room to haul it. Linens, lighting, and party decorations are on the shopping list, but we're keeping an open mind.
Up and down the aisles we creep, looking behind crates and boxes. The first quarry is two striped shower curtains for $6.00 each. We move on. Around the next corner there's a chenille throw for $2.00-we'll take two of those. Fifty cents each buys an arm load of hot pink linen napkins and a buck for the matching table runner. Some party table decorations in pink and green and game prizes for a kitchen shower go in the buggy. Suddenly three hanging lamps covered with pink silk roses are spotted across the warehouse. Carefully picking our way through the other shoppers we move toward the coveted lamps. They are snapped up and we cruise down the aisle to the register to see what the damage is . All in all, it's been a very successful hunt.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Overcoming Temptation

I've done it again. Bitten off more than I can chew, eyes were bigger than my stomach, mind made a promise that my body can't fill. It happens all the time and it must be a sickness. Mark it down to not being able to overcome temptation. It starts with an email: End of the season clearance!Our favorite items on SALE! Well, it won't hurt to just take a look, I tell myself. So I click on the link. Then in about two seconds I've found an unbelievable deal on the most gorgeous shrubs that I can't live without. Where will they fit in the yard and when can I plant them? Not a concern- they're ordered and on the way. Now I've had a few days to think about it and I'm not sure where I'm going to put them. There are still six coleus sitting in the shade under the big oak tree because it's been too hot to work in the yard much. And I've got three shrubs on the way! What is needed here is a full time gardener who takes direction well. Since that's not going to happen this millennium, I guess I'm going have to work on my self control.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

He's Leaving

Gentle Reader,
The week has finally come. It's sad foretelling came in July and the final days are now upon us. That's right-it's Dan Patrick's last week at ESPN. Even though he hasn't been at his microphone much since his farewell announcement, we we're looking forward to a week of reminiscing and story telling about the good ol' days. Remember the first time he used the catchphrase "en fuego"? What about the Big Shows before Keith Olbermann left Sportscenter and ESPN for Fox News. And all those crazy This Is Sportscenter commercials. Dan's radio show has been on every day at 1:00 for I don't know how long. His biggest concern on the show has been to maintain his street cred and he's gone to great lengths to keep it. At it's best when Rob Dibble was there to buffer Dan, it's still been chugging along with producer Phil acting as backstop. But Dan does the best interviews, bar none, in media today. He always lets the guest speak for themselves which sometimes gets them into trouble. Who can forget the day Tanya Harding had to give the phone to her bodyguard? That was good for a soundbite that still works today. And when Mickey Rivers speaks, it's anyone's guess what he's actually saying. For better of worse, Dan is off to greener pastures. Thanks for the memorable work at ESPN, Dan. It won't be the same without you.
To keep up with Dan and follow his new project go to his website http://www.danpatrick.com/.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

When You Wish Upon A Star

How about sixty shooting stars? That's how many you can see every hour as the Perseid meteor shower takes place around 2:00 AM Eastern time Monday morning. It should be visible in the northeast sky and of course the less artificial light the more you'll be able to see. Happy wishing!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

That Ball Is Outta Here!

Milo Hamilton's announcement of Hank Aaron's record breaking home run has been heard by millions of people. His voice is so familiar because of that momentous night, but I remember it from summer nights growing up in Georgia. WSB was Atlanta's most powerful station and could be heard at night one hundred miles away at Lake Burton in Rabun County. The place at the lake was off limits to television and phones for sanities sake. The only connection to Atlanta was a black portable radio so we could listen to the Braves games. It sounded scratchy and whiny but was better than nothing. Names like Felix Milan, Felipe Alou, and Dale Murphy came over that radio. Phil Neikro and Hank Aaron were stars no matter where they played and they were always Braves to me.
As a dyed-in-the-wool Braves fan I've had very mixed feelings about Barry Bonds breaking the home run record. For years I haven't liked his smirking and scoffing manner. The way he would stand at home plate and admire his homers was so unsportsmanlike. Having his own area in the locker room and playing by his own rules doesn't add up to a team player. A sportswriter once summed up Bonds attitude as,"I'm Barry Bonds and you're not." He's the AntiAaron.

