We are already into the second month of 2014. Many, many inches of snow have fallen already this year. Our neighbor cleaned out our drive again yesterday. We have some pretty big snow banks that have accumulated from the drive being cleaned out quite often. We are finally experiencing a real Michigan winter. Haven’t had one since we moved here 10 years ago. This morning our thermometer showed a cold 9 degrees. This cold weather makes us still enjoy working on 1,000-piece puzzles when time allows and in the evenings. We are almost halfway done with the sixth one this winter. Some are harder than others. It depends on the picture and the shape of the puzzle pieces. This last one is not as fun as a lot of the pieces are the same shape. You have to be careful that a piece doesn’t get put in the wrong place. It can look like it would fit in easily when it’s not where it belongs.

Yesterday, Feb. 5, was Susan’s friend Mose’s birthday. Susan wanted to take supper in to his family in honor of his birthday. I helped her make the food which consisted of pizza casserole, lettuce salad, freezer pickles, hot peppers, chocolate pudding, angel food cake dessert, peaches and Swiss roll bars. We frosted the top of the bars so we could put "Happy Birthday Mose" on it so it could work as a cake since he likes the bars. We made enough food so we could have an easy supper here. If the weather would have been nicer we would have all went along with Susan to Mose’s place. But there was a winter storm warning out so we weren’t sure how the weather would be by evening. It sounds like Mose had a nice birthday in spite of the weather.

Daughter Verena is enjoying the sunny South right now. She was offered an expense free trip to the Sarasota/Pinecraft area in Florida with some friends of ours. I talked with her yesterday and she is enjoying the warm weather. They spent the day at the Siesta Key beach and it was 77 degrees there. It is difficult to imagine that it is actually warm in some places of the world.

Verena left Monday morning around 9:45 a.m. By late evening they were in North Carolina where they spent the night at a distant relative of mine’s. They reached Sarasota around 8 p.m. Tuesday evening. Our house has seemed empty ever since with Verena not around. I think this will be a memorable trip for her and am glad she had such a wonderful opportunity to go. Our family visited the same place in 2011 while doing some book signings but at that time Verena had her foot in a walking book and couldn’t enjoy the ocean as well. We miss her very much and will be glad when she’s back home safe and sound. She should be back home next week some time. Blessings to all.


2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound streak strips

2 cups cauliflower

2 cups broccoli

1 cup carrots

1 cup mushrooms

Mix first eight ingredients together and set aside. Stir meat, vegetables, and oil in a large skillet or wok on high heat. Add 1/2 cup water to skillet and steam for about 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add sauce mixture and stir until thickened. Optional: chicken strips can be used instead of steak if preferred.