Monday, November 30, 2009

The Adventures of Grandpa Guy

Our dear friend Guy Meehling, has come and stayed with us for the month of November. He left early this morning (He left our house at 4AM) to return to Seattle Washington. Grandpa Guy has been a family friend since before I was born and our neighbor for the last 14 years. He moved away about a year and a half ago after his wife passed away.
Grandpa Guy is 91 years old and in excellent physical and mental shape. He is legally blind due to macular degeneration, but he doesn't let that slow him down. He gets up early and does his calisthenics, and walks 3-5 miles/day and tries to get in a bike ride also. In his quiet time he listens to MP3 of scripture and goes through the entire New Testament about once a week.

He arrived on November 2nd at 11:15 PM. By the time DH brought him back to our house it was 12:15 and DH quickly fell into bed. At 12:30 there is a steady knocking at our bedroom door as Mr. Meehling announced that he had made a terrible mistake. There was a 'corset in his suitcase'. My honey investigated and sure enough he had picked up the wrong bag. Poor Helga Martin hopefully had another corset nearby. We called the airport and in the morning, DH went and picked up the correct bag and brought back Helga's. (Isn't Helga just the perfect name for a woman who still wears a corset?) We learned a life lesson here and for your benefit: When picking up a blind person from the airport always double check that they have the right bags.

The next day when Grandpa Guy was heading out for his walk, we asked him if he would like to take Dallas along for exercise. He was more than happy to do so. Mr. Boots walked with them a little ways and they did fine. What we DIDN'T know was that he was planning to go shopping, not just a walk around the neighborhood. He took Dallas to Giant Eagle, but Dallas was afraid of the automatic doors and so wouldn't go in. Same thing at Marc's. He was fine with the sliding doors at Sears and the normal ones at Bob Evans, so he was able to take him in those places. No one said anything. He does carry a white cane when he is out walking. Maybe people thought Dallas was a service animal. No one bothered the old blind man who brought his dog into the store. The waitress even held the leash while he went into the bathroom. I am glad Dallas behaved himself. He has never been officially housebroken.

Today we are a little sad as Grandpa Guy left. He was to leave our Airport at 6 AM and fly to Chicago and then on to Seattle. He was supposed to arrive in Seattle at 11:15 AM their time. At 3 PM this afternoon Mr. M called and told me he was in Minneapolis and about to leave to go to Las Vegas. Needless to say I was a little shocked. Apparently the plane coming in to our airport hit a bird and so they had to cancel his flight. This is still Thanksgiving weekend as far as travel goes. The airline (American) worked hard to cobble him an itinerary back to Seattle. Their first idea was to send him to NY and then on to Chicago and so forth. They finally came up with the following plan. Our airport to Chicago to Minneapolis to Las Vegas to some airport in California (he wasn't sure which one) and then by Alaskan Airline to Seattle Washington. Nothing like a direct route. It will have taken him 24 hours to get from our door to his door. Poor man. He was having quite the adventure. He also informed me that he was eating his first hoagie he had ever eaten in his life there at the airport. The man lives life to the fullest. I hope I am like that when I am 91.

Elizabeth's Fifth Birthday

Time speeds by so quickly. In this picture Elizabeth is about 18 months old. Today she is five. She is growing so well, inside and out. She is a delight to our family.

Saturday we had Elizabeth's birthday dinner. We chose Saturday as Mr. Boots left to go hunting yesterday and VERY early this morning Mr. Meehling left to fly back to Seattle. We wanted everybody to be here to celebrate. Elizabeth had the special birthday plate and her own goblet.

We enjoyed baked potatoes, steak from our steer, hot homemade applesauce, and scallops in a garlic, spinach cream sauce. A twist on surf and turf. This meal was Elizabeth's choice. I have got to stop raising such 'foodies'.

Everybody really enjoyed the meal.

Michelle made Elizabeth a doll cake. Grandma R. told her how to do it and gave her the doll topper. She did a great job. Elizabeth helped.

Elizabeth was very pleased with how it all turned out.

We are taking the day off school in honor of dear Elizabeth.


Mango's Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving day at the Mango's started with dinner being planned for 2:30 PM. Of course, all participants KNEW that meant that we would sit down and eat at 3 at the earliest. As long as everyone understands. Now, when people start stretching that to 3:10 or later..... that's another story.

Mom and Dad worked hard at carving the turkey. It was a moist delicious bird - free range and all that. Mom baked the turkey and the stuffing and made the gravy.

The turkey was flying!

The Morris men enjoyed reading some funny stories as they awaited dinner. Have you ever read the book 'I Fail to Miss your Point'? It is really hilarious. A lot of classic stories and facts.

I forgot to take pictures before we started eating. This is what it looked like when we are done. Yes, we had more than enough food. Very traditional meal.

Kathy enjoyed the conversation.

Todd always tells good stories.

The Sorta Teens (12-34) had their own table in the living room.

After dinner we enjoyed a hymn sing. Don and Nathan played their guitars.

The people on the couch sang.

JoAn got her violin out.

So did Mr. Boots. He has a wonderful ability to play by ear.

After singing, the games came out. Settlers of Catan is a favorite. After this we had a giant game of Taboo. I think there were 18 people playing.

With the arrival of dessert, the newspaper ads came out so the Black Friday shoppers could plan their route.

I am not sure if Anita was a shopper or merely an ad peruser.

My Mom's ribbon cookies are the best! I restrained myself and only ate about 7 halves. Michelle kept giving me a half of hers. I skipped the rest of the dessert. They looked yummy, but I didn't need them.

The children had a wonderful time playing. Katrina and Michelle found my camera and took a bunch of goofie pictures. Katrina is not shy. She likes a camera.

The day gradually wound down and people started to leave as their children got tired and it was bedtime. Danny gave Mr. Boots some hints on the guitar. It was a wonderful day.

Thank-you Lord!


Thanksgiving Brunch

Thanksgiving in Ohio. The leaves are off the trees and the bare look of winter has set in. We have not had any snow that sticks on the ground yet.
Our tradition on Thanksgiving is to go to church for a Thanksgiving brunch. On of the families organizes it and does much of the food prep. The rest of us pitch in with the side dishes. It is always a special time. Most of the college students are home and people are in visiting. One gets to see friends that we haven't seen in awhile.

Plus, the food is yummy!! This year they served breakfast burritos, sausage and gravy as well as fresh fruit and lots of muffins and breads and other good things. This year the local on duty firemen showed up and joined us. They came in the ambulance and firetruck. They had to be ready to go out if they were called.

Baby Sadie just keeps growing and doing more things. She is doing a lot of chewing. She is a contented baby although she rarely smiles.

After eating we all go in the big room and sit in a circle and share what we are thankful for this year. The circle sure has grown a lot over the last 42 years. Mr. Meehling and his wife Betty started this tradition back in 1967. The Markoviches took over once the Meehlings were unable to do it. It was special to have Mr. Meehling able to attend again this year. It is a real labor of love. The meeting ended as promised by 11 AM. That is also traditional.
Nathan and Anita, and Mom and Dad, it is really nice to have almost all our family come. It is so important to stop and thank God for His blessings to us. I get really aggravated when people call it 'Turkey Day'. Turkey is not what the day is about. Especially, in these somewhat challenging times, we have much to learn and much to rejoice in and even more to thank God for.

Mystery Dinner 2009

This is a great way to get to know people.

What is a 'Mystery Dinner' ? This is an idea we read in a magazine several years ago, and have had a lot of fun using. We do not do it real often as it is a fair amount of work for the servers. Michelle and Brooke had a lot of fun planning and preparing this meal. JoAn helped them serve it. The first thing to do is to plan your guest list carefully. Do not invite party-poopers who do not know how to relax and not be in charge. Next, plan your menu. We start by making the menu for a several course dinner. We try and use as many leftovers as possible and also incorporate foods that tend to be liked with a couple of weird ones thrown in. Then the creativity comes in. You need to relabel your menu and add in the eating utensils. For example, instead of corn being on the menu it is called 'gold', the spoon might be called a 'trencher', apple sauce became 'baby food', a 'spear' might be a toothpick or a fork, and water may be a 'Lake Erie cocktail'. It is important to serve at least some sloppy foods like soup and mashed potatoes. Things that are hard to eat without silverware. That is part of the entertainment value. The next step is to print off the menu and organize the kitchen/food.

When the guests arrived, we invited the family that schools with us, you give each person their own menu and ask them to select 5 things for each of the four courses. They will have no idea what they are ordering if you have done a good job renaming the menu. Then the kitchen crew, it helps to have 2-3 servers for a gathering of 10-15, put together the plates as ordered for the first course. The rule at our house is that once you get a piece of silverware off the menu, you may keep it, as long as you don't leave it on your plate when it is cleared. The kitchen crew serves each course one at a time and clears them in between. Each person receives exactly what they ordered. Dessert may show up first with the meat. You may have several beverages and not much to eat. It all depends on what you order.

I am afraid that this first course had a little one in tears. Water, apple cider, brussel sprouts and a knife and fork. A tender hearted daddy traded for the brussel sprouts for some pot stickers on the condition that the trade be reciprocated back at a better course.

Ulysses was real happy when dessert showed up before the veggies.

Some of the middle boys were more than happy to be silverwareless. They even intentionally sent it back after the course it came with. What is with boys?!!! We all had a good time.
One word of warning based on experience. Don't serve too much food in the early courses or people won't have room later on to eat what is served.
Have you ever tried something like this before? How did it work out for you?

Monday, November 23, 2009

One Piece of Leftover French Toast, 6 kids?

Sunday evening meals are almost always fend for yourself in the leftovers or make a bowl of popcorn. Last night Michelle,Thomas, T-Bob, and I didn't want the single piece of French toast left from Saturday breakfast. Especially since Mr.Boots said that the contending party would have to arm wrestle him for it. Elizabeth, however, was up to the challenge. (I don't think she knew what arm wrestling was :).

They began. Strong Mr.Boots let her struggle against his seeming indifferent arm for a while, before closing the match. He was kind enough to share it with her though. So they fixed it up and ate it. One plate, two forks. It was funny. Whoever could cut quicker,eat faster and take bigger bites got more. (Can you guess who that was?) Elizabeth just enjoyed her bites.

Mr.Boots & Elizabeth have a great relationship, but sometimes they tease each other for the fun of it. But we are saving those stories for other posts.......
P.S. My most recent project? De-cluttering. I haven't gotten to the family room yet though. How can you tell?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Autumn Gardening

This post is to show you what is still growing in our garden in the middle of November after several hard frosts. The brussel sprouts are doing dandy. We leave them in the garden until we are ready to eat them or until freezing weather comes.

Some late broccoli will continue to grow until it matures or until the deep snow comes. Whichever happens first

The red cabbage is ready, but this is another one we leave out in the garden until we need it. Today we made a very yummy sweet and sour red cabbage dish to go with our roast beef. I shredded the cabbage and added chopped apple, chopped onion and cooked it in apple cider. I then added some clove and apple cider vinegar and maple syrup and let it simmer. Delicious!

The turnips are still forming up, but we can always just use the greens if we want to. They like cool weather.

Parsley will keep growing and you can pick it right through the snow. Some of the other herbs are still producing (thyme and sage). Like to have those fresh herbs to use in the kitchen.

Now these peas were planted too late and won't produce anything. I left them there because I like the spring green of peas against the autumn brown. Plus, I want to see how far they will grow. More simple things that please me.


Brussel Sprouts

This our first year growing brussel sprouts and they did really well. You are not supposed to pick them until after the first frost. They grew about 3 and a half feet tall. A lot bigger than I expected.

The sprouts form on the inside of each big leaf that grows off the stem.

The stem is so hard that I could not cut it with a big knife. You almost need a saw. The leaves fall off easily. The sprouts spiral around the stalk. They break off easily. They were DELICIOUS! We all really enjoyed them. Our children really like them. 'Baby cabbages' are so good.

I forgot to take a picture of the big bowl of brussel sprouts we had for lunch.

November Saturday

Mr. Meehling is staying with us for the month of November. We are so happy to have him here with us. He is a great example of godly living and staying the course. He is 91 now and lives in Seattle, but he likes to come visit. He was our neighbor until 18 months ago, but he has known our family for years and years. I think he even attended my parents wedding. He does calisthenics and takes long walks (3-5 miles) every day. His mind is real sharp too.

Saturday was really nice and warm. The high was about 70 degrees. We used the beautiful weather to clean out the garden. We pulled all the beans, tomato, and dead basil plants. I will do a garden Post soon and show you what we still have growing.

Mr. Boots did bicycle maintenance. We need to have a few more bikes going.

Thomas was giving Dallas some attention.

Elizabeth was enjoying wearing just a short sleeve shirt without a sweater being needed.

We had a late fall picnic. It was great! No bugs. They have all been frosted. What a great day.

Our woodpile hasn't started shrinking yet. We are enjoying hearing Mr. M's stories. He can tell stories about his dad and the civil war. He remembers, and not with fondness, all the antics of FDR. His attempts to federalize all the utilities ( Starting with the Tennessee Valley Authority), His increase of the Supreme Court to get his own way, and the large amount of socialists/communists he included in his administration. Sound familiar?

Here's a picture of Mr. Boots, not wearing boots. It does happen on occasion. We are enjoying our Indian Summer. Do you know why they call it that?