TToT – Simple Practicality

Categories Cooking, Crying, Growing, Learning, Listening, Living, Loving, Remembering

There is nothing quite so satisfying as practical wisdom.

While I suppose it’s presumptuous to call myself “wise,” I can at least admit honestly that I found several occasions this week that called for some practical application of knowledge and somehow I got it right!

And in the spirit of being practical, I need to be quick about this because I’m late to publish and I have a list of things to do yet after this post. So let’s be about the business of thankfulness, shall we?20140519_071538[1]First, as it is Memorial Day weekend here, I am thankful for the men and women who serve our country and who have given their lives for the freedoms and safety we enjoy. I know many servicemen and women – as do we all – and it is only since I have my own family that I feel like I really appreciate the sacrifices of them and their families.

Flag SwatchI am thankful that over the years I have learned a trick or two in the kitchen. And when I don’t know the trick to use, I know where to turn for an answer. The Hub helped me with Soup of the Week several days ago, reading ingredients and measurements to me while I did the hands-on work. I was thankful for his help since I was having a very rough time processing that evening.

All seemed fine until we hit the measurement for black pepper in the soup. It seemed…wrong. I questioned him. He looked again – twice – and confirmed that the Tablespoon he quoted was absolutely correct.

I believed him.

When we sat down to eat, Zilla commented right away that the soup was too peppery. (My little chef!) I told her it was no different than any other time we’ve had that soup (our favorite easy cream of tomato) because it was the very same recipe. But it really did taste…wrong. So the Hub pulled up the recipe and checked the measurements on the pepper. Turns out the Tablespoon was supposed to have been a teaspoon…I knew it! So I was kind of thankful that my instincts turned out to be correct – I knew the ratio of salt to pepper in the thing could not be equal. No way.

Rather than waste the soup (I hate food waste), I needed a solution to counteract the pepper. Bringing additional cream to the tomato soup party worked fairly well. Yay again for the practical knowledge that the creamy base of the soup would help to balance the pepper. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better.

On Soup of the Week night #2, I went looking for another way to solve the pepper problem. I hit the Internet food forums and found confirmation to what I already suspected was true – in some cases, the addition of sweet to something too peppery can work. I added some shredded carrots and some fabulous Vermont maple syrup balsamic vinegar to the soup. A definite success! So I was again thankful for a practical solution, as well as the fact that the food did not go to waste.


Sadly, we did have to waste a dragon fruit that got too old this week. Zilla and I bought a dragon fruit several days ago and when we cut it to eat the other day…it wasn’t quite right. Looked OK, tasted wrong. Drawing on the practical wisdom of “when in doubt, throw it out,” we tossed it as well as some tabbouleh that smelled a bit off. Note to self: eat fruit sooner and don’t leave tabbouleh so long before eating.

Then there was the car thing. Today when I got in the car to run some errands, the car did not feel quite right. I knew something was wrong and, long story short, suspected it was in need of power steering fluid. I asked my Brother-in-Law what he thought and he said the same. For the record, yes, I did consult the Fab Hub. However. While the man is indeed brilliant and I adore him completely, automobile basics are simply not within his area of practical knowledge. As my Grandfather used to say (and my Mom still does), “Half of being smart is knowing what you’re dumb at.” I’m thankful the Hub is not the kind of guy to get insulted that I called in another resource on this one.

Anyway, back to the car. A quick check of the level determined that it was indeed low. Zilla and I hit the auto parts store. I’m thankful that she was nicely behaved in there and and while I filled the reservoir. I’m thankful I didn’t spill said fluid all over the engine – in fact the gentleman topping off his engine fluids next to me in the lot admired my steady hand. I’m thankful that the problem is now corrected and the car is just fine.

I’m glad I went with my gut on this one because it turned out to be a very simple fix and cost just a few dollars rather than a costly repair.

I am thankful for hawk and blimp sightings while out and about with Zilla this week. Very cool to experience, but no photo evidence. Sorry. Hey, we were driving for crying out loud!

I am thankful for some good writing this week and for the wonderful feedback and response those pieces have received. Thanks to all of you who responded so heartily to my 1000Speak post and my Finish the Sentence Friday post this week.

I’m thankful to have (finally) found a summer handbag that meets my criteria for all-around everyday bag – neutral color, appropriate shade for summer, and big enough to fit all the extra crap Zilla and the Hub inevitably dump on me to carry in it. Oh, also? On sale, plus $10 off a purchase over a certain amount so I got it for $30 less than the original retail price. Win!

20150523_232900[1]Wow, how odd is that image size? Which brings me to my next item… I am very thankful that my cell phone upgrade period flipped over and I have my new (free with renewed contract) phone in hand less than 24 hours after placing the order. Awesome.

And finally, the kind of big one. Zilla had a bit of a heartbreak this week and was more than a little bit sad. She came to me for comfort and we did just that – picked her favorite dinner, read her favorite storybooks, snuggled, and talked. As we talked, she told me how she felt and why and I offered her what I hoped were comforting words as well as practical suggestions for future situations.

Oh how I wished I could take that sad away from her I can’t! I know that. But somehow – and Lord knows I have no idea how – I managed to find the words to get her through it. The only reasonable answer is that I drew from the same words spoken to me by my Mom and my Grandparents in similar situations. I’m thankful that I found the words and that she seems to be quite a bit better today, already. This was a big sting. Big. But I am thankful that she is smart and resilient and I’m sure she’ll get through it OK. (I’ll be checking with my Mom about this one, though, just to make sure I did it right.)

I am thankful for a lazy day in our PJs today to start the long weekend. I am thankful that Zilla had a lovely “spa night” in our jet tub this evening and is now sleeping peacefully. I am thankful that there were leftovers for dinner. I’m thankful Cat One is feeling better (he was WAY sick this week). And I’m thankful that the Hub is being patient while I write this. He’s waiting to continue a PC game we started earlier this week. I guess I’m thankful that he introduced me to these games of his and helped me find my inner geek?

And that, friends, is the end of my list for this week.

Your turn: What are you thankful for this week? What practical wisdom do you rely upon when you need it? When is the last time you saw a blimp?

You know the drill – share ’em or link ’em!


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Lisa A. Listwa is a self-employed writer with experience in education, publishing, and the martial arts. Believing there was more to life than punching someone else’s time clock and inspired by the words of Henry David Thoreau, she traded her life as a high school educator for a life as a writer and hasn’t looked back. She is mother to one glorious handful of a daughter, wife to the nicest guy on the planet, and reluctant but devoted owner of three Rotten Cats. You can find her adventures and thoughts on living life deliberately here on the blog.

34 thoughts on “TToT – Simple Practicality

  1. Beautiful list, Lisa, all the way! I so agree with you that we have an inner voice that we need to learn to pay attention to, just as you did several times here. I’ve never known it to lead me wrong, IF I listen and pay attention. It is the voice of wisdom, and you dealt with some situations that could have gone much worse if you had ignored them, given up, or said the wrong thing. Yay for you, well done my friend, well done! 🙂

  2. A day spent in PJ’s to kick of your 3 day weekend sounds perfect. Kudo’s to you on topping off your power steering fluid without a drip – I once had an Astro van that ran low often and it was a trick to get to the fill tube.

    1. It was a great start to the weekend, Vanessa!
      Doing the fluid without a drip was good luck, I suppose. I opened the hood, looked at the opening and thought “oh crap – I need a funnel!) but I had to just get it done. 😀

  3. “Half of being smart is knowing what you’re dumb at.”

    That’s AMAZING wisdom. I like it a lot 🙂 What wise stock you come from.

    I’m already glad about the driving thing, but…I’m sad now about Zilla, and really glad that you managed to fix her for now. And you’re doing a good thing by checking your parenting with your mom. That’s a smart move. I’d probably do that kind of thing 🙂

    *happiness* So glad you wrote this week. And fingers crossed for your writing next week 🙂

    1. Isn’t that truly good advice? All part of the process of self-realization and coming to terms with who we are. Admitting we don’t know something is the first step to either changing that or not attempting to do something unwise.
      Zilla is working on feeling better. She’s really fine, but when the topic comes up you can see she’s still bugged. We’re working through it!
      Fingers definitely crossed for next week…mostly the first one on deck. I’m pinging you about that one in a minute.

  4. It is so important to trust our instincts, isn’t it? In tasting things, in hearing things, in just sensing and feeling things. Even across the blogosphere. I’m glad you had a good week. I feel all cuddly and relaxed reading about PJs day. Have a good weekend. Nice rescue of the soup.

  5. I’m thankful for leftovers too – especially tonight. Hubs and I have a busy day planned. So glad I made extra last night and I don’t have to cook again tonight. Very glad you were able to comfort your daughter and talk her through it. I hope she continues feeling better. And I’m glad you shared this wonderful post and all your thankfulness in it. So much to be thankful for if we just merely look for it. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Marcia. There is always something good to find if we look – I’ve found that to be true so often.
      I frequently plan leftovers intentionally to help with the busy days. And I’m very grateful that my family doesn’t mind them!
      Zilla is continuing to feel better and I’m quite happy about that.

  6. Gosh, I am amazed and impressed at your instinct regarding power steering fluid. I would have no clue. (Though I’d probably have known about the pepper so we’re even…) I am not exactly Ms Mechanic and have got lazy since my husband quite enjoys tinkering with cars. (But would definitely not have known about the pepper!)

    Sorry to see your daughter had a hard time this week. In theory it makes them more resilient or something, but we mothers would probably mostly pick from them to learn life’s hard lessons without the hardness! 🙂 I can relate to wanting to take the sad away!

    1. I’m definitely not a mechanic, Yvonne, but I had a grandfather and uncles who wanted me to know enough that I would never be the woman who knows nothing and gets taken advantage of where car repairs are concerned. And when something does happen to my cars, I pay attention and ask questions so I know what’s going on. I think one of these days I wouldn’t mind taking a basic car maintenance class just for the sake of knowledge.
      I asked my Mom today – the sad goes away, right? They get over this? Because I just hate to see her hurting. But if she never hurts, she never learns. And when Mom talked to Zilla about it today, she said something like “your mom must have learned all those good things when people told her.” So that tells me I got it right! So hard.

      1. One of my daughters has had big struggles with sadness and even depression – mostly related to physical illness, but also she was bullied when she was younger – and so I do understand that pain of wanting to take the hurt away. One of the hardest things was the way people often seemed to think she should just “get over it.” You are giving your daughter time to grieve, giving her support, being mindful of her feelings, and that’s the best you can do.
        And of course, self-compassion for you too!

        1. Thanks for the vote of motherly confidence, Yvonne. It helps to know you’re “doing it right.” So hard to know. I honestly thought this kind of crap would wait until at least middle school…sigh. Zilla’s doing much better and I’m confident she’ll handle things at school just fine. (fingers crossed and praying hard)

  7. Is it just me or does the bag look like it’s smiling too? 🙂 And oh my goodness I would not have managed with a tablespoon of pepper! I drive my husband crazy because I’m so sensitive to spice.

    1. Wow, the bag does look very happy, doesn’t it?
      The tablespoon of pepper was pretty hefty. My Daughter has a very sensitive palate – only six year old I know who can identify ingredients in food. She was certain it was wrong and sure enough, when we checked, the measurement was wrong. We made it work, though!

  8. A grandad saying… a Zilla heartbreak ( I hope she is soooo much better, what a good mom!)… and Cat #1 was REALLY sick!? WHat a week! Where did you find time to write as much as you did… Im feeling so guilty this week that I havent gotten to read anything and havent been around at all! I think I may be doing this time management thing wrong when I look at your week and productivity.

    1. Zilla and Cat One are both doing better. Zilla is also feeling a bit better. Let’s suffice to say it falls under the umbrella of “girl drama.” Does that kind of cover it? We can talk offline later. Cat One was (sorry if this is TMI) constipated, we think. He seems much better now. I worry about him. They are getting older – over nine years. It’s not the oldest I’ve heard of for cats, but they aren’t exactly spring chickens, either. 😀
      As for the time management thing, well, I’m still way behind on reading and my house is dirty. So there’s that. 😉

  9. I really like your new bag! Looks perfect for summer. Super impressed with the power steering fluid story. I would have been lost. I was doing good to add oil to the car last week and I did spill it on the engine (lots of white smoke!). I was thankful that I remembered how to do it though sloppy effort or not and could still make it to my oldest son’s last middle school awards assembly.

    1. I love the bag. I needed something large and neutral. Practical. My daughter helped pick this one out and I think it will be just right.
      The no-spill power steering fluid was lucky for sure! I wish I had remembered to grab some wet wipes for my hands because I definitely came up with engine grease and all I had handy was hand sanitizer! 😀 Anyway, today the car is running perfectly so I’m pretty happy with that.

    1. She’s doing much better, Kristi. And thanks – I’m glad for that, too. And I want so much to establish these kinds of talks so that as the things she needs to talk about become greater, she is quick to turn to me and we can work through the tough stuff of life together. #parentingisreallyhard

  10. Sorry to hear that Zilla had a rough go. Thankfully, kids are resilient. Hopefully she can move past it quickly and get on with being happy again.

    I could not be more impressed with your power steering fluid story. Never, ever would I have been able to diagnose the problem, let alone know where to pour it. Good for you!

    I’m also impressed with the soup fixes. In my house, we would have suffered through and probably thrown it out.

    1. Thanks, Christine. I’m pretty happy with those fixes this week – well the power steering fluid and the soup, anyway. Wish I could fix the Zilla one more definitively, but I can’t. She’s doing fine. It’s nothing more than any of us have ever been through, but as I am certain you already know, when it’s your kid it’s so hard not to want to jump in and wipe it all away. But the experience is going to be a rung on the ladder of learning that ultimately will fade away. I’m praying very hard that she moves past this well and quickly.

  11. I like the smiling handbag photo (this is the week for photos that show more when printed than when taken).

    Always fun when you catch something (like the low power steering fluid) that averts something bigger.

    Big week for the intuition! cool

    1. Those are the best photos, aren’t they, Clark? When you get more than you realized?
      I was glad to catch the power steering issue, but now it seems we have a leak in there, so off to the service center anyway…at least we know it’s not a major thing. (fingers crossed)
      And having intuition work in your favor? It really is a great feeling, knowing that your instincts about things are correct, even if they seem trivial. I feel like somehow it’s an indicator that I may be tapping into whatever internal knowledge or strength exists.

  12. Wow, you sure had a busy week!! Did I ever tell you that hubby declared your tomato cream soup the best tomato soup ever? We’ve had it a few times, and it sure is delicious! I’m glad you had that gut feeling about your car and could avoid a repair later on. Mommy-daughter times are definitely something wonderful. Don’t get many moments with one of the girls alone these days, but our times will come again 🙂 Have a wonderful week, Lisa!

    PS: The purse ROCKS!

    1. Stephanie, OH. MY. GOSH! I LOVE that you’ve made that soup and that Hubby has proclaimed it “best tomato soup ever!” It really is good, isn’t it? Thanks to Ina Garten for that one but it certainly is our favorite.
      As for the car, we figured out that there is a leak somewhere in the power steering fluid – either reservoir or hose – and we’re going to need to take it in anyway. But that shouldn’t be a terrible expense. Mostly labor.
      Mommy/daughter times are special. And you know, we’re together every day for the usual routine stuff, but having those special dates is different. Love them!
      The purse feels slightly “old lady,” but I am going to have to embrace it. I’m definitely happy with it.
      Have a wonderful week, too!

  13. So OF COURSE I fixate on what bothered Zilla so much that she needed comforting. I hope that she, and the situation, is okay. Also yay for inner geeks and playing games with your hubs!!! And to rescued soup.

    1. Yeah, I know…me too! We can chat about that elsewhere. Things are fine – it’s really nothing any more earth-shattering than any of us went through somewhere along the line, but she’s little and it’s the first times for these lousy things. And I so want to take that sad away from her…but I can’t. As much as I’d give anything for her to always be happy and never be hurt, she needs those experiences, too. But I hate it.

  14. I am dumb at cars. I really have no idea how they work. Am I now smart for admitting that?
    I am SO IMPRESSED with you knowing what to do for your car!!!! (though I did just read your update on facebook–so sorry)
    So glad you had some good, happy times with your girl and sorry she had a bad time of it.
    I like your new summer bag! Wish I had one. Thinking of making one. Can I pull that off?

    1. You are very smart admitting you know nothing about cars. 😉
      Zilla’s doing fine – we had a lovely weekend and she’s ready to start the week fresh. Only three weeks until summer and I’m SO ready to have her home with me!
      The bag…I like, but do you think it looks old-lady-ish? Because I kinda do. I could never make one and if you do pull that off, you can color me impressed.

  15. Oh, I am late, but still feeling for you. Isn’t it the worst when your child gets her heartbroken? Oh, what we wouldn’t do to take the pain away. But alas…we have to settle for special dinners, extra snuggle time, and knowing that this too shall pass.

    1. I would love to take the pain away, but a part of me realizes that yes, it will pass, and she also needs to learn these things. Sad that life has to have these sad things, but I guess it’s preparation for the bigger sad things in life. She’s doing well. Learning some life lessons these last couple of weeks.

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