-
RSS Follow Become a Fan

Delivered by FeedBurner


Categories

Introduction

Archives

August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
May 2016
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
May 2015
December 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
July 2012
May 2011

powered by

My Blog

September 2013

Coffee Brews Up Many Ideas.

Good morning to everyone.  Hope your weekend was wonderful and full of fun and joy. I want to share with you what happened to me yesterday upon my arrival at work at the Alzheimer Center.  The moment I  walked into the vestibule there was a sign there wishing me Happy Birthday.  Once I walked through the doors, there, at the reception table was a happy birthday note signed by everyone and a card by the director.  And to top it all off...one of the residents, named Emmy, made me two adorable bracelets.   They were wrapped in a fall napkin with ribbon.  I was so touched at this show of kindness.  Since yesterday was National Coffee Day and that was the project that we worked on....We painted a picture of a mug of coffee actually using coffee and added coffee grinds mixed with glue to the contents of the cup area and glued 3 coffee beans at the bottom of the cup....I had brought in a couple dozen Dunkin Donuts to celebrate my day.  Nothing goes better with coffee than donuts...don't you think?  The residents loved having the donuts to enjoy after our paint program and I loved sharing it with them.   It was a great way to share a birthday. 
Yesterday's activities started me thinking about what to write about today's blog...coffee.  I remember when I was growing up, my grandmother had this huge white enamel coffee pot that she used to make coffee in.  It must have held 25 cups of coffee.  I am not quite sure, but it was a lot.  She would make it early in the morning and it would sit on the stove all day long as everyone in the house partook of it's contents.  I remember that she used to use egg shells in the coffee grounds when she made the coffee.  It was always delicious, never seemed bitter.  She would then use the grounds and the eggshells in the garden for the plants. 
I remember I started drinking coffee around the age of 12.  I loved it!
Today, I have her coffee pot painted with the 4 seasons around it. I love remembering Grandma and her coffee. 
Through the years I continued drinking coffee.  It amazes me to know how different coffee's are and how different people's tastes for coffee is.  My absolute favorite coffee is Dunkin Donuts. My second choice which I purchase to make at home is Folgers.  My husbands favorite is McDonald's coffee.   I learned through the years that there are ethnic based coffees or ways to make them.  Coffee has even been the trend for designing your kitchen or Dining Room. 
Of all the commercials I ever see, the coffee ones are usually the ones that get me to cry. 
I remember when I first became a waitress coffee was 10 cents and then went to a quarter for a cup.  Now it is like 1.50 and up for a cup of coffee, and that is just the plain standard coffee.  Go to places like Starbucks and you are paying $4-$5. 
When we first got married, my husband came home with an idea for a  business...he said we should open up a coffee house.  We could serve all different types of coffee.  I thought he had lost his mind.  At that time the price of coffee was 25 cents...I couldn't imagine how we could possibly make any money....boy would I like to step back into time.  I never imagined the places coffee would take us! 
When Cappuccino makers came out...our eldest daughter absolutely wanted to have one of those machines.   Well, what she actually wanted was for me to make her cappuccino's every day! 
Now there is iced coffee...years ago, I used to put an ice cube in my coffee to make it cool enough to sip, now we drink it iced like tea.  There are all these flavors of coffee and  coffee in desserts.  I used coffee in my stew like in the days of Civil War.  I use coffee grounds down my drain to scrub it out every so often and now I learned to paint with coffee.  I am amazed with the effects that it has and plan on putting together some designs.  The strength of the coffee allows for the different shadings and the final results look like a sepia picture.  It is awesome! 
We never seem too old to learn something new.  Life is a continuous lesson.  We should never underestimate the value of a thought or an idea.  So brew yourself a cup of coffee today...sip and enjoy and maybe brew up a new idea!

Cotton Candy Dreams

Good morning all...Hope your day is filled with joy. Today I am celebrating my Birthday.  I am teaching art with the Alzheimer's and plan on bringing them some cupcakes.  I am sure they will all be excited with that. 
As for today's blog, I thought I would go back in time to birthday parties.  I was so very fortunate to have been treated with wonderful memories of marvelous birthday parties.  There were always parties, favors, decorations, and hats.  I remember one particular year, my party was in the garden at my Grandma's where we lived in Chicago.  There were all kinds of picnic tables and tables with umbrellas and streamers and balloons everywhere.  Growing up as a child...I was always in a pretty birthday dress with loads of crinolines underneath.  My grandmother would have pin curled my hair the night before so that it would look perfect for the festivities.  When I think back on those pincurls...my, they were something else to sleep in.  These little clips of metal everywhere.  Even as a child we went through torture treatments to look beautiful. 
Well, the party had all types of games that we played like pin the tail on the donkey and drop  the clothespin in the milk bottle.  There were always prizes for the games, food was always prepared by grandma.  There was usually fried chicken, potato salad, a jello mold and Ketchup...loads of ketchup!!  For those of you who don't know me personally...Ketchup and I go together like peanut butter and jelly.  I am the queen of ketchup.  In fact, the other day a dear friend gave me a recipe book on everything to do with ketchup.  There was even dessert recipes in the book..YUMMM...I now plan on having a red hat event celebrating Heinz ketchup. 
Well, back to the party.  It was always made into the most special time for me.  I must say, upon looking back, I was quite the spoiled child!  After the games and the food it was time for presents.  I remember that particular year because the gift from my mother was amazing.  I got a cotton candy making machine.  I was so excited.  I mean really...what child doesn't love cotton candy?  And in those days...the only time you got some was at a carnival or a trip to someplace special like Kiddieland or Santa's village.  There were no Chuckie Cheeses or dollar stores.  I don't even think you could get any in the local candy stores.  Yes, back in my day there were actually candy stores!  
Well, I couldn't wait until my most of the guests left.  All the neighborhood kids, etc.  It was finally down to the family and my cousins.  Well, we opened up the box and removed all the pieces.  Got the batteries for it.  Grandma pulled out the sugar and we started up the machine.  I had visions of cotton candy every day for the rest of my life, when my cousin Ronnie started to do something and broke the machine.  I never even got a turn to make any of the cotton candy.  What a bummer!  And looking back now...I cannot remember why....but I never got a replacement machine.  I am not sure if it was because he had broke it and then we couldn't return that machine or what it was.  But my Cotton Candy making days were over. 
Today, whenever I see Cotton Candy that birthday moment resurfaces.  I guess that I wasn't meant to be the Cotton candy queen!  But out of all the candies available, cotton candy held some sort of mystery to it.  I am not sure why, but I imagine because other candies you were just able to purchase while cotton candy was spun right before your eyes in that Huge round spinning tub from sugar.  It is hard to image that a grainy substance like sugar can become so soft and fluffy and absolutely delightful. 
Years later, when my granddaughter became old enough to go to the new child sensation restaurant Chuckie Cheese...the one thing we always walked away with was a bag of spun cotton candy.  Her and I would get into the car and share that delightful treat all the way home. 
Eventually, I started to notice that after those trips I would become so tired and often times fall asleep.  That was the onset of Diabetes, only it took years of my telling the dr.s that I felt that something wasn't right with me.  You see, that delightful treat left a horrible taste in my mouth.  Odd for a sweet treat, but that was the reaction that I got from it.  That really ended the dream of Cotton Candy for me.  I guess I will just have to stick with being the Ketchup Queen. 

Friendship...the Greatest Blessing

Good afternoon to all my friends out in cyber world.  What an absolutely gorgeous day it is here in the Chicago land area.  I attempted this morning to get to the Alpaca Farm, but I had an extremely rough night of pain and this morning it was totally unbearable.  I put on a pain patch and took some pain meds...attempted to get into the car...made it up to my friends house and really had no idea how I would be able to make the 2 hour drive along with walking the 10 acres of farm land.  I hated to have to call the owner and cancel.  But I absolutely could not manage it.  My friend took me in her house and applied heating pads to my back and made me comfortable until things became somewhat better and I drove home to board my own couch and apply heat and more meds.  I am not sure what is wrong, but will soon find out. 
As to todays blog, I thought that I would tackle the subject of Friendship.  This is a subject matter that covers everyone and everything. 
What is a friend?  Are there different types of friendships.  What do we do when a friend turns their back on us? 
First and foremost...a friend, of course can come from any walk of life.  They can be of either sex for both.  Friendship is not about WHO there are...but about what they are.  I am talking about the spiritual and soulful makeup of a friend.  There are friends that would be considered more or acquaintances.  Their are lifelong friends and there are fleeting friends.  If I have missed any, please feel free to add. 
I have been so blessed with some of the most wonderful friends in the world.  I have friends from all walks of the earth...and friends that have departed this world. 
I have a friend that is as old as I am.  We have been friends since birth.  Our mothers were friends and even our grandmothers were friends.  We can be together every week for months on end and then there can be months before we talk or see each other...and within that second...nothing has changed...we can pick up right where we left off.  That friendship is there in the good times and the bad times as well. 
There are friends that are long time or recent, where when meeting them, instantly a bond forms.  It as though they are the piece of the puzzle to your life.  You can identify instantly with them and there is such ease to that relationship. 
There are friends that for whatever reason are brought into you life and breeze out sometimes as quickly as they entered.  We often will ask why?  We don't understand what the purpose of that friendship was for.  But always learn from that relationship.  There is never an empty relationship...whether we gain or lose something...in the end...there is always a gain...sometimes we have to look a little harder and sometimes a little deeper to see the why's of it all.  Those fleeting friends are temporary fillers.  Lesson teachers. 
A n acquaintance is a friend who you enjoy the time spent together, yet is more on the surface than deeper.  We have many of those through our lifetimes as well. 
Years ago...my mother-in-law taught me to count the friends when times are hard and bad..not the friends at the parties.  The friends that are there when the times are hard are the truest of friends.  They are the ones that you can call in the middle of the night.  The ones that give up their time to take you to the doctor, therapy, cancer treatments.  They are the ones who truly live life to the fullest with you.  The ones who will raise their eyebrows over your crazy idea but do it with you every time.  The are the ones who encourage you and lift you up.  They don't have jealousy or resentments.  they are your biggest supporter and cheerleader.  If we only have one of these types of friends we are so rich in our lives.  We have found one of the greatest blessings. 
I am so fortunate to have found so many of these wonderful friends.  I have encountered numerous acquaintances along the way, but give a salute to those true friends.  A friend like today.
When she was looking forward to spending a day out with me and instead, feared for my safety.  Took me under her wings and cared for me. I thank God for the blessings of my friends.  I only pray that I am as good to them as they are to me. Thank you today to each an every one of my friends for each moment and memory that you have shared or given me through the years and know that I thank God each day for His blessings of our friendship.

