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it was so successful...

Thursday, April 30, 2015
...you should have seen me doing the happy dance. I made some homemade relish, and put in canning jars today. Everyone of the jars sealed: all twelve! I am so happy I had to do the dance. Sorry you were  not here to see. Dishes washed, kitchen cleaned up, and sparkling jars, filled with fresh pickle relish sitting on the countertop.

Everything about the recipe makes me think of grandmothers. I have a big pot, sitting high on my pantry shelf, where I have to get out the step stool to get it down. Belonging to my Benson grandmother, who made a gazillion batches of jelly, pickles, jam, relish in it. Spent days of her life, peeling, dicing, slicing, chopping all the fruits and vegetables to make good things to eat, spoon on biscuits and spread on sandwiches. Hours standing over the steaming, simmering pot stirring to get the ingredients to the perfect point of melding flavors and appropriately seasoned. The art and practice of preserving as done by people who depended on what they could grow and save to feed their families.

And grandmother Rosa was the one who said the relish was so good she often had it for her evening meal, spooned onto cold biscuits. I've never actually tried it, though I do know honey or jam would be nearly as good on one cold and leftover as a hot steaming one from the oven. But she swore by the relish as the accompaniment to her evening snack of biscuits. Grandmothers will not likely steer you wrong, so now that I have twelve sealed, beautiful jars of relish to enjoy for months to come, in the unlikely event there should be a biscuit left around long enough to get cold, I will give it a try.

don't mind me, I just ...

...need to vent. Have lots of bad words I need to get out of my system, and let off some steam. I am soooooooo frustrated with my work situation. I usually go to a friend's house in Wednesday nights meeting with a group of people from church to 'do life together', an occasional Bible study, often a video series, always something good to eat, prayer support, folks who care. A sort of replacement family for people to bond, have a sense of connection in a congregation that is so large you otherwise get lost in the masses.  I've not been to the community group lately, much to my dismay/detriment. Due to work schedule, and being on the job till 8:00 p.m. on Wednesdays.

My job situation has been so distressing, and I am so frustrated I don't know what to do, or if there are really any reasonable options. So I have been using way too many unprintable words lately.  Though it is probably not beneficial for my mental health, it feels like the pot is about to boil over. So sadly, I find myself resorting to considerable quantities of: #%&*, and @!$%, as well as gnashing my teeth, swearing, cursing, stomping, pointless raging, vociferous complaining, belligerence, occasional bouts of 'piss-and-moan'. Along with some :(

I started reading a book that a friend gave me this morning, in response to my saying I was in a really bad place in my work environment and needed my 'group' to pray for me. She said:' this is what you need to help you understand what is going on'. So I started reading, before going to work today, and believe I need to try to be content with my situation. I am so frustrated. And angry. And need to get over being both of those things. Make peace within myself.

I've told a daughter getting through rough places in her life more than once that 'life is too short to be miserable'. She recently quoted that back to me. I know it is true. And I do believe if there are things in your life that are untenable, making you feel so out-of-sorts and unhappy you can't see the joy, you need to reassess, and make some changes. But at this point the only thing I can see....is how I feel like they have stolen my joy. And I want it back.

cookin' at work: early cinco de mayo ...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015
... really good enchiladas. Stuffed with chicken and covered with yummy sauce. Pretty easy recipe, that starts with a chicken that is already cooked in the deli. Just out of curiosity, and for the just for the sake of argument, I was looking at whole chickens in the meat department recently. Whereupon I discover there is little difference in price between a raw, take it home and do it yourself whole bird, and one that is already seasoned, rotisserie cooked, and packaged for your consumption.

So by all means, stop by the deli and get yours today. Save yourself the aggravation, annoyance and nasty-ness of having to take the raw, naked bird home and wash, season, bake it yourself. Plus this is pretty much the main ingredient for the enchiladas. And... once you get the meat pulled off, you will have enough to make the recipe twice, or have chicken salad tomorrow night. So go for it, ready cooked chicken from the deli.!

The other thing you need is something to wrap it in, or it's not an enchilada. And something to hold it together when you do the wrapping. This recipe had me using a dip from the cooler in the deli, that was sort of spicy. But also indicated if you did not want to go that route, you could do your own thing. Make it according to your temp. specs. as hot as you like, or not. Using whipped cream cheese and as much or little hot sauce as you choose. Which is pretty much what I tell passers-by, customers stopping by for a taste test all the time: you know what your taste buds can tolerate, so you decide the heat index for your recipe.

The topping (which also goes in the baking dish under the rolled up tortillas) is a cup of salsa verde and a can of chicken soup.  Roll 'em up and put them in the pan, sprinkle with cheese and put in a 400 oven about twenty minutes to heat through. That's it. Yummy... plus there was also a delicious recipe for three ingredient salsa... oh, my, goodness!

picture this...

... in your mind. It will be a hilarious cartoon. Though it did not actually happen, I got a report that made me laugh out loud.

A call this morning, reporting hearing news on the radio: accident on the interstate in Atlanta. Two trucks colliding. One of which had a load of marble.  My first thought was a load of marbles (plural). And immediately a picture comes to mind. Cartoon characters who are whizzing around, looking like their legs are rotating like fan blades. Something of a roller derby effect. Arms flailing like a windmill, while legs go akimbo, moving faster than the eye can observe, trying to maintain balance. A hilarious picture in your mind, of something that is so cartoon'ish as to be laughable... the kind of stunt a Disney character like Steamboat Willie would accidently find himself caught up in...rolling in twelve directions at once.

Of course, that is not at all what occurred. It was a load of stones, possibly quarried in north east Georgia. There is an area, up near the South Carolina border, where there is much marble underground. And several quarries that unearth the mineral to sell for profit. So the incident that occurred in the metro involved large rocks, probably slabs of stone... but it is a hilarious picture to envision: thousands and thousands of little glass marbles rolling around in the highway.

Almost as amusing, in a sad way, to see a trailer full of chickens headed to market, spilled out in the right of way. And you can just imagine how difficult it would be to round up thousands of frightened, squawking chickens. To say nothing of a gazillion loose marble.

doggie sitter-ing...

...has caused me to change my life a wee bit. I don't usually come to the house for lunch when I am at work. I am required to take a lunch break, but usually just sit down as quickly as possible, to rest my tired footsies until it is two  minutes till time to go back to work.  But with a dog in residence, I think I would rather make the ten minute trip to the house and let her out to do her business than clean up whatever might happen if she stayed in too long.

