Saturday, February 28, 2009

Needing some spring + recipe

It has been a long winter this year. Cold, lots of snow, bitter wind, cold temps, cold viruses, and did I mention it's been cold?

Yeah, it is so not my favorite season-although I will concede it has its beauty at times.

Still, I am more than ready to be done with winter. I'm ready for sunny days, leaving the house without bundling up, green grass, flowers, grilling pizza...I'm ready for summer.

In the meantime, I'd settle for spring. Not the mud so much, but the beginning of blooms, the pretty colors, and longer days.

The girls and I had plans to go to a "big" Joann's store today. Since one of our options puts us right in Earl and Kathy's neck of the woods, I called to see if they'd be home and we planned a visit to deliver the linens from Aunt Sharon.

I had some lemons languishing in my crisper drawer, drawing ever closer to the end of their useful life and I happen to know a little secret about Kathy. She adores lemon curd. I decided that I needed (yes, needed) to make lemon curd for Kathy (yes, for Kathy-you think it was really for me?) and that some lemon-poppyseed scones would be a great go-along.

Doesn't the sight of that bright yellow curd cheer your heart? It looked so pretty next to her flowers from a friend.

I'm convinced that lemon curd was invented for the dark, cold days of late winter, to remind us that the sun will shine again and spring is on its way.

Lemon Curd

1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into 4 pieces

Whisk together the egg, egg yolk, sugar, lemon zest, and juice in a small saucepan. Add the butter pieces and place over low heat. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula to prevent sticking, until the mixture just coats the back of a spoon. Do not boil!
Immediately remove from the heat and scrape into a small bowl. Press plastic wrap over the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Place in the refrigerator.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Vintage book

The girls mentioned this book to me last night. Mom found it and gave it to them a while back. They think it is hilarious-I suppose they're right.

Mom had saved it from sometime in my early school years. It is mostly empty pages, but the front of the book contains a couple of gems I thought I'd share.

Note the vintage (probably 70's era) wallpaper cover.

This page is titled "Dick and Sally". I'm an original one, aren't I?

It reads as follows:

Dick said oh Sally How did you get on that swing you said you couldnot get on. Sally said I have grown one feet sicne I said that. The End.

My girls love this story, too. They find it particularly funny that my dog changes gender somewhere in the middle, without warning.

My Dog.

I put my dog in his pen. And suddenly when I got up from bed. He was gone. I looked and I looked. But nothing of a dog could be seen. So I put on my summer coat and hat. I started off to look for my lost dog.

I walked and walked and I walked. I found a path to follow so I started to follow it. I found that I was not following my dogs path so I had to follow it back to the house.

So I followed the path back to the house. I ate lunch and I found another path to follow. I followed it and I found that she was having baby's!

Apparently, that is the end of that tale but I seem to have run out of room to put "The End"-or I'm sure I would have. Back then, I think it was the only way I was really sure the story was over.

Thankfully, I'm a bit better at spelling and sentence structure now than I was then.

The End.
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Catching up

Ever feel like you are behind and can't catch up? Yeah, well, we're going to pretend that I really posted this last weekend, when it was fresh.

Last Friday, we had our monthly co-op with our group of friends. We normally meet on Tuesdays but, due to illness, had re-scheduled. Unfortunately, one family got sick between Tuesday and Friday so we still ended up missing a few people.

We read The Whipping Boy this month.

The kids chose verses ahead of time that reminded them of the story. I found it very interesting that even the youngest of the group made a connection between the whipping boy and Christ without the parents having to spell it out. Several of the kids chose verses from Isaiah 53, but none of them were duplicates. I thought that was pretty cool.

The kids looked up silly laws as homework and had to make an oral presentation on whether the law they chose should be repealed or kept on the books. That was quite entertaining and the kids all were able to argue persuasively enough to convince the majority of the group to agree with their viewpoint.

