Sunday, December 31, 2017

Photo Blogging Challenge (December 2017): Holly Jolly

For a number of years we have talked about going to Stan Hwyet's "Deck the Hall" Christmas event.  We finally made it earlier this month, and it was spectacular!  Over one million lights decorated the property.  We will definitely be back next year.

The large trees in front of the Manor House had snow flakes hung high up in the top branches.  They looked beautiful alongside the year's only full supermoon.

The Music Room had multiple trees and numerous other decorations.

Stan Hwyet is staffed mostly by volunteers, without whom the place could not function.  This gentleman was directing to flow of visitors inside the house and was answering questions as well.

One of the many decorated Christmas trees inside the house.  Each one seemed to be prettier than the last.  This one is in the Great Hall.

The house and lights shined brightly in the reflecting pool. 

Bonus: There is a courtyard by the Carriage House that was setup to look like an old village square.  A large, decorated Christmas tree was set in the center and little chalets surrounded it, selling all sorts of treats.  In the window of the Carriage House was decorated to look like a bake shop.  The children seemed to love it.
To see more, visit A 'lil Hoohaa


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Jump Start Week 2, Take 2

aka On the Third Day of Christmas

I think I was beging a little optimistic that I could write weekly, this time of the year.  After all, there is much merriment to be had!  I am hoping that is has been the same for you as well.

So, what is your favorite Christmas memory?  Perhaps it was long ago.  Or, maybe it was this year.  Inquiring minds want to know!

Week three is being postponed to next week.  Jump on in with Week 2.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Jump Start (2): Remember When?

I was all set to write about the Christmas that I gave my dad a bird, whether he wanted it or not.  But, a glass of wine and a walk with the dog tonight got me thinking about our first, married Christmas.  Better story.  Much better one.

Himself and I were married at the beginning of October.  About ten weeks after that we were planning on hosting both of our families for Christmas Day celebrations and dinner.  And, of course, that meant everything had to be perfect.

We were living in the fixer upper house that I had purchased a few years earlier.  I had done some remodeling, but the living room still wasn’t complete.  Let’s just say it needed a lot of work.

Before the wedding we had refinished the hardwood floors.  They were stained where the previous owner’s carpet had stuck to the floor when wet.  We won’t go into how it got wet, other than it involved a cat.

The paint on the walls was peeling in a number of spots, the result of painting over cigarette smoke stains.  For Christmas to be perfect, that had to be remedied.  We picked out paint and found material for matching curtains.  We ordered blinds and an area rug.  I sewed and Himself painted.

Three days before Christmas we took a break from those chores and drove down to Amish country for a sofa table that we just had to have to make the room complete.  Since I had used all my vacation time for our honeymoon, we had to make the seventy-five minute drive after work.  Remember, this is December.  It gets dark early.  And, there are no lights along the hilly back roads.  It was somewhat light when we started out, but after we had loaded the table in the backseat of my car, it was pitch black.  As I drove, Himself kept a look out for the black buggies and dark horses for which the Amish are known.  Thankfully, we didn’t meet any up close and personal!

Two days later, on Christmas Eve, the painting was finally done, the blinds and curtains were hung, and the new table put in place.  But one thing was missing.  We didn’t have a tree.

I had remembered seeing a Christmas tree lot at the local Protestant church.  We drove down there and all the trees were dumped in a big pile.  We decided to try another place down the road, a florist shop, but they were sold out.

Back to the church we went.  We dug through pile and found something that didn’t look too beat up.  We knocked on the rectory door, hoping to find someone to pay for our find.  No one was around.  We “stole” our first Christmas tree!

We furiously decorated the tree, only taking a break to go to my parents’ house for Christmas Eve dinner.  The next morning we were up early to go to Mass and get the cooking underway.  I prepared a big turkey dinner that we served on our wedding china and crystal.

By the end of the day we were  exhausted, but happy.  It was perfect.  We got to celebrate Christmas as a new family.

That living room, not that year

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Jump Start (1): We All Write For Some Reason

When I was twelve years old or so, I wanted to be a writer.  I read constantly and loved that books could transport me to different times and places.  I wanted to create that, too.  I even started writing my first “novel”.  It was a story about a young girl with many siblings.  They lived in a large log cabin in the woods, ordered all their clothes and household goods from the Sears catalog, and were home schooled.  I think I might still have those pages torn from a spiral notebook.
A few years later, in a high school English class, we had to write a poem about something  in our life.  I put my heart and soul into that poem.  When the teacher had us each read our poems out loud to the class, I refused.  It was just too personal.
I think that poem taught me that words had power.  They had significance and could be lasting.  You use words to tell a story, capture history, save a memory.  We still read Chesterton, Augustine and Plato.  What they had to say is timeless.  It still makes sense today.
When I started this blog seven years ago, I wanted to let women dealing with infertility know that they could find truth, beauty and goodness in life whether they had children or not.   That was then.  But what about now?
I really had to stop and think why I still write here.  In many ways, blogging seems to be a dying art.  Why keep at it?  And I think it came down to this – words are important.  I still want to find truth, beauty and goodness in life.  I want to capture little glimpses of that.  I want to remind myself that no matter what is going on – goofy politics, natural disasters, horrible crimes, or just the everyday struggles – there is something more, something worth remembering.
And, that is why I write.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Blog Jump Start

At the beginning of November I mentioned doing a jump start back to blogging link up.  It sounded like a few people might be interested, so let's give it a try.

