My hubby and I recently went to Home Depot to buy wood trim for our house.  After walking for what seemed like miles, we finally found an employee to help us.  We said, “We’re interested in buying some wood trim.”  The employee said, “You can just take the number to the service desk.  They’ll help you.”  I took a photo of the UPC codes and the three of us headed to the service desk.  On the way, the employee said, “Do you two use the internet at all?”

Silly, OLD us, we wanted to see the wood in person before we paid hundreds of dollars for it. 

Shopping has changed forever, and I have mixed feelings about it.  

During the early days of the pandemic, I began thinking about shopping and how it’s been evolving through the years.  The Prime and UPS trucks are fixtures on our streets now. Not since childhood, have I seen such regular home deliveries.  The Prime trucks are here even more often than the milk delivery man who brought fresh milk to our neighborhood. We had a metal, insulated box on our porch for dairy delivered once or twice a week.  Walter, the dry cleaner, was at our house on a regular basis. Makes me cringe to think of Walter because, even though I was about five years old, I distinctly remember telling him I wanted to be Miss America when I grew up. Yikes!  I always looked forward to the day the bread man arrived.  He had the coolest metal rack that went from flat to tiers of wrapped cupcakes and pastries in seconds.  

In those days, you could buy plenty of items at home, like cleaning products from the Fuller Brush man, vacuums, encyclopedias, and much more. Door-to-door salesmen were welcomed into our homes to tell us all about their wares. 

My early memories of leaving the house to shop include trips with my mom to Pomeroy’s Department Store, Reading, PA,  for school uniforms. Not many fond memories there, but as I got older, like in the fifth or sixth grade, a new world of shopping opened up for me.  Weather permitting, I was allowed to walk downtown with my friends.  Each Saturday, after my chores were finished, I would spiff myself up, fill my little purse, and walk several blocks to meet up with friends.  We then walked the 1.5 miles to the center of town–THE shopping district.  I saw Pomeroy’s in a new light.  It was so much more than school uniforms, and so much fun to explore a department store on my own. Without adult supervision, we could spend as much time as we wanted dawdling in whatever department we wanted to dawdle in.

Pomeroy’s was good, but this was the era of the five and dime store! These stores fascinated me more than the department store.   Woolworth’s had plenty to appeal to kids my age, and they had live animals in the pet section.  But Kresge put in a cafeteria-style snack bar that was soooo cool.  And Grant’s had its own fun.  Frankly, looking back, I can’t believe our parents let us walk all the way downtown, and stay until practically dinner time.  I don’t ever remember abusing the freedom of our Saturdays.  Our Saturday independence was a gift,  and we took full advantage of it.  We shopped, but we also regularly explored the public library, a nearby bakery, the dry goods store and the mysterious items in the oriental gift shop.  

For many, Hess’s of Allentown was known as a Pennsylvania shopping experience to remember.  Mostly I remember Christmas decorations and the Strawberry Pie. The desserts there were amazing.  

Weather could hamper or even cancel our weekly jaunt downtown. But the shopping trend of the 1970s would allow browsing without worrying about the elements.   Gone were the days of downtown exploration, as we moved into climate-controlled malls. It was a novel idea–all of the stores under one roof. The new place to hang out and spend money was The Berkshire Mall.  My mom always called it, “the mull.”  We all tried to correct her, but it never worked.  It is just one of the many momisms that we lovingly remember. The mall had three department stores as anchors; John Wanamaker’s, Lit Brothers and Sears.  What I enjoyed most about the mall was the little specialty stores like Piercing Pagoda, and Wrangler Wroost, a jeans store with an old Coca-Cola vending machine.  The sodas were five or ten cents–much cheaper than anywhere else. For years, the Berkshire Mall was the center of shopping in Reading.  It’s still there apparently, but suffering the same fate of our malls here in Columbus. 

As a youngster, my mom and I flew to Columbus to visit relatives.  While Reading had the Berkshire Mall, Columbus had FOUR malls, one for each quadrant of the city.   I think I saw Northland first and was taken by the “fountain” that had blue liquid sliding down ropes.  I must have really liked the fountain, because I took too many bad photos of it.  Of course Lazarus was in the mall, but we also visited the large Lazarus store downtown.  It was a real treat. 

July, 1970

In-person shopping was a big part of my life.  It was a necessity and a hobby.  Places like The French Market at the Continent and The City Center in Columbus were destinations to enjoy and take guests from out of town.  Craft and antique shops became some of my favorites.  

After my daughter was born, shopping for fun became less frequent.  My time was spent with the family, and eventually, her activities became our activities.  I admit I didn’t miss fighting lines and crowds, especially at the holidays when people seemed more rude than ever!

