Friday, July 31, 2009

New and Improved

After many months of moving at the rate of retired people, we have finally finished remodeling and redecorating the master bedroom and bath. And we are quite please with ourselves and the final results. Here are some before and after pictures. You will notice that the whole "country" thing is gone....the quilt (yes, the quilt), all the white eyelet, the wooden cornices on the windows with cutesy things sitting on top, the ruffled skirt on the bedside table, etc.

The "after" picture looks a little dark, but it's not dark in the room. It is nice and bright and clean...just what I was going for. The green paint was replace with cream and tan stripes. That was quite a job, but it really makes the look of the room. New bedding (I'll get around to an accent quilt later), new window treatments, and a new night stand make all the difference in the world.

In the corner of the room -- previously -- there was something that looked like a torture devise. I believe it was some kind of exercise equipment, although we usually just used it to hang clothes on. That has been replaced with a very nice chair in that corner. It doesn't look like it...but it's actually a recliner. You know, in case "reclining" on the bed becomes too tough. Also...the sweet, but small, picture I had on that wall has been replaced with a picture grouping. (I've been studying magazines.)
So, in short, all the hard work was worth it and we're loving our new bedroom look.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Please Be Aware

If you're like us, your mail box is full of requests for donations to various charities, research programs, etc. And, like us, you may want to help many of these worthy organizations. But in this past year, I've noticed that we keep receiving some that look very similar. They are for different groups, but they look exactly the same. They are about 1/2 page...maybe a little larger and they have the tear-off sides with the holes. There are 3 copies -- a white, a yellow and a pink. Some are for cancer research, some for Alzheimer's and some for heart disease. I was curious as to why they all looked the same. And they all say, in big red letters, "Annual Fund Drive Voluntary Reply Form" at the top.

One way Jerry and I have chosen to decide who to send money to is to check and see what percentage of the donations received actually goes to the cause; assistance, research, etc. and how much goes to administration. When I turned these suspicious looking ones over and read the fine print on the back, I was shocked! The Alzheimer's one, for instance, says that of the $4,601,433 they raised last year, 4.70% went to program services. 4.70%!!!! Most of it...$70.80% went to fundraising. They will not be getting a penny from me. Similarly, the one for breast cancer research said that of their $10,369,290 raised, only 4.77% went to research program services -- and the one for Heart Support of America admitted that of their $3,898,479 they spent 12.63% on program services. Theirs was a little better, but by the time I read that I felt I may need the free heart attack first aid kit they were offering to send!

Out of curiosity I started looking around the web and found a very interesting site: by a Dr. Stephen Barrett, MD. He talks specifically about the organization behind these letters -- Project Cure. They are actually supporting a group of lobbyists in Washington who want the government to fund alternative cures. It's quite interesting if you want to check it out.

Another web site I urge you to check out is . All charities are listed alphabetically, so looking one up is quick and easy. Click on the one you want to know about and there will be lots of information about them. Scroll down and there will be a pie chart that clearly shows how much of their money goes to programs. Alzheimer's' Foundation of American, for instance, spends 85% on programs (compare that to 4.70% as listed above!). One of my favorites is America's Second Harvest. They give 98% of their raised funds to provide food for the needy. Can't beat that. I think they have changed their name to Feeding America...but it's the same organization.
If there is no pie chart, they may not have received all that information yet and sometimes they will direct you to a website and you can find it there. It's amazing the number of charities that are out there and you can give to whatever touches your heart. I'm just on my soapbox today to encourage you to spend your charitable contributions wisely.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Quilt As Desired - Part Two

Early last February, I posted a picture of a six-point star quilt top that I made for my friend, Pam's, birthday. I said that it was my intention this year to make each of the Batty Babes (my quilting group) a quilt top for their birthday. Each of them can "quilt as desired" by hand or machine. This is the longest stretch that we go between birthdays, but the other night we celebrated again. This time it was Elaine's turn to be spoiled with our gifts and good wishes.

I dug into my stash to find old fabrics, again, and made her this design called "Birds in the Air". Elaine is a long arm quilter. For those of you not familiar with that term, that means she has a professional quilting machine. It will take her no time at all to turn this top into a snugly, warm quilt. Here is a picture of her (she's on the right) at our party...with some of the other Babes...studying all the little fabrics. Such fun we have!
From now till the end of the year the birthdays will be coming fast and I need to get busy!

