"I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told." -Mark Twain









4.01.2014

tcerroC sI sdrawkcaB gnitirW nehW


 ˙pǝʇɐʌɐɹbbɐ ǝq oʇ puǝʇǝɹd oʇ ǝʞıן ʎǝɥʇ ɥbnoɥʇןɐ 'ʇı ǝʌoן ʎǝɥʇ ˙ʇxǝʇ dıןɟ buısn sʇuǝpnʇs ʎɯ oʇ buıɥʇǝɯos ʇuǝsǝɹd ı ɹɐǝʎ ʎɹǝʌǝ ˙ʎɐp sןooɟ ןıɹdɐ ʎddɐɥ


Don't worry. I won''t write the entire post that way. But there are fun things you can do on this April Fool's Day with text! When I was writing the questions for my students, it occurred to me that a post about my letterpress table would be a good one for today. After all, the words on it are all written backwards. 
If you have read my blog before, perhaps you have seen this table. It started out a little forlorn. I had been looking for a good table with a lip around the edge. I knew that I wanted to make a letterpress table and the lip would help keep the blocks in order. 


These are the letterpress blocks. They come in all shapes and sizes and fonts. Just like our many fonts today, there are also many sizes and fonts for letterpress blocks. The different colors on the block are from the ink that has been rolled over them. A lot of times, the red is there to stay (which is fine with me!). To clean these blocks, the printers (back in the day) had a little jug filled with gasoline. It had a mesh circle on top that would press down and a small amount of gasoline would come up through the mesh. The printer would soak his rag with the gasoline and use it on the blocks to keep them clean and gunk free. 
 My family has been in the newspaper and publishing business for almost a hundred years. (There IS a difference between newspapers and publishing by the way.) As a young girl I would see these letterpress blocks used all the time. I began collecting them at antique shows, long before Ebay. Then I collected them off Ebay. I used them for decorating fun, but I was just waiting on the perfect table. Finally, I had it and I poured out my bag(s) of letters one night and had fun. If you will notice, the letters are backwards. They are supposed to be. The word is laid out, the ink rolled on, the paper (or other) set on top and the weight rolled over the paper. Then when you pick up the print, your words are correct. Get it?  
You know the old idiom, "Mind your p's and q's"? Well now you understand what they meant. When building your words or lines, it is easy to naturally put the letter down as we know and see it. (I am the WORST at that!) Therefore the p's and q's could not be mixed!
 As you can see in the pictures, I set up names, places and things that are special to our family. I also put in special numbers. I laid them out and sat them on the table then gathered the extra letterpress blocks around them. There is TAYLOR3 (her birthday day) above. 
 Tim & Lori (above). Yes, I interchanged the fonts frequently. I had to because of the blocks I had. Plus it just makes it more fun. 
 Kelly.
 The SON from Ferguson. Sooners and Wucas. (Well I did Wucas for two reasons: 1. I was out of L's. 2. When my youngest son was little, he said his L's and W's. Therefore that made him Wuke Wucas. :)  Since I had the other letters for Lucas, I figured why not make it Wucas? 
 Yes, I even included our beloved pets. Howie. (We've got them ALL on the table!) 



I flipped the picture, so the words/letters were facing the camera. The arrows are just a sampling of the words and dates that are on there. I did not "arrow" them all. See what you can pick out! (Don't forget...dog is really God!!)
The same picture without the arrows. See how seamlessly the words and dates all blend together?  It's a great puzzle and conversation piece! 
 Notice the really big blocks, like the L and 1?  Aren't the fractions fun? 
 I also have every single type of punctuation in the big size. An ode to the English teacher in me! This could be a comma or an apostrophe, depending on how it was used. Notice I did not put all the filler letters and numbers in the same direction either. I just filled to fill! 

In this picture (in the lower left corner) and the big block in the middle, are advertising blocks. I have lots of old advertising blocks as well. Many of the advertising blocks are brass and can be shined up beautifully.
Believe it or not, I need to start another table. Since I did this one, we had two grandbabies, Leightyn and Behr. One of my sons is engaged as well, so we need to add Tiffani. I thought it would be fun to begin another table, instead of trying to redo the original. I have already begun to store up more letters, numbers and advertising. If you plan on collecting them, be aware, the letterpress blocks are on wood. There are some metal pieces as well, but those were used in linotype machines. I have a few of those as well, but they are the tiny filler pieces.  
Now you know everything you ever (or never!!) wanted to know about letterpress blocks and why the letters are always backwards. Don't you agree it was a great April Fools Day lesson? 
Here is the ugly little table that I got for $10 (along with another one).  
Here it is after I cleaned it up, painted it and made a cute little chalkboard table out of it. It would have been great to keep it just like that. 

But I had all these blocks that needed a permanent home.....
I added some very small casters. Mainly for the effect! 
And I ended up with the table where all the words are backwards! Now you know why! Have a great April Fools Day.  Or as I told my students.....¡ʎɐp sןooɟ ןıɹdɐ ʇɐǝɹb ɐ ǝʌɐɥ

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2.12.2014

Going to the Dogs!

 Today is my Abraham's birthday. Yes, he shares a birthday with another famous Abraham.  Yes, that's where he got his name. It helped that his "brother" we already had was named Eisenhower. Yes, I love politics, great presidents and sweet, sweet puppies. 


 So last night when I got home from teaching school all day---plus an evening of parent/teacher conferences, I wanted to make Abe (and Ike) a little treat. After all, it was almost Abe's birthday and the pair had been home alone for over 12 hours! 
 I had a couple of cute little dog bone cookie cutters I had bought in Target's dollar section at Christmas time, so I got them out and made the dogs some treats. The cookie cutters came with a recipe, so I just used that. I had everything but the whole wheat flour, but I did not mind getting back out to buy that for the pups. 

 The bone cookie cutter was just an average size and the recipe made 64 of these bones! That is a lot of treats. 

 I made the recipe exactly as the was called for, except the cooking time. The recipe said 40 minutes so the treats would be good and hard. I found that my treats were relatively hard much sooner. Like at about the 20-25 minute mark!  Maybe it is my oven. But if you make these, keep that in mind. Twenty minutes was all we needed. 

 The treats are made with canned pumpkin and a little cinnamon.  When they were cooking, our house smelled like pumpkin pies were cooking. 

 Let me assure you, the treats were big hits. Abe is the type of dog that will eat anything. He will scarf it down. Ike is a little more of a gentleman. He will examine his food first, smell it, then eat with manners. Both of the presidents approved though, no matter how they downed the treats! I text pictures of the treats in the oven to my children. None of them rolled their eyes (or emoticons) at me. One of my daughters suggested I make a batch and take them to the local dog shelter in honor of my pups. That's a great idea. I text my parents the same pic, and they did think I was a little crazy! ha! Hey, I even thought (later) that a heart cookie cutter would have been cute for Valentine's Day....


Abe's Birthday Treats
2 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 Tbs. peanut butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
4 Tbs. water

 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl, mix (with an electric mixer) all the ingredients except the water. After the other ingredients are all mixed, add the water. You may add more water as needed/if needed, but the dough should be fairly dry and stiff and workable. Roll the dough out, use the cookie cutter of your choice and bake. Bake until hard. Mine took 25 minutes, (although the recipe said it could be 40 minutes).  Then give your dog a bone treat! 

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2.10.2014

Window Peeping

 Clear back in September, I had traveled back to Hiawatha, Kansas, for the wedding of some friends. We only get back to Kansas (it is over 360 miles from where we now live)twice a year...at the most. Literally, on our drive back home after being there for two days, I saw on Facebook where one of my former students (now grown) was getting rid of all the old wooden windows from his house. 
He and his wife had bought one of the beautiful old homes in town, and they had updated all the old windows. His wife, bless her, knew better than to just dump all the windows and put a call out on FB for someone to come and get them. And there I was, headed AWAY from where those windows were! Just my luck. 

 But luck actually was on my side. Another friend lived just two doors away from my former student and I sent him up to his neighbor to retrieve a window. I told him exactly which window type I wanted (they had posted several kinds on FB). I specifically  wanted one that was 8 big panes, white on one side and brown on the other. I have such good friends. They gave me the exact window I wanted and my other friend stored it in his garage until Christmas when one of my sons went to Kansas for a visit and brought it back. 
 This window is huge and heavy. I plan to use it with the white facing out at times and of course change it around some and have the brown side facing out sometimes. For the time being, I have it propped on a chest in the living room, layered with an antique framed map. 
 When I originally staked claim to a window, I imagined it replacing the gold frame over the mantel on the gianormous mirror. But the window is so tall, that it actually extended about 3/4 of a pane beyond the giant mirror. So when looking at the mirror and window, it looked kind of weird when the mirror suddenly stopped at the top. Too bad it didn't work out though, because the mirror was creating a great reflection on the brown side of the window. Who knows, I might try it again sometime. 
 In the meantime, I love where it is and how it looks. I had the 1930's map framed about six years ago. Then about three years ago I hung the PEACE banner on it for Christmas. I started to take down the banner after Christmas that year, then decided that I liked it up there. After all, we truly do need PEACE all the time, not just Christmas. 
The window represents what I love about my home. It makes me think of that sweet student (now grown) that was one of my all-time favorites. It makes me think of his wise wife that knew the windows didn't belong in the landfill. It makes me think of one of my other favorite friends that walked up and got the window for me and stored it for four months. It makes me think of our wonderful years in Kansas. It makes me think of my son who hauled it all the way back for me and another son who moved it around for me every time I was trying it somewhere new. You can't get those memories from department store merchandise. ....Now I just need to get the giant wardrobe back down to Oklahoma that I bought (online) at a Hiawatha auction...in October!! (Yep, you guessed it...another friend is storing that for me!) 
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1.29.2014

Cheeseburger Soup for the Souper Bowl!

 Last night I shared the Creamy Tomato Florentine Soup I made over the weekend. Well I also made Cheeseburger Soup for the first time. While the family all agreed that the Tomato Florentine Soup was great, my boys and the Hubs loved the Cheeseburger Soup. I'm sure it has nothing to do with all the cheese and hamburger versus tomatoes, spinach and cream. No, huh uh. 
 Both of the soups made big hearty pots. Both would be delicious served to a big hungry crowd. It took me probably an hour (or less) to make both pots of soup from scratch. Plus, I made the croutons and brownies during that time as well. My point being, while both soups look like a lot of ingredients, they both could not be easier! 
 I have no idea why I plated it up and stage it on a LOVE towel. I should have put it on a big 'ole football towel! 
 I realize this is a little blurry, but these are the vegies as they sauted.  In the words of my youngest son, who came in to check on me periodically, "Mom, what do carrots have to do with cheeseburgers anyway?  I think you could have left those out!"  This recipe, I followed exactly like it said to do.....And you KNOW I never do that! So yes, there are carrots in my Cheeseburger Soup! 
 Although the recipe did say to peel and cube potatoes, I opted to just use frozen hash browns in the cube size. They seemed to work just fine too. 
 CHEESEBURGER SOUP
1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots (or in the words of Luke, "WHY?")
3/4 cup diced celery (Luke did not see that go in)
1 Tsp. dried basil
3 TBS. chopped parsley
4 TBS. butter, divided
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups cubed potatoes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour ( I use Wondra)
2 cups Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tsp. salt
1 Tsp. pepper
1/4 cup sour cream

In large pot add 1 TBS butter. Add onion, celery, carrots, parsley, and basil. Saute till tender. 
Add the broth, potatoes and beef and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and tender. (Hint: I left my bag of hash-brown cubes in the fridge (vs. the freezer) the night and day before so they would not be frozen and not take so long to cook).  
In small skillet melt remaining butter and add the flour. Cook and stir for 3 minutes or so until bubbly. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat. Stir in the cheese, milk, salt, pepper and sour cream. Cook and stir until the cheese melts. Let heat thoroughly.  I served this with homemade croutons and shredded cheese. 

 The boys gave this soup a perfect score. 

 The recipe said the soup can be frozen. I had to laugh at that. We don't freeze many leftovers at our house. There are always (grown) children here to cart any (rare!!) leftovers away. If all the boys are home, there is no such thing as leftovers! 
 Which has always made this mama's heart very happy! 

 And just in case you missed the homemade croutons on yesterday's soup, here they are again. Since it was Cheeseburger Soup, I felt it only fitting that we should use a bun for the croutons. I had stale hot dog buns and chopped them up. I put them in a baking pan, added pats of butter and put them in a 350 degree oven to cook. 
 Buttered croutons.  You could add garlic and/or onion salt to them before they cooked too. 
I don't know about where you live, but here in usually mild-in-the-winter-Oklahoma, they are saying we are in for a big bad week of cold weather. I assure you that both of the soup recipes will be pulled back out. They are quick and easy and make enough for a family. OR they would be SOUPER at a SUPER Bowl party! Enjoy. 
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