A Grandy Story; WWII as a 13 year old girl

Every week on my way to the gym I use my 25min drive to talk to my grandmother.  She is getting to an age where she has not many peers and I’ve gotten to an age where she does not feel that I’m a little girl.  To that end we have had many conversations and today she told me a little bit about her life in WWII and I think that I am going to write it here so I don’t forget and to share it with those who might want to read it.


The conversation rolled into the topic of WWII with me telling her that her generation is referred to as “the Silent generation” (Ironic since she is nothing of the sort) but me telling her it is most likely because of all the men come home after war and expected to buy their white picket fence from Sears and settle down to re populate the world and “not to talk about” that nasty few years they were “someone else” in the army.  My grandfather volunteered to be in the Army and served in the 82nd airborne and we all know the general story of his time and a few little things like how hungry he was that he would eat a boot with onions, but he did not talk about the war with us.  Not with his girls, and 3 of 4 of his kids and 11 out of 12 grandchildren are girls….  I’m always slightly annoyed that he would talk to my boyfriends about it, boys long gone from my life, have a piece of his story that I will never have.  SO that is one of the many reasons I’m going to write down every interesting Grandy story there is.


“During the war my father was too old to volunteer so he quit his job and took one with the USO and moved the family to where he was needed.  I was 14 and my father ran the dance halls so I would dance with the boys.  They didn’t want to go to war, they were just out of high school and pulled from their homes and put into basic and for 6 weeks they were not even allowed to leave base.  I was looked after by all the other older girls who were probably 20 or 25 and I never got in trouble but I saw all these boys desperate for something normal again.

We moved 3 times in 2 years and all I wanted to do was move home to Sayville again.  I started Seton Hall as a freshman but then we left and I wanted to get back to at least graduate.  One place we lived, Montgomery Alabama, was a flight training camp and the city was so crowded that we could not find 2 rooms to live in.  For 3 or 4 months we lived in one large room in a house that had a very big old bathroom and I slept in the bathroom!  For months until we could find something that is where I slept.  Imagine, 14 and sleeping in a bathroom!  There was room for a bed and it wasn’t that bad but still…  I did move home again and my mother came with me, you can’t move by yourself at 16, and I graduated from Seton Hall.  I did all the moving I ever wanted to do during those years and I never left Sayville again.

Looking back it was an adventure.  I learned so much from the boys, the soldiers, abut the war and what was going on.  Too many kids my age didn’t know anything and think I understood Charlie better for it (my grandfather). ….  My father came back a year and a half or two years later but that is a story for another day.”


This is not verbatim but it is her story of 2.5 years roaming around the south doing USO work.  I’m not sure how I would have reacted in the same place but her father was from an Irish military family and I’m sure he felt that he should do something~  I hope I do hear more about this someday :)

Cold weather caution; 10 tips for southern belles

It seems way too early for this and I was hopeful that we would snap out of it but instead of it going away the cold seems to be taking over the entire US (except for FL and HI :P )

thanks WeatherBell

Here in MN it isn’t all that big a deal because our houses are built and we have plenty of warm clothing, but, but all my southern friends are in potentially worse situations even if they are 30 degrees warmer because freezing is still freezing.  (funny story, I went to china and had to watch my packing so I only brought a light jacket figuring I was used to -10 their 30 degrees would feel balmy.  #1 China does not heat all their building and really don’t heat their factories #2 I now own a chinese thermal outfit #3 I’m a giant in china, I had to buy an XXXL)  According to Weatherbell.com it was a record low in far too many places this week…. I fear to read more on her site but this was a good article

This post is far less for my neighbors in MN or even NY but for all my blog friends and readers in the southern states.  Here are some tips I hope help;


1. Really close your windows.  You might think they are closed but make sure the lock is locked, even a tiny crack is drafty.

2. Curtains help insulate, sunlight helps heat.  Figure out when you get lots of light and open blinds, shut them tight if there is no sun or at night.  If you don’t have thick curtains for a bad cold spell hang something up like a blanket just for the short term.

3. Roll up blanket or towels to put along the bottom edges of exterior doors.

4. After doors and windows, walk around and feel for drafts.  We had a major draft from our fuse box and also a light switch on an exterior wall.  Try to cover or insulate wherever you can but just know weird things might be drafty (especially if your house was not built for freezing).

5. Keep a (few) faucet(s) dripping all night.  Moving water is less likely to freeze.  If you want to conserve, stick a container under the drip and use it the next day for your coffee maker or the cats water.  No need to waste but way better then a frozen burst pipe

6. Put thought into your footwear when you are going out.  If you own boots, just bring them, just in case you need to walk for help.  Might also be good to put a blanket in your car just in case

7. If you are in a house NOT built for cold, check out your furnace.  It might be better to set your thermostat at something low like 60 so your system isn’t overburdened.  If it is 15 or 20 degrees outside, your system is making your house 40 degrees warmer (if it is at 60).  Think about the summer, you set your AC at 75, how often is the outside over 100?  That is only cooling 25 degrees….  If your cold, put on a sweater.

