Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Forward and Still Looking Up...

In the past week I have heard so many say how they are glad 2012 is over and hopefully 2013 will be better.

Like the New Year's resolutions we make this time of year, I think we all say something like that every year too, don't we?

With so much sadness in our own circle of family and friends and the nation's sorrow over the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings and the two fireman who lost their lives in the ambush in Webster, New York, it is the hope in each of us that helps us look forward to a new beginning in a new year.

I have my hope in the Lord and so I can look forward to a new year and all that HE has for me. If I keep my eyes looking up toward heaven (striving to live a holy, obedient life) I know that I am on the right path.

Sadly, today I am closing The Button Lady Shop on Etsy, that was opened in October 2010. I am unable to do the crafting and sewing anymore to make my vintage button items. If you own one of my items, it is now a one of a kind collectors piece!

NaNa's Things on Etsy just celebrated a one year anniversary in October and is still going and growing into 2013.
I am working my way back up to 300 items and so I have been thrifting and hunting for great stuff to list. I love all kinds of vintage things so there will be a nice variety, from wicker doll chairs to jewelry to kitchen items, home decor and baskets. You can also find some of my vintage button items there.

I am thankful for the past year, with all it's triumphs and woes and look forward to what is in store for 2013.

Hey, at least 2012 ended with a white Christmas and lots of snow in Upstate New York.... finally!!

That's my light up snowman buried in the snow!


AnnMarie :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Good Life

This is my daughters' Grandpa (my former father-in-law), Itch, or Grandpa Itch as his many grand and great-grandchildren call him. He lived to the grand old age of 89 and passed from this world Sunday night December 16th, just 6 months short of his 90th birthday.

The nickname Itch actually came from a dog he had named Itch...not sure how that all played out but it stuck and that is how I have known him for the past 35 years.
His lovely wife Peg and I share the same birthday and I have always loved that special bond we have.  

He lived a good life. He touched many people with his constant smile and way of making you feel welcome. When the cancer was found he chose not to have chemotherapy and to go into hospice at home. With seven sons and one daughter, almost all with a spouse and a couple kids, his family is huge and he was the center of it. They were all drawn back home to be with him at this time in his life and they all wanted to be there.

My daughters Candice and Jena have had a wonderful example of a Grandpa in their lives and I am so thankful for that. Although their children, Cassidy, 7 and Chloe, 16 months, may not remember Great-Grandpa Itch, he was always at their birthday parties, having traveled almost 2 hours to be there.

His children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren traveled from Kentucky and Macedon and Palmyra and other towns in NY to be there with him and their Mom/Grandma these past couple weeks. The house was full all the time. They cooked and there was lots of food dropped off by family and friends. They kept busy installing a new shower in the bathroom to make it easier for him to get in and out of. They stayed as long as needed and now they will stay a little longer to say their goodbyes.

He was a tough old bird. His last rites were read to him almost two weeks ago in the hospital and he held on, not ready to leave yet, as he would say, some thinking he wanted to see as much of his family again before he left this earth.

I think he got his wish.

Rest in peace, Itch. We will miss you.



Monday, December 10, 2012

Show Your Love NOW!

A local radio station that I have been listening too lately (because they play non-stop oldies Christmas songs!), has added a nice new twist to their announcements in between songs.

Through well written and softly spoken 10 second spots they suggest that we all show our love for one another more than ever. After the year this country has had and the trials so many have faced, we all could use an extra hug, a genuine smile from a stranger, encouraging words.

A devotion that I read daily, The Word for You Today, also expressed this need and used scripture to back it up.
" Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning" 2 John 1:6 NLT

There are so many ways to love one another. The days I remember to ask the Lord to put His light in my eyes and His words in my mouth and throw out all the yuck and nasty words and thoughts as far as the east is from the west, it is amazing the kind of day I have. Store clerks are friendlier, people smile at you, favor is shown in so many different ways throughout the day. I also tend to be more loving and show more grace to strangers and drivers and people with their carts in my way!

As Christians we are COMMANDED to love one another. You don't have to necessarily know someone or even like them but you are to love them as Christ loves you. That's hard!!
The devotion puts is so well that I want to share it with you .....
"Each morning pray:
 "Lord, whether or not I get anything else done,
 help me to spend this day loving You and loving others,
 because that's what Your Word says life is all about."
If you do that, you'll treat those around you more graciously -
and people will notice it.
You'll start winning in areas where you've lost.
The more time you give to someone, the more you reveal their importance to you.
It's not enough to tell them they're important, you must prove it by investing in them.
The best way to spell love is T-I-M-E.
Love is not what you think or feel about others; no, it's how much you give of yourself
to them. Love concentrates so intently on another that it forgets itself.
This kind of attention says,
"I value you enough to give you my most precious asset - my time."
Why is now the best time to express your love?
Because you don't know how long you'll have the opportunity to do so.
Circumstances change, people die, children grow up.
The truth is, you've no guarantee of tomorrow.
If you want to express your love you'd better do it now.
So, who do you need to start spending time with?
 What do you need to cut out of your schedule to make that possible?
The best use of life is love,
the best expression of love is time,
and the best time to love is now."
I've got alot of work to do!!! Do you?
AnnMarie :)


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

A Nostalgic Christmas

It was crazy warm in the northeast today....70 degrees! I was driving around with my window down listening to Christmas music on the radio. We had just put our tree up. I was out buying the last of the Christmas gifts. What is wrong with this picture? I know to those of you that live in the south there is nothing wrong with this picture. But in the northeast the cold and wind and snow just add to the ambiance and "feeling" of Christmas in the air. It better get cold again soon!

I have gotten nostalgic as Christmas nears this year. Maybe it is all the fabulous vintage holiday stuff I have been finding to sell in my NaNa's Things shop on Etsy. Whatever the reason, I wanted a Christmas with things to remind me of my past Christmas'.

These two light up blow mold Santas are from the late 1960's  - early 1970's
A few years ago I gave in and we bought a pre-lit faux tree. My husband was never one to go out in the woods and saw one down, so after many years of doing that I found a really nice fake tree all pre-lit and perfect size for in front of our pocket doors in the living room.

I am so sick of that tree!

It is a pretty tree.....I am posting it so you can see what we had to what we have now!
It looks the same EVERY YEAR!

This year I was not at all into decorating for the holidays with the same old tree and the same old wreaths and the same old, same old. I have ALOT of Christmas decorations because I tend to use them forever and then get sick of them and then NOT get rid of them.

I wanted something different and nostalgic and vintage and reminding me of my childhood.

I really, really wanted a live tree again.  After saying no way for years my husband agreed to go look at pre-cut ones....he drew the line at cutting one down. We have many tree farms near where we live so we decided to just go driving by and see what they had for pre-cuts. The first place we stopped at had the most fabulous tree I have seen. It was 9 ft. tall and 5 ft. wide at the bottom. I brought my tape measure because we do have restrictions on size for our small living room. No way was 5 feet wide on the bottom going to fit anywhere. But I had to have it so we got it and we made a way by moving furniture out and around....

That is a handpainted wooden Santa crouching behind the tree with his bag of toys.

From skinny tree to fat tree. It is a Turkish Fir. I love it! See that shimmer on it? That is tinsel! Something I have not used since childhood and I thought I would try it again. It makes the tree sparkle. Now I've got to find my angel for the top and the tree is done! Just my vintage ornaments some lights and some tinsel.

I wanted something homey and inviting for my front door. So when I saw the natural pine roping garland for sale at Wegmans (a grocery store no less) I grabbed it. It reminded me of how that is all I used to buy and decorate with in my farmhouse in Williamson. I had been wanting to put garland around the front door for years and never did...this was the year.

