Saturday, May 4, 2013

Legend of the Cross

One summer day a few years ago my oldest daughter wanted to go for a canoe ride on the river.  The Fox River flows north so we usually canoe with the current.  It is much easier to paddle without fighting the current.  We usually put in the canoe near a downtown Princeton boat landing and then someone will drive the truck to another landing and either wait, or we bring two cars and leave one of them at the ending point.

We had an enjoyable trip seeing herons, eagles, fish jumping and turtles.  It is amazing how different everything looks from the river.  When we got to the final destination, there was a man standing looking out at the river.  After we docked, we started chatting with him.  As it turns out he is a local 4H leader and  his family has lived in the area for many generations.  He knew so much local history.

One of the stories he told was about Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet plus five other men.  They traveled in two birch bark canoes to explore unknown lands.  Father Marquette thought if he found the Mississippi River, it would probably take him west to California and then to the Orient.  It didn't work out that way.   As he and the others traveled up the Fox River, they came across a major Indian encampment.  There were Miami and Kickapoo Indians as well as the Mascoutin's.  They all spoke the Algonquin language.  Father Marquette had an advantage because he knew six Native American dialects.  This was a place where French trappers, missionaries and Native Americans were all on friendly terms.  This place had mineral water and natural springs.  The springs are still there but we couldn't find them today.  The entire area is still flooded from this years flooding.

Before Marquette and Jolliet moved on, they also placed a large Cross to the area.  For many generations the Native Americans spoke of the great meeting of the man who wore the black robe.  Catholics and other religious groups would make pilgrimages to this site.  The original arrival to this location was June 7, 1673.  Throughout the years a cross of some sort has remained at this location.  The man who showed us around and his friends and family installed a new one.  It is on private property now, but if you look real hard,  it is visible from the river. 

As everyone knows Marquette and Jolliet continued to explore finding the Mississippi River at Prairie du Chien.  They had traveled 2500 miles by canoe.  There is some controversy about the Mascoutin Indians and when they left Wisconsin and what happened to these people.  The Mascoutin name lives on in the area.  It is used in the name of some establishments including the Mascoutin Golf Club in Berlin, WI.  If it hadn't been for this unplanned meeting at the boat landing, we would not have known about this Legend of the Cross.  This gentleman also showed us a lost cemetery and the site of the Village of St. Marie.  This village was directly across the river and does not exist any longer.  Maybe I will write about that in the future.  He also invited my husband and I to speak at one of their 4H meetings about geocaching. 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Amish Greenhouses

Today was another cold and rainy day in Princeton WI.  We were looking for something to do.  Dad was feeling some better, and we felt he would be alright for a couple hours.  I needed to go out for bananas, eggs and butter anyway.  We decided to drive over to a couple of the Amish greenhouses.  We live very close to Amish country and there are many greenhouses to visit as well as other Amish shops of all kinds.  I will put a map at the end of this blog with a list for many of the Amish shops in this area.  I was looking for a fuschia plant.  I always get one because the hummingbirds really like them.  The first place we stopped was the Pine Grove Greenhouse.  This is the closest to our house but it doesn't show on the map below.  The map doesn't show all the shops but there are signs and a lot of places to stop and shop. 

Pine Grove Greenhouse

The first thing you see when approaching this greenhouse is a porta-potty, a hitching post and a bathtub holding up the Pine Grove Greenhouse sign.  Maybe they use the bathtub late at night, who knows.  This store had a lot of flower and vegetable plants, but they didn't have what I was looking for.

The next stop was called the Sloping Acres Greenhouse.   This greenhouse had fuschia plants and I also found some very nice coleus plants.  Every retired citizen in the county was out in the rain today buying plants.  Everyone is hopeful that planting season will be here soon.

Sloping Acres Greenhouse

We thought we has time to visit one more greenhouse.  This one was called the Grand River Greenhouse.  They had remodeled and built on since last year.  Much to my surprise they also had fushia plants and they were $6 cheaper.  Everything was less expensive here.  Usually all the greenhouses have the same pricing, but not this time.   I bought another one because it was so nice and a different color.

Grand River Greenhouse

Then we headed home.  On the same road as the Grand River Greenhouse, we saw this store.  It had no electricity and was very dark inside.  They use manual adding machines and didn't have any heat on today.  They did have Wal Mart brand coffee for sale though.   I also see Aldi products on the shelves in some of these stores. 

A & E Grocery Store

Before going home I stopped at Kwik Trip for bananas, eggs and butter.  Then we stopped by the river to see if we could see any sturgeon.  The sturgeon had been sighted this week.  They come into the Fox river to spawn. We didn't see any but we could see our house across the water.

Our house in the distance through the rain.

. . .and this unfamiliar bird.  I think it's a Yellow Rumped Warbler.

