As the warm weather approaches each year my mind starts swirling with summer projects to improve the backyard. This year was no exception. I always envision my backyard as a fun place to hang out with a comfortable place to relax, swim, play games and BBQ so each year I scour through Pinterest for different ideas and inspiration, but this summer one DIY project was unexpected!
The patio been has been a work in progress. It started out a few years ago putting 4×4 posts along the edge of the patio to hang shade sales, curtains and outdoor lights, and soon after came the furniture and potted flowers and candles.
There has always been one area that I struggled with because it was real eyesore. It was the ugly hose that hung under the kitchen window.
I attempted to hide it behind an old table covered by a tablecloth. It did the trick but really wasn’t what I envisioned during those spring months. What I really wanted was a cabinet with doors in the front and open in the back so I can put it up against the house to cover the hose but still give have access to it.
For the past few years on Father’s Day my sister and I go to my parents for the afternoon, she cleans and vacuums out our Dad’s truck and I work on getting their pool ready for the summer. This year as we were working on our daughterly chores I mentioned to my Dad what I was looking for a cabinet to hide the hose under the kitchen window. If you know my Dad, you won’t be surprised to know that within a couple of weeks he drew up plans for the cabinet, had written down very specific instructions for me on how to build it AND had almost all the wood pre-cut and ready to go. Originally the plan was I was going to build it myself, now that I had the instructions and all the wood necessary but a couple days later my Dad suggested we build it together. Perfect! I know there was no way I would have been able to understand and follow the instructions, no matter how detailed they were.
One very warm afternoon, my Dad came over, we got set up in the garage and got started. So when I say DIY project….kinda, what I really mean is my Dad did all the thinking, the measuring, made necessary adjustments and then I just cut where I was told to cut, sanded where I was told to sand and drilled where I was told to drill.
Of course any project always seems to take longer then expected but even with my Dad’s attention to detail or in other words perfectionism, in a few short hours we had the structure of it put together.
The doors to the cabinet took a little bit longer because we had to make sure they were spaced just right to close properly. In order for this to happen there are extra pieces of board to cut that are placed next to the door for the hinges, etc. Any hoo…..we got that done and voila the cabinet of my spring time dreams was complete!!
or I thought so…………..
Back to my Dad having an attention to detail, in his mind the cabinet was not yet complete. So a few days later we had to add trim to the front and the sides and add the levelers to the bottom to lift it off the ground.
My original plan was to stain it a dark brown to match the patio furniture. I am not sure what it was but the stain did not work. It came out with dark patches from the different grains of the wood soaking up the stain differently. (I wish I had a picture to show you but I couldn’t find it). In the end, I painted it a dark brown instead and added pretty handles.
I am assuming at this point of this post you are wanting to see the final result? Well I have something better…..as with all good projects it’s important to do an infomercial……….
I love my cabinet and I loved the time I spent with my Dad making it.
I loved this book! It is the story of a young girl who refuses her parents’ birthday gift ( to be revealed when you read the book) and eventually becomes an advocate for equality for African American citizens and women. So good and inspiring!
It was 1977, our new family was sitting at the table having dinner one night when my stepmom announces that we were ¨going to have a new addition to the family.” I was nine years old and I new exactly what this meant! We were going to have a baby!!!! I was so excited! I immediately went straight to the phone and called my best friend to share the news.
The months before the baby was born seemed to go on forever and as the due date got closer when I walked home from school, I would hesitantly turn the corner to our street to see if the family van was still parked in front of the house because I KNEW if it wasn´t there then that meant my parents were at the hospital. Almost two weeks after the due date in the middle of the night my parents woke me up and said they were going to the hospital to have the baby. As the oldest I was ¨in charge,¨ they moved me to their bed and made sure the phone was near. Hours later my Dad came home and said that we had a new brother, they named him Michael O´Farrell Morton. I could not WAIT to see him. The months leading up to his birth seemed like forever but the days leading up to Michael coming home were even longer. Finally a few days later when I came home from school I was able to meet my baby brother. He was adorable and I adored him.
