I’m a little late writing this post, as Memorial Day was a little over a week ago, yet my thoughts on it keep stirring…and I cannot make peace with them.

It seems a time in history that our American society focuses more on our own happiness and self-gratification than on making contributions to improve humanity.  It seems a time that we focus more on the celebration aspect of holidays than on the true meaning.

Every Memorial Day, my husband and I take our two daughters (who are currently 4 and 7 years old) to our local Memorial Day parade.  And every year we explain exactly what Memorial Day means.  Memorial Day is a time to remember those who have sacrificed all that they have for our country, for the values we hold dear.  In a word, freedom.  For us, it isn’t about trips to the beach or barbecues, it really is about the sacrifice.  Although neither of us has served, we come from families that have and know those who do.

So as we watch the parade make its way up the hill in our little town, we teach our children to stand as the first American flag of the parade approaches, right hand upon heart….to stand as the veterans pass us in historic cars or Jeeps….to clap and cheer for the World War II veterans who may or may not make it to the next Memorial Day parade….to wave and thank all veterans who pass us, solemnly aware of why they are in fact in the parade.  And we hope that we remind them of the cost of all that we have today.

I love reading.  Loved it as a kid, love it today.  And as a parent, I’ve always hoped that my love of reading would be something my children would inherit.  Little did I know that hope might one day become a battle.

My seven-year old LOVES reading.  It is, perhaps, her favorite activity.  Every night it’s a struggle to get her to put down her book and turn out the light.  “Five more minutes…please?”  The plea of five more minutes turns into ten which turns into fifteen and then twenty.  It would quickly become three hours if I let it.  Fortunately, she’s not quite gotten to the devious stage, where one might grab a flashlight and read under the covers (as though reading could ever be a devious undertaking!).

Tonight we battled again, although a bit less of a struggle than usual.  I gave her fifteen more minutes and told her exactly what time she needed to put down the book, press play on her alarm clock for music and turn out the light.  Seriously, I know her M.O. and still placed the responsibility of putting the book down into her hands?  Have I not learned anything?  Thirty minutes later, I walked past her door and found the light still on.  Should I have been surprised?  Uh, no.  I feigned it anyway. “Why on earth are you still reading?”  I asked.  “Mom, I was just so engrossed in the book, I completely forgot to look at the clock,” she told me.  “Well, it’s time, honey ” I told her as I pulled up her covers and tucked her in.  For once, when I went to take the book from her, she did not resist.  And after she used the word “engrossed”, I could do nothing but squeeze her to bits.  How cute is that?

And guess what?  She chose to listen to stories rather than music as Jim Weiss’ enchanting voice whisked her away to a Tropical Island in Good Night.  I am not surprised at all.  That’s how I got my bookworm to sleep.

This week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released updated recommendations for car seat safety.  I am thrilled to see that this is finally being addressed by the AAP.   The question I have is: why did they wait so long to issue these changes?  It’s not new “news”.  My children are nearly eight and five years old and both remained rear-facing until they were two years old.  And I know many families who kept their children rear-facing for even longer periods of time.  Both of my children will also remain in booster seats until they meet the height and weight limits.

I’ve always believed that car seats are our last line of defense for our children against reckless, distracted drivers.  And, let’s face it, drivers are more distracted, rushed and reckless than they have ever been.  And we are on the roads with our children more than we have ever been.  Let’s keep our children safe.

I love wool.  There.  I said it.  It has such a primitive smell, look and feel to it.  Handling it is such a wonderful tactile experience, whether it’s uncarded, carded, spun, dyed, wet-felted, needle-felted or washing machine-felted.  My latest wool obsession using the washing machine to felt wool sweaters has taken me to multiple thrift stores and found me exploding with the desire to create, create, create.

A few weeks ago, I purchased several sweaters at my FAVORITE thrift store and proceeded to throw them into the washing machine on hot with detergent.  After a full cycle, each sweater was about 1/3 of its original size:

The shots of these sweaters are only after they’d been felted.  In my excitement to get them into the washing machine to felt them, I failed to take “before” pictures.  (I did, however, take pictures of my most recent purchases.)

I settled in to start creating.  I wanted some kind of banner to hang on the front door for Valentine’s Day.  Something very cozy-looking.  I chose to begin cutting hearts out of the felted sweaters and then stitched them one on top of another.

Cutting and stitching together hearts.

Ivory background for hearts banner...or another heart?

All hearts. A warm welcome for guests.

And my first recycled sweater project is complete!

Many years ago…maybe ten…I baked my first pie.  It was pumpkin and it was tasty, but it was not a crust made from scratch.  You see, I’d been told by many that making piecrust from scratch was too difficult and time-consuming.  And that Pillsbury  refrigerated crust IS awfully tasty.  I’d hear horror stories about others spending hours working on piecrust only to have it fall apart before they could get it in the pie plate.  And it didn’t taste so good.  That was really enough for me.

Until this weekend.

I had picked up a magazine at a Tractor Supply Co. a few months back called Mary Janes Farm.  What a great little magazine about country life and organic living!  Loved it.  Anyway, there was a recipe for a homemade piecrust that didn’t sound too difficult.  I set aside the issue for when I had a chunk of time to work on it.  That chunk of time came this past weekend.

I knew I had apples….yummy granny smiths and galas (my favorites!).  And I was fairly certain I had all of the ingredients.  So I set out to give it a try.

It was easy!  You wouldn’t believe how easy.  Flour, salt, butter, cream cheese…and that was it.  It rolled out easily, although I chose to make it a little thicker than Pillsbury would approve of.  And it was tasty, too.  I’m not trying to toot my own horn, this was my husband’s proclamation.  He LOVED it!  All I did was follow the recipe.  I certainly can’t take credit for how tasty it turned out to be.

 

My first homemade piecrust...unbaked.

 

 

And baked.

 

 

I know I’ve already talked about how much I love our Landis market.  Each time I shop there, I’m reminded how truly remarkable small-town living is.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything…except maybe a few acres we could homestead.  But that’s another post.

Yesterday, I stopped at Landis with the kids just to pick up a few things.  As we were checking out, the cashier, a kind older gentleman, smiled at the kids and asked “How would you like to see some bubbles?”  I don’t think any of us could have anticipated what he was going to do, but he pulled out a small bottle of bubbles from his apron and began blowing them for the kids!  So as he was ringing up our groceries, the kids were laughing and popping bubbles with such joy.  Such an unexpected simple pleasure from our local grocery store.  That wouldn’t happen at any of the bigger chain supermarkets or “super” center department stores.

I love it.

I like to think we live in “the country”.  We’re surrounded by farms and very gently rolling hills.  I really should post some photos of the bucolic countryside.  Living in the country provides us with the wonderful opportunity to truly “buy local”.

One of my favorite places to shop is Bolton’s Turkey Farm.  And we do go there on a fairly regular basis.  Oh, how good it smelled in there…just like Thanksgiving!  Mmmmmm.

Today I stopped for a roasting chicken.  Bolton’s roasting chickens are delicious.  I wish I could share with you virtually how wonderful it smelled in my oven.  The fresh garlic cloves I sliced and placed in its cavity permeated every inch of the chicken.  It was spectacularly delicious.  I can’t wait for Thanksgiving to enjoy one of their tasty turkeys!