Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sell Your Home in Any Market - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 47

Since mid-August, my sister, brother, and I have been getting our parents' home ready to sell. After an intense eight weeks of clearing out almost every item in the home from August through October, it went on the market on October 15th...ironically two months after my mom died.

The reason for the rush was that the real estate agent wanted to get as many open houses in during the late-fall when the colors were still changing and the weather was nice. Sales of homes generally go down in the winter - especially in Minnesota - so these nice, warm days are essential to us in terms of getting people to see the home.

I checked out some books from the library about selling homes. One book, Sell Your Home in Any Market by Jim Remley had some helpful ideas. Most of the information in the first part of the book seemed written for an agent or someone wanting more technical information about selling. I was looking for more practical advice for what home sellers can do.

There was a list of 20 last-minute things to do just before a showing including:
- mini-mop-ups
- dust the furniture
- clean off counters
- beds made
- garbage cans empty
- carpets vacuumed
- lights on
- load the dishwasher
- load the washer
- pick up every room
- turn on soft music
- set the temperature between 68 and 72
- freshen it up by putting a drop of vanilla on a lightbulb in each room of the house
- clean out the entry
- pick up the front yard
- move extra vehicles
- open all rooms
- turn on fireplace (this applies to a gas fireplace)
- display photos (ones of the home different seasons)
- display flyers

Since this is an estate sale, not all the items applied. We did and do what applies in our case.

There were ten reasons to list your home during the winter (which may happen in our case):
- fewer showings
- less competition
- homes show better during the holidays
- January is the biggest transfer month
- timing (this applies to the seller needing to meet moving goals more easily which doesn't apply in our case)
- more time to get top dollar
- great time to shop (again, geared to a seller who needs to find another home)
- more advertising
- more attention (from agents since they don't have as much inventory)
- the market (meant for sellers who are looking to buy a new this doesn't apply to us)

Ultimately, the author said, "The best time to list your home is when you're ready to sell." Honestly, that would be never. I don't want to sell the home. However, my brother, sister, or I aren't in a position to hold onto the home or buy one another out of our portion of it. It would be nice if we could...but that's not the reality of our lives.

The other section that was helpful was the five essential "must haves" you need before accepting any offer:

- a substantial earnest money deposit
- a preapproved loan
- time limits for condition and contingency removed (e.g., disclosure review, financing and appraisal, pest and dry rot inspection, whole house inspection, title approval)
- clearly understood terms of sale
- progress benchmarks (e.g., buyer must submit a loan application by a specific deadline; buyer must approve inspections or reports by a specific date)

When thinking about a counter offer, reflect on Is it really worth a counteroffer? In other words, is it worth losing a sale over? Perhaps an extra five days to move is worth a counteroffer, or perhaps not - the key is to understand the risk versus the reward.

Once the home sells and is closed on, the author suggested that the seller leaves the buyers a housewarming gift. This could be as simple as a plant, a bottle of wine, or a dinner for two at a local restaurant. "Be creative, the buyers will love it!"

I don't remember any seller doing this for us. However, I remember an agent giving me a pie to celebrate the purchase of land in Grand Marais (which I have since sold). That was a nice way touch.

The author also said that once a year he and his wife take a home tour. They don't look at new homes. They look at their old ones - the homes that they have owned over the years. For them, it is fun to look at their life in the context of homes that they have owned.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Midlife Orphan - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 46

This week I finished reading Midlife Orphan - Facing Life's Changes Now That your Parents Are Gone by Jane Brooks for the 46th week of the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge.

This book is perhaps one of the better ones that I've read so far about the subject, and captures many of the feelings I have and am experiencing now that both my parents have died.

Some of the key points that resonated with me include:
- Who is ever ready for death? Maybe the best we can do is to say "it's time" when a loved one's suffering is too painful to watch. This allows us to let go of the physical presence. Letting go emotionally is much more complicated.
- Recognizing that you are now an orphan is one of the issues that is unique to the loss of the last parent.
- What really defines an the loneliness, the sense of abandonment, and the constant longing.
- There's an aloneness like you've never felt before when your last parent dies. These are the people who cared about you beyond anything you can imagine. It's just like the way you care about your own kids. Once your parents are gone, there's nobody else who will ever be there for you like that, not even your spouse.
- We are grieving for our family of origin - the last attachment to our childhood.
- The second half of life is to refocus our life around a new set of values. In contrast to the more materialistic, extroverted values of earlier years, these are values that are spiritual in nature.
- In the face of the deadline brought to our attention by our last parent's death, we find ourselves turning outward with renewed purpose and vigor. After all, there is much to do and no time to waste.
- Ars Moriendi - a model for "the good death."
- After the last parent dies and the public mourning ends, adult orphans tend to turn inward to deal with this unique loss. We find ourselves mourning privately, reflecting on our parents and our childhood but keeping our feelings and thoughts largely to ourselves.
- We stop looking back with longing and instead begin to examine who we are now - minus parents - and where we're heading. Altered indelibly by the loss of our parents, we have grown up. And with that growth, we begin to assess our legacy, the inheritance that goes beyond money and possessions. We sift through the legacy of values, memories, and traditions.
- In our initial grief over the loss of the last parent, we don't have much energy for relationships. if the family doesn't make an effort to reach out to us, we are likely to let the relationship go.
- Midlife orphans will navigate through uncharted rivers of change until we find peace with our parents and with ourselves. As we step to the helm, this becomes our course.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Inspire Me Monday

Over on Create with Joy, there's something called "Inspire Me Monday." It's "a place to share your creative inspirations, sharpen your creative vision, and showcase your creative talents." The goal is to write and share a post; and - in so doing - you "inspire others and nurture your creative spirit."

Inspirations and Delights

This past week, some of the youth and parents from our 4-H club went to WE Day in St. Paul. It was an inspiring day filled with speakers and performers. 

One of the speakers was Mae Jemison who was the first woman of color to travel in space. As an American physician and NASA astronaut, she went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor on September 12, 1992.

Before doing that, she served in the Peace Corps from 1985 to 1987. She was selected by NASA to join the astronaut corps. She resigned from NASA in 1993 to form a company researching the application of technology to daily life.

Another speaker who had the 18,000+ members of the audience laughing and engaged with his message was Henry Winkler. He is an American actor, director, comedian, producer, and author. Most people my age and older know him best as "Arthur Fonzarelli" or "The Fonz" in the 1970s sitcom Happy Days.

At WE Day, Mr. Winkler  spoke about having a dyslexia, which was not diagnosed with he was 31 years old. That was the point when his son, Jed, was diagnosed. During that process Winkler realized that he’d had similar learning challenges.

But Winkler says he did not get much support as a student. “I was only told I would never achieve,” Winkler proved the naysayers wrong.

He said, “You are all powerful. Every one of you."

What has been rewarding for me to see this week also is the impact of attending WE Day on the youth. At the Club Banner Committee meeting, the youth came up with this preliminary design for our banner based on an image they saw at WE Day. 

They will develop this idea and then create a 3'x5' banner that we will display at our club meetings as well as enter in the County Fair. If it places well, it could be shown at the Minnesota State Fair.

Today, Sophia and I checked on the bees. We put some winter patties and 2:1  sugar water in the hive for the bees. They are still active and foraging, but there's really not much (if anything) out there. We need to make sure they have enough honey to last them through the winter.

On the way back inside, I looked at the pasture. The milkweed pods have burst open. For the most part, the seeds have been dispersed by the wind. However, there are still some clinging to pods...not quite ready to let go yet.

It reminded me of how - when the girls were younger - they would run through the pastures and on the nature trail in the back part of the farm with the seeds in their hands. Their fluff (comas) would carry the seeds in the wind when the girls let go. We would watch the seeds float off to find another area in which to settle and grow. 

An Idea that Inspires Me

A friend suggested that we dissect (or at least cut in half) this abandoned wasp nest. A couple of weeks ago, it was perfectly enclosed, but we've had some weather that taken a toll on the nest, so I brought it inside today so it doesn't get damaged any more.

I've never seen the inside of a paper wasp nest, so even seeing a peek inside one section is - to me - fascinating. To think: that from nothing, insects created this structure.  

Music that Inspires Me

There is a song that I like called "Meditations on Breathing." It was sung at White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church a couple years ago by the choir and congregation, and it was one of the most beautifully sung pieces I had heard because people sung the lyrics at different times and at different levels (e.g., soprano, alto). 

