Saturday Smile: I Wish I Owned Stock

When we were home, all of the Denver grandkids were at our house on Saturday — in and out at various times. By the end of the day, there were only crumbs left in the cookie jar where I keep Oreos and only salt left in the jar where I keep pretzels. They’re there for the kids to eat! I have tried making homemade cookies, and at the end of the day, the kids prefer Oreos every time.

I keep Oreos in our cookie jar here in AZ as well, mostly because Bill likes them as much as the grands. But he gave up sweets for Lent, so the Oreos have been languishing in the metal cookie jar.

Until yesterday. Maggie and Lilly came over for lunch, where I served up my mom’s broccoli soup. Maggie brought a Greek salad to accompany the soup. After lunch, we sat outside and Lilly watered our plants. When they got ready to leave, Lilly asked me if she could have an Oreo. I told her yes, as long as it was okay with her mom. Next thing I knew, this happened……

The Oreo-loving gene runs strong in our family. It isn’t surprising that Bill was the one who helped her get her cookies. I wish I owned stock in Nabisco.

Have a great weekend.

The Great Pumpkin Marathon

I’m afraid it’s that time of year again, Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s September, and it’s time for my grouchy All-Things-Pumpkin post.

It’s certainly not that I don’t care for pumpkin. In fact, pumpkin pie is one of my favorite pies. My sister Jen used to make a pumpkin roll that was absolutely splendid. She hasn’t made it for me for a while. I suspect it might have something to do with the fact that I write a yearly Grouchy-Pumpkin-Post. Starbucks offers pumpkin bread which might rival my all-time favorite lemon bread as my sweet bread of choice on the rare occasions that I enter a Starbucks.

I might actually have bypassed the Grouchy-Pumpkin-Post this year because I haven’t been to Bath and Body Works for quite a while, and that is the place that most astounds me when it comes to offering pumpkin-related choices. Still, I was reminded of the All-Things-Pumpkin mindset when my sister Bec – likely in an effort to get me worked into a tizzy – began sending me photos of items she saw recently at her grocery store in Chandler, AZ. They trickled in, sent as she wandered through the store. First there was this one…..


Followed by this…..


Seriously? Pumpkin-flavored Cheerios?

Then this….


Pumpkin flavored fruit snacks? Doesn’t the All-Things-Pumpkin Nation know that pumpkin is not a fruit?

Then my old friends at Kellogg’s refused to be left out of the pumpkin mix….


And then, the final blow….


My Oreo-worshiping husband called for a moment of silence when he saw the denigration of his favorite chocolate cream cookie by a pumpkin spice infiltration.

All I can say is, if I were the Apple Nation or the Pear Nation, I would be asking for a Congressional hearing. Pumpkin spice monopoly.

Speaking of apples and pears, I was wholly unsuccessful this year in gathering my apple and pear crop. Last year I had enough apples that I was able to make apple sauce, apple crisp, and a number of apple cakes and pies. This year my trees didn’t bear much fruit. It happens on occasion. Quite frankly, Bill is thrilled when we recognize that this will be a year of few or no apples since he has to rake up the many, many apples that end up on the grass below the trees.

My pear tree actually did bear fruit. I spent an afternoon picking pears. I then dutifully placed them in a box in the basement for them to ripen, as I had successfully done in the past. And then promptly forgot about them. By time I remembered they were there (since I didn’t have any pear-related grocery items to remind me; just sayin’), they were way beyond ripened and had moved to scary and smelly.

By the way, I recognize that my anti-pumpkin tirade is likely a result of me getting old and grouchy. That’s why this meme, posted on Facebook by a friend of mine, made me laugh out loud. This is me, my friends, this is me….


The Battle of the Orange and Cream

Sometime in the past year or so, Bill and I discovered Stewart’s diet sodas. In particular, we were thrilled to taste their root beer and their orange and cream diet sodas.

