Wednesday, July 30, 2008

my garden treasures

I am always on the look-out for garden treasures... which is pretty much anything that makes the outdoors an extension of my indoors. And in Phoenix, anything goes... nothing is off limits. I have seen entire outdoor kitchens in backyards.... along with couches, lamps, even beds. It so rarely rains here that we usually have plenty of time to get our treasures out of the rain before it does rain. And most everything is weather friendly. Or I have paid so little, that who cares if it gets rained on.

Do you see that child-size red wheel barrel? That happens to be one of my favorite finds! We were traveling through Wisconsin many years ago and stopped at a barn sale. Yes, the yard sale was IN the barn. Our kids were little and most likely sleeping, so I quickly ran in the barn and there it was... a Radio Flyer wheel barrel. Very old. For $1.50.
Here's the cool part. A couple weeks later, I was at an antique store in downtown Glendale, AZ and I see the very same Radio Flyer wheel barrel. This time. For $90.00!!

Those red lidded Sweet 'n Low glass jars contain Hollyhock seeds that I harvest every year. Each of the jars are labeled so that I can preserve those rare colored Hollyhocks and then plant them if they don't reseed themselves from the year before.

I don't fish, no one in my family fishes... but I love minnow pails. And watering cans. And pails. And buckets. And... well, anything galvanized.
I found this folding plant stand for a couple dollars. The perfect display for my galvanized collection.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Arizona garden tour

I thought I'd take you on a little tour of my garden. Even though we live in a very arid climate, I am always amazed at what we are able to grow here. Having grown up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, I was pleasantly surprised at how colorful and beautiful it is living here in the Southwest.
Of course I have to decorate my yard with various artifacts brought back from the farm... an old tractor seat atop an old milk can makes me so happy.

Most of my plants have a story. These hibiscus plants were bought the week of Shawn & Nicole's wedding in 2004 for the rehearsal dinner in our backyard. I later transplanted them from huge pots to the ground, where they really took off.

I love when the sprinklers go off in the early morning. Randy had just mowed the lawn and the smell of fresh cut grass takes me back to when I was a little girl growing up on the farm every. single. time.

Love my bird-of-paradise bush in the front yard. We planted it shortly after we moved to this house in 1994.

Our yellow Lantana bush blooms profusely all year round!

And my "very favorite thing" outside is the old pump that my Dad bought me several years ago. Randy installed a small pump so that at the flip of a switch, the water in the pail recirculates through the old pump back into the pail and makes the sweetest sounds all day long. I love the sound of running water. So calming and peaceful.

Friday, July 25, 2008

our favorite things

One of my very favorite bloggers wants to see "our favorite things". So check out Cindy's blog HERE and you will find others that have posted their favorite things too.
But before I tell you about my favorite thing, I want to tell you about Cindy's favorite thing... her 3-tiered dish. Don't you LOVE it! Her parents bought it many years ago from... are you ready for this.... Disneyland!! They recently gave it to her and she was thrilled because it has always been her favorite thing from her parents home. I absolutely adore it Cindy!

One of my favorite things is my gingham apron collection! As many of you already know, I bought each of these at my little thrift store over a four month period, one at a time. They are glorious works of art! I was stunned each time I would find another one in another color.
And I never paid more than a dollar for each one. Be sure to clic the pic to see the detail in the various "hen scratch" stitching. Pure perfection! Read more about my apron collection from an earlier post HERE and you will also meet another one of my favorite things... Mrs. McGillicutty. She's not a person, well she sorta is... decide for yourself by also reading about her HERE.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Emolyn @ 5 months

I love to sing to my granddaughter Emolyn because she sings along with me. It's the cutest thing ever! See how she's 'ooh'ing a pretty song.
She is 9 lbs. and 5 months old today and practically perfect in every way. She is simply adorable.

Emolyn's Mommy found out that she actually broke her foot in two places last Friday. She will be in a walking boot for 6 weeks. Here is what a dedicated wife, mommy and nurse Nicole is. She actually worked 8 hours of a 12 hour shift on Saturday before they made her go for an X-ray and found out she had indeed broken her foot the day before.
Read more about it HERE.

I've got to tell you about Emolyn's Daddy, my son Shawn. He cares for his daughter while Nicole works those 12 hour shifts every weekend. He is amazing! He knows Emolyn's every cry... when she is hungry or tired or whatever the need may be. They have such a sweet bond already. He is truly Emolyn's favorite toy. Check out his Dadman post HERE. It's hysterical!
But it also says everything about who Nicole is... that she trusts Shawn implicitly. She knows that Emolyn will benefit by having both her parents involved in meeting her physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Randy & I are so deeply proud of how united they are in parenting and nurturing their sweet daughter.

