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My Blog

June 2014

America Has Hidden History

Librety BellBell in Kaskaskia, IllinoisGood morning.  Another weekend has bit the dust....but cheer up...and extra day for celebration is on its way! 4th of July is on its way.  Do you have plans for the 4th?
Recently, at a performance on the Revolutionary War...one of my questions to the audience was whether they thought the signing of the Declaration of Independence was the ending or the beginning of freedom. 
When we hear the Declaration of Independence, some may think that it was the end...but it was just the beginning.  It is when we DECLARED that we wanted to separate from England.  It was just the beginning of the War.  It is also an interesting fact to know that even though John Adams participated in the writing of the Declaration of Independence, ABIGAIL, his wife had much to do with what was contained in it.  As an educated woman with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, she loved to write to her husband while he was away at the Continental Congress. It is said that she repeatedly reminded him to remember to include woman.  That they would never stay still without a voice. 
And the Liberty Bell....it had 3 names.  Did you know that it started out as the State Bell, then the Independence Bell and finally the Liberty Bell?  Did you know that the bell cracked more than once?  Did you know that there is a second bell that is actually 11 years older and was given to Illinois?  And, did you know that it cracked as well?  The Illinois Bell sits in a church in Kaskaskia, Illinois/Missouri.  Why did I put both states down?  Well, you see, Kaskaskia was the original capital of Illinois.  When the Mississippi River flooded, Kaskaskia found itself in Missouri.  There are about 9 residents there.  They have an Illinois drivers license, but a Missouri zip code.  You can visit there and find the bell.  You can even find the original Governor's mansion....but not a whole lot more. 
History in our country is extremely interesting when you start digging up some of the specifics that have gone unnoticed.  We accept whatever it is that is placed in front of us.  We accept what is taught to us in school and most never question beyond what are in those history books.  It is up to us...we who have the liberty...to search and learn.  up until the last couple decades...most never imagined women fought in the war.  Most write ups are about the men.  Everyone in this country has heard about Paul Revere...and his famous ride...but have you ever heard of Sybil Ludington...She rode twice as far as Paul doing the same thing. 
You must have all learned about minute men....how about minute women?  One famous minute woman was Prudence Wright. 
History is all around us. It is because of both men and women that our country is what it is today....and continues to be. 
I would suggest that on a day when no one has anything to do...get in your car and go somewhere...anywhere ...and start to look around.  There is a lot of history behind the scenes if you only look for it.  Just yesterday, driving down a street that I have driven down hundreds of times...I noticed things I had never seen before.  There was an old building with the inscription Post Office on it.  Well, it is no longer a Post Office....what happened?  Being the passenger in the car, I began to notice other things as well. So...go for a joy ride.  Let it become your historical adventure.  Look closely at places and question them. You might find that there is a story hidden there.  If you find something...share with me as well.  I would love to here about it.  Feel free to comment about what you find here in the comments page.  I look forward to your comments.

My Family That's Not Related

Good morning to everyone.  Well, another Sunday is here..and what a beautifully sunny day so far. They are predicting storms for the Niles area later today, but in the meantime, I will enjoy the sun. 
Well, yesterday was quite the day and ended with the starter on my car dying.  I had to leave it and will have to return with the mechanic sometime later today.  But in the course of all of it, I was feeling very blessed.  I thought about the travels that I have been on in the past two weeks and was blessed that it didn't happen to me in Texas or along the road home.  Nor any of my trips that were a distance this past week. 
Well, today's blog is about an overwhelmingly emotional day.  I spent it with a girlfriend who turned 60.  We have been friends for all those years.  Imagine such a relationship.  I was never so pleased and honored to be with her on this occasion.  Now, that was amazing in itself, but the crème de la crème of the day was those that were in attendance and the feelings that I left with. 
From the moment I walked in the door, I was greeted and hugged with such love and passion that my heart was overjoyed.  I sat down at the table with all of my friends aunts and Uncle and her mom and dad.  Now this was heart warming for me, since we all lived on the same block together in Chicago some 60 years ago.  Each and every one of them played a significant role in my life and in the lives of my family members.  Oh, what a conversation we had.  I was sharing the info about my investigations about Dunning and they all remembered and shared.  We spoke about the Linco man and I remembered his name as Red...no one since had remembered this and  a past Chicago Politician  remembered him. He was my friends uncle.  We talked briefly about his being on the police force and then times in political office.  He shared stories about an experience over at the property where Camp Douglas once stood.  We talked about Weber and Gordon High schools and stories that I had never heard.  We talked about bleach and it's chemical compound. We discussed liniments and old time medicines.  The one best thing about it was. These people were my family....in a very odd sense.  It was the closest that I have felt since a child.  We laughed, we ate, we sang, but mostly we shared. 
As each of my friends siblings walked through there were hugs and kisses.  There were heartfelt hello's and hugs from her children and nieces and nephews.  You see, this was a family that I have been with for 60 years...in a sense, they belonged to me as well. 
There is rarely such bonds that are seen today and I was so very grateful to have it.  As I looked around the room, I was overwhelmed by the good fortune for my fiend.  The love that surrounded her was amazing. 
I had painted her a picture and had it framed as her gift and wrote a story of why it was painted and the meaning behind it. We were both in tears as she read the story and my heart was so full of joy to have been so blessed for so many years.  Susan was the sister I never had.  It was hard for me growing up with out siblings and God blessed me with one.  We may have not been biological, but we were surely Soul Sisters.  It doesn't matter if time has past and we go with out talking or seeing each other because we are always in each others hearts. 
Now, when I left the party and was on my way home, we stopped at a McDonolds...my husband needed to use the men's room and was going to get me an ice tea.  When he arrived back at the car, there I sat blubbering away.  When he got in he asked what had happened?  I simply gave him my look and he pretty much knew that the emotions of the day overwhelmed me.  Sitting there waiting for his return, it dawned on my that perhaps that would be the last time I may see some of those wonderful people.  This was a rare occasion and they are all pretty much in their 80's.  Some in the middle of the 80's.  I pray that they live long, long lives...But to think of it just saddened me.  I thought about how wonderful my friends children and their spouses rallied to make her day so special and in that moment, I felt very much alone.  Once my senses returned to me, I felt so blessed to have what I have in my life.  I am surrounded by amazing people and amazing friends.  They are the friends that you know that you can call at 3 in morning and say I need you and they will come running...no questions asked.
I thought about how grateful I was for God to have given me an additional family.  these were not just the average neighbors...they were the extension to my family.  the outer links. 
They were the family to my best friend and new almost everything there was about her...and then there were things that only I knew.  Those special moments that only her and I shared with each other.  I was her family and her family was mine.  It was a very large circle of friends of all ages...and FOR all ages. 

