Sunday, May 28, 2023

Cemetery Visit 2023

For as long as I can remember, my parents would visit the cemeteries of loved ones before Memorial Day. It was called Decoration Day when I was young. They would make an occasion out of it and take my grandparents or other family members. It was a big deal to get flowers for the cemeteries. My parents would always take a rake and do some landscaping. My mom's parents and grandparents are buried in a country cemetery in City Point, Wisconsin. Every year they would pull weeds (probably spray them with Round-up before we knew how bad that stuff was) and bring in a fresh load of white rock. It was tradition. Now they are gone, and I feel I should keep up that tradition. I don't go all out like they did, but twice a year I visit the graves of my ancestors. My parents are now buried along with my dad's parents and other family members in the Neillsville, Wisconsin cemetery. Although Memorial Day is meant for those who died in the armed service, I continue the tradition of Decoration Day, which it was called until 1967.  

This year I had intended to use "real" flowers, but soon realized that I live too far away to keep them watered. A two hour drive is pretty far to drive to water plants when watering my own plants gets to be a hassle after awhile! As much as I don't like silk flowers, that is what I use.  

My husband and I always took a day to do this, but now my daughters take me. Last week we went to the Neillsville cemetery first. It was a gorgeous day. We did a little maintenance, but mostly we put out the flowers and reminisced. It is interesting with every trip I notice a connection to friends and family I hadn't noticed before.

Next stop was a little drive around Neillsville and a sandwich at Hardee's. I hadn't been to a Hardee's restaurant for years. Then we drove to City Point.  

I love this cemetery. It is a quiet old cemetery in Jackson County Wisconsin. It has been cleaned up and is now being maintained better than it was. I miss some of the old bushes and trees but understand why it needed to be spruced up. I don't bring in stone and do the job my parents did, but every year I try to do something. I planted irises a couple years ago and I was so pleased to see they were blooming. 

I will bring more next time because they are such a low maintenance flower. I was warned not to plant hosta but I did. I was told the deer would have them eaten before I left the driveway. I guess they did because not one hosta survived. I planted lilacs and they were gone too.

We took a lot of time walking around. With all my recent genealogy reminders I realized that most of my grandpa's siblings were buried here with their families. My mom would walk around every time they visited. I hadn't paid much attention but now I know that half this cemetery contains many of her aunts, uncles and cousins. They had all settled in this area after immigrating from Denmark. Eight of the ten children came to America. I don't think they spent a lot of time together however. Each family had their own struggles making a living and feeding their families. I remember my grandpa visiting with two of his brothers, but I never knew about the others. If my mom talked about them, it wasn't very often. Some had died when my mom was young, leaving only stories. One particular story was know by all. My grandpa had a brother named Soren Peter. He went by the name Peter. He was the oldest brother. 

As the story goes Peter was a bartender in nearby Merrillan, WI. One day two vagrants came to town. They were trying to sell stolen goods. The Marshall followed them into the saloon and attempted to arrest the men. One slipped out the back door but the other drew his gun. The Marshall called Peter to help and in the struggle Peter was killed.  He was 40 years old and unmarried.  Fast forward to several years ago.  My mom was walking the cemetery and found Peter's grave buried in the ground with only the top showing. She was so happy to find his grave after so many years. I found this image on Find A Grave. 

Last week I noticed this gravestone. It looks new and and is positioned right next to his sister's daughter who died when she was just 15 years old. Someone has remembered him by placing a stone. If any of my relatives know who this was, I would like to thank them. What a wonderful thing to do.

I had mentioned in an earlier post about the spelling of Jepsen (Jepson) name. Grandpa was so adamant about spelling his name with a "sen", but apparently the others spelled it with "son". I noticed that even my grandpa's name was spelled Jepson on his Declaration of Intent to become a citizen. I think when other people filled out paperwork, names got spelled many ways. 

