Travel Log - Oxford and St. Michaels, MD

After our three night stay in Gettysburg, my husband and I decided to head into Maryland. My husband and I have both been in Baltimore, when he had a conference to attend. Obviously, that is only one little piece of this state, which surrounds a good chunk of the Chesapeake Bay. It was the Bay that we were interested in seeing, but we weren’t sure where to go. We stopped at a the Maryland Welcome Center and were helped by a very friendly lady who gave us brochures on places she recommended that weren’t overly touristy.

After stopping at Fredrick Coffee Company & Cafe in Fredrick, MD, we decided to spend two nights near there, getting ourselves oriented and taking one day to totally chill out in our hotel room other than running out for food. When looking for places to stay near St. Michael, which our Welcome Center lady recommended, I came across an Airbnb in Oxford, MD called The Sandaway Suites & Beach. They had a small room available and it was half the usual rate, which was much more than we typically spend for a room. My guess is after the holiday weekend, they were glad to fill the rooms, so we grabbed it for two nights.

Oxford, MD

I didn’t take any outfit shots in Fredrick, but the day we traveled to Oxford, I kept it very simple. A pair of dark wash ankle pants rolled up, my Keds sneakers, a new tee from JC Penney and a fun necklace that I found thrifting made up this easy travel outfit. The cute tee has bees on it. I should have taken some close up shots, but I was lucky to remember taking pictures at all. Ha, ha.

Oxford, MD

This was in the lobby area of the actual Inn. The check in office was actually in a different building, so when you entered this building it was quiet and just off to one side was a doorway into a library where Mark and I ate our breakfast each morning. Sorry my pictures are less than stellar quality. Phones take much better pictures than they used to, but they are not perfect.

Oxford, MD

This was a the view from the main porch of the Inn.

Oxford, MD

This was the view from the other porch…yes there were two porches!

Oxford, MD

Sunset views.

Oxford, MD
Oxford, MD

After a night of sleep we spent the one full day we had in the Oxford area to take a ferry boat ride and explore the town of St. Michaels. For this day, I wanted to look like a tourist, so I wore my Christopher and Banks cabana pants. I got these just for our trip. I simply paired them with a white tee. I would have worn sandals, but knew we would be doing a lot of walking so opted, once again for my Keds.

Oxford, MD

Here we are on the ferry.

Oxford, MD

While we were in St. Michaels we visited the Maritime Museum. We saw boat building in process, a lighthouse and lots of boats, both pleasure sail types and work boats from the past. They even had a photo exhibit on women’s involvement in many aspects of sailing, fishing, crabbing and other industries of the sea.

St. Michaels, MD

This was the boat that Captain John Smith, of Pocahontas fame, used to explore the Chesapeake Bay area.

St. Micheals, MD
St. Michael's, MD

Of course, we had to get pictures of fashion back in the day. Believe me, this was as close to a swim suit as I got on this vacation. Ha, ha.

St. Michael's, MD

How do you like these prints ladies? This was the up and coming fashion for summer quite a few years before I was even born.

St. Michaels, MD

This is one of the reasons it is fun to explore museums, old towns and take a closer look at our history. There are just so many interesting tidbits out there that we know nothing about, until we start to look.

When we were done with the museum we ate at this restaurant, The Crab Claw, that was right on the water. It was delicious! Mark and I split a sampler platter with shrimp, scallops and fish and also ordered some oysters. Yummy! Sorry, I forgot to take pictures, because I was so busy eating. Ha, ha.

St. Michaels

These last pictures are from the day we left. I wanted to get a few more pictures of this beautiful place we stayed and, of course, an outfit shot or two.

Oxford, MD
Oxford, MD

I need both the porch and the swing, or as my husband calls it, a butt hammock!

Oxford, MD

Good-bye Sandaway, we will miss you.

Oxford, MD
Oxford, MD
Oxford, MD

I hope you enjoyed seeing some of our travels. This was not a sponsored post. I am simply sharing our adventures and have included links, so you can do your own exploring. I know my husband and I have cherished the information people have given us over the years of great places to go on vacation and they were always right.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Travel Log - Gettysburg, PA

With my husband and I taking a vacation for the last few days, I thought it would be fun to do a few Travel Log posts, like I have done in the past. Both my husband and I love to travel. We like to “get out of Dodge”, so to speak. We like to see new places and try new things, but we also like to revisit places we have been before. A number of years ago we passed through Gettysburg, PA on our way home from a conference. We spent one night so we didn’t have much time, but we saw enough to know that we wanted to come back. This time we spent three nights and were able to see and experience so much more.

For my first day of travel this is what I was wearing.

Travel log

I apologize for my crummy selfie photo taking. I always seems to focus more on the selfie stick than the outfit, I am taking a picture of. Ha, ha. I really need more practice, but time is forever chasing me down like some sort of spectral wraith reminding me, I will never have enough of it.

The outfit was meant to be comfortable and easy, which it was. It was starting to warm up, so I knew I wanted something that would be warm enough, without being to warm. Both my top and the sweater were recent thrift finds. The jeans are a brand called Angel that Kohl’s carries. They are extremely comfortable as they have that perfect bit of stretch, but still hold their shape well. Here is a skinny pair, and here are a boot cut pair.

Vacation Pictures

This is the outfit I wore, the first full day we were in Gettysburg. I got this skirt at JC Penney just before our trip and I love it. It is stretchy, swingy, tiered for extra room and comfort and you don’t need a slip underneath. I thought it would look pretty with yellow, so I grabbed this thrifted tee, which I used before in my Pantone Spring/Summer series. I added my blue, fringe necklace, my blue Keds, and my white jean jacket.

Gettysburg, PA

This little shop in Gettysburg makes and sells, period clothing. Most of the clothes are geared towards the mid 1800’s or the time of the Civil War. Think Scarlet O’ Hara with her big hooped skirts and fitted bodices. That is exactly the styles they sell. They also sell men’s period wear as well. I wish I could have taken pictures, but they had a no picture policy. It would have been fun to try things on and model them for a photo shoot. Ha, ha. The pieces were beautiful and they also sold, bonnets, hair pieces, jewelry and other period type accessories. If you are interested you can visit their website.


