A Proper Iced Tea Chat: I Owe You One!
Hello there. I feel I should apologize for my morose attitude last week. It was my mood and it came across plenty in the Iced Tea Chat post. Not the way I'd like to have been, so let's have another shall we?
Tea's there. Mint, orange or lemon to add in if you'd like. I find mint and citrus very refreshing together. Of course, it's hard to imagine anything mint can't make refreshing. It just has a cooling quality that suits doesn't it? Do you remember in Grace Livingston Hill's Recreations how they made mint ice for a dessert, something like a mint sherbet? Now doesn't that sound as though it would be the perfect cooling dessert on a hot summer's day? Oh my!
I've been amused lately at the spate of young homemakers making old fashioned desserts, like Ice Cream Bombes and Baked Alaska. Both rather nice desserts for summer, I think, but I'm amused because I remember making those in my very early homemaking days just shy of 40 years ago. They sounded so nice somehow and fancier than mere ice cream and cake which is all they are, just a different form. I suspect that's why the new homemakers are all trying them now. They're special without being something pricey or terribly complicated. They don't require speciality ingredients either, just the usual ones that are likely already on hand. If I weren't in the middle of working on reducing I'd be so tempted to join them. But of course, I could do something similar on a MUCH smaller scale for John and I. A mini Bombe so to speak, or a cupcake sized baked Alaska perhaps.
Of course, you could combine all sorts of flavors. There are so many ice creams on the market now. My first thought for a Baked Alaska is a banana cake layer with that lovely salted caramel gelato and a brown sugar meringue atop. I think a pineapple cake layer with coconut ice cream would be rather nice as well. It would be a sort of modern spin on an old fashioned dessert. That could be a fun idea to play with. What do you think?
I remember one vintage cookbook had a recipe for Mile High Ice Cream Pie. You filled a chocolate pie shell with peppermint ice cream scoops a good six inches or more high then covered the tall pie with a mound of meringue and ran it under the broiler for a few minutes. You served it with a drizzle of hot fudge sauce. That recipe always captured my imagination, but I never did make it. I suppose it was the quantity of ice cream needed. And what do you do with leftovers if there are but two of you? It never occurred to me to reduce it to a suitable size. I suppose my thinking has been altered considerably after being served dessert twice a day at the hospital but always just a two bite portion which was wonderfully satisfying and never too much. I don't think I'd like to attempt such pie like the one described above but perhaps a regular single tart size would work rather well if you'd calories you could spare that day.
I have noted in my June issues of magazines that they served far more cooling salads and desserts than meals. Meals were the same standard issue as always. Roast beef with gravy, or meatloaf with vegetables baked around it. Heavy things. I was disappointed to realize the solution was to serve meals outdoors. As I mentioned early this week, I just don't think Roast Beef and Gravy served outdoors at 100F is going to be a bit cooler than eating it indoors. And may I also add, how very grateful I am for air conditioning? But then again, I've eaten lunch on a screened in porch with a ceiling fan in summer and it was always pleasant so who knows? For sure it would have been hot hot hot in houses back in the 1940s and 1950s.
I could live a simpler life. I could. In fact, I have! No, really there are few appliances I should miss terribly. Definitely the Air Conditioner and the dishwasher. I could manage fine without the stand mixer though I do enjoy it. I could even scrape along with the freezer above the fridge if need be. We did in the past and I was feeding seven people three meals a day at that time. It was a lot nicer to get a chest freezer but even so it was a smaller freezer than I have now. And what a purchase that proved to be that little chest freezer. We gave it to Katie last summer and it's still in full use! Twenty three or so years and still going. I've never much used the electric frying pan though I mean to use it more often this summer, and the crockpot too, to avoid the oven heating up the house. But I'm just not a big appliances person so I could live without all but the AC and the dishwasher if need be.
I've lived without hot water many times and sometimes without electricity. I was thinking of the power outage we had last Thursday. No reason we could name, the electricity blipped and then blipped again and then it went off. We were without electric for about three hours. I got busy feeding dogs and making beds and served breakfast (thank goodness for a gas stove and coffee that was still hot). I watered plants and then I got hot. It was super muggy outdoors and I'd done just enough to be really warm and sticky. I regretted my skipping the shower first thing as I'd initially thought I'd do. We were planning to go out and eventually I just couldn't stand myself at all. I took up the remaining water in the jug (about 1/2 liter) and used it to wash my hair and rinse my hair. I did this over the kitchen sink and caught the water in the dishpan as I washed and rinsed my hair. I then used that saved bit of water to bath. It wasn't anything I didn't do for weeks on end during my stay at physical rehab as I awaited getting my cast off or even at the hospital two years ago.
All that to say, I don't do getting hot very well.
