Welcome to my coffee shop in the cyber neighborhood!

The Chronicles of Nani On Video

I am overcoming my inability to type with my ability to talk (and talk and talk and talk) I'll be posting a video every week on my YouTube channel. I'll be posting those videos here too along with an occasional regular blog in the mix. (As long as my hands are up to doing the extra typing.)

You'll be able to watch the videos here, but I encourage you to stop by my channel at YouTube once I'm up and running to follow me and get my numbers started!

Welcome to my coffee shop in Cyber Space
Try the latte with a slice of black forest cake!

Contact Nani at

Friday, February 26, 2010

International Furbaby Weekend

It’s snowing. It’s been snowing all day. I’ll repeat that last part with the correct emphasis; ALL DAY!

::sigh:: I am sick to death of all of this snow. I mean, it’s the end of February. Opening Day is less than six weeks away! Curse the Ground Hog! Note to Buckeye Chuck and all his furry buds – USE YOUR TEETH! When your slumber is disturbed on as chilly morning because the sunlight is shining in your eyes and you see a hand reaching to grab you BITE IT! You go back to sleep without seeing your shadow and we all do a happy dance because spring is coming sooner rather than later. To allow yourself to be pulled out of bed to see your shadow when God gave you teeth to fend off the intruders is just a flagrant abuse of power.

Actually, this year it would have been kinder to bite that hand and send the shadow to Vancouver so they wouldn’t have had slush issues during the beginning of the Olympics. Selfish ground hogs.

But this blog entry is not to grouse about the ground hogs. As an optimist, I may hate the snow that’s been taunting me all day, but it’s keeping the people who clean the snow employed. Food delivery services make more when the weather is icky too and the drivers get tipped better when it’s a snowy day. I will remind the delivery people to drive safer in the bad weather and to the people ordering - tip like you didn't want to go our and drive in it!

But this blog is about an important holiday weekend! This weekend is International Furbaby Weekend! It’s a holiday I just created to get over the snowy day blues. This holiday is all about showing off your Furkids! In honor of the holiday weekend, I want you to leave a comment telling us about your furbaby, linking to pictures of your four-legged domestic companions or to your blog post about your pets and this holiday!

Here are our kids. I just did a page for each of them for my 2010 scrapbook with recent photos, so it works to be just in time for the Holiday!

Baggle is our senior cat, the retired alpha who retains his rule at the food bowl!

Credits: Papers from Black and White Birthday by Kris Myers,
other elements from Lily May by Kitty Cat Designs,
Red Gel Alpha by Marie at freedigitalscrapbooking

Kaline is the Queen. She’s kind to Baggle in letting him remain “Lord of the Food” and kind to Carla too, most of the time.

Credits: Papers – Creamsicle by Wenchd Grafix ,
Elements from Flowers Blooming collab by the designers at Scrap Bird,
alpha – Puddles of Sunshine by EvaK Designs

Carla is the baby of the family. She’ll be 2 in September. Don’t let her adult build fool you! She still has a lot of kitten left in her and she is always starving for attention!

Credits: Neon Funk by Creations by Rachel,
Live, Laugh, Love alpha by Kimberkatt Scraps

Your Present!

Now, what would a holiday be without presents? To get you in the mood for National Furbabies Weekend, here is some appropriate word art for tour scrapbook pages or for your blog!

Click on preview for download page
Password is purrrr

Don’t forget to leave your links to your furkids or tell us all a little about them in comments. Aw! Thinking about all our great Furbabues is making me feel happier and warmer already!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Photoblog Wednesday

Valentine's Day Observed
February 21, 2010

This is my coffee-shot for Sunday, my M&Ms Valentine Mug from a few years ago accented by the roses David brought me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Nani's Food Roots

Yesterday I cooked a bit of my roots and David and I enjoyed the fruits of that labor for lunch before he went to wo0rk today. David and I are the opposite side of the Green Acres coin from the old TV show. I grew up knowing what a McDonald’s hamburger tasted like, that restaurant by the bowling alley was where the family splurged for a good steak and fish was perch or trout that we caught ourselves when we were camping. Also, growing up a 20-minute drive away from my Noni, I had never ever thought about spaghetti sauce in a jar!