As with most things in life, even cemeteries have changed. Many people are not living close together in communities. People are living and dying all over the world. Another thing that is happening is many people are being cremated and their ashes are being thrown to the wind, some over golf courses, lakes, and many other favorite locations. I think of old cemeteries as libraries where families lived together and stayed together after death. A lot of information can be gleaned from cemeteries. It is going to be much harder to track families without gravestones. Of course with technology records are getting easier to access. I think I want to be put in a permanent place.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Carbon Monoxide Detectors Expire


This is my public service announcement. It is another thing I knew but paid no attention to since my husband died. I guess he didnt' either because both my detectors are too old. Carbon monoxide detectors do expire. 

My story starts with my busy (or almost busy) day. One grandson had a track meet and another had a band concert. I headed out about 2:30pm to go to Ewan's track meet. It was raining, but I packed up a blanket, warm jacket, raincoat and umbrella. I was almost there when the track meet was called off. My decision was to go a half hour back home or stay until Jack's concert at 7:00pm. I decided to go back home but started visiting with my daughter and before I knew it it was silly to go home. My other daughter told me to come for supper before the concert, so I went there. The concert was awesome, and I got home at 9:15pm. I had a snack and noticed a raccoon had figured out how to get onto the camera bird feeder. I yelled at him through the microphone, but alas he came back. They aren't as cute close up. but I let him be and planned how to fix that in the morning. 

By the time I was all ready for bed, it was 10:45. In the quiet of the house, I could hear a beep. I got up and gradually worked my way to the sound. It was in the basement. Yikes, it was the carbon monoxide detector. I looked and it said "get to fresh air". I called my daughter and said I was coming back to her house. I got dressed, packed Pj's and was in the car again. It was 11:11. Those who know me know that was comforting. I had presence of mind to take the batteries out of the device before I called my daughter and tried new ones. Nope, it still beeped. I didn't investigate or troubleshoot any further. I don't think clearly under pressure. On the way, I had more time to think logically. I thought my upstairs detector didn't go off, but the door was closed so maybe it hadn't detected it yet. Every one was in bed when I got there, so my daughter put me in one of their spare bedrooms. Surprisingly I fell asleep quickly. In the morning we googled carbon monoxide detectors. I didn't know they have a relatively short expiration date. After seven years you need a new one. I also didn't know all the information is on the back of the device. Apparently when the detector beeps every 30 seconds it just means it is dead. If it has a continuous sound, it is time to vacate and call 911. It also has the date on the back.  I thought this was the  "new" one, and it was made in 2005.  Time passes so quickly sometimes.

So my advice for today is to check your detectors. Both of mine are too old. Thank goodness nothing bad happened the past few years. I felt confident they would alert me and never gave it a thought. Today I will be replacing them. It is a very nerve wracking feeling to think you have to vacate your house especially late at night.

Thursday, May 4, 2023

Gifts Come In All Forms

Recently my cousin Deb moved into a new space. She had a lot of photos she had acquired from cleaning out her parents home. Since she doesn't have the time to go through them or the space to store them, she asked if I wanted to look through them. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. I was sure there were some treasures in there. We put them in one of my spare rooms because I admit I was a little surprised at the amount. I'm anxious to dive in although it may take a while.

I have only just begun, but it renewed my interest in family history. I have been gathering information for many years, but I haven't done much with it. I'm still not sure how to handle all this information, but I may post some stories on this blog to document a few of them.

My mother had an Aunt named Ella. She was her mother’s sister, and they were very close. My grandmother died when my mom was 13. Besides her older sisters, Aunt Ella was the closest thing my mom had to a mother.  Ella had some tragedy in her life also. Her husband went fishing one day in November and never came home. I never knew any details, but he fell out of the boat and drowned.  He was 51 years old. They didn't find his body until spring. It was 1938, the same year her sister Martha died. 

