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.