So I came home, heated up a dish of mac-n-cheese, and sit here for a few minutes to rest before I made the ten minute drive back to work. This little fuzz-mutt is remarkably low maintenance, needs little attention but loves to snuggle up, sit in your lap, get a bit of a scratch.

I took her for a walk yesterday when I got home, and thought we could make a loop through the neighborhood. But about half way it began to rain, too hard for us to finish. So I took refuge on a porch, and called for a ride - discovering our house guest does not like getting wet. She was really pitiful, shivering, quaking till she got back in the house and dried out. I'd probably have finished the walk and been sodden when I returned, but my poochy friend was not at all amenable to the weather.

dog-sitting...

Monday, April 27, 2015
again, for a friend who stays in the road, likely more than myself. She loves to go to the beach along the Florida panhandle. Which is about a five hour drive, and will take herself and stay for a week  at the time.  Occasionally meeting friends, going to see someone, or just to be going to the beach, sitting in the sun and walking along the edge of the water. She has told me that before her husband died, they would get in the car and drive down for the day. Not my idea of fun, though anyone who knows me is aware of my getting up before first light, and returning the same day long after sunset.

The friend, E., has two dogs. I think the other one is smaller, what is apparently considered 'purse-sized'. The little one usually travels with her, unless she is staying someplace pets are not acceptable. And the bigger dog will come to visit here. This has happened several times in the past year or so, since she adopted this frizzly, fuzzy mutt-mix.  Maybe some chow, possibly a bit of Pomeranian, and something dense, as though she has short legs, she is deceptively heavy. Very friendly and affectionate, but seems to be sort of skittish, so may have a history of abuse.

Obviously a smart little pooch, as she knows to sit when you tell her to, in anticipation of having her leash attached to go for a walk. And will turn in a circle before she takes her treat from your hand. Plus she knows to do her business outside, and will hold it until she is allowed out the door. Otherwise, she would  not be invited back to my house the second time.

I had to run into town early this morning, and stopped by the 'just a buck' store to get her a bag of treats. Found a little bone-shaped chewy toy with a squeaker inside, that I will most likely regret purchasing. She is having a field day with the toy. I assume it will eventually be chewed up to the point the squeaking part will not function, possibly disappear, maybe consumed. But for now, she is nearly beside herself with delight over her new noisy toy.

peversely gratifying...

Sunday, April 26, 2015
... is what I am thinking results from digging up those aggravating little smilax tubers. I spent some time this afternoon, puttering in the back yard with my shovel. It started, as things tend to do, with a project totally unrelated to digging up smilax. When I put a bucket of good home-made dirt and a few little plants in the wheelbarrow.

Once again I find myself buying things to plant then bringing them home and playing a guessing game: roaming around looking for the most likely spot to dig.  I accidently bought these plants at wally world a couple of weeks ago and needed to plant or they will never survive. It probably occurred when I thought I could just scoot in the garden shop and run in, really quick like, to get more cash on the card I use for gas at the Murphy in the parking lot. And the siren call of something to plant lured me into buying more stuff I don't need and had no place to put.

Roaming around the yard, pushing the wheelbarrow with dirt, shovel and plants, trying to figure out where a bright sunny spot might be, I got distracted by the thorny vines of the smilax. Some of the tubers were young, no bigger than a pin head. Only a leaf or two on a little short vine, just barely showing above the collected leaves. Some were as big as an English pea. Some were as big as a quarter, with a long twining, grabby, climbing vine to match. But all were growing just behind the back of the house, in the sprouted up through the leaves. I probably dug up a hundred of them, so a very satisfying afternoon. Mostly growing in a place that is really shady, pretty much never gets any sun, with really thick leaf mulch under some oak trees. They obviously will tolerate anything from full sun to none at all. Pretty dang hardy.

I finally got the little bare-rooted things from wally world in the ground. It's a sea holly, that does not actually look like a flower at all, but something prickly, almost cactus like, that turns blue as it matures. I've seen them as cut flowers and think they are really neat, so hope they will grow and do well in that sunny spot they are settled into.

Along with a lot of reclaimed, rescued bulbs. Several pots  full of those daffodil looking things. Bright yellow, but tiny little blooms the size of a nickel. Big fat bulbs, packed together in pots that probably came from a greenhouse where the grower has to keep lights and heat going full time in Canada to force them to bloom. And some bloomed out hyacinths that went into the bed on the north side of the house that has dozens more. In every color that they bloom: white, pale pink, dusty rose, lavender, dark purple With a good dose of time-release fertilizer in the hole, I hope they will be glorious next spring.

today was verrrrry sad...

Saturday, April 25, 2015
...though I did it to myself, so have no one else to blame. Due to volunteering to go to work. There was only one other person doing the prep. work in the produce department, so I offered myself. Thinking I could go in a work a few hours that would improve the condition of my paycheck, that would otherwise be remarkably slim and trim due to limited hours. And the sad part was due to spending most of the day prepping for slicing. Mostly onions and some squash.

Management or whoever has authority to make decisions has recently started requiring a variety of sliced vegetables to be available for purchase. Saving the customer the labor part of taking home a whole squash or onion or bell pepper and having to wash and slice it before using in the recipe for supper.  Just another way we continue to build a reputation for excellent customer service. Amazing how many people are buying little black styro. trays with a combination of squash and onions, or colorful array of sliced pepper rings, or tasty mix of mushrooms, peppers and onions for steak or pizza toppings. Amazing how many people are willing to pay for someone else to do the slicing.

So I was slicing peppers into rings. They look so pretty, artfully arrayed on the black tray covered with shrink wrap. And cost nearly double what the price would be if you took it home and sliced it yourself. But then you would have to buy all four colors, and have 'way more peppers than you could use in your recipe. So the extra would sit in the drawer in the bottom of the fridge and grow pennicillin cultures.

I was thinking about the game you see when you go to the carnival. Where the innocent are lured in to trying to guess which walnut shell, or over-turned cup is the one the pea or coin is hidden under. The rubes are persuaded to bet their funds on being smarter or more able to keep up with, visually follow which vessel the little item is secreted under. I would slice the pepper's stem end off, and clean out the seeds, then turn them sliced end down, so I would have a row of upside-down vegetables lined up on the cutting board, ready for me to slice each different color into thin rings to stack up on the little rectangular trays. Orange, yellow, red, green.  Wondering what I should put under the pepper to use as the' pea' to trick the un-suspecting carnival goers...

