Neighbor Friday: Sweet Jane

March 4, 2011

Happy Friday, boys and girls!  We’ve got several rings open at the Freakshow Circus today, so put on your favorite clown shoes, grab a beverage and stay awhile!

First off, I’m honored to be blabbing and snarking at Kelly’s place and at Rudri’s place today.  If y’all get a minute, we’d love to have you hop on over.

But now, you’re in for the delightful Jane!

I’m so grateful to have found Jane. She blogs over at TheyCallMeJane and she is one funny lady. She’s also smart, and irreverent, and…a full-blown, pie-eyed optimist.

I know.

I don’t know why we like each other, either.

How two women can be so opposite and yet so similar is one of life’s mysteries, but I’m thrilled that she agreed to be my neighbor today.

Fair Warning: This post is full of love and nice.  I am highly uncomfortable with love and nice, so I told Jane that I wasn’t going to post it. I asked her to submit something else. She (nicely) told me to stuff it.

That Jane has backbone.

So. This Cold Prickly is moving over to give the Warm Fuzzy her way.  I’ll be hacking up hairballs the entire day, but I’m going to give her her way. I like her that much.



An Ode To TKW: Celebrating The Memories She Stirs Up

When TKW asked me to guest spot on her site of course, I was honored. I love TKW. She’s my sista from another mista. Our lives, our choices, our likes and dislikes? We’re two peas in a pod. I’d do anything for her. And if she needs a break on a Friday, I’m here to help.

Oh, who am I kidding? I’m tickled to be seen somewhere else. It’s like I’m on vacation, exploring new territory. A little end of the week adventure.

What I love about coming here, as I’m sure many of you will agree, is TKW’s gift of gab and her ability to conjure up memories inside ourselves that have been sitting on a dusty shelf. Her wit, her reverence, her vulnerability. She mixes and stirs and combines and adds a little spice. And voila! You’ve been transported into a part of her world that becomes yours.

TKW reminds you of your grandmother’s spaghetti sauce.

The one you craved and salivated over. You beg your grandmother for the recipe and your mother callously remarks, “It’s just a can of tomato sauce and paste. She doesn’t even season it.” You witness the hurt in your grandmother’s eyes but then see her bristle. She quickly retorts,  “Yes, but it’s the brand of tomato paste that makes it so good” and she turns to grab a can from the cupboard. You learn how to deal with your mother’s cutting remarks. You witness a quick recovery from hurt to confidence. You see, firsthand, how to brush aside a cruel remark and gain firm footing again. But alas, no matter how many cans of tomato sauce and Contadina tomato paste you open, you’re never able to duplicate her sauce. But no matter. The lesson is already learned.

TKW takes you back to the middle school Home Ec room.

Sitting there in your tiny kitchen replica. Recipe in hand. Measuring ingredients, praying you don’t screw it up. Oatmeal, powdered chocolate, butter. Using a hot stove without someone hovering over you. Feeling so grown up. Cooking for the very time, on your own. No-Bake-Cookies. And then being sent into a fit of giggles when someone whispers their lesser known moniker, “cow pies.”

TKW shares her up-bringing, her food celebration memories.

And you’re transported back to your other grandmother’s house. Remembering Easter weekends with egg hunts and ham. Mashed potato swimming pools with gravy spilling over the edge. You set up broccoli trees along the edge of your plate. Your grandmother smiles and encourages your imagination, asking what you think the sliced carrots dripping with butter and brown sugar represent. And still, years after she is gone, you crave her lemon meringue pie, banana pudding with crushed Nilla wafers, Golbki with her signature ingredient (tomato soup) for the sauce.

I am not an accomplished chef. I can not match TKW’s culinary expertise. I try. I copy her recipes. I recreate memories in my own kitchen.

But that’s not why I come here. I come here because every recipe has a story. And TKW can sure tell a story.

When she shares her story, I’m reminded of my own. And I realize how similar and different we are. I read the comments at the end of her posts and I find more people, just like me and unlike me – with more stories to share.

TKW brings us all a little bit closer together. Through food, through laughter and sometimes through tears. She encourages me to grow and learn and experience. To search inside myself for a stronger, more authentic self.

And I love her for it.


…sniffle, hairball hack…thank you, Jane. I love you, too. Actually, I love all of you who come here and read and support and offer a little bit of yourselves in your comments. You are diamonds among my rough.

Okay. Enough nice. I need to go run over a bunny with my SUV now.

For more Neighbor fun, please click over to Amy’s site–it’s a great time, and so many great writers hang out over there!

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Gibby March 4, 2011 at 7:49 am

“TKW reminds you of your grandmother’s spaghetti sauce.”

LOVE this phrase! So true. We love ya, TKW, and that’s why we keep coming back to eat and drink your words.


Winn March 4, 2011 at 7:55 am

And that’s why I come here.

Today… two of my favorite bloggers, together, united. Like a two-for-the-price-of-one… at no cost. In love with this.

You both have such a way with words… the stories, the emotions, there’s a reason I come back over and over.

Happy weekend, ladies!


writerwoman61 March 4, 2011 at 8:25 am

Nice post, Jane…I don’t miss middle school Home Ec.! I have missed your posts lately…



tori March 4, 2011 at 8:39 am

Haha! Cow pies! Thanks for the laugh this morning, Jane!


Wendi @ Bon Appetit Hon March 4, 2011 at 9:00 am

They Call Me Jane + The Kitchen Witch = Wonder Twins

Love ya ladies.


