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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Happy New Year with Family

We are starting the new year with some more wonderful snow falling today, the winds are going to pick up later with gusts in the 40 to 50 mph range. Right now it's coming gently straight down and looks very peaceful. We have some Sub-Zero temperatures coming up in the next few days as well. Winter is here.


We are not going anywhere; remaining snug and cozy and warm in the house. So I thought I'd take the time to write about our New Year's weekend with our Family Christmas Celebration. It sure was busy --- go go go. Now I'm finally catching up and enjoying all of the memories dancing through my head. 

It started on Friday night (New Years Eve) with babysitting some of the grandkids while our grown daughters and spouses went to a wedding in Green Bay. It was a wedding on the other side of the family and it was nice to be able to take the grandkids so the adults could enjoy themselves. The kids enjoyed making their own pizzas for supper and afterwards I took the two littlest girls over to the sewing machine. They were each going to sew a pillow and stuff it. What a perfect thing to have for a sleepover, a pillow made by themselves. They are only 5 and 6 years old and unable to reach the foot control and feed the fabric through the machine at the same time. I carefully do the actual sewing while they help feed the fabric and pull out the pins as each one gets close to the needle. They carefully watch all of the stitching on each of their pillows so they really feel like they had a part in making it.  They get to snip with the ends of the threads with my tiny scissors that is shaped liked a bird.




Once the pillows were sewn around on all three sides it was time to get out the stuffing to stuff them full. Grandpa had a little fun when he grabbed a hunk of the stuffing and started up some Ho Ho Ho mischief of his own.



Both girls were sure surprised and hopped on his lap and told him what they want for Christmas next year! And also pointed out what a silly Grandpa he was....



Bit by bit they each stuffed their pillows. It's much better to stuff them with little clumps than throw in one big hunk at a time.  They used up that entire bag of stuffing! 



We carefully pinned them closed and top-stitched shut the open end. Here are the girls posing with their finished pillows. What a bunch of silly little things --- all full of giggles and laughter and joyous bursts of exuberance.



Jameson hung out and watched a movie with Grandpa while we gals were doing the sewing. Jameson is 13 and really isn't into sewing pillows. But he was enjoying the one-on-one time with Grandpa while I kept the girls out of his hair. Later he got all cozy and set up on the living room couch to sleep with little Binney. She likes all the attention she gets from him when it's calm and quiet. 



As New Year's Eve wore on, surprisingly, Jameson was the first one to fall asleep! Those two giggly girls fell asleep at 9 but woke back up again. They were still giggling and wiggling around in the grandkid's new playroom at 11 p.m.! I finally had to put my foot down and tell them that was enough that they needed to go back asleep. None of us really made it till midnight. Such partiers, hey? 

The next morning, the girls were so eager and ready to help do things for our upcoming Christmas celebration later on that day. We put away all the sleepover stuff and made the beds. The house was in ship shape.

Now for pumpkin pies!!!  They helped with the pie crust and crimped and pinched the edges around the pans and they helped measure out all the ingredients into the mixer for making pumpkin pie. They sure like measuring and counting and scooping in the right amounts. 



In 45 minutes the house smelled great
 with the aroma of
 freshly baked pumpkin pies.



 The girls were pretty proud of their accomplishment,
and ask me to take their pic with the pies! 



Later on in the morning two more grandchildren joined us.  The plan was for each one to help make a different dish for our meal that evening. That way I could spread myself out throughout the day and give each one some special one-on-one time (and not wear me out in the process).

Here is Chelsea who is making her Great Grandma Muriel's fruit salad recipe. After draining the juice from two cans of pineapple and two cans of mandarin oranges into a pan, we stir in two small boxes or one large box of Jell-O "Cook" type vanilla pudding, not instant. No milk. The pudding mix and the juice thickens into a really wonderful sweet sauce.



