If time is short, and the book is long . . .

August 31, 2009

 

. . . and you have a deadline to get it read, like a book club meeting, you may need to resort to this “formula” I was recently given for an abbreviated read of a book.

1.  Read the first and last chapters.

2.  Figure out how many pages are in between.

3.  Divide those pages by the number of days you have until you need to have the book read.  (I would vary this a little to make each day begin at the beginning of a chapter.  It seems like the beginnings of  chapters tend to do some summarizing and also tend to provide key information.)

4.  Each day, no matter if you were able to entirely finish the pages “assigned” to the previous day or not, start on the first page for that day and read as many of that day’s pages as you can.

If you do that each day, when you arrive at the day you should have the book read, you may not have read every page of the book, but you will have a pretty good feel for the essence of the book.

Of course, this is certainly not the way to “savor” a book, but, especially when you belong to a book club, I can picture it being a tool that might come in handy sometime!

Now, excuse me, I have to get back to reading — book club is in two days!


I believe in the power of prayer!

August 30, 2009

 

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In just our close family we have had two very serious surgeries recently for brain tumors.

Jon, the beloved husband of our niece Julie, had surgery to remove a benign brain tumor a month ago, and now has had to have another extensive surgery last week because of infection. 

And two weeks ago, Cooper, the beautiful, energetic  two year old son of our nephew Justin, was found to have a tumor at the base of his skull.  He had 10 hours of surgery to remove it and while it was cancerous it appears they got it all.

I am very thankful that both Jon and Cooper are in large metropolitan areas where there are many doctors and medical facilities at their disposal.  But, I (and they) also know that prayer is the most powerful medicine of all.

So, on this Sunday, I ask you to include our loved ones, Jon and Cooper, in your prayers.

Thank you, friends.


A perfect gift for Mama, a lover of books

August 28, 2009

 

When Mama was a little girl she had very few possessions, partially because her family was very poor, but also due to the fact that  they “traveled light” because they moved so often.  From a very young age, she loved reading books and at times would have a few for a while, but for one reason or another, she was never really able to accumulate any books that she could call her own. 

So, as an adult, Mama had a very special love of books … both to read (she was an avid reader) and to just own.

Considering Mama’s history with books, imagine what a wonderful gift this was that she received at Christmas, 1979.

Mama and Her Bookx   Mama, the author!

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My sister, Jean Marie, had secretly taken Mama’s memories that she had written down in notebooks over many years, typed them for months (this was truly an act of love because Jean and her husband owned their own company, so she normally felt wayyy past typing things herself) and then had them bound into a book that she titled I Remember .

Mama received a big heavy package from Jean a few weeks before Christmas and, per Jean’s instructions, I talked her into opening it when it arrived, rather than wait until Christmas morning.  It shows how curious she was about the gift (and my obvious excitement) that she broke one of her own very strict rules that Christmas gifts not be opened before Christmas morning! 

So, when she agreed to open it, I took her ever-present camera (because I KNEW she would want a picture) and made sure I caught her excitement when she realized what the gift was.  I am so glad I got to be there when she opened it.  She was elated!  Just before I took this picture, she was saying, “I’m an author!  I’m an author!”

Jean had given Mama enough copies so that she could give one to each of her children and grandchildren.  Mama faithfully wrote a personal dedication in the front of each of the copies and, because Jean had given them to her early, she was able to give them to everyone that Christmas!

 Truly one of the best gifts Jean could have possibly given to Mama, a lover of not just books, but also of family and family history.


Not exactly Buy One, Get One Free …

August 27, 2009

 

. . . more accurately, If You Ask for One Recipe, I Might Give You Another One Too.  (because that’s just the way my mind works!)

When I had the reunion committee here last week for dinner and a wrap-up meeting, I served Chinese Cabbage Salad and several of the committee members asked for the recipe, so they are watching for it here.  But, in addition to the salad recipe, I thought I’d give you my turkey meat loaf recipe too, because that is what I served with the salad yesterday … at lunch … for just Hubby and me. 

I know, you’re saying … at lunch? … for just the two of you?!  Wellll, yes and here’s why.  I wanted pictures to put with the recipe, and Hubby had golf yesterday afternoon and wouldn’t be home for dinner … so we had our big meal at lunch so that I could take pictures.  The sacrifices we make for this blog!

 

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Chinese Cabbage Salad

Combine in a large bowl:

1 head Napa cabbage, shredded and 2-3 green onions, chopped.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

100_5101c   I decided, belatedly, that I should add a picture of Napa cabbage.  I always get it confused with it’s “slimmer” cousin Bok Choi.  But a head of Napa is just right for this recipe, and with the Bok Choi one isn’t quite enough and two is a little too much.

For crunchy mixture, in a medium sauce pan combine and stir frequently (to avoid burning) until browned:

1/2 C. butter (1 stick), 2 pkgs. chicken-flavored ramen noodles, including seasoning packets, 1/4 C. sesame seeds and 1/2 C. sliced almonds

  100_5081x   Break the noodles into very small pieces while they are still sealed in the package.

