The Soul Of The Artist

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Hand-crafted art speaks the soul of the artist and craftsman. “… in order for them to have a soul, they have to be designed by something that’s connected to a soul—a human hand.” Stephen Frei, owner of a stained glass company in Kirkwood is quoted in a recent MissouriLife article. – See more at: http://www.missourilife.com/life/stories-stained-in-glass/.  Frei speaks of his stained glass, an art passed from one generation to the next in his family. His craft trumps all modern computer programs in quality.  Quantity is not the aim. See the beautiful stained glass in our church, built over 150 years ago.  These glass masterpieces have recently undergone methodical cleaning and restoration.  As I write I hear All Saints’ bells ring.

The restoration of our home is painstakingly coming along.  The walls are all painted.  See the lovely shade in the living room.  I love a calming green.  We had the solid pine wood doors delivered to our home this past week.  Custom made for our house.  These are being hand-stained by a seasoned painter with a tinge of cherry in the stain. What a warm feel these wooden pieces of art give to our home.  Cannot wait for them to be hung as well as the laminate flooring laid. Dean and I are aiming for the last weekend in February to be back home to stay.

Pancake Morning

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“Talking, talking, pancakes” is what Dean describes our first morning together.  We loves our pancakes!  This Saturday morning is no exception.  This improvising personal chef had one over-ripe banana in the fruit bowl and one bottle of Wells Banana Bread beer left in the refrigerator from the holidays.  This combination created some delicious pancakes. Is it Hermann’s German culture or my German heritage from my deceased grandmothers influencing the weekend menu in this home?  Probably a little bit of each.  Here it is folks … Banana Beer Pancakes with Caramelized Banana Beer Sauce.

This morning Dean and I talk weekend topics over our pancake breakfast.  Errands to run … purchase and install new window blinds in our rejuvenated home, and a tile floor selection for the bathroom.  Then dog food and possible organic vegetable and herb seeds to purchase at the local farmers’ co-op with an afternoon run out to our 7-month greenhouse at Boone Hollow Farm in Defiance, Missouri.  I will get the organic soil turned up today while Dean looks over the structure for winter wear. February brings us closer to spring.  Besides the Groundhog tells us it will be an early spring this year. Spring-like today, but winter returns with frigid cold weather after the weekend. Deanna Greens And Garden Art will start our 4th growing season.  In another 4 or 5 weeks, seeds will be planted in our beds for an early crop of lettuces, spinach, and peas. The garage is too crowded with our extra storage during the house renovations to get the gourd and herb seedlings started on the heating pads.  All direct sowing this year.  Flexibility and improvisations once again.  Life requires it.

“Look around for a place to sow a few seeds.”  Henry Van Dyke

 

January Blahs and Baking

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I have had little energy the past few days, turning into bed early hoping to feel better the next morning.  Extra glasses of water and hot tea are being consumed.  Tuesday into Wednesday I awoke with my throat on fire, and needed to prop up on double pillows in order to breathe.  The seasonal allergy snuffles definitely became a bacterial infection. My Dean seemed to feel worse than I with his croupy cough.  We stayed home from work, and visited our doctors in the morning.  Antibiotics were ordered treating a sinus infection for each of us. The January blahs indeed.  Naps and cooking shows filled the day.  Bone-in chicken breasts simmered all day in the crock pot, and made a healthy, tasteful stock for homemade chicken & dumplings.  I had heard years ago, homemade stock made with real bone-in meats makes a health-filled potion.  Adding vinegar, wine, or beer brings out the collagen from the bone marrow.  I always add a bottle of beer or a glass of wine to the crock pot.  I coached my granddaughter, Libby with the dumpling recipe and shared with her my secret ingredient, a pinch of nutmeg.  Warm, comfort food filled our dinner bowls by evening.

I do not bake much as the sugar and calories are not needed as I age.  Though I have been so inspired by the CutThroat Kitchen episodes I watched this week as well as the German influences while in Hermann, Missouri last weekend.   In my memory bank, is an old favorite this morning, blueberry-almond kuchen.  While in this rental house I have limited kitchen appliances and spices, as well as my recipe box is still at our home. By memory, I create a blueberry-vanilla kuchen.  No almonds or almond extract in the rental house pantry.  I substitute with a home-brew vanilla extract and use vanilla yogurt instead plain yogurt.  A hand beater and muscles rather than my stand-up KitchenAid cream the low-fat cream cheese, yogurt, eggs, and sugar.  Nutmeg goes in the butter crumb topping for a nutty flavor rather my standard cinnamon or cardamon left at the house.  Sweet baking aromas fill the air this Sunday morning.  Warmth filled our tummies once again.

