Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Work & Witness Trip in Cordova, Alaska

Last April, I blogged about my son, Steve's, trip to Cordova, Alaska, for special church services.  [Click here to read.]  While he was there he also coordinated a return trip in July to do renovations on the church building, and to conduct a Bible School for the children of itinerant fishermen.  A group of 16 from our church [which included my daughter-in-law and 17 year old granddaughter] left on July 17th and returned Monday, July 29th.  They had a great time and loved Alaska as a place to visit, but not to live!  Cordova is pretty remote.

The temperatures ranged from high 50's to mid 60's while they were there, with the sun rising shortly after 5:00 a.m. and setting shortly after 10:00 p.m., [about 17 hours of daylight].  

Below is the steeple of  Cordova Church of the Nazarene where the team did renovations.
In the background is Mt. Eccles.

Steve hard at work.

All work and no play makes Jack Steve a dull boy, so he squeezed in some salmon fishing.

Daughter-in-law, Sharon.  It must have been chilly out on the lake!

Bible School Children.

Below are some of the teens who went on the trip.  My granddaughter, Brianna, is on the far right.

Sign in front of the store that sells tea.

They brought me back a burlap tote bag and a sampler box of Alaska Wild Teas [all herbal teabags]:  4  Cranberry; 4 Wild Rose; 4 Raspberry; and 4 Blueberry.  I'm sipping a cup of the raspberry herbal as I type this post.   Yummy!

Steve also brought me back one of Kimberly Shaw's teacup cards with a teabag inserted.

It's good to have them home, safe and sound, and I'm anxious to hear all the stories they have to tell.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Celebrating Henry Ford's 150th Birthday

Last Thursday, July 25th, a friend and I went to Greenmead Historical Park, in Livonia, Michigan to attend a Henry Ford 150th Birthday Dinner - even though it was a few days before his actual birth date of July 30th [1863].  Happy Birthday, Mr. Ford!  Today has been declared 'Henry Ford Day' in Michigan!

[Photo Courtesy of Carly's Cakes]

Greenmead Historical Park includes the Greek Revival farmhouse, and nine of the original outbuildings that were part of the Joshua Simmons farm established in 1825. Greenmead was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1971, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972. The city purchased Greenmead in 1976 for use as a park. Additional buildings and pre-civil war houses have been moved from other locations to be included in the park. 

The Alexander Blue House, where the Henry Ford Birthday Dinner was held, is situated on the eastern part of the park.  It was built by Judge Alexander Blue.  He and his family resided in it until 1915.  It was donated to the city in 1980, and moved to Greenmead where it was restored to its 1880's appearance.

The Victorian house is beautiful inside and out.

It can accommodate up to 99 people, and was full for the Henry Ford dinner.

Our meal began with with an Edamame [soybean] salad, which was very appropriate given Henry's fondness for soybeans - for eating as well as for industrial products.  In 1941, a Ford prototype car had a body that was entirely plastic made from soybeans, and the seats in Ford's 2011 Explorers were made from soybeans.  Amazing versatility!  The marinated Edamame Salad contained apples, raisins, and grated carrots.  It was yummy.

The main course was fork-tender roast beef, a boneless pork chop, and roasted chicken [I didn't take any chicken].  It was accompanied by mixed vegetables, scalloped potatoes, and a tossed salad.   The beverages were iced tea and coffee.

The two desserts were recipes from the cookbook, Cooking for Henry, which was written by Jan Willemse and Eleanor Eaton.  Mr. Willemse was Henry's personal party chef.  The Devil's Food [Chocolate] Cake was a favorite of Clara's, and the Blueberry Pandowdy was a favorite of Henry's.

After our delicious meal Steven C. Stanford did an interesting presentation on Henry Ford and his family titled, "From Roots to Branches."

I've done a lot of research on Henry and Clara Ford, but Mr. Stanford told us something I didn't know - that Henry invented the charcoal briquette.  For his contribution to barbecuing, he was inducted into the 2012 Barbecue Hall of Fame!    

Over 3,000 people attended birthday festivities last Saturday at Fair Lane Estate - Henry and Clara's home from 1915 to 1950.  The estate has been closed to the public since December 2012 during a transfer of ownership from the University of Michigan to a newly formed non-profit.  But it was re-opened for the day to celebrate Henry's birthday.

[Photo courtesy of Henry Ford Estate]

A tall soy and chocolate chip birthday cake was made in Henry's honor.  It was served to guests in the mansion's former indoor swimming pool room - which was later converted to a public restaurant.

