Monday, December 29, 2008

The Newest Thrift Shop Bargain

A couple of weeks ago, I found this chair at our local Goodwill. The price tag...$20. Now I've got a comfy chair for reading.. if I can get Mike out of it. The fabric is a small harlequin pattern and the chair is in perfect condition but it sure is heavy. They just don't make furniture like this anymore.
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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Just For Fun

How many of these things have you done?

1. Started your own blog *
2. Slept under the stars *
3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii
5. Watched a meteor shower *
6. Given more than you can afford to charity *
7. Been to Disneyland
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sang a solo *
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea *
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch *
15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning *
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty
18. Grown your own vegetables *
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight *
22. Hitch hiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort *
25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping *
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse *
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset *
31. Hit a home run
32. Been on a cruise *
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person *
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community *
36. Taught yourself a new language -working on it. Trying to learn French.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelos David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight *
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had your portrait painted
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling
52. Kissed in the rain *
53. Played in the mud *
54. Gone to a drive-in theater *
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business *
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen *
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies *
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason *
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma
65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial *
71. Eaten Caviar
72. Pieced a quilt *
73. Stood in Times Square *
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London *
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle *
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car *
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had your picture in the newspaper *
85. Read the entire Bible *
86. Visited the White House - saw it but didn't tour it.
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox *
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury *
91. Met someone famous *
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one *
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone *
99. Been stung by a bee *
100. Read an entire book in one day *

I got this from Farmer Julie at and couldn't resist passing it on. Hope you have fun with it.

* = been there, done that

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Crackers

This year, we made our own christmas crackers. The toilet paper tubes contain a silly paper crown, a riddle, a small trinket, and a piece of chocolate. We don't know if they will crack but we will still have a lot of fun with them.
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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Curbside Find

We were coming home from the bank one day last spring and rain was pouring out of the sky. I decided to meander home through one of my favorite neighborhoods and as I approached a four way stop, I spotted some furniture by the curb. There was a big sign that read, "Free". This was one of the pieces. It needed a clean up and still needs a little bit of work but for the cost of two glass knobs at Restoration Hardware, I had a "new" piece of furniture. It's perfect for the dining room to hold table linens in the drawers and wine bottles in the bottom. This is a great way to recycle. The people that didn't want it anymore could get rid of it without throwing it into the landfill and I got a perfectly functional piece of furniture. I'm always on the lookout for curbside finds. I brought a brass headboard and bed frame home from this very street the summer before. I got two wreaths for my doors and a perfectly good bird feeder from a house on my mom's street. We've also brought home some old windows that Mike is going to use to make a cold frame for one of my garden beds.

We have also received a few things (ok, a lot) from my friends, Paul and Pam. I think they have furnished a good bit of our house. I'll simply mention that I'm looking for something and the next thing I know, they have that item that they no longer want or can use. My new bed was their old bed. They moved and didn't need it anymore. Sometimes, just putting the word out is all that is needed. You can mention to a few friends that you are looking for a particular thing and it may take a while but eventually somebody knows somebody who's got the thing to sell or give away. Apparently, word of my frugality is becoming widespread. I now have people asking me if I can use their old castoffs. We recently got a 6 foot section of fencing that Mike has some uses for and another friend gave us some scrap lumber left over from a deck project. Word of warning!!! Beware of clutter. We try to only bring home things that we can use.

