Wednesday, November 30, 2016

How's your Spritzgeback.

As we swing into the Christmas season, I have got blog ideas lined up for the entire month. Thursdays are going to be Christmas cookie day. What’s your favorite Christmas cookie and do you think that I’m going to write about it here? You’ll have to check in every week and see

The Spritz cookie has its origins the same place as I do - Germany. I don’t know how long the Loehmer family was in Germany, but the Spritz cookie has been there since the 1500’s. These cookies get their name from the German word SpritzgebackGeback is baked and spritz? Well, that means to squirt.

Now before you swear that you will never eat a Spritz cookie again, think about it? Have you ever made Spritz cookies or seen someone do it? If the dough isn’t just right, it can squirt out of the cookie press. I know mine does sometimes.

A lot of people don’t like making them because, as just mentioned, that dough has to be just the right consistency or it doesn’t come out of the press right and you end up with a mess.

I’m no genius at this, but I have found that the key is temperature. And not just the dough. The press and the pans and everything else that comes in contact with that dough needs to be slightly on the cool side. The more you handle those things, the warmer they get and then the squirting starts.

For better or worse, here’s the recipe I use:

1 cup butter or margarine
¾ cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder

Cream the first four ingredients, then gradually add the flour, salt and baking powder. Recipes always say to sift the flour and other dry ingredients together before adding them to the moist stuff. I never do that, I hate to dirty another bowl. I just dump the salt, soda or whatever else on top of the first bunch of flour I add and kind of work it in. Alton Brown, I am not. 

Anyway, oh, yea, preheat oven to 375 degrees. I never do that either. It’s a wonder anything I bake ever turns out. That first batch just has to bake a little longer while the oven heats up.

Ok, maybe this sharing cookie recipes once a week was a mistake. Yea, definitely, coz I’m not going to be able to tell you how long I bake these things. I just keep checking them until they’re done.

Yikes. I’ll have to try to be better next week. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Very Last of the Travels for the Year

About 80 miles north of the state capital, on the west side of I-39, resides the Hancock Agricultural Research Station. Run by the University of Wisconsin, it is a 412-acre research farm where trials of potatoes, field corn, sweet corn, soybeans, snap beans, carrots, cucumbers and switchgrass are run.

I drive down this highway quite a bit, probably a few times a year. The vegetable part of this station isn’t what I have always found fascinating. It’s the beautiful flower garden you can see from the interstate.

I’ve always wanted to stop, and finally that day in October, when Hubby and I were taking a drive, I made him pull over. 

The spot I was captivated by is actually the A. R. Albert and Villetta Hawley-Albert Horticultural Garden. This garden has been here since 1993 and was named, in part, after A. R. Albert who had been the superintendent of the Hancock Station from 1922 to 1947. And that was all the information I was able to gather off the internet. 

The only other thing I got is pictures. 
 The beginning of October was a little late to catch anything in full-bloom. 
Still saw lots of pretty stuff though. 
 Not so late in the season that they had drained the ponds. 
 I love this grass. I've been wanting some in my yard for a long time.
 My favorite all-time picture. How cool, huh? 
 Hubby's giving me the "have you taken enough pictures yet?" look. 
So that's it folks. I have finally gotten through all those road trips and day trips I took earlier this fall. Well, actually, there is one more, but - it's a story for another time. 

We're heading into winter! Come back this Thursday, when I start my Christmas series.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Give Thanks, one more time

I really had planned on posting at least my usual three times this week. I even thought about posting a daily Bible verse on giving thanks, because there are a lot of them to pick from, for good reason.

That did not happen. My week kind of fell apart on me. I do know, however, that no matter how my weeks, or my days, or even my months turn out, I still have more to be thankful for than to not be thankful for. I am blessed beyond measure. 

Various verses from Psalm 118

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

5 When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
    he brought me into a spacious place.
6 The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
    I look in triumph on my enemies.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in humans.

14 The Lord is my strength and my defense;
    he has become my salvation.
15 Shouts of joy and victory
    resound in the tents of the righteous:
“The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
16  The Lord’s right hand is lifted high;
    the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”

21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
    you have become my salvation.
22 The stone the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone;
23 the Lord has done this,
    and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 The Lord has done it this very day;
    let us rejoice today and be glad.
25 Lord, save us!
    Lord, grant us success!

