Saturday, December 24, 2011

Grandma Vandlen's Flying Kitten!

Meet Miss Minny!

The kids were playing with Miss Minny and you would not believe  how she leaped in the air and was practically flying. We were all laughing so hard!
 Here she is playing.
 Getting warmed up!
 I tried to capture it. Caught her almost out of the pic.
 Caught her on the way down.
 Heading towards her toy.
 There she is! Awesome pic right?!!!!
 She was really high this time. Did not get all of her in this shot though.
Miss Minny under the Christmas tree.

Animals sure are entertaining!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My Wonderful Present

I received a wonderful present from my Mother-in-law and Father-in-law.
I have always wanted one of these runner sleds for my porch to decorate at Christmas time.

I bought the arrangement at Hobby Lobby and then I had some ribbon and I made the bow all by myself! Wowser! It actually turned out pretty good.

Thanks Mom and Dad for the sled!

Sleds originally were an important transportation tool that facilitated the movement of goods and people on frozen surfaces where wheels often did not work. Early petitions were made to the British to allow sliding on Beacon Hill. Later, sleds were used to transport heavy cannon in the early years of the Revolution to oust the British from Boston.
Like many work activities, sleds became used for recreational purposes.

The Flexible Flyer Sled, the iconic toy of films such as "A Christmas Story," was the brainchild of a Pennsylvania Quaker farm implements manufacturer named Samuel Leeds Allen. Allen worked with his father, John C. Allen, from a crafts barn on "Ivystone," his working farm. The inspiration for the sled came from his love of sledding and his experiences at Westtown Boarding School and Friends' Select School in the late 1850s. Sledding, or "coasting," was a popular winter pastime during the 1800s. S.L. Allen's children served as testers for each new sled design.

Allen's Motivation

  • S.L. Allen had a practical reason to design sleds, in that he wanted to provide work for his employees at the manufacturing facility. Farm equipment was a seasonal business: it sold well when farmers were not actively involved in working their farms, during the winter months. The summer and fall months left Allen workers waiting for new projects. He did not want his employees to leave for occupations with a full-year employment.

Early Sled Prototypes

  • Allen gave each sled design a unique name, including the sleds that failed to go into widespread production. During the mid-1880s, Allen designed three early sleds, the "Phantom," "Fleetwing" and the "Aeriel." The models, which held six to eight adults, never went into commercial production, but they established the design principles that would guide the creation of the Flexible Flyer.

Fairy Coaster Sleds

  • The "Fairy Coaster" was manufactured in 1888, but not in significant numbers. This sled was offered in two different models, the deluxe and the basic, the difference between the two being the deluxe's fabric padded seat and the selling price of each. The deluxe model "Fairy Coaster" sold for a pricey $50 in 1888.

Flexible Flyer Sleds

  • The "Flexible Flyer" was patented February 14, 1889. Its features included a pair of steel runners with a bendable spot halfway down the slide. The first sleds did not sell well against the competition from the "Swift Glider," "Storm King," "Safety" and the "Lightning Glider" sleds. Allen manufactured no sleds for the next few years. When the "Flyer" was manufactured again, sales figures increased greatly.

Sales Challenges

  • Allen felt that sled production during the summer months would provide a "bridge" product to keep his workers busy. His sales force disagreed and, during the first few years of production, they were difficult to sell because salesmen were marketing the sleds in the same manner, and to the same retail farm implement locations, as the company farm machinery. Allen changed that by marketing the sleds to the toy departments of Wanamaker's and R.H. Macy Company department stores. By 1915, nearly 2,000 sleds were sold in one day, with an expected total that year of 120,000.

Company Changes

  • Sledding experienced a decline in popularity, and in 1968, the Allen Company was sold to Leisure Group of Los Angeles, California, which continued to manufacture the sleds from Medina, Ohio. A group of investors, including some employees, purchased the sled manufacturing operations in 1973 and continued to make the sleds under the "Blazon Flexible Flyer" name. These sleds are still sold today.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

First Annual Girls Weekend!

