April 13, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #22

I feel like I was just writing last week's post yesterday--time has been flying by this year!

I have a fun personal transformation to share (well, it's actually Eli's). He had an orthodontist appointment today, and he was surprised (and thrilled) when they decided to remove his braces! This actually wasn't his first time with braces; he had them when he was three years old as well to correct a cross bite. His smile was adorable when he was a toddler, but I was concerned because he was choking on food frequently.

I had to perform the Heimlich maneuver more times than I can count. We took him to a pediatric dentist, who said that his molars weren't making contact and he wasn't able to chew his food well. He said he could correct it with braces for just a few months. Eli called them "bracelets" and he was SO excited about getting them after I showed him pictures of people with them. Unfortunately, he still remembers what we had for dinner that day because his mouth hurt so bad that he couldn't eat. He did like choosing new rubber band colors at his appointments and I always stopped to get him a Slurpee from 7-11 afterward.

Thankfully, the braces worked! Those were his baby teeth, and after they fell out, he had some crowding problems when the adult teeth came in. We saw the orthodontist a few years ago, who recommended an expander followed by braces. We paid the equivalent of a new car (not literally, but not too far off, either--braces are crazy expensive!) and now, Eli has a beautiful set of chompers.

This next transformation, I actually saw on Facebook--my friend Trish posted it and I asked her if I could share it here because I was stunned at how amazing it looked. Trish and her husband took on a weekend project--they stained, cut, and hung planks of wood on the wall to make a gorgeous little accent wall!

We have a super small pantry which makes it painful to access anything at the back and it gets messy so easily! Combine that with my obsession of The Home Edit, organizing company/show, and I was determined to make it prettier and more organized. We have plans to build a new, bigger pantry, but until then this will do!

- Sarah

I have disliked the way the stained wood door trim looked around our white six-panel doors since the day we moved in 15 years ago.  However, there are 13 doors (including all of the closets, etc.), and that project never seemed to make it to the top of the list.  I finally decided it was time a couple of weeks ago.  While I do most of the painting in our house, I had no desire to tackle this project and hired it out to a local painter.  I am so happy with the results, it really brightens up the whole house.

- Cheryl

Thank you so much for sharing the transformations!

Trish, the colors you picked for the wall could not be more perfect. It makes me want to do an accent wall in my house! It looks gorgeous.

Sarah, don't you just feel so much better when you organize something that stresses you out every time you use it? I especially love the clear containers you used for your grains. Cute!

Cheryl, isn't it crazy how something like changing the color of the trim can give your entire house a new feel? It looks so different--and fantastic! I don't blame you at all for hiring someone to do it--painting trim is so tedious.

As always, I love seeing the before and after photos, so PLEASE keep them coming! I can't keep posting unless you keep sharing :) So if you'd like to submit a transformation (of anything at all) just send me a before photo and an after photo by email to: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Be sure to include your name and a description of the transformation, and I'll post it in an upcoming Transformation Tuesday post.

April 12, 2021

A New Workshop Toy

With the weather being so nice lately, I've been working in the garage as often as I can. I open the all the doors and get lost in a project. Unfortunately, this hasn't been great for my hands, so I've been trying to rest them until I can't help but go to work on a project.

I saw Becky on Easter and she showed Jerry a massage technique that he can do for me. Becky worked as a massage therapist while going through nursing school, and then she worked as an RN until moving here from Minnesota. So she knows quite a bit about the muscles and what may be going on with my arm/hand. And she doesn't think that the problem is my carpal tunnel; she thinks it's something called lateral epicondylitis ("tennis elbow"). That's when the tendons that connect the forearm muscles to the elbow get inflamed.

I had tried telling the doctor that I felt like the pain was starting around my elbow area (I couldn't pinpoint it), but he didn't listen to me and he told me he was sure that it was carpal tunnel syndrome. Wearing the splint doesn't help much, and if it was my carpal tunnel, the splint should help with the symptoms.

Anyway, Becky said that she bet she could pinpoint exactly where my pain was coming from--and within about three seconds, she said, "Right here" as I gasped in pain while she pressed down. When she put pressure in that spot, my hand got numb and I felt the very familiar sharp, burning pain in my forearm. (It is possible that I have both tennis elbow and carpal tunnel syndrome--I have the symptoms for both--but the tennis elbow seems to be where most of the pain is originating.)

She showed Jerry what to do, pressing his thumbs gently but firmly above my wrists, and very slowly sliding them up my arm along the muscle. She said she could literally feel the inflammation with her thumbs. It was painful, but it also felt like it was doing some good.