In a house full of girls, Michael was all boy. He had curly dark hair, blue eyes and freckles He loved trucks, tools, toy guns, sports, etc. I remember him wearing a belt and putting all of my Dadś work pens on it like it was amunition. I also remember him as a toddler getting a hold of the hose and spraying everyone, we couldnt get near him because he would just spray us, it was hilarious! Itś interesting because being almost ten years older then Michael most of my memories of him are from his very early childhood, by the time he was eight I was away at college and out of the house. I missed most of his middle school years and his high school years but during that time he played sports, he learned how to play the guitar and he got accepted to Jesuit high school, his freshman year was the last year it was all boys. I remember attending his high school graduation and then the following fall he went off to Southern Oregon State and then eventually U of O (just like his big sis 😉).
Michael and I were definitely in different life stages in our young adult hood years and as we got older we saw each other less and less until it became just seeing each other at our parent’s house for major holidays and occasional birthdays. As the years went by and we became busy with our own lives it seemed the distance grew, but I was always proud of my brother and proud to have a brother. Michael had a good job working for the City of Portland, bought a house, was an excellent guitar player writing and producing his own songs, and was able to pursue all of his interests.
Michael was always a more quiet person, kept to himself and never really divulged too much. About two years ago during Easter brunch with the family it was very apparent he didnt look like he was feeling well and we were concerned. When asked if he was feeling okay, he blew it off explaining that he was on a new diet (it did look like he had lost weight). The next few times we saw him after Easter he looked better but still not healthy. The following August he came to my 50th birthday dance party which I was so happy about especially because a dance party really wasnt his scene.
Fast forward to July of 2019. I had finished happy hour downtown with a friend from work and was waiting for my bus home when I noticed voicemails and texts from my sister. I called her back and she told me Michael is missing. What? How can that be? The person who never misses work had not reported to work or called or returned voicemails all day.
What ensued was my sister taking the lead in contacting the police, the sheriffś office and being the point person for the detective. Meanwhile my parents and I knocked on Michaelś neighbors’ doors´ asking if they had seen him and requesting that they contact us if they see him. As the investigation continued we found out he had been on the coast. My poor parents then drove around coastal towns putting up flyers and going to different shooting ranges (Michael liked to shoot) looking for him. My other sisterś husband drove up and down different logging roads off the highway looking for Michaelś truck, at one point he stopped some loggers asking them if they had seen it, they hadnt but had heard Michael was missing. My friend helped me post a Facebook page (according to the detective this was as far we should go in terms of social media, as Michael was obviously a private person and most likely would not want this). Michaelś friend at work formed a search team who were familiar with the different shooting ranges off the coastal highway and familiar with the rural roads, etc.
Four days later when I returned from my walk, I had missed a call from my sister. I called her back and she told me what I didnt want to hear. Michael was found and he had taken his own life. A person from the search party put together by Michaelś coworker found him. He was four and half miles up in the mountains and finding him was like finding a needle in a haystack. I couldnt believe it. I called my other sisters, I called my parents. I wanted to drive to my parents house immediately, but they wanted to be alone so I spent the evening with my sister, drinking wine, talking about Michael, crying, talking some more, feeling shocked and all of it feeling surreal.
Michael was sick and he was in pain. He was in late stages of cirrhosis of the liver and according to the medical examiner it is a very painful way to die. I dont think Michael was afraid to die and I know he wouldnt have wanted his four sisters and mother fretting over him, so he probably thought he did what was best.
It has been ten months since that horrible day in July and I still cant believe my brother is gone. I think of those last moments before he took his life and the pain he was in and it breaks my heart. I will go days without thinking about him and then I remember he is gone and it is like a kick in the stomach. I am convinced he is around me though. Just the other day I was sitting on my bed putting on my shoes when I thought the dog had come up behind me because it felt like someone had stepped on the mattress, I looked behind me and no one was there.
One year Michael had given each of us a CD of songs he had written, sang and produced. The CD is called Grand Opening and I keep it in my car and listen to it every time I go somewhere. My favorite song on the CD is called Lay My Eyes. Its hard to decipher all of the lyrics but in my brotherś own words he expresses the loss I feel:
Lay My Eyes
Everyday I lay my eyes. On the only picture I have of you and I
Still hasnt faded over all this time ´cause I know again some day you will forever be mine
In the time we spent together, I thought it could last forever…… but again I was wrong this time because as long as I can sing this song, together…….
