My hubby and I recently went to Home Depot to buy wood trim for our house.  After walking for what seemed like miles, we finally found an employee to help us.  We said, “We’re interested in buying some wood trim.”  The employee said, “You can just take the number to the service desk.  They’ll help you.”  I took a photo of the UPC codes and the three of us headed to the service desk.  On the way, the employee said, “Do you two use the internet at all?”

Silly, OLD us, we wanted to see the wood in person before we paid hundreds of dollars for it. 

Shopping has changed forever, and I have mixed feelings about it.  

During the early days of the pandemic, I began thinking about shopping and how it’s been evolving through the years.  The Prime and UPS trucks are fixtures on our streets now. Not since childhood, have I seen such regular home deliveries.  The Prime trucks are here even more often than the milk delivery man who brought fresh milk to our neighborhood. We had a metal, insulated box on our porch for dairy delivered once or twice a week.  Walter, the dry cleaner, was at our house on a regular basis. Makes me cringe to think of Walter because, even though I was about five years old, I distinctly remember telling him I wanted to be Miss America when I grew up. Yikes!  I always looked forward to the day the bread man arrived.  He had the coolest metal rack that went from flat to tiers of wrapped cupcakes and pastries in seconds.  

In those days, you could buy plenty of items at home, like cleaning products from the Fuller Brush man, vacuums, encyclopedias, and much more. Door-to-door salesmen were welcomed into our homes to tell us all about their wares. 

My early memories of leaving the house to shop include trips with my mom to Pomeroy’s Department Store, Reading, PA,  for school uniforms. Not many fond memories there, but as I got older, like in the fifth or sixth grade, a new world of shopping opened up for me.  Weather permitting, I was allowed to walk downtown with my friends.  Each Saturday, after my chores were finished, I would spiff myself up, fill my little purse, and walk several blocks to meet up with friends.  We then walked the 1.5 miles to the center of town–THE shopping district.  I saw Pomeroy’s in a new light.  It was so much more than school uniforms, and so much fun to explore a department store on my own. Without adult supervision, we could spend as much time as we wanted dawdling in whatever department we wanted to dawdle in.

Pomeroy’s was good, but this was the era of the five and dime store! These stores fascinated me more than the department store.   Woolworth’s had plenty to appeal to kids my age, and they had live animals in the pet section.  But Kresge put in a cafeteria-style snack bar that was soooo cool.  And Grant’s had its own fun.  Frankly, looking back, I can’t believe our parents let us walk all the way downtown, and stay until practically dinner time.  I don’t ever remember abusing the freedom of our Saturdays.  Our Saturday independence was a gift,  and we took full advantage of it.  We shopped, but we also regularly explored the public library, a nearby bakery, the dry goods store and the mysterious items in the oriental gift shop.  

For many, Hess’s of Allentown was known as a Pennsylvania shopping experience to remember.  Mostly I remember Christmas decorations and the Strawberry Pie. The desserts there were amazing.  

Weather could hamper or even cancel our weekly jaunt downtown. But the shopping trend of the 1970s would allow browsing without worrying about the elements.   Gone were the days of downtown exploration, as we moved into climate-controlled malls. It was a novel idea–all of the stores under one roof. The new place to hang out and spend money was The Berkshire Mall.  My mom always called it, “the mull.”  We all tried to correct her, but it never worked.  It is just one of the many momisms that we lovingly remember. The mall had three department stores as anchors; John Wanamaker’s, Lit Brothers and Sears.  What I enjoyed most about the mall was the little specialty stores like Piercing Pagoda, and Wrangler Wroost, a jeans store with an old Coca-Cola vending machine.  The sodas were five or ten cents–much cheaper than anywhere else. For years, the Berkshire Mall was the center of shopping in Reading.  It’s still there apparently, but suffering the same fate of our malls here in Columbus. 

As a youngster, my mom and I flew to Columbus to visit relatives.  While Reading had the Berkshire Mall, Columbus had FOUR malls, one for each quadrant of the city.   I think I saw Northland first and was taken by the “fountain” that had blue liquid sliding down ropes.  I must have really liked the fountain, because I took too many bad photos of it.  Of course Lazarus was in the mall, but we also visited the large Lazarus store downtown.  It was a real treat. 

July, 1970

In-person shopping was a big part of my life.  It was a necessity and a hobby.  Places like The French Market at the Continent and The City Center in Columbus were destinations to enjoy and take guests from out of town.  Craft and antique shops became some of my favorites.  

