Saturday, December 3, 2016

Christmas Dishes

 The minute I saw these Better Homes and Gardens plates that everyone is putting on their tablescapes, I knew I had to have them, too.  They were not in stock so I ordered a package of six matching plates on line and picked them at my local Walmart. On my way back to the service desk, I saw they had received more. (Of course). I know I do not need anymore dishes or any more Christmas dishes, but I just could not resist. My plan was to just put them on the table and pretend they had been in the cabinet all along. Foiled when I opened the box to show them to a friend and left the opened box on the table for my husband to see. 
I decided that I could not have the plates on the table without a toy red pickup truck carrying a Christmas tree as a centerpiece. I have been a woman on a mission. Today alone I visited 9 stores. Either no one sells a plain red truck or everyone else thought of it first. I did find two possibilities, but both were more than I wanted to pay. My last stop of the day was Rite Aid drugstore and what should I find but the EXACT replica of the vehicle on my plate!!!! And 50% off - with tax the cost was $10.70!!!   I am so happy!!  

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Board Craft Day

I had a post in early fall about our board crafts.  I purchased some fence boards at Home Depot on clearance (I think they were 1.27 each) and my daughter, daughter in laws and I have been painting them for the holidays.
     It is harder than you might think since all the girls work full time jobs and have children under 4. And I am the caretaker for all these precious little ones. It limits our time with something like PAINT, lol.    
  My daughter in law is a school teacher and her school gave the teachers the day off before Thanksgiving. So, after taking the baby to the doctors for a check up on his croup (because we have had two sick infants in the bunch this week, too), she and his two year old big brother stopped over to finish her board and inspire me to finish mine, too!              
                                                                                                            I still cannot figure out how to post to the blog from my phone and I still cannot figure out how to move the photos from my phone to my laptop. Again, I posted the photos to facebook, then copied them from facebook to my laptop and then copied them to the blog from my laptop.  Frustrating.                

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A Moment, a Memory

This was not the picture I planned. I knew that a portrait with a 6 month old, an 8 month old, two 2 year olds, a 4 year old, two 6 year olds and an 8 year old would be a challenge, but silly me thought the babies would be the issue. I did bring M&Ms to bribe the 2 year olds and that is the only way we got them in the picture; I just wish they were forward facing. The worlds most patient photographer, Sweet Pea Photography by Liz, took a zillion shots and I just wish I would have clutched the cape that was supposed to hide my tummy just a little tighter. But the setting and the colors are perfect and this photo captures a moment in time that I hope all of these precious grandchildren will remember. I know I will. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Awesome Autumn to All

I am ready to begin blogging again. I just can not figure out how to upload photos from my phone to the blog. grrrr.  This one I uploaded to facebook from my phone and then downloaded it from facebook on to my laptop. grrrr. There has to be a better way! 

Meanwhile, today I had my daughter and daughter-in-laws over for a craft day. I found these fence boards on clearance for 1.29 each at Home Depot.  I fooled around with some paint and water this week and came up with a couple different stains. We spent the afternoon stenciling and painting. All of the boards looked so different and unique! If I can figure this out, maybe someday I can share them. 

We had no rain all summer and this week was trying to make up for it. I really wanted some corn stalks, but it was too wet to go get some. There was finally a break in the rain yesterday and I went to a nearby farm where I got several gorgeous mums, enough cornstalks to cover the posts on my porch, and even a couple pumpkins. My porch looks just so darn cute! And the beauty of decorating for fall instead of Halloween is that it can all stay right where it is until the end of November. Even the board can stay; it is reversible! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Flip Flop Wreath

My daughter, granddaughter and I went to a wonderful craft show a few weeks ago. Several vendors were selling the most adorable flip flop wreaths. I respectfully did not take any photographs, but made the typical craft show attendee mistake of saying to myself  "I can make that"
My first stop was the Dollar Tree where I purchased seven pairs of flip flops for $7.00.  I did not check the prices of the flip flop wreaths at the craft show, but I am sure they were worth the cost!!
I am not sure I saw them at the Dollar Tree before, but they had wreath frames, too.  

This is a glue gun. I spent about 90 minutes trying to put the wreath together with a glue gun. I also repaired one of the egg carton locomotives we made at gramma camp that had lost it's cotton ball smokestack and steam. 
First I tried to glue the pairs together. I would apply a strip of glue and hold the flip flops together for several minutes until it was dry. This is what would happen. 
Eventually they would completely pull apart. I decided to go to Pinterest and see what others had recommended. Most recommended gluing the flip flops and then gluing them to the wreath. I made a glass of iced tea and sat down to think. 
 I peeled all the hot glue off the flip flops. Then I got some floral wire. 
I spent a lot of time attaching floral wire just like this to all the flip flops. Luckily I had these supplies on hand. When I tried to attach them to the wreath, they were too wiggly and floppy. 
After a lot of trial and error. I cut the wires like this and then separated them. It would have been so much faster to attach the wires like this in the first place. And some had to be replaced because they were not long enough when I cut them.  Then I tried several designs. 
or this?

This wasted a lot more time since the flip flops had their own little minds about how they would prefer to be attached. My hope was to cover the wreath with no wire showing. That did not happen. 
And this is how I finally was able to wire them on. I cannot explain it but maybe you can get an idea from the photo. I was relieved it will hang on a door and no one will see the reverse side. 
I had no idea how long it would take me to get to this point. 
Well, I got them wired on, but there is a lot of wire wreath showing. I decided to cut a zillion ribbons and tie them on all the different layers of the wire base. 
After all that cutting, the ribbons did not look like what I had in mind. They just looked messy. And since I knotted them tightly, I had to cut off each one individually.  
I tied the pink polka dot ribbon to the flip flops and cut apart a silk flower bouquet that I had leftover in my craft closet, left over from something or other. I wish I would have had some cute daisies, but I was too tired to go to the store and look for some. 
I had a left over spool of blue polka dot ribbon that I added, too. It was not the look I was going for, but after living with it for a few days, I decided I liked it enough to leave it alone. 

However, although I did not have to put much money into it due to the fact I have a closet full of miscellaneous supplies; when I factor the time I spent trying to figure out how to make it and the aggravation factor (and I am trying to avoid stress with my shingles), I wish I had just purchased one at the craft show!!!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Church Festival Eve

Someday I will share photos of my church festival. Unfortunately every year I am so busy that I never get a chance to take any pictures!  This year was no exception. So I will again be sharing photos of Church Festival Eve. 

I was baking pies. Lots and Lots of pies. 

One of the features of our church festival is the BBQ Chicken dinner. We switched to a new bbq'er this year, young guys with a different method and recipe. It was a difficult decision with lots of thought and prayer and we will have to wait for our evaluation meeting to find out if we made the right choice. We have an "all-day" kitchen crew that makes roasters of green beans with bacon and onions and mashed potatoes and gravy to serve with the chicken (or ham in roasters if you don't like chicken). Other sides include roll and butter and a slice of HOMEMADE pie, as well as coffee, water or lemonade if you "eat-in". We do a pretty big carry out business, too. 

To start my pies, I gather the ingredients: a pound of flour, a can of shortening, a teaspoon of salt, 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 3 cups of milk. I always pick up an extra roaster pan on sale after the holidays just to mix pie dough. 
Mix the 5 pound bag of flour with the teaspoon of salt. 

Next, cut in the WHOLE 3 pound can of shortening. As you can see, I use two pastry cutters, one in each hand, for this job (and it is a job to get it crumbly.)
Once it looks like this, you can mix your 3-31/2 cups of milk and 3 tablespoons of vinegar in a 4 cup measuring cup. Make a well in the middle of your dough and pour it in. I have no photo for this step because it is a horrible mess. The only way to mix it is with your hands. Just dig in and mix. It will be terribly sticky and all over your hands. You will know when it is mixed enough because it will come off your hands! Really, it will. 
The recipe says it makes 15 crusts. I always get way more. Just cover the counter with flour (you will need at least 2 more cups of flour than what came in your 5 pound bag) and pinch off two handfuls. After you roll a few, you will be able to judge how much dough you will need per crust. 
Because I was baking all my pies in the same day, I rolled each one, put it in an aluminum pie pan and layered them with waxed paper. It was in the 90's with 100% humidity the day I was baking (of course) so even with the air conditioner humming, my 425 degree oven kept things pretty warm. I kept the waiting crusts in the refrigerator, grabbing one out to fill, flipping the next one on top, cutting the slits and putting them on my PREHEATED metal cookie sheets to bake two at a time. I do have a confection oven, but they just seem to bake better on the regular setting. 
This year's pie count: 11  This year's cake count (for the cake walk): 6
The final count was 2 pumpkin, 1 peach, 4 blueberry and 4 cherry. 

