It’s hard to believe this little guy is, today, a member of the December 2011 graduating class of Michigan State University. That helmet’s almost as big as he is!
Our son Alex made his debut on the campus of MSU at the tender age of two weeks old, when his dad and I attended a “meet the football team” gathering in late summer/early fall.
Back then, his uncle was an All-American lineman and a co-captain of the Spartans, so we went to a lot of team practices, events and games that season – always with Alex in tow.
In fact, we were (and are) such fans we had a tiny little jersey made with “Johnson” printed on the back, and his uncle’s number on the sleeves – just like a team jersey, only in miniature!
No wonder Alex grew up to be such a football fanatic! It must be in the genes.
Alex was a starter when his team took the state championship in high school. And, while he didn’t play in college, he’d often take a break from his studies by throwing a football around with his friends.
Now, with my son’s graduation in the immediate future, this mom is getting misty-eyed and, yes, a tiny bit sentimental.
It feels as if he was just a toddler last week, running around with the team before practice – his uncle at 6’7” and 300 pounds, and tiny little Alex trying to keep up.
In what seems like no time at all, he’s gone from being a good-luck mascot for the Spartans, to being the most amazing man, all grown up – and a graduate of MSU!
I guess it’s really true that time flies when you’re having fun.
So we’re all taking a timeout from holiday decorating and shopping to celebrate an accomplishment any parent can appreciate: Our only son has earned his degree from his dad’s alma mater, Michigan State University.
Yes, I talk about these little stainless steel miracles all the time. But every year during the holidays, I always end up depending on them even more.
Legacy of Clean Scrub Buds Pads
A Scrub Buds Pad makes short work of all those Thanksgiving leftovers you’d rather not eat. I’m talking stovetop gunk. Oven crud. Pie crust that’s stuck the pan. The turkey-roasting pan. Even that slightly slimy sink drain cup we sometimes forget to clean.
In short, all those Thanksgiving leftovers no one wants to eat!
After you’re finished cleaning, pop the Pad in the dishwasher and it’s good as new, ready to get to work again.
On the outdoor grill, for instance. If you’re like us, after Thanksgiving, you’re ready for a few simple meals on the grill.
Here in snowy Michigan, we use our grill all year long – even in blizzards. Before the weather gets seriously awful, and again mid-winter, I give the grill a serious cleaning.
This way, it’s always ready for a quick meal. We just shovel off the deck, give the grates a quick once-over with a Scrub Buds Pad, and the grill’s ready to fire up.
One more tip: Don’t bother trying to get your grill shiny-clean. You’ll lose all that deep-grilling flavor. Your goal should be to just get the big chunks off the grates. For once, perfection is not the goal!
And here’s a Scrub Buds holiday bonus: Leave these shiny, sparkly balls near the sink, and your family and friends might even think they’re Christmas ornaments!
Along with turkey dinner and football on TV, it’s a time-honored Thanksgiving tradition to, well, give thanks for all the blessings life gives us.
This year I must admit, my gratitude is a little bittersweet. Just a few weeks ago, my father lost his battle with cancer. His passing leaves a gaping hole in my heart.
At the same time, it makes me especially grateful for my own good health, and the opportunity to spend time with my wonderful husband and our college-age children during the holidays.
As the kids get older, this kind of family time is becoming more and more precious. We love that they’re now young adults and increasingly independent. But getting together as a family is still important, for all of us.
That’s why we’ve planned a special holiday trip to a destination so remote, there’s no cell phone service. Primitive, right? And very sneaky on our part: The kids will simply have to socialize with their parents instead!
So all four Johnsons will be unplugging and spending a little quality time together. That’s a real reason for us to “give thanks.”
One more thing that makes Thanksgiving 2011 extra-special: In early December, our son will be graduating from Michigan State University.
To give you an idea of how Spartan-centric we are, this kid’s very first picture was taken on the campus of MSU in East Lansing, Michigan, at the tender age of two weeks old. You can only imagine the “Go Green/Go White” pride his dad and I are feeling right now, some 22 years later!
So even during a holiday that has a touch of sadness for me, I still find many blessings in my life: A loving, supportive husband. Two exceptionally wonderful children. A mostly well-behaved dog who doesn’t shed too much. A fulfilling job with great co-workers. And a terrific circle of friends and extended family.
That’s a big gratitude list.
But honestly, I hope your “thanks-giving” list is even bigger.
Stuffing, or what some folks call dressing, is one of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving day meal. The last few years I have experimented with different types of stuffing. This is the recipe for what I am using this year:
APRICOT CRANBERRY STUFFING
1 loaf 100% whole grain bread
1 large onion finely chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped peeled apple
1 cup dried apricots (chopped)
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup olive oil
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup dried sage
Salt and pepper to taste
Crumble or cube bread. Add all ingredients and mix well. It should be moist and sticking together. Can be baked in pan or stuffed in bird
Stuffing directions: Stuff bird, place 1/2 orange at opening to prevent stuffing from falling out. Keep together with skewers.
Pan directions: put it into a foil loaf pan, cover with silver foil (may refrigerate for up to 8 hours). Bake covered in 325°F oven for 1 hour. If drier stuffing is desired: uncover and bake another 10-15 minutes.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it makes perfect sense. Not only do we have to make room for the thawing bird, but there are also a slew of sides to be stashed as well. And of course, those condiments that always threaten to take over.
First, remove all the food, shelf by shelf, drawer by drawer, including the narrow shelves inside the door.
No doubt there are a few science experiments hidden in the back. That bluish fuzz? Unless it’s a hunk of Gorgonzola, it’s time to toss it.
You’ll also find stuff that’s still good to eat – maybe as tonight’s dinner. Who knows? You might even find a yummy piece of chocolate cream pie or a bottle of your fave beverage in there. More about that in a minute.
Meanwhile, stash the still-edibles in that big cooler.
As for condiments, it’s your decision: Was that Thai chili paste a burst of one-time-only Asian inspiration from last year? Will you ever use pearl onions again? What about that white wine mustard no one likes? Time to make room for family favorites – and clear out those clunkers that just clutter things up.
Now that the fridge is empty, that All-Purpose Surface Wipes becomes your new BFF. Use it to easily scrape up caked-on ketchup, dried-on milk, and all those bits of straggly, dried-out veggies in the drawers.
Next, spritz a little Kitchen All Purpose Cleaner on that damp microfiber cloth and give all the shelves and surfaces a quick wipe-down. The All Purpose Cleaner sprays away grease and grime in one shot, needs no rinsing, and leaves a fresh citrusy scent.
Finally, dry everything with the other microfiber cloth, and return the edibles to your newly-clean fridge.
And that chocolate cream pie or fave beverage? Sit back and savor it as your “I Cleaned My Fridge Today” reward!
The New York Times had an interesting article this morning about cookbooks and cooking. The article claims that cookbooks are running the risk of becoming obsolete, being replaced by cooking and recipe apps on mobile devices.
I don’t know about you, but I am not yet prepared to give up my cookbooks. I like having them on a shelf for display. Also, I don’t want to expose my smartphone to the mess of cooking and the kitchen.
Granted, I understand that apps usually cost less (lots less) than many cookbooks, but I’ll remain a traditionalist on this point.
How about you? Do you use apps to cook? Are you not buying cookbooks anymore?
Combine candy, cider and donuts with the opportunity to dress up in one-of-a-kind costumes, and you have my idea of a great time.
Fact is, Halloween ranks second only to Christmas on my fave holidays list. There’s nothing like biting into a caramel apple with nuts and going out with the kids for trick-or-treating around the neighborhood.
As this pic shows, I’ve made plenty of costumes in years past: everything from a Winnie to Pooh outfit to a civil war uniform to the poodle skirt and gorilla get-up seen here.
It was the gorilla outfit that convinced me it might be time to buy ready-made costumes instead. Have you ever tried to cut and sew a piece of long-haired fur? Not an easy task, let me tell you. After covering our living room rug with bits of fur, I finally moved the entire project out to my front yard. (I think my neighbors seriously wondered about my sanity that year.)
But let’s face it, this night is all about the candy. Lots of it.
The kids used the pillow cases from their beds instead of plastic pumpkins while trick-or-treating. The pumpkins might be more Halloween-ish, but the pillow cases held a lot more loot.
So, after a night of traipsing through the neighborhood, they’d come home and dump the contents of those cases all over the kitchen table. You never saw such a cascade of candy!
True confession: My husband and I hid their haul in a high cupboard, doling it out to them one piece at a time. We always ended up sneaking a lot more than just one piece for ourselves, night after night after night. Were the kids were on to their shameless candy-thief parents? Probably so.
The empty pillow cases, on the other hand, looked as if they’d been through a war zone. Makeup, dirt, grass, chocolate stains, you name it. Of course, it all completely disappeared after washing with Amway’s exclusive Legacy of Clean™ SA8®+BIOQUEST® Concentrated Detergent.
This year, I think I’ll celebrate Halloween by wearing my “Queen of Laundry” costume! Cider and donuts, anyone?
Pursue Disinfectant Cleaner takes care of all hard surfaces: countertops, floor, sink, and tub. It’s concentrated, so you use just a little in a bucket of warm water. And it really does a number on germs, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other stuff I’d rather not think about.
A quick spray with Pursue Disinfectant Deodorizer Spray, and the room smells fresh and clean, because it is fresh and clean. I’m a big fan of this miracle spray for its disinfecting power, especially during flu season.
Finally, my not-so-fave task: The toilet. No worries – and hardly any effort, either, with Pursue Toilet Bowl Cleaner to get the “porcelain throne” sparkling clean and disinfected.
Ahhhhh. Bathroom’s all clean again. Now I’m off to pursue more fun things to do. Like checking out the gardening catalogs for next Spring …
For my husband, the pilot, nothing beats a day flying. Honestly, I think if he had his druthers, he’d live in his airplane – a more-than-slightly-cramped space, as the picture shows. When he’s at the controls in the cockpit, he gets a look on his face that’s just pure bliss.
Here is a man who loves his work.
And, here is a magnet for the kind of grease and dirt you can only get when you’re checking an airplane over pre-flight.
Amway created our exclusive Classic Prewash Spray Spot Treatmentjust for people like my husband – or anyone who’s ever gotten lipstick or a drop of butter or a dab of salad dressing on a fave shirt (myself included).
They’re all essentially the same kind of stain: Greasy, oily, tough to remove.
Classic Prewash has solvents that break down grease and oil stains most spot treatments won’t touch – without scrubbing or soaking. The trick with greasy, oily dirt is to catch it right away, before the stained clothing is forgotten in the hamper for a week.
My other surefire tip? Sometimes, it takes a second time around. Grease is stubborn. It doesn’t give up easily. Kinda like some people I know …
So if you still see stains on that freshly washed shirt, go at ‘em again. Another spritz or two of Prewash Spray. Another round of SA8+BIOQUEST in the washer. That shirt – or whatever – usually comes out stain-free.
It’s a fact of life: My husband will always be a pilot. I’ll always wear lipstick. And we’ll both occasionally get greasy stains on our clothes.
Amway laundry care products get those stains “up in the air” and out of our clothes like nothing else on earth!
Do you ever feel as if your whole house has gone to the dogs? Me, too – especially now that the kids are in college, leaving only my husband and me to pick up after Makena, our golden retriever. Take a guess who’s the boss around here. (Hint: It’s not the humans.)
Adding to the fun, it’s been raining a lot lately. Makena’s newest trick is her “shake-shake-shake” dance. She comes in the house all wet, covered with who-knows-what, and the minute she hits the kitchen, let the dancing begin – splattering everything in sight: walls, cupboards, you name it. (Who knows? Maybe she thinks there’s a doggie version of “Dancing With The Stars.”)
Fortunately, clean-up is easy. I first rub her down using an old towel (I save ‘em just for this purpose). Then I spritz a little of Amway’s exclusive Legacy of Clean™ Kitchen All-Purpose Cleaner on a microfiber cloth to de-spotify the walls and cupboards.
Makena’s muddy paws often do a number on our floors, too. Here again, Legacy of Clean™ L.O.C. Muli-Purpose Cleanercomes to the rescue. One capful in a bucket of warm water, a quick mopping, and the ceramic tile sparkles again. Same with vinyl or finished wood floors. I’ve even been known to pour just a teeny bit of undiluted Legacy of Clean™ L.O.C. Muli-Purpose Cleaneronto a microfiber cloth and rub out spots on the carpet. (Of course, I test it first in an inconspicuous place!) (All Fabric Bleach also works as a carpet spot cleaner, but not sure if you want to use it here)
Trust me, if your house has gone “to the dogs” like ours has, you can see those spot(s) go, thanks to Legacy of Clean products!