Christmas Hand Lotion

November 22, 2014

I have been preparing a Christmas hand lotion for a long time now. I use it for gifts, but I reserve a bit for Goodnight and me. I just finished my first batch for the 2014 holiday season.

I call it a Christmas Hand Lotion because I use myrrh oil and frankincense oil. The bottles in the photo are 1/2 FL. OZ. each and I purchased them from Garden of Eden several years ago.


I purchase an unscented hand lotion. I use the 16 FL.OZ. pump bottle of Lubriderm Intensive Skin Repair Lotion.


I use travel size bottles from the drug store.  

To make the scented lotion, I put 12 drops of the frankincense oil and 12 drops of myrrh oil into the bottle of lotion, then stir it in. I use a kabob skewer to stir.

Then I just pump the scented lotion into the small bottles. One 16-ounce bottle of lotion easily fills four travel bottles. There is lotion left in the bottle after filling the first four, that’s when I start pumping more air than lotion. What’s left may fill a fifth bottle, but that’s the lotion I save for Goodnight and me.

NOTE: The lotion could be poured into bottle via a funnel if you prefer that method. By inverting the lotion bottle and letting gravity help, you could probably fill a fifth bottle.

The frankincense and myrrh oils honor two of the three gifts from Wise Men who visited the stable in Bethlehem, so to include the third gift, I tie gold ribbon around the neck of each bottle: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh lotion for Christmas!


To my tomorrow visitor . . .

November 21, 2014

I am having company tomorrow . . . not to my house, but to town.  I am looking forward to showing my guest an approximately 800-year-old French brick and then tea or lunch and whatever else we find time to do.

So to my guest and whoever else wants to check the link: listen to the song, change the word bus to train and I’ll see you soon!


“Phila…eh, Phila…yes…eh, Good Deed Doers”

November 15, 2014

The title of my post is a line borrowed from a well-loved movie. I’ll let you think about it for a moment.

I am trying to teach Goodnight that there are countless ways we can make a positive difference in our world. Yesterday, when I picked her up from school, I took her along on a good deed journey involving some new books.


“Aw, Gram! I LOVED those books!!! They have stickers in them? Cool! The kids are gonna love ‘em!”

We used the Little Free Library map and found locations of a few libraries and made the book drops.




The fourth library we stopped at was one I had recently shown here on my blog. Goodnight asked me to take a photo with the snowman door open because as she put it, “Ya gotta see what’s in there, toys and everything!”


I had purchased five books and we dropped four of them. I saved one for a specific Little Free Library that I will have to get to another day. For yesterday afternoon, the good deeds were done.

So, have you guessed the movie from which I borrowed a line for the title of my post? It comes from THE WIZARD OF OZ, when the Wizard gives the Tin Man his gift. “Back where I come from, there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila…eh, phila…yes…eh, Good Deed Doers.”

His Church is on One Hill and His Grave and His Sister’s are on Another

November 14, 2014

Once in a while, I get enough free time to fulfill photo requests for the online site called Find A Grave. Today was one of those days and my request took me to the oldest cemetery in St. Paul, Minnesota. I may write about that another time.


Because I was not terribly far away, however, I decided to make a stop at another old cemetery in the city, founded three years after the first one. Calvary cemetery is situated on one of St. Paul’s “seven hills.” Though I have only been there once before, nearly thirty years ago, I was able to find what I was looking for.

Calvary Cemetery is a Catholic cemetery and is the resting ground for the bishops, archbishops, early priests and nuns. It is also the resting place for the architect of the Cathedral of St. Paul, Emmanuel Louis Masqueray.

The person responsible for the acquisition of the land on which the cathedral stands was Archbishop John Ireland, though it is widely reported that it was Bishop Cretin who spotted the hill as he arrived in St. Paul via the Mississippi River and thought it would be the perfect place for a church.

