Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas pictures…

Thankfully we had a full house for Christmas this year. 

On most days, Whiskey guards the homestead at the kitchen window.  On Christmas Eve, Reagan took up post, watching and waiting.  We finally put her to work loading the food tray.  Judging from the looks of the tray, I think she has a future in catering, although there is some danger that she might eat the profits.


We always take a moment to remember the real meaning of Christmas with a scripture reading.  This year Allen and Anna read “The Meaning of Christmas” from Charlie Brown’s Christmas.

The laughter that filled the house was music to my ears.  It was also music to my ears when Travis opened his present of two shirts and said “sweet”.  Cody and Travis both got shirts from us and they both seemed happy with them.  Whew.  I’ve discovered as the grandkids get older, the gift buying gets more difficult.  I think they were all relieved that I didn’t insist they line up for a group photo.


It is a good thing that I have a good sense of humor.  Alicia and Greg gave me a basket full of cool gifts.  Tessa said she liked the basket, and I told her she couldn’t have it.  That is when Cara blurted out “she can have it when you die”.  We were all flabbergasted and she was like “What?  It’s true”.  I laughed so hard that I cried.  Good tears.


We bought blankets for Jim’s mom to give each of her Great Grandkids.  I embroidered their names on them.  It turns out that those blankets were the hit of the night.



The evening ended with a little Wii play, pool play, and horse play.  We had the best time!



And there you have it – Christmas at our house in the woods of Missouri.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post wishing everyone a very Blessed and Merry Christmas.

In the words of Tiny Tim, "God Bless us, everyone!"

 Tessa, Grandma, Julie, and Greg

Demon Dog, Whiskey

Friday, December 24, 2010

Almost here…

This is the sight that greeted me as I stood on my front porch this morning.  It couldn’t wait 24 hours?  I’m all for a white Christmas, but only on the grass.  Not the roads.  It is pretty, though, isn’t it.


I’m pretty sure Santa will show up, snow or no snow…



Julie’s and Tessa’s kids enjoy seeing the picture ornaments from long ago school days.



A bottle of glue and access to his dad’s workshop for a few hours resulted in Greg creating this treasured sled.


Ornaments from family no longer with us are hung with care.


There is also the occasional ornament from our first year of marriage that has survived the marching years.



Earlier this week, our friends (Patti from Osage Bluff Quilter and The Blacksmith, who we met through blog land, visited.  We had a wonderful afternoon as we snacked on holiday goodies and drank a little wine.   The Blacksmith was good enough to deliver some key chains I was giving as Christmas presents.  Check out his blog for a large selection of iron beautiful and unique iron work.

For the first time is 38 years, I did not get a single Christmas card mailed.  I feel so guilty as I open card after card from blog friends.  I so appreciate your good wishes.  You’ll never know when the odd card will turn up in your mail boxes.  Thank you for all the good wishes.  I hope you know they are sent back out to you from my heart.

One of my best friends, Rita B. had gall bladder surgery on Wednesday.  She has been having problems forever and kept insisting it was her gall bladder.  All of the tests came back negative, but she finally got a surgeon to listen to her.  The gall bladder is gone and so are the attacks.  It is kind of a bummer to be recovering from surgery this time of year, but I’m pretty sure the relief of no more pain is worth it.  Hope you are doing good Rita.  And stay off those stairs!


In case I don’t get back here tomorrow morning, I’d like to wish everyone a very merry and blessed Christmas.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Not for the faint of heart

Sunday was our annual trash the kitchen day.  Also known as Bake Day.  It is one of my favorite days of the year.

We started the Bake Day tradition in 1999.  Jim and I, and the kids and their families who can make it, get together and do our Christmas cookie baking.   We discovered this year that after so many years of doing this, we’ve developed a pretty good flow of who does what.  The big event of the day is always cutting out the sugar cookies, icing them and sprinkling.  This year when we put the leaves in the table to give us more work room, we discovered sprinkles from last year’s bake day hiding there.  Jim cleaned them out just in time for this year’s mess.


