Thursday, March 29, 2012

So Exciting!

It was more exciting than Christmas today at our house. Around 6:30 p.m., the UPS man came to the door and delivered a huge box from Crate & Barrel. Katherine brought the box in. I asked her if she ordered something from Crate & Barrel. She thought the box was mine. I told her that her name was on it. Right away we knew it was a wedding gift. Her first wedding gift.

You would have thought the UPS man brought her the moon. I haven't seen her that excited since she opened her "My Little Pony" when she was six.

Don told her not to open it until the wedding. Of course, that was heresy. She grabbed the scissors and cut the tape. Her cousin, Elizabeth, one of the bridesmaids happened to be here for dinner. That made it even more exciting. Josh had to hear about it over the phone.

Riley had a front row seat. He was hoping it was food. Riley was disappointed when it turned out to be placemats, a wooden serving bowl and a dish rack from her registry. Katherine couldn't have been more thrilled!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Perpetual Journal

This is an idea I found on Pinterest. I'd like to start doing this next year and make some of these to give as gifts. The idea is to jot down something that happened each day. File the card in the back of the tray, and next year on that day, write down what you did again. Over the course of many years, you can see what you were up to.

You don't have to write a paragraph, just one line summing up the best part of the day.

There is one card for each day of the year. Each month is separated by a post card or some other colorful card cut to size.

I can think of other ways to use this idea: write down something you are thankful for that day, record the weather, or write down an observation you made.

The instructions are found at a blog called Design Sponge.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Feta & Cranberry Salad

This is a quick and healthy salad to throw together. If you don't like so much spinach, you can substitute some lettuce. Makes one serving.

Feta & Cranberry Salad
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
2 ounces grilled chicken
2 T. crumbled feta cheese
2 T. dried cranberries
2 t. olive oil
2 t. balsamic vinegar

Combine first four ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hey! That's My Shirt!

That's me on the top. I'm 13 years old. That's my sister, Carolyn, on the bottom. She's 13 years old. We are not twins. I'm 3 1/2 years older. 

She posted her picture on Facebook this morning, and when I saw it, I recognized my shirt. I knew I had a photo wearing the same shirt, so I dug it up. I always thought she was stealing from my closet.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sold to the Highest Bidder

Last night we attended the CVCA auction. It was a fundraiser for Peter's school. It's a night to be generous and take home a few nice things to enjoy. Occasionally, bidding gets heated when two or more people want the same item. Last night, the cheesecakes were hot. Some of them caused bidding wars and sold for over $70 apiece. I didn't bother trying for one of those.

I had my eye on a framed piece of art produced by students at the school and a cute overnight bag. There wasn't anyone competing with me on the artwork, but the overnight bag had a few contenders. It was a silent auction, so I had to write down my bid then keep an eye on it until the bidding closed.

I'm not one to be aggressive when it comes to bidding. Usually, if someone keeps outbidding me, I will give in and let them have it. But last night, my friend Becky thought this cute little overnight bag was so right for me. She wanted me to win the bid even more than I did.

When it came down to the last few minutes, we went over to the table to see if I was still the highest bidder. I was, so we stood there and watched the sheet of paper. Along came a woman who was eyeing the bag. I looked at Becky, and she looked at me. We both knew she was going to outbid me.

This is when Becky stepped in and did what Becky does best. She outsmarted the lady.

"I love your dress," Becky said.
"Oh, thank you," replied the woman.
I raised my eyebrows.
"Where did you get it?" asked Becky.
"I found it in a bin in my basement. I had totally forgotten I had it," she said.
I couldn't believe what my conniving friend was doing.
The woman looked at the sheet of paper again.
"It looks so nice on you," added Becky.
"Thanks," she said.
My heart began to race.
The countdown started to end the bidding.
The woman said, "oh darn."
She looked flustered.
The buzzer rang, and the bidding sheets were removed. I was still the highest bidder.
The woman asked Becky if she won the bag.
"No, I wasn't bidding on anything here," she said. And it was the truth.
Becky didn't lie. The woman's dress was very pretty, and it looked very nice on her.
And I took home a very cute overnight bag.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Police Blotter

Peter is the only member of our family to make it into the local Police Blotter. The crime took place when he was four years old. He really didn't know any better.

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Don and I, along with Katherine and Daniel, went to a Cleveland Indians game. Peter stayed home with a babysitter. The babysitter was a girl who lived down the street. She brought a friend to keep her company.

After about an hour of entertaining Peter, the girls thought it would be a good idea to have him take a nap. So they read him a bedtime story and tucked him in. They went about their business while thinking Peter was safe and sound.

When they checked on him an hour later, Peter was not in his bed. They searched the house and called his name. No Peter. They looked outside and thought they saw his white blankie in the backyard. They ran outside calling again. No Peter.

When they returned to the house, the door was locked. They had no key. They were outside, and Peter was lost. Panic set in.

The girl who lived down the street ran to get her parents (this was before all teens had cell phones). The parents called the police then ran back with her. The parents called Don's cell phone and told him what what going on.

Don told them where a key was hidden in the garage. Everyone got back in the house and called for Peter. They searched the house once more, opening every closet door, looking under every piece of furniture and calling his name. My neighbor was having a heart attack and all of her hair was turning gray.

Don suggested looking on the top bunk in Daniel's room. He said Peter sometimes liked to get up there. They pulled the pile of covers off what looked like just a pile of covers, and underneath was a sound asleep four-year-old boy.

Peter popped up and saw the policeman. The first words out of his mouth were, "are we going to ride our bikes?" He said this because the day before, the police were at his preschool showing the kids how to safely ride their bikes.

He didn't know he had caused several coronaries and lots of premature aging. He was just a little kid. We forgive him.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Daily Dozen

Apparently my body needs way fewer calories than I crave. That's why I don't look like Denise Austin.

In her book, Denise's Daily Dozen, she gives guidelines for healthy eating. I don't think it is wise to try to lose 12 pounds in two weeks, but I think she's on to something with her Daily Dozen eating plan.

This plan helps you focus on the foods you can eat rather than the foods you can't eat. Each day, you should eat twelve foods:

3 servings of vegetables
3 servings of fruits
3 servings of protein
2 servings of whole grain
1 serving of healthy fat

And of course...eight glasses of water.

She's done the math, and the calorie counts come out to about 1,200-1,400 per day  (1,800 for men). I know it doesn't seem like much food, but it really is enough. I tried it today. I was a little hungrier than usual, but I felt good knowing that I got at least six servings of fruits and veggies in my body. I also didn't have room for any junk.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Kick Up Your Heels

Running for five minutes straight seems like an eternity right now. I'm on week four, day two of my Couch to 5K training program again. Nancy and I have registered to run on May 12.

We were going to do this race last year, but our plans got canceled in the middle of training. But we are back at it now.

Here is the program for week 4:

5 minute walking warm-up
3 minute run
90 second walk
5 minute run
2.5 minute walk
3 minute run
90 second walk
5 minute run
5 minute walking cool down

If I remember correctly, next week will jump right into a 20 minute run! That's where I abandoned ship last time. I need to build up some endurance, because I figure it will take me almost an hour to run 3.2 miles. I run slightly faster than I walk.

This 5K is a fundraiser for Access Homeless Shelter in Akron. At least I know my $25 registration fee will be going to a good cause. The race will start and finish at Lock 3 in Akron.

Nancy and I need some cheerleaders, so if you aren't doing anything that day, come out with your pom poms. Better yet, start training and join us. It's not too late.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Around the House

Peter's tarantula. Don't worry, it's not alive. Katherine brought it back from Bolivia in her suitcase. Dead.

Daniel's antique typewriter. His dear mother found it at a thrift shop and gave it to him for Valentine's Day.

The blown glass flying pig Pam gave me after I walked 26.2 miles in the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon.

Peter's SpongeBob SquarePants bowling ball. Peter got this as a prize for participating in the Parent-Child bowling league at Roseland Lanes when he was in 4th grade. I bowled one of my best games with this ball.

The sign on Riley's back door to the yard. Just for the record, I did not buy this.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


He doesn't look at ME like that! (and I don't mean Riley)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Make Room for Riley

There were five pillows on this couch before Riley appeared. When he wants to get comfortable, he will jump on the couch and use his nose to flip each pillow onto the floor. It looks like he missed one this time.

Friday, March 16, 2012


I've never made an effort to drink the daily recommended amount of water. Part of that is due to my addiction to tea and diet coke. I usually don't have room for water.

I've noticed as I've gotten older, however, that I actually feel dehydrated most of the time. That's not good. So, I am going to conduct a science experiment during the next three weeks. My blog readership will be holding me accountable. I am going to drink eight glasses of water a day.

It's an experiment because I want to test all the claims I have read about for years concerning the benefits of drinking water. I should be dead already if all the claims are true.

Some of the claims are hard to measure: it raises your metabolism, it prevents cancer, it moisturizes the air in your lungs, it detoxifies your body. But some claims are measurable: it suppresses your appetite, it gives you more energy, it gives you a healthy glow, it reduces joint pain, it regulates body temperature, it helps you think better. I'm also hoping it helps me sleep.

I will document my findings in the measurable categories and let you know in three weeks if I feel and look like a new woman. Stay tuned.

"I never drink water. I'm afraid it will become habit forming." - W. C. Fields.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tasting Day

We spent the afternoon tasting food. I loved it because I didn't have to make dinner. Everyone was stuffed. 

At 3:00, we went to Hillbrook Club where the wedding reception will be held. We tasted three salads and four salad dressings. Fresh rolls with butter were included. After that, they brought out four entrees, four starches and two vegetables for us to taste. 

We had salmon, steak, and two types of chicken. We ate mashed potatoes, rice, red potatoes and some French potato I couldn't pronounce. Then we sampled green beans and asparagus. No one left hungry.

At 4:00, we went to the cake shop to taste cake. The pastry chef made a small cake just for us. Fortunately there was only one cake.  It happened to be delicious. The rest of the meeting was spent discussing cake design. 

We are slowly ticking off the all the wedding details. No one cried, everyone was happy. Of course we all had full bellies.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Once Upon a Secret

In the summer of 1962, a nineteen-year-old intern named Mimi Beardsley arrived at the White House in a completely naive state of mind. Her job was to help out in the press office. She was a budding journalist, so she thought this was her ticket to a successful future.

By the middle of her first week, she was having an affair with the president of the United States, John F. Kennedy. Mimi was a tall, attractive girl who, it seems, was scouted out by the president's inner circle of friends. Mimi had no idea what was happening until it was too late.

Once the affair started, she didn't try to stop its progression. She just went with the flow, leading a double life even after she returned to college in the fall. The president paid for her to return on weekends and secretly travel with him and his entourage.

Mimi was engaged to be married when the president was shot and killed in November of 1963. The affair was still going on at that time. She was devastated, and when her fiance found out about the affair, he made her promise to never say a word about it to anyone.

She kept the secret for over 40 years. Once a reporter discovered who she was and what had happened, she decided to tell her story.

This was a page turner, and it really brought to light the devastation a marital affair can have on all those involved as well as the effect it has on innocent bystanders of the next generation.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato & Chicken Pasta

This recipe is so simple, I can't believe I haven't tried it until now. I clipped it from Hallmark magazine in December of 2009. It was delicious with a side salad and crusty bread.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Chicken Pasta

1 lb. Bow-tie pasta
1 lb. Boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces
1  7.5 ounce jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes well drained and chopped
1  16 ounce jar Classico Alfredo sauce

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta for 10 minutes. Drain well and return to pot.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute until just barely cooked through. (Salt and pepper chicken if you wish)

Add sun-dried tomatoes (I only used half the jar).  Add Alfredo sauce and stir to combine. Simmer gently for a few minutes to blend the flavors and heat through. Add sauce to drained pasta. Toss to coat.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dog Doo-ty

I cleaned up Riley's bathroom today. His bathroom is a quarter acre grassland patch in our backyard. With pooper scooper in hand, I scoured the territory. Ten times, I had to stop and toss the contents into the woods. All the while I was wondering how this became "my" job. When I mentioned to Don it would be a nice day to clean up the backyard, he said, "knock yourself out." That's the spirit!

I confess I don't often do this job. It occurs to me when small children come to visit and in the spring when the snow melts. So you can imagine how many land mines I had to dodge out there. I miss Nicholas, one of our Huskies, who always made it a point to do his business in the woods. Riley manages to cover every square inch of open field.

Riley appreciates the effort I put into tidying up his space. He just doesn't know it yet. While I was slaving away, he was frantically checking all the chipmunk hiding places, totally oblivious to my efforts. He'll thank me later when he no longer has to tip-toe through the tulips...I mean poo-lips.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See takes place in China during the nineteenth century. In the county of Hunan during that time, girls had their feet bound at the age of six or seven. After that, they were pretty much confined to an upper chamber in the house until they married out.

In order to keep from being isolated, some girls were matched one to one with an "old same", or best friend. Some girls joined a circle of "sworn sisters". Either way, girls did not have much to say about their lives. Their marriages were arranged, there was a strict order of hierarchy in families, and if the girl didn't produce sons, she was reduced to the lowest place in the home.

The story is narrated by Lily, now eighty years old. She reflects on her life, and in particular, her friendship with her "old same", Snow Flower. Throughout their lives, they communicated using a secret writing called nu shu written on the folds of a fan they passed between each other. Lily and Snow Flower ended up living completely different lives. Lily was married to a rich, powerful, yet gentle man. Snow Flower was the wife of a butcher, a man who beat her for not having more sons.

Lily sorts through the path she took, the regrets she had, and her attempt to make everything right in the end. This was an excellent book if you like reading about other cultures and time periods like I do.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Easy Gift Frame

The past two years, Peter handmade all his Christmas gifts. Last year, he knit Katherine a scarf. This year, he made a special picture frame for her. I love the way it turned out. I'm going to make one for myself using an 8 x 10 picture frame so the background paper shows a little more.

Supplies needed:

Inexpensive wood picture frame
Colorful craft paint and paintbrush
Coordinating scrapbook paper
Metal clip

Take the glass out of the frame and paint the wood a bright color. Cut scrapbook paper to fit inside the frame and replace glass and backing. Hot glue a metal clip to the glass. Clip a favorite photo so it lays on top of the glass.

So easy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cornbread Casserole

I made Crockpot Chili tonight even though it was a gorgeous 65 degree winter day. Daniel is home, and he likes chili. Instead of making Grandma's Cornbread with it, I decided to make a new recipe. The ladies in my Bible Study came over to my house last Tuesday for a potluck gathering, and Connie brought along Cornbread Casserole. Everyone raved about it. This was originally a Paula Deen recipe, but Connie left out the stick of  butter and the cup of Cheddar cheese. It tastes wonderful without the extra calories.

Cornbread Casserole
2 cans whole kernel corn, drained
2 cans creamed corn
1 8 oz. container of sour cream
2 boxes Jiffy cornbread mix.

Mix all ingredients together in a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. This is the doubled version of the recipe. You can make half in an 8 x 8 square pan.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Guys Weekend

Each year, Don invites several friends to join him for a ski weekend at Beaver Creek. They have a lot of fun talking, laughing, eating and playing cards. And of course, they ski. This year, only two of Don's friends could make it (John and Jim).

There are photographers on the mountain in case you want your picture taken. The technology has advanced so much that all the photographer has to do is scan your ski pass, which is tied to your email, and the photos are sent right to your computer! Here are a couple of photos from the trip:

John, Don and Jim

That's Don in the lead. Not that is was a race or anything.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Still, My Soul be Still

We sang a song this morning in church that I just love. It's called Still, My Soul be Still. The version we sang was by modern hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty, both from Northern Ireland. The original German hymn was written in 1752 by Katharina A. von Schlegel. To listen to part of the song, go to the Getty's Website and scroll down until you see the title of the song.

"I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken." Psalm 16:8

Still, My Soul Be Still

Still, my soul be still
and do not fear
though winds of change may rage tomorrow
God is at your side
no longer dread
the fires of unexpected sorrow

God, you are my God
and I will trust in you and not be shaken
Lord of peace renew
a steadfast spirit within me
to rest in You alone

Still, my soul be still
do not be moved
by lesser lights and fleeting shadows
Hold onto His ways
with shield of faith
against temptation's flaming arrows

Still, my soul be still
do not forsake
the truth you learned in the beginning
Wait upon the Lord
and hope will rise
as stars appear when day is dimming

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Goat Season

Tammy is a grandma! Moonbeam had her first litter of baby goats. Two goats were birthed on Tuesday night. They named the boy Space Commander and the girl Aris. Two more of Tammy's goats are due to deliver within the month. I've lost track of how many goats are now on the farm.

I stopped by to visit the nursery today. The babies are only 4 days old, but you wouldn't know it. It was hilarious to watch them try to move around on the wood floor in Tammy's house (yes, they are in the house for a few days). They walked perfectly fine, but when they wanted to run, they had all four hooves off the ground at the same time, often falling flat on their faces.

Here are some pictures:

This is Jonny feeding Space Commander.

It didn't take him long to suck down a 1/2 cup of his mamma's milk

Tammy feeding Aris

Making themselves at home in Tammy's log house.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Bath Time

I finally took a bath tonight. I haven't been in the tub since 1994. Don't worry...I have taken a shower every day in between!

I took a bath because the ladies in my monthly dinner group all agreed to do it and report back on the experience. In preparation, I purchased three items: a meadow grass bath mat, a memory foam bath pillow, and Soothing Organic Milk & Oat bath powder.

Riley was interested, of course. He loves flowing water. I let him watch the bath tub fill up. Then I had to carry him outside and shut the door. He cried.

I decided not to risk taking my Kindle. Instead, I read Prevention magazine. It was a very relaxing half hour. My skin feels silky smooth now, and my troubles all went down the drain when I pulled the plug. I plan to do   this again soon. I have to now that I've invested in the accessories.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Torture Devices

Don and I have been working out at Premier Sport Conditioning (PSC) for over a year. We have gone faithfully two days a week unless we are out of town. The trainers there have been slowly building our muscles. They are clever, too, because each time we go they change the routine. It's something called muscle confusion. All I know is I walk around in a constant state of pain.

The PSC facility is in a building that could be used as a warehouse. Their main focus is to train high school athletes for peak performance in their sport. They also work with old fogies like us.

I'd like to share some of the equipment housed at PSC. These are the devices Mike and Aaron use to torture me.

The slide board. We put special booties on our tennis shoes and pretend we are speed skaters. Worse yet, is when they make us get in the plank position and pretend we are mountain climbers.

Don loves it when they get the ankle bands out because I always groan. We put both feet inside and then have to side step down the track. Ouch!

These are called TRX rows. I actually like these bands. You lean back and do reverse push ups making sure you squeeze your shoulder blades together when you come up.

This just looks evil, doesn't it? It is called a step-up box. Doing the step ups isn't so bad, but they make me hold a 20 lb. weight in each hand.

This is the foam roller. It can legally be classified as a torture device. When you have tight muscles, this thing makes you scream.

A combination of the physio ball and the medicine ball. Physio balls are my friend (that's the one on the bottom). Medicine balls usually make my arms feel like they are going to fall off.