Tuesday, April 29, 2014

ancient ziggy in the bread dough

a poem by jennifer:

late night.
sweet bread dough awaiting transformation,
   into cinnamon rolls 
that will set upon the countertop to proof overnight.

i start to overturn
  the dough
to roll it out.
and stop.

do my eyes deceive me?  or is that an ancient ziggy in the dough?
it is.
he was.



Friday, April 25, 2014

Branson Birthday Surprise

I was a birthday gift for my sister last year!

My niece and nephew-in-law flew me from Southern California to Branson, Missouri, wrapped me up in a box, along with 3 of their 4 children, for a birthday surprise none of us will ever forget.

A Branson vacation, which included my niece's family, her mother-in-law and my sister and her husband, had been in the works for them for a year or more.  My sister would celebrate her 60th birthday during the week they were there.

My niece and nephew-in-law, who are good at cooking up extraordinary memories, asked if I would join them, as their birthday gift to their mother/mother-in-law.  They would pay for my airfare and my lodging.
I accepted the invitation immediately!
The birthday surprise was kept a secret for 6 months.

Missouri was one wonder after another for me.

The magnificent blooming dogwoods.
Green, Spring green, everywhere.
The beauty of Dogwood Canyon.
The lakes.
The visible tornado shelter entrances in people's front yards.
The unexpected snow in May.
The Ozark Mountains.
A night singing thrush.
Seeing a ground hog (in the wild, not in a movie). 

The time I spent with family was beyond measure.
And being able to pull off the surprise for my sister was as sweet as Tupelo honey.

They all live in Texas and drove to Branson.  With perfect timing, I arrived at the Branson Airport as they drove into town.
My sister and her husband were to arrive the day after the rest of us.

We had planned to have me wrapped up in a large box, which was broken down and brought with them for the occasion.  Beyond that, the details of the plan were unsettled.

When the over-sized box was taped back together, their 3 oldest children took to playing in it. While the kids were having a romp in the cardboard box, a plan, as to how to present the "gift", was hatched.

There was concern that their #3 child would spill the beans to her Grandmother upon my sister's arrival and before the "gift" could be presented and opened.

 But what if all 4 of us were in the box?

Then even if #3 talked, while inside the wrapped box, it would just look like the kiddos were in the box for some kind of surprise entertainment created by them for the occasion.

All four of us did fit in the box.  It was cozy, but fun. 
We had a 10 minute warning before the birthday girl arrived in the room.
And this is how it went:

Post script on the surprise:
#3 didn't make a peep while we were all huddled in the box together.
My sister's husband, who didn't know about me being in Branson, was equally surprised.  (He didn't know I would be staying in their condo with them!)
And at the end of the video, you can hear their oldest child saying,
"...enjoy your present all this week".  It was a wonderful 8 days, a year ago this week.  We had a ball.  I loved every minute of my sister's birthday.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Moonflower and garden update

I love my garden year round,
but in the spring I just can't keep my hands out of the dirt.

Everything is bright with fresh foliage and flowers.
And what isn't blooming or fruiting is full of summer promise.

Here's a short photo tour around my spring gardens.

First, a report on the moonflowers.  I have 4 plants in the ground, and growing.  They are heat lovers 
and grow slowly this time of the year.  Even though the bugs are chewing holes in the leaves, I think these 4 plants will see the moonlight of summer nights.

The most rewarding vegetable I grow is lettuce.
I have had great success this year with 12 different kinds.
This is my favorite new variety to grow and eat.

Isn't it gorgeous?  It is the Heirloom Dark Lolla Rossa.
It adds such color and texture to the salad bowl.

This is my front yard lettuce, chard and kale patch.

There's a volunteer tomato plant in that tomato cage that provided the tomatoes for BLTs for dinner one night last week.
The kales are Red Russian and Lacinato. 

I have lettuce growing in the front, back and on the south side of our house.
 I eat salad everyday this time of the year.  I love lettuce.  Son-in-law #2 says I am the only person he knows that asks for extra lettuce on my sandwiches.

This is buttercrunch lettuce, with snow peas in the back on the trellis.
This is the first year I have been able to successfully grow snow peas.
I'm excited to have them.  The ones in the store are always so sad looking--too old, too fat, and too limp.  I actually have pods ready for the wok.

Yes.  More lettuce in the old claw footed bathtub.  Nevada and Dark Lolla Rossa share tub space with chives and a tomato. 

I look out of my 8 window-pane back door to this beautiful sight.  Tomatoes! 

These 2 plants wintered over.  There are many tomatoes right outside my door already this spring.

Here are 2 pollinators on one boysenberry blossom.  There's a young green lynx spider and a honey bee working their magic. 

 The boysenberries usually begin to ripen the beginning of June.  

In the flower department, I am currently pleased with these.

They're Electron mix Sweet William that I started from seed.  It seems the ones at the nursery are usually a dwarf variety and I wanted longer stems for flower arrangements.  

I'm not a big fan of iris', but I do look forward to seeing these in the spring.

This clump of iris grows back in the chicken yard and are hardy enough to stand up to the girls. 

And here's our wire plant covered rural mail box.

The mail box is on a stand next to a path the letter carriers walk along.
If we have a substitute, they often can't see it, even if the red flag is up. Really, they wouldn't be very good at an Easter egg hunt.  I trained the wire plant up and out of the pot, weaving the stems into chicken wire I wrapped around the box.  It took 3 years for it to get this thick.  The other side of the box is beginning to fill in nicely, as well.  The pot sits on the front part of an old walk-behind tractor that belonged to my father-in-law. 

The mosaic pot in the picture was made by my daughter, Jennifer.  

I hope you are enjoying the blooming plants around you.  
The world sings in flowers!

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

from the mouths of babes

posted by jennifer:

a conversation with a 5 year old.... from a nonreligious household.

her:  "who is that of picture of?  on that flag."  

i look across the street to our neighbors house.  they have a banner with a picture of jesus hanging up.

me:  "that is jesus.  he was a man who lived thousands of years ago."

her:  "he looks like a girl."

me:  "no he is a man.  some people think that he" ....(here i was going to continue with "is the son of god" ) 

she interrupts:   "that he is a girl?"

i think jesus would have been alright with this...  because even though i don't subscribe to a religion in his name.  i do think he probably was one cool cat.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Vintage wedding cake topper and my new pan

Yesterday, Easter Sunday,
 the Duke of Earl and I marked 46 years since we entered into that theme park of marital bliss. 
What a roller coaster ride marriage is!

To celebrate, I baked a cake.
I wanted to use our wedding cake topper to put a little anniversary spin on  Easter egg hunt day.

Back in the 1960's weddings were not as individualized as they are nowadays.  Everything was pretty traditional, including the cake toppers.
Our's was a common place bride and groom under a love nest of millinery Lily of the Valley flowers and a white glittered bell.

Although quite ordinary, our cake topper has become unique in that it has been the crowning glory on 7 wedding cakes to date.
When a couple uses it, their name and wedding date is added to the bottom.
It has been used in 1968, 1973, 1977, 1982, 1987, 1999, and 2006.

Baking layer cakes has never been my forte.  They taste good, but rarely hit my expectation.  The first cake I ever baked was a setback for me for years of future cake baking.
I was fresh into my teens and I wanted to bake a surprise birthday cake for my mother.
My dad was taking her out to dinner and I conspired with him that I would bake the cake, while they were out to eat.
I was in a BIG rush to get the beautiful surprise I had visualized ready for mom's return.

I had no idea of how to grease a pan. I did not know the importance of letting the layers set for 10 minutes before removing them from the pans.  I did not know the cake would break apart, when I tried to frost it while it was still hot.
As you can imagine, the cake was a pile of pieces with frosting stuck here and there.  Mom walked in to me in tears.  My birthday surprise was ruined.  The surprise was nothing like I had conjured it up to be.  Nothing like adding a little drama to mom's birthday!  Oh, the scene was heart breaking.

As my layer cakes have never measured up, height-wise, I compensate by making three layers instead of 2.  My three layers equal the stature of most people's 2 layers.
I also found a good recipe that uses egg whites, stiffly beaten, that help hold the cake up for the final elevation. 

