Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kenny Rogers Concert

So -- how did a young, hip, happening chick like me end up in Bloomington, Illinois at a very geriatric Kenny Rogers Christmas Concert??


Serendipity. You've gotta love it...

Here's what happened....

I was SUPPOSED to drive to Chicago that morning. I was really looking forward to attending the exciting One-Of-A-Kind Show at the Merchandise Mart (more about that later), but I was struggling with a stomach bug....I decided the night before that me driving to Chicago was not a good plan.

At Noon, my sister Deena called and said she and Nicole (our niece) were driving to Bloomington to see Kenny Rogers. Nicole has a strange obsession with Kenny Rogers. (she calls him her boyfriend). Deena checked online and there were MANY tickets available (shocking, eh?). Nicole works at a bank, and it's a two hour drive...so we'll have to eat in the car...we'll buy tickets at the door.... c'mon...LET'S JUST GO....

I told Deena I wasn't feeling well. She said Nicole would do the driving...I could take a nap in the back seat...I took a pass....

Kenny Rogers was my Mom's favorite singer. I smiled when I remembered how, in 1994, Mom bought tickets for all of her girls -- and we drove down to Peoria (six of us packed in her Cadillac) to see his Christmas concert. He was amazing. We had such a wonderful time.

Mom died two years later....

Life is like that. None of us could know on that day that the six of us would never again be in a car together. Ever.

In 1994, Mom was 65 years old. The same age I am now. Yikes.

I called Deena back -- and the three of us drove down to Bloomington.
Nicole was, of course, the youngest person in the room.  AND if it hadn't been for HER -- Deena would have been!

The years have not been kind to Kenny. He is very thin and frail.  His lead guitarist's big job is making sure the stool is behind Kenny at all times... And he really cannot sing. But we didn't care. They could have played his CD's (and maybe they SHOULD HAVE)...

We had a wonderful, terrific, memorable, great time that night.

We bought seats in the second row!!  ($47 each)  It wasn't exactly a sold-out crowd.
Linda Davis is touring with Kenny. Did you know her daughter is the lead singer in Lady Antebellum?

Maybe it was the five glorious hours in Nicole's van...driving down and back. We caught up with each other's lives...and we talked about everything under the sun. The frustrations of the holidays and our respective people.  We laughed...and talked about the old days...and discovered some nowadays things we did not know.

The three of us had THAT kind of  visit -- the kind that only happens during a road trip...

Keep up the good work, Kenny.  It can't be easy -- but I'm glad you are still touring!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Snowflake Shower Curtain

Our bathrooms are small. That's fine with me. But that means the shower curtain makes a MAJOR STATEMENT...and I like to change-it-up every now and then.

This is what our shower curtain used to look like...
I jazzed it up with t-shirt fringe at the top, and a beige panel at the bottom...(more fringe)
Taking the shower curtain DOWN to wash it is a lot of work. So, I usually add another t-shirt panel...
If I remove one -- I add something else....
Like most things in my house, the shower curtain is an on-going work of art. Humm...That's an odd phrase, I think. An on-going work of art. Maybe it's just another way of saying CHANGE IS GOOD. Everything changes. People change, our taste changes....doesn't it? Our likes and dislikes, the jobs we do, the things we enjoy, the music we listen to. Change happens whether you like it or not. So you might as well embrace it.

Which brings me to my winter shower curtain. I once bought a snowflake shower curtain -- (75% off in February) because it went with the snowflake rug.
As a part of my "Mugs and Rugs" decorating campaign, this rug comes out right after Thanksgiving.

But the shower curtain was too short...and after mopping up several big wet puddles -- it came down and was packed away.
This year, I was excited to find the shower curtain at the bottom of a box of Christmas ornaments -- because I realized there was an easy fix to the problem...and I can't believe I didn't do this years ago...
I cut off the handkerchief hem of a blue glitter formal (quarter day at the Goodwill)...and sewed it on to the bottom of the shower curtain.  I DECLARE IT PERFECT...I think it even looks like show!!

I made no attempt to make the hem "straight". I simply used the finished edges to my advantage...and I like the pooling affect. It gives the shower curtain enough weight -- so it stays where it belongs. No more puddles...
I put up my new reconfigured shower curtain, and was very pleased. The next day, Lillian came for a visit. She came out of the bathroom with a scowl on her face and said, "the bottom of that shower curtain looks like my favorite dress-up dress."


Monday, December 15, 2014

Spot Cleaner

At TMBC, our conversations travel ALL OVER THE PLACE. We always have the BIG three: Family, friends and feelings.

We like day trippin'...this was us at the Hoover Presidential Museum.
Of course, some of us have more exciting lives than the others.  Recently, Linda P.  (blue jacket) got back from a trip to the Panama Canal!! We were all looking forward to her report.  Right now, Sharalan (orange top) is doing her winter-in-Texas thing (nobody ever wants to hear about that)....

And we always share lots of sewing, laundry and cooking. Just about anything that would make it onto a  seven-days-a-week dishtowel...

Recently, Sandy (red jacket) shared a SPOT REMOVAL recipe she got off Pinterest. It worked wonders on her favorite pair of pants. There were some strange spots that would not yield...no matter what she tried. The bad thing was that before she saw the stains, she washed the pants and put them in the dryer.  The kiss of death...(once you bake in a stain, the only remedy is to applique a flower over it....)

BUT THIS WORKED...and I am delighted to pass it on to you.

1 tsp Dawn dish detergent (MUST BE DAWN)
3 - 4 tablespoon hydrogen peroxide
2 tablespoons baking soda

Mix and apply with a brush.
Wash as usual. Should be good, if not repeat.

******************
Sandy used an old toothbrush -- and one treatment did the trick!!

I figured with the holidays upon us, a good spot remover recipe might come in handy. Remember -- your best defense is AN APRON!!


(Laura, I hope you didn't throw away Jim's shirt...give this a try and let me know if it works)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Smart Phone Update

Okay. I did it. I got rid of my Smart Phone. Really, I did.

I can't remember when I got my first smart phone, but I went through two Blackberry's, a Samsung and a Motorola Droid.  The apps and features just kept getting better and more addictive.  I loved reading my email...I loved talking my texts...using it to check in at the airlines....the Northwest app was great...I loved reading the New York Times....looking for restaurant reviews.....I totally relied on the excellent GPS....I would look up JoAnne Fabrics coupons as I walked in the door...
This is a seriously cool piece of technology....life changing....

Oh, yeah,  I completely understand the benefits...AND I LOVED IT.

SO WHY DID I GET RID OF IT?? At some point, the HATE overwhelmed the LOVE.

Of course, I hated the BILL every month for the data plan.  That was annoying.

But mostly, I hated the behavior, the addiction, and the rudeness.

This has become a serious issue in today's world.  I can remember when people used to TALK TO each other -- in doctor's offices, waiting rooms, airports -- NOT ANY MORE...we're all absorbed by our cellphones.  There is no interaction.  Ever. 

One of my particular pet peeves is when I see young parents playing on their phones and completely ignoring their children.  I've witnessed this behavior in restaurants, in parks, at McDonald's, at the Children's Museum, the library, while driving a car...IT HAPPENS EVERYWHERE....All the time.  In every city and town in America.

How about this?  TURN YOUR PHONE OFF WHENEVER YOU ARE IN THE VICINITY OF A REAL PERSON...ugh...

The truth is,  I was falling into some addictive behavior myself.  If I had a spare minute any where, any time, any place -- I was checking my phone.  For what?   Like most people -- the stuff I was looking at was garbage.  Absolute.  Total.  Garbage.  For example -- Facebook postings of pictures of meals being eaten by people I barely know??   Or yet another email from a Mexican Viagra pharmaceutical company.

The stuff that was coming to me via my SMART phone was really, at the end of the day, completely STUPID....and a total waste of time.  My time.  Your time.  EVERYBODY'S TIME...

WHAT ARE WE DOING, PEOPLE??

And if you are playing GAMES on your smartphone -- you are missing your real life.

Last spring, I was sitting in the waiting room of Lilly's dance studio.  There were two Grandmothers and four young Moms.  I had a lovely conversation with the other Grandma.  But the four Moms were all on their phones.  Emma (3 years old) was having a hard time.  She started to cry, and the teacher sent her to the the wall.  Emma totally melted down.  Crying, she kept looking towards her Mom. Who was sitting right next to me -- playing Angry Birds on her phone.  She was so involved in the game -- her child's crying did not register.  Long minutes passed....Another Mom poked her -- and when Emma's Mom finally looked up,  she said, (very annoyed)  "what happened?"

I'm thinking, ""your daughter realized 5 minutes ago that a meaningless video game is more important to you than she is."  THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED, YOU IDIOT.

I wanted to stand up and scream:  YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF. 
  
Clearly, if I'm going to judge -- AND I AM -- I need to put my money where my mouth is.  Or rather, I need to NOT put my money where the smart phone is...

************
Next Saturday, I'll give you an update...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Warren and Num Num...

It is amazing to me how a non-verbal toddler can communicate EVERY important thing that matters to them. When Warren is tired, he hugs his comfort blanket, walks down the hall, and repeats the phrase, "nite-nite"....
And when he's hungry, he goes to the table and says, "num-num"
AND THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE. By the time he is doing the num-num dance, he is apparently on the verge of starvation -- and there is no time for any complicated food prep. (like boiling water.)
So, whenever I have leftovers -- I freeze them in little sandwich bags...
The secret is to freeze everything FLAT...so all I have to do is break off bits of mashed potatoes and flat pieces of gravy...
The freeze-leftovers-flat-in-a-sandwich-bag is a GREAT tip. It takes less than a minute in the microwave. PERFECT.

Homemade mashed potatoes can get watery after freezing...just add a few instant potato flakes.
This is Warren, with a non-verbal message -- 'GRANDMA, YOU ARE THE BEST.!"

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Quilts of Valor

Quilts of Valor is an organization I heard about because of John. It was an honor for me to write a story about them for Inspired To Sew magazine.

Here is a link to that issue.   (I hope you also enjoy the interview I did with Mary Mulari!)  I would encourage you to GET INVOLVED. They are a genuine grassroots organization, with thousands of volunteers all across the country.

John introduced me to Terry Austin, the local coordinator.  She invited us to attend their Veteran's Day event, when they awarded 25 quilts at a ceremony in Rock Island, Illinois. Here are some pictures of that day, and their beautiful quilts. It is a wonderful thing they're doing...
Terry Austin and John.  She was a terrific emcee...
There was a large audience...
Veterans from Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan...
The Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines....
Each quilt was lovingly draped on the receiving veteran....
THEN, they had patriotic cupcake refreshments...
A large group picture. 
The only WW II veteran being honored on this day was Lillian -- who was a WAVE in the Navy.
While John was comparing good old Navy days with Lillian, I was visiting with her granddaughter. On her 90th birthday, Lillian went sky-diving....

I only met Lillian briefly, but she made a big impression.  I would LOVE to hear more about her life...because I am quite sure she is an extraordinary woman.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

First Snowman of the Year

I took this picture last year -- after our first big dump of snow. Lillian and Memphis quickly made TWO snowmen. After adding the accessories, one was a snow "woman".
It was a sunny day, and the snow packed BEAUTIFULLY...
BUT -- this year -- our first snow came the week BEFORE Thanksgiving. Along with some bitter cold temperatures.  There was only an inch or so...and the snow was so dry, you couldn't even roll a snowball...
Lilly wanted so badly to "make a snowman"...I told her we'd have to roll a snowball for three hours before it had any size to it...and it was TOO COLD to be outside that long...
I decided the answer was to bring the snow inside....so we scraped some off my car.  It filled a mixing bowl.
Then, I just let her play with the snow.  She tried making popsicles, and sticking them in a muffin tin, with some food coloring...
After an hour or so, the snow packed great -- and she WAS able to make a snowman!!
She used popcorn for the buttons.  And then, there was some kind of elaborate popcorn creation...with snow, and food coloring, and left over Halloween candy...DELISH!!
The arms, of course, could be toothpicks...
Lilly was very pleased with her own little Olaf snowman...and he is seems very happy living in our freezer...