Monday, December 26, 2011

L-R: My daughter Dawn, brother-in-law Larry,
my daughter Valerie, my sister Martha and husband Dennis

A smaller feast than usual, but at least we had one! On the menu: 24-pound turkey, 10-pound spiral-cut ham, candied yams, green bean casserole, and mashed ‘taters with turkey gravy. (Ignore inappropriate place setting, and yes, those are kitchen tongs you see for the meat; practical and unrefined, but the real cloth napkins make up for that, right?)

Dessert was store-bought red velvet cake and a tiny lemon pastry, homemade fruitcake given by a friend, and orange jello made by my sister Martha! (She has come a long way, yay!)

Missing was my fried corn, clover leaf rolls and banana pudding, just didn’t have it in me.

Yes, I’ve already had one turkey sandwich today and might have another for dinner. Best part of the dinner is leftovers! And, oh, yeah, the vintage Chistmassy tablecloth was this season’s Goodwill find. I have several, but I can’t resist picking them up when I see them.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

And then there were five...

My second to the oldest brother, George, passed away today (on my husband's birthday). He was 63. Two siblings in one year *sigh*

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Quilt made from my mother's clothes; scrap afghan I crocheted many years ago
My daughter made my sister and me lap quilts from several pieces of my mother’s clothing, and I absolutely cherish mine. When she gave it to me, I rubbed my hand along each square, remembering how she looked when she wore that particular outfit and it made me feel close to her again. But when it came to the squares made from one of the last hospital gowns she wore I wasn’t sure how I felt. The hospital stay was a 24-7 vigil for us for a solid month. It was tough and it was exhausting.

Then I started thinking about all of the conversations we were able to have before the cancer (and fentanyl) took its toll. I cannot count the number of times we said “I love you.” It was the last lucid thing she ever said to me.

Yep, I like those squares after all.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

So I'm doing this every day until Christmas!

One of my daughters bought this advent calendar cabinet a few years ago (she loves, loves, loves Christmas). She and her sister have taken turns filling it up for one another, and this year they told me it’s my turn to be surprised!

We’re all crafters, so I was tickled to discover the first three days were filled with velvet trimmings and a spool of twine. I don’t mind admitting that I’m very excited about opening the rest of those tiny doors. See my Flickr
for images of what's behind the little doors.
Married 33 years and I didn't even know the man could bake!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I hit the jackpot on buttons at Savers the other day, $1.99 a bag! Each bag had about a dozen or so smaller bags full of buttons, sorted by color and stapled shut. My daughter and I sorted through them all, both of us taking what we liked best. (I’m going to add a bunch to the stash of things we’ve been gathering for a future give-away on Craft Discoveries.)

My daughters and I used to sort through stuff with my mom, like bags of jewelry she’d find at yard sales or thrift stores (the good ol’ days of great finds), or go through one of her many jewelry boxes filled with the same. Sometimes she’d have us fetch a box of glassware she hadn’t seen in eons, and we’d unwrap each piece, oooh and ahhh, maybe set aside a piece or two for this person or that person, then wrap them back up and put away the box.

If you don’t collect anything, that might sound kind of crazy, but if you do, you understand the fun and conversation that ensues once the seal on a box full of finds is broken or buttons are poured from an old tin…a little bit of heaven right there.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Tonight Dawn made mini bagel pizzas!

Last night Valerie made brussel sprouts (I didn’t even know I liked them, everyone else found out they didn’t), rice and chicken. Neither one of them cook, so I’m beside myself with munchie joy!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

"Velma's Sheets" quilt, made with love by my friend Sherry

The other day was, mmmm, long. In the middle of it, though, sitting there in the doctor’s office (not for myself), waiting, I got a text from my friend Sherry telling me she and her husband were passing through town that very minute. They live down south a few hours away and were on their way to a funeral up north, and had spent the night in Monterey. We rarely have the opportunity to see one another, so we tried to meet up for lunch earlier, but it just wasn’t in the stars. So when she texted me, it made me a little sad to think they were so close yet so far. A couple of minutes later, I look up and happened to catch a glimpse of her husband at the wheel, pulling into the tiny parking lot of the doctor’s office! They said they couldn’t just drive by without at least stopping long enough to give me a hug. A few of those and “you’re so awesome, you guys” later, they were gone.

Close-up of one of the squares, look at those lovely, even stitches!

When I got home my daughters brought me a quilt my friend had dropped off at the house on their way out of town. She made it out of tiny squares cut from vintage sheets that were her Aunt Velma's, a long-time friend of mine, whom we lost a few years ago to cancer (and momma to Patches, our dog we put to sleep this week). When I wondered why she would go to the trouble of bringing it to my house instead of giving it to me when she saw me, my daughter said, “Because she wanted you to open it when you were home where you could enjoy it and be happy.”

I have no words that describe such a gift as this.

P.S. Sherry very cleverly names all of her quilts and dubbed this one “Velma’s Sheets.” I did a crappy job of scratching out edited out our last names, not so much for my privacy, but for my friend’s.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Well, as if yesterday’s news about Gibbs (my daughter's dog but my baby boy) wasn’t sad enough; we just got home from putting Patches to sleep. :-(

We inherited Patches from a friend who passed away a few years ago, and she quickly became enamored with my husband and he with her. She was his baby. A rescue, she lived a long (about 18 years), happy life and left this world very peacefully. We’ll miss her silly sneezes, her insistent talking about how we should give her a treat NOW, and her adorable fluffy ears. Rest in peace, Punkin’ Patchy.


UPDATE 11-28-2011: We brought Patches home today

Sunday, October 16, 2011

 Valerie, kidney donor, and Martha, October 14, 2011, 7:40 p.m.,
just a day after kidney transplant

Valerie Is Home!

I can't believe it, but after only 3 days, Valerie was released from UC San Francisco hospital and is back at home. She is sore but happy to have the transplant over with, as are we all.

Larry (Marty's hubby, a true unsung hero) and I don't know what we would have done had we not had Dawn (Valerie's identical twin) and Leslie (Martha & Larry's daughter) by our side. Their doting and patience did not go unnoticed. The four of us together made a pretty darned good tag-team, keeping one another grounded and held together emotionally.

My hubby couldn't do the trip because he is recovering from his 4th back surgery. It was a difficult time for him not to be able to be with us, and it was just as difficult not having him to lean on, but we muddled through. Having him home, though, gave us all peace of mind that our four dogs were being spoiled, the mail taken in and the house safe.

Martha is still at UCSF, but she is doing pretty well. She still has a way to go in getting herself back up to par to where she was a couple of years ago. She is so grateful to Valerie for her new kidney and keeps saying thank you to everyone she sees. It is wonderful to see Martha's color return and the light back in her eyes.

We'll be going back to San Francisco Thursday morning for Valerie's follow-up. The view from the 7th floor of the kidney unit is breathtaking, so we will concentrate on that positive to make the drive up there more pleasant to anticipate.

Giving thanks to the Lord for putting in our grasp some of the best transplant surgeons in the world and top-notch nurses and staff. Our God is an awesome God!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Photo via

A Random Act of Kindness, Just When We Needed It Most

We have two rooms booked for next week, one double bed in each one (none available w/2 doubles), and one with an extra fold-down for 6 people for the 5-8 days we’ll be at UC San Francisco for my sister’s kidney transplant. One is for my sister and her hubby (they need this night alone before such a serious procedure), who will be heading up to SF in the afternoon after her dialysis treatment on Wednesday. The other one is for my sister’s daughter, my two daughters (one being the donor), and me. We plan to be there early afternoon on Wednesday as my daughter has to do some prepping for the early morning surgery.

We were just going to muddle through because at $88 plus tax and whatever service charges will be incurred, it’s all we could swing. A little fridge and microwave are included, yay, so we’re packing groceries to save on meals. Daughter #1 (I have twins) and I may be switching off spending the night in Daughter #2’s hospital room the night of the surgery and the few days that follow.

: A member of my sister's church, who insists on remaining anonymous, has donated some funds to be used for an additional room the first night (which I just booked with 2 single beds, whew!), gas, parking, meals and whatever other expenses come up. I cannot tell you what a difference this will make.

Additionally, and this is a biggie for me because I have claimed this responsibility, help with transportation to UCSF in the coming months has been assured. As with her previous transplants, after the transplant, my sister will have to go to UCSF once a week on one of their two clinic days for blood work, other labs and check-ups for at least 6 weeks straight, then taper to every other week, then to once a month as she stabilizes. It means getting on the road by 5:00-5:30 a.m. (to be there to find a parking spot in the humongous underground arena, get in line for labs, then head to clinic to see the doctor), and then heading back home anywhere between 10 a.m. and Noon. We are looking at a long few months ahead, but because of the kindness of others, it might not seem so long.

Consider doing a random act of kindness. Be it a few bucks in the pocket of someone in need, paying for the person behind you in line, sending a note of encouragement in the mail, or telling someone how awesome they are, whatever it is, big or small, it can make all the difference to the one(s) who receives it.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The article about my sister Martha's 4th kidney transplant made front-page news! My daughter Valerie is donating her kidney on October 13 at UC San Fransisco. Please keep everyone in your prayers.

Friday, September 2, 2011

I am addicted to a huge fan of Tumblr. One of the people I follow had to put her cat to sleep recently. Although I'm more of a dog person, photos of her cat is one of the things that drew me to her Tumblr in the first place. She has a unique way of looking at her subjects, and her cat was one of her favorites. She would have humorous conversations with her cat as well and let us all in on them. I couldn't help but get attached and a bit emotional when it came to an end.

I wanted to let her know I was sad for her loss, so I made her a sympathy card. Using photo-quality paper, I printed out a photograph she had taken of her cat and fancied up the corners with a pretty punch. She loves pink and green together, so I layered those colors onto a blank card I picked up at Michael's (one of a package of 8) and then glued a metal "remember" embellishment under the photo. My Tumblr friend was very touched by the gesture.

I hadn't made a greeting card in forever, and although it was a sad occasion, I very much enjoyed making it. With the price of cards these days, I'm looking forward to doing this more often.

And I'm happy to report, my Tumblr friend became a foster mom to a little dog through her local animal shelter. Within a week or so she made it official by adopting the little guy and has begun posting photos of him and his sweet self. I love happy endings!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Happy 28th, My Duplicate Daughters!

If anyone were to make me choose the best thing in life that ever happened to me, it would be Dawn and Valerie, my identical twin daughters. They have brought unmeasured love and joy into my life and continue to do so on a daily basis. I did not expect to be such great friends with them at this stage of our lives, so, BONUS!

I must comment on the Easter outfits they're wearing in this photo, the only ones I ever made for them. It was quite the undertaking to make one dress, but two, well, that was that. They were a bit roomy, but that's okay, they got that much more use out of them.

Call me old-fashioned, but, growing up I wanted to be a wife and mother more than anything. It even trumped wanting to be a secretary, at which my best friend, Lauri, and I played on a regular basis. That, and being scientists (we found out talcum powder and water don't mix), airline stewardesses and piloting rockets (made in the sand from rocks, ice plant and anything else we could find to create a dashboard).

I am a wife and mother, which may sound like an everyday, ho-hum thing to many. But it was my dream, and I'm still living it!

Sunday, August 21, 2011


The other day I chopped up 4 onions for one meal. I think that's some kind of record.

I cut one chunky for the kielbasa, which I saut├ęd in a bit of olive oil. I needed two smaller chopped onions for the potatoes I cut up into bite-sized pieces which I put in foil with olive oil and butter and baked in the oven (oops, no picture).

The last one I chopped up very small to make fried corn, something I used to make only around the holidays. I don't know why I didn't make it any other time, but I found myself making it several times this year. Go me.

The corn must drain for a bit before trying to fry it or it takes way too long to start that yummy carmelization. I put a bit of olive oil and butter in the pan, let it melt and add the onions. After they get going really well I toss in the corn. I've never timed it, but I would say it takes about 15 minutes to start seeing that nice brown color that lets you know it's ready.

The sweet Vidalias weren't overpowering, believe it or not, they just sort of melted into the food, especially the potatoes and corn. My daughters aren't crazy about onions, but they sure are crazy about that corn.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Gosh, I'm getting to be quite the foodie, aren't I?! I was feeling kinda bummed, so...I baked a cake. I tried out a recipe for a banana cake only I added nuts. The icing wasn't creamy at all, was one big lump, so I added milk and saved the day. (I'm thinking this ingredient was inadvertently left out of the written recipe.) It turned out quite moist and I liked it, but I've had better. I think it needed another banana for a punch of flavor. Oh, well, everything I cook can't be fantastic. Like my biscuits and gravy I made the other day.

Even though I cheated and used canned biscuits, it was still a hit. Now I want them again.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The sample lady at Costco was passing out little cups of salad made of cucumbers, tomatoes and feta cheese. That’s it, no salt, pepper, salad dressing, nothing but those three ingredients. I bought this wonderful trio, brought them home and made it right away. You know how you hear people call something “refreshing”? This.

I wasn’t sure if my family would like it, but I was asked to make another batch of it today. A new dish everybody likes, yay!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

This is me (the gal w/glasses) standing next to my brother John who gave my sister a kidney many years ago, and my sister Martha who is awaiting another transplant. My daughter Valerie has completed testing to be a donor, and a tentative date has been set for late October at the University of California, San Francisco.

In the meantime, my daughter is having a procedure next week which requires a 3-month healing period by UCSF before they will set the transplant date in stone.

As both a sister and a mother of these fabulous women, my emotions are all over the place. If you are a believer, we sure would appreciate it if you would keep our families in your prayers.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Make New Friends, But Keep The Old

Silly goofers

I love making new friends, but the old ones, well, they bring comfort just being in their presence. We had a gathering of old friends this past weekend and had a blast. We stuffed our faces, talked about old times and caught up on the new things that are happening all around us.

From this picture you wouldn't know that Phyllis (in red) is a 3-time cancer survivor, Debbie (behind her) has undergone major heart surgery, Twila (in purple) is traveling 250 miles each way on a regular basis to tend to her elderly parents' needs, Susan (in brown) is starting over, Martha has had 3 kidney transplants and is gearing up for a fourth, and that I am still struggling with the repercussions of a stranger's suicide by car (mine).

We don't get together as often as we should, and it had been a long while since our last get-together. The hours passed much too quickly, just as the years have, but it was so comfortable, it was like not a minute was lost between us.

We needed this. And we will always need each other.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

52 Reasons Why I Love You Book

If you’re having a tough time finding something to do for that special man in your life this Father’s Day or any other special occasion, here’s an idea my daughters inspired me to do for mine. I made this little book for my man using an entire deck of vintage cards. (There are 8 photos included here to show you that it isn’t a difficult project, but it does take a lot of thought and time. Mine is a couple of years old, so it’s a little wonky.)
For the front and back covers, I painted a couple of pieces of lightweight scraps of packaging material and embellished them with an old glass heart earring, paper sayings from chocolate kisses and glitter. I Punched a couple of holes along one side of each card and the cover boards and put them together with large binder rings (smaller ones wouldn’t allow for the book to open properly). You could also use leather, string, ribbon, or whatever else pleases you.

Thinking of 52 reasons why you love someone is not as easy as you might think. I know in my heart why I love my husband of more than 32 years, but actually putting thought to paper challenged me to be creative while expressing it in this way. Writing each sentiment by hand directly on each card would have saved a lot of busy work, but I chose to write mine on the computer, print them out, cut them to fit the cards then glued them in place.

However you decide to share your 52 how-do-I-love-thees, have fun with it! 

Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Great Day

On the subject of our trip to UC San Francisco this past Friday: It went much better than I fretted over, yay! Traffic at 4:30 a.m. was light, my daughter’s testing (she is possible kidney donor for my sister) went very quickly and we were back on the road by 9:30 a.m. Great company made all the difference. A wonderful lunch at Gino's was icing on the cake!

On the subject of a significant milestone
: I hadn’t driven “the spot” of Highway 101 since the night the guy walked in front of our car. Going by it on the way up in the dark wasn’t as bad as I anticipated, but one of my daughters quietly cried through it.

On the way home, while driving by the exact spot, white-knuckling it, I looked over and there was a CHP to the right of me in the next lane, just enough ahead of me to make it seem as though he was escorting me, even though he didn’t know it. It was a good reminder that I always have a co-pilot anyway. Thanks to everyone who said they were praying for me, I could feel it the entire trip. Whew.

Monday, May 16, 2011


Stuffed peppers is another of my dad's dishes I wished I would have liked growing up. I acquired a taste for them long after he passed away, so my brother shared the recipe with me.

It's a fairly simple meal to prepare, but it does take some time. Especially if you consider the cooking time for the rice, but you can cook that ahead of time, even a day or so. A bonus is that the peppers are very portable, so they make for a great bring-your-lunch-to-work meal.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I Wish There Was Smellavision

Hubby sneaked these into the bedroom while I was gone and I smelled 'em before I saw 'em. Wowie-zowie!

A Note of Thanks

A note I hold close to my heart.

My mother never failed to let her seven children know how much she loved and appreciated us. When she was in the hospital, she told me she wasn't afraid to die, it was leaving us behind that bothered her the most. She didn't want to say goodbye. Neither did we.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Leftover Stew

Stew, always better the next day, or day after that. Joy is being able to get a piece of meat, onion, carrot and ‘tater all in one bite!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Above: Patches, on the ride home from the vet. Ever heard that song, “Because I got high, because I got high, because I got high-yi”? Yeah, just like that.

Patches is 16, so things are wearin’ out, I guess. She was put under so that two of her teeth could be removed. While she was out, the vet discovered a mass on the left side of her mouth, way in the back behind her molar, running down her throat. Her throat was so constricted they had to use the smallest tube they had to put down her throat (for whatever reason they have to put a tube down the throat during surgery). The good thing is they obliterated the growth, she’ll be able to breathe with more ease. We’ll find out the results of the biopsy in a week or so.

 She is one tough little dame.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Camera

Photo by titancia

My Nikon Coolpix P80. Best camera this novice has ever had.

Before this I had an Olympus C700, which got me through my eBay days fabulously. I loved it so much that when it quit working I bought a used one. I'd probably still be using it if not for the batteries, man, it ate AA’s like there was no tomorrow.