Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Eat and Run!

This weekend was the one time a year we do our best to gather up my Dad's side of the family and celebrate Greek Easter. 

With so much food to prepare, I was thrilled to have my two cousins opt for a little "HandMeDown" session.  They came out on Saturday to learn the finer art of Greek food.  I think they did a phenomenal job!!

The "To Do" menu consisted of Pasticio, Dolmathes, Spanikopita, Baklava, Galektaboureko, Greek Chicken, Avagolemona, Capama and Tiropita.  Got all that?
Because I felt it was important for them to learn how to work with Phyllo, I made them learn to wrap "the hard way".  As opposed to baking in a pan like I did with the Spanikopita.  :o)
I'd say they did pretty well for beginners!
My Dad made this one to make them feel better too!  :o}
He called it a Greek Burrito
The girls even came early on Sunday to help set up and learn how to make egg-lemon sauce. 
A very important component of many Greek foods!  It's an art they mastered as well!

Now about Sunday...to say the weather wasn't cooperating is an extreme understatement.  Right after the girls showed up, the sky dropped and literally sat on the farm field all black and ominous.  Then it turned pea-green.  And then it poured buckets...again...for the third day in a row!  We have received inches of rain each-and-every-day -for three days in a row!  More on what that has done to my gardening woes later.

But that's OK.  Rain never stops food from getting into our bellies.  It did stop nearly in time for all our family to arrive.  All was right with the world!
Aunt Kathy, Uncle Bill and Ellie
Or as I like to say, Aunt Bill and Uncle Kathy
Makers of the most divine Strawberry Pretzel dessert!
We enjoyed lots and lots of food! 
Chelsea and Tim
Baby on Board!
Probably way more than was needed.
Roger and Uncle Ted
Would I make that much again next year?
Uncle Bobby and Aunt Sandy
Hell yeah.
Ashley and our newest member, Branson.
For some of us, it's the only Greek treat we get all year!  Which is why I was so excited to have so much help from these folks:
Thanks Dad and Connie!  I'd be cooked without you!
And these two, of course!!
Thanks again T and Mar!  I really loved spending time with you's!
 Now, I did say something about "Eat and Run", didn't I? 

Well, the gathering started around 1pm.  At about 3:30 pm, a friend down the road showed up.  I didn't hear the particulars when she got out of the car, but the frantic conversation when she got to me went something like this:

S:  "The police are going around our neighborhood first and headed this way.  You all have to leave!"

APG:  "Why?"  (I mean, I know we can be a surly bunch, but really????)

S:  "The chemical plant is on fire and they are evacuating a 1.8 mile radius!  They said we all have to leave!"

Umm, yes.  We live 1.1 miles from the plant.  Imagine that.  And she has her dog in the car.

Sooooo...we packed up the food and away everyone went!  Just like that!  By 4pm everything was cleared up, shut down and family -gone. 

With the exception of us of course.  We stood our ground.  For hours.  No one showed up.  They closed the highway, our street, sirens blared.  But no one came.  People further away were evacuated.  Not us.  Police cars sped by many times.  Was it a sick joke maybe?  Nope, it was real.
Gases being burned off to avoid melt down of the unit.  It burned for hours!  They kept people out of their homes for hours too.  The plant hasn't had a severe explosion in over 25 years.  That was when they sat on the roof of our house and watched.  Debris did come into the yard I am told, but no evacuation then either.  Odd.  Our house is the closest on this street to it. 

Maybe they knew we would never abandon our chickens?

So yes, everyone did indeed Eat and "RUN!!!!"

Aunt Mar, being the sly doggie she is asked,

"Hey, who was that lady that told us we all had to leave and can I hire her to come to my next party?"

Yes, It runs in the family...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bee Very Careful!

Last year, I believe Pig Pen rounded out the year with roughly 7 bee stings.  Not too bad!  (Says she who doesn't get close!)

Animals might be another story...

Not sure if this member of the family thinks she's Winnie the Pooh or what!?
This is the second time this has happened to Missy -this year!  You'd think she'd have learned after the first time.  I guess the temptation is just too great.

The other night, Pig Pen was on the tractor and I was up by the house.  Somewhere waaaay out in the back, I heard her cry out.  Now this dog is a lug.  An oaf.  An ox!  She never cries.  She cried -twice.  It was a mix of her bark and a coon dog cry.  Mom's just know. 

I started hollering at Pig Pen.  Mind you he was probably about 15 yards closer to her than I was, but he didn't hear her.  Maybe it's the same as a baby cry in the middle of the night and Dad's just sleep thru it (w)?  Dunno.  But sure enough, she was in the woods.  He thinks she stumbled onto ground bees this time.
Poor Missy :o(

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Arrival or Departure?

It's a wonderful thing we didn't depart this world over the weekend because we had alot to celebrate and no time for funny business like that! 

With just a few weeks to go, our family will welcome it's newest arrival!  So we showered the Mom and Dad to be -twofold!  Saturday her side, Sunday our side.  Pretty sure Mom is zonked out!  And she should be!!!

Have you ever seen a pregnant Momma and your lip betrays you and pops out in a quiver?  That's poor Meagan right now...
Yes, I asked permission to take that picture!  Poor feetsies are so swollen!  But she soldiered on!  If you ask me, exploding watermelons in China got nothin' on Mom!  Here she is for real... 
So if you would, keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  That can't be comfortable!

My other SIL posted more photos from the weekend, so I went for comic relief.  I know...shocking!  You can see the baby's room and shower photo's at Jen's Blog!  If you need cute ideas for a nursery, you should check it out!

Congratulations Meg and Ry! 
That little train will be arriving at the station soon! 

Or would that be considered a departure?  ;-)

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is it the End?

Every once in a while, I am faced with a question.  Some people approach me lightly because it can be a sensitive subject, others just come right out with it.  In the past few days, two folks have come right out with it.  So I thought I would would go out on that limb.

Have any of you heard that the world is supposed to end on Saturday, May 21st at 6:00 PM?
I hadn't.  But apparently many people have.  The rock I have been under and all!  I don't know the exact details of the prophecy nor do I feel I need to -personally.  However; because there are so many folks out there whom I love dearly and am praying for faithfully, I wanted to share my understanding of the matter.

So follow along if you will.  If not, that is OK too.  I won't be offended nor will I be ashamed.  If I didn't love, I wouldn't bother.

When will the world end?

Matthew 24:36-44 (NIV)
36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 (NIV)
1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

Do not be deceived.

Matthew 24:1-8 (NIV)
1 Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2 “Do you see all these things?” he asked. “Truly I tell you, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

What should we do?

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.
God's Promises.

Hebrews 6:13-20 (NIV)
13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18 God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. 19 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
2 Peter 3:9 (NIV)
9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)
5 Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”


John 14:1-7 (NIV)
1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”

5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”

Romans 10:8-13 (NIV)
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

If you've made it thru to the end of this post, then I want to thank you for going out on a limb with me on the proverbial Tree of Life. 
It is not often that I refrain from fun and mischief, however there is no greater exception to be made. 
I fully realize this post may be difficult, thought provoking 
or encouraging. 

Above all things, I hope it relieves you of any fear or doubt.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

That said...I will close by saying...
"See y'all after 6pm on Saturday!"

Catching Up

Lot's went down in the three months I was gone.  And as usual, the boys are complaining that I did not give them sufficient credit for all the hard work they did around here.  So this post is some catching up on random projects and "stuff"  (picture heavy).
Barn Roof Work Begins

Keith, LLL and Pig Pen aka Monkeys
Not long after this was complete we had a major hail storm by the way.  This roof survived but the house did not.  So that will come along around Fall time.
Finishing the Fence
 Introducing doggies to birdies...
She just sits, never barks!  Stealthy bird dog!
This one barks!
This one has zero interest in anything bigger than her.

A Pig Pen project goes from this...
To this...
And of course THIS!
For jobs like that!
And for random cuteness, we have things like this:

My brothers idea of a joke for Mom on Mothers Day

My niece's new John Deere T-shirt saying
"Dirt makes me cuter!"

As does ice cream

As do tractors just like Uncle Pig Pen!

As well as tractors that find good homes due to upgrades!
Thanks guys...for holding down the fort while I was away!
Ya done good!

(now get your own blog)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

If the Ground Could Talk

Our house is old.  There have been 150+ years of transformations.  Unearthing old things can be pretty cool if you are into that sort of thing.  What I wouldn't give to have seen this place when it was truly a farm!  We have been told many stories about it; placement of the barns, animals that were kept, additions that were made and those torn down as well.

We have known these things; yet little of that history exists today other than the main house (excluding the additions).  There are a few hints scattered about the back in the old pasture area:
I mow over several of these with fingers crossed that they never heave up and slaughter someone or something.  :o)  I've been know to have 'issues' with mowing.  Hey, it's my zone time!

Since we have the new tractor, I've been (a-hem!) delicately suggesting to have my other garden area tilled up for corn and squash.  We (as in) -he- got started scrapping and digging.  At first it looked promising.  Nice sod and black dirt that we could relocate to other areas for fill purposes.

