Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Basil Caesar Salmon

This was super yummy! It melted in my mouth. As an added bonus, it was very easy too.

I used Farm-Raised Norwegian Salmon from Heinen's.

Basil Caesar Salmon
4 salmon fillets
1/4 cup creamy Caesar salad dressing
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Caesar salad croutons, crushed
1/2 grated Parmesan cheese
2 t. dried basil
2 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place salmon in a greased baking pan. Spoon salad dressing over fillets; sprinkle with salt with pepper.

Combine croutons, Parmesan cheese and basil; sprinkle over fillets and gently press into dressing. Drizzle with oil. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20-25 min or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Monday, February 27, 2012


Riley doesn't like certain noises. They make him bark and jump. Here are just a few of those noises: vacuum cleaner, pulling foil from its container, lifting blinds, pulling out a tape measure, winding the cuckoo clock, sneezing, Peter brushing his teeth, pulling shipping tape from a dispenser.

One day, while I was taping up a box to ship to Daniel, I became very irritated with Riley's behavior. I was so irritated I decided to punish him. I pulled a piece of tape from the dispenser and stuck it to the top of his head. Miraculously, Riley left the room and spent the rest of the time trying to remove the tape.

Some people use spray bottles or clickers or newspapers to discipline their dogs. I've resorted to shipping tape. Now, when he does anything annoying, we just get the tape dispenser out and he runs away. I can run the vacuum cleaner if he has a piece of tape on his head. I can clean up the dinner dishes without him jumping and crying for food. All because he is afraid of the tape.

I don't think it is cruel or unusual punishment (well maybe unusual). But it works!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My Antonia

I've always wanted to be in a book club, but it has never worked out for me. So I have resorted to joining a virtual book club with the Midday Connection radio show. Midday Connection is broadcast from 1-2 p.m. on 103.3 FM (WCRF) weekdays. Book club discussions are held about once every few months. Mostly they read classics, and the discussion is led by Moody Bible Institute professor Dr. Rosalie de Rosset. Here is the list of past discussions and the book for next time, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which I just started reading and cannot put down!

My Antonia by Willa Cather is a realistic look at pioneer life in Nebraska during the late 19th century. It is a Little House on the Prairie book for grown ups. Some of the scenes are not for the faint hearted. Through it all, Antonia seems to keep a positive outlook without feeling sorry for herself. Nothing can beat her down.

The narrator, Jim Burden, is an orphan who grew up with Antonia. The story is told from his perspective, looking back on his childhood after becoming a successful New York City lawyer. Antonia was someone whom he would never forget.

I wouldn't say this is a page turner, but I did enjoy the descriptive scenes and interesting characters in the book. I also loved the historical side of it.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Always By My Side

If he could, he would.

* Cartoon from Rob's 50 Funny Sheltie Cartoons by Rob Middleton

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Library Lesson

One of my favorite library lessons was teaching Fifth graders how to find everything they needed to create a bibliography.  It was a necessary lesson before they delved into their State and President research papers.

While I was at it, I also showed them some more exciting information they could find in their books. This might be old news to you, but pay attention, you could learn something.

Find  the title page in any book you own. The title page usually contains the title, author and publisher names. Now turn this page over, and you have before you the most exciting page in the book. You think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

On this page (called the verso page) you will find not only the year the book was published, but all kinds of handy information. We will use the verso page from the book Unbroken as an example.

At the top, you can see that the book was published in the year 2010. Below the copyright information is a section called Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data (CIP). This is the exciting part.

Before a book is published, a copy of the manuscript is sent to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. There, an expert in book cataloging determines how the book will be cataloged and where it will be shelved in the library. Later, other libraries will use the information for their catalogs and library shelves. It helps to keep cataloging consistent from library to library.

This information is also useful to the average person for a number of things. The ISBN can be used to search for an exact replica of the book you hold in your hands. Each version of the book will have a different ISBN. There will be one for the hardcover version, the paperback version and now the eBook version as you can see in my example.

Next comes the numbered list of subjects the book is about. This book happens to be about Louis Zamperini who was born in 1917. The dash after the date means he was still living at the time the book was published. If he had died, the year of his death would have been listed. The book is also about World War II, prisoners of war, Army Air Forces, and a long-distance runner. Sometimes when I pick up a book in the bookstore, and I want to find out what it is about, I'll open to this page and read through the list of subjects.

After the subjects, you will find two strings of numbers. The first one is the Library of Congress call number. University libraries use the Library of Congress numbers to shelve their books. The same book would be shelved in a public library or school library using the Dewey Decimal Number, which is the second number listed.

