Saturday, June 27, 2009

Problem solved!

I hate it when I feel completely out of the blogging loop...

My mom came last Sunday and we had an action packed week that I'm still recovering from...(in fact, I ended up with a cold that has me feeling sluggish and drained). What's up with getting a cold in the summer?!

It was such a whirlwind visit that I forgot to picture document our activities...
(with the exception of this hideous picture of me the day she was leaving--I look dazed!)
It occurred to me shortly before she was ready to leave that we hadn't gotten one picture of our adventures or any self portraits together)

We spent a few days helping a friend of mine redecorate her house--(I'll post before and after pictures at a later date). We went thrift shopping for almost an entire day and found more treasures than any other shopping trip we've done)...I mowed one afternoon, bundled up lavender, hung new plates on my wall, repositioned family pictures in the hallway, my mom painted my ceiling in the dining room, and we still managed to take care of the kids, cook dinner every night and laundry...


The situation with my male duck never improved so I had no choice but to find him a new home for him. My neighbor, Jeannie, told me about a woman who lives about 30 miles from here who might be able to take him in.

After introducing myself on the phone to Janet, I enjoyed hearing about the animals that she has at her place. In addition to baby lambs, she has other sheep, a donkey, 3 peacocks, ducks and 2 border collies. She insisted that I bring the kids with me so they could help bottle feed the lambs.

(In her spare time, she also finds time to be with her grandchildren, garden, can fruits and vegetables, scrapbook and weave!) A girl after my own heart!

After bringing Henry to her house, she put him in a dog crate and set him down by her pond. Shortly after, the "welcoming committee" came over to check out the new guy...

She'll keep him in the cage for a few days just so he gets acclimated to his new surroundings. Apparently, if he's let out too soon, he would try to walk home.

These lambs were beyond cute! She has to bottle feed them several times a day...

The kids got to do one of the feedings...They were thrilled! Janet told me that the lambs have such a need to suck that she occasionally gives them pacifiers. I would have LOVED to see one of them walking around with one of those in their mouths!

Oh! to have a sheep farm someday! (sigh!) A girl can dream...
My horribly neglected roots are too much for this poor little guy...he can't even look at me! (I can't say I blame him!)

This male peacock kept showing off his "goods"...
The females were oblivious, of course! hee hee

After our visit, Janet took us to a nearby horse park where her grand kids were competing.

My kids seemed interested in learning how to ride a horse, and since Janet's daughter teaches riding lessons, I got the details from her on when she's available...I wouldn't mind taking lessons as well...
So things are back to normal...the ducks don't seem to be grieving the loss of Henry, and there is peace in the land once again...
**Do you crash and burn after an overloaded week?
**Have you ever bottle fed a lamb?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How to Be a Good Wife...

I've been scurrying around all week to get everything organized before my mom comes today (which also happens to be Father's Day and Brian's birthday). I really want to make today extra special for Brian...

I recently read an old article from a May 13, 1955 Housekeeping Monthly magazine. In it, I found tons of useful tips and information on how to perfect the art of being a good homemaker/wife...

Brian is going to be thrilled!

1. Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a delicious meal ready, on time for his return. This is a way of letting him know that you have been thinking about him and are concerned about his needs. Most men are hungry when they come home and the prospect of a good meal (especially his favourite dish) is part of the warm welcome needed. (check!)

2. Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be fresh looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people. (check!)

3. Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it. (check!)

4. Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of the house just before your husband arrives. (check!)

5. Gather up schoolbooks, toys, paper etc. and then run a dust cloth over the tables. (check!)

6. Over the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift, too. After all, catering for his comfort will provide you with immense personal satisfaction. (check!)

7. Prepare the children. Take a few minutes to wash the children's hands and faces (if they are small), comb their hair and, if necessary, change their clothes. They are little treasures and he would like to see them playing the part. Minimise all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Try to encourage the children to be quiet. (check!)

