Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Simple Summer Pleasures

Sometimes it is the simplest pleasures that bring joy to a summer night.

This plate of strawberries was joined by Dave's grilled chicken and veggies and a simple cucumber salad. It was followed shortly by fudgesicles on the porch and a few rounds of banana grams.

Thanks, Christy, Jenny and Wendy for joining us on this beautiful summer evening.

What are you enjoying this summer?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Jesus and frosting

Scotch tape holds my package together.

Nails and mortar hold my home together.

Frosting holds the layers of my cake together.

 Really bad tasting glue holds my envelope together.

A Trader Joe's bag holds yummy groceries.

A Christmas tree holds my ornaments.

A Beatrix Potter pitcher holds milk for my oatmeal.

A moving van holds all my earthly possessions.

But my life stuff, my concerns, my fears, my emotions, my family, my future . . . what of them? No scotch tape or Trader Joe's bag, or nail holds them.

This morning in my quiet time, I made a list of six things that are concerning me today. Six things I care deeply about and six things I CAN NOT CONTROL. "There's the rub." (quoting Father Tim in the Mitford series)

Then I turned to my Proverbs study that led me to Colossians 1:15-17, which describes Jesus. (I love it when God's Word, the Bible, speaks directly to me . . . when the words jump off the page right into my soul.) This was God's word to me this morning.

". . . in Him (Jesus) all things hold together."

I went back and talked to Jesus about each situation in my life. I asked Him to be my glue, my nails and mortar, my frosting.

". . . in Him all things hold together." Colossians 1:17

I am linking today with Michelle at Graceful. Stop by and visit her blog. Michelle is a gifted writer.

image credits:,,,, (last three are mine.)

Friday, June 24, 2011

2 Ways to Create Memories with Children

It is a joy for us to have two darling children in our lives on a regular basis. Our daughter nannies for D, age 5 and C, age 2. I love investing in them and one of the ways I do this is through creating memories.

1. Having fun routines creates memories.

When D and C arrive at our apartment they take off their shoes, put their coats on the guest bed and run to the pantry (which they call the "snack room.")

Each visit they know they will find "bunny crackers" (Annie's organic) and dried cranberries. They get to choose my ceramic ramekins ("the bowl with the surprise" because of a heart painted on the inside,) or our plastic Cubbies cereal bowls for snack time.

It is such a simple routine. All it requires of me is keeping the "snack room" stocked. I love seeing their faces when they head to the pantry.

2. Doing ordinary things together in a fun way creates memories.

Last week we were having the darling's parents for dinner. So on our regular Friday visit, Christy and I took them to Target.

We put them each in their own carts and had fun racing in the aisles (it was a quiet morning at Target) - memory #1.

And we were picking out "fancy napkins" for dinner with their parents. D picked out the floral napkins for dinner. And C picked out the polka dots for dessert. They could not wait to show dad and mom the following weekend when they came. I sent them home with the extras - memory #2.

These are just two examples of simple ways to create memories with children. I am sure you can think of hundreds more. Have fun.

Do you have a current favorite way to create memories with the kids in your life?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sara's House ~ a Beautiful Makeover are so much fun. I have six of them and they are all adorable. My youngest is Sara. She was in junior high when we got married. Sara is sweet and fun and very smart. 

Sara recently completed a beautiful make-over of a room in her Ohio home. When I saw pictures on facebook, I asked her if she would share her project with us. Yeah, she said yes. So here goes, take it away, Sara. . .

I am so excited that Glenda asked me to write an entry for her blog. I am going to share about my eating area redo. For the past several years, I had a semi-Tuscan themed decor. At one time, I was fond of this, but was becoming very bored with it. (See the grapevine mirror and some "lovely" grapevine on the shelf? Don't you feel like you are looking into a home in Italy?!)

Originally, the makeover started with a desire for a wall color change. I wanted something that would make a "perfect" bold color statement and contrast with the Glidden "Cookie Crumb" in our family room. So, I went to Home Depot and after much debate, picked out "Voyage" by Behr. Talk about a change.

This new bold color needed something, and I knew exactly what I wanted - a white buffet/sideboard. I began my search for the "perfect" piece that would not cost a fortune but would match the picture in my head. And, believe it or not, it actually happened rather quickly.

 A few weeks after painting the walls, I was in a thrift store on a Sunday afternoon, preparing to check out with a few items (that end up in this story too). I glanced to my right and it was as if a flashing arrow caught my eye - the buffet in my head was sitting along the wall.

 I walked over, almost afraid to see the price and practically jumped with joy when I saw it was only  $79.99.  I had no truck in the parking lot, and the store would not hold this "meant for me" piece, so I actually had to wait and return on Monday to buy it.

