We have been having beautiful spring days, with chilly mornings, but warm afternoons in the 60s and 70s. Our basement for the new house has now been dug out. And in a few days they will begin to pour the basement walls and floor. It is exciting to see when another step has been accomplished.

The older children have left for school, while Joseph and Lovina are still sleeping, which is unusual. But we went to Jacob's last night for supper and got to bed later than usual, which is why they are still sleeping. Last night my husband Joe, brother-in-law Jacob, and some of the children went mushroom hunting. They didn't have too much luck, though.

I decided to take advantage of the peace and quiet and get this column written. My dishes aren't washed, floors need to be swept and the laundry to be folded. All that will be easier to do once the children are awake and I can keep an eye on them. It seems like I sweep the floors so much more often since the basement has been dug. The children drag in clumps of direct on their shoes, in their pockets, etc. I can imagine the fun I'll have once it rains.

As I write this, and the others sleep, little Kevin (8 months) is in his walker. He gets around everywhere. He's already trying to open my cabinet doors. So he needs to be watched more and more.

We started out for Ohio on Wednesday morning. It took us six and a half hours to get to the tiny town of Walhonding, where the viewing was held for Joe's grandmother. She doesn't have to suffer anymore, although she will be greatly missed by all her friends and family.

We then headed for the Sugarcreek, Ohio area as the funeral was to be near there the next day. While in the area, we stopped in to visit my Aunt Lovina and her husband, Abe Raber. She was surprised to see us and we had a nice, but too short visit. I hadn't seen Aunt Lovina for almost three years. She is my Mom's sister and resembles her a lot. I was named after her. We lived in the same church district while we both lived in Berne, Indiana. My uncle Toby passed away seven years ago from cancer. Lovina remarried to Abe about three years ago. I wished that the time hadn't been too short to visit Lovina's daughters (my cousins) Elizabeth and Lovina and their families and Lovina's son Amos and family, who all live close by her.

Thursday was the funeral in the Sugarcreek area on the place where Joe's grandmother grew up. The funeral was largely attended. We saw a lot of Joe's family, uncles, aunts, cousins. I also saw my brother Amos and sister-in-law Nancy there. Joe's grandmother would also have been Nancy's grandmother. I also met a lot of Holmes County readers of this column. It seemed like a very friendly community.

A reader in Jamestown, Ohio, again asked about cookbooks. (Editor's Note: There are still cookbooks available. Titles are: "Best of The Amish Cook, Vol. 1", "Best of The Amish Cook, Vol. 2", "The Amish Cook Treasury" and "The Amish Cook's Family Favorites." Each title - shipping included - is $20. Each book is approximately 200 pages with plenty of recipes and stories. The set of four can be purchased for $65. Send order to: Oasis Newsfeatures, P.O. BOX 2144, Middletown, Ohio 45042. Books will be autographed, Delivery by June 15. All books are packed with facts, stories and tidbits about Amish life, along with plenty of recipes. The Treasury, however, is just recipes, a collection of recipes from Amish, Mennonite, and German Baptist kitchens. Anyone who orders a full set of cookbooks through June 1, will receive - via FedEx - a free copy of "The Amish Cook Family", a colorful photo-filled coffeetable cookbook when it is released in September 2007.)

A reader in Hutchinson, Kansas asked about a pancake or flapjack recipe. Try this one for an easy breakfast!

CORNMEAL GRIDDLE CAKES

1 c. boiling water

1 tbsp. dark molasses

1 c. sour milk or buttermilk

1 1/2 c. flour

3 tsp. baking powder

3 tbsp. melted shortening or oil

3/4 c. corn meal

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. soda

Pour boiling water over cornmeal, stir until thick. Add molasses and milk. Beat in eggs. Add flour, salt, baking powder and soda. Stir in shortening. Bake on hot ungreased griddle. Yields 10 cakes.

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