Tag Archives: Family

Summer Cake

I’m not ready to be done with summer.

In the days before air conditioning in every home and car – if anyone remembers that era – there was “summer cake”. Layers of Hot Milk Sponge Cake filled with jam and topped with powdered sugar. A few years ago, I learned that this old recipe was called Washington Pie. Rather like Boston Cream Pie – they are cake and not pie.

cake

While the jam and powdered sugar are traditional, a simple chocolate ganache was better suited for an August birthday. My hubby was glad for that change!

The recipe apparently dates from the mid to late 1800’s. Mom’s note at the top attributes it to her mom and grandmother. Her grandmother lived from 1850 – 1929, a time when many letters were written and recipes shared among friends and family.

recipe

I use vanilla in mine, but do choose whatever flavor will compliment your topping and filling.

And, as an old letter with a recipe enclosed ended, “I hope you have good luck with this!”

What do you see?

20170602_164643-001

a. weeds overtaking grass

b. a delightful opportunity to hunt for 4 leaf clover

My Dad would always choose b. … and, he would always find one! Just like he always saw the jig saw piece that I had been searching for.  He never gloated over a finding, but if you looked quickly, you would see the delight light up his eyes.

Photo_2003_11_21_2_47_33_edited-001   Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Remembering you with love.

Days of watchings

My brother has been in town. He came for an event but the plans for the week exploded wonderfully into visits with his children and grandchildren, sisters and niece.  It was fun to see everyone. His grands are growing into lovely people. So much growth in the few months since we last saw them. And like a whirlwind, he is gone again.

In the midst of all the chatting and coming and going, I always do best to quiet myself although that can be very hard to accomplish – or even remember! But this week, I did. I got outside a bit to check on what the earth is giving. Of course, I have to show you. It’s best to crouch down and have a close look, sniff, or listen.  hellebore    Hyacinth  new growth I’m rather excited about the new growth near the rock. I planted packets of bulbs last fall and I’m anxious to see what they will produce. Hyacinth blooms multiplied and the Hellebores are always charming as the first harbingers of spring here. There are ponds on nearby properties and the other night, when it was warm, I heard the sweet spring peeper chorus.

It has been so very dry this winter, hardly any snow or rain, but last night, the storms came and the rain fell through the day. I had an appointment in town and drove my favorite long way home through the reservoir. There were very few cars while I was there so it was a bit like my private park. A few geese searched the ground for nibbles while I sat and enjoyed the trees.

And on a canvas of glass, I watched the rain make art.

                             evergreen     evergreen2

                             trees 2     trees4

Do click on the photos to see the “modern art”.

For a fun video of the rain, visit my Instagram page: elaineweger.

 

Tidings of comfort and joy

Christmas tree

If someone had peeked in a window here today, they might have thought I had worked so very hard on Christmas day, as I slept away the afternoon on the couch while carols played, tree lights twinkled, the tea grew cold, my book slipped from my hands and all was dreamy…

dreamy

But I didn’t work hard at all. I’m so very grateful for my beautiful, thoughtful, and efficient niece who prepared and served our Christmas dinner. And for my wonderful hubby who made sure the kitchen and dining room were cleared and cleaned.

 snowmen chocolate

There were wonderful conversations with loved ones far away and precious gifts beside. So blessed to enjoy this peaceful Christmastide.

30 days hath November

porch There were glorious days, warm ones and cold ones that had me scurrying about freshening bed linens and garden beds, planting bulbs and dealing with leaves and leaves and still more leaves! Oak leaves 12 inches long!

collages2

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore was only available as an audio book from my library. I debated and then reserved my space. When I saw it was 10 CDs, I wasn’t sure I would persist. But I did. her masterful storytelling kept me company as I dug and pulled and trimmed and planted a garden bed and then kept me company as I restored the edging of our old quilt with fresh binding. Then I listened to it all over again!

