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This and that

I'll start this post with a recent picture of Ryan who is nearly 18 months old now and lots of fun:

We drove up to the mountains one afternoon last week and after stopping at one of our favorite bakeries for a delicious Cranberry Apricot Scone we drove on down the road making our way to the apple farm to restock our dwindling supply of eating apples and produce. On the way Rob noticed some activity in a store front that used to be a quilt shop. He quickly pulled into the parking lot and we went in to the Beginnings Quilt Shop. The store has a lot of beautiful, modern fabrics, some patterns and quilting supplies. The owner told us that she has only been open for four weeks. So, if you are a quilter and are in the Flat Rock, North Carolina area you will have to check it out.

We did end up getting some fresh vegetables and some apples. A friend asked me to bring some apples and caramel dip to a bridal shower that is coming up and we were discussing how to keep the apples looking nice. I told her that my friend Kathy had told me about soaking the apple slices in Sprite or Seven Up to keep them from browning. She said she had tried that but it hadn't worked well for her.

Well, this morning I decided to do a little experiment. I peeled, cored, and sliced apples into four different solutions: Sprite, citric acid in water, salt water, and Fruit Fresh water. I let the apples soak for about an hour and then took some out and put them on a plate and let them stand for an hour.

At the end of the standing time I discovered that all of the solutions did a great job of keeping the apples from oxidizing. The apples soaked in Sprite and in the Fruit Fresh solution tasted the best. The salt water apples tasted slightly salty--this would not be a problem if you normally add a little salt to the pie or apple crisp you might be making. The apples soaked in the citric acid solution were very tart--this too would not pose a problem if you normally add lemon juice to your pie or apple crisp.

I then drained all of the apples and combined them to make an apple pie using this recipe. (I just omitted the boiled cider since I didn't have any.) The pie ran over and looks rather messy, but we ate it any way. ๐Ÿ™‚

What is your preferred method for keeping fruit from turning brown?


Tortilla de Patata

This year I have volunteered to plan the refreshments for the monthly meeting of our church's Women's Missionary meeting. My friend Carol and her daughter Ashley are also helping. Ashley is in fourth grade and was a great help in setting up and she even wanted to bid each of the ladies farewell as they left the meeting. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our speaker this month was Mimi B. from Spain. Here she is with our former pastor's wife:

My friend Theresa who lived in Spain for many years told me that the Spanish people don't eat a lot of sweets and suggested that we serve almonds and an appetizer called Tortilla de Patata, which is basically a potato omelet. She said they are normally cooked on the stove top in a skillet and then cut into small pieces and served on a small slice of French Bread. I found quite a few recipes which could be baked in the oven which was easier for a large group. I practiced a couple of times and Rob and I really liked this dish cut into pieces and eaten as a meatless entree. It also reheats well.

Here is the recipe I used:

Tortilla de Patata (Baked Potato Omelet)

4 red skinned potatoes
2 Tbsps. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 cup diced red pepper
1/2 cup diced green pepper
5 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsps. snipped fresh chives or 1 tsp. dried
salt and pepper

Boil potatoes until tender. Cool briefly and then peel and slice about 1/4 inch thick. Set aside. Spray a 2 quart casserole with cooking spray and set aside. Heat oil in skillet and cook onion, garlic, and peppers until onions are translucent. Let cool briefly and then stir in potatoes. In a bowl beat together eggs, sour cream, parmesan, chives, salt, and pepper. Fold in vegetables and then pour into baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 mins. or until lightly browned and set in the center. Let cool a bit before serving. To use as an appetizer I lined the pan with foil and greased it so I could turn the tortilla out onto a tray and cut into squares. The bottom was nicely browned.

Our Women for Missions group has been a great blessing in my life. Nearly every month we have a speaker who opens her heart and shares details of what her life is like in the place where she serves. This enables us to pray more effectively for her and her family and it also often shows us how women all over the world face the some of the same struggles and concerns. Mimi shared with us this month that two areas that she has struggled with recently are the areas of contentment (particularly with her circumstances and stage of life) and gratitude. These are certainly areas that plague all of us as women. She told us two things which have helped her are practicing joy and having right responses.

If your church has a missions group I would encourage you to get involved. You can help to encourage those who are serving others in sometimes difficult places, and you will be greatly blessed by meeting and getting to know more about them and the ministries the Lord has given them.


Little Dresses

It has been many years since I had a little girl to sew for. When my daughters were small there were some wonderful fabric outlets near here where we could purchase fabric and trims very inexpensively. We were very blessed. Today it is hard to find nice dress weight fabrics in this area. I shopped at several stores (including Mary Jo's in Gastonia) to try to find small scale prints which would be a good choice for a tiny girl. Before we made our trip to Michigan this summer I had a lot of fun making these little dresses for Maddie. They are all too large for her to wear yet, but hopefully she will be able to wear them eventually. I also made her some bloomers to wear with the dresses.

This is a Children's Corner pattern called Frannie Baby. I had never used one of these patterns before. I liked the fact that they have actual pattern pieces for all the sizes included in the pattern--no tracing required. I did find the directions to be a bit sketchy. However, there are you-tube videos available explaining different techniques if you google Children's Corner and look on the website. The videos are very helpful. I was pleased with the finished garments.

I made this little "bee" dress with a pattern from The Handmade Dress. This is the second little dress I have made from this pattern. It goes together quickly and easily.

The last little number I made for Maddie was a little bubble suit pattern from Creations by Michie. She has a lot of cute patterns for baby girls and boys. This one also went together easily.

It was a lot of fun to sew up some girly things once again and I hope to be able to make her many more little dresses before she gets too big to want to wear something "home made."


Apples are available

This post is primarily for people who live near Greenville, SC. For some time now we have been hearing on the news that the apple crop in the western North Carolina mountains has been devastated by the spring temperatures and summer hail storms. Rob and I drove up this past weekend and went to two different farms and found out that there are many varieties of apples available. We were told that some farmers lost nearly all their apple crop, some lost certain varieties, and some fared pretty well in spite of many challenges from the weather. So, if you enjoy driving up into the mountains each fall don't hesitate to go. You may pay a bit more this year, but our local apple farmers will appreciate your business.


Our trip to Michigan this summer

We spent a little over a week in Michigan this summer visiting friends and family. Of course, we thoroughly enjoyed spending time with our daughter, Megan, her husband, Jim, and our two adorable grandchildren, Drew and Maddie. We enjoyed playing with the children and were able to babysit one evening so Meg and Jim could go out for their anniversary.

Here's a picture of Maddie from that week:

Megan is quite the bargain hunter and she took us to some of her favorite places where we, too, were able to score a few bargains. Our best deal was at a Sears outlet where we were able to purchase four pairs of pants for a total of $8.00. I had a birthday while we were there and Megan prepared a special meal to help me celebrate.

In the middle of our visit we drove up to visit some friends who spend part of the year here in Greenville and part of the year up in Cheboygan. The drive up took several hours and along the way we stopped for lunch at a place we remembered from when we lived in Michigan years ago. It's one of the few places I know of where you can get sliced olives on your burger. You can also get a cherry coke if you'd like. ๐Ÿ™‚

When we were about half an hour from our destination we decided to stop for a bathroom/coffee break in Grayling and were very surprised to see two of Rob's fellow teachers from school. Erin's family has a summer home in the area and Julie and her daughter had just flown up that day to visit for a few days.

Years ago when Rob first taught up in Michigan he boarded with an older couple named Bruce and Lillie. They had a small cottage on a lake up near Cheboygan and before they retired they built a lovely home on the same property. When we were married they let us use their home for our honeymoon. We visited them several times over the years while our children were still living at home. One year while we were up visiting they had rented out the cottage to a family with two boys about the age of our children. That's when we became acquainted with Fred and Cheryl.

They were both educators who lived further south in Michigan. They loved the Cheboygan area and have built a lovely home up there on the other side of the lake from where we met. They are both retired now and have begun living here in Greenville for part of the year and up on the lake in the summers. They have been inviting us to come up and visit them for several summers and we were finally able to take them up on their offer this year.

They have worked on their home little by little over the years and Cheryl has decorated many of the rooms with a theme. Since she was a teacher for many years her kitchen has an apple theme. The bedroom we stayed in had a woodland theme with bears.

Fortunately we did not see any actual bears on the property, but we did see a deer swimming across the lake one evening.

Rob and Fred paddled across the lake one afternoon on inner tubes; Cheryl and I opted out.

While we were visiting Fred and Cheryl we were able to see our friend Lille who now resides in an assisted living facility and to have dinner one evening with Bruce and his son Jim who now pastors a church in the area. The church recently built a new sanctuary and had had a week of sports camp the week before we were there. We could tell that Jim really has a heart for the people of his church and we were blessed by the services we were able to attend on the Sunday we were there.

This is Lillie:

Here's Bruce:

This is the new sanctuary in their church:

We had a wonderful visit with Fred and Cheryl and were thankful we were able to visit with them. We drove back down to Megan and Jim's and spent a few more days with them and then Meg and the children returned home with us and spent a few days here visiting with friends and family. Unfortunately Jim had to stay home and keep things going at the golf course. We did get to see him again when he met us in Indiana to retrieve his family.

Here's a picture of our three grandchildren together:

So, that's how we spent our summer vacation. Travel can be tiring but it is a great blessing to spend time with family and friends who so willingly open their homes to us. We are thankful that the Lord allowed us to make this trip and have many wonderful memories as we start another school year this week.