My work here is nearly done. Pictures have been hung and furniture arranged. About a million dishes have been washed and put away. It looks like they live here now. They even had a guest for dinner last night.
I have mostly been around the house, but a few trips out to purchase supplies like shelf dividers and paint and some groceries have given me a glimpse of the area. How does NW Arkansas compare to South Carolina?
There is no Duke's mayonnaise or White Lily flour here. Not even a bag of Martha White flour on the shelf. There is no Publix or Bilo here for grocery shopping. But there is a Walmart every few miles! And a Fresh Market opens this week.
There are no Tigers here and no orange-colored everything. No Gamecocks or garnet. The television college football coverage is all about the Hogs. (That just sounds so odd to my South Carolina ear.) But the passion of the fans is equal to those at home.
There are small cattle farms here and round bales of hay traveling down the road, just like home. (The hay must have been bought elsewhere. Worst drought in the country is right here.) There is a nice grandma who lives just up the street. And an ice cream truck that passes through the neighborhood in the evenings.
There is a wonderful museum here (Crystal Bridges) and the Walton Arts Center with a full Broadway season, much like the Peace Center at home. And several music festivals are held in the area throughout the year. There will be fun things to explore when I come back.
It's been nice to have some extra time with the granddaughters. A few more bedtime stories. A few more songs. (Baby Sister especially loves Blue Moon and This Can't Be Love.) Big Sister has learned how to fan out a strawberry for a garnish now that I won't be around to do that. She's very handy in the kitchen. She and I also painted her bookcase.
Next week our visits will be done via technology. And we are thankful to have those methods available. There is always that little niggling fear that the children will forget us--the grandparents who have been around almost daily will now live so far away. Not sure how much Baby Sister will remember her about days at the farm this summer.
But we will remember them. So glad they spent that time with us.
I am beginning to think that the life of a hobo wouldn't be so bad.
You could carry everything you own on your back.
We have unpacked, unpacked and unpacked some more. I have passed the one million mark in dishwashing. I didn't count, but I'm certain I've washed at least a million things. Today Daddy-O is hauling off boxes and paper so we can unpack some more.
Baby Sister was a pretty good helper until she found a better thing to do.
All these boxes are a kid's heaven!
And in a chaotic household, a little solitude is welcome.
"Stay out of my box," says Baby Sister.
You can finally see the floor.
A perfect place for a much-needed tea party break.
This blog has been temporarily interrupted by a huge move.
Baby Sister and her family have relocated five states away.
Daddy-O and I have tagged along to help with baby sitting,
unpacking and all the chores that a move involves.
It is hard to think that in a few days, this grandmother and granddaddy will head back to the farm, leaving the grandbabies here. But their new home is lovely. (Or it will be when we finish unpacking and find some coffee cups. And towels.) The neighbors seem friendly. And there are cows in a pasture just down the road.
Big Sister was happy to find a Barnes & Noble, a Krispy Kreme and a Chick Fil A. It doesn't feel so different after all. We can sing Eensy Weensy Spider on Skype. And Big Sister has email now to keep us informed. It will be different but it will be fine.
We've been having a family get-together at the lake for over 30 years now. It hasn't always been the same set of family, but there have been relatives from one side or the other having lunch with us since we were newly married. The very first year we did this, we invited both sets of our parents and a close aunt and uncle of Daddy-O's. I've told you before that the lake house was bought by my father-in-law when Daddy-O was about 10 or 11 years old, so they had been using the house for many years when I came along.
That first gathering was long before there was the huge screened porch or the nice covered pavilion. We were the hosts for the first time. I set the food out on the picnic table in the yard and had everything ready when our guests arrived. My father-in-law walked up, surveyed the whole thing and declared, "This is not how we do it. The food goes over there, the drinks on this side..." He pretty much unnerved me. But dear Uncle Luke, who was a man of very few words (maybe because Aunt Myrtle did all of the talking for the both of them), looked my father-in-law straight in the eye and told him plainly, "Archie, this isn't your party." And that was the end of that.
So for years after that my inlaws came and enjoyed the food and the company, however I arranged it. And the "arrangement" has changed many times since then. All of our parents are gone now, but there are such good memories.
This year we had babies, young families moving far away in a few days, another couple who will be married in the fall and all of us "old folks" who have been around forever. This is a day to catch up on what has been happening since the last time we were together.
One thing we always look forward to the the dinner. Everyone brings something to share. One of the best things I tasted this year was a "blonde brownie" my cousin brought. There is no photo because they were eaten too quickly! But she was kind enough to send me the recipe right after she got home that afternoon. I'm going to make these soon. (Unless I can talk her into making some for me.)
Here is the email she sent...
2 sticks margarine 2 eggs beaten 2 c self-rising flour 2 t vanilla 1 box light brown sugar (Original recipe called for 2 c chopped pecans - I use 2 c chocolate chips instead)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 by 12 pan. (Works great in a disposable one and you can take the entire pan easily to an outing or to someone - unless someone in your family samples first!)
Melt margarine in microwave safe bowl (appx 60 seconds) Add flour and stir in well Add eggs (that have been beaten) Add box of brown sugar Mix together Put back in microwave for appx 30 seconds Mix well Add vanilla and chocolate drops (or nuts)
Bake 350 for 25-30 minutes Cool and cut into squares
Super Quick to prepare and never disappointing!
Many times when I want to take a meal to neighbors or someone that has been sick, I take hotdog buns and weiners, chili (Jack's recipe), chips and these brownies. I have found people enjoy this simple meal and often it is a great change from casseroles! Lynn
Just so you know, Jack's hot dog chili and mine are pretty much the same. That recipe can be found here on the blog.
Our day ended with the best seats in the house for fireworks---our own pier. Baby Sister was just giddy with excitement as she watched the colors explode over the water. It was a terrific day together.
This has not been the best year for our garden. Extreme heat has even made the plants tired. But the squash? It just keeps coming and coming. We have baked, roasted, stir fried, steamed, and stewed. And we still can't keep up with it. I know, I know. I could put some in the freezer. But I doubt that will happen.
Here is my most favorite recipe for squash. (This recipe comes from a time in my life when I made things that dirtied three pans. I'm more into one pan recipes now. But this is worth a little extra effort.) It makes a nice light supper. Daddy-O had a dinner meeting one night last week, so I made this for Mommy and me to enjoy. Daddy-O expects meat.
The recipe came from Bon Appetit magazine many years ago, as best I can remember. The crust was made from refrigerated cornbread twists, which no longer exists. So this is my updated version. Jessica used whole wheat pizza dough from Whole Foods for her crust. The best choice at my local grocery store was a can of Pillsbury thin crust pizza dough.
Summer Garden Tart
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup vertically slice Vidalia onion
2 cups sliced yellow squash (about 2 medium)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme ( or 1 tsp. dried)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
1/2 cup 1%-low-fat milk
1 can refrigerated pizza crust (thin crust style)
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in skillet. Add onion, squash, thyme, salt, pepper and garlic. Saute about 7 minutes, until browned.
2. Combine corn and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and cook 13 minutes. Spray a 10x14-inch baking sheet with PAM and sprinkle with cornmeal.
3. Roll dough out into pan and crimp edges to make rim. Sprinkle with mozzarella; top with corn and vegetables. Sprinkle with Parmesan.
4. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, until crust is golden. Let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 6.
Someone asked how many Weight Watchers points this recipe had. I plugged all the ingredients into the recipe builder, using 1/2 cup mozzarella. WW Points Plus: 6 points per serving
I had no parsley but it does add some nice color, as you can see in Jessica's tart. You can also use 1 cup yellow squash and 1 cup zucchini if that's what your garden--or store--has available.