Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Summers End

Well as much as I want to hang on to summer just a little longer I see the end clearly. The sunshine is a little more golden, the days a little shorter and I've seen my first wash of red in the trees.  I think I'm ready to give in to the changes I see around me. It's not that I don't love Autumn, I just don't love what comes after Autumn, but if you've been around for any amount of time you know that about me.
I'm deep in the work of summers end. I have a table full of ripe peaches that will be frozen and made into jam and I see a few pies in my very near future.

I have already made a batch of peach jam and it is good! Nothing can beat the fruit from the orchard, it ripens properly instead of going from hard to mush like the grocery store varieties.  With the golden light of early Autumn spilling in my kitchen windows it's no work at all to turn ripe fruit into something amazing.  I always say, if you don't like cooking and baking you aren't making the right recipes!

Using leaf cookie cutters for the top crust is even easier than lattice and it just feels like fall
Earl and I grabbed a quick weekend away the weekend before last. We found a b&b right on the Au Sable River. It turned out the forecast wasn't conducive to canoeing so we headed to Traverse City to look around.  We hid out in antique stores while it rained and looked around at a huge old asylum that has been turned into retail stores and condos. Such a great use for amazing Victorian architecture.  We found some cozy, fun little places for lunch and dinner and then headed back to the b&b to enjoy some coffee on the big porch while we watched the rain.
And then we got up early the next morning and spent more time on the porch. Feet up, hot coffee chasing the chill, and watched the rain come down and the river flow by.  So amazingly relaxing! I now need a very large porch added to our house. Some day....
The garden is mostly ready to pick.  The first tomato was eaten the day it was ripe by some garden bandit with 4 legs, but we have high hopes of getting the next one, We have harvested the onions, and most of the green beans, (we didn't plant enough!), and are working our way through the beets. I like to roast them in the oven, peel them and make fresh Greek salads for dinner.  Thank goodness most of the flowers are hanging on as we slowly harvest everything else.  It's too late to plant anything else and empty spots in the raised beds would be so sad. This is our first year growing brussels sprouts and I just can't wait to see how they turn out. I can see the little buds forming but they don't seem nearly big enough for this far along in the season. Fingers crossed that they amount to anything!

That's about the extent of the excitement around here. It must be nearly fall because I feel my focus shifting from the garden to the house.  I'm looking around and planning some freshening up in the kitchen, back entry and master bedroom. Now all I need is the gumption to get going :)  How about you, any big fall decorating / nesting plans?

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Brown Butter Peach Tart

This is a quick post.  A public service announcement if you will.  Last night Earl made a Brown Butter Peach Tart for me to share with a friend over coffee this morning. I know, he's a keeper!  Anyways, this is the butteriest, most wonderful recipe ever. I mean ever!  It's a Pinterest keeper and I found the recipe here. With fresh peaches just coming into season you are going to want to make this.  It's really easy and really, really good.  You all know the easy way to peel peaches is to dunk them in boiling water for 30-40 seconds and then into ice water right?  Good.  Let me know if you make this, what you think.  You're welcome. Carry on.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Making Summer Last

I don't know about you, but this summer has flown by at record speed for me.  I can't even say I have done anything fascinating or been particularly busy.  I am starting to see so many who are over this hot summer and longing for fall, but as much as I love Autumn I hang on to the longer days of summer and the warmth with a tight grip.  We are making plans for a few weekends away and I shake my head as I realize I'm already filling my October calendar!

One way to make summer last is to make sure we don't miss out on any of those sights and sounds and beautiful things that only summer brings.  Like hitting the farmers market and taking in all those beautiful flowers.
Our youngest daughter went with us this weekend and I came away with this beautiful bouquet of flowers that she bought me.  $6 gets you some amazing deals at the farmers market, what do you think you would pay for these from a florist?  $50-$75?

After the farmer's market, we headed to a local orchard hoping to find some fresh peaches.  It's peach season and the ones I get from the grocery store never seem to ripen as well as they should. They go straight from green to mush.  We came away with this.
I'll be turning these into peach jam and peach pie this week!

How are you spending the last days of summer?

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Story of My Life, Part 5

That kiss just melted me.

 After that date we were inseparable.  As I got to know him, his faith became more and more evident and it was clear that I had found someone who loved God as much as I do. He turned out to be one of the kindest and most unselfish men I have ever met, always putting others before himself.  He surprised me time after time with romantic gestures like the time we went for pizza and he pulled me onto the floor to dance to a funny song on the jukebox, or the time he ran toward me on the campus lawn, dipped me in the moonlight and started singing "Temptation" to me.  He had a campus security job and I would join him on his night time rounds as we explored all the little hidden back rooms and secret places on campus. we laugh together every day.

He proposed on our second date and I said, "whoa! lets take this a little slower."   He was sure way before I was!  For the next few months he would ask me to marry him every few weeks, sometimes I would say yes and then back out the next day, sometimes I would ask for more time to think. It all seemed to be moving so fast!
I know, scandalous isn't it!?  Keep in mind, a friend took this picture, the door was open and we were chaperoned as the school's rules demanded.
He continued to ask me to marry him every few weeks, and I continued to stall, until one evening in May when I said yes once and for all.  We were married in August the following year at my little country church that sat by a river.  I wore a wedding dress made by my Aunt and the reception was a simple cake and punch affair.  That was a fairly typical country wedding back then. I have often wished I could do the wedding over, I know a lot more about weddings now! But I wouldn't trade the groom for all the gold in Fort Knox.

I can only assume God was in heaven looking down, laughing and shaking his head and saying, "I love that girl but she's a little slow."  He put the perfect boy in front of me, repeatedly, and it took forever to break down my resistance.  At some point, after we started to date, that list fell out of my bible and I realized Earl was every single thing on my list with a few extra happy things thrown in.  I have never regretted loving him for one moment and have thanked God over and over again for bringing us together.  Earl has a great capacity for love and I love him back with all my heart. The story of "my" life became the story of "our" life, including two beautiful daughters who adore their dad just as much as I do.  He has made my life heaven on earth and I can only thank God that Earl never gave up on me.

Writing this has brought back so many happy memories.  I hope you enjoyed our story as much as I enjoyed writing it. I would happily recommend taking a trip of your own down memory lane.  If you have a beautiful story don't hesitate to document it, even if no one sees it but you and your spouse!  It is so good to remember all the little ways your story is special and beautiful.
Because I know you want to see the dress :)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Story of My Life, Part 4

So there I was feeling a little confused.  I actually liked the kiss, but I'm a girl who sticks to her guns. I wasn't going out with him and that was final!
Here I am in that same crazy gingham tube top again,  I think most of these photos were taken on the same day. Probably using up the rest of a roll of film. Thank heaven we now have digital cameras!

Fast forward to February and my old Chevy Nova needed an oil change.  I happened to say something about it to some friends and the next thing I know Earl is volunteering to change my oil for me.  For pity's sake the man would just not give up!  Of course, my thought was if he wanted to crawl under the car in the snow and change the oil he was welcome to do it.  And he did!  That dark haired, blue eyed boy changed the oil in biting cold and snow. In fact, he forgot to put the oil plug back in after draining the oil and had to run to the store for more oil and crawl under the car a second time!

 I can't believe I didn't anticipate what came next. I should have seen it coming a mile away.  Nothing had deterred Earl from asking me out over and over again for 6 months.  What made me think he wasn't going to do that again? I don't know. You would think he would be so over me by now, but of course he does something sweet like working on my car in the freezing cold and then shows up at my door again with a smile and the offer of dinner.

Now while I may sound like a cold and heartless girl so far in this story, (and later in this story!) I really am not.  I felt a twinge of guilt for allowing him to change the oil in those conditions and I just couldn't bring myself to say no this time.  I thought I would give him one date and be done with it. We would be even and that would be that.

Later that week he picked me up at the door of the dorm, I wore a black satin shirt that I had borrowed from a friend and jeans. I had actually gone to the trouble to wear make up and fix my hair, Why? Well the poor guy had worked so hard to get a date I thought I owed it to him to look my best right?  He took me to a nice steak house in town and we sat over dinner for a very long time discussing where we saw our lives going, what we wanted out of life, what kind of house we each liked best, and so many other things.  It turned out we really liked a lot of the same things.

We eventually headed back to the college, he parked the car and we talked for a little while, and then he leaned over and kissed me good night.

And just like that, things changed.

To be continued....  The Story of My Life, the end...and the beginning.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Story of My Life Part 3

I don't remember a time in my life when God was not real to me.  I remember saying my prayers as a tiny child and my absolute belief that someone heard them.  I have felt God's prodding, leading, whatever you want to call it on many occasions. Faith is important to me, which is why one of my requirements for a future husband was that he share that faith.  Prayer is a big part of that faith and so one night, as I sat on my bunk in my room, I prayed that God would help me find my future husband.

I mentioned earlier that I had seen bad marriages. Both were in my own family. My mother and father divorced when I was 3, my father wasn't around very much.  In fact, my mother was usually in court trying to get him to pay his child support.  While my sister and brother and I dressed out of the Thrift shop, (I was so ahead of my time!) my dad was enjoying trips to Europe, cruises and his lake house with his new family.  My step dad was a controlling slave driver with a mean mouth and a wicked backhand. I am at peace with my dads now, I have moved on from the anger I used to feel. It was a long process but it is behind me.  In college I was determined to not make the wrong choice in a life partner. I determined that I would use my head before my heart in choosing a husband, and the first step in that was making my list.

And so it was that one night in the fall of my freshman year I sat on my bunk in my dorm room and prayed that God would help me find the right guy to share my life with.  It was a prayer I had prayed many times and God and I were having a nice conversation when suddenly that "still, small voice" that people often attribute to God whispered, "Earl Miller" in my ear.  I froze. I knew that name was not my own thought because at the time I was still not into Earl at all. Not at all. I could almost feel God smiling in amusement.  I think God has a sense of humor don't you?  Would he have made us able to laugh and find things amusing if he couldn't?   I know this will sound strange to some people, but it was very real to me.  I was a little miffed at the name that came to mind and promptly ended the discussion. I am sure God was laughing because he KNEW how it would all turn out.
How did I resist this cutie for so long?
At this point Earl had kind of given up on asking me out and started dating a girl named Anna.  Poor Anna, he wasn't asking me out but every time I came into a room his attention turned from her to me.  I was taking a lot of art classes and one of my assignments was to draw a series of perspectives on hands.  I needed a hand model and so I went out to the Muffitt lounge to see if there was anyone there I could use.  Guess who was in the lounge?  Earl and Anna.  I asked if either of them would let me draw their hands and he jumped up and volunteered.  As I drew I couldn't help noticing what nice hands he had.  It took me a couple hours to draw his hand in different positions and at some point Anna walked out of the room. Neither of us noticed.

By now it was winter, January term is a short few weeks and as a student you could take that term off, take an accelerated class or join some of the ministry experiences the school made available. Earl joined up with Wandering Wheels and headed to Florida where he spent those weeks riding his bike a and helping at various churches.  I'm not even sure what Wandering Wheels did, but when I ran into him when he returned he was fit and had turned a nice golden color.  I remember thinking he looked very handsome!  Did that change my mind about going out with him? No.

As a matter of fact, one night I was on the steps in the entry way to the girls dorm when he came into the building, stood a few steps below me and asked me out again.  I looked at him and told him,

"I wouldn't go out with you if you were the last man on earth."

His response was to jump the last two steps between us, take me in his arms and kiss me!  I turned on my heel and walked onto my floor and into my room.  I was kind of mad....but I also really kind of liked it.

To be continued....The Story of My Life, Part 4 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Story of My Life, Part Two

I know what you're thinking, the hair! It was the 70's and he was determined to only go to his regular barber back home. It made for quite the luxurious mane.