She told me that I should ice it a few times a day, which sounded painful to me--usually cold makes my bones hurt!--but I tried it and I was surprised at how good it felt. I hope that I am finally on the mend. I know I should be resting it more, and I have been--painting is what hurts the most, but I've only been cutting boards with the table saw lately.

And speaking of cutting down boards... I'm SO EXCITED because I now have a Dewalt thickness planer! It's been on my wish list for about two years, and I regularly check Facebook Marketplace, but nobody seems to want to part with theirs. They are never listed on there (or if they are, the price is the same or more than they would be at the store). Receiving the planer was actually a surprise...

Yesterday, Shawn (my brother-in-law) came out from Illinois to pick up our zero-turn lawn mower. When we were up north last summer, Jerry and I told him that he could have it for his and Jeanie's property in the upper peninsula. We wanted to get it out of our garage because it's so big and our yard is definitely not big enough to require something like that (we sort of inherited it from a family friend). It was nice to cut grass with, but not worth the space it took up in the garage.

Anyway, Shawn talked about giving me a jointer (another tool I'd like someday) in exchange for the lawn mower. I told him not to worry about it, that we were happy to give him the lawn mower.

When he arrived yesterday, he brought me a "present" (something in a black garbage bag). I assumed it was the jointer, and I said, "Oh! The jointer?" And he just said to open it. I was shocked when I opened it and it was a Dewalt planer! I was thrilled. It's in great shape and I'm super excited to use it.

It's ironic that I got it right after I used up a lot of my scrap wood on my scrap wood cabinet project! Haha, but I do need a table for the planer itself, so I plan to just use the cabinet for that. (The top that's on the cabinet in the photo above is just there temporarily--I am going to cut the edges flush with the cabinet.)

If you have no idea what a planer is (I didn't until a couple of years ago when I started making things out of wood) it's a tool that you feed boards through to trim them to a particular thickness while giving them a very flat surface.

When building furniture, like the cabinet, the planer would have been super nice because the boards would fit together better without any gaps where the board wasn't perfectly flat. A lot of the scraps I used for the cabinet were far from perfect, but still useable. Now, I can run boards through the planer to trim them to a consistent thickness and to flatten them.

If you had told me four years ago that I would one day write a post about how excited I am to have a thickness planer, I would have laughed at you! ;)

I have a date with YouTube tonight to watch some videos about the planer. Nerd alert!

April 11, 2021

Affirmators! Week 8 : Letting Go

[Affirmators! are cards with positive affirmations written on them. My friend John sent me a deck of them and I've been drawing one from the deck each Sunday. I hang it on my bathroom mirror to keep it in the front of my mind and try to work on that topic through the week. That's what this Affirmators! post series is about.]

Last week, the card was "Love" and it gave examples of the many "splendors of love". I didn't understand how that really related to love, but from the examples on the card, it sounded like I was supposed to notice little things that bring up good feelings. Not necessary things that make me happy--but rather actions or circumstances that make me feel happy.

I liked writing about it, but I honestly didn't think about it the rest of the week. My days are mostly the same as far as actions that I do, so there isn't a lot to look for. However, writing about it last week and choosing three "splendors" was nice.

This week's affirmation is:

Letting Go

I don't dwell on bad things that happened. I let things go because I have enough heavy things to carry around... and also, grudges aren't a great look.

Fortunately, this one doesn't really speak to me in a big way. I'm not one to hold grudges if someone wrongs me in some way--if they apologize and acknowledge that they were in the wrong, I won't even think of it again. However, if someone betrays me in some way and doesn't acknowledge that it happened or that they were wrong, then I have a very hard time letting it go.

Something I always try to keep in mind when someone does or says something hurtful is to look at what their intentions were or might have been. I've done things with great intentions and it may have backfired for whatever reason--so I would hope that people would look at my intentions and forgive me. (It's hard to explain this without an example, and I can't think of a good example at the moment.)

I asked Jerry if he thinks I hold grudges and he said no, but that I have a hard time letting go of something that I regret doing or not doing. He used the example of my friend Sarah, who passed away from melanoma in 2014. I really regret not going to visit her. I went one time to the hospital to see her, but I really wish that I'd spent much more time with her, especially as she was dying.