28 You are my God, and I will praise you;
    you are my God, and I will exalt you.
29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.

New International Version 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A lot to be Thankful for

From Psalm 107

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
    those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
    from east and west, from north and south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
    finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
    and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
    to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
    and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty
    and fills the hungry with good things.

I was going to post this to my blog yesterday but then ran out of time and couldn’t think of anything to say about it anyway. Today, I was hit in the face with the reality of homelessness and just now read this again. Wow. Once again, God’s timing is impeccable.

It’s so easy to stereotype the homeless – they live in a big city, they have a drug or alcohol history, they suffer from mental illness, they are lazy, they could have a nice home if they wanted one but instead they choose to live on the streets. You can’t say that every homeless person fits into one of these stereotypes. Or that even most of them do. Each homeless person is as different as each snowflake. Each has a pattern and a story of their very own. And the best way to start to help them is to not judge and to instead treat them as a person, the same way that you would like to be treated.

 Today, at the time, I gave this homeless person everything that I could under the circumstances. Was it enough? As I sit here in my warm house with a full belly and a cat on my lap, I’d have to admit no. But I can’t let guilt weigh me down. I’m left with little to do except to pray for this person and for the people who I must trust to help him. Then I have to turn it over to God.

Not your typical Thanksgiving day message, huh? If you are reading this, though, where ever you, whatever your circumstances, you have a lot to be thankful for. 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Giving Thanks this Week

 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
    I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
    I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
 (Psalm 9:1-2 New International Version)

With Thanksgiving coming up this week, I thought I would share some passages from the Bible in which the authors gave thanks to God. I suspected I would run into a long list of passages. Even concentrating only on the Book of Psalms, I came across 20 verses and a few chapters which were just about giving thanks. Which if you know anything about the Book of Psalms, makes sense.

With that in mind, I am going to give thanks each day this week for a gift I have received from God. Today, I am thankful for His Word and the precious gift of the Bible. 

 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
     Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.
(Psalm 100 New International Version)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Another small town

 Still winding our way back from that ride to Princeton in October, we stopped at the granite quarry in Montello. With a population of not quite 1,500, Montello sits in southcentral Wisconsin and is the county seat of Marquette County. Founded in 1848, Montello may be best known for the quality of the granite which was quarried here from 1880 until the 1960s. In fact, the granite from this location was so durable and beautiful, that it was chosen for the monument at Grant’s Tomb, beating out 280 pieces of granite from around the world. 
 In 1977, when the quarry shut down, the piece of property changed hands a few times and parcels of it were sold off. In 1992 the waterfalls in these pictures were constructed and the water running over them is currently being pumped by the city of Montello.

 This waterfall, however, was created by the Montello Lions Club in 1966. I don’t know how that happened, just adjacent to the quarry. I didn’t have much luck on-line. Guess what, folks, I’ll have to go back here someday. (Along with all those other little towns I need to further explore.)  
Know what I really think?  I really think I need to get someone to fly me over this place  in their plane.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Big Moon

As you probably have heard, last night and the night before the moon was the biggest and brightest it will be until the year 2034 (which is really just around the corner, if you think about it, so don’t sweat it if you missed this one).

Late Sunday afternoon, I was taking the dog for a walk through the trails in our woods, when I spied the moon rising. I ran back to the house for my camera and then back through the woods. I thought I could get cool pictures through the trees, but my camera didn’t know what to focus on, so they didn’t turn out.

I conceded and went to the end of the driveway where I had a clear shot down our road. Unfortunately I didn’t have my glasses on, so I couldn’t really tell if any of the pictures were turning out. It dawned on me that I have all these cool settings on my camera that I never use, so I scrolled through them. Of course, I never read my camera book, so I don’t know what any of those settings mean. But as already mentioned, I didn’t have my glasses on, so I couldn’t see the settings anyway.  

When I first bought my Yashica 35 mm FX-3 (here's a picture on Ebay of one exactly like the one I have stored away somewhere, peeled off fake leather and everything. You might want to read Sunday's post to understand why I still have that camera),  I played with all the settings and jotted notes in a little book so that once I got those pictures developed, I knew which settings worked best in each – well – setting. I know, it was all explained in that camera’s instruction book, just like in my current Nikon’s instruction book, but I am one of those who has to do the thing to learn how to do it.