8. Be happy to see him. (check!)

9. Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to please him. (check!)

10. Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first--remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours. (check!)

11. Make the evening his. Never complain if he comes home late or goes out to dinner, or other places of entertainment without you. Instead, try to understand his world of strain and pressure and his very real need to be at home and relax. (check!)

12. Your goal: Try to make sure your home is a place of peace, order and tranquility where your husband can renew himself in body and spirit. (check!)

13. Don't greet him with complaints and problems (check!)

14. Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through that day. (check!)

15. Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or have him lie down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him. (check!)

16. Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low, soothing and pleasant voice. (check)

17. Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgement or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You have no right to question him. (check!)

18. A good wife always knows her place. (check!)

Now the check list is complete! Can't wait for him to see the new me!! (tee hee)

Happy Father's Day, Brian!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Reilly's Last Day of Kindergarten...

The day has finally arrived...Reilly finished kindergarten!
I can't get over how late school is letting out--it seems like everyone else is well into their vacations already!

Here she is with Miss Kennedy...

In addition to a gift certificate for the teacher gift, I potted up a thyme plant and made a tag with a bit of a play on words...

It seems like just yesterday when I was in kindergarten!...
This was my kindergarten picture--
I can't get over the resemblence between Reilly and me!

Reilly's classmates and friends...

This was taken on the last day of school with the teacher's aid, Mrs. Pickett...I really liked her...
I wasn't real wild, though, about my kindergarten teacher, Miss Murphy. When I was going to kindergarten, we went for a full day. I remember always having to take a nap. I always tried to sleep, but ended up fidgeting around the entire hour. Whoever took a nap got to have a jellybean from Miss Murphy. I, of course, never got to have one. I used to try and reason with her that no one was eating the black licorice ones anyway and so why couldn't I have those...she never agreed to my reasoning...
What a brute!

Looking back at this now, I see the motliest group of kids ever...yikes! That was Bryan, Texas in the 1970's for ya!

**Do you remember your kindergarten teacher?
**Do you like black licorice?
**Would you have considered your class a motley crue?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Penny and Matilda

Warning...This is probably highly boring for anyone other than myself, but as I'm using the blog as a way to document my personal history, I needed to include it.

It stayed light very light out on Tuesday evening. I remember at around 8:30pm or so thinking that it looked more like 6:00pm.

I was out working in the yard and saw all three ducks in the pond swimming around. I decided to wait a little while before putting them in their pen for the night since it was still light and they seemed to be enjoying the extra play time.

When Brian and Jake got home from their baseball game, I asked Brian to help me get the ducks in--(it was about 8:45pm)--and still light! But when we walked to the back yard, we noticed that only two ducks were standing on the bank.

Little Peep was the one missing and she was no where to be found. We looked for her everywhere and I was in a frantic state. At one point we realized that something must have killed her although we could see no evidence of it at the time.

The next morning, my neighbor called me and asked me if one of my ducks was missing because his son had seen a dead duck in the road in the new development behind us. There was no way she could have walked that far, so it was clear that some animal had dragged her or flown her there. She was around 7 pounds, so that limited a hawk. We are pretty convinced it was a raccoon based on the condition that she was found in.

My neighbor Jeannie drove over to get her body and bring it home to examine. We will bury her in a few days...

I felt literally sick when I found out Little Peep had been taken. She was one of my original females. I only have one original duck left. The saddest part of the whole thing is that her sister was heartbroken and wouldn't leave her pen for almost an entire day. Brian says that animals don't have emotions, but I say he's crazy! This poor little duck just sat there and wouldn't eat even strawberries...

She still continues to be out of sorts, but she's at least leaving her pen and seems to enjoy foraging...

This whole thing presented a dilemma as I feared that if something else happened to one of the other two ducks, the one remaining would be a lonely mess--

It was too late in the season to get more ducklings, so I decided to find an adult female to bring into the mix. Fortunately, I found a place called Last Chance Ranch which is about 45 minutes away that had several ducks that needed homes.