I found a really pretty plaque at JoAnn Fabrics that I had to have, not knowing what I would do with it. When I saw the huge natural fir wreath at the tree farm, I knew what I would do. I would have an all natural woodsy front door!

I have a lot more decorating to do as it usually takes me 2 weeks to do it all. Although I am scaling down this year and trying to keep things simple with a nostalgic feeling throughout the house. I even found a yule log at a local church bazaar handmade by the youth group. Adds just the right old tyme feeling...
Have you started decorating yet?
AnnMarie :)


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Great Pumpkin Cake

I know Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over and EVERYONE  is thinking Christmas, but it is still technically Fall till December 21st so I am posting about my Thanksgiving Pumpkin cake that you can make any time of year.
A dear friend showed me a picture of this cake from a gourmet magazine and I thought I could replicate it without all the fancy ingredients and directions.....I "thought"!
It came out pretty good though so I am sharing it with you. I brought it to that friends house for Thanksgiving and there were oohs and aahs all around!
The recipes for the cake, filling and frosting follow the how-to directions.
The idea is to put two bundt cakes together on top of each other to form a pumpkin shape, with a filling in the middle. If you have one of those bundt pans (like from Pampered Chef) that has the grooves in it, that's perfect! Only thing I found out was that using a buttercream frosting kinda covered up the was too thick! Next time, if there is one, I would use an orange tinted glaze instead.
I decided that two whole cake recipes would be too thick of a cake and one cake would not be thick enough (you can use one cake but you would have to bake one half at a time to get the two rounded, grooved halves to make a pumpkin shape).
I made batter for two cakes, separately, and filled the pan a little more than half each and baked them one at at time. I put the leftover batter from each cake in an 8" cake pan and had an extra cake for another time.
I trimmed the flat side of one cake evenly so that the top would fit on. I spread the pumpkin cream cheese filling on the bottom half and then put the top half on, making sure I lined up the groove marks from top to bottom as good as I could!
I smoothed the filling all the way around to make an even frosting field.
Next came making the frosting the orange of a pumpkin! I used my daughters professional cake decorating colors. I was adding and experimenting with yellow, red and bronze to get just the right color....until she told me that too much colorant can make the frosting greasy and unspreadable. I stopped at a light orange hue.

I had saved a pumpkin stem from a real pumpkin but wasn't sure how I was going to put it on with the hole in the middle of the cake. Remember the extra batter made into an extra cake? I took a piece of that and stuffed the hole with it, frosted over it and stuck the stem on. Then I took the metal spatula and formed grooves into the frosting (actually that is the technique the gourmet cake recipe used).


Jimbo's Chocolate Cake
1 box Duncan Hines chocolate fudge cake mix
4 large eggs
1 box instant (3.5 oz.) chocolate pudding mix
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup water
1 cup sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients except the chocolate chips by hand till moistened, then mix in an electric mixer
3 minutes. Pour into greased bundt pan. Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips over the batter and press in.
Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.
Pumpkin Cream Filling
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
In a bowl whisk together ingredients till thickened. Spread on bottom layer of cake.
Buttercream Frosting
3 cups confectioners sugar
1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) butter, softened
 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1-2 tablespoons milk
Cream butter and sugar in mixer. Add vanilla. Add milk as needed for consistency.
If you decide to try this at home, please let me know your technique!
It really tastes fantastic and isn't that what really matters?
AnnMarie :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

NaNa's Day Out With the Girl's

I wanted to have a girl's day out with my daughters and granddaughters to start the holiday season off so I invited them all to go with me to the George Eastman House to see the Gingerbread House display, the Festival of Trees display and the Wreath display.

The George Eastman House on East Avenue in the city of Rochester, New York is a museum formerly owned by George Eastman, founder of Eastman Kodak Co. You may recognize the name! The picture above is of the back of the house where the gardens are.....we need to go back in the summer to see it in all it's glory!

We went for the seasonal displays but as an extra treat we got to tour the inside of this gorgeous mansion.