I just caught on to a new way to recycle called and they have a chapter here in Mansfield. I have signed up but haven't posted anything yet. This is a great idea. You post things that you no longer want and give them away to someone who wants them. They email you and make arrangements to come and pick it up. In turn, you can give and receive items for free. It's a big cyber swap meet. I love this!! Recycling and Frugality all in one.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Recycling Old Wool Sweaters

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This was one of my favorite wool sweaters. Somehow, it managed to get mixed in with the laundry and that was the end of my sweater. Or so I thought. After searching the Internet, I found all kinds of ideas for felted wool projects. You can make mittens, scarves, blankets, hot pads, boots and shoes, and even a winter hat.
To felt the wool, place the sweater in a pillowcase and wash in hot water. Dry in the dryer. When it comes out, the wool is felted and ready to cut. It doesn't fray at all. I've now got lots of project and Christmas gift ideas from my shrunken sweater. I made the mittens from the sleeves and they fit perfectly. The sleeves would be too big for children's mittens so one website suggested using the bottom edge (ready made cuff) and tracing the child's hand. Cut two pieces and sew together. I hand stitched mine so no fossil fuels were used in the making of these spectacular mittens. I love this idea. It embraces the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle theory of green living 101.
Although they aren't perfect, they are handmade and perfectly serviceable. I've already tried them out and they are super warm. Perfect for winter hikes.
Have you already tried this? Please send pictures or leave comments and I'll get them posted.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

It's Easy Being Green...In The Kitchen

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Being green, for me, is not just being a "band wagoner" nor am I part of Al Gore's supposed plan to take over the world. Being green has been a way of life for me and it's just plain common sense. My grandparents lived through The Great Depression and World War II. They lived green out of necessity-- not because some politician or celebrity told them it was cool. They instilled many of these ideas in me so it's sort of second nature.

The basic idea is this: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. How simple is that?We have put some very easy to implement ideas to work in our household that city dwellers, suburbanites and country folk can use. They take very little time and/or money. In fact, they may actually save or earn money.
Ten Easy Ways to be Green in your kitchen:
1. Clear the clutter and don't accumulate more. Although, I have many collections and way too many dishes, we try to keep it down to a dull roar. Step away from the mall!!! We try to live with what we need instead of everything that we want. This also applies to certain kitchen gadgets that are unnecessary and end up in the landfill. (I'm thinking of a certain boxers electric indoor grill and by the way, it was a gift.)
2. Buy high quality items that will last and look for items made from organic or recyclable materials. Don't forget to check out yard sales. I purchased my very high quality chefs knife at a yard sale for $1. I also lucked into a stack of brand new Williams-Sonoma kitchen towels last year. I could still kick myself for not buying that mandolin for $15. Someone else's seldom or never used item, may be just the thing you're looking for.
3. The more fresh items that you use in the kitchen, the less packaging to throw away. Enough said.
4. This leads me to gardening. We have an organic vegetable garden. No fuel is used getting our veggies from the farm to the table. Our little 15x15 plot yields more than enough for two people and we have some left to freeze for the winter. We use only human energy with no power tools allowed. Once the soil is prepared and the garden is planted, it takes very little time to maintain.
5. "The Earth Machine" AKA ,the compost bin, lives in the back yard. We purchased it at a yard sale for $3 but before that we had one constructed out of chicken wire and some cheap wood that was leftover from another project. The chicken wire was even purchased at a yard sale for $1. Composting sounds more intimidating then it actually is. It takes no more time to throw something in the compost bin than the garbage. I keep a bowl handy to throw scraps in and then it get taken out to the compost heap.
6. Don't waste food. Eat the leftovers. What ? Are you too good???
7. Recycle as much as possible. We don't have recycling available with our trash service so we keep three garbage cans outside for aluminum cans,steel cans and plastics. When they are full, we take them to our local recycling center. We paid for all of the garden supplies for this year and had some money left over, from our recycling. This is great!!! Somebody is paying me to take my garbage. Awesome!!
8. Take your own bags to the market. More on this to follow...
9. Use non-toxic cleaning products. I prefer Method products because of the affordability but there are lots of other great products out there. Don't forget baking soda and vinegar.
10. Minimize the use of paper products. We use cloth napkins and bar towels to minimize our paper towel use and I don't think we even have any paper plates. Yuk!!!!
So there you have it. Even if you can only do a couple of things to help out our planet, that's a couple more than you were doing before

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day is Every Day

OK, technically, today is Election Day but we vote every day.

