Sunday, June 29, 2014

Making our house a home

It's our 8th anniversary in Grand Rapids! It doesn't seem like it's been that long, but it has. We've lived here more than twice as long as anywhere else.

The city has more to offer and has become the hip place to put on a list.

We're fond of it.

We should get out more and explore it, but we're busy working on the house.

We have seen a great deal of the city. There are just so many restaurants we want to try, plus all the free concerts and other art festivals it can start to become overwhelming. Plus it's more fun to do with friends.

Eight years is a long time and I'm happy to be here.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

we're going to the chapel...

It's Saturday. We're off to a wedding. It's for friends of ours, Josh and Stephanie. They are a part of the young adult group at our church. They also joined the leadership team for the Sr. High work camp a few years ago. They have been busy finished college and getting jobs. We are very excited for them and are happy to be able to drive across America's high five (that's where they grew up) to enjoy the celebration.

Honestly, we vacillated as to whether or not to go. We haven't seen them in awhile, and it's across the state. It's a Saturday in the summer. There are a lot of other things we could be doing. But, in the end, I came to the conclusion that going to a wedding is showing support for all the weddings we've missed. It's also showing our support for those who can't make it. Next time you can't go to a wedding don't feel guilty; think of it that way. Someone else is going to support the couple. Or the next time you can go to a wedding, remember that you're showing support for those who can't.

Friday, June 27, 2014

summer reading


I repeat, whew!

I finished "Anna Karenina". As a friend (and reader of this blog) stated, "I thought I needed to read the classics…" Well Robin, I don't think we do.

I'm not sure how I feel. I googled it after I finished it. That helped. Tolstoy was the first writer to use conscious stream of thought of characters. Okay, I can appreciate that.

I also get that it was one of the first novels to have factual events. It also had a lot of politics and class system viewpoints.

Overall, not my favorite book. It was not as bad as "Vanity Fair", I'll tell you that.

I am definitely ready to move on and read something a bit more entertaining. I am also looking for something written in English (no more foreign writers for awhile).

On my reading list are the Mary Poppins books, and a book whose title I don't remember. It was a gift in a beach bag, and it wasn't anything special. I also have catching up on magazine reading.

Happy reading!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

card making creativity

Last night, as a continuation of my creativity, I went to a fellow Quotarian's house where we stamped cards. I've gone there before and posted my creations in a couple of spots (here and here).

The cards seemed to be a little more intense this time and I didn't finish a couple of them. It could have been that a friend went with me and we chatted. I can't do two things at once. It was either talk or stamp. Based on the amount I finished, I chose talk. Maybe the cards weren't anymore difficult than usual.

I have taken pictures and worked on finishing a few of them. I will finish the others and post their pictures all together.

I got a lot of good ideas and am excited to keep making cards.

I've really enjoyed my stay-cation/week off. I had lunch with a friend. I've been creative. I started removing the paint in the guest room. I've read (I'm almost finished with Anna Karenina!) and I've purposefully relaxed. I should do this more often.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

today's project with bottle caps

Last month, I blogged about a craft I made from the corks we have collected over the years.

We have also saved bottle caps from various beverages (cream soda, root beer, beer). I had the idea to glue the bottle caps onto the powder room door awhile ago. Today I did it.

Here's the half-way finished product.

I know we don't have enough to do the top half of the door. However, we do have enough to do the other side of the door.

That's for another day.

This took me two hours. By the end, my knees hurt and my butt was sore from sitting on the kitchen floor. I started out on an ottoman, but had to move off of it to reach further down.

It was fun and I like how it turned out. I'm thankful for creativity (no Pinterest for me)!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

my flower garden *with pictures!

I'm going to go out and take a few pictures of my garden and flowers. I planted them Memorial Day weekend and took photos then. I want to show how much they've grown (or lack thereof). It's been raining a lot. They will probably take off later this week. I'll take more pictures.

I wanted to go ahead and write otherwise I may forget. If you're lucky, I'll post pictures later tonight.

