Thankfulness – week 3

Continuing with the thankful things by the week.


15.  I am thankful for the United Methodist Church… before you get all excited and think that something wonderful happened in our situation, let me explain… it probably isn’t what you think.  I am thankful for the foresight of the UMC to support/start/encourage higher education.  While there are United Methodist related colleges still in existence, they aren’t really UM colleges… they are just regular old colleges, privately run that just happen to have a history with the UMC.  I attended 2 years of college at the University of Evansville which is a UM related college.  I LOVED attending college there but circumstances in my family made it so that I had to move home.  I am so very thankful that my children will get the privilege and opportunity to attend a private institution of higher education.  I always knew that when I had kids I wanted them to be able to attend a private college.  Having attended both, I know first hand the advantages of the smaller school.  Since we are United Methodist and Wayne is an ordained elder, the local UM related colleges provide a discount/scholarship to clergy kids.   There are 5 good choices in Ohio:  Mount Union, Otterbein, Baldwin-Wallace, Ohio Wesleyan, and Ohio Northern.   Thanks to that clergy discount, both Abi & Liz are able to attend college at a cost cheaper than most kids pay for a state school.


16.  I am thankful for child #1, Abi.  She has been a handful at times and tested us.  She was the firstborn, the one we tested things out on and either changed it with the others or kept it because it worked.  She has worked hard to be ready to graduate from Baldwin-Wallace this coming May.  She will have a degree in Theater & Dance.  She can do anything she wants to do with her life.  She is a strong, confident, independent, beautiful, loving, helpful, caring, responsible young woman.  She has matured and grown so much from those days when she was 14-15 and in her “bad boy” phase.  At 21, she makes me proud of all she has accomplished.  I cannot wait to see what she does with her future!  It is going to be exciting.  We went to see “A Chorus Line” at BW today.  Abi was in charge of the costumes… ok, her official title was: Wardrobe Supervisor.  She has made many costumes with her job in the costume shop.  She has sewing skills that even make her Grandma Zagray impressed – and my mother is very accomplished at sewing.  It is hard to believe that we have such a “grown up” daughter already.  Wasn’t she just 3 and telling everyone that she could “do it herself?”  At 21, she certainly can do it herself and do it well!!!


17.  I am thankful for Grandparents.  I no longer have any living grandparents.  My last living grandparent died in 2005.   I have great memories of my grandparents.  Grandpa Dailey and I would go on long walks along the train tracks when we would visit them at their home in Akron each week.  All the other grandkids knew that I was his favorite.   🙂       He died suddenly in 1975.  That was the first funeral I remember.  I also remember Grandma Dailey saying to me when I walked in to the funeral home, “It will be OK.”  Grandma Dailey had a stroke not too long after that and didn’t live as vibrant a life.  However, I remember her quilt rack in the dining room.  She died right before my graduation from high school.  Grandpa Zagray struggled with heart disease most of his life.  He had a heart attack at his home in Florida in 1985 but survived and moved to the home they had purchased behind my parents.  They were moving there mainly to help with my father’s declining health.  Grandpa didn’t last the year.  Grandma Zagray continued to live there and be helpful to my mother until after my father’s death.  She was a preacher’s kid and a preacher’s wife.  The more I look back on her life, the more I admire her.  She wasn’t always the warmest but she loved us in her way.  There are multiple sweaters she knit for us as children that I still have and have worn on my children. Maybe that is where I get my love of knitting.  I remember making sure that my first stop after leaving the hospital with our first born child was at her house.  She held Abi and smiled and was thrilled that we had done that.  We tried hard to visit her once she moved to the retirement center, but with our growing family and the distance it made it hard.  I just heard the clock chime in the living room. It hadn’t been wound in years but when I re-hung it after painting the wall, I wound it.  It reminds me of Wayne’s Grandma Harding.  I didn’t get to know her for very long but she seemed like a wonderful, wonderful grandma – especially from the stories I hear.  That clock come from her estate after her death.    Someday I want to be the kind of grandma that my grandkids love fiercly and want to visit and play with and enjoy spending time with.


