Amish Summer

Amish Summer

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


The middle of summer is here and our night blooming cereus is ready to put on it's show.
When I was a child, this was an event at my grandmother's house.  She had a huge plant potted in a large galvanized washtub.  There were sometimes forty or fifty buds on the monster which was about 5 feet high.  My father's family would all come to visit and we stayed extra late to see the amazing flowering.

I don't have room for such a huge plant so I keep mine pruned back to window-sill size.  And I'm perfectly happy with just a few blooms on a summer night.  The picture was taken about 10 p.m. with a flash.  The blooms are about six inches across.

Mid summer is also zucchini time.  They are growing like weeds and get to the size of a caveman club before you know it.  We try to pick ours young and of medium size, but it's hard to keep up with them without harvesting daily.

I love squash dipped in batter and fried in butter.  I could eat a ton of it but have to use restraint.  This year I decided to try getting the same kind of flavor with a slightly less caloric recipe.   This is my version of zucchini pancakes.

1 medium zucchini, finely shredded and squeezed to remove most of the water
2 eggs
1 T. oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. Italian herb blend
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup Bisquick (or flour with 1/4 tsp. baking powder)

Shred the zucchini either by hand or in the food processor.

Squeeze out as much water as possible.

Mix all ingredients together.  The batter should stick to the zucchini and mound up on a spoon.  If it seems too runny, add more Bisquick.  If it seems too stiff to spread out on the griddle, let it sit for about 5 minutes and it will start to loosen up.

 Drop heaping spoonfulls onto a griddle or frying pan sprayed with cooking oil.

Fry till golden grown on bottom, then flip and do the other side.
Dig in!
One batch makes about eight pancakes.

When the workers left on Friday the foundation walls were finished and they had filled the dirt back in against the foundation.

Yesterday they brought lumber to start the framing.  By the end of the day, we had WALLS!

Our contractor is a young Amish man.  The Amish have elevated this building thing to a science.
They started by putting in the floor joists and covering it with plywood.  Then to my amazement, they unloaded the wall pieces from a flatbed trailer.  The walls had all been constructed last week in their shop and all they had to do was lift them up, sit them in place and fasten them together.  And everything fit perfectly!

The first piece in place.

Zip's bedroom walls.

Continuing on.

Almost finished.

We are having the outside of the kitchen sided and re-roofed at the same time so it all looks like it fits together.  You can see how badly the outside kitchen walls need to be re-done.

Being a person who is afraid of heights, the way these men walk around on the tops of the walls just amazes me.

The roof trusses on the flatbed truck.

Today they put the trusses in place and applied the plywood and black roofing paper.
The interior wall studs are done.  A few windows are in.
Things are moving along really well.  It's looking like a house.

I didn't take pictures today because it was so blasted hot that I didn't even want to go out in the late afternoon.  But hopefully will get some tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Catching Up

We had a really nice July 4th.
Quiet, no fireworks or whoopin' and hollerin'.  Just a nice cookout with Brad and Kami.
They supplied all the food and did the cooking too.  Zip and I didn't have to do anything but sit and watch and chat.

The Grill Master in action.

 Brad made his special burgers smothered in provolone cheese.  There are lots of secret ingredients in with the ground beef.  I know one of them is chopped salami.  These are really delish!
We had seasoned grilled corn on the cob, roasted potato slices and creamy coleslaw.  for dessert there was lemon cake with fresh strawberries.

Not a lot was happening on the addition this week.
The blocks for the foundation walls arrived on Monday, but the mason wasn't able to come until today.

He was able to lay one side of the walls today.  It's a slow meticulous job.
I took a picture through the back screen door but it didn't come out well.  Next time after more is finished, I'll walk around back and do a better job.

It's been hot and muggy this week.
I made one of my favorite hot weather salads for lunch.  It's a great thing to make at this time of year with both corn and tomatoes in season.

Corn and Black Bean Salad

1 1/2 cups fresh cooked corn cut off the cob
1 1/2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained. (one can is about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped, Vidalia onion also works fine
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh tomato
1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
salt and pepper

Mix it all together and chill before serving.  Makes about 6 one-cup servings.