Then I had to peel and quarter thirty onions. Don't let anyone convince you the 'sweet' variety are not as heart-wrenching as the old fashioned yellow or white one. I wept. I cried. I grieved. I made sad faces, and walked away a dozen times but had to keep coming back to get it done. They are huge onions, as big as the locally famous Vidalia Sweet onions grown in west GA, nearly the size of the head of a newborn. Easily matching a softball in diameter. They made me so unhappy. Over and over. But I got it done, and was able to regain my cheerful disposition.


it was a reaaallly ....

Friday, April 24, 2015
....productive day, even though I did not actually do anything that shows, for demonstrating accomplishment. I swept most of my house this morning, as the plants that over-wintered indoors just recently relocated. It was raining recently, and I put most of the green things out to get a good drink, thinking it is warm enough to not have to bring them back in. There was a lot of stuff left when they moved back outside, in addition to miscellaneous deceased bugs and multiple dust bunnies surreptitiously lurking.

Then I went to Kmart garden shop and bought plants. Several different kinds of tomatoes, to put out in the garden spot. When I started digging, I was thinking of the year my parents brought me a load of cow droppings for my birthday. A hilarious gift, for sure, to enrich my little plot, adding manure to make good dirt. When the house was built, all the top soil was scraped away, leaving nothing but rock-hard clay. The little spot in the back yard I have tiller-ed, enriched, mulched, fertilized, planted, nurtured for years has the nicest black dirt. And a huge community of earth worms. You cannot dig, turn over a spade full of dirt, without unearthing a wiggler or two. I've always thought that earthworms are the sign of good healthy dirt. They won't live someplace that isn't and they, by doing what they do, make it richer and more organic.

When I go in the garden shop, and plan to buy the ones in the little multi-plant pack, I always peer around and under the leaves to search out the ones with an extra plant or two. Whether it is vegetables or blooming annuals, I am always hopeful for a little lagniappe. An extra plant or two that the growers did not pinch when they put several seeds in each cell. I found several of these in the tomatoes, so in addition to digging holes to put ten in the garden, I have six more that I put in pots to grow a bit more before they permanently relocate.

Also bought some portulaca to go in the strawberry pot, put a bright pink geranium in a big pot by the front door where it will bloom and make me smile all summer. Planted two little six-packs of marigolds in the edge of the bed where the daisies are laughing out loud.  I must have pulled up hundreds of weeds out of the beds and in the lawn, where they are: growing like weeds. Thanks to all the recent spring rains, that we will be even more appreciative of come mid-summer when things start to look parched.

cookin' at work: yummy fresh green beans...

Thursday, April 23, 2015
... will blow your socks off (and not just due to the fact that we all know beans come equipped with a certain flatulence producing ingredient). I made the dish five times and had great reviews. Some customers who would stand around, forking food into their faces, humming to themselves, thinking: 'yum', then saying 'this is so good.' Hang around, looking optimistic, dally long enough for the next passers-by to hear them, providing a little testimonial to the goodness of the recipe. They would comment that I was a good cook, I'd say 'thanks'. Knowing that is not necessarily true: you just follow the instructions that have been tested, proof-read, evaluated, proven to be practically foolproof. Not that I am suggesting anyone might be a fool, but that the written directions are so clear and simple it would be pretty difficult to mess up.

The bean recipe starts with four slices of bacon, diced. I cut them really small, about 1/4 inch, though the instructions were for about an inch. Heat the skillet and put the bacon in, stirring until it is browned and crispy. Take the bacon out and put the beans in. Stir about five minutes, until they begin to get done, then add a thinly sliced yellow onion, and a box of sliced mushrooms. I cut the mush. into smaller pieces, so the servings on a small sample plate would be more manageable. When the onions and mushrooms are tender, stir in a couple Tbs. of cider vinegar, a Tbs. of sugar, salt and pepper to taste. When sugar is dissolved, add the bacon bits back in. This is so good, you will eat too much, then realize the beans, onions and mushrooms are sooo tasty because they were cooked in bacon grease. You knew that when you were doing it, but once you start eating, you will loose your self control.

All the nutritional value of the fresh vegetables just went right out the window due to the overwhelmingly heart-detrimental effect of a third of a cup of bacon fat. So this is something you should make when there will be other people around to prevent you from eating the whole thing by yourself: like a family gathering or potluck dinner. Sorry - between the tasty bacon and the yummy sweet and sour effect of the vinegar and sugar, you are pretty much guaranteed to regret it tomorrow.

Theory of Life...

Wednesday, April 22, 2015
...would be things I do that amount to giving away bits of my life in small increments.  Reminiscent of my profound yet mundane discovery of how we all make decisions related to how we will spend. Time vs. $$$$. I was astounded when I came to the realization that the most valuable commodity we all have is Time. The thing everyone on the planet has in a limited supply, but we often seem to be willing to squander, be frivolous in how we spend, while we will make  every effort to be so frugal with cash.

There is so much in print about how important it is to save, save, save and put aside a nest egg. To have sufficient resources to enjoy retirement when we are not longer in the work force, getting up and trudging off to employment every day. We are so saturated with information about the necessity of making more, to save more, to set aside more, to have more when we no longer have a weekly income: for the Golden Years. Then find that health has gone downhill, or we need to buy a new roof for the house, or family circumstances change.

But we often fail to consider that every day only has so many hours and minutes, and we should be making as many decisions about how we spend the Time as how we spend/save the $$$. Wisely or not. Pondering, and thinking about the ways in which we choose to deliberately devote our free time, to things that will have meaning, either for ourselves or others.

I recently read a publication from the workplace about a store manager who received a service award. At the annual meeting of stockholders, so the recognition was a pretty big deal: company wide. I do not know the details, but he is a man who has obviously devoted a huge chunk of time to community projects. In addition to the fifty hours a week the company expects him to put in as a store manager. Which means he has taken that same amount of time away from what he could have otherwise spent with his family, home-care projects or other endeavors. Pretty impressive. I don't know him well, or have any insight into his motivations. But chose to believe that a portion of the reason he does what he does in service work has to do with the way he was raised, the family he grew up in. Parents and grandparents who modeled the attitude of giving. People who instilled the belief that those who are blessed with much, have an obligation to do what they can to provide for the less fortunate.

