Saturday, December 23, 2006

Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

This evening I took this picture of our front door lit with the Christmas lights. We have a little celebrating to do in the days to come! Memories of Christmases past are in my mind, resulting in nostalgic thoughts for the little children I used to have and the family and friends who are no longer with us. Of course what's important are the little children of the present and the future. I can't wait to see Gabriel and Scarlett and watch them open their presents!

My friend Dee's daughter Jasmine was married Thanksgiving weekend; there was a bridal shower a couple of weeks ago. Here is Jasmine opening the T shirt quilt that I made last summer. The T shirts were a wonderful collection of memories for Jasmine, as Dee had saved them from all the years that Jasmine was growing up. I enjoyed making the quilt and then to see her now as a young wife taking it to her first apartment with her husband. Jasmine's husband is in the army, stationed right now in Austin, Texas. She joined him there this

On the crafty side, here is my latest Baby Surprise sweater, headed for a little boy living far away. I love this pattern; I've made several of them now. They take about a week of easy knitting, and are always fun because I love to see how the colors and stripes work out. There's very little finishing because the only sewing is a short seam across the shoulders.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas, 2006

Merry Christmas and blessings for the coming year. We hope this greeting finds you all well. We are doing really great!

On March 4 our older son, Tom, married Kelly in Orlando, Fl., and it was a very happy wedding day. Further good news is that Kelly is now expecting with a baby due to arrive in May! Their baby will be our third grandchild. Tom and Kelly live in Hoboken, New Jersey, and work in New York City.

In April we traveled to Cebu, the Philippines, with a group of Jackson residents to attend the opening of the Lingap Center, an orphanage founded and supported by Jackson residents.

While there, Tony was able to reconnect with high school classmates, and also to see his family. It was a wonderful trip.

Our grandchildren are the joy of our lives. Our older grandchild, Gabriel, son of Marta and Steve, lives in Stevensville, Michigan. Gabriel is two and a half years old. Scarlett, daughter of Cathy and Sasha, lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Scarlett is 20 months old and so wonderful.

Tony continues to stay busy with his volunteer Hospice work at the State Prison Hospital where he is a spiritual counselor with dying inmates. His blog of his prison experiences can be found at:

Joan continues with English tutoring plus lots of hobbies.

Life is good. We wish you peace and send our love for this holiday season.

Tony and Joan

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Perfect Gift
Many people love shopping, but not me. My friend Dee can find unique and special items for gifts. She always comes up with just the right color and size of something you've been thinking about for months. I wish I could do that! I love to buy special things for people that I care about, but to find just the right item is not easy. In December as the days count down to the holiday, stores are so crowded with frantic people carrying lists, shopping on a deadline, pushing their carts, and waiting in line behind twenty other people in the same situation. This is not what I want to do!
However, I believe I have found just about perfect gifts this year for my two grandchildren, and you can see the pictures here. Gabriel at 2 1/2 loves cars, trucks, tractors, and trains. His favorite movie is "Cars". My gift to him is this Lightning McQueen car which talks and apparently can be programmed to do almost anything. I can't wait to see his face when he opens it.
Scarlett's gift is a "Language Littles" doll named Young-Hee. This doll speaks both English and Korean in a very clear and real voice. The doll already speaks many sentences in both languages and more can be downloaded from the internet. Since Scarlett is learning both languages from her parents, and Young Hee is a lovely soft doll, I think it is the perfect gift for her. Now Scarlett is 19 months old, but when she is five, maybe she will look exactly like this doll.

If only I could come up with perfect gifts for everyone! Really, the only perfect gift would be peace on earth, and this I wish for everyone!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Twins

Please meet the Park twins, Avery and Connor, who live near Atlanta. Kelly has a wonderful friend named Stephanie who was a bridesmaid at Kelly and Tom's wedding last March. At that time Stephanie was pregnant with twins and here they are! I find twins so amazing! I can only imagine the daily care that is involved with parenting two babies at once. I decided to knit matching sweaters for Stephanie's twins, blue (of course!) for Connor and pink for Avery. In today's email I was so pleased to receive these pictures of Stephanie's babies modeling the 5 hour baby sweater.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sugar Drop Cookies
Here's a very easy cookie recipe. I found it years ago on a baking soda package. I think I started making it when I was newly married over 40 years ago. Sometimes I put a walnut on top and other times I put chocolate chips; also they can be baked plain or sprinkled with colored sugar for the holidays.

