Monday, May 25, 2020

Memorial Day 2020

I hope you are enjoying Memorial Day while reflecting on those who gave their lives for our freedoms.  It was very moving to watch the coverage of President Trump at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery today, and to hear Taps being played.

Earlier today the photo below popped up in my Facebook memories.  It was from 2015.  My grandchildren are posing by a patriotic photo collage Jeremy made of the men in our family who've served in the military.  In the upper left corner is his uncle, Navy; the upper right corner is his paternal grandfather, Army; lower left corner is his Dad, Air Force, and lower right corner is his maternal grandfather, Marines.  Two served during the Vietnam War and two during WWII.  All came home safely.  The flag was from my Dad's coffin when he passed away in 2011.

Today was another beautiful sunny, 85 degree day.  We took the grill out of storage and invited son, Steve, over for a cookout at 3:00 o'clock.  Chicken Kabobs, Georgia Corn on the Cob, Pasta Salad, and Fruit Salad.  Yum!  Steve is a bachelor this week while his wife and daughter are in Florida.  

Saturday was great-granddaughter Evie's third birthday.  We left at 10:00 a.m. following behind our daughter and son-in-law traveling to Grand Ledge, MI - about 100 miles west of our house.  Originally it was going to be a drive-by birthday parade, but the weather was so nice, Tiffany [my granddaughter] set up chairs on the front lawn.  There was only the four of us in addition to Tiffany, John, 'the birthday girl' and her little sister.  

When we arrived Evie was outside enjoying her new Schwinn tricycle that she received from her parents.

Below is my favorite picture of all - she's holding up her three little fingers to show us that she's three years old.

~ Opening her presents ~ 

~ Tiffany, Evie, and Juliette ~

John, Tiffany, Evie and Juliette

~ Dave and Lori ~

We stayed a couple of hours and then left.  On our way out of town we stopped for an ice cream at Lickety Split.  In spite of the Coronavirus restrictions, it was a wonderful holiday weekend.

Be safe and stay well!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Sunday Reflection

Summer-like weather has finally arrived in Michigan.  Woohoo!  We had a high of 82 degrees today with sunny skies.  It was so nice to open all the windows and let the fresh air in. 

With winter weather behind us and the governor reopening the state in phases, building has finally begun on our new church building.  Below are some pictures taken when the footings were being poured.  Steve [my son and the pastor] posted them on Facebook.

The filming of today's Sunday morning sermon was done at the building site.  How thrilling it was to watch it on my computer screen.  It was titled Footings & Foundations.  Steve gave an analogy about building our lives on the secure foundation of Jesus Christ, and allowing Him to be 'The Master Builder.'  If you have an interest you can listen to his sermon here.

While many churches worshipped in their sanctuaries today for the first time in weeks, we continued to rely on the Internet.  Before the pandemic, we worshipped in a school but that venue is no longer available to us.  Another local church has extended an invitation to share their facilities, but details are still being finalized.

Earlier today my son Jeremy and his family went to Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, MI where my dad and mom are buried.  My dad was a Marine who served in the South Pacific during WWII. Look at the rows upon rows of military veterans who served our country to preserve the freedoms we enjoy.  So grateful for their sacrifice and commitment.

When I look at my Dad's grave I picture in my mind Christ's second coming and the words found in I Thessalonians 4:16-17: "For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first."  What a sight that will be!  "After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever."  I sure don't want to miss that grand occasion!

~ Izzy, Landon and Ellie ~

~ Jeremy and Samantha ~

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday weekend.  

Be safe and stay well!

Friday, May 22, 2020

A Holiday Weekend

With the Coronavirus forcing work layoffs and quarantines for two months, a long weekend isn't as appreciated as it normally would be, yet Memorial Day weekend kicks-off the summer season even though summer doesn't officially begin until June 20th. Everyone looks forward to warmer temperatures and outdoor activities which hopefully we'll all be able to enjoy soon.

Warm weather has been slow arriving in Michigan. We only had one day in April that reached the 7o's, and the next day it was back down to 55 degrees.  And so far, May has only had six days in the 70's. Today it's 62 degrees and overcast, but it looks like we may finally see 80 degree temps on Sunday and into next week.   The grass is green and everybody's in the mood for planting flowers.  

My hubby and I went to a large nursery yesterday, along with a lot of other people.  Even though very busy, social distancing and wearing masks was still enforced.  It was great to see the vast array of beautiful annual flowers available for sale.  We bought red geraniums for the front porch planter, and planted them today.

