Thursday, January 28, 2010

Birthday Party for Doris

I see that another few days have gone by since we had time to add another blog. Life just seems to happen doesn't it? Julie is busy homeschooling, and I have had jury duty. I served on a jury that concluded yesterday afternoon, and thankfully had the day off today.
I am going to post several photos of our friend Doris, and her birthday party. Doris is a German lady, who has lived in the U.S. for 14 years. Her husband was a client of the insurance man, and he passed away last July. Since then we have slowly gotten to know Doris and have found her to be a delightful and fun lady. Her mother passed away when Doris was 13, so she has not celebrated holidays much in her life. When we found she had not had a birthday party since she was 3 years old, or a wrapped gift, we set about changing that along with our Bible Study group. Doris was raised Catholic when young, and has been enjoying attending our group with us. She is brave to tackle reading and understanding the Bible in English! Anyway, last week our group had a party for Doris. We had two cakes (one chocolate and one angel food) and I provided the candles. Doris turned 49, so we had 4 on one cake...and 9 on the other. Since she had never blown out candles, we decided it was about time. She said that she has not had anyone to take photos of her since she was a child either, so we enjoyed taking several and she plans on sending copies to her sister in Berlin, which is the only family she has left.
Doris is a very educated lady with college degrees in biology, computer science and German. She took classes here in Oregon (in English), to get her Masters in teaching, so she can teach those subjects in any grade level through college. She loves to discuss a good topic...

and keeps the insurance man and me on our toes...trying to keep one step ahead of her.

We did the whole party thing, including balloons, which she was thrilled with and took home to enjoy. Our group went together to get Doris a Bible, as she has not had one since getting one for her confirmation at age 8 or so. She specifically wanted a King James version (after she learned what that was), so she is in for some tough vocabulary to absorb and learn. She has also signed up and attended her first class at our local Bible College. She is taking New Testament Survey from our Pastor Syd, and will be reading through the N.T. in the next 14 weeks.

Her she is, the proud owner of her new Bible. The insurance man and I also gave her a gift coupon for a dinner out and a movie with us, sometime when there is a movie she would like to see. She has not been to the movie theatre, and really no restaurants. The 'girls' and I took her to Sonic over Christmas and she thought she had landed on an alien planet : ) We had lots of fun celebrating her birthday, and I am looking forward to a fun year ahead!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Virginia Apple Pudding

It's been quite a while since I posted a recipe, so since I needed to make a dessert for a dinner tonight, I thought I would share the recipe. For the last few weeks, whenever I have needed a dessert I have turned to this cake as I still have a few golden delicious apples to use up. My in-laws graciously shared from the bounty of their tree last autumn, and they work so well in this cake. The recipe is called 'Virginia Apple Pudding', but it's really an old fashioned fruit type cake. Did I mention how EASY it is to prepare? Here it is all ready to pop in the oven... and here it is as it came out of the oven, smelling like baked apples and all brown and crusty around the edges.

Now that I've made your mouth water, here then is the recipe:

1 Cube Butter
1 C. Flour
1 C. Sugar
1 C. Milk
2 t. Baking Powder
1/4 t. Salt
2+ C. of Fruit
1/2 t. Cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. This recipe adapts to either a 9x13 pan, or an 8x8 or 9x9 pan, whichever you prefer. Place the cube of butter in your pan of choice and place in the preheated oven to melt, while you prepare the batter and fruit. When melted, remove from the oven and set aside.
For the batter: mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the milk and stir to form the batter. Pour the batter on top of the butter, and swirl with your spoon to mix a little. If using a square pan, the batter will raise higher and your cake will be thicker. If using a 9x12 pan, just add a little more fruit and the cake will be as shown above.
For the fruit: I took fresh sliced apples, and cooked them a bit in water, brown sugar and cinnamon, until fairly soft and the water was reduced to a syrup. How long you cook them will depend on the type and freshness of your apples. My golden Delicious apples are soft, so just a few minutes worked. You can use fresh fruit (apples, peaches, berries or pears), or use canned. IF you use canned fruit that is sweetened, use less sugar in the batter.
Put the fruit on top of the batter and place in the pre-heated oven. The fruit will sink down into the batter as it bakes. Bake for 35-40 minutes. At the end of the baking time, check the batter for doneness with the toothpick test. Cool on rack, but best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (big smile here!)
Serves 6 with a square pan, and 8-10 with the 9x12 pan.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Christmas Wedding

