Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bouncing baby girl

NewbornIt was a mere six months ago when Maggie occupied this little spot in the middle of her bouncer.

Cute little thing, wasn't she?

These days, she's learned rock and roll with it! (And is cuter than ever.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Good gimmick

Advertising may be described as the science of arresting the human intelligence long enough to get money from it.

Stephen Leacock · 1869-1944

In 1989, my 5-year-old daughter fell for those alluring commercials for Go-Go My Walkin' Pup. Set to happy music, they featured a smiling girl dance-walking down the sidewalk with her charming toy dog, while onlookers admired the pair.Hasbro Go-Go Pup
Of course, Lori wanted one of those dogs ... and of course I foolishly shelled out forty bucks for one.

Lori quickly discovered that her new Go-Go Pup wasn't nearly as fun as the commercials made it seem. Fortunately, she and I learned an important lesson:

· Advertising is intended to deceive the consumer ·


To this day, I still respect the creativity of clever marketing. Although I think Apple's newest iPhone app is ho-hum, I was impressed with the various sensory elements of its one-minute promotional video, which make it seem as fun as the Go-Go Pup did to my little girl.

Slick merchandising:

  • By playing the best rock song of all time, it reaches teens to Baby Boomers.
  • The models' various ethnic origins, and even the patterned rug, suggest Ocarina's worldwide appeal.
  • Any idiot can play this thing, from a plain Jane or average Joe to a hash-pipe smoking hippie.
  • Never be lonely again! From the looks of this cozy group, the Smule Ocarina evidently encourages camaraderie and friendship ... right?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I say pecan, you say pee-can

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.

For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.

Edwin Way Teale · 1899-1980

Old-fashioned ingenuity:
Thanks to several pecan trees in my yard, I had the honor of inheriting my granddad's pecan picker upper. Although there's fancier and costlier gizmos on the market, I suspect this timeless design is still sold in county co-ops across Mississippi.
Granddad's pecan picker upper

Granddad's bountiful pecan harvests were a testament to this tool's usefulness. With his pecan picker upper in hand, he barely stopped long enough to pose for this photo before heading back out to gather more nuts:

Surrounded by a day's pecan harvest
C B Smith · circa 1988


Newfangled improvement:
Metal coffee cans were useful enough, but their heyday is over. Plastic containers like this one have a number of benefits to make the switch painless:

 mini-bin
  • Sturdier lids
  • Lighter weight
  • Doesn't rust
  • Easy-grip handle for toteability
All of which makes them (you knew this was coming)
the perfect pee can.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Uncle Hugh's Gorilla Beans

The Gorilla Beans motto:

It's gonna be a long night.
Whenever I receive word that Hugh's paying a visit, I check the pantry for ingredients to fix one of his favorite foods. Hugh likes this side dish so well that he even dreamed up its special name: Gorilla Beans

A new family recipe that's
sure to be handed down for generations

Gorilla Beans ingredients

This makes enough to feed a half-dozen or more hungry mouths, but seconds are allowed only for those who don't share a bedroom.

Special touches:

  • Slow warming in a cast iron skillet adds authenticity and gives dinner guests the impression that you've "cooked something" for them.
  • Combine the two bean varieties with painstaking care, as demonstrated below.

Move over, Emeril!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pore little thing

Crisis du Jour:

I was just trying to put the cat out!

But when I cracked the front door open a few inches, a critter flew inside. One that's bigger, faster and lots more frantic than a June bug.

Although I've admired this wren (or one like it) around the yard since last Spring, both the bird and I wanted it to return to the great outdoors.


Since timing was bad for a portrait,
this image is courtesy of Hilton Pond Center

The good news:
After the wren flew itself half to death, it sat on the floor and awaited its fate, where I captured it using my proven catch-and-release method. This worked on a lizard that I discovered indoors last summer, and also for my mother when she removed a varmint from her home last month:

  • Corral the animal under a plastic bowl.
  • Slowly and carefully to avoid injury, slide one of those thin flexible cutting mats underneath it.
  • Then slide a sturdy surface (like a large cutting board) under the flimsy mat.
  • Carry the corraled animal back outdoors where it belongs and set it free!
The bad news:
As I sat here composing the happy ending to this story, there was a loud KATHUNK from the patio. I glanced up to see a big ole bird of prey (either hawk or owl) sitting amongst the crabapples. It promptly took off for the woods, probably with the exhausted wren in its clutches.

As my little friend was being torn apart, I stepped out back and noticed a tiny cup of water I'd kept in its favorite container plant since July. Nature can be so cruel.

