Today a landmark is being torn down in my small town. The building was built in 1950 (I believe), and it was probably a pretty classy joint for a while.
Unfortunately, it didn’t stay that way.
I didn’t spend much time at The Lew before my favorite watering hole (The Silver Dollar) burnt down. After that sad day, the Dollar regulars wandered around town looking for a new home before most of us settled on The Lew. I don’t think ol’ Lew was ready for the unruly behavior that Dollar patrons could display but we were more than willing to dish it out.
I’d like to think I was fairly well-behaved, but I’m sure plenty of people can tell you otherwise. Keep those stories to yourselves, y’all. Ok, unless they’re really funny…I guess you can share those in the comments.
A friend of mine asked if I had any funny stories from the many evenings I spent at the Lew. I have lots of fun memories, like the times my favorite MySpace celebrity (it’s kind of a joke) visited after moving to Michigan, or the time The BF drunkenly decided we should go to Vegas and get married by fat, cheesy Elvis (clearly that has yet to happen)…but as far as stories go, I can come up with only one.
On this particular evening, I decided to stop in for a drink because I’d had a rotten day at work. I was working for ITT at the time, so pretty much every day was a rotten day. At any rate, I rolled into town around 10:00 and headed straight for the comforting arms of good ol’ Lew and (more importantly) his cooler full of Harp. Or Guinness. Or Grey Goose. Or Jack Daniels. Or… Well, you get the idea.
I walked in and parked myself on a barstool right in front of the entrance. There was a football game on, so I sipped my beer and focused on that while I waited for my bad day grouchiness to go away. Unfortunately, it hadn’t completely left me yet when a group of Wabash students came barging in the door. The men immediately congregated around me, loudly discussing their options for shots while jostling me around without really noticing that I was there. Since I despise being touched in most situations, and especially when it’s by total strangers, I was becoming more and more unhappy by the second.
I tried to ignore them, but getting elbowed in the shoulder whenever the tall guy next to me moved his arm was making it rather difficult. Why don’t they just order already?!
Something was holding them up, one scrawny, newly-minted 21-year-old. It seemed that he was hesitant on taking a shot, but another guy was insisting that everyone do it, or no one at all.
Well I could see the problem pretty clearly.
Just wanting the madness to be over so they would go away and leave me in peace, I decided to take action. The scrawny
sissy dude was standing next to me (on the side opposite the tall elbow guy), and he was whining loudly about being afraid of a hangover.
Without a word, I reached into my purse and pulled out a tampon. I then lifted it until it was in front of his face, which caused him to stop mid-whine.
“Here”, I said, “bathroom’s that way.” I jerked a thumb in the general direction of the
pit of despair restroom, waiting for him to take the tampon from me.
Everyone stared, mouths gaping, in near complete, beautiful silence. One of the guys (not the whiner) snatched the tampon from my grasp and took a look at it before calling the bartender over. He ordered the group’s shots, then set the tampon on the bar in front of the whiner. When the shots came, the bartender began distributing them to each of the guys until she got to the whiner…The dude that ordered shook his head, then pointed at me and said, “That one’s for her.”
Guys, I actually had to ask them to stop buying me drinks after that because I had to work the next day. Sure, I had to endure the shittiest looks from Mr. Whiny Pants, but it was well worth it. I couldn’t help but laugh every time they referred to the kid as “tampon”, and my mood definitely improved.
I’d like to think that the kid learned a lesson that day. No, not to bend to peer pressure… But maybe that whining loudly will annoy the perpetually grumpy girl next to you and might get you embarrassed in front of your buddies.
It’s practically a fable.
You know how I proclaimed my love of all old people foods? And I said that I really, really love beets? Well I have a confession.
Until two nights ago, I had never actually fixed beets at home (with the exception of canned beets, which don’t count). How embarrassing.
So Saturday morning, MIL and I took O to the Farmer’s Market again and she decided to buy some beets. When I mentioned that I happen to love them, she picked out more and said we’d split them. Ok by me!
We stopped for lunch at a festival that was going on downtown.
It was delicious… Had the weather been nicer (like, not a million degrees), I would have stuffed myself with more of that curry. O had (and liked!) a little bit of everything. MIL decided to treat him to a donut once we finished, and the kid ate all of that, too.
I didn’t have a chance to get to the beets until Monday. After consulting Pinterest and Google, I decided to just roast them with a little salt and rosemary, then add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
These were so good, and really simple! O loves beets, so he at a ton of them (which has made for fun diapers…). I served them with garlic and herb pork chops and mashed potatoes.
As many beets as you like…I probably had about a pound.
Preheat your oven to 400°. Lay a sheet of foil (big enough to fold over and seal) on a cookie sheet.
Scrub your beets, then cut the ends off, dry, and place on the foil. When all of your beets are cleaned, Drizzle olive oil over them, then add a little salt and rosemary. Fold foil over, crimp to seal, then roast until fork tender…about 60 minutes.
