As I started working on my column I could hear the roar of the lawn mower and the sweet smell of newly mowed grass coming in through the window, only open a crack because it is darn cold outside. Hubby has been chomping at the bit to get started. Why? I have no clue because once he does he spends the rest of the summer complaining about mowing. Must be a guy thing.

It is always a joy when I can spend time with family and this weekend, I got to spend time with family members on other branches of the family tree. We were invited over to my brother’s house for breakfast on the occasion of my cousin Greg Martens’ visit. It was nice sitting around the snack bar doing lots of reminiscing about our younger days along with enjoying Jean’s amazing full breakfast.

And when we returned with bellies full, we found a message from my cousin Sue saying that she and her sisters Sandy, Sharon and Sally were in the area and I got a chance to introduce them to Timber Valley, where we all enjoyed a good visit along with soup, coffee and desserts. All my Filipiak cousins are a fun-loving bunch with great senses of humor I really relate to and there was a lot of laughter and good visiting at our table.

The Hixton Travel Plaza was recently chosen as a top 10 independent truckstop by Trucker Path for 2017. They were very pleased with the honor, as this is a very popular app among drivers. There’s a whole lot of remodeling going on in their store but it is coming along very well and they said the bulk of their remodeling project is planned to be completed by mid May.

I heard of a successful dance recital attended by several young ladies from the area. I wonder if I had been able to attend dance classes when I was younger if I would be more graceful now than I am. Somehow I don’t think so.

The end of the year for Our Savior’s Kids Club was commemorated with pizza and cookies before the past week’s confirmation class. Always a fun time for this group.

Brittany Hentsch was honored at not one, but two bridal showers this past weekend. One was hosted by friends and the other by family of the groom.

The BRF Community Band held their spring concert on April 30 at the Lunda Community Theater and according to the schedule at the Concert in the Park, the Band will be starting out the season on June 6 and closing the season on Aug. 22.

Mississippi Valley Pride hosted the first day of a softball camp. The 8-14U Camp goes over defense offense, pitching, catching and base running. The dates were April 30, and will continue on May 7 and May 21. Ari Charles was one of the area attendees, looking forward to an exciting season of softball.

Our Hixton Volunteer Fire Department is always on the ready for situations needing their assistance and they have been quite busy recently. We are so glad for their expertise and hard work. Welcome to the department’s newest firefighters—Oscar Rodriguez and Tom Stark.

Ruth Casper was the honored guest speaker at the recent induction ceremony of the BRF National Honor Society.

My friend Dolores Kenyon’s birthday just happened to fall on a Monday this year, so it was a no brainer that I would take her to lunch to celebrate at Perkins. Instead of a cake, she could get a free piece of pie. What a coincidence that her three kids, Barb, Bob and Tom “just happened” to be in the area, along with her niece Shirley and husband. Enjoyable time with a fun group—and this is one popular lady. Between Facebook and other greetings being sent her way, she is still celebrating!

Love it when I hear of more items to add to the months of “happenings”. Add Richard and Lorie Johnson Lamp’s anniversary and Mac Bowen’s birthday to the April list.

John and Elaine Roskos went to El Dorado Royale in the Riviera Maya Mexico with David West and Amy Morales from April 12-21. Not only to have a spring vacation but also to celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. Surprise, surprise part of that celebrating was to renew their vows. I told Elaine it was just like eloping, only 15 years later. They renewed their vows on April 20—their 15-year wedding anniversary, at 5:30 p.m. Their picture holding up a “We Still Do” sign was heartwarming. They returned home just in time to attend their niece Jessica Roskos’ marriage to Dustin Holman in Prescott.

I add my congratulations to Jessica Roskos and Dustin Holman on their wedding!

Happy Belated May Day—does anybody still celebrate by hanging May Baskets on neighbors doors, filled with flowers or special treats? That was a special memory of my childhood.

Happy May birthdays to Ella Sedelbauer, David Simonson, Teresa Johnson, Amy Bergerson, Megan Bergerson, Allison Sweeney, Grayce West, Katy Nortman, Mary Mulry, Sydney Mae Jelinek, Bill Lien, Melissa Reininger, Travis Reininger, Chelsea Labar, Karnelia Rose Sroka, Jeff Lien, Ron Demers, Bonnie Jarrett, Pieper Joy Lynn Nelson, Brooklyn Yeskie, Mary Giese, Daniel Simonson. Brenda Mulry, Donna Gran, Wyatt Kolve, Thea Leisgang, Dru Mickelson, Kelsey Lien, Debbie Laufenberg, Shannon Severson, Blanche Mulry, Bill Holmes, Jill Sweeney, Brittany Hentsch, Dale Hart, Behati Blaise Yeskie, Hailley Sedelbauer, Nora Gerke, Madeline Bergerson, David Simonson, Jack Kleba, Ethan Osley, Mick Hawley, Tom Davidson, Halle Cecilia Thieret, Greta Ray Lien and Nate Slenczka.

