How long has it been since you’ve written a letter — an actual pen to paper letter. For me it’s been forever.

My mom has sent me a couple since we’ve moved into our new place. And can I tell you, the excitement of seeing them in the mailbox can not even match a bold number next to ‘Inbox’ indicating you have a new email. Well, sometimes it can… if you’re eagerly awaiting a reply from someone. But the majority of the time, a handheld physical letter tops my list.

on one of the clippings, she wrote “don’t be mad, ryan, for sending this article”. it revolved around decorating with antique photos (of strangers). he forgave her.

Maybe it’s the knowledge that someone took the time to find paper, handwrite a message (even though their hands probably ached from a lack of keyboard), included newspaper clippings (in my mom’s case), and paid 42 cents to send it to you. There’s a sense of connectedness there, one that I so appreciate.

She even found an old notebook page with a printed checkbox at the top stating: “Check Box When Assignment is Completed.” And I bet you she waited until the closing of the letter before she checkmarked that puppy. She’s an oldest, always following the rules.

So my goal is to start writing more letters. Don’t be surprised if I ask you for your address …and you may just get a little something in the post.

Around the dorm…

Thought I’d give you a tiny update on my decorating is coming along in the dorm aka our current living situation. A couple items have joined our family and I love them to pieces.

I wanted a way to display the postcards I’ll be collecting and found this diner ticket holder. It’s not vintage. In fact, it’s brand new and, I don’t know why, but that always kinda makes me ill. Not that I have anything wrong with new things, I’m just a bit… competitive? Even with prices. Could I have found this at a garage sale, an estate sale, on ebay?

So until I find more postcards, I’ve intermixed some of my favorite photos that will change periodically. I love how, in the photo above, the woman’s husband is gazing down at her while she plays the piano. I wonder what song she’s playing. Is it fast? Slow? Fluffy? Gritty? Look at the candle holders attached directly to the piano!

And then the one below. Sigh. This was probably me in my past life. I always end up having my photo taken at the most inopportune moments. I mean, let the woman get up first. Jeez.
The rest of the photos I’ve thrown into a wire basket in case anyone (me) wants to dig around for awhile. I notice something new every time I pick one up.

In other areas of the dorm, I’ve finished my pan/wine bottle/glass holder section. Can I say how unashamed I am that I completely stole the idea of housing wine glasses in a box? So unashamed. I saw it here and thought it would be a perfect solution.
As we wandered an antique store, I found this box for 5 bucks, tucked it under my arm, and dove for the register. Get out of my way people! I have glasses to put in here.

The photo in the frame is actually one of an old-coworker’s cards that she now sells at arkansas state parks. I was cheering her on as she marketed her passion to park directors.
Get-up was a soda company back in the 1930s. How cute are the bubbles around each letter? And the original nailing in the metal around the handles.

Slowly but surely. Things are coming together.

Impulse Buy

Books are one thing I don’t feel guilty buying. Ever. And I’m lucky to have a husband who agrees. I mean, my goodness, we have books just waiting in our amazon shopping cart for us to push “buy now.” But we have to control ourselves.

So when I find a little treasure that is also really affordable, I get all giddy.

We were rummaging through bargain bins at our local bookstore when I found a neat art book. Elementary to some of you, but to me? Magical.

It’s called Art Masterpieces in 3-D.

On each page it describes a particular piece of art. And then you see two miniatures of it on the following page. Why?

Because then you flip up the front cover to look through the built-in spectacles. It’s so neat! And it’s when I’m oohing and aahing over 3-D art in the middle of a busy bookstore that I realize how I need a 10-yr old beside me. Sometimes I purchase things just because I hope my future kids will enjoy them with me.

But R suffices for now. Thank goodness he gets me, otherwise I’d be very lonely.

Stayin’ Put.

It’s nice stayin’ put sometimes.

  • we camped out at a little state park.
  • made wishes on stars and roasted marshmallows.
  • thumbed through a thick book while locusts buzzed above.
  • slept in our new “sweetie pie doubler”.
  • wore socks and sandals without shame around the morning campfire.
  • went on a hike and breathed in a waterfall. my nose was never happier.
  • found a FREE mid-century style vinyl chair on the side of the road. it’s ripped, but I will have it recovered. Ryan rolled his eyes only once, so the pick-up was a success.
  • shared a burger and malt at our local dairyette.
  • walked around the city cemetery to look at old tombstones and noticed many wives from the late 19th century without death dates listed. wondered aloud if maybe they are still walking around town? discussed whether people might think I’m one of them.
  • received a fun letter from my mom and belly-flopped onto the couch to read it.
  • made stove-top popcorn.
  • turned up the a/c and buried myself under a blanket to watch a pre-20th century period piece (genre according to netflix).
  • updated my blog

And you know what. We’re not even into Sunday.

Tonight is Jammed Packed Full of Excitement! Coffee’s in the back!*

**Warning: Many words and photos ahead. Read & Look at your own risk.**

*The title was actually said via mic by my sister A. She was trying to get these baby boomers pumped up.

So after many a secret email, decorations bought, and lies told directly to my parents, the night had finally arrived! We had told B&P that R and I were driving into town to take them out to dinner with the rest of the family. My sister, A, was the head planner and quickly sent L & me an email listing the top ten things NOT to do when planning a surprise. The first rule that topped the list said to not avoid talking about the day and the “plans”. So we took turns calling them, asking if they were exciiiiiiiited, since that’s what we’d ask every two hours anyway.

Then we turned paranoid.

Everything my parents said sounded like they may already know of the party and are playing along. My dad laughed and said “yeah right” when I mentioned how we were (exciiiiiiited) to take them out for dinner.

Yeah right? He knew.

We had to sneak into their home to steal some photos and other paraphernalia while they were visiting my brother in California. (ps: M & D – we wish you had been here!! We missed you.) I had the excuse off dropping of my table, but still, when they said “oh we were wondering who was in the house. No one ‘fessed up.”

‘Fessed up? They knew.

Then it got bad. My mom answers the phone “Hello?” Hello? They knew. “How are you, Carrie?” How are you? They knew. They knew, they knew, they knew.

But they didn’t. Oh, not by a long shot.

When they first walked in. I love L’s shoes.
So a few things happened through the process that made my heart hurt. First, I had messed up royally by suggesting to B&P that R and I would be arriving at their home before taking them out on Saturday. If that were so, how was I going to help decorate and cook my roll-ups?

I had to think of something. And fast. A would beat me up if I didn’t.

On Saturday morning, I called B&P and told them R had to go into work last minute and we didn’t know when we’d leave. In fact, we had arrived the night before and slept in our nephew’s bedroom. He has a full bed and we thought we were in heaven…not even bumping into each other all night like in our glorified twin bed.

But I had to call my parents again as soon as I “got on the road” and it had to be timed so that “we’d have to meet you at the restaurant. Wish is were different, guys! Muah!” I even dropped a few “I’m so annoyed right now” to mom so that it sounded believable. Carolyn annoyed? Very believable.

So relaxing.
But as I walked around the grocery store saturday morning with my sister L, my stomach (and heart) began to hurt. I really did want to hang out with them and L’s conversation with mom the night before didn’t help any.

First, she had called mom, P, while she was out grocery shopping for lasagna. A lunch for me and R. Ouch.

Then, L told me mom had mentioned about 5 times that she’s looking forward to such a relaxing evening. Relaxing. hmmm….

Father B. 40 years later.
I made my dreaded call, lied to my parents for the second time within 3 hours, made my 2000 pinwheel roll ups, and got dressed. We met up a couple hours prior to the party to put up lights, lay out table decorations, and set up the buffet. When R was asked to lay out the napkins, he put them on each table as if we were having a sit-down dinner. You know, instead of piling them at the beginning of the buffet. He almost got beat up. We were all nerves.

L left early to meet my parents at her home. Thank goodness too because they showed up 15 minutes early and she had to stall by trying on several different dresses and asking for everyone’s opinion. Nice save.

She was also in charge of driving them to the location. Our schtick was to scout out possible locations for my brother and (new) sister-in-law’s reception hall. L was supposed to just “swing by real quick”. Well, she did manage to get them to the parking lot and my mom out of the car.

My dad? Different story. I mean, the Chiefs game was on the radio and why would he need to give input on the space? So he didn’t. Well, he tried to stay put, anyway.

My mom watched as L insisted strongly that he should get out of the car. That’s when she thought something seemed strange. Dad and L went back and forth and finally he (probably) sighed loudly and got out. Then he saw the lights. And a party.

Heck no, he wasn’t going to crash a party just to check out a space. But he was outnumbered and was shoveled through the door.


The first thing he said: “I’ve got to go apologize to L.”
A surprise party just isn’t the same without a struggle. Love it.

