Family Swedish Rye Bread

Deerfield / IL / Etats-Unis - 10/5/15

Deerfield / IL / Etats-Unis - 10/5/15

MK spent moments here and there on Sunday as she worked on making a family recipe of Swedish rye bread. The recipe is made with anise and molasses and has a beautiful, elegant brown color to go along with its unique flavor. It was made by her Finland-born, ethnically Swedish grandmother in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan town of Gladstone (near Escanaba) just about one hundred years ago.

MK’s mother took the recipe and produced it for the family and it was always a joyous occasion when we knew there was some to be had. Sunday was a special day, though, since MK decided to ‘play’ a bit with the recipe. The recipe calls for and has always used margarine, not butter. She decided that although she knows that such ‘tampering’ might have an effect that she just had to know. We could not believe that her grandmother would have used margarine, which was not readily available in the years she made the bread.

Three loaves of the delicious bread were worked on during the day. After dinner, Mary Kay finally brought the bread to fruition, baking it after its final ‘rise’ and thus allowed us to see if the margarine and butter debacle was finally settled.

Our first reaction is that although the bread was good when made with margarine, it most assuredly seems even better when made with butter.

Our dessert in the early evening was warm Swedish rye bread with butter, a real treat and one that we thoroughly enjoyed. I wonder if Grandma Nylund was looking down on us as we enjoyed it.

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My latest gadget


Deerfield / IL / Etats-Unis - 10/4/15

Recently, in some magazine or catalogue, I came across a battery operated leaf blower. Because of that, things started ruminating in my mind about how much time I spend dealing with annoying locust leaves that blow in the house or come in on Stewie. Removing most of them from the area adjacent to our front or back doors would definitely make a difference. Having a mud room might be nice as well, but that is certainly a moot point.

The first one I came across did pretty well and received pretty good reviews, but if I am not mistaken, when MK entered the research scene, she quickly noticed a blower I had kind of knocked off the list, not really liking the brand as much. It is not that I hate Black and Decker, but I remember all of those power tools that I had from them with the rechargeable batteries that just didn’t end up lasting. I guess that was in the back of my mind.

MK took charge of the purchase and somehow ended up purchasing two, one with a battery and the other without. The one without was a mistake as she just assumed (and who wouldn’t?) that it would come with one. As we found out, the battery was way more expensive than the tool.

She sent one back and ended up paying just over a hundred dollars for a less than four pound blower that has enough staying power to blow off our front stoop and then the patio and adjacent driveway and sidewalk as well. They made it clear that it was not meant to clear off wet leaves, which is no issue with us. They also made it clear that it was not the longest lasting, but if we can manage to do the front and back areas, we are good and ahead of the game.

The new blower gadget is nice because you need neither cord nor gas. I have a large Toro blower that we bought years ago that is still functional and powerful. It has a cord, however, which can be a pain. It never stopped me from using it; my roof has seen much Toro time. Of late, with the new gutter guards, the leaves are flowing on their own right off the roof. I am frankly incredulous and am thankful that Richie’s Mongolian-born roofer friend pushed me into accepting them. He obviously knew what he was talking about.

The old blower still has its uses, and in fact, has the capability of vacuuming. I may be the only person around who has consistently vacuumed his patio. Now, with the new purchase, which weighs almost nothing and yet has simple power, we are in business. Vive la guerre contre les feuilles mortes!

Posted in Life in general, Nature, Seasons, Thoughts and philosophy, Tools | Leave a comment



Mary Kay could not resist purchasing these asters.  I hope to be able to keep them alive.

Mary Kay could not resist purchasing these asters. I hope to be able to keep them alive.

The temperature said fifty degrees and I looked in my closet for my favorite Botanic Garden jacket only to not manage finding it. I know that one of my sons was wearing it in the house the other day when he was cold and it was not in its usual place so I am guessing…

I wore my light winter jacket that actually works no matter what the temperature. Mountain Hardware makes it. I got it when I was working and travelling from place to place, it allowed me to easily go from warm weather to cold and stuff that puppy in my luggage with ease.

I guess I have given in to the weather. I actually needed the jacket. I was still wearing shorts though and despite the October-ness of it all, I still am pretty dark with a summer tan that I never attempt to get.

Stewie was a great dog yesterday. We were gone from around 3:00 PM until 11:00 or so, having gone downtown to meet with our good friends, Jack and Carolyn, and having a bit to eat before going to the Chicago Symphony with them. Despite it all, he went without dinner and behaved like a trooper. He has been really good of late, perhaps I should not say this, but I even had him in the front yard with me and he stayed with me despite the dogs and humans walking by. I am hoping that he will adjust to being like his predecessor and only stay in our yard.

