Friday, November 28, 2008


"Thanksgiving is a time of

quiet reflection upon the past

and an annual reminder that

God has, again,

been ever so faithful.

The solid and simple things of life

are brought into clear focus."

- Charles R. Swindoll

(Partial shot of the Thanksgiving Dinner. Aren't the water bottles a festive touch?! I don't think Martha Stewart would think that it was 'A Good Thing!')

I have so much to be grateful for, and I thank the Lord every day for everything He has blessed me with. The most important blessing I'm thankful for is my family. I am so fortunate to have been raised in a very loving, thoughtful, and caring family. My family is small, but we are very close-knit. I guess that over the years, I just took it for granted that most families interacted and cared for each other the way my family did. But once I became a teacher's aide for emotionally-disturbed middle and high school teenagers 11 years ago, I saw first-hand how tragically untrue that really was. But anyhow...... (Jessica baked three pumpkin pies for the occasion! )

Jessica came over Wednesday night, and offered to help me bake the pumpkin pies. She has never made a pie before in her life, and doesn't have much experience in baking, but I showed her how to make the pie crust the way my mother taught me when I was young, and guided her as she mixed up the ingredients for the pumpkin filling. She was an excellent student, and her 3 pies turned out absolutely perfect! She was sooooooooooo proud of them on Thanksgiving Day, and she deserved to be...they were delicious! On Thursday morning, I made the traditional turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, and steamed broccoli. My sister helped me out by bringing a fruit salad, cauliflower salad, a wonderful cranberry relish that our grandma used to always make for the holidays, and dinner rolls. We had such a nice Thanksgiving day's so nice when our family gets together.
(I wanted a picture taken with my children...can you tell they're 'less than thrilled' when the camera comes out???!!!)

Of course, I usually like to get the camera out in the afternoon and take pictures, and my kids are always 'less than thrilled' when that happens. When I ask someone to take a shot of them with me, they reluctantly stand next to me with 'can we just get this over with' expressions on their faces (as you can see in the picture).

(My dad posed with 'his girls'...My sister Mary Beth, Myself, and My Daughter, Jessica)

I like how this picture turned out. That's my dad, my sister, myself, and my daughter. Dad is ninety-one and a half years old, and is still quite a character. I am truly lucky to have such a great family!

"An open home, an open heart,
here grows a bountiful harvest."
- Judy Hand

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Birthday I Won't Soon Forget

"Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me...."

(Our Backyard at 7:00 a.m. on Monday Morning)

I celebrated my birthday on Monday, but there wasn't much to celebrate. The day was more like a summary of 'Murphy's Law.' I woke up early in the morning (as usual) to take the boyz, Mugsy and Popeye, out for their morning potty. When I opened the front door, I was shocked to see snow...measurable snow! I must say, it was pretty. Everything was covered in a blanket of white, and large snowflakes were still lazily falling from the sky. The scene looked just like when you shake up a snowglobe. Everything was quiet and peaceful as the darkness began to turn into day.
My son Joe came over mid-morning to wish me a Happy Birthday, and to give me my gift. He had been bugging me for weeks as to what I'd like for my birthday, but I just couldn't think of anything in particular that I wanted. But he really came through, and gave me a generous gift card for Hobby Lobby, since he knows I love to shop there, and am probably one of their better customers! Last year he gave me a drill press for my dremmel, which was something I really wanted. I must say, both of my children are very, very thoughtful. They both always remember every one's birthdays, special occasions, etc. (I guess I must've done something right in raising them! lol)
As we were talking, all of a sudden there was a loud crack, and the lights flickered off. They then just started to come back on when another loud crack happened. This time, though, the power was off for good. That's when Mike came out of his office to see what was going on...and we could smell the odor of burning electrical looming from the inside of his office. After some careful 'sniffing,' we discovered his fax was fried. We figured with the slippery roads, someone must have hit a power pole or something. Everything was dead, including our telephones. Thank goodness for cell phones! But of course, I hadn't charged mine in quite a while and it only had 1 bar left. Anyhow, Joe finally decided to take off and go deer hunting, and Mike and I tackled the snow shoveling in front of our house. We've got a really wide driveway, so it's more of a two-person job. What else was there to do anyway??
Several hours later and still without power, we got company. My dad drove over to see if we had power. He lives in a little nearby town, in the same house I grew up in, and he was without power too. So dad spent most of the afternoon sitting at our house. At least the gas fireplace in our livingroom worked, so it was comfortable to sit in there. My daughter Jessica then stopped over to wish me a happy birthday and give me my presents. She's a great little gift-giver, and always knows exactly what I like. I got a really nice sweater and a scarf that I love, but the card she got for me meant the most. The verse was so meaningful for both of us, that we were both tearing up as I read it. Seriously, the bond between a mother and daughter is truly very special, and it seems to get stronger as the years go by.
As the afternoon wore on, Jessica decided to go back to her place (where there was electricity), and dad wanted to go home before it started getting dark out. So Mike and I sat in the livingroom with the little pugs chasing around the house as our entertainment.
By 5:00 p.m. darkness set in, and we were still without electricity. We did have 2 flashlights that actually worked, and I got a bunch of candles lit in the livingroom. I was starting to worry about the thanksgiving turkey and all the food in the refrigerator and freezer, though...
At 6:00 p.m. Mike decided to call the electric company again to see how much longer they thought it would take before the power was restored. Apparently there were several poles hit by cars, and it was a larger job than they had anticipated to fix. They thought it would be restored by 7:00 p.m. And you know what??? At 7:00, the power finally did come back on...sort of. It was really weird. Some of the light switches worked, while others on the same switchplate didn't. Thank goodness the freezer, refrigerator, stove, and microwave were all working again. The cable was still out, so the phones didn't work yet, but at least the furnace was back on, so we went to bed.
(Another view of our backyard on Monday)