Then Chelsea carefully poured the sauce over the pineapple chunks, mandarin orange pieces, sliced bananas, and maraschino cherries. We set it in the refrigerator to chill for a couple hours and thicken. Her dish contribution to the meal was now done. 



Early in the afternoon, it was Jameson's turn to help out. We had purchased two large spiral hams and he needed to get them out of the packages and set into the big Nesco roaster.  Using a big kitchen scissors is the easiest way to get them out of the thick plastic wrapping.



Once he had them all into place and the packaging discarded, then he poured our secret ingredient over them. Sprite soda. Yes, Sprite soda. That was a secret I learned a couple years ago from our oldest daughter Erin. Then he patted dark brown sugar all over the tops of the hams. Every 15 to 20 minutes he would come back with the turkey baster and suck up the juice on the bottom and redistribute it over the top of the hams. Because they are spiral sliced, the flavoring soaked right into the meat. He also learned how to use a meat thermometer to tell when they were close to getting done, so we could turn the roaster down to warm.



Now it was Clayton's turn to work on a dish. He likes the green bean casserole. We used the long skinny frozen frozen green beans from Aldi and cans of cream of celery soup, which are lighter in flavor than the heavier cream of mushroom soup. He added the layers of the French's onions and some spices over the top.



Now it's ready for a layer of tinfoil and then it will go in the oven along with the pan of stuffing that his mom was bringing over in a little bit. It was his first time ripping off tin foil from a roll, and he did great! 



Steve then peeled up a whole big bag of potatoes and cooked them up and made a pan full of mashed potatoes. The day before I did a crock pot full of my Calico beans. This way everybody brought something or helped to make something to go with the meal.

Each child got some one-on-one time with Grandma in the kitchen. The parents came at about 4 p.m. to enjoy our Christmas family celebration.



The kids helped set the table and light the candles. Everything looked festive and pretty in the dining room, perfect for our gathering. 



Desserts were laid out on the buffet 
as well as some trays of cookies
 and we had Tom and Jerry drinks.



The kids all ate at the kitchen table, (a.k.a the kids table), while the grown-ups filled their plates and had a relaxing adult evening meal in the dining room. 



Afterwards everybody helped clean up and we had a wonderful evening of family celebration, opening presents, and playing cards. A few of the kids fell asleep and spent the night. That's par for the course. So they had a chance to sleep over opposite the other ones were there the night before. Claire was lucky, she got to sleep over both nights!

One of the special gifts we had given the children was that each child got a card. Inside the card was a printed message:

Our Christmas Present

 to the WHOLE Family

this year will be our…. 


EPIC
BOWLING

 PARTY!


Yes, tomorrow, Sunday, January 2nd,

 We will all gather at 1 p.m. 


THE GOOD PLACE 

BOWLING ALLEY


For an afternoon of all the bowling you want to do, 

play games, ping pong, bean bag toss


We will have

PIZZA, APPETIZERS, & PITCHERS OF SODA

 Beverages of Choice for the parents. 


Bring you best attitude

to have fun for the day 

with Grandma and Grandpa Pfun !!!


Lasts until 5 or 6 p.m. or when we all get tired.

Afterwards we can all go to watch the Packer Game at our house.



Boy oh boy, were those kids ever excited! What a way to wind up the busy Holiday Vacation, by spending the final day of Christmas vacation together with Grandma and Grandpa. At 1 p.m. on Sunday we all gathered at the bowling alley.



We ordered up pizzas and pitchers of lemonade, the adults had a few other beverages and the kids had appetizers, while we were waiting for the pizzas to cook. We started bowling and sure had a lot of fun.



Littlest Claire, the bowling diva in her little bowling headband sewn by her sister Chelsea on her own sewing machine, decided to roll up her sleeves and her leggings to add a new stylish flare to her bowling costume.



We were given lanes 1 and 2 down on the end and our own area with some tables that we could put our pizzas on and the kids could eat in between bowling frames.



