Welcome! I am glad you are here. Join me with a cup of your favorite beverage and see what is going on in my life and what is on my mind. I would love to have you join my site and you can do that on the left side where it says 'followers'. And please leave a comment! Thanks for visiting.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Church Auction Afghan

This is the afghan I made for the church auction this year, which is coming up in about one and a half weeks. I love this pattern! I think I had to rip out the first few inches of the first panel at least 4 times, and then again after I had finished the whole strip. I struggled with getting the stitches right until I finally got it after several tries. After that first strip I loosened my tension and found it made a smoother finish, so after I had all the other strips made, I redid the first strip so that they all matched up. I love the way the strips are put together as well as the outside border.

This gives you a closer view of the stitches. These top two pictures are close to the true colors. I don't know why the pictures below look like a different color. I guess it shows I am not the greatest photographer. I just aim and shoot and hope for the best.

 This shows you what the back side looks like. It isn't as nice as the front, but it isn't bad either. It is just different.

When I saw this pattern in a Mary Maxim catalog, I just knew this was the pattern I had to make for the auction. It becomes tougher and tougher to come up with one that will attract the bids and sell as well as the years before. It must be unique, and in colors that might appeal to everyone, which is neutral and can be used in almost every room decor.

In order to get the pattern I had to order the whole kit which included the required yarn and only came in these colors. But the colors were perfect, and the yarn is Caron's Simply Soft. Since I loosened the tension a bit, I did run out of yarn and needed to buy one more skein of each color and only needed a little bit from each one of those. I used what was left to knit more hats for Goodwill so it is still going to charity. I am so glad the kit used yarn that is readily available in the stores and does not have a dye lot. I got the extra at my Walmart.

People often like the feel of Simply Soft as it is really soft and feels a little bit silky. This did make a very dense and somewhat heavy afghan, but will be really warm on the frigid nights we have had in recent weeks. I am looking forward to see what this will bring at the auction. Now, what can I come up with for next year?? Actually, I have already seen at least one new pattern in the catalog that I like so I will probably  be ordering before long.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

X Marks the Spot

This is the view outside my window on the day I am writing this. I noticed it as I sat down to the computer and thought I really needed to get a picture of this. Do you see the giant X?

I am sorry  I had to take the picture through the window screen so it isn't the best. I was not able to take the picture through the top of the window where there is no screen as it was covered with frost.

This is a very pretty day in spite of the cold temps again. It has finally warmed up to 20 degrees after a cold start to the day. We even had a little snow during the night, just enough to make the driveway white again.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Ten Days on the Run

At least it seems like I have been on the run for 10 days. I have sort of taken a vacation from email and blogging. Sometimes the brain just needs to take a break, right??

The last time I posted - 10 days ago - I reported that my daughter had been here from Madison for a quick visit, and to introduce me to her special friend. That was January 11. She stayed a week with her dad  50 miles from here, in Minnesota, while he was recovering from knee replacement surgery. She really wanted me to drive up there during the week so we could talk more, but the weather was nasty, including a blizzard when no one went anywhere! Then it was sever cold and -25 to -30 windchill. There was no way I would even attempt to leave the house, much less drive 50 miles there and back.

On the 17th, my other daughter, from Omaha, and her twins came up there to help out for a couple of days since the twins didn't have school on Monday because of MLK Day. She stopped here on the way back home on Monday. She had planned to leave at 3 pm as it is a 2 1/2 hour drive from here on a good day, and since the kids had school the next day and she had to go to work very early the next morning, she really wanted to be home at a good time. And she should have left at that time, or even a little earlier. We were getting some light snow, but when she finally got ready to leave around 4, the snow was heavier and the car windows had ice/snow on them that had to be scraped off before she could leave.

She called me later and said it was white-out conditions and the highways were solid ice for about the first 40 miles, and she crawled at 25-30 mph because of the ice. After that the roads were clear even though it was still snowing lightly. They did make it home safely  so that was a relief.

