Thursday, August 25, 2016

Grabbing some summer before it's too late

The summer is flying by too fast.  On what can we put the blame for that?

It's more that the usual thought that time goes faster as we get older.  This year we could easily blame it on all the preparation for our family reunion, especially the last month as I furiously tried to get that  family history book ready for printing.  Or maybe I can blame it on this train wreck of a presidential campaign.  There went July!

Lots of town events, lots of B&B guests, and now more coming up with the big Labor Day weekend in Port Wing.  The Baseball Club Fish Boil on Saturday brings 2000 people to town, and the Lions Fall Festival on Sunday features a 5&10K race, a classic car show, flower show, vendors and craft tents, kiddie and Grand parades, entertainment by the Lords of Baltimore, all surrounded by the aromas of brats, hamburgers, sweet corn, beer, and pie from the Lutheran church ladies.  And that brings on the end of summer with a BANG!

But today we could slow down time a little by doing some of the usual late summer garden chores.  Our tomato vines look awful this year, but they're good enough to give us some decent tomatoes already.  Some say it's because of the overabundance of rain earlier in the summer, but the vines are just falling apart!  The cucumbers are so overgrown that we can hardly see the cucumbers.  Never satisfied!

So we canned one batch of tomatoes in pints.  One more batch tomorrow and then maybe some marinara sauce.  We also made tomato chutney today, which is kind of a thick marmalade texture but the savory combination of tomatoes, garlic, ginger, and red vinegar.  Good with crackers and a little cream cheese.  

And Leann finished off the day with a batch of black raspberry jelly from berries we got from a friend.  Some will be sold at the Saturday Market church table, and some will be served to B&B guests.  I love that smell of berries being prepared for jelly or jam.  So maybe it's the good smells - tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, berries - that help us slow down enough to enjoy where--and when--we are.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

April to August - and now another book

My last post was on April 26th; today is August 23rd.  What has been happening in those months?  Well, summer for one thing, and even though we are a REALLY small town, summer is REALLY busy!  Lots of town events and lots of B&B guests keeping us busy.  This year, though, I added something extra to the summer.

My last post was about the completion of our church cookbook, First Lutheran Favorites. The cookbook was a hit, and we've sold lots of copies at all the summer events.  And, doing that cookbook using the website gave me the practice I needed to complete my next book JUST in time for our Larson family reunion last weekend.  And I mean JUST in time.  My 75 copies arrived via FedEx at about 3pm last Friday afternoon!

The person listed as the co-author, Nils Tervell, is my third cousin from Sweden.  I may have mentioned him before, but he located me from an email he sent to our town website last summer - the website for which I am the webmaster.  It was all by chance that I was in a position to get that email, but he's been sending me family history information ever since.  So he provided the content from Sweden and I compiled the story from when they all arrived in America.  It was a big project and I'll probably talk more about it as time goes on.

And it all had to be completed, uploaded, printed and back to me in time for our reunion last Saturday.  Below is a photo of all attendees in front of the bell tower from the old school.  The rain stopped just long enough so we could get some pictures outdoors.

All the yellow reunion shirts have a small pocket design on the front and this picture (below) on the back.  They are the three Larson brothers who were some of the first settlers in Port Wing.  We realized it was 125 years since Fred Larson--my grandfather--was the first to bring a family to this little wilderness that would later become Port Wing.  We had a great time but I'm still recovering!  I'm sure I'll write more about the day.

And finally, here is a photo showing one of our recent beautiful sunsets...since I haven't posted any lately!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Don't you just love those hometown cookbooks?

I mentioned that I still have winter projects to finish. Happily, one of my winter projects that actually is completed is our currently-being-published church cookbook called First Lutheran Favorites.  

Like most little churches, we are always looking for fundraising ideas and opportunities.  So last fall those in charge began collecting recipes from church and community people.  Our goal was to have them ready by the Lutefisk Dinner back in December.  When that didn't happen, we made our next goal this coming May for the start of our weekly Saturday Markets...and I think we're going to make it!

Here are a couple of proof copies--front and back covers.  I put the recipe for Egg Coffee on the back cover.  That was a tradition in years past to make the coffee in the big enamel coffee pots using coffee grounds mixed with an egg...sometimes using the eggshells, too!

We wanted to be sure to include recipes from our Swedish heritage, so there is a whole chapter with favorites such as lefse, potato sausage, limpa rye bread, sylte, fruitsoup, and more.  I went to our town museum and found some old pictures of the church through the years.  And to add to the historical interest, we were lucky to receive a document from the family of one of the older women from the church, born in Port Wing in 1913, with a collection of her memories of the early days in Port Wing.  So some of her memories are interspersed through out the cookbook.

We decided to go the self-publishing route with this cookbook rather than a regular printing company.  Several people had told me about the website called, and it seems to be working out very well.  I think I have finally done the last round of proofreading and editing, and now I have just put in our first order of 30 books.  I started with just 30 because that was the first price break, and I don't trust that all of the little picky errors are fixed.  It brings out the OCD in me!

