Sometimes It’s Okay to Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

It just doesn’t seem like spring until Easter Sunday.  Can you believe we actually had sunshine on Easter Sunday in Oregon?  I got an email from my good friend, Fancy Nancy, telling me that after church Sunday it rained cats and dogs in Dallas.  Just can’t help but gloat a little bit since our Texas friends were bragging to me that when we were having snow in April they were having blue skies and 80 degree weather.

I hope all of you had as sweet an Easter as we did at our house.  This year Conor, the baby of our family, experienced his first Easter egg hunt.  Out of our six grandchildren only three believe they aren’t “too old” to participate in this traditional ritual.  Here is a pictorial of the big hunt;

Here are the "Super Six" from left to right Soccer Boy, Improv Actor, Bling Bling Girl, Princess Goldy Locks, Horse Woman and Action Man.

Okay, I may be bragging a little bit...but isn't this one of the sweetest families you've ever seen? And there's not an ugly one in the bunch!

"Enough of the picture taking already, those chocolate eggs are calling my name!"

Action Man listens intently as Dad gives him a few tips on where to find the biggest eggs.

Princess Goldy Locks has no problem putting all her eggs in one basket.

Forget the little pink basket, Action Man prefers a shopping bag for his treasures.

Soccer Boy is stunned when Bling Bling Girl announces now that she's turning nine, this may possibly be her final Easter egg hunt.

Action Man pays no attention to his big sister's advice about taking the wrapper off the candy before you eat it.

Ta daaah! Princess Goldy Locks also likes to put all her candy in one bag.

Improv Actor reflects on the Easter egg hunts of his youth.

Goat Lady and Tech Man are smiling because all the mess from the Easter egg hunt is at Grandma's house.

This concludes the great Easter egg pictorial at our house.  All that’s left to say is that our family wishes your family all the blessings and goodness that our risen savior makes available to you.  Have a beautiful life and a wonderful spring.



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It is Finished!

It’s hard to believe but we actually moved into the new beach house a week ago.  Many thanks to all the members of our family who showed up to help us set up house keeping.  I spent the entire week decorating.  It was glorious.  And to make things even more special the weather was gorgeous.  I even strolled the beach in my shirt sleeves.  For anyone who is familiar with the Oregon and Washington Coast in late winter, you know how unusual that is.

The house is still sparsely furnished in some rooms but we don’t care…..hey we’re at the beach…who cares about furniture right?  Well, that philosophy use to work for me in my youth; however, now that I am …well, let’s just say I’m not a youngster any more, I find that comfort is far more important to me.  Soooo, more furniture is on order and should arrive in a few weeks.  Even though the decorating is incomplete, the deck is yet to be built and grass to be planted I thought you might enjoy a photo tour.

Welcome to Clam Shell Cottage!

As you enter through the garage be so kind as to "Place Shoes Here".

As you pass through the garage say hi to Mopar Man and Lar Bear who are working feverishly to install the new garage door opener."Well, hello. Come on in and I'll fix you a nice cup of hot coffee and if you're like Fancy Nancy you'll want a fresh hot apple fritter from our local bakery.

As you can see, the living room couch and love seat have not arrived as of yet; however, you're welcome to pull up an adirondak chair if you like.

Have you discovered the Upscale Consignment store yet? We purchased this entertainment armoire at a price you wouldn't believe. Doesn't it look just "beachy".

This is the southeast corner of the living room. I purchased this flower pot at a charity auction several years ago and added it to the decor because it goes so perfectly with the floral cushions on the adirondak chairs.

This is our little phone table. I didn't really want a phone in the living room; however, the workman did not consult with me before installing the phone jack. Ah well, one must roll with the punches sometimes in order to maintain the tranquility that being in a beach cottage should engender.

Come into the kitchen and talk to me while I prepare some delicious sea food chowder.

These lovely little cabbage dishes are a gift from Fancy Nancy so I just had to find a special place for them at Clam Shell Cottage. I made the little topiary ball by gluing moss onto a styrofoam ball and sticking it into a pot. I bought the plant stand at Marshall's for $4 (it was missing a piece) and hot glued the plant and basket to the top. What would modern civilization be without glue guns?

Would you mind setting the table while I serve up the chowder?

We chose a massive dining room table to accomodate large family gatherings.  When our kid’s were small we use to spend every spring break vacation at the little cabin owned by Mopar Man’s Aunt Naomi.  She had a big round oak table with mismatched chairs where we enjoyed hours of fun eating and playing board games with the kids.  We wanted to capture the memories of those days in our new dining room.

This is your room. Please feel free to lay down and let the sound of the ocean waves lull you to sleep.

To date this is the only bedroom with an actual head and foot board. that's because, after six years of sleeping on a tiny fold out travel trailer sofa bed, our nephew Lar Bear decided he needed a "real" bed to sleep on so he purchased a lovely bedroom set from Craig's List.

Our master bedroom looks a bit sparce but it's a work in progress. We did treat ourselves to a new memory foam mattress which we absolutely love. I purchased fleece sheets for all the beds and they are a cozy delight to sleep between.

The only other furniture in the master suite is this cute little Ikea desk and bookshelf combo which formerly occupied Fancy Nancy's home office. It now serves as our temporary chest of drawers.

Here's a quick peak at the powder room. It's so nice to have a full size bath tub and shower rather than the teeny miniture facilities of the travel trailer.

This concludes your tour of Clam Shell Cottage.  The only thing left to say to our friends and family is when you’re at the beach the next time stop by and say hello…..and to our friends and extended family in Texas….”Y’all come and see us some time ya hear.”




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Decorating a Beach House on a Budget

Even though our beach house will not be move in ready until March of this year I started furnishing and decorating it a year ago.  Why?  Because I love shopping for bargains.  It’s like digging for treasure; however to have a successful decorating treasure hunt it’s necessary to establish a few rules and guidelines.

Rule 1

Purchase some decorating magazines and look through them for ideas.  Cut out pictures of color schemes, furniture, artwork, floral arrangements etc.  I put all the pictures in a folder so I could refer to them as I made decisions about my decorating schemes.

Rule 2

Decide on a color palette.  I find it’s best to choose two or three basic colors.  I chose navy, yellow and white.

Rule 3

Pick out some fabric swatches with two, three or maybe even four different patterns that complement each other.  I chose a narrow navy and white striped pattern, a yellow and navy floral pattern, a wide navy, yellow and white pattern.

Rule 4

Select a solid color couch and love seat and solid colored walls.  I chose my couch and love seat in a creamy yellow.  The great room, kitchen, dining room and hallway are Divine Design Maple (cream with yellow cast) and the bedrooms and bathrooms are Ralph Lauren Sail Cloth (taupe).  I use to be a wall paper junkie; however, I found that a lot of pattern on my walls really limited my choices of furniture and accent pieces.  Now I prefer treating my furniture, walls and floor coverings as almost a blank canvas on which to create by room design.

Rule 5

If you’re blessed by having a friend like Fancy Nancy who has wonderful taste, treat her to a free lunch and then drag her from shop to shop explaining what you like and getting her input.  When I was in Dallas a few months ago I took along my fabric and paint swatches and asked Fancy Nancy to visit Crate & Barrel and some other expensive shops with me.  When I showed her the couch and love seat I wanted she explained that their dimensions were way too large for the space I wanted to put them in.  Now, remember Fancy Nancy has special super hero powers when it comes to her spacial senses  while Joanie Baloney is….well let’s just say she’s spacially challenged.

Rule 6

When decorating your home make Stein Mart, Target, Home Goods, Ross, Marshalls and yes…..the Goodwill  your new best friends. While I think it’s important to browse the expensive boutique type shops to discover the kind of look I want in a particular room I very seldom purchase items in those shops.  Instead I go on a treasure hunt at the bargain stores and believe it or not I often find the exact same items I fell in love with at the hoytie toytie stores AND for a fraction of the cost.  Here are some examples:

I purchased this end table at Upscale Consignment for $97. It retails at Paul Shatz Furniture for $599. The yellow pot is from Home Goods; it cost $25. The same pot sells for $60 at one of my favorite home decor shops. I bought two balls of greenery at the craft store and hot glued them together to create a topiary look.

Mopar Man purchased these gorgeous adirondak chairs at Tuesday Morning for $100 each (they retailed for $200 each). I found the yellow chair cushions on a close out sale for $15 each at Pier One (regular price was $40 each). I made the two floral pillows for $10 ea) I rescued the little cabinet from a garage sale. I spray painted it white, glued on some shells and added a twine bow accent (cost $10)

My daughter gave me this platform rocker which came from my grandson's former nursery. I purchased the fabric with a 50% off coupon from JoAnne's fabric. Then I took it to a little upholstery shop near where I live and had it re-upholstered for $180. The Nautica pillow is a $5 purchase from Ross.

This was a fun project. I purchased a white fabric remnant for $5 and created my own seashell design. See next photo for the "how to".

To design your own fabric purchase a bottle of fabric paint, paint brush and stamp. Squirt a little paint in a dish then brush a very light coat of paint onto the stamp. Then all you have to do is press it onto the fabric and voila! You're a textile designer!

I cut up a Ralph Lauren flat sheet (purchased at Ross) and made two pillow shams. The navy accent edging is made from two pkgs of seam binding. For the matching window valance I cut off the top part of the sheet and attached tabs.


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A Work in Progress

Actually our beach house is starting to look more like a home every day.  Last weekend we made a quick day trip down to the building site to do some clean up and finish painting under the eaves.  When we arrived the workmen were busy installing cabinets, doors and floor coverings.  To tell you the truth I’ve been holding my breath and hoping that all the colors we selected for cabinets, woodwork and flooring really did look good together.  It’s kind of hard to tell when looking at those little wood, paint and carpet samples.  Well the good news is that I love it all.

Here are a few snaps of the ongoing work in progress:


Welcome to my new, almost finished, kitchen. As you can see the cabinets are a light pine with brushed silver hardware and the countertops are a yellow and cream faux granite. The appliances are all stainless steel. What you can't see is the beautiful dark pecan wood laminate floor. It makes a great contrast with the light cabinets. One of the things I love most about the kitchen is the large pantry which is not pictured here.

This guy is getting ready to lay carpet in the livingroom. The carpet is wheat colored and looks fabulous with the creamy yellow walls. (Sorry about the water spots on the lense of my camera)

I gotta tell ya....having adult children is wonderful. Here is our son Michael painting the overhang so his Mom could have a day off from painting. There are just some things my body doesn't like to do and standing backwards on a ladder with my arms up in the air is one of them.

Recently our son was at a social event where a business associate asked him how his Dad was doing. Michael misunderstood the question and thought the guy was asking about the elderly dad of a mutual friend. He began a long dissertation about the poor old guy's health and explained he could hardly walk and was mostly confined to the house. "Oh my goodness your Dad went downhill fast!", commented the guy. "Wait a minute, were you asking about my Dad? " asked Michael. "Good grief, my Dad's so active I can hardly keep up with him!" And here's the proof.

He may be active Michael but he still appreciates your help.



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A Family Affair

We’ve had a few really busy weekends recently trying to finish up the interior and exterior painting on the beach house.  And all I can say is praise God for family.  I could go on and on about how much we appreciate their support but since a picture is worth a thousand words, here’s a little pictorial that demonstrates all their hard work.  (Note: not pictured is our niece Suzy and her husband Larry who have worked tirelessly helping us with all phases of this project)

Here's what we found in our driveway two weeks ago. Mopar Man is talking to the concrete guys who just poured our new driveway and front step. It's hard to tell from this photo but there are actually four truck loads of gravel beside the house and down the driveway.

This cutie pie painter is our daughter. She and her family are our resident farmers. It takes a huge commitment on their part to get away for a weekend of painting. They have dozens of laying hens, two goats and a llama, not to mention a golden retriever and farm cat. With that kind of menagerie you can imagine how difficult it is to find someone to take over their farm duties for a weekend.

This slightly out of focus painter is our son-in-law. Not pictured is our 11-year-old grandson who is a budding new photographer who got so excited about taking pictures he forgot to hold the camera steady. When he wasn't taking pictures he helped his mom and dad paint three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

While the rest of the family painted the interior of the house grandma slipped out and put up the new shutters. Yeah right....if you believe that I have a bridge I'd like to sell you. Ha!


Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Mopar Man gave me a little help with the shutters?

And this is what the house looks like with green shutters. I think it looks more like a beach cottage now.


The travel trailer now has a septic tank and electrical hookup so it can sit beside the house and provide extra sleeping room. By the way look at that beautiful concrete driveway.

Well, folks that brings you up to date on the progress of the beach house.  This week the cabinets and interior doors will be installed.  This is getting really exciting.  The builder says the house will be move in ready by the end of February.

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Neither Snow nor Rain nor Gloom of Night…..

When it comes to working on the beach house we’ve pretty much assumed the same motto as the US Postal Service.  You know the one….”neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night will keep us from painting with all our might”.  Well it’s somewhat different but close enough.

Have you ever tried to paint a house in 29 degree temperatures?  That’s what Mopar Man, my niece Suzy and I did this weekend.  We finally had to stop because it started hailing so bad the wind was blowing the icy crystals  sideways into our faces. Oh the joys of building a house on the Washington coast during the winter months.  Actually it hasn’t really been that bad.  Every single time we go down to the beach to paint the exterior of the house, God provides us with a window of sunshine and dry weather.  It’s happened so often our neighbors have even commented on it.  Hey, what can I say…..our God is an amazing weather man.

We were surprised to see that the wall board guys were working on the weekend to make sure they got the job done on time. Actually, we weren't expecting this phase of the house to be done until this week.

Look at all that lovely wall board in my kitchen.

Suzy is laying out our sandwiches so we can dine in the living room.

Mopar Man is putting the finishing touches on the front door,

That Mopar Man is a real multi tasker. He's here, he's there...he's everywhere. If you look to the bottom right you will see our $1,100 swale. Now if you're like me you're probably asking yourself "so, what's a swale?" A swale my friends is a drainage ditch for the water run off from the house's gutters. This isn't just any old siree. Pacific County required us to hire an engineer to design it and of course we had to purchase a permit and pay a professional to dig it. Do you have any "swale" ideas on how to landscape around a 24 ft. hole in the middle of our back yard?

Those streaks you see in this photo are a mixture of hail and snow. We took this as a sign (duhhh!) that it was time to hang up our paint brushes and head for home. It's a good thing we did because the next morning ODOT closed Hwy 30 through the coast range.

Well folks that brings you up to date on the progress of the beach house.  This week the walls will get textured and next week we’ll make a mad dash to the coast to paint the intire inside of the house so that it’s ready for cupboards, interior doors, floor coverings etc.  We now have a completion date of Feb. 22nd.  Looks like I’ll be celebrating my birthday in the new house.

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Reflections on Christmas Past

Well the shopping is done, the presents are opened, the brightly garland tree is gone and the decorations are stored in the staircase closet once again.  Whew, I don’t know about you but I need a jammie day and a nice glass of wine so I can sit and reflect on the beauty and wonder of the holidays.  Once again I’m reminded that when all the glits and glitter are over, the real meaning of Christmas is wrapped up in family.  When you stop and think about it the first Christmas in Bethlehem was all about a young family celebrating the birth of their baby boy.  Maybe that’s why we want to be with our families during this special time of year.

Here is a little pictorial of what Christmas means to our family:

First everyone sits quietly while the Christmas story is read

Then everyone grabs a cup of coffee and warm cinnamon roll...!

Guys of all ages appreciate a little help from mom on Christmas morning.

Everyone's a kid on Christmas morning.

And of course it's important to take time out for tickling.

It takes the entire family to figure out how all the electronic games work.

And of course it's always important to invite a handsome fire fighter over on Christmas morning.

For some reason the men/boys (sometimes it's hard to tell the difference) in our family have a tradition of having a Nerf gun battle every year after the presents are opened.

The littlest man in the famiy gets a little instruction in Nerf warfare from his big sisters.

Of course the problem with gun battles is that Grandma's carpeting can become a casulty of war. Okay all you Nerf soldiers....just want you to know, I'm reporting this one to Fancy Nancy!

Fancy Nancy please tell me how to get red candle wax out of my cream carpeting!!!  This may require a visit to Oregon.

While the men folk do battle the women folk, young and old, gather round the table for another cup of coffee and a little conversation.

When it's all said and done, the family can depend on Grandpa to clean up the mess.

.....and then we all laid down for a long winter's nap.

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Santa Claus is Coming to Town

This morning Grandpa and I decided to take our two youngest grandchildren to Santa Land at the downtown Macey’s.  Now if you’re an Oregonian and a baby boomer you probably remember riding the monorail train in the same location when the store was called Meier & Frank.  When Macey’s bought the store, sadly, they took the old train out of operation.  Of course, I must admit, by today’s safety standards, placing small children in a 50 year-old rickety hunk of metal suspended from a 12 ft. ceiling is probably not a good idea; however, it’s hard to see such rich traditions disappear.  For those who are as nostalgic as Mopar Man and me there is a small section of the old monorail on display in Santa Land.

"Hey, does anyone know who's suppose to be drivin' this train?"

"Excuse me lady, I think this is my stop!"

"You want me to sit where? Hey, if you like him so much, you sit on his lap!!!"

"Santa, pwease don't put my bwather on your naughty list. He's just a baby and baby's get a wittle squared swometimes." (Before Livi would get off of Santa's lap she wanted to make sure both she and her baby brother were on Santa's "nice" list.)

"Uhhh...aren't you guys suppose to be pullin' a sleigh or somethin'?"


…..and as we ride out of sight, we say “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

Be sure to hug your family during this holiday season…they’re the most important gift of all.





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Remember the forecast for the beach last week?   It said there would be wind gusts up to 90 mph on the northern Oregon and southern Washington coasts.  And guess what?  They were right and we can prove it.  Just take a look at this photo of our “under construction” beach house.

Here's the proof. Three trees from a neighboring lot blew down across our property. Praise God only one of them was tall enough to actually hit the house. And it did only minimal damage to a couple of sheets of plywood.

Mopar Man and Lar Bear went down Friday and cut the trees up enough to unblock the driveway and get them away from the house.

Looks like we're going to have a life time supply of firewood for the wood burning fireplace.

The good news is that our faithful home builders braved the storm and didn’t let a few downed trees, high winds and pouring rain prevent them from continuing to work on the house.  Wow, it seems that the old saying about “neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night…etc. etc.” doesn’t just apply to the US Post Office.

Wu hoo...the house has siding and windows now!

That's plumbing in them thar walls!

...And that my friends is an electrical thingie (excuse my technical terminology)

Here sits a beautiful stack of shingles which will be added to the roof next week making the house weather tight. In building terms that's a really big deal. I never thought looking at a pile of shingles would be this exhilerating.

Well, so goes the continuing saga of our beach building adventure.  Next week “we” (meaning Mopar Man and Lar Bear) will start caulking the siding to get it ready for painting.  They really, really love us at Home Depot these days.


Did you know that Home Depot gives veterans a 10% discount on everything you purchase?  All you have to do is go to DMV, show them your discharge papers, birth certificate and pay $26 and they’ll make you up a new driver’s license with a “veteran” designation on it.  Then, just show your license at Home Depot every time you buy something and they’ll give you a discount.  When you’re buying refrigerators, chain saws, multiple gallons of paint and cases of caulking, ten percent really adds up fast.

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Dreams do Come True

Let me introduce you to the house that dreams built.  We’ve been dreaming of this house since we were first married.  Then, about six years ago we purchased a little piece of heaven on the Long Beach Penninsula and started imagining buying the lot next door.  Last year the elderly lady who owned the second lot finally decided to sell it to us.  The next step was choosing a builder and selecting a house plan.  Of course that was just the beginning.  We spent the last ten months finding a lender, applying for permits, getting appraisals, hiring a builder, selecting the perfect house plan etc. etc. etc.  This is the third house we’ve built since we were married; however, the last one we built was 34 years ago….long enough to forget all the tiny and huge details that go into building.  It’s actually all the preliminary details that eat up time but once those are completed the actual building process moves pretty fast.  Here’s what we found this weekend when we went down to the beach to check on the builder’s progress.  And oh my goodness, our dream is finally looking a lot like a real live house!

This is what has happened in just 2 1/2 weeks. All the interior and exterior walls are up and the roof trusses and plywood are in place.

Welcome to our new living room. Mopar Man is cleaning up a bit before we can invite you over. Oh yeah, and we should probably wait until the windows are installed before having you over.

Mopar Man's trustie side kick, Lar Bear, is building an imaginary fire in the "soon to be installed" fireplace.

Here is the kitchen and dining room where we'll prepare and serve wonderful seafood meals.

Every job needs a couple of supervisors.  Joanie and Suzy rest up before helping the guys clean up the job site.

Every job needs a couple of supervisors.

Suzy oversees the guys as they clean up the job site.

.....ever wonder what the guys do when the gals go off to shop!

Here is a stack of siding which will go on the house next week along with shingles and windows.
















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