Iĺl sing it to you………
Iĺl sing it to you……….
Sometimes I cry and laugh (next word inaudible)
I wish and dream to be true. Never thought I could see forever another day without you
In the time we spent together, I thought it could last forever…… but again I was wrong this time because as long as I can sing this song, together
Iĺl sing it to you………
Iĺl sing it you you……….
Michael would have been 42 this year and I miss him terribly. I see him everyday in the photo I have in my hallway, I hear his voice when I play his CD, I dont hesitate to talk about him and on occasion he lets me know he is still around😊.
I started my blog just over two years ago now and the following was one of my early posts. I am re-posting it now because we are in the holiday season and it was one of my favorites to write. Enjoy!
One of the many joys in my life are the reactions I get from my kids with my silly antics. Like when I show them my progress in perfecting the Running Man (its a dance move) or when I purposely misuse trendy sayings or phrases. Keep in mind my kids are 18 and 20, so I have to find SOMETHING to keep me entertained!
For the past few years during Christmas I have put up a small Christmas village. You know the ones with the little village people, houses, stores, horse drawn carriages, etc? A couple years ago when my kids were at home because it was winter break I would text them asking, “What is happening in the village?” They thought I was a nut. Sometimes they would play along and give me a silly story of what was happening in the village but most of the time they would ignore my texts, which for some reason made me laugh also. Well………this year I decided to change it up and text THEM about what was happening in the village. Below are the “Village Update” texts they received:
12/10/17-Accident on the ice rink. Little Timmy had a pretty scary fall but he is ok. Minor fracture.
12/12/17-BREAKING NEWS! Robbery suspect on the loose! Suspect broke into Mrs. Smith’s fruit store at approximately 2am Tuesday morning. Eye witnesses have described the suspect as male approximately 5’6 to 5’7, some say he has blonde hair others say brown, some say he has a tattoo on his left arm and others say he wears a medical necklace. There is a $500 reward for anyone who can find this robber. If you have any information please contact Sheriff Kates at 1-800-JEALOUS?
*After this text my son responded with-UNSUBSCRIBE
*The description of the robber describes both my kids and Kates is my hot bf’s last name.
12/13/17-Power Outage. Cause of outage is unknown at this time. Village officials estimate power will return within 24 hours and ask that its citizens stay close to home until the power returns. On a side note the robbery suspect who broke into Mrs. Smith’s fruit store is still at large although some villagers have said they have spotted him at the local watering hole.
12/17/17-Press Release-The robbery suspect has been found and detained. Locals found him up north in a run down shack ice fishing. The shack was filled with fruit. Sheriff Kates has declared that the Village may resume to its normal activities. BINGO AT THE LEGION HALL MONDAY NIGHT! Mrs.Migilicuddy will be serving her peach cobbler!
12/23/17-Village Gossip- On Saturday Charlene was at Brenda’s Beauty Salon getting a cut and color and she said that Nancy said that she saw Cindy’s husband sneaking away from that hussy Bobbie Sue’s house Tuesday afternoon. Apparently Bobbie Sue’s husband is on a “business trip” but you know what they say about the kind of business he is in! And this isn’t the first time Cindy’s husband has been caught in questionable circumstances with the other ladies in the village!
12/24/17-REMINDER- The Silver Fox bowling league is putting on a bake sale at the community center. Come by and support the ladies by purchasing freshly baked goods. Mrs. Smith always puts a little extra rum in her rum cake :). Proceeds go towards a state of the art cat park behind the old barn on the Johnson property. And best of all Sheriff Kates will be there to autograph photos!
12/26/17-Jumpstart on next year’s Christmas shopping with 50% off on fruitcakes at Behrman’s Bakery. Get them while they last!
12/30/17-A note from the editor: The staff (the editor) will be on a short hiatus and will return December 2018.
Wishing you joy and happiness for the year ahead 🙂
Last fall when the days became gloomy, grey, cold and raining in the Pacific Northwest I was at work procrastinating on actually doing work when I walked into my coworkerś office. She was feeling frustrated and exhausted with the politics of work and just needed a break. With an empathetic ear I listened to her vent (her frustration was so understandable) and then suggested that WE should go on a vacation! Wouldn´t that be fun??!! Kerrie and I had bonded a couple years prior over our love of our dogs and I had taken care of her three month old puppies while she was out of town at a family memberś wedding, but aside from that we had never spent that much time together. I kid you not, a few SECONDS after I proclaimed that we needed a vacation our co-worker Linda walked in and said she could get us a great deal at an all inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta . Oh my gosh, were we really going to do this? YES!!!!!
