Category Archives: Unfinished Projects

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

Each and every year since we moved into our home in 1993 I have tried to find the perfect place to hang the Christmas stockings.  Some years I hung them on the open stairway in the livingroom.  I’ve hung them on the front of the TV stand.  I’ve tried to hang them from the frame of the window in the living room but haven’t been happy with any place.

I’ve looked at the space around our little stove in the porch where we put up the Christmas tree each year and decided it would be the perfect place.  This is the before picture.

Last Sunday I started my project.  Tonight I finished it and hung the stockings.  This is the after picture.

I came home from work at 7:30 pm and planned on making Swedish Meatballs after work and freezing them.  I gathered my ingredients and went to the refrigerator to take out the ground beef and ground pork and realized that half of the beef that I purchased was gone.  By this time the grocery store in our small town was closed.  There are no 24 hour grocery stores here.  If I wanted to go buy more beef it would mean a drive of 25 miles one way to buy some.  It would have to wait until tomorrow.

I called my daughters to see if they had used  the beef and their response was “Possibly”.  They had made Sloppy Joes with the beef.  They were on the road to another town and said they would pick up some more.  They didn’t get home until 10:30pm so tomorrow it is for the meatballs.  So much for trying to do things ahead of time.

This afternoon when I drove into town to transfer titles I found some more curious cows.   Just thought I’d share.

As I drove past this road ditch I noticed that the branches growing in the ditch had a white frosty look to them as I drove by.  I stopped at decided to take a picture.  As I got closer I realized that there was ice on the branches that gave them the white look.

I hope that as you are preparing for Christmas you will find to take time to observe the beauty around you.


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No Assembly Required

No Assembly Required

As Christmas Eve approaches I can’t help but think of past Christmas Eves.  As I young child I can remember laying in my bed upstairs on Christmas Eve and hearing my parents busy downstairs.  I never knew what they were up to until Christmas morning but I could hear them until late into the evening.  My Mom and Dad were usually busy assembling something for under the tree or putting on the finishing touches on something they had made.

My Mom and Dad have always made a gift for one of us six kids and worked very late into the night to put on the finishing touches.  After I was grown and had children,  I got a glimpse of what their Christmas Eves were like. 

We spent Christmas eve with my husband’s family in our town and then loaded up our kids usually around 10 pm and drove 2 hours to my Mom and Dad’s home in the Twin Cities.  We would carry our sleeping children into Mom and Dad’s house and put them to bed.

One year when we arrived my Dad was putting the finishing touches on this toy that he made for our son Curt.

The few years later when we arrived at Mom and Dad’s on Christmas Eve Dad was putting the final coat of varnish on this forklift that he made for our second son Matt.

Five years later Dad was painting this on a doll cradle that he made for my daughter Anna.  He checked out books from the library to teach himself how to paint the elaborate design on the cradle.

The most elaborate project that Mom and Dad worked on together was a Barbie doll house for our daughter Christy.  It was a replica of a house that we moved into when I was twelve.  It was a Dutch Colonial and beautiful.  Dad and my brother built the doll house and did all the exterior finishing.  Mom made all the furniture and the interior decorating.  I don’t have a picture tonight because that would require me to go into the attic with help and bring it in to photograph.  I plan on doing an individual post on the doll house at a later date.  I went to bed that evening at 3 am and the three of them were still working on it at that point.

Over the years my husband and I have spent time working various Christmas Eve projects.   One year my husband decided to make a go-cart out of plumbing pipes and fittings.

One year I sewed sweatshirts for all the nieces and nephews made of Disney character fabric.  Another year I made wooden nativity blocks for all the nieces, nephews and our kids.  Eleven sets in all.

For many years my Christmas Eves involved finishing quilts.  I made a baby quilt and presented the parents with a quilt at Christmas if they had a baby born that year.  One year I made a quilt for my brother for Christmas.  Another year I made a quilt for my mother-in-law that year I was still hemming it minutes before we went to their home for Christmas Eve dinner.

