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Sunday, December 29, 2013

A third Christmas celebration, and Smoke is still blessing us with her presence.

     Saturday December 21st, my oldest brother's birthday, we hosted Gleason Christmas here in our home.  This house seems much smaller when there are 16 family members inside, but it was fun & cozy.  LOTS of great food, an always fun guys & girls gift exchanges, Brandon & Wesley exchanged gifts (Wesley made out BIG time, receiving the bow that has been passed down from Justin & Jorday to Brandon, and now Wesley!), a bit of drama, but lots of love.  Since Annetta provided the meat, I felt obligated to do dessert BIG!  We had a dessert BAR: Lemon Meringue Pie (Leon's fave for his birthday), Cherry Pie (Robert's fave for his birthday on the 10th), Cherry Cheesecakes for all of cheesecake lovers & January birthday of Justin, Wesley, Grandma Ruth & myself; Chocolate Fountain & lots of goodies to dip, ice cream sandwiches with cool whip..... ahhh and lots of color-coordinated candy too (My color scheme this Christmas was jewel tones, specifically Pink, Purple & Teal with Silver).
     On Monday December 23rd we learned that our beloved Smoke, our 11 1/2 year old fur baby has a large tumor in her abdomen, as well as fluid around her lungs.  I had begun creating a post to be published at a later date, expecting to lose her before or on Christmas day.  Through the tears and several attempts to save that post, it never came to be.  Smoke is still with us, still has an appetite etc, and I pray several times a day that she does not suffer, passing away comfortably in her sleep.  It has been 6 1/2 days since we got the terrible news and I keep praying for her.
     On a cheerful note, we were able to have our first Christmas gathering with our friends, the Davis family.  Pork loin dinner, a few gifts for the children, CHOCOLATE and hours of chatting..... the kids had a sleepover here, including HOURS of sledding in the 36 degree, partly sunny weather, and even some fireworks that night.  We also had our neighbor and his nephews over for the dessert bar as well, earlier in the week.
    Today they went sledding in town but gave up after only 15-20 minutes of bitter winds, continuing on to Pizza Hut before Wesley headed home with them this time.  Ahhh, the quiet!  And some MUCH needed playtime for Wesley.
      We all need more social time and I pray that this is a beginning of that... onward and upward.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Health Scare, & "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!"

     Most of you don't know much about my health history, or that of my family members.  When I was 11, my mother passed away of metasticized breast cancer.  I originally thought that her breast cancer had been completely removed during her mastectomy, and that she had passed away from a brain tumor that hadn't been detected until her autopsy.  My father didn't share a lot of information with me, and I was not allowed to visit her in the hospitals due to my age.  This all occured in the mid-70s, with visitation being more limited, technology not as advanced or commonly available, etc.  When I was 35 my sister-in-law told me that mom's breast cancer had returned, spread to the left breast, and during her autopsy, they discovered that it had spread throughout her abdomen and may have also created the brain tumor as well.  There is also cervical & ovarian cancer on my mother's side of the family as well.  Fortunately, both aunts survived, which is an extra special blessing considering that ovarian cancer has a lower survival rate.  I've had several 'bad' pap smears in the past, including a 'pie biopsy' of my cervix back in the 90s, but all have ultimately been normal in the long run.
     So.... on to my physical last Monday.  For some reason, which I suspect to be the fact that I was having multiple ct-scans for my sinus infections and was trying not to accrue more medical payments, I missed a physical during all of 2012.  Due to my mother's health history and the fact that I already had a lumpectomy performed when I was in my 20s (thank the LORD it was benign), my physicians have ordered Mammagrams each year since I was in my 30s, and twice each year since I was 40.
     I will be 50 next month, and my physician found a new lump last week and when she touched it, it was painful.... She is also concerned about what she felt below/around my lumpectomy scar on the other breast.  We are both assuming/hoping that it is only scar tissue that has increased at the sight of the incision.  Off for not only a Mammogram, but also Ultrasounds.....
     Neither the Mammogram nor the Ultrasound technician could find a lump on the right side, and hopefully the left side is only scar tissue.  One of the ladies said that just because my mom had breast cancer, that doesn't mean that I will, and both told me not to worry about it, but it's hard not to when it's yourself or a beloved family member or friend.
     LOTS of extra prayers for health or quick and complete detection, removal and treatment have been made in the past 8 days.  I am trying not to dwell on it, but it keeps popping up in my mind, especially when I feel pain around the recently detected 'cyst'.
     Needless to say, I have been a bit distracted this past week.  Along with preparing to host my family for Christmas this Saturday and having been working on 3 projects to submit for a design team application, I've been a bit flustered.
     I will continue to pray for the health of ALL my family members & friends, as well as a SAFE, fun-filled MERRY CHRISTMAS to all.  Thinking good thoughts...........
     I am ENJOYING the beautiful snow we have been receiving, and looking forward to warmer temperatures (it's averaged 16 degrees here for about a week now) so that my outdoor decorating will be much more confortable and easier this week, but some forecasts are predicting temps in the UPPER 30s or warmer for the rest of the week.  NOOOO I need SNOW for Christmas celebrations this weekend!!!!  "LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET  IT SNOW " and NOT melt!!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Christmas decorating continues, and two of my favorite pages.....

