CHAT TIME & Holiday Menus

I’ve gotten away from the chatty daily posts except for recipes and I miss it. Today I sat down to make out menus for upcoming holidays and the rest of the year which left me a little down and frustrated.

I talked to hubby and we made some decisions about the holidays in particular that take us out of our traditional norm. Thanksgiving we usually make a turkey with my dad’s homemade dressing, homemade cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy and let’s not forget the green bean casserole. And for Christmas we usually do a prime rib and all the trimmings. I then use the bones and leftover meat for a couple more meals and our New Year’s Eve chili.

Thanksgiving will be just the two of us so we decided to “GO OUT” for the first time ever. Just the thought of all that shopping (not to mention the expense), food preparation and then the clean up was just overwhelming. We priced everything and believe it our not we will save money by going out! There won’t be as many leftovers, but at least I won’t break my back preparing before hand and cleaning up after! I will still make us a special dessert for later that evening. I’m thinking a Key Lime Cranberry Pie or an Apple Rhubarb Slab Pie.

Christmas will also be just the two of us this year, but I don’t want to go out, so will be cooking. BUT, after pricing prime rib and almost having a heart attack (about $150 for just the prime rib) we decided to do an Italian themed Christmas dinner. Hubby is Italian, but his family usually did a traditional American style meal. I had just watched the Hallmark movie, Italian Christmas Memories so that helped me feel inspired, but not inspired enough to do the feast of the 7 fishes. So Christmas dinner will be a small Porchetta with Anchovy Vinegar and Pan Sauce, Sicilian Spaghetti with homemade Sugo and a homemade Panettone.

Now with decisions made, I will go back to making the rest of 2022’s menus and feeling a bit relieved to have the holiday menus off my back. This will also give me the freedom to feel like baking for the neighbor plates I do each year.

The postal staff is already asking what I’ll be making them this year which may sound a bit pushy, but we’re a small town and it makes me feel good that they look forward to my goodies. I still keep a box of goodies and drinks at my front door for delivery drivers and they all know that they are welcome to partake if they need a pick me up during the day even if they are not delivering to my house.


I joined up with Jean over at Chit Chat with Jean to do an accomplishment list for 2022 and a word for the year. This is my 3rd quarterly update. I wondered if I would be successful? I’m impressed that I’m doing really well. I’m also looking forward to doing this all again in 2023. I seem to FINALLY be falling back into my more organized ways. The minimalizing lifestyle has helped tremendously!!

My list for 2022 is:

  • Do a Happy Homemaker Monday post each and every week. This keeps me more on track and organized about my home life. Doing Happy Homemaker Monday so extensively helps keep me on track as it summarizes the past week and lays out a fairly concise plan for this week. DONE
  • Do 1-2 devotionals every day. DONE, but not as consistent as I’d like 🙁
  • Follow a nightly skincare regime – DONE
  • Complete 4 quilts – at least 1 for each quarter. 1 Christmas quilt wall hanging done almost done, 2 batik table runners in opposing colors are done and but I’m still working on one more quilt, a batik table runner.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Food blog, Savory Kitchen Table. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year into next year also.
  • Finish indexing the recipes on my Life blog, Chasing MY Life. When I merged my old blogspot blogs into this single blog it duplicated many things and added an “ALL” category that I am having to eliminate one by one so it’s taking a LONG time. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year into next year also.
  • Make a better effort to reach out and connect with friends and family more regularly. This is a work in progress.
  • Learn YOGA or Pilates or both! These are a work in progress.
  • Take at least a 2 mile walk daily. DONE most days
  • Continue to downsize and declutter EVERYTHING. This is a serious work in progress that will probably take ALL year, but be done by next March when we are planning a HUGE garage sale.
  • Clean out photo files that date back 13 years! I’m working on it, but it’s really hard. This is a serious work in progress that will always take ALL year, mainly because I keep taking pictures 😀
  • Create Shutterfly photo albums for 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017 and 2016. Yet to do 😀
  • Go through scrap recipe tote and eliminate all the recipes I will never try – they’re just not worth saving. DONE
  • Do more drawing and painting – at least one per month. I’m still working on a few of these, but did complete several, one of which was for a Ukranian fund raiser. And hubby and I did one for a date night outing where we went to the afternoon class then dinner out 😀 Neither one of us liked it though so I’m not even posting it 🙁 I’m scheduled for one more “Santa Gnome” this year the first week in November. Isn’t he adorable?
  • Focus on rewriting more recipes to work for only 2 people with NO leftovers. This is a work in progress, but doing REALLY well so far. It has been seriously complicated by the increase in grocery prices 🙁
  • Volunteer at least once a month for a community project. DONE TO DATE
  • Do a date weekend once a month – exploring a new place we’ve never been before. I’d like to say we’ve been really good about this, but it’s only happened 3 times so far this year 🙁 1) RICOTTA class at a local winery 2) BURGERS & BEER at a local brewery that opened a new BURGER BOMB food truck 3) Romantic dinner at a favorite Italian restaurant. 4) We spent 2 days at a resort near Lassen National Park hiking and exploring 5) We spent 2 more days at Mt. Shasta also hiking and exploring 6) hubby and I are doing one tomorrow. We’ll go to an afternoon paint class then dinner out 😀 7) We were putting together a trip not to far from home for our anniversary in August, but changed it to one after school started for my birthday and then changed it yet again – we leave on Tuesday! 😀
  • Clean out old files and recycle or destroy old papers. This is still an ongoing work in progress, but I’ve made seriously good progress and will finish through the winter and spring.
  • Clean out craft cabinets and donate craft parts no longer needed. DONE
  • Eat at least 1 piece of fruit daily. DONE
  • Do at least 1 random act of kindness every time I leave the house. DONE
  • Read 36 books. Was hoping for double, but this was a realistic goal and now looks like I’ll actually reach that original hope of double. Since I’m now 3/4 of the way through the year I have high hopes of making that double number. 60 so far1) State of Grace by Marie Force, 2) Swamp Sweets by Jana DeLeon, 3) Beside Golden Irish Fields by Ava Miles, 4) What Child Is This by Rhys Bowen, 5) Women and Children First by Gill Paul, 6) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel, 7) The Cape May Garden by Claudia Vance, 8) South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber, 9) A Home for Unloved Orphans by Rachel Wesson and 10) All My Loving by Marie Force 11) Wild Widows by Marie Force 12) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel 13) In Name Only by Jennifer Peel 14) Flame & Fortune by Jana DeLeon 15) The Restaurant by Pamela Kelley 16) Here, There & Everywhere by Marie Force 17) Someone Like You by Marie Force 18) Beach House Romance by Cora Seton 19) Return to Sender by Jennifer Peel 20) In Name Only by Jennifer Peel 21) Silent Partner by Jennifer Peel 22) The Wedding Charm by Susan Hatler 23) The Girl From the Channel Islands 24) Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe by Jodi Thomas 25) The Book of Sorrel by Jennifer Peel 26) Written in the Stars by Noelle Fox 27) The Restaurant by Pamela Kelley 28) Secrets Hidden in the Glass by Cate Beauman 29) Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger 30) The Woman with the Blue Star by Pan Jenoff 31) The Lost Girls by Pam Jenoff 32) The Last Bookshop in London by Madeline Martin 33) The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham 34) The Stationmaster’s Cottage, #1 Rivers End by Phillipa Nefri Clark 35) Accidentally Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #1 36) Finally Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #2 37) Hopefully Matched An Alaska Matchmaker Series by Cathryn Brown #3 38) A Fire Sparkling by Juliane Maclean 39) The Resistance Girl by Mandy Robotham 40) Jasmine Sea, #2 in the Rivers End series by Phillipa Nefri Clark 41) Palmerston House, #3 in the Rivers End series by Phillipa Nefri Clark 42) Last Known Contact by Phillipa Nefri Clark 43) The Honey Bus by Meredith May 44) Deadly Falls #1 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 45) #2 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 46) #3 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 47) #4 Charlotte Dean Mysteries by Phillipa Nefri Clark 48) Hickory Lane by Heather Webber 49) Swamp Spirits #23 Miss Fortune series by Jana DeLeon 50) UNMISSING by Minka Kent 51) The Stillwater Girls by Minka Kent 52) When It Falls Apart by Catherine Bybee 53) The Brighter the Light by Mary Ellen Taylor 54) Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes, Winter Series #1 by Joanne Demaio 55) Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 56) The Lost Girls of Willowbrook by Ellen Marie Wiseman 57) The Woman with Two Shadows by Sarah James 58) The Lost Girls of Paris by Pan Jenoff 59) Beyond the Moonlit Sea by Julianne MacLean 60) State of the Union – First Family #3 by Marie Force 61) The Silent Woman by Minka Kent 62) Waking Kate by Sarah Addison Allen 63) Real Bad Things by Kelly J. Ford
  • I’ve added a “SEASONAL” list too. I started with fall that you can see here.


I’ve been doing a quarterly update of the MAIN list I made last January to participate with Jean and I’d never thought about making one that was seasonally specific to holiday menus and events, but I really like the idea that Jean got from her friend, Rebecca at Rebecca’s Hearth and Home. So here’s my Fall 2022 list.


  • Plant the mums that my friend gave me for my birthday and clean out whiskey barrel planters in prep for winter.
  • Prep outside patio furniture and BBQ for winter months.
  • Deep clean oven and refrigerators.
  • Fall trip to coast with hubby for my birthday.
  • Go to the Harvest Festival at the fairgrounds.
  • Go to the Christmas Craft Fair at the fairgrounds
  • Deep clean bird bath and hummingbird feeders.
  • Sort through ALL clothes and donate EVERYTHING that doesn’t fit or I just don’t care for anymore.
  • Finish cleaning out pantry, freezer and seasonings to start fresh in the new year.
  • Clean out and cover garden beds as soon as zucchini and tomato plants are done – probably in about 2 weeks.
  • Bake something once a week from my new cookbook.
  • Try a new and challenging cooking or baking technique every week.
  • Start indoor herb garden so I have them for the winter.
  • Learn YOGA.
  • Take ALL Sundays completely off to watch football, NASCAR, snuggle up and read or WHATEVER I want for that 1 day a week.

Do you have any specific plans for the FALL?


My friend Sandra recently told us about a WONDERFUL site called the WAY BACK MACHINE.

Many years ago I “LOST” my original blog, 3 Sides of Crazy to hijackers and GOOGLE said I couldn’t provide enough “PROOF” that it was mine to get it back. LOL I purchased the domain from them directly, but that didn’t matter to them so I moved my whole platform to WordPress and moved on with my life. That was how I became “CHASING MY LIFE”.

So I was interested enough to see if I could see something from my original blog and I put in a random date. I was rewarded with this sweet memory.

January 26, 2013 from the WAY BACK MACHINE

“Happy times!  This is my aunt who recently passed with me and her daughter Jenn at one of our favorite places, Galveston Island.  All our lives Jenn and I would go down there and collect shells off the beach.  It isn’t that easy these days with the weird growth along the shore line, but back then we walk on the sea wall, collect shells from the water’s edge and just basque in the winter water. You can’t see it in this pictures, but we’re barefoot LOL I’m holding my socks. I also still have every shell that I keep in a crystal bowl. Sharon had Parkinsons disease. Her mobility continued to go downhill from here so this is the last picture I have of us “having fun” like this. Thank goodness for tripods and timers so we could all be in the picture together.”


10 YEARS ago I wrote the following post. The weeks leading up to it were some of the most difficult of my life. I struggled with whether to go public or not. In the end, I’m glad I did. Now 10 years later as I prepared during a pandemic to have my momentous follow-up exam I worried. I realized I was actually scared. You see I hadn’t told even my husband about the potential of the cancer in the beginning and I had faced that testing and visit alone. But, when I got home and told him, things changed. There was not one visit to the doctor or test that I did alone. He accompanied to EVERY single one. Now here we are and he isn’t allowed to accompany me. I have to admit it concerned me to face it alone. But, he drove me there and stayed in the car, I wasn’t actually alone, it just felt like it because of the pandemic protocols. Fortunately, my fear was just that FEAR, but unfounded or not it seemed like a good time to re-run this post and the beautiful story of Lucky the dog. 😀

I’ve been struggling with a way to get back into the swing of things here in blogland. You see just 2 months ago today I was struck with those words that we all fear hearing from our doctor. You know,  any phrase that includes the words cancer, chemotherapy, radiation or surgery. For me it was the worst Christmas present imaginable so I persevered and didn’t really let on to most of the family in the beginning – no sense ruining anyone else’s holidays since no further testing could be scheduled until after Christmas. 

You truly do go through the 5 stages of grief augmented with periods of disbelief and a lack of comprehension.  It doesn’t matter how well schooled you are or how intelligent you are, those words hit you like a ton of bricks.

Last year when I began my food blog, Always Eat On The Good China (now morphed into Savory Kitchen Table), I developed the name after reading a letter that Erma Bombeck wrote when she knew she was dying from cancer.  I even put a quote from her on my side bar that I found extremely poignant.

It was around that same time that I had an appendicitis attack – I still had my appendix and it had been chronic since I was 9 years old.  Or at least I thought I was having an appendicitis attack.  We now know that I was having pain from my ovary that was growing into what was being described as a cantalouped size mass.

Fortunately for me at my well woman exam the nurse practitioner noticed what she thought was an enlarged uterus and she ordered an ultrasound because she feared uterine cancer.

The ultrasound was on the Tuesday after Christmas. The words changed, but stayed the same, cancer was still in the phrase, but now it was ovarian cancer.  To it they added terms like tumor and oncologist.

My brand new doctor (I’d never met him prior to the ultrasound tech calling him into the exam) in a brand new town thought I was in shock because I didn’t cry and react hysterically. He just didn’t know  me well enough to know I was really okay.  But, I’m a fixer, so my next phrase is always, what next?  What next turned out to be a referral to MD Anderson Cancer Center and an oncologist, whom I adore by the way!.  She and her team made it possible for me to stay both positive and see the light at the end of the tunnel. Their Motto is “making cancer history” which struck me as the right positive note for me.

The next 2 weeks and 5 days were a whirlwind of blood draws, X-rays, CT scans, MRI’s, chemical stress tests, consultations, clearances and…I underwent surgery on the 1st knowing full well all the fine print, legal jargon and potential pitfalls of this diagnosis.  I also knew that because of the size, I would awake to only a possible pathology.  I awoke to hear things like “self-contained”, “non-invasive cancer” and “surveillance” as well as that the cantaloupe was actually a volleyball with a balloon twist.  While we are still awaiting final pathology I am now at home after a week in the hospital and catering to the whims of a 10 inch zipper through multiple layers of muscle and the needs to get my energy back and regenerate the tissue.

With that, for now, I’ll leave you with this email story that crossed my desk.  True or not, it’s heart warming and endearing and worth the read.  I choose to believe in the bright and positive.
Mary and her husband Jim had a dog named ‘Lucky.’ 

Lucky was a real character. Whenever Mary and Jim had company come for a weekend visit they would warn their friends to not leave their luggage open because Lucky would help himself to whatever struck his fancy. Inevitably, someone would forget and something would come up missing.

Mary or Jim would go to Lucky’s toy box in the basement and there the treasure would be, amid all of Lucky’s other favorite toys Lucky always stashed his finds in his toy box and he was very particular that his toys stay in the box.

It happened that Mary found out she had breast cancer. Something told her she was going to die of this disease….in fact; she was just sure it was fatal.

She scheduled the double mastectomy, fear riding her shoulders. The night before she was to go to the hospital she cuddled with Lucky. A thought struck her…what would happen to Lucky? Although the three-year-old dog liked Jim, he was Mary’s dog through and through. If I die, Lucky will be abandoned, Mary thought. He won’t understand that I didn’t want to leave him! The thought made her sadder than thinking of her own death.

The double mastectomy was harder on Mary than her doctors had anticipated and Mary was hospitalized for over two weeks. Jim took Lucky for his evening walk faithfully, but the little dog just drooped, whining and miserable.

Finally the day came for Mary to leave the hospital. When she arrived home, Mary was so exhausted she couldn’t even make it up the steps to her bedroom. Jim made his wife comfortable on the couch and left her to nap.

Lucky stood watching Mary but he didn’t come to her when she called. It made Mary sad, but sleep soon overcame her and she dozed.

When Mary woke for a second she couldn’t understand what was wrong. She couldn’t move her head and her body  felt heavy and hot. But panic soon gave way to laughter when Mary realized the problem. She was covered, literally blanketed, with every treasure Lucky owned! While she had slept, the sorrowing dog had made trip after trip to the basement bringing his beloved mistress all his favorite things in life.

He had covered her with his love.

Mary forgot about dying. Instead she and Lucky began living again, walking further and further together every day. It’s been 12 years now and Mary is still cancer-free.

Lucky… He still steals treasures and stashes them in his toy box but Mary remains his greatest treasure.

Remember….live every day to the fullest. Each minute is a blessing from God. And never forget….the people who make a difference in our lives are not the ones with the most Credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones that care for us.

If you see someone without a smile today give them one of yours! 
Live simply. 
Love seriously. 
Care deeply. 
Speak kindly. 
Leave the rest to God.

