Monday, December 26, 2011

a quilt!! Jacob's Ladder

Jacob's Ladder--quilted, bound, sleeved, and labeled.
Quilted by Sue DiVarco.

Inspired by Bonnie Hunter's encouragement to use yellows and large-scaled florals to replicate a vintage quilt in her collection, Florabunda.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

another barn is built

After a devastating fire in 1953, a barn is rebuilt.
This is the barn my sisters and brother and I worked in--cleaning the bulk tank, feeding calves with a bottle and then out of a bucket, cleaning the gutters and bedding the cows with straw, feeding the cows silage, ground corn, and hay. Also, a place of danger with the fierce bull and the openings of the haymow floor to throw down bales. We loved to shout in the silo to hear our echos.
The haymow was a wonderful place--sweet hay smell, newly born kittens to find in the bales, a long rope to swing from, loose straw to jump into from high bales.
Construction by Chuck Stienstra and Bill Hoekstra.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

a barn is built

A new barn is built by my grandfather in 1943. Alas, it is doomed to burn down just 10 years later, struck by lightning.
This magnificent barn is where my father worked as a teenager and young man.
Construction by my great-uncle, George Meerdink.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

lunch with the Dykstras during baling time

Uncle Joel, Uncle Donald, cousins Harlan and Kenny, Beth and Lynn and Grandpa.
Sioux County, Iowa mid 1960s.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Glenda, Leanne, and Lyle DeVos with Lynn and Janna Dykstra
Sioux County, Iowa mid 1960s.

cousins during the Depression

Robert Meerdink and Leroy Dykstra
Dad said you could tell that Robert's family was even worse off than theirs because his cousin Robert had to wear his sister's hand-me-down shoes.
Sioux County Iowa, mid 1930s.

Monday, December 19, 2011

grandpa and grandma

American Gothic
Sioux County Iowa, early 1960s.

plucking chickens

My grandma Cynthia Dykstra with the curlers, Grandpa Jurrien Dykstra in the hat. Janna and me in the background at work.
Beth is the half naked onlooker.
Sioux County Iowa, early 1960's.

friends of Aunt Hattie

Dela Vande Hoef

Arie Bousema

Photographs of friends of my Great Aunt Hattie Scholten.
As you can see, fashion was quite the thing even on the prairies.
Early 1900s, Sioux County, Iowa.

siblings, back door/front door.

Back door: Leroy Dykstra, straight from the fields, with his children, Janna, Lynn, Beth, and Lee.
Front door: leaving for church--wearing matching seersucker outfits made by Henrietta Dykstra.
Note the white-hair gene pool!
And, Scamp, one of our favorite dogs.
Circa 1967.

plowing with Cynthia and Jerry

My grandparents, Cynthia (Meerdink) and Jurrien Dykstra behind the plow with their horses.
Jerry would buy wild horses from Montana, break them into good farm horses, and sell them. He was known to be very good at this, and to be very good to the horses.
Cynthia walked to the fields with Jerry's lunch, and plowed while he ate so the horses would not rest too much and be too much to handle in the afternoon.
Cynthia would fall in love with these horses and deeply miss them when they were sold. This cycle played over and over for decades until tractors took over. Fifty years later she could name each horse in every photograph in her album.
Sioux County Iowa, about 1920.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

my great grandfather with his haystacks

My great grandfather William Meerdink was well respected for his haystacks and had his portrait taken in front of them.
Monet could paint them but grandpa could build them!
(These stacks are actually grain stacks (oats) not haystacks.)
About 1920, Sioux County Iowa.

My sisters and I are working with our mother taking apart our parents' house as she moves to her assisted living apartment. Watch for our history in photographs over the next few days.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

tip #15 cranberry cardamom muffins

Cranberry Cardamom Muffins

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh or frozen cranberries
¼ cup white sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup ground flax seeds (optional)--grind in blender
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cardamom

1/2 cup butter room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
½ tsp vanilla

Sugar-in-the-raw to sprinkle on top

1. In a bowl, toss cranberries and nuts with 1/4 cup sugar; set aside. In another bowl combine flour, flax, baking powder, salt and cardamom. Set aside.
2. Mix butter and second two sugars. Add eggs and milk; stir in flour mixture just until moistened. Fold in nuts and cranberries. It will be a stiff batter. Fill greased muffin tins two-thirds full. I like to sprinkle each with sugar-in-the-raw before baking.
3. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until muffins test done. Makes 24 muffins

I developed this recipe to use some of the flaxseed my Dad gave us for Christmas. I think I use the flax quite often, but I feel like the widow of Zarephath as the jar never empties—in fact, it looks like I’ve hardly used any at all.
The ground flaxseed gives these muffins a great texture. I do not use muffin papers so the outsides have a nice crust to them too.
They are great with cream cheese.

Tip: cardamom is very expensive--$10 a jar--because I use it seasonally, I store it in the freezer to keep it fresh. My neighbors borrow from me so they don't have to invest in a jar for just a few teaspoons a year. We do this with more things. Good neighbors!