Cool Summer Dress

monalunna dress pattern

monalunna dress pattern

I have two granddaughters and sewing for them is one of my many hobbies. While shopping in a quilt store of all places, I happened upon this cute monaluna pattern and knew I needed to work up a couple of these dresses for the girls.  It is an easy pattern and can be put together quickly.  Very fun, comfortable and a cool – as in temperature –  dress for summer.  My girls are all about comfort.


Life On The Farm – A Quieter Time

Between Okarche and Kingfisher

Between Okarche and Kingfisher

While traveling the backroads recently, I happened upon this cute little farm area. It sent me back many years to when my grandparents lived on a farm in the small town of Springer, Oklahoma.

My siblings and I were raised in the city and going to the farm was like leaving the country, even though it was only 100 miles away. This was a working farm where there were cows, horses, sheep, chickens and other assorted critters. My grandmother could go outside, find the right chicken and in a matter of moments, grab it, ring its neck and take inside to prepare for the freshest, best fried chicken ever.

We had fresh eggs, milk, butter and cream. Today all those food items would be deemed very unhealthy for us, but back then that is what people, and especially people on the farm, ate….and it was really good.

I remember one day I wandered down to where Gran was milking a cow. I was barefoot and managed to step into a big pile of cow poop. Fresh and warm it oozed between my toes and over my foot and I was aghast! I was hopping around and shaking my foot trying hard to get that stuff off. My grandmother, as calmly as possible without missing a beat, turned her milking towards me and sprayed my foot with warm milk fresh from the cow. Well, that just made it worse. I can still hear her laughing as I quickly made my way back to the farmhouse yelling for my mom to come and rescue me from this terrible fate.

Visits to the farm helped shape my life and reflecting on them gave me cause to ponder. It is a shame my children will never experience life on the farm. My grandparents are long gone and so is the farm.

I wish my children could experience the nights that were pitch black, but when looking up at the stars you could clearly see the constellations and an occasional falling star. The city is so bright one cannot appreciate how beautiful the heavens really are.

The nights are so quiet and yet terribly loud with the sounds of crickets, cicadas, frogs, coyotes howling and general rustlings. However, there are not cars, trucks, or sirens. It is a loud quiet that goes deep inside you.

We could go to the well and pump water, and it was the best tasting water. I can still taste how truly fresh and clean that water was.

Then there was always the outhouse. I was not a fan of using those facilities, but my grandparents did not have indoor plumbing for many years. My poor mom had to take me, no matter what time it was, because there was no way I was going out there by myself. There was that ever-present danger of the boogieman coming to get me, not to mention what might pop up out of the water and bite my butt.

I wish my children could experience life without all the bells and whistles. Our senses are bombarded all the time with something that glows in the dark. We have our phones, pads, laptops. My children have no idea how when a phone would ring, and you had no idea who it was until you answered it – and it was not a telemarketer.

I never felt safe, as my mother did, telling my children to go outside and not to come home until they heard her whistle. And when we heard that her whistle, we better get home fast. It is not safe for children to play up and down the block as we did as children.

We were city slickers and my children are city slickers and the farm is no longer an option. Very sad, because I wish my children had experienced life at a calmer, less frantic pace. There is not a chance they can even begin to realize that lifestyle, which is unfortunate because farm life is all but disappearing.


It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Hafer Park in the snowThis is probably our last snow for the year, but you never know.  Now we are moving into tornado weather – ugh.  When it snows I can snuggle up in the house and stay by the fire drinking hot cocoa.  During tornado season, there is no relaxing.


Waiting for the Deer

In the woods behind the house the neighbor puts out encouragement for the deer to come.  They come,  of course, just never when we can see them.



Starting anew to buy nothing new….this is a very interesting project to try

Several years back I read an article that completely changed the way I spend money, the way I buy items I need and it changed the relationship I have with the stuff I currently own.  It was life changing, …..really.  I could not find the article today to give it credit, but I believe I read about it in Parade Magazine back in 2007 or 2008.  It was about a group of people in California that made a pact to not buy anything new for one full year.  They exempted obvious things like food and underwear, but any other tangible consumer good was included in the pact.  You were allowed to buy “used” goods or barter and trade with people, but you were not allowed to purchase any new, as in brand new, item for 12 months.

I was intrigued by the idea, but could not commit to a full year. I had a young daughter and was a little intimidated by the prospect of a full 12 months.  So I commuted the time to 6 months and exempted a couple of additional items to my list.  I allowed myself to buy anything new for my daughter that I could not find used and I added major appliances to the list in case my stove or washing machine, which was already ancient, broke down during the 6 months. I started on January 1st of probably 2008.