After my daughter was born, shopping for fun became less frequent.  My time was spent with the family, and eventually, her activities became our activities.  I admit I didn’t miss fighting lines and crowds, especially at the holidays when people seemed more rude than ever!

As I said before, my feelings about the state of shopping are mixed.  Yes, I do use the internet, just not to buy wood trim.  I take advantage of the ease and convenience of online shopping.  But, I’m not ready to give up in-person shopping.  I like picking out my own groceries, feeling the fabric of a shirt, seeing vintage and artisan pieces up close. I think there is an implicit sense of community when shopping in person.  In an antique store or boutique, I have something in common with all of the other patrons there.

For many, however, shopping online is vital.  People who cannot get out to shop now have a great resource. But, I worry that shopping from home adds new problems for buyers.  I’m concerned about increased isolation for some people.  Not to mention, the amount of packaging and trash created when having goods delivered can become a burden, especially for older folks.  

In the end, it’s a good thing to have so many shopping choices. We can personalize our experience however we like if we just stop once in a while and consider the pros and cons of our options.


This blog is dedicated to my mother, Ann Lazinsky who instilled in me the importance of family traditions.  It is written primarily for my daughter, Emma, and my niece Debbie Lazinsky, who are most likely to keep this delicious Hungarian, Nicklos family tradition going! 

Emma with my Mom (1997)

It’s Lent, and time to think about Easter. As a youngster, I remember vividly the two times a year when our house turned into a makeshift bakery.  For about a 24-hour period, before Easter and before Christmas, it was NUTROLL season!  

Debbie with my Mom (1972)

My mom called it kolache, but I think that was referring mostly to the yeasted dough used to hold the nuts.  Kolache in the U.S. is widely known as a Czechoslovakian pastry popular in Wisconsin and Texas.  The Hungarian Cookbook, by Susan Derecskey has a recipe for something that sounds like a version of nutroll called Dios Beigli, but the filling is different from the one we use.  There are many variations of this recipe.  I even remember some of my mother’s sisters, Helen and Mary making different delicious versions of the tasty treat.  Mary also made poppyseed filling, which was special too! 

I took over the tradition of making the Anna Nicklos Lazinsky version of nutroll for Easter 1998.  Emma was a one-year-old at the time, and the urge to share family traditions arrived with motherhood.  So, I set out with no recipe and little proper equipment to make the beloved treat. 

Long before she died, my mother gave me one piece of nutroll equipment in hopes I would carry on the baking.  It’s the metal bowl she used to make the dough. Keep in mind, she made enough nutrolls to feed the entire neighborhood.  The bowl measures 14 inches in diameter, and stands six inches tall. It’s huge!  I could have bathed newborn Emma in it. Mom filled

The Mega Bowl

that gigantic thing with dough and kneaded it (she called it beating it) until she reached what looked to me like complete exhaustion!  After all of that work, the bowl sat covered near a heat vent to make sure the dough raised the proper amount.  This all took place late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.  

The equipment I didn’t have was the old, beaten-up, barely-working hand grinder my mom used to grind the nuts.  I’m not sure she ever tried any other way of grinding the walnuts because Mom thought this broken-down little tool made the nuts the perfect texture.  Her hands would ache after she spun the handle of this little thing for hours.  My sister and I would help sometimes, but I don’t remember ever using the grinder for more than a few minutes before my hand began to hurt. The compartment that held the walnut halves was so small.  Only a few nuts fit in at a time.  Grinding was the true labor of love!

This grinder looks new compared to the one Ann used!

Luckily, I remember the taste of my mother’s nutroll like I ate a piece just yesterday. When I set out to make it, I knew I needed a yeasted sweet dough, walnuts, sugar and currants.  Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, Third Printing, 1980, came through with the sweet dough recipe.  I didn’t use the “mega bowl,” however. I used the food processor to mix, then knead the dough. I wanted to make a few nutrolls, rather than enough to feed an army.  Because I didn’t have the hand-crushing grinding tool, I again used the food processor.  I really felt like I was cheating for the first two or three times I made the nutroll.  It felt like sacrilege to use the food processor.  It worked well, though.  I turned out a good dough, and the food processor ground the nuts to the right consistency.  I added sugar a bit at a time to get just the right sweetness, and I added the currants last.  This tiny version of a raisin adds moisture and a slight bit of tartness.  My adaptation of the recipe makes about four equal rolls.

