Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Illinois Weekend

We spent last weekend in Illinois visiting our friend Stan.  We offered to help him with chores around the house and yard, and he had a "few" things lined up.

Stan is afraid of heights so he asked me to help clean gutters.  He raised an extension ladder, and I VERY CAREFULLY climbed to the gutters at the top of the second story of this 100-year old house.  And if that wasn't tough enough, I had to use a screw driver to remove screws from and raise the gutter guard.  VERY SCARY!

Stan and I planted herbs and did general yard work while Mike fixed stuff.  All of our friends and family know that Mike can fix stuff, and so there are usually chores lined up for him.  During our weekend visit, he worked on Stan's pickup truck and minivan and repaired a toilet.

We all made a trip to Champaign to visit with niece Meghan who is a junior at University of Illinois.  We enjoyed learning more about her student life where she majors in music and is a member of the Illini Marching Band.  She plans to spend two months in Costa Rica this summer in a Spanish immersion program and will teach music in grade school or middle school upon graduation.

Ferret shampoo. No Tears Formula.

While we were in Champaign, Stan wanted to visit a pet store he has frequented since attending vet school at University of Illinois.  While he spent time visiting the owner, I saw a few interesting products on the shelves...

Who knew there was a ferret beauty market?
Patio furniture?

And a bed?
Bird snuggle sacks?

Turtle eye drops

We had a great weekend with Stan.  We completed lots of chores, but we also had great conversation and laughs along the way.  We talked a lot about our dear friend Mary and shared memories of her throughout the weekend.   We really miss her, and it's so hard to get used to her not being here with us.

And here are a few of the many flower pictures I took last week:

I am very excited that an article I wrote was published on the Retirement and Good Living web site.  It's titled "Retiree Speak", and you can find it here:

And on a final note, I would never recommend following the future...

Take care and have a great week!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

April in Indiana

April in Indiana is all about color.

Yellows, purples, oranges, pinks, and the greens that transport me to Ireland.

I can't really breathe well with all the trees in bloom, but it's totally worth it for the color.

Here's a few pics I've taken while walking the neighborhood this past week...

Outside the kitchen window

Winding creek

Last week we had a great day with our friends Kevin, Kathy and Stan catching up on life and enjoying the sunshine and fresh air.
Kevin, Kathy, Stan, Diane and Mike

The guys

And who doesn't love celebrating their birthday?  Yesterday was a great day of food, friends and music!  First of all is the best chocolate cake in the world.  Taylor's Bakery in Indianapolis makes a fantastic chocolate ganache cake!  Wow!  Even I can get chocolate overload from this cake.

We enjoyed lunch in Broad Ripple at one of our favorite restaurants: The Monon Food Company.  It was a great day to sit outside and enjoy people watching and of course our favorite tacos: Jerk Chicken and MoFoCo Pork!

Our good friend Chuck joined Mike and I for a birthday dinner (thanks for cooking, Mike!), and then we made some music with Chuck and me on guitars and Mike on keyboards.

And then there were the  weird signs I see along the way...

Best stick figure decals ever!  
I had some time for a bit of craft work this week...

Another wreath

Some bead work

Another wallet

What can I say?  Potato chip with a hole in it!

And just because I celebrated a birthday, do I have to act my age?

I hope you are enjoying a beautiful April wherever you are!


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Raspberries, flowers and exorcists. Oh my!

Ok, you might say it was an unusual week.

It started with our Easter baskets.  Hey, who said adults can't have an Easter basket?  Mike and I have a tradition of making each other a basket, but this year things took a new twist.  Chocolate and raspberries go together well, don't they?

We found this wonderful little artisan chocolate store in Carmel, called Chocolate for the Spirit.  The chocolate is handmade daily in small batches, and let's just say it's amazing!  I guess I should have taken a picture of the bunny earlier before the head was removed and eaten...

In 2010 I bought Mike several raspberry plants, and he created this wonderful garden in our back yard. Well, over the years we've neglected the garden somewhat with remodeling and selling my house in Des Moines, re-building a screen porch.

