Sunday, January 30, 2011

On Packing Light

When it comes to suitcases, I can get very defensive. I don't like to pack on the light side. I always take too much stuff with me on every trip. I can't help it. Don hardly takes a thing. From years of travel, he has learned to survive on one pair of underwear for the week. Just kidding, but it's not far from the truth. We've gotten into many scuffles over whether or not I can check my bag. He hates to check bags, and he only does so under extreme circumstances.

I'll never forget the trip we took to the Caymen Islands two years ago. It was for my 50th birthday. It was just the two of us. I had all these nice outfits picked out to pack. We were only going to be there for three nights, but I needed to check my bag. I couldn't fit it all in a carry-on, and I had more liquids than would fit in a ziploc bag.

I had everything laid out on the bed when Don called. He was on his way home from the airport from a business trip. We were leaving the next morning, and the weather report said we were expected to get a very big snowstorm that night. Don said travel would be touch and go. We needed to carry our bags on the plane in case our flight got messed up.

He didn't see my eyes tear up. He didn't see how disappointed I was. I just said, "yes dear," and got off the phone. I sobbed, actually, as I put half my wardrobe back in the closet and half my cosmetics back in the bathroom. I didn't want to leave all that stuff at home. Even though it wasn't his fault, I was muttering under my breath: "'ll just have to look at me in the same outfit all week..."

I got over it, of course, and we had a great time. We leave tomorrow for six days in Florida. I told Don I would carry on my bag, but he couldn't put anything in it. (He sometimes tries to do that to me.) He said he would take a carry on bag too, and it would have room to spare for me to bring a few things back from the trip. What a nice husband.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Risky Business

When Don does dangerous things, he tells me not to worry. He reminds me that he has plenty of life insurance. The first time he told me this, he had a belt fastened around his waist. I was holding the belt, and he was hanging out a second-story window trying to pry the shutters from the house. He wanted to paint them. He told me to hang on. I was sorely tempted to make him promise me all kinds of things. He was in a very vulnerable position. He was lucky I didn't let go when bees started flying around his head. He forgot to check behind the shutters for nests.

Last night, Don and I were home alone when I heard a dripping sound in the kitchen. It was our roof leaking again. Every once in awhile ice builds up on our roof and water trickles in through the ceiling. To stop the leak, Don has to go out on the roof and chip away at the ice with a big axe until it is gone. Usually, I stay close by so I can hear him yell if there is a problem.

Just after discovering the leak, I had to run out the door to my haircut appointment. Don got his jacket and gloves. He was heading up to the roof in the dark by himself with no one home. I said, "Why don't you wait until I get back." He said, "Don't worry, I am worth more dead than alive." So I got in my car and drove away. Was that bad of me? I really needed a haircut.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Things I'm Not Going to Do

I used to want to do everything, try everything, dabble in everything. The older I get, the more I realize it is better to focus on the things I enjoy rather than try to do things just because someone else can do them. Here is a list of some things I am just not going to do:

1) I am not going to plant a garden. I don't even want to plant flowers in my containers. It is just too sad to watch them die again.

2) I am not going to run a marathon. I have never been very good at running. The longest distance I ever ran was 3 miles. I couldn't get past 3 miles, and that was a very long time ago.

3) I am not going to swim laps. I almost drowned when I was 12. That stifled my swimming enjoyment for the rest of my life. I have tried to get over it, but it is no longer worth the effort.

4) I am not going to cook recipes that contain more than 8 friendly ingredients. Too much chopping and measuring takes all the fun out of the meal.

5) I am not going to ski. I retired a few years ago. The skis are still in the closet, but I made sure I don't have a ski outfit available just in case someone tries to coerce me into going out there again.

6) I am not going to play the piano or any other musical instrument for that matter. I wanted to play the piano when I was 10, but we didn't have a piano, so that was that.

7) I am not going to play golf. I put this one here to see if Don is really reading my blog. I will know if he brings this up at the dinner table.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26, 1963

Oh to be four years old again! Well, I don't know if I really want to go through all that again. Probably not.

