RIP Stir ‘n Frost

Three fun things at work today…first it’s my favorite day of the week Friday, second we had cake at 10:30 a.m. for one of our student workers for her birthday (no, I didn’t eat any because of my Lenten sacrifice, but it was okay because it was chocolate), and third, I have a chicken salad sandwich from my favorite place, McKinley’s, for lunch.

During our snack time this morning, I had another realization that I am old enough to be the mother of the girls I work with.  None of them remembered Stir ‘n Frost cake mix.  How tragic.  They looked puzzled as I tried to explain how it came with its own pan and two packets — one for the cake mix and one with ready made frosting.  Bake and eat from the same pan!  Genious.

So, I did a little research and here’s what I found..

“Next time when a big cake is more than you need, pick up a Stir ‘n Frost!”  They hit the market in 1978.  I ate many of these during sleepovers.  The moms would buy each girl their own cake and we’d bake them and eat them — the entire thing — warm out of the oven.  This was comfort food when the friend got dumped by her long-time (2 weeks) boyfriend over the blue rotary phone.  “I’m sorry, boy this stinks. Want to make a cake?”
Not sure what happened to them.  I guess they learned the foil lining caused cancer (kinda like the caramel color in Coke and Pepsi).  Now, they’ve been replaced with a microwave version called “Warm Delights.”  I’ll just hold on to my memories of Stir ‘n Frost.  I miss you girl.

Party Like a 90-Year Old

me-and-juliaI had the greatest pleasure on Saturday to attend the 90th birthday party of my dear friend, Julia Johnson.  She and Earnie have known each other for almost 60 years.  They raised their children together, and buried their beloved husbands together.  Julia moved to Dallas several years ago, making it difficult to see each other.  When I saw her Sunday, I just couldn’t stop touching her.  She hadn’t changed a bit, other than to shrink in size to the cutest little lady I just want to put in my pocket.

julia-and-motherHere she is with Earnie before Julia blew out the candles on her birthday cake…

Also at the party, my high school English teacher — Mrs. Dyer.  She shared she is 86!  I guess eating lots of home-grown vegetables growing up is the secret, because neither of these gals has aged at all. Now that I am grown up, I get to call her Jean, oh yea!

Julia’s granddaughter, Emily, had everyone send a note to Julia to put into an album.  She received over 90 of the most beautiful, heartfelt notes from relatives and friends.  It’s a good thing I wasn’t around when Mrs. Dyer read mine because she would probably have whipped out her red ball point pen and graded it.

julia-me-and-the-ice-creamThis is what I remember about my dear, sweet Julia…

• Root Beer Floats – She always had ice cream out in the freezer. I could count on an icy-cold float each time I visited regardless of the weather.

• Riding her three-wheeled bicycle up and down the street.

• A delivery of fresh Christmas tree cookies in a tin. Julia eventually caught on that once Daddy got a hold of the tin there weren’t many left for me. So, she started giving me my own tin of cookies. Not a Christmas goes by that I still don’t make those cookies. They don’t taste quite like hers, but Phoebe now has the tradition that these cookies are a must at Christmas.  After talking with all her gorgeous grandchildren at the party, the Christmas tree cookies are famous to them too.

• Playing poker – we didn’t ever play the game, but I spent hours at the round coffee table playing with her dispenser of poker chips.

• My love of toile I think started with being fascinated by the toile wallpaper in her dining room. I loved to just sit and stare at it and imagine myself in the story displayed. To this day, I still have a touch of toile in every home I’ve owned.

• Sitting on the backporch with Julia shelling pecans, talking about life. I shared how nervous I was to be starting high school with the big kids and she reassured me I would be fine.

• Eating her pineapple chess pie… and all her good cooking. Julia cooked a lot of meals in that small kitchen on Carl Street.

• Running errands in her small car. Sometimes we’d even go to the public pool.

• I loved sitting in her husband Jimmy’s big reclining chair. He usually was at work, but the few times he was home I enjoyed getting to sit on his lap.

It’s amazing the positive influence a grown up can have on a child.  I hope I can learn by her example to grow up to be as kind as she has been to everyone in her life.  Happy Birthday, Julia!

Praline Grahams

Made a batch of these Praline Grahams for Sister Bee’s spring open house with her Thirty One Business and other vendors.  I have had this Southern Living recipe for years and it’s very easy.  It’s the perfect sweet with coffee or for a wine and cheese party.  Enjoy!

Praline Grahams

12 whole graham crackers any flavor — regular, cinnamon or chocolate
3/4 cup of margarine (the syrup seems to spread better using margarine, but when I don’t have it I substitute with butter.  I actually like butter taste better).
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

I have doubled this recipe using almost two packages of graham crackers, 1 cup sugar and 3 sticks of margarine.  Works fine.

Break graham crackers in half into squares.  Arrange on a cookie sheet with sides.  Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium heat, stir in sugar and chopped pecans.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat,  Working quickly, spread syrupy mixture evenly over graham crackers in the pan.  Bake at 300 for 12 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool.  Makes 2 dozen.

Martha made my lunch — It’s a Good Thing

Recently, out to dinner with friends, we shared if money were no concern, what personal luxury would we indulge in on a regular basis.  Most of us said having a personal chef.

I can’t help myself when I go to Macy’s and see how they have merchandised the Martha Stewart line of home products.  Especially her food storage containers.  I upgraded recently to a monogrammed lunch box courtesy of Sister Bee’s Thirty One business.  So, I decided it was time to trade in the Gladware plastic tubs where the lids don’t fit anymore.

Martha made my yogurt parfait this morning and packaged it in this cute little divided cup.  It has a container on the bottom for your yogurt and on top your granola or fruit and a spoon.

Then, she packaged my lunch in this cute four piece lunch to go kit.  A place on the bottom for your sandwich, with little grooves to hold the included ice pack.  Two little containers with lids fit on top of that and a snap-on cover goes over all of it.  It fit perfectly in my lunch tote.  Unfortunately, it’s sold out on-line, but Macy’s still had some in stores.  It would make the perfect gift.
The other thing I would love to have is her salad to go kit.  Great for preventing your salad greens from getting soggy.
Who wouldn’t eat more healthy if we had these fashionable containers to tote to work?

Everyone needs a Sister in their Hive

Today is my Sister Lady’s birthday.  Everyone should be lucky enough to have a sister.  My story is unique in that she was 15 when I came along…much more like a mother to me than a sister.  All my positive childhood experiences are rooted deeply in the love I felt from not only her but my two brothers.  Several years ago, Earnie gave me a few albums with photos she had made from slides from my birthday parties and family vacations.  In almost every photo, I am being held by someone.  Earnie always says that my feet never touched the ground my first year of life.
But, today is reserved for Sister Bee and the many things I learned from her…
She taught me my ABC’s. Always be aware of boys with rocks.  “R” for rocks.
You must accessorize, even in the mountains.  Notice the purse and scarf.
Swimming can be fun, but never before 4 p.m.,
and ladies never get their hair wet while swimming.
I learned counting…like how long can I hold you because Earnie is feeding you a tad much.
I learned that chocolates are to be savored and not shared with the dog.
I also remember…
1) Learning to tie my shoes in the front seat of her Camaro (circa late 60s)
2)  Going to Dairy Queen for an ice cream if I did really well on a math quiz
3)  Making asparagus jello and that those two food groups should never be used in the same sentence.  It was terrible.
4)  Sister helping me come up with a craft to make to give as gifts for Christmas each year.  One year I made “kitchen spice ropes” and another year a recipe holder using a hairspray lid, plaster of paris, a plastic fork and flowers.
Happy Birthday, Sister Dear.
“Children of the same family, the same blood, with the same first associations and habits, have some means of enjoyment in their power, which no subsequent connections can supply.”
 ~Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, 1814

Party of Twelve

Miss Bee turned 12 on Sunday.  We packaged her invitations in red and pink polka dot bags with a label that said “It’s going to be swell, Phoebe is turning 12.”  Tucked inside was a strip of photos of her (like from a photo booth) and the invitation.

