Monday, July 30, 2012

My Amish Experience

I don't know much about the Amish.  I know the stereotypical stuff, like they drive buggies, not cars.  I also know they dress very plain and modest, and don't use electricity.  Our family is now living in central Wisconsin.  There is a lot of farm land, and a large Amish population as well as Mennonite.  I have been doing some reading about them, and it is quite interesting.  I also had my own Amish experience (beyond the farmer's market).
Recently, I was given some quilt blocks from my great Aunt Jean.  My great-grandmother hand stitched them.  To tell you the truth, I was not that excited about them initially.  They are a very old-school pattern-the Dresden plate, and also had very plain material.  With my mother-in-law in town last week, we decided to get them out and see what we could do.
First, a material hunt.  We went 3 places, and Wal-Mart won out with the best suited material for these antique treasures.  We sashed away, and the quilt started to come together better then I could have imagined.  I like our color choices, and the quilt is pretty.
Next, we had to decide how to quilt it.  A friend in Little Rock has a long-arm, and I love to quilt on it-put anything on it, and it looks great.  One drawback though is that is does all-over quilting.  I want to do more specific quilting.  One thing around the plates, another for the sashing and accent squares. This can be done on the long-arm, but I'm not sure I've got the skill set!
I knew there was a little Amish store (the screened in front porch of a farm house) about 20 minutes from me.  I knew they had quilts.  We decided to go.  I wish I had pictures.  But, the Amish do not want their pictures taken (this could encourage vanity) and I don't want to offend them, so phone and camera were not with me.  My in-laws were with me and soon Dan was out in the barn looking at a loom to make rugs.  Kathryn and I were admiring the beautiful quilts-all quilted by hand.  They cost between 500-850 dollars.  This sounds like a lot, but on-line similar quilts can be in the thousands.  The actual quilting was gorgeous, the patterns and stitching so beautiful.  I had brought my quilt top along, and as I got more comfortable with Sarah (woman of the house) decided to show it to her.  Of course, it was very basic compared to their appliqued beauties.  We discussed how to quilt it and patterns to use.  Because I'm not a hand quilter, I don't have stencils, etc.
Then the fun began.  She got her mom, and they pulled out a box they called "trash and treasure".  In it we found the neatest patterns made from various papers-most often though old corn flakes boxes.  They would twist and turn the patterns demonstrating how to pencil them on just right.  After some more discussion-I hired the mom to mark the quilt. She is charging me only $15.00!!  I couldn't believe it.  It should be done in a week or so.  They will mail me a postcard, since they don't have a phone to call.  She will use pencil on the white and soap of the darker boarder. I still have to decide how I will tackle the quilting.  Dare I do a by-hand project (it is almost king-size) or do I attempt to do it by machine?
Such a neat quaint-go-back-in-time experience.  I really enjoyed myself.  We only had Vinny with us and he is such a runner-he kept going into the house and I would have to chase him out.  I would have been more embarrassed but Sarah has four young kids and seemed to understand. Things I noticed: The house was not super clean-in fact it was dirty.  She apologized for not having her morning chores done (she had already milked cows by hand). There were simple pallets on the floor where kids had slept-baby toys strung all over-egg shells on the counter, etc.  She had running water, but a very shallow sink.  Wooden floors and furniture was sparce.  A beautiful big stove though-as this is where they cook and how they keep warm during our long winters. The kids don't know English yet-the oldest some, but not great.  They speak German-or perhaps Pennsylvania Dutch-not clear on the differences.
Sarah asked me to do her a favor and make her some business cards, or go to a place here in town and have them made.  She doesn't have a car or any way to do them.  "She'll pay me of course."  I am excited to do this, and maybe build a bit of a friendship with her.
I continue to study about their culture and religion (trying not to stick my foot in my mouth) and came across, on Wikipedia a court case in central Wisconsin about the Yoder family and going to school past 8th grade.  Interesting, that Sarah's last name is Yoder-and now I'm wondering if this case was about her or a family member.  The one-room school house is located across the street and had some rustic playground equipment, and again-quite plain.
Kathryn's foot at the top! 
Well, I'm excited to get my quilt back and see the markings.  I could pay them to quilt it for 2-300 dollars.  I'd like to try it on my own first and see how it goes.  The above picture doesn't show the outer border that added quite a bit.  I had a tenth  Dresden plate square that we cut in fourths for the corners.  It really does look nice.  At the "Country Quilt Store" Kathryn bought a log-cabin pillow cover, Dan bought a rug and some home-made jam, and we all had an experience to remember.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Sweet Summer Moment

Dear Readers,

It has been a long, hard summer so far.  My kids have pushed me to my limits.  That, I suppose is why tonight was so special.

I started reading the Lemony Snicket books to my kids tonight.  As you probably know already, the 3 kids are orphaned in the first chapter and things don't get better.  We read through chapter three.
We stopped reading and the kids starting asking all kinds of questions.
"Mom, what will we do if you die and just leave us 3 boys and Vinny?"  Ivan.
"Mom, wouldn't you come back?  I mean later.  When you could?"  Orlando.

Then, they began to tell me that they would miss me.  Actually miss me!

