Saturday, December 25, 2010

A very Merry...

To everyone on this wonderful joyful day!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

A Christmas Meme...

My first Meme which I found at A Haven for Vee

1. Hot Chocolate or apple cider?
Hot chocolate! Especially when it is made with real milk and cocoa and topped with tons of baby marshamallows.

2. Turkey or Ham?
Ham slow roasted with pineapple...Yum-O!!

3. Do you get a fake or real-you-cut-it-yourself Christmas tree?
Real!!! The local farm & garden store where we have always purchased our trees has started flocking the trees. My Grandfather always flocked their trees growing up so having one in my home is like having him here.
4. Decorations on the outside of your house?
Absolutely! Clark Griswald is our inspiration!

5. Snowball fights or sleddin’?
Snowball off a little holiday aggression.

6. Do you enjoy going downtown shopping?
Black Friday is my favorite. I would love to go to New York just for the experience. I usually buy very little but I love the excitement in the air.

7. Favorite Christmas song?
Christmas Shoes

8. How do you feel about Christmas movies?
Love them...enjoy gathering friends for Christmas movie night complete with cookies and a bottle of wine (or hot cocoa for the kiddos).

9. When is it too early to start listening to Christmas music?
July...hubby sings them in July.

10. Stockings before or after presents?
Usually before to keep my son content until it's time to open presents.

11. Go to someone else’s house or they come to you?

12. Do you read the Christmas Story? If so when?
No...we watch "Ralphie" on TBS on Christmas Eve...after church.

13. What do you do after presents and dinner?
Depends. Either go to Mom or Grams and if not heading out anywhere usually sleep :) or play with new toys.

14. What is your favorite holiday smell?
Gingerbread and the Christmas tree.

15. Ice skating or walking around the mall?
Ice skating.

16. Do you open a present or presents on Christmas Eve, or wait until Christmas day?
Christmas Day!!!

17. Favorite Christmas memory?
My husband and I cut our first tree to short so we had to put it up on the coffee table. It was the shortest fattest Christmas tree...we still laugh about that.

18. Favorite Part about winter?

19. Ever been kissed under mistletoe?
Yes...but we don't do mistletoe anymore...just might have to hang some up this year.

Hope you participate in this Christmas's fun!  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
**Edited to make the pink red...hopefully easier to read**

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hubby doesn't like leftovers...

I LOVE being in the kitchen. I enjoy all kinds of cooking and baking. I think I enjoy baking the most but then I start to think about it more and I really enjoy making soup and canning I guess I love it all. My husband enjoys my cooking but is NOT a fan of leftovers. He will take some things in his lunch the next day, but it depends on what it is. One of the meals I find so "reusable", so therefore frugal (my favorite word), is roasted chicken. I buy them when they are on sale at Giant Eagle buy one-get one because theirs are usually between 6 1/2 - 8 lbs. I purchase a couple and keep the extra in the freezer. After we are done enjoying our roasted dinner I strip the chicken. When I tell people this they usually laugh, I can only imagine the images in their minds :) But seriously...I wait until it's cool enough to handle and remove any meat I can with my hands. Yes it's messy but its the only way to get all the meat, don't forget the back meat...yes there is back meat. You can then package it in quart freezer bags to reuse another time or put it in the frig to use within the week. You can make quesadillas, cream chicken & biscuits, casseroles, etc...

But one of our favorites is my chicken dumpling soup. Its soooo easy and I think pretty healthy. The first thing I do is chop up the chicken and toss it into a pot. Then I clean about 4 carrots, chop them and toss them into the pot. You can add anything you like...potatoes, celery, parsnips. Then I add water to cover and some bouillon or stock. I am a "dump" cooker, I just dump stuff in and it mostly depends on my mood. Sometimes I stop at the bouillon and other times I add garlic and onion, this last time I added some Thyme. So whatever taste you like, dump it in.

While the soup is coming up to a boil and the veggies are cooking I mix up my dumplings. I put alot of dumplings in mine because that's what my family likes. So...I crack a few eggs into a bowl, add bouillon then flour followed by (drum roll please) cream of wheat. If you live near Amish/Mennonites you can buy it in bulk, it's called Farina (much cheaper). The flour makes a more 'solid' dumpling. I usually use 4 eggs and 1/4 cup of flour and finish with Farina. You want the consistency to be pretty thick, otherwise your dumplings will fall apart in the boiling water. But again, that's not a bad will still taste good. Once your carrots and/or vegetables are tender you can add your dumplings. Use a teaspoon and spoons small to medium sized blobs into your boiling soup. Dunk your spoon into the soup to make the dumpling slide off. After you have added all your dumplings, cover the pot, turn the heat to about medium or medium/high and let it cook for about 15-20 minutes. You want to keep a nice easy boil going. Side note~~run water in your dumpling bowl right away and let it soak. I am pretty sure Farina and cement share alot of the same properties.

This is the finished soup. If you don't eat it all that evening or if it gets too thick just add some stock or water. The dumplings tend to absorb the water, but it doesn't effect the taste. You know how noodles get all mushy and icky...the dumplings won't do that.
This is a frugal meal. The chicken is left over, you may use a cup of Farina, your veggies and some seasonings. I would say this definitely comes in as a $5 meal. You could fancy it up by serving it with some crusty bread and a spring lettuce salad. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I think I've been bitten...

By the exercise bug that is.  I have been going to the gym off and on for years. During the last 3 months I have been going faithfully 3 days a week and more lately. Monday I woke up in a grumpy mood and did not feel like being cooped up in a gym. So I dawned my shoes, jacket, gloves and iPod and down the road I went. It is exactly one mile from my driveway to the second stop sign up the road. I walked the first quarter mile, ran the next 3/4 then it was time to turn around and come back.

I briskly walked most of the way while clearing my head and getting ready to face the day. I was feeling much better and enjoying the sun on my face and the cool air against my sweaty skin. I was glad I had my phone with me because the sunrise was spectacular. I had made the perfect decision and God rewarded me with this beautiful view.

I sprinted from the bottom of my hill up to the driveway of my neighbor...the goal is my driveway. The hill is pretty steep and it was a great way to finish strong. I have recently started a Zumba class two days a week in additional to my regular work out schedule. And I have to is a total BLAST!

Frugal tip: running on the road is FREE, push-ups & sit-ups are FREE, walking in the mall is can get fit for FREE

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Utility bills....

It's incredible how much we spend each month on the essentials, isn't it?! And there is always someone calling promising to save you a small fortune if you switch to their company. You could make it an extra part time job checking on price per kilowatt or amount per unit of natural gas we use...and drive yourselves crazy in the process. However I do try to do a utility check-up periodically.

Here are two examples:

I have been with AT&T forever!  When Ohio Bell and AT&T were two different companies I switched back and forth now and then but have been locked on with them for many many years now. My Internet goes through them too because it is the only affordable option where I live. I called them the other day for a review of my account and to see if I was getting the best price. The gal reviewed my plan, my actual usage and we discussed my needs and services I could do without. Bottom line...she put me on a new plan and I was able to get rid of voice mail (which I am not fond of) and add caller ID to my office line for $8 LESS a month. In my mind that was a good thing. And it only took about a 15 minute phone call.

Garbage pick-up...a dirty necessity! During the gas price hikes my garbage bill kept creeping up and know the dreaded "fuel surcharge".  It had gotten to the point that I was paying $80 for three months of pick-up. I had noticed a new garbage service in the area and many neighbors were using them.  As a matter of fact, each week more yellow bins were showing up on the curb. So I called a friend to see if she liked them and she sang their praises. After getting their phone number and talking to a friendly lady in an office in the neighboring town I had switched my garbage pick-up for the price of $48 for 3 months. And as a side next bill was only $43.20 for three months.

I will keep giving my thoughts on where and how to save but they will be sprinkled in from here on out. I am off to organize my recipe collection. A project I kinda sorta started back here...but am going all the way this time.  Of course I will share pictures and maybe a recipe or two. I don't like posting with no pictures.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Ahhh dreaded insurance! Isn't it curious how much insurance and taxes have in common? There are as many kinds of insurance as taxes and they are all necessary and we rarely "see" our benefit from paying them. Of course health insurance has been in the news constantly  recently and we all know we are required to have it...but it can be mind boggling trying to get the best deal. Auto insurance is also required, even if it is an "old jalopy(sp?)", of which I own.

This is a case when you really do need to "hire" a professional, they're FREE don't cha know. Take the time to sit down with insurance agents (and yes I mean more than one...remember they're FREE). They can look at your policies and compare apples to apples. The ads you see on TV, especially for health care, make it sound like you can get great health care of pennies. This is typically for ONLY hospitalization and normally have very high deductibles ($10,000) in some cases. And while this can be all you need, it would protect you from losing your home for example, in the case of an emergency. But before you sit down with an agent you need to know what is important to you, what you can live without and how much you can afford to spend. Some questions to think about; do you need a prescription card, is your doctor on the plan, what about co-pays for doctor visits and are the services you normally need "covered" under the plan?

The same is true of auto insurance. Auto and home insurance is one of those things that we sign up for and keep the same company for decades and in some cases, generations. If your parents had Allstate, chances are you do to, and so will your children. I had had the same insurance company for house and cars forever! I asked on different occasions, especially after adding my teenage daughter, if we were getting the best rate agent assured me we were. And he was right, but only for the companies he was 'able to quote for'. I term I now understand. Some agents are only contracted to offer for 2 or 3 companies while others can offer from almost any.

So here is my insurance story. It seemed like every time I turned around my car insurance went up. Finally got tired of it and made some phone calls, did some online quotes and went in and sat down with an agent. I had my declaration page showing exactly what coverage I currently had. An hour later I walked out with a policy that was identical with one big was $60 cheaper...A MONTH! That's $720 a year folks...that's Christmas! It was worth the time it took...hands down. Another little tidbit, let them take it out of your account automatically (especially if you have a real live human you can deal with face to face), a lot of time this equates to another discount.

