spring cleaning…in august?

I’ve got my daughter’s homecoming to thank for my self imposed spring housecleaning…at the height of summer! 

Trying to figure out where I would put extra boxes of pasta…spaghetti, elbow macaroni, and shells…and salt and pepper dispensers…and oodles of boxes of different varieties of green tea…and multiple cans of spray starch and shaving cream…and on and on and on…made me decide to rip the house apart and start all over again. How far have I gotten? Don’t ask.



Actually, the kitchen is nearly done. The shelves in my pantry are organized. Wonder of wonders! No more stacking boxes of tea on top of one another so that it was difficult to know what I had. I’ve cut apart the boxes, so that the tea bags are fully visible and labeled. There’s my husband’s “go to” green tea with lemon, and my personal stash of sleep aids…decaffeinated green tea.

Then there’s…earl grey green tea…peach green tea…mango green tea…jasmine green tea…chai green…acai green tea…pink lemonade green tea…green tea with ginger, coconut and vanilla…and finally, yerba matta green tea. This last one was recommended by my chiropractor. I drank it once…and grew chest hairs!

Did you know that green tea is a great metabolizer? Three cups a day can help with weight loss according to some diet gurus. Now you know why I stick with decaf. I’d be swinging from the dining room chandelier otherwise.

In addition to the green variety, I’ve got…English breakfast…Earl Grey…coconut macadamia nut…mango passion fruit black tea…and oh, yes…just plain old black tea. Haven’t drunk that in years, but I keep it around just in case it comes back into style.

Trooping the colour - Kate

Then there’s the specialty of the house…not mine but the Empress Hotel in Victoria, BC. Their special blend of black tea which, you guessed it…I’ve yet to break open. I’m waiting for that special day…when the Queen comes for high tea. I don’t care which one it is…grandma or Cinderella. And you know when that’ll be…when h..l freezes over!

To top this all off, I’ve something which professes it will “sweeten” my mind…vanilla almond. I’d better drink a bucket of that when I’m done reorganizing my house…

What I did with the teas, I also did with the shelves holding the canned foods, the bottles of everything you can think of, and the pastas/rices and grains. In another area I was able to store all the family’s vitamins and supplements…except for my husband’s which are in the bathroom medicine cabinet. In order to do this I had to move some of my everyday spices, like salt and pepper, baking soda, baking powder and others of this variety to another cabinet. I’ve yet to get into my beloved spice drawer to clean up the mess left by a bottle of vanilla which spilled and sesame seeds that jumped out of the bottle because the cap wasn’t secured tightly. I wonder whose fault that was? Probably mine, since I’m head chef, besides being head housekeeper.

Today, Labor Day, I’ll be laboring in the adjoining dining room which has become a temporary storage area, meaning…it looks like a dump. 



My helpful hubby and daughter insert themselves wherever they can, meaning…wherever I think they’ll be able to do things as well as me. No ego here. Just the plain, honest truth. There’s no one who knows better where everything should go than the house boss. Don’t you agree, ladies?

So while you’re all picnicking and swimming and lazing about in the sun…think of me…slaving away in my castle…

…like the idiot that i am…


“an apple a day,” the costco way

From all I’ve read and heard, apples are one of the best fruits to eat, period! The old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is not a myth, according to experts like Dr. Oz. It provides the fiber needed to maintain digestive health, and the pectin in the skin of the fruit helps in the prevention of heart attacks. Apples are not my favorite fruit; I don’t think I have any.

Because fruit was readily available, more or less, depending on the generosity of others who “gave to the poor,” as a child, I preferred candy. Not on our family’s short list of  “must-haves,” it was a rarity. That’s why Halloween was high on my list of all-time favorite holidays; it still is. The difference now? I needn’t go house to house looking for handouts.  I can buy as much candy as I like, the kind I like. Eating as much as I like, is another thing. You know, older age= slow metabolism, and too much sugar= arthritic pain.

Helping me remain an arm’s length from my favorite “fruit,” is a tray of apples from Costco that sits atop my microwave. By far the most useful appliance in my kitchen, it’s also my “go-to” when I need reminding to do something like… eating an apple a day. Since our kitchen remodel a few years ago, I’ve stopped using the refrig as a bulletin board. Instead, the microwave serves as my reminder station, but only for important notices like, “Thurs., 9 p.m., Barb Walters/Oprah,” or “no more dog food” or “call cat-sitter.” So putting the apples ON the microwave means they’ll get eaten. If they sat anywhere else, they’d just get moved around, and eventually rot.

You’ll surely eat an apple a day, 

if you do it the Costco way,

just buy a whole tray,

and keep eating away.

It goes even quicker, 

if you share,

so share!!!…hugmamma.

mother-in-law, life lessons

My mother-in-law, in her 80’s, has taught me much through the 40 years I’ve been married to her son. We all get wiser with age and life experience, she’s no exception. I’m still trying to abide by her favorite piece of advice,  that it’s better not to speak one’s mind in anger, because those words can never be taken back. And she’s followed her own advice, without fail. 

The first encounter with my mother-in-law was when I phoned her son to invite him to a college prom. Shutting myself into a dorm phone booth, I repeated the speech I had prepared. “Hi! You might not remember me, but…” My heart raced in anticipation of hearing his voice at the other end of the phone. When I heard “her” voice instead, my heart stopped and I gulped. Expecting her to refuse my request, I asked for her son anyway. To my extreme delight, she asked me to wait while she called him. Hallelujah! My heart was racing again…

Since that day, my mother-in-law has shown nothing but support and love for my relationship, and marriage, to her son. Her generosity isn’t reserved for just us, it extends to her 11 other children as well, and her many, many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She never speaks unkindly towards any of us, or about any of us. She is a living lesson in self-restraint and compassion for others. 

Early on while dating my husband, I learned another valuable lesson from my unwitting mother-in-law. In those days, she was younger and feistier, and given to using a high-pitched, piercing voice when nagging her children about some undone chore or mischievous act. Who could blame her? With 12 kids to care for, I’d have taken a long vacation into the next millennium. I remember once witnessing her storm through the house, screaming the name of the villainous child, who quickly escaped out the back door. Those of us present glanced at one another with knowing smiles. 

That scene often came to mind while raising my daughter. When upset my voice dropped several octaves and my words were measured, as I reprimanded her for inappropriate behavior. The only time I screamed at her, my daughter stood in absolute shock near the kitchen table looking as though she had escaped her body, hovering overhead until the tirade was over. So learning what not to do from my mother-in-law, disciplining my daughter was less exhausting. But then again, the odds were in my favor having only 1 child to her 12. And God bless her, she went on to babysit many of her “moapunas” (grandchildren). I have yet to experience that pleasure. Will I even have the energy?

still learning, from her…hugmamma.