Friday, February 29, 2008

happy 'leap day'!

So if you've been thinking there aren't enough hours in your day...this one's for you. It's a do with as you please! Today you will twenty-four extra hours, which come your way only once every four make the most of them.

In light of the fact that I'd have an extra day to catch up on this month's obligations...and since the sun was shining yesterday...and since my good friend Marg was back from skiing and not quite ready to leave on her next vacation...and since I really needed to check out my new pedometer...I took yesterday afternoon off and Marg I went for a stroll along the river (let's call it a brisk stroll!)

It wasn't meant to be a bird watching experience, but I noticed that every picture was of the birds. It was a beautiful afternoon...and I'm so glad we took advantage of the weather because this morning we have grey skies and drizzle.

Following our walk we stopped by Starbucks for a coffee...and I tried out something new. I'm not great on sweet coffees, so the caffe misto fit the bill (half coffee/half steamed milk). So my bonus day is already spent...and I have a few things that I need to accomplish today.

Tradition has it that February 29th is ladies I am choosing to go see 'Bucket List' tonight with my my hubby. One needs a good laugh on occasion!

Have a wonderful bonus day!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

the treasured chest...

My cedar chest is a treasure in itself. When I got married, my mother-in-law thought it was not quite fair that each of her daughters had a one...but her son had to do without. So I willingly accepted a cedar chest on his behalf as a gift from my dear mother-in-law. And many of the items within are treasures which were lovingly hand-made by her. The grandma slippers and everyone's favorite knit dishcloths have all but disappeared over the years...but nobody seemed too interested in the old linens. Until now that is...

Many of the items have little notes on them ( i.e. made by Grandma for Heidi during a hospital stay...March 1994). Heidi decided it was time to visit the cedar chest and reclaim all the vintage linens that were rightfully hers. I agreed...on the condition that I first take a few pictures.

She has a set of vintage tea towels... for each day of the week.

This pair of heirloom pillowcases is trimmed with lace made by great-grandma Pauline Tessman.

And here's a few pieces that Heidi won't be taking home anytime soon! I re-claimed a window from our old barn and used it to frame some vintage linens & lace. It hangs in an alcove where I plan to display historic family photos one day.

So here's my advice...don't listen to those who tell you to chuck out anything you haven't used in six months. If you keep it long becomes a treasure!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Copykat Rice Pudding

It's not all that difficult to serve up dishes at home that taste just like they came from your favorite restaurant. Just pop on over to Copykat Recipes, to find recipes for anything from Appelbee's Outback Steakhouse's Bloomin' Olive Garden's Hot Artichoke and Spinach Dip. How fun is that?

Heidi (my dear daughter) called me a few weeks ago to see if I had any recipes that resembled the rice pudding we used to have at our local Pantry Restaurant. It was a rice pudding like no other...a creamy baked pudding, served warm...topped with a vanilla custard, smothered in whipping cream and sprinkled with cinnamon. It was big enough to feed the whole table...or the Heidi and I! We discovered that not all Pantry Restaurants are created equal, however! We were once out of town on a shopping trip & decided to treat ourselves to a rice pudding treat at the nearest Pantry. What a disappointment when the same menu item (at the same price) came in a little bowl that was hardly sufficient for the two of us. Well, that was many years ago. The Pantry no longer serves rice pudding...and I no longer go there.

But where would I find a rice pudding recipe that was comparable to the one we used to enjoy? It seems that had never heard of the Pantry...much less their rice pudding. So I went to my own test kitchen and here is what I came up with.

Creamy Rice Pudding

4 cups milk
1/2 cup pearl rice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla

Place milk, rice & salt in the top half of a double boiler.

Cover and cook over boiling water for about 1 hour, or until rice is soft.
Beat egg and sugar together.
Stir 1/2 cup of the cooked pudding into the egg and sugar.
Then add egg mixture to cooked pudding along with raisins, cinnamon & nutmeg.

Cook for about 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Cool slightly and serve warm.

(Also required to make this dessert extra special...your favorite cooked vanilla pudding & whipped cream.)

To Serve:

Spoon a generous layer of warm rice pudding over serving plate.

Spread a thin layer of prepared vanilla pudding over the rice pudding.

Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

So we had an afternoon tea party a few weeks back (the girls and I) and tested the copykat rice pudding. The serving sizes were rather ample...and let's just say we didn't really need dinner that night! And since this whole rice-pudding-exercise was at Heidi's request, I thought I should pass along the recipe for her...and anyone else who might be interested.

And if it all sounds like WAY too much work, but you are craving rice pudding...