I also had them review my homeowners insurance. And to their credit, they called me a week later and were unable to even match my policy. The reason I say 'to their credit', they were honest with me. Kudos to them!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Frugal? Cheap? Whatever you want to call it in today's economy we have all been forced to be a little more frugal. I was raised in a modest. We always had food to eat, a roof over our head and clothes on our back.

During the late 80s and early 90s I think alot of people were living large. It was the era of easy and cheap credit and a time when "how much you had" defined who you were. I am sure our parents and grandparents who lived through the depression were just shaking their heads. Today it seems no matter where you look; government, school, business and even our own is tight!

I have always clipped coupons, shopped sales, bought in bulk and I am a regular at Wal-mart. But lately prices have seemed to gone through the roof. To start with ice cream is now 1 1/2 qts for the same price as 2 qts (back in the day) and a can of Lysol is $5.72...are you kidding me?! And I am NOT even going to discuss the cost of "feminine products". Would you like new sheets on your bed? Towels? How about a bra that "works"? It is unbelievable how expensive everything has gotten. That has caused me to start rethinking what frugal means and how to BE frugal.

The amount of waste in this country is astronomical. I am guilty too. We all are. How many leftovers do you throw away? Do you have any clothes, appliances or nick-nacks that you are not quite sue why you purchased them? Many of them show up in a yard sale, are carted off to a local mission or passed onto friends or relatives. How much money do you think we "give away" every year?

How much do we spend every month on wants? I am not talking about lavish gifts, diamonds or fancy cars. I am referring to dinner out, cell phones, the internet and cable. These have become the norm of today, but they take a huge chunk out of our budget every month. It is mind boggling when you really start to think of all the ways we "waste" money every day.

I started back at the gym several months ago and I am seeing slow and steady changes in my body and my mind. I am ready to send my family budget to the gym! In the next few weeks I will be bringing to you my ideas to save a few dollars and even find a few that are already hiding in your budget. 

I will close with a couple websites that have helped to inspire me to be more frugal. Happy saving!

Do you think you could feed your family a healthy and nutritious meal tonight for $5? No you say? Check out THIS site to learn how.

One of my favorite blogs that offers great tips and reminders that our wealth should never be measured by our pocket book.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere...

Ahhh, autumn!!! My favorite season! The falling leaves crunching under my feet, juicy apples ripe for the picking, the warm sun followed by the cool evenings made for sleeping...what's not to love. And of course, the foods of fall; apple dumplings, pumpkin pie, caramel apples, pumpkin cookies, roasted vegetable medleys...I could go on and on.

I enjoy canning todays treats for winter and early spring consumption when 'cabin fever' is making us all a little glum. My family love many treats made from pumpkin. Hubby's favorite is pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (acquired from my 1995 Country Woman magazine), the kids love pumpkin cookies and I just love anything pumpkin...even when roasting them I take frequent ensure goodness, of course.

Preserving pumpkin is probably one of the easiest things I can, and inexpensive too.  Our local farm markets usually have small pumpkins, usually labeled pie pumpkins. Locally they are .29 a pound. I purchased 20 pounds and netted 22 cups of roasted flesh.  When you get your pumpkins home you will want to wash them, remember they are grown in a field :-)

Then I use a serated knife to cut them in half and scrape out the seeds. I seperated alot of the seeds out and after washing them in a strainer coated them with salt and pepper and roasted them in the oven til sons favorite. After all the pumpkins are halved and cleaned place them cut side down in a jelly roll style pan that has a layer of water in it.  The water keeps them from drying can add to the pan while they are cooking. Be careful not to have too much water so when you pull them from the oven the hot liquid doesn't spill and burn you.

I roast them at 350° until they are soft and you can pierce them with a fork. I would estimate 45 min to an hour. Remove them and allow to cool a bit. They will be mushy and very easy to scrape the flesh away from the rind/skin. You can use a potato masher or blender or food processor to obtain the smoothness you prefer.

Now you only need to decide what to turn your puree into and for me the list is long. I made cookies and muffins, canned several pints and froze some for pumpkin roll at holiday time (premessured for the recipe). You could also mix some puree with some brown sugar and put in a baking dish, top it with marshmallows and bake until lightly golden for a healthy and delicious side dish.

Before the season is over I will be roasting more delicious pumpkins. Thank you for stopping by.

What's your favorite food of the season?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

You are never too old...

Well our racing season is coming to a close.  We have two points days left for Jon...unfortunately it doesn't look good for him to win the championship.  While not all hope is gone the mountain got a little steeper today :(  The boy ahead of him (by 3 points) won first round and Jon lost.  He was sooo heartbroken, as was I.  The season was going so so good and then the last couple races have been a struggle while the kid in the lead has been on fire...he won the last 3 events.

But there was a bright side to the day.  My Grandma and her beau Ken came to watch him race.  My Gram is 80 years old an has never been to a drag strip.  It was nice to have her there to comfort Jon after he lost.  He will have that memory with him forever...since we can't have her forever (no matter how badly we want to).

Gram said she would come back that she thought it was pretty neat.  I'm not sure if she would like the noise of the big cars but she didn't seem to complain about the juniors (which can be quite loud). If you are as blessed as I am to still have a grandparent I hope you love and cherish them as much as I do...

Friday, August 6, 2010

Why do you Blog?...

What a beautiful morning it is today in northeast Ohio.  In my opinion, it hasn't been the best of summers.  The temperatures have been in the upper 80s to the mid 90s and the humidity has been intense.  The greatest part about summer is having the windows open, airing out the house and being able to do all sorts of outdoor activities.  Wether its gardening, baseball, bon fires, exercising or just chatting with your neighbor in the back yard...its NOT being cooped up in the house like we are most of the winter.  But when the air is so heavy you can't breathe...into the house we go...YUCK!!!  I have been feeling like a caged animal...who would've thought cabin fever is a summr ailment?!

One of the things that has helped is my morning ritual of reading my google reader and catching up with my blog buddies. The blogs I follow certainly show my diversity.  There are blogs about crafting, gardening, family, cooking, weight loss and religion on my "follow" list.

A few years ago I heard people using the word 'blog' and I didn't even know what it was.  By definition blog is short for weblog and means a journal written on-line and accessible to users of the internet. Sounds so boring doesn't it...I think the definition should be a place to make new friends, visit with old, learn something new, laugh, cry or vent.  I wanted to share a couple with you that I really enjoy.

My Mom is a great card maker and is a designer on many 'card teams'.  Her beautiful creations can be drooled over at her site called Dar's Crafty Creations. While she lives in the 'burbs, was raised in the country...she is a vintage girl at heart.

Peggy over at Hidden Haven Homestead is a lady with a gigantic heart of gold. We share a love of animals and living simply.  I enjoy reading her stories and her occasional rants...glad I'm not alone.

If you are struggling with every day things or faced with a devastating illness or loss...stop over and see Sara at Gitzengirl.  You will be inspired...I promise!  She counts her blessing every single day, and challenges us to do the same. She has every reason to be sour, angry and just plain nasty...but she is the exact opposite.  Just make sure you have a cup of coffee and a tissue when you will want to stay awhile.

And the last blog I want to share today is Shelley's.  She embarked on a weight loss journey and was gracious enough to share every step with us...complete with pictures.  So many of us have 10, 30, 50, 100 or more pounds to lose and wonder how will be ever get started...or stick with it.  It feels like a prison sentence.  When you read My Journey to Fit you will realize it is FREEDOM from prison, and it IS do-able. If only Shelley lived down the street...sigh.

I have many more that I follow and enjoy...which of course you can visit via my list on the side bar. Blogland...what a wonderful place.  You don't have to even do your hair...hehe.

What's your favorite blog(s)?

Friday, July 30, 2010


One of my greatest joys is being in the kitchen.  I love cooking, baking, canning...creating.  I'm definitely more creative in the kitchen than in my craft room.  After I sorted through all of my old magazines I pulled out several recipes I wanted to try.  My family LOVES blueberries.  When my daughter was itty bitty she used to stand at the refrigerating repeating 'buberries, buberries'...they were a must on camping trips.  I have always enjoyed them in muffins and bagels but lately have been enjoying them fresh.

Blend up some fresh or frozen stawberries with some lemon zest, lemon juice and sugar.  Add some fresh blueberries (do no blend them).  Now you have a wonderful versatile snack.  Spoon it over some yogurt and top with granola...easy tasty parfait.  Or, if your like me, and you don't like the fruity goodness with extra granola...what a refreshing healthy snack.

I usually freeze blueberries for muffin and such in the winter, but one of the recipes I had to try was for ice cream.  That's right...homemade blueberry ice cream!!!  I took the opportunity to take some pics along the way so I could share the recipe with you.  The recipe is from Alma Mosher and was published in the May/June 2004 edition of Country Woman.

There are only 4 simple ingredients:
4 cups of fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups of sugar
2 tablespoons of water
4 cups of half-and-half cream

Combine the blueberries, sugar and water in a large saucepan.  You will be tempted to add more water...don't.  Just start at a medium heat and stir them around every few minutes.  The directions say to bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (uncovered) until sugar is dissolved and berries are soft.  As I stirred them I would mush the berries a little.  The whole process probably took about 20 minutes.  But, as usual, I was doing this while I was doing 3 other things so I'm no real sure.

Next I strained the mixture and discarded the seeds and skins.  I did this using a mesh strainer and the back of my spatula.  You could use cheesecloth or a food mill too.  I might leave the berries in it next time (will just have to make sure all the stems are off first)...I think the family would like that too.

Last step for today is stir in the half-and-half.  Cover it and refrigerate it over night.

Good morning...time to make the ice cream!  You will need an ice cream maker of some sort.  New fangled electric or old fashion crank...whatever you have available.  Fill your ice cream make 2/3 of the way full and process according to mfg. directions.  I have a krups maker and you simply turn it on, pour mixture in and let it run for about 20-30 minutes.

You can either enjoy your ice cream soft from the maker or let it harden up in the freezer for a bit.  Either's a little taste of Heaven.  While homemade ice cream may not be "cost effective" it is certainly worth the minimal time invested.  We are already brainstorming about what flavors we can come up with...I think banana is next!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Preseving summer...

I haven't had the time to can very much in the last couple of years.  So, I am taking advantage this year.  I made a trip to White House Fruit Farm yesterday to see what all local produce they had availabl.  Boy was I surprised!  They already had beautiful purple beets by the peck, prickly cucumbers overflowing their baskets and tender string and wax beans pile high in their bin. They also had, not only the classic Bing cherry, but some shiny yellow/pink Ranier's as well.  Less than 20 minutes and my cart was overflowing with goodies.

I know some people wonder why I can.  I hear..."but you can buy pickles at the store" or "you're not saving any money" or "that's so much work".  Yes it is alot of work, but I enjoy not only the process and hearing that distinct "pop" but seeing the look on my family and friends faces in the middle of winter when they taste a beet that 'tastes' like a beet.  Or my kids rationing their pickles to make the last until next year. (you see they could eat a quart a day, seriously...and we won't even talk about the peppers).

For those of you who have never canned I will give you a very basic (shortened version) tutorial.

The two most common sizes are pints and quarts coming in regular or wide mouth size.  I have come to prefer wide mouth.  They are easier to clean, pack and get the goodies out of later.  I have also recenty developed a fascination for the half-gallon sized jar.  I actually saw some at the vegetable market, so I must not be the only one.  However, I found they do NOT fit into a regular sized canner.  The two most important words in canning are...HOT and CLEAN.  Those two ingredients are essential for safely preserving your bounty.  Along with your jars you will need 2-piece lids, they consist of the lid and the ring.  You can reuse the CANNOT reuse the lids.

You will also need a canner w/ rack, wide-mouth funnel and jar tongues...a Ball Blue Book is a great idea as well...I still use mine.  Now all you need is water and your bounty.  Some recipes are very involved and require alot of time. i.e. pickles, chutneys, jams  Other recipes are basic without a whole lot of preparation.  For example beets.  Just wash them and boil them until the skins come off (and they slide right off) then you slice them to your desired size or leave them whole, pack in jars with a little salt, pour boiling water over and process.

Process...I know...what's that?!  After you have your bounty packed in their jars with their lids and rings on.  Ooops, almost forgot...warm up your lids in a small pan of HOT water.  This softens up the rubber ring so they will conform to the jar and seal.  Now put your jars into your canning rack in your canner that's about 1/2 full of water.  Water level will change depending on if your using pints or quarts and how many.  I usually start with 1/2 full and then add after my jars are submerged. AFTER the water comes to a boil you start your timer for however long the directions say, usually anywhere from 15 to 35 minutes.  When the timer goes off, life out your jars, place on a towel and wait for the "pop"...this sound tells you the jars have sealed...and that's a good thing!  That "pop" can take several minutes to an hour, so don't panic.  As the jar cools it pulled down the lid, so it does take a little time.

That's basically all there is to hot water bath canning.  This is a great tool for people with health issues or those wanting to eat organic.  You control the ingredients.  Say you are watching your sodium...if you make beets don't put any salt.  Or control the sugar.  While there are some recipes you have to follow to a T, most have some room for playing (those are my favorite). 

Canning can also be a holiday saver..REALLY!  I like canning my own pumpkin puree.  We enjoy not only pie but bread, muffins and cookies made from pumpkin. Last year there was NO pumpkin on the shelves of local grocery stores due to some flooding down south.  My family did not have to go without their pumpkin goodies! And afterall, what would Thanksgivng be without pumpkin pie?!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pay it forward...

In the midst of trying to decide whether to have a yard sale or not I received a blog update that kind of made up my mind.  My Mom lived in Toledo for a few years and still has very good friends who live there.  A few months back they were hit with horrible tornadoes, causing quite a bit of devastation.  Here is just a small way we could help.  Sometimes the smallest things offer the biggest comfort.

God Bless...hope everyone is having a happy day!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wow, now that's a giveaway...

I new gadget! I know you think you don't have room, or you already have a machine that does that...but the Silhouette is totally amazing...and they're giving one away!  Check out Little Birdie Secrets for the details.  This Wednesday is the last hurry.  Good Luck!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Loving My Country Family & The Country Life...

I have been blessed to come from a very large extended family.  My Great Grandma Eva (and Pop, too) had 12 living you can imagine how the family has grown as the generations have replenished.  We have a family reunion every year and for the last two months have had a cousins breakfast the first Friday of the month.  We are a loud, opinionated, comical, caring bunch!  If you want to really know how it is, ask one of us.  If you need help on the farm, ask one of us.  If you need a friend, ask one of us.