I don't know what it is about cats pressing themselves between the window glass and the screen, but here's Reggie being a nut.   Our windows are hopeless for staying clean because there's always cat paw prints on both inside and outside.

In the end, the joy of loving cats outweighs all the little messes they make.  I couldn't live without them.  Right, Deiter???

Don't mess with me, Mom.  I'm on the laptop.

Thanks for stopping by.  I hope you're having a delightful summer.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Groundbreaking Decision

I had mentioned several weeks ago that we are in the process of making some life-changing decisions.  This was the Big One.  For several years Zip and I have debated adding on to our house so that Brad and Kami could move in with us.  Zip was ambivalent about the idea.  I though we really could use the help of two younger and stronger people.  We sure aren't getting any younger.

They have been coming every week and helping around the house and yard and it has been very nice for us older people not to do heavy lifting, raking, mowing, and carrying things up and down the stairs.  There are benefits of having the younger generation nearby.  Besides, I simply love their company.  And work around the house seems to go much more smoothly with someone to share the misery, especially for those of us who hate housework.

We spent several months choosing our contractor.  Then I drew up a plan.  We did the bank stuff.
Finally today we had groundbreaking.  This is what the back of the house looked like last year when the tree branch fell on the pantry.

The pantry, the little add-on with the red door, is being removed so the new addition can be attached to the house.  Note the concrete steps and the concrete foundation under the pantry.

The backhoe arrives.

 The area is being cleared.

 Then it's time to remove the pantry area.  The backhoe dug into it and gave a few mighty tugs and the whole end of the kitchen wall started to come loose.  Uh-oh!  Time for the reciprocating saw! 

 After some careful detaching, the wooden part of the pantry came off nicely. Then for the concrete foundation.  We assumed it was a hollow square of concrete blocks.  Not so.  It was a six foot solid cube of concrete.  Here comes the jack hammer!   Run for your lives, kitties!!!

 Talk about noise!

But after half an hour of breaking up concrete, the rest of the afternoon went very well.

The wooden forms for the footer are in place and crushed stone is spread.

 The cement truck pours the footer while our contractor levels the slurry.

 I really didn't expect so much to be accomplished in one day.
On Monday the blocks will be delivered for laying the foundation.

This is the plan.
Brad and Kami will have their private living area in the upstairs of the main house.  Our private living area will be in the new addition.  We will share the downstairs of the main house, the kitchen, the small sitting room with the woodstove and the large sewing and craft room.

The blueprint for the addition.
There will be a 10 by 10 foot mud room where we will have the washer and dryer plus storage cupboards.
Zip and I will each have a bedroom.  There will be a small living room with a woodstove and a bathroom and a front porch.

 There won't be any stairs for us to climb and will be easily wheelchair accessible if we get to the point that we need it.  Which I hope is no time soon!

I'll be updating as the work progresses.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Horay!!! It's Back!!!

It's 4 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and as of right now my Reading List is back.

Should I mention a certain Old Woman's impatience with technology that doesn't work properly every time.  Isn't the world supposed to be running on computers and if there can be glitches in something so insignificant as blogging, what does that say about the Big Stuff?  If we have to be dependent on the dang machine, shouldn't it be dependable???

Ha!  You thought I was done ranting???  I have a few more left in me.

But for now, I want to thank all of you who contributed ideas for how to get around the glitch.

Also I wanted to comment on the picture of Deiter hanging from the bottom of the window frame.  There's something about that front window behind my computer that makes him crazy.  He stuffs his body up between the screen and the glass as far as he can reach and yowls and wiggles around like a cat possessed.  Then he hangs there and throws his head back like in the picture.  I have no idea why.
I'd love to be inside a cat's mind for an hour!
I guess we all have our whack-o moments.

Have a good day, friends!
Mine will be a lot better knowing all is back to normal in blogging world.  Ha-ha.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Rant, rave, grumble...

OK, I'm ready to tear my hair out.  What little I have left.

 For the quite a few years I've been blogging, I've had a Reading List of blogs I follow.  It's not even a very long list.  Usually less than two dozen, but I do like to read the new posts from my friends every day.  All I had to do was click on the little orange B in the upper left corner of my tool bar and my Reading List would appear with about a half dozen of the most recent blog entries for me to read.
Easy peasy, right???

Not any more!  My Reading List went kaputsky!!!  Only the most recent ONE blog is now appearing with a little view more notation underneath that does nothing when I click on it.


It's making me crazy enough to do this!

So I'm frantically going through and trying to subscribe to as many as I can through email or Bloglovin which I really didn't want to do and it's not available for everyone anyhow.  Aaaarg!

Is anyone else having this problem?  Or if not, do you have a better way of getting all of your blog posts from your favorite blogs all in one happy place consistently every day.

I want blogging to be a happy thing!

I know several other people have had problems of a different type, like losing all their pictures or having a lot of their older posts disappear.  There isn't really any good troubleshooting info to be had, unfortunately.

So if I haven't commented in the past few days, I missed reading your post because my Reading List is dysfunctional and I'm not sure what to do about it.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Feeding Hungry Cowboys

Twice a year Brad and Kami do the cooking for a cowboy weekend at the historic Old Bedford Village in Bedford, PA.

                                                               Last year's buckaroos

Since preparing a menu and shopping for ingredients and packing all their gear is time consuming, I volunteered to help out by baking biscuits and cornbread.  On  the hottest day of the year so far, of course.

Yes I used Bisquick.

Even with something as simple as baking mix, I had a few measuring errors.  The heat must have been addling my brain.  Not that it takes much.

But in the end the 80+ biscuits all came out fine.  They will be used at breakfast with sausage gravy.

That is my grandmother Dickey's (Mom's mom) biscuit and donut cutter which she gave to me a long time ago.

I don't remember if she made good biscuits but she was an excellent baker of pies.  She also made really good chicken pot pie, the kind with squares of rolled out dough that was dropped into broth with cooked chicken.

Those were her two claims to culinary fame.  I tried to find a picture to go with this post but couldn't find one without going upstairs and hunting through albums and just didn't have the energy.

I'm in grave need of a nice relaxing 'Isabel Moment".  Are you ready, Little One?

Yes, we'll rest a while in front of the fan before we tackle the remainder of the day.

She's such a soothing companion!

Tomorrow we make cornbread for the cowboy chili.  Think we can handle more baking, Isabel???

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Daddy Day

                                                       Brad and Zip last summer

Brad and Kami came today to celebrate Fathers' Day and to do yard work.
They have been coming every week to help out with the endless mowing and weeding that is required to keep our property even halfway decent.  Even when we were younger we were never able to totally  keep ahead of all the yard work and now that we're old it's impossible without help.  Thankfully Brad likes working outdoors.

Last week they picked strawberries that I didn't even realize were out there in all the weeds.  Two whole bowls full!  I wasn't prepared.  Didn't have any powdered pectin to make freezer jam (my favorite).  So I sent Zip off to the grocery store to get some before going fishing.  He brought home the pectin and then headed off to the Big Spring and I got to work.  Out came the sugar jar.  Oh no, it's going to be close!  I needed eight cups of sugar and only have seven!  Thank goodness for cell phones.

So on the way home from fishing he stopped and got sugar.  Did I mention that he likes to fish till just after dark???  So at 10 p.m. I'm making strawberry jam.  By 11:30 it is finished and the picture is taken. Kind of a dim photo, but that's what you get that lose to midnight.

Today they dug out hostas and moved them to some new locations, planted lilies, mulched with cocoa shells and mowed.  And picked more strawberries.

                                                      Behind the summer kitchen

Then we had the Fathers' Day lunch of lobster, asparagus, baked potato and salad.  I only took one picture of Zip eating lunch and it came out terrible.  He looked like he had eaten a stink bug!  Ha-ha!!!  Brad and Kami brought an ice cream cake for dessert from Windy Knoll grocery in Chambersburg.  They make their own home-made ice cream which they use in the cakes.  It was yummy.

So here is father and son this year, enjoying a relaxing moment on the front porch.

Thanks for stopping in.  Hope all of you took time today to remember your fathers and to celebrate the men in your life.

 My father (he's the one with his hands on the ears of his younger brother) in 1945 shortly after he came home from WW2.  That's his father holding the two little children and all of his brothers.  There were just as many sisters.  It was a large family.

                                                                    Portrait of my Dad. 
                                                                     He loved fishing.