Friday, July 31, 2009

Do You Have 37 Seconds?

It will take just 37 seconds to read this and change your thinking.

Two men, both seriously ill, occupied the same hospital room. One man was allowed to sit up in his bed for an hour each afternoon to help drain the fluid from his lungs. His bed was next to the room's only window. The other man had to spend all his time flat on his back. The men talked for hours on end. They spoke of their wives and families, their homes, their jobs, their involvement in the military service, where they had been on vacation..

Every afternoon, when the man in the bed by the window could sit up, he would pass the time by describing to his roommate all the things he could see outside the window. The man in the other bed began to live for those one hour periods where his world would be broadened and enlivened by all the activity and color of the world outside. The window overlooked a park with a lovely lake. Ducks and swans played on the water while children sailed their model boats. Young lovers walked arm in arm amidst flowers of every color and a fine view of the city skyline could be seen in the distance. As the man by the window described all this in exquisite details, the man on the other side of the room would close his eyes and imagine this picturesque scene. One warm afternoon, the man by the window described a parade passing by. Although the other man could not hear the band - he could see it in his mind's eye as the gentleman by the window portrayed it with descriptive words. Days, weeks and months passed.

One morning, the day nurse arrived to bring water for their baths only to find the lifeless body of the man by the window, who had died peacefully in his sleep. She was saddened and called the hospital attendants to take the body away. As soon as it seemed appropriate, the other man asked if he could be moved next to the window. The nurse was happy to make the switch, and after making sure he was comfortable, she left him alone. Slowly, painfully, he propped himself up on one elbow to take his first look at the real world outside. He strained to slowly turn to look out the window besides the bed. It faced a blank wall. The man asked the nurse what could have compelled his deceased roommate who had described such wonderful things outside this window. The nurse responded that the man was blind and could not even see the wall. She said, 'Perhaps he just wanted to encourage you.'

Epilogue: There is tremendous happiness in making others happy, despite our own situations. Shared grief is half the sorrow, but happiness when shared, is doubled. If you want to feel rich, just count all the things you have that money can't buy...Today is a gift, that is why it is called

"The Present"

The Origin of this Letter is Unknown

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hey, Cupcake!

We have been perfecting the cupcake over here.

And, I don't mean the baked kind. I mean the glass kind. These beautiful little confections are rings made of fused glass and a dark hardwood. Chunky and Fun, just ask the Treat Girl! (She received one of the first prototypes for her birthday.) They are now available in my SHOP. Perfect gift for the birthday girl, cupcake lover, or just someone Sweet.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I Wonder Why Wednesday: Stars?

I'm wondering about these stars that I see everywhere on the sides of homes. They are usually metal and are raised/3 dimensional.

1st: What does this mean? Anything? Drive down a country road and tell me how many you see...I counted 6 one day. Is there some secret "Star Society" that I am unaware of?

2nd: Where do you buy these things? I see them everywhere on homes, but have never once seen them for sale anywhere. I really don't think I live in a bubble. Is Agway an appropriate place to look? I'm just not sure.

3rd and lastly: OK, so you've decided that the house needs a "Star" for reasons unknown and you've found a place to purchase said "Star". How in the heck do you get hubby to drag out the huge ladder that you'll need, correctly position this thing on the side of your house and properly secure it onto siding, cement or bricks? I'm just saying that I'd have to wait an awful long time. Maybe forever.

Here's a stone "Star" that I came across. Founding members of the "Secret Star Society", perhaps?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

This is the Kind of Help I Get

We have been away for a few days just Gallivanting as my Mom would say. Visiting some relatives, taking bike rides, discovering new local places. A really fun few days, more on that later.

We got home and you know how the house is always a disaster when you come home, right? Well, yesterday was buckle-down and clean day. I was absolutely desperate to get the school papers off of the floor in my office. (They are in new stacks, but NOT gone.) General pick-up and clean-up were in order. I asked the kids to help/do their part since they made most of the mess. Funny how this registers in a kid's mind. I was sweeping through the kitchen and came across this:

Kid #2 proudly announces that he helped by filling the cookie jar. And all a good Mom can do is smile and say "Thank You".

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I Wonder Why Wednesday: Emergency?

I have this First Aid Kit that I keep in the car. The kids have recently found it, and they are completely enthralled.

There are pages of stuff in here, neatly stacked in pockets. Things like scissors, a tweezer, an eye patch, re-useable ice pack, bandages of all kinds. Sunscreen, lip balm, instructions on how to help someone who is choking. It's completely fascinating. It's like a hospital in a zippered bag.

My "I Wonder Why" is this: Is it an "Emergency" if the band-aid is only this big??

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

You Can Keep Your...


And Roses...
And Carnations...