Stories

Good afternoon.  The morning just whisked by...groceries, cooking, meeting....I am finally caught up and able to work on my blog. 
Today I was deep into stories as my storytelling guild met and we discussed the up and coming events and stories. 
We will be at The Grove in Glenview on Sunday, October 6th from 12-5 PM.  A great day to come out and hear music, walk some autumn craft booths, see some square dancers, listen to stories, walk the nature paths and tour the historic homes. 
I am excited for all the member of The Windy City Storytelling Guild.  We love doing this event.  Stories will be told for all ages.  This is a special time of the year to be outdoors and enjoy the season. 
Tomorrow is the visit to the Creekwood Alpaca Farm in Rockford, Illinois.  Come out for a free tour of the Farm.  I hope to see you there. 
I received wonderful news today.  My article was published on my storytelling in the Inside Glenview Magazine.  I am on pages 3, 18 and 19.  I am so thrilled to have this opportunity to both be in the magazine and to write the article as well. 
Stories are such an important part of my life.  As I have written these blogs, I have been able to put my life in story form.  From silly stories right up to the serious stuff.  It allows me a chance to revisit my life and reflect.  Sometimes it is the hindsight that brings me new insight for the now and for the future. 
Stories began when I was very young on the front porch of my grandparents house.  It was an integral part of our evenings.  I learned about owls, nature, religion, aunts and uncles, cousins and grandparents.  I took a journey back into time and learned about who I am, what I could be, where interests came from  The storytellers...my grandparents encouraged me to speak and tell stories of my own.  It taught me that I never need to be afraid of anything.  The only failure in life happens when I don't try something...otherwise they taught me that I am always a winner.  It is like this great race.  A race to become the best I can be.  I am still in the race, still stopping along the way for a splash of water.  An encouraging word, or a pat on the back.  Today, the magazine article did just that...and better yet...I will be writing an article for their December issue as well.  I continue to meet wonderful people along this journey.  Some are in person and some are on the internet.  When I perform, I am delighted to see my audiences heads nod in agreement with some stories, laugh with others and when I see sparking eyes and squeals of laughter, I know that I continue to climb my ladder.  I know that in those moments that I am making my grandparents and mother proud. Whether I write or whether I tell a story, I bring them to life all over again.  They are right there with me, reminding me of things that have long been hidden away in the treasure chest of my memory.  I am so glad that they continue to hand me the key.  This is a special day for not only me, but also all those that are in my life the support and encourage me.  Thank you to every single one of you!! 

Play Dough Restaurant

Good morning.  What a beautiful day.  I love it when the sun is shining and the birds are singing.  Makes me happy to see the beauty set before me.
Today I thought that I might go back in time a bit and reflect on Play Dough.  I remember the enjoyment that I used to get with that colorful clay.  The smell is like nothing else I have ever known.  I remember getting cans of it and the imagination would just start to flow.  I loved creating objects even back then.  It was such a good tactile thing to do. 
The one person I remember who used to encourage it was my grandfather.    We lived it a 2 story home in the far west side of Chicago.  It was a 2 flat, that was always filled with family.  At one point in time, my grandparents resided on the first floor and my mother had the 2nd floor.  The odd thing was that, even though she had the second floor all decorated...we lived together with my grandparents on the first floor.  The second floor was really for show or when she had company.  I still to this day don't quite understand why it was that way. 
Anyway, my grandfather and I would go upstairs to play.  Especially with the play dough.  I guess in hindsight, we were staying out of Grandma's hair.  Grandpa Joe would sit at the kitchen table and pretend he was the owner/maître de of the restaurant and I would be the cook.  I would have all these items prepared and would put them in my mothers empty appliances that were displayed on all the counters. 
Grandpa would make up name of people as they entered the diner and order different foods from me.  I played both the chef and the waitress.  I had one of Grandma's aprons on and had a hankie pinned to my top just like in the real restaurants at the time. 
Grandpa would have funny names and silly conversations with these pretend people as they walked into our restaurant.  My favorite was "Good morning Myrtle....how is your girdle today?"  He would then pretend to seat her and take her order and then call it in to me.  I would prepare the order and take it out to our pretend customer. 
I used to use my Betty Crocker baking pans to create pies and cookies and madeleine's.  I made hamburgers and other items as well.  One time...we got carried away with time and forgot about the extra Play Dough items in the pans when we put away the dough.  One day my mother found all those little surprises in the kitchen...she now knew our secret play area.  She must have had a talk with Grandpa, because from then on, he always had me clean out the pans first, before anything else.   
When I sit today and use my polymer clay to create jewelry or statues, I can't help but smile remembering the good old days.  That was where my love for creating things with my hands came from.  I laugh as I remember my big burly grandfather playing childish games with me.  His sense of humor...and especially his love.  Not many Grandfathers would take the time to do that.  And if they do..I am sure they have no idea what sort of lasting effect it has on the children.   
Today, who would have ever guessed that you could now make your very own play dough.  Wow, if we could have done that long ago, I would have all those customers eating my creations for real...and my poor Grandfather would probably have a full stomach all the time. 
You can now make play dough with Jello, Koolaid, peanut butter, and even to taste like gingerbread.    You can still buy Play Dough in the store and let the children create, although most mother's are leery about the Dough in the house.  Many think it is a messy project, but I think it is because they don't take enough time to sit and foster the children with it.  It is such a wonderful tool for them.  Both for the dexterity of their fingers and also for their minds and imaginations.  I think we need more and more of that these days. 
Here is a recipe for Play Dough made with Kool Aide.  Have some fun with your child or grandchild today and make some memories of your own!
Kool Aid Playdough Recipe
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3 teaspoons of Cream of Tartar
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 package of Kool-Aid Mix (any flavor of unsweetened)
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
Directions:
  • Mix dry ingredients in a large/medium pan.
  • Add water and oil.
  • Stir over medium heat until it looks as playdough.
  • The end result should have the color of your chosen kool aid.
  • The whole process takes about 8 minutes.

Death In The House

Good morning.  Hope all is going well for everyone.  Yesterday was a very busy day, but so enjoyable.  I got to have an early dinner with great friends and then spend the evening in front of the fire pit, soaking in the glow and conversation.  It amazes me how tranquil sitting in front of a fire can be.  I really needed to be working, yet the peace overcame me instead.  Good decision I think. 
Today's blog is a rather serious, yet funny topic.  Perhaps not at the time, but this story has given us plenty of laughter later. 
11 years ago.  My mother-in-law had become very sick.  She had 3 small holes in her stomach and was bleeding out.  I had her in the hospital, where they did tests which discovered the holes.  they decided not to cauterize since they were too small.  They just took her off her meds which was causing the bleeding.  Now a couple of weeks had gone by.  She was at home and was bed ridden.  I was in charge and did all I could to keep her well fed and as comfortable as possible.  We expected a full recovery...we just knew that it took time. 
One morning, it just so happen that I wanted and had planned to go somewhere, my husband was home until noon from school that day and my daughter would return from an appointment before he was to leave...so all our bases were covered so that she would not be alone.  This was mandatory. 
That morning a technician arrived to work on our internet.  Our mainframe at the time was in an annex next to the Dining Room.  The gentleman was working away.  I had just come out of the shower and was getting ready to leave when I thought I would wake up mom and see if I could fix her something for breakfast before I left.  She didn't like how her son cooked.  when I walked over the threshold of the bedroom, I knew instantly that she was no longer with us.  She had passed away.  I immediately ran to her side only to feel her hand and knew that it had been a number of hours since she had passed away.  Now I had to break the news to the  rest of the family.  My husband thought I was joking...imagine...why would any one joke about something so serious?  We were all in total shock. 
Now, being that this was unexpected....we had no idea of what to do next.  She had been gone at least 4 hours to my knowledge.  We sat down at the Dining room table...forgetting that the technician was there working on the internet.  We started to discuss what to do with the body like it was an ordinary daily conversation.  I didn't know who to call..do you call the undertaker...do you call an ambulance...I mean she was already dead?  We didn't even have any idea as to what funeral home to use.  As we sat there discussing the subject, we decided to call the undertaker and let him advise us.  He then told us to call the police.  That was the next call I made and within 5 minutes the ambulance and the police had arrived.  They finally removed the body in the body bag. 
All this time, this poor gentleman was in the house...unobserved by us.  At one point he tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to sign his paperwork.  His face was quite pensive as I stared into his eyes.  I finally realized this poor man had gone through probably one of the most unusual house calls he had ever been on.  When I sat back and thought about my attitude and statement about what to do with the body, I cannot imagine what must have been rolling around in his head. 
At the time, we were just trying to deal with the shock of it all, and this poor guy had a front seat to it all.  I am sure he must have told this story over and over again as his lifetime horror story. 
You never know what to expect in life from moment to moment.  I am sure he will never forget that day any more than we do. 
As for mom, she died at home which she had always said was where she wanted to be when the time came.  The last time I spoke to her was at 4:44 A.M.  when I took her to the bathroom and put her back into bed for one last time.  She is now resting with angels and watching over us all.   

