grandma’s kitchen and other memories

I was thinking about Grandma Ruth’s kitchen this morning. Not sure how I wound up down that road, but it brought back a lot of memories. I think it started when I remembered Grandma giving me a bath in her kitchen sink. I must have been four or five? Or less? But I remember it vividly. She bathed me and then lifted me out of the sink and put me on the floor. She handed me a towel and told me to dry off. I had trouble doing my back. She said, “Didn’t anyone every show you how to dry your back?” And then proceeded to teach me how to hold the towel kitty-cornered across my back, first one way, then the other, as I moved the towel back and forth. Such a vivid memory.

Grandma in her kitchen.

Grandma Ruth

Grandpa and Grandma’s house was L-shaped and had a porch that ran along the inside of the “L” and then along the end of the “L.” Got that?? We’d start at one end (the top of the L) and run! Turn left and run, turn right and keep running so we could fly off the side of the porch. A short drop to the ground and then we’d run around the house and do it again! And again! The porch boards made a thwacking sound as we ran along. Loud!

In this picture, you can see the porch in the background. When I was a child, Grandma had planted shrubs (Bridal Wreath spirea, I think) all along the porch with lily of the valley growing below the shrubs.

Back: Donald, Grandpa, Dad, Grandma
Front: Joyce, Gary, Carol and Linda (Phyllis, the oldest, isn’t in the picture.)

Clarence and Ruth, all kids but Phyllis

The door everyone used entered from the porch into the kitchen. The kitchen table was on the left side of the room and a path of newspapers on the floor led past the table and then left into the living room. The kitchen counters and appliances were on the right and far sides of the kitchen. If I remember correctly, there were three windows in the kitchen. One looked over the back yard into the barnyard. One looked toward the pole barn (in above picture behind the car) and one faced south looking over the front yard and the long driveway down to the country road. There used to be two poplar trees at the road, marking Grandpa’s driveway. They must have been Lombardy Poplars because they grew tall and straight and narrow.

In the kitchen. The window on the left looks east. The one on the right looks south.

Ruth and Clarence in the kitchen

There was a cupboard built into the wall near the table and I found it fascinating that you could open the doors in the wall and find shelves, with dishes and, more importantly, saltine crackers! We’d beg a few to feed the fish, which was always an adventure. Grandpa had a metal watering trough that was kept full by a nearby pump. Grandpa had a little motor there. When he flipped the switch, the cold water would come out of the pump, go down a little piece of pipe and flow into the trough. In the trough were huge goldfish that lived there year round. Moss grew in the water and we’d have to watch closely, leaning over the fencing, to get the first glimpse of the flash of gold as the fish came up for cracker crumbs.

I think this picture of my father was taken when he was in the fourth grade, about the age I was when these memories were made. He said he was embarrassed that day because he had new overalls and they were too long for him.

Alan Ashby

Grandpa and Grandma had a large vegetable garden. It was fun to pick tomatoes with Grandma. She was a hard worker, though, and we usually petered out before she did. My grandparents also raised their own popping corn. One of the few times I was allowed in Grandma’s bedroom was when she told me to look under the bed and pull some popcorn ears from the large burlap sack where they were stored. We shelled the little ears of corn and she made a skillet full of popcorn for us on the kitchen stove. Another treat Grandma gave us were snowballs she saved and gave us to eat in the summer. She gave us a salt shaker for sprinkling salt on our snowballs. Cousins, do you remember eating snowballs? Or was that a one time thing?

Grandpa and his three sons, Donald, Gary and my Dad.

Clarence and three sons

Once, I was fascinated to see a cow giving birth in the barnyard. But Grandma hustled me away from the kitchen window. She didn’t think I should be watching that! There was an indoor bathroom, but we weren’t allowed to use it. We had to use the outhouse at Grandma’s. But the trek to the outhouse was fun. The path led past the rabbit hutch and we’d stop to feed the bunnies some fresh grass or clover. It never occurred to us that Grandpa butchered the rabbits for meat! From there, we had to watch our step, because we had to cut across the chicken yard to reach our destination. One time, when my eldest daughter was three or four, I took her to the outhouse and she peeked in, then said, “Yeah, but where’s the bathroom?” That was an adventure!

