Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Couple of Layouts

I completed a couple of layouts this week.

This is my layout for A Year of Memories this month. The journaling is as follows:

When someone asks me where I’m from, I always say St. Louis---and I have the Midwest accent to prove it. Technically, I am from St. Louis---but where I grew up was not nearly as cosmopolitan as it sounds. I grew up 12.7 miles north of downtown St.. Louis. Specifically---Spanish Lake. Although still part of metropolitan St. Louis, Spanish Lake was the “boonies”, the “sticks”, the country. Spanish Lake is a farming community. My great-grandparents raised their family here. My grandmother and her siblings went to St. Aloysius Church and School. They had long moved away by the time my mom and dad built their house in Spanish Lake and sent us kids to St. Aloysius.

Growing up in Spanish Lake was an idyllic childhood. It was a much simpler time---screen doors and window fans---one car families---which the dads took to work. We rode our bikes all over tarnation. We traipsed through the woods on our many incredible journeys complete with packed lunches and walking sticks. We swam in the lake where we defied the “no trespassing” signs. We called our friends by standing outside their back door and yelling their name---“Ohhhhh Reeenieeee!” We left the house early in the morning with our packed lunch and wouldn’t be seen again until dinner time. Our parents had no idea where we were or what we were doing. We just had to be home for dinner. Of course, there were no electronics back then. We spent all day outside, playing ball, mumblety peg, mother may I, red rover, red light green light, wall ball, jacks, run-ups, cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians and assorted “made up” games. We sledded and skated in the winter. We built tree houses and dug underground forts. We went anywhere our imagination took us. Honestly, I can’t think of a single disadvantage to growing up in the country. It’s just a shame that Spanish Lake is no longer the peaceful place it once was. But that’s another story.

Five Things Thursday

5 things I've learned this week:

1. I learned that GFU does NOT mean Good For You---I mistakenly sent this message to the family. After getting over the shock, they figured out what I meant.

2. I learned that Koalas are NOT bears---but marsupials. I'm really "in" to a show called "Sex in the Wild." I tuned in to it before I knew it was about animals. It's really interesting. And, there's nothing on tv these days. Can you tell? I'm desperate enough that I'm planning to watch "Bachelors in Paradise" starting on Monday.

3. I learned that having a book club member from Nottingham---2 hours from London means you'll get a "cream tea" when she hosts. And, she had the most awesome napkins. I begged her to let me take one home. She insisted I take two. Okay! I did! I wish I'd taken a picture of her table. There's nothing I like better than a tea party. I think we'll keep her!! Well, whenever she's in town---she's heading home in about a week but will be back in september. And that accent...totally love it.

4. I learned that I still am flexible enough to maneuver myself from the passenger side of my car---up over the console---to get in the driver's seat. Why, you ask? Because someone blocked me in again. When you park, you absolutely know when you have parked too close to the car next to you. Some people just don't care. Curses to them---although I didn't!

5. I learned that although I do have arthritis in my toes, that's not the problem causing me so much pain. I have bone spurs. The cartilage is gone and I have bone rubbing on bone. I never knew that I have no mobility in one toe. It was so obvious when the doctor yanked on it and I nearly went through the roof with the pain. That's when I realized I could not move it. I never knew. He prescribed Celebrex---until I decide to have surgery which is the permanent "fix." I also didn't know that Celebrex was $258 for a one month supply! I guess that's technically 6 things I've learned this week.

Actually, I could go on and on. I learn stuff all the time.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

There's Nothing Like...

....surprises in the mail!

 Erin, one of my fellow AYMers sent me this goodie package---the results of her antiquing. It will all show up in the kits now and then. Thanks, Erin! I love it all!

The postcard project continues. I received two this week.
This one is from Serena in Australia. I've never been there, so this was a nice overview of tourist attractions.
This one came from Ruth in---guess where? London---one of my most favorite places!

I have really enjoyed this postcard project. It is so much fun to get mail from around the world!

It's definitely been a week of happy mail! Keep it coming!

Just Another Competition

I've mentioned before about how competitive this family is. Well, Stephanie and Nicky came up with a good idea and it's "game on."

The Eads Family Fitness Challenge started last Monday. Stephanie outlined the rules and we put our teams together---Stephanie and Nicky; Butch and I; Mindy and Justin; Greg, Sandy, Victoria and Elizabeth. Obviously the Lapps' have the advantage with 4 on their team, but they don't have Butch!! The man WALKS the golf course!! He easily gets 10,000 steps a day. Good for us.

There are many ways to get points---10,000 steps = 1 point; 1/2 hour of non-stop activity = 1 point, 1 lb. weight loss = 2 points.

After week one---it's no surprise---Team Eads (Butch and I) are #1!!! We had a combined total of 38.5 points.

We all have FitBits, so it's easy to see what everyone is doing on a daily basis.

The winner will get $25.00 from each of the other teams. The challenge runs until the end of October. It's not really about the money. It's about being healthy!!

Here's the problem. The Lapps family arrives on Friday---for the next week. It is really hard to cook healthy foods all the time. Pretty much ALL of the family favorites are not all that healthy.

On Saturday, we've rented a pontoon boat. Usually, I would bring fried chicken, potato salad, biscuits, cole slaw and black bottom cupcakes for dessert. Here's how I've modified the menu---oven fried chicken, potato salad with low fat mayo, cole slaw with low fat dressing and watermelon for dessert. That's about the best I can do. Everything that would be easy to make and have on a trip like this were just not the healthiest choices.

Then that brings us to the rest of the week. I can control what we have at home---lots of things on the grill, but we have to forget about the regular things we usually do---we can forget the  Club for their Mexican night. We can forget about the Pfunky Griddle for breakfast or Pancake Pantry. Forget about White Castle. We are having Imo's Pizza on Saturday night and we are going to the Loveless Cafe where you can order good old-fashioned country vegetables---cooked in bacon drippings. We'll do the best we can.

It's hard. That's all there is to it.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

How Does My Garden Grow?

This mild summer has really kept things looking fresh in the gardens. Often, by now, everything is starting to burn up---especially when we are put on water restriction. 
 This is one of my tree hydrangeas. It is so heavy with blooms, you almost cannot see the trunk.
 The tree hydrangea from a distance. There's one on each side of the front porch.
Annuals are always in these front beds. There are pink, white and purple vinca with purple heart against the wall in back.
 The tree hydrangea on the other side is not nearly as full of blooms. I'm having trouble with moles here. You can see that the annuals aren't doing as well here either.
 Besides the single blue bloom of the "endless summer" hydrangea, all I have is lush foliage. At first I thought that perhaps they weren't getting enough sun, but after talking to friends, no has blooms this year. Strange. I'm going to be sure to fertilize them in the fall.
Entrance to my shade garden. I love the ostrich ferns. They are draught tolerant, disease resistant and can take sun or shade. The spread easily, but are also easy to control. The best time to take the "babies" is in the spring. If anyone wants them, I easily have a hundred or more to give away.
 Another view of my ferns. They look good anywhere.
I love to stroll through. I even have a bench to sit at, but I never do. The mosquitoes will attack.
I do enjoy sitting on the porch swing---since Butch bought the best mosquito deterrent yet---a fan! That really works. I've been able to enjoy the porch much longer this year due to the low humidity, but that is coming to an end. I sat out this afternoon for about 20 minutes. It was just too darn hot!

I have a busy week coming up---and then the Lapps family arrives on Friday. Ahhh, summers---crazy busy, but I wouldn't have it any other way!!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Noble's Goat Farm Tour

Most restaurants these days bill themselves as "farm to table." Meaning that they buy meat, cheese, eggs and vegetables locally so you know it's really fresh. Noble's Goat Farm makes goat cheese that is featured at many local restaurants. Karolyn planned an outing for us to tour it.

 The hens lay an egg a day in the summer. In the winter they lay 2 or 3 eggs a week. If all of the nests are full, they just wait their turn for a spot.
There were several chickens that "flew the coop" like this one. When we tourists got close, they hustled back inside the coop. And I thought chickens were supposed to be dumb.

It was an interesting tour. Wouldn't you think I'd have gotten a picture of the goats? I guess I forgot. I'll get a picture in two weeks when I take the family. The property was gorgeous. We lucked out with the weather too. It was hot, but not much humidity.

Afterwards, we had lunch at The Country Boy restaurant in Leipers Fork. It was a fun outing. Whoever would have thought about turning their farm in to a sightseeing adventure. Just another good way to make a few extra bucks. I think farmers need it.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday

 Mitchell and Morgan---I'm not sure what year.
He got taller!! So did she.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Some Things Need to Change

These days, a lot is being said and done about empowering women. Every where you look, you'll find videos, magazine articles, or blog articles about what we need to do to raise our daughters to be strong women. There is all kinds of advice about building self esteem. There are nation wide programs for young girls. I just hope it helps, because some things need to change.

I wish there had been some sort of movement like that for her:
This is my grandmother. I think she's beautiful! She never thought so. In fact, many of the pictures that I have of her, she had written on the back---"ugly Jennie." It breaks my heart that she never thought she was attractive. She was from a large family---eight children. She quit school after the 3rd grade to help on the farm---basically, she raised the younger kids. She was kind, generous, loving and never said a bad word about anybody. She was also bossy and freely gave advice---whether asked for or not. I like to think that I am a lot like her---at least I'm the bossy part for sure!
This is her at 32. People in the old days just looked older to me. She never smiled in pictures. I hope she just wasn't sad all the time. I would hate to think she lived her life unhappily. She found solace in her faith and passed that on to her children. She was very important to me. I still miss her.

I do hope that the changes taking place for girls today really work so that everyone feels good about themselves and realizes that there are much more important things than an outward appearance. Those things need to change!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mystery Trip

Well, it's been a whirlwind, action-packed, fun-filled weekend. I had every intention of blogging along the way, but there simply was no time. Every night it was 11:30 p.m. by the time we got back to our hotel. Here's the run-down:

We arrived in Atlanta at 10:30 p.m. We stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn----our first time. Jordan said it was the nicest hotel she's ever been in. It really was so nice---2 bedrooms, living room and full kitchen. I don't know why we haven't discovered this before now.

I bought early bird tickets for the Georgia Aquarium. We arrived at 9 a.m. and spent several hours browsing around. We ended our tour with the dolphin show.

After the aquarium, we had lunch at Panera Bread. After a brief rest, we left at 5 p.m. to fight Atlanta rush hour traffic. It took us an hour and twenty minutes to go 24 miles. We had dinner at the Harbour Bar and Seafood House before going to the theater.
I got tickets for the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.  The girls love theater, so this was the perfect thing---a musical comedy. Our seats were the best in the house---front row center. Jordan was even singled out during the show as one of the character's sister, Marigold. Another character took a liking to her---much comedy ensued. We were all in stitches.

This was our shopping day. We hit some really good sales at Forever 21 and H&M. The girls love those stores. The clothes are so reasonably priced, that you can really get a lot of bang for your buck. I also surprised the girls with a Brighton charm bracelet. I let them choose the charms---each symbolizing parts of our mystery trip.

The final surprise was meeting up with the Lapps family at Cheesecake Factory for lunch. The surprise was on both sides---although Victoria figured it out due to some pictures that Morgan posted on Instagram.

That evening, we went to the Atlanta Braves baseball game at Turner field. We all had such a good time. Morgan almost caught a foul ball. As it was coming towards us, I completely froze. I saw my life flash before my eyes. I was certain the ball was going to "bean" me. Morgan stuck her hand up and took the pain. Unfortunately, she didn't catch the ball---the lady right in front of her grabbed it. We sort of thought that was lousy that she didn't just give it to Morgan---but baseball fans are pretty die hard. All-in-all, there were 3 balls hit right to us---one two rows up and one 3 people to our right---besides the one Morgan almost caught.

 Morgan Instagramed this photo. The things these kids know how to do---amazes me.

These kids are really good with the "selfies." I think their arms have already evolved to be six inches longer than any previous generation.

 When we got back to the hotel---at 11:30, the teens hung out in our room until after 1 a.m..

We got an early start and was home by 10:30. We all had a great time and the girls loved every part of the trip---especially the "mystery" part.

One mystery remains.
Why would anyone feel the need to wheel their suitcase through the aquarium? Beats me!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Project Postcards

I signed up with my friend, Sian to participate in a postcard swap. Here's what I've received so far:
 This one came from Rinda. We'll be visiting San Francisco in September.
 This one is from Jess in England. I want to walk through her village!
My friend, Cher from Philadelphia sent this one. I love flowers!

Mine are going out today!

I'm leaving this afternoon to take these two on a Mystery Trip.
 They used to look like this---so little and sweet.
Now they look like this---big girls, but still sweet---mostly.

Both will be gone before you know it as they head off to college in August. I'm so happy to have a weekend with them. I'll be blogging our adventures from the road. All they know is that we are leaving at 2:30 p.m. Maybe we'll pick up a few postcards along the way!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Few Things

1. We saw Belle yesterday for "movie Monday." Soooo good! It's a winner---and there have been few of those lately.

2. I finished The Husband's Secret over the weekend. This is a fabulous book!! It's written in my favorite format---each chapter is a different person with a mini cliff-hanger at the end of each one. If you are in my book club, don't read it yet as I'll be choosing it for one of my picks in September.

3. I planned a project for when my sisters were here. Everyone had been saving corks. Here's what we made:

4. What a difference a week makes!
This tree hydrangea didn't even have a bud on it when we left for vacation. When we got home it was just starting to bloom. 

5. I picked up some needlework.
I made this for Mindy. Connie picked the project. She's just about finished with hers---all she has left is the background. The finished piece is about 24" tall and 10" wide. It worked up very fast because it's done on 13 count.
 The woman that did the finish work did a spectacular job.
 Here are a couple of close ups of the decorative stitches.
 Doing projects with a variety of stitches is so much fun. By always switching them up, it never gets boring. Plus, if you are doing a stitch you don't particularly like, you don't have to do it for long. 
This pill box was done by Stephanie. She turned it in for finishing months ago. You can pretty much plan that it's going to take nearly 6 months to get your needlework back---unless it's pillows. The lady that has been doing them for a few years now only takes about a month to get something back.

6. My latest AYM layout:
The journaling reads:
I have been a bibliophile ever since I can remember. I learned to read early. I read constantly. I belonged to a book club that sent me books each month. I couldn’t wait for them to arrive. My favorite gifts were books---although I pretended to my friends that I didn’t really like them---I certainly didn’t want to be considered a nerd. I don’t think a day has gone by since I learned to read that I have been without a book. I read every day. Sunday is my favorite reading day as I devote 2 to 4 hours to a good book. In the winter, there’s nothing I like better than sitting in front of the fireplace with my book. In summer, you’ll find me on the front porch swing. I have started 3 different book clubs. I really enjoy discussing books with other people. I love getting their perspectives and opinions. I read a wide variety of books---crossing most genres. I consider myself well read.

I have always loved the tactile experience of a book. It still surprises me that I could fall completely in love with my Kindle. But I have to say, with the advancement of that technology, I also love the Kindle app on my iPhone. Now, I am NEVER without my book. The only problem I have with my Kindle is the guilt it makes me feel. I have a beautiful library full of books---that sit idle these days. Even if I want to read one of them, I’ll end up purchasing it for my Kindle. It’s just so easy and convenient. Plus, one of my favorite features is being able to keep track of the number of books I read each year---on average---36. If I was forced to choose only one hobby in my life, READING would be it!!! I cannot live without books. Thomas Jefferson may have said it first, but it’s my sentiment exactly!

That's enough for now.