Here I am at my 4th birthday party. I must have been making a wish while blowing out my four candles. My eyes are closed, and I have a very determined look on my face. Michael was being a nice big brother by helping me get enough wind.

The last time anyone baked a cake for my birthday was 32 years ago. This was well before I was married and had children. I'm not complaining or anything.

Tammy did show up at my door this morning at 8:30  with something similar to a birthday cake. The best thing about it was it contained zero calories. She put a candle in the straw hole of a McDonald's Diet Coke and lit it. When I opened the door, she was standing there holding it. I didn't take a picture of her or she would have killed me. She was still in her pajamas. So I took a picture of the "cake".

I enjoyed sipping it all morning long - after I blew out the candle and replaced it with a straw.

It's things like this that take the sting out of growing another year older. All I could do was laugh.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pack of Coyotes

I had just fallen asleep last night when a noise from outside our bedroom window startled me straight out from under the covers. I yelled for Don to wake up. We both got out of bed, along with Riley (who has been sleeping under the bench at the foot of our bed these days).

We went to the window, but it was too dark to see. From the sound of it, all I could imagine was a pack of coyotes surrounding its prey, ready to devour. They were howling, barking, snarling and fighting. It sounded like at least six of them. The whole incident lasted about 60 seconds, but it was terrifying to me.

After the noise stopped, we got back in bed. Riley nestled back under his bench, and Don was asleep within seconds. I, on the other hand, stayed wide awake. How could I go back to sleep? My adrenaline was pumping. All I could think was ... Riley can't go outside after dark any more...those coyotes will get him.

This morning, I told Riley he couldn't eat his breakfast until the sun came up. I wasn't about to let him out in the dark. I fully expected to find a dead carcass in the yard. I did go out and investigate later. The only evidence I could find was a spot in the yard that looked like lots of footprints in a circle. It was right outside our bedroom window.

I've seen coyotes around here, but only one at a time. It frightens me that there was a group of them so close to our house! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My First Boule

I finally got up the nerve to bake some bread. Pam gave me a recipe that looked foolproof and simple. The only catch is you need to plan two days in advance. The dough is prepared a day and a half before you want to bake it. Since I was going to be home most of the weekend, it turned out to be a good time to try.

You won't believe how easy this bread is to make. The hands-on time is about 5 minutes. The rest of the work is done behind the scenes. One thing you will need before you bake this bread is one of those cast iron pots I posted about here: Cast Iron Pot. Make sure the lid handle is oven proof to 440 degrees Fahrenheit.

Other than that, all you need is bread flour, yeast, salt and water. Here is the recipe:

Crusty French Bread Made Easy -- Very Easy!

3 cups Bread flour or King Arthur all purpose flour
1 1/2 t. sea salt (fine)
1/4 t. instant yeast
1 1/3 c. water (right out of the tap)

Mix flour, salt and yeast in a large bowl. Add water. Stir with a spoon or spatula until completely incorporated. Mix it with your hands to be sure. Cover bowl and put it in a warm location for 18-24 hours.

Sprinkle top of dough with flour. Flour your hands and remove dough from bowl. Turn dough into a boule (rounded mound). Cover with a towel for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

This is the boule

Preheat the oven and the cast iron pot (lid and all) to 440 degrees for 30 minutes before you want to bake the bread. Remove pot from oven after 30 minutes and place the boule upside down in pot. Replace lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking for 15 minutes or until desired color.

Cool on a cooling rack for at least one hour before slicing (very important).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Wrong Way

All my life I have been directionally challenged. You can count on me to turn the wrong way in any situation. I should wear a sign on my back that says, "Don't follow me." I know my family members are laughing right now. My sister is laughing especially hard because it took me six years to remember how to get to her house. What she doesn't know is that I still have a cheat sheet in my car! That's what she gets for living in such a remote, rural location.

I have counted on Peter since he was as young as 5 years old to tell me which way to go. Even then, he just knew how to get back to where we started.  Katherine and Don can do it too.  Daniel, on the other hand, may have inherited the bad gene.

