Closing Out The Year

This has been a difficult holiday season with losing my Cinny.  I was still mourning my Holly. Yet I know that as long as I give my heart to boxers, that time will always be too short.  Boxers have a shorter life span than many other breeds; nine years is a good lifespan. But I would never ever give up the love that this breed so freely gives.  I will always be a boxer girl.  It has been tough on Bruno and I have been in touch with NW Boxer Rescue to find him a new companion and another sweet love for us.  I love this rescue group! I was sorely tempted when Kim let me know they had some puppies; after several days of waivering I knew that at this time I could not really meet a puppy’s needs.  So I am still waiting for the right fur baby for our home. I leave it in the hands of the rescue group to find the best fit for Bruno, Jimmy, and me.  

Before losing Cinny we kept busy preparing for Christmas. In November I took five days off work.  It was glorious!  I kept so busy and accomplished so much!   Jimmy had a few days off and we concentrated on finishing the last of our shopping. We did a part of our shopping at Portland’s Saturday Market. Every time we head into the city we try to find new places to explore.  It is such an amazing city. 

I also decorated the house, knitted, sewed, and played in the kitchen.

Infinity scarves are really fun, fast, and easy. I have made an additional two since these pictures were taken. With the hubs working swing shifts, my evenings consist of curling up with my sweet boxer babies, turning on my favorite Brit TV shows (a second watching of Foyles War is my current choice), and knitting away. I also pulled out one of those weaving contraptions I found this summer at yard sales. I was hooked, it is totally mindless yet turns out a great looking scarf.  All of these projects are from the bits and bobs of yarn I collected secondhand for pennies. 

You all know how much I love Pinterest. When I saw these chocolate spoons I just had to make some. I wanted a little flavor so used a chocolate orange and combined it with a Hershey bar. I found the spoons at Goodwill and Walmart. 

Got out for near daily walks. Always new places to explore at Minto-Brown Island.

One one of my last days off we headed to the beach. I am so grateful that we did.  Cinny was more active than usual as she ran and played. We never would have expected that within 72 hours a brain tumor would take her from us. Look at that happy face!

I received this in the mail from my sweet daughter after losing my Cinny.

How special is that!!  RIP my sweet Frassy and Munster. 

Here is another sweet gift I received in the mail. Every year for the past 7 or so, a dear friend Louella sends me a home made ornament. I treasure every one.  Louella also includes a goodie for the fur babies to. She has two handsome fur boy’s who like to be included in the giving. 

Aren’t those just too cute!! 

Inadvertently several years ago I started finding a focus word for each year. 2012 was balance as I learned to balance work/health/life. 2013 was adventure as I got married, left one job, moved states and started a new job. 2014 really did not have a word as it has been loss and imbalance again.  In perusing Pinterest I happened upon Susannah Conway and her wonderful workshops.  I immediately signed up for this one

There is a facebook page where participants can share ideas and work together.  I love it!  

Her next workshop is

I am considering this one as well.  I am pretty confident I have my word and will sharing it after the first of the year.  

Here’s wishing you and yours a wonderful and blessed Christmas and New Year!




Making Body Butter and More Exploration

Several months ago I purchased all the raw products to make body butters. I’ve seen so many recipes on Pinterst and wanted to have a go.  I have experimented with coconut oil, but today was serious business. 

I started with a few recipes I had found on Pinterest but did a lot of tweaking. First batch was simply equal parts coconut oil and coconut butter. I melted them all in the microwave then refrigerated until opaque.

After it was opaque, around 20 minutes, I took it out and whipped it with the electric mixer. Then put it back in the fridge again for 5 minutes to firm up before the final beating. It takes a lot of beating to get to stiff peaks. If it is not making stiff peaks put in back in fridge for another 5 minutes. 

