ON A COLD DAY LIKE THIS.... Dreaming of Mackinac Island.


On a cold day like this, I need to go deep into the recesses of my memory and pull out some summer days to cheer me up.  Lucky for me, I  have pictures from our trip to Mackinac Island,  to help it along. 

Because this is my outside thermometer at 8:30 a.m. with the sun shining on it.  Our low last night,
   -14 without windchill.  You know it's bad, when the weatherman mentions that this part of the country is the coldest in the world right now.  HUH?  Colder than Antarctica?  Surely he must jest.

So today I will go  to one of my favorite places.  Michigan's Mackinac Island.  You know it's good, they even filmed the movie Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour here.

Where the only way to get there is by Ferry.

Where the only mode of transportation besides walking and biking is this. 

Where every home is amazing even though  most of them are summer homes.

To visit the Grand Hotel
With their beautiful lush gardens...

On a beautiful June day.

And admire the beautiful flowers that are everywhere.

Spend some romantic, quality time with my husband away from the stresses of every day life.

And then top it off with the most glorious sunset!
So that's where I went today, if only in my imagination.  Have a great week-end everyone, I am off to spend quality time with my husband.  Cindy


Outdoor Wednesday/Deer Frolicking in the Snow!


This short little video clip (very short)  was taken with our digital camera and through our living room picture window.  (If you want to make it bigger, press ctrl and scroll mouse away from you)   Had we had stepped outside, they would have scattered. For a $5.00 bag of corn, we have cheap and fun enertainment. Hey it's winter in Wisconsin, we have to get creative!!!  You can hear us in the background counting deer, like I said it's winter in Wisconsin.  Just trying to keep our sanity during these long winter months!  Do you have anything special you use to combat cabin fever?  Just don't tell me a week in Mexico, although that would work.    Please join our hostess Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer, for more Outdoor Wednesday Posts.


I LOVE FIGURE SKATING!!! U.S. Figure Skating Finals and a Pillow Project too!


The cute little girl gliding across the ice doing a very nice spiral,( If I do say so) is my daughter Katie at the age of 8.  These pic's were scanned in, so a little blurry.  She loved to skate!  The glide across the ice, the speed, the jumping and spinning were all her forte'.  She tried dance and skating at the age of 4 and skating won out.   Mostly  she liked to go fast.  And fast she did, outskating most of the hockey players.   Forever having contests with them at open skates to see who could go faster.

At age 16, she did a duet with another gal to the song Sweet Gypsy Rose, by Tony Orlando.  Katie was Gypsy Rose and the other gal wanted to be Tony Orlando.  (check my music here)

It turned out to be one of the cutest numbers and a real crowd pleaser at our annual ice show.

I have lot's of scrap material from figure skating dresses that had been specially made for her.  Here she is, age 11, in an outfit that she wore for an artistic skate.  She skated to a Shania Twain number and it had a country/western feel to it.
Since I've been in a pillow making mood, I decided to start using some of the left over material. It's all stretchy and shiny and not that easy to work with.  Which is one reason,  I was lucky to have found a fabulous seamstress who loved to sew and design Katie's skating outfits through the years.  So with valentine's day in mind, I decided to make her a pillow using left over material from this dress. 

Do you like my little note frame?

Tonight is the US Figure Skating finals.  I have been so frustrated this week not being able to watch.  ESPN used to carry a lot of the preliminaries, the short programs, the pairs, the ice dance.   Two years ago, Katie and I were there.  The finals were in St. Paul, MN and as a gift for her senior year in skating, Katie and I attended. It was magical, fun and breathtaking.   Being there in person is way better than tv.  It was a great way to cap off 13 years on the ice.   So check your local listings, NBC, central time starts at 2:00 p.m. with the short program and ice dance.  Then tonight, it's live with the ladies final at 8:00 p.m.  Sasha Cohen is trying to make a come-back and make the Olympic team.  She is one of my all time favorites and I so hope she does.  I can't wait for the Olympics and tonight the U.S. team will be decided.  Skating and the Olympics will help me make it through this long winter.    Have a great week-end everyone!


Mantle Party/The Winter Look!


I am joining Beth at A to Z for my first Mantel Party.  I just found Beth's blog and have been reading some of her back posts, want interesting stories she has to tell.  Now onto the party!

I will call this my winter look.  And since winter is long in Wisconsin, I need to find something that will be warm and cozy to get me through this long season.  We use our fireplace on a regular basis, it's wood burning and it gives such a nice cozy feel to the room. 

If you would like to read about our fireplace facelift, that only cost about $50.00, you can do that by clicking here  I purchased the screen off E-Bay for only $50.00 plus 20.00 shipping.  It's cast iron, nice and fairly heavy and I thought it brightened things up a bit.   Plus I love the cottage look . I like to change my mantle for the seasons, and Christmas of course, but I don't quite have the ambition for a valentine or St. Patty's Day change over.  But who knows, maybe that's in the future, or maybe not.  I am feeling a bit down in the dumps today, we've had several cloudy day's in a row and I think I am sun deprived.  For all you ladies living in the warm climates, can you bottle some up and send it my way. 
Thanks for coming by, Cindy


Outdoor Wednesday/ Hoar Frost!


    " Isn't is beautiful, my mom proclaimed" !   "Isn't what beautiful," I asked?  "You know, the hore frost."  "What is hore frost" I asked , thinking she had mispronounced or was a bit confused.  "The trees", she said.  "They are filled with hoar frost."

     Like a good little daughter, I looked it up on the internet, and sure enough she was right!  Hoar Frost; Tiny, solid deposits of water vapor from saturated air when the temperature of surfaces is below freezing.

 Moral of the story, I guess your never too old to learn from your Mama!  Join our hostess, Susan, for more Outdoor Wednesday posts.

  And yes I was driving, but hey, I was only going about 10mph and I came to a stop to snap the pics! 


A Hutch facelift and some Pillows I made too! Met. Monday/Blue Monday.


Hi All.  I kind of holed up in my house this past week-end to sew, clean and organize.  And now I'm getting a little case of cabin fever.  But before I venture out,  I  am joining Susan for Met. Monday and Sally for Blue Monday.   Thank-you ladies for being our hostess's with the mostess!   I found myself in the pillow making mood and the tea-cup heart pillow was my first little project this week-end.  I am kind of happy how she turned out.

Last week I went fabric shopping with some projects in mind. 

And my little heart shaped blue tea-cup pillow will go here.  This was fun to make and pretty easy too. Total cost to make about $4.00.

 Since I like the heart shaped I decided to make another one, only this time I  used the red ticking fabric.
I had a little red ball fringe that I added ,and it will go here.  Total cost to make about $4.00 , plus I get the fabrics I want.  When I shop for pillows, I seldom find the fabric I have in mind or if I do, the cost is too high.

Next to another little pillow I made last Spring. 

But wait, the highlight of my week-end was a visit from the UPS man.  My friend Chari, @  Happy to Design  sent me this darling little angel holding a little bird.  Isn't she beautiful, she reminds me of Chari.  And she looks perfect sitting here, next to my new pillow.  Now if you don't know Chari, you need to head on over and check out her Gorgeous Blog.  She makes everything she touches, so beautiful!!!

Well I had one more piece of fabric and a antique hutch jammed to the gills and still decorated with a Christmas bow.  This baby is very old, and originally it was used to cool pies in.  I bought it for $100 and even though it's a little rickety, I still love it!  Marla, @ Always Nesting had a tutorial recently on  using fabric to line the back of shelves.  Her's turned out beautifully and so I decided that's what this baby needed.   Marla used cardboard she cut to fit the back of her shelves.   But since I am married to a Woodworking Teacher and since this baby could use some extra support, Hubby cut a piece of hardboard to fit.

Empty overloaded hutch.

OOH, Dusty around the edges here, after I removed the liner.

We used masking tape to adhere the fabric to the hardboard, pulling tightly and .....

 Presto, Chango, Brand New Look.  The cost of my fabric was about $6.00, it took a yard and a half.  The Hardboard was left over from another project and hubby just cut it to size.

Much better, I think.  I just lined the shelves with placemats and napkins for now.  And when I get tired of this fabric, it will be a cinch to change it to something else.  Thanks Marla for the great idea. 

All done and on to the next project!  But first, I need to head to Subway since their is nothing to eat in this house and then come back to visit all your lovely blogs! 


And the Winner Is.....Plus, Some Outdoor Winter Scenes with Critters


     And the Winner is........  Thank-you to Everyone who came by and offered best wishes and entered my Blog-a-Versary  give-away.  I am still trying to get back to everyone who left wishes and I should hopefully catch up this week-end.  I used the True Random Number Service.  There were a 135 entries and the winning number is 53!!!  Now just let me say, I counted and re-counted and re-counted again just to make sure I had everyone's entries just right.  And the winning entry is http://onesimplecountrygirl.blogspot.com/.   Congratulations Donna, please e-mail me @  applestonecottage@gmail.com so I can get your package in the mail.  Donna is such a sweet gal .  She also lives in one of  my favorite states,the beautiful mountains of Virginia.   Go say hi when you get a chance.  Donna also has a give-away going on herself that you will want to check out.

    This has been one of those weeks that started out slowly but has got a little crazier towards the end.
 Like many of you, I have my eyes glues to the TV every chance I get to keep updated on the situation in Haiti.   It is so scary and heartbreaking.  I am going to donate something as soon as I get off here.   I am sure every little bit will be needed.

     One day a week, I work out of town.  This was my view as I headed out yesterday.  It is really beautiful and although it's cold we have warmed up quite a bit from last week.  Well yesterday, I didn't get more than 100 yards when I saw these beautiful deer running along side the road.

     It was only about 7:30 a.m. and so peaceful and quiet.   But once they saw me it was more like this.

And  me trying to drive and get some pics at the same time.  Of course there is hardly any traffic, so not as difficult as it sounds.

      And then past this old barn  with a few twinkly Christmas lights still going.  I so enjoy the peacefulness of the drive and the outstanding beauty.  I may not like the cold so much, but I sure do appreciate the view!  Have a wonderful week-end everyone and thanks again for stopping by, I always love hearing from you.


GOODBYE; Or Pull out the Hankies, Part II. A Love Story.


About a month and a half ago, I posted a story my Mom had written after my Father's passing. Today, I'm sharing with you the 2nd part of this story. It's sad, but it's also joyous and loving.  When I first began typing, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. It's been just under 3 years since my Dad passed away but it still feels like yesterday.  I hope you can take the time to read this because it is a wonderful love story and we can all use a little more of that in our day to day lives. From time to time, I will post a new story that my Mom has written over the years, many that were published and/ or appeared in a column she wrote. I will  call it "Jane's Corner".   Enjoy! Cindy

by Jane H.

As we neared the small country church surrounded by the beautiful old trees, silent witnesses through the years to gatherings both happy and sad, I saw a jumble of cars and trucks parked in every available spot. It is a sight I will always remember because who had arrived in those vehicles that morning in March had come to pay their last respects to the man I would have to learn somehow to live without. And for one sweet moment, I felt a great leap of joy. If only Warren could see all these friends and family members who had come to say goodbye to him, he would have been incredulous. "Don't even bother to have services for me when I go," he had always told me. "No one would come anyway; just sprinkle my ashes out along the river and be done with it."
My husband was always a modest, quiet man, not much impressed with pomp and circumstance or affectation. Often, is seemed to me, he covered his shyness with an air of haughtiness and some folks were put off by that, particularly in his younger years. But I was not one of those. I first met him when I was a giggly 16 year-old and he was a highly sophisticated (or so it seemed to me) 25-year-old, fresh out of the Navy,man of the world. He was just what a farm-raised,highly imaginative, girl wanted more than anything, after having just finished Gone with The Wind-----a Rhett Butler all her own. And on that fateful October afternoon so many years ago, when first I laid eyes on this superb, potentially perfect guy, I knew even in my young , inexperienced heart that he and I had some special connection.  Call it fate or serendipity or whatever you will, I just knew.
However, it took Mr. Butler a bit longer to believe. It was several years before he was convinced that I was at last grown up enough for him to date. In the meantime I did date lots of other guys and in a few instances even felt a tiny connection to a few, but always, even when a guy began to touch a small place in my heart, there was Warren. And when I was 19, escorted by my father, I walked down the aisle to meet this man, put my arm in his and offered him my entire life for the next 51 years. And he gave me his even though sometimes I think he just hadn't known what a huge, maybe even precarious step he was taking.
Warren was a man of responsibility. I don't think in the beginning of our marriage I appreciated this, wrapped up as I was in those beautiful bedroom eyes and his roguish smile. I think I simply took it for granted that he would always do what he said he would.  I never  had to worry that he might not show up when I needed him or forget to come home for a family party or other special occasion.  He never forgot my birthday or anniversary. 

     As years passed I began to understand just how important this steadfastness is to the very heart of a relationship.  The entire world could falter and break, but like the sunrise, Warren would be there for me.  I  could count on that truth always.  And that  may just be what I will miss more painfully than anything.  Except for my mother, I think no one has ever or will ever love me as unconditionally as he did.
     We were two such different individuals.  Long ago we had taken one of those tests ( I think it was the Meyers/Briggs test) and learned that our personalities were as far apart as was possible to be, so far apart that only four percent of these types of marriages ever last.  And there was a footnote-----those unions that did survive happened only because there truly was a strong, undying love between the couple.  I think that was our forte. 
     Oh we had our moments.  Times when I was nearly certain I couldn't live another day with this man.  Times when his Rhett Butlerness just wasn't holding its magic sheen.  And I know I gave him many a rough path to navigate, but after the storm passed there we were Scarlett and Rhett once again.
     Warren was quick and impatient while I was slowish (this sometimes drove him completely crazy), but more patient.  He could flare-up in anger over some small thing ( I often accused him of mountain climbing over molehills ) but be done with the entire sorry event and ready to smile again while I was just beginning to work up to a good stout pout.
     Warren was a man of intense loyalties.  He loved his family with his entire heart and soul.  And for a man who long believed, for reasons known only to him, that he could not father a child, he never ever complained about the small bundles that for many years arrived at our home rather frequently.  I had warned him from the beginning that I wanted about a dozen kids.  He often told me he hadn't thought I was really serious.  One would think after a half dozen or so he might have taken me a little more seriously.  I am eternally grateful that he didn't.  Our eight children are Warren's legacy and his most precious gift to me.
     As a father he was as good at diapering and rocking a baby as anyone I knew.  For years he helped me bathe and bed our babies every night, but the lullabies he sang ( I use this word quite loosely) to these little ones could have possibly ruined their ears for music forever.  Although he had a rich and compelling spoken voice, he must have been totally tone-deaf.  But no matter, our children knew the feel of a father's arms around them and the comfort and security of a loving lap when they needed one.
     He couldn't cook and I think he had at sometime or other made a promise to him self not to ever learn, because then someone might expect him to do it-----he was clever that way.  He was meticulous about many things, things that never quite took on the same sense of gravity for me.  He felt acutely that there was only one proper way to load the dishwasher and after so many years of being awakened early in the morning to the sounds of unloading and reloading of the dishwasher because someone (possibly his wife) had once again done it out of order, I simply let that be his job.

     He was much neater than I have ever been and often must have felt like doing physical harm to me as I stumbled about the house searching for the latest lost item.  He kept the addresses and phone numbers for family and friends in the little book he carried faithfully in his pocket every day of his life.  Without that little book, I would have probably lost contact with many dear friends through the years.  But whenever I needed an address or phone number his hand would reach automatically for his pocket and nearly always he had what I needed.
     He loved organization and I think he yearned for a more predictable life than what frequently was his plight, although he told me often, that he knew his life without me would have been terribly boring.  I must always remember, he told me, that if he went first he wouldn't have changed a thing about his life with me and his children.  "You saved me from a drab existence".  And whether that was true or not it gives me much comfort to remember his words.
     Because of our age difference, I was always Warren's little girl and as time passed, more and more I realized how sweet that situation was.  I never fretted about a "younger woman" entering his life.  I was that younger woman to him.  I believe he always saw me with his heart and not his eyes.  During those months when I was "great with child" he often told me I was beautiful and that other unpregnant women just did not look right to him.
      And then there was his quirky, very wry, sometimes bizarre, sense of humor.  Often he was most witty when he really wasn't trying to be.  Those would be the times he would send me into gales of laughter and often I think he wasn't sure just how he had done that.  Come to think of it----maybe it was my sense of humor that was bizarre, but whatever''''that man did amuse me!
     I will never forget his laid-back reaction when I told him that I had just discovered our small children had pinworms.  I was horrified.  "where did they get them?", I screamed into the phone at our Pediatrician.  "Usually from their friends", the doctor answered casually.  That night I lay awake far into the night.  I loved those little people so much, but sadly, I knew what I must do.  I would have to put them up for adoption.
     "Oh, for crying out loud, Janie, it's no big deal", my mate assured me sleepily.  "If the kids want to keep pets just let them."
     So many times, through the years, he helped put difficult situations into a more manageable perspective with his weird take on things.  As my son-in-law said after Warren's passing, "Warren was your straight man.  You've lost your straight man."  And I realized he was right.
     He and our children have always been at the very heart of anything I write.  Often, I believe, folks thought I was picking on my husband unfairly.  But what they couldn't know was how being able to find the humor in sometimes not so obviously humorous situations is probably what kept our marriage strong.  If I couldn't have found comfort in the amusing and often ridiculous happenings I may have been left with just the stark reality of a trying situation and lost heart.  And as much as Warren was able to amuse me, so too did I seem able to entertain him. 
     No matter how many times I told the story he always laughed.  When he went with me occasionally to speaking engagements, he always seemed as amused as anyone else in the audience even when the anecdote revolved around something he had done or said.
     He always said I made him sound much funnier than he actually was, but I have never seen it that way.  However, I think it should be noted that never, ever did I send anything off to a publisher with out first reading it to my husband.  He was my sounding board and I will desperately miss that.
     But that is just one of the many things I am missing.  Sometimes in the dead of night I reach over just to touch his shoulder or feel his arm and there is nothing there but a blank and frightening emptiness.
     So much of the time I feel that there is this huge, heavy bag of sobs in my gut just needing to roll out of me sob after sob into one long and painful wail until for a little while at least the bag is a bit lighter.
     Our lives have been so entwined these many years, it's as if an entire part of me is left raw, bleeding and dangling and though people tell me that it will get a little less painful it's hard for me to believe.
     I miss him so very much, but I thank God for the many years he was my husband.  Warren, in case you are reading over my shoulder as you often have-----Thank you for being the father of our wonderful children, thank you for being there for me so many thousand of times when I desperatley needed you and thank you for always believing in me.  You truly have been "the wind beneath my wings" and I will always, always love you.

Thank-you Mom.  Cindy
If you would like to sign up for my give-away, check post below you have until the end of Thursday to do so.