We vote with our money. When we purchase a cheaply made, lead -laden piece of Chinese crap, we are casting our vote. We are letting big business know that it's not only OK to import this junk but we approve it and will purchase more. When Americans flock to the local Walmart to stand in line at 5:00 in the morning on Black Friday, we are casting a vote.

Think about it. We, collectively, can change the way that this country does business. We can let them know that a vehicle that gets ten miles to the gallon is not acceptable. We can purchase our food from local organic farms and send a message that we want our local farms back. I don't want to purchase fruit and veg that has been shipped halfway across the world. We can purchase fair trade coffee so that the farmers can get a fair days wages. Every dollar that you spend is a vote.

For years, we have let big business and industry tell us what we want. Where has it gotten us? It has left us with inefficient cars that are built to last only five to ten years. It has left us with chemical filled foods. It has left us with a country that doesn't even grow enough food to feed itself. It has left us with little or no public transportation and urban sprawl. We can send a message by investing the little money, that we have left, in green technology. It has left us with a consumer driven economy that has failed because they told us what to purchase. They helped push our greed along by telling us to have it all and have it all now. It has left us with the same energy dependence problems that we were facing thirty years ago.

So how do we change things? We change it little by little. I am reminded of our power when I walk into a store and name brand items are now available in Eco -friendly counterparts. For example, I usually purchase Seventh Generation or Method cleaning and laundry products. Now all of the major brands offer green products. If we, collectively, purchase the green products then perhaps they will completely do away with the bad products. I would rather purchase fewer items and purchase quality then purchase ten tons of unnecessary crap.

I have been an environmentalist (tree hugger, as my co-workers say) for twenty years. I purchased my first reusable canvas bag in 1990. It was called the "Earth Bag". I still have it.
I thought people would never catch on. Then being green became fashionable. I am amazed at how far we have come in just the last few years. We can continue to do more. So remember every time that you are making a purchase that you are casting your vote. Cast it wisely and with forethought so seven generations after us will still be enjoying this thing called Planet Earth.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Mohican State Park

Last Sunday, we went for a little hike around Mohican State Park Lodge. There were a few little trails with some views of Pleasant Hill Lake. Dick Goddard said it would be our last great fall weekend and it seems like he was right. I hadn't been to the lodge in years and can't wait to spend a weekend in the rocking chairs around the fireplace. I'll bet it's a beautiful view in the winter with the snow glistening from the trees. It was a terrific and relaxing drive around the hills of Pleasant Valley with plenty of beautiful landscape to look at. Maybe, we'll get one more decent weekend before all of the leaves are gone and you can get out to enjoy it, as well. But then again, we are supposed to have rain/snow tomorrow...
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Have Young Women Forgotten?

While talking with a friend recently, the conversation turned to how many of her friends already have several children. She is twenty-four and most of her friends are around the same age. Most are not college educated and struggle to make ends meat on meager wages. I mentioned that a lot of my friends are just starting families. I am thirty-nine.

This conversation got me thinking. I have never forgotten the struggle of the women that came before me. My great-grandma always was first in line to vote because she didn't have that right when she was a young woman. Both my great-grandma and grandma were extremely strong women. They worked full-time, outside of the home, which was pretty progressive for the time. My mom's generation saw birth control become available and abortion become legal. I grew up during the equal rights movement. Women were encouraged to get an education and then a career before starting a family.(if they chose to have one at all) When I was first married, my grandma used to slip me a few dollars, occasionally, because she thought a woman should have some money that is her own. Money that her husband had no claim on.

So what about the women in their teens and twenties? Have they forgotten? Have we lost ground? It seems that they are having children at a younger and younger age. This has really been brought to the forefront recently by Jamie Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin. These young women are really the first women to have been raised with all of the privileges that the feminist movement earned for us.

Do they take it for granted?

