Sad News of Mindy McCready Passing Tonight

You might have heard about Mindy McCready’s domestic and personal troubles over these past 5-6 years. The saddest news came tonight that she was found in Arkansas with a fatal, self inflicted gunshot wound, on the porch of her house, next to her dog. R.I.P., Mindy, and I hope you have finally found the peace that you so desperately needed but never had here on earth.

Mindy was a country singer whose personal life spiraled out of control after just a couple of hit songs. My favorite was “10,000 Angels” and it seems a fitting song tonight to pay tribute to her. She had a sweet, soft voice and was very pretty. Too bad she could not find a good man to share her life with, and too bad she had to overcome such a horrible abusive childhood. And then the law had to get involved and mess up everything even worse, ending up with the State taking away her two children. It is a sad, sad story and a very bitter ending for this poor woman who just couldn’t handle it any longer.

Shopping for Roses and Chocolates for Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, so I need to get out of the house and go shopping for roses and chocolates for tomorrow. I don’t usually buy roses for anyone on Valentine’s Day, but my sister and I thought it would be a nice thing to do for our mom, since our dad passed away last summer. Mom had a hard time with the first Christmas without him, and he used to always give her a dozen yellow roses on Valentine’s Day.

The color of roses and types of flowers that you give to people are supposed to have certain meanings, like the color red for roses means love. So we had asked Dad why he gave our mom yellow roses instead of red ones. He said that because she was born in Dallas, TX, that the two of them had always had a private joke about her being his “Yellow Rose of Texas.” So he always gave her yellow roses whenever there was an occasion for flowers.

My sister and I agreed to go in together and split the cost of the roses, and I will take them to her in the morning on my way to work. We could have them delivered, but we want her to get them first thing in the morning, so her entire day is brightened and she doesn’t have to spend all morning being sad, missing him.

Chinese New Year Starts Next Week

Next week is the Chinese New Year. It is the biggest holiday for people in China and many Asian countries, and also for people who live in many big U.S. cities that have their own Chinatown districts. I have been to Chinatown in San Francisco, Oakland and Washington, DC. Each one is a treasure trove of great food at authentic Chinese restaurants, natural medicine shops and imported gift items.

The cities have big parades, firecrackers, and many traditions and superstitions that everyone must honor and observe. The one that I like is you cannot sweep your house on New Year’s Day or you will be sweeping all the good fortune for the coming year out of your door and you will not have good fortune.

Next year will be the Chinese Year of the Water Snake. I don’t know very much about what birth years are included in the Year of the Snake, but I will try to look them up and see what calendar sign is related to my own birthday. You should do the same!

Car Trouble This Morning

On my way to get in my car this morning and head out on errands, I noticed that the right front tire seemed a little low and bulging. That tire seems to having trouble, needing air every couple of months. I have had it checked at the tire store several times for a nail or leak, and they never find anything wrong with it. But that tire keeps losing air when the other three tires never give me trouble. I think the tire store just doesn’t want to admit that they sold me a bad tire and should give me a replacement under the warranty. I don’t know how to prove this other than taking the car to a different tire store. In the meantime, I have to drive straight to the gas station and get air in that tire before I drive it on the highway.

Anyway, not only was that tire low, but when I started up the car the warning light on my dashboard came on with the brakes light. Oh, no! I really do not have the money in my budget or the time to deal with new brakes for my car. I hope that it just means the brake fluid is low and not that the brakes are really going bad. I guess I need to take the car for an oil change and have them top off all the fluids. If that doesn’t make the brake light go off, I will have to find a way to get the car in the shop for a brakes job this month and move some bills around in my budget so I can pay for the repairs and keep my car running.

Our First Snow is Here!

Most of the country seemed to enjoy a white Christmas, but we only had rain here in Nashville. It was cold and windy and dark, but most people were focused on being inside exchanging gifts and feasting on traditional Christmas dinner foods. Some guys were all about watching football and there were some great children’s movies on cable to keep the kids occupied.

But when I woke up this morning, there were huge snow flakes swirling around in the air. It is just about 32 degrees outside, so I wonder if any of it will stick to the ground and give us a snow day today? We don’t get very much snow here anyway, so when it snows around Christmas that makes it special – even if it is the day after.

A Peaceful Christmas Eve

Here it is Christmas Eve and everything is ready for the big day tomorrow. I have been really good about planning things out and getting my shopping done early enough so that I’m not in a last minute panic like I was last year.

The grocery shopping was probably the worst. I went around 4:00 in the afternoon and the place was jam packed with people. It was so crowded I could hardly make my way up and down the aisles. I had a list with me to help speed things up, but it really didn’t help much. I was stuck in the human tide of going up and down each aisle anyway.

I wrapped the very last gifts this afternoon and have been able to enjoy a nice, quiet dinner and I’m actually heading to bed early. I hope Santa likes the chocolate chip cookies that I baked for him, and that he is good to me – and you!

Only One Week To Christmas

Wow! Did you realize that Christmas is only one week away? I think this is about the right time to start to panic. Do I have all the gifts bought? Do I have plenty of wrapping paper and ribbons? Where are the gift tags that I bought on sale last year for 80% off? I know I put them someplace safe so I could use them this year and not have to spend top dollar on gift tags.

The dinner menu is starting to worry me. Do I have all the things I need in my pantry other than the turkey? Do I even want a turkey this year? I have been thinking about getting a Honeybaked ham instead. But it has always been a tradition at my house to have turkey on Thanksgiving and again on Christmas. Of course, that much turkey makes everyone pretty much sick of turkey and we don’t even think about having turkey again for several months – it’s just too much. So maybe it makes more sense to get a ham this year and start a new tradition?

Thankfully I got all the Christmas cards written and mailed last weekend. I don’t have that hanging over my head any longer. This year was tough to send cards – I have not been good about keeping up with everyone’s address changes. One card to my niece already came back as undeliverable because she moved and I forgot about it. So I have to call her and get her new address tonight, then find a new envelope to get that last card mailed out to her.

Have a Nice Cup of Hot Tea

This week while grocery shopping I went a little crazy in the tea and coffee aisle. I decided to try several flavors of teas and bought boxes of teas from several different brands to really experiment with teas.

The tea of choice in my house while growing up was Lipton Tea. My mother would not buy any other brand. She used Lipton for hot tea and also for iced tea, although we did not have tea often. My dad preferred coffee and drank a cup in the morning before leaving for the office, drank more coffee while at work, and had a cup of coffee after dinner each night with dessert. But in the summer time, mom would make a pitcher of iced tea once in a while, rotating that with various flavors of Kool Aid and lemonade or orange juice.

So I limit my coffee to just one big mug of Starbucks home brew in the morning. If I drink anything else throughout the day it is usually just plain cold water or a cup of hot tea. I still have Lipton on the shelf, but I decided to try some different brands this time and have several boxes on a dedicated shelf in my kitchen cabinet next to the microwave so that I pick a flavor to try each day. This afternoon I am trying a blend of green tea with mandarin orange. It smells heavenly and the taste is very mild. I think I found a winner!

What On Earth is Celery Root?

I just watched a Paula Dean cooking show and she had a guest on the show who brought out a thing called celery root. I have never in my life seen anything that looks like that, and this guy claims that we can all buy it at our local grocery stores. I seriously doubt that, but maybe it is something that I have just never noticed before. So next time I go shopping I will be asking the produce manager for celery root and see if they have it around here.

He says you have to peel the celery root and that causes a lot of waste. The idea of wasting a lot of food bothers me, so that is Strike One against buying celery root. After you peel it and make sure everything you cut into is thoroughly clean, you slice it into big chunks and boil it in water on the stove top. After you cook it for 20 -30 minutes, you have to push it through a hand tool called a ricer. That is Strike Two – I don’t have a ricer and I can’t think of anything that I might have in the kitchen tool drawer that would be a good substitute.

Then he adds the cooked and riced celery root into a big pot of boiled but drained white potatoes. Mixing them together with some butter and whole milk, and you have a big pot of tasty mashed potatoes.

I don’t think all that extra work is worth it for me to make this in my own kitchen. If someone has a restaurant and they want to do this and put it on the menu, I’ll be happy to order it at least once and try it. But in my kitchen, I don’t feel the need to add celery root to my mashed potatoes. I’ll do fine with my own way of making that.

Different Pizza Toppings

As a kid, we had pizza a lot. My mom probably ordered pizza for the family every Friday night through our whole childhood. She almost always would order pizza from Pizza Hut, and she would order one pepperoni every time, and a second one with different toppings depending on how adventurous she was feeling that night. I think her favorite was probably sausage and mushroom, but she also liked canadian bacon with pineapple and a vegetarian topping with extra black olives.

Nowadays we have a lot more pizza places to order from and a lot of local restaurants are in the pizza making game, with specialties like brick oven baked and hand tossed dough and toppings that can be anything from spinach and garlic to shrimp to barbecued chicken.

I still like the good old standby pepperoni pizza – especially if this is from a new pizza place and I’m trying it for the first time. If they do OK with the pepperoni, I will have more confidence trying a different topping next time I visit that place.