Ella was also very close to my mom's oldest sister Agnes. Agnes never married and took being the oldest of ten children very seriously. At the age of 73 Ella moved to Madison, Wisconsin and into the same apartment building as Agnes. I worked a short distance from their apartment and visited them often.  During that time Agnes had Ella record her story as she remembered it. This is a transcription of that story. It ends with Ella still in her apartment. She was an amazing woman full of grit and gumption. I guess she had to be to survive all she had been through. Eventually she moved to Neenah, Wisconsin to be near her daughter Audrey. Ella died in 1983 at age 91. Sadly her daughter only survived her by one year and her son by two years. This is Ella and her son in 1977. She was 86 and he was 65.

The story is interesting because it mentions how both her parents came from Schleswig-Holstein Germany. I knew this area was close to Denmark because my paternal grandfather immigrated from Denmark in 1900. We lived in Stoughton, Wisconsin which was a very Norwegian community at the time we lived there. Grandpa made sure that everyone knew his name was spelled JEPSEN and not SON. He always said that is how you tell a Norwegian from a Dane. Norwegian names have ON and Danes are EN. Ella's father's name was PETERSEN. I was curious, so I looked it up. I found out that this area was under Danish control during the Viking age. There was confusion over the years as to who this area should be ruled by. In the 19th century both Germans and Danes believed they had claim to Schleswig-Holstein even though most of the population were ethnic Germans. The dispute was known as the Schleswig-Holstein Question. In 1848 Denmark tried to annex the area. There was a war and Denmark was victorious, but a fight broke out again in 1864. This time Prussia and Austria won and the area was absorbed into Prussia. After WW I some of the territory went back to Denmark. In her story Ella says her parents were born in 1852 and 1855. That was the time when Denmark had control. Were they Danish or German? The E in Great grandpa's last name tells me he was Danish, but I guess it doesn't matter anymore. Enough of this speculation. This photo is Henning Petersen and Christine Matson's wedding pictures. These are not normal photos they look like chalk drawings. I am not sure how that was done, but they are in very good condition. These photos are 140 years old unless they were done at a later date from this existing photo which is 140 years old. I think it is amazing it survived all the trials and tribulations that this couple endured.

Here is Ella's story in her own words. 

The Memoirs of Ella Petersen Belter

I will try my best to think back 73 years or so, to recall the experiences of the Petersen family.

My father and mother, Henning Petersen and Christine Matson, were both born in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. Mother, March 23, 1852 and dad March 25, 1855. They had met in Germany and become engaged before coming to America, in 1882. The traveled with two of mother's sisters and their husbands. Mother worked for a year before they were married as a cook in the Mandel Brothers store. Dad worked as a cabinet maker, a trade he had learned in Germany. They were married August 25, 1883 and had six children, 3 boys and then 3 girls. Every other child died in infancy. The three children were Chris the oldest, Martha and myself, the youngest born in 1891. Dad continued his work as a carpenter and mother took in boarders. They then moved to a farm in Indiana where they lived a short time and then moved back to Chicago where they bought a China Store on Milwaukee Avenue across from Coons Park. I was born after they returned to Chicago. Dad worked and mother had the store and three children to care for.

One day as dad was going to work on an open street car, he was pushed off by the crowded number of people on the car. His left leg was run over by an oncoming street car. He was rushed to the hospital before mother was notified. They operated three times removing more each time. The last surgery removed the leg just below the knee. They were going to operate again and remove the leg above the knee when dad said "I will go home and die first".  So he went home and they got a different doctor who made one clean cut below the knee and saved the rest of his leg. He then got an artificial leg. He was never able to return to work but did help with the store. They carried butter, eggs, tea and coffee, in addition to a lovely selection of fine china.