I haven't bowled in about 20 years, but it sure was fun. We didn't get high scores but we sure got a lot of laughs. I think we bowled four sets of games throughout the afternoon. Here is a compilation video clip of all of the fun we were having. It even includes me getting a strike!



Here's a picture of our little group at the bowling alley. I think this is the first annual family epic bowling day, I think we will repeat doing this every year. It sure was a lot of fun.


I think everyone had a good time. We were pretty tired by the time we were done and headed on home.  From there we watched the Packer game, which they won, and we flopped into bed, totally worn out.


Friday, December 31, 2021

Out With 2021--- In With 2022

Well, here it is. The last day of 2021.

I suppose I could sit here and reflect back on the past year. I should give some insightful comments regarding what to do in the new year. 

Basically this past year was pretty rough on me emotionally. Losing my mom in such a horrible car accident was one of the hardest things that I think I had to face during the year. Add to that the beginning of the year with losing our sweet little dog Finnegan to cancer, both have made things rather depressing. Of course with all of the pressures with covid piled on top of that. 

We tried to keep an upbeat attitude, and we've always been the "glass half-full" type of people. We've surged ahead with new projects and we've tried to keep ourselves active and out and about. We got in some camping and we got some things done on the house. I look back over the blog over the past year it seem like we really accomplished a lot. But honestly, sometimes I felt like I was just treading water in one spot trying to keep my head above above the edge and not sink. Not give up. 

So as we sit here this morning, sipping a bit more coffee and looking out the windows, we have to look ahead to 2022. It's all we have. So we better look ahead. Looking back can hurt too much.


On the brighter side, we did get some more snow again this week. It was so beautiful coming down and it has covered everything with a glimmering white coat again. Things don't look as dull or bleak when there's fresh snow on the ground.



Starting each day looking out our new bedroom window has been a treat. The first thing Steve does when he gets out of bed is to open up the slatted venetian blind and look out to see what kind of day it is going to be.


I suppose that each day you wake up 
and you're not six feet under,
 it is a pretty good day?

We have been being careful though as far as covid, which has reared its ugly head to such proportional levels. We do get out and about but do some curbside pickups plus we are fully masked and gloved when we go into a store. We've been trying to arrange our shopping trips all at once early enough in the morning get everything and get back home. It's the best we can do until we get past this next phase of the covid omicron mess.



Since it was Christmas vacation for the school kids, we chose a day to bring over a couple of them to hang out for the day. I had wanted to try making the little pecan Snowball Cookies. So the kids came and helped. The girls baked the cookies while Clayton helped fill the birdfeeders and accompany Grandpa haul things to the recycling center.


Here is the recipe, we made a double batch which gave us approximately four dozen larger cookies.  Next time we might make them smaller. 





This was Chelsea's idea of using a spaghetti noodle scooper ladle with the slits in it for lifting them up after rolling them in the powdered sugar.  It worked great! 



Here are the Little Baker Girls, with their newest racks full of Christmas Snowball treats. Since we are getting together on New Year's Day with our children and grandchildren, this will help round out the tray of Christmas cookies (because we've managed to deplete quite a few of the sugar cut-out cookies that we made last week). These will fill in the gaps!



When we were done baking, Clayton jumped at the chance to man the vacuum cleaner. Any machine that goes or rolls or makes noise is a lot of fun in his nine-year-old head. So he very willingly runs around with the vacuum cleaner to suck up any mess that we left behind.



The kids had a treat after lunch. I let them each choose a candy cane off the Christmas tree to stir their mugs of hot cocoa. It's a nice reward for a morning of hard work for Clayton.



