Resolve to Get Back on Track

It’s easy to get derailed with the winter holidays coming one right after another. When we get past New Year’s Eve, it’s time to take a breather and get back to normal life! The long haul between now and spring gives us plenty of time to look back on what we did (or didn’t do) and to look forward with renewed commitment to what we should do. If you want to make a resolution that really works because it’s easier to implement, do these things:

Be very specific. Don’t say you’re going to lose weight and save money. Say you’re going to lose 10 pounds and put $1,000 in a savings account.

Give yourself a deadline. Do you want to take all year to lose 10 pounds? Then write down that you will have done it by December 2012. Is there some reason you’d like to have $1,000 by summertime? Give yourself a goal of saving it by June 1.

Create your plan. Nothing happens on its own. You actually have to DO something to make your goals. Decide where the money is coming from, how to eat less and/or exercise more. Write it down. Get creative. Continue reading

Make a Winter Wreath

Most of us deck the halls and that includes putting a jolly wreath on our front door.  But I am rather charmed with using ‘found’ objects to make wreaths to celebrate other holidays year round.

However, the Christmas period and the winter months are the right time to get my indigenously grown essential for wreath projects.

Some people like to use an old wire coat hanger to make their wreath frame. You can then pack straw held in place with rafia to make one kind of frame.  Others put in sphagnum moss but this is something that we want to preserve so best to stick to a renewable like stray or hay.

I don’t have a huge supply of wire coat hangers. I’m sort of allergic on principle to using all the chemicals needed in dry cleaning  so I’ve no ready source of wire coat hangers.

What I DO have is lots of willow out on our acre. Continue reading

Dietz Lanterns: Lighting the Future

Gerry Dietz retired as President of R.E. Dietz in 1967, and his brother John became the President. In 1970, they closed the Syracuse factory and moved their remaining kerosene lantern production to Hong Kong.

Ten years later, the Hong Kong factory was manufacturing 1.5 million lanterns per year, becoming a great success. Dietz was still innovating, producing a line of battery powered emergency flashers for highway construction and floating traffic lights for barges. Records from the period show that, at times, Dietz had cash reserves of more than $600,000.

The Dietz Original Lantern is available today. Click on the image above to order.)

But running the factory half a world away must have been difficult even though Dietz had talented managers in Hong Kong. For example, the “76” lantern, meant to commemorate the Bicentennial, was produced two years late, in 1978! That was one year after I started working at Lehman’s, and I still remember receiving the first shipment of those lanterns.

1978 was also the year that John Dietz retired. The presidency was taken over by Edward Reynolds, the first non-family member to run R.E. Dietz. And, demand Continue reading

Christmas Eve on the Ranch

This went around on an e-mail, and it is just too good not to re-post here. Enjoy!

Christmas Eve on the Ranch

‘Twas the night before Christmas and out on the ranch

The pond was froze over and so was the branch.

The snow was piled up belly-deep to a mule.

The kids were all home on vacation from school.

And happier young folks you never did see

Just all sprawled around a-watchin’  TV.
Continue reading

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Time For Savory Pies — Irish Style

Winter cooking lends itself to more roast meat, hearty stews and casseroles. Between Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays we all tend to do more entertaining, too. This also creates leftovers and the need to ring the changes.

One part of British/Irish cookery that I have added to my standard winter repertoire is the savory pie.  There is only a ‘lid’ to the pie, a topper that adds those carbohydrates that we crave during the cold months.  Insulation for the digestion.

Suet pastry has pretty much gone out of vogue in British cookery over the past three decades.  But shortcrust and puff pastry are found in every freezer cabinet.  However, you pay a premium for shop bought. But if you are, like me, not a very gifted pastry chef, there are alternatives.

Enter the scone (similar to our biscuits) topping as well as the mashed potato topping that famously cloaks Shepherd’s Pie.

But first, the savory bit! You can make pies in deep dishes or casserole pots or even in large rectangular pans if you have a crowd to fill up. Continue reading

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Dietz Lanterns: Surviving the Great Depression

John Dietz wasn’t destined to have the same success that his father, Robert Dietz, and brother, Frederick Dietz had running the R.E. Dietz lantern company. Although R.E. Dietz would continue growing until 1923, the Great Depression would eventually bring the company to its knees.

His son, Robert E Dietz II, was described as the only hope that, “Our family name Dietz will (be) perpetuated.” But, John’s brother, Frederick said of Robert, “Owing to his nervous temperament he could not stand the strain of office confinement and was obliged to temporarily seek outdoor life.” It seems that whether or not the R.E. Dietz company would continue to be led by a member of the Dietz family in the future was in question. Robert II eventually left Dietz and moved to New Mexico, where he took up farming. Continue reading

(Mis)Using Technology

by Lindsay Lehman

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Lindsay Lehman, daughter of Lehman’s President Galen Lehman and granddaughter of Founder Jay Lehman. In light of our shared commitment to simple, self-sufficient living, let’s all take the time to consider this issue at Christmas and all year round.

It’s my first time here, at Michael’s house, and I scan the room, taking in the old, yet homey, décor surrounding me. Like most basements, his is cold, and I fold the felt blanket under my legs as I look around at my friends. A whole group of us are here, getting together one last time before heading off to college. I realize that we took over Michael’s entire basement. We are scattered all over the small room, some in chairs, some on the floor, and some beside me, sharing the scratchy, plaid couch.

Earlier we went to a local coffee shop and enjoyed sipping lattes and hot chocolate while we reminisced about high school. By the time we got back, we were all ready to settle down to a movie. But, we ended up arguing over which movie to watch for the next thirty minutes. To my chagrin, the group decided that we watch Groundhog Day—my least favorite romantic comedy of the 1990s. I was half-tempted to leave halfway through the movie, but I resisted and survived the next 101 minutes. Though, had I known what we would do next, I doubt I would have stuck around. Continue reading

Dietz Lanterns: Lighting America

Fred Dietz, the second generation leader of the R.E. Dietz lantern company

In 1894, after more than 50 years at the helm of the RE Dietz company he started, Robert Dietz retired at the age of 76. He left his son, Frederick (now 45) in charge.

Frederick was just as innovative as his father. He registered 25 new patents for lantern design. He also applied his skills to marketing. He designed a unique Dietz logo, obtained trademarks and upgraded company catalogs. He set up a sales organization, and even hired a salesperson to circumnavigate the globe, marketing their lanterns in India, Japan and (foreshadowing the company’s future) China. A book published by RE Dietz in 1913 (and, admittedly, co-authored by Frederick himself), says, “There is no one living who has greater knowledge of the birth and growth of the lantern industry.” Continue reading

Hearty Pasta Dishes Bring Warmth to the Winter Table

The ultimate go-to meal, pasta dishes are delicious at any time of the year, but they’re especially comforting now in the colder weather.  Many of the recipes that have developed over the years were staple foods of Italian working-class people.  Incredibly versatile, pasta lends itself to a variety of cream, cheese and tomato-based sauces. Another plus: pasta is very affordable, perfect for large families or feeding a crowd. Fill your house with the aroma of these easy, rich pasta dishes and watch your family’s smiles grow.

Italian Baked Ziti – from my cookbook, “From My Family Recipe Box”
1 pound box ziti pasta, cooked al dente, drained well
1 pound ground beef
8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
1 small onion, peeled, diced fine
4 cloves garlic, peeled, and diced fine
16 ounces tomato sauce
16 ounce container ricotta cheese
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons sugar Continue reading

There’s a cow in the road!

Something you probably won’t see in the city: nine cows marching down the road. If you live in the country, you don’t want to see this either. It’s Not A Good Thing.

As my husband Mike and I came home from the grocery on recent chilly, rainy, soggy, foggy Sunday, though, it’s what we saw. Cows meandering between the chicken house and garage owned by our neighbors Don and Cheryl. The problem was that these cows weren’t theirs. The cows belonged to our Amish neighbors Emery and Ann Marie.

Who let the cows out?

These cows are their living. They’ve gone from a couple of dairy cows to nine, and are expecting to raise at least three more dairy calves in the next year. They supply two local dairies with organic milk. And all this ran through my head as I saw the cows wandering about like they had all the time in the world.

We followed the cows in our Honda minivan (works as well as a pickup for herding cows), and made sure that all of them had gotten into the cornfield, and then we edged them into the middle of the field. The cows, of course, had no sense of urgency, and decided the cornfield would be a fine place to stop and have a snack.

Once they were settled, we buzzed down the lane to Don and Cheryl’s, and met them as they were getting into their golf cart. They’d seen the tail end of the cow parade, and realized that something was up. Continue reading