The Blackberries are Ripe and Summer is Ending 

I love summer. Even when we are knee deep in summer activities it still seems like life is just a bit more laid back. I think it mainly seems like that because those beautifully long summer days give us so much more time to get things done. For Sam and I summer was pretty uneventful. After our hectic spring it was a welcome change.

 One of our biggest highlights has been the fact that our boy Oliver is finally done with all his vaccinations which means we can take him outside. So far this means some exploring in our jungle-like front yard and a walk or two up our country road. These walks consist mainly of him being carried, but still.

Last week, we discovered a huge patch of gorgeous blackberries growing on the edge of our property. I was thrilled! Not only are blackberries my favorite berry, but they are also so nostalgic. When I was young my grandparents had tons of blackberries that grew near their home. My cousins and I would eagerly pick as many berries as we could so my grandma could make her delicious blackberry pies. 

So last week Sam and I picked quarts and quarts full of berries. I made a cobbler for my dad’s birthday and we froze the rest. I’m looking forward to some pies during the fall months. I’d love to know what others do with blackberries. 

Now about a week later all the berries are gone. It always seems to me that while they are quintessentially a summer fruit, they bring with them the beginning of early fall. The big maple tree in our front yard is beginning to turn the most glorious red, our house now has early fall decor on display, and I bought cans of pumpkin puree at Costco for use in the not so distant future. And while I’m sad to see summer leave, I’m anxiously awaiting an autumn full of family, friends, new adventures, and of course…pumpkins! 

Here we go again….



My first look out the window this morning was at a gray sky. My heart leaped at the thought of a “fallish” day, despite the fact that our weather will once again by sunny and very warm again tomorrow, at least according to the forecast. Autumn is always a great juxtaposition for me, I know that soon all the beautiful green leaves will die and earth will prepare for it’s winter dormancy, but that change is exciting. Although I am no longer a classroom teacher, life seems to start anew in Autumn and I’m filled with the excitement of life’s new possibilities. Several new possibilities will realize soon and I will be sure to share them here.

Since I last shared my thoughts here, Sam and I (as many of you already know) got a puppy. So now our days start with the our adorable Miniature Dachshund named Oliver. He is always about 1000 times more enthusiastic than we are in the morning. Today he leaped from his bed with a song in his heart and dashed for one of his favorite toys. Then we finally were able to coax him to eat his breakfast. This is usually quite the production because he is so excited about life that he forgets his food is right in front of him until we literally begin to hand feed him from his bowl! His excitement about everything never ceases to amaze neither Sam nor  me.  Although in this photo below is less than thrilled to be at the vet’s office waiting for his next booster shot.


Tomorrow will start sunny and warm, and I will probably begin the day with an iced coffee and flip flops, but today I’m holding tightly to my warm beverage and the excitement of all life has to offer in the coming season.


The China Hutch

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Back At It Again…

Here we are, summer is almost gone, and it has been an embarrassingly long time since I sat down to write a blog post. So much has happened since the last time I sat down to do this. The biggest thing to happen in our lives since then is something that sadly rocked our world. My sweet Grandma Kelly passed away. Grief is a difficult journey and I am slowly working throughout.

The beautiful china hutch you see in the picture belonged to her and I am now than our dining table so it looks beautiful in our space.

 What to put in it?

While I inherited my grandmas hutch, and her Christmas China, I did not inherit her everyday china. Sam and I have been searching for the perfect set to fill it with for the past several months. Our wedding China is a bit to modern for this beautiful vintage hutch, so we set out to some of our favorite antique stores where we live.


What we found was a beautiful vintage set of Royal China from the 1950s. The line is called “Colonial Homestead.” Sold and Sears Roebuck & Co. between 1953 and the late 1960s this was marketed as affordable, everyday dinnerware for American families.


Each piece has a different scene of life from a colonial homestead.

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I love this cake plate with this cute scene. I especially like the tilt-top table on the right. There was one just like it at the store where we bought this set.


So simple and sweet.


The  set was very complete. It included 13 full place settings, several serving bowls, serving platters, gravy boat and under plate, cake plate, cream and sugar set, and many extra cups and saucers. IMG_0062

To finish off the hutch, my mom and I searched and searched for something to add to the China. We found this cute candle holder and wreath at Pier One Imports. It matched perfectly. Then we filled it with these adorable cotton balls from Craft Warehouse. I have been wanting to add some cotton decor somewhere in our home and this was the perfect place.

Some things we learned about antiquing…

Neither Sam nor I are very experienced at antiquing. But we picked up a few things along the way:

  1. Keep searching…what you want it out there, you just need to scour a lot of antique stores.
  2. Be willing to wait. When we found what we wanted it was out of our price range. We took a risk and let the china set sit in the store for a couple of weeks, hoping for the price to go down.
  3. Ask for a discount. When we initially asked if they could do any better on the price, the dealer dropped it by 10%.
  4. It’s okay to negotiate. We haggled for a few days and were able to buy this set at a very reasonable price that was within our budget.

A Random Find & Taco Night



I love love love to buy funky kitchen gadgets and the like. This recent find was no different. I was recently at my favorite grocery store, Winco Foods, when I stumbled upon this set of TACO PLATES for only $5.98. When I found them I knew that Sam and I needed them in our home.

Our love for Taco Night knows no bounds so we used the new plates that night! Initial thoughts…they are super fun, and we will happily use them again and again. They are the perfect size for Sam’s favorite hard taco shells. I love soft tacos, and these are a bit small, so we’ll have to buy smaller soft tortillas the next time 🙂

Let’s Make the Bed: Do You or Don’t You?


Let’s be real…we all love the following feeling…after a long hard day, crawling into a perfectly made bed at night. The sheets are crisply tucked in, pillows are fluffed, and the comforter hangs evenly over each side of the bed as you snuggle it up to your face. That’s the dream. For many people…probably not the reality.

I love to have the bed made nicely…see above 😉  I was taught early on to diligently make my bed every morning. I would painstakingly tuck in my Scooby-Doo, Aladin, Micky Mouse, or whatever sheets I was obsessed with that week. Then tuck in my blanket(s), then finish it off with the evenly distributed matching comforter. Back then it was easy, my arms could easily reach around my entire twin-size bed from one side.

As an adult, I still enjoy having a perfectly made bed, but I hate the process. First, sheets are so boring now, just bland colors, no fun patterns or cartoon characters. Second, our queen size bed is hard to make. So much bending and reaching and walking around the bed. Third our mattress is heavy! It’s hard to tuck the sheets in. Fourth, we have so many pillows to arrange: euro shams, standard shams, bed pillows, and throw pillows. (Don’t bother trying to tell me we don’t need so many pillows…we do!)

Thankfully, my dear-sainted husband is a pro at making our queen size bed every morning. The pillows are always arranged to perfection, the sheets are always perfectly tucked, and the comforter is perfectly placed. Each night I know that I will crawl into a bed-making masterpiece.

I’ve read many places that people who make their bed every morning are exponentially more successful in life. I would tend to believe that. It’s the beginning of the morning and you have already  completed a major accomplishment. One that could involved stubbed toes, frustration, blood, sweat and tears, depending on your bed.

What are your thoughts? 🙂

It was a dark and stormy day…and I made soup…


Hello all! As each passing day gets longer and longer, it seems that life seems to get busier and busier. My blogging time has become sporadic at best. But each time I have an idea for a post, I take a picture and tuck it away until I have a minute to sit down at my computer and share something with you.

Right now, the sun is shining and Salem is unusually warm for the end of April. But, last week there were several days where it was typically rainy Spring weather in Oregon and I had a craving for soup. The soup you see in the photo. We have several tired and true soup recipes in our family. One of my favorites is our Loaded Baked Potato Soup. If you would like that recipe, please let me know! But, last week’s soup was one of those fun culinary adventures into the unknown. I started digging through the spice cupboard, the pantry, and the freezer this is what happened. And it was delicious. Here is my Recipe.

Ian’s Tortellini & Beef Soup

1 lb burger (I used groud beef)

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 large carrots, finely chopped

1 small bag frozen peas

1 small bag frozen green beans

3 cans of diced tomatoes (14.5 oz each)

3 cans beef broth (10.5 oz each)

1 bag frozen tortellini (16 oz)

1 tbls each salt & pepper

2 tbls Italian Seasoning Mix

1 tbls Garlic Salt



In a large pot or dutch oven saute onion and ground beef on medium heat, until onions are tender and beef is fully cooked. Add the carrots and saute for an additional 10 minutes.

Turn heat to high and add beef broth, tomatoes (with juice), and all seasonings. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30-45 minutes.

Bring mixture back to a boil and add tortellini. Boil until tortellini is al dente (about 6 minutes).

Reduce heat to low and add peas and green beans. Cook an additional 6-8 minutes until peas and green beans are hot.

Serve immediately.

Manners Matter…Yes it’s True (My thoughts on dinner being a dinner guest)


I love to talk about manners. For many of us, manners were thoughtfully instilled in us by our parents.  Or by manners-minded teachers from 4th/5th grade (who will probably read this post, you know you you are…thank you!) This could be as easy as holding the door open for a stranger, to remembering to always bring a dish to a potluck meal to placing your napkin in your lap. For some reason, so many people nowadays seem to struggle with basic manners. One of my biggest pet peeves revolves around the Thank You card. I’ve said it before…ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS send a thank you card…but I digress.

Today I’d like to talk about dinner guests. I was taught that when you are invited to someone’s house for dinner (whether it’s a friend, coworker, your boss…whomever) you always ask if there is anything you can bring. Period.

Recently Sam and I had some very dear friends over for dinner. They are also a young married couple. When I first invited them over, the first question of the wife was…what can we bring? I know her parents was well and know that they were the ones to teach her these wonderful manners.

Of course I said not to bring anything, please just bring yourselves. And they did…but they also brought something else…why? …because they also have wonderful manners.

Our friends brought us the lovely bouquet you see in the picture. They did not have to bring anythings, and I told them they should not have brought it, but they did, and I adored their thoughtful gift for nearly 2 weeks.

So here are some basic guidelines to guide us all through the world of being a dinner guest:

  1. Always ask if you can bring something. If your host says no, bring flowers or another small gift for your host.
  2. If your host says yes, and you are going to bring something…then for heaven’s sake actually bring it. There is nothing more rude that saying you will bring something, and then showing up without it.
  3. If you are bringing something, bring enough for everyone. If you bring a pathetic little portion of whatever it was you will just look silly.
  4. I hope this helps. 🙂

Happy Spring…Hello Again

Hello All…it’s so good to finally be back again. Life has been crazy for Sam and I the past few weeks (as I’m sure it has been for you). But here we are entering spring full of optimism and…seasonal allergies. 29792776_10209341317810498_3049180877238396570_n(2)

This is a photo of us on Easter. We had a really lovely Easter this year. My parents came down from Portland. I prepared a delicious Easter meal that I did not photograph so there won’t be any evidence of that meal on my blog. But I have lot’s of ideas floating around the a new optimism to get back in the swing of blogging again soon. Until then…enjoy all the beautiful flowers that are blooming everywhere…unless you live somewhere that is currently under many inches of snow!

The New Vase (I need your help)

I recently bought a new vase…you might see a pitcher. KEEP READING BECAUSE I NEED YOUR HELP.

Anyway, I’ve had my eye on it for a while. I saw it at my favorite store, Target, several months ago. At that time, it was the original price of $29.99. There is not way that I would pay full price for the vase. But, being the diligently Target shopper that I am, I knew that if I patiently waited, I might find it later on and end-cap at a more reasonable price.

I waited a couple weeks, and behold…it was on an end cap for $18.76. Still, not a price I would pay. There were two left, so I walked away and crossed my fingers. Another week passes, and I once again see the vase. It is again on the end cap and there is ONE vase left. The price is $12.76. I can’t bring myself to buy it. It has to be under $10 to be something I can justify buying. Again, I cross my fingers and wait.

A few more days pass, I once again see the coveted vase on the end-cap. Yet another clearance sticker has been put on the vase and it is now $8.58. I pick it up, admire it, and long to bring it home…but I know that if I just wait a few more days, I may be able to bring it home for even less.

Low and behold, I go to Target last week, walk to my favorite end-cap and see my one lonely vase on the bottom shelf. I pick it up, wistfully thinking it may be a lower price….and IT IS! It now has a clearance sticker that say $5.56. I’ve succeeded. I know at this point I can’t get it for any cheaper so I happily take it home.

NOW I need your help…

I’d like to fill it with a lovely floral arrangement. And I mean silk flowers…I love to have fresh flowers, and Sam and I often surprise each other with real flowers, but I want this new vase to be an arrangement that will last.

WHAT SHOULD IT BE? Send me your thoughts, ideas, pins, photos…

THANKS 🙂20180212_152641

The Story of My Keys

As you may have seen on my Facebook page, this week started with a hiccup…a pretty BIG hiccup. The story goes like this….

