Thursday, May 31, 2012

Here's to Finding Your Treasure

I LOVE garage husband, not so much.  I was brought up going to and having garage sales.  It was family time.  That's what we did.  If we needed new clothes, we shopped around at garage sales.  We weren't poor, but we weren't rich either.  My parents worked hard, but to own a pair of name brand name tennis shoes or jeans was a big deal in our house.  We had hand me downs.  We shopped at Goodwill.  There was no shame in it, it was the times. 

We went "rummaging" today, as my grandma calls it, with some specific things in mind.  We are hoping to re-do our kitchen within the next 9 months and I want to start buying things for it.  Since we live in a farm house and we already have rustic/vintage items, I want to keep that feel in the kitchen.  I adore old kitches utensils and even use them from time to time.  Here are some of the items that we purchased:

Bill purchased a few tools for the barn that he found reasonably cheap and I was going rustic.  My favorite find was an antique food chopper.

After doing a little internet research, this is a Foley Food Chopper, black handled, three blade, more than likely from the 1950's.  I am going to be trying this bad boy out just as soon as I can get it cleaned up.  There is just a little bit of rust on it, but it should all come off with a little cleaning.  That's what "rummaging" is all about...finding that little something that is someone else's trash, but your treasure!

The State Road 40 garage sales is a yearly event and stretches across several states.  It is amazing how popular it has become and how far people will travel for good deals. 

Here's to finding your treasure today:) 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Super Easy Ham Salad

All of this is done in a food processor.
In the food processor, pulse one package of Ekrich Bologna.
I use the all beef bologna.
Next, in the food processor, pulse 6 hard boiled eggs
and it to the bologna mixture.
Third, pulse 1/2 jar of Mt. Olive Sweet Gherkin pickles and
add to the mixture.
Then add Miracle Whip.  I use the light, but you can use
whatever is tasteful to you.  Combine well.  It will probably
take about half a jar of the Miracle Whip.
Finally, add a little sugar to taste and there you have it.
I usually let mine set up over night and then touch it
up again with a little more Miracle Whip and sugar if I
need it.  Thanks to my friend Jennifer for this wonderful

Monday, May 28, 2012

It's Just a Car, But He's My Brother

My baby brother LT and I in 2006.
I miss him everyday.

In 2008, we lost my youngest brother Tony, who we always called LT for Little Tony, in a car accident.  I miss him dearly. 

Growing up, my mom had saved her money and bought herself a brand new 1996 Pontiac Trans Am.  All of us kids drooled over this car and each of us were able to drive it to our own special events.  It was a six speed, so we all knew how to drive a stick shift and drive it well.  We also knew that if ANY harm happened to mom's car while we were in it, we were in big trouble.

As we aged, my brothers: Isaac, Mike and LT fought over who would "inherit" the car someday.  With all the bickering, my mom gave me, the only girl, the car as part of my inheritance in 2007.  I've held on to this car and taking care because I told my mom I would and because it reminded me so much of LT.

When LT was killed, it was over Labor Day weekend in 2008 and my parents were here in Indiana with my grandma and I, while LT was at home in Kentucky.  I remember the phone ringing at 5:30 A.M. in the morning and my mom asking me if Bill and I were ok because they had just received a call from the Indiana State Police letting her know that one of her kids had been in an accident and that they were on their way to her and my dad (who were staying with my grandma).  Can you imagine being awoke by the State Police and being told that one of your children had been in an accident?  I went into total panic mode, so I can only imagine how my parents must have felt.  Bill and I get up and left to go to my grandma's within minutes.  The entire way there, I am calling my other siblings to see if they are ok. answer. answer. answer.  Mike...finally Kristy, my sister-in-law answers the phone.  Asking her if she and Mike are ok and if she had heard the news, she tells me that it was LT and that he was killed.  What?  No. I'm still asleep.  I'm dreaming, yes I'm dreaming.  No, this is reality.  Bill has to grab my arm and say "what?" before I can comprehend what I have just been told.  Even four years later, it's devastating news to recount. 

