Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Birthday, Joy!

Today is my favorite oldest daughter's fortieth (gasp) birthday!  Forty years ago, my life began.  Neither Norm nor I can remember just what we did before we had our girls but we remember distinctly what we did after they came and brought LIFE into our lives.  Joy is the joy of my life!  

I do not have pictures of her as a baby as I am at her house and my pictures are at home on the backup external drive.  So I put some up when I get home.  I am staying here until tomorrow morning.  Until then, here is a picture I took from the dining room window of my three girls working in the yard.

Happy Birthday, sweetie!!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Granddaughter heaven!

Bitty and Bubba have been here since Saturday and will be here until Monday — a total of nine days.  They are so grown up - Bitty is fifteen and Bubba will be thirteen in about a month.  They have been a great help around here as well as a pleasure to have.

They have washed dishes, set the table, cleaned the table off, washed dishes.  With two extra in the house, we do use a lot more dishes and pots and pans.

They have also done chores for me in the morning, then Norm’s chores at night.  Also they have helped water the little bit of garden we have and my potted herbs.  When we washed clothes on Monday, they hung the clothes up and brought them in.

I am limited to the amount of time I am outside at this time of year.  The sweat bees that “everyone” says are harmless are the ones that have caused me grief (and trips to emergency rooms) in the recent past; I stay inside to avoid any chance of getting stung.  Having the girls here has helped immensely with that problem.

Let’s see what we’ve done - salsa sauce one day; they went over and helped brother-in-law Wayne with weeds one day; four dozen ears of corn frozen today; working on the siding with Norm, helping re-build my front deck (was taken down two years ago when the front was re-sided).  They are taming down the wild kittens in the barn.  Oh, yes .... soap made one day, too!

Craft wise, they have been embroidering, crocheting, tatting.  And listening to “Les Miserables” ... over and over and over again!  I’m glad they are “into” my kind of music but it gets a little tiring to hear it all day, every day.  I put my foot down and said we’d listen to some other music today - so it’s been other musicals that they know and like.

I have enjoyed having them here - they are so happy, bubbly and loving, as well as helpful.  Norm and I will miss them when they go.

However, I get to take them home and will stay until Joy’s birthday, so I will be around them a little bit more.

 Bitty is tatting

 On the roof with Grandpa, painting the siding

 Spook is a GREAT help!

 Crotchet work

 Bubba loves her crochet hook!

 Corn, corn everywhere!

It’s a beautiful day today, even though it’s hot and muggy again.  You have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wistful Wednesday

Today's picture is of my grandmother, Nana, and the three Childs great-granddaughters.  These are, from your left, Joy, Jill and Brook.  Brook was born on Nana's birthday, which made her a favorite.  I believe this is, I believe, Nana's 95th birthday.  We started celebrating every 5th year with a special celebration when she hit 90, then every year, I think, from 95 to 100.

Nana lived to be 101, dying just a few days before her actual birthdate.  

I used to tease her, when I was young, that I was her favorite grandchild.  She said - at that time - that she couldn't afford to have favorites.  With 8 children, numerous grandchildren and uncounted amounts of great-grandchildren running around, even at my young age, if she had a favorite, the others would be upset.

However, when Brook was born, Nana HAD her favorite and no one objected.  Not that she treated her differently, monetarily, but she just had a little bit more twinkle in her eye when Brook was around.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Threshing Bee

Norm and I did not go to the Threshing Bee in South Dakota this year - and missed seeing my cousins, Ruth and Jerry.  But Candy and I did our (now) yearly stint in Butterfield, about forty-five minutes away from us.

We do not demonstrate in costume (Candy’s request) but we have two tables that carry samples of a lot of the stuff that we do, books and tools.  I spin and weave, as well as knit a little bit; Candy normally does her rug hooking.  How many of you can brag that you have a hooker for a sister?

We went in separate cars - Wayne and Norm joined us for the day and helped us set up.  Wayne yelled at me (well, fussed and picked on me) because I had forgotten the extra chairs that I like to have.  I like having a chair next to the wheel / loom for guests to sit down and really talk.  I remembered the next day, for sure!

The boys then went wandering around, looking at tractors and looking for food.  Candy and I got to work, demonstrating and talking to people, mostly women, about the crafts that we do, the crafts they do and would they like to learn more?

Since it was our anniversary, Norm took me out to lunch - a Polish “hot dog.”  I was going to get something else but the food options are not very good there  - there are three places that offer meals but the lines are always very long and the wait is long, as well.  The only other choice is popcorn or ice cream or the Polish.

Joy and family were coming down and they stopped at the Bee as well, to look around and have lunch.  The girls didn’t do much walking around.  Bubba had brought her spindle and sat (we had found a bench by then) or stood, spinning.  Bitty grabbed my wheel and spun, as well.

