Monthly Archives: March 2011

The return of the (gasp)…scrunchie

Remember scrunchies? They were the ubiquitous hair accessories of the 90s. Every pre-teen and teen wore one on her wrist for the moment when she wanted to put her hair up in a quick ponytail.

They disappeared from our house faster than a box of Thin Mints, and I thought that was the end of them. But you know how it is…just when you’re sure something has been permanently banned from the fashion world, it’s resurrected.

Scrunchies, it seems, are making a comeback. I discovered this one day when daughter number 2 (age 25) blew in from Cincinnati, a striped scrunchie in hand. I’ve learned not to make any comments until someone offers an explanation. Well, says Miz 25-year-old, she’d discovered this one at one of her favorite retail haunts, American Apparel — that haven of knit basics (i.e. cotton tees in zillions of styles and colors).

My guess is that they had a glut of knit fabric leftovers and someone said, “Hey, let’s not waste this stuff — let’s reinvent the scrunchie.” Because basically, all you need is about a three inch by 30 inch strip of fabric, some elastic and a sewing machine. I learned to make these back when the girls first wore them and we’d make one to match every clothing item we sewed.

So…anyway…Anne surprised me by asking if I could teach her to make scrunchies. In about 30 minutes, we’d made two from some scraps we’d located in the attic — including some baseball fabric from her baseball/softball-playing days. No pattern for us, but if you need some help, try these instructions from

Here’s what we ended up with…

Finpex 2011 beckons the family philatelist

I have a funny feeling I know what my husband will be doing this weekend. Not that he’s mentioned this…or at least not outright. He posted a story on The Bluffton Icon ( about Fort Findlay Stamp and Postcard Club’s annual stamp show — Finpex 2011.

Okay, here’s one thing I’ve learned in 30 years of marriage to this guy. See, he’s a philatelist, and philatelists are all alike. They band together. In our case, they live beside each other. A few weeks ago after church, he informed me that he was going next door to play. Okay, that’s not exactly how he put it. It was probably more along the lines of “I’m going over to look at Bill’s (Swartley) stamp collection.” I noticed he didn’t take any of his own along. This can mean only one thing. There will be another Sunday afternoon “sharing of the stamp collections.”

It’s not that I don’t appreciate stamps. I do. Especially when I need to send a letter. And…okay…long ago, I had a stamp collection. My cousins — who lived in Japan — sent me a stamp album. It was beautiful — red with some Japanese characters on the front, and inside the sticky pages were covered with plastic that you peeled back to stick the stamps in place. They must have sent me some stamps, because the album had some very pretty, shiny turquoise stamps…with Japanese characters. I’m embarrassed to admit I never got more than a few pages filled and I had no clue what I was doing. I liked pretty stamps. Still do.

When Fred told me about his stamp collection, I thought, “aha — another common interest”. But then he showed me his. Oh my. This guy was serious. He had stamps and stamps and stamps. They were actually worth more than they cost. Compared to him, I was just an amateur philatelist. But I’d already told him about my so-called collection, so I had to show it to him. He was kind. He didn’t laugh…or at least, not too loud.

Over the years, he has continued to collect stamps, attending stamp shows periodically and usually coming home with some treasured item of great value. I ooh and aah over his purchases and pretend that I know exactly what they are. He’s not fooled.

Because I know he collects foreign stamps, when family members travel to other countries and ask what they can bring back, I tell them to bring him some stamps — they don’t take up much room in an already full suitcase.

When daughter number 2 comes to visit, the two of them usually spend some time on one of their favorite past times — soaking stamps. The routine goes like this:

  • Fill large bowl with warm water
  • Dump stamps in bowl and let them soak
  • Remove stamps and carefully remove the remainders of envelopes from the backs
  • Place each stamp on a cookie sheet to dry

I don’t know what they do after this…I usually fall asleep in the middle of the process. But in the morning, I see cookie sheets filled with stamps, lined up side by side, and I make the usual snide comments. They roll their eyes at me.

So anyway, there’s this stamp show in Findlay this weekend. Finpex 2011. If you’re a philatelist, it’s the place to be.

Not a philatelist? Not to worry. Maybe you’re a numismatist. They frequent coin shows. Guess who you’ll see at those, too?

Crocuses, parsley and forsythia, oh my

Isn’t it amazing how crocuses suddenly pop up? Yesterday, the warm weather sent me out of my stuffy office in the early afternoon. I just had to get out and enjoy the sun and warmth, so decided to walk home to check in on the husband and the dog. As I walked through the backyard, I was surprised to see some random crocuses blooming. Their bright yellow color immediately lifted my spirits and I began to look around the gardens for other signs of spring.

Little green shoots everywhere! Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths…and other plants I can’t identify until they bloom. The forsythia buds were starting to pop, so I clipped off a few stems to force indoors.

About this time, I found the dog dragging his master around the block…or maybe it was the other way around. I stuck a crocus in the dog’s face. Apparently, they don’t hold the same fascination for him as they do for me, or he was just disappointed that the yellow thing didn’t smell edible. The husband, on the other hand, was happy to see the crocus. As we stood there like two dummies, staring down at those tiny flowers, we wondered how it is that they surprise us every year. We wondered if we stood there long enough, would we be able to watch them grow and open? Maybe some botanists know how this works.

I snapped a picture with my phone and sent it to my daughters. One responded later on (yawning), that “Oh, I’ve seen them all over my neighborhood.” So much for that excitement.

Okay, so the arrival of the crocuses fell flat on the kid, but it sure got me inspired. Although the gardening catalogs have been filling our mailbox for several months now, I’ve not paid much attention to them. See, part of the problem is that a couple of my brothers are already eating from their gardens, but then that’s an unfair comparison. One has a farm with a greenhouse and the other one plants spinach in the fall so it’ll pop up early in spring. It’s a lot warmer in Virginia and Kansas.

If that smacks of sibling rivalry, it probably is. But hey, I’ve got crocuses. Bet they don’t. AND I have fresh parsley which recently poked up its head from under its winter blanket of snow.

Now I’m rambling, so it’s time to quit. Besides, those gardening catalogs are calling me. Time to build some new raised beds and get moving.

Isn’t it amazing what a little warm weather will do for the soul?

Houston, we have flushoff

My husband gave me permission to write this. Seriously. He said, and I quote, “You may write about this on your blog.” Usually,  his directive is the opposite, as in “Do NOT write about this.” But as our daughters will tell you, I’ve never been very good at toeing the line. This is what comes of being the youngest of five children AND the only daughter.

But I digress. This little story actually began oh…about 20 years ago…about the same time we bought this house. Which, by the way, is old. Very old. And old houses often have little glitches. This little glitch involves the toilet in our downstairs closet-sized bathroom. It is just big enough for a toilet and a tiny vanity — leaving very little room for a human being. Which, on the face of things, is completely impractical.

Despite its size, the bathroom gets quite a bit of use. For one thing, what child will run upstairs to use a bathroom when she wants to miss the least amount of whatever is on the tv? And so…after 20 years of pretty regular flushing, the poor little toilet failed us.

More specifically, it began to object to being flushed. Or once flushed, it decided to run for awhile. You know how that is. Instead of that last little gurgle, there is a hissing sound as if water is running into the bowl. So you jiggle the handle, hold your breath, and pray that it will stop. It stops, you breathe a sigh of relief…until the next flush.

In our case, we’ve probably been jiggling the handle a tad too long. It got to the point where instead of flushing, I’d beg my husband to flush it by hand inside the tank. But that only worked so long and the inevitable happened. No more flushing. Eeek.

Today, my husband came home brandishing a package of what he called “a present for you”. I’ve heard that saying before and I know a real present from a faux present. This was a faux. This was a new flusher thingy, courtesy of my favorite hardware store owner. Too bad said hardware store owner and expert fix-it guy didn’t accompany my husband, the would-be plumber.

So…after supper, we both eyed the little thingy speculatively. Off came the top of the tank, and out popped the old flusher thingy (flusher level to those who plumb). My husband’s words were (and again, I quote), “you pop this in, screw this on…um..wait maybe it screws the other way…no, maybe not.” (This was followed by a few choice, but unprintable words.)

To make a long story short, eventually, we (he) got the chain connected and reconnected and everything settled back into place. A test flush and bingo, down goes the test piece of toilet paper, and we’re back in working order.

Now that Mr. Plumber has proven his skills, wonder if I could sic him on the bathtub drain thingy. It doesn’t work. I’ll let you know when he gives me permission to tell that story.



A few years ago, after having minor surgery, a friend walked up to me at church and put something in my hand. The friend’s comment was that “I thought you needed this.”  It was a pin in the shape of a flower — gold setting with green stones.

Okay here’s the thing. I was speechless because (a) this friend is male, and (b) he could have no way of knowing my penchant for pins. I was absolutely gobsmacked as my New Zealand cousin-in-law, Jo, would say.

I’ve had a minor collection of pins since I was a kid and one of my brothers gave me two tiny gold mouse pins with diamond eyes, and another gave me a tiny ladybug with a topaz stone. So what is it with guys giving me pins? Not that I’m objecting.

This friend’s wife (who was actually my friend first…way back in our college days) sidled over and whispered (“He goes to antique and thrift shops and picks up these things, then gives them to someone who needs a lift.”) She was right…I did need a lift and I was touched that he recognized it.

About a month ago, I found an envelope in my mailbox at church. Inside it was a red rose pin with a signature “From your pin pals.” I knew who it was from. They’d been scouring thrift shops again.

While writing about these pins, I decided to snoop around to see how many I could find. As is typical, they’re strewn all over the place. Some are in jewelry boxes on my dresser, but the older ones are in various old jewelry boxes in the attics, including the one my oldest brother gave me when I was kid — with the twirling ballerina still in place.

Here are some of the pins I found:



Mice with diamond eyes

Wooden duck with name burnt in center -- probably from a brother or Dad

Pin made by Anne using puzzle pieces and feather