Thursday, January 29, 2015

Hedge Fence Posts

Another chore accomplished in our short span of warm weather was removing a short section of old barbed wire fence. It no longer was needed and had become an eye sore.  The hedge posts were interspersed with steel fence posts and the barbed wire was barely strung
.
I thought it would be a piece of cake to get the hedge posts out.  The above ground part of them were thin and spindly looking. I did not realize those old posts were like a iceberg.  The upper part of the posts had been worn down by the elements and fire.  Under ground they were like new and deep.


video
Here is another picture--so much better.
We estimate the posts have been in the ground at least fifty years.  Hedge is amazing wood.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

January28th and 60 plus degrees

Unbelievable!  Both the temperature and, as of today, my garden is plowed.

As far as I am concerned, the garden has needed to be plowed for years.  Maybe that is old fashioned, and probably it doesn’t need to be done every year, but I am hoping turning the dirt over and a good hard freeze might help with problems of unwanted pests borrowed down in the soil.  Although it will probably freeze out a garden surprise.

photo (3)

There was a time when this was a day after day late summer chore.  It’s just been in the past 20 years or so that no till has become common, at least around here.  photo (4)

This nicely plowed, black dirt plot makes me excited for real spring.  I know we have some more winter—lets get it over with!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bad Food

Dan and I try to eat pretty good.  I would rate us an 7 or 8 out of 10 for overall healthy eating. 

We have our bad habits though.  Like these Simply Cheetos that were on sale today at Dillon’s. 

photo

They are in the health food isle and here’s probably how they landed there.  They are gluten free, made with expeller-pressed sunflower oil (?), no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives, made with sea salt and baked.  Still, there are 150 calories in 32 pieces.  Of that 150, 80 calories are fat.  Not only that, there is 290 mg of sodium per serving.  I intend to parcel these out—we’ll see.

Dillon’s also had pop on sale.  Last summer, I almost quit buying pop.  We got along just fine.  However, we are currently more or less craving Diet Dr. Pepper and Diet Ginger Ale.  Neither are good.  Turns out we are doomed if we do—sugar—and doomed if we don’t—aspartame. 

Then there is coffee crack—at least that’s what I call it.  Nestles makes a hazelnut creamer we really like.  Currently, we are using a knock off brand that I picked up in Dollar General.  It has 35 calories in 1 tablespoon.  It is hard to determine exactly what this stuff is.  It has 1.5 grams of fat and no sodium.  The first three ingredients (which are listed in order of most to least) are water, sugar and hydrogenated (!) soybean oil.  All in all, not good.  We would be better to use milk and sugar than this.  If we would use better coffee then we wouldn’t need anything to make it taste good.  We read recently drinking coffee helps the brain.  Great, just so the creamer doesn’t get us first.

Since Christmas, we are not eating candy.

Ice cream is another matter.  We’ll work on the other things first.

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19 Spring

video
After splitting wood, we decided to get the Ranger out of the barn for a January ride.  We don't have a windshield so riding can be cool even on a summer evening.  Granted I had a heavy jacket, but it was a beautiful ride.

The movie shows all the Robins coming in to nest.  It's hard to describe how many there actually were. They literally came in on waves.


Dan is dumping a trash can of ashes because we cleaned the stove.  The sun is still far enough in the south that it is warming the house nicely without the stove right now.

We'll love these days while we can because-----we know we are on borrowed time.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Cleaning out the closet

For every family, there is a closet.  That one closet that houses those mystery boxes. Boxes so long ago opened that no one exactly remembers what is inside. 

Some years back, Doug and I emptied the closet and he took what few things that were his.  Since he did not particularly like to read nor did he have any dolls, there wasn’t much. 

The other day, Kim and I once again emptied the closet.  This time we left the games and VHS tapes.  Many of the games should be either thrown away for lack of completeness or donated.  I have an old VCR hooked to the downstairs television and we are going to rewatch and then toss VHS movies. 

Way back in the back was the box of dolls and books.  Well, that and the awesome giant owl wall hanging I crocheted sometime in the 70’s.  I’ll have to hang it and take a picture for old time sake one of these times.

The box of books were Kim’s horse books.  She was a avid reader and loved horse stories.  She received books as gifts and probably bought a few herself.  Her three boys tend to read the more modern futuristic stories so we transferred the books to a plastic dust proof tub and shoved them to the back of the closet for another time. 