100_5084x   Remember to add the seasoning packets from the noodles too.

100_5087x   You want the mixture brown and toasty.  After cool, store it in a plastic bag or a small plastic bowl with a lid until ready to assemble the salad. (Not necessary to refrigerate.)

For dressing, in a small sauce pan bring the following to a boil and let boil for one minute:

1/2 C. vinegar, 3/4 C. oil, 1/2 C. sugar, 2 T. soy sauce

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After this has cooled somewhat, I put it  in a bottle or bowl until ready for assembly.  Also, not necessary to refrigerate this.  But, do shake or stir it well before putting it on the salad — it tends to separate.

 100_5095xx   When ready to serve, sprinkle noodle mixture and dressing over cabbage and mix with tongs. 

100_5093x   Since this salad doesn’t keep well once it is assembled, I only assembled half of it for our lunch.  We’ll have this other half at another meal in the next day or two.  (Yes, those are some of the sesame seeds in the dressing.  Without thinking, I used the same spoon in both mixtures and transferred some of the seeds.)

 

And, because we like this and I hope you might like it too, here is a recipe for the turkey meat loaf.  We can’t tell the difference from the ground beef one we ate for years.

 

I Can’t Believe It’s Turkey Meat Loaf

Combine in a large mixing bowl and let stand for a couple minutes:

1 cup 1% milk and 2 cups fresh bread crumbs (made from 2 regular slices or 4 light slices of bread)

Add:

20 oz. ground turkey, 1 pkg. dry onion soup mix, 1 egg (or 1/4 C. Egg Beaters), 1 T. Worchestershire sauce, and a tablespoon or two of dry bread crumbs if mixture seems too soupy

Mix with fork, just until blended.

100_5072x    Shape into 4 small loaves in a glass dish.

Note:  Total baking time is 1 hr. 15 min. at 350 degrees.

Bake for first 30 minutes. 

100_5079x    Then pour the following mixture over the top.

To make sauce, combine:

1/2 C. catsup, 3 T. brown sugar (2 T. if using Splenda brown sugar), 1 T. yellow mustard, 1/4 t. salt, 1/2 C. water

Bake for another 45 minutes, basting with sauce a couple times.

100_5094xx  The liquid in the dish can be used as gravy if you’re serving mashed potatoes with this, as we sometimes do.  And, of course, it can be drizzled over the meat loaf itself if you like.

I hope you enjoy one or both of these recipes!

Essen gut! (I think that means “good eating”!  It is one of the few German phrases I have picked up after being an in-law in a German family for 44 years!)


Mama Remembered: The Grand River and a pesky little snake

August 26, 2009

 

I can remember Mama telling this story to me.  She was a great story teller.  I think she was about seven or eight years old when this happened.  It’s hard to keep track of where they were and what age she was because they moved often from farm to farm where they either rented a house and fields or worked as hired hands.

Another slice of life from Mama’s book I Remember:

Grand River ran between our house and Trenton.  The river came out of its banks every time we had a hard rain.

One Saturday Dad went to Trenton for groceries.  He drove a team and a farm wagon.  It started raining while he was gone and by the time he got back to the foot of the hill we lived on, the water was almost touching the bottom of the wagon bed.

That river always came up fast.  I remember being down in the field where Dad was ploughing, along the river.  It had been raining up the river some place because the river began to rise.  In an hour’s time it was lapping up over the bank.  Dad chained the plow to a tree so it wouldn’t be washed away and he, the horses and I left for home up on the hill.  In two hours time the whole bottoms were covered. 

A little snake about 6 or 8 inches long followed us toward the hill.  I looked back and saw him.  I threw clods of dirt at him and he would run down in a horse’s track.  Then when I went on, he would follow again.  It scared me.  I was afraid that if he got close enough he might bite me.  I don’t know what kind of snake it was.  I finally found a corn stalk that had been pulled up out of the ground.  The mud had dried on the roots, making it as hard as a rock.  I took that and killed that pesky little snake.

Dad laughed at me.  He said the little snake was just trying to be friendly.

It strikes me that parents weren’t as protective of children back then.  Today, I’m sure that she would have run to her father in fear and he would have reassured her and gotten rid of the snake himself.

I’m sure problem solving and self-reliance weren’t even concepts poor dirt farmers thought about.  But, whether they would have known what to call it or not, those concepts were being taught/learned at a very young age.

 

 


The Zoo, A Camera, Mimi and Me!

August 25, 2009

 

P1030643   We have a wonderful children’s zoo here.

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  P1030644(1)   The entry sets the tone for a first class experience.

 

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  The zoo is very well maintained and landscaped, so that it is a pleasure not just for children because of the animals, but also a real treat for adults, especially ones with a camera.

Last year my friend Linda and I took Coco, Lulu and Mimi there, and Coco and Lulu had their faces painted, but Mimi wasn’t comfortable having hers done.  So, when Mimi and I went to the zoo while the girls were here a couple weeks ago (her big sisters stayed home with Papa to swim), I think she had already decided she was going to having her face painted this time.  As we looked at the animals, she would ask every so often whether we would pass the spot where the face painter was last year. 

