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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

200 Things to Throw Away

My kids don't believe me, but I really am working on this.  When I was growing up, I would hear the mantra "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."   I come from a long line of savers.  Not hoarders, not junkies, not even collectors, but just good hard working folks who saved bits of string in a ball, scraps of fabric for quilts, and always leftovers from supper!  Mind you, this same mindset is now sometimes called repurposing, because many times, these saved things do get used.  But it also leads to too many kept things that take up too much room and are not useful again. Ever.  I am determined to simplify our home and what is in it.  One small box or drawer at a time. What of these things is hardest for you to donate or throw away? Comments? Anyone want to join me in this effort?

My next post will offer some of the ways I have shared or donated.  I truly do not like throwing away!

The following list comes from the blog linked here.  Many thanks!

1.  Old product boxes (Apple products, TV, etc.)
2.  Hangers from the dry cleaners
3.  Plastic hangers from the store
4.  Expired make up
5.  Half-finished projects…you know the one!
6.  Magazines
7.  Old emery boards (buy a nice glass one and be done with those scratchy things!)
8.  Old paint (Visit to find a place to dispose of it safely)
9.  Ugly undergarments you hate to wear (You have those “just in case” pairs too, right?)
10.  Bills, taxes, paperwork over 7 years old
11.  Socks with holes or without mates…also those lonely socks that have holes too. :)
12.  Extra cups and mugs – How many does your family use in a regular dishwasher load?  Add a few more for company and be done with the rest.
13.  Books you’ve never read or will never read again
14.  Old technology (8 tracks, floppy discs, VHS tapes w/o a player, etc.)
15.  Unloved toys
16.Cleaning rags – You only need a few before you’ll wash them again, right?
17.  Tea light candles – Use them or lose them.
18.  Take out menus you never look at
19.  Old greeting cards (Save the super sentimental ones and recycle the rest)
20.  Outdated over the counter drugs and vitamins
21.  Old sneakers (Recycle through Nike)
22.  Plastic cutlery
23.  Old spices – Spices don’t actually spoil but they lose their potency.  A good rule of thumb is 1-2 years for seasoning; 1-3 for herbs and ground spices; and up to 4 years for whole spices.
24.  Duplicate power cords (USB, etc.  We have 3 vTech ones for the kiddos’ toys but only need one)
25.  Bobby pins
26.  Games with missing pieces
27.  Dried up nail polish bottles
28. Video games you’ll never play again
29.  Recalled baby items (carseats, cribs, etc.)
30.  Jewelry you don’t wear
31.  Expired food in your freezer/pantry
32.  Rugs or home decor you haven’t used since you redecorated
33.  Unused perfumes and cologne
34.  Old towels that make you cringe when you look at them
35.  Extension cords (Am I the only one who has a bazillion of these?)
36.  Extra sets of bed linens – two per bed tops
37.  Unused plastic containers – especially those without a lid and those old plastic containers. Avoid containers with recycle codes 3 or 7 as they may contain BPA.
38.  Old bills (Switch to online banking and stop the clutter before it comes in your home)
39.  Paychecks older than 2 years
40.  Stretched out hair ties
41.  Matches you never use (Maybe save a few in case of a power outage)
42.  Old newspapers
43.  Expired Rx meds (Visit for proper ways to dispose of them)
44.  Extra pillows
45.  Ticket stubs (Sentimental like myself?  Store in a scrapbook or fill a mug with old stubs)
46.  Make up you’ll try “one day”  If you’ve owned if for more than 2 weeks without trying it, toss it.
47.  Clothes that are more than 2 sizes too small.  Don’t give up on your weight loss dream but WHEN you do lose that weight go and buy new clothes to reward yourself.
48.  Things you’ve bought have haven’t returned yet (Return them, sell, or donate them)
49.  White-out bottles – You know you don’t need it!
50.  Unneeded notebooks
51.  Pens and pencils – Keep your favorites and let go of the rest
52.  Little shampoo bottles from a hotel you went to 5 years ago
53.  Knick knacks that don’t make you smile every time you see them
54.  Cords that don’t belong to anything you currently own
55.  Lose screws, nuts, bolts, etc. unless you happen to be a handy man who would actually reuse them one day
56.  Kid’s old art projects (I have an upcoming post with loads of ideas on this so for now just set them aside)
57.  Old party supplies
58.  Old wedding favors (Keep a few, toss the rest)
59.  Old Christmas cards of your family (Save a few, recycle the rest)
60.  Holiday decor you never remember to set out (Thanksgiving turkey Aunt Sue gave you)
61.  Holiday decor that you use once a year (ex. Easter deviled egg tray that collects dust 364 days of the year!  Buy a lovely one that you can use for other holidays too.)
62.  Cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, shampoo that you used once and didn’t like.  Donate to a local shelter.
63.  Flower pots.  Plant a flower or toss the pot.
64.  Watering cans if you don’t have flowers.
65.  Too small kid’s clothing.  Only save favorites if you’re saving for another child.  Sell the rest while they’re still in style.
66.  Extra buttons (If you don’t sew, toss them all.  Reduce your supply if you will use a button in the next few months)
67.  Old calendars
68.  Unidentified frozen objects (Label ya’ll!  Keep a Sharpie by the freezer for quick labeling)
69.  Movies you’ll probably never watch again
70.  Bags from the mall you might use one day (Keep only 1 if you must)
71.  Multiple pair of scissors (One or two tops, right?)
72.  More ear buds than you’ve got family members
73.  Curling irons, crimpers (ha! flash back), or straighteners you don’t use
74.  Highlighters unless you’ve used one in the past month, then save only that one
75.  Travel mugs that leak, or are ugly, or that you don’t use because you have to hand wash it
76.  Boxes – shoe boxes, diaper boxes, cereal boxes.  Recycle and be free.
77.  Samples of any kind – Use, donate, or trash.
78.  Games you haven’t played in the last year
79.  Tape measures – You know the rule, keep one and toss the rest.
80.  Old phone covers, styluses, screen protectors, etc.
81.  Misc. ribbons or string
82.  Expired coupons
83.  Organizers you bought to get organized that didn’t work
84.  Belts that no longer fit, are worn, or are out of style
85.  Duplicate kitchen utensils – Have you ever used three wisks at the same time before?  Me neither.
86. Cookie cutters unless you’ve used them in the past year and foresee using them again
87.  Rarely used cake pans – Our bakery supply store rents them for $2 a day.  I no longer need to keep any on hand for those rare occasions I bake.
88.  Old teeth whitening trays or strips.  Use ’em up or toss ’em out.
89.  Hard candy that you’re not sure where it came from or how long it’s been there
90.  Unloved stuffed animals
91.  Half used chap stick containers – Buy a new one! I LOVE my new EOS one with coconut milk.
92.  Duplicate measuring cups and spoons
93.  Old day planners (and current ones if you don’t use them!)
94.  Candles – If it’s not lovely to look at and you’ll never burn it, let it go.
95.  Mason jars (or baby food jars, spaghetti sauce jars, etc.) that you won’t use
96.  Expired sunscreen
97.  Staple remover – unless you can make a very compelling argument to keep yours.
98.  Travel alarm clock – We have phones now.
99.  Stress balls
100.  Plug in air fresheners without a refill
101.  Unloved dog toys
102.  Extra USB flash drives – How many does one family need?
103.  Promotional swag
104.  Key chains you don’t use
105.  Recipe books you don’t ever use
106.  Push pins in the junk drawer just waiting for unsuspecting fingers
107.  Keys that you don’t know what they go to
108.  Lanyards, name tags, bags, etc. from previous conferences
109.  Carabiners – Unless you rock climb, trust me, you won’t use them.
110.  Lotions, face washes, serums that you don’t use
111.  Random batteries you’re not sure where they came from
112.  Multiple book marks – Unless you’re a book worm…you know what to do, toss them.
113.  Combination locks – Chances are slim you’ll use one again but if you do, they’re cheap to replace.
114.  Paper weights
115.  Near empty bottles of bubbles or little numbs of side-walk chalk
116.  Completed coloring books
117.  Markers without lids and lids without markers
118.  Goodie bag toys from previous birthday party celebrations
119.  Empty bottles of anything
120.  Puzzles
121.  Old invitations
122.  Travel brochures
123.  Tissue paper/gift bags
124.  Unused sticky notes
125.  Extra shoe laces
126.  Sticker’s from a precious yard sale
127.  Hair products you don’t use
128.  Take out chopsticks – Buy a reusable pair if you use them a lot
129.  Old prescription glasses – Great donation for the Lions Club.
130.  Old sunglasses – The cat eye is coming back but definitely toss those purple hued ones.
131.  Worn out flip flops.
132.  Magnets – Unless they are lovely or useful, discard.
133.  Posters you’ll never display again
134.  Excess decks of cards
135.  Phone books
136.  Broken Christmas lights
137.  Notes/gifts from old romances
138.  Hats you don’t wear or that look like you shouldn’t
139.  Extra bubble wrap (or am I the only one who has a supply?)
140.  Twisty ties (another one that hits close to home!)
141.  Chip clips
142.  Craft supplies for a project that has already been completed
143.  Paper plates – Use them up!
144.  Loyalty cards – use the key ring version or enter your number for even less clutter
145.  Gift cards – go and enjoy them!
146.  Touristy knick knacks
147.  Business cards – Keep an electronic record
148.  Puzzle books you don’t use
149.  Old textbooks
150.  Unused vases
151.  Stockings with runs in them
152.  Fancy serving bowls you haven’t used in the last year – Use them or sell them.
153.  CDs unless you use them regularly
154.  Old boombox
155.  Piles of “scrap paper”
156.  Purses/dufflebags/old luggage you don’t use
157.  Catalogs
158.  Christmas ornaments that aren’t lovely or sentimental
159.  Instruments you’ve given up on mastering years ago
160.  Clothes that make you feel ugly
161.  Instruction manuals – Most are online now.
162.  Calculators – Phones have replaced these for most people.
163.  Remotes that have no purpose
164.  Emergency sewing kits – I own many and have never used one even once.
165.  Dry erase markers without a board and a board without markers (or both if you don’t use it!)
166.  Extra pencil sharpeners – Only one is needed
167.  Rusty tools you’ll never use again
168.  Lawn and garden pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers you won’t use
169.  Fireworks that are unused (Am I the only one?) – They can be soaked in water overnight then disposed of in a plastic bag.
170.  Dried up super glue
171.  Old and ugly t-shirts
172.  Hair accessories you don’t use
173.  One orphan earring
174.  Dried flowers
175.  Extra photo prints
176.  Gifts you don’t love
177.  Scarves you never wear
178.  Damaged/stained clothing
179.  Plastic children’s plates/cups that they’ve outgrown
180.  Junk mail
181.  Address labels – Do you ever really use them?
182.  Extra folders, binders, labels, etc.
183.  Old cell phones – Recycle!
184.  Old fortune cookie fortunes (Someone else keeps the good ones too, don’t they?)
185.  Used ink cartridges – Recycle them for a little money back
186.  Use to rid yourself from pesky email subscriptions (It’s free but I would pay for this fabulous service!!)
187.  Outdated computer software
188.  Old wallets
189.  Dull or duplicate pocket knives
190.  Spare change lying around – Take it to the bank!
191.  Unused picture frames
192.  Old baby gear that you no longer need – Great donation item if you don’t want to sell it!
193.  Kitchen knives no one uses
194.  Old sports equipment from days gone by
195.  Broken clocks
196.  Coasters that go unused
197.  Plants – Yes, plants that don’t brighten your spirits.  Buy ones that do!
198.  Hole punch you never use
199.  Place mats, napkins, table cloths that never get displayed
200.  Ruled notebook paper – I hate to throw it away but I never use it.  Donate it!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Chips and Salsa and More

This post also appears in my blog Kitchen Keepers.
There I usually write about what is happening in my kitchen, and offer both old favorite and new family recipes. This story could so easily have gone into either blog, I decided to post in both!

In 1976, Joe and I and our sons Benjamin, Jeremy, and Sean  (age almost 3, 5 1/2, and 8) moved from North Dallas to the growing suburb of Plano, Texas. From the time we were getting ready to move to our house on Deep Valley until the time we moved from there, our favorite Mexican food restaurant was Tino’s, owned by Tino Trujillo. Even after we moved away from Plano, we tried to make it to Tino’s when we were back in the area. From the location we first visited in 1976, Tino moved to a spot in Plano’s Collin Creek Mall. Later, there was a third location called Tino’s Too. .
I can still remember Tino’s smile, his warm welcome, and his personal greetings to our sons as they grew. When we first began having meals there, Ben was still 2. Once as we left the restaurant after stopping by the front register to pay, Ben began coughing and choking. He had picked up one of the little round peppermints so often found in restaurants and tried to swallow it. We picked him up and turned him upside down and out popped the mint! Tino always called Ben by his full name, Benjamin, but pronounced ben ha min in Tino's lilting Spanish accent.
One of our favorite dishes was Chicken Flautas so I was delighted to get the recipe when it appeared in the Plano Star Courier, our local newspaper. There was a feature in the paper titled Cooking Corner.  The recipe was titled Pollos Flautas and was contributed by Georgie Farmer, a lady we knew whose picture appeared along with a plate of flautas.
Interesting to me when I pick up the now yellowed and tattered newsprint:  It does not say Tino’s Flautas, but I have always called it that. It has been many years since we had a meal with Tino, and he is no longer with us, so I can’t ask him. But these flautas are exactly like the ones I remember enjoying so long ago. We remember you fondly, Tino!
Tino’s Chicken Flautas
3 Tablespoons margarine (use butter now!)
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup chicken broth
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 Tablespoon parsley
1 teaspoon grated onion
dash each of paprika, ground nutmeg, and black pepper
2 cups finely diced cooked chicken
24 corn tortillas
guacamole and sour cream (optional)
In sauce pan melt butter. Blend in flour, salt, and chicken broth. Cook and stir until the mixture thickens and bubbles. Add lemon juice, parsley, onion, paprika, nutmeg, and pepper. Stir in chicken and cool slightly. Place about 1 1/2 Tablespoons chicken mixture on each tortilla. Roll up tightly.  Fry in deep hot oil at 350 degrees, holding together with tongs for about 10 seconds or until tortilla is crisp. Spoon on guacamole and/or sour cream. We also serve with salsa.
I could have sworn that newspaper recipe was called Tino's Chicken Flautas. Now it is!

Friday, September 18, 2015

11827 South Little John Circle



Last week Joe and I drove by the first house we bought after we were married.  We would have had a hard time recognizing it if we had not known for certain its location and street number. But nearly 50 years later, It appears that another family lives there now who also loves plants!  I smile as I think of the difference in the big truck parked there and our little green VW in the driveway!

In 1966 we bought our first house in a suburb of Houston. The address was 11827 South Little John Circle, in a neighborhood named Fondren Park.  We had the house built for around $14,000, and not only picked the elevation style, the carpet (in the living room only - forest green) and tile (vinyl mosaic) and colors in the kitchen (yellow counters and appliances!)but we drove by to visit the progress almost everyday during the time it was under construction. Our combined salary was barely $700 with Joe working at a company called Independent Exploration and my working at the Hillcroft Medical clinic. We shared rides to work in our Volkswagen.

We moved in, started gardening, mowing, and meeting neighbors like Joan and Edgar Rust (Rusty) and Amon and Lucille White. We  had an inexpensive bed, chest of drawers, and dresser purchased when we moved into our apartment in Houston the year before, gladly accepted the hand me downs of a wicker love seat and rocker from Mother and Daddy, and bought an unfinished round table we lovingly sanded and stained. Chairs from Mexico completed our dining area. We reupholstered a couch and chair that had been my grandmother Terrell's.  We found red fabric at a discount store and painted the wood parts black. I made a wall hanging from burlap and a square of  printed linen.

Soon we felt our nest was feathered as we received the good news that we were expecting our first baby!  We decided to wait to "tell" so that we could do that as a Christmas gift for our parents when we traveled home on Christmas eve. However on Christmas Eve, I had to have emergency surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and spent Christmas week in the hospital.

Our friend, Pat Tarver came to stay with us for a few months while her husband was in basic training. Pat was our church secretary, in the choir with me, and my close friend.  When her husband was stationed at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, we hugged her goodbye without realizing we would soon follow her. After only 10 months in our beautiful little house, Joe accepted a job in San Antonio so we quickly sold our first house, finding another home where we welcomed our beautiful baby son in 1968.  There have been many homes and many good neighbors since but I still use Lucille's recipe for ginger cookies and Rusty's recipe for homemade vanilla ice cream.

When we drove into the much changed neighborhood last Friday, memories began to swirl and surface. Neighborhood potlucks, gathering friends and family around our little table. The time when I proudly put a sprig of my own garden mint in my brother in law's tea glass and he found a worm on it!  Coming home without our much wanted first baby to finally open our Christmas gifts. Loving and supporting each other and learning how nice neighbors can be and how hard it is to say goodbye.

And today, looking at pictures of the house, thinking how very young we were and of all the years in between of faith and family, and our own action adventure!  A few tears and plenty of laughter later, we feel so blessed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


I made a Dutch Baby to serve with blueberries, peaches, and melon on Saturday morning. This puffed pancake has been a family favorite for nearly 30 years, so I no longer look for the scrap of paper on which I first wrote the recipe. But later, I searched through my stack of handwritten recipes and found it. I held it and remembered who first gave me a taste and then gave me the recipe for Dutch Babies. In late 1987, we moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, where Joe worked for ARCO. Among our expatriate friends there were Bob and Dorothy Thomas.  Dorothy gave me the recipe and first served it to us in their home in Jakarta. She passed away about a year ago after a battle with cancer, and last week, her husband Bob followed her. I am sad to say goodbye. I will remember with gratitude their dear friendship, especially when I take a golden brown Dutch Baby from the oven.

Dutch Baby     recipe from Bob and Dorothy Thomas

1/3 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
4 eggs

Heat oven to 425 degrees.  In a 9 inch iron skillet, place butter and put inside oven to melt. Place all the other ingredients in blender and mix thoroughly. When butter is melted and pan is hot, remove from oven and carefully pour batter into melted butter. Do not stir. Carefully return to oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Serve with fresh fruit dusted with powder sugar or topped with whipped cream.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Palace Theater

Recently in a Facebook post that features remembering people and places from my Jacksonville, Texas hometown, an undated photo caught my attention. The thread of comments that followed the picture indicated that many people older as well as those younger than me did remember going to "the show" at the Palace. When I was a teenager in the 1950's,  my parents still owned a small cafe and allowed the Palace managers to post small announcements about the current movie. In exchange, the cafe was given a few passes that allowed entrance for 5 cents!  Of course if we had passes and if I had a date, the benefit was passed on to my date. I can't remember the price of popcorn or a Dr. Pepper or chocolate covered peanuts, but I know that even if we indulged in all three, along with the 5 cent entrance passes, that was a tiny fraction of the cost of going to movies today.  We don't go often, but recently Joe and I took our 12 year old granddaughter to see Inside Out. We shared popcorn and soft drinks. And spent well almost $50!

The Palace did not have multiple screens or seats that rocked. The concession stand had a person who handed out the popcorn along with a friendly exchange although it lacked automated multiple choice drink machines, nachos,  and self serve gourmet popcorn bars with pump your own butter. But  I firmly believe we got more than our money's worth when we went to the show.

I think of Old Yeller, HIgh Noon, Bridge on the River Kwai, Roman Holiday  African Queen, Giant, A Place in the Sun, Sabrina, and of course, Harvey plus all the Alfred Hitchcock thrillers!

I still hum tunes from The King and I, An American in Paris, Singing in the Rain, and Showboat! My younger granddaughters may have the tunes to Frozen memorized, but I am wondering how many films today will be considered memorable over 50 years from now. We do have many more choices for films and for amenities.We do pay for that.  For now, I am happy to have memories of nights out at the Palace, and will leave the ratings to the critics.

Ready to "Let it Go!"

Monday, August 24, 2015

School Days

Maddie and Jordann had their first day of the 2015-2016 school year last week. Now in 4th grade and 2nd grade, they headed back to school in uniforms, with book bag and back pack. Skye started her 7th grade year today. And Lauren is back in her college classes next week. I love this time of year. In our part of Texas, the temperatures are still too hot to think that Fall is almost here, but there are cues beyond the heat and the calendar page. Change is in the air. Back to school means schedule changes for everyone. Our church Wednesday night suppers begin again. Family music time and youth gatherings and handbell rehearsals get back into a rhythm and time is more structured.  I love the lazier days of summer, but there is something so satisfying about getting back into a familiar routine. There are new shoes, new clothes, new books, new projects, new teachers, and new friends. And even for those of us who don't start back to school, the beat changes. Think crisp mornings, leaves turning, pumpkins sprouting everywhere, caramel apples, and the fragrance of cinnamon.

When I was in the second grade, I was in a play called School Days.  I had a red checked dress and our group sang "School days, school days, dear old Golden Rule Days. Reading and writing, and 'rithmetic, taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick."  Hickory sticks are long gone, arithmetic an exercise in mathematics that is a puzzle to me,  reading and writing  may be done with computers and tablets. But school days are back and I am glad!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


One of Nora's first and favorite words is "shoes!"  Pronounced with a special lilt and emphasis! Whether it is used as she looks for her own little pink Nikes, or carries her Daddy's heavy shoe around, it is obvious she loves shoes.  This week I watched as she took her own shoes off and tried again and again to put on my sandals and walk.  I laughed with her as she tried, but my thoughts about the scene lasted for a long time after our giggles. It is a great privilege and a great responsibility to think about her wearing my shoes or following my footsteps.  It is serious business, being a grandmother.