The kids also had to draw random things out of a hat and concoct an excuse for not doing their homework that their mother would accept. My girls both immediately said "It doesn't matter what I get-she won't think it's a good excuse." They were right. ;-)

We talked about medieval times and the armor of God. They made banners out of felt to represent something about themselves.

Then they each made flags for our cake project (which is why there are so many flags on the cake).

Here is a shot of the castle when they were done decorating it. Can you say sugar overload?

Then, Saturday was a quiz.

There were three teams that had each lost one round so they went to total points for the day to determine places. The girls came in third.

In individuals, Julianne got first place in the vet division and Allison took second in the rookie division.

All righty, last weekend taken care of. Maybe now I can try to live in the present.
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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Mom update

I didn't post for almost a week and now I have so much to say I'm posting twice in an hour.

If you aren't related to me, you may want to skip this post. It really is intended to update the friends and family members who aren't close enough to hear this in person.

Mom had her PET scan last Thursday. Many of you may not have known that her last one showed two "hot spots". They assured us at the time that inflammation can show up that way and said that was probably all she was dealing with, especially considering she was having problems in the arm/shoulder where the largest spot was located. Just to err on the side of caution, a needle biopsy was ordered-but they couldn't get to it.

We were referred to an orthopedic oncologist for his opinion on the PET scan. He was leaving the country the next week so he decided to try physical therapy rather than doing surgery to get a biopsy.

Physical therapy helped her pain and range of motion greatly-and reassured all of us that it probably was an injury, rather than cancer.

Which brings us to yesterday's clinic appointment. Not only is her PET scan "perfect", but since she is two years post-transplant and having no issues, the doctor removed all her previous restrictions.

She was practically walking on clouds when we left his office. She hasn't been able to do certain things due to her immature immune system-things like gardening. She isn't an avid gardener (her back protests too much) but tell someone what they can't do, and what is the thing they most want to do?

So, when spring finally gets here, Mom will be able to go outside and dig around a little. Then when her back starts hurting, she can go back inside, satisfied that she got her hands dirty.

She has been through a lot, but God has been with her every step of the way. He has healed her when the doctors thought she wouldn't make it. He has restored her to a quality of life we didn't know she could have. We have so much to be thankful for.

Linens from Aunt Sharon

When we visited Aunt Sharon in Florida, she sent a big box of linens home with us.

Aunt Sharon left it to my discretion as to whether or not I shared them with Kathy. She was sure the voice of my conscience would be my guide. My conscience has laryngitis right now.

I love this pillowcase. The lighting makes it hard to see that the stitching is pale blue.

As you can see, I didn't iron any of these before taking my pics. I worried that any stains they have might be harder to remove if I ironed them in. Kathy has a lot more experience in handling these fragile pieces and I thought it best to err on the side of caution and consult her. Oh, I guess that means I'll have to share after all, doesn't it?

Aunt Sharon said these monogrammed pillowcases were on my grandparents' bed for years. They are that extra soft texture that today's cases don't seem to have.

I don't remember them, which surprised me considering that when I was little, I took naps in their bed. Grandma would lay down with my sister and me and immediately fall asleep. Penny and I would lay there, listening to the extremely loud clock ticking, unable to block out the clock's noise long enough to fall asleep.

It was traumatic.

I have my memories of the ticking clock but these pillowcases don't show up in my memories at all. I guess Kathy can have them. I'm so generous, don't you think? Especially since the monogram works for her and Earl, but not for Clarence and me. Yep, generous to a fault.

I am in love with this apron. Hard to see in my photo, but it has embroidery at the top that looks like a little collar. So cute!

Kathy is swamped right now, working two jobs, so I think it will be a while before we get together and go through all the treasures. She is so creative with old linens that I'm sure she'll be formulating ideas just from these few glimpses.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Poor deprived child

It recently came to my attention that my baby, my little Allison, my poor waif, was living a life of deprivation.