I haven't been able to find anything like it on the internet, but there are two versions of the song available on YouTube. Here's the first:

Here's the second version:

The other song that I enjoy listening to is called "Kyrie." It's on the CD Illumination . Richard Souther has original compositions and arrangements based on the work of Hildegard von Bingen. Here it is:

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Zero Debt - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 45

For the 45th week in the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge, I chose Zero Debt - The Ultimate Guide to Financial Freedom by Lynnette Khalfani.

This book was geared for those who are in some serious super scary levels of debt. As I read it, I ended up skimming through parts of it since it didn't apply to what I was looking for when I found the book at the library.

Nonetheless, there were a couple of appropriate things that I'll follow up with:
- Call 888-5-OPT-OUT to get of credit bureaus' databases for pre-screened mailings.
- Contact to get off mailing lists

The author included a pledge which would have been helpful to me when I was in college and learning how to manage credit cards. I was receiving credit card "invitations" in the mail and I thought it would be something I needed to do as a young adult. In retrospect, I should have asked my parents about what I should have done when I received these mailings.

At any rate, this pledge would have been helpful at the time as a good reminder each time I was contemplating a purchase:

I, insert your name here, realize that I am in a financial hole. Therefore, I hereby vow to stop digging myself further into debt. I acknowledge that I can never be free from money worries if I continue to spend excessively, for the wrong reasons, or on unnecessary things. From this day forward (insert month date and year) I will be more conscious of my spending habits, being careful to keep my behavior in line with my desire to reduce my debt and achieve financial freedom.

Another tip was to create an effective filing system including:
- banking records (including checking and savings accounts)
- bills paid
- budget (for itemized listings of all your expenses, income, and assets)
- credit cards
- insurance (auto, health, life, and property insurance)
- investments
- mortgage
- receipts
- taxes

The author also suggested saving money at a credit union that's far away from your home. Have a "hands off" account where it's somewhat difficult or inconvenient to access your money.

One last tidbit: If you save/invest $150 a month, earning 10% here's how it will grow:

            Actual  Your          $ with Interest
            Money Saved         at each year-end
Year 1 $1,800                     $    1,980
Year 2 $3,600                     $    3,967
Year 3 $5,400                     $    6,267
Year 4 $7,200                     $    8,808
Year 5 $9,000                     $  11,615
Year 10 $18,000                 $  30,726
Year 20 $36,000                 $113,905
Year 30 $54,000                 $339,073

Monday, November 2, 2015

Inspire Me Monday

Over on Create with Joy, there's something called "Inspire Me Monday." It's "a place to share your creative inspirations, sharpen your creative vision, and showcase your creative talents." The goal is to write and share a post; and - in so doing - you "inspire others and nurture your creative spirit."

Inspirations and Delights

I've been looking at recipes in preparation for the "healthy snacks" session I'm teaching the 4-H Project Day on Saturday. Came across a recipe on Eats Well With Others for a four-layer Mediterranean Tabbouleh-Hummus Dip

I've been planting lots of flower bulbs during the past week with the hope that in the spring and early summer that parts of the front- and backyards will have lots of vivid colors.

One of the gardens I planted on Wednesday will be all red and purple tulips. 

Other gardens are pink and purple flowers; yellow lilies with multi-tulips; and purple and yellow flowers. 

The bulbs are in addition to the hosta, fern, and bleeding heart gardens under the pine trees; the new rose bed I planted with roses from my parents' home; and peony garden. 

An Idea that Inspires Me

I've been thinking a lot about my parents over the Halloween weekend. This was the first holiday without both of them. (Dad died in 2012 so there have been 4 Halloweens now without him; and Mom just died in August 2015 so this was the first one without her.)
Mom, Dad, Sophia, and Olivia
The last Halloween that we spent 
at my parents' home (October 31, 2010).
The following year, 
my dad was at the nursing home.
We used to go over each year and enjoy dinner together and 
then go trick-or-treating.

I came across a website called The Living Memories Project. On the page about them it said, "Sooner or later – if we live long enough – we will suffer the loss of a loved one. Be it a parent, a spouse, a favorite cousin or an old friend, we will feel a painful emptiness where once there was something tangible and pleasurable.

"Sometimes that emptiness simply does not go away. 'Prolonged grief disorder' – grief that lasts at least six months after a death – may affect more than a million people annually. (New York Times – 9/29/09)"

The website continued, "To help ourselves and others, we undertook the writing of this book as a way of learning and sharing how others have kept alive, in both practical and spiritual ways, their loved ones’ strength and inspiration.

"The Living Memories Project details, through interviews, anecdotes, essays, poems and photographs, the many ways that both ordinary individuals and celebrities incorporate the presence of their loved ones into their lives. Some who have shared their stories describe encounters or occurrences in which they strongly felt the loved one’s presence, while others have drawn upon rituals or recipes or created a tangible memorial."

In the pages of their book, readers can find inspiration and solace from others’ experiences.

You can even share your story here: Your story may be included in the next edition of The Living Memories Project.

Music that Inspires Me

On Sunday, I saw the video of Stairway to Heaven sung by Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, along with Jason Bonham, playing Stairway to Heaven as a tribute for Led Zeppelin on December 2, 2012, at Kennedy Center. 

The choruses and orchestral elements make this a song that I enjoyed listening to several times.

The video below came across my Facebook feed last week. It's a young girl - Angelina Jordan - who sings "What a Difference a Day Makes." At only nine years old, her voice is impressive and sounds much older than her chronological age.

According to Wikipedia, Angelina "is a Norwegian singer who shot to fame after singing classic jazz pieces, including Gloomy Sunday and Fly Me to the Moon, which went viral on YouTube.

She won the 2014 season of Norway´s Got Talent, better known as Norske Talenter in Norway. After the Norway's Got Talent win in 2014, and with more than 40 millions combined YouTube views, she was featured in People MagazineTime, and other news outlets all around the world."

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Garage Sale America - Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks - Week 44

Back in August, after my mom died, my sister, brother, and I had considered having an estate sale. After meeting with several estate sale companies, we realized that there simply weren't enough items to make a sale profitable or worthwhile.

My parents lived frugally and had what they needed to furnish a home and live comfortably. Between my siblings and I, we divided the items between our families based on who needed and/or wanted items.

When we were done, we had a lot of items that no one needed or wanted. That's the nature of having a home for 41 years...and of growing up in during The Depression. Our parents kept a lot of things convinced that they would need them again one day.

With the remaining items, we considered having a garage sale. Ultimately, we decided not to go ahead with one. Rather, we are boxing and donating the items to three different non-profit organizations that have thrift shops. The proceeds from the sale of the items will be used to support the programs that benefit people in need. This would have made our parents happy.

During the time when we were considering doing a garage sale, I checked out a book from the library called Garage Sale America by Bruce Littlefield. I thought it would have some helpful tips about having a garage sale and how to set one up. Rather, it was a book that documented the author's coast-to-coast tour of America's garage sales.

It had information about garage sales, how to get deals when you go to garage sales, and what to look for when at them. It was more of a buyer's book than seller's book. So, if someone were passionate about going to garage sales and finding deals...this is the book for her/him. For my purpose, it wasn't what I was looking for at this stage in my life.

What I did find interesting - and what reflected what I was going through at the time - was the following passage called A Table Full of Stories. "The stories here are, at surface, of the pursuit of objects we adore, but as people talk about those objects - whether with fondness or good-riddance - we get a vivid snapshot of the life of the beholder. Looking at a garage sale - its objects and its citizens - is like visiting an art gallery filled with detailed self-portraits."

As I read that and reflected what my parents had a lot of surplus items of, I could see what was important to them beyond their core values: holidays (especially Christmas and Easter) and entertaining (for family and friends).

As people described my mom after she died, they talked about her gracious hospitality....memories of Christmas parties and open houses at her home...and delicious meals. It seemed fitting, then, that there would be quite a few items that were these categories of possessions that belonged to my parents.

So, although this book wasn't what I was anticipating, it did give me pause for thought as I reflected back on the many memories of holidays that my parents made magical and special for us kids and for our own kids; and for the many times we gathered together as a family to share a meal and celebrate a meaningful occasion...or simply just enjoy being together.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Countdown to Halloween - The Big Day!

Today we did our Halloween activities in the morning since Sophia and Olivia were spending the afternoon/evening and overnight with friends in St. Paul.

For breakfast, we had Jack-O-Lantern Orange Fruit Cups. I saw the idea on a pin on Pinterest that led to Simplee Thrifty.


3 Medium Navel Oranges
1 cup Mixed Fruit (I used cantaloupe, red raspberries, and black grapes that were cut in half)


Slice off the tops of the oranges. Using a spoon, scoop out the pulp of the oranges. (Note: when doing this, you are essentially juicing the orange. So, do this step over a cup or bowl so you can drink the orange juice.)