2 3/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter or margarine (I use margarine)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg.
Put the butter or margarine in a large microwave bowl, heat for one minute until margarine melts. Add sugar, vanilla, and egg and mix together. Then add the flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix very well. Put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Form into 1 inch balls, press on a greased cookie sheet, and flatten. Add walnut if desired. Bake in a 400 degree oven about 8 or 9 minutes until a little browned on the outside.
These are very nice with a cup of coffee or tea!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving Fun

Our Thanksgiving this year was spent at Steve and Marta's house. Cathy and Scarlett joined us. Here you can see the two cousins playing together. Gabriel's name for Scarlett is "JuJu" which is how he says her Korean name, Yoon Ju. It is so much fun to see them together.

Tony was in charge of preparing the turkey. Cooking is his hobby and his favorite thing is to see people enjoying his cooking. Our menu included turkey, stuffing (2 kinds), gravy and mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole, and several other delicious foods. Dessert was Marta's special apple dessert which we all loved.

The weather this year was amazing. We often
have our first very heavy snow right at Thanksgiving. Many times we've had to cancel our plans or delay traveling because of too much snow. More than a month ago we had our first snowfall, but that is long gone by now. We had temperatures in the high 50's and even to 60 so you can see us here out in the yard enjoying warm sunshine.

This is my favorite picture of me with Scarlett and Gabriel. I like to get down on the floor and play with them. They are very sweet and loving and it is a privilege to be their grandmother!

Monday, November 20, 2006

James and his family were our neighbors across the street for five years. When they first moved to our street, the twins, Miki and Kazu, were only one year old. Their family returned to Japan two years ago. We have missed them; the children are so beautiful and we could watch them as they were growing up. When they returned to Japan, the children were in first grade and had excellent English. Now they've been gone for two years. Last week James arrived here on a business trip so he came to our house for dinner last night. It was so nice to see him!

I have been enjoying knitting lace recently. Here is my Swallowtail Shawl. The pattern is from Interweave Knits, fall issue. It was challenging to knit and very satisfying. I really have to pay attention to it when knitting (can't really watch TV at the same time!)

Here is a Baby Surprise sweater which I just finished. We will try it on Scarlett to see if it fits. I enjoy working with color and the stripes are fun to make.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Good News!
We have lots of good news and things to celebrate! Welcome to the world, Louisa Jane Deyer, a New York City girl, seen in the picture on the left. Louisa was born on Monday, weighing 8 pounds and 2 ounces, 21 inches long. She is my dear cousin Carole's second granddaughter, daughter of Dr. Tim and Bernie. Isn't she beautiful?

Speaking of beautiful, how about my lovely daughter-in-law Kelly, also of New York City, or at least nearby in Hoboken, New Jersey? We are so delighted that Kelly is expecting our third grandchild in May. We won't know if the baby is a boy or girl because Kelly and Tom would like a surprise. Here is Kelly at 14 weeks. Tom waited a long time to find the right girl, and Kelly is so right for him!

My last wonderful picture is the latest of Gabriel. He is now two and a half years old and this is his school picture. He is really just as cute as this with a happy smile. Sorry everybody, I'm a really proud grandmother, and I adore my grandchildren!

Monday, November 13, 2006

This weekend we enjoyed spending time with Marta, Steve, and Gabriel. Our grandson is getting bigger, not at all a baby anymore. It gives me a real thrill when he says, "Grandma!" When we arrived, he was waiting for us at the front door, smiling and waving to greet us. Steve and Marta had some activities on Saturday evening, so Tony and I went out to eat with Gabriel. He didn't eat much, but was very entertaining. One thing he did was to have a lot of milk in his mouth, then suddenly blow it out with a lot of noise and laughing. It was a little messy but quite funny! Like many small children, Gabriel doesn't want to go to sleep. He tries very hard to stay awake as long as possible so as not to miss anything. Finally, when it's very late and he's so tired, he goes to sleep. I love play with him when he's awake and watch him when he's sleeping.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Visit