For a while, they were sold at Fry’s grocery store, the Arizona version of Kroger. At some point, they stopped stocking them, or at least stopped stocking the diet versions. I was sad until I discovered I could buy them at a little fruit and vegetable market not far from our Arizona home. They don’t give them away – a buck forty-nine a bottle. The pop, however, is well worth the price as both the orange and cream and the root beer are splendidly delicious.

So I did what any normal person addicted to a particular product would do – I began hoarding them. Seriously, I would go to the Superstition Market each week or so and buy every single solitary bottle of the diet root beer and the diet orange and cream in the refrigerated case. I try not to think about how much money I spent on my habit. But I will tell you the honest truth – I was not the only one doing so. Every time I went, I would have to wrestle a bottle or two from some other desperate senior citizen’s hand. Well, not really, but figuratively, yes. The only good thing is that it seems like most senior citizens covet the cream soda, and as far as I’m concerned, they can have every one of them because, well, cream soda.

The reason that I began hoarding Stewart’s diet sodas like a meth addict is because I was unable to find any place in Denver that sells Stewart’s sodas. Now, that doesn’t mean there isn’t any such place, but I can’t determine a source. So my thought was that since we would be driving home from Arizona in May, I would load up our trunk with clanging bottles of soda pop.

Stewarts hoardAnyhow, that’s exactly what I did. They have been sitting on a shelf in our garage since we got home. Little by little, I have opened a coveted bottle as a special treat. The diet root beers are delicious, but without a doubt, I prefer the orange and cream sodas. Because, orange and cream. You can read further about my orange and cream addiction in this post.

Now, before I go on, I will remind you that I would do almost anything for any one of my grandchildren. I make treats that they like. I have a constant supply of their cookie-of-choice – Oreos. I have M& Ms and A&W root beer and pink lemonade always at the ready.

Alastair and shrimp

Alastair’s displaying the shrimp he cooked by himself on the grill, delightfully flavored with a spicy Cajun seasoning. See what I mean?

But the day I saw Alastair take a cold orange and cream soda from the refrigerator, I was stunned. I hadn’t told him not to drink it so he didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that I know my grandson Alastair. He likes good things. He likes good food and good drink and good fun. I can’t wait until he is old enough to prepare full meals for me, because he will be a splendid cook. So the handwriting was on the wall. I knew he was going to love the orange and cream soda, and he indeed did.

Again, I must remind you that what I said above is true – I would do almost anything for my grandchildren. Except share my orange and cream soda.

So, I went to the grocery store and bought a 12-pack of Sunkist orange soda, thinking I was brilliant to have thought of such a logical solution. I put it in my refrigerator so it would be nice and cold for his next visit.

And his next visit was this past Saturday. He was there for a while when I saw him open the drawer in my refrigerator where I keep my beverages. He closed the drawer. Then I heard him go into the garage. He emerged carrying a bottle of the orange and cream soda, garage temperature notwithstanding.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I said, sounding only slightly hysterical. “Did you see that I got you some lovely Sunkist orange soda?”

“Yeah,” he answered. “But that isn’t nearly as good as this Stewart’s Orange and Cream soda. I’m going to chill this bottle so I can drink it.” And that’s what he did. He put it in the drawer. Every so often he would go check the temperature, like a soda pop sommelier. When it was exactly right, he opened the bottle, sniffed the beverage deeply, and took a long, cooling draw.


By the time Alastair stops by next, Bill will have successfully dug a root cellar which will be hidden by rocks in our back yard in which I will be secretly storing my Stewart’s diet orange and cream soda. In the meantime, can anyone tell me where I can buy it? It’s available from Amazon for fifty bucks for a 12-pack. Wait, what?

This post linked to the GRAND Social

What Shall We Call It?

Carol canned peachesJust before this past Christmas, my friend Carol gave me two glorious quarts of peaches as a gift, peaches she had, in fact, put up herself. I’ve undertaken that same activity many times, and I know that it is a messy job, but well worth it when you can eat Palisade (Colorado) peaches in the middle of winter. As it happens, I hadn’t canned this past year, except for a batch of dill pickles in which I forgot to put in the dill. Sigh. So I was happy to get them.