Cut out faces on each orange to resemble a Jack O Lantern. Fill each orange with mixed fruit and serve.

After breakfast, Olivia carved a tiny pumpkin that she picked at Lendt's Pumpkin Patch. We went on a field trip and hay ride with our 4-H club on October 22nd.

Despite its small size, it was filled with seeds.

Shadow was relaxing on the window ledge watching the activity outside in the front yard.

Later on, the girls carved the pumpkins they picked out from Tom's Pumpkin Patch..

As we always do, we set up newspapers on the kitchen floor to do the carving.

We let the dogs in the kitchen after the girls began carving. The dogs both have a lot of puppy energy still so this was an exciting activity for them. Their tails were wagging and they needed to be as close as possible to the action.

They circled around the pumpkin-carving area. Even Shadow came into the kitchen to see what was going on.

Aspen was quite curious as she watched Olivia.

She was fascinated with the seeds and pumpkin-innards that were coming out of the pumpkin.

Surprisingly, for the size of the pumpkins, there weren't a lot of seeds.

There still are, though, plenty to make roasted pumpkin seeds tomorrow.

I'm going to be following a recipe from a pin that led to Hudson Valley Magazine for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.


1½ cups pumpkin seeds
2 Tbsp olive oil or non-stick cooking spray
1 tsp salt


Separate seeds from pulp and strings. Rinse in water and pat dry.

Toss dried seeds in olive oil and place in a single layer on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Or lay flat on baking sheet and spritz with cooking spray.) Season with salt.

Place in 325┬║ F oven, stirring often to ensure even browning until a pleasant aroma is apparent (approximately 25 minutes).

Remove immediately and transfer to pan or plate to cool. May be stored in air-tight container for a few days.

Nutrition facts (per 1 oz. serving): 180 calories, 6g protein, 3g carbohydrates, 16g fat, 240mg sodium, 0mg cholesterol, less than 1g fiber.

After carving pumpkins, the girls did their annual hand tracing on their candy bags. Olivia picked a spot for this year's hand tracing next to the outline of her hand from the first year of trick or treating in 2004.

In 11 years, her hands have grown quite a bit.

After I traced her hand, I wrote the year and her costume (fallen angel). She added her name and a drawing.

She drew a pair of fallen angel wings. She said it looked more like a butterfly - not wings - though.

It was Sophia's turn next.

The outlines of her hands have moved onto the back of her bag since she's been trick-or-treating longer than Olivia.

After I was done tracing her hand, I added the year and her costume (Good Witch).

She added her name and a drawing of a witch's hat and broomstick.

I'm so happy that we started this tradition when the girls first started trick-or-treating. It's hard to believe how much they have grown. It's also fun to read and remember what costumes they wore each year.

The last thing we did was make deviled eggs with spiders made from black olives. The pin on Pinterest led to a recipe on


6 hard-boiled eggs, halved
3 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip)
1⁄2 teaspoon ground mustard (I use liquid mustard)
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
Black olives


Cut eggs in half lengthwise. Slip out yolks and mash. Stir in mayonaise, mustard, salt, and pepper. Cut whole olive in half. Put one half on mashed yolk for the spiders body.

Thinly slice the other half for the spiders legs. Put four legs on each side. (Note: I only did three legs because the eggs were rather small.)

We left to go to St. Paul so Sophia and Olivia could spend Halloween afternoon and evening with Jaina, Brandon, and Jacob. They are members of our 4-H club, and the kids all have similar interests and along so well together.

The boys were dressed as ninjas, Olivia is a fallen angel, Jaina is an ocelot, and Sophia is a good witch.

They enjoyed lunch together, played together in the afternoon, and went trick-or-treating with other homeschoolers who are part of a social/activity club in the evening.

This is the first year that I haven't gone trick-or-treating with the girls. I will miss going out with them each year, but am so thankful to have had the past 12 years to be able to enjoy with them.

The memories - from those first years when they were toddlers and we spent the holiday with my parents to transitioning to spending Halloween as a family in our town once the girls' older cousins had "aged out" of trick-or-treating to giving the girls the opportunity to enjoy experiencing Halloween with their friends - all have made this day a special one.

