Birthday blessings…

Birthday blessings…

Today is my birthday.  I was born in a small town in the Delta of Mississippi, the youngest of four daughters.  When you get to be THIS old, you become a little nostalgic about your life:  your family…what you’ve accomplished – or didn’t accomplish – and whether or not you should just toss the proverbial bucket list.  I’m blessed.  I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt.  I have a wonderful husband, amazing children and grandchildren.  I have precious family and friends scattered throughout the states.

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aptWe are happily settled in our apartment in the Chicago neighborhood of Ravenswood.  My youngest son and his family is a short 3 block walk away from our apartment.  Tonight, we will be there for my birthday dinner.  Quaint shops – and a Starbucks – are just a short walk away.  Thanksgiving dinner was here in our small apartment- all eight of us.  Doug and I cooked the ham, turkey and cranberry salad and everyone else brought the sides.  My three and five year old granddaughters decided they would rather be at the “grown-up’s table”.  We moved them there and everything was perfect.

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Doug’s ninety-seven year old mom went home to be with the Lord on October 10th.  It was a beautiful service in the Lutheran church where Doug grew up.  She would have loved the amazing blanket of Autumn flowers – accented with yellow roses – that covered the casket.  We miss her.

sch_noitems_leafI’m in the process of taking photos of our small apartment and will be sharing them soon.  In the meantime, we are enjoying our time with our family here before we head back to Iowa for a few weeks.

 

 

Autumn in Iowa…

Autumn in Iowa…

It has been an Autumn to remember in Iowa.  Trees with leaves  the color of gold, crimson, bright orange and deep amethyst.  Great temperatures.  Skies a gorgeous blue with snow white clouds, bright sunshine and a cool brisk breeze…and lots of pumpkins!

Last Friday was the perfect day to travel to Center Grove Orchard for a day at the pumpkin patch with my daughter, three of my precious grandchildren and my good friend Doug.

Located in rolling hills covered with pumpkins and a beautiful farm setting, Center Grove Orchard was a pleasant surprise.   We began our tour with the little duck race propelled by old fashioned hand pumps.

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Visiting with the goats (especially the little kids) was, of course, my favorite.  Then the rest of the farm animals:  the ducks, turkeys, chickens, pigs, sheep and horses.  Need I say, I love farms!

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There were tractor go-carts for the kids, a huge inflated jumping deck…
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and then, of course, the giant slide (it’s longer than it looks!!!)  that the grandkids talked grandmom (me!) into doing down.  You’re sitting on a large feedsack and sliding down…very, very quickly!  If you’re wondering why I’m reclining while my grandchildren are sitting up, well…I wasn’t prepared that it was so lightning FAST and it knocked me down.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Grandkids: “Grandmom! You’re SUPPOSED to sit up!!!” Grandmom: “You didn’t tell me it was so FAST!!! I can’t sit up!”

 

And what’s a trip to a pumpkin patch without a fun hay ride on a tractor-pulled wagon loaded with bales of hay and a memorable trek through a six-acre muddy corn maze?!  My first time in a corn maze!

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Since the pumpkins fields were so muddy, my daughter purchased 4 pumpkins and 2 bushels of apples which she has ALREADY turned into delicious apple butter and apple sauce!  The Country Store also sold lots of other homemade goodies!

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Sunday morning reflections…

Sunday morning reflections…

It’s was 56 degrees in Iowa this morning with bright sunshine and clear blue skies…reminding me that my favorite season is quickly approaching.  I’m under the weather this morning after several nights of much less than adequate sleep, so I will put the praise music on and enjoy a time of worship here in my porch rocking chair.

Yesterday afternoon, my friend and downstairs neighbor Susan and I ventured out in the beautiful weather for a few hours.  The goal wasn’t necessarily to purchase anything – although I did find a tiered stacking rack for the spices in my pantry and a couple of Autumn dish towels.  The goal was just to enjoy the afternoon.  Apparently, everyone else in West Des Moines had the same idea!