I began the quilt long years ago. When I started the class with Lois Smith, I was excited by the possibility of making – start to finish  a quilt for our bed. Under her kind, clear, tutelage, I learned so much about color, pattern drafting and machine quilting. But life, or a kind of death in the specter of fire, happened and rearranged our lives for a season. When it was over, nothing was quite the same and I chose not to work on this autumn themed quilt. I moved on and took several more classes with Lois and finished two more quilts. Sometime, I finished it off and hung it  in our family room in winter. Then I started using it, the weight and comfort just right. It was a shock to realize it is now a shabby beauty, warm and cozy.

quilt

Autumn color can be a long, slow, unfolding here. Tender plants first, some trees seeming to forget to change, high winds swirling leaves around steps and doors. Holly berries ripped from their stems. One has to look for the beauty in all the pain and dying of this month.

golden tree   ruby trees   trees   oak   yellow   lighting

And, of course, we went chasing the super moon. It doesn’t look all that exciting, but the chase was fun. One more to come on December 14.  November moon

squirrel Of course there are always squirrels running to and fro and sometimes hanging from their toes to eat the suet cakes.  Woodpeckers, Flickers, Titmice and Nuthatches are the usual diners. But one day, I happened to catch this Bluebird too!bluebird   Things are always a bit fuzzy through the screen and glass, but there is no mistaking the color of these beautiful birds.

One of the surprises of the garden cleanup were stalks of Hosta seeds hiding deep within a large plant. Hosta seed pods  I’ve done a little reading and I’m not sure I will try to grow plants from the seed, but the pods are quite interesting. Hosta seed pods

This season of apparent dying and seed planting has been brought home to me these past days in the sudden and untimely death of my niece-in-love. At the several services we attended, even her pastor, who knew her well, marveled at the packed church as people came to show their love and respect for this lovely, quiet woman. She sowed seeds of love and acceptance in everyone she met. I pray that those seeds will bear much fruit in the coming days and years as her family struggles with her death and the changes in the home and for her children who were being home schooled.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.

tree

August – delightfully interrupted

Hot. Humid. August. Definitely in need of a lovely interruption.

Our daughter came bringing the Grandpup, Marigold,IMG_8273

and Grandkittie, Sadie 20160814_103830

Both are rescued and well loved. It was first visit for Sadie who made herself at home at my writing table right away. IMG_8275 Although she also kept me company as I did some hand stitching. 20160817_102627

Marigold was harder to capture but was so much more at home on this second visit — until the thunder storms. Then, although she has a crate, she tried hiding in all kinds of places she did not fit. Including beside the dryer. That turned out to be a bonus gift for us as we became aware of a hole hidden in the folds of the venting material. A hole unseen, but big enough to interfere with the function of the machine.

The days went so quickly and then, it was time to say our goodbyes.

20160817_110315 Marigold was ready to go with her mama wherever she was going!

We hugged and waved and there may have been a tear as we held each other and watched the car disappear from view. Come again, sweet girl!

 

The April Buzz

Like a bee let loose from hibernation — zigzagging from bloom to bloom — me.

And April seemed to go by in a blink!

We began the month in North Texas although we spent some of our hours deep in the German countryside — my brother is the engineer behind the multiple trains and detailed scenery.

trains

We enjoyed the warm days and our all-too-short visit.  These blooms are in his yard. I had never seen Passion Flowers before. They are amazing!  Tx garden flowers

On our way to the airport and home, we spent some lovely, quiet hours in the Israel Prayer Garden in Corinth, TX. I hope to post more about that stop.

Iris

Spring is a time to keep an eye on the weather. Frost. Storms. We knew that had been some storm violence but we didn’t see much evidence on the drive from the airport. It was a shock to round the bend on the driveway and come to a stop. A tree had fallen and the crown covered the driveway.

fallen treeThe next day, I realized that much of my outdoor spring cleaning would have to be done, again.  Our county has a brush recycling contractor — a blessing at the end of each truck load of pick-up and pruning. We were also blessed that your new lawn keeper came with a chain saw, took away firewood and left the driveway clean. I’m grateful for the stamina to do the work, however,  it has has been tiring leaving no energy for digging and refreshing the garden beds – my winter dreaming. And, if only I could record or keep my thoughts together, there would have been blog posts along the way, not just wishful thinking and coffee drinking!

writing

Late frost again nipped the new leaves on the hydrangeas and the bloom stalks of the Bleeding Heart. Time will tell if there will be bloom this year.

Indoors, the last stalk of Amaryllis bloom awaited our return from Texas. I had found an interesting article on caring for these amazing plants so I added to my normal regimen the advice to leave the spent stalk till it withered and faded. Another week or two and the plants can go outside for the summer.