Here is the map I promised.  Or go here:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My Favorite Birds Have Returned

This will be a quick little post for today.  It was a kind of overcast dreary day.  Quite the contrast from the warm weather on Tuesday and Wednesday.  The good news is that the the birds that migrate are coming back right on schedule.  Every May 1, give or take a day, the Baltimore Orioles, the Rose Breasted Grosbeaks, the Catbirds, the Rufous Sided Towhee and the Hummingbirds all return.  I thought with the late spring this year, the birds would be delayed.  It is so exciting to see their return.  I will be photographing them and others more later, but I just want to report that they are back along with the Tree Swallows, Bluebirds and many others. 

Rose breasted Grosbeak
Baltimore Oriole

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Very Special Afghan

My mom would have been eighty nine years old a couple weeks ago.  On her birthday my dad received a letter from one of mom's very best friends. She just wanted to keep in touch even though it has been fifteen months since my mom passed away.

Mom on the right and her friend Janice on the left.
 Mom had a rough childhood.  She had to grow up fast because her mother died when she was only thirteen and had been sick for many years before that.  She was the second youngest of ten children.  Her dad worked on the railroad from morning to night leaving the children left at home to take care of themselves.  Then when she was a freshman in high school she was sent to town to live in a boarding house.  They valued education and this is how they could get a high school education.  Can you imagine sending a child of that age away from home with $5 to live on for the week and pretty much take care of themselves?  Mom would buy day old donuts and bread so she could save some money to go roller skating.  She would come home some weekends and for the summer.  Otherwise, she was on her own.  During her school days she became best friends with a local girl who lived in town.  They remained friends until the day she died.  This girls mother became mom's surrogate mom and treated her just like one of her own.  This family was a lifeline for my mom.  When the mom would make her daughter a skirt, she would make my mom one too.  Mom's friend had a brother and he was friends with my dad.  They introduced my parents.

My sister was named after mom's friend.  She married a little later so my sister and I were special to her.  She knit and sewed for us.  She was the crafty one and that is why I was so surprised when this afghan came in the mail a few years ago.  Apparently my mom had made this for her friend and she thought we should have it back.  I knew my mom crocheted a little when we were very little.  There was no TV to watch and I heard mom say that she would crochet and dad would read books.

I know this was a long story to get to the point, but here is the afghan my mom made.  It is probably over 60 years old.  It's very special.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Chicken and Microwave Cake

Facebook is full of recipes lately.  So today for my Tuesday recipe(s) I chose two of them.  Usually I choose recipes that I have used for years and I am familiar with.  Yesterday I made was a chicken recipe reposted by my husband.  I guess it looked good to him and he wanted me to try making it.  It doesn't appear to be very healthy but he said it was delicious.  I only ate a bite and it was pretty good.  I'm not a vegetarian, but I am not crazy about meat and eat very little.

Bacon Wrapped and Cream Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 tablespoons cream cheese
1 tablespoon green onion, Chopped
2 pieces bacon, Partially Cooked


Pound out Chicken breast so it is about 1/4" thick.

Mix together cream cheese and green onions ( I used cream cheese with onion and chives) and spread cheese mixture over one side of chicken breast.

Roll the Chicken breast up to conceal cream cheese.

Wrap partially cooked bacon around chicken breast and secure with toothpick.

Place on baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes at 375.

Broil for about 5 minute to crisp bacon if necessary.  Mine was brown enough after 30 minutes.  You can make one or as many as you choose.

This is a really ugly presentation with all the white food on a white plate.  I should have used a bright colored plate or added the vegetable before I took the photo.  Lots of butter and lots of bacon, oh dear.

The next Facebook recipe I made this week was the microwave cake.  Now usually these cakes in the microwave baked in a cup recipes, do not turn out.  This one is different.  It works beautifully.  I was very surprised.  All you do is mix one box of angel food cake and one box of a flavor.  I used devils food cake mix .

Two boxes of cake mix, dry from the box.
Mix in a gallon size plastic storage bag or another container.

Sometimes you just want a little sweet treat.  When you want a small piece of cake, just mix 3 Tablespoons of dry mix and 2 Tablespoons of water in a coffee cup.  Stir it up and put it into the microwave on high for 1 minute.  Take it out of the microwave and let it rest and cool for about 15 minutes.  Turn over on a plate.  Eat is plain, put some canned frosting on it or a dollop of whipped topping.  It really works and you don't have a whole cake to eat.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Date Paste

We are all looking for healthy alternatives to include in our diet.  I stopped drinking diet soda when I learned that it actually makes people hungrier and makes belly fat.  Who knew!  The artificial sweetener in the soda is part of the problem.  I guess the carbonation isn't great for you either, but the artificial sweetener is the biggest problem.  Real sugar is actually a better choice but the calories add up and so that causes weight gain as well.  I read other peoples' blogs.  Recently I read a post by chicagohealthygirl.  Here is her page if you want to read the entire post

She explained the benefits of using date paste for a sweetener.  It is not a chemical, it has 25 calories per teaspoon and it's full of nutrition.  I thought I would try making some.  I have heard that Trader Joe's has excellent dates, but I don't have a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's within 80 miles.  I found these at the Farm & Fleet store.  They are whole dates from California, not the pieces coated with sugar.  I'm sure if you are diabetic, you will have to consider the carbs and sugars.  There is a lot of information online about using raisins and dates for diabetics.  I read they are acceptable in small amounts and better than chemical sweeteners.

