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Wednesday, April 28, 2010


If you've been watching Gerald's blog you have seen his countdown to graduation is now at 17 days. Today he picks up his cap and gown and the tickets for the 14 people he is allowed to invite to commencement on May 15. He has worked long and hard to reach this goal (and racked up a huge debt) but the end is in sight. We are all excited and happy for him.
In addition to earning a Bachelors Degree in Nursing (BSN) he will have the distinction of being the only one of our offspring to have finished college. Most of them would have the ability to get a degree but life took them in other directions and all of them are doing well in their chosen fields. However, a career in nursing requires an education.
Gerald has already been hired for an RN position at the Lehigh Valley Hospital with a starting date of June 22. All he needs to do yet is his last eight hours of precepting (hands-on training), take a couple final tests, and collect that important piece of paper. Then he can shift into the next stage of life and start putting his skills to work. He has made a good career choice which I know is right for him.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


Ever wonder why two envelopes are used to mail a formal invitation? Here's the answer.
Hand delivery was once considered the only correct formal way of delivering a message. Footman were employed for the task. When footmen were in short supply, they had to resort to the public post. The real message was addressed as before with only the name of the recipient on the inner envelope and the mailing address on the outer envelope. And that is why two envelopes are used for formal invitations to this very day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Common Sense

As I was looking through the newspaper this morning I noticed some headlines and articles that made me want to say "Duh!"
*Research indicates computer games won't boost your IQ
*Pay off debt before retirement. You also might want to retire your mortgage.
*Cell phones indispensable to most teens
I wondered if nobody has any common sense anymore that these things are considered worthy of the ink to print them in the paper. Feeling quite smug, I put the paper aside and got to work. My nose was jerked down where it belongs before noon.
First, I defrosted and reorganized the deep freeze. We're getting a quarter of beef next week from a local farmer and I wanted to get the job done before the freezer fills up. As I was putting things back in the freezer and writing down the inventory I came upon a pint of apple jelly dated 1998. Horrors! I've been taking that thing out and putting it back in for twelve years? I knew why. That batch of jelly didn't get right. My frugal German genes rebelled at throwing out food, so I stuck it in the freezer. Somewhere along the line the other two boxes either got used or pitched but this one was still stashed away. If you want to know what 12-year-old frozen jelly looks like, try it yourself. I threw it out.
Common sense: Food does not improve by freezing OR aging in the freezer.
The next job on my list was to edge and weed the circles around the two trees in the front yard. That totally finishes getting the flower beds in shape for spring and it's a big relief to have it done. Anyway, a few years ago the bluebells in my spring bulbs flower bed were too thick. I pulled a lot of them out but it seemed a shame to throw them away. I planted some of the bulbs around the trees. But now they have taken over there as well. So today I yanked a lot of them out and threw them on the bank along the road. If they want to grow there without being snuggled into the earth that's their privilege. Last week I yanked out some Ivy and Wandering Jew that were growing all over everything as if they owned the place.
Common sense: To get rid of a plant that is known to overstay its welcome, don't transplant it, throw it out.
Duh! I guess I don't have as much common sense as I thought I do.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Frugal Living

I noticed an article in this morning's paper about frugality which naturally snagged my attention. After years of making every penny count while raising a family, frugality has become an ingrained habit and a way of life. I'm always looking for ways to save money and make do with what I have on hand. So I read through the article to find new ways to pinch pennies.
1. Dumpster diving---check
Leroy takes care of that department without assistance from me. He's brought home some very useful things--and some otherwise. Once he brought home a big box full of women's jeans in various colors that someone had thrown in the dumpster at work. Of course I don't wear jeans but I gave them to a lady who has a loom and they came back as very colorful rugs. I have one inside my front door and gave the rest of them as gifts.
2. Regifting---check
I have a box where I keep gift items in case I need something in a hurry. It has come in handy more than once. And yes, some of the items in my gift box are things that were given to me that I didn't need. For some reason people seem to like to give me hand lotion. I don't need it very often and one bottle will last for years. I had about five brand new bottles on the bathroom shelf. They got moved to the gift box and went from there to new homes. If the people I gave them to don't need them they can regift again.
3. No television---check
Never had one in the house.
4. Not buying trash bags---check
I've always done what they said---saved grocery bags and used them for trash can liners.
5. Cutting open containers--not quite
I haven't gone as far as slitting a toothpaste tube to get the last brushful out but by the time I am done flattening it I'm sure there isn't much use in slitting it. I do rinse out ketchup bottles and use that when I make barbq (sloppy joes to some of you), save margarine wrappers to use instead of foil when making baked potatoes, etc. etc.
6. Reuse towels---absolutely not
Right there my frugality stops! I've heard the other side of the argument. All your parts were just washed and are clean when you use a towel, so there's nothing wrong with air drying and using it again the next day. I don't care what it costs, I will not reuse a towel without washing it. Call me wasteful or spoiled if you want to. My mother taught me to use a clean towel and use it only once. Things will have to get much worse than they are now before I get that frugal.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

300th Anniversary

This is a big year for Lancaster County. The very first Europeans to live in what is now Lancaster County was a small group of Mennonites who built their cabins there in 1710. The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society is joining in the county's celebration of the 300th anniversary. Special programs and activities are being held all year. You can see the historical society's schedule here
This was my regular volunteer day at LMHS and the phone was ringing off the hook with people calling to register for tours and the genealogy conference. The tours sold out quickly this year and they have kept adding more repeats to try accommodate everyone. Peggy could not walk away from the phone more than a minute until it rang again. She was mostly adding people to the waiting list or filling in empty spots that had opened up.
If you look at the schedule you will see some events are free and open to the public without reservations. People are coming back to their roots from Canada and across the U. S. to attend various events. I am glad I made my reservations early for the 1710 tour and genealogy conference. This is a big year in Lancaster County and I'm glad the historical society is getting such a good response to the events they have planned.
Look at the schedule and see if there is something you would like to attend.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April Summer

It's barefoot weather! My children remember I always told them they can't go barefoot until it was in the 80s for three days. This was our third day and I'm barefoot---in April! We reached 88 today and tomorrow is forecast to be 83 but then a cold front will come through and it will drop about 20 degrees. That's going to feel cold after a week of summer weather. This really is too early to be warm so long. Everything is bursting into bloom and might die a sudden death if it gets too cold at night.
I took advantage of the warm weather to get the roses in shape. I have red climbers planted at the rail fence in front of the house. They take a lot of care and every year I tell myself I'm going to let them die. But then June comes and they redeem themselves. The new spring growth looks so promising they won again. It took me a couple hours to weed along all the edges. Then I spent another hour per bush to prune and tie them to the rails. The final touch was raking the mulch even to fill in the bare spots. It took me two days to do everything but the roses are now ready for another June fashion show. And my arms are so full of scratches I look like I was in a cat fight. Those roses better put on a spectacular show this year to make all this effort worthwhile.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Easter

We had a lovely Easter. Some years Easter is cold and wintry but this year spring was in full swing for nearly a week before Easter. Everything is green and bursting into bloom with sunshine and temperatures in the 70s.
Cheryl and her family came for our annual Burkholder reunion the day befor Easter. They stayed for Sunday and Gerald brought his girlfriend, Kelly, to join us for dinner on Easter. I don't often bring out the china and goblets for our own children but this time I did. Why not? After all, it was Easter.

I like Christmas but Easter is my favorite holiday. We couldn't have Easter without Christmas, but Easter is the heart and center of our faith and hope of life beyond the grave. Because He lives I too shall live.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

My annual batch of Cream Cheese Coffee Cakes is rising and will be ready to bake in an hour. It sounds and tastes elegant but is simple to make. The dough is mixed in the evening and rises in the frig overnight. In the morning you simply roll out the dough, spread the filling, roll up jelly-roll style, let rise an hour, and bake. Not much mess or fuss for something so delicious.
At Christmas I shared the recipe for Moravian Sugar Cake which is our traditional Christmas breakfast. Here's the recipe for our traditional Easter breakfast, Cream Cheese Coffee Cake.
1 cup (8 oz.) sour cream
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 tsp. salt
2 pkgs. yeast (2 Tbs. if in bulk)
1/2 cup warm water
2 eggs
4 cups flour
2 pkgs. cream cheese (8 oz. each), softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 tsp. vanilla
1/8 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups 10-x sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
toasted sliced almonds (optional)
Combine sour cream, sugar, butter, and salt in a saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly until well blended. Cool to room temperature. In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add sour cream mixture and eggs; mix well. Gradually stir in flour. (Dough will be very soft.) Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, combine filling ingredients in a mixing bowl until well blended. Turn dough onto a floured board; knead 5-6 times. Divide into four equal portions. Roll each portion into a 12 x 8" rectangle. Spread 1/4 of the filling on each to within 1" of edges. Roll up jelly-roll style from long side; pinch seams and ends to seal. Place seam side down on greased baking sheet. Cut six X's on top of loaves. Cover and let rise about 1 hour. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool.
Combine the first three glaze ingredients; drizzle over loaves. Sprinkle with almonds if desired. Yield 20-24 servings.
(You can divide dough into 8 portions if you prefer smaller loaves.)