Monthly Archives: September 2009

Youtube – Fun Stuff, part I


A couple of years ago I discovered youtube and I love it! It is one of the best sites I go to on the internet. And there’s everything there: music, movies, classic television shows, humor, politics, Fox News, historical films, craft demonstrations, do-it-yourself projects. Even how to give a haircut.

Of course, one has to be very careful because there’s a lot of bad stuff on it, too. That’s just an internet truism.

So, here are some of my favorites. I wish I could load them for you, but I don’t have that kind of blogging account. So, I’ve included the links, which is almost as good.


Charlie Bit My Finger
123,354,601 hits.


Diet Coke and Mentos

The Marx Brothers card game from Animal Crackers. Margaret Dumont is just as funny as the brothers, and that’s saying something. There are so many funny scenes from their movies.

Abbott and Costello: Who’s On First?. An absolute classic of comedy.

3 Stooges: Pie Fight

W.C. Fields (I think this clip is from You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man)

Tim Hawkins, Christian comedian:
Almost anything by him. Particularly good is Chick-fil-A.

Chonda Pierce, Christian comedienne:
Everything by her.

Steven Crowder, conservative comedian:
Most of his stuff is not only funny, but right on target.

Sonic Commercials.
I know, I know.  But they are funny. The Related Videos column on the right has viewer submitted ones. Some of them are quite funny, too, but then some are profane. Just be careful.

*Post updated March 31, 2013.

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Waxahachie Chautauqua – Cotton, the Fabric of a Community

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We got there late and had to leave early, so we didn’t get to hear the Vocal Majority. But they’re on youtube, so we can hear them there and I’m just glad we got to go at all.
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First, Heather Boykin demonstrated the layers of clothing a Texas woman in the Victorian era would’ve worn to church or an event in the summer. She weighed before and after donning all the garments – it totaled 8 pounds. With all that and the corsets, it’s little wonder that the life expectancy was shorter.

The Emcee was Joe Green, who grew up chopping cotton. Between speakers, he recited his poetry or sang duets with Merry Agape. They were very good.

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Dr. Clayton Brown, History professor at TCU, spoke on the history of cotton in Ellis County and the Blackland Strip (the counties from the Red River south to San Antonio). Nancy Farrar shared the history of the county’s first cotton gin, which was her great-great-grandfather’s in the mid-1800’s.

Levee Singers
The Levee Singers performed for about an hour. They are four retirement aged fellows, kind of Kingston Trio-like, who have been singing together since the 1950’s. Very talented and energetic, they put on a good show and were just plain fun. They also are on youtube.

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“Cotton Clothing Through the Ages: Historical Fashion Show” was the last event we were able to see. Lauren Craig and her sisters demonstrated the history of fashion, modeling clothing that they’ve made for 4-H Fashion Shows. The outfits were amazing. Those girls can really sew.

Throughout the program, I learned how much easier our lives are now than those of previous generations. I am so grateful for all that the pioneers of this country did for us.

The exhibits tent had a quilting demonstration, a man from the cotton gin to answer questions, and a hand-cranked demonstration (I think it was a very small cotton gin, but I couldn’t get close enough to ask).

Next year the theme will be Railroads. I hope we can take our grandsons with us. When they get restless we can always take them over to the park area and let them run off steam.

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Classic Movies

Barbara Stanwyck
The Lady Eve, 1941, comedy
Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn, William Demarest, Eugene Pallette

An ocean liner, a beautiful card shark, a gullible and handsome millionaire + an excellent script = one of the best screwball comedies ever made. The story moves right along and has enough plot twists to keep one guessing.

Preston Sturges was a talented writer, producer and director. Pratfalls, sparkling dialog, and oh, that beautiful ship.

It’s terribly romantic but safe enough for the whole family, although small children will probably get bored between the physical comedy scenes.

Costumes:
Designed by Edith Head and they are stunning; Barbara Stanwyck was never more beautiful. It’s worth watching just to see the her clothes.

Where I’ve seen them:
Barbara Stanwyck – (too many to mention but here are a few) Mad Miss Manton, Meet John Doe, Christmas in Connecticut, Dial M for Murder, The Big Valley
Henry Fonda – Mad Miss Manton, The Grapes of Wrath, 12 Angry Men, Mr. Roberts, Yours Mine and Ours
Charles Coburn – Stanley and Livingston, King’s Row
Eugene Pallette (Fonda’s father) – My Man Godfrey, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
William Demarest – My Three Sons, That Darn Cat!

Something I learned:
Card Sharps and Card Sharks are interchangeable terms.

Highly recommended.

Linked to Frugal Friday on Life as Mom.

*Updated March 31, 2013

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Tip

Never leave a hot, buttered cranberry muffin on the coffee table.

The beagle can’t be trusted.

