Aack!!!….Cathy says goodbye
October 4, 2010

My Mother hated too much advice too....

A sense of nostalgia washed over me this morning, when on NBC’s Today Show, Cathy Guisewite announced that she had done her last Cathy comic strip. It’s done, over, finished…she wants more time to spend with her real parents in Florida and her 18-year-old daughter. You might think I’m a big Cathy reader, but I’m not. My late Mother, however, who read the newspaper cover to cover every single day…was a huge fan. I can’t tell you all the strips she dutifully cut out and mailed to me over the years, knowing that I would miss it otherwise, and thought it contained some witty wisdom that I could use. She would be so sad Cathy is going away.

The cartoon above she never sent, though she could have….like many aging parents, we adult children sometimes get in the habit of treating them like a to-do check list. “Have you made that doctor’s appointment, Mom?”, “Are you getting enough water? You should drink more water!”, “Are you taking your vitamins?”, ” You know you should be doing some exercises, Mother.”….and so on.

My Mom too, could not believe what I paid for things...

So I really, really tried not to have too many of those conversations, and speak of other things other than what she should be doing…politics(she loved politics), the weather(obsessed with bad weather-woe to you if you were flying in anything other than a sunny day), food(she loved good food to the end), and stories from the past(her true forte).

Bye-bye Cathy...you were a hoot...

So after 34 years of doing comic strips about dating, dieting, money, parents, love and life in general….Cathy…both of them, say goodbye. Thanks for all the chuckles you gave my Mother, Cathy….she was a big fan. And enjoy your real life family…there is life after Cathy.

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Wasilla, We Have a Problem….
August 4, 2010

Jerk alert......

OK, I never like to say I told you so…well, sometimes I like it, but not today.  It was just a few weeks ago that Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin reconciled…announced all was forgiven and that they would be marrying soon. There was mostly icy silence from Wasilla and Sarah Palin on this, and I understood then, just  how she felt…I posted about it that day, using Maya Angelou’s wise words, “Baby, when people tell you who they are, believe them“. Do shallow young snakes in the grass change their ways? Sometimes, but mostly, they do not. Or not for long.

Now comes word that alas, the engagement is off…that one night Bristol and her handsome fiancée prone to jerk-like tendencies, were hanging out, and he drops a bombshell….”Oh, did I mention there’s a chance I’ve fathered another baby? Yeah, it’s true“. Just like that. No comforting her, no sorry I didn’t tell you about this BEFORE we announce to the freakin’ world that we are back together, just there it is baby, like it or lump it. She’s crying hysterically(according to Bristol) and he’s…. just sitting there.

And there was the little matter of Levi’s trip to Hollywood, that he said was see some sports show…turns out he was meeting about filming a musical parody of his tortured relationship with his soon-to-be Mother-in-law Sarah Palin. Not cool. Not cool at all.

So, how about this epitaph for this relationship…”once it wasn’t, then it was, now it ain’t again“. I hope for the baby’s sake, Levi will at least still step up to the fatherhood plate…because no matter what he will always be Trip’s Dad.  But husband material for Bristol? Probably not. The Palins must be breathing a huge sigh of relief that Levi showed his true colors so soon…before a marriage could make things much harder(and more expensive)to disentangle. Their daughter will mend…eventually…and hopefully find someone who is not a not a snake in the grass. Buh-bye Levi.

A Tale of Pimento Cheese and Biscuits….
April 28, 2010

Hands in motion, mixing a huge batch of pimento cheese...yummy...

There are as many ways to make a batch of pimento cheese as there are crackers to spread it on….but there are some rules that should be obeyed….using sharp cheddar cheese, using a good mayonnaise like Hellman’s, add a touch of Tabasco….but there are also some rules that can be broken….such as, never buying pimento cheese at the grocery store. As I’ve stated before, grocery store pimento cheese is just awful. So let me qualify that. If you’re a store that carries Callie’s Biscuits  pimento cheese, then by all means, grab hold and don’t let go.

Callie's employee mixing butter into the flour for biscuits...

Pimento cheese is a new product for Callie’s…a Southern Staple, as they call it. And I guess that’s true…growing up in Alabama there was often a pie plate of pimento cheese in the frig that would make its way into lunchtime sandwiches. A Pyrex pie dish because my Father, who often made it, found it easier to mash the pimentos that way…now you can buy pimentos already chopped. He always let my Mother add the mayo though…he was afraid she’d complain he put in too much.

Anyway, there probably lots of people now, who simply don’t want to take the time to grate the cheese, and add pimentos, Worcestershire, Tobasco, and Helman’s mayo…so maybe many of you have never tasted real pimento cheese….and Callie’s is like homemade…ok, better. When I was in Charleston last week, I called and asked if I could stop by where the magic happens, on famous Meeting Street….the dodgy end says Callie’s daughter Carrie, and they said sure..come on by.

