Cold, Cold and MORE Cold!

If you live in New England, especially in New Hampshire, you can count on bitter cold in winter. Oh sure, we get a few days where the temps creep up into the 40s, but that’s not the usual around here. Freezing cold and winds make winter even colder, and we bundle up from head to toe when we have to go out.

First, it’s the uber warm socks (and sometimes we wear two or three or four pairs at a time.) Then long underwear to keep your legs and upper body warm, then you layer up until the only parts of your body not covered are your eyes and nose. All this is topped off with a warm hat that covers your ears as well; and mittens or gloves.

It takes quite a bit of time to get rigged up for the cold. When I was still living with my parents, I did a lot of skiing and downhill races. Now that meant double the amount of long underwear, warm clothes, hats and goggles as well. Brrrrr!

Even the outdoorsies that we feed and shelter get their own version of “cuddle duds”: cardboard boxes lined with blankets and cat mats (the kind that heat up when the cat settles down on it). When it’s really cold, I also tuck warmers underneath the mats; the kind that hunters and ice fishermen use to keep warm for hours. Also there is food and water as well; the water bowls are “barn bowls;” the kind you plug into an outlet so that the water doesn’t freeze.

It’s not that we New Englanders hate winter, it’s just that it’s so dang long. Before there was “light therapy” and happy pills to lift our moods in winter, people either got busy doing things or just moped through winter. Or they made more babies, and as you know that alone will keep you busy.

We are also known (by folks who live in the south, mainly) as gruff, hard to talk to, mean-spirited, and grumpy. Well, to those folks: YOU try living in what feels like an endless winter when your feet and hands are freezing. You have to, as my Mom would say, bundle up like a pig going to war. Even your snot freezes.

So, if you are from the south and happen to come up our way in the dead of winter, you too may become moody and gruff as well. You have been warned.

 

 

The Importance of a Good Bra

Is there anything worse than a bad bra? It’s uncomfortable, it doesn’t fit well, and worst of all, it makes your breasts look sad and tired. The chances are that you are buying the wrong bra for you. Once you get the bra that really works for you, it makes a HUGE difference: the “girls” look their best, your tops and sweaters look better, and you’ll feel years younger.

Do yourself (and your boobs) a huge favor and go to a lingerie store that has a bra fitter. At first you may be embarrassed (no woman really thinks that their breasts are perfect), but trust me; those bra fitters are experts and they’ve seen it all. The bra fitter will measure you and bring you bras that really work for you. Once you have a bra that is comfortable and makes you look good, you will never go back to buying any old bra.

The second time I had DCIS (Ductal Cancer in Situ), my right breast needed surgery and it certainly doesn’t look as good as my left breast. But there’s a bra for that! I’ve bought the same type of bra for years now, and it makes a huge difference in how I feel about myself. Let’s face it, a woman of my age (68 years old) needs a specific kind of bra that is 1) comfortable, 2) age appropriate (you don’t want to be that woman whose boobs are hiked up to your chin), and 3) makes you feel amazing.

We’ve all suffered through a day of wearing an uncomfortable bra. It’s no fun and it doesn’t do your self image much good either. Just so you know, it doesn’t cost you anything to get advice and help from experienced bra fitters. Again, those gals have seen everything boob-related; nothing bothers them. They are there to help you find the bra that feels great and makes you look great as well. Oh, and by the way; there is no extra charge for the services of a bra fitter.

Now, all that said, understand that buying a really good bra that is comfortable and makes you look amazing is not cheap. However, a good bra will last you for years *if you take good care of it. You will be amazed when your friends say “hey, you look great! Did you get a facial?” or “Wow—that top looks wonderful on you! Where did you buy it?” And so on. But best of all, you will be completely comfortable and you will look terrific.

*NEVER put your bra in the washer! (Especially if your bra has wire in it) Hand-wash the bra in your bathroom sink with warm water and suds. Personally I like to use Woolite Delicates. Rinse with warm water, carefully squeeze the excess water out (be careful that you don’t bend any wires in the bra) and hang the bra up to dry.

Stuff That Men Think Are Important

Look, I get it that men think differently than women do (big surprise there, I know). The examples are many, and the Crankee Yankee is no exception. Here are some of the highlights of men vs. women:

  1. The TV. Men don’t necessarily want to know what’s on TV; they want to know what else is on TV.
  2. Sports. I personally don’t care for sports; I’m sure that there are loads of women who do, but I don’t. But it seems that all men love sports. Which is fine by me, but what I don’t like is the Crankee Yankee constantly switching channels to check the scores.
  3. The kitchen sink. How hard is it to put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher, or wash the dang dishes and put them away?
  4. Leftovers. Speaking just for us, we like leftovers. What I don’t like is when someone (and I don’t mean our cats) leaves the remains of the leftovers out. For Pete’s sake, just put them back in the refrigerator. Sheesh.
  5. Home security. Even though we live in a nice neighborhood in a nice town, bad things sometimes happen. I am always locking the doors, and the Crankee Yankee is always leaving them unlocked. I always carry my house keys with me; the Crankee Yankee does not. You can imagine how that works out.

And the list goes on. I’m sure that most men have their own lists about women, too. I think that the man stuff and the woman stuff is just plain old DNA. Often the things that we women think are important are often not so much with men—and vice-versa. I read an old story about men and women: long ago it was said that men and women were one body and one mind. There was no arguing, no fighting, no having to be right; it was just peaceful and easy for them both.

But at some point, we separated into individuals, and that’s probably where the differences came in. Who knows? But it’s a good story just the same.

So—what are we to do these days as separate entities? Oh, of course we can establish ground rules of the house, which is a great idea—but seldom holds up. We can talk about it (and see how long that lasts), we can accept it and be boiling mad all the time, or we can just accept it and not make it a “live or die” situation.

I read the following a long time ago, and I always think about it when something the Crankee Yankee does that makes me nuts. It goes like this:

“To keep love brimming in the loving cup,

Whenever you’re wrong, admit it.

Whenever you’re right, SHUT UP!”

And you know what? It WORKS.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Matters and What Doesn’t Matter

Every relationship has ups and downs; we are not perfect. We are just plain people, trying to live our lives. When someone we love dearly hurts our feelings, it is a deep hurt. It may hurt for a day, a week, a month; it all depends how deep it is. Many couples who love each other dearly can have hurts like these. While we know in our hearts and minds that we are committed to our loved one, there are still times when we would gladly walk away from them—for a while, anyway.

We may try to live through it and forgive and try to forget; but that hurt may bother us for an unspecified amount of time. One of us may snap at the other for no other reason other than the other person is having an off day. In our heads, we realize that our feelings may be hurt, but the other person may not see it that way.

This is when the “*let it go, Elsa” moment needs to happen. As close as we are to the one we love, we don’t always see eye to eye. We can let ourselves brood on what was said or done, or we can realize that no matter what, we love each other. Sometimes it’s not easy to approach the other person and apologize; however, when we do, that burden of guilt, shame and hurt goes away pronto.

It’s like that old saying: “look at the doughnut, not the hole.” That is, we need to realize what truly matters and what truly doesn’t. Is what happened a huge issue or just a little piddley one? Take it from me (and I admit that I can be damned stubborn and bull-headed), usually these things really don’t matter. What really matters is that we love and care for each other. Once we realize that being stubborn isn’t worth it, then we can honestly say to our loved one: “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean what I said.”

In that moment we can realize and understand what matters and what doesn’t matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*From the Disney movie, “Frozen.”

 

 

Cozy Winter Recipes

Way back at Christmas 1988, my mother gifted me a real treasure: a hand-written recipe book of her favorite recipes for meals, breads, vegetables, and desserts. To this day, I still make these wonderful recipes I grew up with, and I consider them not just as wonderful food, but a true gift from my mother. I treasure this book written in Mom’s beautiful handwriting.

Yesterday I had a yen for one of Mom’s delicious “winter recipes” called cheese custard. I made it from scratch last night which the Crankee Yankee and I enjoyed along with a salad. There is just something wonderful and cozy about a winter meal; it is dark out, the moon is rising, everyone is home and looking forward to a hot meal.

In case you are interested in trying out some of these great recipes, here are a few favorites for you to try, and I hope that you enjoy them.

Cheese Custard: a great dish for a brunch, lunch or dinner. You can make this the night before and keep it in the refrigerator when you’re ready to cook.

Ingredients: 

  1. 10 slices of buttered bread, cut in large cubes
  2. 3 cups sharp grated cheese
  3. 1 teaspoon of salt (I usually add a little pepper as well)
  4. 1 teaspoon of dry mustard (or you can just add in plain old mustard)
  5. 2 cups milk
  6. 4 eggs, well beaten

Butter a casserole dish, and put in layers of cheese, then bread, etc., ending with cheese. Mix the other ingredients together well and pour over the bread and cheese. Refrigerate over night. Put the casserole in a pan of water to bake. Bake one hour at 375 degrees.

Some variations: you can add shrimp or cubed ham or 1 teaspoon of oregano or crumbled bacon.

Beer Bread

This is as easy as it gets; the recipe makes one loaf.

Ingredients: 

  1. One 12 oz. bottle of beer
  2. 3 cups of self-rising flour
  3. 1 teaspoon of salt

Mix the ingredients together, and put them in a greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for a half hour. This bread is great with soups, salads, chili, and it is delicious and easy to make.

Sweet and Sour Brisket

This is a wonderful pot roast that makes lots of gravy; enough left over to use as a good soup base.

Ingredients: 

  1. Beef brisket
  2. 2 cups sliced onions
  3. 3/4 cup ketchup
  4. 2 tablespoons of vinegar
  5. 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
  6. 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  7. 1/2 cup of sugar
  8. 3/4 cups of water

Place the brisket in a large casserole and cover with onions. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over meat and onions. Cover and bake for 3-4 hours in a 325 degree oven.

Note: Chuck roast can be used in this recipe instead, but cook one hour less. Serve with mashed potatoes with mashed in horseradish and parsley.

It is said that food is love, and I believe that. I also believe that the hands who make our food for us make our meals so much better. Thanks, Mom—for everything.

 

A Spring-Like Pond Walk

It’s been a while since I walked around the pond. But yesterday it felt like spring, and the Crankee Yankee suggested we go for a walk. Of course, the pond is iced over, but the sky was blue and the air was warm, so off we went.

We weren’t the only ones, either. It was a warm and lovely day, and we stopped and chatted with a few folks who had brought out their folding chairs and lap blankets were also enjoying the warmth and the sunshine.

Of course, the walk was a muddy one, but we enjoyed it all the same. Lots of folks were taking their dogs for a walk, and we got to talk with the owners and pat their furry friends. While the pond itself was still frozen, on the other side of the path there is a larger body of water. There were lots of “ice islands” bumping into each other, and the seagulls soared overhead, no doubt looking for a space of clear cold water to land in.

All of the pond’s turtles and frogs are hunkered way down into the mud to sleep through winter. Nature lets them know when it’s time to wake up and swim up to the surface and enjoy the sun and warmer water. In the meantime, we humans are taking advantage of every spring-like day.

New England, being the unpredictable place that it is, will often surprise us with some warm and sunny days here and there. It’s a welcome and rare gift, and yesterday we took every advantage of it.