Monday, August 15, 2011

The Simple Life

After reading about the Amish and even making my own Amish quilt over the years, I finally got to spend a day in Amish Country. I could have spent a week there without running out of things to see and do but the day I had was great. My new daughter-in-law, Kelly, grew up about an hour from the Amish area in Ohio so she knew all the places I needed to see in a day. I was so excited to be going and made sure we were on the road, ready to arrive when the doors to the shops opened.

To me seeing a horse and buggy was the ultimate Amish viewing. I was not disappointed. They were on all the main highways and my family teased me that I took the same picture of them over and over (from the back) but upon closer look of my pictures, every buggy was different.
Our first stop of the day was at Lehman's in Kidron. I was familiar with the store as I used to receive their catalog when Y2K was on my mind. I wasn't prepared for the huge assortment of products from the past. The store was huge and lacking in nothing. Oil lamps, lava soap, toys, hats, cooking supplies, crocks and dishes, books, wood burning stoves and outdoor supplies filled the shelves. I do believe a person could spend an entire day in Lehman's alone.

Ashery Country Store was our next stop in Fredericksburg
. It offers bulk foods many of which can not be left behind. I brought home dark chocolate covered peanuts, Buckwheat pancake mix, yogurt covered pretzels, Buckeyes, sunflower seeds, and Matt and Kelly picked up beef and turkey jerkey. The huge bags of flour, pie fillings, potato chips, seasonings, jams, jellys and relishes could stock a pantry for a lifetime. Our sales clerks were dressed in their traditional dresses and bonnets which added to the authenticity of shopping in Amish Country.
They now take credit cards.
Rows of goodies.

Heini's Cheese Factory

Heini's Cheese Chalet in Berlin had us looking forward to sampling.The cheese is made in the factory right there on the premises and samples of all the cheeses are available. We used a toothpick to pick out a chunk of cheese from a covered plastic bowl (with signs not to put the toothpick in our mouth!). The cheese was wonderful and if I hadn't been traveling I would have brought home many different kinds. I did pick out 3 cheese spreads (Cajun crab, apple raisin and roasted pepper). Rex picked out a chunk of Swiss cheese. Lines of people moved along the coolers with their toothpicks in hand sampling every offering. Pretzels were used for the cheese spreads. It was so much fun and so very tasty. Once I was full of cheese samples, I went to the other end of the store to the gift shop. It was lovely and I found some personalized notecards.
Rex shows a sample!
After all that cheese you'd think we wouldn't be hungry but we were ready for our next stop, Der Dutchman in Walnut Creek. This Restaurant is famous for its authentic Amish Kitchen Cooking, and it is in the original location serving food traditions for more than 40 years. The waiting line trailed down the porch but the restaurant is so large the line moved quickly. Our meal was served family style and included soup and salad bar, large rolls with available peanut butter and apple butter for spreading, 3 meats, homemade mashed potatoes, dressing, gravy, green beans and our choice of pie for dessert. The helpings were huge and between the four of us we still left plenty untouched. What a sad thing that was!
A nap after lunch!
Sampling from salad bar

Waddling back to the car with very full tummies, we stopped to admire the panoramic view of Goose Bottom Valley. Red barns and farms dotted the countryside. What a gorgeous view that a camera doesn't do justice to. .
Neat farms on the hillside.

Back on the road, we returned to Berlin to Tis the Season. This is Ohio's largest year round Christmas shop with three floors of Christmas wonderland. Of course we went to every corner of the large store. It was beautiful.

