Friday, December 23, 2011

A Christmas Miracle Part 3

With these new leads and a possible location, Robin began scouring the internet for contact information. With each name found, she would go to Facebook and search. Many hours were spent trying to find some connection to them. Finally, on December 18, on a people search site, she found someone with another brother's name, N.M.  The site listed several family member's names along with his. Thankfully, one of them had a Facebook account that was easily accessible. A quick scan through the "Friends" list revealed a K.M, the very same K.from the My Space pictures!

Robin sent the Facebook link to Diane. Overwhelmed with so many emotions, Diane sent a private message to K. After not getting a response and determined not to lose this opportunity, she took the risky chance of posting a few pictures on his wall.

One of those, was a picture of three little boys. The picture of him with his older brothers was familiar, and removed some of the doubt he had. He sent a response to Diane and they arranged a phone call. For the first time in her life, at 52 years of age, she spoke to her brother. As soon as that conversation ended there was a flurry of activity on Facebook with family connecting for the very first time.

Robin had to wait a couple of days to make her call because all she could do was cry every time she thought about talking to her brother. How wonderful it was for her to finally hear his voice and talk to him after all of these years. Emotions are still very raw and conversations with the other two brother's are waiting to be had, (they don't do Facebook). It will happen in time. There is so much for them to process.

This is where the story gets even more complicated because it is not mine to tell. So it must be told with great care out of respect for the brothers, their mother and the new relationships. (The fact that I am not a story teller or writer also complicates the matter greatly.)

K. was quite stunned to get this message from Diane and he was very confused! For you see, they had never known anything about their father or his whereabouts, the M. family or the name they carry, least of all, the fact that they had three older siblings. That thought had never crossed their minds. Their mother had refused to speak a word to them about it.

It has been shared that these boys grew up longing to know their father. They had a very difficult childhood and many are the emotional wounds they bear. It seems that they have gone to great lengths searching for their dad, and like the searches for them, they always came up empty handed. The impenetrable secrecy and unanswered questions have haunted them their entire lives.

From the responses read and heard, it is known that many prayers have been prayed over the years, both for them and by them, for answers to their many questions so that their hearts could be healed from the scars and wounds of childhood.

While the members of the M. family are thrilled that K, N, and A  have finally been found, the real Christmas miracle is theirs. It is not by chance that these boys have never been forgotten or that family felt compelled to find them. No, they needed desperately to be found, and to be told that they had family all of these years that loved them and had searched for them! They needed to know that they were never forgotten.They needed to know about their dad and they needed closure and healing.

To be found was a "Christmas Miracle" indeed!

Thank you all for reading this and for your comments. It has been a very emotional few days. I wasn't sure how to write this story so that you could keep the people involved straight. I also needed to make it less personal as it was emotionally draining to do this.

We are so thankful for this opportunity to get to know our brothers and their families. Plans are already being made to see each other face to face. My brother Mike is very sick with his cancer and treatments and our three brothers are very anxious to meet him and offer him encouragement. If I can't make it down to Alabama when they go, they plan to come here to see me on their way back to New York. I look forward to seeing them face to face!.

While our parents, (whom we all love dearly),  made some very bad choices that hurt us deeply as children and even as adults. We are moving forward and, with God's help, we will allow good to come from their mistakes.Uniting this family somehow rights at least part of the wrongs.

Thank you for reading our story!

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Christmas Miracle Part 2

Betty's children grew up, married and started having children of their own. Betty's daughter, Robin, kept the cherished picture of the three little boys and often thought of them, wondering where they were. While living in Memphis, Tennessee she once had a coworker whose desk was next to hers with the same first and last name, (K.M.), as one of her brothers. It wasn't him, she had to ask of course, but every day she had the reminder, the nagging reminder, of family lost.

At the M. family reunions the boys were mentioned and missed, especially by their grandparents. A mystery that hung like a dark cloud over otherwise joyous occasions.

The beloved grandparents eventually passed away, but the boys were still not forgotten. An aunt and cousin, along with their half-sisters continued to periodically search for them.

Years passed and the invention of social networking was a welcome blessing for the dispersed M. family. How wonderful to keep in touch and get daily glimpses into each others lives and to see pictures of children and grandchildren.

