Saturday, February 16, 2013

Winter Grunge

Spring is right around the corner.  How do I know this?  Not from the temperature outside because it is 9 degrees right now.  Not from the date of February 16th.  How then?  It is because the last few days we have had sunshine.  Not the kind of Winter sunshine which has been lacking a lot this Winter, but the sun that is a little higher in the sky.  I can tell it is higher in the sky because my house looks so dirty.  The bright light shines on all the dust and cobwebs that I didn't even realize I had.  I try to keep a pretty clean house, but this time a year reality hits hard.  The rungs of the chairs are dusty, the windows look like someone threw up on them and generally everything feels grungy.  Having wood stoves and pellet stoves don't help with the dust.  The fine dust they produce seems to land on everything. Thank goodness for my feather duster and my swiffer, but when the sun shines I can see it's a losing battle.   I guess that is where the term Spring Cleaning came from.  Soon I will have it back to normal.

Dirty Windows with Squirrel Footprints

Every year at this time I just want to open the doors and windows.  I wish I could take a hose spray everything down.   I even have frosty cobwebs. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Thrift Stores Aren't What They Used to Be

I was really looking forward to today.   My husband was going to Fond du lac to get our car serviced.  I knew that city had a huge St. Vincent du Paul store,  and I had been there briefly a couple of times.

I decided that I would ride along and be dropped off at the thrift store.  I pictured myself grabbing one of those old grocery carts and taking my time, looking at everything.  My husband would come back and pick me up when he was finished at the car dealership.  Everything went as planned.  I got dad his breakfast early, I filled a thermos full of coffee for him and set out some cookies to tied him over until we got home.  I would feel really terrible if he starved while I was roaming around in a thrift store.  We traveled to Fond du lac and I hopped out of the car.  I told him not to hurry back, I would be fine.  I grabbed the cart and began looking for all those treasures.  I started out in the clothing section, then purses, shoes, housewares... NOTHING.  I looked at furniture and books and found nothing.  All I saw was Junk.  Either the word is out that you can find really good stuff at thrift stores or people aren't donating things anymore.  In the past I have found Dale of Norway sweaters, Coach purses, Kurig coffee makers and tons of other interesting items.  I thought my husband would never return.  I think the check out lady thought I was stalking her because I made the circuit around the store so many times.  I finally settled on one thing, a little piece of Mexican pottery.   I knew it was Mexican because it said MEXICO on the bottom  unless someone wrote it in permanent marker.  I do collect that type of pottery and it was only $1.  I couldn't go home completely empty handed.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

If Valentine's Day means Love, Then Everyday Should be Valentine's Day

Today is Valentines Day.  I suppose I should write something about it.  I really don't want to, I think it is ridiculous and created for commercial purposes.  It makes single people feel bad and it puts unnecessary pressure on people in relationships.  So this is going to be a short post.  I believe that a person should show love to those they care about everyday of the year, not just February 14.

I would much prefer to be treated with love and respect everyday.  I would prefer to have the kitchen cleaned up instead of some flowers that die in a couple days.  I know, some people love Valentine's Day, but it's just another day to me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Dad is a Hero

Yesterday we had a wonderful day.  My dad is 88 years old and he lives with us now.  We are so fortunate that he has a great memory.  He reminds me of things I have forgotten and thinks of things I hadn't considered.  During the election he explained all about China and treasury bonds and has a lot of knowledge to share, but only when asked.  A few weeks ago he was asked to do an interview about his WW II service.  He was drafted when he was 18 years old and became a gunner in a B-24 in the South Pacific.  He flew 44 bombing missions.  He agreed to the interview and yesterday we traveled to the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) offices in Oshkosh Wisconsin.  They showed him into a recording studio and for an hour and a half they recorded a conversation between him and the interviewer.  We left the room, so we don't know everything that was said but everyone involved said it went so well.  Throughout the evening he mentioned a few things he talked about so we can't wait to see it.  Since this is Dad's story, we will receive a copy of the raw footage to view.  Then later the taping will be edited and made into a CD which will be stored at the EAA and possibly the Library of Congress. 

Dad signing a release form
We know Dad mentioned his friend Marion Ray who later became a Prisoner of War.
This is the book that Marion wrote about his experience.

While Dad was doing the interview, we visited the Aviation museum.  It has many collections related to aviation and full sized aircraft of all kinds.  Here are just a few photos from the many I took.

