Wednesday, April 30, 2014

flying a kite

My Confirmation students have their last retreat this weekend. They will be working on their stoles.

Stoles that need to be measured and cut.

Guess what I did today?

While I measured and cut the material, I watched "Mary Poppins". I haven't watched it for a long time and I've been wanting to after seeing, "Saving Mr. Banks".

It was definitely a good choice to have on in the background. I know the story so I didn't have to pay close attention, and I know the words so I could sing along.

I may have even danced around the house at the end when the family comes back together and goes to the park to fly a kite.

Danced, pranced, sang at the top of my lungs… you know, typical behavior that occurs when one really gets into the song/movie.

I'm thankful for the musicians and writers that gave new life to the story (reading the books are on my list of things to do this summer).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Best day ever

At least according to my Nike Fuel Band.

If you move (your arm) for five minutes every hour, you win the hour. You hit a perfect day when you reach sixteen hours.

It's not as easy as you think. You have to have a swinging motion like when you walk. Sometimes I have to stand around swinging my arm. Some people say that's cheating. I say it isn't because I think of all the times I walk around with my hands full and my arm can't swing. I'm making up for those times.

Pushing the grocery cart? My arm doesn't swing. And if it did, I'm pretty sure someone would call the men in white coats. Have you ever tried pushing a grocery cart while swinging one arm? You look like you're having a seizure. Trust me, I tried swinging my arm once.

Carrying my work bag, purse and lunch bag to the car, into the office, back to the car, and into the house? My arm isn't swinging, it's loaded with bags.

Raking leaves? Not as much as you think. Again, you have to have a large swinging motion.

Shoveling snow? Same as raking. Only when I was shoveling snow up over high piles, did I get enough swing action to make it count on my Fuel Band.

Doing dishes? Absolutely not. Not unless I try ballet or yoga moves and that results in a broken dish, or two. (I did break a glass tonight, but not because I was trying to move my arm. It was slippery from the soap and I dropped it.)

Needless to say, reaching sixteen hours in one day requires focus. You have to actually remember to get up and move once an hour.

I've now accomplished this twice. I've won eight hours in a day, twenty eight times. That is much easier to do.

I've also earned 7200 fuel points today, and counting. I'm hoping to hit 7500 by the time I go to bed in a few minutes. The highest fuel points I've ever had before today was 6800.

I've reached my best month ever and I'm only a few thousand points away from 500,000!

This is really exciting for me. It's been a good, active day.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Fun with characters

These won't come through the same, but I've been using keyboard characters in my texts. 📱
I don't even have to use words.
I am amusing myself.
Bill may not be so amused.

This is the best thing I have to be thankful for today. It's the small things...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

spring cleaning

Our church started accepting donations for the Second Best Sale. We took a few items in that we had set aside before Labor Day. It feels so good to clear stuff out of the house.

We still have our first tv though.

Have you noticed how much tv's have changed? Okay, overall there's been a drastic change. But just in the last ten years, they've gotten so much lighter. This is why we still have that tv. It's in the basement. It's a good thing we still have it though, there were two others just like at the church sale. Sure, someone will want them. Maybe we'll be strong enough to carry it out next year.

Here's to spring cleaning!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

soundtrack of our lives

It now involves a ukulele.

That was the birthday present I gave to Bill. Well, since we were in Las Vegas (technically Henderson) visiting his parents, I couldn't exactly pack a ukulele. Plus I wanted him to be able to pick out the one he wanted.

I gave him a hand-painted watercolor of a ukulele. It was extra special because I was the painter.

Somewhere there's a picture of it.

In the meantime, Bill started looking online at actual ukulele's. Our friend Sami suggested we go to Guitar Center so Bill could hold one and try playing a couple of them.

Good suggestion! I had no idea there was more than one type of ukulele. Of course there's soprano, concert, tenor and baritone. Bill thought he wanted a tenor. Turns out, he liked the concert best.

He's learning chords and technique from the internet.

This morning, we were out cleaning up the yard. We rented a power rake. Then Bill edged the sidewalk. He had his earbuds in the entire time. At one point he was singing along. Our neighbor was also out working in her yard. When Bill started to sing, she asked what he was listening to. I replied, "the soundtrack to his life".

As I type this, I have the sweet sounds of a ukulele playing in the background. It's the soundtrack of our lives. And I like it.

