Monday, June 26, 2017

Kid Jokes-- Gotta Love 'Em

When you have little kids and they hear other people tell jokes, it naturally follows that, although they don't usually understand the jokes, they want to tell their own to make people laugh. We get a lot of that going on around here.

Sometimes I fake a laugh for their benefit. Other times I laugh hysterically for real just because they are so absurd. It's either that or cry. And after about twenty gazillion non-jokes told by several preschoolers at once, crying is an option.

So here is one the 3-year-old told in the van last week:

What did the tomato say to the deer?


And not to be outdone, the 5-year-old followed up with this good one:

What did the triangle say to the dot?

Better stay on the dotted line!


I laughed hysterically. I may have banned all joking from the van after the next 17 jokes were told, but I laughed.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gardens & Pepperoni Rolls

We planted our big garden a little later than we normally do, but we already have a bumper crop. It’s far too early for tomatoes, but at least all the plants are still alive. The pepper plants, too, have adapted nicely to the northeast corner of the garden. The beans are just popping out of the ground along with the popcorn, sunflowers, and a few pumpkin seeds.

Tomato and pepper plants waiting to be planted

So what could we be harvesting so soon? Well, for starters, rocks. We have so many rocks that we can’t pick them all. The children and I have removed buckets and buckets of rocks of all varieties-- big and small and all sizes in between. Sometimes we discover a piece of glass or metal or a fossil. Once my eldest even found an arrowhead. But always there are more and more rocks. 

From the middle. . . See the rocks popping up?

Our rock pile. . . all from the garden

This past week we had rain, and that means our next crop will soon be ready for picking. Tiny weeds are coming up everywhere. I’ve already pulled out wild brambles, milkweed shoots, indian hemp, crabgrass, and prickly horse nettle. I don’t know the names of all the weeds, but I attack them all equally.

Of course, if I could conquer the rocks and weeds, I would still have to contend with the critters. The deer have already nibbled some corn, and the guineas have dusted themselves in a hill of squash. Who knows what the bear will do when the pumpkins and melons get big.

From the zucchini hill corner

Sometimes I wonder, with all the hard work we put into our garden in the hottest weather of the year, why we even bother with it at all. In the end, I find my garden is like childbirth. When all is said and done, and I’m enjoying the fruits of my labor by biting into a perfectly ripened tomato or by watching the kids spitting watermelon seeds, all the hard work and rocks and weeds are just a distant memory. The reward is so great that I’ll gladly do it again.


Like my current garden, this week’s recipe has no vegetables. I’ll make no promises that pepperoni rolls are healthy, but unlike gardening, it’s easy, especially if you buy frozen bread dough. It’s a perfect grab-and-go meal or snack.

Best of all, there are so many variations that it’s really hard to mess up. Use whatever type or amount of pepperoni you want in each roll and make each roll the size you want them to be. Because variations in size change baking times, the biggest danger is letting the pepperoni rolls burn, so keep an eye on them.

Pepperoni Rolls

bread dough, store-bought or homemade
pepperoni (slices, sticks, or chunks)
melted butter

If you make your own bread dough, allow dough to rise once before shaping pepperoni rolls. If you buy frozen bread dough, follow package directions for thawing and rising. Tear off the amount of dough you wish to work with and roll it out with a rolling pin (or just smash it into a rough circle with your hands). Lay pepperoni out on bread dough and roll the dough up, jelly-roll style. Pinch the edges of the dough together to seal and lay the rolls, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet. Allow to rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375℉ and bake pepperoni rolls for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. When you remove the rolls from the oven, brush immediately with melted butter.

*This column ran in the Hancock News on June 21, 2017 (without pictures and captions).
**This post was shared at Strangers & Pilgrims at Home for The Art of Home-Making Mondays.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Coop Addition

We've had a growing problem with our guinea coop. The original design had water dripping down on the walls, and the walls weren't the best building material. It resulted in rotting walls with holes.

Rotten old holes!

We decided to plan our coop renovation to coincide with a visit from my in-laws because my father-in-law is handy-dandy at building things. So the demolition and building commenced.

