Friday, October 29, 2010

Funny tings my childwen said when they was yittle

The late Art Linkletter made us laugh and lifted our spirits with his long-running television show, "Kids say the darndest things." But there's nothing quite like the "darndest things" our own children say. Since my two daughters were little tykes, I've always meant to stop and journal about how they've made me laugh and lifted my spirits. Today, I'm finally going to do just that. Here are my top five favorites:

One afternoon, when I picked up four-year-old Jaime from day care, she burst into the car with the unabashed enthusiasm that only little children possess. "Mommy, Mommy, David KISSED me!" she squealed. A boy kissed her? I wasn't even remotely prepared for this. Didn't I have at least 10, no make that 20, more years until I had to feel this? "Gee, Honey, where did David kiss you?" I asked, dreading the answer, praying that it would be cheek instead of lips. Pointing to the playground, she said, "Over by the slide!" Laughing out loud, I foolishly realized that I didn't have anything to worry about....for a while, at least.

Jaime - kindergarten graduation
As a new kindergartner, Jennifer was going on her first play date without me. As I brushed her hair, I reminded her about good table manners, no running in the house, and all the other things Moms worry their children will do, or not do, when away from home. Of course, she was rolling her eyes, muttering, "I know, I know." "Okay, what do you say when you leave to come home?" I said as a way to remind her to say 'Thank you for having me.' I received one of those looks I still get today as she incredulously said, "Bye!"

Jennifer at five
As any parent knows, storms are frightening to children, especially toddlers. But nighttime storms? They're the absolute worst. A storm at bedtime meant I would have to lay down with Jaime until she lost at fighting sleep. Unfortunately for me, this usually meant I fell asleep, too; my day ending at 7:30 p.m. I'd promised myself that I would never tell her fibs about storms and that I would try to explain to her the importance of rain, and what caused the loud booms of thunder and the brilliant flashes of lighting. But one night, I had something that had to be completed, and just couldn't fall asleep early. So, guess what? Yep, I told a little fib. Actually, I told a big lie. "Honey, that thunder is just God moving around his furniture," I explained with a serious face. I can still remember how she sat trembling on the sofa, little feet so far from the floor, sucking those two callused fingers. Just then, an incredibly loud crash of thunder rattled the windows. Looking at me with new comprehension of the storm, she said, "Oh, Mommy, there went the dining room table!"

Three-year-old Jaime
Jennifer was six and just learning to read when the new Minor High School was near completion. We rode by one day and she asked why there weren't any students or cars there. "It's not finished yet, Baby." "But it is, too, Mommy. Look! The sign out front says 'Dunn.'" (Dunn Construction was the builder.)

Three-year-old Jennifer
But here's my favorite and it needs no introduction nor explanation: three-year-old Jennifer, with a puzzled look on her face, walked into the kitchen one day and asked, "Mommy, why do Daddies have tails in the front?" If you're interested in my answer, drop me an email.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Two ingredient pumpkin muffins

    You heard me correctly. Or would that be read me correctly? Either way.....

    Two ingredient pumpkin muffins. Two, as in deux, dos, due, 二, twee, ni, dva, tsvey.

    This is, without a doubt, the most simple recipe ever. It always turns out perfectly. Even if you can't boil water, it is impossible for these muffins to be a failure. Well, not impossible. If they're left in the oven a really, really long time, they will burn. But you get the picture.

    Speaking of picture, here are those two ingredients.

    Only two ingredients are used in delicious pumpkin muffins.
    In a large mixing bowl, combine the two ingredients. The batter will be thick and lumpy and have that wonderful, soothing smell of Fall. Plop into muffin tins or a loaf pan sprayed with non-stick spray. I bake them in muffin tins, bag individually, and store in the freezer for a quick out-the-door breakfast or yummy afternoon snack.

    Of course, you could stop at two ingredients because they are, after all, two ingredient muffins. But you don't have to stop there. Add chopped apple, an overripe banana, raisins, or nuts. Or better yet, add them all! 

    Don't try to make them pretty!
    Bake according to the instructions for the cake mix or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin or loaf is clean. If you add the extra ingredients, cooking time will increase, usually by 5 - 10 minutes.

    Butter and honey, anyone?
    Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes, if possible! Serve with butter and honey.

    Hey, I saw that! Didn't your mother tell you not to lick your fingers?