As the grandchildren get older, it is becoming more difficult to find time for what has become a very special day for me.  We always do it the weekend before Christmas.  There is nothing like fresh cookies.  I am hoping the day never comes when I find myself baking Christmas cookies alone again.  Surely someone will take pity on me and come dump a cup of flour or two, or a bottle of sprinkles, on the floor!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A little birdie…


Our annual Christmas Open House was a huge success. 

Deborah Cote/News Tribune
From left, Patti Dudenhoeffer, Deanna Haslag and Belinda Heimericks  all members of St. Andrews Catholic Church in Holts Summit. Each year these three women and their husbands (not pictured) put together a Christmas Open House at the Dudenhoeffer residence in Holts Summit for members of thier church come together and enjoy one anothers company while sharing some holiday cheer.

     I’m the glitzy red number in the middle

Getting ready for the party is about as much fun as the party itself.  We start weeks ahead of time, Patti getting her house ready, decorating and getting all of the fancy party dishes out, and me getting the invitation ready to go.  And of course there is the decision of what to make.  Whatever it is, it has to be fancy and different.  We make things like Asparagus Ham Wraps, Bacon Water Chestnuts, Stuffed Dates, Marinated Mushrooms, and Stuffed Mushrooms.


All of that food was lip smacking good!

The morning of the party we get together for the Booze Run.  It is amazing how many friends you can make when you are tooling through Wal Mart with shopping carts full of beer, rum, vodka, gin, bourbon, scotch and all of the mixers.  Several men were ready to go home with us.  I thought it was because we were so good looking, but Patti clued me in otherwise.

099Not only did our guests arrive, but a little birdie had tipped off the local newspaper about the Open House’s 10th Anniversary… and they showed up!



The little birdie, Rita, always thinks of doing nice things.  She is just that way.  Thank you Rita!  This isn’t the best picture of you, but somehow you managed, for the most part, to stay out of the camera lens.



At some point, many of the party goers retired to the downstairs to sing traditional Christmas carols.


After most of the guests had gone home, Patti (stupidly) pulled out the tequila and a few of the more adventuresome started doing shots.  No, I was not among them!  I learned a long (long, long…) time ago that shots and Deanna do not mix.  The big guy lived down the hill and could slide home.  The skinny guy also lived in the neighborhood, but up the hill, so his wife might have had to drag him home.  I’m not too sure how the middle guy made it home…  Fortunately, Patti was already home and able to just crawl into bed.

 Deborah Cote/News Tribune
As a party favor in honor of the 10th anniversary of their Christmas Open House at the Dudenhoeffer residence in Holts Summit for members of thier church, Patti Dudenhoeffer, Deanna Haslag and Belinda Heimericks  put together a recipe book of all the yummy hors d'oeuvres that have been shared over the past 10 years for all of their guests to take home with them. 

We even prepared a cookbook of our favorite recipes to give to the guests as a 10th Anniversary keepsake.  (I have to wonder how many of those cookbooks will ever be looked at again.)

So there you have it.  Once again, a successful, fun, wore me out, open house.  I woke up the next morning with a rip roaring headache… a head cold.  I’m pretty sure a hang over would have been better.  I could have slept that off.  A cold is not quite so easy to kick.

For anyone interested, here is the New Tribune article:

RULE NO. 1:  Don’t bring anything to this party

Parishioners celebrate 10th anniversary of holiday tradition (by Leah Killebrew)

What began 10 years ago as a way to say thank you to church parishioners has grown into an annual tradition.

Jim and Deanna Haslag, Gerard and Patti Dudenhoeffer, and Gary and Belinda Heimerics – all members of the St. Andrew Catholic Church in Holts Summit – hosted their 10th Annual Christmas Open House on Saturday.

”We invite the folks who are already giving a lot in terms of their commitment to the church to say ‘thank you’ for all that they do,” Belinda said.

”At a time when most employers are foregoing their Christmas parties, these three couples open their hears and pocketbooks to host an elaborate party every year,” Rita Buschjost said.

Buschjost was among approximately 65 couples invited to the festivities this year.

There is only one rule:  you cannot bring anything to the party,” Buschjost said.

Deanna, Patti and Belinda prepared heavy hors d’oeuvres to serve on their finest china and crystal glassware.

We wanted to be the Martha Steward-style traditional party – very festive, but very homemade,” Belinda said.

Everybody has raved about the appetizers we’ve provide,” Heimericks said.

”We thought this was something we could do to make the 10th anniversary special,” she added.  “This party is one way that we as parishioners can say ‘thank you’ for what others have done.”

Friday, December 10, 2010

Expensive is not always better...

The good news is the dress made it!  The bad news is that if I planned on breathing while having fun, it wasn't the dress for me.  And it was expensive!  It is going back.  By pony express - the same way it got here.

I was doing some miscellaneous shopping this afternoon and happened into JC Penneys and found a glitzy little number that was (ahem) 70 percent off!  I snatched that thing with my greedy little paws, pulled out my $10 off coupon and headed for the checkout.  The sweet clerk told me to keep my coupon, charged me the $14.98 price tag minus $10.  I am going to proudly wear my $5 Jacquespenne' snazzy top with a black skirt dejectedly hanging in my closet.  Ahhhhh.  Life is good.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My little pretties

When we sold mom and dad’s house over a year ago, it was a rush to empty it of 53 years of accumulated “stuff” (we moved there when I was 5). 

Do people still have linen closets?  Mine is a multitude of linen drawers.  In mom’s bathroom was a large closet with shelves of dry goods… linens, towels, sheets, embroidered pillow cases, table cloths, rags… You name it.  I boxed up as much as I could and drug it home.  Some items actually made it into my linen drawers.

Last week I decided it was time to sort through these drawers – get rid of some things, consolidate others.  Out of the blue I found a stack of embroidered tea towels. 

embroidered tea towels

Although there is nothing to indicate who embroidered these, I am fairly certain it was my dad’s mom.  Her hands were never idle and one of my childhood memories of her was that she was always embroidering something… pillow cases, table cloths, sheets, and towels. 


She even embroidered a red chain stitch around the edges of each towel.  Mom treasured them as a labor of love, because they had never been used.


Obviously they couldn’t be packed back away, hidden from the world any longer.  But they also couldn’t be used like some old dish towel I picked up at Wallyworld.  What to do…

This is where having a spouse with an artistic mind comes in handy.  He took one and folded it until he had it the perfect size.  Then after folding, ironing, and placing little “stay stitches” on each one (I did that part), they were ready to hang.

 embroidered tea towels hanging up  

I love the new old addition to my kitchen.  Thank you grandma for your many hours of work.  I can only imagine the love you put in each little stitch.  And thank you mom for caring enough to store these away all of these years. 

PS.  The “dress” is in transit.  According to UPS tracking it is in Iowa and will be delivered “on time” on Friday.  If it works out, hooray.  But if it doesn’t, no big deal.  I’ll just wear what I wore last year.  I’m not so vain as to think anyone will remember what I showed up to a party in a year ago.  Heck, I couldn’t even remember what I wore until I looked back at pictures. 

Hope everyone is doing well and having a wonderfully blessed week.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This and that

It's been crazy busy around here.

This weekend is our annual Christmas Open House (fortunately, not at my house).  I ordered a cocktail dress last week to wear.  When I checked online this morning, it had not yet shipped.  Yikes!  I tried to call them but they are Pacific Time and were not yet open.  Please, please, please let me get the dress on time.  Oh, and hopefully it will fit when I get it.  Why do I always wait until the last minute to do things?

We went to Sears yesterday to buy some clothes for Jim's mom.  As I headed into the store, the door caught my shoe and tripped me.  I thought I was just being my usual clumsy self, until the same thing happened to Jim.  That's when we realized the door closure was not operating properly and was letting the door close quickly rather than slowly.  So we grabbed the first employee we saw and asked if we could show her.  She was grumpy.  She followed us to the door, watched, and then told us there was nothing wrong with the door.  That we were supposed to hold it.  She was wrong and she was rude.  So now we were shopping and grumbling.  By the time we were ready to check out, we decided it had to be reported - both the door and the employee.  The manager couldn't have been nicer and by the time our purchases were bagged and we were headed out, she had another manager and a maintenace person at the door, blocking it off until it could be fixed.  And we felt better that someone - probably someone elderly - wasn't going to get hurt.  Whew.

We attended the 50+ Club (we qualify) Christmas Dinner at Church last night.  Our Knights of Columbus served a yummy meal of fried chicken, roast beef, corn, green beans, rolls, mashed potatoes and gravy and pie for dessert.  We were serenaded with Christmas Carols while we ate.  This is the first year that we weren't part of the singing.  It was fun to sit and enjoy and visit with friends.

The house is decorated but the aftermath of unpacking boxes and hanging wreaths has not been cleaned up yet.  The floors look like they haven't been vacuumed or swept in months.  I should be cleaning instead of blogging.

I also should be embroidering some shirts for a customer.  At least I got the sheets for the tables ironed (they make great table cloths).

There is so much to do between now and Christmas.  Every year I say I am going to simplify things and every year I fail.  They are calling for rain the night of our party.  I hope they are wrong.  I'd almost prefer snow to rain.  Either way, parking becomes a challenge when the weather is not nice. 

Time to get busy.  Out to the loft to embroider some shirts and then on to work.  What a miscellaneous ramble this has been. But then, that is how my brain is right now.  Too much going on up there to sort through it all.

Have a wonderful week.

Monday, November 29, 2010

A love story

The nights would drag on as I sat with my dad, trying to keep mom from getting agitated.  As the evenings would close in, the night terrors would get worse.  As we’d talk, occasionally she would have a glint of recognition in her eyes and say something that could maybe apply.  But mostly she would wander, opening and closing drawers, look out the front door, then sit back down and start the routine all over again.
One such evening as the evening wore on, I asked dad how he and mom met.  This is the story he told me.
”We met at a restaurant across from Immaculate Conception Church.  My brother, Bill, and I would have lunch there.  Your mom and (Aunt) Jane would go there.  We’d follow them back down Miller Street.  You see, we lived on the same street with Oscar and Agnes, about four houses down from where your mom lived.

The night I asked your mom to marry me, we were driving the old red truck that they used to push cars around with [the Hood boys owned a garage].  It was a 29 Dodge with a hydraulic hook, and had Hood’s Garage written on it.  Your mom was wearing my signature ring, wrapped with tape so it wouldn’t fall off.  The date was December 13, 1946, Friday the 13th.  We went to Oscar’s Steakhouse on St. Louis Road. 

As we were leaving the restaurant I asked for my ring back.  She thought something was wrong and got very upset.   I told her ‘this ring won’t fit over it’ and gave her the diamond ring.
We were going to get married the next year, but her brothers Cy and Tony, and then her sister Jane all decided to get married.  This was too many weddings in one year.  So we waited until the next year.”

Ed & Margaret wedding

Among photos I have been scanning, I found hastily scribbled notes in my own handwriting from this conversation.  I had totally forgotten about it.  I remember now that the story is disjointed because of the number of times we would follow mom out of the room, bringing her back to the safety of the kitchen.  Damn Alzheimer’s!  But I am thankful that I have this much of the story. 

Their love story continued for 60 years, with dad showing the ultimate love of devotion, dedicating his life to caring for mom until the end.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Strawberry-Pretzel Salad

Ask and ye shall receive.  This is an interesting tasting salad, mixing the saltiness of pretzels in the crust with a sweet topping.  The best thing is that it is easy to make. 

Strawberry-Pretzel Salad

2 cups crushed pretzels
3 T sugar
1 ½ sticks of butter

Melt butter. Stir in sugar until well mixed. Mix with pretzels until well coated. Spread in a 9 x 13 pan and bake 8 minutes @ 350 degrees.

8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1 T milk
4 T crushed (drained) pineapple
1 medium size cool whip

Mix all ingredients except cool whip. Cool whip should be mixed in by hand. After pretzel crust has cooled spread this mixture over crust.

Large strawberry Jello
10 to 16 oz. frozen strawberries (sliced)
(I let the strawberries sit at room temperature for about 5 minutes so they are easier to slice) 
2 cups boiling water

Mix jello and water until dissolved. Add frozen strawberries to jello and let stand for a few minutes. Spoon or pour over cream cheese mixture.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

The pie holder came from Sam's Club.  I think it cost $29, but don't hold me to that.  It sure did come in handy!

The "red dish" is the strawberry-pretzel salad

Friday, November 26, 2010

I didn’t realize…

My family is everything.  I didn’t realize it.  We stood in a circle holding hands and I lead the traditional Catholic prayer of “Bless us oh Lord for these thy gifts…” and then added my own thanks for my family.  The words stuck and tears welled.  I was more thankful than I realized.

Thanksgiving 2010 005

The food would have gotten cold had everyone given their own personal thanks, so we dug in!  It is obvious number one on everyone’s list is they are thankful for each other.

I also didn’t realize how much food I had fixed.  After cooking for days, there was enough to feed an army rather than the expected twenty-two.  The girls each brought a dish in addition to what was already there.  When all was said and done we feasted on a vegetable tray, which was gone long before the meal was served, turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn casserole, corn, broccoli rice casserole, sweet potatoes, strawberry pretzel salad, fruit salad, home made rolls, and apple bread.  Insane! 

Thanksgiving 2010 002

In addition to being thankful for my family, I was thankful that I have a big kitchen.  The kitchen table, card table, 6 ft. folding table, and the little table in the breakfast nook fit is all into one room. 

Thanksgiving 2010 003

Thanksgiving 2010 008

Several glasses of wine and full bellies later, the after dinner lethargy took over.  Stuffed doesn’t begin to describe it.  Shame on us!

Thanksgiving 2010 009


Time out for play.  Here is Greg trying to explain a video game to Reagan.  The rest of the grandkids headed downstairs to play pool and air hockey.  Everyone pitched in cleaning up the mess left behind, in preparation for dessert. 

 Thanksgiving 2010 006  

Time for pie!  Apple, cherry, two pumpkin, pecan along with whipped cream and ice cream. 

Thanksgiving 2010 007

Lessons learned.  Don’t bother with the salads when there is so much other good food to eat.  Three pies is enough.  Let someone else lead the prayer cuz I’m tired of everyone seeing me cry.

Yes, we have much to be thankful for. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hello again

It has been a while since I have posted.  This is partly because I’ve been very busy, but also because my mind is such a whirl of activity that I don’t know where to begin. 

In the middle of the night my eyes will pop open and the thoughts start to tumble.  Often they are thoughts of things I need to do, sometimes they are thoughts of worries, there are times I pray myself back to sleep.  The power of prayer is totally underestimated. 

Right now in the middle of preparations for Thanksgiving celebrations, I find myself thinking about all that I have to be thankful for.  The list is very long. 

My family tops the list.  They are the best.  Jim and I have gotten closer as the years have passed.  We work hard and enjoy being together.  My only complaint is that he spoils me and does things for me that I should be doing myself.  Pretty silly, huh.

We used to spend a lot of our time with the grandkids.  As they’ve gotten older, that has changed.  Our kids and grandkids are busy getting on with their lives.  I miss my time with them, but am luckier than many in that we still see them often. 

I also reflect on the fact that three of our grandkids are now teenagers.  How is that possible?!?!  They are great kids and I am very proud of them – and proud of my kids at the great job they are doing raising their families and teaching them the right way to live.

I woke up the other night with the thought in my mind that “my kids are my legacy”.  I even wrote it down because so often I have thoughts at odd times of things I want to blog about and then when it is time to blog, I cannot remember what it was…  I’ll bet you’ve all been there! 

So the next morning I saw the note that my kids are my legacy and I had to shake my head no.  That is so wrong.  My kids are not my legacy.  My life and the impact I have on the world – both good and bad – is my legacy. 

I told you my mind is overflowing!


I planned on posting a video of Travis wrestling, but it is still uploading.   So we will have to make do with a picture.  Travis is in the black t-shirt.  He pinned his guy in all three of his matches.

009The other thing I want to share with you is some pictures from last week’s Grandparents Day at Allen’s school.  Allen’s school went all out.  They had a program where each class did something.  Allen’s second grade class said the days of the week and number first in English and then in Spanish.  It was great.  They then treated us to huge cookies and punch.  They assured me that all calories were removed from those cookies.  Thank goodness.


We also went to grandparent’s day at Dakota’s and Austin’s school.  It was quite a different experience.  I’ll have to admit that I felt like we were in the way and they couldn’t wait to get rid of us.  It wasn’t the kids’ fault.  They were excited to have us there.  But nothing was planned.  We were invited to be there at 7:30 in the morning.  The kids showed us their classroom and projects they were working on.  Then at 8:00 the principal came over the intercom asking all grandparents and special friends to leave.  It was so very strange.  Jim went to Austin’s classroom and I went to Dakota’s.  Dakota’s teacher didn’t even get up from her desk to greet us.  It was like she was very uncomfortable with us being there.  Is this the difference between a small town school and a larger (by no means big city) school?  I don’t think so.  I think it is the difference between a principal who cares and one who doesn’t. 

I certainly didn’t plan on this being such a long post.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We live in a wonderful country and although times are hard for some, we all have a lot to be thankful for!     

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Every year the light show at Silver Dollar City gets bigger and better.  Here is what it looked like this year.

Almost 39 years ago, Jim and I honeymooned at Silver Dollar City in Branson.  It has remained one of our favorite places to get away to whenever we have a chance.  Since it has been several years since we’ve been there – it was time to check out their famous display of Christmas lights.  We weren’t disappointed.

This swinging bridge is located smack dab in the middle of the city – connecting the old with the new.  SDC is 50 years old this year.  My family went their for one of our few vacations early on – probably its fourth year of operation.  The roads leading to the city were still gravel.  They are now 4 and 6 lane highways.  This swinging bridge was the entrance into the city.

swinging bridge connecting one side of SDC to the other

By 5:30 it is quite dark and all around were displays of trees like this red one.


Tree covered with lights

And this cluster of trees was such a pretty sight.

multitude of beautifully lit trees 

This little Wilderness Church is always a peaceful place to stop for a bit and think about the beauty of this world we live in.  It has a large window overlooking the Ozark valley below.

log cabin church lit up with lights

One of the quaintness of the city is that you never know where you are going to find the

music of the Ozarks.  We happened onto this jam session in a little log cabin.  It was one of the highlights of our trip.

Jam session in log cabin

A trip to SDC is not complete without a trek in the caverns of Marvel Cave.  To read more about it go here. 

These concrete steps lead down into the many narrow, sometimes low, twisty and turny pathways through the cave.

concrete steps down into the cave

Yes, this really is a passage way we walked through.

a cave passageway

And here you see daylight from about 1/4 of the way down in the cave.  I took many more pictures, but photos of what is a magnificent site to the naked eye, is sometimes not able to be captured on film.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

looking up to the opening to outside from inside cave

I hope you enjoyed this little jaunt into Silver Dollar City with me.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Photo Monday

 A weekend get-away on Table Rock Lake - Branson, MO.  I will leave you with a few photos as I head out to take care of the multitude of things that I've neglected while away playing in the Ozarks.  Hopefully all are well and will have a wonderful week.  More tomorrow.
Table Rock Lake
The Fall Colors are not toally gone

The hills of the Ozarks

Muted Fall colors

Sunrise on Table Rock Lake (taken from hotel room balcony)