Friday, October 18, 2019


I could have given you the recipe for Granola last time if I had thought of it. This morning as I was eating yogurt and granola, again, I remembered where I got the recipe I've been using in my kitchen for 39 years.

Mom's friend, Esther Mae Kauffman, gave her the recipe for *Cereal*. When I got married I copied a bunch of family favorites for my recipe box. This was one of them.

1 cup salad oil
1 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups wheat germ (optional)
2 lb. oatmeal ( I use a cardboard
circular container of Old Fashioned Oats.
It holds 2 lb.10 oz.)
1 1/2 cups honey
1 T. salt I have cut that down to 1 tsp.
2 cups coconut
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Sunflower seeds, almonds or any of your favorite kind of nuts

Put all the dry ingredients in a gigantic roasting pan. Gently warm the honey, oil, vanilla and water. Pour over the dry ingredients and stir very well. Toast in a 250* oven for 1 1/2 hours. I set the timer and stir it every half hour. Cool, store in a tight container.

If I am out of honey I just add more brown sugar instead.  I never use the wheat germ these days.

All of my children or their spouses have texted me for this recipe. I know it by heart and just rattle off the ingredients to them in a text.

It makes a nice Christmas gift or hostess gift in a quart jar with a pretty ribbon tied around the top.

Thank you, Esther Mae!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Greek Yogurt, Granola and other Scrumptious Foods

It's amazing what triggers a memory when it comes to different foods.
Yesterday, Ellis, Mom and I were talking about Greek Yogurt (which Ellis despises)
 "I don't understand why anyone would eat something that looks like the gunk my mom cleaned out of the cream separator. "

With those words hanging in the air I immediately pictured Florence Harshbarger,
dark hair braided and pinned in a neat circle around her head, wearing a pretty floral house dress, cheerfully going about her morning routine of washing the milker and shiny stainless steel cylinders. She had the routine down to a science. When I offered to take my turn at the job I ended up splashing water down the front of myself, forgetting to do something
and making a general mess of a chore she made look effortlessly easy.  

Even longer ago than that I can picture a pixie like girl washing up the milking things.
 My sisters and I crowded around the .basement sink waiting for Leah to get done with her jobs
so we could go play. If we were particularly annoying she could send us shrieking by scooping that white gunk up with her fingers acting like there was nothing gross about it. 
(It honestly almost triggers a gagging sensation even now when I think about it. )
It is rather amazing that greek yogurt with granola and fruit is one of my favorite breakfasts. 

Leah was very patient with us and thought up great ways to entertain her little nieces.
What adventure would she think up this time? 
A hike through the pasture following the cow trails. 
Teaching us how to feed sugar lumps to the horses.
 "Hold your hand out flat with a sugar lump in the middle. Like this."
And Leah would stretch out her tiny hand with the sugar lump perfectly balanced.
There we were ... four little shadows copying her, bracing our feet, holding as still as possible,
trying not to squeal when we felt those velvety mouths gently brushing against our out stretched hands.

Playing in her little house under the shade of a huge oak tree.
She had a tiny canister set with real flour and sugar in them. 

Swinging in the air on the rope swing, pumping higher and higher,
trying to reach  the leaves of the branches with our feet. 

Leah could have us laughing til our sides ached when she made up funny poems.
When we were older we played the game of Authors by the hour.
She taught us Dottie Rambo's songs while she played guitar. 

This summer we've been enjoying other foods besides sugar lumps and Greek Yogurt.
How about a batch of fresh salsa? 

Swedish Meatballs ready for the oven

Lefse in the making

A twist on BLT sandwiches
Lightly toast slices of sourdough bread
Layer crispy fried bacon, cheese and tomato slices on the toast
Sprinkle salt and pepper, oregano and basil on the tomato
(I skin the tomato before slicing)
Put the sandwiches under a broiler for a couple minutes
until the cheese melts and the tomato is hot
You know your own broiler...
You don't want to leave these unattended
Keep peeking in and take them out sooner than later
I did not like tomatoes when I was growing up
For the life of me I don't know why I sampled these when my friend's mom made them.
Peer Pressure ;)
I knew Esther was an amazing cook. Everything she made tasted wonderful
so I figured these sandwiches would be good.
They were. We tried them again this summer.
Same thing. Scrumpdillyicious!