I had just started school and was in the first grade when dad decided to sell the store and move to a farm in Oblong, Illinois. Mother did not want to do this as they were doing very well in the store and had just gotten a start. Again dad had his way and soon found that he did not like it in Oblong, so we moved to Tilton Arkansas. The land which he had bought unsight unseen turned out to be under water and the house was a shack built on stilts, as were all the houses in the area. The sidewalks and the railroad tracks were built above the water. In the spring they moved in with a man who had been divorced and drank a lot. We had two rooms in his house. This man was always singing "the water is cold and chilly and I am called to die". One day, when his horse returned without him, they found him drowned. He had fallen off the horse. We were all sick most of the time from fever and chills, so much so that again dad decided to move while we all were still alive. They settled for a team of horses and a covered wagon, and we started north like a band of gypsies...and there were gypsies ahead or behind us most of the way. They wanted to tell our fortune but we did not let them as we were afraid of them. When we crossed the Missouri River we lost them. We were stuck often in the red Missouri clay, and the poor horses had to pull so hard to get us out. We would cook over a campfire, and buy milk and eggs from farmers along the way. Mother said that she never had it so good. We slept in the wagon and had the little furniture we had shipped by freight to Clinton, Iowa. After 6 weeks we arrived in Clinton, Iowa where dad had a brother. Dad got work in Kelly's furniture factory, 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, about 2 miles from home. We bought a horse and buggy and mom drove dad to work in the morning and got him at night besides taking care of the three of us and caring for a cow, pig and chicken. I went to school and Martha went to Chancy School with Libby Moody, about 2 miles. They carried their lunches. Chris got a job in the wagon factory, 10 hours a day, l6 days a week. We rented a small house. I remember the teacher asked me where I lived, and I said "the $5.00 house". That was the rent we paid. When I told the folks what I told the teacher, they laughed-later I realized why they laughed. Later we bought a very nice house, 7 rooms, 2 bedrooms upstairs, a fenced in yard, a barn and of course a two seater outhouse which everyone had at the time. Our dog Bismark went with us from Chicago to Arkansas, then to Clinton and died of old age in Wisconsin Rapids.

We stayed in Clinton about 3 years and had just gotten a nice start and a feeling of security and settled, when dad again got the wanderlust, and he and his brother Hans heard of the wild land in Wisconsin, so they went there and each bought 80 acres. There was no road leading to the land and no bridge over the river.

Dismal as the sight was, dad moved his family, and uncle Hans also. We all moved into a shanty type house with 2 rooms upstairs, and 2 downstairs. The five of us lived downstairs, and Uncle Hans and family, six of them lived upstairs. This was about six miles from the land and each morning, in the cold winter, the three men, dad, uncle Hans and Chris would go out to the land and cut the logs and haul them to a sawmill two miles away, where the logs were sawed into lumber and hauled the two miles back. Each family built a house across the road from each other. One part of the house was for the cow and horses. We had one room downstairs, and one very low room upstairs. We could only stand upright in the middle of the room. We had not any stairs, we stood on a trunk and then a couple boards nailed to the two by fours to help us climb up. The men did all this without any heat when they got there and a frozen lunch, and dad with only one leg.

I went to school near Pittsville and then was told it was not my district, so I went to Veedum, both schools were at least 2 miles from home, which I walked. The roads were not plowed in the winter, so I had to make my own path in the winter. I went from October to January to the first school, and January thru February in the Veedum school. I lied about my grade, said that I was in the second grade, as we had no report cards. Then in March we moved on to the wild land and there was no more school for at least two years. The closest grocery store and post office was Veedum five miles away. The fellow who owned the store was Stumph, a good name for anyone in that country. We got a weekly newspaper, The Minneapolis Tribune, which was old news when we got it, but I did not know the difference. We lived on this isolated place for about two years, dad and Chris had cleared some land, but the money had run out, so the folks moved to Wisconsin Rapids where dad and Chris found work in Overbeck's furniture factory. Martha, Mother and I stayed until they found a house for us. Mother took in boarders, and had as many as 9 men for $3.00 a week, which included washing and ironing, and two good hot meals a day. Breakfast included pancakes, fried potatoes, meat and eggs.

