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Monthly Archives: April 2012

GIGGLES OF HOPE

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When I was a little girl, my parents gave me a Giggles Doll for my birthday.  I had yearned for this doll for a long time, and I was so delighted when I received her as a gift.  The doll was just as any doll except she would giggle when you moved her arm up and down.  Every time she giggled, I giggled.  I loved my doll!

My little sister wanted to play with Giggles, too.  I would let her play with my doll on occasion; however, my sister did not just want to play with her in our room.  She wanted to take my favorite doll in the bathtub.  The instructions that came with Giggles explicitly said not to put the doll in water.  Therefore, I warned my sister to play with the doll anywhere but in the bathtub.

One evening I went with my father to the store and left Giggles at home.  When I returned, I went in search of Giggles, finding her in the bathtub with my little sister.  The horror of seeing my favorite doll in the water was overwhelming! Giggles’ beautiful hair was matted to her head, her clothes were on the bathroom floor, and when I swiped her out of my little sister’s hands, she was waterlogged with soapy bath water.

My mom came running to see what was wrong when she heard my scream.  Quickly performing doll CPR, my mom placed Giggles in the sink and shook her roughly to remove the excess water.  By then, I was crying and Giggles had bubbles pouring out of her head.  I was traumatized by the scene. The first thing I did the following morning was go into the bathroom and check on Giggles.  I found that she was dry and did not have any residue of bubbles in her hair.  I dressed her in her colorful dress and put her shoes on her plastic feet. The hair on Giggles’ head was still matted and gently I tried to brush it to its former luster.  Finally, I sat on the bottom bunk of the bed I shared with my little sister, and pulled Giggle’s arm up and down to see if she would work. NOTHING!  I tried repeatedly to no avail. I was heart-broken.

For days, I kept hoping that Giggles would giggle once more. I would pull her arm, but she did not work.  My little sister was just as upset as I was.  She felt terrible that she had broken my favorite doll.  We both worked hard trying to rehabilitate Giggles, but we finally gave up and set her on the shelf.

Many months later, I walked past Giggles and the twinkle in her eye made me take her down from the shelf.  I smoothed the hair on her head that never did have the store-bought luster return, and for the heck of it, I pulled her arm up and down.  I do not think I have ever had a happier day, for when I pulled her arm she giggled.  It was a loud, robust giggle that made me, too, giggle. I ran out of the room yelling.  I found my sister and hugged her. We giggled together, pulling Giggles’ arm up and down until we were crying with laughter.

It is funny, but I learned a valuable lesson from my Giggles doll.  I learned that I should never give up hope.  Miracles can happen even when it seems impossible. If I can just be patient, wait a little while, and pull the arm up and down, the world will be all right.

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

Personification in Everyday Life

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As humans, we like to give our human qualities to inanimate objects.  Even our food takes on human qualities. Share a story of a weird object you have seen with human-like qualities.

 
 
Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Giver by Lois Lowery

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The Giver (The Giver, #1)The Giver by Lois Lowry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you like dystopian stories like The Hunger Games, you will love The Giver. This young adult novel written by Lois Lowery is set in the future where everything is “sameness”. The main character in the story is Jonas, a 12-year-old who has been assigned his life’s profession as a Receiver of the community’s memories.

In Jonas’ community, you apply for your mate, and apply for children. Birthmothers whose assignment in the community is only to have babies for three years birth children. The elderly and those who are not perfect are chosen for “release”.

The book has won The 1994 Newberry Award, and the American Library Association named it as one of the 100 Most Challenged books.

This book deals with the ideas of sexuality, war, and controlled societies. It is listed as a Young Adult Novel; however, it is written so well, that adults will enjoy the story, too. Lois Lowery weaves a tale that makes you think deeply about even it after you have put the book down.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

How Long Should I Freeze my Food?

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What is the average storage life of foods stored in the freezer?  I did a little research on the Internet, and I found some nifty charts.  A good idea would be to hang a chart on an inside cabinet or on the fridge to refer to when I am wondering if the frozen fish is still safe to eat.

What I learned from the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service site is that frozen food can remain safe indefinitely as long as it stays frozen.  If food is frozen too long, freezer burn or discoloring may occur affecting the taste and quality of the food.  Below is a chart that will help cooks to decide if the food they wish to eat is still of good quality.

Freezer Storage Chart (0 °F)
Note: Freezer storage is for quality only. Frozen foods remain safe indefinitely.