The three generations of dolls are not pristine.  Mom’s could possibly be 100 years old as she was born in 1915.  They all show signs of vigorous hair combing.  Some of the bodies have disintegrated to the point that they were not worth saving.  This is rather disturbing…

IMG_1962 

If you can get past the fact that there is no body, the pretty little face is actually in good condition.  This was my doll.  When she was put upright, there was a little thing in her chest that said, “mama.”  We had to throw it away, though—the rubber disintegrated.

There is a hippy family the size of small Barbie dolls—the daddy has a beard, long hair and wears boots.  The momma and little girl wear long skirts and sandals.  There is a doll that has hair that grows, a Betsy Wetsie and a doll that I think was made around the time of  Queen Elizabeth’s coronation.  They all went back into the box.  There was no getting rid of anything there.  There were even handmade clothes out of feed sacks my mom made for my dolls. 

Kim took one doll—so unique that I am not sure a description would do it justice.  Kim, Marc, Aaron, Adam and Evan left for North Carolina today.  It will be a busy time with unpacking and a new city to find their way around.  When things get settled down, I’ll have Kim take a little video and send it to me.  I’ll just say this little doll transforms from a little girl to a woman in a twist of an arm!

Safe travels for our family as they make their way south and a new chapter in their lives.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Family Picture

IKEA is a crazy place.  That’s about all I can say.  It is a destination rather than a store with all their room setups.  They even had a 500 sq foot small home all outfitted.  Well, pictures of the appliances, but all the furniture.  I bought several things for the PW and two simple chairs for our basement. 

As for the family picture—lots of laughs again. 

IMG_6688

IMG_6692

Finally—a good one!

IMG_6683

Colorado Puppy and Piles of Snow

We couldn’t have picked a nicer day to drive west on Saturday.  The warm sun warmed the truck almost too much. 

Sunday was spent just hanging out.  Dan and Doug fixed a minor plumbing problem and we played with Eve, the new, sweet little miniature dachshund puppy.  Trent & Carly adore her for sure. Who wouldn’t.  This picture of Eve and Gunner was not set up—we found them this way.

IMG_6663

Weather forecast is for snow and colder temperatures today.  That doesn’t keep our family inside.  We are thinking about a little roadtrip to Denver.  Here’s how it looks now.

 IMG_6674

IMG_6672

Friday, December 26, 2014

A Very Merry Christmas 2014

It has been a celebration the past two days.  Two church services, eating out, a reception, Christmas dinner, packages and, tonight, a crash.

We were planning on heading west tomorrow but there is a winter storm warning for the Colby/western Kansas area so we decided to put the trip off one day.  Sure don’t want to spend a night out there because the roads close—been there, done that.

I don’t take as many pictures as I used to on Christmas.  I should document gifts, though.  Today was an example of a reason to do that.  We were trying to decide what year we gave each family a KitchenAid mixer.  I went back to the Christmas pictures and saw a package about the right size in 2001—didn’t see the mixer though.  It was fun to see those little ones opening the baby toys.

As to the pictures, I almost never delete any attempts at family pictures.  They age well.  Sometimes the most poised ones are the least interesting in ten years.  Here is an example of multiple attempts at a family picture today

PicMonkey Collage

And, here is the final one that will go in the albums, but won’t Evan love the second from the left in ten years?

IMG_6661

More to come—Christmas isn’t over yet!  We see on Instagram there is an adorable little furry animal in Colorado!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Popular Christmas Cookies

I’m surprised I haven’t seen a headline on my online newspapers or Facebook entitled: “Ten Most Popular Christmas Cookies.”  Well, actually I just Googled that very topic and guess what—there is an article with that headline.   I clicked on it and read it.  Who wouldn’t?

My uneducated guess is that there wasn’t much of a scientific poll taken to find what cookies people prefer, but here is the general gist of the list! There were sugar cookies of all kinds,  cookies with Hershey kisses stuck in them, snickerdoodles, dipped cracker cookies, snowballs and gingerbread cutouts.  I can’t argue with any of these, but how could they leave out the delicious pinwheel date cookies.  Maybe they are too old fashioned for the modern taste.



So far my “go to” recipe for sharing this Christmas season are Ginger  Snaps.  They taste so good  each time I make them.  The one problem with this choice is that they need to be fresh—hot out of the oven.   The good news is that Ginger Snaps are easy to make.  A single recipe makes about three dozen, just right to fill a platter for sharing.
 

This recipe is one out of my Mom’s collection.  The name on the card is Noreen.  She is a friend and neighbor and the last “cousin” from my Dad’s generation.

