Thursday, April 29, 2010

Recent Travels

I got to spend last week scrapbooking with my friends at our 3rd annual Farm Crop. It is so much fun to just do whatever you want with no obligations. I spent about 4-5 hours each day outside on the porch or deck reading, stitching and listening to music. I love to be that obnoxious one to my friends that still completes more pages than they do. They LOVE to hate me!

From there, we went straight on a golf weekend where we girls continued our scrapbooking. I did a total of 20 double-page spreads (pictures to follow) for the week. That's just about 2 full albums. This is the longest time in a row that I've ever scrapbooked---6 days in a row. And now Connie is going to hate me too! Not only am I "caught up" on all of my needlework projects (train with her, Halloween suckers with Nancy), I finished another project! Sorry Connie! I guess if I was a really, really good friend, I'd offer to help you finish one of the FIVE projects you have going!!! (I do hope you're laughing---I may be faster, but at least you're skinnier). Gosh, I'm so obnoxious, I almost hate myself!

From Falls of Rough, KY, Butch and I headed straight for Kalamazoo, MI to surprise the Lapps' family. I did call Sandy last week, so the surprise was really for the kids. On the way, I called when we got to Indianapolis to just give them a time frame. Mitchell answered and said that they were having to clean, which he didn't understand because it was Sunday. Elizabeth was on the other line saying that "Mitchell was getting mad at mom for no reason." I told her that that's what teenagers do---get mad for no reason.

Lapps family update:

Greg---still makes the BEST gourmet burgers around. Actually, we should just dub him the "grill master". He made great steaks the second night too. We should also call him the master of the yard. I wish I'd taken a picture---truly, I have never seen a more beautiful lawn---not a single weed---bright green grass---solid---no bare spots or brown patches---absolute perfection. He does all the fertilizing and weed control and takes a great deal of pride in it---definitely shows.

Sandy---goes out of her way to make our trip perfect---and tries new recipes. I always love that. This time it was a White Cheddar Squash Casserole. As good as it was---and it was delicious---I knew that I would never go to that much trouble---anything more than 2 steps and I'm "out". Yesterday, I remarked to Sandy that she will be happy to have a rest when we leave. Elizabeth piped up, "grammy, mom isn't going to be arrested!"

Mitchell---aka the "big tuna" is "in" to his baseball---regular league and tournament travel. I couldn't believe it---upon our arrival, I realized he is now a head taller than me. Sandy said he's grown 5 inches since Christmas. She said that not having any boys in our family, has caught her completely off-guard. Now when Mitchell's friends come over, she said it's like having a bunch of "almost" men around---all tall with deep voices and the "stache". We went to his game on Tuesday night, but nothing could have prepared us for the joys of a baseball game in Michigan in April. Picture it---50 degrees, with frosty wind blowing off the lake. We sat huddled under blankets and froze for about 3 innings before we decided to call it a day. At least we were able to see Mitchell hit a double---line drive between the short stop and third base. They won---12-3. Do you have any idea what bats cost these days?---and each kid has to have their own. I'm not even going there....

Victoria is gearing up for golf---her sport of choice. She's doing great in school and recently was happy to have Greg on one of her class field trips. They went to the state capitol in Lansing. Someone decided that Michigan third graders needed to learn state history. Even Victoria can spell--B-O-R-I-N-G!! Why do that to kids? There's plenty of time to bore them when they're older. I have a feeling she's going to be a teacher. She never tires of playing school---with or without real kids. She's letting her hair grow out and it's really thick. We'll see how long that lasts. She loves to annoy Mitchell (or I should say they love to annoy each other). In the car, she had her iPod and was sitting next to Mitchell and singing. He kept asking her to stop---she wouldn't---he pulled out her earphones---back and forth. Instead of intervening, I just chuckled, remembering those good old days! Apparently, the "fight" is on between those two as to who will have to stay in grammy and grandpa's room in Disney. Seems to me we should get a say in that! I never thought WE would turn into a "punishment".

Elizabeth will also be starting golf. She's already done a golf camp and continues with gymnastics. We went to "ribbon day" so I got to see one of her "tadas"---that thing gymnasts do when they finish where they raise their arms and go "tada"! She is very coordinated and has quite a propensity for anything athletic. She zooms all over on her 2 wheel bike without training wheels since turning 4. Plus, I couldn't believe how well she jumps rope. She tried to teach me super Mario Brothers---I couldn't believe how her little fingers fly over the controller. She thought it was hilarious that I kept losing so fast. She can actually finish levels. She is one active little girl---always ready for the next activity. I always think I'm going to do anything she wants until she wears out. That simply does not happen. In the car, she plans out the day (okay, maybe she's a lot like me). "Grammy, when we get home, do you want to play a game and then read me a couple books and then watch me ride my bike and then swing me and then play that other game and then do a puzzle?" My response: "okay, Elizabeth, I'll read you ONE book and then I'm taking my nap. We'll do the other stuff after that." The first words out of her mouth in the morning are: "grammy, do you want to play a game?" Whew!!! That girls gives me a run for my money!