This last day of January begins with a spectacular sunrise.  Another unseasonably warm day is in store.  Dean and I are feeling much better with a few rounds of antibiotics.  I cleaned and finished up laundry yesterday while Dean worked on one of the vehicles. With the weekend chores completed, we have this Sunday to attend Mass and go play.  An afternoon walk around the displays at the Train Show will help me burn off that serving of Blueberry-Vanilla Kuchen I indulged in this morning.

Blueberry-Vanilla Kuchen

Oh Hermann!

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This weekend Dean and I hibernated in Hermann, Missouri.  We were invited to stay at a lovely guest house by some wonderful folks.  We took a gander at antiques and patronized a gift shop in the historic downtown area.  The friendly salesman at the gift shop greeted us warmly and proceeded to tell us where he was from and why he retired in Hermann.  This retired banker from St. Peters, my hometown says the cost of living is so reasonable in Hermann, and so many services cater to the aging population in the quaint German town.  Just my thoughts exactly for the past almost 6 years, retiring in Hermann.

“You had me at ‘hello'” was displayed on a wooden sign in the gift shop. That would be my Dean and I.  Love at the first sight, e-mail, FB message, and date 6-1/2 years ago. Our garden courtyard wedding took place 5-1/2 years ago just 4 blocks from where I stand at that gift shop.  We had to pick up a pastry in this old Old World town. A local bakery was spotted amidst the neighborhood bars and shops.  A kringle, “krakeling” filled with strawberry ooze called out our name as we perused the dessert selections. My diabetic diet just went to pot, but back on track come Monday.  Besides the small town walking helped, right?

After an early Saturday dinner at the Tin Mill Brewery, Dean and I hung out with the local folks at the firehouse fundraiser mouse races. We fit right in, happy women with full hips and bearded men with a sense of humor. Homemade chili and desserts galore.  Bids for cash and guns kept us on our toes.  Loads of fun!  The laughter got louder as the evening went with the number of empty beer & wine bottles and whiskey & coke glasses. German people know how to celebrate life!  Not a need for a wedding or birthday to live life fully.

Sunshine beams through the tall-pane window as I sit in an elegant armed chair. Next to me my cup of hot Earl Grey tea laced with bergamot and half & half while a couple of Italian dark chocolate wafers await my consumption.  This crisp January afternoon brings my dream to life once again.  The heart dreams where the soul needs to be.  Our house and bed & breakfast in Hermann, Missouri.  We feel at home, at peace every time we come to Hermann.  From the time we cross the lighted bridge over the Missouri River, we are home.  Oh Hermann, we will be here to stay within 5 years.

Red Geraniums

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This time of year the work day is eased into analyzing aggregate reports, research on other wellness programs, event planning, and networking for the year.  I like the slower pace which last about 4 – 6 weeks in December into January.  It is when I finally have the employee wellness events booked on the calendar.  Yes, forecasting  at least 9 months ahead.  It is much like a teacher and his/hers curriculum planning during the summer for the next school year.  It will be another busy year at St. Louis County, the busyness starting next week with several meetings and a health fair.

Much the same as with the farmer, his/hers planning for the spring and autumn crops is done during the frigid cold months.  My father was a tree farmer, and the winter was filled with book work and ordering of a new stock of plant liners.  My siblings and I would plant 100’s of plant saplings through the spring; lots of hoeing, weeding, and watering in the summer; and  autumn a few more plantings and prepping the pines for the holiday harvest.

I cannot say Deanna Greens And Garden Art has quite the planning of a full-time farmer.  The greenhouse is a hobby of Dean and I’s while we work full-time. Our part-time organic herb and vegetable growing is fragrantly and deliciously rewarding while the beautiful geranium blossoms are pleasing to the eyes.  During Dean and I’s Nashville mini-vacation in December, we toured the Belle Meade Plantation.  Each room in the historic house was festively decorated with period Christmas ware, with the kitchen set in the 20’s.  The kitchen is my favorite room. And there set a terra cotta pot of red geraniums in the windowsill, again another favorite of mine. A vintage flower.

The subzero wind chill has me hibernating today.  I wanted snow, but not this frigid cold stuff. God forgives my absence in church, and He knows my severe allergy to the cold.  Early morn I went outdoors in my pjs, robe, socks, and slippers to let our Labrador into the fenced yard, not realizing just how cold it had gotten over night.  It dropped 30 degrees in less than 12 hours.  My joints have been screaming about it since 7:00am.  The daily antihistamine did not take much of an edge off the symptoms, so I took an extra dosage this afternoon.  Drinking lots of hot herbal tea while I watch cooking and gardening shows, write, and read …

“RED GERANIUMS”

Geranium

Life did not bring me silken gowns,
Nor jewels for my hair,
Nor signs of gabled foreign towns
In distant countries fair,
But I can glimpse, beyond my pane, a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.