On a lighter note ...
As for the cat, it's the most fun she's had all month. Come to think of it, it's also the best physical exercise either of us has had since the last unwanted creature got in the house.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Again?

Crisis du Jour:

Another swarm of June bugs ... in October!

This current deluge isn't just annoying like its predecessors; it's downright dangerous. I didn't dare let the cat out for fear she'd be pummeled half to death. Some wise guy has swapped out one of the standard bulbs in the Bug Killer Fan with a black light, and I can't help but wonder if it's to blame for attracting these critters.

I realize that among the twigs and toad poop, it looks as though this speedy guy was the only survivor, but this new variety's hardy and he had plenty of company:

Maybe they're migrating south for the winter? (That's just my way of hoping they were here for only an overnight stay.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

In the spotlight

There's a new celebrity in the family ...

and it's my Daddy!

The lengthy story that appeared in Weeks Bay Reserve's recent Pelican Post newsletter was way too long to fit here, so I've omitted much of the bio, along with telltale identifying information (to discourage paparazzi and creepy weirdos from hunting him down). What's left are its most important points:

  • They're delighted he's arrived.
  • They've realized how fortunate they are to have him as part of the Weeks Bay Reserve team.
  • He's a treasured volunteer!
  • And I couldn't bear to remove that handsome mugshot.

Still too small to read? Click the image to enlarge
Weeks Bay newsletter - The Pelican Post

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shiver me timbers

Ahoy mateys, it's finally here!

Talk Like A Pirate Day

Founded in the 20th century by humorist Dave Barry, TLAPD has become as infamous as its creator. For how-to's, phrases, and even a handy Pirate Translator, visit the link below:

Old Salty Dog
Talk Like A Pirate Day

Lori dressed like a pirate for Spirit Week in 2002

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mirror, Mirror ...

Somebody's discovering her natural beauty:

A sweet face looking back at her
If you looked like this, wouldn't you
wanna stare at your reflection too?

Sunday, September 07, 2008

My granddaughter the genius

You gotta see this amazing video!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sonic's newest menu item

Huh?
While waiting to turn in to Sonic for a quick lunch, my eyes must have been playing tricks on me:
View from the street while waiting to make a left into Sonic

But no, they weren't ...

By the time I reached this point, I'd lost my appetite
Sonic's newest menu item:  The Anus Burger

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lessons learned

Crisis du Jour:

Poorly-stored Christmas treasures at the hands of an unwelcome guest in my attic

This ornamental elfin caricature of my daddy, complete with cute schnoz and name emblazoned on his pure heart*, has been the perfect touch to my parents' household each Christmas. I recently had to break the sad news that a hungry critter's ate it half up:

Someone thought this dough ornament was tasty
*Old family joke

In the hopes that others will learn from this mistake ...

My lesson:
Rubbermaid storage containers are worth the small investment.

My parents' lesson:
Anything put away for temporary safekeeping ... shouldn't be left at Carla's!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

MaggieMaggieMaggieMaggie

If I had known how wonderful it would be to have grandchildren, I'd have had them first.

Lois Wyse · 1926-2007

A morning nap in Gramma Tea's arms
Pretty in Pink

She's got the moves! And more fun to watch than Dancing with the Stars:

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pollenation and procreation


Today's inspiration:

Flowers and Butterfly by WDS

Daddy's recent
Alabama butterfly snapshot

My generous sister-in-law Pat, who brought a hardy Shasta Daisy from her Texas flower garden last Spring, deserves some of the credit for attracting this Pearl Crescent butterfly to mine.

Although its caught-on-tape behavior could be to attract a female, this territorial little butterfly is probably marking my back yard's only aster-family plant as his:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Homegrown goodness

It is difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.

Lewis Grizzard · 1946-1994

Besides a no-show peanut sprout prior to entering Kindergarten, this summer heralded my first attempt at growing something more nourishing than a flower garden. I confidently invested about twenty-five bucks in two tomato seedlings and supplies, including a newfangled upside-down tomato planter, then doomed the first plant to failure by placing it in a spot with limited sun exposure. Learning from my mistake, I cultivated the second plant in full sun, where it grew tall and sturdy. A week or so after being blown down by a summer storm, I harvested its only tomato:

Carla's first attempt at vegetable gardening produced this solitary tomato

After sitting on the kitchen counter for a week, my tomato ripened to an impressive deep red. Although it looked ready for eating, I was still apprehensive about doing a taste test. What if my tomato was bitter? Or sour? Or full of salmonella? Or harboring a microscopic parasite that will turn my internal organs to mush?

Finally, my curiosity got the better of me, and I sliced it open to reveal its perfect deep red meat. And it tasted as good as it looked.

No wonder this variety is named Beefmaster
(unretouched photo ... I promise!)
The Beefmastaahhh

Monday, August 18, 2008

80+ MPG

First trip out:

First trip back home:

Success!Helmet Head

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sentimental sandwich

The sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories.

Rachel Carson · 1907-1964

After scouring the pantry to avoid grocery shopping, I ended up fixing a tuna sandwich for today's lunch. Its not-so-sweet aroma brought back pleasant memories of the Sunday suppers of my childhood. My mother's recent trip down memory lane has inspired me to share it with my dedicated readers:

LIVING... MAEDEANS STYLE
A Special Sentimental Letter



Smells bad · Tastes good

Mae Dean's Sunday Night Tuna Sandwiches

· one can of the best tuna you can afford
· one hard-boiled egg, peeled and smashed into bits
· a dollop of Kraft Real Mayonnaise
· toasted white bread (wheat will suffice)
· You can include yucky pickles if you like that sort of thing.


Slicing the sandwich in half diagonally is recommended, since this makes it taste even better:

A diagonal cut makes a sandwich taste better

This really hits the spot, particularly with a great big glass of skim milk. I regret that I haven't carried on my mother's tradition with my own kids.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Souper easy

Note:

If preparing Campbell's soup is beneath you, skipping this post is recommended.

Despite my four-month career in cookbook publishing, I'm still known in this household as The Convenience Food Queen, and live up to the title. I recently dreamed up a Campbell's Combo that's similar to O'Charley's Stuffed Potato Soup ... maybe even better, since diners can't count on O'Charley's being the same from day to day.

O'Charley's Stuffed Potato soup ... by Campbell's

My version calls for two cans of Chunky Baked Potato with Cheddar and Bacon Bits to one can condensed Cheddar Cheese. The result is kinda thick, so add milk to taste. The secret to combining the soups is revealed in my first-ever cooking demonstration video:

Move over, Rachael Ray!

I typically cook a few strips of bacon til crispy in the microwave to get the kitchen smelling like I've "cooked something", then diners can crumble a little into their bowls. Since the Chunky soup is so bacon-flavored, this is more for crunch than taste.

Make enough for everyone to have seconds ... which they'll immediately regret, since this stuff sets heavy on the belly.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Redneck entertainment at its finest

A new twist on the current June bug genocide:
Finishing off injured beetles by running over them with a Micro-Mini Ford truck. (I prefer to think of it as putting them out of their misery.)

If only I owned a digital camera that allowed more than 15 seconds of video footage, this could be worthy of CMT's Country Fried Home Videos:

Watch an action demo:

During this short BKF film clip, at least two insects are swatted by this innovative device. That comes to over 200 kills per hour — an admirable record.

15-second Bug Killer Fan demonstration video

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Someone tell them it's July

Crisis du Jour:

The heaviest onslaught of June bugs this household's ever seen

Thanks to the one-of-a-kind, custom made Bug Killer Fan installed over my front porch, I awoke this morning to a collection of several hundred dead and dying June bugs lying underneath it. I hope the extra sweeping chore is rewarded by stepping outdoors after dark tonight without being pelted by a swarm of the icky critters.

All this from a six-foot-square area
Supper anyone?

Bad news / Good news:

  • June bugs taste bad: Even toads that try to eat them end up spitting them right back out.
  • Poor marketability: Although one website suggested roasting and grinding them into a medicinal bug soup, I suspect Carla's Organic June Bug Farm would be more trouble than it's worth due to high employee turnover.
  • The good news: Now I know what all those disgusting worms are that I keep digging up when I weed the flowerbeds.
  • More good news: There's no patent on the bug-killing gizmo, so feel free to copycat this design. And who knows, it might even end up being the best-selling As Seen On TV product of all time.

Complete with smeared guts and imbedded insect carcasses
Click on the image for an action demo
Introducing the one-and-only Bug Killer Fan

Hint: The secret of the BKF lies in its bug-attracting lights (standard bulbs) and its two-dozen-per-blade swatters. For maximum kills, set to High.

Monday, July 07, 2008

My cat snores

And she's evidently having a dream.

She doesn't snore all that loudly, so I recommend turning the volume way up for this:

video

Before you ask:
No, she's not pregnant, she's just fat.