We have had lots of struggles and challenges in our lives, but we've had even more blessings!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Laughable memories

  In the process of sorting through lots of stacks of paper recently, I came across two different times that I had written down funny things about our GRAND children. I really need to start doing this on a regular basis. I'm always so sure I'll remember them, only to find that I remember the incident, but not the conversations. Sigh...     Here's the two I found -

The first one is a conversation with Elliot. I 'think' he was 3 years old at the time.
"  "You're silly" he reples
"I'm not silly" (while I'm thinking I thought we'd conquered that it's okay to be silly).
   He continues with, "I'm a secret agent". Then, adding complete sincerity to both his voice and his face, he continued with "Secret agents are NEVER silly!!!"   (Guess we'll wait awhile to introduce him to 'Agent 5' 0;-b)   "

Also on that paper I had written,
"You're tricky"
"Robots are never tricky. They're hard to find"

Off of the other piece of paper, I think this one was from a couple of years ago too.

  "It took Analyse 45 minutes to eat her lunch, 3/4ths of a PB&J sandwich. Oh, her handful of corn chips were long gone. Elliot had eaten all of his sandwich, one quarter of hers and half of his chips. I told her to "hurry up and finish your lunch. It's taking you forever!" From behind me Elliot emphatically says "AMEN!!!"  "

They are such FUN!!!



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Monday, August 29, 2016

Weekend Fun - Just the 2 of us

     Brian didn't have to work Sat., and  had asked if I'd like to go on a "color tour before everything starts changing colors, so then when we go again in the fall we'll really see the change."  Sounded like a fun idea to me. But what I didn't realize was, that he was being very spontaneous and actually planning a mini vacation for just the two (2) of us.
    Started off by treating me to breakfast Sat. am at Arnie's. Delicious!!! We then stopped to get car chargers for our new phones. When he got back in the car, he asked if there was any place in particular I'd like to head to. "How about Mt. Pleasant?  I never did get to take you there and show you the places Julie and I have found." Which route?  "The Amish way". And off we headed.
    We had so-o much fun spending time together!!! Even the '70's satellite radio station we like to listen to, was cooperating. We heard songs we've never heard them play, songs we thourally enjoy but hadn't heard in ages. Such as Charlie Daniels 1973 hit, "Uneasy Rider". {and all that long hair fell out from underneath}  (the link I used shows you the lyrics while you listen to the song).  And, Clint Holmes 1972 hit, "Playground in my mind" {"My name is Michael, I've got a nickle....."}, amongst many. Oh did we laugh when, after playing Cheech & Chong's hit "Framed", the DJ said, "I wonder about us here at this station, playing "Rocky Mountain High" after a Cheech & Chong song."
    After introducing Brian to St. Germain and Vintage Sisters Antique shops, we decided we were hungry. It was between 4 and 4:30 and we beat the rush to "Mountain Town Station" . It is a restored/renovated Train Station, with beef sandwiches that make your taste buds rejoice. (they offer other selections too). And their prices are amazing considering the quality of their food and the service you get. Sure hope they stay that way, because he definitely wants to go back. [And take the camera this time.]
   We had also stopped at "The Painted Turtle", a ceramics shop. Due to something we had seen at one of the antique shops, we came up with a gift idea for our daughter-in-loves and GRAND daughters. Thought maybe we could do our own version....  that's all I can say about that at this point in time.
    We then tried to find an additional antiques shop in Mt. Pleasant.... but it was no where to be found. Turned out, they had moved to a new location in the spring, and just last week the city had taken down their old location, due to the bad condition it was in. No wonder I couldn't find it.
    According to an antiques shop directory we had picked up, there were shops in Midland. En-route from Mt. Pleasant to Midland (along M20 I believe....), we passed the relocated antiques shop, "The Antiques Center". Much larger location! Cleaner, brighter, still friendly owner.

(pictures is from spontaneous dancing at Byron's and Paige's wedding this spring) 

     We ended up spending the night in Midland. Spontaneous overnights with out overnight bags are great with out children, GRAND children or friends along (wink, wink). Using my new phone, I had found a hotel via Google. Byron stated that he was "so proud of his mom's accomplishments with technology". We stayed at "The Baymont Inn". It was so-o cool! They had a Double-Decker bus parked out front (along with a red phone box and British styled post box), and display cases in a hallway of a large collection of miniature Double-Decker bus's which the previous owner was loaning to the current owners. There were also framed articles about Santa Clause School. And the previous owners wife's collection of birdhouses and chickens. Gave the place a real 'homey' feel instead of the usual 'sterile environment' of a hotel. Brian would have used the hot tub if we'd brought anything besides the clothes on our back with us.
    Turned out that none of the antique shops which had been listed in the directory, were still in business. But we did find one that had just opened the day before. "Now and Then Treasures". Had wonderful conversations with the male owner! We had also spotted this building in Midland, was it the old court house? Not sure... . But WOW!!! Amazing architecture!!! Had been built by both the Indians and the settlers. I so want to go back when it's open and walk around the inside, besides taking pictures of the outside of it. And loved how the main roads of the city/town were lined with flowers courtesy of Dow Gardens. Not potted plants, but beautiful foot thick blooming flowers between the edge of the road and the sidewalks. Might visit the gardens themselves next visit.
    En-route home, we came across a "Ponderosa Restaurant". Due to m-a-n-y fond memories of taking our sons their when they were young, the good food, their buffet, etc., we decided to get dinner there. Sigh. No wonder there is no longer any locations in our area. While our server was wonderful, the food was so-o disappointing. We'd ordered one Rib-eye steak dinner and one buffet. Both exceeded disappointing. We'll just focus on 'what once was' and drive past any locations we see in the future.  

     Brian, THANK-YOU so much for your spontaneity, your love, the fact that we're still friends, how cherished your words made me feel, EVERYTHING!!!  I LOVE you!!!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

phone conversations with GRAND children

   Two of our currently out of state GRAND children started school Wed.. We'd called them that night. Just thinking about our conversations make me both smile and chuckle. 
   When we called the first time, Elliot wasn't home, but we had conversations with Analyse. When I asked what she wore, she described every item. Brian had chuckled and commented to me, that it was proof she was my GRAND daughter.  Her Auntie Jamie snapped a shot of her and sent it to us. I then commented to Analyse that it was too short to be a dress. It was a long top with long stretch shorts underneath. "But grammie, when I spin it goes way out like the dresses you get me do, so it's a dress!"  I chuckled and asked a different question.
   When I asked if "Grant" was still at her school, she'd bust out with an excited laugh and loudly declared, "Yes, he's even in my classroom!!!"  "So-o, do you still like him?" "GRAMMIE, how did you know?!!!?"  While laughing I said, "Oh, you only talked about him all summer and even wrote him a note"  "That's because he's my boyfriend!" Papa inserted, "Your to young to have boyfriends!!!" (she's 7).  "Oh papa, no I'm not".   Their debate went back and forth for a few minutes then Analyse called out, "Grammie, is he teasing me?!?"  I chuckled and answered, "only sort of" "What does that mean?" and in the same breath continued on with, "And I know he still likes me because when he saw me, he gave me the funny little smile he always use to give me".  "Best warn the uncles" papa muttered.
    Later in the evening we called and talked with Elliot. He proudly informed us that he's 5 now and in kindergarten, as though we had no prior knowledge of it. ;-b He made a new friend named 'Mickayla'. "That's a little different than Mikaedam (his cousin)" "NO, Mickayla, like auntie Kayla, but it's not Auntie Kayla, cuz that would be weird to have my aunt be in kindergarten with me" He didn't 'get' why that was funny to us. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

'Cozy Country Cottage' Guest Bedroom -

       When our friends bought their cottage a few years ago, they had decorated it with items picked up here and there, stuff out of her dad's storage unit, etc.. Time passed, and after getting a feel for their cottage, what they do there, looking through magazines, visiting cottage shows, etc., Julie had decided what theme she's like to go with and how she'd like to do her cottage. One time, while we were sitting out on it's deck, she shared that she'd decided to let me handle the re-do of the guest bedroom.
      I was both honored and THRILLED!  I LOVE decorating!!!  She gave me 'X' amount of dollars towards the project and I started spouting off ideas. She asked if I wanted to paint the room. I shrugged and said I didn't know.  We decided that I was to take my time with the project, thus being able to scout for "finds".  What fun I had doing just exactly that!
    Time passed. One day, as we were again sitting on her deck, this time discussing some of the treasures I'd found, she again asked if I was going to paint the room.  "That's the second time you've asked me that, I take it you want me to paint the room?"  "I've hated what they did with that room since the first time we walked through this cottage!!!"
    You know how when you have an overall idea for something, there is always a big gamble involved with how close to your concept the finished thing will actually turn out?  It's that way with cooking, baking, customizing cars, sewing, crocheting, and decorating, among-st many other things. I am so-o-o happy to report that the bedroom turned out exactly as I had envisioned!!!  I wanted to create a 'cozy cottage themed bedroom', incorporate some of the colors she'd chosen for her decorating, as well as some of the wood tones from the cottage itself, and some relaxing and encouraging touches.

     I so-o wanted a particular type of bed frame. I looked and I looked and I looked.... had started debating if I should change my goal, when it showed up while we were out shopping together. I was ecstatic!! Another shopper was quite befuddled why I would want that bed frame.  I explained the theme I was going for. With quite the expression on her face, she questioned if I was going to strip and redo it then.  "Nope, I'll just get a dark brown colored paint and paint very thin lines between each of the balls, which will change the whole appearance and make the whole frame really "pop". She wasn't convinced, but another shopper whom had been listening in, exclaimed that was a brilliant idea.
      Before -

   After - (I had brought along several small sized (even kid type) paint brushes... ended up wiping each one off and using a tooth pick... yes, a tooth pick.
                   

    I wanted several wood shelves... but had troubles finding enough that weren't painted over or that fit the size and styles I wanted.... so I ended up picking up a couple which had been painted over and painting over them again.
     Before -


     After - (besides just paining the shelf, I also painted thin lines to make the trim part "pop".)
         (reminder, you can click on picture to see them larger / clearer)

  
     Julie had wanted the room repainted for two reasons. One, was how poorly of a job they had done applying the white paint, the other was how bad the corners of the room looked.
     Before -

    After - (It had taken Brian quite a bit of time and effort, applying filler/spackle.. wait for it to dry, add another layer.... but once the two coats of paint were applied and dried, it showed how worth it his efforts had been!!! )

  This is what catches your eye when you first open the door -

    Close up of the frame - (At first I had printed off what we had come up with... didn't like the effect hanging in the room, so re-did it using colored pencils)
              [Reminder - you can click on pictures to see them clearer/closer up]

    Close up of the little shelf - (the gate is bolted to the frame seeings how it sits above where they sit up the port-a-crib ;->)

This is what you see when you look down upon entering the room -
        The wicker hamper holds sheets and blankets for the port-a-crib and works as a night stand. The rug feels good on your feet in the morning.


       Placed four (4) pillows on the bed, 'soft', 'medium', 'firm' and 'extra firm'.  It's a guest room, thus it's used by lots of different people.  Marked the pillows so it's easy to figure out which one you might prefer (also cut off all of those huge annoying tags they come with)  -
       

    I was again ecstatic when I stumbled across the quilt. It had the blue and white with touches of red of Julie's main theme, it totally fit the "cozy cottage" style I was going for, and the price was perfect!!
    Julie had thought I should make one of my wreaths for the room, I was again honored. It hangs above the bed -
   
      (PLEASE click on the above picture to see it clearer/better)

     A larger sized wicker hamper is the night stand on the other side of the bed. Brian made the lamp for me out of a large Ball canning jar. Picked up the shade at Menard's. Plan to fill the jar with acorns out of the yard this fall.  The jar didn't like to sit balanced on the hamper, so found the solution in this wooden board from a mission store. It had a wire attachment on it that Brian said had been used for .. unscrewed the screws, the ring came right off, turned it over, and wa-la, love the look!  The book under the tissues is a four version Bible. There is also a blue rug on the floor on that side of the bed. 

    While this picture is included above, here is what is above the bed in that corner of the room -
 The candle on the side wall is a battery operated one.
     The wicker look container on the bottom shelf holds hand lotion.
     The second shelf up holds favorite books from my youth. Books that would now be easy to read through on a rainy weekend. From right to left - 'Farmer Boy', 'The Boxcar Children', 'Little Men', 'Little Women', 'Anne of Green Gables', 'Heidi', 'Pippi Longstocking', 'The Trumpet Swan' and a Hymn Book (because old hymns can ease a down spirit wonderfully!)  Found all but the Hymn Book via Abe books on line.
    The wicker look trunk on the top shelf is currently full of whatever your imagination deems to be in there... ;-]
 

    The wall on the bathroom side of the room had not gone all of the way to the ceiling. It does now.
 
      Brian also replaced the outlets and the outlet covers in the room.

    The other outside wall of the room -
         If you pull the curtains tight to both ends, your get the black out effect. Seeings how it's a east facing room, that's a bonus when you have young ones in the port-a-crib!  (the little white nob hanging down in the picture is connected to the ceiling fan/light)
    
   Close up of the two (2) quotes (also made using colored pencils) -


     Julie had picked up the frames the quotes are in... we had both really liked the frames... here is what they looked like before -

    The mirror is actually a gold colored plastic framed mirror, sanded down and painted with some of Kayla's 'shiny bronze' finger nail polish. Then inserted into a picture frame after the picture had been removed and the frame had been painted and fine lined.

    Julie, THANK-YOU for allowing me the privilege of re-doing your guest room for you!  I had so-o much fun doing the 'hunt' for the re-do and 'planning' everything.  :-D !
   Brian, thank-you so-o-o much for all of your labor in helping me actually re-do the room! ;-} !
    

Monday, August 1, 2016

Elliot and his tools

   Last Christmas, a few of the items Brian and I gave Elliot were tool related. Items such as, his size  leather work gloves, a leather pouch tool belt, an adult sized plastic tool box with tray, a few tools and three (3) child size hard hats (so he could share). 

           Here is his adorableness with the hard hats

            (reminder, click on the pictures to see them larger and clearer)

      His favorite, was the battery powered screw driver. He got so excited helping any and everybody open their gifts using it.


      We celebrated the July B-days in our 'little' family during our mini vacation this past weekend. Yet again, God had gone before us, so that when Brian and I went to Toys 'R Us last week to pick out a gift for the now five (5) year old Mr. Elliot,  we found they had their 74 piece tool set on sale for half price.  :-D.  (Thank-you Lord!!)
      At one point after dinner, when all of the kids had been dismissed to play, I pointed out to Brian that all of the other kids were playing with Elliot's tools (the hard hats and tool box had been brought along), but it seemed that they weren't letting Elliot play with them. Brian got the biggest, proudest smirk on his face, while he leaned close to share that he had thought so too, so had started watching closer. In actuality, all of the kids had hit Elliot up to play with his tools, Elliot had then assigned each of them different tools/equipment along with a task. This child had been assigned to fix this part of the fooseball table using this tool and wearing a hard hat, that one the wood part of that couch using the hammer, etc.. Elliot himself was their supervisor, watching and then wandering over to instruct anyone whom wasn't doing their task the way they should be. Together, we watched for a couple minutes and were sharing a quiet chuckle over it, when Analyse walked up to Mr. Elliot and in her ever so dramatic way, totally confirmed the whole thing. "Boss, may I p-l-e-a-s-e take a break?!?!!!  I'm so-o-o tried. I've been working so-o-o hard. Isn't it break time y-e-t?" 
    We couldn't help it, our chuckles exploded into laughter. Our adult children then wanted clued in. Brian explained. Our GRAND children then further confirmed the whole thing, by loudly interrupting one another to share what task they had been assigned and how good of a job they were doing on it. :-]  
    Later, Elliot came over wanting Benson and I to do such and such with these cards he was holding. I got the part about his name on them, told him that later I would fill the info out, but for now, used my pencil and wrote a 'E'  on the back indicating they were his. His puzzled face told me I hadn't gotten all of it right. He tried explaining again. Finally I understood, we were suppose to take his picture and attach it to his little ID cards. Had to explain we couldn't do that directly from the camera, but that we could later via our computer and printer at home. Benson then took this picture to use....
     