My friends from Cadillac came down for a girls weekend this past weekend! We had so much fun and it is always nice to get together. I love spending time with my friends. The Spoonies are who I went to school with and played softball with. They are family to me. This family is so loving and kind and always accepts anyone. They love you for who you are. Their hearts are so ginormous! Full of compassion, commitment, kind, loving, responsible, funny, the kind of people who will always be there for you! 
As you may know in one of my earlier posts, almost two years ago I have reconnected with my Buddy, Sandy. We were in the same grade and were great friends in HS. We also were on the Varsity Softball team our Freshman year together and in our Senior year, we were captains on the team.
I love this family and they mean the world to me!!!!!! 

Back to details on the weekend.

Some of you might recognize who this person is. His name is Bill Gaither from the Gaither Vocal Band. My friend Sandy is a great fan and I can see why. I have seen them on TV and have heard them on the radio but it is awesome in person!
Sandy got tickets for her and I to go to this concert in Grand Rapids at the Van Andel Arena. There were several people there. The Martins, Phelps, Lowry, and some others I cannot remember all the names right now. It is always nice to worship God and this was a great concert.
Sandy got the tickets and then we decided to make it a fun girls weekend and you will see in the next few pictures and story of how much fun we had!

 We went to Rivertown Crossings Mall in Grandville, MI and had so much fun shopping!
Annie, Janny, and Sandy (The Spoonies) shopping for some shoes.
I wonder if these shoes are comfy?

 We went back to the hotel after shopping and relaxed about an hour before we headed out to Kobe Japanese Steakhouse. The Spoonies Cousin (Marsha-the one in gray) lives close to the area we were at, so she happened to stop by and visit and went out to dinner with us.

A few of us rode in a Taxi to Kobe and some rode with Marsha. We divided up because we already called a taxi and thought we better keep it. So, Sandy, Janny and I rode in this taxi and the guy did not know where he was going. So, Shelly (me), aka the GPS had to give directions. LOL
 Here are the girls at Kobe before our Chef arrived to entertain us.
Billy, Annie, Janny, Sandy, Marsha
 Here I am in the picture now. We had a nice girl from the table next to us take our picture!

 We had drinks!
 Great Chef with great cooking skills!
 The very delicious Shrimp, with veggies and fried rice and noodles.
Mouth watering just looking at it!
 Sandy and I

Now the next few pictures are when we were heading back to the hotel. The Spoonies Cousin, Marsha, gave us a ride back in her car. You will see how we actually had one too many passengers but made it and had a blast back to the hotel. Oh the joys!
 The Spoonies!
Janny, Annie, Sandy
My Family!
This is one side of the back seat.
 Okay, other side of the back seat.
Billy and Janny
The awesome driver!
 Crazy front passenger-yepper, that is me!
 Oh wait! I think I can all you girls in one picture!
Yep!!!! Thanks to Billy scooting in closer. LOL
BTW-I met a couple new people. It was nice to meet Billy and get to know her and also Marsha. These young ladies are a lot of fun too!
Can't wait until we do this again next year!
We had so much fun!

I know I will see them before the next years shopping trip which is great!

Friends come into your life for a reason, and it is either for a moment in time, a season or a lifetime. I am happy to say that these great girls are there for the long haul!

Love ya ladies!
aka-the adopted Sister. :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Ladies Christmas Brunch

Amanda and I had a lovely time at the Ladies Christmas Brunch of one of my great friends Church, Karen. She is awesome! Love her!

Here are a few highlights of the fun! We had a nice brunch, played some games, names were drawn for a gift and then there was a little singing and fun.

 Kaitlyn and her Mama-Karen
 Carol and Karen-Sisters
Both are a lot of fun!
 Nicole (aka Colie) and her Mama-Karen
Karen was blessed with twin girls.
 Karen and I
Friends since 1982
Friends for 29 years! Wowsah!
I am truly blessed!

Amanda and Colie

We had lots of fun! Very nice thing to do for the ladies.

What fun it was to watch these girls perform. They all blend really well together when they sing.

Jesus is the reason for the season!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just wanted to say that I am thankful for my family, friends and my life! I am wishing you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and may you be richly blessed with your family and loved ones at this special time of year.

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Family

 My Daughter Amanda and I.
 Shawn, Mason, Mitch and I (my boys)
 Tom and Amanda
 Tom, Shawn, Mason, Mitch
 Mason, Mitch, Shawn, Amanda
All in the Family
Tom and I
Would you believe that Tom and I met on
Two people fell in love, our kids got along great (and still do)!
Interesting the path of life and where it takes you! I am happy/consider myself truly blessed to have the family that I have.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Common Milkweed (Syriaca)

I took this picture of this milkweed out by our pond. I thought that it looked really cool and would make a great picture. I decided to post it and give you a little info on the milkweed. There are so many different kinds if you just look up images and then try to find what they are good for.

