Sunday, September 14, 2014

Recently in Kelley Skyway...

PLUS an Amber Sullivan Todd

Recently in Kelley Skyway...

Our granddog Archie waited patiently for his Gramps and Grams to arrive... Fweetie guy!


Archie's mama has always sung songs to our family pets. Archie's song is to the chorus of "The Java Jive."

I love Archie
He loves me
I love Archie
He's my best boy-ee
Archie and me
And a-Daddy and me
We're a family

Our Boyte buckeyes took possession of their first house. Congratulations! The first thing they did was post "The Daddy-Do and Momma-Do Lists" on the ref!

Their house-keychain states "LOVE."

Handsome checked off the Sonny-Do List at Mother's. I snuck this image through the kitchen window while he worked on the exterior of her deck.

The week of Mother's birthday... in, around and among all my medical or dental visits... I cleaned the wahzoo out of her
a) kitchen and dining room
b) living room and entry
c) upstairs bathroom.

I started at the ceilings and worked my way down to the floors. I hadn't done this deep cleaning for her last year when we were home for medical, so it was long overdue. I made investments. What is sown bountifully is reaped bountifully.

Mother turned 75 and three of her children plus her wonderful church family threw her a birthday surprise party on "Judy Marsden Day."

At Mother's one morning, using a cup of Mother's beautiful Jewel Tea, I tried to launch the practice of drinking coffee black.

Mother, the Firstborn and I did some Labor Day shopping.

All the silk flowers I'll be putting in the flowerboxes of our master bedroom were 50% off at Hobby Lobby. Dana and I got our shadowboxes half-off there, too. (She needed a 5x7-inch for her husband's boutonniere; I needed two 8x10-inches for a project I'm doing with the Matchbox cars my husband played with as a little boy.) 

Matchbox cars at the "car wash."

Mother and I got some great buys on shoes; she also bagged a couple great handbags, too. Dana also got a great buy on Archie's dog food and a pair of nail clippers. She's going to teach Archie to let her trim his nails...

Guess you can tell what was only one of the many medical procedures I recently endured. M'am, have you had your mammogram this year?

My thrifty finds:

A Columbus Washboard Co.
washboard for Mrs. Boyte's
new Columbus, Ohio, laundry room.


The thrifted Whirley Pop brand popcorn popper doesn't pop as nicely as my Felknor's does though. Both were thrifty finds.

I think the key differences are that the Felknor's has a better paddle that turns along the bottom of the pot. (See the Whirley Pop's below.) Plus, the Whirley Pop's crank gears are a hard plastic, I think, versus the metal or aluminum of the Felknor's. The lid design's better on the Felknor's, too. The Whirley Pop turned out several great bags of Kettle Corn Friday afternoon though!

I told the Firstborn I'm beating her up because these leather avocado heels are in her size and not mine! Adorable!

These Madden Girls below should go perfectly with my fam' photo dress!

And these babies are my thrifty buy of the day year!

My sister-in-law said, 
"Those shoes have your name written all over them!"

In the Boytes' new home, the painting champ taught his son-in-law how to cut-in and roll ceiling and wall paint.

Corey is not only hungry to learn, he cultivates a teachable spirit. He welcomes guidance and correction. He's one of God's few good men who walks in both wisdom and the fear of the Lord.

See the pink ceiling? The individual who created ceiling paint that goes on wet as one color (pink) but dries as a different, desired color (white) was a genius!

In the master bath, Corey primed the ceiling and I rolled and cut-in with ceiling paint. While it dried, I painted the first of three coats of off-white over cobalt blue; Corey finished all the painting in their master bath.

After we left at 5 a.m. below, the Boytes finished their master bedroom and bath. We had worked hard all weekend long; they're fast learners!

Can you tell it's 5 a.m.?!
Coco Chanel left and Audrey Ann were wondering,
Daddy and Mama, why are up so early?
Audrey gets blue when her family's guests get their suitcases back out...

Archie sent his Gramps and Grams a Grandparents' Day message:
Dagger Nails because his mama is teaching him
to let her trim his nails.
It took her two hours to get three trimmed...
"I've never been so mad about anything
in all of my life!" his mama said.
The next day Daddy helped Mom
by coaxing Archie with chicken!

