Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday Morning Fun

Today was so much like fall.  Well, I guess tomorrow it is official.  I always thought fall began on September 21, but this year the equinox brings autumn on September 22, 2013 at 3:44 PM CST.  They say the equinox is where the heat of summer meets the cool of fall.  I guess that's true.  The hot temperatures moderated today, and it is actually chilly.  I love the cool.  It's like oxygen is being pumped into my lungs instead of breathing hot, humid, stale air but some like hot weather so to each his own.

The pine straw is covering the ground.

The first thing we did this morning is attend our grandson Dylan's cross country meet.  It's exciting to walk across the wet grass of the golf course early in the morning with hundreds of parents and kids.  Everyone gathers in anticipation of the run.  The starting gun goes off.  We try to keep up following the crowd along the route until it finally finishes 10-20 minutes later.  Then everyone leaves.  It's kind of like a flash mob.

Get Ready, Get Set, GO

It's done, Dylan did a great job.

Afterward we went to breakfast with our daughter and her husband, and grandsons Ewan and Dylan.  I had already gotten my dad set up before we left with his oatmeal/raisins/cinnamon and toast, so he was good for a couple hours.  Then we picked up another grandson, Sam.  We all went to the Farm Market.  The Farm Market in the fall is so pretty.  There are pumpkins and gourds everywhere.  We bought a few things.  They had freshly picked raspberries for sale.  We also got garlic, kohlrabi, a pie pumpkin and another large pumpkin for Sam.  It was great.

This Farm Market has been in business for many years.

Just a little building full of fresh produce.

This Farm Market  is located on State Highway 73 right outside of Princeton, Wisconsin.  It was so dry this year that it wasn't a very good year for pumpkins, but it looked like a lot  of nice ones to me.

Can I have this one please?

It's so hard to decide.

The boys finally settled on the pumpkin they wanted.  We were told to wash them really good with anti-bacterial soap and dry them well.  They will last a long time, although they shouldn't be carved for quite a while.  Then we went home.  We packed a lot of memories in three hours.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Smartholder

Many years ago when we added on to our house, they built the room without window openings.  Then after it was attached, they cut out all the window openings with a chain saw. 

For years the logs have been stored under a tarp.  The woodchuck lived under there for a while.

The tarp was getting to be an eyesore, so this summer my husband decided to look under the tarp.  He thought that whatever we were saving the logs for, probably wasn't going to happen.  When he took the tarp off and inspected the logs, some had begun to rot.   Besides the woodchuck, a snake was also living in the logs.

Some of the logs were bad as you can see, but there was some good wood.  Rather than save the logs for an unknown project, he decided to cut it up for firewood.  He has another gadget great for this.  In the past, I had to help by holding the end of the log.  The Smartholder holds the log in place while it is being sawed up.

Pick up the log.

Place in the Smartholder.

Start sawing in lengths.

Quick and easy.

The only piece left is the one in the smartholder.

Split the wood.

And stack it.

There was more wood there than he thought.  The only problem was that when this job was all finished, we saw a Facebook post on how to build a cord wood shed.  I think the unsplit logs would have been perfect for such a project.  Oh well,  maybe next time.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Our View is Always Changing

Tonight we finally got some rain.  We hadn't had any for several weeks.  Tonight we got .8"  in 15 minutes.  We were on the road at the time and could barely go 35 mph.  It was coming down in buckets.  It is still raining lightly.  This probably won't do anything to change our view, but I thought I would post some comparison photos.  The landscape was flooded on May 22, 2013 and dried up by July.  I don't know how it can be flooded and then be full of blooming wild flowers.  Nature is always changing and quite amazing.  The geese are spending a lot of time in the remaining water as well as the sandhill cranes.

In May of 2013 this area was flooded.

This is the same view taken today.  All that is left is a stream and small pond.  Yellow flowers cover the landscape.

Another view from the deck last May.  Water everywhere.

Today there is just grass and bushes.  A great habitat for wildlife and birds.

This is really pretty and every year the landscape changes slightly.  We are so fortunate.  I can't imagine what the people living through all the natural disasters are going through.  Enjoy each day.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Geocaching in Neshkoro Wisconsin

We haven't been out geocaching ( or written about it for a long time so this week when an interesting one came up close to home, we decided to try it.  Neshkoro, Wisconsin is a small town about eight miles north of us.  As with all these little towns, they have a rich history.  The towns were usually formed on a rail line and a river or a water source.  They usually had a foundry,  harness shop, meat market and mercantile shop, woolen mill, hotels and diners.  There is usually an old grist mill on a stream where the farmers would come to get their grain ground into flour.  It reminds me of the story the Little Red Hen (  A little known fact is that I played the Little Red Hen when I was in second grade.  I had the starring role in the performance at the Neillsville Wisconsin armory.  The armory isn't standing anymore and some days I have a little trouble standing myself (kidding).   I still remember the song, "cluck cluck cluck cadakit said the little hen, see my little yellow chickens eight, nine, ten".    I can remember that, but don't ask me today's date.

