Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Relaxing Sunday with Nature

It was time for another girls' day out. Today we were lucky enough to have another girl join mom. My dad retired 7 years ago. Before then, my mom went on all of our adventures with us. We were always the 3 Musketeers. But now, my mom likes to stay pretty close to my dad---which is pretty amazing considering tomorrow they will be celebrating their 52nd wedding anniversary. Anyway, Mr. Chat wasn't home today, so I threw some ham sandwiches & chips into the cooler...grabbed my two girls and we hit the road. My mom can never go any where empty handed. When she climbed into the front seat, she tossed a few sodas and some home made cinnamon rolls into the cooler. And off we went. Destination: A natural spring.

And we had some company on our stroll around the springs.

The weather was great. The park wasn't overly crowded. It was one of those days that was just right.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Quick Walk Through Our Yard

I know this post is going to leave you wondering why I'm making such a big deal out of my yard. I know a lot of you have A LOT more things going on in your yard. But if you are new to my blog, I will catch you up. For the past 16 years, Mr. Chat has done a lot of landscaping on our property. His efforts paid off, because it was always so beautiful. People would stop and make comments about how pretty our yard was. Mr. Chat even got offers to do landscaping on other properties. He would love to do landscaping for a living, but he has a full time job and just doesn't have as much extra time to devote to it as he would like.

I never get attached to a particular land scheme he has created from year to year, because he gets bored with it. The man moves plants, bushes, & trees around in the yard like a woman moves furniture in her living room. I was accustomed to the look and the personality of the yard constantly changing from year to year...but two years ago..I was SHOCKED and a little embarrassed. The ditch beside our property started to create a flooding hazard. Mr. Chat stripped our yard. He hauled in a lot of dirt so that he could build the yard up. It never failed, every time I saw a little green twig of grass peeking through, he would get on his mower and rake it down. Then he would have more dirt hauled in. I'm sure our neighbors weren't happy with us. First of all, our yard was hideous looking. But also, he created a lot of dust every time he ran his machine across the dirt. I guess doing all of that put him in a pretty destructive mood because he took down some of our Willow trees along that ditch. Of course they had been killed from the ice storm that we had 2 winters before. Then he had the nerve to go to the front yard and take some of our trees down there. We had two trees that he had planted side by side when they were saplings. He twisted them together. They grew and formed together and looked like a spiraling tree. I loved that tree! But he said the roots were going to break up our driveway. He promised that he would replace them with a tree that's roots grow straight down. But after 16 years, I'm use to seeing full grown trees, not little shrimpy looking things. This is going to take some getting use to. Anyway, I will show you how a few of our plants are developing. Remember, everything out there is a work in progress, so I'm only going to show you a few things.

Smoke Tree

Dwarf Chinese Red Maple

Various plants in the front garden

Hibiscus Tree

That's all for now. Mr. Chat has planted some new bushes along the sidewalk, but they are teeny-tiny so I won't show them. I was going to show some of the plants in the back yard, but the neighbor man was out in his yard. He's new to the neighborhood and I didn't want him to think he has a stalker. I'll let him live here for awhile before I let him know just how weird the neighbor lady is.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Best Friends and Life on the Mississippi

There are a couple of people who are a very important part of the Chat family life. We have shared some great times over the past 11 years. We've seen each other through the good, the bad, the loss, and the heartaches. But no matter what, we are there for one another. We share our strengths, weaknesses, flaws and above all else, our love for God & Christ. We are not "conventional" Christians. If you met us, you would know what I'm talking about. But you would instantly know that we love to laugh. We like to find humor in all things. And when we're together, humor we DO find. Chatty says that she can't take us ANYWHERE!!!!! If the truth be told, she gets a real kick out of us. Although, I have seen her walk away when we start having "too" much fun. *heeheehee.* Ain't life grand?

This holiday found us , along with our friends, making our way to a very popular town along the mighty Mississippi river. Yes, that's right! Hannibal, Mo. The boyhood home town of Samuel Clemens (a.k.a Mark Twain). The town and the characters in the Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn books were based upon the town and the people of Hannibal.

I still haven't gotten the knack of taking good pictures for my blog corner. I always forget to take a camera along on my adventures. Chatty gets so engrossed in sight-seeing and shopping that she misses a lot of great photo opportunities. I guess I'll have to quit laughing so much and start taking my blogging responsibilities more seriously.

Hannibal, MO
These are some buildings along the main drag of the old part of Hannibal. In fact, all of the buildings in this part of town have been maintained to keep it's original look of the 1800's. On this Memorial Day weekend, the town was having a festival. This street was closed down so that Merchants and Vendors could set up booths to hock their wares.

Display in Mark Twain Museum

Direct your attention to the buildings to the right. The brown building is the Clemens Drug Store. Mark Twain's dad purchased the whole front row of buildings around the corner from the Drug Store (The view that you can't see from this angle. I will get better at taking pictures, I promise). If I remember correctly, Mark Twain's dad died at the age of 49 when Mark Twain was 11 years old. The family fell on hard times and had to sell everything they owned to pay bills. The white building directly behind the Drug Store was Mark Twain's dad's law office. After a man was shot in the street, this is said to be the building they dragged him into. They put a Bible on his chest so they could see when he stopped breathing. We failed to get a picture of the outside of Mark Twain's boyhood home. Becky Thatcher's home was under renovation so we didn't get to take a tour of it. This picture was taken standing in front of Mark Twain's boyhood home. WRONG..WRONG..WRONG.. Correction....The buildings to your right are not the drug store and the law office....the white one is Mark Twain's boyhood home. The brown one is the gift shop. The picture was taken when we were standing between the Drug Store and the Law Office.

Chatty in front of the infamous whitewashed fence.

We're not Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn. But we ARE best friends who get ourselves into some pretty amusing situations sometimes. THINK: Lucy & Ethel!

Whose idea was this anyway??? At the foot of the steps there was a sign posted that stated whoever made it back down would get a survivor's award. And us being the crew that we are, we accepted the challenge. The sign, however, failed to inform us that there were 244 steps up (which means, 244 steps back down...a total of 488 steps).

This was at the top of the hill. Which (yippee!) meant the end of our uphill climb. This Memorial Lighthouse was built in 1935 for the commemoration of Mark Twain's 100th Birthday. In 1960, a wind of 70 m.p.h. blew the Lighthouse down. It was restored and dedicated in 1963. On March 24, 1963, President Kennedy pressed a button in Washington D.C. to turn the light back on. In 1994 President Clinton pressed the button to relight the beacon.

This was our view from the Lighthouse. The Mighty Mississippi.

And now

In honor of the men and women who fight to give us our chance to experience "peace & freedom" and to share good times & holidays with family & friends. A salute to the people who fight to keep our country "One nation under God":

To all, past and present, who have served and are serving....THANK YOU so much! Words can never and will never express how much gratitude and respect the U.S. citizens and the country owe to you and to your families!!!! May God bless you all!!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Italian? German? Who cares? PRETTY!

My love for Tuscany decór and the fact that it was Maifest weekend, led us on a family outing to the vineyards of Hermann, MO. Yes, I am mixing my ethnic cultures. I realize that we were in German country and they were celebrating a German holiday. But in my mind, grapes and wine making belong to the Italians! While I don't drink (I won't judge those who do), I like grape designs and all stemware glasses. I'm looking for a couple of ideas on grape themed designs to add to my dining room. I loved browsing the gift shop at the winery. Everything was beautiful but also very pricey. I wanted to buy it all. But since the economy is the way it is and I have a budget to stick to, I just browsed. This required a lot of self-discipline on my part!!!! I did, however, get an idea of something I could put on top of my curio hutch. I think I can come up with the same look by shopping at Gordman's...or better yet, the dollar shop.

Chatty was in charge of the camera for the day. Because;

(1.) she is a much better photographer than I.
(2.) I was too busy drooling over everything.

Hermann is a river town. It's citizens have managed to keep a lot of it's old architectural structures maintained and well preserved. Chatty failed to get pictures of the street vendors, old houses and buildings, or the gift shop. Maybe next time we visit this town, we will get more pictures to show to you. I guess she was busy drooling, too.

Here are some of the pictures she remembered to take:

This is the door leading to the restaurant on the vineyard property. The restaurant was originally a horse stable. They were able to revamp it into a stylish restaurant while leaving a lot of the stable's original floor plan and fixtures. The tables are made from old wine barrels. It has an elegant atmosphere. But you have to watch what you order, because Germans really like sour tasting food. Apparently, they add horseradish and vinegar to a lot of their food. They must also be great fans of meat and potatoes.


We were taken on a tour through the wine making process. At the end, there was wine tasting. We skipped out on that part and went directly to the gift shop. :-D!

This was at the entrance to the gift shop. My thought was, "Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Very pretty. But that won't fit anywhere in my dining room....So let's hurry on into the gift shop so I can soak up some creative ideas that I can use and will fit in my dining room!"

From the gift shop, Chatty bought 2 bottles of grape juice and a bag of cheese curds. Mr. Chat bought what he thought were 4 glasses with grapes painted on the outside. He likes finding great bargains. Especially when he thinks he is getting a two-for-one deal. Pleasing me AND doing it cheaply. He took his purchase to the car. On closer inspection, he saw that what he really bought were 4 plastic tumblers. I don't think he thought it was such a great deal after all. ----But I was thankful. (I won't use them for decor but they will make great drinking glasses. Which my family will be grateful for. When I get something really pretty, they have been trained to ask, "Is this for decorations or can we actually use it?" I'm still trying to train Chatty's friend. He couldn't figure out why everyone at our dinner table gasped when he grabbed my spice grinder. Chatty discreetly took the grinder out of his hand, cleared her throat, said, "Decoration". Then she handed him already ground spices and said, "Usable spices." At the time, the only response he made was, "Huh?" I think he thinks I'm weird. But I have every confidence that I will get him trained, too. Either that, or he will take her out to eat a lot more! )----Getting back to the gift shop.---- My wallet stayed closed and my finances intact. The only thing I lost was a lot of saliva from the drooling I did over the pretty displays.


I don't have Siskel & Ebert...

But I do have Sissie



2 thumbs up on our vineyard experience.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekend Get-Away

Yay! We FINALLY had a weekend get away. As usual, it rained on us the whole time! IT NEVER FAILS!!!! I'm glad there were other dedicated tourists around. Otherwise, we may have looked a little dim-witted walking around in the rain.

This isn't us. I just wanted to prove that we weren't the only ones determined to make the best of a bad situation.

We were able to have a lot of fun anyway. Since it was raining and dreary, I wasn't able to take many pictures. The pictures I took aren't high quality, but I will share a few with you anyway!

Table Rock Lake Dam at Branson, MO

Ripley's "Believe It or Not" Museum

Pictures from "57 Heaven Car Museum" in Branson , MO

And last but not least, from "Legends in Concert":

Although he looks like a wax figure, this is a real Elvis Impersonator. Isn't he cute? (Look at the big smile on Chatty's face.

A lady, who works at one of the stores in Branson, said that they experience really dry weather in the months of June and July. In fact, the people who actually live there hope for some rain during those months. I told her that maybe I'll plan another weekend get-away to Branson some time during those months to give them some relief. I'm sure the rain will follow us again.