Mom had taken advantage of learning some cooking tricks from her Mother-in-law early on. Those tricks included tips for spaghetti sauce. Noni’s sauce was excellent, prepared different ways with different meats. She used ground or chopped beef, sometimes pork and during lent, tuna. She also often used peas and always mushrooms in her sauce. Noni’s “cheat” was sometimes a sprinkle of chicken base with the spices. Mom’s was always ground beef and while she used the mushrooms, never peas! Mom always picked the peas out of Noni’s sauce when we ate there. Her cheat was using Lawry’s packaged seasonings as her base and adding frm there. And yes, authentic homemade sauce simmers for a few hours to properly blend the flavors! That’s why “from a jar” is unthinkable!

For this past Christmas, my brother, Dave, canned a bunch of his sauce and gave it as gifts. Dave’s sauce is a little bit of Noni, Mom and Dad with his own touch. The biggest difference between Mom’s sauce and Dad’s is wine and Dad isn’t brand-loyal like Mom was to Lawry’s. Pop uses a bottle of wine when he makes sauce, about a third in the sauce and the rest in the cook! Dave’s sauce is more wine in the sauce and rest in the cook and his wife. Dave's sauce also has a little less ground beef than Mom’s did and he uses the peas. My brother’s sauce was good, but for my taste the wine was a little overkill. But it did make me think about Mom’s sauce and it gave me the bug to make my own.

David is not from that Italian background. He always made spaghetti with sauce from a jar with added ground beef. He uses a decent Eye-talian sauce, which is fine for a quick American spaghetti dinner and we do eat that at home. Note the distinction. Eye-talian is a common heard American mispronunciation of Italian and how I distinguish Italian influenced from actual Italian food. Yesterday, I made a pot of real Italian spaghetti sauce!

My sauce is a ground beef sauce and I used McCormick seasonings as a spice base for my cheat because I couldn’t find Lawry’s at the Kroger where I bought everything else. I added additional garlic powder, oregano and basil too. My signature in the prep comes at the very beginning; I start with a tablespoon of olive oil and brown two tablespoons of minced garlic and a chopped red onion before adding the ground beef to brown. Then I drain the grease off all of it to add with the tomato products and seasonings for cooking.

It turned out pretty good. Nah, forget the humble on this one; I was VERY pleased! There are a couple of small spice tweaks I want to do next time and I want to find the Lawry’s seasoning to put a little more of Mom in my sauce! The most important test was lunch. I like this sauce and prefer homemade to jar anyway. I can start the sauce at six and let it simmer until bedtime. It doesn't take hours of prep, just hours of simmer! The judgement from David was favorable, as long as I don't spice it up any more than it was today. YAY!

Now my brother has ideas that his sauce recipe should be kept a family secret and just passed down. I think that's mean - it puts pressure on people to make babies whether or not they want to so the recipe doesn't fade away. Besides, the cats don’t cook, although Baggle, our red-sauce nut, cleaned a plate after lunch and seemed to really like it!

So after some fine-tuning, I’ll be posting the recipe for my sauce at Davlicious Recipes. After all, nothing great will be remembered unless it’s shared!

But I’m a Happy Hick!

When I graduated from high school, over a half a year before I turned 18, I had a list of places I wanted to see, places I wanted to think about living. One of those places was New York City. I just knew I was the kind of city-child who’d really thrive in the biggest metropolis in the country. I’d walk city blocks to my office in heels, I’d eat gourmet food and dine in the trendiest restaurants and I’d see every art gallery and cultural icon and love it all.

That was just over 27 years ago. The world was my oyster then. Now I realize that I don’t like oysters and I don’t have to pretend I do to be great!

I’m not at all saying anything negative about the birthplace of the man I love. New York is a wonderful place! I’ve always enjoyed it when we visit family, but that whole part of the country is too…too not quite Nani.

I love watching the incredible pace things happen, people attending multiple parties in a weekend evening during the holidays, people crowding into trains and making connections with seconds to spare to get in just in time for the first pitch at a ballgame, veering off the crowd on the sidewalk to get in line for a coffee, it’s amazing to watch! I guess that‘s the problem with me. I’d like to watch because I often fee like a lost country bumpkin! Thank goodness I have David and family and friends to guide me!

It’s not just my knee problems that make me feel this way. The first time I visited New York was before that. It’s that I realize that the city would swallow me whole and spit me out in pieces, mostly in New Jersey, where I’ve heard a number of New Yorkers say the weak are sent for rehabilitation. Okay, I’ve heard some New Yorkers say less flattering than that about New Jersey, but I have no reason to believe them. As a Michigander for 40 years, where we said the same things about Ohio, where I love living now, I know better!

I can actually keep up pretty well in art and classical music appreciation discussions in New York City and it’s neighboring states. But I can’t join in a talk about fashion or the newest restaurants on the scene or fine decorating. Truth is I often look at other people dressed to go to some restaurant or cultural event we go to and realize that I really need to do something about my wardrobe and dining can represent it’s own difficulties!

We went to a nice place in Connecticut after Kay’s memorial with a more typical gourmet-type menu. As one who doesn’t eat red meat, any kind of game and I don’t care for the more trendy fish either, it scales down nicer restaurant menus pretty quick! There was one item that made my mouth almost water to read the description, though. Pork tenderloin medallions prepared with a maple braised vegetable and sweet potatoes. YUM! So when the waitress asked for order, I asked for that. Then my “hick” tendencies resurfaced.

“How would you like that prepared, rare or medium rare?”
I’m sure I must have had that lost look on my face. I mean, pork. RARE? And the choice was rare or medium rare??

I smiled and said, as a question to be sure she heard my order correctly, “pork tenderloin?”

I was told it’s usually prepared medium rare. The chef does an excellent job.

(Gomer, ‘d’joo bring the ketchup??)

I know me. If the pork, if any meat, arrived in front of me with any pink to it at all, I wouldn’t eat anything on the plate. That’s just me, my taste. I thought quickly. I didn’t want to make a scene or be insulting, so I told her I was just this side of vegetarian and if I eat meat I have to have it done really well.

Save – I came off as weird instead of a bumpkin! Oh, and the well-done pork tenderloin medallions were incredibly delicious!

I love the family I married into and I like the part of the country from where my husband comes, I just don’t really fit. Well, it’s obvious I’m not native!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Monday Mug Shot

Giant Starbucks Mug

This is a mug that really is all about the true meaning of coffee to me. It was a gift from my best friend.

Kelly and I have been on a few Best Friends trips over the many years of our friendship. Our first “just us” trip was a fishing expedition in the late 80s. We had to get pictures of us baiting hooks because the guys wouldn’t believe we’d touch worms! Silly guys! Yes, I fished off the dock in 2” heeled pumps, but I was still a grownup tomboy! Of course I baited my own hook! At that time, Kel was a little more grossed out by the worms than I was, although she wore the much more sensible for fishing shoes, but now, she fishes on a much more regular basis than me!

Marriages and moving and money have kept us apart more than we want and traveling less than we want, but our bond is so strong that we can live our separate lives, keep each other up on things and get together never missing a beat of that kindred spirit that unites us. I have long called Kelly my platonic soul mate. No matter what the distance, we’re there when we need each other, be it a long letter or email, a hone call or an all night drive. When I’m away from my best friend too long, I start to feel that emptiness that only she can fill. When we’re together, I feel that connection inside that makes everything okay. That’s the soul mate part.

Coffee, when shared between best friends, is a magic elixir. It’s a truth serum accompanied by the guarantee that any secrets you air will be kept tight. I holds memories like the penseive in Harry Potter that brings you to relive the good ones and reforgive the bad ones. It lets you laugh and cry with no inhibitions and when best friends have coffee together, they’ll tell you no one else have ever had coffee that good before!

Kelly and I were able to go on a couple of trips in 2004 and 2005. In 2004, I found and out of print book by Starbucks, The Love of Coffee for her. I loved my copy and really wanted to give her one! That same trip, when I gave her that book, she’d found me a huge Mensa mind twisters Puzzle book. We laughed at our book exchange! In 2005, she brought me this mug. She called it just a little thing. Her love for me was way bigger than the mug, which holds about three regular cups of coffee!

