Friday, December 21, 2012

It looks a lot like Christmas

Mom painted the bell ornament.  The blue and pink ones are from my Grandma H's tree.  Each grand kid had one.  Mine was the blue and my sister, Sarah's was the pink.  Or maybe it was the other way around.  Sarah died when she was 4 and after Grandma died I was given both ornaments.      

Slightly different arrangement on the Butler's tray table this year.  Most of my pictures were taken last year but I really have not changed things much.
New candy this year but same dish. 
I cover the coffee table arrangement so it does not get dusty and have reused it for the third time.

Warren gave me the snowman and snowlady a few years ago.  

Santas - all hand painted by Vaillancourt. 

My two Swedish items.  They were given to me by the relatives when they visited years ago.  I will never burn the candles as they are so close to the wood.  I break the candles from time to time so the box they also gave to me slowly empties.

How it looks today.  I still have a couple of gifts to wrap.  I wrap most of the gifts sitting on the floor while watching TV.  I am hoping the last two orders will be delivered today as the family get together is tomorrow. 

Last a view out of one of the eating area windows.  They are still mostly covered with snow.  I will knock the snow off when I go out to feed the birds.     

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Busy or Lazy

It has been ages since I have written anything. No real reason but...............
I have accomplished a few tasks on the "to do list".  Every year or so the front door needs a repainting.  This year both the front and back doors are sporting a different color.  The paint went from a dark red to a orangeish brick color.  I like it even if it was not the exact color I was wanting.  We took out the overgrown evergreen bush by the front door and replaced it with a burning bush.  I love the color in the fall look.  As almost all our bushes seem to grow well we went with a smaller planting. 

We did something we should have done a long time ago and planted an apple tree.
We are looking forward to someday having some Honey Crisp apples to harvest.
One of our trees out front got sun scald and fell over this spring.  It was replaced with this lovely red Autumn Blaze Maple.  We planted a tree for each of our grand kids.  Kelsey's and Sage's trees have done well but this is the second we planted for Sam.  Hannah's tree has been replaced 6 times.  Her tree is now doing well.  This last time we planted a slender oak.  It is three years old so we are hopeful it grows and thrives for many years. 
I enjoyed watching Hannah run cross country this season.  She usually placed third on her team.  Running to keep in shape is her main goal.  Soccer is the sport she loves the most.
One weekend when Kelsey was home from college she harvested the honey from the hive.  This year it looks like she will have around 100 pounds.  Last year was about half that so we think the bee hive is a success.  She did get rid of her chickens before she went off to school.  No one wanted the responsibility and the egg production had dropped off to the point of needing new hens.  I miss the fresh eggs but not cleaning them. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Mediterranean Chicken

I tried this recipe tonight.  We have lots of small tomatoes in our garden so when I saw this on the blog classic casual home I figured it was worth a try.  We both liked it.  It is a bit different recipe for us and it will be one to add to our keeper list.

Saturday night we had friends over, and if I do say so myself, our meal turned out well.  My friend brought a wonderful dessert made with a blackberry wine.  Warren smoked a pork loin and I  made the rest of the meal except Matt had made some of his great focaccia bread that afternoon that he kindly shared with us. We dipped the bread in reconstituted sweet tomatoes and spices my sister and her hubby had brought back from Italy.

The potatoes I made are some we like but had not done in a while.  The grocery store had new red potatoes.

3/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs - some of my bread was the crust on Panera's three cheese bread
1/4 cup or one on finely grated Romano cheese - I used Parmesan
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano - I had some that was picked from my garden about a week ago
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1 garlic clove minced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
24 small red potatoes - 3 pounds - washed and cut into chunks

Combine the first 8 ingredients in bowl and set aside.  Combine the oil and potatoes in a zip lock bag, seal, and shake.  Toss the bread crumbs mixture in the bag and mix some more.  Place on a sprayed jelly roll pan and bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.  The left overs warm up well.

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Bit of Summer

We had Samantha and Sage here for a couple of fun days.

Samantha and her Aunt Malissa made some decadent cupcakes. 
They rivaled any you can buy at a fancy cupcake shoppe.

There was a lot of cousin time and when we were outside
the dogs often got in on the activity.

When we returned the kids on Saturday evening I made
them pose by their front door.
One thing we do not have enough of is pictures of all four of us when
our kids were growing up.  I thought it was time to take another one of our son and
his lovely family.  Their new puppy, Pretzel, made it into the photo too.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

From what I could find out the picture was taken in July of 1918 at Camp Dodge, Iowa.  It was taken by Englishman Arthur S Mole and American John D Thomas.

"Arthur's great nephew Joseph Mole, 70, says: "In the picture of the Statue of Liberty there are 18,000 men: 12,000 of them in the torch alone, but just 17 at the base. The men at the top of the picture are actually half a mile away from the men at the bottom"."

From the Columbus Telegraph I found this: "Beth Johnson of Columbus brought in a photo of a “Human Statue of Liberty” that her father Cory Hartford was part of when it was taken.
Sharing it with you seemed appropriate on this Memorial Day weekend. The following information about the photo came from the Iowa National Guard:
Eighteen thousand soldiers of the Camp Dodge, 163rd Depot Brigade formed the silhouette of the Statue of Liberty for the renowned shot by Chicago, Ill., photographers Mole and Thomas on Aug. 22, 1918, at 2:30 p.m. Col. William Newman, commander of the 163rd Depot Brigade selected the statue of liberty as the formation for the brigade picture.
Beginning at 1 p.m. companies were assembled and by 2:30 p.m. the proper formation was completed and the photograph taken. The ground was marked out by blocks, in the shape of the statue, which facilitated getting the soldiers into correct formation. From the goddess’ feet to the tip of the torch the symbolical statue measured 400 yards. The picture was taken from a tower 40-feet high, constructed for the occasion. On account of the mass formation and the heat, 12 men fainted and were carried from the field. The high temperature reported for the day was 92 degrees.
The photograph was taken with an 11x14 view camera following several day’s worth of work by the photographers to set up the image on the ground using thousands of yards of white tape. In addition, substantial coordination was required between the photographers and Col. Newman’s staff to ensure the various folds of the gown, the bible, the left hand, and the crown was properly outlined by soldiers wearing white shirts.
The design for the living picture was laid out on the drill ground at Camp Dodge, west of current building S 34 and Maintenance Road. The large photographs were on sale for $1 at all the exchanges in the camp.
The layout at the reported 400 yards was nearly four times the length of the actual Statue of Liberty and the viewer will note that the correct perspective is maintained. The number of men in the various parts include: flame of torch, 12,000 men; torch, 2,800 men; right arm, 1,200 men; body, head and balance of figure, 2,000 men.
This photo and others can be seen at the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, which is open six days a week, Monday through Saturday from 830 to 1630 hours (closed holidays and holiday weekends). The museum is located at Camp Dodge near Johnston, Iowa, just off I35/80. For more information, please contact the curator at (515) 252-4531 or email the"

Read more:

Saturday, May 5, 2012

May 2, 2012

Spring is always a busy time on the farm.  Kelsey graduates this year and we put a couple of extra projects on the agenda.  Matt tour out and is making a new front porch railing, the girls have repainted the white picket fence around their yard, they repainted the garage last weekend, I have help restyle some small areas in their home, and we have been doing all the usual spring yard work that comes with a 10 acre, two family farmstead.

Early Wednesday morning about 2:45 came an immense change to our lives.

No one was hurt. 

High winds or a mini tornado took most of the roof off of a sow gestation building.

360 sows normally call this building home.

By 11:30 a fabulous group of family and friends had the tin and 2 x 4's cleaned up.  Two wonderful friends helped Kelsy and I put lunch out for the 9 men helping Warren with clean up.  Matt and our herdsman, Doug spent the morning feeding the sows by hand and figuring out which one to move off the place and which ones could be housed and moved to other spots on our farm.  This meant that all our sows except the ones in the farrow house would be crowded. 

Note to my non hog producers readers:  Sows fight and sometimes kill each other when penned together.  Some will hog the feed and water so that the less aggressive ones come out weaken.  Also the fighting can cause abortions. 

In the afternoon 3 trailers and men hauled the livestock to a temporary location.  My brother spent the morning getting the building ready and took charge of the unloading at that location. 

The window in the office was broken.
Glass was blown all over the room.

A 2 x 4 went through the wall of the house. 
It came to reside between the bed and night stand in the master bedroom.

Malissa almost always has her car in the garage at night.  In addition to this dent the back window was demolished.  All four of their cars were out that night as Matt was using the garage in the shop for his railing project and they had not got the garage put back together from the weekend painting project.  Really lucky that only one of four was damaged.

A crew will begin on rebuilding the gestation building on Monday.  Work will begin on the house then also. 

Kelsy was heard to express great sorrow at seeing her recently painted fence is badly damaged.  But at the end of the day some of normal had been restored. 

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Photo by Hannah

During the winter this is the way my outside potting bench looks.  Today it is empty of wood and ready for the pots that will sit on it in the summer.  The bench is 12 years old and is showing its age.  I am thinking of getting a new one as the wood is starting to show a lot of age (aka starting to rot).  Most likely it will take a year or two to make the purchase.  I work slowly on non essential items. 

The plans are in the making for a new unit for a larger TV.  The first estimate came in way above what I want to spend.  Time to go back to the drawing board, look it other vendors, and do a bit more thinking.  No time frame for this project either.  Hubs thinks a bigger TV would be nice for football watching as we can not always see the whole score information when they put it in the upper left hand corner. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sonoma Valley Wine Country

We stayed at a most relaxing place in Sonoma, CA recently. It is a B & B with 5 rooms and one small cottage.  We were slated for the cottage but as they had recently painted the rooms we opted for a room in the main house.  I think we were more pleased with that room then we would have been in the cottage.  A large porch runs around the front and sides of the old bunk house building.  From the second floor the view of the gardens makes a fun place to sit, relax and have a glass of wine.

We were the only ones staying there so the place was our own private get a way.  All the staff said it was very unusual to have the ranch so unbusy.  We were greeted with fresh baked cookies and coffee or tea.  The ranch does a lot of small weddings during the year.  I did not take a picture of the grassy area used for weddings and events.  It would be a lovely place for such an event.

The flowers on the breakfast table were from their cutting garden.  A good breakfast was served both mornings...well except I do not like poached eggs............the cook offered to make me a different egg but as the breakfast was plenty I declined.  

Our room had antique furniture and a sitting area.  We both thought the bathroom had not be updated since the B & B was opened in 1981.  It was certainly clean but I wanted to use the space a bit more wisely and give it a remodel. 

Warren enjoyed a cup of coffee and reading the paper in the morning before we ate our hearty breakfast each day.  This room has a homey ranch look to it and was only heated by a fireplace. 

Guests were welcome to walk the paths and country roads around the ranch.  This picture tells the story of tractors abandoned in a vineyard.

I could not resist taking a picture of this electric pole riddled with holes.  It has been patched and almost looked like a piece of art.

 Beltane Ranch was a grand place to relax and be our home headquarters for a couple of days visiting wineries in the Sonoma and Napa Valley region. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Wine Country

Warren and I spent two relaxing days in California Wine Country before we headed to see Stacey, Rhett, Samantha and Sage. 

I wonder if Warren will let me use this for his Facebook photo???

Our wine from here has arrived.  I think it is party time. :)  We brought 6 bottles of wine and one jar of olive oil home in our suitcases.  They delivered a case and a half today so I think we are set until our next trip out west.  This winery had some wonderful cheeses but we were only able to buy a couple to share with the Californians. 

Outing with the Four Monkeys

We spent some time at Sutter Creek and then headed to California Cavern State Historical Landmark.  I never told anyone that I was not really gun ho on descending into a hole in the ground.  But all and all it was a good experience.  The kids are great about exploring new and different things in nature and this is one more good adventure. 

 The Six Adventures!!!

Inside the cave.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

California Trip

We just returned with spending some time in California.  Most of it was spent with our son and his family.  This is our first trip to see them since they returned to the states. 

Stacey picked up us at the car rental place on Friday.  We were at the school to greet the kids when they got out early. 

We were as happy to see the kids as they were to see us.
It was grand to see Stacey and Rhett also. 

Something is wrong with this program so I will load more pictures later. 

Friday, February 3, 2012


On a trip to town this past Monday, as I drove by the creek there were two mature eagles flying and then perched in a tree. I did not have my cell phone so I could not even attempt to take a picture. They were lovely to look at and watch fly. Sighting them is not that unheard of but they most likely are just passing through.