Unfortunately, we were leaving very shortly for our winter in Arizona. We had left our car in AZ when we had opened up the house in late October, and so we were flying. Since we couldn’t bring them with us on the airplane, they sat on my counter – looking beautiful – until yesterday afternoon, when this happened…..

peach pie graham

My phone rang early yesterday afternoon, and one of our granddaughters was calling to see if she could come over. I say one of our granddaughters because the truth is, I can’t tell any of them apart on the telephone. Well, at least not Maggie Faith and Dagny. I agreed, but I wasn’t sure who would walk through my door. But the bottom line was, IT DIDN’T MATTER. I was happy to see either one.

It was Maggie Faith.

magnolia on swing

Now, I learned recently that both Maggie and Dagny like to get creative in the kitchen. They like to prepare food using recipes they make up as they go along. For example, the other day, Dagny squeezed a lime, added some sugar, some oreos, and some M&Ms, and called it Lime Sherbert. Don’t ask.

As an aside, when she asked for some sugar, I brought out my sugar canister – nothing special; something I’ve had for years. “Oh, Nana, that’s beautiful,” she said. It’s not, but I’ll take a compliment any time I can get it. And when I brought out my electric citrus juicer so that she could get all of the juice out of the lime, I thought she was going to faint. “That is SO AWESOME,” she said. And I won’t even tell you what she thought about my Lazy Susan cupboard. From her reaction, you would think her mom and dad cook in a cave.

Anyhoo, yesterday, Maggie – who has been eyeing those peaches since we got back from Arizona – asked if she could make something using the peaches. I was willing, but nervous that the peaches would be used for a concoction similar to Dagny’s.

“How about a peach pie?” I asked her.


So I went to my freezer, which could, in fact, have Jimmy Hoffa buried somewhere inside, and pulled out a frozen pie crust. I opened up the bag and told Maggie we had to let it thaw. After a competitive game of Crazy 8s (in which I was heartily defeated) I returned to my pie crust, began trying to unfold it, and it basically crumbled into pieces. I checked the pull date and gasped in horror. I am going to tell you what it was, but only because I know that Maggie is going to spill the beans on me anyway because she couldn’t stop laughing.

October 2005.

I’m telling you – Jimmy Hoffa’s body.

At any rate, we used some (probably stale) graham crackers and made a crust, and baked it with the peaches (slightly sweetened with sugar and thickened with flour), and called it a peach pie…..

magnolia making crust

During preparation, there was lots of tasting going on….

Magnolia slurping peach juice

Because the pie was entirely ad hoc, I will not include a recipe. If you would like Dagny’s recipe for lime/oreo/sugar/M&M juice, contact her directly.

By the way, at the end of the day, Maggie’s peach pie was an epic fail. The peaches were delicious; the graham crackers were so stale I suspect they were probably purchased sometime in the Nixon Administration. My goal this week is to go through my freezer and pantry and discard any food items that aren’t from this decade!

This blog is linked to Katherine’s Corner.


The central plains in general – and Chicago in particular — had snow on Thursday. That wouldn’t normally impact us. After all, Bill’s mom lives in assisted living and has no reason to be out in the snow. No concerns there. Our kids who had visited her for Easter were long since home, so we didn’t have to worry about their safety.

Nevertheless, the Midwest weather conditions resulted in our plane – waaay down in Arizona – being delayed by a couple of hours. The plane, you see, originated in Chicago.

However, it was all good because we had nowhere we had to be once we landed in Denver. At least not that night. And it was a good thing because security in the Phoenix airport was as bad as I’ve ever seen it. Between snowbirds heading home after Easter and Spring Breakers’ vacations winding down, we settled in for a good long wait. It was fine because we had nothing but time. What’s more, when I checked my email later, Frontier had given me a $25 voucher for my trouble. I won’t turn that down.