And Your Birds of Paradise...

I'll take a simple Zinnia any day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ahh.. the Beauty of Craig's List and a Four Letter Word..

All of this stuff was clogging my garage. I've actually had passers-by gasp at the huge amount of crap that we keep in there. And, honestly, it's an embarrassing eye sore, I have to admit. But, if I can just close the door (quickly) then, I can usually forget about it. Yesterday was the last straw! My son needed a bigger bike (his knees were around his neck when he pedaled!), and therefore the bike hand-down began. #1 gets a new bike, #2 gets a hand-me-down, #3 gets a hand-me-down, #4 gets a hand-me-down. Lots of left overs in the garage, and the need for more room led me to haul it all out and hose it down. Then I started taking pictures.
We had certainly gotten much use out of all of this stuff, and during these tough economic times, it felt nice to give someone a break. I listed most of it for FREE on Craig's List. I have to tell you that it was gone in SECONDS! All of it is now in heaps down by my mailbox with names on it. To all Craig's Listers: you are on your Honor! I don't want any kind of squabble in my driveway over free stuff. I hope it finds a happy home.

Friday, July 17, 2009

More About Letterboxing

I have to say that Letterboxing has become a place where all of my family has come together this summer. And, that is saying a lot. With 4 kids all headed in different directions, with different friends, and interests, it's such a bonus to find something that we all enjoy and can do together.

I'm including some photos of the things we have seen along the way:

I love how the clouds reflect in the lake, ahead of the colorful kayaks.

The stark white of this purple martin house against the blue of the sky really caught my eye.

Who wouldn't want to walk over this bridge?

Momma bluebird bringing home lunch for her babies.

A woodland flower in blazing orange.

A single orange kayak on a blue lake.

Old military planes flying in formation. There is a small airport nearby and these guys were showing off.

The history of letterboxing is interesting, a park ranger in England started this game in the late 1800's. The process has evolved a lot to become what it is today.

Here's how it works: We have a notebook, a (preferably) handmade stamp that is unique to us, and a "Trail Name" or "Handle".

We then go seeking Letterboxes. (I find trail directions and maps at: Atlas Quest, or The boxes are typically a Tupperware type container that includes a notebook and a custom made stamp. When I find a box, I then stamp their book with my stamp, date it, and leave a brief note including where we are from. I take their stamp and mark my log book, date it and leave a note if I'd like. It's like collecting a log book full of handmade individual works of art. We always make sure that we re-hide the box as we found it. When I return home, I log our finds on the appropriate web site. The people who "Plant" the letterboxes can keep track of their boxes this way, find out if they need repairs, or just get a quick update on who's been visiting.

Letterboxing is very kid friendly. Directions often include such things as: " Find the triple trunked maple, put your back to it, and facing the lake, walk 12 paces". Letterboxes can be just a stop in the road, or they can be elaborate trails with multiple boxes. My favorites are trails that have been put together by generous letterboxers who have included information about the history of the area, or little anecdotes about what happened along the trail. It's one thing to read about an event, and another to be standing in front of a Harmonist Meeting House that was built in 1825. History becomes real.

My husband has always been an outdoorsman. He would often go hunting just so that he could sit in the quiet and still of the woods in the wee hours; watching the forest wake up. I have always loved hiking and being outside.

Searching for Letterboxes has become about the journey for me. Maybe I have found some center on that point this summer. Life is about the journey. The kids, on the other hand, still tear through the woods gripping the printed page, looking for the triple trunked maple! For them,it's about the destination. We all get an adventure. I get some time alone with the kids, talking and walking. The kids get to find treasure! Letterboxing has become a real haven for my famiy.

The things we have discussed along the way are: tree identification, animal tracks, and the all important poison ivy identification. We've also seen beavers, bunnies, hawks and lots more. But we also talk with the kids about their hopes and dreams, their friends, their good days and their bad.
And the kids talk about their "finds".

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Here's an Hour's Worth of Fun For Everyone. Plus, a Wee Bit of I Wonder Why Wednesday.

Gather your supplies: Here's what you'll need: A plastic bottle with the bottom cut off, rubber bands, a small bit of fabric, two shallow bowls, one containing water, the other that contains dish detergent. (The bottom of the bottle needs to fit into the shallow bowls). Thanks to Family Fun for the idea!

Now, have your crew assemble the supplies as below: Cover the open end of the bottle with the fabric (a kid's washcloth works great), and secure with the rubber bands.

Now, dip the fabric end into the water bowl, then the detergent bowl, and BLOW!

The result is tons of giggle inducing bubbles that uncurl from the end of the bottle like one of those smoke snakes on the 4th of July.

My kids also played limbo and then jump rope the with hose on stream.

And here's my "I Wonder Why Wednesday" segment:

I wonder why guys seem to have a complete inability to control themselves when it comes to "beefing up" projects.

My guy decided that if we used a huge 2 gallon juice bottle and the shop vac, we could totally automate the process and fill my yard with bubbles. The results were less than the desired "snow in July" effect.

I see that he and my son have "Plan B" all worked out: I found this "Master Plan" on my kitchen table this morning!
Leave me a comment and tell me what your husband has "Beefed Up"!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Birthday with The Sistas: It's Fiesta Time!

These girls know how to make a girl feel special. The Treat Girl says it all in her Smilebox. (Yet another gift to me).

We went UNDER the Roller Coaster to Presque Isle State Park in Erie, PA. (Mental Note: Add Waldamere Park to my list of To Do's). I had been to this park many years ago, while this part of the country was my territory when I was working for a paycheck. I didn't remember it being so beautiful. Lots of things to do. I'd love to take the kids up to go biking soon.

The Birthday rules were the same as ever: Girlfriends gifts are $10 and under and handmade. I'm always astonished at what these girls can do with some everyday supplies and tons of creative energy!

Marzipan baked the most delicious petite perfection chocolate/chocolate cake for me (she knows it's my favorite.) Unless we are counting her carrot cake....hmmm....

Juniper over at Hope Studios blessed me with a handmade frame that I will treasure.

The Treat Girl filled a wonderful "What is it Wednesday" jar with treats just for me!

Girl in the Sticks really knocked me out with a little clutch that she made from some fabric scraps that just happen to match the skirt that I made recently!
Thank You all for a beautiful Day!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Little Mom Time this Week

A Little Mom time always entails lots of Kid Time. Especially because we have 11 kids among us (and we were missing a few). So, The kid craft comes first. Then, maybe if we get lucky, there are some quiet moments for us.

I found some rocks for the kids to paint and make creatures out of.
They painted and played games. Ok, the kids are busy, fine, fed, and amused. Now, for the real reason for this get together:

I saw this DIY at Enchantresses 3. I knew it would be the perfect Girls Day Out Project. We made a J. Crew ish Corsage T-Shirt. Ours were under $10. At J. Crew, they were $78 or something silly like that.

First buy 2 t-shirts, one to wear, and one to use as fabric for the corsage. I cut my fabric in a heart shape and started sewing them on in clusters, being sure to tuck one underneath another to bulk it up a little.

Juniper and The Treat Girl cut layered circles and stacked them. They hand sewed them to their shirts in a sort of twisty, pinchy way. It took awhile to get it right, but finished product was beautiful.
I may need to get a few t-shirts to try it this way. They looked super cute!
We all look terrific in our new "Bingo shirts" as my hubby calls them. (Clearly he knows nothing about fashion.)

And, look what I found in the NEW J. Crew Fall line:
Saving $78 if you ask me!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I Wonder Why Wednesday: Why Would Anyone Want to Do This Job?

So if I listed a Help Wanted Ad that Read:

Wanted: Someone who is willing to work 12 hours a day (or more) at much less than minimum wage. Requirements include, but are not limited to, experience in the following: welding, heavy lifting, mechanic for all kinds of machinery (some of which is older than you are), basic veterinarian skills (for many types of animals), gardening, horticulture and pest control.

The job is 7 days a week, with very little (if any) vacation time. If you plan on any type of time off, please also plan to cover your work hours.


Such is the work load of the Small Family Farmer. I'm not really sure why anyone would want to work this hard for so little.

Payment must be in the intangibles. Wide open spaces to call your own. Lots of alone time to think. Acts of grace and kindness. The company of good dogs. Selling a dozen eggs to someone who just raves about how good they are. The reward is certainly not in the paycheck.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I'm Basking in Small Town America

What parade would be complete without a Cement Truck?
Or a wagon full of sheep, goats and cows?

And, OH, the tractors.... I LOVE the tractors! The farmers sometimes hold the brakes on one back tire and spin in the street. What a show! Elvis should never be forgotten!
Check this guy out...Quintessential if you ask me.

Stilt walkers...

My favorite old firetruck. You can't by this kind of entertainment.

I just love it! Happy Forth of July everyone.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I'm Off to the Parade..

Happy 4th of July everyone!

Yes, we have reached that turning point in the summer when everyone thinks it's almost over (It isn't, I strongly advise). So get out there are have some fun. Enjoy some good weather and a good hometown parade with your family, neighbors and friends!
Today my kids (and some cousins) are all wearing tye dye T-shirts that they made. (Thanks to Family Fun.)

I thought it would be fun to jazz up some of the girls' shirts with some ribbon, and a star shaped button.

I made a cute little fireworks-like corsage!

Wait until you see my pictures from the parade! More later....