Periodically they would search the social networking sites trying to find the three brothers, but they always ended up empty handed. In 2009 there was even talk among the sisters and their cousin of hiring a private investigator to see if they could locate them.

December 13, 2011, the older sister, Diane, was once again searching the internet for her brothers and happened upon a people search site with a listing for a K.M. in New York, it also listed relatives that just happened to have the same names as the other two brothers. It also gave the name of a woman along with phone numbers. What were the odds that there could be three other M. men with the very same first names? Excited by this break, she did more searching and found a My Space page that she believed might belong to K.M.'s wife. It wasn't current but there were family pictures! Diane posted the My Space link on her Facebook. Robin went to the pictures and immediately knew that she was finally looking at the face of her long lost brother!

He looked so much like their dad, Jimmy and brother, Mike! Believing it was their K. Diane tried the phone numbers that were listed but none of them were current. Another frustrating dead end...

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Christmas Miracle

Many years ago, a young fifteen year old girl, named Betty,  married her sweetheart, Jimmy. It has been told that he had moved from Louisiana to California and her mother was afraid that she might run off and elope with him. She asked Betty if she loved Jimmy and wanted to marry him. She said yes and it was quickly arranged.
Because they were so young and he had a penchant for alcohol, (and women), their relationship was rather tumultuous.

  Much to the heartbreak of the doting grandparents and family, the marriage ended after five years.

With three young children Betty left Jimmy and went to live with her parents in Alabama.

Shortly thereafter, Betty met and married James. She despised Jimmy and never wanted him to see his children again. She talked James into adopting her three children so they would have his name instead. It has been told that Jimmy loved his children and didn't want them to be adopted but because he was a poor man, he had no means to hire a lawyer and fight it. So it was that the M. children took on the G. name.

Those three children never got to see their dad again. Oh, not that he didn't try!  Desperate to see them on at least two different occasions he showed up when he knew the children were in town, (once at his own sister's home), only to have them whisked away by their mom as if he were a monster about to devour them! The children were smart enough to know that wasn't the case, even at such a young age, they could see the love and pain in his eyes. They knew he loved them.

Eventually, Jimmy met Annette and started a new life. They had three boys together.
At some point, shortly after this picture of the boys was taken, a very unusual thing happened, the picture was sent to Betty's home by Grandma M. It was quickly discarded into a box of pictures, only to be retrieved by a half-sister who felt a curious bond with the little boys of her father and his new wife.

Still having a problem with alcohol, Jimmy and Annette also had a tumultuous marriage. One day, Annette vanished with their three boys, never to be seen or heard from again by anyone in the M. family.

While Jimmy had a problem with alcohol, the rest of the M. family were a loving and devout Christian family. They dearly loved all of Jimmy's children and even though they only saw Betty's children once every few years, those children knew they were cherished and adored. They could feel it to the depths of their soul, because it was the only time they ever felt that type of love. Sitting on that grandmother's lap, head to her chest, and hearing her muffled voice through ears covered in a tight embrace is a cherished memory imprinted on the heart forever.

The children grew older and one day they got a call that their dad, Jimmy, had died from smoke inhalation in a house fire. Arrangements were made and the children were allowed to go to their dad's funeral. The M. family had tried so hard to locate Annette to let her children know about their father, but they still could not find them. Jimmy was laid to rest with pictures of his six children that he never had the opportunity to know.

To be continued...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Corner Mantle Decorations

I have a corner fireplace that is deep and awkward and very difficult to decorate.  I have scoured the internet for mantle inspiration and there is plenty for normal mantles, but I've never seen anything for corner mantles.

This is my 50th Christmas and I have never, in my entire life, had a real tree. I don't have one this year either, but I do have limbs and trunks of real trees. Yes, I guess that I am a bit of a scavenger. I couldn't even pass up the portions of the tree trunks in the free bin at Home Depot.

This year I wanted simple, natural and rustic decorations for the mantle. The only thing I purchased this year was the red scarf that I found at Goodwill for .99¢. Oh, I take that back, several weeks ago I bought the old window at the same warehouse where I got a van load of free wood scraps. I've wanted an old window for a long time and have many ideas for this one.

