Monday, January 31, 2011

change is all around

We received news last week that our Associate Pastor is taking a new appointment. This is a fairly often occurrence in the United Methodist church, and since she has been here in Grand Rapids for almost five years, it comes as no big surprise to me. She has been taking classes to further her education, so it seems like a move up is the next step. While we will miss her dearly, we know it is part of God's plan.

There is also change through the camping ministry. At the Lake Michigan UM camp, there is a new campsite Manager. He too is part of God's plan.

Our Senior Pastor's wife is the current District Superintendent for our District (yet because of that we take leadership from a neighboring D.S.) and she writes a weekly blog. This week it's on change and I thought how perfect it is to share, so you can read her words of wisdom about change by clicking here.

Bill and I have pretty much been open to change. We moved around a lot, changing homes, jobs and friends. It is not easy, but after awhile you can adjust. Now it seems as though we've settled down, but there are still changes. I love this quote from the band Love Spit Love, "The only thing you know is gonna stay the same is change." Maybe it is with that thought that I am able to accept and often embrace change. Some people resist change. Next time you feel like resisting, think of those words and then accept that change will always happen. And then, trust God.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Oh another Sunday. I almost forgot to blog again. It was another busy day. Bill was at the sr. high overnight last night, so I was all by myself last night and this morning. It was quiet. I was going to watch a dvd but our dvd player decided it doesn't want to read them anymore. So I read instead. I finished H.P. and the Order of the Phoenix and started the Half-Blood Prince.

It was also quiet this morning. Rather than turn the tv on, get sucked into a show, and then run late for church I left everything off. I contemplated checking facebook, but again decided to just leave it turned off. Like "old times". After church, I made an egg and cheese croissant because Bill made a big breakfast yesterday knowing today he would be too tired. I think that was an understatement. He managed to stay awake until I left for a camp meeting (before I left I made some broccoli and cheese soup which was delicious) and took a nap while I was gone. By the time I got home I had ten minutes before I had to turn around and leave for youth group. We finished watching "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream coat".

Now I'm home, relaxing. I haven't given any thought to what I could possibly blog about, so there you have it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Friday nights and Saturday mornings

Last night Bill and I went to dinner and a Griffins hockey game with our friends Amy and Adam. We went to San Chez, a local tapas restaurant that is one of many around here that gets as much food locally, and seasonally, as it can. We ate too much, our excuse being that Amy is pregnant and eating for two. We didn't want her to feel awkward, so the rest of us ate more than we needed. Then after calling the loan officer to pay our bill, we headed over to the Van Andel arena to watch the Griffins pull a win out of the behinds. Seriously, I'm pretty sure the local high school teams can play better hockey than they played last night. And all the guys who have been over in Detroit playing for the Wings were back. However they acted as though they had been playing golf, baseball or tennis what with the lack of keeping the stick on the ice. It was amusing and highly shocking when they finally did pull out the win. But we all had fun and I caught a t-shirt. This is important. Last year when they threw the shirts down from above, I stood up to catch it and almost lost my balance. I was wearing my "boots" (chunky heels) and may have had some wine at dinner. If you know me at all, you know balance is not my friend. I fall to some degree at a regular rate of at least once a week. That's another post; for now you just need to know that last night, when they threw the shirts, I was prepared. I had the stance and knew that the shirt would come right at me. And it did! There was no one around with their arms out. It came straight for me and as I reached up for it, no one blocked me. The skies opened (read no out-stretched arms) and like a slow-motion scene from "Miracle on Ice" I caught the free t-shirt. If Sami read my blog, she would be so proud!

Since it is Saturday and we have nothing to do, I'm sitting here listening to NPR's, "Wait, wait. Don't tell me", still in my pj's with no immediate plans to do any sort of work. In fact Bill fixed breakfast. The dishes are still sitting in the kitchen waiting to be washed. They'll just have to wait. I may get around to sewing up some articles of clothing that have been piling up and need attention. But I think I'll wait until the show is over. Maybe. These are the joys of not having children.

Friday, January 28, 2011

breakfast makes everything better

I have found a recipe for a delicious cinnamon syrup. It is very similar to one that Heather and I had in Nashville at the Pancake Pantry. Add in the mini chocolate chips on top of the pancakes, and bingo! I think I've got it.

So I had pulled some blueberries out of the freezer earlier in the week and had been eating them in my yogurt every day. But I knew I needed to use up the rest of them. I figured pancakes would be the best way to go. I then decided I would make pancakes for lunch today!

I didn't use my regular recipe which you can find at the Melon Collie. I just used generic pancake batter. I did use whole milk plus the blueberries. Pancakes with chocolate chips and cinnamon syrup make everything better.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

old cat, new tricks

I taught Juliette a trick back in NJ and I thought she had forgotten. It turns out that she not only remembers it, she demands it.