I hate to push mom's story down the page. I enjoyed it a lot, mom. :) I just wanted to share a picture of a most beautiful wedding that my husband had the honor of officiating. So much beauty here; the church, the candles, the rich colors of the holiday, the adornment of the bride, not to mention the covenant made and the seriousness, yet joy with which this couple entered into their vows. Glory to God.
Picture by Miss Ashley Hughes
Afterthought: The couple are kneeling for the benediction. Yes, they are members of our church, but no, this isn't our church building. It is a rented Episcopal church.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Christine had just asked me what life had been like when I was her age. I realized the silence had grown overlong as I looked over at her young fresh sixteen year old face. My thoughts whirled as I tried to catch just one fragment from the past. The day I turned sixteen separated itself from the other memories, and I found myself once again looking down on the wharf in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
This was the day we had been waiting for, since boarding the 'Taron' in Liverpool. The voyage had been exiting, but long and tiring. Amelia, Walter and I pressed against the ship's rail that day, so eager to see what our new country looked like. At first we could only see an outline, but as the ship steadily chugged closer the details sharpened into green trees, brown buildings, wooden piers and scurrying people. Mother joined us holding baby Jack as the ship pulled into it's mooring spot. I felt no disappointment, just a sense of fulfillment after a long wait. A strand of hair blew loose from my wound-up braid and I impatiently thrust it back, eager for all my eyes could see. People were gathered below waiting for us to disembark. They called up to friends or family with cries of welcome, adding their voices to the sailors and wharf men yelling instructions. Energy surged around me and I felt my excitement rise with each passing minute. Mother pressed some bread into our hands as we waited, but after one bite of it's staleness, my stomach rebelled and I knew I was too exited to eat.
Each carrying as much as we could, we joined the twisting line flowing down the gangway. As we drew near the wharf, new smells brought my excitement to a fever pitch. For weeks I had smelled the ocean, fish, salt spray, and rain or sun soaked air. Now the smells of cooking food, sweat, wood smoke and grease added their pungency to my eager nose. As we crowded up to the clerk at the counter I hung back, suddenly aware of my stained dress, worn boots and broad accent. He smiled however, and calmly asked my age.
"Sixteen", I told him proudly. "Today... my birthday is today", I added.
Smiling again, he nodded and I knew he understood it was special.
"Grandma?" I heard Christine's voice as if from a far-away land. "Grandma, are you alright?"
How could I begin to tell her of something so different from her life in Los Angeles? How could I share another era, another life? I gathered again the fragments of excitement, and resolved to try.

(Written by Jennie for her great-aunt Janet)

In honor of Janet Patmore Lofthouse

Born: April 26, 1891 Barking, Essex, England
Died: August 15, 1978 Los Angeles, California
Arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on her 16th Birthday

Monday, January 18, 2010

New Engagement Calendar

Every January 1st I get out my new calendar and engagement calendar, and fill them out for the new year. But not this year! This year was sold out in November and December of the engagement calendar that I always order. They never did get any back in stock. January I set off for Barnes & Noble to find a replacement. I found a sorry rack of rejects when I got there, all the ones no one had wanted. Neither did I want any of them...BUT I finally found one copy left of a Mary Engelbreit engagement calendar somewhere else, off by itself. This has proved to be a very fun calendar to start off my new year. First of all it's titled "Your home is your canvas, make something of it." That is what this blog is all about really, finding and creating beauty in our homes and appreciating it.
Each week has a fun original picture drawn by Mary E. about home life, and the other page has nice large boxes for writing in events and appointments for each day. It's fun to have a new and different calendar, so I know God had a plan for to be out of stock. God is in everything, even in the small details of our lives. I'm only sorry for the complaining that went on when I continually found Lang to be out of stock. A good lesson trust God for everything!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Remembering Christmas

Both Julie and I are just now getting around to posting photos of our respective Christmas's. It is just a little late, however we did want to share them with each other. Next post I will move on again into 2010.

Christmas morning was quiet for a few minutes...with our three stockings hung by the chimney with care. Joy and her family were with us Christmas day and for the week-end. After breakfast, they are all trying to play a tune on their 'goblets' with various amounts of water in them. Only limited success, but it was fun trying.
Christmas night we caroled around the piano with our friend Doris. Doris is from Germany, and it is the first time in my life that I got to sing Silent Night in German with someone. It was really fun!

Here is our tree, all decked out and ready. No snow on the ground for Christmas, but there was a very pretty freezing fog coating all the trees and grass with frost.

Like a lot of families, my three daughters always slept beside the tree on Christmas Eve. Now the granddaughters carry on...although only Kory and Kendall chose to indulge.

Christmas morning was a lot of fun. We took lots of time to open our presents, savoring each. Here is a special one...Kory received one of her drawings back, only nicely framed by Kirk and Joy.

Having Macy around was so much fun...Christmas really needs a little one to make it extra special!

We got a surprise phone call on Saturday from Julie's best friend in high school, Amanda. She is just like another daughter really. She and her family were coming to Central Oregon and needed a place to stay for the night. We had such a good visit, and were just thrilled to see them. Here is a picture of them: Amanda and her husband Shawn, their oldest daughter Elle, then Ezra and last little Claire.

I took a photo of Joy and her family too while they were here. Left to right is: Ashley-age 17, Kendall-age 13, Macy-age 2, Kory-age 16, Joy and Kirk, the insurance man, and Joy's best friend Tracy from Woodland, along with her cute wiener-dog. We were so glad that Tracy decided to drive up and be with us.

Kory stayed on for the week after her family left, and we had another guest for the night come to visit. This is Lily, who lived with us for 1 1/2 years along with her Mom. They now live in Toronto, so it was great to see her.

NOW, we got the snow. Kory and Lily had a great time playing in it. Snowman, and snow fort were among the items made.

After New Year's, we took Kory and drove to Burns for the week-end. It was so good to be there with my in-laws, and to help them celebrate the dedication of their new Church wing. Kory enjoyed the visit with her great-grandparents.
Well, that was just a quick run-through, but hope you enjoyed it Julie! Along with all your family on the East Coast!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sweet Sixteen

Last month our oldest granddaughter Kory turned sixteen. This was a big event for our family, so the insurance man and I drove to their house to celebrate with them. Her birthday fell on a Monday, so after school and work, her parents...Kory...and us....went to the Outback Steakhouse for a nice dinner in Vancouver. She got to be the only child with us 'adults', which was a really nice treat. She chose Outback as she is a beef lover for sure, just like her Mom and Papa. After a good dinner, they brought her a fun free sundae to enjoy. When that was over she opened up her special gift from Mom and Dad.
She had a beautiful oval jewelry box....

with her first real diamond necklace.

Here's Mom trying it on Kory to see how it looks.

Everyone thought it looked beautiful, just like Kory.

After dinner we drove back home to enjoy cake with the rest of the family. I made a red velvet cake, just like my Mom used to make for my birthdays, and passed on the torch to Kory. We found some fun neon candles and put on sixteen for Kory to get up some serious breath to blow out.

It was a fun time, and we all danced around to 'Happy Birthday Sweet Sixteen' by Neil Sedaka.

How blessed we feel to have a granddaughter lovely within and without.
Happy Birthday once again Kory. We love you, Grammy & Papa

Monday, January 11, 2010

January Cleaning

This is not MY clean house, but one I admire...

I, Jennie, sincerely appologize to those who have been watching in vain for a new blog post. Christmas, and then the following days just overwhelmed me with too many fun things to keep up with. Since New Year's, I have been struggling to creep out from under a huge pile of to-do's, and am just now seeing the light of day so to speak.

So, onward and upward in the dawn of a new decade. I am still here, and still busy, but feel like I am getting on top of things. One of the biggest things that needed doing was cleaning. I have been busy deep-cleaning everything I can find. I thought I was about to get it, and I still found a Christmas book for 2-year old Macy under something that I moved to vacuum under. We did have fun though....

I do love to clean. After the years of working and parenting, when I never had enough time to clean, it is a real joy to have the time now. I love the feeling of a thoroughly clean room, and always enjoy January when I can find more space again, and the peacefulness of clean, rightly-ordered rooms. May we all enjoy the process along with the results.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A fun letter...

Currently we are staying with the Insurance Man's parents in Burns for the week-end. In reading through Mom's Christmas letters I found one that was so special I wanted to share it...especially with Julie and the boys.

The letter was from a home-schooling family of four children, and this particular letter was from Seth, their 10-year old son. I hope it brings a smile to your face, as it did ours.

"Dear Friends:

In the year of our Lord 2009, in the 11th and 12th months, the steers (formerly bulls) and the heifers are fed hay (dried grass tied into bales) in the White Barn (our big barn). In this activity (the feeding of course) I participate. First I absolutely MUST climb the ladder (preposterous, isn't it) that, eventually, with much nerve wracking climbing, leads to the loft. Why, you ask? It is really quite astounding but true- the loft is where we keep the hay. Shocking but true. Next you throw the required amount of hay (seven to ten bales) through the hole in the floor. That is because the bovine critters couldn't take the tedious climb up the ladder to the hay (too much of a mental and physical strain. And they would get too tough.) After I take part in the activity just described, I descend the ladder. At my arrival I find a mountainous mountain of hay bales (unbelievable!) Then I carry the bales (two-tons each) to their assigned space (each between two-different pillars), setting them down with a stone-splitting CRASH! The bovine beasties flock to the spaces with the great masses of dried grass. Then I remove from my pocket my razor-sharp cutting device, and after opening it, I slice the strings that hold the lawn-clippings in a bale. I jerk the strings off of the bale and then spread it thoughout it's space. Then I repeat the process ten more times (exhausting!)
Merry Christmas from the cows in the barn and Seth!"

I think he may be preparing for life as a very descriptive fiction writer : ) Jennie