My neighbor, Jeannie, drove up with me and the girls to check it out. When we got there, we found about 6 ducks hanging out in a pen full of pure mud and poop.

The white domestic duck (pekin) that they had was a female and apparently, she had a buddy who was a little brown trout runner. They had been brought to this place as Easter ducklings, and had formed a strong bond with each other, so I decided to adopt them both together...

What was I thinking not wearing my mucking out boots?! It's hard to tell, but this mud was at least 5 inches deep--It was like quicksand!--I'm actually standing on a board in this picture...

Trying to capture this poor thing was a bit of a challenge!...

It was like a circus!--At one point I forgot to close the carrier after I had put the one duck in, so I had to catch her all over again! arrrrrrrgggg

curious bystanders...

After we got the ducks home, I filled up a wash basin to get them cleaned off before putting them in their pen...

The kids helped me come up with the name of "Matilda" for the pekin...(Tilley for short)

This one we named Penny...she's just a little thing...barely 3 pounds...
Runner ducks are often used for herding. They have very long necks and look like bowling pins when they stand up. They are sometimes referred to as
"penguin ducks"...

Look who's head popped up when he heard the unfamiliar quacks...

Here is Jeannie holding Tilley after her bath...

Safely tucked in their cage for the night...

Never in a million years would I have guessed 6 years ago, while living in Manhattan, that I would ever need to purchase something like this!

The drake has been horribly aggressive and territorial, and has been trying to mate with Tilley...(the new pekin)...When ducks mate, the male bites the back of the female's neck sometimes to the point of breaking the skin. He wouldn't let up on her, so I called the feed store where I buy my duck supplies and they suggested this product..."Rooster Booster". It's a tar based solution that you put on the back of the female's neck. The taste of it is supposed to discourage the male from biting her. It hasn't really worked as I would have I've had to resort to separating them.

The thing that was most creepy was the label on the bottle that says

"controls cannibalism"--

Good hell! What did I get myself into?!

Anyway, that's what has been on tap over the past week...It's been chaotic and frustrating. I have no idea how I'm ever going to train these two new ones to come into their pen at night. I'm a little nervous about how it's all going to work out...I hope the male duck can get his overactive libido under control!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Five for Friday (Tuesday edition)

Just thought I'd share a few miscellaneous musings...

Signs of summer!
(Now that all of the watermelon seem to be seedless, is there any way to grow cherries without the pits?) I still love them anyway!

One last harrah with the peonies! Farewell, until next year--old friends!

This just might be considered the find of all finds!!!

Heather gave me this old glass bookcase. I love that it has a story! This used to be one of Bruce R. McKonkie's old law shelves. His son had a bunch of his law shelves. This one set was in need of repair and was sitting in a horse trailer. Since Heather is good friends with two of his grandsons, they offered them to Rob and Heather when they were first getting married for $100. They've had it in their house for almost 18 years. They've been recently changing their home over to a bit of a more contemporary style and the shelves just didn't work with the new look. They truly hated to part with them but felt that they would have been better suited in a loving OLD home. ...(Lucky me!)

It's so cool to see all of the original tags and hardware and workmanship (old glass)--It will truly be one of our most treasured pieces.

Brian gave me the ultimate gift on Saturday by taking the kids for the day and giving me a break! He drove them up to the Delaware Water Gap (about 2 hours from here) and tuckered them out on a nice long hike. It was nice to just be able to spend time at home and clear my head. I was able to clean (and have it stay clean for a couple of hours) and run some errands without interruptions. Although I've actually enjoyed spending more time with the kids as they are getting a bit older, I need time without them occasionally to recharge my batteries...

I felt refreshed and ready to resume my motherly duties upon their return!

What are neighbors for?!...

My neighbor, Jeannie, keeps fine lager on hand for special guests...(apparently, that includes slugs!) We've had a problem with slugs this year eating the heck out of our peppers, beans, lettuce and broccoli. Rumor has it that beer poured in a shallow dish will attract them and they end up drowning. Die! I say! Slugs--be gone! We'll see how this works out.

Jeannie has a swallow nest in one of her blue bird boxes...
Look what just hatched!
I am so in love!

**What are your signs of summer?

**Does beer really work for slugs?

**Have you had your last harrah with peonies?

**Do you need time alone to recharge your batteries?

**What birds are nesting in your trees?

Friday, June 5, 2009

"Sister, Can You Spare A Dime?"

Last night was our June Enrichment dinner...

(I've been so engrossed with getting all of the details in order that I completely forgot my dear friend, Christine's, birthday and my sister, Joanna's!) I feel literally nausous when I think about it...
June just kind of crept up on me...(So sorry girls!--I'll make it up to you!)

Heather and I decided to go with the Great Depression theme for this month's enrichment dinner...(this was in leiu of the garden party that we usually try to have at this time). Fortunately, we chose a covered location as it was a rainy day...

To say we had a ball planning this would be a total understatement!

These were the invitations...I printed them on the back of grocery bags...

Heather's mom had hosted a depression dinner once in her garage, but with a small amount of people. We decided to go with this same theme only on a larger scale! We were really sweating it even up to the last minute since it was raining out and we couldn't use part of her driveway as the overflow...

I think we ended up with a total of about 37 people...

We loaded up the chairs and tables from the church on Wednesday and got them set up. I went over to Heather's yesterday morning and we taped the unprinted newspaper onto the tables and set up the memorabilia. (old black and white pictures of people in the 1930's, depression glass and other trinkets). We really tried hard to recreate the feel of what it was like in 1930.

A few weeks ago, I went to the library and got books on the 1930's and photocopied some of the old depression time pictures as well as downloaded a few that I found on line...

I just used dollar store frames....

Heather found this awesome 1930's hair tutorial on the internet! It showed how to make a hairstyle using pin curls...It looked a lot easier than it was! We even had to bring the laptop in the bathroom to see step by step instructions on how to do it. We had a great time with this!

Lots of laughs--good times all around!

I didn't have pantyhoes that had seems up the back, so I had Brian use a permanent marker to draw the lines...(It's all in the details, people!)
(notice the tape peeking out)

Apparently, during WWII, there was a shortage of pantyhoes, so the women would sometimes just draw a line down the back of their leg...

This is for all of you sewing gurus out there! Just to prove to you how little sewing skills I posess, here is a picture of how I secured the hem of my dress! ----Packing tape!

Don't judge!--it worked--(although I could hear the sound of the tape rubbing against my leg everytime I walked)

The final look!

The women all wore simple cotton dresses with starched aprons...(I got this dress at Good Will). I really love that even though times were tough for everyone back in those days, people still took pride in themselves and looked as neat as a pin...

Is that apron fabulous, or what?! I have my friend, Suzanne, to thank for that! She had that made for me as a thank you gift for helping her stage her house before she moved. I love the colors, and it looked so perfect! Everyone kept oogling over it--(thanks again, Suzanne!--that was such a great gift!) And to think that I wasn't planning on wearing that as part of my costume at first!?

We used pie tins for the salad and pot pie bowls for the soup...

Nancy Hopkins and I working the soup line...

Menu: Potato soup, bean soup, iceburg lettuce (pre-tossed with an oil and vinegar dressing) and croutons. (As it was rainy and a slight bit chilly, this was a perfect meal on a night like this)

I was disappointed with how the potato soup that I made turned out...

I peeled 20 pounds of potatoes and made everything exactly as the recipe called for. I made it the day before and just heated it up yesterday afternoon. It tasted great when I first made it but after it was reheated, the texture and taste was completely different. grrrrr

Everyone filing through the "soup line"...
We had 1930's music playing during this was really cute....

After dinner, before our presentation started, we served dessert...