My family thinks this is rather silly looking,  perhaps you do to, but I like it! It makes this nature lover very happy to see the chunky remnants of the trees with their sticky sap dripping and giving the house that wonderful aroma that just smells like Christmas.

I love this wonderful rusty outdoor lantern that I found at a garage sale last summer at a local women's shelter. I paid $2.00 for it. It still had the electrical wiring and light bulbs in it but I ripped it all out to use indoors.

This lantern is usually outside on the front porch. It too is rusty in places. The lanterns have battery operated candles but the green candles are real. There really isn't much difference in the glow.

I have a wonderful collection of  turquoise Ball jars. Some were passed down to me from my mother-in-law and her mother, others were garage sale finds or a gift from a sweet friend. I love them and I'm so glad to see them become so popular in recent years.

I have pine tree branches scattered throughout the house, both inside and out.

May your days during this wonderful season be merry and bright and filled with the things you love!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Pillow Talk

I have been seeing sweater pillows on different blogs and in catalogs and wanted to make one to cozy things up a bit this winter.

As you can see, the cats have to be right in the middle of my projects, literally! This sweater was purchased at Goodwill for .99¢. It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but for that price, I was happy.

The first order of business was to cut off part of the sleeves. I saw a darling pair of skates on Carolyn's blog, Aiken House and Gardens, that gave me the idea to cozy up my $3.00 garage sale skates. (If  you've never been to Carolyn's blog you should go and visit!)

I turned the sleeves inside out, stuffed them into the skates and rolled them over. It definitely dressed them up!

I have plans for the other skate, that I'll hopefully share later!

The sweater was pretty stretchy but I had a pillow the right size that was pretty worn out. I just cut the fabric and removed the stuffing and filled this one with the same amount.

I made flowers from different parts of the sweater, so not much of it went to waste. I even made the cats a toy mouse and filled it with stuffing and cat nip.

Not bad for a .99¢ Goodwill sweater! Sure beats the $39.00 Pottery Barn pillow!

Here is another pillow project. This was a square placemat that I saw at Kohl's
I used my seam ripper and opened up a section on the bottom. I used fiberfill that I got at a garage sale for .50¢ to stuff it.
After I made the pillow I was at Kohl's with my son while he shopped and saw that they already had pillows made from this fabric. Look at the price difference!
Here is the tag on the placemat.
Both the placemats and the pillows were 50% off. I also had a 30% off coupon and actually got it free since my son had given me his $10.00 Kohl's cash. He has a very generous heart, that sweet boy of mine!

We can't have pillow talk without a picture of a sleeping kitty!

The birds are already making use of the pretty winter feeding station. That is always a sweet treat!

Just for fun, here is a shot I took while I was at the outdoor mall with my daughter.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Winter Bird Feeding

The weather is getting colder and Christmas is approaching but my thoughts these past few days have been on the birds.

I haven't fed the birds very much since April. I have done without many things during this recent season of unemployment and now getting back on our feet, but the thought of not feeding my feathered friends over the winter made me very sad. I am from the south and I really, really dislike Indiana winters. Feeding, watching and photographing the birds is something that gives me pleasure during the long winter. I actually look forward to the snow just because it brings the birds to the feeders. It not only entertains me but the cats and dog love watching the birds too. My nineteen year old son offered to buy me sunflower seeds for Christmas. How thoughtful is that?

My bird food wreaths last year were such a huge success that I wanted to make several more this winter. They provide me with something bright and colorful to look at during the many dreary gray days of winter and they also provide pretty props for bird photography.

I stopped by Home Depot Tuesday and picked up some free Christmas tree branches. I attached them to my swing frame along with the artificial greenery that was used last year.

As soon as I put a few peanuts in the small basket a chickadee landed on it.

Later, right before it snows, I'll add a few pine cones dipped in lard, peanut butter and bird seed to the wreaths.

The apple is cored and filled with homemade suet. It makes it a little harder for the house sparrows to gobble it up.

The cats certainly make wreath making a more interesting task. Both of our cats have always loved napping in the wreaths.

I put some of the free greenery on the sled and attached one of the ice skates that I purchased at a garage sale a few years ago.

After being out in the cold, a cup of hot chocolate is a delightful treat!

I'm practicing food photography these days and  it isn't as easy as looks!

