Now, I certainly am not one to criticize poor marketing choices or bad grammar or inaccurate wording … Okay, who am I kidding? I love doing that. But Younger Daughter and husband John Pitts are the champs at spotting those details that make you wonder what somebody was thinking. Such as this poster advertising Dairy Queen’s $5 lunch special — or, as JP pointed out, the “Five-dollar-bucks” special. Because that’s what it says. Probably, JP conjectured, the marketing coordinator presented a “Five Bucks” campaign to the DQ vice presidents in the corporate meeting room and one of the bosses said “We need a dollar sign there” and the marketing coordinator could either argue or agree and so we get a “five dollar bucks” message that is both confusing AND redundant. And now I want a sundae.
Oh my cookies! And cupcakes. And brownies. And fudge and cheesecakes and truffles and trifles and all sorts of all things yummy and sweet and delicious. Imagine walking into a room filled with every bite-sized dessert imaginable, and your only responsibility was to wander around and eat as many as you could. Imagine Butterfinger Cake and chocolate gelato chased by peanut-butter balls and chocolate-covered strawberries. Imagine strawberry-lemon parfait topped off with a pina colada Italian ice. A Valentine’s Day fantasy? A dessert lover’s hallucination? A never-to-come-true unattainable dream? Nope. This was a reality — at least it was for one night at the Community Center in Selmer, Tenn., where the local newspaper, the Independent Appeal, hosted a fund-raiser for the McNairy County Literacy Council. The council had lost much of its United Way funding, and Independent Appeal publisher Janet Rail was determined to help make up the difference. So the Independent Appeal asked folks to bring their best desserts to the community center, set up some tables and brought in a band and for $5 you could buy a ticket and enter Dessert Paradise. Almost 25 churches, clubs, businesses, restaurants and other groups were there, tempting you with chess squares and cake pops and peanut brittle and other things you didn’t even know you wanted until you saw them and had to have some. I believe I said “Just one more trip around the room to make sure we didn’t miss anything” at least 12 times and we still didn’t sample everything. Here’s hoping this becomes an annual tradition — and a successful fund-raiser. Because I’m willing to do my part and attend every single time.
Grandson Capt. Adorable turned 3 this past weekend, and his mom (my older daughter) wisely decided to celebrate by 1) a family trip to the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, where the Captain’s favorite thing was “I touched a sting ray!” and 2) a family — grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins — party with all the essentials of cake, ice cream and munchies. (Of course, it was so cold that day that we forgot the ice cream. Oh well.) I thought she was smart in forgoing the fun but insane kid-frenzy type of party they’d had for the Captain’s second birthday. “After all,” she said, “his family are his most important people.” So props to her for keeping it simple. But that’s totally them — do-it-yourself to save money and because you’ll probably end up with something better anyway. For instance, the Captain requested a Dinosaur Train (he loves that TV show) cake, and since no such decor could be found anywhere, his artist-and-art-teacher daddy printed and cut out the cake decorations on his own. Brilliant! Add the cake and his favorite people to two other of the Captain’s favorite things — blueberries and tractor rides on Grandad’s farm — and it was a perfect third birthday!
My friend Susan is the most amazing cook and hostess ever. Our four-woman book club met at her house this past week and she served us a meal so healthy and delicious we didn’t want to stop eating long enough to discuss the book — which was Winter’s Bone, by the way, and excellent. Susan started impressing us with bruschetta (roasted garbanzo beans, onions, tomatoes and other fresh veggies on grilled bread) and then went on to a cup of chicken soup with pita-chip croutons. Entrees were beautifully grilled salmon steaks with roasted potatoes and vegetables. And then there was dessert. And I know you’re thinking when you look at this ice-cream delight, “But I thought this was a healthy meal.” It was! Susan, with her shopping skills, found these low-fat and 140-calorie ice-cream sandwiches from Skinny Cow and topped them with heart-healthy walnuts, strawberries and blueberries. I’d never had any Skinny Cow products before since I tend to walk very fast past the ice-cream aisle at the grocery to prevent being irresistibly drawn to the Ben & Jerry’s section, where I usually stand there with the cooler door open wondering how many calories and fat grams Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream actually can have. (Denial. I’m in denial.) And I have to admit I’ve had unpleasant low-fat, low-calorie, low-whatever ice-cream experiences. Haven’t we all? But I’m telling you: Skinny Cow is good. And when it has the Susan seal of approval, you know it’s a winner.
Chattanooga, Tennessee, is pretty much the coolest town ever. Especially when my both of my daughters and Capt. Adorable — my 2-year-old grandson — are there. Well, Younger Daughter (center) always is there, because she’s living and working in Chattanooga. But recently Older Daughter (left) and Capt. Adorable and I went to visit for a day, and those three spread coolness and adorability everywhere we went. For example, nobody could resist commenting on the Captain’s incredibly cute dinosaur hat — we made friends all over the place! We had a great time browsing through the fun and funky North Shore shops, eating scoops of Clumpies Ice Cream one creamy spoonful at a time and trying to limit our choices at Whipped Cupcakes to only a dozen pieces of deliciousness. (What??? Don’t judge us. You know that food always is the most important part of a road trip. And, besides, it was the Captain who demanded the ice cream and the cupcakes. Yeah, that’s it — the Captain made us.) So of course we had to walk all that off on the Walnut Street pedestrian bridge over the Tennessee River, where the Captain insisted on walking as close to the barrier as possible — while holding a trusted hand.
And this is why I am not home decorating for Christmas. Well, this, and I’m lazy, too.