Kel and I met at Dunkin Donuts and shared coffee the first time we met. Over the miles and years, we’ve shared many a cup of coffee and all the intimate details best friends share with a good cup of joe. I’m sure there will be many more coffees for us at Dunkin, Starbucks or rocking on the porch in a to go cup at Cracker Barrel, one thing for sure, it will be, as it always has been, the richest and finest roast we ever drank

Planning Ahead

I’m going to share a couple scrapbook layouts this morning and talk about the good and bad jobs I do in planning ahead. First I’ll tell you that, yes, this is a stall because I haven’t written the Monday Mug Shot yet. I think I know which mug and the story though, that’s half the work! I’ll write it up thus afternoon. It turns out that I will have some extra time because of something I DID plan ahead correctly! I have stuff I need to do for Grandma’s estate in Michigan. I was going to do what I needed to in Livonia and then meet Tracy for dinner on the way home. We planned this contingent on the weather. Well, slushy snow is all over the ground and they are calling for maybe more snow, maybe ice. I don’t want to be driving home from the Motherland at night in that. We rescheduled that proactively yesterday.

Speaking of snow! That something else we planned ahead that worked great! Remember that nasty snow I mentioned? The one we left early for Connecticut to avoid? We returned almost a week later. In that time, we of course needed the kids' sitter to come in and visit them. We needed the tons of snow that was starting to fall in our driveway when we left at least cleared out enough for Lillian to get in to see her grandcats and the idea of reduced snow for us to trudge through with bags when we got home was a wonderful idea too, let alone needing to shovel it would be a nasty welcome for David! I did some calling the day before to see what the financial damage would be if I could get someone to come in and do it.

Now comes the unsolicited testimonial part! I contacted Rapid Snow Removal in Toledo. I told then I wanted to get price and availability information. I explained that we were going to be out of town for a funeral and we have a cat sitter who’d need in and out access while we were gone. A few questions and answers were exchanged and I told them I wanted the driveway plowed, the sidewalk in front of the house shoveled and the steps to the side door. I was quoted an incredibly nominal amount with only ten dollars additional to salt everything. I was also offered to have a photograph of the house when it was finished sent via text. I accepted and contracted them to do the job as soon as the snow stopped falling. I made the payment with my PayPal account.

Once the snow had stopped, just after I’d received a text that school was going to be closed for the second day in a row and we were beginning to shovel out of Ben’s drive in Connecticut, I got this photo text:

When we got home, our driveway still looked great! In fact it warmed up a little so the salt could really do it's job and it was mostly DRY! It lightly snowed a couple of times since then and nothing stuck in the drive or on the steps! FABULOUS!

When we have an appreciable snow again, I’m definitely calling Rapid Snow Removal again. Even when we’re home, I can’t do the walking at all to help and David ends up doing all the snow removal. So, when it’s a big snow, my compensated blog posts will cover me subcontracting my share of the snow shoveling and David can stay in warm, dry and not in any overexerting danger. For that I love my sponsors for the feeling of personal value I can have at home. Sacrificing a little of my coffee money for snow removal is so worth it for that! I also love Rapid Snow Removal for the fantastic job they did for such a reasonable cost!

Now in closing this “plan ahead” blog, I want to show you a couple of scrapbook layouts. No, they aren’t about planning ahead, they ARE planning ahead!

I take lots of photos, some silly photos and some that never make it onto a scrapbook page, but I have a folder of “extra layouts" in which some of those fun photos often end up featured. Extra layouts are one-page layouts that don’t really have a time stamp and can be put into a book anywhere. I don’t always scrap in order, in fact, as I’ve told before, I’m scrapping up from 2007 and back from now with the plan to meet in the middle and be caught up. Sometimes, a 2-page layout just fits for some subjects and events or when I have a surplus of good photos in a particular folder. When I order my printed books, 2-page layouts must be even number-odd number in the placement or they will be front and back of the page instead of pages facing each other. When that doesn’t work, in comes an extra page! I slide the extra into that book’s folder just before the 2-page spread and it lines everything up. That may not seem like such a big deal, but having the folder of extra pages, allows be to keep moving without messing with my creative flow in a certain folder of photos.

Here is one fun page I did as an extra:

Credits: background paper from my stash,
designer unknown, sorry! Butchered lyrics by me

David or I will buy one lottery ticket when the jackpot is really high once in a while. A rate which will never win us immeasurable millions of dollars, but, well, ya never know!

This next one isn’t so much an extra page, but because it documents a few weeks, it can be inserted before or after other pages in the same time frame. This is the answer to Edna’s question in comments about that post I wrote last month for Zenni Optical. Yes Edna. I really did fall and bruise my entire left side of my face! I was so grateful that I didn’t break any facial bones, just a nasty bone bruise that still hurts a little if I nudge it right with my hand, but oh, I sure was scary-looking for a few weeks!

Credits: Credits: Kit: Cocoa Blush by Scrap Kitten,
Template: 12 of 12 by Urban Mom Scraps

Fonts: Make Me Alpha, Courier New, Angelina, Comic Sans,
Celebrate The Day, Champagne and Limousines, Juice

Okay, after that, I need coffee!

Rapid Snow Removal - Simply the BEST in Toledo!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Retiring Freebies & A New Freebie

Okay, so remember when I said I was going to give freebies a shelf life of a year, then retire them? Well, I slipped a bit on that! But it means several freebies have gotten a little longer to live and a little longer to give, so it’s not an awful thing. Ah, but all good tings eventually come to pass and all free things…well, remain free, but not available! So it is with today’s list!

The following list is the 29 freebies that are over a year old and scheduled to retire on February 28. There are full kits, templates, quick pages, word arts and other elements. If you’re new to The Chronicles of Nani, you might want to use the right click, click and hold on a Mac, to open the links in a new tab so you can download the freebies or better yet, have a cup of coffee and read the blog while you’re downloading, but keep track of this index page!

Freebies that retire on February 28, 2010:

Dandelions and Thistle

Heart of Glass

Frame-It and Write-It

Dandelions and Thistle Quick Page

Daddy’s Little Girl

Daddy’s Little Girl – Grownup Little Princess Word Art

Daddy’s Little Girl – Quick Page by Miss Edna

Daddy’s Little Girl – Journal Folder

Letters From Home – full kit and all the extras

Letters From Home add-on

I Cross My Heart – full kit and all the extras

I Cross My Heart add-on

I Cross My Heart Brag Book Pages

I Cross My Heart – Quick Page by RC Mama Designs

Fall Splendor

Indian Summer Recipe Cards

Thank You – SASy Lady Contest 2008 Cast Party Swag Bag

Four Corners Template

Word Art Treats

Photo Train Template

The Old Stuff

The Old Stuff Brag Book Pages

Apples and Wine

Song of Angels Snow Globe

Christmas Around the World 2008

My Blue Heaven Brag Book Pages

Project 365 Template (January 2009)

Eight Days a Week Quick Page

Nani’s Half-Birthday Gift

Just a note in case you’re reading this page and it’s after 2/28/10 - I have all the freebies archived on disk. If you are new to The Chronicles of Nani and see a retired freebie, you can still get it. Just drop me an email at chroniclesofnani@gmail.com and I can get it to you! Now I will get back to those emails requesting retired freebies as time allows and I ask that you request no more than three per email. If there are more than three, you’ll need to send multiple emails. Just send the freebie title and link to the original page it’s on. I’m sorry, but I will not honor requests without links to The Chronicles of Nani original entry or emails with more than 3 freebies requested.

Now, after a while in the old freebies, how about a new one?

I’ve been doing some extra little pieces for the layouts I’ve been catching up. There are trends in the Scrapbooking world, but there are also trends in the Nani world. As has always been true with me, my trends are either a little behind or ahead of the times, but seldom spot-on. While I have always loved the time-honored use of significant quotes on my pages, I never thought I’d really get into using multiple fonts and when I first started digi-scrapping, I hated the shabby look of worn, folded or wrinkled papers and paper elements. Now for some layouts I love the worn look and I’m having much fun using word art and creating my own. So the pieces in More Than Words, today new little freebie reflect some of my evolution as a scrapper. I hope you have some use for the little freebie!

Click preview to go to download
Password is shouts

I’d love your thoughts on my little bits here at The Chronicles of Nani, preferably here, I don’t get to 4Shared to read them so often, but I love reading your comments!

I’m slowly getting ready to do a new kit. I have a special layout that I want to do and I think the reason I haven’t been able to find a kit I like for it, it’s because I have to create the kit myself. But I’m still always making templates and elements as part of my catch-up goals, so look for more new stuff to replace the retiring freebies!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Better Things

I’m enjoying the turnaround in things lately. I really do believe strongly in the power of positive thinking and it’s held me up again, where could have been brought way down, as it has many times. At it’s simplest staying positive is seeing the “but” in everything, realizing that it really could be worse when it’s bad and being grateful for the good things you still have. I think I might be a bit of a basket case if I hadn’t become somewhat of a master at it.

In the last few weeks, I’ve done poorly on my first test of the semester, had quite a few non-Wife 1500 compliant days and fallen behind n the scrapbook catching-up plan. That’s okay. I crammed that test in the middle of tending to my responsibilities for Grandma. I don’t regret that. Traveling for funerals/memorials and all of the necessary preparation made planning careful eating almost impossible. We even had a family dinner of fried chicken one night in Connecticut. When family is opening their doors to you, you don’t ask to be treated special at dinner. You take the fried skin off the chicken and load up on the asparagus! I don’t regret not being the ugly sister-in-law either.

Things are getting back on the track of organized now. I‘ve been having some major knee and back trauma. That pain is chronic right now and I live with it, but my back muscles have been really weak, so I’m not so up for going to the store. But we do have enough in the way of frozen, boxed and canned stuff that I’ve been able to get back on a solid Wife 1500 menu. I have a vitamin order coming in that will help too. I’m out of my glucosamine and condroitin and I’m adding vitamin C and E with my daily B12. These are all vitamins that increase oxygen, circulation and help to increase muscle strength.

I hope that I can feel up to getting to the grocery store tomorrow, at least for a short trip. I am dying for some fresh fruit and veggies! Specifically I want oranges, bananas, salad and zucchini. Well, okay, I always want zucchini! But I need to get the fixins for Valentines Day too!

No, my calendar isn’t broken. David and I were traveling home on Valentines Day, so we decided to celebrate it this Sunday. I’ll cook our traditional Lovers Shrimp Scampi and I need to make a call to Baskin Robbins to order a mini ice cream cake for dessert. We’ll still get our romantic evening for the holiday. We did share some half-off chocolates in heart-shaped boxes, but roses and shrimp don’t go on a half-off sale, neither do ice cream cakes. I hope I still get my flowers, but the romance is what’s important!

I’m hoping to get my catch-up plan running smoothly again on Saturday while David is working. I’ve still been dong 2007 layouts, but not quite one a day. I have kept up with Java 365 and I’ve been keeping up with them thanks to the Project 365/52 challenges at Digital Scrapbooking Studio and My Life and Scrap. A good challenge is a super way to keep you on top of things!

I haven’t posted my Java layouts since week 3, but I’ve been doing them! Here is the update:

Week 4
Credits: Papers from Morning Mocha collab
by Little Red Scraps and Nibbles Scribbles,
Template Project 365 J2 by Digitalegacies Designs
Week 5
Credits: Cozy Winter by Brenda at Millstream Cottage,
journal mat from Paperscraps Journal Papers by mITSYBELLE,
coffee tag on hook by Eileen Gery, other elements from
Morning Mocha collab by Nibbles Scribbles and Little Red Scraps
I just loved the shadow box in Brenda’s kit! I moved just a couple of the dividers and it became a perfect frame for the week!

Week 6
Credits: Kit – January 2010 PDW Color Challenge by Bubbles Babbles,
Template 30 by Sweet Tomato Designs,
Font: Lima Bean

Of course even if late, when you see a Digitalegacies template in the credits, like in Week 4, it usually means a freebie. After reading all of my woes today, don’t you think you deserve a freebie?

Click to preview to go to the download.
The password is more-coffee.

As always, I LOVE comments at The Chronicles of Nani and if you use any of Digitalegacies stuff, I’d love to see your work!

Stay tuned to The Chronicles of Nani for an answer to Edna’s query about the black eye I mentioned in a sponsor-post a couple weeks ago and another freebie I’m finishing up.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Photoblog Wednesday

Nap-time: Carla and Kaline

We have waited three and a half months to take this photo!!!
Now, I want a three-shot!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Great Women Are Not A New Idea

As I told you about, it’s been a sad and stressful time in my world. In two week’s time, David and I have celebrated the lives of and said ”goodbye” to two very important women to us. But I’m mourning, healing and moving on. It would be such a dishonor not to.

In 1925, Wonda Lemonovich and Kathryn Patch were born just days apart in different geographical, economic and social American worlds, but with the same walls facing them in the way those worlds looked at the “limitations” they were born with because of their gender.

The World War 2 era did not force either of these women into a role of assertiveness or leadership and it didn’t make them have to ”act” intelligent. It made it possible for them each to allow their natural abilities to shine and never hide them again.

For Kay, it was a position with a federal agency that gave her status, rank and travel. Then she went to law school while still working for the government, finishing with the highest marks in her class.

Grandma eloped at 19 years old and her only child was born while her husband was stationed with the Navy in the Pacific. She was effectively surviving as a single parent in the mid 40s! When her husband came home and after their daughter started school, she started working outside of the home in retail for the Kresgee Company. When they took the initiative to move women into management positions, Grandma was one of the first they asked.

Neither one grew up to meet the expectations of the typical baby girl born in 1925.

In 1966, I met Wonda Lemonovich. I was the first of her two grandchildren. I was loved and spoiled as grandchildren usually are, but the greatest gift Grandma gave me was something I wouldn’t even realize she was or could give until I was an adult. Grandma gave me the best definition of “normal” a girl could ever ask to grow up with.

Women are just as strong as men. Women have the same courage as men. Women are intelligent, skilled and driven, just like men. A woman is as capable on her own as a man is on his own, but to be truly in love and build a successful marriage where you put in just as much as he does is something to really strive to find and not something to settle for anything less than perfect for you. A woman cooks for her spouse when he’s working later and is always welcomed with a hot meal on the table when she is. Women set examples that many men and other women will follow. A woman earns professional respect from her superiors and subordinates be cause she works for it. A woman can do, can have, anything she wants. All she has to do is go for it.

That was the definition of “normal” I grew up with. I fight for things I believe just “should be” because I really can’t imagine them not being that way. I don’t give up, I don’t settle. That’s just not normal. I have been successful as a student, an employee and a manger. I feel pretty respected by the people in my world and I’ve never heard “for a girl,” as a qualification from anyone who mattered unless it was in jest. Grandma adored the man I told her was finally someone I could love like she loved Papa. I’m a pretty normal person. Thanks to Grandma, I’m normal because I KNOW, I can do anything.

With her consuming professional commitments, Kay married a generation later than Grandma did and had her first child just weeks before Grandma’s first grandchild was born. It was many years after 1966 that I met Kay for the first time, but that first child of hers was key in our meeting! Kay and I met at Christmastime in 2005. That first child was bringing me home to introduce his family to his girlfriend.

Kay’s mental and health decline had started before we met, but I remember that she was friendly and giving of herself and her time. She sat with me and we talked. She was eager to know me, to approve of the new woman in her son’s life. Some of the things she said were reminiscent of things my Great-grandmother said when she was in the beginning of her mental decline, but there was a strength and a warmness in her eyes I couldn’t help but feel, I couldn’t help but recognize. It was that same strength I grew up knowing in Grandma. Kay had been a powerful woman and still was.

In the few years that followed, I saw her mental and physical condition worsen, but I also saw a smile of recognition and love when she was at lunch or visited by both of her sons together. In all of her accomplishments, they were still the ones in which she seemed to have the greatest pride.

At her memorial service, David and his brother, Ben, both shared thoughts and stories of their Mother. Part of David’s included sharing emails he’d received from people who weren’t able to be there. One of the emails was from Vanessa, David’s ex-wife. Vanessa had the privilege of knowing Kay when her health was good and her mind still keen.

Vanessa described her former mother-in-law as a “superior person.” She said there were two kinds of superior people. The first kind was one who made you feel smaller in their presence. The second made you feel as if you were more. She said Kay was the latter of the two, that she made people feel richer for having known her. I truly believe that.

I remember after meeting Kay, telling Grandma about her. She always asked me how David’s Mom was when we talked on Monday nights. Kay was already in assisted living, but Grandma mentioned many times that she’d love to have the opportunity to meet her. At the end of last year, Ben and David were making plans to move Kay to a nursing facility nearer to David and also less costly than where she was with the same level of care. Grandma had been living at Caretel Inns in Linden, Michigan, and I had mentioned the wonderful care she was getting there at just below average costs for a nursing facility in Michigan. A room was open and Kay moved there just last month. Sadly, Grandma and Kay could have sat at the same table and not realized it by then.

When we brought Kay in, I spent some time with Grandma and told her that she was a neighbor now. She acknowledged that, but I don’t think she really understood that I meant Kay was living just down the hall from her. A week later, Grandma had a stroke over night and was in very bad shape. I knew it was nearing the end.

After spending some time with Grandma, who opened here eyes once, but didn’t really seem to see me, I kissed her goodbye and told her I loved her. Then David and I walked down to the TV area where Kay was. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, “Hi Kay!” She didn’t recognize me, but she seemed to know I was someone she was pleased to see because she gave that warm smile I loved to see from her so much.

That ended up being the last time I saw them both. Grandma passed just a couple days later and Kay’s heart rate had drastically fallen soon after we returned from the funeral and she too left us.

Emotionally we’re a little emptier for the losses, but the world is definitely better and richer for the barriers these two great women refused to even notice.

David wrote both the obituaries.

Grandma’s Obituary:
Kay’s Obituary:

Extended Stimulus: $6,500 Tax Credit

This is cool information to have if you are looking into or are in the process of moving and I know I’ve been reading blogs that tell of people moving. The US government’s tax credit for first-time homebuyers that was scheduled to expire in November 2009 has been extended!

In the extension, the 2010 Tax Buyer Credits, which go until April 30, 2010, with a closing by June 30, 2010, first-time homebuyers are eligible for an $8,000 credit. First-time homebuyers are defined as anyone who has not owned a home in the past three years. But there’s more, more of us included in the tax credits! If you are a current homeowner, you may qualify for a $6,500 Tax Credit. To qualify for the “move-up” credit, you must have lived in your home for five of the past 8 years.

The income limitation to be eligible for the credit is $125,000 a year for an individual and $225,000 annually for a family. The new home you’re purchasing must be valued below $800,000. It’s a pretty large sphere of eligibility.

According to information I read at the Coldwell Banker site, buying a new home not only helps in creating new jobs or at least creating some job security for people, but one new home purchase adds up to $60,000 to the local economy. Just in case buying a new home and the tax credit isn’t enough to make you feel good!

So, if you’re moving into a new home soon or thinking about making a switch, click that link above and check it out! A little credit never hurts!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Long Time No Write!

My Mother did tell me that when you don’t have anything nice to say, better to say nothing at all…unless you can make good changes by speaking up! Unfortunately the last few weeks haven’t been ones where I could affect any changes at all. I just needed time to deal with things.

You know from my last posted entry that my Grandma passed away on January 26. I had crammed my first test in for my XHTML/CSS class, that is I took it quick and distracted the very day before Grandma passed. As far as the grade goes, well, it’s a grade I didn’t think they gave in college because I hadn’t seen one since I was in high school. It brought my semester grade down more than a full letter! That was the very smallest of my challenges.

I had thank you cards to send after the funeral and so many things to attend to with Grandma’s estate, but a week, to the day, after Grandma passed and just after we got back from her funeral, David called me from the hallway at work. His Mom had just passed away. There was one funeral for my relatives and one for his, but two for us in a span of 2-1/2 weeks, one him holding me together and on me returning the support.

Yeah. I’ve been a little too wrapped up in life stuff to blog!

We just got back from our unexpected trip to Connecticut a couple hours ago. I have another test this week, due by Wednesday, that I’ll be really consumed with preparing for tomorrow, so the Monday Mug Shot will return next week, but I ought to have things back on track for Photoblog Wednesday.

In the next few days look for a little about two wonderful, progressive women born in 1925, who touched my world with my admiration for their accomplishments and gratefulness for their loving and nurturing maternal fruits as well. There is also scheduled a look at progress on Java 365 with at least one freebie this week, My “country bumpkin” showing with pondering in shock, “pork tartare?” and my thoughts on becoming the family matriarch.

Back SOON!