The View From My Window

The world as seen from my window and through my eyes

The importance of dates February 27, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 7:21 pm

My husband and I have been married for 15 years and the time has literally flown by. As they say, time flies when you’re having fun. Some people might wonder how two people could describe as fun going to work every day, raising six kids on a tight budget and trying to fit in all of the other things that active people do. Well, it is fun. It’s the most fun you can have when you’re married to your best friend.

Something we’ve always found very important is taking the time to have a date now and then. Back when the kids were small and still at home, we didn’t have two nickels to rub together. A date consisted of an hour or so of leaving the kids with Grandma and Grandpa, stopping for an ice cream cone and taking a short drive. We used to look forward to those moments as much as some people look forward to a gourmet meal and a concert! We had some of our best conversations and greatest laughs on those little drives.
Why are dates so important to a marriage? I’ve seen so many people who have turned their focus and attention on the children, their jobs and their social obligations only to let their marriage die by simple neglect. It’s hard to know someone if you don’t spend time with them. It’s hard to love someone if you don’t know them. My husband and I have a strange and wonderful connection. When I’m thinking something, he says it out loud. We finish each others sentences. When I see him looking for something, I usually can just find it and hand it to him without asking what he’s looking for. I can tell his mood by the expressions on his face.

My husband doesn’t send me flowers. He’s not much for flowery language either. But he does what is considered the most romantic things of all after 15 years of marriage. He runs the vaccuum, helps with the laundry, clears the dinner table and cleans the bathroom. And most importantly, he gives me gifts that will last a lifetime; he builds me furniture. There is a spicerack that’s hung on my kitchen wall for 15 years that was a wedding gift. He made baby cradles and cribs and a high chair. Our house is full of antique reproduction furniture that he’s built. The most recent addition is a 9.5 foot harvest table that seats 12. He built it so that I could have a table big enough for all of our 6 children and, eventually, their husbands and wives to sit at and have family dinners. That’s love.

So, back to point of this rambling post. Dates are more important after you get married than before. After all, what’s better than spending an hour or two with your best friend? Make it a priority. You’ll be glad you did.

Do you have any great date memories to share?


My View on the Academy Awards February 25, 2007

Filed under: My View on Events — auntlelo @ 8:54 pm

Well, all of the hype leading up to the big event will be over tonight. The Academy Awards will finally be presented and I’ll once again be left to wonder what the big deal is all about.

I used to watch some of these in my younger years, rooting for my favorite movie or actor, taking a look at the ultra fancy gowns and jewelry being paraded down the red carpet and listening to the gracious acceptance speeches. However, those days have passed for me. Most of these awards shows have become one more place for the folks in charge to exercise their personal political opinions. The actors use the event as a place to slam whatever politician happens to be the “target du jour.” A lot of folks don’t bother with the elegant gowns, but, rather dress in something more geared to draw attention by means of the shock factor.

I watch movies win that no one I know has ever, or will ever, watch. I see other movies that by all the rules should win something, but, they’re shut out because the producer/director’s political views don’t match the Hollywood norm. About the only one I pay any attention to these days is the People’s Choice Awards. At least I feel like that’s a vote that truly reflects what the audience is thinking. I’m sure that according to Hollywood standards, I’m pretty stupid. After all, they do refer to this part of the nation as “fly over country.” But, I think it’s fair to say that I, like every other movie watcher, know what I like and what I don’t like. If I were asked to give awards for outstanding performances, I’d likely have a completely different slate of nominees to work from.

Are you planning to watch the Academy Awards? What actor/actress and what movie do you hope will take home an Oscar?


Buca di Beppo

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 6:25 am

We had a lovely dinner last night. We had dinner at a great restaurant in KC, MO called Buca di Beppo. I think the atmosphere was as much fun as the food. It’s a family style Italian restaurant and the portions were big, the prices reasonable and everything was outstanding. You know a place is going to be good when they have the confidence to take their guests into the restaurant through the kitchen so you can see exactly what to expect.

We had the chopped antipasto salad, the Buca trio (a lovely group of appetizers including fried mozzarella, shrimp and calamari), garlic bread, lasagna and baked manicotti. There wasn’t a bad dish in the lot and we all ate too much.

We were actually checking the place out to serve as the location for the rehearsal dinner for our eldest son’s wedding. It wasn’t a tough decision—we booked the wine room for the event before we left. Now, the hardest part is getting everyone to decide what to serve from a menu that carries practically every one of my favorite dishes.

Did I say I was going to start watching what I eat? Well, I did that. The portions were so big it was VERY easy to see them, therefore, I was technically “watching what I ate.” 🙂

Maybe I’ll be better tomorrow.


It’s easier to talk about food than people February 23, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 9:09 am

You may have noticed that yesterday’s post was recipe related. I find that when there is too much going on in my life, I try to find things that are more comfortable to talk about–like food! Food is comforting, non-threatening and doesn’t ask me for answers. It demands very little, other than to be well prepared and enjoyed. Oh, and did I mention that parts of it never leave you? Yep, this fixation I have with food has caused me to really pack on the pounds in the past year or so.

