Saturday, June 30, 2012

School's Out - P52 Week 26

School has been out for my college age daughter for 2 months already. WOW has that gone fast! It is amazing once your child moves into the higher education world how quickly you forget the time table of the younger children.

I have to say I enjoyed May so much this year with Mallory home and every body else still in school. Shopping was so quiet and uncrowded. We went to the beach one day towards the end of May and strolled along the waterline quietly talking and taking pictures. Only a handful of other people were there with us and they also were caught up in their own worlds, either reading or napping, all to the pleasant sound of the water lapping on the shore. The loudest noise was the squawking of the seagulls.

Sadly, I won't find that peaceful quiet again until September, and then it will have to be alone since Mallory will be back in school along with every body else. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Blog Timeline

For Day Two of our Behind the Scenes class we were asked to make a Timeline of what lead to our starting a blog. Mine is not as fancy as some of the girls, but I can keep it clear to me by doing it this way.

There were many things shaping my blog long before I even knew it, but the events listed below were the key turning points.

August 2011 - Our daughter and only child leaves for her first year of college.

September 2011 - I quit my retail job that I have had for the past 5 years. Thanks to a job promotion for my husband, I was able to stay home and get things done around the house and work on improving my photography skills.

November 2011 - I have a conversation on FB with a couple of friends about how we never finish things that we start. Thank you to Joni and Michelle, you had a big impact on me starting this blog and probably didn't even know it. This conversation starts the bells and whistles in my head a clanging like crazy.

December 2011 - I come across Project 52 on Pinterest. I decide that I can take 1 photo a week on a specific topic and write about it. Idea of blogging this is born and also the name of the blog Becoming a Finisher.

January 2012 - Start blog and find it easy to keep up with Project 52, so I decide to write about a few other things here and there.

February 2012 - Discover that I really like writing about what I am taking pictures of.

April 2012 - Take the NOW|YOU class with Kristin Zecchinelli & Meredith Winn on Self-Portrait Photography. This was a big step outside of my comfort zone. In many of my early photos for class I am wearing my Paisley Bogs Rain Boots and got lots of great comments on them. Thus the idea was born for the Paisley Rain Boots blog. I was also taking Kim's Photo Essentials class at this same time  so I could learn how to use my newly purchase Photo Shop Elements program.

May 2012 - Start the Big Pictures Class 31 Things with Ali Edwards, discover I really love writing and love having a topic prompt to write about.

June 2012 - Sign up for Kim and Xanthe's class Behind the Scenes, a class about better blogging.

I feel myself growing each and everyday in all my new skills. This class is so perfect to tie everything together.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blog Housekeeping

I have started a new on-line class called Behind the Scenes. This one is on blogging and the timing couldn't have been more perfect. It started yesterday and Mallory left for Montana yesterday. It is a 4 week class and Mallory will be gone for 5 weeks. Perfect!

This being said I've come to a decision regarding both of my blogs; this one Becoming a Finisher and my other one Paisley Rain Boots.

Becoming a Finisher will be mainly a project focused blog which is how I initially intended it to be. Along the way of doing this blog and various on-line activities I have found the writer within me.

Paisley Rain Boots will be for writing, deeper thoughts and photographic adventures.

P52 will stay on Becoming a Finisher since that was my first goal on Day 1 of this blog. 31 Things will be moving to Paisley Rain Boots.

I am re-posting my list of 44 Things that I want to do while I am 44 from my Paisley Rain Boots blog since some of the 44 things are projects. Then you will know what I am referring to if you don't read the Paisley Rain Boots blog.

44 Things

Since birthdays, just like New Year's are a kind of new start for the year, I came up with a list of 44 Things I would love to do in this year that I am 44. In no particular order.

1.  Watch a sunrise
2.  Watch a sunset
3.  Make a writing area for myself on our four season porch
4.  Enjoy a candlelight dinner with my husband
5.  Take more on-line photography classes
6.  Photograph old buildings
7.  Have more "date" outings
8.  Go away by myself for a couple of days to write and take pictures
9.  Visit a new winery
10. Start and finish our Alaska trip scrapbook
11. Walk in the rain
12. Visit all the Ottawa County Parks
13. Use my new trekking poles a lot
14. Start using on-line banking
15. Set up more lunch dates with friends
16. Sign up with Maribeth for some personal training sessions
17. Do more self-portrait photography
18. Visit Mallory in Marquette
19. Do the Agawa Canyon Train Tour this fall
20. Drive the golf cart for my husband while he golfs
21. Walk hand in hand on the beach with my husband
22. Go on a picnic with my husband
23. Keep eating healthy
24. Read Wicked
25. Refinish a piece of furniture with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
26. Get an iPhone
27. Cook more recipes with shrimp
28. Tell my daughter everyday that "She is beautiful"!
29. Do another volunteer outing with nursing home residents
30. Collect and count all my pencils
31. Take a sewing class
32. Find a comfy couch for the porch
33. Turn the porch into our reading and writing retreat
34. Make more hand made cards
35. Lose 5 lbs.
36. Eat outside more
37. Take a train ride
38. Start having Matcha Smoothies everyday
39. Drive my dad's tractor
40. Simplify my wardrobe
41. Take a cooking class
42. Make my dad cookies
43. Plant an herb garden
44. Listen more to God, instead of talking

