the bavarian gift

This beautiful china belonged to my mother.  When she moved to an assisted living facility I packed it up and stored it for my nephew.

I had no idea if he would want it or not, but perhaps one day he would value it?  It was a longshot, I knew, but I had to save the china just in case.

Sets of unwanted china litter consignment stores.  Really, you can’t give this stuff away…or so I’ve been told many times.  I have four sets of my own and I love using the plates on Thanksgiving.  But I don’t kid myself that anyone is hoping to inherit them.

Fast forward a few years, when my nephew’s parents assured me that the china would make a great gift for my soon-to-be-married nephew and his lovely fiancé.  Oh, the joy!  Last weekend I started the unpacking-scrubbing-stacking-counting process.   This china had never lived in a house with a dishwasher, so I washed it very carefully in the sink.

Because there were pieces missing (my mother bought the set from her landlady back in the 1940’s) I searched the internet for pieces to add.

“” referred to the pattern as “BAV137”, but had nothing available.  Neither did Etsy or Ebay, but I will keep looking.  It’s very old, possibly from 1898-1903. Or 1898-1923.

I know china is a thing of the past, like wedding goblets and cloth diapers, but I think it’s still special.

Do you?

Posted in family, rhode island, secondhand stuff | 2 Comments

hallelujah, a journey, a song

Do you remember Leonard Cohen? Judy Collins’ singing “Suzanne” and “Bird on the Wire”?

I still remember all the words.

Have you loved the song “Hallelujah”?

I don’t know the words.

This documentary about Leonard Cohen’s life and song-writing journey is on Netflix and well worth your time.

Banjo Man and I enjoyed it so much. If you have the time, check out the trailer:

Posted in a more pie opinion, music, television | 1 Comment

super bowl 57: day of weird food

Because I am neither a Kansas City Chiefs fan or a Philadelphia Eagles fan, I have decided to put a little effort into the food today.

No, I am not having a party.  Daughter Nancy is stopping by to hang out for a while and I really, really hope she is hungry because I feel like cooking.

Correction:  I feel like cooking weird food.

These “L’il Smokies” are wrapped in bacon and will be topped with a combo of melted butter and brown sugar, then baked. Ridiculous. I made them once in Austin and son Ben declared they were delicious but I should never make them again. The guy who never eats vegetables had a health-conscious opinion?

Go figure.

So don’t ask why I am serving them today. I don’t know.

Then there is a recipe I saw on the internet. It required three ingredients: a bag of frozen meatballs, a can of pineapple and a bottle of bbq sauce. Dump everything in the crock pot, stir and cook on low or high, depending on when you want to eat.

I can’t remember when I last bought frozen meatballs. Maybe sometime in the 90’s. The weirdness of this recipe appealed to me, so on our last phone call I ran it past my grandson (we like to discuss future meals for the summer) and he thought it sounded good, but without the pineapple.

We’ll see.

And then I did this:

I bought dough. And I am going to make my own pizzas this afternoon. Picking up pizza–as good as it is–at the local Italian place seemed like a hassle, especially on Super Bowl Sunday. And I really didn’t feel like going out.

Who is going to eat all of this? The three of us. This is not the winter to entertain.

I will root for Patrick Mahones. I will pretend I’m having a party. And I’ll go to bed at halftime.

How about you?

Posted in family, food, just for fun, rhode island, television | 1 Comment

it’s a small, small world

In my neverending stacks of plastic bins a colorful part of my childhood was stored.  Yes, the “dolls from around the world” had been waiting to be discovered again for fifty-eight years.

I was very happy to see them.  Maybe unearthing the past is actually fun after all.

Barbie and two Breyer horses were also in the box.  Some of you might recognize this early Barbie (circa 1960-61).  I sewed a lot of clothes for her out of scraps from my mother’s and grandmother’s sewing boxes. She was a good friend.

The Breyer stallions will be bid a fond farewell and listed on Ebay. They’re still gorgeous, but I know of no horse-mad little girls who would love and care for them so off the stallions will go.

The collection of souvenir dolls was created by my Navy father, who bought them at various ports-of-call before I was born.  Some of his Navy friends joined in, so for years the collection grew.  From Hawaii to New Zealand, China to Israel, Italy to Mexico to Haiti and more.  They hung from pink yarn on my bedroom wall.

Banjo Man suggested I display them again and use the old cabinet (it once held razors in an East Providence barber shop) to do so.

Banjo Man is a genius.

Here’s a start.

And more to go:

I’m trying to be very quiet this morning as Banjo Man has gone back to bed.  Exhaustion has hit him hard these past couple of days and he needs more rest.  I won’t be rearranging dolls or moving shelves or experimenting with ideas to attach them to the cabinet until later.  This afternoon I will drive my tired husband to the dump and the grocery store (he is determined to take advantage of a sale on oranges and won’t let me shop for him).  He has seven more radiation treatments left, but has been warned that it will take a while after that to recover his stamina.

It took me a year to feel “normal” again.  It was frustrating, somewhat embarrassing, hard work.  But Banjo Man will be back to his energetic self eventually.

I keep reminding him there’s no hurry.  He’s doing just fine.




Posted in family, rhode island, secondhand stuff, the cancer fight | 2 Comments

craving turkey

I may never eat turkey again.

I’ll back up.  Last week Banjo Man had a craving for turkey soup.  His appetite has diminished during radiation and his love of soup has drastically increased.

So I cooked a turkey last Sunday.  And then we had a mini-turkey dinner, which pleased my husband no end.  Until he cleaned his plate and asked when I was going to make the soup.

I stuffed the carcass, wings and thighs into a large crock pot, covered everything with cold water and simmered it overnight.  Early the next morning Banjo Man picked all the meat off of the bones, chopped onions and carrots and then as soon as I woke up proceeded to ask me–as I sipped my first mug of coffee–when I was going to make the soup.

“Can I get dressed first?”

“Well, all right,” was his reluctant reply.

The house reeked of turkey.  I lit a candle.  Then another.

I ended up not making the damn soup until after we returned from radiation, around 3:00.  And there was so much turkey I made two soups, one a creamy wild rice turkey soup in the 7-quart pot.  And a turkey orzo soup in the 3-quart pot.

That was Monday.  Banjo Man has refused to eat anything else but turkey soup all week.  He is so happy.

Here are the links to the recipes, though I didn’t follow them exactly.  I rarely do, admittedly.  But they served as inspiration and the soups turned out just fine.

Turkey Orzo Soup

Creamy Turkey Rice Soup (Crockpot or Stovetop)

If you have an extra turkey in your freezer and forty people to feed, go for it.


Posted in family, food, rhode island, the cancer fight | 1 Comment

23 below zero

We’re setting records this morning in the midst of an “Arctic blast” in New England. The temperature outside is -6, with a wind chill temp of -23.

But the sun is shining, our pipes didn’t freeze and there are no trees blocking the driveway despite the roaring winds throughout the night.

There is also no snow. And no ice. And warming expected tomorrow.

Our kids in Austin were out of school for four days last week and the city has been declared a disaster area. Power outages and a gazillion fallen trees and branches have made the Texans’ Arctic Blast a real ordeal.

Meanwhile, back by the ocean, we’re going out to dinner tonight. Just a few miles down the road is the General Stanton Inn, recently purchased and reopened by an energetic couple determined to bring this old gorgeous place back to life.

I very much hope we get the room with the colonial fireplace, originally built in 1667.

Here’s a bit of history from the website:

The Inn’s history begins in 1650 Colonial America. The Niantics, a tribe in Narragansett Nation, rewarded Thomas Stanton property in Charlestown, Rhode Island for brokering a deal to return their beloved Native American princess who had been abducted. The notorious Manese tribe had staged a daring night raid and kidnapped the young princess, taking her to their village on Block Island. Thomas Stanton rowed 12 miles over ocean swells to the island and negotiated her freedom. Upon her return, the Narragansetts gifted Stanton with a four by two-mile tract of land. The General Stanton Inn resides on this land today. 

The Stanton’s were enduring friends and lifelong champions of the local tribes. In 1740, Thomas Stanton’s grandson, Joseph Stanton II, built the Inn next to a small “dwelling” on the gifted land. He converted this small dwelling, which dates to 1667, into what is believed to be the first Native American school in Colonial America. The “schoolhouse” has been preserved in its original colonial-period form.

An early member of the Sons of Liberty, it is believed Joseph Stanton III used the tavern in the 1770’s as a secret gathering place for George Washington’s revolutionary war spy ring. Washington’s trust in Colonel Stanton dated back to their French Indian War fighting days. His nephew, General Joseph Stanton IV would later serve as  the leader of Rhode Island’s first militia, using the tavern to plan Revolutionary War strategies to defeat the British. Having served with distinction, he would later be elected Rhode Island’s very first U.S. Senator.

In the 1800’s the General Stanton Inn became a welcome stop for horse-drawn carriages and stagecoaches on the well-traveled Post Road between Boston and Philadelphia. The Inn also became a hideout for fugitive slaves and clandestine gatherings. In the early 1830’s Brigadier General Joseph Stanton V befriended abolitionist Moses Brown who enlisted Stanton to assist runaway African American slaves traveling north on the underground railroad. 

You can read more about it on the website,

Last time we were there, in early January, Banjo Man and I ordered the 1740 Prime Burgers and agreed they were the best burgers we’d ever had in our lives.

Definitely worth braving below zero temps for.


Posted in food, rhode island | 2 Comments

goodbye january, see you next year

Today Banjo Man will complete his 15th radiation treatment.  Meaning he’s halfway to the finish line.

Feel free to applaud!!!

Meanwhile, back in the office, I overslept and am still in my nightgown, but that’s okay.  Banjo Man’s friend Steve drives him to the cancer center on Tuesdays, which gives me the day off.  Bonus?  It’s snowing, just a little, so it’s a very good day to stay home and make a chicken casserole.  Banjo Man has requested a family favorite, made with layers of broccoli, special curry sauce and stuffing on top of it all.

Between cooking, baking, practicing the violin, cleaning out the basement, etc, here are a couple of things I’m working on:

It’s not at all fancy, but I think the recipient will love it for its old-fashioned fabrics.  These Civil War repro fabrics, along with some 1930’s prints, were a gift from Harley Chick.  I am so glad I can use them!  The rows are pinned and ready to sew together, which I hope happens this afternoon.  Sewing rows together is my least favorite part of quilting and always seems to take forever.

And then there is this:

Yes, it’s a very, very purple quilt.  For someone in Texas whose favorite color is purple.  What you see here is 1/4 of the quilt (the blocks are 8″ square).  I have decided to construct it in fourths to avoid the stepladder and also stitch shorter rows.

We are not very energetic this winter, but that’s okay.  Banjo Man’s health is our top priority, so we’re taking it easy, spending lots of time on the couch and going to bed early.

Check this out, on Apple tv, for an exciting series:


Posted in quilting, rhode island, television, the cancer fight | 1 Comment

late to lasso

I realize this is old news, with this tv show having won tons of awards, but we just started watching.

And we love it. What a bright spot in a gray winter! The characters are absolutely lovable and hilarious.   Always kind and optimistic American Ted Lasso is surprisingly hired to manage a football (aka soccer) team in Britain, where he is immediately detested.  Let the games begin!

My friend Mayme recommended it months ago, but it took me some time to break down and subscribe to yet another streaming company, Apple TV, for $6.99 a month. You can get a free 7-day trial and binge the two seasons, though, now that football is almost over.  But if anything is worth $7.00, it’s this show.

