The long and winding road

This was a sad week as we had to say good-bye to my cousin-in-law Martin – a fun and friendly family man who played bass guitar in a number of area bands over the years, and was inducted into the Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. He passed away on Monday the 17th, about six days shy of his 60th birthday.

My favorite story about Mart illustrates his goofy sense of humor. The first time I met him, I hadn’t been married to Steve very long. We were at an anniversary party for Steve’s parents. Steve introduced me to his cousin Mart, and before long we got to joking that yes, I was in fact Steve’s fourth wife. It was several months before I met Mart again, but when I did he said, “I can’t remember your name but I know you’re good ol’ Number Four.” So forever after, long after he had memorized my name, Mart called me Number Four.

Needless to say, it has been a low-key week of reflection, as these types of things tend to remind us of how tenuous life really is. And how important it is to try your hardest to live a life you love.

We attended Mart’s funeral on Saturday; it was truly a heart-breaker – a lovely man gone much too soon, who will be missed by his family, many friends, and devoted fans. And by Good Old Number Four.

More soon,


Holiday wrap-up for 2013

Since I didn’t blog throughout the holidays (or even… for much of the year)… I thought I would throw together a little holiday wrap-up just to share the highlights of my holiday season. I have SO enjoyed reacquainting myself with some favorite blogs, seeing what you all did/decorated/ate for Christmas and New Year’s! I hope to be a little more productive in 2014 as far as blogging here and as always I thank you for reading and commenting!

Thanksgiving was lovely as always – we went to my sister-in-law’s home not too far away and enjoyed my husband’s large family. It’s always so different from what I remember as a kid – our family was small, with 9 people at the most, and although we were a friendly, animated bunch there was just two distinct age groups: adults, and children. With Steve’s family, we have adults, young adults, teen-agers, and young children so it is a larger, noisier, and more diverse group. Make no mistake, I love spending time with his family! We had just a skiff of snow on the ground, and it was VERY cold!



Thanksgiving weekend, I put up our Christmas decorations and did the final prep work on my first-ever cookie exchange party on December 8th! I absolutely LOVED doing this and will share full details in a separate post, but I will say I’m definitely doing it again next year! For as much work as went into it, it was a lot of fun AND we got about six inches of snow that day – which thankfully did not deter my intrepid guests! Here’s a sneak-peek at our cookie table!



One of the neat things about this holiday season was that I had plenty of time off around each holiday. I have had a very busy and stressful year at work, and all this family-and-home-time was just what I was needing. I finished up working on Friday the 20th, then had five days off to enjoy my family and final preparations for Christmas. I actually enjoyed gift shopping this year, probably because I had started early and had very little left to do by the time I had all that time off.

On Christmas Eve we attended the late Mass at St. Ambrose Cathedral in downtown Des Moines – this is a beautiful Catholic church with massive arched ceilings and ornate decor… the sparkling trees and red poinsettias up at the front were elegant, and the joyful Christmas music echos so beautifully here it literally makes me weep. I snapped a couple of photos during the musical prelude, when the full crowd had not yet arrived and the service had not yet started.






Our Christmas Day was beautiful and quiet – we had fresh snow over the top of what we had received earlier in the month, so this was the view of our sideyard out in the driveway on Christmas morning:





We each enjoyed several gifts under the tree – my two favorites were the Kindle Fire HD e-reader I received from my husband and this beautiful Royal Albert Old Country Roses ornament that my daughter chose for me:




Speaking of Old Country Roses, I used my favorite-pattern-of-all-time again for Christmas dinner (just like last year) only this time I used the beautiful red placemats that my daughter gave me last year. The tablescape was simple, but I did have a little fun with the napkins by using a Christmas tree fold I saw over at Susan’s lovely-as-always blog, Between Naps on the Porch. I didn’t take enough pictures to do a full “tablescape” post, but here’s a sample place-setting. Each place included a sequined red placemat, Old Country Roses dinner plate, gold-rimmed white bread plate, my vintage Oneida “Chandelier” stainless flatware, and new-to-me-this-year glassware: Whitehall “Cubist” by Indiana Glass.





I worked the Thursday and Friday after Christmas, then had another five days off through New Year’s Day. In that time we enjoyed “little Christmases” with my step-daughter and her family (husband and 3 teen-age step-grandsons!) and later, with my brother and his family (wife and young son).  New Year’s Eve was very quiet, again spent with just my little 3-person family, and on New Year’s Day we enjoyed Baked French Toast for brunch – a recipe I discovered on Pinterest. It was absolutely delicious! (I’ll share the recipe in a separate post!)



As I write this, I’ve got pot roast simmering on the stove for New Year’s Day dinner, then it’s back to work Thursday and Friday… then 2 more days off… then back to full work weeks.

I am SO glad to have had all the time off – I feel ready to face the new year, and hope you do too!

More soon,


A little Christmas nostalgia

stockingI was a little too late in posting to get this linked up to the actual link party at Vintage Thingie Thursday at Colorado Lady’s blog, but I’m happy to include a link anyway and hope you’ll head over there and check out all the beautiful vintage holiday items!

I don’t know exactly what ever happened to my mother’s Christmas stocking, but a few years ago we found this one at our local antique mall which looks exactly like it. Of course I admired it, and my hubby and daughter went back and bought it for me as a gift. I have enjoyed using it the last couple years.

I wish I knew a little more about it – whether it was originally a store-bought item, or perhaps handmade from a pattern. (My dad’s mother was very crafty, and I know she made us all stockings a couple of times over the years. Having seen so many of her other hand-made decorations – many made of felt – I can say this is a pattern she would have liked.)

Either way, this reindeer gal with her cheerful jingle bells and big eyelashes always makes me smile and think of Mom.

Hope you had a lovely Christmas weekend!

More soon!


Remembering Betty Green

birdvase This week I’m dealing with the loss of my mother-in-law, Betty Green. Betty was a delightful person – outgoing, out-spoken but never mean, giving, generous. She was also a thrift-store junkie and a crafter, like me.

Betty and I rarely shopped together, but we had a lot of fun showing each other our many wonderful “finds.” One day when Betty and Art stopped by for a visit, I had a whole box of goodies to show her – I knew she’d get a kick, as always, out of my bargains, and hearing the circumstances of each particular item.

As I went through the box, I pulled out this pretty blue ceramic vase. I had spotted this vase at a thrift shop and really liked the bird motif and the pretty blue color. But I almost didn’t buy it, simply because it was so small at about 6 inches high – and seemed, due to its size, to be lacking in real utility. In fact, I set it back on the shelf and walked away from it. I passed by it a few more times while wandering around the shop, and ultimately I couldn’t resist its charms.

As I was showing it to Betty and telling her its story, Art said to her, “That looks like that vase you painted for Clara a long time ago.” (Clara, Betty’s sister, had passed away a year or so prior to this.) And Betty said, “Well if it’s the one I painted it would have my initials on the bottom.”

We turned it over and sure enough, on the bottom, were the initials “B.G.” and the number “87” – a year which fell smack-dab in the middle of Betty’s ceramics-class phase.

We all marveled at this incredible coincidence. What were the odds that I would be the person who purchased an item made by my own mother-in-law, more than a decade ago, from a thrift store where the inventory changes daily?

Of all the objects in our home that remind us of Betty, this is the one that I have cherished the most since that day. I daresay it’s not likely to end up in a thrift store again, any time soon.

Love and miss you, Betty, more than I can say.

More soon!