So yesterday morning we started checking the computers, etc. to see if we lost anything else besides the fax machine. We were very, very lucky. Both of our computers were on a battery backup, so Mike shut them down as soon as the power went off, and they were fine. We've got really good surge protectors on our computers, televisions, etc., which saved our electronics. Mike went out and bought 3 new surge protectors yesterday, because 2 of them took smelled cooked. But they saved the televisions!! Our cable finally came back on yesterday morning, so we had phone service again, but we still had the strange issue with only partial current with our switches. Nothing was tripped on our breaker box in the basement. So we got a hold of an electrician to come and see what was wrong. Wow...and were all the electrician's in this area busy!!! Fortunately the one we called was already working at several other houses on our street, so they came over to assess the situation while they were at a house across the road. They checked the box in the basement to again see if anything was tripped, which nothing was. But we didn't realize we have another emergency circuit box in the basement too, and when they checked that box, they found several were tripped. Once they reset them, all our power again worked in the house. They checked all the outlets throughout all the house to make sure they, too, were working properly, and then they told us how lucky we were!!! The 2 neighbor homes that they were also working at were not so lucky!! The outlets in those houses were black and melted!!!!! The electrician said he has never seen anything like it! They were really busy at those homes!!!!!! He was actually going to keep one of the fried outlets because of how bad it looked.

So anyhow, that's how I spent my birthday. It was certainly quite memorable in an odd sort of way!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

"A Place To Bark" Art Auction on Ebay

(Popeye, licking his buddy, Mugsy's ear)

(Popeye...The one-eyed mischevious one!)

(Sweet'd never believe this guy was starved, hairless, and near death when Bernie rescued him, would you??)

I want to let everyone know that my good friend and fellow artist, Bernie Berlin, currently has several art items listed on eBay to benefit her wonderful cause, "A Place to Bark." Click on this link to view the items currently for sale:

Two of the items listed are hand-painted purses created by me.

A Place to Bark is a no kill foster and adoption rescue dedicated to the welfare of animals and was founded by Bernie Berlin. Established in 2001, they mainly work with Animal Control Agencies, rescuing animals from high kill shelters and fostering them until they are healthy. This provides an ideal situation for the animals. They are then placed for adoption through Humane Societies in various parts of the country. They cover all costs for the medical care of the animals with no cost to the Humane Societies. They also handle some private adoptions after a strict screening process.
I have the privilege of being the proud 'puggie' mom to two adorable pugs that Bernie rescued. I adopted Mugsy two years ago. When Bernie found this poor little guy, he was starved and stick-thin...hairless from horrible mange...full of open sores and serious infections...and left for dead in a pen at the pound along with several large pitbulls. When Bernie saw him, she didn't even realize at first that he even was a pug, due to his horrible condition. But as soon as she realized he was a pug, she immediatly took him home and, after extensive medical treatment, got him nursed back to health and gave me a call. She knew I was a pug momma already, and totally spoil my pugs rotten. So...along came little Mugsy. But since I've had him, he's not 'little' anymore. He's more like my happy, 'portly' Mugsy Magoo.
Then, about a year ago, I got another call from Bernie. She said, "Jillllllllllll...guess whattttttttttt....I've got another puggggggggggggggg." Well....I already had 2 pugs living here, so I was a little apprehensive about getting yet another one. And Mike was in the hospital at the time, recovering from his accident. I was excited about adopting another little puggie, but my fear was that Mike wouldn't be as gung-ho about having 3 spoiled pugs running around the house. (But what's another little pug, right????? They are soooooooooooo cute and lovable!!) So I agreed, and broke the news to Mike in the hospital. My exact words to him were, "Guess what, honey???.............the stork is flying over our house!!!" I think his jaw dropped to the floor!!! I had to quickly add....'The PUG stork!!!!'
Well.......Mike eventually warmed up to the news, and Bernie delivered little Popeye. Poor popeye was sooooooooooo starved and skinny, he almost looked freakish! When he came in the door, he ran around the house at about 50 mph. I just thought to myself, "what DID I get myself into????" And to top it off, he had somehow sufferered severe trauma to his left eye before Bernie rescued him, and it was in bad shape. To this day, we have no idea how his eye got so horribly damaged, but after doing absolutely everything possible for it that the vet had recommended, and watching it get even worse, I finally had to have the veterinarian remove the eye. He told me it was in such terrible shape, and there was so much pressure building up, that it could pop out with a bump to the head! Well, I must say, Popeye actually looks cute with only his one eye! It's not nearly as freakish-looking as I thought it would be. It's like he's always 'winking' at you!!! And he turned into the most loving, sweet, 'momma's boy' I could ever want (although Mugsy is a big 'momma's boy' too!!)
I can't imagine not having these two sweet, funny, quirky little wrinkle-balls around the house!!! I am sooooooooooo grateful to Bernie, for rescuing these poor little creatures from certain death, and bringing them to me.
Please help Bernie continue her cause. Visit her website listed above, or go to the right-hand side of my blog and scroll down to my "Kewl Places to Visit" and please click onto her name. It will take you to her blog, where she has pictures and stories of other dogs (and cats too) that she's in the process of rehabilitating, and who will also be in need of loving homes.
Thanks for everything, are truly an angel!!!!!!