Pantry Patrol

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Getting the pantry, freezer, fridge and stash under control.

I admit it.  My kitchen is a mess.

No, I don’t mean the unwashed dishes, I mean the mess of a collection of food items that I have no real understanding what I own.

I am a big proponent of a pantry.  A well stocked pantry allows lots of meals to be made without a last minute trip to the store, or in some cases, fast food drive through.  We won’t discuss food delivery.

To clarify:  “Pantry” includes the contents of the fridge, freezer, cabinet and anyplace else you stash food items.

My pantry has gotten a bit out of hand lately <cough> and it is time for me to take a few minutes to determine what I have, what I need and what can be tossed.

I don’t buy a lot of things in bulk, but there are a few items that always hit that list.  Because I like to cook ahead, I look for chicken breasts, ground meats and a roast or two.

If I made my own stock, I would be looking for bone in items – chicken wings, for example – that would be used to make stock or broth.

Pasta is another item that I like to have a variety of.  Dried pasta, that is.  Why?  Pasta dishes are quick, easy and inexpensive. 

Did You Know: Pasta shapes were designed for different sauces.  Some collect sauce either on or in the shape, while others allow for the right amount of sauce to collect on the shape.

I like to have a selection of ‘cream of’ soups on hand, too.  While mushroom may be the ‘go to’ item, I look for chicken, broccoli, celery and pretty much any other cream soup flavor.  I use them in sauces and casseroles to add flavor and enhance creamy textures.

The price range on these soups can be broad, but I have found that, for the most part, store brand and low fat versions work just fine. 

I like to keep evaporated milk on hand, too.  It is a great tool when cooking and a lot cheaper than using bottled milk.  The ratio is 1 to 1 (or 1/2 cup evaporated milk to 1/2 cup water) and even the non fat versions add a richness to the dish that you don’t usually get with just plain milk.

Cheese is a staple in my house.  I love a variety of types and flavors and use them in a variety of dishes.

At the end of the month, if there are left overs hiding in the fridge, they make a fantastic Clean Out The Fridge Mac & Cheese.  🙂

Bread is an item that is totally dependent on my mood.  I either eat a lot of it, or not much.  I like to have a good Toasting bread on hand.  I love a good sourdough, too.  Tortillas (flour and corn) can be great in wraps, tacos, and quesadillas.

If you have never explored the bread aisle or the bakery aisle in your store, you are missing out.

Because I don’t cook for a crowd, I don’t stock a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables.  I stock a lot of frozen fruits and vegetables.  I do have fresh tomatoes on hand and I will pick up salad makings when I’m in the mood, but for the sides to main dishes or additives to casseroles, frozen is my choice.  Except for green beans.  I really prefer a canned green bean.  <shrug>

Why frozen over fresh?

I hate waste and I know that it is most likely that I won’t be cooking and eating fresh fast enough to avoid overripe produce.  There is also the uncertainty factor of knowing just how long the fresh produce has been on a truck or in a warehouse before it gets to the store.  Frozen is flash frozen as soon as it is picked – at the peak of its flavor and ripeness – and the cost is lower.

Now, if you have been reading this and thinking about your own kitchen, keep in mind that my situation is a little different in that (a) I don’t have kids and (b) I don’t cook for a lot of people so (c) my needs are different.

At the moment, my slow cooker is busy making dinner and I’m gathering my list to determine what my next shopping trip needs to include.  Chaos averted!

Categories: Cooking Food

Commitment

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I came across this image on Facebook the other day and it stopped me in my tracks.

The Paw Pact is a pledge between Human and Animal that is a lifetime commitment.  It is serious business, not to be entered into because of boredom or the desire or need to have a fancy accessory. 

According to what I was told by the rescue shelter, my Annie-Cat was surrendered along with her sister by her Human family because they had just had a baby and couldn’t keep the cats.  Annie and her sister were not kittens, they were at least 8 years old at the time.

My precious cat suffered so much.

When I met Annie, she and her sister had spent a month being cared for and helped toward adjustment by rescuers.  They were trying to get her to a point where she was able to trust enough to gain a new forever home.

It took several days, but between the two of us, cat and human, we started to build the foundation of a relationship that has changed me on many levels.

A Tough Sale

My first sight of this amazing cat was a photograph on a web site.  She was sitting on a table in front of a window and the expression on her face was plainly, “C’mon, I dare you to come and see me.”

