Wednesday, November 19, 2014


This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
I love gift giving, but I hate gift choosing--especially for the adults and older children.  I have endless ideas for the eight and under crowd.  Oh, why can't they just stay little forever?

After 37 years of mothering and and 15 years of grand mothering, I have given just about every kind of gift possible. There remains, however, a few favorites for the kiddos that I would consider timeless and have purchased several times--and will probably purchase again when the next round of grandchildren arrive.  I guess you could call them my standbys.

TOP PICK:  Lyra Ferby Pencils.  We replaced crayons way back when Tessa was a toddler, and have not had any in the house since.  Once you the child in your life uses these to draw and color with, you will understand why.  The pigment is so dark.  The leads never fall out.  And they do not roll off the table because they are triangular.  There is also a lengthener available so that you can use the pencil right down to the very bottom.  We actually have some that are only about an inch long and would never, ever think of discarding.  

ANOTHER FAVORITE:  Ed Emberley's FunPrint Drawing Book.  Oh, the endless fun a child can have with his/her fingerprints.  Oh, the endless fun a grandmother can have with her fingerprints.  

AND YET ANOTHER FAVORITE:  Wooden Blocks.  We bought our family set years ago at a curriculum fair.  They were a bit expensive, but worth every penny.  The proof is that twenty years later, they still get played with every time we go to the cabin.

Add to those gifts a large cardboard box and a 25-cent bouncy ball from Old Navy, and you will have one happy kid! I promise.

MY FINAL ADVICE:  Only buy things that twenty years from now, your children and grandchildren have a chance of remembering so fondly that they will want to buy the same things for their children and grandchildren.  That pretty much eliminates 90% of the plastic stuff you see advertised on television.  

And if you decide on the FunPrint book, you might consider this one, too.  Classic.

You can click on any of the photos to check prices or  to purchase through Amazon. If you want to save these ideas for later, go ahead and pin them by clicking on the darling face below!


laugh (verb)
make the spontaneous sounds and movements
of the face and body that are the instinctive
expressions of lively amusement

This word was a bit hard for me because I did not come from a very fun or funny family.  There were many reasons why that was so, but the main one is that my parents were not storytellers.  Gut laughter comes from living a fun life and then developing the stories that go along with that life.  That is the whole premise of the book that I am almost finished writing.  

There was no laughing around the dinner table when I was a child.  As a matter of fact, we mostly were required to eat quietly so my dad could hear the news or a sporting event being broadcasted on the television in the next room.  We children were to be seen and not heard.  

That is probably why we all loved it when the greatest storyteller of all time, our Uncle Tom, would get going.  He was animated and expressive, and we all fully expected his eyes to pop right out of his head.  

He was a Pittsburgh policeman who worked as a beat cop in one of the highest crime areas of the city.  He interacted with lots of interesting people who became the characters in his masterfully told and probably a bit exaggerated stories. 

Many times we would laugh until we cried.  And many times we would beg him to tell another . . . and another.

I realized early on how much I love to laugh--long before I knew that "laughter does good like a medicine."  I actually crave laughter, and am thankful that I inherited the storytelling gene.  It has enabled me to tell myself a good one when I need to.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I love to shop my husband's warehouse for "stuff" that I might get a vision for.  When I first saw this old bedspring, I knew that I could use it for a display at a wedding I was working on.  After the wedding, I really could not part with it.

And just like that, it hit me.  Since rearranging daughter Tessa's room a while ago, I've been searching for the perfect thing to hang over her bed.  The search is now over, and the best part is that it cost me absolutely nothing.  

full shot edited


vocal or instrumental sounds (or both) combined in 
such a way as to produce beauty of form, harmony, 
and expression of emotion.

I do not come from a very musical family and that has always made me so sad.  I love music and wish that I had been blessed with the gift that brings so much joy personally and to others.  My mother's singing voice was actually the worst one I have ever heard--and I've watched a lot of American Idol. 

On the other hand, my grandmother had a beautiful soprano voice and my earliest memories are of her rocking me and singing to me in German, specifically O' Tannenbaum.  
Grandma Mahr with me in March, 1958

My Grandmother was everything good and kind and loving.   She called me Dolly Dimples.  I miss her every day.

All posts from the 31 Words project can be found here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


It really is the best holiday.  What's not to love about a day that focuses on family, food, and gratitude?  Even the colors of the season communicate warmth and love.
This dough bowl was an impulse buy that has left me dealing with some serious guilt.  I am the bargain-hunter type, so when I make any purchase over $100, I usually feel sick to my stomach--for a while.  The only way I could recover from this purchase was to make sure that I found a way to decorate with it each season--I mean really decorate with it.     Then, and only then, could I begin to justify the purchase.  This fall is season three, so I think that I am just about over it.

The mantle got a bit of a makeover, too.  Here's the before fall.

And here is the after.
I love how the nature prints lend themselves to each season, and I have no regrets about painting the mantle.  

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I wanted to decorate the cabin last year, but without having the heat installed, it seemed unlikely that we would actually go there in December.  This year we have heat which means I will definitely be spending time there, so I added just a few things to put us in the holiday mood.

I made garlands out of pompons (Target $1 bin) and by stringing drinking straws and plastic beads (Hobby Lobby).
Next, I wrapped lights around a metal cone that I have been moving around for a few years waiting for an idea of how to use it to hit me.  I placed the cone on a log that I dragged in from the woods.  Because we are not here all the time and our space is tiny, it has made the perfect tree.
I kind of think that Donna at Funky Junk would be proud of me.

I am really hoping to add some decorations to the outside next week when we come to cut down our Christmas tree.  Last year we enjoyed a little bit of snow when we went, and I am praying for a little this year also.

I would love to decorate a bike--if I could find an old one--and put it outside.  

I would also like to add a few decorations to the camper which is now right outside the back door.

Hopefully, I will be posting some more cabin photos next week!  In the meantime, I have some more garland to make.  You should go make some, too!  Kids love it, and it's easy-peasy!


When I volunteered to help with my granddaughter's homeschooling this year, I knew that I needed to create a space that allowed us to focus and work with the least amount of distractions. 
I knew that the room at the top of our stairs would be perfect.  After rearranging the furniture a bit, I painted one wall with Rustoleum Chalkboard Paint in coffee. It took about three coats and had to cure for three days.
Then I chalked the whole wall (according to the instructions) using sidewalk chalk   That did not take as long as I thought it would, but it sure made a mess.  Now I use Prang Hygieia Chalk because it is not nearly as dusty.  Every now and then, I wash down the whole wall using a flat mop.

We absolutely love our space.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


ready to face and endure danger or pain
showing courage

I was either very brave or very stupid as a child.  Maybe I was a bit of both.  If there was a dare, I would take it.  Every time. I didn't care if it involved picking up a snake or swinging from a vine in the woods over a deep ravine or crawling through the window of "the haunted house" or standing up to someone.  Even as an adult I tend to be the same way:  very brave or very stupid.

These photos of my sister and me were taken in 1968.  I was in 5th grade, and 
she was in 4th.  I believe my grandmother gave these matching dresses to us
which was a huge deal since my mother made most of our clothes.   It is 
obvious that I had fashion sense (with the addition of the lovely pin) even then. 
Maybe the true test of bravery was wearing that lovely pin.  *wink*