I think about it often, even though there isn't anything I can do about it now. I did form a friendship with her mom, however, which has been nice. Also, it was because of that regret over Sarah that "I chose to be jerk #1" when my friend Spencer was dying of brain cancer--here is a post explaining that! It was also the reason that I chose to visit my Aunt Jo recently when she was dying. So I definitely learned from the regret over not seeing Sarah, but I still carry that guilt around

There are other things that I wish I'd done differently in my life and I would love to be able to "let go" but regret is something that is really hard to let go of. I think it's because you can't change it--what's done is done and no matter how much you wish for a do-over, you can't really get one.

I think this is something I could definitely try to work on--but like I wrote on the Affirmators! post about "Joy", it's like telling a pitcher to throw strikes. Of course I don't want to feel regret, but it's either something you feel or don't feel and it's hard to change it. I think that the most important thing is to learn from it and do things differently in similar situations (like I did with Sarah).

This kind of sounds like a downer of a post! Thankfully, I am not thinking of regrets right now--it usually happens when I'm feeling depressed. But the next time I start to think about something I regret, I'm going to try to think of a lesson that I learned or could learn from it. That's a good takeaway from this card!

April 10, 2021

RECIPE: Mushrooms Au Gratin

I did not make a heritage recipe this week, but I did make a dish from the same historical society cookbook. (The heritage recipes are recipes that have been handed down from previous generations.)

My mom asked me to make the mushrooms as a side dish for Easter. I'd had them before--they are SO good. Jerry and the boys don't like mushrooms, which is a bummer for me, because I love them. Anyway, I was happy to make this!

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Mushrooms Au Gratin


1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 425 F.

Sauté mushrooms in butter until lightly browned; cover for 2 minutes (there will be liquid in the pan from the mushrooms). Blend sour cream, salt, pepper, and flour in a small bowl, then stir the mixture into the mushrooms. Continue stirring until the mixture begins to boil. (If it looks too thick, then add a little milk until it's a little creamier.)

Remove from heat; pour into a buttered pan. Sprinkle parsley and cheese on top. Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes until cheese is melted.

This is what it looks like before adding the cheese... (I used dried parsley and stirred it into the sauce before topping it with cheese). 

April 09, 2021

Friday Night Photos

I actually have a decent variety of photos this week. Nothing super exciting, but I always love to go through my pictures at the end of the week and remember the random things that I took pictures of.

Early in the week, I planned to buy a few things to put in Easter baskets for Luke and Riley. On Saturday, I was getting the stuff together when I realized that I didn't have baskets to put it in. I really didn't want to go to the store, so I got creative. I turned a couple of paper Kroger bags into baskets! Hahaha. It looks like more work than it was--it took me about an hour to do both. But I kind of like them...

I got each of the kids a stuffed animal (to go in the stuffed animal zoo that I made for them), some books (Luke loves learning about animals and Riley is VERY into unicorns), a mini kite, some cereal (the first thing they always do when they come over is go to my pantry and pick out a mini box of cereal), and a few pieces of candy. I figured they'd get a lot of candy from the Easter Bunny, so I kept in minimal ;)

This is the progress that the ants made in their ant farm. This was a week ago, and it's actually more complex now. 

Yesterday, Noah, Eli, and I were outside when Eli spotted this young bald eagle eating a fish in the tree in front of our house. I didn't know this was an eagle until my dad told me and I looked it up online. Apparently, eagles don't reach adulthood until they are four years old. We've had SO many of them around our house for the last couple of years. They're interesting to see because they're enormous.

I took this blanket out of the dryer and while I was putting clothes away, I tossed it onto the couch in my bedroom. When I came back, Estelle had curled up and fallen asleep in there. She looked so innocent!

I've been out in the garage every day, even if only for a couple of hours. The weather has been amazing! On this day it was raining, but I still went out and enjoyed it. The air was warm and it was peaceful with the sound of the rain. And yes, the floor is my workbench. I clearly like to spread my materials out ;) 

I really wanted to build something, but the cost of lumber right now is prohibitive--so I challenged myself to see what I could build using as many of my scraps and off-cuts as possible. I've actually used up quite a bit! I am building a cabinet--not sure what I'll do with it (maybe use it as a workbench in the garage?). You can see that I didn't have any large pieces of plywood for the backside, so I made a patchwork-type backing, haha. I used the sides of my old dresser for the bottom and I'm going to use the top of the dresser for the top of the cabinet.

I've been opening the windows every day and as soon as the pets hear the windows going up, they all rush to the living room. The cats sit in front of the windows all day and the new favorite place to sleep is this chaise on the couch. It's in the perfect spot. I love when the kittens cuddle together! (They turned one year old last month, can you believe it?).