It all started back in our house on Dewey. The bathroom did not have an exhaust fan, so often we left the door to the bathroom open while we showered. Juliette would wonder in and as soon as we had stepped out of the tub she would hop in and lick the water off the tiles. I decided this was not the most sanitary thing for her to do, so I started turning on the sink faucet and would put her on the edge of the sink and let her drink that water. This quickly became a habit.

Then we moved. Four years had gone by and while she had tried at first to jump up on the sink on her own, she discovered it wasn't the same sink. This sink is wider with more curves. There is less room for her to stand on the edge, so I thought she gave up.

Oh no, she did not. Now it's a new game/habit/trick. She comes upstairs while I'm eating breakfast and sits on the toilet and waits for one of us. If I try to ignore her, like while I'm drying my hair, she sits there and bats at me, often times mewing at me. As if to say, "Mommy, turn on the water please!?". I have no choice but to give in. She is my child of fur. I sigh a big sigh, turn on the water, pick her up and put her on the edge of the sink.

Why, you may ask, do I continue to support this habit? Because most cats, but Siamese cats especially, are prone to kidney failure and like all living things need water. If this means letting her drink out of the sink so she gets enough water, I'll do it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

finally photos

I took some pictures from the North American International Auto Show when we were there on Saturday. I wanted to share a couple of them with you (you can see the rest of them on facebook). Or you can read about my post from the show here.

A detail of the headlights on the Audi.

Greg and I check out the back seat of a VW, plenty of legroom!

Bill and Dave check out the interior dash.

The clock in a Chrysler

the hubcap of the Mustang

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

trying something new

I have started using a well-known facial cleanser. I finally decided at 33 years old I didn't want anymore acne. This product promises to get rid of it once and for all. Or so I thought it claimed. I've been using it for almost two weeks and I've had four more zits show up plus the fact that if used as recommended (twice daily) I would look more like a snake shedding its skin than a human. It dries out my skin so bad. I knew that, fortunately, because a friend of mine uses it and she warned me that it might do that. It also dries out her skin if she uses it twice daily. Maybe I had my hopes set high with clear skin instantly. But if my skin hasn't started to clear up soon (instead of getting more zits) I may go back to my old skin care routine. I can handle the occasional pimple especially since the former skin care products didn't dry out my skin and I was able to wash my face two times a day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

one short

I missed yesterday. As in I didn't blog. Maybe no one will even notice. I will and that will haunt me. Not really, but I am not proud that I missed a day after making a goal of blogging every day. It's not like I have an excuse, I just forgot. I woke up and had a light breakfast and enjoyed coffee while talking to Dave and Greg. Bill left with the van to drive it over to a building, then home to GR. I managed to beat him home because he got delayed at his building; I promptly drove Large Marge the Barge into a snow bank thus completely breaking off a large part of the lower bumper that had already started to crack. Dismayed, I parked her on the street and shoveled the driveway. I unloaded the car and showered. Then, I was so upset about the plastic bumper that now lay in pieces in our house, I cleaned. By the time I finished that Bill was home safe. While he got ready for youth group, I talked to my mom on the phone (this is a twice-weekly occurrence). Then we left for youth group, where we watched "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat". While I've seen this on stage at Clowes Hall (pronounce Clues) and played in the pit orchestra my senior year of high school, I have never seen the Donnie Osmond movie version. We didn't make it through the entire movie so we'll finish it next week. It's all the same songs with some, erm, racy costumes. At least the youth are being "exposed" to it in a church setting. Right?

When Bill and I got back home, I made the traditional popcorn and we watched the Simpson's. I am crocheting a scarf, so I worked on that (I will have pictures after the recipients have seen them -I like surprising people). Then we headed off to bed to read. It never once dawned on me to blog. It's hard enough to remember on a weekend, let alone one while I was out of town. I'll try not to miss any more days, however I know I'll be gone at workcamp, possibly camp and a spring break mission trip. So my plan will be to take my computer when I can, and try to at least write out posts which I'll publish when I get back to an internet connection if there isn't one available.

I also have photos that I need to post, so look for those.

Saturday, January 22, 2011


Detroit, Motor City. We spent a couple of hours at the North American International Auto Show today. It has been a tradition, I think if you pay taxes in Michigan you are required to go, since Bill and I have been together. We only missed a couple of years when we were living in other states and couldn't make it back. Bill has been going since he could drive, and since we moved back to Grand Rapids, we have included Dave and Greg.

One thing I have always noticed about Detroit (and love) is the noticeable lack of foreign cars on the roads. This was more pronounced when we came back from Jersey where there are many more foreign cars vs. domestic on the roads. You can often count on one hand the number of foreign cars you pass while driving anywhere in the Detroit area. That alone makes me proud to be an American and a Michigananianander.

