Sunday, December 30, 2012

You’ve gotta Love 2013

Come into my living room and tell me what you think of my new display on the wall that extends into the basement.

IMG_2151I asked the family about the order of the words, they agreed it is usually “Live, Laugh, Love.”  Actually, it is the way I had them placed at the time we had the discussion. For some reason, as I lived with the display, something bothered me.

Laugh belongs in the middle.  Laughter and smiles are an important part of my life.  I think that comes from growing up in a family that cried more from laughing than any other reason.  Yes, Laugh belongs right there in the middle of Live and Love.

The more I looked at the other two words, though, the more it seemed Love should be first.  Love first and foremost, then Live life to the fullest!  

These are three wonderful words no matter the order and they are my hope for all of you this New Year of 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Best of 2012 lists

I’ll admit if I see an article entitled “Best of” I’m clicking on it.  Writers are most likely aware of their popularity or why would we see so many.  I try to remember these lists are usually one person’s opinion.  Or that the author might be influenced by another best of list.

That possibility of being influenced especially comes to mind when an article I read listing the author’s 2012 “best of” book list just happens to include most of the Amazon monthly recommended books.  Then again, these might just be excellent books.

At any rate, I decided to put them on my library “wish list.”

 Dear Life by Alice Munro
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker 
Defending Jacob by William Landay
Wild by Cheryl Strait
The Dog Stars by Peter Heller
Light between Oceans: A Novel by M. L. Stedman
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
The Organ Master’s Son: A Novel by Adam Johnson
Gone Girl: A Novel by Gillian Flynn

I’m a little backlogged right now after finally finishing  Winter of the World by Ken Follett, a mega book--excellent, but long.  I’m currently enjoying the easy story of The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks and  I have Life of Pi by Yann Martel checked out and is due soon.  

Any other winter reading recommendations welcome…..

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Holiday recipes

I thought now might be a good time to post several recipes that were winners this Holiday season. 

First is Drue’s Cranberry Salsa.  Very unique and would be a good choice for New Year’s Eve. 

Cranberry Salsa

1 Package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries, chopped
1 can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple in juice, drained
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup finely chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I added more)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion (I added around 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, combine cranberries, pineapple, sugar, green pepper,
cilantro, onion, jalapeño pepper and salt. Cover and chill 2 hours to
let flavors blend. Yields around 3 cups salsa.

Dan really likes the stuffed mushroom appetizers at the Blind Tiger in Topeka.  This recipe is our attempt to copy them.  The only difference is the Blind Tiger deep fries.  We decided we could do without all that fat so we baked.

Crab-Stuffed Mushrooms

1 cup crab meat
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
4 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
House seasoning (recipe follows)
2 portobello mushrooms caps or 10 white mushroom caps
1/2 cup bread crumbs
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat to 375

Combine the crabmeat, cream cheese, parsley, green onions and Parmesan.  Season with House Seasoning to taste.  Stuff the mushroom caps with the mixture and top with breat crumbs.  Spray the tops with nonstick spray to help them brown.  Transfer to the oven & bake for about 20 minutes or until the filling is hot & melted.

House Seasoning:
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Mix ingredients & store in airtight container for up to six months.

Finally, as I mentioned, we tried Fondue for our Christmas.  I kept it simple:  steak, cheese squares, bread with a salad.  I asked the butcher which cut would work best for the meat and he recommended beef loin top sirloin steaks.  I trimmed the fat and cut into about 1 inch cubes.  I made two marinades from scratch.  The recipe I’m posting was the best.     I like peanut oil for fondue.  I don’t think it smokes as much.  I used Velveeta and Rotel for the cheese sauce because I knew the kids liked it.   And BBQ sauce for dipping the meat, although the marinade was good enough that I thought it stood on its own.

Steak Marinade

Soy Sauce
Canola Oil
Crushed Garlic gloves
Crushed red pepper
Agave nectar (I used honey)
Ground ginger (or fresh)

Mix marinade using proportions as to how much needed.  Put steak cubes in plastic bag with marinade for 2 to six hours.  Periodically turn bag.

Cheese Cubes

Use favorite hard cheeses.  I used the marbled Monterey Jack/cheddar, mozzarella, and  Pepper Jack.  Cut in 1/2 plus inch cubes.  Mix together one egg and a little milk.  Dip in egg mixture then bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs).  Let sit a while then repeat.  After two dippings, let sit again for a while—1/2 hour or so then refrigerate.  Set out about a half hour before cooking.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Today, Christmas Eve Day, was our Christmas celebration so it has been very Merry around here.

Kim, Marc, Aaron, Adam and Evan were here for dinner and the afternoon.  We did fondue, which is a leisurely meal. Everyone agreed it turned out well.  More on that later.

483333_565926320087543_241927608_nThen we just spent some time visiting.  Everyone has been so busy, it was nice to catch up.

I am so excited about the gift they gave us—a fire ring!  It has deer and elk cutouts around the side, just like the one I have admired so often. It came with a Lowe’s gift card for anything else we might want to complete a landscape area down by the new pond.  Then to top it off, they are going  to help us with the whole project next summer! 

Our Colorado family did not come back for Christmas. They were here for Thanksgiving and it was a super celebration then. We missed them today.  They brought our gift when they were back in November.  It’s been under the tree since then.  Such a temptation to peek.  I kind of thought it was a bottle of wine, but I didn’t know there were four dessert wine glasses, hand decorated by Carly and a bottle of premium Colorado Port. My goodness it is good. 

The day ended with the candlelight service at church.  We are Blessed.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Those little gifts

I just want to say, as I do each year, how much I appreciate the cards and letters we receive from family and friends.  These truly are special little gifts that I read & look at all year, especially the pictures.  It is an investment of time and, anymore, money to send Christmas cards.

Sending cards is still a part of my Christmas season.  Partly, of course, because I look forward to receiving them.  I also send cards because writing them brings me pleasure.  I actually do look forward to the card project each year and usually only send three or four each day.  Connecting or reconnecting with family and friends is part of the Spirit of the Season for me. 

I realize not everyone has time to send Christmas cards.  I sent  electronic greetings a time or two when I was working.  Actually, they are personal, meaningful, and even pictures can be inserted.  They just don’t work too well on my bulletin board.

One of the reasons I have stayed with this blog rather than move to Facebook is I like the idea of not really knowing who stops by each day.  Since I can’t say it personally,  I will just say to all, have a Joyous Christmas and a fun and healthy New Year.

Friday, December 21, 2012


I used to think of a podcast as a spoken blog.  At least that is what they seemed like years ago when I first listened to a few. 

Lately, I’ve been checking out what is out there again.  I am amazed and a little hooked.  Apple as its own app simply called, “Podcasts.”  It is free.  There is a place for searches.  Just type in a topic and check it out.  I like “This American Life” from NPR. 

Rick Steves has a travel podcast site which is very interesting.  I am also signed up for auto download of podcasts on a site called, “Books on the Night Stand.” I listened to one from the Nutrition Diva on my PC.  Then checked and downloaded it on my Apple phone. 

Basically, I would say to just Google podcasts and go from there.  They are usually less than an hour, much shorter than an audio book, so might be ideal for travel. 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rumblings of thunder, dropping temperatures

weather 12-20-12 We’re a tiny bit west of the “L” on Lawrence.  It looks promising!  Talked to Doug in Monument CO this evening.  Sounded like they were having high wind with snow. 

The stove is cranking out heat, my bed is preheated with a electric lap blanket and I’m just starting my cup of chamomile tea.  Nights like this were a great source of worry when the 90 plus miles of mail route loomed the next day.  I’m thinking of my friends there, but sleeping soundly tonight. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Mother’s Story

I invite you to read this Mother’s story as it appears in The Stranger, a Seattle, Washington newspaper.  Four or five years ago on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, a mother called the show to recount a similar story.  It made such an impression on me that I can remember exactly where I was on the mail route when I heard it. 

I Am Adam Lanza’s Mother

Here is another story in USA Today. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Day in Kansas City

I’ve been trying to think how to write about Sue and my day in Kansas City yesterday.  We had so much fun.  It wasn’t until late in the day that we found out about the terrible tragedy in Connecticut.  It hardly seems right to post these cheery pictures when there is so much sadness.   I’ve been thinking of the families all day. 

I do want to chronicle our trip, though.  We planned it two weeks ago and I looked forward to it that long. 

First, we went to Trader Joe’s—the one on Ward Parkway.  There are two in Kansas City, but this one sells the 3 buck Chuck wine.  I bought the Cab Sav and have to say we think it’s pretty darn good.  Certainly not too sweet.  This is an interesting place to look around for sure.  I picked up several of their name brand items and am anxious to see how we like them.  The price is certainly right.

The lights were already on when we arrived at the Plaza.  Maybe they leave them on all the time or maybe it was because it was an overcast day.  But, we basically just walked around enjoying the Christmas cheer.   The picture below was taken in Hall’s near their extensive Christmas ornament display. 



IMG_2102-1 We considered riding, but decided to make that another trip.

IMG_2110-1 The windows reminded us of the downtown Kansas City in the 50’s.

IMG_2111-4x6 Another street view.

IMG_2116 We ate out on the plastic enclosed balcony at the Brio Tuscan Grille restaurant.  It would have been an hour wait for a table and really all we wanted was their lobster bisque soup and Bruschetta appetizer.  We literally lucked out with this table with a night view in the upstairs bar area.

IMG_2120 One last picture before we head for home. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Party Swedish Style

As I knew it would, everything came together Monday night.  I just finished lighting the individual votive candles at each plate when the first person arrived.  Now I could relax and enjoy the evening.

Since about half of our group have family ties to Sweden, we decided to make it the theme of the evening food.  Mary Beth also brought some of her collection of Dala horse’s, which she placed on a white runner over the red tablecloth. 

It all looked very cheery. Especially after we consumed Glogg, a combination of juices and wine served warm.

We decided to pass each dish while the person who brought it tell its history.  I did not take notes and I do not have Swedish heritage.  The result is I can’t remember the names of the dishes so I will describe them and that will bring memories to those who know.

We started with a plate of cheeses.  Then a two salads.  A delicious potato dish (not the cheesy kind), sausages, ham, meat balls, a rice pudding dish (could have only eaten this), rye bread and tea ring.  For dessert we had various cookies and a very interesting layered custard-like dish made with raw milk and Lingonberries.

We rounded out the meal with coffee and wine.  A fun evening of eating a leisurely meal and visiting.  And,  because of the meeting, we are enjoying a cheery Christmas house.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Once in our lifetime: 12th month, 12th year, 12:12 o’clock at the 12th second.



Not the best quality picture, but there are only two chances.  I was very nervous because I wasn’t sure my pressing the button & the camera taking the picture would happen right on the second.  I lucked out. 

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Chill out in our bathroom

Last week, when I was dragging out more and more Christmas treasurers, it dawned on me that an additional decorating area is the bathroom. 

I won’t post a picture, but I have a snowman shower curtain.  Well, actually there are multiple about three foot high snowmen across the curtain. 

I also have snowmen figurines that were given to me over a number of years by a thoughtful and sweet lady on my old mail route.  They fit perfectly on the back of the toilet.

Finally, I remembered the Christmas ice storm of 2007.  So, I’m having Walgreens make 5 x 7s of these three pictures for the wall. 

Maybe not a warm fuzzy feeling in a place where clothing is minimal.




Thursday, December 06, 2012

Ramblings on a Thursday

I've spent most of the week decorating for Christmas.  Not all day but a little bit each day.  I'm done, except for the front porch.  We're doing a little painting out there.  The ladies from the SHARE club are coming here next Monday.  So, I need to quit decorating and start cleaning—tomorrow our bedroom and living room.  Saturday, the kitchen/dining room.  I find myself downstairs a lot, I just like to hang out down there when the stove is lit.  It is so toasty. 

Right now I'm dozing in front of the computer.  I made the mistake of enjoying my chamomile tea before writing.  I know I've said this before, but that stuff works.

Dan picked up a few raw oysters for Thanksgiving (Oyster Corn).  They weren’t needed for Thanksgiving so I deep fried them for lunch—for Dan.  They were OK, but they are not my favorite seafood.  My Dad loved Oyster Soup so Mom fixed it for him fairly often in the wintertime.  I am an easy keeper, eating wise, but that was one thing I did not like.  Mom would say to just sip the milk part of the soup—like that didn’t taste like oysters. 

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, only four years and two months before I was born and a little over two weeks after my brother was born. I wonder if they heard the famous speech by Roosevelt.  The event is especially clear in my mind this year because I am listening to Ken Follett's Winter of the World, a book about World War II.  I'm not finished, so more later on that. 

Last evening we saw the movie Lincoln.  Excellent acting.  We visually see the toll the war had on President Lincoln.  A good deal of the film was spent on his getting enough votes to pass the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery.  Again, highly recommend this film.

I have rambled enough—off to bed.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Pond is finished


I realize this picture doesn’t show much.  However, I am standing on the back deck looking southeast if that gives perspective.  The east gate post on the south fence is on the very right side of the picture.

It isn’t going to be a big pond, considering surface water.  It is deep—maybe over ten feet.  I am disappointed in the final dirt covering.  While the clay-like soil will be good for holding water, I am afraid it won’t be growing beautiful grass. 

Alan, the machine operator has a great deal of experience with all forms of dirt work.  He recommends we plan wheat as soon as possible.  It will hold the sides until next spring when we can plant grass.

Note:  The pond I wrote about several weeks ago is our neighbor’s.  The Cat is leaving our pond for another local destination.  There is some talk we have a “keep up with the Jone’s” pond thing going in the neighborhood.  I do know, when words gets around there is ground being moved, there is at least one or two visitors a day checking it out.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Hostess Donettes


My friend Sue brought me a gift last Friday when she stopped in for a quick visit and lunch.  Always clever in her shopping, she grabbed up several sacks when she saw a display in Walmart for $2.  Here is what they are going for now on Amazon, just in time for Christmas.

Donette food valueWe won’t be missing these on a diet.  Six of those little things are 360 calories and a 22 g. fat!! 

Interestingly enough, on the back of the sack proudly displayed is the insignia of the Baker’s Union—the organization that ultimately brought them down.  However, from what I hear, the company was headed into bankruptcy anyway.

Still, a sad closing to an iconic brand.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

There’s a Cat in the pasture….

Finally, after 34 years, we’re putting in a pond.  The combination of a dry year and the Cat in the neighborhood  was the deciding factor. 

One day’s work has made quite a difference. It was too dark for a good picture tonight.


The pond we’ve looked at for years is all but dried up. The KWP is not going to clean out that pond so it holds more water. Now, the small pond we are building is on the drainage for the old pond. It will probably will not come back even when it rains. We walked down to inspect it Thanksgiving Day.  If we get a really hard freeze, I don’t see how any living thing in it can survive.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Rappn’ egg hens

We made the little chickens, but they didn’t quite look like the original—a little disheveled.  Or, maybe just groovin with the sunglasses look.  IMG_1945



Sunday, November 25, 2012

Never discourage help in the kitchen

So, we decided—or maybe I decided—to have Bacon-Potato Soup from Carolyn & Lloyd Wulfkuhle's Anniversary Cookbook for supper on Friday evening.  I had the recipe bookmarked and ingredients purchased to double the recipe.