LT had been killed in a car accident shortly after midnight.  The State Police came and told all of us what had happened according to the Kentucky State Police.  One of the officers even cried as he told us.  If you think that they don't have a tough job, you're wrong.  We drove my parents back to Kentucky and helped plan things the best we could.  In situations like this, nothing is natural, there is no normalcy - you're entire world is off when something like this happens.  Mom and Dad didn't want a minister and asked me to deliver the eulogy.  Definitely the hardest thing I ever had to write or deliver in front of people, but I did it.  Here it is:

Eulogy for L.T. Wilkinson
Delivered by: Lis McDonnell, L.T.’s big sis
September 4, 2008

On behalf of the Wilkinson Family, we want to say thank you for being a part of this service.  Yesterday was a celebration about Tony (L.T.) Eugene Wilkinson II’s life and today we lay him to rest.  L.T. was my brother, and the brother to Mike, Conni, Kelli, and Isaac.  He was the baby boy to my parents Tony and Rebecca, grandson to Mae and Grace, much loved “Uncle T” to Harmony (5) and Tyler (3), and beloved boyfriend to Michelle.  Many of you know him as family, neighbor, friend, or colleague, but whatever the relationship to him is, we all know him as a young man who was easy going, easy to love, and fun spirited.  He was 22, young and handsome.  There truly wasn’t a mean bone in his body.  Ornery yes, but not mean.  L.T. lived life to the fullest.  He loved to hunt, fish, and play in the mud and attend Camp Jeep with our parents.  He was even able to convince our mom to take pictures of him while popping willies on the 4-wheeler.  Did I mention he was ornery?
I would now like to read you my brother’s favorite book of the Bible:
Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
He leadeth me beside the still waters.                                   
He restoreth my soul; He guideth me in straight paths for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. 
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; 
Thou hast anointed my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; 
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

We all have memories of L.T., I want to share a few of my most precious with you now:
When L.T. was young, he loved teenage mutant ninga turtles, remote control cars, Indiana Jones movies and Matchbox cars.  As a high schooler, he loved playing football and hearing mom and Bert ring their cow bells from the bleachers, he enjoyed attending vocational school and of course, the monster trucks.  As he grew into an adult, camping, jeeps, 4-wheelers and the outdoors became more of his passion.

Being L.T.'s older sister, I had a chance to not only love him, but teach him things that my parents would appreciate both of us for.  You know, like teach a little kid to sing a recently released country hit song like Alan Jackson’s “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” at the top of his lungs over and over again to mom and dad.  Or give him advice on mistakes that I had made and encourage him not to make them too.  I told L.T. that the best advice I could give him would be to live at home with mom and dad until he was 30 or they kicked him out.  He just laughed and told me was fairly certain mom wasn’t going to let him live there that long, but as long as she was doing the cooking, he was going to keep eating!

My favorite story however, is when L.T. called my husband Bill and I and asked us on advice about what pick up lines he could use on girls.  I told him I wasn’t much help because I didn’t pickup girls – just guys – and I already had my guy and Bill said well L.T. I just asked your sister if she wanted to go get a coke and well, I don’t think that’s such good advice.  L.T. wanted to know why not and Bill said well, because I ended up getting married to her.  I, of course, didn’t think it was humorous, but the guys got a good laugh, and that’s what L.T. did, he made us laugh.  He made us have fun and we loved him for it.

At this time, my mom has some special words she would like to say and then we’ll briefly open it up to anybody else that might have a story they would like to share.

(Mom) – spoke about L.T. being born on dad’s birthday and the fact that the doctor’s name was Tony, dad’s name was Tony, and they were naming L.T. Tony.  Then the doctor couldn’t decide if L.T. was a boy or a girl until they saw a stream of pee.

(Anybody) – nobody spoke

I would like to close with a poem sent by my mom’s friend Linda Fisher entitled:

“The Broken Chain”
"We little knew that morning that God was going to call your name. In life we loved you dearly; in death we do the same. It broke our hearts to lose you; you did not go alone; for part of us went with you the day God called you home. You left us peaceful memories, your love is still our guide, and though we cannot see you, you are always by our side. Our family chain is broken and nothing seems the same, but as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again."

Jimmy, can you close us with prayer.
This concludes the service at this time.

So, in light of selling the Trans Am, I sold it to someone who will take great care of it, fix it up and drive it like it needs to be driven.  In fact, this young man reminds me a lot of LT and maybe that's why it's so hard to let go, because I'm still clinging to the memories.

LT, my baby brother, I love you with all my heart and soul and miss you to the ends of Earth and back.  I am so thankful to have had you for a forever hold a special place inside my heart.  

