Tuesday, December 27, 2016

After Christmas

Dan went back to work this morning, and I'll go in to the office in a few hours. Yesterday was Boxing Day, one of my favorite days of the year. I straightened up the house, made a pot of pea soup with the ham bone from Christmas dinner, worked on some insurance stuff, and took time in between to work on a jigsaw puzzle. I also did some laundry, which resulted in a backed up sewer drain in the basement. So, Dan is meeting the plumber here this afternoon.

Emily and Marcus and the babies came over for soup and sandwiches for supper. (Brooklynn loved the pea soup) and I got to enjoy playing with B on the floor. I was so busy on Christmas Day that I hardly spent time with  him, or Brooklynn.

Here he is giving my dad a 'high five.'

It was a big day for him, being his First Christmas and all.

We'll have our tree up until the end of the week, at least. I may put away some of the other decorations, but I always have a hard time letting go of the Christmas tree.  The best place for reading a new book is in the glow of the lights. 

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve favorites

I'm a day late for Friday Fave Five, but I think Christmas Eve is a wonderful time to reflect on the blessings of this past week.

1. Joe and Sam came for supper on Tuesday night.  I got home from work and finished preparing beef stroganoff in the crock pot, while they were watching TV with Dan.  They both looked a bit tired and scruffy, the result of finishing up finals and labs and papers the week before.  I watched them fill their plates, heaping with noodles and hot, fragrant beef, not just once, but twice and then a third time for Sam.  There is something that is so satisfying to this mother's heart, feeding hungry 'boys' who don't always have the time or energy to cook for themselves.

2.  We had an office gathering after work on Monday.  It was nice to relax with the people I work with and get to know them better.  We played a game that I borrowed for another gathering this week.  It's called "2 truths and a lie."  Everyone comes up with two truths and one lie about themselves, shares with the group, and then the group has to decide which facts are truths and which is not true.  Lots of fun!

3.  A surprise package in the mail from my sweet cousin.  I do a lot of mail order shopping, so when this one was on our doorstep it was such a treat!  Something I hadn't ordered and it was for me!

4.  Breakfast with my friend Terry.  So, so many years of friendship and sharing of hearts.

5.  All of my fives this week include people in my life.  So grateful for all of you who take time to stop by my blog to chat over the backyard fence.  Thank you for your comments, whether in person, by email or in the comment section.  Merry Christmas to all!


Sunday, December 18, 2016

Books, Christmas, chocolate

Most of us long to experience Paradise on earth. Women who read do. Whoever said that you can't take it with you obviously never read a good book. For everything you've ever read, loved, and remembered is now a part of your consciousness. What is once cherished can never perish. (Sara Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance)

I read an interesting fact on Facebook the other day, that the country of Iceland publishes more books per capital than any other country in the world.  And they have an absolutely lovely tradition called Jolabokaflod, or "Christmas Book Flood," where they give each other books for gifts on Christmas Eve, and then go to bed to read them. And eat chocolate. (I couldn't confirm that last part, but that's what it said on Facebook.)

Upon further Googling, I came across this article that says not only are the Icelandic people prolific writers, but they prefer physical books vs. e-books. I realize that this is a personal preference, but I'm in agreement that there is something really cozy about snuggling up in bed with a brand new book, that paper smell wafting out as your crack it open.

I love the tradition of books at Christmastime.  While it may not have been an established practice, a book was almost always one of my gifts.  I can remember many a Christmas when, after the presents were opened and everyone settled in to drink eggnog to Christmas music playing on the radio, settling in with one of my presents and reading the day away.

One such time was when I was home on college break.  I received a copy of E.B. White's children's novel, The Trumpet of the Swan. It was such a treat to discover something new by one of my favorite authors whom I credit with my earliest love of reading.

My husband knows how much I love opening up a brand new book, and that a new book is the best present ever. He rarely disappoints.

Christmas and books. Two of my favorite things. I think the people in Iceland have it just right.


Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas favorites

Pausing for a few moments to join with Susanne and Friday Fave Five, and reflect on moments of gratitude for the week.

* Grateful for the self-mail kiosk at the post office! On Monday morning, the line for mailing packages was out the door. I don't know why more people don't use the self-mailing kiosk. There were only a few of us, and in a matter of minutes I had two packages on the way to Wisconsin. And even though I complain about the cost, it really isn't that much to mail a package of Christmas to some of my favorite people.

* Dan and I went to the Boulder Dinner Theatre on Wednesday and saw a wonderful performance of Thoroughly Modern Millie. We both enjoy musical theater and this was a great show with great music and amazing dance numbers.

*  Christmas cards.  We seem to receive fewer cards each year, but I sure love exchanging greetings with friends and family in the old traditional way.

*  The office at work, decorated for the holidays.  I should add that I love my job and the young women that I work with.  I always enjoy this time of year, when we play holiday music and decorate for the season.

*  Anticipating a fun day ahead, baking cookies with Emily and the grandbabies.  This should be fun, if not challenging!

What are your favorite moments from the week?


Tuesday, December 13, 2016


As of today, I am finished decorating -- from top to toe. I also finished the last bit of my Christmas shopping yesterday, and then got a pedicure -- my little treat to myself for getting it all done. Cards are written and ready to mail. On Friday, Emily is coming over to bake cookies.

I put together a playlist of Christmas songs that Dan and I listen to in the evenings, as we go about the house.  Here are some favorites:

Christmas Time is Here (Instrumental)
Neil Diamond You Make It Feel Like Christmas 
Kenny G  Faith album
Elvis Silver Bells
Pentatonix Mary Did You Know?
Ronnie Milsap O Holy Night
Rascal Flatts A Strange Way to Save the World

I've been adding a few songs each day, so it's always different. I have about given up on radio, unless I'm in the car.  If I hear Santa Baby one more time, I think I'll scream and die.

Hope it's feeling like Christmas wherever you are!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Snow, books, Christmas preparations

With Christmas preparations, wedding planning and some big changes at work, life has been busier than usual.  Not that I'm complaining, because it's all good stuff and I love this time of year.

Yesterday evening, we got a few inches of snow, and it's still coming down.  My book club met for our annual Christmas dinner and book exchange.  Our table at the restaurant was right next to the fireplace -- a 'real' wood fire, no less -- and we could see the snow falling outside.  It was such a festive evening! One of my favorite things about the holidays, is gathering with these ladies.  One of the members of our group has a talent for gift wrapping that just puts us all in awe and hoping to be the recipient of her package each year.  This was my lucky year!

The package: (see the Santa and reindeer at the top?)

The book (which I hadn't heard of, but it sounds like a wonderfully fun read).

I have just a few things left to shop for, but most of the presents are wrapped.  It helps me to stay organized and remember what I have, since I start my shopping fairly early.  We sent Luke and Miranda's presents home with them when they were here at Thanksgiving, but I'm making up a Christmas box to mail them, just for fun.  I can't think about not having them here for Christmas this year, however, they'll be here for the wedding two weeks afterwards, so that softens the blow a bit.

I've been slow at decorating this year, and keeping it to a minimum.  I seem to do less each year and am satisfied with less.  That feels like progress to me:)

Stay warm everyone,


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

On my mind

Last night was one of those nights where I fell into bed, so exhausted, but then lay awake for an hour making lists in my head.  I finally resorted to taking my phone -- which was on my nightstand, and I've been really good about not leaving it there at night -- and sending myself emails to get the items out of my head.  Which, I know is not a good idea, because 'they' say that using screens at bedtime is what keeps you awake.

I imagine gremlins reaching out from my phone and grabbing my brain whispering, "Stay Awake!"

So, this morning, I went down my list of emails and made a paper list, and now I'm feeling a bit more organized.