Using approx 6 oz of each coconut oil and cocoa butter yielded 3 containers.  For the pink butter I used 3oz coconut oil, 6oz shea butter, 2 oz cocoa butter, 1-2 oz vitamin E oil.  I melted the coconut oil and cocoa butter in the microwave and then added the Shea butter and mixed. I placed this mixture in the freezer for 5 minutes, removed it, added bit E oil and then whipped and whipped with the electric mixer. It only yielded 2 containers. I added essential oils to both but never really got a good smell. The Shea smells awful and needs masking!  With both the finish products feel a bit greasy, but I’ll let them set and test them both tomorrow.  Next I’ll just use Shea and cocoa butter. The coconut oil seems to hinder the firming up of the butters. We’ll see what it looks like in 24 hours. 

Pulled out all my Christmas goodies today!

So excited to start the process!!  Has always been the tradition to decorate on Thanksgiving week-end and this year will be no exception. It is always such a treat as every year what with yard sales and such my decor grows and allows even more holiday cheer!!  This year I am hosting a company party so want everything just perfect!  

As the hubs and I continue to plan for retirement and view homes we have been doing serious thinking and can’t decide between property in the country or the coast. So far with all the places we have viewed country property is winning. On our foray to look at homes yesterday we happened upon this treasure!

This wonderful cheesemaking operation was just tucked off the highway beside the family dairy farm. Willamette Valley Cheese!!  Sampling was free and you were allowed all the samples you desired.  As there was just too much of a selection, I deferred to their recommendations for my tasting. Every single cheese was exceptional….every one!!!  I walked away with a nice selection. And the prices were beyond reasonable!!  

I love small family businesses! From their website I copied this excerpt:

“It’s sunrise at Volbeda Farms. The creek runs cold and clear in the countryside surrounding Salem, Oregon. Rod Volbeda’s jersey cows are enjoying a breakfast of home-grown, fresh forage. Their milk is the prime ingredient for the award-winning line of Willamette Valley Cheese Company brand Gouda, Havarti, Jack, Cheddar, Brie, Fontina, and other farmstead cheeses. Some are updated with subtle herbs and spices. Others represent classic European recipes Rod learned as an apprentice with Dutch cheese masters in Holland. All are buttery-smooth, mildly fragrant, and all-natural. They are enticing alone; prepared for discerning palettes. Their depth and intensity are heightened by hearty red wines and crisp, refreshing whites. The specialty cheeses of Willamette Valley Cheese Company consistently exceed expectations.

Treating the herd well ensures the finest cheese ingredient: top-quality milk with high-butter fat and extra protein. Time-honored recipes, innovative techniques, and imaginative flavors are balanced by Rod Volbeda’s dedication to artisan cheese making. “Cows and dairy are a family tradition,” says Rod, a second generation craftsman with a degree in food science from Oregon State University. Rod spent more than a decade perfecting cheese recipes and growing his herd of jersey cows. Only after careful consideration of every aspect related to the cheese making process did he believe the timing was right to launch Willamette Valley Cheese Company. Honors and awards for the company’s 100% Jersey milk farmstead cheeses soon followed. Health-conscious consumers seeking fresh, natural products began lining up at specialty stores and growers markets for their cheeses.

The Volbedas know their customers care about where their foods come from. Raw milk produced at Volbeda Farms goes directly from the milking parlor to a thoroughly modern cheese making facility. Pasteurization takes place in an on-site vat with no bumpy truck ride or lengthy trip through pressurized tubes. The Volbedas believe it makes more sense to create and age their cheeses on the same farm where their trademark Jersey milk is produced.

The Volbeda’s philosophical approach to farming includes the practice of environmental sustainability. They fertilize their pastures and crops with nutrient-rich compost. Their cows are not treated with hormones. Their cheese making operation focuses on quality, not quantity. That may be old-fashioned, but the Volbeda’s care about their customers and never rush to market with products that don’t meet their stringent standards for freshness and flavor.

Loyal customers appreciate and savor the flavorfully soft and creamy hand-crafted cheeses created by the Volbedas – part of their dairy family’s heritage since 1962. Rich western soil and verdant fields provide pasture for the happiest cows in the valley. Willamette Valley Cheese Company guarantees you’ll find their products distinctively fresh, smooth and uniquely flavorful.

Pamper your palate. Explore the textures and tastes derived from the fine art of hand-crafted, slow-made, all-Jersey cow milk farmstead cheeses. Willamette Valley Cheese Company’s offerings are from the Volbeda family to you and yours. Natural cheese just doesn’t get any better than this.”

