Life is Worth Living

A Bad Habit, Broken!

Dear Readers, the last few weeks, I’ve been stuck in a bad habit.  In my defense, I’ve been suffering from insomnia nearly every night and have been too exhausted to do much about it, but today, I said, enough is enough.

I will get my curling iron out, I will put mascara on, and I will wear something other than that ugly black shirt with capris.

And I did.  I curled my hair, put my mascara on, and slid into a bright pink shirt.  After breakfast, I’m putting my lipstick on.

I already feel better, by the way.  I walked out of the bathroom door and my 5-year-old daughter said, “Oh, Mom!  You look soooo beautiful!

Anyone else stuck in a bad habit?

Happy Monday Everyone!

Life is Worth Living

Time for Cocktails!

As this is summer, I am wondering what you all are enjoying in the evenings?  I like a glass of wine* or two, but every now and then, I like a cocktail too.

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This is a Classic Martini.  2.5 oz. dry gin, .5 oz dry vermouth, and an olive.  I hate Classic Martinis.  Yuck.  My husband loves them though.

Summer Drinks

The other night, my husband and I enjoyed a Lemon Martini (on the left) and a Rob Roy (on the right).

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As the famous Fr. Z asks, “which is mine?”

Lemon Martinis

Some of you have asked how we make our Lemon Martinis?  (By we, I mean my husband.  Who are kidding?  I don’t make the drinks around here.  I just drink ’em.)  My husband pours equal parts freshly squeezed lemon, dry vermouth, and vodka into a shaker with ice.  Then he shakes it violently and pours it into my martini glass.

So of course, it isn’t a true martini, as it has no gin.

And what’s around that rim?  It’s sugar.  He does this by wetting the rim with the lemon wedge and then tipping the glass upside down onto a plate of sugar.  It’s worth the extra minute of two waiting.

Rob Roy

The second drink, my husband’s drink, is a Rob Roy.  This is two parts Scotch, one part dry vermouth, and two dashes of Angostura bitters.  Rob Roys can also be made with sweet vermouth or even with equal parts of both, but my husband prefers dry.

This is also poured into a shaker with ice and shaken.  Then it’s poured into a martini glass and enjoyed.

Helpful Tools

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My husband loves his Drink Tool shown above.

When making cocktails, it’s helpful to have a cocktail shaker and something to measure shots with.  A simple shot glass will do, or if you have a nifty tool like the one above, you’re good to go.  You’ll notice that on this tool, on the left, is a little measuring cup while on the right are other useful things – most notably the extended stick used as a juicer.  This juicer gets a lot of use in our house for drinks requiring lemons or limes.

What are you all drinking this summer?  Drop a line in the comment box!

*One of my favorite scripture verses involve wine.  The following one comes from Psalm 104:14-15.
“You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate, that he may bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread to strengthen man’s heart.”
Notice that?  Wine to gladden the hearts of men and bread to strengthen us.  Two of the best things ever.  God is good!
Life is Worth Living

Caught in the Act!

Strider’s on the loose again.  This time I caught him in the act.  Really, it takes a lot of talent to catch these flying beauties.

It’s like watching Planet Earth, with the big, mean predator sneaking up on its helpless and defenseless prey.

Ever watch Planet Earth?  My kids love it.  I do too, I guess.  Even though I mostly save these short episodes for the ten other colder months of the year.

The world is truly a beautiful, awesome place.  There’s some propaganda in Planet Earth though.  You know, like human beings are all terrible destroyers and polar bears are all dying out etc., etc.  But it’s worth it.  There are two seasons out now.

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No birds are safe around here.
Life is Worth Living

Welcome to the Family!

Dear Readers,

I can’t help but spread a little cheer.  My brother has just announced his engagement to the lovely lady in the photo below.  They both have suffered a lot through previous “marriages,” which have been annulled.  God is giving them a second chance to do things rightly.

All I can say is, congratulations!  And welcome to the family!

And then I have two bits of advice for all Engaged Couples.

Advice for Engaged Couples

  1. Start praying together now, if you aren’t already.  (This goes for you married couples too.)  This is so important.  Not only will it help you when things get tough, but just think of the example you are setting for your children.
  2. Go to confession.  We are all sinners, and we all need to frequent this sacrament.  (Married couples included.)  So, go to confession!
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Here is my brother and his new fiancé in front of the oldest cathedral in the United States.  Quiz:  Where are they?*

 

By the way, I understand that my brother’s fiancé is 100% Italian.  This is exciting for our family because we are mostly German and Norwegian, with a little Dutch sprinkled on top.

But the Dutch part is very important, as I will never forget my Grandfather explaining his heritage and last name.  “You see, Kim, our last name used to be ‘Van Dubbelden’ in the Old Country, but now it’s Dubbelde, which is a little more American.  But don’t you ever forget,” and here he stopped, looked me straight in the eye, pointed his finger at me, and said, “If ya ain’t Dutch, ya ain’t much!

Well, I’m glad I’m Dutch.  But, I look forward to having an Italian in the family.  I love their wine.  (After all who ever heard of a Dutch wine?  Or a Norwegian wine?)

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Cheers!  From my husband.

 

*Answer:  St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.  Not built by the Dutch or the Italians, but by the French of course.

Life is Worth Living

Strider’s in the Dog House

Now really.  Enough is enough.

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Got ya.

What is with this cat catching and eating birds?  I suppose I should be happy this one isn’t a robin?  And that he didn’t drag it into the garage.  But why can’t he be satisfied with field mice or voles or gophers or something else rodent-like?

Nope.  Lately it’s all birds.

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This little bird is a brown thrasher.  I’m kind of sad about that.  And he brought it into the garage as proud as a peacock!  Naughty Cat.
Life is Worth Living

This is How You Sell a House?!

The night before our open house a few days ago, Child #3 chucked a chair down the stairwell and this is what happened:

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See the nice hole?

Now, I’d like to say that I handled this situation well, but that would be a lie.  We were frantically trying to clean for this open house, and it was stressful.  So I cried, but I didn’t yell.  And that’s an improvement for me.  This particular child felt badly enough.  I didn’t need to make him feel worse.

What was one to do?  There was clearly a visible hole in my wall.  Well, I did three things:

  1. I called my adept father-in-law, as my husband was at work, and asked if he might want to fix a hole in the wall?  Of course he did.  He came right over.
  2. I was making supper, so I stopped all necessary prep-work and popped a bottle of wine.  All situations improve with a glass of wine.
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You know, there’s a reason why Jesus turned a bunch of huge stone jars from water to wine.  It just tastes better.  And life gets brighter.

After all, God is going to sell this house in His own good time, with or without holes in the walls.  I might as well relax a little bit.

3.  I blasted out Louis Armstrong.  My absolute favorite song of his is When You’re Smiling.  Click HERE for it.  Just listen to that trumpet solo!  It’s at 2:20 in the video.  Now if that doesn’t put a gal in a better mood, I’m not sure what will.

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When Armstrong was asked what religion he was, he’d apparently answer, “I was raised Baptist.  I wear the Star of David.  And I’m friends with the Pope.”  Hmmm…
Life is Worth Living

Praise For My Blog

Now I don’t like to toot my own horn, as the saying goes, but I thought I’d pass along a few comments I received about my blog, as I found them interesting.

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These guys love my blog.

Praise for Musings From the Home*

“Your blog has the elegance of my minivan after I took the kids to a McDonald’s drive-thru.”
“It’s like a cross between gas station coffee and chili dogs.  Nothing but class here!”
“It smells like my gym locker after football practice.”
“You call this a blog?!”
“It looks like a kindergarten classroom after play-do time.”
“It’s like riding on a tractor inner-tube down a drainage ditch.”
“Your blog has the nutritional value and substance of a twinkie.”
“You’re like the pink, plastic flamingo in my grandmother’s front lawn.  Just scrappy.”
And finally, “I like it, mom.”

So, if you too should happen to like my blog, be sure to pass it along.

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These two, however, are not so sure about my blog.
Ok, fine.  Those comments above are all from my husband, except the last one.  That one came from my 5-year-old who can’t even read.
Life is Worth Living

Strider Does the Unthinkable

Now he’s done it.  Look what the cat drug in.

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Strider.  The Killer.

Yes, it’s a robin, and it’s dead.

I’m all about cats killing animals, especially of the rodent variety.  And I don’t mind at all if they proudly drag those dead carcasses into my garage.  And it’s really not so bad that those dead things sit there until I notice them, whereupon the cat proudly rubs against my leg and then eats it.

But robins?  No, this is where I draw the line.  These lovely birds are a sign of spring!  They’re a sign of life!  And beauty!  They’re one of the first birds to return to the cold, cold North after ten months of winter!

You know what my Grandma Martha used to say about shooting robins, right?  (Click HERE for her murderous threats to guns and little boys even thinking of such things.)  I wonder what she’d do to this cat?

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I’ll tell you what she’d do.  She’d have Grandpa run it over with the 806.

You bet Strider ate this robin too.  But no, not the feathers.  They were strewn all over the place.  I had to have my son vacuum up his mess.  At least with mice and gophers, the whole thing disappears – snouts, tails, guts, and all.

Life is Worth Living

You took 7 kids on vacation?!

Yes, we did.

Are you nuts?!

Yes, we are.

