Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door

We’ve had so much rain lately that everything is so beautiful, green and lush.  The crops are doing really well and ahead of schedule. 

Here’s a few views out my back door.  IMG_3764

If you look across the cornfield to the farm with the silos…you can see the farm I was raised on.IMG_3767

I’ve always had trouble getting things to grow on my deck.  Too much sun and too much wind, but these sun coleus have done very well so far.  I love the different shades of green, especially the neon green of the sweet potato vine. IMG_3760

One night last week we stepped out on the deck about ten-o-clock and the moon was just beautiful peeking out from behind the clouds.   Quiet(no coyotes howling that night) summer nights are great, aren’t they?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ahhh, small town life...

I’ve always live in or near a small, rural Midwestern town. In fact up to this point, I’ve never lived more than 12 miles away from where I was born and am now back to living one mile across the field from my birthplace.

There are so many positive aspects to rural, small town life.

One of those traits being…Everyone knows everyone.

This can be a wonderful thing. If a tragedy or illness strikes, friends and neighbors rally around like no one can imagine. If something out of the ordinary is going on, people tend to notice. Such as, there being a strange vehicle in your driveway loading things out of your house. More than likely someone would call the police knowing it’s not the norm. People just notice stuff and there is some comfort in that.

However, the same “Everyone knows everyone” can be more negative as well.

We live on a state highway just outside of our small town (pop. 1200). We sometimes feel like we live in a fish bowl so to speak. People don’t miss anything.

When we first built our house and didn’t have curtains up yet, an older lady in town who knew my parents stopped me at the post office one day and said, “wow, those are some tall cupboards you have in your house.” Like I said, we live on a state highway, speed limit 55mph and on a curve to boot which means this sweet little ol’ lady was maneuvering a curve on a highway but still looking in our windows. That’s encouraging, huh?!?

If we have people over…”I see you had quite the party at your house the other night” (from a man I ran into in town one day)

A couple of years ago, DH was changing tires on an old pickup truck we had. Said truck sat in our driveway up on jacks for a few weeks while the change was taking place in DH’s spare time. Yes, we had an old pickup truck up on blocks in our driveway for an extended period of time. What of it??? I’ve told you before that I’m a redneck so deal with it! :)  People would ask our sons, friends, whoever why that truck was up on blocks. Does it really matter?

This summer we’ve been moving dirt at our house, leveling what we should have leveled a few years ago. ;) By the sounds of it, this is once again bugging the locals. You think I’m exaggerating? No, not quite. DH & I have both been asked what’s going on. It’s gotten to the point where someone even stopped in at my sister’s workplace in town and asked her. People, seriously! Do you really have to know that bad??? I don’t think I even want to know what the local coffee shop’s “Table of Knowledge” has come up with.

We’ve gotten to the point after all of these years where we’re able to laugh about it (mostly).

This is what our dirt moving looks like. We’ve been trying to think of a really good story(lie) to tell everyone about what we’re doing. DH says to tell people it’s Field of Dreams! If you build it , they will come. I thought we should tell them it’s going to be an inground pool or a Wind turbine site. We might as well make something up. If we don’t, someone else surely will.

Any suggestions on what we say this is going to be? Be creative ~ help us out! ;)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Don’t blink

Life flies by so fast. 

27 years ago tonight these two cute little stinkers came into our lives hooting and hollering!  We haven’t been the same since!

Joe Jon 6 months 001

I remember the pregnancy very well.  Our first son was 15 months old when we found out we were expecting again.  We were a tad surprised at first as we had not “planned” for them to be so close in age but God had other plans and we soon warmed up to the idea.

However, about 2 months into the pregnancy, I kept having an overwhelming feeling that something was different or wrong this time.  I expressed this concern to my doc and got the pat answer “every pregnancy is different”.   I tried to accept his answer.  I really did.  But I continued to have this nagging feeling. 

At my next checkup I mentioned it again and received the same answer from the doc. 

At my four month checkup, yet again, I said something.  Doc finally said to “ease my mind” he would order an ultrasound.  Finally, some action and hopefully answers. 

Ultrasounds were not as routinely used as they are now so I was very thankful to have this test.  The night before the test I was talking with my Mom on the phone and reading to her what ultrasounds could tell us.  I got to the part about multiple births and just laughed and shrugged it off never dreaming that was what was “different.”  

