Monday, December 30, 2013

"It's Never How You Play it in Your Mind."

I had wonderful visions of Christmas day. We had wonderful plans. But!
I woke up with vertigo so bad I couldn't open my eyes and I couldn't stop throwing up.
So much for a wonderful day.
When I began shaking uncontrollably TopDad called 911 and a dozen men from our volunteer fire department showed up. The man who took care of me turned out to the be father of a dear friend of our son JET. I love small towns. He was so tender and compassionate. I spent the afternoon at the hospital with an IV replacing fluids and stopping the vomiting.

Today is my birthday and I skyped with Noble and talked with PW on the phone. My dad called me and I got a gorgeous bouquet from my bestest friend who currently lives in NJ. She and I met in 1993 in WA and have both moved a lot since then, but continue our friendship through email, letters, phone calls, etc. She and I are those kindred spirits that Anne Shirley talks about.

I truly hope your Christmas Day was better than mine! See you in the New Year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . .

All is ready, carols are playing, food is ready (almost, still baking cinnamon rolls), the house is warm and hearts are merry. Noble got her packages today, we're Skyping when she gets up on Christmas morning, which will be Christmas Eve here, so we can enjoy her opening them. Tomorrow we'll Skype with PW in Utah; JET is coming for dinner and staying the night. Life is certainly different once the chuns begin to leave the nest.

I never get tired of the reason for Christmas. For me is a celebration in gratitude for the gift of God's Son, our Savior.

May you and yours have a joyous day. Merry Christmas!!

P.S. We don't have a chimney, but I keep hoping.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I'm Busy

December is just going to have to a no blog month if I want to get Christmas under the tree.

But here are some quickies:

  • Last night I roasted a bone-in chicken breast for dinner; this morning I chopped up the leftovers, added minced onion and celery, salt and pepper and mixed it all together with mayonnaise for some yummy chicken salad to go in a couple of leftover pita pockets for the boys lunches.
  • Yesterday I mailed Noble's Christmas to her in three large priority flat-rate boxes because the rate on those boxes is discounted for shipping to military addresses.
  • I used the drippings from the roast chicken to add to our cat's food this morning; they love treats like that and it makes their food go further when I can add leftovers to it. Plus all the fat is good for them being outdoors in the cold weather. (When we moved I insisted that the cats reside on the screened porch with a pet door to come and go as they please.)
  • I spent some time over at Second Chances by Susan's blog getting great ideas for modest re-fashioning of clothes. She is so talented!
  • I gathered all the Christmas wrapping papers and tags and such together in one place! I won't have to buy anymore this year. (or the next or next either!)
Today is bread baking day and boy's laundry day so I'd better get to it.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I'm Back

That's right, the Practical, Frugal, Clever Mom is back. Over the weekend I read some pages from a "Frugality Journal" I kept for a few years. The entries inspired me to get back to basics and post some of the little things I do to be frugal.

Today I baked bread, five loaves of basic white bread. The kitchen smells lovely and my boys will arrive home to their favorite fragrance!

At the beginning of October I set a goal to bake ALL my bread. I made it all the way to the week of Thanksgiving and events overtook my good intentions. Still I made it through almost two whole months without buying a single loaf of bread, or other baked good. It freed up enough money to bulk buy some other things my pantry was lacking. The practice of making what we use rather than buying, will consistently free up money that can be put to other uses.

There are some caveats. I read on another blog about making her own lip balm for 12 cents a tube. Which sounds fabulous except she had to spend about $60 to make the first dozen tubes and she has enough ingredients left to make dozens more. So, unless she plans to sell the tubes, she's not saving any money, and it's possible that the leftover ingredients will spoil before they can be used up. Perhaps for her there are other uses for the leftovers and it won't be wasted. However, that is not a way I'd look at to save money.

Saving money means (to me) spending less (or nothing) on something I normally and regularly use, including gifts or materials to make gifts. Example: bread making. Last summer, while in Utah, I bought two hundred pounds of unbleached flour in 25 lb. bags for $10.45 each. That saved me a lot of money. It works out to $.418 per pound. When flour goes on sale here it is cheaper than that, but it comes in tiny five pound bags and there is usually a limit of 2 bags. That doesn't help me much as it is 30 miles to the grocery store so I can't go everyday and keep buying. Plus there is all the packaging to deal with. I like big bags!

I've been pondering how I will be able to restock. I can't justify driving a thousand miles to Utah for a couple hundred pounds of flour, although visiting family and friends would be wonderful too. Answers come to those who ponder! I was reading a book called Money Secrets of the Amish in which the author talks about the bulk buying habits of the Amish. Ding! There is an Amish community in south-central Iowa that I could easily drive to twice a year to stock up!

Oh, that bread smells good! I think it's time for a piece with a little butter and honey.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Last Two Things

Day Thirty of Count Your Blessings 2013

First thing today is that I finished NaNoWriMo and am a WINNER!! It feels really good to reach a goal.

Second thing is a huge THANK YOU to Noble for encouraging me and pushing me and making writing fun.

We had a great Thanksgiving. Very quiet but so fun to have JET here with us. Lots of good food left over and I haven't had to cook all weekend.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Three More Things

Day Twenty-eight of Count Your Blessings 2013

"The hurrier I go, the behinder I get." Here are another three things I grateful for:

1. Good friends-I'm really grateful for good friend, including those who also happen to be family members.

2. Good food-I live in the land of plenty; I can go to the grocery store(s) and buy just about anything I want, come home and cook up a delicious meal. (Or feast as my chuns like to call them.)

3. Music-Prior to the last quarter of the nineteenth century if a person wanted to hear music he had two choices: make the music himself (like Pa Ingalls) or go to a concert. I listen to glorious music everyday. I can choose choral, symphonic, folk, ethnic, pop, musicals, or whatever and listen to it either on CD, radio or streaming on the internet. It is another miracle of technology for which I'm really grateful.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Literacy and Tithing

Day Twenty-five of Count Your Blessings 2013

Today I'm grateful for the gift of literacy. My parents are both readers, especially my mother. She read to me before bed many nights until I was about twelve. She didn't "do voices" but she had an interesting voice and good inflection. I went to college, completing about two years worth of work, but I consider myself an educated person because of all the reading I've done. My favorite section in the library is non-fiction! There are so many interesting subjects to learn about.

The second thing I'm grateful for (I keep missing days!) is the law of tithing. This is another gift from my parents. They taught by example and words that obeying the law of tithing brings blessings, just like it says in Malachi: "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it." (Malachi 3:10) I've seen those blessings in the life of my parents, among my family and friends, and in my own life. It takes faith to pay tithing FIRST, then the Lord blesses us, not the other way around.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Day Twenty-three of Count Your Blessings - 2013

In Almost Amish by Nancy Sleeth she says "What we forget is that giving kids chores is exactly that: a gift. Does Junior really need to know how to rake leaves? Perhaps not, but raking leaves will teach him important lessons about staying on task, teamwork, and delayed satisfaction." The same can be said about any kind of repetitive chore. Today the boys shoveled snow and are at this moment doing the dishes.

I'm so thankful my parents taught me to work. To this day I don't feel a job is finished until all the tools (whatever they are) are put away and the area cleaned up.

And it's always a good day when I receive a compliment about the work ethic of our children.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Four Wheel Drive and Wool Blankets

Day Twenty-two of Count Your Blessings 2013

We had our first winter storm yesterday and last night, waking up to a white world, and a two hour late start for school this morning. I was in Council Bluffs when it began as a freezing rain and sleet. I was so thankful to be driving home in our big Suburban with four-wheel drive as the roads were slick and lesser cars had slid off the road and spun out.

And, of course, every cold winter night I'm grateful to snuggle down to sleep beneath a lovely pure wool blanket, snapped up at a thrift store for $5.00. Combined with a flannel sheet I am toasty warm all night long. Thank you sheepies for giving your wool so I can stay warm!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Day Twenty of Count Your Blessings - 2013

Noble introduced me to the NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth or NaNoWriMo in 2009. TopDad and JET had already moved to Iowa and it was just me and our other four children wrapping up things in Utah. She cajoled and wheedled and I gave in. I wrote a novel (that I'm still working on) and had a lot of fun doing it. The next year I attempted it again, but didn't win (making it to a 50,000 word count is considered winning) and hadn't participated again. November is just too busy a month for me being right before December and Christmas. But Noble did it again (cajoled and wheedled) and I'm again feverishly writing when ever I have some time. Last night she arranged a "Write-In" over Skype. We simply sat together and wrote in 25 minute bursts with five to ten minute breaks to relax and chat. I had a blast!! And I got 4,000 words written in the three hours we did it.

Thank You Noble aka Te Ah Rheum in Korea.

The other thing I'm thankful for today (I need two things because I missed yesterday) is the beauty of the night sky. For the past few days the night sky has been clear and the Evening Star is just gorgeous and then the full moon rising over the bare trees is another beauty to behold. Moonlight and star shine! Hey, maybe that can be the title of my next novel. Or should it Moonshine and Starlight?

Monday, November 18, 2013

16, 17, 18

Day Eighteen of Count Your Blessings - 2013

Three more things I'm grateful for:

16 - Restaurants! TopDad is so kind when I'm exhausted, he takes me out to eat. I'm so grateful for the convenience of someone else fixing food and cleaning up. Especially after I've spent the day fixing food for a church function and then cleaning up afterward.

17 - Hand me down/up/over clothes; someone elses cast-offs have been some of my favorite clothes. And my favorite price is Free!

18 - Korean Pop music, which is the BEST to walk/run to; my treadmill time is so much more pleasant with KPop blaring to help me keep up the pace. Thanks, Noble! Saranghae (Korean for I love you!)

Friday, November 15, 2013


Day Fifteen of Count Your Blessings 2013

Ummmm, can you smell it? Bread baking in the oven. Heavenly!

I'm so grateful to have an oven! The house smells so good these days, what with bread, muffins, cakes, cookies, and such. It feeds both the body and the soul.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


Day Fourteen of Count Your Blessings 2013

Today I'm thankful to be a mother. For lots of reasons, but today for the reason that my children have introduced me to things I would never have explored otherwise.

