Jake looked up at me with his dark brown eyes. He appeared kind of sad. He was standing by his blue sweater, which one of my daughters had removed. She thought he was too warm in his wooly sweater because he already has a fur coat.
As we wind down another year, many of us are thinking about what 2018 will bring. Maybe we want to save more money, get fit or wear a smaller clothing size. Improving our health and having more wealth are popular New Year's resolutions, but unfortunately, many resolutions fall by the wayside. Last year, I decided to get more exercise. I went on a lot of walks and worked outside in our yard during the warmer months. However, as winter has arrived, I am ready to hibernate in my den until spring.
A few years ago, I bumped into a man known as "the jolly old elf" as he dropped off some presents for my kids. We had a nice conversation about health, and he set some goals. The other day, I ran into his wife, and our conversation went something like this. "Hi, Mrs. Claus," I said. "How's my favorite red-suited friend doing?"
The other day, I received a message when I returned to my desk after a meeting. Someone had called to ask about microwave ovens and nutrition. As I listened to the question, I decided that I was settling a bet. When people are making wagers about nutrition, I don't mind being involved. The gentleman caller's friend had said that microwaving food destroyed the nutrients. He didn't agree, but he wanted proof in writing.
"What do you think?" my husband asked as I took a taste of the piping hot casserole. "It's kind of bland. It needs more pepper," I said a little too quickly. I noticed his expression resembled that of a sad puppy. I had criticized the entree he made. Note to self: Always compliment the cook. "But it's good overall," I quickly added as I sprinkled more pepper on top of the turkey tetrazzini casserole made with our Thanksgiving leftovers. "Yes, that's better," he noted after adding more pepper to his own portion.
I like to peruse antique stores. Sometimes I spot things that I do not recognize, even after years of collecting. Awhile back, I came upon a golden oak chest with three doors and bronze handles. It carried a fairly hefty price tag. At first I thought it was a dresser. I opened a door and my husband and I studied it a bit. "That's an icebox," we said simultaneously.
An estimated 84 million Americans have this condition and 90 percent do not know they have it. Do you know what it is? Here's a hint: The condition occurs when the cells in your body do not respond normally to insulin, which is made by your pancreas. The answer is "prediabetes." Having prediabetes means you have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels but not high enough to be diagnosed as having diabetes.
"Mom, now my hands will smell like onions!" my older daughter said as she chopped a particularly fragrant onion we had grown this summer. She has been my long-term vegetable chopper, even when we have gadgets that will do the work for us. We had onions, bell peppers and potatoes to chop as we tried this week's recipe on a cool afternoon. I was rinsing and chopping home-grown potatoes. Yes, I chose the easy vegetable to prepare. Next time, I think my daughter will be handing me an onion.
Do you ever taste cookie dough? Licking the mixing spoon or pinching a chunk of batter from the bowl can be tempting. If you said "Yes, I taste raw cookie dough," give yourself a pat on the back for your honesty. Now I need to tell you to avoid the temptation of tasting raw doughs and batters and take some extra precautions when baking.
"What would you think about writing a weekly column?" a couple of editors from the North Dakota State University Extension Service asked me. "What if no papers run it?" I responded. "Oh, they will," they replied in unison. "Writing something new every week can get to be a grind, though," one of them added. "And what if the papers run it and no one reads it?" I thought to myself. I had a toddler son who didn't always sleep all night, I was fairly new to my career, and I was adjusting to the recent loss of my mother. I wasn't sure about adding something to my plate.