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!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

tip # 14 turkey salad

Our favorite recipe from my mother-in-law Lu is Turkey Salad.
Great on a pretzel roll a couple of days after the feast.

To make, cut up some onions into wedges, have some dried parsley leaves, and lots of leftover turkey. You will need to use a hand grinder like this one I have of my Grandma Dykstra (Seth has asked my mother, his Grandma Dykstra for hers as she is taking apart her kitchen.)
You can use a food processor but while it will taste the same, it will not be the same consistency.

Grind the turkey, adding to the grinder parsley and onion as you go.

Take this ground mixture and add lots of fresh ground pepper and some mayonnaise. How much? Each member of this family likes a bit different proportions, so whoever helps me grind gets to choose the amount for this batch. I enjoy the conversations while we do this together.

Tip: After a feast it is easiest to debone the turkey while it is still warm--you will have the meat ready for the salad or other leftovers, the bones on the boil for stock, and room in the fridge for everything else.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

tip # 13 triangle labels sewn into the binding

I used to make labels like in the second picture--and often did not make them as I would have to applique them and it would be put off until later--so much later that I would forget when I made the quilt.
I learned to include the one side and bottom seam in with the binding, saving two edges of applique. I use square or rectangles at times, but, by making it a triangle, there is a straight line to applique the top edge--no corner to sew. I put labels on when I put on the binding--can write on it after it is on the quilt. That pesky step seems to be neglected at times...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

from my Grandma Dykstra (and I think from my Great-Grandma Meerdink)

My mother is sorting through her things and offered this pin cushion to me.
It was my Grandma Dykstra's and from what I remember, she said it was her mother's.
It has a tag on it with my grandma's name on it in my handwriting--I remember putting that on and taking it to the nursing home so she would have something from her work at home close by. That was 30 years ago.
Mom also gave me a darning egg that is similar to one I already have. It is not the one we grew up with so I asked her to please keep a look out for that one for me.
I keep a pair of knee highs from my high school years in my sock drawer because they were darned by my grandma.

Monday, November 07, 2011

tip #12 macaroni and cheese, making the crumbs in bulk

I hesitate to mess with Cook's Illustrated recipes out of respect for their rather obsessive attention to getting it just right, but I have adapted their Macaroni and Cheese recipe to our family's taste.
It is a change of the proportions of seasonings and the sauce to macaroni ratio.

My biggest innovation comes from my dislike of getting out the food processor to make the bread crumbs. I now make a triple batch and put the extra in a zip lock freezer bag so it is ready to go the next two times I make it.

Macaroni and Cheese (with 4 guys in the house, I usually double this recipe as seen in the photograph)
3-6 slices of white bread (I sometimes use Pita) and 3-4 Tablespoons cold butter, shredded in food processor
macaroni: 1 pound shells or elbows, cook until just past al dente stage
sauce: 3 1/2 T butter, melted, stir in 2 heaping teaspoons of dry mustard and 1/4 heaping teaspoon of cayenne pepper. stir in 1/4 cup flour and cook for a couple of minutes. gradually stir in 3 1/2 cups milk. cook until medium white sauce. stir in 2 1/2 cups of shredded cheese mixture of cheddar, jack, and colby. stir in some black pepper.
assembly: mix sauce and macaroni. put into broiler safe pan that has been sprayed with Pam. top with crumbs. put under broiler until toasted.


Here is how to make the tulip block that I made for my parents' quilt.
Block finishes 5 1/2 inches

Cutting for one block
background: one 1 1/2 inch square, one 1 1/2 inch by 2 1/2 inch rectangle, two half square triangles cut from 2 1/2 inch strip with EZ angle, two 2 inch square backgrounds to stitch and flip on the leaves.

tulip: one 1 1/2 inch square, one 2 1/2 inch square; two half square triangles cut from 2 1/2 inch strip with EZ angle of flower color.

leaves: two 2 inch by 4 1/2 inch rectangles of green.

bulb: one 2 inch square of brown.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

fall blogger quilt festival: sixty tulips

Amy's Creative Side is hosting her blogger fall quilt festival and I encourage you to visit others in her post.

Sixty Tulips was made for my parents' sixtieth wedding anniversary this summer. The quilt was made from batik scraps for the tulips and a few longer lengths for the background, sashing, and setting pieces. Beautifully quilted by Sue DiVarco.
Our gathering and celebration memories of this summer are especially precious as my father died in a farming accident six weeks later.

Monday, October 31, 2011

tip #11 simple graces

My friend Lois, who's mother was recovering from surgery, said a friend came over and changed her mother's sheets so she had fresh linens to sleep in. I thought I'd post a list of things that I've seen be  simple graces that can have a lot of meaning for a person dealing with illness.

--fill the gas tank
--clean the fridge
--take out the trash
--bring over supper AND a sandwich for lunch
--write a card but keep it simple--even reading a long note can take too much effort
--bring over beverages. Medications can do a number on your taste buds. I like to head over to our neighborhood bodega and select a variety of Mexican sodas to bring. Sometimes you get weary of the 7-up and ginger ale and find the tamarind or pineapple soda is just right.
--JUST sit
--shovel the snow/rake the leaves/mow the lawn
--offer to make some insurance company calls 
--if you are visiting on the phone, offer to read the paper or a book--allows for companionship while limiting the amount of talking the sick person needs to do to keep up his/her end of the conversation.
--take the caregiver for a walk

AND, our family has benefited in our bereavement time from these supports:

--two extended family members brought campers and parked them on my parents' driveway to give us extra bedrooms and space.
--on our block here in Chicago it is a tradition for the neighbors to help the family prepare for the funeral; they come and take shirts and suits to the cleaners, shine shoes, do store runs for clothing items, wash the car. Anne Mette took Paul shopping for a suit and arrange tailoring. Sharon Johnson made sure Andy and Seth were ready with their clothes.

Please add more ideas in comments.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

nine of the dozen Scholten klein meisjes

Here are nine of the dozen Scholten klein meisjes.
Aunt Beanie, Aunt Henny, Lynn
Rachel, Beth, Gretchen, Janna, Helen, Lorelei, Mary Ann, Elaine
not pictured:
Kirsten, Yvonne, Nancy
(Note that Mary Ann did not get the memo on the regulation haircut.)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

tip #10 roast a turkey

This hint was given to me by my mother-in-law, Lucille. Before I met her, I thought you only made turkey for holidays.
She taught me that when life is overwhelmingly busy, roast a turkey. Don't bother with the stuffing or traditional sides.
The turkey will yield a week's worth of meals and keep everyone in the house fed.
This one went into the oven at eight o'clock this morning.

Thursday, September 29, 2011