Friday, September 23, 2016

#hereiswap2016

I'm thinking I probably used that whole hashtag thing wrong in this post's title. Call me ignorant. I'm more familiar with hash browns. Anyway, I recently took part in a Reformation Mug swap here.

Today I received my very own lovely mug and other cool stuff.

Thank you, Jessica!


The lovely lady I bought for will not receive hers today since I took it to the post office today. I struggled to find the perfect mug, but then I gave up and settled :(   I hope she likes it half as much as I like the mug I received.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Pumpkins, Pies, and Pancake Piggies

This week we harvested what was worth harvesting. Pumpkins are my favorite. They are so pretty. At least, what wasn't demolished by the deer.

Our fall harvest display, now safely in the garage

One pumpkin/squash didn't make it in the picture because it had split open a bit from the nearly 3 inches of rain we'd had. I cooked it up right away for a pie. The children picked the ground cherries, and we finally had enough for some pie. 


Pumpkin on the left and ground cherries two ways.

Since ground cherries are new to us, I had to search online for a recipe for pie. That was the middle one. My son made it almost by himself. He still needed a little help for his first pie. The crumbly topping one was my variation.


Happy pie

So, do we like ground cherries? I'm leaning toward "not so much," but they do taste better in a pie. Others in the family are firmly in the "no" camp, while others think they're okay. 

In other news, a few weeks ago we had an unexpected power outage just before time to start supper. I was totally unprepared and had nothing to serve up without electricity. It seemed a good time to go grocery shopping, so we headed off to Hagerstown for dinner out and Sam's Club.

For supper we found ourselves at Bob Evans because we had some coupons from the library's summer reading club. The girls ordered pancakes that looked like little piggies. This is my version, because cute food is cool:


Three little pancake piggies

They were a hit. If you want to make them, you'll need one larger pancake and two smaller ones, banana slices for the nose, and blueberries for the eyes. The ears are one of the smaller pancakes cut in half. Your kids/grandkids will think you're supercool if you set these in front of them, guaranteed. We also added "mud" on top in the form of syrup, but the 2-year-old had to call it syrup because we don't eat mud.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column-- September 14, 2016

The crickets competed with the frogs to drown out my husband’s voice as he told bedtime stories to our children when we camped in our backyard last week. The kids strained their ears to hear his stories about Charley and his wonderful house, cowboys, or the new three little pigs. Whatever tale he weaves, the children are captivated. His stories have the power to calm their fears and chase away the bogeyman. 

Whether made-up or true, stories have a certain magic. They change things. My whole day changed on Saturday when my mother-in-law excitedly told me the story of how my brother-in-law and his wife revealed they were expecting their first baby. My heart melted with the sweetness of the moment, and ever since then, I’ve been a little bit giddy when I think about a new niece or nephew.

But this time of year also has me thinking about darker and sadder stories. Six years ago this week, I suffered our first miscarriage. All the joy and expectation surrounding that fifth child turned into a lump of nearly unbearable sorrow that I lugged around with me at all times. 

And then the stories started being told. Church members, family, friends, and even strangers told me the stories of their own sadness. Unlike the typical birth story that details every moment of labor and delivery, these stories were short. Most women simply told me that they, too, had lost a baby before birth. The kindness and sympathy in their eyes told all the story I needed to know. I was not carrying my burden alone.

I was surprised by how many people I knew who had miscarried, friends and family who had never told me about it before. For some, I was the first person who’d ever heard their story. It seemed I was now part of a grim sisterhood connected by these painful stories. 

Oddly enough, it was these sad stories that brought me earthly comfort. While they didn’t promise that the sadness would all go away, they changed my outlook. I could see that life carried on for these strong women and that it would continue for me, too. 

These stories changed me, and now I’ve shared my story with you. If you know of a hurting mother, share this story with her so that she might know she is not alone. If you have suffered through miscarriage, please don’t be scared or ashamed to share your pain with others. Your simple words have the power to calm fears, chase away a little of the darkness, and to heal both the listener and the teller.

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This time of year is also back-to-school time. If your children are like mine, after school time is a hungry time. unfortunately, it is also a time when I don’t have much mental energy to think of a good snack to make. 

Do your children have a favorite afternoon snack? Please email me your favorite snack ideas so that I can share them in a future column. Until then, try out my healthier version of a milkshake. I used to drink this for a quick breakfast before I headed out the door for school when I was a teacher, but it’s a good snack in the afternoon, too.

Peanut Butter Banana Milk

2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1 ripe banana
2 cups cold milk


Blend all ingredients together in a blender. Pour into a cup and drink it down, no cookies necessary. Of course, a little chocolate syrup never hurt anybody!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What I Liked About Painting Week

Because I'm such a Pollyanna, I just have to post the good things about miserable painting week at our house.

First up has no connection to painting and everything to do about anniversary-- our 13th.


Pretty silver filigree bracelet from Bali--gift from my hubby



It matches my (tarnished) ring I got when I was in Bali so long ago.

I didn't have time to take pictures, but my husband and the kids planned a huge Indonesian-themed feast that was fun, delicious, and because it was complex for us, served on Bali time (same as island time).

The next thing I loved was cooking outside a few times. I finally got to use my new dutch oven.

Precursor to cowboy beans

I had a blast experimenting with cooking over hot coals, and, in addition to pleasing my inner pyro, it was yummy.


And now that painting's done, I love the new clean walls, but as it's not yet snapped, that picture will have to wait.





Thursday, August 25, 2016

Top Ten Things I Hate About Painting

1. Paint

2. Brushes

3.  Rollers




4.  Plastic on the floor

5.  Tape on everything

6.  Paint

7.  Total disruption of life since kids can't be running up and down the hall with messy hands.

8.  Painting (the physical act of making a total mess)

9.  Opening windows and turning off the A/C on a day with 103℉ temperatures and about 97% humidity. (I may be exaggerating on this one a tiny bit.)

10.  Having no clue about what I'm doing.






Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bad News, Good News

The bad news is that the two-year-old has learned how to lie-- on purpose.

The good news is that he's bad at it. A twinkle in the eye and a mischievous grin give him away.

Friday, August 19, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column-- August 17, 2016

Every time I open the door lately, I’m met with a blast of hot air that sucks all the energy out of me. This kind of weather is enough to make a body feel downright miserable. In fact, violent crime rates soar when the temperatures do. I guess we all feel a little extra ornery when the heat and humidity get to us.

But to be honest, I have plenty more reasons to feel cranky.

For starters, my dear husband found a few travel books at the library he thought I would enjoy. He was right, but as I paged through them, I was more than annoyed when I discovered somebody had torn out the pages I most wanted to read. What kind of person tears pages from library books?

Next on my cranky list is shopping for shoes. It seems all the summer sunshine makes more than just weeds grow, and what better time to buy than when taxes don’t apply? I truly dread dragging all the kids into stores and trying on about a gazillion different pairs of shoes to find the right fit, but I did it today. It was hot, crowded, and one of my daughters had to try on about two gazillion shoes to find the perfect pair. I didn’t like it one tiny bit. Why in the world did I think it was a good idea?

And the last reason I feel cranky has to do with watermelons. We love growing melons in our garden. The children plant the seeds. We water them. We weed them. We try to keep the preschoolers from trampling on their sprawling vines. And we check them often for the first signs of ripeness, but it is so hard to wait for that ripe and sticky sweetness that drips down your chin on a hot day.

Well, a couple of days ago, my son noticed our biggest watermelon was missing. There were no animal tracks, no plants torn up or nibbled, no tell-tale broken rinds anywhere to be found. Only the empty spot of dirt and the stem remained. What kind of person steals watermelons from little kids?

I hope it was a truly poor and hungry soul who really needed it.

But if it wasn’t, that ornery part of me that’s under the influence of the sweltering temperatures is glad because I’m fairly certain that watermelon wasn’t even ripe yet. 

Not the watermelon, but a honeydew I picked before it was ripe last week.


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There. Now that I’ve vented my steam a little, I’m ready to move on to more pleasant and cooler things like this ice cream pie recipe. While you may use whatever flavor of ice cream you like, I think mint chocolate chip is the best to beat the summer heat.

Ice Cream Pie

1 graham cracker pie shell
1 quart ice cream, slightly softened
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
4 squares semi-sweet chocolate
4 Tbsp. butter

Spread softened ice cream in pie shell and freeze hard. Then beat the egg whites until foamy and stiff. Add the sugar, 2 Tbsp. at a time. Beat until peaks form. Spread meringue over frozen pie and bake at 400℉ for 3-5 minutes. Remove pie and place directly in the freezer. Remove pie from freezer about 10 minutes before you plan to serve so it can soften enough to cut.

Serve slices of ice cream pie with chocolate sauce. Make sauce by melting chocolate squares with butter in the microwave, stirring frequently until smooth.