So what do you think? Did any of my moons turn out? 

Yup, so those are all the settings on my Nikon CoolPix. Sure can't tell you which is which though. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Getting Rid of Stuff

I had a different idea for my blog post today, but every time I open the files on my computer named “temporary pictures”, looking for a picture to use, my eye catches these and I am tired of looking at them.

As you may remember back on July 15, I closed my right index finger in the car door. Hubby had already locked the doors and my finger was stuck in the door. I’m screaming in the Sam’s Club parking lot, “open the doors, open the doors”. Bless his heart, it took Hubby a minute or two (or more likely three incredibly long seconds) for those words to register, coz that is a pretty complicated command that I was spewing out.

As soon as he unlocked the doors and I released my finger, I ran for the deli in Sam’s Club. Hubby’s trying to catch up to me and yelling behind me, “they won’t let you in without a card”. I yell back over my shoulder, “I don’t need a card, I have a finger!” (And those of you who know me, know that I never use my finger, seriously.)

I grabbed a cup from the soda fountain, filled it with ice, and stuck my finger in it. And you know how that felt – really good and really bad all at the same time.

Anyway, everyone told me, “that will take a while to grow out.” Yea, I’m thinking a month or two. And here it is FOUR months later. It’s getting sooo close, and yes, I think the fingernail is always going to have an un-divot on it. But truly it doesn’t look as bad as yesterday’s picture appears. I just couldn’t get my camera to focus.

Have you ever had something on your computer file, or paper file, or just on that pile on your kitchen counter of mail that you just need to go through and pitch? What a good feeling to get rid of it, right? Or at least abdicate it to the permanent file in the back room or on the external hard drive, or where ever you put stuff that you think you will need forever, and in reality you never look at it again.

And you know what that means? It means that I still have to edit that file of pictures from a ride to Rib Mountain State Park last May 7th and then get them off my computer.

Denise, what have you got to say? 
 July 15, about half an hour after smashing it
July 29, two weeks later, that's looking impressive
November 12, FOUR months later, still growing out

Friday, November 11, 2016

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month

On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918, fighting ceased between the Allied Nations and the Central Powers, ending “the war to end all wars.”

The Allied Countries suffered over 5 million military causalities, over 2 million civilian causalities and nearly 13 million wounded. If you remember your world history class, the Allied Forces included: Great Britain, Canada, United States, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, France, Greece, India, Italy, Serbia and South Africa. Romania, Belgium, Montenegro and Portugal, though considered Neutral Countries, were also caught up in the conflict.

The Opposition, called the Central Powers, suffered 4 million military casualties, over 5 million civilian casualties and over 8 million military wounded. These countries were: Germany, Bulgaria, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire.

Battles were fought on the now famous Western Front in Europe and in Italy, Gallipoli, Greece, the Balkan Peninsula, Africa, the Middle East, and the Falkland Islands, among others. Indeed, it was a World War.

It also came at a high monetary expense, costing the Allied Powers a total of
$125,690,477,000 and the Central Powers $60,643,160,000. It was the first war ever where more men were killed due to direct conflict instead of from diseases contracted while in battle. 

(Disclaimer: Different websites I consulted for these facts didn’t all agree. In fact one website admitted that no one knows the exact statistics, so I gave it my best shot.)                   

 One year later, on November 11, 1919, “Armistice Day” originated as a day to remember this historic and dismal conflict. In 1926, Congress passed a resolution to make this date an annual observance, and in 1938, November 11 became Armistice Day, a national holiday.

Following World War II and the Korean War, it was decided that all veterans of war should be honored, so in 1954, President Eisenhower officially changed the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day.

The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. We need to pay tribute to all American veterans, both living and dead, but should especially give thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime.

Britain, France, Australia and Canada also honor their veterans from World Wars I and II during the month of November. Canada celebrates Remembrance Day and Great Britain has Remembrance Sunday. Many countries observe two minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on November 11.

I was maybe a little long-winded on this post, but I don’t know that the younger generation really has a grasp of what all this country, this world has gone through. How much we have fought and suffered to maintain our freedoms. I thought this was important to share this week.
And as I finished all this research, I discovered, as I was writing this yesterday, that November 10th was the 241st birthday of the United State Marine Corp. Semper Fi.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Something worth voting for

I’ve been posting lately about my recent travels, short trips around Wisconsin and Minnesota. I’m not done with my fall journeys, but since it is Election Day, I felt obligated to write about that instead. Something patriotic and uplifting, a reminder of the ideals our country was founded on. However no divine inspiration has wandered into my head. I thought about scourging the internet for just the right story, maybe something about an even more disdainful election, but perhaps part of the problem with our modern times is all the information at our fingertips on the web.

I’ve traveled a fair bit around these fifty States (ok, I’ve not been to Hawaii, but I was in Alaska in 1982), and I pulled up a few of the pictures I took on those travels, the photos that I’ve scanned into the computer and that turned out all right after years of fading.

I know that the people – family, friends and strangers – are the most important thing we have. But looking at these pictures, I can also say that we have so much more to fight for. There’s no reason why the United States cannot stay a great and mighty country, the home of the free and the brave. 
 Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 1997
Custer National Park, South Dakota, 1997
 Badlands National Park, South Dakota, 1997
 Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan's UP, 2000
 Saguaro cactus, Arizona, 2003
Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota, 2007
Lake Superior, Michigan, 1998

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What it means to Live in the Light

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, New International Version)

One morning last week as I was heading to work in the dark, I pulled up to the four-way stop in our town. Three other vehicles also came to a stop at each of the other corners. We all sat for a minute, trying to decide who had arrived first and who was privy to going first. Slowly, one of the vehicles started creeping into the intersection. The other three of us let them go, which paved the way for each of the remaining cars to take their turn. Had it been daylight and we could have seen into each other’s driver’s seats, we would have seen someone waving us through. Or would have been the one waiting their turn, as we motioned the others to go.

In the darkness, we don’t know what to do. We’re confused and hesitate. We don’t want to cause an accident or injury. If we are walking around our familiar houses in the dark, we keep a hand on the wall or the furniture to keep from tripping.

How wonderful that as believers, we don’t have to stumble in the darkness. We have the light of our Lord and Savior to steer us on a safe path. 

Lord, God, Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your one and only Son to be the Light in our world, to guide us and carry us home. Amen.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Another small town - Princeton

I know that I’ve mentioned my mom’s cousin before, but I need to bring her up again as I might never have known about the Princeton Flea Market if it hadn’t been for the fact that she lived in the next town over. Whenever we visited, we’d either go rummaging or flea marketing or antique window shopping. All which were good activates to take the short drive to Princeton to do.   
This October, I finally talked the Hubby into taking the short two plus hour drive there from our house.
 Besides the Flea Market, Princeton is known for its antiques and antique shops. I think that the buildings downtown are all antiques themselves.
 No comment regarding the political environment.
 The Fox River runs through town and was running high the day we were there, thanks to the plentiful rains our state has been having.
 When’s the last time you took a drive to check out the little towns in your state? 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Busy Little Neshkoro

Neshkoro is a niblet of a town in Marquette County just south of the center of the state of Wisconsin. Founded around 1848, its name supposedly comes from two early settlers, Mr. Nash and Mr. Kora. As is true of much of the state, German Settlers were drawn to the area because the climate and terrain were similar to the Homeland. At one time, Neshkora boasted a foundry, brick manufacturer, harness shop, meat market, mercantile shop, woolen mill, and grist mill.
 I’ve driven through it maybe a dozen times over the years, and never gave it much of a thought. When Hubby and I drove through Neshkora a few weeks ago, however, the town was hosting its annual Scarecrow Festival. Crowds were flooding the Park to vote for their favorite scarecrow.
 We were a bit overwhelmed, so we wandered from the fray and discovered the historic dam.
More wandering brought us past one of the several murals in town (their website hasn’t been updated in a while).
 But it was actually pretty brisk outside and like I said we were just passing through on our way to bigger and better things (as hard as that is to believe).

A cute little town nonetheless. I’ll have to stop again some time.