Showing posts from February, 2006

Monday's Asian Shopping and Eating

Pho 95 is my all time favorite restaurant. Pho is a wonderful
soup. Served with lots of noodles, some fresh bean sprouts and mint.
You choose what kind of meat you want added to the soup.
Now this particular Pho restaurant does not have forks so you had better
be good with chop sticks before you go there. The other Pho restaurant in the picture is good but not as good as Pho 95. A couple doors down from Pho Hung is a chinese pharmacist that has an amazing shop and a good knowlege of Chinese medicine, which I am a real believer in. Yes, yes, I know I am once again breaking out of the mold of being what people expect.
We shop often at Hong Kong Market for our food. I grew up with Chinese neighbors and much of my formative years were spent eating Chinese foods and learning about the culture. This love of Chinese foods and culture is deeply rooted in me. We know what to buy and how to fix it. My girls are well acqainted with all sorts of Asian foods. Melanies boy friend is thai and so no…

The Good Earth

The air is warm and dry today. Spring like with a gentle breeze. One apricot tree is beginning to bloom and the daffodils are delighting us with their little yellow bonnet heads. This morning when I woke long before the sun, I knew it was the day to plant. You can feel it in your bones when you have gardened as long as I have. Maybe its like the feeling you have in early spring when you have an overwhelming desire to drive with the windows open, let the wind blow your hair and perhaps that perfect old song comes on the radio that reminds you of your youth. You turn it up loud. Its a perfect mix, you just feel that spring is here.
I headed off to the store to buy some plants and met a man there, 83 years old. He asked me something about the blackberry bush he was holding. Said he just knew I would know what he wanted to know. He said my head covering and dress told him that. We chatted for a while and that while turned into over an hour. Just talking for an hour in the plant…

Saying Good-bye

It was so hard to say good-bye today to my daughter. My husband came home for lunch, then the girls and I headed for the airport. We had a tearful parting and then after we were on the road about 10 minutes Melanie's cell phone rang and it was Melissa, saying good-bye one more time. We all felt pretty down in the dumps.
Here is Melissa with my husband just before we left for the airport.
Each and every moment with our children is such a blessing. We feel so rich.

"New" Sewing Machine and About My Day

The day started off with sun, which was more than a welcome sight after a week of rain.
My husband and I headed off to church and were happy to see so many old friends visiting for the wedding weekend. Church service was very good and the visiting minister, Isaac Martin from California said something very profound in his sermon. He said, " Hard times either makes for hard feelings or hard work" and how true that is and how good to remind us to NOT choose the hard feelings as in the Christian life, there is no room for that. Hard work is good for a person too.
All during fellowship meal, my mind would wander and would think about the mounds and mounds of laundry waiting for me at home and hoping Monday would be as nice as today so that I could wash and hang up the last weeks worth of dirty clothes. Rain does not allow for hanging out laundry !
After the Fellowship meal we stopped by a friends house on the way home and she gave me her Aunts 1921 Singer treadle sewing machin…

New Dress

Some of you have asked that I share a picture of the dress I was making last week. Here it is. Same pattern that I have had for 15 years. You just make adjustments for weight changes, hopefully always having to make them smaller ! There was a wedding this weekend and so time to make a new dress. Church dresses in time become work dresses, after a bit of wear starts to show.
The dress is made to be modest in keeping with the Biblical command to be modest in dress. The top part has an added layer called a cape. It is loose fitting and certainly does not show off any shape. The length of the dress is mid calf or longer. At least 3/4 length sleeves. Neck opening is close to the neck. Amish have no zipper or buttons. Mennonites use the invisible zippers most often. Amish and some Mennonites use only solid color fabrics. Other Mennonites allow for small calico type prints. Amish like to use polyester knits. I like cotton !

Some Days Chores are Less Fun than Other Days

Some days chores are just a bit more of a challenge than other days. We have had rain or mist for an entire week now. Which is good since we are so behind on rainfall. However, all this rain makes doing chores a bit more of a chore. Take today for instance. It was time, over due really, to clean out the manure in the rabbit barn. Its a bit messier in wet conditions but certainly not as dusty. I grabbed my shovel and rake and went to work. Thinking all this rabbit stuff will be great for the roses. Now mind you I do all my farm chores in a dress, a long dress. I wear boots as you can see in the picture. Bright red ones, since red is my favorite color and also they are red for a practical reason. Everyone else in the family has black, so when my boots were black too, everyone was wearing mine and getting them all nasty. So if mine were different, they had no excuse for grabbing the wrong pair. Back to my chore of manure was a messy job to say the least but…


I am often asked about Amish and Mennonite cook books. So today I took a picture of some of my favorite ones. The Mennonite community Cookbook has many simple practical meals in it and how to cook for a barn raising ! The cookbook I use the most is the one in the upper left hand corner, Cooking From Quilt Country by Marcia Adams.
The photos in the book are wonderful. Its like a picture book too. Lots of good recipes in there that always get rave reviews when used. One such recipe in the book is for Oven Fried Chicken.