Then the ground spoke and said otherwise...
The ole barn!  Pig Pen ended up digging mass amounts of limestone, old concrete footings and post holes.  Ya know, old stuff!

Here is LLL showing off an old saw blade and um...dunno.
They got alot of it dug out.  Now we are down to clay and a big pile of crud that will go out back for other times.  Pig Pen decided we will get a load of pulverized dirt instead of messing with cleaning it out right now. 
Works for me cuz it means my corn will go in soon! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Seed Sorrow

Back on March 29th, I got my seeds started.  Roughly 140ish actually.  At the time, I was traveling with work and couldn't watch the pot boil.  However, they did sprout.

Two weeks after that, here's what they looked like:
Do you see how many made it???  Junked'em

So I started over hoping and praying that I would have time to recover.  It was mid-April at that point.  Here we are at mid-May and this is what I have:
Many of these also either never sprouted or sprouted and then kicked it.  I even switched the mix.  This is only the second time I have tried seeds.  Now I remember why.  It's doubtful I will have much to salvage at this point and for those of them that are 'up', they are rather puny.

Looks like I will be hitting a greenhouse yet another year.  My visions of seed saving and an entirely heirloom garden just flitted right out the window...along with my $$$.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Holes in My Head

I attribute 90% of the holes in my head to ONE indulgence. 

No really, I am guessing most of you are familiar with this treat.  It is a Greek pastry and it is wonderful!

Our very belated Greek Easter gathering is just around the corner and I am probably not going to be ready.  But reinforcements are coming in the form of younger and more able bodied cousins!  WooHoo!  Not only do we have lots of food to prepare and freeze ahead of time (thankfully most does!), it has been so icky outside that my garden is a puddle.  So no planting, just cooking for me!  (sewing machine, what sewing machine?)

How to Make Baklava
Pronounced Bock-la-va


2# Walnuts
1 # Fillo / Phyllo Sheets (fee-low)
1 1/2 # Butter (salted)
1/2 C. Brown Sugar
1 t. Cinnamon

For the Sauce:

1 C. Honey
1 T. Lemon Juice +\-, to taste
1 T. Water +\-, for consistency

For tips on handling Phyllo, you can visit This Post. 
Slowly melt butter in a medium sauce pan.
With a food processor or other chopper of choice, chop nuts to a fine texture.
Add the Brown Sugar and Cinnamon to the nuts and blend very well.  Work out all lumps with a fork if necessary.
Set Aside.

Butter the bottom of a 9*13 pan.
(Note:  you may need to trim Phyllo to fit pan.)
Begin layering the Phyllo one at a time and buttering each layer.  Four to Six layers is sufficient for your base.
Lightly layer 1 1/2 C. of the nut mixture and smooth to edges.
Add Two layers of Phyllo -one at a time and buttering each layer.
Because the pan most likely has rounded corners, don't be afraid to occassionaly lift the squared corners of the phyllo and lightly fold them over.  Give them a shot of butter when you do.
Repeat steps until nut mixture is gone.
Top with additional Three to Four layers of Phyllo one at a time and buttering each layer.

That was actually the easy part, or so I have always thought!  For this dish, you have to cut it before you bake it.  A super sharp knife is key!  Since I don't do cute, just do your best!

Start by cutting equi-measure lengthwise.

Then go at a diagonal.  Something akin to this:
Because I am hoping to get as many servings from one batch as possible, I did a diagonal the opposite direction as well.  It's up to you!
You can place your index finger and thumb on both sides of top pastrty layer and chase your knife as you go because the tops of those buggers will want to pull up!  Don't worry, I promise the little fingerprints left behind will bake off!

Lightly drizzle and brush the entire dish with remaining butter. 
Bake at 325 for 1.5 hours or until nice and golden brown and flakey.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce:
In a medium sauce pan on low heat, combine the 1 C. Honey with Lemon and Water.  Start with Tablespoon measures on the lemon and water. 

Your sauce should not taste like honey.  It should not taste like lemon.  It should be a blend of the flavors with neither over-powering the other.  The flavor will also depend on the honey itself.   This was the first batch I've made with our own honey!!  :) 

The consitincey of the sauce should be thicker than water and thinner than honey.  You can always add more of one or the other to correct the taste or more water for thinner consistency.  It really just needs to be to your liking!  So no worries!
When the Baklava is done baking, remove from the oven and with a large spoon, drizzle ALL the sauce on.  It will soak up nicely.

If you can hold out, let it cool.  :o)

This dish freezes wonderfully!  You could place the slices in smaller containers and really "Wow!" your guests!
Now...go make a dentist appointment to fix the holes in yer head!