Monday, August 31, 2009

You Can Do Magic: Part Three

So you might be wondering what happened with my staining project since I haven't written about it in almost a week. We have had rain, sometimes a little and sometimes a lot, every day since last Tuesday. Finally, today there was some sunshine, so I put one more coat of stain on the porch. I'm starting to like the color more now that it has had some time to cure. It still isn't ideal, but I think that it looks a lot better than it did before.

I also had a chance to stain a few spots on the stairs that I missed before, so here they are, looking a lot better. The one part that isn't stained or painted at the top of the stairs will be painted the same red as the porch floor. I had to wait for the porch floor to dry today, so I plan to paint it tomorrow. Once that is finished, this should all look a lot better.

Wish me luck and no rain for a few days so that I can finish these projects!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reminiscing: Good Housekeeping's Appetizer Book

...and I'm back, gentle readers, with another example of the fabulous fare of the days of yore.

This time, I present Good Housekeeping's Appetizer Book:

I will apologize now for the wonky scans. Apparently my scanner was drunk and some of the images are strangely oriented.

This book is full of "irresistible canapes, hors d'oeuvres and nibblers." I do not care for the word "nibbler" in reference to food and this cookbook really overuses the term. By the way, I have to mention the odd "tablescape" on the cover--are those "cracker kabobs" sticking out of a pillar candle that is sitting in a base full of fake flowers? Fancy...

So, on the first page of recipes, we have the following: "Garlic Cheese Dunk," which contains something called "garlic cheese" that I have never heard of, "Speedy Tuna Dunk," which is a combination of butter, olives, and canned tuna, and my personal favorite, "Peanut Butter-Catchup Dip." Peanut butter mixed with catchup with corn chips to dip? Is this a joke? Can you imagine the color? The texture? Ugh.

The next page offers a recipe of equally squicky color: "Avocado Cream Cheese Dip," which not only contains fresh avocado and cream cheese, but also milk and green food coloring. And then there is the picture and recipe for "Pineapple Dip-Its." You know it's a party when the hostess brings out some canned pineapple stuck with toothpicks and some piles of cheddar cheese and flaked coconut for dipping.

I really like the name of the recipe on the top left corner: "Carra-Chee Appetizers." This one includes my favorite: frankfurters.

Also, there is a recipe for "Cress and Curry." This seems like they ran out of ideas on page six and had to think of something to fill the last two inches on the page. Dip water cress into "mayonnaise stepped up with curry powder."

The people in the illustration really seem to be enjoying the "Deviled Ham and Cheese Spread," "Peanut-Ham Spread," and "Surprise Cheese Whip." Again, why were people so into deviled ham in the 50s and 60s? And in what world does deviled ham taste good with chunky peanut butter, mayonnaise (or salad dressing!), and dill pickle?

You just have to read this one for yourself--the phrase "stick and pick" should draw you in anyway. Click on the image to enlarge it.

The things these people do to avocado. "Avocado Crunchies" are cubes of avocado rolled in French dressing and then in crushed potato chips. How horrible! The textures, the flavors...the textures... And then, of course, you have your "Salami Kabobs" which include salami, stuffed olives, and canned pineapple. All three are delicious on their own. Together on a "pick"? Not so much.

Two things on this page. First, "Ham-Grape Pickups," which are pieces of deviled ham on crackers topped with sour cream and half of a grape. Seriously? Second, "Twin Bars," which are pieces of "process cheese" rolled in caraway or poppy seeds or parsley served with pumpernickel (why waste good pumpernickel?) and bottled mustard.

Below you will find recipes including frankfurters! My favorite on this page is the recipe for "Pineapple Sausage Kabobs." The instructions sound like something Father of Ken would write (he tends to put things in the most basic terms possible): "With each pick, stab a pineapple chink, then a piece of sausage." Then, you put them in a chafing dish full of hot pineapple juice to serve. Yummy.

Glamour shot! At the top, we have "Avocado Cream Cheese Dip" (the one with the green food coloring) then, below that, "Ham-Grape Pickups" which look as good as they sound. On the board is a "Chili-Cheese Log." I dislike the word "log" in reference to food as much as I dislike the word "nibbler" and I also think that they should have cleaned the knife next to the log before they took a picture.

On this next page, the authors got creative. They tell us how to make "Bologna Lillies" and "Planetary Frankfurters." You can read the recipe for the frankfurters for yourself and then take a look at the photo on the left--they do look tasty.

If you look closely at the picture, you can see the "Bologna Lillies" in the top left section of the serving dish.

I scanned this page for Leah:

Pickle boats! I love to make my food look like a sea faring vessel! Plus, you can use salami to make a sail!

For the next birthday you celebrate, how about a tasty "Hors d'Oeuvre Birthday Cake"? I mean, who wouldn't want a cake made from pumpernickel bread layered with cheese, olive spread, deviled ham, and liver pate and then frosted with cream cheese? Mmmmmm... I believe that the next birthday person in my life is Maile. I wonder if this would make it to Kansas in one piece?

Since I got you thinking about Christmas earlier this week, I wanted to offer an idea for any of your winter/holiday gatherings: "Snowman Appetizer Server." This is simply two plastic foam balls (one large and one small) purchased from the dime store, fastened together, and then topped with a "jaunty paper hat" (see the photo below).

This is so weird I don't even know where to begin. This is the photo on the back page of the book--shrimp on "picks" stuck randomly into a basket? How does that work when everyone is trying to get a shrimp? Does one person hold on to the basket while the others have a tug-of-war over the shrimp?

As I end, I have one more question. Do you think that when people went to these parties where the hosts served food on "picks" and "sticks" and they got really drunk there were ever any serious accidents like people getting stabbed in the eye or slipping on a random glob of deviled ham that someone dropped on the floor during a game of Twister or accidental "pick" swallowing and subsequent choking? This kind of party with "picks" and "sticks" seems potentially dangerous.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

You Can Do Magic: Part Two

Day two of the staining process is now complete. This is the porch this morning after drying for about 20 hours. It got a lot lighter than I thought it would.

I got two coats of stain on both the porch and the stairs today. I ended up choosing "Redwood" to match the little patch of siding that you see to the left of the front door in the photo below. I couldn't find a stain that matched the house, so I tried to at least match that little patch. Here is the porch after two coats of stain, which I am leaving overnight and then plan to hit one more time to even it out.

I'm not crazy about the color, but I'm not sure that I can do much better. I'm hoping that once I get the planters and rug back on the porch, it will look better.

The stairs after two coats of stain:

I'm planning to paint that horizontal line that looks gray at the base of the porch tomorrow when I do the touch up work on the porch floor with the red paint. I noticed a few spots after I took this picture that I missed, but in general, it looks pretty good.

Again, I don't love the color, but I only have to live with it for another year or so. The whole idea here is to neutralize the treated lumber surfaces so that they blend in more with the rest of the house for when we put it on the market.

Stay tuned for the painting of the back porch floor (again) and the third coat of stain on the front porch tomorrow. For now, most of my body is "Redwood" in color and I am headed for the shower to become a white girl again.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Do They Know It's Christmas?

Once again, courtesy of Mrs. Disgustington's inherited catalog subscriptions, I have some ideas for those of you gentle readers who want to get started on your Christmas shopping.

First, of course, you should decorate with such klassy and fantastic items as this bathroom set:

And this computer monitor garland (I know that I always scatter some pine cones and poinsettias around my desk during the holidays):

Your dog certainly won't be embarrassed to wear one of these (look at the dog on the right, Leah!):

Ah, one of my favorite holiday hybrids: cows and Christ:

To go with your computer monitor garland, how about a USB powered Christmas tree?

Someone who works for this particular catalog must be a Steelers fan. The following are several gift ideas that I included for Mrs. G's daughter.

The snowman family:

The desk clock:

The autographed football:

Wallets OR checkbook covers!

The desk set:

Perhaps a nice throw blanket?

If nothing else has tempted you so far, surely these garden lights will:

A wall clock for the new kitchen?

Official NFL musical ornaments!

For the next Superbowl party:

More klassy krap for your desk:

A tote bag:

The official Steelers inflatable chair:

You're welcome ;-)

I had to include this only because these poor children are being forced to ride a sub-par version of the RollerRacer, which Brother of Ken and I had in the 80s. That was an awesome toy, especially coasting along the uneven sidewalks of our 100+ year old neighborhood.

For your superhero-loving young one:

How about a nice neon table lamp to accentuate your game room?

I'm just guessing, but this looks like it would be about as good an idea as my father's uncle (or someone) giving my dad and Uncle of Ken real bows and arrows for Christmas when they were children.

Marshmallows can move, baby!

This is just gross:

So is this, the "Butt Station:"

And now, for one of my favorite holiday gift categories: wildlife/hunting, which you can package beautifully in these camouflage gift bags. Won't those be hard to find under the tree?

I love a nice deer figurine, especially when they look like the kind of deer that have taken some kind of leg and antler enhancement drugs:

For that special hunter in your life--and the belt is reversible!

If that special hunter already has a wallet and a belt, perhaps he or she would enjoy this rifle furniture:

Yeah. Yee-haw! That would be my reaction upon opening this crap on Christmas morning.

For anyone who is looking to redecorate a bathroom, but can't decide on a theme, how about wild horses?

Did someone put new dishes on his or her Christmas list this year? Choose between deer, bears, or horses--or, better yet, get all three and mix and match!

It isn't easy to find decorative doorstops these days:

And, finally, how about a set of wrestling-themed collapsible chairs?

I hope you saw something that you couldn't live without. Unfortunately for my family, none of these items are on my Christmas list this year, so they'll have to look elsewhere for gifts for me.