Sunday, January 31, 2010

Written on Rice

While I was organizing my jewelry yesterday, I found something that brought me back quite a few years…

In 1997,  Jay and I took our kids to Disney World in Florida.  It was a wonderful trip.

While we were at musical dinner theater one night, we came across a man who wrote on rice.

He wrote my name on a grain of rice.  Then, I asked him to write my kids’ names on a grain of rice.

He wrote Justin on one side of the  grain of rice.


And he wrote Jelisa on the other side of the grain of rice.


I bought this small grain of rice, preserved in glycerin in a tiny glass cylinder, sealed, hanging on a silver chain.

I wore it every day for many years until the chain broke.   It was one of my most treasured pieces of jewelry.    I’ve found a new silver chain so I can again start wearing this grain of rice with these most precious, but all grown up, names around my neck.

Isn’t it funny how such little things can mean so much?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Jewelry Organization

My jewelry was a mess! I had everything piled on a shelf in my closet. I don’t have lots of expensive jewelry but I do love long necklaces. (I once heard that wearing a long necklace can make you look ten pounds thinner and I’ve been hooked since then!) I also like dangly earrings. I have to wear a uniform for work but every other chance I get, I wear girl clothes and jewelry.

I have been thinking about ways to organize my jewelry and decided that hanging necklaces and earrings from cup hooks and eye hooks would work well for me. I bought a two by four to use for my project, which I was going to hang in my walk in closet. Before I got started, I came upon this oak-framed mirror in the thrift store and knew I could make this project so much better.

I paid twelve dollars for this mirror. I almost didn’t want to use it for this project because it is so nice. But I did.


I added eye hooks across the top and cup hooks across the bottom. My husband helped.

004 When working with oak, it’s best to make a pilot hole to screw in the cup hooks and eyes. Oak is hard. I put the eye hooks about one inch apart and the cup hooks about two inches apart.


I wanted the necklaces to hang down from the bottom and the earrings to be at the top so I could use the mirror when I was putting my jewelry on.


I ended up putting some necklaces over the eye hooks at the top because I had more necklaces than I realized.

I haven’t put it up yet but knew that it would be difficult to take photos while it was mounted on the wall so I put my jewelry on it while it was propped on my dresser to take pictures.

I piled bracelets over the big hooks that were already on each side. 020

I think this is going to work perfectly for me!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Grandma’s Gnarly Plant Stand

My Grandma had a plant stand in her house that was unusual. I must have made a comment at one time that I liked it.

A number of years ago, Grandma sold her house and moved into assisted living. My mom told me that Grandma was giving me a plant stand, because I liked it. Truthfully, I didn’t remember exactly what plant stand she was talking about.

My first thought when my mom brought the plant stand to my house was “Oh my, where am I going to put that thing?” It was a big, very heavy, gnarly tree branch with log slices mounted on it to hold plants. I didn’t think it went with my house; I brought it in anyway. Surprisingly, I really liked it as soon as I put it in my house. It seemed to be just the thing my family room needed to keep it from getting too stuffy.


It makes my home unique and interesting. I’m guessing no one has one exactly like it. I’m so glad my Grandma gave it to me. I need to ask her where she got it. There might be a story, or she may have picked it up at a garage sale - furnishing our homes from garage sales finds is a family trait, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

017It is in a north window in my house , and is the perfect place to keep my geranium blooming (just barely) all winter.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Books I Read in January

I read four books in January.

  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes by Diane Chamberlain
  • The Doctor’s Wife by Elizabeth Brundage

My favorite read in January was “The Help” by Kathryn Stockett. This is one of the best books I’ve read in years. It’s set in the early 1960’s in Mississippi and tells the stories of three women. Two of the women are black maids and the other is a white woman who is a recent college graduate. The book explores relationships between women, class and race. It was interesting to read about the civil rights revolution from this viewpoint and I really loved this book.

Another book, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon was also an interesting read. The book is written from the viewpoint of an autistic teenage boy and I often forgot that I was reading a book written by someone other than an autistic boy. It was a quick read and I liked the explanations about the inner workings of the character's brain told from a first person perspective.

“The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes” by Diane Chamberlain was another good book. This book is about a lonely teenage girl who gets involved with the wrong boy and the choice she makes that shapes her entire life. Although the choices she made were wrong, she was a sympathetic character and I was drawn into this book. It was a page turner.

“The Doctor’s Wife” by Elizabeth Brundage was OK. I found it difficult to relate to any of the characters or sympathize for their situations. I also didn’t find the plot believable. I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone as a great book.

