Reflecting Back On May

British Columbia, Canada May 2018

The Seattle Japanese Garden 2017

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San Antonio River Walk 2016

Chewelah, Washington May 2015

Bellefontaine 142Bellefontaine Cemetery St. Louis, Missouri May 2014

British Columbia, Canada, May 2013

I’m still working through cleaning up my blog because of the Photobucket change of policy which resulted with them replacing 8 years of photos with ugly black and grey boxes asking for money to release my photos. I’ve made it to 2010 and have miles to go before I delete all those boxes. In the meantime I have these highlights from past posts in May. So much to be thankful for over the years.

We are in a warm weather pattern right now with just one wet day predicted this week. Right now a high of 75 degrees expected for Mother’s Day! We had a nice mostly quiet weekend here. The highlights of the weekend: time with Josh and Laura on our deck after the Sounder’s game, church on Sunday morning, and an afternoon meal on Sunday with friends in Kirkland. Hope you all had a good weekend.

Summer Olympics Hodgepodge

HodgepodgebuttonI’m joining Joyce who blogs at From This Side of the Pond for Hodgepodge Wednesday. Joyce comes up with the questions and we come up with some answers. Thanks Joyce! I’m early this week…

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1. Are you watching the Olympics? Your favorite summer Olympic event? I read recently a list of the most iconic Olympic moments in history…what stands out in your mind as a great moment from some past summer Olympic games?

We are catching some of the Olympics. Swimming, Gymnastics and Soccer are my favorite events.

The moment that will always stand out in my mind is watching Dear as a Torch Bearer in the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. Because he won the honor to run with the torch it brought the Olympics into our home in a special way.

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2. Have you ever been to Rio? How about the place that started it all-Greece? Have you ever been to any of the Olympic Games in person? Is that something you’d like to do? Have you ever met an Olympian in person?

Never been to Rio or to Greece but I have been to an Olympic event at the 1984 Summer games in California. Our family and some of our extended family were able to attend a rowing event at Lake Casitas in Ventura County.

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3. The ball’s in their court (tennis), cross the finish line (track and field), on target (archery), make a splash (diving), on a roll (gymnastics), out of one’s depth (swimming)…which Olympic-related idiom best applies to your life right now? Explain.

I’m going to go with out of one’s depth as Dear and I are thinking about the fact that he might be retiring earlier than we expected. He’s been unemployed for a couple of months and if nothing happens employment wise by his birthday we’re considering retirement and who knows what all that means! Yikes. We know who holds our future so we aren’t going down the anxious road but we are going down the unknown road.

4. What have you earned a ‘gold medal’ in recently?

My Gold Medal comes to me through blogging and the fact that God plopped me into the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog through my personal blog and my Russian heritage and family recipes.  I’m one of 10 gals who post on that blog and we have authored two cookbooks, a just released devotional book and unbelievably a play about us will be released the end of September. What? Our author royalties have all gone to help feed widows and orphans and to help provide clean water to families in Kenya.

2015-06-18 Tea in Canada55. What is it (or who is it) that motivates you to eat right, exercise, and do what you can to be healthy?

The mirror motivates me when I don’t let the mirror completely discourage me. It does help to have a partner in the endeavor to eat right and exercise.

van 2 0356. Are you young at heart or an old soul? Explain.

I think I’m young at heart because I still want to try new things and learn new things.

7. It’s National S’mores Day (August 10th)…are you a fan? Will you celebrate with a s’more today?

Not a fan but I can provide the ingredients for anyone who wants them!

8. Insert your own random thought here.

This post made me start singing that song from Sunday School that comes from Acts 3:6, a verse in the Bible.

Silver and Gold have I none/ but such as I have give I thee, /in the name of Jesus Christ/ of Nazereth rise up and walk./ Walking and leaping and praising God./ Walking and leaping and praising God./ In the name of Jesus Christ/ of Nazereth rise up and walk!

Without the Guests…

…the preparations are in vain. It’s because of the long-awaited guests that the preparations were completed. This time of year as we remember our long awaited Savior who came to earth on that first Christmas, the preparations for my guests had more significance.  Most of my guest photos were taken by Anneliese and Lovella. Thank you for sharing girls!

Lovella brought this very cute flower arrangement as a hostess gift and I found the perfect spot for it next to my sign that Katie wrote on. It was time for the party to begin and for everyone to eat, drink and be merry!

