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Friday, February 27, 2015

Friday Funnies

How to get there? 


Hoping for an early thaw?


Humor can be found almost anywhere, even where there hasn't been much to laugh at this winter in New England. (These photos were taken in NH the past couple of weeks.)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Back to the 50s

We like diners — inside & outside. 

They serve what lots of people call comfort food and often a LOT of it.

And, it could also be because we grew up seeing and eating in a lot too many in our home state of NJ. It's a known fact that the small state of NJ (# 46 out of 50) has more diners than any other state — so many that it's nickname is the "Diner Capital." 

When we saw the chrome exterior of Joey's Diner in Amherst, NH recently, we had to stop in for a look and a meal. It was fun to go back in time for an hour or so as we had lunch on a cold and chilly day. The decor is styled after similar 1950 era eateries


Stepping inside Joey's Diner is vintage retro from the checkerboard floor design, counter service and stool seating, chrome and vinyl chairs, and formica table tops. It's a trip down Memory Lane when life was simpler. Back then, going to a diner after a late night date, bowling or a movie, folks came to share good times over a burger while they talked and listened to tunes on the jukebox. You'll still hear those familiar tunes at Joey's.

After entering, the first thing we saw was a telephone booth with a coin-operated phone. Then came a large jukebox right inside the front door complete with rock &amp tunes. There's a Coke® machine and several gas pumps, as well as vintage toys and other items. 

Comfort food is the norm here like on most diner menus including some special breakfast items like the "Elvis Presley" and "General MacArthur."  We sampled some "standard" diner fare: onion rings and really thick clam chowder (New England of course). While the soup was good, we suspected that the onion rings were reheated frozen ones.


Other timeless diner meal choices include: meat loaf, hot dogs with grilled and buttered buns, burgers named after 50s entertainers — "Big Bopper" burger and "Buddy Holly" cheeseburger, also chicken pot pie, club sandwiches. fries, and even "tater tots." Standard desserts include apple crisp, blueberry and coconut creme pies and ice cream, which we bypassed this visit.


The labels on a selection of bottled sodas, including the diner's signature root beer, feature a 1956 Chevy, which can be seen inside the diner. The rear of this car is also there and being used as a bench seat; it was occupied the day we stopped in, so no photos were taken.



Unlike diners of years ago, Joey's Diner is not a 24-hour operation but like most diners, serves all-day breakfast. It's located on Amherst Street (Route 101A) in Amherst, NH. 

Go for the ambiance, which is terrific. But, as natives of the "Diner Capital," we've had better diner meals. Also, the prices are definitely not back to the 50s.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Now We Know . . .

Thanks to all who left comments on the previous post about "Oscar."  It was yet another of my divergent tangents which I hope proved as interesting to some folks as it did to me. But then I have been known (ask Grenville!) to waste spend time doing "research" online.

As noted in that post, we did not plan to watch the 87th Academy Awards show; now this event is "history."

Instead, Grenville watched Downton Abbey, season 5, episode 8, and was crestfallen sad to learn that it was the prequel to next week's the season finale. (Whoops sorry to post that spoiler alert if you're an for ardent fan too.) Since this show is not "my cuppa tea," I read while he watched.

Afterwards, we both watched the 6th and final episode of Grantchester on Masterpiece Mystery. The series is based on stories by James Runcie in Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death, the first volume of the Grantchester Mysteries series. The PBS series only featured episodes based on this first volume. There are two more focusing on the exploits of clergyman-detective Sidney Chambers: Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night and Sidney Chambers and the Problem of Evil. A fourth volume is due in May.

Still, I was wanted to know which film(s) and actor(s) were deemed the worthiest among all others. Mostly, I wanted to see the opening production staged by this year's host Neil Patrick Harris, who I watched way back (1989-93) when he starred in Doogie Howser, M.D.. Some critics have commented that his first Oscars hosting gig might have been his last. (Sadly, critics can be very mean-spirited.)

If you are curious too about the winners and losers, you can catch most  of the show highlights and downfalls at ABC The Oscars website for as long as it remains online. And, you will have saved yourself several hours of viewing. Be forewarned, you will have to wait through ads. (Thankfully, they're shorter than those shown during the live telecast.)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

What's In a Name?

Everything tonight, especially if the name is Oscar, but that's only its nickname. 

Officially, it's the Academy Award® of Merit, although the statuette is more widely known simply as Oscar. Its appearance is recognized world-wide: a stylized figure of a knight holding a crusader's sword standing on a reel of film; five spokes signify the five original branches of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts — actors, directors, producers, technicians and writers. 

Contrary to some widely believed stories, the official word is that no model was used during the design process.

Oscar stands 13-1/2  tall and weighs 8-1/2 pounds (equivalent to holding a gallon of milk). Each statue is U.S. handcrafted — cast, molded, polished and buffed —  at R.S. Owens & Company in Chicago which has been making them since 1982. The manufacturing time for 50 "Oscars" is 3-4 weeks.

There's many other well known Oscars, such as Oscar de la Renta, Oscar Wilde, Oscar Pistorius, Oscar De La Hoya, Oscar Levant, Oscar Peterson, Oscar Hijuelos, Oscar the Grouch. Who can forget Oscar Mayer who popularized  B-O-L-O-G-N-A.

Nobody really knows why the Academy Award statuette is called “Oscar." Several conflicting stories have appeared over the years.

This most widely accepted story is that after seeing the statue for the first time in 1931, Academy librarian Margaret Herrick seen in the photo commented that it resembled her "Uncle Oscar."

Another story in a bio of 3-time Best Actress winner Bette Davis claims she dubbed her award "Oscar" after her husband, band leader Harmon Oscar Nelson.

The Academy didn't adopt the nickname officially until 1939. However, it was widely known by 1934 when a Hollywood columnist used it to refer to Katharine Hepburn’s first Best Actress win.

The first Awards were May 16, 1929 at a private dinner at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with less than 300 attendees. By comparison, the Dolby Theater in LA, site of tonight's 87th awards, holds 3,400. Despite its media hype and coverage, the awards show is a closed private event; tickets are not available for public sale. 

Since 1929, 2,947 statuettes have been awarded.  The statuettes given at the initial ceremonies were gold-plated solid bronze. Later, bronze was abandoned in favor of britannia metal, a pewter-like alloy with a silvery appearance and smooth surface, which is plated in copper, nickel silver, and 24-karat gold. (Due to a metal shortage during WW II, Oscars were made of painted plaster for three years. After the war, the Academy invited recipients to redeem the plaster figures for gold-plated metal ones.)

Years ago, winners were announced to the media 3 months before the awards. That changed in 1930 for the 2nd Academy Awards ceremony when results were given to newspapers for publication at 11:00 p.m. the night of the awards. This was done until 1940 when the Los Angeles Times published winners names before the ceremony start. Since 1941, the Academy has sealed the results in envelopes with content secret until opened on stage.

Just wondering . . .

  • Have you seen any of the nominated films?
  • Do you plan — or did you watch the presentation?

We saw only one of the Best Picture nominees: The Grand Budapest Hotel. Grenville liked its madcap humor while I found it a bit too silly. The local public library is showing another best film nominee, Whiplash, at a free showing this week and that will be our second film.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Baby It's (Still) Cold Outside

Do you ever work on a blog post and then go off on a(nother) tangent to find more info?

It happens to me sometimes all the time. Like the other day when I was preparing the homemade soup and bread post and in the opening, borrowed the first line of a well-known song. After, I started humming the tune title in that line in my head all day, I did some online sleuthing and found out that . . .

Baby, It's Cold Outside is the title of the Academy award- winning song written by Frank Loesser in 1944. The tune is usually performed as a male-female duet and was originally performed in Neptune's Daughter, a 1949 musical romantic-comedy film. In the film, a woman mistakes a masseur for a South American polo team captain and falls in love with him, meanwhile her older sister meets with the actual captain and falls in love with him as well.

In the movie, the song was performed by  Esther Williams cast as a swimsuit designer and Ricardo Montalban as the Latin polo captain and lover who tries to seduce her for an evening of love. (No type casting here, right folks.) 

Loesser wrote Baby, It's Cold Outside five years before it was used in the film and its Best Song award was presented by Cole Porter. After the tune's win, some songwriters complained (sore losers?) that it should've been disqualified as it wasn't written for the musical. (It was widely known that Loesser and his wife enjoyed performing it at parties to suggest it was time for guests to leave.) The naysayers lost as the song's award was deemed valid because its professional debut was in the film.

Not only wasn't the tune featured in a holiday-themed film (think White Christmas or Holiday Inn) but it typically receives big airway play during the holidays. Last December, singers Idina Menzel (think Let It Go from Frozen and then try to forget that tune) and Michael Bublé teamed for a duet on Holiday Wishes, Menzel's 1st seasonal album. 

Here's the YouTube music video; while the vocals are terrific, it's the very impressive skills of these talented British youngsters that's a must-see. Just be patient through the opening ad cause it's worth the wait. Seriously, I'm not sure HOW I missed seeing this before — Enjoy.



The duet is available on YouTube and while the vocals are terrific, it's the music video that's  steals the show as it stars some British youngsters with very impressive skills.
FYI: There's a YouTube "Behind the Scenes" video about the production. It's fun too!

IF you're familiar with the  lyrics, you'll notice that some have been changed to be less explicit and kid-friendly." For example, instead of "Well maybe just half a drink more" you'll hear "Well maybe just a soda pop more" and "Say what's in this drink?" replaced with "Say was that a wink?"

My favorite "adult" version is performed by Sammy Davis, Jr and Carmen McRae (Boy Meets Girl, studio Decca album) which was recorded Feb 18-19, 1957 — perfect timing for wintry weather.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Getting a little drifty

After the fourth or fifth ( I've lost count) serious snow storm and two blizzards, all in a month, I've gotten a little drifty. BUT so has the endless snow, which makes for some interesting pictures. These are from our local library today. Both inside looking out and outside looking in made for fun shots.



Grenville

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Perfect Together - Soup & Bread

Baby, it's cold outside — really, really cold (but this is winter) — perfect time for soup and bread.

How cold?  Single digits to below 0 in many Northeast states after a weekend snow storm; this week some Southern states are covered in snow.

Perfect weather for homemade soup and fresh-baked bread. And, the easier both recipes are to prepare, the better I like them — and if you do too, then you might like this combo as much as we did.

The soup recipe was easy and started with package of Hurst's Beans 15 Bean Soup®. The package has instructions for stove top cooking, but an online search gave instructions for crock pot/slow cooker preparation. 

All that's needed aside from the dried beans package is a 15 oz can of tomatoes, 1 large onion, a garlic glove, chili powder, juice of a lemon (bottled works fine). You can add chicken or ham; my choice was cut-up chunks of ham

Instead of cutting and pasting into this post, just follow this link for the crock pot instructions. FYI, the bean cooking time did take longer than listed on the website. I used the high setting for at least 2 hours. But the results were a delicious soup.

Nothing goes better with a bowl of soup than some fresh-baked bread, but as neither Grenville or I wanted to go out, I searched for an easy recipe online . . . the easier the better, and one that was also a no-knead bread meant I had struck gold!

Yes, I know the bread on the left looks so much nicer than its counterpart on the right. I did not have two 1-quart bowls, so used 1 and 1.5 quart sizes; the larger bowl had the nicer looking bread.


What makes this recipe from Alexandra's Kitchen so special is explained on the website' here's some highlights: the recipe can be started a few hours ahead of when fresh bread is needed, it bakes in buttered Pyerx® glass bowls that don't require preheating, and baking time is under 45 minutes and don't forget, it's a "no-knead" recipe (definitely a "keeper"). 

Here's a cut version of the smaller (less pretty) loaf.



It was delicious with a wonderful crust. It was a perfect accompaniment for the bean soup for last night's meal. 

The Alexandra's Kitchen website has all the information you need: instructions, videos, and the option to print the recipe for My Mother’s Peasant Bread: The Best Easiest Bread You Will Ever Make and you will not be disappointed. As noted in the recipe and I can verify, this is a very wet dough which was somewhat challenging to get into the bowls. 

While you're on her website, check out some of the other recipes. I know that more will find their way to our dinner table.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hearts Day

Today is Valentine's Day, a day set aside for expressing Love for the special someone(s) in your life — spouse, lover, family, friends. It's a sentiment that we try to celebrate daily. 

Here are some things that work for us — all are inexpensive, and while not appropriate for everyone, they can be for your Special Someone. This modified list is a repeat of a past Hearts Day post, our preferred V-Day term, and gives a few very easy ways to tell someone that you care. 
  • Do nice things for no "special" reason
  • Start and end each day 3 words: I Love You (works with any family member) 
  • Never go to bed angry; I'm sorry goes a long way when you're upset with anyone
  • Light candles whenever possible (we do most evenings; always at dinner)
  • Sit and talk (works for anyone).
While we don't exchange gifts, there's always a LOT of cards to open. These are some from earlier this morning. Yes,there are more cards openings to come as the envelopes always have handwritten instructions on opening times: early morning, afternoon, evening. Spoiler Alert: we opened these while sipping coffee in bed, which is a morning "tradition."

We're not alone with this tradition. This day is the second most popular card sending holiday (Christmas is first) and more than 150 million Valentine's Day cards are exchanged annually. It's not only celebrated in the U.S. but also in Australia, Canada, France, Mexico, and the United Kingdom. A history of Valentine's Day origins and traditions can be found on the History channel website.

Happy Hearts Day — Please share what you are doing. We would love to know.
Beatrice & Grenville

(Also, thanks for comments on the S(n)o (w) Tired post. We are bracing for another major storm blizzard this weekend, but are safely indoors and so are our cars.)

Another Thought (after the fact sort of)

If you are unfortunate enough to have no one in your life for Valentines Day, why not go out today and
 "Commit Random Acts Of Kindness" 

They don't have to be spectacular. They don't have to be expensive. Just a smile, holding a door, a thank you, a hello how ya doing???
Or a bold approach,,,,,, Tell someone they look lovely, even if they don't.

Who knows?????? You may end up with someone to celebrate Hearts Day with after all��

Grenville, Just waitin' for the Blizzard

Thursday, February 12, 2015

S(n)O(w) Tired . . .

That describes the feelings of many folks this week — after 3 weeks of non-stop winter weather and all that its brought — shoveling, digging out, delays — to many parts of the Northeast, especially New England.

In Nashua, NH, there are many who want winter snow to go One Way — AWAY
Finding a place to sit is not easy unless you have a shovel along.





Even crossing the street is an adventure in getting access to the "walk" button . . .

Ice sculptures are nice, EXCEPT when hanging from building gutters . . .


Everywhere are mounds (and mounds) of snow in so many places and no place to put it.

We're getting out by "foot power" most days, which is challenging too. Many side-street walkways are narrow and/or snow-packed; street walking has become a common sight. 

YIKES this Valentine's Day weekend, forecasters are predicting a(nother) snowstorm for parts of the Northeast, and especially hard-hit New England.

GOOD NEWS — Spring arrives Friday, March 20, perhaps not soon enough for snow-weary folks. Here's a spring countdown if you're anxiously awaiting its arrival.

As for Grenville and I, we're enjoying this winter as it's reminiscent of growing up and living in our home state of NJ. (And, yes we are keeping safe.)
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