I looked across the sofa at the broad shouldered boy with thick dark hair and beautiful blue eyes and a sweet smile peeking out from below his mustache and I said,

"Get your hand off my knee."

That's right dear reader. I spurned him. I spurned him like he was a bare lipped, brown eyed, 98 pound weakling.  He immediately had #1, 3, and 6 from my list going for him and I just wasn't interested.  I was surrounded by more boys than I had ever seen in my life. It was as if someone held out a box of chocolates, offered me my favorite salted caramel and I turned it down because that orange cream filled one next to it was available.

I hate orange cream filled chocolates, but I was young and breaking out of my shell and was getting plenty of attention.  I was having a great time and suddenly my list seemed a bit narrow minded. How he ever came back for more after that snotty comment is beyond my understanding. I can only be grateful he did.

The next few months were filled with all the fun activities going to college had to offer. Parties, getting to meet and know new friends, and yes, (look away daughters), kissing a few boys.  Nothing serious but I certainly had fun.  The girls on my floor took turns accepting floral deliveries from numerous sources and life was good.

Every once in a while Earl would ask me out and I would say no. His capacity for rejection and mine for stubborn blindness were equally astounding.  Oddly enough, as the fall semester wore on people on campus kind of began to see us as a couple.  Not the kind of couple that actually dates, but they could see he was pursuing me.  I would go to the Ormston lounge to watch t.v. and when he walked in the other boys sitting on the sofa with me would get up so he could sit with me.  It kind of ticked me off.

And then God got involved.

To be continued,,,,, The Story of My Life, Part 3

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Story of My Life

August is upon us and with it comes the anniversary of the most momentous and rewarding decision I ever made.  August 9th is the anniversary of 36 years of pure and absolute wedded bliss.  Since I plan to make each year of my blog into a separate issue bound for future generations, I feel it is time to tell the story behind the wooing and wedding of two people who were clearly destined to be together.

The story of this guy.

And this girl.

In many ways meeting Earl was the beginning of my life.  Oh sure, there was life before Earl, but I can only compare it to a film in black and white that suddenly becomes technicolor when the hero of the story appears.  The interesting thing is that I very nearly didn't recognize the hero of my own story.

Lets begin with me at the tender age of 17. I was a good girl, raised to love Jesus and mind her p's and q's.  My nickname in high school was Virg.  Short for...well, you know.  I had plenty of guys ask me out but I turned them all down. I had an idea in my head of what my perfect guy would look like and none of the scalawag, skirt chasing, farm boys in my tiny rural high school fit that ideal.  I had seen what a bad marriage looked like and I wasn't taking any chances of falling for someone who didn't measure up, and so I managed to leave high school and enter college having had one date, a blind date that a friend begged me to let her set up.  One date was enough for me. He wasn't my type.

What was my type you ask?  I had thought it out thoroughly and wrote a list which I kept in my Bible .
1. He had to be 5' 10" or taller.  I'm tall and I wasn't dating any short guys.

2. He had to be a Christian.

3. Dark hair and blue eyes

4. He had to be kind and loving. He had to treat me well.

5. No bad temper!

6. He should have a mustache. (I know! What a silly requirement! But I kind of dug mustaches, and I still do ;)

I entered the local Christian college intent on getting a teaching degree and meeting Mr. Right.  This was back in the day before computers and texting. There was only one way to get to know someone and that was to talk to them.  Ah, the good old days :)  Since I always preferred old homes, I chose to stay in the oldest dorm on campus. Muffitt Hall, an ancient brick building that housed only women.  Across the lawn was Ormston, the oldest men's dorm.

I was determined to break out of my shell and the best way to do that was to cross that lawn and plunk myself down in Ormston's t.v. lounge, which I did as soon as possible.  Oh my, the boys were plentiful.  As I sat on the sofa watching Roots with a group of other newbies, in walked Earl.  He and a friend sat down on the same sofa, the friend introduced us, and Earl reached over, put his hand on my knee and said Hellloooo Kathy! in the deepest, most resonant voice I had ever heard.

To Be Continued........... The Story of my Life, Part 2