It’s Not All About The Fireworks

fireworks2July 4th was a special day for Gramps and me. We took the boat out on the lake to watch the fireworks put on by the local city. Sounds like a simple event, doesn’t it? Go see a bunch of big booms and then go home. But the way Gramps and I do it, it takes almost all day and becomes a grand affair.

First there was the beautiful boat ride across the lake to get to the prearranged spot. The sky had clouded over, which dropped the temperature pleasantly. We passed by the dam and saw many

birds and ducks on our way.

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IMG_0003We got to a perfect spot off shore with plenty of time to spare. After anchoring in place, Gramps put his fishing rods in the water. “Can’t catch anything if you don’t have a line in the water,” he always says.

Dozens of boats joined us in the cove. Some were playing music, some people were dancing, some swimming. Lots of children were laughing and beaming in anticipation. What a wonderful community we became.

While we watched a magnificent sunset, we enjoyed our picnic dinner of bratwurst, bean salad and hard boiled eggs. How peaceful! How serene!

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When the sun finally set, we were all ready for the fireworks show. It was brilliant and exciting and very colorful. Oohs and aahs followed each explosion. Applause was heard from all directions. Children and adults alike had a great American moment watching the fireworks.

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As the fireworks finale came to a close, we all lingered on the water. It seemed our new little community wanted to savor the day and evening. No one wanted it to end.

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Finally Gramps and I slowly motored back across the lake by the light of a half moon. Talk about romantic!

We had such a grand day filled with calm, excitement, quiet, big bangs, good food, fellowship and shared moments. And the fireworks were actually only one part of the day.

The Times They Are A’changing

When we lived in our old house, Gramps and I had a large dining room. We designed the house to have a large dining room because we had many plans to have family dinners, friendly gatherings, and holiday celebrations around a big table in that room.

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And we did! We honored birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and graduations. We decorated for and celebrated every holiday you can imagine from Valentine’s to July 4th to Christmas. We had friends over for no reason at all except to enjoy those we love. We shared foods of every kind; old trusted recipes, new adventures in eating, appetizers, desserts, drinks and snacks.

That one single room with a table, chairs, sideboard and built-in cupboards held so many memories for us. Memories of long talks, singing, great meals, playing games, babies laughing, children clapping, new people joining the family, remembering, and planning. It seems impossible that a space with only wooden furniture and a couple of windows could be the treasure hold of 25 years of such joy and sharing. But it certainly did!!

So, of course, when we looked for our new home, we wanted a dining room. We wanted to continue the traditions we started and keep having all those grand affairs in the new dining room. A dining room was a “must have” and a dining room we got. One with tall ceilings, built-in cupboards, moldings and wood floors. By any standard, she’s a beauty, all right!

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In the last eighteen months in this new house we have been blessed with birthday parties, block BBQ’s, family dinners, last-minute meals with friends who stayed to help paint, celebrations of all kinds. We are making new memories here and enjoying gatherings of every sort.

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The one thing that hasn’t happened? We haven’t used the dining room for any meal, except for overflow seating at the BBQ. For some reason, it just hasn’t worked to use that particular room for that particular purpose yet.

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And you know what? It’s okay! Everything is a little bit different now. Different neighborhood, different house, different furniture, different ways of making times happy. So we use the kitchen table or the patio or our laps, we still have great meals, great conversations, great laughs.

No matter what, where, how or who, we will always have joy, laughter and friendship around the table. The time spent will always be a true celebration and the memories will last a lifetime, dining room or no dining room.

Vacation Attitudes

vacationGramps and I just returned from a two week vacation, which we take every summer to get out of the Texas heat. It’s always such a relief to head north, where the air is cooler and moister. In my head, it seems so easy — just put what we need in the RV and go. Basically, transfer our life from a hot place to a cool place.

But in reality, no vacation (or any trip for that matter) is so easy. Nothing goes as smooth as expected and never does the written word match what actually happens.

Everyone in the vehicle starts to get impatient and antsy after hours of driving. I don’t care now much you love road trips, hours in one car/truck with no ability to change the scenery, company or sometimes even the radio station can drive anyone to wonder if the trip is really worth it.

And then there’s the waiting, in lines mostly, at toll booths, at restaurants, for the next bus, for the next subway, for that special tour, for that fantastic ride. We may find ourselves in lines in our normal lives, but it gets very concentrated when we become tourists in another town or state. Instead of occurring once a week or so, it starts to occur several times each day. Patience begins to wear thin.

Best advice? Get over it! Gramps and I long ago developed the spirit that the fun starts the minute we leave our front door. That’s when the vacation starts. The process of “getting there” is half the fun. We have no expectations — what happens is the good stuff. All the time is precious whether spent in line, in a restaurant, in a truck or at a toll booth.

And the best time to take a vacation is right now. Don’t put it off. Don’t wait for the perfectPacking List For Vacation Or Trip time, weather, finances, etc. It will never happen. It doesn’t have to be long, far or expensive. Each trip is its own special memory and occasion. It never has to be more than what it is. Gramps and I once took grandson Mac, who was than about 6 yo, camping for two days. We went all of about three miles from our house, but you would have thought we took him to the moon, he was so excited!

black-blackandwhite-fun-grey-memories-favim-coBe sure to document the entire trip. I always say, “Every OP is a photo OP.” Even the driving portion needs to be recorded, in a fashion. There must be a law some where that every one of our trips must have a photo of me sleeping in the truck. Gramps always manages to get one of me without me being aware of it!

Remember, every photo is a precious memory. Everyone should have a copy, Make an album for each vacation and reminisce, especially with children.

Gramps and I usually plan some down time, if we are on an especially busy trip. Every vacation needs a day off, a day of rest or a day of unorganized activity. A day when everyone can do what they want, even if it is just reading a book or laying on the beach. A day of regeneration prevents burnout before the vacation is over.

Eating on the road can be difficult for some. With the RV, Gramps and I generally plan for and bring most of our meals with us. I don’t worry a lot about my diet while on vacation. I want to try new and different foods wherever I happen to be and want that to be part of my enjoyment. The general thought is, the calories don’t count while I am away. I don’t necessarily binge but I certainly don’t try to lose weight either.reading_beach

The best vacation attitude is: RELAX. Don’t stress about anything. Whatever happens willbe great. Getting there will be great. Being there will be great. Recording it will be great. Remembering it will be great. It will be so great, you will do it again.

Getting All Dressed Up

There are so many fantastic things about Easter! About sitting in church on Easter morning! The flowers, the music, the singing, the words spoken, the mass of people, the many greetings, the colorful banners and of course, the scores of children.images

Children of all sizes, shapes, and temperaments. Children we normally don’t see in church service because they are in their separate Sunday School classes. Children bright-eyed, scrubbed and dressed to the nines. Girls in their pretty dresses, some with hats and sparkly shoes. Boys in suits and ties, shirts tucked in (at least at the beginning) and shoelaces tied (at least at the beginning).

Getting dressed in one’s finery for holidays, especially Easter, is not something new. I have many memories of my two brothers and me being stuffed into new clothes every Easter dawn. They in matching suits with vests and sometimes new shoes. Me in a beautiful dress made by my mother with hat, gloves, purse, matching socks and shiny patent leather shoes.

easter20egg20huntPhotos were always taken outside in front of the house, with us standing in birth order, very straight and still and a little uncomfortable in our new clothes. My brothers never smiled, their arms hanging down at their sides. Me? I loved it! And the memories are now priceless!!

Today is no different. I thoroughly enjoy the look, the feel and even the smell of new clothes, new shoes and a new purse. And making these memories for children now is just as important as when I was little.

It is said that clothes make the person, but I think clothes can also make the occasion. Along with decorations, food, rituals and gifts, special dress can make an event even more memorable for a child.

Getting dressed up means you act different, talk different, do things differently, and use your best manners. Special clothes on a special day means special things will be happening – visiting with special people you haven’t seen for some time, eating special food, singing special songs, giving special gifts, playing special games. All of it is very, very special, requiring lots and lots of photos for those very special memories.kids carver 01

What all this means is, it’s worth it. It’s worth all the time, expense and worry to get it together for an event for a child. I remember a time during fourth grade when I was invited to a birthday party almost every weekend. My mother, the great seamstress. made a new dress for me for each party. When I expressed my wonder at her extreme effort, she said, “If you have a good time in a dress once, it’s worth it.”

That’s not to say every child needs new clothes each time he/she walks out the door. But it does mean that every child deserves our effort and time to make their days worth remembering. I does mean that if it’s an occasion for fun, food and festivity, it’s worth getting dressed up.

Easter S’mores

S’mores are wonderful any time of year. But I discovered these for Easter that are so cute, I had to share.

The ingredients are the same as any S’more: marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker. The difference for the season is the marshmallow – substitute a little Peep for the regular big white one. How sweet is that? IMG_0592Make the chocolate a single serving bar and package it all up in a small baggie. What a nice change from the usual egg. Enjoy!!
IMG_0595Happy Easter to everyone!!

Yummy Yummy Mummy Pop

This is my Halloween treat for this year. I think it is absolutely adorable! This is the first year in several decades that I will actually have any Trick-or-treaters, so I am having a grand time making many of these cute Mummy Pops to give away.

Here is the secret to making the treat:

Supplies          

  1. 2″ gauze
  2. 1/8 or 1/4 inch orange ribbon
  3. white and red acrylic paint
  4. brushes
  5. white glue
  6. black plastic spoons
  7. suckers (I used Tootsie Roll Pops)

Step 1 – On the back of the spoon, paint two white eyes. The eyes should be connected in the middle. Don’t worry about wavy edges, or uneven eyes. They actually look better that way!

Step 2 – When white paint has dried, paint two small red centers on white eyes. Again, these can be uneven and they will look fine.

Step 3 – Take sucker and place it in bowl of spoon.