 This week I stayed busy too. I made arrangements with Bonnie and Julie to start our early morning Bible study on the 17th, but since we had not met since the end of April, we just needed a morning to catch up on our activities over the summer, so that is what we did. Yesterday we actually started working on the study by reviewing what we had studied before we stopped for the summer. Next Friday we will start the new lesson so that means more prep work for me this coming week.

Besides doing a little prep work for the lesson review this past week, I had an appointment with the doctor for a med check on Thursday. I had a nice chat with her and everything seems okay so she just renewed my prescriptions again for 6 months. At that time I will need a full panel of lab tests again.

And surprise of all surprises - I didn't have to stop at Walmart for anything, so went through the McDonald's drive-thru for a late lunch, and headed home. I tried one of their new $1 menu sandwiches. I can't remember what it is called but it was a single, small hamburger with a spicy bbq sauce and I think some small pieces of battered/fried onions. It was tasty, but very small. I also must have a small order of their french fries. I know, they are not the healthiest thing to eat, but I love them. I only get them once or twice a month when I do my major shopping trips. And I only get a small order just to satisfy my craving for them. I would love to get a large order, but I restrain myself. I wish I could restrain myself like that when it comes to eating sugar!

I probably should have stopped at Walmart after all, and looked for some yarn. When my granddaughter was here on Monday, she asked if I remembered she had asked me to make an afghan blanket for her American Girl doll. No, I had not remembered, though I vaguely think she probably did, but I had other things on my mind at the time. Since then I have looked online for patterns and found a whole board devoted to American Girl doll clothes patterns and ideas. So I think that may be my next project as soon as I get the yarn.

Her older sister is busy planning her wedding as she got engaged on Christmas day! She has told me she isn't getting married right away, but she already has decided on many things and will be looking at dresses in a bridal shop on February 10. That is the date of my parent's anniversary, married 82 years ago. She, her mom, and MIL-to-be are busy pinning wedding ideas on Pinterest, too. Isn't that just the handiest site?? I love it.

I have some ideas for other blog posts so am going to sign off for now, and will see if I can get those others started and scheduled for publishing.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Country Pork with Mushrooms

My goodness these days go by so fast! I always have lots to do but don't always feel like doing them, and at this point in my life, I can do what I want to most of the time.

This blog has been on my mind but I never quite get to it. Either I am busy trying to get my house in shape, I am too tired, or as on several days this week, my hands have been stiff and sore so didn't feel like typing. My oldest daughter and her significant other from Wisconsin came for a short visit on Saturday evening, so I did have an incentive to work on getting the house in shape last weekend.

But enough excuses for today. I thought I would just pop in here a minute and give you a quick recipe that I have made a couple of times in the last couple of months, and think is delicious and easy.

This recipe calls for country-style pork ribs but I think it would go well with any meat, not just pork.


2 pounds country-style ribs, boneless
1 can cream of mushroom soup
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 envelope mushroom gravy mix
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons cold water, blended with 1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour

Combine ribs, soup, mushrooms, salt, pepper, gravy, and paprika in crockpot. Cover and cook on LOW setting for 7 to 9 hours. Stir flour mixture into broth and cook on high HEAT setting an additional 15 minutes, or until thickened. Serve country-style ribs with mashed potatoes and corn.

Serves 6.

In order for me to make this without making a trip to the store, I used what I had on hand. I did have the ribs in the freezer, but they were not boneless. I might have some canned sliced mushrooms, but I also have some dried mushrooms handy, so used those - didn't measure. I think the salt could be left out since there is plenty of salt in the gravy mix and soup. I discovered I didn't have any mushroom gravy mix in the house, but I did have a packet of brown gravy mix, and I added some dried onion flakes. I don't have any sweet paprika on hand so used the Spanish paprika I do have.

Since I used dried mushrooms I also added some water to the mix and I never did have to add any flour to thicken the broth. I can't tell you how much water I used, maybe 1/2 cup or more. If you add too much water, you can still put the flour in to thicken it.

As you can see, this recipe is quite adaptable to what you have on hand. The mushrooms could be a 4-oz can or fresh mushrooms if you happen to have them. When I have fresh it seems I never use all of them right away, so this would be a good way to use those up.

I think next time I will try this with chicken breasts.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Autograph Books

It has been interesting and fun to read the comments in Mom's autograph book from 1927. I hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse of my mother as a teenager, too. Today I would like to tell you of some more things written in it.

I suppose it has been tradition for decades to write a short poem in friends' autograph books, because there are many in Mom's book. There are some in my book as well. Do people still do that? Do people still use autograph books? Are they still available? I don't recall seeing them in the store I go into. When my kids were in high school they passed their school yearbooks around and had people sign them. I know friends wrote comments, but not sure they were the poems of old.

Here are examples of those written in Mom's book.

Love no man, not even our brother.
If girls must love lots, love each other.

Never let your school work
interfere with your studies.
(doesn't rhyme but interesting)

May your life be bright and sunny.
May your husband be fat and funny.
(written by at least 3 people)

There'll be a page for summer school,
Within your life's book,
And may you also find me there,
As backward you let your memory look.

Remember me early,
Remember me late,
Remember me at the golden gate.

The following was written 9 years after they married, by a young nephew:

Oceans may between us roll,
And distant be our lot.
So should we never meet again,
Dear Aunt (name), forget me not.

In memory's golden chain,
Remember one link bears my name.

When the (hometown) lights are low
And your mind from care is free,
When of others you are thinking,
Won't you sometimes think of me.
Yours till the pillow slips.

(does anyone call them slips anymore?)

I wish you health,
I wish you wealth,
I wish you gold in store.
I wish you Heaven after death,
What could I wish you more.

(first name) now,
(first name) forever,
(maiden name) now,
But not forever.

Yours till Ivory Soap sinks.

When you go east and I go west,
Remember me among the rest.

If you want to see Heaven,
And all of its joys,
Think more of your books,
And less of the boys.

When twilight folds its curtain,
And pins it with a star,
Remember me dear friend,
Tho I may wander far.

When you are old and cannot see,
Put on your specks and think of me.

In after years when this you see,
I wonder what your name will be.

Go little book, go far and near,
To all of (name)'s friends so dear,
And have them write upon a page,
To comfort her in her old age.

(the following written by Dad's younger brother 2 years before they were married)

When you get married and live upstairs,
Don't send your kids down to borrow our chairs.

To meet, to know and then to part,
Is the saddest of a school girl's heart.
And (name) please remember that
A bit of moonlight, hug and kisses,
makes a Miss a Mrs.

Wasn't that fun? I don't know how they all remembered those little gems when it came to write in the books. I know I can never think of anything like that. Maybe they just memorized one and wrote the same in each book?

Well, there you have seen a little of what life was like in 1927 in small town, rural, middle America.

The 1920's were known as the "Flapper" Era. I am sure most of you get a picture of what a Flapper looked like during that time. Most of those pictures are more of the big city and Hollywood type, people with lots of money. It wasn't quite that way here, but I am sure the girls tried to copy the styles as best they could. My mother's hairstyle was an example. I found some interesting facts about the Flapper Era here.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Learning More About Mom - Part 2

Inside this box was something else that Mom had while she was attending that Normal School the summer after high school graduation. That something else is this:
 I don't know if you can make out what is written on the cover, but this is an autograph book. Can you still buy these? I had one in high school too, and even have a few autographs from stars. A young Johnnie Cash is one of them! But one of the prized ones is what my grandmother wrote to her daughter, dated Aug. 19, 1927. This is the same grandmother that wrote such a beautiful letter to me for my confirmation.

