Monthly Archives: May 2012

Are You A Cooking-Cleaning-Gardening Machine?

Whenever I come across The Good Wife’s Guide, I always wonder what life was really like for the women in the 50’s. Did they actually greet their husbands at the door with his favorite slippers and drink in hand? Or did they — the moment he walked into the house — shove the screaming kids into his arms so they could take a much needed break?

So check out The Good Wife Guide below and tell me which item you’re most likely to follow and which one you’re most likely to ignore.

The Good Wife’s Guide

1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you’ll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the tables.

5. During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all, catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction.

6. Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

7. Be happy to see him.

8. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him.

9. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first – remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

10. Don’t greet him with complaints and problems.

11. Don’t complain if he’s late for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through at work.

12. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

13. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice.

14. Don’t ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him.

15. A good wife always knows her place.

Which is The Good Wife Rule you most often adhere to? And which one do you most often ignore? My reply will be below in the comment section. 🙂

Happy Memorial Day!

On this holiday, I’m going to make my post very short and sweet so those of you kind enough to read can get away from the computer and enjoy the day with your families and friends.

The parents on my son’s baseball team were helping me brainstorm blog ideas and one fine gentleman (you know who you areJ) suggested I write about how kids these days don’t really know what Memorial Day celebrates. To most kids, the holiday represents a long weekend, the start of summer, when the pool opens, and when dad fires up the grill after a winter hiatus.

It’s sad to think that even in the middle of a war, most of our youth don’t have an appreciation for the sacrifice brave men and woman have made and continue to make on their behalf. Come to think of it, most adults don’t have the proper appreciation for the holiday, either.

So be sure to raise your flag today, thank someone in the service (past or present), or say a prayer for those fighting for our country and away from the ones they love. Don’t ever forget what a privilege it is to be an American. I’d love to put a name to our prayers, so if you have a loved one or a friend serving our country, please let us know in the contact section. I’ll start: my nephew Christopher is proudly serving in the Navy. We miss you, bud.

How Long Would You Survive In A Lifeboat?

My book club just recently finished reading the book Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.  If you haven’t yet read this book, I encourage you to do so.  It is an amazing read.  Even more amazing is the story is a true one.  Unbroken chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic distance runner from the 1936 Berlin games who is drafted by the Army as a bombardier in World War II, when his plane crashes into the Pacific and he becomes a prisoner of war.  The book details the horrific treatment Louis and his fellow POWs received at the hands of the Japanese and how Louis’ indomitable spirit helps him survive.  It’s also a story of forgiveness.

Louis’ ordeal begins when he is one of three survivors of an ocean plane crash.  He and his best friend Phil, the plane’s pilot, unbelievably survive 47 days adrift in a life raft in the middle of the Pacific ocean.  (A third crewman also survived the crash, but not the six weeks on the raft.)   When our book club was discussing the book, we all began wondering hwo long we’d survive such an ordeal.  No fresh water. No food.  No shelter from the blistering sun.  Several of us admitted it might only be a few days before we gave up.  Which begs the question:  what makes someone survive this type of harrowing experience?  What did Phil and Louis have that we obviously feel we lack?  Would I survive it if I had to?  I really don’t want to find out, thank you very much.  But, I’d like to think I’d last a least a little while.  I’ve survived motherhood, after all.

What makes this book even more special is its author, Laura Hillenbrand.  Like Louis, she’s got a wealth of inner strength.  She suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome and is often unable to leave her house for years at a time, some days not even her bedroom.  If the book hadn’t inspired me, her sheer will to get this story out there would have. The historical detail presented in the book is remarkable. She writes about men and animals (her first book was Seabiscuit) who overcome tremendous obstacles to survive and thrive.  Ironically, throughout the seven years it took to write this book, Louis never knew of the author’s ailment; most of the interviews took place over the phone or via email.  After learning of Laura Hillenbrand’s illness while reading an interview of her once the book was completed, he sent her one of his Purple Hearts.

Louis Zamperini never made it back to the Olympics.  At least not as a competitor again.  He did carry the Olympic torch twice:  once at the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Olympics and again, in 1998 through the very streets in Japan where he had once been a tortured prisoner of war.  In the 1930’s, it was believed he would be the first man to break the four minute mile.  A war, and the horrible torture he suffered just for being an American, obliterated that dream.

This week, as we celebrate both Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day, I’d like to say thank you to all those men and women who have sacrificed a dream—or a life—for this country.  Thank you to all those who returned from protecting our country with debilitating wounds—both physical and emotional—that must be endured for a life time. Thank you, also, to all the families sacrificing on the home front.   It is appreciated.