We got a smokin’ deal on seven nights at an all inclusive resort for the end of February and with Kerrieś companion deal with Alaska airlines we made out like bandits!
Last year I had posted a blog about finding a bathing suit for the trip https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/justsharing.blog/379. I eventually found one that seemed to do exactly what I was wanting-enhance the good stuff, cover the not so good stuff and be happy with the results. The other thing I had to prepare for was how to deal with my fear of flying! Ugh. Turbulence is not my friend. It makes me cry. So I asked my doctor to prescribe me something to help me relax and reduce my anxiety.
Finally February 27th arrived and it was time to go on our spontaneoulsy planned vacation. We boarded the plane, I took my prescribed med and attempted to distract my nervousness with watching a movie, chatting with Kerrie and every 15 minutes checking the map to see how much more we had to travel. We finally arrived in Puerto Vallarta around 1pm and found our driver to take us to the hotel.
We stayed at the all inclusive Amber Now resort and it was gorgeous! Below is the view when we first walked in.
I will say the one thing that I did struggle with was that it was on the 15th floor and for someone that is afraid of heights (and flying) it was a little too high, and I admit I might have been a little dramatic about it, but 15 floors is high!
A little video of walking along the open hallway of the hotel on the 15th floor
Kerrie and I had no agenda. We spent most of our days laying by the pool drinking margaritas. We took full advantage of the bar and the food served at the pool. If we were up to it in the evening we ate at one of the five restaurants at the resort (all super good!) and I am not afraid to admit that we also indulged in room service, I mean after all, sitting by the pool all day is exhausting and we just didn´t have the energy to shower and dress for dinner.
We were able to pull ourselves away from the pool for two excursions and it was so well worth it. For the first one, we took a taxi to the ¨flea market” which is essentially all the shops where you can barter for whatever you want. There were SO many little shops to buy from, it just went on and on and on.
The next day we had such a fun time on a day trip to Las Caletas. It was an hour ride on a catamaran where they sold food and drinks, had entertainment and signed people up for the different activities. Kerrie really wanted to swim with a sting ray and a seal. I agreed to do it as well but it was not my favorite thing, to say the least. You may notice in the video I am staying close to Kerrie and keeping an eye on the damn sting ray that was swimming right up near us. After that little event we hung out on the hammocks that were literally on the beach! With a bar right there! They then fed us a delicious lunch and and we walked along the paths with all of its beautiful sights. On the way back to Puerto Vallarta all of the staff were so entertaining (and good looking), the music was loud and they were dancing and being goofy. What a fun day! Below are some pics and a video of the sting ray and seal experience.
This trip was like no other trip I had ever been on before. All inclusive is the way to go! Sometimes it was hard to wrap your head around that the delicious meal you just ate or the room service we just ordered did not cost us any money, just a few dollars for a tip. We met some great people, ate great food, drank many margaritas, relaxed, had no agenda, enjoyed the sights, saw whales not too far out in the ocean, did some gambling at the casino on sight and had two AWESOME and cheap massages right on the beach!!
I cannot wait to go back and I am so grateful for my traveling companion Kerrie and my friend and co-worker Linda for playing our travel agent and setting us up at Amber Now. If you ever get the opportunity to treat yourself, I highly recommend this trip.
Until next time here are a few more photos to enjoy…………
The other day I was sitting with my dear friend Ederlinda, sharing the latest news of what has happened in our lives since we last checked in (probably three days worth of updates). Edś two older children recently went off on their own, one to travel the world and the other to tackle his first year of college, so she is now feeling the empty nest and has time on her hands. Boy, do I know that feeling! My advice to Ed…. ¨Girl you gotta get a side hustle!¨ And I am speaking from experience!
