Christmas Acorns?

I was growing a little tired of the two sidebar photos I had up of the fall leaves.
So I decided to switch it to a mini version of this:

I took this picture in mid-November for my Nature Blog.  Last year we had hardly any mast, and the squirrels and other animals that depend on things like acorns had a rough winter. But this year we had a very abundant mast. And there have been more acorns than the squirrels, chipmunks, deer, etc. can handle.  Acorns of all types are everywhere! It’s nice to see.

I think the ones with the metallic silver sheen are the prettiest of all.  I photographed these 3 because they remind me of Christmas bulbs, and leave me with the feeling of a happy and festive mood.


How I spent my Thanksgiving – Part 2

This is the second part to yesterday’s post.

While they were gone I experienced a rare event in my life.


That’s right it was totally and completely quiet.  I was in the house alone for the first time in…  I have no idea how long.  The quiet was kinda nice actually.  Not at all something I would want to experience on a daily basis, but as it was – a rare and fleeting moment of only a few hours – it was pretty nice.

Now what to do with myself?

I honestly had no idea.  Sure I could have used the time wisely to write something on my blog without the typical 5,001 interruptions.  But what’s the fun in that?  LOL  Plus I just wasn’t in the mood to write, nor did I feel like typing. I finally decided that since I didn’t feel very well, and was still running a bit of a fever from the lovely little bug I seem to have picked up at the wonderful doctor’s appointment I spoke of in my previous post, that I would go back upstairs.  As I headed up the steps I tripped on my own pants.  Yep, I’m oh so very graceful.  But I managed to catch myself before breaking any more bones, so I get bonus points for that.  😉

I flipped on the TV again, knowing I would be disappointed.  I’m just not really a fan of watching television.  But… my hands hurt too bad to hold something to read, and I didn’t really feel like doing anything else.  Dr. Oz was on.  I think I’ve seen his show maybe twice before. This show was about the Top 5 something or other, the gist of which was the Top 5 important numbers to know to avoid serious health problems.  Or something like that.  I wasn’t really interested but…  didn’t want to push the buttons on the remote either.  So I was stuck watching it.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Despite the doctor I saw earlier in the week (see previous post) that seemed to be trying to make me accept a doom and gloom future, I only had ONE problematic issue of all 5.  That’s right folks.  ONE.   I was pleasantly surprised.

I forget the order he had them in, but they were having your blood sugar under a certain level, weight under a certain level, blood pressure below a certain number, waist measurement below 35 inches, and cholesterol.  And cholesterol was the only one of the five that I couldn’t say I didn’t have a problem with.  So I thought that was pretty good.  Even though my cholesterol is still high, it’s less than half what it was before my 101 lb weight loss.  And I suspect it will always run high without medication.  My father is super fit, slender, athletic, eats great, gets tons of physical exercise and has high cholesterol.  His mother was the same way.  So I think I’m probably genetically predisposed to have problems with it, to a certain extent.

So riding on my high from watching the last 20 minutes of Dr. Oz, I left the TV on for Ellen.  Ellen was funny as usual.  And she had a segment that made me laugh out loud.  A segment (modeled after the popular book and now TV show, Shit My Dad Says)  called “Sh&! my Mama says”.  And it was clips of Ellen’s real mom saying funny things. The one that had me laughing out loud was when she said she wanted to congratulate the new judges on American Idol.  “So Congratulations to Jennifer Lopez and that skinny pirate.”

(For those of you that are slow, or not keeping up on your useless entertainment news, that skinny pirate = Steven Tyler from Aerosmith.    LOL!!!)

BTW did anyone from my generation ever foresee a future where Dee Snider’s songs hocked products on advertisements, and Steven Tyler was a judge on a non-cable TV show?

But back to the topic of my super exciting day…  after the skit with her Mama ended I decided I couldn’t sit still any longer and wandered back downstairs.

I ended up doing some dishes, then going to do a light load of laundry that I could move by myself.   At that point was when I saw THE CRACK.

That’s right folks, the inside drum of my BRAND NEW dryer is cracked in two places.  The only upside to this is that it’s under warranty – or it darn well better be.  But what a pain in the butt to have to deal with!  Yet, annoyances like this seem to be the norm in my life.  So put that down on the list of hateful chores I need to attend to:  Call about dryer warranty.

After all that excitement my kids played outside in the sun, in t-shirts and pants.  On THANKSGIVING.  Awesome.  It was in the 70’s.  It sure isn’t warm now as I write this.  A cold front blowed its way in here.  But Thanksgiving was nice and warm.  Had I realized it was in the 70’s earlier in the day I would have attempted to spend more time outside.  I did get a little bit of time outside though.  Then my husband and I started to drag the kids in one by one for baths.

After bath time, we all settled onto my bed for a while to talk before everyone went off to their own beds.  That was when I realized that with the day being a little different than usual, we had almost forgotten our Thanksgiving family tradition.  Typically we do this around the table.  But this year we did it at the end of the day, piled in the bed.

I get some paper and we all take turns saying things that we are thankful for one at a time.  And we go around and around until each person has at least 10 things or more on their list.  Then I keep the lists as keepsakes.  Can I just say how much I LOVE this!!  It’s great for all of us to stop and do this.  It is so fun to look back on older lists.  And it is great to hear what the kids come up with.

Here’s a sample from my 6-year-old daughter’s list:

#5. I am thankful for having a mom and dad and not being in a kid’s shop.

When we all started laughing, she said, “YOU KNOW, where they adopt babies!”

Then we laughed some more.

Oh and just so you know, you all made my list too:

# 14.  I am thankful for the people who visit my blogs.


How I spent my Thanksgiving – Part 1

This post ran long, so I turned it into two posts.  Part Two will be posted tomorrow.

My Thanksgiving didn’t go exactly like I might have planned.  Of course things typically don’t.  LOL   I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Here’s how mine went….

I was supposed to be spending the day wearing a heart monitor.  The scheduling for that fell through, so that ended up not happening.

At the start of the day I woke up, everyone else was still sleeping peacefully and I was tired.  So I thought, what the heck, I’m going back to bed.  🙂

The next time I woke up I could barely move.  I was stiff all over and extremely so, in my hands and feet.  It was clearly going to be a slow-to-rise sort of day.  How I managed to get that stiff in the short period of time since I was up before (maybe an hour?), I have no idea.

My husband gave me the TV remote and said, “Here sit tight for a while till you can move around better.”  We don’t have cable, but we do watch DVDs and get a small handful of free channels.  When my husband tossed me the remote the channel had landed on a big famous dog show.  I doubted there was anything else on I wanted to see, so I didn’t bother to go through the pain of picking it up and trying to push buttons.  Which would have been hard at that moment.

I love dogs, but I’m not particularly a fan of dog shows.  I am most happy when the dogs do something totally unpredictable and lovably dog-like.  My personal favorite event of such a type, was when a dog stopped mid-rounds and took a big poop during it’s showing at Westminster.

So I watched, hoping for another big poop.  Or something fun of the sort.  (Yes this is the life of excitement that I lead.)

While waiting, hopeful for another big poop, I played my favorite TV dog show game.  A silly little game that I created.  “What?” you ask.  You created a game to be played during dog shows?  Why yes.  Yes I did.  It’s called, Name That Dog Breed.

In Name That Dog Breed, the purpose of the game is to look at each dog and guess what the animal shelter would write on its tag, were it to end up there.  I know, that might sound a little morbid, but trust me I don’t mean it in a morbid way at all.  I just get a kick out of the ridiculous way that animal shelters guess breeds.  I think they only know about 5 to 10 breeds and everything they see is either one of those or a mix of some of those.

Here’s how it works.  You, and whomever you are watching with, guess what the animal shelter would name each breed as the breed’s chosen representative makes its rounds.  Whomever comes up with the best guess, wins.

I’ll give you an example:

The Icelandic Sheepdog


husky/shepherd mix.


What can I say, I’m easily amused.  So I did that for a while.  And around the time my joints and muscles started to loosen up a bit, I started getting fidgety and got up.  Later I saw the kids and my husband off to go have Thanksgiving dinner with my parents.  I wasn’t able to go.  But I hear that they all had a lovely time and stuffed themselves on my mother’s delicious cooking.  And from what I hear, our baby (now 16 months old) had a great time after her meal, filling her tummy on my Mother’s homemade blueberry pie.  Which was a first for her.
Apparently she thought it was THE greatest food ever.  🙂

While they were gone I experienced a rare event in my life…..

Tomorrow I will post Part 2 of this riveting post. 😉

November 11th

I know what Nov. 11th is.  It is Veteran’s Day.  And nothing I’m about to say should be taken as a slight to our veterans.  The majority of the men in my family (including my husband, father, grandfathers, etc.) are veterans.  I have a tremendous amount of respect for those that serve our country.  I think of them and their sacrifices on a daily basis.  I teach my children to appreciate what those in uniform do and have done, to give them the life that they lead today.

But to me, November 11th will always be “Grandma’s Birthday”.   One of my grandmothers was born on November 11th. She was a very playful grandma and child-like in some ways.  When my first cousins and I were very small she would tell us with a sly smile that school wasn’t in session on Nov. 11th, because it was “Grandma’s Birthday”.  🙂

My Grandma is in Heaven now.  But no matter how old I get, when I hear “November 11th” my mind goes to the woman that kept us many weekends, let us run a muck, bought all our favorite foods, took us around and taught us about trees, flowers and birds, fed us grapes from her carefully kept grapevines – popping them in our little open mouths while she called us “her baby birds”.

It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and Nov. 11th is technically over for this year, but she’s been on my mind all day.  Like all the other November elevenths before today.  Oh what I wouldn’t give to have one more weekend with her and PawPaw. One more Friday night staying up late with my cousins, trying to be just quiet enough to not wake anyone.  One more fun filled Saturday that started with my PawPaw loudly playing his fiddle at the crack of dawn and my Gram clanging pots and pans in the kitchen.  One more Saturday to play all day.  One more Sunday morning together, listening to my Grandma sing and complain about how hot the church was.  One more Sunday dinner with my family all around.  One more game of UNO or dominos after dinner.  One more chance to hug her goodbye & tell her I’d see her next weekend.

I can’t have any of those things again.  But I thank God for the blessings in my life and the wonderful people I have been able to call family.

Yep, Nov. 11th will always be Grandma’s Birthday.

I love you and miss you dearly, Gram.


A truly simple Halloween craft to do with kids.

Most of the Halloween crafts you see articles about, involve a level of complexity that looks like something Martha Stewart would do.  Or requires the purchase of 500 items that you don’t have, while calling them “items you have around the house”.  Well, maybe at Martha’s house, but not mine.  😉

Not that there is anything wrong with Martha.  Or her super impressive crafting skills.  But I don’t have the time, health, allergy tolerance, or energy to do 95% of those things anymore.  So….  I was on the search for something truly simple.  Not simple for Martha types.  Simple enough for me.  Physically and financially.

I scoured the internet and came up with next to nothing.  If it didn’t require the purchase of a ton of items, it required too much work, or something that sends me into asthma attacks.  So…. I came up with my own.

Now consider yourself forewarned, this is not fancy.  It isn’t meant to be.  But for my 6 year old daughter and 7 year old son, we had quite a bit of fun with it.  And maybe you will too.  So I thought I’d share.

I decided I wanted to make some cut outs, of things that we could make and then hang up in the house.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the idea of hand drawing cut outs.  So I went on the search for something online that I could print out to use as a template.  I looked all over and wasn’t happy with anything I found.  Until I found this one PDF that I really liked.  I thought I saved the link to the site it was on, but apparently (as I found out when I went to write this post) I did not.

So, I looked at the PDF again because I recalled it had a website on it.  I THOUGHT this was the site I had found it on.  WRONG.  Apparently I found it on a site that took credit for this person’s work, because that is not the site I originally got it from.  Not cool.  Anyway….  I visited the website, and found the article with the PDF so that I could link to it here for you.  What is really funny is that her idea is to use the cut outs the way that I wanted to before I ever went online to find them.  (The site I got it from was using them in other ways.)  Her blog looks interesting and I am anxious to check out her blog in more detail.  But for now… here is the link for the PDF.  And her article that she posted it in.

As you can see you get 3 cute, well done little templates.  A bat, a ghost, and a pumpkin.  Which is exactly what I was looking for, so thank you Family Entertaining blog for providing a free PDF of exactly what I was searching for!

These are the items I used (you can easily substitute other things):

  • a tape measurer
  • a hole punch
  • scissors
  • string (We used black and orange yarn, because that is what I had here already.)
  • construction paper (We used Wausau Paper’s Astrobrights construction paper in white, black, and orange.)

Two things I must get out of the way here before I go any further.  1.  I am sorry for the poor photo quality.  We did this little project at night and our home has very poor lighting so…. even with my flash, night time photos are crap.  So… sorry about that.    And 2.  I simply must tell you how much I like Wausau Paper’s Astrobright’s construction paper.

I love the quality of this construction paper.  It doesn’t even feel like a construction paper for the most part.  It is much smoother, the colors are so much better.  I just really like it a lot.  Also it doesn’t stink as bad as most construction papers.  Which matters if you have severely reactive asthma like me.  It does have a mild odor, but nothing like most construction paper.  I found it by random happenstance one year when I found a pack of various Wausau Paper’s at Target, in a school supply clearance bin.  I found out how good it was and went back and got a couple more packs.  I don’t know what the typical price for it is, but generally Wausau Papers are not cheap. So it was a great find.

Ok now, back to the project.

I printed off the page from Family Entertaining’s PDF, and then cut out the 3 designs to use for templates.  Then we traced the ghost pattern on to the white paper, the bat onto the black, and the pumpkin onto the orange.  Then we cut them out.  On this paper, with those patterns I think we got 5 pumpkins per sheet, 4 ghosts per sheet, and 3 bats per sheet, if my memory serves me correctly.  😉

My kids asked if they could draw faces on their ghosts, so I said, “Sure!”

These are some of my 7 yr old son’s ghosts:

And here are some of my 6 yr old daughter’s ghosts:

Now you could use tape, and avoid poking holes in your little creations.  But I am severely allergic to latex, to the point where even minor amounts in adhesives cause me problems.  So I try to avoid tape whenever possible.  So we used a hole punch to make holes to attach them to the string.

The kids wanted ghosts and pumpkins in their rooms, so we did the ghosts and pumpkins on black yarn and we did the bats on orange yarn.  The only thing that we measured was the window, to get a rough idea of how long to cut the yard string.   But I let the kids do the measuring and cutting.

Below are some of their finished products.

Here is their ghost and pumpkin string on their window:

and a close up:


And the bats we placed in random locations throughout the house.  Like this one:

As I said from the beginning, it was a very simple little activity.  But it was one that the kids and I had fun doing together and that is all that matters!


Happy Halloween Everyone!