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