The [B] means the book is a biography. The 10-digit number after the [B] is the Library of Congress Control Number. Oh, and the really cool thing you can impress your friends with is knowing what the string of numbers at the bottom means. The string looks like this: 12 14 16 18 19 17 15 13 11. This means the copy of the book I have was part of the 10th printing. The books from the 11th printing will have a string that looks like this: 12 14 16 18 19 17 15 13.

There you have it. I imagine you are as excited about this lesson as my little Fifth graders were.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Make it Miami

Sunday night, we took a ride to Miami University. Peter has been accepted, so we were invited to a "Make it Miami" day. It is a day in which they basically sell the school to students who still need to decide where they will attend.

As an added bonus, we got to see Daniel. We went to his house and took him to dinner at a nice little Italian restaurant near campus. Here are some photos to give you an idea of what Daniel's life is like there:

These are the guys he lives with. Very nice young men. Daniel took this photo in the fall using his tripod.

We noticed that someone in the house was behind on reading his Wall Street Journals.

Daniel challenged Peter to a game of ping-pong in the basement. My asthma was acting up after about five minutes in this 100-year old cellar.

I have a sneaking suspicion that Daniel cleaned up a little before we arrived.

I love the look of their kitchen! This photo was actually taken on move-in day.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Missing Mommy

Don and I have been gone a lot during the month of February. When we packed our suitcases once again Sunday afternoon, I could tell Riley was getting a bit anxious.

Katherine confirmed my suspicions when she sent me this picture last night. She said Riley had fallen asleep with his head in my slipper. It wasn't an accident. Katherine sneezed after he was asleep, and he jumped up, shook the daylights out of my slipper, then dropped it, put his head back inside and fell asleep again.

I guess he loves the smell of my feet. It makes him feel like I'm close by.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I never thought I'd say this, but I am warming up to my e-reader. I have had an Amazon Kindle for a couple of years. At first, I didn't  like it. I wanted to hold my paper books. I only took it on vacation when Don forced me to pack all my belongings in a carry-on bag. Now I am using it daily.

Here's what I like about my Kindle:

1. No one can see what I'm reading. Not that I read scandalous material, but sometimes I don't want people looking over my shoulder to see the title of my book.

2. I can take hundreds of books with me on vacation without an extra suitcase or two. Since I enjoy reading several books at a time, I have them all at my fingertips.

3. E-books are usually less expensive than regular books. Most bestsellers are $9.99. Libraries are now offering e-book downloads as well. I recently downloaded My Antonia by Willa Cather on for free. Many of the classics are available at no cost.

4. By buying e-books instead of regular books, I won't be cluttering up my house. I have enough books in my backlog to last me three years. As I read these books, they are getting donated to friends, family and library book sales.

5. I can adjust the font size if I forget my reading glasses.

There are a few things I don't like about my Kindle:

1.  It is difficult to read on a sunny day, and the screen isn't back-lit for long car rides in the dark.

2.  I have to turn the page ten times more often.

3.  I have to go to the corner to download a book. Whatever cell phone service my Kindle uses does not work at my house. Newer Kindles use Wi-Fi.

4.  Pictures just aren't the same.

I know it is just a matter of time before e-readers and tablet computers are fine tuned enough to take away most of the annoyances they now present. My Kindle is one of the original ones, so I am sure the newest one is much better already.

One thing e-readers will never replace, however, is children's picture books. I just can't imagine that.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Bible Study Methods

I just finished reading this book by Rick Warren, author of the bestselling book The Purpose Driven Life. In it, he describes twelve methods for studying the Bible.

Since I tend to study my Bible in a willy-nilly fashion, I thought I'd see what he had to say. To give you an idea of what the book entails, here are the first six methods:

1.  Devotional Method - this was my favorite, and the one I plan to begin using. With this method, you systematically read through the Bible, taking one passage at a time, and determine how to apply it to your life. Here is the link to my version of the chart: Bible Study Chart

2.  Chapter Summary Method - here you read though a chapter of the Bible five times to gain a general understanding of what it says. Then you summarize the passage. Reminds me of Mrs. Bailey's 7th grade English class.

3.  Character Quality Method - study the characteristics of people in the Bible and apply those qualities that are Christlike to your life.

4.  Thematic Method - involves tracing a theme thought the entire Bible or a book of the Bible asking a set of questions, summarizing conclusions and writing out personal applications.

5.  Biographical Method - select a biblical person and study his/her life as it is found in the Bible.

6.  Topical Method - choose a subject and trace it through a single book or the entire Bible.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

W. C. Fields & Grandpa

Peter is the youngest grandchild on Don's side of the family, and grandpa really connected with him. The two of them were best buddies. Every time we visited grandma and grandpa's house, it didn't take more than five minutes for Peter and grandpa to head down to the basement to play games.

Grandpa had a pinball machine, a Pac-Man machine, a bowling machine and a few other games. It was paradise for Peter. The two wouldn't emerge until they were called for dinner.

Before Peter knew better, he thought a picture of W. C. Fields, which hung in our basement among other movie star pictures, was a picture of grandpa. Every time he saw it, he would say he wanted to see grandpa. When we redecorated the basement about eight years ago, the movie star pictures came down. We couldn't bear to part with the picture of W. C. Fields, so it went in Peter's room. It is still there today.

Grandpa is no longer with us, but he will always have a special place in Peter's heart.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Valentine

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Baked Spaghetti

Have you ever noticed how Paula Deen never gives the calorie counts to her recipes? There's a good reason for that. No one would make any of her dishes if they knew they'd have to run a marathon to work it off.

So what did I do tonight? I made a Paula Deen recipe. I don't do this very often, but this recipe just looked so good. I also thought it would be a good dish to make for one of those times I want to bring a meal to someone. You know...let them eat all those calories.

Everyone liked it. I had a very small piece just to make sure it tasted OK. I didn't have any mozzarella cheese, so I left that off. Next time I think I would leave the cheddar cheese out and just top the casserole with mozzarella.

Sausage and Pepperoni Baked Spaghetti

1 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, chopped
1/2 c. mini turkey pepperoni slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (16 ounce) pkg. spaghetti, cooked and kept warm
1 (24 ounce) jar marinara sauce
1 (16 ounce) jar Alfredo sauce
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, drained
1 c. shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 c. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish.

In a large skillet, combine sausage, onion, pepperoni, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until sausage is browned and crumbly and onion is tender. Drain.

In a large bowl, toss together sausage mixture, cooked spaghetti, marinara sauce, Alfredo sauce, diced tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. Pour into prepared baking dish. Top with Mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and browned.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Good Night

Mommy and daddy are home now. I can rest.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Battle Won!

Public Enemy Number One
Don and I have been in a battle all week here in Naples, Florida. When we arrived Saturday evening, our enemy began its attack. We were sitting on the couch watching TV, minding our business, while the Ctenocephalides canis began to bite.

 At first we did not know what was attacking us. On Sunday during the Super Bowl, I figured it out. The common flea had infested the condo. How...we do not know. But they were hungry...very hungry...since the condo had been vacant for two months.

Fleas can live 100 days without a blood meal. But in order to lay eggs, the female must have a blood meal. Guess whose blood they preferred? Thankfully, not mine! Don had yummier blood. His feet and ankles are covered with bites, and I didn't get one nip.

 Here's how the battle ensued: On Monday night, we sprinkled flea powder all over the carpet. We let it sit for 24 hours, then we vacuumed. On Wednesday morning, I did the white sock test. This is where I walked around in my white socks, stirring up the enemy. I wasn't afraid of them because they didn't like me. There were about five fleas on each sock after the morning wake-up call. This wasn't good enough for us.

On Wednesday afternoon, we went to Plan B. We bought a flea fogger, set it off, and went golfing for four hours. We vacuumed thoroughly with a very old vacuum cleaner. On Thursday morning, I did the white sock test again. Two fleas jumped on each sock. Still not good enough for us.

Yesterday, we bought more cans of flea fogger and set one off in each bedroom as well as the family room. We vacated for four hours, bought a new vacuum cleaner, vacuumed the carpet and went to bed. This morning, I did the white sock test, and I can say we have a victory here. No fleas jumped on my socks!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Language of Love

Do you feel loved? Do you know how to show love? It might not be as simple as you think. According to Dr. Gary Chapman, everyone has a Love Language. And if your spouse doesn't speak that love language, you may not feel loved and vice versa.

The Five Love Languages are: Words of Affirmation (compliments mean the world to you), Quality Time (being there is very important), Receiving Gifts (thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift are important), Acts of Service (love to hear the words, "let me do that for you"), Physical Touch (hugs, hand-holding, back rubs...yes.) One of these is more important to you than all the others.

How do you find out what your spouse's love language is? You could guess, but a more simple way would be to send him/her to Dr. Chapman's website Five Love Languages. A test can determine the answer. You might want to take it yourself.

When you find out your spouse's love language, take the Love Language Challenge. Starting on Valentine's Day, each week for five weeks, you will receive instructions on how to love your spouse the way he/she wants to be loved. You can receive the instructions through email, or if you have a Smart Phone, you can download the free App.

