This site is the cat’s pajamas

Oh Lord, she’s back….

It’s been about 6 months since my last post, and I have no good excuses. Just a small crisis of a small mind. I love to write. But I don’t really have anything to write about. I wanted to get on the blog train to show I could do all those fun tutorials and crafty things and recipes. But frankly, if you’ve ever been on Pinterest, you know that there are WAY too many of those out there. So unless I figure out something clever enough that is marketable, I think I will just stick to writing about my silly little life and some of the things I love. Look for a flower garden theme this spring. As I posted last year, I WILL have a garden this year. Hubby is finishing up a pergola, so at least my yard has something besides brown bermuda grass and a weathered fence. I’m not sure how I’m going to accomplish this with a bum back and a couple of bum knees, but I will figure it out. You’ll see!

This Girl Can Cook!

It’s been way too long since I posted. Busy, busy times for me…very unusual. In fact, I am pretty well exhausted! But it’s all good. I figure it will be no time at all before I am back to my lay-around self, eating bon-bons in front of the television.

Now for the big reveal! The darlin’ granddaughter just celebrated her 2nd birthday. I posted the dress I made for her a few weeks ago. One thing I didn’t mention was that my daughter never asked me to make a birthday dress. I never asked my daughter if I could make the birthday dress. I just assumed that nothing had been picked out, so I pigged my way into the middle of it and took over. I have to watch that. But as it turned out, it was much appreciated, and oh so cute!Image

So what is wrong with this picture? EVERYTHING! The first thing you might notice is the blurry wrapped arm. Well the little darlin’ had an incident involving big bed/big brother/big owie. At this point, there was a “suspected fracture” but as it turned out it was just a sprain, thankfully. The next thing you will probably notice is the crappy picture. This Granny, who is the camera guru and designated photographer for all family events, left the camera at home. I am still hanging my head in shame for that one. The last thing that you might notice (hopefully?) is the adorable dress that was in a recent post. She looked so pretty in it.

And now to the main event. The kids had lots of fun playing with the brand new kitchen that was lovingly built by the hubby and myself. No tutorial here. Just pictures with a few explanations is all I can offer.

There are dozens of tutorials and ideas out there on the crafty sites. How it looks will obviously depend on what you start with and your level of expertise with tools. I have NO expertise unless it’s a sander. Hubby can build just about anything that requires the use of tools. So he was drafted for this project.

We started off with a cheap black laminate “tv stand” that was about to be junked. It had a removable shelf that was trimmed down to make the oven door.

After a good sanding to rough up the surface, this was primed all over with a good even coat of oil-based Kilz primer. I did this the hard way…..I primed it with water-based primer, and watched it slide off when you breathed on it, so I had to scrape it off and start over. I don’t recommend this method. Just sand and prime…keep it simple.

Hubby added a back made of particle board, and added a front piece for the knobs. He does such good work!

He used a piece of scrap plywood to make the oven bottom because we needed the shelf to make the oven door. The plywood was necessary to have something sturdy enough to hold the hinges (leftovers from kitchen project). The oven part is big enough to cook a turkey, but hopefully is too small for a child to get shoved into. We left enough space under the oven for a small storage basket and added a matching curtain. I used gorilla glue to attach heavy-duty velcro to the wood, and then sewed the soft side of the velcro to a ruffled curtain. I imagine it’s been removed about 100 times by now, but at least it will last awhile.

I had two small wooden card file boxes laying around, so we painted them and attached to the back. One is an open “cupboard” and the other is a microwave! A plywood door, a cheap handle, a shiny black painted “window” and the key pad from a $3.00 rubber calculator (Big Lots) was enough to make her microwave look real! Well sorta…

I found a scrapbook paper that coordinated with the fabric, and decoupaged it on as the “backsplash”. We added two wooden circles, a painted PVC P-trap, some cheap wooden knobs, paint and a old dog bowl (thoroughly cleaned up) to provide all the finishing touches.

The oven door “window” is the original black laminate that we masked off to keep it black and shiny. I think that was much easier that way and we had nice crisp corners.

I spotted some adorable coordinating knobs at Hobby Lobby (1/2 price) so I couldn’t resist buying them. She can hang her little dishtowels and potholders on them. We were originally going to put a towel holder on that side, but I had images of her using it as a handle to push this thing all over the house, so we opted for knobs.

By this point I was tired of having to bother the hubby with more “one more little favor”s. But I wanted to add a chalkboard to the other side. So I went to hobby lobby and bought “stretcher frames” from their art department. Each side is around $1, and you can make it whatever size you need. I opted for 11×14. You insert each piece into a pre-cut slot on each corner in order to make your frame. I glued it and painted it, then masked off the same size square on the side of the kitchen. I used the formula from pinterest for making your own chalkboard paint (1/2 c paint+1 T unsanded grout). It worked like a charm!. My only suggestion is that you let it dry thoroughly before you glue on the frame. That will save you the trouble of having to touch up the botched corners with a different paint (because you ran out of the the other one). I think after a few months of chalk, you won’t be able to notice, but I know it’s there. Grrr.

I made coordinating apron, potholders, oven mitt and dishtowels from the scraps for the final touch. Honest…it’s done!

TADA! We are pleased with the way it turned out.

And of course the best part was seeing how much fun she had with it. She dug right in and cooked us up some plastic eggs on a plastic pizza. YUM!

I am sure that she will be a really good cook!

The Button Box

I can’t believe that the granddaughter is going to be 2 next month. I swear it was just last month that I was rocking her and feeding her a bottle. Honestly, I’m getting a little freaked out about how time is passing by so fast. It didn’t go this fast when I was younger. I swear it.

Of course this big event requires a new dress. In my head, I see this beautiful child in a frilly dress with matching accessories. All of her little friends and their mothers will oooo and awww at the matching bow and bracelet while my daughter looks at me with a sweet smile and says “It’s beautiful…you are the best Granny in the world”. This darling child picks up her fork to nibble at her cake, being careful not to get anything on her lovely dress.  In reality, the cake will be in the fingers, on the dress, and in the hair. I figure that within 10 minutes the matching accessories will probably hit the dirt, along with the sash on the dress. My daughter will be so busy feeding toddlers that she will whiz past me with a peck on the cheek saying “thanks mom” and go off to rescue her carpet from the herd of kids with cupcakes. Within 20 minutes, the dress will have food spatters and grimy fingerprints and grass stains…and that is all just perfectly fine with me. I think reality is a bit more fun than my starched and pressed imagination. We are definitely not a family that will ever be portayed in a Martha Stewart magazine!

I loved making this dress. I want to make more. It is one of the cutest, easiest things that I’ve ever managed to pull together in my rushed and sloppy way. It can be made in about an hour. Add an hour for the sash, 2 hours for the bows, 1 hour for the bracelet, and another hour ironing and posing it for picture….well that’s just me. You can make in an hour…promise. The tutorial I used is from The Crafty Cupboard. I Found it on Pinterest…where else? Cute huh?

 So how is this post related to a Button Box? Well, since I try not to write about random things that interest only me (like all of the above), I have to find my inspiration somewhere. And while I was making the matching hair bow, I had to get out THE Button Box.

The button box is probably the single thing that I possess that brings my Mom back to me for a few minutes. It’s old and beat up and is so beautiful to me. It’s an original, back when shabby wasn’t chic, just practical. I have no idea whose fruit cake it was, or if anyone ate it. Since nothing was ever wasted in my family, I am sure that someone choked it down. And I know that Mom spied that tin and thought of the millions of things she could store in there. She was a keeper in more ways than one!

There is no end to the treasures that it contains. As a child, I thought it was magical and was so proud when a button from my outgrown clothes made it into the box. I know they are still in there somewhere.  I am sure there buttons from all 5 of us, plus the ones that I’ve added over the years.

There are common buttons.

There are some matching ones

There are bargain buttons

There are very ugly buttons that resemble severed fingertips.

There are some really pretty ones that are one of a kind.

There is even a little tiny bunny rabbit button and a little wooden goose left over from my country decorating days.

When I was very small, my Mom used to have me do little chores for her to “help her out”. You guessed it! Separating the buttons by color and stringing them together so they would be “easier to find”.  Of course now I know that she was just keeping me busy and out of her hair by making me feel productive and useful. I think that this is a dying art in parenting. I fear that kids are losing that feeling of “helping” because it’s so much easier to stick them in front of the tv than to make up a job for them to do. I think that these small tasks that Mom delegated to me helped to form my work ethic and my servant’s heart, and I am grateful every day for those qualities.  There were lots of little things that I helped with such as sorting through her mementos and pictures which gave me a love for old trinkets and baubles and histories. I can remember beating rugs (to make me spend time outside;) washing dishes (and if you don’t get them clean, Daddy will make you do the ALL over again); cleaning the bathroom (because you can make it all shiny!); grating carrots (for my birthday carrot cake and carrot raisin salad ((YUM)); snapping beans and shelling peas (which I HATED to do). The list goes on, but you get the point. Hands were not idle in our house. I do have a hard time sitting still and I like to be doing something with my hands,  or reading, or eating :-/ at all times. I have a hard time relaxing. But it’s much better than the alternative of sitting around on my keister. I am so blessed to have had parents who understood the value of work…not just for money but for that inner satisfaction you get from a job well done. Thanks Mom and Dad!

My Little Redneck Garden

I’ve always been a gardener….in my head. My Dad was the BEST gardener I’ve ever known. He did it right….tilled and fertilized and babied his plants. We composted everything from the kitchen…our very lives were threatened if we threw away any compostable material.  He had the touch. But he wouldn’t do anything frivolous like flowers or shrubs….no sireee. Huge cauliflower. Cucumbers that were as long as his arm. Okra that grew up over his head with 8″ pods that were still tender enough to fry. His tomatoes probably could have earned him a record somewhere.

Maybe all that garden/canning/freezing frenzy scared me away from wanting a vegetable garden. Or maybe I am aware of the fact that all my farmer ancestors would be rolling over in their graves when they saw my weeds, puny plants, and bug-infested harvest. I can promise you, that’s what it would be. I don’t have the patience or the time to do it. I will just mooch off of others or buy what I need.

So why am writing about gardens? Because I want flowers and shrubs and trees and bushes and ornamental grasses. I want a little place to sit outside where I can hear the birds and see the butterflies and smell the earthy sweetness that you can only get from living plants. I want tacky, quirky little accents that match my tacky and quirky personality. ( I believe they call it “whimsical”!)  I want a place where the dogs can visit but not “make it their own”. A place where I can sit out with my family and catch fireflies and watch the kids play in the sprinkler. I want a place that is small and contained and easily maintained. I want something like this……..

So why don’t I have it? Because I don’t know how! I am 55 years old and everything I have ever planted has died. My son-in-law gave me the best present 2 years ago. He planted a little area with azaleas and flowers….he worked so hard on it. He bought the good garden soil and dug and sweated for a whole day to get it done. I babied it and watered it and fertilized it and talked to it. And they all died. The bushes never took root….I watched one of them get caught in the wind and just blow away! I was so sad…..