My list: the one I started making a week ago, of things that I have participated in over the years. Different organizations that have benefitted from my willingness to devote my time to assist, provide support, labor hours in exchange for: nothing. Maybe some personal gratification. In the form of smiling faces of people who have received assistance. Or happy little girls who learned to do a craft they did not think they could accomplish. Or flowers planted to brighten the secret garden of a community center. I have been pondering my own personal service, and have been surprised to see, as I have added things to my list over several days,  the number of places I have donated my skills, resources, talents. Basically - the ways in which I have chosen to live my life by giving my time to organizations I believe in, people and places I find worthy of my Time.

making a donation...

Tuesday, April 21, 2015
...to the ARC. Which requires me to really double up on iron supplements. I often go to the donor center to try to give a pint., only to be rejected. Which is troubling, as it is difficult to understand why when one is making a volunteer effort, the offering is not accepted. I do understand the risk of being considered to have insufficient hemoglobin to be considered as a prospect, but again: I am volunteering myself to get poked and the donor center workers turn away a perfectly good, clean, needed pint of blood. I'd be forever low, lacking in red blood cells if I did not take the supplements, due to not being a red meat eater. And think they would likely turn me away if I told them what happens before they take my blood. Sort of like 'carb-loading', but not?

In anticipation of making a donation I have been consuming more iron than usual. Routinely, I will only take a supplement every other day, in addition to the usual multi-vitamin. But as preparation for the offering, I have been taking supplements every time I think about it: often more than once a day. So I had vast quantities of red blood cells today, and was welcomed by the staff to come in, have a seat, and let us poke you in the arm with a huge needle. Surprisingly, it was not nearly as miserable as usual. I told the phlebotomist when she finished: that was the easiest experience I have ever had with giving blood.

I usually make a beeline for Wendy's to treat myself to a burger when I am a pint short, but today I came home and had a glass of wine. They told me to increase my liquids for the next twenty four hours: I was just doing as instructed!

cookin' at work: steak and rice...

Monday, April 20, 2015
... the recipe for the next couple of days. I'm not planning to put a piece of cow in my mouth, but the response from the tasters has been very positive. Everyone who tried it said they really liked the steak. I cooked it in the skillet, though the recipe calls for putting it on a grill. Debated about putting it in the oven, but decided to 'just do it', and see what would happen. Pretty good results, according to the passers-by who gave it a try.

The steaks started with a New York strip. How could you go wrong with that for a beginning? It's going to be tender no matter what you do to it. The recipe has you mix up some marinade: a combination of sundried tomato salad dressing with a packet of brown gravy mix. Shake it up in a gallon zipper bag to mix, then add steaks, making sure they are well covered. Refrigerate. Then you put it on the grill for about four or five minutes in each side. So I did that in the skillet. They thought I was so smart! When all I really did was follow the recipe to the best of my ability, without an actual grill.

The really good stuff, as far as I am concerned, was the rice. So good, I could have eaten the whole bowl. It starts with butter, melted in the skillet, then add diced garlic. Stir in diced onions, bell pepper and celery. (You can buy a container of this in the produce dept., mixed, diced, RTU.)  Add a handful/half a box of sliced mushrooms. Stir in a package of rice (the recipe calls for the RTU stuff, like Uncle Bens' shelf stable variety, but I'd cook some to stir in.) Then add a half cup of Alfredo sauce and two Tbs. of grated parmesan. Stir while heating. When ready to serve, sprinkle on some finely diced basil.

Oh, my goodness. I'm thinking: if you added some shredded chicken from one you buy in the deli, you've got a complete meal. Yummy.

leaving work one night ...

...last week, after doing the food demo. I was gathering up the flowers I would need to take to TN, and about to walk to the register to pay for my goods. As I went to pick up my bucket of cut flowers, a couple of people walked up and said: do you work here? Of course, I said 'yes', and they asked if I could make a boutinierre. I was sort of anxious about saying yes, as I know there are generally consequences to face when anyone does any sort of work that is not 'paid', on the clock. I wanted to help them out, but worried about getting caught. Which is sort of strange, when the company puts so much emphasis on Doing The Right Thing.

But they told me a story about the teenager going to the prom, and the mom with her having surgery on her foot the following day, and this being the only, very last chance, for the girl to get what she needed to go on a Big Deal Date. So I said: let me look and see what sort of roses there are in the back storage/stock room area. And found what she needed, made her flower, and both were happy to have the dilemma resolved.

I told the young girl I was about thirty seconds from leaving the store, and she was very fortunate that they walked up when they came in. And that it was pretty obvious to me that the reason I was still there, when I should have been gone, out the door and on my way home: to be there and help people who were in need of a blessing. They did not get it for free, but they did get what they wanted when they wanted it. So I was happy to help, and think they were happy to have found me.

the return trip...

...took all day, as I made several stops before finally getting back home. I have a friend in Marietta I re-acquainted with a couple of years ago. We were in some art classes together in another lifetime at Valdosta State, when it was still College instead of University. She is a few years older, was a mom with kids that were probably teens when she was starting to watercolor. She was very talented.

Watercoloring is not the easiest of painting methods. It is not at all forgiving, and not something that you can just pick up a brush and jump in. Mistakes cannot be painted over, and once you put the color on your paper: it's there. No backing up, or changing your mind. But she had the patience to take the time required to do well, and she did some really beautiful paintings. She was living in north GA, some years ago, and recently moved back into the metro. I stopped by to visit, have lunch and catch up on family news.

Then I went across town to see my cousin, who lives in north Decatur. She thought I was coming to spend the night, but when I got finished with the flowering assignment in record time, I decided sleeping in my own bed would be beneficial. So after a variety of visits with a variety of people, including daughter in Decatur, I was headed home. It's never taken me all day to drive that distance, but I was in no  hurry, and had plenty of time to make some detours and visit with friends and family.

up early ....

Friday, April 17, 2015
...to travel to TN this  morning. I set my alarm for 5:00. You know how you want to be sure to not oversleep, so after you set the alarm, you wake up forty times in  the dark, peering at the clock, all night long, to check the time? That happened, so I was lying there, waiting for the alarm to go off. Then it did, and I thought: 'what's the hurry?' Remembered my plan to get through Atlanta before 7:00, so jumped into my clothes and loaded up to hit the road. On the way by 5:30.

