Monday, April 28, 2008

Fishing Expedition







My son Kevin brought out my grandkids a few days ago to try out their luck fishing. I enjoyed the chance to get to sit on the dock and watch the kids fish as well as catching up on what is going on in his life. How fast time flies as one gets older!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chocolate Gravy like mom's...

















I have a friend Noel who emailed me a recipe for Chocolate Gravy that her aunt use to make when she was growing up. I got up this morning and decided it would be a good day to try it out and see if it tastes like the gravy my mom use to make. It was wonderful. I also made homemade biscuits to go with it. Sure brought back memories of getting up on Saturday mornings as a little girl to the aroma of homemade biscuits baking in the oven and mom stirring up chocolate gravy in the cast iron skillet. By the way, nothing cooks better than cast iron skillets, so if you don't have any, you should hit your local flea market or antique store and buy yourself one!

Chocolate Gravy:

3/4 cup sugar
2 Tab. cocoa
Mix together (add more or less chocolate, according to how dark you like your chocolate)
2 Tab. (level) flour or corn starch
1 1/2 cups water

Mix the water in dry mixture slowly so it will not lump.
Cook over medium heat until thickened. Serve over hot biscuits with butter.

Old Time Root Cellar


Well, the big question waiting to be answered is "Do we clean out the old root cellar this year or just build a new one?"

Years ago, the old homestead here had a root cellar, but someone before us threw a bunch of junk into it. Trees have also grown on top of it. I love the fact that it was built by hand.

I think it would be neat to clean it out and do what the owners of this land before us did--fill it full of root vegetables and especially potatoes. I wonder how many tornadoes drove the early owners to this old cellar as a place of safety? What kind of stories could it tell if it could talk?

Couldn't help but throw in this picture of the red bud tree up by the old cellar also.

Burn, Baby, Burn!!!


Tool Belt Man decided it was a good day to burn the brush pile that had gathered "stuff" over the winter. He also took the tractor and loader and hauled the dead limbs and large trees that had fell around the yard and barn up to the pile to be burned. I always love it when we burn the brush piles because I hate brush piles cluttering up my scenery.

New Way To Plant Potatoes



I read about planting potatoes above ground in tires or barrels and as the potatoes grow, you add dirt as you go. So why not make planter boxes and add additional layers as the potatoes grow?


So Tool Belt Man got out the handy old tool belt and we headed down to the greenhouse. He built two planter boxes, put down some black plastic and then headed to the mulch pile to find the most decomposed mulch.


On top of the black plastic was put a fairly thick layer of straw. The kids loved throwing the straw in their hair but it won't be so funny once they start itching.

Tool Belt Man dumped the mulch into the planter and leveled it out with a shovel. Of course he had all kinds of help as you can see.







Then it was time to plant the potatoes. We may have planted too many potatoes in each box, but we will see. The potatoes that I planted in March must have washed out or drowned from all the rain we had because I only have a few plants coming up. Lot of work for so few plants! So I am counting on getting lots of potatoes from these beds. According to the magazine article, potatoes grow on the stems of the potatoes , so if you keep adding dirt as the potatoes grow, then you will have potatoes growing all the way up the plant that is under the dirt. Then when the potatoes are ready to dig, you just start taking down the planter boxes one level at a time. Much easier than digging with a potato fork--assuming it works. We shall see.
















I couldn't help shooting this picture of my grandson playing the part of a plumber as he played with his truck.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Happy 90th Birthday Great-Aunt Myrtle!