18.  I am thankful for food.  We have had times of plenty and times of less.  We are in the inbetween times right now.  The stock pile of canned goods from the food bank during the year or so of less, is almost all gone.  I actually had to buy green beans and canned corn to make the dishes I’m responsible for on Thanksgiving.  Our frig isn’t as full as it used to be.  We don’t always have all the snacks and foods we were used to having on hand.  However, we are all healthy.  We eat 3 meals a day and manage just fine.


19.  I am thankful for child #4, Esther.  She is a trip!! As the baby of the family, I think she probably gets away with a bit more than the other girls did, we are old and tired after all.  She brings us joy.  Esther is growing into a lovely young lady.  She is kind to her friends.  She is helpful, and loving, and smart, and pretty, and always (almost always) willing to help.  She is learning to cook.  She takes good care of the dog.  She is doing well in school.  She is doing well on the swim team.  She is always willing to be acolyte at church (she is the only child there, so it is pretty much her job).  Who knew that 4 daughters could be so different and yet so much the same?  Maybe that speaks to our parenting skills?


20.  I am thankful for modern appliances.  I know I was thankful for electricity last week but let’s get more specific.   It would be really, really  hard to be washing all the dirty clothes I do on a rock in a creek, or on a wash board, or a wringer washer… I’m grateful for washing machines.  I’m grateful that when the one that came with the house broke down last year, we were able to purchase a new one – a front loader.  I do like clothes dryers too… though I love hanging clothes outside on the line, that is much harder in the winter, though I could do it if I had to.  We lived the first 3-4 months we were here without one and it was fine.  You just have to be more deliberate on when you wash – not on rainy days.  Thankfully, we now have both a washer and dryer that are less than 5 years old and they work great… I just did 8 loads of laundry yesterday.


21.  I am thankful for yarn… yes I said it… I have more yarn than any human being should be allowed to have in my garage.  If you are ever bored and want something to do, I would love to have you come sort my yarn by color into totes.  I am thankful for it, nonetheless.  I am able to turn that yarn into gifts for people.  I can turn that yarn into something to sell (I still have a pair of slippers and a scarf for sale).  I enjoy working with it and playing the “find the right color yarn in the garage” game every so often.  Yarn, and knitting and/or crocheting, bring me peace and happiness.  It gives me something to do while I watch TV.  Some people are all about knitting/crocheting just to knit or crochet.  I am all about making something and seeing the person’s reaction when you give it/sell it to them.


9 more days in this month to go.  I’ll have to think of some more things.  I have a few more “obvious” ones but the rest might be harder to figure out.   🙂




How to Make “Hot Hands”

How to make “hot hands” from old mittens or improperly sewn sweater mittens (see previous post on how to do that).

1.  Find your mitten that has lost its mate, or your sweater mitten that can’t fit any hand and be sure that there are no holes in it.  If there are, turn it inside out and repair those holes.


2.  Find some old socks.  Holes are fine.   😉      With your sewing machine, sew the sock so that it is a tube (i.e. sew so nothing will fall out of the holes).  Do not sew it shut.  You will need socks with cuffs or tube socks… footies will not work for this project.





3. stuff the sock into the mitten and fold the cuff down over the opening (cuff of the mitten).




4.  Fill the sock with long grain rice – the CHEAP stuff.  Not quick rice.    Shake it down, push it down.  Fill it till you are happy with it.  You will not have rice in the thumb portion, only the finger portion of the mitten.




5.  Once you are happy with the quantity of rice in the sock.  Sew the sock shut and cut off the extra portion of cuff.



6.  Sew the mitten closed.



7. Heat in microwave in 30 second intervals until it is as hot as you want it.  Mine got REALLY hot in 1 minute.  Place in your pocket when you go out to play in the cold, or to a ball game or even just sitting around the house.  You could also use it on your neck or knee or anyplace else you need just a small heating pad.  It will hold its heat for quite a while.


8.  This “hot hand” is reusable.  However… if it gets wet you might have an issue with mold because the rice will absorb the water… you know.   🙂



How to Install Laminate Flooring: Part 5 (& hopefully final)

So… all the flooring is down, just need to finish the final touches.

1.  Buy the transition pieces to go between the laminate flooring and the tile.  They will cost over $27 a piece and  in this case 3 were needed.  These transition pieces come with a metal/aluminum groove that you are supposed to secure to the subflooring and then pound the laminate piece into that.  Sure… well… if the subfloor is cement, the guy at Lumber Liquidators says to secure the metal piece down with liquid nails.  Fine.  HOWEVER… you cannot hold the metal piece down flat enough along the length of it in the liquid nails long enough for the liquid nails to dry/hold it and it remain flat.  You can try but….you may discover that it isn’t worth it…

Once you pound the laminate into the metal groove you CANNOT!  I repeat CANNOT get it out in one piece.  What happens is that it separates like this:


2.  At this point… give up… remove all the laminate from the metal gluey pieces and throw the metal pieces outside to await garbage day.


3.  Determine that since you know that if you ever change the floor again (or the next person does) that the transition pieces would have to be changed too.   So… just glue those babies down with the liquid nails themselves.  Besides.. the ones you did have in the metal groove did not lay flat and there were slight gaps that were only going to collect:  dust, cat hair, pine needles, little beads… etc.


4.  Run out of liquid nails mid project because you first glued down the now garbage metal grooves and “wasted” some….   send loving adult male to the local Home Depot to buy some more.

5.  Continue to glue them down.  Let them dry overnight with some weighted items on them just to be safe.

6.  Admire your handiwork.


7.  Note that you are OK with the minimal gap in the corner.  Not too bad.


8.  Now on to finish the quarter round around the baseboards.     🙂



Week 2 of Thankfulness-ish

Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?8.  I am thankful for electricity – YAY! Ben Franklin – for without it there would not be power to connect to the internet – YAY? Al Gore? – or watch TV, or run power tools, or wash dirty clothing, or dry clean clothing, or keep food cold, or make ice cubes, or light the lights, or wash the dishes, or…. any number of things.  Electricity is good.


9.  I am thankful for the modern convenience of motor vehicles.  While it is fun to ride bikes sometimes and we have lived in towns were walking was convenient – and that was great – currently we do not live in a bike or walking kind of town.  Having a car – YAY! Henry Ford – makes those times of running errands much quicker.  Riding in a horse and buggy, while it does sound nice sometimes, would be a big adjustment.  On Saturday, I used a car to:  pick up Lydia from swim, take Esther to Grandma’s, then run on errands with Lydia to Olly’s (they did not have the rug or floor runner that we wanted but we picked up a few other things and new pillows so Liz has some when she comes home), go to Aquatic Outfitters (they did  not have the waterproof device we were looking for and we did not get any new suits because they have a sale next week), Lumber Liquidators (to get another transition piece for the flooring… that post will come later), Old Navy (they did not have any camis right now), Steak & Shake for lunch –  meeting up with Grandma & Esther.  Then our trusty vehicle – minivan #3 – took us to Payless Shoes to pick up some boots for Lydia and a pair of athletic shoes for Esther, then home.  All of that on a bike or bus or buggy would take waaaaaay too long.


10. I am thankful for pets – sort of.  The dog is always so excited to see the kids when they get home from school.  She jumps on them, cuddles with them and loves them.  Pets bring unconditional love.  The big, black cat – Jupiter – comes running whenever Wayne is around, they are buddies.  He has been known to sleep on people (it makes it kinda hard to breathe with 17 pounds of cat on your chest) and is, for the most part, friendly.  The calico cat – Genevieve – meets me on my bed every night for some scratching and petting and purring.  She is a sweetie.  Peter – the silver tabby – is beautiful.  He is just so nice to look at.  He can be friendly, but is more like a typical cat and is aloof.  Pets (especially cats) bring a sense of home to a house.  Of course, I’m NOT thankful for the peeing in inappropriate places and even pooping on the floor.


11.  I am thankful for  Juliette Gordon Low – yep, the founder of Girl Scouts.  I have been to her home (both childhood and married) and I have read many books about her but of course, never met her.  I have been a Girl Scout for more than 25 years (as both a girl and adult).  I have reached over 100 girls with the joy of scouting in my troops over the years.  I just spent the afternoon working on our latest service project (those mittens out of sweaters – see previous post) – fixing them, finishing some and getting them ready to finish up at our meeting tomorrow.  I know that GS has some issues but on the local/personal level, we do not have issues… we just have fun, build friendships, learn some skills, do some service projects, earn badges, have fun, camp, make sisters…. you get the point.


12.  I am thankful for daughter #3, Lydia.  While sometimes she gives us a whole lot of hassle to deal with due to her Selective Mutism, she still brings me great joy.  If I need someone to help me lift something – I call Lydia.  If I need something done, Lydia.  If I want someone to ride along to Joann Fabrics to get more yarn and/or sewing machine needles (see part of point #11 above – I broke a needle while doing that) she is willing to go along.  Lydia has always been a blessing to us from day one when she came out the “special” way and weighed 2 pounds more than her sisters.  From being bald till she was almost 3.  To being quite loquacious even though she doesn’t talk at school.  She is very, very smart.  She is very pretty.  She is musically talented.  She is artistic – if you haven’t seen her photography you have missed out.  She is creative – photography, jewelry, cake decorating, crafts – just about anything.  She is responsible, most of the time.  She is a great friend to others.  Of course, she is also 15 so sometimes none of this is true. However, in general she is a joy and blessing to me.


13.  I am thankful for nature.  I love being outdoors and enjoying the trees and flowers and birds and wildlife.  I don’t enjoy the weeds and work it takes to keep flowerbeds looking good.  I find peace in nature and joy in watching the birds and squirrels and feral cats around our house.  (I really need to get the bird feeder out for the winter.)  I have had the opportunity to lead some nature hikes at Camp Wanake (see previous thankful post about there) for an outdoor education program, it was a lot of fun  to point things out to them and teach them about nature.  I do that on Girl Scout hikes too.  The girls know I will point things out and they have started to learn some of the standard things that I always ask about: may apple, tulip poplar tree, fuzzy vines of poison ivy,…  I can even tolerate the nature of snow… since I know that it will only last a “short” time and then we will be back to sun and green.


14.  I am thankful for Doctors.  Yeah… why not?   I have spent way too much time with specialty doctors in the last few years dealing with Abi’s pseudotumor and with Liz’s knee.  However, I do appreciate the fact that they exist.  I didn’t know until a couple weeks ago that you could do an ultrasound through an eyeball to check the level of spinal fluid pressure that might be pressing on the optic nerve and thus causing the headaches associated with pseudotumor.  Very cool procedure – from a spectators point of view.  Do I like the bills that I receive from these doctors?  Nope.  I am thankful, however, that Liz’s knee is doing well and hopefully will last her for 80 more years – or at least 40-50 when she can deal with knee replacement surgery on her own dime.  I am thankful that we are trying to make progress with Abi’s diagnosis.  The latest doctor (on friday) is going to to add a couple medicines to her regime and see if they help.  I do not like that a 21 year old will be on 4+ medicines for something that was supposed to go away.  However, I am thankful that there is medicine and a means to help her even if it isn’t totally covered by insurance.


There you have a second week of thankfulness.  Yes… still some things I’m sure you think I should be thankful for.  Yes… still 3 children and a husband that haven’t made the list…. 16 more days… there is plenty of time.     🙂






How to Up-cycle an Old Sweater into Mittens and/or Pocket Warmers

Seriously!  This is a real “How To” on how to make them.  Not like my previous commentaries on how I installed Laminate Flooring.

1.  Go to Goodwill store and buy some sweaters.  Get only the cheapest ones – I only paid $1.50 per sweater.  So, for a total of about $15 I got this many sweaters.


Wash them, dry them.  Doesn’t matter if they need cold water or not, who cares if they shrink.  Wash them in warm water and dry them.

2.  Turn them inside out.  Trace around your hand  at the side seam.  Be sure to leave plenty of space around it to allow for the seam allowance when sewing.  Be sure to leave plenty to go down over your wrist.  Leave the entire ribbing for wrist.


3.  Copy the other hand on the other side seam.


4.  You can get a second pair out of the sleeves – they might be more child size. Leave as much of the seams as possible – less sewing is better.


5.  If the sweater has a decent ribbed collar, you can get a third pair from there.


I had the scouts work on this since it is to be a service project to help other kids/people in our community combat COLD AIR.  We are working on our “Breathe” Journey and our Alert issue is cold air.


We cut this many out of about 10-12 sweaters.


6.  Next sew around them on the sewing machine.  Be careful to catch both sides and not leave any holes.  Also be sure that the wrist opening is large enough.


7.  Then trim any excess fabric carefully.


8.  Then turn them right side out and try them on.

DSCF2399  ;

9.  We tied them together with ribbon and a note to hand them out.



We were unable to complete all of those we had cut out.  Some of them we cut too small  – either the wrist hole or the thumb.


The ones we cut too small, we are going to repurpose as bean/rice/corn hand warmers.  We are going to fill them and then sew them shut.  They can then be microwave heated and used to drop in your pocket to keep your hands warm.

Final products will be photographed and shared later.


p.s.  YES, one of the sweaters I bought at Goodwill ended up on Esther instead of as a pair of mittens.



How to Install Laminate Flooring: Part 4

It is coming down to close to the end!!


1.  when you remove the rest of the furniture in order to paint that last window frame and the baseboard you may find something like this hiding.


UH-OH!  We don’t have the money for that… maybe home owners insurance will cover it.


2.  Remove some more of the remaining carpet and find this:



Cover them with Borax and watch them climb the wall.

DSCF2379 DSCF2380

Add some vinegar to the mix.  Then send your spouse to a local store to buy indoor/outdoor ant killer to spray around the foundation and also under the baseboard where they are coming from.

3.  Remove the last piece of carpet and padding from the living room.  Throw a little party!


4.  Clean up the paint mess and the ant mess and spray again while you lay more flooring.


5.  Keep going… almost there.


6.  And done!



Well… OK… not actually done because the transition pieces and the quarter round have to be put into place, but the main bulk of the work laying all the laminate flooring in a 23′ x 23′ room is done!

Next up… painting the walls.  And figuring out that mess of cords in the corner.     🙂



I know that lots of people are posting thankful things every day for the month of November.  I have one friend that has been known to criticize me for not being thankful for what I have and dwelling on what I don’t.  However, that friend is NOT one that is doing a thankful list for November that I have seen.

I tend to be a more “glass half empty” kind of girl so my thankful lists usually come with a but… or however… or except… and are hard for me to do because I want to be honest and if I don’t feel truly thankful, I don’t just want to say I am just to list another thankful thing or cross it off the list.

HOWEVER…. I will give it a shot.  There will most likely be some explanations that go along with this list.   😉




1.  I am thankful for my mother.  She welcomes us to lunch or some semblance of food on Sunday’s after church almost weekly.  She is also willing to do a weekly pickup/transportation run for the kids.  This week, she got the pleasure of not only the pick up after school but also got to take Esther to a swimmeet.   I got to the swimmeet JUST in time for Esther’s first event.  My mother has sat through plenty of swimmeets in her day.  I’m thankful that she is still able to drive and help us out and didn’t mind terribly to go to swimmeet #2,459.  Thanks, mom!