Depression Chocolate Cake and Stewed Apple Pudding

( this little Shirley Temple doll belonged to Heather's mother, Sue. It was her doll when she was little).

Both were delicious but we forgot to take pictures of the dessert table! We managed to get an after shot of the cake but never did get a picture of the stewed apple pudding (which was very delicious by the way!)


Depression Chocolate Cake

3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 tsp. baking soda
10 level tsp. of unsweatened cocoa
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. salad oil
T. vinegar
2 c. cold water

Mix all ingredients until smooth and bake in a greased and floured 9x13 baking dish at 350 for 30 min. or until cooked. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting.

Stewed Apple Pudding

(Fruit was often cheap in Northern New Jersey in the 1930's because there was still quite a few farms and orchards were plentiful. Their harvest was a boon to all the local housewives and children. This was served as a dessert for the purpose of filling a stomach after a meal that perhaps was not quite so filling.)

**This recipe comes in three parts, cooking the apples, cooking the dumplings and making the hard sauce. All of these are very easy and served warm after the main meal.


Peeled, cored, and sliced apples

cinnamon and sugar to taste

Place apples, sugar and cinnamon in pan over moderate heat adding water to the bottom of the covered pot (you will need to judge for yourself as this will depend on the amount of apples you are using, but you will need enough to cover the bottom of the pan and see the apples through cooking), occasionally stirring to watch for scorching or burning and adjusting heat accordingly.

When apples ar cooked about half way (not yet fork tender), place dumpling mixture over top of steaming apple mix.


2 1/4 c. Bisquick

2/3 c. milk

Stir ingredients until soft dough forms. Drop by spoonfuls onto steaming mix. Cook uncovered 10 min. then cover and cook for another 10 min. Check to see if dumplings are done by looking in the centre of the largest one; it should be cake-like in appearance with no wet appearance in the center.

Hard Sauce

sugar (to taste)

Butter (softened, not melted)

Cream together and use over warm apple and dumplings

Heather did a great job of highlighting some of the struggles that people went through during those times and how they perservered in spite of their challenges...

She also tied it into how we, in these times, if we are prepared as we have been counciled, than we should have no fear despite what things might come our way.

We can have hope in knowing that we will be taken care of...

After Heather's introduction, I spoke for just a few minutes about depression glass and some of the facts about it. Depression glass was colored glass that was manufactured by machines very cheaply. Many places such as movie theatres or gas stations used it to encourage people's business. Quaker Oats and other food manufacturers used to put a piece of glassware in boxes of food, as an incentive to purchase. It was sold primarily at "five and dime" stores.

After my presentation, we showed a 7 minute video clip that was projected onto the side of the garage wall. We found a woman on you tube that teaches about depression cooking. Her name is Clara, and she's 93 years old. She shows how to make some of the dishes that they made back then and mingles in some stories. Although the sound wasn't very loud, it was still really cute.

If you're interested in seeing her cute clip, just click here!

Nancy Hopkins put together a really nice power point presentation about how the music back in the 30's helped pull people through. She had music playing thoughout...

I'm kicking myself for not taking pictures of the vintage snow white and seven dwarfs that Nancy had brought for display. We had those sitting on the dessert table. They were really neat!

Here we are at the end of the night. Not a hair out of place! I kept saying that the reason why I think they called this "the depression era" was because the thought of having to get up every morning and go through all the trouble of putting their hair in pin curls must have been mighty depressing!

(Unless, of course, we could all be promised to have THIS hair afterward!)

I love this girl! We have so much fun together. I almost feel guilty sometimes that we enjoy our calling so much--

All in all, I think everyone had a fun time and left with a better appreciation of the sacrifices people had to make back in those times. I feel pretty certain that up until last night, most of us would never have been able to boast that we had eaten in a garage.

**Doesn't this sound like fun?
**Do you know any depression era recipes?
**Have you ever had dinner in a garage before?
**Would you have gone to the trouble of pin curling your hair?