Ginger Snaps

 Mix:
 3/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses

 Sift together:
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon ginger
 Beat shortening & sugar, add egg and molasses. Mix together all dry ingredients and add to shortening mixture. Form into small balls, roll in sugar. Bake 350 10 minutes (I bake six or seven because we like soft cookies)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

St Louis Botanical Garden Christmas Lights

The Hermann Wine Trail was fun but I wanted to do one more  Christmas activity on this last minute road trip.  A simple Google search for Christmas in St Louis brought up the special Christmas lighting at the Botanical Garden.  Even more exciting was the result of a Google map search.  Where we were at New Haven, Missouri was only a little over an hour from the Garden on just a backroad to I 44 which then exited right to the Garden parking.  We are not the most experienced city drivers, especially at night.  But, this was a easy destination.

The weather was still beautiful on Sunday evening.  The docents positioned around the light trail kept commenting on it.  The Garden was prepared for cold weather with bonfires throughout.  They even had marshmallows to roast and hot chocolate to buy.   The picture of Dan and I was taken by one of the bonfires where we sat and people watched for a spell.

I didn’t take many pictures—well actually I took a lot of pictures but not many turned out.  Night pictures are difficult.  Hopefully, there are enough to get the feel of the lovely evening.

For more lights, click here or on the picture, then on “slideshow” on the upper right corner of the web page.  Enjoy!

IMG_6633-1

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Road Trip

All last week, we kept checking the weather.  We told ourselves, if the forecast continued to show a warm weekend, we were going to take off in the PW one last time in 2014.

The weather held and we took off.

First, we attended our Card group Christmas party on Saturday evening.  We look forward to the December meeting at Vernon and Joyce’s home each year.  We even played cards until 10:00 pm.  But, we had the PW with us and we made it as far as Cabela’s parking lot before parking and sleeping.

Our destination was Hermann and the “Say Cheese” Wine Trail.  We arrived in Hermann by 11:00, picked up our ticket and were enjoying the first tasting by noon—outside at a picnic table at Stone Hill Winery. It was there that I took this picture of another van conversion RV, although a little smaller than the PW.

IMG_1862

The weather held all day as we made our way through the seven wineries on the trail.  On any other winter day, this area at the Hermannhof winery would be full.

IMG_1863

This is one of the delicious pairings—warm goat cheese rarebit paired with Vidal Blanc from Hermannhof.

IMG_1865

My favorite pairing was Pecorino Romano and Black Pepper Polenta paired with Syrah served at the Dierberg Star Lane Winery.  If I understand correctly, Dierberg is a California winery with a connection to Hermann. 

Robller Winery is located at New Haven Missouri.  We had never driven around the river front area of this little river town.  What a surprise.  It is a well maintained, interesting area.  There is a glass blowing store, a distillery and movie theater.  Definitely a place to check out another time. 

Robller’s pairing was a cheese plate from Cool Cow Cheese Company paired with Villa Rouge.  We usually save Robller’s for last.  The owners are friendly and make themselves available to chat about their operation.  We just like the atmosphere.  We weren’t disappointed this visit either when the owner of the Cool Cow Cheese Company came over to where we were sitting and filled us in about this cheese making business.

His cows come from a line originating on the Isle of Jersey, part of the Channel Islands of England where the Jersey cow was developed in the 19th century.  This line of cows was imported to the United States by George Vanderbilt and used in his dairy operation at the Biltmore mansion.

Tom, the owner of the Cool Cow Cheese Company, grew up on a dairy farm in Iowa.  (His father sits on the Board of Blue Bunny Ice Cream).  He indicated his family had some sort of link to the Vanderbilt family that enabled them to get into that line of cows.  We also learned Tom received 2nd Place at the Isle of Jersey International Cheese Competition as well as Cheesemaker of the Year.

Even though it was one of the more hurried Wine trails we have participated in, it was one of the most interesting.

Next,  St Louis Botanical Garden Christmas Light display. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

“The Goldfinch: A Novel” by Donna Tartt

I know the Christmas season is upon us so maybe a novel of 784 pages won't be at the top of a things to do list. The Book I'm referring to is "The Goldfinch: A Novel" by Donna Tartt.

First, I should say that The Goldfinch has won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award: Fiction Finalists. That alone should say that it is a well written book.