My parents had their COVID vaccines (yay!) so we were able to go over there for dinner on Easter. I loved seeing Luke and Riley jump all over Noah, who puts his "too cool" act aside when they are just so stinkin' cute.

And I saved the best for last...

Does anyone remember Glamour Shots? (I just looked it up, and I guess it's still a thing?!) Well, in the mid-90's, Glamour Shots at the mall was very popular for a minute. I think it was at JCPenney. Basically, you'd get a makeover and wear some clothes from the portrait studio, and have your photos taken.

This photo is of my mom (center) and her two sisters (my Aunt Mary Jo on the left and my Aunt Mickey on the right). This was taken in 1994 and I think it's hilarious--none of them ever wore that much makeup, or bedazzled clothes, or poofy hairstyles. My mom said they laughed so hard that day because it was all so unlike them, but they had a blast. (Remember when I wrote about how I loved seeing the three of them together? It's because they always got the giggles--and I can only imagine how much they laughed during this photo session.)

Anyway, I was feeling much better today than yesterday, so I'm not sick. Whew! Jerry got a COVID vaccine yesterday and I have an appointment later this month :)

April 08, 2021

Board Game Storage

I'm actually not going to write a post today--I have been feeling really crappy all day. I really hope I'm not getting sick! I had zero energy today and I spent most of the day reading my April pick for the Friends read-athon. I'm about halfway done with it and it's good! I got really nauseous this afternoon for no reason that I could think of (and no, I'm not pregnant). Hopefully, I'll feel better tomorrow.

Anyway, I'm curious--if you're into board games, where do you store them? I really don't like them to be visible, so I want to put them in a cabinet or something. The problem is, I don't really have much room to work with. This has been driving me crazy for months.

My original plan for the living room was to build a floor-to-ceiling entertainment center with lots of storage for board games. However, lumber is so insanely expensive right now that I couldn't justify spending that much. Instead, I bought the TV console and coffee table on Facebook Marketplace and refinished that. I LOVE how it turned out, but there isn't storage for board games.

So, I guess I'm just asking if any of you have a creative way of storing board games. We don't have an attic or a basement. Until I got the TV console, I had the games on a (cheap) shelf, which was overflowing. You can see it below, but after I took this picture, we'd gotten several more games while going through a board game phase (we've been playing a lot in lockdown!). There wasn't room for any more.

Now, they are crammed in a bathroom cabinet because I have nowhere else to put them! The nice weather is making me want to "spring clean" and organize--well, until today, when I felt like garbage all day--so I'm moving things around.

Well, I'm going to try to go to bed now. And hopefully I'll wake up feeling better.

April 07, 2021

Where To Go From Here...

I used to do Wednesday Weigh-ins, back when I was focused on losing weight/maintaining weight. I haven't really focused on it for a long time and I've been debating with myself about where to go from here (as far as my weight is concerned, I mean).

I'm not happy with my body right now--I am just not comfortable at this size. I will be completely fine if I never get back down to my "goal weight" again, but I really would like to feel comfortable in my own skin. That would probably be at or under about 150 pounds.

However, I don't feel that burning determination to do what it takes to get my weight back down, either. This past year hasn't been good for my mentality regarding my weight--I guess I just felt like since I'm not going to be seeing anyone, it doesn't really matter what I look like anymore. I started wearing stretchy pants and baggy shirts for comfort. And since it feels like this pandemic is never going to end (Michigan's numbers are terrible right now as far as COVID cases) I just can't get motivated to put in a lot of effort to losing the extra weight.

(I think this meme is hilarious!)

I'm not trying to whine about my weight or ask for advice. I'm just writing my thoughts as they come to me. The last few days, I've really been thinking about how I need to take action. I need to either just stop worrying about my weight or do something about it. I feel like I'm at a brand new place in my weight loss journey and I have no sense of direction.

I've been half-heartedly doing intermittent fasting, but not so much for weight loss as for convenience. It's nice not to have to think about, plan, or shop for breakfast and lunch. I eat a good meal for dinner, but then I wind up snacking a lot throughout the evening (I've been eating a ton of pretzels lately). I still haven't binged, though. It's been a very long time since I did that.

I've been doing great with drinking water--I drink a gallon a day, every day. I told myself that I cannot turn on my ice maker (I'm an ice chewer and it's addicting!) until I've had 3 quarts of water. The ice maker can start making ice while I'm drinking my fourth quart. And then I can chew ice only after I've had all of my water for the day. 