One thing I noticed this year was the size of the Ford display vs. all the others. All the American displays were also larger than they have been in recent years, but Ford was truly impressive. The last two years were almost non-existent and very sad.

I think the first year I ever went, in 2000 was the most impressive, at least to me. There were concept cars everywhere you turned, there were full displays on both levels (it's basically reduced to the one floor now), and it was huge. I know it wasn't just because it was my first time. It was huge. Then Sept. 11, 2001 happened and it got smaller. Then the economy crashed (which coincided with the price of oil going way up) and the American car companies were in trouble. It was obvious.

This year was better and I enjoyed it. I'm sure you can check out Bill's blog and he has a very different opinion. That's okay, that's why we go and why cars are designed and not just mass-produced. I have photos, which I hope to get on here tomorrow.

*editor's note: we only took 3500 steps at the auto show. We were able to park in a garage where there was a people mover stop and we never had to walk outside except from the house to the car. That was a first since it is the coldest weekend of the year so far (which is typical for our car show visit).

Friday, January 21, 2011


I am not old. Yet I am a fan of post-its. I often forget something unless I've written it on a post-it and stuck it somewhere that I'll see it again. The trouble with this is that Atticus likes to eat paper.

Or I lose them. I don't know how, but I do. Like this morning, I had a post-it with a reminder to email someone about something. I had written it down last night (yes, I keep post-its next to the bed) and put it on my desk this morning. Bill and I took our walk, so I'm back at my desk now working. Suddenly it just dawned on me that note is not where I left it. I checked the floor, my arms, the papers I've shuffled around. Nothing, no note. Where did it go? I even covered it with a book while we were gone so Atticus couldn't eat it. I checked the bottom of the book. No post-it. It's a mystery and it happens a lot. Maybe Atticus did eat it. Or maybe a strong breeze caused it to fly off my desk and land in the trash can (except I checked there too). At least I remembered what I had written down.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

the day for follow-ups

Some days I start contemplating what I'll blog about early in the day and other days it's toward the end of the day when I finally have something to blog about. Being that I left you yesterday wondering if I would actually walk 10,000 steps I thought I might do a little follow-up. Then I read Bill's blog. He also did a follow-up. Great minds think alike. So Bill, I'm not copying you (or maybe I am), but here's my follow-up post.

I ended the day having walked 10,060 steps. I had to pace around the house a few dozen times to get there, but I made it. I feel great about accomplishing that. I am going to wear my pedometer when we go to the car show on Saturday, I can't wait to see how many steps I take there!

I'm still reading a November issue of one of my magazines. I posted about the combined month issues here. We got a new issue in the mail on Tuesday and I'm still behind. Yikes. I was way behind.

I'm almost two full months into blogging every day. I don't know if you're bored. No one comments. I will gladly take suggestions on what to blog about (please don't ask about politics, I almost don't even care). I enjoy food, in case you hadn't noticed, I could talk about that all the time. In fact, last night I used more of my pizza dough and made pizza pockets. For some reason the parchment paper burned. The pizza pockets turned out fine, a little dark on the bottoms, but very delicious. The recipe made double the filling amount I needed for the amount of dough I had, so I will use that and either make more pizza pockets or calzones. Or I could make some pasta dough and make ravioli's. I'll let you know!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

10,000 steps

I finally wore my pedometer to do my shopping and for our walk. Of course I'm trying to walk 10,000 steps which is not that easy. Even with our walk, the most steps I've taken in one day was around 8,000. Today, with the shopping, I've already taken 8,000. Maybe today is the day I'll finally reach 10,000! I hope so.

I discovered what I had guessed and that is that I do in fact walk one mile. That is from my far away parking spot and through the store. woo hoo!! Honestly today I parked a little closer because the parking lots are so icy. And you couldn't really tell where the parking spaces were because snow had already covered up the lines.

Bill and I are doing really well at keeping up with walking three times a week at the mall. We figured out two miles inside is fifteen laps. It's very repetitive, but only doing it three times a week seems to help. Six more weeks (March 1st is always my goal to get back outside).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

cold winter's night

This is the kind of shoveling I don't like. Back-breaking snow/ice. yuck! I tried to shovel it while it was still warm out, because of course the weather people are all saying it's going to get cold. What they don't know is when the temperature is going to start falling. I chipped, dug and beat the snow with the shovel for an hour. By that point I had only finished the sidewalk and a very small part of the driveway. I gave up. I sprinkled the rest of the salt we had from last year and said a prayer that it would work.

Then, two hours later, I ran to the bank. When I got home I discovered the melting ice was finally detaching itself from the surface of the driveway. Hoorah! It was still "warm" out. I grabbed the shovel again and started scooping the melting snow/ice mixture. Since I was not really prepared to do this again, I only worked at it for a half an hour.

