Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Very Full Week

This week was BUSY!  Here are just a few pictures from my day on Thursday:

Shriner's Circus came to our school. 

I love this event. 

3200 children from all over our district watching!

 Lions, and Tigers and Bears...oh my. ...
This year the tigers performed outside (much better than inside...that made me nervous)

Most of the children in our district would never get to attend a circus without the Shriners.  They do a great job with the animals, the performance,and reaching out to our students.
Pure fun!

After school, John and I walked across the street to a block party at Union College.

The students are arriving back and our sleepy little town is hopping. 

You can certainly tell that the students are back!
It was a great evening.

I thought that this was especially funny to have a "wanted" picture of the Judge! 

I did mark a few big things off of my TO DO list this week even though the house hasn't been vacuumed or dusted, the garden hasn't been weeded, no fall plants were planted and the lawn still needs to be mowed......

It seems like when you work on the big tasks (or having fun), the maintenance falls by the wayside.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Essentials in My Kitchen

Days seem to go better if I can be thankful for small things. Today I'd like to mention just a few items that have made my life in the kitchen so much better through the years.

My Bosch mixer....I use it for everything. I have never had any trouble with it and have owned it for maybe twelve years.....I bought it and a wheat grinder at the same time. It makes the best homemade bread!

During the holidays, nothing can mash potatoes faster and whip up sweet potatoes and the topping that goes with them. I love it because I don't have to hold it while it works. I just toss everything in and turn it on! It works great for cakes too.  The bonus is that it's a blender also and makes very good smoothies.

The other kitchen tool that I absolutely adore is this one....

John calls it the instrument of death. And to be fair, it could cut off a finger in a split second. But since all cutting and chopping has some risk of dismemberment, I'll take the chance for the HUGE amount of time it saves me. Using proper precautions of course! It's a Swissmar Borner V-Slicer. 

 It can turn these potatoes

Into these hash browns in under three minutes.

And the best part is that it doesn't require electricity!

These things just make me happy!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Childhood Reading

Each summer when school let out, we would load into the station wagon every two weeks to make a trip to the library.  The book check out limit was six books for two weeks.  During the summer, we always checked out the maximum!  If we all finished them early, Mom would take us back to check out more.

One of my favorite books that I found one summer was "Strawberry Girl" by Lois Lenski.

I read every book our library had by Lois Lenski that summer. Her books took me to places all over the United States in her Round About America series long before Internet or cable tv. When my girls were old enough I wanted them to enjoy them too. The problem was...our library had only one.

I started looking on eBay and found quite a few. Now the collectors have stepped in and the prices have skyrocketed.  You can still find some of them and a lot of library sales have these books. I'm so glad I was able to find these.....

( Sorry about the sideways picture....still learning how to blog!)

I don't collect much....but I know if I had to pack up and move someplace smaller, I'd find space for these wonderful books.

The books we read as youngsters have such a huge impact on us. If you like the Little House on the Prairie series....these are worth a look!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Love of Gardening

It started when I was just a child....Mom grew a little garden under the kitchen of our ranch style house.  What did she plant that I remember? Carrots and snapdragons.  I'm sure there was more, but that's what I remember.  I can still see her fingers moving the dirt from around the carrot for us to see if it was big enough to harvest.  And could there ever be more excitement when you squeeze the sides of the snapdragon blossoms and see them open up?

(My pitiful attempt at carrots this year)

Mom always liked to garden and to this day still has prettier flowers than I do.

In 1998 our children were getting older and we had no place to grow a garden.  I wanted them to have the experience of planting something and harvesting the goodness of the earth. We had a very small yard with a tree right in the middle. We planted some border flowers, but I really wanted to grow vegetables...and a lot of them.

Ben's godparents, Bill and Dorothy own a farm. 
 A big farm with cattle, goats, corn fields, and big tractors...

They knew what they were doing and if willing to do it ,could teach us everything we needed to know.  I asked them early in the spring if they would let us help them garden so we could learn how to do it.
They said "Sure."
We didn't really think about it again until one Sunday after church, Dorothy said, "The potato patch is getting pretty weedy if you still want to help."

(It would be better to have a picture of the potato patch, but I can't find one and will have to keep searching. 
This is a grape vine that I was getting ready to cut early this summer when I saw this!)

"YES!"  We were on it.  I think John was away at drill that day.  Dorothy had a great time entertaining the children and somehow I ended up all by myself in the potato field.  It didn't take me long to figure out that it was more than "a little weedy"! That day I learned what a potato plant looked like and what a weed that looked almost exactly like it was. 
Some potato plants didn't make it.

Later, Dorothy told me she knew I was serious about helping when I didn't give up.  The reward in the fall was pure excitement!  I love digging potatoes!

(This is my all time favorite picture of Ben.  Dorothy was the photographer)

We spent hours planting and harvesting green beans, peppers, corn, tomatoes, and potatoes.  It was hard work. For four years after everyone got home from school and work, we would drive fifteen minutes down a curvy road to the farm.  We'd work until dark, load our dirty bodies and buckets of produce into the car and head home.  The next day would be nonstop preserving. 

We share-cropped (free labor for produce!) with Bill and Dorothy until we moved to our current house where the yard was big enough for me to plant on my own.  They helped me learn so much. I am so thankful for their willingness to share their knowledge with us.

Gardening is something special that we did with our children.  I am so glad that we did. A lot of nights it would have been so much easier  to say, "Let's just stay home."

(Don't you love the ear muffs?  Ben never liked loud noises when he was small. This was an experiment to see if we could plant the sweet potato field using the corn planter.  It didn't really work very well, but it sure made a cute picture!)

I've planted a garden almost every year in this house. Some years the gardens were great and others...not so good.  We've also shifted over to all organic and I'm still learning about how to do this on my own.  But that's a whole different post....and will have to be part two.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Celebrating Twenty-Three Years

In the past, I've never really been that sentimental about anniversaries.  Well, maybe the first few, but after that, what seemed more important was that we should treat each other as if every day is our anniversary.

In small ways, we confirm throughout each and every day our commitment to each other and our lives together.

Here's an example...John knows I'm a morning person so he makes the coffee at night and sets the timer to go off and be ready for me first thing in the morning.  I reciprocate by taking a cup to him in bed each morning when he has to get up.
(He's not a morning person)
 He helps me around the house, I never have to ask.  He always comes to me first and says, "What can I do to help you?" He even will ask when I'm in the middle of a hormone induced breakdown....brave man!

I'm sure that a big part of me not making a big deal about our anniversary is because so often it falls on difficult days. 
Weekday celebrations are often difficult when the day you got married falls during the first week of school.  Weekend celebrations usually fall on the weekend of the month that John has National Guard duty.

For this reason, we've just taken time somewhere around our special day to try to do something special.

John always sends flowers...

And we try to have some time alone whether it's for a walk or even a quick dinner out.

One of the best ways we celebrated one year was to take our family with us on a trip to this place......

It was one of our most memorable!
I loved sharing our special day with our children.

This weekend was, of course, National Guard.  I was able to get away with John and since he finished early  for the day, we decided we could make it to church in time for evening Mass. 

We went to the old one first because Road Mate on my phone didn't have the location of the new one.

 After a Google search we found it...

The difference in architecture was HUGE!

It just seemed so fitting to thank the Lord for the blessed life he has given us together.  Mass was amazing.  The priest gave a stirring sermon that challenged us to keep moving forward  in our faith.

It was a good day.

I am very blessed to have such a husband.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Just a Late Summer Day.....Until

I took these pictures of flowers in our back yard this morning and had planned to write about the waning days of summer. 

The last full bloom on the butterfly bush....

A bee gathering pollen in a yellow squash bloom...

Fading flowers...

And then while I was making dinner....this happened to John's car.....

The car ended up being just slightly damaged.

Unfortunately, our tremendous oak tree at the back of our house is stressed. 
We have been losing branches all summer after a rather severe storm with straight line winds hit us early in the spring.   This tree shades us from the relentless afternnon sun. It's beautiful, and I fear it may be fatally damaged.

I'll be calling an arborist tomorrow.