Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Birthday and 2008 Memories

It's hard to believe, but our little baby turns 13 today. She has been a joy to us all those years. I would certainly recommend her as the White House dog as she is hypoallergenic, no shedding and just lots of in your face love. We had a beagle prior to her for 17 years so longevity comes with our household. Happy Birthday, Kippy! We rescued you from a trampy life in Winona, Minnesota all those years ago. It's a good thing!

I have also been thinking of the highlights of 2008 as this year comes to an end. At the top would definitely have to be my high school class reunion in August. Such wonderful people I grew up with since most of us started in kindergarten together. Dear friend Connie housed me for the weekend and it was so good rejuvenating our friendship. I truly have not laughed so much in many, many years.

Our trip to France in May would follow as a highlight. The Trout and I simply love France even though we still do not know the language well enough to converse, but we do know how to order our food and drink and read a menu. That is great because a second trip to Le Presidial restaurant in Sarlat was just as wonderful as the first time.

Being able to spend the summer in Montana at 7000 ft. altitude once again was such a refreshing delight. We love it there in the mountains among the trout!! Having a wonderful anniversary meal at Pearl's Cafe in Missoula, as we do every year was very memorable.

Reuniting with family and friends in Wisconsin is always fun. Spending time with our four grandchildren in Ohio and Wisconsin was a top highlight. They are growing up so quickly. Can't imagine life without grandchildren.

Lunching with my cousins in Iowa was great! We rarely get together and we had many laughs and some tears. Seeing my only and favorite brother in North Carolina was wonderful. We just have not had the chance to be together much since childhood.

Starting this blog in October has been the most fun. It keeps me sharp (lol) and always thinking. I feel it is a journal for the future. And, my goodness, have I made bloggers friends. My world is so much smaller.

And last, I would have to say a highlight of this year has been the many wonderful meals The Trout and I have cooked together. It's been a lot of fun.

I guess I have to finish with another memorable event even though it certainly was a lowlight for me. I broke my ankle slipping on a frosty step on August 20 in Montana. The very next day I flew to my class reunion. It was painful and difficult but it turned out to be such a wonderful weekend.

I am thankful to each and everyone of you who read my blog. I feel I am sharing my life with friends that I can't be with everyday. I love that. Thanks and keeping visiting.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


The snowbirds are coming back. That is what they call us retired people who spend summers somewhere else and always come back to Florida for the winters where we are guaranteed warmer weather. We've been back since October, but some hold out until after the holidays. Friends that just arrived this weekend said the traffic throughout Georgia was very heavy heading south.

We live in Florida 8-9 months a year and then usually travel abroad in May and spend time in Montana in the summer. We have spent as much as 4 months out West in past years.

I started thinking about how many cities and towns we have lived in and the number comes to 9. In each of these places you meet people, make dear friends, need to find doctors, dentists, barbers.... oh yes, did I tell you the story of looking for someone to cut my hair and I find a blind barber. Well, he was legally blind, with some? eyesight, but my hair has never been easy to work with so I figured I had nothing to lose. Talk about pressure! And then he wanted to do some coloring. No charge, he said? Hey, I'm a push over. The only stress was that my class reunion was in a week and I would be checked out and noticed. Long story short, it worked out okay. The haircut certainly wasn't the best and the color was something I do not normally do. Yes, the blind barber, and I found him!!

I got off track there, but was just itching to get that blind barber story in. The year is coming to an end and it is time to make another list of things to do better in 2009. Let's see what I come up with.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

It's Quiet Now, Too Quiet

The house is quiet now. The children and grands have left to go back home. The house has been dusted and vacuumed and everything back in place and it is sort of lonely. I just can't imagine a wonderful holiday like Christmas to be without children of any age.

There were many hugs, smiles, laughs and games. Special prayers around the table and just lots of love. You can't ask for anything better.

The Trout got his Red Velvet or Waldorf Astoria cake for Christmas. This is a yearly request for his January birthday, so he was happy! It disappeared quickly.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas Dinner

Our traditional Christmas family dinner included prime rib roast, twice-baked potatoes and my sour cream and bacon salad dressing. We started out with Peach Bellini's with champagne (ginger ale for the boys) and a wonderful California cab with the beef. The Trout's favorite Red Velvet Cake is for dessert and if there is any left, I'll post that tomorrow.
Daughter Angie and husband Mike and our grandsons, Noah and Josiah were our dinner guests. I wish all our family and friends could have been here today. Let's plan on next year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas Eve

Be it ever so humble, the Christmas spirit is here and sending love to all family and friends. May we remember the reason for Christmas and keep it in our hearts. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Grand Boys

Two of our grandsons with mom and dad and best friend, Jeter, came down for Christmas week. The boys immediately rushed to the back yard and started casting for fish. We have some bass living in the pond behind us and they love casting and hoping for a bite. They have been very fortunate to catch several and put them back to be caught again.