The original See was established in 1850 as the Diocese of St. Paul and the ruler of a diocese is a bishop. Joseph Cretin was the diocese’s first bishop and Thomas Langdon Grace was the second. In 1888, the See was elevated in rank to become the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Archbishop John Ireland was the first Archbishop. I have included a link to the Minnesota Historical Society’s microfilm edition of The John Ireland Papers.

Bishops Joseph Cretin and Thomas Langdon Grace and Archbishops John Ireland and Austin Dowling are buried in Calvary Cemetery and from their final resting places, the Cathedral of St. Paul is visible in the distance. I will show that photo in a moment.

One of Archbishop Ireland’s sisters was a Catholic nun. Ellen Ireland, who took the name  Seraphine when she entered the order of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, ultimately founded the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, but did many things along the way. She served as the Mother Superior of the St. Paul Province. Mother Seraphine Ireland’s grave is shown below. I am including the link to a very interesting piece about Ellen Ireland.


Brother and sister, buried very near each other, among the other early religious who served the young city are buried in one of the older sections of the cemetery, near the bluff that overlooks the city.

In the photo below, Mother Seraphine Ireland’s headstone is visible from behind near the left center of the photo. Her brother’s grave is under the snow at the bottom left of the photo. The rounded dome of the Cathedral of St. Paul is visible in the distance to the right of the big tree trunk.


Another interesting grave in Calvary Cemetery is that of Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, the architect of the Cathedral of St. Paul. His grave is not near the Irelands’ graves as he was not part of any religious order. His grave is some distance away and sadly, the grand church he designed cannot be seen when standing near his marker. The sun was behind the tree and casting long shadows in the photo below, making the image of Masqueray on his monument too dark to see. I have included a link to an interesting pdf about Emmanuel Masqueray.


Three Veterans, Three Brothers

November 11, 2014

My mother sent me an envelope of photos, some that I need to add to our digital family tree. The envelope arrived in yesterday’s mail . . . in time for me to appreciate two of the photos today.

From left to right, Corporal, USMC; Second Lieutenant, USAAC; Major, USAAC. They are brothers. The two in the USAAC served concurrently during WW2 and the Marine entered the military at the age of 17.


They were not among the fallen, but all three are gone now. Gone, but not forgotten.

There is a line in the poem “What is a Veteran?” by an anonymous writer that says, “A veteran is someone who gets a lump in the throat when he/she sees our beloved flag.” My father had that lump.

The lump in his throat was a lump of pride and honor, a lump of diligence and duty, a lump of sacrifice and loss, and a lump of remembrance and respect. I have inherited my father’s lump and yesterday,  I inherited his military photo.

Knit-knitting Counter for iOS

November 11, 2014

The free knitting app I am working with today is called “Knit-knitting counter for iOS.” Below is a photo of the icon to help you recognize it in the app store, if you go looking for it.


While the name of the app gives the impression that it is just a stitch or row counter, basically, it is, but it has other features as well. When you click the icon to open the app, the home page looks like the photo below.


When you click “Start”, you will go to the “knitting work list” page. I have included an image of the blank knitting work list page. As you start project and name them, they will show up on the blank lines seen below.



To add your first and subsequent projects, tap the plus (+) sign in the upper right corner, shown in the above photo. You will get a page where you can add the name of your project and choose an icon to go with it.


Let’s say I am going to knit a hat. I can type the name of the hat from a pattern, if I am following one, or just type a generic name if I am not following a pattern. Tap the area where it says “name” and  start typing.  You can see that I typed. “Stocking Cap.”


Then choose an icon that will represent your project. If you want an image of your specific project, then tap image button and either take a photo or use one from your album. I will tap the “hat” button to add the icon. In the photo below, you can see that the “hat” button is blue.


Next, I click “save” in the upper right corner and the app automatically goes back to the knitting work list page and my Stocking Cap project is there along with the icon I chose.


From the knitting work list page, tap the right arrow (>) at the top right corner of the page. That will take you to your project page. In my case, it is for the stocking cap. The project page is shown below.


Here’s where users had mixed reviews about the ease of the app. The buttons aren’t intuitive as to their function and can cause frustration. I was not easily frustrated and just tapped away to see what happened.

Tapping the cat with the ball of yarn increases the counter, either rows or stitches, depending on which button you have selected. In the photo above, you can see that the stitch button is blue. That means if I tap the cat with the yarn, the stitch counter will be increased by 1. Tapping the minus (-) sign will decrease the highlighted counter by 1 and tapping the x will reset the highlighted counter to zero. 

In the above photo, you can see in the large black area, that there is an option to add a photo by tapping the little camera icon. If you tap the camera icon, two choices pop up. The choices are in Japanese. See photo below.


No worries! If you tap the top line, it takes you to your app’s camera and you can take a photo. If you tap the bottom line, you can access your photos and videos if you have allowed access via your device’s privacy settings. I decided to tap the top line and take my own photo. When the photo is snapped, you have the options to either retake the photo, or use the photo. I tapped “use photo” and it was inserted onto the project page.  I also tapped the row and stitch counters a few times so you can see the numbers above the photo. See below.


From here on out, you are basically using the project page as a counting app, but you get to see your progress as you go.

In the photo above, you can see three buttons marked “1″, “2″, and “10″. You can use those to change your row or stitch counters to increase by the number on the button. If you highlight the button with “10″ on it, and then press the cat with the yarn ball icon, your count will increase by 10. Above the stitch and row buttons, there is a box that says “Automatic advance setting of the row.” That means if I set the number to 5, when I have the stitch button highlighted and tap the cat and yarn ball icon five times, the row counter will automatically increase by one.

Another note to mention about this free app. In reading the reviews, I noticed a concern that users could not delete a project from the knitting work list page. A project is supposed to be deleted from the work list by virtue of completing the project. Completion is controlled by setting the number of rows required to complete the project. A drawback to this feature is that the number of rows is not always known at the outset.  You can see the box for setting completion in the photo below. I set the project as requiring ten rows for completion. When 100% completion has been reached, a little dialogue box appears.




It asks whether the project returns to the work list.  At that time, it seems like you should be able to tap. “No” and it’s supposed to be deleted. The dialogue box also gives the impression that if you tap “Yes”, it is supposed to go back to the work list page. I tried it with two projects, and the “No” function did not seem to work.

I understand the frustrations expressed by reviewers. Having said that,  I decided not to let this last bit bother me because on the work list page, the project shows up as completed. I also decided that if I really wanted to see projects go away, I would simply delete the entire app from my device and re-download it. In fact, I tried that and the app was cleared out, ready to start over.

I don ‘t know how many projects the work list page will hold. I set up ten projects and had not received any limit warning.

There is a memo function with this app. In the above photo, look at the very bottom right corner. See the icon that looks like a pencil and paper? Tap it and the memo appears. See photo below.


To begin typing a memo, tap the red Edit. That will switch you to the memo page where you can type. See my memo in the photo below. NOTE: The memo can actually be longer than what shows in my photo below. In the app, the user is able to scroll through the memo. This function could be used to add pattern notes, materials used, gauge information, etc. To hide the memo, tap the memo icon again.



Tapping the wheel icon to the right of the memo icon brings up a box to turn on the app’s sound effects. 

Will I keep the app? I don’t know yet.  I have a few other free apps to try before I decide. I like this one. I get a kick out of it.  I was not easily frustrated with what seemed to bother some reviewers, but I am not afraid to click things to try them. And it ‘s FREE.  

To read the reviews I found click the link. I read them all.

That’s a wrap for this app!

Upon a Sunday Dark and Dreary . . .

November 9, 2014

Upon a Sunday, dark and dreary,

Gram did stuff that made her cheery.  

