Costume Success, Rosie, and a Crockpot Macaroni & Cheese Recipe

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So, the “Max” costume was a success! There were a few things, technically, that I was worried about and the crown I made was too small but the knit one I bought fit. He wasn’t interested in the crown anyway, so it was all fine.

His uncle took the photo above, which I was happy about because I couldn’t get him to stay still long enough to get a photo. He was too busy running around growling and showing his threatening claws and was just totally absorbed in being “King of the Wild Things.” This Grandma’s heart was happy!

We had a great weekend with the kids. The 4-hour drive was such a relief. I hope it stays a relief when our memories of a 13-hour drive fade.

The kids had a big, busy weekend at their church. If I haven’t told you, both of my kids started a church together along with some friends and others with like-minded hearts. So, my daughter is the worship leader, her husband is the pastor, my son is the assistant pastor and leader of the media-ops team, and his wife is over the children’s ministry. So, every Sunday, they are ALL busy!

We went up there to attend the big Sunday and to help if we could. So, we babysat and fed them. I cooked chili Saturday night after they had a day of setting up (they meet in a school so they have to set up and break down each week). Then I did a crockpot, cook ahead meal for Sunday after church.

As a mom, it still gives me pleasure to feed them and know that they are getting enough sleep, haha! As a kid, even though I didn’t get them very often, I remember Sunday-after-church- lunches lovingly made by my “adopted” grandmother, Rosie. Going to her house after church and eating what she cooked are some of my very best memories!  I want to give my Grandboys a similar experience.

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This is Rosie and Tommy in their kitchen where many a fine Sunday dinners were eaten. 

I want to tell you a Rosie story. Rosie was the mother of my sister’s husband. Even though she wasn’t technically my grandmother, but rather the grandmother of my nephews, she drew me in and loved me. I remember her as a big, jolly woman. I heard stories that she could snap on you and put you in your place but she never turned that on me. She was married to Tommy but their marriage was not the first one for either of them. So, they created a family with her kids, his kids and then they had a couple of their own. The age span of the kids was pretty big. Rosie was a mother for a long time and she had it down! On Sundays after church, she would fry chicken, make potato salad and biscuits. She’d have a pot of some kind of bean, she’d open a can of corn and there was always a cake and a pie on the Hoosier (I just learned today that’s what the cabinet is called, haha!)

I remember fighting with my nephews over who would get to sit on the red metal stepstool at the table. And I also remember being so hungry and so annoying and running in and out of the back door letting the flies into the kitchen just to see how much longer till lunch was ready. I would watch as she would put the chicken on a platter and carefully sculpt the potato salad into a lovely golden mound onto another platter and sprinkle it with paprika. My nephew thought it was cinnamon! Then she would pile the biscuits on a plate and spoon the can of corn into a bowl.

I remember watching the people start crowding into the tiny mill house. You never knew who would show up. I never really knew all of my brother-in-law’s siblings but I could tell they were Rosie’s children, they all sort of looked like her in the eyes.

The more people who crammed into the house, the hungrier I got and the more worried I became thinking that there wouldn’t be enough food. And I just had to have some potato salad! I just knew that ONE can of corn wasn’t going to feed the multitudes.

Tommy would say grace over the food and we’d all dig in. And it never failed, NEVER, that everyone ate as much as they wanted and she never ran out of food. NEVER! It really was like Jesus and the loaves and fishes. It had to be a miracle that she could feed a crowd of hungry adults and scores of children on one frying chicken and a can of corn.

I sure did love and admire Rosie. I would like to share the same kind of love and food with my family that she did with hers.

Maybe a little of that happened this weekend.

Let me share what I made with you because everyone really enjoyed it and maybe you can use it:  For Sunday lunch I wanted to make The Pioneer Woman’s Pot Luck Meatballs, but when I got there and saw the time constraint, I just bought some frozen Swedish Meatballs and made the PW’s gravy. I put the meatballs in the crockpot, quickly made the gravy and moved on. It’s a good, quick gravy recipe.

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I also made The Pioneer Woman’s Layered Salad. Delish!!

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Green beans and rolls.

I also made my sister-in-law’s crockpot Macaroni and Cheese: Here’s the recipe, it’s one of the best mac and cheese recipes!

CrockPot Macaroni & Cheese

Ingredients:

8oz. macaroni, cooked according to package

3c. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

2 eggs

1 large can evaporated milk

1 1/2 c. regular whole milk

1 stick of butter, melted

Directions: Cook macaroni and drain. Put macaroni in the slow cooker that has been sprayed with PAM. Add cheese. Add melted butter. Beat eggs with both milks and add to macaroni mixture. Stir all together well and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

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We also had Blueberry Delight for dessert.

Everyone ate as much as they wanted. And there was enough.

Peace,

Jill

 

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Making, Acting, Sendak & A “Where The Wild Things Are” Costume

We have been moving for 8 months now. From the time Husband applied for a new position to actually being somewhat settled in has been about 8 months. That’s almost as long as it takes to conceive and birth a baby! And that’s what it feels like, haha!

In that time and longer, as I had my mind on decluttering, I have put off my creative projects. Oh, I did write and vlog, but hands-on, elbow deep in clay or fabric or paint had to be put on the back burner. So, now, happily, I can get into some projects.

I’ve sort of got my office/studio/study/junkroom set up and I have been making and making!

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Being creative has always been therapy for me. As a kid, I would make up stories and put on skits for family and friends mostly to purge my frustration with my home life. A counselor once told me that I should be proud to have found a healthy way to deal with my situation. As I got older, I was the cartoonist for my Jr. High newspaper and also in Jr. High I entered a talent contest and wrote and performed a silent Charlie Chaplin skit complete with a whipped cream pie fight!

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Through my teenage years and into adulthood I found I loved improv and would eventually teach classes. I performed in community theatre and even dabbled in stand-up comedy. I was dubbed “The Funniest Woman In Town” by a theatre owner at one point. Haha! That’s a joke in itself.

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(This was a community theatre production of the female version of “The Odd Couple.” I played “Florence” the hypochondriac, obsessive-compulsive Felix character. I’m falling to pieces in this scene and they’re having to carry me to the sofa, haha!) 

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(This was from a newspaper article about an improv class I taught to college students)

So, naturally I LOVE Halloween. Not because of the spooky, occultish stuff, but because we get to dress up and pretend! Halloween was the “high holy day” for me and my costume-loving-dress-up-and-pretend friends.

Grandboy #1 is really into “Where The Wild Things Are” and he’s really connected to the character, Max. I am so excited because I LOVE Sendak. In fact, I met him once and he signed my “Where The Wild Things Are” book!

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I asked my daughter if I could make him a costume. And being a mom of an infant and a 2-year-old, she said, “YES!”

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So, I made him one.

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I used this pattern as the basis. I used the fox because of the ears.

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I adjusted a few things for his size and to make it more accurate to the character. I made the legs appear longer by raising the crotch for one thing. And I used velcro as the closure instead of a zipper because I thought it would get caught up in the fur and get stuck. I also wanted him to be able to get in and out of it by himself so he wouldn’t be begging Mom every 5 minutes to zip him up. I redesigned the ears and tail to look like Max’s.

Initially, I wasn’t going to do anything about hands and feet. I was just going to cut a ragged hem to give the appearance of claws on the hands and feet. But when my daughter said he was very focused on the claws, I decided to adapt some gloves and buy some slippers with claws.

I used foam for claws and glued them to the gloves. They are probably going to be too big but I couldn’t find smaller gloves. I also bought the little knit crown but I’m not sure if it’s going to fit. So, I made one out of foam and trimmed it in fur that matches the tail in case G is that interested in accuracy. He might be!

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And….I also made the boys treat bags. They’re just easy peasy rag bags. Frayed seams on the outside to make them look raggedy.