Honeymooning Adventure

Well, good morning to all my friends.  As I sit here today..I thought about how I  just recently celebrated 39 years of marriage.  Boy, have things changed....and especially me. 
I started to look back over the years and with yesterday being the first day of autumn, I thought perhaps that would be the topic for today's blog. 
I was married on the last day of summer.  So our next day was spent with family and we left for our honeymoon on the following day.  We were going to Mackinaw Island and we had a room in the Grand Hotel.  We knew we needed to catch the only ferry scheduled for the day.  It was a long drive in the middle of the night.  It was pouring rain outside. At the time, I drove a small white Chevy Vega and it started hydroplaning along the way.    It was a scary drive but we made it to the dock with just a few minutes to spare. 
Now most couples are able to go on their honeymoon undetected by others around...but not us.  Here we were...I was 19 and my husband was 26 and when arrived on this charming island, we were surrounded by nothing but Senior Citizens on a Bus Tour.  Everywhere we went, they pointed and starred.  It was odd to have that much attention brought upon us. 
People pointed and ooohed and awed every where we went. From fudge shops to the Fort to the hotel...we were always the center of attention.
The Grand Hotel was a beautiful hotel...we  were fortunate enough to have had the Bridal Suite. The regulations of the hotel were that no one was allowed even on the grounds with out formal wear after 5 P.M.  Even that rule made me uncomfortable at the time.  Not the formal wear....but what someone 19 years old  might wear is a whole different ball game compared to what a 60-80 year old would wear.  The one thing that was fun was that all the places that the younger crowds might be...were empty. 
One day, we were in town, and there was a haunted house to go to.  An odd thing, I know...but it was there and let me tell you...it was probably the scariest haunted house I had ever been to.  I am not sure whether it was because we were the only ones in it or whether it was just that scary.  My husband has ever since refused to go into one of those haunted houses.  One of the rooms had all these doors and you had to choose one.  Well, our choices were not so great that day. There was a monster behind each one and they would step out after you.  If we didn't have white hair to match the seniors before we went in that house...we sure had it after we left. 
The one thing that excited me was the swimming pool on the Grand Hotel grounds.   The Esther Williams Swimming Pool is named after the actress and competitive swimmer who starred in the 1947 movie "This Time for Keeps",  was filmed at Grand Hotel. Well,  just the thought of being in the same pool as her was so exciting to me. I was an "I Love Lucy" moment.  I donned my swimsuit and went down to the pool.  No one else was there...of course it was empty...it was the end of September for goodness sakes.  The water was quite cold ,but I was determined to get in there so that  I could say that I swam in the same pool that Ester had.  I slowly began my entry.  I swam all of 2 minutes and briskly exited....but I did it....I swam in the same pool  When I look back, I just have to laugh at myself! 
Well, the Island was wonderful.  I would love to revisit there some day...only to  know that now,  I will be the senior on the island .  How fast that time went.  The rest of the trip was lovely.  The trees in the upper peninsula were a palette full of autumn's delightful colors.  We went around the upper peninsula and came back down through the Wisconsin Dells.   We  were gone for 2 weeks.
As I sit here reminiscing about the time there, I cannot believe that' so many years have gone by.  I ponder whether the rules of the hotel have changed.  It was an awesome experience to have dinner music in those days with a live orchestra.  Everyone is their finest wear.  It was as though we were in a movie.  The grandeur was surely captured there. Perhaps that was the reason that they named it the Grand Hotel, not just for it's size but for the feeling that it's sense of elegance gave you.  In today's world, I think that we have lost some of the charm and elegance that was so prevalent back in those days.  Today, the idea of well dressed is a good pair of jeans with a nice top...really?   To have entertainment that was more than the stereo system was a touch of class that has become a part of the past.  To see a beautiful torch singer in a dream like evening gown was pure pleasure as she sang her melodies to the audience....perhaps it is just  me...still wishing for those amazing moments in time. But at least I had the opportunities and those special moments. I am sorry that the new generation of young people don't have a clue as to what they are missing.  

A Trip Up North To Minocqua Wisconsin

Good morning.  Wow..the chill is in the air this morning.  There is something about a brisk morning that makes you want to stay in bed under the blankets.  Well, as much as I would have loved to do that...I am up and running.  I am hoping that today I find some energy to get things rolling again.  I hate when things knock me down a peg and I have to refresh to get it going once again.  I spent yesterday repeating..."I need to learn about limits"   Sometimes, I believe I can be my worst enemy. 
Well, onto today's blog.  I considered numerous subjects to write about. I finally decided to write about a trip that we took up north.  It was just the beginning of fall.  The children were still young and we were on one of those trips where you got into the car with a suitcase and destination was unknown.  I know today that most would never think about that type of trip.  With all the available price search engines that you can use you pin point where you are going and plan an itinerary, but back in the days when our children were young, we just packed a bag and got in a car and asked the kids to just point in a direction.  Crazy, perhaps, but we always found something interesting to see. 
So this particular vacation led up north through Wausau Wisconsin into Minocqua Wisconsin.  We had been to Minocqua a few times before.  A charming up north town filled with charm.  My absolute favorite place to go was the Christmas Chalet.  It was filled with some of the most unusual and gorgeous ornaments. If I had my druthers, I would probably spend the whole day there...to the chagrin of my family.  Well, we decided to stop at a favorite restaurant for  dinner on the lake.  There was this wonderful restaurant we loved called Bosacki's.  We ate off the buffet which was fantastic and then began our trip back towards home, only when we got the car started..the headlights were out.  Not just one, but both of the them.  It was too late, plus it was a Sunday night, so we had no option but to try and find a hotel room till morning when we could get the lights fixed.  Well, fortunately in town on the lake there was a hotel with one room left.  They apologized because it was their smallest room.  We had visions of nightmares dancing through our heads as well plunked down the money...no credit cards back then, and received the key to the room.  We opened the door to the room and our mouths dropped open.  It was an unbelievable room.  More deluxe than we had ever stayed in before.  It was a two level room.  Bedrooms were upstairs.  On the main floor were a dining and kitchen area, plus a plush living room.  We felt like royalty!  We couldn't imagine that they were apologizing for the room...we then wondered what the other rooms were like.  The kids had a blast running around up and down the stairs.  We pulled out the deck of cards and gathered around the dining room table and played some 500 Rummy. Then turned in for a good nights rest.  As my head hit the pillow I prayed that the money would hold out.  With having the extra expense of car lights, and the hotel...I worried about the return ride home.  Back in those days, we didn't have any credit cards to rely on. 
Well, the next morning, after breakfast we were able to get the new car lights put in, and began our journey home.  We had filled up the car with gas and afterwards we had about $5.00 left for the trip home.  We had some lunchmeat in the cooler and bread.  We stopped along the way and picked up some cheese strings and jerky sticks and the ride home was great.  We had an adventure.  We did a little fishing, saw some interesting places, enjoyed the color change in the trees and most of all, we just enjoy the time together. 
I often wonder as the years have now raced by, whether the children remember those days.  We of course never shared with them how concerned we had become about the finances during the trip, but it taught us an extra lesson of being more prepared for the unexpected to occur.  That's what life does.  It gives you surprises along the way. In an odd sort of way..they are all good.  Today as I sit and recall those days, it brings both a smile and a tear to my eyes.  I miss those days when the children were young and so were we.  I know that when you have children you are supposed to be the adults...well, by the age you are, but by the heart...you are still a kid.  You haven't had enough time to become cynical or hard.  As we grow older, somehow our ideals and concepts of things change.  I guess it's that school of hard Knox that we attend that makes it change.  When I look back, I wouldn't have changed a thing.  We used to go on adventures  looking for hidden treasures...when all the treasure we ever needed was right there in the car the whole time. 
If you have never taken a journey like that...try it...get in the car and choose a direction and turn on the engine.  Stop and see the country, one surprise at a time.  You'll never regret it.  In fact, you may choose to do it a little more often. 

Fall or Autumn...which is it for you?

Good morning....I apologize for not having the chance to blog yesterday.  Such a long and very busy day.  Began my morning teach an art seminar for my painting chapter which began early in the morning out in Bartlett, Illinois and then I had to get home change and pack the car to be ready for a performance at Wagner Farm last night. The performance ended at 8, and of course, by the time everything gets broken down and carted back to the car it was close to 9.  Dinner finally came shortly after.  By the time I got home...the exhaustion finally kicked in.  My voice is in farm mode at the moment...Quite HORSEY!  LOL. 
Well, today is the fist day of Autumn.  It made me wonder why this is the only season with 2 names.  It is under both the names of Fall and Autumn.  That must mean it  very special or hard to describe.   This thought raced through my head until I finally had to research it. 
Well, here was a revelation....It initially was called Harvest...talk about a confused season, no wonder it blushes reds.  It really is not sure what to be called.  Turns out that at one point in time the British termed it Autumn and the Americans called it Fall.  Seems that the word fall was shorter and more accepted by the Americans.  Some say because they relate it to the leaves that Fall. In the Chinese culture, Autumn represented adversity. 
I had to sit back a moment and reflect on those thoughts.  Adversity...meaning difficult, lending to hardships.  Pretty hard word for such a beautiful array of color.  But when I though of its transition to winter....it began to make more sense.  It is a time that death approaches the seasons.  I would compare it to the ages of perhaps 50-75.  It is a time when in our lives we are most appreciative for what the world and the earth has given.  It is a time when we approach the end of our glorious time of life.  I am not saying that after 75 it is over.  That is our slow down time only...but in reality...our approaching end and awaiting our rebirth.  I think in life we begin to feel the losses in those years.  We have begun to let go of children...many of us have become empty nesters.  Our physical bodies have begun to take on a radical change.  Both physically and hormonally.  It is similar to the change of colors in the leaves.  What we need to do is to enjoy the splendor and beauty that transpires during those times. When I think about the falling leaves it makes me think that it is a time when the season gives back and nourishes the earth.   For me, I feel we are alike in nature.  During these years, we too give back with lessons to our family, friends and children.  We try to fill their lives with the knowledge that we have leaned and nourished throughout  the years.  We are given more nods of acceptance for having gotten to that point in our lives, the same I think it is with Fall.  It is it's time for show it's glorious beauty.  It makes sense that they once called it Harvest.  Time to store up and prepare for the hardships of winter. It reminds me of the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper.  The Ant spends all it's time gathering and preparing for the cold and hardships of the winter...while grasshopper just lollygags around enjoying life without any regard as to winters approach.   Once winter has come, grasshopper has finally realized he shouldn't have wasted all his time and shouldn't have made fun of the ant in his work to become ready.  Most of us spend a lifetime preparing.  Some just want to enjoy and not be concerned with what is to come later.  Seems to me that both should learn a lesson from each other.  The Ant, of course was smart and ready, yet he should have realized it just as beneficial to take just a bit of time to enjoy what is there.  The grasshopper should have taken some time to have been aware that he needed to not spend all his time laying back and not being prepared,.  The Grasshopper, finally goes to Ant for some help after realizing he was not prepared and of course the Ant helps him out, but only once, because the grasshopper needs to learn his lesson.  Fall, I feel, is like our reminder to enjoy the beauty, yet to be prepared for the harshness that is on the horizon and be ready.  Show our beauty and share the harvest with others.  Revel in it's glorious splendor of life before it is gone. 
They say that you are drawn to the season in which you are born.  I know that my birthday approaches within the week and Fall is my favorite time of the year. 
We all, sometimes forget to stop and capture it's beauty and for me...fall is the most busiest time of the year.  One year as I was dropping off items at the Grove for the Big craft show, I stepped out of my car and stepped into a pile of autumn leaves.  I stopped and thought to myself.. "When  did this happen?"  How did I allow myself to be lost in the work like ant and not taken any time like grasshopper to enjoy the what was there?  That was a reality check for me.  Life is complicated....why do we allow it to become even more so.  Take the time to go out and look at it's splendor, soak in the colors that are so glorious.  It is a season like no other.  Harvest the time spent.  As I ponder back in time, I noticed that in these years of my life, I am like fall...I am giving back to the community, friends and family.  How about you?      

Tales By the Bonfire

Well, good morning.  It is still morning, although I am getting a rather late start at it.  Not that I have slept in mind you...just other things have kept me occupied this morning and still much more running around to do.  This is a busy weekend.  I will be teaching an art class for my painting guild all day long and then rushing to a performance in the evening. 
Today's blog covers the Bonfire at Wagner Farm.  If you have never had the opportunity to go to the farm...here is your chance.  It is the only living farm still existing in Cook county, Illinois.  It is located in Glenview, Illinois right on the corner of Lake(Euclid) and Wagner Rd.  It will be going from 6 until 8 P.M. tomorrow the 21st of September.  You can find me at the 12 foot bonfire.  There is so much for the children to do.  there is a great little museum indoors, there is also the barn to tour.  You can all climb the hay wagon and go for a ride...stop along the way at the small bonfires and make a smore and then sashay on over to the bales of hale with the 12 foot bonfire and enjoy 2 hours of stories.  This is geared for families.  Check out the Wagner farm website and come out for an enjoyable evening under the stars.  I will bring stories for all ages, some puppets will accompany me, as well as some ghost stories. 
Now if you are looking for an open venue as an adult to listen to ghost stories...you know the scarier ones that will make your bones rattle..and cause the raise to rise up on your arms...then join me at Spooky tales and trails at The Grove in Glenview on October 19th.  It is for anyone over the ages of 16.  Bring a date, bring yourself, or bring a friend.  If you come alone...you might have someone leave with you...you just might notice it though! You must sign up at the Glenview Park District website for the event.  Be forewarned, these tales may keep you looking to you side to make sure no additional guests have joined us. 
Some folks have me coming to their homes to perform ghostly whispers around their private campfire or fire pits in their yards.  What ever the case may be, there is nothing like campfire and stories.  It goes all the way back to childhood.  I know that my memories go back to scouting and the campfire and stories.  There is nothing like a good "Gotcha" type of stories.  Tomorrow is the last day of summer....I should know...it is my 39th wedding anniversary.  Autumn begins on Sunday.  How quickly the year has flown by.  Seems like when I was a child, the days dragged on...or perhaps we just didn't give a whole lot of thought to the seasons. 
Autumn is my favorite time of year...but also my busiest.  My birthday is also approaching, and so many times, I wished it were when I had more time to enjoy it.  We all make bucket lists or plans for the future.  My plan is to take one autumn....a week perhaps and just go and tour around.  Take in the beautiful colors and sights.  Life is so very short and I desire some new inspirations that perhaps the drive may give me. 
So in closing, if your weekend is free...I hope that you will mosie on over with your children or grandchildren and stay for a story or two.  My story bag is full and is looking forward to being open and spilling out the tales. 

Appreciation....Who Is It For?

Good morning...wow...what a storm that rolled through this town last night.  I don't even recall such a long period of hail falling in one timeframe.  The windows of my home were shaking from both the thunder and the winds.  Fortunately no lights went out, although they did flicker.  I heard on my weather alarm about areas being hit that I have never heard before.  I heard about the shoreline in Chicago getting hit, Navy Pier, Lincoln Park, University of Illinois, and even Soldier Field.  I am hoping that anyone in those areas are doing alright this morning. 
Now, today's blog.  I am approaching a point in my life when I am curious as to what is important to people.  I question what do people really stop and appreciate.  Who do they appreciate and is it a never ending appreciation or just a momentary one. 
It is a confusing question and most confusing thought.  I think that appreciation sometimes is instant, sometimes unnoticeable until later in life, and question whether sometimes  does it come too late. 
The  most important thing about appreciation that filtered through my head this morning is does it matter more to you or to the other person?  Does it matter to you that you get appreciation all the time for things you do or do you just do it for your own appreciation of doing it? 
If you perhaps know someone needs something and donate things...do you do it for the thank you's or do you do it because you are appreciative in your own right that you are able to do it and help? 
When you have a dinner party...are you expecting everyone to ooooh and awww over your table, or are you pleased with yourself that you are able to make that moment special for those people that are attending. 
I once, a very long time ago....had a shower for someone.  Now, I am truly the A type personality where everything needs to be perfect down to the littlest of details.  I was 9 months pregnant at the time and spent weeks getting ready.  Days preparing and hours that went into the wee hours of the morning finishing up with every little detail.  The question here would be whether I was expecting any appreciation out of it.  A comment was made to me by my husband....who by the way, thought I was totally insane for doing all that work!  He said to me, "I don't get it...what is all the big deal about?  No one is going to pay any attention to all of this....it is food...they are just going to eat it!".  Well, bless his non-understanding heart!  It was for me.  It was my mirror.  It was my reflection.  My appreciation for what I could give and what I could do.  I didn't expect anything but for the girl to have a great memory and a good meal.  All the rest was for my own satisfaction!  My  own appreciation of the knowledge of what I could do for another human being. 
Now, here is the funny part.  A few days later...I gave birth to my daughter.  While I was in the hospital, those were the days when insurances would pay for 3 days and you could rest, my husband brought me my mail from home.  In the mail was a thank you note from one of the girl's Aunts.  She wanted to thank me for the all the things that I had done to make such a memorable day.  She specified all the details with the food, the decorations.  All the fine details that were done.  I passed the note to my husband to read.  I tried to explain to him that even though he didn't think it made any difference to anyone...someone indeed had noticed and appreciated it aside from me. 
I think that when we appreciate what we done it just automatically shows outward. I never expected such a lovely note.  I was happy with what I had done. 
I appreciate that I am able to give of myself to those in need when I can.  I appreciate that God gave me a spirit within that allows me to give openly and freely.  When we give, we give not only of ourselves, we give God' blessings.  Some might call it paying it forward.  Appreciation is simple.  Appreciation is the smile on a child's face when you make their favorite dessert.  Appreciation is the mile ion a grandparent's face when you take the time to sit and listen and share your day with them. Appreciation comes in many ways...they don't need to be written down or said.  Appreciation for me, comes from within myself for a job well done. 
  

An Angel On A Trip to DisneyWorld

Good morning to everyone.  I hope your week is going fine.  It is hump day....so not much left till the weekend comes again.  For me...weekends are when I really have to work.  For anyone in the Chicago land area...especially if you have small children.  On Saturday, between 6 and 8 P.M.  I will be performing out at Wagner Farms in Glenview Illinois by the large bonfire.  Moms, dads, grandma's and grandpas...this is a great place to take the kids for a nice autumn evening.  The cost is very minimal and they get a hayrides, smores, farm touring and stories all in one place.  It doesn't get better than that.  If you are out there...stop by and introduce yourself. 
Well, on to today's blog.  About 11 years ago, I made my first trip to Disney World.  I took my granddaughter and daughter who was pregnant with her 2nd child to Florida.  We took the plane and upon arrival some friends who lived there, picked us up and drove us to lunch and then dropped us off at the hotel.  We checked in and then my friends took us on tour of the area. The next day, the kids and I went to Disney World.  I purchased the hopper tickets.  We were to be there for 4 days, so we would see everything we could.   Being that my daughter was pregnant, one of the first things I did was to rent a wheelchair.  She had difficulties in the pregnancy and I didn't want to take any chances.  Once I did what I had to do and return with the wheelchair, my daughter didn't want it.  Frustrated, but knowing not to try to argue with her, I returned the chair and got my money back.  Walked back to where they were waiting, only to realize that I had left my purse on the back of the wheelchair.  Now I had about $1, 000.00 in cash in it.  Talk about panic.  When I went back to the chair rental, there it was still attached to the back of the chair.  Talk about a blonde moment....or I might say white, since both my face and my hair turned that color!
We met up with our friends in the Crystal Palace for lunch.  My friend Larry wanted to treat us to lunch so that my granddaughter could have lunch with the characters.  Bless his heart.  We had a wonderful time, but by the end of the lunch, I noticed my granddaughter was not up to par.  We bid them goodbye and went to get her into her stroller.  By now, when I touched her forehead, I realized that she had a fever.  We went to the first aid area to get some Tylenol.  We decided after a bit to leave and get on the shuttle and spend the day back at the hotel.  We thought it was just a one day deal.  By the early evening she was vomiting and now so was my daughter.  She had a fever as well.  The next morning, they were both sick.  I called for a cab and took them both to an emergency doctor's office.  We got meds for them, got them back to the hotel and into bed.  By that afternoon...I began to feel sick now.  I called home to my dr. to get some type of antibiotic.  She said she would call it in.  Later that day, I realized now that we were never going to be able to have enough time to use all the hopper tickets I had purchased.  I also realized that we may not be able to get on a plane as well.  I called and changed the plane tickets, which of course cost me a small fortune.  I added on some extra days at the hotel, and by now, I was raging with a fever and needed to get to the drugstore.  I originally had rented a car, but cancelled it when I realized that the hotel had a shuttle back and forth to the parks.  My friends lived 40 minutes away from where we were staying, so I wasn't about to call them to drive in to get medicine for me.  They didn't have a delivery service, so I called for another cab.  When I got in the cab, I directed the man to drive me to the Eckerd and while on the way, he asked me about my trip and of course, I explained how well it had gone so far.  When we got to the drug store, I instructed him to please wait while I went in to get the prescriptions.  While inside, the pharmacist said the drugs were not ready and I would have to wait.  I hate to tell you the thoughts that went through my head during that 35 minute wait.  I did return once to the cab to tell him to continue to wait.  With each stroke of minutes my mind flashed to what it would cost me for this particular cab ride.  I finally got the medicines and by now my fever was way up...I was loaded with meds and bottles of ginger ales and soups to make in the microwave, I got back into the cab for the ride back.  When the cab pulled into the circle by the front door, I reached into my purse and pulled out my wallet.  I couldn't even surmise what the bill for that ride was going to be.  When I asked the gentleman how much I owed him...he responded with "no charge!  just take care of yourself and your family and God Bless you!" 
I couldn't believe my ears.  I gave him good tip and thanked both him and God. 
I believe that that night, God had sent me an angel.  He may have looked like a normal man...drove a taxi...but was an angel indeed. 
We were able to spend the rest of our time in Disney World and use all the hoppers, but aside from all the wonders I had seen, nothing compared to the wonder of that dark night in the taxi driven by a stranger who was filled with the compassion and grace of God.
 

Pumpkin Festival Fiasco

Good morning to everyone.  Each day, I look for the topic to write about.  With the feeling of fall in the air...it reminded me of a Pumpkin Festival that I and a partner had signed up to do many years ago. 
We weren't the most savvy of crafters back in the beginning days.  We did make Halloween jewelry out of bread dough and it was a really good seller.  Along with all the other jewelry we made...we read about this 10 day Pumpkin Festival down in Arthur Illinois.  Now, I had gone to the town previously and to the area where Rockone Gardens is and thought it was a charming town with cute shops to see and some fun things to do.  Knowing that, we decided that a Pumpkin Festival might just be the right thing...and a 10 day festival...well, we assumed that meant a really big event.  We sent in the paperwork along with our entrance fee.  You could do all 10 days or pick and choose the days you wanted to do the show.  We decided to do the last weekend Friday through Sunday. 
That Friday morning we packed our car at 3 in the morning and we were on our way.  We stopped off for a bite to eat and figured we would get there by 7.  That would give us enough time to set up our display.  Well, this was a trip began with a bang.  We arrived in the town and just kept driving through looking for signs of a Pumpkin Festival.  Surely, we thought, we would know it if we saw it.  When we reached the outskirts of the town where there were no longer cars, but horse and buggy, we assumed we had missed it...although we had no idea how!
We turned the van around and drove back.  Still no signs of a Festival.  I told my partner to stop, I got our and went into the train depot to ask about it.  I figured they would be able to direct  us.  When I asked where the Pumpkin Festival was...their answer was :HERE"...I just looked and in bewilderment repeated....:HERE?"  Well, I must tell you, there was not one other crafter there setting up.  The wind was howling away and we had no idea what to do.  When we asked where we should set up...they answered with "Anywhere You want"!  We decided we would walk around a bit and maybe wait until some others came...only that never happened.  When we were inside of a floral shop and they found out how far we had traveled and that we were there for the pumpkin festival, I think they felt sorry for us.  They told us to set up in front of their shop, because they get the most traffic in town.    So we set up, but the winds were so drastic that it swayed the canvas walls so badly we were afraid they would snap the poles and crash through their windows, so shortly after putting it up we took it down. 
We decided to go into town to get some lunch, and then go to the Rockone Gardens to spend the day.  We hypostasized that perhaps the crafters probably just do the Saturday and Sundays. 
So we went to lunch. Small little place...all was fine, food was good.  When we got back into the car we had a bit of company...a bee.  The bee made my partner gone berserk, she was screaming and yelling and consequently tore her zipper in her pants, we had to search for the suitcases, get her a new pair of pants to put on, but that was simple enough...and next, off we went to Rockome Gardens...which was absolutely wonderful.   They had a demonstration going on about how to weave straw into ornaments...now what crafter wouldn't enjoy that.  After a full day, we went to the hotel to clean up when I noticed that right outside our door was this wheat field.  Jackpot!  I decided to go and cut down some wheat in the field for us to weave.  While I was cutting away, this rat ran over my feet.  Okay, I had had enough excitement for the day. Grabbed what I had cut and left.  Now we needed to soak all the wheat before we could weave it, so, I turned on the bathtub and placed the wheat in the tub.  In the meantime, my partner called me out to look at something.  We got so caught up in it that I forgot about the water running in the tub and flooded the bathroom.  The next thing I knew, we were cleaning the bathroom floor. 
Once that fiasco was over we decided to go to this rather famous chicken place for dinner.  Well, it was late by now and we had to wait over an hour for the chicken.  I was salivating over the prospect of this wonderful dinner and when it finally came...it was horrible.  It was over done, dry and just plain awful.  I couldn't imagine how a day could go so wrong.  We went back to the hotel room and I was glad to have my head finally hit the pillow.  Tomorrow would be a better day I prayed. 
Saturday morning, we got up, got ready, and got to the area to see whether anyone else was there setting up...and BINGO, there was another person setting up their booth.  We had guessed right.  They must only come on Saturday.  So we choose the spot right next ot them and started setting up our tent and walls of jewelry.  Well, after all was said and done...we were the only 2 tents there.  The winds were even more horrific that I pulled my station wagon behind the tent and we tied it down to the car.  We sat in this cold, with winds whipping every where for 1/2 of the day and only made one $8.00 sale.  I was so done by then, we decided to pack up and leave and not even worry about Sunday...all I wanted to do was go home. 
Now along the trip home, I noticed along the highway these beautiful flowers that I thought might be great to try and dry and use in some floral arrangements.  We pulled over to the side of the highway and I took my pocket knife and climbed down this slight hill to where the flowers were.  My partner stayed behind with the car.  As I was cutting away, I heard my partner calling my name....I told her in a minute.  She repeated my name only a little sterner this time.  When I turned to look at her and respond, there stood a State Trooper who proceeded to tell me what I was doing was against the law.  I couldn't believe my ears...I told him I was only picking flowers!  He told me that I needed to leave.  Well, little blonde me...just looked at him and asked whether I could just finish doing that section.  His look told me all I needed to know...I climbed back up the hill and got into the car.  Off we went.  That guy followed us for miles and miles.  I am sure he figured I might stop again along the way.   Well, we kept on driving, although I was disappointed, he didn't give me a ticket.  Half the way along, the muffler went on the car.  I thought great...I have lost all this money...between the entrance fee, the hotels fees, all the money for food, the cost of Rockome Gardens, the gas and now I would have to get a new muffler.  We made a whopping $8.00 and were splitting that.  I never looked at another Pumpkin festival again.  That was a day from Hell and never want to go back there again.  I swear, when I look back on that day, I often wonder whether there was a full moon out that night, because whatever could have gone wrong....DID.   But something good in the end came out of it...I got myself a story.
So we did.  We put together these PVC pipes with connectors that forms three connected walls from top to bottom.  We had these specially sewn canvas walls with pockets sewn into them that our jewelry could tuck into because they were all on a tent shaped card.  By the time we got it all set up, the wind had picked up something awful and the canvas was acting like a sail on a boat.  We were frightened that the pipes might snap and go right through the store owners window, so after a quick discussion, we took it all down.  We decided that perhaps, most of the crafters would come in for the Saturday and Sunday crowds. 
I told my partner about Rockome Gardens and what a nice place it was...we could go get lunch and go there to spend the rest of the day. 

Chicken Pox and a Birthday Surpise

Good morning to all of my readers.  I was sitting here this morning and wondering about what to write on the blog and yesterdays conversation with my daughter last night gave me the idea.  My poor sweet, youngest daughter has chicken pox.  She started with the usual fever and then out came the pox.  It is amazing to me how this one affliction continues on.  When my daughter sent me the picture to help identify it, instantly it brought back memoires.  Fortunately, she does not have them on the face, although that doesn't lessen the irritation and the itching any less.  I instructed her as to using a baking soda bath and the typical calamine lotion. 
I remember back when my daughter got chicken pox.  It was in the month of May, many moons ago, she broke out in the absolute worst case I had ever seen.   She had them on every part of her body.  They were on the bottom of her feet making it difficult to walk, she had them all over her face and also her neck.  There was one pox on her neck that was so huge it looked the bolt that you saw on Frankenstein's face.  Now if that wasn't bad enough, she even had them in the gums of her mouth.  It was awful.  No matter what we could put on the outside of her body...there wasn't anything that we could do to treat her gums.  I had her gargle with baking soda water, but that was the extent of what could be done.  It was hard not to laugh as she attempted to walk across the room with all the pus marks all over her feet.  I watched carefully over my younger daughter, waiting for the pox to appear...but it never happened.  I couldn't believe that one daughter could escape the disease with her sister so badly infected.  But escape she did. 
The worst about thing about that time was that it was during her birthday.  You know how all children love their birthday and how difficult when they are 12 and have the bodies covered in red pussy pox.  We still had a party for her with the immediate family and grandparents.  But not having a child's party was such a bummer.  I wanted to help lighten the mood a bit, so I decided to make a funny cake.  My daughter still reminds me to this day how displeased she was with my design. 
I had made a double layered cake frosted in a flesh tone frosting.  I piped in her beautiful blue eyes, her gorgeous blonde hair that I piped into ponytails, and a gorgeous little pinkish red shade of lips...then I used red hot candies and put them all over the face and took a thermometer from her child's. doctor kit and stuck it in her mouth.  I though it was so cute and appropriate....come on...how many opportunities would you have to make that type of birthday cake.  She of course was not amused.  I really didn't get it?  How could you not laugh about it?  It wasn't like there were all her friends from school there.  It was just the immediate family!  But till this day she reminds me how terrible it made her feel.  I guess she didn't inherit my sense of humor. .

Alpacas and a Visit to Creekwood Alpaca Farm

Good morning...not sure if you live in the Chicago land area, but if you do, you have woken to  a rainy day with high allergens in the air.  I am  not sure about anyone else, but the temperatures have dropped, we can open the windows...which now let in the allergens.  My eyes have been on over load the last few days.
As to today's blog, I decided to let you in on a great adventure for next weekend.  It is national open farm weekend.  I know...most of us have not been aware that there is even this sort of thing going on...but how exciting. 
I have met one if the owners...her name is Caryn.  What a lovely lady.  She was telling me all about her animals.  We had met to work out an agreement of her sheering her animals and spinning the wool and my using the wool to make various items like cowls, headbands, fingerless gloves and boot warmers.  I am excited at the up and coming prospects.  She had brought some of the yarns from her animals and they are totally decadent.   I am so looking forward to using them to create some designs for her. 
They are one of the farms that will be open on September 28, and 29th of this month from 10 A.M. until 4 P.M.  The tour is free to all.  I will be there for part of the day on the 28th to show some of the pictures of items that will soon be up for sale, along with her wools. 
When she began telling me the story of Alpacas and showing me the pictures of all the different types that she has...I was totally amazed.  I thought for some reason, not really having any interaction with Alpacas that they were all a sort of whitish color tones.  When she started to pull out the yarns for me to see, there were the creamiest  of Carmel colors and the deepest shades of chocolate. There were blends that she made combining colors as well.  She has the creams and tans.  I was in a yarn heaven sitting at that table one morning. 
She explained how rare that the Alpacas are in this country, the warmth of the wools and so much more that on a trip to the farm would be quite educational. 
She is also having some venders there to sell some wares.  She is hoping to expand the sales of Alpaca wools, items and even the Alpaca's themselves.  You will be delighted to see some brand new babies there.  In fact, I just received an email that a new little guy was just born the other day. 
Creekwood Alpacas is located on 10 peaceful acres just minutes away from Rockford.
When it comes to building your alpaca herd, quality doesn’t cost; it pays. CreekWood Alpaca Ranch specializes in colored, award winning Suri alpacas from diverse bloodlines. Their goal is to improve upon the quality of the North American Suri through selective breeding practices.
We are never too old to learn about something new.  I am always the first one to jump on that bandwagon.  They are spectacular to look at and she assured me that they are quite docile as well.  I cannot wait to get out to the farm and enjoy the afternoon.  If you should have the opportunity to stop by and are one of my followers, stop by and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you all face to face. 
CreekWood Alpacas
7467 Cunningham Rd., Rockford, IL 61102
815-505-8549

Jello an Era gone by the Wayside

Good morning to everyone.  I hope this is the beginning of a great weekend for you.  Today's blog is a Jello.  Today Jello does not seem to be an integral part of a day in a families life.  Nor does it happen to be the absolute for a dinner party. 
As far back as I can remember, Jello was an absolute must for almost everything.  It still remains to be that way for me and for most of the older generation.  If you listen to the old radio shows, Jello was one of the sponsors.  Don Wilson on the Jack Benny show would always talk about Jello and the wonderful 6 flavors.  There was even a song about J E LL O .....
There were cookbooks galore using Jello from salads and meals along with desserts. 
Growing up, my Aunt Honey was known for her Jello molds.  Whenever there was an occasion, that was the dish she always brought.  My absolute favorite of hers was on in three layers using cherry, lime and yellow.  There were pears and pineapple, cherries and cream cheese in it.  It was not only delicious but very pretty.  My mother made one that was with lemon jello, melted marshmallows and coconut and cream.  Grandma's contained ice cream.  I had another Aunt who made it with Mogan David Wine and dark cherries.  
I have made all sorts of Jello molds for events.  I especially love to include them in our Red Hat Events were everyone enjoys them...probably because we all come from the same era.  If my daughter were to have a party.. this would definitely not be on the menu...it just is not thought of. 
Jello was also the standby for when you got sick...even in the hospital you were given Jello on the liquid diet...although that was nothing special, but it always tasted good. 
Growing up, I remember how my mother and grandmother displayed the copper Jello molds on the wall as decoration.  The entire soffits of the kitchen were filled with them.  I have 2 kitchens  in my home and use the second kitchen to display those same molds.  I remember how sturdy they were...how much you had to go through to try to unmold them.  Hold water, knives run around the edges.  You had to make sure to lightly grease the mold before you put any Jello in or you might just be in trouble during the unmolding process.  Today you can buy molds from plastic.  The Jello company sells them, especially at the holiday season.  We have gone through the wreaths and trees for Christmas, the eggs for Easter...ever jelly bean molds.  At Easter a friend brought a beautiful crystal bowl filled jello jelly beans in all different colors. 
Yesterday, I saw the newest mold for the football and basketball season. 
When I walk through a store today...I cannot believe how many flavors there are....poor Don Wilson would really have a long commercial if he had to name all the new flavors. Currently there are 31 flavors.   
I remember growing up, our neighbors were struggling and the mom couldn't really afford much for the kids.  Grandma used to tell me that to give them a treat..the neighbor would use Jello in water to make a flavored drink for the kids.  There was no way she could afford anything else. 
Jello even made its way into the bars and adult parties with Jello-shots. 
There is even a Jello Museum in Leroy, New York.  Jello has been a staple and has been around since 1845 and became really popular during the Victorian Era.  It may come in snack packs for kids. It may not be as popular for the dinner parties today...but it is still my all time favorite snack and dessert.  My all time favorite is still the Black Cherry and Cherry.   I still recreate some of my families favorites for parties and hope that the new generation will rediscover this wonder tradition.    Remember..."There's always room for Jello".
 

Murder Mustery Party on the High Seas

Good morning to all.  I hope this day will be a happy one for you.  I am thrilled to have a cool morning to wake up to.  Today has already begun for me with painting.  I had nine turkeys sitting on the table and they needed to be finished and varnished so I can put them away.  I am now waiting for the end portion.  I will then clean up the paints and clean off brushes so that I can set the table for this evening festivities.  I have a couple of runs thins morning.  I need to pick up taffy apples and cotton candy.  It just wouldn't be a County Fair without them. 
I have my line up of stories for todays performance.  It is for the remembrance Care and I have been requested to do a light and funny performance.  I think I have just the proper stories to fill the bill.  
As to today's blog, I thought I would touch on my first Murder Mystery Party.   If you have been a follower of this blog, by now you will have picked up on the fact that when I do something, I do it all the way.  So the First Murder mystery I planned was to be on a Cruise ship setting.  After I sent out the invitation instructing each person as to their personality, I then began the planning stage. 
I bought some Butcher paper from a local butcher store and measures it out to fit the whole wall in my living room from floor to ceiling.  I then began drawing the windows that would me found on a ship.  In the center of the windows were the waters and island scenery. 
This was quite a long time ago.  So there were no computers or things to use for informational research or anything like that, so off to the library I went.  I was able to rent albums with music of waters and ships their horns.  I also took out various cookbooks as well so that I could research ideas for the menu. What a difference todays computers make.  Almost everything you want is at your finger tips. 
I made a tape of the ocean liners taking off ,along with music of the waters and then music typical of the late 20's.  That was the era that the party was set in.  I went to the thrift store and picked up champagne glasses that were filled with confetti for the take off which occurred on my deck. It must have been a sight to see as we began our night to the music and champagne, throwing confetti overboard. I often wonder what goes through my neighbors minds when they see some of the things I do, or better yet, as guest arrive in costumes and it is not any where near Halloween.  We then went back into the house where I had turned the annex to the kitchen into a gambling room.  Everyone enjoyed a game of two of craps and then we entered the living room which is where we began the actual mystery.  The game came with a tape of the inspector who tells us of the murder.  Each of the guests are suspect in this and the object of the game is to uncover who did it.  We each received a docea of our character and is portioned out in four stages.  In each stage you are told information that you must reveal through that stage, but must keep in character and work it into the conversation.  You also are given bits and pieces about yourself that you really do not want revealed about yourself, yet someone else may divulge.  You need to be on your toes and divert everyone's attention when the spotlight it pointed at you.  It is quite interesting and challenging, to say the least.  We did round one while we enjoyed the appetizers,  Round two was done while we enjoyed our dinner..
Since on a cruise their is usually a Buffet...I served in the same manner.   I made various soups and breads and salads for my guests to enjoy.  Flags  hung over a nautical set table with a ship and floral arrangement as a centerpiece. 
Next onto stage 3 as we enjoyed some coffee.  The guests were wonderful.  Each dressed to the hilt in their character set in the 20's.  I had old photos framed around and even had borrowed an old phonograph to help set the mood.    In phase 4...you reveal who you assume is the guilty person.  The very last page of our books reveal one by one who and how the murder was committed.  We had a toy gun and some handcuffs for the murderer to be taken away in.  We did this phase while we enjoyed dessert, which since the meal was more on the simpler side, I had gone hog wild with desserts.  I remember it being the first time I had ever made a Charlotte Russe. along with homemade cream puffs made into swans and cheesecakes. 
We had one memorable evening.  We laughed till the wee hours of the morning.  It was a way of enjoying each others company and at the same time not spending a whole lot of money.  We all chipped in for the event.  Something I think people seldom do, and consequently, when all the cost lies on one person..it is .seldom that anything gets planned. 
When I look back at those days, I remember the thrill and the excitement that went into the party.  I wanted to create something that would stay in ones mind to treasure in the years to come.  I am not sure how the others feel today, so many years later, but I smile when I think about the man who played the jewel thief in his White tuxedo jacket and diamond rings on his fingers.  I recall the woman who portrayed the Duchess with her diamond tiara and her ribbon sash long blue tea length dress and dripping in jewels.  I remember myself in a typical flappers dress with headband and feather around my head.  We took it to the extremes, but that was what made it so special. 
We had subsequent murder mystery parties, each different and special in their themes.  I still enjoy the pleasure of hosting one on rare occasion.  We have even done them where it was all women and half portrayed a male character.  We just figured if Shakespeare could have men play women's parts, why not do the reverse.  It is all up to our imagination. 
And speaking of imagination...isn't that one of the most valuable gifts around?  Even if it is only for a short evening...we were allowed to become someone else.  We were allowed to pretend to be in a place and time we might never have been or would be.  I am grateful to have been surrounded by such wonderful people in my life who choose to go on those crazy journeys with me.  If you are ever looking to do something fun, I whole heartedly recommend doing a murder mystery at home.  You  can purchase kits for different types online.  Sometimes I even find them in the thrift stores.  They are well worth the money, time and effort.  You can put as little or as much into one as you wish.  Spend a night with friends.  Make a memory.  You won't regret it years down the road, when you look back and recall those special times.  .  

California...Here I Come!

Good morning to all my friends out there in cyber world.  I want to take this moment to thank those who comment.  It touches my heart and I am grateful for the feedback and sincere remarks.  Today will prove to be a busy one for me.  My plate is full for tomorrow with storytelling plus a red hatter event at my home.  We will be doing an event called "The County Fair", so today I will be shopping, preparing and of course cleaning up.  The weather is predicted to drop for tomorrow which throws off my idea of an outdoor event. What can you do except roll with the punches. 
Today's blog is sparked by the show where Lucille Ball and Ricky, Ethel and Fred sang "California here we come" on one of their series when Ricky was going to California for a movie test. for the role of Don Juan.    I must say...Lucille Ball was an amazing performer.  She was truly one of greats when it came to female comedians.  When I look back at those shows, they still make me laugh, yet with todays world, they make me think of how different the world has changed today.  Even as far as what will entertain an audience.  She did good clean humor.  Even though she was always trying to deceive her husband....the ending showed the repercussions and her always getting caught...it taught a basic, fundamental moral. I often think that there should be so much more than that on todays TV shows. 
Now that I have introduced the reason for the blog, it all happened when I was 7 years old.  My mother planned a trip for us and her best friend and husband to take to California.  No, we didn't drive, we took the Sante Fe train westward.  I can remember that we didn't have a sleeping car, instead we had seats on the train.  To be honest, I think I remember that they somewhat reclined...but not much.  It was a long trip out.  The best thing back then that really happened was that you could go into the Dining Car to eat.  The only other room that was on the train that was remotely different seemed to be the bathroom.  In the one section of the rest room was a couch.  That gave you a different change of pace from sitting in the chair, but usually, when I went in there, it was usually occupied by the older women on the train.  I remember one time going into that room and suddenly the train had come to a halting stop.  I flew across the room and hit my head on a side table.  Nothing serious happened, except the feeling of embarrassment and when I went back to my seat, I had to explain why my head was a little bit redder than usual.  
The trip was interesting as we traveled through the country.  It changed so drastically as we pioneered westward.  The major catastrophe that almost happened, but was deterred by my Dutch uncle was I almost lost my favorite stuffed animal.  When I was two years of age, my grandfather had given me a stuffed dog which I named FiFi.  This dog was my best friend.  he went every where with me, and California was no exception.  Well, through those 5 short years....the fur had been worn off, the eyes came off and my grandmother had sewn on some black buttons to replace them.  The seems had torn open so many times, stuffing had been lost and replaced by my grandmothers and mothers old silk stockings.  He was, to all adults, a complete piece of junk...but to me...he was my most prized treasure in the entire world.  In fact,  he still resides with me till this very day.  He is one piece of my childhood that I cannot let go of.  As years went by and my children were young teenagers, they used to torture me by hiding him as a prank.  One time I found my poor little FiFi  in the Freezer. 
Well, anyway, back to the train.  The conductor evidently found it on the floor while I was sleeping and picked it up and was going to throw it out.  My Uncle Ted found him and saved my dog for me.  I will be forever grateful for that act of kindness. 
Once we reached California, we stayed in a motel in Pascedena.  My mother kept bragging about how the Rose Bowl Parade happened on the street right where we stayed.  I just nodded and smiled...I had no idea what the Rose Bowl Parade was back then.  I smile now as I recall it each year during the Rose Bowl.  My mom rented a car and we went to so many places and there were so many memories.  We went to China Town one day.  I remember how confused the ride was because of the freeways.  They were so different that what my mother was evidently used to here in Chicago, and she got us lost.  We finally arrived in China Town.  My mom and her friend, my Dutch aunt wanted to go shopping...which was not up either my uncle nor my ally, so we said we would meet them in the restaurant.  I remember that the one thing my uncle loved more than anything was food...so he was quite content, and as for me, I was just happy to be there with him.  he used to tell funny and amusing stories and we always had a  good time together.  Well, while he was chomping down on appetizers, I was busy with my most favorite snack....lemons.  When my mother and aunt entered the restaurant, they couldn't figure out why all the customers were making such funny faces.  Well, the got their answer once they reached eyesight of our table.  There I was, sitting in the booth with a plate of sliced  lemons, sucking away.  My aunt really laid into my uncle about how he could order such a thing for me...I myself didn't understand the problem. 
The next visit we had was Grauman's Chinese theatre.  I remember how thrilling it was to find Shirley Temple's hands and try to see how well mine fit into hers.   I walked around and enjoyed looking at all the others that I recognized.  When I see the Lucille Ball series where she stole the John Wayne block, it always takes me right back to those days. 
One day we spent the entire day at Knox Berry Farms.  I remember laughing like crazy when my aunt and I were sitting on one of the benches while my mom and uncle were inside one of the shops purchasing jars of jelly.  Chickens walked the grounds and one got up on the bench and scared my poor aunt half to death.  I had no idea she was so frightened of birds!  She jumped around, waving her hands up in the air, screaming and hollering for help.  I just kept looking at her laughing and trying to reassure her that the chicken wouldn't hurt her...but she would have non of that.  When my mother and uncle came out of the store, they were quite perplexed as to why she was so ready to leave.  I  wish they could have seen it.  It was like from a movie..perhaps they would have called it Attack from a killer rooster!  I still laugh about it to this very day. 
We had a great pool back at the motel and spent time in the water and lying on the loungers.  We have a photo of the three of us like bathing beauties.  Back then we had our hair covered with those ridiculous bathing caps.  That is one thing from the past that I definitely do not miss whatsoever!
Some evenings, my uncle would walk me miles down to go and get ice cream down at the 31 flavors.  We didn't have them in Chicago at the time, so that was a huge treat.  I remember that my favorite was the watermelon ice cream....I had never tasted anything quite so good.  And of course we would walk all the way back and back then, even as a young child, I never thought twice about the walk.  Today, most children get driven down the block for ice cream.  Often times, walking two blocks is filled with moans and complaints.  How different things have become. 
We saw glass blowers there...and I must say it was just amazing to stand there and watch the miracle occurring right before my eyes.  I remember begging my mother to stay just a bit longer.  I was just so intrigued.  I guess my love for art began at a very early age.  We purchase some of the pieces.  I hadn't seen anything like that for years and years, but I did find a wonderful place in Nashville, Indiana that is run by a family and has been handed down through generations.  It still marvels me to watch the transformation.  In fact, I even took a glass blowing class.  I bet you're not surprised!  
One night, we took a drive to Malibu to a church on the top of a hill that was made all out of glass.  It was spectacular!  And there were birds flying around inside.  After that, we went for a ride in the mountains.  It was nighttime now and there were no gas stations nearby and I needed a rest room .....BAD!  My uncle laughed and said we could pull over to the side and I could go outside and use a leaf to wipe myself....HOW GROSS!!!  I told him plain and simple that I could not do that  because  "I was a good Catholic"!  They just laughed and teased me about that for years.  Needless to say, I was happy when we finally came upon a gas station. 
The one thing I remembered that was so cool, was that every morning we walked across the street to the Big Boy Restaurant.  It was so neat to see that huge statue of the boy.  Finally,, many years later I was bought the statue as a gift.  Fond memories.
California was a wonder trip filled with memories and memorabilia's.  About 9 months later, my Aunt had the biggest memorabilia.  She had a  baby boy and named him Ted after his father.  I guess they did a little more in California that didn't include my mother and me!  We laughed and enjoyed telling those stories for years.  My mom is now gone, but I know that she is never that far from me.  I carry her in my heart and in my memories.  Thanks mom for the experience!  

9-11 A Day For Faith

Good morning to all my friends out there.  Just a quick note...if you are touched or inspired by any of these blogs, can relate or can share a story in return, I would love to have you comment.  You never know where a story is inspired from.  Sometimes, someone will make a statement to me and boom...there it is...a new topic.  So don't be afraid to share or comment back. 
Today's blog is inspired of course because of the remembrance of the day.  Who could forget 9-11.  This day is in our hearts forever.  It has torn apart lives across the world.  We never know when tragedy will happen.  As I sit here this morning I must bow my head in prayer for the losses.  I praise the hero's who were so brave and risked their lives to save those in need. 
As a storyteller, I do a program on 9-11. I tell the inspirational stories that keep the faith alive....for I feel that the attackers were testing our faith on some levels. 
I know a story of a priest who was involved as one of the first responders.  He was there to minister prayer and hear last confessions.  He had just the day before requested some prayer cards from another priest who was, that day going to deliver them.  On his way, he heard of the attack and upon reaching the area, discovered that his friend has perished.  He spent the rest of the day handing out those cards and ministering to the masses.  God was prepared, even though we were not.  God saw at a time when we were blindsided.  God ministered through others. 
Here is the prayer that Father Michal Judge was seeking and Father Wabst had passed out in his place.
Lord, take me where you want me to go.
Let me meet who you want me to meet.
Tell me what you want me to say,
And keep me out of your way
There were many signs of God's presence that day...2 days after the attack on the World Trade center, rescuers searching for bodies through the ruble had discovered 2 large steel beams in the shape of a cross.  This now stands as a reminder at ground zero.  A sign that we are not forgotten or forsaken.  A reminder of the sacrifices that not only was made by one man, but that was made by so many.  That single day, so many sacrificed their lives to save others.  So many sacrificed their lives in each breath they have taken through these past 12 years in their recoveries. 
I look to that day with a double edged sword.  I grieve for the losses and yet I stand tall as an American.  I pray for the souls loss and their survivors and I pray for the American Spirit that had been dampened yet not drowned out. 
I take this time to remind each and every one of us that we live on borrowed time.  That in the darkness of the night we have the rising of the sun and another day to look forward to.  Let us all stand tall and raise our flags in tribute and in remembrance and mostly in faith for one nation under God.
 

Murder on the Backyard Grill

Good morning.  Today is going to be a hot one here in the Chicago land area.  I wish I could say that I am going to stay indoors and never leave, but today I have a gathering to attend.  I have plenty of things on my table to keep me busy with.  As a painter, there is always a number of projects going.  Most people don't start thinking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving...I on the other hand, think of it all year long. 
My weekend is full with a number of jobs and events so I need the week to accomplish all that can be done at home.
Today's blog is about Murder.  Don't get too excited...I didn't commit any!  It goes back in time more than 25 years ago.  We lived in a standard brick bungalow in Chicago.  It was a busy street but not a mane street.  It was the type of street that everyone used to avoid all the traffic on the main streets. 
One summer day, all was quiet in the neighborhood, when suddenly out of the stillness, we heard the sounds of sirens blaring past our home.  Now, an occasional sound of a police car was not all that unusual, but this particular day there were numerous ones.  I finally went to the front windows to see what was going on.  I noticed that the police cars were all stopped across the street from my home about 4 houses down.  There were police officers everywhere with their guns pulled.  Now the neighborhood I lived in was quite peaceful...this was definitely not the type of activity that was a normal occurrence.  By now many of the neighbors had gathered outside to try to figure out what in the world was going on.  Now that I think of it...that wasn't the brightest thing to do!  But, there we all were gazing down to were the gathering was.  None of us were about to go down there. But we just waited and watched.  Eventually, they took away the man that lived there in handcuffs.  Escorted him into the squad car, and drove off.  The other squad cars remained. More squads came by now and a coroners car as well.  We now knew that something horrible has happened. None of the neighbors had heard any gun shots...so we still wondered what was going on. This went on for at least an addition hour, when finally all the cars left leaving only the crime scene tapes across the home. 
Now the house was set to the back of the property so nothing was really all that visible unless you were directly across the street from it. 
Once all the hub bub was done, we finally found out what had happened. 
The home was occupied by a married couple.  the wife worked in a hospital and was at work when her husband and a friend had decided to grill and have a few beers.  Well, no one is quite sure what had happened between the husband and the wife, but when she arrived home from work, a fight between the two had ensued.  The next thing you knew, he had grabbed a knife and stabbed his wife to death...but if that wasn't horrible enough, he not only had stabbed her...he cut her up into many pieces.  In fact, it was said that the officers had to search for the pieces throughout the house the yard and even on the grill. 
The best that we all could speculate was the man had gone insane.  No one in their right mind could commit such a heinous crime.  The house remained empty for many years.  We had moved out of the neighborhood before it ever sold.  I often will drive that road and past that home and wonder whether there is any paranormal activity there.  We never did find out what happened to the husband...I hope he was locked up for his lifetime.  That poor girl and whatever family she had.  Luckily there were no children.  I couldn't even imagine how they would be able to continue in a normal lifestyle after something as horrible as that.  It just goes to show you that even in the nicest of neighborhoods, you never know what is behind closed doors, or what can happen.  Today, I bow my head in silence for a soul who was taken by the hands of someone who she thought loved her.    These sort of crimes happen every day...we read about it all the time, .but when it happens in your own back yard....that is what makes it real! 
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint