Saturday, June 30, 2012

Golden Birthday

My nephew is having this golden birthday this year, and I was telling someone about this recently and they asked, "What is a Golden Birthday?"

I thought EVERYBODY celebrated Golden Birthdays, but apparently not!

You're golden birthday is when you turn the age of your actual birth day. For instance, I was born on the 4th of September, so I had my golden birthday bash when I was 4. I don't remember anything else about being 4, in fact the only other early childhood memory I have is my first day of school when I was 6.

However, I do remember my Golden Birthday! I got the cutest white dress with tennis rackets on it.

Can you say 70's?

Then my grandparents bought me a white rocking chair. So I sat in it, and opened my presents, presiding
like a queen over my subjects..err..I mean family. :)

In other cultures, they call it your Lucky Birthday, Star Birthday, or Champagne Birthday. I sort of like the ring of Champagne Birthday, so I've decided I'm officially celebrating my golden birthday again, but this time when I turn 44!

Hope you're enjoying your summer!

Michelle Strombeck

Friday, June 29, 2012

You don’t see that every day

Galena, Illinois has some sites you just don’t see in every small town.

Like floodgates.

They were erected in the early 1950’s. Residents were sick of cleaning up messes left behind when the Galena River came streaming down Main Street and settled into their basements. The floodgates have been keeping out the unwanted attentions of the river through record-setting rainfalls for over half-a-century now.

Like the DeSoto House Hotel. Abraham Lincoln stayed here, and so did Stephen Douglas.

Guests are given real metal keys from a real wooden key box.

The DeSoto House is the only hotel I've even seen that, instead of adding stories, actually shaved off the top two and went from five floors to three.

 Like impromptu coffee shop concerts.

At night, after the shop shuts down, the musicians make music and leave doors wide open for passers-by to enjoy the jamming.

Like meeting rooms built into the sides of the hills,

doors that say ‘Welcome’ even when closed,

and a cat who adds enough local color to earn his weight in catnip any time he wants it.

Galena even does the stuff of ordinary towns well. Its parks, shops, restaurants and people would be worth visiting even without the floodgates, the DeSoto House, the concerts and hillside-supported meeting rooms.

If you go to Galena (and I think you should), please tell the cat in the green-shuttered house on the hill that The Prude says 'Howdy'.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Great Experiment

"There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments."
-  Janet Kilburn Phillips

I come from a long line of gardeners. Unfortunately,  the gardening gene has skipped my generation.

Before dinner, my grandmother often sent one of us girls to her garden patch to pick a cucumber. Thin slices of cucumbers with tomatoes or onions and  a sweet and sour dressing topped with loads of black pepper were the ingredients of her favorite salad. 

My father was an effortless gardener.  His Big Boy tomatoes were the envy of the neighborhood. These juicy tomatoes were so flavorful that we made tomato sandwiches. 

A prolific flower gardener, my father-in-law turned his tiny Chicago backyard into a thing of beauty that our grown children fondly remember.

Over the past thirty-nine years of marriage, from Chicago to St. Louis, my husband and I have made feeble attempts at vegetable gardening.  Each year, without fail, our garden was a disappointment. Not enough rain.  Too much rain.  Clay-like soil. Too much sun.  Too much shade.

 We couldn't get it right.

This year is different. We embarked on an experiment and our garden is flourishing.

Our daughter, Jenny, did get the gardening gene.  So, we joined with her to create a square foot vegetable garden. It took a lot of planning.

We spent a week monitoring the sun to shade ratio of a spot in her backyard.  We decided what vegetables we would plant making certain to include everyone's favorites.  Then, we plotted their arrangement on a diagram.  My husband purchased lumber and built squares that we filled with just the right soil. 

The last week of May, we planted.  Using a water meter, we are able to adjust our watering to meet the specific needs of each vegetable.  Weeding is a breeze.

I can't begin to tell you how thrilled we are to see the first grape tomatoes, tiny yellow flowers blossoming on the squash, zucchini and cucumber plants and  luxurious herbs that are waiting to be used at our tables. 

This is one experiment that was worth the risk! 

We have already used the basil for Salade Caprese, one of our favorite recipes from our years in France. 

Enjoy the pictures of our square foot garden and check out the recipe for Une Salade Caprese at my website.  click here

Perhaps, the gardening gene hasn't skipped me after all!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

God Moments with G-ma and Grace: Pictured Rocks National Seashore

by Sandra Heska King

It's not looking like we'll get a vacation this year. Except our annual visit home for the Alpenfest. I could be wrong. But just in case, I've gone back on my blog to revisit last year's memories saved in a series. I'm so glad that my words and my camera captured them. This post originally appeared back on August 17, 2011. I've tweaked it just a tad.


Today we are fascinated by small things.

A sense of history in an old lighthouse.

Shades of blue and green.

And white.

And the dance of light.

We marvel at a great blue heron standing at attention.

And the reflection of a spotted sandpiper.

And we agree that Michigan reflects our God at every turn.

Then Grace spies a cross.

Visible only to eyes prepared to see.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

January 1st: “My children and I will learn Modern Hebrew this year.”
June 26th: “My children and I will weekly eat one dozen bagels with lox.”

January 1st: “I will get the kids the pet they’ve always wanted.”
June 26th: “I will buy a collar and a leash for my chia plant.”

January 1st: “I will make only home-made yogurt from only organic ingredients.”
June 26th: “I will allow my children only two Gogurts in their mouth at a time.” 

January 1st: "I will take my children to a museum once a month."
June 26th: "I will show my kids where I ate super chili dogs in high school.”

January 1st: "I will make sure my children eat multi-grain fiber filled items at each meal."
June 26th: "I will store my bag of Krispy Kreme doughnuts next to a bottle of Metamucil.”

January 1st: "I will feature a Van Gogh each month on our coffee table."
June 26th: "I will fill up our Van at The Stop and Go.”

January 1st: "We will never eat food in the car in 2012."
June 26th: "We will quit using our gas grill in the car in 2012."

What New Year's Resolutions did you make and how are they measuring up in June?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Minneapolis Farmer's Market

You've seen them. The stands on the side of the roads, hawking corn on the cob or tomatoes. It's common. It's great produce. But it's nothing like the Minneapolis Farmer's Market.

The Minneapolis Farmer's Market has been in operation since 1876. At that time it was one of the few sources of fresh produce in the area. The market drew customers and vendors from up to 20 miles away--which was quite the jaunt in your horse and cart. That's when it was located on Hennepin Avenue, but since then it's moved to Lyndale Avenue.

Today they support about 230 vendors and people drive from at least 100 miles to attend each weekend. Why?

Because there's so much to see and do! This isn't just a stand on the corner with a few fruits and veggies in baskets. There's...

Sunglasses too keep the ol' squint lines from etching your face.

Tote bags to carry your load.
A balloon fella to make the kids (and you) smile.

Jewelry galore.


And yes, lots and lots of produce. The market is open every day from 6 a.m.-1 p.m. from mid-April to mid-November. This is a favorite haunt of the twin cities, so here's a little tip to beat the crowds...go on Friday morning. Heads up: parking can be tricky, especially on the weekends. Allow plenty of time to toodle around to find a spot. There are parking lots and street spots available, but they fill up fast. My suggestion? Again, go on Friday. And after a long day of shopping, if you're looking for some recipes to try out all those great fruits and veggies, they even offer that. Click here.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Letting Nature Take Its Course

The neighbor caught one and showed him to two siblings who willing came.

Several  weeks ago, I had the privilege of saving the lives of nine little ducks.  The darlings were running up and down the neighborhood in a panic searching for their mother.  My husband and our German Short Hair Pointer were the first to see them. Surprisingly the bird dog didn’t try to attack them. I’ve seen this behavior before, an adult is fair game, a baby engenders a protective instinct.  My husband put him away anyway and went to work.

He looked at my husband and said, "Are you my mother?"
The neighbors and I chased the brood up and down the drive, across the road, under his van, and around, and around, and around a tree. Eventually we corralled all nine. He took them down to the lake and left for work.
Three of us chased this one around and around the trunk of a tree.