Traffic on Friday night was really bad, from entry into Chicago to even leaving after the Symphony was done. We took Lake Shore Drive in, which is usually pretty smooth, but it was not. We had allotted a lot of time so that was not at issue. Even departure was a bit slow as we accessed the highway going west. That always seems odd to me since we live north of the city but the highway is mainly an east-west one (I94). It was a little scary as several drivers on the Express Lanes were not going the proper speed, they were driving very slowly and refusing to move over. That almost caused accidents.

Dinner was at Tesori, right next to Symphony Hall. We had a delightful dinner with wine, good friends, and conversation. It was wonderful to have dinner and walk through a door into the Concert Facililty. The music was Beethoven, Mozart, Hindemith, and Prokofieff. I must admit that I would order my enjoyment in the following order: Mozart, Beethoven, Prokofieff, and then Hindemith. I do not recall ever hearing the music we heard from Prokofieff or Hindemith, but it was wonderful getting to experience them.

All in all, a wonderful evening. All this was preceded by a finishing up of the windows as MK and I attacked the main level of the house. I found it to be tough since some of the windows had a gooey substance on them. I then put away a hose or two and cut down the hosta. Transition is moving well as little by little we get prepared for winter. Saturday is a theatre day in the city and then dinner with friends. I am hoping to accomplish a few things outside, once again, as we slowly batten down those hatches for the coming cold.

Posted in Horticulture, Household and yard tasks, Life in general, Music, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Accepting defeat in the weather arena


For those of us who live in the north, it is difficult accepting the fact that the weather is changing and that we shall have to accept frigid temps again. This morning, it was around fifty-five degrees or so and I ended up going in to the college wearing pants and a shirt. I know that in other parts of the country, one might be well bundled up for weather like this. I can often get really cold, but for whatever reason, fifty-five degrees now seems like warm.

The weather was sunny but decidedly not too warm, but it didn’t matter, we just are not ready to pull on that extra layer. I know I am not alone in that feeling but there are still people who are way more rational than I am and dressed for the occasion.

The odd thing about it is that I did not feel cold. Perhaps I should have but I am guessing that my mind is totally with me in my feeling that we have way too long a period of time where we shall have to put on more layers and well, I am just not ready yet.

According to the beloved meteorologists, it is actually unseasonably cold today, not as warm as it is supposed to be at this time of the year. Maybe that is my driving force.

Nonetheless, I know that there shall be many days where it will be way to warm and that this is just a blip on the screen.

Despite it all, this has put me into a tizzy of getting my transitional, seasonal work done. I am thinking about my plants that have to be transported into the house after their summer outside, the hosta that needs to be cut down, the surface pond plants that need to be culled and composted, and the furniture that needs to be cleaned and stored, all before the winter hits.

The pond cover is ready to go, instructions opened, and it shall be put together and placed on the pond. It is time, whether or not I am willing to dress for the weather.

Posted in Life in general, Meteorology, People and their characteristics, Thoughts and philosophy | Leave a comment

Sore back

One of our latest mum acquisitions.

One of our latest mum acquisitions.

Tuesday morning, getting up was a bit tougher as I had a massage the previous evening, a massage meant to undo some of the little aches and pains plaguing me. For whatever reason, I had not been having a regular massage; something that I had been doing on a pretty much monthly basis beforehand and I realize that not doing so is probably not in my best interests. It must have tired me out because at 7:30, I woke up. Late for me.

I have been having trouble sleeping. The mattress, which was aging along with the rest of us, needed to be replaced. After all kinds of familial research, with one branch of the family purchasing an online memory foam mattress, we did the same. We had gone to the local mattress places and checked them all out, did our research, and opted for the online as well. The price differential

We bought the new mattress one day and it was delivered the next in a good size box. I pushed it upstairs and opened it there. It literally came to life. The only issue was that it was so high that MK needed a stepstool for it. So we ordered a new ‘box spring,’ a lower variety. The bed experience has taken a bit of getting used to, but overall it is good.

I realized, nonetheless, that a massage was in order. Manuel came Monday evening since we could not arrange it otherwise and I got a wonderful massage. Tuesday morning I had some lower back soreness in the area of one of the many knots Manuel worked on. It is not a bad thing; it is more of a good thing as in the long run I shall feel way better.

Tuesday morning is in the low 60s and is gloomy with a small amount of precipitation and locust leaves clinging to every possible space. Time for coffee since we shall soon have little girls to take care of.

Posted in Consumerism, Ecology, Health, Household and yard tasks, Life in general, Medical, Thoughts and philosophy, Uncategorized | Leave a comment