Bacon-Potato Soup
8 slices bacon (to double I cooked the whole pound)
¼ c. chopped onion (to double I just chopped the whole onion)
3 c. water
½ c. chopped carrots
2 ½ chopped potatoes
¼ c flour
¼ c water
2 c milk
 Cut bacon in small pieces, combine with onion and brown.  Add 3 c. water, carrots and potatoes.  Cook till done (about 20 minutes).  Mix together flour and ¼ c. water and add to hot soup, stirring constantly.  Add milk and cook till warm.  Serve with cheese & crackers.  Serves 4

I fried the bacon while Drue & Kim assembled the other ingredients.  We got as far on the instructions to, “Cook till done.”  That's when things began to change.

Kim tasted and decided we needed to add all the left over turkey.  Marc tasted and added some cajan style seasoning.  Then Drue opened a can of chicken broth & dumped.  I'm pretty sure at least two maybe three packages of my garden raised frozen corn went in.  There was some talk of white wine—not sure about that.  About that time we stirred in thickening from recipe.  I distinctly remember thinking that wasn't enough milk so poured at least a half cup of whipping cream.  Kim & Marc had brought a bag broccoli.  At the last minute, Kim had precooked those and they went in, along with the rest of the fresh parsley chopped.  

This simple recipe ended up being the best “Potato Bacon Soup” I've ever tasted!  And, that's why I never discourage anyone from helping in the kitchen.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Giving Thanks for Family and Food

I can’t say I was stressed about Thanksgiving dinner yesterday because I enjoy planning, precooking and then seeing all the last minute dishes come together.  It was nice, though,  to hear the knock announcing  Kim and Drue coming to help.  Then a little later Drue’s Mom brought in the makings for Mimosas.  That’s when the fun really started.


Wasn’t it a beautiful day?  The wind turned late in the day, but not before many footballs were thrown and we tramped around the pasture.  It was an extra nice Thanksgiving all around,  for me anyway.

Yes, we did do a little shopping this morning—in downtown Topeka.  We certainly did not fight any crowds.  In fact, it was fun and we supported local small businesses.  First, we stopped by Classic Bean for coffee and hot tea.   A few doors down the coffee went exceptionally well with  Hazel Hill Chocolate.  It was hard to make up our minds but we enjoyed a treat and brought some home.


Then it was on to Wolfe’s Camera, a long-time downtown business.  I never am disappointed looking around that store.  There are plenty of knowledgeable people to help with any camera or photo question.  A few things were checked off the gift list as well.

This afternoon Dan, Doug, Marc and Aaron cut wood.  And, from all reports a productive experience.  Might have been good that it was cooler today. 

Meanwhile, the rest of us made cut out, frosted cookies.  Those were so good we never did get around to eating left over pumpkin pie.  By the way, we learned anything containing cream cheese should be refrigerated, including frosted cookies.  There weren’t too many of our cookies left to worry about fitting in the refrigerator this time.

Then there was the soup.  I am saving that story for tomorrow.  I’ll just say our Friday soup supper is why I never discourage anyone from joining me in my kitchen! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Turkey (1)_thumb[6] IMG_1914-2

Those who have followed me for a while know that I always put the same picture on my blog this day.  I’m adding a new one this year.  Not sure why I find the turkey hiding theme so funny. 

My turkey is baked, boned and in the refrigerator.  Our entire family will be here this year so I’m trying to get as much as possible out of the way so I can enjoy them. 

I’m also trying to have a “no can” Thanksgiving.  I think the green bean casserole will be great without the canned soup. However,  I’m caving  and using canned pumpkin.  Real cream instead of condensed milk, though.

I am feeling excited and very thankful this evening and know it will carry over for the weekend.  I’m hoping each of you are feeling the same.  Thank you for following along.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Be Safe

This ad has shown in the UK since 2010.  It is a very effective reminder.  (Thanks Chip for the heads up)

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Season

Is it the fall-like weather?  Or the fact we do not get a daily paper which also includes sale advertisements.  Or maybe it’s because I am especially looking forward to Thanksgiving.  For whatever reason I have not thought much about the Christmas Holidays. 

That is until tonight. 


Our friend and neighbor Stephanie and her daughters Rebecca and Rachel came by to borrow three eggs for Rebecca’s birthday cupcakes.  Since we recently purchased the Diet Sierra Mist Cranberry flavored soda,  I retrieved my Mom’s water glasses from the back of the top shelf.  Everyone seemed to enjoyed the low cal refreshing drink in the festive glasses.  

This is an example of the little things I enjoy about the Holidays.  A wonderful time of year and it’s time for the Season!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving week

Random thoughts…..

We wondered sometime back in late September how long before we turn on the furnace this year.   Well, not yet.  The combination of cloudy day and low temperature when we are home is the key.  The sun is moving south so the south windows gather enough passive solar to do the job.  Now, I will admit that here in my office on the north side of the house, I have used one of those little ceramic space heaters once in a while.

Time to break out the disinfectant wipes.  There are bugs out there that want to play havoc with Thanksgiving plans.  I have a cold right now.   The one big thing I’ve learned in recent years is rather than cover my mouth with my hand, I should bring my arm up and cough & sneeze into the inside arm.  Simple yet makes so much sense. 

We attended a community Thanksgiving gathering at Clinton this evening.  An informal group of bluegrass musicians got everyone up and clapping.  The combination of music, friendliness of neighbors and homemade cookies and cocoa made me thankful to be in a community that has been able to retain many of the rural values both Dan and I appreciate.

Looking forward to seeing all of our family this week.  There will be pictures!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Southern cooking & deer

Good friends of ours, Phillip and Gayle,  have visitors from North Carolina.  They are in this part of Kansas to hunt.  More specific, bow hunt deer. 

They have been here all week.  Well, not really at our house.  Their deer stand is behind our house down on the Wildlife & Parks land.    They have seen plenty but they are looking for big boy. 

IMG_3519-11So far, no luck.  They are patient, though, so who knows. 

Since they are hunting nearby, we invited them and Phillip and Gayle for dinner tonight.   Phillip provided the Elk roast.  Very good.  That’s from someone who doesn’t particularly like game.  With the meat, I had mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and apple pie.  I also wanted one truly southern recipe.  So I went searching.

I found my Best of the Best from South Carolina,  near enough to their native state, I thought.  I like this cookbook because the recipes are truly southern, but simple.    And, it got compliments from the gracious southern gentlemen.  It would be a different way to serve sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving.  If you are serving it to true southerners, put out honey or molasses.  I tend to serve biscuits with jelly or jam.  

Sweet Potato Biscuits

3 cups flour
2 heaping tablespoons baking powder
1 teas. Salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups mashed cooked sweet potatoes
½ cup sugar
¼ cup milk

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in shortening with fork or pasty cutter.  Combine
warm sweet potatoes and sugar.  Mix well.  Add milk.  Combine sweet potato and flour mixtures.
Blend well.  Place on floured surface and roll to desired thickness or about ½ inch.  Cut with biscuit cutter.  Bake on a lightly greased baking sheet about 400 degrees for 10 minutes.  We had plenty left over after serving six.  The recipe says it yields 2 to 3 dozen.  I must have a bigger cutter because I didn't get that many.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A few loose ends


This is the nearly finished pond with the completed dam.  That trench I showed a few days ago is a long way down.


IMG_1942 Why is everyone BUT the birthday girl acting like they are getting ready to blow out the candle?  It appears we’ve established some kind of precedence with this time honored tradition.


eggs I might have to make these for Thanksgiving.  To be a turkey, they just need a little something for their end.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Disaster Training

Dan and I are now a part of an Early Response Team.  We spent the day in training, learning there is more than turning up with a chain saw.

The ERT training is part of UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers In Mission) which is also part of a larger group of organizations that coordinate volunteers when disaster strikes.  We are required to pass the basic training today, take an additional class on Safe Gatherings and pass a background check.  At first, it might seem a bit extreme just to help with clean up.  There are very good reasons for these regulations.

A point that was mentioned many times today is that volunteers must be invited  in to help after a storm.  The people who have suffered losses must be treated with upmost respect and care.  Their personal belongings the same. 

Secondly, we learned we will be placed in a group.  And, within that group will be people placed as leaders according to their ability and talent.  Just like in any workplace, it is important to maintain order.

Contrary to popular belief, FEMA does an excellent job of helping where they are needed.  The instructor today had participated in many cleanup areas.  He said he was amazed at how quickly FEMA showed up with bathrooms and bottled water, the two most important immediate needs.

At the present time, we should expect around a three month time frame for our approval.  That would be in time for spring Let’s hope we are not needed.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Happy Birthday, Kim

scan0019 I thought you might like this picture on your birthday.  It is so good of you with Mom and Dad looking so much like we all remember them.  Then there is Dan peeking over your shoulder.  We were all so proud of you receiving your DPT from Creighton University that day. 

This election year reminds me that Dr. Bill Roy, my pediatrician, was also running for the US House the year you were born.  The birth was on Monday and Dr. Roy won his election on Tuesday.  On Wednesday he came in to see us.  Only it wasn’t only him, he had a whole entourage with him.  It was quite a deal.

We were in the hospital for three days.  During that time, Dan built a little shelf unit out of walnut for the nursery.  I think it has hung in some room ever since. 

So many of our life references revolve around this 1970 birthday.  Oh, let’s see, we built a house when Kim was four so that was 1974.  Kim looks like she was five in that picture with Bell’s puppies so they were born in 1975.  Doug’s 1972 birthday is very important to us, but that even year is so easy to figure. 

So, again, Happy Birthday, Kim.  Have a good one.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

There’s that widget again

Once again I have added a Twitter add on widget to the left side of the blog.  This may be the third or fourth time I have put one on there.  It always seems like a good idea at the time but then I don't tweet anything new and it just looks tired.

Actually, I am not sure about Twitter.  How could anything I do be so important that I need to immediately put it out there for people to see, especially given I don't really have a knack for catchy one or two sentence messages.

So, why do I have the little gadget back up there? I am going to try to put one tweet up a day for a couple weeks to see how it goes.  With the thought that I need to be watching for something in my life that is positive and interesting or positively interesting to write, maybe I'll become more observant and/or perceptive. Even thankful.

After all, it is the season to be thankful.  And,  right now  I need to work on being more optimistic.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Daniel C. Fitzgerald writes Kansas

As promised, this started out to be about the Reverend Richard Taylor, our own Berryton person of history.  I got sidetracked.

A simple search for Rev. Taylor brought up Daniel Fitzgerald’s web site. That was over an hour ago. 

Fitzgerald has written three books on ghost towns of Kansas.  His top ten list is here.  After writing three books on ghost towns of Kansas, he wrote, “Ghost Towns of Kansas: A Travelers Guide.”  Definitely, this needs further research.  Dan and I enjoy Kansas travel.

He writes about his travelers guide book here where he also has a list of all the ghost towns in his publications.  (To my cousins:  Skiddy is not included)  Richland, our four-mile-away ghost town is not included, but it is a Clinton Lake casualty.  Probably towns forced out of existence because of a Corps of Engineer reservoir is a book of its own. 

Then, I see Mr. Fitzgerald is starting a new web site.  So, I began checking it out and came upon this article entitled, “Top Ten Kansas Locations” located here at the bottom of a list of other interesting articles.

It is refreshing to read articles written by someone who knows and loves Kansas. 

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Royalite typewriter



Actually, the typing looked better than my sample.  Although I think the keys need cleaning. 

I know…what I am doing with this typewriter.

The Rev. Richard Taylor’s estate auction was today.  Rev. Taylor  lived in the Berryton community for many years.  He was a lobbyist for the Kansas Legislature.    More about Rev. Taylor another time.

I did not expect to buy anything at the auction, but picked up a number just in case.  We were standing near a table in the process of being sold when a Navy issue wool blanket came up for sale.  Only one other person bid and I got it for $10.  Amazingly, there are no moth holes.  It currently is in the deep freeze where it will stay for a couple weeks.  That will kill anything lingering.  It might go in the camper—there is no warmer blanket for the weight.

Then I bought Rev. Taylor’s WWII Navy officer government issued coat and overcoat  for $3.  I think I will dry clean the overcoat.  It is in excellent condition—wool with no holes.  For anyone looking for vintage, it is a find.  I might try Ebay.

What about the typewriter?  $2.50.  Well, I was on a roll and it is in like new condition,  has a case,  instruction book and guarantee with the date of purchase (5-31-60).  It too will go on Ebay. 

One last thing on the typewriter.  Remember those typing tests where accuracy was so important?  I have been reminded that correcting an error is time consuming and tacky.  And, we’ve totally taken cut and paste for granted.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Pond, Phase I

Our neighbor is putting in what will be a beautiful pond.  First, in order for the dam to hold back the water properly, this trench had to be dug down to the rock shelf. 


The trench will be filled up with clay soil.  According to the contractor, this should seal the dam.  Meanwhile there are two earth movers taking out beautiful black dirt.  I think we are hauling some tomorrow.  More pictures later. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

What am I reading:

Winter of the World by Ken Folett.  This is a sequel to Fall of Giants.  It is a hefty book, nearly 1,000 pages.  I like Folett’s books because they have an unbelievably intertwined storyline along side historical events.

Give me a couple weeks and I’ll let you know.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The NorthStar is ready to hibernate

So far, we have always taken care of winterizing our campers before any damage by freezing.  We might have pushed the limits this year—twice.  Both times we camped in low 20 degree weather.  Everything was fine, mainly because we ran one of those small heaters with all the cabinet doors open.  But, we decided not to test it any further.

So, today we drained the lines.  We still need to put compressed air into the system.  That gets out the last of the water.  Not a big deal to take care of, but we tend to put if off.  Maybe just don’t want to give in to winter.

We have camped after winterizing.  We just have to carry water.  It is simple to pour RV antifreeze into holding tanks.  In fact, we are thinking of a little Christmas roadtrip.  We’ll see, things can be very busy this time of year. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Big win for the Cats


We were fortunate to obtain tickets for another KSU game yesterday thanks to our neighbors who had a conflict.  Kansas State played Texas Tech, a good team ready to upset our Cinderella season. 

The KSU 55 vs Texas Tech 24 final score doesn’t reflect the close first half.  The players and coaches figured it out and obviously the second half went much better. 

Once again we took our pickup camper to tailgate.  It worked even better this time because we had a little extra room where we parked.  With the boys along, it was nice to have a bathroom.  Kim and Marc brought their tabletop heater.  We also brought the propane cylinder we used several weeks ago, so we were toasty.  Really, it was a beautiful football day, though.

We didn’t grill, just warmed Kim’s pulled pork on the stove.  After the game we had Nachos.  As usual, lots of snacking in between.

I was a picture slacker.  For some reason, I came away from the fun day with only one picture—taken on my phone.  No excuses other than I forgot my good camera.  Pictures taken on my phone are not very good but better than nothing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Just Good Trade displays

Just Good Trade is our niece Amy Kay’s Free Trade store in Jacksonville, Illinois.  We hopped up to see Amy Kay, Sebastian, Atticus and Dane after leaving the Hermann area.  It is only about a one and half hour drive.

Despite on and off drizzle rain, we helped with a couple projects for Amy Kay’s store.  One was to haul a door jam and door taken from a remodel project in a local church to the store.

If she would have asked me for suggestions to display the merchandise, probably the last thing I would have thought of would have been an old door.  But it fits very well with the used furniture she is using for her displays. 

photo (4)   Amy Kay and Atticus figuring a sale and Sebbie modeling a warm hat.

2012 10 Atticus

2012 10 Sebbie

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Peanut Butter and Pickle Sandwich

I can't believe someone else likes this combination!

This was one of my favorite sandwiches in my lunch pail while attending Acker School in the 1950's. I prefer dill pickles, the small circle dills most people put on hamburgers

Here is the link to the article about this delicious sandwich in the New York Times.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Daniel Boone Conservation Area

As I mentioned, the Conservation Area is a new find unbelievably near to the Hermann vineyards.  It was nearly dark and damp when we arrived Friday night.  But, what a surprise Saturday morning to wake up to brilliant fall colors all around us. 

IMG_1827 We enjoyed two nights parked in this spot.   Saturday night all our group came out and sat around the camp fire until 11:00. Thankfully, we were able to stream the KSU game or I am sure we would have lost a couple of people earlier.

This conservation area was originally donated a former Conservation Commissioner A.P. Greensfelder.  Later purchases brought the area to its current size of 3,520 acres.  There is a seven mile hiking trail and several fishing ponds. Deer hunters were plentiful so we didn’t explore—maybe another time.

Here we are enjoying a bottle.

IMG_1818  It is a good group—lots of laughs. 

A last minute side trip has us in Jacksonville, Illinois tonight. More on that tomorrow.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fall road trip - Missouri color

Our idea to swing into southern Missouri on our way to Oktoberfest around Hermann turned out to be a good one. Last night we stayed at Bennett Springs State Park. We just assumed there would be no problem with a spot to stay. And there wasn't--only because we were there on a Friday night. We were told the park was completely booked the rest of the weekend. It is no wonder because it is a beautiful place in the fall. Also, because of the spring trout are released in the river and this is the last weekend for fishing.


We briefly stopped at the outlet mall at Osage Beach. Just not in the mood to shop. It is huge, though.

From Jefferson City, we took Hwy 94 east to Hermann. This is a beautiful fall drive. It follows the Katy Trail and all the little whistle stop towns. We topped at a rummage sale at one of them. It is a good way to hear a little local news.

We are parked tonight in Daniel Boone Conservation Area. The entrance is about three miles east of the Hermann river bridge on the north side of the river, still on Hwy 94. The drive north up into the area is beautiful, as is where we are parked. It was heavy clouds and a little rainy so no pictures tonight. I won't be leaving without getting some in the morning, though.

Tomorrow, wine!!


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Debate on a feed

It would seem as if I have my head in the sand if the Presidential debates aren’t at least mentioned. 

As we all know, Twitter has made its mark in today’s news reporting.  News feeds on that site from troubled areas of the world are now almost expected.  After the first debate, there were summaries of trends on Twitter which made me curious.  So, tonight I brought up a direct feed of the debate on the computer where I mostly listened but watched if an interesting point came up.  Then I also brought up TweetDeck with a column showing only the #debate feed. 

There were two times particularly when the comments were so quick and numerous that there was no way they could all be read.  The first was when Gov. Romney mentioned “binders full of women” and the second was when Pres. Obama said “gangbangers.” 

My assessment of this way of taking in the debate is people who tweet about this sort of thing fall into two categories, trying to be cute and supporting their candidate.  Still, it was interesting and maybe worth a try.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Find your next scenic drive on

Find your next scenic drive on

I have spent some time checking out this web site by looking at drives we have taken to see how they are presented.  I thought all were well done.  Note that when checking a specific drive on the provided map, you can have the map show only campgrounds, eating places, etc.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Rain = one and a half inch

It’s been a while.  A nice, slow rainy day.  A day of doing a few things around the house and watching football. 

Leaves are turning beautifully around here.  And, they seem to be still on the trees despite the rain.  That is good because there may be a fall tree peeping trip in our future….

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Joker – A Marble/Card Game

Joker Rules
Point of game—get all five marbles from one home to another much like Parcheesi.
Four people – two decks of cards—partners across the board (can be played with 6 or even 8 people but requires a different board)
Each person gets five cards.  After a play with a card, draw back to five
All face cards and Ace brings a marble out—if used to bring marble out, no moves are made with the card.
Moves on board:
Face cards 10 moves
Eight card only moves backward
Seven card can be split between two marbles
All other cards move according to their number
Joker: player who plays a joker can either replace partner's marble with own or send opponent marble home.
Marbles are sent home if landed on by opposing team's marble in a move determined by a card.
Marbles landed on by own team get sent to base of home row—an important fact when using the Joker for partner's benefit.
The board uses five marbles for each player. From the place where marbles are moved out, there are eight moves to the right and ten moves to the left.
If partner gets all marbles home, all subsequent moves are for partner.
It only takes one round of play to see benefits of certain plays that are too hard to explain here. Most important is to get the board right. (The picture is deceiving, the board is square)  If anyone wants the plan, let me know. I will cut a paper the size of the board and mark the marble spots & mail it to you. Or, if close by, Dan would make one for you. It is a fun game with just enough strategy to be interesting.
Thank you Kay & Lynn for bringing this game to us from Arizona.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


Back when Kim and Doug were in school, we looked forward to attending their functions.  When they graduated, there was a little sadness that it was all over.  Guess what, we are back attending school events, watching grandchildren.

Regretfully, we don’t get to see Trent and Carly in Colorado participate as often as we would like.  However, when we were out just a few weeks ago, I sat in on both their piano lessons.  Then all of us got to attend Trent’s flag football game.

This week we will see Adam sing at his school fall musical.  The gym will be packed with parents and grandparents supporting music—always a good thing. 

Tonight was Aaron’s last 7th grade football game.  Here is a picture I think he wouldn’t mind me posting.

IMG_1711 - Copy

Sunday, October 07, 2012

KSU/KU football and camping

October is our favorite time of year to camp considering fall colors and temperatures.  So, when our neighbors, Christi & Tom, called when the football tickets went on sale wondering if we would like to go with them and Christi’s folks to the game and camp out the weekend, we jumped on the plans.

What fun!   The football game turns out to be exciting.  KU makes an interesting first half but KSU prevails in the second half.  Mutual friends Lucille and Larry come over after the game and help us eat the Milk Can stew.  We end up playing cards until late.  Dutch Oven breakfast casserole this morning. Treasure hunting.  First Geocaching then Christi’s fantastic find where the water has receded from the drought in the Tuttle Creek lake area. 

Oh, and it was cold!  Who would have thought when we planned this in 100 plus temperatures this summer that we would be seeing 27 degrees on our thermometer this morning!  Thanks to thinking ahead, we had shelter from the wind and a warm outdoor heater.  Both our campers have furnaces so we stayed toasty to sleep.

I have pictures.  However, my SmugMug website is temporarily down.  As soon as it is back up and running, I will put up a link to the slide show.  You’ve got to watch it just to see Christi’s big find!

Note:  Hover with mouse to start or pause slideshow.


Click here if slideshow doesn’t show.

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Milk Can Stew

KSU 56 KU 16. Celebrating

Later:  The stew was wonderful.  The milk can belonged to Christi and Tom.  Here is how they make the stew.  Layer the following.  Cut up unpeeled potatoes, carrots, celery, ring brats, cauliflower, cabbage, corn on the cob, and any other vegetable or seasonings that the diners might like. Add one gallon water.  When the whole potato that is placed on top is done, enjoy.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Fire before the storm

Camping out at Tuttle Creek before the big game tomorrow. Might be chilly in the morning but we will warm up for the game

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Joyful Noise, 2012

Most would agree after eight years,  Symphony in the Flint Hills is the premiere music event in Kansas.   Joyful Noise, a day long event sponsored by the Symphony in the Flint Hills and hosted by YMCA Camp Wood near Elmdale, is a precocious two-year-old,  finding its own success in a smaller and more intimate musical experience.  My friend Sue and I found a great deal of Joy and beautiful Noise in our day there.

Traveling southwest on the turnpike, the sun rose in our rear view mirror signaling a nearly perfect day.   We arrive at Camp Wood just in time to register and eat breakfast before orientation in the main hall.  It should be noted that the day is advertised as a “Music and Prairie Family Camp.”  In addition to all forms of musical gatherings there are workshops for people like Sue and me, who come to not only enjoy music in sound but also in word, art and story.

Turkey vultures circle in thermals, rising gracefully above the patio outside the main dining hall as Dr. H.C. Palmer, a retired physician and poet, begins his class by suggesting we think of a poem about these very birds.  Dr. Palmer and Emily Hunter Connell, Executive Director of Symphony in the Flint Hills share their beautifully written works.  Here we are, writing about turkey vultures, one of my favorite birds, and I only think of how to incorporate buzzard and my nagging question as to whether they have a nose.

Art class is equally entertaining.  We laugh and create.  Well, Sue creates.  I laugh.  We both learn.

We break for lunch and then two hikes looking closely at the Flint Hills prairie, searching for what is nestled down in the grass that might be good for us to eat in a pinch.  Also, we learn how it is that cattle thrive so readily in that same grass.  Speaking of cattle, a real cowboy teaches how to rope and ride while herding.  Finally, Jim Hoy, Professor at Emporia State University and author tells stories about colorful and hardworking people living and working the prairie in Chase and surrounding counties.

After the evening meal, we all meander up the YMCA hill for short performances by music groups that met during the day.  How they sound so good with just an hour of time in each class speaks to the outstanding musical staff provided by Emporia State University.   Then, just as the sun begins to set,  the perfect day ends with the Twilight Prairie Concert, featuring Eugene Friesen, Cello and the Emporia Symphony Orchestra enthusiastically conducted by Jeremy Starr.  What an inspiration not only for young people but all of us to hear Emmy Award winner Dr. Friesen play his own beautiful, unique compositions. 

While not as promoted or outfitted as the Symphony in the Flint Hills, Joyful Noise has charm, down home appeal, and personal attention.  But, at the end of the day both equally share the music. Wrapped by the Kansas Flint Hills it is the merging of art and nature that brings feelings of Joy to all blessed to attend.IMG_1574