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The girl’s got me pegged.

Mrs. Mayne has been gently encouraging me to start piano lessons…. for a long time. A very long time. I’d like to, I tell her, but I’m completely tone deaf. Seriously… it’s like a developmental disability or something. I’m the only person in the entire history of Chautauqua Central School to be kicked out of the junior high choir… Miss Greg called me up in front of the class one day to remark that she thought we’d both be happier if I dropped out.

“Oh yeah,” I laughed as I sauntered out of the music room and down to the office. I switched to a study hall… I think. Oh yeah, my friends and I had a good laugh about that one. yeah.

Precious memories, how they linger.

“Besides, I don’t have the time,” I told Mrs. Mayne. “I’d love to start piano, but I really can’t spare the time. I’m just soooo busy,” I shook my head.

“Okay,” she’d smile. And we’d talk about the kids or church or the ridiculous new law that prohibits the burning of one’s own leaves in one’s own yard. Or her grandchildren. Or rhubarb.

But then one day Mrs. Mayne gave me a present…


“These are easy arrangements,” she said. “I can teach you to play these.”

“You can?” I asked.



“Yup,” she said.

Ply me with vintage hymn books, Mrs. Mayne and I’m putty in your hands.

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I done give up butter.

Well, not completely. I mean, I haven’t given total leave of my senses for heaven’s sake. SHEESH.

I still bake with butter, still saute in butter, still use butter the kids’ toast…. but what I don’t do anymore is slather my each and every edible piece of anything with the stuff.

Not that I don’t want to. sigh.

It all started over at Mamie’s house, and a pre-crack-of-dawn-heart-to-heart with Gail. She’s been smoking since she was eleven years old and she figures now’s as good a time as any to quit. But it’s hard. I can relate, I told her. I go through a stick of butter almost every day- I like my toast dripping with the stuff. I like my warm bread so thick with the stuff that it squeaks when I bite into it. I like my veggies swimming in a pool of melted butter… maybe with a little squeeze of lemon juice thrown in for variety’s sake. But of course, that’s TOTALLY DIFFERENT from smoking a pack a day.

Totally.
Yeah.

So anyway…. we agreed, Gail and I. Every time I have the urge for a coupla tablespoons of melty buttery goodness, I’ll say a prayer for Gail and her cigarettes. Everytime Gail has a hankering to light one up, she’ll say one for me. It’s been a week with no smokes and no butter and so far, so good. I’ve lost 3.6 pounds and Gail tells me she knows exactly where they went. Gail’s chewing a lot of gum and I’m doing things like slathering my cheese bread with cashew butter and homemade preserves.

I feel so deprived. sniff, sniffly sniff.

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Amelia does Monday

Since Amelia “had to be up at five for the baby anyway” she volunteered to do the Monday morning baking. The result: tiny little lattice topped apple pies and wee little pumpkin tarts made in my old little tin patty pans which I had actually completely forgotten I even owned.


And since Noah is off on a camping trip to Gettysburg and since Millen has taken to starting her mornings with an “exercise video” marathon (current fave: Yule Be Wiggling done at least three times in succession)…

Wiggles 4 LYF!

… so since no one needed me and since it’s officially a holiday, yours truly had a perfectly disgraceful morning. I stayed in bed until seven thirty, had latte and the aforementioned pie-lettes for breakfast and then went out for coffee with the Pastor’s wife.

And oh lookie! Now it’s time for lunch!

Yep, livin’ the dream… that’s me. Pretty much.

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Uh. Oh.

Step one: prepare to make Raspberry Coffee Braid for Monday morning breakfast.


Step two: discover that one has accidentally purchased FAT FREE cream cheese- more commonly known as

The Abomination of Desolation.

Step three: fret and stew for approximately 27 minutes, then go ahead with baking. Add extra butter….

cuz…
yanno.


Step four: receive no complaints.

Whoa.

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All the news that’s fit to print.

I know what you’re thinking… what’s Diane been up to for the last coupla months? Right?

Well, Noah made a crawfish trap (very appropriately out of a tomato soup can, I might add.) He reports that it works great, and is tentatively planning a campfire crawdad meal for himself and his buddy Caleb.


We’ve been making all kinds of new varieties of pizza, like this Mexican chili pizza. With guacamole. It was good.

Pastor came over for an unannounced visit the other day. I was in the middle of my heavy cleaning routine, dressed in an old overall jumper with bleach stains across the front, my hair falling out of its braid down the back of my neck. The living room was littered with cleaning supplies and the detritus I had just pulled out from under the couch cushions and behind the piano. I was panting lightly from the exertion of washing down the stairs. A bead of sweat was precariously close to dribbling off the end of my nose. So yeah, me at my best…. pretty much.

“I’m not proud,” I thought.
But then, as I sat down opposite Pastor an appalling heart-stopping scene met my eyes: the large sunny south window just behind him was filled.. absolutely filled with flies. Flies! I’m talking like from a horror movie or an episode of Hoarders or something. Now, I swear to you on my favorite housedress (the one made of real actual vintage fabric and handmade 100% cotton gingham bias trim) that those flies were not there a mere fifteen minutes before. Where they came from, I know not, but they were having a hoe-down-show-down in that window fo sho. They hummed and they buzzed. They bumped their disgusting little bodies against the window. Every few minutes one or two of them would venture out and buzz around my sweet pastor’s gray head, crawl on his hair or perhaps settle companionably upon his hand. And all the while he sat there chatting graciously, occasionally waving his hand oh-so-casually dontchaknow, as though shooing away hoards of noisome insects is just a usual occurrence whilst visiting one’s parishioners.
OH EARTH, SWALLOW ME.

A while back Betsy apparently noticed that I was inquiring about (LUSTING FOR is probably a more accurate descriptor) a certain kind of luscious chocolate-y zucchini cake, so she took it upon herself to write out the recipe. She tucked it into her purse and gave it to me during the greeting time of Sunday morning services. She’s so sweet, that Betsy.

We’ve been to the thrift store where we scored some amazing deals. Real Uggs. Worn maybe two times. $6.95 God is good.

We started school with a dinosaur unit based on this lapbook. Hands of a Child, where have you been all my homeschooling life?

Our little town had a memorial ceremony for the tenth anniversary of 9/11. Main street was blocked off and an enormous American flag was suspended from the ladders of what had to be the two biggest fire engines in the county. Our local fire fighters stood in solemn lines and the bells from the Lutheran church rang over and over and over. I just sat in my car and remembered those firemen that ran full force up the towers when the rest of the world was running down. They’ll never stop being my heroes, those guys.

So yeah, that’s what’s been going on: big game hunting, pizza, and thrifty finds. Chocolate and abject humiliation and dinosaurs and gratitude.

You know…. just the usual. Mhmm.


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I’m thinking of giving up blogging.

No seriously, I am.


It’s not that I don’t love blogging…. I do. I love the process of it. Something happens, or I see something in my home, or I read an especially fascinating bit of something and the chain of thoughts begins. The normal person thinks, “Well now, isn’t that interesting,” and moves along with their day. The blogger, on the other hand, immediately starts to think in terms of layout. Photos. Title. She starts to draw parallels and formulate sentences and paragraphs in her head. Every little daily happening, every little chance encounter, every little revelation of the mind becomes more than just the passing elements of one’s life… it all becomes fodder for this machine we call the blog. We don’t just live life, we analyze it, crystallize it, preserve it and ultimately share so many little slivers of our days. Slivers that would otherwise just fade down into the forgotten. And personally, I love that. O yeah.

It’s not that I don’t love you… all of you, my sister blogger-ettes. In the few years I’ve been blogging, I think I’ve met more fantastic women, more potential Best-Friends-Forevah than I can count. I don’t suppose that’s surprising with the unlimited resources quite literally at my fingertips: search engines and message boards that cater to one’s unique little slice of interest and friends lists and blog carnivals and Etsy and Skype… oh Lordie! Skype! Skype, how I love thee, let me count the ways.

Ahh… but I digress.

I’ve met so many wonderful women, so many dear friends. Or more accurately potential dear friends, because with a few blessed exceptions, I’ve not been able to invest enough to move those relationships from online acquaintance to real friendship. As wonderful as you all are, I’m not able to answer emails as I should. I’m not able to visit all of your blogs and leave comments as I’d like. For heaven’s sake, lately I’ve not even been able to respond to the wonderful, thoughtful, delightful comments you all leave for me here! I don’t like that.

It all just takes so much time. You see, unlike many of you, I am not a fast worker. In fact I could reasonably be referred to as p..o..k..e..y. I take three quarters of an hour to wash the supper dishes. A basket of laundry can take me a half hour to fold (and that’s not counting the ironing.) It’ll take me a week to sew a dress. And hours to write a blog post. I know many of you can whip off fantastic articles in minutes, but not me. You can zip through your library of photos, finding the perfect one in an instant… meanwhile I’m still sittin’ here working on my title. And sometimes while I’m sitting here working out that title there really are other things I should be doing. Sometimes while I’m writing about housekeeping I actually have dirty dishes sitting in my sink. Sometimes I’m putting off my own quiet time in lieu of finding just the right scripture verse to finish off a blog post. eeek, did I really just write that? There have been times I sat at this computer, waxing eloquent over my love for my children… while they sat upstairs on their beds waiting for me to read with them. I don’t really like that all that much. More importantly I don’t think the Lord is terribly thrilled either.