Date paste is very easy to make.  You just blend equal amounts of dates and water.  It is hard to measure whole dates so either cut them up a little or cut the amount of water.  Some recipes say to soak the dates for 20 minutes and then use the soaking water for the liquid.  The date paste can be as thick or thin as you like.  I made homemade ketchup with the date paste which means no high fructose corn syrup.  My daughter sweetens her tea with it.  I have even sweetened rice krispies and it dissolved in the milk perfectly.

I found this list of health benefits from this website.

Health benefits of dates

  • Wonderfully delicious, dates are one of the most popular fruits packed with an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that are required for normal growth, development and overall well-being.
  • Fresh dates compose of soft, easily digestible flesh and simple sugars like fructose and dextrose. When eaten, they replenish energy and revitalize the body instantly. For these qualities, they are being used to break the fast during Ramadan month since ancient times.
  • The fruit is rich in dietary fiber, which prevents LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut. Additionally, the fiber works as a bulk laxative. It, thus, helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and as well as binding to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
  • They contain health benefiting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidants known as tannins. Tannins are known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic (prevent easy bleeding tendencies) properties.
  • They are moderate sources of vitamin-A (contains 149 IU per 100 g), which is known to have antioxidant properties and essential for vision. Additionally, it is also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A is known to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • They compose antioxidant flavonoids such as ß-carotene, lutein, and zea-xanthin. These antioxidants found to have the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals. Thus, eating dates found to offer some protection from colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers.
  • Zea-xanthin is an important dietary carotenoid that selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea, where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions. It thus offers protection against age-related macular degeneration, especially in elderly populations.
  • Dates are an excellent source of iron, contains 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits (about 11% of RDI). Iron, being a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood.
  • Further, they are very good in potassium. 100 g contains 696 mg or 16% of daily-recommended levels of this electrolyte. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help controlling heart rate and blood pressure. They, thus, offers protection against stroke and coronary heart diseases.
  • They are also rich in minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Calcium is an important mineral that is an essential constituent of bone and teeth, and required by the body for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve impulse conduction. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required for the production of red blood cells. Magnesium is essential for bone growth.
  • Further, the fruit has adequate levels of B-complex group of vitamins as well as vitamin K. It contains very good amounts of pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin. These vitamins are acting as cofactors help body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats. Vitamin K is essential for many coagulant factors in the blood as well as in bone metabolism.

I believe making this paste is worth a try.  It is inexpensive and as you can see is much more nutritionally loaded than white sugar and artificial sweeteners.  If you try it, let me know what you think.  I Love It!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

An Eagle's Nest

Yesterday I wrote about the Princeton Wisconsin Flea Market.  Across the street from the flea market is a large antique mall and next door was a restaurant/supper club.  It is out of business and for sale now, but here is the sign.  I believe that the restaurant was named after the large eagle's nest just down the street from this restaurant. I posted one of these photos on Facebook the other day, but I thought I would explain a little more about it.

Eagle perched in a tree outside our house

Princeton has the Fox River flowing through it.  The Fox River begins as a little stream near Pardeeville Wisconsin and flows north.  It flows through the towns of Princeton, Berlin and Omro and on until it meets up with the Wolf River on the northern part of Lake Winnebago.  It goes into Lake Butte de Morts and on to the Bay of Green Bay and then Lake Michigan.  The area along these rivers is a perfect habitat for eagles.  They have big trees to nest in and plenty of food from the river.

The Wolf River has several eagle cams where you can keep track of the eagles nesting. is the website.  This year one eagle's nest is being occupied by Bonnie and Clyde, a pair of Great Horned Owls.  They probably saw this big beautiful nest in a tall pine tree and decided it was easier to move in than build their own.

We live on the Fox River.  The first time we noticed a huge eagle's nest was when we took our canoe out on the river.  Just outside of Princeton we noticed a circling eagle and followed it to a nest in a large tree right on the edge of the river.  We haven't been on the river for a while to know if it is still active, but last year we noticed this one not too far from the first one.  This nest you can see from the street.  I took photos of the nest earlier this spring and then last week we saw an eagle sitting in the nest.

If you ever see a big nest like this through the woods, it's probably an eagle's nest.

We will be keeping an eye on this nest this summer and see if we can see young ones.