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Reflection.

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I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Reflecting on my past, reflecting on my current life and questioning what the future might hold for me. For the past four summers I kept saying this is my last summer before I have to be a real adult. Each summer throughout college I said that exact phrase to my parents wanting me to get a job or buckle down on school work. So, today I took about a half hour on what may be one of the last nice nights of the summer of 2013 to drive around my town and see my past. From the beach to the high school to my junior high and childhood playgrounds I just drove by and thought if the memories. I truly am a real adult now and I have to think back on the things I did and how I would have done them differently and how I could have changed things. Nonetheless the past is in the past and there is no way to change the way things were.

To say I am feeling nostalgic tonight is an understatement. The simplicity of life that we all take for granted as young kids and teens is something I wish I knew. There are still things I wish I could take back and those things will continue to happen, but I wish I knew how little of an impact that would make on most peoples lives. I will still have regrets, as will everyone, and those who don’t have not lived. We all make mistakes and those people who can be around you through your mistakes and the small or sometimes large blunders are your true friends. I wonder about the friends that I’ve made to know if they are the true friends. I can say with out a doubt I have at least one, but are all the others true friends or just acquaints? One of the many questions I asked myself tonight.

Not only was I reminiscing, but I was thinking on the future as well. I know that as far as most post college grads are concerned I’m pretty successful. I have a job in my field that I love, I don’t have very much debt, I’m about to purchase my second car, and I have a good amount of money saved up. But, I don’t feel like this is the next chapter for me. I can’t help, but feel like this is maybe still the same chapter. I just need to find out what it is that’s going to be written in my next chapter. What is the next thing in my life that will be new and exciting that makes my life unique and worth living to the fullest. Half of me says I need to start looking out of state and the other half couldn’t imagine leaving my family. I just need to learn to be happy again and it’s finding that place again. My bridge from the pure ecstasy of college to the boring mundane life back in the suburbs with my parents is a hard one to cross when I just want to go running back to the other side. One leg at a time I need to learn to stand on the other side. Not necessarily in the suburbs with my parents because it’s not who I am, but as an adult who is successful and able to be independent and proud of what I’ve accomplished and who I am.

So as I watched the sun sink down on my suburban beach town, I said goodbye to my childhood and hello to a life of adulthood and all the burdens and joys it may bring.

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That’s a Man

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Grandpa waiting to pay the tab at the bar at Dell’s

My grandpa is the typical older man born in the 40’s who still believes in 1940’s ideals and customs. He is strong and silent and has worked his butt off for every penny that he has earned in his life. He started as a farmer from birth with his dad which was just a small family farm with a few animals and a couple of acres that surrounded the house. When he married my grandma at 19 he rented his land and worked in a tile mill until he could buy his first piece of land. From then on he worked hard for everything he has and has built an empire. He is the hardest working man I know and I have more respect for him than anyone in this world. One of the greatest things as a kid was going to spend the week at grandma and grandpa’s house. To this day I still cherish the days that I get to spend with both of my grandparents.

I spent today going to my grandpa’s favorite restaurant where he spends every morning with his friends talking about the latest tractor auctions, barn sales and the weather. He is completely in his element there in this little small town deli, everyone knows his name, where he sits and just what Pete will order, a cheese omelet. He’s a man of few words so when he does speak everyone listens. I made cookies especially for him, sugar free with oatmeal and chocolate chip, and he ate 7 of them until his stomach hurt. Which he kept reminding us of thought the afternoon, but hearing this only makes me happy. Making my grandparents laugh and smile makes me incredibly happy. They are such a big part of my life and are so important to me.

Heading out into the field to pick sweet corn
Heading out into the field to pick sweet corn

While my grandpa has his routines and can usually be found one of four places. The place he truly belongs is in his fields. For a man who has gone from renting 10-15 acres to owning and farming 1750+ acres he still continues to work as if he’s a poor farmer with a young family at the ripe young age of 75. This man will work until the day he passes and he returns to the earth that he has so graciously cared for throughout all his years. His fields are where he knows everything and where the world is the same as what he has known for the past 75 years. Today we got to go out into the fields and pick what may have been the last couple of ears of sweet corn of the year. One of my favorite foods of the summer and one of my greatest and most cherished childhood memories. I love being able to see my grandpa in his atmosphere, where he belongs. Doctors believe my grandpa has early on sets of dementia which is one of the hardest things to accept after losing my grandma to Alzheimer’s just over a year ago. These are the moments I cherish and how I want to remember my grandpa forever. The man who has worked for every single thing that he has in his life and doesn’t for a second take anything for granted. The strongest, hardest working man I know, that’s a man.

“Read about a man who said his family had been farming the same land in Ohio for over 100 years. Felt like he’d paid for it ten times over with his own blood, his own sweat, and his own tears. If he had to he’d be out there on that tractor working seven long, hot days a week. Yeah, he’s the kind of man that people get real quiet when he stands up in a church to speak. They know when he speaks. Oh, that’s a man. That’s a stand tall, walk straight put God’s share in the collection plate man. Oh, that’s a man.”-Jack Ingram

Last ears of corn of the summer!
Last ears of corn of the summer!

Strawberry Delight, Strawberry Shortcake, & Strawberry Jam

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My mom is an educated woman with a Bachelor’s of education and a Master’s of Special education and works full time for the local school system. She takes care of the house with the necessary duties of cooking, cleaning and gardening, but my mom has spoiled my sisters and I for our entire lives with homemade meals. I despise the taste of canned vegetables, store boughten relish, microwave meals and baked jelly. My mom takes the extra time to prepare a meal everyday, prepare fresh veggies down to freezing fresh corn each summer, canning relish every year and my favorite making jam each summer when the strawberries are ripe. Living in suburbia and being a full-time teacher and housewife this kind of stuff doesn’t happen often any more, and spending four years at college I was deprived of a good hearty home cooked meal all from fresh ingredients made from my mother’s hands.

Mom took my two nephews, who were more hinders than help, to pick the strawberries and came home with cartons upon cartons of strawberries. Now my mom would not just go to the store and buy the California strawberries, no no no they do not taste the same and do not work as well as the local strawberries in her yearly process of making jam. The local strawberries were tinier, but full of flavor and just right.

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All of our strawberries are turned into our favorite strawberry foods of strawberry delight, strawberry shortcake and strawberry jam. Dad and I helped make the jam this year, well Dad only smashed the berries and ate them, and we smashed and stirred and waited then stirred some more and poured them into containers for the perfect jam. We make just enough to have several extra for when summer rolls around again and it’s time to make another batch to freeze. Now when each of my sisters and I leave the house to our new homes, one of the things we alwasy remember to take, because we would never be caught buying the store bought kind is Mom’s Strawberry Jam.

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Just in case anyone is feeling adventurous it’s a simple recipe that you can find on a box of Certo, but I’ve added it below:

1. Mash strawberries in a large bowl. (We use a potato masher and leave some bigger strawberries just for more flavor)

2. Measure 2 cups of crushed berries and set a side

3. In seperate bowl measure out a precise amount of 4 cups of sugar and add the 2 cups of crushed berries together. Stir together well and let sit for 10 minutes while stirring occasionally.

4. In a small bowl mix together 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and 1 package of Certo.

5. Combine lemon juice and Certo mix with Strawberry and sugar mix and stir constantly for 3 minutes.

6. Ladle your jam into your desired container (we use old frosting containers or small mason jars) let sit out for 24 hours.

7. Enjoy your jam or freeze the extras!