Memory Lane

38 Years Later

A week ago today, Tom and I celebrated our 38th anniversary with a quick trip to Chicago (yeah . . . we saw Hamilton again . . . ) and then had a bit of a "pub crawl" the next day on our way home.  (I say "a bit" because we only stopped at 2 places - Three Floyds in Munster, IN and Greenbush in Sawyer, MI . . . and one of us was the designated driver.)  (That was me.)

Anyway.  We had a great time.

Yesterday I pulled out my trusty salad bowl to use once again, and it got me thinking about our wedding -- because my salad bowl was a wedding gift.  I was thinking about how often I use this particular bowl, and what a perfect gift it was.  

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Tom's childhood neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Ratliff, gave us the bowl.  It wasn't intended to be a salad bowl, actually -- just a lovely wooden bowl for display.  But over the years, it's become my go-to bowl for pretty much any salad I throw together.  I use it all the time, as you may be able to tell by the worn edges around the rim.  (That wear-and-tear has made the bowl all the more beautiful, actually.  I'm happy it's not one of those "pretty things" I just packed away and never used.) It is a much loved item in my kitchen, and I actually think about it being a wedding gift every time I use it.  

There are a few other wedding gifts that we still have and use regularly.  A lot of things were much appreciated back in 1981, but they simply did not hold up or stand the test of time over the long haul.  Since it's a Thursday, I thought it might be fun to share 3 more wedding gifts we're still using . . . 38 years later.  

Here they are:  Three Wedding Gifts with Staying Power.

1 - The glass-and-chrome "relish tray"

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As a 22-year-old, I remember unwrapping this gift and just thinking . . . what the heck will we ever do with THIS????  It is super shiny and totally not my style (then or now).  And yet . . . this particular relish tray has made an appearance at every single party or get-together we have hosted since 1981!  Ugly?  Yes!  But oh so useful!  The elevated chrome "tray" rotates.  The little glass "dishes" lift out separately for easy filling and even easier washing.  The middle "dish" is perfect for holding dips or hummus or what-have-yous, and the outside "dishes" are great for veggies or fruits or cheeses or crackers.  I mean . . . this bright and shiny hideosity turned out to be a PERFECT party serving piece and I will be forever grateful to my mom's former co-worker Mr. Dolence for this gift.  (I think of him and chuckle whenever I pull this tray out for a party.  I'm sure he wouldn't remember me or this relish tray even if tortured.)

2 - The Pyrex mixing bowl set

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If you were lucky enough to receive a Pyrex mixing bowl set for your wedding, you quickly realized . . . you were pretty much set for life when it came to mixing bowls.  Four sizes.  Super versatile.  An ultimate git-r-dun kind of kitchen tool.  Until I got my KitchenAid Stand Mixer about 10 years ago, every single batch of cookies, every cake, every meatloaf I ever made . . . was mixed in that big bowl there.  (Thanks Jeri Cay Boulden, Tri-Delt sister!  I'll bet you had no idea you'd live on in my memory forever because of these bowls.)  The smallest sized bowl - sadly - cracked only last year.  I miss it still.

3 - The remaining 2 items from the 6-piece kitchen utility set (with special veggie motif handles)

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Yep.  The potato masher and a very sad (but much used) strainer are all that remain of this set -- which at one time included a little hanging rack (also with veggie motif) and matching spatula, ladle, fork, and mixing spoon.  I don't actually remember when the other utility tools met their ends (except for the spatula) (the plastic handle made contact with a hot burner) (it wasn't pretty), but these guys still have a place in my utility drawer --even making it through multiple Kon-Marie's of my kitchen.  I don't actually recall who gave us this particular gift, but I'm betting they'd be surprised that it's lasted this long.  (By the way, that veggie motif?  Sticker!)

38 years later.  
Still going strong!

There are a few other long-lasting wedding gifts around -- a few random steak knives, a sterling silver tray, the "happy mushroom" motif potholders (I'd share a photo, but they're in the cabin kitchen up north), a wedding clock that doesn't work any more (but is still quite pretty), a coffee table book about Idaho (there was a connection), and a Corning Ware cutting board (we remember the giver with much fondness).

How about you?  Do you have any gifts - wedding or otherwise - that have really stood the test of time?

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Last reminder -- please let me know by today at 5pm Eastern time if you're interested in this month's stash giveaway.

 


A Brief Trip Down Memory Lane

When I was around 10, there were three books that I especially loved.  Although I never owned them for myself (owning books was such an extravagance back then), I checked them out again and again from my library, and read each multiple times:

1 - A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

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2 - From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

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3 - The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

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I adored these books!  (Just seeing those familiar book jackets again gives me a warm, happy feeling deep in my soul.) 

I've been thinking about my childhood favorites again, now that the new Wrinkle in Time movie is due for release in a couple of weeks (click here for the trailer).  The movie looks pretty cool -- and I know the effects will be more than anything I could have imagined when I was reading the book as a 10-year-old.  But, still.  I'm not quite sure I want to see it.

What do you think?  
And what were your favorite childhood books?

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To read more Three on Thursday posts, head on over to Carole's!

 


Party Like It's . . . 1979!!!

We usually do . . . something . . . to celebrate New Year's Eve.  Sometimes parties.  Sometimes just staying home.  Usually going out for dinner.  (That's our recent MO:  a special dinner with friends at Food Dance - one of our favorite Kalamazoo restaurants.)  Whatever we do . . . we always watch the ball drop and count down to the new year together.  

Nice . . . in that kind of quiet and predictable way.

But.  It wasn't always like that!

Let's just send the clock back to . . . 1979 . . . shall we?  Back when this guy (looking a bit Luke Skywalker-ish) and this girl (with her Farrah-'do and oh-my-god-painter's pants) were A Thing.

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Yep.  Tom and I were reunited for Christmas break (he was a senior at Boise State University; I was a junior at the University of Wyoming) -- and we were headed off to San Francisco for the New Year.

Because . . .  why not?  

A friend of ours - Steve - was headed to San Franciso for a medical school interview.  And he needed driving help.  (Isn't this how many adventures happen???)  Tom and I and another friend - Dave - were only too happy to oblige.  It became our most memorable New Year's Eve ever.  

We drove through the night, made a stop in Reno (where the boys all had fun gambling and I got kicked out of every casino we visited -- because they were all 21 - but I was not), and ended up in San Francisco.

While Steve interviewed, Tom and Dave and I took in the city. 

We visited Golden Gate Park (in the fog).

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We climbed Coit Tower and enjoyed its exquisite views.

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And this land-locked Illinois-to-Wyoming girl saw the ocean for the first time in her life.  

This is Seal Rock -- (where we actually did see seals).

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And we spent some time on Baker Beach.*  (The waves kind of freaked me out -- because it was cold and I didn't want my shoes to get wet.)

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And then - best of all - we celebrated New Year's Eve with the crowds (throngs) on the streets of San Francisco.  

It was SO AWESOME -- and so adventurous -- to welcome 1980 this way.

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I'll never forget . . . me and the boys . . . on the streets of San Francisco.  No other New Year's Eve party or gathering will really compare.

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*How do I remember - after 37 years - exactly where we were in San Francisco on that trip?  Why . . . because I made sweet little notes on the back of each trip photo.

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This post is part of Think-Write-Thursday.  Be sure to read other New Year's Eve stories here, and sign up for the weekly prompts here.

 


Cheers

When I was a little girl, my mom took a ceramics class.  I was thrilled when she made this for me:

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A snowman mug . . . with a candy cane handle.

Oh, man.  I remember that milk tasted so much BETTER out of this mug!  (And hot chocolate with marshmallows?  Oh, yeah.  The BEST.)

Of course, my mom made one for my sister, too.  And, being a wise, thinking-ahead kind of mother, she painted our initials in the candy cane handle, so we could make sure which mug belonged to which sister.

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This year, I dug my mug out of the back of my cupboard.  I stuck a bunch of candy canes in it -- and I put it on my desk.  Right there - where I can see it every day.  It reminds me of the excitement and magic I felt as a child at Christmastime.

We're in the countdown week now; the Big Day is almost here.  I hope you all have a chance to slow down, take a deep breath, and remember the special-ness of the season.  Cheers!


Jiving Us That We Were VooDoo

"I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.  I felt very puny as a human.  I thought, fuck that - I want to be superhuman."                                                                                                                         ----- David Bowie

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Like many of you, I was shocked and sad yesterday . . . when I turned on my computer and learned that David Bowie had died.  He was such a vibrant part of the music and culture of my growing-up years, and I feel so very grateful to have "come of age" in the time of David Bowie.  (While my parents didn't "get" the Beatles . . . they REALLY didn't "get" David Bowie!

This week, Carole has us talking about our Ten Favorite David Bowie Songs.  I imagine the lists will be quite similar -- with a few surprises here and there.  

 

Mine . . . 

1 - Space Oddity - Ground control to Major Tom!  When your husband's name is Tom . . . and he's a bit of a head-in-the-clouds scientist . . . Well.  You just gotta love this one.

2 - Changes - This song was my introduction to David Bowie -- back in 7th grade.  I loved it then; I love it now.

3 - Ziggy Stardust - In 8th grade I knew all the words to this one -- which I sang at the top of my lungs with my swim team pals.  (And you know which lyrics we sang the loudest, don't you?)

4 - Suffragette City - Another big favorite among my swim team pals!  Wham, bam, thank you ma'am!

5 - Young Americans - David Bowie's Young Americans album defined my junior year in high school.  I can remember driving "the strip" on Friday nights with my friends, singing this song.  Loudly.  And with David Bowie-worthy theatrics.

6 - Fame - Oh, yes.  (See Young Americans, above.)

7 - Golden Years - This song came out slightly later in my junior year of high school.  I remember we loved the distinctive beat.  (David Bowie was very intertwined with my high school years.)

 

8 - Under Pressure -  Okay.  So, technically, this is a Queen song (and, truth be told, I've always thought of it as a Queen song), but I'm including it anyway.  I always loved this one - and it has the double-bonus of reminding me of Brian's high school hockey games -- because it was a staple of the hockey arena soundtrack during tense moments.

9 - Modern Love - Okay.  So I kind of loved the 80s.  This one reminds me of Tom's grad school years and early M-TV.

10 - Let's Dance - Put on your red shoes and dance the blues!  Oh, yeah baby.  

 

Now Ziggy played guitar. . . 

How about YOU?  What are your favorite David Bowie songs?

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A Bit of Pomp and a Whole Lot of Circumstance

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When it comes to graduations, I've been through a few.  You could say . . . I have a lot of commencement-experience.

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This picture-of-some-pictures (because scanner not feeling cooperative today) . . . shows a couple of early graduations:  Tom's college graduation, undergraduate from Boise State University . . . and mine, undergraduate #2, from University of Texas at Austin.  (Hook 'em!

I don't remember much about either of those ceremonies.  Except that they were long.  (Really long.)

I don't remember any of the speeches we heard that day, either.  (I do, however, remember that at Erin's graduation - four years ago - there was talk about some sort of acorn, or maybe it was a walnut, taking root and growing into a tree.  And I also remember that at Brian's graduation - last year - the speech started strong, but went on and on and on for far too long.  There was one "theme word" that the speaker used over and over and over.  I can't remember it anymore -- I have purged it from my mind.)

This week, Carole asks us what you would say if giving a commencement address.  Me?  Well, first, I'd keep it super brief.  Then, I'd say . . . 

  1. Congratulations on this most wonderful of accomplishments.
  2. As you move out into the world, you can apply the lessons you learned in college nearly everywhere you go:  read the syllabus, pay attention to deadlines, figure out how to prioritize, and show up.
  3. (Drinking games and college songs will also serve you well in the non-academic world.)
  4. "Graduation" is not the end of anything; it is the "commencement" of the next phase of your life.  The next phases won't be as neatly mapped out as your course requirements for graduation were, though, so you'll just have to wing it.
  5. Speaking of wings . . . be sure to spread them!
  6. Try new things.
  7. Make mistakes.
  8. Learn from those mistakes.
  9. Live big!
  10. And don't forget to thank the people who got you this far.

How about YOU?  What would you say if you were giving a commencement address?

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As I was looking through old photos of graduations yesterday, I spied this little box that I keep up in my bedroom.  (That's my high school graduation tassle there on top.  I keep it in the little box, along with other little mementoes of earlier times.)

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When I graduated from high school, the local furniture store (Grier Furniture in downtown Cheyenne, Wyoming) gave each girl graduate a mini cedar chest just like mine.  I think that used to be a Thing.  Anyone else get one of these from their local furniture store?

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Christmases Long Long Ago: Dear Santa

Not long ago, as I was going through some files, I found this . . . 

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Erin's letter to Santa dated December 2, 1995!  Erin was in first grade that Christmas -- missing her front teeth and everything.

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Lucky Girlie!  Santa delivered -- and Erin found Kirsten under the tree on Christmas morning. 
(And, really . . . how could he resist, since she "bin good" and all???)


Blog Anniversary Quiz Bowl #2

First . . . (drum roll, please!) . . . CONGRATULATIONS to last week's randomly-selected Quiz Bowl Winner . . . BONNY!!!  An exciting prize package will be headed your way soon, Bonny!

And now . . . on to Quiz Bowl #2!

During May, I'm celebrating my fifth anniversary of blogging!  Each Friday, I will provide a Blog Quiz. Answer the questions for a chance to win a prize!  (A random winner will be chosen every week -- PLUS a Grand Prize Winner at the end of the month.)  All answers have been provided, at some point, here on the blog.

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(One of the most fun aspects of celebrating my blog-anniversary is looking through photos from 5 years ago!  Here I am . . . taking a game of skee-ball very, very seriously!  It was May 2009 -- and Tom and I were at Cedar Point Amusement Park in Ohio with Brian and our foreign exchange student, Dominik.  Bonus points if you can tell me where Dominik was from . . . and why I might be pretty good at skee-ball.)

Here are the questions for Week 2:

  1. Where was I born?  (City and state)
  2. How long have Tom and I been married?
  3. Who was my home ec teacher, and what was her motto?
  4. Name the bloggers I have met in real life.  (Hint:  There are 4.)

Just leave your answers in the comments section.  (All correct answers will be eligible for the prize drawing.  If you answer the bonus questions, your name will be entered in the week's drawing twice!)

Happy Friday!

 


Throwback Thursday: Wheels Turnin' Round and Round

When I first started blogging . . . back in May 2009 . . .

Erin had just finished her sophomore year in college.  She had spent time studying in London, she thought she might go to law school, and was just beginning a summer internship in a law office.  She was still studying voice and piano, and hadn't yet met Keith.  College graduation still seemed a long way off.

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Erin . . . then

Brian was just finishing his junior year in high school.  He was sad because most of his friends were graduating and he was feeling left behind.  He was busy with hockey and a job at Little Caesars Pizza and his then-girlfriend.  The college visiting and application process was just beginning.  And, really, he'd rather not have to think about it all.

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Brian . . . then

Who could've known then . . . where they'd end up five years later!  Erin . . . with a Masters degree and a full-time editorial position in Pittsburgh.  Brian . . . finished with college (hurray!) and about to start a full-time lab internship with MSU.  (AND the rock star thing.  It could happen!)

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Erin and Brian . . . now

Wheels turnin' round and round!

Just for fun. . . Today's soundtrack is brought to you by Miss Erin, herself!  (Back at her final piano recital in 2007.  Her piano instructor mixed traditional piano with "fun" and chose to highlight his graduating seniors in a big way!)

 


Life Lessons from the Master

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As most of you know, I have a really wonderful relationship with my Mom.  She's my Mom, sure . . . but we're also really great friends.  And, really, we always have been.

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It's been fun to think about today's topic -- 10 Things My Mom Taught Me -- because, when it comes right down to it, my Mom pretty much taught me everything I know today.  Seriously.  When I reflect on who I am now - as a functional grown up - it really all boils down to things my Mom taught me!  She is, truly, the Master Mom.

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10 Things My Mom Taught Me:

  1. To Read - My Mom likes to say that "Kym taught herself to read."  But that isn't true.  Sure, I went off to school, already knowing how to read.  (That part is true.)  But it's only because my Mom read to me all the time.  She took me to the library.  We made "word scrapbooks."  We read and read and read.  
  2. To Knit - My Mom used to knit a lot when I was a little girl.  I still have a little red cardigan with cables that she knit for me in elementary school, and she used to be the master of ripple afghans!  (I wish I still had one of those. . .)  She taught me the basics:  casting on, garter stitch, purl stitch.  I worked . . . s-l-o-w-l-y . . . on a garter stitch scarf.  It ultimately became a doll blanket because I sort of lost my scarf mojo.
  3. To Drive - My Dad was charged with teaching me to drive.  But that didn't work out.  At all.  (He didn't have the patience for a temperamental and rather testy teen-age daughter. . .)  So my Mom did it.  We drove for miles and miles and miles along the backroads of Wyoming (and trust me - it's all backroads in Wyoming!)  and had a lot of fun together.  
  4. To Cook - My Mom used to have me start dinner every night after she had gone back to work when I was in junior high.  I learned a lot about timing, following instructions, and . . . to make sure to "stab" the potatoes before placing them in the oven!
  5. To Love flowers - One of my most lovely early-gardening memories is sitting with my Mom as we weeded the small strip of flower garden along the side of my childhood house.  My Mom showed me how to collect dry seeds - from four-o'clocks and moss roses - and save them in envelopes.  I'm pretty sure this is why I garden today!
  6. To Reconcile my checkbook - When I was in high school and had a job, my Mom helped me open a checking account.  She taught me how to reconcile my checkbook and I have been forever grateful.
  7. To be active (and STAY active) - My Mom was active as a girl -- she danced and swam and skated and curled (!).  She is still active today -- she lap-swims and does weight-training and even Zumbas now and again.  She made sure I had opportunities for activities and sports as a child, and she's a great role model for a lifetime of keeping active and busy. 
  8. That a little bit of "silly" goes a long way - My Mom has a great sense of humor -- and we have laughed our way through nearly every thing we do.  Truly.  We can laugh at anything!
  9. To always do the right thing - My Mom is a model in decorum and good manners.  She taught me to do-what-you-say-you're-going-to-do, be on time for work, only take a sick day when you need a sick day, pay your bills on time, return messages, if you take on a leadership role then follow through with the leadership role (but run like hell from the PTA Presidency!), write thank you notes, and be kind to everyone.
  10. To love your children no matter what ... and to stay outta their shit! - My Mom is the Poster Child for Unconditional Love.  And she really has never interfered with my life.  I am so fortunate.  (And, really, so are my kids.  Because I learned at the feet of the Master.)

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How about YOU?  What did you learn from your Mom?  

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