So yeah. I’m thinking of giving up blogging. Or maybe just scaling back to a single post each week. Or maybe once each coupla weeks. Maybe one post a month. Or so. Because, as happy as blogging makes me, clean dishes and studying scripture and reading with my kids pleases me more.

I think it pleases Him more too.

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Ouch

“It is no abstract thing- the state of your heart is the state of your home. You cannot harbor resentment secretly towards your children and expect their hearts to be submissive and tender. You cannot be greedy with your time and expect them to share their toys. And perhaps more importantly, you cannot resist your opportunities to be corrected by God and expect them to receive correction from you.”

Oh my goodness, that last sentence… it’s a real kicker. Ow… owee…. ow, my pride…

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My weekend consisted of…

The migraine that never ends (cue the old Shari Lewis song.)


Three non-stop rolickin’ days of it: you know, the whole flashing-lights, pounding-head, sick-to-your-stomach, cold-cloth-on-your-face-lying-in-a-dark-room nine yards kinda headache. Thank God for migraine medicine (and a boy who’s willing to hop on his bike and race across town as soon as the drugstore doors open to fetch it for me.) Thank God for a completely silent house all day on Saturday (and the daughter who volunteered to take the kids to make it so.) Thank God for the half dozen lime popscicles we just happened to have in the freezer. Thanking Him for the sister who sent pasta salad (with olives) and the watermelon (already cut into nice neat chunks) from my mom. Thanking Him for the girl who sacrificed her beloved Wiggles all weekend, and the other one who made me laugh… and laugh. And laugh (in spite of myself.) But mostly today, I’m thanking the Good Lord for a happy snappy migraine-free Monday morning.

Oh my goodness yes, a very Happy Monday to me. mmhmm.

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Who? Me? OCD?

All of these little clear plastic bins…

each of these little red and white labels…

with their neat little black printing…

the little teacups all in a straight little row…


all of this order makes me ridiculously happy. It just does.

Is that so very wrong?

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I’ve never really shown you my kitchen

And there’s a reason for that. My kitchen is ugly. Really really deeply and tragically ugly.

When I first moved into the house much of the room was covered with flat dark pine green paint… walls, woodwork, fake tiles and all. All pine green. And flat, did I mention the paint was flat? You know, the kind of paint that scuffs at the slightest contact and attracts dirt like a super-duper-dirt-attracting-magnet? I think the previous owners must have gotten an amazing deal on flat pine green paint at W*lmart or something. The cupboards were especially striking as the green was paired with plywood faces, and the interiors painted an odd assortment of colors: brick red, tangerine, and a sort of luggage tan. Bit by bit I’ve been covering over the pine green with a basic white semi-gloss, which I love. After each painting I’ve been amazed and relieved at how much brighter and cleaner the room looks. So far however, the cupboards have been left untouched. Painting the cupboards inside and out just seemed like such an enormous job and the inevitable chaos so overwhelming, that I’ve put it off.

Besides if I stood over by the pantry and looked towards the dining room, I couldn’t even see the ugly cupboards, so they didn’t really bother me TOO much. Mhmm. I kinda had to mostly close my right eye to completely block them out, but hey, you do what you gotta do right?

But then this Mother’s Day weekend came along and the kids offered to repaint the cupboards as a gift from them. A weekend of living in chaos seemed like a small price to pay for bright fresh non-pine-green cabinets, so I jumped at the offer. Hecksakes, I was thrilled. Friday afternoon we all got to work. Noah took off all of the doors and the hardware and Amelia scraped off the 1970′s contact paper that had melded with the shelves. We emptied the cupboards and scrubbed them out. And then we started painting… the white semi-gloss for the exteriors and a bright soft yellow for the interiors. Coincidentally, in the course of our scrubbing and scraping we discovered the original color of the cabinet interiors: an almost exact match for the color and shade of yellow that I chose. I feel so validated. In the course of painting, we have also discovered that it takes a whole lotta coats of that yellow to cover brick red. And tangerine. Not to mention luggage tan.

Twenty-seven THOUSAND coats to be precise.


So yeah, it’s been slow going. It’s Wednesday and we’re still painting. My kitchen is a shambles. I actually took photos of the current state of the room… but in the end I just couldn’t bring myself to share them. Hey, even I have limits to the extent of humiliation I’m willing to subject myself to! It’s bad. O yeah, it’s bad. I haven’t made bread all week. We’ve eaten more fast food meals in the past five days than in the past five months altogether, probably. But I cling to hope. Someday my kitchen will be intact and orderly again… I just know it will. Someday.

Your prayers appreciated.

I’m completely serious here.

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