Thursday, April 17, 2014

Making felt flowers for Mom's Easter bonnet

Copyright:  Barbie Crafts
Have you seen the wreaths using those little felt flowers you buy at the craft store? My daughter and I have been doing a lot of craft shopping in our new town, and we have been looking at them, but they are quite expensive. I have been wanting to attempt to make them myself out of inexpensive felt sheets, and the Easter Bonnet Parade at the nursing home where my mom is staying gave me the perfect opportunity. (Instructions at end of article.)

She happened to be there at Easter time for therapy a few years before, and I have made some pretty tacky Easter bonnets. This year, she said she did not want anything "real big."  I translated that as "real big and TACKY." (I always thought that big and tacky might net her the grand prize because it got their attention.) 

This actually turned out so cute that I thought I might bring it home to use as decor after the Easter parade. But, then it happened.  Things went from crafty chic to Quirky Tacky very quickly.  I was digging in my sewing basket for a glue stick when I found a little package of foam sticky bugs:  worms, ladybugs, etc...Yep, I could not resist sticking bugs in the flowers!

Copyright Barbie Crafts

Copyright Barbie Crafts
As it turns out, though, tacky or not, my sweet little mother won!The nurse called from the desk and had her tell me.  She was so excited, and she won a big bag of prizes. 
My cousin gave mom the bunny!

She was making an odd face in this photo, and my daughter the nurse called me to ask me why she had her oxygen on backwards and strapped around her head like a tight rubber band. She said that she would make a face if she had something hanging off the top of her nose and cutting into her cheeks.  I had discovered later that the nose cannons were behind her head under her hair!  LOL. (That's why I only made it 1 1/2 days as a Candy Striper nurse volunteer.)

Instructions for Felt Flowers
There is a little needle and thread involved, but mainly a little glue gun. All flowers are attached to the hat with a glue gun.

Blue loopy flowers

  • Cut a piece of felt into two or three strips.
  •  Fold in half lengthwise.
  • Cut slits in the side with the fold. See diagram.

  •  Roll in a circle.

  • Tightly wrap at the bottom with a needle and thread and sew to secure.

Pink Felt Rose

  • Cut a narrow strip of felt, the length of the sheet.
  • Use the same technique that you use to make ribbon roses. 

  • Sew through the bottom of the rose with a needle and thread to secure.

How to make the purple flowers

  • Cut out two circles from felt and trim to look like this.

  •  Pinch together in the center and secure with a needle and thread.
  • Glue one on top of the other and glue a purple pom pom in the center.

Making the yellow four-petal flowers

  • These were done solely with the little glue gun. 
  • Cut out four petals in the size you want. 
  • Glue them one by one, gathering and shaping them before the glue dries.
  • Apply a pom pom in the center.

Leaves are done in the same way by cutting leaf shapes, gluing with hot glue and shaping.

Hope this is easy-to-understand. 


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's always good to know you aren't as crazy as you think you are....

"River Monsters" is breaking records.

Well, maybe I am, but at least I am not the only one who watches "River Monsters" on Animal Planet.Did you know the season premiere for the sixth season broke Animal Planet records for season premieres?  And it was awesome in the 18-49 demographic.

 I actually missed the season premiere, though, which came on Sunday night. We stopped to see my mom after church, and then when we got home, my husband and son ordered pizza.

I often miss the show even though I love it, and part of the thing I love about it is that is the relaxing cadence and tone of Jeremy Wade's voice. So, I often go to sleep when it is on and catch the remainder on reruns, which are plenty. Yes, I regularly sleep through one of my favorite shows.

Anyway, it is a great show, and it has no rivals or other shows in the same genre. Check out this article. You can watch the video at the top to see a little of the magic of the show.

And, aren't you glad it's not just me?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Church Hill woman makes national 'News of the Weird' Readers' Choice

Church Hill woman makes national 'News of the Weird' Readers' Choice

The Church Hill woman who drove through Providence Church in Church Hill and stabbed her husband made the "News of the Weird" Readers' Choice Award. 

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What do Bigfoot folks do in the off-season: Chase Chupacabra!

Alvin Payadachee Public Domain
They hunt for chupacabra, of course!!!  You can read my article about this Texas couple who captured what they though was a chupacabra, and they kept it in a cage in their yard. They claimed they were pressured by the game warden to either let it go or euthanize it. Supposedly, it is illegal to keep a fur-bearing animal. You see, though, the issue is that it has no fur!

Experts think they actually had a mange-ridden dog, raccoon or coyote.  There is a video on my article so that you can judge for yourself. I am not as prone to believe in the chupacabra as I am Bigfoot. However, you never know.

Be sure and subscribe to my National Wildlife column while you are there.  All they ask for is an email address. You can Click Subscribe Here, if you like.

Here's the Chupacabra article. 

Friday, March 28, 2014

Lost in Space: Why do these things always seem to happen to me?

My life has involved a lot of searching for things lately. Everyone else has been searching for the missing plane, but I have been searching for a missing trash can, a missing wheelchair we rented, another missing wheelchair I accidentally stole from the assisted living facility and my mom's teeth! And, since we just recently moved right before Mom had her strokes, we basically are looking for things 24/7.  (Has anyone seen my houseslippers? Ken did find his belt finally; he returned the one he had to borrow.)

As I said, how DOES this stuff always happen to me?

I called in a prescription the other day, but it turns out, according to the nice girl at the pharmacy, I had had a 90 day refill just a few weeks ago. Well, you know....I had lost them.  After I finally found them, I had to call back and explain. I hope I didn't get on some kind of RX Abuser List since I am already on the list for the Homeland Security for people who have too many points against their drivers licence.

One wreck on the way to the skilled nursing center to take mom some Christmas clothes last December garnered me more than half the allowable points before suspension! I actually could probably have had a DUI and come out better. 

Tennessee has turned over all of their DMV stuff to the Homeland Security. (You ought to come home to one of those letters in your mailbox!) You T-Bone one Cable TV van, and suddenly you are a threat to the nation! 

(I think I was already on some kind of list for participating in a protest in college against J.P. Stevens Corporation. I am not sure, but I think it showed up when I had to have a background check for a job one time. It didn't really cause me any problems, but I think it was there. I didn't even know what the protest was for, but some cute guy was doing it so, ....)

And, why did I steal a wheelchair, you might ask?

You see, we had rented a very nice wheelchair for mom to use when she needed it at the assisted living place. When she went to the hospital, she went in the wheelchair to the doctor's office first in the facility van, and I met her there. When she was discharged, the facility came and got her, but they did not get the wheelchair. (We didn't realize this.) They had a wheelchair marked with the assisted living facility's name, and the lady brought her back and she remained in that chair. She was taken by ambulance back to the hospital the next day. 

During the course of her stay, it appeared she would not make it. My brother and I went and cleaned out her apartment at the assisted living facility because the doctor said if she survived, she would need more than assisted living. Honestly, we did NOT think she would.  We were hurriedly loading her things, and I grabbed up walkers and wheelchairs and loaded them in my car. We took the stuff to mom's house. 

Fast forward:  My brother went to meet the equipment man to turn it in, and it was not our wheelchair! It had "Broadmore" written across the back. The man said he would take it to Broadmore and try to work it out. 
When I called to see what had transpired, it appears the medical equipment place had shipped that wheelchair to a warehouse in Georgia!

So, now I am responsible for two wheelchairs!

I was at a loss what to do. Of course, our Waste Management trash can had just disappeared one day last week with no notice. It actually came back, though, after I called them. I was hoping that the two wheelchairs would be just like the trashcan and just find their way home.  (Cue the puppies, kitties, and sad music.)
Max has been practicing for one of those sad commercials....every time the music comes on, "In the arms of the angels, ..."
If I never had a problem....

I'd never know that God could solve 'em!  (Andre Crouch, "Through it All"  Circa 1970s)

After I found out that the lady at Broadmore did not bring the wheelchair back with mom, I figured we would never find it again at the hospital.  Trying to find it would be like trying to find....a wheelchair in a hospital!  I really almost didn't even pray about it, but I decided to ask God to find the wheelchair. 

I got a call this morning really early from my brother. (I mean, before 7 a.m.!) He was so excited that he could not wait to call me. He had gone out to the hospital on his day off before 6 a.m. and went through every wheelchair in the place until he found the serial number the equipment company gave us, and He Found the Wheelchair! 

After clearing it with security, (we really didn't need to be involved with any more wheelchair theft) he loaded it up in the car and took it to mom's house. So, now I am just left hoping that the company gets the Broadmore wheelchair back from Georgia and we can trade out. 