Friday, May 25, 2012

Ridiculously Good Rhubarb Crisp

Cut up rhubarb for my "rhubarb crisp."
Until I married Bill, I am not sure that I really knew what rhubarb was.  I know it's edible, but what is it?  How is it grown?  How do I cook with it?  My mother-in-law made wonderful pies of strawberry and rhubarb together, but when she passed away, I was on my own.

So, I turned to Ohio State University's publication, Growing Rhubarb in the Home Garden.  The publication states, "Rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum L.) is a cool season, perennial vegetable, grown for its leafstalks that have a unique tangy taste used for pies and sauces."  And it is good!

We have the Crimson Red variety and it suits the two of us well.  Knowing that I didn't really have any rhubarb recipes I began to frantically search the internet and finally came across a recipe that I have fallen in love with.

Cheri, from Kitchen Simplicity had the perfect recipe on her blog for Rhubarb Crisp.  In addition to the recipe, she adds that the "crisp" ingredients can be made ahead of time and stored for future use with other recipes.  I can almost eat the crisp topping by its self.  Let me know if you try this recipe out and what you think of it!!!

This is the "crisp" topping that I keep stored
to save time and use in multiple recipes by
simply adding 5 T of melted butter.

This is the final product before going into the oven and it is
good warm or me!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Scripture For My Heart

I adore the verses in Galatians 5:22-23 where it is says:

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law."

Today, I feel like God put this scripture on my heart.  Daily, I need to remind myself:

To be full of LOVE
To be JOYFUL in song, praise and worship
To take time to enjoy the PEACE of quiet time
To be PATIENT when I feel like snapping
To be KIND to others
To see the GOODNESS in everything and everyone around me
To be FAITHFUL in my prayer, study in the Word and walk with God
To be GENTLE when I feel like being abrupt
To maintain SELF-CONTROL regardless of the situation

and in all things to be Christ like.

Isn't God good? Every time that I fly in an airplane I am always amazed that people don't believe in God.  How can you look out of an airplane window and not be in awe of all that there is?  All the fields and houses are squarely laid out, the clouds are breath-taking, the towns are all laid out just so.  It's all perfect, just like our Heavenly Father.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

My Bill!

Me and my husband Bill.
When Bill and I first got married it was a wedding like no other... Bill was a confirmed bachelor and we met through our local 4-H program, yes 4-H!  We both have a love for the program and for the kids that are in it. 

Bill asking me out, consisted him saying, "Do you want to go get a coke on Friday night?"  I, of course said sure.  I wasn't for sure if it was a date, or if we were actually just going to go get a coke.  Regardless, I dressed up like it was a date and we went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner.  Now Bill, at the time, was kind of quiet - unless he was worked up over something, but seemed very caring.  I was intrigued.

After Texas Roadhouse, which thankfully there was food, we went to look at some things that were going on at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.  I was getting the impression that yep, this was a date.  On the way home, Bill said he had "feelings" for me and wanted to know if I was okay with that.  Long story short, I was great with it!

A little more than a year later we were married.  Since Bill had been in the fields, he said that he didn't care what I did for the wedding as long as I showed up.  I have to admit, he said the wrong thing.  Since it was a December wedding, the church was already decorated with beautiful Christmas decorations, which left me time to plan some jokes on my soon-to-be husband.  A lot of times, people are really uptight and traditional about their wedding and they should be and it is a ceremony to be taken seriously.  You can also add a little humor in there too, just to break the ice.  When Bill said "I do" I had the Hallelujah chorus play.  The entire church erupted in laughter!  As a confirmed bachelor, it seemed like it was an appropriate thing to play now that he was FINALLY tying the knot.

Several of Bill's good friends work in John Deere stores, so when the time came for us to exchange rings, my brother Tony (a.k.a. LT) was in the audience controlling a huge remote control size John Deere tractor that one of his friends brought with lights on and the horn blowing to bring us our rings.

Bill was finally catching on that he was had.  Wanting to know if I had anymore tricks up my sleeve, all I could do was smile and say just one!  When Bill went to kiss his bride, our niece and nephew who were part of the wedding party held up a 9.5 and a 10 sign.  Ah, the wedding was a success!

We will be married for six years this year.  Sometimes it feels like just a couple of days and other time like 60 years.  He has introduced me back into the world of farming, which I love and I am teaching him about technology, which he hates!  We make a great combination.