It is good having family come visit us at this special time of the year. Enjoy your families because a lot of us can't be together as often as we would like.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My childhood home

I grew up in a house that my grandfather grew up in and my father lived in his entire life. It was an untypical house, because it really was two homes in one. My Oma and Opa had their home downstairs with complete kitchen, and mom and dad and brother and I lived upstairs with a beautiful kitchen my parents remodeled in the 1950's.

Both mom and Oma were excellent cooks, but I always had the chance to eat at either table depending on what sounded best for the day. Quite often they cooked together also.

We had three bedrooms upstairs and one bathroom and one living room, large dining area and a beautiful large kitchen. More than enough room for all of us. If you look at the house, it also had a complete attic where you could stand up in the middle of the attic and then the walls slanted down on each side. Everything you can imagine was kept. In the complete basement was the laundry room, lines to hang clothes in the winter, a canning pantry, a work bench area and Opa and Dad's wine cellar. They made grape and rhubarb wine every year and it just smelled good down there.

As a child, I remember a hedge taller than me running along the sidewalk for privacy. My Oma was a very private person and this was her design. There also were two trees which I remember they called "Trees of Paradise". But now as I am older, I think they were a kind of sumac. The front of the house was also covered with English ivy. I can remember the sparrows would build nests in it and it was such a wonderful sound to have the windows open in the summer and hear the birds chirping. My mother then heard that the ivy actually eats away the mortar of the bricks, so this all came down also. Then, there was a very large pine planted on the right side of the house. It got extremely large, and I see now the new owners we sold it to in 2001, have removed this tree. The front of the house seems rather bare to me now, but it is no longer my home.

I haven't had a new picture of my old home for many years, so when my childhood friend volunteered to take a picture when she was there at Thanksgiving, I was very grateful to have this for my grandchildren. Thank you for the picture, Lee, at

On the right is another house which looks like it is attached. It is not, but it is so close you can't put a finger between the houses. Such an unusual design and reason for many people to take pictures of it. In my father's childhood, this house next door was attached by a porch in the back and this was the Beck Bakery. Might be the reason my Oma and mom never baked bread.

There is a very large back yard that still houses the old wash house, a place for wood storage and even an outhouse that has not been used since 1950. That building also has an attic and housed more of our things. Behind this were peach trees and an actual apple orchard with at least 3 dozen trees. Guess what my job was in the fall?

It is fitting that I receive the picture of my childhood home now, in the Christmas season. It is actually bittersweet. Merry Christmas to all.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Our Home

Our home is one of the most open houses we've ever owned. It is not cut up into little rooms and we are enjoying the freedom of the openness.

Last night while preparing dinner, The Trout decided to take a picture from the kitchen through the dining area into the living area. It makes for good room for entertaining and easy cleaning. I do have two friends who are interior decorators, so I hesitate to let them see this; but then, maybe they would have some great ideas for me!!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


My outdoor poinsettia is not quite as bright as usual for this time of year. We had quite a cold snap a couple of weeks ago, but now with 80 degrees every day this week, we are finally seeing the beauty of this plant. It was foggy and dewy this morning and you can see that on the leaves. It just seems to make Christmas a little prettier.

The lights are glowing brighter also, because one daughter and family will be coming down to spend Christmas with us. Hopefully next year, our other daughter and family will be able to make the trip.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Another ancient grain

I am so excited, because we found another ancient grain and used it in a salad and it is just screaming "healthy!" Have you eaten quinoa, pronounced keen-wah? It is an ancient grain which is delicately flavored and was a staple in the Incas' diet. It is a "complete" protein and we eat it fairly often.

Tonight, put it in a salad with a vinaigrette of orange juice, cilantro, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and added diced mango, red pepper, scallions and black beans. It was so very good. Went great with grilled chicken on the charcoal grill.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


This morning in church, our pastor had a wonderful sermon entitled, "Why Doesn't God Do Something?"

He made many fine points but always came back to the question that so many people constantly ask. When something tragic happens, we ask "Why?" When things are not going our way, we ask "Why?" And then, he asked all those who have had miracles in their lives answered with prayer to stand. Everyone silently stood. Not one was left seated. You see, God does answer prayers and miracles do happen.