Then there are the teeth

While visiting my mom Wednesday, it came to my attention she had lost her bottom dental bridge. Ken and I came back after church to search and search for it, and the laundry, nursing, etc...all were searching. No luck. (Puppies, kittens, et al...)

Today, when I went, the bottom teeth were in her mouth!  I WAS SO HAPPY!  

That is....until I realized she has now lost the top ones!


PS...If anybody sees my house slippers, please contact me!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesday: Finally breaking through a writer's block

Hey! Just a few words to share what I have been up to today. I finally managed to get a little writing done for my columns at Examiner which has been quite hard for me up until today. I have so many things whirling around in my mind with my mother's condition, moving, and various friends for whom I am VERY burdened, so writing has been very trying and not very enjoyable.

Thankfully, I have been somewhat productive today.

Points is Points

It actually snowed, off and on, all day, so I didn't really want to get out in the car anyway. After the letter I got from the State's Homeland Security yesterday about my driving record points, I am almost afraid to drive! Have you ever received a scary looking letter like that?

 I had a little wreck last December when I was trying to get my mom's Christmas Sweaters to her at the skilled nursing center in between trying to get paperwork done for our mortgage that was pressing me. I pulled out in front of a cable van and got a  nice little "failure to yield" ticket along with the charge for the damages in the accident. So, it appears you get 12 points in a year before they issue a suspension letter....I already have 7 from that one little accident, so they were warning me I am close to the limit.

There are people out there driving legally after multiple DUI tickets, but I am hurrying to the nursing home and I am now in a dangerous "point zone."  Go figure.

Unabashed, Shameless Self-Promotion

Just a reminder:

I would appreciate if you would read some of my Examiner articles. I have links at the sides of this blog to the live feeds for most of them. Yes, I am paid by the # of readers and subscribers.

Thanks in advance.

Here are a few I have written the past few days.

Saving on Groceries  This article includes quotes from friends you may know.

Swamp People is looking more like its old self   

David Cassidy ordered to go to rehab

Malia Obama gets fashion attention on the China Trip

Garrick Zican is missing

Circus Elephants escape in Missouri

Harry Potter comes to Tennessee  Be sure and read this funny article about the Squidditch team at ETSU.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bunny Rabbits, Cute Alligators and Stepping Stones

Yesterday was a nice, pleasant day for me.  After several weeks of what seemed like a lot of burdens, yesterday was such a nice respite!

I still have dear friends and loved ones for whom I am quite concerned, but yesterday was a much-needed day of sunshine and laughter. I finally convinced myself that it is O.K. for me to smile, and it doesn’t mean I don’t care about those folks whom I love.

Push Your Cousin Off The Porch
I spent most of yesterday with my little cousin, Perky, and she probably would not have put up with my moping anyway. Before you think I was babysitting yesterday, my cousin Perky  is actually only 1 ½ years younger than I am; she actually teaches First Grade. She is and always has been very petite and much cuter than me. And, she is always PERKY!  (No, that’s not her name, although close. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)

Perky relishes telling how I pushed her off the porch at our grandmother’s house. I always thought it was an accident, as I recall, but maybe she is right!  What she leaves out is how terribly annoying a cute, tiny, perky person probably was to a large, chubby, draggy person like me!  So, maybe I did push her off.

 I would say the court of public opinion would side with me.  She always had these cute little hats with little yarn tassels on them.  In one photo, we both had them on, but mine was so tight on my big, fat head that it didn’t look quite as cute.

Occasionally, I still consider pushing her off a porch for still being so cute and perky at our age, but neither of us have a porch that is more than a few inches off the ground. One day, I might just push her out in the yard just for good measure!!!

Here Comes Peter What’s His Name
Perky proudly proclaims herself as “The Favorite Niece.” So, in order to try to lock in that title, she came to visit my mother at the skilled nursing center and  brought along a beautiful stuffed rabbit for my mother. It was calico-colored like a wild rabbit.

I wasn’t sure whether Mom would like it, but often people do like a soft plushie after a stroke. She held it a while, then she asked, “ Do I get to keep it?”  After being assured she could, she asked, “What will we name it?” That seemed like the silliest question to me because I don’t normally name inanimate objects, but apparently Perky does. She and my mother found it to be of the utmost of importance to name this rabbit, and, of course, apparently they are also experts in determining the sex of a rabbit. This one was a boy, so I am told!

