June 30, 2009


yesterday, i needed to add a little sparkle to our day. on a whim... i threw our lunch in a picnic basket. loaded our pond dipping nets, pails and ventilated glass jars..and announced to tommie, "we're going on a picnic and nature hunt!" we went to a local state game area, drove around the bumpy roads, laughed until our bellies hurt and couldn't stop, played the country music loud, shivered when we heard shotgun being fired (note: yellow sign above has been blasted with bullet holes!) and swatted ten thousand mosquitoes! our pond dipping nets only pulled up algae. our ventilated jars held nothing. and our pails were empty. but our stomachs and memories of the adventure were full! the best nature find of the day, was waiting on our patio when we pulled in...

June 29, 2009

W is for 16 whats?

what i'm reading: the other boleyn girl
what i listening to: the weather channel and the military training jet overhead....hoping it's an american.
what i ate for dinner last night: white fish, a salad and broccoli
what movie i want to watch: tea with mussolini
what i'm thinking about: my little children's novel and where the storyline should go....
what i should be doing instead of this: planting a leftover flat of marigolds my mom gave me, before it rains!
what i want to do this summer that i've never done before: tent camp alone in upper michigan..penning my novel, reading good books and craft projects. well, i won't be entirely alone...i'll be the only female in a group of ten. and i won't have to cook a thing.
what i'd like to learn about: soap making and candle making
what color are my toe nails: dirty red
what is my favorite song to play really loud when i'm alone: american pie. and yes, i even dance through the entire song!
what i think of michael jacksons death: inevitable.
what the highlight of my weekend was: an open house for my cousin, who's one of two hundred to be accepted into New York University Film School. He gave me these blue glasses I have on the picture! Think Hollywood Hippy!
what i see when i look behind me: two baby teeth of tommie's that he recently lost. i save them.
what was the last website i visited: of course, magpie ethel!
what i am wearing: second-hand j.jill khaki linen bibs and black second-hand tee, lots of make-up. really cheap flip-flops.
what i'm disappointed in: yesterday's church service. nothing but a children's program, highlighting vacation bible school. no sermon. just a bunch of proud grandparents and their video camera's. when i saw the direction of the service, i left. yep, got right up and excused myself... i went and sat in a sunday morning class called, "modern parables." which was thought-provoking. much better.
time to unplug and plant marigolds.

June 27, 2009

V is for very easy, very quick, very sweet craft!

this week i enjoyed making these little bath sachets! i recycled a nice piece of muslin fabric that was given to me. my friend robyn stopped by for a little chat in my gardens... i stitched while we caught up on life. we had lemonade and brownies, too. the day was sweltering hot. but listening to her recent experiences made me giggle from my belly. look up free spirit in the dictionary...you'll see her picture.

at a garage sale, i bought a jar of brand new, juniper bath salts. (see first picture) .50 cents. after cutting the muslin into strips and using a very crude in and out stitch for the flower, i used the same in and out stitch for the seam. then i filled the sachet with the salts. they'll work perfect for drawer sachets or to toss in a bubble bath. i have enough muslin and bath salts to make six more! they'll be nice extra gifts to have on hand, or a hostess gift, or even for a friend who is under the weather. we had a family get together today, and i took several with me to work on in the car... very easy! very quick! very sweet! smile, wink, nod!

June 26, 2009

U is for Underground Treasure!

we don't really like radishes. but, i do plant them for my disabled neighbor denny, who is quite fond of them. with all the humidity and rain lately...they've popped right out of the earth!

i've been saving this recipe since last summer. radish butter. it sounded interested and very easy. so.....

i whipped up three batches! tripled the recipe. and although the recipe suggests to use it in pumpernickel bread, which i'm sure is fantastic... i only had ritz crackers. of course i had to sample it...and it's absolutely scrumptious! it has just a tiny hint of the tangy flavor...yet not overwhelming. my husband who wrinkles his nose up over these underground treasures... even liked it.

i had fun being creative with lunch! ritz cracker, radish butter, turkey pepperoni topped with fresh basil. i can't wait to try it on corn-on-the-cob!

i've stored them in canning jars in the refrigerator. now, if you could stop off at the grocery store and pick up a big loaf of pre-cut pumpernickel bread, i'll share this with you while we chat out in my flower gardens! smile, wink, nod.

June 25, 2009

letter T: Let's talk trash!

Let's talk trash! I admit, I don't recycle like I should. We don't live in a community where there is a permanent recycling center. Where I live... you load your junk in your trunk and take it to a public place once a month. convenient, ugh? Add to the fact, that my husband likes things spic and span...and would honestly, rather toss in the garbage and forget about it...then have his garage or basement packed full of garbage.

for the past couple of months...i've cringed each time i throw a bottle of laundry detergent out. or a stack of newspapers. and, all the glossy junk mail. i sincerely look at it and wonder how long it will live in a landfill. then i cringe again. and wince.

my other trashy dilemma has been...where and what to store them in? i didn't want to invest in rubbermaid boxes. to pricey for trash.

at the fourth garage sale i stopped at this morning... these were waiting for me! they were in great shape, and i could see in my mind... a home in my garage for them. so, i made an ice cold lemonade...dug out my yellow paint and brush and sat under the tree and painted/labeled them. the best part is...they were $1. each. i'm hoping this will make our world a little more green.

while listening to the news about michael jackson and farrah fawcett, an incredible rain storm hit our house... look close and you can see the 1 inch hail. i love summer rain storms.

June 24, 2009

S is for silk painting out in the garden!

not my idea. i found it through a link on the crafty crow. you have really no idea how much fun this is! you know by now, i'm into those quick, easy, 1-hour and under thrifty crafts. this is exactly that! if you try nothing else crafty this summer, this is it!

it was suggested that you purchase silk-type, white fabric from joann's or walmart. i didn't. being neurotically frugal, i decided instead to buy a lined skirt from the .25 cent store (or even a garage sale). next, i used pinking shears to cut it apart into several strips.

then... pick out a few acrylic paints. i found pop sickle colors at walmart for .48 cents. (dark colored paint, was not recommended.) water the paint down to the consistency of ink (it doesn't take a lot of water!!) give it a little stir.....start designing anything with various sized paint brushes... viola'...watch the colors run and spread! amazing!

let them air dry...they dry quick! wash in the washing machine on cold... the colors do not bleed. these were all washed together in a small load...and hung again to dry!
that's it.
i'm not exactly sure what i will use them for? maybe i'll attempt to make a funky gift bag or journal cover. the site i copied this idea from made their's into ladies scarves!
what do you think i could use them for?

how about some very nice freebies? click here... it's my twisted education blog! smile, wink, nod.

June 23, 2009


6 o'clock tonight, found me with my dear friend rhonda (that's her above) traveling down a dusty country back road, with car window's open and our hair blowing...heading to a quaint little herb farm. we had anticipated this night for several months. reservations were made months ago. it included a garden-herb walk; looking for garden faerie houses, a whimsical garden decoration project, tai chi tea and black tea both with lavender syrup!

we were told to bring a variety of odd, mis-matched dishes...but, had no clear idea of what we were going to make! part of the excitement was "not knowing!" unfortunately, I didn't bring the right dishes to suit my needs.... nor did rhonda... but that didn't stop our burning desire to get home and create! we slipped right up to aco hardware, down aisle five and each bought a tube of marine goop glue. bright blue package. $8.

the idea is to make (glue together) a dish sculpture! i came right home and made this. look close, and you'll see the vintage door knob that i bought for a nickle and had no clue what to do with!! i filled a clear glass jar up with tiny pebbles....to add interest.

now imagine an odd numbered group of these sculptures, in the garden! (odd numbers make the best art statements!) i'll be making more of these...you can count on that! i'll be using the tea cup on top for water and on the plate...i'll sprinkle a little birdseed.
did you notice the letter r had nothing to do with any of this? thought so.

June 22, 2009

is it letter Q already?

three quick clicks!
(say that 10 times real fast....i dare ya!)
i've recently discovered these three blogs! be still my heart. i'm addicted to magpie ethel.
smile, wink, nod!

June 21, 2009

P is for my Pop! (and peonies!)

Father's Day. And, this is the 12th year without my dad. He was 52.

The Lord was very good to him. And, he knew it. As he often said..."this is the hand I was dealt...I'll play it out the best I can."

He had Wilm's Tumor when he was only three years old..that's childhood kidney cancer. He spent a good couple of months back in 1947 in Ann Arbor for treatment. Mostly alone. Because of the times or perhaps because his family was dysfunctional, he spent time during his recovery alone. Can you imagine leaving your three year old in a hospital all alone for weeks at a time? My heart breaks when I think about it. Perhaps that early age independence made him trust and learn to live in harmony with a grateful heart.

Perhaps that's just how he was wired.
Regardless, it is a miracle he even made it... he lived with just one kidney.

He came from a broken, divorced home. His mom left him and his three siblings alone with their dad in the driveway and split. Never to return.

At age 12 years old, he vowed to make a good life for himself, regardless of his circumstances. At 16 he left home. For good. Never, ever returned. He didn't smoke. He didn't drink. He worked..and he worked hard. Several jobs at a time.

Living with one kidney, left him unable to be hired into the union-backed $$$ auto industry. Truth is, it would of stifled his creative personality.

Knowing, someday he would need to live on dialysis, he set out to climb the ladder selling lumber in the suburbs of Detroit. He went on to hustle income and made very, very wise investment choices. He was not driven by his ego, but for the simple fact that he was a self-reliant man...wanting nothing from the government and no pity. He knew he'd live on dialysis one day and may need to buy his own machine....or not be able to work at all.

In the meantime...

He took advantage of his good health and lived well... he traveled with my mom to exotic places. And, appreciated everything and everyone. Knowing his time was probably limited. Although he never, ever discussed it.

Negativity was never an option. Not even at the end. He walked with a spring in his step. And, a giggle in his belly.

On one trip in the Caribbean, he contracted Dengue Fever, which damaged his good kidney. Soon after, he had to go on dialysis three times a day. Modern times came out with a pretty simple "at-home" dialysis unit. So, he was able to cleanse at the office or home...even shipping his equipment to a church in New England and dialysising there, so he and mom could enjoy a trip.

He went on to build his self-made empire. He put carriage sheds on the Michigan map and built several hundred in Michigan. He was the only one to build them and to this day, while many are copycats, no one has been able to duplicate them. It's amazing how we'll be traveling in the least likely places and we'll find one of his barns. It's like he's saying, Hi, I was here!"... he invested in 40 apartments and built and maintained 5 industrial factories. All of which my little 5 foot mom manages with an iron fist. She rocks! Not the easiest job for a woman.

My dad eventually (after a five-year wait), received a kidney from a six year old boy who was in a bike accident. He lived a good year or so and developed full-blown cancer. We believe it was due to the rejection medicine that he had to take.. cancer was a huge side effect. But, he had no choice.

He lived in and out of the hospital... one time when he was home and I was over to visit, he asked me to play Gloria Gaynor's, "I will survive" on the tape player. One time after immediately being diagnosed with bone cancer, he asked Brad to play a game of backgammon with him. Toughest game Brad ever had to play.

To say he was a wonderful man doesn't cut it.

He was beyond wonderful. I'm hard pressed to find the right adjective. Kind. Generous. Funny to the extreme. The best dad anyone could ever want. Never negative. Always finding the best in people.... don't get me wrong..if he needed to protect himself, he had no problem unobtrusively moving on, without burning bridges, Loved dogs. a Life Scout. Best friend to many... everyone gravitated toward him. A Godly man who had an open mind. Polished. Trustworthy. Firm hand shake. Loyal to my mom. True to his word. The best euchre and poker player ever. Patient. Liked to swear. Loved coney dogs. Didn't really like sports or hunting. Liked to read. Loved Rush Limbaugh. And, Johnny Cash, Waylon and Willie and the boys. Wore wranglers and levis and cowboy boots, nearly everyday. Loved NO-LIMIT people and radicals. Was selling me on homeschooling before I even had Tommie. Forgiving. Humble. Loathed gossip. Loved to dance. Loved Halloween. Lived his life to the fullest. Everyday was a good day. I fondly remember walking into his hospital room and just seeing his feet from the door, made me happy!

He spoke with so much wisdom. Almost planting the seeds of advice, knowing I would need to draw on them one day. And, I do....EVERY SINGLE DAY! Here's just a few things buried in my mind:

Never let an old person "in." Meaning never grow old..always stay young mentally.

You don't owe anyone an explanation.

No one wants to be around you if your negative.

Do the best with what you have to work with.

How hard is it?

Make a decsion and deal with it.

A ship is safe in the harbor, but that's not where a ship was meant to be.

Promise me you'll never be an 18 year old know-it-all.

Wear make-up!

Storms never last.

Try to act like men do.... do you ever see men standing around gossiping about their friends? Holding grudges? Nope, we just don't take all that stuff so personal.

Pull yourself up by your boot straps.

Happy Father's Day....Tom.
(I never did call him dad).
You taught me how to live. And, taught me how to die.

June 19, 2009

o is for ouch!

11:00 a.m., found me in the urgent care walk-in clinic. by the time you're done reading this...you'll probably find yourself itching all over. you see, last week i brought in bouquets of comfrey. my hands itch after i pick it..our rabbits love it and it's really good for them. on wednesday i got the idea to make comfrey salve. which called for steeping 4 cups of comfrey for 5 hours. i mixed mint in with it. and beeswax. and olive oil. the earthy aroma was sensational. i lifted the lid off the lid often and just breathed in the scent. within hours, i broke out in red welts and itchy hives just on my wrists. still the itching was unbearable and i couldn't stop. calamine lotion only eased it temporarily. the hives.. the itchy, itchy hives spread to my neck, chest, both legs and in between my fingers. itching. two nights in a row, i awoke and couldn't quit itching. how about you...are you itching yet? after contacting my good friend google, i learned that if itching occurs after comfrey is ingested, which i didn't eat, but did do my fair share of inhaling... to seek medical help immediately..something about the ingestion can cause liver damage. i grabbed "the shack," my latest read and headed to a local walk-in clinic. i was treated wonderfully and quickly. the doctor confidentially assured me i didn't have liver damage...just a bad allergic reaction. gave me an uneventful shot of cortisone in my left hip and a prescription for topical ointment and steroids in hand.. i should stop the itching very soon. the doctor joked with me and asked... how do you feel about using the comfrey salve, now? can you say..garbage can? let me know if you were able to read this post without itching or scratching. smile, wink, nod.

June 18, 2009


N: A NEST of Eastern BLUEBIRD eggs, in our bluebird box, at the back of the property. Two years in a row! And, how awesome is this? While doing dishes the past few days, I've been watching one of the new parents slurping up insects...right outside my kitchen window- then flying back to feed the babies! Sure makes doing dishes a little more pleasant!

N is for sewing notions, too! Recently, I was at the .25 cent store and picked up this vintage lace, ribbon and rick rack...4 for .25 cents. I'm not completely sure what I'll do with the ribbon. However, my cousin has her order in, for me to make more homemade gift tags. Which I really enjoy doing!