What got me started thinking of all this was reading G-Donna's blog. Her new old fashioned ice box just grabbed my attention big time. I couldn't help but think there is little to go wrong with that appliance. There are no mechanical parts and just a drain pipe and the door latches to worry with. I'll share a secret: I've been secretly longing for an old fashioned ice box or refrigerator and a vintage gas stove. There are two different homes I pass by often enough. One has the old fashioned fridge and the other has the gas stove. Every single time I see them I think "Oh! I want one of those!" At present I haven't a place to put either item except the back porch. And the only stove I've seen for sale of late is a massive enameled cast iron affair with 10 burners and three ovens. Not quite what I have in mind, anyway.
Our birthday month is in full swing. Samuel's was yesterday and Josh's was last Monday. Isaac turned four months on Tuesday. Josie's birthday was Friday was ten days ago. Today is my niece's and Saturday is Katie's and then we finish off the last day of the month with little Rosalyn as she turns three.
This past week, as I totted up my checkbook for the week, I noted the balance had really sagged low. I had to bolster it up a little, pushing a full sub account amount to the balance to heft it up. I was discouraged as I did that because I'd really made saving a priority this year and it has paid off big time. I was less discouraged later when I took a look ahead. By end of July, I shall have repaid that fund in full, paid off the auto insurance for another six months, filled every currently empty sub fund (paid out in the past 5 weeks) and paid off the trip John will be taking to Texas. In other words, if all goes as predicted, by the end of July we'll have quite a bit of wiggle room each month until January 2018 when we must begin again refilling some of the main sub accounts.
John and I are choosing to continue to be positive about what's ahead on July 1. For one thing, he was re-enrolled in two supplementary insurances. I doubt the county will be releasing the service if they've gone to the trouble of doing all that paperwork for each employee. As well, the county recently renewed pest control services for the EMS building which they had let lapse. I wish I could think of the one or two other things that make us feel the county is going to continue to manage the EMS but they elude me at the moment. However, both were things we took to be a positive sign.
Briefly I want to share a revelation I had about the relationship that I found so problematic. I had been deep blue and ailing last week and thoughts spun and spun in my head. First let me address why relationship is so important to us as a people: because God created us to be in relationship with Him, it's a natural born instinct in us to connect with others and to want to do so. Even the most introverted of us want relationship with a pet or a person. I was determined Friday morning to let go of all the twisting thoughts and such was my prayer before I left my bed that morning. Then I got a text from Bess who shared that she'd had a tough sort of week. I knew why and sympathized with her but she wasn't there to share a whine and I determined I'd not do so either. But we did begin to talk just a bit back and forth and the subject of my personal problem did come up. Again I heard "If this weren't family would you even consider staying around?"
Well that has been said and obviously doesn't carry a lot of weight with me though it's quite reasonable. I made another comment and Bess replied, "Is this your 'new addiction' this relationship?" Let me share this with you. I do have an addictive personality. I was a compulsive eater and when I gave that up and mastered that trait, I began to drink too much. I grasped that was becoming a problem and pretty much got rid of that habit, too. Then I played video games for many long hours. I was, simply put, addicted to something new. Eventually I gave that up but it's something I've warned my children about: we look for a new addiction to replace an old one. It's part of our personality profile as a family and one which we must break.
It was Katie who first introduced me to the idea that people can be addicted to bad relationships. This was in reference to another family member whose relationship with a spouse was so toxic that we were left speechless with each new drama that occurred. When I shared with her my complete lack of understanding how this could go on, she looked thoughtful and said "Perhaps because that's his 'drug'." So when Bess brought this up to me it made me stop and look hard at where I was and what I was doing. She was right. I was addicted. I was as busy turning each new twist and turn of this relationship over in my mind as I'd been playing my video games. I'd go over it and over it again, obsessively. In the end, as she rightly stated, I have to choose to be the strong woman I've been in so many other matters and remember that so far NOTHING has changed this relationship. I can't fix it. I can only change MYSELF. That's all I can do. I can change how I think and how I act. After I had that realization I felt such peace. It was a right and true answer for me at that moment. And yes, I've been just fine since. I'll just have to stand my ground hard and not give in.
I had such a fun time Friday. It was nothing but just good homey things I did. I watered plants and fed them, too. I didn't feed all of them last week and planned to finish them up this week. I'll wait two weeks before I put anymore out and I'll do all the plants at once because I couldn't remember where I'd left off last week. I will say that Miracle Gro is NOT overrated! My plants are all flourishing and the only thing I've done differently is to begin to feed them. I planted the petunias I'd rooted and the new plants. They all went into one barrel.
I think that barrel is going to be pretty when the plants grow a little. Deep purple petunias, a purple pink Angelonia and two purple and green Wandering Jews filled that pot nicely. I liked the plants grouped together on the back porch table as I waited for the petunias to get a little stronger. Every time I went outdoors I'd think "That's pretty!" It wasn't a hard decision to put them altogether in that barrel.
