Thursday, September 23, 2010

Carmen Goes Nuts

Another venture into the world of teaching my daughter how to cook. Today we made homemade peanut butter. She has been wanting to do this since we made pancakes. I don't know why it's hard to make time for these little cooking sessions but, for me, it is. Anyway, we had lessons on blender etiquette (do not remove the lid until the blade has stopped!) and watched while the peanuts magically turned into ... well, they didn't actually turn into mush like the cookbook said. I'm sure Molly Katzen's peanut butter was a better success than ours but we like our product. Seems like our peanuts needed more peanut oil than the recipe called for - it made all the difference. It's excellent on English muffins and later, Carmen had a sandwich of homemade bread with homemade jam and homemade peanut butter. She was so thrilled! So what if some of the peanuts are still whole. Carmen named it, "Mom & Carmen's Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter". She's thinking of making an ad complete with a coupon, advertising our creation.

The more of these kitchen moments I have with my daughter, the more motivated I am to make time for them. I am still not comfortable in the kitchen and I want my kids to enjoy cooking. I know I've said that before but it really is heavy on my heart. I want them to experience success with creating something that tastes good and not feeling like they've failed if it doesn't turn out right.

Stay tuned ... Carmen will probably begin asking for something else to make soon.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Not Something You See Everyday

Last night, my husband and I had the opportunity to go to a seminar given by Graham Kerr of all people. Remember The Galloping Gourmet cooking show on TV back in the 1970's? The one and only. What on earth was Mr. Kerr doing in our little town on the coast?

Since we are on the coast, our town tends to have festivals that celebrate things of the sea, like fish, fishermen, crab, seafood, etc. This time it was the humble commercial fishermen that were being festive. And they managed to invite Graham Kerr to the party (he now has a home in Washington state, so he's not too far away). Today and tomorrow, he's doing something with fish - filleting, perhaps. But on Friday, he held a seminar in our local theatre.

He was older, of course, but still a vibrant, funny man. He talked about making healthy lifestyle changes, helping out the community and reaching out to those less fortunate. He connected all this and if you want more info, he has a website. Our family already does a lot of what he spoke of - good to see someone giving talks like this. And judging from the audience, most who attended could use a healthier lifestyle (our town has it's issues, like most of America I'm sure).

But the greatest thing to me was that he told us that he was a Christian, and he actually prayed for the audience at the end of his talk. You could just see that he really wanted to reach these people. This was not a spiritual meeting, but he wanted to bring God into the picture and he did it in non-threatening way. Todd and I, of course, were totally fine with him praying and I thought it was awesome. We live in a very secular town - these people needed the prayer.

I loved hearing some of his history. How he met his wife when they were 10 years old. They celebrated their 50th (I believe) anniversary this weekend. How they were living in New Zealand when they first started his cooking show. Apparently, there were only 15 TVs in New Zealand at the time and he said that not many shows can boast 100% viewing - all 15 TVs watched his show! His wife decided a change was needed in his show and began directing the program. That's when he began displaying his outgoing personality on TV. My Mom and sisters watched his show with me when I was very young. We thought he was so funny and wondered what it would be like to be in the audience. Didn't he always invite someone (usually a female) from his audience to dine with him at the end? Seeing him brought back a lot of childhood memories. Our family was big on charades and The Galloping Gourmet was always an easy one to act out. I'll let you think about that for a bit ...

It was fun to have a little date with my husband, sitting together and holding hands. We were home by 7:30 pm, which was good. In typical Kate fashion, the night was not without its mishaps. I had sent a check for the tickets (by donation only, the proceeds going to the festival by Mr. Kerr's request) and was told by phone that our tickets would be held at the box office. Calling the box office on the day of the event was useless - there's not always someone there to get the phone (small town, remember?) That night, there were no tickets there for us at the theatre. But after earnest explaining, they let us in. When Todd and I were walking down an aisle to get to the front, I nearly ran over an older lady. I apologized and continued on my way. You guessed it ... I found out a few minutes later that I had nearly knocked over Mrs. Kerr!! When Graham introduced his wife to the audience, I nearly died of embarrassment. Fortunately, she couldn't see me from where she was sitting and she was so nice, I'm sure she forgave me. Still.

They really seem like a terrific couple. I'm so glad they came to our town this weekend. I wish our weather had been nicer but they're used to rain, living in WA. It has been raining for days. I think the term "muggy" must have been invented in this place.