While still in the Berlin area we made a stop at Wendell August Forge. I knew about this store because Kelly and Matt had brought us wonderful gifts from this store on another of their visits.
I knew I would love this store, and I did. It had so many hand-hammered metal gifts to call out to me. I found a pewter tray with quilt patterns that called my name. But for $75 I left it there. I did buy an Amish Christmas tree ornament so that is a trip keepsake for my day with the Amish. There were necklaces, bracelets, cups, bowls, coasters and trays made from hand-hammered aluminum, bronze, copper and pewter. Beautiful craftmanship was in everything. As we left the store, the wooden porch had the cutest rock planters along the edge. They were available to buy but fitting one in my suitcase would not have been practical, as much as I loved them.
Wendell August Forge

Rock flower planters

This is a display showing the
steps to making a Wendall-August

Stores were starting to close so we had to call it a day. On our way back we did drive by Cat's Meow Village. I was sad to see it had already closed as I have known about those little wooden houses for years. I think I even still have a few. It was such a full day though and we were all tired so it was just as well that we could slow it down for the day.
There are still many places we didn't visit but I'm delighted with all we got to see in a day. Kelly definitely knew the premier places to show us and after all these years, I am so happy I got to see the Amish people in their hometowns.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

City Girl Goes Country

Today I joyfully jumped out of bed at 4:00 a.m. to catch an early morning flight to Cleveland, Ohio. Now some of you might get up around this dark time of the morning but I don't! It's against my nature to be up before the sun. When it comes to travel or a good time, I can sometimes re-wire my senses and go for the gusto of the unusual. This is what motivated me today! I have a fun and exciting 4 days planned around the Cleveland area. Actually Medina, Ohio, is the center point of my travels this week. I only fly in and out of Cleveland. I am here with my husband for a wedding reception honoring our son and new daughter in law who were married 4 weeks ago. Kelly is from here but was married in Colorado. This reception if for her family and friends who were unable to travel to the wedding.

This is the first time my husband and I have visited Kelly's homeland. As a true blue city girl I had been anxious to see her family's Alpaca and Tree Farm that Kelly has told us so much about.

Sign in the Kall yard

Alpacas in the yard

Christmas Tree Farm

Arriving at Kelly's family home, we were greeted by her two dogs, Pit Stop and Nascar. Once they realized I was family, they were happy.
Here is my son, Matt, playing with Pit Stop and Nascar.

I was then shown the way to the barn area to meet the newest cria (baby alpaca) born yesterday.

Tony Kall (Kelly's youngest brother) brought the cria over for me to admire up close.

Along the way I delighted in the many chickens that roamed freely across the yard. They were camera shy though as they would run from me into their coop. They must have known a city girl when they saw one. I wonder if my shoulder strap purse gave me away?
I had to outsmart this one to get a picture. She was running fast past me!

The 16 adult alpacas were most welcoming. They looked at me and I looked at them! The
boys were separated from the girls so I wandered to different
fenced areas to meet them. I didn't reach out to pat them though as I didn't know if they'd spit at me or not. This city girl wasn't brave enough to risk it. I was walking in a foreign land here.

These are some of the males,
considered stud quality.

If I got it right, this is White Starr who is the day old cria's
Mama. Behind her are some of the other females.

The day old cria was a sweet, darling, fluffy little alpaca.
I did reach out and rub her and marveled at how soft she was.
I was pretty proud of myself for pretending to be a little bit
country at this point. Names for the alpacas are somewhat random. This one may be named F150, after the Ford truck.

Suddenly there was quick movements in the corner of the fenced area. Another little newborn cria had been found in the
corner of the barn. She was breathing but not doing well. Kelly, her Dad and brothers gave immediate care to the struggling cria. Her mother, Molly, stayed close by while the cria was rubbed and warmed.

Kelly Pilger flashes a smile
as she tends to the cria and
Mama Molly stays close.

In the warmth of the sun, the 3 steers, Fred, George and Bruce, were led out of their barn for a quick turn around the yard. They didn't linger long in the sun and soon headed back into the barn.

Matt Pilger, Tony Kall and Andy Kall pat sweet Fred.

To complete my afternoon I climbed aboard the Ford tractor for a photo shoot. I liked it there and could see myself patrolling the acreage on such lovely days as today.
Such fun on a tractor!

Dinner was a fabulous meal of garden grown corn on the cob, potatoes and carrots and the luscious roast beef from one of their own farm raised cows. I know it's a lot of hard work to nurture animals and a garden but the fruits of the labor are delicious and can't be compared to anything else.

