Not Exactly a Square Meal – Circle Salad and Benadryl Crumblesnacks

“Elizabeth, we’re going to eat circles for supper tonight.”
“Eat suh-kulls??”
“Yes. We’re going to eat circles.”

[Not just “yay!” — she actually says, “Hurray!” on a somewhat regular basis, and she means it. Likely she picked it up from watching Kipper, where the characters exclaim such things to each other frequently. (They call him Kipper, Kipper the dog. The dog with the slipper? That’s Kipper, Kipper the Dog — jazzy little theme song, Grampa and I find ourselves humming it)]

Anyway, after patiently waiting for about a hundred years, Parade’s End (starring Benedict Cumberbatch) was finally available through Netflix, and it arrived yesterday. My dear husband (the aforementioned Grampa) lovingly made the sacrifice of bringing that in at my behest, in lieu of something he would prefer. He did not, however, feel inclined to make the additional sacrifice of actually watching it with me. (He’s not a big fan of Benadryl Crumblesnacks…Broccoli Chowderpants…my beloved amuses me repeatedly by deliberately never getting the name of my favorite actor correct). However, our daughter had expressed interest, so last evening I trekked the 3 miles or so between our homes, with movie, Blu-ray player and necessary accouterments, and my dad’s old Tupperware lunchbox filled with Circle Salad. (Recipe below)

Parade’s End took some effort to follow, at the beginning, but before the end of the first episode, we were invested in the characters enough to be properly indignant on behalf of those being wronged. We’re looking forward to when we can get the second disc and watch the last two episodes.

So, on to the food. The idea for Circle Salad occurred to me when I came across the idea of hot dog salad, and remembered I had some wagon wheel pasta in the cupboard. I adjusted the recipe so that all ingredients (aside from the dressing, of course) would be (mostly) round and (vaguely) circular if cut correctly. I wanted to make it as a surprise for my granddaughter, because she’s been learning shapes (along with colors and letters and animals….) And serendipitously, I discovered that all the ingredients I used were ones Elizabeth already liked. She’s not a fussy eater, really, but she happily gobbled up her bowl of Circles like nobody’s business, telling me it was “So Good, Gwamma” and “Yum-Yum!”

Circle salad -- Hot dogs and wagon wheels and other yummy round things

Circle Salad Recipe

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1/2 cup sweet pickles, sliced into thin rounds
1/4 cup black olives, sliced into rounds
5 hot dogs, grilled or pan-fried, sliced between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick (your preference)
6 ounces wagon wheel shaped pasta
3 green onions (scallions) sliced about 1/4 inch thick

Combine dressing ingredients thoroughly. Stir in olives and pickles. Combine hot dogs, pasta and green onions in large bowl. Pour dressing over and mix gently but thoroughly with large spoon. Cover bowl (or transfer to storage container) and chill at least one hour before serving.

CAUTION: Know your child — very young children may choke on large chunks of solid food, such as sliced hot dogs, especially if they don’t have the teeth for proper chewing yet. Use your brain and cut the pieces smaller, according to the needs of the child.

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Where’s my cape?


I know I’m only two, Gramma, but, I’m pretty sure a superhero is supposed to have a cape.

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Clever People


The Round Barn.
So named because it is round.
And a barn.

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Confessions of a surreal killer…

When my kids were little they loved watching Veggie Tales, starring Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber.

Sometimes, when preparing a meal, I would carve a face into a cucumber so it looked like Larry, and show it to my children, and they’d laugh.

Then I would stab Larry, and slice him up right in front of them, and we would have Larry for lunch.

Despite being witness to their mom’s murdering of beloved cartoon characters, they’ve turned out surprisingly close to normal.

stab larry

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Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad

Apologies up front to everyone (especially myself) for not getting photos of this recipe before I set my family loose on it, because it vanished like magic. Poof! Gone.

Also — I just noticed it’s been exactly three months since I posted last. And barely a day went by that I didn’t mentally give myself a thrashing for not writing something, ANYTHING. Some changes will be occuring that I hope will lift my mental block to allowing myself to write. And…. it looks like things have changed in WordPress, so excuse me if there’s a hiccup or seven until I get things figured out again.