All so very true!!!

While out exploring we headed to Monmouth and Independence.  Salem is surrounded by small towns and we both love visiting them.  Found the sweetest used bookstore in Independence.  Who doesn’t love a good used book store?!

Could spend hours here!!  Shelves and shelves of magic!!!

Closer to home we make our usual forays to Minto-Brown Park for our routine walks.  We have yet to explore all the paths. Minto-Brown Park is 1200 acres with over 20 miles of paved paths and numerous dirt paths. It borders the Willamette River.  It is meticulously maintained by the city and an absolute jewel!!! 

It is one of our favorite places to walk!  I just love it when cities care enough to preserve green areas for public use.  I have been fortunate enough to live in cities that offer these amenities. But have to say Minto Brown Park is the best hands down!!!  The boxers would certainly agree!  Here they are after a walk

Cozy and content!  

And now I must attend to all those boxes of decor…

Making Merry!




Rainy season has come to the valley.  I do love the rain.  Living in Walla Walla we never saw a great deal of rain and I have always enjoyed a raining day.  It was one of the reasons I had looked forward to living in the Willamette Valley again.  I love rainy, misty, drippy days!  I love the way the mist hangs over the valley, weaving and dancing up and down and in and out of the trees.  I love the sound of rain beating a pattern on the roof and windows, making me feel all safe and cozy tucked in my warm dry home.  And it makes me want to accomplish things and tackle projects.  Indoor projects of course.  But I don’t mind walking in the rain, bundled up tight, its quite invigorating.  Our latest adventure was in the rain as we headed to check out Pacific City.

It was cold, windy, and raining but so beautiful.  Had the best ever cup of Peppermint tea there and hubby had a Chai which was the best I had ever tasted!!

Wet but happy!!

We took a new route home which followed this beautiful creek.

And crossed numerous one lane bridges.  This was my favorite.  Check out the pumpkins on the end posts!

Back at work I was surprised and delighted to walk into my office and find this gorgeous bouquet!

 Happy Bosses Week!!  What loving and thoughtful staff!!  They are a blessing to me!  And also a fruit tray.  Don’t mind my messy office the past month has been a bit hectic at work!

Speaking of work, test results back and no H. Pylori.  My MD referred me out for a endoscopy, but in the interim I started reading everything I could and discovered the benefits of grapefruit juice for ulcers.  It is amazing, seriously!  I dropped all process foods and started drinking copious amounts of grapefruit juice and over night the pain nearly disappeared. Speaking with the gastrointestinal MD he stated that grapefruit juice will neutralize acid.  So for now I am doing that I will try dropping the omeprozole to one a day.  But not brave enough to do that yet.  Feels good to feel good again!!  We never really appreciate our health until we face health issues.  This was a nice wake up call to get my diet back on track with healthy foods and to work on stress reduction!  I will be experimenting with some of my favorite recipes and substituting whole wheat flour and alternative sweetners such as maple syrup.  Nothing artificial however. 

And now back to this:

What better to do on a rainy, drippy, cold afternoon!

Happy Fall,


Welcome Pumpkin Season

October has arrived, and with it my desire for pumpkin goodies.  I rarely bake anymore but just can’t resist pumpkin bread. I tried two recipes and while both are good they are distinctly different. The first is a traditional moist pumpkiny flavored bread.

 Yummy perfection.  When this was gone I happened upon a recipe that added dates and pecans.  It made a much darker bread with clovey flavor.  Next time I would cut back on the cloves, yet as it aged over a few days the clove mellowed out. This was by far my favorite!

Here is the recipe courtesy of my friend Joyce

3 cups sugar
3 1/2 flour
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 can pumpkin
1 cup oil
1 cup dates or raisins
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tsps. each: Nutmeg, cloves (ground), allspice, cinnamon

Mix all dry ingredients, mix all liquids. Stir together until smooth.

Grease and flour a bundt pan.  Bake for a good hour at 350 checking occasionally to see when done inside. 

In the kitchen I also made up some of the blackberry harvest into jam.  Blackberry jam is one of my favorites. I always use the recipe inside the MCP pectin box. 

So yummy spread on bagel and cream cheese!  

One big change for me has been going caffeine free.  A few months back my stomach began hurting and I could not figure out why. Tried clearing things out of my diet with no success. Doctor visit and seems I have an ulcer. Testing for H.Pylori and if not that will be scoping my stomach.  So I went cold turkey off caffeine. Amazingly no headaches. And I don’t miss it. I now drink herbal tea and my newest hot drink love is 100% Apple juice with a shot of caramel.  Yum!  Stomach still hurting but better and bearable with meds. But I want it cured not bearable!!!  Thankfully my new Doctor (yes I switched after the first just put me on meds with no follow up).  This one is a D.O.  I just have no luck with MDs and have not used one in years since discovering the care that a DO delivers!  And with this the hubs and I decided to start eating clean and eliminating all processed foods. Of course this was after the pumpkin bread.  I’ll have to find a way to make it with whole wheat flour without sacrificing the taste. 

In other news the hubs updated his bike. This one had everything he had been wishing for on it. 

Love this man!  

This crazy boy, who is sitting on his sister (he did not hurt her and I got him right down), left us some nice gifts on the carpet one day while we were working.  Ivory carpet at that!  On to Pinterest to find a solution (I just love Pinterest).  Found one and it was amazing. Even took out some spots that were in the carpet when we moved in! 

Here is the recipe:  Just mix equal parts water and white vinegar in a container and add a generous squirt of Dawn dishing washing liquid.  Saturate the spot and scrub thoroughly working the solution all the way into the pad.  Blot out all the liquid you can with dry towels, let dry, and vacuum.  Spot will be gone!  Amazing!

Crafting and knitting has rather taken a back seat as work has gone crazy and been putting in 10-12 hour days (may be the reason for an ulcer?!).  But I did take time to make another banner for work.

Candy corn!  Simple yet cute. Did not get a finished photo. Just love making these banners.  Again Pinterest is the inspiration!  

Happy Pumpkin Season!


More Good Times!

Of all the reasons I love summer my favorite is that is when all the grands come for a visit!  This week it was my oldest Christina, her hubby, and four wonderful precious sweet peas!  I had not seen them in almost a year so was very excited for them to arrive!!  The weather was perfect and I could not wait to share my favorite places with them.

We have the best ever park right nearby so spent a lot of time there.  They just loved climbing on the structures and showing off for their gramps. 

Salem really knows how to make parks that are kid friendly.  Water features are a normal part of these parks. The grands loved them!

On the way back home we always had to stop by the berry bushes.  We took buckets one day to gather enough to share with mom and dad and to make some yummy blackberry milkshakes!

They were some serious berry pickers!  Frankie filled that bucket by himself almost!  Course it never made it home that full as those berries were too sweet to not eat on the way!  

It has always been a practice between the three girls and I to share our crafting stuff and decor. It is handy as one always has something the other needs or can use. So while Christina was here we hit my sewing room with a vengeance and went through every last thing!  I now have closet space and she has stuff she needed for her creative processes.  Of course she warned me she has a carload to trade back.  My girls laugh at me, but they do appreciate that I usually have what they are looking for. The joke in our family has always been “don’t tell mom that you collect something unless you are prepare to have an enormous amount of said items.” I love yard sales and am always on the lookout for special things they would like.  Bless the son in laws as they know to leave room in the car when they come visit as “mom will have boxes of stuff to send home.”  

My grands love my collecting bug and always take home the treasures I’ve collected for them. I love toys and have a hard time passing them up at yard sales!  So I don’t and then I send them home with my grands. Yeah the parents love that too….not!  

Just look at all that junk!  It’s all gone now!  Don’t worry I’ll fill it back up soon!

Of course one day was spent taking the grands to yard sales.  Oh what treasures they found, too!  It was tiring, but they persevered and came home loaded with goodies!  

All my grandchildren inherited the creative gene. Building, sewing, knitting, writing, movie making, sculpting, drawing and painting, and so much more; they all engage in a creative outlet.  I love that!  Turns out that Toot is a knitter!  And wow can she knit!  

She found some faux fur yarn on one of our shopping trips and had this much knitted up right away.  She’s fast!  It appears she inherited her great and great great grandmother’s knitting skill! 

As crazy as it is with a houseful of kids, I just always hate seeing them leave. The house is just too quiet and so lonely. But soon enough the normal routine of business creeps back in and there is always something that needs tending to.  But how my heart aches when they pull away and I walk back into that now silent house!  

My poor little Cinny is getting so old!  She had another hematoma in her ear and needed surgery. She looks so pathetic and acted like the world had ended!  She has another surgery scheduled in a week to remove a growth.  Poor little girl!

Silly crunchy nosed baby!

That big boy we adopted has walked right into our hearts. The hubby is dead in love with him. He has adjusted so well and is no longer requiring crating while we are away.  He loves his little sister and she him. Like my Holly, he is an in your face dog and adores the grands. Bill wanted to take him home.  The hubs would have none of that, he’s nuts over that boy! Although we named him Bruno, I call him Polooka, cause he is a big silly ole Polooka!  

My knitting has remained small simple things. I am in desperate need of dishcloths and so making a half dozen of these:

I go through dish cloths and bleach the heck out of the so just using some yarn I got at a yardsale nothing fancy.  Quick, simple, but the best dish cloths ever!

I did find this on my trip to the Book Bin with Christina and can’t wait to start some projects in it.

Summer includes being invaded by ants.  What pesky little annoyances!  Searched Pinterest and found a remedy that works. Equal parts borax, sugar, and water in a jar lid or small container. Attracts them and they track it back to the nest killing them off. Seems to work OK so far.  

And now must dash off to work….oh how I pine for the days when work in not on my agenda!



Family, Fun, and Movie Making

The past two weeks have been super busy. Lots of day trips, family coming to stay, and organizing and having a yard sale.  And also, sadly, my Doodle had to return home to prepare for back to school!  I sure miss the heck out of her!!!  House is way too quiet and poor ole Bruno is lost without her to curl up in bed with every morning. 

Since it was the last few weeks with Doodle we jam packed lots of fun in.  

We spent one day making a movie. I cannot believe her patience with this process.  We were 4 hours in the woods with thunder and lightening all around as she calmly took shot after shot to produce her newest stop motion.

It is amazing how stop motion movies are made. The time and patience that go into the making is amazing. Doodle is currently working on a series and has produced two episodes. You can watch them here

Of course we had several more trips to the beach.  Usually we never venture further south than Newport, but we wanted to see some new sights and check out Sea Lion Caves.  I had not been there since I was a child and Jimmy and Doodle had never been there.  It was more commercialized than I remember, of course, but very well done with lots to grab your interest and a killer gift shop!  

We discovered an amazing beach on the way home!

Bruno and Cinny just love the beach!  Cinny acts like a puppy once she hits that sand.  The sheer joy that they exhibit spills over onto all of us!!  

We stopped at the cutest little cafe for lunch. They had the most awesome Japanese tea pots all over.  But what made them so sweet was inside each one was a note. What fun to open the pot and discover this note:

I was blessed to be there with two people I love dearly!!  Since Doodle had an upcoming birthday we ordered her a large piece of chocolate cake.

Check out all those umbrellas hanging from the ceiling. The owner makes them. 

At work we had an event to celebrate the dog days of summer. Doodle dressed Bruno up in Harley wear and dressed to match him. She won third place ribbon, losing out to two pocket dogs dressed in dresses.  Bruno would not hold still for a photo. 

It was a great event with dog rescue groups, a local vet, our humane society, and some therapy dogs. The residents loved it and that is what mattered!

All too soon Erica, my sister Anna, my momma, niece, nephew, and grandson showed up to take Doodle home. But they were able to stay a few nights and we squeezed in shopping, yard sales, and a trip to the beach. My momma loves the ocean and was out in that water with her walker!

While Doodle was here at every yard sale she was looking for things for her sibs. She had nice gifts for all of them all wrapped and ready to give. I am so proud of how giving she is!  When her brother, my sweet Jayse, came down with Erica to pick her up she was so excited for him to open his gift.  Jayse loved the building set and his cousin and him got busy building. They were so creative!!!

 A great time was had by all!  We stayed up late, ate too much junk, and talked a storm. When time to head home the car was so loaded there was little room for passengers!  As when those we love leave, the house was too quiet and lonely.  But they will be back soon and next week Chrissy is arriving with more grands!  Cannot wait!!

Living the dream,






It’s Christmas Time Again…


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Yet another Christmas has arrived and how I adore Christmas time.  I start playing Christmas music in November!  With a new home and new town decorating was new all over again.  I did feel a tiny bit of sadness, but just a tiny bit, as I brought out all my decorations and began to decorate this new place we call home.  I remembered the excitement I felt at decorating my own beautiful cottage in the Villages….but time marches on and life brings changes.  I am very happy living here so near to the ocean and the city!  But still there is occasionally that twinge of sadness.  But then don't holidays always bring a bit of melancholy?!  However, the sadness could not remain long as the house was tranformed with Christmas finery.  So many of my decorations hold deep sentimental value and have been used year after year.  And this year Jimmy and I bought a real tree, no artificial stuff when you live in Christmas tree land!!  It makes the house smell heavenly!  Now if only I could have all the girls and grands here for Christmas it would be perfect!!

Although we have both been really busy, we got out for more exploration and found this amazing nature area right here in the city…


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My little girl is getting so grey.  How fun it was to wander through these bent and broken trees.  One of the things I love about Salem is that although it has all the amenities of a city, it is loaded with so many natural places to explore.

As the year comes to a close I am vowing once again to slow down my pace.  I often feel like a hamster on a wheel….spinning and spinning and getting nowhere.  The change of ownership at work has made for long days as a new model of operation is embraced with new (and improved) systems.  It is all good and will be a marked improvement, but most time intensive for a bit.  Since moving here my daily workouts at the gym are a memory of the past and my figure is showing it as is my health.  I just don't feel as good and find myself once again just grabbing whatever is easy and close by to eat, which at work is usually unhealthy!  My wonderful hubby makes me yummy dinners which I eat too much of…..  So looks like 2014 will need to be a repeat of 2012…focus on putting my health first.  As we all know, no one else can do it for us and if we don't make the priority it will never happen…

But it is the Christmas Season so no negative thoughts, just gratitude for all my blessings.  Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones may your blessings be many!!



Still Coastin…

This couple just cannot seem to get enough of the ocean!  We set out this time to check out the Petrified Trees in the ocean at Neskowin.  However the tide was in and  after a brief stop we headed back down the beach stopping at numerous places along the way.  The weather was perfect with temps in the 60s!  Amazing for so late in the year.    

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On one of our previous trips my hubby had carved our names in the sand bank.


We were so suprised to find it still there!


I just don't think there is any place on earth as breathtaking and beautiful as the ocean!  

I needed this get away as my work has been pretty demanding of late as Bonaventure sold off numerous communities and Southern Hills was one of them.  It is all good as we are being managed by Prestige Senior Living as of December 1st.  Both are good companies and I will miss the Bonaventure family, but change happens and I have learned to go with the flow.  Getting everything prepared for a new ownership is a daunting task however!  I am familiar with Prestige as they started in Pendleton where I lived years ago, my grandmother stayed in one of their skilled nursing facilities, my daughter worked for them, and my girls attended a bible study at the owner's home.  Small world indeed.

Maybe what I love so much about the ocean is how closely it mirrors our lives.  The ebb and flow of my life has been a story of high and low tides (times).  But through it all there is a pattern, a consistency and continuity, when looked at as a whole.  The day to day stuff never seems to fit any pattern or consistency, but when reflected back upon and viewed as a whole, I see a pattern emerge.  I see that I have grown as I have learned to accept who I am which returns me to the child I was.  My inner compass never changed, I just had to learn to listen, accept, and follow my innate self; the self that God designed and determined before I was born.  When I fought the tide I found myself floundering and often felt I was drowning.  Now I know to breath deep, relax, and trust the tide to carry me in the direction that is my authentic path.  Not always easy, but I keep on trying.