Down the road…

I’m revisiting this post from one of my tour stops last month.  It was one of my favorites, since it brought up some great memories.

I’m not a big traveler.  I mean, I’d like to be, I’d like to be toodling around in a giant Winnebago or flying off to exotic locales like ones I read about.  But my very blue collar world doesn’t include scenarios like that.  I’ve only really been on a few big trips in my life.

A big vacation when I was in the fourth grade brought me to the Grand Canyon and all up the West Coast.  I’ve been scuba diving in Grand Cayman and Cozumel and Honduras.  I’ve been to London.  I’ve been skiing in Taos, NM.  All of those things were in my twenties.  And I went to Vegas for my honeymoon.  That about sums up my travelling portfolio.

But one trip that wasn’t a vacation, stands out in my head as life altering.

When my daughter was five, her dad and I called it quits.  We were living in Colorado at the time, a beautiful, majestic place.  Also rivaling California for expensive living.  I couldn’t afford to live there on my own, and I didn’t want to.  It was time to move back home.  To Texas.  To family.

The small town I was going back to would be very different from what I was leaving behind.  I knew that.  I knew I was making the conscious choice to raise my daughter in an entirely different lifestyle.  She would be a blue-collar Texas girl, like I was.  So my dad and my brother rented a uHaul truck and drove the 2-day stretch to come help me pack up everything I owned, and we left.

I remember looking in the rearview mirror with tears in my eyes as I watched the big rock formation in Castle Rock, Colorado disappear around a bend.

I knew I’d never be back.  I felt the loss as I drove through mountain passes and little picturesque towns.  I looked at my daughter, coloring in a Barbie coloring book, who really wasn’t old enough to register what she was leaving behind, and both celebrated that fact and regretted it.

I got to spend precious moments with my dad, that I didn’t really realize was precious at the time.  We stopped and ate at little mom and pop diners along the way, and stayed at the tiniest roach motel I’ve ever seen…lol…  I remember pulling up finally, at the end of the second day, into my mother’s driveway.  Thinking:  “I’m finally home” and “Oh my God, what have I done” at the very same time.  I had no house, no job, no security for my daughter other than a support system of family.  I got us there two weeks before Kindergarten started, so she’d start in one place and not have to move in the middle.

One month later, I found a rent house and a job in the very same day.  And five years later my dad died…with my mom to follow eight months after that.  My choice gave my daughter a chance to know them, hang out with them almost daily.  She has deep rooted memories that I wish could have lasted longer but at least they are there.  She’s 17 now, and remembers certain activities with them vividly.

I still miss Colorado sometimes, but I’ve been here for twelve years now, have remarried into a wonderful family and have fully reinstated my Texas drawl and attitude.  It’s home again.

Do you have a trip that changed your life in some way?  Share!

Onion Harvest

So my onions came in this last week or so and after slicing and dicing them for the grill, the skillet, the freezer and the salad, I had to come up with something new.  You gardeners out there know what I’m talking about–zealous in your green thumb, you think “the more the merrier” and grow a hundred sweet onions with only the thought of Nirvana in mind.  Patiently you tend and care for these sweet babies until — FINALLY — six months later, they’re ready! 

Talk about excitement.  Well life around the Venetta Farm is in full swing and not only does that mean harvest, it means kitchen duty.  Not one for canning onions or eating them raw, I like to bake mine.  Saute them, combine them with butter and heat until they caramelize to perfection.  This recipe is one of my favorites for doing exactly that and with the addition of cheese?

Life doesn’t get any better.  Taken from the magazine, Cuisine at home, this dish is easy to make and worth every minute.  If you like French Onion Soup, you’re going to LOVE this dish. 

Onions au Gratin

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

8 cups sliced sweet onions

1/2 cup dry sherry or chicken broth (I used sherry)

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved (I skipped these)

Preheat oven to 400°F

Melt butter in a large cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, stirring until slightly softened to make room in the pan (I don’t know what this means—I just sautéed the correct amount of onions); cover and cook until completely softened, 10 minutes.

Add sherry, thyme, and bay leaves; increase heat to medium-high.  Sauté, uncovered, until the liquid evaporates and onions are browning, stirring occasionally, 10-15 minutes (mine may have been 20 minutes, but caramelizing onions is a fairly forgiving process).

Combine cheeses, then stir 1/2 cup of cheese mixture into onion mixture.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and bake until cheese is bubbly and browned, about 20 minutes.

Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves, then sprinkle with olives.  Let stand to cool slightly before serving.

Makes 4 servings.   Total time: approx. 50 minutes.

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