Bill, thank you for being such a wonderful husband.  I love you! 

This is Bill's family. (L to R): Sue (Bill's mom), Joyce,
 Mark (Bill's brother), Me, Bill, Julie,
Luke, Bret, Kathy (Bill's sister in the green), Audrey and Austin.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Crops are in the ground...strawberries in the fridge!

I know I didn't post anything over the weekend.  We were super busy on the farm.  We finished getting all of our crops planted and helped our friend get his finished as well.  It is such a great feeling when the crops are all in the ground, ready to peek through the surface and then you can watch your farmer husband do his rain dance because we need some "light, gentle rain to make them grow!"  Farming is a huge gamble and a lot of people don't realize the risks involved financially and physically...not to mention all the emotional things like praying for rain, hoping that the cutworms don't damage the crop, or should we replant that field or not.  Oh the perils of farm life, which I love dearly!

This was part of the flat of strawberries
that we purchased at Tuttles Orchard.
Saturday, I went to Tuttles Orchard in Greenfield, IN and purchased a few tomato, cilantro and zucchini plants for the garden.  Then we went inside the store and they had beautiful stalks of fresh rhubarb, which I just had to get and strawberries!  Yes, the main purpose of this trip was to get a flat of strawberries and wow did they look good!

Bill thought I was crazy for buying so much, but I love strawberries and I have been wanting to make freezer jam.  This is only the second year for our strawberry patch at home and it's not a very big patch plus the frost got to some of them back in April.

Regardless, I was determined to make freezer jam!  On Saturday, I washed and cut all of the strawberries, which was 8 heaping quarts.  I froze 4 quarts for a pie I plan on making later.  Sunday after church was freezer jam time.  It is so easy to make and tastes DELICIOUS!

These are the strawberries that are getting ready to go into the
coldwater.  Don't they look delicious?
First, wash, hull and de-stem the strawberries.  In the picture, you can see the strawberries soaking in the kitchen sink.  This is helpful because it will not only clean the strawberries, but get any bugs (or slugs) to come out/off of the fruit.  Be sure to let them soak for at least 10 minutes, then rise them off again under cold water. 

Next, lay the strawberries out to dry.  I usually lay paper towel down on a cookie sheet and let them air dry for a little while.  While they are drying, I washed five 8oz Ball freezer containers and dried them and set out 4 Ziploc quart bags to freeze the strawberries I wasn't going to use.

After the strawberries are dry, measure out the following:
  • 4 cups crushed strawberries
  • 1-1/2 cups of sugar (I use Splenda Granular)
  • 1ea of the 1.59oz package of the Ball Simple Creations No Cook Freezer Jam Fruit Pectin
Stir the sugar and pectin in a bowl together until they are blended.
Add the crushed strawberries and stir for 3 minutes.
Ladle the mixture into the 8oz freezer containers up to the fill line and screw the lids on.
Let them stand for 30-45 minutes.
You can store in the fridge for about a month (if it lasts that long) or in the freezer for a year!
These are the containers that are going in the freezer and there
is half of a container that I put in the fridge!

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Day Off - Or Is It?

It's always nice to have a day off of work in the middle of the week.  I usually anticipate the things that I want to get done or should have already had done and then make a list.  I'm a list maker.  I admit that I have OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) especially when it comes to organization or making sure appliances are turned off, but I am not as bad as I use to be.  I still get made fun of though.

My nephew Tyler and I show off our WWE wrestling faces.

It felt good to sleep in until 10 A.M. this morning.  I might have slept longer, but my farmer husband was in need of help in the field.  With no time for a shower, I threw on some work clothes and one of his hats and started out the door, when the phone rang again.  This time, it was my brother Mike, who only calls if he is upset or something is wrong and the odd thing was he was calling from my mom's cell phone, which told me off the bat that this was not a good sign.  When I asked Mike what was up, he told me that my sweet, yet dare devil of a nephew had broke is arm and was in surgery.  Of course me living in another state away from my family is just heart breaking in times like this. 

Tyler is 7 and just finished up his last day of school yesterday.  This poor little guy is going to have a cast on for probably most of the summer.  Since, I can't have children, my nieces and nephew are spoiled very well, so Aunt Lis will be planning something special for Tyler when she see's him...and that will be soon!