   Merry Christmas  & happy decorating, shopping, & crazy rushing around in preparation for all!
   I think I am finally done with our large tree.  I have 8 others that I have decorated,  of various sizes and color schemes (some are monochromatic in one of the 3 main jewel tones we are using this year), to be displayed throughout our home.
  I have finally submitted my 3 projects for the design team and anxiously await the news.... even if I don't qualify, I hope to join the team in the future!


 While deciding which projects to submit for the team, I came across 2 of my (older) favorite layouts, posted below.  I believe that Skylar's precious page was posted here earlier, but I still LOVE this one!
     I try to post my favorite projects as often as possible, but the beach layout from Father's Day weekend 2012 somehow slipped through the cracks!  I love how it shows Wesley's activity & joy for Lake Michigan, one of our finest natural resources. 
     Yes, these may be 'older' layouts, but they are still some of my favorites! Scrap on!!!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I am FINALLY able to access my blog, sign in, and create again!

     It has been a LONG time, several months in fact, since I was able to readily access my blog!  YEY!  I'm back in!  I don't know what was going on with google, not allowing me to sign in, etc. but I am SO very happy to be able to work here again.
    I just found out about an opportunity to apply for a DESIGN TEAM, TWEET, TWEET, TWEET!  I hope I can quality, even if not during this first 6 month round, but sometime in the near future! 
    I am currently doing major pre-Christmas cleaning, not only to prepare for our own Christmas enjoyment, but also for hosting the Gleason family (MY family) Christmas here as well. I , as well as several others, hope to meet one of my two nieces for the first time, and she will be 17 months old at the time. 
     Okay, I need to get back to a little more cleaning, then I hope to be able to post some photos of what has been going on here over the past 3 months.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Studio floor progress

     I was finally able to begin painting my studio floor Wednesday night.  I had to wait for Michael to add more nails to the joints of the 2x4' pieces, as some joints were pulling apart.  Any further divisions will just have to be lived with.  So it was 8:30 pm before I actually started painting/white washing my floor with water-based gray paint.  Rather than using a white over the top of this gray, the second layer will be a much lighter gray.  If I still think I want it to be even lighter, then there will be a 3rd coat of white washing.  It is taking me 2 - 2 1/2 hrs to do each row of panels.... wow.  I knew it would be time consuming, but not THIS time consuming.  I had guessed that it would take me 2-4 days to paint my floors, plus dry time for the total floor before being able to walk or move furniture in.  The paint I am using is porch/floor paint, and the can says I shouldn't put furniture on it for an entire week!!!!!!!!
     OK, Dale, remember.... it will all be worth it.  You are saving $600- 2400 by doing this rather than installing laminate or vinyl plank flooring on top..... PATIENCE IS A VIRTUAL (which I lack lol).

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Studio updates, which I forgot last time, lol... & a different surprise in the morning.

When I got up the other day, Wesley said "Mom, there's a bat in here".  I asked him if it was dead or alive...

 ..... apparently Squirrel caught a bat (again)?  Wesley told me that he remembers being out in the front yard w/ Dad one night and Squirrel had jumped up at a bat that had flown down near our birch tree.  We had broke her of the bad habit of bringing her 'kills' indoors to show them to us w/ pride... now she's back to doing it again.
Wesley, our diyer in training, has a special talent..... fitting into small places!  We utilized that talent to have him mark the cutout for the new egress window.

In action.....

     After he had completed the task, Michael wanted to double-check his accuracy, so I crawled in.  My post-child hips are too wide to turn sideways in the window, so we opened it and I marked the side and bottom from outside lol.  Wesley had done a great job after all!
     YEY!  I now have drywall on all my walls again!!!!!!  And a large window to boot!  Now the tedious work of 'mudding' the drywall ...argh!  I will keep telling myself "It's worth all the time and work!"

Thursday, July 11, 2013

July 4th celebrations at home, and studio progress

 Michael taught Wesley how to use a sledge hammer & split firewood before Wesley & I camped in the backyard for the first time this summer... watch the action!

Dakota was so well-behaved, sitting right behind the Hershey's chocolate, marshmallows (which Wesley FINALLY likes! and Dakota has always LOVED!), and the Graham crackers... yum!       Now for some fireworks fun!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Framing walls & swim class, level 3, graduated

Wesley passed his Level 3 swim tests yesterday, so we were at Family Day in the pool this afternoon.  Monday he will start Level 4......
Last night we started framing the walls of my studio.... we finished the first of 2 shorter walls, and are half way done with the first long wall.

Since Wesley was marking the "plumb lines", Michael thought he'd try to get some "Plumber's crack" photos for me.... Actually, I saw a lot more as Wesley climbed out of the pool these past 2 weeks lol.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Progress on the egress window stairwell....

 The egress window stairwell is framed in & we began backfilling with dirt. The outside cut through the foundation blocks was done with a diamond tip skillsaw blade.  Michael needs to do the same cuts on the inside, and then we need to chip the remaining block depth by hand.  Today Wesley & I finished with the backfilling of the stairs after I put in the bottom stair and added more stones.  Hopefully by the Sunday night I will have an egress window installed!!!
Foundation blocks had to be cut with a diamond tipped skillsaw blade.

Wesley is a hair shy of being tall enough to reach out of the hole with a shovel full of dirt.
Yes, those are screws in my mouth... don't you love the fashion statement that I am making while working both inside and outside of my studio lol!
YEY!  All but the bottom step is framed in in this photo.
 Today's early afternoon photo, showing the soil that Wesley & I backfilled this afternoon, along with more stone added.  I am going to create a garden in the terraced stairwell, with miniature roses and other English garden plants, as well as any that reflect the purple, white & pink in my studio.

Monday, June 3, 2013

We're installing an egress window after all!

     I had been asking for an egress window for a couple of months now, originally enticed by the idea after we began seriously discussing a complete reno of my basement studio space.  Originally the hubby did not like the idea (I'm assuming because of cost), but the very day I had completed cutting the foam insulation for the only original window we are keeping in that area, he told me 'you might want to stop'.  ARGHHHH!  Another case of his 'thinking' without 'sharing' the ideas/thoughts!
     He even went so far as suggest that I consider installing a SLIDING GLASS DOOR instead of only a window, due to the cost of a 'custom' window that was 36" by (up to) 60", compared to the price of a slider.  After researching the options online through our local big box stores, Home Depot and Lowe's, this idea became awfully appealing, but then I thought "What about STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY of the foundation if installing such a large piece of glass?"..... My concern was correct.  We are NOT going to go that way due to the fact that work would have to be done that includes the work of  PROFESSIONAL MASON.  Our pockets aren't that deep.
     Unfortunately, in order to get the version with grills (window pane dividers), I would have to special order it and pay DOUBLE or more of the price without grills..... So we came home with my 36"x60" double hung window (in stock, no special or custom order required).   This is larger than what is required  if we were to ever have a bedroom in this space, so we are covered in that area.  We are looking for as much NATURAL LIGHT as possible but energy efficiency as well, since the whole reason behind this reno is to keep it WARM down there!
As is routine for the past year or so, Wesley is more involved with our family projects both in & out of the home...  Note that Michael was able to place the new window just to the west of the large rambling roses and yet we don't have to disturb the climbing roses that are a hair further to the west.  Awesome!  BTW This is going to be a GARDEN EGRESS WINDOW!!!!!

Proof that Wesley helped with the carpentry prep work!

A fine, red line outlines the size and location of the new egress window!   Can you say 'window seat' anyone???

     One large hole and a little carpentry work later, this is where we stand.  HOPEFULLY  we can install the egress opening's framework OR cut the block and install the window tonight.  This all depends upon whether we need to enlarge the hole for ease of access for cutting the block, Michael's back, etc....  Wish us well!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Insulation, dry wall & framing materials are all ordered...

and will be delivered TOMORROW WOO HOO!  I was really disappointed that Lowe's no longer rents trucks from our location, so I have to bite the bullet and wait until it is delivered tomorrow.  Therefore, I have reopened my yard sale for a few hours today to make a little more money toward the cost and pass some time.  Have a SAFE & happy Memorials Weekend!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Old carpet, carpet padding, and two, yes, TWO layers of tile are gone!

    Last night I was happily surprised to find Michael beginning to remove the old, nasty carpet padding, so I jumped right in!  We were able to remove it all within about an hour because, as with the walls, it was NOT properly installed.  It's as if they occasionally spilled a foot wide area of adhesive, and the rest was barely attached.  This could also be because of the age of the adhesive, possibly installed 20 years or so ago???  Anyway, it is so nice to have that nasty stuff OUT of here!  The timing of doing this while I suffer from terrible sinus/allergy problems is not great, but oh well... I'm already severely congested. 
     Wesley also helped, even though he is also fighting allergies.  Last weekend he even had a fever and his sore throat, which I believe is from the sinus drainage, knocked him down, so I kept him out of school on Monday.  He has been feeling much better and tomorrow is their (rain day from today) Track & Field day at school.  He is VERY excited about that... He is participating in 4 or 5 events including a relay.  That should be interesting, and be fodder (sp?) for SEVERAL scrapbook pages lol.
     I have been planning my annual Memorial weekend yard sale for months, and after purging so much during the Organizing FUNdamentals class through BPC, I am adding my SCRAPBOOK PURGE to the sale;   Michael apparently forgot... he is planning to start installing my floor on Saturday... He'll have to wait until 3pm for my help.  I had planned to do most of it myself, but oh well... I hope to have the floor insulation and underlayment done by Monday!  Wish us luck!

Friday, May 17, 2013

New 3 Birds goodies are on their way to me & DOWN come the WALLS! YEY!

    I have received my shipment confirmations from HSN so I should be holding the wonderful new goodies in my little chickadee wings within a few days... Woo hoo!!!!
     We didn't get ALL the walls down last night, but they are about 2/3 complete.  Wesley's soccer practice was replaced by a make up game that was rained out earlier this season, so the work was interrupted a bit, plus I had stopped the demo around 2 pm when I discovered that a previous owner HAD installed some insulation.  I didn't want to remove the entire wall in case Michael wanted to keep it and only paint over it.  This is the only wall that is not covered in that nasty textural material that always reaches out and grabs the skin from your hands as you approach it, so it could have been painted instead of removed if we had wanted. 
     I'm glad we are removing it as planned, because the installations they had done were very poor.  Not only are all the trim pieces barely attached, easily popping off the walls & ceiling with very little effort, but the insulation panels are literally 'scabbed' in.... bits and pieces were used in several places, and even the adhesive they only used in SOME areas of the wall wasn't holding onto the insulation either.  Even the framing (whose pattern doesn't make much sense either) is easily removed!  Michael had anticipated that it would be a bear to remove the nail-gun-driven attachments but he has easily removed them with a crowbar!  YEY for us, as this is making the demo go very quickly and SO VERY easy compared to what it SHOULD have been. 
     I do wish that they would have done a higher quality job in terms of the insulating that they had done though, as that would save us a fair chunk of money if we didn't have to replace it all.  Also, the basement walls are not entirely insulated, only a portion of it, so we have to insulate the remainder as well.  The floor is not insulated at ALL, so between those two situations, that's why I've been freezing down there for the past 8 years.... onward and upward we go.  It can (hopefully) only get better from here lol.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Two new ESTATE Collection by 3 Birds products are on

More beautiful products are available from 3 Birds on HSN.COM, and are of course, already in my shopping bag lol.  I will patiently wait until next week to see what more they have in store for me.... or us!  The gorgeous stamps are recognizably coordinated with the beautiful papers from the Estate Collection paper packs and are, therefore, headed for my home asap.  More beautiful gems are also coming to join my stash of 5 other bling sets from 3 Birds!  Happy early Mother's Day to me.......

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Purging continues in my scrap studio!

    Continuing to purge as part of my Organizing FUNdamentals class through BigPictureClasses, I have purged so much paper.... Yes Dawn,  I purged PAPER... a ton of it in fact... so much that I have emptied a 3 section 4' high paper rack.  Not all at one sitting, but over the past year.  I gave in to the inspiration and emptied the last third or so of it the other day.  I then took a hammer to it, began tearing it apart, hubby finished the demo and carried the scraps outside!  Dakota IMMEDIATELY came down and claimed the empy space!  " MOM!  FINALLY..... an empty spot on  the floor for me to take a nap!"
For my bpc classmates, this is the "nasty popcorn walls' that I've been complaining about...  EVERYTIME you even THINK about reaching for something as it rolls to the back of your table, or you try to move a paper rack to a new space...... ouch.  Less skin on your fingers, knuckles, etc.  OFF IT IS COMING!  We are going to be RIPPING OUT ALL THESE WALLS, reframing, insulating, and putting up new drywall.  YEY FOR ME!!!!!  WOO HOO! 
A new heat source, as we are no longer dependent upon the furnace, raised floors for further insulation from the cold, a bar height island to replace my current 4x8' crop table,... WOW will I be one happy scrapper!

Friday, April 5, 2013


Organizing FUNdaments class from Big Picture Classes (BPC) is great!

  I am in the midst of the sort/organize session of this class, as we are in week 3.  Wendy Smedley and Aly Dosdall have offered this great class to help us to practice methods, make realizations & insights into how WE think and craft, & therefore make OUR spaces more useful & pleasant for US.
  Although I have been purging my studio at least twice a year for the past 3 years or so, there is ALWAYS something to be discovered which we no longer love, have absolutely no use for as we move on to other stages in our children's/grandchildren's lives (ie I no longer really need all that cutesy newborn boy product since Wesley is now 9 years old),  does not fit our current 'style' of scrapbooking, cardmaking or papercrafting (I'm very into shabby chic and layering now), or is simply taking up TOO MUCH SPACE and cluttering our lives, minds & hearts.
  Because this class is offered through BPC, it is a "FOREVER" CLASS.....all the material listings, handouts, VIDEO tutorials, etc are ARCHIVED on their can access it at ANY TIME, DAY OR NIGHT, even on CHRISTMAS EVE as a gift to yourself if you see fit!
  Come on over to to check it out, as well as see all the other wonderful offerings, including FREE CLASSES!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

New ESTATE COLLECTION products from 3 Birds!