Saturday, August 27, 2011

Toren Family Gathering

Sunday (after our time with the Melberg's at Mitch's wedding) we continued west toward Bird Island for a Toren Family Gathering (my mom's side of the family) . The children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and GREAT, great grandchildren of Harry and Adeline (my grandparents) reunited at Gary and Karen Toren's farm (my aunt and uncle).

Karen and I discussed a family reunion at Easter this year. I did the invitations, Karen did the real work and hosted, and last Sunday it all came together. The kids spent the entire afternoon in the pool with their second and third cousins. The adults gathered under an old Ford Motors tent borrowed from Dave Plass, the neighbor.

Below is my Uncle Dick (my mom's oldest brother) with his youngest daughter Deanna.

We poured over old photo albums. (My mom's sister Toots on the far right, Dick's other daughter Deb in the middle, and Toot's daughter Kris on the left. Toot's real name is Lorraine!).

Old albums are a true treasure. I hope someday this blog can serve a similar purpose.

My cousin Deb's daughter Jaleenah.

My cousin Christopher Toren's girls - Maggie and Addie - with root beer floats.

We played lawn games. Here is my Uncle Gary and Kris's husband Rick.Mark with Ann Toren, my oldest cousin Rick's wife.

And of course plenty of visiting.

As a child, I saw my aunts, uncles and cousins often - every holiday and many birthdays. I don't think any of them lived more than 30 miles away (the farthest being Olivia, 2 towns away). That is how it works in the country. We often saw each other at my grandpa's house in Bird Island. The stories of the children and grandchild of Harry and Adeline so fun to tell and hear.

Now we are grown, large in numbers, spread further, and with families of our own.

My mom was one of five kids, on the farm. There are 12 grandchildren. There are soon to be 22 great-grand-children (Brett and Rachel's baby should be here soon.), and 3 great-great grandchildren. My mom and her brother Curt are the youngest, but they were the first to leave us.

My cousin Rob is the farthest from us. He lives in California with his family, but is currently serving in the military in Afghanistan.

Brett and Rachel didn't make it, because they didn't know if the baby might present itself. It hasn't.

My grandparents moved to town long before my birth. Uncle Gary and his son Christopher still farm the family land, although the home farm has been gone for many, many years.

To close, it was a wonderful day. I hope we do it again next year!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Country Family Wedding

This weekend we had the pleasure of attending a Melberg family wedding. As you would guess, a large majority of my generation is married. They have kids themselves, and in the year's ahead, we will start to have graduations to attend.

This past weekend my Dad's youngest cousin's son, Mitch Melberg, got married. He is in his 20's, those ripe marrying years. I cannot say I have any sort of personal relationship with Mitch. I cannot say I watched him grow up. What I can tell you is, I am from a tight-knit, strong farm family. Getting married is an opportunity to rangle the relatives (distant and close), to gather, and to celebrate. It beats the alternative, which is funerals!

Mitch married a pretty girl named Miranda, and by all accounts they appeared very happy. I didn't get a photo. The truth is, as much as I wish the young couple well in their new life together... many guests are invited and come to celebrate the greater meaning of FAMILY - young and old, near and far, good and bad, the blessings and the hardships.

It is good to gather for the blessings. For those VERY FEW readers who are NOT of my family, I wish I had taken a picture of the venue, for historical purposes. The dinner and dance was hosted at the Lake Marion Ballroom. An old, pole barn like structure sitting on a country lake, with a gravel parking lot. This is your A-typical country wedding reception location. We ate a buffet of turkey and ham with mashed potatoes, gravy, corn, and stuffing, served from giant white roasters. We sat at long banquet tables.

Again, all of this is your standard small town wedding fair. We don't comment on the venue, or the menu, or the decor, because it is much the same as the prior wedding. We talk about family, kids, and life. We catch up. We smile. Men discuss the crops. We talk about who is there, and who couldn't make it. We talk about how long it has been...We talk about how we don't see each other nearly often enough. We have a good time.

The Melberg's of my generation drink free keg beer from a plastic cup, or a rail drink from the bar. Our spouses hope we don't drink too much. Sometimes some of us do, and sometimes some of us don't. (There was that rental-tux-shoe-tap beer thing for too many weddings is a row....)The generation before me sit next to their sisters (Jan and Shirley), or brothers. The adult kids are at the next table. We reserve the table next to us for our closest cousin's (or something like that).

The little kids act goofy.

They create distractions before dinner. The generation before me comment about how much they have grown, and how time flies.

After dinner the second cousins form a posse, even though they only see each other a hand full of times a year. They run in. They run out. They play like wild indians. (Please forgive me for not being P.C... this is reflection, so it fits.)

The parent's of my generation (me) hope the older cousins of the next generation (Mikayla and Mariah) are helping to watch their kids, because the city cousin (me) wants time to catch up with the country cousins she wishes she could hang out with more.

Eventually you coax the little kids inside and get them on the dance floor.

When the little kids are tired and begin the MELT DOWN, somebody takes them home.

The Thomberg's actually headed to Aunt Jan and Uncle Sheldon's to stay over. The little kids rejoined their second cousin's and had a GRAND OLD TIME sleeping in a tent, where they were looked after by their older second cousins. Mark and I retired to a nice comfortable bed in the guest room!

To all my wonderful relatives, it was a delight to see you! The time is always too short!

To the generation before me, do you see history repeating itself?
I am sure this is like a mirror image of weddings I attended with my mom and dad, at Marly and Dean's age.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I love thrifting. Thrift store items are sprinkled all over my house. I like spray painting. I scoure the aisles of Good Will and the Salvation Army with an eye for items that can benefit from a make-over. Thrifting is truly a hobby for me. You just never know what treasure you will find to transform.Above are some recent purchases.
Now let's go on a thrifting tour of our home!
Here is the tin (from the first photo) on my kitchen counter, with an Krylon Avacado face lift.
(p.s. - I am addicted to Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products.)

Here are some favorite thrifted kitchen and dining finds - all the milk glass AND the sterling silver tray!

(p.s. - I have an obsession with milk glass. It is a CHEAP obsession.)

I love the tray, and so does Mark. It cost $3.99, and was black with tarnish when I brought it home. Initially, I was going to spray paint it Satin Nickle, and add chalk board paint to the middle, hanging it for a kitchen message board. While everyone was napping one Sunday, I started polishing, and polishing. I purchased more product, and polished some more. When Mark woke up, I had a very pretty find, too special to cover with paint!

This porcelain basket is a fun kitchen table accessory - 'jazzing' if you will. It just needed a good scrubbing and some plastic fruit. At Christmas, it holds red and green glass bulbs.

The little white vase in the middle of the top Ikea shelf was $1.99. It's nothing special, but is a nice summer display addition. In case you are wondering... those are plastic Smurf figures from McDonald's Happy Meals on the lower right shelf. I am funny like that. I like to put things on display for the Twinners to notice later.

This tissue box in our bedroom is thrifted and spray painted with Oil Rubbed Bronze.

Here is my laundry tote around, also in Krylon Avocado - $3.99. It makes me happy to transport clean towels and undies up and down. And, when 'temporarily' gets parked in the living room or kitchen, it still looks cool.
Downstairs to the kids rooms - Krylon Ballerina Pink butterflies above the mirror, a milk glass lamp (from the first photo), and a mirrored jewelry tray (each with more pink spray).

(p.s. - I am searching for a smaller lamp shade. I had this one on hand.)

I bought two of these night stands above about two years ago. Dean's will become Krylon Almond. Marly's will be white. Dean's hardware will be Oil Rubbed Bronze.

Not pictured -

-Five picture frames with matting currently located in my trunk intended for a dino art collage to be placed above Dean-o's bed. The frames will most likely become Oil Rubbed Bronze with Almond matting.

-Four wooden chairs in our garage to go around a table in the downstairs family room, which cost $3.99 each. Perhaps I will spray each chair a different sprayed pop of color???

The most recent item I left behind -

-A retro green wicker truck with brass corner protectors for $9.99 that was in decent shape and might look great near the table downstairs, or in Dean's room. I might check back for it when I drive by next. If such a cool item hasn't been snatched up by a savvy thirfter, it was probably meant to be.

Perhaps we better not discuss what I spend on spray paint, for the smooth, even finish that results. I buy a can every time I get a 40% off coupon for Michael's Craft!

(p.s. - Tonight after supper you will most likely find me methodically moving around a blue tarp on our lawn, armed with a can a spray paint! Ready to "Jazz it Up!")

Monday, August 15, 2011

Our Weekend = Moving Day for Marly & Dean

We aren't to the "Jazzing it Up" stage of the Twinner's bedroom... BUT they OFFICIALLY moved downstairs on Saturday.
To get to this stage, I have been painting their closet doors (which are NOT yet complete and remain in the garage needing a second coat.)

Mark wrapped up the magenetic and chalkboard paint last week, and the walls earlier.

We started out with this on Thursday night, before the carpet came.

By Saturday at 11 am, I had their beds in their new home... but many tasks ahead.

Above - Dean's already owned white bedskirt getting a "tea bath" to better match his new dino bedspread.

We found a new lampshade for Dean, and he loves his dino Pottery Barn bedding.

Saturday afternoon we ran to Target, Home Depot and Ikea for our accessory search. $39 later, Marly had this Ikea light above in her new room!

Their original changing table from their room upstairs (and nursery before that), repurposed with the former bathroom mirror. And of course, thrifted and spray painted butterflies (which I bought months ago for 99 cents)!

The butterfly bed and "castle" tulling (as Marly calls it), courtesy of Nana and Papa.

*Still to do/Jazzing
- Window treatments for BOTH kids. We will be doing bamboo roman shades for Dean, and a double curain rod for Marly. (Notice the trashy sheets in the window reflected in Marly's mirror

- Put on the closet doors.

- Paint both nightstands, which I purchased from the Salvation Army many moons ago.

- Paint Dean's simple hand me down headboard from Carol an almond color with Krylon spray paint. (Marly's stayed white and is already in place.)

- Both kids have a little wooden table and chairs in their room. Mark came across the strudy children's furniture for FREE, but both need painting to match their room.

- Dean has a matching toybox that needs a make over. Marly's toybox was in their upstairs bedroom.

- Dean needs a fixture for his ceiling light. We are looking at repurposing a drum lamp shade... but haven't come across the right size/color yet. I do have one Walmart return to make.
- Marly needs a lamp shade for her thrifted milk glass lamp.
- Both kids need wall art.(which will include purchasing and painting thifft store frames).

- Thirfting and spray painting of random accessories.

Despite the long list of "jazzing" ahead, their first two nights in the lower level have been a success. Their beds both sit so they can see out their doors and view each other, but of course we can close both doors. So far, this seems to have combated some of the anxiety of the move and seperation. We also added a string of sensor night lights to illuminate the past upstairs.

Stay tuned for more to come. We won't talk about the upstairs mess of a 1/2 empty room yet.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What are we UP TO???

It's Friday, I lack photos... but wanted to remind even MYSELF what the Thomberg's have been up to.

-As we speak, a man from Home Depot is in our basement laying fresh carpet through out.

-Yesterday I set my own new Miracle Treat Day record for LEAST number of Blizzards consumed on one MTD. In it's 6 year history of MTD in North America, this is the first year I was a part of the general population participating in the event. I texted my former co-workers supportive messages, and Facebooked and Twittered about my sugary indulgences. I made an on line donation to Gillette promoted by the FOX 9 phone bank, my co-worker and I had a Blizzard at lunch, and we visited DQ as a family for dinner. I ran into a Gillette family at noon, and saw a DQ operator I knew at supper.... and beyond that, I watched the social media swirl around the event.

Here is our 2011 MTD photo...

Check out 2010

-I have been thrifting a bit here and there, and spray painting this and that odds and end decor items... for fun. There is a boat load of project I hope to do, or are waiting for me... but are nothing but dust collectors in my garage currently!

-Mark finished the chalk board paint in the kids' rooms and I am nearly done with the closet door transformation to white.

-Last weekend the kids and I headed to Lake Allie for the cousin's birthday's of Saxton and Wilson. I LOVE that we celebrate my cousin's kids birthdays. It is a GRAND excuse to gather as an extended family. At the lake, we ate and swam and went boating. The kids tubed and Dean got a jet ski ride with Grandpa. Dad, Brett, the Twinners and I headed home as the sun was setting. I didn't bring the camera.

-This weekend is rather event free. I think I see furniture movement up and down and all around ahead of us.

-I suspect pizza is in our future this evening with the Lyon's.

Stay Tuned and have a GREAT WEEKEND folks!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Miracle Treat Day Count Down

Miracle Treat Day is coming!

Go out and buy a Blizzard to support Gillette Children's or your local Children's Miracle Network hospital this THURSDAY!
No... I do NOT work at Gillette anymore.

No... I will not be up at 5 a.m on Thursday to promote the MTD on TV.

No... I will not purchase 5 or more Blizzards, just for myself.

No... I will not be eating my last mini Blizzard at the Woodbury DQ at midnight Thursday.

No... I will not get to help deliver Blizzards to the Gillette patients with the DQ CEO and Miss Minnesota.

No... I will not put 100's of miles on my car travelling to DQ's near and far on Thursday.

Yes... I still LOVE Gillette.

Yes... I will miss all the Gillette families on MTD.

Yes...I still recognize and admire the DQ corporation and the individual DQ operators for their generosity.

Yes... I will still promote the event.

Yes... I will ask my co-workers to get a Blizzard with me at lunch on Thursday.

Yes... I will take my family to DQ for supper and Blizzard treats for MTD.

Yes... I am proud to have been a big part of this amazing event from the BEGINNING!

Please help spread the word.

Miracle Treat Day is this THURSDAY!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sweet Corn

I love sweet corn. I suspect most every KID loves sweet corn. This Sunday we had our first local sweet corn of the season. We bought it at a vegetable stand/nursery along Hwy 10 on our return trip from the Huwe's house.

Today, my cousin's Matt and Mike grow Green Giant sweet corn (and peas). We didn't do this growing up though. I have vivid memories of buying our local sweet corn from the Elfring kids on Hwy 212, between Hector and Bird Island, on the south side of the road. My mom would pull over on the way back from our regular Saturday cleaning time (with Dee, Kris and Toots) at my Grandpa's in B.I.

The Elfring kids would sell it from the back of a pick up, parked in their field approach. Aside from their Green Giant crop, they grew a bunch of acres for their own personal sales. My mom use to allude they were saving their corn money for their collage fund. My mom always served the sweet corn with meat - hamburgers (pattied from the frozen Hector Meat Market ground beef in the deep freeze) or Schweigert hot dogs usually. Sweet corn was always for supper, and never for lunch. (But of course, lunch is dinner in the country. Back then, dinner was often a big, heavy meal for the working men.)

She would tell Brett and me if we didn't eat at least a few bites of meat with all those ears of corn, we would get the oopy-doopys! She was very serious about this. (Okay... my mom was never all that serious!)

Of course we rolled our sweet corn in butter, creating a mess of the dish. As an adult, Mark and I do the same with our own kids.

I remember summer as a kid thinking I could never get enough corn. I would have eaten it for every supper. I remember my mom shucking the corn outside on the step, with a brown paper bag in front of her. Usually, she broke the ears in half. I remember the big pot of water boiling on the stove. I remember the steam. I remember my mom running cold tap water over the corn to cool it off so we could eat it.

I do it the exact same way for my kids!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hanging with the H-we's

Our agenda for the past weekend - Spend time with the H-we's! It had been too long. Saturday we headed up to their house, grabbed Subway, and arrived in time for lunch.

Next up, soak up the sun and make the most of the waste deep creek and steamy weather!

The kids started out playing on the beach (created from sand loaded from somewhere else on the Schendzielos property). Then we started pulling weeds, and created our own mini "lazy river". Now let's get this party started!

Life is too good!

Dee (Gretch's mom) took this photo from the back deck of her house overlooking the winding creek and covered bridge.

The simplest moments can be the happiest moments.


Next P decided it was time to get to work gathering the creek weeds onto the beach.

I need help here!

Get more! Get more!

Bigger, Bigger!

Meanwhile, the mom's did this....

...and the pile grew.Next there were clam shells to gather.

And some sort of competition between the boys and the girls.Eventually, the sun began it's dip in the sky. Gretchen had headed up to the house to prepare a delicious supper of pounded, marinated, seasoned chicken breasts and plenty of fresh garden vegetables with herbs. I am sure I have mentioned Gretch is a fantastic cook.

Oh, and of course there is ALWAYS the golf cart, and a ride... or two.. or three. Early and late.

Sunday morning the kids went out to play - shoeless, in their PJ's. No time for breakfast at first. Gretchen and I headed to her neighbor's/relative to purchase farm fresh eggs - two dozen for the Thomberg's please. We made a detour to the antique boutique in Clear Lake before heading back to the house.

And then, it was time to moosey back to suburbia... and TAKE A NAP!

All I can say is this has been a GLORIOUS summer. I am not complaining about the heat and humidity, instead...I am embracing it, and loving it.


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