 And then there was the Fall when the lawn service people unexpectedly cut down all the raspberry plants (were they thinking weeds?).  So the garden needed some help.

3 new Heritage and 1 Latham Red Raspberry plants

I bought Mike 4 new raspberry plants to help fill out the garden.  And I thought this was an easy gift;  just plant them and go.  Somehow things are never that easy.  Mike thought we needed to fertilize the soil, and next thing you know we have the soil testing kit out.  I didn't know we had a soil testing kit in the garage!  But before you know it, I'm getting soil samples out of the garden and Mike is testing (playing with chemicals?).   After testing for ph, nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, we bought  fertilizer, and we added 3.5 cups of sulphur and 3 cups of 12-10-10 fertilizer(proportion of nitrogen to phosphorus to potassium)  to approximately 150 square feet of garden.  

Mike testing the soil

Mike worked up the soil, and planted the raspberries while I rebuilt the "rabbit fence" which had worn down over the years.

Planting the raspberries
Chopping up the soil

After researching how to prevent weeds in this garden, we decided on pine needles which allows the soil to breathe and it adds valuable nutrients like calcium, nitrogen and phosphorus. And it just so happens that we have plenty of pine trees in the backyard to supply this free mulch.
New green plants in middle and older canes on right.  Covered in pine needle mulch.

We are looking forward to some wonderful raspberries over the coming months and years.  

And if you are at Lowe's buying fertilizer, why not pick up some pansies?  I love the bright color of pansies and the fact that they can withstand the cooler weather in the Spring and Fall.  So I filled a few planters, and I am SO happy to look outside and see the first beautiful flowers of the season.

And oh yes...the exorcist.

At our church's bi-weekly session called "Pizza with the Pastor" we heard a riveting talk by Father Vincent Lampert on exorcism and demons.  Father Lampert is one of 50 Catholic priest exorcists in the United States, and he officially holds that post for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  He has been an exorcist for 10 years, being trained in Rome where he participated in 40 exorcisms.

He discussed the various types exorcisms from infestations where there are inexplicable sounds or smells in the house to demonic possession where an individual may have superhuman strength, speak in other languages or growls like animals.  He showed us his exorcism kit consisting of holy water,  a crucifix and book of prayers.  He described witnessing a person levitate and an individual speaking in 7 voices at one time.  He read us the prayers he says during an exorcism and how he asks the demon to identify himself.

It was a chilling presentation, and Father Lampert entertained many questions from the 100 people in attendance.  He ended his discussion telling us that we should not sleep uneasily that night as God is stronger than demons.  Although I understand and believe that, I immediately locked the car doors when we left the church.  And I shut all the blinds and curtains in the house and set the alarms system when we arrived home.  As if that would help...

If you are interested in learning more about Father Lampert, you can find articles and You Tube videos by searching on Google.  

Wreath ingredients.

And last but not least, here are a few creative endeavors I attempted this week:

I have always wanted a wreath on the front door, but the typical wreath hangers would not fit. So Mike made one out of leftover stainless steel from our last grill.  Yes, he used the plasma cutter, metal bender (called a "brake") and belt sander to make this wreath hanger.  And then he painted it to match the door. It's lovely.

So of course I needed a wreath. After pricing them for $40-$50, I decided to try my own hand at a wreath.  I purchased a grapevine wreath and garland of flowers at JoAnn's for $10.  Using green florist wire, I attached the flowers to the wreath about every 3 inches or so.  I found a couple of ribbons in my supplies and this was possibly the most difficult part of the wreath: tying the bow. The wreath looks great on the front door.

Finished product.  Note that great wreath hanger.

Inside of wallet

And I tried my hand at a small fabric billfold that I could carry in my jeans pocket when shopping or anytime I didn't want to carry a purse.

 Looking through my fabric stash, I found a couple of coordinating fabrics and began cutting and sewing.

Outside of wallet
Folded wallet with elastic surround.
Maybe it's not the best sewing job ever, but I'll get better with practice.  I finished the wallet and tried it out yesterday.  It easily carried my license, credit card, insurance card and cash.  I love it!

So, it was a strange and crazy and informative week.  So life goes...


Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring finally arrived!