...try the Kozy Shack rice pudding found in the dairy section of your supermarket. It is yummy...I have no problem eating the entire tub on my own! As you can tell, I'm not on a low-carb diet.

And I have a new pedometer. Thanks to cousin Lynn from Trail, B.C. for sending me to Walmart for a pedometer with security strap...made by Sportline and selling for $12.99. I bought the last one at our local now I plan to step it up once again.
Enjoy the day....and have some rice pudding!

spring is in the air!

If you live in a farming community, the air has a familiar (and not so pleasant) smell at this time of the year. It's time to clean out the pits after a winter of it's not a good time to be hanging laundry on the line!

The pansies are blooming, as well as the heathers...and I was outside yesterday cutting off all the winter grasses, since they are beginning to send up some new leaves.
I looked up to see some heifers kicking up their heels in the field next to our house. Oh...oh! They obviously thought winter had lasted long enough and they were ready for spring. Since there are no fences, they had truly discovered freedom. I went to protect our lawn and within minutes the guys arrived for the round-up!

I decided to run for my camera instead of running after the cattle...seeing as the grass was covered in a layer of fresh manure.

The first few obediently crossed the road to return to our neighbours barn (from whence they arrived)...

...but a couple of young gals decided they would milk their adventure for all it was worth, and made a quick get-away.

It's more fun to watch than to participate...I know from experience! Eventually the round-up was over, and we all went back to our spring tasks.

I must get back out there and finish what I started yesterday...because the rain is coming. First I will go for my morning walk...still no pedometer. Does anyone have a recommendation as to a brand? I've already bought two in 2008, which have both gone missing...and I'm a little reluctant to invest in more disposable pedometers!

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, February 25, 2008

brighten your day....

By now I know many of you are very tired of winter! Are you looking for something to brighten your day?

We've had a little more snow than normal, but for the most part our west coast winters are pretty mild. I don't think I'd do so well out on the prairies...or in the mid-west. I had an e-mail and a few snow pic's from my sister-in-law, Jeanne, in Iowa this morning. Here's what they are dealing with....

....Kiley and Andrew are actually standing on the barn roof. I'm sure they are quite thankful the hog barns are empty this winter!

I'm ready for spring! We just had a week of sunshine and warm temperatures...I actually got outside and started to do a little gardening. And we moved our bistro table onto the back patio yesterday, so we could have lunch out in the sun. It was 13 degrees (that's 66'F), and felt rather like we were in California.

And just to extend the California feeling, we had fresh squeezed orange juice for breakfast! My hubby doesn't spend much time in the kitchen, but loves making orange juice (with a Bosch citrus juicer).

Our banker was making a house call first thing this morning...we were thinking a little fresh squeezed OJ and a good interest rate on our business loan may just go hand-in-hand!

The oranges have been wonderful since Christmas, and we have gone through many a sack. We picked up a bag from a roadside stand on our California trip last week, and I had a good chuckle when I read the label this morning (you can tell that I never read the packaging...if it looks good, I buy it!)

We paid $5 for the bag and enjoyed several oranges each day since...this morning we made a whole pitcher of juice with 9 oranges. (As I recall, a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice is $5 at the fine restaurants.) And what could be better than fresh-squeezed orange juice to share with friends and family...or a banker on a winter's (almost over) day?

I'm on my way out to enjoy the sunshine...

but if it's still winter at your place, try some fresh California oranges to brighten up your day!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

His faithfulness...

The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

February 24, 1995 began as any other day (thirteen years ago today). It was Friday and we made plans to go out for dinner with good friends that evening. Winter was nearing an end…and we were looking forward to a vacation in Hawaii soon. Life was good…there was so much to look forward to!

Our friends stopped by that evening, and we hopped into their car and headed towards town. We had a lot to talk about…and the last thing I recall of our conversation during that fateful ride were the words, “Look out , I don’t think he’s stopping!” I turned my head to the left and saw the headlights at the same moment as we were broadsided by a truck, which had failed to stop at the stop sign. The next few moments have replayed themselves in my mind in slow motion so many times over the years. After the initial impact our car became airborne, and a shower of thousands of tiny pieces of glass sailed through the air with us…illuminated by headlights and sparkling like a shower of stars. The car came to rest in a field and then all was deathly quiet.

Life changed for us at that moment! The following hours, days and weeks are something of a blur, but Elmer spent the next part of his life in the spinal cord unit of Vancouver General Hospital and came home in a body cast. It was a difficult time, but God was good! Today is an anniversary that I never forget...I remember to thank God for His goodness.

God hasn't promised skies that are always blue or a life without pain...but he has promised to give us strength for each day.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

It's Her Day!