The next day I arrived at the hospital for my test and one hour later I learned I was carrying two babies!  TWO BABIES!  My response was pure laughter as in “this isn’t possible, are you sure?”   The sweet young ultrasound tech assured me that yes, there were two babies in two sacks and I was having twins.  This was also back before we had cell phones so I actually had to wait until I got home to tell DH.  He was as stunned as I was.  We were stunned but thrilled that there wasn’t anything wrong after all, just different.

Three weeks before their due date Jonathan Paul & Joseph Ray were born on June 28th at 10:30pm & 6 minutes later, the other at 10:36pm weighing in at 6 lbs 10 oz and 6 lbs 12 oz.   Lucas was now a big brother.  How many of you parents know there is a huge change going from one child to two children?  We went from one child to three children and the adventure began.

These little guys (who are now not so little at 6’5” tall) have been such a blessing to us.  Of course, they did all the things boys do.

Just to name a few…

toy tractors and trucks everywhere

rough and tumble, beating on each other

a call from the neighbor -- “do you know your boys are on the roof of your house?”

Sword fights with sticks

trips to the emergency room for stitches

a 5 year olds statement at the dinner table one night -- “Wow, do you know how far you can see from the top of the silo?” (never mind the silo was 40 feet off the ground)

on returning from the local drag strip to “observe” the races…
Mom - “How did your truck do?”
Son -- “What do ya mean – I would never race my truck.” (incredulous look)
Mom -- “I know better, how fast did it go?”
Son – “15.2 seconds” (head down trying to look ashamed but all the time pretty proud of his old truck)

Sure, they’ve given us a few headaches and stresses but I wouldn’t give any of it back for the world. 

They are sons we can be proud of!


Joe Jon wedding 2007 001


Coffee dyeing

My sister-in-law and I hosted a bridal shower yesterday for a niece  who is getting married in September.

I wanted to do something,a little momento, that those attending could take home with them.    At our blogger breakfast in May, Joyce made each of us an altered tag.  I use mine for a bookmark in whatever book I’m currently reading currently so I thought I would give that idea a try for the shower.

Using shipping tags, I brewed strong coffee to soak the tags  in.


I’m guessing I left them soak for 30 minutes or so.
Then I laid them on paper towel  and sprinkled coffee grounds on top rubbing the grounds in a little.

It took quite a while for the tags to dry.  I, then shook the grounds off and ended up running the tags under water again to remove the grittiness.  I dried them on paper towel a second time .

Then comes the fun part, I got out scrapbook paper scraps, stickers and all kinds of embellishments and went to town. 
IMG_3735I kept layering until I got them where I liked them.  When they were all done, I tied some fun yarn and ribbon on the tops.  The colors didn’t quite photograph like they actually look but you get the picture, I’m sure.  In the end, there isn’t much coffee dyeing showing but I’m still really happy with how they turned out.

These are a few of my favorites.
IMG_3741 I will definitely do a project like this again.  They’re relatively inexpensive to make and can be changed to go with whatever theme you want.  Now I just have to decide which one I’m keeping back for me. ;)  I should get first right of refusal, not?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Is your “Bling” dirty?

I love silver jewelry but after awhile it starts to looks so dingy.  I get out the ole silver polishing rag but even that doesn’t take care of it the way I would like. 

I used to buy a ready made silver jewelry cleaner but happened to be out and wanted to clean some necklaces so Google here we come. 

I found this great homemade solution that did a marvelous job.

You will need

  • dish detergent
  • salt
  • baking soda
  • water
  • aluminum foil

Line a casserole dish with aluminum foil.  The foil does not have to cover the entire bottom but needs to be large enough to accommodate your jewelry.

Heat 1 cup of water in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Pour into dish.

Add 1 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. dishwashing liquid & 1 tsp. salt to the dish.  Swirl around to mix together.

Place your silver jewelry in the solution and allow to set for 5 – 10 minutes.
IMG_3642 Remove the jewelry from the mixture and rinse with cool water.  I used a strainer so I didn’t lose anything down the drain.  Not that that’s ever happened before.  Nope, not me!

Buff with a soft cloth or jewelry cloth and your silver jewelry will look like new again!


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From my porch this morning

We’ve been warm and humid here in Northwest Illinois the last few days which has led to some rowdy afternoon/evening thunderstorms but it’s also meant some beautiful mornings for us.
This was the view from our front porch this morning as the sun was coming up through the haze.  IMG_3750
IMG_3752  IMG_3751   IMG_3756 Mr. Outside Cat, my photography assistant.

Sunday ride

A couple of weeks ago, we took off for a day ride up into southern Wisconsin. 
Our riding companions for the day, Scott & Teresa.
We dodged a few rain clouds on the way up which altered our original destination but that’s alright because we really didn’t have much of a destination anyway.  Instead of going north, we went more northwest.  That works!  It’s all good when you’re on a motorcycle.  It’s more about the ride than where you’re going.
There are some beautiful rolling hills in Wisconsin
IMG_3673 and nice little farms.
IMG_3687 In the picture above, if you have great eyes and look really close, overtop of the house back in the field is the modern-day counterpart to the old windmill.

We stopped at  Yellowstone Lake to take a break.  It was a cool day so there weren’t many out on the lake.
We saw a fun dragonfly.
IMG_3663 I was surprised he let me get so close and didn’t fly away.
We kept a pretty close eye on the sky as it was forecast to rain more late afternoon.  We saw it clouding up to the northwest and thought we better start heading home although we weren’t in any particular hurry.  The clouds looked to be a ways off yet.  In fact, at one point, we even decided to stop for ice cream.  Isn’t that what bike rides are about?  Lunch and stopping for ice cream?

After we ordered ice cream, the thunder was getting louder, the lightning much closer and the storm looked like it was moving in faster than we had anticipated.  We split paths with our friends at that point and all hightailed it for our respective homes.  We headed south and thought we could beat the weather until we turned towards the east. 

Ruh, roh!  No rain yet and we have ridden through our share of storms but I can truly say this was the worst side wind (including Wyoming winds)and the most we have ever leaned into a wind ever.  I tend to panic a tad faster than DH but he even thought we were going to go over.  We turned south again towards home, 4 miles to go and the trees were literally bending right behind us as we passed. 

We got home, put the bike in the garage and as the garage door was shutting the wind was blowing stuff under the door and the rain started pounding.   That was a little too close for comfort. 
(This was when the storm was building.  I was a little, uh, occupied when it was closer to us)
And the moral of this story is…
when faced with the dilemma of storm clouds versus an ice cream hankering?  

Always, most definitely, always go with the storm clouds! :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Monday question of the day

I haven’t posted a Monday question of the day for a while and I’m in need of some inspiration.

I am helping decorate for a niece’s wedding reception in early September.  We have most of the decorations planned out already but thought there may be a great idea out there that we haven’t thought of yet.

Her colors are lime green(predominant) & orange.  When I asked her what she saw her reception looking like, she said “rustic elegance”.  She was also quick to specify rustic, not redneck.  :)  I’m not so sure she trusts her Aunt Lori sometimes(teehee).  The reception will be held in a large metal building at the local county fairgrounds.

When you hear the term “rustic elegance” what do you think of? 

No right or wrong answers, just looking for more inspiration.  I know you all have great ideas so please load me up with with comments. :)

Sunday, June 20, 2010


See this guy?
IMG_3647 Yup, I love him!  Great husband, good Dad, fun Grandpa, Servant’s heart.  Yeah, I think I’ll keep him.

Happy Fathers Day baby!

From quilting to bulldozers

A few weeks ago I had a first in the world of quilting.  My friend, Joyce does some beautiful quilts using a paper piecing method.  I mentioned to her that I would like to learn and would she show me sometime.  Another friend had also asked about it so she decided to host a paper piecing night at her home.     There were four of us beginners there and Joyce, our very patient teacher.  She picked a simple (my request) pattern for us to do and sent us a list of supplies to bring.   What a fun night!  I must have been so busy sewing that I forgot to take pictures of the process but here is the end result.
IMG_3586 Isn’t it interesting how fabric choices can make the same pattern look vastly different?  Mine (top right) has a more modern feel.  I loved these fabrics which is new for me as I usually lean more towards country rustic fabrics.  Eventually, it will be a wall hanging in my sewing room.  Eleanor’s (top left) has a very traditional look.  I could see it on a sofa in a living room.  Gwen’s (bottom left) looks so soft, maybe for a bedroom.  Shelly’s (bottom right) just screams summer to me.  I love the fresh fabrics she used.

What does a bulldozer have to do with this you might ask?  Not much really.  DH has been doing some bulldozer work here at the corner.  He came in one night and out of the blue asked if I wanted to run the dozer.  Huh?!?  Me?!?  Honestly,  it was never anything that crossed my mind or was on any bucket list I might have ever had.  But he asked, and it was a beautiful night so what the heck right?  I can’t screw it up too much other than maybe run into the shed.  No worries, I didn’t. 
IMG_3612 It was actually a lot of fun!  Am I or will I ever be proficient at it?  No, uh, probably not, but  it was still fun and look at the cool designs it made in the dirt when I spun around! 
IMG_3618 Now that I could get excited about it!  Wouldn’t that make a great quilting design?!?  I said that exact thing to DH and he just walked away shaking his head.  I guess he wasn’t seein’ it. :)


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gross or not – I have to share

DISCLAIMER:  If you’re easily offended by bodily function talk, STOP reading now.  Remember I raised three boys, so there aren't too many sounds, functions, etc that I'm uncomfortable talking about. :)

If you’re continuing to read anyway as I know most of you are, just because you’re like that.  I apologize in advance for offending you if I do.

I’ve been dealing with a nasty summer cold which is finally on the upswing.  You know how it goes at the end of a cold, when you can blow and blow your nose but when you breathe in, you can feel more still up there and somehow, you just can’t quite get rid of it?  I know you do, even if you’re too ladylike to admit it.

Anyway today at work, being at the tail end of this cold, I was blowing and blowing my nose because of that exact situation.  My boss who is across the hall from me, yells “Good grief, is everything okay over there?” 

#1 - yes, we do yell across the hall to each other frequently.  I know, real professional, huh?  But hey, it works for us.

#2 – he really wasn’t concerned as much as he was giving me a hard time about it.

Our relationship is pretty relaxed like that.

Anyway, I told him that DH tells me to just do a “farmer blow”.   But I can’t quite bring myself to do it.  For those of you who don’t know what that is…it’s kind of a guy thing when they’re outside…they hold one nostril shut and blow as hard as they can without a tissue or handkerchief.  They basically blow it into the air, on the ground, etc.  Remember, I warned you this post was gross!

So, my boss shares with me, that he didn’t know what a “farmer blow” was until a couple of years ago.  In his defense, he was raised in the Chicago burbs and they called it something else…
a snot rocket!  yes, a snot rocket!

Oh my goodness, I practically fell out of my chair laughing.  I’d never heard that description!  
It does create a much better visual now doesn’t it???

Now, that' I’ve removed any doubt, if there was even a shadow of one remaining before this post, that I’m a hick,
gross-ness over.

Have a wonderful evening!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Whew! Whataday!

We left home this morning at 7am Indianapolis bound.  13 hours and 600 miles later, a couple of sore backs and tired butts and we’re back home again.

We made a purchase on eBay on Friday and today was the only day we had in the foresee-able future to pick it up.

IMG_3717 (picking up our purchase in a shopping mall parking lot) :)

I don’t think I’ll share quite yet what the purchase was.  I will tell you though that if everything falls into place, it’s going to be really cool and a whole heckuvalot of fun!

We hit an incredible thunderstorm on the way home just  inside the Illinois state line near Champaign.  Unfortunately, I was driving when it hit.  I don’t particularly care for driving in heavy downpours when you can barely see in front of the vehicle, especially not while pulling a trailer.  I pulled off at an exit for a few minutes, then DH drove again.  He left a little earlier from our “safe spot” than I would have as it was still raining, blowing and lightning really bad.  I think it was a guy thing just to show he could.  I, on the other hand was freaking out!  Yup, we had a moment of pure marital bliss but it was 4:30pm so we should have expected it!  For years, when we travel there is something about 4:30 in the afternoon.  I don’t know what it is, but we tend to get on each others nerves about then.  Now, when that happens, one of us usually points to the clock and we both start to laugh. 

It seemed like we dodged raindrops on and off the rest of the way home.
We saw these clouds about 25 miles from home.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like them before.  I’m sure there’s some long fancy-dancy name for them but I don’t know what it is.  I just thought they were cool being all wavy like.  They reminded me of that nasty itchy angel hair stuff we used to use at Christmastime.
IMG_3731 IMG_3724 IMG_3726 Please excuse the blurriness.  “Someone”  didn’t want to stop so I could take pictures. :(

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  I’ve had so many photos and posts rolling around in my head but don’t seem to find the time to post anything.   Slowly but surely, I’ll get everything out there.  So much to say and so little time! :)