My Lost October

I have always loved the fall time of the year.  Love every special thing it brings to our lives.

The colors, pumpkins, apples and apple recipes, cooler temperatures, getting out my favorite sweaters and scarves, going to Starbucks for a pumpkin latte or maybe a coffee and a pumpkin cream cheese muffin.

This October started with joy and excitement, but ended with overwhelming sadness and helplessness.

I have written and mention many times about my two cats…….

Squeeze Box, adopted at 3 years old, so sweet and just a beautiful, loving pet.

and “Kitten”, our older cat, seventeen years old.

IMG_0337[1]We brought “Kitten” home when she was just a kitten.  Petite, loving when she wanted, just such cute ways about her, smart, my son’s favorite.

IMG_0391[1]Our two females did not get along, so when one wanted out the front door, we had to bring the other in the back door. Crazy, but we made it work because we loved them.

“Kitten” wanted out on a beautiful early October evening, so “Squeeze” reluctantly was brought inside. “Kitten” stayed out all night, as she had done so many times over the years, but in the morning when I went to the door she was not there.  She was always there waiting to take her turn to come inside, knowing she would curl up at the bottom of our bed for the rest of the day.

I went to the door many times throughout the day and called her, walked around our yard, searching under bushes, under our back porch, checked with neighbors in case she might have been closed in one of their garages, but she was no where to be found.

We called local vets, and over the next week drove the streets of our neighborhood, and also to many shelters to see if she was turned in, not likely, since she did not go to strangers, but we tried everything.  Our “Kitten” was gone.

After a week or so had passed, realizing “Kitten” was not coming home, we started letting “Squeeze Box” go outside again.

She so loved just curling up under one of our large backyard trees, and staying there all day, or sleeping on one of the back porch chairs.  It was rare that she ever left her yard, her safe place, or so we thought.

After a few days of adjusting to caring for just one cat, I went to the backdoor to feed “Squeeze” and she was not there.  Walked around the house looking for her, but as with “Kitten”, she was no where to be found.

I panicked, surely she was not gone, I woke my husband, and we spent the entire day searching,  “Squeeze” was gone.

If you have ever had a pet you know the hurt, the sadness, the emptiness our family was going through.  Two loving, sweet, members of our small family were gone, without a trace.

We still do not know what really happened to them, but the best guess is unthinkable.

We have since discovered that our area is home to many coyotes, and cats seem to be there main target.  Coyotes can grab cats and carry them off, even back to their living areas, to be eaten.  It is so very hard for me to write this, and to think of what my beautiful pets might have gone through the last minutes of their lives.

This is now November, and we are finally moving on, even talk of another kitty for Christmas.

We miss them and their unconditional love, every single day.

I can hear my husband many evenings before coming up to bed, when he is securing our house for the night, locking the doors, turning on the front and back porch lights, still giving a call or two to each one of them.

Sure wish this was the beginning of October again!

Blessings and love to all of you!

 

 

 

 

Spending Time with Ana!

The leaves are falling in my part of the world like crazy, so before the snow falls, I want to share a special time I had at the end of summer with my niece Ana.

Ana with water dropsI have written before on the joys over the years of spending special time with all my nieces.  Since God blessed me with only one son, my nieces were gifts that allowed me the fun of shopping, buying dolls, dresses for special events, crafts, all the things you just don’t do with boys!

During our few days together we shopped, for clothes, some extra school supplies, including a silver glitter notebook, and some neon colored pencils.  Ana loves “bling”.

I let her pick out her favorite treats, cereal, donuts, Sun Chips, nothing healthy of course, I did say treats.  This is something my Grandma would do when I would visit her as a little girl. Such a sweet memory for me even to this day.

We played “Crazy Eights” until I thought I was going crazy, decorated a large wooden “A”, painting it glow in the dark hot pink with black glitter dots, and put together an outdoor place for Ana.

Our days were perfect, warm and sunny, so we set up our “swimming pool” in the backyard.

Ana with beachballCartwheelsWe came up with a game where I gave her actions to complete around and over the flowing water, so many cartwheels, jumping jacks, and such.

The morning we decided to build Ana a special outdoor place, we first needed to shop for fabric. Ana picked a black and white zebra like print.

Once we were home, we found a rope in our garage, attached it to two branches on the large maple tree in our backyard, and using some bricks we secured the fabric across the rope.

Ana's Crazy EightsWe added a quilt and lots of pillows, and finished up with a chalkboard paper banner, “Ana’s Place”, which added the final touch.  Perfect!

Just Ana

Our finished placeWe did laugh together and enjoyed our creation all day. I felt like a kid again.

Although Ana also loved time spent on my tablet, playing games, and working with my touch screen computer, watching movies, listening to music, I thank her for spending time with me doing creative things and spending silly time with her aunt.

As this second part of my life is playing out, and Ana is growing up, I thank her so much for being with me for a few days this past summer.

Life has a way of keeping us from our love ones, jobs, relationships, just life and living it our way, good or bad.

I so regret the years that passed and I did not keep in touch with Marissa, Amanda, Dawn, Amber, Carrie, and now Ana.  Those years are gone.

Please make time to connect and be with your family as much as you can, even if it is just a call, or text.   “I love You’s” mean so much, especially the unexpected ones!

Blessings and love to all!

 

Sunshiny, lemony…..it’s the color Yellow!

Simple lemonade recipe

Most of my life I have loved the color yellow!

In the past, I have had a yellow front door, and when country decorating was so popular, I had a yellow and white checked, wallpapered kitchen.

Even with changing styles, I have not let go of it!

A pop of yellow!I now have settled for using yellow in my living room and dining area.  The white sofa with the yellow drapes works happily, for me, especially with the floral print on my dining chairs and matching toss pillows.

I think I have mentioned and shown you in the past that I absolutely love toss pillows.  Pillows are an inexpensive way to change and update any room.

Bright yellow pillowsI like to bring other simple yellow things into the room when I can find them.

Found this distressed yellow clock at Hobby Lobby when all clocks were 50% off!

Our home is small and our budget, even smaller! I really cannot do a bunch of decorating and updating in every room, but oh how I have learned to embrace what I have in my home, even the messes.  There is beauty in taking care of what you have, and of course, in appreciating what you have!  It took me a long time to realize that!

Yellow flowering plantDuring my growing process, I know that everything doesn’t have to be perfect in life, or in our homes. Much work to be done on the rest of this life of mine, but today I took a big step by sharing with everyone a bit of my home, feeling proud of it….it is beautiful to us!

Today was a perfect summer day, hot and humid, so I made a pitcher of lemonade, photo above. Tall glasses, filled with ice, and garnished with “yellow” lemons. So refreshing, and a treat for us when taking a break from our yard work.  I have included my favorite lemonade recipe at the end of this post. Invest in a wonderful glass pitcher!

Yellow will always be somewhere in my home, it’s brightness, joyfulness, like bringing sunshine into our lives!

Love you all so much, enjoy some lemonade today!

 

Simple lemonade recipe:

Ingredients:

Bag of lemons squeezed to 1-1/2 cups of lemon juice

1-3/4 cups of sugar

8 cups of water

Directions:

In a small saucepan, combine sugar and one cup of water.  Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve.  Allow to cool to room temperature and then refrigerate to chill.

Remove seeds from the lemon juice, but leave the pulp.  In pitcher stir together chilled sugar syrup, lemon juice, and remaining 7 cups of water.

Enjoy!

Celebrating the 5th!

4th of July tableWe were invited to my sweet niece’s new home for the 4th.  Just being with my sister and her family is always a reason to celebrate for me.  They are all so dear and such an important part of my life!

On Sunday, July 5th, I decided to bring out my red, white, and blue for a small celebration with “my family”.  Of course, we had another reason to celebrate, looking forward to watching our USA women’s soccer team playing in the final game later that evening.

I set a small table on our back porch with a few special colorful, holiday items.

The utensil bags were easy to put together using a cut off small brown bag and adding a band of star paper and a glitter star.

I love the red and white dotted ice cream cups which were perfect for our dessert, Greater’s chocolate chip ice cream. Greater’s is a famous ice cream shop in our Cincinnati area, and now famous across the country.

IMG_0570[1]

Greater’s is also a candy maker and uses the broken chocolate pieces for the “chips” in their ice cream selections.  Some of the “chips” are small candy bars!

If any of you ever visit the Cincinnati area, stop for some ice cream at Greater’s.  They not only offer chocolate chip, but also chocolate-chocolate chip, mint chocolate chip, and the cherry cordial chip is one of the most popular.

I brought out the beverage tub I recycled last year at this time, and tried a Martha Stewart idea, filling balloons with water and freezing, using to surround the drinks.

IMG_0550[1]It worked great.  They froze hard and did not break!  I like the idea that you can choose any color of balloons for the occasion.

Our day was fun, peaceful, and most of all, “my family”…… me, my husband, and our son, were together for another 4th and 5th of July!

The day ended with our USA women’s soccer team winning!  What joy!

Love and joy to all!

Happy summer!

 

 

 

 

“Our Red Wagon”

Many times I have talked about the large amount of magazines I have accumulated over the years.  Some are very old and it is hard for me to trash without going through each one to clip out articles of interest, recipes, DIY projects, etc.

Found this photo when searching through one on garden ideas.

The Red WagonInstead of focusing on the lovely variety of flowers, my mind immediately went to the red wagon and a memory from my past.

I was in high school when my parents divorced after years of hell, both for my mother and for me, my older sister, and younger brother.

The divorce left us without a home, which my father had lost to foreclosure, due to his spending and wasting money on alcohol and having a good time with others.  It also left us without any means of transportation.  This might seem like a small thing, but not having a car was a really big deal to teenagers, we had to rely on others for rides everywhere!

Even the smallest task of bringing food into our new apartment was a big deal.  In steps the red wagon, if we wanted to eat we had to walk blocks to our local grocery store pulling the red wagon behind us.

Mom made sure we all went along on these grocery trips.  As teenagers we felt somewhat humiliated pulling a child’s wagon filled with bags of food back to our new “home”.  Especially humiliating for me, the prissy child, caring to a fault what others thought of us.  I remember just praying that no one I knew saw us, saw our family parade with the red wagon.

We were poor, and after the divorce, I hoped things would get better for our family. The arguments were gone, horrible ones between my mother and father, but the hurt and sadness, especially for my mother, lingered for some time. Mom did her best to make this apartment a home, and eventually we settled into our new lives.

My sister saved us when she landed her first job and was able to buy a new car.

God never gives us anything we cannot handle, including pulling a red wagon.

Love to all of you today, with a special hug to my sister for that big black new car she brought home over 50 years ago.

Blessings.

 

 

Simple Banana Pudding!

Whenever my mom’s family got together as I was growing up, there was always a banana pudding on the dessert table.

Thinking of those days, as I often do, I decided I would make one for my family on this holiday weekend, no company, just the three of us!

Instead of a bowl, I used small glasses.  Mason jars would also work and be kinda festive!

I used the mini vanilla wafers, which better fit my small glasses.  Some folks use banana pudding instead of vanilla, or even half vanilla and half banana.

There are many variations of banana pudding out there, but for those who have never made one, this is the really simple recipe that I use.

Ingredients:

2 packages of instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz size)

4 cups of milk

4 small bananas, sliced

1 box Mini vanilla wafers

Cool Whip for the top! (thawed)

Instructions:

Mix the pudding with the milk as instructed on the pudding package.  Refrigerate for an hour or so.  When ready, start layering the wafers, sliced bananas, and then the pudding.  Repeat layers until you get to the top, leaving a little room for the Cool Whip before serving,

Refrigerate any extras.

That’s it!

Hope you all make a yummy treat this holiday weekend!

Let all of us remember our troops and all those who have lost their lives protecting and serving this country we love so much.

Blessings and love!

 

 

 

 

My Cha Cha!

Found this cute pillow on one of my trips to Hobby Lobby.  It was very inexpensive at 50% off, so for $6.99 I could not resist.

IMG_0453[1]The pillow is so bright, and the word stenciled on the front made me realize that lately I have been forgetting to laugh, and to smile, and to be grateful, and so many others emotions.

For a week or two I have had such a dark cloud just hanging over this life of mine.

When I was a child, I remember my mom on the phone with one of her sisters responding, I am assuming to the question, “how are you”, saying “I just have “the blues” today”.

Maybe that is how to best describe my unhappy time…I just had “the blues”.

I overwhelmingly felt alone, unloved, and a terrible sadness in my heart with worry for my son and where he is in his life.

These feelings that took me to this dark place made me see that I needed more work on my faith and trust in God.

The fact is, I am loved, first and always by my Lord, and also by my family, all of them.

I may feel lonely, but I am never really alone, all I need to do is to whisper His name.

Finally, my son, he is grown now and I can no longer control his life.  Life has thrown all of us bad situations and he must live through his.  God is with him and I know in my heart has a plan for this decent, good, kind, and generous person.

As I have mentioned before, when I started on this journey of loving my life, I knew I would have setbacks.  I am just human and I will not beat myself up, just pick myself up!

Optimist:  Someone who figures that taking a step backward after taking a step forward is not a disaster, it’s a cha cha.   –   Robert Brault

So for now “the blues” are gone, and my $6.99 pillow on the back porch is a reminder of the two dark weeks of my life with no laughter, no joy, and the lack of trust in my Lord.

Please don’t forget to “laugh” today, to love today, and always remember you are never alone.

Blessings, and joyful thoughts to all of you!

 

 

Mom and Me!

When cleaning out one of my many closets that need attention, I ran across this photo of me and my dear, loving mom.

Me with DollI love this photo for so many reasons.

It was taken on my grandma’s porch, and I also know that the doll belonged to her.  She would keep the doll on a bed in one of her bedrooms.  The doll’s name was Nancy.

Wish I could ask the person who took the photo if they meant to include my mom, since she appears so far off to the side. I am so happy, one way or another, that they did, she looks so beautiful, and she is smiling, probably trying to get me to look at the camera.  Love her flowered dress, the type I remember her wearing so often, such a sweet print, wish I could remember the color.

Love the old mail box by the door, the flower pots and plants, watered and cared for by my grandma, I’m sure.  Do you all remember those metal porch chairs?

Oh my gosh, I love my little shoes, tied with perfect bows by my mom, and the little sundress I am wearing.

And on this Mother’s Day I wish I could be that little girl for just 5 minutes to tell my momma, “love you”, and to hold and hug her as tight as I could.

Thank God for all the photos I have, and love so much, of all those I love who are with me and those in heaven.

Blessings and love on this Mother’s Day.

So sweet, so easy!

Today I would like to share a really sweet, and oh so easy Mother’s Day gift idea.

Photo charms for bracelets or necklaces.

PHOTO CHARMSI made these for myself!  A photo of me and my husband smooching on our wedding day, over 45 years ago, and my dear son when he was so small.  Our favorite photo ever of him.

This one is of my dear mother, now in heaven.  Miss her so very much.  It was a photo taken on her last birthday.  She is blowing out the candles on her birthday cake!

Mom with charmsThere are so many charms that can also be added for a bit of extra sweetness.

Kid’s artwork, a meaningful quote or saying reduced to size, would also work great.

The next photo is one of a piece of old lace placed in a locket.  The lace was on my First Communion veil when I was a child.  My mom made the veil and at the time I was sad that I did not have a really fancy store bought one like so many of the other little girls.

I wanted to frame the lace to remind myself of how horrible I was not to realize I had the best veil, one made with my mother’s love in every tiny stitch.

LACEAll you need to make any of these is one quick trip to Michael’s.

They have a nice selection of charms and lockets that are so inexpensive. There are many bracelets and chains to choose from as well.

Charm AssortmentJust select your photos, reduce on your computer, and print.

Trace the photos to the size of your locket or charm and assemble.

That is it!

Help your kids make some for mom or grandma, they will love these as if they were made of real gold or silver.  Place them in a box with a ribbon and a handmade card or drawing.

Hope you all are working on your special mom’s gift for Sunday.

Happy Friday!

XO

 

 

Welcome May!

Welcome MayMay is one of my favorite months.  The weather is nearly perfect!

So many simple joyful things to do,

  • May 5th was “Cinco de Mayo”, I had lunch with a friend at a small Mexican restaurant in my neighborhood.  We ate outside. So much fun!  I made corn salsa to go along with the chicken quesadillas I made for my family for dinner.  Yummy!
  • “Mother’s Day” this year is May, 10th. We cannot forget our mothers, or those mothers in our lives who have difficult jobs raising children alone.  Celebrate all those mothers who have given you love and understanding. Moms love homemade gifts, help your kids make special gifts for grandma!
  • Go to garage sales, the weather is perfect and you might find a special item to recycle.
  • Visit your local nursery, the flowers are amazing.  An awesome place for photos.
  • Go to the park often, pack a lunch, or just take a book and enjoy!
  • Plan a trip to the zoo.  It is really a better trip when the weather is not so hot.  I still remember trips to the zoo when I was a child.  It was on one of these trips that I experienced my first “Oreo” cookie.  We would pack lunch and my aunt brought a bag.
  • Open your windows!  Let May inside!
  • Rearrange your furniture so your desk or favorite chair is by a window, one you can open!
  • Make a cup of coffee and go outside early in the morning, when everything is quiet.
  • Take a morning walk, not the fast paced exercise kind, but a slow enjoyable one.
  • Get out your sandals, or maybe go buy a new pair.
  • Dust off your grill, make potato salad, hot dogs, and burgers.
  • Plan for a “Memorial Day” gathering.
  • Clean off your outside furniture, get your porch or your peaceful spot outside ready for this wonderful weather month.
  • Treat yourself to a yummy shake or malt.  If you have a “Steak and Shake” near your home, shakes are 1/2 price from 2 to 5, they call it “Happy Hour”.

Just get outside when you can, play, be happy, laugh, be grateful!

I love this photo of my niece playing with her dog “Denali”, blowing bubbles for him to catch.

None of us are too old to “play”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Enjoy the “happies” in life!

Enjoy the month of May!

XO