Sunday, December 30, 2007

Fried Pickles

We went to Ann Arbor yesterday to shop and visit with family. Unfortunately two of the stores we wanted to go to were closed for the holidays. But we did go to the Reuse center and the PTO Thrift shop - an antique store and Salvation Army. I also got to go to Trader Joe's for the first time. I'm glad they don't have one here - it was expensive - but that didn't stop me from buying things I wanted! I got chicken sausages, perogies, fresh mozarella in olive oil that Meijers used to carry and stopped that I love and a wine that made me think of my friend Jan and since we are going to see her on New Years Day I got that. So we had plenty of stores to see even though I didn't get to see my spoons at the Second Chance store in Ypsi and the Scrapbox was closed it was a great day.

Then we stopped to see Pat's niece and her husband. They are going to have twins and we got to see lots of ultra sound pictures and talk about having babies and parenting and how much their lives are going to change. We went out to one of our favorite restaurants in Willis - yes - Willis. It is called the Pickle Barrel Inn. We always order fried pickles - they are so yummy. So we continued our conversation there and had a very nice time.

Lately - several people have told me they read my blog - but - they are hit and runs - they don't leave a message. I was wondering if I was writing this just for the few people whom have left comments - but no - my good friend in Florida, Pat's niece, and a few friends at work have all told me they read it all the time. So hi all you hit and run friends and family.

Today we are having Christmas at Jim and Cindy's - that will be fun. We have a Chinese Auction where you choose a gift - and then the next person can take that gift or choose another one. We always have one thing that everyone wants and that makes it fun.

Sheala and Robbie didn't make the gingerbread house - I'm thinking that maybe we can take it there and they can work on it with Karina and Karalee. I'll have to call Cindy though and make sure there is room in the basement for them to work on it.

I'm looking forward to the holidays to be done - I have to lose some of this weight I've gained before I go to the doctor in February. And since I don't have any will power at all right now - fried pickles and all - I'll have to just STOP the crazy eating and start walking. It will be easier to do without all the holiday stops. We'll see how motivated I can get.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas at the Clifford Home

I came home from work and Robbie and Pat had gone grocery shopping - so the whirlwind cooking and baking started. Robbie helped me get the bread started - then he played with the leftovers from the bowl. Adding flour, sugar, apples, onions, whatever he could find - he had fun shaping one piece into a fish for Caroline.

Explanation: I told Caroline we would probably just have a simple dinner of pizza and salad - her response was: "We eat a lot of pizza" So - I called her back later that evening and left her a message: "mmmm... We'll have salmon"

Explanation 2: Caroline does not eat fish because my best friend, Janet, served us trout with the head on it when Caroline was three. She came over to me and said, "Mommy, the fishie is looking at me" - never ate fish again.

So, Caroline called me and said, "Jesse doesn't like fish either!" I just laughed and told her we were having soup. She didn't think it was funny. But Robbie did.

So then Robbie and I were peeling potatoes - he found one with a deep crevice in it - and then the laughing started. He said it was Mr. Crack Canyon.

Explanation 3: When Pat, Caroline, Robbie, Sheala and I went up north to Grand Marais we stopped in Seney for lunch. There was a guy at the counter with his pants WAY DOWN. I wish I could explain this right but I'll try anyway. First Caroline noticed it - she turned red. Then I saw it and started laughing. The Robbie saw it and he did a double, no a triple take and turned red and started laughing. I kept nodding my head toward the counter for Sheala to look but she wouldn't - she knew it was BAD. We could barely (pun intended) eat we were laughing so hard. After we left the restaurant we named the customer at the counter Mr. Crack Canyon. Well from that time on - just the mere idea of a crack sends us over the edge.

So we made potato soup, chicken noodle soup, outback croutons and dinner rolls. Then everyone came over and we ate. Then we opened presents. Then of course Caroline, Robbie and Sheala went after each other, I kept yelling at them not to break the lamp, knock over the tree, break the nativity pieces - Joanna kept telling me if I'd stop laughing while I was yelling they might listen to me.

All in all - it was a great Christmas celebration.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Nice Afternoon

We celebrated with Jesse's family yesterday. Crystal and Melissa and Javier came over for lunch with Pat's parents. Javier loved his rocking horse - it was so much fun watching him keep trying to get on it by himself and finally getting the hang of it and then learning how to make it rock. Christmas day watching a little one enjoy himself was an unexpected joy!

Ellie and Everett sent a picture of the twins first Christmas in their Mommy's womb - so I put a nice border on it - typed in The Twins First Christmas - 2007 - and framed it for Grandma and Grandpa - that was fun. Pat and I had a quiet evening by ourselves - it was very nice.

My favorite City Manager is home for the holidays - we'll be meeting her later with lots of her friends - I am really looking forward to talking with her. Then tomorrow night Joanna and her family, Caroline and Jesse will be over. I bought a Gingerbread House kit for Robbie and Sheala to put together - so that will be fun.

Hope everyone's holidays were wonderful - ME

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Holidays

Happy holidays to everyone - after telling everyone twice that I was done Christmas shopping - well - we had to go out yesteday to get a few things - and - it wasn't bad let me tell you. Next year I may start on Christmas Eve - it was in and out at every store - no long lines - mmmmmm.....

We went to a party before church - just a few friends - that was real nice. Then off to church. I'll just say it was emotional.

Today Caroline and Jesse are coming over and Pat's parents - just to have a small dinner - our Christmas with Pat's family was last Saturday and with Joanna's Family, Caroline and Jesse's Family will be on Thursday. So today will just be a quiet celebration.

Much love - ME

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Off and Running

The Nativity is up - the tree is now decorated - the house smells like pumpkin and cinnamon and fresh cut pine - Gifts are wrapped - we're good to go!

