Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Memorial Weekend

Well, forget free time.  But the trade off is a busy, active and happy family.  I'll take that.  I had several topics to write about all week - no time.  Now here it is, Memorial Day Weekend and besides a small thunderstorm this afternoon, the weather has been hot and sunny; just the way I like it. 
Thursday morning my mother and I did our annual Decoration Day tradition of buying flowers, planting them at the cemetery on my maternal grandparent's and aunt's graves, then going to lunch.  It's really kind of a nice tradition that I enjoy with my mother each year.  This was a hot one, though, and I thought Mom was going to pass out.
Austin has a four day weekend off from work, so he and his gang came up Thursday afternoon and are staying until tomorrow.  Our long weekend has been action packed so far.  Starting with the boys being able to swim in the lake for the first time this season.  Of course, I don't allow them near the lake alone and without life jackets.  And for Landen, his idea of swimming is walking into the water only up to his knees. 

Grandpa Bobby gave Kayak rides.

Logan loves to be thrown off the dock.

I sit and watch, with a glass of Riesling, and take pictures from my reclining lounge chair.  My lake and fire pit seating area has a pink and blue theme this year with only pink and blue flowers.  I worked on that some more yesterday afternoon.

In the meantime, Austin and Melissa met with a real estate agent to list their old house.  We've had this house sold once already, then turned down by the City zoning board, then back and forth with lawyers, and it's a long story.  Suffice it to say, they are now listing it with an agent because we're all sick of dealing with it on our own.  Then they went to look at new cars because they need a bigger vehicle that can handle 5 people and 2 baby seats and a toddler booster seat comfortably.  Baby #3 will be here end of June/first of July and this is now a necessity. 

This morning we awoke to a beautiful morning.  I made french toast and fruit salad and we had breakfast outside on the deck.  Ohhh, it was so nice!

Then to top off the afternoon, Big G.G.'s (Great Grandpa, my dad) boat was delivered to our dock today.  The boys get so excited every year when the boat comes back from winter storage. 

Austin and Melissa purchased the Chevy Tahoe they looked at last night and went to pick it up and bring home Chinese carry out for dinner.  I've been cooking almost non-stop and refuse to cook on a Friday night.
Tomorrow's plans include a bar-b-que and boat rides.  I just finished making the potato salad and it tastes really good, if I do say so myself.  Delish!!  It's called Steakhouse Potato Salad.  I'll post it shortly.  We're hoping my Grandpa will want to leave the nursing home for the afternoon to join us.  We think he'll feel comfortable being here at my house.  He just doesn't like having to get dressed up and going to a restaurant.  He gets very confused and disoriented.

I wish a Happy Memorial Weekend to all as we remember our loved ones that have passed on ( I think of them often) and enjoy the weekend with our loved ones still here. 

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Soap Box Derby and a Wedding

No time for lazy weekends around here.  Although I wouldn't mind one once in a while!  It just seems for quite a while now, life has been busy.  Not just the weekends, either.  There seems to be something going on or something that needs done all the time.  I know that's a good thing, and it's all good stuff.  I just like to be lazy or have more "free" time.  But that's OK.  I need to slap myself if I sound like I'm complaining.  I'm very fortunate to have a good life and a great family.
Friday night we were able to have our fire and smores down by the lake.  The rain held off until late that night.  Logan and Landen also had fun watching the bats fly out of their "bat cave" located in the cap of our chimney.  They leave every night at dusk.  If you happen to get up early enough in the morning by dawn you can watch them all fly back in.  They've lived in our chimney at least as long as we've lived in this house, which is 5-1/2 years now.  We don't mind them at all.  They keep the bug population down!
On Saturday, Austin was up early to meet my dad in town.  My dad started the local Soap Box Derby back up in our little hometown last year.  He had participated in this event when he was a little boy and then it died out for about the past 60 years.  Saturday was the soap box car inspection and picture day.  My son is the appointed Soap Box Derby photographer.  He was a photographer for the Air Force for four years before becoming a recruiter and he is very good.  He won several national all military photo awards.  He really misses it and is considering going back into this field for the Air Force when his recruiting tour is finished. 
This is last year's picture.  It has grown this year.  The big race day is June 19, I think.

Saturday also was the wedding day for my cousin, Lindsay.  We got dressed and out the door by noon to pick up my mother. (I just really don't like getting dressed up any more, but I did, of course).  Dad was busy with Soap Box Derby, so he came later to the reception.  Since it was an adult only wedding, Austin and Melissa didn't bother looking for a babysitter.  Austin was busy with pictures and Melissa is so pregnant that it just felt like too much trouble.   The bride and the wedding was beautiful.  It was a large wedding and it's always fun when all the relatives get to see each other and visit.Aren't they adorable?!

After the wedding, my Harrisburg cousins spent the night at our house, which I always enjoy.  They left by noon on Sunday.  I was so tired the rest of the day.  I don't know why, really.  Nothing was stressful or a lot of work over the weekend and all we did was sit all day at the wedding.  As my cousin, Jane, said - sometimes just sitting all day and doing nothing makes you tired.  And I think I was still getting over the little sinus bug that I seemed to be fighting for the last couple of weeks. 

Anyway, it was a good weekend, I'm feeling good, and the new week has begun.  It also looks to be packed full of activities.  My favorite activity still remains being at home, taking care of house and yard, knitting, writing, sewing and reading.  I just don't have enough free hours to do as much of that as I would like. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Its a Beautiful Day in Pennsylvania

This has been a beautiful, sunny and warm day.  I was outside drinking my coffee on the back deck this morning, looking out over the lake.  That's one of my favorite things to do when the weather is warm.  It's very quiet here early in the day, so you can hear the birds sing, a few lawn mowers running, a dog bark now and then, and every once in a while a boat will go by.   Since my little Fergie has to be wherever I am, he also enjoys laying in front of me in his little bed.
Then after lunch I told Bob we needed to clean up the fire pit sitting area down by the lake.  Austin and family are coming up tonight for dinner and we promised Logan and Landen we would make a fire and do smores.
Bob moved the furniture out of the way and cut the grass.  I finished raking up the leaves and sticks left over from the winter.  Then I sat in my blue glider for a little rest.  I love days like this.  Now it's 5:00 and I'm going to go back out on the deck with a glass of wine before I start the salad for dinner.  I'm going to grill a few steaks for Bob and I and the kids are bringing a pizza. 
Now here's the possible spoiler of the whole day.  It's starting to look like it may rain! So there you have it; a typical late spring/summer day in Western Pennsylvania.  We may be having smores heated up in the microwave!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Organized Closet is An Organized Mind

Every spring and fall I have to re-arrange, re-organize, and re-adjust my closet and drawers.  Living in the Northeast you have to have at least two sets of wardrobes.  Except for a few basics, you cannot wear the same clothes year round.  So unless you have a very large walk-in closet, there is a lot of packing away each season to make room for the current season of clothes.  I really don't have that many clothes compared to many people I know.  After I quit working a regular job every day I got rid of most of my work clothes, such as skirts, blouses and blazers.  And now that my boys are no longer living at home I have the upstairs guest room closet to store off season clothes in.  Having said all that, I still go through the twice a year routine of switching out the closet.  Of course, this is a perfect time to organize, throw away and donate.  Clean Sweep and Hoarding are two of my favorite shows.  There's just something about seeing a completely dirty and cluttered house or space being cleaned up, purged, organized and fixed up.  I'm of the mindset that there should be a place for everything and everything in it's place.  My only problem with this is that I am not a minimalist type of person.  I have a lot of stuff and collections.  My husband calls me an organized, clean, hoarder. 
Anyway, I got my closet and dresser drawers done for spring/summer.  We had two very cool and rainy days this week so it was a perfect inside project.  The timing was perfect because today is beautiful, hot and sunny and I'm wearing shorts and a tank top that were packed away in a Rubbermaid container.

This is where it starts.  I bring the two of these up from the storage closet in the basement.

Then I unpack it all, fold everything nice and neat in stacks, wash anything that looks dirty or too wrinkled, and sort out anything that no longer fits, is out of style, or I just don't wear and it goes into the Goodwill bag.

This is what I had for Goodwill when it was all done.  Got them dropped off today.  I always ask for a receipt so I can claim as a donation on our taxes.  Most everything is in excellent condition, but there just comes a point where I'm packing and unpacking some of the same things each season without ever putting it on.  Someone else may get some use out of it.
I also had two bags of garbage (smaller bags).  The garbage mostly came from my dresser drawers.  Old socks, underwear and "just junk that gets stuffed in a drawer because you don't know what else to do with it at the time but you're not sure you want to get rid of it" types of things.
I finally went through my hoarded stack of greeting cards.  For some reason I would save every birthday, mother's day, valentine's ,etc. card that I would get.  I broke down and went through each one. 

If there was something really special about it or something hand written inside by my kids, or husband, mom or dad, then I saved it.  Otherwise it went into the garbage bag.  Sometimes things are so hard for me to get rid of but there are very few occasions where I later miss it or wish I hadn't let it go.