N is for the NEW book that my nose in buried in! My friend Matt loaned it to me. He and his wife, are in awe of how life changing this book is. They are both Christians and swear this is the best book they've read...outside the Bible. I'm on chapter 4. Have you heard of this book? If so what's your opinion?

June 17, 2009

M is for making the best of a rainy day!

making the best of a rainy day! pulled on the wellington's, my yellow, oversized raincoat, and wiggled my colander out of the cupboard then stepped outside to cut herbs for homemade peasant bread. today was the perfect day to have yeast bread rising and baking...with fresh herbs chopped, mixed with butter, and sprinkled on top! i took cuttings of them all.. parsley, dill, basil, sage, sweet marjoram, cilantro, garlic chives, rosemary, and oregano!

sure wish you could smell through the internet...because the house was heavenly! i made a total of six loaves and froze them all.

tonight, a pot sits on top of my stove with comfrey and mint steeping in 17 ounces of olive oil. it takes 5 hours to steep, then i'll drain the herbs off, melt beeswax in it and should have comfrey face and body cream!
in between the bread rising...i zipped up to redbox at our krogers and picked up a few movies! benjamin button, valkyrie and twilight. my intent was to cuddle down and sew while i watched twilight. the sewing never happened...didn't even get the needle threaded...have you seen twilight? then you'll understand why i couldn't take my eyes of the screen. i'm having a tough time describing my thoughts about the movie. i can only think of adjectives: twisted. wild. hot. weird. creative. serious. deep.
just one of those movies that leave you wondering. 2 thumbs up. smile, wink, nod.

L is for my leg!

L is for my leg. 11 years ago, I was diagnosed with melanoma on my left leg. If you have doubts that God exists... then you need to continue reading my story. Little bit of background... Did I abuse the tanning beds in the 80's and 90's? Yep. A lot. Was this the cause of my cancer? I don't pretend to know the answer, but I'm certain it didn't help. My doctors in Ann Arbor, seem to think it was caused from hormones during my pregnancy...since I discovered it when Tommie was just three months old. Important to know: my melanoma was red. It was the size of this "." It looked like a sore under the skin that wasn't healing. Sitting on the couch, comparing my red dot to a medical journal I had, and annoying Brad with neurotic questions... I kid you not...a voice came strong, loud and clear in my head and said, "GET IT TAKEN CARE OF, IMMEDIATELY." Like most people, myself included...Brad told me I had too much time on my hands and needed to let it go. This voice was undeniable and one not to be ignored. The next day, I happen to get into a local dermatologist. His brushed it off. In fact, he really made me feel like a lunatic.. the doctor shook his head and said.. it was pointless to remove, he was certain it was nothing, and was trying to sell me on the idea that "I would have a scar!" I insisted. He sighed and I'm sure rolled his eyes. Two days later while on the treadmill, his nurse called me and said.. "you have malignant melanoma." Just like that. All alone, with just Tommie in his bouncy seat.. I called my mom to come over. Immediately, we called my cousin (the best ob/gyn) in the Detroit area...and she instantly connected me with M.D's at the Cancer clinic at U of M in Ann Arbor. Within a few days, I was undergoing surgery to remove margins to be tested. Including lung x-rays and blood work. All came back fine. It was caught extremely early... each doctor (and you see many in Ann Arbor) were interested in how I even could find such a small thing? I'm telling you...like I told them...It was the inner voice. The undeniable holy spirit. Had I not listened.. I wouldn't be here today. My symptoms were not the norm...my mole was red and the borders were even and symmetrical. But, it did itch. Which is a big sign. I live with a four-inch scar on my leg and it is beautiful. To me. smile, wink, nod.