Much has been made of the hate mail Henry Aaron received while playing and going for the record. But far more people across the country loved him and his work ethic. Atlanta had to share him with the world, but we didn't mind. We were proud of the hard-working, kind, and noble man who wore the Braves uniform. The fans in San Francisco cheer for Bonds with a chip on their shoulder. They're saying, "He may be an sob, but he's our sob." Pretty sad when that's all you have to root for.

Maybe I'm too idealistic, but I like my heroes honorable. Everyone has flaws, some just don't wish to recognize theirs. Yes, Bonds has the record and will go into the Hall of Fame. But the best part of this season has been reintroducing Hank Aaron to young fans and letting them know that his legacy is still alive in baseball today.

What DoYou Collect?

Blue Willow china, cinnabar boxes, children's toy sewing machines? Maps, baseball bats, or old fishing lures? All around the house are collections of favorite things. Toy cooking utensils sit in an old tin box on the shelf in the laundry room. They are brought out at Christmastime to decorate a kitchen tree. Glass refrigerator boxes take up room in my pantry. They remind me of my grandmother's kitchen. There are baskets full of aluminum ice trays, wooden handled strainers, and melon shaped pudding molds. Some people say it's old junk-I think it's charming. We broke our own rule and had a garage sale once. It was amazing what people came up and asked for. The collectors were easy to spot. They knew what they were looking for. If they didn't see it they asked you if it was in the house. Things like old cameras, military equipment, and movie projectors were popular. Not for me, but someone out there loves them. Collecting is such a personal thing. My collections usually remind me of things my grandmothers had. Like the sewing basket I bought last fall in Greensboro, Georgia. They were both such warm, caring ladies, it gives me a connection to the feeling I had in their homes. I also love to see the toys I had as a child. None of mine were saved so it's fun to see that they are still around, undoubtedly been sitting in an attic- forgotten until the place is cleaned out. Then the find becomes a treasure for the collector.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

How Old Are You?

Take the Real Age Test and find out. It's tough but if you're very honest about your answers the result is a thorough analysis of your overall health. It gives easy to follow advice on ways you can improve on your lifestyle and diet. The results are the same if you ask for follow up emails or not, so don't worry about lots of advertising clogging your inbox.
I just found out I'm three years younger than my chronological age and they gave me lots of ways to improve on that. It's encouraging to hear about what you're doing right for once. Now I need to start flossing and eating more vegetables everyday.


Soap is one of those things at the bottom of the grocery list lumped in with baking powder and paper plates. It's an after thought- grabbed off the shelf as the buggy speeds on it's way to checkout. Probably not much consideration for the color or scent. Maybe there's a coupon involved in the decision. Or it's the kind that Mother always used. Not for me! When the Caswell-Massey store opened in our town, I was the first one in line. There's a whole wide world of wonderful soaps out there just waiting to be discovered. Soap from France and Scotland and Switzerland. Soaps made with almond and ginger and honey. Shapes and sizes that confound the imagination. The soap aficionado is always looking for the most exotic combination of fragrance, color, and form. A golden octagonal made with beeswax and a bee stamped on top. A huge handmade oval colored green from the extra virgin olive oil inside. Dried flowers, leaves, and ground fruit pits are mixed into some. Bears, bunnies, and bird soaps can bring a collector to his knees. They simply must come home to fill jars and baskets in the powder rooms. Even if there's enough soap in the house to bathe the entire Chinese Army, a bar made of fig and cassis cannot be ignored. Right this minute there's an Alice in Wonderland collection out there calling my name.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Tattoo Number Four

