Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Knock, knock...

  • It was a year ago Sunday that a relative (NOT one of our children) moved in with us.  With a "gentle" shove, he finished moving out  and slept at his new place last night.
  • I hope and pray he does good and stays on the straight and narrow.  It would be nice if he would begin to make smart decisions too.  Please.....
  • For the first time in a year Jim and I played pool last night.  I won, by the way.
  • We also stood upstairs and yelled - just because we could and nobody was going to hear us and wonder what was wrong!
  • The assisted living facility where my MIL has been living for quite a few years quit accepting Medicare patients.  Her money from the sale of her house ran out this month, so we had to move her.
  • We found a skilled nursing facility in a little town nearby that we feel good about.  They only have a total of 30 patients and all of the attendants, nurses  and doctors we've met so far seems very nice.  The place is clean.  The food smells good.
  • We moved Jim's mom yesterday.  She is NOT happy with us.  More accurately, she is royally pissed at us.  Jim and I always have to be the bad guys.  It's not fair.
  • Did I mention that I am happy to have my house back?
  • The list of honey/wedo's to reclaim our space is going to be a mile long.
  • It begins with cleaning the downstairs bathroom and ultimately remodeling it. 
  • The downstairs bedroom has a maroon/burgundy carpet in it.  That sounds ugly but it really is very pretty.  I'm thinking of painting the walls, bookcases and baseboards shades of gray.  Then all my stuff in its many colors can add spice to the room.
  • The weather here has been gorgeous.  It makes me feel guilty as I watch on the news the terrible effects of Irene.
  • My son told me over the weekend that he is 35 - not the 34 I said he was when I did a birthday blog for him.  That means Tessa is 37.  I wonder now if I got that wrong too.  Where do the years go?
  • I'm making a quilt top.  I haven't decided yet whether I am going to hand quilt it, machine quilt it, or have someone else do it.  Decisions, decisions...
  • I bought material to make two more aprons.  It is a sickness, I tell you... it really is!
  • Months after I completed physical therapy for arthritis and bursitis pain, I am still pain free.  Exercise, exercise, exercise.... it is worth it.
  • So, what is gong on in your world?  I'll catch up on blogs again soon.  I promise!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Under the Skin

The gods were smiling down on me.  Seldom do I win anything, maybe because seldom do I enter to win anything.  But books are one of my best friends in the whole wide world.  So when a book is on the giveaway table, I enter.  Yes I do.  When my blog friend, Vicki Lane, hosted a drawing for three copies of a bound galley copy of her new book, Under the Skin, there I was with my greedy little hand held out.  I'll bet you figured out by now that I was one of the winners.  I WON!

This book is the fifth in the Elizabeth Goodweather series, set in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains.  The other books are Signs In The Blood, Art's Blood, Old Wounds, In a Dark Season, and The Day of Small Things.  Read them.  All of them.  You will be very glad you did.

Vicki Lane takes me to a place I have visited a few times and fell in love with through touristy eyes.  She invites me into the mountains and introduces me to the superstitions and ways of Appalachia.  I have not finished reading Under the Skin, but what I have read so far has not disappointed.  It is a darn good book!

Now for an unexpected observation - at least unexpected  to me. You see, I've been enjoying my not so new anymore toy, The Nook.  It goes everywhere with me.  I download books from the library and from online stores.  My cookbook is with me when I go to the store.  If I need to know a recipe ingredient, all I have to do is wake up my Nook and look it up.  My Nook library includes some of the Classics like Little Women and Pride and Prejudice and The Bible.  And for the record... Angry Birds is addictive.  I love my Nook. 

The unexpected observation is:  I miss my books.  When I pulled Under The Skin out of the envelope and held it in my hands, it felt good.  As I flipped through the pages, it felt good.  I'll even admit that I sniffed it.  It smelled good.  As I soaked in hot, soapy, water, reading, it felt good.  (I dare anyone to take a Nook into the bath tub... double dog dare even...).  Books are an experience, an event, a get away - whether paper held in hand or swiping fingers across a device.  But there is nothing like a good BOOK.  And that is what I am holding in my hand today.  A good book.