Cooking From Quilt Country by Marcia Adams
serves 4-5

This is the best fried chicken recipe I've tried, bar none. ITs is quick to prepare and doesn't require watching. The outside is crusty, and the inside is moist. The flour mixture can be made up in large amounts and stored to use as needed.

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cip (2/3 stick) butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon ga…

Rain on the Roof

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that we have had a severe drought in our part of Texas. Wildfires raged most of the fall and winter.
Today the sky looked rather odd for a bit. The clouds appeared as waves on a sea of gray sky. We kept looking around to see them from another direction. (In the picture the clouds show up better if you click the picture and make it bigger). It wasn't long before rain drops started to fall, sprinkles first and then in an hours time it was pouring rain. Everyone I saw was happy about the rain. The comments were all similar. "Good for the garden". "Good for the hay crop" and on and on. Even the mail man was happy to be delivering mail in the rain.
Poor little Fergus thought the rain was fun but he sure is a mess. Finally I put him in his pen and told him to STAY in his house. Not too sure he has listened.
Its a perfect night to curl up on the couch with a book by the woodstove. Lamp li…

More Thoughts on "The Good Old Days"

In the back of my mind all day today has been thoughts regarding the "Good Old Days". My son Steven took out the whole family for lunch today. He has a heart of gold. 21 years old and serious natured like a man. He sat there so happy to be treating us all to lunch and sitting next to his sisters, laughing and being "the big brother", even though he is younger than both of them. I was watching him and my husband and listening to their talk and hearing in their conversation, and watching in their mannerisms. They are really living proof that you can take the "good" from the "Good Old Days" and be a part of modern times. Neither of them use any slang, not one word. Not even the phrase "kids" for children. They both have old fashioned values and ethics. They work when they are sick, work when they are tired and don't say unkind things or have a temper. They cherish family and love God without feeling silly for doing so. Now, my husband…

Equal Time !

Mothers are always very aware of treating their children equally, and this week has been one of sharing pictures of my oldest daughter and I having fun. Melanie has been hard at work this week and missing out on all the fun and has not been in any of the photos I have shared. Melissa and I feel bad that she has not been able to be with us for all the fun. We have always done things together, all three of us ladies. The boys are never much interested in such adventures. Seems like they want to build things or eat home, my cooking.
I decided this morning that I need to post some pictures of Melanie so you can see her too. In one picture, Melanie is modeling the Renaissance outfit she made for the Renaissance Faire held in our area. Her closet is filled with such outfits. In the other picture, you can see she has inherited my love of hats !
There, I feel better. Melanie will think I am just being silly

The "Good Old Days"

A few days ago I was buying some fabric at Wal-mart and the cashier was an older man. He made a joke as he was ringing up my fabric by saying, "so you are a sew and sew". I laughed and he asked if I did a lot of sewing. I told him I did and used to make all my children's clothes. He then shared with me that when he went off to college in 1945 he took with him 31 shirts all made by his mother. I was amazed, thinking how making men's shirts is just not much fun and very detailed. No one was behind me in line so he told me about how his mother made lots of his sisters dresses out of sugar sacks and feed sacks. Then he said, "you know the good old days really weren't all that good" and he meant it. He said that life was hard, food was short, his mother went to bed exhausted from all the hard work with no modern conveniences and communication was nothing like it is now. People had to worry for days or weeks waiting for news of loved ones. His 31…

Evening Meal

Here are some pictures from tonight's meal, along with one of Melissa at the table. My other daughter was working and Steven is sick. We had bistro type music playing in the background, candles lit, fresh spring flowers lightly scenting the room. Here are a couple of the recipes I used tonight with all the credit to Mireille Guiliano for sharing them in her book, "French Women Don't Get Fat".
I highly recommend her book, its a treat to read it and certainly gives all American women much to think about regarding eating habits and in presenting the meal.

Fancy Cream of Carrot Soup
Serves 8
2 bay leaves
5 cups peeled and sliced carrots
4 medium-size onions, peeled and sliced
2 potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Whole nutmeg

1. Bring 10 cups of water to a boil. Add the bay leaves and all the vegetables. Simmer for 45 minutes.
2. Remove the bay leaves, and then purée the carrots in a food mil…


Burritos at Freebirds are an experience. Huge monster things filled with all fresh ingredients and made right in front of you. We had so much fun chatting and looking at all the "art" made of aluminum foil that the burritos are wrapped up in.
We shopped a bit and then headed for coffee at Starbucks. We enjoyed a hot cup Marble Mocha Macchiato along with some good conversation.

Morning Mist

Since my oldest daughter is home we have been doing some of the things she has missed the most about Texas. This morning was cold and misty out. Melissa went out to do chores with me and had fun playing with Fergus. The fog was rather dense so we waited till noon to go into Ft Worth for lunch and shopping. Naturally we had Mexican food. Not a lot of that to be found in Vermont !

Quilting Frame and More Fabric

My husband got my Grace quilting frame put together. We had stained it so had to wait for that to dry properly. Now I just need to read the directions on how to put the quilt on the frame.
Also I had to go by the fabric department today when I was getting something at Wal-Mart, and there were all these new blue fabrics. I ended up buying more fabric. I just envisioned a quilt of blues.

Big Surprise At My Door Tonight

Tonight there was a knock on my door. We were surprised to see my daughters friend there. The roads are all so icy and she lives at least 40 miles from us. We welcomed her and then a bit later there was another knock at the door. I opened the door to find my oldest daughter who lives in Vermont. She surprised us by coming to see us for a week during her vacation. She kept it a secret from us. My daughters friend had picked her up at the airport and then made Melissa stay outside for a bit to make the surprise bigger.
I can't stop smiling. Its been over a year since we have had any time with Melissa. She came for a couple hours in September but that hardly counts.
In the picture my daughter Melanie is on the left, in the middle their friend Sloan and then on the right my oldest daughter Melissa.
I am one happy mother tonight !

Infant of Prague

When I was just a small child, my mothers friends Mary and Ralph went to Rome and came back with a statue of the Infant of Prague for my sister, it had been blessed by the Pope.
My sister used to stand by their huge statue of the Infant in their dinning room and gaze up at it. Never saying a word. They remembered that when they went to Rome and bought her one of her own. Smaller than theirs. My sister placed her statue on her dresser in our room. I remember laying in bed and looking for what seemed like hours at that statue of my sisters. It was so beautiful to me. We were not Catholic but secretly I always wished I was. Where I grew up, 5 miles north of Boston, 99% of the population is catholic I think. Italian or Irish Catholics. When all my little friends were making their first communions I was so jealous of their pretty white dresses and veils. I remember asking my mother to buy me a first communion dress. When she told me we didn't do that, I felt cheated.

Iced Cabbage and Other delights

Yesterday was cold and icy but today is even more so. I had to snap a picture of the cabbage again today as it looked frosted with sparkling sugar only it was ice. The tiny red yucca blooms long since past their time, faded and dried on the plant, caught the magic touch of the ice painter giving it beauty once again.
How delightful the hand of the Master Creator for giving us beauty in so many ways throughout the year.

More Orange

Here is the orange yarn that I started a couple days ago. The spool here shows how much more I have spun in about 4 hours of spinning since the last picture I posted. I am making this very fine. To compare, the white cord you see in the picture is a double strand of ordinary string, the kind they use to tie up the boxes in a bakery. The yarn spun here will be plied with another strand so that it is a two ply yarn when I am done.

Cozy Night

The evening had us all gathering around the woodstove to stay warm. The other end of the house is not quite so cozy and no one lingers in the other rooms. Melanie has spent the day with a warm wool hat on, while in the house. The other rooms are not horribly cold, maybe 62 or something like that. But the contrast makes it feel a bit more. We have piled on the blankets just in case someone forgets to get up in the middle of the night to put another log on the fire. Mornings can be a bit cold with no fire in the stove.
I spent a couple hours sitting close to the stove in my rocker, spinning some wool. After a bit I decided to do some sewing on a new dress I am making. When I sew my dresses, all the seams are double stitched, that is so when they get too worn for church they will become practical work dresses and withstand the stretching and pulling from doing chores. We have a late night guest coming to spend the night so they don't have to drive far in the morni…

Chilly Saturday

Take a walk with me as I head out to do my morning chores. Its cold so bundle up !
This morning going out to do chores required a few extra layers of clothing. A nice warm flannel slip under my dress, leggings along with hat, gloves and my big work coat. Thrusday we had hot weather, 85 dergrees. Today it never got out of the 20's. And with that there was a brisk north wind giving us wind chills of about 12. The stairs off our little back porch were tiny skating rinks. Solid ice. I suspected this and hopped of the side, skipping the stairs all together. The grass under my feet crunching as if you could hear each blade brake like a tiny piece of glass. Naturally the water in the bucket for the critters was frozen. The bucket is large enough that I could put my foot in there and break the ice. Certainly beats using a hand to break the ice and then have wet gloves to do chores with. I had brought out a small pail of steaming hot water to give the rabbits to help war…

Old World Lunch

Very often we eat a rather unusual lunch by most American standards. Deep within me runs a core of a true health food enthusiast. For years we have eaten more unprocessed foods than not. Now that may be hard to believe in view of some of the recipes and pictures I have shared, but they are just a small part of what types of food we eat. Today's lunch consisted of the foods shown in the picture, muesli bread, mission figs, pecans, almonds and ginger. Before these items we did have butternut squash soup, which was perfect for this chilly day. We ended our meal with steaming mugs of Pero, a drink from Switzerland made of malted barley, barley and rye. Its quite good. A bit of sugar and milk added to it.
Dala horses danced all over the table with this cloth from Sweden. The bright colors bringing a cheeriness to a rather cold and gray day. I love all things Scandinavian.
I had first purchased the fabric for curtains but decided to just hold off cutting it and have used it as a table clo…