So, after helping in the field, talking to all my family about Tyler it was finally me and the chickens.  I've been working on a new home for some of my pullets and finally finished it this afternoon.  They love it and I am exhausted.  I guess this is what day's off are about - you know, a little relaxing and a lot of working!

For supper tonight we are having a very easy Chicken Casserole that my co-worker shared with me.
Here's the recipe:

  • 2 c chicken cut up
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 can Cream of Chicken soup
  • 1 can Chicken Noodle soup
  • 2 slices of bread, torn up
  • 1 roll of Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 stick margarine
Mix chicken, egg, soups and bread in a 2 quart greased casserole dish.  Melt margarine and mix with the crackers.  Add the cracker mixture to the top of the other mixture and bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

"Don't Fry Day"

May 25th is the official "Don't Fry Day." 

This is me back in 2008 in Cozumel, Mexico.
Note the sunglasses and yes, I have
suncreen on and in the bag!

Now, you might be thinking about not deep frying foods this day, but that is not what it means at all.  According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, it is a day to remind us to protect our skin while we are outdoors.

My husband is a farmer, therefore his job is mostly outside.  How many farmers do you know have a farmer's tan?  You know, their arms and face have a real nice tan, but when you pull those t-shirt sleeves up, LOOK OUT, you can see the ghostly white skin underneath! 

“Farmers and ranchers are fortunate to be able to spend much of their working lives outdoors,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman. “The downside of prolonged exposure to the sun while on the farm or ranch is that it can lead to skin damage and cancer.”
If you are outdoors for a period of time, work outdoors, or are letting your children play outside it is always good to do the following:

  • Wear sunscreen and apply it generously.  Don't forget places like your face and ears!  Apply more than once if necessary.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes.
  • Drink lots of water to help keep you hydrated.
  • Seek shade when you feel you are getting too hot.  Let yourself cool down and make sure you are not burning your skin.

According to the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention's website, "The number of women under age 40 diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma has more than doubled in the last 30 years." I only tend to lay out in the sun when we are on vacation and nobody will be able to snap a picture of me in a swimsuit, but I always make sure to wear sunscreen, even if there is a breeze blowing and it's overcast.  Since a lot of skin cancer's are traced back to overexposure to UV radiation, I don't want to take any chances.

For early dection of skin cancer, like anything else, check your skin frequently for any type of changes in growths, moles or skin discoloration and schedule a visit with your doctor if needed.

ALSO - Don't forget about any pets that you may have that are outdoors.  Be sure to provide them with plenty of shade and water!  We want to make sure we take good care of our pet kids as well.

See you outside:)

    Wednesday, May 16, 2012

    Welcome to "The Farmer's Wife, IN" - yes, the IN is for Indiana.

    I was quite productive yesterday.  I was in a cooking/baking mood and decided that since I don't always feel like cooking when I get home from work, I would take advantage of having a day off and pre-make our dinner for the week.

    First things first. I wanted a nice coffee cake to drink with my coffee in the mornings. My mother-in-law use to make the best Sour Cream Coffee-Cake, so I thought I would try my hand at it. 

    Turned out to be really good.  Not quite my mother-in-laws, but close.  Here is the recipe:

    Sour Cream Coffee-Cake
    2 c granulated sugar
    1 c margarine

    Cream these two items together.  Then add:

    2 eggs
    1 c sour cream
    1/2 t vanilla

    Mix well.  Then add:

    2 c flour
    1/2 t salt
    1 tsp baking powder

    Mix until combined.  In another bowl, let's create the topping mix by mixing together the following:

    6 T brown sugar
    1 t cinnamon
    1 c chopped nuts (optional)

    Next, grease and flour a 9x13 baking pan.  Spread half of the batter mix in the pan and then sprinkle half of the topping mix over the batter.  Then add the remaining batter, spreading so it's even in the pan (which can be a little tricky I learned) then add the rest of the topping mix.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.

    When the coffee-cake has cooled, mix the following to create a glaze and sprinkle it over the top:
    2-3 T milk
    1 c powdered sugar
    1/2 t vanilla

    Cut the coffee-cake into squares and store in an air tight container. 

    In addition to this recipe, I also made a meatloaf, no-bake cookies, and a chicken casserole.  I was on a roll.  Needless to say, I am looking forward to going home tonight and just popping a dish in the oven!  Genius?  I think so:)