Friday, April 25, 2014

spring on ice

My mom asked about ice cover on the great lakes. We just flew over the lower part of Lake Michigan on our return flight and couldn't see any ice. But that doesn't mean it's not there. In fact, there's still 35% coverage for the lakes (total). You can read more about that here. This is our weatherman's blog. I really like the facts he gives.

That is the direct link to a specific post. If you want to be thankful that it's actually spring, go to the blog main page (here) and see how much snow Minnesota and the upper peninsula got yesterday. You can still go skiing!

I'm thankful that my daffodils are blooming and my tulips have buds on them.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Catching up

Okay, look. I am way behind. I just wrote two posts and I'm still behind a day. I'm going to combine yesterday (Wednesday) and today. Mostly because the most exciting thing I did yesterday was unpack and eat dinner.

I also went to the grocery store.

Bill and I took a walk.

Today, I caught up on emails (for not having a "real" job, I had 150+ emails, yikes!), went to the pet store, bought toilet paper, and ran.

I'm also looking through my scrapbook stuff and trying to get ready to work on them tomorrow.

Because I've been posting so many pictures, I thought I'd show a few more.
 I don't remember if I posted these on Sunday, but here's Bill and me on Easter (also Bill's birthday).
 Can you tell that it was sunny? And windy?
 This was Sunday afternoon on our golf cart tour. No golf carts were harmed in the taking of this photo. Do you see the golf cart at the bottom of the twisting path? We went down and came back up!
Fun sculpture in a desert yard.

I am thankful to be back home.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday, the long trip home

We flew back on Tuesday. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:55am so we did not have to wake up ridiculously early. Heather and I managed to take a walk and I showed her a garlic plant that I saw on my walk the night before.

We made it through security without any problems. We breezed right through unlike two people behind us who managed to lose their id's in Vegas. Oops! They got the full pat-down/scan.

On our way to the gate, we passed a man who was having a difficult time walking in a straight line. In fact, he was stumbling around quite a bit. Once at the gate, we spotted him at the counter to our gate. The next time we saw him, he was being wheeled away in a wheelchair. It didn't look like he was going to make his flight. We surmised how much one has to drink to be that drunk, what happened to him in Vegas to be that drunk, and did he get drunk after security because if he came through security like that, wow.

We then noticed that the flight was delayed. If you remember Tuesday, it was really windy. At least where we were flying from and flying to. We ended up only being a half hour late. Jenny picked us up from the airport. We stayed the night at her house. We got to play with this cutie,
meet Stella. Jenny and John's puppy. 
She's only 5 1/2 pounds. We met her before we left, but I didn't take a picture until we got back. She slept in my lap that night as we sat around talking, laughing and sharing stories.

I'm thankful for good friends, cute puppies and vacations.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Monday, the last full day of vacation

On Monday, Bill, Heather, Judy and I went up to Mt. Charleston. Here are a few pictures.
 There was a fire right after we were there two years ago.
On our way up the mountain we saw the fire damage.
 The view from the scenic overlook.
 That's the tippy-top of Mt. Charleston. I don't know if you can get there via skis or rock climbing, but we didn't make it to the top.
 We made it to this point, the ski area. Which is closed for construction. 
And because there's not enough snow.

That night Bill, Heather, and I went to the Neon Museum. It's located on the far north end of downtown Las Vegas. They are restoring these signs, one at a time, and currently six of them are on the scenic by-way. Driving that route after 10pm is not recommended. We will have to try viewing those signs at another time, perhaps earlier in the evening. 

Here are my pictures from the Neon tour.
 The museum sign pays homage to notable Vegas signs. 
Trivia time: can you name the four signs that the four letters represent?
 The museum/gift shop is the lobby from the Hotel La Concha. The architect, Paul Williams, was the first prominent African American architect.
He also designed the cathedral in Las Vegas. We attended mass there a few years ago.
 It costs a lot of money to restore these signs. Any sign on the strip is grandfathered in (like there are any original ones left…) so they don't have to be updated to modern standards. If a sign is taken down, it must then be updated to modern electrical standards. Which means all the signs here have to be modernized (the wiring, not necessarily the lighted part) before they can be lit. 
There is also a lot of broken glass and signs that are heavily damaged. I just wanted to explain why many of the signs are being lit with uplighting instead of lighting up themselves (I'm sorry for that confusing sentence about lighting). 
 Did you know that all neon light is still hand-blown? I did not. Which means the yucca neon light in this picture was all hand-blown. I'm sorry I didn't get a close-up of all the curves. 
 Here's the bottom of the yucca neon sign.
 G.R. stands for Grand Rapids
 The lamp was part of Aladdin's and to the right is part of the Stardust sign. That sign was so huge, I could not get a good photo of the entire word, "Stardust". 
Here's the LaConcha sign which cost around $50,000 to restore. Hence the reason that not all the signs are restored. This also required a load of concrete underneath the sign to hold it up.

I'm thankful for historians for their dedication to saving things. These signs are amazing and I hope we can go back in the daytime to see the artwork. But the night tour was equally cool.

Answers to the trivia question about the museum sign: N = Golden Nugget, E = Caesars Palace, O = Binion's Horseshoe, and the E = Desert Inn.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Easter Sunday and Bill's birthday

8:15am church service, Sunday brunch up at the "center", golf cart driving (aka terrorizing senior citizens on the golf course, we may have been going the wrong way, that is still tbd), cribbage, euchre, pasta salad, hot wing chicken dip, and "the" birthday cake. 

All in all it was a good day. Happy Birthday to my best friend!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


I'm on vacation. If it weren't for these posts, I wouldn't even know what day it is.

It was a busy Saturday is what it was.

First, I made the homemade cinnamon rolls.

It's a good thing I cut the recipe in half, because it still made six pans full of cinnamon rolls. That's okay, they are delicious. The house smelled of cinnamon.

Until I put the pork in the oven. 

Since it had to bake for six hours Bill, Heather, and I went to Hoover Dam.
This is where I wish I had blogged earlier, but I don't even know if blogs existed when we were here in 2001.
That is so long ago. Anyway, we were here in 2001. We took the dam tour with Don and Judy.
We did not take the tour today. We just walked across the dam into Arizona. And we took pictures from the dam.
The last time we were here, this bridge did not exist. It was pre 9/11 by just a few weeks. We were visiting Vegas for our one year anniversary. Which is in August. Which meant it was hot. Ridiculous hot. I don't know if I've blogged this before, but "they" say it's a dry heat. Whatever. 110 degrees is still hot. I passed out on that trip because of heat exhaustion. Drink a lot of water if you ever visit the desert.

When we left the dam, we stopped at the scenic Lake Mead overlook. It was very pretty. Then we drove over to Hemenway Park in Boulder City and saw the Big Horn Sheep.
They decided to be camera shy and run away from us. But I caught a couple of them in digital form.
This is at Hemenway Park for a sunrise service tomorrow. Lake Mead is behind it. How beautiful of a setting is that?

When we got back to the house we ate the spicy pulled pork sandwiches. They were spicy and amazing.

Then I baked Bill's birthday cake, the peanut butter sheet cake with chocolate frosting. Pictures will be posted tomorrow.

I'm sitting outside, writing this at 8pm. It is still 80 degrees. It looks like it's going to be a clear night.

I'm not writing that to brag, I'm writing it as a statement of record for future reference. Heather is into genealogy and she tells me over and over that writing as much detail as possible is important to future generations. 

Anyway, I'm thankful for the the amazing construction of the dam. It is truly remarkable. 

Friday, April 18, 2014


We went to the conservatory at the Bellagio this morning. Then we drove over to Ethel M's for free chocolate and a walk around their botanical garden. Here are a few pictures from the Bellagio.

 I think they had every spring bulb nature has to offer on display.
 Tulips and daisies and lots of color.
 Even the Lady Bugs were made out of flowers (chrysanthemums). 
 It's not a painting, it's a work of art made out of foliage. It was amazing! 
(The woman was refreshing the plants.)
Emily, Judy, and Heather outside the Bellagio with Paris in the background. Bonjour!

I'm off to make homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast tomorrow. Later tonight, we'll be going back out to Fremont Street. We're going to celebrate Bill's birthday a few days early since Easter happens to be the same day. It's going to be crowded for sure. I doubt I'll take my camera because of how crowded it will be.

I'm thankful for creative gardens.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


After waking up at 6am local time and going for a 30 minute run/walk with Heather, the three of us (Bill, Heather and I) drove out to Red Rock Canyon. We took the trail from the Visitor's Center. It was marked "Easy" and was a two mile hike.

It took us an hour and a half. We stopped to take pictures. We also climbed up another five hundred feet or so in elevation. It's funny how fast it happens here. You know you're going up, but you don't realize how high you went until you turn around and look back down the mountain.

Here are a few pictures.

I'm thankful for the beauty and magnificent change in landscape we have in North America. In case you didn't see it, here's what we woke up to on Tuesday, in Grand Rapids:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


We spent most of the day traveling. We made it out of Detroit into Midway. We were about to board the plane there and were told there was a mechanical problem.

We waited and they told us there was another plane coming in that we would be using instead. The plane we were originally supposed to board had a hydraulic leak. All together it set us back an hour and a half.

We made it to Las Vegas. While Bill was in line for the rental car, I broke my sunglasses. On our way to his parent's house we stopped by the outlet mall so I could pick up a new pair. I couldn't go very long without sunglasses out here.

It's pretty sunny.

I was thankful we finally made it here.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


Needtobreathe's new album came out on Tuesday. Bill preordered the vinyl package back at Valentine's. He printed off the order and gave that to me then. On Monday, the order arrived. I got the vinyl record (yup, they still make records), a t-shirt, and a poster. Inside the record album was a card with a code for the digital download. Needless to say, I was excited.

The new album is called, "Rivers In the Wasteland". I didn't get it on my phone in time to listen to it on the flight. I have since rectified that situation. I have listened to it a total of two times (all the way through). So far, I like it.

I have blogged about Needtobreathe enough times that at one point, if you googled them, my blog showed up on page six.

Yes, I realize how much one would need to do to figure that statistic out, but it was true at one point.

At any rate, they are by far my most favorite band. If you haven't read my other blog posts, you may go look for them. 

Tuesday, I was thankful for their new album.

Monday, April 14, 2014

dry heat or humid

Bill and I differ on our choice of ideal temperate location.

He loves the desert. He loves visiting his parents in Henderson, Nevada. It's dry. It's usually hot. His sinuses are clearer, his skin is healthier, and his asthma doesn't bother him.

I prefer humidity. My sinuses are clearer, my skin is healthier and I can make my hair pretty wavy. I don't mind the sweat and dripping that comes with it (when it's summer).

When we've gone to visit his parents, my skin dries out, my sinuses dry out, my hair goes limp.

Bill has more allergies here. He doesn't have to worry about his hair, but his skin varies with the seasons.

All this is leading up to our trip for his birthday. I am amused by how different we are when it comes to ideal locations based on weather.

I can't wait to take pictures (yes, I'll post them). We're going to a buffet, we'll do some hiking, and we're hoping to check out the Bellagio. I'm also hoping to go to this museum. I'm going to make this cake for his birthday.

In the meantime, it's supposed to snow an inch here today/tonight.

I'm ready for 80 degrees and sunshine.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

the Posole

First, correction; it's posole not pesole. No wonder spell check didn't like the way I spelled it.

Second, it was really good. Especially for a slow cooker recipe. You can't find a recipe much easier than opening a couple of cans, and dumping them into the crockpot.

Okay, you actually have to drain and rinse the beans. But then you just dump them in. Plus a jar of salsa and hominy. Add some chicken broth and oregano, let it cook for 3 1/2 hours on high and you have dinner.

We added tortilla chips, shredded cheese (cheddar and monterey), and sour cream. That was dinner and it was good.

I'm just getting ready for Cinco de Mayo.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

back-up plans

I have had this dinner planned for weeks.

I found a new recipe in a magazine and had ripped it out. I do that often.

I have a problem.

There are pages (and pages) of ripped out magazine recipes in my kitchen.

Back to the recipe for tonight's dinner, it's Posole. I think this is some kind of mexican soup. At least if one judges the soup by its ingredients.

Bill and I had a busy day. We went to the eye doctor so Bill could get new glasses. We cleaned the house and the yard. I did a couple loads of laundry. It was just before five o'clock when I started the Posole.

I pulled everything out of the cupboard, started to heat up the oven for some homemade tortilla chips and read through the recipe.

That's when I saw the words "slow cooker" and "six hours".


If I read through it, it was so long ago that I forgot it went into the slow cooker. I may not have read through it though because it was in a category for weeknight meals and I quickly (unfortunately incorrectly) assumed that meant it would be a "quick" meal to prepare.

It is not. Even if I put it in the slow cooker on high, it was still going to take three hours. We do not eat that late.

Instead we had the back-up dinner; mac and cheese with smoked sausage. Thank goodness for the back-up stash of mac and cheese.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Peanuts! Get Your Peanuts!

I'm in a Bible study/book club/group. We formed last year during Lent. We enjoyed each other's company so much that once we were finished with the Lenten study, we decided to continue to meet.

We met through the summer, once a month. We met at parks and each other's houses.

We continued meeting through the fall and winter.

We found books and articles to read. We shared our thoughts and perspectives.

Then, Lent came around again and our church was reading another book. Were we interested? We decided yes and we started meeting again, weekly.

We've decided to continue meeting weekly because if you have to miss a meeting, you don't have to wait another month before seeing everyone again.

This morning was our last meeting for the Lenten series.

I had one of the kids on my lap. She had asked for the container of peanuts.

Before any of us knew it, she had dumped them out on the table. There was no way she was going to eat all of them and her mom quickly decided to go with the mantra, "let it go".

The peanuts were put back into the container, only to be dumped out again. This went on for the rest of the discussion.
Here she is, only she has a cookie which was the size of her head. Isn't she a cutie patootie?

At the end, I asked if I could help her put them all back into the container or if she wanted to do it all by herself. She said I could help her and together we got all the peanuts put away. I was proud of myself for giving her the choice of how to put them away, and I was proud of her for doing a good job getting them back into the container. And I was thankful to share that moment with her.

Anybody want a peanut?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pictures! Hey, I promised...

I know, try not to be shocked. Part of the reason that I actually loaded the pictures is that all I have to do is take the memory stick out of my camera and insert it directly into my laptop. Ta-da! Easy-peasy. Without further ado, here are the butterflies and a few other pics from our beautiful day at Meijer Gardens.

 Butterflies + an amazing camera = great shot
 Check out the palm in the ball in front of the large leaf...
 I enjoyed trying to use my photography skills. What do you think?
 How many butterflies do you see?
 Bright colors blooming in the conservatory, gorgeous!
It's still mostly brown, and there was still snow on the ground behind me, but I had to take a picture of the waterfall. I don't remember it being here…?

After we were finished walking around, we browsed through the gift shop. Nancy found a book on Michigan Day Trips. We have the next seven or eight years planned out.

It was a great day. I'm thankful for friends, butterflies and philanthropists (Fred Meijer).

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Tomorrow, Nancy is coming to visit. She's my Quota friend from Kalamazoo. We're going to Meijer Gardens. I haven't been there since December. I am really excited to go and take pictures. The butterflies are blooming. 

Since I'm pre-thankful today, tomorrow I'll post pictures. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Spring, Sinuses, and Slices

There are daffodils with buds on them. The snow is almost all gone. There are barrels out for road construction. They are replacing pipes (or some kind of duct work) all along our street which means the ground has thawed.

It's mid-April and spring is here.

Which also means my sinuses are full. I went to the doctor on Monday. I don't feel sick, but the constant draining led me to my decision to go in and see the doc. Our regular doctor wasn't there so I saw one of the other physicians. I liked him! He listened to me, he explained how sinuses work in laymen's terms without making me feel like an idiot, and he gave me a choice. He said that [the medical field] likes to let sinuses run their course which can take up to three weeks. Mine have only been irritating me for one week. He sent me home with a prescription for the antibiotic if my sinuses don't improve. I can chose whether or not to fill it. We also talked about a nasal spray and how that might help too. He called that one in because I have never tried it. We shall see if it helps or if I have to resort to the antibiotic.

This last one is not the best story of the day. There's no way I can tell it without you seeing where I'm going with it. I'll just get right to it. One should not sharpen a knife without paying attention to the knife. It's my best advice regarding how to handle kitchen utensils.

With that being said, I have all my fingers and tips. After the initial shock wore off, I managed to get my hands washed, grab a paper towel and press the cut. Then I ran upstairs and got it covered with a bandage. I didn't pass out. I didn't cry. I said several prayers to God as I was running up the stairs. But I'm okay. I don't need stitches. I don't need an ambulance. I thought of several friends I could call if I needed them. But I didn't have to call anyone.

Someone should check on me later. Just in case.

I'm just kidding, I'm fine.

After I triaged myself, I managed to start cooking my dinner; sweet potato hash. I started with a recipe and quickly deviated. It started with one sweet potato, several red potatoes, and an onion in a skillet. That was all in the recipe. Then it called for a turkey leg. I didn't happen to have one of those lying around, but I had a leftover pork loin and a smoked sausage in the fridge. Why not, I figured. It called for a red pepper, which I had half of a roasted one. At the end I threw in some spinach and, while it cooked down, I fried two eggs.

Here's the before, covered with fried eggs,
 and here's where I stopped to take a picture so you could see everything underneath the eggs.
It was hash. It full of everything and it was good. 

I'm thankful that my cut wasn't any worse and that I didn't pass out. And that I was still able to make dinner which was a good way to end the day.