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So, I’m off to the see them all. I can do that now since I’m only 4 hours away! What a joy! I’ll let you know if G likes his costume.

Peace,

Jill

Minimalist? Haha!

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This is a still shot from a video of Husband and me closing the door on our home of 22 years. 

If you’ve followed me, you know that I had moved toward a more minimalist lifestyle. At least moved toward thinking minimally. I blogged about it. I came up with a decluttering strategy. I worked for about a year (or more) to minimalize our home. You can read about it in my earlier blogs. I even called my blog “Minimalist Grandma” for a while to chronicle my journey into minimalism.

Then the move came.

Let me say up front that I am SO glad that I took the time to declutter and minimalize. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to move the contents of a house that we lived in for 22 years across the country.

It made the move easier because I did not have to make any decisions about what to keep and what to get rid of at the time of packing and the move. I knew that everything in the house was going with us.

 

However…..when the movers came and boxed up – what I considered our bare necessities – it was shocking! We had SO much stuff!! I was SO surprised that we still had so much stuff, crap, whatever you want to call it.

I laughed at myself for thinking I was anywhere near a minimalist.

It was really embarrassing to think that it took 3 companies to move our belongings across the country. 3 companies! The packers, the movers and then the specialty company to come pack up our tv and my large mirror. 3 companies.

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The packers and movers even acted like they had never seen so much stuff in their lives. But then, maybe they just hate their jobs, haha!

We had an interim period of about a month where the company stored our stuff and we stayed with our kids until we found and closed on a house.

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Now, this house is much larger than our old house and so when our stuff got inside, it didn’t seem like much. And it only took me a few days to unpack and a week or so to get everything in its general place. (You know it takes years to really settle in) So, I took that as a sign that my minimalistic effort had some benefit.

But to be honest, I still really can’t believe that I still have SO MUCH STUFF! If you knew how many trips to Goodwill and how many bags of trash and how much stuff I gave away, you’d understand. And even while unpacking here, I had a bag for trash and I’ve taken several trips to Goodwill. I’m still decluttering!

Husband hates it when I say this, because we are still recovering from the move, but I am thinking ahead to when we move from this house to the house we will retire in and thinking about what to get rid of. I don’t want to move so much stuff ever again!

I’m glad we’re finally here. I’m glad that everything went relatively smoothly with only a few bumps along the way. I’m thankful for my stuff, too.

But let me give you some advice…declutter now!

Peace,

Jill

 

 

Reinvention

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New state. New house. New life. New blog site name.

So, we made the big move to Texas! Husband got a promotion in a new department based in Texas, 4 hours from our kids and grandkids.

I am no longer distance grandparenting! At least, not as much as I was. I mean 4 hours seems almost like living down the street compared to 13 hours.

With the move comes a new town to explore, a new house to decorate, a new lifestyle to create and new everything! I’m still interested in minimalism and I still limit what I bring into the house, I consider how much waste I create and I still want to focus on the more important things. However, I felt the need to change the focus of my blog from minimalism, to well, just living. So, I renamed my blog to reflect that. It’s just me. No particular topic. I’d just like to share what’s going on, my thoughts and well, just life.

I’m going to delete the minimalist grandma facebook and instagram and just consolidate and put everything under my name.

But because I feel that all the minimalizing and the recording of that experience was so important to me and possibly to others, I’m going to leave it all on here and let it sit and stew. Then whoever wants to can go back and reheat and eat whatever they want to.

Now that I’m moved in and becoming settled, I hope to be more consistent in my blogging and posting. I really love instagram and I’m losing interest in facebook, but there are a LOT of people connections on there. So, I’ll keep it going – minimally. If you want more pictures, check out my instagram – jilllib

I am not posting as much on youtube. That was tons of fun and perfect for the recording The Move and to keep me busy and distracted during the stress. But, if you want to check it out, you can. Just search for Jill Libramento

So, the story continues here. I’d love for you to come along.

Peace,

Jill

 

Creative Outlets

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I find that whenever I go through something difficult my creative senses are heightened. After my sister died, I wrote probably the best play that I’ve ever written. After my best friend died of breast cancer, I wrote a book. After my father died, I wrote another book. After I went through the year of death when many more people in my life died, I minimalized my life and started this blog.

Now, with this recent major life change, this move to Houston, I am exploring yet another creative outlet – a YouTube channel where I make daily (or almost daily) vlogs about this experience.

So, I’ve been neglecting this blog and that makes me sad. This blog to me is like a cozy, cabin where I can hang out, think, dream and occasionally

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run into some kindly neighbors with kindred spirits. We give each other space to create and process, but it’s nice to say “Howdy” now and then.

I feel like a mad artist at the moment, my attention is drawn to any shiny thing, I’m scattered, I’m smothered, I’m covered like Waffle House hashbrowns. But bear with me as I bounce around, flitting here and there.

If you’re inclined, you can stop by my YouTube channel, just click on the YouTube icon to the right under my Social sidebar or search for Jill Libramento on YouTube. It’s a different vibe. It’s more frenetic. Maybe not your cup of tea.

I just wanted you to know, dear readers, that I didn’t fall off the edge of the world, I’m just exploring.

Peace,

Jill

When You Ask A Question, Do You Really Want An Answer?

A couple of posts ago I asked, “To move or not to move? That is always the question.”  Well, I got my answer: looks like we’re moving. Where? To Texas, but not in the same place as my kids and grandkids. We’ll be about 4 hours away, and that’s better than 12!

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My answer came in the form of a promotion for my husband. It’s really great! I’m so excited for him – and me.

It’s really one of those God-orchestrated things where you can’t believe how it all works out so nicely. Not to say that there won’t be challenges and difficulties, but you can’t doubt the rightness of it.

All my minimizing, weeding out, and decluttering is so worth it right now! There are things here and there that I’m getting rid of but for the most part, I can say, “This is what is going with us.” And, it’s not much.

I feel like the past two years has been setting me up for this move…

but…

there are still emotions. The untangling of my heart from this place, loosening of my fingers from around memories.

Also, holding my breath to see if my friendships can stand the test of distance. Fearing they won’t, praying that they will.

Change. Yuk!

Adventure. Yay!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that conflicting emotions that battle inside of me won’t kill me and after the dust has settled I usually find that they can live together and both be right at the same time.

On a side note: I’m thinking about starting a vlog in conjunction with this blog. Would you like to see me and hear me and let me show you where I’m going? Let me know!

Thanks for being patient with me dear reader!

Peace,

Jill

Natural Light, Fika & the #weekoflagom

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So, I’m still torturing all my Instagram followers with #weekoflagom. And again, I’m not really sorry because I’m sure there are some kindred spirits out there!

There are 2 things that I naturally do which I have found to be a Swedish characteristic and practice. One is a love of natural light and the other is the midmorning and/or afternoon snack.

I’ll confess to you that I really don’t care for the winter. Even though my heritage is Scottish and from what I understand it’s really rainy and cloudy there and one would think that cloudiness wouldn’t be a problem for me, I am actually really affected by lack of sunlight. It makes me depressed and it’s hard to get started when there’s a cloudy day which makes it feel like the morning all day.

So, when you come to my house, you’ll find that if I have curtains at all, they are thrown open all day. My walls are painted light colors in an effort to brighten up my house. And according to the book, the Swedes are all about natural light.

The second thing I have in common with the Swedes is the need for a snack or fika. Fika is actually, “taking a break for coffee and enjoying a small treat.” And most importantly, “It’s a moment to relax and “umgas” – hang out together and catch up with family and friends.” All you need is a snack (usually a cinnamon roll), a hot drink (usually coffee) and take some time to stop, relax and enjoy the small moments in life. What a wonderful idea!

I am having a fikasugen (a strong desire or craving for a fika)!

I need a fika right now!

I am going to have a fikapaus (to stop what you are doing and enjoy a fika)!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Peace,

Jill