I trimmed back petunias in pots again. I'd read this is the way to keep them blooming and from getting too leggy. After the last time I can say honestly it seems to work well. I brought in the stems I pinched off and stripped them and set in water to try and root more. The last batch I tried to root just got slimy. I think I should've changed the water more often than I did, so this time I'll stop on top of that task.
In a week you'll never know I pinched the plants back at all. I don't pinch off every single stem. I pinch off about every other one. This allows me to have some blooms on the plants so they don't look as though they are dying. It's easy enough to tell which were pinched because in two weeks the new growth will just start to bloom and the old growth will be looking leggy. Then I'll pinch those off and root those pieces.
Then I played about in the kitchen. First I cleared up and then I went to work prepping food for that day and the weekend. I felt so accomplished an hour later when I had three meals worth of food ready to cook.
After I'd worked on the checkbook and got bills ready for paying this week, I piddled about doing the rest of the housework. It was just an easy paced productive morning. I really enjoyed it but I won't discount that lightened heart that helped ease things along.
I've been enjoying my new vintage magazines. I wonder just why modern magazines stopped publishing fiction? Each of these old magazines averages three fiction stories. Some magazines even have novellas in them and still others published series with the next chapter appearing in the following month's issues. Granny told me they used to take turns reading the stories out loud when the new magazines came to their home. That was pre-radio days.
Twenty or so years ago, when John and I first met we listened to the radio a lot, far more than we watched television. I sort of miss the evenings we used to spend listening to the radio and the games we'd play as we listened. We listened to sermons and classical music programs. We listened to a funny sort of word quiz program and I personally liked Garrison Keillor's program, though his voice drove John nuts. I managed to listen to that on the Saturdays that John worked. Friday nights were fun to listen to the Golden Oldies programs and Saturday night is truly a traditional Grand Ole Opry night. Somehow or other we decided over the years that somewhere on TV something worthwhile would show up if we flipped the channels often enough. I am pretty much down to four shows I watch consistently. Two series on the history channel and two sitcoms, one of which has been rather lack luster this past season. Oh and Tiny House Nation and Tiny House Hunters are also favorites on HGTV. I never seem to catch any of the other programming that is new.
You know what I miss watching on TV? Lawrence Welk. Yep. It wasn't Saturday until we'd seen Lawrence Welk's show. It was always mine and Mama's goal to have dishes done by the time Lawrence Welk came on so we could admire the dresses and enjoy the music and dancing.
We do catch now and then episodes of The Dinah Shore Show or The Jimmy Dean Show and Hee Haw. On one channel I can watch Andy Griffith, Leave It to Beaver, I Love Lucy, Beverly Hillbillies, and The Brady Bunch. Now and then we'll catch an encore episode of Red Skelton or Dick Cavett or Carol Burnett. You know what I find at the end of any of those programs? We're sitting here smiling. We laugh at jokes. We feel relaxed and easy in ourselves. Not the tension and horror and sometimes embarrassment we find ourselves experiencing with many modern programs. We watch two modern sitcoms. TWO. Nothing but those two. Both programs truly make us laugh out loud but the rest of the shows we've attempted leave us stony faced and unimpressed despite the stupid laugh-track that cues us when the writers were hilarious.
John and I noted the other night they are now advertising some old game shows, made over for modern times. "To Tell the Truth" and "The Gong Show" and "The Newlywed Game" have all been revived. Not nicely done, at least not The Newlywed Game. I'm afraid the others won't be nicely done either.
And movies are being redone too. What was that movie I saw the other day and I said to John "Why that came out in the 1980's!" I just saw another one that is being redone, one from my pre-teen years. "The Beguiled". Makes you feel old when they start redoing things from your young adult life, lol.
Right back to those retro moments with desserts I mentioned at the beginning of the post huh? Retro desserts, retro shows...Perhaps this is the current young generations attempt to be nostalgic for a different way of life, too?
Saturday we spent a lovely day at home doing what we generally do on Shabat: as little as possible. My dinner prep on Friday meant I had only to load up the crockpot and turn it on. That was easy enough. Dinner smelled awesome cooking. We had genuine appetites at dinner time that day. I had plenty of leftovers and made the executive decision that I'd save them for supper that night rather than make another meal. It was just as good second time around.
I read and worked puzzles in my Sudoku book. I played computer games and read blogs. We watched two animated films: The Penguins of Madagascar and Epic. I'd never seen Epic before and really enjoyed it. It was just a really relaxed day. We'd spent three of the last four Shabats traveling. It was worthwhile each time (coming home, spending time with family the other two) but I was weary this past week in many ways and I'm sure physical tiredness added to my mental and emotional deep blue feelings. I felt positively restored at day's end.
I think it was helped along too by a lesson John taught me after his morning reading on Friday and then my own reading on Shabat morning of Exodus. His teaching was about the rending of the curtain of the temple when Christ died. I read how the tabernacle was built and that it was covered with sheets. A curtain divided the tabernacle and the innermost area was The Holiest of Holies. Suddenly I had a very clear understanding of what it meant that the curtain was torn.
For years and years, from the building of the tabernacle until the day Christ died upon the cross, only priests went into the Holiest of Holies. When Christ died, anyone could enter in if they knew Christ as Messiah. That means I could go before God myself. Without anyone to intercede. Just me. I thought about that long and hard, the right I had to go before God Almighty himself, on my own. I imagined walking into that throne room in heaven. I could not look upon him. I could only bow before him. But in that moment I could feel His most genuine love for me. I realized that every single day I have that right, every hour if need be. God IS my strength.
Sunday morning we went to church where I knew a special Father's Day sermon was planned. There was to be a slide show of fathers run during the service. I hadn't sent in one of my dad, but I thought a long time about my father on the way over. For a lot of reasons, I had very little relationship with him though we lived in the same home for 19 years of my life. After I turned 32, following my recovery from the drunk driver accident, my parents divorced. I didn't see my dad more than three times in the next 20 years. In November of 2005, I was asked to attend to his care while my brother was out of town. I found my father living in filth, his skin black from not being washed. He'd been ailing for months but until Thanksgiving Day I had no idea. I spent the next six weeks going to his home twice daily. I cleaned him up and cut his beard and his hair. I washed his body. I cleaned his house and cooked for him and did his laundry.
There were mornings and evening as I left his home that I could not drive home before I'd put my head in my hands, leaned on the steering wheel and wept hard. The stress of dealing with his needs, my family's needs, my Granny and my mom was too much. But one morning as I was cooking a meal for him, and washing dishes, the sun streamed in the window. Daddy went to sleep on the couch. The house smelled like a home. And suddenly a feeling of peace flooded me and apparently flooded Daddy, as well. The man who had little nice he could ever say to me said quietly, "You must be an angel to do this. I've always been very proud of you." I wept that morning when I left, too, but for different reasons.
Just a week or so later, I arrived to find Daddy on the floor and a bucket next to his couch filled with blood clots he'd coughed up. I insisted that day that he go to the hospital, though he'd refused time and again before to see a doctor or go anywhere. He died two days later of a massive heart attack brought on by the stress of a huge cancerous tumor on his lungs, but not before I had the opportunity to ask him if he knew Christ as his Savior and not before he called to tell me that he had renewed that commitment. "I've made my peace with God and Jesus," he said. He died the next day.
In church yesterday morning, I thought about our early relationship and why it wasn't a relationship at all. I thought about the years he worked so hard and how he was the man I looked to all men to be. I don't know that he changed as much as my thoughts about him were changed over the years. As time went on he worked less and drank more and more. He was less the man he had been. His marriage was a huge disappointment in many ways. Our family was filled with strife and distrust. I'd blamed him alone for many years but I see clearly now that it wasn't just he who made life as it was. We all helped it along in one way or another. What might he have been had we been different? Had he felt he had even one person in this world who truly loved him?
And so today, right there in church, I prayed God would share with him my sorrow for what I'd not been to him at that time, that I was able to recognize once more what he was at a better part of his life. He'd given me something that morning six years ago. I wanted to release him from any last vestiges that withheld peace from him, to let go of the last of my wounded spirit where he was concerned. It didn't bring me to tears. It brought me back around to that same deep peace I'd felt six years ago as he lay sleeping. It was the right thing to do and it wasn't too late to do it, though I'd thought it might be. It was the right time. It was right.
There comes a moment in all our lives, I think when letting go is the most important thing we can do.
It was a nice homey afternoon, the sort I love and take pleasure in. I cooked John a special meal. I folded laundry, which I'd hung on the line before we left home. Tell me please, is there anything more summery, more right about summer, than white sheets billowing in a warm breeze, warmed by sun? They were just lovely and I almost hesitated to take them off the line, but I'm glad I did, as a little later, it began to sprinkle. It wasn't a long shower and there was no thunder. Maddie didn't even come to her house. She just lay in her shady spot and let it shower upon her. It was so gentle I doubt she got very wet at all.
I did dishes and then I cleaned our room and bath. There's something very therapeutic about housework I think. It's one of the few things we do that shows some result right away. It may not last but for a time it is done.
Now I am going to go dig through my recipe files on Pinterest and see if anything looks suitable for summer meals. I have several goals this week. I felt a surge of energy and found inspiration to DO once again. I'm looking forward to a great week. You have one, too.
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