Friday Things


1. Someone’s ear hematoma has returned. Major sad face. We’re currently treating it with cold compresses and giving it time to re-absorb on its own. It doesn’t seem to bother Einstein at all, but I’m making sure to give him extra snuggles; can’t hurt!

2. I saw someone Tweet this week that the girls of The Baby-Sitters Club would be 38-40 years old today. Whoa! I hadn’t thought about those books in probably decades… what a blast from the past. I devoured those books, absolutely loved them.

3. Last Saturday, I accidentally got myself sucked into a Dateline Saturday Night Mystery show. I’ve always been fascinated by murder mystery shows like that and I could not turn it off. Newlyweds, a bathtub, no motive… I had to find out how it ended!

4. Important question: is having an old-school pencil sharpener affixed to your house somewhere totally only a Pittsburgh thing, or is this done everywhere? My grandparents had a pencil sharpener attached to the wall going down to their basement. After my grandma passed away and my mom was in the process of selling the house, she went in and took it out and now it’s attached to my husband’s work bench in our garage.

I didn’t think anything of it until Pittsburgh Dad (a popular YouTube sensation here in Pittsburgh) tweeted a picture of a similar pencil sharpener last night and started re-tweeting pictures of followers who have similar old pencil sharpeners in their house somewhere. I totally thought this was only a “my family” thing (although, my husband’s family also has one), but maybe not!

5. I’m totally bummed that the season finale of The Americans was this week! It’s one of my favorite shows and now I have to wait for what seems like for-ev-er for it to come back. Summer TV is the pits! On the plus side, how good was that finale?! I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for the next season already!

6. Does anyone else play Mexican train dominoes? My grandparents taught us how to play a couple Christmases ago, and now we’re all hooked! We brought a set to the beach with us and played in the evening, and we try to get all of our parents over to our house regularly to play big games. It totally brings out my competitive streak 😉

7. I’m craving a massive cinnamon roll slathered in cream cheese icing. Perhaps a project for this weekend?

8. Are there any good mangoes where you live? They have appeared by the crateful at my grocery store, and on sale to boot, but they are just not any good. Most of them don’t look that great, and the couple that I’ve bought have had to be pitched once I cut into them 🙁  I’m dying for a sweet, juicy mango!

9. Do you have any exciting plans for the long holiday weekend? Not too much here, except maybe some grilling, flower-buying, and fire pit s’mores eating!

10. TGIF! Have a fun and safe weekend! (Duke and Einstein will be doing their usual laying around… naturally.)

Brotherly love


71 Responses to “Friday Things”

  1. Debra on May 23, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Mexican train dominoes are totally a beach thing for us!! Phase 10 & the game 31 are also favorites at the beach.


  2. Sally T. on May 23, 2014 at 1:01 am

    Poor Einstein~:-( hope that he gets better <3 to him


  3. ami@naivecookcooks on May 23, 2014 at 1:04 am

    You have the cutest dogs ever!


  4. Clare G on May 23, 2014 at 2:05 am

    I have to get out of Vegas, it’s going to be too crowded this weekend so I’m headed to Zion National Park for some camping and smores! Poor Einstein!


  5. Charlene Y on May 23, 2014 at 5:52 am

    I live in the house I grew up in and the same pencil sharpener is attached to the wall in our basement. In fact there is also a rotary dial phone attached to the wall. Not sure if this is an Italian thing our not but we even had a full kitchen in the basement and a match box holder on the wall next to the stove. Hope puppy is better soon. Hate when my fur babies dont feel good.


    • Sally on May 23rd, 2014 at 7:56 am

      It’s not an Italian thing to have a kitchen in the basement. My in-laws (German) had one. Useful not only for large meals, but also for canning in the summer. It’s cooler there.


  6. Elizabeth Quinn on May 23, 2014 at 6:09 am

    Love the dogs!! Have you considered having them drain and essentially scar down his ears? I had to do that with my GSD and so have many friends in dog world. Keeps them from recurring. Have a happy holiday weekend.


