Celebrating Catalogs

Window Shopping At Home

I know that some folks don’t quite understand how ‘catalogs’ and ‘window shopping from home’ differ from surfing the Internet shops and that’s okay. It might be a generational thing, I’m not sure.

When the holidays rolled around the usual catalog suspects arrived in my mail. Some are still lurking around the house waiting for our next meet up.

When I was growing up, long before there was even the smallest hint of a hint of anything near like the Internet, catalogs were the way folks shopped. Folks who did not have access to malls, large box stores (they didn’t exist then) or the “I’m bored, let’s go spend money!” trope. If it sounds like ancient history, in some ways it is.

The big ‘wishbooks’ would arrive in late October in time for families to do their individual and collective deep dives in order to order for the Holiday Shopping Spree. These things were Huge; several hundred pages. If you were lucky and lived close enough to a catalog center, you could pick up your order there – after you’d shopped the adjacent store. 🙂

Anything and everything you could imagine and a lot you had never thought about would be in those books.

Perhaps that is why I am still enthralled by the catalogs that come to me in the mail. Colors and patterns of things I might like to add to my home or have difficulty finding nearby to add to my home. Items that I really don’t need, but…

It is that ‘but’ that will get you every time. 🙂

I love getting the food catalogs just to see what they have on offer that I might be inclined to buy rather than make. Until I look at the prices and realize I can do it myself for much, much less. We won’t go to that space where the discussion is how long said items would have been sitting on a shelf in storage before shipping. There are a few things, however, that I like to order. I have a particular brand of cheese that I love to have on hand and the only way to get it is to order it.

One of my particular pet peeves is the way stores choose colors and styles based on the Latest Thing – whatever that might be. For those of us who don’t look good in the Latest Thing, this is Frustration squared.

Some catalogs, however, have items stocked that are in colors and styles that are flattering to me. And they don’t require a second mortgage or a car trip to acquire.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I do enjoy shopping on the Internet. Trust me several hundred (thousand?) hours have been spent meandering through all sorts of stores looking at all kinds of things.

It is astounding how retail has changed (for good and for bad) in just a few decades. There is great convenience in being able to do the kind of shopping today that would have been impossible not that long ago.

But somehow, it just doesn’t compare with sitting down with a cup of coffee and a catalog contemplating the possibilities.

Do you love catalogs, too? Let me know!

If you liked this article, I’d be thrilled if you would let me know by clicking the “like” button below. And don’t forget to share with your friends. The more the merrier, right?

Sundays With The Guys

I have to admit to a wonderful evolution to my weekend.

For quite a few months now, Sunday mornings have been spent with two great guys who take time to tell me what’s going on with them, show me projects they have been working on or are in the process of developing, share ideas and inspiration and show me around an area of the world I have been loving for longer than I care to contemplate.

Who are these amazing people? Luke Catleugh and Mr. Carrington, of course!

I’m not sure how I managed to discover Mr. C but he managed to introduce me to Luke and between the two I’ve discovered a new way of cooking, looked at upping my home decor game, and rediscovered the fun of, well, doing stuff.

Both upload YouTube videos at least once a week on Sundays, but often during the week as well. Their latest works include decor upgrades and shopping hauls in addition to a DIY project or two. Luke loves to cook which means I get a chance to see something other than the same old same old while Mr. C is pretty straight forward and laid back about what is basically a dump and go methodology in his slow cooker. Both give me food for thought.

And I am in love with the roof top garden at Mr. C’s house!

While this might seem a bit silly to some, for me it is a mini-vacation in a part of the world that I know very little about but find fascinating. And it comes every week!

If you have yet to discover these guys, are looking at a change, want to experience life from a different location, or are just curious, head on over to YouTube and check them out.

You can join me on Sunday mornings with my coffee. 🙂

Note: Upon further thought, I’m thinking it was Hermione Chantal who introduced me to Mr. C. Hermione is in the UK, but over on the Isle of Wight. Check her out, too!

Bits and Pieces

Or, A few things I want to share while I’m thinking about it.

I looked up today and realized that it is almost March, 2021. Totally blew my mind. It seems like we were just dealing with the holidays and then Winter decided to come and visit for a while.

Speaking of Winter: When I caught the weather report this afternoon, we were given a “wow” moment. One week ago today the temperature in my little corner of the world was -20 and today the temperature made it to 71 degrees. That’s an entire 90+ degree swing in seven days. Yikes!

Needless to say, all the white stuff accumulated during the past week is gone and while we may be looking forward to some rain in the coming days, it is nothing like what we have experienced.

Around here we spend Summer complaining about the heat and wishing for Winter’s cooler temperatures only to get to Winter and the snow with the attendant upheaval when we get too much of what we asked for.

I’ve been spending some time working on the newsletter, collecting recipes and ideas for future Pantry Magic collections. Dragging out cookbooks has been more fun than some might think. I found a few reminders of why I bought particular books in the first place. Hopefully, I’ll be able to actually make those recipes soon.

My latest grocery haul included a lovely pork roast. Yum! I can’t wait to season it, tuck it into my oven and add potatoes and carrots for a wonderful series of meals! Sometimes it is the simple foods that are the best.

Speaking of food, over on PlutoTV, the BBC Food Channel has added The Hairy Bikers to the lineup. The guys are investigating the Best of British Food. It has been quite an amazing journey.

I want to take a moment to thank you for taking the time to read the blog, send comments or “Likes” and share with friends. It means a lot.

Podcast Review: Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown

Podcasts are relatively new territory for me. Many years ago I was a regular listener to a quilting podcast, but for a long time there wasn’t anything that captured my interest enough to invest the time to listen. Something I’m hoping to rectify in the future.

I’ve been looking for interesting (to me) podcasts lately and came across this new venture from Mayim Bialik. You might recall her from “The Big Bang Theory”. Turns out Amy Farrah Fowler was played by someone with an actual PhD in Neuroscience. Who knew?

I did, but then… <shrug> 🙂

There has been a lot of talk about Mental Health lately. Unless you are someone with actual experience dealing with it for yourself or a family member, I think it can be a topic that is confusing and often a bit scary. Actually, I’m pretty sure that even if you are someone with experience dealing with it for yourself or a family member it can be confusing and scary.

While I’m still catching up with the episodes – as of this writing there are six – I have been impressed with the way the topics are presented, the effort to explain what might seem unexplainable, and, most importantly, the guests and their honest and real experiences. It says a lot about the trust in the room for this to be able to work the way it does.

There is a lot of material to cover and these podcasts are not short – the average is 90 minutes. Check out Mayim’s website: Bialik Breakdown. There you will find tons of information and resources and you have access to podcasts and YouTube videos as well.

Check out the trailer and see what you think:

I think you will find, as I did, that there is a lot of food for thought here.

Another Saturday Night

When I was growing up way back in the 1970s there was one particular tradition in our home that was rarely missed: watching “The Lawrence Welk Show”. The show began back in the 1950s and was a network staple for decades.

Every week, no matter what, we all sat down to enjoy an hour of great music, exquisite costumes and sets, familiar faces with beautiful voices and a rather eclectic collection of genres.

My mother, in particular, was adamant about the weekly visit. She worked nights and often caught a late evening nap around the time the show was on. Saturdays, however, came with the explicit reminder that we make sure she was awake to watch and listen from her recliner in the living room. We did. (She often fell into a nap, but Mom being Mom she was also listening closely.)

Now, I get that some folks find the entire idea silly and feel like the music was hokey and way out of date. Accordions? Polkas? Orchestra music? Dancing?

I look back and recognize that for a time, I too, wasn’t aware of the treasure the show was. I have a decidedly eclectic taste in music that I can trace back to those shows.

Thanks to Oklahoma Public Television, the shows are once again available in my area. I may not catch it every week, but I do go out of my way at times to be sure to sit back and enjoy the show. Don’t forget to explore Amazon. I just told Alexa to play “Lawrence Welk Music” and the results are amazing, beautiful, wonderful. Mom would be pleased.

If you are curious about the show itself, here are some things to explore:

One thing I’ve always admired about Mr. Welk was his ability to listen to his audience and give them the music they wanted to hear. His shows were well crafted and beautifully choreographed, too. They were Appointment Television before there was such a thing.

Every week we were thanked for joining the party and reminded of something that Mr. Welk always said:

“Keep a song in your heart.”

Lawrence Welk

I don’t know about you, but I think this is an excellent idea.

Is It Too Early To Look For Spring?

In my corner of the world, we have had Cold weather with bouts of rain and snow competing with the sun for some sort of warmth. While (so far) we’ve been lucky not to have had lots of snow, anyone who has been around here for long knows that there will be at least one more downpour of the white stuff before the end of March. That’s just how it is.