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Across the pond, part three

    As Monday dawned in The Cotswolds, we were filled with sadness that it was time to leave this beautiful and peaceful area of England. Getting lost several times in the previous days had robbed us of precious time that was to be spent exploring villages. We carefully planned our morning to visit as many towns as possible before we began the drive to London.

    Our reward was a brief ride through Upper Slaughter, Lower Slaughter, and Burford. Bibury, our favorite village, was so inviting that we stopped and spent a leisurely hour taking in all that this slice of heaven had to offer.

    Typical village path (road). This one is in Upper Slaughter.

    One of the lush gardens of Bibury.
    Windsor Castle was our next stop since it is conveniently located between The Cotswolds and London. It is impossible for me to find the words to describe the castle that Queen Elizabeth calls home. I will simply say this: it is big! As we approached the castle, its gray, stone walls and 1,000 rooms greeted us, stretching out endlessly in every direction. We toured the state rooms which are as elegant and royal as one would imagine. The Queen spends weekends at Windsor Castle so this led me to ask one of the guards if she leaves personal items there, such as a toothbrush, or does she bring a packed bag with her from Buckingham Palace. In return, I received a somewhat terse response of, "I would have no way of knowing that, madam." FYI, the British do not like to joke around about their monarchy with tourists! 

    One of Windsor's courtyards.
    Meticulously manicured gardens are located throughout the castle grounds.
    We left Windsor as thankful to be returning the rental car as an expectant mother is to receive an epidural. After a long and tiring day, we wearily traveled by tube (subway) to our hotel, The Grosvenor House, in the Mayfair area of London.

    The next few days found us visiting Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, #10 Downing Street, Kensington Palace, Kensington Park, St. Paul's Cathedral, Harrods, Piccadilly Circus, and the Eye.

    The Houses of Parliament

    A riverboat cruise on the Thames was an efficient way to see many historic sites and we especially enjoyed the guide's humorous narration. I was surprised at the Thames' pollution. Extremely muddy and odorous, this famous river was once the site of the monarchy's palace until the smell made it necessary to build a new castle away from the Thames.

    We spent an hour on an entertaining tour of the Tower of London. Our Beefeater guide was priceless and kept us laughing throughout this ancient palace of death and imprisonment. We visited the site of Anne Boleyn's beheading which fortunately is nice and clean now. And the Crown! Absolutely stunning.

    Memorial at the site of Anne Boleyn's beheading.
    The pageantry and ceremony of the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace included hundreds of plumed horses, soldiers dressed in candy-apple red, and a marching band that surprised us by playing "New York, New York." We arrived an hour early to claim our viewing spot and were joined by a few thousand people eagerly awaiting this top tourist attraction. We enjoyed about 45 minutes of the ceremony and left early, feeling we needed to move on to other venues.

    Buckingham Palace Changing of the Guards

    It was impossible to pass up the opportunity to attend a London theatre production and "Wicked" did not disappoint us. This prequel to "The Wizard of Oz" tells us the story of Elphaba, The Wicked Witch of the West, and Glenda, the Good Witch of the North. It's an evening I'll never forget.

    I was very fortunate to meet Sharon (Alan's cousin) and Len and their treat of dinner at Lemonia was incredible. I felt like I had known them for years and their company was instantly pleasant and comfortable. Their driving tour of the city at night presented us with a different view of London. Thank you Sharon and Len. I certainly hope we meet again.

    I'll complete my story by sharing that I was constantly on the look out for Eric Clapton. From the moment I exited Delta flight DL10, I was on Eric watch. I asked pub patrons, tube riders, and hotel desk clerks if they ever say him in the area. The answer was always the same: "No." And then one day near the end of our vacation, I was rushing along with everyone else in the tube, and when I turned a corner, suddenly there he was, staring right at me.

    I could go vacation was complete.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Across the pond, part two

    Excitement had been building for 90 days as the day of our departure to England finally arrived. Our adrenaline was pumping and we were sitting on ready when my brother-in-law and mother-in-law arrived to drive us to the airport.

    Unfortunately, my brother-in-law missed our driveway and backed over our mailbox instead. Not just bumped into it, but turned it into five pieces spread across our lawn like a game of pick-up-sticks. And to add insult to injury, he later learned that he had done $1800 in damages to his wife's car. Ouch! Double ouch! As to our mailbox, thanks to our talented neighbor, David, for repairing it while we were away!

    Hugs, kisses, and goodbye's at the airport were still filled with anticipation, though tinged with disbelief and regret about the accident. Alan hugged his Mom, telling her, "I'll see you when we get back," and she responded with a tearful, "If I'm still here." Jewish mother guilt: fact or fiction? I'll let you be the judge.