I'm currently reading a book that Noble recommended in a genre that she loves. I can't put the dang thing down even though I have so many things to do! She's also the reason there is a jar of Kimchi in the fridge. I just had a craving for it! I'm also learning Korean, one word at a time.

Of course, my Korean gets mixed up with the Spanish I learned in my childhood and youth and try to keep up. But I'm nowhere near as fluent as PW. He gives me an incentive to get better. And then there's the guns and airplanes to learn about! And he was my first Lego Man, but not the last.

I know a lot more about the inner workings of automobiles because of JET. He loves cars! So I hear about them when he comes to visit. I love his enthusiasm. I always thought a vehicle was just a way to get from point A to point B. But he knows how to drift!!! And other cool things.

Dr. Hair has taught me to look at movies in a whole new way. As a film-maker himself he notices effects, camera angles, bloopers and such. And he can remember dialog from movies seemingly without effort. He's also the younger Lego Man. A master builder with visions and skills that rival professionals.

I sat through a year of violin lessons with Dandylion before getting up the courage to take lessons for myself. Seeing him do it gave me hope that I could learn too. It gave me great joy for four months before finances fell apart and I had to stop. We had fun playing a few duets too. He has music in his soul! I've learned to listen closer to hear the different instruments being played. He plays percussion and those instruments are not always easy to distinguish. But I'm getting better.

My cooking skills are legendary (within my family) having been honed over twenty-four years of feeding hungry children. My patience has increased exponentially over the years. I'm grateful to have learned selflessness through motherhood. And I'm so grateful for all the joy! Especially as my children become my best friends as they reach adulthood.

My only regret is that I couldn't have had five more!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Day Thirteen of Count Your Blessings 2013

Last year we bought a treadmill so we could walk during inclement weather. I used it, maybe twice. I don't like walking on a treadmill. However! This year I'm grateful for it as I'm in the habit of walking daily and when the wind is blowing at 20 mph and the temperature is under 30 I'm not going outside to walk. Also, I've learned to use it so I don't end my walk and fall over due to loss of blood pressure to the brain. Which is always a good thing. To not fall over I mean.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Small Cars

Day Twelve of Count Your Blessings 2013

Today I'm really grateful for my small car. Clearing snow and frost off the windshield is no problem, I can reach the whole thing! I'll leave the clearing of the huge Suburban window to Dr. Hair, who at almost 6'2" can reach it.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Three More Things

Day Eleven of Count Your Blessings 2013

I seem to be incredibly busy this year. And I don't like it. So to catch up (again) here are three more things I'm grateful for.

1. Thermal underwear. Baby it's cold out there!

2. Slow cookers: which make it possible for me to serve a delicious meal even when I have a busy day. Tonight we had Black Bean Chili.

3. Today of all days, I'm so grateful for those who have served, are serving and will serve our country in the military.
  • My father served in the Army Air Corps at the end of WWII
  • My three brothers served in the Army and Air Force
  • My brother-in-law served in the Army in Viet Nam
  • My husband's grandfather served in the Army
  • My husband's father served in the Navy
  • My husband is a Retired Marine
  • My daughter is serving in the Air Force
  • My son is signing up for the US Marine Reserves
  • Uncles, cousins, and friends have served in various branches of the service
All these loved ones and so many more who I don't know have served to keep us free. Not all have served in combat situations, but all are needed to keep things running smoothly. THANK YOU!

Friday, November 8, 2013


Day Eight of Count Your Blessings 2013

I think I said it two years ago, but the miracles of technology continue to amaze me. Last night we "Skyped" with Noble in Korea. It is awesome to both hear and see her through the computer. How does that work? I don't know and I don't need to know. I'm just grateful it does work.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My Understanding Husband

Day Seven of Count Your Blessings 2013
Last night I was so tired and drooping at bedtime that TopDad suggested I just sleep in this morning and he'd put out cold cereal for breakfast. I said no, I need to get up and get breakfast.

Of course when morning came I didn't want to get up and I remembered how sweet he was to offer to let me sleep in so I ignored the alarm and went back to sleep. He is so good to me! He understands my need to sleep in once in a while and lets me. Thank you TopDad.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Day Six of Count Your Blessings 2013

Today I’m grateful for the privilege of voting. Yesterday we had a city council election, four people on the ballot; we got to vote for three. Amazingly I am acquainted with two of the four. Such is life in a tiny town. I’ve participated in every national election since 1976. The outcomes haven’t always been what I voted for, but having voted I have a right to complain, something I feel those who don’t exercise their right to vote don’t have a right to do. Thank God for liberty! 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Now I'm Embarrassed

I guess I wrote my other post only in my mind. I was sure I had posted about this being November and I'd do the whole Count Your Blessings thing again. Oops!

Two years ago I did a month long series of gratitude posts. I enjoyed it and it was a good exercise for me to remember and record all the things I’m grateful for. I missed last year but have decided to do it again this year, even though I’m getting a late start.