ITEM

MONTHS

Bacon and Sausage 1-2 months
Casseroles 2-3 months
Egg Whites or Egg Substitutes 12 months
Frozen Dinners or Entrees 3-4 months
Gravy, Meat, or Poultry 2-3 months
Ham, Hotdogs, or Lunchmeat 1-2 months
Meats, Uncooked Roasts 4-12 months
Meat, uncooked steaks or chops 4-12 months
Meat, uncooked ground 3-4 months
Meat, cooked 2-3 months
Poultry, uncooked whole 12 months
Poultry, uncooked parts 9 months
Poultry, uncooked giblets 3-4 months
Poultry, cooked 4 months
Soups, Chili, and Stews 2-3 months
Wild game, uncooked 12 months

You can check out more food safety facts at the USDA site http://www.fsis.usda.gov/FactSheets/Focus_On_Freezing/index.asp

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

Grandmother’s Chocolate, Chocolate Chip Muffins

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Yummy chocolate goodness to please every chocolate lover.

Categories: Desserts, Pies, & Cakes

Yield: 12 muffins

INGREDIENTS:

 2 cups flour, all-purpose

2 teaspoons Baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Baking soda

1 square Baker’s chocolate, melted

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup Almond Milk

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

12 paper muffin cups

DIRECTIONS:

1.  Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  In a large bowl, add all dry ingredients.

3.  Melt baking chocolate in the microwave for 45 seconds.  Add to dry mix.

4.  Add all liquid ingredients and stir. Leave the batter lumpy.  Add the chocolate chips. Spoon into muffin cups and fill the cups ¾ the way up. Sprinkle some extra chocolate chips on the top.

5.  Bake for 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Notes: Add some chocolate chips to the top of the batter before baking for extra chocolate goodness.

Source: Recipes from the Vault

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

Mega, Extreme Dinosaur Lover

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My grandson has been obsessed with dinosaurs since he was two years old.  He knows every name, in Greek and Latin terms, and every tiny description and fact about dinosaurs.  He has a robotic T-Rex, and scores of triceratops, Diplodocus, and velociraptors, sitting on his shelves in his bedroom.  He reads encyclopedias of dinosaurs and watches every movie ever made about them.  He is infatuated with these extinct creatures.

For his birthday, my grandson’s parents took him to the Field Museum to see the exhibit that housed the famous T-Rex, Sue.  They spent the night at the museum, sleeping amongst the dinosaurs in their sleeping bags.   My grandson met with other kids who were also enamored with dinos and they ran and giggled as the huge beasts watched. He was in heaven.

I do not remember ever being so besotted with any one thing in the same way my grandson is smitten with dinosaurs.  I know my son loved choo-choo trains when he was little, and then he liked fire engines, Lego’s, Nintendo, and… However, my grandson does not seem to be willing to leave the dinosaur craze behind him.  He has become interested in Godzilla, but it is only a made up creature similar to a dinosaur. Oh, and he likes Lego’s now, but he made me buy the new dinosaur collection.

A friend of mine insinuated that maybe there was something wrong with my grandson’s fanatical love of dinosaurs.  However, I do not agree.  I think it is great that he is able to stick with one thing and really study it.  His preoccupation keeps him entertained and using his imagination.  What could be so bad with that?

Who knows? Maybe he will grow up to be a scientist, zoologist, or a paleontologist.  Possibly, with his skill and passion for looking in-depth at things, he could find a cure for cancer or unearth answers to world problems.  Or else, he could become an awesome Dad who can have interesting conversations with his own son about dinosaurs.  Whatever he does with his life, I am sure that he will do it with zeal and curiosity, and I will be extremely proud of him.

Do you know any children who are obsessed with something?  Feel free to share your story.

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson

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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed AmericaThe Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This non-fiction book reads like a great mystery novel. It won me over immediately due to its setting of Chicago in 1893. This was at the time of The World’s Fair (The World’s Columbian Exposition) and the great architect Daniel H. Burnham who created the “Great White City”.

The book revolves around Herman Webster Mudgett (aka Dr. H.H. Holmes) who lured his victims from the fair and murdered them. This serial killer even built his own building, “The World’s Fair Hotel” with a plan to gas the victims in the gas chamber, dissect them at the dissection table, and rid himself of the bodies in the crematorium. Dr. Holmes often removed the skeletons of his victims and sold them for medical and scientific study. Many of those skeletons may have been used in medical colleges and hospitals.

The interesting thing about this book is how the author wove this story of murder and mayhem with the story of the architect Daniel Burnham. The reader is given insight to the character and dream of Burnham and of the politics that went into creating a World’s Fair.

This excellent book leaves the reader hungry for more. Leonardo Di Caprio purchased the film rights to this book in 2010. Word is that a movie starring Di Caprio is in production. No word as to when it might be released. If the movie is half as good as the book, it will be a blockbuster.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 

Grandmother’s Corned Beef and Cabbage

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An easy traditional Irish dish made in the Crockpot that feeds the whole family. 

Servings: 6

Categories: Main Dishes & Meats

INGREDIENTS:

4 pounds corned beef brisket, seasoned
2 bottles Guinness Draught Stout
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 small head of cabbage, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, sliced 1/2″ thick
6 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
10 whole baby red potatoes, boiled

DIRECTIONS:

1. In the Crockpot, place the corned beef, any seasoning that came with it, and the two bottles of Guinness Draught Stout. Add 1/2 cup of brown sugar. Cook on High for 1 hour.

