Monday, August 31, 2009

Potato Days

This weekend, my husband and I went to Potato Days. It was my first time at this annual event. I was surprised at how much entertainment can be based around potatoes.
There was a strong man contest. The contest involved two men tying up a bag of potatoes using a needle and string and then putting the bag on to a pallet. They were timed to see how quickly they could tie and stack four big bags of potatoes.

I watched a couple of teams in this competition.

There were wagon rides.

There were craft booths and there was lots of food. Lots and lots of food.

The highlight of this day for me was the potato peeling contest. The food network was there filming for a television segment. It was kind of a big deal. Contestants competed to see who could peel the most potatoes in three minutes. There were three heats of six peelers.

The lady on the end is named Millie. The announcer said she'd been peeling potatoes for 80 years. She had lightening fast potato peeling hands. I cheered for her.

It turns out that I was standing right next to Millie's husband. He said "That's my wife" He was proud. Millie's husband said that Millie was going to be 85 years old this year. The little girl in the pink shirt in the second heat is Millie's granddaughter. I also met Millie's son; a very friendly family, as well as skilled potato peelers.

After Millie was done with her competition, she came to talk to her husband, who introduced her to me. Millie has peeled many potatoes because she makes lefse every year. Last year, Millie and her husband used 250 pounds of potatoes to make lefse at Christmas.

She also makes potato dumplings at her church.

Millie won second place in the potato peeling contest. Contestants had to bring their own peelers. Millie said her peeler was from Pampered Chef.

I use a knife to peel potatoes and my mom has remarked that I'm a "thick peeler" I guess that means I waste potatoes when I peel. Perhaps this is the tool I need to improve my potato peeling skills.

Potatoe days are held every August in Barnesville, Minnesota.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Learning to Cook

My daughter wants to learn to cook. Finally. I've been waiting for this day for years. Waiting for her to say that she wants to learn to cook. She'll be in an apartment at college this year; she will make her own meals. Right now she knows how to make fried eggs and pancakes.

"Mom, will you make me a cookbook? Put in a section called 'food boys like' "

My son's friends loved Swedish meatballs with mashed potatoes and gravy. My Grandma's Swedish meatball recipe will go into the section called "food boys like."

Her dad is teaching her to make spaghetti. He doles out fatherly advice as she browns the sausage. "Always use extra oregano, basil and garlic in the sauce" "Stir the noodles when you put them in the water so they don't stick together"

I'm writing down recipes written for her, making her a cookbook. Some recipes will go in because I know she likes them; other's because I want her to try family recipes. I want her to eat more than fried eggs and pancakes this year at college.

Grandma's Swedish meatballs


1/3 cup onions

2 lbs ground beef

1 1/2 cups bread crumbs

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 tsp salt

1 Tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 cup water or milk


Mix together, shape into balls and brown in frying pan. When brown, remove meatballs from frying pan. Add the following ingredients to the drippings in the frying pan:


1/4 cup shortening

5 Tablespoons flour

3 beef bouillon cubes

3 cups water

1 1 /2 teaspoon lemon juice

2 bay leaves


Pour over meatballs and simmer 1 hour.


This recipe makes a lot of meatballs. Grandma made them every Christmas Eve but they aren't so fancy or difficult that they can't be made anytime. They are good for a crowd, a party, a football game or to serve to hungry boys. I put them in the crock pot to simmer. I'll teach my daughter how to mix in the flour so she doesn't get lumps in the gravy. And to take the bay leaves out so she doesn't eat them. I'm so happy to be teaching my daughter to cook.

Air Show

On Saturday, the Air Show was in town.

This blue and yellow bi-plane was fun to watch. The pilot was upside down, right-side up and sideways. He flew within feet of the ground and then came back up high for more acrobatics.

Then came the Blue Angels.

They were very loud. They also fly up to 700 miles per hours during the show, which is why most of my pictures look like this.....

