Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Trip To Remember

The summer after I graduated from high school, I was fortunate enough to go on a trip to southern California. My parents gave me the trip as a graduation gift, and I would be staying with my mom's sister, my Aunt D.

I've mentioned Aunt D here before. She is quite the traveler of the family, having been to almost every continent (except Antarctica) several times, and since she lived in the Long Beach, CA area, was an EXCELLENT hostess!

My friend Mary, who has also been a subject here a few times and was pictured in my last blog entry, also lived in southern California by this time and I was able to spend some time with her on the trip.

Aunt D made sure I had the WHOLE SoCal experience! Our days were filled with activities from early morning until late at night, and it was SO much fun!

We started off with a trip up the coast. We stopped at the Santa Barbara Mission and it was really something. There are a fair amount of missions up and down the coast, and throughout my stay, we also went to the Mission de San Luis Obispo.

Santa Barbara Mission

Santa Barbara Mission

We went on to spend the night in Morro Bay, where the fog was rolling in and left the Morro Rock looking quite interesting.

The next day we went on to San Simeon, where we visited the Hearst Castle. That was amazing! At that time the 3rd floor of the castle was private and still used by the family occasionally. We all kept looking at the windows, hoping for a glimpse of "someone" but saw nothing.

This was one of the outdoor pools at the Hearst Castle. It was GORGEOUS!

Aunt D was taking a little break while touring the Hearst Castle.

We also stopped in a small Dutch town called Solvang. It was so sweet and quaint.
Over the next few weeks, we toured the Queen Mary (a famous ocean liner),

stopped by Grauman's Chinese Theatre,

I don't even remember whose hand print I put my hand in!

shopped on Olvera Street (the birthplace of Los Angeles and home of many Mexican shops),

went to the Hollywood Bowl (over 100 steps to the top...yes, I counted them),

rode bikes along the Long Beach Marina,

Aunt D wanted me to tell people that this was the boat she was buying!

Can't you just hear the theme of Gilligan's Island?

attended a taping of One Day at a Time (with Valerie Bertinelli)

went to Knott's Berry Farm (an amusement park),

took Mary along as we went to San Diego and visited Sea World

and the San Diego Zoo.

We went to the Hollywood Wax Museum,

Universal Studios,

This is Bruce, the mechanical shark, who starred in the movie Jaws.

and of course....


*Cue music: It's a Small World

We did a lot of other things, went to a lot more places, and had loads of fun! It was a fantastic graduation gift and I had a blast!

It was quite a trip...but as Dorothy said, "There's no place like home!"

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Swing Set

When I was a little girl, we lived in out in the country. It was nice living out there, at least from a child's point of view. We had a big yard, a field behind us, and one on either side of us. We also had a ditch near the road where I could put in a stick and go "fishing." We had neighbors across the road, and that was nice...not only did they have a big yard too, but they also had woods behind their house. They also had a daughter my age, and a son that was my brother's age. We became good friends, and Mary was even the maid of honor in our wedding.

Tim, Mary's brother (on the left), Mary, and my younger brother (with the ornery look), in our kitchen. Notice the portable TV in the background.

I missed out on bringing cupcakes to school for my birthday because I was born in July. I never had the opportunity to hear my entire class sing "Happy Birthday" to me, but one summer my parents made up for it by getting me a swing set for my birthday. It came in a HUGE box.

My dad is a wonderful man. He can tell stories better than almost anyone I know. He has a sense of humor and played some good practical jokes on people over the years. He's intelligent too.

However, my dad is NOT handy with tools, and in his mind the idea of trying to put together a swing set was probably right up there with having major surgery without anesthetic. I did not know that way back when, but I eventually learned it over the years.

After an early dinner this particular hot, summer night, people started showing up at our house. I thought we were just having a fun-filled evening with a bunch of people over. Of course, I realized as I got older, that dad was just in dire need of some assistance in completing this project for his favorite daughter.

My grandparents showed up. My Aunt Tillie and Uncle Paul showed up. Mary's parents came over too, as did some other friends.

We had an enclosed porch along the back of our house, and the "women folk" and children stayed in there and watched the entertainment. The MEN were taking all the pieces and parts out of the box and organizing the construction process.

Not too long after the box was opened, the beer began to flow...slowly at first, because they had a goal. But as the evening went on and a little frustration began to set in, the empty beer bottles became more frequent.

