Sunday, September 30, 2012

I suppose it was bound to happen . . .

Standing outside my car on the passenger side in the parking lot at church this morning, I began to rip off a new sheet of sticky paper on my roller brush to remove any cat hair from my black slacks, when the roller fell to the ground. While bending down to retrieve it, the car door gently closed - with my purse and choir folder inside. Yep, I had already pushed the "lock" on my remote and carefully put it back into my purse! So efficient was I, and so stupid! Instantly I knew I was in trouble. On any other Sunday, I could have walked into church, gotten another choir folder with music for the morning, and gotten a ride home with a friend after our service concluded—but NOT today! Today I was scheduled to leave our church immediately after the music portion of the service and drive 50 miles north to give my faith story at the church of a friend. I needed my car - my purse and my written faith story - sitting on the front seat.

What to do? I hurried into the church and found a choir mate. I told her my situation and she said, "I'll drive you home. Let's go." Someone overheard her and replied, "Let's get a non-choir member to drive her home." One of the husbands of our altos graciously drove me home where I got my spare keys and got back to the church in about a half hour. Wonderful! I'm happy to report the rest of the morning went just fine.

Steeple of the church in Wyoming, Minnesota

The fall color on my drive this morning was just wonderful!

I'm blessed with pretty color in my backyard, too.

This is the view from inside my cottage today. It's lovely.

Friday, September 28, 2012

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood!

With the drought we have been experiencing this summer, a colorful autumn was doubtful. I'm so happy it has proved to be otherwise. We have gorgeous color in and around my city. One tree in particular is a brilliant red maple on the property where I work. Getting out of my car this morning, I couldn't keep my eyes off it. Red (okay, and Cobalt Blue) is my favorite color. I'm am drawn to it. This tree is stunning.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Why I Seldom Bake Any Longer

I used to bake a lot - just ask my kids. I baked cakes, pies, cookies, brownies, apple dumplings, made rosettes at Christmas, even helped my Aunt Liz steam plum pudding. I have a very nice Kitchen Aid mixer and lots of baking pans and cookie cutters, plus decorating tools. But I had to stop—not because anyone told me to do so. I had to stop because I couldn't quit eating what I baked. Instead of eating one or two pieces of pie or cake and then taking the remainder to work to share with my co-workers, I would devour the entire batch. All. By. Myself.

Lately I have baked a little here and there - usually when I am having company, or when asked to bring something to an event. For tomorrow, I volunteered to bring a pan of bars to work to be served at an all-company meeting. For the first time in several years, I got my Kitchen Aid mixer out of a lower cabinet (wasn't easy for me because it is very heavy) and actually enjoyed pouring all the ingredients into it and watch it blend, blend, blend. Making bars might be the way to go since it will be obvious if I sample any of them. I will admit to eating some of the raw dough that was left on the beater and sides of the mixing bowl. Yum!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Last Days of Summer

We're just about to say good-bye to summer. I won't miss the 90 degrees days, that's for sure. This past week has turned chilly, enough so for me to turn on my furnace. I don't take it for granted that  I have it easy – compared to my ancestors – heat or A/C on command. Pretty nice.

Along with the coming of autumn, leaves are changing color, and sadly, some have fallen. An unusual stem of pods was included in the beautiful bouquet given to me by my friend Bonnie at my porch party last Saturday. She told me the woman who sold it to her called it an Oscar. All but the Oscar has faded and was tossed out. I used it along with some of my silk fall trimmings where it is now on display at the reception desk in my office. Hopefully it will dry and last for awhile.

This unusual stem has brought about much conversation at work. After searching the Internet, I can now tell you the name: Asclepias physocarpus. It is commonly called Balloon plant or Swan plant.  If you care to, you can read about it here.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

My first porch party!

Last night I hosted my first porch party. What a fun evening! Once my new porch was completed, I had envisioned a dinner party such as this.

On Wednesday of this week, the high was a mere 56 degrees, with lots of wind and rain. But the forecast for Saturday held true — we had a high of 82, low humidity, and the only breeze was from the west. Since my porch faces east, I knew using candles was going to be no problem.

I had planned my menu early, including three recipes I have made many times, giving me more time to concentrate on my decorating. Over several weeks I had been planning what I would use and where. Friday evening I made my main dish and raspberry/cranberry salad and stashed them in the refrigerator. Saturday morning I took off for a bakery for my breads and then got a great deal on fresh roses at a local grocery store.

In the early afternoon I peeled the apples and put together the apple dumplings, using my mom's recipe. I have loved these as long as I can remember.

Dumplings assembled and ready to pop in the oven.

Once the dumplings were baking, I began setting my table. All week long I had planned on using my Desert Rose pattern dishes. To my dismay, I couldn't find the dinner plates. I looked everywhere and never found them. So I moved to plan B - the plain white set. Things came together quite nicely, and about 30 minutes before my guests were expected, I sat in the shade of my backyard, taking a much needed breather. A neighbor came over to say hello, and then noticed my porch. I took her in and she really liked it. She asked her high school daughter to run home to get the camera. She told me it inspired her to have a porch dinner party, too.

My guests arrived and immediately went to see my porch. It pleased me that they were so excited. Soon we sat down to dine. 

Debra and Bonnie

Laurey and Nancy

We had a great time of visiting and laughing – and eating. And there were NO mosquitoes! That's a huge blessing. As the evening progressed, the sun had gone down and the candle light made my porch so cozy. Especially nice was my candle chandelier.

Apple dumpling a la mode (It was a hit!)

View from the back yard (just because)

I hope to have many more dinners out here over the years. It was so much fun!

Friday, September 14, 2012

A Gray Room

Last Saturday my friends and I stopped at my cousin Pat's to see what she and Pudge have been doing to Aunt Liz's house – in particular, the downstairs, where a new kitchen and bathroom have been finished. Both look so nice! Good job, cousins! Pat had told me she was going to paint the bathroom walls gray. "Gray? Are you sure?"

After leaving her home, I began thinking about my guest bath. It has gray ceramic tile surrounding the tub, which I have always ignored in my decorating. "I wonder . . . . How does one decorate with gray?" A few days later I was still thinking about it and decided to Google "Decorating with gray." I was surprised to see so many sites with albums of photos of rooms using gray as the main focus.  Should I?

Wednesday night I had about 40 minutes to spare before the start of our choir rehearsal. I headed off to a favorite store, grabbed a cart and headed straight to the towels. Yes, they had many styles in gray. I made my selections, and headed to another part of the store where I chose a few more things, and then headed to the checkout. I was pleased to have been so fortunate to quickly find things that I like.

Last night I had time to remove the tired, old decor and replaced it with the new, plus I used some items I already had. Once the furnishings were in place, I stepped back and critiqued everything. I liked it and proceeded to remove the price tags. I have only 3 items to return!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

9/11 Remembered

Last October, I was privileged to go to the 9/11 Memorial. It was one of the most moving experiences I had ever had. If you'd like to see my photos and read my impressions, check here. I don't imagine it has gotten any easier for those who lost loved ones on the horrific day. My prayers are with them.

I bought this flag while at the 9/11 Memorial. On it, in the 13 stripes, are the names of all those who perished on that day. Double click on the flag to enlarge it. 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Annie's Swedish Coffee

Today my Red Hat group gathered again (we no longer meet regularly because 2 members have moved away) and went to Gammelgården Museum in Scandia, Museum. What a treat it was! We were served a 3 course coffee: sweet bread, cookies, and almond cake. Each course was delicious! In between the courses, the director of the museum gave the most interesting history of the Swedish immigrants. 

L to R: Nancy, Joanie, Sharon, Jeanne

Our table was set with beautiful china plates and coffee cups. Down the center, was a wooden set of dolls in Swedish in costume from various provinces. This is the second floor of the museum and is filled with Swedish history. 

2nd course: cookies. Oh, my! They were scrumptious!

Gammelkyrkan, the first sanctuary of Elim Lutheran Church, was built in 1856 on a site near Hay Lake, two miles south of Gammelgården Museum. Used as a church until 1860, then moved and used as Hay Lake School until 1899; it was then sold, dismantled and moved to the Frank Forsell farm and used until 1981. Mr. and Mrs. Archie Forsell donated it to Elim and Gammelgården. Once again it was dismantled, moved and restored. Re-dedication was September 12, 1982 by Prince Bertil of Sweden and Bishop Herbert Chilstrom of Minnesota. Exterior repairs were completed in 1995 through the kindness of the Skandia Insurance Corp. of Sweden. This is the oldest Lutheran church building in Minnesota.

At the start of the church, the parishioners couldn't afford to pay the preacher, so to survive and provide for his family, he had to farm. This was the barn. Like the church, it is strongly constructed with logs (This area was heavily forested when the immigrants arrived.). There is a facing on the outside, so the logs are not visible, as they are inside. The Swedish immigrants planned ahead and packed the metal parts of the tools they knew they would need into their trunk. They knew they could make handles once they settled.

is the kitchen of the parsonage. Our tour guide was explaining the daily living of the preacher, his wife, and children. Because there was no office in the church, when parishioners needed counsel, they came to the parsonage. Therefore, the preacher's wife had to always have a clean house and food to share. This is the oldest existing parsonage in Minnesota.

This is one of two wedding dresses that are on display in the parsonage living room. A darker, practical dress was worn for weddings so it could be worn again. It would never be black, since that was saved for mourning.

This is a Stuga, or in other words, a Swedish home for peasants. They are now known as a small vacation home. If I could have a little spot either in a woods or by a lake, this is the house (cabin) I would like to have. It has two rooms: a kitchen and a bedroom. This one is painted in the traditional red paint that was actually purchased in Sweden.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Some of my gardens . . .

I actually do work, but around my office space I have plants – lots of plants. You see, while I really love my home, I don't have enough natural light to grow plants. Plus, I have a cat. Case closed.

One of my plants has been doing extraordinarily well. It is a Calathea, which is native to South and Central America, Africa, and the West Indies. For awhile, this plant was spindly and had few leaves. Apparently, I was over watering it. Of late, it is really flourishing. I like it because it is a bit unusual.

This is my Shamrock garden, or Oxalis. I was inspired to have my first Shamrock because my Aunt Liz had one – a big, beautiful one. I got my first one, the one in the yellow pot, over 14 years ago, when I worked at my last job. The Shamrock comes in two colors: green and dark purple leaves. The green plants have little white bugle-shaped flowers; the dark purple plants have pink flowers. If you want one of these plants, you'll have to wait until February—right around the week of St. Patrick's Day. That's the only time of the year it is sold in stores. It's worth the wait—it's a very inexpensive plant. I think I usually pay around $4 or $5 for one.

I won't attempt to tell you what plants I have here because I have many varieties. They are on the shelving that butts up to one wall of my cubicle. I can see them from where I sit, but they also grace the space above our galley storage. I get a lot of compliments over them.

Finally, this space above my cubicle has two Purple Passion plants. I got my first one from Heidi. I believe she lived in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at the time. This plant has green leaves covered in velvety purple hairs. It is very easy to grow – one can take a clipping and simply root it in water. 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

I'm looking forward to Sunday!

Let Everything That Has Breath, Inspirational Scripture Note Cards Christian Gift, Calligraphy by Debi Woods Scripturescribe

You know the feeling you get when you know something good is going to happen? Something you have spent time preparing? Last night at our choir rehearsal we learned the following selections of music were going to be on our program. I really love all of them. We'll be singing with a 35 piece orchestra, and Woody, our organist, along with an incredible pianist, Herb.

I wish all of my family and friends could come to our church to worship this Sunday – or every Sunday, for that matter. If you cannot, you can watch online, live, every Sunday at 8:30 am CST by clicking here. It just takes a simple click.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Happy Birthday, Hans!

Two years prior, our hopes were dashed when the miscarriage occurred. What went wrong? Would it happen again? There was a lot of uncertainty. After discussions with my doctor, we had a bit more hope.

Fast forward to 1970. Under the careful supervision of a new doctor in a new state, our first was born—at 3:02 am on September 5. He weighed 6 pounds, 13 ounces, and was 19 inches in length. What to name him? Hans David.

He has gone on to fulfill his long time dream: to be in the Navy, be married, and be a father.

Hans, I will never forget the day you were born. You have brought me so much joy over the years. I am very proud of you. Happy Birthday!

Monday, September 03, 2012

Labor Day

For some reason, Labor Day always feels to me like it marks the end of summer. Not wanting to let go, I used this day as an opportunity to have my brother and sister and Pat and Pudge over for lunch. I had hoped we could eat outside in my new screened porch, but it was too hot and humid for that. There will be other times.

Jerry and Janet

Pat and Pudge

Pat brought this delicious peach cobbler!

We enjoyed this time of catching up. Our times together are very special since we don't get to see each other all that often. I really appreciate all of them giving up their holiday to come over to my home. 

After Pat and Pudge left, my brother asked if it would work out for the three of us to go to the Lake Harriet area to ride the historic trolley car. I had told him about it after Sarah had taken me on it last month. So, after calling Sarah to get directions, we headed out. We lucked out by getting a parking place about 60 feet from the train depot! I thought this was amazing on a holiday weekend. We rode two types of trolleys: a newer one, and the old style - built in the very early 1900s.

We first boarded this "newer" style and immediately requested a transfer. It took us from Lake Harriet to Lake Calhoun, where we disembarked and waited in the shade for the older, wooden car.

Inside the newer car.

All three of us rode in these streetcars in the olden days (Peder, not in 1910, in case you were thinking so.).

Inside the older car. Notice the vintage ads above the windows.

This is the depot, which also houses the little museum.

Inside the museum, one of the volunteers showed us a book that had a map of the routes in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Jerry had asked him about the streetcar stop in Willernie, where my Aunt Liz and Uncle Vic had lived.  He not only showed us the route, but went right to this page that shows the "Y" where the train switched in Willernie and the little wooden structure where one could wait for the streetcar (small black object to the right of the tracks). We actually have a photo (somewhere) that shows our dad and Janet sitting, waiting for a streetcar. This spot is now where the village of Willernie gathers for Memorial Day festivities.

The trains came to a halt in 1954 and all the rails in the streets and overhead electric wires that ran above the  train cars were removed. Some of the cars were sold; the remainder were burned. Just three of these streetcars remain, thanks to many volunteers who have renovated them and now take turns to run them. Isn't it ironic that today we are spending millions of dollars to install railroad tracks from the suburbs to downtown Minneapolis and tracks to connect Minneapolis and St. Paul?