Nostalgic Home

A Vintage View of Homekeeping

Burger joints gone wild February 20, 2009

Filed under: Random Thoughts — LotusMama @ 9:39 am

On Presidents’ Day, we took advantage of hubby being home and we headed out for lunch at a local burger joint. In our town, this place has been around for a really long time; a very small, shack-like place that touts “homemade soup & pie”. Since watching the movie “Waitress” I have been on a quest for a local pie diner, so I thought it was worth trying it out and getting a slice.

Now granted, it was on a holiday, so that might account somewhat for the crowds, but the place was packed. This little tiny place was filled to capacity; we were lucky to snag a table while we waited in line to order. The prices weren’t cheap – no 1950s cost to match the classic cars nostalgia. Hubby ordered a french dip, NR went with a hamburger and I went with chili fries. Hubby’s dessert was a chocolate shake while NR and I tried pie (apple crisp and coconut cream respectively).

I’d love to say that this little place lived up to the hype and that the crowds really were on to something, but it was just so-so. My chili was ok, but the side of sour cream had a moldy taste. The fries were excellent but the pie was not. It was a homemade crust and wasn’t bad (needed a bit more salt) but the filling was lumpy and gritty. Word from Hubby was that the shake looked like chocolate but didn’t taste like chocolate and the french dip was kind of all dried out.

So assuming that we had a representative meal at this long-standing stand, what is the attraction? The prices aren’t cheap. Sure, you can get a burger and a shake there but nothing to write home about (but apparently enough to blog about). Why was this little place packed on a Monday afternoon with folks dropping twenty bucks for lunch?

Well, the only reasons I can come up with are:

  1. Hubby and I have absolutely no sense of what is good
  2. The diners have no sense of what is good
  3. Nostalgia trumps taste.

Now, it is certainly possible that number 1 is at work to some degree, but it’s kind of hard to believe that dried out hamburgers would warrant the high prices that people would pay. I’m going with number 3 – I think people are hungry for those diners and stands from the past.

The interesting thing is that I’m not so sure people are going to this stand because they have fond memories of hamburger stands in their youth. There were a few older folks there but by and large it was younger people with families. I would say that most of these people were in their thirties (or younger) so I’m guessing that their history of burgers was at McDonalds of the 1970s and 1980s. That alone might cause someone to seek out a hamburger stand for the chance at something fresh, but what keeps people coming back?

Our area has a few famous hamburger stands that have been going strong for years. People line up for burgers, grease be damned, and they are willing to wait upwards of an hour for their burger in busy times. Some of these places must make good burgers but really, I have to think that nostalgia is playing a big part in all this. People want a taste of a time that they perceive as simplier, more wholesome – a time when eating red meat was the norm, when drinking shakes was perfectly healthy and when homemade pie with whipped cream was the way to end a meal. Sure, we can come up with some theory about how scary the economic times are for many people now and that we’re all craving comfort food, but I think it is simplier than that. I think hamburger stands, diners and pie shops have been stamped into our brains as a place where you can feel good while you fill up.

Like my quest for the mythical grail – the pie diner – I think those folks on Presidents’ Day were paying six bucks for a burger to find something beyond food. We nostalgic eaters are searching for some feel good among the fries. Something that reminds us of the countless sitcoms we grew up with, the Norman Rockwell Americana that feels really good, the satisfaction to be found at the bottom of glass of milk and an empty pie plate.

For me, I haven’t had the experience of really finding that place, that diner with the good coffee and the sassy waitresses that call everyone “hon”, the burger joint that serves nirvana on a bun, that greasy spoon place with the best home fries ever. Do these places exist, somewhere? I’d like to think they do, but I’m not sure. For some folks, the little burger joint in my town is that place – they are willing to plunk down the cash for a seat in the crowded little room, to savor a basket of chili fries.

Me, I’m still looking.


