Fourth of July Fun

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

me in my homemade floatGrowing up in a town of 1,000 people was just the right fit for me.  We lived almost in the center of town…2 blocks from uptown, 3 blocks from the school and 2 blocks from the park.  As most small towns do, we always had a full day celebration on the 4th of July.  It would begin with a festive parade, complete with fire engines, police cars, floats, tractors and horses.  The kids would stand at the edge of the road, bag in hand, ready to get a months supply of free candy that was thrown out to the crowd from the passing entries.  The parade started at the grade/ high school, went down main street, turned at the hotel and went straight down to the park.  It was always exciting because we only had to walk 1/2 a block to reach the parade route.  We would cross the street with our blankets and lawn chairs sit in my Aunt Doris and Uncles Shellys yard.  This was the meeting spot for the extended family to assemble.  For many years we would have a fish fry and potluck in that same back yard.  They would un-thaw the fish that the men and ladies had caught that previous summer when we all went on vacation together in Wisconsin.  After the parade, while the adults were cooking the food, the kids would go to the park for the awards ceremony so see who’s float was the winner, and then to play some kids games.

moms creationToday I began going through some photos that we kept in a trunk after my parents passed away.  It was too painful to look at them for the past 5 years, and I will admit I have shed a few tears in the last few hours.  I found these photos of floats my mom created when I was a baby, and  that continued throughout our grade school years.  I just look at these and I shake my head in total awe of my mothers creativity and spirit.  These were made with a wagon,  chicken wire and countless tissues.  This one is probably the best one that I could find.  The date on the photo is 1960, which means I was 2 years old as a passenger in the float.

Scan_Pic0034In this one, my sister Tammy was a baby, and my other sister Kelly was the one appointed to push her the short 4 block through the kiddie parade starting line, to the park.  I would have been about 12 at this time, so I am sure that I was following close behind in some sort of get up.  One year the town replaced the old water tower with a new one, and Kelly and I went as the old and the new water towers.  She was in the “old” one, which was brick and straight up and down in shape.  Mine was silver in color, and had the familiar shape of most water towers now..looking like a golf tee with a golf ball sitting on the top.  I am hoping to find that picture somewhere.  I know we were older, and I can even remember trying to walk inside my water tower, trying not to fall over.

mom and I 1959...her carousel creationl This is the one that shows this wonderful, amazing woman who I called “mom”….As I said before, I am in awe of the things she did as we were growing up.  Most things went unnoticed by her children, until after she was gone.  She made every holiday special, but the July 4th and Christmas were always the best.  Now I am in a new town, double the size…but the parade goes right by my house.  My kids sat for years, as we did, with their bags, ready to catch the bounty of candy.  I wasn’t as creative as mom, and we didn’t enter many kiddie parades, so perhaps I cheated my kids in a way.  I have no excuse, other than the shoes I had to fill were much too large ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

PATIO POTATO SALAD

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  •    1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons ground mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 7 medium red potatoes, cubed and cooked
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
  • Lettuce leaves and paprika, optional

Directions

  • In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, mustard, salt and celery seed. Stir in the milk, vinegar and egg until smooth. Add butter. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened and bubbly. Cool. Stir in onion and mayonnaise. In a large bowl, combine potatoes and hard-cooked eggs. Add dressing and toss gently to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. If desired, serve in a lettuce-lined bowl and sprinkle with paprika. Yield: 8-10 servings.

 

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She’s Touching Me!!!!!

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

photo credit:ericpetersauto.comAs I was easing onto the interstate Friday night, I fell into line with other cars and mini-vans traveling to parts unknown.  Some vehicles had one person, some had families.  I noticed that in some of the vans, there were small tv screens dropped down from the ceiling showing a movie or cartoon. I shook my head and thought of what a blessing those small screens were to the 2 occupants in the front seats. When our kids were little we didn’t have anything like that to keep the kids entertained.  I would pack a tote with coloring books, colors, small hand-held games, sticker books, and anything else that would distract them for a few hours.  After my mom died, my dad went on vacation with my sisters and I, and our families.  Since I only had the girls and I, he rode with me, and stayed in our cabin. It was going to be the first vacation after my divorce.  I can remember sitting in the driver’s seat of that tightly packed Durango with my dad as my “wingman”…praying my first solo trip would be uneventful.  My dad had bought a small hand-held DVD player for Maddie to use during the trip.  She tended to talk a lot, so I realized that the $80.00 he spent was going to be worth it’s weight in gold.

