Either One Would Be a Hit

Every year on the 4th of July, our cousins host a barbecue that I look forward to more than almost any other holiday.  It started out as a close family gathering, but over the years it’s grown to include a wide circle of family and friends.  It’s always fun to see who shows up, and every year there’s always someone I didn’t expect to see or I haven’t seen in a long time.

No one has ever been asked to bring anything, but everyone shows up with something:  an appetizer, a side dish, or a delicious dessert.  I’m a horrible judge of a crowd, but I’d guess there are usually around 50 people or more by the time it’s all said and done.  That’s a lot of mighty good jump-up-and-slap-somebody good food.

I don’t know if you’re planning on going to a similar get-together this weekend, but if you are and are looking for a couple of easy things to take, I have two recipes to share with you.

The first one is my mother’s potato salad.  SHUT YOUR MOUTH!  (It is so good I had to get that over with right off the bat.)  I can’t be anywhere near Mama’s house when she’s making this or it will never make it to its destination.

MARY ANN’S POTATO SALAD

  • 4-5 baking potatoes
  • 2-3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • sweet pickle, chopped
  • red onion to taste, chopped
  • Hellman’s mayonnaise to desired consistency
  • celery seed
  1. Scrub potatoes, put into pot, cover with water.  Boil 30 or more minutes.  When you can stick a fork into them and they are soft in the middle, they are done.  Put them onto paper towels and allow them to start to cool.  Pull off skins and cut out eyes.  Cut into hunks and let them finish cooling.
  2. When completely cool, chop potatoes and put into large bowl.  Salt well.  Add pickle, eggs, onion, and a pinch or two of celery seed.  Mix with Hellman’s until moist.  Chill.  Taste after several hours and add salt as needed.  Turn into desired dish and sprinkle with paprika before serving.

 

The next recipe is for my mother-in-law’s Baked Beans.  This recipe is easy and these are the best baked beans I’ve ever tasted in my life.

NO NAME BAKED BEANS (If I told you my mother-in-law’s name, you’d never believe it and I couldn’t explain it.)

  • 2 cans baked beans (each: 1 lb., 15 oz.)
  • 2 TBSP bacon grease
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and bake, covered, at 325 degrees for 3 hours.  Uncover about halfway through.  Serves 8-10.

Whatever your plans are for Saturday, please be safe.  And please hang your American flag, remembering those who gave us the privilege to do so.

That Was One Expensive Salad

Note:  I’ve been writing this post on and off for three days.  For those of you who have more than two children, I applaud you.  And if multiples are part of your mix, I am completely in awe of you.

Thursday afternoon I cooked a turkey breast.  The house smelled wonderful.  It was like Thanksgiving except for the fact that my mother was nowhere to be found bearing gifts of sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, asparagus casserole, and cranberry salad.  So, really, it wasn’t like Thanksgiving at all now that I think about it.

Huh.  My mind just rambles at will, doesn’t it?

Well, anyway, because I am such a creative chef, we had turkey sandwiches for supper that night.  I don’t know why I didn’t think of having people over so as to impress them with my culinary skills and finest paper plates.  (The dishwasher is on the blink again, and so help me, if the culprit is another mouse, I’m going to dress Duke up as a cat and teach him to meow.)

Since Tater Daddy, Tater Tot and I can only eat turkey sandwiches for so many nights, I decided that we would have a big salad, topped with turkey, for supper Friday night.  Because nary a salad-fixin’ was in the house (except for all that turkey bacon we have), the little Taters and I sweated our way to the grocery store early Friday afternoon.  We were lucky.  The thermometer in my car registered a cool 103 degrees at 2:00.

I had a very short list of things to get:

  • lettuce
  • Craisins
  • cucumber
  • tomatoes
  • sliced almonds
  • Raspberry vinaigrette dressing
  • Sister Schubert rolls (Amen and Amen.)

Under no circumstances was I going to deviate from my list.  Everyone knows that the fastest way to overspend is to deviate from the list.

The first thing I did was pick up two loaves of bread because as soon as I saw the bread aisle, I realized we were completely out.  It’s okay to stray from the list if you intended to put the item on the list in the first place, right?

After getting the Craisins, salad, and a cucumber, I saw the potatoes and picked up a few.  It dawned on me that I have some nice steaks in the freezer that we can defrost and grill this weekend.  Grilling is so much fun when it’s 384 degrees outside, isn’t it?  And honestly, is it really deviating from the list if the item is within arm’s reach of the last item you put in the cart that actually was on your list?  Talk amongst yourselves and let me know.

While choosing the raspberry vinaigrette, I remembered that we were out of Ranch dressing.  Tater Tot is wild about it, and even though he’s a pretty adventurous eater, I wasn’t sure the vinaigrette would be his thang, so the bottle of Ranch jumped in my cart and we darted off.  I can’t let the poor child starve simply because I forgot to put one item on my list, can I?

There’s no way to bypass the bakery, and Schnuck’s makes delicious cookies.  It’s long been the store’s policy that children get a free cookie, and Tater Tot chose a sugar cookie with sprinkles.  We picked out half-a-dozen more to bring home.  I feel way too guilty if I let him eat his complimentary cookie without buying a few.  The word SUCKER is stamped right across my forehead.  I know it and am comfortable with it.

As we made our way toward the “baking needs” aisle, we had to pass the chips.  Wouldn’t you know it?  We were all out of Tater Daddy’s favorite, and when he asks, “Where are all the Ruffles?” I didn’t want my response to be, “Did you see potato chips on the salad Friday night?  Chips weren’t on my list and I do NOT deviate from my list.”   That’s just asking for a night full of grumpy, so we wheeled down cholesterol avenue and threw a couple of bags in the cart for good measure.

Four aisles over there was a display that screamed TATER FAMILY all over it.  PopTarts — Box of 12 — 4 for $10.  That’s about 20-cents per tart, folks.  This purchase had to happen.  Tater Daddy inhales PopTarts, four at a time, every Saturday and Sunday morning.  It’s an 80-cent breakfast, I am not required to cook, and there are no dishes for me to clean.  It’s not a bad way to spend $10.  By the way, have you tried the Raspberry PopTarts?  They are all kinds of high-calorie, non-nutritional goodness.  Y-U-M!

On the way to the freezer section for Sister Schubert’s rolls, we passed the milk.  We always need milk, or at the very least, we’re within a couple of days of needing it, so in went a gallon of cow juice.

Right across from Saint Schubert’s rolls is where the ice cream aisle starts.  I’m not a big ice cream eater.  In fact, I rarely buy it.  It’s not that I don’t like ice cream, it’s just not on my list of top five desserts.  Every now and then I’ll stop at Dairy Queen on the way home from visiting my mother and get a Blizzard, but normally I don’t have any trouble passing up ice cream.

However.  A couple of days ago I was reading a blog where the author said something about eating Moose Tracks ice cream and it sorta stuck with me.  Would you believe that right across from Sister’s rolls, right there on the end of the ice cream aisle, was a big sign:  Schnuck’s Moose Tracks Ice Cream!  I’m not sure what came over me, but a small carton flung itself in my cart, and I can now tell you that it is delicious.  Oh, and so is the Schnucks White Thunder ice cream.  It has white chocolate cups in it with a dreamy strawberry swirl.  Not that I’m a big fan of ice cream or anything.

Our little trip to the grocery to get the items I needed “for Friday night’s supper” came to a grand total of around $70.  

And the salad?  It was okay.

(But the ice cream was superb.)

Smitten

There’s no denying the fact that when your little one starts smiling at you, you’re hooked in a whole different way.

there's the smile

I’d stay and blog longer, but there’s some mutual smiling that needs to happen around here.  

Of course, Tater Tot has been smiling for a while now.  Since I wasn’t blogging when he was a baby, here’s a picture of Tater Tot around the time of his first smile.  It’s also the point at which my heart completely melted, poured right out of my chest, and formed a pool right at my feet.  It was fabulous.

B's first smile

Come to think of it, it still is.

Cute B!

A Picture is Worth…

Our little house has an L-shaped hallway, and part of it is covered in reprints of old black and white photographs of different family members.  My husband spent the better part of his spare time one winter several years ago scanning the contents of photo albums from both sides of our family and burning them onto discs for safe keeping.  Then, because he’s the kind of person who needs to have a project or nine going at all times, he printed several, framed them, and hung them.

I never thought I’d blog about our hallway, but there’s a first for everything.  For one thing, it happens to be what I can see from where I’m sitting right now.  For another thing, it’s kind of dull around here.  Well, as dull as it can be with a toddler, a newborn, and four dogs who are trying to stay cool when the heat index is around 108 degrees.

Anyway.  Here’s the longest part of the wall that is covered in pictures.

long wall

The smoke alarm adds a little something special, don’t you think?

Here are a couple of the shorter walls.

short wall

short wall2

And now, I’ll show you some close-ups of a few of my favorite pictures.

Here are my parents on their wedding day, August 24, 1961.

wedding

This is my grandmother (my mother’s mother) and her bridesmaids on her wedding day, March 14, 1935.  When Grandmama was alive, she kept her wedding dress folded up in a satin case along with the slip that she wore under it.  I loved it when she would get it out and let me look at it.  It was made of pure lace, and it was beautiful.

P wedding

This is one of my favorite pictures of my mother.

Mama

And this is my favorite one of my father.  He was 30 when I was born and started going gray shortly thereafter.  (The irony isn’t lost on me.)  The picture hung in my grandmother’s house, and I used to walk by it and ask if Daddy really had black hair or if he used to dye it.

Daddy

The last one is a picture of my father’s father.  It’s one of the few pictures I have of him.  He passed away when I was around five years old, but I have some great memories of him.

Granddaddy

Have a wonderful Wednesday, friends.

Hugs Remembered

Yesterday was the second Father’s Day without my Daddy.  I thought about him a lot yesterday, which means that I smiled at lot because of all the good memories.

If he were still here with us, we would have taken him out to lunch, I would have baked him a chess pie, and I would have given him a lot of hugs.  I miss being able to hug him.  Something about being hugged by Daddy made me feel like everything was okay.  Even if everything really were okay, he made everything okay-er.

I rooted around and found an old picture of the two of us hugging.  I’m guessing I’m about 17, so he would’ve been about 47.  I have no idea where we were, but I know that I loved him enough to hug him in public when I was a teenager.

Daddy, Me 80s

He was one man who did the Daddy thing right.

I Guess it Could’ve Been Worse…

Annelle:  “I don’t really think things can get any worse.”

Ouiser:  “Of course they can.”

Welcome to my Tuesday.

Small Fry had his last bottle of the night (Monday) around 12:30.  It was followed by a couple of great burps and a mild blowout.  I changed his diaper and his clothes, swaddled him up because he LURVES to be swaddled like a burrito at night, and put him in his crib.

I crawled into my big old bed and actually fell into a deep, wonderful sleep.  

Zeus started barking about 45 minutes later, so I dragged myself out of bed and took him out.  After he wandered around for a few minutes and barked at nothing, I crawled back into bed and shut the door.

Small Fry was awake at 5:00.  By the time I fixed a bottle, he had drifted back to sleep and didn’t wake up again for 30 minutes, so I laid there and stared at the ceiling until he was awake and ready to eat.  Oh, y’all.  The previous blowout was just the opening act to the one he’d saved up.  I practically bathed him with baby wipes and changed his clothes.  Then I changed my pajamas, too.  Bleh.  

After taking out the trash, putting the dirty clothes in the laundry, and praying that Small Fry will be easier to potty train than Tater Tot (who shows no interest whatsoever, Lord help me), I slid under the covers for another couple hours of sleep.

Twenty minutes later, Tater Tot hollered, so I went into his room and helped him get back to sleep.  After that, the dogs needed to go out.

I managed to sleep from about 7:30 to 8:30, and anyone with a newborn will tell you that you’ll take an hour of sleep any way you can get it.  Tater Tot wandered in at 8:30 and snuggled with me for a little while until Small Fry started stirring and then we were up and at ’em.

The morning was relatively dull.  I made a grocery list and tried to figure out how I would fit so many things in the cart alongside Small Fry and considered taking Tater Tot’s little red wagon and towing it behind us.  But then my problem was solved for me.

About the time I was prepping to leave, I let the dogs in.  As I closed the door and locked it, I backed up and stumbled over Hatchie.  I was mumbling something really ugly when I realized that he was having a  seizure.  The poor thing has them every now and then, and they always happen when he’s been outside in the heat.  He shook, fell over, and peed all over the kitchen.  When it was all over, he staggered around and bumped into everything for a few minutes.  After that, I  herded him outside again because the next thing he had to do was poop all over the place (I’ve learned from experience), and I’d had about all of that I could stand for the day.

Since he’s been known to have one right after another, my plan to go to the store got nixed, and we needed to go to the store in the worst way.  We were out diet cokes!  Oh, we also needed minor stuff like milk and bread.  I called Tater Daddy and told him what had happened and let him take his pick:  he could either stop and get milk and bread and diet cokes on his way home, or I could go to the store after he got home.  I hate to spring stuff like that on him after he’s been at work all day.  “Hey, honey!  Welcome home.  I know you’ve been hard at work all day earning a living and all.  Now, come on in and play babysitter while I leave for an hour or so to do what really should’ve been done during the day.  You’re swell!”  It just doesn’t seem right.

Bless his heart.  He came home a little early and stayed with Small Fry while Tater Tot and I went to the grocery.  

We managed to snag one of the carts Tater Tot likes to ride in, and while zooming through the produce department, he spied the grapes.  He loves grapes and he’s always been very careful to chew them thoroughly before swallowing, so I got a big bag.  And because I’m raising a little thief, I let him eat a few.  

I was getting a few sweet potatoes and that’s when I heard the sound of Tater Tot choking.  Between my whacking him on the back hard enough to make him cough up a lung and his unbelievable gag reflex (that child can throw up anything, anytime), that grape popped right out.  It scared the wits out of both of us.  His little eyes were watery and I was asking him if he could talk.  In this weak little voice he said, “Yes, Mama.  I can talk.”

Guess what else he could do?

Vomit.  He threw up right there in front of the sweet potatoes and onions.  My first thought was, Poor little thing.  I never should have let him have those grapes.  Oh, mercy, I’m just unfit.  My second thought was, Lordhavemercy, you are just covered in Dorito vomit.  Why did I let you have Doritos at lunch?  

Fortunately, I stopped thinking and got him cleaned up, and a very nice custodian took care of the floor.  We went right along with our shopping, because after your toddler throws up in the produce section of the grocery, things can only get better, right?

Not in our world.

For reasons that I still don’t understand, Tater Daddy has had me use a credit card for all of my purchases for the past year or so.  It had something to do with frequent flyer miles or points or cash back at the end of the year or free diet cokes or whatever.  I don’t know all the details.  I just know how much I’m supposed to spend before he gives me the stink-eye.  

Well.  

The groceries were all bagged and in the cart.  I swiped my trusty credit card.  It was declined.  I swiped it again.  Declined.  Again.  The cashier ran it through her machine.  It’s a wonder it didn’t eat the card and spit it back out in a dozen pieces.  It’s embarrassing when this happens, but I’m old enough to get past it pretty fast and go right to worried.  The bill is paid every month, so I wasn’t worried that we’d reached the max.  Heaven forbid!  I was worried that someone had our number and was having a field day with it.

Thanks to the handy-dandy debit card, we paid for our groceries and left.  We made it home without incident, which is still hard to believe, and I told Tater Daddy about the credit card nightmare.  It turns out that nothing has been stolen.  The card company was bought by another one, and we got “stuck” in the switch.  I don’t know what that means other than the card wouldn’t work for a day or so while “things” were transferred.  Whatever.

As Small Fry was playing on the floor for his nightly tummy time, Pearl wandered over and threw up a couple of feet away.  Tater Daddy took care of it saying, “I think you’ve dealt with your fair share of vomit today.”  I.  Love.  Him.

After bathing Tater Tot and putting him to bed, feeding Small Fry his last bottle (with NO blowout, thankyouverymuch), and climbing into bed that night, I thought of what Clairee might say about the day’s events.

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

True.  The stuff that comes with being a parent isn’t always pretty.  But it’s always worth it.


Feel the Burn

Small Fry is one of the few babies I’ve ever heard of who actually likes tummy time.

doing pushups

As you can see in the background, Hatchie is mighty impressed.  All 90 pounds of him.

Anyway, Small Fry rarely fusses during tummy time and he’s working so hard to lift his little head and chest off the floor.  Of course, he loves being on his back and looking at himself in the mirror.  

100_0659

His new play gym arrived a few days ago, and he boxes the toys that dangle like he’s a featherweight champion.  (The cow, by the way, isn’t part of the Tiny Love Jungle Play Gym.  It was one of Tater Tot’s favorite toys when he was a baby, and he gave it to his little brother to add to his new gym.  I know.  I had a moment right then and there.)  

Small Fry particularly loves knocking the stew out of the wind-chiming elephant.  

playgym 1

I suppose he’ll be asking for protein shakes and a little weight set any day now.

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