The stuff of stars, bits of George Washington and feeling stupid February 16, 2009

Filed under: Random Thoughts — LotusMama @ 8:53 am
Tags: , ,

I’m someone who always likes to learn new things. I’m constantly sucking in information, finding out the newest ideas, the latest theories, the hows and whys of our world. I railed when Pluto was demoted from planet to “dwarf planet” and I cheered when I heard about “nanodiamonds” and their role in possibly curing cancer. I’m not out there following Science journals or taking in seminars at Cal-Tech, but I do keep my ear out for interesting stuff.

Unfortunately, such information can make me feel stupid. Case in point: we watched a new National Geographic series last night called “Known Universe”. It is amazing and anybody who has the National Geographic channel should try to catch it because it will blow your mind. The advances that scientists have made in learning about the universe in just the last few years are absolutely unreal. It’s the kind of information that makes you go “Wow, I am so stupid. There is no way I could study this stuff and come up with these kind of conclusions. Thank goodness there are smart people in the world.” I mean these people are colliding atoms, watching the flickering of stars to find new planets and calculating that there are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on Earth, and I struggle to follow a recipe (that was 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, not 1 whole cup. Doh!)

Anynerd, it is a fabulous show, not to be missed. The best part of the episode we watched last night (Biggest and Smallest) is the information about where all the matter on Earth comes from. Every molecule of every tree, person, rock, coffee cup and pizza box comes from exploded stars. We – all of us, animals, plants, cars, orange juice, Tickle Me Elmo – owe our molecules to an ancient star that blew up and sent the building blocks of the universe to us. Now whether you believe in religion or not, the idea that everything around us and in us came from some long ago star is a pretty amazing, awe-inspiring idea. The lowliest piece of cardboard and biggest diamond in the world come from the same place. Talk about leveling the playing field. Nothing is above or below being made out of stars.

Did that bake your noodle? Yeah, me too. Here’s another tidbit that will make you wish you had paid closer attention in High School science class. Every molecule, every atom is continually recycled. There are no new atoms being created. Everything around us (as we know from the star stuff) has been here a reallllllllllly long time. So when you take a sip of water (as the show described), you are likely drinking in oxygen atoms that were swirling around in dinosaurs, in famous folks – perhaps George Washingon, Abraham Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt. (Wondered how I was going to get the Presidents’ Day reference in, weren’t you?)

So not only are we made of exploded star guts, but we’ve also trekked around in T-Rex and Old Hickory. Honestly, I can’t wrap my mind around this stuff. I won’t even attempt to share the amount of galaxies that are out there in the universe, the size of the big stars compared with our dinky sun or the real distance between our own “local” planets. All I can say is “I feel really stupid” and really grateful that there are people out there who devote their lives to finding out the science behind questions like “how did we get here” or “are there other worlds with life in the universe”. (Battlestar Galatica fans, Star Trekkies and other Sci-Fi followers – keep the faith.)

So on this Presidents’ Day, my mind is swirling in the cosmos and at the atomic level. I’m thinking about how important science is to our future and I’m grateful that our new president recognizes this. I’m also wishing I had been a better science and math student and that my teachers had inspired me the way this new series has done. And I’m also really grateful for smart people.


You can’t be squiriferous if you are senticous February 4, 2009

Filed under: Random Thoughts — LotusMama @ 9:07 am

No, I’m not going for a crossword championship. I’m introducing you to my two new adopted words. I am the proud mother to “squiriferous” and his sister “senticous”. Squiriferous is quite the little gentleman; he insists on wearing a cravat and dining at his club when he isn’t holding doors open for women and laying his cape down over mudpuddles. His sister, Senticous, is a thorny girl – you might even call her prickly, but that is just her way.

