Monday, January 30, 2012

My New Frying Pan

After serving me faithfully for umpty-bajillion years, my frying pan called it quits last month.

It was a good pan; Revere Ware, 12 inches across, with a matching lid. Good stuff.

But over the holidays, we fried latkes in the pan and saw that the pan's bottom had warped, doming up in the middle and pooling all the oil around the edges. That made latkes in the middle of the pan burn. Not good!

A warped pan bottom is unfortunate. Unfixable. And I've had this pan so long, I used to fry dinosaurs in it.

It was time for a new frying pan.

Enter this beauty:

This Calphalon pan has a clear glass lid, which my old pan didn't. It also has a short handle on the side opposite the long handle. I like that; it makes it easier to lift when filled with heavy food.

And the handles are the same sturdy material as the pan, which means the whole thing can go in the oven. My old pan couldn't go in the oven because its handles were some sort of high-impact plastic.

Plus, this thing is just dang gorgeous:

As the icons on the bottom of the pan show, it can be subjected to just about any kind of heat except microwave.

And, since it's a little larger than my old pan, it can really sautee up a lot of food at one time.

As for the old frying pan, I'll keep out of the land fill for a little bit longer. It is still useful for "wet" things, like spaghetti sauce and paella, where it won't matter quite so much that the bottom is domed.

Mmm, paella. Excuse me; I think I hear dinner calling!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Freezer Find

I try to keep my freezer organized. Really, I do.

But every once in a while, something goes unlabeled. Or something skitters to the back of the compartment and hides there for months.

Or something goes unlabeled AND it hides. That's the worst.

Recently, one of these Frozen Blocks of Mystery shimmied to the top of the dog pile of frozen things. I set it in the fridge for a day to let it thaw so I could poke at it and figure out what it was.

Leftover Pumpkin Bread Pudding! Two neat squares, just right for The Hubby and me.

Luckily, I still had some of the caramel sauce I made back in November kicking around.

Unexpected tummy-warming desserts on a cold winter's day: Utter bliss!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Love Letters

Recently I inherited a shopping bag full of postcards, notes, and letters I'd written to my parents when I was young. It seems like my folks kept everything I ever sent them:

It was odd to once again see my very young, schoolgirl handwriting, so different from my angular, jumbled hand now:

I was 10 when I wrote this postcard to my best friend while on an epic trip my family took to Europe. I remember being obsessed with "Romeo and Juliet" about this time:

In the jumble of notes, there is a valentine I made my folks when I was an adolescent. Not very accomplished, but heartfelt:

And a note I wrote as a teen, detailing when I'd be home, and where I'm going, and can I please have the car? Ha ha!

There's a newspaper clipping of me from a college dance performance:

 (Oh, what a flat tummy I had back then!)
There are silly scribbles:

And housekeeping questions. This one makes me smile: Long-distance phone calls were expensive when I went to college. It was cheaper to dash off a postcard:

Going through the trove of old letters, I recognize stationery I used to have that I loved:

I recognize the typeface of my beloved electric typewriter, upon which I banged out oh, so many papers for my English major:

This one is interesting. I wrote it the first year of college, right before my folks met The Hubby (back then he was just The Boyfriend). They didn't think much of him at first!:

In this postcard, I'm in college, asking for more money (a typical request!) and complaining about the high cost of medicine--a whopping $6.10 for something to treat a back injury I sustained. Hah! What a difference between then and now:

It's a real gift, having all these cards, notes, and letters back in my hands again after so many years. I look at them and marvel at how much things have changed.

Well, most things.

That back injury still plagues me to this day.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Molasses by Mail

 A couple of days ago, a package arrived for me. Mu Shu and I were very excited.

"It's edible, isn't it?," Mu Shu seemed to say. Well, to a pug, there isn't much that isn't edible.

Yes, Mu, it's edible. It's old-fashioned dark molasses, the kind I need to make my mother's recipe for molasses cookies. It's getting very hard to find. None of my local grocery stores carry it any more, not even the hippie-dippy one.

God bless the Internet. I found it right away. I had to buy four bottles as a minimum purchase, but no worries: That just means more cookies! And because it has such a high sugar content, this stuff will keep for a long time.

Just looking at this little rabbit in his natty attire makes me so happy. Suddenly I'm eight years old, and something wonderful is about to come out of the kitchen.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Midwinter Wish

For those of you still in the grips of cold, snow, and ice....

I want to send you this little bit of warmth and sunshine....

Mandarin oranges in the late afternoon light....

A simple wish for you.... find something today that warms you down to your toes.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Milk Crate Find

 Almost like clockwork, somebody in my neighborhood kicks a milk crate to the curb.

Why would anybody toss out one of these hard-working items?

They're so sturdy, so useful. In a family room, they can corral toys, extra toss pillows and throws, and yet-to-be-read books and magazines.

In a bedroom closet, they can store off-season clothes, boots, free weights, or things destined for the charity truck.

In a linen closet, they're perfect for beach towels, sleeping bags, extra quilts or blankets, or stacked sheet sets.

In the garage, they're indispensable for rounding up small cans of paint, gardening or power tools, coils of rope, sports equipment, recyclables, extra hoses, or cables.

This particular milk crate is very heavy duty. (It's also a very odd pea-soup-green color, but no matter.) If it made it into the landfill, it would be eons and eons before it biodegraded...if it ever did.

What a waste that would be. So this crate is going into our garage, where I'll use it to organize some of our shifting piles of stuff.

Unless I need it to contain a wayward pug.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

An Abbey, a Countess, and a Toad

My favorite television show right now: "Downton Abbey," a PBS Masterpiece Classic.

My favorite line from the show: "You are a lady, not Toad of Toad Hall!"

It's uttered by Maggie Smith, as the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

The character she's referring to is in this childhood classic, "The Wind in the Willows." 

Love the show, love the quote, love this book.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Junk Drawers & Things Organized Neatly

Junk drawers: Everybody's got one or two. Or--in our case--three, all in a row in the kitchen. Mostly the contents are under control, thanks to a lot of little cardboard boxes corralling stuff:

But that wooden box in the photo, above? What a mess!

I love the box itself: the bottom to an old cigar box my dad had:

After being neglected for a couple of years, this box needs to be sorted out. Some of it is misplaced office supplies, some is useful, and some is simply trash:

So I tipped out the contents on the kitchen table and sorted through it all:

What I found was ridiculous. I surely don't need this many metal split rings! I kept four or five of the sturdiest ones and tossed the rest into my city's bin for metal recyclables:

I don't know what these keys and key-like things are for, but I love their shapes. So they get a pass. (Visual appeal ranks high, around here.) Back into the box they go.

There's a small handful of marbles and metal ball bearings. Those stay, too, because they are so pretty.

These orphans are bits and pieces of games. They get relocated to the games closet:

This stuff, below, is truly junk. I don't even know what half of these things are. I figure, if nobody's looked for them or needed them for two years, off to recycling and trash they go!

Interesting metal shapes. The picture hanger gets relocated to the tool box; the bobby pins to my bathroom. The rest is recyclable:

An assortment of tokens and coins, below. The American coins go in the charity box, the foreign ones go to The Boy, who began a collection when he was little, and the token to a bar in Hawaii on the far left goes back in the box to commemorate a trip we took to Norway, where we met the bar's owner.

I use clothespins from time to time. They can close a bag of chips, peg up drip-dry clothes in the laundry room, and temporarily hold broken things together as the glue sets:

A collection of cat and dog ID tags, some from dear animals who've died. They stay; high sentimental value trumps usefulness every time for me!

After I relocated some things, tossed some, and recycled some, I had far much less in the junk box. And it made it easier to find what was left in the box.

By the way, if you like pictures of things organized neatly, take a look at "Things Organized Neatly,"  developed and curated by a design student. Each day he posts a picture or two of wonderfully tidy things. Lots of visual fun!


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