The week before my start date, my daughter and I house sat my Aunt and Uncle’s house in the mountains.  It had been snowing in Colorado and we packed our snow shovel because I did not know if I could get down their driveway when I got to their house.  We did not need the shovel after all and I put it in their garage while we were there.  When we headed home to Denver, I realized that I had left the shovel in their garage.

That following Tuesday as I left a client’s location, it started to snow and the forecast was for a decent amount of snow over the next couple of days.  I had no snow shovel and I had just committed to not buying anything new.  As I left my client’s office, I was trying to figure out what to do about not having a snow shovel.  It was early January and we would need a shovel several times over the next few months.  I remembered thinking…” Does Goodwill have snow shovels?  What are the chances that they would have one, especially now that it has started to snow? Where does someone get a used snow shovel?”

As I pondered my problem and my commitment to the pact, I noticed that traffic was really moving slowly.  All of the cars in front of me were getting backed up, though I could not see any kind of accident in front of them.  As we were creeping along, I saw that most of the cars in my lane were changing lanes ahead.  I finally got to the front of the line and there in the middle of the road was……..a snow shovel!!  I looked all around me to see if someone was making a U-turn to come back for the shovel, but there was no one showing any interest in retrieving it, so I stopped my car and put the shovel in the back.  I swear to you, this is a true story and I own that shovel still today, 7 or so years later.

When I read the article, it did mention that the people participating were surprised at how the things they needed and would have purchased before the pact found their way to them.  Mention to a friend that your blender broke and they say….I have a couple of blenders, you can have one of mine.  And so on.  I did find that to be true and I also found all kinds of ways to deal with needing to acquire something that was not brand new. Initially, it was a real challenge.  It was the impulse buying that caught me off guard initially.  I would without thinking pick up something that I liked the looks of and then would remember that I could not buy it.

My friends were truly confounded by the prospect and questioned me for months as to how I was doing and how was I doing it.  Really, their questions were a constant in my life.  They simply could not imagine how I could go for 6 months and not buy a single new item. I grew to love the challenge and I learned a great deal about myself in the process.

At the time, I had a small wallet that was attached to a key chain.  I loved that little wallet because I have not carried a purse for decades and it had everything I needed in it; money, credit card, lip gloss, etc. During the first couple of months of the pact, it broke…the leather piece that held the wallet to the key chain came apart.  In the past, I would have immediately headed to the store to replace the wallet, but alas, I could not.  As I looked at the wallet, I saw that what it really needed was just to be sewn together again.  No problem, so easy to do I could do it myself and I did just that.

As the months progressed, it got easier.  I got more creative and I determined that it was such a worthwhile process that I would continue it after a fashion even once the initial 6 months were over.  For several years after the initial pact, I would not buy anything new except during 2 months of the year; January and July.  Choosing those 2 months allowed for a couple of things.  1) If I truly needed something, I told myself I only had to wait until January or July came around.  It was surprising how when a buying month came around, I could not remember what it was that I thought I needed to buy.  2) In January and July, everything is on sale!  So what I did need to buy was almost always cheaper than if I had bought it at the moment I thought I needed it.

The change in my spending habits was significant.  The change in the relationship I have with my current stuff was significant.  I take better care of what I own and I value it more.  I discovered Goodwill and other used/consignment shops at which I would never have otherwise shopped.  Literally, every time I have really needed Goodwill to have something I really needed….it did.  I had a Cuisinart coffee maker that I had never seen anyone else have (fairly expensive, one cup at a time)  and it broke.  One day in Goodwill, there it was…a fully functional replacement of the exact one I wanted. I had gone to Goodwill to buy some raggedy old maker to get me by.  For $9 I replaced my exact one.  We shop there all the time now.  More than half my daughter’s clothing come from Goodwill.

My disposable income became something I treasured.  I had so much more money left over every month that it completely changed the way and the degree to which I saved money toward really large expenditures that had eluded me in the past.

It has been a couple of years since I exercised the discipline of that pact, but my sister and brother-in-law are in a small group that is trying it as of Jan 1 and I have decided to be a believer again.  As of January 1st, I will be back on the “Nothing New” pact for 2015…or at least until July.  Try your own version of this and stick with it long enough to really learn from and benefit from the process. It is the very difficult times; times when you really think you need  that new thing that you will learn the most and get the most out of the process. I think you will be amazed at what you discover about yourself and what you can live without or acquire in a different manner.