The brambled cares of everyday,
The tiny humdrum things,
May bind my feet when they would stray,
But still my heart has wings

While red geraniums are bloomed against my window glass,
And low above my green-sweet hill the gypsy wind-clouds pass.

And if my dreamings ne’er come true,
The brightest and the best,
But leave me lone my journey through,
I’ll set my heart at rest,

And thank God for home-sweet things, a green and friendly hill,
And red geraniums aflame upon my window sill.

by Martha Haskell Clark

 

Dabbled Gray Sky Against Walls Of Color

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The dabbled gray sky has turn white this morn.  A welcome sight.   Big heavy snowflakes.  Midnight heard me say “snow” while hunkered in his bed next his master’s side of the bed.  Up he arose, click-clack on the wood floors, stretching before reaching the back door.  Our Labrador was excited to go outdoors to see the white spectacle.  We sure welcome this snowy Saturday.

Dean and I visited the house again today.  Renovations are coming along nicely. Drywall and mud have been completed.  The painter is working over this Saturday.  Splashes of our new color choices were on the walls yesterday.  Today the whole walls are cool hues, such a contrast to the gray sky.  A shade of teal and blue in the kids’ room.  Two shades of grayed blue in the 2nd bedroom. The master bedroom is “kissed blossom”, just a touch of lavender-pink.  The bathroom is “bungalow white”.  The living room has “pillow mint” suggesting a restful room.  The adjoining kitchen ‘s”sweet mint”is a tinge deeper shade, reminds me of our garden herbs.  Such a cool palette.

Dean and I finished a few Saturday errands, pet food and wild bird seed at the old town country store and a few other items at the crowded grocery store. The sky lightened for a bit, but soon the gray returned.  A table lamp and cup of hot peach tea bring warm comfort into the house as I write.  I anticipate more snow before the night is over.  Temps are dropping and will dip down in the teens overnight. White bean chili and sweet potato muffins will bring coziness to the dinner table tonight. Might find a jigsaw puzzle to busy myself with this evening while the cats curl in their furry balls. Snuggle time with a warm throw, maybe Dean and Midnight to join on the couch.

 

 

Let The Good Times Roll

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Many of you catch glimpses of our lives on Facebook and Word Press.  Thank you for the continual contact.  And we love hearing your news as well!  So we wanted to summarize 2015, and tell you what we are hoping for in 2016.  Wow, 2015 was like no other Dean and I have experienced.  In 2015, the first half included 2 sunny vacations, and the second half we worked through details regards housing, floods, and the beginning of restoration.

In February we lapped up sunshine in California and came back to Missouri’s bitterly cold winter.  Dean’s father celebrated his 80th birthday with family and friends.  We had another Gall wedding celebration in April.  Yes, that would have been the 4th in less than 9 months with the extended family.   We planted and harvested lots of herbs,peas, and beans this growing season.  During the summer we vacationed in our beloved Minnesota with my sister and our dog, Midnight.  Throughout the year we frequented local music venues. But in December we ventured to Nashville thoroughly enjoying the Amy Grant and Vince Gill holiday concert. We ended 2015 with a bang at the Pokey LaFarge concert on the Delmar Loop.

Dean and I’s government jobs keep us occupied, and we are thankful for them.  My quiet husband does not share his own accomplishments, but I will boast on his behalf.  Dean received a promotion and raise late this year, and it is well-deserved.   He loves the research and the customer interactions at the National Archives, and it shows.  This raise will be handy as we work towards an investment property in 2016.   I keep very busy at my job with St. Louis County’s benefits office.  I am constantly planning ahead, while reminding myself to take a breath and being mindful of the present moment.   After years of my supervisors’ prompting, I am public speaking now.  My position as the employee wellness coordinator gives me a platform to work from.  The series of enrichment classes I have and am developing for the employees are on “resilience and beyond”.  I speak from personal experience and with heart.

In July Dean and I visited the German town of Hermann, Missouri for our 5th wedding anniversary, where we married 5-1/2 years ago.  We came upon a “business opportunity”, a cute historic guest house, a late 1800’s cottage-style.    Dean and I took a few days to think and pray on this possibility.  We decided to act on this dream.  The next several weeks brought us a declined loan as it was the wrong type of loan for this property.  So we began the process again with a local Hermann bank on November 7, but we quickly ended the process on November 10 after our main water line in our residence burst sending 1 – 2 inches of muddy water onto the slab floor.  It was and still is unknown how much will actually come out of our pockets.  We anticipate a few thousand for the insurance deductible and upgrades with all laminate flooring and all new doors.  The unexpected inheritance from my deceased patriarch was very timely for Dean and I.  It is being stretched to meet many needs.  So that Hermann historic guest house still needs a new owner as the current owners are hoping to travel with their retirement.  They asked, and we continue to pray.  See what God has in mind for us.  Dean’s 1st grandchild is due in May.  Another girl to spoil!  Vacation plans are being sketched, may have us going North, South, and West this year.

