Friday, August 31, 2012

Too Calm

I dozed off in the recliner about a half hour ago. Don saw me do it because I heard him say to Riley, "mom's asleep".

He saw me fall asleep with a mug of Calm tea in my hand. Do you think he would come over and take the mug from me? No, he left me there snoozing with my mouth open.

After about twenty minutes I woke up. I didn't wake up because I was well rested. I woke up because my hand let go of the mug of Calm tea, and the tea ran down my leg and between the cushion of the chair. I might have even hit Riley.

Thanks for looking out for me, dear.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

First Rule of Fashion

A package came in the mail today. I opened the box, and inside was a pair of Easy Spirit shoes. I was so excited! I am of an age where a pair of Easy Spirit shoes makes me excited.

I ordered these shoes so I would be able to walk around Spain without blisters, aches and pains. I could wear my Brooks running shoes, but that would be a little too frumpy even for me. Easy Spirit had a pair of shoes called "Reinvent" that looked a little more stylish.

Slipping these shoes on my feet was the highlight of my week. You would not believe how comfortable they are. I know they aren't the sexiest shoes on the market, but as Don always says, "the first rule of fashion is comfort."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is it Bright Enough?

Although painting interior walls is not considered rocket science, choosing the right paint color is. It took me and Don three tries before we got the color of our bathroom right. Neither one of us has that elusive gene that allows one to mix and match colors like a pro.

Katherine chose a shade of orange for the Indiana house living room. It looked like a winner on the little paint chip from Lowes, so we bought a gallon. We put it on one wall. It was kind of bright...a scary pumpkin kind of bright. The blue painter's tape around the edges didn't help.

After a couple of hours, it began to grow on us. It darkened to the correct shade, and Katherine said she could live with it. It certainly brightens up the room.

If she ever gets tired of the orange room, she can always move to the green room. That's where her desk is. All the other walls in this room are white. The green wall is an accent wall. It will look better when the shelves and bulletin boards are up. Right now it looks like the green monster.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Senior Thesis

I started a volunteer job last week. My friend, Crystal, teaches high school English, and she needed an assistant to help her with Senior Thesis class. In this class, she guides seniors through a year-long research paper.

Students follow the research process one step at a time, producing a twenty-page paper by early May. Each checkpoint along the way, I will help Crystal grade the work. My key role will be in helping students locate relevant sources for their research. That's where librarians come in handy. Later on in the process, I will meet with students one on one to give them feedback on their rough drafts.

Since the seniors have all year to write this paper, there is no excuse for late work! When they are finished, we hope to have them prepared for any paper they may have to write in college.

I love research, so this is right up my alley.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tomato Knife

Do you have a tomato knife? If not, you need to buy this one. I've had mine for many years. A friend was over the other night, and she brought some tomatoes from her garden. When I gave her my tomato knife to use for slicing the tomatoes, she couldn't get over how nice it operated.

It is lightweight, durable and never needs sharpening. it slices through tomatoes like butter.

I bought mine at the Kitchen Collection at the Aurora Outlets a long time ago. I stopped there today to get one for my friend, but the store clerks said they no longer carry the knife.

A quick check on Amazon produced the knife. You can get the Rada Cutlery Knife for 99 cents! Just to prove it is the real deal, the same knife can be purchased from Vermont Country Store for $9.95. You can choose which place to purchase it...

Next time you have an order from Amazon, just drop this product in your cart. You won't regret it (unless, of course, you don't like tomatoes).

Thursday, August 23, 2012

How Did This Happen?

I remember Peter's first day of  Kindergarten like it was yesterday.  He was a sweet little five-year-old who barely knew how to tie his shoes or zip his jacket. He still said "free" instead of "three". And he missed his mommy before the lunch time bell.

I remember Peter's first day of college like it was this morning. Probably because it was this morning. He's a sweet eighteen-year-old who knows how to tie his shoes and zip his jacket. He probably won't miss his mommy as much as his mommy will miss him.

He's got two great roommates (Daniel and Jordan) to keep him company, so I'm not worried about him.