I know what Don's love language is, and I plan to surprise him by taking the Love Language Challenge. I sure hope he doesn't read this post.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Heart for Freedom

Chai Ling was one of the student leaders of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. A Heart For Freedom is her biographical account of how she got there and what her life has been like since being put on China's Most Wanted list.

I was engrossed in this historical record of events from Chai Ling's point of view. She was only 23 years old when she had to run and hide for her life. It took almost a year to escape from China. She made it to France first and then to the United States where she has made her home.

She has been called on to speak about the 1989 massacre in Tiananmen Square many times, and she continues to have compassion for those in China. In 2009, Chai Ling became a Christian and founded All Girls Allowed. This organization aims to help stop forced abortions under China's One-Child policy.

I was astounded at the statistics she quoted in her book:  Every 2.5 seconds, a baby's life is taken by abortion in China. Every day, hundreds of baby girls are abandoned and five hundred women commit suicide. Eighty-six percent of all Chinese women have had at least one abortion and 52 percent have had two or more. In some provinces, there is such a shortage of girls, that girls are stolen at a young age, kept until they are older, and then sold to men seeking wives.

I highly recommend this book!

Monday, February 6, 2012

An Element of Fun

Don loves home improvement projects. He loves them so much that he even does them when we are on vacation. Today was a rainy day, so he needed something to do. Before I knew it, we were at Home Depot again. This time, he decided to replace the screen panels on the screened-in porch at the condo in Naples.

After purchasing the necessary supplies (screen and spline) he got to work. I sat in the chair and supervised. Right away, he ran into a challenge. The old spline was being stubborn and would not come out. Don began talking to it. He said things like, "come on, you dirty bugger, get out of there." When I asked him if he was talking to the spline, he quoted Mary Poppins.

In every job that must be done,
there is an element of fun.
You find the fun, and - SNAP - 
the job's a game!

I guess the fun in this job is talking to the spline. I finally figured out how he gets so much accomplished every day.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superbowl XLVI

Just to keep Don company, I was a passive viewer of the Superbowl game. I'd read my book during the football part and look up every time there was a commercial. Once in awhile I'd comment on something so Don thought I was into the game. In fact there there are 3 minutes and 46 seconds left in the game as I type.

I had a few favorite commercials. There was the one with the rescue dog named "Wego". He'd fetch a beer every time someone said "Here Wego". The dog was really cute.

Then there were the Coca-Cola polar bear commercials. I am partial to those.

But my favorite this year was the Doritos commercial in which the grandma sling-shot the baby up into the swing set to snatch a bag of Doritos from his annoying brother. That was hilarious.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Photo by Josh Ruiz
Since some of you have asked how to leave comments on Life with Riley, I decided to try to explain the process.

Here's what to do:

At the bottom of the post, click on the word "comments". This will take you to a screen that says "Post Your Comment". In the white box, type your comment.

If you have a gmail account with Google, use your gmail name. If you don't have a gmail account, select Anonymous. If you do select Anonymous but you want me to know who you are, sign your name in the comment box after your comment.

Click Publish.

Your comment will not appear right away. I will receive an email letting me know there is a comment that needs to be moderated. I have to approve the comments that are published on my blog. So if I don't like your comment, I won't publish it! Don't worry...that's never happened.

By the end of the day, you should see your comment at the bottom of the post.

Here's what I would like everyone who reads my blog to do: Post a comment below. That way I will know who reads my blog! If you have trouble with this, just email me. Riley will be waiting to hear from you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Just Like Charlotte

I had a bad experience with a spider once. I arrived early for a meeting at church. I was the only one in the meeting room in the basement. At least I thought I was alone.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move across the floor. It was large enough to grab my attention. It wasn't a mouse. Worse than that, it was a very large spider. Normally, I leave spiders alone, but this spider was too big to ignore. I didn't want to be in the room alone with it.

I tiptoed over to it as quietly as I could.  It must have known what was coming, because it ran for the door. I chased it out in the hall and stomped on it.

What happened next was straight out of a horror movie. The spider died. It was squished on the bottom of my shoe. But in its place were hundreds of baby spiders taking off in all directions.

No wonder the spider looked so large. It was carrying an egg sac around on its belly. The mother spider was fiercely protecting its young when it ran from me. If I hadn't been so terrified, I might have felt awful to have just murdered her.

I took off like a rocket into another room, closed the door, and waited until the other committee members arrived. When I emerged, the orphan spiders were nowhere to be found. What had I done? The church was now infested with babies that would grow into wolves...wolf spiders, that is. And it was all my fault.