My day started seeing this little bird sitting in the grass.  His Mama must have decided today was the day he was going to learn to fly.  He has a sort of gruff kinda look to him.  We kept an eye on him throughout the day and he would flit around from place to place and eventually learned to take flight.  I think he's a sparrow, but I'm not quite sure.

After breakfast we went to Cousin Nancy's house to discuss updates to the Family Cookbook.  Which is sooo much more than a cookbook, it's packed with pictures, stories and geneology.  It's a treasurer!  We finished it in 2004 and wanted to update births in the family as well as any additional stories or recipes anyone wanted to share.  We plan to update every 5 years from here on out.  I LOVE my Cousin Nancy's home.  It's a century home located around the corner from my Grandma and Aunt in some of the most beautiful country in the world (in my opinion)!  I couldn't resist taking a picture from her beautiful front porch and then, of course, her beautiful front porch.  To sit on their front porch with a cup of coffee, feeling the gentle breeze flowing, hearing the tractor make hay in the distance...yep, that's what I hope Heaven is like!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It's outta here... I understand how "hoarders" are born.  Yes I know there are professionals who disagree and say hoarding has something to do with how we're "wired" or something like that.  But, we have all walked into a relatives house in the later years of their life and wondered "why do they have all this 'stuff'?" 

I believe it all happens quite innocently and at a snails pace.  Before you know it you have piles of "stuff" around you, every closet and basket is full and overflowing.  The task becomes sooo overwhelming you decide to ignore it rather than sift through years of magazines, recipes, pictures, clothes, etc...  Well before it gets that far, I decided to nip it in the butt - as they say.

Clothes are not usually a problem.  When you have growing kids, you go through their closets at least once a year, usually twice.  My closet is next...if its too tight, not been worn in a year or out of's outta here!   I'm always amazed at how many t-shirts I give away and the next thing I know...t-shirts...lots of t-shirts! How does that happen...grrr.

Paper, paper, PAPER--everywhere!  I LOVE trees, hate paper! I LOVE magazines, hate paper!  I LOVE getting the mail, hate paper!  In my house it's known as the paper tiger. He sneaks up behind you and before you know it "he's" on top of you and you can't breathe.  Well, NO MORE! I have gotten my mail under control. When I get the mail I immediately go through it and either throw it away (sadly most of it goes bye bye-what a waste of resources) or put it where it needs to go.  Magazines, however, have been a problem for me.  First of all, you cannot throw away a magazine that hasn't been read from cover to cover. Fail...yes you can...its ok, the magazine police aren't coming to arrest me!  After some inspiring words from my friend Lana, I knew I could tame the magazine tiger as well.  I was/am committed, and I succeeded!!!  I went through 15 years (yes FIFTEEN) years of magazines and tore out recipes and articles I wanted to keep, mostly recipes from my Country Woman. I reduced stacks of magazines (probably 8 feet) down to just a 1/2" stack. I have been receiving Country Woman Magazine since 1995, and I absolutely love it.  Which was probably why I still had every issue since 1995.  I must admit, I feel better. I will be organizing them into a binder.

But first, I'm going through my crafting office.  I'm weird.  First I have to purge everything, and then I can get my creative juices flowing to create my recipe binder and start crafting again.  It's coming along and I will share more pictures as it all "comes together".

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A first for us...

My dear friend, Beth and I used to work the Vacation Bible School kitchen together at her church.  Their VBS is the biggest in the area, usually have between 150 and 200 children.  We had so much fun coming up with menus, making wagon wheels out of rice krispy treats and fellowship the entire time.  That was about 6 years ago (but we "worked" together for about 3 or 4).  Beth and I are still good friends, although we don't get to see each other as much :( 

Every year on the last day of VBS they have a little carnival for all the participants.  They have blow up slides and bounce-a-rounds, cotton candy, hot dogs, snow cones and lots of games for the kids to play (prizes are candy)...and its all FREE.  Oh almost forgot..they also have a full band that plays Christian rock music, very cool.

Well this year Beth asked me if we could bring the Camaro out because they were wanting to have a small car show to go along with the Dad something to look at too.  Of course, we agreed!

This was our first car show...and I have a feeling it will be the last!  Frank was extremely uncomfortable with people getting too close to his car, especially the little ones with snow cones in hand.  However, it did allow time for the guys to sit and visit, tell old hunting and racing stories...that's always a good time.

The black cherry 1967 Camaro w/ the picture in front is ours, the green Monza is Beth's husbands and the blue truck (my personal favorite) belongs to Beth's Father in Law.

Friday, June 25, 2010


A beautiful friend of mine (thanks Ma) invited us to her lovely home yesterday to craft.  She has extended an invite before, but I was never able to accept.  My daughter, Mom and myself arrived a little before lunch yesterday. 

When she opened the door we were greated by her gentle giant, Brody.  Unfortunately I didn't get any pics of Brody.  He is the size of a large laborador but with the colorings of a border collie, with soft fur to match.  He immediately took a liking to my daughter...probably because she plopped herself down in the doorway and began petting him...and didn't stop for the next 20 minutes.

Lana gave me the grand tour of her home...absolutely beautiful!  Simple, clean, very welcoming!  Lana is very very creative.  Example, in her master bath she bought two fabric shower curtains so she would have enough to make the style of shower curtain SHE wanted plus matching curtains for the windows.  She made the quilt/bedspread for her bed, so pretty.  Also inside her entry way is an old-fashioned crank phonograph player, and it still works!

I love everything country and her house is right up my alley! Everything matched, was clean and put away and it was sprinkled with antiques...what's not to love!

Now I have to tell you my favorite part aka le pista resistance'!!!  Her crafting room!  So organized and functional.  I guess this is the feeling people had when the Beatles came to town.  I want my entire world THIS organized!!   Not only did everything have a place, it was in its place, labeled and still looked inviting...not utilitarian.  I was so inspired I didn't make a single card but I cleaned out and sorted my scrap paper box...yeah!  I think the thing that most impressed me was while she purchases everyday things from the store for storage and/or decoration she alters them to work the best in her situation (take the 2 shower curtains for example).

Her craft room is probably 10 x 12' and the amount of crafting material and tools that are not only stored, but easily accessible in her room...WOW!  I could go on and on (obviously)...I didn't even tell you about her creations adorning the walls in her basement aka friend crafting studio. 

Lana and my Mom are both wonderful, crafty women...if you would like to check out their blogs just click on their names.  I hope you are inspired, just as I am.  Right now I'm going to go through a few more (of many many) magazines to pull out the articles I NEED and pitch the ones I don't.  Happy Organizing!!!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Stitches in time...

As many know I have many many interests; paper crafting, baking/cooking, reading, animals, family and so on.  Life is so short, shouldn't we try to enjoy as many "things" as we can?!  I used to sew alot when the kids were smaller.  I enjoyed home decor mostly.  Made all the curtains in my living room (there are 7 reg. size and 2 small ones), small lap quilts, speaker covers...things like that.  Also made a few outfits for Mo, some PJs for the family one year, too.

My sewing machine has been closed up in its cabinet for a few years now.  All I sew lately are buttons.  Kinda miss it actually.  My blog following list reflects my many interests.  This morning I happened on one who decided to turn her passion for creating into a many women (and men) have done.  After all they say if your passionate about what you do, you'll never "work" a day in your life.  She has a great giveaway going so if you're curious why don't you stop over at the Princess' Blog  I'm planning on buying the Old Blue Eyes pin...very pretty!

Have a wonderful day everyone...take time to enjoy something your passionate about today, we never know what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

Wow...the weekends sure do go fast.  My dear hubby has been working 12-hour days at work the last 2 weeks, and it's expected to continue for at least another 2.  Therefore, we decided that after racing we would pile into the motor home and head south for an overnight camping trip.

The kids and I spent the week washing, waxing and stocking the motor home with yummy supplies.  If we would've gotten stranded it would've been at least a week until we were hungry...hehe.  We had cereal and donuts, sausage and eggs, taco salad fixings, steak and corn on the cob, dried meat - cheese & crackers, hot dogs, chips, strawberries and cherries, candy and lots of water.  While Frank & Jon were racing (Jon is tied for the lead again, yeah!)...Mo and I got everything ready to go. Of course, Sidney thinks she's driving...her favorite spot in any vehicle!

Getting home from racing and down to the camp site was questionable for a while.  First the van blew a tire just as they got off the exit ramp (close to home).  So after a quick change, we got the van and trailer home.  The guys got a quick snack since it was now about 2 o'clock and they hadn't eaten yet.  Then we loaded the last few items (toothbrushes, blankets, dog...stuff like that), and headed on our way.  Unfortunately, as we were going down the hill from our house Frank radioed me on the talkers (aka walkie talkies) that he had no brakes.  Back to the house...  After about 2 hours and a trip to several stores to find the right size compression fitting (3/16 NOT 7/32)...we were off again.  This time we made it!

We stayed at a different camp site this time.  With the exception of two pop-tents we were all alone...and I never saw the people who owned the tents.  We set up camp, built a fire and got food ready.  The kids went for a little walk..not too far (Morgan isn't as adventurous as Jon...he got "lost" for about 3 hrs last fall and was "rescued" by some horseman).  Mo brought me back a fist full of daisies...the lake they went to see was surrounded by them (white and yellow).

Sunday morning we (I) awoke early and started the fire and read for a while enjoying the peace.  Only the sounds of the birds, the wind rustling through the trees and the water rushing over the hillside greeted me.  So much better than trains, cars and barking dogs. The only thing that could've made it better was if I would've remembered my coffee, grrr.

So after our yummy breakfast we went for a beautiful walk.  Mother nature sure knows what she's doing!  A beautiful little pond complete with a beaver dam.  Our path took us through where the beavers gathered their wood.  It was fun imagining them "cutting" down a tree, hoping on board and riding it down the hill to the water...too many pixar films for the Franjko's.  Deer prints were everywhere.  Big ones accompanies by itty bitty ones...we didn't get to see any Mama's with their speckled babies though. 

The woods were spectacular.  The sound of babbling brooks, sun reflecting off the underside of healthy green leaves from the lake below, flowers of all colors, wild raspberries and butterflies chasing one another around.  So calming and relaxing...renewing.

Next we headed to the shooting range.  The guys are hunters with a passion for weapons...they are hunter gatherers after all.  Jon brought along his .410 and Frank brought his new "toy".  We only spent an hour was very sunny and I didn't lather on the SPF 70.  Back to the shade of our camp.

Our last meal at camp consisted of pepperoni roll hobo pie and hot dogs.  Then it was time to pack up and head for home :(  Fortunately we made it home with no problems (unless you count stopping for the dog to throw up--we did on the way down too)  We finished our wonderful Father's Day with strawberry and banana shakes along with our meat, cheese and crackers. 

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Graduation day...

What a wonderful day!  We celebrated Morgan graduating from high school.  Band has been a huge part of her life since 5th grade.  The Seniors always play a song with the band during commencement and then their final parade is Memorial Day (tomorrow).  It's sad to see her clarinet sitting alone on her chair.

Such a great group of young people the class of 2010 turned out to be...compassionate, entertaining, amazing. I hope to get to see where some of them end up.  Seems weird to watch them grow from pre-school and realize you may never see them again.

After graduation we enjoyed dinner w/ Nanna and PapPap at the Olive Garden, graduates choice.  Two more weeks until the graduation party...going to be a fabulous time!

Congratulation Morgan and the entire Class of 2010!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


No, I'm not complaining about the heat.

A small, red 5x5" book gave me the inspiration I need. Well, actually the words contained inside did!  It is time to make some big decisions and commit to them! I know what I want, what I need.  In this case they are one in the same.  I need to get, be and stay organized.  I need to continue building my clientele.  I need to lose weight. I want to spend more time with friends and family, craft and organize my recipes.

I remember as a young girl sitting at the top of a hill on a make-shift go-cart.  My Uncle coaxing me to "drive" down the hill. To help set the scene...I was probably 7 or 8 years old, we were in the "stripper cuts" (you know the land where they had stripped for coal) aka our playground, and the hill was probably 4 feet high.  I was terrified, but needed/wanted to go down that hill. I finally did! WOW, how exhilerating and empowering. 

I remember after I was pregnant with our daughter being terrified...wondering what I'd gotten myself into, would I be able to handle being a parent.  Now as my daughter is getting ready to graduate, I realize YES...I was/am a good parent.

So many things in my life have given me pause.  Fear, doubt, unknowing...all crippling emotions.  Now its time!  It's time to drive down that hill.  It's time to rid my world of the things weighing me down and holding me back.  It's time to spread my wings...and SOAR!!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

It's been a month...really?!

I knew it had been awhile since I posted...but I didn't realize it had been over a month.  Hopefully that will change very very soon!  I have been self-employed for several years now, as well as working anywhere from 24 - 30 hours at another person's company.  Well, this Thursday will be my last day working for someone else...woohoo!  I will be devoting 100% to MY clients, children and home!  The long hours I have been working have had a poor affect on my family.  While they've been very supportive and haven't said much, after awhile it begins to show.  We have always been a tight family...dinner together most every night, hobbies together...just TOGETHER!  The last 2 years especially we've slowly lost all of that together time...well not anymore! 

So while I haven't been blogging...I've thought about blogging..LOL!  Below are pictures and stories to prove it :)  The last month has been very very busy, as the last month of school usually is. This time it's a little different, it's Morgan's last year of high a matter of fact, Friday WAS her last day!  Jonathan has started to express an interest in baking, especially chocolate chip cookies. And thanks to The Recipe Society I now have a great recipe, no more of those flat ones produced with the "recipe on the bag".  He followed the recipe, mixed all the ingredients and baked them...with just a little help from Mom, someone had to taste test them :)  There's just something about fresh homemade cookies in the house that makes it feel like HOME!

Morgan's been so busy, too busy, Senior prom, projects, talent shows, parades, graduation practice...I could keep going...and did I mention she's also been working 3-4 days a week. The greatest hi-light was Mo's talent show, but to save space I'm going to refer you to my Mom's Blog because she did a great write-up on it...I'm sooo bad.  The band marched in the parade to kick off our street fair, Morgan is the field commander with the white bandana more parade to go the she's done...sad :(

And to remind all of us that our house and home will not be neglected, we lost one of our 100 year old maples on the Saturday before Mother's Day.  Morgan learned how to drive the ole' Ford 8N, we spent 4 days turning that beautiful old tree into firewood and a bonfire...sad.

Last, but not least.  The school had it's annual Spring Arts Festival.  This is where the choir sings, the bands play and all the artwork the kids have made is displayed.  Both kids performed, first time on stage in the same night...and last :(  Jonathan made a pencil drawing of Frank's camaro launching off the starting line at is stick figures don't look that good.  More together time to come...I CAN'T WAIT!!