In a well-furnished kitchen there are not only crystal goblets and silver platters, but waste cans and compost buckets---some containers used to serve fine meals, others to take out the garbage.
Become the kind of container God can use to present any and every kind of gift to his guests for their blessing.
" You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies." Psalm 23:5

Tuesday, March 29, 2011



I decided to have a little surprise birthday party for my guests. They both have March birthdays and I thought it would be a good time to have the whole family over for dinner after church. I made each guest a 3 layer chocolate cake with butter cream chocolate frosting on one and cream cheese frosting on the other then added a few raspberries for decoration.

We also had a storebought chocolate cake for everyone else and vanilla ice cream. I thought I had a picture of the table but so far I can't find it. Dinner was a large Beef Roast..(roasted in the oven), Green Beans, Mashed Potatoes and gravy. A very traditional Sunday Dinner from my past. I kept it fairly simply because my energy level is really struggling. I have tried lots of different things but maybe I am just getting old:(

After dinner we all went to the living room where I think most of us would have liked to take a nap:) Little Harper had just woken up so there were no naps for us. She looked so cute in her pink dress but her tights were a little big. We thought her hair was going to be a dark blonde but each time I see her it seems to have more red in it(just like her mommy)

The birthday guests relaxing on the sofa after a very large meal and grandpa too

Michael and wife Karla taking a break also. Chasing after Ellie can be tiresome. Karla will be having a baby boy at the end of July

Being in a small space things sure get messed up in a hurry. I am trying to train the grandchildren to help pick up and not spread every toy all around the room. Then you have all the baby stuff that comes with a newborn and soon my living room looks like we don't need any more furniture..hehe.. Grandpa found some new fun things on his phone to keep the kids busy for awhile

Ellie is trying to hug Hunter Goodby

After a small Sunday Supper everyone left and we rested up for the next day. We were going to a specialty gift store called The Grande Depot. Parts of it came from an old train station. I forgot to take pictures..maybe I can go back and show you a little of what it looks like.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


The next day, which was a Saturday, we took our guests to the Mall of America. This is a popular tourist attraction. I had let my guests know that because it was still winter here in Minnesota a lot of things would be closed until Spring , which means May 30. Any outdoor activities would depend on the weather which can be below freezing most of the time. Our first stop was American Girl. This store is located on the edge of the amusment park which sits in the middle of the mall.

Stella. Jeans grandaughter may get a surprise for her birthday

Which one is my sister?

There is also a LEGOLAND which their grandson Jared would love and so we took lots of pictures to show him when they return home. You can purchase all kinds of lego produsts in the store below.

We had to go to the second floor to get these pictures. The mall has 3 floors and is very large. You really can only get an overview the first time you visit. It can be overwhelming.

One more legoland picture and alook up to the third floor where they have a movie theater

This is on the second floor and I thought that this fixture was pretty but it doesn't come out as good in the picture. It looks a little like a waterfall.

This is one of the attractions you can go on in Nickelodeon Universe, the amusment park, located in the middle of the mall. I could not believe how young some of the kids were who attempted this climb.

On our way home we took a different highway past the college my kids attended but only one graduated from. This is one of the reasons we ended up out here in the midwest

The adventure continues for a few more days.

I meant to get pictures of the meals but got busy and forgot. The resturants we wanted to take them to at the mall were a long wait, over and hour so we ended up at a cute diner place called Jonny Rocket's (I think) The food was really good so it wasn't a big dissapointment. I am learning a lot of what I would like to do for the next guests who visit(which may be my other older sister and her daughter from Chicago late in the summer). Hope you enjoy the visit.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


After that wonderful breakfast at the Cottage we took the guests to visit the homes of our children who live here. We went to my son Michael's house first because he only lives about a mile from us. His wife Karla was at work and his daughter Eleanor was playing dress up.

Aunt Jean was a big hit with the kids. She brought some gifts and of course being that they are "my" grandchildren they sniffed out the candy first and the gifts came second. I had a reputation when I was growing up of always coming into a room just when the candy or dessert was being served to the grown-ups and all the kids were outside playing.

Uncle Jim and Michael discussing March Madness

Ellie is really starting to like her grandpa especially when he will put on jewelry for her.