Needless to say, I'm already sore. I'm very hungry too because I most definitely burned 600 calories today (400/hour shoveling snow). This snow was heavy and difficult to remove. I'm still cold, so I'm going to call my bff Heather and snuggle up under the giant green blanket omg-it's-Eddie gave me for my 30th birthday.

Monday, January 17, 2011

home made pizza

Last week I made homemade pizza dough and sauce, then I had pizza for dinner that night. My favorite and typical toppings are; tomatoes, bacon and cheese. The last time I made pizza dough was with Skylar (click here to read about that) and I did not check the temperature of the warm water before I added the yeast. This time I did, and that made all the difference. This time when I kneaded it, I could tell that it was "right". That was a zen-like experience for me. I really do enjoy the homemade dishes and the extra work that goes into them. I can taste it.

I have yet to try a pie, in my new pie roller thingy that Shannon gave me, but I know when I do it's going to be perfect. The only reason I'm waiting is because it's not really "pie-baking" season. I want some good, fresh local apples to bake. Or at least some blueberries. Hm, I froze a lot of blueberries last summer, I wonder if I have enough to make a pie? If I do, you'll be sure to know about it because there will be a post!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

chili cook-off vs. Mary or Martha

This morning's sermon shed new light on the familiar passage of Mary and Martha. I have long ago decided I am more Mary than Martha, and by that I mean at a party (specifically if we host it) I am much more likely to be found ignoring the kitchen sink full of dishes and trying my best to work the room. I'm at least as far from the kitchen as I can get and enjoy laughing and sharing stories then trying to make excuses for how dusty the house is. This morning we looked at the parable found just before that of Mary and Martha's story (Luke 10: 36-42) which is the Good Samaritan. In one chapter Jesus tells us to be good servants to others and in the next (at least as Luke tells it) Jesus says don't be a servant. And that's where the light bulb clicked on. Don't let serving others get in the way of remembering God. How simple is that?

The chili cook-off was after the 11a service. There were seven groups represented. Anyone could come to Wesley Hall, purchase tickets and then sample the chili. Then you put tickets in the basket by the chili that you liked. All the groups will receive a portion of the money that was brought in. Bill's was by far the spiciest and received many compliments. No one ran away in tears! We ran out of chili by the end, but it was clear the cards were stacked against us. We were representing the youth, and while Gary admittedly put three of his five tickets into our basket, it was not enough to compete with the Social Concerns group who had more of their members milling around. Oh well, it was fun and the comments received were complimentary. Bill already has a plan for next year, hopefully it will include having actual youth help make and/or serve it. I really liked it and I'm sad that there's none left over.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

dinner last night

Last night for dinner I made a salad of sorts. Let me explain.

I found this recipe and decided to try it. It called for rotisserie chicken, romaine lettuce, olives and day old focaccia bread. We had some romaine and ciabatta bread; so I bought chicken breasts and olives. It called for a Mediterranean seasoning packet to use to make the dressing but I knew, between Bill and I, one of us could create something.

I grilled the chicken by simply drizzling it with olive oil and seasoning it with fresh ground salt and pepper. I put it on the Foreman grill for about seven minutes a side (I do flip it once to get good grill marks on both sides) then I check the temp (which is always over 160) and remove the chicken, letting it rest until it's cool to touch. While it cooled, I cut up the ciabatta bread and put it in a frying pan with olive oil until it was lightly toasted. I removed the bread and added the olives. By this point the chicken was cool enough to slice, so once I did that I added all of it back to the pan and tossed it all together. Bill made the dressing using olive oil, vinegar and some basic seasonings. I divided the romaine between two plates and piled up the chicken mixture on top of it. Then I topped both plates with grated parmesan.

It was delicious! While I didn't expect it to be a hearty winter dish, the warmth of heating everything up in the pan made it so. We had protein and carbs, a vegetable and a fruit. We had it all and it was filling. A salad but so much more.

I hope we can put it on the Mellon Collie menu, I'm trying to think of a good name... suggestions? I'm thinking, "The Healthy Dose", "If you must eat your veggies... salad", or "Hearts of estranged salad" (get it? Because nothing else is healthy). Maybe Bill will have a better name. He's got all the cleverness between us.

Friday, January 14, 2011


It's Friday. Need I say more? We saw HP7 part 1, last night. I thought it was fantastic! I can't wait to see part 2 and to get through the seventh book again. I'm almost finished with book 4 of my reread. So much was left out of the movies, but then in 7 they've left so much in... Read Bill's blog for a fun and amusing review of the movie.