Yesterday my student Etsuko came to my house with her son and her mother-in-law who are visiting from Japan. Can you see how tall Etsuko's son is? We had a very nice visit. I enjoyed very much talking to Masaya, a very nice young man who is finishing his university studies and will begin working soon. He has studied English and speaks very well, so we were able to talk very easily. I really enjoy talking to young people and understanding their ideas, especially to see a new view of the world.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Mystery
Who is this? We don't know, but we can guess. Boy or girl, eyes blue or light brown, skin fair, light brown hair. What do you think? Intelligent, curious, waiting for a promising future. We can hope. Peacemaker, (always my first hope), making the world a better place, contributing in a positive way. We can dream. A future President? An astronaut? A doctor or lawyer? Certainly a good citizen. Loved by many. Welcome, the world is waiting, Little One.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A Halloween Pumpkin
Here's Scarlett as a cute pumpkin for Halloween.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Halloween Fun
Here are Ann Marie, the princess, and Mary Jo as Cinderella. Halloween is so much fun for everyone. I love to see the children in their costumes, especially the little ones. It was a very cold night but at least it wasn't raining or snowing as it does some years.

Gabriel was trick or treating with his mom at his house, and this morning the pictures arrived, so I include them here. It looks like Coco also got into the spirit of the holiday. Aren't they cute?

Monday, October 30, 2006

A Quilt for Michelle

Marta has a lovely and charming friend named Michelle. Marta and Michelle used to work in the same company until Michelle’s husband got a new job requiring that they move to another state. Now Michelle is pregnant with her first baby coming soon. When Marta asked me to make a quilt for Michelle’s baby, I was very happy to do so, especially since Michelle’s family is far away in South Africa.

The baby is going to be a girl, so I chose pink printed fabric with complementary colors. Then I used the scraps to make a coordinating soft fabric ball. The ball is composed of twelve equilateral pentagons sewn together in a ball shape, and then stuffed with batting. (Making this toy was taught to me by one of my students, who since has moved to Japan.) This is a great toy for a small baby because it is easy to hold and fun to catch. I like to think about Michelle’s baby sitting on the quilt and playing with the ball, maybe just a few months from now.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Yesterday was cold and cloudy with light snow falling much of the day. I was hungry for something sweet and warm, so I got out my cookbooks, looking for something to bake. In 1965 when I was newly married, I bought a copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook, and have used it regularly ever since. Now the covers are off and the pages are dog eared. I haven’t taken it out for awhile, but last night I found the recipe for a favorite cookie, and here it is:


1 cup margarine

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

2 ¾ cups flour

2 teaspoons cream of tartar

1 teaspoon soda

¼ teaspoon salt.

Mix above ingredients together well. Roll into small balls. Then roll into a mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Place on baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in 400 degree oven.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

An Autumn Weekend at the Lake

Last weekend we went to Tom and Kelly's lake house near Eldred, New York, in the Pocono Mountains. The weather was cold but sunny and the leaves were in full color.
In the first picture you can see Tom preparing the dock for winter. He had a little surprise when he lifted the boat on the right side of the picture.

Here is an early morning picture I took on the lake side of the house.

Saturday we stopped at a state park which would have been a very busy place during the summer months but now was empty except for us. Here are Tom and Kelly on the beach; Tom had his camera and was getting ready to take pictures.

Sunday we took a drive to the site of the Erie Canal and along the Delaware River; years ago this waterway was central to the logging industry. Trees were cut down and then the logs were transported to the lumber mills downriver by floating along on the water.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A Beautiful Baby
Please meet Chisola Sophie, a very small and new American who is about to take her first airplane flight and move to Japan on Tuesday. Her parents, Ted and Mina, have been my students and friends, and are finished with their working assignment here. We will miss them! It was my great pleasure to meet Chisola. There is nothing better than spending time with a baby. Doesn't she have the most remarkable hair? Isn't she beautiful?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Sad to Say Goodbye
In the picture you can see my beautiful student and friend Izumi and her daughter Yukina. In less than a week they are moving maybe an hour and a half's drive from here. I usually saw them once a week; often I began our lesson with reading a children's book to Yukina. She soon became my little friend. I am finding that now I come across as "grandma" with many little children. I really enjoy this because I can get down on the floor to play, read books, and enjoy talking . Good luck to Izumi and Yukina.

Monday, October 02, 2006

A Lovely Weekend

Steve, Marta, and Gabriel came Friday evening, bringing their friend Gustavo who works with Steve and recently moved to Michigan from Argentina. Gustavo is working to improve his English fluency, so I enjoyed talking with him and finding out his experiences as a new arrival here. To look at our lives through the eyes of a newcomer is very interesting.

Saturday morning the adult visitors left for a day of shopping; Tony and I enjoyed our time with Gabriel. Saturday’s weather was less than

perfect; a little rainy and cold; but we bundled up and went to the park. Our purpose was to show Gabriel the locomotive on display in the park, but Gabriel enjoyed more the many ducks, pigeons, and even a swan that he could see there. Gabriel is an animal lover, just like his Mom.

Sunday’s weather was much better with sunshine and warmer temperatures. We enjoyed some shopping together. The pictures here show us at the park, Gabriel on his bike (which he can ride very well), and at the dinner table Saturday evening.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Every year I look forward to the first apples of autumn, usually Paula Reds and Macintosh. These first apples are sour and hard, but within a few days begin to soften and become my favorites.
Tony loves fresh apple pie, so when the new apples appear in September, I like to make a pie. For my health conscious readers, I apologize, fully knowing that apple pie is an unhealthy food! Nevertheless, it is a treat, and sometimes we need to treat ourselves.

My favorite pie crust recipe came from my friend Sue who is no longer with us and sadly missed in our group of friends. This is a great recipe because it’s very easy to make and rolls out quickly. The recipe makes two pies; I prefer to make more than one pie at a time because it's pretty messy work.

Please see in the top picture all the pies I’ve made today. There is one large and two small apple pies plus a pie crust. The larger pie was baked today and you can see the results in the bottom picture. The small pies were packed in the freezer to bake for Tony another day. The pie crust was frozen with plans to bring out on October 5, Cathy’s birthday, to fill with bananas and cream, Cathy’s favorite pie.

Here’s the pie crust recipe:

Sue’s Pie Crust

4 cups flour

1 Tbsp. Sugar

2 tsp. Salt

1 ¾ c. vegetable shortening such as Crisco

2 Tbsp. White vinegar

1 egg

½ cup water

Combine flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening. Combine water, vinegar, and egg. Beat with fork. Pour into flour mixture. (Will be sticky) Cover and chill at least 2 hours. Rolls out easily. Makes two 2 crust pies or 5 single crust pies. Can freeze 2 months or refrigerate 2 weeks. If frozen, thaw in refrigerator 2 hours.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

T Shirt Obsessed
This T shirt quilt was an ongoing project during the summer, just completed Thursday evening, and presented to my friend Dee for her birthday. Dee had saved t shirts for years; they represent her daughter Jazmine's activities as a child. Dee has been my very good friend for about 18 years (can it really be that long?) and exercise partner. We have spent hundreds of hours together talking, walking, running, and jogging. In the early years we were running , entering races, and completing a half marathon in 1987. For a running partner compatible schedules are important; Dee and I are both teachers, so we could usually meet maybe 2 or 3 times a week after school or on Saturday mornings. More recently our pace has slowed and in retirement, sometimes our schedules are even more challenging to figure out, but we still get together, now walking fast and not running so much, but the pace of our conversation is as fast as ever.

The T shirt quilt:
Forty two t shirts were used. I cut 11 inch squares from the front of each, then backed them with iron on interfacing in order to give the t shirt material more substance. Since the interfacing comes 22 inches wide, it was easy to decide on using 11 inch squares. I put all the squares down on my clean basement tile, arranging them in an agreeable color combination. Then I sewed them together to make the 6 by 7 square grid. Light blue flannel was used for the backing and bias binding with polyester batting in the center. Quilting was done by machine, mainly stitch in the ditch on the seam lines joining the t shirt squares.
The end result is a soft and comforting quilt filled with memories of Jazmine's activities during her school days.

Also on the t shirt front,
I happened upon this video and became obsessed with t shirt folding. I am not a naturally neat and tidy person, but now I can fold my t shirts in a flash and it's actually fun! Try it!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Family time

Last weekend was our annual family get-together. Every September we plan to have all our family, most living in Michigan but also Chicago to New York, meet for a barbeque lunch and conversation. This year Spain was also included because Marta's mother, Consuelo, was visiting here in Michigan. We’re always hopeful everyone can come because memories are shared, the year’s progress is noted, and new babies are greeted. For the last couple of years there’s been a new baby to admire every time, symbolizing the hopes for the future in their innocence and perfection. Please see the whole group posed in front of the house. Tom set his camera on a tripod, then ran to be included in the photo. Next are my wonderful grandchildren Scarlett and Gabriel, playing together. The third picture contains our newest family member, parents Chris and Tricia, with their new baby Rori.