Some desserts for summer
 Peach Dessert 
Strawberry  Shortcake 
                                   Thanks for coming along on a trip down memory lane.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

80th Birthday Party

Last year I started to tell about our trip to Alberta for Norma's 80th birthday party.
I have more to write about that fabulous occasion. But now this summer we have
celebrated another 80th birthday - my Mom's.

Dad would have been 80 this summer - July 9th. Mom's birthday comes July 25th.

My sisters planned a big birthday party for Mom up north. All of her siblings were invited
and Dad's siblings, too. . . and cousins by the dozens.

Mom and I drove north in the middle of the week. Ellis came later with Evan and Chelsea.
In between jobs we cooled off in the lake at the edge of Jerry and Trenda's yard.
This reminded me of Flag Island so much. (The island we used to visit every summer
where our aunt and uncle and cousins lived.) I almost expected to turn around and see
little girls of yesterday running and splashing into the lake.

On Saturday relatives began arriving.
All of Dad's sisters were able to come.
The last one arrived Sunday around noon.
Two of Mom's brothers came as well.

Mom and Trenda went on a trip last December to visit six of her siblings.
Many of them weren't able to come to MN this summer so I'm glad she got
to visit them in their homes.

Jerry and Doug grilled hamburgers. There was a gigantic salad and veggies with dip,
and to top it off - birthday cake and ice cream. We visited in the shade of a big tent
and watched second cousins get acquainted and form friendships.

Sunday, we had a time for sharing stories and memories at a nearby township hall.
Lunch was a fabulous cheesy potato hot dish with chunks of ham, another gigantic
salad and home made pie for dessert. My niece, Janine, knows how to make yummy pies!
                                                           ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Sometimes when I am chattering on and on about events  that have happened I begin to feel
like this is the most boring drivel and who really cares anyway. Then I know I need some
writing exercises to get back on track. Earlier this summer I found just such an adventure in
Shari Zook's blog. I know there is a way to give you the link to her blog. For now I will just
give you the name to type in Google   Confessions of a woman learning to live.

In her blog, Shari described an imaginary house … going into great detail about each room.
This made me think - what could I come up with for this writing assignment? I remember
many of the houses I lived in as a child. Then there are other houses I've read about - like
Anne Morrow Lindbergh's house where she vacations by the sea. Could I come up with
something describing a house by a lake? It would end up sounding like the house where
my aunt and uncle lived near Graceton Beach . . .  and this is what I wrote July 6th:

        A House By the Lake

     A gravel road to drive on
Crunching stones under the car tires
 Trees on either side of the road
      are they pine trees?
Evergreens with needles carpeting
   the ground under them?
         Ahead is the lake
viewed through the opening
         the road makes
On the right hand side a driveway
      leads to a small house.
Soft winds blow through the trees
    sunshine warms my skin
  when I climb out of the car.
  Rocks edge flower gardens
    Drift wood edges other gardens
White puffy clouds float in a sea of blue
I hear the waves washing in to shore
I picture the sandy beach strewn with
   gigantic boulders and drift wood
              ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Well, well, well, that is all. I got interrupted and never described the house. But I found
that journal entry after our trip up north and our visit to Graceton Beach. Just because I felt very
lazy I didn't edit this letter and type it up . . .  instead just shared it as is . . .


Graceton Church
Williams School

Norma graduated from this school

Graceton Beach


Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Whew! We are still alive!

Our photographer said, "Okay, look at each other and laugh!" Then, "You guys are really good at that!"

Krysta with Padre and her brothers

The Bridal Party

Mr. and Mrs. Allen Nolt

Photo credits go to Kaitlyn Zieset 

One of my favorite snapshots of the day was taken by Laura Wenger

Wednesday, May 1, 2019


Did Winnie the Pooh say, "I will be back."
Or Christopher Robin?

I will look that up.

Silence - half of February, all of March and April . . . I have been writing . . .
just not updating this blog.

