Thursday, March 28, 2013

Going Out on a Limb...


     My first semester of college, I was 17 and very naïve. I made friends with girls who lived on my dorm floor, we ate together, we traded clothes, we went to school events…and sometime in those first few months I realized that several of these girls were gay and while I found it curious, they were my friends and it really didn’t affect me. My parents moved me to another dorm as they were afraid for me. I couldn’t convince my mother that even though I wasn’t experienced, I knew I wasn’t gay and living with gay girls couldn’t change that. My friends were not a threat to me, or to anyone else. That was in the dark ages of the 70’s.
     Fast forward many years and my family met several gay people. We had a few friends who had children older than mine that were realizing that they had a gay child. These were kids that we knew, that often were babysitters for my kids, children that our family loved. My feelings for these kids did not change one bit and their parents were accepting and loving as they had always been to their children. In the years since, we met other gay couples, both men and women, who were kind, loving, religious, wonderful people. Each and every one of the people I am telling you about is in a long-term committed relationship that has lasted years. Some of them are parents of beautiful children and they are all very successful in their lives. Simply put, they are just like everyone else.

     My children were raised to accept everyone. They watched the example we set in our home. They never once heard a gay slur or racial comment in our house. Are we perfect? No. Do I stereotype on occasion, sure I do. However, I try very hard not to judge others…particularly based on things that are simply who they are.

     I had no idea how these experiences would one day become very important in my own life. My daughter, who seriously considered becoming a minister, was the youngest elder ever to be ordained into our church, who played with dolls, had serious crushes on boys all through high school, was number one in her class in high school and the top of her class in college, loved rhinestones on her jeans and all things girly (okay-she did like to play detective/policeman as a child), came to us at the beginning of her sophomore year of college and told us she was gay. She had not had a serious relationship with anyone at the time, male or female, which is how I know for sure that this is something you are born with, it is not chosen. She came to us almost immediately as soon as she put it all together herself. She came to us, because she knew that it would be okay. That we would love her, accept her and welcome whoever she happened to fall in love with into our family.

     Did I have a “moment”? Of course I did. I didn’t see it coming and it really didn’t “fit” for me at first. I laugh now when I think that my first thought was that she didn’t “seem” gay. I now realize that there all sorts of gay people just like there are all sorts of straight people. I worried, and still do, that people judge my wonderful daughter without knowing her. I also live in a very conservative community and I knew immediately that she could never live here. She is one of the lucky ones. She never struggled, she never faced adversity from her peers or at work…she is blissfully happy, successful and has many friends who are married and straight, gay and in relationships and they all hang out together. She lives in a community that is supportive and welcoming as is her workplace.

     So why am I talking about this now? Unless you have been hiding under a rock, you must know that this week has been very important for the gay community. The Supreme Court is making some decisions that will affect the lives of 10% of the American population (that is the recorded estimate-it may be higher), including my daughter. If you actually know me, you would know that I would be fighting for this regardless of my daughter, but I feel more strongly than ever that all people are entitled to equality and civil rights.

     My daughter is engaged and getting married next year. Her partner of 3 years is a wonderful girl who we love like another daughter. Is it a little weird for us? Of course it is. When I asked my daughter how this wedding thing worked, she said she didn’t know…she had never been to a same-sex wedding either! So, we went on Amazon and bought a book. I still have a bit of trouble switching my brain from being fine with a Civil Union to accepting the term marriage. I have thought of marriage one way all my life, but that doesn't mean I’m not coming around…as are so many others. Do I love the person she has chosen to live her life with, I do. She could have brought home a young man that I hated or that treated her badly (or that wouldn’t get a job), so the fact that she brought home a caring, loving, ambitious, successful and pretty young woman makes life a bit interesting, but it certainly doesn’t change my love for my child or my joy at her happiness.