Before you think I’ve gone around the bend, you should visit Save The Words and find a little word of your own, perilously close to extinction. It is a sad state of our modern English vocabulary, but many of our words are disappearing from the dictionary at an alarming rate. We collectively substitute fewer and fewer words to say what we mean and that leaves these little words homeless and close to the brink. Won’t you do your part and save one today? Just go to the site, find your little darling (click on a word as you scroll and you’ll find the meaning – unfortunately not the pronunciation; apparently people won’t be brave enough to actually say these words, just write them) and then adopt one for your very own. When you adopt your word, you pledge to use it as much as you can and try to bring it back from oblivion. Sadly, for my darlings squiriferous (to have the characteristics of a gentleman) and senticous (thorny, prickly), I think it may be too late to save them from Darwin’s cruel fate. I fear they have “evolved” into polite and bitchy as in “That boy is so polite, holding the door open for us, but his sister is just too bitchy.”

If you adopt a darling or two for your very own, please let me know. Maybe we can set up a playdate with the kids…with squiriferous anyway.


A little Friday Fun – My current obsessions January 23, 2009

Filed under: Crafting,Games,Random Thoughts — LotusMama @ 12:52 pm
Tags: , ,

Anybody who knows me knows I tend to be a bit…obsessive. I was a magpie in some former life; anything shiny catches my attention and I get all excited about it. Sometime these obsessions, or fancies as I prefer to call them, last for a long time but often they tend to drift away in the wake of something newer and shinier.

I’ve tried being a bit more focused and less flighty but heck, you can’t change a zebra’s stripes, right? (To mix the animal metaphors.)

Anyzoo, right now I have two fancies going strong. One I already mentioned the other day – my long running fascination with Anne Boleyn (this one has been going since I was a teenager). I recently decided to pair up my Anne obsession with my long running desire to make a quilt. I created a collage of Anne portraits, icons, symbols, yadda yadda yadda and uploaded it to Spoonflower, that wonderful create-your-own-fabric website. A short bit later, I had one yard of lovely fabric ready for my quilt.

My Grandma T had generously given me some vintage fabric, one stack of which really had the right colors and Tudor feel about it. I’ve set to work making a quilt top out of this fabric, with some odds and ends I’ve added and will be adding a little bling bling (ooh, shiny) to for good measure. I hope to unveil the quilt top next week, with the hope that it will be all finished in a couple of weeks. Then I can wrap up in my very first quilt featuring my favorite Queen and continue working my way through a rather dry biography.

I mentioned a second “fancy” and that is Guitar Hero World Tour. Seems a far cry from Lady Anne doesn’t it? Well, that’s Ms. Magpie for you. I love this game for the PlayStation. I can’t manage the guitar part of the game very well but I’m loving the drum kit and the microphone. Nothing quite as fun as rocking out to the Eagles in your living room, pounding on the drums like Don Henley. I know, shiny. But very shiny and very fun, so what the heck.

And finally, in the spirit of a little Friday Fun and a salute to obsessionists everywhere (is that a word), here is one of my favorite groups doing a favorite song which will probably not be on Guitar Hero World Tour (but should be because I could handle the drum line).


The restorative power of lycra and lysol December 28, 2008

Filed under: Cleaning,Random Thoughts,Ups and Downs — LotusMama @ 4:46 pm

Call it post-Christmas blues, call it seasonal affect disorder, or call it (as my family does) my typical mood, but I woke up in the dumps today. The day started, innocently enough, with a desire for waffles. I had made a little exchange of a too-tight sweater for a waffle iron (yeah, don’t go there) yesterday, so I was eager to break it out and bring forth a pile of crispy waffles. Uh, not so much. They were soggy, they were chewy, they were an unappealing shade of eggy yellow – but they weren’t good belgium waffles. Totally my fault – I absolve the new waffle iron of any culpability in this debacle – but it started the morning off to a sour start.

My house, during the frenzy of Christmas, has become a tad disheveled, shall we say, and I attribute part of my glum mood to the noticable dust and crumbs. I thought a bit of extra effort was in order today, at least in one room, because I really want to start 2009 off with good housekeeping mojo. I decided to tackle the kitchen.

There is cleaning the kitchen and then there is cleaning the kitchen. Short of pulling the oven out to sweep for bits of stuff and swamping out the veggie crisper (that day of reckoning is coming), I did the real deal today. I rearranged small appliances, cleaned out the toaster, conquered the greasy film that attaches itself to bottles near the stovetop, and generally had my way with my kitchen cleanser and paper towels.

Seventy percent into the job, I realized I felt better. I wasn’t 100% jolly, but I wasn’t Elmo in Grouchland either. I finished the job and surveyed the wonder. Yes, the coffeemaker was better over there, no I don’t need the turkey roaster to be that conveniently placed, yes those glass canisters really can be repurposed in the craft room. The kitchen breathed easier and so did I.  Suitably inspired, it was time to get dressed and face the day.

Oh yeah, I had forgotten. During my visit to the store to get the waffle iron, I had splurged and bought new undies. Wow, talk about a red letter day! Nothing shines up a mood like a pair of new undies. If that sounds crazy to you, just get yourself to a store and check out a pair of new knickers. You might not be able to splurge on gems, roadsters, spa treatments or manolos, but if you can get a new pair of panties, things start looking up. I have not had the same experience with socks, but hey maybe if they are cashmere or something.

Anypair, I’m making walnut candies in my shiny kitchen and feeling pretty good about the effort. Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase “put on your big girl panties and just do it” doesn’t it.


Morning snapshots December 17, 2008

Filed under: Random Thoughts,Resolutions — LotusMama @ 7:11 pm

More snow today, another sleepy morning. I have to get myself going but oh, it is so nice in front of the fire, curled up with a good book.

Waffles for breakfast, projects waiting to be finished and a lazy kitty – hard to break this reverie but homeschool work waits, as does laundry and dishes and….maybe one more chapter….

Nope, I’ll be strong. After the chores, then comes the tea and the novel.


Bioluminescence, Tudor ghosts and Jane Austen the Sleuth – all before my coffee December 11, 2008

Filed under: Holidays,Jane Austen,Random Thoughts — LotusMama @ 5:07 pm

I tend to get up before everyone else in my house. No matter how late I go to bed, I’m up first and I usually have an hour or so to myself. Typically, I spend it on the computer, surfing. I follow up on random thoughts, check out obscure news, add books to my library “to read” list – the usual kind of stuff.

But today I was a bit weirder than usual. I started with checking airfare rates to London and tour packages – mind you, there is no way I’m going to be able to go any time soon, but what the heck, I can dream, right? BTW, British Airway has $1100 tickets if you are looking to fly in May. There are also some great tour packages to Derbyshire here.

Ok, so that little jaunt led me to reminisce about a family vacation many years ago to Hampton Court Palace (Henry VIII’s old digs). So I pulled up the website and prowled around there for awhile. Interesting photos and articles about the palace and a reference to a recent ghost sighting. Wait, what? I didn’t hear about that.

So, off to youtube to find the CCTV video of the ghost. . Even a guest at the palace that day saw it so it must be true, right?

A little more reading about other spots we saw on our family vacation (Tower of London, villages in Southern England, Stonehenge – it was an amazing trip) got me thinking about visiting Derbyshire – the gorgeous scenery in the latest Pride and Prejudice movie. Well, since I won’t be traveling soon I thought I’d check the library for any books on the subject. That search found me a series of novels where Jane Austen is the detective in murder mysteries. Yeah, there really is no historic person left in the world who hasn’t been turned into a sleuth. Ben Franklin, Elizabeth I, Jane Austen…I’m sure there is a Dolly Madison or Prince Phillip mystery out there somewhere in the world.

Ok, so at this point, I’m thinking about England, ghosts, Regency England and of course, Christmas. This leads me to do a little surfing on Christmas past and I read a little about the Twelve Days of Christmas (boy that song is annoying), which leads me to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, which leads me to an article that explains how bioluminescence could be why his nose glows so bright. So I guess that magic that makes him fly can’t handle glowing nostrils.

It’s an hour later and I’ve seen Henry VIII’s ghost, learned about glowing reindeer noses, added a likely cheesy novel to my “to read” list and planned a vacation to England. What did I ever do before the Internet? All I can say is God Bless Al Gore for inventing it.