Monday, July 31, 2006

Steve and Coco
Steve and Coco came to visit us this weekend. Steve has been working hard while Marta and Gabriel are in Spain, so we were happy to see him on Saturday afternoon and Sunday. Steve always spends a lot of time especially with his dad; they did a little shopping together, washed and polished Steve's car, took Coco for a walk, and spent a lot of time talking. Sunday night Tony barbequed hamburgers and Sunday he planned to cook pork and veggies on the grill. Just then the sky opened up and it began to pour. Steve helped by holding the umbrella. The barbeque was delicious!

Here's a picture of Steve and Coco. I'm sure Coco misses Marta and Gabriel but she's very sweet and very well behaved. She has matured into a really nice dog. I remember her puppy days when she was much more active and busy. It was hard for me to hold on to her sometimes because she's really strong. Now she obediantly walks along when we go outside and can be trusted to stay in our yard and not run away.

Here are some of my current projects:
1. Baby quilt for Tim and Bernie
2. Toe up knitted socks
3. T shirt quilt for Dee and Jazmine
4. Knitted stole as part of a Yahoo group: Mystery Stole 2
5. Lots of other projects are in my mind ready to go when some of the above are finished.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Today is Kelly's birthday. Kelly is an important new member of the family. We are so glad that she joined our family when she married Tom in March. Many more happy birthdays, Kelly!

We've been a little busy. Last week, Father McElduff, pictured here in our living room with Tony, visited. He is an old friend and the priest who married us 41 years ago. He is in very fine shape for a young man of 85 years, keeping busy helping people as he always had in his Pennsylvania town. He and Tony went to northern Michigan for a couple of days to see Machinac Island and look at the lakes.

While the men were up north, I decided to visit my granddaughter Scarlett! My favorite thing in the world is spending time with my grandchildren. On the way to Scarlett's house, I enjoyed lunch with Steve. Marta and Gabriel are in Spain visiting family so Steve is making the time go quickly by working hard. It's always nice to see him. There's nothing I enjoy more than talking to my children and finding out their thinking on a variety of topics. I especially like to surprise them by knowing things that people my age don't usually know, like computer stuff.

Then I went on to Scarlett's house and enjoyed every minute with her. Is there anything better than rocking a sleepy baby until she falls asleep? She is 15 months old now and enjoys so many things. I took her to McDonald's for the first time in her life, not to eat, but to visit the play area. Another day we went to the mall which has a large play area for small children. Scarlett is very careful, holds on to my leg for awhile before deciding to take off and play a little, but carefully and thoughtfully.
I seem to be making a lot of cabbage rolls lately! Scarlett's parents, Sasha and Cathy, pictured here, requested cabbage rolls. Cathy doesn't eat meat so I made this version with ground turkey. I made enough so there were leftovers for the next day.
Sunday afternoon I came back home, stopping for a little while to have a little lunch with Steve. It is good to go away and it's also good to come home again.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Tom's Cabbage Rolls

When Tom comes home, I always ask him what he'd like to eat and he requests cabbage rolls. My mother made this dish years ago and it has become a family favorite. A few years ago we had a visitor from Japan and I happened to make this dish; I was very surprised to learn there is a similar dish in Japan. I think the American version would originate in Poland and my friend Dee would call them "Golomki's".
Here's how I do it:

10 cabbage leaves
3 cups cooked rice
1 chopped onion
1 egg slightly beaten
1.5 pounds ground chuck (could be ground chicken or turkey)
Seasoning: garlic powder and salt
1 15 ounce can tomato sauce

Preparation: Cut out the core from a fresh head of cabbage. Put it under the faucet, run water into it while carefully removing 10 leaves, trying not to break them. Then boil the leaves in a pot with a cup of water for a couple of minutes to make them soft and pliable.
Next mix the chopped onion, egg, meat, half of the rice, and seasonings. Prepare the cabbage rolls by opening a cabbage leaf, putting a scoop of meat mix in center, folding the sides in and rolling up.
Cooking: put a little olive oil in a large frying pan, arrange cabbage rolls in pan, cover, cook on medium high heat for 10 minutes. Then turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes, checking that they don't burn.
Five minutes before serving pour the tomato sauce over the cabbage rolls in the pan, cover and warm at medium heat until thoroughly hot.
Serve the cabbage rolls with a scoop of rice and tomato sauce, garlic bread, and salad. Enjoy!

Friday, July 14, 2006

We are surrounded by wildlife. Early on a recent morning I came downstairs to have coffee, looked out my back window, and there were three deer comfortably relaxing. I grabbed my camera and they began to run. Deer are beautiful animals and they cause lots of problems. There's approximately one deer to every 2.5 people in our county. They are destroying gardens, farm crops, and causing terrible accidents. Recently a local guy on a motorcycle crashed into a deer and died. Balancing man and nature is not so easy.

Yesterday we had more international visitors, very delightful ladies and children. A young mother and her four year old son are visiting here from Hong Kong. It is very interesting to talk a little about the differences in life style between a small midwestern town like ours and a big crowded place like Hong Kong.

This morning I headed out early to the airport to pick up Tom, who is visiting for the weekend. In the picture he's eating zuchinni bread and drinking coffee before going to the golf course. Tom's wife Kelly is spending the weekend in Florida with old friends and Tom will play golf with his high school friends. It gives his dad and me a chance to spoil him! (Sorry, Kelly!) While home, we have his favorite foods: tonight, cabbage rolls, tomorrow barbequed spare ribs. It's fun to have him home!

Monday, July 10, 2006


I was invited to a baby shower in Bloomfield Hills for Trisha who is having a baby girl in August. My Yahoo map worked perfectly and I drove straight there without any problem. I was happy to spend some time with Carole and Sherry and catching up with what they're doing. My gifts to Trisha were the baby quilt, quilted ball, basket, and ducks that I've talked about here before.
Then on the way back to Jackson I stopped at the new IKEA in Canton. It's at a very convenient location, easy driving and parking, and a beautiful store. We always like to go to IKEA in Chicago. (Not that I need anything IKEA sells! My house is full. I just love window shopping!) Actually I bought packages of IKEA cookies with the chocolate centers. I'm embarrassed to say how many!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

My students sometimes have family or friends visiting from Japan. I like to invite them to my house for what I call an "American Home Tour". A few years ago Tony and I had a "Chinese Home Tour"during a trip to Beijing. With our tour group we were invited to walk all around the home, then sat down and were invited to ask questions about Chinese life. I do exactly the same thing in my American Home Tour. It's very interesting to see how people live in all parts of the world. Always when people come together, friendship results.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Baby Things

I love making baby things. If I hear about a new baby coming, I usually make a sweater or a quilt. With a baby you don't have to worry about the size because they always grow into it. You don't have to worry about colors because the baby doesn't have much say.
We have a new baby coming to our family in August, Keith and Carole's first granddaughter, Chris and Trisha's first child. Carole told me the baby's room is green and white so I added pink and started a quilt.

I love to use scraps of fabric to make something useful, so I decided to make a fabric "bowl" and a soft ball from the quilt scraps. The bowl is based on a bread bowl I saw at Marta's house. It is a square with rounded corners, thick pellon in the middle to make it firm, and 8 fabric ties at the corners to tie it into the bowl shape.

The fabric ball is a very useful baby toy. Since it is soft, it's easy for a baby to hold and catch. Also it's washable; you can just put it in the machine as needed. One time I saw Gabriel carrying his in his mouth, maybe copying Coco.
I learned to make this ball from one of my students. Twelve pentagons are sewn together and then stuffed. My student had made hers by hand, but mine are done on the machine. I have to do things quickly.

The baby's shower is coming soon and I'm ready!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Potholders and Dishcloths
Like so many knitters, I am fascinated with the new book, Mason Dixon Knitting. It contains a wonderful pattern for making dishcloths. They are quick and satisfying to knit; mindless, so I can easily ride in the car or watch TV while knitting . I adapted the pattern for potholders by making a slightly smaller version times two, putting them back to back, and single crocheting around the edge. The reason that it's so much fun is seeing how the colors go together plus it takes very little time. I sent a few home with Marta on Sunday and I'm obsessively making more now. If you see me coming, I might try to foist my dishcloths on you. I may be standing on streetcorners handing them out. Help!

Last night we ate our first zucchinis and cucumber from the garden. The rain continues. It rained all night plus part of yesterday and it may rain again today!

Monday, July 03, 2006

We had a lovely weekend. Saturday was Marta's birthday so it was a day of festivities. It was a beautiful sunny day. At breakfast time the waffle chef was doing his magic.
This was followed by a lot of shopping. In the evening we celebrated with Chinese food at our favorite restaurant followed by fresh strawberry shortcake. These two
pictures were taken at the end of the day when we were having dessert.

Gabriel has really begun to talk! He now has so many words we wouldn't be able to count them. Very often he tries to repeat the words he hears. In the morning we hunted bugs. We had watched part of the movie "A Bug's Life", then decided to hunt bugs outside. We got down really close to the ground to look for bugs. Gabriel would shout "bug" and "ant" when he saw them. Once he found a really big ant and surprised me by quickly smashing it! So funny!
We were shopping Saturday afternoon and Gabriel was in the cart with me while Steve and Marta shopped. We went to the fruits and vegetables to study. I said the name very clearly a couple of times and he tried to repeat. It feels
exactly the same as when I'm teaching my students vocabulary.

It is so wonderful to see the world through the eyes of a child.

The waffle chef

The waffle eater

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Come and check out my garden. Tomato plants are tied to stakes and caged, gardening plastic surrounding them. There are small green tomatoes getting bigger every day. We've had lots of rain so they're growing quite well. The top photo shows the zucchini which have had a little trouble with all the rain which has caused the ends of some of the zucchini to rot. The middle picture shows Japanese eggplant and some of the green beans. The eggplants have some insect problems so many of the leaves have holes. There are a few baby eggplants growing now and many blossoms. The bottom picture shows the two rows of green beans that are coming along nicely. Every morning I spend a few minutes weeding and checking everything. Not shown are the green peppers, cucumbers, bok choy, and dill. I think this is the best garden we've had!