Chelsea, the chief Baker Girl, 
enjoyed her Snowman mug of cocoa



Littlest Baker Girl Claire discovered that a candy cane stick will bend and curve in hot cocoa! She eventually bent it up to the shape of a fish hook and let us "catch" her.



~~~~~~~~~

When we brought the kids back home we did a pleasant drive through the local Winter Wonderland display. It is set up by the city of Oconto and the Chamber of Commerce in our city campground in our small town called Holtwood Park. What a perfect place to set up a Christmas display, because of the electrical outlets scattered all throughout the park. Plenty of plug-ins for all of the lit-up displays. Plus the slow winding roads in multiple loops to drive around through the array of Christmas festive light shows.
(my camera wouldn't focus good on the LED lights)


The entrance into the park is lined with very tall pine trees. In the past years, they used to decorate them with the high aerial boom lift of the city trucks. The trees keep growing taller and taller and it's become quite an obstacle to decorate them every year. This year they opted to put in smaller artificial metal ring structure trees to line the entryway. That's a pretty good alternative compared to trying to get the large trees lit up, it's different, it's a change, but it's better than nothing.



This person from AerialPicPro took the time to do an aerial view of the entire winter wonderland display with a drone, set to some pretty uplifting music, and posted it. Here is the link:




We are looking forward tonight to our New Year's Eve with babysitting a bunch of the grandchildren while both of our daughters and their spouses attend a wedding from the other side of the family. A New Year's Eve wedding in such winter festive weather should be kind of special. 

We agreed to take the grandchildren here overnight. We wonder who can make it up till midnight? Perhaps the oldest one, Jameson, the teenager? Will he just sack out on the couch? Will it be the two giggly girl cousins Whitney and Claire? They are sleeping together in the new grankids playroom we completed last month. 

Then on New Year's Day the grandkids will all help get everything ready for our own family Christmas celebration together at our house later on New Years Day!! We try to not schedule it on Christmas Day or Christmas Eve so our children and their spouses could have their own celebrations at their own homes, and try to make the rounds of some of the extended family members. 

By delaying it further down the calendar for us, it gives us our extra special time together after all the flurry and rush rush rush is done. We are looking forward to spending a relaxing New Year's Day with a nice time visiting in our home, a big meal, lots of leftovers, and just enjoying being together with the kids and grandkids.

The next day, Sunday, is going to be a very "Special Epic Day" but I can't say anything yet. It's part of the Christmas present that we are giving to the kids and the grandkids. So I will do a special blog post about Sunday later. After the fact.

That's about it for our New Years. Wrapping up 2021 we are very appreciative and happy that we made it through covid. We came down with it in September although we were both vaccinated, we have our boosters now as of December. We also probably had it back in April of 2020 when it first started, but no testing was available then. We are both doing well now, and all we can ask for is to have our health. If you don't have that, what more what do you have? 

We had our little contest this morning 
with our blood pressure cuff. 
I beat Steve. 

 

Then we also had our little contest with our O2 meter 
and we are both the same. 
Can't ask for more than that

 


As we sit here and say goodbye to 2021, we are really hoping that things in 2022 turn around for the better. We need to look ahead.


Sip a little more coffee and enjoy the view.


Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Crabby Christmas - Coach Light - Quilt

 We had a Crabby Christmas!

Since we weren't going to be seeing the kids and the grandkids until New Year's, we knew we would be spending Christmas Eve alone. We splurged with a little errand to Festival Foods to buy their very freshly frozen snow crab legs. It's one of those special treats we only do a couple times a year.



We have an outside propane burner, that's actually part of a turkey deep fryer set up. We don't really deep fry any turkeys, but we do put on a steamer kettle to cook the crab legs. After 14 minutes of plunging them into the boiling water, they are done to perfection.



We made up some mashed potatoes and salads to go with it. Topped off with a glass of whiskey for Steve and wine for me.  Steve and I easily plowed our way through two and a half pounds of crab legs, and it was really a nice treat. 



Then we watched It's a Wonderful Life.... 

On Christmas morning there really weren't any presents to open for each other. Our present was our new tankless water heater system. That was enough for each other, it was quite a splurge, and we both REALLY appreciated it.

Steve got it all hooked up perfectly earlier in the week.  Then he finished up with the recirculating pump plumbing, which means we now have hot water at all of the faucets at all times. Kind of like an on demand system. No more wasting a quart and half of water at the shower, sink or tub in the master bath while waiting for the hot water to come through the pipes.  Plus it is now unlimited hot water, as long as we need it, instead of emptying the tank and waiting for it to reheat a new batch.

It's nice now that we have switched over to natural gas, as opposed to the 40gal electric tank water heater. We sold that on Facebook Marketplace to a young couple. Their water heater had just broken down and they said they really couldn't see spending a lot of money for a new one right before Christmas. We lowered the price in half and said Merry Christmas and sent them on their way.