    On those two depressing notes, we checked our bags, praying they wouldn't be over the 50 lb. limit and headed to our gate. Thankfully, we had smooth sailing, so to speak, from that point. We endured the unavoidable layover in Atlanta and departed for Heathrow around 10:30 p.m. After an eight-hour flight spent napping, setting our internal and external clocks six hours forward, an unnecessary hour at the car rental company, and an almost two-hour nightmarish drive in the rain to The Cotswolds, we arrived at the Old Manse Hotel in Burton-on-the-Water around 4:00 p.m.

    Old Manse Hotel, Burton-on-the-Water, The Cotswolds
    If you're unfamiliar with The Cotswolds, it is a range of wolds (hills) in west-central England. The area is characterized by charming small towns and beautifully-manicured villages built of the underlying Cotswold stone, a honey-colored limestone. Some of the towns include Bath, Bibury, Bourton-on-the-Water, Broadway, Burford, Chipping Campden, Gloucester, Stow-on-the-Wold, Stratford on Avon, Lower Slaughter, Upper Slaughter, and Winchcombe.

    After getting settled in our quaint attic room, which included a breathtaking view of a duck-filled canal, we headed out to visit a local pub. When the bartender discovered we were from Alabama, he theatrically held out both arms and loudly exclaimed, "None of the patrons in this pub had anything to do with the oil on your beaches!" We were laughing as everyone agreed by raising their drink in the air and shouting, "Here, here."

    Dinner was fish and chips, one of the more famous English dishes. I quickly learned that English peas are appropriately named because they are served with almost everything in England. They can be ordered "mushy" or "whole." "Mushy" peas have been squished with a fork. We found it strange that one cannot mush their own peas but must order them that way.

    The next morning, we set out early for a bright and sunny drive to explore Stonehenge and Bath. We rode through miles of the most beautiful lush, green countryside I have ever seen. Every scene was more enchanting than the last and most were dotted with woolly sheep or Gateway boxes disguised as Holstein cattle.

    The beautiful rolling wolds (hills) of The Cotswolds.

    Pastures of sheep lined most of the lanes.
    Stonehenge, one of the most famous sites in the world, was a little disappointing to me. It's location in the middle of a field surrounded by chain-link fencing and flanked by traffic surprised me. We opted for the "recession" tour and took photographs outside the fence, not understanding why anyone would pay more to get a few steps closer.

    The busy road leading to Stonehenge.
    I mentioned in my prior post that we became lost on numerous occasions. The first time happened on our way from Stonehenge to Bath. Imagine our shock and disbelieft when we thought we were nearing Bath only to be met with the familiar view of Stonehenge again! After a third stop for directions and a nice lunch at The Bell at Standerwick, we finally made it to Bath just in time to be among the day's last visitors to the Bath Spa.

    For two thousand years, Bath has been a spa town, built around Britain’s only hot mineral springs. The Romans were the first to realize the value of the hot mineral water and built their religious spa of Aquae Sulis around the three springs in the 16th century. The water still pools among the ruins but is untreated and smells worse than rotten potatoes. Our audio tour was fascinating and educational and we left imagining health-seeking kings and queens reclined in rest and relaxation centuries ago.

    Bath Spa

    We drove around the crowded city and visited a few sites recommended in our guide book including Circus and Royal Crescent. We also experienced the romance of late evening when we happened upon a sunset wedding, the bride and groom giddy as their photographer captured their special day on the lawn of an ancient church.

    We returned to Burton-on-the-Water very late to find all of the pubs' kitchens closed. However, we managed to pick up Chinese take away (known to Americans as take out) and excitingly discussed our plans for the following day.

    Sunday dawned clear and cold and we traveled north to Broadway where we walked through the village and later ate lunch. Alan was feeling adventurous and had a "when in Rome attitude" when he ordered steak and kidney pie. One bite and he instantly regretted his choice. I ate chicken soup and laughed as he managed to choke down one of England's most-loved dishes.

    High (Main) Street in Broadway
    Regretfully, our plans to meet Alan's cousin, Gerald, and his wife in Oxford fell through. But that bad luck turned into good luck as we then had the opportunity to tour Blenheim Palace, the birthplace and burial site of Sir Winston Churchill. Blenheim Palace is currently home to the 11th Duke and Duchess of Marlborough and is set in 2100 acres of beautiful parkland. This magnificent palace is surrounded by sweeping lawns, award-winning formal gardens, and a stunning lake.