Interview with Myrtle:
I was born on April 25, 1918 in Missouri. My parent’s names were Maggie Ann Frye and William Clarence Frye and they chose the name Myrtle May Frye for me. I had three brothers named Charlie, Earl, and Leslie. I also had a baby sister named Velma who died from double pneumonia and whooping cough when she was a year old. Charlie disappeared in his 20s on the way back from California and was never heard from again. We wrote to the sheriff in the last town he called us from, but no one there had heard of him and they were unable to find any trace of him.
My family lived through the Great Depression and that has affected the way that I have lived the rest of my life. My father fought in World War I, and two of my brothers fought in World War II.
While in high school, I worked as a secretary and walked to work everyday. One day a man pulled up in a car and he offered me a ride. I accepted and after that he always drove me to and from work. He was several years older than I was and his wife had been killed in a tragic car accident and he had 2 sons who were my age. We married on August 27, 1937.
Grant worked for the Missouri Pacific Railroad and he built miniature trains as a hobby. He also built other children’s rides and we set them up in our yard and let the children in the town have rides. In 1953, we started Kiddie Land in Pittsburgh, Kansas. It was a children’s amusement park with miniature rides. Grant built most of the rides there, including a miniature Ferris wheel and train that drove around the park. We ran the park for 8 years until we sold it in 1961. It is still open during the summers and many of the rides are still the originals that Grant built.
One of Grant’s other hobbies was fast cars, he always had to have the newest and fastest cars there were. He even wrote a letter to the Studebaker-Packard Corporation in Detroit and told them that their new car didn’t go as fast as they said it would. Grant bought me my own pink Cadillac and I drove it everywhere. We also had matching Indian Motorcycles and took lots of road trips in a day when it was not common for women to ride motorcycles, much less drive their own.
In 1942, Grant and I took his motorcycle and sidecar to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. We traveled all over Colorado on the motorcycle and I was stung by bees and yellow jackets while riding in the sidecar. We went to the Royal Gorge and the highway was almost all down hill and rocks were sliding down the sides of the hills and onto the roads. I held my breath the whole way down. We went out on the bridge and I carved our names on it, while standing on it I could feel the whole bridge swaying in the wind. We spent one night in a cabin where we could see Pike’s Peak, which is named after one of Grant’s relatives.
Grant and I never had any children of our own and we spent our marriage working on Grant’s hobbies, traveling and spending time with our families. Grant died on New Year’s Eve 1980 and I have “adopted” Grant’s nephew’s grandchildren as my own. (Interviewed by one of Myrtle's Great-Great Nieces)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Call Down Those Squirrels

My grandsons love getting down "poppy's" binoculars and looking out the glass door to see what they can see. A couple of days ago they were out in the yard chasing a squirrel. The oldest grand-child was doing his version of a "squirrel call" that someone had taught him and lo and behold , the squirrel was coming down the tree. Maybe it was just curious to see what the kids were doing, but coming down the tree it was. The littlest one just stood there and giggled and giggled. When I went out there to check it out, the squirrel spooked and ran away. It is also the same squirrel that I found atop my bird feeder up next to the house. So we had Tool Belt Jim get us some corn so we could feed the squirrels that and maybe they will leave our sunflower seeds alone. When it started getting towards evening and the kids had to come inside , Koda cried and cried.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Time To Restock The Pond


We use to catch some pretty big fish out of the pond, but it has been a few years, so we decided to do some restocking. We ordered channel catfish, hybrid bluegill and a thousand fathead minnows! Sounds like a lot but the minnows came in a pretty small bag. It's the little things in life that make it special and we want the grand-kids to enjoy watching the fish come to the surface and "beg" for food. When my daughter and youngest son were little, we had a neighbor who stocked his pond and every night he would go down to the dock and throw out the fish food. How they loved watching the fish come to the surface and have a feeding frenzy!

The day to pick up the fish dawned warm and beautiful. We loaded the big black tub into the back of the truck, filled it with pond water and off we went. The kids had been waiting for the big day so we picked them up on the way back through. Tool Belt Jim dumped the fish in the pond while the kids watched with excitement.



They could hardly wait to go fishing!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Rachel's Lasagna


Lasagna

Ingredients:
1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 large onion, diced
1/4 large green pepper, diced.
Oven ready lasagna noodles
1/4 cup sugar
1 28 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 28 oz can (16 oz) stewed tomatoes,
diced 1/2 6 oz can (3 oz) tomato paste
1/2 lb Ricotta cheese
1 cup of cottage cheese
1 1/2 lb Mozzarella cheese(slices or shredded)
3/4 lb parmesan cheese
2 tsp. Garlic Powder
2 tsp. Oregano
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
Salt
Garlic Salt
2 tsp. Parsley
1 Garlic Cloves, minced
White wine vinegar

1 Brown lean ground beef with diced onions and peppers in skillet until lightly browned and cooked through. Drain on paper towels.
2 Transfer browned beef, green pepper and onions to 3 Qt. pot. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, and diced stewed tomatoes. Add oregano, parsley, Italian Spice Mix. Add garlic and a pinch of garlic salt, to taste. Add a dash of white wine vinegar. Add sugar a couple tablespoons at a time, until desired level of sweetness, no more than 1/4 cup of sugar.
Stir and allow sauce to simmer 15-45 minutes to thicken (do not scorch bottom, stir frequently). Remove from heat.
3. Mix the cottage cheese and ricotta cheese together in a bowl.
3 In dry lasagna pan, ladle one cup of sauce and spread along the bottom of the pan. Apply a layer noodles on top of sauce. Ladle sauce sparingly on top of noodles. Then Layer:
Mozzarella Cheese Ricotta/Cottage Cheese Parmesan Noodles Sauce
Repeat until pan is filled
If you have extra sauce you can spread that over the top followed by a layer of Mozzarella cheese. Tent lasagna pan with aluminum foil (not touching noodles or sauce). Bake at 375°F for 45 minutes to an hour (until noodles are tender when poked with a fork). Allow to cool before serving.