     It is important for my daughter and others like her to have the same rights as we all do. I am grateful for those that fought for women’s rights. I am grateful for those that fought for rights for African Americans and that certainly didn’t affect me, but I’m glad for them. I want my daughter’s children to be able to get Social Security if she or her partner should die. I want them to be able to file a joint tax return. I want them to get survivor benefits in their old age and not have to pay estate taxes if they inherit their spouse’s estate. We are obviously going to have same-sex marriage in this country, so marriage should be marriage and equal in every way.

     I am not trying to change anyone’s mind by this. I may lose followers because of my honesty. I don't often use my blog to speak on something political, but I think sometimes it is important to put a real face on an issue and it just felt like the right time to do so. Everyone is entitled to have their own opinion. It is your civil right. I struggle with those who use The Bible to judge others. There are many things in The Bible that are no longer true in today’s world. We can’t pick and choose how we follow The Book, picking the things we agree with and ignoring the things we don't. I do know that the gay people I know are very devout in their religious beliefs. Life is short. Judging others is a waste of time and not a Christian way to live. You just never know who you might be hurting with your words.

     We were a normal, conservative, family, living in the Midwest with church on Sunday, a dog, summer vacations and kids going to camp. If this is part of my family’s experience, it could easily be your child, your nephew, your grandchild, your neighbor and my only hope is that you consider if your child would feel as confident coming to you with the information as mine did and if what you would want for them, is simply for them to be happy in their lives.

     I am open to all opinions and discussion in the comments as long as they are not hateful to anyone.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bits of Easter

     I don't put out a lot of actual Easter decorations. It seems that most of what I put out these days are eggs. I have sparkly eggs, candy looking eggs, eggs that look get the picture. I do tuck a few rabbits around, tucked in with birds and nests. The bunny above is an antique candy container. My husband gave me mine when we were dating, you can easily find them on ebay.

This little Boyd's Bunny wears her carrot hat well, don't you think?



     Did you notice my book? Did you? Did you? I have wanted this book since it first came out several years ago. It was $60 and I just couldn't make myself do it. It still is close to $40 on Amazon, but I found it on for $9! It is in perfect condition and it is every bit as beautiful as I expected it to be. Do you remember when I told you all about Click here to read the post. I get some of the most beautiful books from this site and many times they are cheap, cheap, cheap! In fact, this was one of the most expensive I have purchased!

I am actually reading it from front to back...
it is my afternoon guilty pleasure!
I am joining Marty @ A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday
Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesdays


Monday, March 25, 2013

Say What?

     It was an interesting weekend in south central Illinois (and many other places). On Saturday, we decided to escape the house and go shopping because we knew what was coming on Sunday. It was in the 50's Saturday, sunny and gorgeous, I didn't need a coat! It was still in the high 40's when we went to bed Saturday night.
     When we got up Sunday morning, we had a little less than 2 inches of snow, but the warnings kept getting worse. They kept talking about the snow along an interstate corridor and I can see that interstate from my we knew we were in for something. What we didn't expect was Thunder Snow! The sky opened up around noon and the snow was coming down so fast, the visibility was next to nothing and we had large claps of thunder and big bolts of lightning. It was crazy. I seriously don't remember the last time we had this much snow. So, of course we had to go out and play in it.
     I decided I was going to make a snow Easter egg while my husband was scooping the snow off the driveway. It was a very heavy wet snow and our conversation went something like this...
"It's so pretty out here"
"I know"
"I'm going to make an egg...haven't made a snowman since the kids were little"
"Ok, I'll scoop"
"look at my little egg"
"my back hurts, I have to stay bent over to roll the egg bigger"
"mine hurts too, the snow is really heavy"
"I can't get up, I'm stuck down here"
"don't have a heart attack, you aren't that young anymore"
"neither are you"
"I'm freezing"
"I'm sweating"
"This was more fun when I was 10"
"Does it look like an Easter egg?"
"sort of"
     Somehow, in our minds we were still about 10-years-old and we were going to have fun in the snow! Well, it was fun, but it was hard work and the backs of my legs can really feel it today. It is so frustrating when the 50-something body can't do what it used to be able to do!
     It was still snowing when we got up this morning, but lightly. We got somewhere in the 8-10 inch range of snow, just north of us they got 18 inches. Everything is closed today for a huge portion of the state. This will be a Palm Sunday we talk about for many years.