This was my next outfit. On this day we spent time hiking around a few specific battle sights from the Battle at Gettysburg, like Devil’s Den and Little Round Top, and we also did a two hour horse tour, so I wanted to be comfortable, but also covered, from the sun and from bugs. This plaid top and the blue tank underneath were also recent acquisitions from Penney’s. They were having good sales that day I went and i had a coupon. My Christopher and Banks jeans are some of my faves, although most of them are stating to look worn, so I thought they would be good for the horsey ride. You can see my blue fringe necklace made another appearance. Who says you can’t look stylish when you are riding a horse.

Gettysburg, PA
Gettysburg, PA

The next picture is Little Round Top. It doesn’t look like much, but it was one of the decisive parts of the battle that day. If you haven’t see the Gettysburg movie with Jeff Daniels as Colonel Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, it is a must see!

Gettysburg, PA
Gettysburg, PA

The group that we did the horse tour with was Horse Tours of Gettysburg. I had been wanting to do this tour since we first passed through Gettysburg, 13 years ago. I love horses and horseback riding, but have never had the money to own my own or take lessons. When I was younger, I had a friend down the street that had horses and she would let me get on them once in a while. Also, when my girls were young, my older daughter had the same bug for horses I did, so we were able to find someone with horses that gave her that exposure. Of course, I went along too. Ha, ha. A horse ride and a bit of history? Sounds like a win, win situation and it was. I would recommend this for anyone, especially families. The licensed tour guide gave such good, detailed and interesting information about what events led up to the war, the actual battle and the aftermath of all that fighting. It was excellent. And yes, my butt hurt when I was done, but it was worth it.

Here I am on Dixie.

Gettysburg, PA

Here is my hubby on his handsome boy, Patriot. We both thought it was funny that he had the Union horse and I had the Confederate. Sounds a bit like our marriage at times. Ha, ha.

Gettysburg, PA

Finally, on the day we left Gettysburg, I wore this outfit. This fun sleeveless top was a find at the end of the season last year from H&M. They have such fun prints and unique pieces that I have to go in there every once in a while, just to see what’s new. However, I do have to try things on, because often times what looks great on the rack looks silly on me and other times, I’ll try something really different and it’ll be perfect. The distressed, jeans were a Kohl’s clearance find and the suede oxfords are older from DSW. Here is a fun blue pair, an espadrille version, and a leopard print.

Gettysburg, PA

I hope you enjoyed this look at the first part of our vacay. We have a few more days left and are spending the last two nights in Oxford, MD. I hope to have enough pictures to do another post on Thursday. Until then, I hope you had a great weekend and that your week is off to a good start.

Thank you for your support. I would love to hear if you have any plans for the summer to travel, or garden, or just chill. Let me know in the comments section below.

Have a great Tuesday.

Thinking About Graduation? Try Basic Invite.

I was recently contacted by a company called Basic Invite, inquiring as to whether I would be interested in doing a collaboration. This is a sponsored post. Though Basic Invite provided the images and gave tips on what to include in this post, all opinions are my own.

I have always loved stationary. Being a writer I love paper, journals, pens, pencils and anything else to do with writing. I enjoy picking out cards for people when they have a birthday. I also used to buy various whimsical stationary to send letters to friends and family when I was away at college. Unfortunately, like many people I have bought into the quick pace of our chaotic lifestyles and resort to text messages, Facebook birthday greetings and emails to convey thoughts and express sentiments. However, there are still occasions where an email just won’t due. Weddings, funerals and at this time of year graduations all require a more thoughtful approach than a text or a Facebook invite.

When I began looking over what Basic Invite offers, I was impressed by their selection. For this post, I want to focus on graduation invites, since that season is upon us. Graduations from high school, and college are fast approaching, with a few having already taken place. Basic Invite has plenty of options to choose from, such as, graduation photo party invites, customized graduation invites, or you can create graduation invitations online.

Here are a few samples of the types of graduation invites you can get.

Basic Invite
Basic Invite
Basic Invite

What makes Basic Invite stand out from other stationary retailers? Here are a few specifics.

Color Choice - Basic Invite offers over 180 color options. With their online instant previews you can design your invite and change colors instantly, so you get the exact color option you want.

Custom Samples - You can design, order and receive a sample of your invite so you are sure of the paper quality and style before you complete your order.

Over 40 Colors of Envelopes - With all the colors of invites you have the option of over 40 colors of envelopes. I could see myself, having so much fun matching invites and envelopes. Ha, ha.

Address Capturing Services - This service allows you to share a link on various forms of social media to request friends and family’s addresses which are then saved in your account. When you make your invitation you can select which people you want to send them too. Recipient address printing is done at no additional cost.

Foil - Foil options in gold, silver and rose gold give you further options in both raised and flat designs.

In addition to graduation invites here are some of the other options available for weddings, baby showers, birthdays and even holiday parties.

Basic Invite
Basic Invite
Basic Invite
Basic Invite
Basic Invite
Basic Invite

Basic invite offers other services as well, including free websites for setting up and organizing your wedding, or birthday invites. rsvp’s and more. They also offer business cards, stationary and notecards as well as thank you notes. If you are looking for invitations, thank you notes, business cards or other stationary, and you want loads of color options and styles, be sure to check out Basic Invite.

All photos of samples in this post were provided by Basic Invite.

Summertime Travels - Hikes, Rainy Days and Legos

Believe it or not, I do not have an outfit post ready for today. I have been extremely unmotivated to take pictures and my daughter and I have another photo session scheduled, but not in time for my usual Tuesday fashion post, so I do apologize for my laziness. I've already succumbed to the lazy days of summer, even though it is still spring. Ha!

Instead I thought I would write a post on traveling. My husband and I both like to travel and if you have followed my blog from the beginning you have seen me do several posts on our travels to Florida, our attempt to go to Maine last spring and a few other short trips here and there. A few weeks ago, we were able to travel back to my hubby's old stomping ground in Wisconsin. 

I was first to drive. Here my hubby is pumping gas. 

I was first to drive. Here my hubby is pumping gas. 

Wisconsin is a beautiful state, full of gorgeous state parks, awe inspiring bluffs, rivers and lakes, and rolling hills interspersed with working farms and polka dotted with beef and dairy cows. Wisconsin is a large state, so we kept our travels limited to the lower one third of the state. Most of our time was spent in or around Madison, which is where the state capitol is. Mad City is a thriving, growing university town, full of interesting hang outs, shopping and one of a kind restaurants.

Our first night we spent north of Madison in a little community called DeForest. We were planning to travel further north to a beautiful state park the next day called Devils Lake. The fact that I was going to be apart from my seven year old Grandson for ten days, meant that we both were going to have a little separation anxiety. He still had school during the week, but I told him to pick out a few of his legos and they would travel with me. I assured him I would be sending pictures. 

The "guys" calling for room service.

The "guys" calling for room service.

The next day was bright and sunny. I donned clothes that would be comfortable and easy to hike in. This was my outfit, but I exchanged the Keds for my hiking boots before we took our walk. This fun pair of jeans are Rock & Republic brand, which I got at Kohl's. They have a nice stretch and I love the zippered cuffs at the ankle. 

Outfit for hiking

We drove the forty-five minutes north and found that most of the state of Wisconsin was hanging out at the park! We ate a picnic lunch and then proceeded to hike one of our favorite trails. 

Minions love bananas!

Minions love bananas!

Here are some photos from our hike. 

At the top of the lake.

At the top of the lake.

The guys wanted to hike too.

The guys wanted to hike too.

I love trees, especially with this back drop.

I love trees, especially with this back drop.

Another view of the Lake

Another view of the Lake

Even the guys were pooped after the hike.

Even the guys were pooped after the hike.

They slept good that night.

They slept good that night.

As you can see, this is a favorite spot of my husbands and of mine as well. He has fond memories of hiking some of these same trails with extended family members from when he was young. We were able to bring our own family here nine years ago when we all got together to celebrate my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary.

The next two days it rained, and it rained and it rained. Needless to say the guys started getting stir crazy. 

Legos being silly.
Legos getting a drink
Legos playing checkers
Legos being naughty in a restaurant.

I'll continue this on a different occasion, so you can see more of the guys' adventure and more of our vacations pictures. 

Are you taking a vacation this summer? Where are you going? What are your favorite places to visit when you want to relax and have fun? I'd love to hear you thoughts. Leave me a comment or two.

Check back on Thursday, when I will have a fashion post on my Old Becomes New column.


Throwback Thursday - College Days Musings

It is fun once in a while to think about days gone by. Whether it be high school or college, we all have memories both good and bad about those years. I thought it would be fun to just reminisce about those years I spent in college. Enjoy this walk down memory lane.

My college days were like so many young people's, a mixture of fun, frustration and figuring out what exactly it was that I wanted to do when I grew up. I spent a year and half at a four year Christian college named Houghton, that had an extension campus near where I lived. Not having the resources for an expensive education far away and not wanting to go into debt, I thought living at home and commuting a perfect way to get my college education. I started out as an education major.

I commuted the 40 minute trek from my parent's home to the campus numerous times per week through fair weather and foul. Believe me, Buffalo winters can be pretty foul. I remember one particularly nasty winter storm that I drove home through where it was not only furiously snowing, but it was accompanied by resounding drum rolls of thunder and electric flashes of lightening. It was an apocalyptic adventure maneuvering back roads all the way home. I thank God for the safe travels. 



Commuting also provided ample opportunities for car break downs and flat tires. My father, an airplane mechanic, had taught me well. While he rescued me for actual break downs, he had taught me how to change a flat, which I did so at least two different times. The joys of driving old cars.

It was about a year in at Houghton, when I realized I really wanted to go to the foreign mission field and serve God in that capacity. I started looking at schools and ended up at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL. 



Chicago is an amazing city and what better place to go to college. From the late night walks down Rush street, day time strolls to the Museum of Science and Industry or a run down to Moody Church, the city was full of opportunity. It was also full of great food. Many of the eateries I frequented are no longer around, but Giordanos, my favorite, still causes my hubby and I to stop when traveling through the Windy City. 

My three year stay in Chicago (Moody was a three year program at the time, but has since changed to a fully accredited four year college) was not without difficulties and homesickness. The first few weeks were torture as this country girl had never lived in a big city before. I felt like a tiny bug in a huge universe of concrete and people I didn't even know. Eventually, I made friends and had some wonderful times. 

When I think about what I might have done differently there are three things that came to mind.

1. Enjoy the moments more. Sometimes we spend so much time worrying about the future that we aren't able to enjoy the present. 

2. Be a bit more disciplined. This was true both in diet and exercise as well as financially. While Moody was not a tuition driven school, I still had the expense of room and board. There were semesters I fell short in getting things paid off, even with my parents pitching in and my working several part time jobs. However, I loved to eat out and do things off campus and that cost money.

3. Make every year count. By the time I became a senior, I had fallen in love with the man who is now my hubby. I spent a lot of hours pining away, wishing we were together, rather than enjoying and focusing that last year. 

I have many good memories of those early years and they helped to shape and make me into the person I am today.

Celebrating the 4th and a Break!

Happy 4th of July everyone. I just wanted to leave a quick note to let you know that I am out of town celebrating with family. I also felt a need to take a little time away from the blog and get some rest and refreshment. I'm sure you all understand those feelings of needing to recharge and refocus. So, my wish for you on this 4th of July is that you find time to take care of yourself in the midst of family get togethers, picnics and fireworks. 

Scroll down for images that remind me of the 4th of July:

picnic food
picnic food
American flag

Stylin' Granny Mama will be back on track next week. Until then, have a great holiday!!

All images downloaded from Pixabay. 


Celebrating One Year in the Red!

Yesterday, February 2nd was my one year anniversary for Stylin' Granny Mama. Whoo, hoo. I have come a long way from when I started out. I decided to celebrate today, Friday to coincide with National Wear Red Day. This day was set apart to raise awareness that heart disease and related illnesses such as stroke, are the number one killer of women. Here is a short article by the American Heart Association, Behind National Wear Red Day



I have learned so much over the last year and there are a few special souls I would like to thank. First of all my daughters Rebecca and Rachel. Rebecca was the driving force behind my starting this blog and my photographer. She is the one who manages the design of my blog. She also helped my husband pick out a nice camera and is attempting to teach me things about taking pictures. Rachel is my make up guru. She became interested in make up when she was a teenager. She was a key component in a once local photographer's senior session themed shoots. She did a beautiful job making pretty high school gals look like glamorous models. Even though she only does make up as a side business now, she keeps current on all sorts of make up and knows how to make a person look amazing. You can check out both of these talented girls at their sites: Rebecca Trumbull Photography and Rachel Christensen Instagram. 

There are many other people I could thank too, My husband Mark, for bearing with me for all the hours I spend on the computer. My extended family for all their kind words and support. And It wouldn't be a blog without my subscribers and viewers. I also want to give a shout out to all the other beautiful bloggers that have been a source of encouragement and inspiration over the year. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Today, I thought I would post an outfit in honor of my 1 year anniversary and in honor of National Wear Red Day.

SGM 1 year - Nat'l Wear Red Day

I'm hanging out at home this morning, but I am also meeting a friend for lunch, so I opted for warm and casual. I started with my red and navy plaid shirt and my Rock and Republic jeans. 

SGM 1 year - Nat'l wear Red Day

I added a navy fringe necklace, red faux leather jacket and my new SO lace up ankle boots from Kohl's. For this look I left the shirt hang out to create a more casual look. 

SGM 1 year - Nat'l wear Red Day

Another possible way to style this look is to do a half tuck on the shirt and cuff the pants.

SGM 1 year - Nat'l Wear Red Day
SGM 1 year - Nat'l wear Red Day
SGM 1 Year - Nat'l Wear Red Day

Here is a close up of the boots. I really like the gold rivets and the taupe color of this recent purchase. 

SGM 1 Year - Nat'l Wear Red Day

Now I am thinking about the future. As women, who are more susceptible to heart disease and stroke, we definitely need to be thinking about what we can do now, to take care of our heart and arteries. Exercise, eating better and reducing stress are all areas in my life that need some tweaking. How about you? Is there a history of heart disease or stroke in your family? What actions are you taking now, to give your heart a better chance? 

I am also thinking about the future of my blog. A blog's life depends on subscribers and views. If you want to make a living at blogging then you also need to investigate how to transform your blog into a business. For now, I want to continue to work on the content of my blog. I am still developing as a writer and as a women who knows and understands clothing, fabrics and accessories and how they can be combined to make us look and feel beautiful. Networking and collaborations are also a big part of getting a blog out there. This month I will be doing my first collaboration with another wonderful blogger, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. 

My heart of hearts is in the written word. I love to write. I love to imagine. I love to inform. I am hoping with my blog this year to write posts that not only look pretty, but give my readers something to chew on, whether it be about faith or about fashion. 

I hope that those of you who subscribe will continue to support my efforts and if you know someone who might benefit from Stylin' Granny Mama's wisdom or wit, that you will pass along the link. 

Thanks again and have a great weekend! 



Travel Log - Post 4

After five nights of camping under breezy, tropical, star-filled skies we packed up our tent and gear and headed north. We made a few of our favorite stops along the way. 

Frenchy's Salt Water Cafe is one of our favorite places to visit when we are in the Clearwater area. This "burger" is a deep fried filet of grouper and there is nothing quite like it! This is not the sandwich you want to eat if you are on a diet. Ha, ha. My hubby had to order deep fried oysters as well.

grouper burger

Instead of exploring the shops of Clearwater Beach, we moved further up Route 19 to Tarpon Springs. This little town has the flavor of a true fishing village. These fishing docks specialize in harvesting sponges. They even have a museum with a movie that gives information on how the sponge industry got started. We stopped in a few of the shops, where I bought a few gifts for family members then we got dessert at one of the Greek bakeries. Yummy!

This was my casual outfit for the day. I love the lose and comfy feel of the boyfriend jeans. I topped the jeans with a navy and white striped top. The tank top stripes go horizontal across the chest and vertical from the waist down. It's a fun look and even though the bottom flares out it still looks slimming because of the stripe direction in the right places. I wore my white fly away cardi when in the air conditioning.  Also, it helped to cover up my nasty, bright red bite marks. You can see them somewhat on my legs and lower arms. 

Here you can see the top a little better. I added some navy accessories and navy Keds for comfort while we were walking through the shops in Tarpon Springs.

Hopefully, now that we are no longer camping with the bugs, my bites will start to heal and my body will no longer be polka dotted. I love polka dots, but not on my skin! 

Have a great day.

Click on the links to see my travels from the start:

Travel Log - Post 1, Travel Log - Post 2, Travel Log - Post 3

Travel Log - Post 1

I thought I would change things up a bit, here on the fluff page and talk about travel. The hubs and I love to travel and even though we haven't had unlimited resources over the years we have been as far west as San Diego, CA; out east to NYC; down south to N. Carolina, S. Carolina and Florida and across the "big pond" to England. We are already talking about going back to explore Scotland!

Traffic can become a real problem if you drive for travel. Yesterday we were stuck in a traffic jam! It took us one hour and fifteen minutes to go four miles! Ugg. I was ready to jump out of the car and start doing laps, to try to get my steps in! But I was driving at the time, so I don't think that would have worked. While we were driving we were going past a construction zone. I don't know if you have noticed, but some of those orange barrels have lost weight. 

We affectionately call construction around Toledo, "orange barrel season"! You know there is fall, winter, spring and "orange barrel season". These things I was looking at yesterday were not barrels, they were more like stalagmites! Yes that's right! Stalagmites! Those things in caves that sort of look like cones that grow up from the floor. Except these were orange and white stripes. I'd say they'd be stylin' if they were black and white stripes or navy and white stripes, but no! The highway companies did not ask me what colors to make the barrels. 

Anyway, here is my travel outfit for yesterday:


I wore my Rock and Republic jeans from Kohl's as they are most comfy, but still hold their shape. An eyelet peasant blouse with a hint of peach and the open weave short sleeve sweater. I also had on my leopard flats that I bought at Christopher and Banks. Layers are great for travel because you can take them off and put them on as needed. I also wore a tassel necklace inspired by Jodie at Jodie's Touch of Style. And yes I do have a bag clip on my sweater. Trying to remember last minute things to pack! Ha, ha.

I hope to post again, some where along the way! Check back next week for more.

My Favorite Memorials - The Lincoln Memorial

I really like the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC. Funny thing, I've never been to Washington and I have never seen the Lincoln Memorial in the flesh, or should I say in the stone! However, I have seen plenty of pictures, not only of the building, but of the man himself sitting in his great white marble chair.

Wikipedia - Public Domain

Wikipedia - Public Domain

There are several things that charm me about this memorial. The building itself is stylized as a Greek temple. I love the clean look of the white colonnade surrounding the exterior walls. The position of the building on the green and at the one end of the reflecting pool also adds to its beauty. Having never been there, I can only imagine, that like the Mt. Rushmore Memorial it is much better in person.

Another thing I like about this memorial is the sculpture of our 16th President. I absolutely love this photo taken by Jeff Kubina. See his link below the picture.

Photo Credit Jeff Kubina

Photo Credit Jeff Kubina

The sculpture was designed by Daniel Chester French and sculpted by the Piccirilli Brothers. I love the facial expression, the weathered hands and the wrinkles in his clothing. He really looks as though he could stand up and start reciting the Gettysburg Address. The designer and the sculptors did a marvelous job showing the weight this man was under in his lifetime.

I also chose this memorial as a favorite because of the man himself, Abraham Lincoln. He is by far one of my favorite presidents. The things that he accomplished in his lifetime are phenomenal and I believe he was a man of deep and thoughtful character. There have been more recent findings that suggest that he struggled with depression. I think to myself, how could a man not struggle with depression who was leading a nation engaged in civil war and who had lost three of this four children. However, even in his states of melancholy he led our nation through a war and ended slavery. If you have never seen the movie Lincoln with Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Field, by all means do! It does a great job of capturing the man and the times.

The final reason I like the Lincoln Memorial is that it stands in Washington, DC. Having that memorial there stands as a reminder to every president since 1922, that this was a man who had a standard that should be strived after. I wonder how often our leaders look out from Capital Hill and see that Memorial and remember. Isn't that what memorials are for?


My Favorite Memorials - Mt. Rushmore

The summer of 1988 my bother was getting married out in Denver, Colorado.  Kevin, four years my senior asked myself and our older brother, Jeff, to stand up in the wedding. My spouse and I decided we would make a vacation out of it and planned a trip that would include the Black Hills, Mt. Rushmore and Yellowstone. We figured we might as well take advantage of the drive out and do some sightseeing. It was hot that summer. That was the summer much of Yellowstone National Park was hidden under clouds of billowing smoke. Fortunately, Mark and I were still able to see a number of beautiful scenes and plenty of buffalo and elk. 

Downloaded from Wikipedia site - Public Domain

Downloaded from Wikipedia site - Public Domain

One of the most memorable things we saw that summer was the Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. This is one of my favorite memorials. There are many reasons I like it. Let's start with it's massive size and the idea, motivation and work behind completing such a colossal project. From the conception of the idea by Doane Robinson to promote tourism in the area, to the actual sculpting of the granite mountain by Gutzon and Lincoln Borglum (father and son), the work took from 1927 to 1941. Read more here. Pictures really do not do it justice. You have to see it face to face, ha, ha.

Another reason I like this memorial is the men whose faces are carved into the rock. These were men who made a difference in our country's history. All of them were presidents, each with his own unique style of leading this nation. But they all did great things. George Washington, our nation's first president, fought in the Revolutionary War. Thomas Jefferson our third president, authored the Declaration of Independence. Abraham Lincoln our 16th president is famous for The Gettysburg Address, The Emancipation Proclamation and the 13 Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which permanently ended slavery. Theodore Roosevelt our 26th president was the main force behind making our national parks, forests and monuments, a way to preserve our natural resources. He also began construction of the Panama Canal.

When we arrived at Mt. Rushmore it was day time. The sky was blue and the sun was shining on the stone faces. We walked around, read the signs and tried to stay cool. We discovered that at night there was a multimedia presentation and lighting of the monument. My husband who had seen it several times before thought I might enjoy it. So we left to go set up our tent at a campground and came back when it was getting dark. I am so glad! It was phenomenal! The multimedia presentation included music and photographs of the work in progress as well  interesting background information. Then it all went black and they lit up the massive portrait in stone. It was impressive!

Everything about this memorial makes it a personal favorite. It is history carved in rock, a memorial, not only to the four men whose faces grace the granite cliff, but to all the people who have lived and served and died for our country. If you ever get the chance to see this memorial in person, don't pass it up. 

Grow Your Diet: Week 4

Since this is the last week in my series on growing our diets and there is more than just one more food I wanted to mention, I will give this last post a list of other foods that we should add to our diets. I looked at serval websites to see what the "authorities" were listing as the top healthy foods. There were a few that they each had in common.


1. Broccoli - and other cruciferous vegies like kale, cauliflower and cabbage have vitamins and cancer fighting properties. Broccoli specifically has components that help protect against colon and lung cancer. Cruciferous vegetables contain a compound called sulforaphane. This compound, which gives these vegies their bitter taste, also seems to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. For more info see the short article here


2. Salmon and other oily fish. I know not everyone loves fish and I am not especially fond of trout and some of the other more oily fish, but salmon is delicious especially grilled or baked with seasonings. My husband and I also like canned salmon and sardines. While these have a much higher sodium they still have the same health benefits. Some people suggest using fresh salmon for grilling or baking and canned for making sandwich fillings or salads. Read more on fresh versus canned here.

leafy greens

3. Dark leafy greens. I haven't tried all of the dark leafy greens, but spinach is one I am most familiar with. I like my spinach fresh rather than cooked, but I don't mind cooked spinach in things such as soups, quiche or paninis. Fresh spinach is great on a sandwich or in a salad. Spinach is loaded with vitamins A, C and folate. For more info on leafy greens see this article on Web MD.


4. Avocado. These are a great food that can be sliced and added to sandwich's, salads and even omelettes. Or they can be smashed, sprinkled with green onion, salt and pepper and made into guacamole. I only use those ingredients. Some people add lemon juice, tomatoes and other seasonings. Avocados are loaded with vitamins, potassium (more than bananas), healthy fats and fiber. Check out this article for more specifics.


5. Potatoes. Not too many of us would have to be convinced to eat a potato. I come from potato loving stock. Baked, mashed, fried, you name it, we loved it and ate it. My dad was a fabulous potato masher and I inherited his gene for mashing. Now that he is gone, my mom still asks me to mash potatoes at family gatherings. It has taken me a while, but since I got married I've been introduced to sweet potatoes and have acquired a love for sweet potato fries! Okay, they are not the healthiest version of the spud, but at least it's a change from regular Idaho's. Potatoes are rich in B vitamins and blood pressure lowering components. Of course if they are fried or baked with mounds of butter and sour cream, they are not as healthy. See more info here. 

There are many more foods that are high in nutrients and disease fighting compounds and are delicious to eat. I hope you will explore more of these and grow your diet and your health.

Grow Your Diet: Week 3

What did you have for breakfast this morning? A bowl of Reese's Puffs, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch? Two of my faves. And don't forget Lucky Charms and Fruit Loops! Or maybe you had a granola bar, or a piece of fruit. Maybe the only thing you had was a cup of coffee. Breakfast, as we have been told is an important meal. It is breaking the fast from the night's sleep and getting us started for the day. When my hubby and I are home and don't have to rush to work in the morning we like to cook Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. Oats are a healthy choice to begin a busy day.


When I eat oatmeal I add brown sugar, skim milk, walnuts and if I have them fresh blueberries. Oatmeal has a mild flavor, so adding things like cinnamon, apples and various nuts can make your breakfast a meal you look forward to. 

Oatmeal contains a substance called beta glucan, a soluble fiber. This fiber is what helps to lower our "bad" or LDL cholesterol levels. See WebMD's short article here. A few years ago I was diagnosed with borderline high cholesterol. My doctor suggested oatmeal along with diet, exercise and fish oil supplements to help bring it down. My husband and I started eating oatmeal about two to three times a week when we were able to fit it in. Six months later when I had my cholesterol rechecked it had gone from a 213 overall to a 204 overall and my HDL or "good" cholesterol had gone up and the "bad" or LDL had gone down. I'm sure oatmeal had something to do with the change along with the exercise and fish oil. If you have high cholesterol, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any sort of diet or exercise changes.

Oatmeal is also a versatile add in for many recipes. Add it to muffins for an extra heart healthy boost. Put some in with your meatloaf instead of bread or breadcrumbs. And of course oatmeal is absolutely delicious in cookies. Again, we can't just make cookies and eat them and think that we are eating healthy....wish we could! But we can make small adjustments in the things that we cook to make them healthier.

I hope you will think about adding oats to your diet. You will enjoy the change and your heart will love you for it. 


Grow Your Diet: Week 2

I'm feeling particularly nutty right now, so I thought it might be good to discuss adding nuts to our diet. Nuts are a great source of protein as well as being full of all sorts of heart healthy substances like Omega 3's, vitamin E and fiber. Mayo clinic put out a short sweet article that gives a good overview of different nuts along with their calorie and fat contents (amounts found in 1 ounce of nuts). Note they do say in the article you can diminish the amount of good you are doing for your heart if the nuts are covered in sugar, chocolate or sprinkled on a mound of ice cream, hot fudge and whipped topping. That last was my own addition. 


Technically, peanuts are not a nut, but a legume, but I love peanuts. Peanuts, while not as popular as a heart healthy choice do have plenty of disease fighting benefits of their own and even contain the same age fighting molecule found in grapes and red wine, resveratrol. Here's another good article about the peanut. Peanuts are easy to get, are inexpensive and great to have at parties or when kids are around. They are a much better choice than chips or pretzels as they actually are a source of good nutrients. 


Another wonderful nut is the walnut. Walnuts are a source of Omega 3's. Omega 3 helps your heart function at a healthier level. In addition walnuts add their nutty flavor to everything from oatmeal and salads, to desserts (but not too much). I actually like walnuts plain. Just pull a few out of the bag and start munching. The walnut is so popular it even has it's own website, California Walnuts.


Pistachios are another good choice for just eating. While you can use them in desserts or muffins, my family loves pistachios right out of the shell. If we are going on a trip, we often take a bag of pistachios to munch on in the car. We get the ones still in the shell as they are a little bit cheaper than the ones that are already shelled. Again, the nutritional benefits are similar to peanuts and walnuts. Check out the American Pistachio Growers site for more info on health benefits and ways to use this yummy little nuts.

There are many other nuts with similar nutritional assets. Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts and more. Nuts are a nutrient rich food, especially for children who are picky eaters. Just be sure they aren't allergic. Nuts are also portable. They are a good snack for hikers, bike riders and other sports participants as they don't need refrigeration and don't take up much room. For women who are calorie conscious, nuts are still a good snack or garnish choice for salads or cereal, just be careful to measure the amount of nuts you are using as the calories can add up fast.

Remember, we are trying to grow our diets, so adding flax seed from my article last week and nuts are two healthy ways to make our diets more nutritionally beneficial. This week figure out which nut you like the best and let me know in the comments section below. I'd love to hear your opinions.

Grow Your Diet: Week 1

The title of this post may be confusing. Let me clarify, I am not talking about eating more food. I struggle with my diet and my weight every day, so I would be the last person to encourage eating more! What I would like to focus on the next few weeks as we talk about growth blog wide, is the idea of expanding your palette and finding food that will grow your health.