Happy May anniversaries to Christopher and Kabi Berndt, Mark and Carol Jarrett, Norman and Myrtle Berget, Bill and Jenni Lien, Mike and Liz Daffinson, Brandyn and Natasha Stoker, Rich and Diane Fredrickson, Jenny and Greg Bush, Erick and Cortney Gjesfjeld, Gary and Rhonda Ammann, Trevor and Megan Taylor.

If you happen to be going through your lists of birthdays and anniversaries—take a minute to send me a copy so we can mention and celebrate those special days in the column. Whether you mention yourself, your kids, your grandkids and even greats, if there is any Hixton ties, it will have a place of honor on the list. I have been known to goof up dates and there is always the possibility of missing someone, so catch me up at hixtonhappenings@yahoo.com or give me a call at 715-963-2531.

This year’s Dairy Recipe Contest totally snuck up on me. By the time you read this, the winner of the Dairy Dessert Salad will be announced as part of the Spring meeting of the Jackson County HCE. The jury is still out on whether or not I will be brave enough to enter this year. It was really sweet being a winner in last year’s contest—the first time I ever entered.

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Words of Wisdom: Water your mind to grow your soul.

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That aging thing: You know you are old when your knees (or in my case, my shoulders) give you a more accurate weather forecast than the guy on TV.

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I’ve Learned…it’s always a good day to have a good day!

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Word of the Week: REEST (reest)—in reference to a horse—to stop, balk, or refuse to go

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Natural High: The opportunity for getting together with some of my Illinois cousins!

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Tip of the Week: To keep foods fresher longer—place plastic wrap tightly over the brown stem part on a bunch of bananas, wrap celery sticks and broccoli florets in aluminum foil, keep whole mushrooms fresh in a paper bag for a week, take bagged lettuce and put in a bowl and press a sheet of paper towel on top before covering, store potatoes and apples in the same area, never potatoes and onions.

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Fun Fact of the Week: The Chicago World’s Fair was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World. The fair included carnival rides, among them the original Ferris Wheel, designed and constructed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. This wheel was 264 feet high and had 36 cars, each of which could accommodate 40 people.

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Slow Cooker General Tso’s Chicken

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes

3/4 cup cornstarch

2 egg whites

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Sauce:

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened pineapple juice

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup apple vinegar

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Beat egg whites together in a shallow bowl and place cubed chicken in bowl to soak.

Place cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a gallon-size, plastic, re-sealable bag, then add chicken cubes to the bag. Seal bag and shake vigorously until chicken is thoroughly coated.

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown chicken on all sides. 1-2 minutes.

Grease the inside of your slow cooker with nonstick spray, then whisk together sauce ingredients until combined.

Place 1/2 browned chicken in slow cooker and top with 1/2 of sauce. Top with remaining chicken and remaining sauce, then toss together.

Cover slow cooker and cook on LOW for 3-4 hours, or on HIGH for 1 1/2-2 hours.

Serve chicken with broccoli and white rice, topped with green onions.

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Carrot Cake Cookies

Yield: 2 dozen

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups carrot, grated

1 cup sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup walnuts, chopped

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

Frosting:

1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350º F, position oven racks in the top and bottom parts of oven, and lightly grease 2 baking sheets.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, then set aside.

In a large bowl or mixer, cream together butter and sugars and until fluffy and lightened in color.

One at a time, beat in eggs (waiting for the first to be fully incorporated before adding the second) and then add the vanilla extract.

Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet, mixing until only just combined, then fold in the grated carrot and chopped walnuts.

Using a spoon or small ice cream scoop, drop batter on to baking sheets, making sure to leave 1-2 inches between each cookie.

Place trays in oven and bake for 13-15 minutes, or until light brown and springy to the touch.

Remove from oven and let cool completely.

In a bowl or mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together until smooth and creamy, then add in honey and vanilla extract.

Once cookies are cool, spoon 1 tablespoon cream cheese frosting onto the bottom of one cookie and sandwich it together with the bottom of a second cookie.

Repeat with remaining cookies and enjoy!

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Quote of the week: “Always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of someone else.” -Judy Garland.

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