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July 1st (yesterday) was my daughter Loretta’s 24th birthday. I wish her many more happy and healthy years. Her two little boys keep her busy. Denzel turns 2 on July 10th and Byron turns 1 on August 7th. On Sunday, Joe and I took Dustin, Loretta and the boys to the park. Byron sat in the back with Loretta and me and didn’t stop until he could sit in the front with Joe, Dustin and Denzel. Then he looked around at Loretta and me with a grin on his face as if to say, “Ha ha, I like it better up here.” He enjoys watching the horse run. Denzel holds the reins to guide her horse, Spirit. Spirit is a calm horse and runs safely. Of course, Dustin makes sure to watch for traffic on the road.

Our family gathered for a lunch picnic in the park on Sunday to celebrate our daughter Verena’s special friend Daniel’s birthday on June 29. It was lovely, some went for hikes on the walking trails, others just relaxed and chatted.

Daughter Lovina and Daniel accompanied us in the park. They have just returned from their honeymoon. After the wedding they spent a week in a cabin by the lake. They are enjoying their life as newlyweds.

Last night they came to pick up another load of their belongings and wedding gifts. Thank you to everyone who sent them a gift, card, etc. to help them start their life together. They really appreciated it. Lovina cooked a vegetable soup here and they had dinner with us. I always find it hard when another of our children leaves home. My mother’s heart just doesn’t like change. I’m happy for them, but having one less person in the house means an empty spot.

At least it’s not like losing a loved one. Sarah Irene (sister-in-law) was at the wedding with some of her relatives. Brother Albert was missed so much. She hid her grief beautifully and helped make it a happy day for the newlyweds. I know her heart ached and she misses her dear husband. On June 28th she celebrated her 59th birthday – the first birthday without her dear husband by her side.

Daniel and Lovina had a beautiful day for their wedding, even though it was a very hot week. Temperatures reached over 30 degrees. The chefs did a great job preparing all the food despite the heat.

Our sons-in-law, Daniel’s brothers, and sister Emma’s sons-in-law and son started grilling chicken around 5am. They grilled 300 pounds for lunch and another 100 pounds in the afternoon for dinner. We had 480 pounds of chicken here but only grilled 400 pounds. There was plenty left over. They did a great job of cooking the chicken and it tasted really good. They had 9 or 10 grills going and were ready when the wedding ceremony started at 9am. This was also a hot affair on a 90 degree day.

The wedding meal menu included bread, strawberry butter, mashed potatoes, gravy, buttered noodles, dressing, grilled chicken, mixed vegetables, green salad, pecan, rhubarb pudding and strawberry pies, caramel pudding, fresh fruit (watermelon, cantaloupe and grapes) and coffee. The cake was cut at dinner at 7 p.m. It was decorated by the bride and groom.

Daniel and Verena and Dustin and Loretta were their groomsmen. They had 14 couples as table servers and 12 special helpers (they passed out the guest book, gifts, etc.). The rest of their nieces and nephews who were too young to help – those ages 3 and younger – were called Day Brighteners and the girls wore yellow dresses. The boys wore gray pants with yellow shirts. The special helpers wore light green. The table servers wore coral, the cooks wore burgundy, the family wore green, and the mothers wore dark green. The bride wore dark teal and her groomsmen wore light teal. Lovina had someone make a wall hanging in all the colors she chose. It looks really beautiful!

I chose my sister Emma and my niece Elizabeth as my head chefs for the wedding. They once again did an amazing job making sure everything ran smoothly.

Wednesday and Thursday before the wedding were busy days. Over 20 women came each day to bake over 80 cakes and 30 loaves of bread, dice carrots, celery and onions, wash and cut strawberries for the cake, cut rhubarb for the cake, etc. We had good help on those two days and everything was ready by lunch. Casseroles, salads and desserts were brought each day by the women who came to help.

For the wedding on Friday, we had over 50 chefs helping prepare the food. Their help is greatly appreciated. Also, special thanks to the chefs who spent an extra day prepping and took time out of their day on two days to help. They are truly a blessing. And special thanks to sisters Emma, ​​niece Elizabeth, and my friend Ruth for being here the entire time! Sister Verena also came with Emma every day. Ruth provided transportation to and from here. If we missed something, Ruth had to go get it. God bless you!

Lovina’s Amish Kitchen is written by Lovina Eicher, an Old Order Amish author, cook, wife and mother of eight children. Her three cookbooks, “The Cherished Table,” “The Essential Amish Cookbook” and “Amish Family Recipes,” are available wherever books are sold. Readers may write Eicher at Lovina’s Amish Kitchen, PO Box 234, Sturgis, MI 49091 (please enclose a stamped envelope for a reply); or email [email protected] and your message will be forwarded to her to read. She does not personally respond to emails.