From Trash to Treasures

Good morning and happy Saturday to everyone.  Well, here in Niles, the sun is shining and the re predicting 88 degrees for a high.  Warm, humid and pending showers is in the forecast.  Tomorrow is a day of stories at the Alzheimer Facility...so I will need to rehearse just a bit for a 4th of July program. 
Today's blog is about garage sales.  I find it most amazing how ones man's trash is another man's treasure.  I know how I find it exhilarating to find something that is considered trash to turn into a piece of art.  Each year, I plan out the items I am in search of for the years projects...and then somewhere along the line, I find added treasures...and sometimes, I have no idea what in the world I am going to do with them after I have bought them.  But I am sure that the revelation will happen at one point in time. 
One year I was crocheting collars and was is need of fancy pins to attach to them, another year I searched for baskets to make centerpieces with pine cones and lights...I have to tell you...I now own a plethora of baskets, because well, time ran out.  When I say plethora...perhaps you may think a dozen..well, it is more like DOZENS!!  I would now have a garage sale with just baskets. 
Well, this year...I have my list and checked it twice.  I am in search for a number of things...one being pots and pan lids.  Not the pot and pans....just the lids.  I want to paint snowmen and gingerbread heads on them.  Another item I am looking for is cake pans.  You know the kind....the train shape, the car shape, Christmas trees, snowmen and Santa's.  I want to paint them as well. 
shirts of various kinds to make wall art.  Men need gifts as well.  It is funny how an artist looks at an object quite differently than the average person.  A metal colander can become a lampshade, an old time hand boxed grater can become a santa.  Even empty wine and liquor bottles have a plethora of chances of being recycled.  I have cut them, painted them and even flattened them in my kiln. 
A garage sale is a wonderful way to find odds and ends and sometimes bags and boxes full of unwanted strays.  I most recently found a bag of art brushes at a Goodwill that was filled with some of the top named brushed made by Winsor Newton and Grumbacher. There were perhaps 30 brushes in the bag for a mere sum of $4.00.  Those brushes would have cost me a few hundred dollars if I purchased them in the store.  Yes, they were not brand new, but had been kept in great condition.  Evidently, the artist passed away...and they were of no use to anyone else...but I know that the artist that once owned them would be smiling now that they know that another artist is using them.
When I think of creative uses of garage sale items, it brings to mind a wonderful restaurant near me in a town called Evanston.  It is called The Lucky Platter.  Now aside from the fact that they have amazing food....and an old fashioned real Cream Soda Drink, there establishment is decorated with garage sale findings and some creative uses of items found.  You will find a fish hanging that is made completely out of coffee cans and coffee pots.  The tablecloths are all those old state tablecloths from the 40's and fifties.  There is a lamp in there that I once owned one exactly like it in the 70's.  It is a Grecian statue with strings all around it where oil drips down into its base and rerouted itself up to the top again and repeats itself.  When you look up on the ceiling, you will see spit balls everywhere.  Paintings from who knows who?  There is even a island man made from bottle caps holding a metal bowl...I remember my mother having one of those when I was a child in the 50's. 
Someone clever used someone else's trash and created it into a fun and interesting piece of treasure.  If you are ever near Chicago, take a trip to this wonderful little place for a meal along with an eyeful of delight. 
My husband laughs at me...as does everyone else I know when I am driving down the street and see the sign "Garage Sale".  I think my car already knows how to turn towards the sale all on it's own. 
I once had a getaway with my Red Hat group that I called from "Trash to Treasures"  We always do a get away in January or February and that year, the girls could only spend a total of $15.00  to create an entire outfit to model, and it all had to come from a garage sale or thrift store.  It was amazing what they came up with!  Not only did they have the budget to work with....but everything had to be in red and purple.  What a fun runway that was!  As activities, I found a garbage can and will it will the making for jewelry...along with some candy...like the ring pop and believe it or not...a gummy rat on the top.  It was hysterical to see them all open up the can.  I was also able to find miscellaneous items at garage sales that were pretty funny...ex. a pair of a child's superman underpants, a black leather bra, and so much more and wrapped it in a bag and attached a string.  The girls had to pull the string and whatever they got, that night after dinner, they had to tell us the made up...but a believable story about their object.  What a riot we had.  We never seem to stop laughing  when we are all together.  Someone's garbage had certainly given us loads of laughter and lots of pleasure.  
So, in ending...my thanks to all those people who hold garage sales.  I certainly enjoy the hunt and all the treasures and pleasures they hold. 

My Roses

Well, good morning to all.  Another Friday has arrived.  they are taking some warm weather and some pretty significant storms in this area so I am hoping to work indoors in the air conditioning today.
I attempted to load the pictures of the roses that I had painted on a new page, but somehow...cannot mange to figure out how to get them on that page....and since I have promised to show them....here they are on this page. 
So that you know, these roses that I painted are for my village of Niles and they will be displayed around town from July 1st until November 15th when they will be auctioned off for charity at an event held here in Niles called the Night of Roses.  I am honored to have been a part of this and am very grateful that I have received the permission and the licensing to paint the Chicago Blackhawks rose.  I hope that you, my readers who have followed me, enjoy a glimpse of some of the other things that I do, aside from storytelling.  If you click on the pictures, you will get an enlarged photo.   

A Chocolate Covered Banana Treat

Good morning to everyone.  A much cooler day here in Niles, Illinois.  I am certainly grateful for a break in the weather, although they are predicting more storms headed our way and a much hotter and humid weekend. 
Well, today's blog was inspired by my dinner last night.  We went out to grab a hot dog and fries at a local establishment.  I was thrilled to see that they had hot dog buns with no seeds.  Most places have the seeds on the buns and due to my diverticulosis...am left getting something else.  It was a pleasure to finally get to have one out.  But, my husband...bless his heart, noticed on the signs that they carried chocolate dipped frozen bananas and bought us each one for dessert.  Wow...if that didn't spark up some memories.  I loved having them as a child....heck, even as an adult!  I haven't had one though for many years.  He cam back from the counter holding that plastic covered chocolate banana on a stick.  The first thing I did was look at the calorie count.  150 calories....not too bad...then I wondered what it was without the banana, since on weight watchers...bananas are a free food...but what the heck...it was a delightful treat.  I must say, I savored every single bite of that banana.  I looked across the table at my husband and thanked him...I also told him how much I loved chocolate covered frozen bananas and he just nodded his head and said..." I remember".  You see when I was pregnant with my first child, I had the worst cravings for them.  Bless his heart...he ran all over in search of them for me.  We were able to buy them in a box at the grocery store if they were available. 
Years later, once my children were about 2 and 3, I found a place that sold taffy apples AND frozen chocolate bananas on Clark St. in Chicago.  The girls and I would take a cooler and drive over there to buy both the apples and the bananas.  Whenever it was their birthday, I would purchase them and take them to their classroom as a treat for all the children.  It was a whole lot different than the usual cupcakes, and since their birthdays were on May 18 and June 3, it was a good time of the year for them.  The kids always appreciated something cool on those hot days.  In fact, when my husband became a teacher...I on occasion would buy them and drop them off for him and his students as an end to the school year treat.  Of course.  a couple dozen came home with me as well!  Then, the store close down.  It nearly broke my heart.  The company that made the taffy apples has opened an outlet near me, but they don't make the bananas any longer...at least I don't think that they do!  After last night, I will have to stop in and check that out!
Anyway, as I stared down at my stick, I thought about how it must have all got started.  I of course couldn't wait to find out.  Turns out a man named Don Phillips open a frozen banana stand in California in the year 1940.  A man by the name of Teller, soon opened up a stand and took it on the road to carnivals and festivals.   The chocolate covered frozen bananas have recipes all over the place.  Some even are rolled in Rice Krispies, some in sprinkles and even nuts.  As for me, I am a purist.  I prefer them in their original state. In fact, it inspired me so much, that I have found various ways to make them and I think that I will make some for the 4th of July dinner.  I am sure those that will be here will enjoy it as much as I did.   I really enjoyed having a blast from the past.  A great big thank you to my husband for such a "SWEET" gesture!

The EYES have it!

Good morning to all.  I hope you are going along well.  It seems like June has just swept passed me.  There is so much to do and just so little time to do it all in.  Lately, I have been on such a whirlwind that I would just like to step off the merry go round for a day or so. 
Well, today's blog is an odd topic, but one I really wanted to share with all of you.  Iridology is basically, the study of the eye.  I don't know about the current generation, but years ago, when I was young, and I went to a doctor, one of the first things that they did was stick a tongue depressor into your mouth over your tongue and the second was to use a light and look into your eyes.  How very different it is today when you visit a doctor. 
Well, going back to looking into your eyes.  About 15 years or so ago, I began studying Iridology.  I also met a doctor from Greece, who in turned helped me. There are books and charts on how to learn Iridology as well.  You see, they use the iris of the eye and have charted it out like a clock.  You would use the hands on a clock as a guide as to where particular bodily functions are found. I would use a magnifier to get a closer look as well as a small light. 
From the first glance at a person's eye..you can detect a lot just by looking at the whites of their eyes.  For instance, if there is a yellowing...they need to detox...a blue shade indicates a lack of oxygen...and so on and so forth.  Now, when you start to investigate the actual iris...it can reveal so much more. 
I remember...quite a long time back, my daughter brought home a friend who was always sick and not feeling well. The doctors had taken all types of tests on her and they really couldn't determine the problem.  Now.....mind you....I do not claim whatsoever to be an expert or a professional in this field...just a student.  Well, I took my tools and examined her eyes.  I was quite surprised to see what was there.  I checked the books to reaffirm my findings.  I asked the young lady whether the doctor had checked her for Lupus.  She sat there in the chair with a look that was not quite describable...She said no....but continued to tell us that her twin sister had Lupus as well as her mother.  Ah...amazing stuff!
Now perhaps 2 years later, my daughter had her second child.  One day as I was playing with the baby, I noticed something strand in her one pupil.  This beautiful blue eyed baby had a rather large brown spot in one particular spot in the eye.  In fact the spot was where the brain regulates speaking and motor skills.  I expressed my concern with my daughter who only pooh pawed it away.  Turns out, later, that as my granddaughter grew older, we realized she had some trouble with a speech impediment and motor skills as well.  A little while later, she had her first Seizure and then another and another.  She was diagnosed with Epilepsy.  Some of the seizures were so severe...I wondered whether they caused her stuttering.   Well, it seems that the brown spot detected a great deal. 
Now the other thing I noticed on two other individuals was a pair of twins.  They Have a disease called angel man syndrome and neither can speak and have extreme motor skill dysfunction incidence. 
I don't know why we are not as exposed to this type of diagnosis.  I think that some of the older ways of looking at a person are important.  They say that to look into a person's eyes is to see their soul...I agree and add that you can see their health as well.  If you have never heard of this type of diagnosis. It is time for doctors to look at more than just your charts. 

God Gave Me a Voice..What Do I Do With It?

Good morning to all.  Hope you are having a great summer day.  I have noticed many on their vacations.  It is amazing what the computer has done to the world.  It allows us to keep up with friends and family and even acquaintances around the world.  Well, yesterday, I had to get 2 coats of varnish on my last rose.  The weather predicted was storms.  I asked God for a window of time to allow me to get the varnish on.  I must say...God was AMAZING to me.  The rain seems to blow away from this area.  I was able to get both coats on and it was  allowed to dry...an amazing feat!  I brought it in late last night...before the rain came.  I felt like Noah and the Ark.  Thank you God for answering my prayers.  Today I am to deliver the roses.  I will snap a hopefully good picture of each and post it under my page of "The Wonderful Wizard of Art". 
As for today's blog, I thought I would talk about singing and the songs that speak from the heart.  I was trained in this area for many years.  I love to sing and used my voice for many things through the younger years of my life.  I sang in the choir at church.  I even began the soloist in the church.  Ave Maria being one of my favorite songs to sing.  I remember the days of rehearsal's.  The organist's name at St. Stanislaus B. & M, the church I attended in Chicago, name was Chuck.  He was always encouraging me to continue to practice.  He believed in me and in my voice. 
Once I graduated and went to Madonna High School, an all girls High School.  I took chorus with a nun called Sister Lucretia..  I also took semi private and private singing lessons with a voice teacher.  I sang throughout high school, in plays and honestly whenever I was given the chance. 
Soon life took over.  Singing took a back seat and I went to work as a secretary.  Other than the humming going on in the closed computer room...not much singing was done.  Then I got married and then 2 years later became a mom...and the singing resumed.  It was no longer on stage but in a rocking chair as I rocked my baby to sleep.  During the daytime, as I cleaned house, the music blared on the phonograph as I sang to my hearts content.  I continued singing away until it was made mention that all I ever do is sing....well, that was enough to shut it down.  I became so self conscious of singing, unconsciously I started humming.  In fact, it is still brought up to me to this day that I will be found humming away without even realizing it. I would sing in church but  I became self  conscious....because it seemed that most of those attending mass were standing on the mousy end of things.  I didn't really have time to join a choir...so...I sang in the pew and toned it down.  I started to contemplate what the real problem was.  I asked God what I was supposed to do?  Why did He give me a voice like He did and what was I supposed to do with it.  Is what I had already done, enough?  I began to feel as though I was letting Him down in some way.  I just didn't know what to do.  So....when given those questions...I give it to Him to let me know...and pray that I see His way.  I have done the same with my art...since I was never allowed to take art lessons...and always wanted to paint.  It took years for it all to develop....but it is going somewhere...FINALLY.  Anyway, back to the singing.  One day I attending a George Gershwin one man show and at the end they had a sing along.  The gentlemen walked over to the stage and asked where the voice was coming from and singled me out.  He asked me to stand and sing...at the ROYAL GEORGE THEATER.  He played and I sang...my heart was filled with joy.  There are a few things that truly bring great joy to my heart to sing.  One is Christmas songs, another is praising songs to God and finally, the songs that lift America Up.
Well, last week, as I was on vacation in Texas...I attending my granddaughter's High School graduation.  Now, I must tell you...I give a thumbs up to Texas for their convictions to prayer and to pride in America.  The ceremony began in prayer....for those who chose to pray, the pledge of Allegiance and to sing the Star Spangled Banner.  As I stood there amongst perhaps the 6 or 7 thousand in attendance, I sang my heart out.  It felt so good inside and out.  To sing of my pride for my country and to sing it in honor of God.  I never gave another thought to how loud I sang ...the voices in chorus were swelling in the college auditorium, but upon sitting down, the people behind me and in front of me both took time to acknowledge my singing.  I was a little taken back, but pleased that I had done my best for God and my country.  A few days later, I took my granddaughters to a Cattle Run in Fort Worth.  We decided to attend a rodeo there in the evening.  We were all so excited to go....it had been a number of years since the eldest remembered us taking her.  The evening began with a young lady on a horse riding around the arena as she carried the American flag.  Faster and faster the horse ran and the flag waved through the air as we all stood and sang the Star Spangled Banner.  Once again, amongst all the voices in the arena, I sang my heart out.  During that time, a woman below me, turned and took my picture...I wasn't sure of why...or perhaps I was mistaken...perhaps it was someone above me.  When the song was finished and we sat down, there was a cotton candy vendor that was standing on the steps below me during the ceremony, who turned around and questioned whether it was me with the voice?  I said yes, and he bowed to me as he wiped a tear from his eye.  He thanked me for the song.  I sat down and thanked God.  I am still not sure what it is that He wants we to do...but lately...he is giving me the impression that there is still something to be done.  I guess we never get too old to do God's work...to carry out our dreams and aspirations.  I will keep on singing and listening as well.  There is still more to come...I feel it.  As a storyteller, I occasionally add singing to my programs, which I feel blessed to have the opportunity to do...but in my heart of hearts...I feel there will be more to come!