*Here you go!
In order we have:
the herbs from the greenhouse
 Same herbs in their pots
Herbs now 
(The flower pot with the seedlings is cilantro growing from seed. I just planted them last week!)
The herbs had to be separated to get more sunlight on the deck.
The dill is out of control. Need any dill?
 Now for the front yard.
The front flower bed right after it was planted.
 The front flower bed today. 
Note the cocoa mulch that has been spread. It keeps the slugs away. With all this rain, that is important! I wouldn't have any flowers today if I hadn't put down this mulch.
 It also makes it smell like chocolate after it rains. That is definitely a pleasant smell.

 Up close Tiger Lilies with Husker Red Penstemon in the background.
Now for the back flower bed. This used to have a rose planted in it. I absolutely loved the color of the rose (peachy orange to a yellow, my favorite combo). It had not bloomed much in recent years. This spring, I pulled the rose out because, well it had died. It came out very easily and there was not much root to it. I think the location was not ideal and it had not been cared for as well as it should have been (both by us and previous owners). We'll try roses again once we build a new garage. 

In the meantime, I planted a dahlia (far right), two petunias (middle), and a dianthus (far left).
 Here you can really see the dianthus doing well. The dahlia is also growing, but it doesn't have any blooms on it yet. I should give it some plant food.
 There you go. I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Like I said, with all this rain, things should start to take off. I will take more pictures as things continue to bloom.

Monday, June 23, 2014

A week off

This is my week off.

Technically, I have the entire summer off. But that's from my job at the church as Jr. High Youth Director and Assistant for Adult Education. I'm still Wedding Coordinator which never has a day off. And I have my summer job with Heather doing landscaping.

I'm not working for Heather this week, I don't have any weddings, and I haven't volunteered to make anyone else's garden pretty.

Woo hoo!

Oh wait, I can't get too excited. I created a summer to-do list. I have to get working on that.

We're fixing up the guest bedroom (which I mentioned here), I have a couple of exterior windows to paint and scrape, I have that table for the guest room that needs work done to it, and there's just normal house cleaning that I didn't get done over the weekend. Not to mention there's a neighborhood ice cream social tomorrow night, a card-making (stamping) party Wednesday night, a teen's musical Friday night, and a wedding that we're attending Saturday night.

So much for the week off.

I also have a summer bucket list of sorts. Most of those things listed above are on it. I also have:
     finish reading Anna Karenina

Guess what?

I'm almost finished with it.

I may try to finish it tonight.

I also have:
     strawberry picking
     play with Lego's
     go to the beach (and not get burnt)
     frame artwork

It's not exactly a thrilling summer to-do list, but it will keep me on track.

Did you make a summer list?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

fog burns

Sami and I took a couple of high school students to the beach yesterday.

It's Pure Michigan which means there was a woman at the beach in a fleece. It also means the water temperature was cold enough that the air temp created a fog over the lake.

I put sunscreen on, but either I didn't do a very thorough job or missed some spots because I got sunburnt. Even when it's foggy you can get a sunburn.

Let this be an important lesson to you.

I was sitting under a beach umbrella too.

I'm not sure what happened.

The sun is clearly stronger than fog, sunscreen and a beach umbrella when it comes to my delicate, pale-no-more skin.

I wanted to even out my landscapers tan.

Well, I did that!

I'm thankful that I don't have a sunburn on every part of my body, just my upper chest and thighs. It could have been much, much worse.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

guess who was in town?


We saw them in concert tonight.

They played at Meijer Gardens. It's a beautiful venue, outside with terraced lawn seating. We went with our friends Jason and Chandra (you'll remember we went to the Tigers game with them two weeks ago).

This concert was the last one for this tour. The tour was promoting their recent album, "Rivers in the Wasteland". You'll recall Bill bought me their album and I blogged about it here.

It was a great night. It was a little breezy, a partly cloudy sky, and a beautiful setting. I did keep track of their set list. They played new songs and a few from older albums (but the most recent, not from the two oldest albums).

They closed the night with three encore songs. The last one being a song called, "More Heart, Less Attack". Bear, the lead singer, explained that after their last album and tour he and his brother, Bo, weren't speaking. They finally worked it out and made this album (it may have been during the making of this album, I don't remember exactly). At any rate, this song speaks volumes about their experience  and as the title says, can teach us all about being more kind.

It's not that they just sang this song, but it was the three original band members; Bear, Bo and Seth standing around a microphone with just their instruments. The entire audience got quiet. It was so quiet I could hear the birds chirping.

It was amazing.

They have ended other concerts doing the same thing with other songs. But it has never been so quiet. I was especially impressed because we were outside. At previous concerts, indoors, there has still been some kind of noise usually talking. But not last night.

I'm thankful for musicians and their talent especially Needtobreathe.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Yeah, no

Bill made fun of me for saying this.

I became determined to figure out where I've heard it.

It turns out it's the new answer to give.

My mom has said it. Heather has said it. Receptionists have said it. Bill himself has said it. Everyone is saying it. That's where I picked it up.

Have you said it? It's typically your answer when someone asks you a question that you would normally answer no, but for some reason we have started agreeing with the person first. Then we say no. It really doesn't make sense. It further complicates the conversation not to mention the already convoluted English language.

So yeah, no. I'm done with this post.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Empty Nest

Who knew, after nine months of having a houseguest that we would feel the "empty nest" syndrome.

Bill may not, but I do. In a small way.

For those of you who didn't know, we had a friend (Bill and he went to Central together) who needed a place to live. I had felt a call to help out someone else, so when this actual plea went out, I knew I was being called to be there for him. After all, Bill had lived with him and his [now ex] partner in Detroit for two years. It was the least we could do to pay him back in a small way.

Time may not heal all wounds, but it does help to lessen the pain.

Let me just say, a lot happened in the last nine months. It wasn't always pretty and it wasn't always easy. I discovered a lot about myself and I hope that I grew in this time.

We gave him respite and a place to heal. With absolutely no expectations (no rent, no asking for money for electricity, etc) other than to buy his own groceries half way through, he had a roof over his head and his cat's.

Now he's gone. The room is empty. The attic is empty (we had cleaned the attic and the basement back in the late summer in anticipation of his moving here with his stuff). The basement still has a few boxes, but they're tucked away in a corner out of the way.

Bill and I are going to re-do that room which is our guest room. Sort of like what happens when parents are empty-nesters. We'll give it a fresh paint job, new window treatments, scrape the popcorn off the ceiling and re-finish the wood floors (which have been in poor shape since we moved in eight years ago).

We have an antique table from a friend's deceased grandfather. It was given to us back when I was refinishing antique furniture. I have since had a revelation that I can use that table in the newly finished guest room.

This past weekend, Bill pulled it out of the garage and I removed the newspaper that it had been wrapped up in. It needs a little more work then I realized. One of the dowels on the leg is broken. I'm going to have to drill it out and replace it. Then I'm going to sand it. And then, if I can handle it, I'm going to paint it. It's not like it's mahogany or anything like that. If anything it's oak, probably pine. The legs are turned. I'll take pictures. Like always.

I'll also take pictures of our progress on the guest room. Which is completely empty and full of echoes.

I'm thankful for fresh starts.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Tonight Bill made taco burgers.

Except they didn't taste like tacos. They tasted like burgers. I guess that means he's just going to have to try again.

For our side, I made beer-battered onion rings. The recipe is also for beer-battered apple rings but I've never made those. Tonight, I decided to use up a couple of apples that I've had sitting in the fridge. What better way to use them then deep-frying them?

While the apples could have been a little more fresh and crisp, the concept was delicious. I sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar. It was like dessert.

It was also a bonus because I only had part of an onion. Rather than cut up a whole one and have too many onion rings, or cut the old one and part of a new one, the apples rounded out the quantity.

Now to get the taco burgers down pat… pun intended.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The rest of the landscaping

I told you that I finished Lynne's yard on Friday. This is the section that I worked on Thursday and Friday, and at the very bottom of the post is the finished front bed with the cocoa mulch.

This smaller flower bed is to the left of her front door, under the living room window. I wanted to fill it with brighter flowers that she can enjoy from inside.
It had been tilled by her son, but you can see the grass was still invading the space. 
Katrina, her daughter, came out and dug it out for me.
I didn't do a great job with photos during the process. This flower bed required a paver wall be put back in place (Max had removed it when he tilled). 
 Here it is, ready for the pavers to be put back in place. Bill came and helped that day. He added in garden soil and peat. 
 And this is the finished product. This photo has an aster, a coral bell, a sun drop, zinnias and forget-me-nots.
Here is another coral bell, russian sage, and sedum.
All the little black spots are peat surrounding the zinnias and forget-me-nots that Katrina grew from seed. There is also another aster, sun drop, coral bell, russian sage and sedum.
Here's the front bed with the mulch.

The mulch really highlights those stones I dug out and placed into the semi-random patterns.
 Bonus, the cocoa mulch will help keep the slugs away!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Leaves of three

This morning, I decided to do some weeding in the backyard. Mostly it was in effort to rid myself of my ridiculous tan. There was also a small amount of weeds/tiny trees growing that needed to be uprooted.

Everything was going just fine. I had thrown my work gloves into the wash pile, so as I was weeding it, I was bare-handed.

Needless to say I learned a lesson. Don't garden without gloves. Ever.

Why? Poison Ivy. That's why.

I have never seen it in our yard before. Yet, there it was. As I was pulling weeds and tiny trees, it was hiding among them. It fooled me into pulling it. That's when I looked at it, saw the three leaves, the red centers and the vine and said, "Oh, poison ivy!"

I dropped it, went inside and rinsed my hands. Then I rinsed them some more. And then I washed them. I put on gloves, went outside and picked up the wicked foliage and threw it away. Then I went and washed my hands again.

This is only the second time I have ever gotten it. I had never seen it before the first time I accidentally touched it. That was at work camp in Bay City in 2009. I was pulling weeds then too. I seem to recall that I was wearing gloves. The other leader pointed at it and told me what it was. It had brushed my arm. We rinsed it off immediately. I had a small tingling on my arm for about a week. I resisted the urge to scratch it.The allergy pill that I take daily seemed to help then.

I was sort of surprised that I had never seen it before. All those years of going to church camp. If I had seen it, I didn't know it. I'm sure I never got into it.

I remember asking my dad what it looked like (since he's an Eagle Scout), but since he didn't have any to show me, he could only describe it. That was before the internet. He did a really good job. Maybe that's why I never got into any at camp. I avoided anything with three leaves.

I really need to remember to watch out for it. Especially since we have it in our yard now.

My finger is a little tingly and slightly swollen. I'm using an anti-itch cream for it. I hope it goes away fast since I rinsed it right away.

I guess I'm thankful I realized what it was and that I've learned my lesson to ALWAYS wear gloves.

Friday, June 13, 2014

strawberry time

The garden is all finished. I even mulched and got the rock wall weeded. Photos are on my camera, but I'm not moving to go get it tonight. You'll have to wait for pictures.

In the meantime, strawberries are ready for the picking. As part of my payment, Lynne gave me two pints (or are they quarts?) of fresh picked Michigan strawberries.

I have heard that a vinegar/water wash keeps them fresh longer. I googled it and found several blogs claiming this is true. I am trying it. The strawberries are currently drying. You air dry them so the vinegar dissipates.

I had some California strawberries that started to go bad so I did the vinegar wash this morning. I have since cut them up and put them in my water glass and I don't taste any vinegar, so that part worked.

Now I have to see if this actually keeps them fresher longer.

Either way, I'm excited and thankful for strawberries.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

My gardening skills

I finished the front flower bed today. So I'll post pictures of it from the beginning.

First, you'll recall I had to remove the grass that had overgrown it. You'll see the bed itself is outlined with a stone edge (on all sides).
 Yup, I removed all that grass. To give you an idea of how long it is, two SUV's park in front of the rock wall. Based on the length of the Flex, it's at least thirty feet.
 In the midst of digging on Monday.
 Most of the bed is four to five feet wide. Here, along the driveway, it curves around another five feet or so.
 The cars were to help with the length...
 I bought flowers and set them all out. They sure do look purdy!
 I did it, I dug it all out.
 See, all of it!
 Then there were these smallish rocks. So I got creative and made a few designs.
 Heather taught me how to make a little moat around each plant. This helps keep the dirt from washing away when they get watered.
 You can see some of the rocks along the edge of the wall. 
 Here you can see the rocks, "puddling" over an old tree stump.
 I'm trying to show the little rocks and the pattern I made.
 Oops, I didn't rotate the photo. 
And this is the far end, happy little plants!

What did I plant? Verbena, geraniums, petunias, bee balm, hosts, pincushions, daisies of some type, penstemen, and poppies. I'll have to go back next month and take another picture. Hopefully everything will be filled out by then.

Tomorrow (and maybe next week) I'll be back to work on the flower bed up by the house. I'm taking pictures of that too. 

Oh, and we'll also try to mulch this bed tomorrow.

I am thankful that I got it done! 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Outfits and icebergs

I'm practicing to be someone famous only without the money or the talent. I had five outfit changes today. Yes, five.

The first outfit change was after the capri pants I was wearing met an untimely end (just got dirty) when my flip flops flipped and flopped muddy parking lot water onto my backside.

Outfit number two was changed when I went to go clean the basement with super duper cleaning product. I didn't want to ruin my "good" clothes.

Outfit number three was exchanged for my running clothes.

The running clothes were replaced by lounge clothes.

Also, in case you're wondering, there is still ice on Lake Superior. It has all broken up and is mostly icebergs floating around the great lake, but still… it's June 11th and there's ice. Here is the link to the Memorial Day post, my favorite is the beer siting in the ice on the beach.

And because it happens ALL the time, the Detroit Tigers catcher, Avila, just got hit by a ball (he's batting). We aren't laughing at his misfortune, but it is uncanny how often he gets hit. It's rarely because he's crowding the plate; it's from a foul ball, when he's batting, or other random wild pitches or hits. Seriously, it happens at least once a game.

I'm thankful that I wasn't successful at being a catcher in softball. Dad tried, but I liked first base or short stop. I could not get used to having the batter that close. And now that I think about it years later, I have really good depth perception. I shouldn't have been afraid, but I was terrified.

It probably would have helped if I'd kept my eyes open.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

chapstick, energy drink, and a woodchuck

I went back and kept on digging out the grass at Lynne's. While I was digging, I found a "natural" (empty) tube of lip balm. I guess I can't say it was Chapstick because the label was missing. I threw it away.

I also found a crushed energy drink can. I recycled it.

Oh! I forgot to mention that yesterday I found a quarter. I have definitely earned it.

When I got home, because I'm slightly insane, I ran. While running I saw a woodchuck. He ran the opposite direction, into the woods.

There you have it. My day in three things.

I thought about writing a haiku. I'm too tired to think that much. You got this instead. We all win.

I'm thankful that I got the one garden dug out. It's ready for pretty flowers.

Monday, June 9, 2014

My Gardener's tan

I am ready to go to bed. I worked hard today.

I am not working for Heather this week. I am working for a church friend.

She has two flower beds that had become overgrown with grass. Her teenage son tilled up one of the gardens. However, when I arrived this morning, the prepared bed was sleeping under a blanket of blue tarp and roof shingles.

She's having another church member re-roof her house.

These are all great things, and I want to make sure this doesn't sound like I'm complaining.

The other garden needed to be prepared so to do that I used a shovel and started cutting lines and removing sections the reverse of how sod it laid. I got about half of it done. Then I went and bought plants, garden soil, and a few other items.

I'll be going back to continue working on the flower beds tomorrow.

I'm taking pictures. I want to wait to share them when it's all finished.

Needless to say all this work outside is giving me quite the unusual gardner's tan. I wear a hat, so my face isn't getting burnt. But the back of my neck has missed some sunscreen applications. My arms are gloriously tan between my t-shirt sleeve line mid-way down my upper arm and my gardening glove line at m wrists. My legs are almost completely white because I wear long pants. And then, because I've worn a few v-neck t-shirts, I have a crazy v-shaped tan that fades into white. I'm definitely not taking a picture of my tan. The sun has been lovely and I'm thankful for it.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Take me out to the ball game...

Back at Christmas, Bill was sent an email from CMU to buy tickets to a Tigers game on June 6th as an alumni event. We asked our friends Chandra and Jason if they would like to come with us.

Friday, June 6th arrived and the four of us headed to Detroit (Motor City) to Comerica Park. We found the alumni reception where we each got our free popcorn and free CMU t-shirts. We had some refreshing beverages and then went out found out stadium seats.

There is no such thing as a bad seat in newer stadiums. We were along the third base line, well into outfield. There were only about four more sections to the end. We were also in the third tier. Again, not bad seats, we had a great view of the entire field. The down side only came when a ball was hit high; then perspective really threw us all off and we had a difficult time figuring out where it was going to land. Fortunately, the Tigers did not have that perspective and were able to make several easy catches.

My phone quickly died. But Chandra and Bill had theirs, so we have a few good pictures. Like this one.

Then there's this one.
 We were having way too much fun. Can  you see Jason in the background (just behind Bill's left ear) paying close attention to the game. I watched most of the game, but it is baseball. Talking is allowed.
And so are silly photos.

The Tigers beat the Red Sox 6-2. It was a great game with a couple of home runs. 

We stayed for the fireworks which were not disappointing. They were spectacular! And our seats were perfect. The majority of the fireworks were right at our level. It was a lovely evening.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Free no more

As I have gone up north to work for Heather W. doing summer landscaping I have been able to check my email and blog. I have not used her internet, but a neighbor's wireless. Hey, if it's not password protected, it's open.

And now it's no longer an option because they either password protected it or moved. This means I don't have internet. Unless I want to get on Heather's computer, but I really don't. It's okay if I don't check my email every night. It's okay if I don't blog every day. Sure, there are things that come up, but they can wait a day.

So if you're trying to get a hold of me, the best way would be to try my cell phone. If I don't answer, then I can't talk and just like back in the day when people left messages on answering machines, I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Or, if you can, text me. It's definitely easier to send a quick text.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

splish splash

After I finished my lunch today, I decided to make some juice. I've been buying frozen juice and one of the flavors is Cranberry Pomegranate.

I had set it out to thaw earlier this morning. As I pulled the tab around the top, it slipped out of my hands and basically spilled/splashed all over me, and half of the kitchen.

Instead of cleaning up the kitchen, I ran upstairs and changed. I took my shirt and capris and immediately soaked them in the sink. Because it was concentrate and it was red.

Later, after I washed the clothes, it looks as though there are no stains. Whew!

I also cleaned up the kitchen. It looked like a watery murder scene. I bet I'll still be finding red concentrate over the next few days.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Early bird

It has been another busy day.

I spent the day at the office, finishing my hours for Pastor Tish and the Adult Education "hat" I wear.

I'm now done for the summer.

Jr. High is not over yet. Confirmation Sunday is this coming Sunday. Then, in August, we'll have our mission week. I have a little bit of planning and coordinating to get that all set.

When I got home I ran/walked. I ate dinner, swept the driveway, ran the vacuum, did my workout/yoga, made baked oatmeal, and washed dishes.

Now I'm working on a few things before I go to bed. I have two emails to send out regarding this Sunday. I could probably wait and send them in the morning.

It is getting late. I was up early. You really do get a lot done when you start the day early. My parents laughed when I told them that. They have done their share of getting up early. Dad is retired and Mom is semi-retired and they are enjoying it. I think it's great.

But for now, I have things to get done.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

church, pies, open houses, dinner with friends

There you go. That's my day in the title of this post.

Oh? You wanted more detail than that?

We went to church. It was our last Confirmation class. As Bill and I were starting to watch the late Tigers game last night (it started at 10pm) we decided we could stay up a little late because church doesn't start until 10am, summer hours.

Then, around 10:30pm, I jumped up, exclaimed, "I have Confirmation class at 8:45am, I should have gone to bed already!" and dashed upstairs.

We had no problems making it to Confirmation this morning. I even woke up five minutes before the alarm went off.

Then, after church, we had our teacher appreciation. We had pies. Many, many pies.

From there Bill and I went to an open house. One of many, it's that season.

We came home for a short period of time in which Bill mowed the lawn and I took a 2.5 mile walk.

Then it was back in the car to another open house and then on to dinner with friends.

We had a busy day! And I managed to blog about it.

For today I am thankful for all of these things. Pies, desserts, milestone celebrations, and our beautiful group of friends.