September 30, 2009

Home Tour 2009


Brianna made this video for me. A little tour of our home. Unfortunately, Allen was working and I had to run the camera. It is less than professional looking (but the girls tell me it is fine and there is no need to redo it.) So sue me. I can not be good at everything, ya know. (Big smiling face here.)

Our home has been a work in progress . Since we bought it in 2001 we have been working room by room to replace the single pane glass windows, add new base, chair rail and crown molding, and replace the carpet with hard wood floors. We work as time and money permit. Jobs are chosen by order of importance and are often put aside for a time as something more pressing comes up.

We have turned the garage into a school room and bedroom, completely overhauled two bathrooms and the master bedroom and have been in the midst of a basement remodel for two years. We work on inside projects during the bad weather and the outside projects during good weather.

Two things are certain around here. If it is a weekend my dear husband will be working on some project. ( I am usually permitted to watch only as my skills are limited even though I have much know how from my years of observation). And there will always be some project to do.

As soon as we finished making this video, literally two days later, Allen decided to replace the front door. We have talked about it for 7 years (almost 8 but whose counting?) Brianna said she would re-shoot the opening scene for me...but time is limited before our trip so I just put a nice picture here for you to admire. Pretend you are walking through this door instead of the old green one.

Notice the plaque by the front door. Those little squares are what is left of the adhesive numbers that were stuck there when we bought the house. That is the actual size. Do you not think it is funny that someone thought you would be able to see those tiny numbers from the road? Anyway, I tried everything and can not get that stuff off. I gave up about six years ago. We will be replacing the siding one of these days, anyway. Why sweat the little stuff?

One of these days I will dig out pictures of the school room to show you what it looked like before Allen moved in. It was my favorite room in the house by far. I still love it except that it is too cluttered with Allen's work stuff and lab equipment and I start to hyperventilate when I go in there. So that is something I try to avoid.

And without anymore chatter, Art's chili Pepper Presents...

September 29, 2009

Squash Casserole

What is Elisabeth looking at?


It must be really good for her to sneak a taste while my back is turned.



Looks like she thought it was awful tasty. She's licking her fingers!


As I heard the camera click, I heard Emma say, "I got it for the blog!" I turned around and sure enough Ellie was licking her fingers. What is it you ask? My squash casserole. Which is a favorite around here. I get requests from every member of the family for it. They will eat and entire dish in one setting. I have never had a person try it who didn't love it. And guess what? It is easy, cheap and quick.

And because I love you all so much, I will tell you my top secret recipe.

Squash Casserole Chili Pepper style

  1. In a casserole dish big enough for your family, stir together equal parts of sour cream and cream of mushroom, cream of asparagus, cream of celery, cream of whatever soup you like. Oh, if you don't have sour cream you can use cream cheese, mayo or milk. My mom uses yogurt but I don't care for that flavor.
  2. Now stir in some cheese if you have it and care for it. Whatever you have on hand is good.
  3. Add some chopped zucchini, whatever type of squash you like or have on hand (frozen works great, too) and some onions if you like them. We do. Bell peppers would be yummy, too.
  4. Stir it all up. If you have some stuffing mix you can stir that in too. Or some bread crumbs. Or just leave it as is. It is good no matter how you mix it.
  5. If you like cheese a lot, we do, add some cheese over the top.
  6. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until bubbly.
You will be amazed at how quickly this disappears!

September 28, 2009

What Do I Need Manners For?

We take manners really serious around here. A breech in the manners code is a nickel in the vacation jar. (One day I will write about the divine vacation jar.) Before our babies can talk they are taught and expected to use sign language to communicate their please, thank yous and your welcomes. By the time they are old enough to sit in the high chair and eat table food they are proficient in these signs and usually have some command of the spoken word as well.

Now, in case you've not gotten the idea before, I will tell you that Elisabeth is a bit of a Princess. She has 3 older brothers who love to dote on her, spoil her, and give her everything she commands no matter how she asks for it. This has made her my most difficult child in the training of manners and will. It seems they can do faster than I can undo. Don't get me wrong. She is a delightful child. But she does have her stubborn moments, occasionally.

The other day, for example, I was feeding her because I didn't want the casserole all over her clothes. She has not mastered keeping runny food on the spoon between her bowl and mouth yet. So, I was spoon feeding her in between taking bites myself. Only, I got caught up in the conversation and forgot about her for a few minutes. She got tired of waiting and began asking louder and louder until she at last got my attention. I will admit that the fault in this case was mostly mine. I should have been paying attention to her.

So, when she reached the yelling point I did at last look at her. And I told her to "talk pretty." And she did stop yelling and sweetly asked for more. But she didn't say please. So, as I held the spoon near her mouth I told her, "Say more, please."

Do you know that baby looked at me with a very confused look, pointed to the spoon as if she didn't see the need for please because as she said, "IT'S RIGHT THERE!"

September 26, 2009

You Are Invited...

To a Virtual Celebration!

For: Diann and Baby Button
When: Today

Where: At Art's Chili Pepper



After many years of prayer and struggle with infertility, my sister and brother-in-law, Diann and Ben, are expecting their first child the end of October! Unfortunately for me, they were transferred to Italy in the Spring of 2008. Yes, I am pouting that I will not be there for the birth of my niece (okay, so it could be a nephew). And, yes, I am pouting even more that I will not be able to host the baby shower I've been dreaming of since we were much younger. So you can help me in celebrating this momentous event, blog style.
The Guest of Honor

The other guest of honor


Menu

Gram's famous olive-stuffed cheese balls
Phyllo mushroom bites
Crudites with artichoke dip
Miss Ida's ginger fruit salad
~~~~~
Beverages

Mulled apple cider
Sparkling Cranberry punch



Feast your eyes on this mouth watering cake.



Decor



Gifts


Your favorite children's books

In our family books have always been important. Reading a book was much preferred to watching television when we were growing up. A cold Sunday afternoon would find the entire family laying around the living each buried in our own book. As adults, our oldest brother, Diann and I all chose not to have television in our house.

Oh, and Diann loves to shop. And she is super organized and prepared. She already has most of what is needed for a newborn baby. And the rest she is borrowing from me.

So if I were hosting a baby shower, I would ask guests to skip the normal shower items and instead choose their favorite children's book. So, as guests at this shower you are asked to leave a comment with the name and author of your favorite children's book. Baby Button will grow up quick so feel free to include books for older children as well.

A tradition in our family for book giving requires the giver to write an inscription that would include the name of the receiver, giver, date, occasion and a message surrounding the occasion or why that book was being given.

For example I would give Baby Button "the Jesus Storybook Bible." And inside it would say,

"To Diann and Baby Button on the occasion of your baby shower in blog world. I hope as you grow in health and well-being, these stories will help you grow to know and love our Savior, Jesus. That one day you may give your life to Him and receive eternal spiritual good health and well-being. With love from your Zia. September 26, 2009"

As guests, I ask you to leave a comment doing the same. And if you feel so inclined pop over to Diann and Button's blog and wish them so health and happiness, too. I will look forward to seeing what you all come up with. Thank you for helping me to celebrate such a special moment in our lives.

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September 25, 2009

Plant A Radish

And the second performance from the library talent show. Remember about the angles!

Art's Chili Pepper Presents...

September 24, 2009

Week 23 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans


I've accepted Carin's challenge, as a Mom, to get back into the picture. The idea is that once a week you take a picture of yourself with one or more of your children. It's that simple. If you'd like you can post your picture on your blog. You can let me know you posted so I can check out your pics. You can check out my previous weeks or Click the button to add your name to the Mr. Linky. So, have fun!

Today is my dear real life friend and loyal reader, Dawn's birthday. And since I am on vacation anyway and won't be able to post my pictures for the 52 week challenge this week, I decided to go back into my archives and dig up some pictures of me and my buddy together. Unfortunately, the older ones are pre digital so we are limited in choices here. This first one is under our cherry tree on Easter Sunday.



I met Dawn in 1995, shortly before Brianna was born. I was stuck on bed rest, worried about my baby, lonely and bored to tears. If I had known then, what I know now... gee, I would have appreciated those days a lot more.

My sister, Diann, lived with Allen and I at the time and worked for the Navy at a local base. She and Dawn worked together. Dawn would often come home with Di to visit.

She always brought with her some of her delicious baked goods or home made jam. Which is how I got hooked on jam. And then she moved and I had to learn to make my own. Which is how I got hooked on canning. But this is not about that succulent strawberry preserves on a toasted English muffin loaded with home made butter. No, I digress.

Dawn, helped paint murals on the nursery walls for our daughter who was soon to arrive. She helped entertain her older sister who was sick of being indoors. By the time Brianna arrived that August, Dawn was a dear friend.

And this photo is church visitation in a local neighborhood.

That Christmas as she presented Brianna with a doll she had made and Kaitlin with a dollhouse, she was quickly escalated to Auntie.

The following year she retired and moved back to her home in Ohio. Through the years we have kept up through letters, email, phone calls and visits that are not frequent enough.

Each time we meet again, it as if we were never apart. We have shed a few tears together over the years, as life is not always easy, but through that time we have had way more laughs. We encourage each other through diabetes, diet and exercise. Share tales of our baking, canning, and sewing.

I regularly tease Dawn about getting suckered into volunteering for everything... which she loves by the way. Sunday school, bell choir, President of the UM women, head of VBS, church dinners, fundraisers, cake walks... those are only a few of the projects she has going on in her church community. Did I mention her full time job? And on weekends she cooks for her dad. Helps her mom around the house. Teaches, instructs, and guides her niece. Gardens and works on remodeling her own home.

Doesn't it make you tired? It sure wears me out when we've had a visit on the phone. But still, there is a card for each birthday, an email when time permits and visits once a year or more.

With those visits, always comes a Rubbermaid filled with gifts that thrill the children. Often they are hand crafted. The children now look for Aunt Dawn's Rubbermaid and know there will be something special inside. Last Christmas it was pillows for the boys and a quilt for Elisabeth.

Do you feel inadequate yet? Well, don't. Because Dawn will be the first to stand in awe at our little efforts and tell us how amazing she thinks we are. This dear friend, has no idea what gifts she has, or how she touches so many lives in the way she chooses to share them.

Some people have hardship in their lives and turn into themselves and become hateful and bitter. Dawn has seen more than her share of sorrow. She chose to turn those moments into opportunities to serve each and every person she comes in contact with.

I am very excited that we will be able t spend a weekend with her this October. I must not forget her faithful and loyal companion, Buster, her pooch.

This was during a very hot spell, when I was pregnant with Ellie. Dawn, do you remember Allen in the mud?

In looking forward to this trip the girls asked Dawn what there was in Ohio. They tease her about it being the middle of no where. She swears it is a happening place. We have been keeping a list of things in Ohio since her visit in December. In honor of her birthday and our upcoming visit, I shall share it with you all we know about Ohio.

Places to visit

  • Jiff factory
  • Smuckers factory
  • Dawn factory
  • Football hall of fame (this is the only reason Allen is going... just kidding, Dawn)
Famous People from Ohio

  • Annie Oakley
  • Neil Armstrong
  • President Taft
  • The wright brothers
Not so famous people we know from Ohio
  • Lisa and Keith Nichols
  • Aunt Joyce and Uncle Joe
  • my step mother, Judy Paternoster

September 23, 2009

Never Say No!

This weekend the kids performed in the talent show at our local library. The angle on this recording isn't the best. I actually had them do it again so I could get a better angle but I like the spontaneity of this one. So deal with it kindly please.

Art's Chili Pepper presents...


September 22, 2009

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day


I have already shared with you about the great money savings of home baked bread. And because of my earth shattering post about the health benefits of grinding your own wheat and baking your bread from scratch, I just know you have all jumped on the fresh bread bandwagon. Undoubtedly, you will never to return again to the stale, tasteless and crumb-less bread of the grocery store shelves.

Now I would like to tell you about a book that has made those gourmet artisan breads that used to take me an entire day to make, a thing of ease that even Samuel and Aedan can help make.

I found this book when my mother gave me a great article she printed from Mother Earth News. I want to put in the disclaimer that I think this is a great magazine for their ideas on healthful living, simplicity of living and ideas for everyday green living. However, they do have many views I don't agree with. So take what you can from it and leave the rest.

Now this article was about a fabulous cook book called "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." The premise is that you mix up dough for multiple batches, that require no kneading, and then let it sit in your fridge for up to fourteen days. As you need a loaf of bread just cut off a chunk, drop it on a pan and let rise.

No kidding. That's it. This bread is so tasty that I must always bake one more loaf than I need. My family eats one still steaming from the oven almost before I get it on the cooling rack.

The base recipe can be made and then used for different purposes. For example I use mine for artisan loaves to go with dinner, for pizza dough, for pizzelles, and also to make sandwich loaves.

Emma just mixed up 10 loaves worth to put in the fridge for this week. It is so easy I can't tell you until you try it for yourself.

There are lots of different varieties in the book. I am going to give you the light wheat variety here. You can get the all white flour one on the link to Mother Earth News so there is not much point in me wasting my time typing it for you. Plus, I prefer wheat bread to white. I started with the one online to see if we liked it before I bought the book. When got the book I switched to the wheat and my family didn't even notice the difference. So why waste your time on the less healthy variety?

This recipe makes 4 1-pound loaves. You can double or half it as you need for your family. I always do at least two batches at a time. I have the large heavy duty professional kitchen aid and I find this is the maximum flour it can handle at one time. Be sure to check your manual, before doubling, if you do it in the kitchen aid because you don't want to overload your motor. I want to stress that this can just as easily be mixed by hand in a large bowl.

3 cups warm water
1 1/2 T. yeast
1 1/2 T. kosher salt (you can use regular, this is my preference)
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 1/2 cups unbleached flour
whole wheat flour to sprinkle on peel

Mixing and storing the dough:

1. mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5 quart bowl.
2. Mix in remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon, 14 cup food processor or kitchen aid with dough hook.
3. cover, not airtight, and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (about 2 hours) Unlike traditional artisan bread, it will not hurt the dough to sit longer than this.
4. The dough can be used immediately but it will be easier to handle if you refrigerate three hours first. It can now be put in the fridge for up to 14 days.



When you are ready to bake.

5. Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1-pound (about the size of a grapefruit) piece. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal-covered pan for 40 minutes.
6. Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the over to 450 degrees. Place an empty broiler pan on the bottom rack and adjust shelves so that they will not interfere with the dough as it rises during baking.
7. sprinkle loaf liberally with flour ad slash a cross, scallop or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using serrated bread knife. leave the flour in place for baking; tap some of it off before slicing.
8. Put bread in oven. Pour 1 cup HOT tap water into the broiler tray and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until deeply brown and firm. Smaller or larger loaves will require adjustments in baking time.
9. Allow to cool before slicing or eating.

September 21, 2009

How Cocoa Came to Wachter World


In my first post I introduced you to my birds Art and Chili Pepper. Later I told you about how Chili and Art came to be part of our world. And a while ago I told you how my Art disappeared. But the story didn't end there.

While my heart was aching God already had a plan in mind. Each day I started to read the listings of missing and found birds on a yahoo list called Parrotalert911.com . Each time a bird would come up that fit the description I would email the lister and send pictures and we would email back and forth until we determined that none of the 50 parakeets or so that might have been Art, were not.

In doing so, I came across a lady in Lancaster who had a bird that looked very similar to my Art. She kindly told me that no she didn't think he was my pet. As my hopes fell again, though, I made a new friend.

She told me how she went out to her deck one day in the pouring rain and found the fellow just sitting there, "the very definition of bedraggled." He was so weak and tired he just let her scoop him right up.

Audrey and I exchanged emails back and forth in which she shared she had multiple cats and had to find a home for the boy while she looked for his owner. She didn't have a cage for him and so he had to live in a cat carrier for a few days until she could outfit him with one of his own. Due to the trauma of his time in the wild, he was understandably skittish. And because of her cats he had to be confined to a cage all the time. No fault of dear Audrey, who just took the poor fellow in. But less than ideal living conditions for the little guy.

In the meantime, my Chili Pepper was going down hill quick. Parakeets mate for life and in the absence of their mate they have literally been known to die of loneliness. She barely ate, wasn't sleeping right, and had stopped singing altogether. As I watched her lose weight, I was unsure how to help her.

When I heard of Audrey's bird, the Lord laid on my heart the answer to both problems. I would foster Audrey's bird and he would help lift Chili spirits and in return he would be able to fly and have company. I was already reading the listings daily anyway, so I could look for my lost bird and Audrey's found bird at the same time.

And Audrey lived in Lancaster, PA which happened to be on my husband's travel route to Philadelphia for work.

On the evening of June 10th he arrived in Wachter ville and Audrey and I agreed on the name Cocoa, for calling him bird seemed inadequate.

With Cocoa, Audrey sent this comic. Which as a woman who has exchanged a few hundred emails in search of a bird and a bird family, I could well relate to.

September 20, 2009

Blogger Buddie Award

Kat at Heart 2 Heart gave me this award.

"The Blogger Buddies award is my favorite because it is for those you have made a special connection with and you consider them more than a blogging friend but more like family."

I would like to award this to the following bloggers who I look forward to meeting in real life.


Steve @ Gotta Have Faith ~ This is more for my dear husband because I think he and Steve, who happens to be Kat's hubby, would be good friends. They have a lot in common. Steve is working on a great idea about bloggers swapping houses. I hope he gets that hammered out. I think it would be fabulous.

Diann @ Baby Button ~ Well, she is my real life sister buddy and now she is my blogging buddy. What more can I say there?

Jen T @ Many Blessing Equals Busy Life ~ You can see in this post that Jen's family and my family got to meet in real life and quickly hit if off as friends. I look forward to getting to know them better when we are able to have future visits.

Andrea @ Arise 2 Write ~ Andrea and I don't live very far from each other and we are planning a joint trip to Williamsburg, Virginia this December to meet in real life and see the Christmas decorations, which I have always heard were fabulous.

Clair @ Kids, Crafts, and Chaos ~ Well, just go visit her. She is a fun little chickee from Scotland and just a hoot. And she has a little girl named Minnie, which I happen to think is an adorable name. She is currently raising three daughters. Every time I look at a picture of all of them together, I go back in time to when I just had the three girls. Those were some Fru-fru days!

I could literally go on forever with bloggers I would like to meet and reasons why... Actually, I could probably expound on everyone that I read. But in case you didn't know it, I am supposed to be packing for my trip... so, if I didn't mention you here, know that I am just crazy about all of you and look forward to opportunities to know each of you better here in blog world and if the Lord wills, in real life some day.

September 19, 2009

Humane Award

Andrea at All God's Creatures has given us this award. At first, I thought it was kind of funny to pass on to me. I am asthmatic and deathly allergic to dogs. However, while we were reading about it on her page, Brianna pointed out on the side bar about the endangered animal of the day. And then we all said, "Ah ha!" She obviously has read about some of the endangered friends in our home.

You can read about some of our animal mishaps and the cage of death in this post.

I would like to pass this award on to some of my animal loving blogger friends.:

Carol at Joy in the Journey for this fun post about Fletch

Heather Kay at Beauty for Ashes because she even saves the spiders



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September 18, 2009

Cavatelli

"The tradition of Italian cooking is that of the matriarch. This is the cooking of grandma. She didn't waste time thinking too much about the celery. She got the best celery she could and then she dealt with it."

~ Mario Batali


The other day I had some extra ricotta cheese in the fridge and I didn’t want it to spoil. I was baking and had the mixer going anyway so I took the opportunity to make some Cavatelli. If you aren’t a member of my family, you are probably saying what is Cavatelli. Except for Manuela. Do you know what these are Manuela?

It is, in my opinion, the finest pasta there ever was. It was very common in the part of Italy where my grandmother’s family came from. It must be a very localized recipe, though. As I have never seen it in any of the hundreds of cookbooks I’ve read. Even those written by full blooded Italians.

I learned to make this at my grandmother’s side. I would stand in awe as she mixed this dough in a flour well on her counter and formed each piece with her hands. She could work so quickly that in a matter of minutes she would have enough for dinner for a house full of company. With all our gang we can roll about 3 pounds in a half hour, if that gives you any idea of how swiftly her arthritic hands could work.

For those of you who don’t know what a well is let me explain. The traditional method for making pasta is to make what looks like a volcano out of the flour for your recipe. After you make this pile on your counter top, make a little indent in the top. You then add your eggs and other ingredients to that little dent. With your hands you work the flour in bit by bit until it is all incorporated. Then you would continue to knead your dough until it is smooth and ready to form the pasta.

I don’t make mine this way. I have tried. But it is so messy! I end up with dough stuck everywhere and it takes a long time. Especially to clean it up. I make mine in the kitchen aid. As I was mixing my dough on Monday, I was thinking about whether my Gram would approve of this. I think she would. She always loved things that made work easier and she delighted in new kitchen gadgets. She was the first person I knew to own a microwave oven.

So, I mixed my dough and put it in the fridge to sit. And I forgot about it. So when I went in at 7 that evening to make dinner, I saw the bowl and was wondering what was in it. I had already made the sauce so I called the family in and together in the hot and humid kitchen we made this specialty.

As I always do when we make Cavatelli, I couldn’t help talking about this special women. The kids always ask me to tell them about their Nanny. Unfortunately, she developed Alzheimer’s when Kaitlin was an infant. Brianna was the last of my children that she met before the disease took over her life. And Brianna was so young she does not remember her. We buried her when Aedan was a baby.

So, I talk about my Gram and this is how they know her. I try not to think about it too much because it breaks my heart that they will never have the joy of knowing her for themselves. But I talk her about her to them so much, that they talk about her like they have spent their childhoods at her side making cavatille, too.

Here is my dear grandmother’s recipe. It sounds intimidating but I am here to tell you it
is so super simple to make. Even my youngest kids can do it. It will be your favorite, too. And you can wow dinner guests with a little known treat from Italian history. And who does not love Italian food?

1 pound of Ricotta cheese
3 cups unbleached flour
1 egg
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in kitchen aid fitted with dough hook until it forms a smooth ball.
You can work with it right away but I find it easier to work with if I put it in the fridge
for a while.

Dip your hands in flour and rub them together. Cut off a piece of dough about the size of
a lime. Roll between your hands to form a snake, like kids do with play dough. (Actually, when we play play dough my kids practice making cavatille. This is how they get so good at it so young.) You will want to roll between you hands or on a wooden board until the snake is a thickness slightly more than your pinkie finger. If the snake gets too long to handle just cut it in half and keep on working. If it starts to stick just pat your hands with flour again. Don’t
over handle or your pasta will end up being heavy and tough to the bite.

When your snake or rope or whatever you want to call it is about the right diameter, cut it into to smaller pieces using the width of your finger. Now this is the fun part. Dust your finger with flour again. The little pieces should look a bit like a little pillow, if you know what I mean. Using your pointer and middle finger, lay them on one corner. Push down gently while pulling your fingers up and across to the opposite corner. This will form a little roll with an indent in the middle. Spread them on a cookie sheet that has been covered with wax paper, parchment paper or dusted with flour. Place the trays in the freezer as they fill and continue working in batches.

If you are not going to use them right away. Allow them to freeze solid and then transfer to zip lock bags and store in freezer.

They may be cooked directly from the frozen state, but you do not have to wait for them to freeze before cooking.

When ready to cook, bring a pot of water to rolling boil. Add a little salt. Work in batches, about a cup or so at a time. Gently drop into the pot. Have a serving dish with a little warm red sauce in the bottom ready for the finished Cavatelli. If you do not want red sauce you can use a little olive oil. As the cavatelli floats to the top of the water, use a slotted spoon to remove and place in your prepared bowl. Be sure to toss them with some sauce or oil right away or they will stick.

I like to serve these with my fresh garden sauce but if you don’t care to make your own, any good quality sauce will work. I like Barilla or Classico. Be sure to have some nice grated Parmesan and fresh ground pepper to sprinkle over the top. My family likes to have these with chicken parmesean, meatballs or a good quality Italian sausage.

I warn you, they don't look like you have much but they are very filling. I make 3 pounds of ricotta at a time and that is enough for two meals for my family with leftovers for one or two servings the day after. Leftovers are always a treat in our house. If the kids remember they were left over there is always a mad rush to claim them for lunch. They warm up nicely in the microwave.

September 17, 2009

week 22 of 52

Forever In Blue Jeans


I've accepted Carin's challenge, as a Mom, to get back into the picture. The idea is that once a week you take a picture of yourself with one or more of your children. It's that simple. If you'd like you can post your picture on your blog. You can let me know you posted so I can check out your pics. You can check out my previous weeks or Click the button to add your name to the Mr. Linky. So, have fun!

Guess what? I am not here. No, I am on vacation! Woo Hoo! Which means, I can't post my pictures for this week. It may be cheating a little but instead I am posting pictures from this week one year ago. Ignore the dates. The camera was programed wrong for a little while there.

Guess what? We were on vacation. Here I will bless you with some of my favorite family photos from that trip.

This first one is with Miss Bab's fabulous at MGM Studios.

And this is with our year of a million dreams ears in front of Grauman's Chinese Theater I love winning stuff. Actually, when we were on the Great Movie Ride at MGM they gave the ears out to everyone. Which was a really cool picture. Except I couldn't put it up because I was taking the picture. So I wasn't in it.

And this was visiting Lightening McQueen and Mater in Radiator Springs. Which was the high point of the day for the boys. And the girls, too. Except for Elisabeth, who was asleep and could not have cared less.
At the front of Epcot. Which is our favorite of the parks four trips and counting.

And the firework show at Epcot one night. It rained. We were soaked by the time we got to our car. We had fun anyway.

And at lunch with the princess in Norway at Epcot Center. Don't ask me how to spell the name of the restaurant because it is not easy.

And that is, in a nutshell our first 7 days at Disney World 2008.

September 16, 2009

The Wipe Board Tells Me It's Time For Vacation


"A Vacation is having nothing to do and all day to do it in." ~unknown

So our family takes vacation very seriously. As you can tell by this itinerary written on the wipe board in April.

We don't go on vacation until September.

We like to go to Disney World once in a while. We love to take day trips to visit new places. But that is not vacation.

Vacation is when we pack our fishing rods, bathing suits and tennis rackets and head to our favorite, secluded beach for 3 or 4 weeks of doing nothing.

We read, take long naps, soak in the jacuzzi tub, swim, build sandcastles, play tennis, do puzzles, watch videos, color, play games, visit the thrift shop, play putt-putt, celebrate Emma's birthday, give massages, fish, walk for hours on end, visit the galleries and gift shops, stay up late, sleep in, go to the park, swing for hours, roller skate, barbecue, stay in our jammies until lunch time, watch Jim Cramer, eat grits, go to town for Cherry limeade...and that's about it.

Now you know what I will be doing, starting tomorrow for the next several weeks.

Oh, and there is no Internet where we are going. But don't worry. I have been hard at work, planning posts to keep you busy until I return.

I will miss hearing from you all, too. So leave me lots of comments and email. We always stop at Starbucks on the way home to sync up email so I can catch up during the twelve hour drive home.

"Have a great trip. I mean, thanks. I will."

Can anyone tell me what movie that came from?

September 15, 2009

Meet The Wipe Board

When we bought our house we had to paint everything before we moved in as part of the cure for a house that had been occupied by smokers for thirty years. After renting for so long, it was a treat to choose vivid colors for all the rooms.

Except the kitchen. The kitchen was going to receive an immediate remodel and over haul, which would include new cabinets, new flooring, replacing the ancient appliances and new wall color. With that in mind, I didn't spend any energy, time or concern on choosing a color for the kitchen.

Five weeks after we moved in, my husband was laid off. The kitchen moved to the back burner. We would do it as soon as he was back at work.

Two months after he returned to his new job, I was expecting Aedan. The kitchen moved to the back burner until the garage could be turned into a school room and bedroom.

The day after the garage was finished. I gave birth to Samuel. It became clear that we would need to add on to our little rancher. The architect drew up plans and we were excited to get underway. Now the kitchen could not only be remodeled but would be expanded. Since we would have an entire second floor we would no longer need the little bedroom next to the kitchen.

So while waiting to do the addition, we remodeled the bathroom.


And the basement.

Allen moved his office into the school room for a short six month stay while the work got underway in the basement. Two and a half years later we are still schooling at the kitchen table.

And, incidentally, five years after we were going to start the kitchen, we were now expecting Elisabeth. And my kitchen was still the pasty eggshell white my husband had chosen that long ago fateful day.


As a consolation for not remodeling the kitchen for a while longer, ( I was not up to moving out of the house during a very troubled pregnancy in order to add the upstairs) my husband hired a painter to paint the white living room and kitchen for me. How exciting!

I labored over choosing just the right colors and left on vacation. ( I am allergic to paint and can't be around the fumes) When we returned, I instantly knew the terracotta I had chosen was the perfect shade for me. I eagerly bought table linens to match and designed a fall centerpiece for the table. We deliberated and planned the wall hangings to finish the space.

Two years later, my wall hangings consist of a wipe board and three bulletin boards. I fought it for a long time. I didn't really want my dining room to look like a class room. But the day came when I could no longer conduct school without my boards. I gave in and cringed as Allen put nails in my beautiful walls.

And so, today, I would like you to meet...drum roll please... my wipe board.

It is command central in our home. Here we post to do lists for Pa.


Do some quick math.


Perfect our art skills.


Keep games scores.


Mama’s to do list.


Share what we saw on someone else’s blog.


Mama’s even longer to do list.


Count down to vacation.


Leave instructions for the kids.


Play jokes on each other.


Draw more pictures. There are a lot of kids here, ya know.


And post love notes to each other. The letters under that picture stand for, “To Mama From Aedan.” Isn’t that sweet?


In the end. Everyone found my white board so useful that I had to put one up in Allen’s office so that I could reclaim my board for its intended purpose. In case you forgot, everyone else has, that would be school.


As much as my homemaker brain dreams of beautiful paintings and pictures on the walls to complement my dining room. I have come to terms with the wipe board.


In fact, my teacher’s heart thinks this is the ideal place for it. In the school room it never got so much attention.


Actually, my mother’s heart couldn’t bear to part with my wipe board now, either. It keeps our family moving. It keeps our family organized.


Well, and truth be known, it is just too much fun.

September 14, 2009

Welcome to the Country Fair


I have seen so much creativity in blog world! Photography, knitting, crafting, sewing, canning, drawing, painting, poetry, carpentry, decorating, furniture refinishing, cross stitching, building, table setting, flower arranging, gardening, embroidery, pickling, baking and the list goes on and on. Now is your chance to showcase your talents!

To read more about how the idea was born click this button.


To join the fun, grab that camera and take some pictures of your wonders and the kids', and the hubby and put up your post. Follow the instructions below to join the blog hop and get a chance to win some fun prizes.

I was over at A Maryland Girl catching up with my real life friend, when I had to laugh, as she remembered something I had long since forgotten. If you would like to know how serious we take the fair around here, you will have to pop over there for a quick read.

Thanks to all those great bloggers out there who helped spread the word by putting the button on their sidebar or writing a special post to promote it. If you have a minute to spare you might want to pop over to Life in the Car Pool Lane and read her advertisement. She included some clips from the LA county fair ads and they are some funny stuff!

And without further ado. I now present the Wachter family entries.

Samuel's boat made from scraps

And his candle boat made from Allen's scrap lumber

And his tugboat built from a kit and painted to look like Scuffy.

Aedan's candle boat made from Allen's scrap lumber named "The Nine of Us"

He got the idea from Carolyn Haywood's book "Penny Goes to Camp"



Nathaniel's model train display. Do you see that we like vehicles a bit?




Emma's first ever quilt

And here you can see the quilting detail.

My vintage style dress. Made from a 1950's pattern.

Here you can see the detailing on the on the fabric.

To get in on the fun. Here's what you do.

  1. Photograph your goods.
  2. Post about it between now and October 7th.
  3. You can copy the fair banner and upload to your post if you would like.
  4. Look below for the arrow in the blue circle. Click to enter your link.
  5. when you get the option, click the button to return to my blog and see your entry.
  6. Below the blue circle with the arrow click on "Click here for instructions and get the code."
  7. Scroll down to the yellow box with the code in it. Copy and paste the code on the edit Html page on your post.
  8. Publish your post and you should see the Mcklinky blog hop on your post.
No country fair would be complete without candy apples and prizes. Everyone who enters will be entered into a drawing for one of these great prizes.

  • Caramel apple kit
  • Candy apple kit
  • A jar of my prize winning jam
  • A jar of home made apple butter
If you put the fair button on your side bar or wrote a post announcing the fair your name gets entered again. Be sure to leave a comment on this post or on the announcement post to let me know. I don't want to leave anyone out! When we return from our trip on October 7th, Samuel will draw the winners from my special chili pepper bowl. Look for the post announcing winners on October 7th.

I can not wait to see what everyone has come up with when I return from vacation!

Chili Pepper

MckLinky Blog Hop






Merry Go Round Music: (Listen To The Mockingbird/ Darling Nellie Gray/ Turkey In The Straw) - Marvin Hamlisch