The Gingerbread houses were our first stop. They are made by local businesses, school classes and organizations. You may see a sign-up sheet and pen by some of them....that is so you can bid on them and take them home at the end of the display. The bids start at $25.

Here are some of the most interesting ones.....
It really is all edible!
the Taj Mahal?

It says New York State Tropper
Santa on the wheatie roof with his flying pig-deer!

The tree is all gingerbread too!

 Next were the trees....not as impressive as the gingerbread houses and we were expecting full size trees! This one is cool made of old Kodak film canisters....

And this one reminded me of Christmas when I was a kid in the 60's....

I love making wreaths so the wreath display gave me some ideas! This one I won't try to duplicate....I just thought it was really unique made from old film negatives and spools......

This one I may copy!

Love the woodland look

Rochester is home to many attractions, museums and cultural neighborhoods that I have come to take for granted having lived here all my life, so it was so nice to go visit one of them just before the holidays. And what better bunch of girls to go with than these?
AnnMarie aka NaNa :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Fragrance

Last night I attended a fun ladies' night out at my church, Living Word Assembly of God in Ontario, New York.

I am on the Woven Hearts Ladies' Ministry of the church so my perspective on these events usually is what our decorating theme is, what we all are baking and how late are we going to be there cleaning up?! Hopefully I get to watch the event and be blessed by it...... and if I can get a good blog post out of it, that is a bonus!

I brought my camera to take pictures in anticipation of maybe writing about it for my blog today (I really had no ideas for a post for this week!) but didn't remember to take pictures till the very end. I got home thinking I missed that opportunity until I read one of my devotions before bed.

The Woven Hearts Ladies' Ministry committee and Sue (in blue) How did that sign get there?!

It was about being a fragrance of God's love to the world (1 John 4:7-11). When we embrace others and show them a little kindness we are giving them a fragrance of what God's love is all about which may open the door for God to open their heart to trust Him. To be a fragrance for the Lord we must have a close relationship with Him by obeying his word and being open to His will for our life.....which is really about doing our best to live a holy life before Him.

Our guest speaker last night was Sue Duffield who is a dear friend to the Ladies' Ministry, having brought her infectious, funny programs many times. This time it was Sweet and Salty Sisterhood. We served sweet and salty desserts....yum!

In one of the more serious moments of the night she described how in her mother's last days in a nursing home she and her brother got a call that there was a smell in her mother's room. Sue had described earlier how one of her mother's passions was NOT being stinky....herself or anyone or anything! Sue and her brother went to the room and checked everywhere for a candle or room fragrance or anything that would be scenting the room but found nothing. When they asked their mother where the smell was coming from she just laid there in her bed quiet. The second time they were called to the room their mother was laying in bed repeating "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus....." When they asked her about the smell she told them not to bother her!

It turns out the fragrance, which was lavender, was coming from her mother! The funeral director that picked her body up when she passed commented on the fragrance coming from her deceased body. There was no medical or scientific explanation for the lavender smell that came from Sue's mother during her last days and even after her death. The Lord had blessed her desire not to be stinky by giving her a REAL fragrance to be smelled by others for her years of love and devotion to Him.

That really impressed me and so you can imagine my surprise when I opened the Our Daily Bread last night to read the days devotion and it was on that same subject!

It wasn't until this morning when I went to look for it that I realized I had read the wrong day..... November 9th instead of November 5th......

Thank you Lord for putting my blog post together for me!

AnnMarie :)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Autumn Traditions

I am always sad when October comes to an is by far my favorite month of the year.

The weather changes to colder, gardens fade and are put to bed, porch furniture is put away, the trees are ugly and bare.

There are things I feel I must do every October to take full advantage of all it's glory.

I must go to as many farm markets as possible to get fresh apples, butternut squash and gourds. This year my husband and I went on a tour of many different farm markets along the lakeshore, tasting apples and taking in the scenery. We even visited Chimney Bluffs on Lake Ontario.