This was the moon yesterday. It was shining brightly at 4:00 PM right along with the sun. Even though it was cold the sunshine felt wonderful after all of the rain we've had.

Now that my wreaths are finished, I am actually hoping that we get a little of that snow that is in forecast tomorrow!

So, are you planning to decorate for the birds this year? If so, I'd love to see what you make!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

 Thank you all for your encouragement from my post yesterday. We have so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving!

To my American friends, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Much to be Thankful For

There is so much that I would like to say during this Thanksgiving season, but finding words to express it is quite difficult. I know I will fall far short of expressing what I am feeling. Sadly, I've never been much of a writer, but even less so now. It is a tremendous effort to focus and organize my thoughts these days.Thinking of what to say, how to say it and how to word it in a grammatically correct way becomes a contemptuous chore. Which has been part of the reason for my infrequent posts; it has been easiest to say nothing at all.

For the last eight months my husband has been unemployed. The first time he was laid off, (after fifteen years with a wonderful company and a job he loved), was devastating, but to face the trauma of multiple company layoffs over the last six years has been a nightmare that is incomprehensible to us. After this latest layoff we feared that the career he had worked so hard to establish was completely ruined because his work history looked so unstable. Most companies, if they are even hiring, would just pitch a resume like that.While it took eight very long months and many resumes sent, a new job was started on Monday last week. For this new opportunity we are so very thankful.

Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving for God's provision for us during this time of extended unemployment. Our two adult children, who both still live at home, have full-time jobs and graciously contributed. Our nineteen year old son delayed college and donated practically his entire paycheck, with no complaints. With their help, my odd jobs and unemployment benefits we have been able to stay caught up on our bills. There was no money for extras and there have been many struggles along the way, but, by God's grace, we have survived the storm...again.Were it not for our precious children things would be very different for us right now. We are very blessed.

It is also with heartfelt gratitude that I thank each of you for your patience with me during this time of sporadic blogging. Losing my mom, dealing with multiple job loss and all the emotions and struggles that encompasses, and my mother-in-law's end stage Alzheimer's...well sometimes just coping with life is all you can manage.

I hope things will settle down now and this extended season of trials will end for our family and hopefully after a time of stability and emotional healing my mental fog will lift and my creativity will flourish.

Speaking of creativity, during the past few months, I have given much thought to this blog and the direction I want to take it. After all that I have been through, with the multiple job loss and this extended season of difficult trials,  I sometimes think about posting on topics regarding that, but my blog has been mostly nature and gardening related and it felt weird to do so. There are more home projects that I have done that I would like to share, but again, I feel funny posting them here.

After one such post, someone suggested to me that I might want to start another blog for things not related to my normal topics so that my readers wouldn't be surprised to see something out of character for Robin's Nesting Place. That was a great idea and I attempted to start another blog but I can barely manage one much less two or three.

I think I've come to the conclusion, that for right now, during this season of my life, I will just post whatever it is that I want to blog about, right here, at Robin's Nesting Place. My desire is to keep the blog as a hobby blog but that definitely encompasses many topics, including photography; crafts; home projects; gardening; cooking: bird watching; thrifting and things related to living on a tight budget and anything else related to home and garden. It really isn't that much different from what I've been doing, just more broad which should lead to more frequent posts that will hopefully still appeal to my readers and maybe even grow my blog a bit more. Guilt/pressure/stress free blogging is all I can creatively manage right now.

I hope that is okay and those of you who have become my blogging friends these last four years will continue to read and follow. I appreciate you all!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Delicious and Festive White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

White Chocolate and Cranberry Cookies

1 cup butter, softened                                 3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar                         1 rounded teaspoon baking soda
½ cup white sugar                                      1 ½-2  cups white chocolate chips
2 eggs                                                        1 ½ cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons vanilla flavoring                       1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375°.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Combine the flour and baking soda, stir to incorporate baking soda into flour. Spoon small amounts at a time into butter and sugar mixture while mixing. Add white chocolate and cranberries to mixture.

Spoon out dough and roll about a golf ball or walnut sized amount, depending on the size cookie  you want,  (dough is easy to handle and not sticky). You can spoon the dough right onto the cookie sheet, but shaping it into a ball makes a very pretty, evenly shaped cookie.