I hoping this will keep things clearer for you the reader and for me the blogger.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Reflections of My Life in Uniforms

My first "official" job as a teenager required me to wear a uniform. I worked in the bakery at a local grocery store. Our uniform was white pants, a white polo shirt, and white shoes. I still don't understand why white is equated with clean and sanitary, because as soon as you get chocolate frosting smeared on your shirt, you are not clean anymore.

My first full time job straight out of high school was as an Administrative Assistant (in those days it was Secretary) for a local builder. Our office was located in one of his model homes so there was not a lot of people traffic, but we still dressed professionally. The builder himself usually wore a suit jacket and tie, and so the bar was set.

My second full time job was as a Data Entry clerk for a Library Furniture manufacturer. Again the "uniform" was very professional. The owner was a very smart dresser, full suit with a bow tie.

My last full time job with a "uniform" was as a Veterinary Assistant for our Veterinarian. There our uniform was more clear cut; black pants, solid colored polo shirt, and tennis shoes. Comfy clothes that could get dirty. Working with animals is not a clean job.

After the birth of our daughter, I only worked part time jobs, a couple of them have had uniforms of sorts.

I worked a few summers for a friend of mind who had her own landscaping business. We wore our oldest and lightest clothes, working in people's gardens is dirty and hot.

My last part time job was as a retail clerk at a gift shop. I got to go back to a nice "uniform" again, which was welcomed after the last few dirty jobs. Our store sold Pandora jewelry and part of our "uniform" each day was our Pandora bracelet. Definitely the nicest piece of a "uniform" I have ever had.

Now I am free to wear whatever uniform I want for the day; stay at home uniform, exercise uniform, going to get groceries uniform, or going out with friends uniform. I am sure some day I will wear some kind of "uniform" again, but for now I am happy with these.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Father - P52 Week 25

My dad is a quiet, serious man, but one thing he is passionate about besides his kids and his grandkids, is beekeeping.

Removing a swarm off of a SUV.

My dad has been a hobby beekeeper for over 30 years. What inspired me to write about this aspect of his life was a trip to the Farmer's Market today. Mallory and I attended the weekly Chef series which today was on beekeeping and cooking with honey. I realized I knew a lot about beekeeping already, thanks to all the things my dad has taught me over the years.

My dad is heavily involved in his local chapter of area beekeepers. He mentors a couple of first year beekeepers that live near his house. He is always getting calls about coming to collect a swarm of bees. He goes to a local elementary school every year to do a presentation on beekeeping and gives the kids samples of honey. When Mallory was in elementary school, she got him to come a couple of different times to her class. Once in Kindergarten for "H" week, Honey. And again in 3rd grade when they were studying a science unit on insects.

Some of my favorite times with my dad when I was growing up, were when we were working on honey stuff together. I helped him extract honey from the hive frames (along with sampling some of the honey). We would go to the Farmer's Market most Saturdays and set up our stall with his beautiful handmade table, our sun umbrella, and our supply of honey. My treat for getting up before the crack of dawn to go and help him was a stop at McDonald's for lunch on the way home, but the best treat was just being with my dad.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Saturday, June 16, 2012

9:15 a.m.

9:15 a.m. on a Saturday.

I am the passenger in my daughter's newly purchased Navy Blue 2002 Toyota Highlander. We are making the 15 minute drive to our local Farmer's Market.

The sight of fresh fruits and vegetables sends a thrill through me. I live for this time of year. My favorite cooking season, using as many fresh ingredients as possible. The Farmer's Market is a smorgasbord of fresh ingredients all laid out in neat little rows waiting for me to take them home and make something new and wonderful with them.

Today's first mission is bright red, juicy strawberries. I am stocking my freezer for the Winter. Freezing whole strawberries for my standard at home lunch of yogurt and granola and for smoothies. Last year I ran out of frozen strawberries well before Christmas, that will not happen again this year.

When we arrive at the market at 9:20 a.m. the sea of cars in the parking lot overwhelms us. Fortunately, we find a place to park fairly quick. Out come the market baskets, the camera, and the most important essential; cash.