The latest Christmas Eve project was about eight years ago when we gave our oldest daughter a drum set for Christmas.  She was in the percussion section in band.  The drum set came in boxes and had to be assembled.  It wasn’t that difficult but there were many pieces.  I couldn’t start bringing in boxes until all of our kids went to bed.  At that time they were night owls.  The boys were in college and the girls were 15 and 13 and had Christmas wrapping to do so it was after 1 am before I could start assembling.  It was almost 3:30 am before I was finished. 

This is the first year I think I will make it to bed at a decent hour.  No homemade gifts this year except a scarf that is almost finished.  Something seems out-of-place, not having a last-minute project.  There is still time to start one to carry on the family tradition….


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Shooting at the Whole Flock


Credit photo

Shooting at the whole flock is a favorite expression of my husband.  It is not because he is an avid hunter.  He uses it to describe his feeling of being overwhelmed with too many projects on his list.  Today I can sympathize with shooting at the whole flock.

I have a day at home with my grandson.  I’m trying not to squander it with a little more than two weeks until Christmas.  There is decorating to do but before that is done I really should clean.  There is the never-ending pile of laundry to deal with and bathrooms that need cleaning.

There is that box of papers piled high on my dresser that I cleared off the counter in the kitchen the day before Thanksgiving that I need to sort through to make sure there are no bills in there that need to be paid.

And what am I doing instead of any of the above.  I’m typing a blog post.  Just where are my priorities.  Okay in my defense at this time I have a load in the washing machine, one in the dryer, the dishwasher ‘ ready for the next load and I put away yesterdays laundry and most importantly I played ball with Jack and did a puzzle or two with him.

My constant battle is to keep Jack away from my sewing machines.  It seems they are a constant fascination beyond any of the toys in the livingroom.  Believe me he is not lacking for toys since he is the first nephew, our first grandchild, and the first great-grandchild on both sides of the family. 

I thought naïvely that this year if I would just bake one type of cookies for Christmas each day for a couple of weeks I would have no problem getting them done.  At this point in time there are none baked.  Maybe this afternoon I could one batch done while Jack is sleeping but wait that is when I planned on cleaning the bathrooms.

As my daughter left for college this morning she hinted that it sure would be great to have lasagna for supper.  If that is to happen it means a trip to the grocery store and time to prepare.  Maybe I could do that before Jack naps or scrap the entire idea of lasagna and opt for something I have all the ingredients in the house for like a big pot of chili.  Sounds like a plan.  Lasagna tomorrow instead.

My dryer just dinged…Another load to  fold.  Another load to start.  Time to go shoot at the whole flock.


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The Cobbler’s Children Have No Shoes

I’m married to a mechanic.  A very smart mechanic.  He is great at diagnosing problems that others spend hours trying to figure out unsuccessfully.

This is what the dash on my car looks like this evening.

I apologize for the lack of clarity in my photo.

Just about every light is on tonight.  Three of the lights are all tied to one problem, a broken wire on a wheel bearing.  It is intermittent but when it decides to act up all three lights come on.  The car is still safe he assures me but driving with all the lights on is a bit disconcerting.

One light is due to a crack in a plastic piece on the top of the motor that creates a very tiny vacuum leak hence the little light is turned on.  It doesn’t cause any problems for the operation of the car, it just turns the light on.

I have to confess that I am responsible for the low fuel light.  I am breaking my rule about never running the gas tank less than 1/4.  The bell is dinging telling me its time to stop at the gas station which is where I took this picture.

My car is a 1999 Olds Intrigue with 216,000 mile on it.  It’s been a good and faithful car.  Never once leaving me sitting at the side of the road.  I could drive better but as long as it fits my need which is transportation from point A to point B I will continue to drive my Olds at least until my two daughters finish  college.

Over the years my car has been an organ donor of sorts.  We have had customers with car issues that needed parts we didn’t have in stock.  To get our customers on the road quickly and cheaply my husband has robbed parts from my car.  He eventually replaces them as the parts we ordered come in.  At least he’s never taken the radio from my car.  Now, for that , I would be up for a battle.

It’s universal.  People, whatever their profession, rarely want to come home to work on their own things that need fixing.  Carpenters have homes that are 99.95% finished.  It’s tough to tackle that .05% at the end of a long day.  My brother’s, the carpenter, home is just that way.  I was a prep cook for an Italian restaurant.  I can cook just about anything but the last thing I want to do is cook after cooking all day.  Give me a few days off from work of doing nothing and I’m really to cook at home for fun.

Maybe my goal for 2011 will be to finish some of my own .05% projects that I need to finish before throwing any more stones. 

Where ‘s the fun in that?

Starting new projects is so much more fun!


Posted by on December 3, 2010 in Life Happens, Unfinished Projects


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Up North

Some people would consider Central Minnesota as Up North and have visions of pine trees, lakes, bears, jack pine savages and so much more.  This afternoon they would not have been disappointed.  When my husband and I got home from work we started cleaning up our yard.  The strong winds this past week broke many branches off our trees that needed to be cleaned up.  He got out his chainsaw and I got out the wheelbarrow. 

We worked together to clean up the mess and while we worked in the background the sounds around us were like something out of the Red Green Show.  We could hear our neighbor’s sons riding their dirt bikes on a homemade track near their yard.  Every once in a while we could hear a shotgun being fired in the distance.  Duck hunting opened today in our area.  My husband added the sound of the chainsaw to the mix.  When he shut the chainsaw off I could hear the sound of an outboard motor running on the lake.  The only thing we were missing from the Red Green Show was something that was put together with duct tape.  He did have to steal the spark plug from my old lawnmower to fix the chainsaw after it quit but no duct tape was required for the repair.

One of my favorite things to do when we clean up the yard is to start a campfire in the fire ring in our yard.  As I pick up the smaller branches and rake up leaves I burn them in the fire ring.  I love the smell of a campfire.  After I get a fire going then its time to take out the marshmallows for roasting.  It’s a perfectly delightful way to consume sugar. 

Its hours later now and dark outside.  The beautiful fall day still lingers along with the smell of the wood still burning in the fire ring.  Time to sit an enjoy the cleaned up yard, the lake and a hot cup of coffee with my honey.  What could be more romantic?


Posted by on October 31, 2010 in Nature, Reflections, Unfinished Projects


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Can You Divide and Conquer Your To-Do List?

Today was one of those days with a long to-do list.  My husband and I have been working long hours this past month, evenings and weekends included.  We took the day off from work to try to get some things done around home.  This past weekend we started loading up things that needed to go to the landfill and recycling center.  We are desperately trying to downsize the amount of stuff we have in our home and garage.

We finished loading up our grandson and the truck.  We took a slow ride making sure nothing blew out of or off the truck.  When we arrived at the landfill we worked to put the recyclable in their proper bins and sort the non recyclable into their containers.  It felt great to get that job done.  It’s something we have talked about for months but finally got to it today.

When we got home it was on to the next things on our to-do list.  Our daughter brought home her broken laptop for her dad to fix.  While he was dismantling her laptop so he could resolder a portion and order a new part,  my grandson and I headed outside to work on picking up all the branches that blew down in the winds the past few days. 

While I was outside picking up branches I thought about how blessed I am to have the husband I do.  Over the years he has taught me how to do many things that has made both of our lives easier.  I went to college to become a teacher but there are days when I think he is the better teacher.  He is careful not to be critical when he his teaching me something new and always complimentary when I have done a job for him that has allowed him to use his time for other tasks.

Tonight was one of those evenings that we were able to divide and conquer our to-do list.  Our plans had been to drive to our son’s home this evening and pick him up and drive to the race shop that he works at part-time to pick up a TIG welder and shelving that his friend gave him because he is relocating his shop to another town.  As our afternoon progressed it was becoming increasing ly apparent that the evening plans would have to be moved to another day because things were stacking up at the shop that needed to be taken care of by my husband.