    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2014 at 10:32 am

      Hi Elizabeth, That’s our last resort, as we’re trying to avoid an additional procedure since he does not appear to be in pain or really bothered at all by it. If the ear re-absorbs the hematoma it will form scar tissue and won’t be able to recur. Fingers crossed that it works!


  7. Michele on May 23, 2014 at 6:15 am

    That is so funny that you say about an old school house pencil sharpener. We are from Altoona, Pennsylvania and now live in Florida. We have one attached to my husband’s work bench in the garage, that came with us from Pennsylvania. Love your posts. Have a great weekend.


  8. Lisa on May 23, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Ha! We have an old school pencil sharpener fixed to the wall at the bottom of the basement steps (we live in NY). The original owners put it there when they built the house some time back in the early 1960’s…funny, they were from PA! Love the pups, hope Einstein heals quickly!!


  9. nancy on May 23, 2014 at 6:40 am

    I live on Long Island and we had a pencil sharpener attached to the wall in our basement in the house we grew up in. I don’t think it’s a Pitts thing!


  10. Penny Wolf on May 23, 2014 at 6:41 am

    Pencil sharpener attached to the wall…yes. I thought it was because
    it’s practical.


  11. Kim on May 23, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Our family plays Mexican Train whenever we get together. So fun!!


  12. Susan on May 23, 2014 at 6:45 am

    I always read you but rarely comment. I do have to add that I have started buying the yellow, kidney-like shaped mangoes here in Florida. I believe they come out of Mexico, but they taste SOOOOOO much better even though they are smaller. Hope that sweet pupper gets his ear cured.


    • SusieQ on May 24th, 2014 at 8:00 am

      I too live in Florida and buy those mangos by the case. I agree with you 100%. I look forward to them every season as my daughter and I are mangoaholics.


  13. Carolyn on May 23, 2014 at 6:54 am

    You just made another Pittsburgh girl smile! Hadn’t thought about the pencil sharpener mounted at the top of our basement steps for years! Although my old school Nonno used a knife to sharp his pencils when he wrote letters home to Italy on that tissue paper airmail stationary he had to use. The basement kitchen is such an Italian thing. When I was a kid in the late 196o’s / early 1970’s, I saw so many interesting things happen in the one my Grandparents had from making homemade root beer to a midnight escapade of slaughtering crates of chickens that my uncle said “fell off a truck”. It was many years before I figured out what that meant. I have a brother who lives in a mansion in Fox Chapel and guess what he just installed? A basement kitchen as a shout-out to out heritage. So much fun to hang out down there. Thanks for making me start off my Friday with such happy memories.


  14. Emilia on May 23, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Well, I’m from NY and there’s a wall mounted pencil sharpener right outside the basement kitchen (which I do think it’s an Italian thing! I once had to explain to a real estate attorney friend that it was for cooking in the summer, not for an illegal apartment like he thought) in the house my family built so long ago.
    Hope Einstein gets better soon! He’s too cute for a cone of shame!


  15. Diane on May 23, 2014 at 7:41 am

    I am a Realtor here in Pittsburgh and I see many basement pencil sharpeners. Don’t forget “the Pittsburgh potty”! Love your recipes and posts! Hope your sweet pup feels better soon!


  16. Anne Wright on May 23, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Hugs and kisses to Einstein! So sorry he is not feeling well. Hope he gets all well soon! Happy Memorial Day weekend! Thanks to all who have served for our country in the past and those in the present who are doing a great job!


  17. Pam on May 23, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I’ve been making dog food for about 25 years, and I’ve found that my dogs are healthier and live longer than dogs that eat conventional store-bought food. Recipes can be as simple as throwing together organic vegetables and “clean” cooked meat from health store/Whole Foods with a little distilled water. Or you can find more extensive recipes that include vitamins, oil, eggs, etc. (see Dr. Pitcairn’s book). My dogs no longer have chronic or recurring medical problems, and vet bills are minimal.


