Thursday, June 23, 2016

Prince's Pine, A New Plant For Me

The other day when I was walking out to the mailbox, I noticed a patch of greenery growing under a pine tree.  As I looked closer, I saw it was a plant I hadn't noticed before.  I don't think it was there in other years.  You would think I would have noticed if they had appeared before.

I had no idea what these plants were.  I downloaded an app called MyGardenAnswers.  It is an app where you can take a photo of a flower with your phone, submit it and supposedly the app will tell you what the plant is.  I tried it, but I got no results.  I looked online at several flower sites but I couldn't find the answer.  My next step was to post the picture on a nature facebook group I belong to.  A kind person identified it for me.  It is called Prince's Pine (Chimaphila umbellata).  He said "It's a native species of relatively high conservatism that prefers drier wooded habitats. It most likely arrived through natural dispersion or may have been present in the seed bank."  I was so excited to discover something new. They have spread quite a bit, and I am hoping they will come back every year. Wikipedia says it is a small perennial flowering plant found in dry woodlands, or sandy soils. Perennial means it should come back every year.  It has green leaves year-round, and it receives a significant portion of its nutrition from fungi in the soil. By keeping the green color,  they should be easy to keep track of.

Some Indian tribes used to boil Prince's Pine to treat tuberculosis.  It also has some antibacterial properties they used to treat infections.
It is also used as a flavoring in candy and soft drinks, particularly root beer.  I picked some leaves and they didn't smell like anything unless the oils need to be extracted somehow. Interesting but I won't be using it for flavor or medicinal purposes.  I will just enjoy the plants and the flowers.

The plants are spreading this summer.

I was waiting to see if the the little buds were going to bloom into a flower.  Today I went to check.  They are just starting to bloom into a small little unique flower.  

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hot Air Balloon Crew is a Great Summer Job

We can all remember our first job.  These jobs serve two purposes.  It is a way for a young person to earn some extra money either to save for further education or to save for a special item.  The other purpose is to reinforce what you DON'T want to do for the rest of your life.  I worked in the hot kitchen of an A & W root beer stand.  I didn't have the fun car hop job, but instead worked in a small area with a grill and warmers with barbecue and hot beef.  It is probably the reason I don't like confined spaces or being hot.  At the same time I worked as a cleaning lady in a nursing home.  I had to wear a uniform which was a yellow dress with sensible shoes, and I had to wear my hair in a bun. Quite the look for a 18 year old.   Cleaning in a nursing home has some challenges which I won't go into, but needless to say I can still remember the smell of the toilet bowl cleaner.  Wait!!!  Summer jobs are training for what you don't want to do for the rest of your life, but that is exactly what it was.  I was training to be a wife and mother and didn't even know it.

My husband washed dishes during his high school years and became very proficient at it.  I am always so happy when he practices his skills in our kitchen.

Our two oldest grandchildren are going to be sophomores in high school.  They each have their first summer job.  Our granddaughter is doing filing at a local car dealership.  She is enjoying it, but I am quite sure filling hamburger buns or chasing turd balls under beds wouldn't be for her.

Our grandson has the best job of all.  He obtained a job on the crew of a hot air balloon company.  Last week we observed the process.  He will never forget this experience.

The trolley picks up the riders and the workers.

They proceed to the launch site.

The equipment is unloaded and set up.



With a big powerful fan the inflation process begins.

The propane flame heats the air.

Pretty soon the balloon is inflated.

The riders get into the basket.

Then it's Up, Up and Away.

At this point, as the hot air balloon disappeared into the horizon, the balloon crew packed the equipment into the trolley.  We waited to follow them.  The trolley tracks the balloon, and I imagine they are in communication at all times.

We spotted the balloon across the lake.

Then the landing begins.  This time it was in a field.

The crew had to pull the balloon into the proper position.

Deflating the balloon.

It is amazing to me how quickly they can pack up the balloon and put it away until the next flight.  I don't know the technicalities of the flight, but I imagine it is complicated and mostly depends on the wind and weather.  I did notice that they put up small test balloons to see the wind direction and probably other things.

I noticed the flight we witnessed seemed to fly really low.  I don't know if that was by design or was dictated by the winds.  I am just glad I witnessed from the ground and not from that basket. I have never claimed to be brave.  I agree with the motto of the balloon company, but I just want both of my feet on the ground.

The motto of the balloon company.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Special Mother's Day Surprise

Happy Father's Day.  Even if it's a made up holiday, it is still nice to honor all fathers and father figures.  My husband got his token gift which he picked out himself.  It was a 26 piece screwdriver set he found at Costco.  Now all his screwdrivers will be in one place.  A place for everything and everything in it's place.  Something we have been striving for.  Today we went to a breakfast on the farm with some of the family and then later almost everyone came over for ribs, sweet corn, mashed potatoes, 7-layer salad and strawberries on pound cake.  I think all the father's and mom's for that matter had a good day.

I can't remember what I bought for myself on Mother's Day, but I'm sure it was something I wanted or needed at the time.  We aren't much for surprises, but I may have to change my mind.  I can't even convey how surprised I was last Mother's Day.  I have been waiting to blog about this surprise gift.  My daughter also gave one to my sister.  I didn't want to spoil my sister's surprise because she did not receive hers until recently.

It all started in April.  My daughter asked if I had any recipes hand written by my mom (her grandma).  I didn't think a lot about it, she is a very sentimental girl.  She wanted a recipe that we remembered mom making.  Several days later I thought I should look for one.  Mom made up recipes or changed them so I couldn't really think of any off hand.  I have a whole box of recipes, but the ones I use most often are in a kitchen drawer.  I opened the drawer to see what I could find, and there on top was one written in my mom's handwriting.  I had never really noticed it before.  When I looked at it carefully, it was a recipe for her Cinnamon Rolls.  It was dated 10/21/53.  It was called Delicious Rolls so I may have thought it was a recipe for dinner rolls and didn't ever read it.  It also said she got it from a Mrs. B.  I don't know who that could be.   We know a few possibilities, but we will never know for sure.   My mother made hundreds of pans of cinnamon rolls in her life.  It was kind of her signature food.  Whenever we had a family brunch, she always made cinnamon rolls.  When I married my husband, she would make a pan with raisins and a pan without raisins for him.  To this day, we make a pan of cinnamon rolls for family breakfast meals.  They are never as good as we remembered mom making.  I had ask her to show me a few times, but she never gave me an actual recipe.  I think she even forgot she had this one.

I found a couple more recipes written in mom's handwriting and the next time I saw my daughter I gave them to her.  That was the last I thought about it.  I thought they would go into a scrapbook and that would be it.  When it was Mother's Day, she gave me a present from her and her sister.  When I opened it up, I couldn't believe it.  There, laser engraved onto a cutting board was mom's recipe.  It was a very special gift, and I will treasure it always.

This is the finished cutting board and the original recipe card with a cinnamon thumbprint included.

*I am updating this blog I wrote a couple years ago.  I finally got around to making these rolls.  They turned out very well.  The first pan I made, I followed the directions exactly.  I squeezed them into a small pan and they turned out well.  I cut them into 12 pieces instead of 24 so I thought that would work.

I didn't think this was enough rolls for our family brunch because I always overdo things.  I decided late in the day to make another pan.  This time I put all the ingredients into my bread machine and set it for the dough cycle.  They turned out the same or maybe a little better.  This dough is very easy to work with.  It isn't sticky at all.  I am so happy to have finally made my mom's special cinnamon rolls.