I must get my pumpkin for a dollar on the flatbed truck a few miles away.

I must bake Pumpkin Cookies. My granddaughter Cassidy comes over and decorates them every year.....

And my son Michael eats them!
I must make homemade pumpkin bread, apple crisp and applesauce.
I must go to  Schutt's Apple Mill and farm market in Webster for the best cider and donuts around.
This year I added some new must's that I wanted to make sure I accomplished.
For the past 16 years I have wanted a row of different colored mums in my garden to remind me of my old farmhouse.
I did it this year!
I have always wanted to make a pumpkin pie out of a fresh pumpkin. I did it and you can see the tutorial for it here.

And finally, I have always wanted a scarecrow in my garden. Not those kitschy ones from the craft shows or the dollar store....a real respectable, looks like a homemade, scarecrow. I found one at a garage sale. Can't believe this woman was selling him but she was moving and couldn't take him along. He has a wool shirt, a silk tie, real jeans and a real straw hat. Just what I was looking if I could only find the faux crow I had to put on his shoulder!
I haven't carved a pumpkin in years but my daughter and granddaughter have and they carved the ones at the beginning of this post. Can you tell what they are?
The first one is an owl and the second one is a hamster. My daughter is into owls right now and my granddaugter has a real hamster at home. Cute!
AnnMarie :)


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

FRESH Pumpkin Pie Recipe....and a few bonuses!

One of my favorite things to do in Autumn is to go to all the local farm markets in my area to see what they've got for Fall. I live in apple country so there is always an abundance of fresh, just picked from the orchard apples to munch on. I love the displays of mums and crates of pumpkins and gourds.

There is always a crate of pie pumpkins and seeing them always pricks at my bakers' heart to try and make a pie out of one......kinda going back to the country basics and using what is on the land as opposed to what is in the can.

The pie pumpkins are usually small and so perfect like this one! So, since I was at the farm market buying my sixth mum to plant (to fulfill something else I have been wanting to do which is to have a row of all different mums in my garden)  I went for it. I brought it home and went online for directions and a recipe. Following is my journey of a new baking adventure!
Here is the full recipe so that you know ahead what you need to start:
Fresh Pumpkin Pie (courtesy of
1 medium pie pumpkin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 recipe pastry for 9 inch single crust pie
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup honey, warmed slightly
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
The first thing you have to do is cut into this perfect little pumpkin and bake it just like any other squash. Cut it in half and remove the seeds with a spoon. See that mushy pile of pulp and seeds? Do not throw it away! We will use them later.
Lightly oil the cut surface and place cut side down on a cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees F until the flesh is tender when poked (up to an hour). Cool until warm. It comes out looking like this....
Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel and puree it in a food processor or mash it by hand. You will need 2 cups for the pie. 
To the pumpkin puree add the spices and salt. Beat in the eggs, honey, milk and cream. Pour the filling into an un-baked pie shell.
Bake at 400 degrees F for 50 - 55 minutes (it took mine 75 minutes!) or until knife inserted comes out clean.

The color and texture are totally different from a pie made from canned pumpkin. With a mound of whipped cream on top, my son and husband thought it was better tasting!

Bonus #1:
Now comes the fun part! Get that mushy pile of pumpkin pulp and seeds and start picking the seeds out and then rinse them till all the pulp is off.
Lightly spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and spread the seeds out. Sprinkle salt over all to your taste.
Roast in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and you have a really good, crunchy snack!
Bonus #2:
I originally thought I would make two pumpkin pies but it turned out I didn't have enough ingredients. So....since I had another pie crust and apples in the fridge, I decided to make the only apple pie recipe I will ever use. The ingredients are all things you normally have on hand and that is one of the reasons I love it.
It is called Genesee Valley Apple Crumb Pie and is from the Junior League of Rochester's Applehood and Motherpie cookbook. It is SO good!

Happy baking!
........... and eating!
AnnMarie :)