Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Orphan Train, an excellent read....

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 I’m the world’s worst about reading trashy fiction, I mostly read silly, vapid romance novels with the same ending, time after time after time!  I seldom read anything of substance, and never read men authors.  Okay, so I’m pretty hopeless when it comes to literature, but for some reason this book appealed to me and it was excellent. .  If you want something this summer that isn’t exactly light reading, but extremely interesting, give this a try.  

Then Google "Orphan Train", even though this book is fiction it does reflect on a difficult time for our country and you will find a lot of interesting information and photos of these children on the trains.   It’s so sad, but in a way, we have come full circle, with all of these immigrant children being flown to foster homes all over the country.  Think how frightened they must be.  Instead of Orphan Trains, we now have Orphan Planes.

Here’s the synopsis:

Orphan Train is a gripping story of friendship and second chances from Christina Baker Kline, author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be. Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse...

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance. Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Abby's Summer Visit 2014...

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Abby has been here this week for her summer visit and we’ve had such a good time.  She’s such a funny little girl, she giggles until she hiccups, she sings, she dances, she’s the most precious little soul.  

The last time we visited her she showed me her Strawberry Lip Smackers, and I showed her my Cotton Candy Lip Smackers that I always carry with me.  She wanted me to have Strawberry, she wanted Cotton Candy, so off to Target we go and thankfully they had both, this was high on her priority list this visit, both of us having the same ones.

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She’s very girly these days, my friend Trish’s granddaughter Hayden came to play, and Abby proceeds to put on every piece of jewelry she brought with her, including her tiara, flower and several flower clip-ons that you can’t see because they are on her ponytail.

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The jewelry didn’t come off after Hayden left, we went for our evening ride on Milly in full regalia.  Oh, she had so much fun that night, waving to everyone we met on our ride.  

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She took one of my shopping bags and she was carrying it around with all of her “treasures” in it.  It was enormous, big and bulky and it kept slipping off her shoulder, so I went into my closet and gave her one of my purses and a matching makeup bag.  It was a big hit and I taught her how to wear it across her body like a messenger bag and it went everywhere with her, even to bed.  Poor Lindsay having to deal with the bag, I don’t think this child and that purse will be soon parted, she just loves it.

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See what I mean, it was always with her.  We were at McDonald’s in this picture where we went every single day of her visit for lunch because she wanted the Happy Meal.  She only ate the fries and drank the apple juice, and freely admitted the only reason she wanted to go was for the toy, but it was fine with us, that’s what Grandparents are for, to indulge their grandchildren.

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Here’s she’s wearing a Railroad Engineer’s cap, watching Netflix.  She quickly learned how to queue up her movies and shows, she has her own Abby profile and was an avid Barbie movie fan.

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She and P-Pa were buddies, they had so much fun with Lego’s.  I don’t know which “kid” enjoyed it most.  And there were also lots of trips to the woods on Milly, because the pirates came again this summer, and put treasures daily in the treasure chest hidden in the rocks.  I have video of this, but that’s for another blog entry.  It's so exciting for her, this ongoing treasure hunt that we do every summer, more about that later...

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She’s a chip girl, tells everyone that Lay’s Classics are her faves, but she does love Ruffles, too.  We were out for a drive, saw a Lay’s truck making a delivery, and of course, P-pa had to turn around so that we could get a picture.  She was so excited to take her picture in front of the truck, it was one of the highlights of her trip.

Abriver

We took her and her ever present bag to the river one evening after bath time.  She loved sitting and watching the boats and wanted to know how we could get down there and get on a ski boat.  The slower boats held no interest for her, she liked the fast ones!

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One day we went to the park with her ever present bag and her Happy Meal.  

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She loved the ducks, named them all and fed them an entire loaf of bread.

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And that was our week.  A whole lotta laughter, a whole lotta giggles and smiles, and most important of all, a whole lotta love.  

Bye for now sweet Abby, see ya’ round a donut...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Don't Go Rafting without a Baptist in the Boat!

 

Jeanne Robertson is without a doubt the funniest woman I’ve ever had the privilege of watching and thiis video is absolutely hilarious.  The more you get into it, the funnier it gets.  I so want to see her in person, I always check her schedule, and there are some possibilities.  This tall, graceful woman imparts humor without vulgarity, a rarity in these days.  And I love how she calls hubs “left brain,” oh Jeanne Robertson you are on feisty hoot of a woman!!!!

Do yourself a favor peeps, take a few, sit back and enjoy this National Treasure.  Jeanne Robertson I heart you!!!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Trader Joe's Ruby Red Chai, just because...

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It’s a cool evening in Heavensville, kind of a fallish tease in the middle of July, if that’s possible.  I brewed a cup of Ruby Red Chai, and oh my, I had forgotten how deliciously wicked this tea really is.  If you’re lucky enough to shop at Trader Joe’s, this is so worth buying.  I’m a Chai Tea lover, and this is the best by far.  I just don’t understand why they don’t come to Heavensville.  I email them monthly.  *sigh*  Sure Jan,  like they really care!  Of course they don't, but I sure will be one happy camper if they ever grace us with our presence.

I was also reading a recipe of a cup of brewed Chai, a lime, some coconut milk and sweetener, blended with ice.  Sounds like a plan when the temps go back to the 90’s next week.  In the meantime, I think I’ll have another cup.  It is caffeine free after all...

You won't believe this 80 year old woman's makeover...

 

She looks absolutely amazing!   You have to watch this, unbelievable...

I did it, I bought a Vitamix!

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I’ve loved the Vitamix for years, drooled over them, read about them extensively, but just could never pull the plug and spend the big bucks.  But a few weeks ago, I decided the time is right.  Hubby and I eat healthy, this is just the next step for our lifestyle, incorporating more nutritious foods into our diet.

But lawdee, I’ve never had so  many people express strong opinions about a purchase in my lifetime.  The reaction by family and friends was either VERY positive or VERY negative. This is not just a blender, folks,  I did the research, I knew what I was doing.

But I had to have a deal, I always want a deal, it’s the thrill of the chase, it’s in my blood.  Vitamix does not discount, ever, period!  The only deals to be had are refurbished or taking your chance with open box ones on eBay.  I plan on never buying another one, just like my trusty Cuisinart from 1978 that is still going strong to this day, and I wanted a good return policy in case the naysayers were right.

4th of July weekend Williams-Sonoma had their annual 20% off Made in America sale.  Well, Vitamix is handmade in Ohio, but when I called them, they said no can do, they never discount Vitamix and there should be a disclaimer on their website.  Well, there wasn’t!  I looked, the customer service rep looked, there was nothing.  So then I nicely asked her if I could please talk to her supervisor.  This isn’t my first rodeo, when something is offered, the company should make good and WS is the best of the best.  It was evening, her supervisor was at dinner, so she took my number, and in an hour she called back and said they would honor the discount and give me free shipping.  SCORE!!!!

But then we were going to the kids for several days to babysit the grands, so I had to delay shipment.  Finally it arrived, the 750 Pro Series, Candy Apple Red beauty of my dreams.  Yep, I got the latest and greatest, the model with all the presets. I’m just doing this once, I wanted the bells and whistles.  I opened it washed it, immediately made hubby a lemonade slushy, then I made a green smoothie (spinach leaves, flax seeds, strawberries, blueberries, almond milk and half a frozen banana, and all I can say is awesome!  Simply amazing!  And as for those presets, a lot of people on the forums say they don’t need them, but you turn it on, walk away, it does the work and you don’t have to guess.  The thing even has a self wash cycle.  Works for me!!!

And what am I making in it today? Salad dressing with ground chia seeds and also soup, cauliflower bisque.  You put in the ingredients, it runs for four minutes, turns itself off and you have hot soup.  And tomorrow who knows, maybe I’ll make almond butter to go with my flax crackers.

And now for the verdict.  I’ll give it thirty days to be sure, but so far the naysayers lost.  This thing exceeds even my finicky expectations. The Gadget Queen hit the motherlode!

What a powerhouse this machine is, better yet, what a deal it was!!!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

HGTV - FIXER UPPER

I am totally  hooked on this show, it’s so refreshing and so much fun to watch.   My friend Barb, who always has great finds, told me about this show  a few weeks ago, so I recorded the series and it’s a winner.  This couple from Waco, Tx, Chip and Joanna Gaines renovate and flip old houses.  He’s the brawn, she’s the brains, the woman just oozes style.

It’s just fascinating what they do with run down homes, they breathe new life into them and the results are amazing.  They finished season 1 and are now filming season 2.  You can catch past episodes on Amazon Prime and Hulu Plus, reruns are on Thursday nights on HGTV, 8 pm cst and you can read all about the houses and view the before and after pictures on Joanna’s Blog, Magnolia Homes.  They knock out walls, open up spaces, their ideas are very fresh and clean.  Joanna decorates with a lot of white and works in vintage artifacts whenever she can.  

At first I had a hard time visualizing them as a couple, but have since decided that they are an interesting mix and often comical to watch.  Joanna is gorgeous, tall and lean and wears wonderful casual vintage/boho style clothes and killer boots!  Chip is a Baylor educated good ole’ boy, who hasn’t grown up and they live with their four kids and various animals, including goats and chickens, in an old farmhouse that they are renovating for themselves.

Here are some details about the ongoing renovation of their farmhouse.  You can watch additional videos about their farmhouse on YouTube. 

 

Below are a few BEFORE and AFTER pictures, the first pictures from Episide 1.

BEFORE:

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 AFTER:

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 I don’t have a kitchen BEFORE picture, but just look at the AFTER:

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 And here’s a before and after from Episode 4 - oh my, this couple has such vision.

 BEFORE:

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 AFTER:

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 BEFORE:

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 AFTER:

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See what I mean?  Simply amazing what they accomplish and such a nice escape on a hot summer evening.

Thanks for the suggestion, Barb, give this a watch peeps, you won’t be disappointed.  I’m looking forward to Season 2, finally a television show that interests me.  ~ Jan

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Childhood Summers

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After the gawdawful winter we just had I said I would never complain about the temperature, regardless of how hot it gets.  And I’m not, but I have been thinking back to my childhood summers.

Hubby and I went for a ride at dusk last night in Tootie with her top down, and the evening sounds and muggy air I was feeling transported me right back to our little house in the country by the ditch.  We lived in a valley and there was always a breeze, but when the dog days of summer hit with a vengeance, there was no escape.  We would sit outside past dark, watching the fireflies, trying to fiend off the mosquitoes, catching an occasional breeze, anything to cool off.  The house was hotter inside than it was outdoors, despite a noisy box fan that did little more than move around hot air.  We would sit in metal lawn chairs with an icy drink in our hands, often watching the headlights from a train on the tracks far away, listening to it's whistle as it wound around the bends in the fields.  A car or two would pass, but country people were courteous, they would slow down so that they wouldn’t blow dust in our yard, and we finally would go inside and sleep in beds pushed next to windows, just trying to get a little relief.

People say you get “used to it.”  Well that’s just not true.  Hot is hot, and sweltering summer days were just endured and I never got used to them.  I remember mother dreading the summers when the farmers surrounded us by corn, there was no relief because the corn blocked the breeze.  But when we had soybeans in the fields around us, it was a good year.   Was life ever really that hard?  Was it? 

A couple of weeks ago, our AC was low of freon and not cooling the house. Oh my, it was so uncomfortable and it was only for a short while until the repairman could come and fix it.  But as a child, we endured months of hot weather.  Mother would always cook despite the heat, she would pick vegetables from the garden and can them in a kitchen so hot you could barely breathe.  The big vats of tomatoes would simmer on the stove, and you can only imagine how much heat that generated.  There was no choice, we lived off the land and the food had to be canned when it ripened.  She would pick the vegetables in the morning, then work at the drugstore all day, come home and can in the evening.  Today’s women thankfully don’t have a clue about that kind of hard work, but in those days you did what you had to do, you had no choice.  She was a remarkable woman, my mother.  She always provided for us and seldom complained about it, she worked so hard and I admire her for that.

Even washing the Ball canning jars was an ordeal.  As a small girl, we didn’t have a pump in the kitchen, only a well on the back porch where we drew water with a bucket.  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have dropped the bucket in the well while attempting to draw water, and mother would have to get grappling hooks and fish the bucket out by it’s handle.  Then she would have to heat water on the stove to wash the jars, drying them with her snowy white dishtowels made from flour sacks that smelled like sunshine from drying on the line.

We were estatic when we finally got a pump in the kitchen, and I’m not talking an electric pump and a faucet.  Oh no, we got a pump with a handle, and we would pump water from the well into a large white enamel bucket with a red rim and a wire bail handle and drink with the long handled galvanized “dipper”  that  hooked over the edge of the bucket.  We didn’t even have a spring fed well, our water came from a cistern, the water ran off the roof into the gutters which fed into the well.  There was a charcoal filter to “purify” it, but the water had to be so bacteria ridden.  We never got sick, our bodies were used to it.

We did have a deep well about a half mile away at the Illinois State Experiment Farm.  We would often take gallon jugs and fill them to drink, the water was much purer from that well than from our cistern.  

Hubby was appalled when he married me, he would never let mother drink the well water after that and he promptly installed running water for her.  It all sounds so primitive, but it was all we had, it was all I knew, and it wasn’t uncommon.  Country people lived that way, no amenities, just the bare basics. 

So I’m not complaining, even though the humidity is high and the temperature is hovering in the mid 90’s, I’m just grateful for a cool house and running water.  But if I could go back for just a day, even in this heat, I would do it in a heartbeat, just to be a child with mother again and relive that simple peaceful life in the country in our little house by the ditch.

 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Store your measuring spoons in a jar...

 

Why didn't I think of this? My measuring spoons are on rings in a big bowl on my counter with my measuring cups, and I have to dig around to find them. Then I use one spoon and end up washing the entire ring.

I have great vintage jars, and when I saw this idea on King Arthur Flour's website, the light bulb went off.

A great little tip for you this morning...

 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

BROW PRODUCTS GONE WRONG!

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I’ve loved makeup my whole life, and have applied it with abandon, probably too much, but I have toned it down in my older years.  That’s not the problem these days, the problem is just getting the correct products on my face.

So yesterday, I’m sitting at my dressing table, I’ve got on my foundation, I’ve got on my eye shadow, getting ready to put my Anastasia Brow Whiz on my fast fading eyebrows, I grab it, start making the short strokes so it doesn’t look like I’ve drawn it on, and holy crap, I grabbed my tight line eye pencil instead and it’s kohl!  So now I have one really black greasy looking eyebrow.

No biggie, I just used my trusty Cetaphil and wiped it off, proceed to fill in my thinning brows with my Anastasia, which is awesome, by the way ($20 at Sephora).  Then I grab my Anastasia Brow Gel to set it in place.  I glide it over my eyebrow, the very same eyebrow that I previously put the black eyeliner on, and holy sh*t, I grabbed the mascara instead of the gel, and have now smeared that all over my eyebrow.  It was actually comical, but that waterproof mascara didn’t come off so easily, and by the time I got it off, my brow was really red.

I just can’t win, maybe it’s time to give it up.  Nah, that would be even worse, Jan + no makeup = scary looking old(er) woman.

Oh, and one other thing.  For the past couple of months one side of my face has been red and splotchy with occasional eruptions.  Don’t you love that word, eruptions, sounds so much better than zits at sixty-four.  But anyway, it waxed and waned, it would start to get better, then come back with a vengeance.  It was so bad that I asked my doctor for an antibiotic script, thinking maybe I had some kind of weird in one spot bacterial infection going on.  Well, that antibiotic didn’t help a bit, I was at wits end, getting ready to call the dermatologist and brace myself for a very spendy visit when I started Googling.

I read that dairy and yogurt causes some people to breakout, too many hormones.  I’ve been in a greek yogurt making frenzy, lately, even though I’m using milk that is “supposedly” hormone free, and I’ve also been eating a lot of cheese, and have for the past year ever since I started my low carb lifestyle.  My friend, Ang, kept telling me that I was eating too much dairy, but did I listen, oh noooooo, I just kept on sucking it down.   So a week ago it all came to a standstill, I quit cold turkey, no dairy at all in any form except for a splash of half and half in my morning coffee.

And???  My face is totally clearing up, and I feel better, lots better physically.  I had been lethargic, napping, not feeling well, but the past week none of that, I just feel better, period.  So I’m thinking that maybe Ang was right and it was the dairy, maybe the allergic reaction wasn’t just on my face but inside my body as well. Ya think?  

So life is pretty good today, now let’s just hope one of my eyebrows doesn’t fall out from all the different products I put on it and scrubbed off.  Geezy Pete, how stooopid!!!!!!

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