{You can click on the photos to make them larger}
So my parents mingled with old friends and family. Some they’ve seen recently, others… years.

We managed to find the actual priest that married them 40 years ago. Father B. My mom used to think he was cute. I think he looks the same.

As the night went on, each of us girls had our microphone duty. (If a mic isn’t in our hands, we feel naked.)
  • Amy: Introduce Father B. Prayer. Toast.
  • Lisa: Roast.
  • Carolyn: Bouquet and Garter Belt toss.
In that order.

I’ll give you one chance to guess if it was raining that night or not.
A introduced B as planned and he said a really nice prayer for us. I videotaped it all and felt really disrespectful, but at the time didn’t care. I had a job to do.
Then we dug into cake… cake framed by photos of my parents sharing cake on their wedding day. Oh, and nametags.
Thus begins the replicating of their reception:

Look at dad’s face. Oh, how 40 years changes things!

Soon afterwards, the mic duties went south. As soon as the little ones were taken home for bed, L went up to start “the roast”.


You need to know my parent’s friends. They are loud, ballsy, funny, and sarcastic.

Well, I guess that’s how they always are in our memories of them hanging out with my parents. You forget how time can change energy level. Because tonight? They were quiet. Maybe the lighting was too bright. Yeah, that was probably it.

A few got up to speak, which we appreciated. Some were poignant and some were, well, confusingly funny.

One person brought up a basketball game in which the guys were playing. The speaker got side-lined with an injury and so the girls (mom) were asked to get ice. Well, they must have spent the majority of the time shopping or something because they didn’t get back until much later. And all the guys yelled at them. But he ended it with…. “and B chewed her out. [pause] They’re just a great couple.”

The segway made me laugh.

I think it made L nervous though because after he sat down, she asked for any more stories. Any one? Any one? (Ferris Bueller).

Nope, no one.

She then had the gall to cut into my mic time and immediately said “Okay!! All the girls get up for the Bridal Toss!” How dare she. But it was okay because we got some audience participation. Everyone stood up! And how appropriate that my mom’s good friend from high school caught it.

Next up? My dad. I couldn’t find a garter belt in time so we had to make do with a ribbon. He seemed to enjoy it.

My cousin’s fiance caught it. Then promptly put it around his head like rambo. Perfect.

Lastly, the first dance (for the second time.) Dad was okay with slow dancing (he always has a good strong arm). But then a fast song came on….

And that’s when his eyes turned red. Well, it could just be red-eye from my camera. But it might not be.

We were so happy to throw this party for B&P. They’ve been such a strong example for us growing up… and now, even more so, now that we know how difficult it is to maintain focus as a couple.

Through hard times, they leaned on each other. Through fun times, they laughed with each other.

Leaning and laughing. That must be the secret.

Cumberland Sauce

I am such a WEENIE!!!! I chickened out again and decided to focus on a sauce. K asked me the other night how I determine which recipes to make. “By the one that makes me cry least”, I said. They all really really frighten me.

Anyway, what I made tonight was a Cumberland Sauce. There were several different versions, so I went for the longest one. It makes about two cups and Joy (that’s what I’m calling her — the cookbook) says that it’s a “classic formula for cold ham and game (which includes squirrels). The sauce may be served cold. For quicker currant jelly sauces, see opposite.” Oh wait, forget that last part. You can’t see the opposite.

(click to make recipe larger) In this photo, there are two versions offered, I made the top one.

I laid out my ingredients, threw on my new (old — 1940s) apron, and went to work. Then I dumped flour on my face to up my self esteem.
Never did find red currant jelly and ended up replacing it with red plum jelly. Don’t ask me the basis for my decision. I have absolutely no idea, except that it looked the most curranty (whatever that looks like.)

Throw in all the spices and then add wine.

One for the pot….

…and one for the chef.
I’d upload a clearer shot, but this is a good representation of what I was seeing after 43 redo photos of me drinking from the bottle. If the flour didn’t help give me confidence to forge ahead, this certainly did. Well at the very least, it made me smile during the rest of the sauce-making. Permagrin Carolyn, that’s me.

Drop in the cornstarch mixture…

…along with grated lemon and orange rinds. Be sure to drop the whole fruit into the pot thirty times just to remind you to not drink while cooking.

And voila! There you have it. We bought some roast beef and drizzled the sauce over.

My thoughts? It wasn’t bad, but I think this is better suited for a fall/winter dinner. Again, purely preference, but the cloves gave it a distinct Christmasy vibe, which I love…around Christmastime. Other than that, I would try to make your own roast so that you can cut it up in thick chunks as opposed to the thin deli slices we have. Letting the sauce seep into the meat would make the dish that much tastier, I think.