So, it's a bittersweet day I not only reflect on these memories, but I recall my parents - my first Halloween without both of them.
...How excited they were when we were children to dress us up in homemade costumes.
...How they went trick-or-treating with us until we were old enough to go on our own.
...How intently they would listen to us tell about the houses we went to and the candy we received.
...The special meals we'd enjoy together as a family - with the table all decorated in orange and black.
...How they doted on Sophia and Olivia when they would come all dressed up in their costumes.

Many good memories.

Many things to be thankful for today.

Nature Photo of the Week - Week 43 - Bridge

This week has been a rather dreary one with constant rain. There was even some light snow on Wednesday, October 28th that made a brief appearance and then melted by the next day. 

This morning and early afternoon it was raining again. Sophia and Olivia hoped by this evening that the rain would stop so they wouldn't have to carry umbrellas while trick-or-treating. The rain did, indeed, stop by early afternoon.

This photo, the 43rd one of the year for the Nature Photo of the Week challenge, shows a break in the rain. The photo was taken from the shore of the St. Croix River at Osceola Landing. This is from the Minnesota side of the river looking north towards the bridge that connects Minnesota to Wisconsin.

We traveled across it quite a few times this past week:

- Monday - we helped create treat bags with the seniors at the nursing home so they could pass out candy to preschoolers who came to visit them on Friday all dressed up in Halloween costumes.

- Friday - Sophia and Olivia participated in the Halloween Costume Contest at the nursing home. Afterwards, we all helped serve root beer and puff corn for a mid-afternoon snack.

- Saturday - I went to Urgent Care to have my head checked out after the car door hit it on Tuesday while I was at my parents' home. I had the car parked on their driveway which is on a hill. When I opened the door, I must have been standing too close to the door or at the wrong angle and it hit my forehead.

Long story short: I've had pain where the door hit my forehead since Tuesday and I thought I noticed that it looked kind of swollen. That or my skin is aging in an odd way.

After headaches all week and a rather disconcerting moment of confusion when looking at my car and not realizing it was mine...I went in to Urgent Care today.

Ends up I have a concussion and my forehead is, in fact, swollen. I'm supposed to take it easy for two weeks and be very careful to try not to bump my head again. Apparently if your head is injured while the first concussion/your brain is healing the outcome potentially isn't as favorable the second time around.

So: rest...making sure I'm careful with my head and it doesn't get hit on my forehead...and alternating Ibuprofen and Tylenol until the pain and swelling go away. And, that, is Halloween and my nature photo all wrapped up in one.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Countdown to Halloween - Day 5 - Mummy Theme + Volunteering at the Nursing Home

For the fifth day of the Countdown to Halloween, we did a Mummy theme. I found a pin on Pinterest that led to Your Home Based Mom.

The recipe is an easy one - just little powdered sugar doughnuts that are drizzled with white chocolate. The original recipe suggested melting white Wilton melts. I used almond bark that comes in the big blocks. It was the first thing I found at the store and it basically is the same thing.

After melting the almond bark, we took a spoon or knife and drizzled it onto the doughnuts.

For a more precise look, you can put the melted chocolate in a Ziploc bag and snip off the corner to apply it.

The last step is adding googly eyes. I couldn't find them in the store and I didn't want to spend time making hundreds of googly eyes. So, we just used sprinkles in the shapes of bats and pumpkins for the eyes. It was fine. Not something that we would photograph closely for people to be inspired by...but fun to make and eat.

At some point, if I am so inclined to make googly eyes, this is the recipe for them from Your Home Based Mom.

Royal Icing

4 egg whites
4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract, optional
Water as needed


Beat egg whites large bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sugar and lemon extract. Beat at high speed until thickened and desired consistency. If it is too thick add a few drops a water, a little at a time. If it is too runny add some more sugar.

Also at breakfast, we made Colorful Fruit Skewers. This idea also came from a pin on Pinterest that led to Buzz Feed.

Melon, cubed
Black grapes


Take pieces of fruit and place them on a skewer.

In the afternoon, we went to the nursing home - just like we did last year - for the costume contest. Some of the staff and volunteers dress up, and then the residents vote for their favorite costume.

Olivia dressed up as a pioneer girl and Sophia was a vampire.

Everyone went around and talked to the residents.

There was a wide variety of costumes and the residents enjoyed seeing and talking with everyone who dressed up for the party.

The girls had fun talking with the residents - especially those who they've known for many years now.

After the costume contest, the girls and I served root beer and puff corn to the residents.

It was a nice way to spend a Friday afternoon; and we know that those who went to the party had a fun time.