2. After an hour, lower the temperature to low and allow the corned beef to cook for 4-6 hours. Meanwhile, in a large pot, add red potatoes and enough water to cover them. Boil potatoes until done testing with a fork.

3. Remove corned beef and slice. Keep meat on the side while you put the sliced cabbage, carrots, and onion in the Crockpot. Turn temperature up to high and cook an additional 45 minutes, until the cabbage is translucent and the carrots are done.

4. Add sliced meat and cooked potatoes to the cabbage mixture, and heat for about 20 minutes to warm everything. Serve.

Serving Ideas: Serve with soda bread & Butter. Horseradish is also a favorite.

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

“Dit, dit, dit, diddle, le, dit…”

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It was an enormous surprise for what had begun as a bad day.  I called my husband on my break, and he announced that he had won tickets to see REO Speedwagon from a local radio station. REO Speedwagon was one of my favorite bands.  In the 1970’s, the group had the coolest album entitled, You Can Tune a Piano but You Can’t Tuna Fish.  My teenage friends and I would rock out to REO Speedwagon in my living room on my booming console stereo that made the picture window rattle.  I was so excited! I was finally going to hear 157 Riverside Avenue and Ridin’ the Storm Out, live in concert.

It was warm the night of the concert, and I dressed in what I felt were “concert” clothes. I looked good and I felt sexy.  The venue was at an old ornate theater in an even older river town. Moreover, as my husband and I walked up to the front doors, I noticed that there were many older people milling about the place.  I was surprised, because REO is a rocking band. Nevertheless, we went to the will call window to pick up our winning tickets; and with tickets in hand, we stood in the crush of people waiting to get into the theater.  Again, I looked around and was surprised at the amount of middle-aged and older people.

Once our tickets were checked in, my husband wanted a beverage so he found a line that looked shorter than the rest.  It was really packed around the beer/beverage concessions.  Standing with him waiting, I mentioned to him that I had better use the lady’s room before the show started.   The line at the lady’s room was long, but that is common at any event. As I waited, I noticed a few women in tank tops with colorful tattoos up and down their arms.  Their arms were saggy and the tattoos looked ghastly on their aging arms.  These women had to be in their 60’s! What were they doing at this rock concert?

Just as I arrived at the door to the ladies room, out comes a woman attached to an oxygen tank.  That was it!  What am I doing at this old person’s concert?  I wondered to myself.  These people all had gray hair!  They dressed as we did in the 70’s, but they were not teenagers, they were parents, grandparents, and the elderly!

When I finally met with my husband again and we found our seats; and I was really freaking out.  I whispered to him that he should look around.

“At what?” he asked.

“Look at all these old people.” I said incredulously.

Then I proceeded to tell him about the woman with the oxygen tank and the tattooed women in the bathroom.  He looked at me with pity.  I hate when he looks at me like that.

“Honey,” He said. “We are just like these people.”

I sputtered. Then, I scanned the theater and saw all the overweight, bald, graying, rockers. It hit me like a flaming meteor falling from the sky.  It was a brutal realization.  I am one of these old people!  I am old!  Until that moment, I had not felt that I was old, in fact, I that evening when I dressed for the concert, I felt like I was 18.  I had not related to the simple fact that I, too, was a grandmother and had kids in their 30’s.  Oh no, I thought to myself.  I am too old to rock to REO Speedwagon!  I had missed my chance.

Then the lights went down in the theater.  The band took the stage, and Kevin Cronin wailed out my favorite song, 157 Riverside Avenue, and I was a teenager again.  I stood up, and I started waving my flabby arms (no tattoos), and I sang along in my loudest voice.  “Dit, dit, dit, diddle, le, dit…”

Age no longer mattered.  The loud, rockin sound of a great band brought out the youngster in me. All else was forgotten for a few hours.

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

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The Glass CastleThe Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jeannette Walls writes her deeply disconcerting memoir, The Glass Castle that recounts her life growing up with dysfunctional parents. Jeannette’s father was an amazingly intelligent man who could teach his four kids physics, geology, and fearlessness when he was not drunk. Jeannette’s mother was an artist who would rather get lost in her art than feed and raise her children. Mother and father were a perfect storm of two people who should never have had children. The memoir takes the reader on a tour of great ups and horrific downs for this wandering family.
From the very beginning, I was completely enthralled with this book. The story is expertly woven and easy to read. At times, the book touched a nerve, and it would make me so angry with Jeanette’s parents that I would just have to scream. This was a great book for my book club where we discussed the story with emotion and dismay. I would highly recommend this book.

View all my reviews

Copyright © Jamie Nowinski and Grandmother Wisdom/ Grandmother Musings 2012-2013.
Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jamie Nowinski – Grandmother Wisdom/Grandmother Musings with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
 
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