Saturday, August 31, 2013

Beginning with a Clean Slate

No, I am not writing about school slates or even roof slates. I am beginning our next project. Figuring out what to do with this:

Looks almost religious, but there will surely be some unkind words before this is over. 

This is the way we left the Beltway Apartment last November 2012. (The two white rectangular glows are sun reflections from the two Velux windows.) The plate rack with blue/white plated were delivered to my MIL's friend back last March. And all of the sheer drapes have been removed.

Take my word for it, this apartment is HUGE by Dutch standards. The entire living and dining space is at least triple what you see above. And then a large kitchen, pantry big enough for washer, dryer, standup freezer, and lots of shelves! Two large bedrooms, a hall we plan to turn into a walk-in closet for both bedrooms, two bathrooms, and two toilets (one included in the master bathroom). And the foyer and a windowless study.

The plans are to start this make-over project in October 2013. When we go back to the Beltway, I will take more photos of the naked truth.

Until then, we can start dreaming (uh,planning).  ;}

Friday, August 30, 2013

Smile, Autumn is in the Air

I just know I felt a touch of a cool autumn breeze this morning while filling the hummingbird feeders. 

Will I feel it again tonight when we walk the "loop" around the meadow?

I hope so! I am so ready for cooler weather. 


Parking in front of the Beltway Apartment last October.

Give Me a Sign




Thursday, August 29, 2013

Black Magic Chocolate Cake is Delicious!

Yes, I baked a cake from scratch. While the oven was hot from our supper pizza and the roasting of excess eggplants, I decided to make the chocolate cake I wrote about in my August 28 blogpost. (shhhh -- tomato soup and Greek yoghurt/ buttermilk in the ingredients.) 

It was super simple to do "scratch," and the batter did not smell bad. I licked the batters and bowl, and the finished cake is yummy! We munched on it even before adding an icing. 

This is definitely a favorite thing today.

Lindy Loopies for Little Boys

My mom always called me Linda Lou, so I have named my ribbon loopy baby cuddlies "Lindy Loopies."

This is not just any DIY craft, but a recycle one. Since baby onesies and shirts have the cutest embroidered and stamped designs, I chose to try to give them an extended life. (Hanging around on tiny clothes hangers in thrift shops is definitely not a way to go.) Our local thrift shop sells the little bitty kiddie clothes for 25 cents, so I drop in every couple of weeks to see if they have something I can use.

As you notice in my photos, I try to use as much of the mini-garment as possible. Sleeves usually show up as ears on this crazy animal cuddlie. Sometimes I choose not to add ears. All of the ribbon loops are washable and securely triple attached. At this time, I do not plan to add anything like buttons or other small embellishments that might be dangerous for babies.

Here are the before and after shots of my Lindy Loopies for Boys:

Before--a baby shirt

After- a patriotic/athletic bear with ears, stars for eyes, and sports balls grin.

Before- out of this world onesie

Back of the onesie

After-Lindy Loopy in space

Back of the Lindy Loopy (phone home!)

Before-Kiddie sport shirt (front and back are the same)

After-sporty bear with ears and loops

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Big Cheat

Today I am going to send you to check out a stinky batter cake. 
I haven't tried it yet, but I will as soon as I buy the tomato soup.

Check out

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Warning! 16666 is Coming!

Numbers were never my forte. 

Since my son and I have been plagued by the number 666 in our phone numbers, I guess that must be the sign of the beast. 

WHAT? Who believes in that stuff? Not I!

But in a very short time my Wetcreek Blog will hit the 16666 viewer mark. 

Hm. Wonder who will be the lucky one?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Yes! Tomato Jam Session!

We have had tomatoes coming out of our ears! Not complaining, just saying!

It looks like there are still more on the vines. My plants look like vines, since they have all fallen over onto the pathways between the raised beds. The plants were way too heavy for our little wire things. But we knew that, and it was kind of fun hunting for ripe tomatoes in the tall grass that I could not even weedeat. Like hunting for red Easter eggs! ;))))

After watching last Tuesday's harvest get riper and riper on our huge Delft blue platters, I decided to do something with them today. So I blanched the cleaned tomatoes (Celebrity, Arkansas Traveler, Roma, and French cherry tomatoes), dunked them in cold water, easily removed the skins, and made JAM.