I recommend three out of the four books I read in January.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Summer Dreaming

Every year, about this time, I start dreaming of summer.  

I remember how nice it is to walk outside without worrying about falling on the ice and breaking a hip.    I start thinking about how it will still be light out in the evening.   It will be 100 degrees warmer than it is today! 

In a few months, everything will be completely different. 

It will be like the most fabulous “before and after”





I just can’t wait.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cow Plop

What I’m going to write about today is true. I am not making this up.

My sister Tonja lives in a very small town. Every year this town has a celebration in August called Kraut and Wurst Days. The festival raises money for the volunteer fire department. It’s actually quite fun. The parade is long and gives out more candy than any other parade I’ve ever attended. They have a beauty pageant, volleyball tournaments, a street dance, games, wagon rides, and lots of sauerkraut and bratwursts.

We’ve pulled our pop-up camper to her house and camped in her back yard a few times for this small town festival.

I could not believe my eyes though the first time I attended Kraut and Wurst Day and went to the Cow Plop.

Yes, Cow Plop.

A cow plop is kind of a lottery. People buy tickets which correspond to a grid painted on the ground and fenced around. A cow is released from a trailer into the fenced grid. It poops. The person who bought the square where the cow first poops, wins. There are rules about how to tell who wins if more than one square on the grid is lucky.

Last time I was at this event (yes, I’ve been a number of times) they released a calf first and then the cow later. I’m not sure why. I took the photo below of the calf, I didn’t get any of the cow because it started raining. The rain didn’t deter the spectators though.

I’m not making this up, a lot of people show up to see the cow poop.

And they cheer.

I did.

And I didn't even have a ticket.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Snow Soup

I love soup in the middle of winter. This particular soup, although messy, lifts my spirits because of it’s warmth. It is found very infrequently on the menu in Minnesota in January.


1 Big Pile of Snow - I find this in the mailbox area around my home.100

1 (or more) Days Above Freezing – this is usually difficult to find but is a critical ingredient in snow soup.


Mix together. For mixing, you should use the correct tools. Car tires and humans, particularly the feet are excellent mixers, however you will need to wear waterproof shoes or boots if you choose to mix with your feet. You may roll out balls and add them to the soup, this is an optional ingredient and is purely added for pleasure.

This soup may be thinned with water from downspouts.


It is critical to clean the pan when you make Snow Soup while it is still warm. If you do not, you risk severe damage to your mixers.


Enjoy! The right mix of ingredients is not likely to be available again until sometime in March.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sailors Take Warning

My mom taught me a saying when I was a child that I’ve always remembered: 

Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.

Red sky at night, sailors delight.


While we were in Nevada, my husband and I stepped outside one morning and we saw a gorgeous sky of purples, reds, oranges, pinks, and yellows.   I hurried to get my camera out of my bag to take this picture.  The colors faded within minutes.

Apparently there is meteorological truth to this saying. A reddish sky in the morning indicates water vapor in the atmosphere;  most weather comes from the west.  A red sky at night usually indicates good weather on the way.

The weather channel was calling the big storms coming into the area “The Western Wallop.”     Snow and rain were on the way. 

Unfortunately, the bad weather followed us home, however our skies have been completely overcast so we haven’t gotten to see any beautiful warning overhead.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lake Tahoe

On Tuesday, my husband and I drove up to Lake Tahoe from Carson City where we were visiting family.  He thought I would like to take some pictures of the lake.  

We started out going around the east side of the lake.   We drove through Incline Village, which some locals call Income Village because of the enormous, expensive houses. They were fun to see.  We continued to the California side of the lake.  The road on the Nevada side of the lake was well plowed; the road on the California side was not.  We were going to drive around the whole lake.  We’ve done this before. 398    402    It was gorgeous.


We stopped a number of times so I could take pictures.388

I took other pictures from the the car window.415

The snow was thick and heavy on the trees.423

We stopped to walk around.   My feet got wet.408400

The snow started falling and falling and falling.406

We had driven about half way around Lake Tahoe when I told my husband I was done. 420

The lake was beautiful but it’s hard to impress a girl with snow when she sees it seven months a year.  

We turned around and headed back to the snow free valley.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Birthday Moving Day

On Saturday my sweet pea turned twenty two years old.

He started a new adventure on his twenty second year.

He flew to Seattle. It’s his new home. He hasn’t lived at home for the last year but he’s lived in the same town. I’ve had a few tears about this move, which surprised me. I didn’t cry when he went to kindergarten, away to camp, or to college. But ’m going to miss being able to see him often.

