Monday, January 31, 2011

Beauty Classes

When I was young, my mother told me I was beautiful. I felt gangling and uncertain like teenagers do, but Mama knew me well and helped me get set up in a program that encouraged and taught lessons on personal grooming, charm and manners.

There were quite a few girls in my beauty class, most of us were seniors at the local high school. We learned how to sit, walk and talk during our classes. We all lived in the town of Yucaipa, California and the year was 1972.

Now that it is 2011, it has been almost 40 years since those days. I still remember quite a few things I learned. One lesson that I still use daily is that a pumice stone keeps your feet and other easily calloused areas soft. Another lesson that I think about regularly is how to sit on a chair, when wearing a dress, so you don't flash the world. They taught us how to converse with people you have never met before and how to be kind and gracious, even in disappointment. I was quite tall so I remember practicing how to walk in heels so I could be graceful. I remember being taught that a smile makes everyone feel more comfortable and it is an expression that should be worn most often.

I took these classes for a few months, from February until April, when we had a pageant at the school gym to show what we had learned. I won the highest honors at that pageant and it helped give me confidence that I still rely on to this day. Three years later my sister also signed up for the program and did quite well, too.

I'll always be grateful for my mother who could see me for more than I could. When we were discussing the opportunity I remember mom telling me that by signing up for the classes I would learn things that would help me throughout my life and that when I was a young mother or mature woman I would look back on that time with appreciation and satisfaction--and she was right. It was an experience that changed my life for good.

Thanks Mom.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


After 3 days of service I had two contradicting reviews of my grandparent skills.

Review #1
"You're not that old--You are a good grandma--Grandma's are supposed to be fun--right?"

Review #2
"You don't do it like my mom"

Also heard from the back seat, " I am lucky--I chose good parents!"

I have to agree with that last statement, my grandchildren all chose good parents.

I also agree with review #2--I don't do it just like mom, but I have learned that your very own mom is the best mom for you. No one loves you as much as your own mother, no one understands you as well as your own mother. A grandma loves you and cares about you, she has your best interest at heart as well as experience and time on her side, but she is not as good as your very own mother. But, sometimes change is good for both mom and child --change is as good as a rest and helps you appreciate what you sometimes take for granted.

As a side note, I remember now how I was able to stay thin when the children were small--no time to eat and you run all day long. Guess more grandma time is needed to loose these extra 20 pounds. Okay everyone--get out the calendar and sign up for your week. We'll call it the grandma workout, you will be doing me a favor.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

10 in the Bed

My daughter and her sweetheart are off and I have the privilege of caring for their children while they are gone. Eden and I have been having fun taking care of household matters while her brother is at school.

I have been a preschool teacher for almost as many years as I have been an adult. I have learned that almost everything a mom and child does at home can be a learning experience.

Yesterday, Eden and I practiced our backwards counting. It started innocently enough with the need to make the beds and soon we were bouncing and singing and counting.

When I went to climb into my bed last night there was hardly room for me--Eden had piled all of her stuffed animals and dolls into the bed and I felt like saying--"toys in the bed and the grandma said 'Roll over, roll over' So they all rolled over, and one fell off, leaving......."

After a short nights sleep--5:30m comes so early--Eden and I are off to enjoy our day. Hope you enjoy yours too!

Friday, January 21, 2011

January R&R

My sweetheart brought me along on his business trip this week. We have been in Colorado Springs. Every year he seems to have a week long trip in January and since the children have been on their own, he has invited me to join him. It has become my yearly R&R trip.

I take the time to catch up on 'me':
  • reading a novel
  • cleaning out my email
  • long soaking baths
  • crocheting
  • home improvement shows
  • sleeping in
  • taking a walk
  • looking out the window and dreaming
  • working on preschool lesson plans
  • crocheting
  • reading some of my favorite magazines
I don't usually venture out of the hotel too far--I am not that adventuresome. I am especially happy if the room has a microwave and a fridge. If they provide free breakfast it is a bonus. Sometimes I look like a squirrel gathering food and utensils to provide for lunch in the room.

It snowed while we were here on Wednesday night. It was cold and blustery outside. My sweetheart and I looked at the weather, and then the stash in the fridge I had accumulated, and decided to stay in. We had quite the feast of Mexican left overs, comfort food left overs (steak, potatoes and veggies), some soup for an appetizer, orange slices to garnish the plates, and warm cookies for dessert--It was delicious.

We were to be in the hotel 5 nights. The second night we had to change rooms because the air quality in our non smoking room diminished, courtesy of one of our neighbors. During the third day this same sneaky neighbor encouraged us to change again. When my sweetheart came back from work early that day he got quite the surprise when he went to our room and it was being cleaned. The housekeeper told him that the people in the room had checked out!! Thank goodness for cell phones.

I did this to my sweetheart one other time, while we were in England, and our cell phones did not work--eventually we found each other again. I look quite comical as I repack our suitcases and try to haul two peoples gear from room to room. Then there was the night we changed rooms in California and my daughter could not remember the change and did not know where we were.

The people here have been so friendly and kind. It has been a pleasure to take my January R&R in Colorado Springs. Today we catch a flight home. I have Saturday to do some laundry and repack my bag before I head out on Sunday afternoon. Charlotte is my destination and a week of fun with the grandchildren while their mom and dad go on their own January business trip R&R. It should be a fun week.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


I have spent some time on my thought word from Monday:

re·fined (ri fīnd) adjective

  1. made free from other matter, or from impurities; purified
  2. free from crudeness or coarseness; cultivated; elegant
  3. characterized by great subtlety, precision, etc.

Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio.

re·fined (rĭ-fīndˈ) adjective

  1. Free from coarseness or vulgarity; polite.
  2. Free of impurities; purified.
  3. Precise to a fine degree.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition Copyright © 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

I do not know if I can ever reach the perfection of "3. Precise to a fine degree."

But I am daily working on "2. free from crudeness or coarseness; cultivated; elegant"

Refinement in a person is an ongoing process.

I have heard it said that we are like a crude piece of coal and the pressures of everyday living help turn the coal into a beautiful shining diamond, if we will let them.

Life is full of daily disappointments and frustrations. It is how we let those experiences mingle in our lives that decides if we will be a curmudgeon in our old age. The bumps and bruises of life can help shine and sparkle the beautiful gem that we are, or make us scarred and deformed.

It is our choice to let life's experiences refine us to the perfection we were meant to be. We can't do anything about the rocks of life we stumble into, but we can choose how we will react as we fall.

Becoming a refined person is a lifelong pursuit. Daily choices with elegance and purity as a goal.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dorothy May

Today is the anniversary of my Mother in law's birthday. She was born January 18, 1924. She lived her entire life in the state of Utah and most of it within a few miles of Ogden. She ventured out a few times for TDY and to come visit her children as they moved around, but mostly she was a stay close to home kind of girl.

She spent most of her life in the single lane, though her few years of marriage gave her a son and daughter that she adored. Her children gave her 9 grand children and before she passed away her great grand children numbered 18.

She bought a cute little house up on 3rd street where she lived for more than 45 years. She loved her little house and kept it neat, tidy and updated. She loved to go uptown to shop and she had the same hairdresser that she visited weekly for over 30 years.

Mom was passionate about some things and passive about others and you never knew when the passion might come out. She had closets full of clothes and enjoyed jewelry and shoes. She loved food as long as it was not chicken, and a snack of cheese, nuts or candy was always welcome.

My husband and I were with her most of the last month of her life. It was good to share those quiet moments. She had been my mother in law since I was 18, we shared our lives for 35 years. I loved her very much and I miss her. I hope she thought I took good care of her grand children and was a good wife to her son.

Dorothy May Butcher was a mother and grandmother filled with love for her family. Happy Birthday Mom.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Yesterday I listened to a wonderful talk on Gratitude.

I have known for a long time that being thankful for the things you have makes a person more gentle, kind and happy.

It is the philosophy of looking at half a donut and seeing the sugared delight and not the hole, taking a half glass of milk and enjoying the cool refreshing taste as it couples with the donut and not measuring who got more--you or the person you are sharing the sweet treat with.

Gratitude makes you happy to have a friend to share with.

Selfishness makes you wish for the whole calorie filled diet buster for yourself forgetting the delight that comes in sharing a sweet moment.

A few thoughts I took away from the talk were:

gratitude precedes miracles. If only because you have a different way of looking at the things that are happening in your life.

We should be humble enough to cherish the blessings we already have. We live in an awesome era. Most of us have plenty to eat. We live in homes where we are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We have clothes to wear and shoes for our feet. When tired we have a comfortable bed to sleep in.

Joseph B. Wirthlin is quoted as saying,
"Gratitude is the mark of a refined soul"

Refined is my thought word for today as I mentally list my blessings.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


On a cold winter day there is something about a hot bowl of soup.

I did not like soup when I was younger. To this day I prefer thick creamy soups, although I am starting to appreciate a bowl of steaming delight with a variety of tastes and treats swimming in a savory broth.

Tonight I am on my own for dinner. My sweetheart is at a business meeting and I have been busy organizing and cleaning my pantry. My tummy started to remind me it was meal time so I went to the fridge to find a left over or two that might do. I found some leftover veggies and a bit of soup--tossed it all together and warmed it up. Added a piece of homebaked whole wheat bread and a glass of milk--YUMMM. Comfort food for a cold winter night.

My mother gave me a cook book for Christmas--one of those books where everybody submits their favorite recipe. I have had fun reading it and earmarking new recipes to try. In the tips area there was a suggestion to pour vegetable cooking water and left over vegetable pieces into a freezer container. When the container is full add tomato juice and seasoning to make a cost free surprise soup for dinner.

It is just recently that I have started having left overs like that. Seems that I sometimes still cook for an army when there is just a couple eating. I guess I need to find myself a freezer container and start the makings for a pot of surprise soup. Tonight I found left over cabbage and lima beans--strange items for my fridge--but they were requested by my grand daughter--who knew a 9 year old would like lima beans??

After tonight's tastey delight I am excited to find out what the next suprise soup has to offer.

Don't know if I can top lima beans and cabbage.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


There are some fun days on the calendar this year:

New Years Day was 1-1-11
My husband tells me yesterday was a fun day for computer smarties: 01.10.11 and October will offer up a few more 01 days on the 1st, 10th and 11th
Today is 1.11.11
In November we get 11-1-11 and 11-11-11

I have a coupon for the craft store that is valid today only for an item I have been looking at. YEA!!

This morning we woke up to about a half an inch of ICE which means closed schools and no work or late openings throughout the county. How does that affect my coupon?? I will call the store and see if they are closed like they should be and maybe they will honor the coupon tomorrow.

Surprise--they are open and the coupon is good only today!! Now I have a dilemma on my hands. Do I go out in this when they are asking everyone to stay home unless it is an emergency? Is the craft store an emergency type store that should be open??

I enjoy staying home on icy days, they are like a bonus day. Time to get the oven working and a game or puzzle on the table. A hot pot of soup and home made bread sounds like a treat to warm the soul.

Nope--the craft store is not an emergency type store that needs to be open--even if it is 1-11-11

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sunday Dinner

When I was a little girl my grandma would cook a Sunday meal and invite her family to share it with her. Roast beef, mashed potatoes swimming in gravy and home made rolls with melted butter. All these years later I can still smell and taste the delicious offering.

When we moved away my mom would cook a roast or chicken every Sunday. My other grandparents would come visit and I have many happy memories of our family lingering over a good meal with pleasant conversations.

When my sweetheart and I were married we shared Sunday dinner with my parents at their house for the first few years. Later, after my parents moved, I started cooking Sunday dinner at our house and have done so for over 30 years now.

Today I was excited to fix Sunday dinner for my family in my renovated kitchen. I read the instructions for the new stove and set the timer to cook the roast while we were at church. We returned home and were greeted by the smell of roast beef. The rolls were raising on the counter and ready to put in the oven. I started the water boiling for the mashed potatoes and vegetables. Put the drippings on the burner to make the gravy then realized that the burners were not heating.

OH, NO!! What is this?? I got out the manual and read the instructions. Looked for safety features that might be causing this phenomenon. Found the hot plate from the original remodel 10 years ago to finish the gravy. Put the veggies in the microwave.

When I have a hungry family to feed, I will figure out how to do it. One year we lost electricity just as I was cooking Christmas dinner--my sweet husband got out the camp stove for that meal. Today I am thankful for alternative cooking methods inside the house and grateful I do not need to build a fire and get out the dutch oven.

Today we had a meal to remember. It tasted delicious, not cooked with conventional methods, but a hungry family was fed and an enjoyable conversation enjoyed. Tomorrow I will make telephone calls. What will the answer be????

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Return and Report

I've been busy working on that to-do list I created for myself the other day.

Sometimes when I am overwhelmed I have found it helps if I write it all down and then start whittling away at the mountain until it becomes a mole hill I can live with.

With the help of my sweetheart we got the laundry folded and mostly put away. I've been working on cleaning out the cabinets and sorting through things I really do not need anymore. The repair man came to visit and after a bit of work and hot water things are functioning like they are supposed to. The small art brush and I have been friends today doing the touch up of straight paint lines.

I talked to a few friends yesterday and they still have their Christmas up so I decided not to worry about that today, maybe this weekend--besides--I love the tree lights at night.

While I was out paying the Tax Man yesterday I stopped to look for a 2011 calendar and found a pretty one for just $1--guess waiting until after the start of the year has a few benefits. I think I will set up a new household information center not in my kitchen, my ideas are still working on that one.

Yes, the mountain is becoming a size I can handle. I try to remember the little engine at times like this:

I think I can, I think I can!

Monday, January 3, 2011


I am a bit overwhelmed. It is a new year and I want to write about my goals, blessings and hopes that were realized last year and dreamed of for this year.

I received a family history book about my grandparents and am so excited to sit down and read about my heritage. Family History wants a bit of my time lately....when????

I look at the kitchen my husband and I have been working on this last week and want to write about how good it feels to refresh that which is tired and make it new again.

I look at the mess around me from Christmas, travel and home remodeling and just want to get busy and clean it up--but, where to start?? Put away Christmas first?? Touch up the paint first?? Put items back into the cabinets first?? Do the laundry first?? Unpack the suitcase--gotta fill it up again next week, Hmmmm??

I look at my new appliances and want to load up the fridge and start the DW but both need a visit from a professional before they are ready to go--seems the doors do not fit right, but the Microwave and stove are working--good, I can cook dinner tonight.

I look at the calendar and see the tight schedule I am on this month with doctor visits, repair men, and travel for work and family. My phone is ringing from ladies I need to visit but, I need to stay home and take care of.....

It is a new year. New opportunities to make good choices. But which one is the best good choice??

Gotta get organized--Need a 2011 calendar, Need 26 hour day, Need to write down a daily schedule, Need more energy and brain power--That should do it!!

Now where to find those items??