Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Carving the Turnip

I have been dabbling with geneology a bit.  Mostly I use because I can let other people do most of the work and then I swoop in and tap into their information.  That's not lazy; it is just smart.  With all this swooping I have definitely confirmed that I have plenty of Irish roots.  I like that, but I don't really know why.  I don't really know all that much about Ireland but I really do like Irish accents.  Of course, who doesn't?

Last night I was online looking up things about Halloween.  I'm not much of a Halloween enthusiast although I certainly did enjoy it as a child.  That was BACK IN THE DAY when people gave kids full-size candy bars!  It was always fun to me.  I think I was always a gypsy for Halloween.  It was easy, just borrow clothes and jewelry from my mom.  Since we moved a lot, the gypsy persona kind of fit for me.

I know;  I'm rambling.  I was going to tell you what I learned about Halloween.  I learned that the tradition of trick-or-treating was thought to have come over with the Irish.  They had a tradition of going door to door collecting yummy things for a community harvest feast or something.  If someone didn't cooperate, they played mean tricks on them.  That doesn't sound very nice but that's not the part that made me smile.

The site I was reading (I've forgotten where it was or I'd tell you) said that the Irish used to carve out turnips and set lit candles inside of them.  I guess it made the feast more festive or something.  

(photo from )

When the Irish came to America they found the pumpkins here to be more fun to carve than turnips.

  This story may or may not be true. 

 Now you know. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Up-Scaling a Plain Orange Vest = Heroism

It's like I told you, up-scaling really is a form of heroism.  Think about it.  We go out on a search and rescue mission, looking for pieces that deserve a second chance.  We take them home, in essence, saving them.  Recently, one such piece caught my eye, a plain rusty orange corduroy vest.  I took it home and loved it up.

I found vintage lace and fashioned it into an accent bow.  I enhanced the bow by centering a coppery button on it.  Do you like it?

 I took off the dull, ordinary buttons and replaced them all with the fun, coppery ones.  I think they give rather a western look to it all.

I like the snappy, fresh look now.

But wait!

There's more!

The real party is happening on the back side!  We also have been doing a search and rescue for vintage, maybe even antique doilies.  Among our findings was a large one in great condition.

It fit perfectly AND it had a pretty coordinating peachy edging on it!  I was so excited when I paired them together!  It was as though I were a talented match-maker!  Here, just take a look...

This vest is a size large and it is for sale now at Wyoming Rose Boutique!

Have a great day and remember to live creatively!

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Story Behind the Photo

So, what do you think of the new look?  I'm liking the water.  I really, really love water so I think we'll go with that for awhile.  I hope you like it, too.  At the top, you'll find where to share my posts on Google+ if you have one of their accounts.  Under the more "more" you will find easy ways to share my posts on Facebook, e-mails, etc.  If you are new to my blog and want to check out some of my older posts, explore the Blog Archives by clicking for the drop down menu.  Or, if you scroll down and look to that right sidebar you'll see some of the recent popular posts.  I hope you'll take the time to look around a bit, leave comments or even suggestions.  The interaction makes me happy so, thanks!

Also on the right sidebar you will find a few samples of the work Maria and I do for our shop, Wyoming Rose Boutique.  If you'd like to learn more about our shop, just click on any of those pictures and you'll be able to explore it more.  If you find something you like, I want to let you know that we have a discount code for blog-reading friends.  When you are checking out, type in the word, FRIENDS, in all caps.  It should make the shipping charges disappear!


Last night our daughter, Maria, and her husband, Eric, came by for supper. They bring the entertainment, our granddaughters Cordelia and Elise. I never take for granted how blessed we are to have them living nearby!

Last night, near the end of our evening together, I remembered that I write a daily blog (duh) and that I should take some photos.  Maria was out of the room feeding Elise, so I turned my attention to Cordelia.  She was having fun with Grandpa, drawing on the toy shown in this photograph.  I think Cordy became bored with it before Grandpa Mike did.