During my first visit, Annie hissed and growled and barricaded herself in her kitty-cube clearly afraid.  I don’t believe she was afraid of someone physically abusing her, I think she was afraid of being emotionally hurt.

In fact, she never set paw outside her cube during my first visit.  She would allow me to stroke her soft fur and I let her sniff my fingers but anything else was a strong NO.  At the end of that visit, I asked her if she would like me to return in a couple of days.  Grumble.

The second day I visited, as I pulled into the parking space in front of the building, I looked up and who did I see sitting in the window?  By the time I was in the building, Annie was back in her cube.  She still growled and grumbled but there was a change in her behavior.  At the end of that visit, I asked her if she was okay with the idea that her helpers pack up her belongings so I could take her home with me.  I told her I would return on Saturday and we would go home. 

Saturday was a damp, dreary day in May.  It was also the day before Mother’s Day.  A couple of days earlier, after I had announced I would be adopting a new cat, friends gave me an impromptu Kitty Shower complete with toys for the new addition.  I had a new bag of food, litter and a brand new kitty food dish.  All I needed was the cat.

Guess Who was in the window once again when I pulled into the parking spot.  Guess Who was back in her kitty cube when I entered her room.  After a while, we coaxed Annie out of her cube (something she wasn’t real sure about) and her helpers packed her cube and a couple of special toys that had come to the shelter with her.  It was the first time I had seen her outside the cube.

With a lot of complaints, we managed to get Annie into my carrier and all her stuff into the car.  I’m pretty sure that everyone in the county heard about the trip from the shelter to my home – less than a mile away.

Attitude Adjustment

Once home, she investigated the entire house, found her food, water and litter and proceeded to make herself at home.  One other big change occurred that day.  The cat who hissed and growled when you blinked in her direction had a major attitude adjustment.  It was late and we were both tired.  I looked at Annie and said, “Are you tired?  I’m going to bed, want to come with me?”  It was the last time she hissed at me.

The first month was interesting.  I learned that this was no average cat.  Annie was smart, perceptive and curious.  She wasn’t afraid to push the envelope, either.

One night, after I went to bed, I heard a sound from the other end of the house and got up to investigate.  What I had heard sounded like something had dropped or fallen.  Annie was sitting in the doorway to the library, watching me.  I discovered that one of the DVDs in the rack had been pulled off the shelf.  I put it back, noticing that she had not stopped watching me.  Would I get angry?  Would I yell at her? 

“You okay?”  I asked as I put the DVD back.  “No damage here, but I’ll bet you were a bit surprised.”  She looked at me.  I said goodnight and went back to bed.

A few days later I went to bed and realized that the cat, who had a habit of coming with me, was nowhere to be seen.  I fidgeted a bit and then got up to find her curled up in my chair in the library.

“There you are!”  I said as she looked up.  “I missed you.”  The expression on her face was priceless – I wish I had a camera.  The idea that I had come to find her because I missed her was such a stunner she wasn’t sure what to do.

Annie hates the rain.  I live in a house with a metal roof.  The year she came to live with me it rained.  A lot.

I came home one particularly rainy day to find the entire roll of toilet paper on the floor and the cat sitting outside the bathroom door with a sheepish expression on her face.  “I didn’t think you would notice.” she seemed to be saying.  I gave her a hug, replaced the toilet paper and moved the stand out of her reach.

It was over a year before I got an actual ‘meow’ out of her.  One friend was convinced Annie didn’t like her until I explained that, for the most part, Annie’s vocabulary consisted of growls and grumbles. 

Another friend was astounded to realize I wasn’t kidding when I said that Annie and I actually do talk to each other.  And, yes, I know what you are thinking, but we do.  I speak English and she speaks Feline and we manage to communicate.  A bit.  Enough.

Annie is a cat of great warmth, humor and affection.  She is also very sensitive.  Playful, she can tear around the house like her tail is on fire and play with toys for long periods of time.  I think about the defensive cat in the photograph and my heart aches.  She was so hurt, frightened and alone.

One thing (of many) surprised me about Annie.  She had been declawed by her previous owners.  Whoever did the job, didn’t to a great job.  When I met Annie, she would hide her paws.  Literally.

Now, I do have to take a step back and say, in all honesty, that Annie is no beauty queen.  She is, to put it bluntly, a mixed breed average looking, short legged feline with fur that could match cardboard without trying.

