Tuesday, October 30, 2007

...no tricks or treats this year!

Family Photo October 31, 2006 Yikes!

Now you can see why we had to leave town for Hallowe'en!

It may only be five days since we left home, but it seems like forever! We've enjoyed the fall beauty of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Nevada (each so different from the other) are are now in Arizona where it looks like summer to me. We've explored little towns which seem lost in time, seen cowboys riding the range, and met many interesting people. We saw a massive snake on the road yesterday (at least ten feet long) and were thankful to be in the safety of our vehicle! And no, I never stopped to get a picture. We went from using the furnace and wearing our "Canadian clothes" to palm trees, air conditioner, and summer clothing...all in a matter of hours as we travelled south in Nevada. We've listened to all our cd's at least once, and I'm about ready to start on the Christmas music!. I'm on my second book, we've played lots of Yahtzee, and we're still finding things to talk about. I stocked up on yarn and crochet hooks at Michael's in Twin Falls, Idaho and I'm working on scarves...that's kind of fun. So if you're on my Christmas list, you know what you'll be getting. We have not heard any news, watched any TV, made or received any phone calls--hey, we're on vacation and enjoying the adventure!

Come tomorrow, I will especially be missing my little munckins--no tricks or treats from Grammy this year. And I'll be missing our annual pizza party at Kris and Lisa's with the whole gang--I won't mind not wearing my 'miss piggy' hat though! So have fun without us, and don't eat all your treats at once!

Tomorrow it's off to the Grand Canyon...I'm looking forward to that.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

it's a long and winding road...

No matter how long the road, or how winding...I'm up for it! The rv is packed and every little detail has been taken care of. Whew...you almost need a vacation by the time you've made all the arrangements.

We know our final destination...but other than that, our journey will be an adventure. There are so many roads out there to explore and we'll make our decisions as we go along! How fun is that? That sort of reminds me of the journey of life...as long as we know our final destination and keep heading in that direction, we are free to make decisions that take us along different paths.

OK...so I think I have everything we need. Music, sudoku, twizzlers, sunglasses and a good road atlas (the roads are still in the same place as two years ago, right?) And we need to stop by a Tim Horton's before we reach the border...after that it's TH-free zone! It seems the driver is not quite ready to go...one last chore out in the barn and we'll be on our way.

And since my computer is attached to the office wall, it will be staying behind. So you'll have to wait until I get back to hear about our latest adventure...unless I manage to sneak in a few lines here or there. So, until we meet again...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Danish Cream Squares

This creamy dessert is always a favorite. It's been Heidi's 'birthday cake' for as long as I can remember...and as you can see, I always make lots because it just disappears!

  • graham wafers
  • vanilla pudding and pie filling, 6-serving size
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 cups whipping cream (500 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 square semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon butter or margarine
  1. Line 9 x 13 inch ungreased pan with whole graham wafers, trimming to fit.
  2. Cook pudding with milk as directed, using only 2 1/2 cups of milk.
  3. Allow to cool; spread over graham crackers in pan.
  4. Beat cream, sugar and vanilla until stiff. Spread over pudding.
  5. Top with second layer of whole graham crackers, trimming to fit.
  6. Mix icing sugar and milk together well. It needs to be fairly thin (add more milk if necessary). Spread over cracker layer.
  7. Melt chocolate with butter (in microwave). Drizzle over top. 
  8. Chill. Let stand overnight before serving.

Cut into squares & enjoy!

Now you can go and make dessert
...and I better get packing.

We are off to Arizona tomorrow, if I manage to get myself organized by then!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

the chief...

Every farm needs a dog...at least one. We have had a wonderful Alaskan malamute on the farm for many years, and he has been the best! He came to us in a temporary arrangement when Ron & Mary Ellen (sister) moved to Manitoba in 1998. We reluctantly agreed to keep him until they bought a home out there...we already had a dog at the time and weren't really wanting two.