Thank you Vicki Lane.  Thank you for sharing your mountains with me, autographed "For Deanna, my online friend!  Vicki Lane".  I treasure it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Best laid plans...

Our free Rural Electric monthly newspaper has a section advertising events around Missouri. 
Usually we read it and lament over events we missed.  We say to each other, "We could have gone to that!"  or "That would have been a lot of fun."

So we were pretty excited when, as we sat drinking our coffee, Saturday morning we looked through the events and saw there was a Bluegrass Festival going on in Dixon.  We're big bluegrass fans.  Dixon is a tiny town of around 1200 located 60 miles or so from us.  The scenic drive is along two lane, winding, hilly, blacktop highways.  As we topped hill after hill we'd gaze off into the distance in wonder. 

As we drove into Dixon we noticed the town seemed to be unusually quiet for a place hosting a Bluegrass Festival.  After driving around like lost souls for a bit, we finally stopped and asked.  .... Yes, we asked for directions!.  Some local group was hosting a BBQ in a parking lot and a kind lady told us the Festival Park was back the way we had come.  She had not been there before, but if there was a festival, that would be the place.

After we did a bit of backtracking, there it was - the bluegrass pickin' campground.  But it was empty.  Dead.  Nada.  Apparently our little free newspaper got the date wrong.  We now know the festival is held on labor day weekend.  From the looks of their website it is going to be a pretty big deal. 

Our reaction to the mis-information

So how does that saying go?  "When life gives you lemons, make...."  We made fried chicken out of it.  Defeated, we headed back the way we came.  But with some little side trips.  As we saw the road signs - this way to Crocker... this way to Meta... this way to Vienna..., Jim started reminescing about his childhood trips to extended family who lived in Meta.  He finally saw the gravel road that lead to their old home place.
Driving slowly down the road we watched red tail hawks soaring on the breeze.  A family of goats were open grazing in a farmer's garden.  I'll bet they were grounded when their extra curricular activities were discovered.

Yea, big guy, you are soooo busted...

We drove through the water of several low water bridge crossings.

View from low water bridge crossing.  Jim's childhood memory was just around the bend.

We finally stopped at Sugar Creek Restaurant in Meta.  My friend Patti had recommended it on her blog a few weeks ago.  The fried chicken dinner was really good.

A few years ago a friend and former co-worker told me she and her husband were refurbishing and opening a restaurant.  Since my friend lives in St. Thomas, I always assumed her restaurant was in St. Thomas.  But we had never visited her restaurant...    Imagine my surprise as we sat waiting for our food, in walks my friend, Tiffanie, ready to work.  Just by chance, we were in her restaurant.  It took me a bit to get the answer of 4 as I was putting together the fact that Patti's recommended resaurant and my friend's place were one in the same.  It was great fun catching up on families and happenings. 

Here's my thinking.  If the CoOp newspaper had not gotten their information wrong, we never would have taken the scenic drive.  We would not have gone down a gravel road of Jim's memory lane across low water creeks.  And we never would have happened into an old friendship at Sugar Creek Restaurant.  I'm thinking I'm glad a mistake that turned into a nice day was made.

Maybe I should also mention that one other time this same newspaper listed a community-wide flower garden event in the beautiful little town some distance from us, Ste. Genevieve.  We decide to take that drive, much like the drive of this past weekend, only to discover the flower show had been moved to another weekend. 