I again started school, and this time said that I was in the 5th grade. One month in the 6th grade, we returned to the farm in October. This time we stayed three years, during which time Martha was married and was living at City Point, and the rest of us moved back to Wisconsin Rapids. After two years the folks moved back to New Dam and I stayed in the Rapids. I worked in a box factory, did house work, and worked in the paper mill for $1.00 a day. I worked 10 hours a day, 6 days a week. I boarded with Mrs. Jensen, and during this time I met Herman. We went together three years and we married in Merrill, December 30, 1911, in his mother's home, with only his sister and three friends as witnesses. It was a very snowy Saturday. We had pictures taken Sunday morning and then Herman left for Menominee where he worked and I left for the farm until he got a place for us. The end of January, I went to Menominee and we stayed in the hotel until we found a two room furnished apartment and heated. Later we got a house and the folks gave up the farm and came and lived with us. Orby was born here October 12, 1912. We were not in Menominee very long when Herman got an offer to work in a piano factory in Milwaukee. It was better pay so we all moved there and dad got a job too, Shortly thereafter, the Menominee Piano Factory asked him back again, so we repacked and headed back for Menominee, hardly got settled when Herman received a letter from Stang & Ellis sash and door factory where he had worked before, offering him a better job, so again we repacked and moved to Wisconsin Rapids-the folks came later and lived with us. Herman was superintendent of the factory, and we built a nice home there. Dad helped with the finishing of it. Audrey was born in this home October 16, 1917, We sold the home and rented for a year, then we bought our old home back, trading in 80 acres of wild land in City Point across from Martha's place. The former owners had improved the home, and had put in a furnace. About 8 years later, we again sold the home, as the factory was moving out West. I did not like to go that far away, as the folks were now quite old and dad with only one leg and mother on crutches. Herman was transferred to Merrill to run the sash and door factory. We were there a year when he was offered a job in Wausau running Silbernagel's Sash and Door factory. We rented a house on Third Ave. on the West side. Agnes stayed with us for two years, when she went to high school and normal school. We built a home on Young Street in 1929 and the folks came and lived with us during the winter and went to Martha's in the summer. Dad died in December 1935 while living in Pray, Martha in January 1938, Herman drowned in November 1938 and his body was not found until April 29, 1939. Mother died July 13, 1943 and Chris died April 1967 leaving me the "last leaf on the tree".  I went to work in the grocery department at the Fair Store and worked there for twelve years. I was 64 when I quit. Audrey got married November 28th, 1947 and lived with me for 9 years. Russell was born while they lived with me. Later they moved to Oshkosh and I lived alone for five years. I sold the home in June 1961 and moved to Neenah and lived with Audrey for three years. August 2, 1964, I moved to Madison at the age of 73, and worked at the girls's dorm for four school terms. Ten months, half day and no Saturday or Sunday work. I haven't done anything for five years now. January 30, 1972, I fell down and broke my hip. I was 80 years and 6 months when it happened. I was in the hospital for a month, at Audreys for 4 months. July 8th I came back to my apartment and I am getting along fine. I take the bus to various shopping centers, but get tired after walking 10 or 12 blocks. 

This is a picture of the three Petersen children. Ella is the little one on the left. Chris in the middle and my grandmother on the right. I am assuming this picture was taken before they moved from the good life in Chicago.

Ella was an amazing resilient woman. I am so happy I had the pleasure to know her. She talked quickly as you can probably sense from her story. She would say "honest to God kid".  One time she used lye to clean something and got some on her leg. It ate her flesh down to the bone, but somehow she healed it herself. I bet she didn't want to stay in the hospital a month when she broke her hip. My favorite part of her story was the last sentence and it said everything about her personality. At 81 and recovering from a broken hip she got tired when she walked 10-12 blocks. 

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Cashew Milk

In the previous blog about our St. Patrick celebration 2023 (, I briefly wrote about Cashew Milk. I am writing this blog so the recipes can be searched easily without reading all the other details of the celebration. Even though I make this often, I want a reference for myself as well. It is easier than digging through all my unorganized recipes in a drawer.