My Gift of a Two Wheeler

Good morning to all. I hope that your weekend went as well as expected.  Mine was spent completing projects.  One last step to go on my last rose today and I am finished.  I will post pictures by tomorrow.  Hope those of my readers who follow me will enjoy.  I am hoping to soon post some other works of my art. 
As for today's blog, I decided to travel back in time to when I was young and received my first two wheeler bicycle.  I remember my Schwinn bike.  I received it for a Communion present from my mother.  It was blue and white with those blue rubber handlebars with streamers of some sort that hung from them.  It was a dream come true...the only problem was...it was way too big for me.  It wasn't like we had the money to keep buying different bicycles back then to adjust to our size.  They were pretty much the standard.  I could definitely get on the bike with a bit of a struggle. 
I remember that growing up in the city of Chicago, we all had alleys and of course that it were we rode our bikes up and down. 
It was days of my trying to get high up on the seat and attempting to get there with enough time to peddle to get it going.  I finally mastered it!!  I was amazed at my accomplishment.  I rode the bike to the end of the alley...not don't get too excited, because that only meant it went 3 houses.  I was petrified of falling...even to this day...so when I got to the corner...it was either go out or across the street and attempt to turn around, or the alternative was to stop, get off the bike, turn it around and peddle the 3 houses back.  Well...need I tell you my choice was the latter?  I continued this pattern for a few more days and then attempted the long drive down to the opposite end of the alley...now that was really a trip.  I went just about an entire block.  Once again, at the end of the block, I was confronted with the same two options and never deviated from my choice. 
Now after about 2 weeks into mastering this monster of  wheels, I decided that I was ready to take flight.  I would turn at the end of the alley and proceed onto the street and around the block.  Courage!  It took courage...remember I was only 7 years old  with a bicycle that was twice my size!   
Well, that courageous day, I jumped up onto that padded seat and off I went..as I approached the end of the alley, I held my breath and entered the street with a turn...so far so good!  I was feeling proud of the accomplishment.  I peddled along down the street feeling great as I approached the end of the block and prepared for the next turn.  As I looked for cars, I carefully angled the bicycle to take the turn and down I went.  I slid off the bike right across the sewer cover, scraping myself quite badly.  I looked at the scrapes and the blood trickling down my body, picked up the bike and ran home crying.  Gram cleaned up the wounds that I had endured in that battle and even put away the monster that gave them to me. 
I have to tell you...it took perhaps a years before I could face that monster again.  I rode that bike again on occasion.  I would rather walk that ride a bicycle even to this very day.  I cannot help but look my nemesis in the eye and have flash backs of that day.   I am not sure where my fear of falling came from...but that bicycle sure enforced that fear! 
I encouraged my children to ride a bike, but their father needed to be the one to help them.  The only wheels I am comfortable with, happens to come with a car attached to them.  
And, wouldn't you know it...I would marry a man who loves cycling.  He cycled back and forth to work for years.  He even took a trip from where we lived on the North side of Chicago to St. Charles, Illinois.  Quite a feat in my opinion, and then back.  He often tells the story of how he and his friend got there and stopped for an ice cream at Colonial Ice Cream Shop and when he reached the girl at the register, he proceeded to tell her that they biked all the way from Chicago just for some of their ice cream.  He laughed about the look on the girls face when she heard him.  I can only imagine what went through her mind when she heard him! 
Well, I guess bicycling is never going to be my forte. Often, my husband has offered to buy me a bicycle and each time, I give him the death stare.  I marvel at those who ride them...it will just never be me.  I get intimidated even with an exercise bike! 
  The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard. ~Sloan Wilson

 

The Family Ring Tradition

Good morning to all.  I hope that your weekend has fared well so far.  I have been busy completing projects.  I have been able to complete 4 projects to submit to teach for a national convention and will now, just keep my fingers crossed that at least one of them get accepted....but there are so many amazing artists and projects out there...I will just have to sit and wait!  I was able to be blessed with good weather for the past 2 days to be able to get the 2 roses I painted for my village varnished with 2 coats and dried before the rain storms hit.  Thank you God!!  I worked on the third rose....was able to finish the rose part and now all there is left is the base.  I was fortunate enough to receive the licensing from the NHL to do the Blackhawks on it...so there is a lot to consider on what to do on the base.  These rose will be displayed in the town for the summer and fall and then auctioned off for charities at a dinner in November.  I am hoping they make good money for that! 
Well, today's blog is about a very important part of my family's history. It is about a garnet ring.  Long ago, my grandfather's sister Frances was married.  she desperately wanted to become a mother.  The day finally arrived when she was blessed to know that she had become pregnant.  Her biggest dream was to have a little girl.  Well, all went well for the nine months of pregnancy and the time finally arrived for her child to be born.  This is where the story really begins.  Frances bore a child and unfortunately, there were complications.  Both mother and child died in the process.  In her memory, her garnet ring was asked to be worn in honor of every girl in the family.  So the tradition began.  The ring was decided to be given to each girl in the family at the age of 13.  I am not exactly sure why that particular age was chosen....perhaps there was a connection to the supposed bad luck of the number...which honestly didn't make sense, or the fact that at the age of 13, you were deemed responsible enough to treasure such an heirloom. 
Well, all of the girls that my grandparents had wore the ring, with my mother being the last of the girls to wear it.  My Grandmother became the "keeper" of the ring and held onto it until the next generation of children were born.  It turned out that there were only 2 girls born in the next generation which were my Sandy and myself.  At the age of 13....each of us wore the ring.  The ring is worn until the age of 21 or the next girl turns 13...whichever comes first.  My cousin was 10 years older than me, so she wore the ring until my 13th birthday.  Once I turned 21 the ring returned to my grandmother for safe keeping. 
Years went by, when one day at a dinner, my grandmother handed me the ring and told me that I she had decided that I was the only one who bore girls, that she thought that I should become the new keeper of the ring.  I was honored with her decision and kept it safe until it was time for my daughters to wear the ring.  Unfortunately, my eldest daughter only wore it for one year, since her sister was 12 months younger than herself.  My second daughter wore it for a very short time, but when she left home, the ring was not allowed to go with her. 
I kept the ring in a very safe place...and each time I opened the box, gave honor and respect for the woman who wanted so desperately to have a daughter.  I hoped that she was smiling down on the family, knowing that in some way...all these girls that wore that ring, wore it for her. That in some way, they were all honorary daughters. 
Well, five years ago, I presented the ring to my eldest granddaughter....talk about history repeating itself.  Here I am, the grandmother....the keeper of the ring.  Well, the time has come for the next granddaughter to wear the ring and so I know am preparing the ring for her to wear.  She is excited over receiving it as well as I am that she will wear it..  The next ring wearer is 8 years away.  I will wait to decide on who the next keeper of the ring will be. 
It is amazing how time has flown by.  How many girls have worn tat ring with pride and honor.  It is a priceless memory.  I am so pleased to be part of this family tradition and its history.  The ring is in its 5th generation of woman and hopefully will continue.  I pray that I am around to see it given to the 6th generation of girls.  Time will tell...but it the meantime...on the finger of the next young girl it goes.  
I love tradition....do any of you, my readers have any to share.  I would love hearing yours as well.  Perhaps mine will inspire you to start one or one of yours will spark a new one for me.   

Oil and Vinegar...not plain anymore

Good morning to all.  Another Saturday to the weekend is upon us and here in Niles, it is gloomy and damp.  I was able to varnish one of my statues yesterday when it cleared...I have another one to do today...but it will be questionable whether I can get it done.  I will spend the rest of the day painting the last rose for my village.  I will post pictures once all are finished under a new section of this blog titled...The Wonderful Wizard of Art.  I will be posting painting from time to time there as well. 
As for today's blog, it was inspired by a visit in Grapevine Texas to a quaint and charming little oil and vinegar shop in their historic downtown area.  What an amazing experience it was.  I have been introduced to various types of oils and some vinegars, but never quite like these. 
I had the opportunity to cruise up and down the aisle where small metal containers sat with spigots attached.  On the counter right below them were small individual paper cups and a glass apothecary jar with slices of bread and a pair of tongs to use for removal of the bread slices.  Tasting the oils and vinegars was a wonderful experience, but what far surpassed that was the variety  of flavors.  There were flavors there that I had never imagined would be found in vinegars.  One of my favorite was a Black Cherry and another was a Chocolate Vinegar.  Now, if you are anything like me...you might be wondering what you do with them....Well, one taste of the Chocolate vinegar...and all I could imagine was perhaps a strawberry and spinach salad, or even perhaps a mandarin orange/spinach salad.    My imagine was running wild as my taste buds were delighted with each new tasting. 
Now you didn't have to imagine too hard on how you would blend the oils and the vinegars or how you would use them because they had recipes and suggestions there of ways to pair them and how to serve them or use them. 
One of them was their “Mushroom Lovers”: A zesty sweet mushroom sensation by combining our Porcini Mushroom Olive Oil with our Fig Balsamic Vinegar
Another was “Smokey Yet Sweet”: A little smokey from the Chipotle Olive Oil, and sweet as honey with our Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar. A little kick of spice makes this pairing very unique!
And another one for the sweet tooth in all of us..“Chocolate Raspberry Cordial”: This is actually a three way combination vs. a “pairing”. Our enticing Raspberry Balsamic Vinegar, our lush Dark Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar combined with any of our premium unflavored EVOOs. Truly a special chocolate treat!
Words cannot adequately describe the amazing tastes of these wonderful combinations and the door it opens to preparing new and exciting foods.  Being on Weight Watchers...I have been introduced to ways to improve the taste of the foods we consume and cannot wait to share this with the people that go to the meetings with me.  Just so you know..I am not a seller of these oils and vinegars...and have no interest in the company, but want to only share the delightful experience it gave me.  I was delighted to know that they have a website and that they ship their products.  When I personally went to the website, I found amazing suggestions of pairings...in fact, they listed 39 of their suggested pairings. They even list recipes.  I was most amazed with the recipes for breakfast. 
It goes to show you how a simple step into the realm of the unknown will educate you and take you to a whole new level in cooking.  I am very excited to try some of these.  Perhaps invent some on my own.  I am now very interested in investigating oil and vinegar shops around here and now I have something to compare it to. 
As I sit here now, I cannot help but think about what a fun party it would make to have guests bring dishes made with various oil and vinegar pairings. 
When I think of oil and vinegar combinations...I have been partial to balsamic vinegars and my all time favorite dressing is found at a local Italian restaurant near me called Graziano's.  Their house dressing has always been my number one dressing to go to...(they sell it at their register), but now, this one visit has opened the door to a whole new world for me. If you have some time on your hands...look and see whether there is such a place near you and take a visit.
Perhaps it will inspire you as much as it has inspired me. 

