Tuesday, February 7, 2012

New Locations for My Writing

Dear Readers,
I've moved over to two new addresses:

~ my 'whimsical blog', Grammys Place
~ my homemaking blog, Pine Tree Place

You may click on the links to find me!  Come on over!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Weekends in the Word

"Bezalel and Oholiab, along with everyone whom God has given the skill and know-how for making everything involved in the worship of the Sanctuary as commanded by God, are to start to work."

Moses summoned Bezalel and Oholiab along with all whom God had gifted with the ability to work skillfully with their hands. The men were eager to get started and engage in the work. 

Selected verses from Exodus 36,
"The Message" by Eugene Peterson

Friday, November 4, 2011

Writing From the Bed and Breakfast

Grateful Grammy with a comforting cup of tea
Based on positive comments I've received for a long time, I've decided to write a blog exclusively from the viewpoint of Grateful Grammy at the fictitious bed and breakfast in the small imaginary town of Whistlestop.  My readers have been generous in their affirmations of interest in and affection for my stories and the staff, who are all depicted as teddy bears and other dolls and toys I own.  

I am finding that just about anything else I have to say outside of the Bed and Breakfast has been said before, by many people, and phrased more effectively by them.  What I don't see much of these days is good clean mirth on the Internet.  That's a niche I'd like to encourage because there is a lot of unhappy news out there to bring us down in spirit.  While these are indeed serious and troubling times we all need a break in the stress with good clean fun.

Regarding Beloved's knee replacement, there will probably not be any further blog posts about that  because he is about half way through his out-patient physical therapy and is doing very well.  There is still a fair amount of pain from the surgery and the strenuous physical therapy workouts, but that is all within the realm of normal.  According to his surgeon, it could be up to a year before all the discomfort is entirely gone.  

This blog will remain available for you to read, but most (if not all) of my blogging time will be spent at Grammys Place.  If you have enjoyed the B&B stories in the past, then you will want to come visit.  Mandy Sue, Lily, Spud, Mrs Mertz, Rowdy, and of course Beloved will all be there.  As I write this post now, there is already a story for you to read at the new blog.

Grateful Grammy (and staff)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

News Hits the Fan

Dear Readers, here is another installment in "Grammys Place", the fictitious bed & breakfast aspect to my blog.  

Eves Dropping
Home and Garden Editor of the Whistlestop Weekly 
After spending a delightful afternoon at Grammys Place Bed and Breakfast a couple of weeks ago, I determined that not much time would pass before I returned to interview the proprietors.  They have a charming establishment, serve delicious food, and have become a popular destination for travelers in our area.  I called ahead of time, speaking to Grateful Grammy herself, to make an appointment for our visit and a tour of the grounds.

Imagine my surprise, however, when I arrived at the agreed-upon time, to have no one answer when I rang the doorbell.  I rang several times, each time hearing the chimes to the Hallelujah Chorus, but nobody appeared behind the etched-glass front door.  The thought crossed my mind that they couldn't all be deaf.  What could they be doing that would prevent them from responding when they knew I was coming?

I remained on the porch, trying to decide whether to be offended or if I should worry that they were all involved in some mishap when this little kid appeared in the driveway, pushing his scooter up the incline.  He was a curious-looking little guy with stick-straight hair that covered his eyes.  He was apparently the son of either a liberal or an inattentive mother because half of his locks were dyed lime green.

Rowdy, the neighborhood kid
"Oh say there, young man," I called out to him.  "Do you know if these people are here today? I have an appointment to interview Grateful Grammy this morning."

Looking up from his scooter he stopped and squinted at me through those strands of long hair, then spoke.  "Oh yes, ma'am!  They are here; somebody's always here.  I'll take you inside.  We'll find 'em."

And before I could protest or think of a comeback, he was pushing open the front door and motioning for me to follow him.  Then in a loud voice he called out, "Grammy!  Where are yoooou?  Ya got company!"

A female voice called out, from some distance away in the house, "Down here, Rowdy! Come to the basement stairs!"

He again motioned me to follow him as we walked down a hall, past the dining room and the kitchen.  We came to a doorway with a staircase going down to a lower level. Each stair had a free-standing floor fan; all were lined up much like school children organized for an activity.  At the stair landing stood the woman I was pretty sure to be Grateful Grammy, although she did not at all look like she was expecting me for an interview.

Grateful Grammy and the floor fans
"Uh, hello!" I called down to her.  "I'm Eves Dropping, from the Whistlestop Weekly, here for your interview."

For a moment she looked a bit bewildered in her apron, with a sheep's wool dust mop in hand; but she quickly recovered herself and smiled up at me.  "My goodness, Ms Dropping, I completely forgot!  I am soooo sorry!"  She began climbing up the steps, wiping her hands on the blue apron, and running a hand over her hair to fluff it up a bit.

"You see," she continued as she reached the top step, "this is the first day of the month and I always clean the  furnace room on this day every month.  We're also sending all of the floor fans downstairs for cleaning and winter storage.  I'm afraid that when I woke up this morning I just got so busy with the house cleaning routines that our interview completely skipped my mind!  This is embarrassing!"

I could see that the dear woman was indeed, chagrined.  I had no desire to make this more difficult for her than it already was, not because I'm not a ruthless reporter (for I am), but because I rather liked her place and hoped to be welcome in the future for more home and garden stories for the newspaper.  All things considered, it seemed that the best solution would be to reschedule the interview and leave quickly with a pleasant attitude.  

Relieved at my offer to come another time, Grateful Grammy walked with me to the front door for my exit.  I couldn't help but notice yet another interesting sight as we passed the living room, just off of the entry hall.