We almost ran out of pie! We barely had enough for the 1700 Chicken halves, some of which are sold as quarters so I am not sure how many dinners that made. 

The little toothpick flags on top are designating flavor. I like to make it easier for the ladies in the pie room. 

If you are not a person who is going to bake 11 pies in one day, the crusts can be frozen unbaked, too. I suppose you could freeze them in the pie tins, but I just roll them between 2 layers of waxed paper and fold it in quarters and put them in a freezer bag. They keep several months and can work for chicken pot pies, too! 

I did speak to several women who asked about my shingles. When I told the first one (a former hospice nurse) I was on Lyrica, she asked me about my "Lyrica Brain" - the forgetfulness and general fogginess. I felt very vindicated. When working in the kitchen with my husband and sons in the after-dinner-clean-up-crew, two of the women had used Lyrica for nerve damage and were commiserating about the weight gain, feeling of drunkenness and general complaints. I feel fortunate that I have been able to reduce how much I am using it for the nerve pain. For the past two days I have not taken any during the day and am able to control the tingling with ibuprofen. I am still using it at night, but using less. I am hoping that maybe in a week or two I will be done with it! I have too much to do to deal with this brain fade! 

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Fourth of July!

I am so excited to finally be able to go outdoors and do - well, do anything! I have a doctor's appointment on Tuesday and I want to discuss reducing the pain medication I am on for the nerve pain in my hip and leg to see if I can get a little more clear headed. I still have a healing rash, but it much better than a painful, blistering shingles rash! 
My small town hosts an epic Fourth of July parade that is several hours long. If you are from a small town, you will know the kind of parade I mean. The first 20 minutes or so includes the Flag Bearers, The Veterans and every sheriff, police, fire department, fire volunteer and military vehicles in the county.  We all stand, and the guys remove their hats, and the children salute. I get teary eyed every year. 
Every youth group marches with a float or a decorated pick up truck or rides their bikes in matching t-shirts. Every politician or political hopeful has their own marching group of friends, relatives, bikes and strollers and carry baskets of handouts. All the vacation bible schools have floats, too. Some hand out frozen icees and another church hands out bottles of water. 
All the local communities have summer festivals complete with Queens and Princesses and the county fairs even have a few Kings. We wave and smile back to all the royalty because we used to royal parents ourselves! 
It will be the first time out for many of the middle school and high school bands, who have lost their "veterans" to graduation and have been busy practicing with the new guys. 
Several of the local businesses participate in the parade, too.  Last year featured a giant sneaker with a live band from a local bar, as well as pizza places, a local beer distributor (no, they don't throw free beers, just coasters and coozies), really any and every business you can think of. 
My personal favorite would be a tie between the Little Leaguers and the fifth grade DARE graduates. Both groups are between 8-12 years old and are on bicycles. The brave souls who gather them, line them up and travel the parade route with them deserve a special prize!
The end of the parade features local business again, this time with vehicles, semi trucks, work trucks and even a septic tank company's vehicle, complete with sound effects! 
I used to invite everyone back to my house after the parade for lunch. Last year my son and his wife bought a house with a great backyard with a view of the evenings firework celebration, so we all went there.  This year he has to work so we are going to my daughter and son-in-law's new house which features a pool. Of course I can't go swimming with shingles and I am just getting back on my feet anyway. It will probably be an early day for my husband and me.  

Happy Fourth of July!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

It is the Dawning of a New Day

The path to my faerie garden. 
I am so happy today. I am starting to feel like a new person! This is week 5 in my shingles battle and I feel like TODAY I have turned the corner. For the first time in 5 weeks I am wearing PANTS. Yes, pants. I would like to apologize for all those who saw me in church for the first Sunday in a month wearing an oversized blouse and knee length white pj pants that I pretending were capri pants. 
My husband suggested the aquarium stone after my first thought of pea gravel failed to showcase the faeries area. 
The rash was on my hip, the back of my leg and knee and my tailbone EVERYTHING hurt the rash from the OUTSIDE, from the sheet on my bed, to any clothing with a seam that was not t-shirt material, to the texture on furniture. It was fun times. 
This is the window across from the chair where I sat for the past month cushioned by bed pillows.
 I moved my bottle tree to this side of the house - can you find it?
Unfortunately on the INSIDE I am still suffering the nerve pain, finally controlled by medication which makes me feel merely drunk during the day for twelve hours when I take one pill and unconscious at night when I take two pills. I have tried not taking the one pill in the morning so I can drive safely, but the unspeakable pain returns by noon, so I will continue as is for now. I have refills until December, but am hoping that it doesn't take THAT  long to subside! 
This is what is in hiding my faerie garden. I know I am crazy, but I love the "overgrown" aspect of my gardens.
 I planted all these bushes myself about 10 years ago. 
MEANWHILE, I wore my pants outside and took pictures of my yard in the 75 degree temperatures that pushed those nasty 90 degree days with humidity somewhere over night. 
This is the path my husband put in while I was in my chair. The pieces of sandstone came from one of the houses he grew up in.  We had originally used them for a path behind our garage, probably 35 years ago. In our clay soil, they had sunk to China. He spent a lot of time digging them out for me. (Probably to get away from my whining!) 
There is a gentle breeze which is making today even better! After taking the photos, I came inside and started brewing some Sweet Peach Decaf Iced Tea. I purchased the leaves at a little hardware store in a nearby Amish "neighborhood" (a crossroad with a few stores in the vicinity). I bottle it in recycled Lipton bottles. This is the first time I have made tea since Memorial Day. I am so excited. 

I almost missed the blooming of my day lilies. My mother and I used to go for drives in the late 70's and dig them up by abandoned railroad tracks on country roads. We would carry shovels and park the kids, jump out, dig a clump and stow them in the trunk. These grow almost 5 feet tall and spread like crazy. The Blooming of the Day Lilies is one of my most favorite times of year! One of my other favorite features of my wild day lilies is that they are very lush and hide the weeds. They are the perfect planting! 

This is the walkway to my front porch. Originally I had planted day lilies along the foundation. They grew so large we could not use the sidewalk! We dug them out and laid that brick ourselves and still remain married! Now the lilies are spreading backward and jumping the sidewalk! I think we will have to re-locate some in the fall. 
I always wanted a clematis and had no luck. I picked this one up on a whim by the cash register at Lowe's. It is named "Polish Beauty" and my husband is polish, so . . . It loves the front of my house. We went through several trellis and this metal one is nailed to the house. 
And before I forget, one of our new trees! On our side of the sidewalk so the city can't cut it down. I believe it is a flowering pear. I was hoping for dogwood, but they were a little sad looking. 

Here are some relocated lilies on the side of our garage, joined by a little red one I picked up at a nursery. 
More along the fence in the play yard. 
And - a new oak tree! We lost many of our ash trees to the Emerald Ash Borer and need to replace our shade so that our 8 grandchildren have a safe place to play. 
View from the driveway to the house. Gosh I love these lilies!

Thanks for indulging my look at my yard. I have not felt well enough to go outside this summer and am so glad the lilies lingered long enough for me to enjoy them! 

AND I want to remind everyone aged 50 or older to please be sure to get your shingles vaccine. It is a painful and miserable disease. And I feel blessed that mine was located on the lower left side of my body. I have heard of the mother of a friend who contracted it on her face and had permanent blindness. A classmate has been battling shingles for almost a year, suffering from PHN, which is constant nerve pain, along with damage to her eye resulting in sensitivity to light.  Please get your shingles vaccine. 

Miss Merry