I identified myself years ago as a “stress eater.” I’m also a “boredom eater,” a “celebratory eater” and a general “social eater.” The truth is, I don’t need much of an excuse. I have a really hard time dieting because my family likes to eat and they like for me to cook. I have always been surrounded by a bunch of tall, skinny kids (not from my genetics). If I wanted to diet, I really had to prepare a special meal for myself because the rest of the family needed more calories. Have you heard enough excuses yet?

I have to take this in hand. My strategy of making everyone around me fat so that I appeared to be thinner doesn’t seem to be working. The only one who has taken the bait has been our dog, Lucy. Somehow, having a fat Jack Russell doesn’t really help me that much. I’m still bigger than she is. Sigh…

So, what’s your motivation for starting a healthier eating program and sticking with it? And, no fair if you’re single and don’t have to cook for anyone else!


General Tsao’s Chicken February 22, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 1:05 pm

It isn’t often that I find a “diet” recipe that receives rave reviews from my non-dieting family, but, this particular Asian classic from Weight Watcher’s really won me over. It’s requested even when no one is trying to watch their weight and be healthy. Some changes from the original version are stir-frying in a small amount of oil instead of deep-frying, eliminating the egg that would have been used to batter fry the chicken, and using reduced-sodium chicken broth and soy sauce. In Weight Watcher’s speak, the recipe is worth about 6 points, as compared to its original 15 points. If you like Chinese Food, give it a shot.

General Tsao’s Chicken

3/4 cup canned chicken broth, reduced sodium

2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp sugar

2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp peanut oil

2 medium scallions, chopped

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or 1 dried chili pepper, minced

1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 cups cooked white rice, kept hot


1. In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger; set aside.

2. Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions, garlic and pepper and cook 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes.

3. Add reserved sauce and simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes.

4. Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Yields about 1 cup of chicken and sauce and 1/2 cup of rice per serving.

Cook’s notes: I frequently double the recipe so there are leftovers. I also like to add a few veggies (zucchini, bean sprouts, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots) for a little variety and to get a veggie in the meal.


Monopoly Here and Now Edition February 21, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 12:22 pm

I couldn’t sleep last night. When I can’t sleep, I usually get up and do something completely mindless until I get drowsy and can go back to bed. Last night, that meant playing Monopoly online. But, this was the “new and improved” Monopoly. It’s the Here and Now Edition.

This Monopoly game is sort of hard to get used to. Instead of railroads, there are airports. Instead of waterworks and electric companies, there is cell phone and internet service. Instead of Park Place and Broadway, there is Fenway Park and Times Square.

And the money is measured in millions instead of hundreds. It’s a pretty scary thing when you see rent on an improved property climb into the “over $10,000,000 stratosphere.”

There is something I miss, though, about the nostalgia of the old version. It’s just not quite the same moving around the board with a hybrid car instead of a Rolls Royce. Yes, the game did the trick and after playing for awhile I was tired enough to go fall into bed and snooze, but, the experience is definitely something I’ll have to get used to. On the plus side, the paydays when you pass GO are now a cool $2 million! Probably the only million dollar paydays I’ll ever see!


Remembering mudpies February 20, 2007

Filed under: Short stories from my far,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 1:38 pm

It’s funny the conversations you have on the way to work in the morning. I don’t know exactly how my husband and I started on the topic, but, suddenly we were waxing nostalgic about the games we used to play when we were young children. Wow, that was a LONG time ago.

I grew up on a farm in a house right next door to my grandparents. What a great way to live life as a child. My parents worked and my grandparents were my babysitters. They had a huge yard that was fenced and my Granny was an avid gardener. She had this enormous bunch of honeysuckle bushes around the corner of her back yard. They completely covered the fence and spilled far out into the lawn. I can still remember their heavenly smell (and the bees). There was a magical thing about those honeysuckle bushes. For a small child who could burrow under the branches to the open space underneath, they were a playhouse. Some days the bushes were a submarine, others a cave. But, most days, they were my playhouse. I had an old blanket, some disposable pie pans, an old spoon or two, a bucket and, of course, a doll. I had a collie named Poochie that often joined me underneath the honeysuckle for a little company. It was about as perfect a playhouse as a farm kid in Small Town, USA could wish for back in the 1960’s.

All was great until I decided I needed a bit more space. I found the hedge clippers and decided to clear a larger space underneath the honeysuckle. It wasn’t a big deal until Granny noticed that a large patch of her honeysuckle died and she started to investigate. Poochie and I were evicted. Immediately.