( Of course, I barely slept fearing someone else would have snapped it up before I returned.) Thankfully, by waiting, I was able to take advantage of the store's weekly Monday sale - 25% off all purchases. So, I not only got that buffet, but I saved money on "MY" buffet.

Luckily, I have a husband who not only drove me to the store in his truck, he loaded and unloaded the buffet, then immediately took to sanding and priming this gorgeous 1948 piece of awesomeness for me.

After researching, this buffet seems to be a piece from the Drexel New Travis Court Collection.

 While all the fun work was being done, I was preparing for  what I knew would end up being my favorite wall in the house - the Gallery Wall. I love displaying photos, so I had been gathering frames of all sizes and shapes from thrift stores. This hunt was being conducted in anticipation of the "perfect" wall decor I had in my head, to go along with that perfect bold color and perfect buffet.

 I began working, on the floor, with the frame layout.

Once I had the general idea of how I wanted the wall, I began painting all of the  frames white. The painted white buffet was moved into its home. I was in awe because it looked just the way I had pictured it in my head.

Then, the Gallery Wall was hung - with much measuring and teamwork with my husband. Finally, I topped the buffet with a few items.

The project is not quite complete. Notice those frames are not all filled - not because I do not have the photos, but I want them to be . . . "perfect." 

If you look closely, you will not see any hardware on the drawers and doors. (Any great ideas for cleaning that hardware?) This project is my first real attempt at a room makeover, and I am taking some time with it.

And . . . I already have the next project waiting in the wings.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Honest to Blog

There has been much blog chatter about honesty in recent weeks. It has me pondering some questions and I would love to have you join in my conversation.

1. Do you tell the truth in your blog posts?

I want to be honest and try to be honest, but I had to laugh recently when I called my sister to say I had posted about her famous cucumber salad. It wasn't until she said she did not even make a cucumber salad, that I remembered her salad was broccoli and over the years I had changed it to cucumber.

In a recent post about my dad's open heart surgery, I said he was 82. Please do not tell him that I added a year to his age.

And, I have discovered that everyone does not remember an event in the exact same way. Even in some beloved family stories, my brother and sisters and I do not agree on every detail.

So, my answer is, to the best of my 58 year old brain's ability, I tell the truth.

2. Do you present yourself and your life in a realistic picture?

Well, I like my life and I like myself, so I usually do not mind sharing the honest details of my life, when appropriate. And I have a basic positive outlook on life, which my blog voice reflects. I think if you met me in the real world, you would find me very similar to meeting me in the blog world.

Last October, I wrote a post called The Other Side of the Coin where I shared a list of my weaknesses, quirks and things I struggle with. It was well received. I do not think any of my readers were surprised that I was not perfect. (I double-dog-dare you to do the same.)

But, I will not post any pictures that make me look chubbier than I am and favor pictures that make me look thinner than I really am . . . hmmm?

3. Do you follow proper protocol when using material that is not original to you?

I have long been committed to "giving honor to whom honor is due", and have tried to do this in my blog. Several times I have seen a post that I wanted to use. Each time I contacted the blog writer and they have generously given me permission to use their stuff. (Sweet, huh?)

For example, the lovely Jill at A Pocket Full of Posies let me share her hearts in my post Hh is for heart. And the lovely Leslie at A Creative Mint, let me share her use of Trader Joe's bags which inspired my post And the Oscar for the Best Christmas Wrap goes to . . . DAVE. So, my advice is to write and ask permission to use things you love. Bloggers are generous people.

And when you use an image, give the website for the source. Only once, did I lose my record on that, and the little blue tea cup was so adorable, I still used it.

There is a lovely new initiative called Link with Love, a creative way for bloggers to unite in our desire to be honest and support the proper ways of sharing intellectual property.

Link with Love was begun by artist and blogger, Kal Barteski, who blogs at love life. Even in the crazy busyness of launching her new idea, she took the time to write me back with permission to use the above image. See, bloggers are great.

Check out Kal's post to join in and learn all the ways you can help protect all of our material. Good work, Kal. Best wishes in the new endeavor. I know I am all in, and will be adding the cute button to my blog.

(It comes in different colors to match your blog style.)

I would love to hear your response to Honest to Blog. Any thoughts or stories to share?

Image credit:

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Chicago Saturday

It was just a normal summer Saturday in downtown Chicago last weekend, which means there were a lot of choices for how to spend our day "with 500,000 of your best friends."

We had six choices. Which one do you think we chose?

l. The Rib Fest

2. The Zombie Walk

3. International Soccer Double Header

4. The World Naked Bike Ride

5. The Blues Festival

6. Wall Street Art Festival

We are so boring . . . we went for #5 ~ The Blues Festival. Did you guess correctly?

What did you do on Saturday?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Magnum Bars make their sweet U.S. debut . . .YUM

Magnum bars, "premium ice cream on a stick wrapped in a thick chocolate shell," were launched in the UK in 1987. I was surprised to read that they are the top individual frozen dairy snack in the world.

Magnum bars are kissing cousins to Ben and Jerrys, Popsicle, Good Humor and Breyers ie. made by the same company. Wow . . . they are in good company.

Because of all those summers travelling in Europe, our family has a long history with Magnum Bars. Nothing could make a travel day any better than pulling into the beautifully designed WELCOME BREAKS in the UK.

America could learn a lot from these amazing rest stops. WELCOME BREAKS have ~

1. restaurants - fast food or a nicer place to order
 a proper dinner and cup of tea

2. playgrounds for the kids to stretch their legs
 and have some fun

3. clean bathrooms

4. fun shops to browse - flowers, books, magazines, sweets etc. and,

5. Magnum Bars, always Magnum Bars.

On long travel days (heading to our next European country), stopping was fun because our coach drivers were required by law to take long breaks (usually an hour). So . . . there was always time to enjoy a Magnum Bar.

(My personal favorite - covered in almonds.)

Now, if we could just get the FEAST BAR to come to the States. It is a bar of chocolate on a stick, covered with ice cream and a chocolate layer. Oh my.

Do you have a favorite frozen treat on a stick?

A little note from Glenda: I am intentionally taking a little technology break for the next week and a half. I have prescheduled blogs (so you do not have to miss me), but I will be missing you. I will catch up on blog reading and my favorite - blog commenting, after a fun break (and a possible Magnum Bar).

image credit:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Very Good News

When I grew up in Viet Nam, it was during the war years. As American missionaries, our parents wanted to distinguish our family from the military (for safety reasons only.) One of the ways we did this was having large signs made and attached to our car (a cool old land rover) that read TIN LANH. Our hope was that the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers would then leave us out of the war.

My parents worked along side the Vietnamese church,  called TIN LANH, thus named because it was a church that preached the gospel. TIN LANH is the Vietnamese word for the gospel and it means "good news."

Last week, I was sitting on the back porch reading my Bible, when I came across Titus 3:3-7. Periodically, Vietnamese words still pop into my head and as I read these verses . . . TIN LANH was what I immediately thought. These verses are a beautiful description of the gospel, TIN LAHN, good news.  Listen . . .

Titus 3:3-7

(3) For we ourselves were once
               led astray
               slaves to various passions and pleasures,
               passing our days in malice and envy
                         hated by others and
                         hating one another.
(4) But when the
               goodness and
               loving kindness
                        of the Lord appeared
(5) He saved us,
               not because of works
               done by us in righteousness
     according to His own mercy
               by the washing of regeneration and
               renewal of the Holy Spirit,
(6) whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus
      Christ our Savior
(7) So that
               being justified by His grace
      we might become heirs
               according to the hope of eternal life.

Very good news, indeed.

Linking this beautiful summer evening with Jen and the lovely Soli Sisters.

image credit:


Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Summer Favorites

 1. My favorite summer read (so far.)

Andre began playing and hating tennis at a very young age. This book is so well written, I had to stop and read interesting parts to Dave. (Thanks for the recommendation, sister Sue.)

2. My favorite summer beverage.

Delcious ice cold seltzer water in a lime green can . . . what else could you want?

3. My favorite things in our new neighborhood.

Walking to get my hair cut. Walking to Starbucks. Walking to the park. Walking to Lulu's Cafe. Walking to the monument. Walking to the el.

4. My favorite quick summer meal.

We do not eat very much processed/prepackaged food, but once in awhile, something quick is fun.
Trader Joes' Thai Shrimp Gyoza are delicious.

5. My favorite modern convience.

I cannot imagine living in Chicago without central air conditioning. The past two days we were near 100 degrees. 

6. My favorite days of the week.

Each Friday morning, there is a little knock on the door. I run downstairs to greet Christy and the sweet boy, C. This summer big sister, D, is off school and will join us. Lots of stories, snacks, laughing, napping, trips to the park etc. Love Fridays.

And Sunday mornings begin in our church coffee shop, where we meet the girls. We go to church together and then have lunch. Love Sundays.

7. My favorite television.

Dave and I love working our way through a television series. We are on season four of Friday Night Lights.

What are your favorite things this summer?

image credits:

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Super Simple Summer Salad

The temperature is nearly 100 degrees in Chicago today and tomorrow. Not a day to turn on your stove. But a great day for a super simple summer salad.

Mix equal parts:

cherry tomatoes (sliced in half)
avocado (diced)
cucumber (love the small ones at Costco)

Add Italian dressing.

See what I mean . . . super simple summer salad.

What is your favorite hot summer night meal?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Surprise Library and Cherry Ames, Student Nurse

I was in the sixth grade when our family moved to Viet Nam. You never want me on your side in a Trivial Pursuit game . . . I know nothing about American culture or television during those years. But there was one surprise that I did not expect, which makes me okay in the literature portion of Trivial Pursuit.

We lived in the city of Dalat, which originally was the home of the famous Dalat School for missionary kids. Soon after we arrived and settled in our new school, the war worsened and a decision was made to move the school to a safer location.

Amazingly, the US government provided four huge transport planes, to move our entire school from Dalat, Viet Nam to Bangkok, Thailand. Our text books went right on the plane with us.

Fortunately for me, there was no room to pack up and take the entire fully stocked school library. This meant that every summer and every spring when we were home for two months, I had full access to the library. In fact, I used it so much, they just gave our family a key. Imagine it . . . a library nearly to myself.

(Gifts from my friend Melia.)

This is where I first met Cherry Ames and I began with Cherry Ames, Student Nurse and read through the whole series several times. This series of 21 books, written by Helen Wells, encouraged many to choose nursing as a career. In 2006, the Cherry Ames series was reprinted, because there was a nursing shortage in the states.

(Dave and the girls recently bought me one of the new reprints.)

So, we lived in a small highlands town in  Southeast Asia, in the middle of a huge war . . . and I had my own personal library. How very very sweet of the Lord! "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights . . . " (James 1:17)

Did you have a favorite book series when you were growing up?

Enjoying a hot summer day with the lovely Soli Sisters.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Printers Row Book Fair and My Top Five Read Aloud Memories

For several years I  received excited phone calls from the girls, before and after Printers Row Book Fair. For several years, I longed to join the girls for this amazing Chicago tradition for book lovers like us. This weekend is the Printers Row Book Fair and you guessed it, I live in Chicago now. YIPPEE.

This fair covers five city blocks downtown, once the cities book making hub. Just typing that makes me kinda sad ~ will there ever be a city with a bookmaking hub again? I am sure you will not be able to spot us . . . but we will be somewhere in that crowd . . . with big smiles on our faces and more than likely, arms full of books.

My anticipation of this event has my mind wandering off to all sorts of bookish memories. So here we go ...


1. One of my earliest bookish memories is of my mom (Hallie) reading to us at night. I am sure we read lots of children's books, but the first ones I actually remember were Little Women, Little Men and Jo's Boys. (Louisa M Alcott)

2. Following fourth (or maybe fifth) grade, our family spent part of a summer at the University of Washington, while my parents studied linguistics, in preparation for our move to Viet Nam. We lived in the dorm and ate in the cafeteria right there on campus. 

While our parents were is class, there were different activities for the kids. My favorite was a young gal that came every afternoon and read aloud to us . . . The Wizard of Oz. (Frank L Baum)

3. Someday I should write a post about my strong opinions on boarding schools, as I am not a big fan. But I do have many good memories and one was our evening bed time stories.

There was usually one book being read to the "little kids" and a different book being read to the "big kids." I remember night after night being enthralled by the story of Eleanor in Not My Will. (Francena H Arnold) 

4. While studying elementary education at Biola University, I took a class from the head of the department, an older very classy woman. One afternoon, as an illustration of her point, she read aloud to us a chapter of Uncle Tom's Cabin. (Harriet Beacher Stowe)

We sat mesmerized, both by the shock of the story, but even more by the sweetness of how it effected our professor. She cried sweetly during the entire reading.

5. My freshman literature teacher, also at Biola, introduced us to fantastic literature in our assigned reading. But what I remember the most is each Friday afternoon, she read aloud to us one chapter of By Searching. (Isobel Kuhn) I remember the stresses of college life floating away, while we all sat listening to her beautiful voice reading this amazing biography.

I never did read Uncle Tom's Cabin (a little too graphic for me.) But the other books I have read over and over again and introduced my daughters to them, as well.

Do you have a favorite read aloud memory?

ps. Do not even get me started on the memories I have of reading aloud to our daughters.

pss. Check out this great post on books by my friend, Pamela.

6/13 - Enjoy our daughter Jenny's post about the fair ~

One Surprise Benefit of Having Company in your Home

While we are still on the topic of having guests in our homes, I want to tell you one of the hidden benefits that I enjoy about having company.

Besides the fun of preparation, the wonderful time around the table of eating, laughing, praying . . .

. . . it forces me to get my house clean. I really love that.
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