I have 2 layer cake pans that I bought for my hope chest before we got married.  It was a long engagement.  I filled my closet with items for my future life, buying something new every pay day.

Now here's the interesting thing.
These cake pans purchased in 1967, or so, are marked on the bottoms:

       EKCO   Baker's
      USA  Secret
    8"  M95

In the past I have baked 2 layers and then put in the third layer in the oven when I had an empty pan.  I have asked neighbors if they have an 8" cake pan I could borrow, but they have only had 9" cake pans.
For this baking session, I decided to buy a third 8" pan.

Now we know that portion sizes keep getting larger.  And the only round layer cake pan size available was a 9".  I kept looking at those 9" pans in the store thinking they looked to be the correct size. 
I purchased a 9" pan thinking I could return it, if necessary.

I measured the new 9" pan against the old 8" pans.  They are exactly the same size!  EXACTLY.  Nine inch is the new 8"?  Using a ruler there is no part of the new 9" pan that measures 9".  I don't get it.

I'm happy to say that this 46th Anniversary cake did meet my intention.
8" pans or 9", the cake looks like the one I wanted to bake for my mom's birthday so many years ago...minus the cake topper, of course.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Friday, April 11, 2014

pink stinkhorn and other lovelies. no photographs included. but feel free to research the images yourself. if you dare.

posted by:  jennifer

so, last week i was in the front yard and noticed something popping out of the earth.  it was about 6 inches long, pink, and stalky.   i know huh?  sounds lovely.  the tip of this thing was covered with flies.  i mildly freaked out.   i thought maybe it was a small rib bone... fresh.   i tend to have an active imagination.  my mind went other places as well... maybe it was something alien?  where did you think i was going?   okay, it did seem slightly phallic... but really not so much at the same time.

i was quite brave.  i got a plastic bag, and pulled it out.... i determined immediately that it was not a bone.  maybe an alien life form...  i threw it away.  and pretty much forgot about it. we had a crazy day on friday, and this was pushed to the recesses of my mind.  until another one came up.  (5 have been spotted thus far)

at this point i decided to research it.  we have pink stinkhorn fungi spores in our yard.  who knew these lovelies existed?

on another note:  chilblains.

have you heard of them?  a couple of times a year i have these lovely outbreaks on my toes.  
they are bright red and at times insanely itchy. they stick around for a couple of weeks, going through a few stages.  they then disappear for many months.  

 on doing research i have come to find that many people silently suffer from this condition.   i think that we need to shed some light on this matter.  chilblain sufferers unite!   although i honestly don't know what we would do for each other....  encourage others to be strong, and to not scratch.... offer helpful tips on what footwear will cover up the chilblains, but will let air in to help them heal.

lastly.   earlier this week i spent a couple of days with my oldest child at the beach.  we both love beach combing.  

 side note: i just looked up beachcomber in my vintage (1972) dictionary. i wanted to make sure it was one word.  the definition of beachcomber is: a man who loafs on beaches or wharves, esp. on a south sea island, living on what he can beg or find.
hmm.  well, by that definition, we are not beachcombers.  however, we do like to comb the beaches for shells, rocks, and other treasures.

second side note:  did you know that extreme temperatures are not good for people who get chilblains?  walking barefoot in 59 degree water and then walking on 95 degree sand probably did not help with my... ahem... condition.

anyway.  while beach combing.  i found not only several sand dollars, a couple of bones, (one i thought might have been from a whale. my husband feels it is probably a rib bone... from someones b.b.q.)  and a pair of diving goggles... but i also found what i thought might have been a fossilized piece of a sea star leg/ray/appendage.  i took it back to our hotel room. 
while sorting through our finds i couldn't help but notice that there was a strong smell of the sea in my treasure pile.  i showed it to my daughter who has a knack for finding fossils.  she informed me that no it wasn't fossilized.  

well, i am not sure how to end this post.  but maybe just with this.  what you think might be a rib bone may just be a fungus.  what you think might be an ancient whale bone may just be a rib bone.  but always keep an open mind.  because you never know.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Silly and a Kiss

Love this.

A lovely collection of pictures that "capture the human experience" HERE.