Friday, August 26, 2016

Pictures & Peaches

A common view these days.

   This will mainly be a picture post as we arrived home from our planned family time to tomato stakes groaning under the weight of heavy fruit-laden vines, ripened corn, and that was on top of the peaches that came home with us. I got busy as soon as we unpacked, and spent day 3 resting as I wore myself out after two long days. It's funny how ten years ago I could work a full day at the library, drive an hour home, and can food deep into the night while still being able to get up the next day. I couldn't do it now, and I'm grateful I don't have to at this age. 

   For the most part, we had a refreshing time and I was pleased with how the Little Mister behaves better in restaurants, except for his occasional one-boy improv routine that can happen anywhere. I was very proud of The Mister who rode amusement park rides like a champ and tackled a large waterslide multiple times. I'm usually in charge of water-themed activities, so it was great to not be the only person spouting reminders about not drinking the water.

   Oh, I also got to meet Lydia of Thrifty Frugal Mom and her precious newest baby. She was a complete joy, and it was a pleasure to spend an evening getting to know her better. 

   One afternoon, we took a train ride through the beautiful countryside, and I used it as an opportunity to work on my landscape photography. Landscapes and places are my favorite photo subjects. 

It is deceptively hard to get landscape pictures that don't contain utility poles, trucks, random people walking into the frame, and pterodactyls. Just kidding. 

Feeding a mini-pony. I almost want one as a pet. We could take it to the vet in the mini-van. 

Little Mister and me, on yet another train ride. For a while there he wouldn't pose for pictures. Who would believe it? he stayed awake on this train ride because it only cost a dollar or something. The expensive train ride knocked him out in five minutes. 

A farmhouse as seen through the wavy glass windows of a historic mill.

One of my sanity-saving tactics during the summer is simple suppers and no baking. I made the exception when one of my jars of peaches didn't seal and I had some very ripe peaches that needed an assignment. Also, I think the men were getting tired of Oreos. I know. We should all have such problems.

Peach Praline Pie
Before the bake

4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
2-3 Tbsp. corn starch, for thickening
1 tsp. lemon juice

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup butter

1 unbaked pie shell

In a large saucepan, combine peaches, sugar, lemon juice, and cornstarch. Heat and cook until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon, about 1/4 tsp. 

In a small bowl combine flour, brown sugar, and pecans. Cut in butter until the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle 1/3 of crumbs over the bottom of the pie shell; cover with peach mixture. Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top. 

Bake at 450 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 20 minutes longer or until peaches are tender and topping is golden brown. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Numbering Our Days

   Like most of the country, we have been experiencing an endless heat wave. For all of the discomfort, I rejoice for the sunshine. 

   One of the delightful oddities of this garden thermometer is that the minute the sun hits the glass, it gives a false reading of 120 degrees. This is true whether it is August or February. It's kind of comforting when it happens in the winter. But here it is, on a day when the heat and humidity are debilitating, giving a true reading.

   We are getting ready to pack and have some much-needed family time together, something that has been carefully planned for months. During the year, we don't get nearly enough of it. Months can go by where The Mister is so over-extended that he might only have two full days out of a month to spend with his work-widow and little boy. I will admit that it is a blessing to have a husband who is so needed by his employer that the hospital calls to ask him to come in when he's already there.

   It is also a blessing to say no, and make a commitment to family. It's never really about finding time. It's really about priorities. Rearranging our priorities is more refreshing than a new coat of paint but without all of the labor and clean up. 

   One of my earlier summer projects, before travel and food storage kicked in, was putting my good dishes in my new-to-us china cabinet. Back when I was a new bride, I imagined hosting gatherings of our extended family with my better dishes and a thoughtfully crafted tablescape of interesting finery. Then, I got back on my unicorn and flew over a rainbow into a blue sky of that glittered with dew. In reality, I inherited most of my good dishes only four years ago and we bought the perfect china cabinet for our space only six months ago. We purchased it from a lady who was downsizing, and I had watched it online for about a year as the price dropped lower and lower. The journey of pulling my dishes out of storage (the barn at my in-law's farm) and rediscovering them was time-consuming but fun. One item I wanted to display was some of my grandmother's vintage handiwork on these tea towels. I actually used a few before discovering how fragile they were, and then decided they would be decorations. 

   When I look at her tiny stitches making up the words that spell out the days of the week alongside the vintage pictures, I wonder, where did she find the time?  I admit that time management has never been one of my strengths. I was late for my own birth and not much has changed since. 

   I like to think that it got done because she made it a priority to sit in a chair one Sunday after church and allow herself to be soothed by the quiet meditation of a needle and thread. As she carefully criss-crossed the word "Tuesday" into a linen, she planned for the future while sitting by the still waters. 


   I strive to be that kind of time manager. I have been picking, pickling, and chairing my own personal sunflower appreciation committee of one. I am making the most of my time, putting away food and books for the winter. Yes, I stock books, too. Although I am growing fonder of my space-saving Kindle, I look for used book sales and put my treasures aside for a dark winter night. Soaking in my own still waters, planning for the future, one hand still firmly on the plow. 

August is my favorite month. 

What are your priorities this summer?

Used book sale, Lancaster, PA. Oh, the heat!


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