Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy 4th of July!

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On the Friday following our culinary trip to Germany, we found ourselves planning our second “international” dinner. The date (July 3rd) lent itself to an American themed meal. We celebrated the anniversary of our nation’s independence with a bonfire and BBQ.

To get into the spirit of the dinner, I spent the morning watching my all time favorite musical, 1776.

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This was followed by a viewing of Hamilton on Disney+ with Gracie as we prepared dinner.

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Zach was working late that night, so we just had Grace over for our 4th of July celebration.

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It was an easy themed dinner, as I just had to cook those well-loved and familiar foods from an all-American cook-out. Dinner consisted of hamburgers on the grill, potato chips and dip, macaroni salad, ambrosia salad, fruit pizza and cold soda. After last week’s menu, Tyler was in heaven with this more familiar fare.

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It was a beautiful evening to gather outside!

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Earlier in the week Toby made a fireworks run to load us up for our own personal firework show at Patchwork Farm. Like any man shopping for explosives, he went a little crazy, coming home with two boxes full of dangerous fun.

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The kids were thrilled!

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They couldn’t wait for the sun to go down so the real fun could begin!

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Our own, home-grown, fireworks show did not disappoint. Toby had purchased a wide variety of fountains, roman candles, high-in-the-sky boomers, and bottle rockets to keep our show going for hours.

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Rusty was our primary pyrotechnic guy, as he had the highest OSHA rating and was the most likely of the boys to run away from the burning fuse after lighting it.

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Gracie served as the DJ for our fireworks show, making sure we had a steady playlist of Lee Greenwood, Toby Keith, and Home Free, serving as the soundtrack of our evening.

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It was a wonderful night celebrating the land that I love with the people I love even more!

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Molly’s Missionary Message #6

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“God is in the details of the details of the details.”

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Molly and her missionary companion, Sister Seal.

This week has been FULL of tender mercies and miracles from God…

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The sister missionaries enjoy spending free time on temple grounds.

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But before I jump into that, I am going to start with sharing some random moments of missionary life:

° On July 4th we met as a district to play sports and games at a park.

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When we were playing ultimate frisbee I got a splinter in my foot. As I was about to get it out with a knife I sort of cut myself because it was a knife that I am not used to. One of the elders kindly helped me out with Band-Aids for the blood, and another helped get the splinter out of my foot. Don’t follow my example, kids!

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This is what happens when you play ultimate frisbee barefoot. When I asked Molly why she playing without shoes, she explained that her shoes were slowing her down and she couldn’t let the boys win. Lesson learned!

° There are 45 new missionaries coming in the next week or so, which is crazy! These additions will bring many changes with missionary companionships, and there will be 4 new zones. (The mission locations are breaking into smaller areas because there are so many missionaries. Each companionship will have a smaller area to cover.)

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The joy of Jesus Christ just radiates from these four sisters!

° Today we went shopping at Costco. It just wasn’t the same without the joy of free samples, but it’s understandable with life right now. We were walking around shopping when I noticed a lady struggling to bag a package of cooked chicken. My parents raised me to help when needed (Thank you parents!), so I walked over to help her out, not thinking much of it. As we were leaving Costco, that same sweet lady ran up to us and expressed her desire to pay for our groceries. She gave us some cash and I had to resist the urge to hug her right then and there. She was so kind, and in my eyes this was a tender mercy of kindness that meant the world to me!

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God is a merciful and loving Father both in the big things but also the small things. For example, on Tuesday, the nine-year-old boy we have been teaching was baptized. So was his younger sister. Both were baptized by their father.

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Baptism day for their young investigators.

I was humbled to watch the connection and love within this  family. I really felt the Spirit! (Their baptism occurred on the day I was celebrating my one month anniversary of being out in the field. What a perfect way to spend it!)

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Another tender mercy came yesterday. I was having an off day and struggling a bit. God knew this. He blessed me with small sources of strength and comfort so I could continue to press on. This added strength came through a devotional on Sunday night called “Bears and Prayers.”

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It was all about prayer and communication with God. It was a powerful devotional and it helped me to feel God’s love for me personally and individually.

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I know God loves each of us and He truly is in the details of both the ups and the downs of our lives.

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A visit to the Asian market for some fun international treats.

“He is in the details of the details of the details.”

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Molly ended her day, on the 4th of July, by watching fireworks from the balcony of her apartment. A beautiful view of the valley!

I love you all!

Never forget, God is good. Always good!

Dinner in Deutschland

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As part of our “Friday Fun-day,” we have continued on with our quarantine tradition of themed dinners.

Every Friday Grace comes over to take advantage of our speedier internet to teach her online ASL classes. She began teacher American Sign Language classes to children online when we were on lockdown, and the daycare was closed, as a way to bring in some income. She receives $30.00/student for a six-week class and is currently teaching four classes a week, back to back on Fridays. She has loved it, and we have loved having her hang out at the house every Friday!

We have correlated our themed dinners with her Friday visits so that she can join us for our culinary adventures. Zach joins us when his work schedule allows it.

We decided for our themed dinners over the summer months we would focus on international cuisine and do some traveling through our palate.

We kicked off our Friday Fun-day dinners with a trip to Germany. Having lived in Kitzingen, Germany as a little girl, this was a themed dinner I was excited to execute!

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Kitzingen, Germany: My home across the sea from first through third grade.

In preparation for our German dinner, I made a run to Five Below to pick up Kinder Eggs (the lame USA-approved safe ones, not the cool, “risky” ones I enjoyed as a child) and a variety of Haribo gummies.

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These would serve as our dessert for this dinner.

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When Grace was done teaching her online classes she helped me decorate the dinning room. It is amazing what can be done with pretzels and hot glue.

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We crafted the dining room into a German eatery!

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Then it was time to begin dinner. Our menu for the evening consisted of soft pretzels and mustard, homemade German potato salad, grilled brats, and bottles of “beer”…root beer, that is!

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The highlight of the meal was the Konigsberger Klopse. It was delicious! I’ve included the recipe below if you’d like to try it yourself.

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We dined to sounds of German Pub music, eliciting the comment from Rusty, “It almost feels like we are at Epcot.”

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It was definitely a Friday Fun-day!

 

Konigsberger Klopse (German Meatballs in Creamy Caper Sauce)

Meatballs

2 lb ground beef

1 lb ground pork

4 eggs, slightly beaten

1 14 cups fine plain breadcrumbs

12 cup milk

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

1 lemon (zest of)

1 lemon, juice of

3 tablespoons capers, chopped 

14 cup melted butter

1 teaspoon salt

12 teaspoon ground black pepper

Flour for rolling

 

Broth

1 (32 ounce) box chicken stock or (32 ounce) box vegetable stock

1 bay leaf

14 cup cider vinegar 

2 tablespoons capers (I used A LOT more!)

 

Sauce

1 lemon, zest of

1 lemon, juice of

1 cup good quality sour cream (full fat to prevent curdling)

14 cup snipped fresh parsley, for garnish

  1. In a large saucepan heat broth ingredients (stock, bay leaf, cider vinegar, and  capers) to a simmer over medium heat.

  2. Meanwhile, combine meatball ingredients, mix well.

  3. Form meat mixture into golf-ball sized balls (note: mixture will be a bit sticky and delicate to work with, but this is normal, and the result will be a moist and tender meatball!). Roll them in flour, and carefully place into hot broth; simmer each batch for 15 minutes, but do not boil. (Tip: do not crowd meatballs. Only simmer about 10-12 meatballs at a time). Note that the broth will thicken as you add the flour covered meatballs, which will make a nice sauce.

  4. Carefully remove meatballs from the hot broth with a slotted spoon, and keep them warm in a covered bowl stored in the oven while making the sauce. Discard bay leaf.

To Make Cream Sauce:

  1. To hot broth stir in the sauce ingredients and heat through, but do not boil.

  2. Add the cooked meatballs to the heated sauce, stir gently and warm through.

Exploring Middle Earth

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Ahh…the very best fun is summer fun!