Strawberries bought and taken to the car, we set out to find other treasures for the day. Top of Mallory's list is asparagus, her new favorite vegetable. (I remember when this kid only ate corn), how far she has come. She convinces me to buy 2 pounds today, because 1 pound is never enough for the three of us. I guess I didn't realize asparagus was the main course and not the salmon.

We really didn't need much more than that since we had stocked up on tomatoes and zucchini when we were at the market on Wednesday.

Wandering along we came across the Amish ladies (I have no idea if they are really Amish) and to our delight they had cookies today, since they didn't have them on Wednesday. I selected a chocolate cherry one, to make me feel like I was back up in Leelanau County, and Mallory got her usual  Chocolate Chip. With our cookies tucked away in a paper bag in my market basket, we continued on.

We came down to the west end of the market and I saw the Fustini's banner set up in front of folding chairs and behind a portable kitchen. The 10 a.m. weekly Chef series was discovered and about to start. I love Fustini's, a Michigan owned oil and balsamic vinegar retail store chain. So we made our way to a couple of folding chairs and sat down to enjoy the show.

Denise Walburg, the Manager of our Holland Fustini's was the chef. Now, Denise recognizes me every time I go in that store and usually has my name nailed down, or close to it. I am not in there THAT much. How about that for awesome customer service!

Denise made three dishes for the demonstration: Ramen Coleslaw Salad, Corn and Black Bean Salsa (which I plan to make for next Friday's Concert in the Park at Kollen's Park), and Grilled Romaine with Lemon-Parmesan Vinaigrette. All awesome and super easy. I will be visiting Fustini's next week!

After the wonderful Chef demonstration we were ready to head home and have our cookies for a mid-morning snack. The cookies were wonderful! I loved the little bits of cherry in my Chocolate Cherry one.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Water - P52 Week 23

Water... I have always struggled to try and "like" drinking it. I do pretty good when I am out at a restaurant because I have other things to keep me distracted so I keep sipping it and don't even realize that I am drinking it. Home is another story. No big distractions, just me and my water.

I gave up Diet Coke earlier this year and I had to find a replacement for my zero calorie drink. Water seemed like the logical choice, but really I need some flavor. I have been working on it, hot days and a slice of lemon help a lot, and some days I can drink 3 or 4 glasses. I am particular about how to drink it too. It must be in a GLASS glass, and it must have ice cubes so it can be as cold as possible. In a restaurant I can drink out of a plastic glass as long as there is a straw, and it still must be as cold as possible.

Every time I finish a glass I hear my yoga instructor, Maribeth's voice in my head saying "Very good you just gave yourself an internal shower". I will keep working at "liking" water and maybe by the end of the summer I will be up to the 8 glasses I am suppose to drink a day.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Two summers ago we built a new deck on the back of our house. One that was much more open and really allowed us to have a great view of the backyard. It is now large enough to hold a table and four chairs, for outside dining. We take advantage of this every day that it not beastly hot outside. The deck also holds two chaise lounge chairs for sunbathing, reading and/or writing.

As I sit in my lounge chair I have a view of our large bird feeder, which is always swarming with birds, if I remember to fill it. I see the momma duck and her three "babies" (they are getting pretty big now) as they waddle up from the pond to have their fill under the feeder. I see my trusty companion, Scout, patrolling the perimeter of the yard, just enough inside the electric fence to avoid getting zapped. Except when that momma duck and her "babies" are too alluring floating on the pond and he rushes through the fence before he gets zapped. After I go to retrieve him out of the pond, he doesn't get so lucky to not get zapped going back into the yard. Then because he usually stinks like dirty pond water, he earns a bath in the middle of the backyard.

I can also see all my beautiful flowers and also those unpleasant weeds that grew up overnight.

I really appreciate the beauty of nature as I sit here and enjoy the view.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What I Read in May

May was a super busy month so I did not get a lot of books read. That is okay, I can always read.  I don't always have the luxury of spending time with my daughter.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult - Liked - I almost always enjoy Jodi's books, she always writes about controversial subjects. This book reminded me a lot of My Sister's Keeper. The controversial subject was gay marriage and the issue of leftover stored embryos with one heterosexual couple wanting them, and one gay couple wanting them. Of course a lawsuit to try to resolve the issue, and a twist at the end.

The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon - LIKED -  I think this book would make a great book club book. Great characters that I felt I really got to know. A sad view into the life inside a State Hospital for Mentally ill children, something I don't read about too often. A little bit of a fairy tale ending was the only downfall in my mind.