Grandma let me help her make soap. She showed me how to churn butter. We picked raspberries together. Her root cellar was a mysterious place to me. Dark and quiet and cool. It was always fun to go to Grandpa and Grandma’s house. My grandma was steady, sweet-tempered, gentle and quiet. I miss her a lot.

Ruth and spring flowers

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ july 24, 2017

Last Saturday, DH and I went to my Dad’s house for a family reunion. I shared a picture of Dad and his siblings in my last post. Another highlight of the afternoon was a drawing for two quilts that had been made by my paternal grandmother and her mother.

The first quilt was won by my niece’s husband. The quilt is embroidered and has blocks for the (at the time) 48 states.

Quilt

The second quilt, a lovely scrap quilt, was won by my Uncle Donald.

Quilt

I captured a picture of Clark napping on the upstairs banister yesterday. He does this a lot! My DDIL dubbed him the “monorail cat.”

Clark the monorail cat

DH caught this picture of him from the other side. The ceiling of the downstairs is 12′ high. That’s a long way down!

Clark the monorail cat

I am happily ensconced in my craft room, working on the embellishments for about twenty Putz houses I’ve made over the past several months. I had been working at the craft desk downstairs and all my extra “stuff,” like embellishments, are upstairs in the official craft room. Here are two Putz houses made from a pattern I drafted.

Putz house

Putz house

Putz house

Putz house

I took this picture one evening as I left the kitchen and headed to my craft desk. The big windows in this old house make for some pretty lighting, especially in the early mornings and early evenings.

evening light

Here’s the menu for the coming week. I’m enjoying using my Instant Pot for meal making. An easy way to prepare a meal. And it doesn’t heat the kitchen during these hot days of summer.

Monday
Cheddar Burgers
Loaded Broccoli and Cauliflower Casserole

Tuesday
Fridge Food

Wednesday
Bacon Wrapped Stuffed Chicken Breast
Asparagus with Lemon Butter
Garden Salad

Thursday
Instant Pot Mongolian Beef
Cauliflower and Broccoli

Friday
Instant Pot Kielbasa and Cabbage
Sliced Cucumbers and Tomatoes

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Garlic Herb Pot Roast in the Instant Pot
Garden Salad
Green Beans
New Potatoes in Butter

Do you have a meal plan for the week? It makes meal prep easier in so many ways! You’ll save time, money and fretting about what to make for supper!

~~Rhonda

family runion

Yesterday, DH and I went to my Dad’s house for a family reunion. This is my Aunt Linda, Dad, Great-uncle Dean, Uncle Donald, Aunt Carol and Aunt Joyce.

My Dad and four of his siblings plus their maternal uncle.

I have a cousin who teaches history in a college in Liberia, Africa. We were glad to see him at the reunion and it was fun to catch up with him and what is going on his life.

We had a great time. Lots of stories shared, lots of laughter, and lots of love! One uncle was not able to come, as he lives in Florida. One aunt has passed away.

I have two brothers and four sisters. One sister wasn’t able to come due to work and another sister wasn’t there due to health issues. We missed everyone who wasn’t there. But those of us who were able to come were very glad to be there. It’s always wonderful to get together with family!

~~Rhonda

a peek at my week

Today has been a quiet day. The girls are gone for the afternoon…one to work and one to an appointment. DH is at work, of course. So it’s just me and the cats. Here are a few pictures of Winston from the past week.

In the kitchen sunshine. He is quite fluffy and has very long whiskers.

Winston

In a box…

cat-in-a-box

Did you notice above that I got a new Ninja blender? Love it. My old blender was awful to use. This is SO much better! And it makes great smoothies!

We also got a counter-top ice maker. Winston cannot stand an unexplored box.

