Friday, June 29, 2012


Yesterday morning, I met oodles of fellow townies at the Ag Arena to pick up two 10 # boxes of blueberries from the Annual Kiwanis Blueberry Sale.  My fingertips were blueberry-stained by the end of the day.

First, I froze bags of blueberries for eating.  Then, I made blueberry pie filling to freeze.  It is so great to pull out a carton of pie filling, make pie crust, pour it in, and bake.  Simple, summer goodness!  Here is the recipe I use:

Blueberry Pie FIlling

12 cups blueberries
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup cornstarch
1 T. grated lemon peel
1/4 cup lemon juice

Wash and drain blueberries.  Combine sugar and cornstarch.  Stir in blueberries and let stand until juice begins to flow, about 30 minutes.  Add lemon peel and lemon juice.  Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Ladle pie filling into can-or-freeze jars or plastic freezer boxes leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Cool at room temperature, not to exceed 2 hours.  Seal, label, and freeze.

I also made jam.  Just a few more berries to jam today and then I am finished!  Peaches are next...

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Yesterday and the day before were perfect June days---brilliant blue skies, low humidities, and temperatures in the 70's.  It feels good to breath in and be out on such days.

As part of Jim's recovery, we are walking every day. To make those walks more interesting, we are fashioning our own Centre County park tour.  Sunday, we strolled through Tudek Park. Monday, we walked the path at the Pennsylvania Military Museum in Boalsburg.  Yesterday, we hiked through Circleville Park.  Today is yet to unfold, but more than 35 local parks to choose from, plenty of options remain.

I often journal of the need to slow down and live life more deliberately.  Helping someone heal necessitates that.  It is challenging for Jim to sit more and do less while at the same time actively work to strengthen his body (and his spirit).  But it really is not so bad to have a fairly cleared calendar, hours of time at home, and the impetus to take more than one walk daily.

Enjoying more time for creative pursuits, I am finishing up a quilt for our granddaughter whose arrival is less than two months away.  My knitting time has been devoted to her as well.

For mother's day, my son sent me two wonderful sewing books:  Oliver + s: Little Things to Sew and Simple Sewing for Baby.  Both books are treasure troves of simple, charming patterns for the small ones in your life.  Desiring a little baby gift for a young couple at church, I stitched up some burp cloths.  From one idea I found online and from directions found in Simple Sewing for Baby, I created these in about an hour. The fabric, about a third of a yard, was a flannel remnant.

They are pretty cute as well as pretty easy to make if you need a quick gift.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Little Free Library

A couple of weeks ago, when Jim and I were walking the sidewalks of our neighborhood, we happened upon this...

...a Little Free Library.  Right here in our very own neighborhood!

The sign reads:  Take a book. Return a book.  The Little Free Library is a gift from friends who wanted to PAY IT FORWARD. They hope you will do the same!  To participate see

The charter number is 0890.  You can find it on the map on the website if you take a visual stab in the center of Pennsylvania.

Stacked and stored in this charming cupboard is a respectable sampling of genres--picture books, chapter books, classics, contemporary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, and non fiction--pretty much something for everybody. And it changes day by day.  (I know this to be true because I passed by last night and then again tonight).  When I finish the book I am reading now, it will be my first contribution.  I think this is the coolest, new idea I have seen in a while.  Maybe your neighborhood needs one too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

After six days

The hallway to the Hospital for Advanced Medicine appears deceptively empty, but then I think I snapped this photo one morning very early as I wound my way through the massive complex that is Geisinger Medical Center, a place where miracles happen really do happen.

A week ago today, we packed up our car to drive East through Pennsylvania mountains and along fields of Pennsylvania green.  One week ago tomorrow, we checked into Geisinger at 5:00 am, so that my husband could have his heart repaired.  Now it is over, we are home, Jim's heart is healing, and we feel richly blessed.

Our emotions fill a deep well of:

♥ Gratitude to our family and our Pastor and his wife who sat beside us in the waiting rooms and in the hospital, encouraging and strengthening us.

♥ Admiration of our Doctor, the ex fighter pilot, whose medical knowledge, expertise, tenacity, endurance, and healthy ego saved my husband's heart and the hearts of so many others in adjacent rooms.

A fuller definition of the word heroic, after witnessing Jim's nurses, ultimate professionals who scanned the monitors, adjusted tubes, took vitals, administered medicines, and charted every incremental step.  They constantly educated and encouraged us.

♥ Appreciation of our good fortune to live at such close proximity to an amazing medical teaching and research institution.  Jim resided in a unit described as "acuity adaptable" with state-of-the-art  technology. A supply robot navigated our floor, as well as, the entire hospital (I smiled every single time I saw this little R2D2) and his room was equipped with the ability to have instant camera communication with remote medical personnel.  The future is here and now.

A compelling reminder of unearned grace and the power of unceasing prayer....there is no other explanation for the ease and speed of Jim's recovery.  I keep searching for a word other than gratitude but there is none; we are utterly and completely grateful.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


We leave today for the big medical center, an hour and half's ride away.  We leave today for tomorrow, the day of my husband's big heart surgery.  We are more than ready...

Yesterday, I needed serenity, a certain peace that sewing sometimes offer, so I made a new knitting tote to brighten my days of husband hospital-sitting.  It helped calm some jumpy nerves to stitch something.  I finished freezing strawberries, organized my knitting projects, and assembled a basket of thank-you tokens for Jim's medical support team.  We bought a little iPod dock so we can listen to some soothing tunes during the upcoming hospital days.  Today, I need to anticipate a week's worth of clothes, water the plants, tidy up the house, slide in few books, crossword puzzles, and my journal, and then, we go...not on vacation but on a journey toward health and healing.

Our pastor is coming over to pray with us this morning, and we know many others are too. That really helps and really matters.  I am trusting...the surgeon, medical knowledge, a magnificent medical institution, the power of love, and above all, our good and gracious God.  Amen.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Canning Season

Canning season has officially opened!  Saturday, I bought a flat of strawberries at my favorite farmer's market, the Amish market set up under canopy in a nearby shopping center.  Now, my freezer contains bags of whole frozen strawberries and my canning shelf holds jars of both strawberry jam (for Alexander) and strawberry rhubarb jam (for me and Matt).  

I didn't think I would be canning this weekend or finishing it up today.  Today was supposed to be Jim's surgery. But someone needed his surgeon more, and his surgeon didn't want to feel rushed with my sweetheart's heart (nor did I); we are now on for Thursday. The first batch of strawberries are preserved for our family, with additional jars of jam for the amazing nursing staff that Jim and I will surely come to love, later this week.  And Jim and I went to the movies this afternoon!  A few more days to breathe and be....

Saturday, June 2, 2012

School Days (for Carol)

From September to June,
early morning or late at night, a weekend or workday,
it hardly matters;
she follows bells, schedules, and rosters;
she shuffles papers and straightens desks,
poring over books, writings, and words,
sharpening ideas for sharing.

From chalkboards, whiteboards, and smartboards
pencils, pens, and pixels;
essays, quizzes and tests,
classes, courses, and conferences
faculty staff, principals, students,
colleagues and friends;
she fashions pictures and patterns,
weaving fabric for this age.

From forty years of school days,
of beginnings and endings,
of knowledge and truth,
of reading and writing
of children and of education;
she seamlessly sews,
forming--a calling,  
a career, a legacy…
a life.

Well done, good and faithful, teacher;
Well done, good and faithful, friend.

                                    with love, Ellen
                                    June 2012

(this commemorative quilt was made from the "School Days" design line by Moda and this pattern.)