Upping My Coffee Game

It’s a well established fact that I am just not a coffee drinker.

The smell is heavenly – but the taste has always let me down.

My kids, however, all drink coffee.

And not just any coffee – but good coffee. That’s why they make their own when they are here.

The only time I make coffee is when my parents come to visit and I pull my little vintage percolator and attempt to brew a pot. They’ve always said it was “fine”.

To be honest. I never even think about coffee except to make sure I have some in the freezer and half & half in the fridge when the kids are home.

So when Peter brought a bunch of friends down to help tear down the hovel, coffee was the last thing on my mind. At least until they staggered in the kitchen Saturday morning with bleary eyes and mumbling “Coffee?”

I went into full on panic mode and grabbed my little vintage peculator which looked grossly undersized and frantically tried to remember how to make coffee.

I don’t think I succeeded by the number of mugs full of coffee that were left on the table when they went outside.

The next day I texted my oldest son – the one known in our family as the connoisseur of fine brew – and asked him to teach my how to make a good cup o’ joe.

He took the challenge seriously and began lessons the very next time he was home.

I will admit he looked uncertain when I pulled out my little vintage percolator but gamely tried it.

He immediately dumped the pot.

Lesson 1 – when coffee is boiled it becomes bitter. Bitter is not good.

He then introduced me to the French Press <insert heavenly music> which is the easiest and almost dummy-proof way to make coffee.

As he carefully measured the coffee grounds and started the water boiling, he began explaining the different kinds of coffee, pros and cons of coffee beans and already ground coffee and how to tell when your coffee is old and why nobody wants to drink the three year coffee in my freezer.

Lesson 2 – Nobody likes old coffee. Old coffee is not good.

I listened intently as I watched him take the boiling water off the burner, let it sit for a minute to bring the temp down (lesson number 1!) and poured it over the ground coffee.

He then told Siri to set a timer for three minutes, and continued my education on all things coffee. Did you know there’s a roast date on every package of coffee? And the lighter the roast the more caffeine?

My head was spinning by the time Siri told him his coffee was done.

He carefully poured his perfectly made brew into a mug and sat down satisfied with the look on his face that only the most serious coffee drinkers understand.

I sat across from him holding my massive cup of green tea and realized that my brain was about to burst with information.

So I grabbed a recipe card and started making notes.

I fully realize that I may be teased about this for the rest of my life – but I will confess hear and now that I actually have a recipe for coffee.

And I used it when my parents visited.

And they immediately noticed that my coffee had improved. Greatly.

This momma has upped her coffee game!

Next lesson – how to get Siri to set the timer for 3 minutes!

Okay – don’t hold your breath on that one!

 

Going, Going, Gone

The old house has finally come down.

How well I remember the first time I laid eyes on that old farmhouse!

We had seen the ad for the farmstead in the Sunday paper and had driven two hours with three kiddos under of the age of five to check it out.

We went around the curb, down a hill, up the other side and turned into the driveway.

No. Please no.

It was ugly, tired, saggy and wind blown after a century of sitting on the hill. A horrible 1960’s renovation had removed most of it’s former glory and the farm crisis in the 80’s left it vacant for awhile. Thankfully, it had indoor plumbing – although some of it was a garden hose. The only heat was a wood stove and the floor had a definite slant.

But my husband reminded me that while houses change – the land doesn’t.

And the land was beautiful! Rolling hills, ravines, a farm pond. Beautiful views in every direction! Just what we dreamed of!

We bought it, named it the hovel and moved in.

It sheltered us for more years than I care to remember while we worked on our dream house. Cold winters with frozen pipes. Hot summers canning in the kitchen with mud daubers buzzing around my head.

It was an exciting day when the new house was finished and we could finally move in!

The old farm house has sat empty now for several years.  Every year we said it would have to come down. But year after year other projects were more necessary and there just wasn’t time.

Until this year.

We started August 4th. Piece by piece it came down. Starting with the lathe and plaster.

Windows. Doors.

Then the roof and the second story.

Burning everything we could. What didn’t burn went in a dumpster.

The kids all pitched it. Peter even brought his Bible Study group down to help.

We paused in wonder at the workmanship of one section, and shook our heads in disbelief at the haphazard construction of a later addition.

Almost every day I had a different view.

It was going, going, and then gone.

We saved whatever wood we could and the limestone rock that made the foundation will soon line my flower beds. We had already used much of the trim in our new house.

All that’s left is a dent in the ground.