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Using What You Have – Glass Bottles and Jars

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We recycle lots of glass bottles and jars at our house, but I reuse a lot of them, too. It’s free storage and I prefer it to plastic.

My canisters are gallon pickle jars, mostly from a movie theater where I worked when my husband went back to college in the late 1970’s. After washing and soaking off the labels, I painted “oats”, “flour”, etc. on them but that eventually wore off. A few years later I stenciled red cherries on them to match the new curtains I made, but that, too has worn off. Now they have labels I printed off from the computer, onto regular paper, cut and attached with clear strapping tape.

The jars work very well as canisters because they hold a lot, seal against little invaders and I can tell at a glance how much of something I have on hand. We buy in bulk at Sam’s Club; it’s not only cheaper, but convenient, too. We live about 4 miles from the store and I just won’t get in the car and drive in for a missing ingredient. I love having plenty on hand.

I store the 25 pound sacks of flour and sugar in large plastic buckets with tight lids, from which I replenish the smaller vessels, but everything else goes into glass. Currently we have flour, sugar, oats, cornmeal, macaroni, dried beans, baking soda, and powdered milk stored in large jars. Breakfast muffins are in a large one in the freezer. Quart to half-gallon sized ones contain yeast (in the refrigerator), cornstarch, barley, rice, grits, cereal and lemonade mix.

This summer we bought a large box of Texas peaches and froze most of them in a light sugar syrup in jars. It was too hot for me to get out and pick blackberries, but we usually have jars of them in the freezer, too.

For convenience and because I like the way it looks, I keep bottles of canola oil, olive oil and vinegar in small bottles. Sometimes I order water at restaurants and it comes in beautifully colored bottles. Lovely shades of green and blue. A package of corks from the hardware store seals them. This is very convenient for making salad dressing and cooking.

My parents were young adults during the depression and I learned about this from them. My dad would sit and shell pecans during the winter, put them in jars in the freezer and then we’d always have plenty for cooking the whole year.

This post is linked to:
Make Do Mondays
Frugal Friday on Life as Mom

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Boy Stuff

After a trip to the hardware store with Grandpa.

After a trip to the hardware store with Grandpa.

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Snickerdoodles (and sort of a cookie tutorial)

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This recipe for cinnamon cookies came from a Bryan Chapel (Oklahoma) cookbook which my husband’s grandmother gave me in 1974. It is probably the most inexpensive cookie I make.

A little attention to detail and you can make cookies every bit as good as your favorite bakery. Probably better.

Snickerdoodles
(Makes about 3 dozen.)
~Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.

2 eggs
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 c. vegetable oil (not olive oil)
~Mix together very thoroughly (it will look creamy).

2 2/3 c. flour
2 t. cream of tartar (if you don’t have cream of tartar, see * below)
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
~Sift together and add to creamed mixture, just until blended. Do not overmix.

2 T. white sugar
1 T. cinnamon
~Stir together in a small bowl and set aside.

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~Form dough into 1″ balls, then roll in sugar/cinnamon mixture and place 2″ apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.

~Place on middle rack in oven (only 1 tray at a time). Set timer for 10 minutes.

~After timer goes off, turn tray around and set timer for an additional 5 minutes. (see * below)

~When done, slide paper off onto table and allow cookies to cool for about 5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack.

*****Notes*******
If you’re an experienced baker, then you may know everything I’ve written in this section. Most of it I’ve learned from making thousands of cookies. Please don’t be put off by how detailed this is. Baking good homemade cookies is not difficult but it does take focus. I’ve had some real disasters by trying to do something else while I bake, thereby being distracted enough not to set the timer, or thinking that a couple of extra minutes won’t hurt anything (when I haven’t even checked on them). Believe me, it matters. A good recipe is merely where you begin – it’s no guarantee of a good cookie.