However, he quickly wormed his way into our hearts and lives and we've never let him go! When the time came for Chief to make the big move to the prairies, we made Ron & Mary Ellen an offer they couldn't refuse, and Chief has been our loyal and faithful friend all these years.

Chief has had many brushes with death over the years, but he's a real survivor. In his first few weeks with us, he (unknown to us) rode along with a cattle trailer into the city where he ran about in the traffic, totally bewildered. It was only by 'coincidence' that we figured out what had happened and went looking for him. In his first year on our farm, he had three close calls with death. It seemed impossible to keep this dog safe in his new environment!

The point of this story is that today is a sad day for us, as Chief is being put down. He had a tough winter last year, but pulled himself together when summer rolled around. As he is nearing his 13th birthday, things are rapidly going downhill, and we think the kindest thing for us to do is say our good-byes and not allow him to suffer.

I just stopped by the farmyard to say my last farewell. The vet was already there...but where was Chief? He was spending his last minutes with my dad...who had come to work in his shop today. It was a sad time for Dad too...he always had a soft spot for Chief! He was such a kind and gentle dog, despite his size...very loyal and affectionate. We will miss him a lot, and we will always have good memories of our Chief who came for a visit and stayed forever!

Chief with the gang...Dec. '99

On our front porch...Dec. 2004

He didn't have much use for the neighbour's cats...our own he tolerated.

Twelve years old...Dec. 10, 2006

He will be fondly remembered...our Chief!

December 10, 1994- October 23, 2007

Monday, October 22, 2007

when we all get together...

We don't need any excuses for family gatherings...but yesterday we had a few good ones. Heidi was celebrating her birthday and cousin Gillian (my niece) was out for the weekend from Manitoba. We had a potluck appetizer and dessert night here last night and had such a fun time!

The girls had been looking forward to Gillian's visit for a long time...they even dreamt about her last week. When they heard she was coming out for a basketball tournament, they thought maybe we could all go watch her play. What a disappointment that she would just be a spectator this time, and not out on the floor racking up the fouls! We wish you all the best at the Brandon University, Gillian...it doesn't sound like the studies are interfering with your social life.

We enjoyed a great smorgasbord of appetizers (forgot to take pic's of that!)...it's always fun when everyone brings something. Heidi loves sushi...so Broni brought a platter. I have to admit that I finally gave in and tasted sushi. I somehow thought maybe I could get through life without ever trying it and no one would notice. It was OK...what can I say?

Oh yes...and it seems there was some important game happening yesterday that couldn't be missed! When Dad arrived, he was wondering if we weren't planning on watching the ball game...he had been hoping it would be on. OK...why not? We had enough commentators on hand, so no sound was necessary!

The choir sang..."Happy Birthday, Dear Heidi", she opened her gifts, and now she's ready to face another year! Actually, we really do sound like a choir and once in awhile we sing more than 'Happy Birthday" or "Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow". I'll let you know when we cut our first CD.

I made Heidi a soft, furry throw cushion and wrapped it up with a few other things to tickle the senses...thanks for the idea, Vee. (taste...Lindt chocolate; see...framed foto; hear...CD; smell...a lovely miniature rose that actually never had much 'smell';...and the cushion for feel)

I have no idea whether or not the right team won last night...but there'll always be another game. Young and old, it was so good to all be together. It's called family!

It seems my feet are sticking to the floor today...so I better go look after that.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

happy birthday, daughter of mine...

Happy birthday to Heidi...who's not thirty yet!

Life’s much too short...the years fly past,
My little girl grew up too fast!

Here's how Heidi ended her autobiography in the seventh grade: As you can see, my life has not been boring...in fact, it has been very exciting. "I know not what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future", and that is true. I plan to live for many more years, and to write about them again.

So true...your life has not been boring! I'm so glad God chose you to be my daughter...we have made so many wonderful memories together over the years. May you always have confidence in Who holds your future!