    Blenheim Palace

    Blenheim Palace gardens
    We arrived back in Burton-on-the-Water just in time for our dinner reservation at Rose Tree where we enjoyed tender, roasted duck and freshly grilled steak.

    Day two was often frustrating due to getting lost, unfamiliar driving situations, and heavy traffic, but that was easily outweighed by the beauty of Broadway and the splendor of Blenheim. I'll continue later with the remainder of our time in The Cotswolds and our arrival in London.

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Across the pond, part one

    Alan and I recently returned from nine days in England, and now that we have almost recovered from the Jet Lag demon, I think I will impersonate a travel blogger for just a bit. Why? Because:
    • Alan can't read my journal writing to look back at the details of our trip;
    • We researched our trip by reading several travel blogs and web sites and they were a great source of "do and don't" information. (I'll list some of those blogs and sites at the end of this post). Hopefully, someone will pick up a tidbit of information here that will help them with their plans; and
    • I can't read my journal writing to look back at the details of our trip.
    Earlier this year, we sadly realized that our last vacation was six years ago. Of course, we've made brief trips to the lake and Alan's brother's beach house, but no big journeys to sights unseen. And that, my friends, is almost a fate worse than death for my husband. He lives to travel. He loves to see places he hasn't seen, and sometimes, but not often, he will even travel back to see them again. But the ultimate high for him is to plan to travel. His collection of charts, graphs, blogs, books, web sites, and maps all make me believe with absolute certainty that he is a direct descendant of Eugene Fodor. 

    And so he began to get the travel bug. I admit, I was also ready for a getaway. Fortunately, we had just enough Sky Miles and Hotel Points to take a nice trip even though I'm still one of those pesky unemployment statistics you hear about everyday on the news. We began to talk about destinations and after much discussion and elimination, narrowed our list down to three: Israel, England, and a drive up the east coast to view the incredible red, orange, and yellow of the approaching autumn.

    One day in June, as I was recovering from surgery (an anterior lumbar interbody fusion, i.e. a disc in my back was removed and replaced through an almost foot long vertical incision in my abdomen...and yes, everything in the surgeon's path was retracted up and out of my tummy), Alan asked me what I thought about making the trip to England. I foggily muttered that I needed another pain pill. He translated that to "yes."

    From that point on, he was metaphorically off to the races and literally off to The Cotswolds and London. We (he) had 90 days to plan our trip to the Mother Country. More pain pills, phone calls, reservations, cancellations, reservations, inquiries, and consultations followed. And that was just the first day! I'll omit an account of the remaining 89 (but I will say "ditto") and share some information that we found helpful as we (he) planned our trip across the pond:
    • Our personal automobile insurance was not valid for a rental car. Our insurance agent strongly suggested that we get the optional rental insurance. Thankfully, we took his advice. (See next tip).
    • If I return to the UK, I will rent the absolute smallest car available. England's roads (lanes) are at least one foot smaller than their automobiles (carriages). And if the owner of the white van who lost their passenger mirror on September 24 in Bath is reading this, we're very sorry. Not that I'm relating that incident to the condition of our driver's mirror. (See previous tip.)
    • Our health insurance was valid in the UK. The caveat is that a claim must be labeled "urgent" in order to be covered. Just fyi, bleeding foot blisters and PTSD from driving on the opposite side of the road from the opposite side of the car and circling endlessly in round-abouts are not viewed as "urgent."
    • AAA does not offer a map of England (hence the first A).
    • The London Travel Card is more advantageous than the Oyster Card if planning to use multiple modes of public transportation. I can send you the Excel file to back that up, if you're interested.
    • Banks and credit card companies recommend that they be notified about your travel plans. Otherwise, they might think your card that has only been used in Birmingham, Alabama, is stolen if it's suddenly used in Birmingham, England. The result could be a "hold" on all transactions.
    • Prior to leaving Birmingham, we converted some dollars to pounds and also purchased Traveler's Checks. It was very difficult to cash the Traveler's Checks. It would have been better to use our ATM card. Note: you must contact your bank prior to departure to activate the card for foreign usage.
    • My iPhone ceased to be a mobile device when we left U.S. airspace. Of course, in free wifi locations, I could use my apps and Internet. As in America, there is a Starbucks on almost every corner in London, so free wifi was not a problem. AT&T offers a special travel package for those who must have phone and text access, and also a package for 3G. We purchased the minimum 3G package for the iPad thinking it would be helpful if we were lost. Looking back, that was $24.99 not wisely spent. We were lost in The Cotswolds at least 12 times and couldn't access 3G. Perhaps those freaky Stonehenge rocks blocked the satellite waves.
    • Regarding the 12 times we were lost in The Cotswolds: if you have a GPS, purchase and download England maps. The $24.99 spent (see above) for 3G seemed a much better bargain than $60 for England software for our GPS. Wrong, wrong, wrong. If you do not have a GPS, get one in the rental car.
    • To paraphrase an old joke, "How do you get to London?" The answer: "Preparation, preparation, preparation." Alan's endless work, paid off beautifully, as always. No unexpected problems (if you don't count getting lost), no worries, no "uh-oh's." Winging it, as I probably would have done, is not a good option. Thanks, dear.You're the best.
    Next up in a few days: our trip through The Cotswolds. Until then, I'll be busy investigating the possibility of opening a Krispy Kreme in Bibury.

    As promised, here are just a few of the blogs and web sites we found especially helpful:

    England for Dummies and Fodor's England were two of the most helpful books we read.

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    Honey wheat bread (with update)

    Nothing smells more heavenly and stirs more positive memories than a loaf of bread wafting from the oven. (It's not everyday that I get to use wafting in a sentence. That was pretty exciting!) The added bonus for me is that it's not filled with things I can't spell or pronounce. No hidden additives and no preservatives. Just healthy ingredients that, when mixed together and risen to perfection, feel like velvet as I turn it into the loaf pan.

    I started making bread about 30 years ago. Since then, I have tried countless recipes and this is my favorite, and the favorite of my family. I generally can rack up about 10 bonus wife points with this recipe.

    I'd like to say that I'm a purist and that I make this delicious bread the old-fashioned way. I'd like to say that, but I can't. I'm a little on what some might call the lazy side (I prefer to think I'm practicing time management), so I let my bread machine do most of the work. I use the "dough" setting for mixing, kneading, and the first rising. Then I transfer the dough to a loaf pan for the final rising and baking. It's a visual thing for me. I prefer my bread to look like a loaf and not a square box. And I despise the hole in the bottom of the bread that's left by the mixing / kneading blade.

    Here's what you'll need:

    Non-stick spray
    1 1/8 cups warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
    1/4 cup honey
    1 teaspoon salt
    2 cups whole wheat flour, or 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour*
    1 cup bread flour, or 1 1/2 cups bread flour*
    (*flour to total 3 cups)
    2 tablespoons olive oil, or melted butter
    1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
    1 egg (optional) 

    Spray the bread machine canister with non-stick spray. Add ingredients in the order recommended in your bread machine manual. Select the "dough" setting and then take a nap, read a book, or whatever. You'll have about 1 3/4 hours, give or take a few minutes.

    At the end of the "dough" setting, transfer the dough to a loaf pan sprayed with non-stick spray. Shape as needed and press lightly to remove air bubbles. I hate those pesky holes in the middle of sandwich bread.

    Optional: gently use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the bread with a beaten egg. 

    Cover the pan with a clean cloth, place in a warm area, and allow to rise for 30 minutes.

    Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

    Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

    Slather with butter and enjoy!

    • This recipe works even if you're not into time management like I am. You can omit the bread machine and make this recipe completely on your own, or use your bread machine for the entire process.
    • Water can be used instead of milk. I like the milk's nutritional benefits and the beautiful texture and enhanced flavor it adds to the bread.
    • If you don't have a food thermometer, about 50 seconds in the microwave will warm the milk to approximately 110 degrees.
    • Apply non-stick spray to the measuring cup you'll use for the honey. The honey will slide out of the measuring cup with absolutely no help from you.
    I'm off to decide how I should use those 10 bonus wife points I earned today. Better yet, I might just make another loaf and go for 20!

    UPDATE 10/26/10
    Several people have emailed me asking if this recipe can be increased to produce a larger loaf. The answer is absolutely! I love the larger's so pretty, and I love the smaller loaf,'s so pretty!

    Here are the ingredient conversions:

    1 3/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
    1/3 cup honey
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    3 cups whole wheat flour, or 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour*
    1 1/2 cups bread flour, or 2 cups bread flour*
    (*flour to total 4 1/2 cups)
    3 tablespoons olive oil, or melted butter
    2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast 

    Recipe directions remain the same.

    Thursday, October 7, 2010


    I never had grandparents.

