Thursday, September 30, 2010

Simply Sparkly

My simple pleasure this week
 is found in a little pink can.

It’s called a Spritzer,
but I call it a Sparkler
because in its former life,
that’s what this little piece of liquid heaven was called.

We first discovered Sparklers in the 1980s when I was expecting The Practical One. They were not only delicious, they were healthy. We’ve always been a little crunchy granola, you see, and when I was sitting on the nest, we were Mr. and Mrs.Euell Gibbons.

No junk.
This little beverage of sparkling water flavored with natural fruit juices fit the bill. It was and is manufactured by Knudsen Farms and comes in a variety of flavors.

My favorite is red raspberry.
I like to drink it out of a pretty glass.

Back in the 80’s, Sparklers were a budget buster. They cost about $5.00 for a pack of four, high even for today. We purchased one pack per week, and four days a week, I would carry one to school to treat myself over lunch.

They were also packaged differently back then. They came in tall bottles which bore a resemblance to those wine coolers popular at that time.

Which caused a bit of a problem...

One day, a  a student in another class saw the bottle and reported home that a teacher at the school was drinking wine coolers at lunch.  Angry Dad stormed the schoolhouse at lunchtime and dragged the principal to the cafeteria to catch the perpetrator in the act.

My principal was not taken by surprise and knew the identity of both the accused tippler and her drink of choice. He was also confident that one look at me, 8 months pregnant, would put the matter to rest.

So he waited.
  In I waddled
in my designer dress from Omar the Tent Maker,
 carrying my crunchy whole grain lunch
 and sinless Sparkler.

Angry Dad reacted.
“Well that’s even worse!”

He was not to be mollified and held his ground until a further inspection of the offending bottle and a promise  that the cooler incognito would henceforth be opened away from curious eyes to avoid the appearance of evil.

Whenever I drink a Sparkler, I feel the need to yakkity yak that story to some available listener. Today, it was you. 

 I don’t get to enjoy the pleasure all that often.
 For nearly two decades, I didn’t enjoy it at all.

Growing families have a way of turning simple pleasures into silly indulgences, and we focused our budget on more practical things. Sparklers became less frequent and eventually stopped altogether when they were no longer available. 

We assumed that they went off the market, a victim of appearance of evil prohibition.

But a few years ago, the husband stumbled upon these things.

Now packaged in cans and called Spritzers,
they are my beloved Sparklers nonetheless.
See? Knudsen Farms.

I was elated and searched every local grocery store to find more. Unfortunately, this is Coca-Cola Country, and there wasn’t a Sparking Spritzer to be found. Instead, I have to rely on the husband to find them in his business travel and bring them home.

When he does, it’s almost like
getting a bunch of flowers.

I treasure my Sparklers
and dole them out just the way I did
all those years ago...
One a day until they’re gone.

Last weekend, I opened the outside refrigerator, and I discovered...

That good man had ventured from market to market and purchased seven packs of Red Raspberry Sparkling Spritzers.

I was delighted.
I was also cautioned.

“Now, Deb-or-ah,” he said, “You have 28 Sparklers in here, and I don’t intend to buy more for a while. You have no one to blame but yourself if you glug them all down in one week  day.”

So I haven’t.
But this week’s simple pleasure was knowing that I could if I wanted to.

Sharing this today with Dayle at
for her simple pleasures party.
Please follow the link. You will not be sorry that you did.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Quirky Brown Table

Do you see the cabinet in the corner of that picture?

That’s a china cabinet, and it’s just one of the places where I store my dishes. The sister has several as well, and the Duchess has four or five of them. I’ve lost count.

Oh, we have china
And crystal
And silver

Why we feel the oddball need to create tablescapes
 using old bean pots instead
is anyone's guess.
I think we just like to color outside the lines.

In oddball colors.

Well...that’s the way it appears
 because we also have a variety 
of lovely tablecloths.
Irish linen…
Battenburg lace…

Yet, intead, we reach into that old trunk of vintage cotton ones.


 In fairness to the other two on the team, that part is usually my fault. I have this strange obsession with vintage cotton in quirky colors, and I’m a bad influence on good taste.

This week’s quirky cloth is
 brown and yellow and  my fault.
We were going to use a whole set of these neat brown dishes...