Beloved cleans the ceiling fan
I  stopped for a better look at someone hanging from the ceiling fan, with a dust mop in his hand.  Grammy followed my eyes and looked nothing short of horrified to see her husband, who is recovering from recent knee replacement surgery, literally hanging by one hand from the centerpiece of the ceiling fan, while trying to take swipes in the air toward the fan blades.  She rushed over to stand underneath him, and then, seeing his ladder that had fallen to the floor, grabbed it with both of her hands to set it upright.  He deftly grabbed hold of the top rung with his feet and steadied himself.  

"Thanks, Honey!" he said to her, and we both were convinced he sincerely meant it!  He went on to explain, "I was reaching out to dust that last blade when I lost my balance and the ladder went crashing down to the floor.  You appeared just as I had begun to think I would lose my grip!"  

He recovered himself and was making his way down the ladder.  Grammy was embarrassed enough that she did not even think to introduce me to her husband. I think she just wanted to usher me out the door as quickly as possible so she could forget this most embarrassing day.

I guess I should just keep the events of this morning to myself.  But will I?

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lighten Up

Me - Grateful Grammy in my blue "Apple" apron
The events of the evening  didn't go as I had planned.  I was busying myself in the kitchen with writing a product review of the Wilton Mini Doughnut Pan.


We picked one up the other day while shopping at Sur la Table (pronounced, sur-lah-taub) in a fancy part of town.  My first thought when I saw this pan was "Oh, how cute!  Doll-sized doughnuts!"  I knew they would be the perfect treat for my crew at home.  The purchase was made and I set aside everything on Sunday evening to make a batch and then write the review.  My thought was that the doughnuts would make a fun breakfast for the morning of Halloween.

My readers know the feelings I have about this "holiday" (not positive).  If you missed out on that you can click here to read a post written a few days ago on the subject.   Admittedly, I can be a bit, how shall I phrase it, pharisaical, about the popular activities that take place on October 31st.  I could forget about the day without missing it at all.  But maybe I need to loosen up just a bit...

So, back to the product review.  I was following the instructions that came with the pan in perfect detail, filling each of the doughnut-shaped wells with the cake batter.  It doesn't take much!  I started out with 1 tablespoon of batter per doughnut.  You can see here how that turned out:

Out of the 12 doughnuts, only 1 had a hole at the end of the baking time!  In the second batch I used a rounded teaspoon and the result was a little better, although they still for the most part resembled tiny Bundt cakes instead of doughnuts.

Overall, I was not very impressed.  They were more labor-intensive than I liked.  If I am invited to a white elephant party any time soon, this pan will probably be my contribution.  

While they were cooling on a rack, I headed for the laundry room to take some towels out of the dryer.  Unbeknownst to me, a rebel uprising was brewing in there and apparently I surprised them when I came through the doorway.

The Boo Gang
A few of my assistants had decided that my views on October 31st were entirely too narrow and they wanted to have some fun.  They knew that I wouldn't finance any actual costumes for them, so they had to make do with what they could find -- a couple of bandanas, a strip of muslin, and a lunch sack.  They were determined to dress up and surprise Beloved and me with their antics.

Mandy Sue
Of course, I knew immediately who was the ring leader of this little escapade.  There's one in every crowd!  If it weren't for the thick glasses she needs to see past her nose, she might have been able to cover her face better.  

I had to smile and gather them all together for a group hug.  I will never win anybody over if I am harsh and unbending all the time.  They did not mean any harm -- they just wanted to have some good clean fun.  To demonstrate that I loved them and wanted there to be no hard feelings, I told them that some unfrosted doughnuts were cooling in the kitchen.  If they could play a game for a few minutes, long enough for Mrs Mertz to spread the frosting for my product review, then we would have a little party right then and there, and not have to wait for Halloween breakfast to eat them.

Left to right: Missy Bear, Lily, Mandy Sue, and Rowdy
Oh yes, I need to include a picture of Mrs Mertz, who is always at the ready to help me in the kitchen.  It was her idea to doll up the doughnuts with not only the orange frosting, but also a generous sprinkle of orange-colored sugar granules.

I'd be lost in the kitchen without the educated help of my personal chef with her tight bun and hair net!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Weekends in the Word

The grass withereth, the flower fadeth:
but the word of our God shall stand forever.
Isaiah 40:8

Photo Credits:
Top from Blog Author
Photos 2, 3, and 4 from Sister's camera

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Musings of a Mother

Daughter soaks fresh veggies in a cool salt bath in
preparation to rinse, dry, chop, and store.
Once upon a time I had no silver hair, I was half an inch taller, and my spunky energy lasted until nearly bedtime.  Although I've now come to accept the lack of young-adult pep and the loss of some height, and I consider each gray hair something I've rightfully earned, it is still startling to realize how quickly time has passed by. 

I am especially reminded of these things as I watch my daughter do many of the same activities she observed in me some thirty years ago.  More than once my husband has said to me that she is "her mother's daughter."  

This has my agreement except I think she has already surpassed me in several areas.  She is a more confident cook than I was at her age, and her quilting just blows me away.  I wish she didn't live in Never Snows, which is nearly two thousand miles from Blogville. But at the same time I imagine she has more freedom to blossom into who she is meant to be because of the distance.  Her marriage and  motherhood, along with a shared love for the Lord, have helped to close the gap that developed between us during her late teen/young adult years. Now we keep in touch with frequent emails (adorned with an appropriate number of grandchild pictures, of course) and I just love it.

This week she wrote to say she needed to make room in the fridge, so she used up left-over veggies to make a pizza for lunch.  Caramelized onions; sauteed garlic, zucchini, mushrooms and yellow squash; topped with mozzarella and basil.  Doesn't this look yummy?!

Homemade Pizza from Daughter's Kitchen