When I looked at her, I paid attention to the different colors in her fur and the way her eyes changed.  I made a point of looking for the ‘pretty’ in a cat who, well, would never win Best of Breed.  And knew it.

I started telling her what I saw that was pretty and how soft her fur was and after a while she started to relax a bit.  Then I started noticing how she hid her paws.  It took a bit, but slowly and surely she let me stroke her paws and uncurl her toes.  I told her how pretty her paws were.

At first, she looked at me with that “Who do you think you are fooling?” expression.  But slowly and surely she came to realize that I wasn’t lying to her, I really did think she had pretty fur and her paws were pretty, too.

The Inter Species Love Affair

We humans tend to think of a ‘person’ as a Human Being.  I tend of think of a ‘person’ as an individual of no specific species.

Annie and I are pretty close.  We love to curl up together and listen to a good book or a radio show.  She likes to place Catch The Tail with me – The game is pretty much me capturing her tail in my fingers as she wags it out of reach as she curls up next to me.

If she is particularly In A Mood, she will deliberately walk on me as she moves from one side of the bed to the other.

We are Ladies of a Certain Age and we know it. 

We have been together for seven years now.  I cringe when I do the math, because I would prefer the number reflecting her age be smaller.

She has learned the value of letting me know what she wants, whether it be a treat or a cuddle.  I have learned the value of paying attention and listening.

I’ve had cats for many years, but Annie is the first cat I’ve lived with who was more than just the cat in the house.  She is really part of the family.

This confuses people.  They don’t get why I am concerned about her. 

A few years ago as I was preparing for a trip to the hospital,  I was less concerned about my surgery than how Annie would cope.  I didn’t dare board her – she would think I was abandoning her.  I couldn’t leave her on her own because I would be gone at least a week.

Thanks to dear friends, I found a person who came to check on Annie every day I was away.  She even called me every night and put the phone on speaker so I could talk with the cat.

The cat was ecstatic to hear my voice and we would chat for a few minutes.  When I came home, I had a cat who was not nearly as stressed as she could have been – and neither was I.

At the end of the day, I believe we should treat animals the way we treat humans.  While I understand that there are situations where an animal must be turned in to get a new home, I also understand the trauma they suffer. 

I’ve seen the impact of a loving home on a cat who thought she had been tossed away. 

Yeah, I’m head over heals in love with my cat.  And I’m pretty sure my cat is over the moon about me, too.  I hope everyone will be lucky enough to have a similar relationship with their non-human companion.  It can be quite a blessing.  🙂

Categories: Annie Cat Musings Pets

Taste Testing

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We are creatures of habit. 

This was brought to my attention several years ago when I purchased my first Kindle.  I discovered that when I walked into a book store, I automatically went to the same sections.  I was looking for works by favorite authors or in favorite genres, ignoring pretty much the rest of the shop.

Believe it or not, the Kindle gave me access to parts of the store I would never have ventured into and, as a result, I discovered authors and genres that I came to enjoy as much, or more, than my tried and trues.

I’m coming to believe that many of us approach our food choices in much the same way.

I’ve been a fan of America’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Country for years.  Both the shows and the magazines, usually include a segment that is the taste test.

Professional and amateur cooks and eaters try a specific food in different brands to determine which is preferred and if it is necessary, or worth, spending $$$ for high end brands.

The results are interesting and the instruction (or back story) of the food is quite educational and helpful.

I recently discovered a BBC production, Eat Well For Less?, that focuses on addressing large food bills by looking at alternatives.  Before you freak out, no they do not always promote the less expensive items.

What I am discovering is that many of us are attracted to what appear to be sales offers, specials, specific brands, and are willing to pay a premium amount for them.  Even when it might not be a good idea.

A recent show had a couple who discovered that their favorite tea, the brand they thought was best, didn’t taste as good as they thought once the fancy label had been removed.  In fact, the one they preferred, tasted better and cost less.

What I find interesting is the thought that because we get into these shopping ruts, we might be doing the exact same thing as the couple with the tea. 

What would happen if we got together with a group of friends and put on a taste test?

Something as simple as an agreement for each couple to split the bill for the test items and have a sample party.

It could be a simple test of a variety of snacks, drinks (soda, coffee, and the like) and such or a broader check of a meal.  When you head off to the store, a selection would be purchased from the higher to lower price points.

The products would have to be blind packaged (put into plain containers with simple labels) and someone could be the designated data keeper.

If nothing else, is would be a great conversation starter. 