Look, Ma, no walls!

Legs and ladders

Framing almost done

Look at that nail!

You might wonder what's so special about that nail. Well, when I went outside once to check on progress, my son had to show it to me because he hammered in THAT nail. That's why it's a special nail.

Just about done

So, after lots of nails and ladders (and boys feeling big on ladders), the coop is bigger and better. It isn't yet complete. It needs to be painted, and my husband wants to fix the roosts on the inside. But now it has a shiny, new roof and more ventilation. 

It can be our retirement home one day!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Purple Profusion Plus

I can't help but love when my clematis blooms. I admire it while I'm washing dishes since it's right outside my kitchen window. I also love the rustic trellis my husband made for me for the clematis.

But that's not all! There's more purple in my front flower bed. The bees are also buzzing around the lavender.

But that's not all!  I also have yellow! I think these butter and eggs might be a wild flower, but I like them. So when they found their way into my flower bed, I let them stay.

But that's not all! I don't even know what this yellow flower is, but it's also growing beautifully. I even took a picture of it to share with you. 

I hope you have enjoyed this virtual stroll through some of the growing things in my rather unkempt and haphazard flower beds.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Five on Friday

I've had so much going on lately that I have way too much for just one post! I'll just have to break things up over several posts.

1.  Outside Tunes. We used our Sam's Club points to buy this outdoor speaker about a month ago, and we are pleased. It made some hard work a little easier and a fire pit cookout a little more relaxing. If you're wondering what we listen to, my current favorite is a CD called Southern Family.

Outdoor speaker + iPod= Good times

2. Guineas. These guineas, delicious as their fresh eggs are, are the source of much work lately-- fixing their coop, attempting to barricade growing things from their attack, chasing them out of the garden. . . 

You talkin' to me?

. . . but they have now also become a source of a small amount of income. All the guinea feathers I had listed on my Etsy shop have sold out. I have more feathers to list, but I haven't had a chance to take pictures yet. Just to make things clear, the small amount of income does not even approach the amount we've put into taking care of them.

All the same, I'd do it again. I really enjoy watching those loud, funny-looking squawkers.

3.  Orange Sticks. What in the world are those kids up to now? Why would I allow them to put sticks in the backyard and spray paint them orange?!

Stick in the ground

Well, it turns out the kids didn't do it. The fellows who will be building a new addition onto the parsonage (if the permit stuff with the county ever works out!) measured and plotted out the limits of what will become some new space in our home. There are bumps right now in the permit process, so plans are going to change a bit. I'm sure there will be plenty of updates here in the next year.

4.  Toilet Paper Tubes. Yes. I did list toilet paper tubes on my Etsy shop. Can you believe people buy them? Well, they do, and it makes sense, especially if you consider classroom teachers (art teachers) needing hundreds of them all at once. 

Do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph a big pile of inviting toilet paper tubes without having a 3-year-old boy in the picture? I finally managed to get a few shots. Barely.

Brown cardboard tubes, tied up with string. . . 

5. Children in Church. I appreciated the article, "Children, Too, are Part of the Church," which can be found at Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife. It underscores what I have learned about children in church since I've had my own children.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Funerals, Friends, & Food

A friend of ours from church passed away recently. In the parking lot at the viewing, we bumped into acquaintances we hadn’t talked to for a month of Sundays. So with the kids whooping and hollering in the van, we took the time to catch up with each other. It was nice.

The next day, after the funeral, I heard other mourners say things to each other like, “It’s so good to see you again. It’s a shame it has to be under these circumstances. We shouldn’t wait for times like this to get together.”

I know I’ve heard sayings like that at about every funeral I’ve ever attended. And it’s true. We really should take more time to maintain our relationships with people we care about.

But each day only has 24 hours. For most of us, that amount of time is not nearly enough to eat, sleep, do the dishes, walk the dog, and keep up with everybody we’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Unfortunately that means some friendships take a backseat to the normal demands of daily living.