While the older kids were in school, we did some geo-caching. There's one cache that we have not been able to find. We hunted for it the last time we were here. This time, Butch went back while Sandy and I got manicures and still couldn't find it. He emailed the "owner" and asked for a hint. We went back with what we thought were some really good clues---still couldn't find it. Butch emailed the guy again---this time he told us exactly where it was and we still couldn't find it. Butch is definitely a pro when it comes to geo-caching, so we're sure it's gone. We'll see how the owner responds now that Butch has emailed him saying we still couldn't find it. We couldn't even find a spot on the location where a cache could even be hidden. We're all anxious to find out that secret. A real stumper.

We had a great time and crammed a lot into a couple of days. Butch is ready to be back home for awhile. Me, I'm off again to St. Louis in a couple of weeks, then home a week before Butch and I go to Tulsa over Memorial weekend to visit his uncle. I'm loving retirement---I've never been so busy!!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Butch Keeps the Girls

Last week, while I was at the farm crop, Steph was out-of-town on business. Butch was in charge of the girls and their crazy, busy schedules. There's always a lot going on with them, but Steph had sent him a nearly hour by hour schedule. All was going pretty smoothly---the cooking, getting the girls to and from school and activities. On Wednesday, Butch told me that Jordan had "pulled a fast one" on him. She had asked if he could pick her up from the Father Ryan soccer game on Tuesday night at 8:30. She was getting a ride there with a friend. He said yes, because Father Ryan isn't too far from our house. When he arrived to pick her up, she had her friend Katie along. Being the smart guy that he is, he quickly realized that he was also taking Katie home. When he asked where she lived, it turned out to be all the way across town. By the time he got home it was 9:45---an hour and a half ordeal. I told him that it wasn't that Jordan "pulled a quick one", but that due to his inexperience with dealing with teenagers, he didn't ask the right questions. Everyone knows that if one parent "takes", it's a trade off---that means you are doing the "pick up".

Then, on Thursday morning, Jordan needed a lunch for her senior and nothing in our house was deemed appropriate. Of course, he was "wigged" that she waited until the last minute to tell him (again, another typical teenager move). She wanted Butch to deliver something at noon. He was going fishing, so he told her he simply couldn't do it. She then suggested that he order them a pizza. So, he gave her money to pay for the pizza. Later, she texted him to remind him. He said that it was really weird to be receiving text messages and ordering Dominoes pizza while fishing from the middle of the lake. Sort of polluted the calm, serene, get away from it all experience. I welcomed him to my world and said he got a taste of what he'd missed all these years by sitting in his "cush" office.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Just Checkin' In

I'm on the way out the door again, but just thought I'd send a couple pictures. Here you see the tiniest cache we've ever found. Jack and Connie found one this size on the top of a door hinge---so you can imagine how small it is. We found this one inside of a street sign in Gettysburg. It does actually have a log inside. We didn't sign it because it was damp. I'm telling you, this is a really fun hobby. Butch has already printed out a dozen for us to find in Kalamazoo next week. The thing I like the most is all the little bits of history and information you learn about the area you are visiting. Just plain fun---and cheap too! Mindy and Mike have been going just about every Monday in New Orleans---using the GPS on her iPhone.

For me, too many hobbies---too little time!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Just got back last night from a week in "Washin' D.C." as the locals call it (or at least some of them---I bet you can guess which ones). We went with Walter and Chris. We had a great time and the weather was absolutely gorgeous. If you all were aware of the "nuclear summit" that took place last week with 47 world leaders in town---well, we were smack dab in the middle of it. I've never seen so many police, secret service and military all in one spot. They closed off a 12 block area which included our hotel. We were on foot anyway, so that didn't matter, except getting to and from our hotel---we had to go 'round the long way too many times---as our poor feet could attest.

We did it ALL!!! My favorite was the personal guide we hired at Gettysburg. My favorite in D.C. was the Holocaust Museum. Just when you think you've heard it all---there was so much new I learned. I was disappointed in the Smithsonian. I guess I had that too built up in my mind. So much of it seemed completely irrelevant---especially to the thousands of school kids that were bored out of their minds. They walked around asking---"who's Fonzie?" "Who was Archie Bunker?" I did love the Carol Burnett exhibit with the drapery dress from Gone With the Wind with the drapery rod still attached. I still remember how hilarious that was---Starlet O'Hara. I also enjoyed Julia Child's kitchen and the dresses of the First Ladies---some of those early gals had really tiny feet and waists. I know people were smaller way back when, but it was really evident in this exhibit.

We also managed to geo-cache in 3 states---you know Butch's (and now Walter's) quest to find a cache in each of the 50 states. They found 21 in D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania. Butch hit his 400th cache in just 15 months. You do the math---that's a lot of caches.

I've spent today unpacking, doing laundry, going through the mail, uploading my photos, and just re-grouping to leave again tomorrow. We have Morgan's Confirmation this afternoon, dinner after and then a stop at the grocery store. I'll bake brownies tonight and have all the other food and alcoholic beverages planned out for the week. I'll be leaving first thing in the morning for our 3rd annual "farm crop" with my friends. We'll scrapbook all week and come home Thursday afternoon. Then I'll do it all over again---laundry, unpack, grocery store---to leave on Friday for a golf weekend. Plus, we have Morgan's school play on Thursday night.

Then, after our golf weekend with friends on Sunday, we'll head straight to Portage, MI to surprise the Lapps family (surprise Sandy!---don't tell the kids---I'm requesting Greg's gourmet hamburgers for dinner. I expect that we should get there around 5 or so---once I MapQuest it, I can give you a better idea). We'll spend a couple days and get home on Wednesday. I'll have slept in my bed only 2 nights in 18 days!

And I still managed to slip in a blog update! I seem to be the most efficient when I don't have time to spare. I feel a little guilty being gone this week. But I had my trip planned long before Steph told us she had to be out-of-town all week on business. Butch can hold down the fort---he'll get a taste of all the driving I've done for the last 15 years. He's really good with the girls. I love it that they can call him for rides to the mall or to friend's houses. He'll do anything for any of "his" girls. Now we'll see if he can handle all the meals too.

I started this post before the Confirmation and am finishing it up after. We went to the club for dinner where we discussed Butch's schedule for the girls this week. Jordan is off school on Friday because of the prom. The conversation went like this:
Morgan: "Jordan, are you going?"
Jordan: "no, it's just for juniors and seniors."
Morgan: "Well, did anybody ask you?"
Jordan: "What the heck, Morgan, it's an "all girls school"!"
Morgan: just laughs....

Another note---Mindy has revived her blog. You can get there by clicking on the link at the right.

Have a good week and I'll "catch you up" from the Lapps' house!

Monday, April 5, 2010


The layouts for "A Year of Memories" this month were to be faith-based. The kit included a chipboard title "believe". It is so much fun to see how everyone uses the kit.

Susan used "I believe in God, angels, miracles family, friends" placed around the circle. She used two plates to make the circle. She did her journaling, but lacks typing skills, so is reliant on one of us for that. We're happy enough to do it for her. She did include her favorite prayer.

Pam decided against a faith based layout and used "I believe in tradition". That's okay---however you want to interpret the assignment is completely up to each person. Her journaling included a story about how her cousin surprised the family by donning their grandmother's clothes and impersonating her. She said her cousin was right on with the impersonation. She included a few photos of her grandmother so you could see the resemblance. She never really planned to scrapbook these pictures until this assignment and then was thrilled to use them.

On my layout, I used a piece of the silhouetted paper as a mask to paint over the title. My title:
"believe me growing up Catholic wasn't always easy. Several of us made a rosary with the beads and cross. I also used my sewing machine to stitch around the cross and outside of the page. I also included some pictures of my First Communion prayer book---even the inside where Jennifer wrote her name with red crayon. The caption reads: "another hazard of growing up in a large family---nothing is your own."

Jeanne went with "I'm a Believer". Everyone was impressed with her use of the crystals to create the little cross. They missed her journaling this month, but I assured them it was on the way. They also like the pocket she made for extra holy cards.

Stephanie went with a quote to replace her title. Her journaling was particularly meaningful. We all said that after reading it, it's nice to know that the religious education really mattered. My friends complimented her on her writing ability. What can I say---she's my daughter!! They also like how she changed the font and color in her quote.

Karolyn used "I believe there's a master plan" and talked about all the important people in her life. On the "believe" she embossed it with verdigris embossing powder. It was really cool.

We are all having a great time with this project. Everyone agrees that it is really making them think differently about their scrapbooking. They are scrapbooking stories they never thought about before. Thus, I'm trying to get everyone to stop referring to their "scrapbooks" as they have truly become "storybooks"!! Good job girls! Not a single one of them is any longer intimidated by the journaling and we're only 4 months into it!! My mission has been accomplished!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

You have to figure out the words for the right pictures. It works fine when I'm typing them, but when I publish the post. they get all mixed up. Sorry.

This is how the front looks on the left side where the squirrels have eaten and dug up all my bulbs.