She even gets him to try some on:)

What a happy girl...hugs all around

Next stop was for lunch at a cafe called Charlie's where Garrison Keillor (author and radio personality from prairie home companion) use to come and I believe he did some writing or maybe just gathered his thoughts for writing. He began the whole Lake Wobegon Phenomenon

What a couple of tourists, taking pictures in the cafe

We then went to my daughter Mary's house to see the new baby Harper Rose

Uncle Jim was a big hit with Hunter. He loves anyone who will play with him

After a nice visit it was time to go home for a little rest and then dinner. Mary looks pretty good for just having a baby, don't you think?

The towns we visited are Melrose, Freeport, Albany and Saint Cloud. You may read about these in Garrison Keillor's writings. They are not a historic account but I found it interesting because the towns are real and some of the events are too!

Thursday, March 24, 2011


You might be wondering why I chose this title for a blog entry about a visit form my sister and her husband...stay turned and you will read about a simple train trip from Washington to Minnesota that turned into an adventure for them. Here we are getting the guest room ready for our visitors. The room has just some of the basics and I hope to complete it before the years end.

A basket of snacks...some homemade and a few store-bought. I am trying to develop a few signature snacks for my guests that are exclusive to the cottage

My sister sure enjoyed them. She is sensitive to lotions and fragrance so I felt a snack basket was better than a lotions and potions basket. I am working on a few special items that will be available in my lotions and potions basket ( a body scrub. a face polish, bath salt sachet,sea salt soak, and maybe a sugar and spice soap.)

We grew up with candy dishes so I like to have one or two available in my guest rooms. You never know when you might crave a sweet treat in the middle of the night.

This is the wall in the guest room I forgot to post before. I will be changing it to a possible white entertainment center and new flat screen TV, maybe a small desk on the left and a bookcase on the right..all white or maybe black. I am still looking at possibilities and trying to figure out what will best serve my guests.

We arrive at the train station at 8:45 am. The train was due at 5:14am. The beginning of the adventure. It started in Tacoma Washington at the train station where they boarded a bus not a train. There had been mudslides so their trip from Tacoma to Everett was by bus not train. This was not a good start. They were making the train trip part of their vacation because they only had a week, this was a big disapointment. This part of the trip is beautiful and goes along the water for a good part of the trip. I have taken this a few times myself. After waiting 3 hours in the Everett train station they finally boarded a train , with mixed emotions. They had a sleeper car so it began to look a little brighter. They had some really good food and this helped to make up for the first part of the trip. ( I think) They also had a full moon so this part of the trip turned out to be not quite as bad as the return trip home.

That bright light is the train which finally arrived at around 9:00 am almost 4 hours late. I had a very special breakfast to make, Caramel Apple French Toast with Thick Sliced Bacon, Orange Juice and Coffee. A signature Cottage Breakfast

I can't believe I almost cried just seeing them. They had a pretty good trip the rest of the way to Minnesota and we all went home to eat. My sister Jean and her husband Jim from Lakewood Washington...they live on American Lake so visiting a state with 10,000 lakes was interesting to say the least.

The Station in Saint Cloud Minnesota (where we live)

getting all the luggage and people into the van for the short trip back to the cottage

Enjoying the Caramel Apple French Toast and then off to see my childrens homes and families which will be my next post. We really had a good time. I think this may have started some of the family thinking about visiting us. After 10 years they are our first overnight visitors. It was so nice to have some family time and I think the food was pretty good too!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


We decided to give my daughter a little break and pick up Hunter for a playdate. Harper has been having a few difficult nights and her brother has cabin fever. Ellie was so happy to have someone to play with. When we got there Harper was sleeping
Hunter was also still sleeping so we waited till he woke up.

A little wake up time with Grampy. Ellie copies Hunter

Grampy says...why to you keep touching your blankie to your nose?

Hunter just laughs. They both do it when they are sleepy.

Lets go play.
I use blankets when it is really cold because it takes a few minutes for the van to warm up and now they ask for them.
Look at that snowy cold day out the back window. Thank goodness for a playland indoors.

Are we there yet Grammy??

Come on Ellie...follow me

Look Grammy..all by myself

Let's jump Ellie

What did you say Grammy??

You may put the quarters in Hunter.
Hunter says to Ellie..."Like this Ellie"

"You have to push the start button Hunter"

Ellie, Let's drive...turn the wheel faster

Ellie just likes being a passenger. She let Hunter do most of the driving.

Off to Target to get a few treats

Back to Hunter's house and Harper is sleeping

What a fun afternoon we all had.
Ellie fell asleep on the way home.