    Well, of course I had grandparents. Everyone does. Except Adam and Eve. And their children. And Jesus.

    I mean I never knew my grandparents. All four of them passed away before I was born. Neal (1946), Josie (1945), Sam (1954), and Kittie (1948) were gone before this granddaughter was born in 1955.

    As a child, I don't remember missing the grandparent experience. I have memories of their grass-covered graves and gray-speckled, granite headstones, mowed and cleaned on sunny Saturday afternoons before Decoration Sundays. But I had not yet learned to miss their bear hugs and wet kisses.

    As a young adult, I don't remember consciously missing the grandparent experience. I realize now that I consistently formed close friendships with older women. At 20, one of my good friends was 65, or so. She came over and spent many wonderful evenings with me while my husband was at work. Looking back, those types of friendships were the norm. Unknown to me at that time, I was seeking surrogate grandmothers at work, at church, next door, anywhere, everywhere.

    Over the past few years, I've been painfully aware of missing the grandparent experience. I especially miss my grandmothers. Maybe it started when I became a grandmother. Suddenly, I was doing things with my grandchildren that I longed to have done with my grandmother. A yearning started in me that has floated in and out like the feathers that would have softened her pillows.

    And so, I began think about her, wish I had known her, loved her.

    Did she smell like fresh-baked bread? Pacquin's Hand Cream? Roses?

    Was her lap soft and her skin hard and cracked? Did she sing like a mockingbird, or did I only think she did? And what would we have done together when I had her all to myself?

    Would she have taken me down the hill to the dirt playground at the grammar school, hiking her faded, floral house dress to her knees so that we could see-saw until our legs ached? And our bellies hurt from laughter?

    Would I have learned to knit much earlier than the age of 52, creating doilies that we would stiffen with sugar starch into rock-hard furniture adornments?  I'd still have a blushing-pink one today, tucked carefully away in the cedar chest. And I'd stop and smile at the faded, intertwined thread whenever I opened the strong-smelling chest to retrieve a sweater or quilt.

    I would have helped her in the garden. She would have picked ruby-red tomatoes and lovingly placed them in her mother's apron, holding it out by the bottom two corners, forming a bowl at her waist. Juicy, drippy sandwiches on her freshly-made bread would then be my reward.

    I'm certain she would have let me lick the cake mix bowl. As she wiped my chubby cheeks that were smeared with uncooked sugary delight, she would tell me this was our little secret and not to tell my mother.

    And when my mother called to say it was time for me to come home, she would say, "Oh, Margaret, let her stay a little longer. Just let her spend the night. I promised I would braid her hair, but we've been so busy that we haven't had time. And her grandfather told her they might walk to the creek and skip stones."

    But more than anything, I achingly wonder what I would have called her? My grandmother shouldn't be remembered so casually as "her" or "she" or "Mother's mother" or "Daddy's mother."

    I remember that endearments of the 50s typically included "Granny," "Mamaw," and "Memaw." But for some unknown reason, those don't feel right for my grandmother.

    "Mama Kittie?" Not unless I wanted the family's gestating, calico cat to come running to my side!

    "Jo-Jo?" No-no.

    "Granmom?" Hummmm...I like that. I think that might be it! How I would have specified whether I was referring to Kittie or Josie isn't important. I know now that I would have called my grandmother "Granmom."

    And if I close my eyes and listen in the quiet, still afternoon, I can hear Granmom sweetly, oh so lovingly, calling to me, "Where is my Princess Rebecca? Come here, dear child, and we shall have a tea party."

    Monday, October 4, 2010

    My new favorite Photoshop action

    I love Photoshop.

    I mean really, really love Photoshop - from the simple text features to cloning to swapping out a person in a photo. And if you've ever used Photoshop even once, I know you love it, too.

    Until today, my favorite action was "The 20%/60px Enhancement" by Dave Jaseck. But, well, that was before today. Because today I tried "Boost" by The Pioneer Woman, and boy, oh, boy, am I in love. This action can actually make me look like I know what I'm doing. Seriously.

    Here's the 'before' of my precious grandson:

    And here's the 'after' using "Boost" from pwactionset1:


    What a....well....boost this action added to my SOOC photograph. Richer in color and saturation, and much more sharp and crisp. He's even more of a doll in the second photo, and I really didn't think that was possible!

    There are quite a few actions in this set and set two...some I like, some not so much. Download them and try them for yourself.

    Then let me know if you have a new favorite action, too.