As I said before, my feelings about the state of shopping are mixed.  Yes, I do use the internet, just not to buy wood trim.  I take advantage of the ease and convenience of online shopping.  But, I’m not ready to give up in-person shopping.  I like picking out my own groceries, feeling the fabric of a shirt, seeing vintage and artisan pieces up close. I think there is an implicit sense of community when shopping in person.  In an antique store or boutique, I have something in common with all of the other patrons there.

For many, however, shopping online is vital.  People who cannot get out to shop now have a great resource. But, I worry that shopping from home adds new problems for buyers.  I’m concerned about increased isolation for some people.  Not to mention, the amount of packaging and trash created when having goods delivered can become a burden, especially for older folks.  

In the end, it’s a good thing to have so many shopping choices. We can personalize our experience however we like if we just stop once in a while and consider the pros and cons of our options.

Crochet threads…

Most crafters have stashes of supplies squirreled away somewhere in their homes. I’m no exception. In a previous blog (Throwback Crochet, August, 2020), I posted about making a doily out of vintage crochet thread I had scored at a garage sale. I couldn’t resist. It was a huge box chock full of thread, marked at a ridiculously low price. When I see items like these at sales, it stirs my reverence for the vintage supplies and the makers who came before me. The problem is that a few years later, I still have most of the thread in my basement. Over the winter, I started using up some of it by making crocheted wine coasters. They were cute, but a flop on Etsy. So I brainstormed, and settled on a few things. These are not all completely original ideas. Some of them are spinoffs of items I had seen somewhere on the web. Here is what I’ve come up with so far:

My goal in the last few years has been to create items from materials I already have or used items. I’ve been trying to re-use and buy from yard sales and thrift stores. So, I challenged myself to use up thread with a minimum purchase of new items. The first good example is covered glass yogurt jars, old candle jars and bottles. At first, it seemed daunting to keep a line of thread straight around the jar, but I soon came up with a method to cover them fairly neatly. They turned out better than I had thought, and it felt great to find a use for those cute little yogurt containers. You might guess the brand from the shape. I um, “occasionally” treat myself to that delicious full-fat french yogurt.

Of course, I needed to crochet doilies. First I made a floral rectangular one with variegated pink thread. Then, I made a few small round doilies before the crochet mandala craze hit the internet. My version is much simpler, and I just call them framed doilies. They are crocheted right to the vintage embroidery hoops I found at sales. Again, it was great fun to liven up an old, unattractive metal hoop with some pretty thread! The patterns are adapted from Crocheting Doilies, Edited by Rita Weiss, 1976.

Next, I had a couple of plant markers I hadn’t used in my yard. How to use crochet thread to adorn them perplexed me at first, but then I thought about just handwriting in chain stitch. Voila, positive messages for plants.

Lastly, I recycled one of those old-timey cedar souvenir boxes. Wooden boxes and containers are my favorite used items to buy. Most of the time, I paint them to bring them back to life. But in the spirit of using up the thread, I painted the box and added a crocheted flower and stem. Sanding brought the yummy cedar scent back again.

I’ve had great fun making a dent in the stash, but I’ll still be working on it for a while. I guess I didn’t realize how much thread I bought. I’m always looking for ideas if you have any.

Part of the thread stash

These items will be on sale in my Etsy shop, CiasGarden. The charity I’ve chosen to support with these new items is World Central Kitchen. Their mission is noble, and their response to a crisis is amazing. Please read more at: https://


This blog is dedicated to my mother, Ann Lazinsky who instilled in me the importance of family traditions.  It is written primarily for my daughter, Emma, and my niece Debbie Lazinsky, who are most likely to keep this delicious Hungarian, Nicklos family tradition going! 

Emma with my Mom (1997)

It’s Lent, and time to think about Easter. As a youngster, I remember vividly the two times a year when our house turned into a makeshift bakery.  For about a 24-hour period, before Easter and before Christmas, it was NUTROLL season!  

Debbie with my Mom (1972)

My mom called it kolache, but I think that was referring mostly to the yeasted dough used to hold the nuts.  Kolache in the U.S. is widely known as a Czechoslovakian pastry popular in Wisconsin and Texas.  The Hungarian Cookbook, by Susan Derecskey has a recipe for something that sounds like a version of nutroll called Dios Beigli, but the filling is different from the one we use.  There are many variations of this recipe.  I even remember some of my mother’s sisters, Helen and Mary making different delicious versions of the tasty treat.  Mary also made poppyseed filling, which was special too! 

I took over the tradition of making the Anna Nicklos Lazinsky version of nutroll for Easter 1998.  Emma was a one-year-old at the time, and the urge to share family traditions arrived with motherhood.  So, I set out with no recipe and little proper equipment to make the beloved treat. 

Long before she died, my mother gave me one piece of nutroll equipment in hopes I would carry on the baking.  It’s the metal bowl she used to make the dough. Keep in mind, she made enough nutrolls to feed the entire neighborhood.  The bowl measures 14 inches in diameter, and stands six inches tall. It’s huge!  I could have bathed newborn Emma in it. Mom filled

The Mega Bowl

that gigantic thing with dough and kneaded it (she called it beating it) until she reached what looked to me like complete exhaustion!  After all of that work, the bowl sat covered near a heat vent to make sure the dough raised the proper amount.  This all took place late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.  

The equipment I didn’t have was the old, beaten-up, barely-working hand grinder my mom used to grind the nuts.  I’m not sure she ever tried any other way of grinding the walnuts because Mom thought this broken-down little tool made the nuts the perfect texture.  Her hands would ache after she spun the handle of this little thing for hours.  My sister and I would help sometimes, but I don’t remember ever using the grinder for more than a few minutes before my hand began to hurt. The compartment that held the walnut halves was so small.  Only a few nuts fit in at a time.  Grinding was the true labor of love!

This grinder looks new compared to the one Ann used!

Luckily, I remember the taste of my mother’s nutroll like I ate a piece just yesterday. When I set out to make it, I knew I needed a yeasted sweet dough, walnuts, sugar and currants.  Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, Third Printing, 1980, came through with the sweet dough recipe.  I didn’t use the “mega bowl,” however. I used the food processor to mix, then knead the dough. I wanted to make a few nutrolls, rather than enough to feed an army.  Because I didn’t have the hand-crushing grinding tool, I again used the food processor.  I really felt like I was cheating for the first two or three times I made the nutroll.  It felt like sacrilege to use the food processor.  It worked well, though.  I turned out a good dough, and the food processor ground the nuts to the right consistency.  I added sugar a bit at a time to get just the right sweetness, and I added the currants last.  This tiny version of a raisin adds moisture and a slight bit of tartness.  My adaptation of the recipe makes about four equal rolls.

While it’s not the production of the old days, it’s still a rich tradition that I’m willing to carry on. My mother usually got little or no sleep the night before baking the nutroll. My process is a lot quicker, and should be pretty easy, even for someone with little experience.  

Thanks to my Mom for all of the wonderful memories of the process, the smells, and the tastes.   

Here’s my recipe for four nutrolls:

Betty Crocker’s Sweet Roll Dough 

1 package active dry yeast

½ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

½ cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)

⅓ cup sugar

⅓ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3 ½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1 additional beaten egg to brush on top of the nutrolls.

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl.  Stir in milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg and two cups of the flour.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 ½ hours.  (Dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched.)

If you use a food processor, as I do, follow your processor’s instructions for kneading dough.

Punch down dough.  Roll out four equal rectangles, fill with nut mixture.  Roll and let rise again. Brush the tops of the rolls with beaten eff.  Bake about 20 to 30 minutes in a 325 degree oven. Crust should be browned, but not burned.  

Nut Mixture 

2 pounds walnut halves

2 cups sugar

1 cup currants

Use food processor or chopper to grind the nuts.  They should be fairly fine without many large bits. But, be sure to stop processing before the nuts become a paste.  Mix in the sugar and currants.

Journeys, an update…

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m so grateful for family, friends, and second chances.

I heard someone say, “The only person that has to love you is yourself.”  

If you haven’t had a mammogram recently, I urge you to set up an appointment today.  I spent a week thinking I had breast cancer, and I would protect anyone from the agonizing feeling I carried in my gut for seven days.  I’m ashamed to say how long it had been since my last mammogram.  Even with my niece battling breast cancer, I didn’t make an appointment.

After digesting the report citing a mass, asymmetry, and dense tissue, I tearfully apologized to my husband, and told him how stupid I felt.  All of my introspection cannot explain the reason I procrastinated.  Maybe I was ignorant.  For all of the breast cancer information out there, I didn’t internalize the high risk for older women.  One in 28 women over age 60 will be diagnosed (  Maybe I was ashamed for anyone to see how fat I’d become.  Maybe I stupidly thought it couldn’t happen to me.  Maybe years of low self-esteem kept me from taking care of myself at all.  It’s hard to admit these things, and it makes clear the job I have ahead of me.  I need to love myself: mind, body and spirit.  

After a series of many more images, it was determined that there was no mass in my left breast.  I have dense breast tissue which makes it difficult to see abnormalities.  I was sent home in the clear with orders to return in a year. 

Even when I was skinny, I wasn’t confident inside.  Now it’s much worse.  There are signs of me hiding all around me.  This blog, my Etsy shop and my Instagram all have photos of something other than my face.  

I’ve taken steps toward self-care and love so I need to celebrate what I’ve accomplished so far.  Since I began this health kick, I’ve lost ten pounds.  My knees feel better, and I can feel stamina and strength coming back.  As noted above, I also started making appointments to catch up with all of the health care I’ve been putting off since well before the pandemic.  

I’ve added the Foo Fighters (do not laugh) and stationary biking to the routine.  I found a wacky workout playlist that takes me back to the beat of my teens in the 70s.  The music pushes me to walk and bike faster.  We’re also seriously thinking about adopting a dog.  That means lots more steps for me.  

As far as fulfillment, I’m feeling pretty good about how I’m spending my days.  Creativity is my thing, and I’ve been making all kinds of goodies to sell on Etsy.  The plan for me is to always donate part of my profits to charity.  It gives my creativity meaning. 

My boy Oliver in on the act!

So, I’m trying to become my best self, and learning to love the self I am today.  


I decided to begin blogging about some of my personal journeys. This first post is about trying to lose weight and about the search for purpose in my post-pandemic world. All of my journey postings won’t be “journal-style.” The information I wanted to share for this blog seemed best by following my journal.

Today is February 17, 2021. My weight is close to an all-time high. My motivation is close to an all-time low. Winter and the pandemic life have practically paralyzed me.

Today is April 10, 2021. My weight is at an all-time high. My motivation is close to an all-time low. Winter and the pandemic life still continue to keep me down.

Today is April 21, 2021. My weight is at an all-time high. I went to the doctor for the excruciating pain in my right knee. Feels like the meniscus tear I had repaired in the left knee. I’m supposed to start physical therapy. Some motivation and losing weight would certainly help.

Today is April 24, 2021. They call it languishing–the place between depressed and okay. I read an article about how so many of us are and have been in this state because of the pandemic. Languishing is characterized as being lethargic, unmotivated, and unexcited. That’s where I’ve been parked for much of the last year. Often I feel like I’m at the bottom of a gravelly hill and I just can’t get a good climb to the top. I get close to the edge sometimes, but the gravel begins to loosen, and I’m back down near the bottom. Luckily I have reached the top edge several times, and experienced excitement, motivation and energy in fits and starts. It’s just that I can’t seem to really keep the upward momentum going. Thank God we get a fresh start to try to improve each day. I think part of my problem is that I haven’t completely figured out my post-pandemic purpose yet. I know getting healthy and taking care of myself is top on the list.

Today is May 11, 2021. We’re back from the Big City. We just moved Emma into her apartment in New York City. It was a rough trip for me. Not for the reasons you might think, though. I had a difficult time because I couldn’t walk much. The knee was painful, and I felt like a burden. So, because I get to start over each day, I made up my mind to begin walking today. It took a lot for me to get through the pain, but I made it .64 miles in 13 minutes.

Today is June 1, 2021. Thank God again, for fresh starts. I added NOOM to my walking. I want to return to NYC in August, and be able to get around and experience the City. I have continued to walk regularly and am up to 1.72 miles in 32 minutes! I seem to be getting to the top of the figurative gravelly hill more often these days.

Today is June 28, 2021. It took me way too long to complete the weekly menu and grocery list this morning because I became completely sidetracked. Feeling good on top of that hill, I hastily decided to order some clothes and make an appointment for a haircut. I saw a really cute shirt online several months ago. I showed it to my BFF Vicky and told her it was an incentive to wear it after I lose weight. She said, “why not order it now and look good while you’re losing weight!” That’s why she’s my BFF. I ordered the shirt today.

And, I am finally getting rid of my pandemic hair. It’s really a big deal because I have not had a haircut since February, 2020. While I know I should have cut it sooner, I just wasn’t ready. I think it was my way of saying that the pandemic wasn’t truly over for me. It took a trip to New York, some exercise and healthy food to pull me up and off of that languishing hill. Can’t wait for my haircut on Wednesday!!!!

Today is June 29, 2021. While it’s hot as hell outside, I still walked. It’s been going really well. On a good day recently, I walked 2.94 miles in 52 minutes. Today, I met Katie and her son. We’ve been passing each other in the neighborhood for months. She runs with a stroller. I’ve admired her dedication, so I decided to stop and tell her how great it is that she’s out on a day that feels like 99 degrees. She said, “Well, so are you.” I paused for a moment, and thought, “Yes, yes I am.” She made me think about what I’ve been able to accomplish in recent months.