So, to bring the ridiculous conversation to a close, I suggested we name it “Peter Rabbit” from Beatrix Potter. I think it had morphed into “Peter Cottontail” by the time we left, but whatever. It made my mom happy, and it was quite beautiful.

Alligator Alley Meets Austria

Most of my readers and friends know about my interest in alligators and television shows about alligators and crocodiles. I have actually amassed a small collection of alligator body parts and other items which I have displayed on the shelves behind our bar in the new house. I have dubbed the area, "Alligator Alley." 

Alligators, ravens, and Uncle Si!

My little cousin Perky hates my alligator heads and feet. You see, I have two heads my son brought me from Louisiana,and I also have two feet. One foot is a Florida gator foot that my friend Donna bought me, and the other foot is from Louisiana.  (It is attached to a backscratcher!) She thinks they are creepy. She had purposed in her heart to find me a "cute" alligator, and she finally did, but not without an adventure to go with it.

Perky the alligator hunter stalks the illusive Von Trapp

Perky shopped and shopped and shopped until she found a cute alligator at an online collectible house. My alligator-repulsed cousin actually ordered a numbered and dated alligator made out of Swarovsky Crystal!  It was wrapped in a dark blue package with all it's "papers" and such like a well-pedigreed dog.  Here is a photo of the little crystal alligator.

 Of course, I had to rearrange the shelves with some antique wine goblets when Von Trapp arrived. (Oh, of course, he had a name BEFORE he came. Actually, he had two names because her husband wanted me to name him "Little Foot" because of my "obsession" with Bigfoot which he thinks is totally crazy, although he is nice about it. )

Meet Von Trapp

He really does "class" the place up, doesn't he?

"It's no wonder the Post Office is going out of business!"

Yes, that's what Perky loudly proclaimed as she left her local small-town post office. (She did not use any bad words, she said.)

You see, Perky had waited and waited for this alligator to arrive so she could present it to me as a housewarming gift on our first weekend in our new house. The day it was to come, she raced to the mailbox to find a note that the snow had made the package undeliverable. So she travelled from her remote location to the local post office only to find that the package had been returned to sender!  After one day of snow, it was returned. 

(Hence, the name change thing...)

Apparently, cute little cousin Perky got a little UN-Perky with the Post Office. I don't have all the details, but apparently there was some STOMPING involved. 

Judi, Judi, Judi

Home she went:  Down the long gravel side-road, through the ornate iron gates, past the horses, and straight to the laptop. She fired off an email regaling the customer service rep, Judi with an "I", about the total disaster that this delivery issue had caused. Judi with an "I" quickly set the wheels in motion to get a Swarovsky crystal alligator resent by overnight mail, which she did.

My alligator arrived, and she removed it from its luxurious dark blue case over and over. (She had to show me how to get it out.) 

 Then several days later, the other very expensive alligator unexpectantly arrived at the house of my cousin. What do you think she did?

Perky immediately emailed Judi with an "I" and told her she wanted to pay for it and keep it for herself. She had fallen in love with the little crystal alligator with the lifelike eyes. She got no answer this time from the usually-prompt customer service agent Judi with an "I."  She emailed again, but she got no answer. Obviously, this alligator was a gift from Judi with an "I."

Meet my cousin's crystal alligator:  Judi with an "I"
 Of course, my cousin named her alligator!  It is Judi with an "I."

Stepping Stones

It was a wonderful day with my cousin Perky. My mother is making progress back from near death to more of herself every day. It is small steps some days and big steps other days. 

Later that night, my brother and his wife gave us a wonderful, personally custom-made gift for our new home. We were so happy with it. It is a monogrammed stepping stone that you put beside your front door.  I absolutely, positively love it. I don't know if she does these to sell or not, but if you are interested, you can send me your email and I will give it to her. 

Here is the photo of our stepping stone beside our front door:
With our black shutters, it is so stunning!

This is the most unique, thoughtful gift, and don't you love personalized items?

Keeping what's important

Seriously, in closing, I wanted to share something I have learned the last several weeks. 

When we went to move, we never realized how much "stuff" we had saved and accumulated from 32 years of marriage. Boxes and boxes of sentimental items had been ruined by water damage and squirrels. We threw away tons of stuff; this trash heap was only one of three, plus we donated gobs of stuff, too.  Most of it was not suitable to be donated, though. 

We had to throw away years and years of memories.
I had kept almost everything from my childrens' lives to the point of totally ridiculous. I have been learning to live in the present and not hold on so tightly to "things" or "stuff" from the past. There is no need to keep every little thing...the stuff strangles your life and clutters your house.

