Wednesday, September 30, 2015

XBR4OF #6: Twenty Miles From a Match

Xyra's Book Review for Older Followers

Twenty Miles From a Match

by Sarah E. Olds


  • I'm putting this in the older follower file because the woman telling the story is an adult. However, I think anyone 11 and older could read this memoir.
  • If you don't normally like biographies, give this one a try. It's like hearing stories from a funny family member.

The Review

Twenty Miles From A Match: Homesteading In Western NevadaTwenty Miles From A Match: Homesteading In Western Nevada by Sarah E. Olds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really don't look at memoirs, autobiographies, or biographies that much. Some are great and interesting, while others plod along or seem self-important. Twenty Miles From a Match did NOT fall into the plodding/self important category.

In Twenty Miles From a Match I felt as if I was sitting on the porch with a glass of iced tea listening to a family friend reminisce about all the things that led to inside jokes that bring those in the know to hysterics with just one word or phrase. (In half of my family something like "pudding phone" works as an example.)

If you have read any of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books, then you can understand a little bit about what went on when the Olds family homesteaded near Reno, NV. It was not pleasant at first or easy, but the family worked together not only surviving hardships but also building a comfortable lifestyle and working ranch. Oh, and by comfortable I do not mean to draw a picture of the Ewings on South Fork. No way! I'm talking having 7 rooms instead of 2 and an automobile instead of a wagon to get to town - which even with a car was still a 3-day endeavor.

The Olds' family story is one of inspiration, perseverance, determination, ingenuity, and faith. While Sarah tells us a lot of good things that happened, she did not forget the bad. Nor did she leave out the less than pleasant chores she had to take on when in need - her son was a trapper and when he was sick she had to check and clear the lines. So if you are not okay reading about hunting or trapping and killing animals (even for survival) this probably isn't a story for you. However, the scenes are presented in a such a way you could skip a page here and there.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and reading about life before paved roads and indoor plumbing. Makes me realize the details people forget about when they say they'd rather live during this and such era instead of now. Yep, I'd like to see them without their Internet, plumbing, electricity, radiant heat, air conditioning and making a three-day trek driving a wagon over rutted paths and mountains to buy supplies. :)

Great book. Give it a try. I bet you enjoy listening to Sarah.

Happy reading!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Who Wears it Best #3

Or #4 & 8, Sort Of

Haley, Kaya, Kirsten, Lanie, Melody, 2 or more

Usually we have the Who Wears it Best? right in a fashion review post. 
This time we did it separately, so the number 4 is for the stand alone Who Wears it Best? posts.
The one with my meet outfit has a typo so it is really number 3. :-)
And the eight for overall from 2013 to today.
The other day, Melody showed us a great outfit from Kay Jay's in Ocean City, New Jersey.
Now we've all worn it and can show off our photos!






So who wears it best?

[Xyra aside: our camera saga continues, so forgive any noticeable changes in quality. Also a few of the photos were taken at dusk instead of late afternoon. We apologize if this affects your votes.]

Best wishes,

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mini Pet Adventures #9

Can You Find Meatloaf?

Look closely at the photo...can you spot Meatloaf?

Leave a comment with his location. Comments will be held until October 5 to give our readers a chance to guess without spoilers. :)

Happy hunting!

Best wishes,

Friday, September 25, 2015

Kitchen Class with Xyra #2

In the Kitchen with Kaya and Xyra

Recipe of the ____ (Day, Week, Month, Year)

Lemon Cake

Hi! Melody told you about the picnic and mentioned the cake we took for the cake walk. I'm going to show you what we made. This shoot is from before the picnic. Fun preparations!

When Lanie hosted Kitchen Class, she and Xyra used a family recipe. Today we are using and adapting a recipe from the Domino Sugar Sweet Talk cookbook.
Our base is going to be a simple yellow cake. So this is the recipe we'll follow. 
(giggles) Can you tell we use this recipe a lot? (giggles) I think there was a batter spatter incident in the past. We'll make it lemon by replacing the vanilla with lemon juice and lemon zest.

So the first thing you want to do is preheat the oven. Then prepare your cake pans. We have 2 pans buttered, floured, and wax paper-we're out of parchment paper-is in the bottom.
Next the recipe asks for sifted flour. We used a sifter for the first sifting. 
Then added the other dry know, baking powder and salt...
and sifted the second time using a whisk. Now we put the dry ingredients aside. 
Place the bowl carefully, don't bang it or you'll have to sift again (singing) sift again, like we did last summer...

In another bowl we cream together the butter and sugar. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix again.
Then add one egg at a time, mixing after each one. The recipe calls for 3 eggs.
Remember to scrape the sides of the bowl to get everything mixed together.
Now we add the milk and the flour mixture a little at a time. Alternating milk and dry.
Batter is done! 

There was a little left over, so Xyra grabbed a couple of smaller pans to make a couple of layers for me and my sisters.

While we wait for the cakes to bake we set up the cooling rack and check out the icing recipe.
We're going to modify a buttercream recipe.

[Time passes-timer buzzes]

Don't the cakes look nice! Lovely golden brown. Now they sit in the pan for 10 minutes.
This is what happens when you don't coat the pans properly. 
Luckily, my sisters and I don't care what it looks like. I tried some of the crumbs and the cake has a very delicate lemon flavor to it.

While the cakes cool more we'll make the icing. Butter, powdered sugar, salt, lemon juice, and a bit of lemon zest too.
Icing is done. Pretty, huh?
The best part about making icing from scratch is liking the beater afterward. Yum!
Done! We could use a class or two in cake decorating, but it looks homey and tasty.

What do you think? Do you like to bake? Do you usually use a mix or start from scratch - doing it all yourself?

This past week we made another lemon cake, but only one layer. The math was frightful! So we consulted Lady Vanyer. Plus we made it more lemony. Also super yummy!

So glad you stopped. Come again soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Picnic Reunion

Celebrating 285 Years

This whole year our church is celebrating its 285th year. Not a long time compared to the churches in England and Europe, but decent for the US. Invitations were sent and given to people and friends who had moved. Some were able to come back and celebrate.

The day started with the Land and Seasons service. The music has a bluegrass and folk base to it and there's a lot of it! We sat in the balcony on opposite side where we usually sit. Very interesting. I'd explain why, but it's a long story and, well, you know...(giggles)...I kind of lost track of the details. (giggles)

After church there was a big picnic with lots of food. Music from the gazebo.

Photo displays and video montages.

Kids games.

Guessing games.
Xyra won the fruit slices. 


Had a great day! We won black bottom cupcakes during the cake walk. Kaya will tell you about the cake we took later this week.

What is your favorite thing to do at a picnic or reunion?

Best wishes,