Step 4 – Cut about 18-20″ of gauze. Holding sucker in spoon, wrap gauze around both. One wrap must go over the top of the spoon above the eyes. The eyes should show through the gauze like a Mummy. When done, put a dot of glue on end of gauze and stick in place.

Step 5 – Cut about 10″ of orange ribbon. Tie around the neck of the spoon on top of the gauze. Make a cute bow and cut off excess ribbon.

And there you have the best tasting Mummy in town! Make plenty! I am! Happy Halloween, my Sweeties!

Welcome To Granny’s House

Well, it’s almost here . . . that magical day, Christmas! We sure are having a great time getting ready at our house. Hope you are too, my Sweeties.

This year I was motivated (by having a choir party at our house) to decorate as I have never decorated before. I mean I love holidays. You know I do! But I have used every bit of glitz and glitter in all the boxes to doll up my abode for this Christmas. Gramps and I have been enjoying the atmosphere and I thought you might enjoy seeing it too. So welcome to Granny’s house!

Santa welcomes everyone in! This is the first year I added lights to the front door. I don’t know why it took me so long. They look wonderful!

The front hall. This creche is so old . . . let’s see . . . about 40 years . . . can that be right? . . . yes, 40 years old! I made it during my ceramic period. I love nativity scenes and have them all over the house.

The tree. (The big tree. There is another.) We had to get a skinny tree to fit the space, but I love how elegant it looks.

The tree is full of old, new and handmade ornaments. I love the eclectic, gathered look. There are many Thomas Kinkade house ornaments that have lights shining from them. They all look so cozy and warm in their own little nooks. And tinsel . . . lots of tinsel!

Our children used to take a handful, toss it up and blow it on the tree. Gramps and I have never been able to master that skill very well, but we try.

My sweet Santa collection! It has taken me many years to finally get this mantel to look like this. I had a vision in my head and this is it! I even made a couple of these little guys! And they are so nicely reflected in Aunt Gladys’ antique mirror. I love it.

Welcome to Snowflake Village . . . the miniature town that appears every year. Most of the pieces are replicas of the buildings from Norman Rockwell’s hometown . . . which somehow seems sweeter to me. As if people actually lived in them at one time . . . I know, Granny’s getting old! Anyway, the grandkids love this village and always look for every detail, i.e. mailboxes, horses, street lamps and the one skater that has fallen on the frozen pond. It wouldn’t be Christmas without the Snowflake Village at Granny’s house!

Here is another creche that I love because a dear friend of mine made it for me and because it depicts children. This always reminds me of the many Christmas plays we sat through when the kids were little. So sweet, it made your teeth ache!

Shelf decoration in the living room. These votives look spectacular with candles in them at night! The lace pattern is beautiful! I didn’t realize how beautiful when I bought them. What a nice surprise!

On to the dark pink dining room. Once I painted this room this yummy color, I loved it so much, I began to tell everyone that every house needed a “red” room. And many people have come to see the truth of that statement without any arm-twisting needed!

The mache Mary and Joseph are probably 45 years old. I made them for my mother when I was in college. They have adapted to the new decors around them nicely.

I just realized as I was looking at the previous photo that the candles that were burned down during the party have not been replaced. Please imagine tall green tapers in the brass candlesticks on the buffet. Alas, dear Sweeties, Granny is not perfect!

More photos of the dining room and another small creche under a dome. This one was also made by my dear friend who passed on several years ago. I miss her still.

The kitchen is bright and festive with greenery stuffed here and there. The striped stockings on the dish rack were purchased in different places and at different times. It amazes me how alike they all are.

This is the shelf above the stove which houses the candy jars with edible candy . . . see half-empty jar. Also the pitcher for milk and the plate for cookies for Santa, both of which are as old as my children. (Don’t worry kids, I’m not telling!)

 

The powder room off the kitchen is small but I love putting a touch of holiday cheer in there. Don’t mind the painted bedpan!

Even the laundry room gets a little bling! I told you I was on a roll!

Into the den, where you will see “Candy Corner.” I love the candy theme and so do the children, although none of it is edible! So sad! There are now 9 of us with my son getting married in june, so “all the stockings” means a mantel-full.

The card holder is made from a set of shutters. I’ll have a tutorial on that at some future date.

This is my “sewing tree.” The ornaments are all miniature and most are thimble-themed. This year I made a button garland, which really adds an extra spark. I’ll give you a tutorial on that too . . . later! The little wooden train is a favorite of my “boys.” They expect it to always be there on the trunk in front of the “sewing tree,” where they can get to it and play with it. I wouldn’t think of having it anywhere else!

Can’t forget the bathroom with its snowman theme. Aren’t they cute reflected in the mirror?

One last creche. One of my favorites. Too-too cute.

Well, that’s it . . . Granny’s Christmas house. You have to imagine the warmth of a fire, the aroma of banana bread baking and apple cider simmering on the stove. Now conjure up a loving hug from Gramps and me, and a hearty “sit a spell and chat with us” to get the full effect of the holiday here. We’d love to share it all with you, my Sweeties!