032 copy

It’s a good move for him. I’m happy that he’s getting to experience other parts of the country. I’ve spent my entire life within 45 minutes of where I was born.

But I’m still going to miss him.

I spoke to him on the telephone. He was thrilled about the weather, his apartment, seeing his girlfriend, and the avocados at the farmers market. He’ll be just fine.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


Between Christmas and New Years, a few of my nieces spent time at my house.   I don’t know why they thought it might be fun,  I don’t lead a terribly exciting life, especially for teenage girls.  I had to work so they’d be stuck in the house most of the day and greeting a very tired, and possibly crabby aunt at the end of the day.  They wanted to come anyway.

There are a few bonuses to staying at my house.  a Wii, a hot tub, good snacks, no housework or chores, no brothers, and a mall in my town.   

One night we had McDonalds for supper and they told me they liked my cooking.


I have eleven nieces but only four of them stayed at my house. 

I shudder to think how I could possibly entertain eleven nieces.

DSC_0158 copy

                                                      Two of the nieces came a day early because I did not have room in my car for everyone. 


Literally, within minutes of arriving at my house, I had them shoveling snow off the deck.     I told them they could go in the hot tub if the deck was cleared of the snow. 

DSC_0300DSC_0320 The older two arrived after all the work had been done. 

Smart girls.  DSC_0033 copy Goofy, but smartDSC_0031






They must get that from my sisters, the goofy part.

I’m sure they get the smart from me.

They loved the hot tub.   The air temperature was cold!  They didn’t care.  The water was warm.DSC_0356

I love this picture.    Can you see my niece?   The cold air and hot water created a thick mist around her.   Ironically, her name is Misty.

Misty Joy, her name fits her perfectly.


My daughter joined her young cousins in jumping off the deck into the piles of snow.   I love it that these cousins all got to spend time together. I spent lots of hours with my cousins growing up and have the best memories from those times. Well, most of them are good.    We were so close, we actually got in hair pulling fights but I’ll leave those stories for another day.

DSC_0383 DSC_0388 My sisters did a good job with these girls.   They all have excellent manners and used “thank you” often.  Plus they are funny and smart and totally cute.

I hope when they grow up they’ll have good memories of their days spent at my house.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Full Report

When my children were small and I left them in the care of a babysitter, I always told them they should be on their best behavior because when I came home I would be asking the babysitter for The Full Report.

My daughter had the duty of watching the dog when we were away for five days.

It turns out The Full Report on his behavior was not good.

In fact, he was referred to as Mister Ultra Mc Naughty Pants.

PD knows how to retrieve the paper from the driveway, it's very cute.

DSC_0431This week he apparently learned how to shake the paper out of its wrapping and all over the yard.

He rifled through Grandma’s bags when she stayed over.

He took a shoe and ran.

Oh Mister Ultra Mc Naughty Pants what am I going to do with you? You are just so cute and loveable.

I never had this misbehaving problem with my kids.

Next time, I just won’t ask for The Full Report.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Beer School

Lest my two previous posts led you to believe it was all fun and games in St Louis, this post will set you straight.

While in St Louis, my husband and I attended school.

Beer School.  


135 Tuition was a reasonable ten dollars apiece for the one hour Anheuser Busch Beer School.

055 We learned how the Brew Masters smell and taste beer, we saw the ingredients used in making beer, we learned how to pour beer and how to tell when your beer glass isn’t clean.  We learned about taste and smell and what type of glasses work best for ales and lagers, and how much foam should be at the top of the glass.  065060 It was a grueling hour of sampling beers.

072 We both graduated with flying colors!

078 Educated and happy, we moved on to a tour of the facility.

Our first stop was one of three historic landmark buildings on the Anheuser-Busch property.  The building has gorgeous stained glass windows. The Budweiser Clydesdales are stabled in this building.   The stable is incredibly clean.   Seriously clean.  Probably as clean as my kitchen.   And it has a much nicer chandelier.

082 083 088 089A couple of the Budweiser Dalmatians tucked themselves into the straw behind the horses.  It was so adorable!   Sorry about the horses butt picture, I just loved the dogs laying at the end of the stalls.



We moved on to other beautiful buildings to see where the beer is made, beech wood aged, and packaged. 

116 096

111Huge chandeliers hung down from the center of the building from glass windows in the roof. 113107 At the end of this free tour, we rode a trolley to the hospitality room where we were each given two free beers of our choice.


This tour was so much fun.  I’d do it once a week if I lived in St Louis.