*Most recipes call for an oven temperature of 350, but I’ve found that 300-325 (only you know your own oven) with a longer baking time (and turning the tray) gets better results.
*Shortening was listed in the original recipe, but I rarely use it and find that vegetable oil works great. It’s perfectly fine if you prefer it, but the texture and taste will change some.
*If you don’t have any cream of tartar, you can substitute 2 t. baking powder and eliminate the baking soda. This will change the flavor a little.
*I learned from America’s Test Kitchen to NOT overmix cookie dough after adding the flour. It will result in a cake-like texture, rather than a cookie one. Before learning this, I knew that sometimes I got that fluffy texture, but I didn’t know why. Just mix thoroughly, then stop.
*The original recipe calls for equal parts of cinnamon and sugar to roll the balls in, and sometimes I do but it will make them very cinnamony and darker.
*You don’t have to use parchment paper. You can lightly grease or Pam the baking sheet, but it will change slightly the way the cookie browns. I’m not much on buying speciality stuff for the kitchen, but I really like the result I get when using parchment paper. Before placing the paper down, I flick a few drops of water onto the baking sheet. This helps to prevent the paper from sliding around and landing the cookies onto the floor. This has happened to me.
*Placing them 2″ apart will allow them to expand without melding into each other.
*Another important lesson I learned by myself (and it was confirmed by America’s Test Kitchen) is to never bake more than 1 tray at a time. I don’t know why this is true, I just know that it is. For years, I’d bake 2 sheets at a time (or more if they were smaller) thinking that it would save both time and energy. Then each tray would turn out differently and some were just awful. As I’ve said before, science is not my forte and this sounds like a physics question. I’ll ask my husband.
*They’ll be puffy when you remove them from the oven, then deflate slightly.
*This part is just observation, not science: I can’t tell you exactly how long to bake them. This morning when I checked them after the second timer, they were still doughy in the middle and I put them back in for another 4 minutes, then they were just right. I had to break one in half to check it. To me, the best texture for Snickerdoodles is slightly crispy on the outside and chewy (not underdone) in the middle. There again, bake them to your own preferences.
*Sliding the parchment paper off of the cookie sheet prevents them from continuing to bake a little after removing from the oven. Placing them on a drying rack helps them to cool without drawing moisture to the bottoms and becoming soggy or heavy.

Now, let’s get the coffee started.
(This post linked to Food on Fridays http://annkroeker.wordpress.com/)

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A Wonderful Day

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“As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,” says the LORD, “from this time and forevermore.” Isaiah 59:21

Last Friday, I had a good day. A really good day. Our daughter-in-law had sent us a message that it would be Grandparents Day at the boys’ schools. The first event was scheduled for 7:45, the second at 11:30. We live about an hour away and I was not only thinking about having to leave at 6:45 a.m., but what I would do to occupy myself at that time of the morning until I met my husband for the second one. (He had to work until 10:30 and couldn’t make it to the kindergarten event.) I shouldn’t have been concerned about the details. The Lord orders our steps and I couldn’t have planned the day any better.

First of all, I’d forgotten how much I love being out in the early morning. My dad was an early riser and when our family left on a trip, it was at 4:30 a.m. And that has remained a part of me. You just can’t beat watching the sun come up for a sense of ….. well, I don’t know, but I love it.

So the drive up was pleasant. And getting to be with Liam as he started his school day was really wonderful. He showed me a picture he’d drawn in his notebook of our home. He is fascinated that our mobile home used to have wheels under it, so he drew a picture of it with me driving it. It’s not a motor home, but I guess that’s how a 6 year old processes a house on wheels. His teacher was looking at me kind of funny. I really hope it was something else and not that old trailer house/white trash stigma. But if it was, it was. As William F. Buckley liked to say, “Well, there you are.”

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The celebration at Liam’s school was for each of the attending grandparents to read a story to the class. I asked Liam to choose one and he picked “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut” by Dr. Seuss. I’ve read a lot of Dr. Seuss books but I’d never seen this one. It was a great choice because it was about reading and Liam knows how I love to read. In fact, you could say that my decorating style is Books.

It was a nice little story and the children were so attentive and still. There had been 4 other readers and I was the last; they had been quietly sitting in their places for about 30 minutes by that time. I was very impressed at how well-behaved they were. Then hugs and it was time to go.

Parking at that school is very inadequate and I had parked across the street in front of a house, blocking the mailbox. I know, I know; that’s bad – but I knew that I wouldn’t be in there long enough to cause a problem for the mailman. Remember it started at 7:45 a.m. When I went out to the car, the homeowner was sitting out in her yard and said “hello” to me. I replied and apologized for parking there and she said it was okay, she knew there was an event at the school that morning and I wouldn’t be there all day.

Sweet and Spicy Pecans
She’s a widow and seemed lonely and we ended up talking for 45 minutes and it was very interesting. When I left I decided to go to a local bakery and get some coffee and pastry for breakfast. I took my treasures (because that’s just how they tasted) downtown and parked in front of the courthouse to eat and read my book. Must not have been much legal business going on, because there were lots of empty parking spaces.

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About an hour before I was to meet Joe, I went to the Dillard’s to get some new sandals. With fall here, I figured they would be on sale, which they were and I was able to get 3 good pairs. My feet have been bad all my life (even when I was very thin) and I need good shoes. They last me a long time. The pair I wore into the store I had bought 10 years ago in Windsor, England. But with fall coming on, I wanted some black ones, too. A very nice young man waited on me and that is always nice. A pleasant clerk greatly affects whether I return to shop at a store.

Then it was time to meet Joe and we drove to Elliot’s school. Their celebration was an ice cream social. We retrieved Elliot from his classroom and went back up to the room by the office for the party. It was fun being there with all the other grandparents and kids, but boy, is that school PC (politically correct)! It fairly oozed out of the staff. I didn’t notice it as much at the other school (my PC antenna is finely tuned).

