Thursday, December 28, 2017

Graduation Gathering Subs for Christmas in Kearney

Rather than the traditional trip to Kearney for dinner and gifts, the Ward family gathered in Lincoln on December 15/16 to celebrate the graduation of our nephew, Joe. He earned his bachelor of science in ag econ from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Before he crossed the stage Saturday morning at the Pinnacle Bank Arena, we kicked-off the fun with a party Friday night. 
Niece Chelsie helped organize the party at the Embassy Suites in downtown Lincoln. We had our own private party room and could goof around without annoying other restaurant patrons. It was so good to see nephew Clark! He is busy with his sophomore year (also at UNL) and is enjoying his Geology/Biology coursework.
Mother-of-the-Grad, my sister Karolyn (right) invited her bestie and husband to Lincoln for the festivities. Julie and Hal are super people so it was great to have them with us.
Our sister-in-law LuAnn got a chance to catch up with niece Karli. She will earn a master's degree in May from the University of South Dakota. (Go, Yotes!) AND get married on October 7. Lots of fun coming up in 2018!
 My brothers and uncles-of-the-grad, Tim & Mark.
Joe invited several of his brothers from Acacia Fraternity to the party. (This was Scott's fraternity, too, so it brought back many memories of the fun he used to have.)
Kitra and her gramma enjoyed the party.  
 She's got style, that cutie pie.
 The original Ward kids (Kristin, Karolyn, Tim and Mark) looking cute!
Karli gave her little brother Clark lots of attention. They were antipating the semester break with their parents (Tim and Teresa) and Karli's fiance (David) in sunny & warm Phoenix.
We were all up and at 'em early Saturday morning since graduation started at 9:30. With nearly 2,000 graduates, there were a lot of faces to scan - but Chelsie caught Joe's face on the big screen.
Post-graduation photo session with Joe's dad, Alan. 
The proud graduate!
I apologize for missing photo opportunities with the rest of the family, including both sets of Joe's grandparents. I took lots of photos with everyone's cameras but mine. Typical!
Stay Tuned for Joe's Great Adventure!

Mile High B's

When the opportunity arose to see both my buddy (noTTafarm SuperFriend Amy B.) and one of our mutual heroes (Joe Biden) in one swoop, I packed a bag and jumped on a plane for a quick trip to Denver. Since moving from Omaha in May, I had been looking for an excuse to visit the Brummet family's new home so this trip was a "win" all-around. 

On tour to promote his book, "Promise Me Dad," Mr. Biden made an appearance on Saturday evening, December 2nd, at downtown Denver's Paramount Theatre. But since my flight arrived early in the morning, Amy had an activity planned - namely baking and frosting sugar cookies with Tripp and Brenna. It was fun to keep our tradition of baking Christmas cookies going!

 Amy gave Brenna a quick pep talk with pup Tank listening in for good measure.
The Brummets' new neighborhood is great, and Tripp (now in Kindergarten) & Brenna have made many new friends.
Brenna did a great job of rolling out the dough and Tripp was an excellent cutter. Amy and I completed the frosting portion of the fun while the kids played outside in the 60+-degree sunshine.
Our plans for dinner before the show were thwarted by a massive traffic jam downtown. Many activities, including a ball at the convention center and a holiday lights parade, closed city streets and brought hoards of people. It took us over an hour to find a parking place within a mile of the theatre. Luckily, we found our seats and had a moment to catch our breath before Mr. Biden was introduced. His 90-minute presentation was inspirational and entertaining. Afterward, we (finally!) ate dinner at a great Italian restaurant where I enjoyed a ridiculously delicious butternut squash pizza.
Before I left for the airport Sunday early afternoon, we all huddled around the iPad to watch the formal press conference from the University, announcing the hire of Scott Frost as the new head coach of the football team. Pretty exciting for us Cornhuskers!
Brenna and Tripp were not as impressed with the press conference.

Thank you, Amy and Monte, Tripp and Brenna, for your warm hospitality!

Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Two Saws Are Better Than One

You know your husband really loves you when he buys you a chainsaw for your birthday. What girl wouldn't want her very own 14" cordless chainsaw, powered by a 40V lithium battery?
Expertly adorned with a single red bow, of course!
Following a week of gray, cold weather, today (November 12) was 54 degrees and sunny - the perfect opportunity to test out my new toy. 
Scott loaded the Ranger with his Stihl Farm Boss and my new Ryobi for an afternoon of fun. 
Our first subject tree was a long-dead tree of unidentified species near the east end of the driveway, just one of several that should be culled.
My cheesy smile tells you that I was excited to give the new saw a try! 
For the last few years, the green leaves on this tree were actually part of a huge grapevine. The vine was twisted all over and around the tree which made removing the whole thing a tangled, unwieldy mess. 
Scott used the Ranger's winch to drag several big bundles of gnarly branches to the east burn pile - plus we pulled four loads on the trailer. Trees always seem to be bigger once they're on the ground! In addition to this tree, we took out a couple along the fencerow facing the street and four cedars on the north side of the east pasture. We certainly got a good day's work done before quitting time.
All that's left is that little stump...
As weather permits, we'll continue to clean up dead and otherwise undesireable trees. My new saw worked great, and I'm really happy that I've been promoted from my previous position of branch-picker-upper. Of course, the best part was just getting to hang out in the sunshine with my Scotty.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

noTTafarm Visitors Keep Us Hoppin'

While we haven't had any big projects to work on of late, we have kept busy with visits by friends and family. I would be remiss if I didn't notify our vast readership and remind each of you that We Love Visitors!
Since moving to Denver in May, we have missed noTTafarm Super Friends, the Brummets. What a treat to have Monte, Amy, Brenna and Tripp visit for a few hours on Sunday, October 22nd. It was a  perfectly beautiful autumn afternoon so we had a small bonfire and roasted hot dogs and s'mores.
Bibbers just had to climb all over everyone, even Monte. Silly cat.
Amy helping Brenna with her marshmallows. I can't believe our little buddy just turned 9 years old! 
Tripp was happiest when taking rides in the Ranger. Scott was happy to oblige! Tripp is really enjoying kindergarten.
My buddy, Amy, and I will be together the first weekend of December. I'm heading to Denver so we can go to an appearance by Joe Biden. While I'm there, we're going to bake some sugar cookies and blueberry pancakes. It will be awesome!
Never leave your phone unattended . . . 
Brenna and Tripp took plenty of entertaining selfies.

Shortly after the Brummets left, my baby brother Tim stopped by. He was in Omaha with Teresa for a few days and since she needed to get some work done, he came over to sit and watch me do housework and entertain me with stories of his exciting life in Sioux Falls.
Hi, Timmy!
Tim was supposed to bring me two pieces of Fiesta that he bought at my behest. . .but since he left it at the house, Karli and DJ were kind enough to drop it off on their way out of town. Bonus! I got to chat with them for a few minutes before they hit the road for Vermillion. It's just under a year until their "Big Day!"

Speaking of Big Days. . .Jeff & Tanya chose to tie the knot on Saturday, October 21. The thunderstorms threatened but stayed clear of their front yard nuptials. It was a lovely ceremony and we're glad to have an "official" sister-in-law.
Congratulations, Jeff & Tanya!

All hands were on deck to get noTTafarm in order for a rather impromptu reunion of my sorority. I responded to a post with a casual "we can do it at my house" comment on Facebook -- and the next thing I knew, 15 alumni of Kappa Delta (Pi Chapter) made plans to meet two weeks later on Sunday, October 29. 
Many of us hadn't seen each other for over 30 years but when each girl walked in the door, it was like time had never moved past 1986. What a joy to welcome these amazing women to noTTafarm! (And of course, Bibbers had to get in the group photo.)
I had this vision of a facsimile of our sorority crest, created of twigs, and serving as a "welcome wreath" at the front door. Scott went above and beyond the call and not only helped me harvest appropriate branches but figured out the orientation of each section and used the chop saw to trim to just the right size. I served as the glue-gunner and overall stylist. It was a big hit with the girls - and now Scott and I are going to go into the fake Greek crest business. Probably be millionaires in a year or so.

Whew! That's a lot of activities for one month! Now as we gear up for the holidays . . .you should
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Updated Color for Kitchen

After more than a few months of thinking and pondering then pondering and thinking, I finally pulled the trigger on Friday. I stopped at Sherwin-Williams after work and picked up a gallon of Super Paint tinted in SW9170 (Acier).  There would be no going back this time; the kitchen would be re-painted.
It felt good to call the ol' paint roller tray into action again.
Scott was hesitant at first. He still has some plans to add some steel trim in the area around the brick chimney. I convinced him that any damage done to the paint could easily be touched up. He was also pleased with the color of gray I selected - so that was a "win!" 
When we built the addition, the kitchen, dining area and great room were all painted with SW6133 Muslin. While this light neutral was a good choice, it didn't do much to enhance the kitchen's cabinetry or stainless steel elements. 
First step:  move the Fiesta off the shelves and onto the dining table.
I was so happy when Scott volunteered to help, cutting in all of the edges. I followed behind him with the little roller.
We got creative when it came time to reach the highest peak. Scott straddled two of the shelves across the sink then placed the ladder on top. Those 1-inch-thick oak shelves offered great support!

We were able to get the paint about 90% done on Saturday, working through the Nebraska football game (which was such a slaughter, it was better watched from across the room, atop a ladder.) We did take a few hours out of our day to celebrate the 5th birthday of our buddy, Bennett. Can you believe it's been five years since "The New People" had their first baby -- and six years since we sold them our house on Grant Street? Bennett knows how to throw a party; he requested a grilled cheese bar as the main course for his guests. Happy Birthday, Bennett!
Sunday afternoon, Scott finished up the skinny space above the peninsula to wrap up the project. We are very happy with the result! What do you think?
You're welcome to stop by noTTafarm and judge the new color for yourself!

Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

ISO: Black Walnut Recipes

My maternal grandmother was an excellent cook and a wonderful baker. Many of her holiday specialties included black walnuts that she and my grandpa hulled themselves. I remember stories of them sitting at a card table lined with newspaper, wearing cotton work gloves, using a hammer and pick to get all the delicious nutmeats out of those stain-making shells.

My two brothers, my sister and me with my Grandpa and Grandma Spohn, 1966

When I figured out that we had a black walnut tree in our backyard, I was pretty excited - but mostly because I was thinking about all of the great woodworking projects my daddy has made over the years. His family land in Saline County is a great place to harvest a black walnut tree (especially when it's in the way of some corn or beans that need to be planted.)

So here we are, seven years into our noTTafarm adventure, and our black walnut tree is going nuts - literally. Scott noticed the limbs were sagging, and a few weeks ago, the nuts started to rain down with deep thuds. He's spent quite a few hours raking and gathering the walnuts so I'm thinking this is the year to process a few. Let's see if the baking-with-walnuts gene was passed along.

 Scott raked the leaves and walnuts into a neat row.
I don't know much but I do know that the green outer layer of the walnut needs to dry before being rubbed off to reveal the hard shell. And, if you don't wear gloves, your hands will be stained. I'll have to do some research on the best techniques!  
My Nutty noTTafarmer
So far, Scott has filled two five-gallon buckets, a ten-gallon trash can, and about a third of the wagon but many more walnuts are on the ground and attached to the tree. This ought to keep me occupied for a few months. Be sure to send your favorite black walnut recipes my way, just in case I'm successful.
Stay Tuned for Our Next Adventure! 

Who's the Boss?

I think it's pretty obvious . . . Bibbers is the boss of noTTafarm! That little yellow (ok, "orange") former barn cat keeps every one (including the four-legged members of the family) under control.

Come on over and get some love! Bibbers is always happy to rub his damp nose on your bare arms and shed his golden fur on your black t-shirt. 
Stay Tuned for More Bibbers News!