As I mentioned earlier, my sister is a huge inspiration to me. Whatever she needs or wants to do…she just does it! So after my vacation this year, I determined that “by golly….I’m just going to do it!” Right or wrong, I was going to sweat and dig and tote and carry and stack and hang….whatever I needed to do to get a little garden started. I didn’t care if it was just a few bricks and a tree….I was going to get it started. I may not know much, but I do know that NOTHING in this life ever gets done without being started. Even a bit at a time. So I ordered a bunch of discounted cheap trees. We planted a little red bud that my son-in-law gave us. I went to the nursery when everything was 75% off and bought dracaena, grasses, peonies, hibiscus, and a crepe myrtle. I went to Lowe’s and bought vincas and moss roses for 50% off. Now the reason everything was so cheap is because planting time is past here….it’s too HOT. But did I care? NO.  Did I research these plants to make sure they were okay for my area or soil or sun/shade? NO. (That would require planning and forethought and I hate that.  I don’t read instructions either. I just fiddle with it and try to get it right…and then give up and have hubby do it 😉 )  I decided to be safe and just use containers and do the real planting in the Fall. But I was excited! I was actually DOING something that I wanted/needed to do! YEAH!  In North Dakota I saw some painted boots used as planters. I wanted that! I saw old pitchers and teapots with flowers spilling out. I wanted that! I saw old rusted out pans filled with succulents. I wanted that! So now I have that! Not the garden of my dreams yet, but I got started…and that’s good enough…for now.

Now I know all you snobby gardeners are laughing at me! And I don’t really care. You have to start where you are with what you have. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t up to someone else’s standards.  I’m having fun with it. I’m babying my plants and trying to keep them cool. I am appreciating them. I am giving them LOTS to drink in this heat. I move them to the shade when it gets to be too much. They are still alive! It’s a miracle. And our little red bud tree has tripled in size since I gave it some company. Hubby is even talking Pergola! So all you doubters and haters out there….miracles can and do happen all the time. Can’t wait to post an update this next year!


One of the most memorable stops on my vacation was one that was not planned. On the drive to Rapid City, we spotted a HUGE cemetery outside of Sturgis. It appeared to be a federal site, but neither of us knew anything about it. We made a note to check it out on our way back.

On the return trip, I got out my favorite tool…my iPhone…and googled the cemetery. Turns out it is the Black Hills National Cemetery. So why am I writing about this? Because it’s a sight that will stay with me forever. I don’t get out much…I’ve never been to Arlington or any other large Veteran’s cemetery. So seeing something of this magnitude really got to me.

This is only a very small portion of it. It amazed me that there are soldiers who died at the Battle of Little Big Horn and soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan buried side-by-side. It just stirs my soul to think that these soldiers that die in different decades, different countries, and different wars can come together as brothers again in this beautiful setting.

I consider myself a patriot…a loyal citizen of the United States of America. But I waver at times during these troubled days. By that I mean that sometimes when I see the things that are happening, I just want to grab my family and run to some island far far away.  But when you see a sight like this it brings you back. You can’t see this and not see acts of bravery that have worked together to form this Nation. Those acts of bravery are still happening every single day. It’s so easy to forget. I work with Veterans on a daily basis, and yet I still forget. We all get caught up in the negative, whether it’s politics or the economy or just life in general. But on this day I vow to remember that every single thing I have today is a gift that was fought for by someone somewhere. Because we can’t see it or touch it doesn’t make the sacrifices any less of a reality. This isn’t Veterans Day or Memorial Day. It’s Independence Day. And I am thankful that I am not bowing to a Queen somewhere or being tortured for my beliefs. It could have been so were it not for these….

Two Sisters

I promised vacation stories, though there really isn’t much to tell about where I went and what I did. This vacation was more about who I was with. I was lucky enough to spend time with two of the greatest women I know.

First I went to see my best friend in California. That seems like an insignificant title for someone you have been friends with for over 45 years. So yes, she is my BFF and a sister of my heart. She has been through so much in her life and managed to come out in one piece on the other side. She is a lesson in perseverance and faith. I can’t tell you what all she has been through, because she is going to write a book and it’s a secret! But I will tell you this….she is the epitome of a faithful person to me. She has been betrayed by so many and yet she still trusts God. She yells at him sometime, but I promise He doesn’t mind. She just keeps keepin’ on and I love her like a sister. We fight like sisters too. Give us a few weeks together and we are trying to kill each other. But it’s all good….we always seem to come back. And we needed this little visit to reconnect after a few years apart.

She picked me up at the airport and we went straight to the beach! I had my toes in the water about an hour after touchdown! We didn’t stay long, but I got my little fix. I got to see her new home and spend some quality time with her. I also got to see her son and meet his new bride. Beautiful girl! From Orange County CA I flew straight to Minot, North Dakota. What a change!

My other sister is my sister! She is 10 years older than I am, so we really didn’t get close until I was in my 20’s. The few things that I remember about my childhood with her is that she thought I was her big doll and would dress me up and pose me for pictures.

As I grew older, she helped me so much by telling me what to do giving me guidance in raising my family, cooking, and all that stuff that girls need to know. Between my Mom and my sis, I had two strong women to steer me in the right direction. We are so much alike in so many ways, and yet so different in others. But we “get” each other. This is a good thing, because nobody else does!

We completed a 3 day rush road trip. First stop was the Medora Musical. It would have been lots of fun except for the rain. Did I mention that this takes place outdoors? The rain did quit long enough for us to see most of the show, and it was quite an experience. We were blessed with a double rainbow that appeared right over the stage!

The next day we meandered down to South Dakota heading toward Mt. Rushmore. Of course, I was posting a “check-in” on Facebook wherever we went. And I won’t deny that I did a “check-in” every time we drove past a bar or casino. My husband informed me that it doesn’t count unless you go in. Says who? I thought sure our kids would call the State Troopers on us, but I guess they knew us better than that. Anyway, the check-ins served a totally unexpected (but awesome) purpose. Our niece and her boys, who we hadn’t seen in about 10 years, were going to Mt Rushmore too!  So after a nice evening in Rapid City, we headed to Mt Rushmore and had a quick visit with her. That was pretty special!

We said goodbye to the Presidents (I was pretty impressed with them!) and headed back to Minot. We had one day to recover before my flight home.  Something was confirmed for me during this visit. My sister truly is my hero. She is 65 years old and has not let ANYTHING keep her down. She moved to Minot for a new job opportunity at the age when most people just want to sit at home. She tackled a new challenge because she felt she needed a challenge in her life. How cool is that? New town, new position….I’m not sure I could do it. But she has pushed through everything that got in her way because she saw an opportunity to grow, both professionally and financially, and she just took it. She’s an amazing lady, and I think I will hang onto her for a very long time! By this time, I was a little tired and missing my husband a lot. So back to the old routine for me. This was possibly the best vacation I ever had, but all good things must come to an end.

I truly was ready to come home. I have a loving husband who supports all my whims and puts up with my quirks. There’s two big ol’ fur babies that were SO excited to see me. I have a good job to come back to at a time when so many don’t have one. I have grandbabies to spoil rotten. And I have two best friends/sisters on opposite ends of the country that I can always count on for anything. I. Am. Blessed.

Sloppy Sewing is Just Fine

I am going to try my first mini-tutorial. Maybe it’s a tutorialette? It’s not rocket science, but since so many people read my blog 🙂 I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try. My daughter hit me up on Pinterest about making a skirt for the baby girl out of big brother’s old jeans. Sounds simple enough and oh-so-cute! But first I must get off on a tangent here….

People have told me all of my life that I am “just like Granny”. Everytime someone says it, I scratch my head and think…hmm. From what I remember, Granny was called “fastidious”. She was a measure twice, cut once kind of woman. She finished what she started. She was organized. She was on top of things. None of those things describe me. I am scatter-brained. I measure once and end up cutting 5 times ( while ruining items 1-4). I am a messy housekeeper. I don’t balance my checkbook. I don’t measure much when I cook, or sew (more on that later). Basically anything that involves a number, other than my Iphone, I am not very interested in.  And I rarely finish what I start and I have a whole craft room full of half-done clever things to prove it. Actually I really believe that my SISTER is like Granny. She balances her checkbook. She makes quilts that are square and perfect and beautiful. She finishes things (usually). And she can be a bit “fastidious” at times about some things. So maybe I am adopted?

Even though I didn’t get to know her very well as she died when I was about 10, my Grandma sounds like the cloth I was cut from. It was said that she was a little sloppy in most things, and a bit scatterbrained at times. I have one of her quilts, and lets just say it’s a little less than perfect, which is just the way I like it! Mom told the story of Grandma serving up a big glass of tea to a visiting preacher. But she had so many gallon jars on her countertop that she accidentally gave him the vinegar instead of the tea! Thankfully I don’t have many ministers come to call. There is no telling what they would get.

But regardless of who I get my quirks from, I am who I am. I am 55 and just starting to figure out that it’s pretty okay to be me. And if my sewing is a little sloppy…oh well. It’s not like I enter it in the county fair! And this project is for my granddaughter who will likely outgrow it in about 15 minutes anyway.

So back on topic here. The skirt made out of blue jeans. Here goes:

I cut the little boys jeans off just under the back pockets. Just leave enough to sew on the ruffle later. I didn’t measure…just eyeballed it. Cut across the crotch seam  and then lay flat so you can even it out. It should look like a skirt….cause it is! Basically, you will be sewing your ruffle right under the pockets in back and right under the zipper in front.

For the ruffle I cut two strips, both 45 inches wide because that’s how long my fabric was. One less measurement to take! I cut one strip 4″ and one 6″. Sew each of them together so that you have 2 loops of fabric, them hem one long edge. Here is where it’s a tiny bit tricky.

Since I was going to be sewing gathered fabric to denim, I wanted as few layers as possible since I am famous for breaking needles. When I break needles, I tend to walk away from the machine in disgust for about a month. I wanted to finish this. So I wanted as little bulk at the seams as possible. So rather than attach the ruffles to each other right sides together, I had the longer bottom ruffle face up, and the wrong side of the top ruffle attached to that to form the seam. That way when the top ruffle is flipped over you have a nice finished seam at the top. Basically I just laid it together how I wanted it to look, pinned the seam together, and sewed them in place. Hopefully it makes sense looking at the picture. If not…just play it by ear. That’s what I did.  Once you get your ruffles attached to each other and pressed, you need to stitch about 1/2 inch from the seam to make your gathering stitches. I don’t have a ruffler attachment or I would use that. Well I might actually have one, but I wouldn’t have a clue how to use it. My sister would though…. I just sew a fairly straight line and pull the thread until it starts gathering. Then I hope it stays gathered long enough for me to pin it in place!

Once your ruffle is gathered evenly, you can start pinning it to the outside of the jeans. Your ruffle will be on top, so if you want to pencil a straight line around the jeans to be sure its straight, you can do that. But I just eyeballed it. 😉 Carefully stitch the ruffle to the jeans, easing your ruffle as needed to make it fit. Or you can get it real bunchy on one side and fight to steal ruffles on the other side, which is what I did.

Once you get the ruffle attached, trim the denim close to the stitching to reduce the bulk. Press if needed (NOT). and add whatever embellishments you need to cover up the holes on the pocket! I added buttons from Mama’s button box, because Mom was organized like that. I am so glad I have her button box….I wouldn’t have been smart enough to think of that on my own.

Anyway, I think it turned out pretty cute. Good enough for my country kids anyway. And I got it done even if I didn’t measure much or press much. And it turned out fine. My expectations of myself are like that. I try too hard sometimes. But chances are if I just relax a little and do it “good enough”, it really will be.


She is wearing her new skirt to coordinate with her black and blue eye! This was from a playground spill that required the ER and stitches. This child is going to make us all old before our time!