2021 A New Year and ALL the Possibilities

2020 has taught me to really appreciate life and all it has to offer as well as ALL it has to throw at me with a positive attitude.  There is always something to be thankful for – even when bad things happen.

While we have some control in our life, we are NOT IN control, God is!  I am stronger than I give myself credit for MOST of the time and when I’m not, it is perfectly fine to ask for help from others in my life, those that love me will help even in the worst of times. The acts of prayer and faith can give me the strength to overcome my own thoughts, doubts and fears.

So with all of this in mind, I’m entering 2021 with a renewed spirit and faith that it WILL be a better year!


Just 3 years ago I underwent life changing surgery that they promised me would get easier and better to live with as time went on. I’m here to tell you that this was only partially true 🙁 SOME days I feel “normal” and can even eat relatively normal, but MOST days I’m still afraid to eat most things and I’m still having some severe reactions that can shut down my day at a moment’s notice.

So, when my friend Martha over at Seaside Simplicity suggested replacing resolutions with 30 day challenges I had to jump in with both feet in an effort to “regulate” my life and have an element of control over my life in general. I’ll even pop back in periodically with a progress report to hold myself accountable.

I don’t normally do “resolutions” per se, but if ever there was a year that needed to be changed it would be 2020.  So for 2021 we’ll call it “life style” changes for the better.

She gave a suggestion link to 100 different ideas to do as 30 day challenges. The challenges were listed with a side note of easy, medium or hard.  As I went through the list I found 19 that I already do:

  • Menu Plan
  • Morning & Bedtime Routines
  • Set a list of Daily Priorities
  • No Alcohol
  • No sugar & No Fast Food – this one gets a side note – sometimes this is just plain unavoidable especially during the pandemic if you had to travel at all, but this is NOT a way of life for me.
  • Stopped watching the news.
  • No credit cards.
  • Started multiple blogs
  • No smoking
  • Make or Build something
  • Make bed daily
  • Practice Gratitude – Pay It Forward
  • Random Act of Kindness
  • Talk to a Stranger – something I do that irritates hubby to no end sometimes!
  • Take a photo EVERY day – also something I do that irritates hubby to the other end sometimes!
  • Read Everyday – I always read as I fall asleep and in the car and in waiting rooms…

And another 66 I don’t want to do 😀 EVER

So that leaves these 15 or so that I am going to try and incorporate into 2021. There will obviously be some overlap since there are only 12 months in a year, not to mention we are hopeful for a BIG move for a new project house in 2021, but I will start with this list and all the good intentions hat go with it. I’ll then adapt as necessary as some are more involved than others. Many are also not just 30 day challenges, but lifestyle changes to be incorporated into a daily life.

  • Keep a Daily Food & Sugar Level Journal so I can continue trying to figure out trigger foods and/or times to avoid the dumping syndrome reactions as well as the hypoglycemic reactions caused by trying to eat “normal” food.
  • Learn to Program this is something that has always intrigued me and I know just enough to work my blog and get myself into trouble sometimes 🙂 so would like to know more.
  • Meditate this is something that I think will help with my health issues and food issues if I could learn to slow down and take things easier on myself.
  • Detox House I really want to be more ecologically responsible with using simple vinegar based cleaning products and staying away from chemically produced products. I’ll be making my own dryer sheets with essential oils and things like this.
  • Learn A New Skill… oil painting, wood burning... Learn to Draw This is also something I’ve always wanted to do better.  Included in this category is learning to paint with alcohol inks.
  • Write in my Journal Daily This category will also help with the meditation I think. I’ll split my time between a regular journal and my faith based journaling. I already do meal plan journaling.
  • Cook a New Recipe Every day This category is one that is ALMOST one I already do, but I want to do even better at. BUT, EVERY day is a super stretch as it leaves no room for pizza or hubby cooking so I’ll settle for 3 weeks out of the month or so. 😀
  • Practice Minimalism As we prepare for the BIG move this one is really important to me. I’m beginning with the Christmas decorations and sorting to donate a good portion of the decorations and artificial tree.
  • Eat Vegan (plant based) for a Month This category is going to take some research, not to mention some coercing on hubby’s part, but I really think there could be some serious health benefits by doing this.
  • 10,000 steps daily I’m usually pretty close to this, but I want to make a concentrated effort for the DAILY part of this statement.
  • Burpees daily & Whole Body Fitness Challenge We joined a gym last year and then the pandemic hit so never got into a good routine. This too will require a little research at first, not to mention some serious discipline to do it at home, but is TOTALLY doable!
  • Clean Up Digital Clutter We really need new computers, something I’m trying to put off until after the move and after I clean up all the files and photos. But, I also want to clean up my blogs and their recipe categories.