Bake for 8-10 minutes in preheated oven. For best results, take them out when they are browning but still slightly doughy. Allow cookies to cool for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Pantry Recessed Shelving

I frequently scour the free Craigslist adds just to see what kinds of things people are getting rid of. In the past I've been blessed to find a few things that were local and actually in great condition. A few weeks ago I saw an add from a local business that was downsizing their space and they wanted to give away wood that was in their warehouse. It had been used to make displays and show props. My husband and I went just to see what they had left. I had wanted a few pieces of wood to make some photography backdrops and I thought I might be able to get it there. It was a huge warehouse and we filled our van full of wood and beadboard scraps. Some of the beadbord was in long thin strips that I thought would be useless to me, but they really wanted to get rid of it all and kept pulling out small scrap pieces. I was so grateful for the good pieces that I took it all just to help them, thinking that and I would just throw it away.

As I was organizing the wood in the garage I tried to figure out a way to use some of the long strips of beadboard. I have always wanted to try my hand at making recessed shelves and I had a perfect space in my pantry behind the door to do it.

Here is how I made the recessed shelves:

I took the stud finder and marked my studs. Then I made a hole in the drywall just to make sure there were no wires in the way, ( I didn't think there would be since no outlet is on either wall). I removed the pantry door. Cutting drywall can be incredibly messy so I hung a plastic drop cloth from ceiling to floor to keep the dust off the food in the pantry. Using the hole as my starting point, I cut the drywall with a jigsaw. I left about two-three inches of drywall at the ceiling and floor. I cut the long strips of beadborad to fit in the space and attached them with Liquid Nails and small nails, (being careful not to go through the drywall on the other side).

This is not the ideal way to make recessed shelves, but since finances are tight, I was determined to make this a use what I have project.

I had a broken shutter and I cut the outer pieces into four inch strips. Not wanting to measure any more than I absolutely had too, I placed the cans and cartons in the position I wanted them, I placed the wood strip on the container, marked it and nailed it in place. I placed the shelf on them and used the level to make sure they weren't crooked and it worked like a charm! No measuring!

I then filled all of the many gaps with caulking. Once the caulking was dry I painted it with Sherwin Williams paint that I had picked up free at our local recycling center. I trimmed it out with more beadboard strips and the corner squares that I've had for several years that I had picked up somewhere on clearance. Once painted and caulked, the mismatched beadboard and wood doesn't really matter at all. Besides, once the door is back up it will be totally hidden from view.

This gives me so much more space in my pantry and I had great satisfaction and fun doing it with what I had on hand.

I'm linking up with:

Furniture Feature Fridays

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A few days ago I spent a little time at a local park to get some fall pictures.

The little ground squirrels were so cute playing around the roots of the huge tree.

The black walnuts are prolific this year and walking under the trees was quite dangerous. Every time the wind would blow they would come crashing to the ground.

The squirrels were quite busy gathering walnuts and acorns. They were so busy that they didn't pay much attention to me and I was able to get pretty close to them, even with the bulky tripod..

This one was pretty funny all spread out eating his walnut.

We have had a warm and lovely autumn so far. It has been absolutely delightful!
I have a thing for old barns. When I see one I have an intense desire to stop the car and photograph it. I gave in to that desire a few days ago while I was on my autumn photography adventure!

This one is huge! Sadly it is dilapidated and the roof is collapsing. I don't know what the story is and why it is in such disrepair, but I assume since it is right off of a busy street in an area that has some new construction close by, it probably will be torn down soon.

This one was right down the street. I'd love to go back again when the photography conditions are better. These were taken about 3:00 in the afternoon with bright sunshine. Sunrise or sunset would be much better!

Not much is in bloom here. Just a few roses, cosmos and verbena.

I loved this dark cosmos against the fence. The wind was blowing so hard that it was difficult to get pictures!

The maple trees are gorgeous right now!  I saw these two leaves near the bottom of the trunk.

This is what drew me outside today with my camera, even though the wind was blowing so hard. I couldn't believe my eyes! A monarch butterfly! I hardly saw a butterfly all summer and to see this one so late in the season was a sweet surprise! I'm so glad that the verbena was still in bloom!

I sure hope it ventures south soon!