2.  I am thankful for my father.  My father died in 1993 when I was 7 months pregnant with Abi.  However, when I was growing up, he (and my mom) taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to.  That it didn’t matter that I was a girl.  If I wanted to do it and I could read the instructions, I could do it.  Thus… I have built swingsets, castles, changed vanities in bathrooms, built raised flooring, installed dryer vents, laid laminate flooring, rototilled gardens, caned chairs, changed faucets, leveled stairs, painted & repaired walls, stained furniture, fixed broken furniture…  I know that I am capable of doing all these things and more.   If you can read, you can do it.  Thanks, dad, we did a great job at putting that convertible top on the VW bug.   🙂


3.  I am thankful for Camp Wanake.   Some of my best memories are centered around that camp.  I practically grew up there… going each summer as a camper and both Memorial Day & Labor Day with my family to camp.  I always knew that I would be on staff some day and fulfilled that dream by working as Waterfront Director for 4 summers 1982-1985.  I met some life-long friends and fell in love there.  My children are at home there and so far 2 have been on staff (and one of them found love too!).    Wanake is in my blood and while I may have a difference of opinions with some things that are going on from time to time, the spirit of the camp and what the place stands for is most important to me.

4.  I am thankful for musical ability.  I am thankful for the talent everyone in my family has for music – either instrumental or vocal.  In fact just tonight, Esther was plunking away on the piano.  She got less lessons than the others so her skill is limited, but that doesn’t limit her love for music.  We have so much talent in this family, we’ve been known to have a family band (even though some older children aren’t a fan of that).  In fact, if we had enough hands/mouths we could play:  flute, flute, piano, trumpet, alto sax, tenor sax, bassoon, clarinet, trombone, ukulele, guitar, bass drum. some more piano, and of course the vocals to go with it.   I am proud of my children’s abilities, I just wish we could do more family musical stuff… maybe when they are older??

5.  I am thankful for intelligence.  Specifically that my children are all smart!  Because they have used their brains and succeed in school, the older 2 have been able to attend private colleges with great scholarships provided to them.  Having attended both a private college and a state school, I knew that I only wanted my kids to attend a private college since I knew how hard (awful) it was at a state school (at least for me, I know some people thrive on that largeness, but not I).  Thankfully because they are smart they have been able to attend wonderful private colleges and get first class educations.

6.  I am thankful for the modern convenience of furnaces and whole house heating.   While I often think it would be fun to have lived in “Little House on the Prairie” times (I would have so rocked that!) it is nice to be able to have heat with just a simple push of a button.  Though, having a wood burning fireplace would be wonderful.  Our bedroom is only heated by a ventless gas fireplace and currently it sets off the smoke alarm every time you turn it on.  We thought it was because it was burning off the dust that accumulated over the summer, but now I’m not sure.  It is a new smoke alarm we got for free and installed by the fire department.  I may have to remove that battery and just use the old one that worked but wasn’t so sensitive.  At least we have heat, for that I am thankful.

7.  I am thankful for clean water that is available inside the house, with a turn of a knob.  I know that too many people in this world do not have clean, drinkable water at their disposal.  I am thankful to have it.  Would I like to have hot running water in the kitchen one year after it was turned off because of a leak… of course.  Have I made due for a year? Yep.  See…. I do have “Little House” qualities.  Am I able to camp without running water?  You bet…I know how to carry water and heat water.  Would I love to have the money to buy softener salt again for our automatic water softener that came with this house that I only got to use for 1 year until Wayne lost his job.  Sure I would.  Is that a necessity, nope.  I am thankful that we have water to drink, water to cook with, water to shower in, water to grow things with… one of those conveniences we often take for granted.


I know some of you will think that I have missed some “important” things to be thankful for that I should have listed first.  Remember, I want to be truly honest when I am trying to be thankful, so maybe I’m not able to be totally thankful for that yet.  Or maybe… I’m holding it for another week.  Why do all the easy ones in week one… there are 3 more weeks to go?!   🙂