For those of you who don't know about the EAA, it is an amazing place to visit.  Especially during AirVenture celebration starting July 29, 2013.  Information on this is at

Here is some information about the EAA and what it does?  They have a lot more information on their website 

EAA is a growing and diverse organization of members with a wide range of aviation interests and backgrounds. EAA was founded in 1953 by a group of individuals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who were interested in building their own airplanes. Through the decades, the organization expanded its mission to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters, and contemporary manufactured aircraft.

How does one describe an EAA member? Well, how does one describe the feeling of taking off into a stiff headwind? The answer: If you don't know, you'll just have to join us to find out. EAA members are what we like to call the "keepers of the flame." Sure, we love airplanes. We fly them. We fix them. We even build them. But it goes beyond that. It's about passion, camaraderie, that ol' can-do spirit, and a grassroots way of sharing our love of aviation with others. Whatever it takes to stand in the footsteps of Orville and Wilbur ... if only for a moment.

EAA enables you to share the spirit of aviation with the most passionate community of recreational pilots, builders, and restorers.

EAA is the only association that offers the fun and camaraderie of sharing your passion for participating in the flying, building, and restoring of recreational aircraft with the most passionate community of aviation enthusiasts.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stuffed Pepper Soup and Croutons

We had a really busy day and got home so late, I didn't cook.  We stopped to eat on our way home.  I will write tomorrow what we did today.  It was very exciting.

As you know, I make a lot of soup.  At least twice a week, I make a whole kettle of soup for my dad.  I like to make different varieties.   A few days ago I made Stuffed Pepper Soup, so that will have to be my Tuesday recipe.  It is very quick and easy.

Stuffed Pepper Soup

2 pounds of Ground Beef
1-2 quarts Water (I started with 1 quart and added more liquid for desired thickness)
2 teaspoons Beef Bouillon granules  (or you can use beef broth instead of water and leave out the bouillon)
1 can (28 oz.) Tomato Sauce
1 can (28 oz.) Diced Tomatoes, undrained
2 cups cooked Rice
2 cups Green Peppers, diced
2 cups Carrots, diced
1 small Onion, diced
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Brown the ground beef until it isn't pink and drain off the grease.
Stir everything else together in a Dutch Oven and simmer until the vegetables are tender.

Or use the Pressure Cooker.  Brown the meat, add the other ingredients and pressure for 10 min.  Either way you get the same results.  If the soup is too thick, it can be watered down to a proper thickness.

Homemade Croutons

1 loaf of day old French bread, cubed
1/2 cup melted butter
2 teaspoons garlic powder

You can add other flavorings as you like.  The recipe also calls for Italian seasoning, parsley, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, but I leave all of that out.  We just like them plain, but it depends on what you use them for. 

Just preheat the oven to 300 degrees.  Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss well.  Spread out in a single layer on a jelly roll pan.  
Bake 12-25 minutes until golden brown. They easily burn, so watch carefully the last few minutes.  The time depends on the amount of bread cubes used.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Rag Rugs

Ever since I can remember I have crocheted rag rugs.  Our great grandparents made them and probably many generations before that.  Nothing went to waste.  If a piece of clothing was ripped and stained past the point of wearing, it was ripped into strips and later crocheted into rugs or other useful items.  I don't do it as much as I used to because it takes some hand strength and the larger rugs get heavy to work on.  Every once and a while, for a change of pace, I make one.  I have also knit the strips, I have braided the strips but I like crocheting them better.

The first thing you do when you want to make a rug is to choose the fabric.  Old sheets work beautifully because the strips are long and require less stitching together.  Some people just connect the strips by slitting the fabric and slip knotting the next piece.  I think sewing the strips together makes for a smoother transition and a less lumpy rug.  Just take the fabric and rip strips two to two and a half inches wide.  It doesn't matter if the edges are raggedy, you will fold in the raw edges when they are crocheted.  When you have a big pile of strips, it is time to sew the strips together.  Put the right sides together and sew.  This is the time to choose how the colors transition or just stitch together all the same color and when you want to change colors just sew on a new bundle.  We are lucky that we have sewing machines to make this process easy and quick.  It takes an amazing amount of fabric to make even a small rug, so using old sheets or fabric remnants is a better way.   Garage sales are a perfect place to pick up fabric remnants and interesting colored sheets.

Here is the basic pattern for a rug.  I got this off a free website and I hope it is accurate.  I don't use a pattern but just space out the increases so it lies flat.  I use a size Q crochet hook.