Look at those eyes. Oh how she melts me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

on pins & needles

I recently found these vintage pin cushions for a quarter each. I love the look of these. In fact, I grew up using one very similar to these. But totally impractical. How many of you would PAINStakingly search for lost needles and invariably find one the hard way? Ya, me too. Whoever thought these would make handy pin cushions didn't store their needles in them. SO I will not be sticking my needles in these either... just my fancy sewing pins.

And speaking of needles, have you discovered the The Needle Nest yet? Talk about handy! The perfect container in which to store your favorite needles. Thanks Ginny! I immediately went to Michael's and bought one.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I love blueberry pies!

Today I made a blueberry pie. My favorite way to enjoy blueberries. As I said in a post this morning, I love raspberries. But they should only be eaten alone. I mean with nothing else. One berry at a time. They are so deliciously perfect that why would you add anything to them. But that's just me.
Anyway, I like to bake, especially pies. My Mom made at least two pies every single week of my growing up years. She still does. And we had desserts at every single meal. I don't. So making a good pie crust was something I was determined to master. Now my Mom always made pie crusts using lard. And she makes THE BEST PIE CRUST! I don't use lard, but I think my crusts are pretty darn good, considering I don't use lard.

I found these little pie crust shields several years ago at a dollar store. They keep your crust from burning before it's done. The four aluminum shields complete a 9 inch pie plate. Much better than trying to cover the edges with foil. Oh and I found my Pampered Chef stone pie plate for a dollar at a thrift store. They make a real good pie turn out even better! I am so serious. There is nothing like baking on stone.

So I thought I'd set my camera on a timer and get in on some pie action. Well, Koda beat me to it, so I quickly try to squeeze in-between Tyler and Randy and... as quick as a wink, Koda gives me a kiss for the camera.
We love our Koda Pop! And Koda loves my pie crust.

I have been praising God all afternoon while baking! Go on over to my daughter-in-law Nicole's blog and read all about Emolyn's near serious mishap HERE. Thank the Lord that Emolyn is OK and hopefully Nicole's foot will heal quickly. Shopping carts scare me to death! Reading Angie and Kristen's comments from Nicole's post made me cry, just thinking how blessed we are that they are all OK!
So, be careful out there using those shopping carts! You never know when you might hit a bad patch of road and the cart tips over. Thankfully Emolyn was still buckled in her car seat! Nicole, you're the best Mommy!
Oh, did you catch my post from this morning? Read on...

I love raspberries!

Raspberries. Pure perfection. My favorite berry.
Is there anything more beautiful?! Is there anything tastier?! I think not.

Remember the pic below. This was taken at a roadside fruit 'n veggie stand in WI last October. My very favorite color combination... raspberry red & aqua blue. Hey, check out the resident fly who flew in for the photo op!

Hey everyone, go check out my dear friend Nancy's blog here. She has an awesome book give-away going on AND take the time to scroll down to check out her 50th birthday surprise weekend pics in Sedona! Happy Birthday Nancy!

Monday, July 14, 2008

let the monsoon season begin!

Man oh man, did we have a gully-washer of a storm yesterday!! We have never witnessed such flooding in all my years in the Valley! Our street was a raging river! Ok, so maybe not the raging part... but a river none the less. Here in Tempe, they say we got 2.4 inches, but our rain gauge says we got lots more. All I know is that I was thrilled to be barefoot in rain up to my knees, with my camera under my red umbrella, snapping over 75 pics! I kept running back 'n forth from front yard to back yard screaming with joy, while Randy was anxiously watching the rain rising fast and furious.

After the storm died down, we went over to our park, three doors down to hear dozens of frogs croaking like crazy! Here in the Valley, most every housing development has a sunken park that becomes a "lake" when it rains. All the neighbors gather after the storms with their kids and dogs and frolic in the "lake"! So, we joined in on the fun too, grabbing one of the frogs to show the neighborhood kids before it jumped back in the water. How fun to feel like a kid again! Clic the pic to see this little cutie smiling for the camera.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Memories of Wisconsin (Part 2)

- my kids watching the vet surgically repair a cow's twisted stomach (with 4 stomachs, I can see how that could happen)
- trips along the Mississippi River with my brother Gary... ice cream in Nelsen, cheese factories, the locks, the barges
- Rock in the House near Alma (check it out here)
- cheese curds (or squeaky cheese)
- catching lightning bugs (or fireflies)
- humidity... only because I like what it does to my hair and skin
- my kids watching a vet artificially inseminate a cow and then having to tell them the facts of life because of all their questions
- baling hay and picking corn
- over 50 kittens on the farm at any given trip
- the Pound Puppy sheets on the bunk beds in my Mom's basement (a favorite memory of my kids)
- the kids riding their bikes in the rain
- lots of WEATHER... thunder, lightning, rain, tornados, flooding
- my Mom's amazing garden... rhubarb, strawberries, beans, sweet corn, etc
- the Root Beer stand in Whitehall
- the kids watching a calf being born
- visiting Noel's final resting place (he's forever missed)
- Door County trips
- Shawn contracting Lymes disease at 9 years old (he's treated and recovers)
- yard sales, rummage sales, thrift stores, flea markets GALORE!
- Memorial Park in Arcadia
- the Jackson County Fair in Black River Falls (for the best carmel popcorn ever- hot carmel poured over fresh popcorn) mmm, I want some!
- the 4th of July parade in Hixton
- picnic & swimming in Hatfield
- shopping at Kohl's and Super Target in Eau Claire long before they ever came to Phoenix
- Bargain Bill's near Rice Lake with Ginny
- my Mom & Dad's basement. OK, basements in general. I want one!
- Ginny & Dave's cottage... paddle boat, canoeing, fishing and shooting off fireworks
- Swedish meatball mix from the Pigeon Meat Locker
- renting the Jacobson farm- buying eggs from the Amish
- my niece Kristen getting engaged to Joe in the cornfield
- my Dad's beautiful, prized flowers
- the Norske Nook in Osseo (check out the best pies here!)
- Ron & Deb's gorgeous cabin, built by the Amish
- the Strawberry Festival in Alma Center
- Duck Island and Rib Mountain in Wausau
- Hyde Park in Appleton with Gary's family
- my parents 45th and 50th Anniversary celebrations
- sewing and crafting with my sister Ginny
- the craft and antique stores in Augusta
- bidding against myself at farm auctions
- John Deere tractor rides with Grandpa
- Randy mowing acres of lawn (thank God for riding lawn mowers)
- Uncle Gary demonstrating the fine art of roasting marshmellows, using a garden rake
- Miranda breaking her arm while riding a four-wheeler
- Shawn needing stitches an hour later, after plowing into a swing set while dirt biking
- Tyler not having to go to the ER that day
- spending hours looking through all the old LOOK and LIFE magazines in the basement
- Randy making it a tradition to climb the 90 foot Harvestor silo before we leave
- Kids playing "31" with Grandpa & Grandma
- doing tons of concerts throughout Wisconsin
- Kids playing with their cousins in the hay mow and the corn cribs
- Chatty Belle- the world's largest talking cow in Neillsville (check it out for yourself here)
- bonfires at the mobile home
- my Mom's fresh baked pies after every meal
- riding the Ducks in Wisconsin Dells (more info here)
- touring Laura Ingalls modest birthplace near Pepin
- the laughing waitress at the Alma Hotel
- Miranda and cousin Erica's apple stand (apples they shouldn't have picked)
- the great flood of '93
- watching the BULLS beat the SUNS in '93 (dang that Paxson- watching this YouTube video still makes me sick)
- and making many more memories

The family photo was taken in 1990.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

vacationing in Wisconsin (Part 1)

We have vacationed in Wisconsin every single summer for the past 29 years. It's one of the things I have wanted to blog about, so it would be well documented. So hang in there, it may go long.

I grew up one of six kids, on a dairy farm and we never went on a family vacation. Ever. You do remember me telling you that farmers work 24/7. Well, that's why we never vacationed. We never even went camping together.
So I had dreams of vacationing and camping with my future family... to fun, far-away places.

Fast forward, Randy & I are married. We're heading out on our first vacation. Gotta stop ya here and clarify something. It's a working vacation. Our vacations were always working vacations because we had our own full-time ministry. Randy is a Christian singer/songwriter and does concerts for a living. This is kinda embarrassing to admit, but the first time we went on a true vacation without his guitar and several boxes of CD's, was our trip to WI last October and our Disney World vacation this past January. Seriously, those were the only times we have ever gone anywhere that Randy did not have concerts booked. In 29 years!

So, back to the story. Randy & I go on a 5 week vacation after a year of marriage. My first real vacation. We load up his '69 Dodge Charger and proceed to put on several thousands miles meeting his relatives and him meeting my relatives and doing concerts throughout the country. And I quickly realize, I am in love... with traveling. So this is what I was missing! I am hooked. So I REALLY begin to dream about all the adventures our little family will someday embark upon.

Fast forward, Shawn is born, 26 years ago. At 3 months old, we put him in our yellow 2-door Datsun B210 and we're off to Wisconsin to introduce him to my family. Shawn is a great traveler. We take him again when he turns one. A year later we travel with both Shawn and our baby girl Miranda to Wisconsin. It's important that we take Miranda to meet my family too. She too, takes to traveling so well. OK, you see where I'm going here don't you. My kids LOVE Wisconsin, the farm, my family, my roots. Four years after Miranda, our son Tyler comes along and our little family is complete and I once again, imagine going on interesting, exotic vacations that will take us out of our comfort zone and expose us to other cultures and lifestyles. But every summer Randy would set up a concert tour in Wisconsin and we'd spend a month or so staying with family and friends while Randy ministered throughout Wisconsin. And it was wonderful!

Occasionally we would propose such places as Washington D.C. or Disney World, New York City or Yellowstone Park... but the kids would look at us like we were crazy and adamantly exclaim "umm, hello! The farm!" SO the farm it was, and is, and ever shall be! And we never looked back. We stopped dreaming of those other places and finally came to the conclusion that our kids had vacations others only dreamed of and it took me years to realize just how blessed we were!

And here's where I gotta brag. Our kids are the best travelers!
I guess when you put them in a car or van from the time they are born, and they know they will be there for 3 days, they catch on real quick that you don't ask if you're almost there. And another thing, some of our best vacation memories are of our times together in those tight quarters... telling funny stories, scary stories, attempting to find all 50 license plates, reading from the kids journals I kept over the years, playing each others music playlists, listening to Garrison Keillor and "Prairie Home Companion" tapes, singing the oldies and playing "ask me anything" and "movie/movie star/movie".
The van would be filled with Miranda's Barbie's, Tyler's GI Joe's and Shawn's Super Heros. I would bring duffle bags filled with dress-up clothes. I never knew what they would be dressed like when we'd pile out at various pit stops... princess Miranda, sniper Tyler or ninja Shawn! I loved their vivid imaginations.

Oh and trust me, we had our moments. It wasn't always fun and games. Have I told you that we'd sleep in the van as we'd travel? Ya, Randy and Shawn would throw some sleeping bags on the ground and Miranda, Tyler and I would curl up somewhere in the mini van. We'd wake up WAAAY TOO EARLY and all too grumpy and drive to a local grocery store, buy milk and have our cereal and donuts at a nearby picnic table.
And I'm like, what were we thinking!! Well, that we'd have crazy, fun stories to reminisce about when the kids were all grown. And guess what, that's exactly what we do!

Monday, July 07, 2008

sweet Emolyn

I am still in awe of our little miracle grandbaby! Emolyn was born 2lbs. 7 oz. and in perfect health. She will be 5 months in two weeks and her personality is emerging as a happy, curious, content little girl. (at around 9 lbs.)

Yesterday Miranda recorded Emolyn on her camera and showed it to Emolyn. I kid you not, Emolyn watched the entire recording of herself! Never took her eyes off the little camera screen. She was actually quite enamored with herself. She was probably thinking "no wonder everyone is going ga-ga over me! I'm cute!"

Oh boy, does she love her Pop-pop! And he adores her to pieces! We all do!

So, our Sunday plans were for Miranda, Nicole and I to scrapbook while Shawn went to an Apple Store meeting and Randy sang at a church. Well, the girls did scrap, but I was a little distracted by a certain someone. It's that cuteness thing again.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

A real FUN 4th!

What could be better than a road trip... with dear friends... in the mountains... to see our son Tyler... on the 4th of July? A THUNDERSTORM!! YES! THUNDER! LIGHTNING! RAIN! I was one happy camper.

First stop, the Bee Line cafe in Payson. A favorite of the Lynch's. And now ours. So quaint. So yummy. I satisfied my longing for rhubarb pie. I can now go on with my life.

During a little photo op (seen above), the owner comes out of the cafe to make sure we didn't leave smudges on his prized possession. He was kidding. I think.

We were excited to visit with Tyler for a few hours at Mountain Meadows. He's having a great time! We're so proud of him. But, he's like the only one in camp that has not gotten any mail. I know, bad Mom. So Miranda and I hope to remedy that this week.

Amy was pretty excited about visiting her sister Carly at camp. You see Amy had just gotten engaged, so she surprised Carly with a visit. After tears and hugs, I captured this image of the two of them and the lovely 'sparkle' in the middle! Congrats Amy & Danny!

Would you believe this is our Youth Pastor? I didn't think so.
Jason is so awesome! As we drove into camp, this is how we were greeted. Tyler was in the shower, as he had just been 'creamed' with 4 pies! Too bad we didn't see that!
But, we did see this!! A 5 foot snake that had wandered into camp as parents were picking up their kids. And who do you suppose came to the rescue? Who else! "Oh Bruce, you're so brave and impetuous!" Do you know how many lines from the animated version of "Robin Hood" our family quotes on a daily bases! Too many to count.