I had two buckets to fresh flowers in the floor behind the front seats, desperately hoping they would not turn over to dump gallons of water in the carpet. Uneventful trip, including driving through, around the west side of metro in the usual traffic with a large portion of the four  million commuters whizzing in and out of lanes. Made a couple of stops before I got to TN, but arrived about 9:30, which is about what I had expected., allowing for several of those events/occasions where traffic slows to a crawl, then suddenly returns to full speed with no information or explanation for why we were briefly traveling at 8 m.p.h.

I had the 'contract' to make corsages for Girl Scouts. So had done some chasing around on Thursday to get enough flowers to have what I thought would be adequate numbers to complete the job. And now see that I over-bought, which is, of course much better than not enough. I cringe at the thought of running short, and chasing around in the dark trying to find grocery or discount stores open late at night that would have enough decent flowers available. So I guess it is a good thing that I have more than enough. And though I considered taking back what I can't use for a refund, I'm now thinking I will just share the joy. Multiply the blessings and let other folk have some sunshine in their lives for a few days with cheery lily blooms to brighten their lives.

cookin' at work: chicken with lime juice...

Thursday, April 16, 2015
...was pretty good, even though I am not a voracious carnivore. It was a really simple, easy recipe, that would go together in the time it takes everyone to get in the door, get book bags unloaded and homework started: the sort of recipe a busy mom needs to have available, ready to pull dinner out of a hat/fridge.

Put a bit of seasoning on the chicken breasts (which I cut in half the long way, after the first attempt when they took so long to get done, as judged by the meat thermom) and saute in a little oil and butter together. Whisk in the juice of a couple of limes (and a bit of water to make a little more liquid/sauce), slice and serve. It would be good over rice, or with potatoes. Add a veg. or salad and there's a quick meal to 'bring your family back to the table', as we say in the food demo. kiosk before we start serving bites to customers for taste-testing.

I'm not apologizing, or sorry to have to admit: I am forever trying to smuggle in vegetables. So if I were to make it at home, I would saute some onions and celery, maybe even some diced up bell pepper, before I put in the chicken. My kids are horrified by my continual efforts to sneak nutrition into a meal. But between  my aversion to meat, and desire for healthy/more vegetables, I don't see any reason to not add something that would enhance the taste experience as well as add some good veg. and fiber to the meal.

The actual title on the recipe card probably had something to do with 'mexican' or 'festive', but if you go to the Aprons site and type in the ingredients 'chicken and lime juice', I am sure you will find the one I made all day yesterday. And will be making and giving away again today. Back during the era of sewing, when kids would happily wear home manufactured clothing, I used to say I would never buy a pattern that did not have EZ in big print on the front. I expect there are many who feel the same about a recipe. This one did not actually have that printed on the card, but I have a Sharpie and will gladly write it on there for you. Plus a side dish that goes together while the chicken is cooking.

gettin' organized...

... for the drive to TN in the morning. Made some calls yesterday, hoping to find enough of the specific flowers I will need to take along, without having to make a run to the wholesale florist in Opelika, AL today. But I could not find the carnations and roses in the colors required at the various retail outlets I would usually shop. So I have been Al-o-bama and back this morning. Where I purchased fifty bucks of fresh flowers to take when I will drive to TN tomorrow.

In addition to a crack-o-dawn appointment at the rehab center to get more exercises I am instructed to do to get my bum knee back in shape. When I went in the door,and was the only customer/patient there at that ungodly hour, I said:' I know it did it to myself, as I agreed to be here, but this is craaazy. I cannot even begin to fathom why I would have agreed to a 7:30 a.m. appointment. Really? What was I thinking?' They just laughed, asked my name and said to have a seat. I was out of there in under thirty minutes.

And onto the route I had planned out to pick up the bunches of flowers two different stores were holding for me to come and get today. Then on to Al-o-bama with a banjo on my knee. I was hoping for gas to be cheaper there than in GA, but surprised to find it the same price. So I will just swing by Wallyworld to get three cents off a gallon on the way to work today.

I'm going to TN to make corsages for the Girl Scouts Awards event on Sunday. About ninety of them. So will spend Friday and Saturday plucking, wire-ing, taping, bow-ing, fluffing, fern-ing and bagging carnations and sweetheart roses into corsages for the girls to have completed requirements. They have set goals for themselves  in community service projects and will be recognized for their work at several events throughout the eastern third of Tennessee in the next few weeks. They will be given an opportunity to talk about their goals, successes and value of what they have learned as they have benefitted their communities with their efforts. Pretty neat, huh?

pounding rain this morning...

Wednesday, April 15, 2015
...several feet above my head. Thankful for a roof that keeps me dry. And glad to be in a snug warm bed, knowing I did not have anything 'pressing' in my life that needed instant, urgent attention. So I could just lay there and ponder the universe.

It was raining just that hard last night when I left work at 8:00 to cross a parking lot that was full of running water and get to my car. I picked up one of the bright yellow slickers and covered myself to trudge through the streams of rain water and get to my car. The carryout guys had a grocery cart with half a dozen waterproof plastic slickers sitting out on the sidewalk in front of the store, to wear when they had to help customers load their goods. I decided I could just borrow one, and return it this morning when I go back to work. Never thinking I would need it just as much today as yesterday.

Lying in bed, listening to a pounding storm on the roof, hearing thunder rolling across the landscape: thinking about California and how desperately dry it is out there. How people that depend on a benevolent nature for their livelihoods are struggling with things they cannot control. How the lack of snow in the mountains, and resulting lack of melt to provide water for their crops in the summer will affect all of us with both cost and availability of food in the coming months. Plus likely find some of those families leaving agriculture  - that creates a long term problem for the rest of us who are still going to be expecting to buy the goods the farming families are no longer growing.

I remember a drought in the mid-west a couple of years ago, affecting farm crops, mostly grain. And hearing on the news of livestock growers having to sell animals off at a loss as they could not buy feed. Not just high prices they would/could not pay: it just was not there, not available at any price. So the cost of the meat we eat skyrocketed. Beef, poultry, everything we expect to find in the meat coolers of the grocery stores.

So, even though I cannot help the agriculture situation in southern California,with farming communities desperately needing water. I am thankful for the spring rains that will fill the reservoirs in the north of the state. And farm ponds all over, to provide the water for crops to grow. As well as providing sustenance for the farm families to continue to support themselves, maintain their lifestyle and small rural communities all over the south.

cookin' at work: shrimp-y things....