[Photo Credit:  Jarrad Henderson/Detroit Free Press]

But back to Greenmead... I've discovered I've been missing out on several activities at this quaint historical site that's just 30 miles from my house:  A Presidential Tea; Peter Rabbit's Adventures; and a Mid-Summer's Night Tea.  Thankfully two more teas are scheduled for 2013 that I can attend:  A Highland Tea on October 19th and A Christmas Tea on December 12th.  I'll be sure to share photos and details!

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Yankee Doodle Dandy Tea at O'Mara's

Tuesday, July 23rd, was my fifth consecutive month to return to O'Mara's Restaurant for Afternoon Tea.  July's theme was Yankee Doodle Dandy, and it was 'just dandy' in every way possible!
They have recently named the dining room where the teas are held, The Avalon Tea Garden. Avalon is a girl's name of Celtic origin, and it's also the legendary island, famous for its beautiful apples, where King Arthur and other characters were carried at death.  

O'Mara's new signage advertising their Afternoon Teas.

Patriotic tablescapes for July's five Tuesday teas.

Our table.

My place setting.

I ordered Hazelnut Tea [a black tea], while others at our table ordered the Cranberry Tisane. The Hazelnut was mild and not overpowering.  This month the kitchen staff made a tea concentrate instead of putting tea sacks in our teapots.  It eliminated the removal of a messy tea sack from the teapot at the table.

Our first course was the Soup Course which had two offerings:  Irish Cream of Potato, and Chilled Gazpacho.  Since I had never had Gazpacho, I chose that, and it was delicious.  Chef Anita posted the recipe on the restaurant's website:  It's so perfect for summer, and so healthy!

Chef Anita demonstrated how to make individual Apple Tarts [which were on the menu that day].   To make a canned apple filling taste homemade she suggested simply adding 1 freshly sliced apple to the canned filling along with spices [cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg], and raisins, if desired.  To keep the crumb topping from getting soggy she uses breadcrumbs instead of flour.

The Savory/Sandwich Course had five selections:  Pimento Cheese Sandwich; Asparagus Roll-up; Roast Beef with Blue Cheese Sauce [open faced];  Roasted Sweet Corn Bread Cheddar Cheese Muffin with Maple Butter; and Turkey Cranberry Sage Cheese Sandwich.  I enjoyed the variety of savories, as opposed to all sandwiches.

The Main Entree was O'Mara's House Smoked Beef Brisket served with George Washington's BBQ sauce.   The printed menu stated: "I can't tell a lie - it's delicious!"  And it was!

No one ever leaves an O'Mara's tea party hungry.  The slices of Beef Brisket were followed by Brie in Puff Pastry with fresh Sage, Orange Zest and Pecans, served with Fresh Fruit and Crackers.

The Dessert Course was a yummy Blueberry Smoothie; Michigan Cherry Scones with Devonshire Cream;  and an Apple Pie Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream.

My girlfriend, Lori, treated her niece, Diane, to Afternoon Tea in honor of her birthday, and Diane's daughter, Ashley, also attended.  Ashley is very creative and made their fascinators.

L-R: Linda P., Me, Ashley, Diane, and Lori.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Reflection...

"We are like clay jars in which this treasure is stored.  The real power comes from God and not from us.  We often suffer, but we are never crushed.  Even when we don't know what to do, we never give up.  In times of trouble, God is with us, and when we are knocked down, we get up again."  II Corinthians 4:7-9   ~ Contemporary English Version

Clay pots are made from a common, unpretentious substance.  It's what's inside that counts. When our 'earthen vessels' are filled with God's great love, they become treasures beyond price. It's not anything we can take credit for, rather it's God working in our imperfect clay pots to reveal Himself to a needy world. 

I love the prayer that Patsy Clairmont included in her book, Tea with Patsy Clairmont.  She refers to God as the 'Potter' based on Isaiah 64:8 "...We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand..."

"Dear Potter,
We realize we have been jarred by life, causing brokenness.  Some feel like shards of china instead of the exquisite and intriguing vessels that we want to be.  We want to be pots that, when poured, tipped, dropped, or spilled, issue forth streams of life.  Please, You who rework clay to repair damage, mend us...   Amen."

May God bless your week!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Life of Beatrix Potter in Photos

Beatrix Potter was an English author and illustrator of imaginative children's books that featured animal characters, with Peter Rabbit the most famous.  Even though she has been deceased for 70 years, she remains one of the world's best-selling, and best-loved children's authors, with her 23 books selling over a 100 million copies, that have been translated into 35 languages, as well as in braille.

Helen Beatrix Potter was born in Kensington, London, England on July 28, 1866.  Her parents, Rupert and Helen Potter, provided a privileged home and lifestyle for Beatrix and her brother, Bertram, who was six years younger, but she had few friends beyond her extended family, and numerous small pets.

Childhood Photos 
[Internet  photo sources have been given wherever possible]

An 1874 photo below of Beatrix with her parents.  Both of her parents were artistically talented.  Her mother was said to be very demanding.

[Photo Credit: Frederick Warne & Co.]

Age 6

[Photo credit:  Frederick Warne & Co.]

Beatrix with her dog, Spot.

Beatrix, age 12, with brother Bertram,  parents and dog, Spot.

[Photo Credit:  Frederick Warne & Co.]

Below, Beatrix, age 15, with Spot, her Springer Spaniel, taken in Scotland.  For most of the first 15 years of her life she spent summer holidays away from London, in Scotland.  Her first summer holiday in the Lake District, was in 1882.

[Photo Credit:  Frederick Warne and Co.]

She was educated by three private governesses until she was 18.  Her art lessons began in 1878 [age 12], and she received her first art award in 1880. 

[Photo Credit: Wikipedia]

In 1885 [age 19] Beatrix became seriously ill with rheumatic fever, and had to have her long hair cut short.  

[Photo credit: Princeton University Library]

Beatrix with her father, and brother, Bertram.

[Photo credit:  Bloomsbury/BNPS]

Beatrix with her father and Bertram.

Beatrix bought her pet rabbit, Benjamin Bouncer, at a pet shop in 1890.

[photo credit: Penguin Group, London]

Beatrix sold six watercolor paintings in 1892, and the Tale of Peter Rabbit [commercial edition] was first published by Frederick Warne and Company in 1902. It was an immediate success.

Her book editor, Norman Warne, proposed to her in July 1905 [age 39], despite the disapproval of her parents.  He died suddenly of leukemia a month later on Aug. 25.

Below, Beatrix at the backdoor of Hill Top - summer of 1913.  She bought the 17th century farmhouse in 1905 with the royalties from her first books.  When she died, she left it to the National Trust with the stipulation that it be kept exactly as she left it, complete with her furniture and china.  It opened to the public in 1946.

She bought Castle Cottage Farm in 1909, opposite Hill Top, and it became her main Lake District home after she married.  Hill Top became her private studio and workshop.

She left 15 farms and over 4,000 acres of land to the National Trust upon her death on December 22, 1943, at age 77.

[Photo credit:  Penguin Group, London]

Beatrix's Engagement to William Heelis - 1912.  Her parents disapproved of him too! 

[Photo credit:  National Trust, London]

Below wedding photo of Beatrix [age 47] to William on October 14, 1913 in Kensington, London. They were happily married for 30 years.  She never had children, but she was very involved with William's large family.

[Photo credit:  National Trust, London]

She liked to keep her identity as Beatrix Potter a secret, but always welcomed American fans who made the journey to Hill Top, because she felt American readers had an understanding of her work more than British readers.

[Photo Credit: National Trust]

Below, a 1938 painting of Beatrix by Delmar Banner.  She is holding a show catalog for the judging of Herdwick sheep.  I bought a copy of this painting at the National Portrait Gallery when I visited London in 2007. 

Beatrix reintroduced Herdwick sheep, a threatened native breed particularly suited to the Lake District mountain areas, and she was the first woman elected President of the Herdwick Sheep Breeder's Association which showed the high regard the farming community had for her.   She was a prize-winning breeder of  Herdwick sheep, and won major prizes at local shows.  Beatrix was always happiest when she was with her farm animals.

[Photo credit:  National Portrait Gallery]

The Beatrix Potter Society was founded in 1980 to promote the study and appreciation of her life and works.

I wish I could have concluded this post with a photo of Beatrix Potter sipping a cup of tea, but there was none to be found online.   I'm certain she was a tea drinker given her British roots, and the fact that so many of her animal illustrations are tea themed.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing the life of Beatrix Potter.  Data varied, so I hope my dates are correct. This is only a fraction of her accomplishments. Beatrix Potter was an amazing woman, with incredible talent and abilities.