Thursday, December 18, 2008

Junior cookbook Thursday- Lime Fizz

At last, something that Bluebonnet can really help with!
From the "Beverages" chapter of the 1958 edition, we get a rather summery choice for December. Lime juice, sugar, and water mixed together, to which is added club soda/seltzer when ready to serve. Bluebonnet poured the measure juice and water into the pitcher, and stirred to her heart's content. I think we both enjoyed the finished product. We made it in the morning while we were working on other things in the kitchen and had it as our snack.

(She also helped with Daddy's favorite Christmas cookie, which is really more a candy but very good, too. )

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rythm sticks

Unsharpened pencils make very good rythm sticks. Bluebonnet likes "Little Drummer Boy," so this morning when we heard a recording of that I gave her two unsharpened pencils and showed her how to tap them together. We clapped, tapped, and marched, all through the song. She came surprisingly close to finding the beat of the song.

We have a constant stream of a variety of music in our home. I hope Bluebonnet is absorbing a lot of what is around here, musically.

Pots and Pans

Elizabeth's lesson for us in Project Home Economics, yesterday, was about stocking and decluttering our kitchens, and how to choose which tools we need. She included several lists to work from.
My two cents on the subject is that one (or three) thing with which you can never go wrong is a solid cast iron skillet. If you have a good hardware store (read: Ace, or independent) they probably carry Lodge cast iron, for far less than you'd pay at a kitchen store. They'll last forever, they'll add extra iron to your diet when you cook in them, no nasty stuff from the teflon and whatnot that gets used in so many pans (no disrespect meant to DuPont!)- can't go wrong.

My own came from Grove Hardware in Deptford, NJ, purchased for me by Mimi (Mrs. Schroeder, to anyone else)- my spare grandmother, that is!

The next one is here!

Colin Murray arrived today!

Monday, December 15, 2008


My mother works in an asphalt plant. She runs the office, specifically, and she's the only woman there. There are other women who work at other plants for this company, but none at her office.
I've long teased her about being like an aunt to some of the guys, because most of them are about in my age range (mid-twenties to mid-thirties, although some are older as well.) Well, in particular she's most aunt-like to a very tall fellow who likes to tease. David a nd his wife welcomed their first little one this morning, so "Auntie" is pretty happy! (It's a boy.)

There are two other babies shortly to arrive, also both boys: our friends in TX (to be found at are awaiting number 12, and my cousin in Michigan ( are waiting on number 3!

Friday, December 12, 2008

The kitchen was clean this morning....

And then I started in on a larger-than-usual baking day!
The count:

-more gumdrop cookies to send to a friend and her family in Tennessee

-more pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, likely for the fire company but mainly to use up the remaining pumpkin

-zucchini bread for Sunday evening

-broccoli-cauliflower soup that we had for lunch

-pepperkakor (gingerbread cookies, rolled out)

-Swedish rice porridge whose Swedish name I won't even try to spell!

It was a busy day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Epples' Funeral

I think I can do this now.

Bluebonnet and I took a train from Richmond to Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon (November 23) to be able to be there. My father met us, having left my mother and a friend from the PEO chapter working feverishly on photo collages to use at the reception after the service. Father had done "tech support" in scanning and printing myriad pictures so that the collages could potentially go to Missouri for the subsequent services there. Nancy's mother had sent a number of older photos of a younger and exceedingly gorgeous Nancy, which ended up occupying most of the frames my parents own.
Mother's and Nancy's (and my, formerly) PEO chapter also took on the task of dessert for the service; that was a monumental task! We had no idea how many people to prepare for, but in the end probably served a couple hundred. The funeral itself was moved from the smaller Episcopal church to the much larger Catholic church, and and funeral directors rented the parish hall in the basement for our reception.
I spent part of Monday morning visiting and helping at the pediatrics office. Having worked for the Epples off and on during vacations for several years, I really found I belonged to both the "friends" and "office" category. I felt like I needed to do something there, where they're hit the hardest. I was glad to hear that several other pediatricians in the area have been helping, seeing patients, etc; there will be some legalities that may be complicated since the Epples were the sole owners of the practice. Meanwhile, Mother and Bluebonnet bought paper products and got things lined up for the afternoon.
Thankfully, my father-in-law was able to come to my parents' house mid-afternoon so Mother and I could get to the church to help set up. It was not quite 2:45 when we arrived and already people were streaming through to pay their respects. This was a closed-casket funeral, so it was termed "calling" rather than a viewing. We ran around setting up in an unfamiliar church (with some assistance from members of the parish). Eventually we all found a few rows in the front of the sanctuary, but I'm not sure how many of us PEOs went through the line. That line stretched out the door and down the sidewalk half a block, for over three hours.
Lawrence had a longrunning shtick of making balloon animals; most of the folks who work there have also learned to make them. They made quite a few for the children and young people, Lawrence's patients, to take at the funeral. Some laid them on the caskets, and others took them along. It was seeing that, a little girl of about 8 holding one, that made me fall apart in tears the first time. Otherwise I held it together until we left the church.
Many of the women wore interesting clothes that Nancy would have liked, or in several cases, wore jewelry that she'd given them. Several men paid extra homage to Lawrence by wearing funny ties (Donald Duck, crayons, etc.).
The service was a high Episcopal mass, which felt like a Catholic mass in which it was acceptable for a Presbyterian to take part! There were a few laughs over some of the stories told- you had to know the Epples and the way things just happened with them, and everyone knew some of those stories!
This is never something I would have expected we'd have to do. There's a member of the PEO chapter who turned 103 this year, and I can only imagine how strange she feels about outliving someone like Nancy, fifty years her junior. Tonight the chapter was meeting. The Christmas meeting was always wonderful, but I imagine it was sad tonight, with a gaping hole in the roll call and the room.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Organ

