Monday, April 30, 2012


Are you ready for a party?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

World Book Night

This past Monday, April 23, I took part in World Book Night.  I was part of a group of volunteers who were in 5,000 towns and cities across America giving away free books.  The purpose was to reach out to, specifically, non-readers in the community. In the U.S. 500,000 books were given out, all underwritten by publishers, printers and the authors of the selected books didn't accept royalties.  The goal was one million books (as it is in Great Britain and Germany) but this is the first year for the U.S. participation and there were logistical problems.  Still, 500,000 books given away in one day is pretty impressive. 

I was given a list of books to choose from and decided to give Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.  It's an elementary age chapter book.  I remember specifically when I was handed this book by our premier children's bookstore in town, Pooh's Corner.  They stopped me as I walked in the door, "you must take this one!"  I looked at the cover (never judge a book by its cover!) and saw there was a dog.  "I can't.  I just can't read about dogs that die.  I can't take it."   "No! " they said, "the dog doesn't die!!"   OK, I took it.  I read it and loved it.  The teachers in 3rd grade read it to their classes every year.  It's an endearing book of friendship, loveable dogs and a young girl trying to figure things out.  Absolutely wonderful.
    So, I applied to be a giver and told that I would distribute the books right at school.

The idea was to give the books to children who were capable of reading this book but might not have the economic means to OWN a book.  The third and fourth grade teachers easily gave me the names of 20 children.  I left the book on their desks.  Throughout the day I was thanked with big smiles.  And today they came up to me in the halls, in library and on the playground telling me how much they loved the story and which page they were on "already!"
     I'm excited about next year.  I hope World Book Night people keep my email address.

p.s.  Blogger has a new look and it's taking some getting used to but I CAN now highlight!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oh so pretty

I do love this time of year. How can you not love pretty?

I went out to the garage last night and as soon as I walked out the door this very strong, amazingly sweet aroma hit me. I knew immediately the viburnum carlesii had blossomed. This bush is so intensely strong smelling it greeted me from the other side of the yard. A big yard.

I cut three - just three - blossom stems and stuck them in with the lilacs I found in a field the night before. By the time I went to bed the entire first floor smelled like a sweet heady super powered vanilla. Yum.

Slowly, slowly I've been working my way through 13 of these squares and I'm down to 4 left. Well, 3 1/2 actually. I've come to a truce with the flower in the center. When I started they were behaving badly but now we get along just fine.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Tiptoe through the tulips

Thursday was one of those beautiful days we generally see in May. But this is April. We decided to stop in the city of Holland on the way home to look at the tulips. Holland hosts a Tulip Festival every May. This year because of our very warm weather everything is about a month ahead of time. Even the tulips. This has the Tulip Festival people very worried and for good reason.
I like tulips. In other people's yards. In bouquets. I like the early perky primary colors so early in the spring. But I don't like them in my yard (we don't all have to like everything, do we?) After they're done blooming, we're stuck with the stems. Waiting sometimes for weeks and weeks for them to die down. Looking ugly and straggly and yellow as they do. So I enjoy them very much in bouquets and in other people's yards and Thursday as we walked through the fields of them in Holland.

Patient Husband saw these and said, "Look! These have teeth!!"
I liked the shadows of these on the edge of ...
these fields - rows and rows and rows of crayon box color.
I was told by my favorite strawberry grower that berries could be out in the middle of May. Usually we plan on strawberries in the middle of June. Strawberry pie for Mother's Day instead of Father's Day? Whoa!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blue and white

Don't you love blue and white? There are a few colors I don't like, not many - but some. But I love blue. Especially navy, lake and periwinkle. Indigo, baby, and National Geographic sky blue.
Today I looked out the window of my library at school and saw the pinkest crab apple trees in full bloom against that National Geographic sky blue so I took my camera to the front door where the dogwood was blooming and took this picture. I do love the dogwood trees. I have 5 at home. We planted a pink one at the front door when my mother-in-law passed away. She liked pink, though she looked better in blue. Then we bought three more white ones to plant for her and her two sisters. They were known in the family as "The Big Three." We planted those side by side so the branches would intertwine, like they did. There's another white one outside the back porch. I planted that the minute we finished building this house. It was the first thing in the ground and I enjoy it very much. Mrs. Wren likes to perch on it when she's building her nest in the wren bottle on the house.
I miss Snappyfriends and so will send this on to them.

For some reason I can't highlight my posts on my home computer (if anyone knows how I can fix this please let me know, it's frustrating not being able to highlight!!) so I have to send the whole address. Sorry about this! If you have an idea why I can't highlight, know that I CAN highlight in my blog on the computer at school. It's a mystery.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter poodle

My grandma always always made the lamb mold cake for Easter. But not once in my life have I seen it actually get cut and eaten. It held pride of place on her Easter dining table and she ate it herself after the holiday. It became a family story. My brother said he's seen it cut but it certainly wasn't on Easter.
I decided when I received an interesting recipe for frosting this year that I would make the lamb cake for the first time. The story of that frosting can be long or short. The short version is that I received a recipe for "European buttercream" from a parent from school but as I read it I had a few questions so I googled "European buttercream" and was given the choice between Italian buttercream or Swiss. The googled Swiss version was closest to the recipe from the parent so I went with it.
Long version: Six sticks of butter sounded like a lot of butter AND that it would make a lot of frosting so I halved the recipe. Now, I do know my way around a recipe. In the pre-fondant buttercream days I used to decorate wedding cakes so I wasn't afraid to try this. But it WAS different.
The first attempt was perfect! But only covered half of the cake so I had to make another batch and that went down the drain as a big sticky mess. Attempt number 3 was a bit like marshmallow creme but I went with it anyway and added the butter anyway.....I was using up LOTS of butter!!
The lamb was frosted in what I was hoping looked like lamby curls. I think it looks like the poodle we used to have when I was a kid. Elizabeth saw it and asked her mommy why a cow was sitting on the table. Sigh.
The finished piece tasted great. My mom kept saying over and over that the frosting was delicious. It's light, not overly sweet (because there's hardly any sugar in it) and very easy to work with. Google "Swiss buttercream."