Everyone headed home after the parade, then I took Candy home and headed home where pizza, pina coladas and cheesecake awaited me!

Next morning I collected Candy, taking some chairs along, and headed back to Butterfield.  We demonstrated, talked, walked, drank water, demonstrated and talked.  We both had sore throats after we were done!  At four, we tore down and put everything in my van and I took Candy home (well, she took ME to HER house, as she usually drives when we are together); we unloaded her stuff and I drove home to find everyone either on the roof or around that area - Norm and Ken were re-siding the east end of the upper part of the house.

Bitty and I made supper (leftovers) while Bubba and Joy helped outside. Another pina colada helped me sleep overnight!

Joy and Ken stayed overnight then headed home Monday morning.  Bitty and Bubba are staying until next week when I take them back up to the Cities.

Plans are simple - freeze, can, make soap, do crafts, watch a few movies.  The girls are trying to tame down the three wild kittens in the barn; they also are doing chores, hanging out clothes and doing most of the outside stuff that I should be doing.

However, the sweat bees are out and I need to avoid them so I stay inside as much as possible during this time of the year.  It’s great that the girls can do a lot of my chores right now!

So, now, here are some pictures of some of the demonstrations that we had in the craft building at the Threshing Bee.  I don’t have pictures of the girls, yet, but will get some this week.

It’s been beautiful this past week, it’s a beautiful day today - you have a beautiful day!

We had a cyclist from Anchorage, Alaska, ask to spin as she was getting withdrawals

Candy is getting closer to finishing her Scottish Thistle pillow top

 This gal paints gourds, plates, anything!

This is a "cannonball" gourd - and Wayne purchased it for Candy (I'm jealous!)

 There is a group that does candles - children can make their own candles - it's very popular!

Caning a chair

Beautiful work!

 A group of spinners - the young gal is using her antique wheel

 She spins extremely fine yarn

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Forty-five years ago!

Happy Anniversary, Norm!  It's hard to remember not being married!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wistful Wednesday

This is a picture of my dad and some of his family.  My dad, his mother and father in the back and his youngest two sisters in the front.  Annabel is on the left (from our view) and Betty is on the right.

This picture was taken in about 1936, a year before his mother, my grandma Childs, died of cancer.  That would have made Dad about 16.

My dad had an older brother and two older sisters, who were probably all married and gone by this picture.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fran is back!

My Scottish friend, Fran, had gone "walk-about" on the Internet.  Her site was not coming up and I couldn't find her anywhere - and had lost her email address in the move from one computer to the next.  But she has posted a comment on my blog so that I could find her again.

Her new address is Witchcraft Extravaganza Inc, and a lovely place to visit it is!  Welcome back to my world, Fran!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Baking Stones

I have been the proud owner of a pizza stone for nearly ten years.  Well, I’ve gone through a few, so it would be honest to say proud owner of several - most of them now deceased.

I love making pizza and son-in-law Ken loves it, too.  When he and Joy were first married, they lived 45 minutes away from us (normal speed / traffic).  If I told him that pizza was in the oven, he’d make it to our place in less than 30 minutes!

Pizza stones are fantastic for pizzas and for bread.  But when I started making longer loaves of bread and wanting to do two pizzas at a time (our now larger family loves pizza and one - homemade - is not enough), I started looking into  baking stones.  These are rectangular and I would be able to put two pizzas or two large loaves of bread on one. The size is about 14" by 17", whereas the pizza stones are about 16" in diameter; the rectangular stone would almost double the baking surface.

Saving money is always a priority around here, as long as the item will work.  As I was looking for baking stones, I read an article about purchasing paving stones instead of the more expensive baking stone. 

I measured my oven, looked at the normal sizes of the baking stones and started to look for the paving stones.  I was warned to get the un-glazed ones because of chances of lead in the glazing. 

Norm thought I was being foolish, but agreed to help me look in several of the self-help stores (Menards, Home Depot, various hardware stores).  I finally found paving stones at Home Depot - they were 8" by 14" so I got 2 of them for 68¢ each.  They were 2" deep and very heavy (about 12 pounds each), but I figured that at least I could tell if I truly wanted a baking stone and if I didn’t, they would be handy somewhere in the garden.

I got them home, washed them (without soap) and put them into the oven to dry.  Now, I have a pilot light so the oven runs about 100º on the average even if it isn’t turned on (makes a good drying rack for herbs but that’s another story), so the stones dried quite quickly.  The next morning, giving the stones a good chance at drying, I turned the oven on and baked them at 400º for about 30 minutes to give them a test ... would they break?

However, there was a concern that the oven rack might break.  The weight of the stones made it bow in the middle, which also made the stones uneven instead of flat.  Not much, mind you, but enough to cause a little concern.

 Look at the bowing of the rack

No, the stones didn’t break from the heat so I whipped up a pizza dough and baked a pizza that very night.   All instructions for stones say to pre-heat the oven at 500º for about 30 minutes, so I did so.  Then I put my dough on parchment paper just in case there was some “foreign” stuff in the stones and turned the oven down to 400º for the suggested 20 minutes.  I turned the pizza (my oven is not quite even) at 15 minutes, then took it out when the crust was brown and the cheese was melted.

Even though the pizza had a thin crust, the bottom was not quite cooked crispy like I wanted, so the next pizza, I pre-heated the oven for 45 minutes and the crust was a little better.

I thought my problem was that the stones were too thick and it would take a much longer pre-heat for them to heat through for the desired crispiness.  I was not willing to pre-heat the oven for an hour, as that would be a disadvantage, financially.  However, I DID like the stones .. they were almost the size of the oven and made a great size for my breads (although the breads didn’t have the desired bottom crust, either, and some were not baked all the way through). 

I looked, again, at the “real” stones on-line and decided to go with a commercial one from  that was only about half an inch thick.  The cost had dropped from $50 to $35; I have a “Prime” membership which, for $75 a year, gives me free shipping on almost everything that I would ever need.

Since I live an hour from any “decent” store for electronics, baking essentials, books, movies, music, etc., I get most of my personal and gifting items from; therefore the “Prime” cost is well worth it.

I told Norm that I would get a “real” stone, which he first objected to, because of the cost.  However, I told him that I felt that I would eventually save money because I wouldn’t have to pre-heat the oven as long; he finally agreed.  Ordering it from my favorite on-line store gave me the two-day free shipping and I had it in my hot little hands quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson” (or nearly, anyway).

I took the paving stones out of the oven and asked Norm to take them outside, then washed the new stone (without soap, of course) and placed it in the oven to slowly dry.  The size is right - almost the same size as the  two paving stones put together but the weight is half - only 12 pounds total.  The oven rack was still bowed, but it has now slowly relaxed and straightened itself up.

The new stone is much thinner and a lot lighter

 Extra large pizza

I whipped up some pizza dough, pre-heated the oven for 20 minutes (maximum time I wanted to have the propane oven heating), placed the pizza on parchment paper to protect the stone’s pristine surface and baked it for 20 minutes.  The crust was perfect!  

Just LOOK at that crust!
I then baked some French bread, with the 20 minute pre-heat and was totally impressed with the bottom crust and with the middle of the bread - there was no doughy-ness as had been with the thicker paving stones.

Norm was impressed, as well and did not fuss at the extra cost of the “real” stone.

And my expensive 68¢ stones?  They are out on the edge of the driveway, holding an old board which is the shelf for my containers of herbs.  The containers are off the hot driveway, which helps keep the soil from drying out too quickly.  A happy solution for all concerned!

It is a beautiful day today - our excessive heat has dissipated and the dew point has dropped to a VERY comfortable 57º.  The humidity (the old way of measuring moisture in the air) is a comfortable 44%, as well .  You have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Wistful Wednesday

Well, sort of - this is a moment in MY past.

I was cleaning out my corner cupboard (reasons will be explained, later) and re-discovered this:

And, opening it, re-discovered this:

Now, of course I know what it IS!  It's an Eastern Star pin!  

But the question was: who gave it to me?

My Mom, Dad, Norm and I are (or were, in our case) members of Eastern Star.  But I knew that Mom hadn't given it to me.  As you can tell, the lining is rather stained - and the pin itself is very old.

I asked Mom if she knew - and she couldn't remember.  

But then I remembered that my Uncle Goosey (Gus) was a Mason and he started Dad in the Masons.  Therefore, Auntie Pete (Mildred) must have been an Eastern Star.

Then I started thinking back in my foggy little memory - and remembered that Auntie Pete gave the star to me years ago.  And, if I remember right, it was an heirloom from a relative .. and if I remember RIGHTLY, I think it was my Great-Aunt Clara  or her daughter (my second cousin) Esther.  Mom, am I remembering right?  Were either of them Eastern Stars?

Anyway, I wouldn't wear it because I am not longer a member but I will treasure it and write down the history as I remember it so that my children and grandchildren will know where the star came from.  I have dusted it off and will put it back into the re-organized corner cupboard for enjoying.

And that is something that I hope to do with all my treasures - let the ones that follow me know the history of what I have so that it will continue to be treasured.

It is a beautiful day today - the humidity is down drastically and the actual temperature is how it feels.  Such a relief after all our heat in the recent past.  You have a beautiful day.