Two local business men, who became friends of mine, recently sold their bakery and retired. The sale included the equipment and the recipes.

The new owners will be changing the bakery’s name.

I’m sure that Bob and Roger didn’t precisely time their closing with the last of their business cards. Since I always try to be a helpful friend, I thought I should come up with a list of top ten things to do with old business cards.

It was easy to come up with ten. In fact, eleven and twelve just proved the cookie wasn’t crumbling. But what sense did a top twelve list make. I thought that I should work to get a number which is divisible by five.

Fifteen spawned sixteen and seventeen. A slice of cheesecake later and voilá I had twenty.

Without further ado, I present

Twenty things to do with old business cards

1. Build a house of business cards.
2. Crosscut shred for confetti, then throw a party.
3. Use as bookmarks.
4. Revive the Victorian custom and use them as calling cards(may take some scratching out).
5. Origami practice sheets.
6. Really awful toilet paper.
7. Alternative for dental floss or toothpicks.
8. Small note cards or scrap paper.
9. Leave under car windshield wipers at the mall.
10. Build boats for ants.
11. World’s smallest post cards.
12. Decoupage.
13. Tiny paper airplanes.
14. Cut them into smaller various sizes for a pocket jigsaw puzzle.
15. Make small paper hats for the Geico gecko.
16. Make small flip books (draw something on the edge so when you fan through them it looks as if the drawing is moving.”)
17. Tape them to toothpicks to make fans for dolls.
18. Compost filler.
19. Paper footballs (ask any sixth grader).
20. Support your local landfill.

That should be enough to get them started. They’re retired now. I’ll let them continue the list. Good luck Bob and Roger.

My section of the country has not been plagued my flooding. According to the local news there have been a few roads temporarily closed because of high water. I’ve seen one sign, but no water.
My reference to water has to do with the humidity.
I take a shower about 2 p.m., to be fresh and clean for work at 4 p.m. Alas, by 3 p.m. I’m drenched in humidity. Even at air-conditioned work, I’m looking for the fan to place next to my computer. I’m not running marathons or carrying tons of books but I’m still dripping.
The real test results of “How hot and humid is it?” came when I opened a miniature bag of peanut M&Ms. I discovered they really do melt.
And NOT in my hand!

Most of my family – mother, two brothers and a sister – live where we were all born. Only one sister and I wandered from “home”. I live two hours away and S.J. lives about a 10-hour drive.

Like most families, we do try to get together for holidays, major and minor, and birthdays. Depending on my schedule or that of my husband and/or son, we will go north. Sis isn’t usually able to make the trek without major planning. That doesn’t stop anyone from inviting all of us.

The following “discussion” recently took place among my siblings and me about Memorial Day.

CJ:Hello Everyone!

Just wondered if anyone was available or even interested in getting together sometime next weekend for a cookout. The lake house is open Saturday, Sunday or Monday.
Let me know which day works best for you.

SJ: Thanks so much for including us — I really wish I/we could make it!

Miss you all. Wish I could just blink & be there (or you could just blink & be here — Nutmeg & I would love the company:).

Have PHUN!!!

LJ: O, no,no! You click your ruby slippers together. Gees! Blink and be there! Whoever heard of such a thing?

RJ: Wrong! You call Scotty or twitch your nose.

SJ: LOL…I forgot there were so many options!!! All great suggestions — will start working on them immediately;)

LJ: : > )

If I decide, too, may I share these on my blog? It will help explain where I come from.

SJ: You may — cute! (BTW, I’m thinking Jeannie ‘blinked’, didn’t she?;)

LJ: She crossed her arms in front of her and nodded her head, probably while blinking.

LJ: (again) I just asked Bill (my husband). He says, “At that time in my illustrious career, I was more concerned with her costume than her actions.”

SJ: :)

RJ: Nuff said.

All these exchanges took place over e-mail and as quickly as if we were sitting in the same room having an actual discussion.

CJ, who started the conversation teaches and was not at a computer to see what transpired until the end of the day when she came home and replied:

CJ: I was lost as to what these e-mails were all about since I read them in the wrong order. Now I get it! Yes Jeannie did blink. I would just tell you to think lovely thoughts and sprinkle the Fairy dust.