I'm trying to get more followers for his blog. Share it with your friends! Read it on a regular basis. He's sort of intimidated by my goal of blogging every day for a year, so he's been more fastidious about posting regularly (by that I mean at least once a week, but not every single day).

He'll also be entering the chili cook-off at our church this Sunday. He'll be representing the youth, so if he wins the money donated will go to the youth! I can't wait, I love his chili. He better not tone it down for anyone. His chili is delicious! I beg him to make it every winter and I hope he knows that this doesn't count! We won't get (much) of it. He'll have to make it again.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

special day

Today is a special day!! Bill posted his 100th blog entry (you can read that here) and we are going to see Harry Potter 7, part 1!! I am looking forward to the movie. (I already read the blog, which I was also looking forward to and was not disappointed!)

Bill and I rarely go to the theater anymore. Why spend the money? You get sticky shoes, people who sit behind you and talk (ask Bill about that) and if you have to pee, you can't pause it. Plus the added bonus of spending $100 on popcorn and pop, which is always Pepsi. blech! So we mostly watch movies at home, which is also rare because we don't have a Netflix account and Blockbuster has gone bust.

We have seen all but one of the Harry Potter movies together in the theater. We didn't see HP6 together; I watched it on our Jr. High workcamp trip and I think Bill didn't see it until we got it on dvd. I have been insisting we go see it, because part 2 comes out this summer and because I'll be at workcamp again, we (the Jr. High youth group) will be going to see it on our free day. I can't watch the second part without having seen the first!

Here's to a special day!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

my journey so far

It's been just over a month since I started this journey of blogging every day for one year. I have tried very hard to make this different from my journal and think I have done so successfully. I am confident that I can continue this goal while continuing to journal.

My journaling has not always been consistent. Every year I would make it a New Year's resolution to write in my journal every night. By January 2nd of every year I had already broken that resolution. Then last year, during a visit with the Cool Cats, I had to update my "personal goal". This is something they do every week which I find amazing; I was visiting the classroom during that time of sharing and they asked me to join them by coming up with my own personal goal. Of course I couldn't say no. It was November, so I started with writing down three things to be thankful for every day. Two weeks later I chose to maintain that goal. It was after Thanksgiving that I decided to try writing in my journal every day as a new goal. The class was shocked! They keep a journal and write in it every day, they couldn't fathom that I had to make that a goal. But I did and I achieved it. Actually, not only did I achieve it, but I have continued it. I realized it doesn't have to be much, just a brief summary of what I did that day. That is where my journal and blog differ. I don't write in my blog about working, yoga, and who I talked to on the phone. I use this as my space for my random thoughts, meals I am proud of and whatever else I like to talk about.

There you have it. The difference between my journal entries and my blog entries. Can you tell I'm running low on things to write about?!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

we are not parents

Bill and I decided not to have children. If there's anyone reading this other than Bill, you probably knew that about us. We have a joke that we have 100 reasons why. Every so often, we'll say, "and that's reason #47 we don't have kids" except we change the number with the reason...

Before I get into my post I want to make sure you understand that we like kids, we just decided not to have any of our own. We prefer to be known to our friend's children as "Auntie Em" and "Uncle Bill". In fact, we will take your children for 5-7 days once they have reached ten years of age. If you are willing to send them here, we would be glad to have them (please note: we need minimum of two weeks notice and only one child/family at a time). We love having Skylar come and visit and as a result are familiar with lots of kid friendly locations (plus the Membership to Meijer Gardens). Think about that and let us know if you want to take us up on that offer.

Okay, on to my post. We love our friends who have children and our friends who don't. There are fewer who do not have kids and it doesn't really matter either way. Most of our friends with kids don't let their children run their lives. They all want to have an adult night out and I think that's important. Last night we hung out with one of the couples and we discussed various parenting tricks of the trade.

One of the topics that came up was parents who punish their kids by not allowing them to go to youth group. We all agreed that we don't understand that logic. I am sure that none of our friends who have kids would ever try that. And we understand that as adults who don't have children we very often tread on thin ice talking parenting when we have no "real" experience as parents.

Back to grounding teens from youth group activities. I understand that it is fun for them to go to youth group and that grounding them from it makes sense in the short term because that is the punishment. But if your child is doing something wrong, isn't it a better idea to let them go to youth group? The one place where they're going to learn some guidance? You know, the whole right from wrong and love your neighbor, etc. It just doesn't make sense to me. I think that's because when I was a teenager and got grounded, youth group was always excused (as was band). So I'm going from personal experience.

Monday, January 10, 2011

french braids

I cannot french braid my own hair. My sister taught me how to french braid either on a friend or a barbie, I can't remember, when I was much younger. She has mad skills and does a great job. Whether or not she intended to include pain along with the french braid, I don't know! But those braids would stay in, no matter what I did (including riding roller coasters, playing softball and probably hanging from monkey bars).

I was the team manager for both girls volleyball and basketball in 8th grade. That meant I had a lot of practice at french braiding. I could make it a nice, tight braid which also would not come out during the game.

For the life of me, I still cannot braid my own hair. I can do this cool twist and I can put my hair in two regular braids, but french braiding my own hair requires some right brain thinking that I just cannot get. I think it has more to do with angle. I can do about half of it, loosely before my arms get too tired to hold up anymore. And because of how I french braid using my hands, doing my own hair keeps my hands from facing the right direction to pull the hair tight. Maybe I should try more often.

Anyway, I bring this up because apparently it is not an easy thing to do and not everyone knows how to french braid. And for all those who do, may you be blessed with girls whose hair you can french braid! (you know who you are)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday sermon

Today's sermon was based on John 3:1-16 and Nicodemus going to Jesus under the cover of night. Our pastor tied this is to finding a penny and the gifts that are graciously given from above. Do we stop to wonder and accept those gifts? This had me thinking of today's blog post.

Do you stop and smell the roses? Do you take a minute to enjoy the sun rays shining through the clouds casting a "silver lining"? Do you notice the crocus as they peak their heads up through the snow in the late winter? What do you stop and see?

I love walking through Meijer Gardens with Skylar. We go fast or slow and we see many things. The flowers peeking up in the undergrowth, flowers that may or may not be weeds, wildflowers and even the occasional bird or other critter. We have our usual stops, but nature is constantly changing, so we really don't see the same thing twice.

I wanted to share this photo of the tomatoes that she took at the Farmer's Market last summer. I had walked right past it, she however spotted it and took a photo. It made me wonder then who else spotted it?

Don't forget to see the gifts given to us from above. The bright red cardinal sitting in the tree against the snowy backyard, the bright blue sky against the white snowy field, the summer sun through the leaves on the trees... what have gift have you been given?

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Christmas card etiquette

Why now? Because I just took ours down.

We hang heavy duty ribbon on the door frames into the dining room and kitchen. Then we staple the cards to the ribbon as they come in the mail. Letters only get put in the basket where we keep the stapler (I just thought I'd share in case you need a festive idea).

I also keep track of who we send them to and receive them from. It's really not something I would have probably thought to do if it weren't for my address book. Yes, my address book is from Hallmark and it has a little column along the left hand side of the page for tracking your sent "s" and received "r" cards. It makes sense to me, so I use it. This is where the etiquette comes in.

Do we send one to you every year if you don't send us one? Do we send you one if you have sent one in the past couple of years (but not the most recent year)? There are several people who have never sent us cards, yet we will always send them a card (it's mostly family). Are you trying to tell us something if you don't send a card? 2009 was a difficult year, do we assume you didn't send a card because you didn't send anyone a card? Or are you trying to shorten your list and we got cut? How do we know when to give up and stop sending you a card? We send around ninety cards, so you can see why I am concerned.

If you send us a card, we appreciate it more than you know (or maybe you'll understand a little better after reading this post). Thank you for thinking of us and making the season a little bit happier!

Friday, January 7, 2011

like the man on the flying trapeze

On the Today show this morning, they started a new segment, "Have You Ever...". Natalie went first and she went to the New York School of Trapeze (here's the link to the video, I hope). As I watched her, I realized if there was one thing I could do, it would be that. I don't want to jump out of an airplane, or hang glide, or climb a mountain. Swinging from the monkey bars was one of my favorite things to do in my childhood. A girl down the street had a swing set with monkey bars and I remember going down there and hanging from them, doing flips and dreaming of being a gymnast. As I got older and my arms got longer, I could swing and skip two bars! I had incredible upper body strength which was probably the combination of the monkey-ing around and playing softball. If and when I hit the ball, it could go pretty far. In fact I pride myself on still being able to shock jocks at church softball. I'll walk up to the plate for the first time and they all move in. Then I swing and hit that ball into the outfield. Next time I'm up to bat, they don't move in. Unfortunately I have great aim and always hit the ball right toward an outfielder. Oh well, at least I can still hit the ball.

Back to the flying trapeze, yes even with my fear of heights (which is really only up on high buildings, bridges or free falling) this doesn't seem to phase me. Probably because the room Natalie was in was pretty cozy. It was New York City after all. It's not like they have room for a football field sized room. It looked more like the size of a basketball court. I think I could handle it either way. It made me realize how much I enjoyed swinging from the monkey bars... and how, if I could, I would want to do this.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

shower curtains

Yup, shower curtains. I should be more specific and say shower curtain liners. I used to buy the plastic/vinyl liners and once they got moldy, that was the end of them. I would go buy another liner which had the same result. In the six years of buying shower curtain liners, I bet we went through at least a dozen. Shortly after we moved here, and I had thrown yet another two in the trash (our tub here needs two because it is exposed on the end and the side), I read that nylon shower curtains are better. You know, the kind hotels use. First, you can wash them. Second, because they're nylon, they resist mold. I decided to look for them in the store. I really wanted a change, because I hated throwing all that plastic away.

I did not find nylon liners, but I did find 100% polyester liners. They have held up through many washes and while they still can get a little mold on them (only in the summer months when it's humid all the time and the fan doesn't get turned on in the bathroom) I just throw them in the wash with a little bleach and presto! Clean. No throwing them in the trash. No more waste. These two liners that we have have been in use for four years. And they are showing no sign of wear!

And as one friend said when she came to visit, "they make the shower feel so much more luxurious." Huh! Who knew?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

apples & carrots

Strange title for a post, let me explain.

Last year, I decided to try to eat a fruit or veggie a day. Yes, just one. Baby steps. Well it worked. I eat a lot more than just one fruit or veggie a day and it started with apples for lunch. That is one of my favorite things to eat. A Honeycrisp apple with natural peanut butter. It's filling, tasty, crunchy, and sweet all at once. It hits all of my cravings. I also enjoy fresh blueberries and strawberries in my yogurt, but I miss the crunch (hence my need for granola). From spring through early winter, I can have these fruits for my lunch and am quite satisfied. Then comes winter.

The Honeycrisp apples last a long time in my fridge. When I went back to the local apple orchard late this fall, the Honeycrisp season was over. The woman recommended Fuji. They were okay, but not as sweet as my Honeycrisp. After the Fuji were gone, I bought a couple Honeycrisp from the grocery store, knowing they were really from Washington, or somewhere far away. The flavor was completely different. I could tell. Time to look for something new.

I've found a winter alternative. Carrots and hummus. Sure the carrots are also from someplace far away, but at least they're labeled organic and they keep for a long time. I like to buy them as seen in the picture, and cut them up myself. That's how my mom always kept carrots and they have more flavor (in my opinion) than those baby carrots. Add in some hummus (which is at least made in Michigan) and it's just as filling as my apple.

I did freeze some berries, so I'm going to pull those out for some smoothies just to mix it up a bit. I may buy some rice cakes too (the cheesy ones are my favorite). Notice anything about my cravings? I enjoy crunching. I don't know why?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

magazine catch up

Thank goodness for combined issues of December/January or January/February. I always find myself falling behind when it comes to reading my magazines. Especially at this time of year. So when the magazine companies decided to combine issues, probably to save them money, I jumped for joy! Not actually, but I should. The combined magazine means one less I have to read and one more month to read it. I still have a November issue to read, I'm that far behind.

I used to be sad when I had to wait the extra month to get the next new magazine, but I guess I'm just to busy. It's not like I get that many magazines... I receive four magazines. Two are gift subscriptions and the one I get because I'm a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation - just in case I needed to justify my magazine expenditures to you. The fourth subscription is one I've been getting for almost twenty years, so why stop now? They are practically giving me the magazine. I think that subscription is renewed through 2017.

Bill, on the other hand, receives three subscriptions. All of which have been through Skylar's school fundraiser. He's about to pick up one more subscription because it's only $5. He could probably blog about that himself. All of the magazines he gets are about cars. Which leads me to beg the question: how many magazines can one person read on one topic? Stop. Don't even go there. I know he loves cars and the answer to that question is infinity. He could read about cars forever. I know that.

That's all, excuse me while I go catch up on my magazine reading...

Monday, January 3, 2011

to go to the gym or buy a treadmill

That is the question. I like to compare cost. So if I look at something basic, for instance the local Salvation Army Community Center that opened near our home; the cost for a year membership is $360/person plus the registration fee of $50. Multiply that by two and you get $820/year. Or we could purchase monthly memberships for the months of December, January and February. The monthly fee is $30 plus the registration fee (in both scenarios I am assuming we each have to pay the registration fee), again $50/each. 30 x 3 = 90 + 50 = 140 x 2 = 280. Okay, $280 isn't bad for three months.

Or, we could go to the mall and walk there for free. I now have my fancy pedometer that lets us know how far we've walked. That will only cost us gas, and the distance to the mall is 2.62 miles. If we average 25mpg that equals $.66 to the mall and back. We should be walking every day, but life has been busy. Let's say we walk three times a week 3 x .66 = 1.98 x 4 = 7.92 let's just round that up to $8/month is what we would pay to go walk for free.

Or, we could purchase a treadmill. I've been looking online at different models, prices and reviews. Let's take an average treadmill at $600 (I would use an incline, but not the "crosswalk" arm things). We would use it during the winter months or when it's raining. Both Bill and I would use it and we could use it every day. It would only take two winter seasons to have gotten our monies worth out of it. Of course, that's assuming it lasts for more than two years. While the cost of the "gym" membership would now be doubled because that's another year we have to pay for.

Or, we keep walking at the mall, dorks and all. For $24 a season until we have the money to buy a treadmill.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Prodigal Daughter"

That's Bill's line. I'm using it for my blog, I hope he doesn't mind. Let's see if I can explain it.

When I went away to college, I knew I would go somewhere far away. I always thought I would like to end up on the east coast, around Boston. Instead I went south to Savannah which was gorgeous (minus the gnats, heat and humidity). Of course we're used to humidity around here, but add that heat and it's unbearable. There is a reason I live in Michigan and love it. Back to school; I would only come home on breaks which were Thanksgiving through New Year's, spring break (which was always during St. Patrick's Day) and summer break. Then I met Bill and we got married. We lived in Southgate, Michigan for just over a year. Right after September 11, 2001 we moved (back) to Savannah, Georgia. We lived there for just about thirteen months before moving to Ocean Grove, New Jersey. From there we moved to Toms River, NJ. Through all of these moves, we took any vacation time we had to visit our parents or to "come back" for weddings. Bill was absent for a couple of those, due to his chained-to-retail job (that means few to no weekends off). So through all of this I was not able to visit with friends "back home" as much as I would have wanted. Then we moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I've mentioned several times how much I love it here. It feels like home. I am very happy, and I just love all that there is to do here. I really enjoy this town.

This also means that we are closer to my family. A drive from our door to my parents door is four hours. We don't have children so we only have to stop once, if that. I have probably been to see my parents at least once every other month since we have moved back. (yes, to my friends who live there; if you are reading this, I haven't let you know every time I've been in town. I'm just that popular!)

This brings me to my blog title. I get that the people at the church in which I grew up have missed me. For a long time (four years of college plus six years living out of state) I wasn't around and I wasn't in church with my parents every Sunday. When I was there, visiting, it was a big deal. Mom would ask for prayers for safe travel the Sunday before we came. Everyone would welcome me (or us as the case may be) and it was nice. I could feel the love. In fact, so much so that I had a melt-down the first Christmas Eve we spent in Toms River. Not because I wasn't with my family, but because it wasn't the tradition I was used to and I missed it.

So, being that I go down there now at least every other month (or the average equals that) you would think that people at that church would get tired of seeing me. Oh no. In fact, each time I show up it's like I've been gone forever. I know that many of the members who remember me from when I was a little girl are getting pretty old. But do they have to act like they haven't seen me in years? What am I supposed to say?

It happened today. The last time we were there for church was in September. Okay, fine. That's been awhile. But the time before that? This summer. Twice. And then last spring. I'm there at least four times a year. Yet I had several people who came up to me this morning and greeted me like they hadn't seen me in ten years. The one woman (whose mind really is going) said, "Is this who I think it is???" I looked at my mom, as if to say, "well, who does she think I am?" and someone else broke the ice by saying, "If you think it's her daughter, you're right!" He was being silly. He's seen me and remembers me. She remembered me, but not that I had been there recently. How am I supposed to react? I just don't know anymore.

At the end of the service I saw a friend. Her brother was a year behind me in high school and she was three years behind me. She said, "Weren't you just here?" I laughed and told her she was my new hero. She not only remembers that I was there recently, but she didn't make me feel like I don't come there enough. Don't get me wrong, I love that church family and I enjoy seeing them when I'm there. But please, remember that I don't live that far away anymore and I am actually in town quite a bit more than before. Not every Sunday. But isn't every two months enough? It's like I can't cut that umbilical cord... If they ever give me a coat or a feast, maybe I'd understand.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


We celebrated Christmas with my parents, my sister, her fiance and our niece. That was fun, especially when Skylar got a "Bop-it" from Grandma and Grandpa and while I was trying to take a picture of Uncle Bill, he kicked his foot out (this of course depends on who's telling the story, he insists he merely put his foot out) and the camera swung out of my hands in grand fashion. Since I was sitting on a bean bag chair, the camera crashed squarely on my forehead. Mind you, this is the second head injury I've received in one week. (remember the cd from the attic cleaning?)

When we finally all woke up this morning and got going we headed down to the State Museum where we wandered around until our tickets let us into the Titanic exhibit. It was pretty neat. The tickets are all passengers who were on the Titanic. We were all in 2nd class except for mom, she was in 3rd class. All of us women survived, but all of the men did not. I was actually more impressed with the museum-goers who stayed in a line to go through the entire exhibit. I think that was the most orderly I have ever seen an exhibit.

I have lots of photos, but I don't have the cord. I'll post them sometime this week. (uh oh, now I said it. That means I have to do it.)