Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday at Camp Grammy's...

The rain came down...Mt. Cheam was lost in the clouds and the puddles were getting bigger by the hour. Emme & Spencer came for the day and stayed for a sleepover. Outside activities were out of the question, but we found lots to do inside.

The girls wanted to show off their newly learned skipping skills. By they time they were done skipping, it was hot in the house...or so they thought!

And Emme had something exciting to show us...she lost her first tooth. Spencer has already had two visits from the tooth fairy, and Emme was pretty sure she had been passed by. It happened at last!

And for supper...

...wiener weenie dogs from the Spatulatta Cookbook (recipes for kids). It's a recipe book I picked up at Costco awhile back and the girls had been begging to try something, so today was the day. (I just noticed that there is also a web site called which features fun cooking ideas for kids.)

Delicious....nutricious?...and lots of fun!

After supper we watched Max Lucado's 'Hermie...the Common Caterpillar'...very cute and reinforces that each of us is 'wonderfully made'!  Psalm 199:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

The afternoon ended far too quickly, because it's a school night. Oh yes, and did I tell you how fun it is to be a grammy?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mexican Tomato Chowder

It's a dreary, drizzly fall day on the west coast, so that called for a pot of soup for supper. I also picked most of my tomatoes this week, so I needed to do something with them. One of our favorite fall soups is a tomato-corn chowder made from a recipe that I snipped out of a paper many years ago. I must be a Mexican Mennonite because I sure do love the dishes with a Mexican flair! And I actually had all the ingredients on hand so I never even had to run to the grocery store. I used fresh herbs, but dried basil and oregano are fine.

Mexican Tomato Chowder

2 pounds field tomatoes
1 large onion
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups chicken broth
1 large can black beans, drained (19 oz.)
1 can beans in tomato sauce
2 cups sweet corn kernels (fresh, canned or frozen)
1 tsp. each of salt, oregano & basil
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro

Scald tomatoes to remove skins and chop coarsely. In large saucepan, cook onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat until softened (about 3 minutes). Stir in stock, chopped tomatoes, corn, beans, salt, oregano, basil and cayenne. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve. Top each serving with a dollop of sour cream!

And if you happen to have an 35-year-old orange pyrex bowl to serve it in, it will even look Mexican!

It's dinner time & then we're off to watch our local WHL hockey team play (now it's really starting to sound like winter). I have no idea who they are playing, but I'm going along for the ride. It sounds like they are off to a great start this season.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

forever friends...

You know the kind of friend I am talking about...the kind that will always be there no matter the time or distance between you. There are lots of friends that are just 'blips on the screen' (that come into your life for a season)...and then there are the 'forever friends'.

Today I coffee'd with one of those special friends. Last week we were in contact as we learned that one of our mutual high-school friends was dying of cancer. We discussed how life can be full of surprises and that we never know what is in store for us tomorrow...and that we really should hold relationships dear, because that is what matters most. With that, we agreed to meet for coffee...well, we actually had notions of climbing a mountain or at least hiking a trail, but we never got beyond the coffee. We laughed, we talked, and we picked up where we left off two years ago. It may be decades since we were inseparable in high school, but some friends just never change!

We won't wait two years to meet again. Marg, are you busy next Thursday? Let's do another hike.

Happy Birthday, Sister!

For Dorothy Sue with eyes of blue,
It’s birthday number fifty-_____.
(Don’t worry, I won’t tell!)

She's creative & crafty; she's a gardener and loves to travel me she's a sister and a friend.

With five girls in our home as we grew up, we pretty much shared everything...from clothes to chores! I treasure the memories of all the things we've done together over the years...from touring gardens in the spring to shopping at Winners (I still think that red hat looked good on you!) a recent outing to watch the Mariners play ball at Safeco Field. Then there are all the places we've visited together...Banff & Lake Louise, Iowa, the Caribbean, South Padre Island, Birch Bay and Manitoba (four times in the past decade). We really go the distance to get together...especially when we live only a few miles apart!

A sister is a very special friend.
Happy Birthday, Dot!

A birthday is just the first day of another 365-day journey around the sun. Enjoy the trip. 
~Author Unknown

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

the fall garden...

Today was the day for a new look for my garden! It was 'out with the old' (pink petunias) and 'in with the new' (winter pansies). 

Once the pinks were gone, the fall colours looked so much more vibrant...or maybe it was just that the sun came out for a few hours!

The hydrangea leaves are a beautiful copper colour.

There's still a touch of pick on my favorite hydrangea (limelight), but it's looking great in the fall garden.

The 'sweet autumn' clematis is in full bloom...I had to avoid the bees to get this photo.

These aren't actually supposed to be on the lawn...but there's lots of them, so I guess they are part of the fall decor.

Throw in a few rudbeckias (and lots of spiders!)...add a pot or two of mums, and looks a little more like autumn!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

getting lost in the corn...

Fall has arrived and the corn fields are disappearing as the crops are being cut for winter feed for the cattle. But there's one bumper crop that will be standing until the end of October. A group of us decided that Sunday night was a good night to go get lost in the corn in our local corn maze. They have record high corn stalks this year...about twelve feet tall throughout.

We soon figured out that it was all about knowing the answers to the clues we were given & since we were a little 'clueless' we decided that if we just followed the path most travelled we would eventually find our way out. And we would have...

... except that the darkness came so much sooner than we expected! I think John (the owner) actually thought we might still be there on October 31st when they cut the corn, so he came to our rescue with his flashlight!

It was such a beautiful night & the corn field was a great place to enjoy it!

John and Rascal joined us at the campfire where we roasted smores and enjoyed each other's company under the starry sky. What a great way to enjoy a clear, crisp autumn evening!

Monday, September 24, 2007

they call it puppy love...

Emerson & Spencer
are pleased to announce
the arrival of Nora
...early this morning!

The puppy is an Italian mastiff & was delivered just as the girls were getting ready for school. As exciting as grade one might be, it was no match for a new puppy! Needless to say, the girls were a little late for school this morning. Grammy went next door to see the puppy and then offered to drive them to school.

They find it quite interesting that this is the same school that Grammy & Grandpa attended a long time ago (also Auntie Heidi)...but most exciting is that 'cousin Gillian' from Manitoba even went here! The girls are loving grade one and were thankful that they could stay together (their classroom was overcrowded and ten first graders were moved to another class).

The halls are empty...they really are late! Oh well, the teacher will understand that a new puppy took priority today. Ryder likes the puppy well enough...he just doesn't like Mommy to pay too much attention to it. And Chief thought it was best just to ignore the whole thing...he walked across the fields today & paid me a visit.

He is a thirteen year old Malamute and isn't doing a whole lot of running these days. Jeremy & Broni had actually ordered a Bernese Mountain Dog pup, but changed their mind because they don't bark. They thought it might be nice to have a 'watchdog' on the farm with all the break-and-enters that have been happening in our neighbourhood recently. So hopefully Nora grows up to be both a wonderful pet and a watchdog...and a friend to Chief.

This afternoon Ranen came to visit Grammy. She is all grown up at sixteen months...she had lots of new words for me today.

There won't be too many more barefoot days this year, so she was enjoying this one.

Mmmm...there's not a fruit she doesn't like!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

it's a good day...

It's Sunday...the sun is shining and it's a beautiful fall day.

We decided to take the '47 Monarch to church today. It has mostly been sitting in the garage for the past few years, since we didn't really like getting stranded when we took it out! It didn't want to start when it was warm, so rather than risk being left 'high & dry' we just left it at home. We finally found someone who fixed our 'starter problems' so she's ready for touring and her first big outing was to church.

And yes, she started nicely after we never had to call the kids for a ride!

The pastor had a wonderful message this usual. He talked about 'the heart of worship'. To quote Pastor Ron, "We don't see the glory of God because we're so blinded by our own brilliance."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

chocolate cake

It's fall and that time of the year when we feel like turning on the oven and trying out some recipes...old & new. Here's an old one that happens at least once a year at our place...on or about September 11th for the past 36 years! The basic layer cake is a recipe from 'The Mennonite Treasury of Recipes' which uses Miracle Whip dressing...a nice moist cake.

Emme & Ryder were my helpers when I baked this cake last week, and Emme loves to add all the ingredients. Since she doesn't like 'mayo', she wasn't all that excited about this cake once she knew what was in it. Ryder got to lick the beaters...Emme said she would pass. However, she loved the cake in the end (even had two pieces) and promised not to tell Uncle Kris it had mayo in it! I'm pretty sure it's the frosting that redeems this would make any cake taste good.

Quick Chocolate Cake

1 cup Kraft Miracle Whip
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoon cocoa

Blend miracle whip and sugar. Stir together dry ingredients and add alternately with water. Pour into 2-nine inch round layer pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

French Silk Frosting

1/2 cup butter (no substitutes)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons Fry's cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla 2 eggs

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add cocoa and vanilla; beat. Add eggs one at a time, beating for about 5 minutes after each addition. Chill before spreading.

Then let the grandkids lick the bowl and beaters!

Spencer and Emme are coming to help Grammy bake today (no chocolate this time though). We are making cinnamon twists and...who knows what else?

Friday, September 21, 2007

sweet autumn

Summer is over & tomorrow is the first day of autumn (according to the calendar). My 'sweet autumn' clematis is starting to is covered with thousands of buds and by next week it will be a mass of star-shaped blooms.
A bonus is the beautiful fragrance! Most clematis don't bloom in fall & very few are fragrant, so this one is definitely a keeper.
How nice to have a clematis that puts on a spectacular late season show!

I have not done any fall decorating yet. Somehow fall decor & pink petunias just don't go together. The petunias are still looking so good that I haven't been able to bring myself to pull them out.

But this is it...summer's over and now they must go.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

in loving memory

Hildegard Neufeld Toews 1952- 2007

She was fun...she was funny...she was my friend. She passed away this morning after losing a battle to cancer.

I met Hildegard during my junior high years at MEI in Abbotsford so many years ago. We were good friends during those years and spent time in each others homes. We each went our separate ways, and lost touch after high school. The last time I met Hildegard was several years ago at Costco...she was buying flowers for her husband because they were celebrating their love (it was a special anniversary).

This summer I met Hildegard's daughter, Lara, who was engaged to a friend of my nephew's. We exchanged notes about her mom (she wanted to know 'what was she like when she was a teen'?). Lara was so excited about her upcoming wedding! Several weeks ago we heard that Hildegard was losing her battle with cancer and had been hospitalized. The wedding which was to take place last weekend was postponed. Today Hildegard has gone to meet her Maker.

Our hearts go out to the family...I can only imagine what they are going through at this time. No words will take away their sorrow, but may they feel the love and prayers of their friends.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

Let's enjoy our time with our family and friends and keep our relationships alive and healthy...our days are all numbered!

* * * * *

The clock of life is wound but once,

And no one has the power

To tell just when the hands will stop,

At late or early hour.

Now is the only time you own,

So live, love, toil with a will.

Do not wait until tomorrow

For the hands might then be still.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

bath and body works

So...did you hear the news today? Bath & Bodyworks will be discounting all products to Canadian customers, effective immediately! At least, that's what I heard. Can you believe the Canadian loonie and the US dollar are pretty much on par?

Is there anyone else that really likes this stuff? I think I was first introduced to these products when I was in Texas visiting my sister, Bev. The first lotions I bought were 'cococabana' & they smelled like a tropical vacation. Unfortunately, they no longer carry that 'flavour'. I also like the coconut/lime/verbena scent.

Heidi got me started on their soaps...they smell so good!

.... I also have the wall flower deodorizers in the coconut/lime/verbena scent.

I gather they won't be opening shops in Canada anytime soon, so I guess we'll just have to keep visiting the States to stock up!

Last Christmas I gave the girls (Heidi, Broni & Lisa) gift certificates to Bath & Bodyworks, so we went to Bellis Fair together and went on a shopping spree. What fun! It's sort of a grainy you know for sure it's not a promo for Bath & Bodyworks (or Target, for that matter!)

Anyhow, I am happy that my favorite bath products will be soooo much more affordable.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the great blue heron

As I left for my morning walk, I noticed a great blue heron on the yard, so I ran back for my camera. He didn't want to pose for me though so I'll post a few pic's of the last time he came for a visit.

I actually took those pic's through our patio windows. They are very skittish & don't like being photographed. We have a 'blue heron reserve' in Chilliwack where people can observe the heron in it's natural habitat...they have over 200 blue heron nests. However, we have lots of them right on our farm. Since I had my camera with me, I caught this one beside the road this morning. He gave up his fishing spot when he saw me coming, so that's as close as I could get.

The great blue heron is about 2 feet tall & lives to be over 23 years! (I don't actually know these things...I looked that up!)

Well, it is corn harvesting time on the farm & I am supposed to be bringing lunch out to the field in a few hours, so let's see what I come up with.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Late Summer Picnic...

We had our last picnic of the year (we'll see) with the whole family on Saturday night at Benanna Lake. It is a wonderful park on private property and was named after the original owners (Ben & Anna). The generous owners allow friends and family to use the facilities on a 'first come' basis. What a great place to have all to ourselves!

Heidi and Emme went paddling...thankfully Emme figured out the steering or Heidi would still be out there!
Tim took Ranen for a ride...we weren't sure how safe that was, since Tim landed up in the water the last time we were here. Everyone stayed dry this time.

The kids loved the old water pump.

"So who put a girl on the back of my tractor?"

Oh yes, and the reason we were picnicking was...

"Happy Birthday, Grandpa!"

It was a good way to end the season. In a few weeks we will be celebrating Thanksgiving and we will be enjoying the beauty of fall.