About loriwhitwam

Lori spent her early years reading books in a tree in northern West Virginia. The 1980s and 90s found her and her husband moving around the Midwest, mainly because it was easier to move than clean the apartment. After seventeen frigid years in Minnesota, she fled to coastal North Carolina in 2013. She will never leave, and if you try to make her, she will hurt you.

Nostalgia Tastes Like Pizza

Tom and I were born, raised, met, married, and had our son in Marshall County, West Virginia, in the northern panhandle of the state, the “upper Ohio Valley,” though we haven’t lived there since 1984.

For those who grew up in the area, one thing is deeply ingrained in our culinary culture.  DiCarlo’s Pizza. This small local chain was a staple of date nights, before or after sporting events and dances, weekend parties, or anywhere hungry people happened to be.

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It’s hard to explain to non-natives. It’s simple, plain, and doesn’t appear to be anything special. If you feed it to a friend, they’re likely to reply, “Yeah, it’s okay. Um…it’s pizza.” They just don’t understand why we rhapsodize over this no-frills delight.

Though the hometown restaurants and the franchise locations now starting to pop up outside the Valley have seating and various menu options, I’m not kidding when I say the DiCarlo’s of the 1970s and 80s was no-frills. The building in Glen Dale, the location we frequented, looked like this. This photo is a different location (couldn’t find the original Glen Dale building…it’s since moved to a slightly larger brick building next door to the old location), but this is what it looked like.

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Cement block and metal siding, narrow customer counter across the whole width, no seating, most of the work space taken up with the wall ovens and tables for cutting the huge trays of pizza into squares. On a Saturday night, the front of the store was packed solid with people waiting for the next tray to come out of the oven.

And forget having a wide variety of toppings from which to choose. Aside from sauce and cheese, there were a total of two options. Pepperoni…or no pepperoni. Easy-peasy. Back in the day, it was 35 cents a slice, meaning a guy and his date could easily fill up for under $4, which was critical, because you definitely didn’t want to cut into your beer budget too much.

Now, this is the part where we lose most outsiders. This pizza is made “Ohio Valley style.” The crust and sauce are baked–without the cheese on it. When the piping hot trays come out of the oven, they’re placed on the work table and the cheese is scattered over the whole thing, and pepperoni added after. Your chosen number of slices are put in the cardboard boxes, and by the time you get to your car or home or other designated pizza-eating location, the cheese has mostly melted and the pepperoni is warm.

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That is DiCarlo’s.

So, why is this delicious nostalgia on my mind today? Well, a franchise recently opened in Myrtle Beach, by an Ohio Valley ex-pat, and Tom was down that way visiting family on Friday, and he brought home two trays.

Let me be clear. He brought home the baked crust and sauce slices, and separate bags containing the signature cheese blend and pepperoni. Any other way would be blasphemy. Whenever his parents come to visit, they almost always bring us a tray or two in a cooler, but since this new location is not too far from his brother’s house, whenever he goes to see them, he can detour and get it for us himself.

Yesterday we had pizza, beer, and era-appropriate movie day. At first, I couldn’t figure out why he kept telling me “not yet” whenever I went to put the pizza in the oven, but it turned out it was because he bought beer, and didn’t want to start beer-fest too early in the afternoon.

He posted this picture, saying we were being 17 again. Yes, at 17 in West Virginia in the early 1980s, beer was most definitely part of the picture. I make no apologies. 😉

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So, I made the pizza, and it was perfect. We had beer. I forgot how much work it is to drink beer, being more a mixed-drink-with-kick person. You have to drink…a lot of it. And this results in frequent bathroom visits, which makes me think how much time I must have spent peeing in the bushes in my youth.

We started the movie portion of the day with The Jerk. Then, in honor of the royal wedding, moved on to King Ralph, and wrapped up with Shaun of the Dead, which isn’t exactly the right era, but neither was King Ralph, and it’s too funny not to watch when you have beer.

It was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday. Though if we wanted to be 100% authentic, we should’ve probably headed out and had the beer and pizza parked on a dirt road somewhere.

Do you have a hometown food that makes you feel like a kid again every time you have it?

WIP Weekend

I know it’s Mother’s Day weekend here in the U.S., but that’s never been a “holiday” to me, despite Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, being an ancestral cousin. My mom passed away on May 14, 1984, the day after Mother’s Day…which happened to be my first. My son was only seven weeks old. We spent that day, her last Mother’s Day, apart, as she was in the hospital over an hour away awaiting surgery she did not survive.

Okay, enough of the sad memories. That’s why the “holiday” is low-key here. I don’t care if The Boy remembers it or not. Tom brought shrimp and scallops from the local seafood market, and that will be dinner tomorrow. Easy-peasy, and I adore fresh scallops.

This week, I finished and blocked my first knitted shawl, and I’m pretty happy with it. It’s the On The Wings of a Prayer shawl, using Knit Picks Chroma in Drawing Room. It’s a bit warm for my climate, but I have a home picked out for it.

I’ve been working on a new shawl in sock-weight yarn, Dream Smooshy With Cashmere in Mermaid Shoes. I love this yarn so much! It’s soft and works up beautifully. I’m making this Holden shawl with a slightly larger needle to improve the drape and to make the lacy parts–when I get to them–lacier. I’m still on the body of the shawl, but I’m loving the yarn and the gorgeous colorway.

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Five-inch ruler for scale.

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Though I have two more balls of Dream Smooshy With Cashmere in different colorway, Burr, I couldn’t resist another yarn I saw on Facebook. I saw it several days ago, almost bought it, somehow resisted (this is unusual behavior for sure), but after a few days, I was still thinking about it, so I ordered two hanks (to be rolled into cakes for me) from The Wicked Knittah.

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It’s an 80/10/10 superwash merino/cashmere/nylon sock weight, and I love the colors. It’s called Cottage Shed, and it reminds me of the verdigris on a copper pot, or weathering on a tin roof of a rustic garden shed. Can’t wait to get it!

I finished a first round edit on the upcoming Mafia Prince by Bella J. yesterday–and you should totally check out book 1 in her Royal Mafia series, Mafia Princess–so I have time to hang with the Direwolves, watch Stitchers on Amazon (only one season left to go, boooo!) and knit.

If you “do” Mother’s Day, hope you have a great one! Wishing a very happy, peaceful, love-filled day to my big sister, Linda, who stepped in when we lost our mom and served as a surrogate mother and grandmother to me and the little one when we needed her most. Love you, Sister!

Neighbors Again

It’s going to be a long summer.

I’ve blogged a few times about the new neighbors in the small rental house across the street. As best I can tell, there seem to be parents and a couple of teen boys who actually live there, but since the menagerie of children changes hourly, I can’t be entirely sure. There are bigs and littles, girls and boys, elementary, middle school, toddlers…

And I’m not a kid person. I don’t hate them, exactly. The old saying is children should be seen and not heard, but I sort of prefer they be neither seen nor heard.

There’s the basketball hoop monopolizing the street, the ball spending more time in our yard due to the slope than on the actual “court,” and the piles of worn plastic toys. There is a hobby horse that looks alarmingly like one I had when I was a kid…and I was born in the 1960s. Pretty sure there’s some sort of consumer safety issue there.

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Now I’ve been treated to bald, shirtless, paunchy guy hanging out in the yard–the father, I’m assuming.

Then a four-person tent appeared in the front yard. Not the side yard, of which there is roughly a half acre, or the back yard. Right in front. Presumably to accommodate kid-overflow. I think the mother does daycare, but who the hell knows?

Now we have a new sight to behold. The other morning I heard an engine and thought, “Yay, they’re mowing their yard.” But it kept going. For a long time. I peeked through the blinds, and thought it was a strange way to mow, going all over the place. Oh, and up and down the street too.

Huh. It’s not a lawnmower at all. Not anymore. Now it is a former lawnmower with the mowing bits removed, serving as an ATV, and kids are driving it around. Which I’m fairly sure isn’t especially safe.

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The giant blue tent would be just out of frame to the right.

The only thing I’m clinging to at this point is they do not have a dog. Because if they had a dog tied in the yard or roaming at large, Steps Would Be Taken.

The summer may be long, but I’m hoping their lease is short.

One Off The Needles, New One On

I’ve been a terrible blogger, not posting in so long. In my defense, I had what was (for me) a very hectic, draining week, but I’ll try to do better.

For now, the news is I finally finished the On The Wings of a Prayer shawl, using Knit Picks Chroma superwash in “drawing room.”

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The colors are actually softer than in the photo. I needed a flash in the dim room where it’s blocking.

Next up is a lighter shawl, the Holden shawl by Mindy Wilkes, a paid pattern on Ravelry. I am using Dream In Color Smooshy With Cashmere, in “mermaid shoes,” which is so soft and beautiful I can hardly stand it. I’ll be making it in the medium size.

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Barely started, but every project starts somewhere. I had to learn to pick up and knit on vertical and cast-on edges for this one, but the rest will be similar to the stockingette sections of the last shawl, and the fan and feather edging will be like scarves I’ve done.

#GetPublished: Wattpad Authors Win a Publishing Contract

This event is THIS WEDNESDAY! Don’t miss out! This is going to be so fun, so if you or someone you know is a Wattpad author, be sure to check it out. Spread the word!

The Craving Chronicles

WATTPAD CONTEST LPWattpad authors, we want to publish your work!

Enter our contest for a chance to win a publishing contract with Limitless Publishing!

DATE:
Wednesday, May 2, 2018

TIME: 
12 PM EST – 6 PM EST

WHERE:
Twitter! Using the hashtag: #Pit2LPWattpad

Here are the contest guidelines:

~ Submit your pitch to us on TWITTER using the hashtag: #Pit2LPWattpadIf you do not use this hashtag, we will not be able to see your pitch.

~ In your tweet, also include the link to your Wattpad author profile and your book’s GENRE. Below you will find a list of genres. Please include the genre in your pitch using a #hashtag like done so below.
#YA = Young Adult
#NA = New Adult
#P = Paranormal
#PNR = Paranormal Romance
#WF = Woman’s Fiction
#E = Erotica or Erotic Romance
#CR = Contemporary Romance
#HF = Historical Fiction
#HR = Historical…

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#GetPublished Crave Publishing Accepting Short Story Submissions

Deadline is June 8, so don’t wait! I want to see your forbidden craving…

The Craving Chronicles

It's Back! (2)New anthology theme announcement: Craving Forbidden.

Crave Publishing, a division of Limitless Publishing, is accepting short stories for the contemporary romance anthology Craving: Forbidden. Completed stories should be 10,000 words (7,500 minimum, 12,000 maximum, with 10,000 as the ideal length).

Sometimes there’s the one person everyone thinks is totally wrong for you. The one with whom you have nothing in common, or the one your friends warn you is sure to lead straight to disaster. We are looking for stories featuring an unlikely or slightly scandalous couple. Maybe it’s a boss or professor, someone from the opposite side of the tracks, an ex you swore you’d never speak to again, or your best friend’s brother. No step-sibling or step-parent stories, please.

Interested authors should email with a short summary (not to exceed 250 words) of their story in the body of the email and attach the following in two…

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Shopping Splurge

Conversation this morning…

Tom: So, do you want to do something today?

Me: (purses lips and gives side-eye) When would have been the right time to ask this question?

Because as a dedicated hermit, if I am venturing into the Out, I like to know in advance. Surprise excursions do not make me happy. A better approach is to suggest something to me at least the day before. “Hey, I was thinking we should (go over to check out Washington) (take the dogs to Flanner’s Beach) (go do lunch on the waterside deck at Persimmons) tomorrow.” This usually works better on me.

But today, I had an agenda.

Me: Well, I was thinking I wouldn’t mind going to Swansboro.

Tom: (registers slight surprise that I suggested anything at all, much less something he didn’t mind doing) Okay.

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We’re in New Bern, NC, and the town’s only LYS (Local Yarn Shop) closed last year, before I discovered knitting. We have a Michael’s and now a Hobby Lobby, and I’ve bought a crap-ton of “big box store” yarn over the years. As a lifelong crocheter, those projects work up so fast and use more yarn, leading to more big projects like blankets and afghans, meaning really nice yarn with exotic fibers or hand-dyed yarn are cost-prohibitive. Knitting is slower (for me), more intricate, smaller projects, and a nice ball of yarn can last me a couple of weeks instead of half a day.

So off we went, heading for, naturally, The Salty Sheep Yarn Shop. Sad that the nearest LYS is nearly an hour away, but it’s a nice little coastal town and lots of great shops and restaurants along the water, so a great day trip.

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I really should’ve asked names, because the woman in the shop (I assume the owner) was super friendly and helpful. I looked at some of her WIPs, bought the stitch markers she recommended, and began looking at the displays of completed projects. I found a shawl I liked that appeared to be something I could do. She told me it’s the Holden Shawl on Ravelry. It’s a paid pattern, but I used my phone and bought it right away.

Which led to the yarn. So. Much. Beautiful. Yarn! I could literally spend a thousand dollars without breaking a sweat, but confined myself to two twists each of two colors of Dream Smooshy with Cashmere (70% superwash merino wool, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon). I got “Mermaid Shoes” and “Burr.” Mermaid Shoes is my always favorite purple/green/blue combo, and Burr is a more beachy blue/brown theme.

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Imagine my delight when I learned a good LYS will wind the twists into cakes for free. Love those special little touches that equal outstanding service. Takes some of the sting out of paying $32 for a 4-ounce twist of yarn.

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We walked through the waterfront downtown, in and out of shops, then had a nice lunch at the Saltwater Grill, sitting on the screened deck overlooking the water. Conch fritters and a tangy potato salad hit the spot!

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Not a bad lunchtime view.

Before we could leave, though, I had to return to Silver Line.

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It was the first shop I popped into on the way to The Salty Sheep, and the second I stepped in, I was drawn to a jewelry display at the back of the room. Sterling settings with bright sky blue stones swirled through with white. I’d never seen anything like it before, like the perfect summer sky at the beach with some high, wispy clouds.

Hmm. One has a nice Celtic band.

Hmm. It also happens to fit my right ring finger perfectly.

Inquired about the price. Cried a little inside.

It turns out the stone is called Larimar, which comes from Larissa (daughter of the guy who discovered it in the 1970s) and Mar, which is Spanish for sea. It’s found only in one very specific area in the Caribbean, and how much of it there actually is remains unknown. But I reallllllllly liked it.

Went about my shopping day, but couldn’t stop thinking about that ring.

Realized tomorrow is pay day, so screw it. MINE.

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And now I’m home, and these two missed me. Apparently.

Checked in on work, so now I can get back to the shawl-in-progress using Knit Picks Chroma (in “drawing room”) that I’ve been working on. Because the sooner I finish it, the sooner I can play with my beeeeeeee-youuuuuu-teeeeee-ful new cashmere blend.