Our daughter’s laptop still remained in multiple pieces on my kitchen table although my husband had finished with the soldering but still needed to put the computer back together so our daughter could head back to college this evening.  We had a car customer that wanted to do the paperwork for buying a car this evening and a customer’s truck with a bad motor that needed a plan for the repair.

We decided that the only way to get everything done on our list was to set off in our separate directions to accomplish the many things on our list.  He finished things that needed to be done at our business and then came home and reassembled our daughter’s  laptop and I took the F-650 to the Cities to help my son load up the welder and shelving and deliver them to his home.

It was almost 11:15 when I finally arrived back at the shop to put the truck away when I noticed my husband had taken the time before he went home to move my car close to the truck garage so I wouldn’t have to walk behind the shop to get it when I got home. 

Over the 27 years that we have been married we have tried to make a peaceful home.  Not too critical, helpful and respectful of each other and our children.  We try to work together whenever possible to lighten each others loads.  I used to be critical of how a job was done by another implying that no one could do it as well as I do it.  I now see the benefits of teaching others and allowing them to do a job their way and not to my specifications.  They can feel good about accomplishing something and I have a task completed,  just as I feel good about being able to complete something for my husband or he for me.


Posted by on October 29, 2010 in education, Reflections, Unfinished Projects


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My Load is Lighter…over 400 magazines to be exact

I love magazines.  I love to read them cover to cover.  Some of my favorites are home improvement magazines, cooking magazines, and especially flying magazines.  I love to keep them and go back and look at the pictures for various home improvement projects that I thought some day I would like to do.  The problem was getting out of hand.  I bought those handy storage containers for storing magazines.  I thought if they were kept neatly it was okay to keep them all.  They were taking up space in closets and shelves in just about every room in my house and some in the attic and garage.

One of the websites I frequent often is a home management system called  Each month she has a goal to work on in your home to make it a more enjoyable place to live.  This month the goal is to get rid of paper clutter.  She says living in clutter robs you of your peace. 

One reference she made when she made this statement was that we all love to stay in a nice clean motel/hotel.  What is it about it that we like?  It is the fact that it is uncluttered.  That’s what I want in my home.  Uncluttered and peaceful.  I am not a hoarder like the new TV reality shows but I do have areas in my home that have been taken over by my magazines and fabric that I use for sewing. 

Tuesday morning my grandson Jack and I loaded up the truck of my car and drove to the local recycling center and dropped them off.  Oh how I was tempted when I saw the cover of several magazines and wanted to keep just this one copy or maybe two as I was putting them into the recycling bin.

Then I found myself looking at what others had put in for recycling and realized that their magazines were different from the ones I was bringing and started to pick them up and read.  I put them back and thought of my goal of a clean, peaceful, and uncluttered home.  Bringing magazines home with me did not fit into my goal.  It’s a good thing I had Jack to keep me moving. 

The next thing on my list as far as paper clutter is all of my household records.  I love office supplies so I have found ways to keep just about everything paper for our household.  If I go in my attic I could find a box that contains receipts for what I paid for fuel oil for our first home.  We haven’t lived there since 1992.  It would be interesting trivia to read but I don’t think I need them anymore. 

My goal is to work on paring down all this paper for 15 minutes a day.  That I can handle.  I’ve already begun to tackle the mail each day as it comes into the home.  I stand next to the paper shredder, recycling and trash and sort immediately.  With four adults in our home we get a lot of mail. 

I’m feeling better already about my home and the spaces that I have cleared of clutter.  Sorry Tyler that the magazines had to go,  I know your love of magazines,  but the peace is worth it.  I will always read magazines just not keep them as long as I have in the past and pass them along to others to share.

I’ll let you know of my progress at the end of the month.

 My new idea of an uncluttered, calm, and peaceful life!


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