8. Wear layers.  It really is warmer to wear 4 thinner layers then one bulky one.  Tights under pants, tank tops under shirt, under sweater…  Wear a hat

9. Electric blankets.  This is down the list since it is not free, but, a cozy electric blanket makes beds very nice.

10. On the subject of beds – any kid mattress that is covered in plastic will be COLD.  Put a warm blanket under their sheet and forgo cute pjs and just dress them in sweat pants and sweat shirt and socks if you know they are not going to stay under covers.

Those are my tips to make cold a bit more comfortable.  Stay safe and warm!


ps. took me 20 days to resort to weather for a blog post :)  tomorrow…. my cat!

I’m a busy bee

Occasionally I feel like I don’t have anything to do.  There are always things I could do but things like laundry, bathrooms, cleaning etc are just not inspiring….  Two weekends ago we were at semi loose ends because our weekend away plans didn’t happen so last weekend I didn’t let go to waste and we did lots of little projects.  This weekend things are going in an upswing as we get ready for thanksgiving visitors and one of those visitors will be building me a pantry in the garage :)


I would say we are building it together but dad has far more actual real life skill in all things building.  We facetimed today to go over the area and look at the site and by mid morning I had a shopping list that will literally require a forklift.  We are building a 7×8 ‘box’ in the rear quarter of our garage.  Inside will be the freezer that already lives in the garage and a ton of organized storage for all the bulk things we like to buy.  It will be semi-heated to stay above freezing so I can put all the jars of tomatoes someplace other than Lars’s office.  It will also be the new home for all non essential kitchen items hopefully freeing up some space in our kitchen.  Step one of this is to demo what is out there now so that is what I’m going to do as soon as I publish this.


Lets hope next time I show you a picture of this area in my garage it is 100x more functional and beautiful


Turkey Tulle wreath; So easy a 6 year old can do it (kinda)

Meet our turkey wreath named Rose Petal Gobbles – named by my three girls and as if you had to ask – she is a female turkey~


I was inspired by pinterest and while I love my fall wreath the kids helped with 2 years ago, I wanted something new….  IMG_3444




1 yard of 4 different colors – I choose two different yellows, orange and pink.  I think it would also look good with a green or blue

2 yards brown


40-45 inches long x 7 inches wide of a neutral colored fabric – I used painters tarp leftover from this project


40-45 inches of heavy wire, or, a wire coat hanger

a whole bunch of grocery bags (or other stuffing)

2 pins

white paper (or google eyes)


Sewing machine


wire snips


needle and thread


1. Wreath form

- Create a 45 inch by 7 inch strip of fabric.  I joined smaller scraps but 45 is a standard width of fabric.  Sew the long sides together creating a long tube.  Right side out the tube.

- cut and insert the wire or hanger, be careful of the ends that might be sharp.

- stuff the tube with plastic grocery bags or any other stuffing you would like (fabric scraps, real stuffing…) I like to find a use for the plethora of bags I feel compelled to keep.  Stuff it until it is firm enough to not ‘squash’ when you tie around it.  Leave apx 3 inches unstuffed at either end to ‘tie’.

- create a circle by twisting/tying the two ends together.  The wire made mine stay without trouble.IMG_3438


2. Plumage

- Pre cut each of the colored tulle.  Measure first, the goal is to get small rectangles long enough to go around the wreath, double knot, and stand out about 1.5 inches. For me to get that length I cut  the tulle first the long way into quarters, then, each resulting strip into quarters (half then half again).  The easiest way to cut tulle is to make sure it is straight and scrunch it together so you cut the entire thing in one snip. *reserve one strip of the yellow for beak

- Pre cut the brown the same as above but reserve a few long pieces (not quartered)

- Start at the knot, that is the bottom/body area.  Working from the knot wrap the tulle around the form and do a simple double knot.  Pull the knot tight and the tails should stand up on their own when the knot is positioned on the outside of the ring.  Repeat for the bottom third of the wreath.

- At the top center begin your pattern and tie each feather in sequence until you meet the brown

- Fluff as you go and judge how tight you like the pattern.  Perfection is not necessary, this was mostly done by my 6 year old~


3. Head

- take two of your reserved strips of brown.  Lay one flat and crumple up the other.  Tie the flat one around the crumpled one to make a little ball with long tails.  Add more if you feel it is too small, it should be in proportion to your wreath.  When you are happy with the size tie it using the tails to the bottom center, directly on the knot.

- Take the reserved yellow and tie it in a knot.  Then another and another to create a bumpy line of knots to make the beak.  Use the remaining tails to go back over the ‘beak’ to make a smooth layer on top.  Tie the ends together with a small strip of red (or pink) tulle.

- Stitch the beak to the head ball.  Just a few stitches should be fine.

- Cut two eye size and shape circles from the paper.  Color in the ‘iris’ with sharpie. Poke pins through the iris into the head ball creating a pupil with the head of the pin, and, attaching the eyes at the same time.

(sorry I didn’t take a close up of the steps)IMG_3444a


4. Hanging

I looped a piece of white yarn center top to hang from our wreath hanger on the door.  Match your yarn/string/ribbon to your door, or, make it a feature – both work.


Ta Da!  My 6 year old helped with the stuffing and did the majority of the tieing.  I did all the cutting and I made the head.


This is the way I did it this time – it is not the easiest way I’m sure but I used basically what I had on hand (aside from tulle).  Here are some thoughts on how you could get a similar good result with other things you might have, or, could easily buy.

- Buy a wreath form.  If you can’t find a neutral color just wrap it in fabric or ribbon or paint it or see how the color looks through the tule

- Instead of making a head you could use a styrofoam ball (painted, wrapped, etc)

- The beak could also be simplified by just cutting out a beak shape from paper and pinning/gluing it on

- Google eyes might be easier but there isn’t much more simple than cutting a circle…

There are endless ways to sub in or out parts of the project and still have it look cute and festive.


If you use these instructions or are inspired by my picture please like a picture of your creation.  I love to share the love of door decoration and in a world that seems to skip from halloween to christmas we can’t just buy a wreath at Target!




Happy Birthday

To my grandmother who turns a number that rhymes with “Lady” and “Hive”.  She has done a ton in her live thus far and is one of the strong women who led by example most of my life.

Way too often referring to Grandy we start or end a sentence with ‘for her age’ and it is sad that her limitations are growing, but, she is still bright and intelligent in the moment (not just for a moment every so often… she forgets things but her logic and reason are always on).  I’m reading a book right now about a women in her mid eighties battling the same memory issues and it is hard to read but also an interesting perspective.  One interesting passage was about when the granddaughter was teasing her, she loved it because she felt that it meant that her granddaughter still thought she was intelligent enough to get the joke.  Now I feel extra validated in my weekly teasing of my grandmother.


I wish I could visit, I wish she could know my kids but what I can do is call her every week.  I’m as part of her routine as she is part of mine.  The family in NY all got together yesterday for a big lunch and I was there for a little via facetime.  I hope today is mellow and fun and festive too as she rolls into the next year.



Giving back my grown up card; I like the Shane Dawson movie “not cool” better than Anna Martemucci “Hollidaysburg”

I’ve mentioned a few times that I have been avidly watching the Stars Original “The Chair” while working out.  Yes, 90% of the time I watched this I was running at 60-70 steps per min (ellipticaling really) so I honestly watched the show far more then when I’m in my living room playing phone or crafting while watching something.  There were days I even ran all 50min just to see the end that is how much I liked The Chair.

Let me lay out my demographic for you (just in case someone new is reading this).  I am female, mid/early 30′s, mother of 3 under 7, MBA, 10+ years in business and 2+ years as a stay at home mom.  I am also a fan of social media, youtube, I’ve watched 100% of the Vlog brothers and some other youtubers of note BUT I never actually watched Shane’s channel so I am pro youtube, but, I’m not innately pro Shane.  I watch a ton of TV both network, premium, Netflix and Amazon prime.  The last movie I saw in the theater was The Lego Movie and before that Frozen (do you see a trend?).  I am a home consumer of entertainment.

I just finished the series tonight and feel compelled to write this because of a few things.

1. The producer said he didn’t feel like this project was a ‘win’.  My reply is I think the scene of entertainment is evolving and I think you ARE winning but it is a slow burn rather then a quick flash.  I didn’t know a thing about this (so ya, you lost there) but I saw it on stars app and gave it a shot and I was captivated by the documentary style of the reality tv show “The Chair”.  I love that they set up the premise of two radically different people directing from the same base script.  I think the way they showed the positives and negatives of both directors fairly and I really liked that they even evaluated themselves in the show by allowing an unbiased break in the 4th wall concept.  I have recommended this show to basically every person I’ve talked to for weeks.  Like Agents of Shield, the movies stand alone but are better because of the TV show but I think the interplay is a real big thing.

2. I’m ticked at the two of Steeltown producers (Steeltown films is behind The Chair and the founders were integral to the 2 movies and ALL were supposed to support BOTH)   that yanked their support – that did change the story from “rah rah we made these two great films come see them” to “there is a divide at the top, lets talk about these famous guys instead of the movies”.  That move was like a mistress in a political race, you end up stop talking about the real issues and focus on the sensational story.  Independent films can’t waste their air time on that… or maybe it was genius because it stirred up the story…


Here is why I liked “Not Cool”;

- I think the cartoon style beginning and more mainstream end shows an evolution in the story from the surreal of coming ‘home again’ to figuring out who you are at home again,  for real.  Yes, the girlfriend and most of the characters are complete characters but it is also a way to view people quickly and not ‘waste’ time on long back story.  The important characters are real and you can dismiss the cartoons and focus on the primaries.  The couple of in between characters in the secondary love story/supporting roles are nicely in the middle with 50/50 cartoon and reality.

- I like the jokes.  Yup.  Giving back the cultured adult card but the zingers that were in there were funny!  I watched the producers, including the 2 that didn’t like it and pulled support, watching the first cut and they laughed too!!!!  The version I watched was polished and fast and quippy and I’ve very glad that editing happened but Shane walked the line and stayed on the PG sophomoric side.  It is funny the same way bad jokes are funny.  I also liked American Pie but I did not like Borat so this one is in that spectrum but just my side of acceptable.

- It gave me something to talk about.  In my opinion a movie should last longer in your life then the 90ish minutes in the theater.  I like brimming with the wow! I HAVE to talk about that joke/character/dance/crazy/funny/sad/touching thing.  Not Cool had that and even the bad parts were incredibly notable even if they are in the “I can’t believe…!” category.

I do NOT like;

- The name of the movie.   I just don’t like it.  It says nothing to me, it isn’t easy to talk about, and it does not seem to relate to the movie all that well.

- The incredibly now references, they are not going to be recognizable or funny way too fast.

I want to be fair and list what I like about Hollidaysburg too but part of the reason I liked “Not Cool” more is because in Hollidaysburg nothing really super stands out, but, here is what I like;

- I liked how pretty it was.  They used way more pretty places and artistic lighting.  It was a soft movie with fuzzy edges.  It also shows off that Pittsburg is a cool looking city and that is not something I really knew and I’ve actually been around there tons of times, I just never looked.

- The movie title is awesome.  I would read more about a movie named Hollisdaysburg.  It is a one word story and entirely successful in my opinion.

- I like the choice to leave out the parents and just have a brother to brother relationship.  That was well done and sweet.

Unfortunately the Not Like list is longer;

- I, like many including Lars (my husband who didn’t watch The Chair, just both movies with me), had a hard time telling the two female leads apart.  If the one didn’t wear the same sad stinky sweat suit the entire time it would have been really really hard.

- The characters all seemed flat, slightly unlikable and slightly unrealistic.  I know the critics say the characters were the best part, but to me, they didn’t read as real, they didn’t read as over the top, they were in an odd middle ground.

- There were some jokes and some situations like the BFF kissing the lead girl and weird pot scenes that were completely out of left field.  They were more distracting because they didn’t fit in then anything else.


The point of the exercise of making two movies from the same material in the same location is to compare them so I don’t feel bad doing so;

I laughed at both but I laughed more in the first 15 minutes of Not Cool then in all of Holidaysburg

I wanted to like Holidaysburg more since I feel like it was aimed more toward me. Anna and I have far more in common and she was so much a part of making the movie that we even watched hers first - while totally watchable it was unremarkable.  I don’t even want to talk about the story because it was dull.  Shane’s movie was anything but dull.  It didn’t tell a novel story either but the script was not novel – it did tell that story in a memorable way.

The bones of both movies were pretty much the same but the choices are wildly different.  I like more of the story structure choices Shane made better.  They both cut things and arranged things but Anna’s movie felt more like an unbalanced ensemble movie, Shane’s had a clear central characters – supporting characters – and window-dressing.


From the perspective of watching The Chair it is interesting to note that I had no real idea what the movies were about until I watched them.  That was very very well done.  The show gave background on some moments but it was surprising to be so surprised by the end product of both movies.  I do love that I can see what notes were taken and what was not and on the whole the professionals were right…


Circling back to the slow burn of success.  I watched this entire thing after the competition was finished and it was still a compelling product for me.  I actually ordered STARS in part because of this.  There are so many shows out there that I can’t watch them all but with Netflix etc I have the ability to watch shows when I have the time.  I will be recommending Not Cool to my friends – I might say “you have GOT to see this Stupid Funny movie” but I can’t say I’ll be recommending Holidaysburg other then the fact that they go together for the experiment value.


Sorry this got really long but I just have to say bottom line I love the concept of The Chair and I think the brains behind it are brilliant – Go Chris Moore, you rock.