Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Five reasons why you should wear an apron




Iconic TV moms Lucille Ball, Donna Reed and Barbara Billingsley in their aprons


The other day, a Facebook friend, author Cecelia Dowdy, asked this question: "Ladies, do you ever wear an apron?"

Her replies were many and varied.  Some said yes, some said sometimes, others were all-out apron fans who wear them regularly in the kitchen.  Some said they wear aprons that used to be their grandmother's or another family member's.

Do we need an apron?

The reality is, maybe we don't need aprons as much as our 50's forebears did.  They were constantly in the kitchen.  They baked regularly and cooked three meals a day.  Few of them worked outside the home, but their work inside the home never ended.

Plus, they dressed up on a daily basis.  Shirtwaist dresses, and in June Cleaver's case, pearls! Those nice clothes needed protection from kitchen splatters and spills.

Why I wear an apron

I remember my mom gave me one of her aprons when I got married.  Sadly, in the course of several moves, I lost it...which makes me doubly sad, since she passed away a year ago.

But not long ago, when I ruined a top for the umpteenth time because of the bleach cleanser I spritz often in my kitchen, I decided that was it.  If I was going to be doing any time-consuming cooking or baking, I would wear an apron.

So far, I only have one.


I got this apron on clearance at TJ Maxx for a little over 8 dollars


But I'm definitely in the market for more.

Oh, and I don't mean to be sexist with this.  Many men, and all professional chefs, wear aprons while cooking.  They just may not be as cute as the aprons made for women.

With the advent of Etsy, Pinterest et al, beautiful aprons are available everywhere.  And the aforementioned TJ Maxx and Marshall's usually have a selection for less than 20 dollars.

Susannah's Kitchen

One of my favorite apron websites is Susannah's Kitchen, named after Susannah Wesley, the mother of John Wesley and Charles Wesley and a host of other children she raised admirably and beautiful.



One of the adorable aprons sold through Susannah's Kitchen

Here are 5 good reasons you might want to consider wearing an apron:


  • To protect your clothes from stains...even if you're dressed casually you don't want to mess up your clothes, and if you're hosting, the apron will protect your fancy clothes
  • So you won't get flour all over your clothes when you bake
  • To protect your clothes from glue and glitter while crafting
  • To take advantage of the nifty pockets most aprons have
  • Last, but not least:  When you wear a pretty apron, YOU feel pretty.  There's something about donning an apron that says,"I'm the queen of my house.  Yes, this is work, but I can still feel cute while doing it!"





How cute are these mother-daughter Christmas aprons from Infashionkids.com?


This elf-themed apron from Sylvester Mouse is just too adorable

Do you wear an apron, or would you consider it?  Why or why not?  Let me know in my comments section!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Do you remember wiglets?

Actress Elke Sommer with a wiglet look.  My mom's was not this exaggerated.
Photo credit

If you remember your mom going to the beauty shop to have her wiglet styled along with her actual hair, you might be a child of the 70's like me.

My mom wore a wiglet for several years.  She would go to the beauty shop weekly and have the wiglet styled into her hair and hair-sprayed like crazy.  She would then maintain that hairdo throughout the week...regardless of sleeping, baths, whatever.

There were ways that women would preserve their wigleted do's.  One of them involved wrapping the entire hairdo in toilet paper while you slept.

Which leads me to a funny story.  My grandmother was searching for a particular toilet paper brand at the grocery store many years ago.  When the grocery boy pointed out a different brand that was on sale, my grandmother said, "No, that kind sticks to my hair."

 Referring, of course, to preserving her hairdo while sleeping.

I would have loved to have seen the look on that boy's face. :)



Photo credit

They're baaaaack

Well, my sister Beverly got to thinking. With all the extensions available today...why not wiglets?

And she found out wiglets are alive and well.  No, not like the one in this picture....and you don't have to carefully preserve your hairdo between salon appointments.

She got one! And she loves it.  She just has to secure it into her own hair, smooth it all out, and voila, instant volume.

Here's just one of the companies that currently sells wiglets.

Below...a couple of current examples of wiglets, also called "additions", from Ultimate Looks:

photo credit

photo credit 
Further proof that there is nothing new under the sun.

By the way, my mom always bemoaned her thin locks, and often wished out loud that wiglets were still in style.  If she had only known!

Do you remember wiglets? Would you ever consider wearing a contemporary one? Let me know in my comments!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Portrait of a Veteran...Written by a Marine's Mom


"They weren’t able to listen to new music or watch newly released movies or sporting events on a big screen. Instead, they heard the orders given by their Commanding Officers, bombs exploding, and rumblings of gunfire..."- Kathy Rucker Guzzo


My deepest, warmest gratitude goes out to all US veterans, both past and present, who served our country! A special thank you to my brother David, a Marine Gulf War veteran.

The following was written by my friend Kathy Guzzo, whose son Brian served in the Marines.

PORTRAIT OF A VETERAN

The following is a description of a group of people who by their nature and through intense training, do their best to be persons of integrity in even the toughest situations.

A Veteran could be anyone’s child, spouse, parent, neighbor, or friend; but in reality, they ARE someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, wife or husband, fiancĂ© or best friend all who are deeply loved.

My brother, who served in the Gulf War


They are selfless having put their own career and family’s, hopes and dreams on hold in order to be a part of the toughest, most respected and feared military in the world, a part of a brotherhood that is so much bigger than what they were as an individual.

When they enlisted they traded activities like dating, sporting events, hunting, parties, paint balling, movies, and cruising around in their vehicles, for the opportunity to carry a rifle, while wearing a bullet proof vest in a slow moving, armored vehicle on roads filled with hidden explosives.

They gave up comfortable name brand t-shirts, jeans, hoodies and shoes for long sleeve scratchy camouflage uniforms they wear 24/7 for days at a time without laundering.

They gave up talks around the dinner table, cell phones, wireless electronics, and video games, for a few cherished minutes of delayed filled phone calls, sporadic costly internet access while being extremely thankful for letters received by what is now known as snail mail.

My brother is in the middle on the top row


They weren’t able to listen to new music or watch newly released movies or sporting events on a big screen. Instead, they heard the orders given by their Commanding Officers, bombs exploding, and rumblings of gunfire as if they were part of the latest award winning war movie.

They gave up home cooked meals; pizza, fast food, ice cream, and lattes for power bars, instant coffee tasteless powdered meals to which they added warm water.

They missed the birth of children, first words, first steps, the death of loved ones, holiday celebrations, weddings, reunions, vacations, graduations, the change of seasons, and many other events as they endured the loneliness of days that melted together as one.

They gave up hugs, kisses, smiles, and laughter from those they love most, for hatred and evil seen in the eyes of the enemy.

They forfeited nightly sleep in a comfortable bed under a solid roof, to get sporadic rest in a sleeping bag, tucked under a truck, under the stars, in a tent, on anything from lava rocks to sand and if they were lucky in a plywood building.

They gave up ‘regular’ jobs where they would have been safe and secure sitting, in order to be an open target on a road filled with hidden mines or IEDs, or busting doors down looking for the enemy, never knowing what they would find.

They gave up the enjoyment of long hot relaxing showers and a dip in a hot tub, for an occasional dousing on a hot day with bottled water and cold showers in the middle of winter.

They gave up heaters and air conditioners in their home for daily temperature extremes from mountainous winters of below zero with howling winds to sandstorms and a stifling 140 degrees in the desert.

They left the freedoms, culture, familiarity, and knowledge of the country where they were raised, and entered a hostile environment different in every area, from clothes and food, to religion and languages. A place filled with hidden enemies where they couldn’t always tell if those they met were friend or foe.

They willingly took the risk of being injured physically, scarred emotionally or even dying for a duty and purpose they felt called to fulfill.

Veterans are valiant men and women, with an immense pride in having been a part of the history of our great country. They are sometimes as young as 18, who chose to forfeit all these things understanding they’d gain so much more in order to preserve and protect a way of life for the love of a country built on freedoms and liberty.

They are not seeking attention or high forms of praise, they only want to be appreciated, not criticized, for following through with the job they chose that they have been trained and sent to do. For them simple thanks goes a long way.

Veterans developed a sense of maturity and respect for life at a young age. Through their training and life changing experiences, they became responsible, honorable, and dedicated. The words “I can’t” were removed from their vocabulary, as they became self-assured individuals knowing that they could accomplish anything they set their minds too.

They’ve learned that some victories unseen with the human eye can be a victory within themselves and that battles aren’t always won on the front lines, but in the preparation and training that is endured behind the scenes.

They have a deep sense of loyalty, which grew through the life and death experiences they shared with their fellow comrades. At a moments notice, Veterans are available to help their family, friends, or one of their friends, even at the risk of their own lives.

So regardless of the branch in which they served, their rank, whether they served during a time of peace or a horrendous war, Veterans young and old are courageous heroes that have earned this country’s deepest thanks, respect and honor. Americans need to be continually supportive of them for not only whom they are, the sacrifices they’ve made, but also for the difficult yet amazing job they’ve done in protecting and preserving our great country. Any less than that would be a disgrace for us as citizens of the United States.

Written by a Proud Mom of a VFW in honor of her son and the USMC 2/3 “Island Warriors” 2004-2008

© 2009 Kathy L. Guzzo

About Kathy Guzzo

Kathy Guzzo's writing is featured in the book  Faith Deployed...Again. The book, by Jocelyn Green, includes 25 contributing authors from every branch of the U.S. military. Each brief but meaningful and practical devotion includes a question to ask yourself and a prayer.

Listen to this 2-minute clip from an interview I did with Kathy about the book




Kathy conducts a ministry for military familes called "Hope at Home." To receive her newsletter, e-mail Kathy Guzzo at hopeathomeministry@comcast.net



From Faith Deployed.com:

Kathy Guzzo is the mother of four adult children and the author of several articles for military families, including the brochure, “Deployment: What’s A Family To Do?” Her son served in the USMC from 2004-2008, which included deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. She is the coordinator for Hope at Home Ministry in Rockford, Illinois, serving women with loved ones in the military. She also writes a bi-weekly 'newsletter sharing encouragement and resources with women across the country. Kathy and her husband of thirty-two years, Mickey, live in Rockford, Illinois.

Friday, November 07, 2014

The most amazing brownie chocolate cake ever (my mom's)



Today, my sister Lisa made my mom's brownie chocolate cake for her son Nathan's birthday.  Nathan loves this cake so much, he requested it to be his groom's cake at his recent wedding.  And he's not alone.  This cake....amazingly moist, delicious, filled with chocolatey goodness...is a family favorite.

My mom got this recipe years ago from her friend Sandra Griffin.  Early on, my mom added mini-marshmallows to the mix and it just stuck.  If you want to try this option, spread the marshmallows directly on the cake right out of the oven, then spread the icing on them.

There's one problem with this recipe.  A 9 X 13 pan only works if you don't pour all of the cake batter in it, because the full cake batter won't cook completely otherwise.  Since my sister has the only pan my mom ever made this cake in, I have to use a 9 X 13 and just pour in less batter. (So far, I haven't been able to find a pan with these dimensions...more  square than a 9 X 13 but way bigger than an 8 X 8.  Let me know if you know where I can get one!)

An alternative is baking it in a jelly roll pan....in which case the pieces will be thinner and more like Texas Sheet Cake.

Here's the recipe, written in my mom's own hand.  The smudges on the page are testament to how much this recipe is loved!


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

It's been one year since my mother died...



On November 5, 2013, my world shattered.  My precious mother died unexpectedly.

It's hard to explain just how wonderful my mother was. I have tried, feebly and inadequately, to verbalize her specialness.

I wrote this as part of a tribute to my mom in 2003:

My mother's walk with the Lord is also something I want to emulate. She is a real prayer warrior. I have so many memories of hearing her pray, and there have been times I have literally seemed to feel her prayers for me when I've been in dangerous or difficult situations. Call me mystical, but there is just something about a mother's prayers!

My mother has endured many trials in her life, and sometimes, I admit, I've questioned why this wonderful woman should be inflicted with so many circumstances that to me seem unfair and unjustified. But these trials have not broken her. Instead, she seems to grow stronger and more lovely with time.

My mom as a little girl


A tough year

In some ways, this has been the toughest year of my life.  God has given me many blessings this year, and I've appreciated every one of them.  But navigating an ocean of grief has been a difficult and burdensome task.

It's easy to just give in to it, just wallow in grief.  My siblings and I have said that at any given time, we are two seconds away from a grief meltdown.  The tears are always right there behind our eyes.

Our mother was such a central part of our lives, and we lost her so unexpectedly.  (She died of cardiac arrest, in her sleep...yes, a wonderful way to go, and for that we're grateful.)

Celebrating our mother

So today, we've decided not to wallow in our grief.  We are going to do our best to celebrate our mom!

Yes, we're going to lay flowers at her grave.  (Ironically, I'm not as sad at her graveside as I thought I would be.  I simply can't think of her being there at all.)

But, we're also going to have lunch at one of her favorite places.  And then...and this might sound a little funny, but so be it...we're all going to buy a new top.  Because one of her favorite things to do was to buy a new top!  So we're doing it in her honor.

My mom would have HATED us to spend this day crying and moaning about her loss.  She wouldn't have allowed it!  So we're going to honor her as best we can by celebrating the happy and wonderful things about her life.

With my siblings and my mom....our last Christmas with her

Live in peace and joy in heaven, Mommy.  We'll see you soon!

Monday, November 03, 2014

Today is National Sandwich Day! Which begs the question...


What's your favorite sandwich?

I can't lay claim to creating a new sandwich variety. The sandwiches I make at home are pretty run-of-the-mill.

Oh, I might throw on some sweet peppers to make it interesting, or slap it on my George Foreman grill for an instant panini. I've been known to get creative about what I put in my tuna salad--I like pretty much everything but the kitchen sink in there, to the consternation of my daughter, who wants some Miracle Whip thrown in and nothing else.

However, I CAN tell you what my favorite sandwich is, currently, and has been for some time.

The Door County Melt.

The Door County Melt is from an amazing little restaurant we have here called Egg Harbor. (The name is misleading; there is oh so much more than eggs at this charming eatery.)



Here's a description of the sandwich, from the restaurant's own menu:

"Our famous all white- meat chicken salad blended with dried cranberries, toasted pecans and crisp diced apples grilled on multi-grain bread with Jack and Cheddar cheeses and ripe tomato."
To quote Ferris Bueller: "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."



If you're curious, Business Insider has rounded up the best sandwiches in America by state.

So, what's your favorite sandwich? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Gracefully Aging, Day 31: I Did It!!!!



When I began this blogging challenge, Write31Days, a month ago, my blog was lying almost dormant.  I figured, what better way to show myself that I CAN blog regularly, than to be obligated to blog every single day for a month?

I chose the topic "Gracefully Aging," because that is my goal at this stage of my life.  To be honest I found so many resources and angles, I probably could have enough material to blog for two monnths and not just one.  But...whew!...I'm glad I don't have to.

Will I blog every day from now on?

No.  That's a burden that I don't think is even necessary.  My blog readership isn't that big, even though it has increased substantially during this challenge.  I don't have thousands of readers hanging onto my every word.

I blog mostly for the pleasure of it.  It's like having my own little magazine...it's an area where I can be creative in a fun way.

But I will definitely blog more than I was doing before this challenge.

I've learned I can commit to something and see it through to the end...and that's a great feeling!

If you found me through this challenge, I hope you'll continue to stop by here.  One of the best things about this challenge is finding some really wonderful blogs that I don't want to lose touch with.

It was from one of my fellow challengees that I found the quote I'm going to leave you with. Charity of The Wounded Dove posted this as part of her topic, Falling in Love with the Journey.  It's a quote from a Reader's Digest article.  Although it pertains to marriage, I think it fits perfectly with the concept of aging gracefully:

Part of being a happy man is to never lose the boy within; the same goes for women – there is the spirit of a young girl inside, no matter how many wrinkles edge the eyes. Maintaining a childlike love of life, laughter, nature, and each other is the real secret to a perpetually blessed relationship. It is also living in the present, not the past. In the completion stage of marriage, there is never a belief that the best times are over – they should always be today and tomorrow.
To those of you who visited my blog and commented during this challenge. THANK YOU.  It's been a great experience.  It's injected me with a new enthusiasm for blogging.  I hope you'll keep coming back!


I just finished  "31 Days: A Writing Challenge,"  in which I've been blogging on the subject of Gracefully Aging every day during the month of October.  Click the button below for inks to each post in the challenge!




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