P1030496(1)  It was a beautiful day and not really “August hot”, but it was early afternoon and some of the animals, like these bobcats, were taking their naps.

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 P1030502(2)  When you enter the African Veldt, there is mist everywhere for dramatic effect.

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P1030513(2)   I have no idea what kind of bird makes this type of nest, but I am really impressed considering the trouble I have making a round ball of cookie dough when the recipe calls for that, and I’m not trying to fly at the same time!

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P1030523(1)   As you might expect, the ring-tailed slooths were acting, well, very slooth-ish!

P1030525   I can say, without hesitation, that this is the closest I have ever been to a lion!  There was a window that looked out into his enclosure and he was laying on a wide ledge up against the window.  There were alot of people crowding around so it was hard to get a picture, but it’s also no accident that I’m standing at the “south” end of the lion but just taking a picture of his “north” end.   Let’s just say that the position he was in, left no doubt that he was a lion and not a lioness!   Moving on …

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P1030544(1)   At first glance, I wondered if this was another unusual bird’s nest …

P1030557(1)   But then a giraffe wandered up and I realized it was his version of “fast food”!

P1030558(1)   This baby giraffe can still reach the ground to eat.  A worker told us that giraffes give birth standing up and the babies are born feet first, so they are born standing up!

P1030559(2)   A worker was up on the elevated walk letting people feed this giraffe his favorite leaves.

P1030545(2)   Up on the walk, it was fun to see his head up so close.  It was huge!

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P1030548(1)   Do you recognize the stripes that I had “colorized” for my post yesterday?

P1030548(1)(1)   A Photo-shopped “horse” of a different color!

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P1030562(1)   It added to the “feel’ of Africa that you could hear drums off in the distance occasionally.  Then we came around a corner in the trail and saw who was playing the drums!

P1030564(1)   Not exactly the fierce natives you might invision playing the drums!

P1030565(1)   The drums were very popular with all the children, except Mimi.  She suddenly turned shy and didn’t want to try them, so I had to settle for pictures of other kids playing them.

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Then we came to the face painter!

P1030578(1)x   There was no line, so Mimi immediately showed the artist how she wanted her face painted — she pointed at the butterfly.  Except ….. she didn’t want any paint on her eyelids.   Hmmm.  The artist and I agreed that the design would lose something if the eyes were left unpainted.  She could end up looking more like an owl than a butterfly!

So the artist came up with a compromise … she would paint a butterfly on one cheek and flowers on the other.  That sounded good to Mimi and me.

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P1030587(1)  A very pretty butterfly! 

P1030590(1)   But, apparently, her specialty is butterflies because I wasn’t as impressed with the flower on the other cheek.  I suggested she add a second smaller one  which she was perfectly willing to do.

At about this time she mentioned that she usually sold tickets at the front gate and was just filling in for the face painter.  Yikes!  But, she hastened to add that she was an art major in college.

P1030592(1)   Okay.  Not bad.  Maybe this was going to be just lovely.

P1030593(1)   Then she painted on the really green, really heavy vine to connect the flowers and the butterfly.

P1030600(1)  Okay.  The end product wasn’t bad.  Mimi got to have her face painted, without having paint on her eyelids.   And I really did appreciate that the face painter came up with a design that worked for Mimi.  So, we left happy.

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Our final stop was the seals’ pool.

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A fun day at the zoo.  And lots of pictures to help us remember our visit.


Some things I’ve learned about myself through Photography

August 24, 2009

 

I think of my mother often when I am using a camera.  She would be delighted that I finally “get” the fun of photography.

And, I have learned a few things about myself because of photography, for instance —

 

I am drawn to repeated patterns . . .

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and bright colors . . . 

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P1030548(1)(1)   (I can’t tell — is it obvious what this is?  If you don’t know, I’ll give you a hint — the color was a pleasant surprise when I played around with editing the hue and saturation of a black and white picture from the zoo.)

 

and the sky . . .

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. . . and sometimes opportunities to show a unique perspective

 P1000151(2)    A window at a filling station.  A cooler filled with soda pop inside provides the color and is made interesting because it is viewed through a window that is reflecting near-by trees.

 P1000151(1)  A cropped version of the window above.

100_2245e1   I thought these bushes in the yard, photographed through a screen, looked a little like a painting.

P1010157(1)  I was amazed at how much more I liked this simple picture of a bird when I made it a negative.

100_4823g   There is something a little mysterious about just a glimpse of a pretty girl, isn’t there?

100_1838edit1   Bridge girders through the tinting at the top of the windshield.

100_1965edit2  A sunset taken in the rear view mirror (as the passenger, of course!)

100_2731e2   I took a picture of clouds from inside the car and inadvertently overlayed them with my husband’s reflection in the window.  When I cropped it to just the reflection, I got a picture I really liked!

I can honestly say that photography has made me look at the world around me much more closely and appreciatively.