If you would like more information on this process, check the links in the text above.  Some, or all, of the programs can be found on YouTube, so you can see what they are up to and how you might construct your own tasting party.

Let me know what happens!

Categories: Cooking Food Musings

The Oddities of Life

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I had a really great odd experience today.

My every six month visit with my doctor was today and, as part of the checks and balances bit, it was decided to draw blood for some routine testing.

I am not a fan of sharp objects.  My preferred method for having blood drawn is my arm out behind me, while I face the outside door and have no clue what is going on.  That might be ‘my’ preference, but <shrug> never happens that way.  🙂

For whatever reason, as I’ve gotten older, drawing blood usually entails using the veins on my hand rather than my arm.

I told the phlebotomist (person who draws blood) that I do better if I’m distracted and chatted with.  Bless her heart, she actually listened to me and made every effort to make me comfortable.

Long story short, the process worked, we had a great chat and I ended up with an exceptionally positive experience with sharp objects.

I’m often surprised and pleased at how everyday encounters can provide wonderful experiences and new friends.  All it really takes is a willingness to listen, share and maybe even laugh a bit.

While there can be every reason, or excuse, not to get to know the people around us, I have found it can be extremely rewarding to take a minute to say hello or just offer a smile.  I know it adds a lot to my day.

Categories: Musings

Mental Health Days and Why I Craft

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I recently came across a link to an article that got me to thinking about why I craft.  The article:  When A Woman Needed A Mental Health Day Off Work, Her Boss’ Response Shocked Everyone.

There is an old saying that if you do what you love, it isn’t work.  To a point, I would agree.  I’m like several of my friends and acquaintances, I enjoy the day to day processes of running an office.  That doesn’t mean that any of those projects, or jobs, is not work.

I have a passion for food and I love to cook.  Sometimes the act of cooking is more job than hobby, but not always.

I love reading, listening to music and watching film and television.  While I have a better than average knowledge of the behind the scenes functions of most of those activities, I have never had the pleasure of being employed in those industries.

Quilting is a new-ish addition to my life that encompasses my fondness for color, pattern and (believe it or not) geometry.  🙂

I do these things in varying degrees because it relieves stress, allows me to create something out of my own imagination and gives me an outlet to not think about the 9 to 5 day to day grind.

I think it can be looked at as mini-mental health days.

I know people who look at hobbies as stress replacements.  They are not so much into a hobby as a way to relax as a way to do something until they can do something else.  I don’t understand that, either.  🙂

I also know people who have no real understanding of, or use for, hobbies.  There’s work to be done, why waste your time?

I had a parent who worked hard most of his life.  He also spent a good amount of that time doing things he actually liked doing (hence the reminder of doing things you love not being work…)  But there came a time when he was no longer physically able to do the projects he loved.

As he had no hobbies, he was left with nothing to fill his time with.  And he ended up having a lot of time to fill.

My suggestion to you is the lesson I learned watching this parent deal with life.  It is all well and good to have things you love to do, but diversify a bit.  You never know when it will be in your best interest to spend time doing things you never thought you would.

If you are a hiker, what would you do if you broke a leg and couldn’t do that for a while?  If you had issues with your sight, how would you deal with not being able to read printed text?

You get the idea.  Work is a wonderful and productive way to spend time and earn a living.  It provides a great sense of self worth.  But work is not the end all or be all of a life.  It should be a part of the whole.  Find something that you are interested in and give it a try.  Doesn’t matter what.  Once you find a passion for something, you will notice that the world is a bit lighter, perspective a bit brighter and work is less, well, work.

Armchair Traveler

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When I was growing up television (all three networks of it) embraced the idea of entertaining everyone, not just a target audience.  As a result, we had a variety of shows that pretty much everyone could enjoy.  True, there was the usual glut of one genre over others, but overall there was some balance in what you could find on the schedule.

Unfortunately, as time went on and the Powers That Be decided that folks didn’t watch such-and-such programming, the audience found itself pretty much stranded unless it invested in expensive cable or satellite networks.

PBS does an amazing job of providing a plethora of programming that covers that wide array of genres that the regular stations have decided that no one wants to watch.  Funny, but I’ve never seen PBS shows among the ratings lists that come out daily or weekly.  I have a feeling that the numbers just might prove the Powers That Be wrong.

Recently I discovered some gems that allow armchair travelers like myself the opportunity to explore new places with beautiful vistas and pleasant travel companions.

Explore The English Countryside

Recently I discovered a wonderful four episode documentary on Acorn TV that was hosted by the wonderful and funny Julie Walters.  You might know her as Mrs. Molly Weasley from the Harry Potter films.

Said documentary, Coastal Railways with Julie Walters, is available through Amazon Prime, Acorn TV and YouTube.  It is a wonderful travelog of Britain that takes the viewer across the country and into nooks and crannies that the average traveler might miss.

The premise is based on Ms. Walters love of the coast.  Each of the four episodes covers a five day journey in which she experiences the landscape and the people.

Now, For Something A Little Different

Also found on Amazon, Acorn TV and YouTube, Penelope Keith’s Hidden Villages takes us on journeys into the English country where we experience life in small country villages.  There are three seasons available of this great series.

If you want a slightly different taste of English life, Ms. Keith has also done an excellent series, At Her Majesty’s Service, which takes viewers behind the scenes at Her Majesty’s royal residences.  We get a chance to meet the people who keep the traditions alive.

Out and About

Another rather unusual discovery were Escape to the Country and Escape to the Continent, which were found on Netflix and YouTube.  The former documents one couple’s search for a new home in the English countryside.  Each episode takes us to a different part of the U.K. providing not only spectacular vistas, but some great local history and a chance to get to know some of the locals.

Escape to the Continent takes the escaping British couple to a country on the Continent.  While the search for a new home is interesting (the homes themselves run the gamut from ordinary to OMG), the ability to see the country and meet the residents is the best part of the show. 

I admit I enjoyed each show for a different reason.  The Escape to the Country series allowed me to see various parts of the U.K. and get a feel for what I preferred and what I didn’t.  I also discovered some interesting aspects of life in that country (cast iron cook stoves) that I had not know about.

Escape to the Continent allowed me to look back and ponder what life might have been like for the moving couple in light of evolving political states. 

The trains, villages and such that were provided by Ms. Walters and Ms. Keith introduced me to some beautiful vistas, but more importantly, some amazing and wonderful people.  At the end of the day, it is their stories that make the travel so much more than a ride on a train or in a car.

Last year I stumbled across Better Homes and Gardens from Australia on YouTube.  While the home improvement projects caught my eye, it was the ability to see the country that kept me coming back for more. 

Even if you are not inclined to travel, sampling these shows provides an amazing opportunity to learn more about an area or a country than can ever be gleaned from a book or magazine.  And you don’t even need to pack a bag to have an adventure!

Categories: travel TV

Enjoying the Sunday Comics

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I have very early memories of sitting in my mother’s lap as she read the Sunday Funnies to me.  Later on, I recall stretching out on the floor in front of the heater with the Sunday paper open to the Comics section.

While I am not a fan of having piles of newsprint around, I do miss the comics section.  This is why I was so excited, thrilled and pleased to discover the online version of the funny pages.

I get a daily paper delivered to my In Box and usually the first place I turn is to the Comics.  Before that, I visited comics.com or found online papers who carried favorite strips.  Both bookmarked along with the websites for favorite comics writers.

Why do I still love the comics?  Good comic strips have a collection of characters that I connect with on some level.  They tell a story that piques my interest.  They make me laugh.

More importantly, they take me away from the day to day news cycle (which should more likely read minute to minute … ) and give me something to chuckle about. 

I’m currently revisiting For Better or For Worse which retired in 2008 but is still carried by several papers.  There is still some humor in watching the kids grow up, the parents grow older and life evolve as it did when the strips were new.

I also enjoy Pickles.  The story of an elderly couple, I not only appreciate the humor, but the fact that – in my paper at least – the strip is loaded in a LARGER format for easier reading.  Perhaps it is a tip of the hat for older readers?

Baby Blues and Zits continue to bring chuckles even if the kids don’t seem to grow older.  Baldo also makes me laugh if only for the irony that seems to escape some. 

Peanuts is another strip that I go to often.  In years past it was a daily visit, but now not so much.  Same could be said for Doonesbury.  I appreciate both for different reasons.

If you love comic strips, but haven’t indulged in a while, load your search engine and start looking for your favorites.  You will be able to find sites like comics.com that collect a variety of strips and you will find stand alone sites that support the strips themselves.

Whatever way you choose, don’t deny yourself the opportunity to look at the world through a very different lens and laugh a bit at the world.

Categories: Musings

What I Know for Sure

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This past couple of months has been a bit of a merry go round.  Between weather, health issues, house issues and the like, there has been very little quiet time.  And I thrive on quiet time.  🙂

When I worked outside my home, I dealt with traffic, parking, people, noise, people, traffic, and stress.  Lots of stress.

Stress is not always a bad thing, but it does have a cumulative effect over time.  A couple of years ago I took a leave to have a knee replacement.  By the time I went back to work, I actually felt like a Human Being again.  Rested, relaxed, pain free.  At peace.  By the end of 60 days, all that was a memory.

I know people who are constantly “on”.  They work at warp 3 with bouts of increased activity that would put a group of kindergartners to shame.  Down time is a rush around town doing things.

Now, I get that some folks like to be busy.  They thrive on constantly doing something.  Where I draw the line is between having things to be done and making things to do.

In this day and age, for most of us, there is very little need to spend a huge amount of time doing very much of anything.  Cooking is a lot simpler than it was even twenty years ago.  Cleaning house or gardening might be time consuming, but is not nearly the huge amount of work it used to be.

All that being said, there is a certain amount of satisfaction and – dare I say it – joy in a lot of projects or processes.  Cooking a wonderful meal, redecorating a room, cleaning up a garden with an eye at adding new plants or creating new planting spaces, all of these things are opportunities to take a step off the treadmill of life and do something that makes us happy, fulfilled and content.

Not everyone can have the job of their dreams, but I believe everyone can have something they love that gives relief from that stressful job and long commute.

Categories: Musings

Background Noise

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Music

For some of us, having music in the background adds a level of relaxation, warmth, energy to any project we are working on. 

For others, music – or anything – playing in the background is an unnecessary distraction.

Me?  I prefer the music.  Most of the time.

I have pretty eclectic taste in music.  It evolved over years of exposure to soundtracks, television orchestras, radio and the generosity of other music lovers.

For many years I cultivated quite a collection of vinyl, cassette and compact disc.  The move away from a dedicated stereo system was jarring.  I admit I’m a bit old school, but there is nothing – nothing – like the sound of good music.  Streaming just doesn’t always cut it.  I like to feel the music.

Soundtracks

There is a richness to a good soundtrack.  Its purpose is to create a mood, provide information to the viewer and set a tone for the film or television show.

Gunsmoke’s radio show had an amazing theme that is iconic.  For a western, it is particularly relaxing and easy going.

On the other hand, listen to the soundtrack for any of Eastwood’s Spaghetti Westerns and feel your heart rate go up and the tension rise.  Ennio Morricone created seriously iconic music for those films.

I’m a long time fan of John Williams.  His catalog is as impressive as is the breadth of his artistry.  From Star Wars to Indiana Jones to Harry Potter and more, his work is both recognizable and unique.

Han Zimmer is another composer who brings his own stamp of originality to his work.  Crockett’s Theme from Miami Vice is just wow.

Classics

Classics for me covers a wide territory.  I grew up in the 1960’s when rock and roll was figuring out its identity.  As such, I love the Beatles, Bee Gees and groups of that ilk, along with folk artists and the big bands.  Glenn Miller, Lawrence Welk, and the like.  I really miss the Boston Pops.  We used listen to them every weekend.

Show Tunes

My love of theater and musicals came about due to the exposure to Broadway recordings and the soundtracks of films made from those productions.

When I was in school, I cleaned house to earn money.  One of my regulars was a fan of show tunes and we spent many a Saturday cleaning to Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof and South Pacific.

Years later I was able to actually see the plays on stage.  What a thrill!

Disney and Peanuts

I love the Disney soundtrack – not just the individual films, but the sounds you hear in the parks that accompany the rides.  There is nothing like hearing the background to Main Street or listening to the Tiki Room show to make me feel as if I am at the park enjoying the ride.

Peanuts has always been a part of my life – the Christmas special debuted in 1965.  I am pretty certain that this was my first real introduction to jazz thanks to Vince Guaraldi’s beautiful music.

Classical and Opera

As for classical music, it took a while before I got a good taste of that genre.  While I had a slight exposure to pieces growing up, it wasn’t until Cosmos that I had something that I could sink my teeth into.  Classical music used as a soundtrack.  Beautiful.

Opera came as a bit of a surprise.  I worked with someone who loved listening to it as she worked on her projects.  Then along came Phantom of the Opera and the chandelier dropped.  Almost literally.

