"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."
Mother Teresa

Thursday, April 30, 2015

To Move or Not To Move

Hi Friends,
We live in the home we built shortly after we married 41 years ago. We brought our babies home to this house and it's the only house they lived in before they married and moved out. We have made lots of great memories here.

We planted little pine trees for both of our children.  I think it might have been Earth Day or something similar at school.  They each brought home a little paper cup holding a little twig that I never expected to live, but we planted them.   They have grown to be huge trees.  The pine closest to the house on the right side of this picture is our son's tree.

We have put alot of ourselves into this house and love it here.  At the same time, I feel an urge to move on. We are at a different time in our lives now.  I would like to be free of so much upkeep.  I want to feel comfortable and safe in a home where we can age in place. This house has stairs.  We have to go up a 1/2 flight of stairs to get to our bedroom and main bath.  We have to go down stairs another 1/2 flight to do laundry.  There is a huge lawn to mow and also snow removal in the winter.  I would like to move now, while we are physically able to pack and move.  It will only get harder as we age.

And money is tight for us right now.  I worked hard to get all our credit card debt paid off before I retired and we have managed to get ourselves back in the same situation.  Ugh!  We are now working to pay that off again.  If we sell our house we could use that money to pay off all our debt and save the rest for the emergency fund we should have.  I know I would feel less stressed by that.

This is where I want to live.  It is a nice senior independent living apartment.  We would be free of all the maintence and the yard work.   I would be happy with a couple pots of flowers on the patio.  You can't see it in the picture, but there is a marina and a beautiful park next to it.   It is within walking distance to my favorite book store/ cafĂ© where my knitting group meets, and the farmers market in the summer.  It is close to both of my children.  Really, its close to everything in a small community!

But...Hubby says he wants to die in our home!  He does not even want to consider moving to a smaller one level house.  I think he is in denial that we are aging.  He did a lot of the finish work on this house when we built it and he is quite attached to it.

So....what to do?  I guess we stay awhile longer.  He has agreed that we will reevaluate every 2 years.  In the meantime, I am going to work on decluttering this place.  That way it won't be quite as overwhelming when we finally move.

Are you downsizing your home after retirement, or are you staying put?  If you have moved how do you feel about your decision?

 Til next time,

Sunday, April 26, 2015


It's a lazy Sunday here.
Barbecue ribs are in the crockpot.  They will be yummy with the potato salad and coleslaw leftover from yesterday.  These are so easy, just throw boneless country style pork ribs into the crockpot with a bottle of barbecue sauce and cook all day.  They are smelling soooo good!

And Salem is in his happy place.  He spends every morning there when it is sunny.

He's keeping an eye on the birds and chipmunks at the bird feeder.

I had a sudden impulse to crochet some placemats for my kitchen last week.  I found the perfect colors but I'm not sure I like how they are pooling.

This is a closeup.  I'm just doing single crochet, no pattern fot this.

I guess I will keep going for awhile and see how I feel about it when it's done.  I can always re-do it.

And the highlight of my week was our little soccer star....

Granddaughter #2 is the one with the blue head band.  The little girl with pink shoes is her cousin.  They are having a blast!  A soccer game with 4 and 5 year olds is very entertaining!

Hope your weekend was wonderful.
'Til next time

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Blocking Day

Hello friends,
Today it snowed in West Michigan.  I was at the pharmacy picking up some prescriptions this afternoon.  There is a pick-up window directly behind the counter.  Suddenly the woman in front of me gasped and we all looked outside.  SNOW!  What!  It has been wet, snowy, and cold for the last couple days. Ugh!  I have noticed in my travels around town that there are some daffodils and forsythia blooming.....just not at my house.   Not a single flower here.  I don't have much of a green thumb.   I will get some hanging baskets and fill some planters in a few weeks and then it will look better around here.

Sorry, I have no Spring flower pictures for you like the other blogs do.  Let's look at some knitting pictures instead.  I decided it was past time to block some of my finished projects.  I don't like weaving in ends, and I don't like blocking.  After a while I just force myself to have a "finishing day".

The blue scarf is Saroyan by Liz Abinante.
The other two are the Gallatin Scarf by Kris Basta.
You can find both patterns FREE on Ravelry

This is a close up of Saroyan.  I wanted to try to get a picture of the leaves around the edge..  I really need to find a better way to take pictures.  I used Hubby's phone and I think I need to use a better camera.   The colors in the first picture are more accurate.

This is a bit closer look at Gallitan.

Everything I have blocked in the past has just been gently washed and laid out and patted into shape.  I don't have blocking wires or T-pins.  These scarves could have used some pinning I think. They aren't like a real fine lace with lots of points though, so I think they will look ok.

This is the All-In-One Baby Top by Mariana Mel.  It is knit top down, and is very easy.
It is FREE and you can find it on Ravelry.
I haven't sewn buttons on yet.  Which is better?  Green? Or Aqua?  Or both?
Here is a picture of the rainbow that appeared in my little community this morning.  (credit: Dion Strumpo)

It looks like this is where the rainbow ends....who knew?

I am heading out for dinner with two of my best friends ( former co-workers).  I have been starving all day so I can eat at a wonderful Italian place.  Yum!  Pasta is my favorite!

Til next time

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Treasures and Memories

There's nothing happening here.  Its a very quiet Sunday for us and I plan to spend much of it knitting.

I decided to show you a couple things in my house that I treasure.  Nothing is very valuable (that I know of).  So if you see something that is a genuine something-or-other and worth $$$$, speak up will you please?!

This little girl is a planter.   She sat on the windowsill in my mom's kitchen for as long as I can remember.   There was always a little plant growing in it.  It might have been some type of herb, but I'm not sure.  I keep her on my kitchen counter top next to the sink and she holds a dish scrubbie.  Every time I look at her I feel happy.  It takes me back to childhood and sitting in my mom's kitchen.  It was a warm, welcoming place....and always something yummy cooking.
I have no idea where my mom got it or how old it is.  There are no markings on it anywhere.  

Here is another treasure I found in the back of a cupboard after my mom passed.

I'm sorry it is upside down!!!  I cannot figure out how to rotate it, at least not from my tablet.  I could go to my desk computer and try, but let's just imagine it right side up for now, ok?

My mom made this.  I think it may be aluminum.  It isn't heavy.  It is a small tray about 12 inches in diameter.  The edges of it have been crimped up, a little like a pie.  It is a rose, upside down (sigh) and I believe it was etched on with some type of chemical.  They placed a stencil on the tray to cover the parts they wanted to stay shiny.  The dull, etched part feels slightly rough.  I could be wrong about the chemical.  I suppose it could have been done with some type of abrasive.  

I keep this on my counter top in the kitchen and it holds mail and bills and odds and ends.
I think of my mom everyday and miss her, but having some of these things brings back good memories and keeps her close.  She taught me to be kind and to forgive...she was a great role model.

I wish she had taught me to cook!!!  She was a fabulous cook and there was always something good in her kitchen.

I'm going to leave you with one of her recipes......


2 cups brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/4 lb. Butter
Mix together til crumbly.  Reserve 1 cup

1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Dash of salt
Add above to sugar mixture.  Put in 9x13 pan.

Sprinkle with reserved topping mixture.  Crush 6 Heath candy bars, add 1/2 cup chopped nuts and sprinkle on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes.  

I may have to try making this.  No wonder it's good.....cups of sugar and 1/4 Lb. of butter (is that 1 stick? sounds like alot).
She made this often and it was very yummy.  I think you could use toffee bits instead of the Heath bars. 
Let me know how it turns out if you make it.

Til next time

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Could It Mean?

I have weird dreams sometimes.  I seem to have fewer dreams that I can recall as I get older, but last night I had I dream that I just can't figure out.  Usually, I can attribute a dream to something I saw on TV, or something I am worried or anxious about.  I have also had a few psychic dreams...I guess that's a close term for them.

When I was living in a dorm in nursing school I had a roommate.  One night I woke in the middle of the night feeling panicky.  I had dreamed that my father died and it just seemed very real.  I tried to calm down and resisted the urge to call home right then.  Finally, I drifted back to sleep.  Not long after that,  we were awakened by the house mother (yes! no boys in this dorm) pounding on the door yelling for my roommate.  We got up and opened the door and my roommate's sister was there to take her home because their father had died very suddenly during the night.

A few years later, I had a very unsettling dream in which a close neighbor died.  Again, it seemed very real and I felt uneasy the rest of the night.  The next day I learned that a neighbor did indeed die during the night.....it was just a different neighbor!  Ok, maybe I'm not very good at this psychic thing.

The night my father died ( for real) I was getting ready for bed.  Standing in the mirror brushing my teeth, I got a very peculiar feeling that someone was standing right behind me.  I actually felt like the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up.  I was afraid to look up into the mirror thinking I would see someone there.  There was no one there, of course.  Within an hour I got a call that my dad had passed in his sleep.   Psychic? Was that my dad saying goodbye?  I'm really not a believer in this type thing but it makes me wonder.

So....this is my dream last night.
I was at the beach and was talking to an acquaintance I ran into there.  We walked across the road from the lake and channel side to the Lake Michigan side. We stood with our toes in the water watching the waves and talking.  Then it started to snow....big, fluffy flakes.  We turned to go back and there was a huge drift of snow, like a wall too high to see over, blocking our way back.  I started to dig out snow to try to tunnel through.  The other gal just charged into the snow trying to plow through and got stuck.  That is when I woke up thinking she wouldn't be able to breathe in the snow.  Weird, huh?  I'm not sure what it means.  I think you could interpret it in a few different ways.  I just hope it doesn't foretell something bad for this person.
What do you think?  I'm still feeling uneasy.

'Til next time

Monday, April 13, 2015

Menu Planning and Shopping

I had to shop for groceries today.  There was really nothing to eat here.  Ok, that's not quite true.  We still had bread and peanut butter so I guess we could have survived another day or two.  I have been trying to stay under $100 a week.  That includes paper products, toiletries, OTC medicines...not just food.
I have been planning a weekly menu for years.  I think it helps me spend less and I just like to make lists and feel organized.  The thing I am having a hard time with is how to pare down our dinner meals a little.  I grew up with meat, a starch, and vegetable dinners and I tend to get stuck in that. It doesn't seem complete if we only have one or two things to eat.  I would also like to move to more meatless meals.  Do you have dinners that are one dish only?  For example, mac and cheese....and that's it?  Do you think I am over doing it?

This is our menu for the week....

Monday:  cheeseburger soup, garlic bread, salad
Tuesday:  baked tilapia, asparagus, rice, salad
Wednesday: shrimp stir fry, rice, salad
Thursday: out to eat
Friday: polish sausage, scalloped potatoes, peas
Saturday: spaghetti, sauce with ground beef, garlic bread, salad
Sunday: grilled chicken, potato salad, broccali

See how I have at least 3 things for each meal.  Maybe I could lose weight if I cut out something.

I ended up spending $137.28.  That freaked me out at first, way over budget!  Then I remembered that I didn't shop at all last week. So that's not so bad.  There were a lot of 10 for $10 deals....get the 11th item free.  I try to stock up on things that we use often when they offer this.  For example: I got salad dressing for $1 instead of $1.59.  I got a small box of grape tomatoes for $1 and they are usually $3.69.  According to my receipt I saved $42.71 on specials, $3.75 digital coupons, and $10.75 in rewards for a grand total of $57.21 in savings.  I think that's pretty good.

Here's the recipe for Cheeseburger Soup

1 1/2 lb. Ground beef, browned and drained
2 C. Sliced carrots
4 C. Peeled potatoes, cut into chunks
4 C. Chicken broth
1 can Evaporated milk
1 block Cream cheese, cut into pieces
1 C. Chopped onion
2 C. Grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp. Seasoned salt
2 tsp. Dried basil
Bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)

In crockpot, combine broth, vegetables, onions, and seasonings.
Add the ground beef and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
Turn to high 1 hour before serving.  Add cheeses.  Stir occasionally.
Serve when cheeses are completely melted.
Garnish with crumbled bacon, and some grated cheese if desired.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Happy, Happy, Happy!

The sun is shining, it is 60+ degrees (F) outside, and my favorite tree and I are happy, happy, happy!

Hope it is sunny wherever you are.

 Happy Spring!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Reading and mashed potatoes

I love to read.  I have always been a reader.  I remember riding my bike to the library as a child and coming home with a pile of books.  Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, biographies of famous people.  I think I read just about every book in the juvenile fiction section.
I raised 2 children who like to read.  Now I am working on another generation.

This is Hayley and Marley reading together.  Marley is in kindergarten this year and reading at 1st grade level right now.  It seems the "light bulb" went off and she is trying to read everything.

I take Hayley to the library toddler storytime every Tuesday morning. She loves to play with the toys in the children's corner and we always bring home a stack of books.  It can be a challenge to get her to leave though.  The very first time we went I finally had to pick her up and carry her out of the library.....with her yelling "help me!" all the way out!  I was mortified but they have allowed us to come back, thankfully.

In my last post I mentioned making crockpot mashed potatoes for Easter. I didn't include the recipe so here it is.


5 lb. Russet or Yukon Gold potatoes 
1 stick of butter, divided in half
3 cups water
Salt and pepper to taste
1 8oz. block of cream cheese, softened
Milk, amount needed for desired consistency

Peel potatoes and cut into 1 inch chunks, then rinse with cold water
Lightly grease inside of crockpot with cooking spray
Place potatoes in crockpot and pour in water
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Slice half of the butter into small slices and dot on top of potatoes
Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours, until fork tender
Drain off all the water
Add cream cheese and rest of butter and mash with potato masher.
Add small amounts of milk until you get desired consistency.
You can keep potatoes warm in crockpot until ready to serve.

This made enough potatoes to feed 14 with some leftover.
You could also add garlic or sour cream....whatever your favorite mashed potato recipe.

It is a rainy day here....a perfect day to curl up with a good book.  I recently finished the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and I feel like I need to find another big saga type series to read.  Any suggestions?

'Til next time,

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Recap

I hope you all had a nice weekend.  We celebrated Easter with my husband's family.
My MIL was sick and didn't make it and middle granddaughter, Marley is fighting strep throat.  She had been on antibiotics long enough to not be contagious but she wasn't at her best.  I started coughing on Saturday and felt not so great on Sunday either.
I did manage to put together a nice ham dinner for 14 though.
I debated whether to serve potato salad or mashed potatoes.  The last 2 holidays with mashed potatoes have led to boil overs while cooking the potatoes. Ugh.  What a mess.  Since the granddaughters don't like potato salad, mashed potatoes won.  I had seen some Pinterest pins of crock pot mashed potatoes and decided to give them a try.  Believe me, they are life changing!  Well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but close.  I had them mashed and ready at least an hour ahead of time staying warm in the crockpot.  They were perfect!  It seemed much easier to get the rest of the meal ready with the potatoes out of the way.
The weather cooperated and the rain and snow went north of us.  We had a nice sunny day in the 50's (F).  We had an Easter egg hunt for the girls.  Hubby neglected to count the eggs before he put them out so we may find an Easter surprise in a few months.

This is my favorite picture from the weekend:

Hayley (2 1/2) and Bapa having a stroller race
He is such a good grandpa to the girls.  He will do just about anything for them...pushing strollers, tea parties, even letting them polish his nails.  I enjoy watching him because he wasn't like that with our kids.

Great niece Taryn (5), Amber (10), Marley (5), and Hayley (2 1/2)
Marley looks a little sick and Amber was in a funk all day.  At 10 1/2 she is getting quite moody.  I am not looking forward to those teen years.  Right now she is in that awkward age....acting like a kid one minute and all grown up the next.
They have fun together and it is amazing how much noise 4 little girls can make.

At the end of the day, when everyone left.....ahhh, peace and quiet.

'Til next time,

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter from my little corner of the world.....

Great niece Taryn, and granddaughters Amber, Marley, & Hayley

'Til next time...