Now you know why the circus is missing a few clowns. There in my family.

I requested to review The Accident, Chris Pavone’s second mystery. I had previously read his first book, The Expats and enjoyed it. I also had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Pavone at a book retreat that I’ve attended for several years. I enjoyed the first book and was eager to see if the author had grown at all with his sophomore experience.

He has.

This book taps Pavone’s previous long-time career in publishing.

A manuscript arrives via carrier at Isabella’s literary agency. The manuscript denotes the author is ‘anonymous.’ The contact information appears to be spurious but the information in the manuscript is scandalous for a prominent media mogul. Isabella realizes she has been put in a precarious position and tries to limit the number of people who have access to the manuscript.

Pavone has written a tight tale of intrigue that kept me looking over my own shoulder to make sure no one was going to steal this manuscript from my hands. In fact, as soon as I finished the book, I started over to allow myself to play detective from a more knowing position the second time.

With the number of books that I have stacked up to read, this isn’t something I do lightly. Since I liked it twice, I’ll bet you’ll like it once – at least.

Thanks to Blogging for Books for supplying the book to me.

Hair has been a distraction to me for my entire life. My do usually didn’t. In grade school I sat next to Carol Dumphey who could receive the brunt of a tornado and come out with every single hair exactly where it should be. On the other hand, I could sit in a hermetically sealed mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnall’s back porch and my hair would still sproing like a too tightly wound guitar string.
Over the years, in order to reduce my frustration, I have developed a wash and go style which includes getting a haircut only when-I-can-no-longer-stand-the-length. No scheduled appointments every two weeks for me. To me, this makes for a dramatic change in my appearance between when I walk into the beauty parlor in contrast to how I look like when I walk out. I don’t get trims; I get inches cut.
Evidently this isn’t obvious to Husband of more than twenty-seven years.
He has two reactions to my tonsorial changes. I’m not sure which I prefer.
The first is to say absolutely nothing. I’m convinced it is actually because he has gotten so absorbed in something (a video game, a TV show, a fire call, etc.) that his brain has been wiped clean of my whereabouts.
The second routine has developed over the years as a result of my vocal frustrations that he hadn’t noticed what, to me, couldn’t be missed.
I would return from the beauty parlor, take no more than two steps past the front door and hear Husband, in a very deliberate but robotically stilted voice say, “Gee, mom. Your hair. Sure looks. Nice.”
At least he was trying – very trying.
Recently, I did something for only the second time in twenty years. I got my nails done. The winter was unbelievably tough on my nails. I needed professional help. I made an appointment with a nail salon.
While there, I made a daring decision. “Do you have green?” She did.
My nails complimented my wardrobe and cane. I left the salon with a confident strut. That strut lead me through our front door to hear Husband’s the dulcet vocal tones, “Gee, mom. Your hair. Sure looks. Nice.”
I laughed resoundedly as I turned to face him, “That’s all well and good except that I had my nails done.”
I didn’t let his conservatism deflate my feelings. After all, he’s lived with me for so many years his Christmas present to me several years ago was my green cane.
He had developed a way to acknowledge by beauty shop visits, he could find a way to deal with green nails.
It’s not like it’s a really disgusting color. Like pink.

Billy Joel has long been one of my favorite pop singers. Part of our courtship included sitting with my not-yet-husband in the nose-bleed section at one of Joel’s concerts in the late 1980s. Where I sat didn’t matter. Joel put on a great show.

Over the years, I’ve read very little about him in the press. I knew he and Christie divorced. I knew of a series of car accidents. Coincidentally, a few weeks before I started this book, I saw the PBS program where he was honored by the Library of Congress with The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

Billy Joel by Fred Schruers and published by Crown Archetype gives a lot more of the famous songwriter’s story. (I received a free copy of the book for this review from Blogging for Books.)

Schruers portrait includes many familiar settings: absent father, raised by single mother with little money, poor school performance, naive trust in others all of which often result in bitterness and resentment.

Joel’s feelings pour out in the music and is able to stay on civil terms with most who have wronged him. He is wise enough, though, to walk away from those who don’t work for a common good – whether it be a show or a marriage.