I tried not to cry as we walked out the door, but I couldn't help it. I'm his mom.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I've been snacking too much! It's so easy for mindless eating to creep into my day. Once I get going, nothing's off limits.

I really can't afford to eat bad stuff. I need to stop! Here is a list of things to do instead of snacking.

1. Go for a walk
2. Call a friend
3. Make a To Do List
4. Write a note to someone
5. Read a book
6. Plan a healthy meal
7. Brush your teeth
8. Say a prayer
9. Drink a glass of water
10. Wash your car
11. Count your blessings
12. Plan a trip
13. Look at old pictures
14. Finish a project
15. Do something nice for someone

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Moo Cards

While out to dinner Saturday night with friends from Minnesota, I discovered that Sherry was a fellow blogger. When we decided to exchange blog addresses, she whipped out her beautifully designed business card, and I scrambled to write my blog address on a napkin. Since the napkins were cloth and I didn't have a pen, Don offered to email my blog address to her from his phone.

This got me thinking. Why can't I have a business card? I'm not in business, but I often tell people about my blog. The Life with Riley blog address isn't easy to remember. I thought this was a terrific idea.

I researched different printing options. I liked the best. They have beautiful ready-made designs. Fifty business cards can be printed for $19.99. They also have mini business cards (half the size of regular ones) which run the same price for 100. I haven't decided which size to get yet, but I'm definitely ordering some of these!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Our Favorite Trail So Far

Don and I have discovered most of our bike trails by accident. Last week we biked north on the Bike & Hike trail from Boston Mills Road. We kept going and going until we came to the end of the path. There, we found a trailhead where we can park our car on Alexander Road.

If we had bothered to look on the internet for a Bike & Hike map, we wouldn't have had to discover the trails by trial and error.

The Bike & Hike Trail Map

We live right by Pettibone Road which turns into Alexander Road if you drive west. We were very excited to find a Bike and Hike trailhead only 24 minutes from our house. Our last two rides were from Alexander Road almost to Boston Mills Road. This gives us a nice 15 mile ride with some decent hills in the middle around Brandywine Falls.

If we want, we can continue riding south as far as Route 91 in Munroe Falls. That would be a measly 42 mile ride. And we could even continue farther, looping back up to Barlow Road for an additional 13 miles. There are endless possibilities.

This is what the tunnel looks like near Brandywine Falls (except the green stuff is brown right now from the dry summer we've had).

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Book Safe

Peter, Katherine and I made a trip to the Chagrin Falls library book sale this afternoon for the sole purpose of buying a very fat book (at least that was Peter's purpose). Katherine and I had other ideas.

The big fat book will be used to make a book safe, a.k.a. dorm room security. It's a place to hide your valuables. No student would look inside an ugly book.

Peter made one of these for Daniel a couple of years ago. It was a Christmas gift. Here's what you do:

1. Buy a big fat book (or sacrifice one from your shelves at home).
2. Temporarily cover the front, back and first 20 pages of the book with plastic so glue doesn't get on them.
3. Mix 6 ounces glue with 1 ounce water.
4. With the book closed, carefully apply 2-3 coats of glue using a paintbrush to the outside pages.
5. Weigh down the book so the pages don't warp, and let the glue dry for several hours.
6. Remove the plastic from the book.
7. Twenty pages in, draw the secret compartment outline with a pencil (leave a 1-inch border all around the pages).
8. Using a box cutter or Xacto knife, cut the pages (several at a time) in the shape of the outline. (Don't cut through too many pages at once)
9. Apply glue to the inside pages of the compartment and let dry.
10. Insert valuables and place on bookshelf.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chicken and Stuffing

Daniel leaves for his senior year of college tomorrow. All his stuff is still in the house from last year, so he doesn't need our help moving in.

I offered him a recipe request for his last supper tonight, and he wanted Chicken and Stuffing. He also wanted to learn how to make it. I thought it was already on the blog, but when I checked, it was not there. So here it is! It's one of the easiest meals you can make.

Chicken and Stuffing

3 cups of cooked chicken (I usually get a rotisserie chicken and tear it apart)
1 large bag Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing (red bag)
5 T. butter
2 cups water
1 can cream chicken soup
1 soup can milk

Line bottom of 9 x 13 pan with chicken.
Whisk together soup and milk. Pour over top of chicken.
Melt butter in water in a large saucepan. Pour stuffing from bag into butter/water mixture and stir.
Scoop stuffing on top of chicken and sauce.
Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Pepperoni Bread

This is Peter's recipe. Actually, it is Mrs. Criswell's recipe. Peter learned how to make it at his friend Daniel's house. Mrs. Criswell was born in Italy, and she is an excellent cook. I keep meaning to get over there and learn how to make her spaghetti sauce.

According to Maria, the best pizza dough is from the Mustard Seed market in Solon. She also endorses Heinen's fresh pizza dough.

Pepperoni Bread

1 package of fresh pizza dough (or make your own if you are ambitious)
Mozzarella cheese
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil

Let the dough sit out on the counter for an hour or two.
Remove dough from bag and rub olive oil all over it.
Roll out the dough in a large rectangle shape.
Sprinkle the dough with as much Mozzarella cheese as you want.
Cover the cheese with as much pepperoni as you want.
Roll the dough up hot dog style (as Peter says), pinching in the ends as you go.
Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper.

Bake in oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes. It should be nice and brown on top.

HINT: Make two of these because one is never enough!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Grand Fish

I don't have any grand babies yet, but I do have two grand fish. 

Daniel came home with this gold Beta fish on Thursday. One of the intern girls could not take it home on the airplane. Daniel, being the sweet boy that he is, offered to take it with him. His fish is named Fish.

Peter brought this blue Beta fish home last summer. The circumstances were similar, but we won't go into the details. Let's just say that Peter is a sweet boy too. His fish is named Henry.

Henry and Fish can't live together because Beta fish will eat each other's heads off (literally). I will be fish-sitting Henry when Peter leaves for college. Daniel plans to take Fish to Oxford. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Other People's Blogs

I love to read other people's blogs. Here are some I've found lately with great information on them.

Petite Lemon Blog
This blog has a great tutorial for making a burp cloth. Great for a baby shower. These are really expensive in little boutique shops. I've seen them.

The Kitchen
I learned how to spiral cut a hot dog before putting it on the grill. More surface area gets browned.

Tiny Twig Goes Out on a Limb
Besides loving the name of this blog and her No-Brainer Wardrobe ebook, this blogger is starting a new series on No-Brainer Blogging (tips for blogging well). I can't wait.

Power of Moms
I liked this post one of my friends on Facebook mentioned. It's about how moms can have it all, just not all at once.

Michael Hyatt
This blog has a lot of leadership information, but it also has many posts about others things I am interested in. I can sure use some tips on creating more energy in my life.

Shutter Sisters
Photography tips and projects to get your creative juices flowing.

Lisa Storms
Here is a very cut way to package a cupcake.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Sizzler

A very short-lived fashion fad of the early 1970's was the Sizzler dress. It lasted about as long as Hot Pants.

I only remember this because I wore a Sizzler dress to school one day in ninth grade. I was sent home before I sat down in homeroom. My cousin Kathy was a co-conspirator. I don't know how we got past our mothers that morning.

This dress came with matching panties, and it looked like something you'd see on Serina Williams at Wimbledon. I had no intention of playing tennis, only showing off my high fashion style among other things.

I wish I had a photo to prove the story is true. You'll just have to trust me on this one.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

I Need to Read

I haven't been reading much lately. This is highly unusual for me. With the Olympics on in the evening and the high level of stress this summer, I've been more fidgety than normal. I start a book, read the first couple of chapters and get distracted. I put a bookmark on page 35 and move on to the next good-looking book in the stack. I currently have about 10 books with bookmarks. Yikes!

According to my priorities, there are two types of reading: my Bible, and everything else.  My Bible comes first. I try to read a chapter every morning while I sip my morning tea. Everything else comes after that.

The Everything Else category can be broken down into fiction and non-fiction. I prefer non-fiction to fiction. If you were to look at my bookshelves, you would notice that in two seconds flat. I kind of have to force myself to read fiction. And the fiction I read is usually based on a true story or is historical fiction which has some true elements in it. Reading fantasy and science fiction are like a trip to Home Depot for me. You have to drag me there.

