Thursday, June 26, 2008

Today we had some church friends visit us. The idea was to come for lunch, then spend the afternoon baking bread. Alexa wanted to see how my grain mill worked. We did make a loaf of sourdough bread, but that was it for the baking. We were having too much fun fellowshipping together. Allen talked Alexie into a game of chess. (Allen won.) Our families are very like-minded. We enjoy the simple back-to-basics livestyle. Our children get along splendidly. There was a moment at lunchtime when I looked around the table and felt sorry for Allen since he was the only boy with 9 women. He didn't seem to mind though. Our children spent the afternoon swimming, riding go-carts, and playing games. Don't they look happy? I'm not sure if Elaina or Ruthie was the bigger daredevil on the go-carts.
Both of our families have an Anna. They both have the same personality. Both like to please their Mamas. They both have the same curly ringlets and the same beautiful smile. What a blessing they are, and what a joy it was to spend the day with kindred spirits.

Is it really Friday already?! My days are busy, but I'm enjoying this summer. Hope you are, too. Stop in for a glass of iced tea. We'd love to have you.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yesterday we went to my brother, Mike's, home for a picnic. It was very nice ~ relaxing, talking...and yummy food. Of course, the star of the show was our new niece, Abigail. Here's Ruthie getting her turn to hold her.
Maggie took a turn too, but at a price. Her hands are still hurting her today.
My immediate family had a fun time touring Mike's home because this house used to be a weekend getaway house for our family. Mike bought the house from my Dad. Mike added a basement and pushed out two walls. We had a fun time remembering how everything used to be.Mom and Dad gave Mike and Leslie this table and chair set as a wedding gift. See the middle circle on the table? It turns like a lazy susan. I thought that was a nice feature. There is also a matching setee. This set may not look like it, but it is heavy cast iron and will last a lifetime.

Uncle Norm came. He's looking much better than I hoped. He spent a lot of time talking about Aunt Joan (recently deceased) which I think was good for him. He invited us over to Broomes Island to go boating and fishing. That's one invitation we'll take him up on!

Enjoy your Sunday. Our evening service has been canceled because of VBS this week. Hope you are having a relaxing day also. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Friday, June 20, 2008

Today's weather was perfect ~ highs in the low 80s. Ruthie and Maggie went to Virginia for the weekend with my Dad. Bad mistake since I miss Ruthie so much. I took Anna, Lizzie and Allen over to Dad's pond (at his Maryland home) to go fishing in their paddle boat. It is so much fun.
We got a nice surprise when my nephew, Dustin, and his puppy, Dixie, showed up to fish. I guess great minds think alike! Poor little Dixie didn't enjoy the boatride. She whined the whole time. She should've stayed on the pier with Auntie Kathie:-)
Remember last year's drought? Well, here are the before and after pictures of the same spot. Even though Dad has a lot of cleaning up to do with fallen trees, this year's picture (bottom picture) looks so much better!
These pictures show the other side of the pier. See how low the water is below the pier? Now the water touches the pier. Dad is going to raise the pier a few inches.

Well, we went ahead and did it ~ we got high speed internet!! It was a breeze downloading my pictures. It used to take 3-5 minutes per picture. Tonight it took me 3 minutes to load all the pictures in this post. I am enjoying this so much!We also finished cleaning out half our basement. One third of the basement is now a game room. Here are the foosball table (gift from neighbor) and the air hockey table.
And here are the pool table and ping pong table, both from freecycle.
We also got this 8 ft long table from freecyle. It's great for playing table games. I like that we can stack all the chairs and use the table for craft projects. If you haven't discovered, you're missing out! Fortunately, I give away just as much as I pick up.

So we are feeling blessed to have this nice area for our children and their friends. Tomorrow I have the house to myself ~ rare treat ~ so I hope to accomplish great things. Hope you have a restful weekend. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy 21st Birthday to Sarah

This has been an incredibly busy week, so on Monday we all pitched in to make Sarah's birthday dinner. I tried to find a picture of Sarah to post, but she always had a funny look on her face. And right now we are cleaning out the basement, so I can't get to the bin of family pictures.
Finally we got dinner on the table. I see by the clock that it was 6:40 pm. But it was worth it...dinner was delicious.
We had a family favorite, shish kabobs. It was a real feat to grill these because we were in the middle of a severe thunderstorm.
We also had fruit kabobs. I didn't expect to enjoy these because of the glaze on them, but they were so good! The glaze had honey, brown sugar, cream of coconut, lemon juice and pepper. Yes, black pepper, and that made it.
Maggie made Texas brownies which are chocolate brownies with caramel icing. Everything was so delicious.

This morning, Sarah, Maggie and Anna, are off to voice lessons. We are so excited. Hopefully I will talk the girls into taking a picture there. They are taking lessons from Audrey who taught Sarah several years ago. She's the best!

As I mentioned, we are busy cleaning out the basement, so hopefully I will show pictures of it tomorrow morning. "before" pictures, just after pictures! Hopefully when we are done, it will be easier to keep dustfree.

We are enjoying beautiful weather this week. Our raspberries are prolific, but the deer are keeping the rest of the garden well trimmed, much to the children's dismay.

It is hard to believe my baby has turned 21. Sarah was born in San Diego, CA. She enjoyed the outdoorsy California lifestyle and found it hard to come back east to the land of heat and humidity. Sarah has one more semester to finish for her English degree.

Many blessings ~ Kathie

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Recipe for Sourdough Chocolate Brownies

1/3 cup Butter or margarine
1 cup Sugar
2 (1oz) squares Semisweet chocolate
¾ cup All-purpose flour
½ cup Starter
½ teaspoon Baking soda
½ teaspoon Salt
½ cup Chopped Walnuts or pecans

Grease a 9 inch square baking pan; set aside. Preheat oven to 375F. In a small saucepan, melt butter or margarine and chocolate over low heat; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, salt and sugar; set aside. Stir egg, sourdough starter and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture.

Beat until blended. Stir into flour mixture until blended. Fold in nuts. Spread in prepared pan. For a more even surface after baking, make batter higher in center of pan than on sides. Bake in preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes or until edge begins to pull away from pan. Cut and remove from pan. Makes 12 to 16 brownies.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The girls are sure enjoying their new cousin. She's grown so much lately, as new babies do. We also had a new baby at church recently. It is just wonderful to have babies in our lives!

I have been unable to post this weekend because of internet woes. We installed High Speed Internet, but it was terribly slow and wouldn't let me access my blog account. So we ditched that and now we're back to regular dial up...but at least that is faster than high speed! Our problem is simple...we are too far off the beaten path.
This is a batch of early snow peas that I buy at the health food store (but it's grown locally). We love the taste of these. We tried them on our tacos instead of lettuce, but it felt like eating toothpicks!
So we had toothpick tacos! Can you get an idea from this picture of how uncomfortable it was eating it? Usually I put the pea sprouts on the countertop and my children grab handfuls and munch on them. I guess we'll stick to that method.

Maggie has three piano students coming today, so we're trying to get all our noisy chores out of the way before they arrive. Enjoy your week. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She's a girl!

Beautiful Abigail June was born this morning at 1 am, in the middle of a loud thunderstorm. Simba said things were shaking inside the hospital. I was home praying fervently that the electricity would stay on where they were. Little Abigail looks so much like my babies, especially Sarah. Abigail is my first niece on my side of the family. Wait til she comes to visit and sees all the baby dolls and tea sets we have!!
Does my Dad look happy or what?! Sarah, Maggie and Anna went over this afternoon to meet Abigail. Oh what a wonderful time. Our family enjoys babies so much.

My sinuses have gotten worse, so today I am taking large doses of garlic and goldenseal root (natural antibiotics), as well as mullein (decongestant). I have very little energy, so I have only done the basic chores and many crossword puzzles. But I want to get well so I can meet little Abby!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Doesn't this look like a great way to spend the afternoon in 90+ heat? The best part about my Dad's pool is that it is in complete shade by 3 pm. Of course, it makes for a cool pool in early spring and fall, but for the summer season, it's great! Last week I got this catalog from I had a lot of fun browsing through it. It has a little bit of everything: pottery, pictures, curtains, knick knacks, etc. I especially liked the wall plaques. Here are my favorites:
We never have a problem with smokers around here, but I still thought it was funny. I don't know how well you can see these pictures, so I'll write the sayings. "I hate four letter words...Wash, Cook, Dust and Iron." Actually, I enjoy everything about housekeeping...except dusting. That's why I have very few knick knacks.
I thought this one was cute. I have to admit, Allen has always been the more studious type, so I can't complain.
I thought this one was hilarious: Motto to Live By: Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, latte in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, "WOO HOO, what a ride!" It's not biblical, but it sure is funny.
This was my absolute favorite: "Live in such a way that those who know you but don't know God, will come to know God because they know you..."

The Country House is located in Salisbury, Maryland, about 2 hours north of us. I'm not sure how they got my name, but I'm glad they sent me their catalog. I think their prices are steep...but everything is steep these days! The only thing I know that has cost the same for 2000 years is Jesus' gift of eternal salvation. It's free! "Call upon the Name of the Lord and thou shalt be saved." No middle man or obnoxious salesman, go straight to the top.

We're off to violin lesson. I am praying that the severe storms that are expected today will hold off until we return home. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Friday evening's company was fun. We had a good time of fellowship. But I am officially tired of brisket. Earlier in the day I sent Allen out to wash the porch furniture. I was planning on the seven older children eating outside. But this weekend we are having temps in the 90s with the dewpoints in the 70s, so all 22 of us ate inside.
On Saturday evening we went to Lizzie's violin recital. The performances were wonderful. See the three little cuties in the front row in the smocked dresses? They played so well! By the time it was over they looked tired. We couldn't get them to smile for this picture.
Lizzie played beautifully. We are so thankful that the Lord has given her this talent. We hope all of our children grow up to be church musicians.

I made dairy and egg free chocolate chip cookies for the refreshments. Instead of the three eggs, I used a tablespoon of sourdough starter. I was really surprised that they turned out so well. I tried the same thing with my brownies, but they were a total flop!
Maggie has five hanging pots of lettuce that are doing well. Can hardly wait for them to mature!
Our peach trees are doing really well. This is the first year that the coons have let the peaches mature on the trees. Lizzie likes to cut up six peaches and put the slices in a pot of oatmeal for breakfast. Yummy!

Jake and Flipper are doing well and growing big. They spend all their time outside now. At night when it's time to put them in their cage, they dash past us to hide under the porch. They are really good at dodging us.

We are back to piano lessons today. My children will be taking their swimsuits to swim in Mom's pool afterward. We hope to set up our own pool tonight. This hot weather makes me so thankful I'm not a pioneer of the old west!

Many blessings ~ Kathie

Friday, June 6, 2008

Today is a busy day here. We are having 4 families over for dinner, so we are busy cleaning and cooking. Already the kitchen smells delicious.

In our family, we watch a lot of Roy Rogers movies. So dressing western is a commonplace thing around here. My children enjoy twirling 6-shooters just like Roy. Here's Allen showing his skill. Ruthie is pretty good too. In fact, she can twirl nonstop while holding two baby ducks!

Here's Ruthie with her little charges. She loves to whittle with her pocket knife. My five youngest all have pocket knives and enjoy using them. It has taken me a long time to get used to that. But so far no one has gotten least not that they've been willing to tell me about.
Ruthie also enjoys her Davy Crockett outfit (please don't try to convince her it's a Daniel Boone outfit). Now that we've been to the Alamo, this costume has a whole different meaning for Ruthie.
When my daughters were down in Virginia weekend before last, they had a good time swimming in the river and taking boat rides. Anna took her new camera and was able to take these next pictures. The first picture shows the lighthouse, the second pictures she took through the binoculars. Who would have thought of that?!
I think this picture is pretty enough for a postcard.
Anna also had fun capturing motion. She has many midair photos.

Well, I'm off to the dump, then to the chiropractor. This afternoon we will bake a sourdough chocolate cake and set up our sourdough dinner rolls. In between we will do our cleaning.

I was planning on putting the children outside on the porch for dinner, but the weatherman says it will be in the 90s. So I need a Plan B.

Have a good day. Many blessings ~ Kathie

Recipe for Sourdough Chocolate Cake

1/2 cup starter
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups powdered cocoa (not instant)
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup cold coffee

Mix all dry ingredients together and whisk to combine. Add everything else. Mix with a mixer until smooth. Pour into 9x13" glass baking dish that has been greased and floured (don't skimp). Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

I usually turn the oven off the last five minutes and let the cake remain in the oven during those five minutes. Do not overcook.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Aunt Marilyn (Mom's sister) and Uncle Gene came down for Aunt Joan's funeral and wake. It is always good to see them. Aunt Marilyn used to come to our Graham reunions for years, so she knew many of the people there. Of course, by the time the morning was over, she knew everyone there. Reminds me of my hubby! (And yes, the Graham reunion is my Dad's side of the family.)
We buried Aunt Joan in a lovely memorial garden with the most beautiful landscape I have seen in a cemetary. The flowers were all beautiful, even those that weren't yet in bloom (the sedum especially). The cemetary was only a mile up the road from the funeral home. Afterwards we drove a few miles down the road to the old 2-room school house (shown in picture above) on Broomes Island. My uncles and cousins all attended this school. Now the building is used for civic functions. It is a stone's throw from Uncle Norm's waterfront home.

I asked my cousin, Richard, where the principal's office was. He just laughed (hee, hee ~ I had heard all morning about Richard's reputation).

(Added later: In the above picture, my brother Mike is walking toward the camera, and my brother Floyd is in the white shirt and black tie.) I am so glad they left the blackboards up in the classrooms. On the wall there is a large aerial photo of Broomes Island taken 25 years ago before the building boom (I didn't get a picture of it). Large tobacoo fields as far as the eye can see. Now there are homes on every 1-acre lot.
I found a few pictures from Texas that I'll share with you. Texans pride themselves on doing everything big. They are even proud of their big fly swatters. While we didn't see any flies on Padre Island, we did hear that the flies are big once you get inland.
This is the underside of a starfish Allen found one night.
This is the right side. Almost the color of a rattler! Our starfish up here in Maryland are orangy-red and smaller. After seeing a documentary about how rattlers like to swim (especially around the Florida Keys), I would think this was a snake!

We had an early morning today. Maggie, Anna and Ruthie left at 7 am to go babysit four children. They will have so much fun.

Yesterday we had a string of violent storms that lasted well into the night. Even church got canceled! This morning we walked around and we were surprised to find all our trees still standing.

Many blessings ~ Kathie