Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chex mix 2009

Every year Larry makes chex@ mix. Each year he improves upon the last year. Each year he plans and collects the ingredients. Then, come the days that my kitchen is his and I come home to baking and stirring and the smells of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. 'Super Larry' is faster than sound, more skill than Bobby Flay, more efficient than Rhoda the robot as the chex@ mix goes from box to roaster, to oven, to cool down, to bag. I tried to catch him in action. The best result is all a blur. Here is a photo log of the 2009 event.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Welcome Alexander David

My sister's family recently welcomed a new grandson, Alexander David. To celebrate this wonderful event I began working on this applique quilt. Cassie showed an interest and it became a mother/daughter project. The starting point was 15 cookie cutters and 15 pieces of washable knit fabrics. It always amazes me what a few simple shapes enhanced with basic stitches can describe; a scotty dog, a bat, an elephant or Wilbur the pig. The border is black fleece and the backing is green fleece.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

3 sisters and 5 cousins

My wonderfully talented, beautiful, creative and generous niece invited us for a delicious and seasonal Halloween dinner. There were broomstick and ghost bread sticks along with a ghostly green dip for shrimp on a table scape of spiders. Dessert was a tray of hand made caramel apples decorated in a variety of candies and nuts. Every one a work of art and delicious.

For entertainment we were treated to a DVD of an Uncle and his ukalalie singing his rendition of a song I am unfamiliar with. It was 'delightful'.

Above are three of the aunts and 5 cousins well sated and full of Halloween happiness.

Parenting the neighbor part 2

The guy next door moved the river rocks from the fence-line and then pushed construction materials against the fence. I suppose talking to the police is the next step. Crud-o-la.

The top pic is the remaining crop of pumpkins after I harvested a monster of a pumpkin a few weeks earlier. The bottom pic is the 'vicious' miniature doberman dogs that patrol the yard next door day and night.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Parenting the neighbor

The people who live in the house next door have two dogs who like to dig. So, they paved their yard in black and white gravel a few years back. The gravel was brought up to the bottom of our fence ( a foot into our yard from our joint lot line). This year they decided to use river rock in their yard. It was piled against the fence in anticipation of putting in a water feature. I noticed this change in July and went over to ask them to pile the rocks in a way that did not push against the fence. This followed my request that they not lean their canoe and paddle craft against the fence, earlier in the Summer.
The woman of the house did what every person who has parented a preteen girl has witnessed. It was the tsk, eye roll and hair toss as she told me the rocks would be moved. Later in the week her husband informed me the rocks would be moved that weekend.

September 19, I talked with the husband who told me the rocks would be moved. I told him I would move them if he did not by October 4. We had an interesting conversation that ended with me calling him a liar and him admitting it. The pictures of this posting were taken October 3, 2009.
October 4th there was activity that ended in a 2 X 12 (?) board barrier put up on the other side of the fence. I have not had an opportunity to investigate this further because there are irises to be split and raspberries to be tended to. So... more to come.
This over the fence tussle has brought out some responses born out by frustration leading to soul searching and prayer. I do not understand how someone would think it OK to encroach on a neighbor's property. I do not understand how someone would delay correcting encroachment once pointed out. Civilized people do not interact this way. When I stopped trying to interact with the people next door as an adult to another adult and asked God for help, it came. The goal was re- established to have the rocks moved so they were not touching the fence. This did not necessarily need to involve the people next door. The school yard dust kicking was stopped and I began to see the rocks as abandoned and now belonging to me. I would just add the relocation of the rocks to my list of yard work to do. At present, there may, or may not be rocks to move. There is no need for us to have landscaping touching the bottom of the fence. One of the projects on my list of yard work to do is to remove dirt from beneath the fence so the ground is no longer touching it. Problem completely solved.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


The coneflower patch attracts birds. Yesterday morning I noticed a yellow bird and grabbed the camera. I think this green bird is a finch. The yellow bird took off.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


My grandmother kept currant bushes in her garden and made some of the best jellies from it. Red currants are indigenous to this continent and care must be taken not to substitute these tart berries for the currants used in European recipes, which are tiny and sweet and much like grapes. The three pictures below are currants in snow, in bloom and in berry. This variety is red lake.
I have made it my mission to develop recipes to use these productive berries. Currant sorbet was wonderfully refreshing for those of us familiar with the berry. Too tart for others. Substituting up to half the amount of rhubarb with currants in the recipe works well in a rhubarb custard pie. It was a bit seedy in a sauce. So much to explore. So little time.
Of course, there is always the jelly. I usually make it using a commercial pectin. The other day I found my entry currant jelly recipe from the early 1990s used for a Wisconsin State Fair competition. This recipe was made without commercial pectin. It takes a bit of time to cook down the jelly from juice alone. It also intensifies the flavor. When I tasted this jelly my lips puckered up and my wisdom teeth sang out.

How to make currant jelly without commercial pectin

Before cooking:

1- Buy a house.
2- Plant 3 currant bushes.
3- Smile when the children build a sled hill on the bushes.
4- Prune all the broken branches and those larger than my thumb.
5- Buy sugar and hunt down a grocery store manager trying to find 8oz jelly jars. Buy out all the jelly jars at K-Mart.
6- Pick the bushes clean before the branches are flattened out permanently from the weight of the currants.
7- Rinse in water to clean the berries, cook to boiling in just the water left from washing them. Strain through clean old table napkins ... don't squeeze.
8- Freeze the juice.
9- Go on vacation.
10- Come back from vacation and defrost the currant juice.

Cooking Currant Jelly
11- Measure 5 C Currant juice, 5 C Sugar, 3/4t. Lemon juice into a large kettle.
12- Bring the liquid to 220°F, stirring constantly or it will scorch.
13- Have clean inverted jelly jars, lids, ladle, funnel and tongs on hold in a pan of simmering water.
14- Have the work surface prepared with a clean dry towel to place the hot jars onto when filling with the boiling jelly and lots of hot pads.
15- The procedure for the canning portion must be done quickly to avoid the introduction of airborne bacteria.
A- Remove one jar from the simmering water.
B- Place the funnel in the top of the jar.
C- Ladle the hot jelly into the jar stopping 1/4 - 1/8" from the upper edge.
D- Pull one lid from the simmering water with tongs and place on the jar.
E- Immediately tighten a screw band over the top of the jar.
F- Invert the jar for 5 - 10 minutes. Meanwhile fill the next jar.

Note: This is a traditional method of canning high acid foods. I am scrupulous about cleanliness and quickness of processing with success in my canned goods. Should you not be confident in your skills, use the hot water bath method I describe for re-sealing a failure described in G, below.

G- Turn the jar of jelly upright and let cool to room temperature. At this point the lid will seal and as the jelly cools a vacuum is formed pulling the center of the lid into a concave shape. This can be tested by pushing on the lid. If it goes down and springs back it is not sealed. If the lid does not seal by the time the jelly is cooled refrigerate the jelly and use right away, or remove the lid, carefully wipe the top edge of the jar with a clean cloth, replace the lid with a new one, screw on the ring band and process in a hot water bath. (5 minutes in a pot of boiling water 1" above the top edge of the jar).
H- Remove the screw bands of the cooled jelly and wash the outside of the jars.
I- Label the lids or jars with 'Currant MM-YY'.
J- Store in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Church Campout 8/9/09

On the lake

Enjoying the beach

Watermelon ready for watermelon rugby

Lighting the bonfire with an explanation of why 'green' is a great color.

Camp out Sing-a-Long

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cassie Rock Hopping Memorial Day Weekend 2009

Cassie doing a narration of her Lake Superior rock hopping on Presque Isle off Marquette Michigan.

Memorial Day 2009

Before the ceremony
The band is in place.
The ladies from the 'post' are ready to place the flags.

The band plays.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

What Larry did on his vacation

The storm on the bay window needed to be reglazed this Summer. So, Larry and I took it off to work on it in the garage. Then, we noticed the wooden shutters were rotting and needed some repair. Upon further inspection, we decided to take them down and forego any repairs. The last time the siding was painted beneath the shutters was probably 3 or 4 colors ago. Of course, the rain gutters on the addition are the same color as the siding. The pictures of Larry on the ladder are of him scraping the rain gutters for the new color.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Uncle Fay's 80!!

This is the birthday boy.

The End. 6/27/09