How To Crochet A Basic Oval Shape
and Oval Rag Rug Pattern

Basic Instructions for Crocheting an Oval Shape
Starting chain: Chain 22.
Rnd 1: Sc in 2nd ch from hook, sc in back loop only of next 20 ch; 3 sc in last ch, turn sideways and continue along other side of the foundation ch, sc in remaining loop of ea of next 20 ch, 2 sc in first ch of this rnd, sl st to first sc. Turn.
Rnd 2: Ch 1, sc in same place as sl st, 2 sc in ea of next 2 sc, sc in ea of next 20 sc, 2 sc in ea of next 3 sc, sc in ea of next 20 sc, join with a sl st to first ch. Turn.
Rnd 3: Ch 1, 1 sc in same place as sl st, sc in ea of next 21 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc) 3 times, sc in ea of next 20 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next sc) twice, join with sl st to first ch. Turn.
Rnd 4: Ch 1, 1 sc in same place as sl st, sc in ea of next 2 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc) twice, sc in ea of next 20 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 2 sc) 3 times, 1 sc in ea of next 20 sc, join with sl st to first ch. Turn.
Rnd 5: Ch 1, 1 sc in same place as sl st, sc in ea of next 21 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 3 sc) 3 times, sc in ea of next 21 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 3 sc) twice, join with sl st to first ch. Turn.
Rnd 6: Ch 1, 1 sc in same place as sl st, sc in ea of next 4 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 4 sc) twice, sc in ea of next 20 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 4 sc) 3 times, 1 sc in ea of next 19 sc, join with sl st to first ch. Turn.
Rnd 7: Ch 1, 1 sc in same place as sl st, sc in ea of next 22 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 5 sc) 3 times, sc in ea of next 21 sc, (2 sc in next sc, sc in next 5 sc) twice, join with sl st to first ch. Turn.
Remaining Rnds: Continue in this manner, increasing 3 stitches around the curve on each round by placing one more stitch between each increase on each additional round (6 increases total per round).
For size rug you want: Keep adding rounds until you have the width and length you desire.
Your increases don't have to be all in the same area; the important thing is to end up with 3 increases around each curve.

With left over strips I crocheted around this basket to dress it up a little.

This next rug was made from old bluejeans.  I saved old jeans for a long time and then one day I just cut strips.  For this rug I didn't sew the strips together, I did the slip stitch method.  I wouldn't recommend this because this is the only rug that didn't hold up through repeated washings.  The slip stitch connections failed in a few places and produced holes.  I probably won't use jeans again.  The fabric is too coarse and it ravels easily.  It looked pretty though.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sturgeon Spearing

For anyone familiar with Lake Winnebago and it's connecting rivers in Wisconsin, this weekend is a big deal.  I had no idea what a family tradition it was or how important it is to many people in the area.  This weekend begins the start of Sturgeon spearing season.  Sturgeons are carefully managed and can only be speared during this short season.  Because of the strict regulations there are now more Lake Sturgeon in the Winnebago System than anywhere else in the world.  They are Wisconsin’s largest and longest living fish species.   They are a prehistoric species, with fossil records dating back 150 million years. 

The Menominee people relied on the sturgeon for food and medicine.  Their spiritual and cultural connection to the sturgeon was so great that a special dance is performed for the sturgeon called the "fish dance." The Menominee Indian culture still has a sturgeon ceremony and feast in the spring.  

Before opening day, cars and trucks pulling ice shanties drive out on the ice to choose the perfect spot.  They choose a spot that has good water clarity and a predetermined depth depending on the weather.  Then they cut a large hole in the ice.  This year the ice is a little unstable and I wouldn't want to drive my car out on it.  Then early on opening day morning, they sit and watch for a fish to swim by and they spear them.  Some of the record breaking fish weigh over 200 hundred pounds.  I can't imagine it myself, but generation after generation of families have this as a tradition.  Over 12,000 spearing licenses were sold for the 2013 season.  The season lasts for a 16 days or until a specified number of sturgeon are speared.

Sometimes the sturgeon travel down the rivers that connect the Winnebago riverways to spawn.  This usually happens in early spring after the ice has melted.  We see them in the Fox River in Princeton where we live.  My daughter has seen them in the Fox River near their pier and took these photos.  It is illegal to remove them from the water or catch them at any other time of year. 

For some more information from the Wisconsin DNR