Amaryllis collage

I had reserved Annie F. Downs’ new book, Looking for Lovely, at our library. She writes, ” I want us to learn to look for the lovely all around us and collect it, hold it close, and see how God drops beautiful things into our lives at just the right time to help us step forward on our own paths.”

Looking for Lovely This is such a timely read for me, I bought my own copy.  I had more experiences of loveliness in April, so – To be continued!

International Tatting Day (updated)

Tatting: Lace made by hand with fine thread and a small shuttle. I believe this piece came from the hands of my Grandmother Anna. I remember as a very small child standing by the side of her rocking chair as thread became beauty. It was a magical thing and I have never forgotten her beautiful hands with their long slender fingers, her wide gold wedding band and the tatted lace.  I think this might be where my love of thread began.

Anna's things The earrings were hers, always worn. The silver, a piece of hers as well. Small tokens can bring memories to life.

Update:  link to a past post with a photo of Anna and beloved August

I found a tatting shuttle in an antique store. It has a bit of thread attached.tatting

Easter Reflection

Easter blooom

Easter came and a few members of the family were able to gather with us for dinner. We ate well and talked long. Stories were told, travel adventure photos shown and messages shared from a distance. One from a long distance in time.

Since my Mom moved house in 1998, I have housed an old comforter made by her mother, Amelia.  I really can’t say why I’ve kept the old thing; it served no purpose. I decided to salvage the cover fabric. After dinner, I shared how I started to de-construct the blanket and saw the fine stitching and workmanship that set this utilitarian bed cover apart. This was the careful work of a skilled needlewoman, truly showing the Art of Work that she employed. I needed to share this glimpse of our Grandmother.

de-construction

My sister rose from the table and returned with a tote bag. She carefully unfolded a packet of tissue paper and unrolled history. Amelia came to the table then —  young, the Amelia we could never know.

 Amelia   My sister and I talked of trousseau and my niece asked – what is that? A truly foreign word to this modern career woman. We examined the fine fabric, the tatted lace, the exquisitely hand stitched French seams and fine hem, the embroidery of this camisole… like a fragile page from a young woman’s diary… hours spent stitching in her hopes and dreams for the future. camisole

And again I felt the ache rising, the missed opportunities , the un-offered opportunities to sit, to learn from this master needlewoman,

                              hidden in plain sight,

                                                     disguised as my grumpy grandmother.

 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

These words from 1 Corinthians 13:12 do not mean window glass, but today, they seem to reflect how we move through this earth, seeing, but not knowing what we see, how none of us is really known by another. I’m changing the stories I make up about Amelia and pray that someday, I will see her face to face and know her as I never did. I’ll know what made her laugh, what touched her heart with delight, which dreams came true, her favorite music…

I know I will like her.

Memories of molasses and ginger

I come from a Christmas Cookie baking family – on my mother’s side.

I can never remember a year of Mom’s life when there were not crisp, thin, cut out sugar cookies – “plain” and with variations of flavor: coconut, black walnut or anise. It was her mother’s recipe, passed around that large family.

I do remember my Grandmother Amelia with plates of cookies. Hers were thicker and cut with very old fashioned cutters but the lovely taste was the same. One Christmas, her platter included brown cut out cookies. I expected a treat – perhaps chocolate… Oh my. So bitter. So very nasty.

oak leaves

Whenever I find the leaves of the Chestnut oak with their rounded lobes, so like that cookie cutter, I remember those brown leaf-shaped Ginger cookies! A survey of my siblings revealed we all remember them, and we all thought they were terrible!

My husband’s Aunt Dolly once returned from a visit to a cousin’s and brought this ginger cookie recipe to our home for a baking session. I’ve made this recipe for many years now; these cookies are delicious with fruit and I make them year round.

ginger cookie recipe

When I make them, I use Grandma’s® Original Molasses. Their Gingerbread is another favorite with family and guests. One Christmas, my niece made these cute little houses for dessert. Gingerbread houseWe were inspired by some at  King Arthur Flour, another pantry staple for me.

It is fun to have memories of a distant time and place triggered by something as simple as a pile of leaves from the park! I’m sure you have some small memory triggers too.IMG_7048