I recently came across an old (!) episode of America’s Test Kitchen which focused on two dishes prepared with fresh tomatoes. (Whimper) On top of that, I found a few recipes using that luscious fruit that I haven’t made in far too long. (Moan)

I look outside and the lawn, the part that is not mud, is not quite green, and there has been precious little sunshine to accommodate growing plants.

Yep, cabin fever coupled with winter boredom and we are at that point in time when contemplating a garden comes to the forefront.

Are you there, too?

Are you contemplating a vegetable garden this year? Are you thinking about flowers? I’d love to hear what you have in mind.

Oh, before I forget it: Happy February!

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Food Freedom – A Few Thoughts

When Alyssia Sheikh over at Mind Over Munch on YouTube announced her Food Freedom course back in December, I was intrigued. I’ve followed her for quite a while as she talked about food prep, grocery hauls, and a variety of diet and food plans.

Note: As of this writing there is less than one week left of the course. Check out Alyssia’s website for more information. The course is free with the additional course materials sent via email.

If you’ve been around here for long, you know I don’t follow ‘diets’ and I avoid fake food as much as Humanly possible. I have several decades of experience trying different food plans and have seen the damage caused by corporations who promote their ‘plans’ to ‘help you get healthy’ only to find that they provide just enough information to get you hooked (i.e. spend $) and make sure you are dependent long enough to make a profit.

There are some plans that are actually sound, but the reality for most people is that nothing will work if the person using the plan isn’t connected, and committed, to actually engaging in the plan.

The problem is, many people have no education on how to actually engage and utilize all the information and options available so they can make the choices that will actually help them toward their goals.

Alyssia has shared her journey to heal her relationship with food and included sound research and experience to help us reconnect with ourselves.

The information is interesting and thought provoking. The tools are helpful and useful. Will they all work for everyone? Probably not, but here’s the thing: One Size Does Not Fit All. Or, take what you need and leave the rest.

Years ago a major health carrier’s advertising was based on the idea that ‘you know your body better than we do’. When you stop and think about that simple statement, it is very profound. And, for some folks, damn scary.

Personally, I’m a stress eater. Things get a bit tense and I head for the chips. Or the bread. Or the chocolate. Or the [ fill in the blank ]. I also enjoy food. I like eating good food and I can go really simple or really complicated. Couple this will a love of cooking and you get the makings of a potential disaster. Except…

I prefer simple meals made with food that I get as close to the farm as possible. I avoid chemicals and long distance hauling of produce.

Understanding that I have triggers that can goad me into putting on the pounds and learning how to deal with those triggers helped me maintain and not over eat.

Learning how to cook helped me control what I ate and more importantly gave me an arsenal to combat the convenience food quicksand that not only threatened my health but my bank account.

I’ve watched all the videos to date and found lots of food for thought that has been helpful not only in learning to handle the Mind-Body Connection, but in developing a life style, not a diet, that I can live with and benefits me.

If you are tired of the diet roller coaster, if you want to find tools that will help you actually achieve your goals rather than feed someone else’s pocket, I suggest you check out the information on the website. The videos are there along with additional information that will help you.

And, best of all, it is free.

A Change of Pace

Or, a shift in media can make a huge difference.

I’m one of those people who grew up listening to the radio. Which, when you consider where I lived at the time, was a feat in itself. Way back in the mid to late 1970s living in Northwest Arkansas, getting signals for TV or radio was an iffy proposition. And that was before all the build-up that would impede them even more than before, not to mention waaaaaay before that thing called ‘cable’.
I was lucky to be able to get the CBS radio affiliate out of Chicago, which meant that I was able to listen to the “CBS Radio Mystery Theater” when it began. Awesome!
It also meant that we had 3 – yes, three – TV stations: CBS, ABC, and NBC. PBS was on the UHF band and not so easily acquired.
Radio was an interesting collection of a variety of music genres, some occasionally off the wall commentary (think ‘Bob and Ray’) and the occasional treasure of Old Time Radio shows. I have a vivid memory of sitting down to a Sunday lunch while listening to an episode of “Fibber McGee and Molly” coupled with an episode of “Jack Benny” that was broadcast from somewhere in Kansas.
I still listen to the radio. Today, however, my tastes seem to run more toward vintage radio shows or quieter easy listening stations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed American OTR, but when I discovered Pumpkin FM from the UK, I found a huge variety of material that I’d never heard of before combined with a few things that had come to our shores via PBS and the Britcoms they carried.
For example, I’ve recently come across the British version of what we know of as “Three’s Company” and “Sanford and Son”. Both series were developed from the UK shows.
I’m also dipping my toe back into the world of Podcasts. A few years back I listened to a great one that focused on quilting. Another favorite was a limited series that focused on the history of food via the spice trade. Fascinating!

