Saturday, March 23, 2013

Operation Migration

For those of you who are my facebook friends know of my fascination with the Whooping Cranes.  Whooping Cranes were almost extinct.  The population was down to 15 in the 1940's.  The population is on the increase but not without the help of individuals who have dedicated themselves to saving this beautiful bird.

One day while traveling a back road from our home to Berlin WI, we noticed several campers and a trailer with the name Operation Migration on the side.

 After a little research we realized that this local marsh area was where they were raising the baby Whooping Cranes.  A couple weeks after seeing this trailer we attended a Crane festival in Berlin.  It was during that time we learned about Operation Migration and the work they were doing.  They raise the chicks by wearing costumes so the birds never see a human.  They need to remain completely wild.

 In late fall, they help the birds migrate with an ultralight airplane (as shown on the trailer).  It is a site to behold and I wanted to see it so bad.  There were viewing sites a short distance from our house, but due to delays we missed the first leg of their journey.  They left around September 28, 2012.   Finally after many migration days the cranes arrived to a wildlife area in Florida on November 22.  They spent the winter learning to fish and survive without the help of humans.  Six cranes began the migration from the White River Marsh near Princeton Wisconsin.  One died during the migration from a broken leg, one died in Florida by being killed by a coyote, one disappeared and hasn't been located and the other three took off last week.  Hopefully they imprinted and will return to this area.  Everyday I watch out on our marsh to see if these beautiful Whooping Cranes stop for a bite to eat before returning to the sanctuary of the White River Marsh.  Many sandhill cranes have come through already. 

All the details of this can be read about on the website.  Read the field notes for details of the journey.  If you start you can follow all 57 days of migration.

There is also the fact sheet

Photo: Karen Willes.

Friday, March 22, 2013

The Antique Hall Tree

Many of you know how we came to like antique oak furniture, but I'll mention it again.  We didn't have a lot of money when we first got married.  My husband was thrilled to get a teaching job for $5000 a year in 1969.  We couldn't afford the new furniture that we really liked, so we started buying old pieces for $5 and $10 .  We cleaned and refinished the furniture.  These pieces turned out to be sturdy, and we still have most of them to this day.  At some point in the late 1960's we met a man named Elmer Johnson.  Elmer owned a farm outside of Stoughton Wisconsin.  He went to auctions and filled his barns with old furniture.  Quite often my husband would go out and visit Elmer.  They chatted and more often than not, my husband would come home with a piece to work on.  One particular day he brought home a beautiful hall tree.  We had an old home with an entry hall and an open staircase.  This hall tree fit in perfectly.  It had a hinged box for mittens, hats and sometimes boots.  Our daughters always called it the 'boot box'.  Where ever we moved, we always found a place for it.

When our youngest daughter grew up, she wanted a hall tree like ours.  We searched antique stores and sales, but either they needed a lot of repair or cost a lot.  We are old but not old enough to give away our favorite belongings.  At this point, my husband decided to make her one.  This is the final product.  I think it looks nearly the same and even better because her dad made it. 

This is our hall tree purchased about 1969.

This one on the right was made by my husband for our daughter.  I took the photo with my phone so the color is a little off, but you get the idea.  A pretty close match, don't you think?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

An Ordinary Day

I really don't have much to report today.  The calendar says it is Spring, but the winter that never ends continues.  However, the temperature is rising slightly each day.  The snow is slowly melting and icicles are forming.  The sun is higher in the sky and you can feel that it has more heat.  It's probably good the snow is melting slowly because some extreme flooding could happen if it melts too fast.

Yesterday I saw this lonely Sandhill Crane just standing in the snow.  It stood just below our deck and I could see it easily from the patio door.  He would stand on one leg for a while and then switch.  He stayed for hours.  Then this morning I saw at least fifty sandhill cranes congregating near the river. I wonder what they eat when everything is frozen solid.  We also had at least a hundred geese stop over in the open water near our house.  I assume this means Spring is close at hand.

I also spent today babysitting with my youngest grandchild.  He had a cough and cold and couldn't go to daycare.  He was so good.  We just sat and watched Curious George cartoons or as he calls it Monkey George.  We ate imaginary food and read books.  It was actually a good break from my usual day.  We even made a gluten free cake for his mommy.  You can see he doesn't feel so good, but he wanted to help.

Triple Chocolate Cake

Wheat free!


    • 1 chocolate cake mix, dry mix not made up ( King Arthur Flour Cake Mix Gluten Free Chocolate works great)
    • 3.9 ounce package instant chocolate pudding mix
    • 8 ounces sour cream
    • 4 eggs
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 cup oil
    • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips


    1. Grease a bundt pan and set aside.
    2. In a bowl combine cake mix, eggs, dry pudding mix, sour cream, water, and oil.
    3. Beat on low for 1 minute or until well blended.
    4. Stir in chocolate chips.
    5. Bake at 350 for 1 hour or until cake tests done when a toothpick is inserted.
    6. Let cool and enjoy

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Organizing your Knife and Fork Drawer

When I was visiting in Michigan recently, I was able to visit IKEA for the first time.  It is a very interesting place and I enjoyed it very much.  I like how they set up different room situations using their products.  I purchased a few things and I am sure if I lived closer to this store, I would shop there often.

In the kitchen area they had a lot of organizational ideas, including inserts to organize the knife and fork drawer.  I had my own idea for doing this and that is my helpful hint for today.  I went to the dollar store and purchased plastic desk trays.  They are usually used to store pencils and pens.  They are sold in a pack of three for a dollar.  They are easy to clean and work beautifully.

Happy first day of Spring.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Moist Bundt Cake

Recipe Tuesday is here once again.  Since last Sunday was St. Patrick's Day, I think I will post the recipe for the cake I made.  Usually I make the Pistachio Cake that everyone is familiar with.  It is light green in color so it fits in with the green theme of St. Patrick's Day.  Sometimes this cake is called the Watergate Cake because it was created and became popular at the same time as the Nixon Watergate scandal in the 1970's.  Jello had just come up with their new Pistachio pudding and provided the recipe for pistachio-pinapple salad.  It was said that the salad was named watergate salad because the salad was full of bananas, marshmallows and nuts and covered up with fluff, just like the President Richard Nixon administration.  The cake also used the pudding and so the name Watergate Cake stuck.

This year I used a little variation of the original recipe and put it into a bundt pan.  This recipe can be used for any type cake mix and any flavor pudding you think would go together.  This time I used a white cake mix and pistachio pudding, but chocolate cake mix with chocolate pudding or lemon cake mix with lemon pudding and some poppyseeds works just as well.  I love the creme cakes they sell at the grocery store and this cake turns out almost the same.  It is very moist and delicious.

Moist Bundt Cake

1 package of white cake mix (try to buy the cheaper kind without any pudding added)
1 package (3.9 ounces) instant pistachio pudding mix
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups of water (original watergate cake uses lemon-lime soda in place of water)
1/2 cup oil

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake and pudding mixes, eggs, water and oil.
Beat on low until moistened and then beat for two minutes on medium.

Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes.
Cool 10 minutes and remove onto a wire rack.

When cooled completely, heat frosting (either canned or homemade) for a few seconds in the microwave and drizzle over the cake.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Facebook Problems

What has happened to Facebook?  It doesn't even resemble the Facebook I signed up for 5 years ago.  People used to post what they were doing and how the family was.  Now all you see is sharing cartoons and sayings.  People go through and 'like' everything everyone says.  It is so phoney.   It's too bad. It seems the more the Facebook people try to improve it, the worse it gets. They should have two categories.  One for political, website likes, cartoons and sappy sayings.  All this stuff isn't going to change my politics, make me eat certain foods, love my grandchildren more or any of that.  I used to post some of those things and it either made people angry or I wouldn't get the response I expected.  It should be an option not the dominating thing you see.  The other could be more personal.  I miss many things that I would like to see but I don't have the patience to search everyone individually to see if there is something fun or interesting.  I have close friends and relatives identified, but even they have tons of game requests and other postings that are of no interest to me.  Then all the people who wanted us to hover over their name and check all the things they don't want to share.  The result of that is that I don't see anything these people put on, so what's the point.  Why even be on Facebook.  That's why I am blogging.  Anyone who wants to read what I have to say can log into my blog.  Otherwise I will post a few photos now and then and respond to what I see, but remain mostly 'quiet'.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Timeless Voices

On February 13, 2013,  I wrote a blog post titled My Dad Is A Hero

I told about the interview that took place at the EAA offices in Oshkosh WI.  If you want to read that first, please check out the previous post from about a month ago.

The finished product is available to view.  It is appropriate because 70 years ago today (St. Patrick's Day) my dad left for the war.  He shared his experiences in WWII as a gunner on a B-24.  He did an incredible job and we are so grateful to have this memento.

St. Patrick's Day Tradition

Today is St. Patrick's Day.  We never celebrated this holiday until I married.  I had never eaten corned beef.  The first time I tried it was shortly after we got married.  Corned Beef and Cabbage was tradition in my husband's family.  The first time I made it, I boiled the heck out of it and was told by my mother in law that you never ever do that, it makes the meat tough.  She was right, it was tougher than shoe leather.  From that time forward I learned how to make it.  Now I use the slow cooker and cook slowly.  It is the best and in my opinion the only way to cook corned beef.  I was used to making boiled dinner which is nothing more than corned beef and cabbage but you use a picnic ham instead of the corned beef.  Now every year it is tradition for me to make a St. Patrick's dinner for our family.  Today I had fourteen at the table.  Actually ten at one table and four at the kid's table.  We had corned beef, red potatoes, rutabaga, carrots, pearl onions and cabbage plus green jello, spinach salad, green fluff, applesauce and rolls.  Then pistachio cake and some gluten free grasshopper brownies for desert.  I must have thought they were bigger eaters than they were because I have a lot of leftovers.  Oh well, I won't have to think about meals for the next couple days. 

These are the gluten free mint brownies.