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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day 3 of 50 Days

Party Day!
Today was the official Birthday Party Day. My parents arrived yesterday, E & M and children arrived and Lolo and D were still here before heading to Arizona. It was a full day of fun!
*Mom and I dashing to West Fargo to pick up the handmade necklaces at Bead Boutique.
*Attending the parent preview of "Beauty and the Beast" put on through Moorhead Community Education and directed by Kelly Gerchak.
*Birthday Party with Everyone! Thai Orchid take-out food is a favorite and again was well received.
*Traditional Chocolate Cake with Fudge Frosting, the same cake and frosting I've had since I was 6, was made and served by my mom. The surprise was that mom had printed lots of pictures of me with my birthday cakes over the years, mounted them on skewers and then put them on the cake. It was so meaningful and sweet!
Lots of pictures of the birthday girl with past birthday cakes mounted on skewers!

*Cards:  A memorable card, the first that I opened, I read aloud.
"You're not old. In fact, let's check with a show of hands. Everyone who thinks the person holding this card is old, raise your hand." All the people around the table quickly raised their hands. It was like they'd planned it! After getting over that surprise, I opened the card. Inside the card was a classroom of students, probably from the 1970's, all raising their hands! Here is the conclusion, "Oh what do they know. They eat paste for God's sake!" It was just too perfect for me, as a kindergarten teacher! 
*Presents:  Of course, the big one arrived last August, my long-awaited Yamaha C-3 Grand Piano! An upcoming trip to NYC with mom is highly anticipated. The tear-jerker prize goes to the present created by the three most important woman in my life - my mama, my sister and my daughter. They created a photo book all about me. It started with baby pictures and ended with a picture of me standing on the shore of the ocean, looking off into the future. Sister said she knew it would be a success if I cried. Well, let's say it was really a success!

*Some dashed to the Swim Meet to watch A in action.
*Some dashed to deliver Lolo and D to the airport.
It was a very full day of love and cheer. There was time to recall past birthdays and time to create memories for remembering in years to come!
Birthdays are good!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Day 2 of Turning 50

Day number two of this 50th birthday celebration held nothing special on the calendar. What I've learned, however, is that just because there is nothing special on the calendar, it doesn't mean the day won't turn out to be special.
Today's celebratory moment was the act of creating two necklaces at the Bead Boutique. This is their website:
Beads on Broadway
My dear mother saw my necklace, created last summer by the same company at the street fair, and said "I want one of those." Considering that moms in their 70's usually have everything they want, I jumped at the chance to create something mama wanted. I had a delightful time perusing all the metal pieces and necklace designs in the shop. I came up with a design for mom with her kids' names and her grandkids. I also created a piece for my mother-in-law with her 9 grandchildren. While I was there, I had fun visiting with the two women in the store. The three of us visited and shared ideas. Creativity is so enhanced when we put our heads together! I did find it funny that one woman said, "Sorry to tell you this, but the grandkids' names are more important than the kids. So if you have to choose when making a necklace, you better do the grandchildren!"

This is my necklace, the inspiration for the necklaces for mom and mom-in-law.
I am happy to say that both mothers were very happy with their gifts. I learned that it truly is better to give than to receive. (Well, almost!)
Happy giving!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Day 1 of 50 Days of Celebrating 50 Years

The BIG CELEBRATION started with a dinner for my book group based on our latest read, "Babette's Feast," by Izak Dinesen. (This is actually a short story from the book Anecdotes of Destiny and Ehrengard  by Dinesen.) My son is a chef and created a menu based on the Feast prepared by Babette. Babette had 12 at her table, I had 10. I did line up candles down the center just like Babette.

This is Al's version of "Blinis Demidoff".  It is made with  Salmon roe, dill sour cream,and a blini. A blini is a little buckwheat pancake. This was served as an hors d'oeuvres with champagne as my friends arrived.

Chef Al is showing the Salmon Caviar.

Lolo decides to try this delicacy!
The most unique ingredient in the meal was turtle. This is a BEFORE picture of $50 worth of turtle meat.  Our chef removed all the meat from the bones and then cooked it and diced into teeny tiny pieces before making it into "Potage a la Tortue et girolles" (Turtle Soup with Chanterelles.)  Chef had been watching the chanterelles in a secret growing spot and we were lucky enough to have them grow to the perfect size just before the feast! The soup was served, just as Babette did, with "Amontillado Sherry." (I did have to go to several liquor stores before finding this exact sherry.) Chef told us that the perfect finish to the soup was pouring the remaining sherry from our glass into our soup bowl when we were just about finished. It was delicious, of course!
Sorry I somehow have no pictures of the soup.

The third course was "Salade de epinard avec gateau au fromage de chevron." (Spinach salad with a small cake of goat cheese.)

Course number four was "Paté de Canard e Faisan fumé en croute et Morilles a la creme." This is an incredibly rich puff pastry filled with a duck/pheasant mixture, complimented with a morel cream sauce and a side of sour carrots and accompanied by the red wine, "Ménage a Trois Red."

Finally, the dessert course arrived with either a glass of a sweet white wine, "Funf Moscato", or a hot cup of decaffeinated coffee.
Bhabas al rhum aux corinthe
Creme de epice et framboise

This is Rum-currant savarin with whipped cream and macerated strawberries. What you can't see is the savarin (it is the little cake) is filled with a cardamom custard. It was the perfect finish to the evening. We were blissfully satisfied but not stuffed. It helps when it takes nearly 3 hours to eat the meal!

We were served by these two delightful young people. They were dressed up in black and white. This is after they were paid in their other black and white!
Thank you to Lolo and D!

"May my food my body maintain,
May my body my soul sustain,
May my soul in deed and word
Give thanks for all things to the Lord."

We began our meal with this prayer, taken from the story, "Babette's Feast." I close this blog with the prayer wishing all of you well-fed bodies and souls.

50 Days of Celebrating 50 Years!

I have decided that a 50th birthday is important enough that one should celebrate it for 50 days. It is an experiment to see what life is like when we look for a celebratory moment every day. Today is officially Day 19 of the 50 days. Let me share with you what fun has been had in big and small ways!

Finished Hutch and Buffet!

Finished! Sorry I didn't include many close-ups.  After completing the hutch part, I realized that mirrors on the back would add light and sparkle to the piece and the room. I searched online and made a few phone calls and had 3 mirrors cut for the back sections of the buffet. Warning! Be sure to allow for clearance of the electrical cord if you measure for a mirror. I ended up having to "push" to get the top mirror section in place and got an ugly CRACK along the top left. Luckily, I had some 12 x 12 mirror tiles downstairs and glued that over the crack. No one can see the problem, but I still know it is there. :(

The light hits this a bit funny in this picture, but you can see a bit of the aging caused by the rubbed stain. The above picture is more true-to-life, but this helps you see the finished top. See the blonde chairs in the background? They are next on the list. Black. Think all black.

Recycle of Hutch and Buffet - continued

You can see the antique brass hardware and the carved country-style flowers in the doors.
This is the buffet piece ready to spray paint black. I removed handles, but didn't removed the doors completely because I wanted the hinges to be black. Note that the top is covered with white paper from a roll I got from a printer. The top will be stained.

Here is a picture of the newly stained top and the flowers on the doors filled in with wood putty. I would be more patient with that now. Fill a bit. Let dry. Fill more. Let dry. Fill more. Let dry. Sand between each and gradually feather the wood putty out. I can still see where the flowers were if I look very closely at the doors.

Here is the spray painted hutch. Next, I lightly sanded the edges to age it. Finally, I rubbed stain over the whole thing to age the entire piece. I used the same stain from the top of the buffet.

Upcycling of a Hutch and Buffet

I love being creative and have more time than money, so upcycling furniture has become a favorite pastime. I have been wanting to share these on my blog and am now going to try this for the first time. I consider myself a "Baby Blogger" so am still learning. Helpful tips on blogging and posting are welcome! I will start by saying that our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a favorite haunt. I have found several furniture pieces at great prices there. This was sitting in two pieces at the store, with no glass and no shelves visible. It was $125 for both pieces. I left and went to the local hardware store and found out the cost of getting glass cut for shelves and the 5 window spaces. It would be about $90. I consulted with DH and he agreed it was still cheaper than anything new. So, I went back to ReStore and paid for the piece, promising to pick it up later that day. DH patiently agreed to meet at the local U-Haul so we could rent a truck for the move. Did you know that a local move is $19.95 plus mileage? Convenient and not too costly and way safer than strapping it to the roof rack like we did a book case once...but that is another story. The cool thing was that when we got to ReStore they told us the man who had brought in the hutch and buffet had dropped off the glass for the doors, sides and shelves that very afternoon! No need to head to the hardware store! $$$ saved! Bless that donor! (They even carefully packed every glass piece in cardboard and wrapped and taped in a blue blanket. Not a chip or crack was found in any piece.) We were soon loaded up and headed home where they garage waited to receive it's new project.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Redshirting" for Kindergarten?

Our local paper had a front page article on why many families choose to have their children wait to start kindergarten until they are 6. I fully agree with the article, particularly the closing sentiment. "I have had families say later that they wish they would have waited to have their child start school, but I have never had a family say they wish they would have started earlier." The academic demands of kindergarten require as much maturity as a child can have. My advice continues to be, wait.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Asking for help

January is a big testing time in kindergarten. The challenge is finding time to work with every student, one-on-one, to determine their knowledge of every letter and sound, number, color, etc. I finally decided to let parents know about this challenge and invite parents to come in to assist anytime during the two critical weeks. I was so worried parents would see me as an incapable teacher who needed their help. What I found was a host of generous parents who were happy to be welcomed and invited in to the classroom. They were glad to have a chance to give of their time and learn more about their child's day. Many, many parents thanked me for the invitation and gave compliments and kudos to me on managing these little people every day. It was truly and win-win situation. My willingness to ask for assistance allowed parents an opportunity to give and me a chance to practice receiving. I encourage all teachers to open their classroom doors to benefit themselves, their students and the families!