  18. SusieQ on May 23, 2014 at 8:11 am

    1. We LOOOOVE Mexican Train, so much fun!!!
    2. Now I want to make some of The Pioneer Woman’s sweet rolls. Thanks. 🙂
    3. I have had several delicious crates of champagne mangos from Sam’s Club. I live in Florida. Don’t know if that has anything to do with why they have so delish, but yum.
    4. Going to Memorial Island for a wonderful honoring of our Military, then the pool, and a cookout.



  19. Tonya on May 23, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I have an unending love for cinnamon rolls! Although I have several favorite recipes, I just ran across this one on Design Sponge. The picture got me!
    Let me know if you make them & what you think! I haven’t tried them yet…have a great holiday weekend.


  20. Sally on May 23, 2014 at 8:23 am

    I’ve lived in IN all my life with no connection to PA (or Italians) until adulthood. I remember basement kitchens,. I also remember pencil sharpeners, match boxes and bottle openers attached to the walls in the basement or the stairwell.


  21. Janelle on May 23, 2014 at 8:24 am

    My family LOVES Mexican train, but my friends all roll their eyes when I suggest playing dominoes! So many good memories of it from home–my grandpa always called it Japanese plane crash or Italian motorcycle accident or something ridiculous, and my sister cheats like nobody’s business. Great game!


  22. Kathiey on May 23, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Your puppies are adorable:-)


  23. Elsa Francescone on May 23, 2014 at 8:33 am

    I’m living in Thailand for a year and it is, indeed, mango season!!! Before coming, I had no idea how many types of mangoes exist. Thais like green mangoes that are still crisp. They dip them in a hot chili paste (they dip a lot of things in hot chili paste!) I see a lot of the golden yellow mangoes at fruit stands right now; they’re the ones used for mango with sticky rice (pour a little sweetened coconut milk over your mango and you’ll have a whole new appreciation). This is a link about Thai mangoes:

    Another thing I learned the hard way…. Mango skin has the same toxins as poison ivy/oak. Make sure your mango has been washed before you go peeling it and wiping your hand across your sweat laden face!!!!


  24. Michelle on May 23, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Growing up in Pittsburgh, my grandparents had the pencil sharpener attached to their basement steps too. I wasn’t too fond of going down there because of all the spider and cobwebs. (They had a partial dirt floor in their basement which was where their car was parked). So I would sit on the steps and sharpen my pencils from there. Now we have a pencil sharpener attached to a wall in our basement, and the garage side of it too! – it came with the house ;). They did not have a full kitchen, but they did have a full bathroom in their basement. We love to play Mexican Train. In fact, that was our New Year’s Eve game this year. I think we played until 2 in the morning and had so much fun!


  25. Monica on May 23, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Have a great holiday weekend! Yes our family plays Mexican train as well and all bets are off and the real claws come out! And I too have a pencil sharpener in my laundry room!


  26. Phyllis on May 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Ok…. who is Elizabeth’s father? I love James Spader, but why does he always have his head cranked to one side? Great show!!! Even better than Black List.


  27. Nancy on May 23, 2014 at 9:24 am

    Boy this brought back a lot of memories, also in the stairs going down to the “cellar” we had a flat board with a blade in it hanging right next to the pencil sharpener. It was used to cut cabbage when my dad made sauer kraut. I still have the sharpener, plus one still in the box, that my husband bought because it was adjustable for different size pencils. I wish I still had the crock and the big white “lucky stone” used to keep the kraut submerged.


  28. Sharon on May 23, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Mangoes… Not in season yet. I have a lot on my two trees… After the birds and squirrels get their share, I should still have a few dozen…yum. My mom’s trees (very old, very big trees) has hundreds of mangoes! Maybe you have mango recipes to share? We will need them! 🙂


  29. Janice on May 23, 2014 at 9:32 am

    I just love your puppies!!! You capture their expressions so beautifully! Could just love ’em up!!!


  30. Sue on May 23, 2014 at 9:47 am

    OMG – The Americans finale was AMAZING!! And I’m SO sad it’s over. How are we gonna make it until it comes back for the next season??
    In the meantime, I am planning to stuff my face with cinnamon rolls this Memorial Day weekend as well. Not too long ago, I stumbled across this recipe on Pintrest and it has been my GO TO ever since. I had made homemade cinnamon rolls many times before, but never with the success I’ve had with this recipe. You should DEFINITELY give it a try! I’m certain you won’t be disappointed!


