Sunday, July 23, 2006

Hardy Hibiscus

I planted this beautiful plant about 4 years ago. It grows to over 6 feet high and dies back completely each year. This year the plant is literally loaded with buds and the blooms are the size of dinner plates! This is one of my favorite plants.

Postcards From The World

In today's fast-paced world the art of letter writing has definitely taken a back seat to emails, instant messaging and text messaging. Not only has our penmanship suffered, but the language itself has changed with the effort to write the most words with the fewest amount of letters. IMHO* this change is mostly good. It allows us to keep in touch with family and friends almost instantaneously without having to get off the computer to use the telephone (for those poor schmucks still using dial up - LOL). Or, if you're like me and are on the phone 90% of your day, you certainly don't feel like spending an hour on the phone talking to your mother/friend/co-worker/whatever.

So why is it that when I go to the post office and see an actual letter, my heart sort of skips a beat with anticipation? I've thought about this and I believe it's because someone has actually thought of me and taken the time to set their thoughts to paper and send it off. Unfortunately this is a rarity in today's world. Even Christmas and birthday cards have been replaced with e-cards. And I'm just as guilty as the next person.

I remember when my parents would take us on vacation every summer to such exotic places as the Black Hills or Yellowstone Park. Mom would buy postcards for us kids to send to grandma or friends and I always picked the cheesiest ones I could find. You know the ones with the giant rabbit with horns on it's head, or the one of Godzilla storming down a city street with the words "Wish You Were Here" on the front? Yep. Those were my picks.

Postcards are a way of saying "I'm thinking of you while I'm here having fun". They're kind of like text messaging - with a picture. That's why when I saw Meeta's idea about bloggers from all over the world exchanging postcards anonymously I was instantly hooked. Who doesn't like getting postcards? And to get one from someone whom you only know vicariously through their respective blogs - well, that would be outstanding!

Count me in, Meeta!

*In My Humble Opinion

I've been trying to upload a picture to post with this entry, but Blogger seems to be having a bad day. Sheesh.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Egg Salad Sandwiches

I've discovered that the only way Q will eat hard boiled eggs is by making Deviled Eggs (or, as Quinten calls them, Paprika Eggs). So, over the 4th, I bought two dozen eggs and boiled a dozen up to make his favorite Deviled Eggs. Alas! Fresh eggs are a bitch to peel. I ended up with only about 6 eggs that were "good" enough to use as Deviled Eggs with rest looking like they'd been in a fight with a meat grinder.

What does one do with less than perfect eggs? One makes egg salad, of course. Its pretty had to screw up egg salad, right? It's just eggs, mayo, mustard, pickle relish, salt and pepper, right? I've made it that way for over 30 years. So when this little gem of a recipe landed in my RSS feed box on the day I was going to make egg salad, I just knew I had to try it. I'm so glad I did! The mustard powder gives it that nice "mustardy" flavor without the added vinegar that prepared mustard has. And the dill weed compliments the egg and mayo flavor the way my pickle relish never could. I knew I had a winner with this recipe, and I just had to share it!

So, here is -

Egg Salad Sandwiches
Submitted by Sara Slade at

8 hard cooked eggs, diced
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dried onion flakes - I used about 2 Tblsp. finely chopped onions - use your own judgement. Dried onions can sometimes be over-powering.
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dill weed
8 slices of bread

In a bowl, gently mix the eggs, mayo, onion, salt, mustard powder, garlic powder, pepper and dill. Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight (This step is important to fully develop the flavors). To serve, spread equal amounts on 4 slices of bread and top with the remaining slices to make sandwiches (well *duh*).

Try it. I think you'll agree that you can build a better egg salad sandwich!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Amish Macaroni Salad

Well, I'm not quite done with obligations this's our turn to help serve the meal at the Chamber monthly meeting. I've been asked to bring two salads today and I've chosen this macaroni salad and the fruit dip I made for Dustin's going-away party served with apples, strawberries and grapes.

I really like this macaroni salad because (1) it makes a LOT; (2) it's easy; (3) it's colorful; and (4) it tastes very good! The next time you're asked to bring a salad to some event, give this one a try.

Amish Macaroni Salad
from Allrecipes by Connie0751

2 cups elbow macaroni
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 tablespoons dill pickle relish
2 cups creamy salad dressing (e.g. Miracle Whip) I just use Mayo
3 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
3/4 cup white sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon celery seed

1. Bring a pot of lightly salted water to boil. Add macaroni and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, stir together the eggs, onion, celery, red pepper and relish. In a small bowl, stir together the salad dressing, mustard, white sugar, vinegar, salt and celery seed. Pour over the vegetables and stir in macaroni until well blended. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

I'm Back!!!

Whew! June was a busy month! First we had the Rodman Hillbilly Days with horseshoes, kids' carnival games, bingo, pork tenderloin supper and an auction. Quinten liked the dunk tank the best! It was a day of fun, sun, beer and food. Nothing better than that!

Then the town started REALLY cranking up for the Sesqui celebrations over the 4th of July. Everyone went the extra mile to get their businesses and homes ready for the deluge of people who would be coming into town for the All School Reunion. We fed around 700 people on Saturday night who came from all over the country to attend this event alone. The Antique Tractor Ride had 98 entrants which actually shocked the committee members. They didn't think there would be that many people interested in doing it. Rain fell when they started out, but the sun came out with a vengeance later. I saw a lot of red, sunburned faces that evening at the street dance.

Almost every organization had a food booth running on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Cattlemen even cooked steak sandwiches uptown Friday and Saturday night during the TWO street dances. Three, if you count the Stingrays which performed out at the Country Club on Saturday night as well.

Entertainment was everywhere - Celebration Iowa singers, Redemption Singers, Stingrays, Standing Hampton, Chaos on Wheels, the Pacesetters Drill Team, and the excellent DJ for Friday night's street dance. Our fireworks display was done on Sunday night and it was excellent! West Bend always has had a really good fireworks display, but we out-did ourselves this year.

Our annual July 4th auction (which is a Herculean effort - thank God I'm not on that committee!) was a smashing success, raising over $11,000.00. This money all goes towards next year's fireworks display. I'm glad people enjoy watching fireworks because we spend a lot of money to put them on. All the fundraisers throughout the year go towards this one event. Like I said - West Bend has a really good fireworks display. It's kind of our signature event.

Many families had their family reunions during this weekend as well, so the town tripled in size (at least) for four whole days. It was fun, but the exhaustion was etched on the faces of many people in the days that followed. I'm finally reaching the bottom of some of the piles of work at the office and Quinten went home. Normalcy should return soon. No more obligations. No more extra people. No more fundraisers. Whew!

P.S. - DH just reminded me that we did the Fireworks Golf Tournament as well in early June. I must have blocked that stressful event out of my memory. LOL