Even those I call my best friends don’t get the attention they deserve. Birthdays go by without cards or phone calls. I can’t remember their children’s ages without doing some major mental calculations. I have no clue if a beloved pet dies or what kind of cars they drive. It’s been years since I’ve seen them.

That doesn’t mean that our treasured friends aren’t important. For one, what would a funeral be like without them? Most funerals are still, even with our faith and family close by to lean on, downright sad. Now add in the delight of chatting with a long-lost friend or your second cousin from across the country; such meetings are gifts from God that distract us from our sadness and remind us of the joys of this life.

When I was a girl, we sang the song, “Make new friends, but keep the old; one is silver and the other’s gold.” I loved that song then because I loved my friends. Now that I’m older, I love it for the simple truth it contains. Old or new, distant or near, neglected or well-maintained, friendships are precious indeed.


When we first moved here, there were several deaths in the congregation with dinners that followed the funeral. During that first year at those dinners, I learned to absolutely love one lady’s pizza potatoes. At the recent funeral, she made them again, and I wasn’t the only person drooling. I’m lucky enough to have the recipe to share with you, but I must warn you: I’m pretty convinced that while the recipe is good, nobody will ever make them quite as good as my friend does!

Pizza Potatoes

1 pkg. scalloped potatoes
1 (16 oz.) can whole tomatoes (Home-canned are even better!)
1 1/2 c. water
1/4 tsp. oregano leaves
1 (4 oz.) pkg. sliced pepperoni
1 (4 oz.) pkg. shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 400℉. Empty potato slices and package of seasoned sauce mix into ungreased 2 quart casserole. Heat tomatoes, water, and oregano to boiling. Stir into the  potatoes. Arrange pepperoni on top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Serves 4.

Variation: You can make Hamburger Pizza Potatoes-- substitute 1/2 pound ground beef, browned and drained, for pepperoni; stir into potato mixture. Or for Sausage Pizza Potatoes, substitute 1/2 pound pork sausage, browned and drained; stir into potato mixture.

*This column ran in The Hancock News on June 7, 2017.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Five on Friday on Time

1. Summer Reading Program. Our library's summer reading program started yesterday. We all get into this because the special programming at the library is fun, the prizes are fun, and we think reading is fun.

2. Walks With Luther. On Wednesday the kids and I were finally able to join my husband for his Walks With Luther devotions for church. Basically we all meet at a park in town, my husband prepares a few quotations from Martin Luther and reads a Martin Luther devotion. After a final prayer, we all walk for a bit on the rail trail. This time we tasted some honeysuckle.

3. Funeral. Tuesday our family went to the funeral home for a viewing. Wednesday was the funeral and dinner afterwards. It was a busy day, but it felt good to be able to support the family of the deceased because they are so special to us.

4. Crash. My second son crashed his bike yesterday, and it was a gross scrape. I managed to hold it together to clean it out. He did even better; he was calm, cool, and collected. Impressive. Even more impressive is that he wants to get back on the bike.

5. First Sale. Or should I say, "FIRST SALE!"  because that's how I felt on Wednesday night after we got the kids in bed late and I checked my email. I finally sold something on my Etsy shop. A most wonderful person from New Jersey bought some of the guinea feathers. 

The feathers all wrapped up

Late into the night I worked to do the whole Etsy shipping thing and to package up the feathers. It's not that hard, but it was the first time and I had to figure things out. 

After this first sale, I've almost broken even with all the listing fees so far. This $3 sale is not making me a millionaire, but it did feel nice.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Not Five on Not Friday

1. Hotroot Soup.  My boys love the Redwall book series. They quote the books ad nauseam. They beg me to make the food that the critters in the books eat. This last week, I gave in. You can read about our efforts here.

Hotroot Soup

2. Handmade Gifts. Remember my daughter's birthday party last week? I finally got around to taking a picture of some of the gifts she received from my friend. I absolutely loved them, and what's most important, my daughter loved them, too. If you'd like to buy some other things my friend makes, you can check out her Etsy shop.

Doll with clothes (and Altoid box wardrobe)

Felted bag made from a wool sweater

3. Bear. We had a bear in the backyard. If you want to see more pictures, you can read my last post which I creatively titled "Bear!"


4. Lyme Disease.  Truthfully, I haven't checked to see if May is still Lyme Disease Prevention month. I just don't keep up on those types of things. However, after picking a few deer ticks off the kids this week, I figured I should post a link to one of my Lyme Disease rants. I don't want you or yours to suffer unnecessarily from Lyme, so arm yourself with information. If you search "Lyme" on the "Search this blog" spot on the right, you'll come up with a few other related posts. I didn't realize I had so many, but I guess it's been a big deal for us.

5. Graduation. My "baby" nephew graduated from high school tonight. I wasn't there. 😢 But I am so proud of him anyway. Congratulations, Travis!

6.  Ascension. This week, Christians celebrated Christ's ascension into heaven. A dear neighbor, friend, and church member died on the day of the Ascension. We mourn her passing, but we are also thankful that her suffering is over. 

Friday, May 26, 2017


We live in the middle of beautiful nowhere, and as such, wildlife abounds. While we sat at supper yesterday, a guest dined in our backyard.

Dining at the fire pit

Well, hello Mr. Bear! This is only the third time we've seen a bear in our backyard since we've lived here, so all manner of excitement ensued. We grabbed every camera we could and started snapping pictures.

Eventually, the very large bear finished his meal and ambled away.

Then, when we opened the door to get a picture without the glass in the way, he turned to face us.

"Dessert!" he seemed to say (in my mind)

And then, because we decided we don't want this fellow to keep visiting (no matter how cool and zoo-like the experience was), we shouted and made all manner of noise to scare him away. He turned and left quickly.

Do you wonder what he was eating at our fire pit? Was it dropped bits of hotdog or maybe a fallen s'more? Nope. 


The bear was eating ants. In fact, he upturned all but two of the rocks in our fire pit looking for them. 

Those rocks were big and HEAVY!

For comparison purposes, the above picture is "after," and the two pictures below are "before."

Newly made

With a lovely fire

Except for the fact that repairs must be done, this was a very cool experience. It was also quite educational, so it'll be going down in the books as nature study. I think we'll even get a journal entry out of this one.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Five on Friday- Belated

Things are more than busy this week. Each day has held something out of the ordinary for us, so this post has been delayed. It's been chaotic, so it's nice to sit here at the computer and remember all the nice things about the week.

1. Mother's Day. Because we had some sickness lingering in our house, we weren't going to see my mother (who suffers from COPD). Instead, my husband asked me if I could pick anything I wanted for supper, what would it be. I picked hot dogs and potato chips. Glamorous, eh?

Also the children (minus the baby who was napping) and I carried on the Mother's Day tradition of making cookies (except for my oldest daughter who went to town with Daddy and who would be making cookies with me later in the week). We made "Million Dollar" peanut butter cookies. The whole process was like the week--chaotic; what can you expect with five children helping in the kitchen all at once? But we had fun, and the cookies were yummy.

Me--wearing my Mother's Day gift apron and holding cookies ready for oven

2. Chicken. The Friday before Mother's Day, my husband drove to Fisher's for their chicken sale. It's a bit of a drive, but the sale is so good that even when you factor in mileage, we save a lot of money. We ended up with 3 huge boxes of chicken to put in the freezer. We also grilled chicken that evening and enjoyed a beautiful salad from our raised beds.

Some of the salad before--picture courtesy of one of the kids

The salad after, ready for the table.

3. Kids' Camera.  Back in February we went to a flea market and had a scavenger hunt. It was fun, and we found a digital camera for $5 for the children to use. They've been having fun with it. I just need to figure out how to get the date out of the bottom corner.

This is what happens when a kid takes pictures at a birthday party:

A picture of the birthday girl, sort of.