My husband and I decided we needed to get outta Dodge, as the saying goes.  (Where did that saying come from?  Anyone know?)  And of course, we wanted to go south, where it’s warmer.  So naturally, we went to South Dakota.

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Mount Rushmore.  Tourist Trap.  But one has to see it, right?

The Black Hills

We stayed in a beautiful cabin at Newton Fork Ranch.  Long ago we gave up on hotels, because with our big family hotels are impractical.  Cabins, on the other hand, are great because they can provide multiple bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen.  Kitchens are a must, as one does not want to take 7 children out to eat very often.

This cabin was the highlight of our trip for the children because it sat right on the side of forested “mountain” complete with a trickling stream.  They all insisted that their favorite part of the whole trip was throwing sticks and rocks into that stream and climbing that mountain.  In fact, they made both my husband and I do just that – throw sticks and rocks and hike the hill, which I found rather difficult and somewhat frightening.

Prairie Berry Winery

My favorite part of the trip was stopping at Prairie Berry Winery and drinking wine.  This place, thankfully, is kid friendly.  It even has a table set up for checkers, which my children played.  And we only had a few gaping stares from others as we traipsed in and sat down.  One bold woman remarked,  “Looks like you got your hands full!”  To which I promptly laughed and replied, “Yes, which is why we’re here!”  And I lifted my half empty bottle of wine up for her to see.

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The name of this particular wine is Lawrence Elk, which I thought was funny.  Anyone ever watch reruns of that old show, Lawrence Welk?  You do know that he was born in North Dakota, right?  All good things come from the NoDak.

I’m not really sure that these wines should be called wine, however.  Many of them are made from anything but grapes.  The Lawrence Elk, for example, is made from currants.  It tastes like sparkling Kool-Aid.  It was very refreshing after hiking a few miles though.  (My husband condescended to drink a glass of it.  He gave the rest of the bottle to me.)

Chapel in the Hills

My second favorite part of the trip was the tour my aunt and uncle gave us of the Norwegian Chapel in the Hills.  My aunt and uncle were once the caretakers of this place for many years, but they came out of retirement just for us.  They’re the best.

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Really, you need to visit this place.  Great history to this once-upon-a-time Catholic Norwegian church.

This chapel is an exact replica of the Borgund Stave Church in Norway built in 1050 and still standing.  So, if you can’t get to Norway, go the Black Hills and tour this one built in 1969.  Of course my children liked the sliding partition for the lepers to receive Holy Communion the best.

I asked my eldest daughter what she learned from the tour, and she exclaimed, “Your aunt said that there’s no such thing as white hair.  She said that she has blonde hair, not white hair, and I’m not supposed to let anyone tell me differently.  Mom, you’ll always have blonde hair too, I suspect.”

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Here we are organized.  My aunt is in the middle.  Notice her “blonde” hair.

As an aside, my aunt is also wearing bright red lipstick.  (She is my grandmother’s daughter after all.)  She kissed every one of my boys on the cheek.  She laughed and laughed, as they all ran to the van, desperately looking for baby wipes to get that lipstick off saying, “Ewwww, gross!”

Michelson Trail

And finally, we all greatly enjoyed the Michelson Trail.  This was once an old railway that ran through the Black Hills.  Now it’s a multipurpose, gravel hiking trail.  My husband and I have biked on it before, so we thought we’d take the children and explore a different section.  We found a five-mile stretch that began a few miles out of Hills City and was all downhill.  So my husband dropped me and the four older children off and met us at the end.

At first it was glorious.  The sun was shining.  The trees were glistening.  A stream ran alongside us.  Then, it was terrifying.  Gentle mountainside gave way to steep, scary cliffs.      There were no guard rails.  My children squealed in glee at the enormous canyons below.  They pointed out distant deer while the wind whipped through their hair, and we flew at a fearful pace.  Visions of wipe outs and falling children splattering on rocks below absolutely terrorized me.  I prayed to their guardian angels.  I asked St. Michael to protect them.  I begged Holy Mary to wrap her mantle around them.

And we made it.

I do not, let me repeat, do not recommend that section of the trail for children!  Nope.  If you have children, stick closer to Hill City.

But boy, oh boy was that ride breathtaking!  It even ran through the mountain in two places.  Those tunnels were awesome.

Life is Worth Living

I Want Big Hair: Update

Speaking of Big Hair and Wynonna Judd…

Thank you to my dear Reader who sent the following photo of her awesome albums.  She said that she has fond memories of listening to these with her mother.  But now that she’s married, her husband insists that she only play them when he’s outta da house!

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Wynonna Judd is on the left in the first album and on the right in the second album.  Of course the other gal is Naomi Judd, her mother.  Now that’s some sweet-looking hair!