Old World Wise

The Book Thief

My husband and I have always been avid readers. I'm not sure exactly how many books (hardcover and paperbacks) we've collected over the 25 years we've been married, because that would involve digging them out, dusting them off and actually counting them and, well, ain't nobody got time for that, but I'm pretty sure the number is in the hundreds.

And I have a confession to make. Ready? Okay! Here it is: I am a historical romance novel addict, from way back. 

My love affair...ahem...with historical romance novels...siiiiiiiigh...runs deep...heh, I said deep...and long...oh my gosh, fiiiiiine, I'll stop, right now...and I'm pretty sure I've read (and re-read) every Lisa Kleypas novel in the house, because my oldest daughter also happens to be a big fan of Ms. Kelypas (seriously, Lisa, you write good!) and the kid buys way more books than I do, which works out very well in my favor.

Aaaaaand, if you happen to be a newbie parent...WELCOME ABOARD!!!!...this is where you should be thinking to yourself...heyyyyyy...you know what?!?...I can't wait until my babies grow up, start making their own money and buy books that I happen to like to read, too...not a bad gig, you guys!


My in-laws have been married for 60-something years and have collected probably close to eleventy-trillion books, which they have started sending over to our house, because we only have a couple hundred and...HEY!!!...what's eleventy-trillion more, right?!?

Actually, they sent over a box or two to donate to our local library and, as I was going through the boxes, I realized many of them were really old (and musty) books. I love really old (and musty) books!


I took a bunch of my favorites and organized them by the color of their spines...okay, it was my youngest's idea to color-coordinate the darn things and NO she did NOT get her OCD from me...anyway...I think these books add to the vintage-y feel of our house.


I also found an inscription in one of the books gifted to my Father-in-Law from his sister on Christmas 1945 and, well, Aunt Jeanne passed away last spring and I'm not even sure my Father-in-Law even realizes we have this book, because he's still not over the fact that he and my Mother-in-Law were not well enough to travel up to Massachusetts for her memorial, so I'm keeping it.

14yo: Oh...my...gosh..would...you...guys...just...LOOK AT THIS!!!!

Our youngest also loves books.

Hope Books

Except her taste runs a little darker (and scarier) and it must have been all the Stephen King I read while pregnant with her.

14yo: This book says it belongs to the library!!!

[one beat, two beats]

14yo: Which means Grandpa never returned this book to the library!!!

[eyes go wide]


Me: Actually, Grandpa probably bought that particular one during a book sale at the library.

Grandpa: Nooooo, I stole it.

I'm a little scared of what we'll find out during next week's Sunday supper (or Sunday Suppuh, if you're from New England) yah!

© This Full House 2003-2017. All rights reserved.

Pörkölt: Hungarian Beef (Pork, Lamb or Chicken) Stew

So, yesterday I shared my secret stash of REAL paprika (seriously, I totally felt as if it should have been illegal) today I'm super-excited to be able to post one of my favorite go to Hungarian family recipes -- Pörkölt, made in a pressure cooker!

I needed to wait for it to finish cooking and then make sure to make it look all Pinterest-worthy and stuff, but mostly because I'm a little afraid of the pressure cooker and it sort of needed my full attention.

Good news is, the Pörkölt came out fantastic and I didn't blow anything up!

Porkolt - Hungarian Pork Stew
I know, riiiiiiiiiiight?!?!?!

First, a quick Hungarian lesson: Pörkölt is a stew made from beef, pork, chicken, lamb...you name it and you can probably make Pörkölt out of it...and it's what most folks mistake as Hungarian Gulyás.

Hungarian Gulyás is actually beef soup made with carrots, potatoes and spaetzle-type dumplings: you can find my family's recipe for REAL Hungarian Gulyas, here!

So, on with the Pörkölt! With my sincerest apologies in advance, because I've learned to cook adding the amount of ingredients "by eye" and am really bad at actual measurements.