Please leave a comment or send an email and I will post it to the blog. Jen

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Fall - My Favorite Time of the Year

Fall is my favorite time of the year. The days are warm, the nights are cool and the colours of the leaves-brilliant. It's my favorite time to just "take off" for a Sunday drive along some of the areas narrow, curvy roads. Fall means sweaters and apple cider. It was the season that I missed the most while living in Florida.

I want to hear from you. What is great about fall in Mansfield? Is there an event or activity that just makes the season complete? Is it a football game, trick or treat, or a trip to Apple Hill?

Monday, August 25, 2008

I'm Thirty-nine. OMG!!!

OMG!!! I'm thirty-nine! I suddenly realize that I'm almost middle-aged. I mean, I knew Mike was an old fart, but me?
Just kidding. I ,actually, have a very healthy attitude about aging. When I'm old, I'll finally have an excuse for all of my eccentricities. People will just say, " There goes that Jennifer Blue, she's a little off." Whereas, now, I'm just labeled as "strange" or "crazy".

I am, however, amazed at how something can seem like it just happened and at the same time, it seems like it was a lifetime ago. On one hand, it seems like I just left for college. On the other hand, it seems like I've lived a hundred different lives. It does make one stop and think about living everyday to the fullest or as my husband says, "I'll sleep when I'm dead". Anyhow, I thought I'd make a quick list of things to do before I die. This way I have the next 50+ years to complete it because I don't plan on going anywhere for a long time. I'm shooting for at least 95 but 100 would be great. Besides, I have to fulfill my destiny as a crazy aunt since I don't have any kids to torture with my eccentricities.

1. Take a trip to France
2. Learn French so I can actually communicate when I'm there
3. Ride a century on my bike
4. Write a book
5. Learn to play the piano
6. Read War and Peace
7. Sell a painting
8. See all of my nieces grow up and have families of their own
9. Finish my college degree
10. Get real cable tv
11. Swim with the manatees
12. See the Tour de France
13. Ride the space shuttle
14. Take Taylor to London when she graduates (I better start saving now)
15. Start a community garden here in Mansfield

Oh well, not a very exciting list, but attainable (except the space shuttle part). This list making is harder than it seems. I'll have to think about it and possibly add more later.

Anyway, Happy 39th to me!

p.s. The picture is from my 2nd birthday.
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Malabar Farm Restaurant

Malabar Farm Restaurant
3645 Pleasant Valley Road
Perrysville,OH 44864

It was Bromfield's dream to someday open a restaurant and hire a french chef. During Bromfield's seventeen years in France he enjoyed the French countryside and it's fabulous foods. This is a quote from the menu at the Malabar Farm Restaurant and let me tell you, Bromfield's dream has been achieved. I enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the restaurant yesterday in the company of my aunts and cousin.

As many of you know, I love to cook and have a special affection for French food so the Malabar Farm Restaurant has been on my list of places to try. I hadn't been to the "Inn", as it was formerly known, for many years. The food was ok but not great, at that time. Word had reached me that the restaurant had a new chef and how terrific the food is.

The menu is diverse yet still retains it's French flair. I enjoyed the East Coast Crab Cakes with a South Pacific Cole Slaw from the appetizer menu ($8.25). The meal was delicious and I am picky about my crab cakes. Others in our party had the Chicken Pot Pie with a puff pastry top ($7.95) and the Blackened Salmon served with a golden saffron sauce ($16.95). They also had a classic French cassoulet as one of the specials. I will be back to try it another day. They have sandwiches and salads or if you prefer a full and proper meal, they also have some "higher end" meals but without a huge price tag.

Want to enjoy a great view of Pleasant Valley? You can enjoy your meal out on the deck at an umbrella table. The decor has been updated since I was last there and they have done a great job of giving you the feeling of an old inn but with some modern touches. Our server was also fabulous. She was knowledgable about the menu and made sure that we had everything that we needed.

If you want to enjoy a great meal in a great atmosphere, you must try this restaurant. It is now at the top of my list and I will be returning often.

For a full menu and more about the Malabar Farm Restaurant visit

The pictures were taken yesterday. Bottom picture from left to right: Helen Wappner, Marge Wappner, Christine Wappner, Marie Wappner and Diane Kracker.
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Monday, August 18, 2008

A Day At The Lake

Call The News Journal.
We actually left the city limits for the day!!!!!
Yesterday, Mike and I went for a drive so he could get his first look at Lake Erie. We've been living on the North Coast for three years and had not gone to the lake. We just drove around and got the lay of the land. Next time, we will have a itinerary but we (I mean "I") just wanted to get out of town. We checked out the new downtown in Sandusky (impressive) and then drove over to Bayview and up to Catawba. Then stopped for lunch and Chili's and came back home. The weather was perfect and I still say Ohio has some of the prettiest countryside. Pretty much a perfect day.
Sandusky Bay facing Johnson Island.

The Pier at Sandusky

View of Cedar Point from the Pier at Sandusky
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Two Dollar Chair

Last summer, I purchased a chair at a local yard sale for two dollars. It was in a state of great disrepair but I just had to have it. After paying the seller his hefty price, I loaded the chair into my little suv and brought it home.

The question quickly became, "What do I do with it"?

I've always loved the look of Maine Cottage furniture but have never been able to afford to order a piece. I love the casual look of their furniture painted in bright, fresh, summery colors. I thought this might be a perfect piece to experiment with and the results were fantastic!

Mike sanded the chair and re glued a couple of loose places for me. He primed the chair and spray painted it a lovely shade of lavender but somehow that just didn't do it for me. Out came the craft paints, rubber stamps and scrapbook papers and it just started coming together. Maybe it was all the years that I lived in Florida but I love all of the bright colors. It gives our house a quick summer pick me up since most of the colors that I've used are fairly neutral. What a great way to have some fun and to create a one of a kind chair for probably less than $15. I bet that guy who sold the chair for $2 wouldn't believe it now.

Even if this is not your cup of tea, hopefully it inspires you to pick up a cheap piece of furniture at a yard sale or flea market and give it a try. You might be surprised with the results and you'll have a whimsical piece that's all yours.

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Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quote of the Day

Life is either a daring adventure,or nothing. - Helen Keller
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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Quote Of The Day

One good wish changes nothing. One good decision changes everything. - Anonymous
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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Random Facts -Four The Record

1. Four jobs I have had in my life:

Pizza Hut waitress/Kinney Shoes Assistant Manager/Thrift Store manager/Police Dept. record clerk

2. Four movies I could watch over and over:

Under the Tuscan Sun/Notting Hill/My Favorite Wife/National Lampoon's Vacation

3. Four places I have lived:

Mansfield,Ohio/Louisville,Kentucky/Leesburg,Florida/Fort Pierce,Florida

4. Four Tv shows I love to watch:

Good Neighbors/Dharma and Greg/Top Chef/Super Nanny

5. Four places I have been on vacation:

London,England/Edinburgh,Scotland/Nassau,Bahamas/New York,New York

6. Four websites I visit daily: Foodie/New York Times/Mansfield News Journal

7. Four of my favorite foods:

crab cakes/chicken-broccoli casserole/pizza/General Tso chicken

8. Four places I would rather be right now:

in my garden/on a beach/Paris,France/cooking

9. Four people who have made a difference in my life:

Mom/Dad/Grandma/Grandpa (sorry, could only list four)

10. Four things I'd like to learn to do:

speak French/play the piano/relax more/live in the moment

Let me know some of your "Four the records". Leave a comment ...or several.

This quiz was taken from Simple Scrapbooks magazine's special issue Scrapbook Shortcuts.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Summer of 69'

I wish I could say that I was born at Woodstock - but I can't.
I can't even claim that it was the day when man first walked on the moon.
It was just an ordinary day in the summer of 69'.

Since that day, my life has been a series of ordinary events.

Now, as I approach forty, I realize that the extrordinary is found within the ordinary.

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