Thursday, July 28, 2005

Birthday Memories

Today is my birthday. 29 sounds old-not that it is old, it just sounds so mature, so grown up. I'm not sure I have arrived there yet. But regardless of my age or stage of maturity, I have been rather nostalgic today-remembering my childhood birthdays.
I have always loved birthdays. I think my family thought I might eventually outgrow this childish eagerness. I was always glad that I had a summer birthday and even more glad when that day was finally here! It was pure torture to wait as all the family birthdays came and went from March, April, May and June and then finally... it was my turn!
A number of my birthdays were spent cruising across the country in our station wagon on our summer vacations. I especially remember my 7th birthday- posing for the camera while proudly holding a waxy, store-bought , smiley-face cake. Never mind that I was in Nebraska in 100 degree temperatures. Or that I was camping in a frog-infested campground . Or that my brother was making crazy faces behind me because he couldn't stand the thought of not being in the picture!
Then the birthdays at home- the coconut-covered rabbit cake one year and my Strawberry Shortcake themed party another year.
But most of all, I remember homemade peach ice cream. Every year, Mom would get some of the first Oregon peaches so she could make the ice cream for my birthday. Most years, I would have that instead of a cake. ( The year of Strawberry Shortcake, we had strawberry fruit pops instead. I was 10 and well, peach ice cream is not pink or red.) Mom would make the ice cream in the morning so it could freeze until after supper when we could celebrate. Well, our family's share would freeze, but we would always take some to my dad's work and share with his co-workers. They loved it and would talk about it year after year. Our neighbors also got in on my birthday. Mom would scoop up ice cream in styrofoam dishes to share. It became so popular that even a couple of birthdays in my teen years, when I had developed a serious milk allergy, Mom would still whip up a batch of peach ice cream while I would either eat some made with soy milk or eat another treat. "We all just enjoy it so much!" was her way of explaining that one.
When we were in Oregon recently, we went to visit our old neighbor who is much like a Grandma to me. While sharing memories, she related one of the things she enjoyed most while we kids were growing up was getting to sample the birthday treats, especially the homemade peach ice cream.
So today as I ate a special birthday dinner and shared non-homemade vanilla ice cream with raspberry sauce with my husband, I was reminded that even as we get older, birthdays and special days are meant to share.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Our sunflowers and zinnias are finally in full bloom. They look so pretty and are probably the most successful part of my gardening experience this year. The sunflowers are a smaller red variety and not quite as tall as their giant yellow relatives. (One stalk is six feet tall when the seed packet said only four to five feet.) The bees have appeared with the blooming of the flowers, which is fine as long as I am not there at the same time.:-)
I found a sweet little poem that I want to share with you. I don't know who wrote it. It reminds me of the simple joys of nature.

The wind whispering through the trees,
The soft and peaceful buzz of bees,
The scent of flowers on the breeze,
All that I ask please, is these.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Tomato Basil Bread

This bread is delicious and makes a nice, crusty, round loaf that is a great compliment to soups and salads as well as any Italian dish.
Tomato Basil Bread
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil or 4 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3-3 1/2 cups flour

In mixer bowl, dissolve yeast, tomato paste and sugar in warm water. Stir basil, oil and salt into yeast mixture. Gradually beat in flour, 1/2 cup at a time until a stiff dough forms. Place dough in large greased bowl, turning to coat. Let rise until doulbled in size , about 1 1/2 hours. Grease a baking sheet. Punch down dough. on oiled surface, knead dough until smooth and elastic. Shape dough into round loaf and place on prepared baking sheet. Let rise until doubled, about 1- 1 1/2 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut a large "X" in top of loaf. Bake loaf for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and bottom sounds hollow when tapped.
* For variety, add 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes or 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese to dough.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Welcome to Mary Ann's house!

Welcome to my little home on the web. Thanks for joining me on this adventure. I have always enjoyed writing(except when I had to do it for an assignment:-) and this blog will provide an outlet for any thoughts I just have to share.
I have been married to my sweet husband almost one year now.So, yes, we are still honeymoooners.:-) We don't have any children at present, although 2 weeks ago we had 2 adorable little kittens. We were starting to get used to "being parents" when they decided to leave home and find their own way in life. So we are now bereaved parents.:-)
I can't guarantee anything in the way of blog topics....who knows what I'll be thinking of next? But you can expect recipes, links to my favorite sites, general musings about life in general, and inspiration from God's Word.
Again... welcome to my house. I am so excited you are here!