Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016

Mom flew in on Thursday afternoon, it was a sunny beautiful day. I could get used to having her stay, and hopefully someday she will. Christmas Eve was wonderful, Sasha and Patti came over for dinner and the food turned out better than I expected. We had ham of course, homemade Au Gratin potatoes and Brussels sprouts. They brought a wonderful eggnog cream pie they made and that is one recipe I am planning to keep on the seasonal favorites list!

Afterward we exchanged gifts and sat around the fire and Christmas tree playing with the dogs and just reminiscing and visiting. Jake and Sasha made us a lovely themed basket full of international goodies from World Market, everything is so interesting in it. Patti gave us some home made wax melts for our candle warmers and ones that aren't too strong for me to handle. It was nice to visit with them and spend time to get to know them better.

Savannah and I made cut out cookies and watched Snow Day. Christmas morning I caught a glimpse of the snow falling in the sky before my eyes were fully awake and by the time I had my coffee in hand it had stopped. We flipped on the Christmas music and put the fireplace on and all opened our gifts. It is such a lovely way to spend time together, the giving is my favorite part. We ate breakfast and watched Christmas Story, and I fell asleep. Later mom and I watched a true story movie called All Mine to Give, it was a good movie. Sad but good. I love watching old movies, they always bring a nostalgic mood out in me.

Hoping you all had a very merry Christmas!
Santa's little helper...

Muffers and her stocking

Waking up...

Christmas morning...

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Christmas Cheer

I was able to visit with Michael and Melissa tonight, we met at this little cafe in downtown Green Bay that once used to be a bar but was redecorated and made over and is now a sobriety cafe where people can hang out like you would at a bar but there is no alcohol. They have couches and TVs in there, a bar with stools, and lots of good sandwiches, coffee, and smoothies. They also host a lot of meals and activities for the less fortunate or for many other groups such as AA.

Melissa is from Louisiana, they met at the homeless shelter. She is very sweet and I feel like we can easily talk. I gave them some Christmas gifts and bought them dinner. I got to know her and Michael and I got reacquainted - the last time I talked to him other than text was the day before Easter when he left. I just enjoy finding and giving gifts to others and it was good to see them smile as they opened them.

It was nice to see Michael happy, warm, and cared for. It breaks this mom's heart that he chooses this way of life but it is his to live and I have come to accept it. He stays at night in the shelter and during the day he has classes that help addicts so I am appreciative there are programs out there for kids in his situation.

I hope to get out to meet up with them again probably around Valentine's in February

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Happy birthday to my grandson, Ryan

I haven't seen Ryan in 5 years, and I only have memories of him when he was staying with us. We live so far away from him and his mother has been estranged from our family for some time so he has no idea who I even am. I often look at the pictures of when we got to spend time together. And now that he is staying with my brother's family back in Utah temporarily, I am reminded of that cute little boy who I love. I hope he is enjoying his birthday and I hope I will get to see him in person soon. 

This little Ninja Turtle turns 6 today. I can't believe how big he has grown!

Making Christmas cookies

Happy with his new haircut

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

2nd Tradition Bennett family Christmas Tree

We didn't cut our tree down this year, but we went to the same farm as last year. When we arrived we found out there were two lots. Unfortunately the one we wanted to go to where they had the gift shop and the snack bar was not offering the horse rides or cutting for the year. The lot needed a break but we still looked around in the shop and bought our wreath. We also picked a pre-cut balsam fir that they had cut from the other lot and brought over. Jake and Sasha came with us and even though there wasn't a horse drawn ride, we still all spent the day together. After the tree was up and the lights put on, Jake and Charlie went shopping at Home Depot and Savannah and I got to visit with Sasha while we finished decorating. We all went out for dinner later that night and it was just a really good day.

I just love spending time with my family and am looking forward to getting to know Sasha better too. She and Jake are so cute together. I am so happy for them and it was fun to hear about their first date. Perhaps next year they will be getting a tree of their own right along with us.
View of a Wisconsin Tree Farm, last year this lot was packed! I just love farms! I'd live on one if I had the chance. 

Savannah training Cowboy 

Jake found a new buddy 

Muffers enjoying the tree, she has always loved being around the tree every year

Savannah's Charlie Brown tree 

Hauling the tree to the car

Friday, November 25, 2016

Getting there...

So a year ago we set out to tear up our bathroom right after Thanksgiving and we did. But in doing that we decided it would be easier to re-do the room below where the water damage was in the ceiling from the bathroom. You know that story from the beginning of the year say about March-April when we tore out everything to the studs and refinished the floor...then while the weather was warm we decided we needed to work on some issues outside and summer was spent getting the rest of the tree removal done, the old fence removed and replaced (it finally falling apart forced us to bite the bullet) and many other odds and ends. I am so proud of Charlie's handiwork, his fence looks so nice. I wish we had the money to finish the whole yard.

Well now we are finally getting to what we started on. The bathroom.

The master bathroom was small and had much issues in the plumbing (as does the whole house) and we decided it would work better as the main bath in the hallway. Eventually we will use the larger bathroom for the master, but for now we will just do without. One project at a time and I tell you after this, I am talking Charlie into taking a year's break and our going on a vacation just the three of us. That is if we can afford it after paying on the cost of these home improvements.

The bathroom is turning out lovely and I can picture it in my head already. Because we tore it down to the studs and we had to replace the doorway from our bedroom we are going to paint our bedroom. Which gives me good reason to purchase new window treatments. Finally!

I have many in progress pictures but here are the before and afters thus far...
This was when we first moved in. Just a single shower where later after a short while the wall next to the shower door had buckled up from water damage and we found the sellers had painted over the existing issue so we couldn't tell. The fan ceiling you see in the top blew the air right into the insulation above and there was a lot of moisture build up and causing mold.
Just after tearing out...we were able to use a small closet where you see that door opening to gain a bit more room to put a tub in. 
Yikes, no floor! Was easy access to get to the electrical below, but scary! Reminded me of the movie Home Alone!
Charlie's rough fit the new door and the tub and some of the hardware for the shower. Better to be safe and make sure it will all be in the right place as planned.  Since this picture he has framed and put up the wall that you see missing in this photo. He has also dry-walled the outside of the room so that in the hallway it looks somewhat normal again. He has been doing a great job. Today we plan to put the rest of the insulation in and get the tub put in permanently. 

Getting there!! Can't wait!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

We had the smallest Thanksgiving this year since I can remember. We stayed at home and celebrated with Savannah and Jacob. I bought the smallest turkey I could find and yet we still have so much left over. But it will be great for sandwiches of course and using in white chili and other recipes. We froze some of it so as not to get burnt out on it in a week's time.

My pies turned out better this year than any other year, maybe that is because I made them at my leisure and there were only two. Savannah made one too. It felt odd to only bake two pies, yes two total! I bought pre-cut veggies for our veggie tray. Sometimes you just need shortcuts and when you aren't entertaining guests it is alright to take them! I almost started a fire toasting the marshmallows on my sweet potatoes. Had I not gotten to them in the nick of time I did we would have had flaming potatoes. It felt odd to bake only two pies, yes two total! I decided to use canned corn in place of the green bean casserole I usually make. "Too easy," I thought. "Maybe we could do this again...'

Aside the food and the aftermath of it all I am writing this tonight and reflecting on how I am very thankful for so many things. I often think about how spoiled I am and that it can be too easy to take for granted what we've been given. I want to try to be more thoughtful next year and plan an activity for our family in regards to this. Just making a hefty meal and being together doesn't always cause us to stop and think how blessed we really are and to take true time to thank God for it.

All in all we had a relaxing day. While in and out of the kitchen I peeked in on the Macy's Day parade and dog show. We played a few games and of course ate pie while watching Charlie Brown. Good stuff.
My Mister...Sneaking tastes of the stuffing. I think he eats more before it goes in the bird than when it comes out. 
Playing the Game of Life.  
Ha - I chose to forego college and start a career and wound up as a Travel Agent who lives in a mobile home with the lowest salary. But yet I won the game? 

 Look at these olive fingers!!
Here is our brine lemon and herbed roasted 13 pounder. I think our oven is having issues cause usually it gets a lot more brown on the top? I could go for a new oven and perhaps it is getting closer to the need for getting one than I thought. 
Setting the table. (Never mind today's youth and their attachment to the electric world.)
Savannah made some pretty name tags. She would be really good at calligraphy. 

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving Day.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Life at Home

Just pondering life and what makes a house a home. It has been such a beautiful fall...the sun has been shining every day and it makes the colors so vibrant. We have yet to clean the leaves from our yard once more before winter hits. We have so many trees here that we do it in two sessions. But I love the trees here. I love that out here everything is seems so much more vibrant and alive. However come this winter it will be another story as everything gets covered in white, but the snow here is lovely too because it stays for a while after it falls rather than melting and turning to slushy mud. 
We sat down to play a game of Yahtzee and as you can see Bear had his own plans for games. Savannah just loves playing with the pets as we do too, they make such joyful company.
Bear loves his squeaky duck toys so much that we go through at least two or three of them a year.

You know sometimes we adults are like children in that we get bored easily. I have never really stuck to a hobby so I have been working on learning how to embroider. I found that I like to sew since I was in 7th grade so I figured this would be the best place to start. This is my first project. I like that it has a lot of different stitches and colors so that I can get great practice at a little bit of everything. 
Since I got my new sewing machine I have been itching to start new projects with it but I am disciplining myself to finish ones I am working on before starting another.  I hope I can stick with keeping new hobbies and because of this I plan to frame it when I am done as a reminder of how I started my new adventures. Hopefully I will be reading this one day in the future and have completed many projects since.

Hope you all are having a beautiful fall!

Monday, October 31, 2016

The Making of Good Memories - Firsts and Lasts

Rather than posting a quick picture or two of our Halloween and the time we spent together I have decided to leave Facebook and get back to writing about life instead. I'll admit I was tempted to put my prized possessions (my pictures) on Facebook tonight but stopped myself. Sure it would have only taken me just a few minutes as compared to writing a blog but I feel a sense of urgency to be serious about my decision for taking a break and now I can see why it is so desperately needed.

Life already goes by fast enough, why be in such a hurry to post about it on social media and in return become distracted while looking at a thousand other pictures of people you probably haven't even met when you can enjoy and relish in what you were feeling and thinking in the moment your pictures happened? Those dishes I didn't do tonight are not what I want to remember in life nor do I want to be remembered by.

So I tried my first hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick for the first time. Something as small as this is a big deal. Being 44 you don't have much "firsts" left. I don't know why I never did it before. I never thought to and growing up I never really had my cider hot. It was delicious! I've been missing out all this time!

I just love happy Jack o'Lanterns!

The colors of the ivy crawling on our chimney are so pretty.

We had a busy weekend with cleaning up all the leaves in the yard and dead foliage. But it was perfect weather and we all did it together. It brought back memories for me and how I rode in the back of my Dad's pickup sitting on the wheel well along side those bagged leaves that us kids raked and were now ready to go to the dump. This was also the first time I remember the smell of fire from the house chimneys against the autumn air. We didn't get curbside pickup service for the leaves back then like we do here. 
Savannah and I made caramel apples. I found many options for buying already unwrapped caramels or even thought about using a home made recipe, but I like unwrapping the candy, that is what makes part of the fun. 

We carved our pumpkins while watching It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. I even got a shot of our TV during the famous, "I got a rock" -heh I'll never get tired of watching these and it will always be part of our tradition as it was mine when I was little. I felt bad for Savannah, her pumpkin had double the size of rind as ours did so we had to help her a bit. Charlie's turned out pretty neat, it resembled a robot. When I told him this my guess based off his smile in response, I think he liked that.  

Savannah and her best friend went trick or treating. I thought she did a good job designing her costume. It was a lot of fun to watch her and Ari go off together - almost like watching her for the first time. I often try to soak it all in as I know it is going to be one of many "lasts" as we approach adolescence.

 We even dressed up the cat. He went with it, but he is so wiggly it was hard to capture the perfect shot.
 This cat meows with his nose scrunched up. I don't know if I have many pictures of him without squinting his face all up. It is so cute. He talks a lot and is quite animated. Who knew a cat would give us so much entertainment?

Here's a throwback....Savannah's 2nd Halloween. She is much happier here than her first.
BTW there is a special story behind this little pumpkin with green shoes...and I'll never throw it away. My goal this upcoming year is to organize all my photos and get more scrap booking done. I find I may be better organized to do an online scrapbook but we will see. Memories seem to be more tangible in good old fashioned photo paper. 

Have a good night folks!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Finding Fall

So fall is upon us, the leaves are starting to get scares, soon the colors will be gone, but it is always a good change too. On the weekend I love the cozy slippers and hot coffee mornings and soon the fireplace will be where we will gather and watch the pets play. There's just a different atmosphere to the start of the day. The season for more baking and cooking indoors to make the hearth warm and rich means more time spent as a family in the kitchen and less yard work!

My birthday came and went, 44 years old now. Funny how that number doesn't seem so big when you are living in it. For work I made some pumpkin spice cupcakes that turned out so delicious and when I got home Savannah had surprised me by decorating the kitchen. Charlie took the kids and I all out for Mexican food (of course) and it was good day.

Charlie and Savannah gave me a new sewing machine for my birthday and I am waiting to finish my current embroidery project before I start anything new. It is hard cause I want to get started on making a quilt for myself for winter or try my hand at some crafts but knowing how I am I made the rule to finish the project I'm on before starting another.
My sister, Monica, wrote the cutest note in my birthday card and sent me this little hen recipe card holder and some candy corn. It is so cute!

Jake is so sweet and bought me delicious chocolates and a card!

My in-laws gave me some really nice binoculars so I can watch the birds. Not many out there this time of year but I will definitely be keeping them near the windows in case any red cardinals appear this winter. They are so lovely with their contrast in color against the glistening white snow.

And even though I am taking a break from Facebook right now I can't forget all the warm wishes from the rest of my siblings and friends. I think that list grows larger each year. I appreciate feeling so loved. I guess that is the best part about having a birthday. Some people look at it as a day of getting older but I look at it as a day to be celebrated.

I've never embroidered before, and it is quite relaxing. I've been wanting to learn something new to do with my hands before bedtime other than sit on the computer or on my phone while watching TV, and also for those days that I am in a lot of pain from FM to take my mind off it and focus on something else. The thing I am finding with it is I have learned I do want to get a needle threader because trying to put three or four threads through a tiny hole all at once is a bit more challenging than I thought it would be. With Garfield on my lap and playing with the thread I feel like a true granny. LOL

We made home made lasagna with our past maker and accessories that we received for Christmas last year. The ravioli and the fettuccini have all be so good we had to try this too of course. Charlie is getting the hang of it and become pretty efficient in making it too. He normally doesn't like pasta but with making the dough fresh like this he often craves it.
Just looking at the picture of the lasagne out of the oven makes my mouth water all over again.

Here are some fun pictures from the rest of the month:
Bear playing in leaves in the yard, I caught him in the act. 

Savannah's science project for the anatomy of a cell. She was really creative and made slime and thought of using a rubber bouncy ball for the  nucleus. Cute stuff! I miss seeing hand made projects like this from when she was in elementary school and so you can imagine this would have ben hard to keep in a file so a picture will work fine.