Hungarian Pork Stew


  • For this Pörkölt, I whacked up a 3 lb. pork roast into stew-sized pieces.
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 chopped green pepper (or cubanol pepper)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped (or 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder)
  • 3 tablespoons of Hungarian Paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • I used half of a 32 oz. container of vegetable stock (so 16 ounces)
  • Salt, Pepper to taste

Putting it ALL together:

  • Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven or a deep pot
  • Saute the chopped onion and green pepper for about 5 minutes
  • Add the garlic, paprika and stir for about a minute
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and vegetable stock
  • Add salt and pepper to taste (before you add the meat!)
  • Stir in your meat
  • Add the crushed pepper flakes (optional)
  • Cook covered for about 2 hours, or until the meat is nice and tender or you could use your pressure cooker instead and get it done in about 30 mins.
  • Serve over elbow macaroni (or YOUR favorite pasta) 

P.S. This recipe would comfortably feed 8 people.

P.P.S. You can substitute any meat you'd like.

P.P.P.S. The measurement for the liquids can be adjusted to the amount of meat you have on hand (that's what SHE said!) and all you would need to do is make sure that the liquid covers the meat (see previous parenthesis!) completely.

P.P.P.P.S. If using a pressure cooker, please pay attention to the pressure cooker instructions, because I am ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED OF THE PRESSURE COOKER!!!!

Jó étvágyat (Hungarian for good appetite, pronounced yo-ate-vadj-yat)!

©2003 -2015 This Full House with a fan page on Facebook, a way for you to subscribe to receive This Full House blog post by Email and everything! Also, I'm attempting to blog EVERY DAY in 2015, I hope it lasts! #TFH365 

© This Full House 2003-2017. All rights reserved.

Sharing My Secret Stash of REAL Hungarian Paprika.

My parents worked two (sometimes three) jobs -- we lived in a 4-room apartment, upstairs in my Grandmother's house, at the time -- so my brother and I grew up eating a lot of t.v. dinners -- remember those?!?

The salisbury steak with the chocolate pudding-ish cake was my favorite. Or was it the dinner that came with the hot apple lava? I forget. Either way, I almost NEVER ate the veggies -- they were just too squishy for, my taste.

Aaaaanyway, dinner planning during week nights and Saturdays (a.k.a. scrub the apartment, from top to bottom, or until everything smelled of bleach day) was kept real loosey-goosey.

Sundays, however, we (my grandmother, mother and I) would spend the entire morning cooking Hungarian food -- it was my favorite day! We still celebrate Sunday supper with my parents, whenever we can.

Now that my kids are older, and their palates have matured enough to believe that eating anything other than chicken fingers will most likely NOT kill them, it's fun to revisit some of my favorite childhood dishes -- especially, whenever I'm running late with putting dinner together (which is most nights, sorry guys!) and I've pretty much conquered my fear of the pressure cooker.

Ummmmm, okay I'm still a little afraid of the pressure cooker.

Tonight, I was running late with getting dinner started. SURPRISE!!! Even though my husband, Garth (not his real name) was nice enough to remember to take a pork roast out of the freezer for me, this morning.

Pork roast takes at least 90 minutes to...you know...roast...and it was already way past hungry o'clock, so I busted out the pressure cooker and whacked up the pork roast into stew-sized pieces to make one of my favorite meals on the fly -- Pörkölt!!!

Pörkölt is a stew (made from beef or pork) and what most folks mistaken for Hungarian Gulyas -- you can fine my family's recipe for REAL Hungarian Gulyas here!

Then I reached for the paprika...in a secret little place I keep it...hidden far behind the other herbs and spices...and I couldn't help but feel as if I were hiding something...you know...illegal.

Aaaaaaand, not because I keep it in a special tin!

Hungarian Crack

...OR that it's also tie-wrapped in a plastic baggie!

Hungarian Crack 2

Not for nothing, but paprika NEEDS to be stored in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight AND my aunt in Hungary can only afford to ship so much...every few months...and I share the delivery with my mother (a.k.a. our domestic supplier)...because REAL HUNGARIAN PAPRIKA, you guys!!!

[sound of crickets, chirping]

Tell you what, I'll share the recipe with you tomorrow, because I've been typing this blog post for...I'm not sure how long...and I forgot to put the danged timer on for the pressure cooker.

Besides...GAWDFUHBID!!!...I share something that is NOT Pinterest-worthy...right?!?


[go home crickets, you're drunk]


Stupid pressure cooker, dumbass crickets.

©2003 -2015 This Full House with a fan page on Facebook, a way for you to subscribe to receive This Full House blog post by Email and everything! Also, I'm attempting to blog EVERY DAY in 2015, I hope it lasts! #TFH365 

© This Full House 2003-2017. All rights reserved.

More stuff Bing said, my dad said, on Facebook.

Papa is on Facebook

My dad has been on "the Facebook" for a little over a year and it's been fun to watch him reconnect with friends and family here and in Hungary, but he was a little worried about leaving comments for his English-speaking friends...in English...so, of course, I tried to encourage him (because I am ALL about social media engagement, yo) by insisting that Bing translator would help them out.

Aaaaand, seeing some of the crazy stuff that Bing said, that he said, is yet ANOTHER reason why I do not, and should probably never be encouraged to, teach social media classes.

Then again, some of my Facebook friends seem to be having fun trying to make sense of the Hungarian to English translation, my favorite being: if there is no love there is no semi swaddling you.

Until, this particular conversation:

The track for Pax, I think.
Then, my Dad commented on my Facebook: Nalunk ho, legalab is eszt montak.

And I commented back: Nalunk is, Apu...sok ho.

Dad: By us snow, at least this is what they said.

Me: By us too, Dad...lots of snow.

Then, there's what Bing said:

Dad: We offer you, ho.

Me: We offer you, Dad...a lot of ho.

Right. Go home, Bing. You're drunk. And who you callin' a ho?!?

[sound of crickets, chirping]

So, yeah, I can't WAIT to see what Bing says, he says, next.  Oh, and now I am also thinking about changing my blog's tagline to:  

...6 people, living in a 7 room house, and a lot of ho.  

Stupid English, dumbass Bing.

©2003 -2014 This Full House with a fan page on Facebook, a way for you to subscribe to receive This Full House blog post by Email and everything!  

© This Full House 2003-2017. All rights reserved.

Love, Hungarian American Style

My paternal grandparents,Toth Maria and Katkics Istvan

My maternal grandparents were married on June 9, 1935 in UjDombovar (pronounced oo-yuh-dome-bo-vah-r) Hungary. My grandfather Istvan was the oldest of 7 children and my grandmother Maria was born on a farmstead in a small Hungarian village bordering present day Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

Through my father's own childhood memories, I now know my grandfather became the patriarch of his family, following the sudden death of his father, and (albeit, very unwillingly) took on the responsibility of supporting his mother and his 6 siblings: 2 years into World War I, my grandfather was 16 years-old, at the time.

My grandmother was a quintessential "old country" girl, pulled out of school around the 3rd or 4th grade (just enough to learn simple math and proficient to write your name in longhand), she spoke with, what we here in the states would also consider, a very heavy Southern accent and my father will tell you that she loved to sing old folk songs, especially when she thought no one was listening.

What neither he or I can tell you is how my grandmother met my grandfather.

What drew them together? How did they fall in love? Did my grandfather seek her family's permission? Or, in my ridiculously romantic imagination, did they meet by chance? On a stormy afternoon, when her day in the fields was cut short and his motorbike broke down in the rain, as she shyly pointed him towards a shortcut and they shared the muddy path back to her village, perhaps?

As the family genealogist, I couldn't help but become very frustrated when interviewing family members and almost always received the same response: people just didn't talk about themselves, or even know anything about their own families, back then.

I never met my grandmother (she died a few months after my brother and I were born) and the memories I have of my grandfather are very different from that of his son's.

So, it's days like this, when images of hearts and flowers abound, I wish someone would hurry up and invent a time machine. Because one of the very first things I would do is go back, sit with my grandparents and listen to THEIR story.

And then I would try to explain why bloggers (like me) share such stories on the internet: I don't want their great-grandchildren to EVER forget where they came from...me either.

On a muddy path, somewhere in between heartache and a folksong.

In the meantime, I'll just pretend that they are both smiling at me...JUST ME...and perhaps even thinking to themselves, "Boldog Valentin nap, kis Sziszikem".

Happy Valentines Day, everyone!

©2003 -2014 This Full House with a fan page on Facebook, a way for you to subscribe to receive This Full House blog post by Email and everything! 

© This Full House 2003-2017. All rights reserved.

I am not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.

Delinquent Cat
He's drinking out of the dog's water bowl, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!?

I remember the first time I got "my cards read," I was my youngest girl's age (12 going on 42) and it freaked me out, big time.

Her name was Charlotte, she was a friend of my Aunt Theresa's and she practiced cartomancy, which sounds an awful lot like gastromancy, but has nothing to do with being romantically involved with someone who works for the gas company -- although, considering today's economy, it certainly would be a perk.

"You will marry a man, with 5 letters in his name and you will have 4 children."

You See?!?  Garth (not his real name) has five letters in his name, for real too!

"Your brother will have a career in the Army and marry the Colonel's daughter."

BINGO!!! Although, I'm not exactly sure what rank my SIL's father was.  Still, close enough, right?!?

"You and your children will live a long and happy life."

Still working on that one...[knocks on wood until knuckles bleed]...because the Hungarian in me wants to believe in divination and my "old world" upbringing dictates that we are indeed each blessed with certain gifts, but living with perhaps the BIGGEST skeptic on Earth has tempered all that.

Aaaaaand then I just remind my husband, Garth (not his real name) about the time I fed him chicken on New Year's Day (=) a REAL BIG "Oh no you did'int" and precursor for some REAL BAD juju for the coming year, according to Hungarian folklore.

It was also the year when things started to go bad, and kept getting worse:

  • My husband suffered from one health issue after another
  • Heather was diagnosed with severe colic
  • I endured months of sleep deprivation, while dealing with PPD
  • While our two-year-old contracted a viral infection
  • That would last for the next three years

Call it bad luck, whatever, I've served ham every New Year's Day since then, just in case.

"I got my cards read, for the first time, the other day."

My MIL is still recovering from breaking her ankle (in three places, UGH!) over the summer, so we ran over to their place today to help her get a few chores done around the house.

"It was really cool, Grandma!"

I was out in the den watching the football game with my FIL (YES! It's a chore!) and headed back into their bedroom to check on my MIL.

"The woman was very specific and detailed about stuff."

I made a mental note to reacquaint our oldest daughter with my "Quit talking, about whatever it is you are talking about!" face, not quite knowing what my MIL thought about psychics, one way or the other and, well, she's still sort of getting used to having me as a DIL and stuff.

"I know it sounds weird, but it was sort of cool, too."

I watched as my MIL's eyes went REAL WIDE and prepared myself for the "THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT-type" accusations, that would never come.

"Well, I was four-years-old when I told your great-grandmother I would marry someone from Massachusetts."

Good thing Thanksgiving is another 4 days away, because it's going to take me THAT long to scrape my husband's chin from off of the floor!

©2003 -2013 This Full House with a fan page on Facebook and everything!

I'm NaBloPoMo-ing it, feel free to check out what I've NaBloPoMo-ed, so far (PHEW!) and let me know how I'm doing (I mean, 30 posts, in 30 days, really?!?) when you have time, of course!

© This Full House 2003-2017. All rights reserved.

Bing translator comes up with some crazy sh*t on Facebook.

Me and my Daddy
My dad and me, as seen on Facebook.

My 3 oldest kids are on Facebook; once my youngest turns 13, I will probably allow her to create a Facebook account, too.

Aaaaand, just like her older siblings, I will also insist that she "friend" me on Facebook, because I believe in being a fair and equally annoying parent to ALL of my children.  

Then, my parents got online and it wasn't long before I introduced my dad to Facebook

It's been fun watching my Dad reconnect with family members (who mostly live in Hungary and Austria) and he really enjoys keeping up with what his grandchildren are doing on Facebook.

Which has proven to be a wonderful filter: don't post anything that would embarrass your grandparents on Facebook.

Apparently, some of my Facebook friends seem to be having lots of fun trying to make sense of the Hungarian to English translation.

I love clicking the "see translation" button on your dad's comments, Bing comes up with some crazy sh*t! The only thing that would make it better is if I knew what he was really saying to compare it to said crazy sh*t it says he said, lol!

Because I am SUCH a people-pleaser, here is the crazy sh*t that Bing said, he said.

Continue reading "Bing translator comes up with some crazy sh*t on Facebook." »

© This Full House 2003-2017. All rights reserved.