Maybe this litte paper isn't the most reliable source of event information... Just maybe....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Check for corn

This checklist adds up to great things to come this winter:
ü  Fresh sweet corn from the farmer down the road - $4 a dozen
ü  A sweet hubby willing to shuck the sweet corn while I am at work
ü  A big pot of boiling water for blanching said corn
ü  A big bowl of ice water for cooling the corn down after blanching
ü  A nice sharp knife to cut the corn off the cob
ü  A pan to cut the corn into
ü  A big spoon to spoon  corn into freezer bags
ü  And, of course, a freezer to freeze said corn in

I freeze things in small quantities these days – you know, just enough to feed two old folk.  It is just a simple matter of taking more than one package from the freezer if we are having a “guess who’s coming to dinner?” day.
A year or so ago while whiling the time away in a Dr’s office, I happened onto an article about Jamie Lee Curtis.  Since I like Jamie Lee Curtis, I read it.  The two things I got out of the article is that she is OCD and all items in her freezer are frozen flat so that they stack evenly.  Now whenever possible I flatten my freezer foods into as even as possible, flat as possible, little pancakes.  How’s that for a tip for the day?
So what did you do last night after a hard day at work?  - that is if you spent a hard day at work.
I spent 3 hours at the Dr’s with one of the grandsons, plus an hour drive each way.  All is well, but I don’t believe there is anything more tiring than a day at the Dr’s.  Shoot, there weren’t even any interesting articles with great tips in them!  Bummer.

Monday, August 15, 2011

THE Lake

We went to The Lake this weekend.  Locals to mid-Missouri who read my blog already know I mean the Lake of the Ozarks

The weather was perfect.  The skies opened up with large drops of rain just after we unloaded the car and got settled inside our friends, Patti and Gerard's, cabin.  About an hour later... here comes the sun!

Patti is "the entertainer".  I'd have to say her style is simple elegance.  She always makes things look so easy when she entertains.  Everything that can be done ahead of time, is.  Nobody would guess all of the work that goes on behind the scene... but I know...  and appreciate the relaxed atmosphere. 

Dining at the Lake of the Ozarks - Patti style!

A Spanish dish of rice and seafood.  Its official name escapes me - but it was oh so good!

A moonlit boat ride.  Terrible photo.  What can I say...

Breakfast of Baked French Toast and sausage links - once again overlooking the lake.
The french toast recipe can be found here.  It is a Pioneer Woman recipe and we all know every one of her recipes are the best ever!  Plus, it as easy to make!

You see everything on the Lake.  Not a care in the world.

The lake boating activity by mid-morning was mind boggling.  It was a much bumpier boat ride than the previous evening's late night cruise.
A friend of ours bought our son & DIL's trailer years ago for their lake home.  After visiting with them for a bit, we headed back out.  Jim snapped this photo as we were waving good-by.  I was too busy trying to keep from passing out.  It must have been the sun beating down on my head while standing on a swaying dock, but it was definitely touch and go for a bit.  Fortunately a bottle of water and some cooling breezes soon revived me.

Maybe sail boats are more stable than they look.  Personally I cannot imagine sailing on such choppy waters.

This little wood duck joined us as we basked in the sun.  Life is good!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Always on my mind...

She would have been 88 years old today.

I love you and miss you mom.  You Are Always On My Mind.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Try it... you'll like it!

My friend, Patti, at  Osage Bluff Quilter, posted a recipe last week for canned tomato soup.  One of my favorite meals has always been tomato soup and grilled cheese.  In all my poor sheltered life, I had never tasted homemade tomato soup.  Until now.

Saturday I spent the day canning tomato soup.  What a messy mess I can be in the kitchen.  Anytime I follow a recipe the first time, it seems to take me forever.  After that things always go much quicker and cleaner.  The end result, though, was fantastic.

Quarts of canned tomato soup

Saturday I canned.  Sunday we dined on soup and grilled cheese. 

Can't wait - must try now!

The meal was topped off with a glass of cool, refreshingly tasty, Apple Blossom Wine from Holy Cross Abbey Winery in Cannon City, Colorado - compliments of Greg and Alicia (thank you guys, it was delicious).  What a wonderful blend of flavors!
Homemade tomato soup, grilled cheese, and Colorado fine wine - life is good
We have been getting rain showers off and on over the past few days and the temperatures are now in the comfortable 80's, replacing the oppressive 100+ temperatures of the past few weeks. 