Then my memory went back to when Kelly, Tammy and I were kids in the back seat of that white Pontiac on our way from central Illinois to Northern Wisconsin every July.  This would have been in the 60’s, when the cars were huge, there were only AM radio stations, air conditioning in the car was a treat, and there were only 2 lane roads, so the trip was 8 hours.  My mom would pack a huge bag of treats consisting of sandwiches, chips, grapes, homemade cookies, other assorted snacks, a gallon of juice, and 2 thermos of coffee.  One coffee was with cream for dad and one was with cream and sugar for her.  We left at 2 in the morning and would fall into line in the caravan with our other family members that stayed at St Johns Resort in Minoqua Wisconsin.  We were allowed to take our pillows for the trip, but you learned early not to take too much because that back seat got pretty cramped if we had much more than our bodies in there.  First off, there were 3 of us, and only 2 windows….fight number one.  Then someone had to sit behind my 6’2″ father who had the front seat set back as far as he could in order to be comfortable.  The driver was the top dog back then, and everyone did their best to be sure he was happy.  My sisters and I inherited our long legs from dad, to sitting behind him for 8 hours was torture. Somehow I got the seat behind him, Tammy in the middle (she was the baby) and Kelly behind my mom.  We would then trade places after we stopped for breakfast at the Oasis truck stop in Janesville Wi.  We had drawn imaginary lines down the back seat, dividing it into 3 areas that we claimed as ours. You could put all of your crap in your area, but stay out of your neighbors area.  It seemed to simple in the minds of youth.   Of course once Kelly got into position behind dad, she would begin shoving Tammy into my area in order to make room for her legs.  I would shove her back, Kelly would then shove her again my way……and so it began.  It would continue until my mom would get involved, to avoid my dad getting distracted.  “SHES TOUCHING ME!”…..over and over and over….. Then came the threats “Don’t make me pull this car over!”….Pretty soon my moms arm would fly over the front seat trying to make contact with someone…anyone…

About mid-morning she would break out the goodies that were stashed in the bags at her feet.  Looking back, we thought we were cramped, but it we could have seen into the front seat we could have seen mom squeezed into her seat with all of the food, coffee, juice, plates, napkins….WOWZA.  I don’t know how she got turned around enough to swat at us…probably why she never connected with flesh.  We would have our snack, and then settle in for a nap, since we had been up since 1 in the morning.  The air was heating up outside, so the air conditioning came one.  It had been on “vent” up until now because “the air conditioner used up gas!”  So now the windows were rolled up tight, and my parents would decide to have a smoke, without the windows cracked.  Pure torture…plus  they always seemed to smoke at the same time….and that air conditioner that was our savior…was now blowing the smoke right back to the back of the car.  AWFUL!!!!  One time I thought I would just crack the window just  a smidge to get some fresh air…bad idea!  So finally the cigarettes were done, and we could settle into our respective third of the back seat for a little siesta.  The car became quiet, and the radio would then be turned on.  But again, there were on only AM stations, which meant there were seldom stations with music, just talk.  Plus, we were traveling up into the woods, which made reception ever worse.  Somehow mom would find a station with some music and we would settle in…until I would notice the station was not quite tuned in….just a small turn of the tuner knob would get that tiny bit of white noise out of the music…but she never seemed to notice…and it made me crazy…..

So here we are, traveling in this car packed to the gills with food, clothes, cookware, towels, people, Tammy now practically in my lap as Kelly stretches out to be comfortable, mom humming softly, the radio playing quietly, just a little out of tune, air conditioner blowing full blast and cruising at 55 mph towards 2 weeks of fun in the sun with some of the best family in the world.  We didn’t need a DVD player that dropped out of the ceiling…we had each other…and what I would give to go back for one more vacation with mom and dad in that front seat  ♥

FOOD FOR THE BODY

DUMP CAKE

1 large can crushed pineapple with juice

2 cans cherry pie filling

2 sticks of butter

1 box cake (yellow or white)

1/2 cup chopped nuts

Grease 9 x 13 -inch pan

Dump in crushed pineapple with juice. Spread to fill corners.

Dump in cherry pie filling and spread to fill corners.

Dump in cake mix (dry) and spread to fill corners.

Spread nuts on top.

Cut butter into pats and place on top of dry cake mix.

Do not stir or mix ingredients.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until browned.

Can serve with a dollop of whipped topping.