If the weather decides to take a nosedive and a frost warning is issued [like it did a couple of weeks ago], the porch will protect them.

We love hanging the American flag outside.

Unbeknownst to me, our daughter-in-law and granddaughter both went shopping for plants yesterday too - in other parts of the state.  Samantha had success and was able to buy her flowers, but Tiffany said her nursery was sparse.  She posted the photo below on Facebook and said it reminded her of the toilet paper aisle at the grocery store.  ;-)  

This would normally be the weekend of my city's annual garage sale, held in the City Hall parking structure, but the virus has nixed it this year.   

In my last post I mentioned that Adagio Teas sent me some Masters Teas to sample and review.

Since I'm partial to green teas right now, I decided to try the Shincha Genmaicha tea first.

I loved this tea!  In fact, after sampling it I ordered some.  Genmaicha is a classic Japanese tea, but what makes this masters premium tea so special is that it was just harvested last month, so it's very fresh.

Before I looked at any descriptions or read any reviews, I wanted to smell and taste the tea on my own first.  The dry aroma was very distinct. The smell of the roasted rice was definitely prominent, along with a light grassy smell.

It's a very smooth, delicate tasting tea, with no overpowering vegetal taste.  The roasted rice produces a nutty taste.  I could drink this tea all day long!

The website description:  The fine roasted and puffed rice [which resembles popped corn] balances perfectly with the tender young leaves.  The nuttiness of the rice enhances the soft taste of the tea, with a hint of crispness in the finish.

The tea produces a light green liquor, and the infused leaf is visible above.  I highly recommend this tea.

Shizuoka, Japan where it is grown, is the largest tea producing region in Japan.  Green tea plantations date back to 1241.

I read an article this morning stating green teas have higher levels of some compounds that scientists believe have positive effects on mental health.  It has been found to improve brain function in healthy people.  According to many studies green tea can impact the brain in three ways: reduce anxiety; cognition by benefiting memory and attention; and brain function, specifically memory.  

That being said, I'm off to make myself another cup of green tea!

Be safe and stay well!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Quarantine Activities

What are you doing while homebound?  I've baked two birthday cakes this week.  My son-in-law's birthday is today and his favorite cake is Carrot with Cream Cheese frosting. They just picked it up a few minutes ago.  I read that a box cake can taste like a scratch cake if milk is used instead of water, butter instead of cooking oil and 2 egg yolks, in addition to the number of eggs called for in the instructions.  I tried it, so I hope it's good.  In my opinion, Duncan Hines is the best box mix and the only one that I use.

I received a phone call from a friend asking if I'd be willing to make a Chocolate Mound cake for a former staff member at the church were I used to work.  That particular cake was a favorite of his.  The cake was picked up earlier today also. 

My great-granddaughter, Evelyn Rose, turns three next Saturday, and we'll be participating in a drive-by birthday party parade.  Another cake might be in my future.  My daughter said she bought Evie a child's watering can, seed packets, and gardening gloves, so I'm thinking a dirt cake [crushed oreo cookies as dirt and vanilla pudding as filling] would be perfect and very kid friendly.

I recently told a friend I haven't found the lockdown terribly difficult.  As much as I love my job, there's not many places to spend a paycheck right with all the stores closed.  She replied, "Shop on the Internet."  So I have been doing just that - mostly E-bay and Etsy. 

This is my newest teacup - blue and white, of course!  It's made in Bavaria, Germany and backstamped Moschendorf.  I bought it because at some point I hope I'm able to do a Teas Around the World series at The Whitney, and this cup and saucer will be perfect to represent Germany.  The pattern is called Strawflower.  

The porcelain factory dates back to 1878.

Below is a beautiful teapot to match the teacup currently on E-bay, but I'm not willing to pay $150 so I'm just admiring it.

As mentioned previously, my granddaughter, Brooke, is a 2020 High School graduate. I saw this T-shirt for her online and ordered it.  It even came in her school colors of red and white. I'm doing my part to help get the economy moving again!  ;-)

The pictures below were taken when teacher's from her school delivered a yard sign.

I was recently contacted by Adagio Teas about sampling some of their new Masters-teas. Five teas arrived by mail a couple of days ago.  Two are green teas from Japan [Genmaicha and Sencha]; Rohini First Flush from Darjeeling, India; and two from China [Bai Hao Yin Zhen white tea and Shi Feng Long Jing a green tea.]  I'll be reviewing them on my blog soon.

Be safe and stay well!

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Mother's Day Reflections 2020

Mother's Day 2020 was yet another significant date affected by COVID-19, but it was enjoyable nonetheless.

Youngest son, Jeremy, lives on acreage with plenty of space between neighbors, so he invited Jerry and I over for an afternoon outdoors - a 'Corona-cookout' he called it, followed by a bonfire.  He kept close tabs on Michigan weather [which has leaned more toward winter than spring lately], and said last Wednesday, May 6th, was the best day for outdoor activities.  A 60 degree, sunny day was forecasted with an 8:30 p.m. sunset.   And for once the meteorologist got it right!

Jerry and I have been diligent about following social distancing rules and sheltering in place.  Gloves and face masks have been worn whenever we've ventured out, but as Mother's Day approached, we bent the rules a little by accepting Jeremy's invitation.

We arrived at their house around 4:00 o'clock.  Our daughter-in-law, Samantha, had a wonderful meal prepared that required Jeremy being the grill master [chicken kabobs]. Yum!

While Jeremy grilled, the grandkids enjoyed their swings and trampoline.

We ate on the deck, and after dinner Jeremy built a bonfire.  We visited and Izzy played her ukulele for us.  [Jeremy's house/deck is visible in the photo below.]

[Jeremy and Samantha]


[Jerry and Me]

It was such a fun afternoon/evening.  Just before the sun went down we headed for home.  It was a dose of 'happy medicine' which everyone needs during this pandemic. They sent me home with a beautiful, fragrant bouquet of flowers and a gift card [for whenever the stores open up again].

On Saturday afternoon, my daughter, Lori, phoned to say she and her husband were on their way over to deliver a Mother's Day gift.  Since she's in a medical profession and has been exposed to the virus [but thankfully never contracted it], they stayed outside and I talked to them from the front porch.   There weren't any hugs or kisses.  😥

They brought me a gorgeous red geranium plant to go in a ceramic pot on my front porch. For now it's sheltered in the garage because we've had snow flurries and sub-freezing temps the last few days.  

Mother's Day morning she sent a text with an attached picture of the two of us in London, England, five years ago on Mother's Day.  It brought back such wonderful memories.

My middle child, Steve, posted a picture on Facebook that I didn't even know existed.  Last year on Father's Day he called me up front to pray a combination prayer for all the fathers in our congregation, followed by the benediction.  He said even though the picture was poor quality in terms of clarity, it was a picture he loved.  His youngest daughter, Brooke, was on one side of him and I was on the other.  [Whoever took the picture wasn't praying! ;-)]

We had the virtual Zoom tea at 1:00 o'clock [that I blogged about yesterday], then I cleared the table and put things away to get ready for Steve, Sharon, and Brooke's arrival.  Last year on Mother's Day our entire family was together at Villa Penna - an awesome Italian Banquet Center.

This year, however, they weren't open for public dining due to the Coronavirus, so they came up with a Mother's Day catered/carry-out meal that served five.  Steve picked it up at 2:30 and they arrived at our house with the feast at 3:00.

We went from a fancy virtual tea party with china and linens to aluminum carry-out containers on the table in two short hours! ;-)  In my defense, I did use placemats and nice water goblets!  There was food galore - much more than would serve five, and it was so delicious.

Brooke set the timer on my iPhone to take the group picture below.  Her generation and even younger are so tech savvy.

I'm trying to remember all the food: Two kinds of soup, including Italian Wedding; Tossed Salad with two dressings; Focaccia Bread; Meat-stuffed Pasta Shells; Mostaccioli; Breaded Chicken Cutlets; Baked Ham with a Pineapple Sauce; Green Beans; and Potatoes Anna.  I sent all the leftovers home with Steve, but kept the Potatoes Anna for myself. ;-)  We had the treats from the virtual tea party for dessert.

They stayed for a couple of hours and then left so they'd be home in time for our weekly Zoom family session at 7:30.   They truly were 'care givers' on Mother's Day, nourishing both body and spirit.

I didn't get to see granddaughter, Tiffany, and her two precious daughters, Evie and Juliette, but I'll share a picture she posted on Facebook.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful family.

Jerry and I are back in quarantine mode now for its duration.  I'll close this post by sharing an adorable tea-themed Mother's Day graphic that my friend, Joy, shared on her Facebook page.  I hope your Mother's Day was special whether you were being celebrated, or you were celebrating your mother.

Be safe and stay well!