As we made plans for this unusual summer, we began constructing lists of fun activities to do at home and fun places to visit in the area. We didn’t want to venture far in the midst of this pandemic so we decided to be hometown tourists. Some of the destinations on our list were places that none of us have visited before, but were ones we had heard about from friends. Others on the list were spots we enjoyed previously but hadn’t visited recently. This week’s destination fell squarely in the middle of those two categories. It was a place that I had visited twice before and LOVED, but it was a destination new for the boys. This past week we made plans to visit Panama Rocks.

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 Braden was still visiting familiy out of town, so it was going to be a three person road trip for “Travel Tuesday.” At the last minute Tyler decided to stay home and hang out with Gracie for the day, so in the end it was just Rusty and I hitting the road. It was fun having a full day of one-on-one bonding with Russ. We drove two hours north (just over the New York border) to Panama, New York…home of Panama Rocks Scenic Park.

Panama Rocks Scenic Park is advertised as, “An enchanting world of towering rocks, deep crevices and passageways, cool, cavernous dens, and small caves.”

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Formations are composed of conglomerate sedimentary rock, according to their website, and “extend about a half a mile and read upwards of 60 feet tall — one of the largest of its kind in the world.”

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There’s not many people in this day and age that aren’t familiar with the J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous trilogy, Lord of the Rings. Most of Tolkien’s well-known storyline takes place in the magical setting of Middle Earth, a fictional fantasy world that’s covered in vibrant green landscapes and mythical wonders. If the idea of not being able to visit this fantastical place has broken your heart, then no need to get upset…

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We found Middle Earth!

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And it is only a two-hour drive away!

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Operating since 1885, Panama Rocks Scenic Park is touted as one of the best outdoor attractions you’ll find in this area of New York.

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From deep crevices to cavernous dens, there was so much to see and explore in this extraordinary scenic park.

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Not only does the scenic park feature a one-mile long trail that leads visitors to fascinating places, off-trail exploring is also allowed here! Rusty and I were able to make our way through passageways and explore crevices that looked like places from a fantasy world.

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It was so nice. We had the place pretty much to ourselves. In compliance with local and state regulations, this privately owned park adhered to social-distancing guidelines by asking guests to pre-register for a time slot on their website before showing up. This new policy allows them to limit the number of guests exploring the park at any one time. It was wonderful, we saw nary a soul as we played among the boulders.

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One of the main reasons that this park is so eye-catching and unique is that the mosses and ferns stand in sharp contrast to the rough formations.

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It really was nothing short of magical and I found myself looking for the fairies and gnomes that I knew must call this fantasyland home.

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Pictures just don’t do justice to the awe-inspiring magnificence of this magical park. It really is another world and by far one of the most beautiful places I have ever been…And it was a joy sharing this special place with Rusty. We had a wonderful time making magical memories at Panama Rocks!

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“I’d Pick You”

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One of my favorite summer traditions is our annual excursion to Catalpa’s Farm for strawberry picking.

It is a tradition we have enjoyed for almost a decade!

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Soon after moving to the area, friends from church invited us to go strawberry picking with them at Catalpa’s. We had a blast filling our baskets with strawberries warmed by the sun, and reaping the rewards of our efforts for the remainder of the year, as we indulged in homemade strawberry jam and strawberry smoothies.

Since that first visit, we try to make this an annual event, loading up on strawberries for the year ahead.

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This annual excursion usually occurs the weekend of Father’s Day, which allows us to enjoy all sorts of strawberry treats for Toby’s trifecta of holidays that occur the third week of June. This year Father’s Day fell on our anniversary (June 21st), and Toby’s birthday is the 23rd. Thanks to our trip to the strawberry fields we were able to celebrate his special days with strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake and homemade strawberry ice cream…Yum!

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On Saturday morning we gathered our quart baskets for a morning of strawberry picking.

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Our large picking crew was reduced to just the four of us that were left at home…

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But Grace ended up joining us for the morning (since Zach had to work), increasing our numbers to 5 1/2!

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We arrived and were directed to our row of strawberry plants where we promptly got to work picking and eating…

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One for the basket…one for me…Yum!

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There is nothing better than eating ripe strawberries warmed by the sun…

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Tastes like summer!