They can't resist, can they?

Buttercup enjoys the Sunday morning catnip treat. When DH picks the flowers for the Sunday bouquet, he always brings in some catnip for the kitties.

Sunday morning treat of catnip

This past Sunday, I went out with DH to choose flowers. The dew was heavy, but the early temperature was wonderful. Later in the day, it was in the high 90s.

gathering flowers

daisies and hydrangeas

Buttercup enjoys the back of the craft desk. Especially in the afternoon when the sun shines in.

Buttercup likes the back of the craft desk.

I did some quilt piecing this past week. I am part of a group of women from our church who piece quilt tops for missionaries and others. We’ve been using jelly rolls which makes for easy piecing and beautiful quilt tops.

jelly roll quilt piecing

And last of all, a food picture. I tried “fathead pizza” which uses grated cheese in the crust. It was very good!

fathead pizza

Just a peek at my week. ~~Rhonda

Putz barn

Christmas Putz Barn

I’ve been wanting to make a Putz barn for some time. The other day I took some time and googled Christmas barns. I saw a lot I liked, but finally found one that really caught my eye on Instagram. So pretty in its rich red and white. I snapped a screen capture to save the picture and began the process of turning it into a Putz.

Putz inspiration

I made a rough sketch with a few notes to determine the size and the placement of openings…

Christmas Putz Barn

Then drew the pattern and made a paper mock-up. As usual, I found a few things that needed tweaking, and made the necessary changes to the pattern.

Christmas Putz Barn

Then it was time to make the poster board version.

Christmas Putz Barn

The barn door seemed too large to leave empty. I mulled that over for a while, then decided to find a vintage Christmas card picture online that could be used. I saved the image, then inserted it in Word and downsized it by a lot. It took a few fiddles to get it to the right size, but in the end…perfect!

Christmas Putz Barn

Next came the paint.

Christmas Putz Barn

And the door and window frames.

Christmas Putz Barn

Then the corrugated “tin” roof. I had thought about painting it silver or grey, but decided that white would be more effective for achieving the crisp red and white that I liked so much in the original picture.

Christmas Putz Barn

I am very happy with the finished barn. There are a few things I want to tweak the next time I make one. Not real changes, but just some finesse in the finished piece.

Christmas Putz Barn

But I think Santa and the reindeer are happy with their new barn.

Christmas Putz Barn

The next step is to make the base, then I’ll embellish the barn with some snow covered trees and Christmas greens.

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ july 17, 2017

As promised, I made mayonnaise last week. After a false start, success! It’s not hard to do, but there are rules to follow. If you want to give it a try, I’d suggest you google for some hits and tips before beginning. Understanding the process helps! I used the mayonnaise to make chicken salad, which was a hit at dinner.

Homemade chicken salad…yum!

chicken salad

Sunday morning, DH and I went out to pick flowers for the Sunday bouquet. The daylily season is well past its heighth, though there are still some in good bloom. Everything was covered with a heavy dew.

Sunday morning daisies

We picked some yellow daylilies, phlox, hydrangea and daisies for the bouquet.

Sunday bouquet

DD’s kitty Buttercup found some quiet time to enjoy a patch of sunlight in the front hall.

sunlight = cat magnet

I found something, too. Inspiration for my next Putz house, which is actually a barn. I took this screen shot of a picture I saw on Instagram and drew a pattern based on the picture. I am in the process of putting it together and will have a post about it soon.

Putz inspiration

In the meantime, here’s the menu for this week.

Monday
Fridge Food

Tuesday
Cheddar Burgers
Roasted Kohlrabi with Parmesan
Tomato and Cucumber Salad

Wednesday
Pan Seared Tilapia
Sautéed Summer Squash and Garlic
Steamed Green Beans

Thursday
Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls in the Instant Pot

Friday
Fried Chicken
Loaded Cauliflower and Broccoli
Corn on the Cob
Garden Salad

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Turkey Roast in the Instant Pot
Mashed Cauliflower
Steamed Sugar Snap Peas
Garden Salad

I hope your week is going well!

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ july 10, 2017

The past week seemed to drag. Because the Fourth was on a Tuesday this year, it threw off my weekly clock! I had a hard time figuring out which day it was because the Tuesday felt like a weekend. This week should be better. Not as much planned.

This morning, while I was making the bouquet for church, the cats did their usual thing…

Clark sniffed the flowers.

Clark

Winston drank the water. DD said, “It’s like cucumber water for cats.”

Winston

Buttercup was her usual standoffish self. Interested but not quite participating.

Buttercup

The bouquet was made with daylilies and branches from a spirea bush.

Sabbath flowers

This week I am trying a few new recipes on the menu. I have never made my own mayonnaise, but am going to give it a try for the chicken salad I have planned for Monday. I have some diced chicken I need to freeze or use. I’m going with use. Because I love chicken salad.

Monday
Chicken Salad
Leftover Stir Fried Bok Choy

Tuesday
Creamy Garlic Butter Tuscan Shrimp
Arugula and Spinach Salad with Lime Dressing

Wednesday
Cheddar Burgers
Loaded Cauliflower
Dill Pickle Spears

Thursday
Instant Pot Kalua Pig (Shredded Pork and Cabbage)
Garden Salad

Friday
Oven Fried Chicken
Steamed Sugar Snap Peas
Garden Salad

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Baby Back Ribs in the Instant Pot
Mashed Cauliflower
Steamed Green Beans
Garden Salad

Do you know what’s for supper at your house? Life in the kitchen is easier when you plan ahead!

~~Rhonda

menu plan monday ~ july 3, 2017

Last week went by quickly. I’ve been working on Putz house bases. When the houses are done, the picture will be on the bottom of the base. A little surprise when the house is turned over.

Bases for Putz houses

I think I will put a barn on the one with the cowboy and the horse. I especially like the angel. The gold highlights are so pretty! She will get a church. Probably in pale lilac to match her wings and green with the faintest touch of blue to match the background.

Bases for Putz houses

I love this card. Isn’t the lighting effect pretty? It has a magical quality to it. I will choose just the right house and will probably paint it in the pinky-red of the mittens and the limey-green of the sweater. The snowflake has opalescent glitter on it, so I’ll use that on the house, as well.

Bases for Putz houses

If you have Christmas cards or any greeting cards you are throwing away, please throw them my way! I can always use more. They will be used in craft projects to raise money to support Kenya Mercy Ministries. All proceeds from my Etsy shop go to this ministry, as well. You can visit my shop here: ChristmasNotebook.etsy.com
Cards may be left whole or the fronts removed. No identifying information will be used in my craft projects.

If you’re Stateside, I hope you’re ready for the Fourth! We are looking forward to having our son and his family here. First the parade (do they throw candy and other goodies at parades where you live?), then the fair (rides and funnel cakes!), then home to grill a late lunch. Should be a fun day!

Here’s the menu for the week.

Monday
Fridge Food

Tuesday / Happy Independence Day!
Grilled Baby Back Ribs
Grilled Ribeyes
Baked Mushrooms in Creamy Parmesan Sauce
Green Salad
Corn on the Cob
Asparagus and Lemon Sauce
Strawberry Cheesecake

Wednesday
Pizza

Thursday
Barbecue Shrimp
Green Salad
Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas and Cherry Tomatoes

Friday
Hamburgers
Broccoli Slaw
Dill Pickle Spears

Saturday
Fridge Food

Sunday
Roast Turkey
Mashed Cauliflower with Cream Sauce
Lemon Roasted Broccoli
Garden Salad

There’s still time to get daylilies, if you’re local. Just let us know. We are happy to make arrangements. All proceeds will benefit the scholarship fund for the presbytery’s summer camp this year.

We don’t have enough of this particular daylily to sell this year, but you might want to make a note for another time. It’s beautiful in its subtle color blending.