   I wonder if I'm suppose to write Elliot B___ or Mr. Elliot, Boss Man.  ;-b

  [ Linked to http://brazierchildren.blogspot.com/ ]

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Two (2) multiple thumbs up Salads

   My brother BL and his wife host a yearly summer party at their house, for both sides of their family.  Laughter, good food, swimming, boating and a campfire are the main activities of the event. This year, instead of making something from my recipe box, I decided to try things from one of my Pinterest boards.  To be honest, I had tried the pea salad one on Father's Day, and my husband raved over it, so I made that one again and another new one I thought he would like. He did!  In-fact, I got lots of thumbs up on both recipes and promised to post them. Here they are then ;-]

     (Reminder, you can click on the pictures to see them in larger (clearer) version) 
    It was hot 'round here on Saturday!!! Hot and muggy and what some consider as 'summer at it's finest' and others consider as 'summer at it's worst'. It was the kind of heat that I knew would do damage to these salads in no time flat! But how to help them on a buffet? The above picture shows the remedy I came up with.

    Now for the recipes... I haven't yet figured out how to post them, so that you can print off just the recipe.. Byron was going to help by walking me through the process... but 'life' hasn't cooperated for two days now... seeings how I have promised a couple of people that I would post them, here goes the only way I currently know.... Sorry!



~ Creamy Pea Salad 
   Adapted from the version posted by Jamie on 'Love Bakes Good Cakes'
     (http://www.lovebakesgoodcakes.com/2012/08/creamy-pea-salad.html )
  ~ 2 pkg.'s (16 oz. each) frozen peas, thawed and drained
  ~ 2 to 3 cups Colby Cheddar Cheese, diced med. size
  ~ 2 to 3 cups diced Mozzarella cheese
  ~ Half of 1 fist size Red Onion
  ~ 1 cup each of both Miracle Whip AND Mayonnaise
  ~ Salt and Pepper, to taste
  ~ 8 oz. Real Bacon Crumbles

    Dump the drained peas and both cheeses into a large bowl.
    Slice the red onion quite thinly, then dice up the slices.  Add to bowl.
    Use your hands to mix everything thourally.
    In another bowl, blend together the Miracle Whip, Mayonnaise, Salt and Pepper. Scrape this mixture out onto the contents of the big bowl. Use a large wooden spoon to thourally blend everything together. Take a sample bite. If necessary, add more Miracle Whip and/or Mayonnaise.
    Chill for an hour or two.


~ Bacon Tomato Cucumber Salad
    Adapted from the version posted by Jessica on 'Simply Healthy Home'
     ( http://simplyhealthyhome.com/bacon-tomato-cucumber-salad/ )
  ~ 3 extra large seedless Cucumbers
  ~ 16 oz. container of grape size Tomatoes
  ~ 8 oz. Real Bacon Crumbles
  ~ 1/2 to 3/4ths cups each of both Miracle Whip AND Mayonnaise
  ~ 1 1/2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
  ~ 1 1/2 teaspoons Sea Salt
  ~ 3/4 teaspoon black Pepper

   Slice your Cucumbers in half lengthwise. Slice each half into 3 sections lengthwise. Now chop them into rather small chunks. Dump them into a large bowl as you go.
   Cut each Tomato in half lengthwise, then in half width wise. Dump on top of the cucumbers as you go.
   Add the Real Bacon Crumbles to the bowl.
   Use your hands to mix everything thourally.
    In another bowl, blend together the Miracle Whip, Mayonnaise, Garlic Powder, Sea Salt and Black pepper. Scrape this mixture out onto the contents of the big bowl. Use a large wooden spoon to thourally blend everything together. Take a sample bite. If necessary, add more Miracle Whip and/or Mayonnaise.
  Chill for an hour or two.
  [due to the natural wateriness of cucumbers, this salad does not have a long shelf life]

I hope you, your family and friends enjoy them as much as mine have!
 


Thursday, July 14, 2016

a smile producing memory

     Facebook asked me if I wanted to share a memory, something I had posted on July 14, 2015.  I do, just not on there.  I'll share it on here.
    "I had gone up to bed very early last evening. While coming back down an hour and a half later, just turned 4 year old Mr. Elliot questioned why I was up. "Oh, cause my body told me I need to use the bathroom" (read while hearing a totally in awe young voice) "Really grandma? Your body talks to you?!?" While trying to camouflage my chuckle I replied, "yes, some times it does" (add more awe and wonderment to the young voice) "Cool! Can I listen to it with you sometime grandma?" Oh the delight young ones add to our lives!"