Carrie filling biscuit bags with luscious biscuits.....

It’s a lovely little bakery, with hardwood floors and a big freezer to stock all the different flavors of biscuits. Carrie was up to her neck in alligators as they say, because Piggly Wiggly(love the Pig) had called and said,”It’s Friday and we need more biscuits pronto!” So Carrie was loading packs of Callie’s cinnamon biscuits, ham biscuits, cheese-chive biscuits and buttermilk of course, into bags as fast as she could while we talked. Carrie’s Mother Callie was the originator of the biscuit, and Callie is pretty much retired, though still doing a little catering here and there. And this is her biscuit recipe, that her business minded daughter made into a product…she told her Mom that people all over would want to buy them, and Callie never thought it would amount to much. “Oh, who would want to buy my biscuits?”  But lots of people do, because they are so luscious….as far away as Dean and DeLuca in St. Helena, California. These women know their biscuits.

Callie's...made from White Lily flour, of course....

And the rest is history…Carrie is still growing the business and getting them into more stores…the only place I can find them in Maryland right now, is Graul’s Market in St. Michaels and Annapolis. But I’m hoping that Graul’s here in Baltimore, or maybe Eddie’s in Roland Park would stock them. And the pimento cheese, of course. No shipping fees!  And while I carted down a couple of blocks of cheddar to Charleston with big plans to make pimento cheese….did I? Not once I spotted Callie’s in the Piggly-Wiggly. I’m gonna go spread some on a cracker right now.

More Apartment Therapy…..The Grand Tour
February 2, 2010

Ok, it’s just about finished. While there are still more clothes to move, the daughter is in….ensconced in her first pad, complete with a new cat, named Spencer. More in Spence in a minute. First, some apartment pics and where things came from….I always enjoy looking at pics of other people’s pads(ala the website Apartment Therapy)….so if you do too….here we go. The grand tour.

Entryway...love the boots and lampshade!

First her tiny entry area…hey, at least she has one, though it’s definitely  too small to call it a foyer. The lamp is one of the first things we purchased….from Paradiso on 36th Street in  Hampden. They have the coolest lamps, and the prices won’t scare you to death. Just love that shop. The narrow table(it had to be narrow) came from ETSY, a website Deborah  Weiner turned me onto…the things on it are made by an individual person.  It’s a great resource. The table  was supposed to be black, and we may yet paint it. Doesn’t offend me cream….just kinda blah. The mirror came from Ballard Design on sale…and the thing holding her mail is one of a couple of things we got at Great Stuff by Paul, in Frederick. It’s an old wooden Chinese rice scoop(($29)…and is perfect for mail. (I can’t go to Frederick without stopping in.

Cozy little sitting area in one corner of main room....

And speaking of Great Stuff by Paul….that is also where the antique Chinese window screen you see above came from($89)…they had at least a couple hundred of them. It’s such a great architectural feature, and covers a lot of space. We mounted it with velcro. Sofa from and lamp from Ikea(of course…the new apartment furnisher’s best friend), the white branch table on sale from West Elm, Thomas Paul “Nest” pillow from Gilt, the yellow flower applique pillow also from Etsy.

I've always loved this dresser..now it has a home...

This old dresser I inherited it from my Grandmother when I was a teenager…and I was the one who painted it red(yeah, that was a long time ago). My Mother said, “Are you sure you want it red?” It has become quite “distressed” over the years, but I hung onto it, knowing that someone would love it and have just the place for it one day. And this alcove in the apt, was the place(no doubt it used to house a Murphy bed). In fact, this red dresser was the basis for the entire color scheme for the room. It’s a great little dressing table with some pretty good storage, and my Mom would be so pleased it’s in her granddaughter’s apartment. The Thomas Adler wannabe lamp…is from Lamps Plus.

Definitely a statement piece....maybe our favorite find.

 The chair in front is something I consider one of our great finds, from Overstock. A superbright, mod print…and with lucite legs!! I love it! And here’s what I think…no matter what you’re looking for, if you don’t check on Overstock to see what’s there(and read the buyer reviews if there are any), you’re crazy, or have more money than sense…as Mom would say. You just never know what you’ll find there.  Like this crazy chair that wasn’t expensive.

My daughter loved this yellow toile duvet cover on Pottery Barn….it was backordered on their website, and kinda pricey. We found it for less on Ebay.

Love the chandelier...though it wasn't the easiest thing to mount.

Again, you never know what you’ll find there. Always worth a check. Bed  from Ikea. Side table a long ago buy from C-Mart(you C-Mart). And another great buy from ETSY….the wall decal that looks like a chandelier. While it was ummmm…a challange to put up, it was worth the effort….just love the look. And if  you go to the link above, you’ll see the incredible variety of vinyl decals available, everything from big giraffes, to birds on a branch, to chandeliers, to trees growing from the floor. Very modern, very chic, and an inexpensive way to cover a wall. Check it out.

More vertical storage....what every tiny apartment needs....

And another space and storage solution…this wall entryway unit we found on sale at Ballard Design….it’s in a small dressing area just outside the bathroom. Great for hanging coats and stuff, and extra storage. It’s one thing we learned from my son and the lovely Jennifer in a NYC studio…try to keep things vertical and on the walls, rather than sitting on the floor. Point well taken.

Meet Spencer!

And last but certainly not least….my daughter was dying for a cat….she loves herself some  kitties. So Sunday afternoon we went to the Falls Road SPCA (where there was a bumper crop of  people looking for pets) and found what may be the perfect cat for her. Spencer is 5 years old, and had been abandoned by owners who moved away and left him, if you can imagine such a thing. The neighbors fed him for a few months, and then finally brought him in. Spencer is without a doubt, a cat from whom other felines could learn a thing or two.  Totally relaxed and easy going, he loves to nap on the sofa, and has already made himself right at home. He jumped out of the cat carrier and stretched as if to say, “Yeah, I think I can hang out with you guys for a while.” Such a sweetie has a new home. Two sweeties actually. My girl is starting to feel at home in her new space…and while I really miss her(and I think she misses me too), she’s moving into a new phase of life…a whole new adventure…for her and Spencer.

A Little Role Reversal…
June 30, 2009

Hmmmm...Craigslist, any good jobs today?

Hmmmm...Craigslist, any good jobs today?

We have the most fascinating dichotomy going on at our house right now. As you know, my daughter graduated from college this May, and moved home earlier this month.  So…she doesn’t have a job, like thousands and thousands of other graduates…and while she is interviewing and applying( at some things that I tell her sound sketchy as hell….NO!), so far, employment has remained elusive.

And having your kid come back home after school is O-V-E-R, not just for the summer, is a different animal. When her older brother graduated, his rent in Philly was paid through the summer. I told him, “After that my friend, if you don’t have a job, you’ll have to come home. We’re not paying rent for you to stay here.” Now let me just say, that was a threat for both of us….as much as he didn’t want to move home, I equally didn’t want him to. As it turns out, he did find a job…not that he stayed there very long, but it enabled him to get a start. Whew….One done.

Now that my baby has graduated in the middle of a recession, with a degree in …. wait for it…..psychology…it’s hard to know in which direction to head. We were going over to a friend’s house for dinner a week or so ago, and my daughter looked at us and asked, “What time will you be home?”  Awkward role reversal!! After a long look back, I said, “Not sure, but not late.” Her-“You know I don’t like to be here alone.” Hmmmmm.

So that’s how it is right now….kinda tough all around. I love having the kid at home, really…she’s good company, and  quite helpful, though she calls the chores I give her to do during the day..laundry, empty dishwasher, cooking( she does make a good spaghetti sauce), running errands, etc., being my slave.   And we only fight over the tv once in a while, as long as I give in every so often to back to back C.S.I. episodes. Yeah. And I know that one day before too long, she will find a job…and get an apartment…and possibly never live with us again, if life goes her way. So, I try to enjoy the good times we have together….sail on past the little irritations we have with each other on a regular basis,  and just be in the present moment, like they try to teach me in yoga class.  It’s all good, right? Though I must admit to the hope of finding no C.S.I. on the DVR when I get home.

HEIRLOOM SPARKLERS!!
February 16, 2009

My Moms Austrian crystal earrings....

My Mom's Austrian crystal earrings....

You know, I never properly thanked all of you who wrote when I was in Birmingham, helping my sisters move my Mom into assisted living, so let me do it now….thanks for all the kind thoughts and stories of your own…I enjoyed all of them .

Her move meant yet another downsizing…a big one….which also means finding  new homes for lots and lots of stuff. Including the earrings in the picture. Both my sisters urged them on me, saying, “You take them….you wear jewelry a lot and we don’t!!”….that’s not really true, but anyway,  I ended up with them. And a necklace that goes with them. I made a point to call my Mom this morning to let her know I was wearing them today….she had confided to my sister the other day, “I just don’t know what happened to all my things…”and maybe we were wrong not to do it all in front of her, but we were trying to protect her from the dismantling of her life’s possessions…but perhaps she should have been witness, so she did know where things ended up. But that moment is gone now.

So I did call this morning and let her know I had them on…she said, “Oh, I’m so glad! I remember your Father and I were in Chattanooga Tennessee, and we passed by this shop with Austrian crystal jewelry on sale. I got a necklace and earring set for me and one for Katie Mae  (my paternal grandmother). I don’t know what happened to her earrings, she did wear them sometimes. But I remember buying those…”  And there is a matching necklace, which Mom always liked wearing with a black dress, as it set off the sparkle nicely. I haven’t had a chance to wear it yet, but I will. And my mother knows where at least one more thing is…and perhaps you can see them sparkle on the air tonight at five, and now you know where they come from….see you then!