Monday, December 31, 2012


My hub makes lists. I do not.

But I think I will change that in 2013, since I tend to forget to buy important foods when we grocery shop. And I do not remember meeting or appointment dates like I used to do.

The main list I plan to make is "The Things I Never Ever Plan to Do Again in This Life."

Number 1 will be to never scrub any floors with a bathroom grout brush. Don't get me wrong, our brick foyer and kitchen floors look (and smell) terrific. But that was a LAST! Never, and I mean NEVER ever again will I scrub a floor with a hand brush while scooting around on a plastic step stool. I could have used my rolling garden stool, but it was dirty and too rolling.

So that is the first item on my new list. Think I will post it on my freezer door. Isn't that what people do with lists?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

No Deal Cleaning Brick Floors with a Toothbrush

Been there, done that!

For ages I have been looking at little doggie dribbles on our hardwood and brick floors. I have vacuumed, wet mopped, dry mopped, broomed, and mop mopped. Nothing seemed to work. Yesterday I wet wax mopped with a brush and brick and tile cleaner a section of the brick hallway to see if that worked.

No deal!

Then I Bruce spray cleaned the hardwood floor in the living room, but I still saw spots.

No deal!

This morning I used my fingernail to scratch away the dry spots on the hardwood floor. Actually there were not so many, since Bruce spray dissolved a few. And Flip does not spend much time running around in the living room anyway.

Then I tried the fingernail trick on the brick. Really did! Before I ruined my nail, I realized this did not work.

No deal!

Then I read that cold water would remove protein spots, so I tried a piece of ice. That somewhat worked, but that was idiotic (and cold).

No deal!

After that, I read that vinegar cleaned everything. So I tried it straight with an old toothbrush. It worked. Deal, deal, deal! But I don't want our house to smell like a pickle jar!

So no deal!

Next I used the toothbrush with leftover (cold) brick and tile cleaner from yesterday. Finally, I was seeing some results.

But still No Deal!

I am not stupid enough to clean all of our brick floors with a TOOTHBRUSH! So I grabbed our bathroom grout brush and attacked the spots. Hours later (and a stiff pulse later), most of the dreaded puppy spots are gone.

Now to attack the brick floor in the kitchen tomorrow.

And the clean smell is a good Deal.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Our Pond is Full (Again)

My readers are probably as sick of hearing about our pond as I am about reporting on it.

But as of today December 28, 2012, our newly renovated pond is FULL. Actually, it is overfull.

So you know where this is going---the overflow water is flowing out of our new drainpipe, across the "super highway" or "landing strip" or "secondary pond," through our old drainpipe, and out UNDER the riprap on the paparazzi's land.

Just where it would have ended up if nothing had ever been done to our levee or pond!!!

What idiots!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Spare the Rod or Weapon and Spoil the Child?

Do not spank the child!

I remember my first year of teaching in 1970 as the first and last year that as a teacher I had permission to strike a student. On entering the classroom for the first time, I was given a wooden paddle with a few holes bored into it. I must say that the only time that I remember using it was the day I broke the little 7th grade scoundrel's watch, as he used his arm to protect his rear from the blow of my paddle.

Another time that year, I watched a female physical ed teacher lean into my 1960's style classroom window and paddle a tiny boy she had seen misbehaving in MY classroom! No "excuse me" or "can we talk about this." She just flapped open the ground floor classroom window, stuck her HUGE body into the window, called the boy's name, and started beating him with the paddle. Then she walked away without saying a word.

The next year I was transferred to another school. That was 1971. No paddles or such were allowed in the classroom. I am not too sure what went on in the administrative office, but "no paddling" for teachers. Boy, was I glad.

Now I read that some people want to "arm" teachers and school administrators. WHAT???

Sorry, teachers and administrators. I have seen what you can do to your students with a paddle.

You do not need any kind of weapon!

Leave our children alone!

Agaves in the Wild

In order to have a little peace, I just sent Flip to his bed. I swear he gave me the same snort sound that my own child (and a couple of thousand others at school) did when he did not want to do what I requested.

And now he has just trip trapped back with a toy rabbit in hopes that I changed my mind.

No way we are going to play "drop it" or "find it" now.

Flip and I went on our morning walk today in thick frost, thus below freezing temps.

He is on the leash today, since we have had it with the wood ticks. Nothing seems to work when he goes out into the deep woods for hours at a time. Those tiny critters have a feast, and Flip looks pretty pitiful after we pull off the ticks (and a pinchful of hair=lots of tiny bald spots). So it is off to the Vet today to see if we can buy a new tick collar, that really works.

The most interesting things I saw today during our cold, refreshing walk were the baby agave plants growing in the compost heap on the fence line. Earlier this year I pulled up baby agave plants instead of cutting them down. I saved them for a week or so, thinking I would transplant them somewhere. Well, I threw them away on the grass and weed heap across the driveway, and now they are thriving.

Think I will leave them there and just see what they do. Won't our big city neighbor be surprised at his agave garden?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Greetings from the Neighborhood

On my early morning walk with Flip this morning in the Neighborhood it was like being in a huge jungle. Instead of monkeys jumping from tree to tree, there were gray squirrels.

Flip knows that he does not have a chance, either with their height in the trees or with my leash, but he can dream. At our house he has caught a few, but he won't be munching on fresh squirrel meat with me.

The Neighborhood was peaceful and quiet at 7:30 am on this Christmas Eve. No school and lots of neighbors already on their holidays. No barking dogs as we walked down the street and around by the community swimming pool. Just a little fog and a lady and her dog.

Me and Flip.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What Americans Know (or should know) About The Netherlands

Just take a look at this video I found in the in the Dutch newspaper .


Friday, December 21, 2012

Chocolate Fillers Recipe

I have too many cans of sweetened condensed milk in the pantry. Some are slipping by the Sell By date, so it is time to use 'em or throw 'em out. As I hate to waste food items, I have learned to be creative lately. Yesterday I opened another "overaged" can of sweetened milk and discovered a lovely golden colored cream. Tasted delicious, but I thought I had better be safe and cook it in some dessert. So I grabbed the nearest chocolate chip package, and this yummy recipe was on the bag.

Chocolate Fillers  (Log House Foods)

3/4 cup Butter or Margarine, softened
1 cup Brown Sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 cup Quick Cooking Oats
1 can (14 ounces) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup Log House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream butter with brown sugar and salt. Blend in flour and oats until particles are fine. Press about 2/3 of mixture into bottom of greased 13 x 9 inch pan. Heat condensed milk in saucepan. Stir in chips. Spread over mixture in pan. Sprinkle with remaining crumbs; press down lightly. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until light golden brown. Makes one 13 x 9 inch pan.

(A couple of changes I made: I melted the unsalted butter in the microwave. I mixed the butter and brown sugar and salt with a fork. No mixer used! I added the flour and regular oats (I like to see what I am eating!) and continued with the fork. When I got to the heating of  the sweetened condensed  milk, I put it in a plastic bowl and popped it into the microwave for 30 seconds. Then I added the chocolate chips and zapped that combo another 30 seconds. With a good stir, that layer was ready. My crumbs for the top were more like globs, but they still baked up fine. Yummy, yummy.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Demise of the Christmas Card

Yesterday we received our first Christmas card for this season. It is a beautiful photo of my niece's two lovely daughters with a message of Love for this holiday time. Thank you, C., for remembering us and keeping up the card tradition.

Every year I keep wondering how many fewer cards we will receive this year. And I will not be surprised if C's is the one and only. Not complaining, just saying.

Back in early November I found two boxes of Christmas cards in a kitchen cabinet at the family apartment in The Netherlands. I put them out on the coffee table as a reminder that this year I had plenty of time to "write" them and mail them from there. Well, they sneaked their way back into a drawer somewhere in the almost deserted apartment. Needless to say, they are as pristine as I found them. Maybe my sister-in-law will find them and send them while she is staying there. Or maybe I will find them again next winter?

I stopped sending holiday cards years ago. It was just after I discontinued mailing Christmas gifts.

When I moved to Europe in the late 70's and early 80's, I shopped for packable presents for our American family. Then I posted the boxes and hoped they would arrive intact on time. Then I waited and waited. Waited for just a word that the packages had arrived. Most of the time I got no response, so my enthusiasm for shopping and sending packages diminished until I just quit.

Then the same thing happened with sending Christmas cards.

This is not a "Bah, humbug" message. It is just the truth.

If you have read this far into my blog,

Have  a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Time for New Glasses

These eyeglass frames have seen their day. Literally and figuratively. I knew that they were probably damaged when a piece of furniture smashed into them (and my face!) last week when we were settling in all of the family furniture.

But this morning I saw the damage in the bathroom mirror.

My frames are six years old, although the lenses were replaced not quite three years ago. I should have expected some wear and tear on these foil covered metal frames, since they are my one and only glasses. And I can't read or see a thing without them. That means from the moment I open my eyes in the morning until the moment I close my eyes at night, those frames are perched on my nose. They are the same glasses I wear outside to weed eat or inside to slip on between mascara swats to see what I am doing with my makeup. So what do I expect after 6 years of intensive use?

Now just to pretend they don't look so bad until after the holiday rush when I can then go see my eye doctor and choose a new pair of frames.

Wonder what model I will try this time, in the year of my "retirement age"?

Monday, December 17, 2012

It is Shopping Time, In the Garden

Bet you thought I meant shopping for Christmas presents, but I have already finished that kind of shopping.

Tonight I shopped for lettuces in our raised beds in the garden. The eggplants and herbs "bit the dust" long ago from the cold temps, but there are still lots of lettuce and arugula. So tonight we accompanied our leftover lasagna with a fresh out of the garden lettuce, arugula, and store bought tomatoes salad. Yum Yum. Especially five days before winter begins a good home grown salad is a treat.

Back in October I also planted two types of garlic and onions in one of the beds, but we will have to wait for spring to enjoy them.

Last night we had a really delicious meal at our neighbors' home at the beginning of our road. T and G had invited their church friends and the folks on our road for a scrumptious evening meal.

G is a great cook and had delicious "dirty rice," potato salad, green beans, and cornbread. For dessert she had made a huge, yummy carrot cake and a couple of batches of bread pudding.

There were so many people there that we stood to eat, but my hub said that he had more control over his food than to sit on the couch. Then you eat like you are sitting in an airplane seat. That is always a challenge for both of us.

So standing was good.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Our Hearts are Broken

Remembering those who died on Friday in Newtown, Connecticut.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ax verses Ask

This week my adult son "asked" me why some white Louisiana guys say "ax" instead of "ask." I am sure that as a former English teacher I answered too quickly, so I decided to look for the real reason.

I found this response at

December 16, 1999

ax - ask

Sam Sherwood wrote:
There is a guy in my office who has a heavy southern accent and he says "ax" instead of "ask". When questioned he claims it's a regional pronunciation (Mississippi area), but I don't understand this since it sounds to me more like a regional mispronunciation. There is also a man in my office from the Bahamas and he too says "ax." Can you explain?
Thank you for asking (aksing) this question.

While the pronunciation /aks/ for ask is not considered standard, it is a very common regional pronunciation with a long history. The Old English verb áscian underwent a normal linguistic process called metathesis sometime in the 14th century. Metathesis is what occurs when two sounds or syllables switch places in a word. This happens all the time in spoken language (think nuclear pronounced as /nukular/ and asterisk pronounced as /asteriks/).

Metathesis is usually a slip of the tongue, but (as in the cases of /asteriks/ and /nukular/) it can become a variant of the original word. This alternative version in Old English was axian or acsian, as in Chaucer's: "I axe, why the fyfte man Was nought housband to the Samaritan?" (Wife's Prologue 1386). Ascian and axian co-existed and evolved separately in various regions of England. The ascian version gives us the modern standard English ask, but the axian variant ax can still be found in England's Midland and Southern dialects.

In American English, the /aks/ pronunciation was originally dominant in New England. The popularity of this pronunciation faded in the North early in the 19th century as it became more common in the South. Today the pronunciation is perceived in the US as either Southern or African-American. Both of these perceptions underestimate the popularity of the form.

/aks/ is still found frequently in the South, and is a characteristic of some speech communities as far North as New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Iowa. It is one of the shared characteristics between African-American English and Southern dialects of American English. The wide distribution of speakers from these two groups accounts for the presence of the /aks/ pronunciation in Northern urban communities.

So in fact, your colleague is correct in calling /aks/ a regional pronunciation, one with a distribution that covers nearly half of the territory in the United States and England.


Found Topic

I found this 1950's advertisement on Pinterest this morning. Makes you wonder what planet the ad people lived on.

Friday, December 14, 2012


It is when I have a busy week like this that I know the meaning of retire.

Actually it should be called "re-tired."

Or maybe just plain tired.

Or maybe I need to be re-tired (re-treaded).

Whatever, I am ready to go back to bed, and it is only 9:15 am.

Be back later today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Green Bean and Artichoke Heart Casserole

Here is my version of Green Bean Casserole for Cookin in de Keuken:

Green Bean and Artichoke Casserole

Prep: 5 minutes
Cooktime: 35 minutes
Makes at least 6 servings

1 (10 3/4 ounce) can of Cream of Mushroom Soup--Campbell's
3/4 cup evaporated milk--Carnation
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/3 cups French Fried Onions--French's
2 (14 1/2 ounces) cans green beans, drained OR 2 (9 ounces) packages frozen cut green beans, thawed
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and cut into pieces
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Mix soup and milk, then add pepper,1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, beans, cut up artichoke hearts, and 2/3 cup fried onions in 1 1/2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs, and bake in 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes. Top with remaining onions and Parmesan cheese and bake for 5 more minutes.
Serve hot. (even extra yummy reheated leftovers)

Blankets on the Agaves Time

Last evening my hub and I packed in our agave prizes under their winter blankets. The next few nights will be real freezers, and we do not want to lose any of our plants. And especially not our agaves! Now to wait until the nights are balmy, and then to take off the wraps until the next cold wave comes through. Winters here in Louisiana are always a surprise!

Speaking of surprises, we are finished with moving garderobes and recliners! After our monthly Keenagers luncheon today, Hub and I moved the last recliner up 22 steps to upstairs. Then we tackled the last garderobe that had been waiting patiently on the rolling cart in the garage. That involved going up only 2 steps from the garage to the house, but with such a heavy cabinet we were not eager to give that a try until today. Now all of the furniture is in its place.

Bring on the vacuum cleaner!  And Christmas decorations? 

Walmart Has Not "Ruined" Europe!

If you do your "Googling," you will find that Walmart has not ruined Europe.

In fact, England is enjoying their Asda (Walmart subsidiary), and Germany said "goodnight and goodbye" to JohnBoy Walton back in 2006.

As for the rest of Europe, there are still the quaint little shops that we remember from back when, and also the huge supermarkets and street markets with too many choices of everything (especially fresh vegetables!).

So if you haven't visited Europe in the last 10 to 20 years, maybe it is time to go back and see for yourself. Don't believe what you see on some American television networks. You know how they can stretch the TRUTH.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Our Dutch Friesian Staart Clock Works!

For recent photos of our new OLD Dutch Friesian staart clock, visit my new museum blogspot at My hub found a great place in our dining room for the new addition to our clock collection. He still has to fine tune the bell thingy so that it will toll the hour and half hour, but we are amazed that it ticks and keeps good time.

As for the rest of the unpacking and sorting, we shortened the teak dining table, replaced the black Ikea chairs with proper wheat back dining chairs, and moved a large red rug from the living to the dining room. The big blue rug that we bought at the whirlwind auction back in October is now in the living room under the inherited round dining table and chairs. That area is now set up as a game or card area. I suppose back in the old days that would have been the smoking area, but not around here.

We still have one medium size (heavyweight) wardrobe on a cart out in the garage that needs a two step lift up into the house. When we figure out how to do that, we will be almost finished. Wish us luck. 

Or better yet, call us if you can come over to help.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Challenge: Who Sleeps the Most?

I am not sure who was the smarter this afternoon, my hub or our beagle.

When Flip (the hound) seemed really restless inside the house after another long morning of "hunting," my hub let the dog follow him out into the garage. Flip thought that we were going to take a ride in the car, so he made a beeline to the back of our Jeep. My hub opened the door, placed the dog blanket on the floor, and Flip jumped in. He was is heaven! So my hub closed the door, left the back window open, and came into the house.

That was the last that we heard from Flip until about two hours later when I heard a single bark.

As for my hub, he used the solitude to get a great nap in his favorite recliner. Now who was the winner?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Goodbye, 30 Year Old Bed

We slept on a brand new bed last night. Our 30 year old mattress leaned against the bedroom wall ( just in case the new one did not pass the "test drive.") Well, I am pretty sure we have a keeper. We both slept fine.

Thirty years ago in Rotterdam, we decided to purchase a king size bed. I know they have been popular here in the US for longer than that, but we were taking a leap into new territory in bedroom furniture in Europe.

The local Pullman mattress dealer had what we wanted, so we emptied our pocketbooks and got a new bed. Two box-springs and one HUGE and HEAVY king size mattress! That is the same bed that stayed with us through 30 years including 3 cities in The Netherlands (Berkel en Rodenrijs, The Hague, and Zoeterwoude), a month's cruise across the Atlantic in a container aboard a giant ship, many months storage in our red barn next to our new home under construction, and the last 5 years in our new home here.