Every time I watch "Hoarders" I think I should become a professional organizer.

Once I had my half of the walk in closet finished, I moved on to my dresser.  The off season t-shirts, pajamas and "stay home don't go in public" clothes are stored in boxes under my bed. 
There are four of them.  If I find I have too much to fit into these, then they go to the "garbage" bag or the "Goodwill" bag.

So here's the finished result of my closet for Spring .

The cubbies and the hanging bags are from Lowe's closet organizing section.  I love that section.  I'm always looking at Wal-Mart and Lowe's for any new organization container that I might be able to use.

The sweaters and shirts are grouped according to sleeveless, short sleeve or tank top, so this hanging shelf works great.  Then another one for casual shoes.  The good shoes and heels are stacked in plastic see-through shoe boxes.

I keep winter sweaters folded and stacked on the shelf and in the stacked boxes on the shelf are purses.  A lot of purses went in the Goodwill bag this time.  I hate switching purses.  I pretty much use one per season.  It's just too much trouble switching all that stuff around and then going through the trouble of re-organizing a different purse.  More of them could probably be donated, but I'll decide that in the Fall.

In these baskets are scarves on the left and hats and gloves on the right. 

Here's a peek at one of my dresser drawers.  The one with T-shirts.  I didn't figure I needed to show underwear and socks, but I will say I got rid of a lot of junk from those two drawers and now they are very neat and organized, too.

And again, sleeveless on the left, short sleeves in the middle and long sleeves on the right. 

Now my mind feels so clear and organized and it really motivates you to keep it that way once it's done.  I know, my OCD is showing.  And really, this is my dream closet.

(Photo by California Closets)
I would love this, with a bench and mirrors and a chandelier right in the middle.  And it would be about the size that  my bedroom is now.  But until then, my Closet By Nina will do just fine.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dad

Happy 73rd Birthday, Dad.  It was a low-key birthday for my dad this year.  We'll save the big celebration for two more years.  Mom, Dad, Bob and I went to dinner last night at Luigi's, one of our nicest Italian restaurants in our little town.  It was also Prom night so it was very crowded.  But we really didn't mind.  Watching all those kids in ill fitted tuxes and dresses that are too long and tight was a fun show.  I suppose I looked that goofy when I was going to my Senior Prom 34 years ago!

Here's my dad and his baby girl (me).  Color coordinated even.

I wrote about my dad's 72nd birthday last year, so I thought I would just re-post as it all still holds true.  I should point out a couple of changes since last year.  My grandchildren have lost a great grandparent (Bob's mother Millie) and a great-great grandparent (My Grandma).  And now my Dad, Big G.G. has a blog of his own:  Go take a look.  It's very political, opinionated, and conservative.  But regardless of your political leanings, it's very well written.  I'm always proud of you, Dad.

Originally written 5/17/09
Yesterday was my Dad's 72nd birthday. He's affectionately know as Big G.G. This nickname came about after my grandson's came into this world. They are lucky little boys in that they have several older generations of relatives; 6 grandparents, 5 great grandparents, and 2 great-great grandparents. We had to come up with different "names" for all of us to differentiate. Since they couldn't say "Grandma and Grandpa" for a few years, my Bob and I are just lovingly called "Bob" and "Nina" by our grandsons. And ever since they heard Bob's mother call him "Bobby", that is the new name given to him by the grandsons. We think it's so cute. Well, Great Grandma and Great Grandpa was just too much of a mouthful for the little guys, so their names were shortened to "Little G.G" for my mother, Great Grandma, and "Big G.G." for my dad, Great Grandpa.

My dad is the perfect father and grandfather. He loves to be around all his kids. We are all so lucky to have such an active, healthy, young father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He's always supportive, even at times that his support is not deserved; we're always loved unconditionally by him, even at times that we may not be that lovable; and he's always forgiving, even when we probably shouldn't be forgiven. I know my grandparents and mother would agree that he's also a wonderful son and husband

Dad is very intelligent, extremely successful and accomplished, and admired for his community volunteer work. I'm sure the whole family, though, would agree that his OCD (obsessive/compulsive disorder) and his ADD (attention deficit disorder) keep him from perfection. But I must say that these two traits seem to run in the family and we all must embrace these traits and make them work. We can't help it.

Happy Birthday, Big G.G. and I hope you're around for a long time.  Long enough to become Big G.G.G.

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Face Lift and Haircut

No, I didn't get a face lift, but my blog did.  This is what I've been working on for two days.  I wanted something with softer colors and not so crowded.  I still need to nip and tuck a little, but it's getting there.  I felt like the layout and background I had before was hard to read and I needed to work on getting my pictures more clear.  I hope everyone likes it.  I'm always open to suggestions.

Now comes the haircut.  Yes, my hair.  I mess around with my hair as much if not more than I mess around with my blog layout.  I also re-decorate and re-arrange my house a lot, too.  I assume this disorder is all related somehow.  Anyway, I usually keep my hair really short.  I like to have a simple style that always looks decent without a lot of work.  I get tired of it easily, though, so the only way I could change it much was to change the color.  I guess I just get bored looking at myself in the mirror.  So this was my hair almost two years ago at my son's wedding. 
Sorry this is so blurry.  I cropped from another picture.  But you get the idea.  Very short and heavily highlighted.
Then this was from last summer.  I decided to go a more natural color.  I think this is close to my real color without the gray.

Well, I got tired of it being so short, but I can't stand to let it grow out.  I compromised.  I let one side grown long and kept the other side short.  Asymmetrical and a little trendy.

Here's the long side, obviously.  And now the color is a more natural blond highlight, if there is such a thing.

This shot shows the short side a little better.
Now I feel like I have long hair without really having long hair.  Am I nuts, or what?  Anyway, this is the hairstyle for this month.  (Eye make-up would have helped a little!  Hate wearing make-up)  I hate to go  too outrageous or trendy because of my age, but I don't want to look like an old lady, either.

I've always been like this with my hair, changing cuts and colors.  When my son was in first grade they were supposed to draw a picture of their family.  My husband and my other son were very cute stick figures with brown hair scribbled on.  Mine was a nice enough stick figure, but he had every color in the rainbow scribbled on my head.  When I asked him why he did that, he said he couldn't remember which color it was.
I seem to be consistent with my always changing looks and colors, in everything I do.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Mother's Weekend

For me, this past weekend was all about mothers.  Mother's to be, young mothers, old mothers, and grandmothers.  It was all covered.  The baby shower I gave my DIL Melissa was on Saturday and it went very well.  It was a very pink and chocolate day.  The only way it could have been more perfect is if the weather had cooperated.  It was freezing cold and rainy, so we could not use the deck at all.  No big deal, I guess.
I had finished the baby quilt on Thursday night.
I would have liked to hand quilt it, but I just didn't have the time.  Since it is a baby quilt I machine quilted myself.  Anything larger and I send out to be machine quilted.

I had finished knitting the hat and booties about a week or so ago.  I know I showed them already, but here they are again.

Melissa arrived here early Saturday morning and put together our door prize basket.  We had a diaper fund raffle for it.  For every dollar you put into the diaper fund you received a ticket to go into the drawing.  We then drew a number toward the end of the shower and my Aunt Nancy won the basket.

Mom and I spent a whole day making teddy bear lollipops to be given as favors.  I found the teddy bear mold and the makings at a party store.  Mom and I experimented a little, and by the final batch we were mixing it up with different color bows and feet and noses.  They were fun and easy to do.  I arranged them all in a candy dish filled with pink beads so all the sticks would stand up straight.  Each one was tied with a "It's a Girl" curling ribbon.

My DIL Diana gave me a pink hydrangea plant for Mother's Day the day she left for Spokane on Wednesday.  She knew it would match the colors for the shower and it was perfect for on my coffee table.

I had this teddy bear that I had made from an old rabbit fur jacket that I wore years ago.  I sat him next to the hydrangea. 

My mother was great in running errands for me.  Friday night she picked up the two flower arrangements so I could have the tables all set before Saturday morning.  The caterer arrived with the food by 11:30 Saturday morning.  Chicken and egg salad croissant sandwiches, spring salad and a vegetable tray with dip.  As is usual, you worry that there won't be enough food, and as is usual, we had more than enough.   Mom picked up the balloons and the cupcakes by 11:00 Saturday morning.  The tables looked great.
The punch is just Hawaiin punch with Sprite.  I also dipped all the strawberries in chocolate. 
I had blush and riesling wine in the decanters set up on the wine cabinet.  About a month ago I discovered a new wine at a local winery called "chocolate covered cherries"!  And that's exactly what it tastes like.  It's like a desert wine or a port.  Mmm! so good.  I set those bottles out with shot glasses.

The gifts Melissa received were all adorable and mostly pink of course.  Melissa looked beautiful in a long pink dress and pink and white vest.  I also wore a pink and white dress with a brown sweater.  No pictures of me, though.  I was too busy to stand still.
We had 25 guests and the day was a success and a lot of fun.  That should be the one, only and last baby shower I will ever have so I'm glad I got the chance to do it.  I have to say, though, that I was extremely exhausted by the time it was over and I still did not feel good.  But it was all worth it!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Baby Shower, Coming Up!

It's 7:00 pm. and I had to take a break.  I've been working for about 12 hours now, cleaning my house and setting the tables to get ready for tomorrow's baby shower.  It's been fun.  I just still don't feel well with this killer of a sinus/allergy/cold/whatever it is.  I'm taking decongestants and antihistamines, which helps to dry me up, but it makes my head so foggy.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing except when you have a lot to do and have to think a little. 
I've got the pink and brown chocolate teddy bear lollipops done and the chocolate dipped strawberries are finished.  The floral centerpieces are on the tables, the tablecloths are on, the plates, cups, napkins, and forks are set out.  I have to organize the activities now and wrap the little knit hat and booties.   DIL Melissa is coming early in the morning to help make up our door prize basket and help with any final touches.  I'm having the rest of the food catered, which I gave second thought to figuring I could save money doing it myself.  With the way I feel, though, I'm glad I stuck with the caterer.  It'll be a lunch of egg salad and chicken salad croissant sandwiches, spring salad, and vegetable tray with dip.  Cupcakes are being done by the bakery and balloon bunches are being made by the party store.  Mom is picking up the cupcakes and balloons in the morning for me. 
I'm excited for tomorrow.  I'll take pictures and hope to tell all about it on Sunday.
BTW, DIL Diana called me this morning.  She is back in Spokane with Brandon and she had her follow up testing this morning with a specialist to check on the possible spina bifida with their unborn son due in September.  She and Brandon were told everything looked fine and good, but they will do sonograms once a month now just to keep an eye.  They were much relieved and I felt pretty sure of this result after talking to many people about it, but just to have them relieved makes me feel much better. 
So all baby news is good again. 
OK, break over.  Going to finish up today's list, then take a hot bath with a glass of wine.  I know, I probably shouldn't drink wine with the allergy pills, but at this point how can it hurt? 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Routine and Organization

We took the grandsons home Sunday evening and I'm tired.  I've been thinking about this and wondering why?  I raised two boys that were also 16 month apart in age and very active, just as my grandsons are.  I never felt so tired raising my boys as I do after five days with my grandsons.  Why?  There are a couple of reasons I've come up with.
First, and most obvious, is that I'm 25 years older.  Second, I've figured out that routine is a large part of my daily life and existence.  I love routine.  I thrive on organization.  And the older I get the more attached to routine and organization I become.  Because of this I get a lot done and when all is going according to routine I feel at peace.

According to Wikipedia:  "Routine, as a course of normative, standardized actions or procedures that are followed regularly, often repetitiously".
And according to G.K. Chesterton: "Of all modern notions, the worst is this: that domesticity is dull. Inside the home, they say, is dead decorum and routine; outside is adventure and variety. But the truth is that the home is the only place of liberty, the only spot on earth where a man can alter arrangements suddenly, make an experiment or indulge in a whim. The home is not the one tame place in a world of adventure; it is the one wild place in a world of rules and set tasks."
These are words that I live by.  Well, you throw two little active boys into my neat, organized, routine of a life and it's not that I don't want them, it just takes me a few days to adjust and situate myself and the boys into a new, temporary routine.  So by the third day that the boys were here we settled into a good routine.  We all had fun and the boys were well behaved and I wasn't "growly", as Landen would sometimes call me. By the fifth and last day they were here Bob and I hated to see them go, almost, but we were glad to resume our old and familiar routine once again.  The boys said they wanted to stay and live here forever.  But if that happened, life at Bobby and Nina's (Grandpa and Grandma's) would soon turn into a normal routine for them and they'd want to move on to a more fun temporary routine someplace else, I'm sure.

This week so far has been spent fightning an allergy, sinus thing and it's kickin' my butt.  Regardless, I got more work done on the garden beside the shed and I'm getting the inside of the house cleaned up for the baby shower this Saturday I'm giving for DIL Melissa.   DIL Diana and granddaughter Riley were here Tuesday and Wednesday.  They headed back to Spokane today.  Oh, that little Riley is just the sweetest little thing.  I just can not quit kissing her. 
Today I'm off to finish the baby shower shopping.  I have a whole list of odds and ends that need purchased and done for Saturday. 
Lists:  That's another must have in my life.  So off I go now to cross off the items on the current list by day's end. As is my routine, I'll have a new list for tomorrow.


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