This was a shock.  I have not been the "fun, cool" mom.  They have let me know this through tantrums and fits.
I am the mom that did not buy them that remote control car at the garage sale.
I am the mom that cancelled movie night because they watched too much t.v. in the afternoon.
And that's just today.  I've also been griped at this week for making them take baths, 
timing their computer time, 
doing chores-yes, they have to clean!, 
making them go to their practices, 
put away laundry, 
and two weeks ago packed up a sack of Lego's because they wouldn't help clean. (That's worth another post ;).  

I really wasn't sure these boys liked me much with the fits they've dished out lately.  Maybe it is the heat, lack of routine, or a "phase" but they have been challenging.  All at once.  And all 3 of them.  Plus Vinny is mobile and into it all-even running (it's so cute!).

Well, they started talking and even tearing up... and I told them that if I died, they could live with their favorite cousins, and they would have grandparents to help them.  Then, they were a little better.  But I have to admit, it touched me when they teared up at the thought of me being gone. We had a sweet talk, and I won't put it word for word here, but man I love those kids.

Yes, the ones who don't pick up their Lego's,
have appetites for hot-dogs and ice-cream and that's it,
complain about cleaning constantly,
and who recognize bath as a four letter word ,
and believe every broken, nasty toy at a garage sale IS worth 5 bucks.
Yep, those kids.  I love 'em and can't imagine life without each one of them.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Divisive and Strange

I told myself I wouldn't blog about politics any more.  I don't want to cause riffs-and really I'm not a confrontation person.  Still, I can't handle some of what I am seeing.  I deleted my "Patriotic blog" and I've tried to be quiet, but look at these!  Both of these pictures I find offensive and just weird.

First picture:  What?  I'm not sure what God's law they are talking about.  Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and God what is God's? Are they talking about abortion and birth-control?  I'm not sure what the message is, but I don't like it.  It strikes me as divisive and strange.

Second picture:  Whoa!  So I understand this one-I think.  The idea being that Christ didn't discriminate and that he was a great healer.  But, I so don't like this.  Think of how the argument could go the other way.  Christ healed-but he didn't ask others to pay for it.  Christ sometimes asked the person to go wash themselves in a river 7 times-which could be compared to doing what you can for yourself.... Christ invited others to come unto Him, but he didn't mandate it.  I don't know but I think this argument could go either way-and we shouldn't go there at all!!   It strikes me as divisive and strange.  Plus, the inference is terrible-if you disagree that a big government program isn't best to take care of people-you are obviously not being Christlike.  (Wow.  There is a lot of judging in that!)  I'd love to bring up "No Child Left Behind" and compare it-but I'll save that for another post.   Maybe.  Or maybe I'll learn to be quiet.   

ps. Both pictures were from Facebook.  One my sister in law took with her camera, the second has been posted on many a "wall".

Friday, July 6, 2012

Perfection of the cookie!

Today I am a food blogger.  I'm taking a photography class with my little Sony Cyber-shot.  It is amazing how much it can do.  (I had no idea!)  So, here is a post, complete with a recipe!
Also, I'm dedicating this post to one of my best girlfriends, Jen Schwartz.  She is amazing with the camera, and loves chocolate.  I really miss you, and since we can't be together for your birthday, here is a post just for you!

It's hard to love anything more than the perfect cookie!

This shot uses the pretty china, just to mix it up.  Also, you can see the chocolate chip is soft, not hard, just the way I like 'em.


You always include a picture of one of your kids if you are a food blogger.  It's mandatory.

Dunked in milk!  (I liked the colors here.)

Finally, a darker background with milk and plenty of yumminess!
These are all raw shots, without any editing.  That way my cool photo teacher, Jenna with Jenna Beach Photography can see them, in their first form. Okay, ready for the recipe?  It has two secret ingredients-The majority of the recipe comes from a site called
Follow this recipe exactly-including the cornstarch! The second secret is to substitute the butter to Butter-Flavor Crisco.  Trust me on this, it gives an amazing result.  I only cook them for around 8 minutes, and let them rest on the tray for another minute or two, then remove.  That way the bottom is just brown enough, but the cookie is so, so soft.
Oh, one other thing: double the recipe.  You won't be sorry!
Enjoy everyone, and happy birthday, Jen!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thanks for coming, mom!

Dear Mom,
We are so glad you came to visit.  Hopefully, soon I will find the pictures from
Circus World!  It was a fun day!
I enjoyed having you here, please come again soon!!
Love and kisses from the Cheese capital (I know you are craving some-and some peaches and cream, right?  wink. wink.)

G-Ma in Wisconsin Part III: Jurustic Park

There is a little known place here, on Sugarbush Road, called "Jurustic Park".  

 Very creative metal sculptures made of all kinds of things are put together.  People buy them for lawn ornaments and what-not.

My mom claims to be more of an Okie, but she is still a HOG fan!  Look at her kiss a pig!

G-Ma in Wisconsin Part II

 Grandma watched the boys while Josh and I went on a date.

Vincent is just so darn cute!

I couldn't resist this one, my older one with the undies, and the younger one showing off his curvy legs, and cute bottom.  I'm totally in love with my children.  

Grandma OK comes to Wisconsin! Part I

 My mom, known as "Grandma Oklahoma"  came and visited for two weeks.  We had a low-key visit.  It was nice.  We went to the farmer's market, made peach jam, and drove to small towns in Wisconsin for fabric sales.
 We played in the sprinkler, put together puzzles, and watched sadly as OKC lost to Miami.
 We admired the cuteness of this lil' one.

 More pictures coming soon!