I saw this work in our lives when our second grandson was born with a heart defect. He had to be on several medications to keep his blood pressure under control and to keep his little heart ticking. The entire church at that time prayed, and prayed continuously for little Josiah. And slowly, but surely, his heart improved and the hole in his heart grew smaller and smaller so to this day, he is a healthy 9 1/2-year-old. That was my miracle and we all feel so blessed that this beautiful child is now a healthy young boy. Love you, Josiah!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Farro Salad

Several years ago on a trip to Italy, many times we came across farro on the menu. We did not know what it was, but we are always willing to try something new. We found it in soups, salads, and as side dishes. It was very good and reminded us somewhat of barley, but more flavorful. Farro was cultivated in the ancient world and is just now becoming popular again, especially in Italy.

With that memory in mind, we found we could order farro on the Internet from Chef Shop. So last night, we made a farro salad that we just could not stop eating. We cooked the farro in salted water and after it cooled, added chopped tomatoes, radishes, onions, parsley, chives, garlic and tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette made with olive oil. Very, very good. If by chance you are willing to give it a try and have a difficult time finding farro, barley can be substituted, but I doubt it would taste as good.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Just great bread

My good friend, Gloria, is quite a bread baker. She bakes several kinds and she was the one who alerted me to the No Knead Bread. It was in the NY Times a couple of years ago, but somehow I missed all the fun. Well, just couldn't let this slip by again since I love crusty bread like you find in Europe. Unless you live in large cities like New York, it is almost impossible to find wonderful crusty bread in America. But now, the layman can make it at home.

It does take planning because you start it the day before, but if you have not tried this, you really should. It turned out a little flat for me, but will try to use a smaller baking pot next time to make it loftier. Oh YUM. Pass the butter!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Take me out to the ballgame"

It is exciting news! Just got our mail from the Detroit Tigers. They do their spring training down here in Lakeland and they are sending out their spring schedule for us to buy tickets. In Tampa we have the NY Yankees and the Cleveland Indians are also nearby. We try to go to at least 3 games each March. It is a lot of fun and exciting to see the big name ballplayers.

Now only how many weeks until March!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

My dad

I've been thinking about my dad a lot the last few days. He was a tall, gentle man and I don't remember him ever raising his voice to me--even after I dented his car as a teenager and slid into the ditch on an icy road.

Dad died in 1996 at the age of 84. He is missed a lot. Twelve years ago, after he died, I got his wrist watch. He was a Shriner and the watch face has a Shriner fez on it. It was very proud of that watch. It has been in my jewelry box these last 12 years. Every once in a while, I pick it up to look at it and every time I do, the second hand starts to move. The battery has not been replaced. It just seems very strange to me after all these years, but it really means a lot, as if dad is watching over me. Thanks daddy.

Monday, December 8, 2008


About 15 years ago, we moved from one town to another with my husband's job transfer. By this time, the children were out of the house so it was time to declutter. We actually rented a dumpster and started throwing things away. It felt good at the time. We still had lots to move and the new house had a lot of storage in the garage, so some boxes were put in storage there.

Forward six years, and The Trout and I retire and start our move to Florida. You know those boxes in the garage for the last 6 years; well, they had not been opened. So, in a very brave move I said "If I don't know what's in them and I haven't wanted to know for 6 years, toss them!" And so we did.

Now forward 10 years from that tossing of boxes and this week alone, I have been thinking about two items and wondering where they are. Sure enough, they were probably in those tossed boxes. It's not that important. I have the memory and I am sure during the next few years, more items will be remembered and I will wonder were they are. At least I have decluttered and someday my children will be thankful for that move.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


We planned tonight's dinner for quite a while. Getting just the right ingredients takes patience, especially if you are not living in France. Tonight, we has Cassoulet with Italian sausage and duck confit. It was so good and reminded us of when we ate this in France in the past. We kind of tweek the recipe to suit what we can find, but it was so good. Along with a Spanish wine, it really hit the spot.

We went to a Father and Son golf tournament today near Orlando. It was a thrill to see Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus up close. They played with their grandson and son. These are men we have followed in golf since the 50's and they are still very good at what they do and kind, sweet gentlemen. Just wish they had had time to come over for Cassoulet with us.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Flashback

I just had flashback of junior high. Any of my old classmates out there and remembering this? I was working on a bulletin board with our 7th grade teacher. Coach was not only our teacher, but high school basketball and baseball coach. And, to a very young, innocent 13-year-old, he was a HUNK! Anyway, working on this bulletin board, I managed to staple my finger instead of the board. I saw this big hunking staple hanging out of my finger and I fainted. When I woke up, Coach was there holding me and I felt like it was a dream. Thus started my episodes of fainting.

Well, tonight, I had this flashback when I reached into the dishwasher and stabbed the palm of my hand with a knife. I have been putting my knives in the dishwasher with the blade up, because I have found that sometimes the blade slips through the holes in the basket and gets bent as the washer blade spins around. I didn't faint, but I certainly remembered as the blood started oozing.

One of the worst times for me to faint was during my husband's job interview. We were having dinner with the employer and his wife when I decided to faint. Had to be hauled off to the hospital by ambulance, EKG, the works, and found to be OK. So what did I say when I walked out of ER and faced the perspective employer and his wife? I said, "I wanted to make a lasting impression!" By the way, The Trout got the job!! Found out many years later it was a low blood sugar problem.

Thus, I am not able to give blood because it takes up to much time and it is very inconvenient. My number 1 daughter is a nurse, but number 2 daughter has trouble when they draw blood for blood work. She has fainted also. Sorry, Ang. Hope I didn't embarrass you. It must be inherited.

Can you smell it?

I love coffee, be it the black espresso of Italy, the thick, spoon will stand in the cup Austrian coffee, plain ol' American coffee or my favorite of late, French press coffee. I don't have an expensive French press, but this one works well for me.

Yesterday we were in Costco and they had set up a small coffee shop where they were selling these beans grown in Mexico. They are then sent to Texas to be roasted. We got the dark roast because that is the best in my opinion. This coffee is very good and very reasonably priced. In fact, this is the second pot today. I actually think the coffee has more caffeine than others, because I have more energy than normal.

Slip on over and and I'll keep it hot for you!!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Sandhill Cranes

Early in the morning, when Kippy and I go out for our first walk of the day, we are usually greeted by two locals who let us know that they are also waking up. They are the resident sandhill cranes. This pair has been here for years. They mate for life and usually lay one or two eggs per year. There are no babies following them this year and last year a beautiful little chick was learning how to find food from mom and dad and then one day, the chick was no longer seen. I can only imagine the alligators in the area got the chick. Possibly that is why there is no chick this year. I can only imagine the alligators got the egg. Survival of the fittest.

They make the loudest noise to let people know they are around and The Trout and I watched them one day while we were on the golf course. They were beating their beaks into the windows of a home on the golf course; just beating furiously as if saying "anyone in there have any good food?" We are told not to feed them because this behavior could really get out of hand.

They simple mosey along the roads and through the yards and usually golf balls are flying over their heads. They are in charge and will move when they are ready. It is not unusual for cars to brake until they cross the road. The sandhill cranes--it is what makes life beautiful.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


I love receiving mail, be it e-mail or USPS mail. Today, I received a DVD in the mail from my childhood friend and graduating classmate, Dave. He had gone to the trouble of making an absolutely beautiful DVD of our August class reunion. He included the fantastic music of 1963 along with photos of the past, even kindergarten photo, and photos of that fantastic reunion. Now that is what I call a true friend. Since we were 5 we were friends and through the years have kept in touch once in a while. Since this reunion, we are in touch more often, because we realize that time is passing quickly and friendship is more important than a lot of material things.

To Dave, I say a special thank you.l You are part of my extended family and you have just given me a wonderful remembrance of time gone by. It will now be remembered by my children and grandchildren. Won't they get a Hoot out of it?!!!

Monday, December 1, 2008

No more hurricanes this year

Our newspaper headlines today stated that our hurricane season is officially over for this year. It runs June 1 through November 30. This year we have been fortunate again to have missed the bad weather.

When we first moved to Florida from the Midwest, I remember seeing papers at the grocery stores in the spring telling you what to stockpile in our home in case of a hurricane. How much water, canned goods, candles, flashlights, batteries, etc., were necessary to survive at least a week of no electricity. I felt as if I had moved to another country. It reminded me of the time we were living in Germany and The Trout was in the Army. We had a list to follow also. We needed to pack canned goods and other necessities in a box, seal it, and have it ready to go in case of war and we get orders to move out to Switzerland. This was 1968 and Vietnam was roaring in the far east, so this really was quite a possibility. So, being someone who always follows rules, our box was packed and ready to go.

That first hurricane season in Florida, I did pack up a box and then after the season ended, we did start to use the products in that box and cleaned it out. The next several years, I did the same, but then when the storms were passing us over, I was not so diligent in packing supplies in case of emergency. Now, we usually are away from Florida for most of the hurricane season, so I do not have these emergency supplies.

It can be a scary time, but I think of all the tornadoes in the USA. How many people really have supply boxes packed for tornado season? Might not be a bad idea. It is really sad, but we are so dependant on electricity, we would be very uncomfortable living without it for a few days.