Dieting and diet are a daily struggle for so many of us. We want to eat better, look better and feel better, but all too often we start a diet just to fall off the wagon again. So how do we make a change for the better? How do we grow in the area of our health?

If you have ever seen the movie, What About Bob? Richard Dreyfuss plays a successful psychotherapist, at least he appears to be, until he meets Bill Murray's character, Bob. In the movie, Dreyfuss' character has written a best selling book called "Baby Steps." The book, though fictional, gives us a template from which to put together our own plan for making changes in our diets and lives. The movie is a hoot, a must see and leaves you with a satisfied feeling at the end. I came away from it with the term, "Baby Steps." Change can happen if we just approach it with baby steps.

For today's first baby step in growing our diet I am going to focus on flaxseed.  This tiny seed is said to be an excellent food having health benefits that affect cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Sounds good to me! I take flaxseed oil supplements, in addition to using the ground seeds in cereal. The verdict is still out on whether oils or ground are better for you, but my feeling is some is better than none. Adding supplements to your routine is easy for some, but not for others. If you have a whole foods approach to life then you will want to purchase the seeds and grind them yourself. The ground seeds can be added to oatmeal, breads, meat mixtures such as meatloaf or smoothies. You can also buy flax already ground, at a little higher price point per ounce.


This is the brand I buy and seems to be the most common. There is brown flaxseed and gold flaxseed.


This is a coffee bean grinder and it works great for flaxseed. I just throw about 1/4 cup of the seeds in, put the top on and then push the button. Voila! Ground flax. The ground flax can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but typically will last longer left whole in the fridge, so only grind what you are going to use for the next day or two. See this article on flaxseed expiration.  Flax does have it's own nutty flavor and while it is not offensive it may require getting used to.

Flaxseed and Grinder

I hope you found that helpful. Let me know in the comments section below, if you use flax and how you use it. I would love to hear other people's ideas. 


Keeping the Cross Visible

This week we are shelving our Quickie Clean Up tips to spend a few moments contemplating Good Friday.

When I survey, the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain, I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride.
— When I Survey the Wondrous Cross by Isaac Watts

The cross has been a symbol of Easter ever since Christ laid down His life over 2000 years ago. I love crosses, because they remind me of what was given up for me. They encourage me to remember it was a cross that bridged the gap between God and I.


Here you will see a few images of the cross. Use them to remind you of what happened on this day so many years ago.


Don't forget the humiliation, pain and violence of that death.

Jesus on the cross

It was for you. For me. For all of us. 

It is so very easy to forget this sacrifice that Jesus made for us. We get caught up in our busy lives, taking care of our parents, children and grandchildren. We work our jobs, get together with our friends and all thoughts of the cross are filed away with the dust and cobwebs down in the catacombs. Perhaps it is this forgetting that keeps us from living a real Christ-like life. Perhaps it becomes easier to soothe a guilty conscience or gloss over a "little" sin when we don't have that cross continually on that hill in front of us.

I challenge you today, to go down to those catacombs and make that trip up the Via Dolorosa all the way to the top of the hill called Golgotha....and remember.

Quickie Clean Up: the Living/Family Room

Are you ready for today's Quickie Clean Up? Let's get started! This is for your living room and/or family room. I live in an older two story farm house and we only have a living room, so that is what has served as our family room as well. There are homes that have both living rooms or sitting rooms and family rooms where you have your television, book cases, bins for toys and so on. This clean up session will work for both.

1. Start up high. Dust down any cobwebs. This is a possible tool for getting to the higher places. Obviously if you have vaulted ceilings you will need something more professional for reaching those high corners.

2. Dust picture frames, pictures and other items hanging on the walls. This would also be a good time to clean mirrors. Microfiber cloths are great for picking up surface dust. They are readily available at many stores This is one option.


3. Look around the room between shoulder and waist height. Are there things out of place or things that need to be discarded; a candle nub on the fireplace mantle; a vase of flowers that has wilted on the piano? 

4. Dust at this level, not just the surface of the piano or bookshelves, but items also....clocks, book bindings, lamps, candle holders, etc.

5. Look at the other furniture in the room: chairs, couches, tables, coffee tables and so on. Is there anything that belongs somewhere else? Children's toys, that book you finished, DVD's the family was watching last night. Put things back in there appropriate places. If it doesn't have a place, make one or get rid of it.

6. Fold any throws or blankets in the room. Fluff and straighten the cushions and pillows in the room. 

7. Dust or wipe down the chairs, tables, TV stand and other large items like bookshelves. The type of material the furniture is made out of will determine the cleaners that you use. For most things regular dusting with the microfiber cloth will keep things clean. However, real wood surfaces benefit from occasional cleanings with products like Murphy's Oil Soap or other wood cleaners. If your items are made from some sort of strong acrylic or glass, a cleaner like Windex Multi-surface is a safe bet. But know your furniture. Leather couches can be wiped down with a damp cloth and will look fresh. Microsuede or other cloth can be vacuumed.

8. Now look at the floor. What is out of place? If this is a gathering place for the whole family and everyone contributes to the "mess" then everyone should help clean up. I know this is a never ending battle until your children move out, but it is worth it to keep trying to get them involved in the care and keeping of your home. Often a good method is to assign everyone a bin or basket. Throughout the day, their items can be placed in their baskets. At the end of the day or the week, they take their belongings back to their rooms. Here are some possible bins and other things for assigning each member of the family: milk crate,  decorative bin,     basket.           

(As you can see, I am not as adept as my daughter at putting in these links. I'll get there!)

9. Check over the floor for small items like lego pieces, bobby pins or fruit snacks, candies, changes and so on. Pick items up and place the non edibles in a small cup or dish to be redistributed later (the edibles should be pitched).

10. Vacuum.

Some will say to vacuum first and then do everything else as vacuuming can raise dust. If you have a decent vacuum, that doesn't explode dust every time you use it, and you change the bag regularly, you should be okay to vacuum last. I always feel that vacuuming finishes the project. 

Hope these steps will inspire you to do a little more spring cleaning this weekend. Next week our focus will be Easter so be sure to check in for more fun.

Quickie Clean Up: the Bathroom

This week our Spring Cleaning is going to focus on the bathroom. I'm sure you ladies out there don't let your bathroom get as bad as I let mine get, but it never hurts to be reminded of several quick steps we can take to keep them smelling fresh and looking clean.

1. Clean the toilet. This should be obvious and I think to most of us women it is, but it is very easy when life gets busy to just let it go. If you can do it once a week you are super woman! If you get to it every other week, I think that's fine. You decide how often you think you need to clean. If there has been illness in the house you'll want to clean more often. Personally, I'm lucky if I get mine clean once a do as I say, not as I do! Ha, ha.

2. Wipe down the outside of the toilet, the seat, tank, bowl and footers by the floor. It is amazing how filthy this area can get, especially if you have children still living at home.

3. Put away clutter. I usually do this while the toilet bowl cleaner is doing its' job. Clutter accumulates everywhere and our bathroom counters are no exception. Get items back where they belong. Medicine, hair pins, toothpaste all need their own space. Once again, storage is a great tool for organizing and reducing clutter. Storage does not have to be expensive. Go to the second hand store and buy a few glass containers like I did, for your hair bands, Q tips and cotton rounds. The glass looks pretty on the counter and it tidies everything up. There are tons of options on the web. Here are a few:

4. Clean the sink and countertop using a mild, non-abrasive cleaner. If you vanity top is shiny like mine, you want to keep it that way, so don't use Comet or other cleaners with abrasive particles in them. A cleaner like Windex Multi-purpose with Vinegar (my go to, for almost everything), or some of the Lysol products do a great job. There are tons of cleaners out there, so make sure you read labels. Find the right cleaner for the job and for you. 

5. Clean the mirrors. Mirrors can get gummed up with toothpaste spatters, fingerprints, hairspray and makeup.

6. Replace any burnt out lightbulbs. A bright bathroom looks cleaner than a dingy one.

7. Scrub out your tub/shower. Depending on the finish on your tub or shower pick cleaning products that will clean and leave a smooth, shiny finish. There are cleaners that contain bleach that you spray on the tiles then rinse off after a few minutes. I would not recommend using those on a regular basis, but once in a while is great for eliminating mold from the grout in between the tiles.

8. Replace or clean your shower curtain or the doors on your shower stall. Again these are places mold and soap scum can build up.

9. Sweep and mop the floor. As with the kitchen, if you don't have time to do both, at least sweep. Sweeping can go a long way to making the floor look better.

10. Empty the trash.

Honestly, now that I've written this I feel like I should go clean my bathrooms! Hope you are enjoying these quickie clean up tips and that they are motivating you to do some spring cleaning.

Next week, the living room/family room.

Quickie Clean Up: the Kitchen

Spring cleaning often involves deep, intensive cleaning, but the next few weeks I am going to offer tips on quick cleaning. This is the sort of cleaning we should do on a regular basis, but more importantly it is cleaning we can do in a hurry, for instance, when you find out your relatives are going to drop by for dinner, or your husband invites friends over for a game night. 

Since my kitchen is the first room people see when they enter my house that is where I am going to start. I am going to try to keep this to ten steps.

1. Put away clean dishes. (I always have dishes sitting in the drying rack and in the dishwasher after it is done washing. By putting away all the clean dishes you not only have bowls and spoons available for guests, but you have a free dishwasher to start loading up again.)

2. Load the dishwasher.

3. Wash and dry all other dishes and put away. (I do not put certain pans, sharp knives and some of my plastic storage containers in the dishwasher, so what often happens is a pile to the right of my sink of dirty dishes. Get them done. Less clutter on the counter means a nicer looking kitchen.)

4. Clean off the counter tops. (When you are washing those extra dishes take your soapy dish rag and clean off all your counter tops including under the toaster or other small appliances. Don't forget to remove excess papers and other mail that tend to accumulate on the counter. If you are not ready to throw it away, find a place for it at your desk or designate a tray or drawer for papers.)

5. Clean off the table. (My kitchen table is not only the place for eating, but serves as a desk for doing paperwork and a central area for socialization. Sometimes placing a nice wooden or decorative tray at one end of the table can help corral the mail or magazines, not yet looked at. Try to get to this paper as soon as possible, but if you are in a bind, the tray and all it's contents can easily be picked up and moved to an out of the way location while company is visiting.)

6. With the same soapy water that you were doing dishes in you can wipe down the outside of the fridge, stove, microwave and dishwasher. This simple act can make your appliances look like new. (For tough grease or sticky stains you might need a tougher cleanser such as Mr. Clean Multi-Surface or Windex Multi-Surface with vinegar.)

7. Wipe down the outside of your cupboards. It is best to use something for wood surfaces such as Murphy's Oil Soap. Just follow the directions on the bottle and you'll have fresh looking cupboards in a flash.

8. Shake out any rugs you might have on the floor. If it is a nice day. I like to shake them, then hang them to let the air freshen them as well. (It is also useful to have more than one set of rugs. I have a rug right inside the doorway so when people step in they can wipe their feet or remove their shoes if they are snowy or muddy. I also have a rug at the sink area. A little padding beneath your feet can make washing the dishes more tolerable and the rug soaks up some the the water that may spatter while I am rinsing or washing.)

9. Empty the garbage. (There is nothing worse than a smelly garbage can, no matter where you keep it.)

10. Sweep and mop the entire floor. (Be sure to remove the dust bunnies that accumulate around the chair and table feet. If time allows use a floor cleaner specifically designed for your flooring type. If you are strapped for time, a Swiffer works great, but make sure the Swiffer clothes are safe for your flooring.)

I've found doing these ten steps keeps my kitchen fresh and clean, even if my fridge is dirty or there is food expiring in my pantry. Those things we will deal with another time.

If you are really in a bind, you can skip some of the steps, like shaking out the rugs and mopping, or wiping down the cupboards, and major appliances. As long as the counter is clean and the sink free of dishes, the table wiped and the floor swept, your kitchen will still look neat and clean.

Next week we will take a look at our bathrooms. Be sure to come back for more Quickie Clean Up tips.