~~~~~~~~

Christmas morning was relaxing and we had coffee, the music playing and a fire going in the gas fireplace. It was nice to not be rushing off anywhere, although we were missing family on such an important holiday. We know that we will be getting together with some of Steve's family and Pops Pfundtner on Tuesday. And of course our kids and grandkids on New Years, so it was time to just sit back and relax for the day together, alone at home.


We spent the rest of Christmas Day in the sunshine down in the She Shed. It was nice to relax by the tree in our chairs with some soft Christmas music playing on the sound system.



I was working on four corner block pieces for my newest quilt. Now I can finish assembling it a section at a time to put it all together. 



Here are the border pieces that are all ready to go on next. The borders are called "piano keyboard" that will go around the four sides, with a strip of white between it and the main body of the quilt.



This is my happy place. With the music and the sunlight and a lot of projects under my fingertips, the hours just fly by when I am here in the She Shed.  Steve sits in the chair, reading or watching tv, while I am busy with my fibery fun stuff. 



Sewing on my adorable antique Singer Featherweight machine. It is the one that I got in September with my sister, while at the State Fair Park in Escanaba Michigan. It is just delightful to sew on. I have a big computerized fancy machine, but this little antique one is just so much fun.


~~~~~~~~

A couple weeks ago, I had popped into the local Goodwill in Marinette to see if they had a certain lamp base that I am looking for. I didn't find the lamp, but I did find this heavy cast metal light fixture! It exactly matches the other fixtures we had found over the last two years over at Habitat for Humanity ReStore, just a couple blocks away. I have never seen light fixtures like this before, or since, in any store or shop or even online. So it's kind of unusual to run across one more a year after we found the last three. It was $2.99, and then it was the right colored tag for a half price special, so I paid a whole $1.50!



After a little sanding and little scrubbing, I was able to paint it up with two coats of exterior acrylic enamel paint . Now it could become a glorious new light fixture again, and match the rest of the coach lights that we have on our house and garage.



Here's a pic from last year when I painted the other three that went on each side of the garage doors and one by the service door. We also have the first one we found, wired up out on the front porch. Those coach lights were collected in 2019 and 2020.


I am such a "Matchy-Matchy" Girl.... 
 Steve calls it "Prettying Up The Place"

When the lamp was finally dry, Steve went out the side door of the She Shed that leads to the doggie potty yard. We only had a basic everyday little white coach lamp out there before.  He turned off the power and changed it over quickly. He didn't even need the ladder, he used a picnic bench instead. 



He wired it up and in no time it was doing it's job with a motion detector bulb inside. 

Any time we open the door to let out Binney, the light goes on. Also the light goes on anytime there might be some stray animal in our backyard. We have had bobcats, coyotes, opossums, and just recently a couple stray feral cats wandering on through. Binney has never tangled with any of them, and we hope she never has to. With the light flashing on when it detects movements, hopefully it will scare any "intruders" away.



~~~~~~~~

We had a nice visit today with Steve's dad, Paul, and his special friend Sandy. We shared a big pot of chili and a couple games of Cribbage, it was a really fun way to spend the day. (we women teamed up against the guys and won BOTH games!)  The snow started on the way home, and we are due for another 3-5 inches or so tonight.