May 1, 2019

That sounds like a new start.
There has been a blog post running through my head and it is time to get it on paper,
er, blog post. I was reminded of it when Krysta and I were shopping for fabric for her

Krysta held a bolt of white fabric up to her face and said, "Won't I look so pale on my
wedding day? I think I need to get a tan before June 29th." This question and statement
made me laugh.

You see, if Krysta is going to be a bride that means I will be the mother of the bride. (MOTB)
This has never happened to me before. So far in our family weddings I have been
the mother of the groom. Three times. It was an enjoyable position. I always thanked my
lucky stars that I didn't have to start out as (MOTB)  - because I was sure I would be a failure.

I am not an organizational whiz. In fact if someone else wants to go to all that work
"more power to them" I always say. Just give me a job back here in the corner and I will be
happy. I'll clean or wash dishes or do food prep (or sit in another corner and read my book
or crochet or knit.)

The other reason I laughed was the memory of a story from a master story teller.

Robert Fulghum


I have been collecting his books for a number of years. When things happen that remind me
of his stories I laugh again and go look up the story. This one about the MOTB is in his book

(That sentence reminded Robert of a quote he had copied in his journal. It was written in Latin,
from the writings of Horace. "Quid rides? Mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur." The translation: "Why do you laugh? Change the name, and the story is told of you.")

The story of the mother of the bride tells of a wedding disaster to end all disasters. Mother
had planned everything down to the minutest detail. When at last she sat down at the wedding
she breathed a sigh of great relief. While nine bridesmaids floated down the aisle Dad and the
bride were wandering around between tables piled high with delightful hors d' oeuvres. The
bride was tasting these yummy creations, then her dad gave her a glass of pink champagne
to "calm her nerves."

So when the bride started down the aisle the only thing people noticed was her white face.
And when she got about even with her mother she threw up -- actually Robert says
"she hosed the front of the chancel--hitting two bridesmaids, the groom, a ringbearer and me."

A never to be forgotten wedding!

I was thinking about weddings today -- and getting ready for them. It kind of reminds me
of getting ready to have a baby. At about seven or eight months into the pregnancy the
mother-to-be is planning the nursery d├ęcor and cleaning and going to Lamaze classes and
practicing all the breathing techniques and relaxing exercises. She is educating herself and
her husband by reading every book she can find about labor and delivery. She is walking
every day and trying to keep in shape because she's been told "labor is like entering a marathon"
and "this is the hardest thing you will ever do!"

She is thinking inside her head, "What have I gotten myself into?" And "I'm stuck!"
"There is no way out of this! I can only go forward." Gathering every ounce of fortitude
she prepares for the BIG DAY!

That's sort of how I'm feeling right now. I've even begun to walk a mile every day to get my
energy up and build up my fortitude. It's not that I, in those long ago days as a mother-to-be,
would have gone back and changed anything. I was thrilled beyond words with each of my pregnancies.

And I certainly wouldn't go back and change anything about Allen and Krysta's courtship, engagement and up-coming wedding. It just seems like the past twenty-one years since Krysta entered our family have flown by with the speed of light!

About that education . . . if any of you who have been the MOTB have any bits of wisdom to
send my way I would be most grateful to hear from you. When you think about our family in the
next two months you can send up a prayer for all of us.

I want to be like that other MOTB. At the 10th anniversary of this calamity, she threw a party.
Set up three TV's to show three videos of the gory scenes. The part that I admire about her is
that she was able to forgive everyone involved, including herself. And she was able to laugh at
herself. Robert Fulghum says, "There's a word for what she has. Grace."

P.S. I forgot to say - the title MOTB is not original with me.
It is borrowed from Robert Fulghum's story.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Technical difficulties

Well, well, well.

Now I know - don't monkey with the font size. But I have done that before without trouble.

Hang in there everyone. Help is on the way. Don't strain your eyes reading that small print.

I will be back . . .     (as Winnie the Pooh says)

Pepper Plays Nurse

Mom, my sisters, and I have quoted a sentence out of this book for most of our lives.
We must have heard this book being read to us so many times we memorized it.
Pepper decided to start a small animal hospital and collected needy animals to care
for. The sentence we quoted is, "Clear the way! Sick duck with a cold!"