Walgreen's Ice Cream

Good morning.  Well, here it is Friday already.  It is quite gloomy here in the Niles area.  I was hoping to varnish some pieces that I have painted for the village of Niles, but it seems that the weather is not quite co[operating with my idea.  I was hoping to do it outside, but it is too humid and looks like rain is expected again.
Well, today's blog is about ice cream.  Summer seems to scream for ice cream.  Although, to be perfectly honest with you, I could eat ice cream any day of the week throughout the year...warm or cold...it doesn't really matter.  Ice Cream is my Achilles heel.    But I was sitting here this morning thinking about ice cream and one of my favorites from when I was a child.  As I pondered over all the different ways I exposed to ice cream...one of the best things I remember was going to Walgreen's Drug Store when they had the 10 for $1.00 sale.  Can you imagine?  10 pints for $1.00?  It was a great way to buy ice cream, because there were so many flavors and everyone could get what they wanted.  I hate to admit it, but sometimes, I would buy it and open up one of the pints and just eat it right out of the container. 
The best thing about it was that the containers were square.  My grandmother used to make me ice cream sandwiches with it.  The odd part of it is....I don't know whether she purchased the waffles or made them...because I cannot imagine that there was a square waffle maker machine back then.  I do know that when I recently shopped at a local Sarah Lee Outlet they had the small sized square waffles that looked exactly like the ones grandma used back then.  Since they have closed the outlets, I am no longer sure where I can locate them.  Anyway, Grandma would warm 2 of the waffles, slice the ice cream right from the square pint and sandwich it all together.  It was a yummy treat.  Also, the waffles seem to absorb any melting ice cream so it was less messy to eat. 
I think, even though today my favorite of ice cream is Vanilla...back then my favorite was the Neapolitan.  I loved that you could get 3 different ice creams for the price of one in one container.  I also loved their banana split ice cream as well. 
It seems that  Walgreens makes their own ice cream? They do! Started  back in 1912.  In fact, the invention of Walgreens immortal malted milkshake, an instant classic, by Ivar "Pop" Coulson  occurred in 1922
They still carry ice cream at a affordable price even today.  No it is no longer the 10 for $100...but still reasonable for a great ice cream.  In fact, the ice cream was manufactured in Walgreen's own plant on East 40th Street in Chicago.  Up until 1922, malted milk was basically made with milk, chocolate syrup and a scoop of malt powder.  It wasn't until one hot day that Pop Coulson added a scoop of Walgreen's ice cream to it that made it today's version of a malt.
I know as years went by...square containers were the way most ice cream were packaged in...now it seems that most are in round containers.  It is easier to keep the containers closed and away from freezer burn...but oh how nice those small container were. 
It turns out that Walgreen's was one of the original stores in Chicago that still remains and is still surviving.  A piece of history that continues to live on and has grown.  I wish that they still made those small square pints of ice cream...but am happy that they still make ice cream ...if you have never had some...think of trying some on a hot summer day soon!

Remembering Pay Toilets

Good morning to all.  I have finally returned from a trip to Texas.  Loved being with the family, but happy to be home as well.  What a difference in temperatures from there to arriving here.  I left Texas and it was in the high 90's and when I arrived home it was 62 degrees and raining like crazy. 
Well, today's blog is perhaps a bit off the wall, but on my way home yesterday, I stopped to use the bathroom facilities in one of the gas stations.  Upon entering the ladies room, there was something about the look of the door on the bathroom stall that reminded me of the days when we paid to use the bathrooms.  Talk about a swift flight back in time. 
I remember that you always took a few dimes with you when you went out...just in case you needed to visit the ladies room.  I can remember walking into the bathroom and there stood that door with the sign on it, instructing you to insert the dine into the slot and that there should be no sharing of the stall.  There were many times when I had entered the ladies room to find young women crawling into a stall because they didn't have a dime on them.  I cannot imagine getting down on my hands and knees to crawl on a floor that might have any urine on it...but I suppose if you had no other choice...well, you might have felt there was no way out. 
I was never really sure why we needed to pay to go to the bathroom back then or ever for that matter.  It seems that the reasoning was to pay for the upkeep of the facilities.  At least that is what they claim. 
When I questioned the pay bathrooms, my husband said that he thought that they did away with them to stop people from urinating in front of them in protest.  I couldn't imagine such a thing and then of course, I argued that the only people I thought that would or could do that was men.  I couldn't imagine that a woman would drop her drawers to urinate over such a thing.  But upon researching, I found that the first pay toilet was installed in 1910 in Indiana. 
They were made by a company called Nik O lok.  They were finally banned in Chicago in 1973.  Chicago was the first to ban and then it continued around the US. 
As I continued to research, I discovered that pay toilets are still common in other countries, and that even in London, they have pop up toilets that come up at night for the drinking crowd to avoid anyone publicly urinating on the streets.  It seems that some of the pay toilets have attendants sitting in front of them to collect the money.   They may also deliver the toilet paper to you to use the facilities. 
It seems that in many places...it is frowned upon if you ask them to use their facilities.  I know many establishments that have signs that their bathroom are for employees only. 
I found some current photos of pay toilets and see that some even take credit cards as well as change. 
Well, for all of those who remember when we paid to use the public toilets...I thought you might enjoy this little poem.
Here I sit
Broken-hearted
Paid my dime
And only farted
I am not clear who wrote it...but pretty apropos.

Alcohol, the Evil Spirit

Good morning to everyone.  I hope your weekend is going well.  I would like to wish everyone a Happy Father's Day.  Why everyone?  Well, I guess because I came from a family where all the woman had to step up to the plate and be the dad for me, I know that like all the fathers out there...there are plenty of moms and grandparents who have stepped into a father's shoes.  I know first hand from a child's view...how tough some days can be without a dad around and am grateful for those who did step up and fill the shoes. 
Today, I am addressing Alcoholism.  It has occurred to me how everyone is afraid of ghosts.  Even ghost hunters have catagorized them.  They have ghost hunting equipment to help give credence to their existence.  Ghosts can cause minor disurptions....like making noises, moving things from you.  Then can walk around like zombies, there are poltergeists, and there are ghosts who have physically scratched or pushed causing bodily harm.  Their are some that even enter a human form and caused all sorts of destruction where an exorcism has been needed.  There are many who say they don't believe in ghosts or spirits, probably because they haven't seen or experienced one. Now you may wonder where I might be going with this...well, this is for those who may need to hear this because they have an Evil Spirit called Alcohol in their life and know it, and for those who may have it in their life and don't recognize it.  It may also be for those who have never had it in their life and are open to hearing about it. 
One of the first thing we have all done as children is close our eyes when we are afraid of something.  Oftentimes, when we close our eyes, we think that the horror will go away. When you watch a scary movie, you have the option of closing your eyes to the really scary parts, but when Alcohol or rather, an Alcoholic is in your life,it can be both.  Oftentimes, the word Alcoholic is a word that is pushed off and dismissed for words like "a heavy drinker".  Sometimes it said by an Alcoholic that they can stop drinking whenever they want...and that they are not an Alcoholic.  How does this relate to ghosts.  Well, an Alcoholic can be just a scary and mean and can do as much damage to another human being...not to mention themselves.  It seems that their actual "spirit" changes.  They can become mean and spiteful.  they may say hateful and horrible words.  Some take it even farther than that.  Some cause physical harm to others.  They hurt all the people that they love in the course of their drinking;.  Their behaviors change and seems to be invisible to only themselves.  It is frightening to watch.  Sometimes those on the outside looking in, close our eyes to avoid how scary it can become.  It is not only an emotional roller coaster for the family to watch...it is also financially damaging as well.  It is hard to see a family lose everything they have because of the Alcohol. 
Most people imagine that an Alcoholic is that bum on the street in filthy clothes with a brown paper bag in their hand...but for those who think that is an Alcoholic...are you in for a surprise.  I am sure that you are never sure where or when a ghostly spirit will appear or surprise you....well, it is the same with an Alcoholic.  they are business men and woman, mothers, fathers, children, teenagers, They can be your doctor, lawyer, grocer, best friend. They can be your mother, father, sister brother and child.  You don't have to go very far to find one...the key to it is to be able to recognize that they are one.  This is the hardest part. 
I wish that an Alcoholic can see what they do to those that they love.  They don't even have to physically harm them.  They oftentimes have their children afraid of everything.  The children watch the destruction and feel trapped and have no where to turn.  they cry silently in corners for fear of what will come next.  They are often denied a normal family life and sometimes a future.  They are trapped and can't escape.  They are often left to fend for themselves and for the other members of the family. 
An Alcoholic can have literally a black out.  They can pass out, or even worse, die because of the that evil spirit in them.  That evil spirit can harm or even kill another person.  It can wipe out a bank account, cause you to sell everything you own.  It can destroy your marriage and you relationships
It amazes me when people who are addicted to having the SPIRIT in them,  They reach another plane of existence.  Once they have leveled out on the stage...they need more and more to make themselves higher.  Alcohol is a DRUG...a mind altering drug. Short-term effects of alcohol consumption include intoxication and dehydration. Long-term effects of alcohol include alcoholism, malnutrition, chronic pancreatitis, alcoholic liver disease, cancer and damage to the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system  
I often wondered why they use the word spirits as another name for Alcohol....now I understand.  It is plain and simple, it is SCARY! It is a disease with a trickle down effect that not only affects the Alcoholic but everyone around them. 
So who gains by the use of Alcohol...those who sell it and those who regulate it.  Did you know that the government gains $5.6 BILLION Dollars annually from the sale of alcohol?  Should they make it illegal?  It is funny that they regulate how many pain killers can be gotten through a pharmacy and have put any harmful allergy medicines behind a counter and limit the amounts purchased...should they not do the same with Alcohol? 
So, here is my final words on this EVIL SPIRIT.  If you, or anyone you know is haunted with the prescense of alcholol...go to AA.  If you are the family member, friend, child, spouse, or significant other...seek help at Ala non.  Why do you need help if you are not the alcoholic?  Because you life is turned upside down...you have probably stepped into a survival mode and don't even realize it....any more than the alcoholic realizes that they need help.  If a house is haunted by an Evil Spirit...you would have it blessed and cleansed...do the same for yourself.  Get help...start the road to recovery. Put the money back into your own pockets.  Live a long and healthy life before it is too late and you lose everything and everyone! 

Allergic ReactionsDue to Birth Control

Well, good morning to everyone.  I hope that your week has gone well.  I have been on a whirlwind with my grandchildren.  Went to the museum and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It always amazes me that there is so much for us to learn and never enough time to learn it all. 
Well, today's blog is based on something that has happened to a granddaughter.  About a month ago, she came down with a horrible rash all the way up and down her legs.  At first, they all assumed that it might be chiggers.   She went to the doctor, who in turn could not quite identify what the rash was from...he gave her some cream and an antibiotic and sent her on her way.  She took the allotted pills and applied the cream.  The raw rashes covered up but the rash is still everywhere.  We sat in a hot tub last night and she complained that it was bothering her.  I started putting two and two together.  I remembered a while back that I had a rash on my legs from an accumulated medicine that I was using to treat my psoriatic arthritis.  It didn't emerge for 3 1/2 weeks.  But when it did, it cam out with a vengeance.  It was so horrible that I had to place sheets between my legs to be able to sleep.  I asked her whether she is on any medications.  She said that the only new medicine she is taking is a new type of birth control.  She continued to tell me that this particular one had a special balance of hormones to help with her heavy periods. 
All of a sudden, a light bulb went off in my head.  I asked how long it has been since she has been on them and she told me 3 months.  I then inquired how long she had the leg irritations and her answer was a month.  A month and it hadn't cleared....right there we have a red flag.  I had her bring me the pills and looked up the side effects.  Sure as rain...a unidentifiable rash was one of the side effects.  She never imagined that birth control pills could do that!  Well, I am not at all surprised that things like that get dismissed.  I am frustrated that doctors will treat an unidentified rash with meds and not question them.  Especially since he, himself didn't think it came from chiggers. 
I did some kinesiology with her.  Kinesiology is where you place an object...in our case, I had her hold her birth control pills in her hand and then with her other arm straight out and I pushed it down above her wrist while she resisted my push and she couldn't keep her arm up.  I replaced the pills with a cup of coffee and repeated the procedure and her arm never moved.  Well, according to the process of Kineasiology, she is allergic to the birth control.  She has made an appointment to see the physician and I will go to see him with her.  I am so grateful that I was here to see the problem and because of my own problems. realize that it could be an allergic reaction.  We need to be more and more aware of what chemicals can do to us.  We cannot rely on a doctor's appointment for all the answers.  We have to begin learning to read our own bodies.   I hope that if you have never heard of this process...that you look into it...it just may answer many questions for you regarding your health.   

Remembering Shanghai Lil's

Good morning to all.  Hump day has arrived once again.  The days are longer and longer.  The longest day of the year will soon be upon us.  It is so nice for it to still be somewhat light at 9 P.M..  
Well, today's blog is about a restaurant that is no longer in existence other than in our memories.  Well, at least in mine.  Shanghai Lil's was an amazing restaurant and entertainment house located on Milwaukee Ave in Chicago. 
Growing up, it was THE place to go for a special occasion.  From the food to the exotic named drinks to the amazing floor show.  It was one of the best places to go for just about any occasion.  It was a way to feel as though you had flown across the seas to a place of intrigue and mystery.  It had Cantonese and Polynesian cuisine that was amazing.  You received a lei when you were there, as well as little paper umbrella's on top of your drinks.  There was a floor show of Polynesian dancers that was always entertaining. 
I remember that it was always the place that we went to after proms.  I must say, I went to quite a few proms in my day, and it always ended at Shanghai Lil's.  I celebrated my 19th birthday there with some of my girl friends.  I remember back then the amazing drinks, but most of all, my favorite to order was the coconut ice cream served in a coconut. 
I remember that when my godchildren were of a certain age, I took them there for their birthdays.  They were both born on the same day and I wanted to take them out for a special evening.  I remember buying them a corsage and a boutonniere to make the night begin with a special feeling and then a trip to Shanghai Lil's.  I can still remember the look on their faces when the dancers came out on stage.  I don't know what it is about seeing such a performance, but I do know that you become somewhat hypnotized by it all. 
They have since torn down that amazing place and put up condo's there now.  What a shame. A few years ago, I went to an event held at a local college for Cultural Week.  They happened to have some wonderful Polynesian dancers there and I was able to get their business card.  They have opened up a restaurant in Des Plaines.  It is at Mannheim and Oakton.  The establishments name is the Tiki Hut.  It has great food and a great floor show.  If you remember Shanghai Lil's and want to reminisce a bit...this would be the place to go.  it is not on a grand scale like Shanghai Lil's was, but thoroughly an enjoyable place to frequent.  The food their is wonderful....especially their pork.  The show is well worth going to.  I believe the shows are only on the weekend though. 
We went with my Red Hat group to see the dancers and landed up seeing an Elvis impersonator instead....but even that was quite entertaining.  One Sunday, my husband and I went and they had Kareoke, so if you want to make sure to see the floor show, call for your reservations and check on the show. 
Nothing will ever replace Shanghai Lil's, however, for those of us fortunate enough to have made it part of our lives in the 60's and 70's....what a memory it was.  A trip to a tropical paradise without having to foot the heavy bill of airfare!

Bringing Up Baby

Good morning to all.  Hope you day is going well.  I spent the evening at a graduation.   There were 921 graduates there.  What an amazing job well done.  Today there is a lot of preparations that will go on for a party for my own little grad. 
Today's blog is titles bringing up baby because of what I experienced last night.  I happen to know quite a few grandma's who have brought up their grandchildren.  I know that when I was growing up, my grandmother had stepped to the plate and took care of me, even though my mother was around...but she was out in the work force and fortunate enough to have her mother there to basically raise me.  Now, I understand the job is an undertaking on so many levels, and that you have a much different take on child rearing later in life.  The things that seemed so important when you were raising your own children have lessened substantially.  The time and efforts that you put into the children are so much more important and the patience you seem to have gained is amazing.  I appreciated each moment that I was able to have with my granddaughter, but last night it tugged at my heart ever so much more than I would have expected.  I don't think there was much of the 3 hours of graduation where tears did not trickle down my face.  In fact, as I type this, the tears are welling up in my eyes. 
Yesterday, at that graduation, I felt so many emotions and so may thoughts raced across my mind.  I felt the sense of pride that I was part of the reason that she was there.  That my time and skills taught her how to study and have such a high GPA.  As I helped her dress and do her nails it took me back in time to when I did her nails as a little girl.  As we laid across her bed and she shared her hopes, fears and dreams with me....I thought about what a treasured moment that was.  I sat in the chair in the collaseum remembering my own parent sitting there for my daughters and wondering whether they had the same emotions that I was feeling.  I was choked up that I was alive and there to see her graduate.  I know that probably sounds ridiculous...but there and then, the thoughts of moments in the future I was hoping to be there for.  Her graduation from college, her wedding day, the day her first child is born.  I know that I am not her mother....but yet I am.  I am still hoping that years from now, she will still want and need me there.  It is a hard thing to have raised a child for a number of years and then having to step back and let the parent step in.  I know in my mind that is they way it should be, but yet those moments of bonding with that child just doesn't go away. It doesn't even fade. 
I sat there thinking about my own grandmother. I thought about all those moments in my life that she was able to share with me and how I didn't realize the importance of it.  I hope that my close relationship spoke volumes to her. When I see women raising their daughters children...I see a whole different side of them.  People who have never worn those shoes question why we would give up the time and parts of our lives.  They have no idea how much we gain.  Last night I felt like the richest woman in the world.  The pride that I carried and the love that was there was amazing. An experience I wouldn't have traded for all the money in the world.  If you are raising your grandchildren...2 thumbs up for you!  You have become a priceless person in that young person's life and years from now...I hope that you will swell with pride like I did.  We are called the PRE-moms.  It is like the pre wash cycle in the washing machine.  We do all the extra hard work to make sure that the load comes out perfect in the end...well, at least in our eyes they do. 

A Cup of Coffee

Good morning to all.  It is already Thursday.  This week has literally blown past me.  The sun is shining outside and promises to be a lovely day.  I hope I can get everything that is on my agenda done today.  A long 2 weeks ahead of me and a great deal of things to accomplish. 
Today's blog is about Coffee.  It has been a drink that I have been exposed to my entire life.  I have gone through various stages of coffee throughout the years.  It has been most recently that I have begun to give it more thought and consideration.  
Growing up in Chicago, my grandmother made coffee daily.  She cooked it on the stove in a great big white enamel coffee pot.  To me....coffee was just that...coffee.  Grandma used to crack egg shells into the grounds and sometimes add a pinch of salt.  I can remember going to the A & P ( a grocery store that was in Chicago at that time) and going to the aisle where you purchased a bag of coffee beans, poured them into the machine that was there, and ground up the beans.  I remember how wonderful the aroma was as the machine worked its magic!  Today. there are so many varieties of coffee that it could make your head spin.  Coffee is no longer a simple drink that you added some cream and or some sugar to.  Coffee has become a gourmet drink.  From hot to cold it has become a real sensation! 
About 40 years ago, my husband had come home with an idea of  us opening up as coffee house.  I thought he was out of his mind....who in the world would come to a so called coffee house?  At that time...coffee was a quarter for a refillable cup.  I saw no future in a coffee house.  He kept insisting that we could sell different types of coffees....and I still thought he had totally lost it.  I had other ideas of how we could make money....neither of us listened to each other...and it was too bad, because we could have made a fortune! 
15 dollars for a box of individuals coffees that make 12 cups.  That is $1.00 a cup of coffee and you are making it at home.  If you walk into a coffee house like Starbucks or Caribou...you are spending on the average of $3-5 a cup. 
Recently, I was discussing coffee with my granddaughter.  She loves flavored coffee....but  agrees that spending a fortune on the expensive coffee pots and individual coffees are crazy.  I recently brought her a coffee pot for school and some flavored coffee that she was thrilled with. 
When you have left over coffee....that expensive drink....how many of  you toss it down the drain.  I like to use my left over coffee in cooking.  I add it to my stew and beef dishes.  It adds an amazing taste to gravies.  I have added it to melted chocolate for my cookies. 
When we lived in Chicago, I had a neighbor whose uncle worked for the sanitation and water department and he told her to throw her coffee ground down the drain with water.  It was a way to keep your drains clean.  I am not sure if this is a legitimate pipe cleaner...but I have done it for the past 35 years without a problem 
I have added coffee grounds as well into my garden dirt.  It can be used to deter ants.  Poured into your ashes in the fireplace to keep the dust from flying in the air while cleaning.  It can add shine to both your pets and your own hair.  The grounds can also be used as an exfoliator for your skin and placed in the refrigerator and even your shoes as a deodorizer.   
Now with all the differences of coffees, the one thing I know to stay away from is decaffeinated coffee.  One time, I went on a diet that told you not to have caffeine.  I couldn't imagine a morning with out my cup of java...so I switched over to decaf.  Well, I developed the worst headache that continued on for 3 days.  Friends told me it was because I had cut out coffee....the headache continued on for another 3 days and by then I knew I had passed the days of detoxing the coffee out of my system...but the migraine lingered.  I had a friend help me to do a test using kinesiology and discovered that I was allergic to the decaf.  You see, they use chemicals to decaf the coffee.  I cannot handle the chemicals.  So if you are perhaps having that problem you may want to check into kinesiology.    Perhaps that will be a topic for another day! So enjoy your cup of coffee and don't forget to spread the grounds around.

Imagining the world through the View-Master

Good morning.  Sorry to have been amiss for a couple days.  Lots going on and rushing to finish  it all. 
Today's blog is about a childhood memory.  I was thinking about one of my treasured toys as a kid and one of the things that came to mind was my view master.  I remember that toy more as my opportunity to travel around the world. I kept it in a special box along with all the slides that I had to view.  Each reel was in it's separate paper slip that kept it from harm.  I can remember countless days of sitting outside on the front porch with my view master in hand, click, click, clicking away.  I remember how there were all types of reels to look at, but one of my favorite was the scenery ones.  I can remember thinking about how amazing those places were.  My desire to travel to see them.  As the years have gone by, I have been fortunate to have seen many of those sites that were once just a click away.  There were also view slides of people like Cisco Kid and Tonto.  I am not sure why I had that now that I look back on it.  Perhaps I was the recipient of some of my cousin Bob's slides. 
I don't remember what happened to my view master and slides...chances are, they got handed down to my cousin's children. 
As years moved along and I had children of my own, I recall the time when I bought view masters for my daughters.  It was amazing how they had changed from a heavy metal toy to plastic.  They didn't have the same click as they once did, and the reels were changing as well.  My girls weren't quite as interested in looking at scenery.  They wanted more updated scenes to look at.  Their attention span wasn't the same as mine. They seemed to want immediate satisfaction.  I found that it was more of me picking up that red plastic toy and clicking away.  It soon became lost amongst all the other toys.  It became part of the land of misfit toys.  Funny how the years change what is used by the young.   It seems that today, the youth are mesmerized by the electronics.  A good old fashioned view master today would definitely need to be updated to keep up with the times.  Looking for a light source is no longer needed.  It seems that they have put that into the newer versions.  You won't drive up and down the street and see kids sitting on their front porch clicking away with this great toy.  It might still be a toy bought....but I don't think that it has the staying power that it once had when I was young.  Those of us who came from an era where it was filled with intrigue over what was out there ,didn't have the televisions to show them every thing and every where  that there was to see.  Some of us who looking into those amazing little machines...are now on the roads finding those dream spots that were once a click away and created dreams for the future. 

I see that today's view-masters are made to look like characters like Spiderman and  Hello Kitty.  I see that the reels available have changed quite a bit.  It seems they are made to appeal to  the much younger aged children.  I guess everything changes.  We live in a much more technologically advanced world, but I must say, I miss the simple days of long ago. The mystery of the unknown and the desire to get out and discover it all. 

The Search for Sugar-free

Good morning to everyone.  Well, it is a gloomy day here in Niles, Illinois.  There are storms rolling in and we are expecting some pretty heavy storms.  I guess I won't be varnishing outside today.  I do plan, however, to work on some new patterns for painting.  That should keep me busy all day long. 
free.  What a disappointment.  As I got back into the car, I pondered how many of us are out there that have this problem.  I thought about the thousands of diabetics, weight watchers, those who stay away from sugars, etc.  I wondered why those who make ice creams and ices,  sherbert, cakes and cookies don't consider this market.  I would love to find something while I am out and about from time to time to treat myself to, as I am sure does everyone else in the same situation as myself. 
The next trip I made was to a small Italian grocery store in search of something....anything.  I landed up buying some cannoli shells....knowing I had frozen canolli filling at home.  I figured at least I could prepare those for the ladies who COULD have the sugar.  But the dilemma ensued....what about my friend and myself?  I cut up watermelon and figured that it would suffice....although I eat that all the time...I was disappointed.  there wasn't enough time for me to prepare something special...and what a shame that I couldn't just find something.  Finally, come the time for dessert, I prepared the canollis and looked at the watermelon and changed my mind.  I landed up taking two tall glasses, I filled them with ice and added some fat free cream, then I pulled out the frozen container of sugar free cool whip and added a huge scoop of that in each of the glasses and filled the rest of the glass up with sugar free root beer.  It was a little more of a treat for both of us that just the watermelon.  I am not saying watermelon isn't a great treat....but I eat it all day long as a snack and wanted something creamy like those cannolis. 
It is a real disappointment when I am on the road, not to find something special at a fast food place or a local restaurant.  Even Bakers Square used to have a creamy sugar free Banana Cream Pie that they no longer carry.  I makes us Diabetics the odd man out.  Even if you wander down the ice cream aisle...there are no choices for us.  Unless I do something with Sugar free Jello...I am at a loss.  I try to stay away from as much of the Aspartame based products because of the leg problems it gives me.  With all the different things that are invented...you would imagine that SOMEONE would carry a Stevia based treat!  There has been such a turn around these days with wholesome based products...I just wish that places would have at least ONE treat for some of us individuals who cannot have the sugar...for whatever the reasons. 

A Birthday Not Forgotten

Good morning to everyone.  Another gorgeous day here in Niles, Illinois.  A busy day ahead for me.  Tonight I have my red hat group coming over and we are doing an Unusual card Night.  What do I mean by Unusual?  Well, we will be turning a deck of cards into pieces of art.  With words to inspire us, we will use an enlarged deck of cards that I was able to pick up and by using paints, stamps, stencils, bubble wraps, laces, trims and odds and ends, will create some works of art.  This is a form of a mixed media art that I am hoping to share with the girls and get them to let their creative juices to flow.  No matter what happens...there will be plenty of laughter and fun. 
Today's blog is about my inner most feelings.  Today, I sit and remember what happened 37 years ago.  Today is my daughters 37th birthday and I am not able to wish her Happy Birthday except in my mind and heart. 
My daughter left us 18 years ago.  She has decided that she has a life to live.  She has since married and had children and is living her own life.  Unfortunately, she has chosen to do that estranged from us.  For a long time, I thought that we were the only people in the world who had such a  horrendous thing happen.  I have since found out that it is not all that uncommon.  Painful as it may be...and she may never know....I think about her and her children daily.  On days like today, I mourn the loss.  I ponder all the wonderful times that we shared together.  I think about her sweet little face when she was young.  The twinkle that was in her bright blue eyes.  I remember every curl of hair that I combed, brushed and French braided when she was young. As I look back on her birthdays, I recall the special parties and  the special cakes that I used to make for her.  I remember the thrill it used to give me to be able to give her things she hoped for.  I remember the overnighters with friends, becoming her girl scout leader, and school mom.  As she grew, I remember sewing for her.  From Cabbage Patch doll clothes to her everyday clothes to her prom dresses.  All done with love.  I don't know whether she ever looks back on those times and realizes how much love there was for her. 
Why would I question that?  Well, there was a time when her life seemed to turn upside down.  Depression seemed to slowly creep into her life.  I saw her unhappy, angry and lonely. 
During those times, I tried to make myself available 24/7.  I remember phone calls from her where she didn't want to live anymore.  I remember rushing to her side, encouraging her. talking the evening away.  I don't quite know what happened to her.  One day, it just seemed that everything in her mind seemed to take a twist and a turn.   It is heartbreaking for a parent to watch.  She had all types of problems with her periods and I spent countless hours in doctors offices.  We even got her to see a psyshciatrist. The psychiatrist wanted to put her on lithium which I strongly objected to.  Then there was suggestions to have her put on Paxil.  that was at a time when it first came out and it was so very controversial.  I opted against that as well.  I researched and found natural medicine that might help....unfortunately, she chose not to take them.The doctors diagnosed her with bi-polar back then....at a time when we had no clue what that exactly was. 
Well, eventually, she decided that we were not the people she wanted to spend any time with and left us.  There are a lot of variables in this story that I chose not to disclose at this time except for a mother's broken heart.  On this day, this beautiful little girl was born.  she was an induced birth.  I remember how quickly it all happened...and as I laid on the table, I remember the thrill of the doctors saying it was a girl, and then the excitement in the room changing quickly.  When I looked up to see her....her body was a bluish color.  The immediately took her to a side table to administer some oxygen.  Her color changed to a normal flesh tone and we heard her cry.  In those moments, I feared the worse.  I feared that we had lost her before we even got to know her.  But God answered those immediate prayers and gave us our daughter.  We only got to enjoy her for a short while before she chose to leave us.  Once again, she had turned blue, but in a different manner.  I am grateful for the 18 years that god allowed us to hold her in our arms and the last 19 to hold her in our hearts.  I will never let go of her.  I will always hold on to those special times that we spent together.  I mourn over the loss of years and the sadness over not being their as she walked into adulthood and I mourn over not being there to see those precious special moments in her life since.  Marriage, motherhood....all things I thought that I would share with her...but alas, only in my minds eye and in my heart.  So, even though she is not here with us, I wish her love, peace and a Happy Birthday.
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