Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Patch, Swan Gourds and Creepy Eyes...

A few weeks ago my Mom called and told me that she would like to plan a family outing to the pumpkin patch. I agreed it would be fun. When my family was younger every year we would take a Saturday in early October and travel to a tree farm to tag our Christmas trees. We would then go to Ebbert's pumpkin patch. We topped the day off with a late lunch of soup and sandwiches. This day was always filled with love and memories.
A few years ago I did a scrapbook for my Dad that included pictures of these trips. Ebbert's has a wooden pumpkin with a yardstick to measure yearly growth. These pictures were of the kids gathered around the pumpkin every year. It was a fun way of recording new births and yearly growth.

This past Saturday was the big day for our outing. It was a perfect autumn day. The countryside was scarlet and golden and there was a nip in the air. Perfect for a visit to Ebbert's Pumpkin Patch! My grandaughter was the "star" and I suspect the reason for the trip! We took alot of pictures including one of the "kids" gathered around the wooden pumpkin. Pumpkins and cider were bought and we returned to my parent's home for a scrumptious lunch!

When I drove into the parking lot at Ebbert's it appeared that there was a wagon of speckled green geese sitting in front of the market. I thought it was odd that they would have a wagon full of the pesky birds that cause mothers to exchange cleaning tips for baseball and football uniforms to remove geese poop. When I got out of the car I realized that the birds were awfully still for geese. I was even more surprised to see that it was a wagon full of gourds. These gourds are named "speckle swan" gourds. I guess it's a sign of getting old when you mistake gourds for geese. Personally I think they should be named "speckled geese" gourds but I guess swan is more romantic!
You can visit Ebbert's online at

Some fun facts:
Pumpkins, squashes and gourds are the fruits of vine plants belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, which also includes cucumber, watermelon, muskmelon and squash. Gourds are said to have originated in Central America around 5,000 B.C. and have long sustained civilization as a food source. When hollowed and dried gourds been used as ladles worldwide.
Gourds and pumpkins are packed with beneficial nutrients and vitamins.The book SuperFoods Rx. Fourteen Foods That Will Change Your Life, written by Steven Pratt, M.D., lists pumpkin as one of the 14 SuperFoods. Pumpkin made the list because of its high levels of alpha- and beta-carotene, which when converted to Vitamin A in the body, function as important antioxidants. These antioxidants have been shown to decrease inflammation, help protect against cancer, heart disease and even the effects of aging. I wonder if they would help my eyesight?

Swan gourds seem to be used more for decorative purposes than anything. This seemed to be a fun idea. I found it at .

If you are looking for a creepy, cool Halloween idea for your table setting, try making eyeballs with Swan gourds.
Keep an eye out for Swan gourds at your local farmers' market or the grocery store. I recommend picking gourds with the darkest green color you can find, and the smoother the better.
*Use a sheet of newsprint to cover your table.
*Craft acrylic gloss paints, black, blue, white/silver, and dark red
*small paint brushes
*small fan to dry quickly the paint
Start with a base coat of white for the eyeball area and dark red for the neck of the Swan gourd. Allow each coat to dry thoroughly before painting the next layer.
Paint the iris and pupil of the eye next.
Finally, add fine lines with the dark red paint for the blood vessels in the eye. The more vessels the better it looks. Practice making fine lines on the newsprint with your brush, before starting on the gourd. It helps
It was a wonderful Saturday!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pets, Dogs and kids...

I appreciate the emails and messages! I needed the extra love this week! I'm fine. It has just been one of those weeks.
I'm not Catholic but I love this tradition. The ceremony of blessing animals honors St. Francis. He believed that living a life of peace included living in harmony with all God’s creatures. He believed that our pets were a blessing from God and that we needed to give thanks for them. In fact, his main theological inspiration came from animals. He viewed them as living examples of spiritual integrity, blessing them and striving to understand and connect with them.  St. Francis said, “If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men.”

I found this legend about St. Francis. A wolf was terrorizing the town of Gubbio. It was devouring both animals and people. The entire town was afraid to stray beyond the town walls. Hunting parties were formed. The town became determined to kill the wolf before the wolf killed them. St.  Francis convinced the people that the wolf’s hunger was the cause of his behavior. He met with the wolf, blessed it and said, “Brother Wolf, you have done great harm to this town, not only destroying other creatures without mercy, but you even have the brazenness to kill and devour people, made in the image of God. You deserve severe punishment, but I want to make peace between you and the town, so that they will not be harmed by you anymore. Nor will they want to harm you. After they have forgiven you, neither men nor dogs will pursue you anymore.” The wolf agreed. He raised his paw as a sign. St. Francis continued, “I promise that the town will feed you every day. I know that what you did, you did out of hunger.” The town promised to do what the saint had bargained and adopted the wolf and fed him until the day he died.

The bond between human being and pet is a strong one. Pets provide companionship and affection. They can be helpers and workmates. They have even been known to be life-savers. It is no wonder that people value the opportunity to take their animals to church for a special blessing.
These ceremonies are a fabulous way to celebrate St. Francis's compassionate appreciation for all creatures. An appreciation that we should all share and an appreciation stemming from the bond of being God’s creations.
I wasn't able to find any listings for Churches doing this in the Wheeling Area. Pastor Michael Palmer is planning a time at Greggsville United Methodist Church, to check the date and times phone 304-232-0861.

Instead of a recipe I thought I'd do the top 10 reasons why a dog is better that a child. This is just for fun!

1. Dogs don’t ask you for money
2. Dogs love nap time 3. Dogs don’t need their own cell phone
4. Dogs don't care what's for dinner just that there is dinner.
5. Dogs can be housetrained in weeks.
6. Dogs don’t have to have the latest fashions
7. Dogs never grow out of being hugged and kissed in front of their friends
8. Dogs are not embarrassed by what you wear in public.
9. Dogs don’t constantly ask you “Why”
10. Dogs can be ready to leave the house in 5 seconds flat.


Friday, September 28, 2012

Chet Huntley, The Jaycees, Businesses in 1963 in Wheeling...Crow and Mushroom Stew

I'm sorting through papers and books. It probably sounds like a productive pastime. Unfortunately, I have a horrible habit. I love researching items. I love reading every bit of information I can gleen about them. Today I found an autographed program from the Jaycees Citizen Of The Year Award Banquet held on February 20, 1963. Mr. D. Miton Gutman is pictured and listed as the 1961 Citizen Of The Year. I can't find any information on who actual winner in 1962. But it does list each individual of the month and the person's achievement.
This particular program is autographed by Chet Huntley. He was the speaker for The Citizen Of The Year banquet. Imagine the cost to have a nationally known NBC news commentator come speak at a banquet. It's hard to imagine any group/club in the Wheeling Area being able to do this today in the year 2012. This program tells alot about the economy in the city of Wheeling in 1963. There are 85 businesses listed as sponsers. There's only 9 of the listed burinesses still in the Wheeling area. The census lists Wheeling's population as being 53,400 people in 1960 compared to 28,486 in 2010. It's sad to see our hometown so diminished.

Anybody want to take a guess at the 9 businesses?

Chet Huntley was a native of Bozeman, Montana and worked for Movietone News and then CBS radio in Los Angeles, as well as NBC TV in Los Angeles. His big break came when he moderated NBC coverage of the 1956 political conventions.He was paired with UPI reporter David Brinkley.Their on the air chemistry was apparent from the start, with Huntley's straightforward approach countered by Brinkley's sarcastic wit. This partnership led to the Huntley-Brinkley report. The closing catch phrase of "Good night, Chet" , "Good night, David and good night for NBC News" made them as famous as their reporting. I wonder if any stars will emerge from the upcoming elections?

Huntley was known for keeping his personal views separate from the subject he was reporting. This isn't always the case for all reporters. At times a reporter will have to "eat crow". Eating crow is a U.S. colloquial idiom meaning having been proved wrong after taking a strong position. Eating crow is foul-tasting in the same way that being proved wrong might be emotionally hard to swallow. Below is a WW II recipe for eating crow. I found this on Bert Christensen's Website This site has some very peculiar recipes!

Crow and Mushroom Stew


3 crows
1 Tbsp lard/shortening
1 pint stock or gravy
2 Tbsp cream
1/2 cup mushrooms
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper
Clean and cut crows into small portions and let them cook a short time in the lard/shortening in a saucepan, being careful not to brown them.
Next, add to the contents of the pan, the stock or gravy, and salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
Simmer 1 hour, or until tender, add mushrooms, simmer 10 minutes more and then stir in cream.
Arrange the mushrooms around the crows on a hot platter.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

It's a chilly, rainy autumn day...Comfort Food time! Friends, homemade chili and cornbread!

I have possibly my last batch of garden tomatoes. I love when you can cook down the last batch of garden tomatoes to make the first batch of chili for the cooler weather. I know you can preserve tomatoes; can them or freeze them and have garden tomatoes throughout the winter.There's just something tastier about straight from the garden into the sauce. The tomatoes seem brighter, meatier and more tantalizing to the taste buds.when you cook them down and use them right away for sauces, soup or chili.

Chili was never one of my favorite foods but we ate it pretty regularly throughout the winter when I was growing up. .I use to love to come home to the smell of chili and cornbread mingled together. It warmed your nose and prepared your tastebuds. Favorite or not I'd be hungry for chili by dinnertime.

My Mom always encouraged my friends to visit our home. There's was always plenty of food for dinner. One evening my friend Karen was visiting. The table was set and Karen sat down to eat with us.The menu was chili and cornbread. Karen ate all the chili. She proclaimed with gusto that it was the best she had ever eaten. My Mom thanked her. My Dad smiled at Karen across the table and said, "But Karen, you don't like chili.". She smiled back and said, "But if I did this would be the best." My Dad still has his quirky sense of humor and Karen still would eat food she dislikes to save the cook's feelings. And my Mom, she made sure we never again had chili when Karen was visiting!

Chili has some fun history.

Chili in the 19th Century
Some Spanish priests were said to be wary of the passion inspired by chile peppers, assuming they were aphrodisiacs. A few preached sermons against indulgence in a food which they said was almost as "hot as hell's brimstone" and "Soup of the Devil." The priest's warning probably contributed to the dish's popularity.

Chili in the 20th Century

Around the turn of the century, chili joints appeared in Texas. By the 1920s, they were familiar all over the West, and by the depression years, there was hardly a town that didn't have a chili parlor. The chili joints were usually no more than a shed or a room with a counter and some stools. Usually a blanket was hung up to separate the kitchen. By the depression years, the chili joints meant the difference between starvation and staying alive. Chili was cheap and crackers were free. At the time, chili was said to have saved more people from starvation than the Red Cross. The Dictionary of American Regional English describes chili joints as: "A small cheap restaurant, particularly one that served poor quality food."

I found these facts on They have plenty more facts and recipes on their site.

Simple Chili Recipe


2 teaspoons oil

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup chopped onion

1 large can tomatoes, (28 ounces)

1 can (15 ounces) small red beans, drain liquid

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper


In large saucepan brown ground beef with onions in hot oil. Drain off excess fat. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a simmer. Cover and simmer.

This is a basic recipe. Corn, garlic, celery and peppers can be added. Its fun to top chili off with diced tomatoes, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Miss Em Turned 18!

To My Niece

You are a joy to my eyes and delight to my heart! You are a precious gift to our family and a wonderful addition to our lives. Your 18th birthday is significant. It’s not like you woke up yesterday and your world was different. Your transition into adulthood has been gradual. Since the day I first saw you I have been watching you grow, mature, learn and turn into the person you are today. You have changed so much, but you are still you. You still get the same quizzical look on your face today when your thinking as you did when you were 3. I'm glad you no longer pre-moisten cookies for me but I do love the way you still try to make life easier others!

We all have different ways of living our lives. Different people find success and happiness in different ways. Some lessons in life we learn the easy way. Either we listen when someone tells us, or we figure it out for ourselves and learn it quickly. Other lessons are learned the hard way, by trial and error before we eventually figure it out. Some things we never learn at all.

Ultimately, you are responsible for your own life. What a scary concept, isn’t it? Your happiness, your fortune, and your emotional well-being all essentially belong to you to control.

Other people will influence your life in many ways. Some will be a blessing. These are the people that you need to keep in your life and enjoy what they add to your life. You have the gift of being a positive force in others lives just by being the person you have grown into being.You show your appreciation for people with your smile, grace and selfless attitude. Some people will take from your life and happiness. Most of the time, these people can't become positive force, no matter how much effort, stress, or love you pour into them. Learning to recognize the people who are negative forces in your life and removing them is important.

The most important relationships you have in your life are going to be with your family and friends that love you like family. These are the people that have help us most in shaping our lives. Family teaches us the value of love, care, truthfulness and provides us with tools and suggestions which are essential to get success in life. Family is a place where you can be yourself. It is a place where you’re admitted for what you are. There are no terms and conditions. This is where you’re completely tension free and everyone is there to help you. Family supports you when you are surrounded by troubles. It helps you endure through tough times. Family brings joy and pleasure into life. I'm so proud to have you as my family! You have always been a source of great joy and pride! Love you Miss Em! ~ Aunt Sheri

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