Monday, January 30, 2012


The Bag Lady, who has earned her title by being the most profilic sewer of sacks, had already turned everything she could get her hands on into a tote of one kind or another. So all that was left to turn into a bag was another bag. When she spied a large, colorful and sturdy-looking one containing dog food at a sibling's house she requested that it be saved for her.

When eventually she had the bag in her possession she scrubbed it inside and out, (she says she may still have dogs following her down the street on warm days - the smell of kibble lingers in the seams despite her deodorizing efforts) added strong straps and lined it with a festive plaid.

Then she did what any sensible reduce-reuse-recycler would do and added it to her stable of green grocery bags. On its very first outing to the supermarket it did its job of being both useful and an excellent conversation starter at the check out lane. The clerk passed it to the bag boy as she rang up a nickel bag credit, he loaded it with the Bag Lady's few groceries, and still chatting away with the store personnel, she paid the bill.

It was only when she started to exit the store that she realized the grocery tab was a bit steep for her dozen eggs, gallon of milk, and loaf of bread. Out came the receipt from where, in her preoccupation of thinking about other found materials she could turn into clever market totes, it had been hastily stuffed. Yes indeed, the total was highly inflated. She had been charged $21.48 plus tax for her own satchel as it passed over the too efficient scanner.

An explanation and a good laugh at the service counter led to a quick refund of the overcharge. The Bag Lady is all for helping out in her own way, but she is not so keen on single-handedly stimulating the economy by making imaginary purchases. From now on when the fetching tote leaves the house it will be wearing a muzzle of painters' tape over the barkcode.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Are the Christmas Cookies Gone Yet?

If it's safe to bake again read on.

Here is a family favorite recipe that originally came from the back of a package of deluxe white baking chips. It is a great dough that serves as a base for any number of delicious chocolate cookie creations. At Christmas Andes Baking Chips were a hit addition.

Customizable Chocolate Cookie Dough

350F/9-10 minutes

Cream together:

1 c. butter or margarine
¾ c. sugar
2/3 c. brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs


2 ¼ c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa
1 t. soda
½ t. salt

Now add about 1 1/2 cups of one, or several combined, types of yummy somethings.

Our favorites:
White chips
Andes pieces
Raisins (and milk chocolate chips make a Raisinette-like cookie)

Enjoy in moderation.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Berenstain Bears and the Power of Paypal

If you love the Berenstain Bears and don't have your nose out of joint like someone we know who is still bugged about how Papa Bear is always portrayed as a bumbling boob, then you might want to check out Moda's new Welcome to Bear Country fabric line featuring our favorite fictional ursine family.

Fat Quarter Shop and Hancock's of Paducah both have collections and boy are they swell.The palette of Mama Bear's dots alone is very fun. Throw in the rest of the other colorful patterns and you have gen xers' and echo boomers' kid lit fabric dreams come true.

Speaking of dreams...we would love to lay our head on a pillowcase made with fabric picturing the rolling hills and fabulous tree-houses of bucolic Bear Country. But then, the nagging question of how all those rooms managed to fit into those tiny tree dwellings might just keep us from our rest. Perhaps a frilly dotted apron à la Mama Bear might be a less disturbing-thought-provoking choice.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Basking the glow

...of a longer day's surprise

...warm yellow sunrise.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Make a Wish

Back to the '80s to be in our 30s?

Hmmm...if it comes with a mandatory perm, earrings scaled to the big hair, shoulder pads, stirrup pants and leg warmers...

Then that is not what we will be wishing for when we blow out the candles. We are fine staying right here in our correct chronological time and space. Being a fashion victim knows no age.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Save the Date

Your Wisconsin State Button Society 2012 show and sale is coming up on June 21-23 in a town very near (most of) you.

The show is a great place to find items to add to your collection or just to spend some time browsing and learning about the wonderful world of buttons.

Enjoy a few selections from one of our favorite collecting categories - pearl button cards.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's Back...

Wisconsin's winter wonderland. Enjoy!

What happens when Hollywood director David Zucker unleashes his wacky humor on the historic Riverside Theater and the renowned Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra? You get a little something we're quite familiar with in Wisconsin: fun. -

Let it snow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Still Standing

Perhaps the weather outdoors which has more closely resembled that of April than January in Wisconsin had something to do with the early perky performance of the potted narcissi. They may have let their little egos lead them to compete with the springlike activity going on outside the window, but probably vanity was not the reason for their success at growing straight and tall since they remain unbent even with the return of real winter weather. We must give credit where credit's due and thank the think tank at Cornell University for their well researched hot tip on keeping forced bulbs upright by getting them drunk.

Ten days later here they are erect and blooming with no threat of tipping.

This group knows how to hold their liquor. No blotto bulbs here!

Speaking of giving credit where it's due...we wonder if the lab assistant who discreetly dumped their libation in a convenient research pot when the department head showed up unexpectedly at the unauthorized horticulture department Christmas party eventually fessed up and got a bit of credit for the discovery of alcohol's effect on bulb growth? At least that's how we imagine it happening. What? It may have actually been an intentionally tested scientific theory? We like our version of the story better thank you, so we're sticking with it.

Friday, January 13, 2012

She Stoops to Conquer

It is our altruistic nature that allows us to risk tarnishing our reputation to make a point. It seems incongruous that someone who has traveled to France twice in thirteen months to learn about fine cuisine would stoop to using packaged foods but, well, it happens. When it does, if our cheaters are not near at hand while we are mixing up a batch of Betty's finest cornmeal muffins - look out diners. Type size on packaging has become so microscopic that every package should come with its own magnifying glass. At least, that is, if producers are hoping to tap the buying power of our vast anaconda-digesting-a-pig population bump of baby boomers. We are the ones who were raised on this stuff right? Jello, cake mixes, and their yuppie cousins risotto mix and tiramisu-in-a-box.

Attention: If you want us to buy it we have to be able to see it.

Suggestion: Ditch all that unpleasant nutritional value information or make that font as small as you like. If a person is buying a convenience food product they really don't want to read about it. Believe us. We get the gist of what it says, and we hate to be glib, but the potluck is in half an hour and at this point we don't have time to care too awfully much.

Kudos to: Oxo for the genius measuring cup pictured above. If we can read the amount called for on the package it is a cinch to find it on this clever utensil.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Oh for Cute!

The Kaffe Klatch was all atwitter when one of our super shoppers showed up with this wonderful find. Most of the usual group of caffeine-addicted acquaintances claim some connection to the land of 10,000 lakes and wanted to know how they could get some too. Sadly, NDL's research has found that Coborn's grocery had these fetching sacks available for a limited time only and now they are all gone! No wonder. They sold for only 99¢ each!

Attractive and oh, so Minnesota on every side, enjoy these photos because that's all we're gonna get.

Bag designed by Shana Shay. Check out her dog portraits!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Soused for Science

As is often the case, we remember some of the facts, but not all, in any given scientific scenario. When we set some paperwhite narcissus bulbs in stone and water a few weeks ago in anticipation of a midwinter burst of blooms we decided to act on our partial knowledge of gangly growth retardation and corroborate the details later.

Cornell University's William Miller and team have concluded that giving paperwhite bulbs a shot of booze actually helps keep them from falling down(like a)drunk as they are wont to do.

Surprisingly, given our well know fondness for Bloody Marys, we did not have a drop of the recommended types of alcohol in the house. Both the pantry (vodka or gin) and the medicine cabinet (rubbing alcohol) were bare of all suggested forms of bulb inebriates. So, as not to be too late in the growth process with our experiment, we decided to try a glug of cooking sherry, which seemed like a better choice than Grand Marnier. It didn't seem to hurt. Then, when soon after we obtained a bottle of cheap vodka, which we will use for vanilla making, and okay, for the desperation Bloody Mary, we gave it another shot along with additional water to dilute it.

Then, after all possibility of doing it right the first time had passed, and only then did we actually research the issue and find out how it should have been done as outlined in the Cornell University research paper, "Pickling Your Paperwhites".

So far, so good. Buds are coming along and leaf growth is still in check. We apparently got lucky with our glug method of alcohol measuring. Different types of booze require different ratios of dilution, and too much can be fatal. According to the smarties at Cornell: "As with humans, paperwhites can also suffer alcohol overdoses! We suggest 4-6% alcohol as a normal and safe range. If plants are given much more than 10% alcohol, growth problems will start, and 25% alcohol is dramatically toxic. So, moderation is the key!

The little guys made it through New Year's Eve still standing straight. Check back later for our report on how they handle the depressing, dark days of January.

Friday, January 6, 2012

That's All I Have to Say About That

Forrest has nothing on this guy.

He's seen it all.

Images by: Photofunia and NDL.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


As the new year enters and we enjoy the last of the twelve days of Christmas,

We savor warm memories of the season, then look ahead.

We return to our routines,

And try to remember where we left off before all the happy hullabaloo began.

We reacquaint with those who will share our cabin fever,

And make daring resolutions.

Then we snap out of it, shake our heads, and remind ourselves there is a difference between realistic goals and pure fantasy.

Relax. Keep it real. Go ahead and finish off that last Frango while you power up the old treadmill.

Images by: Photofunia and NDL.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Year of the Gnome

Get used to it...

Word has it that...

Their time has come...

For long overdue attention...

From hipsters...

Cute furry creatures...

World powers...

And the man on the street.

Images by: Photofunia and NDL.