Back to my geocache story.  As I mentioned, Neshkoro has an interesting history.  To depict it, the town has several murals painted along the downtown area.  This geocache brings you through the GPS coordinates to each mural.  From the picture, you have to answer questions.  Then with the numbers collected and put into the formula, a final coordinate is reached.  The murals were very interesting and even though I had seen them many times, we had never stopped to look at them in detail.  For those who geocache, some of the questions can be answered through these photos but not all.

Fourth of July celebration is celebrated very differently today.

 It is hard to imagine this town so busy, now it is a very small quiet place.

The old mill which is a coffee shop now.

Tribute to the public schools.

Modern day activities in this town.

The town today is very quiet.  It has a gas station, a bar, a grocery store, a few specialty businesses and a post office but most of the businesses and industries are long gone.  A very similar story to a lot of little towns throughout the country.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Peanut Butter Cake

My husband started his teaching career in January of 1969.  He began teaching in elementary school, but most of his career was teaching math and science in middle school.  Back then the schools had kitchens.  They had cooks which cooked the school lunches mostly from scratch.  Later the lunches were cooked in a central kitchen and brought to the individual schools.  One of his favorite things was the Peanut Butter Cake they often had for dessert.  I had never made or eaten a peanut butter cake.  One day he got the recipe, and I still make it every so often. He likes it with chocolate frosting, but today I didn't have any cocoa so I had to make peanut butter frosting.  It wasn't my best effort for some reason.  I used natural peanut butter, and I don't think that was the best but it's all I had.  Then I overbaked the cake a little.  The timer on my stove has a very quiet beep, and I didn't hear it right away.  It's a good thing Mike and Dad will eat anything sweet.  If not, the birds will love it.

Peanut Butter Cake

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 and 1/4 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 and 1/4 cups sour milk (milk can be soured by adding 2 T. lemon juice or vinegar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter and peanut butter.  Gradually add the sugar and mix until light and fluffy.
Beat in eggs.  Sift together the dry ingredients and add alternately with the sour milk.  Add vanilla.  Pour into greased 9 by 13 inch pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

Frost with either Chocolate Frosting or Peanut Butter Frosting

Peanut Butter Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup milk or cream

Mix powdered sugar, butter and peanut butter in bowl.  Stir in vanilla and milk.  Beat until smooth. 

Chocolate Frosting

3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 stick butter, softened
3 - 4 tablespoons milk (best with evaporated milk or heavy cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Cream butter and add powdered sugar and cocoa with milk.  Add vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Young Rose Breasted Grosbeaks and Cardinals are Becoming Adults

It has been a fun day.  We are watching all the young birds at the feeders.  They are as big as their parents now and just beginning to get their adult colors.  There are a lot of Rose Breasted Grosbeaks.  They will be leaving soon, but right now they are eating a lot.

Adult Male Rose Breasted Grosbeak

The male Rose Breasted Grosbeak is a bright black and white bird with a brilliant red breast.  The young one in the photo below is looking pretty bedraggled.  He is just starting to get his adult colors.

Young male rose breasted grosbeak.

A few days later I saw him on the birdfeeder.  He is looking a lot better.  Soon he will look just like his dad.

As with a lot of species, the females look much different.  The Rose Breasted Grosbeak female is shades of brown.  It is really hard to tell the difference between the female adult and the juveniles.  We had one hit the window the other day but she was just stunned and flew off eventually.

This one hit the window but fortunately she survived.

Female Rose Breasted Grosbeak

We also have many young cardinals.  It is hard to tell which are male and females at this stage.

I'm not sure if this is a male or female.  It does look like this adult female shown below.

Adult Female Cardinal

These young birds don't have red beaks yet.

Everyday they change a little bit.  The Grosbeaks will migrate but the cardinals will not.  We get to enjoy them all year long.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Trick For No More Boil Overs

I don't have much to say today.  We went shopping for a new fire pit, but we came home empty handed.  There aren't many left at this time of the year, and the ones I saw I didn't really like.  Oh well, it was one of those things we don't really need.  One I like will turn up some day.  This week I had some long blogs with a lot photos of the Highground Veterans Memorial and yesterday with the Whooping Crane blog, so today I'll make this short.  

I just have a couple helpful hints that I haven't mentioned.  This past June when my sister visited,  she gave be a very useful tip.  It was something that most of you may know, but I didn't.  She said while boiling something on the stove and to avoid potatoes or pasta from boiling over all over the stovetop, all you do is place a wooden spoon over the kettle.  It won't boil over.  I didn't really believe it, but it works.  I do it everytime and have never had a boil over since.

Here I'm boiling some noodles and they didn't boil over.

The other thing I wanted to mention is about making Grilled Cheese.  I think everyone makes grilled cheese the same.  We may call it something else.  When I run into people from other areas they often call it Toasted Cheese.  It's kind of like Bubbler and Water Fountain or Soda and Pop.  Most people butter the outside of the bread, put cheese inside and grill.  I learned that using Mayo instead of butter works just as well.  It adds a little flavor and is lower in fat.  I know it's cheese so what difference does a little less fat make.  It probably makes no difference, but I like it because sometimes all you have is hard butter.  The mayo is always soft and spreadable.

Grilled or Toasted Cheese sandwich.

That's all for now.  The Green Bay Packers won their season opener at home, so my household is a happy one.  We also got some rain.  We had almost 3/4 of an inch, which is more than we have had in a couple months.  We needed it so badly.