It was brought to my attention, of course, by Allison.
The story goes that we took the girls Christmas 2007, mind you. Julianne went with me, Allison was with Clarence. We did some shopping but had to be back to the church for quiz practice. I took Julianne to McD's and, instead of getting her something off the $1 menu, I sprung for a Big Mac. Her very first Big Mac. I'm confident Clarence fed Allison that night, too, but that obviously doesn't matter.
Of course, nothing would do but for big sister to tell little sister just how wonderful a Big Mac tastes. How sure she is her sister would enjoy one.
Over a year goes by. Suddenly, Allison starts talking about Mom buying Julianne a Big Mac but never getting one for her. I had absolutely no recollection of the event that has so scarred my poor darling. I take them to McD's once in a while. We usually get yogurt parfaits (if you haven't tried one, you should-they're really good-and certainly healthier than big macs). Never does she mention the injustice I've done her while we're in line at McD's. Oh, no. Bringing it up much later is far more effective in producing a guilt trip in your mother. She knows this.

Why this all came out during our visit with Grandpa and Grandma, I don't know. But this post is my documentation of Allison's first Big Mac.
Julianne was right-she did like it.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bazaar finds

Did I mention that we went to the bazaar at my inlaws' park while we were visiting them?

Down at the clubhouse on Saturday they had a bake sale, the craft table, raffles for several things, coffee and homemade doughnuts, soup and sandwiches for lunch, pie for dessert.

And a huge, honkin' rummage sale. It is so big, in fact, that it takes up much of the space in the clubhouse, and extends across the street to two different driveways packed full of stuff.

We got to attend the Friday night preview.

This is part of what we bought. This pic doesn't show the luncheon plates well so I took a closer shot (next pic) to show the color better. There are only three sets, plus an extra plate, but it's perfect for the girls and I to use for lunch once in a while.

Julianne has been collecting dishes to use when she tries doing mosaics. These pretty strays were 5-10 cents each so they had to ride home with us.

I found a whisk similar to my favorite, only slightly larger. 10¢.

The glass flower frog was a nice find-I've wanted one but where do you purchase one? It isn't something I've seen when browsing anywhere and it fit the green tin container perfectly so I picked that up as well.

Detail of the violets on the luncheon sets.

Did you notice that old Skippy peanut butter jar in the top shot? Here's a peek at what's inside.

I'm not a button floozie like my dear sis in law, Kathy, but I like having buttons on hand for projects and figured if I ended up not wanting to keep them, she'd be happy to take them off my hands. They appear to be of the same vintage as the jar holding them. You think Kathy's gonna be coming to visit me soon?

Not pictured is the huge box of yarn, lace, fabric, trims, ribbon, and tennis balls(!?) we got for $1. Enough to keep the girls crafting for a while. Or the vintage (or is it just old?) sewing machine-in a cabinet-for $3. Unfortunately, the extra cams for the sewing machine didn't get picked up when it was purchased so they are now in a Salvation Army store somewhere in Tampa. Julianne is dying to try sewing with it. She wants to claim it as hers.

I also found a little surprise for Kathy's birthday. Yep, part of her gift will be from a rummage sale. And I am absolutely positive she will be delighted. I only mention this to taunt her. She bought something for my birthday one year months ahead of time and had to mention it in her blog just to make me crazy. It seems only fair that I let her enjoy months of anticipation like I had to, don'tcha think?
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Monday, February 9, 2009

It's time

Days above freezing, nights below freezing.

That's when the sap runs in the maple trees. That's the kind of weather we're predicted to have starting this past weekend.

Although I don't care for maple syrup, I look forward to its season. It has become a marker for me that winter is winding down and spring is coming.

We leave the buckets on the trees until the leaves start budding out. The sap gets bitter (I think?) when that happens. But by that point, there's no denying that spring is almost here.

We don't have sugar maples. You don't have to have sugar maples to make syrup, it just takes more sap to make the syrup. You can even tap box elder trees, I've heard, as they are in the maple family. You'll just be cooking it down for a long time.

Me? I'll take my peach syrup any day over maple. Of course, I'll take Mrs. Butterworth's over real maple, too. I'm weird like that.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Mail call

In Friday's mail, I got an unexpected surprise.

A letter from a dear friend, who lives far away now.

I'm terrible about keeping in touch with people and only seem to write to her at Christmas and her birthday. I think I even have a correct email addy for her-but I never sit down and write.

I was so excited to see her letter in the mail. I opened it and read it through. I felt like we had just had a cup of coffee together as I caught up on her life a little bit. I set it aside and started preparing dinner. I told Clarence how she was and some of what is happening in her life as I cooked.

I've gone back no less than three times since then to re-read her letter. I miss our conversations so much and reading her letter makes her feel closer.

Life is busy for all of us, my friend included. Yet she makes the effort to maintain the relationships in her life. It's one of the many things I've always admired about her.

I think I'd better see if that email addy I have for her still works.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A visit with Aunt Sharon

We spent Thursday of our vacation visiting Aunt Sharon.

Julianne decided to make an orchid for her. It was a little more complicated than most of the other flowers she has tried but I thought it turned out beautifully.

Aunt Sharon lives near the Gulf so we piled in the van and headed for the beach. It wasn't quite beach weather, so we had the place almost to ourselves.

That was fine with our shell hunters.

They didn't want to look up for a picture, though I did finally get Allison to show me a shell while I clicked.

I'm not sure what Allison was trying to do here. She set her flip-flops down in the water and then seemed a bit surprised when the waves started washing them away. She was able to quickly retrieve both of them, thankfully. Otherwise, we wouldn't have been able to take her to the fantastic restaurant where we had lunch with Aunt Sharon.

We enjoyed our visit, as we always do. Unfortunately, we were a week too early to see our cousins and baby Nicky. They are visiting Aunt Sharon (Grandma, that is) this week. There were six-month pics of Nicky in our held mail when we arrived home, so that will have to suffice for now.
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Thursday, February 5, 2009

You've been warned

This post will only be fascinating to a couple of people. Their names are Julianne and Allison. Really, the rest of you are probably not terribly interested in pictures of our vacation, right?

There was swimming on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. After that, it got too chilly, even though the pool is heated.

On our drive home, Clarence was talking to his dad and Grandpa said the pool heater was broken. Our girls would have gone in anyhow-at least they used to before the heater was installed-but they were glad it was working while we were there.

There was shuffleboard. This is Grandma with Julianne.

We all had fun playing. Grandpa and Grandma are actually good at it, though. I didn't manage to get a picture of Grandpa. He offered a lot of advice on strategy and technique but gave up his cue so Clarence could play. After I showed up with the camera, Grandma gave hers up, too, and the four of us tried playing for a while. The difference in ability was immediately obvious.

Here's an action shot of Allison, mainly included so that you could see that Clarence is ready to be a senior citizen. He's got the white socks with shorts look down. He's so cute, isn't he?

I've got more to share, of course. Just remember, I warned you.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We're home!

I took this picture at the shuffleboard courts one evening after 8:00.

I couldn't quite believe it was still above 70º that late in the day. I miss it already.

The weather didn't continue to be as nice as that all week but we always figure a bad day in Florida is still 30º-50º warmer than Michigan.

Am I the only one who thinks it ironic that this thermometer in Florida advertises snowmobiles?

We had a great trip-lots of fun with Grandpa and Grandma, and a nice visit with Aunt Sharon (she sent some goodies home with us that I'll have to take pictures of to share here. Stay tuned, Kathy, because she thinks I should share some of them with you. Of course, she left the final decision up to me and the voice of my conscience. Hmm... ;-)

We made good time coming home, although we had snow in Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky. Once we hit Ohio around dinnertime, we decided to see if we could make it home rather than stop for the night. We pulled in between 12:30 and 1 this morning and got to sleep in our own cold beds. I turned the thermostat down before we left and it takes a long time to warm the house back up. Thank goodness for corn cuddlers.

Tomorrow is back to normal. Swim classes, quiz practice, Wednesday evening church activities. I think I'm ready for another vacation.
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