Too Precious For Words!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Locked In The Greenhouse


After Tool Belt Jim put up my first greenhouse, which consisted of a tubular frame covered with greenhouse grade plastic, I spent my first evening excitedly working around inside. My husband left to go to the house and my absent-minded son helped me finish watering the new seedlings. I heard him puttering around outside and then to my dismay, he reached up and locked the door and took off for the house. Thinking he was being funny, I said not a word. But , imagine my surprise when he didn't come back to check on me. I waited and waited, yelled as loud as I could and finally picked up a hammer and began pounding on the wooden door with it. All to no avail. By now the sun had gone down and the air was definitely crisp. Luckily there was a full moon and I had a long-sleeved shirt with me.

I sat on the bench and considered the state of things as I seen it. Obviously, I was not in the thoughts of my family, which at this point in time consisted of my son and husband. They apparently never missed me through supper and I knew my husband would soon be going to bed, apparently never giving me and my whereabouts a thought. My only hope of rescue seemed to be of Tool Belt Jim going outside to get wood to put in the stove before he went to bed. So I began my vigil of waiting.

Now I realize the greenhouse is made of clear plastic, but it had taken me a long time to get a greenhouse and I had no intention of picking up a knife and ripping that plastic the first night I had it up. No way. And somebody in my family better durn well begin to wonder about me. I could hear my son-in-law who lived next door to us come home from work, but I knew he could not hear me from across the field. I could see the light on in my son's bedroom , but he was probably drummin and couldn't hear me either. It's a little humiliating to realize your family could go to bed and never give you and your whereabouts a thought.

Eventually, I seen the motion light come on as Tool Belt Jim did come out for wood. And he did hear me hollering and came down and unlocked the door. Never again will I put a lock on the outside of a building! My family thought the whole escapade rather funny, but I was furious. Tool Belt Jim did send me flowers the next day with this on the card, "I'm sorry we didn't miss you last night, but how could you really be locked in to something that's made of plastic?"

He missed the point!

Summertime and Bare Feet


When I was little and it was summertime, we went barefoot a lot. Here are some things I remember about being barefoot:

The feel of mud squishing between your toes
The damp softness of a moss covered rock
Wading in a cold stream looking for crawdads
The feel of warm sand while walking down the dirt road
Burying your feet in a carpet of thick grass
Trying to get shoes on for church after going barefoot all week
Getting stickers in your foot
Stepping on a rake

Monday, April 7, 2008

Spring has arrived!







I made a quick tour around the yard yesterday to see how things were doing. My ornamental pear tree was in full bloom and covered with bees. I tried to get some of the bees to show up in my photograph, but even though they were everywhere, none showed up in the picture. Oh well.


Then I surveyed my windmill. It looks pretty bare now with just the Yucca Plants beside it, but when summer gets here, there will be a vine with huge white flowers growing all the way to the top and sometimes so thick, it hinders the moving of the spinning wind director. It is really beautiful when the Yucca Plants are in bloom.



Then I checked out the flower beds and my hostas are starting to come up as well as my daylilies and other plants. Spring may really be here at last!! I am so ready!!!




I went down and laid on the dock yesterday and soaked up the sunshine, listened to the birds and watched the fish jumping in the pond. The dock is the place where I can go when life is starting to get stressful . There I can begin to "quiet my soul within" . I believe if you are at peace within , then no matter what life throws at you from without, you can handle it. Reminds me of the line from the old song, "It is well with my soul." Hope you have a dock in your own life--a place where you can withdraw for a short while and meditate on scriptures such as the one in Psalm 46:10 which says, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Death

While walking along the sidewalk in front of his church, our minister heard the intoning of a prayer that nearly made his collar wilt. Apparently, his five year old son and his playmates had found a dead robin. Feeling that proper burial should be performed, they had secured a small box and cotton batting, then dug a hole and made ready for the disposal of the deceased.

The minister's son was chosen to say the appropriate prayers and with sonorous dignity intoned his version of what he thought his father always said: "Glory be unto the Faaather, and unto the Sonnn, and into the hole he goooes."

Happy Birthday, Kevin!!!


Thirty-four years ago today I was looking into the eyes of my new-born baby boy. What a special day that is to new parents! That little child has turned into a wonderful young man that I am very proud of. Today he has a wonderful wife and five precious children of his own. I honestly cannot take the credit for him turning out to be such a kind, compassionate, patient, gentle person, but I am proud to tell everyone he is my son. It is such a good feeling to look upon your offspring and see them doing better and going further than you did. I hope and pray our children learn from our mistakes and are better people because of them. Oh, to have the wisdom of old age while we are young enough to benefit from it. Hope you have the best day ever Kevin and I love you , my first-born!

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Biggest Bird Feeder Ever!


I love birds. Big birds, small birds, plain ones, pretty ones, noisy ones. I love them all! So one of the first things I wanted when we moved to the 80 acre homestead was a bird feeder. And I figured with 80 acres of birds to feed that I would need a very, very large one. So Tool Belt Man and my son went right to work. They built it so that it would have siding on it and metal on the roof to match our own house. I thought it turned out incredible!! Of course, my son took all the credit for a job well done!!

My son is now 20 years old and the giant bird feeder is still looking good!

By the way, Tool Belt Man loves to remind me that I tell him "the wren is the loudest bird in the forest for its size." He doesn't have the same appreciation for birds that I do.

Life Can Be Hard Sometimes..


I have a tree in my yard that reminds me that life can be hard sometimes. But, the important thing is what you do with those hard times. You know that old saying that goes, "when life throws you lemons, make lemonade." Sometimes, if we will let Him, God uses our hard situations to cause us to grow. I do not know what has happened to this tree, but instead of growing tall and straight , it's main trunk bends way over. If it could talk, I am sure it would have a sad story to tell of what has caused it to bend so low. But, it makes a perfect tree for hanging a porch swing on and watching the activity going on in the 80 acre homestead. From under it's branches, I swing slowly and reflect on life's happenings. And I want to be one that can go through life's hard situations and come out the other side a better person because of them. How about you?

The Seedlings Are Up!



I waded down to the greenhouse yesterday to water my flats of seeds and little green shoots are up from the tomatoes. The cucumbers have been up for a few days and are really too big to keep covered but it is too cold to leave the plastic cover off. This year I am planting as many heirloom seeds and plants as possible. Still way too wet to even do much except tip-toe around the garden, but I am checking everything out.

I have some lilies and peonies and clematis vines planted around the outskirts of the garden, and they are also all up. I am especially happy to see the peonies because they were moved last year and peonies don't like that. They have lived a pretty nomadic life as they were originally found in a friends cow pasture and I rescued them from their cows. Then when we moved from our house in town to the homestead, I took them with me. They didn't do much where I planted them out here, so I moved them down by the greenhouse where I could give them more attention. I have a picture of me in my graduation gown standing by my mom's peonies, which were always so beautiful. Nothing smells more wonderful than peonies!

Usually, I have beautiful lilies and maybe it is too early for them to be coming up, because I am not having much luck with them. I need to make a trip to a friends farm and get a load of cow manure. I scattered cow manure one year in a flower bed before I planted lilies and they grew as high as my head. They were fabulous! This new fertilizer we buy in the store just doesn't compare to the real stuff.

A few years ago Tool Belt Man and I traveled to western Kansas so he could go prairie dog hunting and while there I was given some four o'clock seeds. At that time I put them away someplace where they would be safe and I found them this week. Being seeds they should still be o.k. to plant. I have fond memories of trailing after my grandmother when I was very little , with my little pill bottle in my hand and picking 4 o'clock seeds off the plants. It's funny the things you store in your mind as special.

Do you remember the old fashioned Tiger Lilies? Mine are just popping out of the ground. I planted them and day lilies because my mother always loved them. My dad and mom have the most beautiful daylilies and before my mom got sick , they would travel around and bring back new varieties of daylilies wherever they would find them. Some they rescued just before the bulldozer got to them. My favorite daylily is called "Gentle Shepherd" and has a cream colored flower. Then I love the Stella De Oro's .

I could go on and on about my favorite flowers but I will add pictures as I go along. How I love Spring and the wonders of watching new green shoots popping up everywhere. God certainly knew what He was doing when He had Spring following the dull, drab days of Winter!