Grandma’s Cookie Tin

When I was a kid in the eighties, this blue tin of little butter cookies was a staple in my paternal grandparents’ home.

My grandma was an amazing cook. She was an old fashioned Appalachian cook who was always prepared to throw together a great meal with homemade noodles, potatoes and fried meat of some kind. She made delicious pies and cakes including a Mandarin Orange Cake that I attempt to recreate every Easter.

For all her amazing qualities in the kitchen, cookies weren’t her thing. She tried but they were just never that good. Isn’t that funny? She could can a garden full of vegetables and make homemade pie crust with her eyes closed but couldn’t pull off a decent sugar cookie.

She mostly filled the cookie jar on her vinyl tablecloth clad table with store bought cookies and there was frequently a tin of these little butter cookies on hand too.

I hadn’t thought about them in years but was recently transported back to that old kitchen with the African violets in the window and a jar full of bacon grease on the stove. That’s because I found small tins of these cookies at the Dollar Tree. This package is about a fourth the size that she always bought but it was the perfect amount of cookies to make me smile.

Honestly, they aren’t that good but I enjoyed dunking them in a mug of hot chocolate. My grandpa always dunked his cookies in cup of coffee and now I understand that they taste a little better with the extra punch of flavor.

I feel no need to run out and buy more but, golly, I did enjoy this batch. And now I have the tin to remind me of those happy days!

Happiness Is….

Happiness is having something to look forward to. That’s especially true on Sunday nights when the temptation is to be sad the weekend is over.

I don’t watch a lot of tv but I’m addicted to All Creatures Great And Small on PBS.

Reviewers call it slow tv. I suppose because there aren’t car chases, explosions and whiplash moments of excitement in every episode.

And I’m good with that.

Instead, it’s realistic stories about likable people in charming prewar England.

This one hour program is based on the stories of James Herriot, the pen name for James Alfred Wight who was a British vet from 1940 until 1992. His writing about the people and animals he served is charming and delightful.

There was a 1978 show also called All Creatures Great And Small. This isn’t a remake or a reboot so much as a fresh telling of the old tales.

The cinematography is beautiful. I like the costumes, the accents, the oddball characters and the animals. The storytelling is top notch. The scenery is gorgeous and makes me want to hop a plane to see the English countryside.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best thing on tv. The show is in its third season but the seasons are a painfully short seven episodes. It’s British made so the new season already aired across the pond and I’m envious of my British friends who have already seen it. Although it is nice having each episode to look forward to.

Do yourself a favor and find a way to watch this show from the beginning. If you’re not addicted after a couple of episodes I’ll be surprised.

Meanwhile, it’s Sunday so don’t be offended if I ignore my phone this evening! My show is on and I’ve been looking forward to it all week.

A Man Called …

There’s a book you may have heard of in recent years. It’s called A Man Called Ove and it was a worldwide bestseller.

The main character is a fellow named Ove who has known heartbreaking tragedy and who is getting on in age. He recognizes, as many of us do at a certain time in life, that the world has left him behind.

The book was written by Swedish author Frederik Backman. Published in 2012, it has been on my reading list for nearly a decade. A Swedish movie was made a few years ago. Last year, every time I went to the movies, there was a preview for a new American version that looked really good.

It opened nationwide earlier this month so I had to hustle to read the book first.

The book was one of the best I have read in the last two years. It was actually exactly what I needed. Ove’s character and his motives are layered and complex. His actions, while foreign and misunderstood by many around him, made perfect sense to me.

The story is told from his perspective so you get tremendous insight into the man. I laughed out loud in many places and found others quite sobering.

You get less of that with the new movie. Tom Hanks does a nice job translating Ove to the big screen as he stars in A Man Called Otto. Don’t ask. I have no clue why they changed the name. Regardless of what you call the character, the film shows some of the complexities of the man. It mixes the bad with the terrible, the funny with the cranky and the good that is this man. It’s not as funny as the previews might suggest. I did laugh. It is amusing but I felt like whoever made that trailer didn’t see the entire movie or understand the point.

Two days later, I was able to see the original film, the Swedish made A Man Called Ove which requires subtitles since I don’t understand the language.

I thoroughly enjoyed this rendition as well. It could be the subtitles throwing me off but this Ove doesn’t come off as complex as he is simply angry. All the same, actor Rolf Lassgård gives a great performance and I enjoyed this one too. You should see it as well.

It got me thinking about life and temperament and how we manage the things life sends our way. It’s rarely all good or all bad. If you take someone else’s interpretation of a story as fact, you’ll get the things they want you to know or consider.

If you get the whole story, in this case the book version, you’ll find much more detail and opportunities to judge for yourself. As much as I enjoyed both movies, I’ll take the book any day. In fact, read it first and I promise you’ll better appreciate both movies.

Judgment

Look at that judgmental little face. His name is Cinder and he’s one of the little strays my parents took in a couple of years ago. He and his two brothers are spoiled little boys who have trained my parents well.

Oh, if only cats could talk. It would be nice to know what he was thinking!

No Spend Challenge Update

This No Spend Challenge is going pretty well. I haven’t really been tempted to break the rules and I’m proud that practicing gratitude has kept me satisfied.

I have chosen to spend some weekends sleeping in, doing some purging and organizing, and using the things I already own. Nothing makes you want to stop shopping like dumping a carload of donations at the thrift store.

That said, there has been some spending outside of bills, groceries and gasoline. Work lunches on travel days have added up more than anything else. Then there was the heat pump repair last week.

Cat food supply issues have posed a challenge. Scout only eats one brand and he doesn’t like anything that involves seafood or the the word pate. The three little boys who live with my folks eat a different brand and only want seafood flavors. They also don’t approve of pate. There are lots of rules.

It is rare to find more then a few cans of what they will eat so I am making frequent trips to the store to keep all these picky little mouths fed.

I tell you that to tell you this.

For most people, every trip into a grocery or big box store will cost a set amount of money more than intended. In other words, it’s more expensive to make frequent small trips than to make one big trip unless you are highly disciplined and willing to pass on your impulses.

Pre-pandemic that amount was about twenty bucks for me but it’s higher now.

This ties in nicely with the other issue I’ve had this month. Grocery shopping is one area that I’m not great at controlling. So when I pop to the store for cat food, it’s tempting to pick up snacks and things I probably don’t need.

After all, food is a necessity. Right? Never mind the freezer at home packed with supplies.

The other night, I finally found fully stocked shelves of kitty food that the little boys will eat so I bought a ton. Then I went to Kroger to grab some produce and bottled water. I got to the checkout and and realized I had somehow forgotten that there were only six things on the list – not the usual cartload of stuff.

I spent about $40 more than intended. Is this terrible? No. Could I afford it? Yes but I didn’t need those extras – especially during a No Spend Challenge.

I’ll have an opportunity to redeem myself this week as I really do just need some produce, water and yogurt. Luckily, I won’t need to buy eggs because my aunt’s chickens are laying again! They’re pictured above – aren’t they pretty?

As much as I hate to, I think I’ll order Scout’s cat food online to save myself some hassle this time. Here’s hoping I don’t develop temporary amnesia at the store again!

I’ll keep you posted.

Did We Make It?

Four day workweeks are often the hardest. In this case, it has felt like four Mondays in a row and they have been the Mondayest of all the Mondays.

I think it’s finally Friday (right??) and, for that I am grateful. Whatever day it is and wherever you are, I hope you make the best of it! The weekend is just a few hours away so be sure to enjoy that too.