It has been 2 years, but I ran across the post below this morning by accident and it bears repeating. THIS! This is not something we we will ever really recover from – financially (in the end he swindled us for over 65,000 dollars), health wise (my health deteriorated with multiple infections that are at times ongoing and resulted in hospitalization and surgery before it was all over) or heart wise (your heart is never supposed to break from the actions of a blood relative who claims to have your best interest at heart). It does serve as a stark reminder though of how strong I CAN be… SO I am re-posting this as a reminder of that strength and perseverance.


While I was cleaning up the kitchen and dinner dishes recently I realized I’ve been posting quite a few recipes, but have been severely lacking on my actual “writing” about what is going on in our lives. For years I have worked really hard at keeping this an eternally optimistic blog full of grace for the great and wonderful blessings in my life, always trying to live by the old rule, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”. BUT, there comes a time to call out the crazy acrimonious instigators and tell it like it is, if for no other reason than to get it out of my head so I can be more at peace.

Well, today is the 2 1/2 year mark (though it feels like 10 years), the house is sold and we are completely packed and CANNOT WAIT to have this horrific experience in our rear view mirror.

You all know my categories for this place, A HOUSE FROM HELL, REHABBING GRAMS & GRAMPS HOUSE, CHRONICLES OF MY MISGUIDED COUSIN BETH which fit REALLY well, but in the 2+ years since we started this project there are a few tags that could be added that now fit even better like GOLD DIGGING WITCH WITH A GOD COMPLEX, THE FOX IS LOOSE IN THE HEN HOUSE, NO BALLS COUSIN and LOONEY TUNE UNCLE.

ALL of this is so sad to admit, you never want to believe the worst about your own family. This experience has lent credence to the adage that family isn’t always blood, but those you chose to love. It still baffles me that anyone can turn their back on their family, their own flesh and blood, for money which is exactly what my uncle did when my aunt passed away and he took up with the apparent GOLD DIGGING WITCH WITH A GOD COMPLEX.

He became an even more arrogant, egotistical and abusive cheating bastard after taking up with her. Almost immediately she had his power of attorney and things took an immediate turn for the worse as they tried to swindle us beyond belief. After hiring an attorney we were able to force the sale, but are still losing a ton money on the deal. My uncle used us and our skills as well as our cash to get the work done on the house and then tried to evict us claiming we had done nothing to better the property. Fortunately, I kept a chronological progress here on the blog, every receipt to the tune of over $50,000.00 and a detailed log of hours which adds up to over $200,000.00 of labor. So, unfortunately, my blood uncle did swindle us in the end, but worse than that he abused a sacred blood relationship.

The definition of swindle is: swindle – to use unscrupulous trickery or deception to defraud others or cheat someone to obtain money or other assets.

Many of you remember how disheartened we were when we arrived here to find NOT what we were told, but the HOUSE FROM HELL full of…well just FULL and filthy! It was a rodent’s dream AND it was a hoarder’s nest. It was full to the rafters and even the rafters were full and so was the backyard and the garage.

The agreement with my uncle was that the house was ours for a discounted price if we came to help clean it out and care for my aunt. He was offering to help get us back on our feet after the cancer, surgeries, VA claim issues and health issues. Ironically, if he really loved me he would have never exposed me to this house which ultimately left me with the bacterial infections one after another that culminated in my bypass surgery. Supposedly we were going to use our abilities in the process of helping him and make some money for us too, NOT end up completely upside down and worse off than when we got here both financially and physically not to mention we never even had a chance to work on the VA red tape mess.

Here are the BEFORE and beginning AFTER pictures to refresh your memory

So on to the before and after pictures. Hubby is upset that the before pictures don’t truly show how HORRIBLY DISGUSTING this place really was. I just hope the after pictures show how truly GREAT it is now – it really is turn key now!

There was “STUFF” everywhere! The walls where all stained from who knows what and the carpeting was full of melted wax and cigarette burns even in the closet. I have to say that my cousin was evidently suffering from some form of mental illness because this is NOT how she was raised!
The picture above is what I got out of the bedroom carpet on the first pass of available floor with my Rainbow Water Vacuum. Disgusting does not begin to describe how it looked or felt. Below was just one of the cracks to be repaired that was caused by the foundation issues.
The master bathroom didn’t look too bad until you looked close or opened a door and saw all the mold in the wood. So, it ended up getting gutted too. It took me 2 weeks, but I did get the tile clean in the shower, but we still need to find someone to professionally refinish the tile.

Finally a new window and completed bedroom. We used wainscotting floor to ceiling for the new bathroom walls.
The spare bedroom was stacked to the ceiling with junk! It also housed much of her “business” food products. What was the city thinking when they gave her a food license to operate out of this house? Not to mention it is completely against the H.O.A. rules and regulations for this neighborhood. In the photo below the bottom left hand corner was mouse droppings. YUCK!!

This is the pantry floor as clean as it would get! We scraped off all the linoleum and sanitized the foundation before re-flooring.

This 10 pound bag of sugar was spilled ALL over a pantry shelf and was one of the biggest sources for the ants, cockroaches and mice.
unfortunately we can’t seem to find the picture that shows this room stacked 10 feet tall of papers, cabinets and “crap” so have to start with this empty picture.
ATRIUM late 2016
The door would no longer open due to the foundation issues and she used this 24 square feet (8×3) as a “CAT BOX” area. I hate to admit that this was the MOST disgusting of ALL the house and required several bottles of hydrogen peroxide etcher after we removed the toxic 2 layers of tiles.
FOYER 2017
New floor, new door and new paint are done and looking good. I LOVE how much light the new door lets in.
These are cracks, tears and stains in the atrium/living room carpeting.
It took weeks/months to get the living room to this organized point LOL. Notice the crack near the vent? It went all the way to the floor and was 3 inches wide. It is also why we waited over 3 months for the highly recommended dry wall guy that turned out to be a HUGE joke. The picture below is the living room after we finally got it emptied and ready to start painting.
This is one of 3 sections of the living room carpet that had melted candle wax all over it. She had just arranged the furniture over it.
LIVING ROOM late 2016
We made built in cabinets in the living room to hold things like the DVD player, WiiU, movies and games, etc…
I could not get Whiskey to move so she’s in the picture! There are still many Christmas things sitting around as I get them pack up to put away, but all in all it’s looking good.

There was a funky built in area above the tub for linens that needed to be removed and the walls had to be re-done after the 2 layers of wall paper were removed and the wall board was peeling away.

This was after hubby spent 4 weeks cleaning and and making a path for donation and trash.
GARAGE late 2016
Hubby has done wonders at creating a neat and organized garage!

It took months to get to this freezer and then weeks to get into it. The key wouldn’t work! Turns out the seal had failed and there was a HUGE layer of ice sealing it shut. It then took hubby days to chip away ALL the ice and bag the food that was there. We are SO thankful for our trash guys. For a case of beer and soda twice a week and some “special” bottles at Christmas they took ALL we gave them. Way more than they were supposed to or should have. We thank them for going ABOVE and BEYOND!

From this point in the attic you can turn 3 directions, but they all look about the same. We got as much stuff out of the attic as the house it seemed. It is now ALMOST empty except for some insulation that needs bagged and the storage boxes I added just around the opening for when we move.
I tried to salvage these globes covered in nicotine and dirt, but in the end it was a lost cause.
JUST A TYPICAL TRASH DAY. It looked like this, sometimes double this EVERY! trash day (2 times a week) for 9 months!
The wiring had to be all re-done as gramps and possibly Beth’s boyfriend, Tom had done some really scary Mickey Mouse jobs that left us thankful the place hadn’t been burnt to the ground. We found an awesome Electrician and while Tommy was expensive, he is a Master Electrician and left us with a safe feeling allowing us to sleep at night.

This was the path hubby created through to the back gate.

Did I ever mention that the neighbor next door in a 2 story tried to buy this place because he loved the floor plan, but my uncle wouldn’t sell until the foundation work was done? In ALL honestly this house would still be sitting here in the same condition we found it if we hadn’t come long when we did. Unfortunately for us it appears my uncle does NOT appreciate any of this. He still wants more money than it was worth and said if he’d realized it’s condition, he would have just dumped it. If that is the case I have to wonder why he didn’t sell to the next door neighbor to begin with and honestly if he’s going to “DUMP” it why not do so to the people who spent the money for the parts and labor AND did the back breaking work for over a year?

Here are the FINAL AFTER pictures of an empty sold house:

I would like to say I am thankful for this experience and the lessons learned, but I just can’t. I do know grams is no longer turning in her grave over what her son and his daughter allowed her home to become because we have restored it and made it better. The girl scout in me has taken over though and we are better people for having done the right thing by family and are DEFINITELY leaving it better than we found it.

I can say I am glad it’s over and after taking some serious time to rehab at the gym and in the pool to regain my strength this summer elsewhere, we will move forward to something better FAR FAR AWAY from any influence of my caustic, toxic, back stabbing uncle who gave such a wonderful speech at our first Christmas about how lucky they all were that we came to the rescue when they were in over their heads because of my Aunt’s Alzheimers and dementia after my cousin died and left this place such a shambles. He went on and on about how he would make it worth our while because he had no real idea what an F***ing Pig his daughter was until we spent months just cleaning out the place to begin this project. Calling his daughter, my cousin an F***ing pig were his words, not mine, but then he turned around and literally swindled us out of our time, my health, our trust and our money.

My rant is done. I know Karma and God will take care of the rest.


Our old real estate agent sent us an email recently with a few ideas on indoor and outdoor projects for keeping busy during the pandemic and I thought I’d share some of those.

I hope that you and those you love are staying safe and keeping busy. Literally the world over, people are trying to find creative ways to fill their idle time and be productive at home – getting things done around the house, delving into those hobbies and activities they always think about but never have a chance to explore, and spending some good old-fashioned quality time with their family.

  • Outdoor Fun
    • Play hide-and-seek
    • Jump rope
    • Play hopscotch
    • Draw sidewalk chalk art
    • Fly a kite
    • Take a bike ride
    • Go roller skating
  • Indoor Activities

FYI to make you smile!

I’m sitting here watching football with hubby and there was a commercial for a “NATIONAL” pinata day and hubby was like that’s not a thing!  I just laughed and pulled out the laptop to look it up. 😀  Not only was it National Pinata Day, but I found a site for National Day Calendar that will tell you what ANY given day is a “NATIONAL” thing of day.

2019 SNOWMAGEDDON update

So while the power is on and the internet is cooperating I’m going to do a quick update.  Hubby had been saying how disappointed he was that snow had been on the forecast all month, but never really materialized.  Well, I’m here to tell you BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!

We’re accustomed to snow, lots of it even from our time in the U.P., but unfortunately this little town wasn’t!  They are used to a couple inches that melts away fairly quickly.  It would have been okay and even a little bit funny if it hadn’t happened ALL at once and taken down thousands of trees and the power too!  I was never this cold even during the long winters of the Upper Peninsula… Here we are a week later and still have several inches covering everything.

Hubby tried to keep the walkway cleaned off, but every time he’d finish it would start snowing again.  At one point during the 3 day outage it was warmer in the refrigerator than the house and it continued to snow even more with tons of road closures all hampering the repair crews and their efforts to restore power.  Even the cell towers took a beating leaving us with compromised communication.  My neighbor and I resorted to throwing snowballs at each other’s window to get each other’s attention. 

During daylight hours we would use the cars to charge up phones and electronics which would also help melt the snow off the cars while we sat there getting a little bit warm and charging up. I braved it and walked over to talk with my neighbor.  Neighbors checked on each other and banded together as necessary.  Some were kinda stupid running propane heaters in houses that had gas pilots, letting their kids go out and get cold and wet with no way to warm them back up or take their cars where they couldn’t get out without making a HUGE slushy, icy mess.

I have to tell you 2019 Snowmageddon will not be forgotten ANY time soon.  Remote rural areas will NOT even be restored for weeks to come. 

When we finally left the house we were so surprised by just how many trees and I mean BIG trees had fallen onto and over roadways, onto power lines, houses, cars…  Clean up will take some time!  The sun made an appearance on Friday for a few hours and it felt heavenly, but other than that it has usually only appeared at the end of the afternoon in time to start setting.


We had just enough snow to make a mess and slow things down.  It was a wet, cold snow – the kind that sticks to everything.  There was a 2 hour school delay and the roads are icy.

It is so pretty when it starts.

And then it ends up EVERYWHERE! I’m not sure what’s in the bird bath – guess we’ll have to wait for a thaw to find out.

It’s a good day for some homemade cream of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  We have more ice/snow predicted for several more days over the next 10 days so I think I’m going to be a homebody and make soups, stews and jams. 😀