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Friday, December 30, 2011

Shoes in the shower

My daycare children think I'm so silly. They just can't figure out why I was standing in the shower, completely dressed and with my shoes on!

How was I going to get my feet clean?
Am I going to wash my clothes too?
Is Papa Bear going to be mad at me for having my shoes in the tub?

Actually, I was trying to get the water deposits off the shower walls. I have beautiful huge tiles that show every little spot. I've tried commercial cleaners. I've tried the Magic Eraser. We use a squeegy after every shower. Still have spots. This morning, I remembered about the millions of uses for white vinegar. Out comes the vinegar and sponge, I stepped into the shower (completely dressed and with my shoes on!), and the cleaning commenced.

I am proud to say it worked like a charm! I just poured some vinegar onto the sponge, put a bit of elbow grease into it, dried the tile and it looks absolutely beautiful again. The real test will be after showering (for real, you know...not with clothes and shoes on) and using the squeegy. Hope it holds up and I don't have to do it all the time.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Drying

Here it is December 29th, and I have my clothesline full!

I hung out towels.

I hung out Papa Bears working clothes

I hung out cloth napkins.

Then I got sad, I didn't have any more laundry to wash and hang out. Oh, believe me, I thought about washing my bedding that was done a few days ago just so I could hang it out again (I did this on Christmas). I decided against this and instead rounded up all the throw rugs in the house. They will soon be done and out on the line.

If you are a follower of Bear Necessities, you already know how easily amused I am. The fact that I was hanging on the line today brought immense joy to me! Normally, we would be in cold snowy conditions. When it's like that, I have drying racks strategically placed around the house. Going outside to hang is so much more fun.

I wonder if my neighbors would think I was weird if I asked them for their dirty laundry?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Wanna Kwanzaa?

I've been doing some reading on Kwanzaa, the celebration of the seven days between Christmas and New Years by many African Americans. The more I look into this, the more I think it is something to be celebrated by ALL people, regardless of whether you are black, white, yellow, green or purple. Whether you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, atheist or (insert the belief of your choice).

The Seven Principles are as follows:

Day 1. Umoja means unity.
Day 2. Kujichagulia means self-determination.
Day 3. Ujima means working together.
Day 4. Ujamaa means supporting each other.
Day 5. Nia means purpose.
Day 6. Kuumba means creativity.
Day 7. Imani means faith, especially faith in ourselves.

See what I mean, these Seven Principles can be applied to all our lives. Here is a better breakdown of each:

Umoja (oo-MO-jah) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, "I am We," or "I am because We are."

Kujichagulia (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.

Ujima (oo-GEE-mah) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world.

Ujamaa (oo-JAH-mah) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.

Nia (NEE-yah) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.

Kuumba (koo-OOM-bah) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.

Imani (ee-MAH-nee) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to
succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

So, dear friend, I wish you a Happy Kwanzaa this week!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Family dinner, skate key and 3 TV stations

I would like to share an e-mail with all of you. Some if it was a bit before my time, much of it though I remember well.

'Someone asked the other day, 'What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?'
'We didn't have fast food when I was growing up,' I informed him.
'All the food was slow.'
'C'mon, seriously. Where did you eat?'
'It was a place called 'at home,'' I explained.
'Mom cooked every day and when Dad got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn't like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.'

By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn't tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table.
But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it :

Some parents NEVER owned their own house, never wore Levis, never set foot on a golf course, never traveled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a revolving charge card. The card was good only at Sears Roebuck . Or maybe it was Sears & Roebuck. Either way, there is no Roebuck anymore. Maybe he died.

My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer.

I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow).

We didn't have a television in our house until I was 9.
It was, of course, black and white, and the station went off the air at midnight, after playing the national anthem and a poem about God; it came back on the air at about 6 a.m. And there was usually a locally produced news and farm show on, featuring local people.

I was 11 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called 'pizza pie.'
When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It's still the best pizza I ever had.

I never had a telephone in my room.
The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn't know weren't already using the line.

Pizzas were not delivered to our home, but milk was.

All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers including me, six days a week It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents + tips. I had to get up at 4am every morning. On Saturday, I had to collect the 42 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave him 50 cents and told him to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.

If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren. Just don't blame me if they bust a gut laughing.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday Dear Jesus!
Happy Birthday to you!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What season is this?

"Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la"

Turn on the TV and there are Christmas movies and commercials all over the place.

Drive around town and houses are all decorated up with lights and such.

Children are having Christmas parities at school.

Santa Clause has been making appearances at Malls and stores.

Don't get me wrong, I'm all into Santa and decorations and watching the grandkids open their gifts on Christmas morning. I only wish there was a little less emphasis on Santa and the commercialization and a little more on it being Jesus' birthday. More on the season of Advent leading up to Christmas morning.

For many people, by the time Christmas finally gets here, they are so ready for it to be over. I guess that is what happens when Christmas starts being forced on us in October!

If more attention was paid to Advent and Jesus, I don't think this would happen. The weeks of Advent are as follows:


Hope for good things to come
Love for what we have
Joy at good things delivered
Peace in our hearts

How is it possible to ever get tired of this? By celebrating Advent, and not just Santa, we are filling our minds, and hearts, and lives with the goodness of Jesus...and that is way better than movies, and decorations, and presents any day!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Easy Potato Soup

We enjoyed a yummy soup for supper last night that was so incredibaly easy to make, I thought I would share it with you all.

6 cups water
8 chicken boullion cubes
4 medium potatoes-diced
1 small onion-chopped small
2 stalks celery-sliced
1 carrot-diced small
1 C. instant potato flakes

Place all ingrediants except the potato flakes into a pot, bringing to a boil. Turn down and simmer about 1/2 hour or so until veggies are tender, stirring occasionally. Once veggies are cooked to your liking, turn the heat off and add instant potato flakes. Let sit about 5 minutes uncovered for flakes to absorb some liquid.

This is wonderful served with hot creseant rolls.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Help

I have just finished watching a movie that is both heart breaking, eye opening and inspirational. The Help had me laughing, crying and in disbelief. Is this really how Negros were treated? Were maids expected to do everything for the home, including raising the children, yet not allowed to even use the restroom?

I'm very thankful my parents raised me to see equality in all races. None is better than another. I understand this book/movie was based on a different time and mindset, however, I am just mortified at how things were.

That said, there is a desire in me to treat others better. Because someone is getting paid to do something for me in no way means they are less of a person. Obviously, I don't have 'hired help' in my home, but I do interact with others who are paid for providing a service...the cashier at Wal-Mart, the waitress, the Post Master, the shoe salesman, the kid handing me my Big Mac. Instead of paying, getting my change and offering a quick 'thanks' on my way out, I'm going to make a point to ask how their day is, a point to look them in the eye and say 'thank you', and mean it!

I'm inspired to speak up when I see something not right. Not just look away and hope someone else will step in. "Change begins with a whisper".

For those of you who have read the book/seen the movie, I will never look at chocolate pie the same, and probably never be able to eat it without getting the giggles.


Monday, December 12, 2011

My bird friends

Do birds have email, Facebook or Twitter? Just how do they spread information to their fellow winged friends? I'm only wondering this as it seems the number of birds in my yard increases daily. I'm am not exaggerating (something I tend to do from time to time) when I tell you there are at least 50 Sparrows in my yard at feeding time.

I have two bird feeders, three suet hangers and what I scatter on the ground. There is also a pie pan I keep filled on the ground for the five squirrels to come eat out of.

This all started last summer as a way for the children to watch some birds, it has now grown into an obsession. I find myself sitting back with a nice warm cup of tea, watch the activity outside my window. Last winter there were four Blue Jays and several Cardinals and Woodpeckers, I'm hoping they will find their way back again.

Now, if you will excuse me, I see the birds are flying in and I don't want to miss the show.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Challenge Yourself

A member on Prairie Homemaker, a Christian homemaking site I've been part of for years, posted a challenge to us all. Her challenge was to change/do one thing each week. This sounds like an easy enough thing to do, I mean really, how hard can it be to do something for one week, right?

I failed miserably the first week. I challenged myself to keep the kitchen table cleared off. Seriously, how in the world did I flunk this?? I started out so well getting it cleaned off, put a new tablecloth and Christmas decoration on it. That was the extent of it though, it has remained a catch-all. Despite my Epic fail, I am not giving up! My goal today is to get that blasted table cleaned off again. By cleaned off I mean putting each item where it goes, not just moved it to another spot so I can claim victory over the cluttered table.

My challenge this week is to have the dishes and counter clean before going to bed. This one is going well so far. I do love getting up in the morning to a nice clean kitchen...well, minus the cluttered table that is. Now, if only there was a way to wake up to breakfast already cooked, I would be a happy little girl!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Pearl Harbor Day

70 years ago today, at 7:55 AM, the United States was attacked. The number of survivors dwindles every year, soon there will be none. This is a very important day in our history, yet there was barely any mention of it in the news this morning. 70 years ago this morning the United States was brought into WWII, yet when I talked with some children, they didn't even know what Pearl Harbor Day was.

I would like to take this time to offer my condolances to the families of all those who lost their lives, may the sacrifices they made never be forgotten.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First Snow

Last night was a wonderful, magical evening. The sun had left us, the night was calm and still. I was enjoying time decorating our home for Christmas. As I stepped out onto the porch my first thought was, "You silly, you really should have worn a coat". After putting on the appropriate attire for standing in the chilly night air, the garland and lights were beginning to take form as I hummed Christmas tunes. This is where the wonderful magical part comes started to snow. Not just any snow either, but our first snow of the winter.

That first snow that means Fall is over. The snow that is waited for with anticipation by children (and some of us adults). The snow that tells us in the very near future there will be snowmen in yards, ice skating on frozen ponds and sledding down hills.

Snow brings with it a beauty like no other. A new-fallen snow covering all the ugliness in the world. A reminder to let go of the bad ugliness in our lives and let a new beauty in. Much change takes place outside during the snow covered winter, is it not possible for change to also take place inside ourselves?

Yes, the first snow of the winter is a wonderful, magical time filled with beauty and endless possibilities.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Decorating Time

I very much enjoy decorating up the house for Christmas. Getting out the tree, hanging the ornaments, setting items around, listening to Christmas music, drinking hot chocolate. It's a magical time of year.

I'll admit, I do miss having a real tree. I have wonderful memories of going to pick out just the right one with my boys. We would walk all around inspecting about every tree available. We would have to check the height, the width and the smell (don't even ask). Getting it into the house on the other-hand leaves me with a whole different set of memories. Imagine, if you will, myself (with no muscles) and two children. First was getting it off the roof of the car, then up the stairs and around the corner to get into the door, which just so happens to be smaller than the tree. Getting it set into the stand was something that should have been video taped...I'm sure we would have won the $10,000 prize on Funny Videos.

Since putting the wood burner in the living room several years ago, for safety reasons we made the decision to no longer have a real tree. Now that I think about it, since Papa Bear and I are empty-nesters, the whole Christmas Tree picking out probably wouldn't be as much fun, and I'm pretty certain I couldn't get him to do the 'smell test' with me.

This evening I will be doing the annual decorating. Christmas music will be playing, hot chocolate will be consumed, the tree will come out, and pine scented candle will be burned. It may not be the same as when the boys were small, it's still a most enjoyable magical time.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Garage cleaning blues

The crispness in the air, the leaves off the trees, the frost on the window reminds me of....

the huge mess in the garage needing to be cleaned.

We have a very small one car garage. In fact, it's so small, when I pull in, I have to pull in close to the wall on the passenger side which still only leaves me able to open the drivers side door part way. I have to get in and out sideways.

Having such a small garage means all the 'stuff' I store in there throughout the year has to find another home for the winter. And there is alot of 'stuff'. Each year when it comes time to clean the garage, I vow to not let it get so bad again....I can't even remember how many times I've made that vow, but I haven't lived up to it yet.

Now, the frost is here, and I need to attack it again. I'll spend a couple of days going through all the 'stuff', getting rid of much of it so I don't have to try and find somewhere else to stash it. I'll run across items and say to myself, "Oh yeah, I forgot all about this".

As much as I dread this annual task, I dread even more having to scrape my car windows, or worse yet, having the car doors froze shut. Being a volunteer for our local ambulance, it's important for me to be able to respond to a call immediately.

Alright, after this winter, I vow to not let my garage get so bad....yeah right, who am I kidding?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Little Town

I don't know if I've shared with you about my little town. It's a great little town. My parents moved us here in 1969 and I can't imagine living anywhere else. Oh, believe me, I've tried a couple of times, and each time, I couldn't wait to get back to my little town.

You see, in my little town, we have some wonderful people. People who look out for their neighbors. People who ask "How are you today?", and want to hear your answer. People who pitch in when someone is in need. My little town has two small churches, both of them having families dating back to the beginning of times. There are places to eat, places to drink and a place to get your gas. All these places are hotspots for catching up on the happenings around town.

We have a police chief, a fire chief and an ambulance director, all of which can be called at their homes. We have a Mayor that has lived most of his life here. We have two town workers and they were both raised here as well.

My little town has Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. We have youth baseball that most kids in town play in the summer. We also have the Community Club that basically is the backbone for things getting done. Most importantly, we have the VFW...and the 2nd Saturday Chicken Fry! Oh man, my mouth is watering just thinking about the Chicken Fry. I've been attending this since I was just a little girl. Everyone knows about the Chicken Fry, and it's also known to come early or take the chance of the chicken being gone.

Unfortunately, my little town no longer has it's own school system. Many years ago we went together with several other little towns to make one big school system for us all. Due to this, our High School building was no longer needed and was torn down. I live across the street from the school and can tell you what a sad sad summer that was. Many people brought their lawn chairs and sat in our yard to watch. On the plus side, our children have the opportunity for a much better education. I guess I'm just taking a walk down memory lane though and missing the good old days at WHS.


I love my little town. Over the past forty-some years, I think I have covered every square inch of it either by walking, biking or skateboarding. Life long friends have been made here. My first kiss was at a football game here. I learned to ride a bike on it's streets, shoveled it's sidewalks, cleaned trash out of it's ditches.

Yeah, my little town is a great place to be, I sure am thankful my parents wanted to move out of the city and raise their family here.