Theo Decker is 13 when he and his mother decide to visit the New York Art Museum. They are on their way to Theo's school to discuss a possible suspension but they detour into the museum to get out of a driving rain storm. Theo is transfixed by a painting entitled The Goldfinch so lags behind his mother. It is at that moment that a terrorist sets a bomb off in the museum. Theo is briefly knocked out by the blast. When he comes to, he assists a dying man who gives him a ring with instructions who to take it to. Also he tells Theo to take the painting of the Goldfinch.

Theo's mother was killed in the blast which leaves Theo searching for places to grow up and places to stash his beautiful possession, the world prized, very valuable painting. He lives briefly with a society family of New York, then sent to live with his Dad and stepmother in Las Vegas.  And, eventually back to New York. The novel is narrated by Theo as he looks back at this time in his life.

This book is written in such a way that it can be left and then picked up again, making it a candidate for starting this busy time of year. I know because I did that very thing. The story is character based and so descriptive that I never lost the place or plot.

Now, here is my suggestion. Listen to it. David Pittu is an excellent narrator. Actually, I can't say enough about how well he reads this novel. Theo has a best friend named Boris, an Ukrainian immigrant, who plays a big part in Theo's life. Pittu is outstanding in bringing Boris's accent and personality alive along with his Russian friends. Hobie, another central character, steps right out of the book and into your mind.

The book covers many years of Theo's life--maybe 25 or more. And, according to the information it will take about that many hours to listen to it. It is well worth the time, especially since you can wrap gifts and bake cookies while you do. Without giving away any of the plot, it is guaranteed to make your heart race.  You will also cry, laugh, and think--especially think. At times it can be rather "deep" but I will say that this is the best book I read (listened to) this year--perhaps for several years.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

What a great day! 

First, and foremost, all of our family are home right now.  As I have said before, it is always a treat to have them all here at once.  The cousins have so much fun.  This is where the memories are made.

We had a delicious meal today—actually especially tasty.  I have a couple new recipes to share another time. 

For now, here are our pride and joys of which we are so very thankful.

IMG_6571-1

Monday, November 17, 2014

Friends

Three of the four of us went to high school together so we’ve know each other for over 50 years.  One is related so I’ve known her since I was a kid.

The 1965-66 school year we lived in an apartment in Emporia.  Lots of memories associated with that year.  We weren’t much for drinking, but we sure enjoyed thePeter Pan Ice Cream store behind the apartment.  I believe that original ice cream store grew into the Braum’s chain.  It was that good! 

Kay (Kayzie) was the only foreigner—from Sabetha rather than the Chapman area.  Kayzie and I were the night owls—staying up until the late hours talking. 

In 1972, we started a tradition of getting together for a “Roommates Reunion.”  We faithfully did that for many years.  There was a time we didn’t get together as regularly.  Everyone got busy.  Now, we are all retired so we are enjoying each other’s company regularly once again.

Here is the first reunion with me wearing an example of what we wore when we were pregnant. 

img498

Here we are a couple weeks ago—minus Kayzie—who now leaves in Phoenix AZ. 

IMG_6483-1

Here is all of us

IMG_6486-1

Always good to see our friends!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

All is Well!

Thank you to those who called to see if everything is OK with me. All is well. And, I will do better about keeping my humble little blog updated. I can't believe how long since I've checked in.

It seems every conversation we have lately starts with the weather so I'll start with that here. It is the middle of November, so cold weather should probably be expected. Single digits, though? That day that dropped at least 25 degrees within an hour was the day we decided we better winterize the PW (Pleasure Way RV). Leave it to us to wait until the very last minute. It was about an hour after we finished blowing out the water lines and dumping anti freeze in the traps that the front moved through. Good thing because this prolonged cold spell would have done some damage.

We finished the wood burning stove repair last week as well. Last summer a strong wind came through and blew the top vent pipe off. Those stove pipes are heavy and it involved climbing on the roof. Contrary to my expectations, it went smoothly. I just came up from the basement where there was a toasty fire--the stove is working great & that makes me a happy wintertime girl.

Along with getting the stove fixed, we cut a bunch of wood last week too. Dan and I are wood cutting maniacs. We marveled at how fast we filled up our little portable wood shed. I know--portable wood shed?? It is one of those small, very old Toyota pickup beds with an aluminum cover. It can be pulled with the atv. We pull it to the tree then back it up to the back basement door (the stove is right inside). It probably wouldn't fly in town, but works great out here.

I promised Kayzie I would post pictures of our roommate reunion, but I'll save those for tomorrow.