Saturday, June 25, 2011

Geraniums and Lilies

My friend, Debby, asked me to blog about what I did with last year's geraniums. So, Debby, this one's for you!

Geraniums don't "winter-over" here in Kansas. At the end of the last year's blooming season I just couldn't pull them up and toss them out. So my friend, Dorla, suggested I hibernate them for the winter.

This is what I did:
1. End of October-beginning of November, pulled them out of pots, leaving a clump of dirt on each root ball.
2. Did NOT cut back. Left leaves and dried blooms on.
3. Put two or three, however many would fit, into a brown paper bag.
4. Put them in dark room (in our case the mechanical room down in the basement where's it's warm and dark) and "put them to bed".
5. In February took them from mechanical room to garage, leaving everything "as is". They could begin to adjust to cooler temps and get a little light occassionally.
6. Watered once every week "or so".
7. In March put them loosely in pots, didn't add any soil, continued watering. By mid-March new leaves began to sprout.
8. End of March cut back old stems to new growth and re-potted with new soil. When it was warm enough, I set pots on back steps to get some sun.
9. About mid-April, I repotted with good, new soil and fertilized with Miracle Grow. Left outside unless temps dipped down to freezing. New growth came along nicely. All but one very skinny plant survived.

This is how they look now. Estimate that I saved at least $25-30 on new plants! Will try it again this year!

At the end of last summer we went to the Wichita Day Lily Society sale held at the Wichita Botanica. We purchased six clumps of day lilies for $2-$5 each. I planted them along the north side of the house, which needed a little color. I was afraid that they might not come up because I didn't mulch them before winter set in and that side of the house really got a lot of snow. They are now blooming!

I'm so glad I thought to make a little sketch of what was planted where. I knew I'd never remember! So here is "Holiday in Italy" (red) and "Delicate Design". There are more to bloom as summer progresses. We have a total of seven plants and we spent $18! What a deal! Highly recommend it for local readers who want to add these flowers to the landscape!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Day with Friends!

Friday of last week five of my Bible study friends and I took a lovely day trip north to Concordia, KS. Concordia is about two hours north of Newton, close to the Nebraska border. Our destination: lunch at Huckleberry Tea House and a visit to the National Orphan Train Complex. We were barely on the road when it was agreed to stop in 15 minutes for coffee for them, ice tea for me. You can bet that conversation flowed freely! It seemed like in no time at all we were in Concordia.
Janice and Rosemary in back, Caryn and Helen in middle.

Debby was our driver. She was able to borrow her daughter's van for the trip. Thanks Jill!

The Huckleberry Tea House was wonderful! Lace table cloths everywhere, every plate and cup was different, nothing matched, so charming! There were hats, scarves, boas, jewlery to wear for tea. Even hats and neckties for gentlemen!

Helen and Janice try on hats. It was so fun to choose the one we liked best.

Even the ladies restroom was decorated! There were lots of cards from previous guests exclaiming their thanks to the hosts.

Loved the Bavarian tea set that adorned the window sill next to our table.

Debby's hat was decorated with a little bit of everything: flowers, lace, even feathers!

Janice, Helen, Rosemary, Debby, me, Caryn - all dolled up and ready for tea!

My fabulous lunch. Began with cold strawberry soup - delish - chicken salad on croissaint with a small (just right!) salad and two little slices of huckleberry bread - double delish!

The dessert tray brought oohs and aahhs from all of us! I settled on the fruit cobbler with vanilla ice cream - triple delish!

There were "all things tea" to view and purchase. I bought a cute little blue and gold cup and saucer to add to my collection. I brought a mini loaf of that delicicous huckleberry bread home to Rich.

Even a "freebie" to bring home to the birds we feed - a safflower seed "cake" shaped like a butterfly.

Then in just a short distance was the National Orphan Train Complex. There's a little visitor's center and museum in what was a Union Pacific train depot, built in 1917. The museum houses excellent exhibits that tell the story of the Orphan Train Movement. Between 1854 and 1929 an estimated 200,000 orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children were placed out in rural communities across the country, to all of the lower 48 states and parts of Canada. I first heard of this movement in a newspaper article sometime after moving to Kansas. It was a part of our nation's history that was kept pretty quiet until recent years when some of the riders and/or their families began telling their stories.

The gals in my Bible study and I knew of this movement and found it held fascinating stories and we wanted to learn more. What we learned was that most of the children came from immigrant families in New York City. Families were large, food was scarce. If a mother died in childbirth the father wouldn't be able to care for children and so many ended up in orphanages. The living conditions were horrible. This is really the sad part of the story!

In 1853 the Children's Aid Society (CAS) was formed by Charles Loring Brace, in an effort to aid the homeless children of New York City. Another organization that helped in placement of children and infants was the New York Foundling Hospital, a Catholic organization. CAS hired Anna Laura Hill to help in the placement of children. She accompanied the children on the trains and made yearly visits to them in their placement homes. Twice a year the children were required to write CAS and tell of their progress. Even with these policies in place, not all of the stories ended well. Siblings were separated, some reunited, some not. Some of the children were placed in homes where they used more as laborers and housekeepers. Many, however, went to homes where they were loved and cared for. This period of mass relocation of children in the U.S. is widely recognized as the beginning of documented foster care in America.