June 15, 2009

K is for.................

knick knacks i found at a junky yard sale...sunday after church:

an old, shabby chic door knob. i have absolutely no use for this. but it was on the .10 cent table. what would you do with it?
i also picked up this old tin pail for a dollar. i flipped it upside down in my shade garden, placed a robin's nest on top (my 2nd dad Tom, gave me the nest! thanks a bunch! love it!) and placed some old chicken eggs inside the nest!

just couldn't resist snatching up this pinky sized vase..which is holding a spring of oregano. and the clear fist sized picture, which is holding a bouquet of chocolate mint! you know something? chocolate mint is a great investment herb. it spreads like wildfire, freezes well and is so fresh and tasty in a cold glass of ice water or tea! Both little knick-knacks came from the .10 cent table, too!

other stuff? lasagna for dinner, worked on homeschool co-op lesson plans, sat in the garden and read my current read: whirlwind...i'm half way through the book and it's just now getting interesting, everything so far has been so predictable-which doesn't challenge me, listening to allison kraus blue grass music (love it. just love it!), finally rubbed on self-tanner, and i'm thirsting to get another sewing project started...but feeling clueless as to what i want to do. walmart free sample came in the mail: face moisturizer.

June 14, 2009

How to find happiness.

J is for.... Jesus, of course! Can you imagine...I found this beautiful piece at Goodwill, in the next town for just $2.? It's very heavy and made well. I think it's beautiful, how about you?
I've been watching people struggling and failing to finding happiness. I see conflict all around. Others belittling another to pump themselves up. Ego's before other's feelings. Intimidation because of personal insecurities. I hear jealousy. I can't escape gossip. I see parents raising their kids with a sharp competitive spirit and over-bearing confidence levels. I see parents and society teaching their kids "to get there's, before someone else does!" I see Christians shunning other denominations. Hate where there should be love. I see Christians blowing up over things..when grace should be granted. And, resentfulness where there should be forgiveness. I witness people doing harmful things to their bodies.... overweight, drinking, smoking and yes... I see drug use. I see excuses for such self destructive behavior being made because "nobody is perfect," or "hey, everyone is a sinner." Or you fill in the blank.
Sinners? Yes, of course we all are. The Bible says so. Should our mortal excuses pardon us or give us permission to quit striving to be Christ-like? Perhaps for some. But, I'm not buying into that. You see, the only true way to happiness and inner peace for me, is... to practice being Christ-like. The acronym WWJD? What would Jesus do? echo's in my head more often then not. Sending kindness instead of being right, choosing love instead of hate, choosing forgiveness instead of anger, granting grace instead of judgement (this is a tough one for me), finding the good in everyone instead of the bad. Eating the burnt piece of toast instead of expecting the best piece.... and not even needing to tell anyone. Expect no validation. Seeing the diamonds in the rough. I urge you...if you are struggling to find happiness or looking for your sparkle... give being "Christ-like" a try! Perhaps I've opened myself up for debate here? Perhaps you disagree. To that I say, instead of biting off my finger...look to where it's pointing. smile, wink, nod and smile again!

I is for: I am darn proud of this girl!

Saturday's letter: I


This beautiful baby graduated yesterday! She is my cousin's daughter. I was an only child and so was my cousin Jeff. We grew up together and were raised together...we're the closest thing each other has to a brother-sister relationship. We're still thisclose still today! (In fact, it was through my cousin Jeff that I met my husband Brad.) Meet my cousin's daughter. I had the good fortune of spending quality time and loved her as my own for the first several years (and them some!) of her life.

She's been racing horses since her parents could velcro her to the saddle. Needless to say, she is a spectacular rider!

I admire how her parents raised her. There was no fluff in her life. Life is what it is. Nothing sugar coated. No topic off limits. Her parents laid it all out for her at an early age. I appreciate their honesty. I see now how nothing shocks her. Nor did it ever. I believe because of this and her knowing the raw details of life...she won't be rolled over as much as someone sheltered. I've been taking notes.

Now, if I could only get her to keep coming to my church... life would all come together for her. I have a good feeling she's on the path... she'll get there. I have her seat saved, for that day.

congratulations baby girl!
so proud of you!
we love you like our own!
uncle b, shell and tommie!