Oh, thanks for praying for my blog friend on HSB. I really appreciate it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Please Pray

My blog friend on HSB, thystledown, posted this morning that her husband passed away suddenly on Labor Day. I had not visited her blog in a couple of weeks and felt led to visit tonight - now I know why. Please pray for her. She has two children and they just recently moved from Texas back to New York (her story is all in the archives on her blog). It was such a shock to read her short post. I had followed her Texas story from the beginning and was looking forward to seeing how things went with the move back to NY.

Please pray for this lady and her family. I'm still in shock. I can't imagine how sad she and her children must be. Thanks for your prayers.

Friday, September 10, 2010

It Wood Be That Time

It's that time of year again, when I usually spend way too much time locating a good source for our winter fuel. (Oh, no, NOT the firewood post again!!) You know the drill ... calling on newspaper ads, driving around looking for "For Sale" signs on pick up trucks filled with a cord of wood, pestering anyone in the yellow pages who might be able to help me find SOMEONE who has firewood - at any price!!!

But this year was different. Todd had mentioned a few times that we needed to get firewood. I was waiting for payday. Yesterday, I called the guy who sold us wood last year. He called back and, thankfully, Todd answered the phone (sometimes, it's just easier for a guy to talk to a guy about wood, at least in these parts). Two cords, no hemlock, same price as last year, delivered before 10:00 am tomorrow. No way!! It just can't be that easy!

But it was. The only catch was that Todd wouldn't be here in the a.m., which I had thought would be a mild inconvenience but wasn't after all. Last year, the wood guy (Al) showed up with two pick-up trucks that looked like they had seen better days. His two helpers were real characters as well. I'll be kind and not go into detail. Anyway, I was a bit apprehensive until they showed up (at 10:00!)

Al's trucks were in better shape. They didn't have to push the one to get it going. A different truck, perhaps (business is that good, maybe?!) His only helper was the same as last year but this time, he was clean and sober, not shaky and limping like last year. Same sense of humor, too. And they were so quick! It was a much more pleasant experience this year, probably the best it's ever been. If you've been my blog friend for awhile, you know my past experiences with firewood. Anyway, this year was a piece of cake. When they were done unloading the wood in our driveway, Al smiled and said, "Have fun!" I shook his hand and thanked him. Now the hard work for us would begin.

My whole family chipped in and helped with the loading. We had to clean out the fenced area where we store our wood and take out what was left from last year. Then stack the new wood, and restack last year's on top to be used first. Chad did most of the work this time. When Todd got home, he helped before going to bed since he works tonight. Alec and Carmen did what they could. I worked with Chad and later on my own, when everyone else was tired. Errands and dinner got in the way but we got it nearly done. One day! Unbelievable.

Watching the boys work together today made me realize that I was actually seeing the fruits of my labor. For years, I have been taking the boys out with me to teach them to stack wood. Oh, it was SO difficult! Chad was just so hard to keep on task, arguing and running off, and Alec would complain and give up too soon. I sometimes resorted to letting Alec keep Carmen company so Chad and I could stack but I knew it wasn't teaching Alec to work. But today, they worked together and I knew that my efforts had paid off. In fact, Chad did a lot of the work without me, including putting together the rack we keep near the door and stacking some of the wood there, as well as showing "Al" where we wanted the wood unloaded. What a blessing that I can rely on him for things like that. It wasn't that long ago that I wondered if he'd ever be responsible to take on these kinds of tasks without being supervised. He's really grown up so much in a lot of ways, it's a joy to see. Helps to balance those times when he can still be exasperating!

And then there's Carmen. She has wanted to help stack wood ever since she was old enough to pick up a small stick. She has always been so small that I was nervous having her out there around the wood pile. Wood has a way of falling, hard and chaotic. I have a sore foot to prove that theory. But Carmen has never been afraid and helps out as long as she can. It was drizzling when we started but by the time the kids got tired, the sun had come out just hot enough to make stacking kind of miserable. All the kids went in at that point. I stayed out working and dodging the yellow jackets, bumble bees and wasps. This evening, there was some rather large flying thing. It was huge. It buzzed my ear and I ran, screaming behind the gate. I waited. Ventured back out to the wood pile ... I could hear it's wings humming. Couldn't see it. Deep breath. Continued stacking wood, beating each piece on the driveway to remove spiders. That darned thing buzzed me again, sending me off to the gate. More waiting. Geesh, I just wanted to get things done, you know? I spent the next half hour gingerly approaching the pile, pounding wood and stacking, all the while listening for the thumping wings. I never saw it again and I hope I never do. At least there were no snakes this time.

I'm so thankful our winter fuel is here, paid for and ready to heat our home, even when the power goes out. God is good.