Oh, and I really did cut it!
We had 6 little ones here for the afternoon. We hid candy stuffed plastic eggs and each child picked a color. When they were searching they could only pick up their color.
Adelaide's color was yellow.
Here are my niece's four and our E and A. Oh, and their great-grandma!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Things to do!

This week was spring break and the girls haven't been here since Christmas so they came for a couple of days for a visit. They were excited---they had an agenda....try the hammock and see if it still fits...
Read the new book Grandma bought
Ice Cream! We just had to go to the ice cream store and have some Blue Moon
Blue Moon is Adelaide's favorite because blue is her favorite color ... or is it blue is her favorite color because of Blue Moon ice cream?
We decorated Easter eggs. Elizabeth is a seasoned veteran and understands her task....
But Adelaide gently basted the color on her eggs while she sang to them so they wouldn't be lonely.
This is what a gently basted sung to egg looks like.
Done! Pretty as spring.
We went outside to make sure everyting was in order. We discovered the robin on the front porch was building a nest and using the string that still hung on the bushes from last summer's string art project.
We made a necklace from grapevines for Mr. Owl and Elizabeth decorated it with flowers.
So Mr. Bear needed one, too.
I think they covered it all. Except for the beach.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring break

It's spring break. I have one week plus one day off school and it's not enough! This early spring weather has forced spring chores to the top of the list so Friday I painted one bedroom, Saturday Patient Husband and I painted the back porch. Me inside, he outside.
Sunday, sore and stiff I resurrected my applique for an afternoon and evening of R & R.
Monday I baked in preparation for next Sunday's Easter dinner. These dinner rolls were so easy (and they involved yeast and STILL turned out (for me.) I made four batches. No way will we eat 4 dozen rolls but my freezer is now ready for anything.
I must tell you about these embroidered squares I received from Friend Elke in Germany. They are absolutely GORGEOUS, they measure 3 inches square, are hand embroidered by women in Afghanistan between the ages of 12-50. I'll share some of what Elke wrote to me about the project.
"The embroiderers are women who were taught traditional embroidery when they were girls. During the 25 year long duration of war, they couldn't practice their craft at all. As permanent fugitives they were mainly concerned with bare surival. The women taking part in the project now have learned the old embroidering techniques anew. Only a few months of handling the needle were required to produce a sellable piece of embroidery. After a time, young girls were also invited to learn to embroider, the older women serving as teachers. The project ensures regular wages for more than 200 women. The embroidered squares must not be bigger than 8 x 8 cm but they can choose whatever motif they want.
"As part of our concept not to sell finished products in Europe the embroidered square is finished as such but cannot be called a finished prodcuct. It is brought as a blank in order to be reprocessed in Europe, thus forming not only works of art but also small practical objects such as bags, pillows and even blankets which are to be completed by those who buy them.
"The finished product is not only a combination of the different techniques involved, but - symbolically speaking - the meeting of two different cultures..."
This project is under the care of Pascale Goldenberg, a free lance artist in Freiburg, Germany and supervisor of the embroidery project in Laghmani, Afghanistan.
I am thrilled to receive two squares from Elke and will think hard about how to use them. Her quilt group used them in a challenge.
On a food note, this is an amazingly simple yet yummy, yummy salad. I can't believe I even tried it in the first place...I don't like canned corn. BUT one of my co-workers brought it to school last week for Potato Tuesday ( we bake potatoes and people bring toppings for a nice lunch.) Anyway, as I walked by on my way to leave for some errands, I heard someone say it was a meatless taco salad. I thought, 'hmmmm'..... so got a spoon and took a taste. I turned around, said, "oh, my gosh!!!" grabbed a bigger spoon and took a bigger taste, left to run errands and hoped no one else liked it so there would be some left when I got back. Well, when I got back someone had LICKED the bowl clean. We followed said co-worker down the hall, pencil and paper in hand and begged for the recipe. Honestly, canned corn, can you imagine?
Meatless Taco Salad
(yet for lunch yesterday I added a bit of taco meat and lettuce and had a real feast)
One whole bag chili flavored Fritos, crushed
2 large cans corn (15 oz. size)
Taco shredded cheese
1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise (NOT salad dressing...use real mayonnaise)
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/4 chopped red pepper
onion optional.
Mix it all together but add the crushed Fritos just when you plan to serve it. And like I said, I added a bit of taco meat and lettuce and it made an amazingly tasty salad amazingly tastier. But it's absolutely delicious without.
Co-worker Kathy said when she takes this to a potluck she is dogged for the recipe and I can see why. We certainly weren't going to let the sun set on Tuesday without this recipe in our pockets.
Tomorrow Elizabeth and Adelaide come for a 2 day visit. Grandpa has an agenda we'll need a week to accomplish.