Real dairy milk has been around since there were cows. Everyone thought it was the perfect food and for much of the population this is probably true, but my family is very intolerant of dairy products. We like the butter, yogurt and milk but it doesn't like us. When my youngest daughter was a newborn baby we discovered she couldn't tolerate cow's milk. We found out for sure when she ended up in the hospital for a week when she was eight months old. In her growing up years we bought fresh Goat's milk from a local goat farmer. Gradually through her teenage years and young adulthood, she let some dairy into her life. She didn't overeat it and somehow was able to tolerate it in moderation.  Then as she grew older it became evident that it wasn't worth the side effects. This is true for others in the family also. Fortunately in this day and age substitutions are readily available. The trouble with some of these products are the additives to make it to look more pleasing and to maintain its shelf life. If you ever check the label for Almond or Cashew milk, the expiration date is a long time from purchase. That fact in itself tells a lot. 

I have learned to make my own Cashew Milk from raw cashews and water. Raw cashews can be purchased in a lot of places. I recently bought a bag from Walmart for $9.99 for 14 ounces.  That is equivalent to almost $11.50 per pound.  I began a search for a more affordable product of a similar quality and was able to find them for $6 per pound but I had to buy five pounds.  That isn't a problem because I use them regularly.

Cashew Milk

1 cup raw cashews (pieces are fine)

4 cups water

Soak the cashews for two hours and drain off the water.  

In a high power blender add the soaked cashews to two cups of water.  Blend for 2 minutes.

Then add the rest of the water (another 2 cups) and blend for another minute.

It's ready, no straining necessary.  As you can see, it's a white creamy milk that can be interchanged with dairy milk in most recipes.  

Cashews have a good heart healthy fat.  It has magnesium which most people need more of especially if you have muscle spasms. it has a low glycemic index for anyone with diabetes, its a good source of phosphorus for strong teeth, provides 10% of your recommend iron and provide antioxidants for the eyes, skin and hair.  It seems to be a healthy alternative to dairy.

With the milk I make Greek yogurt the exact same way I made it with cow's milk.  Cashew yogurt in the grocery store is very expensive.  A 1/2 cup container can cost $2 or more.

Cashew Yogurt

4 cups of Cashew Milk

1 heaping Tablespoon (or up to 1/3 cup) of starter (I bought a container of cashew yogurt that had live cultures)

After the first batch with purchased starter, just save back enough to use in subsequent batches. 

Heat your milk to 180 degrees.  You can use a saucepan or the microwave.  Use a digital thermometer to make sure the milk is hot enough.  Then let it cool to 110 degrees.  Stir in the yogurt starter.  I usually put the yogurt starter in a small dish and add some warm milk just to get it mixed.  I then add it to the cooled milk. Now just incubate it for 10-12 hours. Those with an instant pot just make it in the cooker on the yogurt setting. I have an old yogurt maker which keeps the mixture at the proper warmth. Just keep it warm any way you can. When the time is up, I drain off the excess liquid. You can use cheesecloth or a fine sieve like a nut bag.  Just put in the refrigerator and let it drain for a few hours. The excess whey drains and leaves a very thick Greek yogurt. The whey can be used in bread or soups. It has beneficial bacteria in it as well.

Cashew Milk Pudding

Pudding can be made with Cashew milk.  Either use the box mix or make it from scratch.  Be careful with the box mix because some of them have non fat dry milk in the ingredients.  Jello brand does not.

To make cooked pudding you will need:

3 1/4 cups of Cashew milk

3 T. cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar 

Pinch of salt

3 egg yolks (mixed together)

1 t. vanilla

In a small bowl mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup of milk

In a saucepan, whisk the remaining milk, salt and sugar and begin heating until it's steamy and not boiling.  Slowly add some of the warm milk to the egg yolks.  This is called tempering and the eggs won't curdle this way.  Slowly add the egg yolks back into the saucepan with the cornstarch mixture. Cook whisking constantly until the mixture starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and add the vanilla.  Put in dishes covered with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to eat. 