But, what I have learned lately is that what you SHOULD hold on to are the relationships that make up the memories of your life. If you treasure the people who were there, you don't need the "stuff." Our efforts of cataloging our life's memories should focus most on the family and friends who made life so sweet anyway. 

Cousins and mothers and brothers and sister-in-laws and friends; it is easy to get busy with life and let these relationships slide. These relationships are truly priceless. The rest is just "STUFF."

Blessed, I am....


Monday, March 17, 2014

Yes, Sarah, there is still goodness in humanity....

The other day, my friend's daughter (and my friend, too!) posted a very philosophical status update on her Facebook page.
Goodness should become human nature, because it is real in nature.
She was basically questioning why the animal world seemed to possess innate goodness, but humans seem to fall very short.

Her mother, ever the acerbic wit, was quick to post a pragmatic comment:

 Have you ever watched the cats stalk mice?
I, in a serious mode, reminded her of the eternal truth that all men fall short of what we should be. That is why Jesus Christ became our bridge to God.

Goodness makes the Badness Go Away!  Quoted from "The Smurfs"

The next few days, her comment kept reverberating in my brain, as words and songs often do. Today, I began to see goodness springing up all around me! Despite the fallen human condition, I began to see glimpses of our Creator in pure goodness and kindness shown by those around me.

There were so many examples of beauty, goodness, and kind hearts in the Skilled Living/Nursing Home where my mother is staying after a stroke. I was thinking how the CNA's who take care of the sick, injured, and helpless are truly angels to these folks. They don't make a lot of money, and sometimes they have to do the most disgusting things, but, when done with loving care, they are doing the work of angels!

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

There was a St. Patrick's Day party planned this afternoon at the center, and when I saw my mom's spirits lift at the mention of it, I decided to stay and go with her.  I tried to lug her big oxygen and huge wheelchair to the elevator with no success; soon a strong nursing assistant offered his help. Mother enjoyed it so much, despite the fact her punch had to be thickened, and she couldn't eat the cake. She enjoyed the crowd, the festive colors of hats and the sparkly green beads they handed out.

I even got in on the bead action.  Did you know it's really impossible to be sad when wearing sparkling green Mardis Gras beads for St. Patrick's Day?

Either my ears are crooked or my glasses need adjustment!

As I observed the festivities and listened to the jumping Irish music, my search for goodness continued.  I saw one of the activity directors whirling a smiling elderly lady around as though they were dancing. I saw volunteers handing out refreshments, carefully following the dietary restrictions of each patient. One young teenage girl was helping. How many other places could she have been today?  Goodness, I tell you!  That is goodness!

I felt my spirits begin to lift. I have been burdened with my mother's health issues, having almost lost her several times last week. One of my dearest friends, Donna, lost her precious 33-year-old daughter last week. I have felt so conflicted between being by my mother's bedside and being with my dear friend.

Suddenly, however, another precious friend and her husband just dropped everything in their lives and  picked up and drove for 10-12 hours to get here to be by Donna's side. I don't know if they took vacation time or just unpaid leave, but either way, it was a very self-sacrificing act of kindness. At this point, I knew my grieving friend had this kind couple there whenever needed, so I could focus on my mother.

Oddly, this couple's presence was quite a morale booster for me during my difficult days which was totally unexpected. I, too, was the recipient of their kindness.

Sarah, you won't believe this...

Do you know where my mother got this beautiful basket of flowers? No, it wasn't my friends from Savannah, although they did surprise me with a friendship shrub for our new house. (It is the neatest gesture, I think, to give something to someone to plant to remember you.)

Any idea where these came from?

Before I arrived to the center today, my dear friend Donna and her daughter, Elena, had come to the nursing home and brought my mother a huge basket of flowers. After just going through this agonizing funeral this weekend, on Monday, they were out distributing flowers to the sick. They were looking outside their own grief to do something to brighten the lives of those who were suffering.

My first remark was, "Isn't that so 'Donna?'" 

It was amazing to me that Donna and Elena rose above their grief to care for others like this. Thank you so much!

Then, my next thought was, 

"Yes, Sarah, there are still GOOD, KIND people in this world of imperfection. Despite our frail frame, there are still those who show the sweet LOVE of GOD and His PURE GOODNESS to others through their everyday actions.