A Valentine Story

On Crystal’s first Valentine’s Day as a wife . . .

She was twenty years old.

Still a kid in many ways – she was excited to imagine what Sir Beads would present to her for the occasion.

A satin heart with chocolates? A bouquet of flowers? A piece of costume jewelry? Her heart fluttered with anticipation.

Sir Beads was a very thoughtful gentleman – right from the start – but I think he would definitely agree he guessed wrong that first year. He did have the best of intentions. But as most men who are honest will admit, he was feeling a little stressed about finding the right gift.

He decided to go to a large department store in downtown Boston to search. Within a few moments, he spied a colorful display of kitchen gadgets and, somehow, they mesmerized him! They seemed so practical for a young bride. He was sure she would be thrilled with a selection of kitchen helpers! He spent considerable time looking at all of them and choosing three that he liked best.

Fast forward to evening. After dinner, he joyfully, and with a bit of a flourish, offered his assortment of household treasures to her. As she unwrapped them one by one, she became wide-eyed . . . speechless actually!
He sensed she was not delighted. She tried her best not to pout . . . to be appreciative. It was no use. She couldn’t help but exclaim:

“A pot holder, a can opener, and a one-egg frying pan – for Valentine’s Day?”

Tears followed, briefly. (Remember, I said she was still a kid!) Sir Beads was stunned. Within minutes, all was well, however. She dried her tears and tried to explain . . .

“It’s just that a girl dreams of a romantic gift on a romantic holiday . . .”

Forty years later, Crystal would tell you that ever since that day, she has been spoiled beyond belief by Sir Beads on every occasion and also on days that are no occasion.

She and Sir Beads look back on that first Valentine’s Day and can’t help but laugh. Since then, he has realized that women don’t necessarily want practical gifts, and she has learned that, to him, buying a practical gift meant he was trying to make things easier for her.

The most ironic thing of all is that she actually grew to LOVE that little pan. It’s the one she would use to melt butter for popcorn during the years her children were growing up! She now thinks of it as a family heirloom. She truly does.

Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂



Report Card for Crystal

Yep! That’s right!

A report card for – me. (Oh-oh!)

This time last year, I wrote a post listing things I wanted to try and accomplish in 2011. I explained that they were not exactly “resolutions” but were more in the vein of “readjusting my focus”.

Let’s see how well I did, ok? 😉


7 Things Crystal Wants Wanted To Do in the New Year 2011

1. Read More!
Reading is the first thing that suffers when I’m short on time. But, I love to read. When the Kindle first came out, Sir Beads surprised me with one for my birthday. I need to get back to using it more.

Grade: C+ I am reading a little more these days but still no where near as much as I would like – so little time!

2. Eat Breakfast On Weekdays!
Ever since I was a kid, I have been unenthusiastic about breakfast – except on the weekends. I’m just not hungry when I jump out of bed. If I have a busy day planned – the last thing I want to do is sit down and have a meal. I like to grab a cup of tea and start working. I know this isn’t good for me. They say that you need “fuel” to start a fire of energy to get your body cranking on all cylinders. They also say that people who eat breakfast are thinner. Hmmm, now that got my attention! 😉

Grade: A+ LOL! Ok, you’re probably wondering how on earth I accomplished this???
Four words – Sir Beads has retired! That boy does not like to miss a meal – so breakfast is now an everyday event around here. (We also began a breakfast-out ritual (once a week), which we enjoy tremendously!)

3. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!
Lately, my lists have lists. I have to develop some real shortcuts to accomplish the things I need to do . . . or maybe I should decide if anything I’m doing could be eliminated entirely.

Grade: B- I’ve eliminated several things but having you-know-who home has added new tasks to my list! I’m going to have to continue to work on this.

4. Cook Something New!
We all have our favorite meals and our stash of “go-to” recipes but it’s easy to get into a rut. I want to test new dinner ideas in 2011 to add a little more variety to suppertime!

Grade: A One unanticipated result of spending more time with hubby is that we find ourselves experimenting with new recipes… and HE is making some of them!! Woo hoo! 😀
We often cook together and are having a great time adding some new favorites to spice up mealtime. By the way, do you watch or tape “The Chew“? It’s an entertaining TV show with several chefs as hosts and various celebrity guests. We love it!

5. Pare Down the Clothes Closet!
Boy, am I ever the poster girl for the old saying: We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time! This is the year to face the fact that some of what I’ve been saving would get much more use if it were donated.

Grade: D I must admit I have not done much on this front, at all. Boo me! It goes to the top of the list for 2012.

6. Cull Out the Collections!
I love pretty things (Who doesn’t?), but I’ve come to the conclusion that too much energy is expended on dusting, cleaning, and caring for them. I’m going to keep my absolute favorites and the rest will have to go.

Grade: B- I (we) have spent a fair amount of time sorting through things. We’ve done the 4-pile thing: Keep, Donate, Sell, Trash. Not finished, but definite progress has been made.

7. Create A Studio – Finally!
This is the big one! I haven’t ever had a large space dedicated to my creative endeavors. Oh, I had a little craft area in our basement when my kids were growing up. It was clean and bright with pegboard and shelves installed by Sir Beads for my supplies, and a pretty rug to make it cozy. The problem? There was no heat, which was ok in the summer but in winter I felt like Bob Cratchit working by the heat of a candle (not exactly, but you get the idea!). Eventually, I decided that working in the living quarters was more comfortable, even if I did have to continually take all the supplies out and then put them all away again – daily! Talk about time-consuming. My kids are in their own homes now and there’s no reason why we can’t turn one of the bedrooms into a wonderful workspace.

Grade: C- I still do not have a formally designated art studio, but I have been buying the shelving and lighting, which will be used for it. That along with the general sorting and donating we’ve accomplished have put me closer to the day I can move into a space I call my own! Won’t that be wonderful!!!??!!

So . . . I didn’t make the Honor Roll. Hope I don’t get in trouble when my parents see this report card. 😉


How about you?

Did you stick to the plan for 2011?

Have you given any thought to the things you hope to do in 2012?



The New Calendar Has Been Purchased!

Hi Kids,
Well, we’re 11 days into the New Year and I finally have my 2012 calendar.

I’ve mentioned before (here) how I love the yearly ritual of replacing the old calendar – it’s such a “clean slate” kind of feeling.

Although we usually receive freebie calendars from local businesses, they’re often boring with little or no space to mark appointments. For that reason, I usually buy one. The hunt begins shortly after Christmas with just one rule – it MUST be at least 50% off.

This year, our holiday head colds kept us from shopping until after New Year’s Day so the pickings were pretty lean. The clearance bins were full of sports themes, pigs dressed in frou-frou, Barbie, and the standard travel destinations.

I was beginning to think I might have to settle when suddenly –

There it was – and only $4.69!



Now don’t tell Sir Beads, but I am a bit taken with Don Draper. 😉

I have a feeling his picture is right beside the phrase, “tall, dark, and handsome” on Wikipedia.

Ok, maybe not – but it should be!

I’ve been a fan of Mad Men almost from the start. I suppose it’s because I went from 9 to 19 yrs. old during the 1960’s – the era in which it’s set. Honestly, the clothes, alone, are a reason to watch!


So, I’ve installed the calendar in a little corner of my kitchen . . . where the refrigerator meets the counter area which holds my electric teakettle, a mug tree, and 2 cookie jars. It’s a mini hub in our house – that kettle gets a lot of use!

The first evening after I replaced the old calendar, I absent-mindedly began to make some tea and then quickly did a double-take!

There were Don and Roger staring intently at me. The whole kitchen went into soft focus and the ambiance became oh so “supper club”. I could swear I heard the clink of ice cubes along with the soft wail of jazz in the background.

And was that the subtle scent of aftershave?

Maybe it was the teabag I was holding . . .


I know one thing.

I’m going to enjoy turning those pages each month. 😀

Got a 2012 calendar? I’d like to hear about it!



Home Again – By Heart

Nana had a glass candy dish . . .

One of my earliest memories is the sight of it sparkling on a little table in her parlor.

It was usually filled with Canada Mints.


As a very young child, whenever I’d visit Nana’s house, there were three things to relish:

First, the moment I came through the door – she’d be waiting. She’d gather me into a big hug, my cheek at apron-level, and we’d both let out little squeals of delight.

Second, an ever-present aroma of something wonderful cooking on the stove.

And finally, there was that candy dish!

I was fascinated by the fact it was always so accessible! This was not the case in my own home, where my mother had a few small children and probably felt that unattended candy could be a choking hazard.

But at Nana’s, you could have a piece any old time you wanted! Her only admonition: “Don’t take more than a few – you’ll get a stomach ache!”

Gosh, I loved those Canada Mints!

Recently, I thought about them and decided to try and find some in our area. I bought a package marked “Canada Mints”, but when I opened them – I discovered they were a rather poor version of my childhood treat. The rounded edges were chipped and very uneven – as if the candy mold had been ripped off too quickly. The word “Canada” was blurry and even the flavor somehow seemed more artificial.

It was a bit disappointing, but as most of us learn by the time we’re grown; we can’t really “go home again” . . .


The thing is though, if I close my eyes – I can still smell and taste that original candy from so long ago.

And if I listen very intently, I can still hear Nana’s soothing voice . . . and feel the warmth of her hugs.

Aren’t we lucky when a happy memory, all by itself, is enough? 🙂



You Can Teach An Old Gal New Tricks

My name is Crystal and I hate to dust.

Of course I do dust.

I’ve been dusting for DECADES –

But I hate it.

I suppose part of the problem is I love pretty things . . .

May I present Exhibit A?

And also Exhibit B

I could easily go further into the alphabet – Exhibit C, D, etc. – each with a little “collection” of pretty things, but you get the idea. Collections make dusting a lot slower. You have to stop and dust each item! I’ve tried to imagine if I could be satisfied in a home with the “minimalist-look”. You know – sleek surfaces, empty tables, shelves that display just a single plant, or a photograph. Such an arrangement would only require a quick swipe of a dust rag. Now isn’t that a heavenly thought? Alas, for me it’s just a daydream. I’ve never been able to convince myself that we’d feel cozy in a sparse environment.

The other day I cajoled Sir Beads into dusting what we refer to as the entertainment center. It’s a series of shelves that hold the TV, DVD player, stereo, etc. I must hasten to add that Sir Beads has very little history as a “duster”. Although he’s always been willing to chip in with household chores, I’ve tried to avoid asking for help too often as he takes care of the yard, and all home repairs/maintenance.

BUT, now that he’s retired . . . I figured I’d ask (while batting my eyes in a charming fashion) if he’d consider a bout of dusting “every now and then”.

He immediately agreed. (I do love that guy!)

The entertainment center stands quite tall with several art glass vases displayed along the very top shelf. I lamented to Sir Beads that those vases were going to need a bath (I’d only dusted them the last several times). I also whimpered that the top shelf is a pain in the neck to dust! It has a very rough surface that tends to catch and snag the dust cloth, so you end up with little strings clinging to the wood.

It was then that he said it!!!!!

One simple sentence that left me temporarily speechless as I turned it over in my mind and tried to process the full meaning:

“If it’s so tough . . . why dust that very top shelf?

Nobody can see it.”

Holy moly! In those few words, he had very succinctly illustrated the great divide between the sexes, the disconnect between male and female, the uniqueness of “Mars and Venus”!

I stuttered in reply:

“But, but, but, it’s dusty!

You can’t just leave it to PILE UP!

WE would know!”

At that point, I realized my argument sounded a little weak. His actually made sense – – – well, sort of – but I was not about to abandon my 40+ years of housekeeping practices in the blink of an eye . . .

The shelf was dusted. 😉

Actually it was vacuumed at Sir Beads’ suggestion, and it worked like a charm!

I could never climb up the step stool while carrying the heavy weight of the vacuum cleaner, so using a dust rag has always been the only viable option for me . . .

That is until now!

In the words of the old song: “It’s so nice to have a man around the house!” 😀


So then, Ladies and Gentlemen, do you dust?
Do you hate it? 😉