We moved to the garden and set up housekeeping there. That’s when I discovered the magic of mudpies. I would dig in the dirt by the garden gate and scoop the soil into an old Folger’s coffee can. Some days I would add a little grass, others some twigs, maybe a few seeds or flowers if I could find them. (Not the ones from Granny’s flower bushes, though. We would have been evicted again.) I would mix this with water from the garden hose, put them in aluminum pot pie pans and set them to “bake” in the afternoon sun on top of the garden fenceposts. Wow, that was fun. I’d almost forgotten how much fun.

While they were baking, I’d while away the afternoon pretending to be a “fairy” and playing among the giant sunflowers Granny and Gramps grew in their garden. I would play “pioneer” and journey from one end of the garden to the other, encountering all manner of disasters in between. Actually, the worst disaster was running into the bees at the other end. My Gramps was a beekeeper. I, personally, hated the bees, but, loved the honey.

When the mudpies were done, I’d take them down and have a lovely teaparty with Poochie and my dolls. I was dirty and my clothes were a mess, but, I was very content in my imaginary world. It’s too bad kids today have so many toys to play with. They miss out on so much of the magic they carry in their imaginations. It’s a wonderful thing, although it occasionally causes trouble. Maybe tomorrow I’ll tell you about playing hospital and what happens to your backside when you write numbers on imaginary hospital doors!

What was your favorite imaginary play when you were little?


It almost feels like spring! February 19, 2007

Filed under: My View on Weather,Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 7:31 pm

It’s amazing that a day in midwinter that is warmer than usual can make you believe that spring is just around the corner. People are much more energetic today, they literally have a spring in their step! I wandered around Sam’s yesterday and my husband was gushing about how wonderful it smelled in the grass seed and fertilizer section. After I finished having a sneezing fit (grass seed=allergies) I thought how amusing it is that a man can get so excited over a weedeater. It’s kind of cute.

This week is supposed to be a rare one this winter with temperatures around 50 degrees through the weekend. I’m going to defy winter and throw off my coat this week and walk around in my shirt sleeves. I’m even thinking about opening a window or two if it hits 50 degrees and airing out the house to get rid of the “winter smell.”

What are you planning to do to celebrate this little gift of spring in the middle of February?


What is my purpose? February 18, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 10:34 pm

Today at church, we kicked off our special Bible study and sermon series based on Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose, based on his bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life. With all due respect to my pastor, he’s going to have to do a better job of keeping my attention. Within about the first 10 minutes of his sermon, he’d completely lost me. He delivered a line or two early on that immediately inspired me and I was composing song lyrics in my head for the rest of the service. Let me explain…

I used to write a lot of music. I have an old notebook of my lyrics that says it was 1987 when I wrote the last one. That old notebook had been stored away in a box for many years. We were cleaning the basement awhile back and had taken a break. My thirteen year old son came wandering upstairs with the notebook in hand and asked me about it. I told him I used to write music and those were some of my feeble efforts. It made me feel better (almost) than winning a Grammy when he said “Mom, you should write some more. These are really cool.”

Well, we were listening to the opening sermon of our series this morning and the question was posed “what is my purpose?” I realized again the tug and yearning to write music. I came home after church and had penned a first draft of a new song in less than 10 minutes. I was simply amazed. It was just there, without any effort on my part!

If this is any indication of what the rest of the series will be like, I’ll have to beg forgiveness of my pastor in advance. I am simply too busy “fulfilling my purpose” to be able to give him my full attention all the way to the end. I hope he won’t mind too much!;)


Grammy is a meanie February 17, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — auntlelo @ 9:26 pm

Well, my 3 year old grandchild just left and refused to give me a hug or a kiss because Grammy is a meanie. I can’t help it, I simply cannot abide a child of any age who won’t mind. As the mother of 6, it’s always been my view that the adults are the ones who are supposed to be in control, not the children. That doesn’t mean you have to always be quick to spank, but, you definitely have to set parameters for behavior. When you tell a child that they need to do something, you have to train them that there are consequences if they don’t follow instructions.

Children are very quick to sense when an adult means what they say. They’re equally as quick in sensing that someone is all talk and no action. Today, Mommy was all talk and Grammy took over. I sent Mommy out of the room, closed the door and had a heart to heart with my granddaughter.

It didn’t require a spanking, it took a firm voice and the reminder of the fact that I mean what I say. I don’t count to 10 anymore. I tell them no and expect them to respect that. It’s not too difficult as long as you’re consistent.

When my own children were young, I used to count to 3. I remember it got to the point that I didn’t even have to say 1-2-3 out loud, I only had to hold up my fingers. I find that it doesn’t work with the grandchildren. If their parents count to 3, or 5, or 10 and there are no consequences, it isn’t fair for me to do it because they simply won’t understand the change in rules.

1 meant you were in trouble

2 meant you were on really thin ice

3 meant God help you cause Mom was through playing around

It seemed to work pretty well. I have no impact on what happens with my children’s children in their homes, but, when they come to Grammy’s they have to behave cause Grammy’s a meanie!

What do you dislike most about children who won’t behave?