I have to drive to a location on average 4 or 5 times before I remember how to get there. Then, if I don't visit within a year, I have to start the process all over again. When I park my car, I always memorize where it is so I can find it later. When I went to the Fair this fall, I truly wanted to drop breadcrumbs. I was sure I would not find my car in that sea of vehicles parked in a field. But the breadcrumbs wouldn't have lasted long with all those animals running around.

Before the advent of the marvelous GPS, Don insisted I have a compass stuck to my windshield. This wasn't because he thought knowing what direction I was going would help me in a crisis, it was so that when I called him for help, I could tell him if the needle was pointing to the N, S, E or W. It is a hopeless situation which has made me fearful of venturing out on my own.

I cannot picture a map in my mind to save my life. If you are going to give me directions, you have to tell me things like, "after you go up the big hill, you will see a red barn on the right. Just past the barn, turn left into the long driveway lined with pine trees."

The only comfort I have is in knowing I am not alone. There are many people out there like me. That's why someone invented the GPS. It has saved me on more than one occasion. Now I hear there is a portable GPS you can carry around in your purse. I might have to put that on my next wish list.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Brrrrrrr! I was just outside with Riley, romping in the snow. I lasted about 30 seconds. It is really, really, cold out there. The only redeeming factor is that the sun is shining. That makes it all better. The other thing that can make it all better is a steaming cup of hot chocolate.

This made me think of a hot chocolate recipe that someone had given me ages ago when I was a parent volunteer at the library. She gave me a jar of the hot chocolate mix one Christmas. It was very good, so I asked her for the recipe. I thought I had lost the recipe, but I dug through all my stuff, and I found it! This makes a lot. Don't quote me on this, but I think it is healthier than Swiss Miss.

Hot Chocolate Mix

5 1/2 c. nonfat dry milk
2 1/2 c. (16 oz.) Nestle Quick (in powder form)
1 c. Light Coffee Creamer
1 1/2 c. Powdered Sugar

Mix all ingredients together. Store in an airtight container. Use 1/4 c. mix with 8 ounces of hot water.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Tennis Lessons

After eight tennis lessons, I am starting to show some improvement. My forehand is actually pretty good as long as the ball is hit right to me. My backhand still needs a little work.

The technique I am having the most difficulty with is what they call "volley". This is where you have to stand closer to the net and punch the ball back. Don smacked me in the nose with a ball going 50 mph this morning. It is dangerous up there.

For the life of me, I can't make my right foot go forward on the backhand punch and the left foot go forward on the forehand punch. It just doesn't come naturally. Greg, our instructor, is very patient. He only makes positive remarks. He says it will come to me if I keep at it.

At the end of each lesson, we practice our serves for ten minutes. My serve isn't too bad. No one is going to have a difficult time returning the ball to me because it goes over the net in slow motion, but I manage to get the ball into the box most of the time.

When there are five minutes left in the hour-long lesson, it is time to "clean-up, clean-up, everybody, everywhere" (remember that song)? There are over 300 loose tennis balls covering the court by this time. If we had to bend over and pick up all those balls one by one, we'd have great hamstring muscles, but bad backs.

So, I am terribly grateful for whoever it was that invented the lovely tennis ball hopper. The three of us can pick up 300 balls in five minutes without even bending at the waist. All you have to do is put the hopper over the ball and push down. It magically picks up the ball! The hopper holds about 85 balls, but after 50, I can't lift it any more, and I dump the balls into the large rolling basket. It makes clean up time so much fun!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

365 Promises

In the Tuesday night Bible study I attend, one of the homework questions this week had to do with the promises of God. As I was thinking about the question, I did a Google search of God's promises to see what came up, and I found this website. It is actually a blog.

Each day, on a beautiful photograph, is a promise from the Bible. In the commentary below the picture, the Bible verse is quoted from various Bible versions. If you like the photograph, you can order it right from the blog through Smug Mug. The 4 x 6 prints are 1.99, 5 x 7 are 6.99 and 8 x 10 are $9.99.

I guess you can also steal the photographs, because that's what I just did here. Trust me when I say, the only reason I did that was to show you what it looks like. I promise not to print it out!

Today's promise is: I will bless your life and keep watch over you always from Numbers 6:24.

You can subscribe to the blog and have one promise delivered to your email each day. That's what I did.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

S'more Bars

Peter has always had an affinity for S'mores. Ever since he was little, the combination of graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallows has been one of his favorite foods. We used to make real S'mores over the campfire when we went camping. We also make them over our fire pit sometimes in the summer. Peter has made them in the microwave, and he received a S'more cooker one year as a Christmas gift from my friend Diane. He still has it.

At our Christmas cookie baking day this year, one of Peter's cookies was a S'more cookie. It was very delicious and was one of the favorites on the tray. Soon after that, I came across a S'more bar cookie in the book, The Happy Baker by Erin Bolger.

I tried this recipe yesterday during my most productive day. Peter said they were delicious! Make sure you let them cool completely before trying to cut the bars. If you cut them too soon, you will have a sticky mess.

S'more Bars

2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 t. vanilla
1 egg
2 1/3 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/3 c. flour
1/2 t. salt
3 cups mini marshmallows
1 1/2 T. butter
2 c. semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 1/2 c. mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, beat sugar and 1/2 c. butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg. Mix well. Stir in graham cracker crumbs.

Set aside 1 1/2 c. of this mixture. Put the remaining crumb mixture in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan.

Melt 3 cups of mini marshmallows with 1 1/2 T. butter in a small saucepan. Spread evenly over base. Sprinkle chocolate chips, 1 1/2 c. marshmallows and remaining graham cracker crumb mixture on top; press lightly.

Bake for 20 minutes or until marshmallows puff up slightly and are golden brown. Let cool before slicing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

To Do List

Clean and Organize Entry Closet
I haven't been feeling very productive lately. I don't know if it's because I don't keep track of what I do or if I am just not doing anything. Today I decided to make a To-Do List and try to get as much of it done as I possibly could. I began the day with 20 items, and I got through 15 of them. I'd say that was a pretty productive day. Here's what I got done:
TO DO LIST 1/17/11

Load Photoshop onto computer
Bible Study Homework
Deposit Checks at Bank
Return KLR pants at Target
Plan College Visits with Peter
Check on Daniel's Contact Lenses
Walk Riley
Clean Oven
Clean Unused Food out of Pantry
Try out new S'mores Bars Recipe
Clean Three Bathrooms
Clean out Entry Closet
Vacuum Floors and Carpets
Renew Driver's License
Print Beaver Creek Photos
Blog Post
Work on Aunt Mary's Scrapbook
Register Peter for Parkside Snowboard Trip

It is amazing what you can do when you really work at it. This doesn't count letting Riley in and out of the house eight times and cooking dinner. I like crossing things off my list. It gives me a sense of accomplishment. I think I will curl up with a good book now and rest.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Self Checkout

While working as a librarian, I did my share of scanning. I scanned books in and out all day long. Therefore, the self-checkout line at Giant Eagle never called my name. Others, like most of the students at school, are fascinated by the scanning process and want to do self checkout at every opportunity.

One time, I tried the self-checkout line. I did something wrong, and the overhead light started flashing. The computer register told me, "please wait, help is on the way". It was very embarrassing. Ever since then, I have avoided self checkout.

The other night, Peter and I stopped in Giant Eagle for the sole purpose of trying out his new debit card. He wanted to make sure it worked. We were purchasing about three items. Peter wanted to go through the self-checkout line, so we did.

I scanned my Giant Eagle card, and right away, the voice said, "please wait, help is on the way". I couldn't believe it. I hadn't even done anything yet. I glanced up, and saw that the screen said "$90.41". Nothing registered in my mind about that, so we moved over a couple of lanes and tried again. Before long, the Giant Eagle cashier went to the first register. She had seen us move to a new register so she yelled over at us saying that we didn't pay our bill.