The early pages present a few branches of the Joel family tree accounting for his grandparents emigrating from an unsettled Europe because of Hitler’s actions.

The bulk of the book explains the music business and the seminal moments of individual songs (The Stranger, Piano Man, Uptown Girl).

The story of any individual song emphasizes that most of what Joel writes is autobiographical, something that won’t come as a surprise to ardent fans.

What may surprise readers of this book is how much Billy Joel is a common man, looking for love and fulfillment, like his fans. Just with a tad more capital at his fingers.

A few days before Christmas, Husband, planning for a trip to the grocery asked, “How about lasagna for Christmas Eve?”

“Sounds good. Are you going to cook it?”

“Well, kind of.”

I knew immediately that meant he would be perusing the frozen food aisle of the store. I thought I could do better, so I said, “I’ll make it.”

I have a lasagna recipe that I found in a Good Housekeeping magazine in the 1970s. It was a “Susan learns to cook recipe” that I had never had any complaints about, but neither do I receive accolades the last time I served it to Husband and Son.

“It’s okay.”

Not what I want to hear after spending hours preparing a meal.

I knew immediately where to find a new recipe.

I had seen someone on a morning show make her recipe to raves from the rest of her cast members. I’d try that.

I sat down with my computer and googled, “Joy Behar’s lasagna recipe.” Of course, the result was hundreds of sites offering the recipe.

I started with the first, clicked on the link and started to read. The ingredient list appeared short; it didn’t even include lasagna noodles. I scrolled down to the comment section where the first one mentioned the abbreviated list.

Back to Google, I chose the second link. I read the list of ingredients which was longer than the previous one I had read. I did, however, come across something even I, the self-acknowledged recipe follower rather than cook, questioned. About half way down the list I found this: 1 oz. crushed italian tomato.

One ounce crushed italian tomato?

I felt sure it was supposed to be 1 ounce of capitalized Italian tomato paste or capitalized Italian tomato sauce or anything other than the teeniest bit of capitalized Italian tomato.

Back to Google and a third recipe.

This time, the ingredients list seemed complete and understandable.

I made a grocery list derived from the recipe and went to the store for the ingredients.

A couple of hours before supper, I started to prepare the sauce. Soon I called Son to help with preparing the lasagna noodles and chopping onions, parsley, and basil.

I then asked him to prepare the cheese and egg mixture.

I had what I thought I needed for the sauce at arm’s length so I could quickly add ingredients as the directions called for.

All went well until the directions” Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, basil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper.”

I added the crushed tomatoes. I added the tomato sauce. I had Son help me with the tomato past since the easiest way to get the most from the can is to open both ends and push the paste through and then removing the lid from the top of the paste glob. Next oregano.

Oregano?

I asked Son if he could find oregano in the list of ingredients.

“No.”

I didn’t have the fresh that the recipe called for. After a quick examination of the cupboard, I found dried oregano. I dumped (yes, dumped) a bit in the almost sauce trying to compensate for the age of the herb.

Can no one get this recipe right?

I let the guys layer the ingredients. As they were ready to put the dish in the oven, another light bulb went on over my head.  I said, “We forgot about garlic bread.”

Fortunately, the grocery was open for about 40 more minutes, so Son and I took off in search of garlic bread.

Of course, while we were in the store, we thought of a couple of other things we’d forgotten. We split up to get what we needed and allow the Kroger employees to get out on time.

I rounded a corner by the pharmacy seeing the pharmacist in the aisles. Having seen me earlier in the day with a very large bottle of cream sherry, she questioned if I’d run out already. (I wasn’t making that recipe until Friday.)

She shared that there wasn’t a drop of egg nog in the entire store. “It’s our family tradition.”

I suggested that she might make her own.

“How do you do that?”

“Well, when you get home, sit down at your computer, bring up Google, and type “e-g-g n-o-g.”

I’m willing to acknowledge, now, that I evidently suffered a disconnect from Google recipe experience.

The finished lasagna was a hit. Son had at least 3 helpings. Husband gave me better than, “eh, it’s okay.” I was content.

Stouffer’s might have been easier. Stouffer’s might not have tasted as good. But Stouffer’s wouldn’t have given me the family time nor this great story to accompany it.

Now, how much oregano do I need to add…?

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