And the memories.

It was a huge job that we dreaded for years. It’s a wonderful feeling to know it’s done!

 

Deep Woods and Grand Adventures!

It was just what we needed.

A few days with the kids on the North Shore in Minnesota.

Epic adventures through the deep woods.

On and off the trail.

Smelling the pine woods.

Climbing rocks.

Bonfires every night.

S’mores.

Picnics.

Waterfalls.

Swinging bridges.

Rock cliffs.

Warm days.

Cool nights.

 

 

Lake Superior in all it’s beauty and power.

And quiet.

Hammocks.

Loons.

A cabin in the woods.

Games.

Snacks.

Late nights.

Photo shoots.

Silliness.

Laughter.

The whole family together.

Perfect.

 

 

Gathering of the Clan

Labor Day Weekend means one thing for my family – The Kamp-Out at Nana and Papa’s.

This gathering of the clan is a highly anticipated last hurrah of the summer.

Three generations.

Massive amounts of food.

Very little sleep.

The coffee flowed as fast as the conversations.

Laughter rang out as stories were told and memories made.

We took our hammocks to new heights.

And welcomed new friends from bonny Scotland.

Who arrived as strangers and left as family.

Dear people who laughed with us and found such joy in learning our traditions.

And fell in love with our sweet corn.

And us.

And we with them.

We played games.

Went wading in the river.

Took endless rides on the Ranger.

And just sat in the sunshine, watching the littles.

Remembering the days when it was our babies who were enjoying Papa and Nana’s house.

And cherishing the fact that another generation gets the same opportunity.

We took our annual trek to ”the Rock”.

And posed for the annual picture.

And learned that a vuvuzela will attract all the cows in the neighborhood.

It was a sweet time.

A weekend full of precious moments with people we hold dear.

A true gathering of the Clan!

 

 

The Great Eclipse Adventure of 2017

Since my only experience with a solar eclipse was a partial one in 6th grade when I couldn’t get my cardboard eclipse viewer to work and never actually saw anything, I will admit that I wasn’t very excited about the this week’s big eclipse.

But when my sister asked if we would like to adventure with them to see it, I said, “Sure – why not!” I wasn’t expected to actually see anything, but a road trip with her is always fun!

We had a vague plan in place. Meet at my house. Bring food. Drive south to a spot in totality. Perfect.

But Eclipse Day dawned overcast and rainy. We consulted long and hard over several maps and weather forecasts before deciding to head toward Fall City, Nebraska which was in the epicenter of totality.

(Which is a word I have never used in my life until now – but one I used frequently that day – and have already used twice in this post!)

It remained overcast and we drove in and out of rain during our two hour drive. But the kids played “Sunshine on My Shoulders” and every other song from their playlists with “sun” in them to keep our spirits up.

We may have gotten lost temporarily – but we eventually found the party at Fall City just in time for the eclipse to begin.

And for the clouds to settle in.

When it stated to sprinkle, my brother-in-law pointed to a patch of blue sky in the distance and said, “Let’s find it! We won’t see anything here!”

So we jumped in the van with our free eclipse glasses (thank you Fall City Chamber of Commerce!) and started our afternoon of eclipse chasing.

We would drive around for several minutes until someone spotted the sun, then we would pile out of the van on the side of the road and check out the progress with our free glasses.

When the clouds moved in, we would move on. Piling back in the van and heading off in another direction to repeat the procedure.

We were in the middle of a random gravel road somewhere west of Fall City when the eclipse reached totality.

It was amazing. Absolutely amazing.

Beyond anything I could have imagined.

Standing there in darkness and seeing the sun rise all around us.

Our kids were dancing around the gravel in the sheer joy of the moment. Okay – I might have danced a little, too!

A few minutes later it was over and the moon started to move on.

And with it the clouds, leaving us a beautifully sunny afternoon to watch the moon slowly pass by.

Which we did. In awe and amazement.

We were finally able to try out all the viewing methods that hadn’t work well with the cloud cover.

Like the pinhole.

And it worked!

One of the kids observed that after seeing a total eclipse of the sun – anything else we did the rest of the day would be anti-climatic.

It was.

We made a quick stop at Indian Caves State Park and then snacked our way back home – getting stuck in the hundreds of cars all trying to get across the Missouri River.

And of course we got ice cream.

Because no adventure is complete without ice cream!

 

And this is one adventure that we will never forget.

Once in a lifetime.

Absolutely amazing.