For the new year, as with most of the population, I am going to strive to be more healthy.  My sister is going to try the Pescetarian Diet which is fish and healthy stuff that grows from the ground.  I am going to enlarge my choices to chicken and turkey – hence pescechikturktarian.  Yes, I realize the jest of that is I am not eating red meat, but I really like my new word.

I am not calling this a New Year’s Resolution because I always break those.  This is just a positive approach to eating for the new year.  Hopefully, I will be make a concerted effort to stay focused on the new way of eating.

One problem is my husband does not share my desire to cut out red meat, so I will have temptation in front of me any time I need to cook something red for him.  Also, I do really like a good bowl of chili in the winter, but ground turkey can be substituted for the red meat, and maybe my husband won’t know.

The other effort I plan to make is exercising more – well, I should probably leave off the word “more” since I have been rather lax in doing any exercise.  I go for a while and do great, and then I travel or something else distracting, and I get out of the routine and then take a long time to get back in the groove.

Walking is my exercise of choice along with yoga. I like both of those activities so I do not know what my problem is.  Oh, yes I do, it is actually participating in the movement.

This time next year, I will write with the report of my success. I will brag about how much better I feel and how I look so many years younger. I will talk about how I have the body of a much younger person, all a result of my 2015 new year approach to better health.




It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

It truly is for me.  I love Christmas for several many reasons.

I begin decorating the inside of our home the weekend of Thanksgiving, while my husband is decorating the outside. We have a very festive home in and out, and I love waking every morning and turning on the tree.  My Santa collection always gives me a happy, holiday feeling. The Poinsettias are on the tables and the holiday stuffed animals are scattered throughout.  It is fun!

I make lists and lots of them.  There are several lists of menus I will cook while the family is together.  Then there is the grocery lists – I have several, shopping lists, cleanings list.  Checking things off my lists shows me I am accomplishing goals as we move closer to the  main event.

My shopping is finished and all the packages that need to be mailed have arrived at their destinations.  Yea! That is a big relief.

This year, right now, our daughter and her family, which includes a granddaughter, are on their way here for the holidays.  It will be a long, eleven hour drive for them, but hey, they are young.  Last year we made the drive and we are not nearly as young as we used to be.

Our son and his family live here, and that includes a granddaughter, so the whole family will be together and that is my most favorite time ever.  I absolutely love it when we have the whole family together.

The Christmas meal will include my mom who is 91, my older sister (no need to mention her age) my nephew and his family which includes a great-niece and our whole family.  Does it get any better than that?  Well, yes, we are missing my other two siblings, including Tricia and Devin and my brother and his two girls.

I like listening to the Christmas carols.  They play in the house and in the car. Some make me feel happy – like Burl Ives and “Holly, Jolly Christmas”.  Some make me feel nostalgic, like “Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire”, and some give me a feeling of thankfulness and can bring a tear to my eyes, like “O Holy Night”.

I am a spiritual person.  Realizing that the Christ was not really born this time of year, and He would not be impressed with the way we have totally forgotten the real reason for his birth, I still try to keep the remembrance of Him separate from the Christmas hype. “O Holy Night” brings me back and makes me think again about how awesome the occasion was and how awestruck I should be when thinking about that sweet baby, born in a manger, just for me.

So, I guess you could say I love the pagan part of the holiday and the religious part of the holiday. As I said at first, I love Christmas for several reasons.

The holiday began last night with family coming over for some white chili and the best cornbread ever (a recipe from the Baldpate Inn near Estes Park, CO) and the holiday overeating will continue through next Saturday.  There is enough food and goodies to last us for weeks.  So, it will be leftovers for Dale and I after everyone has gone home.

It is the most wonderful time of the year – enjoy!



The Thanksgiving holiday was great – if only we weren’t all sick

We had eight family members gathered in Missouri for the Thanksgiving feast. It was a wonderful time, and my nephew and his wife went above and beyond to make it memorable.  It was my husband who made the memory we won’t forget.

Dale played golf in freezing weather with a high wind and moisture in the air.  Now, my nephew played in the same weather, but he is much younger. My husband knows better than to play in weather like that – well not really since he will play in the snow if he has a colorful ball.

My husband came down with a cold. And when he gets a cold, I want to ship him off somewhere far away.  He coughs and coughs and coughs and blows his nose and makes sounds I don’t like to hear. A cold always goes to his chest, and he can choke on air, so imagine all that congestion trying to find its way out. To put it bluntly, I hate it when he gets a cold.

