Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spring Break - Part 3

A highlight of our trip was seeing the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Crystal Bridges Museum. When I was growing up, my grandmother subscribed to the Saturday Evening Post, so I grew up looking at the wonderful illustrations on the covers. Taking a two-year-old through an art exhibit brings its own pleasures—like when she pointed at the crying baby on one magazine cover and said, "That baby needs a hug." And, the scruffy clown painting she saw and said, "Somebody needs to clean him up." It was fun to see how much of the exhibit she actually took in.

But the very best times we had were just doing regular grandparent things— getting ready for bedtime,

...picking out books for bedtime stories.

Daddy-O did things with Baby Sister, too.
She had her first hands-on lesson in using tools.

And our last night was reserved for dyeing Easter eggs. 
Somebody forgot to tell Baby Sister not to peel the eggs first. 

How different she is this year! Last year she just watched. 
This year she could do the eggs by herself. Sort of.

It was fun to hear all the new things she's learned to say since we last saw her. Phrases that regularly peppered her conversation—"Oh, my goodness!" "What in the world?" And my favorite, "Hmmm, I wonder....." that she said as she walked around her huge block structure trying to decide how to add one more block. How quickly they change.

We stopped by and woke Baby Sister up early (sorry, Mommy) for one last hug before we headed home. Won't be too long before we see her again, I hope.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Break - Part 2

Since Big Sister was out of school for an entire week, we "girls" packed the car and hit the road. They are fairly new residents in their part of the country so exploring the surrounding cities as been a regular activity since they moved. Today the car headed to Kansas City, Missouri. This was my first time in that state.

I have said before that when I hear the word vacation, I think of beaches. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that you can have a great vacation smack in the middle of the country. 

Kansas City was a beautiful place. There were public sculptures everywhere. And there are enough fountains that you could even take a "fountain tour" of the city.There are many museums, too. 

But our trip was planned for Baby Sister and Big Sister. The first thing on the agenda was the aquarium where Baby Sister met the "meow fish"—which is toddler speak for "cat fish."

I had fun just watching everyone "watch." I don't get to see them often so that was pure pleasure for me.

There was so much that we didn't have time to do. Legoland and Hallmark's (headquartered here) Kaleidoscope for young visitors and the Crayola Cafe will have to wait for another time. 

But we did have lunch where our food was delivered by a toy train. And we made time for frozen custard before we left Crown Center. 

Remember the short sleeves we were wearing at the St. Patrick's Day parade just days ago? Well, the weather changed. We had fun at the Kansas City zoo, but the most exciting part for me was getting to see snow. Mommy pointed out that we knew we were not in South Carolina when bus loads of school children walked through the zoo paying no attention at all to the falling snow. Here at home any falling snow would have school officials beginning to think about school dismissal and all the mamas would be headed to the store for bread and milk.

Another day we went to the Science Center and the Planetarium at Union Station. The Science Center had activities for kids of all ages. Baby Sister loved spending time in the preschool room where she could touch and play with everything.

Big Sister talked me into paying $2 to go in the tornado booth with her where we enjoyed standing in 78 mph winds for a few minutes. Trust me, there are no photos of us coming out that booth. What grandmothers will do!

The funniest moment was in the railroad section. We had been through rooms and rooms of railroad displays. The girls had played with the model train display and climbed up into an engine car. But when we rounded another corner Baby Sister shouted, "Daddy-O!" She saw it before we did. The cattle car exhibit included a cowboy —

—a cowboy complete with a mustache. She didn't want to leave this "Daddy-O." So funny. But she had to leave him and we all had to leave Kansas City. There were still more things to do at home. My trip was only half over.

I promised I would share a few recipes from my trip. Here is one from Mommy. She made this yummy appetizer one night while we were there. And this first tray disappeared so quickly, she had to put together another batch.

She said she didn't have a recipe per se, but saw a picture of this appetizer on Instagram and figured this was close. The photo of the ingredients is pretty much the "recipe." It's a great combination of tastes and textures.


1 package rosemary sea salt French rounds
1 container Boursin light garlic & herb cheese spread
1 package smoked salmon (she used nova lox)
fresh rosemary

Spread the Boursin cheese onto the French rounds. Top with the smoked salmon. Add a tiny sprig of fresh rosemary to each one.

The French rounds are crunchy which pairs nicely with the creamy cheese. And this is ready in minutes. If these exact ingredients are not available in your store, you could adapt this recipe to whatever version of these ingredients you can find.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Spring Break - Part 1

As my friends here who are teachers and parents get excited because spring break starts tomorrow on Good Friday, I'm looking back at our spring break memories from the past couple of weeks. Evidently spring break in the midwest follows a different calendar because everywhere we went (the week before Holy Week) there were hundreds of families and children enjoying time off.