You can see in one of the pictures I got a shot of the contrails. That means I was pretty close to getting a picture of the actual planes.

I've got quite a few more cloud pictures but I'm not going to show them all here.

It would eventually get embarrassing.

I did get a couple of pictures of the Blue Angels.

I was curious about the Blue Angels so I did some research. The Blue Angels mission is to enhance Navy recruiting. It also turns out that being a Blue Angel is a very dangerous job. According to the statistics I found, 26 Blue Angels pilots had been killed in air show or training accidents and there have been 262 pilots in the squad's history, which gives this job a 10% fatality rate. The Navy didn't use any of those stats on their site for recruiting though.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I Wonder

I like to travel and I have a curious personality, it's a winning combination. Usually, when I travel with my husband, he teases me about my curiosity as I start most sentences with "I wonder...." Since my trip to Las Vegas was a work conference and my husband wasn't with me, I had to wonder to myself most of the time.

Some things I wondered.

Las Vegas has Palm trees. I really love Palm trees, they seem so tropical to me, so Gilligan's Island. There was also quite a bit of landscaping along the streets. Las Vegas is a desert. I wondered how much rain Las Vegas gets and howdo all the plants survive? I wonder how long their water source with last?

It was extremely hot in Las Vegas. Well over 100 degrees every day and I didn't see a cloud the entire time I was there. I wondered how many days were sunny every year?

Ironically, most of my time was spent inside sessions at the conference in the hotel where I had to wear a sweater because it was so chilly inside. I wondered how much it costs to air condition the hotels and casino in Las Vegas? I actually wondered this out loud when my boss and I walked through the Venetian hotel and casino with it's soaring ceilings. I tried to keep my "I wondering" to a minimum when I was with my boss because sometimes I remind myself of a three year old child asking "why" questions with all my "I wonders."

I wondered what language the people around me were speaking?
I wondered where the people who bought things at the expensive shops made all their money?
I wondered how much water the hotels went through each day?
I wondered about the people I saw get married at the gazebo on Sunday?
I wondered how much money the average gambler in Las Vegas spends?
I wondered if anyone calls those women from the fliers being handed out on the streets?
I wondered how my seatmate on the plane felt when she got to see her grandchildren for the first time in four years?
I wondered how many people get hit by cars on the Las Vegas strip each year?
I wondered how long my tan, from the few hours spend by the pool on Sunday, will last?
I wondered if the people with young kids knew what Las Vegas was like when they brought their kids to Sin City?
I wonder how much profit the hotels make charging $4.00 for a bottle of water?
I wondered how anyone can justify the over the top excess of Las Vegas?

I could go on and on with my wonderings. Some of the things I wondered, I've already looked up, because I was curious, and I could. Other things just make me wonder more.

I enjoyed my work conference, learned a lot and made some good contacts, however, I do find the hedonistic culture of Las Vegas disturbing. What I didn't find disturbing was the "dry heat" Believe me when I tell you this, if you get frizzy hair, Las Vegas is your town. I straightened my hair every day and by the end of the day, it still looked good. No frizz, none. Now, I wonder how I can make that happen at home?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Homemade Purse

I've never gone crazy for purses. If I find a purse that works, I use it until it wears out or breaks. For the last couple of years, I haven't carried a purse regularly. I have a wallet that I put cash and cards in and carry that when I need it. I do bring a pretty big tote bag to work, it holds my paperwork and my lunch; I usually throw my wallet in the tote.

I do however, have the first purse I ever got. My mom made it for me when I started first grade. It is denim and has an embroidered rainbow and sun on it. The lining fabric is a green floral. It's missing the button that used to hold it shut but otherwise it is in good shape. It is the perfect size for a first grader.

I was very proud of this purse. I remember carrying my crayons in it.

Ironically, since I've never been a purse junkie, I love making purses.

I've made some as gifts and I've even made a few on commission.