We are slowly easing into Christmas, while also continuing with wedding plans.  I have to say, the wedding stress has been minimal and well distributed among all parties involved.  My duties are few, the biggest job being riding herd on the two grooms (since I'm the mom who is closer in proximity) to make sure they keep at their list of things to do.  Because, what's a wedding without cake and a few flowers and something to eat?  Joe and Sam are both in the midst of finals and writing papers and finishing up labs, besides moving last weekend, so their lists look a lot scarier than mine.

So, back to Christmas.  I'm feeling pretty mellow about getting decorations up -- we hung outside lights last weekend and only have to replace one burned out string -- and am taking it all a little at a time.

While cleaning on Monday, I put away Thanksgiving and decorated the hutch for Christmas.  Here are the unedited photos.  I think I'm going to have a lot of fun with this hutch:)

I'm off to work on my list, which includes writing out birthday cards for December birthdays -- we have a slew of family birthdays next month, taking a print to Michael's for framing, and going to work.

Happy Wednesday to all,

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hutch Makeover

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was working on a makeover for a piece of furniture.  I thought I would share some pictures of the finished product.

One of the first pieces of furniture that Dan and I bought when we were married, was this dining room hutch.  It was a splurge, but we came into a little money, and I've never regretted it.  I've always loved this piece, but have always had this niggling little thought that it would be so pretty painted.  Over the years, I've imagined painting it white or barn red, or painting part of it and leaving the rest natural.

I finally decided to just jump in and "do something --even if it's wrong," (as my father-in-law used to say.)

I started by taking it all apart and setting up shop on the back porch.  It involved a lot of sanding.  And a coat of primer.  And a couple of coats of paint.

Here's the finished product.  (Ignore the cord peeking out the side:/)  I love not having the doors on.  It is in a more central location now, so I can dress it up for different seasons and holidays.

I'm happy with the way it turned out and it feels good to have finished a project that has been on my list for such a long time.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

I've been AWOL for a week since Luke and Miranda were in town.  We had such a great visit with them!  One day, we went to the zoo -- it was the day our temperatures hit a record high of 80 degrees. And then the next day we got four inches of snow;)  It happens in these parts.

It was such a magical day.  There were very few people there, and while it was a warm day, there was a soft breeze blowing leaves all about.  We took our time, rode the carousel and the train, and had lunch.

I didn't take a lot of pictures, but crammed in as much grandma time as I could.  We celebrated an early Thanksgiving on Sunday, because Luke had to leave the next morning.  Miranda and the kids are staying with her grandma for a few more days.

It has been nice having this lull between our Thanksgiving and the start of the Christmas rush.  I always wish that Thanksgiving could linger a bit, and this year I got my wish.

And I got my wish, with time spent with four of my favorite people!


Tuesday, November 15, 2016


Luke and Miranda are in town with the kids for a week!  Our little house is bursting at the seams in the evenings with a 2-year-old, 18-month old, 10-month-old and 8-month-old, and we are having a ball!  

Brooklynn and Siefer in coordinating jammies after a bath.

I need to get a picture of the two boy cousins together, but in the meantime, look at how much Sawyer has grown!  (Miranda took this picture and it is my favorite of all time.)

Not to be left out, Bentley has become a little bear cub. He's so roly poly and holding him is just delicious.

In grandbaby heaven,

Friday, November 11, 2016

Grateful for Friday's Fave Five

In light of the events of the past few days -- meaning of course the election on Tuesday that left so  many of us reeling in disbelief -- I am delighted to join in with the Friday Fave Five crowd and look for the blessings in my week.  Because, as bad as life gets sometimes, there's always something good that pokes it's head up and winks at me.

1.  Today is Veteran's Day, and I'm grateful for a day that remembers all of the men and women who have served in the armed forces to give us the freedoms that we have today.  This includes my dad, my grandpa, my uncles, my brother, and my nephew.  Thank you to all!

2.  Here it is the middle of November and I'm wearing a t-shirt and capris and looking out the window at a rosebush in full bloom.  This morning, I started a project, re-doing a piece of furniture, on the back porch.  It is so warm and sunny and beautiful outside.

3.  In an effort to prepare for the holiday season (and I do need a reminder that it is fast arriving, despite Spring-like weather) I've found a new favorite at St*rbucks.  Peppermint White Mocha.  OMG, it's to die for.  It's not a special or anything, just something I decided to try and it's become my fave.

4.  I had an unexpected free day on Monday that I wrote about here.  Yay for 'free' days!

5.  Laughter.  Dan and I record our favorite shows and watch them when we have time.  Last night, we watched the latest episodes of Modern Family and The Big Bang.  A nice reprieve from all the seriousness of the week.

How was your week?


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The gift of a day

Yesterday, I found myself with an unexpected free day. I usually have my two grandbabies on Mondays, but my son-in-law texted early in the morning to say that he had been called into work early and had to take the kids to their regular sitter.

Wow! The gift of a day. I had a few chores to do, but what a treat to be able to do them at my own pace and to be deliberate in my actions.  To feel unrushed as I folded laundry and later worked at my desk.   I took a break to call Pamela and have a chat and a cup of coffee.

We celebrated my aunt's birthday yesterday evening, and even though the meal was a simple crockpot recipe, I decided to set the table with my great-grandmother's china that I had moved from boxes into the china cabinet for occasions such as this.  Later, I listened to my dad and aunt as they remembered eating from those same dishes as children. And I still had the pleasure of seeing my grandbabies when they came for cake and ice cream that evening.

Yesterday, I was reminded how I lose myself when I live in a rush.  It's so easy for me to take on too much, hurrying from one place to another, either physically or in my mind.  It's so easy to gain momentum, set my course and keep going with the next goal in mind.  I miss the details, the beauty in the ordinary things in life.

I guess there are times that that can't be avoided, but for the most part I can make better choices. It usually means removing the clutter from my mind and my surroundings.  It means being deliberate about my choices and my actions, whether it's setting a table or putting ingredients into a crockpot.  It means staying home when I'm tempted to use a free day to go out to the store and buy things that I'm sure I need, but will just add to the clutter.

My son-in-law apologized when he texted, saying, "I hope this doesn't mess up your plans for the day."  Oh, no! You gave me a gift, Marcus.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Pioneer Country, Part 2

I'm just now getting back here to finish writing about our trip to Tulsa.  After visiting the modern day Pioneer Woman's Mercantile, we drove to visit one of the original Pioneer Women in Oklahoma.  The story of how she came to be, and the story of the man that made it all possible, is an interesting one to say the least.

This 17-foot-tall statue representing Oklahoma's pioneer women stands in front of the Pioneer Woman Museum in Ponca City, Oklahoma.  The idea for the statue was conceived by E.W. Marland, an oilman, philanthropist, U.S. senator and governor of Oklahoma.  Marland commissioned artists from all over the world to present their version of a statue to commemorate the pioneer experience and to honor his grandmother.

A dozen small models were submitted and then people all over the United States voted on their favorite.  The winner by a landslide was the work of London-born Bryant Baker and the final work was unveiled in 1930.

About a mile from the museum and statue is the estate of E.W. Marland.  The 55-room mansion is known as the Palace on the Prairie.  The grounds were once the site of polo matches, fox hunts and an Olympic-sized swimming pool.  From his office window, Marland could see the statue honoring his grandmother and the women who helped settle the land where he made -- and eventually lost -- a fortune.

The estate is beautiful and the mansion houses many beautiful works of art, including the original 12 statues that were commissioned for Marland's Pioneer Woman.

Marland was an interesting person in  his own right, but the story of his second wife, Lydie, has the makings of a novel.  Marland and his first wife, Virginia, had no children of their own.  In 1916, they adopted Virginia's nephew, George, and niece, Lydie, then 19 and 16 years old.  Ten years later, Virginia died.  Two years after that, Marland had Lydie's adoption annulled and he then married her.  

It was during this time that he built his Palace on the Plains, which was a wedding gift to his new bride.  Unfortunately, they only lived in the 46,000-square-foot mansion a short time when his oil company was lost in a hostile takeover and, for the second time in his life, Marland lost most of his money.

The mystery surrounds yet another statue that Marland had commissioned.  There were actually two statues, one of each of the siblings, George and Lydie.  After Marland's death, Lydie instructed a worker on the grounds to destroy the statue that was of her likeness.  It would be over 30 years later, after her death and the death of the worker, that a letter surfaced revealing the whereabouts of the broken pieces.  It was then unearthed and put back together.  The original statue is in the entrance of the mansion, reunited with George.  A replica stands in the garden, keeping watch on the house.

There was much speculation about Lydie's life in the years following Marland's death.  She disappeared from Ponca City for more than 20 years, leaving most to believe that she had died.  It was only at the end of her life that she returned, living in seclusion in the carriage house that she and E.W. shared after they went broke, not far from the estate that was now in the hands of the Carmelite Fathers.  During her absence, the only evidence that she was alive were the payments that arrived to cover taxes on the cottage.  There was even an article that ran in the Saturday Evening Post titled, "Where is Lydie Marland?'

The mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks, is a work of art. Marland hired a master architect who commissioned artists to hand paint the decorative ceilings and sculpt intricate designs on the exterior of the building. One of my favorite things is on the portico on one side of the house.  In each or the four corners an artist sculpted one of Marland's favorite hunting dogs.

In 2012, an academy award-winning film company purchased rights to a movie based on the lives of E.W. Marland and Lydie.  I haven't been able to find anything about how that is progressing, but you can bet that if it eventually comes out, I'll buy a ticket to see it!

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pioneer Country

Dan and I flew to Tulsa last weekend to spend a few days with our good friends, Pam and Jim. 

When Pam and Jim moved to Tulsa a year ago, we knew it would be just a matter of time before we'd head down to see them.  So, on Friday we hopped a plane and got there in time for supper.

On Saturday we took a drive to nearby Pawhuska, of Pioneer Woman fame.  We knew the Mercantile wouldn't be open for business yet, but thought we'd have a look around.

The doors were open and the place was bustling with workmen and a crew of people in Mercantile shirts, setting things up.

As we poked our heads inside for a peek, Jerry, the general contractor, met us at the door and gave us a warm greeting, inviting us to step inside! It was a bit surreal seeing the Mercantile in person, after watching its progress on Ree's show and on her blog.  If this blog were 'scratch and sniff', you could smell the rich aroma of all that natural wood.

We were free to look at the entire first floor -- Jerry was almost apologetic that we couldn't go upstairs to the bakery because the workers were still finishing up the stairway.

It was so exciting to see the original mural that was discovered under the plastering of the old building. The carved flowers in the wood below are just beautiful and will be the same pattern used on the stationery sold at the store.  It was all I could do not to start going through boxes to find some to buy;)

The kitchen. . .

 That wonderful ceiling tile that they worked so hard to restore just gleams.  So beautiful. . .

The cappacino machine!

Seeing the inside of the Merc was more than we'd hope for.  I can't wait to go back and visit when it's open!

Pawhuska is a sweet little town.  We had a fabulous lunch at The Prairie Dog. They have a hot dog bar that would rival any hot dog stand on the streets of New York City, as well as frozen yogurt and cupcakes that are to die for.

There was an art festival going on in town, and lots of little artists were hard at work drawing chalk sidewalk pictures.

We wandered through the shops and had a nice conversation with the friendly proprietor of Clifton's Osage Prairie Gifts.  

There was a chuck wagon dinner being served that evening.  Here's Jim, talking to the cook.

Lots of places to shop in this little town!

Being the groupies that we are, we stopped at the local grocery store that Ree frequents. . .

. . . and paid homage to her at the butter display;)

Before getting in the car to leave, we took a run walk up the steps of the old courthouse.

From the top, a view of the little town of Pawhuska.

Tomorrow, I'll post about another Pioneer Woman on the prairie of Oklahoma!