I also make overnight oats with this milk.  My favorite is Apple Pie Oats.

1 apple (granny smith preferred but gala or other varieties work well)

1/2 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup Cashew milk

1 T. pure maple syrup

1/2 t. cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate in a jar or sealed container overnight. I can't eat all of this recipe at one sitting so I scoop some out in a dish, add a little more milk and heat for a minute in the microwave. 

As i mentioned before this homemade Cashew milk can be used in most recipes that use dairy milk.  It can be used for coffee creamer.  I have blogged about making Almond milk and Oat milk but this is by far the easiest and best. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

St. Patrick's Day Celebration 2023

I debated if I should write another blog about our annual St. Patrick's Day celebration this year. We have celebrated for more than 45 years, but I have written a blog about this family celebration for ten years. I either write about the celebration, our resident Leprechaun named Shamus or a new recipe. As you see, I just had to write about it again. Every year it's just a little different. The grandkids were ages 2 to 12 when we discovered a leprechaun lived in our woods. They now range in age from almost 13 to 22. They still play along searching for the elusive Shamus the Leprechaun. This year it appears that Shamus has relocated once again.  It looked like Spring was coming early to Wisconsin, so he left wherever he winters and came back to get ready for summer.  Then the snow started coming. I'm not sure how or when he accomplished it, but he left his spot in the woods with a view of the water.  It is a mystery.  All the kids went outside to look for him, even my daughter’s dog Piper. Suddenly Piper bolted for the old garage/storage shed. There was a hole in the door and Piper went right on in. Investigating further the kids discovered tiny foot prints in the snow.  They lead from a tiny outdoor privy right into the garage.  


Dylan, age 21, lifted the garage door and lo and behold there was the leprechaun house right under the workbench! It looked like he was setting up his homestead under cover this year. Since Wisconsin weather is so unpredictable, it was a perfect choice. This garage is seldom used and was really quite comfortable.  Of course Shamus was no where to be seen, but he had been very busy. He has flower pots, dirt and seeds ready to go. He has a new rug and some new decorations. He even has a hammock ready to be hung on a frame. We aren't sure if he put the hole in the door or something else did it, but being an opportunistic little fella, he took advantage.  I hope he's comfortable.  The door makes a lot of noise when it gets opened but the garage has plenty of hiding places and exit points.  I'm sure he feels quite safe.

This year we had the celebration a week early.  Scheduling with my adult daughters and their adult children is getting hard.  I am just amazed that they all showed up. Everyone is very busy doing all good things.

I won't bore everyone with pictures of corned beef and ribs, carrots, potatoes, cabbage, rutabaga and dinner rolls.  I made the usual fare, but my grandson Ewan made his delicious cake and secret icing. If you haven't seen his famous youtube video from last year, it's a must see. Leprechaun Cake  He helped his mom with an amazing rainbow jello and my other daughter made a colorful salad. I made a dairy free and gluten free desert resembling Dirt Cake without the Gummy worms.  I will put the recipe at the bottom of this blog.


It was another successful day even with a snowstorm the day before.  Many years we are outside in our shirt sleeves for this day.  Maybe it's a blessing because Shamus would have been harder to find without the snow trail. 

A Dairy and Gluten Free Variation on Dirt Cake

A smaller version could be made in a pie pan, but I made it for a 9 x 13 cake pan

2 Pkg. of Gluten Free Mint Oreos (these are gluten free and dairy free)

4 small packages of Chocolate pudding mix  (Use Jello brand or read the label, off brands have dry milk, Jello does not)

7 cups of Homemade Cashew milk*


To make cashew milk take 1 cup of raw cashews and soak them for 2 hours in 2 cups of water.  Then rinse them and add them to a high speed blender with 2 cups of fresh water.  Blend for two minutes.  Then add 2 more cups of water.  Blend for another minute. That's all there is to it. Cashew milk does not need to be  strained. It's ready to use after blending. I have even made Cashew Greek yogurt out of it using dairy free starter. It is made with the very same process as Dairy yogurt. Save a small amount from the batch to use as starter for the next batch. I drain the yogurt when it is finished to make a product resembling Greek yogurt. Cashew yogurt is very expensive in the store. This method saves a lot of money and is delicious.