Miss Zoe has never seen this much snow!

The pussy willows and shrubs were covered
with buds, I hope we don't lose them.

We are supposed to be back in the 50's by the end of the week,
so thankfully this won't last but it certainly gave us something to talk about!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Healthier Cheeseburger Chowder

     I am trying very hard to eat foods that taste as much like things I "used to cook" and yet have less fat and calories. I think most things can be changed a little bit and still have textures and flavors that taste good. People say that after eating mostly "clean" foods, they no longer want things that aren't healthy. Well, I'm not sure I agree with that. Chocolate still tastes great to me and I have some almost daily. After almost 3 months of healthy eating, greasy things don't sound very good to me anymore (but they never really did). I still would be blissfully happy putting heavy layers of butter and cheese on most everything. I lightened the cheese load in this soup quite a bit and I wasn't sure if we would like it this way, but it was actually quite good for a healthy option.

     I bought my first bottle of canola oil to make this recipe. I don't use a lot of oil other than olive oil, but I have noticed that many recipes now call for canola oil instead of vegetable oil.
8 oz. extra lean ground beef
2 tsp. canola oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 large potato peeled and chopped
pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. paprika
cayenne pepper (small amount-optional)
2 cans 99% fat free chicken broth
1/4 cup reduced-fat evaporated milk
1 T. flour (I used whole wheat)
3/4 cup shredded reduced fat (not fat free) cheddar cheese
     Brown the beef in a small stock pan. Drain, remove from pan and set aside. Add canola oil to same pan and sauté celery, carrots and potato until almost tender. Sprinkle with pepper, paprika and cayenne. Add chicken broth and simmer until veggies are nice and tender. Using a potato masher (or a fork) slightly mash the cooked veggies to thicken the broth a bit, but still leaving large chunks. Mix milk with the flour and stir it into the soup, stirring until blended. Add back in the beef and the cheese and stir until melted.
This recipe makes 4 servings @ 249 calories per serving.


I am joining Michael @ Rattlebridge Farm for Foodie Friday

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is it really Spring?

Photo taken crystals on the pussy willows.
Pussy Willow
Tiny little pussy willow
Softer than a baby's pillow
Sometimes when I stroke your fur
I almost hear you purr
Author Unknown


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Touch of Spring

     Spring has arrived at Chez Sue, even if the weather outside doesn't feel like spring at all as I'm typing this. You know for many years, I didn't change my "knick-knacks" for the seasons. I had certain things that set out in my house, on the tables, mantels or kitchen cabinets and other than when I put out Christmas decorations...they just stayed there. On occasion I would get something new and put something I had in a garage sale or donate it...but, my house had its decorations and they rarely changed.
     When my children were young, I would put out Valentine, Easter, Halloween decorations...along with my "normal" things. After they left, I only decorated for Christmas. Then came blogging. I was inspired by things I was seeing on other blogs. I was bored with seeing the same old, same old on a daily basis. I started putting away Christmas and leaving out winter. Winter would be put away and spring/Easter would show up...until some of that was switched around for summer. When the beachy things of summer were tucked away...the pumpkins came get the picture.
     Some of you may be thinking that you don't have the time, money or "stuff" to make these changes. It really isn't true. What you don't have, what I didn't have, was the energy or inspiration to do it. What I want to share with you today is that it requires very little time to make small changes in your home and the payoff is worth it. You don't have to have lots of new things. You can pick up a few things at GoodWill or the Dollar Store. If you don't want to spend any money at all...move things around. Grab a box or a tub and put some things away for a while. Move bedroom things into the living room and vice-versa. Swap the lamps around, stack some books and sit something on them. For spring, a simple DIY project is to take some of those plastic eggs we all have and Mod Podge some pretty tissue paper on them. Put them in a basket or a glass vase or jar (click here for easy instructions). You may remember that last year I put colored sugar and sprinkles in Dollar Tree jars for spring...easy and cute!
     I don't suggest these changes because you want to impress others or even write blog posts. I suggest this because it will make you feel better. Small changes in our environment can truly change our mood. When I put out spring things a few days ago, it was in the 20's, snowing and gray. When I looked outside, I got the blues. When I looked around my house, the brighter colors and changed table tops made me feel good. It was worth the time and effort. I am glad that I no longer let myself be stuck in the same old stuff rut. You should try it!

The small tables (above photo) and this birdhouse are new.
I fell in love with them.
You can read about where I got them further in the post.
A vintage bird that was found in my in-law's things.

I stuck a flowered egg that I had in
a small pot and "instant topiary"!
     We have a new shop in our small town. The husband of the woman who owns it is from England and they advertise it as an English Antique shop. All of their items come from their trips to England. The first time I went to Union Jack Antiques it was because my husband made me. I had no interest in adding any antiques to my home. We have way too many, most of which are stored and not being used. He loves antiques and wanted to see the English imports. Imagine my surprise (and pleasure) at finding that the store carries more than antiques! Jessica has a great eye for decorating and for purchasing wonderful items. It takes alot to impress me and I was very impressed! I was going to write about the store before Christmas, but I decided to wait until they had a place I could link to the post. Below are a few pictures I took before the holidays. Isn't that chest just perfect? It was still in the shop when I was there last weekend. Love it! They also carry delicious imported teas and food items. Click the link above to their Facebook can see more of their spring items.

I am joining Marty @ A Stroll Thru Life for The Scoop
(instead of Table Top Tuesday this week)
Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesdays

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Did You Know...

     When I was a kid, one of my favorite television programs was Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour. I loved to watch the singers and I guess that may be why I love American Idol (not so much these days) and The Voice. One thing I remember from Amateur Hour is the Geritol commercials. All I knew at the time was it was for "iron poor blood" which was something old people had.

     I had to have some blood work done last week and I learned a few things that I didn't know. Now maybe I am just not as smart as I think I am and you all know this stuff...but, one nice thing about having a blog is sharing information that might help or inform someone else.

     It seems that I am anemic. It probably isn't a big deal (praying) and can be taken care of with a few changes on my own. So, while it happened to me once a couple of years ago with good reason, the reason didn't seem obvious as to what is causing it now...until I started my own investigation.

    I don't eat a lot of red meat. It just isn't my preference. I cook a roast now and then, or have an occasional steak, but if I have a choice of fish, chicken or pork, I take it. Since the first of the year, I have been eating very healthy. I love fruits and veggies anyway and I have been eating tons of them as well as "normal" portions of chicken, fish etc. with dinner. The good news is that my migraine headaches are a rare thing since I started eating less and moving more. The bad news is that when I actually looked at my iron intake on the website that my daughter and I are using to keep track of what we are eating (, I found out that my iron intake is between 25-30 percent of the daily recommended doses. Am I the only person that assumed that all those veggies and greens were full of iron?

     It gets worse. I found out that coffee, tea and dairy products work against iron absorption. Who knew? I've been eating yogurt for breakfast as long as I can remember. I have my cup or 2 of coffee a day and I sip a cup of tea all day long. I love hot tea. As for taking vitamins, I had some here...I would grab one once or twice a week and have it with my tea or my yogurt. Duh. Everything I read said that an iron supplement needs to be taken a few hours after dairy, tea or coffee (green tea and decaf coffee still count). They also should be taken with added Vitamin C in some form to help the iron stick. I learned that many vegetarians have low iron levels, not that I'm a vegetarian. It was just a surprise to me. So, my day now has a multi-vitamin with iron taken in the late afternoon along with a vitamin C supplement. It also means that I now don't get to have coffee or tea in the afternoons and I am not happy about that, but I won't give it up in the mornings and I love my after dinner tea!