Thanks again for following. One of these days I’ll bravely turn to the Meat section!

…and I didn’t know it.

Some people compare me to Maya Angelou or ee cummings, but I don’t let it get to my head. You should all know that, yes, I am… a poet. Full of symbolism and alegories, my poems are layered with intellect, beauty, and honesty.

Let me share one with you. This poem was written in Spring of ’08, in the midst of my Costco-buyin‘ large-Fiber-Bar-eatinTryin‘-to-get-into-shape-runnin‘ phase. I even shared a photo of it with you.
But I digress. Let’s just get to it. I don’t think I need to give a foreward. The written words speak for themselves:

Bones atrophied, lungs congested.
Head hair pulled in tight, leg hair not.
I run.

Blood pounding in my head,
Pumping to the beat of Weezer,
I run.

Two dachsunds run after me
Yelping. Caught by their leash,
I run.

Are there any excuses? I look around
And spy an untied shoelace.
I don’t run.

Scary man with hand in pocket
Grins and offers up a greeting.
I run. Fast.

Make it home, but forget about the
Fiber bar already eaten. Head to the bathroom.
I runs.

"Throwing a Fit" Pose – R’s Favorite

As part of our workout routine, we have to do yoga. R had never done yoga before and absolutely threw a gigantic fit during it the first time. I don’t think he likes to not be good at something and he’s just not flexible enough (yet) to conquer these poses. He tried so hard too.

He did well in the stretches…

And then fell apart later on. You can’t see his face, but he was growling under his breath. Every time he heard the phrase “straighten your legs” he about threw his (straight) leg into the computer screen.

Eventually, R threw in the towel and started using his yoga block to hold him up. It was a sad moment to watch. But not sad enough to not take a photo.


I kind of cheated with this first recipe, since I knew no stove burners nor oven sheets would be needed. Here’s the recipe. I modified it by removing the onion since R will not even sit in the same room as one. He can tolerate a green pepper, but just barely.

Just so we’re clear here, I’m no chef. But I like to cook, so you do the math. Yeah, I know. It doesn’t add up.
I lovingly placed all the ingredients out and bookmarked the Gazpacho page.

Then I started the prep work. We’ve been replacing out our knives little by little and currently do not own a chef’s knife. It’s been killing me, so I’ve had to make do with our serrated one…dragging instead of chopping.

The recipe said you could dice up the veggies or use a blender. I chose the blender, but later regretted it. The soup came out too pulpy. But this is purely your preference…I’m an extremist with soups… I want the soup creamy or I want crunchy bits. Nothing in between. And this was definitely in between. R, on the other hand, enjoyed the texture.

I poured the soup into a bowl and added the parsley. Does the parsley look chopped? Because it wasn’t. Chef’s knife just got added to my store list.

I think I’ll also add a new camera to that list too. If you didn’t read the title, would you have thought I was making chilli? I swear I had every light on too.

I had doubled the recipe to freeze some for later and used our extra ice cube trays to store the rest of it. If I want some later on, I can just pop out how ever many individual ice cubes I need and put it into the fridge to defrost. If it were a hot soup, then straight into a pot to reheat.

R broke our rule of not buying bread and brought home some french bread. Oh, it was so good. Threw in some ice cubes for an extra swirl of cold in your mouth, and there you have it. Gazpacho! My first Joy of Cooking recipe. Yes!


I thought I’d take you through my kitchen, since I’ll be in at least once a week. We’re still trying to think of creative storage solutions, so feel free to leave feedback and ideas. But please try not to be jealous of my glorious kitchen, it will be very unbecoming of you.

So you walk in from the living room and pass by random end tables that are housing about 1000 too many wine glasses. Do we have that many friends in Arkansas yet? For some reason I feel the need to keep them “on hand.” You know, just in case a party breaks out last minute.

And then you cross into the sink area. I’m sure the mirror was installed to make it look bigger, but it just accentuates how close the cabinets are behind you. So, in the end, you feel more claustrophobic than if no mirror were present.

What’s that drawing on the fridge?
Oh, just one of my favorite drawings by R. He actually is awesome artistically. His feet are exaggerated in this because I tease him of having “Froto feet”.

And then lastly, you turn around, bump into the stove and look out into the living room while making pancakes. There you have it. This is where the magic will happen.