Several weeks ago, my father spilled the beans to our church music director that I play the organ. Being my father and a somewhat over-dramatic person, I think he painted my abilities a bit rosier than would be strictly true. And this led to the music director persuading me to play a piece last Sunday (November 30).

I had forgotten in the time since I had last played an organ, some three years back, just how much I do love playing. The time rehearsing flew, just as it always had, even struggling with an unfamiliar instrument and shoes that aren't really intended as organ shoes. Actually playing in church went in a mediocre fashion, at best, from my own perspective. However, everyone has been asking me if I'll play again soon.

The instrument at this church has quite a storied past, with which we were regaled on that Sunday but which is too detailed to relate here. Rather, I 'll share my own organ history as to just how I ended up attempting to play it.

It was October, 1989, and I was seven years old. In the same week I began piano lessons and singing in the Junior Choir at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Wenonah. During what I think was our third rehearsal, Mrs. Taylor took us up to the attic to view the pipes. Something about that experience caught my fancy as thoroughly as anything has ever done, and I knew immediately that I wanted to play the organ someday. Some time later, Mrs. Taylor mentioned that she had started lessons on the organ when she was fifteen, so I hoped that I would get to do the same. Alas, that didn't happen.

Meanwhile, I found out about Cottey College, went to their junior high science camp, and became convinced that I wanted to attend Cottey when I finished high school. Somewhere along the line Cottey's free music lessons and the presence of the organ only added to my resolve. As soon as I could get the teacher's recommendation out, I had my Cottey application off to Missouri, within the first week of twelfth grade and was accepted by mid-October.

Fast-forward again to the following August (2000). I found the organ and piano teacher (actually there is another piano teacher as well), and arranged my lessons, and at last I could begin! It was very slow going to train my feet to find the pedals, and even slower to learn to read three staves at once. According to My Knight, the transition from one staff to two (violin to piano) is very challenging; I went from two to three and found it probably equally difficult.

I was able to take organ lessons all through the two years at Cottey; I played for the traditional services at Christmas, Founder's Day, and Commencement, gave a recital during my second year, joined Mu Sigma Epsilon (a music honor society), and then went to the University of Delaware. There I was able to take some lessons on the very new organ in a building that was once the Episcopal church in Newark; however, the bureaucracy of the larger university unfortunately limits non-music majors' chances to study instruments, and I was unable to go on. I played a bit when I had a chance in the last few years, but somewhere along the line the organ shoes were lost. I kept it quiet that I even knew how for the entire time we lived in Texas!

Hymns certainly have their own sound on the organ. Anything does. There is no sound like it- and the grandest of all is the immortal Wanamaker organ that I have been privileged to hear every year in Philadelphia. I can't wait to go again.

Maybe I will play again soon.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gumdrop Cookies

It has long been something of a family joke that I love traditions. They're all quite correct in their accusations! Perhaps this comes naturally with a love of history, for that means that the things you do have a history of their own. I'm not quite as bad as my mother makes it out; she always says that if we've done something twice, it's a tradition, and if we've done it three times, "we've always done it". Well...maybe she's more right than I want to admit; I was pursuing the possibility of doing something again this year that we'd done last year at Christmas (and let's admit it, a ton of traditions surround Christmas!)

Of all the traditions we keep, not very many of them come from my father's side of the family, and consequently those are some of the ones I'm more tenacious about keeping. One of those is an old Christmas cookie recipe. I don't know how long my grandmother has made Gumdrop Cookies, but my father grew up with them. They're extremely easy- really just an oatmeal cookie with gumdrops, and they don't make a lot. They must, however, be quite unusual because they always seem to get people's attention. Bluebonnet and I just finished making a batch for this year. She helped by stirring the oats and gumdrops together, but decided that she didn't especailly care for the yellow gumdrops.

Oh, and you must use spice gumdrops, not fruit flavored ones.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Pumpkin Nut Bread

I think now we can get more or less back to normal. I'll write another entry about the Epples, later on.

Today we did another Junior Cookbook entry, having skipped last week for Thanksgiving (which, by the way, went nicely, with Bluebonnet's maternal grandparents joining us for several days). The recipe made a single loaf, which would easily double to use the entire one-pound can of pumpkin. This is obviously a good time of year to be making things with pumpkin! It called for "pumpkin-pie spice" which I didn't have; we improvised with ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in "dump" quantities. (I think I'm going to have to become more precise in my approach to baking as Bluebonnet grows and learns how to bake! ) Bluebonnet has gotten very good at stirring, or mixing, which is what she calls it. She helped to dump in the measured dry ingredients as well.