  31. Marla in AZ on May 23, 2014 at 9:59 am

    I’m originally from South Dakota of Dutch heritage – we had the wall attached pencil sharpener and matchbox and an auxillary kitchen in the basement. Today, I still have a the pencil sharpener, the matchbox and TWO bottle openers on the walls (because one should not have to walk too far to open that beer). If I had a basement, I would totally have an extra kitchen!


  32. Jean Tallman on May 23, 2014 at 10:09 am

    I have a WHOLE TREE of sweet juicy mangoes and I would be glad to fedex a couple to you if you send me a fedex number.


  33. Deb on May 23, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Okay, I am really intrigued. What is Mexican Dominoes AND how do you play it?


  34. Ann Bayfield on May 23, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Our family loves to play Mexican train. We started playing when our kids were little and now that they’re adults its a game we still play when we get together. The only difference is now we’re much more competitive and its the only time we all swear! I grew up in a house in British Columbia that had a pencil sharpener in a closet for cleaning supplies, brooms, the floor polisher and our Filter Queen vacuum cleaner. Thanks for the memories. I miss my old house.


  35. martha majik on May 23, 2014 at 10:37 am

    great friday things…especially about the old school pencil sharpeners. brings back memories.


  36. Laurie Exler on May 23, 2014 at 10:46 am

    We always play Mexican Train Dominoes and my Mother-In-Law bought us our own set about 4 years ago, love it! Definitely brings out the competitive edge, esp when we play for money!


  37. Tasha on May 23, 2014 at 11:18 am

    We have a pencil sharpener in our garage and we live in Colorado.


  38. Ashley Parent on May 23, 2014 at 11:24 am

    My husband and I just bought a house in the Boston area and there is a pencil sharpener on the stairs going to the basement! The house was built in 1965 so maybe it’s a time period thing?


  39. Crystal on May 23, 2014 at 11:37 am

    We live in Somerset County, and we’ve always had a pencil sharpener somewhere on the wall in our house – never even gave it a thought though.


  40. LC on May 23, 2014 at 11:41 am

    When my corgi had an ear hematoma, I mixed up some warm salt water with a few drops of tee tree essential oil, soaked a cloth in it, and held it tightly around the lump for a while. She didn’t mind, and it really seemed to help!


  41. Rosbud on May 23, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I’m Rosebud and I’m a very pretty, very gentle sheepdog and I love to see pics of your two buddies doing just what I love to do–lay around. My step-brother, Wizard, and I do lots of it.
    I’m so sorry about Einstein’s ear. My long-time-ago sister, Daisy, had a similar thing happen to her ear and it looked like a “baseball mitt”. It puffed way up and the doc had to drain it. But the cutest thing happened first. The doc made tiny little braids of the hair all around where the needle would go in because she didn’t want to shave her ear. Daisy came out all cute with little braids covering her ear. She was a star and we loved the vet for not shaving her ear.
    I hope Einstein’s ear finally cures, poor fellow. I know I’d love Einstein. And I bet’cha that Wizard would love Duke because Wizard is a wild and crazy guy; he’s very, very playful.
    Please keep posting photos of those two handsome dudes. I love them!


  42. Linda on May 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    Such beautiful doggies!! Ok, 2 things.. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and we always had a pencil sharpener attached to the wall going down to the basement! I hadn’t thought about that in years. My parents have both passed away and I never thought to take that pencil sharpener when we sold their house ~ darn. Also, you should watch “Master Chef” if you don’t already. Summer t.v. is kind of a bummer, but my husband, kids, and I love watching “M.C.” Give it a try if you haven’t already! It starts next Monday on Fox. Happy Memorial Day weekend!


  43. Tracy | Pale Yellow on May 23, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I think the pencil sharpener is a total grandparent thing! My grandparents (who live outside Detroit, although probably typical of a Pittsburgh population) have a pencil sharpener attached to their basement workbench. Also, love the fun fact about the Babysitter’s Club, I can’t believe how old the ladies are now!


  44. Kelly on May 23, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Love reading your Friday Things! Also, I ALWAYS crave a cinnamon roll slathered with icing! Wish I had one right now!


  45. Rachel M. on May 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Should I tell you that I had the most delicious juicy mango from my supermarket the other day (on sale for $1, no less), and I have two more sitting on my counter. Haha.
    Maybe we could start an exchange program of sorts? Mangoes for cuddly time with Duke and Einstein? They are so adorable!


  46. marguerite on May 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Not sure what part of town you’re in, but I had a couple of awesome mangoes from either Giant Eagle Southside or Trader Joe’s… can’t remember which one.


  47. Jill T. on May 23, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    So sorry to hear about Einstein’s ear 🙁 My Bella still has her small one, and although it’s better than it was, it is not completely gone. This has been just over a month or so now. I’m sure her allergies don’t help, as she itches, scratches, and shakes her ears a lot! I’m keeping close watch on it, & hope it doesn’t get worse again. Dogs can get the darnest things, can’t they!? Enjoy your weekend!


  48. Susan on May 23, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    We have an old pencil sharpener, fastened to the wall, in our basement laundry room 🙂 I see that you have a Duke. Our new dog, named
    Duke, is coming to live with us next week – puppy happiness!


    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      Aw, enjoy your new puppy!


  49. Dawn on May 23, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Looking at the last photo of Duke and Einstein, I think you might want to consider getting a cat or two as well – they’re great at providing massages to their canine friends – think how relaxed they would both be. 😉 Just saw this video compilation today. So cute.


  50. Elizabeth Tucker on May 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    I live in Virginia – a child of the 50’s. My family had a pencil sharpener in the basement. When my husband and I moved into our house in the late 80’s, we put an old fashioned pencil sharpener in the laundry room. I still use it today. We play Mexican train dominoes at the beach. I discovered your blog because of the wonderful recipes you post, but I continue to read it because of your Golden’s. They are beautiful!! We lost our 1st Golden a few years ago and now have a second rescue Golden (now 8 years old – 4 years when she joined our family). She has a rescue Border Collie mix younger brother. Soooo sorry to read about Einstein’s hematoma. Hope it will re-absorbs quickly. Enjoy your weekend with your Golden’s!


  51. Lorrie on May 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm

    I too live in PA and my Dad has one of those pencil sharpeners in his garage by his work bench for as long as I can remember. Wishing your pup all the best with his ear. I am fairly new to your site and just wanted to say I am a big fan!


    • Michelle on May 23rd, 2014 at 7:20 pm

      Hi Lorrie, Welcome! So happy you’re here 🙂


  52. Mary Jane on May 23, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    My husband has a pencil sharpener in our garage attached to his workbench. It has traveled from Ambridge to Imperial to Hopewell Twp. over 60 years. (All in Pa.) I also remember my parents having a “church key” (bottle opener) hanging on a heavy string by the fridge. Very convenient for opening up pop bottles for kids, and beer bottles for adults! We had dominoes as kids but I never played it until about 10 years ago. Now we can’t get enough of Mexican train, even sometimes playing with friends till 3am! As for “The Americans”, what a show! Sometimes I feel confused about who I should be rooting for! The Russians or the Americans?! I was stunned at the end when Elizabeth actually thought that her daughter might make a good candidate for the illegals program. Can’t wait till next year. Happy Memorial Day!


  53. SJP on May 23, 2014 at 8:49 pm

    My parents still have an old school pencil sharpener attached to the wall in my dad’s work room! I still use it now and then. And Mexican Train is a must play for us at Xmas.
    Love your posts and look forward each week to seeing another picture of those adorable dogs.


  54. Maria on May 23, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    I begged for the pencil sharpener when I was in elementary school (MA) I hated those little ones that you got in your pencil cases. Ours was nailed to my dad’s work bench in the garage and it was a yellow smiley face. I still pick manual sharpeners over electric. Love the pup pictures on Fridays.


  55. Robin O. on May 23, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Ha! My husband always watches Saturday Dateline which I have nicknamed “how to murder your wife saturdays”, followed by “nazi sunday” (nazi history shows on the military channel all sunday afternoon). Always have to ask him if I should be worried? hahaha!


  56. Janet on May 24, 2014 at 6:26 am

    We are totally bummed that Call The Midwife just ended their season. We love that show and I mean LOVE!

    Mexican Train Dominoes totally rock, so fun!

    I bought mangoes at Sam’s Club this week. So worth the price as I do not like trying to cut them. I do not get much out of them. Took a chance on how good they are. They will be part of my breakfast today 🙂 We shall see. Fingers crossed.


  57. Caroline on May 24, 2014 at 6:36 am

    I don’t know if they sell them in the states (I live in europe). The absolute best mangos are the ones from Pakistan. Seriously! So amazing sweet juicy delicious. I buy them at Asian markets & can usually pick up a box full for about $10.00. Here’s a link that shows what they look like.


  58. Monica on May 24, 2014 at 7:05 am

    We had a pencil sharpener attached to my husband’s work bench too….we lived in MD. Took it with us to DE when we moved. They are sooo handy….especially when you have kids that do all their homework in pencil!!!!


  59. Karen Lewis on May 24, 2014 at 11:28 am

    In that last picture of the pups, Duke looks sad for Einstein. (Sniffling here).
    Oh how funny about the pencil sharpener. Our neighbor had one in his garage and I mentioned to him that it reminded me of my childhood and he ended up giving it to me. He has now since past so now I have to smile every time I use it for two reasons now. I use it all the time since my electric one has decided only to work when it wants to .
    I love The Americans too. Do you think they will somehow indoctrinate Paige into the ring without her realizing that it is being done? Maybe the Pastor and his wife were recruited by the center and are working secretly to influence kids. There are all kinds of ways this could go.
    I can’t wait for your Friday Things posts – you are addictive like those shows.
    I sure hope Einstein feels better soon. Give him and Duke lots of hugs from me too.


  60. Linda @ Veganosity on May 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    First, I found some amazing mangos at our local Costco. I used them in everything. Coconut Mango Rice, chutney, and in salads. You could also find me standing over my kitchen counter shoving the sweet fruit into my mouth in the morning.

    Second, I LOVE the Americans. My hubby and i have yet to watch the finale. We’re waiting for a quite night, which are few an far between since our college kids are back for the summer.


  61. Sheena B on May 25, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    When dearly beloved’s Dad was retiring and clearing out his workshop (he was in construction), I HAD to have the drafting table and old school pencil sharpener. The pencil sharpener is in my craft room and the drafting table is in storage in our basement (aka dearly beloved’s workshop). Oh – and I’m in Ottawa, Canada!


  62. Carolyn on May 26, 2014 at 10:45 am

    We just noticed that my grandfather has an old-school pencil sharpener attached to his workbench in the basement! We’re in Western Mass, so maybe it’s a generational thing? My great-uncle delivered school supplies for the city, so I’m guessing he probably hooked my grandfather up. 🙂


  63. Linda on May 27, 2014 at 12:03 am

    I bought one of the pencil sharpeners for my kids and put it in the garage.

    Not sure about Mexican Train but have played something my husband brought home years ago. I loved 42 but have not played in a long time.


  64. Jeanne on May 27, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Loved your note about the pencil sharpener – both sets of grandparents had them at their houses and when my one grandmother died I made sure to take the pencil sharpener. I am from NY, so def not a regional thing. I guess it was pretty practical back in the day – love it!!!!


  65. Robin Christensen on May 27, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I’m late with this, but we had a pencil sharpener growing up attached in our room! And my grandfather had one in his basement – he was LITERALLY, a Jack of all trades – and I’m sure he needed it to sharpen his pencil for whatever he was doing next!
    I’m so sorry about Einstein’s ear – hopefully it will reabsorb. My black lab/Aussie Shepard mix had to have them sewed down after the drains were removed. But that FINALLY did the trick. Man, did she suffer, though – and her sweet little soft ears were all knotty inside. Praying for your boy!


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