Thank you for the recipi, Patti.  It is definitely a keeper!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Christmas in July

A week ago today we left the heat of Missouri - crossing over the State Line into the heat of Kansas and the refreshing coolness of the water park at Great Wolf Lodge Resort.  Merry Christmas everyone!

I couldn't help speculate how things have changed for us over the years as we sped across the state in our Honda CRV - our nice and roomy, less than a year old CRV.  There was a time when we barely limped to town and back home each day, all five us cramped in our little Dodge Omni.  More often than not we had lumber or some other building material strapped to the roof top. 

In the car with us was two of the grandkids, Dakota and  Austin.  Nostalgia took over when we about reached Independence.   It took me back to a trip we took to the Ozarks.  The kids had driven us close to insanity with their bickering as we topped a particularly scenic overlook.  Jim finally blew his top and told them the only thing he wanted to hear out of them was "Oooh, Ahhhh, Look!".    As Dakota and Austin jabbered away, I looked at Jim and asked, "Are we at the Oooh, Ahhh, Look! stage yet?"

Wow, as I am writing this, the skies have darkened and the thunder is rolling in.  I hope this is not another case of mother nature once again teasing us.  We will take any amount of rain she'll send our way.  Jim took his 4-wheeler down the road to have it worked on.  He is either going to be there a while, or he is going to get wet!  (I hope...)

Back to our trip.

It was a wonderful weekend.  Great Wolf Lodge (there are many around the nation) has a ginormeous water park and archade.  This one happens to be within walking distance (we drove) of Cabelas, Legends Shopping, great restaurants, and Nebraska Furniture.  There was something for everyone to do. 

After playing for hours in the park the first night, we ate Pizza in the hotel room.  Speaking of the hotel rooms, they were pretty cool, with two beds  and a bath down and a third bed and bath in a loft.  The eighteen of us fit in three rooms.     

(It's raining~!!!!  Yea!!!!)

The next morning was breakfast at I-Hop (kids ate free).  I'm not a big I-Hop fan.  It seems a bit pricey and the food is so-so.  But they did it right for us, putting us in a room by ourselves.  Was this for our privacy or did they sense a rowdy bunch and secreted us away to protect the other patrons?  Maybe a bit of both....

Breakfast at I-Hop.  Smile everyone!

Everyone split up after breakfast. 

Nebraska Furniture was my downfall.  This place is a vacation in itself... if you like shopping, which I usually don't.  In a few weeks they will be delivering a new couch, kitchen range, and a gorgeous braided rug  to us.  In our defense, we left without buying the 48 in. flat screen TV.  How's that for showing some constraint?

As luck would have it, the AC went out in the room where Greg and Alicia and their kids, and Jim and I were staying.  The repairman was in and out trying to fix it until 3 am.  Everyone else went to sleep while Greg kept watch.  The resort gave us 10% off of one night's cost of the room.... not near enough for the inconvenience, but better than nothing.

The best part of the weekend was that we were together and yet on our own.  Nobody's schedule depended on anyone elses.  The very fact that we were at a water park, though, guaranteed we would be spending time together as a family. 

As we were packing to go home, we remembered we hadn't taken a family photo.  Since I forgot my tri-pod, the camera is perched on a ledge.  The TV is a perfect back-drop for the picture, don't you think?  I know.... but it was the best we could do.
In two years we hope to plan another family vacation Christmas Present.  So far we have done a Branson Vacation, a Float Trip Vacation, and this one.  We used to go camping at Alley Springs every year, but my camping days are over.  Maybe our next vacation can be a rodeo, or concert, or..... who knows... but we'll come up with something!

I'll leave you with a video, for those who want to watch it!