I just love my cherry tree. It's quite spectacular in full bloom---just wish it would last longer.

This is how the right side of the front looks.

The cherry blossoms come in handy for
decorating too.

Here you see the piece of equipment that is sticking out of the middle of the yard.

Now Butch leaves me little notes like this. Would someone please take the Post It notes away from him??

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Story and a Few Photos

In case you were wondering what I do in my spare time, I thought I would show you. Connie asked me to do this needlework project with her as it's always fun working on the same thing together. Plus, anything Connie asks---I do! Needless to say, I've left her in the dust! I'm also working on some Halloween things with Nancy----shucks, I forgot to take a picture of those. Anyway, the train is a series of 3. I'm thinking about having them all put together to make a bolster pillow.

Here are the earrings that I wore for a full day and never realized until the next day that they were different.

The picture on the far right shows some of my recent flea market finds. I just love the family picture in the swing frame---that photo is one of my most cherished. I'm hoping to find a few others when I visit St. Louis in May. My cousin, Judy and I are on the hunt!

This cute little ornament is something Stephanie made. Since I'm the "payer" for all things needlework, I got to see it first.

Now on to the story. This is the type of thing that circulates the internet and you don't know whether to believe it or not. Well, I know this woman personally, so it is absolutely the truth! You need to pass this on to everyone you know and their kids.

This woman that I play bridge with told our group that on this past Monday, she got a call at 6 a.m. from her grandson, Andrew. Of course, she and her husband were awakened and not quite clear-headed yet. Andrew said that he and a friend had been arrested because his friend had a small amount of marijuana in the car. He was afraid to call his parents and needed $4000 to get out of jail. My friend's husband was writing down the information about where to wire the money (the grandson said he and his friend were on a road trip when they got stopped) when she remembered an article that she had read the week before. She took the phone from her husband and asked, "Andrew, who were you named after?" The guy hung up. Then she saw that the call came from this number: 00012345---a disposable international phone.

Luckily, my friend and her husband were not "taken" by this scam. She said it sounded like her grandson, but of course when you are upset, you are not thinking too clearly and they had just awakened. She remembered that the article said that if you are ever asked for money over the phone by a family member or friend in distress, you should ask them a question that only they could answer.

Here's the bottom line----these scammers are getting their information from FACEBOOK!!!! Everyone needs to beware---people are being robbed while on vacation because they are posting too much personal information on facebook. Another reason to be careful, employers are also checking prospective employees on facebook.

I've said it before and I'll say it here: I really feel sorry for young people today trying to raise their families with all the hazzards of the internet. Still, I can't go a day without mine!!! Just be careful out there on the world wide web!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

My Easter Menu

Hey All,
Just thought I'd share my Easter menu along with a couple of recipes.

Crunchy Hot Chicken Salad
Blueberry Congealed Salad
Green Bean Bundles
Sister Shubert Rolls

They say "congealed" here in the south rather than "jello" like we do. My girls think there's something slightly "yukky" about the word congealed that makes it less appetizing. But by any name, it's good. I can count on one hand the number of times I've made a jello salad in 39 years of marriage. I'm completely intimidated by them. I was going to do the strawberry pretzel salad, but the recipe I have did not turn out for me---once---about 10 years ago. My friends gave me another recipe for it that is slightly different, but I haven't tried it. I've had a jello salad on every holiday menu for at least the last 5 years and have "chickened" out at the last minute. Since I'm serving chicken, I'm not going to let myself talk "me" out of it this time!!!

This is a variation of a recipe that I've had since the 1970's. My friend, Pam served this recently and it was easier than my old recipe. I've added a few things to her recipe to make it a little more similar to my old recipe without the additional work. Enjoy!

Crunchy Hot Chicken Salad
3 cups diced, cooked chicken
1 cup chopped celery
2 T. lemon juice
3 T. chopped onion (I chopped about a half of a medium size onion - didn't measure)
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 c. water chestnuts (I used sliced but sliced them again like the almonds)
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
3 hard boiled eggs, sliced
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 cups crushed potato chips

Preheat oven to 325. Mix first 10 ingredients. Gently fold in eggs and place mixture in a lightly greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
Top with cheese & crushed potato chips. Bake about 30 minutes or until bubbly.

Blueberry Congealed Salad
2 small grape jello
2 cups boiling water
1 can crushed pineapple
1 can blueberry pie filling

Mix boiling water with jello until dissolved. Add pineapple and pie filling. Pour in a 9x13 dish and refrigerate until congealed.

8 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Mixed softened cream cheese with sour cream and sugar until blended. Fold in nuts. Spread over jello. Best if prepared the night before.

Enjoy and let me know what you're serving this Easter! Have a good one!