Today is July 21, 2021. I’m walking regularly these days, and have very little pain in my knee. Weight is down a bit, and I’m enjoying the healthy food! Now that I’m not languishing anymore, (although I’ll probably slip down that hill occasionally) I’m feeling renewed and ready to go. It now feels safe to ponder my role–my post-pandemic purpose. I had coffee with a friend recently. It was a great catch-up. She is on the cusp of marrying the love of her life, and she was doing some pondering about her own future. She is a talented, smart, hard-working, independent young woman, who has the wisdom of someone much older. This is a gal who owns and maintains her own home while some of her contemporaries are probably still fighting off their dormitory habits. With the wedding coming up, she was thinking about what will make her feel fulfilled. She’s thinking about career, a home business, children…all of it. While we’re about 40 years apart, it’s interesting that I’m thinking about the same things…ok, not the children. The idea of feeling fulfilled is something that I think about often now that I’m not working.

As parents, Sean and I feel fulfilled. We so enjoy our 23-year-old daughter, and love being along for her exciting ride through life! Career wise, I felt fulfilled as an academic advisor. I felt respect and appreciation from the students I worked with. I think I helped many of them.

Fulfillment now seems simpler for me. I think I need to satisfy the basics. I left my job during the pandemic, and don’t think I’ll look for another position soon. I keep myself busy with gardening, cooking, crocheting, painting and completing various craft projects. Because I’m wired to think I need a job to be fulfilled, I have to resist feeling inadequate at times. My sense of satisfaction, when I finish a project, or make a delicious dinner quickly chases those negative feelings away.

So for now, my post-pandemic purpose and my road to fulfillment is a little blurry, but while I’m working on getting it into focus, I at least know that I will continue with the weight loss journey, and will continue to cook, garden, paint and crochet.

Stay tuned…

Throwback Recipes…

We’re officially empty-nesters. My husband and I moved our daughter into her apartment in New York, New York. This theme of empty-nesting will probably show up in subsequent posts, because it does change things. The permanence of this “moving in” felt very different from the college “drop off.” Our daughter has no plans to return home, and that’s fine. I think she was born to live in NYC. She’s wanted to be there for quite a while now, and the only reason I left her new place with some composure, was because it felt right for her. We could tell that she was a little scared, but happy.

This post is about food, and some of the recipes I sent with Emma to the City. I originally planned on a binder or notebook to collect recipes, but my husband suggested that it be better to save them digitally, thinking she would prefer a more modern approach. I asked her about what she would like, and she said a binder! Yay! I really wanted to hand her a binder.

We often make our recipes a bit healthier. We replace butter with Smart Balance, white flour with whole wheat, and use skim milk and low fat cheese where possible. This applies to these throwbacks as well.

While Emma is a foodie and has chosen to pursue a master’s degree in food, she still loves some of the recipes we’ve been using since she was a kid. I’m not talking about “The Old Country” Hungarian food here. I’m talking about everyday dinner kind-of-food. 


Emma’s recipe collection would not be complete without a couple of selections from one of our all-time favorite cookbooks, Alpha-Bakery Children’s Cookbook by Gold Medal Flour. So loved, our copy is held together with packing tape. We had hours of great family fun trying many of the recipes. I recently searched the internet to buy a new cookbook for Emma but it looks like it’s been out of print for a while. The good news is that many online retailers are willing to sell you this $2.00 (original cost) paper booklet for prices up to $40! I\’m just going to pass on our tattered copy to Em later.

By far, our top pick from Alpha-Bakery is Quick Cheeseburger Pie. I’ll admit the idea of making a pie crust intimidated me at first. But it was simple as pie! (Sorry.) It was the easiest crust I’ve ever made. The pickle juice in the filling really adds a great flavor. Emma and I eat it with yellow mustard on the side.

Another go-to from the Alpha Bakery is the Strawberry Shortcake recipe. The biscuit dough is easy and quite tasty. This dessert is a must during strawberry season. We indulge with full-fat whipped cream on these.

We have had a breakfast staple in our household for years. With four eggs, Cottage Cakes became a great source of protein for Emma as a swimmer. There is only ½ cup of flour in the recipe, and sometimes I swap in whole wheat flour. This recipe came from The Manchester Inn in Manchester, Vermont. It’s a beautiful place, and I highly recommend it if you ever head New England way.  We use low fat cottage cheese and Smart Balance or other butter substitute most of the time. The tricky thing is the consistency of the batter. You don’t want it thick, but you can’t have it running all over the frying pan either. After the ½ cup of flour, you can add more in small increments.  When you want a treat, make them with full fat everything, and serve with your favorite jam or jelly.  Yum!

*Cottage Cakes*

Manchester Inn, Manchester, Vermont

Makes about 10 cakes

1 cup cottage cheese

4 eggs, beaten

4 tablespoons butter, melted

1/2 cup flour

pinch of salt

  1. Beat eggs. 
  2. Whisk in butter and cottage cheese.
  3. Fold in flour.
  4. Cook on medium heat.

Batter should not be too runny.  Add flour by the tablespoon if you need to tighten it up.

