I've not read as much as I would like the past two months. But then, anyone reading as much as they'd like doesn't like to read as much as they should, doesn't have a family to love, or is neglecting their own (or they've learned the secret of time-management that I never will). Post-holiday stupidities gobbled most of my time, but now, in the uncomfortable lull between winter and spring, I welcome book recommendations. One shelf of a bookshelf is already stacked double-deep with books on my waiting list, so what better action is there than to solicit more?

I also welcome any guitar-playing tips.
My fingers still fumble so freely fumbreely.

My warning--I will probably bypass most recommendations in favor of helping the wee girls with the complexities of play, nourishment, and bodily functions.

oh, and mopping.
When the floor begins to crackle and squeech under my feet, I sigh and brandish the mop.

(Speaking of neglecting one's own, Millie, Raider of Pantry Closets, has slathered herself with peanut butter in the short moment it took for me to write this...)


Here is a post fit for a homemaker's homemaker.
Abigail the Homemaker.
(Who would've thought....)

I love experimenting with recipes for sweets and breads (go figure), but it's only occasionally that I try a new main course recipe. Some are less than stellar, but the sporadic good meal that results is worth it, I suppose. Last week, I made Cajun Blackened Chicken for supper, mercifully tempering it with a medley of yellow and green beans and baby carrots (tossed with minced garlic, onion, basil, butter, salt, pepper, and sugar) and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Our mouths didn't return to normal functioning until a few hours had passed, but after consideration--and a few days to recuperate--John and I have both concluded that it was delicious. One note--I used almost as much spice coating on 2 chicken breasts as should probably be used on 4 or 6. Perhaps I should tone it down a bit next time. (I probably won't, though; the thrill of wondering if we've ruined our tastebuds for life is too enjoyable).

5 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2-1 tsp. ground dried thyme
1-2 tsp. cayenne powder (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon finely ground white pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder

boneless, skinless chicken breasts or skinned chicken parts

Mix spices very well. Reserve some to store in airtight container. (You probably won't use it all unless you're making a zillion servings or you want to exerience what John and I did.) Skin chicken, if using chicken parts. Rinse and pat mostly dry. Coat with spice paste. (At this point you can either dredge the chicken in melted butter before placing in pan or just melt butter in the pan itself.) Arrange chicken in hot skillet. Cook 5 minutes on each side, or until spice paste darkens. Lower heat and continue cooking until done (juice should run clear, not pink, if a thick piece is pierced deeply with a knifetip), or finish in a 350ยบ oven.

Now that this recipe floats freely in an artificial Blog Bubble, I absolve myself of any responsibility for its potential use by others.


the girl on the left is not a girl. he's eddie, the grandson of one of our downstairs neighbors (frances), and he's the most pleasant 8 year old boy millie's ever had a crush on. he has no school this week, and he and millie built this house for themselves to live in until President's Day break is over. Posted by Hello

it's nice when one bin entertains for hours. and hours. and hours. Posted by Hello

i plan to make girls rag dolls for this upcoming Chrismas (sh. don't tell), but from the looks of it, millie's stretching herself to the limit to tend to those she already has. thanks to grandma owen, great grandma owen, and alexandra's pass-alongs, millie had 5 dolls to keep her company during yesterday's nap. (at least she'll be accustomed to a large family by the time we have 12 or so children...) and how does one go about weeding out one's baby's babies? Posted by Hello


spring the apple-blossom girl...

.....couldn't embrace our little plot of a backyard too soon, in my opinion.
I'd even welcome her as a wanton hussy, arriving without so much as a proper "howd'y'do."
(c'mon, sod, soften!)

I'd escaped full-blown spring fever until today, when the meals I most wanted for supper called for freshly torn herbs, and now I'm longing to sow our usual vegetable garden with this year's anticipated twist of herbs and wildflowers.

But, oh, do I have impossible visions, and what I wouldn't give for a garden running over. I started making a list of what I want to plant when she comes. After a bit, I started to laugh at myself. Look below and you'll understand my mingled mirth and disappointment.

sweet and hot peppers
plump red and yellow cherry tomatoes
Early Girl tomatoes (to munch on while everything else is still ripening)
roma tomatoes (for canning...After 3 years, we'll finally have garden spaghetti with Jack Frost!)
a variety of leaf lettuce
red and white tators
burpless cukes
summer, butternut, and acorn squash
sunflowers for shade and seeds
zucchini for everything under the sun
green and yellow beans
sugar snap peas
Sweet Millenium corn (oh, honey, it's sweet like sugar)
peppermint and spearmint,
maybe even a few radishes thrown in for good measure
and I'd love to have a rhubarb patch
and, oh, dear.......
If only we had acres instead of inches.

My list requires the use of the entire back yard and a goodly portion of the neighborhood, as well! (And I've already seriously contemplated and then ruled out the option of tilling our entire backyard.)

So to those of you with elbow room and land for army gardens, use them well! And think of us in Depew, doling out our soil as wisely as we can, skimping every last inch.
Stay tuned.
In several months, I'll unveil which handful of vegetables made the cut....


The Hole Truth.

i love donuts.

i really, really love donuts.

and that's all i have to write
on this Lenten Sunday night.

jumping beans. Posted by Hello

yep. candy heart jammies hand-purchased by grandma owen. Posted by Hello

yep. jolly fleece jammies hand-made by my mom for Christmas. millie wears hers all day long. Posted by Hello


slick-skinned Posted by Hello

scrubby dub dub, 2 fish in a tub Posted by Hello

eating, as always. Posted by Hello



I have returned to post this because my husband snores on the couch.
I skim over a sea of connected topics, but I have no time to do more than skimming, and Hello just froze and stole some more. (NOTE: I wrote HELLO, referring to Hello Picasa, not to the lake of fire.)

I have no really close relationships with older people, and I regret that. I have no memory of my Grandma Johnson, my Grandpa Johnson died when I was in college, and my Grandma and Grandpa Manwaring died when I was 14 years old. I have wonderful memories of my three grandparents whom I did know and love (although I regret not knowing them more than I did).

Anyway, we all know of America's, and, in general, Western society's, doomed pursuit of lost youth. Zillions of dollars are spent for vanity's sake. Age, and the wisdom that should come with age, are not valued, the elderly are shuffled out of sight, and attitudes toward older people often border on shame, if not disdain.

Advertisements and commercials usually portray older people in one of two categories--in a comic, caricatured role or as physically beautiful women with silver hair, a chic sense of style, and an obviously vibrant life (or elderly men with twinkles in their eyes and muscles on their bronzed bodies). "They (and you) aren't old people," the commercials whisper, "just older YOUNG people."

This past week I read a commentary in the newspaper in which the author argued that size and age don't determine loveliness, that the insecurities of consumers are being abused by beauty companies out to make money, blah, blah, blah.... Here's a quote that brought a rueful grin to my face. Writing about Dove's new campaign to include "beauty" of various types, she states (with bold lettering enhancement added by yours truly),

"And I have to tell you, I love what they have done with the results. Their new ad campaign features women of every size and skin color tossing off long bleached-blond wigs in favor of real hair. The company's Web site--campaignforrealbeauty.com--opens with a dazzling photo of a 95-year old women. She's not some pasty-face grandma stooped over in a rocking chair. She's olive-skinned, she's laughing, she's looking right into the camera, and she's more alive than any of the expressionless, Botoxed women you see at the country club. In a word, she's beautiful."

Three of My Gripes:
First of all, she assumed that her readers frequent country clubs, secondly, the featured 95-year old woman is a natural beauty, physically gorgeous any way you cut it (yes, I broke down and went to the site), and thirdly, by making mention of a "pasty-face grandma," she shows that she completely misses the point (along with Dove, I might add). While spouting jargon about the necessity of valuing "real," inner beauty, they simultaneously show their lack of regard for that beauty by showcasing women who are undeniably beautiful physically, even though their beauty isn't of the smooth and twiggy type.

Here are some weary-brained conclusions.
1. The lack of interaction between age groups that begins, in some form, with government schooling and ends with the young and the old having a mutual disregard for each other is lamentable.
2. The experiences of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., should be valued and passed along to us.
3. I don't look forward to diminished physical abilities (and likely mental, too...just look at me in the flower of my youth), but if God allows me to grow old, I hope loved ones value me.
4. Dove's lame "campaign" would have impressed me if they featured a pasty-face grandma stooped over in a rocking chair.

Post script: my teeny-tiny mother says that she grew us children big so that we could carry her from room to room when she's old, and there are 7 of us to improve the odds of one of us taking her into our home when she's 105 instead of being tossed in a nursing home.

I plan to have 47 children of Anak. My odds will be even better.

thanks to the incomparable nan, who painted this stylish steed. Posted by Hello

The Lone Raccoon. Posted by Hello

john will occasionally buy the newspaper for me. rarely do i listen to the news on the radio, so reading the paper allows the media to pitch its views sideways to me. one perk that comes with reading the paper is learning morality from miss manners. (the only place to find mention of right and wrong is in the etiquette column.)
 Posted by Hello