About fifteen minutes later I went to see what happened. They clustered together and fought wind and choppy waters to paddle first one way then another. They caught sight of a swan sailing down the middle of the lake. Looked like momma to them, so off they headed. Soon they showed signs of distress. They moved uncertainly and were fatigued. One turned for shore, but when the rest didn’t follow he went back to the group.

There was no chance they could reach the swan which was fast disappearing. I didn’t think they would survive on the open lake. I quacked and they answered. After a few moments, they turned and headed straight for me, answering me every time I quacked. When they reached shore I quieted. After being chased earlier I thought they would rest in the brush along the waterline.

A few hours later, they were gone. I never saw sign of attack by cats or raccoons or other animals. I choose to believe they were reunited with their momma. I will never know. I did get a kick out of calling them in. I’ve always loved to mock animal sounds and delight any time I get a response.

Last week a friend and I were biking down a country road. A bull was on the opposite side of a fenced-in pasture. He was lovesick. I, of course, could not resist copying him. I don’t know what I said, but I think I made promises I couldn’t keep. He whipped his head around. Bellowed loudly and came at us in a dead run. Even with a fence between us, it gave our hearts a start. He continued to call until we were out of sight. I think I'll stick to calling ducks. It's safer.

Mary Allen hopes her calling as a writer is more successful than her calling of birds, ducks, geese, or bulls. She is currently working on women's fiction and a book of poems, Journey to Christmas. She is a featured poet at La Porte Arts concerts in the Park throughout the summer before audiences ranging between 500-900 people. Have a safe 4th of July and chat with you next month.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Laundry

The Laundry by Lori Lipsky

He says he loves to do laundry
and she has seen him do it before

I’d like to tell her to scoop him up
before he gets away

A family makes a lot of laundry
I would like to say

But I keep quiet because I know that
marriage is more than laundry

But I give it some thought as I pair up the socks,

then carry the basket to put away another load.


Every marriage and family has their own division of labor. Washing, drying and folding clothes provides a regular reminder to be grateful for clothing and the luxury of owning a washer and dryer, but I confess that when it comes time to pair up the socks or put the laundry away, my gratitude has lost itself more than once or twice.

Who does the laundry in your household?

Lori Lipsky, Poetry Patio
photo credit: Anita Klumpers (The Prude), The Prude Disapproves

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blooming Babies

What can I say? I love babies!
Babies are beautiful.
Every time I'm with friends I get to see pictures of their grandbabies and I oooh and ah because really, that's what you do over babies. Whether they're yours or not.

So, since I don't have any babies in my house, thank goodness!!
And since I don't have any grandbabies yet, thank goodness!!
Today I have pictures of my yard babies...

Across the road, in the orchard, we have baby peaches.

And baby apples...

In the garden are baby summer squash. Cannot wait for these guys to ripen--makes my mouth water just watching them grow!! Sauted in butter... oh yumz!!

And baby zucchinis.
Only half a million so far.
Not bad.  ;-)

And these guys? These are heirloom Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes. Heirloom plants that I can save the seed from (this fall) and then replant real early next spring. They're named Mortgage Lifters because it's fabled that you can sell the excess and the proceeds with lift your mortgage. If only that were true...  But they sure are cuties!! (I'll keep you posted about the yield.)

Baby peppers. These lil nubbins are the cutest at this age...

Okay, so this one isn't from my yard. It's the baby field corn that I'm watching grow on my morning walks...

This is probably my husband's favorite: baby burpless cukes!! So fuzzy and adorable!

The whole family is watching these guys grow. Pickling cukes. Yes, they mean work later on, but when that work translates into pickles, no one groans too loudly.


They don't remember what it's like making pickles, but they'll soon learn. *grin* It'll make them appreciate good pickles that much more!!  :-)

So tell me, what are your favorite yard babies?

Finding the Extraordinary God in our Ordinary Lives


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

  © Blogger template Simple n' Sweet by 2009 Design expanded and personalized by 2011.

Back to TOP