 *I shouldn't call it Milk. Milk comes from lactating animals.  I am using the term milk for lack of a better word.  Cashew water doesn't sound very appetizing.

Crush 1 1/2 packages of Oreos with the frosting and press into a 9 x 13 pan.  Save some of the crumbs for sprinkling on top. At this point you can choose to bake for 5 minutes or just use as is.  Next mix the chocolate pudding mix with the cold milk and pour onto the crust.  Sprinkle with more crushed crumbs.  Chill for a few hours or overnight. You can serve with whipped topping or without.  I forgot to put it out and no one complained.  It doesn't look great, but it's really good.

Monday, February 13, 2023

Easy Method For Cleaning Bakeware

When I first started this blog I wrote a lot about household things, recipes and DIY projects as opposed to my recent thoughts and insights. I have to say the latter was a lot more popular. My ideas don't always mesh with others, so I'm here with a helpful hint.

Just before Christmas I was visiting with a friend. She had an old cookie sheet sitting on the table. She wanted to ask me how I would clean it or should she just toss it. I told her to toss it if she didn't want to use it that way. It was perfectly good for baking, it just didn't look new anymore. I had tried for a long time to get that brown baked on grease off oven racks and baking sheets. I tried ammonia, razor blades, steel wool and various cleaning solutions. Some of them worked but it required a lot of elbow grease and energy.  

Lo and behold I found the solution on Tik Toc. All it takes is a pumice stone stick. I ordered some and started cleaning up my bakeware.  You can easily get them online and probably in most home improvement stores.

The first thing I tried was my small sheet pans. I use these often in the toaster oven for roasting veggies. They just didn't clean up well. 

This sheet had baked on grease as well as discoloration from water. First I wet the pan and the pumice stone. Then I started erasing the gunk.  

Next I did some muffin tins. I timed this one. I always hear from people that they don't have time to do certain things. If you actually time how long something takes, it never takes as long as you think it will. I cleaned this muffin tin in two minutes. Pumice may scratch a little depending on what you are cleaning.  Aluminum will scratch more than iron. It might be a good idea to test an area first.

 There are tons of ideas and remedies on social media apps that don't work, but in this one is great.

Monday, January 16, 2023

Growing Up In The 1960's

This is going to be a quick blog. I just want to put my thoughts on paper before they leave my mind.  Sometimes I feel like a fax machine (this probably dates me too). My brain throws out information faster than I can grasp it. If I don't write it down, it's gone. Sometimes the thought leaves before I can even write it down. I guess having an active mind is good for a person 75 years old, but sometimes it's a curse. I can create problems that aren't there and stress that doesn't even matter in the long run. I can also create very happy enjoyable moments from almost nothing. Simple things like seeing a bird or animal travel through my yard brings me joy. 

Today is Martin Luther King day. Today started me thinking about growing up in the 1960's. I was thirteen in 1960 and was married before the decade ended. Living through it was sad at times but looking back now they were pretty traumatic times. We listened to the radio more than television.  I can still hear the news announcements in my mind. I also remember the television coverage of JFK's funeral. Young people these days have their own stress and issues, but we lived through so many assassinations in the 1960's. I am sure I am forgetting a few but these are the ones I remember clearly. It started in 1963 with civil rights leader Medgar Evers, then in November of 1963 President John F. Kennedy, 1965 was Malcolm X and in 1968 Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were killed. All of them were shot. President Kennedy was 46, Robert Kennedy was 42 and the others were under 40 years old. I didn't realize at the time how young that was. 

Has the human race learned anything from these tragedies more than 50 years ago?  I'm not so sure.