With millions of books beckoning to be read, how do I choose? Define reading goals based on my interests and priorities, and make lists. Don't get distracted.


A. Reading priorities
1) Read my Bible first, before anything else. This is non-negotiable.
2) Read books that encourage spiritual growth.
3) Read biographies and books about history
4) Read fiction for pleasure

B. Read at least one hour a day
C. Read 50 books a year
D. Keep track of the books I read and how they impacted my thinking/living

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Penne with Chicken Thighs

What do you do when you have some chicken thighs sitting in your refrigerator and you need to make dinner?

You Google "chicken thighs" and look through the recipes that come up on the screen.

I found one on the Pioneer Woman website that was simple. I had all the ingredients on hand except the Penne pasta. I did have Elbow pasta which made a fine substitute.

Penne with Chicken Thighs

8 whole chicken thighs, Bone-in, Skin-on
Salt and pepper
2 T. olive oil
1 whole large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, mashed
2 jars (24 ounces each) Marinara sauce
Fresh basil to taste
Parmesan cheese  for sprinkling
16 ounces Penne pasta

Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown chicken thighs quickly on both sides until golden brown, about two minutes per side. Remove to a separate plate.

Pour off all but 1 T. oil. Add onions and garlic to pan and stir to cook about 3 minutes. Pour in marinara sauce and stir to heat. Add chicken thighs back into sauce. Cover and simmer 1 hour.

Cook pasta according to package instructions. Serve one chicken thigh with sauce over pasta. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

History Chicks

I have a hard time walking and riding in the car without talking to someone or listening to someone else talk. If I can't have a real person with me, I take my iPod along. Instead of listening to music, I usually listen to a book or a podcast.

A podcast I recently discovered is The History Chicks. Two women (Beckett Graham and Susan Vollenweider) present history in an informal discussion format. Beckett seems to be the history professor and Susan the casual learner.

All of the episodes are about women in history. So far I've listened to Helen Keller, Lizzie Borden, Marie Antoinette, Laura Ingalls Wilder and the 1950's Housewife.

If you like history, this podcast is very informative and entertaining. They've done their research, and they present the information in a non-boring way. Their website has show notes for every episode with links to all kinds of extra information, websites, photos and recommended books for further research.

I can't wait to listen to the rest of the shows. Some of the featured women are: Ella Fitzgerald, Clara Barton, Abigail Adams, Queen Victoria and fictional characters such as Alice in Wonderland and Cinderella.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Working Dog

Photo by Katie Heginbotham
Shetland Sheepdogs are part of the Herding Group in the Westminster Kennel Club. Along with the instinct to herd, they are faithful companions and guardians of their owners.

I think Shelties like to have a job. Without sheep to herd, their job becomes sticking like glue to the one they love. Riley loves me. I know this because he cannot leave my side. He must know where I am every moment of the day and night.

When I am a couch potato, he is a faithful couch potato. When I am washing the dishes, he waits patiently within sight of me. When I go to bed, he goes to bed. When I get up, he gets up.

To tease him, I hide in the house when he is outside. When someone lets him back in, he races around the house trying to find me. He will get in a panic if he can't locate me. When I start laughing, he finds me.

So adorable, so sweet, so lovable, my Riley boy.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Riley Meets Jake

I might be a little bit biased, but I think there is nothing cuter in this world than a Sheltie puppy. My friend, Becky, who lost her beloved Sheltie (Buddy) brought a new puppy home this weekend. His name is Jake. He is ADORABLE! Katherine and I couldn't wait to meet him, so we took Riley over today for a play date. Below are some photos Becky's daughter (Katie) took. She's a really good photographer.

This is Jake! He is a Tri-Color Sheltie. He's four months old.

At first, Jake was a little intimidated by Riley. He kept hiding under the chair. Riley is SO intimidating!

After awhile, Jake got up his nerve and came out from his hiding place. Riley was a nice boy.

They even ran around a little.

Katie with Jake and Katherine with Riley.