I loved being outdoors among the animals, tractor and garden today. I think my own ranch-raised Dad would have been proud of his city girl.
A beautiful butterfly in the alpaca yard.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Little Good News

"The Guttmacher Institute is reporting that in the first six months of 2011 states have enacted a record number of pro-life laws." 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Following Their Dreams, Every Year!

I had the most delightful find today while having breakfast at Denny's Restaurant in Wheat Ridge, CO.
An exuberant group of people in bright yellow T-shirts caught my eye. The sight of them persuaded me to leave the safety of my booth and go find out what they were up to. I'm so glad I approached them with a request to take their picture. They were as happy to tell of their adventure as I was to hear about it.

The Lopez family is on their 5th annual trip. This year it was Alicia's turn to pick their family dream trip. She lives in Texas and has wanted to visit Colorado. So their bright yellow T-shirt boasts: Following Our Dreams to Colorado 2011.

This group of travelers plans for their yearly trips by fundraising throughout the year to help cover costs. Here in Colorado they have a 15 passenger van to travel the area in. The Lopez family travels from their hometowns to the chosen area each year. They come in from Michigan, Texas and other areas. Last year, New York was their destination and next year, it's looking like New Orleans will be the choice. Las Vegas is also on the agenda for the future.

Twelve names are listed on the back of the T-shirts. These are the travelers. These are the dreamers. Thank you, Lopez family for sharing your fun times with me today!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

How? Tmi-

One can't help but be scandalized by New York's legislature. As I wrote to a well known web author.
Maybe it's TMI to be answered, but how can such a "marriage" be consummated?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

En garde

Will and Abbi make a great team...

You were warned!

Photos by Rita

Boulder clouds

Looking north from 29th Street Mall...

Hwy 7

One spectacular view...

Colorado Highway 7 east of Lafayette looking west, beyond Boulder. 
Photo by Rita.

Happiest Person Award

Oh the irony of it all! About two weeks ago I was tickled pink to receive a certificate proclaiming I was selected to receive the Secret Society of Happy People's 2011 Happiest Person Award. Along with my lovely certificate I received a large medallion on a white ribbon, and a ribbon wrapped cellophane bag filled with Secret Society of Happy People "pass it on cards", post cards, a button with the SoHP logo and a pin. My DH had nominated me and the Society also included his very sweet write up that won me this honor. I was just amazed at what he wrote about me. I do try to be upbeat and happy so to receive this award was affirmation of the way I choose to live my life. At work, I have an elderly couple that call me "Sparkles". The gentleman has often asked me why I'm always so happy. I've told him I choose to be, no matter what is going on in my life. My beloved Dad used to quote Abraham Lincoln when I was growing up " We are about as happy as we make up our minds to be."

So, the irony I referred to above involves this elbow length pastel blue cast on my left arm. Six days ago I was futzing around on my patio and tiki hut. I was attempting to move some things around when I tripped on a rolled up rug that had been put on the patio after the garage clean-up session the day before. As I fell, I grabbed my wooden tiki serving bench and fell oh so gracefully onto the rug pulling the bench down with me. Even though it was a soft landing, I felt the pop in my wrist as I fell. I think my scream of alarm and the crash of the bench interrupted my husband's concentration and he called out asking if I was okay. My DH was in the middle of a timed test on the computer so I yelled "I'm okay, keep going!". He was doing a two hour employment test and I was just trying to keep quiet by staying out of the house. After I sat and cried for a few minutes, I dragged myself up off the ground and proceeded to evaluate the damage I had just done to my wrist. A bump by the bone was starting to swell, and it was hurting. "I was not happy"! Today I received a phone call, my 3rd confirmation, that my bone is really broken. It was a recorded message "the radiologist has looked at your X-rays and he has reported it is broken and that you need to follow up with the orthopedic doctor." No kidding.