I was involved in one other cookbook project back in my past in another church.  We had all kinds of problems printing that one--the printer left out pages, transposed pages - it was a nightmare.  I said never again to doing another cookbook.  Hopefully this one will have better results! (knock, knock)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Posting #200 or Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

Wow, I didn't know it was blog post #200, but how would I know since I've only looked at my blog admin page 4 or 5 times in the last year!  It's not that I haven't thought about it; I just didn't think I had anything to say.  So, coulda, woulda, shoulda!

But now spring is springing so that can only be good news.  And do you know about barn quilts?  Well, our resident quilter Leann heard about barn quilts and decided we needed one.  A barn quilt is a quilt square painted onto a square piece of lumber and attached to a barn.  Oh wait...we don't have a barn anymore.  So we put it--actually WE didn't put it - a friend helped us put it--on the side of our maple sugar shed.  Fun!

And after a relatively mild winter, some of our flowers are popping up, if the deer don't get to them first.  We planted a bunch of daffodils last fall with the understanding that deer don't like them like they do tulips.  Wrong!  The deer don't seem to have the same understanding.  So we have some crocuses and some still-undisturbed daffodils.  Hang in there little pretties!

And the rhubarb and garlic are coming up again.  Last year we could have sold all kinds of rhubarb at our Saturday Market so Leann is already planning on adding more plants to our rhubarb patch.  For you who aren't fans of rhubarb, it may be surprising that it was a big seller!

And our garlic is coming up!  This is already a 100% improvement from last year when we had a harvest of about 10%.  We moved them to a different garden bed so we'll see what this year brings.

So spring is here, and it's great, but I still have winter projects to finish!  And I have Garrison Keillor in my head saying that with the mild winter, we haven't suffered enough yet.  Must be the Lutheran in me

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day at the Bear Paw Cafe

Last July we were all pleased to see that our little restaurant in town was opening up again.   Under new management it is now called the Bear Paw Cafe, and it's become such an important addition to our town.  

They began with a breakfast and lunch menu, but have since began offering some daily specials, including chicken dinner on Sundays!  Monday mornings at the Bear Paw are especially busy, complete with a cribbage game in the corner.

Today Valentine's Day provided a reason to add something special to the usual fare--a choice of shrimp or prime rib, along with a salad, smashed baby red potatoes, a sparkling drink (no alcohol at the Bear Paw), and a perfect ending with a brownie, ice cream and fancy cookie.  And...only eating half of it gave me leftovers for tomorrow.  It was delicious. We hear they may decide to do this once a month!  (Shrimp was good, too.)

I'm not always a fan of posting pictures of meals;  sometimes they really don't look that great.  But they did such a great job today and I wanted to share.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

The seasons are a-changin'

September 29, 2015

Early this evening I went outside for something and realized that it was really pretty cold outside.  This afternoon we had gathered up all of the old blankets and sheets we use to cover plants, but I really didn't think we'd need them.  It's been so nice!  

Since we've had SO many tomatoes and cucumbers this fall, we decided whether we really needed to cover plants or to just let them go--a hard thing for me to do.  So first I took some last pictures:

These flowers were great all summer, and those spikes just went crazy!

Cucumbers and some crowded out carrots on the left, and some really tired tomatoes on the right.  I covered the cucumbers.  Just couldn't let them go just yet!

[13February2016 Update:  I see I never clicked "Publish" on this post last fall.  Better late than never.]

Doing the turkey trot

Our turkeys are back after being gone since the record snow and cold of February & March, 2014.  So it's fun to have them back!
Walking down the driveway
When they first appeared at our deer feeder a couple weeks ago, there were 15-20 of them swooping in.  Now we are down to two that must circle around our property, coming back to the feeder every couple of hours, and scratching in the snow looking for some corn left behind by the deer.  Cheap entertainment!

Winter has been quite mild, but deceptive.  December was warm, January, too, but lately we've had a few nights below zero.  Plus, we haven't had any big snowstorms, but you wouldn't know that by walking through our yard.  The snow is DEEP, but most of it just came in those little "lake effect" dustings...but for a few days it was little lake effect dustings all day long!  So, it all adds up to knee-deep snow!
Port Wing Pier Iced-In
Jessica down at Johnson's Store said she had a ice-caver customer in today--people heading over to Meyers Beach to walk to the ice caves.  She wished them luck but they might need it.  The caves aren't officially open--and most likely won't be open--because the ice is not thick enough and there isn't enough time left to get it where it needs to be.  So, yes, people can attempt to walk over there to see the caves, but make sure your insurance is paid up!  Maybe next year.

I started this blog almost exactly two years ago in February because the winter was so bad and I wanted something to do.  Evidently 2015 wasn't a good blogging year if you look at my archives...not much there.  However, it says I've had 17,515 pageviews of my blog since I started and have collected flags from 42 countries.  Fun!

I have several projects going on right now so stay tuned...