At one point I worked in a soundproof room due to the noise of some of the printers we used.  Being in there by myself, I was allowed to play my music as I wished – as long as it was not a distraction.

One day the Big Boss walked in at just the point where the chandelier fell in Phantom of the Opera. 

He almost had a heart attack.  🙂

These days I find myself browsing online playlists, playing my Disney soundtracks or catching up with a local radio station that plays oldies from the 1980’s.  🙂

I’m exploring the Amazon playlists and am amazed at what I have found.  I’m enjoying headphones that allow me to actually hear the layers of sound.  And I’m wondering how I can create a playlist or two for the car.  Hooray!

So, tell me, what are you listening to lately?

Categories: Music Musings

Taking a Breath

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The Return of Fall

I don’t know for certain, but I am pretty sure that school is once again back in session.  It is in my area.  For me, this is not a major issue other than outrageous traffic during certain times of the day.  For others, schedules are changing, work load is possibly increasing, calendars are filling up and the new daily grind begins.

Here’s hoping your new year is a great one!

I thought I would take a few minutes to ponder a bit.  A breather, as you will.

Wallpaper?

We were advised today of the passing of the amazing Aretha Franklin.  The news was not unexpected, but sad none the less.  As I thought about the lady and her music, it occurred to me that like many people, she was one of those pieces of what I call wallpaper.  The folks that are always a part of our lives even thought we may not be aware of them.

The term could mean the drapes on the living room windows or the color of the paint in the kitchen.  In other words, the backdrop that we most likely never really pay attention to because it is always there.

Aretha, like so many others, could be found playing on the radio, television or on our playlists.  The sounds that come to mind when you think of ‘Murphy Brown’ — and are you one of those people who remember Murphy attempting to sing one of Aretha’s songs?  Murph had a lousy singing voice but loads of passion.  🙂

You might also recall Steve Perry, formerly of Journey.  I heard today that he is releasing a new album.  Actually, the comment was along the lines of, “…for a guy pushing 70…”

In one moment I went from hearing that incredible voice to ‘egads I feel old!’

Storage Stuff

I recently put up a new set of storage drawers in my library/craft room.  While I’m enjoying the space, I am dealing with the organization part.  Which drawer has the envelopes?  Where did I put the velum?  Are all the extra adhesives in the same drawer? 

The beauty of the new set of drawers is that it matches the old set, so all I have to do is move the drawers around where I want them.  Hooray!

A couple of weeks ago I actually found a set of wire shelves that would fit in places I needed them.  Well, truthfully, I needed a shelf in the bathroom cabinet and the only way I could purchase it was in a set of three various sized shelves.  <shrug> 

The other two have sat waiting for me to find a place for them to be used.

My workspace in the library/craft room is pretty <cough> tight.  Snug is a better word.  For a long time my laptop lived on top of two old telephone directories in front of my printer.  Why?  I like my screen at a certain height and it was the only place and way to accomplish this goal.

The problem with that set up is that it blocks the out feed from my printer.  There is nothing more annoying than having to move the stack so I can feed the paper drawer and remove documents from the exit tray.  We won’t discuss having to unload the stuff on top of the printer to get to the scanner.  I said it was snug, right?

I had a light bulb moment this afternoon as I once again browsed Amazon for a laptop stand.  I knew what I needed – something high enough to allow the tray to work without interfering with actually using the laptop.

All of a sudden the idea struck that I had a potential solution waiting in the other room.  Sure enough, the smaller of the two remaining shelves fits and the old telephone directories will soon be heading off to the recycle bin.  Hooray!

Which leads me to a question.  Does anyone actually use the paper telephone directory? 

Speaking of the telephone, I have to wonder about the ebb and flow of calls to my home phone.  They go in spits and spurts, usually around the same time of day, so I know that they are most likely trying to sell me something.  I wonder about those callers who go the distance to stick around until the answering machine picks up only to leave a couple of minutes of dead silence and hang up.

I would think robo callers would hang up before the machine picked up or just as the machine picked up.  But that is me.  🙂

Annie

I have had the pleasure of seeing Miss Annie perk up a bit in the last couple of days.  For a while she was looking like she was feeling her age.  Today, however, I found her sitting in the window watching the world outside and looking quite content.  I don’t know if she was seeing the kids go off to school or watching the trash trucks pick up or just enjoying the birds and squirrels. 

Here’s to the return of Fall.  Sort of. 

Categories: Musings

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