Monday, May 19, 2008

Re-gifting 101: Make It Better

Yesterday was Ms. Myrtle's birthday.

On Thursday night, we had them over for hamburgers, turkeyburgers, the three leftover chicken/apple/gouda sausages, and the piece-de-resistance, MY MOM'S HOMEMADE FRENCH FRIES. It was Mom and Dad's last night here, and we hadn't yet had her french fries. If we can't have my Mama's chicken and noodles, or her corn-on-the-cob, we simply must have her french fries.

Mom missed most of the meal because she was making them for us. She had to catch up during coffee and after the girls all left the table, which was good because there wasn't anywhere left to sit anyway. That's one of the fun things about our table -- we always have tons of people at it and we squeeze in and it makes the meal even more fun.

Myrtle wanted something to do, so I had her make the salad. And she cut every vegetable up into tiny bits so we could easily eat it, and so could the (guinea) pigs.

I made the pineapple upside-down cake. With chunk pineapple because some kid has been in my pantry eating the pineapple rings I bought especially for the next time I wanted to make my Grandma Filson's famous pineapple upside-down cake.

I also used cake mix, a serious no-no, but I used an entire stick of butter so that made it ok. It even made up for the lack of marischino cherries I neither had nor used. However, I think Thelma Filson would have approved.

We put candles on the cake and sang happy birthday to Ms. Myrtle. We have a tradition around here: we put every candle we have on the cake. So you might only be 84, (not that I'm telling her age or anything, I would never do that), but you get every numeral candle we have. So she was 15,683 and change. Or something like that, because we also filled the cake with all the little tiny birthday candles too. And by the time we were ready to eat it, they were all falling down and we had to stand them all back up again.

It was a huge success. She loved it. She asked, "Where are my presents?" She was mocking us. She does that. She is the youngest of 14 children, and has always been extraordinarily ornery.

Oh dear.

Now I am one of those people who thankfully does not have all the money in the world. If I did, my kids would be horrible people who would easily rival those rich people on tv who have shows about them and their selfishness -- because I like to buy people things. Or make them things. My greatest joy is when I see the face of someone who wanted just that perfect thing, and I bought it for them, and they are beside themselves with happiness.

Because I am this way, I am usually critical of the gifts I receive. I tend to gush at the first and then grouse later about how they could have at least put some thought into the gift and consider the person to whom they were giving it.

So anyway. I participated recently in an apron swap and honestly, was greatly disappointed by the apron I received. I loved the one I sent; I did not love the one I received. I had put in my comments that my kitchen was all beachy and colors of blue and green. The apron I received was black and white and red, and quite honestly, I looked like this in it:

I know. Seriously.

So I put it away. I wrote later about it that I appreciated it so much because it was the swapper's first attempt at sewing. Honestly, the sewing was pretty good. It had a pocket that was virtually useless, though.

So back to Myrtle's birthday.

Her kitchen is black and white and a touch of red. It is so cute and reminds me of a diner. I knew her birthday wasn't actually until Sunday, May 18, so I decided to get that apron out and do some fixing up.

I took the whole thing apart. I added big, useful pockets on both sides (it is reversible). I added a nice little ruffle along the bottom. I added a line of white rickrack. I was very pleased, because now it was a proper apron ready for use in Myrtle's kitchen:

Much, much better.

I haven't heard from her, but I'm sure I'll get a little note in the mail saying how much she loves it. Even if she doesn't -- because she's one of those proper southern ladies. And I will rejoice knowing that I made her a nice birthday gift that's appropriate and fitting for her cute kitchen.

Happy Birthday, Ms. Myrtle. I love you bunches!