I don’t know if it was really the weather or a combination of other things, but I decided to be more leisurely today than usual. It helped. It’s not really the blahs . . . just tired and a bit under the weather. So, I downloaded some free apps that I wanted to try . . . nine apps to be exact and most of them were knitting apps.

It started on Friday when the city inspector came to do the final inspection to sign off on a furnace installation. I stood behind him and watched. He thought one section of the venting looked like it had the wrong pitch. I told him I had a level and asked if he wanted to use it. He pulled out his phone instead. There is an app for that!

He had a carpenter’s level app. Cool. Now I have one too! The app I downloaded is Handy Tool-kits and it has a plumb bob, surface level, spirit level, ruler and protractor. I like it and the ruler toggles between inches and cm and it is of course, useable for knitting too! The app has instructions for each of the tools in case the user needs help.


I recently visited a library that had recently gone through a remodel and then I  downloaded their free cloud library app so I can use my device as an eReader for their digital book holdings. I like that app too.

Then, I found some knitting apps I want to try. Some are simply row counters and sometimes it’s enough to just count rows.

The first counter, called Knit Row Counter, looks like a counter in the end of a knitting needle. Swipe down the arrow to increase number by one. Hold down to reset to zero.


The second counter, called Tally Counter is easy to use too. tap the plus sign (+) to increase, the minus sign (-) to decrease and the ‘x’ in the lower left corner to reset. The app only orients vertically and does not change if you orient your device horizontally.


The third counter is called StitchMinder and it has four counters available on the same screen: completed rows, pattern repeats, pattern rows, and increase rows. I like the app but, like the previous counter,  it does not orient horizontally, if that is important to users who want to turn their device that way.


I have three more knitting apps to try before I decide which ones I will keep and which ones I won’t. They involve more detail and one keeps track of project information, so I best get to a project so I can try it!

Breakfast in the Woods

November 6, 2014

Okay, breakfast was only a cup of coffee, but I took it with me on a lovely morning walk after dropping Goodnight at school. I wanted to see if I could remember my old “shortcut” through the woods.

There is a lovely regional park in the area and it has a paved walking path that winds up and down little hills, in and out of wooded areas, wetlands, through open spaces of prairie and then through a tightly packed stand of tall pines that creak and moan in the wind and block a good deal of daylight.

I still walk the path from time to time, but today I wanted to see if I could find my way through the 1,840 acres of the park as I used to do it . . . when I followed my curiosity instead of the path. Officer Friendly would drive there with me, but sit in the car and read the paper while I wondered in the woods.

I knew the trees and hills like the back of my hand and once, long ago, spotted a sleeping deer.

I wanted to see if I could go off the path and find my way again. Obviously, I found my way and am giddy (inside) for having tried.

There are tons of oak trees in the woods . . .


and with tons of oak trees come tons of fallen oak leaves in the autumn. I love shuffling through them at my leisure.  


I found my way to the spot where I had seen the sleeping deer.


The first time I saw this stand of trees, I named it “White Birch Church.”


I wound my way through the trees and made it to the creek . . . yep! I was remembering the way, but I forgot about the way I had to cross the creek if I wanted to keep my feet dry.  I used to take a running leap, but two bad knees and a bum hip would never allow the leap, so I had to see if my one-footed balance was any good as I gingerly stepped across the tree branch bridge. 


Just after I crossed the creek, I had to climb over a large fallen oak. I certainly hope no animal or human was there when it fell. Both branches in my way are from the same tree.


It was huge.  Look at what remains of the trunk! I wonder what kind of sound it made when it fell.


After about an hour and a half of wandering, I found my way back to the paved path and headed to my car. The blacktop path is at the top of the photo below and at the bottom of the hill where I was standing.


I’m glad I remembered my way through the woods. I used to do it on snowshoes and never ran into another human all the while I was there. I will have to go back soon and see if I can find my way through the other half of the acreage. 

Dona Nobis Pacem 2014: Grandma’s Calendar of Memory

November 4, 2014

This isn’t a Christmas story, but it does begin with a Christmas card. It is my peace story for the 2014 Blog Blast for Peace. To read more peace posts, go to Mimi’s Blog4Peace and see who else is posting from around the world. At the end of Mimi’s peace post, there is a list of peace bloggers who have added their links to Mimi’s page.


Grandma’s Calendar of Memory

I have been working on my family ancestry for 3 ½ years now: finding records, building the family tree, visiting cemeteries and county courthouses to read birth, marriage and death records. When I began, I think I wanted a deeper sense of rootedness. In the end, I got so much more.

Nearly one year ago, just after the 2013 Blog Blast for Peace, I sent a very early Christmas card to one of my first cousins. She and I are only months apart in age, but years and miles apart in our shared history. Her parents divorced when she was very, very young and in the aftermath, she and her mother left the last known state of residence any of us ever knew. We, my grandmother, my folks, my other uncle and his children never saw her again.

During the course of my genealogical research, a rather consistent address kept showing up for her and I decided to reach out to her. I sent her the early Christmas card I mentioned above. I established who I was by virtue of my connection to her birth father as my dad’s younger brother. I told her that I wanted to make on offer of sharing any family history she might be inclined to read, photos she might like to see, and some physical items that could give her a sense of our common grandmother.

In my Christmas card, I had written my mailing address as well as my email address. I ended my note with: “I remember you. I have always known about you and want you to know that our Grandmother never forgot about you.”

I put the stamp on the envelope and dropped my card at the Post Office. I did the math to estimate the day it could possibly arrive at her house and then I added some time for the early onset of holiday mail and then added some more time in case she chose to write back via the U.S. mail.

One day, not very long after my card went off in the mail, I opened my email only to see a message from my long-lost cousin. She never knew she had any paternal first cousins and yet she told me she was responding on the very afternoon that my card arrived!

She told me that she had no idea there were cousins from her birth dad’s side of the family and she was very much interested in what I had offered to share with her. When I ask her if she is ready to learn some more, she always says “Yes, please!” and then later, “Thank you!”

So . . . I began to tell her whatever I knew about our common family, but spread it out so she could take in a little at a time. The first photo I sent her was actually a photo of our grandmother’s little Calendar of Memory for her local drugstore, turned to the month of my cousin’s birthdate. All I could say in my message was “Grandma never forgot about you! She marked your birthday on this page and thought about you every year. She spoke of you to us and called you by name. You were never forgotten.”

When my grandmother passed away, my cousin’s birth dad died just a few months later, so my father spent a good deal of time trying to track down my cousin in order to follow my grandmother’s wishes. Dad was never able to find my cousin, so could never do what his mother had hoped. He tried.

I knew how much he had tried, so when I found my cousin and established our email relationship, I sent her some things that represented our grandmother: a crocheted lace tablecloth and a beautiful braided rug. Grandma had made both. I also sent her various photos of our grandmother at different ages.

When I had found my cousin, I told my mother, who was pleasantly surprised. Over the past year, Mom has been combing through her collection of old photographs to look for photos of my uncle, my aunt, and my cousin. What Mom had the most of, was photos of my aunt and uncle.

Then . . . not long ago, Mom ran across a photo of my long-lost cousin, age one and a half at the time, being held by one of our grandmother’s brothers-in-law and his son. That struck a chord with my cousin because it gave her solid evidence that she had actually traveled with her folks across the country to where Grandma lived and met other family members.

Very recently, my other paternal first cousin unearthed an old booklet of family history from my grandmother’s family. It had been prepared over thirty years ago by the grandson of my grandmother’s older brother. I had never seen it or known about it. My cousin generously sent it to me and I made copies for my siblings and for our long-lost cousin – all the while, telling that cousin how much help I was getting from family members in sharing our joint history. The old booklet included anecdotal information, which I found both fascinating and entertaining. It also included – on the very last page – the name of my long-lost cousin. That means that other entire branches of our tree knew about that long-lost cousin too.

I know there had been some difficult feelings about her birth dad, but there were some things I could do to give her another perspective about him and his strengths. I gave her the information and let her put the puzzle pieces together as she saw fit.

In the end, she learned where the influence of her stature came from, as well as her eye color and hair color. But more than that, she recently wrote me an email describing what of our grandmother’s character traits she had and to read that she was finding herself in our grandmother’s nature, gave me unquantifiable peace.

This post is not about what I have done for my long-lost cousin. It is really about what she has done for me. She trusted me when I sent that early Christmas card and her trust has been a gift I’ve cherished for these last many months. She may have trusted me anyway, but it really helped that I had our grandmother’s Calendar of Memory. Grandma used it to remember when to send birthday and anniversary cards, but she must have used it for so much more. There in that little book were names of her siblings, parents, in-laws, and her grandchildren – one of them my long-lost cousin.

When it came time for the anniversary of our grandmother’s birthday this year, I sent my cousin an email to tell her the date. I asked her to celebrate with me across the miles because “Grandma would love, love, love that I found you!”

If peace is family, as it is for so many of us, then how that peace has grown for me this past year with this still recent addition.

Calendar of Memory


I hope your days and lives are filled with peace, wherever you find it, however you make it, or however it comes to you as a gift! 

Some time ago, I worked on the following graphic. I have always liked it because it took some time to get it just right, but I have never shared it. My idea was that if we have peace in our world, then our world is made up of peace. In the graphic below, I also liked that each word alone was a complete message of two words: World Peace; either one can stand alone.

World Peace

Finally, I started a tradition last year with my “Peace Treaties”. My granddaughter asked me to make them again. I did. The colors are different from last year and so are the peace scarves I used as the inspiration. I made enough for Goodnight and me to share: she at school and me at work.

Peace Treaties 2014

Do something peaceful, please. We never know how many years down the road it might still make a huge difference as in the case of my grandmother’s calendar of memory from 58 years ago.

A Red Sock Tale

November 2, 2014

Goodnight is working a double shift today. After I dropped her off at work,  I came home to have a cup of coffee before starting my chores. When I sat down, I noticed one of GN’s dirty socks on the dining room table.

Now . . . that kind of thing usually gets to me and I mull things over in my mind. Why one? Where’s the other one? Why on the table? Where did you take it off? You do know where dirty laundry goes, right? Are you saving yourself the trip to your room with it because you plan to wash a load of clothes tomorrow? And so on . . .  

But, today, as I sat quietly sipping my coffee, I didn’t ponder any of those things. It just reminded me of the young lady who sits in that spot and shares her life with me each time we have a meal together.  It reminded me of how hard she is working while she is away – too tired to notice or even think about a wayward sock. It reminded me of Christmas and the stocking we have always hung for her. Maybe I should just put some treats in that sock on the table and leave a note from St. Nick. It reminded me that she has been through so many things much more serious than leaving a little sock on the wrong place. That single red sock on the table (where it doesn’t belong) reminded me of the little girl who moved into this house when her mother passed away and for a long time would stand at the front door with her arms outstretched and cry, “I just want to go home!” It reminds me of how quiet this house will be when she moves out and finds a life on her own. It reminds me of how her sock size has changed since I took her in. She was five then and now she is nearly 17.

Lots of socks! Many have been left where they don’t belong. But today, all day, that red sock did not seem to badger me. I will do my granddaughter the same favor, though I will be curious to see how long it takes for her to notice it.

I washed her bedding, fluffed her pillows, and made up her bed so she has a fresh place to rest her head after her long day at work. I added an extra quilt to keep her snuggled in. I will let her sleep until her body tells her she has had enough rest. I will fix her a good meal (I’d say breakfast, but she may sleep through that) and when I serve her, I will set her place right. . . . near . . . that . . . little . . . red . . . sock!



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