You can learn more at

The depot is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Much of the woodwork and crown moulding are original to the building. There's a small amount of furniture in the master's office that is original. In the freight room, the old freight scale still sits in the floor.

It brought back memories for me of the Rock Island train depot in my hometown.

It was a lovely day with lovely friends! I am certain that all of us came away with a greater appreciation of our families and where we came from!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Never too Late to Celebrate Fathers!!

Did you know that it was President Lyndon B. Johnson who proclaimed the first Father's Day in 1966, but it wasn't signed into law until 1972 by President Richard M. Nixon. Signed into law? Never thought of that! It took that long because Congress resisted making it a national observance, for fear of commercialization. Commercialized or not, it's a pleasure to honor the men in my life - and the fathers they were and are. Each one, Rich's dad, my dad, Rich, Jeff, Jeremy, and Brett were/are Godly men. It is said that the best gift a father can give his children is to love their mother, and I say that every child from these men received this gift! Our lives are blessed by the gift of these MEN! May God be praised!

Rich and his father, Dick.

My father, Irwin, and his children, me, Cheryl, Kathy, Steve, Joel.

Rich and his sons, Jeff, Jeremy, and Brett.

Jeff and his son, Cole, daughters, Jordyn, Lauren, Katelyn, and Allison.

Jeremy and his daughter, Madelyn.

Brett and his daughters, Moira, Audrey, Isabel, and Maeve.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Feeding the Hungry!

Our "birdie family" is growing!! Rich recently took these photos through my office window, so you get the "screened in" view! The bird feeders that Jeff and Caroline gave me for my birthday have brought us SOOO much enjoyment!

They love safflower seeds and thistle (nyger). At first we had so many grackles, large, very aggressive black birds. I didn't like them! Grackels don't like safflower seeds, so we changed from a sunflower seed to the safflower. The last few days there have been as many as nine little finches munching away at any one time! No more grackels! The finches have voracious appetites and are eating us out of house and home! We think these are new springtime babies because they are all the same size and don't have color (males have red on their heads and throats), which they get after first year. Of course some could be females too. They are getting very brave and come to the brick ledge under the window! So fun to watch!

Our resident rabbit seems to have had bunnies. This little guy was eating all the safflower seeds the birds dropped to the ground. Good boy - or girl! I was just about to go and rake it all up!

And then, lo and behold! I found a nest in the purple smoke bush right outside my window! It was high enough that I had to stand on tip toes to look in. Three little eggs! As soon as I stepped away a big fat robin flew to the nest to protect them all. Has been there ever since, even in a blustery storm!

"Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Matthew 6:25-27


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Moira!

Moira is celebrating her 11th birthday today!

She will be going into 6th grade and LOVES school, especially science. She reads like a mad-woman and is well on her way to winning a pool party sponsored by our public library's summer reading program. She also likes to write and illustrate her own stories.

She runs like the wind - doesn't want any of the boys in PE to beat her, and loves playing soccer.

This year, in addition to playing soccer, she sang in the Newton Children's Choir, at Papa's encouragement. She has a lovely voice; very pure and quite high. She auditioned for, and sang, a little solo at the closing program. It was a line from the "Wells Fargo Comin'" song from the Music Man. Papa was so proud of her!

Expanding her musical talents, she's excited about taking orchestra in school next year. She will play the viola.

Happy birthday Moira! Papa and I love you!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Moira's Early Birthday Celebration

We began celebrating Moira's birthday last week! I took her to the Clayworks Gallery downtown where she made an art project for her gift. She chose to make a message board to hang in her bedroom.

A cylinder of clay was rolled through a machine, much like a giant pasta maker. Then she cut it to size.

After discussing various design options, she decided to write "notes" at the top and make a pen holder on the side. Keeping it simple, she said.

After several minutes of gently scraping any texture imprint from the cloth used in rolling out the clay, she smoothed the edges, made her free-form letters, applied the letters and pen holder with "slip", made holes for hanging wire and chose her glaze option. The board will be white and letters and pen holder in blue. She will be able to write on it, just like a dry erase board. We left it at the gallery where they will fire, glaze, and fire it again. The first firing will be at a temperature of 1787 degrees, the second at 2300 degrees! We'll have to wait until they have enough objects to fill the kiln before they fire, so it will be a few weeks before she receives her finished piece.

We came back home, made an ice cream pie (her choice for birthday dinner dessert), had dinner and then she spent the night. As it turned out we were under a tornado warning, so after dinner we went downstairs where she, Papa and I played games. Papa won at Chinese Checkers and I won at Monopoly. She went to jail four times and every third roll I rolled doubles! It was a lot of laughing and she was a REALLY good sport. Her "stuffie" gave comfort in the storm!

Fortunately the storm changed direction and we were fine. Had a beautiful rainbow!

Yesterday was her birthday dinner, which we actually had for lunch since they have evening VBS this week. Audrey was SOOO excited to give Mo her birthday gift - a locket. Just what she had been wanting! It was very sweet.

Now we could take that ice cream pie out of the freezer! It was a big hit!

Four beautiful little girls love a celebration!

Mint 'n Chip Ice Cream Pie
25-27 oreo cookies
3 tablespoons melted butter
Crush cookies in a ziplock bag. Mix with butter. Reserve some for topping. Press into a 9" pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 7 minutes. Cool completely.

Mint 'n chip ice cream - we made our own!
1-1/2 containers of vanilla ice cream (about a half gallon)
2/3 cup green/white spearmint candies (like red/white Starlight mints)
mint flavoring to taste
few drops green food coloring
4 ounces mini chocolate chips
1 11.5 ounce jar hot fudge topping

Put ice cream in large bowl to soften. Crush mint candies in ziplock bag. They should vary from fine to smallish pieces. Add crushed mints to ice cream and stir well. Add flavoring. Start with 1/4 teaspoon and add to taste. Add food coloring. Stir. Add mini chocolate chips and stir well. Taste for desired "mintiness". Layer half of ice cream in pie crust. Spread hot fudge topping over all. Put in freezer for about 10 minutes. Add another layer of ice cream. Spread top smooth. Sprinkle remaining crumbs over top. Wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze. Make a day to a couple of months ahead. YUM! (You can do the same ting with red/white Starlight mints - or candy canes, peppermint flavoring and red food color. Mini chips optional.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Great Book!

It's been quite some time since I gave a book review. I just finished the best book I've read in a very long time - "The Daughter's Walk" by Jane Kirkpatrick. For my local readers, you will find it in our church library. For non-local, check out your public library or order online.

This historical fiction novel takes place in the late 1800's - early 1900's. The rich details and deep emotions made it seem like a biographical work. This wonderful, inspiring story is about a family schism that author, Francine Rivers says, "comes full circle to love and grace". It is a story about a mother and daughter who walked across America from Spokane to New York in 1896, which has been documented in various records.

Here's a quote that I especially loved ...

"Women friends fill up a certain space in our hearts, ... and romantic love fills another. Family, though, has a special chamber that expands and expands. ... There's room for sunsets and rainbows and shiny rocks that remind us of our strengths, for dogs and horses and cats too. Room for the giggles of toddlers you don't even know. And over all is God's love, which flows through all the chambers, seeping into cracks and filling up the empty spaces until you're so full you almost cannot breathe. It's God who shines in the faces of all those other people looking back at you." ...


I read a book cover-to-cover and in this book I found the author's notes and acknowledgements to be incredibly interesting. I don't believe I've read a book where the author documented so much research. The book really came alive.

I love reading historical fiction from this period. It is inspiring for me to see how women coped with the daily life of that time. In this book much was made of women's careers, which weren't looked upon favorably, and yet, I'm convinced were very real. They are truly heroines! The dedication caught my attention from the beginning ...

"To strong and transforming women of all generations."

Love it!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another California Trip - Part 2 - The End

After a day and night with Kathy, I returned to Moorpark. Caroline and the little girls keep Maddie on Thursday, so I was able to have some fun time with these little girls at the neighborhood park. Maddie is wearing her new eyeglasses. She's so sober when wearing them.

Kate and Allie had fun with Maddie in the swing. It was a first for her. She seemed very focussed on watching the shadow of the swing as it moved across the sand.

It's been said that Maddie's glasses look like mine. It's pretty tricky keeping glasses on a six-month old but she's trying to adjust.

In 'n Out deliciousness with Kate and Allie.

Back at home we made two ice cream pies. One a peppermint stick, the other a mint and Oreo cookie, both with hot fudge in the middle. Yum! I love cooking with these girls.

Jordyn and I also made a cherry cheese pie, but sadly I couldn't remember the correct amount of lemon juice so it didn't set as it should have. I felt bad! Don't usually trust my memory on recipes.

With Lauren.

With Cole.

On the way home from church on Sunday, we learned that the Amgen Tour of California bike race would be arriving in town. Amgen is a large biotech company, located about a mile from our home in CA. One of the drugs they manufacture is a drug that Rich needs to take now after his kidney surgery. Who would have thought! Anyway...... We went home for cameras and found a spot along the street to wait for the bikers. There were several media cars, CHP on motorcycles, etc. Finally a lead car came through saying the first four bikers would soon arrive, giving their names and locations, and that the peloton would follow in about 3 minutes 30 seconds. Right on time. Very exciting! They just flew by. They were followed by cars with back-up bikes on roof tops.

The peloton.

It was a cool, overcast day, great for bikers. The peloton was followed by several more cars with back-up bikes, then ambulances, and finally California Highway Patrol. This nine-day tour was on its final leg. It would go through this valley and then one last very steep mountain before arriving at Amgen in Thousad Oaks. A great way to end my stay in Moorpark!

Jeff, Caroline, and me.

Who's the "shrimp" in the middle??

My last stay would be at my Mom's. My brother Steve cooked for Mom, Kathy and me. He cooks for Mom every weekend and I love being there when I can for this family time.

Spending time with all of these precious loved ones truly filled all the cracks and crevices of my heart! Another wonderful trip! Thank you Honey!