When the beets have cooled, peel and quarter them ( you may want to wear gloves for this part), then place them into your serving container and drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over them. You can serve them immediately, or you could chill them in the fridge first. Either way, they’re super tasty!
The best part about this time of year is the abundance of the fresh produce that is just begging me to EAT ALL THE VEGGIES. The BF is always bringing home tomatoes or corn or zucchini from the little roadside stands that pop up everywhere. Our little farmer’s market is full of good things, too. It’s like every day is Christmas!
Last week, The BF brought us some tomatoes that looked perfect for stuffing. I weighed a handful of options before I settled on a tuna salad filling, mostly because I had everything I needed and I didn’t want to go to the store.
These make a great summer dinner because you only have to turn the broiler on for about 5 minutes, so you don’t really have to heat up the kitchen. Serve them with a big green salad and some cottage cheese and you barely have to make an effort at all. I was lucky enough to have leftover cucumbers and onions and roasted eggplant from the night before. Hooray!
Tuna melt stuffed tomatoes
*This recipe makes 2 stuffed tomatoes with some tuna salad leftover*
2 medium tomatoes
2 envelopes tuna packed in water (single serving size)
Mayonnaise (you could use Miracle Whip if you prefer)
Sweet pickle relish
About 1/4 of a smallish onion, diced
2 hard boiled eggs**, roughly chopped
About a teaspoon of celery seed (or a rib of celery chopped)
Salt and pepper
About 3/4 to one cup shredded cheddar cheese
Start by slicing the tops of the tomatoes off. Scoop out the insides (I used an ice cream scoop) so you have a nice, hollow cavity. Set the tomatoes, cut side down, on a paper towel lined plate.
Stir tuna and mayo (start with a little mayo and add until you have the consistency you want). Mix in egg, onion, celery seed (or celery), and add relish and salt and pepper to taste.
Stuff tomatoes with the tuna salad. I like to broil them in a muffin tin because it keeps them from falling over, so place each tomato into a hole in the muffin tin, top with cheese, and broil on low until cheese is brown and bubbly.
If you use cherry tomatoes, these make a nifty little appetizer for a cookout or summer party. Just be careful, because you may find that they disappear rather quickly.
When you broil the tomatoes, the filling will NOT be heated through. If you prefer a hot filling (I’m not sure hot tuna salad would be super yummy but whatever floats your boat), you should bake the ‘maters.
** Ok, don’t bother with actually boiling the eggs. Seriously. Just put some cupcake liners in your muffin tin, put the eggs in there, and bake at 325° for 25 minutes. Once they come out of the oven, dunk them in ice water for ten minutes or so, then peel ’em. SO MUCH EASIER.
I saw the first story pop up on my Facebook newsfeed after I finished cleaning up the kitchen after dinner.
Robin Williams Dead at 63
I immediately did a Google search, because I was sure this was yet another internet hoax. I’ve never understood the point of those…what does one accomplish by joking about someone’s death?
At any rate, I was so sure it was false until I saw that CNN, FOX, and the Today Show were all reporting it…And it got worse. His cause of death? Apparent suicide.
My heart broke. I’d heard of his struggles with addiction and depression, but I suppose I thought he was making it through. After all, this was a man that had access to the very best medical care money could buy. He was adored by so very many people. He seemed to have a wonderful family and many friends that loved him.
Yet it wasn’t enough. That’s the scary thing about depression…it sees everything you have to be happy about and carefully shoves it all to the side. It might tell you that none of those people really care about you. It might whisper in your ear that your accomplishments are meaningless. It will tell you that everything is hopeless.
As Jenny Lawson (one of my absolute favorite authors) says, it lies.
Depression is something that is impossible to understand if you haven’t felt it. I’ve seen people describe it in so many ways, yet there’s always someone that says, “Well can’t you just, you know, decide to get over it and be happy?”
No. I cannot put this any more simply.
Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half describes the numbness that depression can cause… Others feel a very deep and sometimes physically painful sadness. The one thing that I’ve found to be almost universal about depression is that some of the brightest, funniest, most talented people I’ve ever met struggle with it.
I have struggled with depression. It still visits me on occasion, though it is rare these days. I thank God for that.
I have friends that have struggled, and some that are struggling right now. I can’t say that I’ve been there for them as much as I should have. Depression can also make you a very selfish person in some ways. It can be hard to see beyond yourself.
If you know someone that is having a hard time dealing with things, watch over them. Make yourself available as much as you possibly can. Don’t give up on them and for God’s sake, don’t ask them to just “suck it up and be happy.”
If you are struggling to get a grip on life…If normal everyday duties seem overwhelming, if you can’t muster the desire to get out of bed…If you have had even the tiniest whisper of a thought of suicide…Please go get help. Talk to someone, anyone, until you find a person that will listen. I promise, you are not a burden. Your friends and family love you and they want you to be well.
You are important. You are loved. You matter.
My heart is broken over the passing of a wonderful, if very troubled, man. I hope he found the peace he was so desperately seeking.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Thursday evening, I made two pies… I had planned to only make one, a coconut cream pie for The BF’s grandpa (his birthday was Saturday), but the BF wandered in and asked if he got a pie. I had everything to make a chocolate pie, so I went ahead and made it because I’m such a
The BF was super pleased with his pie. Friday evening we took the coconut pie to Grandpa, and he said he had no plans to share it with anyone. He did offer a slice to The BF.
“No thanks, I don’t really care for coconut.”
“I know!” was Grandpa’s reply, and then he cracked up.
I was super relieved that he liked it so much, because I’d never made that kind of pie before…And I did it completely from scratch, from making the graham cracker crust, to separating five eggs for the custard, to the whipped cream, to even toasting the coconut. Also, who knew real, homemade whipped cream was so amazing? I may be addicted.
Saturday morning, MIL and I took O to the local farmer’s market. We found tons of awesome fresh produce and lots of people to chat with. I ended up with an eggplant, some cute yellow pattypan squash, Concord grape jelly, and creamed honey. MIL stopped to buy a green pepper and the nicest guy handed O a cute little pumpkin. He promptly threw it to the ground, of course, but luckily the man just laughed.
We stopped for lunch at my favorite Chinese place. I ordered cashew chicken and MIL had General’s chicken…we both got the hot and sour soup because it’s the best you’ll ever have. O was happy to eat everything we shared with him, and he wasn’t phased at all by the spice in the soup or the General’s chicken…He’s going to like it spicy like his mama, I think, and I couldn’t be more proud.
O took a nice, long nap once we got home, and when he woke up we headed to the State Fair. O had his first ever ear of Indiana State Fair roasted corn on the cob, and he loved it so much that he didn’t want to give up the empty cob. He also split a blue raspberry shaved ice with his daddy, and he loved the pieces of breaded tenderloin I shared with him.
After we filled our bellies, we wandered around checking things out. I rode an elephant ( her name was Libby), and we bought a jar of maple cream at the pioneer village.
We made sure to check out some animals, and the boy found a new friend in a nice little goat. The BF and I also found coffee mugs that I really should have bought.
Once it got dark, we headed to the midway. O rode a couple of rides with Daddy (mama would barf). I think O loved the excitement, because there was a lot of pointing and clapping and waving and, “See? SEE?!”
We all had a blast and slept extremely well when we got home.
Sunday, I did some cleaning and The BF worked in his office while O ran around in an outfit he picked himself.
That afternoon, my SIL came over with my sweet niece and the kids chased each other through the house. There was a lot of squealing and giggling and THUMPTHUMPTHUMPing. The boy had so much fun that he slept until almost 9:30 this morning.
It was my favorite kind of weekend, full of family time, good food, and a lot of laughter.
That sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Well don’t be intimidated, because it really isn’t… But it is a handy way to sneak some spinach into the diets of your unsuspecting family.
I know I’ve already posted a lasagna recipe, but the one I’m about to share probably doesn’t fit the heart healthy bill… This one has full-fat cream cheese in it and I used 80/20 ground chuck. Don’t anyone tell my mom.
You’ll also notice that I’ve made the switch to oven ready noodles… Honestly, I used to be very pro boiling but then one day I realized that it sucks. A lot. They stick together and to everything, I always burn myself, and it takes a lot longer. Forget it. Know how long it took me to assemble this lasagna? Ten minutes…And that’s only because this happened:
Four cheese lasagna florentine
1 pound ground beef
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 can tomatoes
1 can spaghetti sauce (any variety you like)
1 package chopped frozen spinach, thawed (give it a good squeeze so you don’t end up with runny sauce)
Salt and pepper
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 15 ounce tub ricotta cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Italian spice blend
1 1/2 package shredded mozzarella cheese
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles
Start by browning the hamburger, onion, and green pepper (season with salt and pepper), then drain the mixture. Wipe away any grease left in the skillet, then return the beef to the pan along with the sauce, tomatoes, and spinach. Let that simmer on medium-low while you prepare the cheese mixture.
Add cream cheese and ricotta to the bowl of your mixer, then mix until blended. Add Parmesan and Italian blend (as much as you like…I used about a palm full), then mix again until it looks creamy and delicious. Preheat your oven to 375° and get ready to put everything together.
To assemble the lasagna, first spread a little tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Place three noodles on top, being careful not to overlap or let them touch the sides of the dish. The noodles will expand to fill the gaps, trust me… I learned that one the hard way. Drop spoonfuls of the cheese mixture over the noodles (it’s almost too thick to spread), then sprinkle on some mozzarella and add three more noodles. Ladle on a layer of tomato sauce, then noodles, then cheese mixture and mozzarella…Keep going until you run out of noodles or room in the dish. Make sure the final layer is tomato sauce, top with cheese, then cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. When your timer goes off, remove the foil and top with more cheese (only if you want to be excessive like me) and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
Serve with a salad and breadsticks.
If you have leftovers, this should freeze well…Or you could just keep eating it until it’s gone, which is exactly what we’ve done. I will be sad when we finish it tonight.