Running around the block

October 6, 2010

Have you noticed I have really slowed down on writing blog posts recently?  I have, and the reason is because I’m busy running around several blocks.  Not city blocks, but writer’s block and technology block!

I started to go into detail but it was depressing to type (and also sounded realllly whiney!) so just suffice it ti say that I have lots of questions/problems changing over to my first-ever laptop, which is also my first-ever Mac.  I’ll be calling the Geek Squad today and hope they can fix the relationship I’m trying to build with this new (and sometimes aggravating) piece of equipment.

The saying that comes to mind right now is, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

In the meantime, I’ll just keep running around these “blocks” until I find a new place to settle in, where I will again be comfortable and able to think of things to write about — besides this blasted computer!

Where did YOU come from?

September 24, 2010

Both of my children have recently mentioned to me (separately, without talking to each other about it!) that they wish I would do some research of their roots for the sake of my grandchildren.  And DD went one step further and suggested I document my attempts here and also share any interesting stories I find along the way.

DD thinks that if I, who have never done anything formal in regard to genealogy before, document my learning process and, hopefully, some successes, it might pique other’s interest in that process and maybe encourage them (you!) to do some searching of your own family tree.

My immediate reaction was not enthusiastic, but I’m gradually warming to the idea.

I’ve since recalled some interesting stories I heard from my father’s cousin and her husband, Irene and Damon, because they spent many of their retirement years traveling the country researching family history.  One time they were invited to attend the reunion of a very distant branch of our family out west somewhere.  What a surprise it was when they walked in and immediately met one of those very distant relatives who Irene said looked like an identical twin to her first cousin, my father’s sister, Aunt Mary Jane.  I also remember them talking about tracking down the grave of one long-lost ancestor who was buried in an Indian cemetery in, I believe, North Dakota.  Her marker just said, “white woman”.

So, if I’m going to try this, I need somewhere to start, and information that Irene and Damon collected in their travels seems like a logical beginning.  So, yesterday I fired off a note to Damon who lives in California near his daughter now, asking him for anything he can share.  I’m kind of excited to see what he has to share with me.

I’ll keep you posted if anything interesting develops.

Hat-making on a wing and a prayer!

June 18, 2010

Coco, Lulu and Mimi are visiting this week and I wanted to take them to my favorite tea room.  So, I thought it might add to the fun of it if I made them hats to wear for the occasion.

First, we went out and found a sun dress that they each liked to wear to the tea room.  Then we would try to make the hats coordinate with their dresses.

I made the hats out of wrapping paper.  They chose which two papers to use, and which ribbon and flowers to add to their hat.

Mimi was my guinea pig.  I cut a piece from each of the two papers to makes the hat.  (I learned after hers to also trim them into a round shape first thing.  With hers, I had to deal with alot of extra paper that I trimmed off as I went.)

Because Mimi’s was the first I had made in a long time, it was very much trial and error.

I needed Hubby to help me by holding the paper down over the crown of their head while I used the masking tape to make the “bowl” of the hat.   (By the third one I decided to try scotch tape because it was a challenge to cover the masking tape with ribbon so that it didn’t show.  I would definitely use scotch tape next time.  It was sturdy enough to do the job.)

My solution to all the extra paper I was dealing with on this one is that I rolled the edge and hot glued it down.  My answer to not getting the masking tape totally covered was …

… lots of flowers, a bow and a butter fly.

After dealing with all that paper on the first one, I got smart and used two pencils and a piece of string to make circles of paper to use on the other two.  It made life alot easier.  Here is the beginning of Coco’s.

One thing I learned from Mimi’s was to make the bowl of the hat deeper on the other two so that they would stay on better.

Coco’s completed.

Coco loved the big, black rose (which was actually an old pin I had worn on a suit), so we added the butterfly on it to “lighten it up”.

Ah, the beginning of the last hat, Lulu’s.  This one profited from the “experimenting” I had done on the other two.  Two big pre-cut circles of paper and a deep crown of the hat held with scotch tape!  BTW, I put a glue dot between the two papers in each case, right in the middle, so that they didn’t try to come apart while I was working with them.

It bugged me that I couldn’t make the crown of the hats smooth.  So on Lulu’s I suggested flowers all over the crown.  I really liked the way that turned out!

As a finishing touch, I put a dot of the hot glue every few inches around the edge of Coco and Lulu’s hats to hold the two pieces of paper together.

Tomorrow the girls in their hats and dresses for a visit to the tea room.

Don’t Duck the Question!

April 27, 2010

I love “before” and “afters” — I suppose that’s the reason I enjoy the Home and Garden Network on TV so much!

So, regarding the picture I posted yesterday (btw, this is one of the spring-fed ponds in our addition and it occurs to me that I should assure you that that isn’t oil on the surface.  This was taken in late afternoon  and the design on the water comes from reflections of near-by homes), here is the “before”, straight out of the camera:

and here is the “after” that I posted:

Have I ever mentioned?  I love color!  So when I adjusted the saturation of the colors in the original, I was delighted with all the vivid color that showed up in the “after” that reminded me of an abstract painting.

But later I looked back at the original and second guessed myself (another hobby of mine) that maybe it was the best version after all, because the duck is the most colorful thing in the photo.

And, if I crop the original . . .

. . . it puts more emphasis on the duck .

I have many other variations of this picture that I won’t bore you with.  But let me just say that when I get a photo that interests me like this one does, it pays for itself in entertainment value, in the fun time I have playing with it!

Now … the question.  Did I post the right version of the picture?  Or, to be perfectly honest, should I have posted it straight out of the camera?  Because I’m fairly new at this, I’m never sure of the ethics of photography.  In order to be completely truthful, should I always post pictures “as is”?  I really don’t know.

I’m not sure I can ever be cured of my addiction to color, but I will certainly take to heart any opinions you have!

Okay, I do have to share one other variation that I really like …

Oh, and I forgot this one — I really like it too …

Stop!  Get a grip, Sandra.  Just step away from the duck picture and go do something else!

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Boys and their toys

February 3, 2010


  Hubby and his younger brothers Denny and Keith playing “cowboys”.

    Hubby has always said that they were probably poor, but when you lived on a farm you didn’t know you were poor because you always had plenty to eat.  But, apparently there wasn’t much money for toys, like toy guns.  Because he said the only guns he remembers him and his brothers having were ones that his dad carved for them out of wood — or, they would use anything that even remotely resembled a gun.  Here he is holding a toy hatchet — he says they each had one and those were one of their favorite gun substitutes.

This brings me to a story that Hubby has “confessed” to from his childhood:

The way the story goes is that Jerry, the older boy who lived across the road got a new toy.  And, as is human nature, he wondered who he could show his new toy to who would be impressed.  Ah, there were two of the little kids across the road out playing their favorite game of cowboys and indians.  He would go over and show it to them!  He knew they would like it … because it was a cap gun!

Boy, did he guess right!  Hubby and Denny both ooohed and ahhhed over the shiney gun that actually shot caps!  Unfortunately, it hadn’t occurred to Jerry what would happen next … they both wanted to shoot it!  He really didn’t want to share his caps.

But they persisted, so he reluctantly told Denny he could shoot it.   “Yes! Yes! Yes!”  Denny was excited!

Hubby was thinking “Oh, boy!  That’s great! He’s going to let us shoot itI’ll be next!”   But then Jerry told Hubby that he wasn’t going to let him shoot it.  Because Jerry had “rules” about how they could try out his gun, and he was afraid Hubby wouldn’t follow his “rules”.  Well, really there was just one rule … they could only shoot it once.

So, Jerry handed the cap gun to Denny and Denny shot it as instructed … just once.  And then he handed it back to Jerry.

Hubby then asked again if he couldn’t “Pleeeeease” shot the gun too.   Nope.  Jerry was just sure that Hubby would shoot it more than once.

Noooo.  Absolutely not.  Hubby would just shoot it once, just like Denny did.

So, reluctantly, Jerry handed the gun to Hubby.

Ohhh, it looked and felt just like what he pictured a real gun would, with a trigger and cylinder that moved and everything!  And when Denny had shot it, it had made a loud “crack” and you could even smell the gunpowder!  It was wonderful!  And now was Hubby’s turn to experience all that first hand.  He pointed it out across the yard and shot it just once.  “Crack!”  But then something terrible happened …suddenly his resolve to shoot it just once went out the window and all he could think about was how much fun it was  to shoot a real cap gun.  So in an instant, instead of handing it back to Jerry, “crackcrackcrackcrack!!!”  In quick succession, Hubby shot the other four caps left in the gun!

Then Hubby handed the gun back to Jerry and sheepishly told Jerry he was sorry.  But, it was too late for apologies.  Jerry had just known Hubby wouldn’t be able to resist shooting the gun more than once!  He was mad and started crying.  He took his gun and marched back across the road swearing that he was never going to play with Hubby again!

Of course, they did play together again, and Hubby doesn’t remember the subject ever coming up again.  But he also doesn’t remember EVER getting another chance to shoot Jerry’s beautiful, shiney cap gun. 

This story was at the beginning of Hubby’s life-long love of guns.  Being a farm boy, he had lots of opportunities to shoot as he got older.  And (to show you how times have changed) in high school he belonged to the Rifle Club and no one thought anything about it when the boys in that club carried their rifles to school on the bus!

   Are you wondering now what this table in one of our spare bedrooms has to do with Hubby’s love of guns?  Well, I’ll tell you.

   After Hubby’s parents passed away this table is one of the keepsakes we bought from the estate because of Hubby’s fond memories of it being the table that held their big radio that they all sat around and listened to in the evening, in the before-TV days.  He also said that he remembered sitting on the floor in front of the radio listening to shows like The Lone Ranger and looking at the table and thinking what a good pretend gun one of those legs would make!  So we have had the table at least 30 years now and I still think of it as the “gun leg table”.

Hubby has done some hunting, but he mainly enjoys target shooting.  And, he has a talent for it, but he also shoots alot and the saying “practice makes perfect” is true.  So he is a verrrry good shot.  But he is something of a rarity in that he is a collector and a shooter.  Many collectors don’t shoot most, if any, of the guns they collect.  In comparison, I don’t think Hubby has ever owned a gun that he didn’t shoot.  Some of his favorite ones have been very old guns that he has restored (he is very good at the mechanics of guns) and then enjoyed shooting.

I couldn’t even guess how many guns Hubby has owned, but I know it’s in the hundreds.  It isn’t as expensive a hobby as you might think, because he has built up his collection gradually and mostly trades a gun or two that he already has for another one that has caught his eye.

I have occasionally been with Hubby when he walks into a gun store where they know him, and their eyes always light up!  Although most of the time he is trading guns, so while they do make a profit it isn’t like selling a new gun.  But one time the owner of his favorite gun store told me that he was always glad to see me walk in with Hubby because that might mean that we were actually going to buy a gun, not just trade!  No, wonder they’re always so nice to me.  They know I have the checkbook!

So, shooting and gun collecting have been Hubby’s one life-long hobby.  And when I think back to that story about Jerry’s cap gun and then think about the sometimes very expensive guns that Hubby owns now, the saying that comes to mind is, “The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys!”

Preserving History

January 30, 2010


I think Mama did a great job of documenting our family’s history in her book I Remember and in her many photo albums.  And I have come to really enjoy using both of those resources for posts here on my blog.

Of course, I have a copy of Mama’s book, but the albums of her pictures have been stored at my sister Martha’s house since Mama died nine years ago, after living with Martha and her husband for her final years. 

So, when I started using Mama’s pictures on this blog, I began borrowing the albums a few at a time from Martha.  But sometimes I’ll have a story I want to share out of Mama’s book, but I don’t have the album right then which would have pictures from that year.   And Martha lives over two hours away, so it isn’t possible to just “run over” to get whichever album I need.

A few days ago Martha and I were having one of our monthly phone chats (I also sometimes make a day trip down to see her to go out for lunch and spend an afternoon playing Yahtzee!).  Anyway, I was telling her that several of the albums that are “visiting”  me right now are getting in pretty bad shape and I think I need to replace the pages. 

In fact, last week I took this album which is one of the worst to Archiver’s to see what kind of replacement pages I could get.  I had invisioned ones that were clear plastic and had pockets so that I could just put a picture in each pocket, and if anything was written on the back, you would be able to see it through the back of the page.  But apparently there aren’t any pages like that that are available for albums the size of these old ones (I also looked on the internet), so I bought black pages and corners (very much like the same ones that Mama used all those years ago!) to transfer the pictures to new pages. 

After I told Martha all this, she gave me a very touching surprise.  She has always been very sentimental about the things of Mama’s that still reside with her.  She and Mama had a very close relationship and she always said it was a privilege to get to care for Mama in her final years.  So I’ve always understood that while Martha was perfectly fine with me borrowing the albums, she really preferred for them to “live” at her house. 

But that means it was something of a shock to me when she offered me all of Mama’s albums to keep at my house!  I know what an act of love that is by her and I am so touched by it.

So, I have the supplies and am ready to begin the preserving of history.  I hope that I will be able to stay on task and get this first one done quickly, for two reasons.  First of all, I would like to take it with me the next time I visit Martha (at which time I will retrieve the rest of the albums too) because I would like for her to see how (hopefully) nice it looks with it’s new pages.  But also, I tend to start a project and then get distracted and have trouble keeping on task until the project is completed.  So I would appreciate it if you would say a little prayer for me that I can keep my eye on the goal, and get these albums restored so that they will be there for future generations to enjoy!

Colors I Fall for

November 4, 2009

Here are some other pictures taken from a moving car through sometimes dirty and sometimes rained-on windows!

I thought these three that were taken in really heavy rain were beautiful:




I liked the contrast of the Fall colors with the wooden fence:


I love fall:




100_5689g  I must have moved the camera, because I’m sure Hubby wasn’t driving that fast!


But even in this colorful season, I am sometimes drawn to just the silloutte of  trees against the sky:




 I do almost always not only crop my pictures, but also hit the Enhance button.   It’s hard for me to tell if that is good or not.  I would love to hear from some of  you who have done photography much longer than me.   I do that because I am truly a lover of color, and my pictures never seem to pick up all the vividness of the colors as I saw them in person.  Hmmm.  Doesn’t sound like the camera’s fault, does it.  More like an operator quirk!

Oh well, I savor  the colors of Fall (with a b/w thrown in once in a while) and these are great reminders to me of all the color we saw on our trip.

A Laugh for Today … The Cake Ball Video

October 14, 2009


Wellll, the newspaper just arrived, and the article about me cooking isn’t too bad.  But then I went to the newspaper’s website and watched the video of me.  What a hoot!

You can read the full article by clicking on the article’s name in the left hand column words printer friendly above the picture.

 Here is the article and see the video here — your laugh for today!

Act in haste, repent at your leisure …

August 11, 2009


Haste makes waste

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure


A stitch in time, saves nine (although this one probably isn’t true in my case.  An inexperienced seamstress like me is better off going ahead and putting in the other nine stitches right away, because the “preventative” one usually doesn’t hold!)  But, I digress …

I am sick, sick, sick, both physically and emotionally.

The physical sick almost kept me from attending my 45th class reunion Saturday night.  But I was determined not to miss it, so I went to Redi-Med that morning and had the doctor confirm that I didn’t have Swine Flu (I would not want to be remembered at the 50th reunion as the classmate who endangered the lives of everyone at the 45th!).  So after he diagnosed it as a virus and prescribed a Z-pack, I went to the reunion, but sounded like Suzanne Pleshette or Boris Karloff, take your pick, avoided hugging and just generally breathing on people, and had a wonderful time.

So yes I was physically sick, but I’m getting over that.  And in a week it will be forgotten.

But the other sick will last much longer.

100_4929   This is the Panasonic Lumix Hubby bought me for Christmas so that I could carry it in my purse.  I have loved this camera and have enjoyed having it with me at all times (in one of its two Vera Bradley tech bags that fit it perfectly).  Many, many times I have gotten it out and taken a picture of something that was fleeting, when there certainly wouldn’t have been time to go home to get a camera!

 100_4931   But now … see how the shutter looks funny?  And can you see the damage to the upper right edge of the lens in this picture?

All of those sayings that I began this post with … are true!  I hurried and was careless and the result is that I damaged my camera beyond reasonable repair.  And that is the “sick” that the antibiotics won’t cure and that will be with me for a while.

Here’s my “teachable moment” as the president would say. 

Thursday I took Mimi to the zoo.

 P1030649(1)    As we were leaving, because I have learned to look for “linking” photos that I can use to create a story line in a post, I got out my camera and took one last shot (not even a great one, as it turns out!) of Mimi getting into the car as we were leaving the zoo.  And then, because I was in a rush and a little distracted getting her into her car seat and buckled up, I did something I have rarely done — I just put the “naked” camera on the front seat instead of returning it immediately to its little protective bag and then into my purse.

When we drove into the garage at home, I gathered up my purse, the mail I had retrieved from the mail box across the street on the way past and my camera, and Mimi and I started to walk into the house.  But then she said something to me that I didn’t hear and I turned around to ask her what she said.  When I turned, the things in my hands shifted and the camera fell out of my hands and landed on the concrete garage floor.  I picked it up quickly and was relieved that it didn’t appear to be hurt (a classic case of denial) — I hadn’t seen how it landed, so I was hoping a corner had taken the brunt of the fall.

I hurried into the house, put all the things I was carrying down, and turned the camera on to make sure it was all right.  When I turned it on, the lens would try to open over and over, but would never fully expand.  Hubby came into the room and I told him my awful news.  He looked at it closely and show me where the edge of the lens had apparently hit the concrete and bent.

I immediately called Sunny Schick, the oldest and best known photo shop in town.  The owner, in a very nice way, told me several things I really didn’t want to hear.  First of all, being dropped is, by far, the number one cause of camera damage (sure, rub it in).  And, number two, the lens is, by far, the most expensive part of the camera — so, it is most of the value of the camera.  Meaning, when you damage the lens, you would probably spend almost as much to repair it as what it would cost to buy a new camera.  He said that I could bring it in, if I wanted to, and for $16 they would send it to the factory and get an estimate of how much it would cost to repair it.  I will probably do that, but he didn’t give me much hope.

So, I am heartsick about the loss of my beloved camera.  And the worst is — I have no one to blame but myself.  I was careless with something I loved and I paid the price.

Truly, “Act in haste, repent at your leisure.”  And a lesson learned, I hope.  But wouldn’t you think by this time in my life, I would have already learned all these lessons?!

Rats.  I just thought of another old saying.  I hope it’s not true!  “You can’t teach an old dog, new tricks.”

You know, now that I think about it, that just may be one of the sayings that isn’t true.  Because if it were true, I wouldn’t have learned to write a blog two years ago and then how to put pictures on that blog.  I remember those were both hard for me to learn, but I did it!  So, I think this old “dog” may still have a couple of “new tricks” up her sleeve! 

I hope so.  I hope I can remember this experience, and think next time before being careless with something I love.

And, maybe reading my sad little story will help you remember this lesson too.  I would like that.

Making Memories . . .

March 24, 2009


. . . that sometimes look  just like cake balls!

Nikki and Jay were here last week for spring break.  Jay spent most of his time, big surprise, with Grandpa.  But, Nikki and I did several fun things together.

She decided she wanted to get her hair cut so, with her mom’s permission, I took her to get a haircut.


p10009701    The hair stylist put more curl in it than Nikki will herself, but her and I both liked the cut, and it looks cute even when she just washes it and blows it dry straight.

p1010009   One day Nikki and I went to the Peony Tea House.  Notice the pretty tea cozie that covers her teapot in the foreground.

p10009971   The tea cups are all old ones, but I thought the one Nikki used was especially pretty.

p1000998  All the silverware is old and mismatched too.  Nikki is showing me the tiny little spoon that was part of her placesetting. 

We had a great time at the Tea Room.

On two afternoons, Nikki and I worked on making cake balls.  (If you want to try them, there is all kinds of information about making them on Pioneer Woman’s Cooking portion of her blog.)

There were lots of variables like the optimum temperature of the “naked” cake balls and the melted coating, that we had to learn the hard way — lots of mess and lots of less than perfectly finished cake balls, but we really enjoyed making them.

p10101291   I had this container that we used to “corral” all the “stuff” we needed, like the two little ceramic bowls to melt chocolate in (although we used some other bowls too), a couple of plastic bottles that are especially made to melt chocolate in, and some different tools we experimented with to see what was best to use for dipping the balls.

p1010130   Besides just straight- forward cake balls, we wanted to try some that look like cupcakes too.  And, in this case, we found out that price really does matter.  We originally used the candy molds like the one here on the right to pour chocolate into, press a cake ball down into the soft coating, so that it would come up around the sides of the ball, and when it hardens, pop them out and dip the top of the cake ball in another color coating.  With some sprinkles on top, they looked alot like tiny cupcakes.  But, the second time we did it, we used the candy mold on the left that we bought at a candy supply store.  Those molds were made of heavier material and were bigger.  They worked much better.

p101001411  We made two kinds of cake balls, strawberry and chocolate.

p10100161    For a few balls, just to try something different, I formed some of the chocolate cake around a strawberry cake ball.  They were good, but I think we liked the one-flavor ones the best.

 p10100401   I think the ones that look like cupcakes came out kind of cute.

p101001211    One thing we found out was that if the cake balls are dark chocolate, light colored coating doesn’t work well with one coat.  We had to let these yellow ones dry after the first dipping and then dip them again, to get better coverage.

p10100411    After we had coated all the cake balls, the ones without sprinkles looked plain so I attempted to decorate them with frosting in the squeeze bottles.  I found this to be a very inexact science (or maybe it’s that I just wasn’t very good at it).  It was hard to get the frosting just the right thickness to be able to decorate with it.  That’s my excuse and I’m stickig to it!

When we were all done and cleaned up the huge mess we had made of the kitchen, I got out this little tiered serving tray (and a pretty table cloth for “background”), and Nikki arranged our “results” on it.



p10100381   We were pleasantly surprised at how nice we thought these looked once we put them on the tray.  And they really are very good tasting!

Nikki and I had a great time, and we even did things “once in a while” with Grandpa and Jay, like going to Cinema Grille for dinner and a movie.  But, much of the time they were off doing “guy stuff”.  Grandpa was very pleased to find out that Jay has a talent as well as an interest in Grandpa’s favorite sport, target shooting!

Grandkids really are the frosting on the cake, or maybe in this case, I should say the frosting on the cake balls!