Sunday Pat shoveled out from 10 inch drifts - I think we only got about 6 inches but the blowing caused huge powder like snow to shovel. Because he does the neighbors too it and he had to tweak the snowblower it took 4 hours - the roads were awful which caused us not to be able to go get the Christmas tree with the kids.

Monday morning at 2:00 Pat and I were cleaning the house, setting up the Nativity Scene and trying to start some kind of Christmas spirit at the Clifford household.

Tuesday I stopped for some last minute shopping - I know, I know, I said I was done when I had that stupid survey going on the blog but I found out when I wrapped gifts that I wasn't! Right after Pat got home from work, we stopped at McDonalds Nursery to buy a cut tree and then headed over to Joanna and Robin's for dinner with Caroline for my birthday - that was fun - Robin made some fabulous potato soup and then grilled steaks that were cooked to perfection! Followed by the most yummy eggnog cheese cake from The Patisserie - mmmmm.....

Yesterday morning Pat started putting the lights on the tree and when I got home I finished the lights and decorated it. Even though this holiday season is all chopped up we are getting it done - and the tree really is pretty.

Tonight - Rod and Patrick - our good friends are coming for dinner with Caroline. This will be a very nice relaxing evening. Can't wait to see them.

So we're off and running - Christmas time has arrived at the Clifford's!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Update at the Cliffords

HO HO HO! We got a tree! YEAH! Pat is putting the lights up this morning and I'm going to decorate it when I get home - Thank Goodness - Christmas is HERE!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

One Week - AAAHHHH - I'm still not ready

Well at 2:00 am Pat and I were up and setting up the nativity scene - cleaning the house - doing laundray - generally doing all the stuff we should have been doing all last week when I was wrapping beads! Anyway - the tree will be tonight - if we can find one to buy this late!

I'm having a little bit of a hard time - no choir, no Midnight Mass, no decorating church - it's just not feelilng like Christmas to me. Oh I am sure it will be okay - I just have to get going a little bit. We will be going to SS Peter and Paul at 10 pm Christmas Eve Mass - I bet it will be beautiful.

At least I sent out the Christmas cards yesterday! ME

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

When Hard Times Become Good Memories

A good friend just told us her husband is out of work. I know from experience that this is a difficult time for a family. For many years our income was very limited, the building of a nuclear plant in our area was discontinued with many jobs lost, including my husband’s. We were faced with unemployment or moving; we chose not to move for three years. Pat would get jobs here and there but it was not consistent. I started a word processing business in our home and many times when a customer came in the front door to pick up a resume, Pat would go out the back door to buy milk and bread.

Pat took a more active role in childcare and I spent more time on my business. It was difficult for me to give up some of the controlling aspects of parenting. I remember one morning the kids asked me if I was going to the school talent show and I hadn’t even known there was one in the planning. Before that particular life lesson I always wondered how a parent (read that FATHER) could possibly not be involved enough in a family to know what was going on with their children. It was a humbling moment.

We both became more involved at school and church. Our parish school hired both of us part time knowing that we were in financial trouble. I managed the learning center, working one-on-one with the children, teaching the parents how to help the children with the computers and scheduling volunteers. Pat worked in the lunchroom and on the playground and we got to know all the kids at the school. The staff was warm and accepting and we will always think of the time we spent at Blessed Sacrament with thankfulness and fond memories.

The most important was the time spent with our family. We started a list of thanks that hung in our kitchen. Whenever someone did something nice or when we were especially thankful for something it was written on the list. Sometimes we would find neighbors and friends had even put something on the list. It helped us focus on the good in our lives. I think I have that list somewhere – I will have to find it and post it here – it was a great list!

Even when Pat was working full time we didn’t celebrate holidays that florists and card stores created to make more money; but during that time even our anniversary was one we couldn’t afford. I remember going into a card store and picking out beautiful and expensive cards for each other, we read the cards and put them back on the shelf. We knew the message in the card was much more important than actually having a card to put in a drawer later.

We found ways to have fun that cost less. We had stopped going out for dinner months earlier but we still could go for an ice cream cone. Instead of movies we read books as a family; our favorite was the Little House series. Camping for a week was out but we still found a way to camp for one weekend. Rummage sales were in; shopping in stores was out. Spending time walking in the woods at Ringwood Forest in St. Charles, singing loudly about all the things we were thankful for – these are some of my best memories of that time.

It took us quite a few months to get back on secure financial ground. We moved to Saginaw where I found employment and I walked to work every day – I still did word processing in my home – sometimes working all night and then going to work in the morning. Pat went back to work on a more regular basis and we eventually had enough money to resume our former lifestyle. But we never forgot the important lessons we learned during that time.

I know we were just down on our luck – not destitute – not homeless – and we had enough skills to be able to pull ourselves out of the difficult time. It was a good experience for us as a family. I know that not everyone can make a bad experience into a good one - I am just very thankful that we could.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas is Coming

Last night Joanna stopped by to ask when we were going to get our tree - we decided next Sunday - then this morning I read Sarah Beara's blog and now I'm excited about Christmas. Just thinking about my grandkids helping us decorate the tree - one reading the Christmas story from Luke and putting the star on top of the tree and the other one putting Jesus in the manger. We have decided to wait until next weekend to put the tree up - now I can't wait!

I met an author, Harvey Hirsch, selling his Christmas book The Creche of Krakow: A Christmas Story . He was such a persuasive salesman - I took it home and it was such a sweet story. I have a collection of Christmas books that sit out at Christmas time and I read them to the kids - of course - they are now pretty much just humoring me when I say I want to read to them - but I love it. I am glad I can add this one to the collection. I'm also going to buy one that is based on the song Mary Did You Know? I saw it this past weekend and I'm going to run over to the Antique Warehouse bookstore and get it. I love books.

Christmas is coming - I'm finally excited about it!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


You can now purchase First Serving spoons at the Andersen Enrichment Center. They have glass cases with artwork from several local artists for sale. If you are looking for a unique gift item for this Christmas - stop by Mon-Fri 9-3.

Also - this Thursday there is the:
5th Annual Hollyday Art Fair
Andersen Enrichment Ctr., 120 Ezra Rust Drive
December 6, 2007
Lunch will be served in the Garden Rm, featuring homemade soups & sandwiches $6. The Hollyday Fair will feature a fresh holly sale as well as distinctive gifts in the gift gallery. Offering pottery, jewelry, folk art, paintings fibers, baskets, clothing, woodworking & a variety of holiday crafts. Superb sweets for holiday entertaining will be available @ Hollyday Bake Shoppe. Silent Auction 10am-3pm. For more information 989-759-1363. Free admission

I have donated a set of spoons for the silent auction - so stop by on Thursday to support the ARTS in Saginaw.

Monday, December 3, 2007

What a nice party

I went to the Antique Warehouse 25th Anniversary Party. I didn't wear my green velvet coat - it was raining! But I did wear Grandma Shea's jewelry - and I had a very nice time. You can tell the people really like each other - and everyone was smiling and laughing.

Deb said Sunday at the Grandy Open House didn't have as many people - we had a snow storm on Saturday night and I don't think people wanted to venture out - but - she said sales were as good as last year - so I can't wait to find out how I did.

We are going to celebrate Robbie's birthday tonight after Sheala's volleyball game - that will be fun.

I was so busy over the weekend I didn't even blog about my power stearing pump going out - which caused my brakes to go out - which caused me to run into the curb right outside of work on Thursday and the tire to lose all it's air! Thank goodness I was going slow - approaching a stop sign. For some reason I changed the day to set up for the Grandy Farm to Wednesday instead of Thursday - I'm so glad. I still don't have the van back - they had to order the part - hopefully today - I'm just very thankful nobody got hurt. ME

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Still so happy about this weekend

I should have made 10 x more hostess gifts. The "Add a cheeseball" dish and knife went like hotcakes. So I'll do more next year. I am so happy that so many of my "Add a cake" serving sets sold - I just had a hunch and it paid off.

My favorite piece - Terry bought it - it was a small cake plate with a server that was so cute. I think I blogged about it before - it was an Avon plate and I found a white necklace in Mackinaw City that I took apart and used with green and red beads. I loved it. I'm so glad my good friend bought it to put her yummy cinnamon rolls on it for Christmas morning!

I have to get ready to go to the Antique Warehouse anniversary party tonight - I wasn't going to go because I really don't know those people - but Deb Grandy was sweet enough to ask me to go with her - so I'm going. It's at the Germania - which I love to go to - and people are supposed to dress in old clothes - I don't have any - but I do have great old jewelry from Grandma Shea - so I'll wear those - and my beautiful green velvet coat I bought at an estate sale - if the Andomitas people are there I'll make sure I show them the coat I bought for $5.00 that I absolutely love! So - I'll let you know how the party was when I blog tomorrow - ME

Such Good Friends and Family

So many friends and family came to the open house at the Grandy Farm yesterday while I was working - thank you so much for your support. I sold so many items - I can't wait until tonight when I find out how I actually did. This was just the jump start my bead business needed - whew - I can finally tell Pat I can pay for some of those beads! You are amazing my friends and family - thank you.

Someone asked me to write about how I got into this - so I told her I would blog it. My brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Cindy, and Pat and I were going to a Great Lakes Loons game in Midland. We went to dinner downtown and still had time before the game so we went shopping. We stopped at the Northwood Gallery and I saw these beautiful beaded spoons. I called Cindy over and told her I was going to make her one of those spoons but I wanted her to see how much the present was going to be worth when I made it! It was very expensive.

The next day Pat and I went to an estate sale and there was a box of serving pieces half off - all for $10.00 - we went to JoAnne's Ect. and the beads were 40% off - then I came home and started wrapping - I was so excited that the spoons were tranformed into pieces of art. We took it right over to Cindy!

Then I bought a couple of new serving pieces for a wedding gift - wrapped them and then took them to a couple of stores to match some bowls to go with them. Every sales person liked them but I couldn't find the right gift. Then we went back to the Northwood Gallery - I took them in and the manager asked me if I would like to sell my serving pieces there. I said - "sure" then I went home terrified - for goodness sake I only had wrapped a few sets - here I was saying yes to an art gallery. I quickly ordered serving sets off the Internet and began wrapping. My business "First Serving" was born.

After I took 50 pieces to the Northwood Gallery I had lots of beads left over - so I started going to estate sales and started wrapping gently used pieces all the time. If I couldn't sleep - 2 am - wrapping beads - came home from work - happy - couldn't wait to wrap beads. Each piece is distinctly different - I love doing it.

Pretty soon - I had so many spoons I didn't know what to do with them. So I stopped at the Antique Warehouse to ask if I could rent a shelf. Jean and Pat liked them - and they said I could be in the small section that isn't just antiques. My business "Second Serving" was born.

It is so much fun - it nourishes my artistic part of my soul - I really love making so many pieces that are so beautiful. So anyway - thank you so much my friends and family for coming to the open house - it was so nice to see you. And if you didn't get there yesterday - Today is the last day - I won't be there but I think you will still love going to see all the great gift ideas. ME

Saturday, December 1, 2007


I stopped by at the end of the day yesterday - and I decided I better take more inventory! YEAH! So I've been up for hours pricing inventory that I still had in my storage boxes - as of 9:00 this morning - I will have NO SECOND SERVING INVENTORY left in the house! Oh my goodness - this has never happened!

There are so many great gift ideas at the open house - Deb Grandy made great memo boards with frames and tea towels - I'm measuring my cabinet before I go to see if the green one will fit on my cupboard in the kitchen - I love it!

I'm going to work from 9 am - 5 pm today - so I'm hoping to see you there! ME

Thursday, November 29, 2007

All Set to Go

I went to the Grandy Farm yesterday and set up my area. I thought maybe I had taken too much inventory - but I didn't make too much - everything fit in the Kitchen and Deb Grandy gave me space in the living room - there was a nic nac shelf with a dish groove so I put most of my "Just add a cheeseball" hostess gifts in there.

I also put a couple of my gift baskets in the pantry behind the kitchen - so - I'm all set to go! I think I will run out there tomorrow after work just to see how things are going. Wouldn't it be great if I had to run to the Antique Warehouse and grab more inventory from there???? So I've got my fingers crossed! Don't forget that I work all day Saturday - hope to see you there.

Today is my "Amy Day" - my friend Amy cleans my house - I love to go home after work and just sit there and soak in how much I love our duplex. I used to make fun of my Mom because she made us clean for the cleaning lady - well - I understand it now - I don't want to pay someone to move clutter - I want her to spend her time doing the deep cleaning - and Amy is WONDERFUL! Everything is in it's place - I can smell the furniture polish and floor cleaner - I love my Amy Day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's Almost Here - AAAAHHHHHH!!!

The van is packed - I think I may have overdone it! I have no idea - since I've never even been to the Grandy Farm Open House before I just didn't know how much inventory to take with me. I am going over after work today to set up my space. Sheala and Robbie and I stopped over at Caroline's to pick up my Mom's little bookcase - I think it will fit next to my spot in the kitchen at the open house so I can put little items on the little shelves. I really had fun making the different hostess sets and even though I HATE pricing and inventory - I got it done.

Sheala and Robbie forgot their keys to get in at home after school - so I took them home with me and we made sugar cookies for the open house. They were a huge help - rolling out the dough - cutting out the shapes and sprinkling green and red sugar on top. We used Aunt Betty's Easy Sugar Cookies recipe - the BEST cookies ever - you can roll and reroll your dough over and over again and the cookies never are tough.

Here is the recipe:

Preheat oven to 400

1 ½ cups sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla (I double this to 2 tsp - Clear vanilla makes all the difference if you can get some)
½ cup sour milk (add TBS lemon juice OR vinegar to milk)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
4 cups flour

Put baking soda into sour milk (do this first - it expands)

Cream sugar and shortening, add one egg at a time, add salt and vanilla.

Add baking powder to flour and then alternate that mixture with milk mixture.

Make sure you watch them in the oven though because they brown very quickly.

Robbie had fun making an experiment after most of the cookie dough was gone - I told him he could add stuff - Leftover egg wash, more flour, Paprika, Chili Powder, Black Pepper, Nutmeg and I don't know what else - we didn't bake it but it sure looked fantastic with all those colors in it! Then they played "Guess Who" it was so much fun to watch them having fun that I was sorry to see their Dad pick them up.

OK - see you on Saturday - if you can't come then make it on Friday or Sunday - you don't want to miss the open house! ME

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Great Christmas Gift Idea

Fran Novak and I went in on a Christmas gift for each other - we purchased a brick to be placed by the flagpole at the Mid-Michigan Children's Museum. This museum is across from the old Saginaw Paint Manufacturing where my Dad worked. And actually Jim and Larry worked there during their high school years.

The brick says: Patsy Novak and Elinor Shea Friends Forever

If you want to purchase a brick there is a link on the right hand side column of this blog.

I also sent out a mailing about the open house at the Grandy Farm. If you do not receive a mailing and you want to please leave a message here. If you did receive one and you don't want to be on the mailing list - ditto - leave a message for me.

All the wrapping is done - lots of spoons, forks and butter knives. Gift baskets, cake plates and servers, and lots more. I've almost got everything priced and packed - today will be the finishing touches. Then I have to bake cookies because anyone going to the open house can have cookies. I bought 24 bars of World's Finest Chocolate from Sheala (she is raising money to go to Washington D.C. with her class.) and I'll make the chocolate chip cookies with that chocolate...mmm...mmmm... So - back to work - ME

Monday, November 19, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

There are so many things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving - I thought I would start a list and add to it by editing the post all week long. Add comments to increase the reasons we are all so thankful.

The Day After Thanksgiving
I am thankful that I had such a wonderful time seeing so many nieces and nephews at Jim and Cindy's. Karina, Karalee, Ethan, Robbie and Sheala played all day together while all the aunts played with Tsipporah. I love watching the grand nieces and nephews play just like their Mom's and Dad did all those Thanksgivings ago! Everything was so typical - Fred bothering Caroline, Kim bossing us all around to make sure everything made it to the table hot and delicious, The guys watching football and cooking both the turkey's on the grill, The women closing the french doors and talking until some child finds us and the quiet time ends! Thank you... Thank you... Thank you...

Late Thanksgiving Morning - Almost Noon
Pat and I went to SS Peter and Paul for Thanksgiving Mass. The Nouvel football team was there with all of their families. The place was filled with laughter and love and lots of talking. It was a beautiful service and Fr. Jack used the Waterford Chalice that Mom, Patsy, Fran and I got him from Ireland. He made sure I noticed it after Mass. We are so filled with blessings.

Thanksgiving Morning
Well - here we are Thanksgiving Morning - I'm so thankful that the pumpkin roll came out of the pan - the pie crust for the onion tarts turned out flaky AND that Cindy and Jim are so willing to share their family with ours. I cannot wait to go over and see all my nephews and nieces - everyone is home for the holidays. Also, we got just a little bit of snow and when we got up this morning every tree limb was lightly covered with beautiful white snow. It looks like a holiday card looking out my window. It looks like it might all melt by the time everyone is on the road.

I am thankful to have spent time with Sheala and Robbie after school yesterday. We went to Saginaw Township government building to pick up Mary Lynn's quilt that was in an art show there. Then we stopped at Goodwill - I found a tiered cookie dish and she found a Newberry Award book. Then we went to the bowling alley and watched Robbie bowl an awesome game at his practice. We had fun. Grandchildren are the greatest!

Dinner Out
We had a great time watching Sheala play volleyball - then we went over to Joanna and Robin's for a great dinner. Ham and Gnocchi - mmmm mmmmm mmmmm Robin is a great cook - we had a very nice evening.

10 Days Left Before Open House
I got up at 3:00 am and decided the bead room HAS to be cleaned out before I do another thing. Everything is in disarray. So I did the quiet stuff first while Pat was sleeping. I was out of control trying to get something done for my friend this past weekend and I kept dumping out piles of beads until I finally found what I needed. So I ended up with tons of beads mixed together - UGH - it is not easy getting them back in separate containers. So I got that part done and tonight I will work on packing up the storage boxes for the open house at the Grady's Farm on Nov 30-Dec 2 - then I will figure out what else has to be wrapped before then. So I am very thankful that I still have 10 days to get ready for the show!!!!! I will need it!!!

Through an incredibly difficult year - we are still filled with faith. We are searching for a church and in the process have been blessed with wonderful homilies and faith-filled communities.

He is not in a cast this Thanksgiving. After a bad fall off a ladder last year he broke his back and his wrist. Months of rest and relaxation and recovering from these injuries had us worried about a full recovery. One year later - he is back to work and back to 100%.

Our Family
We are so blessed to have a wonderful family. Everyone is healthy and happy. Could we ask for anything more? Working at the Police Department, I see so much dysfunction in families in the victims and suspects that come through this building that I realize how easily families fall into disrepair. It takes hard work and commitment to have a family stay together. Even when people work very hard sometimes it doesn't happen. The fact that ours is so together means so much to me.

We have the most amazing friends. They stick by us through everything. I cannot believe this extended family of ours - they love us, nurture us, help us, and they are ALWAYS there for us.

I love the artistic part of the hand bead work. I will never make as much as I spend - and that is fine. The money that comes in pays for more beads. The joy is in the searching for the pieces to buy and then making the piece my own style. What fun this has been this year. Thankfully Patrick is very supportive and loves going on treasure hunts with me.

That's all for today - I'll add some more tomorrow. ME

Friday, November 16, 2007

Joanna's Having a Party

You know how much I hate home parties, don't you???? I HATE home parties. HOWEVER, Joanna is having one on Sunday and it is the coolest new thing. It's called Uppercase Living. You can personalize your home with decorative expressions. Link on the side of my blog, when you click on the link sign in on the Customer Login with the demonstrator ID 561661 and the registration token is - faith. I can't wait to order a saying for above my friend wall in the Living Room. I found a couple of sayings but one may be too long for my wall space. I'll see if I can use it - if not - I'll have a shorter verse. Anyone have a good verse about friends that is short?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Songs from the Heart

One of my friends, Amy, from St. Mary Cathedral stopped by today with a CD Songs from the Heart by Daughters of God. She wanted me to hear the song "From One Mother to Another" It is so beautiful - it reminded her of my daughter Caroline. Caroline found a couple to adopt her daughter several years ago. It is an open adoption which means we get to see her a couple of times a year. Saturday we get to go see Caroline's daughter and her daughter's sister. I can't wait to see these two grandchildren tomorrow - and - to take this CD to them. The song is very very beautiful and captures the loving heart that the birth mothers of these two girls have.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Working My Fingers to the Bone

Oh my goodness.... My fingertips are so sore. I have been cleaning silver, wrapping beads getting ready for the Grandy Open House. It wouldn't be so bad except after I'm done wrapping something I end up buying another dish at a consignment shop or estate sale that HAS to go with the already wrapped spoon or cake server and I have to undo it and rewrap it with different colored beads.

However, the new collections of sets are sooo great. I especially love one small pedestal cake plate that is an Avon Christmas plate red, white and green and the cake server I wrapped to go with it is beautiful. It is very difficult to find white beads - but the red, green and white beads on the server really are beautiful.

Yesterday I found a consignment shop going out of business - I had so much fun shopping. I found so many little bowls and dishes that I am sure I have enough to sell the whole weekend at the Grandy Farm and the Antique Warehouse for the rest of the Christmas season.

Now - if I could just wrap, wrap, wrap for days on end I would be ready!!!!

Friday, November 9, 2007

Entertaining a Lesson for Life

Good friends coming for dinner tonight makes me think of my Mom. She was such a great hostess. We would go grocery shopping to no less than three stores to make sure she had the best of everything. Provenzanos would be on her list and we would walk in there and smell the meatballs and cheese at the back of the store from the minute we walked in the front door. When checking out we usually would buy a couple lottery tickets to take out to the car and rub off - sometimes I even got to run back in and buy a few more with the money we won. One time she sent me back in four times because she kept winning! What fun!

We would get back home and her table would already be set with her beautiful cream and gold china her goldware and Waterford all glistening in the light. Everything set the night before. Each dish was on the counter with a little piece of paper that had the name of the food that was going in that dish. A list of the whole menu would be on the table to be sure that nothing was missed.

And then the dinner preparation would begin. There was always a glass of wine or if we were lucky she would make a blender full of whiskey sours. Food always comes out better if the cook is happy! The house would begin to smell like home. There was always too much food and always an extra place at the table if anyone happened to bring someone home with them. Remember how many dinners Nancy showed up with Kathy for - she was like an extra Shea kid at the table.

Once people began to show up for dinner and everything was ready then the fun would begin. I loved sitting at the table listening to all the laughter and talking. The best thing growing up was that when the good china was used then the Aunts and Mom did all the dishes so they wouldn't get broken. (However I don't ever remember ever breaking an every day dish!)

When we were little and we lived on Hoyt Street, and it was time to go to bed we would sneak up to the little room at the top of the back stairway that many years before someone much more affluent than us had used as a maid's room. We would very carefully open the heat register (move too fast and dust would fall on the kitchen table giving us away!) We would sit there trying to hear what everyone was talking about until we were so tired we would have to give up and go to bed.

Tonight Pat and I have eight friends joining us for dinner. The table isn't set, the porch has to be cleaned, the food has to be cooked (although some of it is already made). My grocery shopping is done - the house is almost done - my menu is put together. When I get home from work I will work very fast getting the cooking going and the cleaning done. Then when everyone comes over - we will all catch up - eat lots of food - drink lots of wine - laugh lots and have a wonderful time.

I'm so glad my Mom entertained so much and loved to have everyone over - she never stressed out about it - just worked very hard before everyone showed up and then stopped to enjoy all the fun with her guests. A good lesson in life.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mini Vacation

Well, we had our four-day weekend and it was wonderful. We went up north to Houghton Lake and then over to Tawas. We stayed the night at the Tawas Beach Resort and found out that our friend John’s band, Small Change, was playing in the lounge that evening. It was fun being there when the band came in to set up and we surprised him sitting there waiting for them. We had a blast – one of the patrons was dressed up as Frankenstein (or as Jim at work corrected me: Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster) – an unbelievable costume that kept us all laughing all night long.

On Saturday, we went to our friends, Jim and JoAnn, who have a cabin in AuGres and met Bill and Amy there and we (the guys) raked and (I) burned leaves – an annual tradition. We love the smell of burning leaves and JoAnn feeds us until we are ready to burst. We had an enjoyable day catching up with them.

Then back home and on Sunday after church we went to Bringers for breakfast with Jan and Jim and Bill and Amy and Vince and Olympia. Then Pat and I drove to Mt. Pleasant, Clare and Blanchard going to antique stores. That was a lot of fun and I found silver-plated flatware to use in my Second Serving business.

On Monday we chilled out – took the van in to have some minor work done. When we got the van back we drove to Bay City and our vacation was done. I slept too much on Sunday so I got up at 2:00 am and wrapped spoons for a couple of hours. Then – back to work. I picked up Robbie from school after work and everything is back to same old same old.

I stopped at Goodwill on the way home – I found the greatest quilted Fall jacket for $3.00 – yeah – I love it when I find such a good deal.

Jane called me yesterday morning on my way in to work to say that she is on her way to New York for a conference and Sarah is going to meet her there. What fun! I would love to be there with them!

Okay – that’s all for now - ME

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Yeah! A Four Day Weekend

Patrick called me at work - he's taking off Monday - so - we'll be off Friday - Monday. I used to think I had to save all of my vacation time because it will roll into my pension - HAH - not anymore. Vacation time is my saving grace. I need to spend every single solitary minute I can with that man! What a good day it is indeed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Night A Long Time Ago

Hot sweat rolls down beneath the big rubber mask,
Filling our bags with the most candy is the hand at task.
There’s a lady next to Mudd’s House, I’ve been told,
Instead of candy she’s giving out quarters - good as gold!
Everyone! Beware of Honey at 930 Hoyt Street,
She’ll scare your socks off before you even ask for a treat!
Then down a couple of blocks to the convent to scare the nuns,
Hoping they can’t figure out who we are is half the fun.
Then it’s time to go home and trade and sort the candy,
Our drawers in the 2nd living room would keep it handy.
Halloween in the 50’s in Saginaw, Michigan, I know…
Was the most fun anywhere and such a long, long time ago.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Family of Six in a Duplex!

Moving day was near and I looked forward to it with trepidation. Our daughter and her family had been living with us in our duplex for just over a year. I remember her call to us to ask if they could move in; we were worried about how all six of us could fit in such a small space without killing each other. Well we did it – and when moving day arrived it was difficult to see them go.

Pat and I were very happy with our empty nest. We never quite understood our friends having such a difficult time letting their children go. It seemed natural and wonderful not to worry every night where the kids were, what time they were getting home, who they were with – all those terrifying parental worries that go with teenagers and young adults.

This time though, when Joanna and Robin went they took our grandchildren with them. This was difficult because they were not at an age where we would feel relief at not worrying about them – they were at the age where we played outside with them, we read stories to them, we played Lincoln Logs and Barbie with them, we watched them dance and do gymnastics and helped them with their homework. This was going to be hard.

I knew they needed their own place and I knew we needed our own space but in my heart I also knew they need us in their lives. Things would never be the same because we learned so much over that year. They learned that we have unconditional love for them, that there is always a lap to sit on and a story to be told. We learned that you could never have enough kisses and hugs and tickles and laughter. We had such fun that year being an integral part of their lives. Who would have thought that one year could make such a difference in our lives? We were so blessed to have had that opportunity to share our home with them.

That year we learned there was nothing better than having the pitter patter of little feet running in the room and jumping into your arms for a few minutes of cuddling on Saturday morning. Of whispering to them that we wanted to kidnap them for the day for a special excursion that would take us all day long and that we would have to spend hours and hours in the car playing and reading and singing.

Here we are – several years later and yesterday was Papa’s birthday – everyone came home for Lasagna and Meatballs and Garlic Bread – YUM – but the most fun was watching Robbie and Sheala taunt their Dad shooting him with rubber bands – his eyebrows going up every time they hit the mark. Watching them patiently, collecting the rubber bands to have a large stockpile – and then BAM – as the kids covered their bodies with pillows and blankets he pelted them with the ammunition. Then – they all were on the floor kicking and wrestling and Joanna and Pat and Caroline and I were laughing so hard we could barely breath – it was a wonderful reminder of those days we all lived in the duplex together. Fun – Fun – Fun. I love family get togethers.

Monday, October 29, 2007

My Best Friend

This is the eulogy I gave at my best friend's funeral. I have been thinking about her a lot lately. We had such good times together. I miss her so much. The picture above is of us walking on the East Shore of THE Great Lake - Superior of course.


When we were young, Janet and I would be running down the sidewalk and of course she was always ahead of me. She wouldn’t even look back she would just stick that hand out so I could grab on and sure enough we would fly down that sidewalk on Emerson Street faster than I ever could on my own.

For years we worked as Red Cross volunteers. Collecting toothbrushes and soap for friendship boxes, working in the office with Mrs. Fordney, going to the bus station to see the young men off who were drafted for the Vietnam War, some of them not wanting to go at all. We learned the importance of completing projects, showing compassion to others and volunteering our time.

All of us tried to live up to Janet’s expectations. Whether it was running down Devil’s Slide, keeping up with her on a bike ride or cooking something that would bring a smile to her face. We would stay up half the night studying for Mr. Agresta’s history exams. She would be so proud of me when I could answer any question from the chapters we were studying and then we would get into class and I would look at those stupid fill in the blank tests and couldn’t remember who Romulus and Remus actually were. We would walk out of that exam and she would say “We studied all the right pages… you must have done great this time!” One look at me and she wouldn’t say a word but she would roll her eyes and we would laugh.

In the past, when Janet became ill some people thought she wouldn’t get better, but they just didn’t know her. Janet and Rod and Patrick didn’t “fight” the cancer. They lived through it. There wasn’t complaining or whining instead the medications, the trips to the hospital, the chemo, losing her hair, just became part of their days. Her family, students and friends learned to expect Janet to recover.

Just a few weeks ago, Janet knew she was making her last trip to Grand Marais. It was her determination and stubborn pride that got her there and back home safely. Her family let me come into their home during a very private time in their lives and shared that last week with me. It was an honor to be able to care for her.

Imagine watching a gorgeous sunset on Lake Superior after a long walk on East Shore where the waves are pounding the beach. Agates scattered here and there… just enough so you can find them when you really look but not so many that it is an easy pick. Sand Dunes, the lighthouse and birch tree forests and when you turn around… Mountains… Yes, Mountains as in Rocky Mountains… Mountains capped with fresh white snow with waterfalls cascading from the top. Rock formations with wildflowers blowing in the clean crisp Montana air.

Heaven……… Janet’s Heaven… Imagine if God has waited patiently for Janet to get to Heaven all these years so a small corner of Heaven could be transformed… How pleased God must be to have Janet in Heaven.

I told her that last week she was going first and when my time comes I asked her to hold her hand out to me so I can join her because I can’t imagine a more glorious place to be than Janet’s Heaven.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Magic in the Air

Sometimes as a grandmother I feel magic in the air. It embraces me like a gentle breeze coming off the lake in the middle of a hot hazy day. It doesn’t happen often but when it does I want the day to go on forever.

One crisp fall morning in 2002 we embarked on a trip to Hartwick Pines with our grandchildren. It was a long two-hour van ride filled with songs and stories, math story problems and spelling words. After hours of sitting in the car, a long walk in the woods seemed like a perfect idea. The kids weren’t so sure but we talked them into going for a short walk which ended up being a couple hours.

Once we got on the trails they perked up and were very excited. We found treasures along the way, a beautiful maple leaf, a stick, stones, and pinecones, all had to be held by Nana or Papa, except for the stick of course, that was too good to hand off.

Pretty soon even the stick was surrendered and they started skipping, laughing, jumping, doing cartwheels, running and racing. They found huge trees and made Papa put his arms around them to see if he could touch his fingers. They were surprised when he couldn’t and they were even more surprised when he told them how old the trees were.

We stopped at the historic buildings, a store, and the lumbermen’s dining and sleeping areas. Then we came to the little church nestled in the woods. We went in and the kids wanted to sing a song. With the sun streaming in the cross window, we sang the song of thanksgiving that Aunt Cindy taught us.

“Oh the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the apple seed, the Lord is good to me. Amen…. Amen… Amen, Amen, Amen… Ahhhhmen.”

Then we went out and took pictures. The kids wanted to pose on the benches and fences, and then they wanted Nana and Papa to pose so they could take pictures. Those pictures captured the fun and relaxation of the day.

When we got back to the van I spread the blanket on the ground and the kids got out their sketchpads and crayons and pencils. They drew pictures of the trees and the bridge and they talked to the birds with whistles and hoots. After a bit Papa got out the ball and they played catch in the long driveway of the parking lot. Then Robbie found a salamander and that made for the most perfect day. We had to talk him into letting it go before we left – Nana is not Aunt Cindy – NO lizards in the car!

On the way home they played quietly in the back seat, exhausted from the fun and fresh air. Forever I will remember this day; it was what being a grandparent is all about. A day filled with sunshine and love and nature. A day I expected to see wood nymphs and fairies peeking from behind the great pines; a day filled with grandchildren and magic.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


One of the best workshops I attended had me look at one part of my life and figure out how I got there. What amazed me the most was that the decisions I had made years ago, ones that I never even thought were important decisions, were in fact ones that lead to life-changing results.

The example I looked at in the class was how we ended up moving back to my hometown of Saginaw because of my secretarial work using computers. I had to weave my way back in time to my volunteer work experiences with a non-profit organization and my decision to purchase a computer in the early 1980’s. Never did I imagine when I bought that computer how it would change not only my career but also where our family would live when I started working outside of our home. Then looking forward I realized that each decision built on that first one, would impact what schools my children attended, the friends they made and even whom they would meet and marry.

After that workshop I started to look at my decisions more closely. I don’t worry about where each decision will take me but I do carefully think things through before deciding. One of my friends that I used to work with always told me, “What goes around, comes around!” and I have learned that is true in my life. I not only have to consider my life when making decisions but also the lives of others in my family, my neighborhood, at work and in the world.

This decision about looking for a new church is a selfish one – I just want to be a person in the pew for a while – get nourished without commitment. No arts and environment committee, no choir, no teaching children First Eucharist and Confirmation classes. Just soak in the liturgy and the Word of God. I love participating in the liturgy again – this really is a gift from God. Something I thought was gone.

Every once in awhile decisions must be made to regroup and heal. That's where I'm at right now. But, I do know that this decision could change everything in the future. I'm willing to take that chance. ME

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lessons Learned

We have decided not to join a church right now. We are going to attend one for awhile and then see if we want to change. It is too difficult to formally leave St. Mary's so we just won't attend there for now.

When my Mom was dying we had her best friends surrounding her bed the day before she died. She couldn't talk but when they said something interesting she would lift her eyebrows and we would all laugh. It was an amazing day. Her daughter, granddaughter and newborn great granddaughter and Mom's best friends all together to celebrate her life and her death with her.

One of the stories was about when I was in high school (1968), Monsignor wouldn't allow us to have guitars at church. So I went to Mt. Carmel where they welcomed us. Mom sent a letter to Monsignor that said every time we were at Mt. Carmel she was going to put her envelope there that week. OOOOHHH did he get mad! He was not only her pastor but her boss, too - she was the secretary at the parish school.

What I found very interesting was that she never told me this story - I found it out from her friends on that amazing afternoon. Mom didn't do things for show - she did them from her heart. So - I am going to do the same thing - just put my tithing where I attend that week.

Since we have made this decision we feel at peace with it. Getting to the decision to move on was very difficult. But we feel we are doing the right thing.

The pact we made with our friends - well - we all decided we were in a different place in our lives when we made that pact. We are all going to do what is best for each couple. Some are staying - some are going - but one thing we all know - we love each other and we are family - we will always love each other and always be family.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Blustery Day

It was such a Winnie the Pooh day yesterday - it was so windy. We went to our grandson's last football game in the morning. Everyone was freezing - even though it wasn't too cold we were sitting in the shade on the bleachers all layered up - with sweaters, jackets and blankets drinking hot chocolate and we were still cold.

Every 5 minutes my grandson would tackle someone and the announcer would say his name - it was so much fun - Robin played his hardest and he kept hitting and hitting and hitting - now he isn't the biggest kid on the block - but he sure was the toughest yesterday. He even ran the ball 30 yards - then he was tackled. His dad had to work so every time his son did something terrific his mom would call his dad and give him a short - "He did it again!" Even though they lost the game - it was so much fun.

Then we stopped at the Antique warehouse - got a small check for last week - and saw that I sold a cake plate and server. Then we saw an oak dining table - just a 42" square - and talked the price down some and decided to get it for our kitchen. Now I have to look for chairs - we'll use the old ones until I find a good deal at an estate sale or something. I told the workers I knew I would spend more than I make; they all laughed and said they all work so they can spend more money!

We called Joanna and asked her if Rob could come over and help move the table downstairs and bring in the new one - so they said they could be over about 4:00 so Pat cut the grass and I did a little raking - (after talking to my sister for a long time) then we went to thrift shops and estate sales - didn't see much of anything - bought a couple spoons at the estate sale but that was it.

Rob and Joanna and Sheala and Robbie came over - they moved the tables - then we went out for dinner. We had a nice time. Caroline couldn't come with us because she was still working. The table we sat at had cards to ask questions to pass the time - we all were laughing. I ordered a glass of wine - it was very bad - so I told the waitress. She went to the bartender and came back and said if I wanted another it would have to be from the same bottle! I asked her if the bartender was new!!??!! She said the other bottles were warm - I told her to have the bartender taste the old wine - open the new wine and give me a glass of ice. Save me!

Then Pat and I went to a few stores looking for baskets - found some - went to the hardware store to buy something for the bottom of the legs of the new table and then home. We kept falling asleep watching the baseball game - so we went to bed.

Today we are going with our friends to see a different church - eight of us made a pact about seven years ago that if someone wanted to change churches all of us would go or none would go. We are looking - this has been very difficult - but a much needed change. We are going over to one of the couples after church to talk - I love this group of people - we are family. We certainly need prayers about this - please keep us in your hearts today.

Well we survived one more "Hallmark Holiday" - we have never celebrated those holidays that the card shops came up with - when Pat was layed off from construction work a lot during the 80's, we would go into Hallmark on our anniversary - pick out the greatest cards - show them to each other - put them back on the rack and walk out! Thank you Hallmark for many years of great cards!

Gotta go wrap beads - ME

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday Morning

My sister and her family have blogs and they inspired me - so here I am - MESC - when I should be sleeping or at least working - I'm setting up my blog!

Here is a little about ME

I am married to Pat - the love of my life. We have two grown children and four grandchildren. I am sure I will be telling you many stories about them in this blog. I work at the Police Department and my new interest is creating original beadwork on flatware.

So - onward blog - this should be fun!