Isn’t it fun hanging out with a famous funny author?  Well, I sure thought so yesterday – while laughing myself silly listening to Lorna Landvik tell us about her life, her books and the characters we have come to know and love through her novels.  Recently, when our local library announced it was hosting an authors visit by Lorna Landvik, I could hardly believe I had the chance to meet a famous author of whose every book I have devoured and thoroughly enjoyed.

Oh was she a hoot!  Before she was a writer, she was a comedian, which came out full force as she told us her story, often delivered with a thick Scandinavian brogue that made us feel right at home.  And now that it’s the next day, I have a few questions for her that I could not think of for the life of me during her Question & Answer time interval yesterday, which could have earned me a piece of chocolate.  Yes – she throws chocolate candy at you if you ask her a question.  And I still couldn’t think.  A Chocolate Block.  Today I would love to ask her who are some of her favorite authors, and what if you have an idea for a book but the characters won’t come forth and introduce themselves like her characters do for her? That could have earned me TWO chocolates yesterday.

Lorna Landvik will be busy this week finishing a new book, which of course she couldn’t divulge any information about except that it is almost done.   And I will be busy doing tax work (of which I am months behind); guess who will be having the most fun?   Maybe I should throw myself a chocolate every time I have a question.

My favorite books by Lorna Landvik are ‘Welcome to the Great Mysterious’, and ‘Patty Jane’s House of Curl’.  What are your favorite Lorna Landvik novels? And what question would you ask Lorna so she could throw a piece of chocolate at you?

Winter reading

January 27, 2011

Winter is the time when I catch up on my reading and here are some of my favorites so far this season:

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

The first book in a trilogy that documents the life of Teddy Roosevelt.  Though it was 700 plus pages long, it was fascinating to read such an extensive documentary about Teddy.  This man was like a freight train going at high speed – in everything he did and everywhere he went.  No wonder his likeness is on Mount Rushmore; I can hardly wait to start the next book!


Fruitless Fall by Rowan Jacobsen

A very well documented book about the Colony Collapse Disorder that is affecting honeybees worldwide.  I would highly recommend this book to anyone considering beekeeping.


Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

A very intriguing read that centers around food and secrets.  By the author of CHOCOLAT!


The Emperors of Chocolate by Joel Glenn Brenner

A fascinating read about the chocolate giants Hershey and Mars.  The stories of two empires built on chocolate, not to mention sweat and tears, by two different men with two different philosophies.  The revolution of chocolate  itself is amazing, likewise the lives of the two founders who revolutionized the world’s most magical and sought after substance, and made chocolate into a household product.

What has been your favorite read this winter?

‘Do it yourself’ could be my (doggone) middle name.  I’ve decided that there must be a missing connection in my brain somewhere; it’s the connector that fails to deliver a warning when I discover a new craft or trade which I admire and then begin to tell myself – “Oh, I bet I could learn to do that!”  Right then there should be flashing lights and bells clanging, but the malfunctioning connection has fooled me again.  Sometimes it is so fun to be fooled.

Right now though, I’m quite questioning my sanity and my middle name.  You see, we have a family wedding in just a few weeks, our son is getting married to his sweetie pie.  And so –  I’ve been told that the only responsibility of the mother of the groom is to wear beige and shut up – but somehow it’s not quite happening that way.  And it’s my own fault (mostly).

Well, being a flower grower, of course I would offer to help with the flowers – and that will be very special to have the church decorated with all our homegrown flowers.  Not every bride wants garden flowers, so I am thrilled that they are thrilled to have garden flowers for the wedding!

Then let’s see – oh, the wedding cakes.  Now, for some odd reason I decided to make my own wedding cake when I was 17 (with no warning lights or bells way back then, either), and have practiced the art off and on over the years.  So I just couldn’t stand the thought of the brides family paying mooka money for wedding cakes when I could make them for just the cost of the ingredients!  Well, I just had to offer, and they so kindly obliged me, and even offered to help out with the baking.  Bonding in the kitchen!

I did hesitate on offering to make the buns though; I was a little worried that I might be taking too much on.  But when I mentioned my doubt to my husband, he assured me that he would help (he really does make bread sometimes), and with his helpful help, we could gitter done.  So that’s partly his fault, though maybe I didn’t argue my dilemma well enough.  Anyway, I did make the first batch of buns today without his help, as he was busy taking the kids knee boarding at the lake.  I’m not sure what he is busy doing tomorrow.

So the problem might be the missing brain connection, or it might be the fact that once you know how to do it yourself, it seems so wasteful to not do it yourself;  and the homemade taste factor holds quite a bit of weight, too.  But I wonder if the day will come that I will be happy to write the check and let someone else do it all for me?  Somehow that doesn’t sound like me, but then, after all, how would I know with my missing brain connection?

Are there any other do-it-yourselfers out there that have a hard time not doing it yourself?

Wind powered kid fun

June 21, 2010

Country kids are good at entertaining themselves, and we are NOT talking electronics here.

So kids – on a REALLY windy day take a bed sheet and let the wind pull you across the yard.  Be careful though; if you let go right in the middle of a strong gust of wind the sheet could end up high in the tree tops, and mom might think your fun and clever idea was not quite so clever!

I believe Spring is finally on it’s way – I witnessed the first signs of Spring yesterday.  I heard thunder for the first time this year, and what music (or drums) to my ears!  And then I saw my first road kill – the first dead skunk on the side of the road.  That poor skunk has no idea of the joy he brought to my heart, and not because he was laying there deceased and it wasn’t me who had hit him, but because he must have come out of hibernation and that must mean SPRING (is coming)!

After an absence of six months, our ghost is back and playing tricks again.  I am beginning to think the ghost is a she, as almost all the pranks are directed at the girls.  And actually, I’m hoping it is a she, or else I think we might have a ghost with a perversion instead of a prankster.

More than a month ago, one of my daughters mentioned that her brand new bra was missing.  With three teen daughters at home, the task of laundry can be quite challenging and I have resorted to folding clothes into a community pile and letting the girls separate their own clothes.  I really have no idea what clothes are whose, I can hardly remember my kids and my flowers names!  So it would hardly be surprising for a bra to get misplaced, but strangely it was never found after searching all of the girls closets and drawers, and every other place we could think of.  Just gone, disappeared, never found.  Then another bra vanished, into thin air.  And another.  That’s when I started thinking that something really weird is going on, and wondered if the ghost was hanging around again.

Then, one evening about a week ago, I was in my bedroom getting ready for bed and suddenly there was the smell of really strong sulfur in my room, like a match had been lit, only stronger.  I asked each of the kids if anyone had been lighting matches anywhere in the house, though of course I KNEW that no one had been in my room lighting matches.  As we combed the house trying to pinpoint the source of the sulfur smell, we also smelled it strongly in one other bedroom and the laundry room, but all the other rooms were odorless.  We checked the furnace, the smoke detectors, and the carbon monoxide detector, just to make sure all were in working order, and then just sat there baffled.  But I had a real funny feeling…..

A few days later another daughter informed me that she also, was now missing a bra and couldn’t find it anywhere.  Just gone, disappeared, absolutely no where to be found.  Then, a few nights later, she went to shut her bedroom door which was partially open, and it wouldn’t move.  There was nothing obstructing the door, but regardless if she pushed or pulled, the door would not budge.  Then she pushed it really hard, and it slammed shut as easy as pie, at which point she ran and jumped into bed and pulled the covers over her head.  So that confirmed it, the ghost is back.

The disturbing thing about the bras disappearing is that it was the really cute and colorful (even polka-dotted) bras that vanished.  But it made shopping for replacements much easier; I made the girls choose boring, sensible bras in the hopes that they will be ignored and last for years.

So what is your opinion on the gender of our ghost?

Read more about our ghost:  Our nice ghost was naughty

Green Lotus peony ~ A gift from a garden fairy god-person

I have never met a fairy godmother, but I once was visited by a garden fairy god-person, and I have a unique and beautiful peony growing in my gardens to prove it.   The story behind this peony might seem far-fetched, but it is a true example of the enthusiasm and generosity that gardeners share.

Quite a few years back, I was cleaning house and getting rid of old magazines and nursery catalogs.  My daughter, who lived in a city 30 miles away, offered to take them off my hands and donate them to the magazine exchange at her local library.  Off they went, and I thought that was the end of that.

And then – a month or so later my phone rings.  And some stranger introduces himself and says he picked up a copy of a Klehm’s Song Sparrow Nursery Catalog that was at his library’s magazine exchange, and was wondering if it had been mine because it had my mailing address on it.  And he had noticed that I had marked a certain unusual peony in the catalog, and he tells me that he himself has that same unusual variety and is wondering if I had purchased one for myself.  When he found out that I had not actually purchased it, he asked if I would like a start from his peony.  And that’s not all….. when I mentioned that we lived 30 miles away from each other, he said it wasn’t a problem and that he could drop it off for me the next day!

It was all a bit baffling, and I was a bit nervous about this stranger coming over.  What if he wasn’t who he said he was, how could I know?  And why would he drive 60 miles to deliver a plant gift to a complete stranger?  My doubts were ungrounded, for the next day he showed up with a nice, healthy peony division for me.  We chatted gardening for a while, and then he proceeded to go on his merry way and left me to plant my new peony.

Each year when the unusual blossoms of my ‘Green Lotus’ peony are in flower,  I am most humbly reminded of the generous gardener (or garden fairy god-person) who shared it with me.   I can’t remember his name anymore, but the experience is engraved into my heart.

Have you ever been unexpectedly gifted from a gardener or fairy god-person?

Dough Lovers Unite!

February 16, 2010

I have lovingly passed on to my family a tradition that began with my mother – the practice of sampling home-made bakery in its unbaked state; otherwise known as eating dough.

I’m sure that most everyone has at some time sampled cookie dough; it wouldn’t be in ice cream and Dairy Queen Blizzards if it wasn’t so popular.  What I am talking about here is the fine art of snitching not just cookie dough, but bread dough, biscuit dough, and pie crust dough.  And batter, let’s not forget about batter; cake batter, brownie batter, and quick bread batter!  Lick the spoon, scrape the bowl, lick the beaters, and yes, lick your fingers!

As a connoisseur of dough, my taste buds have learned over the years to appreciate the distinct flavors and characteristics of different dough’s; the metallic zing of buttermilk biscuits, the yeasty wheat flavor of bread dough, the sweet and delectable savor of chocolate brownie batter, the fruity zest of rhubarb quick bread batter!  I have learned that if the dough looks right, feels right, smells right, and tastes right; chances are pretty good for the final baked outcome.

I have also learned that not everyone is as generous with their dough as my mother was; one of my own offspring has earned the title in our house of Cookie Dough Police, much to my dismay.  You would think that if I paid for the ingredients, I would be allowed one tiny snitch of her cookie dough; but no, not according to her understanding of baking etiquette.  Alas, we can only try to teach them right …………

I would love to know if anyone else learned the fine, culinary art of dough tasting in their mother’s kitchen, and what kind of dough did you snitch and savor?

Note:  Eating raw dough, especially dough made with eggs, are a health risk and not advisable.  Sample at your own risk.  Never give dough to infants and children.

In 1860 a San Francisco newspaper ran this advertisement which can only be assumed as the ultimate truth in advertising!

Despite or because of such ads, there never was a shortage of riders!

A smile a day

January 13, 2010

In the cookie of life

Friends are the chocolate chips.