Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunday morning coming down…

Driving home on this dreary Sunday morning along the Missouri River bottoms, we saw in the distance what looked like snow.  This sight required a closer inspection since the snow in this area has all melted.
A field with white along the edge
Our suspicions were soon confirmed – we were looking at a gaggle!!!! of geese.  Canadian Geese for sure.  Snow geese probably – maybe other species. 
A field covered with geese
There were thousands of geese.
Black and white geeze taking flight
As they took flight, the already overcast skies darkened.
Black and white geeze taking flight
The vision brought to mind confetti falling from the skies.


                Bye, bye birdies.  Thanks for the amazing show.
A few geeze flying away from the rest

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Kit in Town

We have welcomed a new addition to our family.  Introducing Bailey!
Isn’t he beautiful?
My hair-dooder, Alicia, knew I was looking for a mature cat (kittens don’t survive well in these woods).  So when her friend, Meg, mentioned she had to get rid of her cats, she hooked us up.
The moment we let Bailey out of his cage, he took off.  The next morning we could tell he had slept in his box on the porch, but he was nowhere to be found.  It turns out he was hiding under the grill cover.  Smart cat.
He and Whiskey are still trying to figure things out.  Since Bailey outweighs Whiskey by at least 20 lbs and has claws… well, let’s just say that Whiskey has already learned to quit sniffing Bailey’s butt.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

No excuse…

It’s been busy around here.  I’ve shamelessly neglected blogging.  I am sorry!  Enough said about that.
Saturday the kids came over and we made homemade pizza.  Julie and Doug didn’t make it, but Tessa & Bill and Greg and Alicia and their crew did… except for Cara because she had a music concert.  It is almost impossible to get everyone together at one time these days. 


I whipped up the crust ahead of time.  This is the best and easiest recipe for pizza dough there is.  My brother used to work for Pizza Hut 30 years ago and he claimed this crust, at that time, is as close to their original dough recipe he had ever seen.

You need: 1 envelope active dry yeast, 1 1/3 cups warm water, 2 tablespoons oil, 4 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. 
Sprinkle yeast on warm water, stir to dissolve.  Add oil, flour and salt, knead dough to make a smooth satiny ball.  Turn to coat in greased bowl.  Cover, let rise in a warm place 2 hours.  Punch down, divide dough in half.  Wala!  It is ready to use.

Divide the dough in half and roll it as thin as you wish.  I like mine very thin.  This recipe makes two good size pizzas.  Once you build the pizza with your preferred sauce, toppings and cheese, you bake it in a 450 degree oven for about 30 minute. 


I prepared all of the toppings (hamburger, Italian Sausage, Pepperoni, Mushrooms, Black Olives) ahead of time.  That way the kids could be in charge of creating their own masterpieces.

Just looking at this picture makes my mouth water and reminds me of the first time I ever had pizza.  I’d tell the story, but it would make this post too long.  What am I talking about?  This post is already going to be too long, so I may as well tell the story.

It must have been around 1956.  We were still living downstairs from Grandma.

deanna 1956
My Aunt Yvonne and her boyfriend brought home a pizza.  I don’t know what kind of pizza - it could have even been a frozen pizza.  All I know is that everyone gathered around the table to examine the novelty.  We each got a small piece to taste.  I remember everyone saying how expensive it was, and that the first taste was not to my liking.  But then later I kept thinking back to it and found myself wanting more.  To this day I still want more.  Thus was the beginning of my shameful love affair with Pizza.

Back to Saturday's get together.

Reagan playing
I neglected to take very many pictures and for some reason most of those I did take turned out blurry.  Maybe I was moving too fast that day.  Reagan was fascinated by the silly horse.
We spent hours poring over our family history, trying to figure it all out.


The above photo is my Paternal Great, Great Grandma Emily Brisack, holding my Great Grandma Hattie.  Someone put a lot of work into this book and I had forgotten I even had it.  The other book is Jim’s Paternal heritage.  More on this later maybe. 

Reagan - plumber's butt

Yes, Reagan will be very (very, very, very…) upset with me in a few years.  Right now she couldn’t care less.  What I want to know is:  Is she practicing for a career as a plumber, or preparing to join the ranks of those photographed as “the people of WalMart”…  Once again, enough said.

I was sad to see everyone go home, ending a great day and wonderful memories.

But I’m not done yet.

After Church on Sunday we geared up for a few more days of excitement.  Our 13 year old step grandson, Cody, was going into the hospital for a fairly serious operation.  His chest was “concave” and could potentially cause a lot of trouble for him down the road.  It was much safer to correct the problem now, rather than wait until it caused breathing problems when he is older.  I guess it should have come as no surprise when Insurance declined to cover the operation, deeming it “cosmetic”.  In other words, “we don’t want to cover it now, let’s wait a few years when the condition is life threatening and more difficult to fix – and hopefully it is some other insurance company’s cost”.  After numerous appeals were denied, Doug and Julie and Cody’s mom appealed to Shriners Children Hospital in St. Louis.  They agreed to take on Cody’s case – free.  Thank God for the Shriners and all of the wonderful people in the world who support them.
The operation was successful and Cody is on his way to recovery.  He will be unable to participate in sports for awhile, missing out on his beloved baseball this Summer and football this Fall, but it will all be worth it in the long run.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Jim and I were in custody of Austin and Dakota.


It seems like we spent much of Sunday and Monday eating.  They filled their hollow legs and I gained five lbs.  Some things just aren’t fair. 


Things got a little goofy around here at times.


Mohawk guy here (yes, that mop of hair really is a Mohawk without the spiky stuff) still loves to cuddle.  I’ll have to admit that I took advantage of every second of snuggle that I could get since I know those days will soon come to an end.


This brings us to today.  Jim and the boys headed out for school and work at 7:00 this morning.  I’m going to miss them.  Please take note that there is NO snow on the ground.  I hope it stays that way until  next Christmas.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Amish Fascination

I have always been fascinated by the Amish and their simple way of life.  This is probably because there are quite a number of Amish communities in our area.  When we visit our son, Greg, or daughter, Tessa, we invariable get behind a buggy of a family maybe heading home from Sunday services and visiting.  Sometimes we are in a hurry and get a little irritated at the pace, but usually I reflect on what I am seeing.  I first see danger.  There are children in an open buggy on a busy highway!  There is nothing to protect them if a car would come upon their buggy and not see them quickly enough.  Then when my mind gets past that, I envy them.  I envy their slow pace and closeness.  I envy their exclusion of outside influences.  Sometimes the often relentless wind is blowing and the temperatures are frigid.  At times like that, I watch in wonder at how they live the life they do.  Fascination.

Amish craftsmen built our barn quite a number of years ago.  It took them two to three days.  When they finished, there was no indication they had ever been there.  The site was clean with no debris anywhere.  Their workmanship was beyond compare.

There is a carpenter, Mose, who lives "right down the road" from Greg who made all of the cabinetry in his home.  He also made much of the cabinetry in our daughter, Tessa's home.  All high quality.  Sometimes he got things wrong (he seems to have trouble following directions) but he always made good by it.   

Mose and his young son, Jacob, also custom made a china cabinet for us.  The workmanship is wonderful.  We have spent time visiting with Mose and Jacob.  Their pace is slow.  We learned early on that when we visited Mose to check on the progress of our cabinet, we'd better plan on an hour or so to account for visiting time.  It was always an interesting visit.  I enjoyed watching his children working barefoot in their garden, or in other activities.

For a long time I've been following the blog, A Joyful Chaos, A Joyful Chaos  .   Mary Ann writes about growing up Amish and her life after leaving the Amish community.   If you aren't already reading her blog, give it a go.  Hers is a very simple, easy to read, writing.  A Joyful Chaos is hosting a giveaway of another blogger, Saloma, who left the Amish Community.

It appears the Amish life that Saloma escaped from was anything but ideal.  You can read about her experiences and register for a giveaway of her new book, Why I Left the Amish, About Amish.  I'm looking forward to reading Saloma's blog and her book.

So, if you are interested in the Amish way of life, or just want a good read, check out these two blogs.  You will be glad you did.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Has been reduced to this…
Whiskey is very proud of me.
The plan is to sort them by three categories:  page layout ideas, journaling ideas, and technique ideas.   I’m trying to use the KISS principle.  I tried to do the sorting while I was reducing, but kept putting pages on the wrong stack.  I guess I’m not as good at multitasking as I thought I was!
James spent the day with me yesterday, recuperating from a chest cold.  He wasn’t much help, though.  His only contribution was to lay around and play with his lego’s.  Oh and make me smile every time he grinned at me and I looked into his big brown eyes.  The bear hugs were nice too.
Stay tuned…

Monday, February 14, 2011

Just a scrap

There was a time when I was a serious scrap booker.   I bought every possible gadget, pen, paper, sticker, and computer design software. Then my daughter, Tessa, gave me subscriptions to scrapbook magazines.  I was in heaven.  I poured over all the design ideas and kept buying all the latest and greatest gadgets – and of course I kept creating wonderful scrapbooks. 

Then about eight years ago I quit.  I’ve kept taking pictures.  Many pictures!  But the scrapbooking juices stopped flowing.
Today I took one look at the bookshelf piled high with magazines and decided it was time to get rid of them.  The problem is that they really do have a lot of good advice and information.  What to do….
The simple answer was to go through the magazines and remove anything of interest and throw all of the useless advertising away.
About 30 magazines have been reduced to this thin stack, which will be filed by categories. 
I’m looking forward to catching up on all the memories as I get back into scrap booking the simple way – with lots of journaling.  It will be a walk down memory lane backtracking eight years.  And of course, I’m going to have to do something with the over 90 years of family photos I have been scanning.  Just what I needed – another project!

Sunday, February 13, 2011


I awoke to this…

orange sunrise


I am missing this…

a baby lamb


I am eagerly anticipating this…

Beautiful yellow roses

Opening my arms wide to welcome a new week.  How about you?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


My cousin Linda passed away this past weekend.  From what I heard, her cancer was quick.   It was a stage 4 killer before anybody knew she was even sick.  I have to wonder how long she had maybe kept her own little secret.

Since there were 13 “kids” in my dad’s family, there are 70 or so first cousins on just that one side of my family.  Not first cousin, once removed and all of that – but first cousins.  So it is not surprising that I don’t know many of my cousins very well.   This was the case with Linda.  So how do I mourn a cousin I barely knew?  I’ve discovered the answer is with tears.

Linda was older than me.  I’m not sure how much older - maybe five years or so.  She was the cool, can do anything she wants cousin.  For much of my early years I wanted to be like Linda.  The bad, daring kind of girl.  Linda knew no bounds.  She drank and smoked too much, drove too fast, and cussed like a sailor. 

Linda introduced me to makeup and the poufy high teased hair styles of the 60’s.  She was a cousin that my mom and dad tried to shelter me from.

Linda was one of the kindest persons I ever knew.  She didn’t put people down or talk behind their backs.  She just wanted to live life her way – and so she did.  Her demons were many.  I cannot recall a single family get together where she didn’t either arrive drunk or soon succumbed to the liquor.  Yet even in her drunken haze – or perhaps because of it – she always had a hug and kind word for everyone. 

She was there for me.  When my dad passed away a little over a year ago I missed her at the visitation.  She was one of the cousins who always showed up at any family event – including funerals – so I couldn’t imagine she wasn’t there.   But as we walked down the aisle following the casket, there was Linda in the third to the last pew of church, reaching out to hug us and telling us that she was there for us.  And then she was gone.  Just gone.  I never got the chance to tell her how much that hug meant to me.  It was the last time I ever saw her.

I found out much later that she was dealing with her own tragedies.  Her husband was recuperating from a stroke.  She had driven from St. Louis to send “Uncle Ed” off.  She had made the 2 1/2 hour trip, only to give a hug and watery smile and return home again.   That was Linda.

I am embarrassed to say that I imagined that she was probably once again drunk.  And she may well have been.  That was also Linda.

All I know is…  I probably saw Linda once every two or three years and yet I am going to miss her a lot.  She lived life her way.  Not a good way by most standards – but her way.  And her love was genuine.  Genuine love cannot be faked.  I cannot imagine another reunion, wedding, or funeral without Linda.  Linda  was always there.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Refrigerator Rolls

Here is the recipe for the refrigerator rolls pictured in my previous post.  It comes from my much used and loved 39 year old Betty Crocker's Cookbook.  

These are easy to make and very tasty.  What I really like about them is you mix the dough up a day (up to 5 days) ahead of time.  Then when you are ready to bake them, you just form them into little "balls" and let them rise in a warm place for an hour or two before baking.  So here goes.

1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
1 cup unseasoned lukewarm mashed potatoes (a cup of instant potatoes works great)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp. salt
6 to 7 cups all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl.  Stir in potatoes, sugar, shortening, eggs, salt and  cups of the flour.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in enough remaining flour to m ake dough easy to handle.  Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover bowl tightly; refrigerate at least 8 hours but no longer than 5 days.

Punch dough down and form into whatever type rolls you want.  I usually shape them into 1 inch balls and place side by side on a lightly greased cookie sheet, then brush with softened butter. 

 If you can see this photo clear enough, you can see some other suggested ways of forming the dough.  The baking times vary from between 15 and 20 minutes.

The recipe says to let them rise for an hour.  My experience has been that they need more like 2 to 3 hours to rise in a warm spot.  Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. 
This recipe makes a very large batch of rolls, so another option is to bake them at 275 degrees for 20 minutes (do not allow to brown).  Remove from pans and cool to room temperature.  Then wrap in aluminum foil and freeze them for later (no more than 2 months).  You now have Brown and Serve Rolls.  At serving time, heat oven to 400 degrees and bake until brown (8 to 10 minutes). 


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I am so done with it!

Jim and his brother are trying to dig us out of this mess. 

Jim & Tracy knee deep in snow

It is apparently not going well at all.  We have 4x4 vehicles and a skid steer.  You would think nothing would stop us!  Apparently the skid steer is stranded on a sheet of ice somehow or other.  I haven’t gotten the complete skinny on that.  The truck is at the bottom of the drive and isn’t too inclined to make the trip back up.  Not  good!


It’ll be a day or two before the grands will be sliding down this slide again.

House with snow up to the porch


Where’d my steps go?!?!

I never heard how much snow we officially got.  My guess is 20 or more inches.  Officially:  too much!

      The drive way somewhere under all the snow

I’m petty sure this is the driveway.

090I sent out a stash of these fresh baked, warm out of the oven, home made refrigerator rolls to fuel their sagging spirits.

It didn’t work.  Jim just informed me that we are officially snowed in.  Help!


At least I have plenty of feed for my birdies.