As families will do when they get together, we played a lot of games, mostly with cards.  We played poker, ninety-nine and dominoes.  All of those games require us to touch stuff everyone else has touched; I think you get the picture here.  We are all sick. If you did not get sick playing games, you got sick riding in the car where we were spreading germs like in an airplane.

I generally put my Christmas decorations up the weekend of Thanksgiving, but since we were going to be out of town, I put them up early.  Thank goodness! It will be several days before I feel in the festive mood.

So, I am in my chair in the living room, in my sweats, wrapped in a blanket by the fire drinking a hot toddy, watching TV and admiring my Christmas tree.

It could be worse, I could not have a tree up to admire, and then I would be stressing about that.

The other problem with the holiday was, we were missing Tricia and Devin.  I am one of those who thinks all families should live close to one another. But, alas, that is not the way of the world anymore.


The Day After

So the big meal is over.  We had a great time with our friends and one of the best meals I can remember having in a few years.  Someone brought sweet potato casserole very much like the one my family makes, so I was very happy.  My second batch of dinner rolls turned out beautifully.  I think I am done trying Parker House Rolls; they just never turn out as awesome as they look like they should. The classic dinner rolls came out much better.  I came home with a little turkey and sweet potatoes, so today I think I will make a turkey/sweet potato dumpling.  Egg roll wrappers make this so easy.  A little cranberry sauce mixed with some soy sauce and we have the Thanksgiving version of a Chinese dumpling.  Now the work begins…


Decorating for Christmas.  I have pulled out the storage bins and am looking through the decorations to see what I want to use this year.  I’m trying to get away from the traditionally kitschy decorating and move to more stylish, low key decorations. I am not creative in this area, but I can steal ideas from HGTV. I should take this opportunity to purge my bins of decorations I will probably never use again.  December trips to a Goodwill donation center are doubly good; you get rid of stuff, de-clutter your house and get a tax donation just in time to make the most of it.


I have decided to show the Dicken’s Village this year.  I love the Dicken’s VIllage, but with so many built-ins and the rooms being small to begin with, there is never an optimal spot to display the village.   The cats also love the village.  Alice in particular loves to knock down the trees and village folk and spends a lot of time just sitting in the middle looking like a cat giant.

The Devin/Santa photos from all the various years are on the mantle.  Devin says she will allow one last photo with Santa on her 18th birthday.  (There have been no Santa photos since she was about 7, so don’t think we are one of those odd families…) The Christmas playlist is loaded on the Ipod and the Christmas books are out.  Tomorrow we head up Berthoud Pass to cut a tree down in the Winter Park area.  All the most important ornaments will go on the tree and then we will use others to decorate a garland or maybe place in a glass vase of some sort.  With a little greenery here and there, I think I will be done.

I will then look through every thing else in the Christmas boxes and start filling the donation box so we can make a trip to Goodwill in the next week or so.  I am behind on gift shopping….I am usually done by Thanksgiving, so I will be out and about which I do not look forward to, but at least I can shop in the middle of the day in the middle of the week, which makes it a little easier.  We have a few more food items to make as gifts and I really enjoy that part.  So the season is here.  One good month and then 2015 is making an entrance.  I am hoping for smooth entrance of the new year and just 3 and 1/2 months of no major issues.  Just no repeat of early 2014.  Thanks in advance universe for allowing me that.


The Favorite Santa

In 1981 my sister-in-law gave me my first Santa.


The following year my daughter, who was seven years old at the time, wanted to add to my collection – if you can call one Santa a collection.  In November, 1982, we went to her elementary school holiday craft sale.  She found the perfect Santa, that was in her budget and proudly purchased it.


At Christmas that year I opened my gift from her which was a very special Santa for a couple of reasons.  I found out after I opened the gift that she had indeed purchased the Santa that day, but promptly dropped and broke it.  She was heartbroken and headed back to the artist to tell her sad story.  The creator of the Santa was in the holiday spirit and sold her the second Santa for half price. Now, however, she is over her budget because of the extra expense of the second Santa. The above photo is my Santa.

My collection has grown over the years with some very nice and sometimes expensive Santas, but the Santa bought at the elementary school holiday craft sale by my seven-year-old daughter is my favorite and always will be. Seeing the excitement on her face when I opened that special Santa, that she had to sacrifice extra money for, is forever in my memory.

I am still adding to my collection, but nothing will replace this Santa given from the heart from my precious daughter.


And then there is my son.  He decided to begin a collection of holiday treasures that poop candy. Now, he has given me many nice Santas over the years, but he is especially proud of the plastic ones that make obnoxious noises and then poop candy. Isn’t that special?!