This rental house we are in while our house is in renovations has broadened my thought on “home”.  “Home” is where you lay your head, and share your heart and blessings with your family.  And family comes in all shapes and sizes, this I have grown to understand.  One type and size does not fit all. The December record-breaking floods came 3 blocks from our rental house this week.  I had to remind myself where “home” is and who “family” really is to get through those stormy nights.  So “let the good times roll” and we welcome 2016!Home Sign

New Years Celebration BalloonsFrom Dean and Anna Gall’s home to yours, love and blessings that overflow this 2016.

The Stories, The Secrets, and The Heart

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God, we each need You to make us “as pure, as white as snow”. None of us are without sin.  People throw the stones, yet the person doing the castinJapanese Maple in Snowg have a few secrets they would like no one to know.  No one is exempt from the stinky secrets.  And if you think you are, then help and support the person who is not perfect rather than casting the stones. If the truth be told, the stories go like this … your married colleague had an emotional affair with the boss, the brother-in-law, the postman … or did it go further?  God knows.  Or how about the man whose wife caught him having an internet affair on a porn site?  Or the real live children and women exploited on the web, many unknowingly, secretly photographed by perverts?  Guarantee there is a story behind how these photo subjects got there.  One could hear the gossip of that neighbor or co-worker, yet never ask for the truth.  The gossip just spreads until the truth is marred.  How about the assaults that happen on campus, at work, or even in homes with more threats to follow? Bullying can happen among families as well.  What about the unloved wife, what the Bible labels an abomination?  Her husband wants to have an “open marriage” despite their marital vows to purity.  Or the spouse who cleverly justifies their spending addictions?  How about your battle with a spouse’s drinking problem, or yours?  Or the woman whose husband refuses to provide for his family, sits at home in depression, poor and pitiful?  Or the relative battling with an addiction to prescription pain killers, or the person living with constant pain because they cannot afford a doctor’s care?  A secret eating disorder or gambling problem?   The stories go on … Don’t have to look far for the faults of your brother, but how about fixing your own?  If you still think you are exempt, then pray for the rest of us, please.  God, through Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit make us “as pure, as white as snow” in 2016.

Bigger Portions

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I begin this blog post with the verse in Jeremiah, reminding us each you are set apart for God’s purposes.  “I knew you before I formed you … I set you apart.”  This year has been a full one once again, full of people, projects, places, overflowing blessings, as well as trials and destructive floods.  I still believe most people are good, and if working together we can build a barn quicker than alone.  I believe the blessing jar is overflowing as the year ends, and dreams can stay alive as we share what we have been blessed with.

This time of year we each get a full course of people in huge portions just as the holiday foods.  An upset stomach, headache, and exhaustion can result. Behaviors such as insecurity, jealousy, backbiting, plotting, exclusion displayed throughout the year will come about during the holidays, sometimes in bigger portions. Difficult encounters can be embraced with a smile and words of grace and truth. Ask for God’s grace!  I do.  Unless feelings are addressed by each person, little chance for reconciliation in relationships.  I still believe in miracles.  And I believe in dreaming.  I believe a bigger home or second home will come about for Dean and I in 2016.  What blessings overflowed for you in 2015?  What are you believing for in 2016?  I’d love to hear.

Holiest Of All Holidays

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Oh, Christmas morn early enough before the busyness of unwrapping gifts and brunch making … The dazzle of the tree lights, church bells chime, and then silence.  My most favorite moment of the year!  And this moment came despite the strangeness of being displaced from my physical home. Home is where the heart is.  And my heart is here.  Poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote these beautiful verses in his poem, Holiday:

The holiest of all holidays are those

Kept by ourselves in silence and apart;

The secret anniversaries of the heart,

When the full river of feeling overflows; –

The happy days unclouded to their close;

The sudden joys that out of darkness start

As flames from ashes; swift desires that dart

Swallows singing down each wind that blows!

White as the gleam of receding sail;

White as a cloud that floats and fades in air,

White as the whitest lily on a stream,

These tender memories are; – a Fairy Tale

Of some enchanted land we know not where,

But lovely as a landscape in a dream.

Believe!  Merry Christmas from Dean and Anna!