‘Techny Breeze’

Daylily 'Techny Breeze'

~~Rhonda

blue and cream Putz house

I so like the way this blue and cream Putz house turned out that I may have to keep it for my own collection.

Blue and cream Putz house

I love the combination of colors. The blue is Apple Barrel 20716 Pool Blue. The cream color is Apple Barrel 20505E Antique White. The colors do darken a bit when painted. I don’t know if that’s because I add white glue and sand to the paint or not. You can see in this picture that the blue on the bottle cap is lighter than the blue of the house. It is very evident in person.

Apple Barrel "Pool Blue"

In case you’re wondering why I put a dab of paint on the lid of the paint bottle… They are stored in a drawer and when I open it, I can easily find just the color I want. The row at the bottom is glitter. I also put the color on the glitter lids. If there’s no color on top, it’s white. The Mason jar with the zinc lid is my jar of white sand that I add to the paint for texture. This is a file drawer, so it’s deep enough to store most of my Omnigrid rulers on the side (at the top of the picture).

Paint drawer

Currently I am working at my downstairs craft desk instead of in the upstairs craft room. Up there, I have a huge drawer full of paint. These are just the ones I’ve used downstairs on projects in the past few months. When I open either drawer, it is so much easier to grab the right color when they are all painted on top the bottle lid! A real time saver.

Back to the blue and cream house! This is the paper mock-up of the pattern. I like to do this before I begin cutting a new pattern from poster board. It shows me if there are any problems that need to be fixed, if the pattern is marked correctly and if the proportion is correct. I make a copy of my master pattern (on regular printer paper) and use that to make the house. If you look at the addition on the left, you can see that the window isn’t centered. I fixed that on my master pattern.

Putz house

Then it’s cut from poster board. I use a light weight poster board that is available at Walmart. The roof is not glued down yet. I paint the roof and the house separately and glue them together when dry.

Putz house

This is the kind of poster board I like. You can see in the picture that I also use other kinds of cardboard. Cookie, cracker and cereal boxes are a great weight. But my preference is the white poster board. That’s probably due to my tendency to be obsessed with details. I want it to be “just right.” Sometimes that’s good…sometimes, not so much!

building a base for Putz houses

The pieces of the Putz house have been painted and are ready to glue together. I like to use the flaps of cardboard boxes to cover my cutting mat while I’m painting. I use them over and over till they are so full of sandy paint that I can’t stand it any longer. Then I pitch them and start fresh. Using a cardboard piece allows me to leave the wet pieces on the board and move them elsewhere to dry so I can work on something else. Really helpful when I’m working on several Putz houses at one time.

Putz house

You might note in the above picture that the roof pieces are bowed. The wet paint does that to them. Because they are scored on the fold lines, I can fold them when they dry and the bow comes out of them. Not a problem.

Glued together. I must have pitched that well painted cardboard flap… In the background you can see the Christmas card on the bottom of the base for this house. There is a lantern in the picture that matches the cream color on the house.

Putz house

I use hot glue for a few places, but most often use white glue. Crafter’s Pick is my favorite. It holds so well and dries quickly. I use only this kind when it’s time to put plastic panes over the windows, as you can see in the background. They never pop off. Using Elmer’s, which I do use a lot for other things, I had some pop-off problems now and then. Crafter’s Pick works much better with the plastic window panes.

Putz house

The next step is to glue the house to the base. Then the snowing fun begins. This house has had the snow placed all around the base of the house. I use hot glue to fix the house to the base. I go all around the base of the house and run a tiny bit up each corner. That helps adhere the house tightly to the base and the snow covers all the glue.

Putz house

I like to use Aleen’s Glitter Snow. I started with Aleen’s True Snow, then noticed on Amazon that the glitter snow was a bit cheaper. I have to say, it does not glitter. But that’s fine. I add my own glitter to the “snow” before it dries. Other than the glitter it professes to have, it seems to be the same as the True Snow variety.