The first born...the responsible one. Meet my big sister, Bev!

She was the one charged with keeping me safe when we were kids...and suffering the consequences when she repeatedly failed to do so!

We shared a bedroom and our toys.

Later she gave me haircuts, and sewed a lot of my clothes. We picked berries together every summer, and then went on a shopping spree to the big city to spend our hard earned dollars.

We listened to my little green transistor radio and knew the lyrics to every song. We sang along in beautiful harmony (well, we thought so anyhow!). Mary Hopkins got a little help from us as she sang.

Those were the days, my friend

We thought they'd never end...

And all too soon those days were over! Bev became a nurse...travelled the world...and moved to South Texas. For more than twenty years she worked tirelessly at an orphanage in Reynosa, Mexico to make a better home life for children in need. Two of those children wormed their way into her heart and home, and now call her 'mom'. She became an American citizen (who would have thought?), quit driving Fords, and took on a management position in a urology clinic.

So many years have passed and everything has changed...but some things will always stay the same. You are forever my big sister and my friend...and today you are celebrating your birthday. Wish I could join you for the day...we could visit South Padre Island once again!

I guess I'll just settle for a piece of cake in honour of the occasion.

Have a wonderful birthday!

Friday, February 22, 2008

the end of the road...home!

We left Eugene, Oregon early yesterday morning, and (with a few pit stops along the way) arrived at the border crossing late afternoon. Our four day road trip/extended date to California was nearing an end. Although it may appear that I have done nothing but sit and watch the world flash by for the last few days, I actually accomplished a few things while I was away.

As those familiar mountain peaks came into view...

I finished off a pink baby afghan, and am now ready for my little granddaughter's arrival.

Kris and Lisa are meeting regularly with specialists at B.C. Women's Hospital and preparing for the birth of their little trisomy 13 daughter in just over one month's time. I am fearful...and yet at peace about her arrival--we know God is in control!

And I've been busy embroidering bunnies...lots of bunnies!

Easter's coming, and bunnies seemed an appropriate subject to hone my embroidery skills. I haven't embroidered anything for over twenty years, and had no recollection of how to do a 'daisy stitch', etc. So let's just say these are free-style bunnies!

As my hands were busy, I had a crash course in American politics--compliments of Rush Limbaugh! I'm just thankful that my vote is not required, since it's all about as clear as mud. We don't listen to Rush on the Canadian airwaves--he is quite entertaining despite his obvious political viewpoints.

The Twizzlers and peanuts are gone--the book of Sudoku puzzles will have to go on another road trip. It may have been a business trip...but I'd call it a pleasure!

And (as always) it's good to be home again.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

back on the road again...

Yesterday morning we hit the road as the sun poked through the clouds.

I was beginning to wonder whether I would in fact be seeing any palm trees on this trip, when I spotted one beside the road...

...rather a poor excuse for a palm tree, but I thought it may be the only one I would see!

By lunchtime we had reached our destination...Danco Trailers in Turlock, California. While hubby did his truck & silage box research, I amused myself in the car (I'm reading a book by Randy Alcorn called Deadline...a novel which raises a lot of questions about eternity). It was determined that the truck would fit the bill perfectly, except for the fact that they could not have it ready for us by the time we would need it on the farm this spring. No final decision has been reached, but we have a few days to give it some thought.

Meanwhile, we decide to take the 'road less traveled' for a time and take in some of northern California's beautiful scenery.

We passed by several reservoirs, with extremely low water levels...we are wondering whether there is a water shortage in the area.

We passed by the 'cattle on a thousand hills'...

...and noticed mile upon mile of dry-stack rock fences which have withstood the forces of nature many years!

Oak trees and rock far as the eye could see!

Deer grazed beside the road...

...and wild turkeys scooted about nearby.

Our scenic drive led us to Angel's Camp, which is an old gold-mining town near Yosemite National Park.
We checked into a quaint resort for the night...

and took the time to walk about this morning.

We also met another group of Canadian tourists enjoying a morning walk!

It was soon time to begin the long trip home. For the first few hours we again travelled on secondary highways...

...there's so much more to see and it's so much easier to stop!

We detoured through a few historic towns...and marveled at the wonderful old buildings and cemeteries.

Once we reached Sacramento, we were back on Highway 5 heading north...

...and soon were in the mountains. The sun was shining...there was snow at the summit and we so enjoyed our drive!

Mt. Shasta was magnificent!

In the evening watched the eclipse of the moon...we couldn't have had a better view!

And as we drove, we sang along with Brian Doerksen...

How can they say there is no God
When all aound creation calls?