...that I do not eat, so cannot provide a taste evaluation of the end product. But feel like it is quite good. Due to the comments I received as I produced and served it for two days. Plus the fact that by the time a recipe gets to the point of being printed on the cards for customers/tasters to pick up and take home, it's pretty much fool proof. There are a couple of adjustments I would make if I were to cook it for private consumption, which I would not do, as I do not eat seafood.

When I was making it at work, I left out the jalapeno pepper. And tried to remember to tell all the tasters that I never put hot stuff in recipes. We serve so many people who would not even try it if they read the ingredients, or were told it has spicy included, I always omit: Tabasco, hot peppers, fire-y sauce. And think it is ok to alter slightly as long as customers are aware of what they are eating, or what is missing, and know they can adjust the heat of the recipe to their preference.

The vegetables served with the shrimp would be so yummy, I could just eat the whole pan full, except for the fact that everything in the pan will taste like shrimp. No way to just have the veg. without the flavor being affected by seafood. But the peppers would be so good over a pile of rice.

Pepper Shrimp Saute

1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
1 small jalapeno, chopped
1/2 cup roasted red bell pepper, chopped (available in jars, on shelf near vegetables)
3 Tb. fresh cilantro, chopped (place leaves in measuring cup, use scissors to cut up)
2 pouches boil-in-bag rice
2 Tbs. canola oil
1/3 cup chipotle cooking sauce (similar to taco sauce, RTU)
1 cup chicken stock or broth
12 oz. large peeled, deveined shrimp, tails removed
1/3 cup sliced, stuffed green olives

Chop onion, peppers, cilantro. Prepare rice. Preheat large saute pan on medium-high. Pour in oil, add onions and yellow pepper, jalapeno (if used), cook, stir 5-6 minutes until tender. Reduce heat, to medium-low, add roasted peppers, cooking sauce, chicken stock. Stir and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in shrimp, simmer 3-5 min, till shrimp is done, and sauce is reduced about 1/3. Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and olives, serve over rice.

I would reduce the amount of liquid, adding less chicken stock, as the sauce is very soupy, water-y consistency, and would be better if it would coat rice and stick to the rice instead of being runny. And as you can see - all this would be really good and tasty, served over maybe brown instead of white, if you were not a person who eats the bottom-feeders.

There was a citrus salad that is on the same recipe card - simple and tasty - I did eat some of that. Really easy to put together and good if you are a person who likes grapefruit.

rehab. appt....

Tuesday, April 14, 2015
...this morning, bright and early. I knew I would be up and stirring around, so did not have any problem with getting into the rehab center for an 8 a.m. meeting with a therapist. But failed to allow for the fact that I could not actually leave home, because getting out of my driveway onto the street is 'way much challenging at 7:30. Two schools with lots of carpools, teaching staff and busses heading to and fro. And about a gazillion vehicles heading into town from huge subdivision that empties out on the corner adjacent to our lot. So really difficult to catch a break in the traffic. Plus we are at the crest of a hill, and hard to see what's coming from three different directions at once!

But I got there in plenty of time, due to being willing to just jump in when there was the slightest gap in traffic. Far more daresome than bumper cars. But I survived the leap. I'm not much accustomed to the influx of vehicles that time of day, as I am usually either already at work, when I have to go in at 6:00, or sitting here typing away, with plenty of time to let the street chaos clear before I head out.

The therapist was young, possibly in training, but seemed to be very knowledgeable. Asked lots of questions, and was very thorough. We (meaning her directing, and me attempting) did some stretching and strengthening movements. She gave me printed illustrations and instructions, and made more appointments for me to come back in the next few weeks. I will try to be diligent, and hope the things I attempt are: done correctly, helpful and will help me regain muscle strength and mobility. Hopeful.

book review: "The Silent Sister"...

Sunday, April 12, 2015
... by Diane Chamberlain. She is a fiction writer and has a number of items published. I picked this one up at the library on Thursday, just randomly walking through the stacks looking for something interesting to read. I had it done in three days. Finished yesterday afternoon, when I came in from work and laid down to rest my gimpy knee. It would have been done in 24 hours if I had not been otherwise committed. But the obligation of a day of volunteering at the plant sale, and necessity of being at work at 6 a.m. on Saturday caused me to take much longer to get to the end.

It starts off with a young woman, Riley, returning to the home of her parents after her dads' death. Riley is employed as a school counselor and plans to take the summer off to sort through her parents belongings. She is the executor, and plans to clean out the family home, put property on the market and settle the estate. As she attempts to re-establish a relationship with a brother who is struggling with PTSD, and encounters family friends, she discovers her entire life has been built on one false assumption after another. Fascinating read. The kind of book that makes you think: this is going to resurface one day as a movie plot. Copyright 2014.

I had not read anything by this author previously, but will look for more of her work in the library. Honestly, if I had had the time to devote to reading the story, it was so intriguing, I think I really would have been able to return it to the library the next day. It will be interesting to see if her other books read as well as this one. Highly recommended.

volunteering...

Friday, April 10, 2015
... today at the Botanical Gardens annual spring plant sale. I was there yesterday for several hours doing drudge work. The truck driving guy who delivered the dozens of flats of plants dropped them off in the wrong place, so we had to trundle them down the hill into the right area. With those little red wagons you see in use at outdoor garden shops, that will only hold two or three good sized pots, or three flats of bedding plants. It's a very steep hill, so extra steps to get up and down. Kinda like that tedious campfire song, that I am thinking was about a bear hunt? You know: how you can't get over it, and can't get around it, so you have to go through it? This steep incline was so troublesome (especially for the bad knee) I made lots of extra steps to get around the part my legs did not want to participate in.

A couple of hours of draggin' wagon up the hill, and loaded with plants back down into the lawn area. Then going back to the Garden in the late afternoon for the 'members only' party. With wine and cheese cubes, little finger-food-like substances (pre-fab from Sams's Club)  crackers and dip. I was writing out tickets for people to go through the check out and pay for their goods, for a couple of hours.

I tried my best to resist, not buy anything... sadly: two $5 plants. I was so certain I had the fortitude to not make any purchases, I did not even take cash. So had to set them aside with the understanding I would bring funds today to pay. At least it was not as costly as the volunteering I did up at Callaway Gardens a couple of weeks ago, when I bought three for $8 each, and one of those has already died.

And will go back today, should have already left the house, to do whatever is needed for the day. Hope it does not rain on the plant sale. I have some things I would like to get in the ground here, to get a good soaking rain, and will try to do that this afternoon, when the volunteering is over.

the knee doctor...

... could be in his forties, but they all pretty much look like teenagers to me. Old enough to be past the point of having to ride his bicycle to work, but young enough to still be of the age that thinks bike riding is great fun. You know how they all specialize in a particular body part: left earlobe, right foot/big toe. So you have to get in line and wait for the individual who has the training to deal with your particular problematic part.

I had a follow up appointment on Thursday morning, for him to see the pictures and decide/make a recommendation for options. He said he could see 'potholes' and scarring/abrasions. Which makes me sound like a good candidate for some repairs by the state DOT guys, most of whom stand around leaning on shovels, watching that one guy do all the work.

He did not feel like we should jump into anything without first making an effort at rehab that might help gain some flexibility/mobility. I'm all for that, being the person who has said frequently over the years: I can' t imagine being miserable enough to allow someone to cut you open to solve a problem. Mostly, as you might guess, because I have never had a problem of the seriousness that would require being sliced and diced.

I can't really describe the problem with my knee. It's not specifically painful, though there are times I do have plenty of that. And lately find that it wakes me and keeps me awake trying to get comfortable at night. It's stiff, and inflamed/swollen, lacking in flexibility. Especially when I compare it to the other knee, the one that seems to be working perfectly well for someone my age, though I'm sure there is arthritis in the healthy one, and other places too.

So I will make some trips to the rehab center starting next week to see if they might have some tricks that will improve mobility, flexibility and strength.

MRI....

Tuesday, April 7, 2015
.. was a bit freaky, but not so much that I had to climb myself out of the tube. I could not have done it if they had wanted to put me completely in there - and when the tech guy started scooting me in, I suddenly decided it was not a good idea. He stopped right before my head would have gone inside, so I could still see the lights in the ceiling, with assurance that was as far as I would go. It never occurred to me that they would want to put my whole self in the tube, so I had not made any effort to avert total panic and a thorough freak-out. If all the dr. needed was a picture of my knee, I assumed that  it would not be necessary to go into  a claustrophobic situation. But I did say 'thankyouJesus' when he came in and said I was done.

I also got completely caught up on my prayer life. A friend of a daughter who has some serious health issues. Unexpected problems when he thought he was going for a fun weekend in Chattanooga, and found himself in ICU instead: definitely not fun. So please put Logan on your prayer list. More testing to be done to confirm possible diagnosis, but they need words with wings.

And Turner family, who just today lost a man who was a husband, dad, grandpa. Who had remarkably survived a nasty motorcycle wreck a couple of years ago. A med-evac./airlift returned him to Columbus from the mid-west where he was traveling, and a long, slow recovery to regain health and mobility. While searching for a replacement Harley to jump on as soon as the dr. would allow. So I did some praying for comfort for those Turner people.

Then I started singing Amazing Grace to myself. All those late night bouts of singing and baby-rocking stood me in good stead, as I still remember all the verses. And sang it over and over to myself while the machine was bumping and thumping, banging and clanging, making anxiety-inducing sounds despite ear plugs. The tech guy said it would take about twenty minutes - though he made me take my watch off so I could not check the time. When he finally came back and told me it was over, I was through, I was so peaceful and calm, I might have been taking a thirty-second nap.

Easter...

Monday, April 6, 2015
...was good fun in Decatur. We went to an early church service (early is normal for us, but this one was at 8 instead of the usual 9, to allow more room at the other two services for those people who show up twice a year whether they need it or not.) with plans to come home and load up casseroles to get on the road. But right in the middle of the sermon, I thought to myself: 'I forgot to devil the eggs!' They were boiled, peeled, and in the fridge, I just didn't get them smooshed up and ready to travel. Which would be really sad, as my only assignments were to bring eggs and carrot cake.

So I had to dash home, and get the eggs prepared and packaged up before we could get on the road. I'd put my two casseroles in the oven before going to church, thinking I would hear an abbreviated sort of Cliff's Notes version of the Easter sermon and be home in a hour. That didn't happen, so the vegetables were a bit over done. But I got it all together, loaded into coolers and out the door. Did you realize that not only do coolers keep cold things cold, they will keep hot things hot (just like the thermos joke!)? So I had one with two gallons of iced tea, and one with casseroles.

There was a good crowd, and surprisingly, they just kept coming... the last of the lunch bunch was still there eating desserts and drinking beer when we left for home around 5:30.  Plenty of good things to eat: lots of ham, casseroles, vegetables in various salads, an assortment of breads and too many desserts to admit to tasting. Though small children can sometimes be peculiar about their food consumption, and often too excited to eat, as well as occasionally too tired, or fussy to sit still for something as mundane as a meal - I am sure no one was lacking for food.

At least a dozen kids (though they were in constant motion, so impossible to count: like chickens in the barnyard) who were very excited about the prospect of hunting eggs. With over four hundred eggs to be found, it was definitely chaotic for an hour or so. Half in the front yard, in grass, trees, and many in plain view for toddlers. And half in the back, in holes, sitting on rocks being obvious, lying in the mulch being blatant, and just generally strewn about for easy pickings for little ones. Who jostled around with older faster kids but certainly got their share of the goods. I suggested a couple of prize eggs, since there would be two separate areas involved, so bought two chocolate bunnies to give to those who found the lucky eggs. They were covered with foil, and a note inside said: Lucky You.

It was so good to visit with the seldom seen, enjoy a day outside with lots of happy kids and families.

apparently, I am the only one...

Saturday, April 4, 2015
...who thought it was amusing. I sent an email to daughters on Wednesday, and did not get much in the way of response. Which leads me to believe: they either did not 'get it', or it wasn't nearly as funny as I thought.  Is my sense of amusement that far off center? Well, maybe...

I told them we had just discovered bats living in the attic of our  house. I was not really anxious just yet, but thought if I could find someone who would make me a 'bat house', the animals would consider relocating. Which would result in avoiding the problem of having to find someone who would go up there and rid us of the infestation.  There are people around  who advertise and do 'pest removal', and for a price will get unwanted visitors out of your home. I actually have a friend who had uninvited guests and had to call, then pay a large sum of money to eliminate some mammals from her home. Scary, frustrating and anxiety inducing.

So I reported the creatures: hoping for some sympathy and possibly advice. Nothing. No one sending out the alarm. No one giving an 800-number for pest removal service. No suggestions for internet sources of bat boxes to mount in the yard, to lure the animals out of the house.  No word on what to feed them to get them to follow a little trail of breadcrumbs and depart.  No advice for solutions. No problem solving, or commiseration.  No encouraging words. Nothing.

I guess they know me well enough to study something of that sort very closely, discover that the date on the email was April 1.

what a gorgeous spring day it was...

Friday, April 3, 2015
...strolling through the daffodils in the hills of north Georgia. I'd been persuaded (with remarkably little effort) to purchase a season ticket/pass for Gibbs Gardens in the hills, a treat for the eyes when we've been in the past. It was beautiful, sunny, warm, pretty much perfect to get out and enjoy the spring weather, in spite of so much pollen floating in the air you could actually see clouds of it wafting in the breezes. Though the day started off overcast by mid-morning it had cleared into perfect weather.

We'd talked about going a couple of weeks ago, when we were amusing ourselves in Florida, but decided to postpone a bit, and go later instead. Now knowing we should have taken ourselves up to see the daffodil show in mid-March instead of early April. Though there were still lots of things blooming, the height of the bulb season has passed, and the early show is mostly over. There were still hundreds of the late season bloomers out in great numbers, along with dogwood trees, flowering quince in some unusual colors, late blooming forsythia, pretty white spirea and a few of the hellebores. Lots of ferns beginning to unfurl and green up in the woods and near streams.

We got tickets to ride the tram and definitely got our money's worth out of the looping rides up into the hills and around the huge beds of bulb plants. Acres and acres of carefully groomed, neatly landscaped, immaculately planted shrubs and trees. Reminding me of one of the 'best fun ever' days when we got hilarious on the golf carts in NC several years ago.

We rode on the tram today everywhere it would take us, and didn't get off at the end, deciding to go again - just to be sure we got our money's worth from the tickets.  If they had only been daresome enough to let us drive the trucks pulling the tram cars, we'd have had a ball. And they would probably still be frantically dashing around in the woods, searching in the dark, picking up the senior citizens that fell off the sides. Desperately collecting the elderly who went rolling off the hills, disappearing under the bushes like easter eggs, as we went careening up and down and around the hilly paths, zooming between the trees, swooping through the neatly planted landscaping.

Though we were mostly nearly completely well behaved, and did practically nothing to call attention to our mild-mannered selves, it was still a beautiful enjoyable day out in the woods near Ball Ground.
Except for that one woman who got off the tram and dropped a tissue, looked down at it, and walked off. I thought someone should go and tell her she dropped it, and return it to her, as it was so ill-mannered to drop trash and leave it there in the beautifully manicured setting, with not a twig out of place. Fortunately better judgment took over at the last minute and we did not get ejected from the premises for accosting strangers. But sadly that uncouth female did not learn a much needed lesson about tidiness and litter-bugging.

cookin' at work...(yummy corn casserole)

Thursday, April 2, 2015
... is what I expected when I went in on Wednesday. The recipes had changed and, just as I thought, there are several 'accompaniment' dishes for Easter Lunch. We were actually supposed to be sampling the RTU ham as well, though it did not happen on my shift.  It was all I could manage to get the other three recipes done and on the plates each time they were ready to serve.  So all those customers who came in on Wednesday, get home and remember what they forgot.  Then return between now and Saturday to discover that they should have been getting a taste of ham. Becoming thoroughly annoyed that I did not offer them the pork bite to have some pig to chew.

While I am remembering when I was a new bride, and just beginning to do the things new brides feel are expected of them. Which means putting a full meal on the table every day. How difficult it was to get all that stuff synchronized. Never realizing the most complicated thing about cooking is not the actual cooking - but all the thinking. What a struggle it is to have everything ready, sitting in serving dishes on the table, all things at appropriate temperature, when the consumers sit down to a meal. It's a real challenge to figure out the 'dance' of when to start what, and what the sequencing should be to accomplish something that looks so easy when your mom (with years of experience) is doing it...

But the other things they got to sample were so delish, I would like to believe I won't get reported for not doing my job properly. Though I am sure I will eventually hear about failure to comply with the instructions.  Getting a tongue lashing at  minimum and demerits on the next job evaluation most likely. Oh well...I'll not loose any sleep over that...

The recipe was for a corn casserole that had: Ready? Bacon and cheese in it. So - you are probably thinking "why bother to add the corn, right?  It's similar to the need for the sliced bread to transport the ingredients in the BLT from your plate to your mouth: just a carrier for all the good stuff the taste buds anticipate.

Two bags of frozen corn, flour and eggs to thicken, make it more spoonable/casserole like, a bit of sugar (I would not add), seasoning, RTU bacon, chives, a little butter and a lot of cheese, spoon into a greased 8x8 casserole, bake 35 min at 325. I'd pretty much completed my assignment for food to take to lunch on Sunday, but think the corn dish is so good, I will likely make and take. Sadly I gave it all away, all four times I cooked it, so never actually tasted, but with bacon and cheese how can you go wrong? Right !

The other things I was preparing, side dishes for the lunch were a strawberry dessert, with lemon curd and sour cream topped with vanilla oreo cookie crumbs. And stir friend zucchini with fresh sweet peppers and fresh mushrooms, topped with parmesan cheese. Pretty much every one who tried it said: Good. But that's the usual response when you ask passers-by if they would like to try the delicious new recipe, and they get a plate full of free food.

cookin at work...

Wednesday, April 1, 2015
...for the third day this week. I don't know what the recipe will be, as a new one starts on Wednesdays when the ad. comes out in the newspaper. My guess is that it will be some side dishes that would be considered 'traditional' accompaniments to take to family gatherings. Things people in the south have come to expect to see on the table when everyone walks in with an addition to the meal, and plunks down their contribution to the dinner.

Over the holidays at the end of last year, there were a couple of times when the food being sampled originated with recipes that are sort of old standbys for pot luck meals in the south. Usually with some additional items or change in spices to alter the flavor enough to hear people ask: 'what's different?'' Which then gives the cook an opportunity to talk about variations on old themes  And practice our salesmanship, which is, of course, the whole reason we are standing there cooking and giving food away for eight hours a day.

So I do not know what I will be preparing at work today, but do know what I will be making to take to the gathering on Sunday. When the store is thankfully closed for the day. My contributions to the meal in Decatur will be carrot cake (it isn't Easter without something for the Bunny, right?) and deviled eggs (of course!). Other than that I have no other instructions. I've bought carrots and eggs, so I better get hopping!