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November | 2015 | November 2015 – A Grand Journey
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November 2015

12 Days of Christmas Challenge

Family By November 30, 2015 Tags: , , , 12 Comments

I recently stumbled upon Allyson’s blog, All Our Days and her post 12 Days of Christmas: Blessing Your Husband.  I thought it was fun and cute, but I figured my husband would think it was cheesy.  Then I thought about it some more but dismissed it because obviously she hasn’t been married as long as I have.  Then I started thinking, what tokens could I give him that he would find fun and interesting?  As it rolled around in my mind for a day or two, I finally decided to do it.  I am sure I could find some inexpensive, but interesting items to fill the 12 days…cheesy or not. I started to get excited, as I let the creative juices flow.

I don’t think this has to be just for a husband.  You can choose anyone special in your life (a grandchild, parent or neighbor) and design a 12 Days of Christmas surprise for them.  I decided that I would start on December 13 and finish on December 24.  That is when our family celebrates Christmas together so that would be perfect. I am also going to wrap each gift with a tag that says “on the ___ day of Christmas my true love gave to me…” and then I will ‘try’ to find words to match the tempo of the song. I am not going to stress about rhyming! You might do “on the ___ day of Christmas my grandma (friend, daughter) gave to me…..”.

Here is the list I came up with:

Day 1 – a picture of him and his granddaughters in a magnetic frame for his office (so he can put it on the file cabinet or other metal surface)

Day 2 – 2 books I order for him from Amazon.  This book was recommended on the blog I bought the book AND the workbook.  Who doesn’t want to live strong, fit and sexy until your 80? Here is the link if you are interested. (I also bought the woman’s version for me – wink!)

Day 3 – A small cookie tin with 3 penguins on it and almond cookies inside-he likes penguins and he likes almond cookies –double score!

Day 4 –4 boot socks (2 pair) – he always needs socks and these are soft and functional.

Day 5 – a five meatball spaghetti dinner (I am sure he will love this one).

Day 6 –6 packages of peppermint hot chocolate mix to take to work.

Day 7 – The movie – The Magnificent Seven (the movie Fast and Furious 7 would also work)

Day 8 – 8 Hershey kisses (wrapped in a small box)

Day 9 – A list of what I love about you (I planned this for the day I had a hard time finding something for – explaining the choice of the number 9)

Day 10 – A favorite band’s music CD with 10 songs (found at Walmart for $5)

Day 11 – Movie – Ocean’s Eleven (obviously my husband likes movies!)

Day 12 – 12 colored pencils (along with a fun color page like a Celtic knot or something)

There you have it. My 12 days of Christmas gift list, for my hubby.  I am fairly excited.  He doesn’t know anything about it. It’s going to be fun!

Do you do anything special around the holidays?

This post linked to A Grand Social at, Blog Hop on, – Treasure Box Tuesday and Creative Muster at

Please note – the product links above are affiliate links





The Thankful Banner

Family By November 28, 2015 Tags: , , , , , 2 Comments

resize-bannerIt’s been more than 25 years since I designed and constructed a 6 foot long, blue felt Thankful Banner for my family.  The goal was to put the items we were thankful for on it, in picture form, so my young children could understand it.  I hang it up every year around this time.  It stays up pasts Christmas, therefore it gets packed away with the holiday decorations.  If I am slow to pull out the Christmas decorations, then the banner is delayed in getting put up (meaning after Thanksgiving).  My two boys are both grown, but they expect to see it hanging on the wall.  I guess it is tradition and a part of their childhood.  When my son got married he noticed when I added his new wife to the banner.  Several years later, my daughter-in-law noticed when I added our first granddaughter to the banner.  This year we have a new addition to our family and I will be adding a second granddaughter to the things we are Thankful for.


Being thankful is powerful; it can remove a sour attitude, give you an appreciation for life or stir up a sense of hope and peace. It can chase the doldrums away and provide renewed energy. Our family banner is full, but simple. A pepperoni pizza represents food and musical notes represent singing.  Our banner has a hot air balloon on it because they are cool and we used to live in the hot air balloon capital of the world – Albuquerque.

Even in the worst of times, there is always something to be thankful for.


What are you thankful for?

This post is linked to The Grand Social over at Grandma’s Briefs, Treasure Box Tuesdays at Memories by the Mile and Creative Muster at Fluster Buster


Weekend at the Baby Spa

Babies, Grandkids By November 23, 2015 Tags: , , , , 2 Comments

My husband and I watched our nine month old granddaughter last weekend.  Her mom and dad were heading to a marathon, in another state and took big sister with them.  Our youngest granddaughter is crawling now,  so I have to make sure NOTHING is on the floor and all the doors are closed.  She woke us up twice during the night (taking groggy grandparents about 45  minutes to get her back to sleep) but that is just how teething babies are.  She is good natured and smiling – we had a great time.

This morning I was reflecting on the weekend. Inspired, giggling and with tongue in cheek, this was the email I sent to my son and daughter-in-law:

Your Receipt

Dear Customer,

Thank you for your recent visit to the Grandma and Grandpa Weekend Spa.  I hope our guest enjoyed her visit.  At her request, she was sang to and rocked to sleep at night, as well as for naps during the day. This service was fulfilled at no additional charge to you.  She was hand carried to destinations though out the facility and was only left to get there under her own power when she felt the desire. Furniture was placed at convenient locations so she could practice pulling herself up and moving around, allowing her to exercise at her leisure.  The chef carefully prepared foods to her liking and she was hand fed all of these delicious culinary delights. Her sleeping quarters were temperature controlled and any uncomfortableness was attended to promptly. Tickling was occasionally performed for entertainment purposes. We hope our guest enjoyed her experience and felt loved, pampered and generally well cared for.

Payment for the spa facilities has been made.  We collected kisses, hugs and smiles at the time services were rendered.

We hope you visit us again soon.


The Grandma and Grandpa Weekend Spa



4 Places to Find Cheap Kids Books

Babies, Elementary, Grandkids, Toddlers By November 18, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , 5 Comments

My granddaughter loves books.  This is something I am very happy to encourage. However, most of the children’s books in my house didn’t make it to my kids adulthood.  They were either a favorite, which meant the cover fell off and the pages fell out or they were torn and tattered by less than careful offspring.  So, I needed to restock my house with children’s books.  Being the dutiful, but frugal grandma that I am, I set out to find some bargain books for my granddaughter.

These are my top stops when looking for inexpensive children’s books.

  • Tag sales (also known as Garage Sales) – you can find some good buys, but it can be time consuming. Unless of course, you are a tag sale junkie, in which case you will love the hunt!
  • Thrift stores – places like Goodwill and Savers usually have a stock of kids’ books at very reasonable prices.
  • Dollar stores – this is especially good for baby cardboard books which usually come packaged 2 or 3 for a dollar
  • The local library – this is my absolute favorite and my ‘go to’ place for used children’s books.  Many town libraries have an annual book sale and you can pick up a large stack of children’s books for a couple of dollars.  My library has a permanent sale. You choose books from the shelves set up in the corner and then deposit your quarters or dollars into the can hanging on the wall. It’s fun to sort through their assortment every few weeks to see if you can find a gem or two.resize-books

I have acquired a nice selection, from books on dump trucks and airplanes to Sesame Street and Winnie the Pooh.  Occasionally my granddaughter is allowed to “check out” books from grandma’s house and take them home. But she has to remember to bring them back.  Her mom helps with that.


Do you keep a stash of children’s books at your house?

This post linked to Over the Moon Link Up at, Let’s Be Friends Blog Hop at, the Blog Hop at, Welcome Home Wednesdays at, Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop at


Old Photographs and Faded Memories

Family By November 16, 2015 Tags: , , , , 9 Comments

Last weekend I flew in to visit my sisters, I have three.  We hadn’t been together since my mom died, three years ago.  At that time, looking for comfort and connection, we had sorted through piles of old photographs.  Some pictures were of us as children, others of my mother when she was a young woman and still others known only by the fading names scribbled on the back.

We spent time telling stories and laughing at the memories.  I was given the assignment, or maybe I volunteered, of taking some of these ancient photos and scanning them so the images could be preserved for future generations. Oddly, all of us seemed to have a few old and special photos in our personal collections.  I am not sure how that happened, but that probably was my mom’s doing. I imagined she divvied them up, little by little. When we reunited last week, I handed them the finished disk and the envelope of photographs I had borrowed.  Yes, it did take me three years to complete the project…sigh.

I never was especially interested in tracing family history or genealogy.  But, as I have grown older and special people have passed away in my life, I feel a desire to preserve, for my grandchildren, the knowledge and memories I do have.   Who were some of these people in my fading black and white photos?  I strain to remember what my grandmother told me about Pa Pa (her father) and Ma Ma (her stepmother). They lived on a farm in Missouri.  What was it like growing up on a farm in the early 1900’s?  How did she meet my grandfather, who was a city boy? These are questions I never thought to ask her. She may have told me some of it, but I wasn’t paying close enough attention to remember. Much of that rich and precious information is lost forever.resized-old-pic

Now what?  I decided to start journaling the stories I do remember. Then I can pair the written memories with some of the old photographs I have, preserving some of the family history to pass on. I can still recall personal interactions with my Aunt Opal (my grandmothers’, mothers’ sister), who must have been almost 90 years old when I was a teenager and the special love of my Aunt Blanch (my grandfathers’ sister) who always, throughout my childhood and until I was married, sent me a birthday card with a dollar in it.

My grandmother was a wife and mother during the Great Depression.  She told me that the potato peeler was invented during this time (maybe, maybe not… but I like the story anyway).  She said the peeler helped people to remove as little of the potato as possible, while removing the skin. Food was in short supply and everyone had to make the most of what they had.  Hmmm…  This is an interesting bit of history that I can pass along to my granddaughters once we start cooking together. I look forward to it.

How do you plan to preserve your family history?

This post is linked to Grand Social over at Grandma’s Briefs, Treasure Box Tuesdays at Memories by the Mile and Creative Buster over at Fluster Buster


Fun with a Coffee Cup Sleeve

Grandkids, Toddlers By November 9, 2015 Tags: , , , No Comments

I purchased a large package of To Go cups to stash on the shelf, under my Keurig. I wanted to provide an insulated, disposable cup to those running out the door with morning coffee.  Honesty, I did this because my kitchen cups kept disappearing out of the cabinet and they never seemed to make their way back into the house!   Enclosed in the package were a huge number of brown coffee cup sleeves. However, no one used them.  Once the carryout coffee cups were gone, I was left with this pile of sleeves.  Now what? Garbage?  Recycle?

I ended up tossing them into my granddaughters treasure box.  I figured she might enjoy playing with them.  They were ignored for a while, but then one afternoon she discovered them. The first thing my little designer did was to add a little color.

resized-coloring coffee collars

Then she decided they would make great bracelets.


Then she customized our bracelets while we were wearing them.


This was a fun activity and something that could easily be pulled out at a restaurant or doctors office, while you are waiting. Just keep one or two in your handbag (recycle them from your next coffee order), along with a couple of crayons and you are good to go.  Then, you too can be the hippest grandma, as you sport a fashionable bangle designed by your favorite toddler.


A Baby Shower for Grandma

Babies, Grandkids By November 4, 2015 Tags: , 2 Comments

A grandbaby shower? I had never heard of anything like this, until recently. But let me tell you, I think I’m a fan.

Once my two boys were older, past toddlerhood, I got rid of my baby stuff. I either gave it away to new parents or tossed it because it was worn out. Even cherished items that made it into late childhood (or early teen-dom – sorry Nate) like a favorite blanket, can only be stitched together so many times before it has to be pitched. So when my first grandchild was on the way, my house was void of ANY kind of baby stuff and had been for almost two decades. Was I worried? Was I concerned? Did I give it much thought? Nope.

Then came the baby shower for my first grandchild. My son and daughter-in-law surprised me with a portable crib to keep at my house. My good friend presented me with my very own diaper cake, which included all kinds of baby goodies. It was so thoughtful, but all the while I was thinking, where I was going to store this stuff? Well, in the last three years, I have used up the diapers, plus more, and all the other fun stuff that was included in the diaper cake. I know exactly how to open and close the crib quickly and efficiently, since I have done it more times than I can remember. Actually, most of the time it stays open and ready in the guestroom. I have also added to my own baby equipment collection.

These are some of the helpful items I have purchased for my house: a jumper (a swing that hangs from the door jam – a great invention), a car seat, a high chair, a few baby clothes to keep on hand, sippy cups (a must), some small blankets, a toy chest and of course toys. My husband’s favorite purchase is a handful of extra-large (for whatever age they are at the time) plain white tee shirts. Anytime he feeds them he just pulls one over the top of their clothes and removes it when he is done. No muss, no fuss and the babies outfit remains clean. It’s like a baby body bib.

Do I recommend throwing a grandbaby shower for the new grandparent in your life? Absolutely! It would be fun and very much appreciated.

What baby supplies do you suggest for new grandparents?

please note: the product links in this post are affiliate links for products that I actually use and recommend.

Photo credit: handmade charm by ScrapheartGifts. You can find this beautiful charm at their Etsy store.




How to Make a Treasure Box for Your Grandkids

Grandkids, Toddlers By November 2, 2015 Tags: , 2 Comments

My sister-in-law shared with me that her 2 ½ year old granddaughter cries for her mom whenever she is dropped off at her house. I suggested she make her a special treasure box. The contents of this box can only be explored while she is visiting Nana. Therefore, my sister-in-law must resist the urge to let her granddaughter take the box or its contents with her when she leaves. I made one of these for my two year old granddaughter and she makes a bee-line for it whenever she visits. So what’s in the box? I am glad you asked.

I use an ordinary shoe box. But any box with a lid will do. I fill it with age appropriate odds and ends that I think she will like. I avoid anything like small balls, marbles, balloons or anything with small parts that could be swallowed. Here is a website if you need guidance on choking hazards.resize-Box pic 1

My granddaughter loves stickers so I buy stickers books at a local craft store for $1. They have 6 or 8 sheets of stickers, a great value for a sticker hungry toddler. However, I just put one sheet of stickers at a time in the box. I hide the other sheets, otherwise she would empty the entire book of stickers in one sitting! She puts them on half sheets of colorful paper that I also include in the box, but they sometimes end up on her clothes and cheeks.  What you fill the box with is completely up to you and the personality of your grandchild. I do switch out items and add to the contents of the box occasionally to keep it fresh. Most of the stuff in this box was free or recycled.

Her current treasure box has:

  • Hard colorful bangles (got a bunch for a dollar at Walmart in the holiday isle)
  • Empty Altoids cans
  • Old gift cards (they fit in the Altoids can)
  • Hair ties (buy a big pack of the larger ones , but just add a few to the box)
  • Book marks (free from library or educational event or make your own)
  • Mardi Gras necklaces (only if your grandchild won’t break them or suck on them. The girls usually like to wear them)
  • Sheets of stickers (I buy at craft store for a dollar)
  • Folded pieces of paper (like computer paper – I choose a color)
  • Coffee cup sleeves (I have these left over when I buy “to go” cups for the house)
  • Paint card color samples (home store –from my last paining project – when I was choosing colors)
  • Brochures with fold out pages (pick up the ones with interesting pictures)
  • Small maps (can usually find these at tourist type restaurants)
  • Fat crayons (I don’t do markers)
  • Plastic spoons (heavy duty)
  • Small cars and trucks (like Hot Wheels)
  • Old cordless mouse with a wheel (battery removed)
  • Rubber duck
  • Zippered pencil pouch
  • Large plastic scoops
  • Plastic shovel (part of a summer bucket/shovel set)
  • Large coin purse with lots of zippers
  • Long, thick piece of rope tied at both end

What do you keep a two year old busy at your house?