My Aunt Tillie brought cookies, but wouldn't let the men have any until the swing set was up, hahaha. Aunt Tillie was a real treat. She tried to give the men a few hints from her perch in the enclosed porch, but they didn't listen to her...poor thing. I still laugh whenever I think about it.

My Uncle Paul and my grandpa were brothers and it was funny to watch them work on a project like that together. My grandpa didn't always say a whole lot, but liked to let his facial expressions speak for him. Uncle Paul, on the other hand, always had an opinion on things.

As the sun began to set, the sky was turning a beautiful shade of red, and my Grandma told me the poem:

Red sky at night,

Sailors' delight.

Red sky at morn,

Sailors take warn.

To this day, I have no idea if they completed the swing set that night or if it needed a little more work the next day. What I enjoyed the most was being around so many people I loved and watching these men work so hard on something for me. That's what family and friends do for one another.

That swing set project is still one of my favorite childhood memories and I think about it often. Several years later we moved over an hour away, and that same swing set made the move with us. My brother and I continued to use it until it pretty much fell apart.

I don't think we know what are favorite childhood things are until we've grown up and looked back, and I definitely know that was one of mine!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Baked Beans

We recently attended a holiday celebration and I made baked beans to take along.

In case you haven't noticed, I like things that are simply and easily made, and this recipe is no exception!

Because this was going to be for a crowd, I doubled the recipe. Of course, you can cut it down however much you need to.

There are only FOUR ingredients: Campbell's Pork & Beans, ketchup, light brown sugar, and ground (or dry) mustard. (Those of you who happen to know my tastes well, know that I do NOT like mustard at all, but I really cannot taste this in the beans, and because it's not the yellow mustard that you put on a hot dog or a hamburger, I can handle it in a recipe.)

Preheat the oven at 325 degrees, then open up 6 - 11 oz. cans of pork & beans, and put them in a big bowl.

Add one and a half (1 1/2) cups of brown sugar.

Then add 1 cup of ketchup, and make it look like a face. That's just to add a little excitement to your day.

Lastly, add 2 teaspoons of ground mustard. Now it looks like the face is saying, "OH NO!!"

Ruin the face by mixing the ingredients well.

Now comes the hardest part of all...spray Pam in your cake pan. I used a disposable pan since we were going to take it somewhere and it would be easy to dispose of.

Pour the bean mixture into the pan.

Cover it with foil.

Bake it for an hour and 45 minutes at 325.

Take the foil off. Stir a little.

(Don't pay any attention to my dirty oven. Yes, I am fully aware of the fact that it needs cleaned. Did you know that a dirty oven can add flavor to anything that is baked in it?)

Bake for another 45 minutes uncovered.


How easy is that???

I must give credit where credit is due. I got this recipe from my mom. I have no idea where she got it though. For all I know, she made it up. Maybe she got it from one of her old cookbooks that she has had for over 50 years. I don't really know. But what I DO know is that this is the only baked bean recipe she ever fixed and it's the only one that I fix!

Of course I live with three males, so their poem of the day every time I make this recipe is:
Beans, beans,
The musical fruit.
The more you eat,
The more you toot!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Fun-Filled Holiday Celebration

We had a very nice time yesterday over at AP and UT's. There was plenty of food, family, friends, and fun.

Cornhole was a big hit. I've never played before, but I learned a little bit about it, and of course asked the most brilliant question of all: What do they put in the little bags they throw? Beans? Small stones? NO.........CORN. Hence the name, CORNHOLE. I swear, sometimes I can be really ditzy.

My brother-in-law loves a good beer, and there was plenty of it to go around yesterday!

Yes, Ted was studying the label of the beer he was drinking.

We did a lot of chatting's always fun to just take the time to catch up on things with friends.

As the sun went a little lower in the sky, it was time to get a fire going. John really enjoyed getting it started. He took his job VERY seriously...and was VERY successful!

He and Allison watched it carefully, making sure that it didn't go out.

Patty and BJ were giving John moral support by cheering him on.

Our niece Holly, along with her friend Sharon, and UT were having a great time as the evening wore on.

Okay, this was the part that I just didn't get...I don't know who came up with the idea of bringing an electric guitar and amp outside at 10:30 pm, but many of them took turns playing it. Tim is playing with Joe, Alex, Ted, and John looking on. Unfortunately they didn't take requests.

When Tim decides to wear a cup as a hat, it's time to call it a night!

I hope all of you had a great holiday weekend!