Having a great deal of quick breads on hand and in the freezer already, I offered the remaining pumpkin bread to My Knight to take to his colleagues tomorrow. Always a good way to dispose of extras! And yes, it was pretty good.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

We've stopped holding our breath

Lawrence Epple is gone, too.

Who will cook the corn now?

Goodbye. We love you both so much.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

No way to say goodbye

First of all: If you live in or are thinking about living in a house more than forty years old, please have an electrician come and take a very thorough look at your wiring.

"Pediatrician loses wife, home in fire"

It sounds so, well, newspaperish, which it is, but...when that wife is among the best friends your parents have, and is one of your own closest friends, it sounds pretty cold. The article can't tell the world how Nancy Epple could leave a group aching with side-splitting laughter when she told a story about her own predicaments, or how they kept Santa Claus hats in their suitcases so they could send Christmas cards with pictures from exotic and frequently incongruous locations. The reporter doesn't know how many thousands of children have been through the practice, or how Lawrence makes room in a schedule already too tight to see kids at the last minute, or what a little family the practice's staff have become over the years. (I did their filing during college, so I know the office from the inside.)

What, oh, what, do you do now?

We love you, Nancy J.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bad and Good at once, or Get Behind her, Satan!

One of my friends from Ft. Hood has MS, which is something that you tend to forget until she specifically mentions it. Her husband had been deployed for just under a year when she had a flare-up that made it such that she cannot drive for several months. I don't understand much about MS, so I don't know why that was the doctor's orders. I gather she's feeling fine now other than the annoyance of not driving. But, a mother of three small boys who's by herself cannot spend six months, or even the remainder of a deployment, without driving, and the Army recognizes this. Her husband was called home and was due to arrive yesterday. So, even in the face of sickness, we say welcome home, Lt. Moore! God is good!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Building relationships and keeping in touch

Apparently I had a good idea.

In a discussion in an email group about building relationships in fellowship in our churches, I suggested a way of starting. My idea was to start at the beginning of a church's directory and try to call everyone in turn. If the first family doesn't answer this time, leave a message and call the next (that is, if no one answers at the Alberts' house, call the Andersons, and so on).

The same thing could apply by sending little notes or postcards to everyone. You could also do this for keeping in touch with other friends or the people in a club.

At any rate, my suggestion was well-received.

Why is it that I can come up with ideas when someone else needs a solution to a problem, but I have few ideas for myself? I'm notorious for this! My mother has gotten all kinds of interesting solutions, from decoration ideas to programs for PEO, that way.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Home Economics Course

Elizabeth, whose blog A Merry Rose I've followed for a while, has begun a new one devoted to a thorough course in home economics for keepers-at-home. I highly recommend joining in, before it's progressed much farther and you find yourself missing out. We all need some chances to take stock and get re-organized, which is where she has begun thus far. I think even older girls who are not yet the keepers of their own homes may get something valuable from this course.

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Saucepan Spaghetti

When they called this "Saucepan Spaghetti" they weren't kidding! Everything was dumped in together. First we browned the meat, then added all the sauce ingredients, and then when the sauce was boiling we added the noodles. They seemed to cook more quickly than cooking in water, but that could be only my perception. Bluebonnet helped by stirring the sauce and by dumping in several of the spoonsful of spices. This made a hit with Daddy as well. We served it with salad and garlic bread (a favorite in our house, made according to my father-in-law's procedure.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

out of the mouths of babes

My Knight cut his hair this afternoon, which prompted Bluebonnet to comment "Daddy hair missing".

Friday, November 7, 2008

Junior Cookbook- Curled Hotdogs

Or "ock-a-dogs" as Bluebonnet pronounces it! To do this, you had to slice partway through the frankfurters, slicing across, so that they curl when cooked in hot water. I'm not sure of the physics of this one! Unfortunately it was really one which Bluebonnet couldn't help with at all, but it was pretty clever. The cookbook suggests serving on hamburger rolls; we used fresh bread and ate them as something like open-faced sandwiches.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Now what?

I'm sure most of us are thinking the same thing. After tomorrow's Return Day in Delaware I'll post about how that comes out. It should be interesting.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Charming Book!

Yesterday I read a little book called A Necklace of Raindrops, by Joan Aiken. It's not new, although the copy from the library wasn't very old either. It's a collection of original stories, each separate from each other. I'm hesitant to call them fairy tales because that's somewhat the feel, but not the typical medieval fairy tale setting; they're more latter-day without feeling too "modern". One story concerns a quilt carried off by a thief, and another has the characters in a girl's books coming to life to play at night.

I was blessed enough to learn a little bit about the craft of storytelling from a dear lady who went on to Heaven a few years ago (at age 90). Her name was Sally Gottschling, and everyone who knew her, would tell you that she was the storyteller. (Some of the best stories she told were ones which put herself at the punchline! Ever since she taught me the little that I know about how to tell stories, I've kept my radar out for stories that would be good to tell. I think one of the stories in this book, "The Three Travelers," is one that I'd like to learn for telling. My repetoire is limited right now, with only three that I can truly tell well and without practice- and two of those are for Christmastime!

A Necklace of Raindrops is a definite gem, which I'd have no reservations about any child reading.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Two days late for Junior Cookbook Thursday- PEter Rabbit Salad

We're back on track with our Junior Cookbook Thursdays, except for my posting!

Peter Rabbit Salads, from the 1958 edition, called for canned pears but since I was already making something else that used fresh pears, we used fresh pears. We put pear halves face down (round side up) on lettuce, and added slices of marshmallow for ears and tail, and cherry for a nose. Optionally you could add whole cloves for eyes.

They looked like mice with puffy tails.

Bluebonnet helped pretty well by arranging the pears on the lettuce and trying to stick the marshmallow slices on the pears. She wasn't too impressed when we ate the marshmallows.

(As a sidenote, she hadn't been with me when my family had visitors from Denmark a few weeks ago and we taught these Danes how to make s'mores. I don't know what Bluebonnet would have thought of those, but the Danes liked it. So did all the Americans who were there.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Feminine Wardrobe

Janel at Becoming Janel had a post a couple days ago about adding accessories to our wardrobes to avoid the frumpiness and find what we like. I was thinking, after reading that, that we women at home actually have a great deal of freedom in what we wear. Within our own family's standards of modesty (and cost) we can wear whatever we'd like, and be as ecclectic as we please. This last is especially true of my own wardrobe and always has been. Of course, it took me until college when someone pointed that out (as a compliment) to notice that I really was that way. I suppose "what I like" is just pretty broad!

You should enjoy almost everything you wear, whether it's simple or elaborate, choring clothes or dressy clothes, something new or vintage, or totally unlike anything you've ever worn before. If you sew, you might have found that a certain pattern is one you make over and over. Next time, make it in a fabric that just catches your eye and isn't like anything else you have. I've done this with a dress that I've made in everything from light yellow flowered print to grey corduroy strewn with vintage buttons.

We have such freedom, to follow or ignore fashions as we please! And don't you think that we bring more glory to God when we feel like ourselves in what we're wearing?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


The packers are coming today and tomorrow, so we're in for a couple of utterly crazy days. Quite honestly it's an irritating process to direct traffic and to feel that you're underfoot in your own home, but it's preferable to doing the whole thing ourselves!

Ironically enough, my Cottey best friend hadn't been here at all, living several states away herself, until last night. She's staying with another of our friends not far away so they came over yesterday. And instead of actually seeing where we live, she got to see us in a state of ready-to-move. Since she's had almost as many addresses as birthdays she knows about moving probably better than most military families. It certainly didn't faze her.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The piano is here!

It's big, heavy, beautiful- it looks like a real piano. We finally got it in the middle of the afternoon today. It took My Knight several hours to assemble it, although it should not be disassembled again. Ever. Alas, as busy as we are getting ready to move, we didn't get to use it but for a few minutes after supper.

What wonderful things we can do. The metronome can sit on the top of the piano, we can put the boxes and baskets of music to the side, and we will be able to go back to having our family hymns and devotions once we've moved. I hope this one will last us many years!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A thought...

Imagine if Will Rogers and Mark Twain could have traded commentary and quips.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Peanut-Cocoa Shakes

This was from the "Anytime Treats" chapter of the 1978 book. It's a variation under the chocolate shakes recipe, in which you add 2T of peanut butter along with chocolate syrup to milk and vanilla ice cream. The product was still pretty thin; I'm always shocked at how much ice cream and how little milk go into milkshakes! (Actually, I probably don't want to think about it, especially when ordering a milkshake at Nifty Fifties....) Bluebonnet was interested in trying to help with every step, but the only thing I could really give her to do was to pour the milk from the measuring cup into the blender. She did also tell me that the blender was loud.
Bluebonnet and My Knight both really liked these. I found it a bit too sweet but generally liked it; I do love chocolate and peanut butter together.

This is the last Junior Cookbook Thursday post until we've moved. I'll have other posts between now and then but not JCT.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"Where were you?"

That's the question everyone will ask this day for decades.

Cottey College. It was just as bright in Missouri as it was there in New York. All day, girls who hadn't been in a class were checking on the television and reporting to girls in their classes on what had happened or was speculated.

My best friend had an earlier class than I did, so she didn't know anything by the time we met up outside Hinkhouse Center (the gym and dance building) between classes. The only class (of four) that I had in which we conducted class at all was a ballet class. Every other class just sat and talked about what had happened.

After lunch (and for some reason I remember there were brown-sugar sandwich cookies for dessert) I realized that the flag needed to be lowered to half-mast. You have to know Cottey to understand what I'm about to say, but I took myself upstairs to the college president (Dr. Washburn) to ask about it, intending to do it myself, but Dr. Washburn got one of the maintenance men to take care of it.

After supper everyone was still phoning relatives, trying to get a chance to give blood, checking on friends and family who could have been affected in some way. (My aunt had to walk home, I think; My Knight was at Hofstra University in Long Island and could see the fires from campus.)
We prayed around the flagpole; I went to the organ and I think what I played was "Eternal Father, Strong to Save". Later, Dr. Washburn walked through all the suites to check on her girls.

