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Memorial Day

Memorial Day is coming up soon. For a lot of people that will mean picnics, carry-ins, and family gatherings.

Memorial Day is a day to remember and honor those who lost their lives while serving our country in the armed forces. It has a long and winding history, but the tradition of decorating the graves of fallen military men and women goes back to before the Civil War.

Whether you participate in patriotic remembrances or simply enjoy the day off work to gather with friends and family, you might want to make something red, white, and blue. Here are a few good recipes.

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How Long Can I Keep …

We’ve all done it. We buy something expecting to use it right away, but we don’t. Now you’ve got that [whatever] sitting there, and you wonder if it’s still good.

First, know your numbers. Few foods have an actual expiration date—a date after which a food is unsafe to eat. More common are “sell by” and “best if used by” dates. Sell by dates are for stores. Generally speaking, they are not legally allowed to sell a product after this date. It doesn’t mean it’s not safe, but it may be nearing the end of the time when it will taste its best.

This is also true of the best if used by date. After that date the flavor and/or texture may deteriorate. Of course, you should always discard any food that has an off scent or color.

Here are some general guidelines for how soon you should use up certain foods to make sure they are still good:

Eggs should be eaten within five weeks of purchase. Once they’re boiled, they will last another week in the fridge.

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Wedding Day Survival Kit

The wedding day is one day in which minor snafus can become major issues. If you are working with a good wedding planner and have engaged them to orchestrate things on the day of the wedding, he or she will be likely to have an extensive wedding kit. But if you haven’t engaged someone to take charge that day (or if you aren’t sure they’ll be truly prepared), you might want to task someone you trust with bringing along a wedding day survival kit. This should be someone who isn’t already charged with a lot of responsibility since you don’t want to overwhelm any one person.

What is a wedding day survival kit? It’s a little bit of everything to handle those emergencies that may pop up among the wedding party. Here’s a list of what I suggest you include and why.

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Trusting the Experts

I recently had an experience while shopping that was probably as frustrating for the salesperson as it was for me. I walked into a store that often helps women choose an ensemble for an event—weddings, formal parties, dances, etc. I walked in looking for a pair of pants of a particular style and color. The shop did not have exactly what I was looking for. The sales person made several suggestions, but they were not in line with what I had in mind. She was absolutely an expert in her field, but I was not looking for her type of expertise. I just wanted a pair of pants in the style I was looking for.

The experience made me think about trusting my experts. I intentionally surround myself with experts so I can make use of their expertise. Some of those are paid experts. Others are friends. What they all have in common are:

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Strawberry-Kiwi Jam

My husband, The Furry Guy, puts jam on and in all kinds of things. He’ll use it to flavor his yogurt, top his ice cream, sweeten his grilled cheese sandwich, and more. Years ago I adapted this recipe from one I found in a now-defunct cooking magazine. It’s delicious. What’s great, is that you don’t have to add pectin, since kiwi fruit has enough pectin to thicken the jam.

Remember that the atmospheric conditions can greatly affect your jam. The time you’ll need to boil the jam in order to get it to the right consistency will be different on a cold, dry January day than on a hot, humid August day.

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Happy Easter

Easter is on April 21 this year. That’s next Sunday, as this column drops. I don’t talk a lot about my faith in my column. If you know me, you know that I am a follower of Christ. I attend church regularly. I do my best to live a life pleasing to Christ. I do it far from perfectly, but I do my best.

I talk a lot about Christmas, but Easter is actually my favorite holiday. It’s intensely personal for me. So, while I don’t talk about it a lot, my year basically centers around Easter.

The church I attend is Chapel Ministries Outreach (CMO). It is somewhat informal. It’s non-denominational. We aren't perfect; we're simply a group of people who are doing their best to live out what Jesus modeled for us. If you don’t have a church home but would like to spend Easter Sunday with a group of friendly people, consider this a personal invitation.

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Look Good for the Wedding

Yay! Someone’s getting married! Whether that’s you, your son or daughter, your best friend, or someone else you’re close to, you’ll want to look your best. And looking your best can include some of your local experts. Let’s look at who can help you and what you’ll want to take into consideration.

Your Hair

You need to ask yourself a few questions about your hair. First, do you want to do it yourself or have your stylist do it for you on the day of the wedding? If you want your stylist to do it, make the appointment as soon as you have the date. Seriously. If you know the wedding will be Saturday, June 20, 2020, make the appointment today for that morning. (If they don’t have a calendar yet for that date, check frequently so you can make the appointment as soon as possible.) Allow plenty of time for not only the appointment but also for delays, problems, and such. Also, schedule a trial run on the hairstyle a couple of weeks before the wedding. This way you can make sure that you’re both talking the same language and you like the way the style looks on you.

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Grilled Cheese Month

April is Grilled Cheese Month. You’d think that grilled cheese would be pretty simple. It’s bread, cheese, and heat. But the possibilities are almost endless.

An open-faced sandwich, a slice of toast with cheese melted on top, became popular in the US during the 1930s. Cookbooks from the US Navy describe broiled “American cheese filling sandwiches” during World War II.

The great thing about grilled cheese sandwiches is that you can make it as ordinary or extraordinary as you like. Add some zip by using mayonnaise instead of butter on your bread. Change up your cheese and/or your bread.

One of my favorites is to use a yeasty roll such as a Kaiser roll. I slice it in two, butter each half, and toast it. Then I add two slices of American cheese to the bottom slice and top it with the top of the roll. I cover the whole thing in the pan for just a minute or two, until the cheese is melted.