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp - OK. I read this book for our May book club. I usually try to read the book club book a week before we meet, so it is the last thing I have read. This book is not one to read fast. Like we discussed at book club, this should really be read over a month or two for a bible study, along with doing the study guide. Our leader felt the Study Guide made things a lot clearer to her. Time would be better to digest this book, then the chapters would not seem so repetitive. She has a great message but it really needs to be pondered and discussed after each chapter.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


It seems that lawn mowing has been a chore of mine as long as I have been tall enough and strong enough to push a mower.

It was my weekly responsibility when I was a kid. We had a fairly large lawn and only a push mower to do it with, at least I got an allowance for doing it.

When I got old enough to drive a lawn tractor I had the added responsibility of doing my grandparent's yard of weeds. Grandpa paid good though, $10 per time, and this was back in the early 1980's.

Through the years of our married life, Glen and I have shared the chore. Some years he did it more and some years I did it more.

When we moved to our current house and finally got a riding mower, Mallory took over the chore for a while, until the novelty of driving a mower wore off.

Now it is back to Glen and I sharing again, and it is close to 50/50. We keep our lawn longer, so we generally need to mow twice a week, me once and Glen once.

I am at a point in my life where I don't mind doing it. It is a great time to think, with nothing to distract me. It is just me and the mower and the grass.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Playtime - P52 Week 22

Perfect Playtime picture. Glen and Mallory messing around on the swings after our picnic lunch of smoked salmon, 4 year old cheddar cheese, and Rosemary flavored Triscuits. Got to love being on vacation.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


People watching is a great leisure activity. It can provide hours of entertainment without any involvement on my part.

My favorite place to people watch is Walt Disney World in Florida. I am not a roller coaster or spinning ride person, but Glen and Mallory enjoy them. So while they go off and ride the rides, I take my camera and stroll about looking for fun things to snap pictures of, usually trying for a different angle on something I have seen before.

Usually I will arrive at our prearranged meeting place before Glen and Mallory, so I will stake out a place on a bench to settle in and people watch, and to keep an eye out for them. I have seen some very interesting things over the years that we have gone to Disney.

Some of my favorites are:

1. The little girls dressed up in their princess costumes and the look of heart stopping wonder on their faces when they spot Belle signing autographs.

2. The little boys in Woody costumes shooting imaginary guns as they stand in line for Buzz Lightyear.

3. The small child clutching a brand spanking new stuffed Winnie the Pooh.

4. The wonder in the eyes of young and old alike as they enter through the gates and step onto Main Street with a view of Cinderella's castle down at the end.

5. Watching older people try to figure out how to use a digital camera.

6. The many families having their picture taken with the castle in the background.

There are some not so good observations as well:

1. The child throwing a tantrum in the middle of Fantasy Land because it is 90 degrees and 3 o'clock in the afternoon and way past their nap time.

2. The parents of the above mentioned child yelling at each other because everybody is hot and crabby.

3. The teenagers that disrespect their parents when the parents are trying so hard to make sure everybody is having a good time. 

4. The blue ice cream dripping down the arms of a little boy and then the whole top of the ice cream cone landing with a plop on the pavement.

My favorite people watching moment though was when we were sitting down for lunch one day and along comes this mom dragging her 10 year old son behind her. The next thing you know he has stopped and stuck his head into a garbage receptacle and vomited, meanwhile the mom is still trying to drag him along towards the bathroom. They get a short distance farther and up it comes again, this time with no garbage can handy. Hello floor! Which people then proceeded to just look at and walk around.

Oh the joys and amusement of people watching.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Food - How I Love It!

I love food! I come by this love naturally since I am part Italian, and Italians love their food. There is no danger of me coming anorexic or bulimic with this heritage.

1. I love to buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the Farmer's Market. As soon as, fresh strawberries hit the market, I buy them like crazy. I buy them to slice and eat, and to stock my freezer. Last year I ran out of freezer strawberries before Christmas, I am determined to not let that happen again this year.

2. I love the stability of my breakfasts and lunches when I am home.  I eat the same thing every day. For breakfast I have a whole wheat english muffin with jam, a glass of chocolate milk and my vitamins. For lunch I have a sliced banana with honey vanilla greek yogurt, topped with strawberries, blueberries and topped over it all, Good Life granola, Stacy's pita chips and a glass of Simply Lemonade.

3. I love to try new recipes for supper. Glen always jokes that he never has the same thing twice for supper.

4. I love to sip a glass of wine while I cook supper. It seems to heighten the whole cooking experience.

5. I love, yummy soup for my Mac, and Pinterest for finding new recipes.

6. I love salmon, hummus, fruit, pizza, mushrooms, wine and tea.

I do try to eat as healthy as possible without totally denying myself things that I love.