If you want to learn a little something, read up on what I posted below. Pretty interesting!

The Common Milkweed (Syriaca) is generally described as a perennial forb/herb. This is native to the U.S. (United States) .

Uses of : Landscaping, Medicinal, Culinary, etc.

Warning: Milkweed may be toxic when taken internally, without sufficient preparation.
Ethnobotanic: People have used milkweed for fiber, food, and medicine all over the United States and southern Canada. Milkweeds supply tough fibers for making cords and ropes, and for weaving a coarse cloth. Milkweed stems are collected after the stalks senesce in late fall-early winter. The dried stalks are split open to release the fibers; milkweed fibers are sometimes mixed with fibers of Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum). The bark is removed and the fibers released by first rubbing between the hands and then drawing the fibers over a hard surface. Twisting the fiber opposite each other and twining them together forms the cord. Often this is accomplished by rolling the fibers on the thigh while twisting them together.
The young shoots, stems, flower buds, immature fruits, and roots of butterfly milkweed were boiled and eaten as a vegetable by various indigenous groups of eastern and mid-western America. The Meskwaki steam the flower buds as a food source; they are nutritious but not considered very flavorful.
The Cherokee drank an infusion of common milkweed root and virgin’s bower (Clematis species) for backaches (Moerman 1986). The Cherokee, Iroquois, and Rappahannock used the sap to remove warts, for ringworm, and for bee stings. The Cherokee used the plant as a laxative, an antidote for gravel and dropsy, and an infusion was given for mastitis. The Cherokee took an infusion of the root for venereal diseases. The Chippewa made a cold decoction of common milkweed root and added it to food to produce postpartum milk flow. The Iroquois took an infusion of milkweed leaves for stomach medicine. A compound decoction of plants was taken to prevent hemorrhage after childbirth by the Iroquois. The Menominee ate the buds or a decoction of the root for chest discomfort. The Ojibwa used the root as a female remedy. The Potawatomi used the root for unspecified ailments.
Common milkweed was used by the Meskwaki as a contraceptive (Kindscher 1992, Erichsen-Brown 1979, De Laszlo and Henshaw 1954). A Mohawk anti-fertility concoction was prepared by boiling a fistful of dried, pulverized milkweed and three jack-in-the-pulpit rhizomes in a pint of water for 20 minutes. The infusion was drunk at the rate of one cup an hour to induce temporary sterility (Kindscher 1992).
Milkweed species as a group are known to contain cardiac glycosides that are poisonous to humans and livestock, as well as other substances that may account for their medicinal effect. Resinoids, glycosides, and a small amount of alkaloids are present in all parts of the plant. Symptoms of poisoning by the cardiac glycosides include dullness, weakness, bloating, inability to stand or walk, high body temperature, rapid and weak pulse, difficulty breathing, dilated pupils, spasms, and coma.
Wildlife: The cardiac glycoside in milkweed has also been useful as a chemical defense for monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). Chemicals from the milkweed plant make the monarch caterpillar's flesh distasteful to most predators. Monarch butterflies are specific to milkweed plants; this is the only type of plant on which the eggs are laid and the larvae will feed and matures into a chrysalis. Eggs are laid on the underside of young, healthy leaves. Monarch, Queen, and Viceroy butterflies are Müllerian mimics; all are toxic, and have co-evolved similar warning patterns to avoid predation. Milkweed species are attractive to many insect species, including the large milkweed bug, common milkweed bug, red milkweed beetle, blue milkweed beetle, and bees. Accordingly, this is a wonderful horticultural plant for landscaping to attract butterflies (particularly monarchs), whose numbers are declining and migratory routes changing due to lack of appropriate habitat.

General Characteristics

General: Milkweed Family (Asclepiadaceae). Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is a perennial herb growing from a deep rhizome. The hairy stems are usually solitary from a simple to branched and thickened base, and are 6-20 dm (1.9-6.5 ft) tall. The opposite leaves have broadly ovate to elliptic blades that are 10-20 cm (3.9-7.9 in) long and 5-11 cm (1.9-4.3 in) wide. The leaves are sparsely hairy above and densely hairy below, and the petiole is 0.2-1.4 cm (0.08-0.77 in) long. The inflorescence occurs in the upper leaf axils, and there are 20-130 flowers per inflorescence. The flowers are small, 11-17 mm (0.4-0.7 in), and bloom from May to August. The five petals are green to purple-tinged, and are topped by a crown of five erect lobes that are rose to purple, rarely white. The fruits are spindle-shaped follicles covered with soft hairs. The small, round, hairy seeds are 6-8 mm (0.2-0.3 in) in diameter.

Required Growing Conditions

For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site. This plant grows throughout the Great Plains ecoregion from southern Canada south to NE Oklahoma, NW Georgia, and Texas, and east from North Carolina to Maine.

Cultivation and Care

Adaptation: Common milkweed grows in sandy, clayey, or rocky calcareous soils. It occurs along the banks or flood plains of lakes, ponds, and waterways, in prairies, forest margins, roadsides, and waste places. This species hybridizes with showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa).
Common milkweed is easily propagated by both seed and rhizome cuttings. Both seedlings and cuttings will usually bloom in their second year, although cuttings will occasionally bloom during their first year. Seeds and plants are available from many nurseries. Common milkweed increases by underground shoots and can be invasive. It is ideal in semi-dry places where it can spread without presenting problems for other ornamental species.
Propagation from Cuttings: Propagation by cuttings of the tuberous rhizome is easy and reliable. The cuttings should be made when the plant is dormant. Each piece of the rhizome should have at least one bud (they are about two inches apart). Timing of propagation is important. Harvest or divide plants and get the plants in the ground by late fall so they can develop enough root growth to survive the winter. Irrigation the first year will improve survival, and by the second year the root system should be well enough established so plants will survive on their own.
Both seedlings and cuttings will usually bloom in their second year, although cuttings will occasionally bloom during their first year (Kindscher 1992).
Propagation from Seed: Common milkweed is easily propagated from seed. Process as follows: 1) Collect seeds after the pods have ripened, but before they have split open. The seeds are wind dispersed, so be careful when gathering to place in a paper or burlap bag to avoid losing them. 2) Eliminate weeds before planting. Strip off any sod. Cultivate the soil to a fine tilth, firm the soil by treading or rolling, and rake lightly. 3) Seeds can be directly sewn into the ground in the fall. Sow the seed mixture (with fine sand for even distribution) at a rate of 1/8 oz per sq. yd (4 g per sq. meter) or as advised. 4) If planting in flats or in a greenhouse, common milkweed seeds should be cold-treated for three months. 5) The seed is very viable. It is not certain how long you can store the seeds and maintain their viability. 6) During the first summer, weed invasive plants and water as needed.

General Upkeep and Control

Milkweed is burned in the fall to eliminate dead stalks and stimulate new growth. Burning causes new growth to have taller straighter stems (with longer fibers). It also stimulates flower and seed production.
When used for fiber, milkweed is collected in the autumn after the leaves have begun to fall off, the stalks turn gray or tan, and the plant dries up. If the milkweed stems will break off at the ground it's time to harvest. Breaking off as many stalks as possible encourages resprouting in the spring. The dried stalks are then split open and the fibers are twisted into string. Vast quantities of fiber plants are required for nets, regalia, and cordage

Read more: Common Milkweed Plant Guide | Syriaca Plant Information | Garden Guides

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Look Beyond!

Photo by Shelly Vandlen

As I took this picture I thought about focusing on the tree. As I focused on the tree and take the picture, it makes you also look beyond to see the beauty beyond the tree.
Do we do that as humans? When we see someone do we judge them by how they look right away or do we look beyond? I know for a fact that when I look at someone at first you see the outward appearance. Then when you start to get to know them, you are able to see more of who they are. Their personality, the troubles that they may be dealing with and just really getting to know that person.
I know that there are certain people that just don't mesh with everyone, but that does not mean we can't be kind and courteous to one another.
Photo by Shelly Vandlen
As you see in this picture. I focused more on the leaves and looked beyond the tree.
You can definitely see the beauty there!
When I look at people, I try to see the whole person.
We are very lucky that God does not look at just the outward appearance. He loves each and every one of us for who we are-inside and out!