After shopping around here in the South for a comparable set of mattresses and even purchasing a Sleep Number bed last December and then sending it back for a refund when we found out it was just a very expensive inflatable mattress, we decided to purchase a new Pullman in The Netherlands and ship it here. Soooooo, last spring we did just that. We shopped while we were there, purchased it, had it delivered to the uninhabited family apartment, and waited until we organized the shipment of inherited goods.

And now we have unpacked and painstakingly set up our two new box-springs and one new HUGE and HEAVY king size mattress that arrived with all of the "antiques" last Friday. We also read on the accompanying brochure that the mattress needs to be turned every month and flipped to the other side........I do not even want to think about it!!!!! If we keep up with that, this mattress set will never make it to its 30th birthday.

Can you hire people to flip mattresses? Just asking.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Important Day, December 6

Besides this being THE most important day in our lives, I decided to see what else happened in history on our son's birthday, December 6.

343 Death of Saint Nicholas
1492 Haiti discovered by Columbus, at Mole Saint Nicolas
1849 Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland
1865 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery
1877 1st sound recording made (Thomas Edison)
1922 Irish Free State Created
1978 Spain Free Election
1983 J. born in Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Chart Toppers in 1983:
All Night Long (All Night) - Lionel Richie
Say Say Say - Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson
Uptown Girl - Billy Joel
A Little Good News - Anne Murray

Happy Birthday, J.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Non-Sints This Year

Today we are much too busy to celebrate Sinterklaas avond. Maybe next year? Now back to work restocking these cabinets.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Almost There

This morning we almost made it to the finish line. I mean we almost finished moving the cabinets into the house.

Before the two of us could bring in a secretary and a china cabinet/dry sink, I had to empty out our old farm cabinet that would make a move to the other side of the living room. So while my hub kept "sawing logs" in bed, I added some of our old stuff to the already full tables in the kitchen.

Then the fun began! We maneuvered the empty farm cabinet across the room, while one door dangled on one hinge. Next we lifted the secretary and transported it up the garage steps and down the hallways to its designated place in the living room. As our son would say, "there were some raised voices."

Then there was the china cabinet/dry sink piece. Getting it up on the little "hondje/dolly" was a feat, but it made it to its destination in one piece.

What could possibly be left in the garage? Wellllll, a really heavy clothes closet/wardrobe/chiffarobe ( that is destined for our bedroom), a grandfather clock for our foyer, a wooden bookcase for upstairs, and paintings that will need to be unboxed and hung. The rest is moved! Yesterday we even carried all 16 massive pieces of a sturdy German wardrobe upstairs to our guest bedroom!

This morning Hub said, "It looks like an antique shop." I corrected him. It looked more like a junky flea market.

It is all in the eye of the beholder, I guess.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Maintenance and Critters

Maintaining two blogs and getting anything else done will take some organization. But I am game!

Around 10:00 pm tonight the following photo rescued me, as far as blog topics go. If you look closely, in the left hand corner of the landing you can see a snake. Yes, a snake in an office stairwell. A snake in an office stairwell in a big office complex in a huge Texas city. What????

There are rumors that this same business has been plagued by raccoons from a nearby reservoir.
The best advice in the company email concerning this "wild animal" infestation was, "If you encounter an animal inside a building, please do the safe thing and make every effort to avoid them."

But I actually like the sign posted in the stairwell. Use Handrail. Someone needs to teach the snakes and raccoons to read English. TeeHee

I will never touch a handrail again without checking for snakes ;)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It

And if it is broken and belonged to your great-grandma, transport it across the Atlantic Ocean.

The last two days as we unpacked the treasures we had shipped over from The Netherlands, this thought ran through my mind. I own an old dresser and sewing machine that belonged to my Mammaw on my mother's side of the family, but except for a broken watch, what did I inherit from my dad's side of the family?  Too many relatives and a greedy aunt or two?

Our son will inherit lots of good (and not so good) old things one day. I hope that before that time comes that we will have figured out what to do with "what's broke."

Thank goodness we found an old cigar box where my mother-in-law had saved all of the "broken pieces." And a double thank goodness that I saved that box when I decluttered their apartment three years ago when she and my father-in-law were planning to move to a care facility.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Hub's Lift

Since my hub has made his special lift for his tractor, it has really come in handy. Yesterday the shipment from his parents' inheritance arrived, and without his creation we could not have accomplished unloading all of those 100 boxes in two hours.  It is just a shame that I did not catch a photo of him driving the lift. But here is one of his lift in action.