She wrote:
Daughter Elsie,
When in this world your life is ended,
and the path no more you trod,
May your name in Gold be written,
In the autograph of God.
Is the wish of your dear
There were several of her classmates at Normal School who wrote in her book, as well as a few teachers. Some wrote pages and pages - a quite long letter actually, telling of some of the stories of things they did outside of class.

Inside the front cover Mom had written her name, address and the date - July 15, 1927. At the bottom is I.S.T.C. in the left corner and E.A.P. (her initials) in the other corner. I came to realize I.S.T.C. stands for Iowa State Teacher's College. Some of the writers called it Summer School. The only thing I can figure out is that the college sent teachers out to other towns across the state to teach some of the classes needed for teaching rural schools. And that must have been all the schooling they needed since I know Mom did not go to a regular college. In trying to find more information about a Normal School in this town, I noticed an Iowa State Teacher's College was located in the opposite side of the state, too far and too expensive for Mom to attend.

One classmate mentioned that Mom was sorry it was the last evening there, so she must have liked it there. And -
" Remember all the guys we learned to know and how we knew them when we met them out of their place of business.

Well, a little advice - Love no man not even your brother,
If girls must love lots, love each other.

Don't forget the parties, picnics and our lunch places which we attended often."

Doesn't it sound like Mom had lots of fun times there? Also maybe a little boy crazy? Why not at age 18?

Here are some other quotes:
"don't forget the Government conferences in the rest room before exams."

" Remember all the friendly chats we have had together as a part of the 'quintet' and the chief interesting (topic!!!) [topic underlined]." It sounds like there were five good friends and how much do you want to bet the chief (topic) was boys?

"I should like to become better acquainted with you because all reports of you have been very favorable."  So she seems to have been well liked by the others.

"I think we shall never forget the Sundays we went to church, especially one July evening at ice cream social and following Sunday night. Those Chevrolets and what else."  Hmm. Sounds like more boys were involved??

" Don't forget the night you and Lucinda came down to the river bank to see us kids. . . Remember who hollered 'Don't go away mad.'"  The river goes through the town there. Doesn't it make you wondered what happened that night?

"When I first met you I thought shy, quiet little girl!! But since I have become better acquainted with you, how my opinion has changed."  Shy and quiet were underlined. Oh, how I wish I could have known her then!

"Don't forget when we went to Lost Island and the ride in the truck."  There is another mention of that time. Lost Island is a small lake/recreation area several miles from the town where the school was.

" I suppose you will always remember our wonderful ride on the truck out to the party at Lost Island. 'Oh Boy' I never seen so many bright lights as on the way coming back."  WHAT was going on at that party??

Several mentioned the number of times they went to church together, and to the church activities. At least she remained faithful and was a 'good girl'.

The one that wrote such a long 'letter' said quite a bit about boys they met, and they seemed to have nicknames for all of them. "Innocence" "Hamburger Boy" "Too Close" (for a guy in Rexall that always stood too close to the girls), "Pennies" for a boy that gave them pennies, "Square Meal", "Lolly Pops". She also wrote, "The Party at . . . .  is not to be forgotten by you or me, and Elsie, the idea of disappearing in the darkness is more than I can believe of you."  Mother!!

Another wrote, "Don't forget how you and I nearly broke down the light fixture with our dancing?" Mom, I didn't know you could dance! This one also mentioned the same boys' nicknames plus a few others.

I do believe my mother had lots of fun at summer school!

I think this picture is her high school graduation picture, so Mom would have looked like this while in summer school.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Learning more about Mom

In that box I showed in the previous post, there were three letters. Two of them Mom wrote to Dad, and one was from Dad to Mom, all written about 4 years before they were married. Mom attended what was called Normal School after she graduated from high school, in a town about 35 miles from home. She was home for Christmas and wrote Dad this letter:

Do you see how it is written? She dated it at the top of the paper, but started the letter on the side, then wrote around each side and continued around to the center! On the back she said, "I hope you don't think I have lost my -- my mind but I'm just full of such foolishness so don't think anything of it." Then closed with:

Love and ------
guess who?

This has given me a glimpse of what she must have been like as a teenager and young woman. Since she was 34 when I was born, by the time I could remember anything about her, she was close to 40 years old and was 'old' in my young eyes. So by then she had settled down and had been a wife for 10 years, and I don't recall seeing her being anything like this letter.

There was something else in that box that showed me more of what she was like back then. But you will have to wait until next time. . . . .

Monday, January 6, 2014

Family Heirlooms

You may be getting tired of hearing about my digging into the past, but that is what my life is all about these days. Did I say this was addictive??

Not only have I been digging online at ancestry.com and familysearch.com, and comparing the information on both sites, I have been going through some old photo albums that Mom put together, as well as some other memorabilia and heirlooms. In the process I have gained a little bit of insight about my mother when she was just out of high school, and dating my dad.

My parents had this little box. . . .

Age and bad storage over the years have both been a little hard on it. The leather straps on both sides have broken. I often wonder what the original intent was for this box. My parents stored a few old legal papers and some old income tax files from the early 1940's. Those are interesting to go through! Amazing what little money they made all year and yet able to live fairly well, even as my mother did not work outside the home. She did raise a huge garden, and they butchered their own meat so always had food to eat. From pictures I see they dressed well, too, though probably did not have lots of clothes like we tend to have today.

I remember looking in it as a child and there were still ration stamps of WWII. If I remember right, they were mine, but I was just a baby so several were not used, or else they had not been used before the rationing was lifted. Sadly, my kids seem to have destroyed or lost them as they are no longer in there.

Inside the lid there was obviously a snapshot at one time. I don't remember a picture there, but assume it might have been who used the box in the beginning. There is a shallow tray first, and the pictures show it first in the box and then removed and sitting in front of the box.

Some other papers found in here are a copy of Mom's step-grandmother's will and a copy of court papers showing that Mom's uncle was contesting the will and the final ruling, including the accounting of the estate income and expenses, and how much each heir received. The uncle got the largest sum, so he won. I find these some neat pieces of family history.

I also found some other things of interest but I am going to save that for the next post. . . . . . .

(I love serials, don't you?)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Most Recent Crochet Projects

I made some things for Christmas gifts for the 9 year old twin grandkids - Joseph and Joelle. I didn't want to post them before they got to open the gifts, and since they had a delayed Christmas at home, they just recently opened them.

Joseph had asked me this summer why I never made him an afghan, since I had made one for each of his sisters in other years. I told him he never asked for one, but also, when I had asked my daughter if she thought he would like one, she didn't think he cared about it. He was more into toy cars at the time. I then asked him what color he would like and his most favorite color for everything is orange, and that is what he said. So he got this one for Christmas this year. . .

When I bought the orange yarn, I thought an afghan that was totally orange would really be boring, so I found the neon brights/black variegated with the orange almost the exact same shade, and thought that was perfect for a kid. I started with a general ripple pattern done in double crochet, but decided to change it up a little and did some rows in single crochet at random, as well as inserting the variegated colors in random stripes - both random placement and random widths, just to make it a little more interesting. Joseph was tickled pink (no. . orange) when he opened his present. He said, "I told Grandma to make me one, and she did!!"

Early in December my daughter said Joelle would really like a Minion hat and showed me a picture of one, which is a good thing because this old gramma had no idea what a Minion was! But when I saw the picture I realized it was from the movie Despicable Me. I just didn't know they were called Minions as I had not watched the movie.

I was able to find a free pattern online of the very picture she sent me at damnitjanetletscrochet.blogspot.com. There are lots of other cute caps and beanies there.

My daughter sent a picture of Joelle wearing the beanie and a huge smile, so she is really happy with it as well. It sure makes grandmas happy to know they made something the kids wanted and then really like them. They are so hard to buy gifts for otherwise, as they have far too many toys and electronics. They really don't need any more but their parents and other grandparents keep buying more for them. Now, what do I do for gifts next year?