On to the food. This blog is not always about food, but it is sometimes about food. This is one of those times.


Yesterday, I was looking for something QUICK to make with diced turkey or chicken and came across a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad. I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I googled Buffalo Chicken Pasta Salad, and found several, none of which I had all the ingredients to make. So…I jotted down ingredients from various recipes that I did have, and added a couple of my own ideas that sounded good, then went to work in short order, trying to get it made quickly because our daughter and granddaughter had just come over to watch something with us.

Well, I was hoping they’d at least not hate it, but everyone went wild. My son made me promise to make it again. A lot. Well, ALL THE TIME was what he requested, but obviously, I can’t agree to that. And so, while I sat down and made sure to accurately record everything I did before I forgot. Because I’ve been there done that — where I’m asked for repeats of something I just kinda made up but couldn’t remember exactly how I made it. Ooops. At least I’ve learned from my mistakes, right?

For the meat, I used a low-salt, no-preservatives precooked turkey breast from Plainville Farms, coated in herbes de provence. Sounds expensive, and probably is, but I got it at Mark’s Discount Groceries in New Oxford, PA – frozen, for $1.49 per pound. I bought a few of those, because they’re really handy, super cheap and the ingredients list is free of anything chemical-sounding. Just real stuff. This was my last one – I hope to find them again soon.

I won’t always have this wonderful meat available, and you’ve probably never heard of it, so, if you’re using just plain cooked chicken or turkey, you could add a teaspoon or so of an herbes de provence blend, which may include any or all of thyme, rosemary, savory, crushed fennel seeds, or other herbs, depending on who packaged your blend. Or just add a teaspoon in total of crushed thyme and rosemary and savory. Or just forget the herbs and move along.

Oh, by the way — brand names are included only to show what brands we use and prefer — I have not been compensated to endorse any brand. But if any companies approach me to do so, I won’t say no outright. Especially Daisy. I love me some Daisy Sour Cream. By the spoonful.

Buffalo Chicken (or turkey) Pasta Salad


10 ounces penne pasta, cooked, drained and cooled
3 cups diced (or chopped) chicken or turkey
1 can small pitted black olives, whole, drained
3-4 cups chopped/torn romaine or leaf lettuce

1/2 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise (A must. I think it was in our marriage vows.)
1/2 cup Ken’s Steak House Blue Cheese dressing
1/4 cup Daisy Brand Sour Cream
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 tsp worcesteshire sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 T Franks Red Hot sauce
2 smallish or 1 large green onion, sliced
1 cup chopped colored sweet peppers (red, yellow, orange. Not green.)

Combine cooked and cooled pasta, chicken, olives and lettuce in very large bowl.

Combine mayo, dressing, sour cream, blue cheese, black pepper, hot sauce, onions and peppers. Pour over pasta and chicken mixture and toss gently until all pieces are coated. Serve immediately, or cover and chill up to half an hour.

If you want to prepare further ahead of time, you should chill lettuce separately from the rest, and gently stir into the salad just before serving.

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Gimme All Your Bluffin’

During my junior and senior years at college, there was a group of us who kind of always ate lunch together.

Well, actually it was this guy I really adored and would do anything to be around *COUGH* stalker *COUGH COUGH*, his two roommates, and a fluctuating assortment of the guys from their residence group — which is like a fraternity in that it’s a group of guys living together, but decidedly unlike a fraternity for its lack of hazing and brotherly humiliation.

So, back to our lunch group — I was usually the only girl there, which was fine with me. I didn’t care for the giggly-sorority-type which made up the majority of the female student population. I found the male students to be 85% less catty, and therefore, 100% more interesting. Occasionally, one of them would bring along whatever vacuous blonde he was dating at the time, but it was a rare thing. Fine with me – I had been comfortable being “one of the guys” since high school.

Music was one of the most common topics of discussion over our meals. Videos were The New Thing. MTV had launched just the month before my class began our Freshman year. While we did want our MTV, there was no cable TV at Grove City College. What there was  were televisions with antennas in some of the dorm lobbies. Beginning in 1983, very late on Friday nights, groups of people would commandeer these TVs to watch Friday Night Videos — network TV’s answer to MTV — on static-plagued screens. Watching popular music instead of merely listening to it was quite the phenomenon.