I was so happy to see my family when I finally arrived after spending most of the day in airports. And Baby Sister was happy to see me. And my iPhone. She calls my phone "Old McDonald." It was a constant request while I was there—"See Old McDonald?" That's the first app I added for her. But she can zoom around that phone better than I can now, hardly slowing down for the actual Old McDonald any more.

And with this smile, I can't resist handing it to her almost every time she wants it. 

Mommy had a full calendar for my time out there. First thing on Saturday morning was the St. Patrick's Day parade—my first one ever. Baby Sister liked it all except for the "fireplace" that was too loud and made her cry. In two-year-old language, fireplace = fire truck. 

Several times she talked about the "loud fireplace that made her cry." But then she would go on to say after that then she was happy when they threw necklaces and candy to the crowd.

We also stopped by the most unique shops I've ever seen. There was a semi-circle of Airstream trailers, each housing a different business. We checked out the pie shop and the flower shop. It's so much fun to see things we don't have at home.

We did a little bit of shopping that afternoon, too. Big Sister and I got new Toms shoes. And Baby Sister picked out new glasses.

Daddy grilled his famous salmon that night and Mommy made this yummy dish for dinner on Sunday night. It was originally called a "casserole" but we renamed it a "hot dish" since Daddy doesn't eat casseroles. Whatever you call it, it's delicious. (The directions are long, but it's super simple.)


1 (14 oz.) package turkey kielbasa or smoked sausage, cut into 3-in. pieces & split lengthwise
1 pound potatoes
1/2 pound carrots
1/2 bell pepper (red or yellow)
1 large onion
1 fennel bulb
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp oil
freshly cracked black pepper
1-1/2 tsp Italian herbs
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar 

Peel the potatoes, wash them and cut each potato in four pieces. Peel one large or two smaller onions and cut them in wedges. Remove the base and stalks of the fennel, and cut into wedges. Slice 1/2 to 1 bell pepper in strips. Place everything in a big roasting tray.

Use a big bowl to combine the oil with the Italian herbs, grated or chopped garlic, and chicken broth. Season with a generous amount of salt (kosher salt would be great) and cracked black pepper. Cover the tray with aluminum foil and pop it in a preheated oven. Bake at 450 degrees for 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes the potatoes and vegetables should be fork tender. If they’re not, cover the tray with the foil and pop them back in the oven for a few more minutes. If they are fork tender, place the sausages in there and pour the balsamic vinegar all over. Place the tray back in the oven, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes. 

Take it out after 15 minutes, flip over those sausages and ladle some of the juices from the bottom of the pan all over the vegetables and sausages. Put it back in the oven for the remaining time, until everything is nice and brown. 

Check out the original recipe if you would like to use fresh sausages.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Home Again Home Again Jiggity Jog

Looks like today will be totally dedicated to doing laundry we brought home from our visit to Baby Sister and her family. It was a wonderful visit. We saw lots of snow falling. We ate too much good food. And we played lots and lots with Baby Sister. 

Give me a day or so to catch up around the house and get my photos moved from one device to another. Then I'll share a little of what we did on our trip. I also have recipes (made in Mommy's kitchen) for you. As always, easy and delicious.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Sisterhood Of The Traveling Grandmas

This was my favorite email a couple of days ago. Well, Baby Sister—today's the day!

From:  Mommy
Subject:  Friday
Date:  March 13, 2013 4:11:26 PM EDT
To:  Mimi
The second thing out of Baby Sister's mouth this morning, was "SEE MIMI TODAY!" Still working on sense of time, but nice sentiment. :)
What is your eta on Friday and flight number? Counting down!

A couple of weeks ago I was in the car with three other grandmothers on an outing to an upstate yarn shop. Of course, much of the conversation was about grandchildren. And as I listened, I thought about how different grandparenting is for us than it was for our own grandmothers. One friend has grandchildren in Texas, one flies to Florida to see her grands and the other has family in Colorado. And  I have several other friends with children and grandchildren that reside in foreign countries. (If yours live nearby, be glad. And enjoy.) 

So I guess I am right in style, as I get ready to board a plane today. Daddy-o will hold down the fort here at the farm. But I'm headed for a hug!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Song Of Soup

I am blessed to have several interests that give me great pleasure (told you about the knitting yesterday.) I also spend a good bit of my time with assorted music activities—much of it with my ukulele band. I have gathered many friends with each of these interests. I have knitting friends scattered across the country and I have many ukulele friends from coast to coast and even in Canada.

I also love to cook. Sometimes it is just a necessity beacause we have to eat and sometimes I feel totally creative when I'm in the kitchen. Anyway, a few days ago I saw a YouTube post from a ukulele friend. Complete with recipe. I love it when my interests happily collide.

Now, I have recipes I've collected that were jotted on a napkin or the back of an envelope. Recipes that were ripped out of the news paper and magazines. And there are about a zillion recipes pinned on my Pinterest boards. But I've never had a musical recipe. Until now.

I made UkesterBrown's soup this week and thought it was good enough to share here. We've been trying to focus on fresh foods here and step away from processed foods and ingredients you can't pronounce. But canned vegetables usually don't have many of those "big word" ingredients. Most times it's just a vegetable, water and salt. The salt/sodium can be a concern, so we look for low-sodium or no-salt-added products on the grocery shelf.

For a recipe that mostly involves dumping cans into a pot, this was pretty good. There are days when you have time to really cook. And there are days when you need a recipe like this. We put two quarts into the freezer for later.

UkesterBrown said it's the fresh cilantro that "makes" this recipe. But we live in a cilantro-free zone here. Daddy-O cannot abide it. (Have you heard about genetic reason for this?) So I just left that out and figured topping the soup with a little cheese and sour cream would make up the difference. It worked for us.

I used one can of mild Rotel tomatoes and one can of original Rotel. It's was pretty zingy! So pick your Rotel to suit your taste. Here is UkesterBrown's recipe:


2 tablespoons oil
½ cup diced carrots
½ diced celery
½ diced onion
2 (10-oz) cans diced tomatoes w/ green chilies
3 (15-oz) cans black beans (I used low-sodium)
1 (11-oz) can Mexican style corn
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro 

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in soup pot and then add 1/2 cup carrots, 1/2 cup celery and 1/2 cup onion. Cook about 15 minutes or until tender.
Add diced tomatoes with green chiles, black beans, Mexican-style corn. Don't drain anything.
Bring to a boil and then let simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro and serve. 

One member (she's a whistler, too) of our ukulele band saw this recipe and told me she had a wonderful black bean soup that used dried black beans and ham. I will see if she'll share her recipe. And on a day when I have more time, I'll try hers, too.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Soothing Strands

Knitting is such a relaxing thing for me. A "centering" activity, if you will.

And very often I'm knitting something for someone else. It might be a knit finished in a few days, like this prayer shawl for a friend who badly needs comfort. I took it to her yesterday. If nothing else, it's a tangible expression of my concern and care. 

Pattern:  Comfort Shawl
Yarn:  Homespun (Barley)
Needle:  size 10-1/2

And sometimes, it's a seemingly never-ending project like these red sock for Daddy-O. Started them at the beach last summer and finished them just now. Does it take that long to knit a pair of socks? Of course not....but other things happened along the way. And that's okay. My knitting has no deadline. It's just for me—not the project, but the knitting. (Daddy-O gets the socks!)

Pattern:  A Nice Ribbed Sock
Yarn:  Malabrigo Sock (Tiziano)
Needles:  size 2

Knitting gives you time to think, to watch, to listen. I hope you have found your activity—the thing that gives you peace and pleasure. If you're really lucky, like me, you'll find a couple of them.

“Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either.”
― Elizabeth Zimmermann

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Make And Take

I've made this so many times over the years that I don't have to go look up the recipe. It's as easy to remember as it is to make. A pound or so of lean ground beef and a tablespoon of four other things—a tablespoon of sweet (sugar), a tablespoon of sour (vinegar), and two tablespoons of savory (Worcestershire & mustard), and a cup of ketchup.

I've made huge amounts to feed kids at church. I've made a single recipe and put half in the freezer for the two of us. But I don't think I've ever made it to take to someone.  When I ran into a friend of Mommy's a few weeks ago in a doctors office, she ran to give me a hug and said, "I was thinking about you a few days ago while I was cooking. I've made your Sloppy Joe recipe so many times since you gave me the recipe." 

She went on to tell me that it was her favorite thing to make when she needed to take a meal to a family. These young moms are all good about taking dinner to a family when a new baby arrives. She said the sloppy joe meal was the best, especially when there were some older children in the family because they all liked it. Mommy's friend had just had a call from a dinner recipient saying, "My husband ate FOUR of these sandwiches last night! It was so good. It was such a help to get your good dinner." 

So make a batch (or double batch) and pack it up with buns, chips, maybe baked beans and slaw or veggies and dip and some cookies and you're ready to deliver an easy, delicious dinner to someone who needs a little help.


1 to 1-1/2 pound of lean ground beef
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 cup ketchup

Brown the meat. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Serve on toasted buns.

PS  Mommy makes this with ground turkey and calls it Sloppy Jims.

PPS  If you've tried Manwich and didn't like it, this is a totally different flavor. My recipe is usually liked by non-sloppy joe lovers. 

Monday, March 11, 2013


When you've spent hours and hours and hours knitting something, the (almost) saddest thing thing that can happen is a big snag in it. (The very saddest thing is to lose it.) But if you wear a handknit—whether you knit it or bought it—things are going to happen. If you're a knitter you know, you DO NOT CUT the loose yarn to get rid of the snag. Now the rest of you have been warned. That's just going to make a hole. If it's a sweater, you can carefully pull the snag through to the back side so that it doesn't show.

But on a shawl or scarf, where both sides are visible the best repair is to work that pulled yarn into the knit. I've always tried to do this with a yarn needle. But when you use one, you must have enough "tail" to turn the needle before working. So I've used a crochet hook to weave the short yarn tail back into the knit.

But some genius figured out to make the eye of the needle as long as the needle itself. I'd never seen these finishing needles until a few weeks ago. This is why I like to stop in yarn shops and look—even though I don't need any more yarn. There are treasures to be found. If I had skipped the yarn shop at the beach, I might not have come across these needles.

You thread the pulled yarn into the needle and then stick that tip next the yarn right into the stitches on the shawl. As you work the needle in and out of the shawl stitches, the yarn snag will slide down to the other end of the needle and you can work every smidge of the pull back into the shawl. Voila! Looks as good as new.

So even if you are not a knitter, you might find the "finishing needle" a handy tool. And my shawl is back is business. Warm weather is coming soon, so I want to wear my knits as much as I can now.

And in case you were wondering, yes, those are two different snags. One on each end. I need to be more careful.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Mimi Keeps Up

Modern grandparenting/parenting

Tonight I had Baby Sister on Skype and Jessica on iChat at the same time. Real time "visits" are so much fun. Does anyone even remember years ago when writing letters was the best we could do?

But back then, we had three generations living in the same town.
Not in three different states like we are now. 

A computer visit is the next best thing to being there!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Come On, Try It! You'll Like It

Mommy made this brussel sprout recipe when we were out there last fall. Last night I tried it for myself. It is so very, very good. And easy to make. And healthy. (Unlike the only other brussel sprouts I've ever liked--that involved about a pound of bacon.) You'll have another green vegetable to add to your family's meals. We're working on eating more and more vegetable here. This is a new favorite.


12-14 large brussel sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove, garlic, minced
pinch sea slat
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans, toasted

Slice each brussel sprout very thin until you have a feathery mound of brussels sprout "ribbons." Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Saute garlic for 30 seconds. Add the brussel sprouts and continue sauteing for another 4-5 minutes, until bright green and tender. Add the sea salt and brown sugar and toss together. Finish by adding the toasted nuts.

3-4 servings

Just for fun....  Anyone remember this episode of Leave It To Beaver?  If someone in your family feels the same way about brussel sprouts, try the caramalized version. They don't even look like brussel sprouts on your plate. See if anyone in your family even knows what they are eating.

Don't you wish TV still had shows like this?

Well....since I opened the bag of brown sugar last night to make the brussel sprouts, I figured I might as well try this recipe today. My "I don't eat squash" husband went back for seconds. When Daddy-O eats any kind of squash, it's a good recipe.

1 medium butternut squash, (2 to 2-1/2 lb)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut off ends of squash and discard. Peel the squash, cut them in half crosswise (skinny part/fat part), then each of those parts in half, length wise.  Cut into 1-1/2 inch cubes.

Add the melted butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper. With clean hands, toss all ingredients until evenly coated. Spread in a single layer on baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 55 minutes, until the squash is tender and the glaze is beginning to caramalize. Toss occasionally while roasting to be sure it browns evenly.

Serve hot.   3-4 servings

Cutting up a butternut squash is not as much trouble as you might think. If you've never done it before, check out this tutorial from Pioneer Woman. It helps to see her photos. You can buy pre-cut butternut squash if your store carries it. I wish mine did. My small town store doesn't, so I had to do it myself.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Snow Day!

Where we live, we measure snow in minutes—not in, "It snowed 15 minutes here. How long did it snow at your house?" "Sad, ours only lasted about five minutes." And those "stand-by-the-window-so-you-don't-miss-a-flake" snows don't come often. So today's real snow was a big deal for us. 

And now, an hour after it stopped snowing (snowfall lasted about 2 hours) it's almost completely melted. That's what makes our snows special. You really have to stop what you're doing and pay attention or you'll miss it. It might be a long time before you'll see another flake.

So glad our barn is red. Looks good in snow photos.

I was afraid if I slowed down to change out of my PJs, it would melt.
Didn't realize I was wearing the "When I am an old woman" purple and red. 
Guess it's time.

On a farm, the work goes on regardless of the weather.
Cows gotta eat.

Snow isn't bad. Ice can be a problem.
Today was pure fluff.

Hay is most welcomed in the snow.

PS  If you listen carefully, you can hear the birds chirping in the snow video. This morning before the snow started, I watched a bird building a nest just outside the window.

UPDATE:  The snow first started falling about 9:30 this morning. Most of the photos were made between 10:30 am & 11:00 am.  At 12:30 pm, I made the photo below. It came. It went.