We had not a lick of food in our Denver house. It seriously looked like the home of Cindy Lou Who down in Whoville after the Grinch had stolen all of their presents and the roast beast. So once we were settled (and we are grateful that the house was standing in one piece), we ordered Greek food to be delivered, because as usual, the Yellow Bug refused to start. Dead as the proverbial doorknob until such time as we could get the battery a charge. Which we eventually did.

Starting Friday, from 8:30 on, we had grandkids. The number varied based on the time of day. It started with two — Dagny and Alastair. Three more arrived at lunchtime — Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole. The original two went home for a bit, but two more came in their place — Addie and Maggie Faith. Finally, the other two couldn’t stand that there was fun going on without them, and showed up at my front door, cheeks red from riding their bikes the three-block distance to our house from theirs. I bought a family pack of Oreos Friday morning and they were mostly gone by Friday afternoon. Meghan Trainor may think It’s All About the Bass, but in our grandkids’ minds, it’s all about the Oreos.

Besides Oreo crumbs, here’s what time with the grandkids largely consisted of…..




cole play dough


As you can see, now that Cole is almost 2, he is no longer happy just carrying around the Play Doh can; instead, he wants to get his hand in the mix.

Jen came for a visit on Saturday and spent the night, along with Kaiya and Mylee. Cole came for the day, but went home in the evening with his mommy and daddy. A couple of things have changed since I saw him last. First, he has lost all of his little toddler looks. He is now all little boy. Second (and related), he will have nothing to do with the portacrib in which he used to comfortably and cheerfully nap. It’s not enough that he weeps bitterly when I put him in it because he doesn’t want to miss out on the fun; now he is able to crawl out of the crib. After his cries subsided on Saturday afternoon, I quietly tip-toed into the room to see if he had fallen asleep. He greeted me cheerfully at the door. Oh boy.

A swing full of girls. Well, and Cole....

A swing full of girls. Well, and Cole….

Saturday evening we had a princess party. When you are the grandfather and brother of girls, you adapt. As you can see, Papa and Cole were happy to join the festivities. Anything for the pound cake and ice cream with chocolate toffee sauce that were the princess treats.

cole papa princess party

Cole princess party

It’s the story of life with two sisters….

Sunday following church, we dropped the girls off at their home and had lunch with the other grandkids.

I’m tired.

This post linked to the GRAND Social

Saturday Smile: Grand Homecoming

Bill and I are happy when we’re in Arizona. We love our little house. It’s wonderful to be with our Arizona family. The weather is almost always amazing. Superstition Mountain is as beautiful as can be.

But Arizona doesn’t have our grandkids. And we have been blessed with a number of visits from kids and grandkids since we arrived home, and are looking forward to more because Heather and Lauren and Joseph and Micah are on their way even as you read this blog post. They will be spending the week of Thanksgiving with all of us here.

We were greeted shortly after we arrived home on Wednesday with a quick visit from Alastair, Dagny, Maggie Faith, and Jll. The highlight of that visit was when Alastair went out into our back yard which is covered with snow to test how solid the ice was in our little pond – WITHOUT ANY SHOES OR SOCKS ON HIS FEET. The thing is, he didn’t even seem to notice.

Thursday Court, Alyx, Kaiya, Mylee, and Cole came for dinner. Perhaps the highlight of that visit was watching Cole dance. And he doesn’t even need music. He just moves his little feet and dances like he’s on American Bandstand when the activity is suggested to him. See, he’s not really such a nerd…..

Cole Clark Kent 2015

Yesterday, we had another visit from Alastair and Dagny while their mom and Maggie Faith went to watch Addie play volleyball (whose team unfortunately lost the championship game). It was very cold and both of them were happy to be greeted with hot chocolate, Oreos, and uninterrupted cartoons as they arrived from school….

Dagny Alastair hot chocolate

And Papa was happy to have help from Alastair bringing the Christmas tree up from its basement home….

Alastair christmas tree 2015

Grandkids are a wonderful thing.

Have a wonderful weekend.



My Way or the Highway

I’m going to hear a collective gasp from many of my readers – not the least of which will come from both of my sisters – but I don’t particularly buy into the notion that birth order largely affects one’s personality.

I’m sure birth order – like many things – impacts the way one sees life. However, I think that there are so many variables involved that you just can’t say unequivocally that he or she is that way because of placement within the family. For one thing, any time I read anything about birth order, it talks about first-born, middle child, and youngest. That implies all families consist of three children. So since I am the second of four, I guess that makes me a middle child, and so is my younger sister. And yet I assure you that she and I are not alike in very many ways. Mom always did like her best.

In my family, my brother is the youngest. Supposedly that makes him a free spirit, a risk taker, and charming. Now once everyone who knows my brother stops laughing at the notion of Dave being a free spirit, stop to think that he is the only boy in what was a traditional family. So, despite being the youngest, he had a lot of responsibilities that his sisters didn’t have, particularly when it came to helping Dad in the bakery. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure Mom made his bed every day (and if not, I will soon hear about it from him).

Having said all of the above (implying that I, too, am an amateur psychologist), I will tell you that where the birth order supporters get it right is when it comes to the first-born. Nearly every first-born that I know has many of the same characteristics – they religiously follow rules; they are born leaders; they feel responsible for, well, everything in the world; and they see things as black or white, right or wrong, real or imagined. I love first-borns and am delighted to let them take over my world.

Joseph first day school 2015Because I have three sets of grandkids, I obviously have three grandkids who are first-borns. I am not able to observe Joseph on a day-to-day basis, but when I’m around him I can easily see that he has a strong sense of the way things are supposed to go. When they don’t, he feels responsible. (His younger brother Micah agrees – Joseph is responsible!) He is a sensitive kid, often bearing the woes of the world on his shoulders (when he isn’t sharing his sweet grin).

If you look up first-born in the dictionary, you will see Addie’s picture. She is addie first day of school 2015 (2)responsible for everyone and everything. She is self-confident, ambitious, and successful. She knows what is right, and tries to make sure everyone toes the line. In fact, sometimes when she is visiting with her siblings and her brother is not behaving as she would like, she will begin disciplinary procedures. I gently remind her, “Addie, I’ve got this.” She looks at me as though she is thinking, “Well, you may think you’ve got this, but you don’t got this very well!

Kaiya is a bit of a different story. She is actually not a first-born, having a brother who is 14 years older. Still, she has a lot of the characteristics of a first born since she for all intents and purposes plays that role in the family. Kaiya notices everything, and has a strong sense of the way things are supposed to be. She is the one who notices if I’ve changed something in the house. She doesn’t Kaiya first day of school 2015 (2)hesitate to let me know that I really should have left well enough alone.

I recently got a new cookie jar. I bought it primarily for the color, which goes well with my new kitchen colors. Etched on the cookie jar are the words Fresh Homemade Cookies. For the most part, the cookie jar contains Oreos, because that is the cookie of choice for ALL of my grandchildren as well as their grandfather. But ever since I bought that cookie jar, Kaiya has told me I shouldn’t have the Oreos in that cookie jar because they aren’t homemade. “Nana, you need to make some homemade cookies to put in that cookie jar,” she recently instructed me.





Well, birth order or not, I did as she instructed and made some homemade peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. That should keep all the first-borns in my life at bay for a bit.

homemade cookies closeupPeanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted from

2-1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¾ c. butter, room temperature
¾ c. granulated sugar
¾ c. packed brown sugar
¾ c. peanut butter
1 egg
1 t. vanilla extract
2 c. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Mix in peanut butter, egg, and vanilla until combined and creamy. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, and mix until the dough comes together. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined.

Drop by rounded tablespoons or form into 1-inch balls onto a greased baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Press each cookie with the back of a fork to give it the classic peanut butter cookie look.