And now to the bit all this has been leading up to — I may mentally meander a bit, but I get there eventually:

One day at lunch, the object of my adoration excitedly told us about an unprecedented Christmas album coming out by a band most of us liked. They were going to take some of their songs and put Christmasy-type lyrics to them. Then he started singing one of them:

“Red Suit,
Fur hat,
and I don’t care because
my belly’s fat”

then a line from the chorus,

“Coz every girl’s
crazy ’bout a
San-ta Claus”

The group? ZZ Top, of course, to the tune “Sharp-Dressed Man

Well, I thought this was just the Best Thing Ever, because I just loved ZZ Top at that time. The next day at lunch, there was someone at the table who hadn’t been there the day before, so I started telling him about this new ZZ Top album.

Then everyone else started laughing. Apparently they’d all known he’d made up the entire thing. I was the only one who didn’t realize it. Gullible is not my middle name, but it must be a footnote on my birth certificate.ZZTopp Christmas

Well, you’ll be pleased to know I got my revenge.

Yes, it took me a few years, but eventually…..I married the jokester. Ha, that’ll learn ya.

In 27 years of marriage, I’ve once in a while managed to pull the wool over his eyes and fool him with some made-up nonsense, but not very often. He also still gets me once in a while. But, so that I don’t look like an idiot in front of others, he is kind enough to make sure I realize when he’s telling a tale. If I don’t figure it out on my own, he’ll quietly start singing, “Red suit, fur hat….”

Then we share a secret smile, and I love him all the more.


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The Opposite Of Grammar – Addendum, Being Composed Of, But Most Definitely Not Comprising All Complaints On The Topic

Have you noticed that almost nobody uses the word comprise and its various forms (comprised, comprising) correctly? Just this morning, in Supposedly Professional Print Media, I noticed a writer using comprised as a synonym for composed, which it is not. Both are used to describe the relation of parts to the whole, but not in the same manner.

Composed means, more or less, “made up of” — and when you say something is composed of  {these things} you may or may not be including all of the {things} of which it is made, opting for only the items most relevant to making your point.

To comprise means “to contain” and the correct usage will usually include ALL the parts making up the whole. Oh, and with comprise, the whole should come before the parts.

“The county softball league, comprising seven teams of middle-school-aged boys and girls, had its final tournament on May 29th before a surprisingly large crowd of supporters.”

“The decaying main house, comprising a crumbling commercial-sized kitchen, cavernous dining room, cramped servants’ quarters, a pretentious sitting room, no less than seven bathrooms and entirely too many bedrooms, was a counterpoint of elegance and abandonment.”

And if you ever, ever, EVER use the phrase “comprised of” — well, honey, you ain’t even close to being right. Those two words should never be neighbors.

Disclaimer: I hereby renounce any and all claims to knowledge of Proper Comma Usage. Either I never had a full grasp of that specific punctuation part, or if it has abandoned me along with my Internal Spell Check. My mind is going. I can feel it. Daisy…Daisy, give me your answer…do…I’m half…crazy…all for…the love…of…you…

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So, I couldn’t remember how much to pay the chiropractor – (Not Entirely) Wordless Wednesday


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The Opposite of Grammar – My Idiomatic Idiosyncracies

I’m not a Grammar Nazi. Nor am I on the Spelling S.W.A.T. team. And I am most especially not the Punctuation Police. I wouldn’t have any moral high ground to stand on if I was any of those. Which you already know if you’ve read my posts. Or even this paragraph.

In school, some things came easily to me. Grammar and usage were things I picked up from my voracious reading and from watching Grammar Rock between Saturday morning cartoons. Learning grammar in school merely annoyed me: why did I need to diagram sentences and learn about past subjunctive and conjugation? Never saw the point, since I understood what I needed to know by merely reading well-written prose. It was obvious to me how all the bits fit together to make sentences. Common sense. And once I discovered the wonder that is The Thesaurus, I was good to go.

And another thing: I never saw the point of the Weekly Spelling Lessons, either, because I assumed everyone should be able to just naturally spell things with ease, with nary a thought, like me. But during the last couple years my internal Spell Check System seems to have gone offline, and since I turned 50 last month, it’s probably out of warranty, too.

Now, I find myself misspelling words that I never even had to think about before.  Last week, when my husband asked me for a correct spelling on a word — which he’s done for ages, by the way — now I actually have to stop and think about it. And I got one horribly wrong until I stared at it and really thought. Then I still wasn’t sure and I had to (gasp!) look it up. It’s rather frustrating.

I’ve been known to gleefully split infinitives with great abandon. Also, I’ve done my share of LOLcat speak, both on the internet and in Away From Keyboard Life, mostly with my two now-grown children, who were taught Proper Grammar and even use it when truly necessary. I’ve even been known to use some abbreviations when texting or tweeting. I can even read 1337 (leet) if I really want to know what those whippersnappers are trying to say without their elders knowing, and respond in kind if I want to keep them on their toes. So, my point hers is that I am not a stickler for You Must Always Use Proper Grammar When You Write Anything Always And Forever Amen.

I am a forgiving reader, really, and especially if I’m reading a blog with content that interests me, or a fanfic in which the storytelling style is compelling. I’ll look past the grammar and spelling if the author has me on the edge of my seat in the narrative.

What really drives me up the wall and makes my brain scream NOOOOOOO!!! is when someone just plain uses the wrong word or phrase, especially if it changes what they mean to say into something completely different. Sometimes, you can ascertain what they really meant, but not always. It’s confusing. And if they do it consistently, I may complain, out loud and to whoever is unfortunate enough to be within earshot. And I’ll usually stop reading — unless the overall story is really knock-my-socks-off amazing.

My inspiration to finally write about this came from a recipe I just read on a food blog.

What the food blogger said
baker’s ammonia – if you can’t find it you can substitute for baking powder

What the food blogger meant:
“baker’s ammonia – if you can’t find it you can substitute baking powder” or “replace it with” or “use baking powder instead”

If the writer was really in love with the phrase “substitute for” then the correct way to inform a reader who can’t locate baker’s ammonia would have been “you can use baking powder as a substitute for baker’s ammonia.”

No, it’s not a huge thing, and it was the only such error I found, so I am not going to link to the post to pick on the person.

In my mostly unpaid, non-professional, but at least semi-qualified opinion, an even more egregious error is when a writer gets an idiom or a cliché just not quite right.

Sometimes, it’s because the person did not grow up in the language, but that’s not usually the case in the places I’m seeing these errors. It seems to me that it’s done by folks who grew up either hearing people saying it wrong or mishearing what others were saying. Or hearing it said, but remembering it wrong when they went to use it themselves. Close, but no foul-smelling rolled tobacco tube.

Primarily these faux pas occur on what I’d have to consider non-professional websites, but more and more frequently, I’m finding appalling errors in online news stories, which is truly inexcusable for paid, professional writers.

These mistakes were rankling me so much that felt like I HAD to do something about it. But seriously, folks, it’s my own mental issue, so I just started collecting them, not even planning to do anything with the things. Then I remembered I have a blog and perhaps could use that to find some commiseration from kindred souls.

And so, here is what I’ve collected since the beginning of November:

all of the sudden when they obviously mean all of a sudden

End of for end up 

Swilled for swirled

Summarily but the usage shows they clearly meant similarly

Could of instead of could have — this one is unbelievably common

Commander and chief but in context they could only mean commander-in-chief

Fine for find

Underlining for underlying

For all intensive purposes instead of for all intents and purposes — this is my favorite

Perspective for prospective 

Constant for consummate — the adjective usage of “consummate” meaning complete or perfect in all detail. This was mis-used several times in the piece I was reading, and it took me a while to realize the writer really meant “consummate.”

Relies for realize

Disregard instead of discard 

One writer wanted the characters to discuss things in a rational matter instead of manner

Conductive for conducive – granted, this could be just a typo.

Thank you for sharing in my catharsis, because this was pretty much just a purging of pent-up feelings on the subject.

And catharsis does sound much more polite than word vomit.

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Angel Baby


Light of my life, Elizabeth, at 23 months.

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