While it’s not the production of the old days, it’s still a rich tradition that I’m willing to carry on. My mother usually got little or no sleep the night before baking the nutroll. My process is a lot quicker, and should be pretty easy, even for someone with little experience.  

Thanks to my Mom for all of the wonderful memories of the process, the smells, and the tastes.   

Here’s my recipe for four nutrolls:

Betty Crocker’s Sweet Roll Dough 

1 package active dry yeast

½ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)

½ cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)

⅓ cup sugar

⅓ cup butter, softened

1 teaspoon salt

1 egg

3 ½ to 4 cups all-purpose flour

1 additional beaten egg to brush on top of the nutrolls.

Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl.  Stir in milk, sugar, butter, salt, egg and two cups of the flour.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in enough remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.  Place in a greased bowl; turn greased side up.  Cover; let rise in warm place until double, about 1 ½ hours.  (Dough is ready if an indentation remains when touched.)

If you use a food processor, as I do, follow your processor’s instructions for kneading dough.

Punch down dough.  Roll out four equal rectangles, fill with nut mixture.  Roll and let rise again. Brush the tops of the rolls with beaten eff.  Bake about 20 to 30 minutes in a 325 degree oven. Crust should be browned, but not burned.  

Nut Mixture 

2 pounds walnut halves

2 cups sugar

1 cup currants

Use food processor or chopper to grind the nuts.  They should be fairly fine without many large bits. But, be sure to stop processing before the nuts become a paste.  Mix in the sugar and currants.

Journeys, an update…

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m so grateful for family, friends, and second chances.

I heard someone say, “The only person that has to love you is yourself.”  

If you haven’t had a mammogram recently, I urge you to set up an appointment today.  I spent a week thinking I had breast cancer, and I would protect anyone from the agonizing feeling I carried in my gut for seven days.  I’m ashamed to say how long it had been since my last mammogram.  Even with my niece battling breast cancer, I didn’t make an appointment.

After digesting the report citing a mass, asymmetry, and dense tissue, I tearfully apologized to my husband, and told him how stupid I felt.  All of my introspection cannot explain the reason I procrastinated.  Maybe I was ignorant.  For all of the breast cancer information out there, I didn’t internalize the high risk for older women.  One in 28 women over age 60 will be diagnosed (  Maybe I was ashamed for anyone to see how fat I’d become.  Maybe I stupidly thought it couldn’t happen to me.  Maybe years of low self-esteem kept me from taking care of myself at all.  It’s hard to admit these things, and it makes clear the job I have ahead of me.  I need to love myself: mind, body and spirit.  

After a series of many more images, it was determined that there was no mass in my left breast.  I have dense breast tissue which makes it difficult to see abnormalities.  I was sent home in the clear with orders to return in a year. 

Even when I was skinny, I wasn’t confident inside.  Now it’s much worse.  There are signs of me hiding all around me.  This blog, my Etsy shop and my Instagram all have photos of something other than my face.  

I’ve taken steps toward self-care and love so I need to celebrate what I’ve accomplished so far.  Since I began this health kick, I’ve lost ten pounds.  My knees feel better, and I can feel stamina and strength coming back.  As noted above, I also started making appointments to catch up with all of the health care I’ve been putting off since well before the pandemic.  

I’ve added the Foo Fighters (do not laugh) and stationary biking to the routine.  I found a wacky workout playlist that takes me back to the beat of my teens in the 70s.  The music pushes me to walk and bike faster.  We’re also seriously thinking about adopting a dog.  That means lots more steps for me.  

As far as fulfillment, I’m feeling pretty good about how I’m spending my days.  Creativity is my thing, and I’ve been making all kinds of goodies to sell on Etsy.  The plan for me is to always donate part of my profits to charity.  It gives my creativity meaning. 

My boy Oliver in on the act!

So, I’m trying to become my best self, and learning to love the self I am today.  

Temperature Blanket Reworked…

I \”frogged\” the first version of my temperature blanket.  When I initially saw the term, I guessed that it was giving up on a project.  But further digging taught me that frogging means unraveling a piece of knitted or crocheted work.  It’s frogging because rip it, rip it, sounds like ribbit, ribbit.  Frogging. 

Original Temp Blanket

Up until the pandemic and my acquisition of a good cell phone, my knitting and crocheting was a solitary activity.  I never joined a knitting group, or participated in classes.  The pandemic gave me more time to do needle crafts, and my new phone facilitated all kinds of pattern research and inspiration from others.  Some of my favorite sites and posts for inspiration are listed below.  Ravelry is the site that taught me frogging and helped me put a nicer, cuter spin on undoing hours of work.

While I liked my first blanket, it began to reveal problems as it grew.  Because I changed color at the end of each row, the blanket was becoming misshapen.   I also realized that by crocheting in rows, I didn’t get to see enough of the colors I so painstakingly chose for the project! For me, it\’s all about the colors.

A fellow crocheter on Ravelry said that she would make squares for a temperature blanket.  Thank you to Laura.  After measuring and tinkering, I came up with a plan for a C2C crochet blanket–crocheting one square per day.  C2C is corner-to-corner crochet.

Reworked Temp Blanket (and kitty bum, sorry)

I found out about C2C on a site called The Patchwork Heart when I was looking for a join-as-you-go afghan design to use up scrap yarn.  I knew I wasn\’t experienced enough to neatly sew a bunch of squares together.  The Patchwork Heart had the best idea for my blanket. Not only did I join as I crocheted, but I was able to weave the ends in after each square. The instructions on The Patchwork Heart are superb, and I recommend them to anyone who wants to take on a C2C project.

I’m current on my daily crocheting, and couldn’t be happier about the switch.  I am enjoying the colors so much more, and am so glad I “frogged” my first try! is a huge community of needle crafters. I keep track of my projects there, participate in groups, and find patterns and inspiration.

The Patchwork Heart ( is a beautiful site with tons of inspiration.

On Instagram, I follow brightbag from Ventspils, Latvia, for her amazing, colorful designs and tlyarncrafts, Columbus, Ohio, is a must for daily, upbeat crochet inspiration. Toni\’s enthusiasm is unmatched! I\’m excited to have such a gifted artist in my hometown!

Chair Update…

If you’ve read my previous blog, “Please Take a Seat…,” you know that I spent a good part of my summer refinishing old chairs.  The idea was to sell the chairs and give the proceeds to charity, specifically, The Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.  

To date three chairs have sold, and the others are being sold at Fresco Furnishings in Grandview. 

While the money for the charity became the prominent motivation for me to complete the chairs, other factors contributed to my determination to get them done.  My husband wanted a garage that wasn’t packed with my “treasures,” and I needed to fight boredom during the pandemic.  Now that the chairs are completed, and in a shop for sale, I can reflect on the project.

I learned about myself, and discovered qualities I had not associated with my personality before.  I also gained a profound appreciation for the resiliency of wood and the craftsmanship, now almost 100 years old.

Some chairs were in really bad condition and I thought I would never get them in shape again. At the end of each day, dirty, sweaty and achey, I was surprised that I had the perseverance to keep going.  I sanded for hours on end, often without an electric sander because of so many curves and intricacies in the designs. With much trial and error, and the help of the internet, I learned how to change the trash-bound chairs into viable pieces of furniture.
I saw something special in every chair.  Either the detailed carving, or slender lines begged me to keep going and to find a way to make those special features prominent.

Repairs were not complex, but necessary on most pieces.  I live in a tool-poor household.  Yes, we have the basics, but in each step of the job I knew there was probably a power tool that would make the task easier. It was satisfying for me to muddle through with just the basics. After all the original makers probably didn\’t use fancy electric tools.

Here are the chairs that remain for sale.  

This is the first chair I completed.  I’m no dummy.  I picked what looked like the easiest chair to begin the project.  If I had some early success with an easy chair, it would motivate me to tackle the worst chairs later.  This chair is small, but has great lines.  I had to fill in many holes and sand all of the old finish before I painted it blue.  The center seemed bare, so I used a flower stencil to mask the area.  After the chair was painted, I removed the mask to reveal the rich wood underneath. Most of my chairs are distressed, especially on the edges.  I think it brings out the lines of the design. 

This chair had layers and layers of finish on it. It was a sanding marathon.  My arthritic hands hated me for this chair.   There is evidence that a previous owner was going to refinish it, because the caning on the seat looks new.  One of the rungs in the middle was missing, and one was broken, so instead of six, the chair has four rungs.  

The carving at the top was really pretty.  The initial plan was to paint it all white.  I tested an area, thought it was boring, and decided to paint the leaves and flowers in the carving with a variety of colors….greens, pinks, etc. But when I wiped off the white to add the colors, I realized the design was highlighted beautifully by keeping the wood natural.  It’s quite a special feature, I think.

These chairs were actually a garage sale purchase.  I loved the style and was hoping I could make them useful again.  They looked like classroom chairs with vinyl seats.  There was gum under the seat of one of them.  Yuck!  Thank goodness for gloves.  The seats also had fragile cardboard maker’s labels on them. They were made by Bianco Manufacturing in St. Louis, Missouri.

These chairs tested my abilities, and I had to ask my neighbor, Bob, to use his power tools to cut new wooden seats for them.  I knew I wanted to use the 20-year-old madras plaid fabric to cover the seats, so I chose red paint to go with the fabric.  They would be great accent chairs for someone with a retro or mid-century taste. 


This chair was the last and hardest to repair.  It started out ugly.  Someone loved this piece so much that they covered the seat twice and used metal rods on each side of the bottom to hold it together!  I could see that the chair started with a caned seat.  That was gone, and in its place were two layers of something else…fake leather, vinyl?  There were several holes drilled in the bottom rungs of the chair…four for the metal rod reinforcements, and several others.  With my minimal skills, I was able to repair the wood, patch the holes and make the rungs functional again without the rods.  

The wild fabric dictated the paint color.  I hope someone can love this chair as much as the previous owner did!

If you know anyone who might be interested in any of these chairs, please pass this on. I would love to continue to send checks to the restaurant fund.

One idea led to another. Fresco Furnishings has started their own fundraising drive for the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund.  You can take your gently used furniture and home-decor to Fresco on Fifth Avenue for them to sell and raise cash to support our neighbors in the restaurant industry. If you have questions or would like more information, please call them at 614-586-1963 or email them at 

Temperature Blanket…

The motivation for me to write depends on the color of the sky.   There is another blog waiting, but it’s about letting go in 2020, not the cheeriest topic.  So, I’m writing about a Temperature Blanket because it\’s very exciting!

My Google phone spies on me all of the time, listening and remembering everything I research online.  It was designed to do that, I guess.  Being a knitting/crocheting weather geek, I receive “news” on those topics daily.  For a few days in December, my phone combined the two subjects and began showing me articles on “temperature blankets.”  I scrolled past the titles guessing they were some sort of blanket that keeps you warm in cold and vice versa.  Silly me.  When I finally clicked on an article, I discovered that a temperature blanket is an afghan knitted or crocheted a row or square a day according to the temperature. What a find!  A project that combines needlework and weather observation was just what I needed to boost my winter mood.  While it’s a big, year-long project, I knew I could easily commit to crocheting one row a day.

Rather than follow a pattern (there are oodles on the web), I decided to plan my own afghan.  I think I did it backward, but I finally solidified a plan to suit me.  Because the yarn is the fun part, I started there.   The only thing I  knew at that point was that I wanted washable wool yarn, and I needed to find it in a bunch of colors.  I went to (WEBS) and, rather than wasting  hours looking on the site, I did an online chat with a representative.  After I told her what I was looking for,  she suggested several brands and styles that might work for me.   Talking with her saved me time and frustration.  I highly recommend the chat feature on their site.  Valley Yarns Superwash Wool Worsted was my choice.  With 32 shades to choose from I had no problem deciding on my color progression for the year. 

Because I love changing colors when I crochet, and because I wanted a lot of color variation in my blanket, I used small increments. I broke my plan into four-degree sections. For instance, 5 to 9 degrees is steel grey. My colors include blues for winter, greens in spring, then yellow and orange for summer. If it gets really hot, 95 or above, I’ve chosen pinks. Buying the yarn gets tricky. You don’t really know how much you need. I bought one skein of each color to cover from 20 to 54 degrees to get me through the colder days. When the temps start to rise, I’ll start buying my spring colors. I can’t wait!

The size was the most challenging aspect of my plan. I did SEVERAL test swatches before I settled on my pattern.  At first I thought I’d do corner to corner crochet, which looks like little squares.  My test swatch measured one inch per row. Oops!  At that rate my blanket would have been a whopping 365 inches or 30 feet long at the end!  Finally, I decided on half-double crochet with worsted weight yarn using a size F hook.  I’m following a pattern of one full row, one row of halves, and one row of thirds. I didn’t want to use a row for each day because I thought it would look boring, and the blanket would still be too big.  
Who knew that I could combine my interest in weather with daily crocheting? The weather geek in me has existed for a long time. Years ago, I worked in aviation education, and couldn’t get enough of the idea of flight and weather. I actually passed ground school with flying colors. That means if I want to start flight lessons, I’m set!  Joking.  Crocheting is my speed now.

Yesterday was the coldest day (24) so far this year and I was able to use Mulberry for the first time.  It’s fun for me to look at my blanket and see what the weather pattern is.  Right now, the prominent colors are navy blue and white which means that we are often at 30o to 39o…a warm winter so far.  My favorite color is periwinkle blue.  It’s for colder temps, 25o to 29o, so I keep hoping for cold to use it more often.

It’s not too late to start a blanket.  You can easily find the temperature history for January.  I also think you could adapt this idea for other projects, especially for kids.  You could color a line or shape each day to form a beautiful weather history for 2021!

A daily check of the temperature is good for everyone!


It’s been a while since I’ve written.  My motivation wanes sometimes.  Also, my computer occasionally acts up.  I’m using an ASUS laptop that we bought for Emma in high school. She carried it daily in her backpack, and really beat it up.  When ASUS acts up, the center keys don’t work.  Even if I hit them incessantly, as I do, the N, M, H, Y, and U won’t work.  But today, ASUS and I are both motivated!

We just had our first measurable snow here in Ohio, and I’m already missing the yard.  Of all the plants and trees, I miss Rugo the most.  Rugo is our rose bush.  Yes, we’ve named it.  Before you think I’ve leapt off of the deep end, please hear me out.  This is no ordinary rose bush.  Rugo has been with us for most of our 25 years of marriage.  In fact, the idea of Rugo has been with Sean and me since the beginning of our relationship.

Rugo has lived in a least three different places, in two different states.  His tale begins in Massachusetts…Cape Cod. Soon after our first “date,” Sean and I boarded an America West flight to Boston to spend time with my sister and her husband. 

While there, we spent a few days out on Cape Cod.  We had a great time, whale watching, beach combing, and biking.  Sean and I both noticed the beautiful rose bushes lining the edge of the beaches everywhere.  The roses were a vibrant pink with an intoxicating scent.

Soon after we were married, and in our first home together, we made another trip to Boston.  This time we drove in Sean’s little red Dodge Shadow.  I had done some research on the rose bush, and found it was a variety of Rosa Rugosa.  Because we both loved the plant so much and it reminded us of that special trip, we bought one at a  nursery outside Boston. 

Rugo made it to Ohio safely, and was planted in our yard in Gahanna.  He was small, but he thrived in that yard.  What a joy it was to have those beautiful roses with us all summer!  

A few years later, we purchased our current home.  Rugo was in the listing contract, because we knew he was going with us.  The gardening gods were looking down on us the day we moved!  It was December, but unseasonably warm.  We were able to dig up Rugo easily and plant him in his new home. That first spring would be the test.  Would Rugo survive the winter transplant?  Will he thrive like he did in his previous home?  The answer was a resounding, yes!  Rugo bloomed!  And, 25 years later, he’s still blooming. 

Each year, the scent of Rugo\’s blooms transports me back to Cape Cod and the happy memories we created there.  It’s not surprising, I guess.  A study by psychologist Silvia Álava called “Smells and Emotions,” showed that people remember 35% of what they smell and only 5% of what they see. Scent is registered in the brain, but it is also registered with an association to an emotion that we are feeling at the moment.

Rugo is huge-o now.  He’s taken over a large chunk of our yard.  He needs little care and grooming.  I never thought a trip souvenir could bring so many years of enjoyment.  If you’re thinking about adding a rose bush, check into a Rugosa Rose!

To read more about the senses, see:

No Phone!

Day One
:  It’s about noon on my birthday, and my phone just stopped working.  I tried to push buttons, charge it, and troubleshoot it from my computer.  Nothing is working, and I’m in a bit of a panic.  When cell phones arrived on the scene, I NEVER imagined being dependent on one.  I thought a cell phone was bad for our daughter, especially in high school.  My mantra was, “How can you concentrate on your homework, if you stop to look at your phone every few seconds?”  Things have sure changed in just a few years. It turns out that she was able to concentrate just fine, and now I’m lost without my phone.

I’m in kind of a foggy place without it.  I didn’t count calories today because my app is on my phone.  I didn’t walk today because my pedometer is on my phone.  Even though I barely know how to use Instagram, I am experiencing FOMO!  What is Roscoe the bulldog doing?  What is the temperature?  I need my weather app.  I didn’t crochet without my stitch-counting app.

Day Two:  I woke this morning realizing how ridiculous I had been yesterday. I drank my coffee in front of The Weather Channel (TWC) and felt prepared for the day.  I ate my breakfast, and opened my calorie-counting application on my laptop.  It worked fine.  Instead of walking, I rode the stationery bike because it told me how far I had ridden, and how many calories I burned.  Emma also follows Roscoe.   If he does anything spectacular, she’ll let me know. 

I made some necessary adjustments, and it’s a darn good thing I did.  Because when I described the problem to the gentleman at the phone store, he said that there was probably no hope for my broken phone.  I knew I might need a new one, so I ordered a new model just in case.  Sean took my poor perpetually black-screened phone to the store where they confirmed its demise. The new one will take two days to get here.  Arrrrrgh.

Day Three:  Today, I woke up not missing my phone.  Seriously.  Again I got my forecast from TWC, and liked having the overview of the whole country’s weather including an update on the wildfires out West and snow in the upper Midwest.  I logged my food on my laptop again.  I like doing it on a computer rather than a phone.  It’s more user-friendly, and easier to read.  I walked without my pedometer or clock.  I had to tune into my body and my bad knee to guess how long and far I’d been walking.  Rather than playing games or reading my “news” feed, I started a new crochet project using the huge stash of vintage crochet thread I have.  Emma updated me on Roscoe the bulldog’s posts. 

I am surprised at how well I’m doing without my phone.  It feels pretty good to feel some independence from it.

Day Four:  I have my new phone.  It actually feels like a nuisance…setting it all up again, especially realizing that there was no backup data from my birthday until today.  If anyone texted me with wishes, I missed them.  While I’m glad to have a phone again, I’ve made some decisions about how I’ll use it going forward.  For me, being sans phone was eye-opening.  Here’s some of what I learned about myself:

What I missed most:

Texting is by far the most valuable and used feature of my phone.  Being able to be in touch with family and friends instantaneously is precious to me.

My camera has also gotten to be a priority for me.  I’ve gotten into the habit of taking pictures often and, my phone does a good job with photos. 

I’m learning to use and like Instagram.  I can do without it, but found that I can keep up with topics I choose.  I follow crafters, organizations and people that add value to my day.  Plus, I do indulge in cuteness, like “Roscoelovescoco,” Lewis Hamilton’s bulldog!

What I can now do without or use elsewhere:

Calorie counting.  At first, I thought it was great to be able to keep track of my meals on my phone.  But when I had a phone, I started recording my meal while I was still eating with my family!  When I began using my laptop for the recording, I realized it was easier, and I didn’t feel the need to record my meals immediately, making for a better family meal experience.

I like having a pedometer,but I can survive my walks without it.  Plus, keeping track of steps doesn’t seem valuable for me.  It’s not something I want to add to my list of things I need to accomplish daily.  Recording a daily walk or workout is more important to me than the number of steps I’ve taken.  So I did put a very simple pedometer on my phone to track workouts.

My phone is a Google Pixel, so it has a built-in news feed feature.  It’s always there with just a swipe.  Previously during spare moments throughout the day, I checked the news feed.  I spent way too much time looking through titles that just didn’t interest me.  From twenty headlines, I probably chose two articles to read daily.  In the paragraph above I put news in quotes because it’s not really all news.  Google says you can customize what you receive, but it still sends you useless articles.  I kept receiving Salisbury Steak stories, even after I told the phone that I wasn’t interested in Salisbury Steak!

Without my phone, I found better things to do with my spare time.  I whipped up a crochet bookmark made from granny squares.  These squares are generally crocheted with yarn and sewn together to make afghans or blankets.  I used crochet cotton thread and enjoyed it immensely.  The result is a cute little square.  The yellow and white one is only about an inch and a half!  I’m going to have to come up with a project using mini granny squares.  By the way, I don’t have the Stitch Counter on my phone anymore. 

Weather is fine on my phone for a quick temperature check, but I will still tune it to the broader picture on The Weather Channel

I haven’t opened a gameon my phone for more than a week.  I’ve found much better things to do.