When I started campaigning for that tablecloth, 
we opted to save the set
 and use the salad plates only. 
We mixed it up with a brown charger and plain yellow plates stacked in between.

We used some Indian corn tied in ribbon for place cards just to be fallish. 
The names are written in invisible ink.

For the center, we collected a variety of old brown stuff.  
I don't know much about this old crock,
but both it and the bean pot
have been around long enough to be classified as vintage.

And this jug qualifies as antique.

 I actually love this old thing. I know it’s been around since 1904 because there’s a family story about it that took place when my great grandparents were courting, and they married in 1905. The Duchess thinks that it was originally a whiskey jug.

I’m not so sure since it’s signed, marked, and in my opinion too beautiful for corn squeezins, but what do I know?

Whatever its pedigree, it ended up hanging out
 in blog land 
with an old crock, 
a vintage bean pot,
and a quirky cotton cloth.

Now actually, it's not that easy to decorate using those quirky colorful tablecloths...

Which is the reason that this centerpiece keeps changing....

And changing...
I couldn't make up my mind.

Which is also the reason
the Duchess made an executive decision
to lock me out of that vintage trunk until further notice.  

Next week, we're going to my sister's house
 for our  Luncheon Club 
 Lucky for me, my only contribution will be
 the shiny red Kodak. 

Sharing this as always on Susans's porch.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

You're doing WHAT??

So I came home from road running yesterday afternoon, looked at my blog, and noticed something shocking. Apparently, I have somehow convinced 100 kind people to sign on as “followers” here.

And there’s something that I would like to say from my heart.

Are you crazy?

This might be a good time to share with you that here in Debbie Land, no one ever follows me.


This is because I’m directionally challenged. While a student at the University of Georgia, I took a left turn where a right was supposed to be and ended up in downtown Athens at the Ramada Inn. I’ve been lost at Dollywood, lost at Epcot, and don’t even get me started about the confusion which arises every time they rearrange my Super Walmart.

Don’t bother suggesting a compass; it would be no help at all.

I never mastered cardinal directions and have no clearer knowledge of north, south, east, and west than your typical third grader. You know, up …down… side … side. When the husband starts pointing off in some random direction and calling it north, it shorts my circuits.

I still don’t know the difference between my left hand and my right hand, and to this day, I can’t say the pledge of allegiance without rubbing my index finger against my writer’s lump to ensure that I’m using the correct one.

Harmless enough, but perhaps I should remind you that these are words 
...on wheels.

If there’s anything less prudent than tagging along behind a directionally challenged blond, it would be doing so while she is talking and driving.

I’m a B- driver even when my mouth is closed. I didn’t take driver education in high school because I was afraid it would lower my GPA. Somehow, I convinced my usually careful father that he could teach me this driving thing as well as any high school teacher. Bless his heart, he tried. To his dying day, he truly believed that he had succeeded.

He recalled hours of on road instruction.
I recall father/daughter anxiety sessions where I ended up either crying or retreating to my happy place. The Duchess tried as well. In her defense, though, it’s kind of hard to teach someone to drive when you have your hands over your eyes and you’re making the sizzling sound.

After 32 years of practice, I have built enough confidence to motor about in familiar territory. The problem arises when I venture into parts unknown.  I can find the seediest side of any city. Sometimes, I find a new city entirely. The husband once told me that Roswell Road in Atlanta spanned all the way past Pittsburgh.

I made the mental note never to head down Roswell Road by myself.

The husband has a GPS for business, and sometimes, he lets me borrow it. I love our GPS and have named her Gypsy. When I turn her on, I always sing one line from Fleetwood mac’s song of the same name. In my head, I sound just like Stevie Nicks.

The only problem with Gypsy is that she is equipped with too many options. Not a problem for a normal person, but I’m also an impatient clicker. If some piece of technology is not responding quickly enough for me, I double click or find some random button to boost it along.

This is the reason that I know the word
 in 17 languages.
If you *got* that… hello kindred soul.

If you’re waiting for a reason for this ramble, it’s this:
Sometimes, if you meander long enough, you come right back to the place where you started.

So here I am at the beginning.  And I ask again...
Are you crazy?

I’m truly appreciative of every little picture over there on that side board. It’s nice to know that I’m not talking to myself here. Just to be on the safe side, however, let’s not call you followers. Let’s just call you friends.

Thanks, friends.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Simply Dining

If you’re looking for a Tablescape adventure, you’ll have to scroll down to yesterday's post. This one takes place at a table of a different sort.

The family table

I love the family table, and gathering with the extended family around one on Sundays is a simple pleasure.

Ok... simple for me. The Duchess does all of the work.  To be fair, we’ve offered to alternate hosting or switch to pot luck, but both offers were refused. Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house, prepared by Grandma, is family tradition.

You won’t find a fancy centerpiece or candles in the middle of our Sunday table. There simply isn’t room with all of the food. It’s just not Sunday dinner unless you can fill every square inch of your plate if you have a mind to.

I usually have a mind to.

It isn’t fancy, either. We use tumblers instead of goblets and stoneware instead of china. We don't need place cards because we sit in basically the same seat every week anyway. The only exception through the years would be  alternate Duchess flanking by grandchildren.

Here's how we roll...
Immediately following the Amen, the Duchess begins to narrate the table, pointing to each food item as if it were not abundantly obvious in the first place. She generally throws in a disclaimer or two, too. She’s sorry to say that those scalloped potatoes could have cooked a little longer. The ham, on the other hand, looks just a tad overdone.

Overdone meat is generally blamed on some poor, unsuspecting pastor and a long winded sermon.

After the tabletop tour, we pass the food. We always pass in the same direction, but since I still don’t know my left from my right, I’m unsure which direction that is. I just wait for something to be passed to me and jump on the bandwagon.

And we talk while we’re doing it.
Just imagine My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Beverly Hillbillies.

If a sauce or gravy is in front of you, you must remember to wait until its corresponding meat marches by before inserting it into the food parade. If you’re talking and miss the gravy interjection opportunity, you get the two syllable scolding.

When all food returns to its assigned post, we eat. The noise level goes down about a half a decibel for about a half a minute before it amps up again. We talk about church or school or the latest town tidbit. We recap the news. We discuss politics, and it can even get a little heated. Generally speaking, we can solve any major world crisis by dessert and coffee.

Because every Sunday dinner is followed by
dessert and coffee.

Dessert time is a major production for the Duchess. She stands at the counter, coffee pot in hand, and heralds about every conceivable option.

Who wants pie?
Pumpkin or chocolate?
With whipped cream or without?
How about ice cream?

This last question prompts the ice cream flavor proclamation. The Duchess can make a simple pleasure very complicated.

All told, the dinner hour lasts two on Sundays. By this time, most testosterone has skedaddled to another room where remote controls have mute buttons. Those who remain clear away the dinner mess and plop back down at the table for a little more conversation.

I have been known to have a little more dessert too... once I get my second wind.

Without a doubt, Sunday dinner is my favorite time of the week, and though the food is delicious, it's really just secondary.  Simply put, I love Sunday dinner because the centerpiece is family and the main course is love.

I don't know what Sunday dinner will look like in years to come. The truth is that my girls will probably live too far away to share a weekly meal with me. And I'm not foolish enough to think that we will  have the Duchess forever either. So I cherish this simple pleasure, and I try never to take it for granted.

If there is one question that I get asked more than any other, it is the secret to the closeness of our  family. How is it, folks want to know, that you are closer to cousins and uncles than some people are to their own brothers and sisters?

It’s just this:
My parents knew a simple truth
as did my grandparents before them.
Strong families are built
around the family table.

This week’s simple pleasure was inviting you to ours.

Sharing this with Dayle at A Collection of This and That
Please join us for more Simple Pleasures

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

How Grama's Tablecloth Got a Facelift

If you ask me, it's all Walmart's fault.

We weren't going to play with  dishes this week.
We were all busy, after all, and we had too many irons in the fire.
But then the Duchess went to Walmart...
And she saw these green ruffly dishes....
which were the perfect match for her favorite tablecloth.  

A beautiful hand stitched one made for her by her mother,
my grandmother.
I love it too.
Its size and detail remind me of
the hours and hours of love
that went into making it.

She probably would have stopped right there, but then, we started thinking. What it needed, we decided, was a charger to give it a little POP.   We tried a variety of chargers, but they were all too shiney for the muted colors. I suggested a little decoupage,  but apparently no one heard me.
Finally, we found these.

And only a dollar a piece at a local discount store.

In for a penny, in for a pound... 

So we added a salad plate from her everyday ware. Then we added a punch of fall to the tablesetting with leaf plates that my sister had purchased for her fall decorating.

A little flatware, and we're almost done.
We added that soup spoon because we wanted to.
Let's just pretend that we're serving soup out of those little leaf dishes...

pumpkin soup...

For the centerpiece, we decided to use my favorite bowl in the family collection.  It belonged to my grandmother's favorite grandmother. If you're able to follow that, that would mean that it belonged to my great, great grandmother. My own grandmother always kept it on her table, and I always dreamed of owning it one day.

Just thought I'd toss that one out there...

We used fall  mums and some drying green hydrangeas. 
That's a step up from last week's weeds, I think.

Since we were going with that pretend autumn thing, we added some placecard holders
 in the shape of pumpkins.

And we invited the grandchildren to pretend to come.
One pretended to come all the way
from Colorado

My sister and I bought sets of this casual stemware at Waccamaw.

 about 20 years ago...

just about the time we realized those
blue and peach glasses from
The Great Wedding Adventures
weren't all that versatile.

These are.
You'll probably see them again.

So there you have it
How Grama's  tablecloth
 got a fall facelift

And the reason that the Duchess
should stay away from Walmart
when we're busy.
You'll find us hanging out on
Susan's Porch again for

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Great Love Shack Adventure

When the newlywed niece was offered the chance to manage the bank in her home town, she was tempted. Not only is she a farm girl at heart, but the rural cost of living was a strong incentive. Then her father sweetened the pot by offering an old farmhouse to nest on the cheap as well…

They took the bait.

Now, the niece is a finance major who apparently inherited the family tightwad gene. Since the entire purpose of moving back to the farm was to save money, they were determined to do it by themselves and pay with cash as they did so.

I’m even more pleased with that process than I am the finished product, by the way…

Tackling the farm house was no small task.
Living in it while tackling is
an adventure.

We’re not quite sure of the age or original design of the house. It’s old enough to have a dirt floor in the fireplace and no insulation in some outer walls. It has been modernized enough to have a heat pump and a mishmash of oddball cosmetic changes, each indicative of the era in which they were done.

And each needing to be undone
before they could be redone.
Vintage dishware and linens are lovely.
Vintage cabinets and paneling…

The paneling was everywhere
so the groom put down the bride
and picked up the crow bar.
That part seemed to make him very happy.

That’s not white paint there, folks.
It’s birch paneled pretender from the 1960s.
He removed it.

And discovered another layer of paneling.

A lesser man might have given up,
 but he kept demolishing until he found the bare wood.

It might have been  nice if that lower wall, the outside of the orignal house, had gone all of the way around the breakfast room.

It didn't.

However, that oddball ruffled soffit did. 
It bordered the entire kitchen and eating area.

It had to go,
especially the superfluous dangler
between the rooms.

It was just about to come down when the new husband headed to California for a month of training.

Not to worry... 
Her grandmother, the Duchess
 donned safety goggles and shower cap
and picked up the Sawzall
to make the ruffled eyesore a bad memory.

I would have snapped a picture but I was threatened. Plus, I was too busy being a human support beam to pick up a shiny red Kodak.

What a difference it made.

They added bead board panels to the lower half of the eating area. Then, her husband cut leftover bead board and attached it to the back of every cabinet for a clean, uniform look. For whatever reason, that’s one of my favorite parts.

They left the white countertops as is for now
 since they didn’t clash at all,
 but they added a pressed tin backsplash behind them. 
I think it adds a perfect farmhouse look.
They painted and glazed the cabinets
for a fun, youthful, look.

They laid a new floor.
And changed the hardware.
And the lighting.
A little sewing for the curtains and table runner.

And there ya go.
A newly nested kitchen.

And After

The lighting is pretty bad in these shots.
I didn't realize it until the 30 country mile commute home...
They used that existing nook to
display glasses.
Here's a view with a peek
into the living room in progress...
With her permission, I plan to yak all about that in the future.
And maybe the little guest room...
And her awesome master bedroom.
And a few other nested spaces with it.
Some friends have asked them if it’s all worth it.
Let’s see…
A nest of their own.
Without a debt…
With this view

You can be the judge

Sharing this on Susan's Porch
Metamorphosis Monday


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