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We worked for an hour, filling 29 quart baskets and eating another quart or two as we worked.

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While we were there, we ran into those very friends from church that first introduced us to Catalpa’s. Picking strawberries a few rows away were the Biernessers. After a quick “hello” we got back to work, filling our remaining baskets before the heat of the sun drove us out the fields.

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As is tradition, we ended our picking party with fresh strawberry slushies from the farmer’s market out front. They were delicious…a perfect reward for our efforts in the field.

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At home we turned our baskets of berries into pints of strawberry jam and strawberry syrup so that we will be able to enjoy the taste of summer all year long!

Molly’s Missionary Message #5

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I made it!

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 I can’t believe I have been on my mission for a month…It has been truly extraordinary!

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This week has been filled with great joy, learning, and laughter. This week I had my first baptism. It was a young man who was a miracle referral. It was a beautiful event that left me teary eyed.

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There was great love and support for him which was such a blessing.

We also had our first service opportunity (other than volunteering at the Bishop’s Storehouse.)

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We got to weed the bishop’s yard with his family. It was such a treat because with the pandemic, missionaries are in quarantine and have few opportunities to get out of the house. It is the greatest feeling to serve and bless the lives around you! After we were done weeding, the Bishop ordered pizza for us to pick up and take home.

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This act of kindness overwhelmed me with gratitude. Honestly, the smallest acts of kindness can mean the world to another!

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Sister Briones got a new companion this week, which was bittersweet.

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Luckily, we still get to see her a lot since Sister Seal and I have a car and drive Sister Briones and her companion where they need to go. We honestly get to see each other quite a bit. Her new companion is Sister Ayers. Sister Ayers served in Japan for 8 months before the virus got really bad and she was reassigned to the States.

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(Mosiah 2:17) “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

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It has been so humbling to see this scripture come to life. As I have served those around me, I have been blessed with great love towards them. I am filled with the Holy Ghost, which gives me joy! It has been such a blessing to have the opportunity to serve so many people even with, and despite, the virus. Moments of serving others and being served is a continual reminder that God is good, always good. He is aware of us and is always watching out for us! We are His children. He is our father.

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And He loves us more than we can even comprehend!

Sending big hugs your way,

Sister McCleery

 

Molly’s Missionary Message #4

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Hello!

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This week honestly has been quite bittersweet.

There have been some great “ups” like:

Sewing up the hole in my pants all by myself! (proud moment… haha),

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Magic syrup…a seasoning we love to cook with daily. (No one knows what is in it, but it tastes like happiness!)

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Visiting the temple grounds often during the week. (This is probably the greatest blessing!) Back at home the closest temple is a few hours away, so the blessing of having three temples in our mission area is the greatest joy!

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Enjoying the beauty of Utah. The other day there was a stunning sunset. My two companions and I went outside and bonded over a photography shoot.

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We have also enjoyed going on hikes. The mountains are breathtaking! They are one of the things that I adore about Utah, besides the great people and this mission.

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There were also some low moments: My trio companion Sister Briones is getting a new companion in the next few days. It is sad that she will be moving out. I adore her. At least we will get to keep giving her rides when we need to say hello!

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Another hard moment came this week when I received the sad news about my great grandmother’s passing… She was that amazing, firecracker, life-of-the-party person that I adore and will greatly miss!

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This week had its ups and downs, but in the end the good will always outweigh the bad. God is good and I know that He knows us personally and individually!

Alma 18:32 says,”Yea, and He looketh down upon all the children of men; and he knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart for by His hand were they all created from the beginning.”

I know God loves us. We are His children. He is aware of our ups and downs and is always with us… always! I love you all and so does our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ!

Here is a poem that I wrote and felt prompted to share:

“Miracles are God’s manifestation of His love in viewable form,
If we aren’t still and quiet, they can blend into the daily norm.
God places people in our path of life for a purpose and a reason,
Be humble and learn all you can, for that due personal season.

During this time on my mission, I have seen so many miracles each day,
I am so grateful and humbled… what more is there to truly say?
Everyday a challenge of some sort may push or stretch you,
But remember God loves you personally, and He sees the big picture too!

Today brought forth a miracle that fills me with the Spirit,
Our message is about Jesus Christ and we invite all to come and hear it.
We speak out of love for Jesus Christ and a true, deep passion,
Everyday we seek to walk in the shoes of Christ, which to the world is so out of fashion.

My invitation to you is to put action to your faith in some way or form this week,
For as we search and ask with a sincere desire, God will provide what we honestly seek.
Modern day revelation is true for this time and day,
I have received loving answers from the humble prayers I say.”

Sending big hugs your way!

– Sister McCleery

 

A Tribute to a Life Well-Lived

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This week was a sad one at Patchwork Farm, as we mourned the passing of my grandmother, affectionately dubbed G.G. by her great grandchildren.

It was just last year we were celebrating her 90th birthday in style, as family flew in from all corners of the country.

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It was at that celebration that we gifted G.G. with a scrapbook of photos and letters from family and friends. It was a tribute to a life well lived, allowing her to read the words of loved penned by the many lives she touched.

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Her death came quickly and unexpectedly, which might not make sense given her age, but G.G. has always had a bigger-than-life presence, and it felt as though death would never be able to catch her. Despite her age, her death came as a shock, and the accompanying grief has hit me hard. Her death represented the end of an era, and a closing of my childhood. She was the last of that generation of family. Preceded in death by other great aunts and uncles, my paternal grandfather, and my maternal grandmother and grandfather, she was my last living grandparent.

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I find my heart is aching with this loss.

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G.G. leaves behind her a legacy of love and life lived to the max. From the time I was small, G.G. represented fun. Knowing that she and my grandfather were coming for a visit meant a great adventure was on its way. Life was a party when G.G. was visiting. Daily routines were pushed aside to make room for crafts, day trips, and happy hour.

My childhood memories of visiting her home are some of my greatest childhood treasures.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from G.G.:

From G.G. I learned to love learning. She never tired of acquiring knowledge. She was an avid reader, a lifelong traveler, and never shied away from the newest technology or clever gadgets. She traveled the world with my grandfather’s job, but even after retirement she enjoyed exploring, traveling and seeking out new adventures.

From G.G. I learned the joy of feeding those I love. G.G. was an amazing cook. She appreciated the art of cooking and the delight of good food. Visiting G.G. always meant we’d be fed well. Some of my happiest memories are sitting at her kitchen island watching the women of the household prepare meal after meal for a holiday houseful. The kitchen was always the noisiest and most lively room in the house and usually ended up being the gathering place when G.G. was cooking.

From G.G. I learned the joy of creating. She was incredibly gifted, especially in the area of sewing and quilting. It seemed she was always in the midst of a project and always learning a new artform (that she then soon perfected!) Those she loved benefited from her love of creating beautiful things. In addition to the matching Christmas stockings she sewed for each member of the family, our homes are filled with her creations… from handmade dolls to quilted wall hangings.

From G.G. I learned the value of family. G.G. was fiercely independent and quite happy to be at home and busy working on her own projects, but she loved when family gathered. I have so many happy memories of summer visits to Aunt Marsha and Aunt Gretchen’s cabins on the water, where family would gather. Adults would sit around talking and laughing while the kids ran free. I have so many sweet memories from Christmases spent in Rome, NY and in later years, gatherings at the Homestead. I think that was her favorite thing about her final move to Ohio. She was close to family. She loved when we would all get together for a day of shopping and lunch in Wooster, or a summer cook-out in the barn.

And from G.G. I learned the art of having fun. G.G. was a walking, talking party. Wherever she went, the fun followed. Visits to G.G.’s house offered the promise of happy hour in the late afternoon, when chip and dip were set out on the table, Manhattans were poured, and the kids each got a Shirly Temple with a cherry. Visits with G.G. meant late nights, lots of laughter, and always an impromptu adventure, or two!

Hers was a life well lived, and her absence will be felt by many. How grateful I am to have been blessed by her example and her love. I look forward to the reunion we will enjoy someday. It will be quite the party in Heaven. Talk about the ultimate “happy hour!”