Jenna March 4, 2011 at 9:58 am

Hi Jane! You’re a great writer, and you’ve vocalized exactly why TKW’s blog-0-space is so darn special. I would have said the exact same thing . . . if I could write like you. =)


Leslie @ five to nine March 4, 2011 at 11:46 am

Hear hear, sweet Jane! Love your tribute to TKW, all nice and true and without a single dose of maudlin. And wouldn’t you know, today my memories are the stuff of dusty shelves?


BigLittleWolf March 4, 2011 at 11:58 am

What fun to read you here, Jane!

I never thought of the Kitchster as spaghetti sauce, but able to conjure a caustic memory of Home Ec? You betcha! (And dazzling with her recipes that make me salivate. No fair, no fair, no fair.)

And secretly, I know her to be a total sweetheart. But shhhhhh. It’s a secret. And I’m not telling. Are you?


Kelly March 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm

All of this is so true. No one can add taste, texture, and smell to a memory the way TKW does. It’s visceral.


Cathy March 4, 2011 at 12:12 pm

TKW does indeed stir up memories. Quite painful actually. Why do I come here again? Oh yes, she has the humor to help see through that pain. A delight all around. And I must confess, I don’t think I’ve made any of her recipes. Shame on me, but the stories I wouldn’t miss for the world.


Amy @ Never-True Tales March 4, 2011 at 12:19 pm

What a great tribute to the Kitch! And you hit the nail on the head: we don’t come here for the recipes…sorry Kitch…we come here for the stories that weave THROUGH the recipes. The recipes themselves are the icing on the cake. (PS Please post a recipe for icing and cake.)


Biz March 4, 2011 at 1:27 pm

That’s why I keep coming back here too Jane – one of my favorite stories she told (and I’ll never remember it right) was about a girl who was confident in the red coat – the whole time I was reading it I thought she was describing herself, but in the end was describing her sister –

I am sure I didn’t get that right KW, but you know what I mean!

That’s what cooking and food is all about – the memories you make with them!

Great guest post! :D


Belinda March 4, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Aww. That last paragraph made me nod and smile. A fitting tribute to the culinary and literary wizardry of teh Kitchen Withc we all love so much! Beautiful!


Paula (Salad in a Jar) March 6, 2011 at 6:46 am

“Powdered chocolate?” I will never think about cocoa in the the same way again.

Kitch, I think I can identify with Jane. Sometimes you and I seem like opposites and yet…I cannot stop reading your stories. You bring so much passion and detail to your memories. Encourages me to try a little harder to do the same.

On that note, I must tell you I have an aunt who just died this week 30 days prior to her 103rd birthday. A couple years ago, I asked her what she did all day since her sight was rather poor and she mostly sat in a chair. She said she relived all her memories. In her words, “Remember that while you can still make them.” Telling you this has made me tear up about her for the first time–I can’t believe it. She was a very special aunt with a great sense of humor. Pass the Kleenex and thanks for listening. :-)


Dawn King March 6, 2011 at 7:00 am

Thought provoking advice from your aunt. Important to recognize. I’m sorry that she’s gone. But thanks for sharing that piece of her.


TKW March 7, 2011 at 8:51 am


I’m so sorry for the loss of your aunt–she sounds incredibly courageous and wise. And now pass me that Kleenex back, because I’m goopy-eyed.


Dawn King March 6, 2011 at 7:00 am

I love reading Jane…wherever she writes!


Heather March 6, 2011 at 9:05 am

I love this!! TKW you do always take me back. Sometimes to the crowded living room of my great grandmother’s house during Thanksgiving dinner. The smells of her kitchen, the taste of her sweet potatoes. And, of course, being tricked by that lovely word pie after missing the word mincemeat in front of it… I think I started hating my great grandmother a little bit that day!!!
Thanks Jane for reminding us of how beautiful TKW is :) Love ya Kitch!!


Naptimewriting March 6, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Aw, stop yer faking. You have a lil ol softie inside you and that’s why you love Jane. She makes you remember how people are good. How amazingly loving humans fight like tigers for what’s important to their families, their ‘hoods, and their world. You love Jane because she takes time from seven hundred kinds of busy to come over here and love all over your special combination of memories and food. As well you should be loved all over.
Now. stop faking a bunny murder and go back to loving the crumbs of memories and food that make you who you are…a delight to all who read. Including sweetness incarnate, TheyCallMeJane.


TKW March 7, 2011 at 8:52 am

Dammit, Nap. You’ve nailed me. And Jane.


Contemporary Troubadour March 6, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Methinks, Kitch, that I detect a blush behind all that hacking and bunnycide. The tribute is well deserved :)

Way to sing it, Jane!


Dana March 7, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Well written, Jane!


ck March 8, 2011 at 4:39 am

“But alas, no matter how many cans of tomato sauce and Contadina tomato paste you open, you’re never able to duplicate her sauce.”

So true…on one hand it’s sad what we pick up in order to defend ourselves from our families, but on the other hand, it’s nice to be able to take Grandma’s tomato base and create a kick-ass sauce from it. Whicht is, no lie, the ONLY good thing I learned from my grandmother. Are we somehow from the same family line, Jane?


Jane March 8, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I can’t tell you all how much fun it was to guest post here at TKW’s pad. And even better? Coming here, after a long weekend to find that so many of you feel the same about our dear and yes, oh-so-sweet TKW. Thanks for reading. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for the love – all around!


faemom March 8, 2011 at 11:51 pm

I heart you both! I’m so glad you both blog and that I get to read your blogs!


Velva March 9, 2011 at 1:12 pm

TKW definitely has a way of bringing distant memories to the forefront. You and TKW have the “gift of gab” and I am grateful to the both of you.



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