Handwork on the plane

One of two pillowshams I'm working on

We had worked so hard for several weeks that, by the time we got to Dave's folks' place where we ministered one weekend, I felt an overwhelming exhaustion! One morning I was doing some office work on my laptop (still in my robe) and my eyelids wouldn't stay up. So, down went the laptop lid and back into bed I crawled... and napped there for TWO-AND-A-HALF-HOURS! The only time I do that is when I NEED to do that! I still remember that delicious nap!

In a few days I will share some wonderful pillowcases my precious mother-in-law and one of her great-grandchildren have made, so watch for that update!

In conclusion, an Amber Sullivan Todd update. NOTE: On my sidebar, just click the wedding day photo of Amber and Jason Todd to read the most recent updates. Thank you, Rachel Hill, for e-mailing me from Texas after noting a couple of the prayer-request updates were deleted when more current information was made available.

Team Amber

Saturday, from Angela, Amber's sister:

We are very thankful today that Amber has taken a turn for the better. Doctors are pleased with her progress, considering her life-threatening condition just yesterday [Friday they thought she was bleeding internally; thankfully she was not!] The intubation tube was taken out and she has been able to drink some water. They will take her off [dialysis] today as her kidneys appear to be working (which is a miracle in itself).

Thank you for all your prayers. The Sullivan and Todd families are so very appreciative of the awesome prayer support.

If you would like to be a blessing to Amber and Jason, we have set up an online benefit to support them through this challenging time.

Watch these emotional sentiments from our beautiful Amber Sullivan Todd, wife of Pastor Jason, mommy of miracle baby Jaselyn Shea.

Thank you for your prayers!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Laine's Letter: Another 25 Easier Ways

Sit down and relax
for an afternoon tea break.

Here are 25 more!

Dear Sisters,

I love an easier way of doing something, don't you? Here are 25 more "Easier Ways" that I have learned over the years.

1. Tie up your scissors. Don't laugh! This one really works. I have mine tied near my desk and can always find my scissors now. Smile.

2. Tie up your scotch tape. Ditto!

3. Have a bill and letter slot. I have an old red one on the side of my desk and put my bills and letters received in it right away. The top slot holds important papers for the year.

4. Have a letter writing box. I keep mine near my desk. Inside is my stationery [Note: Stationers make stationery, not stationary bicycles.], address book, pen, and any letters I need to respond to.

5. Set up your coffee or tea the night before. I found this to be really helpful as my eyes aren't working too well right off in the morning. So I only need one half-slit eye to locate the stove and turn it on.

6. Set up your lunches the night before. I sure make a better lunch the night before than I do in the early morning. [I love the wisdom of the latter!]

7. In a hurry to go somewhere? Just wash the bangs and sides of your hair, then quickly blow dry. This is the part of your head that gets dirty first. My friend dabs baby powder in her hair if it is slightly oily, then brushes through as well.

8. Heat 1 cup of water to boiling in the microwave before cleaning the inside. It gets it nice and moist for wiping down. [Great advice!]

9. For an easy care and pretty arrangement, pair purple and pink geraniums with trailing ivy in a clay flower pot. I love these in my "garden room."

10. Easy buttermilk: 2 T. buttermilk in a 1 qt. mason jar and fill with milk to the top. Put in a warm spot for 24 hours shaking every now and then. Just remember to save 2 T. of buttermilk for the next batch. [New tip to you, too? For my buttermilk, I place 1 Tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice per 1/2-cup buttermilk needed (1 Tablespoon acidic liquid :: 1/2 cup milk ratio) and then fill the rest of the 1/2-cup measuring with milk. Set aside and allow it to curdle while you prepare the rest of the recipe's ingredients.)

11. To save money on milk, use reconstituted dry milk in your baking. [I've done this for decades and it can really save on the grocery budget!]

12. Geraniums are the easiest plant to propagate. Just snip a soft section and plant your snip in the spring. I have so many plants from this method growing up fences, in an old wheelbarrow, and in flower pots.

13. Open both ends of a tomato paste can and push the paste through. You get it all that way much easier.

14. Tie up your eyebrow tweezers and toe nail clippers. You'll always be able to find them just like your scissors and scotch tape.

15. Write how many library books you checked out and when they are due (one day ahead of time) on your calendar.

16. Take butter out when you get up to soften it for your morning baking.

17. Call your grandmother, mother-in-law, or a favorite aunt every time your phone bill comes in. I do this method with my grandmother who lives on the other side of the country. So I always know when it is time to give her a call and have a nice chat.

18. Have an hour of quiet time for your kids. It teaches them to be quiet and helps you as well in the afternoon when you might be dragging a bit.

[My own children were 4 and 7 when I established Wednesdays to be our family's weekly Quiet Day. We didn't homeschool yet when we lived in Connecticut, and I was taught kindergarten and my youngest was allowed to stay with me. Each Wednesday, which was my husband's and my weekly Fast Day, we immediately reverenced quietness in the house. If our children chose not to fast with us, they could eat a light meal of soup, etc. Everyone at home had to take a nap. (Even Daddy got one when he got home from work each Wednesday before we headed off to midweek Bible study at church.) Everyone was to either read, look at books, they could color or draw, write, do puzzles, etc. Otherwise, there was no playing with toys or even going outside. We rested and were as silent as possible on Quiet Days.

The results of this idea I got from Shirley Dobson and Gloria Gaither? Nobody went to church tired and crabby and nobody came home from church overly tired and cranky. When our family got home, we might enjoy a break-fast of a bowl of hot soup before going to bed-- the perfect ending to Quiet Day.

19. Take a 20 to 40-minute nap while the kids are having their quiet time. Another pick-me-up if you are dragging a bit.

20. Put on a pot of tea during the kids' quiet time and see how much you can get done before the water boils. Then sit down and relax for an afternoon tea break.

21. Keep your yeast in the freezer to keep it fresher longer.

22. Keep fresh ginger in the freezer ready to be grated any time for that Chinese dish.

23. Clean the smallest room first in the house, then keep going back to it for inspiration to clean the next room! And so on, and so on...

24. Try to cook as much as you can in the oven at the same time to save money on electricity. For example: a baked chicken, baked potatoes, and baked carrots with a small cake. Look for recipes that are temperature compatible.

25. Wherever you sit the most, tape Scriptures that you want to memorize near there.

Love, Laine
"I love you, LORD, my strength." Psalm 18:1

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake and Glaze (a recipe)

Cakes are special.
Every birthday, every celebration ends
with something sweet,
a cake, and people remember.
It's all about the memories.
~Buddy Valastro

For My Precious Mother's 75th Birthday Surprise picnic, the church provided the meal, and Mother's children provided the desserts. We served a beautiful birthday cake (full sheet; serves 88-96; only about $30 from Walmart's bakery!), my brother Jim's Texas Chocolate Sheet Cake, my brother Patrick baked Mother's famous Oatmeal Cake, and I made the Peanut Butter Sheet Cake which I also had prepared for Our Family's First Wedding reception and Our Firstborn's Wedding picnic.

Here's the recipe for a peanut butter-lover's crowd-pleasing dessert, Peanut Butter Sheet Cake.

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 15 x 10-inch, 1-inch deep sheet cake pan. Set aside.

In a 1-cup measuring glass, place:
1½ teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar
Fill to measure 1/2 cup with milk. (This is your "buttermilk" if you don't have 1/2 cup buttermilk!) Set aside to "curdle."

In a large bowl, combine:
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Set aside.

Prepare (measure) and set aside near stove:
1/2 cup peanut butter, any kind
1/4 cup vegetable oil

In a saucepan, bring to boil:
1 cup water
3/4 cup ( sticks) butter

Remove from heat. Stir in the peanut butter and oil. Mix well.

Add to the peanut butter mixture to dry ingredients. Mix well.

Add the following to the now-curdled "buttermilk" mixture (or buttermilk) in the measuring glass:
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla (I just pour some in!)

Mix well. Add to the peanut butter mixture and combine well.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (As you can see in the photos, I like the cake to have baked enough that the edges pull away from the pan. This yields a "canal" for the glaze to soak down over the sides.)

While the cake is baking, prepare the following ingredients, so that immediately after taking the cake out of the oven, preparation to make the Peanut Butter Sheet Cake Glaze can begin.

Peanut Butter Sheet Cake Glaze
This is a double-recipe.

In a saucepan, combine:
1 1/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
2 Tablespoons butter

Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Gently boil, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Immediately stir until combined well and everything is melted (I use a potato masher):
2/3 cup peanut butter, any kind
2/3 cup miniature marshmallows
1 teaspoon vanilla (I just pour some in!)

Should be thick and runny. If not, add more evaporated milk.

Using a spatula, immediately spread glaze evenly over hot sheet cake. Let cool completely.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

My Precious Mother's 75th Birthday Surprise

There are two great days in a person's life--
the day we are born
and the day we discover why.
~William Barclay

Sunday, August 31 was my precious mother's 75th birthday. Since her 74th birthday last year, many have helped plan a wonderful surprise on the day her pastor, Rev. James Sample, declared to be "Judy Marsden Day."

TOTALLY surprised!

Although I've had to lie through my teeth for about two weeks, we all pulled it off and Mother had not a single clue what we had up our sleeves!

First order of Judy Marsden Day: children sang to honor a lady who since the 1960s has been an integral part of the church's Sunday school teaching staff.

Then they gifted her
with pretty birthday balloons.

Next up was Merna Appleton who reached way back and told how their pastor in the 1970s, Rev. Kenneth Fuller, designed the sanctuary add-on to the original building, and Mother, Merna and her husband Lance helped set a beam!

Besides this testimony of the miraculous, Merna shared how Mother was at the church every time the doors were open-- a faithful example in word and deed.

Then Mother's Sunday school class co-teacher of many years, Widow Perva Windmiller (Eugene Windmiller, MD) rendered a tearful testimony of the love and kindness of her beautiful friend Judy.

Lance and Merna's son Eric Appleton put photos of Mother into a slideshow presentation using Nicole Nordeman's song "Legacy." By the time that concluded, I'm sure more than just my brothers and I were wiping tears from our eyes.

Next up, my baby brother Patrick Marsden, the youngest of our four, had us all laughing about funny things Mother or the two of them had done together.

As a result of the teaching of his mother, Patrick is the godly man who has been married for more than two decades to his first wife Jayne. They are the parents of teenagers Dexter and Maxim.

My older baby brother Jim spoke next and asked that, when he would complete an idea or sentence, we the audience were to repeat, "Benefits of a praying mother."

Truer words were never spoken, for we have no idea from what we have been spared all because we had a praying mother. As a result of Mother's prayers, Jim has been married for more than three decades to his first wife Tammy. They are the parents of Blake (husband of Shelley), Zachary (who will marry Shannon in a few weeks) and Caleb (who wore on Judy Marsden Day the gray-pinstripe three-piece suit his father wore in high school).

Sadly, our sister Carrie could not come from Colorado with her crew of five, and they were all sorely missed! As the second child of her loving mother, Carrie is the grandmother of Madison, and the mother of five: twins Whitney (Madison's mother) and Tyler, Derek, and twins Chelsea and Ryan.

The following are the sentiments I shared as the firstborn.

Proverbs 4:3 says, “I have been tenderly loved by my mother,” and that has been true for me for 53½ years.  Mother, you are the best mother any child could beg God for, and though in preparing for Judy Marsden Day I have lied to you nearly every day for about two weeks now, it’s your family’s and your friends’ joy to honor you today.

I could recount many funny events you provided our family, like the night after church when you and your children were in the chips aisle at Schulte’s IGA that used to be at the corner of Garth and Business Loop and Jimbo Patrick smarted off.  You reached out to discipline him and forgot there was a Fritos bag in your hand.  You whopped him with it, the bag burst and Fritos flew all over the aisle!

Or I could tell about the time you called the furnace company and asked if the furnace man could come over and “light your fire.”

Or when you hear teenagers on your street playing their music too loud, you promptly put your newspaper down, step outside your front door, walk down the sidewalk a little way and at the top of your leather lungs shout, “HEY! TURN THAT DOWN!”

Or I could tell everyone about the woman of prayer that you are, that whatever you’ve misplaced or lost or has been stolen, you stop what you’re doing and pray about it and the Lord works it out. Like just last week when you bought new vertical blinds at Menard’s for your sliding glass door. They were too long to fit completely inside your car so they had to hang out of a car window a little. You made another stop at Walmart before going home, and when you came outside, the blinds had been stolen.

You called the police but they couldn't do anything about it, they said, so you drove home. You thought to call Menard’s and tell them about the stolen vertical blinds in case someone tried to return them. "They're mine!" you told them and drove back to Menard’s to purchase a replacement set of vertical blinds.  After parking your car in the parking lot, you closed your eyes and prayed, “God, let the person who stole the blinds be in the store when I go inside.” You stopped by the returns counter but no one had tried to return your blinds. However, just as you were exiting the store after purchasing the second set of blinds, the clerk whispered, “Wait. Someone just came in to return a set of vertical blinds with no receipt.”

You walked closer to the returns counter and were told the guy had to go out to his car to get his ID to return merchandise without a receipt. When he came back inside, you dialed the police on your mobile phone but the connection must have been bad and the call was disconnected. However, you continued to speak into your phone as if someone was still on the other end of the line and said, “Yes, I called earlier about the vertical blinds that were stolen from my car in the Walmart parking lot and the guy who stole them is standing right here in Menard’s trying to return them!”

The guy said, “What? Those are my blinds!” but he turned and shot out of that store as fast as he could!

Time after time after time you have proved what Jim said earlier-- the benefits of a praying mother! Your faithfulness to God has proved God’s faithfulness to you.

All through my Bible, Mother (I held up my Bible), you are there. As God fitly knitted you in your precious mother’s womb, the Psalmist told us that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps. 139:14) and precious are the thoughts God has toward you (Ps. 139:17). All through your life God has directed your paths (Prov. 3:6). Many are the wonders God planned for your life (Ps. 40:5) and the eyes of the LORD have never left you (Ps. 34:15).

A cousin's iPhoto

All through your childhood until the day of your parents’ passing, you obediently honored your father and mother (Ex. 20:12). You grew in grace (2 Pet. 3:18) and the man who took you for a wife found a good thing (Prov. 18:22). Who can find a wife of such noble character? Mother, you were that wife of integrity to her husband and your price is more than precious rubies (Prov. 31:10). You brought your husband good and not harm all the days of your marriage (Prov. 31:12).

Each of your children testify that we were tenderly loved by our mother (Prov. 4:3) who taught us to take hold of God’s Word with all our hearts (Prov. 4:4) and to keep His commandments so we will live. Your children will never forget your teachings (Prov. 3:1). Your gracious words are sweet to our souls and health to our bodies (Prov. 16:24). Your descendants will be established after you (Prov. 31:13). Because of your teachings, your sons and son-in-law walk faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness (1 Kg. 9:4), and your daughters-in-law who love you are better to you than seven sons (Ruth 4:15). Even while it was still night, you arose, Mother (Prov. 31:15)... especially to hold back the hair of a toilet-hugging, vomiting daughter!

Everyone speaks highly of you, Mother (3 John 1:12), and you have been a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves (Prov. 31:8). Like your own precious mother’s hands, your hands, too, Mother are willing hands (Prov. 31:13). You open you arms to the poor and extend your hands to the needy (Prov. 31:20).

See Mother? On the pages of this Holy Book, you are there, and I honor you today.

Mother, you are clothed with the garments of strength and dignity (Prov. 31:24), and I rejoice to know my mother still walks in Truth (3 Jn. 1:3). You will not drift away from the Truth nor shift from the hope of the Gospel (Col. 1:23). Because You have obeyed your God, through your offspring all nations on the earth will be blessed (Gen. 22:18).

You survived the cancer that was removed from your body 15 years ago, and we praise the LORD Who has healed all your diseases (Ps. 103:3). Many will see what the LORD has done for you, Mother, and be amazed (Ps. 40:3). You can laugh without fear of your future (Prov. 31:24), and because you are a blessed peacemaker (Matt. 5:9), a wonderful future it is (Ps. 37:37)! Because you honored your father and mother, you will live a long, full life (Deut. 5:16).

So as we honor you on your birthday,

We put Mom's favorite colors on the table...
burnt and golden silk flowers in tin can vases over avocado burlap.

May the LORD bless and keep you and make His Face shine upon you and be gracious unto you and give you peace (Num. 6:24-26). You have never nor will you ever see the righteous forsaken, and never have your children begged for bread (Ps. 37:25). Today, Mother, all your children arise and call you blessed (Prov. 31:28). Many women have done virtuously, but you, Mother, excel them all (Prov. 31:29).

very happy 75th birthday, Mother!