4. Birthday Un-cake.  Last December one daughter got a gingerbread house cake for her birthday. This weekend, my oldest daughter turned 8 (see picture below). She wanted a gingerbread house. I made it out of sugar cookie dough instead because gingerbread seemed not spring-y enough. With SweetTart roof tiles and other assorted candies, pretzels, pink sugar wafers, and colored graham cracker crumbs, a sugar cookie house was constructed.

Back view

Front view

5. Birthday cookies and cupcakes. Because my daughter loves bunnies, I made bunny cookies! To be honest, I thought the front yard looked bare. That house needed an inhabitant or two. When the cake was served, a bunny was standing on the front porch. 

Okay. To be totally and completely 100% honest, the real reason I made the bunny cookies was that I've wanted to experiment with decorating cookies with royal icing. I think all the cookies in magazines and on Pinterest look so pretty, and I wanted to try it. So I did. The results?

They do look like bunnies, I think.

The results were not as professional as I wanted them to be, but I learned trial-and-error style. I'm looking forward to trying again sometime to see if I can do better. And the birthday girl was thrilled by her bunnies.

Because I couldn't leave well enough alone with the sugar already provided, I decided to stick the bunnies on some cupcakes. I've served up birthday pie before, but for my own neurotic reasons I felt "just" cookies were inadequate for a birthday party.

Bunny cookies on "moss-covered" cupcakes

And while the cupcakes looked nice enough (even without the bunnies), the kids preferred eating the cookies. When I was cleaning up, as is usually true with regular birthday cake, I threw away several cupcakes that had been licked clean of frosting.

Until next Friday. Or Sunday. Or whenever.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Amazing Moms and Bread

Some people accomplish amazing feats-- swallowing swords, hitting home-runs out of the ballpark, or performing brain surgery. As for me, I have two astonishing accomplishments under my belt.

My first feat was accidental. I once somersaulted down a flight of stairs while holding a tray of pizza. When I landed at the bottom of the steps, I was unhurt and unbelievably holding a tray that still had pizza on it.  It sounds impossible, but it happened; I even have a witness.

My second great achievement is more common but infinitely more amazing; I gave birth. Seven times I’ve been an integral part of the miracle of life, and the whole process reminds me of flip-flopping down those stairs. In the end, I had no idea how I made it through, but there I was holding a gift more precious than un-spilled pizza.

But my mother-in-law has given birth to 13 babies, potty-trained 13 toddlers, nursed 13 children through who knows how many sicknesses, and not once has she killed a mouthy teenager. I am in awe of her. 

You definitely won’t find me in the ranks of women groaning about stereotypical mothers-in-law. However, I admit that I used to question her ways.

For example, why in the world did she so often answer my questions with, “Let me think about that”? Why wouldn’t she just give the advice I needed already? But I’ve learned for myself (thanks to my own children asking thousands of questions a day) that a quick answer often causes more problems in the end. She was right; it is so much better to think things through first.

She’s wise, my mother-in-law, and her brand of wisdom is rare. Not only does she think before she speaks, but she also holds her tongue when necessary. I’m proud to have as a second mother such an amazing lady.


For Christmas, my mother-in-law typed up all of her favorite family recipes and put them in a cookbook for all of her children, so I had almost too many recipes to choose from for this week’s Mother’s Day column. But as I was flipping through the pages, a note at the bottom of one page caught my eye. It said, “This Bread Is Amazing!!” It seemed like the perfect fit for a column about an amazing woman.

Vermont Oatmeal Maple-Honey Bread

2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups boiling water
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup brown sugar (or maple sugar)
1/2 tsp. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. honey
4 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. yeast
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
4 cups flour

In a large mixing bowl, combine the boiling water, oats, maple sugar, maple syrup, honey, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Let cool to lukewarm.

Add the yeast and flours, stirring to form a rough dough. Knead about 10 minutes by hand or 5-7 minutes by machine, until the dough is smooth and satiny. Transfer dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let dough rise for 1 hour. Dough should be doubled.

Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf. Place the loaves in 2 greased bread pans. Cover pans with lightly greased plastic wrap. Allow loaves to rise until they’ve crowned about 1 inch over rim of pan-- about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350℉. Bake loaves for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven when they are golden brown and interior registers 190℉ on an instant read thermometer. Drop out of pans and cool on wire rack. 

**This column ran in The Hancock News on May 10, 2017.
***This post has been shared at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth:The Art of Home-Making Mondays.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Five on Friday

1. Bird in Church.  On Saturday evening, my eldest and I went down to the church to get a few things done. A few things had to wait because there was a bird sitting on the Christ candle. A BIRD! And being the independent woman I am, I immediately called my husband on the phone for help. Then I told my son to do what my husband told me to do.

So what did we do? We (and I mean my son) opened the door and shooed the bird out. And out that black bird flew.

It sounds really simple as I type it up, but it was actually very exciting. Less exciting was cleaning up a little bird poop in the sanctuary.

2. Frugal Me.  Also last Saturday, I made horchata for potluck. I'd never made it before, but basically you soak raw rice and cinnamon sticks in some water, strain off the liquid, and add milk and sugar to make a yummy drink. That left all that ground up rice to go to waste. The frugal me couldn't leave it at that, so I ended up cooking that up into a sort of cream of rice cereal. It was okay. It didn't set our tastebuds afire for it, but it was edible and no waste.

3.  It Tastes So Gouda.  One thing that has lately set our tasted buds to the drool setting is smoked gouda cheese. I think we bought it at Sam's Club, and it is so entirely yummy, especially when it is a little melted. If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it.

4.  Plague.  Also happening on Saturday (a busy day for us last week)-- one child got sick. Then over the course of the rest of the week, the rest of us fell, including me. Wednesday I spent the day in bed thinking, "I don't even have enough energy to lay in bed." All are on the mend, except my husband, who isn't yet sick. Isn't it fitting that we studied the Black Death in history this week?

5. Etsy.  This is not another shameless plug for my Etsy shop, but it is a plug for Etsy. I love shopping there because you can find just about anything you want. This week I made two Etsy purchases and am looking forward to getting them in the mail soon. Unfortunately, I can't share them with you because they are secrets. Maybe later :)

And because this post needs some kind of picture, I will now do the shameless plug for my Etsy shop by showing a picture of a new hat I listed this week. It's a cotton one instead of acrylic, so it feels a little different. I love the color.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Did You Think You'd Ever Say. . . ?, No. 7

"Son, if you don't put your grammar book away right now, you'll be grounded!"

*Because I like to be honest, you should know I had to say this because my son was avoiding a chore. I am not breeding a new kind of kid who wants to do nothing but schoolwork during free time.  

Friday, May 5, 2017

Five on Friday

I've often admired blog posts with several random (short) points, but I've not made it a point to write such posts regularly. Because life has been busy and I don't have a ton of time to write about every topic that's on my mind, today I'll try to start writing such a post semi-regularly. While "Five on Friday" is an unoriginal title, it works for me.

1.  Mommy brag time. Back in January and February my school-aged kids thought I was a mean mommy. I required them to write entries in several contests. One was for the American Legion Auxiliary's Americanism essay contest. Two of the boys won local prizes, and one went on to win 1st place in the district. We also participated in the ALA's Poppy Poster contest, and while none of the children placed in that one, we enjoyed a pizza party for all participants. Our local chapter of the American Legion does so much for our community-- thank you! It was a good experience for our children.

Then last evening we attended a reception for the winners of a poetry and short story contest at the Washington County Free Library main branch in Hagerstown. It was the second writing contest I forced my kids to enter. Call me Tiger Mom Lite. All four of the children were honored for their entries and were asked to come forward and read their selections in front of an entire roomful of strangers. And they did it! There were nerves involved because this was the first public-speaking experience for three of them, but they did just fine. I wish you could've seen it.

Enough bragging. Please forgive a proud mama.

2.  Growth.  Have any of you ever noticed that your children take a growth spurt in the spring? In the last month, my eldest has grown an inch taller. This puts him exactly even with me. It is about time for his big adolescent growth spurt. Sigh.