Elliot didn’t seem to be paying any attention to it and I hope he never does. He was a lot more interested in being with his Grandpa. Now, I know that Elliot loves me, but he LOVES his Grandpa.

We returned him to his classroom and then went to lunch.

It was a really good day.

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Chautauqua

1905chautauqua waxahachie

When was the last time you saw a Victorian fashion show?  Went to a pie social?  Heard a concert by the Levee Singers?

If any of that sounds good to you, then come to Getzendaner Park in Waxahachie, Texas on Sept. 26 and see all this and more at the beautiful, round pavilion.  Built in 1902 for the princely sum of $2,750, it was designed to seat 2500 people for Chautauqua meetings.  With the windows raised, it became an open air auditorium and overflow crowds – sometimes numbering over 2,000 – would gather around the sides, eager to hear the programs. It is now included on the National Register of Historical Buildings and Sites.

The Chautauqua movement began in 1874, when a Methodist minister had an idea to help solve the problem of cultural isolation of rural Americans.  John Vincent and businessman Lewis Miller organized a series of meetings  in a campground setting.  Storytelling, music, lectures, political reform topics (such as child labor laws, temperance, prison reform, women’s suffrage) humor, entertainment and sermons were provided.  The meetings were popular and it ignited a movement that spread all across the country from the original site in Chautauqua, New York. Among the original headliners were William Jennings Bryan, Will Rogers and the U.S. Marine Band. At it’s peak in the 1920’s over 45 million Americans were attending. Then with improved availability of transportation, radio and the movies, the national culture changed and attendance dropped off dramatically.  A few communities have had continuous meetings all these years.  Waxahachie, Texas revived their movement in 2000 with an annual one day meeting, each year choosing a new theme.

This year, the planners are highlighting the history and importance of  King Cotton.  Saturday, September 26, 2009 the theme will be Cotton:  the Fabric of a Community and will include a historical fashion show, a lecture on Dressing the Victorian Woman, a book signing, hands-on demonstrations and exhibits, 2 concerts plus sing-a-long music, a catered dinner and pie social and more.

Two years ago my husband and I attended and loved it.  The programs are well planned and interesting.  That year the subject was the Texas wind and one of the lectures was by a Channel 8 meteorologist.  Now, anyone that knows me can tell you that science is not one of my favorite subjects, but that man completely held my interest (I learned why weather reports vary from station to station and how they are wrong so often.)

Here’s the Waxahachie Chautauqua website . They’ve included a wonderful slide show of the auditorium and last year’s event. Even if you can’t attend, I recommend viewing the pictures. As you can see from the photos, it’s a beautiful building.

It doesn’t list the admission price (which won’t include the dinner and probably not the evening concert) but they do have contact information. If I remember correctly it was somewhere between $10 – 15 per person. And for all you get, that’s a bargain.

Waxahachie  Christmas 2008
This is a photo I took during their Christmas home tour last year.

Merely driving through Waxahachie is a treat. The Victorian houses are lovely, the courthouse a treasure. Even if you’ve never been there, you may have seen the town if you’ve watched Places in the Heart, Tender Mercies, The Trip to Bountiful, Pure Country, 1918 Walker Texas Ranger,and a whole lot more. Most of Horton Foote’s stories were filmed there. A more complete list of the movies made there is at this website .

And incidentally, if you’re asking for directions, it’s pronounced Wocks-uh-hatch-ee. I liked to never learned that after we moved to Texas.

Hope to see you there.

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Beauty from the Heart

Beauty from the Heart

“Femininity is not dead. It just needs to be reclaimed.”

My friend Patti coordinated a Saturday morning women’s retreat for her church and invited me to attend. The focus was A Woman’s Heart, both spiritual and physical. There were 2 speakers, women at both ends of the age spectrum – an older lady who spoke about heart health and her recent surgery, and Hannah, an 18 year old young lady who spoke on purity of heart and what God requires of us.

Hannah is incredibly well-spoken. Her presentation was polished and focused. At the beginning she explained that she was sharing the concept of purity from a scriptural foundation – only God is pure. She closed by explaining that Jesus, in His purity, made himself the sacrifice for our sin and we may only come into the presence of the Father through Him. “The only Person worthy of our boundless adoration is Christ Jesus. No one else can even begin to compete.”

She and another girl, Lindsey, are carrying the message of femininity and faith to modern young women. They can be contacted through their website .

It contains a blog (I particularly appreciated her post from Aug. 24, 2009, titled “Victory Already Achieved” which included a poem written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer), bios of Hannah and Lindsey, their core beliefs and session topics.

Girls are inundated in this culture with degradation; it has become the norm. It is indeed refreshing to be reminded that we were created for something better.

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