I have found that people are either curious or being polite. I would say between work yesterday and being out and about today, less than five people I have been around have failed to ask me what happened. Some even suggested I fell off bar stool or hit my husband or successfully guessing I fell. This cast is inconvenient, bulky, itchy, hard and just plain unpleasant. I find I tell people " I am not Happy" (about having to wear this cast). I wonder if I should start wearing my Happiest Person Medallion to remind myself I really am a Happy Person, even if I have a pretty blue cast on my arm! Attitude is everything! :-)

Also posted at

Monday, May 9, 2011

Peppermint Patty Pedi

I had today off from work and watching granddaughters so I made the most of my day. I went to the fitness center and got in good exercise. Then I called a spa I've been wanting to go to and made an appt for my "Mother's Day" gift from my DH. I got the Peppermint Patty Pedicure. It was heavenly. A few times I almost relaxed enough to fall asleep. To my surprise, a cup of hot chocolate came with my package. I didn't bother drinking much of it but I sure had fun enjoying the whipped cream. lol I had another little gift as I was leaving. It was a cellophane bag with a chocolate footprint embossed with the spa's name and a peppermint. I felt so pampered.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Praise Ministry Letter to the Homebound

Today I received a request to write a letter to the homebound in our church parish. This is a monthly ministry that the clergy and other parish leaders take turns doing. It's called the Praise Ministry. I was surprised to be asked but pleased as I do love to write. Below is my letter for the month of May.

Greetings in the love of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

I take great delight in getting to visit with you this month through this letter.

As we continue celebrating this Easter season we can ponder the love and joy we are witnesses in sharing with our beloved Lord. He is alive and He is with us! We do believe. It is through this belief, that we know our sufferings on earth are only temporary as the promise of new life is truth promised and proven to us.

. Looking out my window I delight in the spring blossoms on the trees and the tulips starting to bloom. It is again, that new hope, tangible at my own front door, reminding me that Jesus Christ has risen and is with us. No matter what darkness we have endured or fears we have, our Lord has shown us that we too shall come through it. He has walked the path before us and shows us the way.

A favorite scripture of mine always brings hope. It is from the Song of Songs and it's a poetic portrayal of praise of the mutual love of the Lord and his people. In Chapter 2, verses 10 to 13 we read:

My lover speaks; he says to me,

"Arise my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!

For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone.

The flowers appear on the earth,

the time of pruning the vines has come,

and the song of the dove is heard in our land.

The fig tree puts forth its figs,

and the vines, in bloom, give forth fragrance.

Arise my beloved, my beautiful one, and come!"

During the most holy season of the Church year, we have the wonderful opportunity to turn our eyes to the Mother of Jesus who stood by him in his pain, suffering and new life. Jesus gave his Mother to us from

the cross (John, chapter 19:25-27) and she is our Mother too. Her love and intercession for us is always with us. We are not orphan children of God but rather under the warm protective mantle of a Mother most holy. No matter where we are in our life journey, we have a welcoming Mother to comfort and care for us as she did for her son, Jesus. Our beautiful and humble Blessed Virgin Mary is honored this month of May along with our own mothers. Our lives are given to each of us by the nurturing care of a woman, who became a Mother. This is the most blessed honor to have a participation in the creation of new souls and lives given to earth by God our Father. Mothers come in all sizes, shapes, attitudes and personalities but each has accepted the gift of new life, their own Annunciation of saying "yes" to motherhood. Motherhood is under such attack in this day and age. Let us offer extra prayers this month for the many women who refuse motherhood and for the many women who say "yes" to bringing forth new life. It is spring time, let us rejoice in the season!

(also posted at:

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Good Eating

One of my favorite people who comes into the fitness center where I work told me about a
restaurant I needed to check out. Rex and I went there tonight. It was wonderful and we had the greatest experience.

Here is a web site to read about and see Dakota's Restaurant:

The owners, Susan and Michael, visited with the diners making everyone feel at home. The chef, Steve, came out of the kitchen to meet us and check on our meal. Before we left, we had a wonderful extended visit with Susan and Michael.

Susan plans to start having afternoon tea parties starting in May so I plan to check those out.
For my next visit, I have my breakfast picked out of the menu they sent home with us. I look forward to going back. I hope I get to go back soon.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A special day...

Baby Beth with Dad (Rex), Grandma Louise, and Great-Grandma Eva, 1975.
Great-Grandma passed away only a few years later, while today Grandma Louise joined her.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Look What I Got in the Mail!

I was so surprised to find a package on the porch today addressed to me!
I didn't remember ordering anything.

Opening it I found this awesome First Alert Travel Carbon Monoxide Alarm. I was very excited. Inside the box was a paper that said: "Congratulations! Thank you for participating in the Midlife Road Trip give-away sponsored by First Alert." This alarm comes with a travel pouch and is perfect for traveling and staying in hotels, on sailboats :-) or anyplace your head rests that's not at home.

Thank you First Alert and Midlife Road Trip! I look forward to my safe travels!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1-11-11 I Have Met My Match!

This date is so cool, I just had to do a post to use it!

Look at these two sweet, innocent little faces!
I wave my white flag in surrender. Yes, I have met my match!
Three or four afternoons a week I welcome these little granddaughters at my door for an afternoon with Grandma. Sometimes I have only one at a time but mostly I have both at once.

Abbi, the older one, is 2 1/2 years old. I have been watching her three afternoons a week since she was three months old. I don't know how she has gotten cuter everyday but she has! Her bright blue eyes and blond hair are just beautiful. Now that she is talking and showing wisdom beyond her years, she's a source of constant entertainment. Most days she wants to have a tea party.
I make up the "tea" using milk and chocolate syrup. Abbi sips it and shivers and declares "it's hot". We can sit for an hour sipping, pouring and nibbling our "crumpets". Abbi can run me ragged in record time all by herself most days. We go from tea party to Candyland, to playing hide and seek in the house, coloring, decorating gingerbread houses or making cupcakes, finding hidden pictures in the Highlights magazine for her age, putting on make-up and painting fingernails, eating applesauce with "pink" sprinkles on it, to playing in the princess castle that stands proudly in the corner of my living room.

Baby Mackayla (Abbi calls her Baby Kayla) is 1 1/2 years old. She is our little preemie, born at 1 lb 14 oz. When I first started watching her we used her feeding tube to give her formula every three hours. I got to be pretty good at keeping her entertained the 45 minutes it took to feed her while connected to the pump. Once she started eating on her own, I shifted gears and now keep a ready supply of Mac and Cheese, and other finger foods to have ready. She still has the feeding tube in her tummy but it's only used at night to give her the extra fluids she didn't take on her own during the day. We hope it can be removed sometime soon. When I have Mackayla by herself, she is an inquiring, sweet little toddler. She will sit on my lap and look at books, play happily with toys, explore the kitchen cabinets, push all the
buttons on the DVD player, stereo and laugh a lot. I look at her and remember her many months in NICU and how her dark eyes would look at me, melting me into a puddle. I still adore those dark eyes. She got them from her daddy, our middle son.

Now, add these two little sweetpeas together at Grandma's and Papa's house. Oh dear! My house turns into baby-central. Suddenly my floor is literally covered with toys, crackers, little girl shoes and carseats, diaper bags and pink coats and hats. (Abbi insists most things in her world are in the color Pink! The suddenly calm atmosphere when there is only one girl at a time becomes a whirlwind of squealing, running, demanding little girls. Abbi and Mackayla go into the pink princess castle/tent and I watch it shake as they rattle it with their hands and voices. They scurry in and out of the tent and the little princesses delight in having each other to play with. For my part, I have to intervene when Abbi decides all the toys are hers or when Mackayla loses her balance and falls over. And, of course, there is a potty chair I'm still trying to bribe Abbi to use (she tells me she just wants to play and uses the potty chair only at her house) and the diapers for Mackayla that she will only let me change if she is standing up! By the time my husband gets home from work and our grown kids come by to retrieve their precious little one's this Grandma is waving the white flag for the day. Dinner is often not even started and a path from the front door is walked only at one's own risk. I think I've even sat at the table propping my head up with my hands and staring off into space as the family starts to gather after their days at work. Yes, I have met my match with these little dolls! I raised five children but I was younger when I did that. Luckily enough I recover fast, getting a head start by falling asleep on the sofa sometimes. By the next day, I'm ever so anxious to watch out the
window for the arrival of the little girls again! Their little faces just make my day and delight me through and through. When the few days go by when I don't see them I go into withdrawl. What a blessing it is to be Grandma!