Regardless of my weight or my diet, I really want to start exercising again. I actually miss it! My knee is still making crunchy noises when I squat, but it doesn't hurt. I think I'm going to try getting back to doing the Couch to 5K plan and see if I can do it without pain. I want to do it before I lose the desire to, haha.

Since I'm not in a huge hurry to lose the weight, I think I'm going to work on making small changes and build on them gradually. Since nighttime snacking has been my biggest problem lately, I'll try cutting off snacks at 9 pm. After a couple of weeks, I can try 8:30. A couple more weeks, 8:00... etc. If I don't see any changes in my weight from doing that, then I'll have to reassess.

I really think that if I cut out the nighttime snacking, though, my weight will start dropping. I stay very busy during the day so it's easy to stay away from the kitchen; nighttime is when I relax with my book or Best Fiends and/or TV, and it's become a habit to snack.

I only just now decided this... (like I said, I am just writing out my thoughts as they come) but I am going to set a goal to stop eating by 9:00 all week and then I'll report back next Wednesday. Focusing on one small thing will make me feel like I'm at least taking action, but it won't be overwhelming.

The weather has been so nice here the past few days! My mood feels good--now I just want my body to feel good, too ;)

April 06, 2021

Transformation Tuesday #21

Yikes--I'm late getting this posted. I'm just trying to get it up before midnight! It was gorgeous here today--it actually hit 80 degrees--and the day just flew by.

Thank you so much to those of you that sent in transformation photos for Transformation Tuesday! Please keep them coming so I can keep posting this series. It's inspiring to see all the transformations :)

My husband updated our fireplace a few years ago. The new tile looks so much better than the red brick! Funny, he now manages a custom fireplace and gas store!

This was 15 years ago but we updated our 1950s kitchen. My husband took it down to the studs, rewired the electrical, and we upgraded to maple cabinets (Home Depot), hand scraped hardwood flooring, and granite countertops. 


Here is my senior puggle, Bodhi, during our introduction at the Arizona Humane Society in 10/2019 when he was eight years old, and a few recent pics of him as a loved, happy nine-year-old adorable puppy. He LOVES balls!

- Dana, Phoenix, happy dog-mom

Well, I'm at it again - this time sprucing up our den. The gas logs didn't work so we rarely used that room (it gets cold in winter!). We had new ones installed and now we'd like it to be a more functional room instead of a dumping ground for stuff we don't know what to do with!

I wanted it to feel mid-century (since it has VCT flooring and knotty pine walls), but in a more whimsical way. To that end I wanted to add some fun art. I saw these inspiration paintings in the movie "The Incredibles 2" and loved them.

I took a photo of the paused picture on the TV, printed it out, and then sort of free handed a similar design. I used plates and that sort of thing to make circles and arcs. I liked the colors but added a bit of orange to better match the things in our room. I used some cheap canvases and acrylic craft paints from a craft store.

I'm not sure if this qualifies as a true "before and after", but it's a step on the way to giving that room an economical refresh.

- Deb

I purchased a townhome and loved everything about it but the fireplace in the corner. It had this awful homemade tv mount above it and it stuck out like a sore thumb.

It took me forever to take down the tv mount--it had over 20 anchors holding it to the wall. After removing, patching and repainting the wall I tackled the fireplace. I used chalk paint with a wax over it and love how it turned out! It now fits it with my living room and makes sense.  

- Anne

Susan, I love the tiles on the fireplace! And what a huge difference in your kitchen--I really like the flooring you chose. And don't you love having a bigger sink? I went from two basins to one and it's deeper than the last sink. I love it!

Dana, Bodhi is adorable--and I am so happy that you adopted him! I love hearing about senior pets finding forever homes (and certainly to be as spoiled as Bodhi seems to be!).

Deb, I am SO impressed with your creativity! I never would have thought to pause the movie to take a photo and then later try to recreate it. You did an amazing job!

Anne, I literally gasped out loud when I saw the picture of the TV mount--and all the holes in the wall! The new color on the fireplace looks great. Love it!

Thank you again for sharing. And please, if any of you have a transformation (big or small) to share, just send me a before photo and an after photo via email to: katie (at) runsforcookies (dot) com. Include a description of the transformation, your name/location/hobby and I'll be happy to share it on a future Transformation Tuesday post :)

April 05, 2021

2 Kinds of People: Part 1

Yesterday, I saw a meme on Facebook and it pushed all sorts of buttons with me--I don't have a lot of pet peeves, but one of them is absolutely this when it comes to texting:

I can't stand the "type b" person's texting style. I drives me crazy when I am texting someone who sends several in a row instead of one long one. I'm a super slow texter (I use one finger on my small iPhone 6 and I can't help but correct spelling/grammar when I make a mistake) so when someone texts me, I'll start a reply, and then I get hit with another text. I delete what I've written and start a new response, and then boom. Another text. Repeat over and over.

