Sunday, March 13, 2016

Favorite Things

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There's a long-standing family squabble, amongst our three 'kids', as to who is 'the favorite'. The girls will say it's Dan. He's the baby, all 6'3", 200 lbs of him, and the only boy. And Dan will say, yes he is, as he should be. But of course none of them are, because all of them are. I've sworn I'm going to leave three letters behind, to be read after I'm gone, telling each of them that they were in fact my absolute favorite, and not to tell the other two. I've always loved the idea of doing that.

Who's the favorite has gotten to be such a family joke that my ring tone, when any of the three of them calls, is Julie Andrews bursting into song about brown paper packages tied up with string.... After a year or so of that ring tone, and how often it goes off, CS now has this look that comes across his face every time he hears it. He's just jealous I think.

So yesterday, speaking of favorites, spring having sprung hard here in northeast Texas, I started digging through my bin of sandals. There they were, my all-time favorites. I'd worn them 5 years ago, in a local fashion show, and been given the chance to buy them at discount. They were a bit funky looking, but surprisingly comfortable. Most women's shoes aren't known for that combination. I've now worn them, 9 months of the year, for 5 years and they're starting to look bedraggled. I figured out they were called Madeline Addy Gladiators, and full price was a whopping $50, in a combination of gold and silver and pewter that made them go with just about everything, and very little heel. I'm 5'9 3/4" barefoot, so heels I don't have need of. My 6' husband, not really going for the Tom Cruise thing of looking up to his wife, agrees with me.

I spent a good amount of time online, searching high and low to replace them. Sad, sad, sad. They are no longer in stock, or as everyone put it - 'unavailable'. The ones I came across, unavailable, were in black, and I loved them too. Seriously, if I could replace my ratty ones and get a pair of the black ones I would only need two pairs of shoes most of the entire summer. It's not going to happen. And if I'd known how much I was going to grow to love them, I would have bought three pairs, plus a couple in black. I'm not really a shoe kind of girl, and I don't go in search of new styles every year or ten; I just want them to feel good, look reasonably cute, not cost a fortune and last forever. So I will go on wearing my ratty ones, as most of the ratty is under my foot anyway, and it's so far down to the ground from where I'm looking they're not so bad. At least that's what I'm going to tell myself.
It got me to thinking about favorites. There's my favorite two spoons, in the silverwear drawer. Favorite because they don't match the rest of the silverwear, but are heavier, and shaped different and make eating my cereal or yogurt more fun in the morning. Every morning I find myself digging through the other 16, looking for them, and being disappointed if they're in the dishwasher.

There's my two favorite coffee mugs, and I rewash them by hand so they are always available. I am not at all drawn to the other dozen or so in the cupboard.

I can't even describe how much I love my absolute favorite black yoga pants. Bought at New York and Company for under $20, but they are long enough, and now they are sadly too big, and I'm mourning their loss. I could wear them 6 days a week, and maybe 7 if I could convince myself God is okay with me wearing them to church.

There's my favorite kind of pens - Pilot precise V7 RT fine black, so they write fast and don't show through on Bible pages. Having taken typing and shorthand for too many years in high school, I have little patience with handwriting anything, so the pen has to keep up with my scrawls. Give me one of those 'free from the bank or insurance office' pens and you'll see me turn up my nose like a complete pen snob. I am, I confess it.

My favorite ice cream - vanilla. When I'm feeling wild I order strawberry, and don't understand why we need so many flavors besides the two. Coconut cake, pecan pie, hazelnut creamer, the Asian salad from Chick Fila. (Is that how you spell it? I can never remember!). These are all indeed, some of my favorite things. I'm not adventurous and variety is over-rated in my book.

So to duly note the day when I have to recognize that my favorite ever in my life shoes are no longer available, and I'm not going to be able to replace them, and will, therefore, have ratty looking feet most of this summer (and possibly next year too), I'm going to share my all time favorite cookie recipe with you. I'll confess, first, I'm not big on chocolate. I could live the rest of my life without ever eating another chocolate chip cookie. I generally think they are too soft or too crisp, and the chips don't really deliver the promise they preach. But these cookies? They're my mother-in-law's peanut butter cookies, and she found the recipe in some Betty Crocker or BH&G cookbook, honestly, about 70 years ago. I promise, promise, promise you they are better than any Martha Stewart would come up with. They're fast, easy, a pre-teen can easily whip these up, they're fail proof. My MIL had so many wonderful things about her, but I would have loved her just for baking these cookies for me / us every time we came for a visit.

(insert drum roll here)

Atrel's Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup shortening (just trust me and use it) (she lived to 95 and ate it most days of her life!)
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1-2 tsp water, as needed for consistency

Heat oven to 375 degrees

Cream first five ingredients together using hand mixer. Add rest of ingredients, adding water last as needed for smooth consistency. Shape dough into balls with hands. Place onto cookie sheet, 12 to a sheet, and criss cross with fork that has been dipped in sugar. Bake for about 10 minutes. Remove carefully from sheets or let set a few seconds to set up. Devour at will.
I won't promise they are healthy, but they're worth the calories. I'm about to go into my kitchen and whip up a batch, and while they won't replace my beat up favorite ever gladiator sandals, they will make me a little less sad about the situation for awhile.

P.S. They're even better with a glass of cold milk.

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