I’m not sure how I ended up with so many games and apps on my phone.  I think the novelty of it lured me in.  We think we’ve opened ourselves up to the world because we can access anything with our phones.  The truth is that I turned inward with my phone.  Most of my apps kept my nose down in the phone, rather than being present in the world around me.  Other applications actually made tasks more complicated for me and added a level of unwanted stress.  I’m not thrilled that I had to buy a new phone, but I am thankful for the opportunity to rethink my phone use, and make some welcome changes!


This is the story of Snakey, The Catnip Snake.  If you’ve read other posts, you know I crochet (and knit) and I garden.  My cats love catnip, so I grow it to make catnip toys for them.  Anyone who does crafts, bakes or makes things, will be able to relate to the journey I had to take to finally come up with Snakey. 

First, I tried an ornament for Christmas. I obviously didn’t have the right color yarn, but it was a flop regardless of the color.  Next I tried a bird.  My daughter says it’s a seal because it obviously doesn’t look like a bird.  While it’s filled with catnip, Ginny and Oliver almost never play with it. 

Then came the mice.  Felting yarn was all of the rage when I knitted these two mice.  They looked too bulky, and they were too complicated to make. 

Making prototypes always helps me focus in on a project.  The toy needed to be a simple crochet pattern in a shape the cats would like.  There was a stuffed snake in their overly-filled toy basket.  That seemed like the perfect shape for the cats.

I found a snake pattern by Jackie at Amidorable Crochet.  Check out her blog for really cute crochet patterns.  There were some modifications to Jackie’s pattern.  I used sock yarn, made the snake smaller, embroidered the eyes and stuffed it with lots of homegrown catnip.  The first “Snakey” (because we use baby talk and add “Ys” when conversing with our pets) was a huge hit with the cats.

After about four years, the original Snakey is still in the toy basket.  As you can see, the head is separated from the body, and there is no catnip left.  Oliver killed the poor thing.  It was the Snakey I made with an acrylic yarn.  The wool blend sock yarn I use now holds up much better.

Our cats have another beloved Snakey, and I’ve made several as gifts.  I’m writing about Snakey in celebration of his return to Etsy.  I stopped selling on Etsy about three years ago when I took a full-time retail job.  Check out his listing at CiasGarden.

Please Take a Seat…

There are 13 chairs in my garage. The space accommodates our two cars, but doubles as a rescue shelter for chairs. I take in unwanted, discarded chairs. I also buy chairs at garage sales.

It started several years ago when I brought a chair home from Ohio State. The building I worked in was being demolished, and when the area was cleared, a chair was left. It was a really cool fifties-looking wooden lab chair. I refinished it with some swimming-pool blue paint and sold it at a garage sale. I realized quickly that I can acquire chairs cheaply or for free, they provide an interesting moment in design time, and they aren’t a huge project to refinish. So, I have thirteen chairs in my garage waiting for attention. My husband supports my habit, but isn’t really thrilled when the stock builds up like this.

Covid 19 has changed almost everything. I used to work full time, now I don’t. Our family loved to eat out, now I cook a whole lot or we get take-out. We used to travel quite a bit, but now we stay home. My story is no different than so many people adjusting to different lives. However, for some, the adjustments come with hardship. I’m thinking about the restaurant industry workers. We used to eat out about twice a week, and when I hear how food service employees are without their normal income, it breaks my heart.

Recently I subscribed to Columbus Navigator. One of the first stories I read was how the Ohio Restaurant Association has created a fund to help workers. The Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund was established by the Ohio Restaurant Association Education Foundation to help food service employees impacted by Covid 19. The goal is to reach $30,000 in donations by the end of September.

As I was reading the article, I was thinking about idle, empty chairs at restaurants and bars, and the light bulb went on!

I have a garage filled with empty, idle chairs.

What if I make them useful again?

And what if I could use the chairs to make some money to donate to the restaurant relief fund? It seems like a winning proposition all of the way around. I\’m not working, so I need a project to feel useful. I can make a few dollars to help people I care about. Hopefully, I can make other people aware of the fund so they can donate. And last, but certainly, not least, I\’ll see a smile on my husband\’s face each time a chair leaves the garage!

So, Please Take a Seat…As I refinish chairs, I will be listing them on Etsy. If a chair sells, I will donate half of the purchase price to the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. The light blue chair pictured is listed now. Shop CiasGarden at Etsy:

If you would like to donate to the Ohio Restaurant Employee Relief Fund, go to: