Friday, September 23, 2011

Just In Case

I realize that most people who read this blog would probably not be about to go get this cookbook.  But just in case there's someone out there who's's amazing.  I had to put a plug for it on here because it's just that good.  Every cookie that I've tried (quite a few!) has been a truly excellent and trustworthy recipe.  I have come to value a cookbook that is made by people who extensively test their recipes so that I don't have to worry that something won't turn out. 
The cookie pictured is a Monster cookie.  There are best-of-the-best recipes for all the classic stand-by cookies and an inspiring variety of original things to try.  To name a few:  Vermont Maple Cookies, Double-Shot Cappuccino Bars, Tea & Spice Squares, Chai Shortbread, Chocolate-Peppermint Snaps.  Yes, this book is becoming my new best friend.  

Getting Our Kicks

 on Route 66!

Since we needed to go across Northern Arizona, we decided to go a bit out of our way and travel a 155 mile section of historic Route 66. Yeah, for road trips!
We ate in Kingman, AZ then John got his shirt on, and we climbed in for the adventure.

 We drove Route 66 from Kingman to Flagstaff. This is what the road looks like today. Just what I thought Route 66 would look like.

 Kingman has a lot to celebrate the old route. My Dad was stationed here in WW II, and hitch-hiked home to LA on leave, on Route 66. We had fun exploring Kingman.

 A view of the Arizona countryside along the way. There were LOTS of motorcyle riders out here.

Here are a couple of landmarks. Arizona has put Route 66 signs back up on this stretch. And there are just as many old motels along here as I would have imagined. Most however are vacant derelicts. We did see signs of life at a few little roadside stops still celebrating the old days. We even saw Elvis and Marilyn as we went by. When we leave Flagstaff tomorrow, we are going to eat at 'Miz Liz's' for breakfast, known to be the best place for 'Roadies' like us : )

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Thrift Store Find

 Taking a brief intermission from updates from Dad and Mom's trip, here's a piece of joy for Julie.
 I love the yellow roses.  There were only four bowls and four plates. 
But it was an easy decision to buy them since they were .99 cents and were made by Canonsburg Pottery.  Actually, I would never have bought them except for that last fact.  Since we lived in Canonsburg for 5 years, this is a fun and lovely piece of memorabilia from that much-loved town.  The pottery closed in the 70's, but made dinnerware for almost 80 years there.  I believe this pattern was an earlier one, maybe made in the 20's or 30's.  Not sure.  Excited to own my own little piece of that history.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hoover Dam for the Boys

Here is your travel guide, coming to you today from Boulder City, and Hoover Dam. 
 Samuel asked me the other day how tall Hoover Dam is. I thought I would post a few photos, and add a few facts for Sam and Will, Ben & Calvin. Maybe it can be your history lesson for the day guys!

This is the actual concrete structure of Hoover Dam. It is 726 feet high, made of concrete. It was started in 1932, in the middle of the Great Depression, and finished two years ahead of schedule in 1935. At that time, it was the largest concrete project in the world. You might want to ask Great Grandma Bethel and Great Grandpa Larry if they remember when it was finished. It was built to contain the mighty Colorado River, (the same river that carved out the Grand Canyon.) The dam produces over 2000 megawatts of power from water. During the years of construction they had a daily crew of about 3500 workers, and 140 men died during the construction.

 Hoover Dam also served as the highway connector between Arizona and Nevada, having a two lane highway across the top. Now due to security issues, a new bridge has been constructed across the Colorado. It's a 4-lane highway, 1,900 feet long and 890 feet above the Colorado River. If you would like to see some additional photos and info click here:

The insurance man has been eager to try out this new bridge, and it is an amazing feat once again. It is the 2nd highest bridge in the United States and the world's tallest concrete columns.

These photos show the Colorado River as it enters Hoover Dam, and the river as it leaves the Dam as Lake Mead, named after the engineer of Hoover Dam. The nearby town of Boulder City sprung up during the years of construction to house the workers and planners.

Hoover Dam and the new bridge (called the Mike O'Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge) are both wedged between the massive rock cliffs of Black Canyon, in a very barren area of desert. Lake Mead made all the difference in this area. If you want to know more of the difference water made to make 'the desert bloom', just Google it.
As amazing and awe inspiring as Hoover Dam and the new bridge are, I think the mightiest feat was God's in creating this canyon, carved by the Colorado River. Man can and does do some wonderful things, but it will never match the majesty of God's creation.

Friday, September 16, 2011

One Hot Day

 Well, here we are in Death Valley, CA. We are having a great time so far on our road trip.  We've driven approx. 1,150 miles, and just had a couple of close calls. I think I felt our guardian angel yesterday while driving the steep, winding, narrow roads of Yosemite. Today, we reached Badwater Basin, the lowest place on the North or South American Continents.

 This is the temp registered in our car as we stopped. The insurance man choked when he looked at the dial, and we both laughed. We never really thought we would feel what 112 feels like. It is very dry, so really wasn't as bad as it seems. If it was humid it would be a very different story! It was also very windy, but instead of being cooling, it was one very hot, dry, scorching wind.

The insurance man and I cracked up at all the tourists out in 112 degrees, to walk on the salt flats. We wondered if they were out looking for the 'beach' as the salt looks like water in the distance. Or maybe it was a case of sheep following a leader. In any case, there were a whole lot of them out there, many from all different countries according to the languages we heard. The scenery has been unparalleled in both Yosemite and Death Valley, and we feel so blessed to be visiting these National Parks. Tomorrow we should arrive in Flagstaff, AZ. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Corn, Basil and Tomatoes

If you have these three ingredients, you have the makings of my favorite side dish this summer.

First you cut the fresh corn off the cob (usually 1 ear per person) You can use yellow or white, or a mix of both like I did in the photo.

Chop one bunch of fresh basil into a 'chiffonade' or long thin strips.

Slice fresh cherry tomatoes in half, enough to add some good color and flavor. Of course, best if they are fresh from your garden!

Saute the fresh corn in butter, and add some salt. After cooking a short while, add the basil and cook until wilted and fragrant. Add the tomatoes and just barely heat. Do not cook them or they will become mushy. One of the things I love about this dish is that it is so fresh tasting, right from the garden.

Serve and enjoy the compliments!

Tomorrow, early in the AM, the insurance man and I are taking off on a road trip to the Grand Canyon, via Yosemite and Death Valley. We will be gone for two weeks, thoroughly enjoying ourselves. Check out Julie's blog while I'm gone, and enjoy my grandchildren for me. When I get back I'm sure to have some great photos to share. Happy Blog viewing!

Monday, September 12, 2011

End of Summer

End of potted annuals.

End of potted herbs.

Spontaneous pumpkins that came up in the back yard.

Looks like we'll have two pumpkins out of it. :) 


Photo by John William Godward entitled 'Summer Flowers'

Yesterday, the hottest day of the year for us, God spoke to my heart. I was thinking about all the complaining I heard during June, July and August (including some from my own lips) about the cold, wet season. For me, the most frustrating part was for my garden, that was so far behind usual. But for many, the cool season was not summer-like, and inhibited summer recreation and pleasures. As this continued right through August, culminating in the hardest freeze we had seen in many a year (below 30 degrees) it seemed that summer was not going to show up at all, but we were going right into an early autumn. No tomatoes, no beans, not many wildflowers in the higher elevations, not many picnics, no warm summer get the idea.
And then, the weather changed again and we have had two delightful weeks of hot weather. The green beans and cherry tomatoes came on, the dahlias started blooming and all of us cold, wet humans dried out and warmed up in the welcome rays of a warm sunshine. I got to thinking about this, and it seemed so clearly an indication of lack of faith. I couldn't see into the future to know that summer was indeed still coming, so immediately took the path of no faith. Not only was summer still coming, it's been the best of the best. After 45-50 degree nights, it takes all morning to warm up, only getting hot in the afternoon and evenings, then cooling delightfully for sleep, just to start the cycle over again the next day. God was saving the best, only I couldn't see it ahead and so complained. Sounds like the Israelites. It's that way in all of life I think. We can't see ahead, and so start fretting or complaining, or worrying (all sin) and in reality God has saved the best, and His richest blessings for just ahead of us. Oh, for the blessing bestowed of more faith to trust in our gracious Heavenly Father!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Meditations

Well, we celebrated yet another Labor Day week-end, and I hope you had a good one. The weather here was just perfect, and personally we had a good mix of work and pleasure. I did however, contemplate the holiday and its meanings, and decided to look up the history.

Interestingly, Oregon was the first to make Labor Day a holiday, in 1887. It became a Federal holiday in 1894.

"The form for the celebration of Labor Day was outlined in the first proposal of the holiday. Towns were to hold a street parade to exhibit to the public 'the strength and esprit de corps (a feeling of pride, fellowship and common loyalty) to the trade and labor organizations', followed by a festival for the workers and their families. Speeches by prominent men and women were also included. Later, in 1909, the Sunday preceding Labor Day was adopted as Labor Sunday, and dedicated to the spiritual and educational aspects of the labor movement."

As always, it's so interesting to see the history and then look at the reality today. Very interesting to see that people are celebrating something they really don't know the meaning of. It's just a 3-day (or 4-day) week-end anymore. I don't think I want to celebrate a holiday in honor of the labor unions, do you? I have a sneaking suspicion that Peter & Julie already know this, as they started school yesterday on Monday.

As for us, we elected to work on our kitchen project on Saturday (pictures to come), and attend an outdoor church worship service and potluck on Sunday morning. After a quick nap, we had a long motorcycle ride up to Todd Lake in the Cascade Mountains, Sunday afternoon. We brought a snack, and hiked around the lake on a beautiful, warm early Sept. afternoon. The views of the Cascade mountains were stunning, and as a wonderful surprise we had acres of wildflowers. Our late summer weather has had some benefits, in that the wildflowers are still profusely blooming in the higher elevations. After a ride back, we stopped for a few tacos on the way home (fish for me and beef for the insurance guy).

As the owner of a business, the insurance man is compelled to close down the office and provide the day off for his employees. And so, we got up and headed out into our high desert for a ride on our ATV in the cooler morning. It was wonderful out there, riding through a fragrant, sweet-smelling pine forest with the Cascade mountains off in the distance. So relaxing and fun. After getting home and cleaning up, our daughter JoAnn treated us to 'Cars II' at the theater where she works. Wonderfully fun and entertaining. We had a really good week-end, and yes, did celebrate our life of labor by taking the day off. Interesting isn't it? Celebrating work, by not working? I thought I would make a list of the things I saw people doing in Central Oregon, to celebrate the day off.

  • Horseback riding

  • Swimming

  • Playing outdoor games

  • Bicycling

  • Hiking

  • Fishing (That would be Samuel's first choice!)

  • Eating (Either at a home barbecue or at a sidewalk restaurant in downtown Bend)

  • Boating

  • Birding

  • Drinking (including just sitting outside a local bar)

  • Motorcycle riding

  • Running

  • Grocery shopping

  • Golfing

  • Rafting or floating the river

  • Walking dogs

You get the idea. That is our (West Coast, resort town of Bend's) idea of Labor Day. What was yours?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Harvest Season

After such a slow start to summer, I wasn't at all sure it was worth planting a garden, and yet I did in an abbreviated fashion. At the present time the garden is beginning to show signs of autumn much too soon. We always have a very short growing season, but this year was the shortest I can remember. The garden did survive a night below 30 degrees this week, and several at the freezing mark, with help from some row covers. And this in August!

Yesterday I was pleased to find some reward for this work and hope. A few glads and dahlias to grace our table, as well as sweet cherry tomatoes and some fresh peas for our salads. Thank you bountiful Lord for the produce you have provided.

And I was VERY pleased to find the beans were ready for picking! They tasted extra good last night for the work it took to get them. We also have lots of garden lettuce, cilantro, some good Oregon strawberries each week, baby beets and hopefully some full sized (if small) tomatoes soon.
"And for everything there is a season. A time to plant and a time to sow." And a time to enjoy to products of the plantings. Thank you Lord!