Every family has a standard mac and cheese recipe, right?  Ours has been Betty Crocker’s Macaroni and Cheese from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, Third Printing, 1980. The recipe is simple, yet the sauce makes it creamy and special. It\’s similar to what my Mom made during lent.  She used a swiss or other white cheese.  We use yellow Cheddar, but the recipe says you can use any other cheese, depending on your preference.  The book suggests add-ins like veggies, ham, olives, hot dogs, tomato or tuna. Frankly, we like it plain, maybe adding some hot pepper occasionally. 

*Betty Crocker’s Macaroni and Cheese*

1 to 1 ½ cups uncooked elbow macaroni, rigatoni or spinach egg noodles (about 6 ounces)

1/4 cup butter

1 small onion, chopped (about ¼ cup)

¼ cup all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

1 ¾ cups milk

2 cups shredded or cubed sharp Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)


  1. Heat oven to 375°F. 

  2. Cook and drain macaroni as directed on package.

  3. While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Stir in onion, salt and pepper.  Cook until onion is slightly tender.  

  4. Blend in flour.  Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute.

  5. Stir in cheese. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.
    Place macaroni in ungreased 1 ½ quart casserole.  Stir cheese sauce into macaroni.  Cook uncovered 30 minutes.  5 Servings.

I\’m not sure how often Emma will make these recipes, but it warms my heart to know she has them–in her cute, colorful binder…with tabs…and protective sleeves…

Temperature Blanket Reworked…

I \”frogged\” the first version of my temperature blanket.  When I initially saw the term, I guessed that it was giving up on a project.  But further digging taught me that frogging means unraveling a piece of knitted or crocheted work.  It’s frogging because rip it, rip it, sounds like ribbit, ribbit.  Frogging. 

Original Temp Blanket

Up until the pandemic and my acquisition of a good cell phone, my knitting and crocheting was a solitary activity.  I never joined a knitting group, or participated in classes.  The pandemic gave me more time to do needle crafts, and my new phone facilitated all kinds of pattern research and inspiration from others.  Some of my favorite sites and posts for inspiration are listed below.  Ravelry is the site that taught me frogging and helped me put a nicer, cuter spin on undoing hours of work.

While I liked my first blanket, it began to reveal problems as it grew.  Because I changed color at the end of each row, the blanket was becoming misshapen.   I also realized that by crocheting in rows, I didn’t get to see enough of the colors I so painstakingly chose for the project! For me, it\’s all about the colors.

A fellow crocheter on Ravelry said that she would make squares for a temperature blanket.  Thank you to Laura.  After measuring and tinkering, I came up with a plan for a C2C crochet blanket–crocheting one square per day.  C2C is corner-to-corner crochet.

Reworked Temp Blanket (and kitty bum, sorry)

I found out about C2C on a site called The Patchwork Heart when I was looking for a join-as-you-go afghan design to use up scrap yarn.  I knew I wasn\’t experienced enough to neatly sew a bunch of squares together.  The Patchwork Heart had the best idea for my blanket. Not only did I join as I crocheted, but I was able to weave the ends in after each square. The instructions on The Patchwork Heart are superb, and I recommend them to anyone who wants to take on a C2C project.

I’m current on my daily crocheting, and couldn’t be happier about the switch.  I am enjoying the colors so much more, and am so glad I “frogged” my first try! is a huge community of needle crafters. I keep track of my projects there, participate in groups, and find patterns and inspiration.

The Patchwork Heart ( is a beautiful site with tons of inspiration.

On Instagram, I follow brightbag from Ventspils, Latvia, for her amazing, colorful designs and tlyarncrafts, Columbus, Ohio, is a must for daily, upbeat crochet inspiration. Toni\’s enthusiasm is unmatched! I\’m excited to have such a gifted artist in my hometown!

Chair Update…

If you’ve read my previous blog, “Please Take a Seat…,” you know that I spent a good part of my summer refinishing old chairs.  The idea was to sell the chairs and give the proceeds to charity, specifically, The Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.  

To date three chairs have sold, and the others are being sold at Fresco Furnishings in Grandview. 

While the money for the charity became the prominent motivation for me to complete the chairs, other factors contributed to my determination to get them done.  My husband wanted a garage that wasn’t packed with my “treasures,” and I needed to fight boredom during the pandemic.  Now that the chairs are completed, and in a shop for sale, I can reflect on the project.

I learned about myself, and discovered qualities I had not associated with my personality before.  I also gained a profound appreciation for the resiliency of wood and the craftsmanship, now almost 100 years old.

Some chairs were in really bad condition and I thought I would never get them in shape again. At the end of each day, dirty, sweaty and achey, I was surprised that I had the perseverance to keep going.  I sanded for hours on end, often without an electric sander because of so many curves and intricacies in the designs. With much trial and error, and the help of the internet, I learned how to change the trash-bound chairs into viable pieces of furniture.
I saw something special in every chair.  Either the detailed carving, or slender lines begged me to keep going and to find a way to make those special features prominent.

Repairs were not complex, but necessary on most pieces.  I live in a tool-poor household.  Yes, we have the basics, but in each step of the job I knew there was probably a power tool that would make the task easier. It was satisfying for me to muddle through with just the basics. After all the original makers probably didn\’t use fancy electric tools.

Here are the chairs that remain for sale.  

This is the first chair I completed.  I’m no dummy.  I picked what looked like the easiest chair to begin the project.  If I had some early success with an easy chair, it would motivate me to tackle the worst chairs later.  This chair is small, but has great lines.  I had to fill in many holes and sand all of the old finish before I painted it blue.  The center seemed bare, so I used a flower stencil to mask the area.  After the chair was painted, I removed the mask to reveal the rich wood underneath. Most of my chairs are distressed, especially on the edges.  I think it brings out the lines of the design. 

This chair had layers and layers of finish on it. It was a sanding marathon.  My arthritic hands hated me for this chair.   There is evidence that a previous owner was going to refinish it, because the caning on the seat looks new.  One of the rungs in the middle was missing, and one was broken, so instead of six, the chair has four rungs.  

The carving at the top was really pretty.  The initial plan was to paint it all white.  I tested an area, thought it was boring, and decided to paint the leaves and flowers in the carving with a variety of colors….greens, pinks, etc. But when I wiped off the white to add the colors, I realized the design was highlighted beautifully by keeping the wood natural.  It’s quite a special feature, I think.

These chairs were actually a garage sale purchase.  I loved the style and was hoping I could make them useful again.  They looked like classroom chairs with vinyl seats.  There was gum under the seat of one of them.  Yuck!  Thank goodness for gloves.  The seats also had fragile cardboard maker’s labels on them. They were made by Bianco Manufacturing in St. Louis, Missouri.

These chairs tested my abilities, and I had to ask my neighbor, Bob, to use his power tools to cut new wooden seats for them.  I knew I wanted to use the 20-year-old madras plaid fabric to cover the seats, so I chose red paint to go with the fabric.  They would be great accent chairs for someone with a retro or mid-century taste. 


This chair was the last and hardest to repair.  It started out ugly.  Someone loved this piece so much that they covered the seat twice and used metal rods on each side of the bottom to hold it together!  I could see that the chair started with a caned seat.  That was gone, and in its place were two layers of something else…fake leather, vinyl?  There were several holes drilled in the bottom rungs of the chair…four for the metal rod reinforcements, and several others.  With my minimal skills, I was able to repair the wood, patch the holes and make the rungs functional again without the rods.  

The wild fabric dictated the paint color.  I hope someone can love this chair as much as the previous owner did!

If you know anyone who might be interested in any of these chairs, please pass this on. I would love to continue to send checks to the restaurant fund.

One idea led to another. Fresco Furnishings has started their own fundraising drive for the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.  You can take your gently used furniture and home-decor to Fresco on Fifth Avenue for them to sell and raise cash to support our neighbors in the restaurant industry. If you have questions or would like more information, please call them at 614-586-1963 or email them at 

Temperature Blanket…

The motivation for me to write depends on the color of the sky.   There is another blog waiting, but it’s about letting go in 2020, not the cheeriest topic.  So, I’m writing about a Temperature Blanket because it\’s very exciting!

My Google phone spies on me all of the time, listening and remembering everything I research online.  It was designed to do that, I guess.  Being a knitting/crocheting weather geek, I receive “news” on those topics daily.  For a few days in December, my phone combined the two subjects and began showing me articles on “temperature blankets.”  I scrolled past the titles guessing they were some sort of blanket that keeps you warm in cold and vice versa.  Silly me.  When I finally clicked on an article, I discovered that a temperature blanket is an afghan knitted or crocheted a row or square a day according to the temperature. What a find!  A project that combines needlework and weather observation was just what I needed to boost my winter mood.  While it’s a big, year-long project, I knew I could easily commit to crocheting one row a day.

Rather than follow a pattern (there are oodles on the web), I decided to plan my own afghan.  I think I did it backward, but I finally solidified a plan to suit me.  Because the yarn is the fun part, I started there.   The only thing I  knew at that point was that I wanted washable wool yarn, and I needed to find it in a bunch of colors.  I went to (WEBS) and, rather than wasting  hours looking on the site, I did an online chat with a representative.  After I told her what I was looking for,  she suggested several brands and styles that might work for me.   Talking with her saved me time and frustration.  I highly recommend the chat feature on their site.  Valley Yarns Superwash Wool Worsted was my choice.  With 32 shades to choose from I had no problem deciding on my color progression for the year. 

Because I love changing colors when I crochet, and because I wanted a lot of color variation in my blanket, I used small increments. I broke my plan into four-degree sections. For instance, 5 to 9 degrees is steel grey. My colors include blues for winter, greens in spring, then yellow and orange for summer. If it gets really hot, 95 or above, I’ve chosen pinks. Buying the yarn gets tricky. You don’t really know how much you need. I bought one skein of each color to cover from 20 to 54 degrees to get me through the colder days. When the temps start to rise, I’ll start buying my spring colors. I can’t wait!

The size was the most challenging aspect of my plan. I did SEVERAL test swatches before I settled on my pattern.  At first I thought I’d do corner to corner crochet, which looks like little squares.  My test swatch measured one inch per row. Oops!  At that rate my blanket would have been a whopping 365 inches or 30 feet long at the end!  Finally, I decided on half-double crochet with worsted weight yarn using a size F hook.  I’m following a pattern of one full row, one row of halves, and one row of thirds. I didn’t want to use a row for each day because I thought it would look boring, and the blanket would still be too big.  
Who knew that I could combine my interest in weather with daily crocheting? The weather geek in me has existed for a long time. Years ago, I worked in aviation education, and couldn’t get enough of the idea of flight and weather. I actually passed ground school with flying colors. That means if I want to start flight lessons, I’m set!  Joking.  Crocheting is my speed now.

Yesterday was the coldest day (24) so far this year and I was able to use Mulberry for the first time.  It’s fun for me to look at my blanket and see what the weather pattern is.  Right now, the prominent colors are navy blue and white which means that we are often at 30o to 39o…a warm winter so far.  My favorite color is periwinkle blue.  It’s for colder temps, 25o to 29o, so I keep hoping for cold to use it more often.

It’s not too late to start a blanket.  You can easily find the temperature history for January.  I also think you could adapt this idea for other projects, especially for kids.  You could color a line or shape each day to form a beautiful weather history for 2021!

A daily check of the temperature is good for everyone!


It’s been a while since I’ve written.  My motivation wanes sometimes.  Also, my computer occasionally acts up.  I’m using an ASUS laptop that we bought for Emma in high school. She carried it daily in her backpack, and really beat it up.  When ASUS acts up, the center keys don’t work.  Even if I hit them incessantly, as I do, the N, M, H, Y, and U won’t work.  But today, ASUS and I are both motivated!

We just had our first measurable snow here in Ohio, and I’m already missing the yard.  Of all the plants and trees, I miss Rugo the most.  Rugo is our rose bush.  Yes, we’ve named it.  Before you think I’ve leapt off of the deep end, please hear me out.  This is no ordinary rose bush.  Rugo has been with us for most of our 25 years of marriage.  In fact, the idea of Rugo has been with Sean and me since the beginning of our relationship.

Rugo has lived in a least three different places, in two different states.  His tale begins in Massachusetts…Cape Cod. Soon after our first “date,” Sean and I boarded an America West flight to Boston to spend time with my sister and her husband. 

While there, we spent a few days out on Cape Cod.  We had a great time, whale watching, beach combing, and biking.  Sean and I both noticed the beautiful rose bushes lining the edge of the beaches everywhere.  The roses were a vibrant pink with an intoxicating scent.

Soon after we were married, and in our first home together, we made another trip to Boston.  This time we drove in Sean’s little red Dodge Shadow.  I had done some research on the rose bush, and found it was a variety of Rosa Rugosa.  Because we both loved the plant so much and it reminded us of that special trip, we bought one at a  nursery outside Boston. 

Rugo made it to Ohio safely, and was planted in our yard in Gahanna.  He was small, but he thrived in that yard.  What a joy it was to have those beautiful roses with us all summer!  

A few years later, we purchased our current home.  Rugo was in the listing contract, because we knew he was going with us.  The gardening gods were looking down on us the day we moved!  It was December, but unseasonably warm.  We were able to dig up Rugo easily and plant him in his new home. That first spring would be the test.  Would Rugo survive the winter transplant?  Will he thrive like he did in his previous home?  The answer was a resounding, yes!  Rugo bloomed!  And, 25 years later, he’s still blooming. 

Each year, the scent of Rugo\’s blooms transports me back to Cape Cod and the happy memories we created there.  It’s not surprising, I guess.  A study by psychologist Silvia Álava called “Smells and Emotions,” showed that people remember 35% of what they smell and only 5% of what they see. Scent is registered in the brain, but it is also registered with an association to an emotion that we are feeling at the moment.

Rugo is huge-o now.  He’s taken over a large chunk of our yard.  He needs little care and grooming.  I never thought a trip souvenir could bring so many years of enjoyment.  If you’re thinking about adding a rose bush, check into a Rugosa Rose!

To read more about the senses, see: