Friday, October 31, 2008

Flashback Friday #9: My Great-Great-Grandfather

 
My Grandfather, Philip Bettens Storm, my Mother's father, was born in Escondido, California, July 9, 1892.
 
His Father, my Great-Grandfather, was Frank R. Storm.
 
His Grandfather, my Great-Great Grandfather, was William H. Storm.
 
William H. Storm was born in Jefferson County, Tennessee, February 12, 1818. He married Martha W. Thomas and together they had seven children, only three of whom survived.
 
My Great-Great Grandfather was a surveyor before moving from Tennessee to Lampasses County, Texas, where he served as a district judge. In 1869 he moved to Escondido, California.
 

 
While he lived in Texas, he naturally paid taxes on such items that would be required by law. I wish I had been more successful in scanning this page but it's old, tattered and faded. It is a single page document recording payment on December 20, 1866 to United States Internal Revenue for the following:
 
1 Carriage, valuation over $50 and not over $100: Tax $1.00
 
and
 
1 Gold Watch, kept for use, valuation not over $100: Tax $1.00
 
Total tax paid: $2.00

 
Now, had he owned a pianoforte, gold or silver plate, billiard tables or yachts, they also would have been taxable.
 
Billiard tables...now that's where the government made its money...they were taxed at $10 each!
 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Seasons

 

December 2007
 

June 2008
 

October 2008
 
For more Wordless Wednesdays go here and here.
 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Happy Birthday, Daddy

 

 
October 28, 1916 - October 17, 1995
 

Monday, October 27, 2008

Simple Abundance


 
Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach was first published in 1996. Many times I have seen the book displayed in Barnes & Noble but have resisted buying it for I don't know what reason.
 
I didn't need a self-help manual?
 
It would require from me commitment and time I didn't have?
 
It would be another start-but-never-finish project?
 
But I found a pristine hardcover copy of the book at a garage sale last week for just 25 cents. How could I not buy it now, especially in the midst of such bleak economic conditions.
 
And it seduced me from page one.
 
The author suggests that regardless of the date you start reading that you begin at the beginning, January 1st. So I did. And in doing so I am commit to taking the journey of simple abundance. This is a journey that begins with gratitude.
 
I can do that. I'm already a believer in giving thanks throughout the day for the blessings of each day. But I will take it a step further and write down five things for which I am grateful each and every day, trying to find the unique in each day, not always relying on the obvious.
 
The next steps will be more of a challenge for me: simplicity and order. Not that I have any objections to working on these aspects of my life; they just seem to be an elusive goal when the demands of life interrupt, interfere, confuse and confound me. Perhaps I am too easily distracted for there is an ebb and flow of simplicity and order in my life that frustrates me. It seems, as well, that the more I try to impose order on my life, the more rigid I become and that is not the way I want to live. I really do belive that true simplicity allows you to be flexible rather than rigid, so I will have to reconcile the two. Perhaps as I move closer to simplicity, order will follow.
 
I seek not so much to find contentment but to bid it stay in the face of uncertainty. I tend to be a worrier and I am working on replacing that worry with faith and trust, peace and, there it is: contentment.
 
So this promises to be a year long adventure. I know already of some of the challenges the coming year will bring, not the least of which are continuing health issues and the impact of the economy on our life. There will be other challenges that will ambush me, I know that too. I may be a slow learner and have to repeat some lessons. But I believe it will be worth the effort.
 
Have you read Simple Abundance? Have you found that state of grace? Where has your path led you?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Flashback Friday #8: The Powers Girls

 
I never knew my Mother's mother, Helen Powers Storm, as she died before I was born. But I did meet her sister, Grace Powers, my great aunt.
 
This is portrait of my Grandmother and her sister taken in June 1914. Grace,on the left, was born on September 19, 1897 and would have been 17 years old in a few months. Helen, on the right, was born on January 28, 1893 and would have been 21 years old in this picture.
 

 
There is no date on this second photo of my Grandmother but judging by the off-the-shoulder dress, I'm guessing she was a little older than in the first photo.
 

 
I was in high school the last time I saw my Great Aunt Grace. I wish now that I had asked her to tell me more about her life growing up in the early 20th century. If you have some "older" relatives, now is the time to ask them about their lives. There is so much to learn from them but you must take the step now to record their memories for future generations. Don't wait!
 

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkin Carrot Bran Muffins

 
My DH loves muffins but the ones you buy over the counter or from the store are really full of fat...not good for anybody. So I make muffins at home: banana bran, apple bran, apple carrot, and today, I made pumpkin carrot bran muffins. They are super healthy with all the veggie ingredients and low in fat and sugar. Give them a try if you have some extra pumpkins around that you need to use or just buy some canned pumpkin the next time you go shopping.
 

 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray or paper line muffin cups. This recipe makes 12 regular or 6 large muffins.
 
In one bowl combine:
2 c bran flakes cereal
1 c cooked or canned pumpkin
2/3 c milk
2 eggs
3 T canola oil
1 medium carrot, washed and grated
 
Let stand approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until bran flakes have softened and and ingredients are well mixed.
 
In a separate bowl combine:
1 c whole wheat flour
1/3 c sugar (I actually use a little less)
2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t cinnamon
pinch salt
 
Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture, stirring just until moistened. Over stirring will result in tough muffins. Divide evenly among the prepared muffin cups.
 
Bake 25 minutes. Enjoy!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Then & Now: Baby Luc

 
Grandbaby Luc was born on April 2, 2008
 

 
He's in town for a nice long visit and has a playdate with us every Wednesday. Look how he's grown!
 

 

 

Friday, October 17, 2008

Flashback Friday: C'est Moi

 

 
Yep, finally a photo of me: the college years, that would be about a lifetime ago :)
 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Thursday Thirteen: Things I Can Live Without

 
Not intended to be a culling of possessions,though that would make another good Thursday Thirteen, these are things that I would never miss if they disappeared from my world.
 
Election campaign commercials - does anybody really listen to these?
 
Mosquitos
 
Recorded telemarketing messages
 
Live telemarketers
 
Spiders
 
Road litter
 
Weeds...why do they thrive uninvited while we must cultivate vegetables and flowers?
 
Junk mail
 
Hockey...sorry, still too much of a blood sport for me
 
Snow...OK, it's pretty at first but then it's just cold and a pain to deal with
 
Rude people
 
ED commercials...really, do we need this all over tv?
 
Plastic packaging complete with 25 twist ties that requires surgical tools to open
 
Any objections?
 

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Men in Skirts

 

 

 
My son, the Flockmaster, who also occasionally competes in the Highland Games. I think I need to get him some of those cute socks :)
 

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Best Cookies Ever

 

 
Even my son the Flock Master liked these cookies and he doesn't eat sweets.
 
I made them for my California girlfriends when they came to visit. We ate them every day.
 
I made a batch yesterday to take to our dinner hosts last night.
 
And I will be making more for the holidays.
 
I can't take the credit...that goes to the Barefoot Contessa.
 
This is her recipe for Coconut Macaroons
 
14 oz sweetened shredded coconut
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 t pure vanilla extract
2 extra large (I used 3 large) egg whites at room temperature
1/4 t kosher salt
 
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
 
Combine the coconut, condensed milk and vanilla in a large bowl. Whip the egg whites and salt on high speed with a whisk attachment until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture.
 
Drop the batter onto parchment lined sheet pans using a 1.75" diameter ice cream scoop or a tablespoon. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown. Cool on the pan before attempting to remove. Yield: about 22 cookies.

 
I allow the macaroons to cool completely, then melt some dark chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water and spread the bottom of each cookie with a thin layer of the chocolate. Soooo good!
 
I keep the cookies refrigerated - or frozen if you're not going to eat them that day. They are amazingly good right out of the freezer!
 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Flashback Friday #6 Still Looking for Arab Swords

 
My grandfather has been promising his sons (my father, Lee, and his brother, Ernest) some Arab swords from his travels.
 
These postcards are dated January 16th, no year, but I'm making the assumption that they followed the last postcard I posted dated December, 1932 where he lamented that he hadn't been able to find any swords yet. It would be awful to think that it was the other way around, that an entire year had passed and he still hadn't found those swords! But I just don't know.....
 
The postcards were written from Bir Kassab, Syria.
 

 

 
Dear Ernest
 
How would you like to live in a Bedouin camp. I have been in one for two weeks. 450 tents and about 7000 camels. You are lucky you are not a Bedouin boy for they lead a hard life. When I get to Damascus I'm going to get you an Arab sword too.
 
Dad

 

 

 
Dear Lee,
 
We are camping out in the desert with the Bedouins. Have been here for two weeks and although the map shows a lake here, it's dry. It has been awfully cold, freezing every night. From here we go to Damascus where I've found I can get you an Arab sword. It's been a great trip.
 
Dad

I don't know if the boys ever did get those swords. I certainly don't recall ever seeing one, or a picture of one or even hearing about one. I only have these postcards and their promises.
 

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Greening Halloween

 

 
Before you know it, Halloween will be upon us, complete with the rush to find or make the perfect costume, fill up the candy bowl for those trick-or-treaters and then trek through the neighborhood collecting a years worth of candy to be consumed within the next 48 hours.
 
********insert sound of screeching tires here***********
 
But it doesn't have to be this way! Okay, the part about the costumes still stands. BUT we don't have to succumb to the candy madness. There are options that are not only acceptable to us as parents but will also be welcomed and embraced by your children.
 
The acknowledged expert on returning sanity to Halloween is Corey Cowell-Lipson, founder of Green Halloween. Her website is a wealth of how-to-do-Halloween-right information which includes "safe" candy for those who cannot imagine Halloween without it to lists of alternative treats for those who look forward to the day when Halloween is not synonymous with sugar.
 
So while you still have time to sanely approach this holiday, check out Green Halloween and try to make a few changes this year to green your holiday celebration.
 
Don't forget to check out her blog for even more tips like hosting a costume swap or even a Halloween decor swap. See, there's more than just fun for kids here!
 

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Pig Roast

 

 
The calm before the pig roast storm...yes, that's the barbecue in the background.
 
Read the story behind the pig roast here.
 

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

And Baby Makes 8

 
I have three sons.
 
My first four grandchildren were girls! YEAH!
 
Finally, pink and ribbons and frills...I did it all!
 
My sons blamed me. They said I had cursed them.
 
But the next three grandchildren were boys.
 
See? No curse!
 
And grandbaby #8 is due in February.
 
This is last week's ultrasound.
 

 
Can you tell if I'm having a granddaughter?
 
Or a grandson?
 
Hint: you can't tell by the foot!
 
UPDATE: IT'S A BOY :)
 

Monday, October 6, 2008

Renovations and Potty Training

 
This post is dedicated to Michelle at Scribbit who is coping with a major home renovation. She shared her construction woes last Thursday.
 
Long, long ago, the fall my first boys were 4 years old and 4 months old, we undertook a major house renovation/addition that included the demolition of one end of the existing farmhouse - that would be the part with the kitchen, our bedroom and the only bathroom.
 
You can immediately see the problem.
 
We set up our kitchen appliances and a sink at one end of the dining room. I slept on the living room couch; the baby's crib was set up in the corner and a makeshift closet sat in front of the fireplace. My husband shared twin beds with our 4 year old in one upstairs bedroom and my FIL stayed undisturbed in his bedroom across the hall.
 
We ran plumbing to the upstairs hall for a bathtub. But no toilet...this was supposed to be a 4 month project and my husband decided we could manage with a port-a-potty.
 
Right. He had an office to go to. An office with a real bathroom.
 
Fall in Canada turns cold. Very cold. Finally my husband conceded that perhaps we should have an indoor toilet so one was installed next to the bathtub in the upstairs hall. All was discreetly hidden behind an old fashioned indoor drying rack draped with my old college bedspread - think Pier 1 indian print cotton. No door. Not even a floor to ceiling partition. But I was not complaining. No more trips outside!
 
The original plan was to have this renovation completed by year end. HA! Fifteen months later we moved into a still not completed addition. But I needed a bed. and a kitchen. and a real bathroom. I could deal with contractors underfoot for a few more months.
 
All this is background information to prepare you for what happened next.
 
My 4 year old was a very, very sound sleeper. He had difficulty waking in the night to go to the bathroom (hey, we didn't even have one for months!) and there were often wet sheets come morning.
 
Did I mention I had no kitchen? No washer? No dryer?
 
You'll recall that my son shared a bedroom with his father. Now his father was not a patient man. He did not tolerate "accidents" but, bless his soul, he got our son up every night and walked him out of the bedroom, turning left in the hall and down to the little bathroom. Please appreciate that our son remained "asleep" through all of this, never even opening his eyes. But the weeks and months of repetition taught him to get up during the night and get himself to the bathroom.
 
Fastforward 15 months and we are living in the new addition. Imagine, if you will, a floorplan with a central hall that is open two stories. It's late at night and I am reading in a room downstairs, adjacent to the hall. I become aware of the sound of water. In the hall? Was something leaking? My washer? My dishwasher?
 
I step out into the hall to investigate. I look up and there is my sweet 5 year old standing at the upstairs railing, eyes closed, a Niagara Falls of pee streaming onto the hall floor below. Of course, he thought he was at the toilet he was trained to find in the night! But this wasn't the other house and there was no toilet! He finished his business, turned around and went back to bed.
 
At least his nocturnal journey didn't take him to a corner where he might pee on the wall and new carpet.
 
And, in case you're wondering, this was an isolated incident. He quickly learned where to find the new bathroom!
 

Friday, October 3, 2008

Flashback Friday #5: Postcards

My grandfather and his brother traveled extensively during the first World War and into the following decades, filming newsreels, what we know today as documentary films and eventually motion pictures.
 
As my grandfather traveled, he wrote postcards to his sons back in the US. The year, I think, is 1931 or 32 (the ink is smudged). This card was sent from Delhi, India.
 

 

 
It reads:
 
Dear Boys
 
Have been here a week and will soon be leaving for a month on the northern frontier in Khyber Pass and at Peshewar.
 
Love, Dad

 
The second card (December 17, 1932) from Alexandria, Egypt seems to be following up on a promise to find the boys some swords.
 
Having a good trip. Haven't found any swords yet but still have hope.
 
Love, Dad

 

 

 
I try to imagine the man, husband and father that my grandfather was. All I have are these postcards and a few photographs. My father never spoke about his father and what I heard from my mother does not conform to the image conjured up by these few written communications. My mother told me that my grandfather had deserted his family when my father and his brother were quite young. Now whether he deserted them in the sense of "abandonment" or in the sense that he was away on another adventure in foreign lands, that I don't know and I have no one to ask.
 
So along with these quite romantic postcards of exotic places I have also uncovered many more questions about my father's family history that I will never be able to answer. Yet I keep sorting through papers and photos, hoping that some bit of information will surface and I will know them all a little better.
 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lotsa Lentils

 
The temperature is hovering around 60 degrees. It's a dreary, damp Fall day. It's time for some homemade soup!
 

I had a bag of "Lots of Lentil" dried soup mix by Bean Cuisine in my pantry... well, I had half a bag but that's more than enough for the two of us. In 1T evoo I sauteed:
 
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large carrots, quartered and chopped
 
and added:
 
4 c water
1 14.5oz can chicken broth
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1 smoked ham hock (or 8 oz smoked sausage)
1/2 bag of lentils (note: these lentils included seasonings)
fresh ground black pepper
 
I brought the soup to a boil then lowered the heat and simmered for 3 hours, adding 1/4 c chopped fresh parsley at the very end.
 
Homemade soup. Mmmm mmm mmm....one of the best things about Fall.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wordless Wednesday Flowergirls

 

Waiting is so hard!
 

Oh good! Grammie's here!
 

These are our professional smiles!