I have a crush on Roy Kent, “a veteran at the tail end of his career whose gruff exterior (including multiple profanities and damn near monosyllabic speech patterns) neatly cover up a vibrant inner sensitivity.” (

Really, I can’t recommend this enough.


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week 2 is behind us

This was the view from my car in the cancer center’s parking lot.  We’ve had a bit of rain, but thankfully no snow.

Banjo Man is doing very, very well so far.  He’s like Superman.  As usual, the doctors and medical staff are impressed.

I, on the other hand, have had several close calls (fender benders) in the nearby shopping complex and have decided never to enter it again.  In my defense, the huge lot is always full, the spaces are tight, the lanes narrow and the other drivers are insane.

I also hit a curb on the way to my violin lesson, but let’s not talk about that.

Last Monday I dropped Banjo Man off for his treatment and drove past the nightmare shopping center (home of Panera) and went instead to Starbucks.  I used a Starbucks gift card and spent 30 minutes reading inside the shop while the rain poured down outside.

This cup of tea cost $3.53.
Never again, except under the risk of hypothermia and dehydration…or in an airport…or in Idaho during the pumpkin latte season.

Then Dr. Angela loaned me one of her giant Yeti coffee mugs, so I made my own peach tea (thank you, Dancing Mandolin Player) at home and stayed in the parking lot of the cancer center and read for forty-five minutes, which was lovely.  Banjo Man took a sip when he returned to the car and burned his tongue, which wasn’t lovely.

We have also remembered that Thursday is the turkey dinner special at Cracker Barrel.  That might not sound like a big deal, but during my radiation days it was a major highlight of each week.  The tradition continues!

One of our recently retired friends has offered to drive Banjo Man to his treatments a couple of days a week, which is SO WONDERFUL.  I’m sure it’s a nice break for my husband, who now has someone else to talk to besides me.  It meant I had the time and energy yesterday to make meat balls for the weekend.  And another blueberry ricotta cake, too.

It also meant I wasn’t running late for my violin lesson and didn’t hit any curbs along the way while trying to get there on time.

But let’s not talk about that.


Posted in family, rhode island, the cancer fight | Leave a comment

getting help, 2023 style

Early in December my cell phone stopped taking voice mails.  They would turn up a few weeks later or not at all. I know my friends were baffled when I didn’t get back to them.  Embarrassing, to say the least.

Another very inconvenient issue was the inability to get texts with security codes in order to access a lot of important online accounts.

When I switched from Verizon to Visible (and saved a ton of money) I expected a glitch or two, but the days of zipping off to the Verizon store for in-person help were over.

After searching through the community forums and Google with no luck finding solutions, it was–God help me–time to “chat”.

While waiting my turn in line (I started out at 17), I organized my Stationery bin.  I threw away ten-year old unused Christmas cards and matched a gazillion greeting cards to their envelopes.

When it was my turn to chat I typed in my issue and then It Began.  The person on the chat line was very pleasant, but we would be chatting together for TWO HOURS.

It didn’t take long for me to catch on that this was going to take a while.  The person (he? she?) kept trying things and each time I would attempt to send voice mails to myself using Banjo Man’s phone.  In the meantime, there was this:

What are they, you ask?  440 (yes, you read that correctly, 440) 2 3/4″ squares for a 110 snowball blocks. Each square needs a diagonal line drawn on it, a guide for stitching a perfect corner.


This marking project was finished before the phone was fixed, but I do have voice mail and text messages now and that is very exciting–and such a relief.

These snowball blocks are being sewn whenever I have a few extra minutes.  They will eventually become a quilt, but there’s no rush.  We are in the second week of Banjo Man’s radiation treatments and the days are busy.  Even finding the energy to cook and practice the violin is a challenge, but I try.  The important thing:

Banjo Man is doing well.

He has a new blanket.

Posted in quilting, rhode island | 1 Comment