I have a couple of friends that text this way, and when Jerry hears a string of text notifications, he'll say, "Hey, so-and-so is texting you!" Hahaha. Jerry texts this way sometimes, but he knows how crazy it makes me, so he tries not to.

This made me think of a compatibility quiz book that I bought a long time ago for Jerry and me. It was super fun going through it, but it's been so long I wanted to go through it again. And since I wasn't sure what to write about today, I thought it would be fun to post the first 10 sets of illustrations with Jerry's and my answers. (I'll post 10 at a time on days when I just don't have anything to write about)

We called this the "incompatibility quiz" because we have absolutely nothing in common! Hahaha, we somehow make our relationship work, though :)

Here are some diagrams with Jerry's and my responses right after each set.

Bed: Made or unmade?
Katie: "I can't go to sleep if the bed isn't made first."
Jerry: "You can't go to bed if there is a single wrinkle in the fitted sheet!"
Katie: "True."
Jerry: "I prefer to have a made bed, but I don't like to make it."
Katie: "Lucky for you, I make the bed the second you get up! I would make it while you're still lying in it if I could."

Computer: With headphones or without?
Jerry: "Wired or bluetooth?"
Katie: "That's not the question! You're making it complicated."
Jerry: "I prefer no headphones, but if I'm watching a video, I prefer headphones."
Katie: "Why would anyone wear headphones if they're not watching a video?"
Jerry: "Oh yeah. I prefer headphones. Bluetooth, though."
Katie: "I don't like headphones. I don't know if I've ever even used the headphones jack on my computer!"

Pie: Fork or spoon?
Jerry: "Fork. Why would you eat it with a spoon?! Whoa, I felt instant anger right there. Why would anyone eat pie with a spoon? What one are you?"
Katie: "What do you think?"
Jerry: "It doesn't matter, it's pie?"
Katie: "Touché."

Alarms: Just one or several?
Jerry: "Mine looks like the one on the right, but I would prefer for it to be the one on the left."
Katie: "I have only one alarm for 6:00, and I'm always awake before then anyways. I wish I could sleep like you."

Wrapping gifts: Neat or messy?
Jerry: "Well, I don't work at the mall. I guess the one on the right. It doesn't really matter when you just look at the front face, though, you don't see all the little connectors and folds and creases at the top. The presentation, it's all about the presentation."
Katie: "Are you drunk?! What are you even describing? I'm definitely a messy wrapper. I try to wrap neatly, but I always have either way too much or too little paper."

Hoodies: Zipper or no zipper?
Jerry: "No zipper! AND--no drawstrings. I've never seen anybody use those."
Katie: "I use drawstrings sometimes."
Jerry: "Well, you're the only one. Nobody else uses them. Zipper or no zipper?"
Katie: "No zipper! I can't wear hoodies with zippers. They're too uncomfortable."

Pickles or no pickles?
Jerry: "Um... pickles."
Katie: "If you have to think about it, then you're not a pickle person. Do you even eat the pickles that come on your plate?"
Jerry: "No, but if they are on my burger, I won't pick them off."
Katie: "But you call yourself a pickle person?"
Jerry: "Yup."
Katie: "I'm a serious pickle person. I ask for extra pickles! And a fried pickle appetizer if they have it."

Feed the meter or chance a ticket?
Jerry: "I prefer to feed the meter. Wait, who would prefer the ticket?! How hard is it? You pay either $4 or $40--it's not even a question."
Katie: "I can count on one hand the number of times I've parked in a spot with a meter. I've always just put whatever change I have into it. BUT, remember when I got a parking ticket?"  (Here is the story about that)

Signature: Neat or messy?
Katie: "I can just answer this for you! Super messy."
Jerry: "Yeah, super messy."
Katie: "Mine's messy, too. Not as bad as yours, though. You can't really tell what mine says unless you know my name ahead of time--then you might be able to see it."

Abbreviated texts: Yes or no?
Jerry: "No. It looks like you're just writing out a bunch of license plates."
Katie: "Definitely no. It would take me longer to figure out the abbreviations than it would to just automatically type the words."

Isn't it fun to think about? Jerry and I laughed a lot while we went through these. (I only posted a short snippet of the conversations.) Feel free to chime in on any that may "push your buttons" like the texting does for me.

Here is a link to the 2 Kinds of People book on Amazon (affiliate link).

April 04, 2021

Affirmators! Week 7: Love

Affirmators! are cards with positive affirmations written on them. My friend John sent me a deck of them and I've been drawing one from the deck each Sunday. I hang it on my bathroom mirror to keep it in the front of my mind and try to work on that topic through the week. That's what this Affirmators! post series is about.

Last week, the card I drew was "Joy". I wrote about why this is a little unrealistic (basically trying to force joyfulness when you just don't feel it) but I've been pretty happy lately and it hasn't felt like I'm struggling to pull joy out of nowhere. Maybe some other time that card would feel more relevant. I didn't think much about it this week because I didn't really feel the need to, if that makes sense.

So, on to today's card...


Love is a many-splendored thing. Today I will notice and appreciate at least three of those splendors. Like the fact that puppies make me feel like a parent. Or the surge of self-congratulation I feel when I sink a three-point trash-basket shot on the first try. Or how 'bout the chills I get when singing along to (name of song--you know the one).

When I read "love" I assumed it would have something to do with love between people--families, partners, friends, etc. But I guess this is an all-encompassing type of love.

First, I wanted to think of a good song to fill in the blank with. Immediately, the first song to pop into my head was 'Beautiful Day' by U2. Try to listen to it and NOT feel 10% happier. I love to sing along to this song in the car, with the windows down, on a--well--beautiful day. I actually remember one day when I was going to an appointment with my psychiatrist, the song 'Crazy Bitch' by Buckcherry came on. I thought that was ironic and fun. When it was followed by 'Beautiful Day', it just felt too perfect. Haha!

Anyway, three splendors that I noticed and appreciated today...

1) The cozy comfort that my new summer throw blanket gives me. I am in LOVE with this blanket! When Luke was born, Becky had some very lightweight gauzy blankets for him that were super soft. I had never felt a blanket like that before. They were as light as air and very comforting. Whenever I've seen them (Luke and Riley still use them all the time) I've thought, "I wish they made these for adults!"

Little did I know, they do. I never thought to look it up! But I wanted a very lightweight blanket for summer and after some searching through other blankets online, I was surprised to see several blankets like Luke's and Riley's. After sifting through all of those, I settled on this one. It's the same fabric, only there are four layers of it. It's still super lightweight and airy. It's truly the perfect summer throw. (This is technically a twin size, but I read that they run small and a throw wasn't an option. The twin size is perfect for a throw.) It looks thicker in the photo because it's folded.

In the mornings, I like to sit in the corner of the couch, light therapy lamp next to me, with my summer throw and my decaf coffee and read my book. I've been getting up super early lately and this time in the morning is my favorite part of the day.  (Here is a link to the blanket on Amazon - affiliate link)

2) The feeling of being an aunt. I saw Luke and Riley today and there was a moment with Luke that just made me feel so happy to be an aunt. We sat down side-by-side to watch the ants in the ant farm. He kept asking me questions about everything--why are they doing this? What is that one doing? Where did they get all that sand? How did it make a big pile like that? And for the love of God, why did you buy me ants that sting?! (We agreed to keep the ant farm at my house because he's afraid that they will get loose at his house and sting him.)

I answered the questions with all the patience in the world, because he's learning and I am so lucky that I get to teach him something--even if it's as silly as an ant farm. Knowing that Luke and Riley look to me to answer questions they have makes me feel good. I wish I had this kind of patience when my kids were their age. I don't think many of us realize how special those moments are until it's too late. Being able to really embrace it now as an aunt feels redeeming somehow.

3) The excitement of giving someone a gift. Giving gifts is one of my very favorite things in life. Since Luke had decided to keep the ants at my house, I wanted to give him something else for his birthday. I bought him a lava lamp--which may be an odd choice for most people, but there was meaning behind it and I was excited to give it to him. It felt like a gift that would have special meaning to us. 

Luke has bad dreams sometimes and I always want to make him feel comfortable when he stays the night over here. He loves it when I turn on my lava lamp (my sister gave it to me for Christmas when I was a young teen!) next to the bed. I lie down next to him, and after he asks me lots of questions about how it works, he likes to watch the lava move around while he falls asleep--it's a nice, calming night light.

'Love' feels like an odd word-choice for this Affirmators! card, but I'm not sure what else it would be called. Regardless, I am going to try and think of at least one thing each day that gives me "the feels". It's nice to recognize them :)

April 03, 2021

HERITAGE RECIPE: Nut & Raisin Sandwiches on Graham Bread

I'm excited to finally be able to make this! I have seen several recipes in the heritage cookbooks that call for "graham flour". And some recipes say to "serve with graham bread". I didn't know what that was, so I did some research.

Graham flour is just whole wheat flour, but very coarsely ground. It's about as rustic a flour as you can buy. It was developed by Sylvester Graham in the early 1830's (and yes, it is commonly used to make graham crackers--although, the early graham crackers were not at all sweet like they are today).

His story is fascinating--you can find the details here. (He developed a diet that included bland starches, like graham flour, in order to stave off lustful behavior. So, I guess this bread is not what you would call an aphrodisiac! I'm tempted to rename this bread "Abstinence Bread", haha.)

I had a VERY hard time finding graham flour--even to buy it online! There were some sites that listed it for sale, but I wasn't about to pay $25 for a pound of flour. I almost bought the wrong item--I saw several listings for "gram flour", which is NOT the same thing. Gram flour is made with chick peas.

Eventually, I somehow came across a site called Purcell Mountain Farms that was selling graham flour for $4.35 per pound (and free shipping!). A pound of flour isn't much (maybe three cups or so) but I only wanted it in order to try out a recipe for graham bread.

You can certainly substitute whole wheat flour to make this bread, but after tasting it, I just don't think it would be the same. The texture really makes a difference here.

Since I was going to be making the graham bread, I also decided to choose a recipe for a spread that is meant to be served on graham bread and post the two together.

This bread is delicious! I was very surprised at just how good it was, because it's not anything special (other than using the graham flour that was difficult to obtain). When it comes to bread, I definitely prefer the white varieties. But the whole point of this heritage recipe series is to try new things, especially recipes that are off the beaten path.

I also mentioned last week that I don't like raisins, but discovered they were delicious in the Spread Cookies. This recipe for the nut and raisin sandwich spread uses raisins (obviously), so I dove in. And again, I really enjoyed them! I may be a convert to the raisin side now. (The graham bread recipe lists raisins as an optional add-in, but I did not add them to the bread itself.)

As always with the heritage recipes, I made it exactly as-written in the recipe. I will share my notes after the recipe.

This recipe for Graham Bread was submitted to the Rockwood, Michigan Area Historical Society for inclusion in their cookbook by Lenora Spitler. She said it was her grandmother's recipe and over 175 years old. The recipe for the Nut & Raisin Sandwiches came from the St. Charles 1910 Cook Book and was included in the Historical Society cookbook as well. 

Here is a printer-friendly version!

Graham Bread

1 T. rounded lard
2 c. buttermilk
2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. flour
2 c. graham flour
1 c. raisins (optional)

Mix all of the above and place in a greased pan. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes to 1 hour.


Simple enough! I wrote about the graham flour in the intro. If you can't find it, you can substitute with whole wheat, but like I said, I do think that the texture of the graham flour is important for this recipe. For the other flour, I just used unbleached white flour. 

The "soda" refers to baking soda. I used shortening for the lard. As for the baking time, I pulled mine out after 45 minutes because it looked done to me. And it was perfect!

Nut & Raisin Sandwiches

1-1/2 c. raisins
1/2 c. nuts
1/2 lemon
buttered bread

Pass nuts and raisins through a chopper. Blend smooth with juice of 1/2 lemon. Spread between slices of well-buttered graham or white bread.


Again, this is a simple recipe. I chose to use walnuts (we have a billion of them for the squirrels). I put the nuts, raisins, and lemon in a food processor and pureed until it was like a very thick paste. It reminded me a lot of a Larabar--only with raisins instead of dates.

While I was preparing this, the squirrels kept coming up to the back door, hoping for walnuts. I thought the paste would make a nice little treat for the squirrels, so I grabbed a grape-sized amount and rolled it into a ball. Then I rolled the ball in the "flour" at the bottom of the walnut container (the "flour" is just referring to the very fine walnut crumbs that settle on the bottom).

One of the squirrels took off with it before I could take a picture of her. I'm going to make some more with the leftover filling.

Overall, I absolutely loved the bread and was pleasantly surprised by the nut and raisin spread. I would definitely make them again. I think the graham bread would make a really delicious toast to have for breakfast!

Featured Posts

Blog Archive