Here are the results and empty platters:

Beautiful color. Even has an appropriate sell by date! The dark spot in the jar is a blackberry.

Here is my recipe:

The Last Tomatoes Jam
(Wetcreek Kitchen, August 2013)

About 5 cups peeled tomatoes (all sorts of varieties)
2 peeled and sliced Gala apples (I know, they are not cooking apples. Only kind we had.)
A handful of wild blackberries I had stored in a baggie in the freezer
Almost 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice  (Who keeps fresh lemons way out here in the country?)
1 package of Ball jam making pectin powder
5 cups of white sugar

1. Cook the tomatoes, apples, and blackberries until the tomatoes fall apart.
2. Add the lemon juice and the Ball pectin powder and cook to a rolling boil.
3. Add the sugar and continue boiling for a minute or so.
4. Scald glass jars and lids.
5. Add hot jam to warm jars. Screw on jar lids tightly and flip upside down on clean towel on table.
6. Clean up your mess in the kitchen and then turn the jars upright.
7. Let the jars cool overnight. Then store them in the fridge. 

If the jam does not JAM, I will use it as ice cream topping. The leftover syrup in the pan tastes great!

Next Day Results:

Jam did not Jam! 
Maybe I rushed it. 
Maybe the tomatoes were too juicy. 
Maybe I will try Serta next time.
Maybe not enough sugar.
Maybe I won't bother with making tomato jam again.
I will not try to remedy this situation, and I will try to find some use for my Tomato Syrup;)))))

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Morning in Wetcreek Kitchen

Simple fried eye, 7up/Greek yoghurt biscuits, and hot tea.

Can't breakfast have dessert? 7up/Greek yoghurt biscuit and honey.

Just in case you can't find this easy peasy biscuit recipe, here we go again.

7UP Biscuits

2 cups Bisquick

1/2 cup sour cream (I use my homemade Greek yoghurt)

1/2 cup 7UP

1/4 cup melted butter

Cut sour cream/ yoghurt into biscuit mix, add 7UP. Makes a very soft dough.

Sprinkle additional biscuit mix on board or table and pat dough out. Melt 1/4 cup butter in a 9 inch square pan. Place cut biscuits in pan and bake at 450 degrees until golden brown( around 12 minutes). 

Note: I have started just dropping ice cream scoop size dollops into the butter pan. They come out like this picture.

I used to make the 7UP biscuits a couple of times each week. One time I had no 7UP and used ginger ale. The biscuits were great!  Some people think these taste like Popeye's, but to me they are not as greasy or as heavy. In other words, they are a whole lot better!

Original recipe from

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cat in the Hat? Naw, the Shed!

Poor Fazio! 

This noontime I dropped by to check on my "home alone" mom and my brother's animals.

My youngest brother and his lovely wife are off at the beach this weekend. They are on a well-deserved break from their jobs, yard work, mom-sitting, grandbaby-sitting, etc., etc. 

They must have been in a real hurry when they left on Thursday, because this is what I found today:

My bro had asked me to check on the dog and cat food bowls today or tomorrow. After doing my usual thrift shop visit, I stopped off at their house. When I arrived, I noticed an almost full bowl for the dogs and a half full one for the cats. I did not think much about it until I was ready to go back home. I saw the bob-tailed cat and noticed the almost perfect half filled silicone bowl. Something told me to top that bowl off for the next two days, so I walked over to the garage closet/shed and opened the door. Their flabby tabby Fazio pushed me aside and waddled out of the hot room. His fur was rumpled, and he headed straight for the food bowl. The poor kitty had spent two full days locked up in a hot shed with a rolled up bag of cat food.

Moral of this story: Before you go on a trip, do a headcount/tailcount of all of your outside pets.

Not Fazio, but looks like him.

Hearing Loss

My paternal grandmother was deaf. 

For as long as I knew her, she was profoundly deaf. I heard stories from my father that she had not always been that way, but that she lost her hearing perhaps from the dosages of quinine that her mother gave to her when she was a child. Dad also said that my grandmother could still play the piano even when she could no longer hear. And, of course, she could "read lips."

In my 37 years of teaching, I had the opportunity and pleasure of teaching one profoundly deaf student Ashley and one blind student Dallas. Both girls were (and still are) amazingly brilliant. 

Ashley was a bubbly and giggly 7th grader in my English class at the American School of the Hague. Her classmates and I loved her and marveled at her keen awareness and superior lip reading skill. My spelling tests every Friday were "sentence dictations," and Ashley always had a perfect score. Amazing! She was never afraid to ask questions or give oral recitations, and was the ideal student. We saw Ashley recently at the airport while making a flight back to The Netherlands. She has finished her university studies, has a steady boyfriend, and has a great life.

Dallas is a young country girl who is as "smart as a whip" and has a mind of her own. When Dallas was in 2nd grade, I served as her reading "tutor" each Wednesday for about 30 minutes. Dallas had already learned to read Braille by the age of 7! She told me that she could see some colors, and she demonstrated that to me. But basically we focused on reading. While some of her classmates were struggling with normal reading, she could zip right through a Braille story with no problems. I had been warned that Dallas had an attitude and was a bit of a behavior problem, but that was never the case for me. 

"Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Overwintering Agaves and the Flower Garden

The temperatures here are still too hot (90's F) to think about what is going to happen to my plants this coming fall and winter, but I can force myself to plan ahead.

We already have a plan for our many, many potted variegated agaves. (By the way, anything variegated will usually not tolerate really cold weather. So plan accordingly.) Last year we transported the potted agaves to a dry place under the eaves of our dining room wall. Agaves tend to rot in pots if they are too wet, so we just ignored them the entire winter. They received adequate ventilation and enough moisture from the odd blowing rain to keep them healthy and alive until we put them back out into the yard last spring. They look glorious this summer!

August 2013

August 2013 (live oak near the lane)

August 2013 (live oak near the grapevines)

March 2013

March 2013

March 2013

The  agave relatives (they all have the same mother/grandmother) planted in the ground next to the driveway are babied all winter. A couple of years ago we ordered a huge roll of white gauzy type garden cloth to protect our plants from frost. My hub cut the long lengths and labeled them, so we just roll them out over the prickly agaves, anchor them with bricks, and protect our huge collection of agaves from the frosty temps of the dead of winter. It means that we have to keep an eye on the weather forecasts and sometimes get out in the dark of night to spread the covers, but we haven't lost a plant in two years. Remember to remove the "bedcovers" before the warm rays of sun beat down upon your plants the next day. Even winter days in the Deep South can be sunny and warm and cook your plants when they are under cover!

The plants in our front flowerbed do not need much added water during the months of November, December, January, and February. So my hub turns off the drip irrigation sprinkler, and he stores away any tubes that might get damaged during the cold months. Most of the plants in our flowerbeds are perennials, so when they seem to die back, I either let them be or cut back the sometimes ugly stalks. If I am really ambitious, I plant chrysanthemums in the pots inside the beds. We usually get enough rain in the winter to keep them growing.

When we built our house, we chose not to put up a railing on our porches. We use large pots of plants instead to edge the high porch. When cold weather approaches, we try to save what plants we can by moving them on the porch up against the house or by lugging them through the front hallway and then out onto the back screened in porch. A few extra moving blankets thrown over the tender plants keep out the frosty temps on the coldest nights. I have even been able to overwinter some geraniums this way.

March 2013

Last winter we just moved all of the baby agaves and my four windowboxes with geraniums to the semi-open barbecue porch. Everything survived with minimal effort.

Getting ready for cold weather just takes a little planning and some muscle power. My hub has learned how to maneuver his tractor with a lift so that we do only minimal lifting, not the moving.

Start planning your strategies before the thermometer takes a dive. 

Now if we could only count on a few 60 degree mornings in the next few weeks, maybe I could clean out these veggie beds and plant my fall garden. (But our summer tomatoes and eggplant and okra are still producing!) 
Summer 2013

Summer 2013

Last year I planted my fall garden the first week of October and had spinach and lettuce for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  What a treat! 

;>} Wetcreek Gardens

Why is Old Sacred?

Old cars
Old homes
Old dogs
Old dishes
Old furniture
Old jewelry
Old roses
Old aprons
Old books
Old photographs
Old documents
Old cats
Old clothes
Old buildings
Old tractors
Old rugs
Old chests
Old ships
Old radios
Old paintings
Old clocks
Old hands
Old skin
Old gray hair
Old rocking chairs
Old people
Old age.