So, having missed the first four days of November, I’ll come up with four things I’m grateful for:

1. I’m grateful for the health and strength I have. I have no chronic illnesses or conditions. I've been in the hospital only twice (I don’t count having babies as that’s not a disease!) once at age 5 or 6 to get my tonsils out, and again in 2005 to have an ovary removed. So pretty healthy here. I've never broken a bone, or had to have stitches (other than for the removal of a mole). I have had Influenza twice, the first time in 2008 I was in bed for a whole week and my family was scared I would die. The second time was the next year and I was in bed only three days, and then not again. (I think I've built up an immunity. I've never had a flu shot either.) So I count my blessings health-wise.

2. I’m really grateful for my five physical senses. I love hearing the sound of my family’s voices; beautiful music and singing; birds, the wind in the trees, water as in rivers, streams and waves of the ocean. I get great joy from seeing beautiful things like sunrises and sunsets, autumn leaves, spring flowers, majestic mountains, gorgeous lakes; I love to see my family and friends (and am so grateful for technology to do so); I find pleasure in smelling and tasting good food (sometimes too much), like bread and cheese, fresh summer fruits, thick soup on a frosty night. And I love to touch things, like smooth baby skin, silky fabrics, satiny flower petals, rough tree bark and boulders; I like the feel of beach sand running through my fingers, and kneading bread, and holding my husband’s work roughened hand. To me these senses are gifts from God to experience his goodness and tender mercies.

3. Technology is a huge blessing. With our adult children so far away physically I rely on technology to stay close emotionally. Skyping with them is so fun! Email, Facebook, blogs, IM’s, and cell phones keep up connected. We have so many blessing from God to help preserve families.

4. My own car! Again. We've been a one car family for a long time, about five years, I think. We finally got a cheap, economical, little car for me. TopDad drives a school provided car for work (he commutes between two schools), and Dr. Hair and Dandylion use the family car to get to school and work. Oh, it’s wonderful to have some freedom again, and driving a 5 speed manual is fun! (For those interested, it’s a 1999 Ford Escort, 2 door, 5 speed, red.)


Day Five of Count Your Blessings

I heard the heater kick on this morning and felt go grateful for automatic heaters and programmable thermostats. You know how much I love studying history, but I don't know that I'd want to live history. The father or mother has to get up in the cold and stoke the fire and feed it and wait for things to warm up. I think I truly would hibernate if I had to do that!

Winter is closing in.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Okay, Back to Blogging

Long time readers will remember that I originally began this blog as a public sharing of my weight loss, sort of an accountability project. Which, ahem, didn’t work. So . . .

In June of this year I joined TOPS, weighing about 193 lbs. I say about because I stopped weighing myself when I saw 192, and I know I went up a little bit from there. So far attending TOPS I've lost 26 ¼  lbs and regained 10 ¾ lbs for a net loss of 15 ½ lbs. The “loveliest” number I saw on the scale was 172.8 (which rounds to 172 ¾). I'm looking forward to seeing it again very soon.

October was really difficult to get through. If I believed in evolution, I’d be inclined to believe I descended from a bear. Every Autumn I feel the urge to bulk up on carbohydrates, then curl up and hibernate through the cold, dark winter until the weather warms up with the sun shining longer each day. Alas, I’m a human being and don’t get to hibernate. And I must overcome my cravings.

Attending TOPS really does help; the other women are empathetic and encouraging. And it helps to be accountable, even when I know I've gained weight. So onward and upward downward!

I’ll share a really yummy recipe I make for my lunches (because I’m the only one in the house who likes tomatoes).

Tomatoes and Black Beans
1 onion (tennis ball size, or more or less as you like) chopped and sautéed in 1 tablespoon oil (your choice, I like Olive)
When the onions are soft and translucent add 1 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes and 1 15 oz. can of black beans (drained and rinsed), ½ tsp basil (or any favorite Italian spice) and ½ tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt). Simmer until heated through.
Serve over cooked brown rice. If you like, top with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

For me this is comfort food! Plus, it’s low calorie and high fiber, two things that help me in my quest to lose weight and be healthy.

Friday, October 11, 2013

For the Record

I'd like to go on record with this statement: The biggest challenge we (the world community) face is disobedience to God's commandments, NOT climate change.

I was reading another blog about someone attending a conference in Maine where the guest speaker was some greenie superstar from England and I got to a line that said something about the greatest challenge facing this generation is climate change. WRONG!!!

Climate and weather have always changed, sometimes quickly, other times slowly. It is a dynamic force, ultimately controlled by God.

No, folks, disobedience to God's commandments, with immorality topping the list, is our greatest challenge. The acceptance of activities that were once anathema is proof enough.

Think for a moment about what your city (town, village, neighborhood) would be like if everyone obeyed the original Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17). Life would be calm and peaceful. Our health would improve simply due to less stress! Then there are the blessings that would be poured out on us from a loving God as we honor and obey Him.

I believe that part of our earthly stewardship is to take good care of the earth, using resources wisely and not polluting. We will be held accountable for what we did during our time on earth. But I believe it is arrogant to think that puny humans and their actions control the weather or the climate.

Monday, October 7, 2013

A Different Kind of First Lady

I'd like to see a different kind of First Lady in the White House. 

Wouldn't it be refreshing to see a woman with a large family who practiced the principles of Provident Living. I'd like to see a wife and mother who lives within her means and shows an example of frugality with taxpayers money while in the People's House. I'd like to see a woman who teaches by word and example that the United States of America is a great nation with an eternal destiny to stand as a shining city on a hill. I'd like her to teach that knowing the Constitution and history of our founding is some of the most important knowledge you'll ever learn. I'd like her to be an example of graciousness and kindness, serving others in quiet ways without fanfare or media press conferences. I'd enjoy a woman who teaches virtue and morality, who explains the need for strong families in order to have a strong nation. It would be totally refreshing to have a First Lady who is more interested in what she can do for her country than in what she can get out of her country. I'd like a First Lady to promote Liberty and Individual Responsibility.

I'm rather tired of the First Nanny/Queen who currently occupies the White House.  

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Miss Alaineus

Miss Alaineus is a delightful children's book about a missed vocabulary assignment. (I love children's books.) Anyway, today's post is a bunch of stuff.

A friend gave me a bag of plum tomatoes from her garden. I ate as many as I could in salads (tomato, garbanzo beans, feta cheese) and then made the rest into some delicious soup. I made up the recipe and it turned out fabulous. I chopped up some onion and slowly cooked it in some olive oil (I don't use exact measurements) while I chopped up the tomatoes. Then I added them along with some basil and simmered it for an hour. I mashed it with a potato masher but that wasn't fine enough and I couldn't find my "ricer" so I put it by cupfuls through the blender and that worked great. It was DELICIOUS! Sprinkled a bit of Parmesan cheese on top, dipped in toasted homemade french bread and was in heaven.

The other day I cooked up some chicken quarters, de-boned it all, and put it into containers for the freezer, except one portion for dinner. After some pondering I decided to make a soup. This time Cream of Chicken and Vegetables. I chopped up a carrot, onion, two ribs of celery, and a few potatoes, added some frozen peas, a little bit of thyme and parsley, covered it all with water, brought it to a boil, turned the heat down and simmered it while I made the cream sauce (flour, butter, milk). When the veggies were done along with the sauce I added the chopped chicken, and the white sauce to the veggies, stirred it up and set the table while it was heating through. HEAVENLY! Even Dandylion liked it. Autumn and soup just go together.

We are moved into our new-to-us house. It has many advantages, one of which is the spacious kitchen and working oven. It has fewer rooms but they are larger. Still some work to be done but it's good to be in here before the snow flies. Next projects will be new curtains for my bedroom, the kitchen, and living room.

I began this blog as a way to document my weight loss, but that didn't work and I didn't lose any. In June of this year I joined T.O.P.S. (Taking Off Pounds Sensibly) after reading a piece in the local newspaper about a man who had lost close to 100 pounds. TOPS was touted as encouragement and accountability, which is what I needed. I joined and have lost 15 lbs. so far. There is value in having to weigh in and report each week; not to mention the great women I've met there. I notice a difference in my body, but as I wear loose clothes anyway no one else has noticed. My first goal is another 15 lbs. (Doctor wouldn't approve any more than that) and when I reach that goal I'll set another, 20 lbs. lighter. When I was 42, after having had five children I weighed that much (or little) and looked and felt great. I want to get there again.

I haven't hit the thrift stores for a while, keeping my eyes on the goal of spending less. I did make Noble a cute skirt for her birthday this summer, which she really liked. I promised to make another one in wool for winter. (Still have to set up my sewing room.)

I know I've done some other frugal things, but my mind has gone blank and I don't remember what they were. You understand I'm sure!

Lastly, this Saturday I'm teaching a class at a church women's conference. The class is Cooking with Basic Commodities. I teach three sessions, each 25 minutes long. How am I supposed to cram 30 years of cooking knowledge and experience into 25 minutes? Not going to happen. What I will do is go over reasons why we (well not me) don't cook from scratch, good reasons for doing so, overcoming the obstacles, starting to cook from scratch (The Principles), and then give some resources and recipes to help them on their way. I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Everybody Needs a Good Laugh

On Saturday I was Skyping with Noble (I really miss her!). Behind her on the wall of her dorm room are pictures of Korean Boy Bands and Singers. They are all very lovely to look at. In the course of our conversation Noble mentioned that she has gained weight, but not inches as her clothes still fit. She was trying to figure out what was going on. Our of my mouth popped "You've had too much eye candy and it's making you fat!" She almost fell off her chair laughing.

 It feels so good to laugh!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013


My two boys, Dr. Hair and Dandylion, informed me today that my bread is awesome, the best, incredible; and they want some!!

Remember, I don't have an oven in this house, it is over in the other house. Totally inconvenient. So I promised them that as soon as we are moved into the other house I will bake bread: whole wheat bread, white bread, muffins, pita bread, granola bars, cookies, cakes and other delights. They both hugged me, in fact Dandylion hugged first and Dr. Hair said "Hey, I want a hug too." Dandy asked him "Are you hungry? Come on, Mom Sandwich!" I got squeezed between the two of them. Do you know how strange it feels to have your "little" boys, the babies of the family, taller than Mom and able to squeeze the stuffing out of her? Oh my goodness! I love them both.

Dr. Hair, realizing that TopDad was gone for the day offered to make macaroni and cheese for lunch (Dad HATES that particular dish). It was delicious! And Dandy heartily thanked me for spoiling them with homemade macaroni and cheese, which at one time we called Pasta y Queso to make it sound exotic.

The weather has warmed up enough to feel more like summer, very late summer, but summer. We've had a dribble of rain when we need lots, still I won't complain, we've been so blessed this year.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Last Night I went to sleep in July and woke up in September!

At least that's how the weather feels. I shivered all night and woke up to chilly (relatively speaking) temperatures. It got down to 55 degrees, which after nights of 75 degrees feels cold. Tonight the low is forecast as 47! What happened? It feels like I should get out the flannel sheets and winter jammies.

However, I won't, yet. Because no matter when I get them out we have another heat wave and I regret getting them out so early (even if it's the end of October!).

Honestly, we love this kind of weather and are so grateful for the break in the heat. Rain is in the forecast for next week and we are looking forward to that; I believe I've said before that I love rain!

The boys got home from their High Adventure looking tan and Taller! They grow like weeds. Turn your back and whoops there's another couple of inches.

Noble Skyped this morning (midnight for her) so she could give me a tour of her room and then open birthday presents with me "present". It was delightful. And she liked everything I had sent. Another box is on the way so she'll get a couple more things next week.

JET called today with his birthday wish list. So now I have something to work towards. He'll be 20! Where has the time gone?

School begins in less than three weeks. Yikes! Must keep focused and finish the summer projects.

Hope all is well in your corner of the world.

Friday, July 26, 2013

July's almost over and I'm not done with my To Do list

This has been a busy month. The bathroom is painted as well as the two walls in the kitchen where we removed a huge banquette bench. I've moved all my winter clothes over to the bedroom closet and taken measurements for curtains. Noble's birthday presents are all done and the second box is on it's way. She turns 24 on Sunday. I finally got some pictures developed to send to my Dad who doesn't do email. I've helped with Dr. Hair's film project by baking cakes, breads and cookies for his fund raiser on July 4th, then shopping for costume pieces in Council Bluffs with members of the cast. I've worked in the yard pulling weeds and moving plants around; keeping a dog and two cats fed and happy, as well as taking care of a bird bath and feeder (new to my life this summer).

I've decluttered and taken bags of stuff to the thrift store. Moving is a good time to do that sort of thing. Items I haven't used or even unpacked from the last move are good candidates for removal.

My sewing room is a total mess again and will stay that way until we move out of this house and I can spread it out between the three bedrooms upstairs. I have PLANS! And with space to work in I fully expect to accomplish them.

I've given a lot of thought to my frugal lifestyle. My way of thinking is so natural now that it is automatic, without a lot of thought. The only times I think about it is when I hear what someone else does and I think to myself "That's not the least expensive way to do that." or something similar. When I think about topics for this blog I decide "Oh no one would want to know about that." I wish readers would ask questions that I could answer to give me some direction as to what you'd like to know.

This week Dr. Hair and Dandylion are off to the Scout High Adventure in South Dakota. TopDad and I are enjoying the peace and privacy. Just three short years until it will be like this all the time. Amazing! It took us ten years to get all five of the chuns here; it's only taking six for them to all leave us. (PW left in 2010, Dandy will leave in 2016) By the way, Noble is doing well in Korea. Several airmen (and women) have asked her to accompany them to Seoul because she speaks the language and can be their tour guide. She is happy to do so.

JET bought a zippy convertible sports car, red no less, and has let me drive it a couple times. It is really fun!!! He has a new job as a technician at a Honda dealership. PW is a pesticide technician for the summer earning money for school in the fall.

Everyone is happy, busy and making progress.

Lastly, the weather today is cool, dry with a lovely northern breeze. It feels like the end of September to me, rather than the end of July. But who's complaining, this is perfectly wonderful weather. Supposed to stay like this for the next week, then rain is in the forecast. Lovely!!!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Quarter of a Century

Twenty-five years ago today, TopDad and I were married. The only thing I've done longer than that is simply live. We are in the midst of the first annual Thoelke Family Reunion. It's a tradition I've wanted to have for a long time. With three adult children I figured now was the right time to begin, then the habit will be established that each summer right around June 25 everyone will gather at Papa and Nana Thoelke's for a family reunion, which will include the Thoelke Family Golf Classic.

For our anniversary we are getting a couple of trees to plant in our yard. We did that for our 20th also. We hope we stay here longer and can actually see the trees grow up.

In other news, Noble is across the ocean and the international date line, so I now call her Future Girl. As we are getting up she is winding down her day; when we are going to bed, she is eating lunch the next day. Mind boggling, but fun.

PW is taller than TopDad, JET is still the tallest, Dr. Hair is not far behind, just a bit shorter than TopDad, with Dandylion bringing up the rear, and taller than PFCMom. I'm the shrimp now! But it is fun to be surrounded by five tall, handsome males.

Here's looking at the next 25 years and planning on even better things to come.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Thrift Store Score!

Today's shopping trip was great. At the thrift store I found a punch bowl set, complete with ladle, eight cups and hooks (still in their plastic bag) for $5.00! I was casually looking for one because our little church is hosting a wedding Saturday of a couple who were divorced, have reconciled and are getting married again. I'm providing the drink and I wanted a punch bowl to make it look special.

Also got two Christopher & Banks skirts, one cream linen, fully lined, the other a tan khaki, $2.50 each. My frequent shopper punch card was full giving me $5.00 off the total purchase so it was like getting the two skirts for free.

The other fabulous find was a Spring 1949 Vogue Pattern Magazine. Such gorgeous clothes! When I figure out my picture situation I'll post some pages from the catalog.

Happy thrift shopping to you.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Life in These United States . .

. . . is one of my favorite humor sections in Reader's Digest. Have you read May 2013?

. . .And One from Abroad
When I was pulled over for speeding, I told the officer, "I'm sorry, but the road seemed clear and . . "
"How would you have reacted if Mister Fog had suddenly appeared?" he interrupted.
Annoyed at his patronizing manner, I replied, "I suppose I would have applied Mr. Brake and summoned up Mr. and Mrs. Headlight!"
Enunciating each syllable, the officer repeated, "How would you have reacted if mist ... or ... fog had suddenly appeared?"
                                      Peter Melville, Cornwall, England

I laugh everytime I think of it!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

I Gots the Front Porch Blues

For my entire, I'm talking my whole life, I've wanted a big front porch. I dreamed of it, planned on it, had it on every list I ever made for my dream home, and begged for one. I finally got one. The house my husband bought for us in Iowa (2010) has a wonderful, lovely, perfect front porch. I LOVE it. Except.

Except for the creeps who live next door and also have a front porch and spend most of the time out there smoking their noxious weeds, spewing forth obscenities and generally making nuisances of themselves.

The prevailing wind blows from the south, the creeps are south of us, of course. We tried a bamboo shade but the wind took it out.  Bushes take too long to grow, although I have plans to plant some anyway. Industrial sized fans are too expensive for my meager budget (although that is what I really want so I can blow the stench back at them).

So. . . as the weather warms up and I long to get outside and sit on my lovely porch to enjoy the sunset I'm forced to stay inside with the windows on the south side of the house tightly shut.

The house we're moving into, on the other side of us doesn't have a front porch. Natch.
It's not fair and that's why I gots the front porch blues.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Just a Little Joke I Made Up

What do you call a puppy on top of a dog house?

Piddler on the Roof!

Have a fun day and look for something to laugh about!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

I need training for this?

My husband and I went to a local restaurant for dinner recently. As we entered the door my eye was drawn to to colorful notice on the bulletin board. "Dementia Training" it said. I turned to TopDad and remarked "You need training for dementia? I think I'm doing just fine on my own." We enjoyed a good laugh. My sense of humor seems to still be intact.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Rain in a thirsty land

Last week I had the privilege of assisting at an Iraq-Afghanistan Conference of NGO's (Non-governmental Organizations) and meeting almost two dozen wonderful persons involved in making life better in the war ravaged lands of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The conference organizer, a friend from church, asked me if I was willing to assist in a few tasks such as picking up and taking attendees to and from airports, taking notes, operating the computer/projector, and setting up a Skype call. I told Rick that in a former life I'd been an executive secretary, and administrative assistant so I figured I could handle whatever he needed.

I missed the opening session of the conference on Tuesday while picking up that night's keynote speaker at the airport in Des Moines. Cindy Fogelman and I had a wonderful conversation on the drive back (over an hour). We arrived back at the Danish Immigrant Museum at the end of the introductions, followed by a delicious lunch at the Danish Inn in Elk Horn, Iowa. The afternoon session was time for each representative to introduce his/her organization. This is when I helped with the computer/projector for the PowerPoint presentations.

Dinner was held at a renovated livestock sale barn in Kimballton, Iowa, catered again by Danish Inn. Cindy told the story of her organization's involvement in caring for orphans and street children in Baghdad with a captivating slide show.

Wednesday's morning session included two speakers, the first, Jan Bradley on Sustainability, and then Julie Mierau (former Director of Entrepreneurship at Iowa Western Community College) on Innovation. After a really tasty lunch from Vittles, in Elk Horn, the participants decided to move forward with the breakout sessions planned for Thursday morning. I took notes for the Iraq group.

That night at the Cottonwood Barn we enjoyed another great meal from Vittles and heard Charlotte (Charlie) Ponticelli talk about her experiences working with women's issues in Afghanistan while at the State Department during the Bush Administration.

Thursday morning was a review and wrap-up session. I had to leave early to take Charlie and Allison, another participant from the Denver/Baghdad Partnership, to the airport in Omaha. When I returned to the Museum, everyone was gone except my friend Rick.

I thoroughly enjoyed being with these intelligent, educated, passionate people! My mind came alive and my heart was touched. I hadn't even realized how "dehydrated" I was, but I soaked up the conversation and camaraderie like the proverbial sponge. At each session and meal I sat with someone different so I could get to know as many as possible. At one session Ann Geiger from Sister Cities International was reaching for her bag to retrieve something and I stood up and got it for her. She said "I'm capable." I said, :"I know, but I'm the assistant so I endeavor to assist." We had a good laugh!

Many thanks to the participants: Linda Egle of Eternal Threads, Ginna Brelsford of Ayni Education International, Don McKay of Iraqi Hope Foundation, John and Jan Bradley of The Lamia Afghan Foundation, and Marshall Plan Charities; Mary Baumgarten from Food for Kidz, Ann Geiger, Sister Cities International, Lee McManus representing Council Bluffs, Iowa local sister city; Allison Sharp, representing the Denver Baghdad Regional Partnership for Peace; Adam De Jong from Dwell Earth, Monty Simus from The Bayat Foundation, Cindy Fogelman of The Sponsor Iraqi Children Foundation, as well as Charlie Ponticelli; Ken Choquette; Steve and Randi Nelson from Nathan Hale Middle School; Troy Muller, Pat Crossly and Dr. Scott Smith from New Century Art Guild; and Aseya, college student from Afghanistan (forgive my spelling, I never saw it written).

Thank you Rick for asking me to participate, we can fight over who got the most out of it, but I know I'll win. This was truly a saw sharpening experience for me.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pushing the Envelope

For some time I've been using up a stash of envelopes that accumulated from other things such as cards bought for crafting. Last fall I ran out of "regular" envelopes and couldn't get to the store that minute so I hauled out my box of stationary and cards (the one I had organized and found dozens of envelopes). I've been using the odd envelopes ever since. It makes me feel virtuous and "green". When I finally use up all the oddballs I will go back to buying the regular ones, but until that day I'll stick to pushing my envelopes.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Some Things Never Change

I'm reading a gentle book called Village Diary by Miss Read, the observations of a Headmistress at a country school in England during the course of a year, and came upon this description:

    What I do feel that the modern child lacks, when compared with the earlier generation, is concentration, and the sheer dogged grit to carry a long job through. Teaching through playing is right. It is, in fact, the only way to teach young children. But as they get older they find that any attainment needs application, and fun alone will not bring completion to a project. This is the danger-point. The older generation, resigned to hum-drum methods and a whacking here and there if there were any marked falling-off from hard work, got almost all their satisfaction from seeing the job completed and perhaps a word or two of approval as a tidbit. They were geared, as it were, to low returns for much effort.
    The child today, used as he is to much praise and encouragement, finds it much more difficult to keep going as his task get progressively long. Helping children to face up to a certain amount of drudgery, cheerfully and energetically, is one of the biggest problems that teachers, in these days of ubiquitous entertainment, have to face in our schools; and the negative attitude, in so many homes, of 'How-much-money-can-I-get-for-how-little-work?' does nothing to help them in their daily battle.

Miss Read wrote this in 1957! (The year I was born.)


Monday, January 28, 2013

Downsizing, Minimizing, De-Cluttering, De-Junking, etc.

So far this month I've gotten rid of 145 things. Actually it's more than that, but I didn't list every single piece of paper, and I didn't list every pair of socks and each t-shirt I cut up for rags. But I feel good about getting rid of those things, and without looking at the list, I can't even remember what they all were. That's how excess they were.

Of course, there are still a million (not much of an exaggeration) to go. And this exercise is like peeling a huge onion, finishing a layer simply reveals another. However, having been through my sister's and then my mother's death, I'm determined not to leave my children a mess to go through. I can just hear the laughs and sighs and the complete bewilderment: "Why did she save this?"

I'll just press forward and make weekly trips to the thrift store to donate all the usable stuff for someone else to buy and enjoy. I'm tired of feeling confined by my clutter. I truly want to feel free and light. It's not easy to overcome "keeper" habits. If you know of any good sites that encourage and applaud, please share them.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Wait, is it January already?

I'm still alive. I wish I had one of those devices that Hermione had in one of the Harry Potter movies that allowed her to be in two places at the same time or whatever.

In October I was asked to serve as the President of our church's womens organization, the Relief Society. Those who know what that means know why I haven't been blogging lately.

News: Topdad is having some procedures to ease the pain of his arthritic knees, hoping to put off have total knee replacements for a while longer. School is going well and he is happy with his classes. Noble is in Texas for her tech school before heading for Korea. PW finished his first semester at school in Utah, is now working fulltime and transferring to BYU-Idaho in the spring. JET has joined the USMC and will be leaving for Basic Training in March. We weren't planning on any vacations this summer, but how can we pass up an opportunity to attend a Marine Corps event! Dr. Hair and Dandylion have been sick; Dandy the worst of all. When all my home remedies failed to get him better we took him in and he is getting well on some antibiotics.

Nothing much new on the homemaking front; I'm participating in a decluttering challenge over at Nourishing Minimalism, 2,013 in 2013. It is helping to focus on taking action instead of procrastinating removal of "thing, stuff and junk" from the house and my life.

My frugality these days consists of being mindful of preparing food and using it up, not wasting it. Someday I'll share some ideas.

One thing I wanted to share but can't do more photos yet is the great fabric gift bags I made for Christmas. I'm never going to use paper again. We loved them!

I take just enough time to read my favorite blogs and some news online, answer my emails and that's about it these days. Things in Relief Society are settling into a routine so my hopes are high that I'll be able to get back to blogging regularly, but who knows. Thanks for reading!