Thursday, May 26, 2011

My grandmother's piano ~ becoming my piano

My grandmother got this piano in 1936...
It is a Gulbransen, made in Chicago.
She was about 16 when her parents bought this for her.
She was a blessed girl with what seemed to be a fairly charmed life.
She did move a lot, but with in the same area as her dad flipped houses
before they made TV shows about it.
She was an only child, she played the harp and she had a
pet monkey Jerry.
Jerry was her best friend until she went away and spent the summer on Martha's Vineyard.  When she got home he was very mad at her... their relationship never recovered and as her mother explained, Jerry needed to go live with the other monkeys.
That life changed dramatically with the death of her mother, followed by the death of her father before she was 21.  She married my grandfather.  They fell in love in school.  She often said it didn't hurt that he would carry her harp to orchestra practice.  My grandfather was like that, such a good guy.
My grandmother learned after her father passed away that she had been adopted.  She had no one left to ask about this, her parents were gone and there were only a few distant relatives and one crazy cousin.
When I was pregnant for my first she told me how it was for her. No mother to ask questions, no "What to Expect When Your Expecting" and just her crazy cousin who had a bunch of kids and a bunch of crazy nightmare stories about birthing babies.
At that time I hadn't known that my grandmother was adopted. 
I don't think she ever knew that some of us knew.  She was guarded about somethings for her own reasons.
I can only imagine...
I look at this piano, a constant in her life.  I remember how her fingers looked as she played, so soft and graceful.  I loved to watch her play. 
I remember sitting at that piano, I was 5.  I just started Kindergarten, I knew the alphabet
but couldn't read yet.
That was good enough to learn to read music and my lessons began.  Every Tuesday night until 8th grade.  My sister and I went to piano lessons at our grandparents. She was a much better student than I. 
My grandparents would have their afternoon cocktail with some tidbits.  A martini for grandpa and Manhattan for gram. 
We would watch candle pin bowling, have our lesson followed by dinner, usually Hamburger Helper (it makes a great meal, at least that was what I thought when I was a kid) then a little desert, usually coffee ice cream yummy!
I was a rebellious kid and often clashed with convention in my younger and teen years.  My grandparents were all about convention and our relationship was strained.  It wasn't until I started having children and making a life as an adult that I realized how much I am like my grandmother.  I am blessed that she was able to see that before she passed away 7 years ago. 
When we were building our house 12 years ago, she gave me her piano.  I told her I would take it when we were ready for it.  We built our house with the piano in mind, even putting a light in the ceiling in one corner to shine over it. 
I never felt right moving it to my house and I didn't, until now.  It would have left such a big empty space
in their home without it. 
My grandfather passed away in February and the house is being sold, closing this weekend.
It was time.
This week it was moved and has taken it's place in my home and at some point has become mine.
My summer project, restore it to it's natural mahogany beauty.  It had been painted white and antiqued at one time and then painted brown in the 70's.  The piano movers couldn't believe what good condition it is in considering its age.  They gave me some great info on refurbishing it.
I can hear my grandmother say my name when I sit there.  She would say "Kristine" followed by a few tips or pointers, or sometimes she wouldn't say anything and just be there with me.
I miss her so much but I feel so blessed that I will always feel the connection to her through our piano,
the keys her fingers graced and the music we made.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ponderosa Post

It is almost done and ne're too soon, as the chicks, they are a commin' and soon. 
Our first set of chicks are scheduled for delivery between June 6th and 8th.




Looking forward to getting a barn star, weather vane and planting a window box full of flowers to
spruce it up.


Can't wait!

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Cake Chick Matriculates ~ The Year In Cake

Last September I needed something...
just something...
for me.

I work full time, I am very involved in my kids activities
along with just being the
mom of two boys. Boy #1, 13 years old and Boy #2 9 years old. 

I was feeling a bit lost. 
Lost in work stress & all of the other stress with trying to be that
mom who does it all and never lets anyone see her sweat. 
I couldn't do it anymore.  I stopped doing it all.

I have to work so I couldn't check that off the list. 
I cut back on doing it all. 
In my town, it seems that the same parents who are den leaders in cub scouts are the same people volunteering for Sunday School, coaching
teams and the list goes on. 
We decided to spend more time doing things together as a family
and let other people step up to the plate to take things over.  
It really has been a great year.  We don't sit around and
sing Kum Bi Ya every day, we are still just us...
but I do remember to enjoy that lazy Sunday with my boys
just a little more or whatever we are doing.

In the midst of it all, I found a cake decorating class.
My friend and I signed up and at some point, I became the cake chick...

Here is the year in cake (the good, the bad, the ugly and the oh so yummy)...

My first cake...


Next came Halloween...


Then came the Fall Cornucopia (not one of my finer moments)...
 

There was a clown cake that I made that was so bad I didn't even take a picture of it.

Then came the rose cake and final cake for the first part of the year, one of the cakes I am still most proud of...
 

On the Christmas break I made this yummy one for New Years Eve...
 

It was back to class in February and time to learn carnations...
 
 
Then came St. Patrick's Day...
 

I really went crazy in March and made 3 birthday cakes.  One for my uncle, one for my cousin's daughter and one for my Boy #2(all for the same party)


 


Then is was time for the Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet and of course I volunteered to make the cake to feed the 215 people we had attending...
 

Then it was my mother in law's birthday(I know I call her my "outlaw" but she had a really rough year and I wanted to make her a special cake)



My first paying gig!



I had left over flowers so made cupcakes and I brought them to my friend's Bunco...


Then came Easter...



and my pathetic attempt at Pussy Willows and Lilly of the Valley flowers...



Last class... constructing a tiered cake.  I wish I had a little more time to decorate it.


and that is my year in cake. 

Any questions as to why after my year in cake I had to start the Dukan diet?




Monday, May 16, 2011

I survived...

So, I may not have survived cancer or a natural disaster this past weekend, 

but I did survive tent camping with ten boys under the age of 10and their fathers.
On top of that, tent camping in New England in May is... 
shall we say... a crap shoot.
It can be really hot or it can be really cold, oh and rainy too.
We got the later with pouring rain and cold.  
As I checked the weather and my Facebook page from my Blackberry 
at 11:30pm after the rain began, I did get some "tehehehe's" from my chick friends 
who thought I was crazy to go on the camp out.  

I went for one reason... this guy

who in this picture is fishing with 
an old school fishing pole of a stick and line, 
just because it is cool to kick it
old school from time to time...

This guy doesn't seem to think about, or care that I am a chick.  
He had the choice of me or his dad and
he picked the chick.  
Now his dad is about as "outdoorsy" as they come, but me and my boys do have
a bond with scouting.  
So... when all the dads were packing up with their boys for the big camping weekend,
there I went.  
Granted, being a tomboy growing up and spending lots of time camping helped.  
I also made a promise to myself that I would not be the 
"token chick" and get stuck doing chick stuff.  
I did not prepare one ounce of food and did not clean any dishes.  
So, even though the temp dropped and the skies opened up at night, it was a great weekend that I will remember for more than just what we did, but how it gave me a better understanding for how my son sees me in this world...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Dukan Update ~

The past week I have been battling allergies and bad! This month is just a bad month for me with all of the trees blooming here in MA.  Feeling so bad, sometimes a girl just wants a little comfort food and not protein and vegetables.  In the past week I have been keeping it light and watching what I have been eating and ya know what?  I keep loosing weight and not craving sugar.  I think the 2 weeks of no sugar kind of detoxed me.  I am just trying to eat 'clean' and it seems to be working without too much work on my part.  I am down 14.5 lbs!!!!  My plan at this point is to stay off the sugar and processed food.  I will keep this up for as long as it works.  Once I plateau, I will hit the Dukan Diet again. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Coop Construction ~ The Ponderosa ~

Let it be known in the world of the blog that my husband does nothing small.  I have learned to deal with it and get over my self consciousness when some of the things we have may seem a bit...ummm... big.

Now could we start our little foray into chicken  keeping small?  Now why would we do that?? We are awaiting our 12 hens around June 6, followed by 25 meat birds the following week.  Ten weeks later another 25 meat birds and... yipppeee doooo... we get a free "exotic" chick with each 25 chicks... that just spells rooster to me, but we will just have to wait and see.

Anywho, without further ado... I bring you the construction of the coop...

The site is cleared...


The stone is spread...


The floor is constructed...


The walls get framed and go up.


All of the wood is native that we cut down and had milled up.  It saved us about $700 in lumber.  The roof is being framed and the metal for it is being ordered. 

More to come...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

This Chick is Down and Out

The construction of the chicken ponderosa continues... my Mother-Outlaw(aka the wall of sound cause she just really doesn't stop talking) is here for the weekend AND these allergies are freakin' killin' me!  I've got all I can do to hold it together. 

My boys, being boys think that rather than let chickens live in the chicken ponderosa, they would like to move into it(if that gives you any idea of how big it is).  Well they said that in front of the Mother-Outlaw who then piped up and thought it would make a great Mother-In-Law apartment. UGHHH, I just can't go there. 

Maybe I will just move out there if it will give me some peace and quiet!  I think I am just going to go put myself in a benadryl coma.

Side note - saw Something Borrowed last night... it was cute and funny at times but ended a little flat.  I would wait for the DVD.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

We interupt this blog for seasonal allergies...

I 've got'em and I've got'em bad! Tim the tool man and the boys continue to work away on the chicken coop/ponderosa.  I am heading back to bed with a box of tissues.  Once my allergy fog has cleared I will be posting the pictures of our coop building project.