About two years ago with both of my boys out of high school and in college, living their lives like young adults do, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands and needing an outlet. This may sound corny but it was after reading Amy Schumerś book ¨The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo¨ that inspired me to start this blog. I enjoyed sharing my blog posts, I was never short of topics and it fulfilled that creative restlessness. After about six months of blogging, the posting slowed down and I found myself restless again. One of the hopes I had in writing my blog was that it might generate some income or at least free swag (for cryin’out loud!), but it did neither. So ideas started swirling in my head again of what I could create and sell and how I would do this. My ideas centered around women empowerment messages on tshirts, pens or anything else I could put a logo on, but then………
One day I was sharing with my bff Kelly my ideas for generating some extra income. I thought about refurbishing furniture and then selling it on Craigslist or OfferUp but decided that would be too much work. I can´t remember exactly how, but we came across something called retail arbitrage on Amazon. Basically it´s buying items super cheap at WalMart or any other retail store and reselling it on Amazon for a profit. Itś pretty crazy how it works. They actually have an app that you can use to scan an item at the store and it shows you how much you would have to sell it for and how popular the item is so that way you know if itś worth selling. We tried this a few times. For instance Kelly found rolls of graduation ribbon at Michaelś for about $4 each and we sold them for $10 a roll on Amazon, but the problem we found with doing retail arbitrage was that shopping for items took up a lot of time. Although the ribbon did sell fast we didn´t want to spend our whole weekend going from store to store searching for clearance items.
That summer Kelly and I and the rest of our gang were all turning 50, so we started thinking about selling things around 5oth birthday parties BUT when we checked on Amazon their were TONS of party supplies and gifts for a 50th. The other event that was coming up for us was our sixteenth annual girls weekend.
When we looked on Amazon their were products for girls weekends but many of them were focused on bachelorette parties or many of the products would say something about ¨bitches,¨ which I find offensive. Once we saw how few products their were focused just on girls weekends, ideas came pouring out. We found our niche and our business, Gracie Products was born.
Developing our business has been a slow process. There has been lotś to learn, its been frustrating at times, confusing (Are we really making a profit when itś all said and done? Still to be determined) and in the beginning a little worrisome with forking out money and crossing our fingers that people will like our product. The best part about it? The creativity, spending time with Kelly and working together to make it work, the support of our friends and watching our product sell! We decided to stick with the Amazon platform and sell our product on what is called Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). Basically we buy from a wholesaler and send it to Amazon where they store it in one of their warehouses, advertise it, send it to the customer and put the money in our account when a customer buys our product. Amazon charges us some steep fees to do this but for us it is worth it. If we didn´t sell through Amazon we would have to store the product at home and spend our weekends and evenings packing and shipping to customers. No thank you!
We started our business with two products. One of which was a cute coffee mug with a girls weekend logo. We had problems with the mugs themselves so eventually removed them and have stuck with the one that seems to work, this charming stemless wine glass
We have been selling this glass for almost a year now and it has been so fun seeing where the customers are from. We sell to a lot of people on the east coast, especially the Carolinas (thank you Carolinians). So far we have sold probably around 300 glasses (as business owners, keeping track of numbers like these is not our strong point. Don´t worry we have one of our other bffś taking on this task) and have finally generated enough money that we can order again from the wholesaler without using our personal money or business credit card. I think this is a good thing!
Our next focus is really shoring up and organizing the amount of money going out versus how much is coming in (obviously very important) and creating a second product to sell. Gracie Products has been the perfect remedy for our empty nest syndrome and really the bottom line is…….. a girlś gotta have a side hustle.
You will find our product on Amazon if you just search ¨Girls Weekend¨ or at the link below:
If you are thinking about starting your side hustle using Amazon please feel free to reach out if you have questions. I have left out a lot of the tedious boring details like registering the business, setting up a business bank account, etc. etc. so let me know if you have questions.
In my renewed dedication to posting on my blog, I thought I´d just start with the beginning of the year and write about events that have happened thus far.
In the spring of 2008 when my boys were nine and eleven years old and after not having a pet for the last year and a half it was time to get a new dog. We had lost our black lab Gracie Mae to kidney failure at the age of two and half . I knew I didn´t want a puppy (too much work) but still wanted a younger dog. During this time Craigslist was new and very popular, so I started my search for a new family pet there.
I found an ad for a half yellow lab and half golden retriever dog about three years old. Apparently the owners had gotten her at a shelter and only had her for less then a year but now wanted to find her a new home after she snapped at their toddler (startling a sleeping dog will sometimes create that reaction). I took the boys with me to meet her. She was adorable! I couldn´t believe they wanted to get rid of her. It pulled at our heartstrings though when the owners older child who was about four years old was crying when she learned we were taking the dog. The coincidental kicker in all this was her name was Gracie also! To differentiate her from our first Gracie, we gave her the name of Gracie Lou ❤.
Oh how we loved Gracie! Her quirky personality and funny idiosyncrasies made us laugh all the time. Probably one of her more well known mishaps happened one summer night at about midnight. I am lying in bed and suddenly I smell something funny. It was a HORRIBLE smell. The best way to describe it was a combination of gas and burnt rubber. Worried that it was a gas leak I called the fire department. I then put Gracie in the back bedroom in her crate, brushed my hair and put on a little lip gloss. The firefighters arrived and walked around the house with their gas detector. One of the firefighters checked all the bedrooms and then comes out says to me that he doesn´t think itś a gas leak he thinks Gracie got sprayed by a skunk!! We have a dog door in the kitchen to the backyard, Gracie was able to go in and out of the house as she pleased. I gave Gracie the tomato juice bath which they always tell you to do but it did very little to get rid of the smell. I had to throw out my boys´ bedspreads, wash all of our clothes (even the ones that were in the closets and dressers). When she got sprayed I think she immediately came in the house and then walked into each room and literally spread the horrible smell everywhere. It took weeks and weeks for that smell to go away. And guess what? About three years later, it happened again!!!!!!
A few other things we loved about Gracie:
Hunted for squirrels in the backyard and created a path through the lawn and behind the bushes of her hunting route.
Did not eat her food unless I was home. And when she did eat, she would bring her food into the living room where we were.
Butted her head against the boys´ bedrooms doors every night so she could go in and check on them.
She somehow ran away twice (during the day while I was at work) and each time I got a call from a very kind person saying they found her.
One night as she was running in the backyard her back hind leg went into paralysis. That was a midnight trip to the emergency vet.
Every weekend when we took her for a walk she was so excited, like she had never gone on a walk before.
Walked around the house with one of my shoes in her mouth (never chewed it).
As the years went on she slowed down, some of her quirks went away while others emerged. She eventually lost her hearing and most of her vision but she still was a happy dog, loved to eat, loved to go on walks and loved it when we came home. The last few months of her life were her most difficult. It became harder for her to walk, her breathing was labored at times, she slept a lot and could no longer go on our weekend walks.
Fast forward to February 4, 2019 my son called me and said we have to take Gracie to the emergency room. When I got home, I saw her lying on the floor and I knew something was wrong. We took her to the emergency room and made the decision that it was time to put her to sleep. While we waited for the doctor to prep her and the rest of the family to show up to say their goodbyes, there was just a few moments when it was just her and I in the room and that was when she chose to go on her own.
They say having a family pet provides unconditional love and companionship, comfort and security. Gracie Lou did all these for us. For the eleven years she was with us she was the focal point of our family and I can only assume that it was meant to be that she became a part of our family. At some point I am going to plant a tree in our backyard in her memory so she will always be with us. Love your pet as much as they love you.
Goodness. Life gets busy, time slips by us, forgetfulness creeps in and shit happens. Thatś my excuse. Itś been months since I have really written anything for my blog. The past few weeks I have been thinking that I need to write again, but of course just never got around to it, until today.
This afternoon my sonś girlfriend, Taylur treated her mom, Kim and myself to pedicures (so sweet). As we sat there with our feet in the almost-too-hot water, Kim asked me about my blog. Ugh. There it was. I told her I had been thinking about blogging again but nothing came to mind to write about. She graciously complimented me on my writing style and blog. BAM! There was the inspiration I needed.
So for those that follow my blog (mainly family and friends and a few unknown followers) expect future blog posts to be life for me for the last six months. There has been fun business ventures, good times with friends and family, travel and great loss. I hope to share my experiences in a way that holds your interest, is hopefully entertaining (when appropriate), relatable and in the end offers insight, inspiration and information. Thank you Kim!