What are you listening to?

Giving Yourself Permission

Bella Cat is having A Day.

After the last couple of days full of rain and noise outside, plus some Serious Playtime inside, today Bella can be found in her spot by the window in the Library, one paw draped across her eyes, dozing.

She is tired. In need of quiet. And who could blame her?

I find myself envying the ease at which she takes on her own self care. She is very capable of announcing when she needs a cuddle and a hug – something she has had a lot of lately. But there are times when enough is enough and she finds a nice quiet spot to just be.

I think we could all take a lesson from such a cat, or dog if you are lucky enough to have one around.

So many things we do are by habit. They are the routines we live by, or at least attempt to. 😉

Sometimes, however, those habits are not fulfilling, not pleasing, not even enjoyable. A few simply are not necessary at all.

As we enter the Holiday Season it is well worth rethinking some of those habits, aka: ‘traditions’. “But we always …”

Be honest, those last three words just popped into your head and/or out of your mouth, right?

I know. Been there, done that. Really.

Habits and traditions can be fraught with all sorts of emotional landmines. They don’t even need a pandemic to emphasize them.

What would it be like to have one holiday season without all, or less of, the drama and trauma and stress?

The funny thing about traditions is that many were started not by a choice but by a need. There is an old story about how every Thanksgiving just had to include Great Granny’s ham made in Just The Right Pan. The grandkids had no idea why, they just went along with it for, well, decades before someone asked about it. Turns out the extremely special pan was the only one that the original ham would fit in.

When I was growing up, my mom and her sisters hosted the Christmas gathering at each home. They each took on a year with everyone meeting at that house. There were lots of people (adults & kids) around for an insane 48 hours and then people went home to meet at the next aunt’s home the next year, etc. This made sense in a way to keep the holiday together but after the kids grew up and people passed away, the tradition also died out.

What was served never changed, either. No matter the health issues or age or whatever. The Meal, huge as it was, never changed.

That couldn’t fly far with some of the food allergies and other health issues around today.

Whatever else this year has provided, it has given us opportunities to revisit the things we do, or wish we did.

So why not take the opportunity to give yourself permission to make a change or two and see how that goes? Want to try a new recipe? How about setting up the tree earlier or later, or not at all? Why not rearrange the furniture?

It might seem strange at first, but with each tentative step, you will discover what does and does not work for you.

The reality is this is your life and you have the right to choose how you live it. If you want your space to be more comfortable for you, it is up to you do make that happen. If you don’t want to do something just because it is a tradition you don’t particularly enjoy, you can choose not to do it. If your family wants to change the way you celebrate (or not) your family can make those choices. No one else should have a say in that, or at the very least, very little.

Give yourself permission to live the life you want to live in the way you want to live it. You might discover a lot less stress and frustration.


You are reading this after Thanksgiving Day has come and gone. From my perspective prior to the holiday, I am contemplating the year that has passed and looking forward into 2021.

To the surprise of many (most?) of us, we’ve made it this far. Back in March there was concern that we wouldn’t. Many didn’t.

I’ve often found myself thinking about our ancestors and how they addressed situations that they had never experienced before. Some came across great distances just to get to our shores and start new lives. Some found themselves crossing the continent to start over in a new place. None knew with any certainty that they would survive, let alone succeed. Many did neither.

I’ve heard it said that you don’t know your own strength until you go through difficult times. I find that I have to agree.

Life is not guaranteed to be easy. There are always things that happen to turn what has been routine and potentially mundane upside down. Perhaps Humans need that to inspire them to move forward and grow?

What I do know on this cold and rainy November day is that there is a lot to be thankful for. There is something to be looked forward to. It may not be what we would prefer, but still, there is Something.

It is easy to get caught up in the angst and negativity that abounds. I’ve always maintained that the negative emotions are addictive – possibly more so than positive emotions. I think, however, that now is a good time to take a few minutes to look around – make a focused effort – to see the positive. Make that a habit.

This year has been full of opportunities to see and do things that we never made time, had time, thought about or even attempted before. We’ve discovered things that we can do – things that many of us didn’t believe we were capable of.

We have rediscovered ourselves.

Like pioneers of old, we are finding out what we are made of and building on that foundation to make a better future.

One step at a time.