Special Aunt ...written by Heidi age 12

Even though I love all my uncles and aunts dearly, I have one aunt who is very special to me ...my aunt Martha. We share the same birthday and have many other things in common. Although we don't talk very often since she lives in Kelowna, I often receive packages from her in the mail. In them are nuts and chocolates from Purdy's. I love her very much.

Happy Birthday to that special aunt...Martha!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

what a treat...

My Valentine's gift from my hubby was a gift certificate to The Wild Orange Spa. I was thrilled when I opened the card...a wonderful gift! But now it's only four months until Valentine's Day 2008, and I still had not used my gift card. I was waiting for the perfect time...I needed to have a few hours to spare and a good excuse to have a pedicure. So this was the day.

Do all spa days start off with a visit to the farm equipment dealership? Elmer thought if I was in the vicinity anyhow, I might as well pick up some parts for him at the tractor dealership. Why not? While I was here I picked up a few tractor books for Ryder...he will be thrilled!

And then it was off to Costco for a few things, since I was in the area. It seemed everyone in the valley decided that this was the day to visit Costco...it was raining and the schools had a Pro-D day. I was so looking forward to a relaxing time at the spa, but now I was anything but relaxed. Was I going to make it in time for my appointment?

When I saw the line-ups at the till, I was ready to abandon my cart. And how was it that I picked the shortest line-up and it took the longest? My shopping cart nearly became airborne as I raced back to the car...then a few red lights on the way...and eventually I arrived at spa. Now I could relax!

Wild Orange Spa...even the name is peaceful! And what a treat it was.

After a massage, my sister joined me for a pedicure, and we spent an hour gabbing while some lucky gals made our feet beautiful....at least they tried! What a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

And now I can actually say "thank-you" for a wonderful Valentine's gift!

Friday, October 19, 2007

another reason to smile...

Today is a school holiday...professional development day, or whatever. Emme & Spencer knew that meant they could stay up late last night, so they thought it was a good time to come to Grammy's for a sleepover. It was also the day we had picked to go shopping for our Operation Christmas Child gifts. There may have been a wicked storm brewing outside, but we had a whole lot of fun filling up our shopping cart with gifts we were sure two girls in some poor country would be only to happy to receive this Christmas. By the time we ran from the store to the car with all our packages, we were drenched! Once we were back home, they hopped into their pj's and next thing I knew they were modelling outfits from the 'tickle trunk'. A bridal veil & and apron...what could that be? "Queen of the kitchen"...I guess. They are so fun!

After dinner we packed up our shoe boxes and the girls each made a card to include with their gift. We snuggled on the couch to watch 'Buzz & Poppy'...and the evening was gone before we knew it. Bedtime prayers included all of the family...'and don't forget the girls who will be getting our shoe boxes this Christmas!'

So let the wind blow & the rain come down...it was warm inside this house.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

what makes me smile?

So what makes me smile?

When I count my blessings, I really do have a lot of things to smile about.

Here’s a few…

~having my family together makes me smile…and quite often makes me laugh. We do have a good time together!

~my grandkids can always make me smile. They are just the best. I have a plaque that says, “grandchildren are the best thing about growing old”. How true!

~the smell of fresh-baked bread.

~a good time together with friends (and maybe a cup of coffee or two!)

~going for a hike on a beautiful day.

~the view from my front porch.

~my hubby singing bass.

~my little garden. How can one little plant produce so many tomatoes?

~the smell of freshly mown hay (there’s a few other smells around here that don’t make me smile, but we won’t mention those today!).

~laughing with my sisters…the good ole’ days are so much funnier now than they were then!

~lying out in the sun with a good book...that sounds like a vacation!

~travelling...and making plans to travel (speaking of which, we are leaving next week).

I was given a ‘You Make Me Smile’ award by Vee the other day. I’m honoured…and so glad I could make you smile! I gather the idea is that I pass this award along to people whose blogs have been an inspiration and encouragement. Let’s just say I’m passing it along to all of you that I visit; you know who you are (I leave my tracks!).

But if you would like to see the blog that has been the greatest inspiration to me, visit Lovella at “What Matters Most”. I googled ‘paska’ and found Lovella! She made me smile…her life is an open book, where she is so open about sharing the goodness of God. She posted a retrospective on her first anniversary of blogging yesterday…check it out! I decided that if that’s what blogging looked like, maybe I could do that in some shape or form.

So for almost two months I’ve been having fun recording the everyday events of my life on my blog…mostly things that make me smile. And if I can pass a smile along to you, that makes it worthwhile.

* * * * *
So here’s what I want to do, with God’s help: Take my everyday, ordinary life—my eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God. Romans 12:1 The Message

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

apple pancakes

It's apple season and I love apple baked goods. I was planning to share an apple torte recipe, but since we had apple pancakes yesterday, I'll pass that one along instead.

We are so fortunate to have a brother-in-law who has an apple orchard in the Okanagan and is so generous with his apples. I'm not always sure what variety they are...but these are mostly Gala's. I couldn't resist picking up a few of these massive Honeycrisp apples at the produce market yesterday...they are crisp, juicy, sweet and taste like the old-fashioned apples that grew on our farm when I was a kid.

Here's an apple-iscious recipe for a cool & crisp fall day. It's one of my old favorites and I have no idea where it originated...something I clipped out of the 'Country Life' paper once upon a time, I think.

Apple Pancakes:
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup coarsely grated apple
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, melted
  1. Mix dry ingredients.
  2. Stir in apple.
  3. Combine eggs, milk and butter;
  4. add dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  5. Pour small amounts onto lightly greased hot griddle
  6. and cook until bubbles form on the surface;
  7. turn and brown on the other side.
  8. Serve with hot apple cinnamon sauce and whipped cream.

Hot Apple Cinnamon Sauce:
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup grated apple
  • 1/4 cup butter
  1. Combine sugar, juice, and cinnamon and boil to a heavy syrup over medium heat (about 5 minutes).
  2. Stir in butter and apple...cook another minute or so.
Serve with whipped cream..and some sautéed Mennonite farmer sausage, and call it a meal! (I even found a few raspberries out in the garden yet...surprising since it is getting on in October!)
I often do half the recipe if it's just for the two of us. But I got a little carried away here, and did the whole batch. So I ate way too much & I'll have to think of 101 ways to serve day-old apple pancakes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

hydrangea happiness

It's time for the last hurrah for the hydrangeas! They are still putting on a beautiful display, when most of the summer flowers are looking really tired.

I love hydrangeas...my favorite flower, I think. I'm told you should surround yourself with things you love...that make you smile...maybe that's why I have hydrangeas in nearly every room.

Here's a bunch of dried hydrangeas that have been hanging around for a few years...along with a some other things that have been around for awhile.

We planted a hydrangea hedge last year, so I will always have a plentiful supply and a ready hostess gift when we're invited out...a bouquet of hydrangeas in an Ikea vase (I have a stockpile of those that were on for $1.50 each at the time).

They are the perfect flower for me. I put them in a vase with water and two months later, they still look great! The water is long gone, and they have dried beautifully. I keep them through the winter and next year I start over.

Here's my very favorite one...Limelight Hydrangea. It opens up a creamy, lime colour and by this time of the year it's pink.

No need for bows around here...from June until December I can find a shade of hydrangea to match any gift.
This is one of my lacecap hydrangeas...

And even the foliage is looking bright and cheerful these days.

So I just thought I'd share my favorite blooms with you today...'cuz they make me smile.

And here's a bouquet for Vee who gave me the 'You Make Me Smile' award today. Thank-you, my blogging friend! I have no idea where I found you, but I'm going to keep you.

And to each of you who have stopped by for a visit, cut a few hydrangeas to take home...and be sure to come visit again.