We ended up eating a late mid-afternoon meal at one of my favorite places – Famous Dave’s.  Memphis Barbecue was featured on the menu as well as Georgia Pulled Pork (which I had).  Having grown up in Memphis, I wondered how Dave knew so much about Southern barbecue.  Click the link and read his story!  Believe me, if Famous Dave’s were in Memphis, they would give Corky’s and the Rendezvous a run for their money!  Everything I’ve eaten there is delicious.

To be honest though, barbecue always makes me homesick for the South, since it’s a Southern “comfort food”.  In the featured photo above, I am having Corky’s barbecue at Penny’s house the Friday night after Thanksgiving in Memphis in 2012 with my niece Sharon and her husband Tommy.  I miss them and can’t wait to see them on October 1st when I fly into Memphis!

One week home…

One week home…

It’s hard to believe that I flew home from Montana just one week ago today.  Flying into the Des Moines airport last Wednesday, I was struck with the beauty of the patchwork of rolling hills, the enormous farms visible from our descending height and especially with how superbly green everything was.  Granted, there are no snow-capped mountains here in Iowa but the Iowa Heartland is beautiful all the same.

It has been a very busy week – filled with a few technicolor Midwest storms, torrential rain and today there was sunshine with cloudless, clear blue skies and a high of 85 degrees.

On Sunday afternoon, we celebrated my granddaughter’s 15th birthday.  Her paternal grandparents were there, I was there, her parents and siblings…and about about ten of her friends who wanted to turn the special event into a surprise party!

My assignment was to get my granddaughter out of the house while the friends arrived and the house was decorated.  I decided to treat her to several books at one of her favorite stores:  Barnes & Noble.  Unknown to her, we were on a time schedule and I had to have her back home in time for the surprise.  My daughter warned me to let my granddaughter enter first.  I did but I still managed to get my share of “silly string” too!

My daughter made a huge pan of her delicious Penne Rustica.  I made a gigantic tossed salad and three loaves of french bread.  My granddaughter had requested my daughter’s homemade delicious chocolate cake with vanilla icing.  Scrumptious!

All in all, it has been a busy week with a lot crammed into it.  I love traveling but, for now, I’m glad to be home…

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Above:  with her younger sister in 2014.

Below:  one of my favorite pics of her as a toddler.

Valley Junction, Iowa…

Valley Junction, Iowa…

Today was a perfect August afternoon.  84 degrees, blue skies and a few scattered clouds.  My friend and neighbor Susan and I ventured over to Valley Junction for the weekly farmer’s market.  She had been telling me about the Farmers’ Market for weeks and, today, we finally made it.  Early June, I had been to Valley Junction to wander through the antique shops and especially browse through my favorite shop, Sisters,  on 5th Street.  It had been quiet that day and not too crowded, but today the village was alive with all the activity.  For all my Tennessee friends, it rather reminded me of the square in downtown Collierville.  Someplace each of you would like to visit!

Each Thursday afternoon, there are over one hundred vendors  selling fresh produce, fresh baked goods, unique arts and crafts, plants, flowers and delicious looking prepared foods.  Next time, I’d like to try some of the specialty foods.  I came home with two large red, ripe tomatoes, a loaf of  Asiago Italian Ciabatta by Big Sky Bread Company in Urbandale, Iowa and a large container of very fresh green beans!  All reasonably priced too.

Had we stayed later, we would have been there for the live music and I’m sure I would have loved that as well.  There was a young woman singing in one of the store doorways.  At first, I thought they were playing a CD by one of my favorite artists, Norah Jones!  She had a lovely voice.

All in all, a very enjoyable August afternoon…

 

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Loved the hand carved birds below by Whirlythings!

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My favorite shop is Sisters!  Hmm…I see a cowgirl hat I like!  

And lots of other things as well…

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Below:  Sisters also has a wonderful selection of bedding, laces, baby things and so much more!

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Spotted this old fashioned washer in the window of one of the antique shops.  

Reminded me of one Mama had many,  many years ago.

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Below:  A few more random pics from the Farmers’ Market this afternoon…

Will definitely be headed back and enjoying the selections and the music!

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