My baby boy just came into the room a little too excited. Uh-oh, somethings up. He then starts telling me he has something to tell me and not to get upset. Bad sign. If he has to resort to emotional blackmail it's a bad sign. Next he leans over and lifts his right arm. There, on the inside of his bicep is an inky black circle. No it's a peace sign- that's worse. Inscribed around an outer band in block letters it says, "All you need is love." Baby boy proudly states,"It's a Beatles song. I've wanted to do this for a long time." Of course he has. His older brother has three tattoos. His best friend has at least one that I know of. Visit any college campus and you'll quickly see how mainstream tattoos are for this age group. But to me it looks like a scar on his perfect skin. All mothers carefully inspect their babies when they are newborns and everyday after. It's a maternal instinct to keep that baby as perfect as the day they were born. Every cut and scrape hurts a mother's heart. I immediately think even if he decides to remove it later, he'll have a scar. This is a permanent blemish. Of course, he sees it as a personal expression of a deeply held belief. He doesn't have the foresight to know that his mind will change hundreds of times in the coming years. His tastes and beliefs will change. Instead of just taking a poster down off the wall when that happens, he'll have a permanent reminder of what he thought when he was eighteen.

Monday, August 6, 2007

I Scream You Scream...

Time to pull out that old ice cream maker and make your own delicious ice cream. You'll kick yourself later if you don't do it while it's still summer. There are fresh peaches, strawberries, and melons to give it that fresh, sunny flavor. And making ice cream with your family creates the best summertime memories. If you're concerned about the calories use skim milk, skim condensed milk, and half and half. The best vanilla flavoring you can find and premium fruit will make it scrumptious.
Into a clean ice cream churn pour two cans sweetened condensed milk, one quart whipping cream(substitute half and half for low fat). Chill in the refrigerator. Whirl a cup of fresh fruit, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 cup of milk(skim for low fat) in the blender. Add this mixture and 1 cup chopped fruit to the chilled churn. Add milk to the fill line. Put in the dasher and put on the top. Churn with rock salt and ice until firm. Carefully remove and wipe off the container-salt will ruin the ice cream. Take out the dasher and place ice cream in freezer to ripen and freeze. If you can stand it, wait at least two hours. Then serve and enjoy.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Boy's Room

Think of a boy's room and what do you see? Maybe blue walls, baseball pictures, and a red bedspread with checked piping. Or a cowboy theme featuring pony skin pillows and bandanna curtains. Plaid in shades of navy and burgundy red with vintage sailing prints on the walls is a traditional favorite. But what makes a boy's room is the boy who's in it; his treasures collected from a lifetime of adventures. Baseball cards, spent shotgun shells, rocks, and deer antlers begin to tell the story. A dog's bed in the corner and brown bear on the bed. Fish hooks and guitar picks in a cup on the desk. Photos from mountain tops in five states and two countries add more detail. Posters of rock bands, ticket stubs, and wristbands tell of nights out with friends. A bright yellow bike, skateboard gloves, and surf wax boxes whisper of exciting athletic endeavors. Listen... hear the echo of laughter at shared jokes and stolen kisses. The boy's room holds secrets and clues of a childhood lived well-a Bible on the table, histories of ancient battles on the shelf. Now it's time to wipe the dust off the dresser and close the door. The boy walked out of the house, but a man will return home.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Trade Deadline

Tuesday's trade deadline saw a classic John Schuerholz deal bring a big bat to Atlanta. Mark Teixeira was picked up from the Texas Rangers for the longest name in baseball: Jarrod Saltalamacchia. There were some relief pitchers thrown in for good measure. Salty was ready to be an everyday catcher and Brian McCann is already holding down that job for the Braves.
Teixeira started at first against the Astros on Wednesday night. Having played college ball at Georgia Tech, the Baltimore native feels right at home in downtown Atlanta. The crowd gave him a warm welcome and he returned the favor by walking and bringing in his first RBI as a Brave in the bottom of the first inning. Then in the bottom of the sixth he hit a three run homer for his first hit in a Braves uniform. It's his fourteenth of the year. By batting clean-up, he's giving some relief to Andruw Jones who can now relax and look at some good pitches to hit. It seems to be working for Andruw as he hit a solid single to left in his first at bat in the fifth spot.
The buzz about the Braves is that they should be back to pennant winning form this September. Bobby Cox is happy with the look of his line-up and Roger McDowell is more comfortable with his new bullpen regulars. With everyone staying healthy, this season should have a happy ending.