Today, I finished making a purse for myself. I'm going to a conference for work next week and decided that it would be easier to put a purse over my shoulder than to carry a wallet in my hand. It didn't take long to make, I used supplies I already had in my sewing room and the black and white goes with almost everything I normally wear. I even made a pocket inside that perfectly fits my cell phone.

I'll carry pens instead of crayons in this homemade purse and, since the conference I'm attending is in Las Vegas, I may put a couple quarters in a slot machine and see if I can fill up my new purse with loads and loads of money!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Unwanted Visitor

My mom has been having some problems with an unwanted visitor. A week ago, she came home at about 10:30 at night to discover that her trash cans, which had previously been in the back of her pickup, ready to go to the dump, were on the ground and garbage was all over the yard. There were footprints at he scene.

On Monday night, she got another visit.

She sent me an email with her story:

It was about about 10:30 pm, I was reading in bed and I heard a noise, as if something was outside, maybe on the deck. I got up and saw nothing from the living room window or door window, so I turned on the deck light, and walked into the kitchen. There face to face with a window between us, stood a black bear moving his head back and forth, as if he was looking for a way in. I grabbed the phone and called 911 and was told "We'll send out a conservation officer." Great, it's only 30 miles to get here! Meanwhile, the bear walked around to the kitchen door, looking in, but not pushing on the door. I dialed my brother, not too calmly, maybe almost in tears, "I have bear at my kitchen door!!!!" The bear took off to the car and then to the pickup, looking into the pickup box, standing on 2 feet; he can reach the top of the cab with his nose. He must have seen me in the window, as he sniffed the air and started walking to the kitchen door again. Instead, he turned and went on deck and then wandered on to the front lawn, just watching the house. A car drove up, and the bear finally took off.

I have his paw print on my upper kitchen window and I have a paw and nose print on my living room screen door!

These pictures were taken of the smudges left on the windows from the bear.

My mom also posted on her Facebook page about the bear - here is what she posted (emphasis mine) :

"The bear and I were face to face between the kitchen window last night and he's not scared off, he was around at least 15 minutes putting his paw print on my clean window. "
Honestly, her bear print windows are cleaner than the puppy nose windows at my house.
Poor Mom, she now has a loaded gun ready, as the game warden told her she could shoot it if it broke into her house! I'm pretty sure that a woman who cares that her windows were clean before the bear came around, isn't going to want this bear in her kitchen. Can you imagine the mess he would create?

Sunday, August 2, 2009


I'm giving a small garden tour today to show off one of my favorite plants.

Here are the Russian Sage plants on the side of my garage. I love this flower for many reasons.
The color is gorgeous, it stands out beautifully against my house. The flowers are a bluish purple and the foliage is a silvery green. It is a perennial, meaning it comes back every year. It spreads out bigger each year and chokes all the weeds so I never have to weed this flower bed. Ever. I love that. There is just no way I can ever kill these plants, no matter how much neglect I give them. These plants just keep going. They have a nice sage smell too.
Another reason I love this flower is because it attracts bees.

I love bees, however, I found out today that it is incredibly hard to get a picture of a bee, at least with my camera. They flit around too much. My Russian Sage plants were full of bees. Big fat bumblebees. The cute kind of bee.

Some people are scared of bees. Not me. I never have been. I used to try to find the biggest bumblebee I could and catch it in a jar when I was a little girl. I'd spend hours watching the bee until I let him go... or he died in the hot jar (even though I made sure to poke holes in the lid.) Now I feel bad about all the bees I killed. But I was just a little girl and didn't mean too. So, I forgive myself. Now I feel better. Anyway...

My dad had honey bees when I was growing up. I was always fascinated with them and I think I did a book report on bees every year in elementary school. I loved to watch those bees loaded down with pollen on their tiny little legs.

So, with this beautiful plant, I also get to watch some fascinating little creatures. Life is good on the garage side of the house.