Kathy and Lovella prepared an Antipasti Platter for us all to enjoy before we sat down to dinner.

Our daughter Katie came to help with the serving.

It was time to find our places at the table.

When everyone found their spot we sang Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow. This has become a tradition for our gatherings.

Katie made sure the soup was hot before she served each person their cup.

Between the courses we sang Christmas Carols. O Tannenbaum and Silent Night were the two chosen and sung in English and German. I wasn’t surprised by the choices my “German” guests made.

It was time to get the dessert plates ready.

After dessert we had fun popping our Christmas poppers and wearing our crowns.

Before the girls retreated to another room to open the little gifts purchased for each other, Judy handed the guys their gift for the evening.

They each got their very own apron…

I’ll add the shout out to the young man who makes these to sell once I get the information from Judy. Since we let him use our logo he gifted us with the aprons for our “boys”.

By this time my eyes were drooping but my heart was full. I’ll leave you with a few closeups and cameos…

I got a kick out of this wine bag that Bev and her guy brought us a bottle of wine in.

What a wonderful world God opened up to us “Girls” over these past several years. I’m so thankful that God brought us together and has deepened our “love for one another”.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2: 1-4)

More Xmas 006Praying you are feeling the Joy this Christmas!

The Preparations…

On Sunday December 14th our long awaited Christmas Party with the British Columbia Mennonite Girls and their husbands began at three in the afternoon. My preparations had been going on for a while.

2014-12-11 More XmasJoy was the theme and red and gold were the color choices I picked. I had red glassware but only had a total of 10 pieces so I was on the hunt for 6 more goblets or glasses to fill the 16 place settings we would need for our party. When we traveled to our son’s home in eastern Washington in early November we shopped at some thrift stores and found a set of 8 red goblets for a real good price. Yippee!

We do not have an open concept home by any means and to be able to fit 16 around tables we had to get creative. We decided to empty out some of the furniture from our living room so we could fit two round tables that would each be set with eight place settings.

Where there’s a will there’s a way. I saw a package of red and gold Christmas Crackers at Costco and knew they’d be a fun addition to the table. The red and gold sparkly chargers came from HomeGoods. I already had a stash of cloth napkins in red and gold tones and napkin rings that worked nicely with the color theme. I found flat Christmas wreaths and red candle holders for my center pieces.

Here’s a photo the day of our gathering with all the last minute touches added to the table. This photo was taken by Lovella. The next couple of  photos were taken by Anneliese.

Our front porch was transformed with a fake little Christmas tree that we had in our condo when we lived in Southern California for a few years. The vintage red step stool was a fun piece to put some of my lanterns on. The cedar branches and all the greenery with red berries, rosemary, and holly came from my yard. I had the large glass jars that I filled with the greenery and added a candle in to warm up the entry to our home.

I’m enjoying our new 3D star that we purchased this year that adds it’s light to welcome you to our front door.

My next post will show the people that made all these preparations worthwhile. Here’s the sneak peek of the girls and the guys.

More to come soon with some great photos from Anneliese and Lovella who clicked away while Dear and I worked on getting the food ready for everyone.

Since I finally set a table and took some photos I’m going to link this post to Cuisine Kathleen’s Let’s Dish for this week. If you’d like to see my guests seated at these tables click here.

In the Kitchen…

…at the West Coast Women’s Show in Abbotsford, B.C.

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chicken West coast 028After the Kitchen Demonstration on Roasted Butternut Squash Soup, Grilled Lattice Topped Apples, and French bread (all from our new cookbook, Celebrations) We headed back to the Winks Booth at the show.

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I was happy that our daughter Katie was able to make the drive with me this time to Canada. It really makes the time go by faster when you have a traveling companion.

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Before we headed to the show we stopped in at Lovella’s and she had a lovely table set for us and served us Roasted Butternut soup with homemade buns. Delicious. Then we even got a cranberry scone to top it off. Thank you Lovella. We appreciated your hospitality!

Today (Saturday) the girls will be demonstrating 5 different things to make from biscuit dough at noon in the Kitchen theater at the show. Make sure you stop by if you are in Abbotsford!

We are getting things ready at this old house for a little reunion of some of our daughter’s friends from high school. Dear and I will escape upstairs to our loft after the small reunion gets started later tonight. What’s on your Saturday agenda?

Helping Hands…

…and open hearts that I am so thankful for.

On Sunday we were invited to a get together with dinner on Hatzic Lake in British Columbia. Anneliese and her dear husband put the invitation out for an end of summer celebration with any of us “girls” and our husbands that were available.  So thankful for their open home and hearts for hospitality!

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Dear and I were the last ones to arrive after a long wait at the border crossing. Thankfully we realized just a mile from home that we had left our passports at home and turned around to retrieve them. Sheesh…that would not have been a sad discovery if we were farther up the road.

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Anneliese and her H had made preparations for us and also made sure we had everything we needed while we were there.

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IMGP0962Such a beautiful peaceful setting to enjoy time together.

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Thankful hands received all that was prepared for us to enjoy starting with appetizers.

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Bev prepared the marinade for the salmon that her husband Harv caught and then prepared on his smoker grill for us. So thankful for these generous and helpful hands that are always ready to serve us.

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Judy and her dear husband Elmer just home from a trip East brought the famous and fresh Chilliwack corn for us all to enjoy. So thankful for these hands that are always open to blessing me with a place to stay when I come to B.C.

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Anneliese prepared several side dishes for us to enjoy with the salmon. Thankful for her generous hands.

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I am so thankful for friends that speak my love language of enjoying food together and their hands that don’t tire in preparing dishes for us to enjoy.

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IMGP0987We enjoyed the meal together after we sang “Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow”

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Our canopy at the dinner table was a beautiful very old Walnut Tree.

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We enjoyed several different trees during our time together…

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IMGP0968This is an interesting tree that has fallen over but is still producing fruit. Julie wrote a great post about it and if you click here you can read it.

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Who knew this swing would be a temptation to our group?

IMGP0972Anneliese and Judy got us going enjoying the tire swing that one of the large trees supported. You can see more fun on the tire swing at Lovella’s blog post.

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The fire was lit just before we sat down to enjoy dessert that Lovella’s and Julie’s hands prepared for us.

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Lovella made a delicious Coconut Cream Pie.

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Julie made her Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake from the cookbook (gluten free, of course!) Rich and Yummy!

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Just before we left to cross the line back to the U.S. Dear and I took a short turn on the tire swing, too.

On the road back to the border we were able to enjoy a double rainbow reminding us again of God’s goodness to us.

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We had 2 long border crossing wait times this time around but it was worth the time to enjoy these cherished moments with our “Canadian Cousins”.

A Surprise…

I had no idea of the scope of the Mennonite Heritage Village in Steinbach. When we pulled up in front I still didn’t realize what was waiting to explore within and beyond the museum building. For this post I’ll just share the Center and the Museum with our signing photos and in another post I’ll share the Village and the Barn Restaurant where we enjoyed some heritage food.

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The Village Centre contains the main exhibit telling the Mennonite story from the 1500s to the present.

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The whole time we were in the center signing books there was a steady stream of elementary students arriving in school buses to have a tour of the center and village.

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The Museum gift shop had a great collection of Mennonite books and they had our cover aprons from our first cookbook for sale in different fabric patterns.

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A walk through the museum took you on a time line of the migration of the Mennonite People over the years. There were many great photos and items from Russia in the museum.

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Even though I am not Mennonite these photos could have been a photo of my relatives from Russia. They look so similar to the few photos we have from our ancestors in Russia.

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Kathy’s cousins came to the center and it was fun to take this photo with Kathy holding her cousin’s Draft Horse Calendar that is sold in the Heritage gift shop.

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How cute are these little girls with their braids? We asked permission to take their photo.

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It was fun to meet Jeanine from The Baking Beauties who is actually only one baking beauty right now. She has a great Gluten Free Baking sight and you can click over to check it out. She’s in the middle in the back row.

When we were done with our signing slot we headed out the back doors of the center and I was pleasantly surprised with the sites I saw. I will share more in my next post.

We are busy now working on options for easily storing some of our larger pieces of furniture while we have all of our floors replaced. We are having it done in two stages and will be moving things in and out for the hardwood floors first and then following up with the carpeting. We are still trying to choose the color and pile we want on the carpeting. Everything you do opens up the door to more things that need to be done. Any big projects at your house?