Earlier this week he notified us that suddenly his shoes no longer fit, so our big trip to Hagerstown doubled as a shoe-shopping trip for him and his brother (who also no longer fits in any of his shoes). When we measured their feet at one of the many shoe stores we visited, we learned my eldest now needs to look for a size 12!

3.  Supper in Hagerstown-- Since we had to go to Hagerstown early for shoe-shopping, we needed some supper. My husband picked Karu Peru. We love this place and have been there 3 times, which, considering we eat out so infrequently, makes it a big favorite. They are a Peruvian restaurant and have delicious and juicy charcoal rotisserie chicken. Their sides (like potato salad and yucca fries) are nothing to sneeze at either. If you live in the Hagerstown area, you need to check this place out!

4.  Krumpe's Do-nuts--  Since the reception had us in Hagerstown after 7 p. m., you know what that means!

Full disclosure: These pictures are not "fresh" like the do-nut holes we enjoyed last night; they are from a previous post. We'll enjoy do-nuts for breakfast this morning.

5.  Sideling View Crafts--Yesterday was also a big deal for my Etsy shop. No, no. Still no sales. BUT yesterday a stranger marked one of my items as a favorite. Not my mom or my friend or my cousin. A stranger. Wow.

Well, this post was lengthier than expected. Maybe next week we'll make it 4 instead of 5; plus my life is not likely to be this exciting two weeks in a row. Have a good week!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Making Lemonade (or Rhubarb Custard Bars)

Dressed in my pajamas and an early morning sleepy stupor, I wasn’t the most aware Mommy. I suppose I knew the two preschoolers weren’t happy with each other, but their argument hadn’t yet penetrated my mental fog. It’s possible I might have mumbled out of habit a half-hearted, “No fighting, kids,” but I didn’t pay attention until 3-year-old Peter asked a big question.

“Mommy, is I the boss?”

I focused my brain and guessed that his older sister had just told him otherwise. I tried to break the news to him in a gentle voice.

“No, Peter, you are not the boss.”

He was completely unconvinced.

“Yes, I is! I is the boss!” he insisted.

Poor kid. Life’s lessons are not easy to learn. I’m still trying to figure it all out. I want things to turn out a certain way, but then I can’t make it happen no matter how long I plan or how many lists I make. What then?

Well, today my daughter attacked a cardboard box and a couple of toilet paper tubes with scissors, tape, and her vision of creating a car, complete with a steering mechanism, for her little brother to drive around the house. She worked on it all day long.

By evening, after several different designs failed, she realized the truth: those toilet paper tube wheels simply could not provide the support the car needed. 

What did she do? Well, she cried out her broken heart. Then she came up with another design-- a cardboard box car powered by the driver’s feet instead of wheels. She accepted reality and made lemonade out of her lemon car.

So when life throws a wrench in your plans, remember who’s the boss. Here’s a hint: it’s not you. Some things are simply beyond your control. But you can choose to salvage the broken pieces of your dream and shape them into something even better and more beautiful than the original.

Everybody knows that when life hands you lemons, you should make lemonade, but what do you do when a friend hands you bags full of rhubarb? I suggest trying this recipe for Rhubarb Custard Bars. My daddy made them for Easter, and they were delicious. His special tip was to keep the butter cold or the crust will turn out too hard.

Rhubarb Custard Bars

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup cold butter

2 cups sugar
7 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 large eggs, beaten
5 cups finely chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb (thawed and drained)

6 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream, whipped

In a bowl, combine the 2 cups flour and 1/4 cup sugar; cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into a greased 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Bake at 350℉ for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the filling, combine sugar and flour in a bowl. Whisk in cream and eggs. Stir in the rhubarb. Pour over crust. Bake at 350℉ for 40-45 minutes until custard is set. Cool.

For the topping, beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth; fold in whipped cream. Spread over the top. Cover and chill. Cut into bars. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 3 dozen.

*This column ran in The Hancock News on April 26, 2017.

**This post was shared at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth for The Art of Home-Making Monday.