Bake for 11-12 minutes, or until the edges are just beginning to turn brown. Cool on the pan for a couple of minutes before placing them on a rack to cool.


Alfre Woodard as TV's State of Affairs' President Constance Payton

Alfre Woodard as TV’s State of Affairs’ President Constance Payton

For most of my grown-up working life I was a professional communicator of some sort. I was a reporter, I wrote and produced newsletters, I was a media spokesperson, and so forth. But there was never any doubt that the aspect of my job that I liked the best was that of legislative liaison.

For one thing, I was so proud that I could spell the word liaison, with that extra “i” and all.

Anyhoo, in that position, I worked with legislators and their staffs on the local, state, and federal level. As a result of this job description, I traveled to Washington D.C. on numerous occasions and met Colorado’s U.S. Representatives and Senators. I’m not lying when I say I met with the members, as I think I actually met each one who served while I was legislative liaison. However, I must admit to you that I mostly worked with staff members, who (you will not be surprised to learn) actually do all of the research and analysis – the work, really — and are approximately 20 years old. And smart as hell.

I was thrilled to have such an exciting job, and the job came with lots of perks. Great restaurants for entertaining staff, opportunities to hear well-known political analysts speak (yes, it’s true; I’m a nerd), passes to watch the Supreme Court in action (you don’t have to pay, but you do need a pass to get in). Once I was able to sit in on a Senate Committee where I watched Colorado Senator Wayne Allard listen to testimony about, oh, I don’t know, something. The point is I was able to see and do LOTS OF COOL THINGS that most people will never have a chance to see and do.

I recognize how lucky I was.

Having said all of this, I will finally get to the point.

Without a doubt, the coolest thing I did in all of my years as a professional communicator was visit the West Wing of the White House one night after 10 o’clock.

Now, don’t start panicking. I wasn’t one of those people you have been hearing about  who have been leaping over the White House walls and getting so close to the president’s residence that they are tromping on Michelle’s organic vegetables and drinking Gator Ade out of the Obama’s refrigerator.

I had what is, in the world of professional communicators, technically called an in. I had a friend who had a friend who had a friend who was the correspondence secretary for President George W. Bush. As a result of her position, she had permission to give tours of the West Wing of the White House after important work was finished for the night.

And since, if you will recall, George and Laura hit the hay by 9 o’clock each night, that meant it was a go by 10 o’clock unless Russia was invading the Ukraine or some such distraction leading to a late bedtime. No entertaining famous Hollywood stars at wild parties during the Bush years.

I had to pass a background check, of course. And then it was a go.

I stood inside the Situation Room where decisions about wars and other military actions have been made for years. I sat in a chair in the conference room where you see the president meeting with his/her staff in all sorts of television programs. The TV show West Wing comes immediately to mind. I wasn’t able to walk into the Oval Office, but I was able to stand in the doorway and look in. I can’t tell you how thrilling that was for me. I walked down the oh-so-familiar portico by the Rose Garden, and the president and Laura’s bedroom window was pointed out to me. The light was still on, my friends, and it was probably 10:30. A wild night for the Bushes.

Probably most fun for me, however, was visiting the press room where I had witnessed an unknown number of press conferences from an unknown number of presidents and their press secretaries over an unknown number of years. There I stood, clutching the podium, with the familiar White House logo in the background. My friend snapped my photo.

That photo sits in a frame on my desk, and I look at it often and always feel the same sense of awe that I actually stood where so many famous people have stood. I told you, I’m a nerd.

Recently 6-year-old Kaiya was in my office and caught sight for the first time of that photo. With absolute dead seriousness, she cried out, “Nana, WERE YOU THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES?”

Only slightly tempted to say yes, I instead admitted I wasn’t, but that I was standing right where the president stands when she sees him on television.

I guess that is about the height of my status with my grands. It’s downhill from here. I may not have been the president, but I always have Oreos in my cookie jar.

No Oreos

President Barack Obama. No Oreos.



Nana Kris. Oreos.