     Anyway, since bloggers tend to be tea and coffee drinkers, many are women, many are vegetarians or restrict the meat intake...I thought this might surprise some of you the way it did me. It appears I have done just about everything I could to give myself low iron levels...iron poor blood, what old people have! Maybe I should find some Geritol instead, it used to be 12% alcohol. That would have been more fun!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

New Laptop(s), Windows 8 and a Luke Update

     I mentioned in my last post that I was getting used to a new laptop...well, I had to get used to 2 new laptops! I noticed from some comments that I got, that I didn't make it clear that I have had several laptop computers. I actually have been a computer junkie for many years. I almost hate to admit that my first "home computer" was a Commodore Vic 20-circa 1980. You had to plug it into your television and it really couldn't do anything. I could balance my checkbook, but I couldn't print anything. We didn't have the internet (imagine that) or windows...I never really got the hang of it.
     I moved on to an apple computer that also used a television as a monitor. It was clunky and the screen was in black and white. I used it a little, but couldn't wait to try something new. In the years since, I have had HP, Dell, Compaq and Gateway desk top computers. Some I bought in stores and some I special ordered. I have had HP, Dell and Toshiba laptops. I usually kill a laptop every 2 years...but my Toshiba Satellite actually is still working and I'm past the 2 year mark. It is however, slowing down and the cord has been replaced and taped and ready to be replaced again. So, I decided it was time to get a new laptop. I spend much of my time these days on my iPad, but for blogging I still need a laptop.
     Getting a new computer is like buying a new car for me, I hate to buy the same thing or it doesn't feel new. So, last Friday, I purchased a new Gateway laptop. I have purchased most of my laptops at Walmart because it is so easy to return them if they don't work correctly. She was a beauty, red on the outside and a white keyboard. When I turned her on...there was Windows 8 (see the picture above). I spent all afternoon Friday learning how to use Windows 8, adding the things I wanted to the Gateway and removing other things. I noticed that the keyboard was a bit tricky, but I thought I just wasn't used to it. I also noticed that the computer froze a couple of times, but I didn't worry about it. On Saturday morning, when I realized that it was taking twice as long to load pages and I kept getting a notice saying I didn't have a WiFi connection (even though my old laptop was working fine) I realized that I hated the new Gateway. Saturday afternoon I did a reset to take it back to factory settings (it took hours) and at 9:00 pm, I returned it and bought another Toshiba Satellite. I have gone back to a 15" screen (my old one is 17"), it has an 8GB memory and a 750 GB hard drive, which is an upgrade from my old one. It also has Windows 8, which is a big change (more later), and best of all, it works beautifully. The keyboard is comfortable, the speed is great and I am very pleased so far. She isn't as pretty as the Gateway (this one is blue-gray) but I can live with isn't the color I care about anyway.
     Windows 8 is the first major change in Windows since about 1995. It is a big change. I like it but many don't. I think the fact that I have an iPhone and iPad is a big help. Windows 8 is app based and for those who don't know what an app is...there will be a big learning curve. I am not afraid to try things on computers, so I just got busy and tried to learn my way around it.  I also went on Youtube and watched a tutorial because I couldn't figure out how to close a page or turn off my computer. With Windows 8, your computer opens to a Start Screen instead of the desktop that we are all familiar with. You can customize your start screen with many different apps. I can read my Kindle, watch my Netflix or check out the weather, email or CNN from the opening page of my computer. I think it is fun and colorful, but I can see why those who aren't as familiar or comfortable with current technology will have a harder time learning how to use it.
     So, I have spent since Friday afternoon hours and hours of putting things on a laptop...removing them. Returning a laptop. Putting things on a laptop and getting it the way I want it. I think I am finally where I want to be and can start using it for normal things again. Thank goodness!
And now about Luke...
     Luke celebrating the 50 day, halfway mark to his 100 days living in St. Louis. He gets to come home after 100 days if all goes as planned. He has been doing well for the most part. You can see he is puffy from the steroids, but that will go away. The latest update from his mother this week is,
      "Last week Luke's anti-rejection medicine was switched to oral instead of IV. Luke was not a fan of the taste and it was causing his belly to be very upset and he wasn't eating. He couldn't keep down the dose I gave him Sunday night. Yesterday, he had a clinic appointment and they switched him back to the IV form. Luke is feeling better and seems a lot happier. He finally ate a lot of lunch yesterday. Thankfully, he will be finished with this medicine by the end of June. It breaks my heart watching him take all of these medicines. He has been doing this for the past two and a half years. I know he is tired of all of this. Please pray for God to give him extra strength to make it through the next few months. Please keep praying for the abnormal cells to disappear. He will have another bone marrow biopsy on day 100. 41 more days of praying for those cells to disappear. 41 more days until our family is together again :-) Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support! God bless all of you for caring so much about Luke and our family."
     I ask you for your continued prayers for this sweet boy and his family. His mom is exhausted, but doesn't complain. I don't know how she does it, but I guess you find strength when you have to.

Monday, March 11, 2013

The Wreath in my Blog Header-tutorial

     I have had several comments about the wreath in my blog header. I thought I would show you how it all came together. I don't really have a plan when I start one of these...I just know that I don't like things to be all "matchy, matchy" and so I put things on a wreath in a random way. For this fairly large wreath, I used 2 large hydrangea bushes (one blue, one green) that I took apart, separating the greenery from the blossom stems. I also used about a dozen white hydrangea blossoms. I used almost my entire bolt of blue burlap wired ribbon and about half of a larger bolt of green ribbon.

    I wanted to add a white birdhouse, but I didn't find one that was the right, I bought the one above and pulled out my Annie Sloan paint and gave it a coat of white first and then trimmed the flower opening in a robin's egg blue.
     My first step is always to place some background greens on the wreath (an old wreath that I stripped the flowers and old glue off of). You will notice that the right side is an ivy and the left side has I said, I don't like things to be symmetrical when it comes to ones or silk ones. After they are in place, I attach them with a glue gun.

     My next step was to add the white blossoms. I scattered them in singles and pairs around the wreath (and forgot to take a picture). The blue and green blossoms (some with leaves) were added next and then the glue gun was used to attach them. I didn't worry about spaces as I knew the ribbons would be filling in gaps.

     When using two colors of ribbon, I like to make my bow by using both colors, layered together as I make the loops. When the bow is complete, I simple pull the loops in opposite directions so that the colors mix together well and both colors show. You can see how to make a bow on one of my older posts-click here. Placing one large bow off to the side and letting the streamers go both up and down creates a more professional look. I always put a few "ruffles" in the streamers and touch the glue gun in a few random spots to hold them in place.
     Another "floral secret" is to cut a smaller piece of ribbon and pinch the middle to create a little insert. Touch the pinched point with the glue gun and insert one or more into the wreath.

     I actually had some sticks to add to come out the top, but I forgot to put them on the wreath. This hangs on a wall above our open stairway to the basement and I have to walk very carefully along a ledge with my husband behind me to catch me to hang it...I'm not taking it down and fixing it at this point! If you enlarge the picture, you can get a better idea of the random ribbon pieces that add that florist touch that you don't often think to do on a homemade wreath. Ribbon truly is the key to how a wreath turns out. You can make a beautiful wreath out of almost any greenery or flower, but don't skimp on your ribbon...use wired ribbon and lots of it!
I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for Met Monday
Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesday