Saturday, March 26, 2011

When Something is Old News, Stop Making It Your Headline!

Have you ever had an “a-ha” moment?

I had one the other day. For several years I have been part of a charitable group staffed by volunteers with a paid leader. And that leader has poor leadership qualities.

No… make that bad leadership qualities.

And this week he laid another one of his zingers on us, telling us he had been forced by the “board of directors”. So I directly contacted the head and asked “why?” Found out the board had nothing to do with it and our “leader” had lied to us yet again.

I was venting my frustration to a friend in the group and she told me “it was old news and she didn’t want to talk about it”.

That stopped me in my tracks.

She’s right. It was old news. Because it happens with this group over, and over, and over. Egos, manipulations, lies, selfishness.

And that is when the “ah-ha” sunk in. It’s never going to change. You know the saying “Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of your time and it annoys the pig.”

I’m done wasting my time. And my energy. And my resources.

And the releasing of this has taken a huge weight off my shoulders.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Hero for All Time: Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler

Irena Sendler (née Krzyżanowska, commonly referred to as Irena Sendlerowa in Poland; 15 February 1910 – 12 May 2008) was a Polish Catholic social worker who served in the Polish Underground and the Żegota resistance organization in German-occupied Warsaw during World War II. Assisted by some two dozen other Żegota members, Sendler saved 2,500 Jewish children by smuggling them out of the Warsaw Ghetto, providing them with false documents, and sheltering them in individual and group children's homes outside the Ghetto.

Sendler was born as Irena Krzyzanowski on 15 February 1910 in Warsaw. Her father, Stanislaw Krzyzanowski, was a physician. Sendler sympathised with Jews from childhood. Her father died in February 1917 of typhus contracted while treating patients his colleagues refused to treat. Many of those patients were Jews. After his death, Jewish community leaders offered to pay for Sendler's education. She opposed the ghetto-bench system that existed at some prewar Polish universities and as a result was suspended from Warsaw University for three years.

During the German occupation of Poland, Sendler lived in Warsaw (prior to that, she had lived in Otwock and Tarczyn while working for urban Social Welfare departments). As early as 1939, when the Germans invaded Poland, she began aiding Jews. She and her helpers created over 3,000 false documents to help Jewish families, prior to joining the organized Żegota resistance and the children's division. Helping Jews was very risky—in German-occupied Poland, all household members risked death if they were found to be hiding Jews, a more severe punishment than in other occupied European countries.

In December 1942, the newly created Żegota (the Council to Aid Jews) nominated her (by her cover name Jolanta) to head its children's section. As an employee of the Social Welfare Department, she had a special permit to enter the Warsaw Ghetto to check for signs of typhus, something the Nazis feared would spread beyond the Ghetto. During these visits, she wore a Star of David as a sign of solidarity with the Jewish people and so as not to call attention to herself. 

She cooperated with the Children's Section of the Municipal Administration, linked with the RGO (Central Welfare Council), a Polish relief organization that was tolerated under German supervision. She organized the smuggling of Jewish children out of the Ghetto, carrying them out in boxes, suitcases and trolleys. Under the pretext of conducting inspections of sanitary conditions during a typhoid outbreak, Sendler visited the Ghetto and smuggled out babies and small children in ambulances and trams, sometimes disguising them as packages. She also used the old courthouse at the edge of the Warsaw Ghetto (still standing) as one of the main routes for smuggling out children. 

The children were placed with Polish families, the Warsaw orphanage of the Sisters of the Family of Mary, or Roman Catholic convents such as the Little Sister Servants of the Blessed Virgin Mary Conceived Immaculate at Turkowice and Chotomów. Sendler cooperated very closely with social worker and catholic nun, mother provincial of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary - Matylda Getter. She rescued between 250-550 Jewish children in different education and care facilities for children in Anin, Białołęka, Chotomów, Międzylesie, Płudy, Sejny, Vilnius and others. Some children were smuggled to priests in parish rectories. She buried lists of their real names in jars in order to keep track of their original and new identities. Żegota assured the children that, when the war was over, they would be returned to Jewish relatives. 

In 1943, Sendler was arrested by the Gestapo, severely tortured, and sentenced to death. Żegota saved her by bribing German guards on the way to her execution. She was left in the woods, unconscious and with broken arms and legs. She was listed on public bulletin boards as among those executed. For the remainder of the war, she lived in hiding, but continued her work for the Jewish children. After the war, she dug up jars containing the 2,500 children's identities and attempted to find the children and return them to their parents. However, almost all of their parents had been killed at the Treblinka extermination camp or had otherwise gone missing. 

On 12 May 2008, Sendler died.

With some of the children she saved.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Short Hiatus

I’m going to take about a 4 week break from blogging (although I’ll probably pop in now and again – being quiet isn’t my best trait).

With the warm weather, I’ve become incredibly busy. I am finally able to get into the space that will transform from junk repository to my hobby room. Then there is the spring yard work that must be done. And I can’t forget (as much as I’d like to) about spring cleaning.

I also have some weighty decisions to make and need to focus on them so to make the right choices.

And finally, Himself will be home soon! And I plan on kidnapping him for a few days!!

When I get back, things will be such that I will be able to have fun with decorating, projects and new adventures to share.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Red-headed Irish...

My great grandmother used to say of her mother-in-law “She was red-headed Irish and a temper to match!”

And so, with great great grandmother in my background, I lay claim to the celebratin’ o’ the day with a wee bit of green… St Patrick’s Day.

I don’t believe in luck so I was happy to find a sign about St Patrick’s Day blessings.  The Irish lass is a music box.  She plays “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”.  Dad gave her to me almost 40 years ago! 

I couldn’t believe finding shamrocks in the grocery store floral department!  I wonder if they are hardy for TN.  We’ll find out!  The bowl in the middle will be filled with chocolate coins next year.  I forgot to buy them! 

We keep an antique bowl here to catch our keys.  I replaced it for the month with this cute shamrock bowl.

Found this plate at Hobby Lobby. It was just the right size for this space in the hall bathroom.

And that’s it for my St Patrick’s Day decorating. I’ve seen a few ideas that I will craft before next year.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From Winter to Wonderful

White is often thought of as an absence of color.

A snowy white winter scene is often called “colorless”.   Isn’t it funny that white is actually a reflection of ALL colors equally?

And that ‘white’ light passing thru a prism creates a rainbow… and sometimes that prism can be ice crystals in snow.

But white is also the color of Spring.

Showing off before even the tiniest green tree leaf appears.

Standing brave against the chill of the night.

Mocking the clouds with its brightness.

And making a different white covering for the ground.

Razmataz Photo Challenge:  White

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cooking at Ingredients: A Mediterranean Diet

My latest cooking class was back at Ingredients.  Sarah-Jane Bedwell, the nutritionist from Nashville, was back to teach us about healthy eating using the Mediterranean diet as the example. 

A few of the points she made were:

There is an abundance of food from plant sources; including whole grains.

It emphasizes a variety of minimally processed, seasonally fresh and locally grown foods.

Olive oil is the principal fat.

Fresh fruit is the typical dessert.

Red meat is consumed only a few times a month.

Sarah-Jane expanded on the whole-grains by explaining that some food companies take advantage of being able to label “whole grain” because they have “some” in their product. But you need to take a look at the list of ingredients to see how much that “some” is. You want to see ‘whole grain’ up at the top of the listing. You can double check by looking at the amount of fiber the food contains.

It is recommended that you have at least 20 grams of fiber a day. But the average American gets in their overly processed diet about 9 grams. Not good. Sarah-Jane recommended Fiber One cereal as an excellent source of fiber that tastes good too. So I tried it and she’s right! 

(A word of warning… if you have a low fiber diet right now, do NOT leap into a high fiber diet all at once. You (and everyone around you) will regret it!! Build up over a couple weeks unless you already have a fairly high fiber diet as I do.) 

She prepared 4 dishes for us that are high in fiber, good oils and antioxidants.

Creamy Hummus

Lime baked Salmon

Confetti Couscous

Triple Chocolate cookies

Salmon and Confetti Couscous

For salmon:

Olive oil

4 pieces of salmon filet, 4 oz each

1 lime

Salt, pepper and garlic powder – used to taste

For couscous:

1 box Near East brand Whole-grain wheat couscous; roasted garlic & olive oil flavor

1 box grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 cup reduced fat Feta cheese; crumbled

1 cup green onion tops, chopped

Preheat oven to 350F.

Add a drizzle of olive oil to a glass pan and place the salmon in it. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the top of the salmon and sprinkle to taste the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cover with foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Serve on bed of couscous (recipe below).

Confetti Couscous:

Prepare couscous according to package directions. (You can substitute the water for low-fat chicken broth for a richer flavor). When finished, fluff and add the tomato, feta and onion. Gently stir in the ingredients. Can be served hot or cold.

You can get the rest of the recipes at:

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Organizing Challenge: Photos

I have been working (on and off) on my photos since AUGUST.  I have old family photos in all sorts of weird sizes.  I have more family prints than I want to think about.  And I have an insane amount of digital photos.

And while I’m still not “finished” sorting, I’m finally to a point where I can start getting certain prints into albums so we can actually enjoy them.  If you can’t enjoy looking at them… why even bother taking the photo in the first place?

When I started taking a lot of photos, I put them in albums.  Problem with that was you couldn’t tell any stories with your photos.  If there was any space in the album to write on it was barely enough to tell when and where, never mind who or what!

So then I started scrapbooking.  But the problem I had with that was it took so much time and so many supplies I didn’t get a lot done.  Certainly didn’t keep up with the photos.

And that left me with boxes and boxes of photos to get into some sort of album, and even larger boxes of souvenirs and tidbits to go with the scrapbooking.  I was starting to wonder if I needed to rent a storage shed just to store all this stuff!

Then I took a class on “speed scrapbooking”. The heavens parted and the angels sang!

Speed scrapbooking takes the best elements of both worlds (photo albums and scrapbooks) and brings them together. It works this way.

You purchase photo albums with no “writing areas” in them. I have found really nice ones for a good price at Home Goods (that’s where those above are from).

They typically hold five 4x6 photos per page… 3 in horizontal positioning and 2 in vertical positioning.

With speed scrapbooking you think “small” and “flat”. Each of those little pockets is an opportunity to hold a memory. You can place in photos, memorabilia and journaling. Don’t forget the journaling!

I’m going to use speed scrapbooking to catch-up on all my photos that I haven’t already started a traditional scrapbook album for (and that is a lot!). Once I get those done, I will go back and finish out the scrapbooks (I think there are about 5 I need to do).

With my digital photos, I have been getting them into files by year and event. The big job is culling thru them and deleting the excess. I got my first digital camera in ’06… so that is how far back I have to work on. Uf-da!

I am going to print out the “best of the best” for safe keeping. And I’m going to back-up the rest to both an external hard drive AND to DVDs (2 each).

To display my digital photos I use an online company that makes books with your photos. I use But there are many other companies out there such as and that do similar printing.

I’ve gotten some books printed but my goal now is to do my last trip and project before another comes up. That means I have to do our MN/WI trip from Nov AND my book of photos from Little Bird’s First Year (and Little Bird is now 18 months old!). I need to get cracking!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Bringing the Springtime Outdoors Inside

OK, it’s March and I have officially had ENOUGH of winter.  Today is grey and rainy; it was 37* when I got up this morning!  It looked more like November then March.  So I decided it was time to bring some Spring into the house!

I wanted to try putting together a cloche arrangement and my little shamrock fit perfectly.  For a pop of color I added a purple pansy I bought at the garden center. 

No reason this little birdbath has to stay outside.  It was just right for planting my miniature daffodil and the other pansy plants.

The three cute birds were found at the Dollar Tree.  The cones and stones are ones I’ve picked up while traveling. 

It is so nice to look over and see my little piece of the Springtime outdoors brought inside. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Little Fingers, Little Toes

What is it about baby toes that are so cute?

One sock on and one sock off is still darling.

Then there are those sweet little fingers that can wrap the toughest uncle around them.

Even when they grab the camera, you just can’t get enough of them.

This has to be the only time in a person’s life when their nose is cute!

Doesn’t that soft little neck make you want to cover it in kisses?

And it is a good thing that little ears are darling too… because I get enough photos of them as Little Bird darts off in another direction!

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Best Sound in the World

Baby laughter... is there any sound better than that?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Before and After: Nautical Chart Bench

Last summer I found this old piano bench at a yard sale Best Friend and I stopped at on the way to a class. 

They only wanted $2 for it!  SOLD!!!

It’s been sitting in my garage ever since waiting for me to find some inspiration (and time) to work on it.

Donna’s Saturday Night Special challenge for benches was the kick start I needed! I wanted a little shelf in from of one of my living room windows to set some plants. And this was the perfect size.

The hardest part of this project was deciding what I wanted to do with it! Second hardest part was digging it out of the “project pile” in my garage.

After a good cleaning up, sanding and more cleaning, I masked off the top of the bench and painted the legs and bracing. I used a mistint paint (Tavistock Green) from Walmart off of my paint shelf.

Once the legs were dry, I touched up the stain on the bench top. Then I waited for that to dry.

Now the fun part. Himself works on a ship in Alaska’s Bering Sea. When the ship’s charts are updated, they throw out the old ones. And that sweet husband of mine grabs them up for me. I have all sorts of projects lined up that will use those.

And for this project, I decopodged a portion of a chart to the top of the little bench. This was a really old chart and I love the coloring used on it. It looks antique.

Finally I did a bit of distressing to make it look like it had been around a half of forever.