I promised her that the $90.41 worth of groceries were not ours. I just scanned my Giant Eagle card. I must have an innocent face, because she believed me. We continued checking out our three items, used Peter's debit card, and skedaddled out of there!

Be careful using self-checkout lines. You could end up in jail.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Date Night

Katherine drove back to Chicago this afternoon, and Peter had plans for the evening. Daniel has been back at Miami for a week. Don and I are getting a little taste of what it will be like when we are empty nesters.

We hadn't gone on a date in awhile, so I convinced Don to take me to a movie. I had been wanting to see The King's Speech since Pam told me it was really good. Don was skeptical about it. He was thinking : not much action. But I was thinking: this is my kind of movie.

The movie was great. Don loved it. I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it yet. It gives you a little bit of history, and the acting is worthy of an Academy Award.

After the movie, I was hungry, so Don took me to dinner. He's not that fond of Aladdin's, which is one of my favorite places to eat, but he was nice enough to suggest we go there. I had the Kibbie appetizer and the Aladdin's salad. Yummy! Don tried the Sfiha (something I wasn't familiar with).To top it off, the hostess gave us some Baklava for free to take home since we had to sit by the drafty door. That was well worth keeping my coat on during dinner.

Date nights are fun. I am looking forward to many more of them.

Friday, January 14, 2011

How to Look "Put Together"

Don has always told me the first rule of fashion is comfort. I've tried to live by that. I almost always wear  flat shoes, and around the house I live in t-shirts and jeans. The one time I listened to my friend, Diane, and wore a 3-inch heel to look fashionable, I fell and sprained my ankle. I was on crutches for three weeks.

As I get older, I am feeling a need to look more put together. Stepping outside in my grubbies just doesn't cut it these days. The key to doing this is accessorizing.

In her book Good Girls Don't Have to Dress Bad, Shari Braendel gives you an easy way to figure out how to accessorize. It's more than just throwing on a necklace. It's a way of expressing yourself. She has a 16-point accessory rule where you count how many items you have on. Eight of the points are for basic dressing (shoes, pants, blouse, make-up, hair, etc.) But the other eight points are for extras.

When you get dressed, you try to get eight extra points by adding some of the following:

Belt - 1 point
Rings - 1 point each
Watch - 1 point
Bracelet - 1 point
Necklace - 1 point
Earrings - 1 point each
Glasses - 1 point
Scarf - 1 point
Nails done - 1 point
Nice purse - 1 point
Tights - 1 point

It's not very difficult to get to 8 points. It's just that sometimes I don't feel like jingle-jangling. Just like anything else I do that makes my appearance change, it takes some getting used to. Give it a try this weekend when you go out. See if anyone notices.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Aunt Mary's Photos

About a year ago, my great aunt Mary, the only living sibling of my grandmother, gave me all her photographs. They were contained in a scrapbook purchased in 1951. The scrapbook was crumbling from age, and I had an allergy attack flipping through the pages. I took it apart, piece by piece, trying to keep the contents in order. Then I had a problem. What should I do with all this stuff? I couldn't just let the photos age some more in a shoebox. If Aunt Mary trusted me with these treasures, I felt obligated to document her life.

In reading her scribbled notes, I found out a lot about Aunt Mary. She had a difficult childhood. Her mother died when she was only 3 years old. She was raised by a sister who was 17 at the time of their mother's death. I grew up thinking she was one of the most eccentric people on earth. She never married, had no children and lived by herself in an apartment. She made do with very little. Trained as a Social Worker, Aunt Mary worked for Child Welfare and the Juvenile Court. I have to give her credit, because she was the only person in her family to go to college.

I can remember visiting her in that apartment when I was a young girl. She wouldn't let us come in, but she offered to bring us some custard (pudding) out in the parking lot. She still won't let me in. I'm afraid of what might be lurking behind those doors.

She is a dear woman, however. I wrote about her on another post: The Master Gardener. I was feeling a sense of urgency to do something with her photographs. Who knows how much longer she will be around (she's 87), and I want to show her what I did.

Yesterday, I began assembling a very nice scrapbook for her with the pictures she gave me. It is difficult to piece together what is happening in some of the photos. I am leaving room for some writing, hoping I can sit down with her and fill in the blanks.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Riley's Christmas Gifts

Riley got three gifts for Christmas. He got a stuffed racoon which he promptly tore apart. I put it in a garbage bag, and he retrieved it when I wasn't looking. I put it in the garbage bag again and tied the garbage bag.

He got a new tennis ball, which is one of his favorite things in the world. And he got a note from Katherine. The note said:

Dear Riley,

I promise to take you for a walk every day that I am home.


I think the note was Riley's favorite gift of all.  Katherine has been faithful in walking him every day that she has been home.

One day, she was about to leave to see a friend at 3:00, and I casually asked her if she had walked Riley yet. She sheepishly said, "no". I would have let her off the hook, but Peter happened to be standing there. With Peter, you don't make a promise you don't intend to keep, so Katherine put down her keys and got the leash. I was impressed.

Today it was snowing quite heavily when she and Riley headed out the door. Again, I was amazed that she didn't let that stop her. Riley is one happy puppy. Even doggies can enjoy love coupons as gifts.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Soccer Mom vs. Golf Mom

When I was a soccer mom, I signed up to make "Power Meals" for the team before home games. We would feed the boys pasta and chicken, jello and salad, rolls and Rice Krispie treats.  The coach was very strict about the food the boys ate before a game. The pasta could not have meat sauce. The only meat they were allowed to have was chicken.

Soccer moms sat outside watching the games no matter the weather. The team would play in sun, rain, sleet, or snow. As long as it wasn't thunderstorming, the game would go on. As the team got into the post season, it got pretty cold out there.

Now that I am a golf mom, things are different. You can't sit an watch a match. On the rare occasion that I attend, it is a matter of catching up with the players and following them around. I might see half of the holes on a good day. Instead of feeding the boys before the match, we pack food for the coach to carry around in his golf cart. We have to trust the coach not to eat all the food before the players get to it. Golf moms also provide food for the golf van. These are snacks for the boys to eat after school on their way to the golf course for practice.

One of the staples in the golf van was Mrs. Forsythe's Zucchini Bread. Peter adored it. He loved it so much, he asked me to get the recipe from her. With Jacob Forsythe graduating this year, the golf van will be without Zucchini Bread next year unless someone (me) takes over the task of making it. When the Forsythe's Christmas card came to our house, the Zucchini Bread recipe was folded up inside. I made it tonight for the first time, so I thought I'd share it here:

Mrs. Forsythe's Zucchini Bread

1 egg
2 egg whites
1/3 c. vegetable oil
2/3 c. skim milk
2 c. sugar
2 c. grated zucchini, tightly packed
1 t. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/2 c. chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Spray two 5 x 8 loaf pans with PAM. Combine egg, egg whites, oil, milk and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in zucchini and vanilla.  In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Stir in nuts.  Add to zucchini mixture and stir lightly to combine.  Divide between two loaf pans and bake for 1 hour. Cool for 20 minutes on wire rack before removing from pan. Keep refrigerated, wrapped in foil, or freeze.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Extra, Extra!

Something that has been on my New Year's Resolution list for many, many years is to read the newspaper and keep up with what's going on in the world. Don's been after me (in a kind way) to do this since I've known him. Before he tosses the paper into the recycle bin, he asks me if I want to read it. I usually say, "not really...was there anything of note in there today?"

It's always disconcerting when someone mentions a big news item, and I have no clue what they are talking about. "Didn't you hear that so and so was shot in the head yesterday?" No, I hadn't heard. And this is part of the reason I don't read the news. I don't want to know that another person has been shot in the head, kidnapped, swindled or worse.

I know all news isn't bad news, but most of it seems to be. When I do pick up the newspaper, I skim over the stories and usually stop at ones that are intriguing to me. They are the ones that Don would pass over like, "Woman reunites with sister after 30 years of separation." I like the feature stories that have a happy ending.

I'm going to baby step my way into the newspaper reading resolution. For now, I am going to read the Sunday paper. It is usually a recap of the week, so I'll get most of the news, even if it's not on a very timely basis. After awhile, I will try to read it every day. But I'll never "watch" the news. That would only give me nightmares.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Who Wears Short Shorts?

Don and I met my first day of work at Arthur Andersen in 1983. He happened to be in the office (as opposed to out at a client) the first two weeks of my employment, so he was assigned as my training supervisor. Training supervisors made sure that new recruits did their training properly. After two weeks of in-office training, I was sent to Chicago (St.Charles), Illinois for two weeks of group training. Don happened to be out there one of those weeks. He was attending a different training school. Since he had an interest in me, he'd come and find me once in awhile and want to hang out.

One day, I was playing volleyball outside the training center, and if it weren't for this photo, I would not have known Don was watching me.That is me serving the ball in my short shorts. Look at the guy standing in the background. That is Don in his short shorts.

This picture is very special to me because it is the first picture of the two of us together. We didn't mean to be in the same picture, but someone captured us for the moment. And we were both wearing short shorts.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Retirement is Killing Me

Don's first order of business for retirement is to get in shape. Thirty years of working long hours didn't give him much time to devote to physical exercise. It is something he has always missed since his college wrestling days.

He isn't forcing me to join him in this endeavor, but I don't want to feel like a couch potato next to him, so I have agreed to work out. Two days a week, we go to a fitness center and work with a personal trainer. I actually enjoy these workouts. They don't make us do things that are impossible. They are gradually building our muscles and endurance. We do the same exercises, it's just that Don uses 30 lb. weights where I use 10 lb. weights, etc.

We also started taking tennis lessons once a week. Then we have to practice playing tennis at least once a week. Some days we end up playing tennis and doing a workout on the same day. When that happens, I come home and crash on the couch, unable to move a muscle. Don't ask me to get up and make dinner.

I'm wondering how long this is going to continue. I have a feeling it will be until Don looks like Rocky Balboa. I guess we're in this for the long haul.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ten Obscure Facts About Me

1.  I am terrified of buzzing insects. Not flying insects, buzzing insects. I don't like things that buzz.

2.  I have really long toes. I would wear size 7 shoes instead of 9 1/2 if it weren't for my toes.

3.  My favorite movie of all time is Mr. Holland's Opus.

4.  I can't pass up the stationery aisle at Target.

5.  I'm very practical when it comes to shoes. No 5-inch heels for me.

6.  I like to fold my ears and smash my nose to warm them up.

7.  Stores like Home Depot make me break out in hives.

8.  I was once a "bat-girl" for the University of Akron baseball team.

9.  I am unable to utter any words in a foreign language.

10. I consider you a good friend if you stop by unannounced to bring me a Diet Coke (from Steak & Shake).

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Patience is a Virtue

I told Don he doesn't have enough patience. What I meant was he doesn't have patience when he's behind the wheel of a car. If anything holds him up, he get frustrated and makes comments about the driver ahead of us. I always try to defend the other driver, because I am probably one of those drivers that impatient people complain about.

Today, Daniel wanted me to speed up so we could make it through a light that was about to turn yellow. He said it was a long light. I didn't make it through the light before it turned red, so I just had to tell him I live with a bunch of impatient people.

Then I was looking through some old photos from 2006 when our family visited Europe. I realized how patient the men in the family can be. Katherine has a reputation of making even patient people impatient. I'm just saying...

When we were in Paris, Katherine wanted to shop. I know she's not like this any more, but back then, the words, "I want to shop" coming from her mouth meant hours and hours of waiting patiently.  Katherine carefully examined every article available for sale and never made a decision to purchase. She would always want to "come back later" after she looked at all the other shops. Look at these photos carefully. You will see that indeed, the boys can be patient.
Katherine shopping for clothes

The boys waiting patiently

Katherine shopping for books

The boys waiting patiently

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Whenever I tell someone I have a Sheltie, they always ask if he sheds much.  Up until this winter, I always said, "no". But for some reason, Riley went crazy shedding during December. We had hair balls everywhere. I didn't dare wear black pants around him. It got to the point this week that I had to take drastic measures.

I called Petsmart and scheduled a spa appointment for Riley. I told them my problem, and they suggested "The FURminator" Treatment. It sounded a little frightening, but drastic measures were necessary.

I dropped him off, and two and a half hours later, I picked him up. At first, I didn't recognize him. He looked 10 lbs. thinner! The groomer told me she took the equivalent of a small Pomeranian off of him. I believe her. He's so light and airy now, I can pick him up with one hand. His rear end looks manageable, and his waist is visible. Here, I thought he was packing on the pounds.

It turns out, you can purchase this thing called a FURminator for $24.20 on Look how much hair you can get out with it. I might have to invest in one of these tools to keep the shedding under control.

I'm not sure what Riley thought of the whole ordeal, but he is rather exhausted right now. At least I know he will sleep well tonight.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Oreo Brownies

We celebrated Daniel's birthday tonight by going to Panini's for dinner then back home for dessert. I had a surprise for Daniel. When he came home from Miami a couple of weeks ago, he told me about the most wonderful dessert he'd ever tasted. It was a brownie with an oreo cookie baked in the middle. I thought about that, and tried to figure out how to duplicate it.

While I was at Wal-Mart in Colorado, I saw a brownie pan that was divided into individual brownie squares. I had seen these before, but at that moment, it clicked that I'd be able to bake an oreo inside the brownie with that pan. When I got home last night, I needed some milk and bread, so I ran over to Wal-Mart here and snatched up their last special brownie pan, a brownie mix and some oreos. That's all I needed for the yummy treat.

I got up way earlier than Daniel this morning and baked the brownies. I hoped he wouldn't smell the aroma and wake up.

Here's what I did: I made the brownie mix according to the box directions. I spooned some batter into eight of the squares. I dropped an oreo on top of the batter, then spooned more batter on top of the cookie. I baked them at 325 degrees for 30 minutes, and they came out perfectly.

After we got home from dinner, Daniel opened his gifts then he got to bite into his treat. He said it was even better than the one he had before, but he needed a glass of milk to go with it.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011!

We spent New Year's Eve at our condo. We all stayed in safe and warm by the fire. I made dinner after spending an hour in the Super Wal-Mart trying to find ingredients like prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes and everything else required for the recipe. I confess I had an emotional breakdown looking for these things. Don was very sweet and offered to get me a McDonald's Diet Coke while I waited in line to pay (there is a very small McDonald's attached to the Wal-Mart). It did make things all better.

I baked some brownies for dessert, but those didn't turn out. Because of the high altitude, the directions said to add some extra flour to the mix. As I said before, we don't have all the comforts of home here (no flour), so the brownies didn't bake correctly. That didn't stop Katherine from eating all around the edges.

What's nice about celebrating New Year's Eve in Colorado is that the ball drops at 10:00 p.m instead of midnight! I can go to bed early. We do it every year. We didn't have any champagne for celebrating, but there was a bottle of rum in the closet left as a gift from the hotel years ago. We opened that and fixed glasses of Diet Coke and Rum. Don and I had about two sips. Too strong for us.

Peter was the only one brave enough to go out on the balcony during the fireworks display. It was well below zero out there, especially with the wind-chill factor. The annual Torchlight Ski Down was cancelled for the first time since we've been coming here. It's a line of skiers/snowboarders holding glow-lights. The Beaver Creek instructors/ski patrol come down first from way up on the mountain. Then anyone who wants to join in meets up at the top of the Haymeadow slope (the slope closest to the base) and they follow in the parade.

I haven't finalized my New Year's resolutions list yet. I have a feeling it will look a lot like the lists from the past 20 years. One thing I will do (maybe even today if the internet speed picks up) is spruce up my blog a little. There are some "gadgets" I'd like to add to it. So look for that in the coming week. I'm going to consolidate my label list and keep up with my "books read" list. I deleted the old one and plan to keep a good tally for 2011. I will try to do more book reviews too. I think that's enough of a New Year's resolution, don't you?