Saturday, December 14, 2013

Happy Birthday Mike

Today is my husband's birthday.  He should have gotten a gift that is fun, but instead he got a practical gift.  At least we will call it a gift because we needed to buy this item anyway.  You know the term, killing two birds with one stone.  Last winter our snowblower was still working well.  It moved a lot of snow from our various snowstorms, but it must have worked itself to death.

This year it just wouldn't start.  At least once a year it would need to be in the shop for repair.  We thought it was time to get something dependable.  We haven't had enough snow so far this winter to use a snow blower, but that is just a matter of time. 

So Happy Birthday Mike.  Enjoy your special gift.

Trying out his new snow blower.  It looks like he is blowing leaves instead of snow.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Happy Birthday To My Sister

Today is December 12th.  It is my little sister's birthday.  She is three years younger than I am.  That is a big difference when a person is young.  We are four grades apart because I was one of the youngest in my class and being born in December she had to wait until she was five to start school.  She was also little and I was big.  They used to call her PeeWee.  Despite the size and age difference, our mother thought we were twins.  She dressed us alike until I needed big girl clothes and my sister was still in children's sizes.

It all started when I was four and my sister was one.  She started to dress us alike.

Carol Dux, Mark Anding, Me, Janice and Uncle Jeff Dux.  Yes Jeff is my uncle even though he is younger than me.

Then a year later they made us sit on a rug on the front porch.  Notice the snow.  This must have been the next year's Christmas photo.  Mom always told me not to sit on cold concrete or I would get hemorrhoids.  That's probably the reason for the rug.

Barbara age 5, Janice age 2

I think the next picture was taken in the same year.  The porch is the same and so is my same horrible hairdo.  No wonder I wet my pants everyday so I would be sent home from kindergarten. Maybe my hair was my embarrassment and not that I was shy.  My sister and I are dressed alike though. 

I was getting a belly even at age 5.

Then it was Christmas of 1954.  My mom's best friend had made us Christmas stockings.  I still have the stocking and have copied the pattern many times.  See our matching pajamas as well as the matching stockings.

Mom continued the trend of dressing us alike.  This next photo was taken at Christmas of 1955.  My sister had just turned five and I was eight.  It looks like we even have matching pajamas again.  Pin curls and a turban to keep them in place.  Geez, I hope my hair turns out as lovely as it usually does.  Good grief mom, what were you thinking.  I do like the Christmas tree.  All those individual icicles all over the tree.

Christmas 1955.

1957 when we first moved to Stoughton Wisconsin.

The matching theme continued.  We have matching winter coats in this picture.   This was the winter of 1958.  That year our dad flooded a skating rink in the backyard.  Often after school we would go outside and skate.  Those were the days when kids played outside and entertained themselves without electronics.  We barely watched television.  I remember television stations only broadcasted a few hours everyday, not 24/7 like it is today.

Posing with our matching coats and ice skates.

The next summer I was eleven and my sister was eight.  We are still dressed alike.  I could bore you with many more examples, but I won't.  Mom ordered from the Montgomery Ward catalog, and she ordered the same outfits in different sizes as long as she could.

Happy Birthday little sister.  I hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Coyote In The Neighborhood

Last weekend we finally got some snow.  We got about two inches, but it was enough to see the animal tracks.  I noticed some unusual tracks out on the frozen ice.  The deer make a trail, so I knew it wasn't deer tracks.  The small animals have their own distinct little tracks. I thought perhaps a dog had been walking around.

Many different tracks in the snow.

Every morning when I get up I scan the horizon to see what I can see.  I was surprised.  At first I didn't know what I was seeing.  We have seen fox in the area so at first that is what I thought I saw.  Then as I looked closer, it was too big for a fox.  Maybe it was a wolf.  It started coming closer, and it turned out to be a coyote.  Thank goodness I don't have chickens or pet rabbits because they wouldn't have a chance with this animal.  He stayed for quite a while and I was able to get some photos from our dining room window.

Here he comes.

Even though he's a predator, he certainly is a beautiful animal.

 Later in the afternoon, he returned.  It looked like he was nosing around the area where the beaver or the muskrats live.  I didn't see him find anything and later saw him walking away.  I don't know if he got separated from his pack or if there are more in the area.  I love living where I do, you never know what you will see.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Yellow Split Pea Soup

My Tuesday recipe for today is one that I found in my recipe box and then improvised a little.  A few days ago I wrote a blog about making homemade Christmas ornaments.

I used dried yellow split peas for the ornament.  As I was putting the bag of peas back into the cupboard, I thought that I should use some of the peas to make some soup.  I bought the yellow split peas because I thought the soup might look more appetizing than the green.  There is something about green pea soup that those from my generation find a little distasteful.  I think it stems from seeing the movie "The Exorcist" many years ago.

The original recipe called for chicken broth but I had a big ham bone in the freezer since last Christmas.  We were given a huge ham last year.  It was delicious, but when we had enough, I froze the big bone with some meat attached.  I had intended to make something from it sooner, but I actually forgot about it.  I took it out of the freezer and put it in a big pot of water.  I simmered it for a while get the flavor into the stock.  Then I followed the recipe substituting the ham broth for the chicken broth.  I also cooked it in the pressure cooker for only 15 minutes instead of cooking on the stove for an hour.

Yellow Split Pea Soup

2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced

Melt the butter in a large stock pot.  Cook the onion, celery and carrots until they are soft.

Then add:
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
some salt and pepper to taste
8 cups of chicken stock (I used the ham stock)
2 cups of dried yellow split peas
2 potatoes, diced
Add some cubed ham if you like, but it isn't necessary. (I used the excess that was still attached to the
 ham bone)

Then simmer for an hour in the stock pot or 15 minutes on high in the pressure cooker.
The recipe says you should blend everything together after it is cooked but I just left it as is.  The split peas cook until they are smooth, and I like the other vegetables in the soup still in tact. 

In case you don't remember my pressure cooker, it is digital and I use it whenever I can.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Dad And His Lucky Sweatshirts

My dad is pretty sharp for his age (89).  He remembers things I can't.  I want to say that he doesn't have as much to keep track of, but I think he just "gets it".  Because of his poor eyesight, he listens and pays attention.  Then he retains the information.  More than once he has had to explain foreign policy to me or the impact of a sports injury on a team.  My mind tends to wander when I watch the news or sports.  Last winter, my sister gave him a Michigan State sweatshirt.  They live in Michigan and are huge sport fans.  He is a Wisconsin fan, but when they are out of the picture he will root for Michigan.  Last Saturday Michigan State played Ohio State in football.  We had gone to the grocery store, and when we returned dad was sitting in his chair with his good luck Spartans sweatshirt on waiting for the game to start.

I guess it worked because Michigan State won the game and is going to the Rose Bowl this year.  We will see if the luck holds on New Years Day.  The next game he watched was the Green Bay Packers.  When he got dressed on Sunday, he put his Green Bay sweatshirt on.


The Packers also managed a win, so it must be the magic in the sweatshirts.  You can bet he will be wearing the appropriate sweatshirt every game day from now on.  That theory will disappear if or when his teams lose, but it's fun to think about.  Right now, he is waiting for the Mike McCarthy show to come on.  Between meals, snacking, his audiobooks and some TV shows, he is always busy and that's a good thing.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

One Year Of Blogging

A year ago I started writing this blog.  In a year I have written 311 blogs.  I can't believe I found that much to write about.  I don't know if I will have as much to say during the next year, but you never know.  One of my first blogs was written about the snows of December 8, 2012.

It was a little different this morning from a year ago.  No snow at all.  We haven't had enough to shovel yet this year, but it is very very cold.  Tonight they predict some snow so maybe by morning it will look more like winter than it did this morning.

December 8, 2013 looks more like fall than winter.