Miss Bee ordered Frito Pie for lunch, so the night before the wingding (as Daddy would call it) I made three big pots of chili.  Then Sunday morning we put the chili into crockpots to heat.  I set out all the toppings…cheese, sour cream, red, yellow and orange diced bell peppers, cilantro, and of course Fritos.  For those that preferred the salad route, we chopped tomotoes and romaine lettuce for taco salads.  It was fun watching everyone customize their own mug o’ chili…

That’s my niece bee, Violet, dipping her taquito into her chili.
Dinner was on your own and some decided to enjoy the photo booth we had set up in the study… I found all the artwork online and ran it off on card stock, then hot glued the props to paint sticks..

I debated about showing this next one, because it’s kind of creepy…like from “Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?”

We also enjoyed a round of “Pin the Nose on Ruthie.”  I blew up a photo to poster size and guests enjoyed trying their chance at pinning a nose on the bullseye.

This is Earnie…not getting very close…
For dessert we enjoyed ice cream cake from Marble Slab and Auntie M made her famous strawberry cake.  Ruthie, the wienerful, enjoyed two giant brownies she found and promptly ate (the rest of the night’s outcome with the brownies I’ll save for another blog entry.)

We finished with opening presents (she’s wearing her jelly-bow from her Godsister Annie).  Then Miss Bee passed around her party favors — a S’more Kit with heart shaped peeps…

Happy birthday, my sweet girl.  Becoming your mother has been one of my greatest joys.

Daddy Hung the Moon

It has been almost a year since Daddy went to live in heaven and oh, the new mischief heaven must have going on with him there.  I think of all the saints he has greeted since then, some have been his friends in the last year from church.  And the famous people…I wonder if Daddy was involved in the planning of Elizabeth Taylor’s welcome to heaven party.

Anyway, I have been thinking about him alot lately.  More so than usual.  Earnie happened to share with me that she’d been thinking about Daddy alot and I told her I had too.  We got to thinking it was because he was probably doing something big in heaven like planning a festival or parade.

daddy moonThen, last night on the way home, we saw the Moon.  A big, fat glorious Moon. Look back at my blog entry on March 19 from 2011 and you’ll see that Daddy passed away on the day of the Perigree Moon.  Ever since that night our family looks into the sky to “visit” with Daddy.  It has been our constant sign that he’s always with us.  When I go out in the evenings to take Ruthie the wienerful for her nightly constitutional, there Daddy is.  Big as life, shining down.  While I miss him dearly, I wouldn’t trade his Moon for anything.

Hosting a Grandmother-to-Be Shower

Neighbor Bee, Cindy, is about 6 weeks away from being a Grandmother to little Addison Leigh – Miss Addi Bee.  So, it was only proper to have a shower for CiCi (the name Addi will call her).  We assembled the neighbors for a “Sips and Sweets” afternoon shower.

It started with the invitation.  I found artwork on the internet and printed it off on cardstock — “She’s About to Pop with Excitement!”  Miss Bee and I packaged the invitations inside cellophane with a bag of microwave popcorn, tied them up with ribbon in the same design as the bag, attached a card that said “hope you can pop in!” and Miss Bee hand-delivered each invitation one afternoon.

For the big day we had a few party activities…one included a quiz to match each guest’s name with the translation of the meaning of their name.  Then, each guest wrote their wish for Cici and Addi and added it to the “Wishes and Wisdom Tree” I had made with a few artificial forsytheia placed inside a galvanized bucket.  I made birds out of scrapbook paper and after a wish was made the bird was placed on the tree.  I made the little sign next to the tree from some artwork I found on the the internet.

I let Cindy take the tree home so when the baby comes and visitors stop by to see her, they can make wishes to add to the tree.
Next, was the table and food –the best part!  I found the tissue puffs at Hobby Lobby.  They came three to a package and were already assembled you just had to puff up the tissue sections, very easy.  Hung them from the chandelier with the same ribbon I had used on the invitation packages.

I used Earnie’s milk glass collection for all the treats.  I labeled each dish with a fun name on colored card stock.

For libation we enjoyed “She’s a Peach” Bellinis…the little guests sipped cherry limeades in their champagne glasses.
Cindy received alot of nice things for her nursery.  Now, all we have to do is wait for Addi to get here!

The Mother’s Encyclopedia

Sister Bee dropped off a box of things from her house, of which consisted six volumes of “The Mother’s Encyclopedia”.  The first copyright was 1933, followed by a reprint in 1942 a year in which I am sure many new things were updated on childrearing — being how we were so progressive in the ’40s.

Each volume covered a broad range of topics.  My favorite is Volume Four:  Measles to Prostitution — how about that for an opener at the dinner table when Timmy gets home from school.

The photos are hilarious.  I have taken the liberty to update the captions from the original…

“Go on outside Suzie with your brother and play on the rickety, tetanus infested fence
while Mommy makes me a pitcher of margaritas.”
“Dear, do you think it’s a problem we dressed Jeff in a dress
for the family Christmas card?”

The original title of this photo read:
“The disturbed child may need help.”  I think that’s a keeper.
I shall close with a dramatic reading  from Volume One titled “Natural Childbirth.”  This is exactly as it appears:
“As the doctor lifted up my baby and placed her on my stomach, a wonderful feeling of accomplishment came over me.  Under the sheet my hands moved forward to touch her, and it gave me such a thrill to realize that this little girl, with the umbilical cord still attached to her, was really part of me.  I had just been through a normally comfortable delivery following the principles of natural childbirth.  And it had worked!  Just as I had been told it would.  Every stage of my labor was clear in my mind, and not for an instant had I wanted to avoid the experience through the blackout of drugs or anesthesia.  I felt well, not at all fatigued, and greatly refreshed.”
Alrighty then.

Miss Hathaway, Take a Letter Please

I have a new secretary!  I have named her Miss Hathaway — for those of you who know your TV trivia — she was the dutiful, prim secretary of Mr. Drysdale at the Commerce Bank on the Beverly Hillbillies.

My secretary came from Sister Bee’s house.  It was Earnie’s and Sister Bee has been using it for years.  She is redecorating her house and moving things around and offered it to me.  I am so excited!  I’m using it to put on my makeup in the morning and for secretarial duties like check writing and correspondence.  Here she is….

The desk flips up so I can hide any insightly mess.

Inside I have on the bottom shelf my morning accessories like makeup, perfume and a dish of q-tips.  On the top two shelves I have my latest books and accessories.

The desk cubbies hold stationary, my clock and timely coorespondence, a milk glass cup of fun pencils, a Citron bottle with a red flower, a journal my besties gave me and my mirror for when I feel like belting out “I feel pretty” from West Side Story (I have been known to do this, by the way).

The last time I was at TJ Maxx I found this fun frame so I put a photo of my besties from one of our trips.  Sister Bee gave me the “buzzes” card.

Moving out an old desk and a cabinet freed up space for a sitting spot next to Miss Hathaway.

The leather storage ottoman I found at Kohl’s last year for almost nothing.  The table is from my Southern Living at Home days.  I use the ottomon for the desk and also a spot for me to put my shoes on in the morning.  The framed photos are botanicals I took during a trip to England to visit Mr. Bee’s family.  The wall lamp I found at Home Depot and I love it because it frees up table space.  Do you see Ruthie’s weinerend in the photo?

Two more things to show you before I buzz off.  New uses for old things…

I find I almost never use the bedside table on the right side of the bed.  Thought I would use this wasted space by topping it with a dressing mirror and my jewelry.  I am so glad I did!  I use this space every morning now to accessorize my outfit and check my hair on the way out.

I took a tiered dessert server and put my baubles on it so I can see what I have.  And, I found a hand ceramic piece at TJ Maxx on clearance (I guess no one could think of how to use it) to hang my long necklaces on.  Very chic!

One last change up I made was to move Earnie’s marble top Victorian table to the bedside.  I like it so much more. Gives me more room for my things and creates visual space as well.  The photo doesn’t show all the detail of the bottom.  I had a crazy thought…painting the bottom a peacock blue?  Mr. Bee would die.

What to do with my latest book, the remotes, my lotion and notepad?  I took Earnie’s old rattan desk organizer and put all the stuff in there.  Looks great and keeps it all together.  Old is not so bad.

Gotta run.  Mr. Drysdale needs me to make a deposit into the Clampett’s account.