GG

Ann Harmon Real
(1929 –  2020)
On June 20, 2020, Ann H. Real entered into life eternal at her home in Danbury Senior Living, Wooster, OH of natural causes. 

Ann was born on June 14, 1929 in Albany, NY to parents Guy and Nellie (Overacker) Harmon.  On June 19, 1948, she and Dennis A. Real were married.  Ann lived in many places throughout the United States, including Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Panama, New York, Washington, Maine, Michigan, Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Jersey, and Florida.  She made a wonderful home for husband and children wherever they went. 

Ann enjoyed life, laughter and gathering with family and friends.  She had a great sense of humor and an energetic spirit.  She was insatiably curious and therefore a lifelong learner.  She loved people, putting everyone she met at ease with her friendliness.  A talented seamstress, she made beautiful quilts which she shared generously with others.  She enjoyed playing bridge with her group at Danbury.

Retiring to Rome, New York, she moved to Leesburg Florida upon Dennis’s death.  Her final move was to Wooster, Ohio where she lived at Danbury Senior Living where she was shown great love and care and was a member of St. Marys’ Catholic Church.

Ann was preceded in death by her parents, her husband and her sister.  She is survived by her two daughters, Denise Real (Jack Duggan), Jill (Paul) Janke, and her two sons, Michael (Nancy) Real and Andrew Real (Jane Wilson). She is further survived by 9 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild on the way.

The family would like to extend its appreciation to Life Care Hospice for their support and care during this period of loss. They are also thankful to those at Danbury Senior Living for the loving kindness they freely gave to her. 

Enjoying the beauty of Ohiopyle

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On day 2 of our two-day anniversary getaway we headed over to Ohiopyle State Park. Despite finding myself in this area of Pennsylvania every summer for girls camp, I never made it over to Ohiopyle.

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This weekend getaway gave Toby and I a perfect opportunity to visit this beautiful park and see what the hype was all about.

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It didn’t disappoint!

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This diverse park offered beautiful biking trails,

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Breathtaking waterfalls,

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Natural waterslides,

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Rocky crevices to explore,

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And stunning vistas.

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It was a beautiful park!

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It was a perfect day to soak up the beauty of the Laurel Highlands and enjoying some one-on-one time with my favorite person. Happy anniversary, my love. The last 23 years have been quite the adventure…

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Here’s to 23 more!

 

Celebrating 23 Years!

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This year Toby and I are celebrating 23 years of marriage.

Our original anniversary plans were killed by Covid-19 when the Alaskan cruise we had been planning for years was canceled. It turns out this year isn’t the year for a big celebration, but we couldn’t let the weekend pass by without celebrating 23 years of marriage in some way. Never has the need to get away and just be us been greater than this year. We have dealt with un-precedented amount of struggle in 2020 and Toby and I were both wanting to run away for a bit. Last weekend we decided that we would keep our anniversary getaway short, local, and safe by heading 90 minutes away to the Laurel Highlands for a few days.

Many of the local sites and attractions were still shut down, but this area of Pennsylvania offers an abundance of beautiful state parks and outdoor fun, so it was the perfect place to get away.

We stayed at the Log Cabin Inn and Suites. This motel boasts log cabin themed rooms with rustic charm, which made us feel like we were vacationing in the mountains.

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It also offered the added perk of being connected to Living Treasures Animal Park (Donegal).

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We love Living Treasures Animal Park in New Castle, Pennsylvania, but had never visited this location…and it was one of the few attractions in the area that was open!

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All overnight guests receive 1/2 off the cost of admission so we headed over there on Saturday to explore and enjoy the animals.

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This Living Treasures location isn’t quite as big as the one near us but it offered a wide variety of animals to observe and/or feed.

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We had so much fun interacting with all the critters that clambered near the fence, eager to be fed.

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It was a photographic feast.

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We especially loved all the baby animals!

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Can you spot the baby turkeys hovering near mom?

It was a zoo filled with prolific breeders!

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Babies, babies…everywhere.

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Day 1: Living Treasures Animal Park…

Day 2: Ohiopyle State Park!