One of two very, very old bowls that belonged to my MIL's grandmother. Well over 100 years old. Thus, OLD and was always special to my MIL. Now special to us. If that is all you have left from your great grandmother, then it is sacred, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Paul Bodifee in Our Living Room

Last fall my hub shipped over some wonderful art work that he received in his inheritance from his parents. 

The painting in the photo below we call "Doedeltje" and depicts a wonderful old Dutch gentleman cleaning a milk can. Paul Bodifee painted this treasure around the beginning of the 1900's.

We found a perfect place for this little treasure over my hub's secretary in the living room. The little lamp gives it just enough light, and my retirement Delft plate and an old French mantle clock finish the look.

The Deventer artist Paul Bodifee painted another portrait of "Doedeltje."

Hendrik Ligtenberg was the actual name of 'Doedeltje'. He was a striking Deventer city character, who was a kind of wanderer. Almost every day he was on the IJssel River. He fished and went from door to door to sell his catch. He also saved many people from the IJssel River, for which he received a medal. But he also fished out cadavers from the river, which sometimes earned him a monetary reward. 

Doedeltje lived in the Noordenbergstraat of Deventer. He often amused the people with jokes and pranks in order to get money for a refreshing alcoholic drink, which he really enjoyed.├źn/deventenaren/doedeltje-(hendrik-ligtenberg)-(1838-1921)

(Hendrik Ligtenberg was de eigenlijke naam van 'Doedeltje'. Hij was een opvallende Deventer stadsfiguur, die zich voordeed als een soort zwerver. Hij was bijna elke dag op de IJssel te vinden. Hij viste en ging met zijn vangst langs de deuren om te verkopen. Hij redde veel mensen uit de IJssel, waarvoor hij een medaille kreeg. Maar hij haalde ook lijken op uit de rivier, waarvoor hij soms een zoekpremie ontving.

Doedeltje woonde in de Noordenbergstraat. Hij haalde vaak grappen uit om de mensen te amuseren en zo geld van hen los te krijgen voor een borrel, die er bij hem wel inging.)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Looking Down on What Should Be White!

Oops! Drippy Dairy Queen hamburger spot on my white blouse! I know, just like Oma. :(

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rice Bowl II in Houston has Delicious Indonesian Cuisine-- August 2013

I am not getting paid for this review, unless you call the yummy food a payment. I will definitely return to Rice Bowl II in Houston, Texas (14360 Bellaire Blvd #98, Houston. Phone : 281-988-9912) the next time I want to eat great Indonesian food. 

As the restaurant does not serve a real Indonesian rijsttafel, you might try what we did. Be sure to ask for the Indonesian food menu and order a variety of dishes. My hub suggested that we sit at a round table with a lazy susan, and that was a super idea for sharing our orders.

Here are some photos to prove how delectable this food really is:

All four of us were ready to attack this first setting, but there was more to come.

And this is our self-made rijsttafel with seven dishes plus rice and kroepoek.

My plate that contains a bit of EVERYTHING! Oh, yes!

And these are the leftovers that our son boxed up to take home.

My plate at the end of a scrumptious Indonesian dinner in Houston, Texas at Rice Bowl II.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Don't Touch!

I can't think of anything that I want to photograph today concerning "touch." So I will deviate from the guidelines of August Break photos and show what my guys did today.

They installed a ladder to the attic above our son's garage. There were a few anxious moments, but nothing fell on their heads. Whew!

Now for the photos of the final product. (Touch ups and trim work will come later, but the scary part is over.)


Can you believe that for years my mother-in-law climbed up a ladder like this (with a basket of washed clothes) to take the washed clothes to hang dry in her attic. She still used this method until she was in her seventies, too.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Having Fun, Because I Can

You Are My Sun(flower)shine Gathering

These beautiful sunflowers were in the center of our son's kitchen table when we arrived late last night. Thanks to K.

A bouquet always reminds me of a gathering. This time, since our son is working from home this morning, a business gathering comes to mind.

Committee Meeting 


Business Partners

And, of course, the Secretary