More recently, after saying that I'd think, "I wonder where I could find that book?"
One day I asked Krysta to help me look it up. To start out I thought the phrase was,
"Make way, sick duck with a cold!" Typing that line brought up the book
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

"That's not it!" I was frustrated.

"What's the book about?" Krysta asked.

I had to put on my thinking cap. "It seems like there was a little girl that pretended
to be a nurse. She found a duck and rushed off to her house with it."

Krysta typed an abbreviated version of those memories and this image popped up.
"There it is! Oh, her name is Pepper! I forgot that part of the story!"

Image result for pepper plays nurse

image credits go to Google

Maybe having this book read to me made me think I would be a nurse some day.

It never occurred to me that I could be a vet and take care of animals.

(Those were the days before James Herriot wrote All Creatures Great and Small)

Or maybe there were so many aunts in my life who were nurses that I thought I would

be one, too. Later on I found out I love to read books about nurses, but I don't want to be one.

There was Aunt Hellen, who lived in Baudette during my growing up years.

Mom stayed with her when she had pneumonia and Trenda was in the hospital with pneumonia.

There was Aunt Luella, married to Uncle Joe. Great Grandpa Jake lived at their house. 

I remember many family reunions at Uncle Joe's house where the small fry traveled many miles

(in their imaginations) by "riding" around in the old cars behind the house.

Aunt Elnora lived in a little house close to Graceton Beach. Her nick name was Auntie Norn.

She wrote short essays that were published in the local newspaper. Later, those essays were

published in a book, North of Nowhere.

Aunt Lenore lived in Chicago. She and Uncle Slim would come to Minnesota to visit

Grandpa and Grandma Skrivseth. They would have all of us in stitches.

So many hilarious, deep belly laughs. This must have been a great stress reliever for everyone.

(That's what they say now anyway. Relieve stress. Laugh with your family.)

I didn't know Aunt Marge. She lived far away in California. I don't know if I ever met her. 

All of these gals are my Great-Aunts, Grandpa Ben's sisters.

My dad has six sisters. Strangely enough my sisters and I didn't attach 'aunt' to their names.

They were simply Norma, Sharon, Carol, Jo Ellen, Rhoda and Leah to us. Leah is only three

years older than me and always seemed like an older sister, not an aunt.

Carol and Leah graduated from nursing school.

My brother, Hans, is a nurse.

Now I am grown up and an aunt myself. Some of my nieces and nephews are grown up and are having their own families which means - scary thought - I am a Great Aunt.

When I was little I always thought my great aunts were incredibly old. There is probably no longer any danger that I will be a nurse some day. I would rather read books out loud to small children. It's fun for me to recommend books to someone who says, "I can't find anything to read."

Maybe I should volunteer at the library some day.




Wednesday, January 16, 2019

January 2019

Dear Friends and Family, It has been a long time since I've written. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered there is a blog that should be updated. December flew by with wings as we prepared for Christmas and a family reunion. It just gets more and more complex with varied work schedules, vacation days and all the joys of winter travel. 

Jeremy and Elizabeth Harshbarger

Evan and Chelsea Harshbarger

Krysta and Deanne Harshbarger

Jorgan and Zoey Harshbarger

Allen Nolt and Krysta Harshbarger 

Leona Skrivseth
(my mother)
Deanne traveled by train from western MT. Allen and Krysta picked her up at the train station Christmas Eve morning. They had a leisurely trip home with some sight seeing thrown in (the capital building in St. Paul) and a stop at Chick-fil-A for sustenance. The train ride was 24+ hours so Dea was a bit hungry.

They were giving me time to get the table cleaned off. It has a habit of being perpetually full of stuff and very messy!  These are the pictures I sent Dea to admire. She said, "Wow! So we can come home now?" Then I sent her the next photo in the line-up.

All that stuff had to go somewhere ... and it was time to wash dishes.
I texted, "I want my mommy!"
She texted back, "I want my mommy, too."
I think we were quoting Odyssey.
Or maybe Ree Drummond.

We had a wonderful time.
It was way too short.
The week went way too fast!
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas!
 Best wishes for a Happy New Year from our family to yours!
Love, Ellis and Dawn Harshbarger