"Snow" for my Putz houses "Snow" for my Putz houses

I store the “snow” in a squeeze bottle which makes it easier for me to use. The bottle came from a cooking/baking supply aisle somewhere. I put the snow in it and then store it upside down in the middle of my old, but wonderful Pampered Chef tool-go-round. Mine has different size compartments which is nice. They call it a tool turn-about now. Did they ever call it a tool-go-round? Maybe I’m disremembering that…anyway, the “snow” doesn’t harden in the bottle and I can squeeze it around the base of the house or on the roof and then use a palette knife to spread it a bit.

"Snow" bottle Tool-do-round

The snow on the roof really sets if off, doesn’t it?

Putz house

Time to glue down the fence. Click this link for a tutorial on making Putz fences.

Putz house

Click this link for a tutorial for making fence posts.

Fence posts

The house is ready to be embellished. Perhaps some silvery glittered “trees” in the background and a couple of snowy, glittering bottle brush trees in the front yard…we’ll see how that turns out another time.

Putz house

Here are links to some of my tutorials for making Putz houses.

Making bases for Putz houses

Making fences for Putz houses

Making fence posts for Putz houses

Making Putz house ornaments from Christmas cards

If you would like to see more of my Putz houses, as well as Christmas ornaments I have made from upcycled holiday cards, please visit my Etsy store.

ChristmasNotebook.etsy.com

Thanks for stopping by! ~~Rhonda

daylily season

We have been blessed with several days of beautiful weather, enjoying highs of 80 or less. Saturday was perfection with blue skies, a breeze and low temps. I actually got chilly sitting on the front porch at 11:00 a.m. Unheard of for this time of year. Today is the last of that, though. An expected high of 78 and a low of 57 tonight. Tomorrow the temps start to rise and the windows will be closed and the air conditioner will be turned back on. Our kitties will not be happy. They’ve really enjoyed their view of the great outdoors and all the fun an open window brings. Kind of like television to them…or smellavision…Clark loves an open window.

Clark enjoys the spring breeze

Last Wednesday and on Saturday, we had plant sales to raise money for the scholarship fund for our presbytery’s summer camp. Looks like it’s time to update that sign…we painted it with chalkboard paint so it’s easy to change. Seeing it in a picture makes me aware how it has aged over time!

plant sale

Wednesday was hot, but Saturday was so pretty! I was on the front porch, ready to take care of customers. DH was in the garden digging orders. You can’t tell it from this picture, but there is a street between us and the neighboring house in the background.

plant sale

Snow White was ready for customers, too! She was selling lemonade and chocolate chip cookies to make money to donate to a homeless shelter. Special thanks to our friends who bought a dozen cookies from her! That was so sweet! It really made her day.

plant sale

I love daylily season. The garden is washed with color. DH and I go out every evening to look for FFOs (first flowers out).

plant sale

This daylily is one of my top favorites. Don’t ask me to rank my faves in order! It’s too hard!
‘Wayne Johnson’

'Wayne Johnson'

So many orange daylilies, but this is one of the best.
‘Refiner’s Fire’

'Refiner's Fire'

More subtle, but no less beautiful.
‘Egyptian Ibis’

'Egyptian Ibis'

Another gorgeous daylily. This picture does not do it justice!
‘Spider Man’ (Yes, two words in the name.)

Spider Man

daylilies in the front yard

daylilies in the front yard

Even the common “ditch lily” daylilies are beautiful. Around here, some people know ditch lilies as “Tiger lilies.” This is a picture of the big oak in our backyard that I took one evening while the girls were toasting marshmallows for S’Mores.

the big oak in the back yard

The hostas are blooming, too. So pretty! This is ‘Blue Cadet’ which sits by the birdbath at the kitchen door. The daylily that’s ready to bloom is ‘Little Grapette.’

birdbath at the kitchen door

I have some letter writing to do and some Putz houses to paint, so I’ll quit here. Be back soon!

~~Rhonda