On Monday Morning I left the house, to go get some work done at the church. We live on a street with a large locked mailbox at the end where we and the majority of our neighbors get our mail. . It’s on the way out of our neighborhood so I stopped, as I typically do, on the way to work to pick up our mail (our mail comes insanely early each day).

I am driving our 2017 Chevy Cruze. It has a key-less, push-bottom start, and so it’s easy to put the car in park, hop out, unlock the mailbox, jump back in the car and head into town. And I did just that, got the mail, jumped back in the car, and began my morning.

A little back ground, we live in a small town outside of Salem, OR. It is about a 12 miles drive by highway. It is a nice drive, but it is a little inconvenient. So I try to maximize time that I spend in Salem getting all my errands done. That morning, I needed to stop at Hallmark (located in the mall in downtown Salem) to pick up a birthday card. When I go to our mall in Salem, I typically park the car in the garage. It’s close and convenient.

On this particular day, after parking in the garage, I hopped out of the car and instinctively reached for my pocket to make sure I had my keys with me…but no such luck… no keys. I got back in the car and started searching the console, the passenger seat, cup holders…you know. No keys to be found. Maybe I dropped them outside the car? Nope.

At that time I realized that a good way to check and see if the keys were in the car would be to push the start button and attempt to start the car. If the remote is inside  the car it will start. When I push the button, the car won’t start, and I see the message “NO REMOTE DETECTED.” Well, I think….I must have dropped the keys in the few steps I took outside the car. THEY ARE NOWHERE TO BE SEEN. I get back in the car to look again. Suddenly the car alarm starts to sound. Small short blasts of the horn at first, then long loud blasts. People are walking by and staring. Meanwhile I’m frantically looking for the stupid keys. Finally after shutting the door and sitting very still the alarm goes off. Thank the Lord! By now I realize I cannot find the keys. And I’m stuck. I decide to get out of the car and call Sam.

After I get out the car, the alarm starts to sound again. I am sure that someone from mall security is going to come arrest me at any moment for attempting to steal my own car….

I call Sam’s cell phone several times…obviously he is at work and can’t answer his cell phone but I keep trying…car alarm still blasting in the very echoey parking garage.

After what seems like an eternity, and a lot of prayer, the car alarm stops one again. And, I decide to call Sam’s Branch and try to get a hold of him. His manager answers and I am able to speak to him. I explain that somehow my keys have vanished and I’m stuck in the mall parking garage (about a 5 minute drive from Sam’s Bank). Miraculously, Sam switches his lunch with another coworker and comes to my rescue.

When he arrives, I am standing near the car with the alarm blasting once again. People are really starting to stare now, and I am at my wit’s end. Luckily, my wonderful husband has BOTH of our car faubs on his key ring. He gives me his faub and I am able to start the car and turn off the alarm! But, where are the keys???

By now, I start to think about where they keys may be…did they fall out by our mailbox? A 12 miles drive away. Did they fall out at the Starbucks drive-thru? I just don’t know. After a very long hug and a lot of thank yous, Sam heads back to work. And I begin the drive home to try and find the keys.

Several things are running through my mind at this point. If someone has found my keys there are a number of potential issues. 1. Because my mailbox key is on the key ring, a would be key-finder could easily figure out which house is mine. 2. My house key is cutsy and has a big house one top that says “HOME”. Why did I ever want the cute key? 3. Both our car faubs are on my key ring. The Jeep faub costs $75 to replace, and the Chevy faub is $150 to replace. I’ve read the manual. 4. How much will the dumb mailbox key be to replace? The list goes on.

So here I am trying my hardest to drive the 55mph speed limit on my way home. I turn down our street, and my eyes instantly look to the mailbox. One of our neighbors, an adorable lady who must be about 100 years old is standing in front of the box, so I can’t see the box. I hurriedly park the car and dash to the box.

Miracle of miracles, my keys are right in front of my nose, dangling from my mailbox. I can’t believe it! What luck! At that moment our neighbor who lives closest to the mailbox comes out his front door and asks if those are my keys. I reply a very embarrassed yes.

Apparently, not long after I left my keys in the box, he arrived home and found them. He took them out and figured out which house they belonged at. He walked down to our house and tried to return them, but no one was home. He stuck them back in our box, but was keeping an eye on them out his living room window to question the person who would come claim them.

So there’s the story. I ran leaving my keys in the mailbox. Thankfully, my wonderful husband came to my rescue. And our very trustworthy neighbor kept the keys, our home, and our valuables safe.


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