I took this photo of Cordelia.  She was just lively and silly so I snapped the picture.  It wasn't until I uploaded it to my computer that I noticed the story going on in the background.  Apparently, Grandpa Mike was pretty proud of something he drew, making sure Eric admired his work. 

Cordelia then started playing with a doll house she received from her Great Aunt Karen.  Camera still in hand, I started clicking.  Again, when I uploaded it later I was tickled.  Can you see that it is Buzz Lightyear she is putting to bed in the upstairs room?

Cordelia was getting tired.  It was apparent she had missed her nap.  She didn't want to stop playing, though!

But even perfect evenings have to come to an end.

Did you have a good week-end?  I really enjoy reading comments on my blog so let me know if you did something exciting.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Through the Generations

My Sister, Tina

My Mother With My Daughter and Granddaughters

My Mother With Great-Granddaughters

 My Cousin, Ann Marie and my Aunt Michelle with Elise

My 2nd cousin, Megan with Cordelia and My Nephew, Steven

Generations Connecting...

Psalm 33:11

But the plans of the LORD stand firm

forever, the purposes of his heart through

all generations.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Reality TV and Blogging

I really don't like most reality TV shows.  I know they aren't all bad.  I like some, such as home decorating ones.  Many of the reality television shows, however, leave me feeling very disturbed.  Do any of you feel that way?  So many of them feature people who are willing to proudly show their worst side.  I won't name any of those shows but I will say the courtroom shows may be my least favorite.  No, wait, the ones revealing the surprise paternity results...yes, I hate those!  Either kind usually end with people screaming at each other.  I hate yelling.

So, what does that have to do with blogging? Well, imagine my surprise the day I realized I was just like those people who are featured on reality television.  Well, maybe not just like them, but we definitely have two things in common:
  1. I am sometimes prerecorded.  Yep.  It's true.  I want to post a blog everyday and for the most part, I do write one post a day.  Occasionally, though, I write some posts ahead of time.  If we go on vacation, I sometimes write several posts so that I'm not worrying about it while travelling.  Often, I write a post the evening before.  This post is an example of that.  I am typing it out on Friday night after an exhausting day at work.  Do you see my feet up?  I hadn't even taken off my work shoes.  I knew I had plans for Saturday morning, so I chose to write this post ahead.  I learned how to delay the publishing time so it is quite easy to set it up to publish while I am at work, snoozing on my pillow or just having coffee with my husband.
  2. Also, like those on the reality shows, I tell things about myself but in a rather one-sided way.  The people on those shows are generally sharing their worst side.  I expect they accentuate the negative to make things more exciting.  Well, I pretty much tell the positive side of my life here.  I really do have a lovely life, but it is not all perfect.   Like a lot of people, there is a skeleton or two in my closet as well.  Like everyone, I have cranky moments.  Sometimes I talk too much.  Sometimes I can't think of anything interesting to say.  Often I feel uncertain.   

So, here's why I wanted to talk about this.  Someone was recently talking to me about an article in a local magazine, featuring a local family.  After reading the article she commented about how some families are just so perfect.  I noted that I was certain they weren't perfect but that of course they would only show their good side for the magazine.  I pondered how that nice family article seemed to make this person feel kind of bad.

I realized that I do exactly that, show my good side.  I don't plan to change that, actually.  I learned to blog from my daughter, Maria.  Her blog, Little Things are Big, is her way of focusing on all that is good around her.  I like that!  With all the struggles and challenges that we all face, I think it is refreshing to have a place to look for some good stuff.  I don't always stick with that plan but I usually do.  

I hope that I never make someone feel bad about themselves.  Know that I am not a great cook, I have been known to grump at our dog, I almost always find more interesting things to do than clean our home, I can be lazy and my life is not perfect.  It's just my life.  I don't always hit all the right notes.  Like you, I'm just doing the best I can.  That's my reality.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Truth About Snow

"There's one good thing about snow, it makes
your lawn look as nice as your neighbor's."
Clyde Moore

Thursday, October 25, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes

This photo was taken in our backyard Tuesday afternoon...

And these photos were Wednesday...

I was happy about the snow, actually.  My arms were about to fall off from all the leaf-raking!

What kind of weather are you having?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

It's a Girl! Documentary Film

I have something important I must share.  The film, It's a Girl!, is so powerful.

You need to try to see it.  Please take the time to click on the website link and watch the trailer.  If you can find the movie in your area, attend a screening.  Or, the website tells you how you can host the film yourself.

It’s a Girl! Documentary Film – Official Website

This documentary shows how widespread the killing of baby girls has become, focusing mostly on India and China.

This woman killed 8 daughters.

In one scene, women in India were standing around talking with the interviewer, telling him the different ways they had killed their baby girls.  They did not seem remorseful and it was explained that they felt they'd been merciful as they knew their daughters would live miserable lives.

One of the highlighted problems was the dowry system.  Parents of girls, at the time of their marriage, must give money and possessions to the family of the groom.  Additionally, that family also gets their daughter.  Everyone wants a daughter-in-law as she will be there to care for them in their old age.  A daughter, however, just costs them money to raise and then they lose them, as well as the valuable dowry.  Also, if a bride has a baby girl, she is often pressured to kill it.  She herself may be killed for having girls.  What a messed up system!

Couples in China tell of forced abortions and forced sterilizations.  China now has something like 35,000 more men than women.  It would seem that women would then become more valued.  Well, sort of, but not in a good way.  Brothels are huge businesses.  Little girls are being stolen by families with sons, raised to be brides.  What a mess!

They are asking for our help, mainly to speak up.  If you have any social media power (Facebook, a blog, etc.) please consider using it to let others know how common these horrible practices have become.  Look around the website to learn of other ways to help.

Thanks for reading this. I know it wasn't my usual kind of post.  When asked to blog about it, though, I knew it was a story needing told from everyone with a voice.

Crock Pot Cake!! No, I'm Not Kidding!!!

I'm telling you, I am going to be your best friend now.  You will love, love, love me forever for what I am about to tell you.  I'm going to give you the secret to happiness.  Well, maybe that is a little overstated but I've got something sweet to tell you...something VERY sweet!

Before I start, and to help you understand just how important this is to me, let me tell you about my cake-baking history.  It's not pretty.  First, when Maria was turning 4, she was having a birthday party.  My mother-in-law was there to help (we were living in the Seattle area) and I was very pregnant with Ben.  I'm thinking I was a bit hormonal because everything about that day still kind of makes me feel discouraged.  However, the part about the cake...  I had baked a cake for the party and when I was turning it out of the pan, it broke into 5 parts.  That's right.  I managed to break it into that big of a mess.  I believe I started to weep.  Mike's Mom handed me some money and told me to go buy a cake, which I did.

Now, fast forward to Ben's 4th birthday.  We had just moved to Harlowton, MT a few weeks before his birthday.  He didn't really know enough kids to invite for a party so we invited the one little friend he had, a little cowboy named, J.C.  We also had J.C.'s whole family over as well.  When it came time for the cake Ben took a big breath and blew out his candles.  When I asked him to tell me his wish he again took a big breath and as he exhaled he muttered, "Iiiiiii Wiiiish for a better birthday cake."  Wait, what?!  Well, that gives you just a little background into my great cake-baking abilities.  Don't even ask me about frosting cakes.  Let's just say that no bakery has called me to come work for them.

So, last Saturday we were invited to a little get-together with friends.  I was to bring appetizers and a dessert.  That didn't sound scary until the hostess said something about the dessert being cake as we were celebrating some birthdays as well as the recent wedding of one couple.  OK, I guess dessert was expected to be cake.  Yikes!  Luckily, last week our local paper came out with some new crock pot recipes and one was for a cake!

I know what you are thinking, a slow cooker is not appropriate for cake-baking.  Well, in my desperation, I gave it a try.  I'm telling you, it was soooooo goooooooood, just writing about it makes my mouth all watery.  So, I'm going to share this magnificent find with you now.  Although I tweaked the recipe a bit (as always), the original one comes from "Best of Country Slow Cooker Recipes" by Reiman Publications.  I just want to be sure to give credit where credit is due.  Also, I'd like to mention that there are no eggs in this recipe so lick the bowl when you are done, with no worries about salmonella.  The chocolate chips, butter, milk and ice cream could all be switched out for vegan versions of the same.

Hot Fudge Cake

Use the recipe as written for a 3 quart crockpot.  I also have one of those larger, oval ones so I doubled everything and it worked great.  First, the ingredients (for the smaller version)...

1 3/4 cups packed brown sugar, divided                  2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup all-purpose flour                                           1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons baking cocoa, divided                        1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2 teaspoons baking powder                                     1 3/4 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt                                                    Vanilla ice cream for topping
1/2 cup milk                                                           Cinnamon (my addition)

In a bowl, combine 1 cup of the brown sugar, flour, 3 tablespoons cocoa, baking powder and salt.  I dumped in a lot of cinnamon as well, because I bought too much cinnamon and need to use it up, because it is good for you (as if that was my top concern here) and because I always change recipes in some way.

Use another bowl to combine the milk, butter and vanilla.  Mix stuff up together in their own bowls then mix the contents of the two bowls together just until combined.  Spread that mixture around the bottom of a 3-quart slow cooker (crock pot) that you've already sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray.  It looks like a weird thing to put in a crock pot but you're going to have to use some faith here.  It gets more strange yet.  Dump all the chocolate chips on top of the batter, spread around of course.

If you have left-over chocolate chips, eat them while you are working or just dump them on in.  The more the better as they become the hot fudge.

Grab one of those bowls you've already used.  Rinse it out if you feel you must but it doesn't matter.  Combine the remaining brown sugar and cocoa.  If you, too, have purchased two large containers of cinnamon, add more of it here.

Stir in the boiling water.

Now, pour that whole bowl of brown soup right on top of the chocolate chips.  It won't look right but don't panic.

Just put the lid on, set it on high and come back in about 4 hours.  In my case I had it on high for 3 hours then turned it to the lowest setting for a few more hours.  When I went to the party I plugged it in there and left it on low for another hour or more.  It worked out just fine.  I even bet it would work if you did 8-9 hours on only the low setting.  It won't matter if it is a bit crunchy around the edges or a bit gooey in the middle.  Serve it scooped into bowls.  It will taste perfect when topped with the ice cream.  The hard part is not eating so much of it that you make yourself sick!

So, go try this recipe.  Impress your friends!  Impress your family, and then tell me who your bff is now!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Day Full of Joy

Last evening was so beautifully golden!  We had great family fun, playing in the leaves.  I think one of the best things about having little children around is that any of us can again choose to abandon grown-up inhibitions and just play again.  Mike is better at that than most adults.  Sometimes, watching him with our granddaughters, I just think my heart will burst with the joy of it.

Earlier yesterday I met up with a group of friends.  We all once worked together caring for oncology patients.  Most of us still live in the same town and see each other from time to time.  One friend, Pam, moved to North Dakota several years ago.  She was back in town and we were all so excited to get a chance to visit with her.  Our time together was short, but good!

I could tell you some great stories about each of these women but I will just say, I have been blessed with some remarkable friends over the years.

Did you all have a nice week-end?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fresh Mercies Each Morning

I took this photo off our back deck yesterday morning.  My camera and I did not quite capture the full beauty. When I turned and looked out the window, the colors were so magnificent I actually gasped.  A few minutes later it was already dulled, but still pretty.  It made me wonder about all the little moments of beauty that I miss because I forget to stop and look.

Lamentations 3:23

Great is his faithfulness; 
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

May your day be filled with moments of unexpected beauty.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Why I Have a Crush on My Pastor

October is Pastor Appreciation Month! Have I mentioned that I have a crush on my pastor?  I think that is acceptable, given that he is also my husband.  Recently I told you a bit about the day Mike shocked me with the news that he was being called into the ministry.  Today I want to tell you how it is now, more than 31 years after that day.

Last Sunday Mike received a basket full of cards from people at our church.  They were tender and expressed such kind words; I had tears in my eyes as I read them.  I loved that many were made by children in Sunday School classes.

Do you see that bottom right card?  I loved that one.  It is so true!  Let me break it down for you.

Encourager - Mike is most definitely that to his flock.  He wants to help everyone feel confident and he encourages them to build on their strengths.  For example, people within the congregation often take turns giving the children's sermon.  Although it is for the children, it occurs right up front in the middle of the service with everyone watching and listening.  It is kind of scary if you aren't used to it.  One lady was nervous but wanted to try it.  He helped her along the way,  encouraging her as she came in to practice during the week.  She did a fine job!

Counselor - This is one aspect that I don't know as much about, but there is a good reason for that.  When Mike graduated from the seminary we had a discussion about confidentiality.  We felt it was very, very important that when people come to Mike for counselling, they could feel certain that their private matters were only for his ears.  Sometimes that has led to some weird moments when people THINK I know everything they have told them, but it is important.  I think there are times that this makes the burden of carrying others' pain a bit more difficult but he is a professional and that is what professionals do.  I can tell you that I've had many people, over the years, tell me that Mike has helped them so much.  Even if I don't know what they are talking about, it makes me proud of him.

Teacher - This part is not hard for Mike at all.  His Mom and one of his sisters were teachers and so I think it is in his blood.  He prepares thoroughly and has an easy, logical flow to his teaching style.  It just comes naturally.  When he teaches kids, he is just down-right fun!  He creatively works up games and other ways to make learning a blast for them.

Preacher - Mike is an introvert so it is really surprisingly weird that he is such a good preacher.  The very first time he was to give a sermon I felt very nervous on his behalf.  That was the last time that happened to me, though.  I never felt nervous for him to preach again.  He has a way of speaking the truth with a delightful mixture of humor, conviction and knowledge.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard people say it felt like he was talking directly to them.  He knows what he wants to say, he is prepared and knowledgeable, concise, and speaks the truth with a calm, easy-going style.  

Leader - I think many of us think of a leader as an exuberant, boisterous personality that has a flare for revving up a group of people.  That isn't Mike... ever.  His style is straight forward and honest.  Often one of the best leadership traits I've seen in him is his ability to calm a group.  He has a simple way of helping people work through issues or follow through on projects with an approach of kindness.  I don't know if any of you have ever noticed this, but sometimes a group of people have a tendency to pull in different directions and maybe even build a bit of resentment toward one another.  Mike is good at cutting through that to help them see how to work together more effectively and lovingly.

Comforter - Mike is truly a talented comforter.  This is not something he had to develop.  He knows when to speak soothing words, when to quietly listen and when to just give a hug.  Over and over and over I hear people telling me how much his visit meant to them when they were the hospital...dealing with a pain...experiencing loss of a loved one... etc.    He does things like go out in the middle of the night to be with someone in the emergency room.  Just this week he spent much of his day off at the hospital to be with a lady facing surgery.  I've seen him drive 6 hours to attend a funeral of someone he didn't even know because one of the family members needed him there.  Sometimes I worry about Mike in this part of his job.  I worry that in taking on the pain of others, the burden will be more than he can withstand.  In this I have to trust the ultimate comforter, the Holy Spirit, to comfort Mike himself.

There was no card from me in the basket.  This post is my card to him.  I want to tell him how I feel blessed beyond the others because I get to not only have him as my pastor but I get to spend my life with him.  I want him to know that I see how he puts so much into his work.  When others tease him that he only works Sunday Mornings, I am well aware that he usually works 50+ hours a week.  Often, after putting in a full day, he spends his evenings counseling, at committee meetings or at home working into the night.  Sometimes that is the only way he can complete lessons and sermons after spending a day of interruptions as he attends to his flock.  He sacrifices so much of himself for others.  I want him to know that I see this.  I want him to know that I also appreciate his dedication to his calling and I am honored to be his helpmate.

The cards were all beautiful.  Many had Bible verses and poems.  Many had sweet and grateful handwritten expressions of appreciation.  Many thanked him for the blessing he has been in their lives.  One thanked him for reflecting Jesus and followed with Matthew 5:16:

"Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father in heaven."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Sunshine & Shadows

Late yesterday afternoon I sat down in the recliner with a bag of yarn and my crochet hook.  The sun was hanging low and pouring in the window, shining in my eyes so that I couldn't even do my work.  I got up to close the drapes and then came to my senses. Instead, I grabbed my camera and went out to better appreciate the last of the day.  It was so lovely out, I decided to just share some of that beauty here with you.  I hope it makes you feel as happy as it did me.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Up-Scaling Makes Me Feel Like a Hero!

There's something new going on at our Wyoming Rose Boutique.  Yes, we're still crocheting and crafting but we've added up-scaling to the mix as well.  Have you done any up-scaling that you'd recommend?

If you don't know what I am talking about, let me break it down to two simple steps.

1)     SHOP!  Maria and I aren't too excited to shop the usual way.  We aren't big on going to department stores to find our treasures.  What is the most fun is to shop thrift stores, keeping our eyes (and minds) open.  We really try to see items through our creative vision glasses.  OK, we don't have special glasses.  But we are developing an eye for potential.  We don't always know what we are searching for until we see it.  Things that catch my attention are classic styles or delicate remnants from the past.  Sometimes it is just a unique color or texture that I want to enhance.

2)     LET YOUR IMAGINATION RUN WILD!  This is the part that takes the most time.  I take one of our treasures back to my Rose Room and start experimenting.  I can't tell you how many different ideas I worked through on this golden purse, for example.  What I ended up doing is cutting out this piece of vintage lace and appliqueing it to the front of the purse.  The lace itself has some history.  My mother-in-law gave me some of her sewing things years ago (more than 30 years) and I still have some of it.  (Carol, do you recognize it?) This lace is one of my favorites as you just can't find any like it now.  Isn't it pretty?  It took this purse to a new level of of awesome.  But, I still felt like it needed something more.  I cut and twirled and tied and imagined for quite awhile before I realized this purse just needed some bling, so I made a bracelet for it.  I was really quite pleased with the result.  I like the mixture of antique and glamour, don't you?  We have it listed on our Wyoming Rose Boutique on Etsy.

I went kind of a different way with this classic red purse.  I wanted to keep it youthful and fun but it needed some personality.  I pawed through a lot of fabric before seeing how this bright apple print wanted to bring out the best of the red purse.  I put a lot of time into the process but the result was a cheerful, unique and spunky looking up-scaled bag.  What do you think of it?

I am pretty proud of this next one.  We found this chocolatey blazer and I knew right away that it was a candidate for up-scaling.  It was in excellent condition, soft and cozy - perfect for chilly days.  It already had some interesting lines.  Some of the vertical seams actually had encased elastic that gathered it up just enough to give it some drama, but it still wasn't really living up to its potential.  I took  it home and loved it up.  It had perfectly nice covered buttons but the brown on brown just went flat.  I replaced all the buttons with cool white ones that celebrated the fun of shape.  No more round boring buttons!  Then, I started experimenting with color.  I settled on a peachy cotton thread that had kind of a special smooth finish to it.  I hand-crocheted a lace that could peek out at the bottom of the sleeves.  I did not want to over do it but I still felt it needed a bit more.  I then used more of the fun thread to crochet a flower.  I centered the flower on a cut-out of more antique lace (thanks again to my mother-in-law) that was already a daisy-like design.  I centered another of the funky buttons for the center and sewed it all together.  When I attached it to the blazer, a star was born!  To see more detailed photos just click here.  

So, there you have it.  Go shopping and see if you get any fun ideas to upscale something.  I know that it made me feel rather heroic, as though I'd rescued something from boredom.  Have fun!

p.s.  Anyone who orders from Wyoming Rose Boutique can enter the secret code at check-out to receive a 10% discount.  The secret code is:  DISCOUNT 

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