It was a long winter.  When people ask me what I've been up to, I pause and think about it for awhile.  Let's see.  Sitting in front of the fireplace with Mike and our cat Gilbert each evening.  Sewing once again after Mike researched and fixed my broken sewing machine.  Reading and visiting friends and family.

Nothing major really.  Just living.

I admit this goes against my strong work ethic with a need to accomplish something each day.  But I'm trying to enjoy just living,  and sometimes that means you can't point to a big accomplishment at the end of each day.  Not an easy thing to learn really...

I recognize that I've had another case of cabin fever this winter.  How do I know?  I am SO HAPPY now with sunshine and warmer weather!  And people are smiling everywhere, so I know I wasn't the only one with a case of the winter doldrums.  People are outside walking, jogging, biking and sitting outside at restaurants.  Even construction workers seem to have a spring to their step.  And yes, even the dogs are smiling!

Here's a glimpse into the past couple of weeks:

Final vestiges of winter?

Ice on the Jeep

And a dash of snow

The arrival of spring.

And with the hordes of birds (and squirrels and ground squirrels and rabbits) feeding at our bird feeder or on the ground beside the feeder, our cat BlueBelle decided to do a little research...

When Mike was teaching on Wednesday, my job was to research raised bed garden designs so we could start planning our new garden.  And of course this involved deciding what I wanted to plant.  So I headed to one of the local nurseries.  This particular nursery had about 9 buildings, and the flower greenhouse was pure bliss.  When I stepped inside there was a fantastic floral smell and bright colors everywhere.  I could live in this building.  I smiled the whole time I wandered around...

Checkerboard plants

Already in bloom

And since my sewing machine was repaired (thank you Mike!), I got back to the hobby of sewing pillows.

And of course, I wanted to try something new. I painted stars on this pillow top with fabric paint.  I then added batting and a muslin layer and hand quilted this top layer.  Ok, it was my first attempt at quilting in many years, and you know what?   I'm fine with NOT being a quilter.  Anyway, the pillow turned out ok...

And I made some new pillow covers for mom's couch.  Plain fabric. No painting. No quilting. Just the way I like it.

And we continue to enjoy great times with family and friends.  Last weekend we traveled to mom's, where we enjoyed lots of laughter and BASKETBALL!  It was the best of all worlds.  We were glued to the TV for NCAA basketball and the state high school basketball championship.  My cousin's son played for Evansville's Reitz High School.  Unfortunately Reitz lost, but we were very proud of Jacob.

On Monday I enjoyed a lovely visit with my friend Jane.  We met up at The Cake Bake Shop in Broad Ripple (in Indy).  It's a lovely little white house decorated in a French Provincial style.  They feature 4-5 types of cake and your choice of coffee, tea, wine or champagne.  Ok, it's a bit pricey.  I have NEVER paid $17 for a slice of cake and a pot of tea before.  But I have to tell you it was worth every penny.

The Earl's Court Chocolate Cake was some of the best chocolate cake I've ever tasted.  Let me tell you how the menu describes it..."Layers of French Valrhona chocolate cake topped with a layer of Belgian chocolate ganache, filled with a malted cream and topped with a dark chocolate fudge frosting.  Sprinkled with Fleur de Sel from  the Isle of Rea from the beaches of France."  Wow!  Just writing that makes me want to head back for another slice.  And of course I had a great conversation with Jane.  I know we could have talked for hours and hours...

Last night we joined up with our friend Pat at the Red Key Tavern in Broad Ripple. They were celebrating their 64 year anniversary.  We signed their guest book, enjoyed a first round of drinks on the house and chatted with the regular patrons.  Actually Pat is one of those regulars, as he explained that he's been coming to the Red Key for 30 plus years.

Next we dashed across the street to eat dinner at a very cool Latin bar, La  Mulita, where we enjoyed tlayuda de chorizo and margaritas.  Amazingly fresh and tasty food, we would definitely head there again.  And then we ended up at Luna, a great little music store across the street.  And to think that all three great places are within a single block in this "SoBro" area of Broad Ripple..

It's definitely Spring time. And things are looking up...