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Truly Inspiring Tradition

When we moved here (19 years ago), we were vaguely aware of a place about 2 miles down the road from us called "The Salem Campground". It was a landmark of sorts, but we didn't know much about it. There are little shack-type houses that line a large, central grassy area and a strange looking building in the center. The center building is a roofed pavilion with open sides. A small wooden stage sits at the front of several rows of wooden seating. But now we know what it is because there is a write-up in the paper every year about this time.

And every year I am touched again by this wonderful tradition. To give you a brief history, the "camp meeting" is a venerable tradition of Methodist and Presbyterian churches. This particular one is Methodist, but the camp meeting itself is interdenominational. It is a place of peace where worship, reunion, and spiritual renewal can be found. The earliest camp meeting recorded took place in Kentucky in 1800. The Salem Campground meeting started in 1828, and except for the period of the Civil War, has taken place every year since its inception. Salem is one of the oldest existing, thriving camp meetings in the nation.

In its early years, the camp meeting took place in the summer after the crops were "laid by". Families from several surrounding counties loaded their wagons with a week's provisions, brought along a cow for milk and headed to Salem for a week's holiday, usually their one vacation of the year. Campers in those early years generally slept in or under their wagons. Some used wagon sheets as tents, and to this day the term "tent" has been reserved at the campground for the cottages in which current campers stay. Poorer families stayed in actual tents while wealthier families began to construct crude wooden shanties with dirt floors. Though electric lights and plumbing were added in 1939, many of today's more up-to-date "tents" retain the dirt floors and are deliberately kept quite spare and reflect the style and spareness of those early years.

Camp "tents" are built by individual families on campground land and may be held by families as long as the tents are occupied each year. Each house is strongly identified with a family name, and family members gather each year from all over the country at Salem to talk, play and pray together. A single house may contain as many as 30 people or more. Prominent families are known by the number of generations they have been camping at Salem, but also by the size of the family groups they attract each year. Families tend to use camp meetings as a way to mark the passage of their lives. Camp tents sometimes display the "depth" of families in signs which name the family and the date at which the tent was first constructed. Recently one family marked the passing of one of their members who, it was said, never missed a camp meeting in the more than ninety years she lived.

One of my fondest memories from childhood is our family reunion each summer. We called it the "Family Picnic". It was my mother's side of the family. Even though most of us lived in the same town and saw each other frequently, it was something that everyone looked forward to. A whole day of playing with your cousins, eating great food, and just enjoying each other. After most of my mother's siblings got older and the families got larger and more scattered, attendance dwindled and the second- and third-cousins were practically strangers. Now there is only a rare occasion when several of these beloved people will gather as many as they can muster for a lunch or some little time together as a group. I think that is probably a natural thing.

How amazing, then, to think that the Salem Camp Meeting is still thriving! Imagine in this day and age that families are willing -- eager, even -- to put aside things like air conditioned comfort, t-ball games, busy schedules, (dare I say, "cell phones"?) etc. to spend an entire WEEK together. Sharing what I remember from my youth: playing with your cousins, eating great food, enjoying each other, AND being refreshed and renewed by worship, singing and prayer. No wonder the bond is so strong and has continued for 181 years!

What a truly awesome tradition and what a wonderful legacy to leave for families from generation to generation. I can't think of any gift or heirloom to hand down that would have more value. You can go to and read more.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

Every 4th of July, my heart is in Sheridan, Illinois. We had such fun times there with friends the years we lived there. Last year Jerry and I were there in person again and it was just as good as I'd remembered. This year we will be at a cookout at "Papa Jim's". Papa Jim is Jodi's father-in-law and he's always so nice to invite us over to his holiday cookouts, dinners, etc. His family are all very nice folks and we have a good time with them. And, of course, the grand kids will be there. Today we will be celebrating Emery's 4th birthday -- which was actually on Thursday. But what a fun celebration it will be with so many people around. And I'm sure he'll think the fireworks are just for him!

There are a lot of things today that deeply concern me about this country. But I believe that even with all our faults and problems, it is still the best country in the world and I thank God that I was born here. I don't know how to add videos to my posts (help me out here, Jessica), so I will just tell you to go to this web site and see a really neat video:

Have a happy 4th of July holiday however you choose to spend it!