Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Birthday Becca!

HaPpY BiRtHdAy BeCcA!!!

I hope you have a marvelous day and get all your birthday wishes, including a long nap! 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Schimpff's Confectionary

 As a family outing, we crossed the bridge from Louisville to Jeffersonville, IN to visit the Schimpff's Confectionary store, where they still make their own candy and chocolate.

Located at the current place in 1891 by German immigrant Gus Schimpff and his family, this confectionery has been making candy through three great floods of the Ohio River, the Great Depressions, and several wars now.  They first started making candy in Louisville in the 1850s (on Preston Street) but moved across the river in 1871.  It makes me wonder if the Hauss family (my German great great great?- grandparents) confectionery was their main competition or not (I'm not sure of the location of my relatives' storefront.)  

Cinnamon Red Hots are a signature of Schimpff's candy , having been making them since 1891.  The current owners, still Schimpffes!, make the candy on the same equipment.

They boil the corn starch, sugar, water, and a bit of red coloring today ( I am sure I am missing some ingredient)  until it reaches boiling point-- I think that is near 300 ºF.

Once it is reached the correct temperature, they pour out the liquid onto a the antique table that has plumbing underneath the metal top -- so they can turn on hot or cool water to help cool the candy.

Once the candy start to cool, that is when the cinnamon oil is added to flavor the candy. As Mrs. Schimpff kept reminding us, cinnamon oil comes from China at $50 for a 20 oz bottle.  They use about 1.5 oz of oil to flavor  a small "demonstration" batch, like what they were making today.

After they pour on the oil, they mix into the candy by continual folding it over and over.  The oil seeps into it. 

At the appropriate moment, when the candy has cooled to a certain point but is still mailable, it is time to snip the large lump into smaller lumps to run it through the press. 

The press is what gives the red hot its shape.  At one point this was all hand cranked, but not it is is slightly motorized.
Schipmff's Confectionery has the largest collection of candy press rollers in the country (maybe she said the world).  Depending on what hard candy they are making depends on what shapes they use.  They typically use only three shapes for their red hots, lemon drops, and horehound cough drops.

A demonstration batch will make about 1,500 red hots.  Each strip will cool on the butcher block counter top, coated in sugar so nothing sticks.

And to get separate, individual red hots?
You just pick up a strip and they break apart!  One doesn't even have to drop the strip or anything.  At this point, the candy is still slightly warm but definitely hard.  That is when they pass out a sample. I have to say, it is fantastic.

The store is getting ready for Easter and has lots of flowers and bunnies out.  The counters were full of brightly colored candies of all types: chocolate , coconut, peanut butter cremes, caramels.  You name it, they had it.  And we bought it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Great Grandkiddos

G'Gm and G'Gpa drove down for a visit for the afternoon.  It is rare that they get to see all four of us grandkids in one place, let alone all four great-grandkids, Annabelle, Juliette, Chloe, and Brando.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fun Ball with Cousins

Everyone is home now--everyone but Will, who has to go to London for work.  The cause for the reunion? Spring Break in Oregon!  So, the J Hauss's are coming into town.  This is reason enough to break out the FUN BALL for the cousins! 

Load 'em, spin 'em round, and roll 'em out! 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

It's Good to be Home

How good? This good:  homemade muffins, cookies, dinners, and cakes... and Mom is still baking. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Highland Visit

 I went over to Nikole & Dan's house tonight for dinner, in the Highlands area for dinner.  They have a beautiful home with as many issues as our older home.  Only, their house is already beautiful furnished, as Nikole has been collecting antiques long for over 10 years. She and I have been friends since we were 4.  It is nice to have someone who knows you, knows our family that well.

She had her sister, sister's hubby, and sister's baby over for dinner too. In Kentucky, we start teaching them early about bourbon and beer ...

 no baby actually consumed any alcoholic, but it made a funny photo.
 ...and homemade orangecello.  Like Lemoncello, only but more Tang-like.

What is funny about this photo of us is that I see our mothers.  We have numerousn photos of us over the years, and as we have grown up, I see images of Deborah (my mom) and Marnie (Nikole's mom).  Our mothers are amazing women, so it is fine by us to look like them, and hopefully behave like them.  It is also wonderful to know what we have in store for us as we get ever older: more photos, more dinners, and more orangecello.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Aunt Mim, Come Shhheet

"Aunt Mim, come shhettt with me. Come chase me.  Come play." 

Can you resist that face? those eyes? 
Yeah, me neither. 

I am home with the family, playing with my nephew.  We are having a grand time. 

Come join too?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Holy Rood Cemetery

Holy Rood Cemetery is about a half mile from our house and it is where we frequently walk Stirling.  The graveyard was established in 1832 by Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown and has lots of Irish Catholics buried there. 

It has amazing views as well.  You can easily see the National Cathedral and down into Georgetown. It is a sad place too, as lots of the grave stones are toppled over or so corroded from acid rain that you can't read them anymore.  There are also about 1,000 unmarked graves for free and enslaved African-Americans in a back section, buried there around the time of the Civil War.

The earliest birth we have found so far is from 1818-- they were born in Ireland, died in District.  It is also amazing to walk through and see which names are out of fashion, back in, or have always been popular.  Lots of Williams on stones; alas, no Miriams, though I did find a Marian.

Georgetown University is now the caretaker of the cemetery, though there isn't much care going on besides grass being cut.  Supposedly they are trying to move out the bodies so they can develop the land, though there is no evidence of any related activity.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Purples & Blues

I just love these mini Japanese Irises.  They are the second flower to bloom in our garden (snow drops are always the first) and signal to me that Spring really is coming.  I love their purple and light blue hues.

This year, a single daffodil has joined in their fun thus far-- those usually blossom a bit later for us.  You can see that we have lots of daffodils and tulips on their way, as well as greening leaves on the azaleas. 

Monday, March 14, 2011

Figs & Rhubarb!

Both the fig tree and rhubarb plant are growing!  This year we can actually harvest some of the stalks from the rhubarb and what is very exciting is that two of the three plants made it through the winter. Lots of home grown, home made rhubarb crumble to come.

And figs!  The tree is covered in tiny bulbous bits that will soon turn into delicious figs.  We don't do a thing to this tree and it produces so much fruit every year.  I have now perfected my jam so this year I will attempt to make fig bars, or fig newtons as I called them growing up.  What will be so great about fig bars is that I can make them and mail them to a certain clever girl out west whose fig tree still isn't producing.... 

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Walk

Sunday was a brilliantly sunny day-- Spring is finally coming!  It has been cold since November and everyone I know is ready for the warmth.  We went walking through the Olmstead Woods at the National Cathedral, up to the Bishop's Garden, to see what is poking through their garden.

You can see the Cathedral towers through the trees-- soon to be blocked by all the leaves.

Stirling checks to see if we are still with her as we walk along the path.  She should keep checking-- we have a tendency to duck behind trees and play hide and seek with her. 

This is what happens when Will takes over taking photos.  After snapping photos of our behinds--both Stirling's and mine (notice how I did not post those)--he gets glared at.

However, you all love the tartan cap that matches Stirling's collar.

In the Bishop's Garden and noticed that their roses were trimmed back and full of new leaves; their tulips leaves are unfurling, and their mini Japanese irises are all in bloom.  It inspired us to get some tidying done at our house.  Will spent the rest of the afternoon moving and reorganizing the wood pile; sweeping off the patio; and planting even more bulbs.  I spent the rest of the afternoon tackling our pervasive crab grass problem-- just like my father!-- and after 3 hours of pulling up the nasty stuff, manged to clear only about a 3 foot circular  patch of grass.  *sigh* 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sprouts are up!

Our sprouts are up and doing quite well with the grow lights. They seem to be stronger than in previous years.  We have several small plants that are growing a second set of leaves.  Usually, the plants get very tall and thin, since they are striving for the light from the windows-- and they are on the floor.  With the grow lights so close, the sprouts' stems are actually green, not white, and so are much healthier.  All the energy is going into producing leaves and not growing up.

We think that for the first time we will have nice plants to put into the garden instead of weak, floppy ones. 

Here is what we have under the lights: tomatoes (about 7 varieties), beans, herbs (basil, sweet basil, thyme, coriander), cantaloupe, lettuce (romaine, butter, speckled), chard, and peppers (red, yellow, and hot).  We have more seeds that we will sow directly into the ground, when the time comes.  In the meantime, we will be watching the amazing progress of these plants.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Another on the way

Just as our one orchid loses its flowers, we have another one about to burst into bloom.  Spring is coming, it really is.  We have lots of bulbs up in the yard and some of our seedlings have sprouted (cantaloupe! basil! tomatoes!).  Rain is about to deluge us for the next 24-36 hours, and the temperature is supposed to be in the mid-40s. While we need the rain for all the new plants poking out of the ground, and our two rain barrels need to be filled, I am not sure I want to be under a flood watch.  I have my rain boots ready though.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Planting Season!

We have started sowing seeds! Only a few for the moment-- the rest we will directly plant into the ground.
We got our packets from Burpee last week and taking advantage of the time and sun on the weekend, Will set to planting the tomatoes, marigolds, chard, etc.  

Inside, Will built a new shelving unit to take advantage of our tall windows, not to mention he will no longer ruin the wooden top of the other table when the plants overflow during watering.
He is very clever and added two grow lights on the bottom shelves...

The lights are controlled by a switch he added on the side.  Will is very proud of this switch.  He was continually turning it on and off, to make sure that it still works. 

Now are have our seedlings under the lights and anxiously awaiting sprouts.  The  marigolds are already up (after two days under the lamps) but nothing else yet.  We will let you know when something starts peeking through the soil.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

Biscuit Time!

We have Biscuit for the weekend-- her parents went off for a family birthday celebration.  Stirling is thrilled to have Biscuit time for three whole days.  They have already been wrestling like professional WWF characters.  We have lots of plans for walks, romps, and treats.