Now, someday when Bluebonnet is bigger, we'll have to explain what happened; it's going to be a lot tougher than when our parents explained about Kennedy being shot or the Challenger exploding.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Quote Concerning Hospitality

"The potatoes are boiling, the kettle's singing, and I daresay, Mr. Beaver, you'll get us some fish."

You may recognize that from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Perhaps because of the way it was read on a recording I used to borrow from the library, that sentence has always stuck with me and come to mind whenever hospitality is at hand, especially the more spur-of-the-moment hospitality. Remember the Beavers and have company!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Words and attitudes that need to go

There are several words that are constantly misused, overused, or otherwise trotted out inappropriately. Some of the most irritating include "deserve" and "normal". "Deserve"- well, no, I don't deserve new clothes every month of the year, having my nails done, or any of the other nonsense that most magazines will have you believe we do. But that's another story.

"Normal" is one that really gets under my skin. I have seen this one thrown around by scores of critics of people who don't quite conform. Robyn ( has taken huge amounts of such criticism; admittedly her family does things in a very non-conforming way, but there's no excuse for the vitriol that comes toward her way of life. She and many other conservative Christians have to listen to endless commentary that generally boils down to their children not having a normal life because they have a large number of siblings, live off-grid, home school, are expected to do a number of chores around home, wear modest clothes, etc. (The Duggars get this too, but as sickening as such criticism is, they've put themselves more in the public eye than an average blogger's family.)

But no one ever defines "normal". Do they mean conformist? Because surely every one of those families that are "normal" by that definition must come out exactly as rosily as they hoped, right? What exactly is "being a kid" that young people who have several younger siblings miss out on?

And while we're on the subject, I'd also like to impose a ban on using terms you can't quite define. I've encountered numerous misuses of "Quiver-full" and inaccurate comparisons of conservative Christians to the Amish. If you don't know what you're talking about, don't say it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- No-Knead Yeast Rolls

This wa from the Breads section of the 1978 edition. We made them in the morning, so that they would be available for lunchtime. They were similar to many other bread recipes, although if made into a loaf would only make one (one packet of yeast). We heated the butter and milk together before mixing them in with flour and yeast and sugar and salt. Bluebonnet poured the milk in to the saucepan initally.

There was a long rising time, an hour for the first time and a half-hour for the second, but they only bake for 15 minutes. The recipe tells you to use muffin tins for rolls. We did that, and found that the 400-degree oven made a very crisp outside to the rolls. I expect the dough could be shaped a number of ways for other interesting rolls or loaves. And everyone seemed to like them, eaten with peanut butter, for lunch.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hope deferred makes the heart sick

My Knight's wedding gift for me was an electronic piano. Because we move every couple of years, transporting the "real" piano that technically belongs to me would be very impractical, so an electronic one was a better choice. (Also, my father uses the real one, which is still at their house as you might gather, so if I were to take my piano, he'd be without one.)

However, electronic pianos have a pretty limited lifespan. Four years this one lasted, and in May it quit, just before he returned from Over There. We had to wait a while to be able to look into a replacement. then the music store listed in the phone book didn't exist, having gone out of business. We'd finally concluded that we'd order one online, a perfectly fine option.

Meanwhile I was looking forward very greatly to our evening planned for tonight, to spend time singing hymns at some friends' house (whose piano is still quite new). But- as we were setting out to go there, our car wouldn't start. So now we wait longer, and have to put off our hymn sing with friends.

We can afford the repairs on the car, as well as ordering the piano as planned, but I'm still pretty glum about it.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I guess it's official....

this is now a Harley household! My Knight bought a blue motorcycle from one of the other guys in their unit ( who was himself buying a brand new one). He's learned to ride it and has been having lots of fun practicing. He has ridden to work once; now will come the real fun when we move!

Our best friend, whom I shall refer to as Owl (long story!), has been riding a Harley for several years. Owl grew up around motorcycles, as his grandfather does work as a motorcycle mechanic and has several antique motorcycles as well. Owl and My Knight are planning to ride together when we move, so it'll be a caravan and a very different kind of trip than most. I'm looking forward to it, though.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Vegetable Soup

Tonight's selection came from the "Vegetables" section, rather than "Main Dishes," of the 1978 edition. It was very basic and really rather quick, especially as soups go. A broth, water, canned tomatoes, raw potato and celery, some frozen mixed vegetables, and miscellaneous seasonings went in and it simmered for about 20 minutes. I added dried minced onion, and probably would add fresh onion if I were to modify this for "regular" use. Then again, I add dried minced onion to many of my savory dishes and am a great fan of onions in other ways, too!
Bluebonnet assisted by watching and by putting the bay leaf into the pot. My Knight enjoyed the soup, as well as Bluebonnet and I did.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reading a favorite

It may be somewhat silly, but for about a year I've already been reading older-children's books aloud to Bluebonnet. I love children's literature in my own right, so I get to enjoy them too. right now we're reading Robert McCloskey's Homer Price. Robert McCloskey is, I'm afraid, a sadly overlooked wroter in our American lexicon. His writing and illustrations are both wonderful, slightly similar in style to Rockwell IMO.

Homer Price is a boy whose age isn't defined but is likely around 12. He lives a very American small-town life in 1940s Ohio. He seems to be a bit more observant than average, as he notices such things as exactly how an old maid outwits both of her suitors, and figures out what must have become of a missing bracelt. That observant quality, however, is not a flippant attitude toward the adults, just Homer's trait. The spoonerizing Sheriff and other characters in Centerburg make it a pretty funny read-aloud. I really recommend this one and its sequal for boys, but (obviously) it's enjoyable for girls too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bach to basics

That was not a typo! I've made that joke countless times, as has everyone who's ever played the organ in the last 300 years.

Anyway, when my husband's grandmother died several years ago, we were given the record collection from her house (along with a few other things). Grandmother and Grandfather amassed a very nice collection over the years, primarily of classical and baroque music. We have a number of other records mixed in among them- things that were my mother-in-law's as a teenager or college student, my uncle's Beatles albums, a set of Time-Life American History records which I highly recommend, and some miscellaneous Christmas albums from various sources.

The rub, of course, was finding a record player.

Happily, they are available. Whether that's "they're still available" or "they're available again" is a matter for question. A not-very-surprising Christmas gift that year from my parents was one of these models that includes a cd player, tape deck, and am/fm radio as well as the turntable. The whole thing looks sort of retro.

All our records and cds are in one place, by the player, and pretty much the player is going from before breakfast until Bluebonnet goes to bed every day. If we're at home, there's usually music playing. I alternate between records and cds, and with the assortment we have to listen to, we have a lot of fun listening.

There is no particular order to the way the records are arranged, but it's happened that we've had a number of JS Bach recordings lately. We have two copies of the Brandenburg concertos. This is not overkill; they're such fun that it's worth hearing them twice as often. They are cheerful without being so overtly peppy as marches or Water Music. They're very pleasant and recognizable, but not trite.

I think there's a certain group of recordings that are essentials. I'd welcome any opinions of additions to such a list. My first thoughts are:

JS Bach- Brandenburg Concertos
Handel- Messiah
Beethoven- Complete 9 Symphonies
Bing Crosby's Merry Christmas
Vivaldi's Four Seasons

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Oriental Steaks

We made this for supper. I think it was a pretty good example of the mid-century (even 1978) tendency to pretend they were making authentic foods. The soy sauce and rice are the only things that make this remotely Asian! Peppers and tomatoes are stir-fried, then the beef cooked (all in a skillet), then you make a sauce with soy sauce, starch and sugar to cover and coat. The instructions in the recipe tell you to put the sauce in a jar and shake to mix, so Bluebonnet's help was to shake the jar. I found an empty plastic parmesan cheese jar, so I didn't have to worry about her dropping a glass one.
Not my favorite, so far. I guess we'll take the good with the bad here!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Scientific demonstrations?

Bluebonnet has been discovering many things by doing them. This morning she was interested in pendulum motion, demonstrated by her swinging a string of beads and spools. She probably observed something about momentum too. She saw how air has to escape a vessel as liquid goes in by filling a watering can in the little tub that had filled with rainwater yesterday. We demonstrated gravity by lifting one end of her crawl-through tunnel to get the ball out of the middle of it. And they say science is unreachable.... All this stuff is just in the course of Bluebonnet's playing near mommy.

A note about the beads and spools: The beads are big colorfully painted wooden balls (1 or 1.5" diameter) that my dad made for her. The spools are a mixture of wooden and plastic ones I have saved. If you sew, save your spools! There are so many possible uses for them in playing and schooling- they can be stacked, counted, sorted, strung, rolled, raced, compared, used for patterns if you can paint wooden ones. They'd be a great thing to keep around for nieces/nephews/grandchildren, too, even if you have little space to keep toys.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I was planning to post something about the way the TX weather has been, that we've been promised rain for most of a week and nothing has fallen. Now, it's finally falling! What a welcome sound. I must say, after two years of Central Texas, the idea of a place with a lot of rain, like Fort Lewis, WA, or somewhere similar is starting to sound very nice indeed. I wish I could say I actively waited on God for the rain, but I feel more like I just plain waited. Yet the blessings came, all the same.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bluebonnet has been pretending to vacuum- using the yardstick. Quite the imagination, little one!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Hot dogs

Okay, so some of the recipes are so simple it's rather silly. Perhaps I shouldn't be married to my plan and should skip some things until such time as Bluebonnet can really do them herself, but if I did, I'd get hopelessly disorganized about it. Eventually we'll come around again.

Truthfully, it's always fun to have something like hot dogs, but I do prefer mine grilled over having them boiled, which was the way they were made today. (Except, of course, the time my uncle ended up with something that more resembled charcoal than frankfurters...brilliant man who generally otherwise can cook fine but that was, er, memorable!

Someone once observed that hot dogs always taste best outdoors. Every time I eat a hot dog (which isn't all that often, honestly), I remember his comment and think he was correct.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


If you expect something profound in this post, from the title, you'll be disappointed!

Someone once, none too poetically, likened dreams to the garbage can of one's mind. I think he was correct, in that dreams do seem to mix up a myriad of mental images and randomly assemble them in ways that rarely, if ever, make any sense. I've had occasional dreams that make perfect sense in the light of day...emphasis on occasional.

But really. Last night's dream? The four of us who were constant companions the first year at Cottey (Crys, Ratty, Texas, and Wenonah, aka Beeper) had been hanging around together- which is hard to accomplish now, as we live in three different states! There were pictures of Ratty holding Bluebonnet- Ratty has never seen Bluebonnet at all. Texas, Crys, and I, were relaxing in a hot tub- into which, for some reason, Crys floated alphabet blocks before she got in herself.

she's going to laugh at me and never let me live this one down when I tell her about it, miss Ghost Pirates.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Kit Kittredge

The movie theater on the base is basically a second-run theater, and really you can't beat going for $1 on Monday. So last night, leaving a PEO sister babysitting for BLuebonnet, I joined a couple other friends and their daughters for the show.

I had been a tad apprehensive about this latest installation of the American Girls' Collection movies, being the purist that I am for the stories. The trailers I saw earlier were indicative that there was a lot changed between Valerie Tripp's original writings and what appeared on the screen. That was true, and yet something didn't bother me as much about the alterations as it had when the Molly movie came out. Perhaps it's just that I'm far more familiar with Molly than with Kit. In any case, the Kit movie did hit on many of the essential story elements of the Kit books. It was pretty funny to see Wallace Shawn as the newspaper editor, too. And of course, not that I'm the first to observe this, but it is extremely refreshing to see such a clean movie, in which the children are children, the women (except Miss Dooley, who's sort of a caricature and definitely not to be taken seriously) are dressed and behave modestly, the men are respected, and so on.

I think I'll really enjoy when Bluebonnet is big enough to be interested in the American Girls. There's something sort of unusual about having this thing in common with women and girls across an ever-widening age range. I'm toward the oldest end, of course, although there are plenty of women who were a few years older and got into the stories sooner than I did. As yet I haven't heard any rumors about which character will be the subject of the next movie, and I don't know really which to hope it will be.

Monday, August 11, 2008

In case you haven't heard already

I was very glad I didn't call it a night earlier last night! The men's 4x100 freestyle race took place around 10:15 and I would have been sorry I missed that. Certainly there's almost nothing that isn't already being said in the articles! "Exciting" doesn't begin to cover what it was like to watch that race. The French had gone boasting, and they had their boasts sent right back, marked return-to-sender along with the silver medals.

The other teams certainly swam well, and all but the last couple finishers know that their teams beat the previous world record. The winning time was almost four seconds faster than the earlier record. This was not a shabby swim for any of the men competing; however, it definitely was between the Americans and the French from the first men off the starting blocks.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Smart cookie

When I had the Olympics on yesterday, Bluebonnet identified the rowing sculls as "boats!". How she extrapolated that, I don't know, as I can't recall she's ever seen anything remotely like that, even a canoe.


To put it simply, I really enjoy hymns. I've had a lot of experience with music, although I'm not all that wonderful a musician, and every time I get to play or sing hymns, it's always my favorite thing to do. My husband says I oversing a bit in church, and he's probably right. First, because he generally is right about most thigns, and second, because I do get enthusiastic about it.

The Orthodox Presbyterian Church is a denomination that loves its hymns, The churches we've attended have had varying levels of musical involvement, and always lots of hymns. This morning we sang several from the resurrection section of the Trinity Hymnal, including "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" and "Look Ye Saints the Sight is Glorious". I suppose that one of the good things about our frequent moves is that we can learn different hymns as we worship at different churches. Each church always has certain hymns that through no particular design are somewhat more frequent favorites. "Look Ye Saints" is one of those which I never recall having sung anywhere before we came to Providence OPC in Austin.

In retrospect, I almost wonder if the main reason I always wanted to learn the organ was to play hymns. Once I got to college and could start organ lessons, one of the first things I did was to start learning a hymn. I started wiht "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"- neither the easiest nor the most difficult in the book, but very familiar. Painstakingly I worked at coordinating each chord with hands and feet. I can only imagine how it sounded to anyone outside, for the Cottey chapel was not air-conditioned and so the windows stood open for several weeks at the start of my first semester.

A performance is always delightful. It's an adrenaline rush, to rehearse and practice for weeks or months and then have people listen and watch. Hymns are not like that; they are something for worship and enjoyment, and relatively little preparation. Some of the most enjoyable gatherings we've had have been times when groups of Christians have been able to get together to sing (or play) hymns, which we're planning to do with another OPC family in a few weeks. I'd encourage anyone who studies the piano or organ especially, although other instruments as well, to work through your hymnals time and again to become familiar with hymns!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursday- Rasin Oatmeal Cookies

This was from the 1958 volume. First of all, it sounds strange to say "raisin-oatmeal" instead of "oatmeal-raisin". It seems rather like trying to reverse the order in which you refer to another couple by name; if you usually refer to Sam and Janet Evening, it's going to sound pretty strange when you hear someone refer to Janet and Sam Evening.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way! The recipe uses shortening, so it's a crisp cookie and not a flat one, but the flavor isn't quite what it should be. Margarine would also work to keep the texture but add the flavor. Overall they turned out pretty well. Bluebonnet was interested in turning the sifter for the dry ingredients (which did not include the granulated sugar.) She also wore the brand-new apron that was a birthday present from her Great-Grams (my maternal grandmother, fwiw.)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mama to a two-year-old

Officially. Bluebonnet turned two today, and yes, like every other mama ever, I think "where did the time go"? Fifteen of the last twenty-four months had her Daddy fighting Over There, which actually dragged along even though the whole of the last two years have gone quickly. We don't even know where we'll be living when her third birthday rolls around!

Bluebonnet was given a nice variety of gifts, including several puzzles hand-me-down from the cousin and a teaset. All in all, she had a happy birthday.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Commitment to Loveliness (Charming the Birds from the Trees)

1. Try to keep my hair neat and covered.

2. Be as pleasant as possible on the phone when my husband calls from his TDY.

3. Memorize Psalm 117 (Yes, I know it's the shortest one!)

4. Take pictures of and list several things on Ebay to get them out from underfoot.

5. Continue working on the wedding sampler I'm making for my friend.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Okay, so what's the deal with the name?

You might notice that my blog address, my email, and what I call myself are all Wenonah4th. So what on earth am I talking about? Any very astute scholars familiar with Longfellow might recognize that Wenonah was the daughter of Nokomis and mother of Hiawatha. It is from her that the name of my hometown of Wenonah, NJ, is taken.

Because Wenonah began as a summer place in the 1870s, a thriving local 4th of July celebration began, grew, continues, and hasn't changed a whole lot in all these many years. I could try to describe it thoroughly, but it really has to be experienced. It has always been very homegrown, and everyone always comes back for that one day. If you don't come home to Wenonah any other time of the year, you come back for the 4th. I have participated in the parades there almost every year since I was three years old, and have come up with our family's entry ideas since I was ten. Even in those years that I've not been in Wenonah, I still find that 4th of July stands as my favorite holiday. To use this as my online identity is intangibly more than simply going by my favorite celebration; the Fourth is a huge part of who I am.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

How the party went

One of the things I love the most about the Orthodox Presybterian Church is that in addition to being a very sound, theologically, church, it's also a small world. We have found ourselves instantly connecting with everyone we meet within the OPC, to a greater degree than when we meet other Christians of other denominations. I don't doubt that many others love the Lord, but something about the OPC's size makes it that much more wonderful.

That's all prelude to the fact that the other family who came today for Bluebonnet's birthday are an Army chaplain's family, and he's one of not very many OPC chaplains in the Army. My Knight had never met any of this family, but by the end of the evening the two gentlemen were discussing theology like old friends.

The party itself went nicely. My Knight cooked steaks and bratwursts on the grill, we had raw veggies, jello, chips, and of course a birthday cake. The kids played in the sprinklers and I was crazy enough to fill several dozen water balloons for them to enjoy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Frugal Friday- let others be frugal too!

Bluebonnet's turning 2 next week, adn since she's our first, this is our first little foray into the world of having a "friends" birthday party. Actually it's reallly going to be a cookout with a birthday cake; one other family whose youngest daughter is just about the same age will come tomorrow.
So- the frugal aspect here is that we specifically told the other family that we don't want any presents for Bluebonnet. We don't want extra stuff (combined effects of over-buying grandmother & frequent moves!) and I don't want the other family (or anyone else) to have to go to the expense of a gift because they've been invited. I plan to consistently have no-gifts-please friends' parties for our children. Whether in future, when more of the children attending are the same age, we have any kind of party favors, remains to be seen. I do plan on trying to get some pinwheels today for them to play with tomorrow.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Junior Cookbook Thursdays

We have in our posession two different editions of the Better Homes and Gardens Junior Cookbook, the one my mother had from 1958, and my own, which I got in 1988 but was published in 1978 (got that?). Unfortunately the most recent edition is utterly hideous, cartoony and such. Anyway, every Thursday we make something from one of the two. For now this is mostly just something that *I* do for fun, but it's going to grow into Bluebonnet's earliest hands-on lessons in cooking. So, each week when we've had our Junior Cookbook Thursday I'll post about it- now if I can just figure out how to classify those posts as such!

Today's was Cherry Fill-ups, from the 1958 book. It used refrigerator biscuits, jam, and a mixture of egg, sugar and milk for a glaze. Bluebonnet helped by poking the indentations for the jam to go in the biscuits. They were fairly good but the smell of the baking biscuits lingered far longer than I expected.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Current sewing projects

I have to admit that I was a Jill-come-lately to sewing. I grew up with my mother doing plenty for herself and for me, but it was (ahem) into high school before I took any great interest in the Singer in my own right. Handwork is another story; I started with cross stitch somewhere around junior high and never stopped at that. Usually I have at least two projects under construction.

Right now I'm making a light purple blouse for myself, from a pattern I've made once before. I detest making ties, however, so that part is taking a while!

The more exciting project is the wedding sampler for my lifelong best friend and her future husband. I'm using the same design as the one that my Knight and I have, so it'll be a special thing for the two couples to have so similar.
Pictures will follow soon.


We're an Army family far from where we call "home", forever moving at Uncle Sam's whim. Posting here, I'll share our Army, nursery-homeschool, spiritual, and literary adventures.