Every Tuesday morning, I will publish the linkup.  I also created a tab up top with the topics so you don't have to hunt down this post.  If the topic of the week doesn't do it for you, write what does.

Week 1:  We all write for some reason.  What's yours?

Week 2:  Remember when?  Christmas is in a week.  What are some of your favorite memories?

Week 3:  Draft folder clean up.  We all have those unfinished posts that hide out in our draft folder, on scrap pieces of paper, or in Word documents.  Finish one up, now.

Week 4:  Guess who's coming to dinner?  Living or dead, who would you invite?

Week 5:  TBD  Any suggestions?

Week 6:  Clean up, take two.  Just like week three.  Again, again!

Let the writing begin, again!

PS. Week 1 will be December 12th.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

Things I Would Have Missed

I went for a walk early this morning.  It was cold, down in the low twenties and heavy frost on the ground sort of cold.  It was much earlier than I would have like to be up on a Saturday morning.  When we started out, it was dark with just a hint of the sunrise that was still more than an hour away. 

But, when the hairy beast says he needs to poop, we walk.  Because somehow he just cannot manage to do it in our yard.  He must walk.

You know what?  It was glorious! 

If I didn't have this crazy mutt, I probably still would have been in bed.  And I would have missed the pinks and oranges and yellows that painted the sky as we returned home.

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Last night Himself wanted to show me the lights he had put on the house for Advent.  As we walked out the front door something very large flew in front of us and landed high in the treetops. Silhouetted by  the full moon behind it, sat a majestic owl.  Had we walked out the door even thirty seconds later, we would have missed it.

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I wonder how much I miss, what beauty I don't see.  These little opportunities make me grateful for what I do see.  Because it's there.  I just need to look.


Monday, November 20, 2017

Advent Prayer Buddies

I have to admit, I thought about not doing Prayer Buddies this year.  It was just pure laziness, no other reason.  But, sometimes God gives you people to remind you that some things do matter and are worth the effort.  

So, without further ado. . . 

In just a couple of weeks we will be starting Advent.  I don't know about you, but I haven't given a whole lot of thought yet about what I want to do.  The one thing, I do know, is that I am looking forward to increased, focused prayer for my Prayer Buddy. 

During Advent, you can say prayers, novenas, and rosaries, light candles, and offer up suffering for your secret Prayer Buddy and whatever intentions he or she specifies.  On Christmas, or shortly thereafter, you will let your assigned person who you are and how you remembered them.

Those interested in participating, please email me at:
I will need from you is:
Your first name or first initial
Your blog address and email address (or just email address if you are not a blogger)
Your intentions
Your full name
Your address
(Address can be provided if your Prayer Buddy plans to send you a small remembrance at Christmas)
DEADLINE FOR SIGN-UPS IS: Friday, November 30th

Friday, November 17, 2017

Quick Takes (34) - Where the Heart Is

- 1 -
I knew it has been a while since I did one of these posts, but it was much longer than I remembered.  Either time is going by too quickly, or my memory isn't what it used to be.  I'm not sure which of those two options I would prefer.

- 2 -
Once again, I was on the road for work this week.  And, once again, I am so glad to be home.  It was the third trip in as many months.  I'm hoping it stops for a while.  A long while.

- 3 - 
I attended a software user conference at the Aria in Las Vegas.  That place is enormous.  I spoke with a couple of women who had fit bits and one had 18,000 steps and the other was over 20,000 - in one day!  The hotel/casino/conference center puts on an exceptionally well organized event.  I was impressed by the people that work there.

On Monday, when I was walking back to my room during the afternoon break, several of the room cleaning staff were in the hallway, laughing.  They looked like they enjoyed each others' company and jokes.  One woman in particular, I do wish I could remember her name, had the most joyful smile and beautiful attitude about life.  We chatted for a while both that day and before I left on Wednesday.  What a great representative of the hotel was she!

- 4 - 
There was an expo in which vendors talked about their products and tried to generate new customers.  And, they gave stuff away.  It felt like trick-or-treating for adults.  Mostly it was do-dads like pens, paper, candy, and small flashlights.  But, there were a few really fun things.  Mimosas at 10:30am?  Yes, please!  A bag silk screened to order?  Thank you very much!  And a very cute monkey?  I'll definitely take one!

- 5 - 
Tuesday night's entertainment was a private concert by Train.  I can't say that I was familiar with their music prior to this event, but they put on one heck of a show.  I think I will soon be downloading some of their music.

- 6 - 
One of the nice things about my job is that I can work from home on occasion.  And after getting home late Wednesday night, yesterday was one of those days.  Mid-morning Himself brought me a nice treat. I should work from home more often!

- 7 -
“There are two ways of getting home; and one of them is to stay there.” 
The Everlasting Man by GK Chesterton

Don't forget to check out more Quick Takes at This Ain't The Lyceum.
Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

WIP(#11) - All Done!

It may have taken eight months, but the Irish Chain quilt is finally completed!  This was a fun project and I am so glad the the FB group, Catholic in Stitches, suggested it.  I have sewn nearly a dozen quilts before this one, but I certainly learned a lot on this one.  I think it just may be my favorite!

When finishing quilts in the past, I had always overlapped the ends of the binding.  It is not the best way as the join tends to be a bit bulky and obvious. Pinterest to the rescue!  I found instructions here on how to properly join the binding.  What a difference that makes!  You cannot tell where the two ends meet.

I frequently have problems getting the corners on my quilts just right.  I found a great tutorial, again via Pinterest, that was extremely helpful.  Check it out here.   

On to the next project!


Thursday, November 2, 2017

This and That

You know what they say the road to hell is paved with.  Well, when it comes to this blog, I picture that path being very long and quite nice looking!  I’ve got all sorts of posts started – on paper, in the draft folder, and floating around in my head.

I’ve read a lot of posts lately from bloggers wanting to get back at it.  Some do, some don’t.  I’m trying to figure out what works.  There was a link up last month, Write 31 Days, but if I can't write once every two weeks, how could I possible write daily?

Anyone interested in a once-a-week, jump start back to blogging link up?  I was thinking along the line of about six weeks, with some really easy topics.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Work travel seems to come in clusters.  I've been to our home office in Washington twice in the last six weeks or so and I'm heading to Vegas for a conference this month.  For whatever reason, some of my family seems to think this traveling is interesting and exciting.  I don't know why.  I feel like I should be mooing everytime I go through airport security and getting on and off the planes.  I don't sleep well and I don't eat right.  Home is where I'd rather be.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

On the first of the two Washington trips I figured out what my "theme" song should be.  While waiting in the Chicago airport for the delayed last leg of my trip home, I bought a "protein" breakfast box  (eggs, cheese, nuts) from one of the vendors.  Of course, just as I dig in, the flight starts boarding.  I saved the almonds to eat on the plane.  As I bit into one, something felt funny.  I busted a tooth.  Unfortunately, since it was Labor Day weekend, I had to wait for Tuesday to get it fixed.  My song after that is now Crown Her With Many Crowns!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

What a great World Series!  The only way it could have been better is if the Indians would have made it in again.  After a really great regular season, they had a most disappointing post season run.  I was even prepared with two new, politically incorrect Chief Wahoo, long sleeve t-shirts.  Oh well, maybe next year!  Now that there's no baseball to watch or listen to in the evenings, I don't know what I'm going to do.  

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The quilt is so, so close to being done.  There is just a lot of hand sewing to do.  The quilt shop, once again, did a tremendous job with the quilting.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Until recently, we have been having an unusually warm Autumn.  That has been great for the gardens.  Our pepper plants are still producing and the carrots are growing well.  We even had tomatoes up to about two weeks ago.  And to tell you just how dry this year has been, when Himself was digging out the potatoes, the steel tines of the garden fork bent almost ninety degrees!  

Because of the dryness, we didn't get many pumpkins or watermelons this year.  But the pumpkins we did get made for a tasty pie.  Pumpkin soup is on the menu this weekend.  

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I am officially hooked on Pinterest.  The soup recipe that I am going to try was found there.  And, it has been terrific for finding quilting ideas and techniques.  Hopefully, more on that later.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

The Hairy Beast thanks you for stopping by.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

More than a fair Fair

I don't have the best track record when it comes to attending concerts that I actually paid to see.  A couple of summers ago I got tickets to see The Band Perry at the local county fair.  That didn't happen

Earlier that same year I had tickets to go see Collin Raye at a fundraiser for a local volunteer fire department.  An ice storm hit just a few hours before we were suppose to leave and we heard many reports of cars off the road.  We didn't dare venture out into that mess.  And, probably ten years before that, tickets to Collin Raye once again went unused when a blizzard snowed us in.

Would the third time be the charm?

You bet!   Collin was playing at a county fair about fifty miles from our house.  In September, it was pretty safe to think we wouldn't have ice or snow to stop us from going.  Actually, the weather on Tuesday was perfect. 

What a great fair it was!  We never did see the animals.  We didn't get too far away from the rides, games and fair food before it was time for the concert to start.  The concert was excellent and he played some of my favorite tunes. 


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

WIP(#10) - On the Edge

That quilt I started back in March is getting so, so close to being done.  Between bouts of canning, I managed to get the edge sewn on.  There are four borders that are sewn on all four sides.  It's not difficult, just a bit awkward as the quilt grows larger and larger with each successive strip.

This weekend I dropped it off at a local quilt shop to have the quilting done.  Time and the lack of a long-arm machine keeps me from doing it myself.  They called yesterday afternoon, and it's done!

You know where I'll be tonight.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Advantages of Carrying a Weapon

A couple of weeks ago we decided that we wanted to go see an Indians baseball game.  It's probably been at least five years since the last time we went, and for people who used to have season tickets, it felt like forever.  I looked for a game that still had good seats, at a reasonable price, available.  I decided that Tuesday's game against Detroit was a good choice and got us a couple of tickets.

We left early so that we would have plenty of time to wander around the stadium.  A lot has changed since the last time we were there.  We also wanted to grab some dinner and I was set on having a Rally Drum Red Ale.  

We took a few pictures on the plaza with Bob Feller and Larry Doby and then headed to the entrance.  They scanned our tickets and I walked through the gate.  Himself followed after me.  


They now have metal detectors at the entrances.  Those weren't there five years ago.  So he had to empty his pockets to see what was causing the fuss.  Wallet - no.  Keys - nope.  Camera - maybe.   Pocket knife?  Yep!  That was it.

With the size property we have, a pocket knife is just a useful tool we have gotten in a habit of carrying.  But not, apparently, good at a ball game.  Since there was no place to 'check' it and pick it up after the game we had to bring it back to our car that was parked about a quarter mile away.  No big deal since we had given ourselves plenty of time.  

After stopping at the car, we decided to take a more 'scenic' route back to the ballpark - through an old cemetery neither of us had ever been in.  Every time we have gone by it, the gates have been closed.  What an interesting place!

The almost nine acre Erie Street Cemetery dates back to the early 1800's.  Among its interments are veterans who participated in conflicts from the Revolutionary War through the Spanish–American War as well as many of Cleveland's earliest pioneers and leaders.

“An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered; 
an adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered.” 
– G.K. Chesterton,  All Things Considered, 1908

Chesterton had it right.  Even before the game began, we had an adventure!

And, the Indians didn't disappoint.  Kluber's pitching was spot on and we saw victory number twenty - the game that tied the American League record for number of consecutive wins.

Go Tribe!



We haven't had this much excitement since last October and November in these parts!  I love my Tribe!


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Photo Blogging Challenge (August 2017) - Summer Fun

I haven't done one of the photo blogging challenges in a while.  I guess they were too challenging for me!  But, when I saw this month's theme, I was excited as I had a lot of ideas.  Paring down to just five photos was difficult, so I stuck with just one activity.

We finally went to the County Fair this year.  We have talked about going for a while, but something always got in the way.  Often the Chesterton conference was at the same time.  This year I took a day off and we visited on opening day.  And, boy, I'm glad we went!

From the pictures below it is obvious that my favorite part was the animals.  I couldn't take enough pictures of them.

This beautiful young woman was such a joy.  She was excited to pop in the picture of her horse and tell us about him.  Her dad, who was nearby, was just as excited and oh so proud of his daughter.  The horse's lineage goes back to one of the Kentucky Derby winners in the mid 1960's.  Dad mentioned the name of the horse, but mini memory that I have, I don't remember it.

I love goats.  They seems to have so much personality.  This cute one seemed to like to get his picture taken.

It was wickedly hot and humid the day we went.  The young people at this stand made a superb glass of lemonade - shaken, not stirred!

She had something to say and was telling anyone who would listen, and even those who weren't.

I had thought about entering a quilt into the competition this year, but didn't manage to get it done in time.  It looks like the competition was stiff.

Bonus.  Just because.

To see more, visit A 'lil Hoohaa


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

WIP(#9) - Getting Sauced

Let the canning begin!

Yes, it's that time of year.  The tomatoes are coming fast and furious and wait for no one.  This weekend we picked, cleaned, roasted and canned over 120 tomatoes.  It is what I would call a good start.

I've been waiting for this.  We used the last of the previous year's tomatoes in the spring and I cannot bring myself to use store bought spaghetti sauce.  It's a lot of work, but so worth it.  There is something about home grown, home canned sauce that can't be beat.

Our scarecrow has done a good job watching over the garden.  His job is not done just yet!