Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Once every ten years, Don needs to replace his shoes. He has several styles, and fortunately they don't wear out at the same time.

I always think I won't be able to find the same shoe since it has been ten years, but lo and behold, they are always available.

Men must shop this way, and retailers know it. How can they have the same shoe for thirty years?

Not Available

On the other hand, I wanted another pair of the flats I bought last year at this time, and I searched high and low for the same shoe. They don't make that style any more. This is the way it always is with my shoes.

Lesson learned. If I really like a shoe, I need to buy several pair within two months or they will be gone.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Mini Cheesecakes

This is a new dessert I tried tonight. I haven't tasted it yet because it has to chill for two hours, but it sure looks good! Recipe makes 18 mini cheesecakes.

Mini Cheesecakes

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 T. sugar
3 T. butter, melted

3 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 t. vanilla
3/4 c. sugar
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line 18 regular size muffin cups with paper liners.
Mix graham cracker crumbs, 2 T. sugar and melted butter until blended. Press onto bottom of muffin liners.

Beat cream cheese, vanilla and 3/4 c. sugar with mixer until blended. Add eggs, one at a time on low speed, just until blended. Pour mixture over crusts.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until centers are almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 2 hours.

Top with strawberry jam and one sliced strawberry. Garnish with mint springs.

Other toppings: whipped cream and blueberries OR 2 T. Philadelphia Indulgence milk chocolate and 1 t. sweetened flaked coconut.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Don's Summer Project

Don's hobby is now buying and fixing up houses. This is his summer project.
It is a century home in Cuyahoga Falls. That's a bonus...it's close by.

One of the first things he plans to do is refinish the wood floors and replace the windows.
This is the main part of the living room. He is going to take out the built in bookshelves and turn it into a regular wall again.

This is the other side of the family room looking into the kitchen.

The kitchen has these old cupboards that I love.

This is the other side of the kitchen.

The bedroom is nice and roomy.

The house is a duplex. This is just the downstairs unit.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Water Spider

When the pool guys opened the pool yesterday, they found a large spider sitting on the step. They said it was the biggest one they'd seen so far this year.

Fortunately, it was dead. I wouldn't have gotten this close to it with my camera if it were alive.

What kind of spider is this?

It kind of looks like a Wolf Spider.

 I hope there aren't any others out in the backyard!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rx: Go Bowling

A number of years ago, I had an impingement in my right shoulder. It was an annoying pinch that hurt whenever I used my arm. I tried to get it to go away by doing some exercises a physical therapist friend of mine gave me, but it nagged on.

Then one day, our family decided to go bowling just for fun. We bowled three games. Somewhere between the second and third game, my impingement was gone! I thought at the time it was a miracle. It never came back.

So yesterday when I saw my surgeon for a follow-up appointment, I wasn't terribly surprised when he told me I need to go bowling every few days. He said that you get to a point in your physical therapy where you really need to do some sports activities to get your range of motion all the way back. Bowling is the ticket.

I'm shining up Peter's eight-pound Spongebob bowling ball to get ready for next week. I can't wait to tell Rose she's been replaced by a bowling ball.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Check This Out

I've gotten bookmark happy. There are so many bookmarks in my Google Chrome browser that I've lost track of everything. Today I went searching through them to clean house. There are a few I'd like to share:

Shutterbean.com is a photography blog by Tracy Benjamin, but she also shares recipes and other things on her blog. I particularly like her Friday posts which are called I Love Lists . There is a wealth of information on these lists. That's why my Google Chrome bookmarks are overflowing.

Chris Carr wrote several books after battling cancer. She completely changed her diet, and is now in remission. Crazy Sexy Diet, Crazy Sexy Kitchen and Crazy Sexy Cancer Tips are her three books, and here is her Crazy Sexy website.

Daniel told me about this website, The Art of Manliness. He said there is a lot of good manly information on it. It's also interesting for mothers of manly men to read.

Want to send a big cookie to someone? Here is the website for Mrs. Fields 12-inch Cookie Cake.

If you have trouble knowing which colors go together, this website has many, many color palettes to choose from. Never go wrong decorating again. Design Seeds. 

It's about to be grilling season, and what could be easier than making foil packets for the grill. No mess to clean up. Here are 50 Things to Grill in Foil from Food Network.

I always have my phone with me, but not always my camera. So I wanted to learn how to take better iPhone photos. The Grumbles & Grunts website has a nice post on Taking Better Pictures with Your iPhone.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Things Kids Say and Do

I wish I had written down more funny stories of things my kids said and did. Here are a few I came across recently while cleaning out my files: 

The following conversation took place when Katherine was 6, Daniel was 4 and Peter was 3 months old:

Daniel: I want to marry Peter if he becomes a girl.
Mom: Peter is a boy, and he will not become a girl.
Daniel: I can use my imagination.
Daniel: How do you use your imagination, anyway?
Katherine: I'm going to marry Peter if he stays as cute as he is right now.
Mom: That's against the law.
Katherine: I don't care if it's against the law. I'm going to marry him anyway. 

Mom: You're just going to have to be patient.
Katherine: Then I'll go get my doctor kit.

Daniel: Mom, I'm going to tell you something and I'm going to tell Katherine something.
Daniel: Mom, you forgot to make my Captain Hook belt.
Daniel: Katherine, mom forgot to make my belt.

When Daniel was four, he cut a hole in his red turtleneck shirt. The first time he put the shirt on after that, he looked down at the hole and said, "I don't like red shirts anyway."

When Daniel was five, he gave me a birthday present, all wrapped up. He said the wrapping made it look like bird. He pointed out that the bow was my favorite color: red. Then, before I opened it, he said, "well mom, I don't have any girl things, so it's a boy thing." I told him that was OK. Then I opened it. He gave me two Aladdin genie action figures. He said, "it's OK because I don't play with them any more."

When Daniel was six, he was practicing his Superman jump from the coffee table when he had a great idea. He got the big orange ball and placed it in front of the coffee table. He figured if he jumped on top of that, he would spring even higher. Needless to say, the ball rolled, and he missed hitting his head on the table by a fraction of an inch. It knocked him silly. I told him he probably rattled his brain and warned him never to do that again!

A spoonful of bumblebee, anyone?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Roller Coaster Rose

Physical therapy takes place on Mondays and Thursdays with Rose.

For the first six weeks, my exercises were passive, which means Don had to do the lifting of my arm, or I had to use a long PVC pipe and use my left arm to lift my right arm. I wasn't allowed to lift it myself.

In Phase II of my recovery, I can lift my arm myself. I liked it better when Don did it.

Anyway, every Monday when I go to Rose, she scares me or makes me cry. She gets that look on her face like I'm never going to get back to normal and she warns me I need to work harder and push myself. Then every Thursday, she pats me on the back and makes me smile by telling me I'm doing great.

It took me awhile to figure out the psychology behind her devices. I believe she does this on purpose. She wants to push me, but at the same time, she doesn't want me to get discouraged.

I call her Roller Coaster Rose because she makes my emotions rise and fall each week. Today was a Thursday, so I'm happy. All is well with my range of motion. I've got three more days to enjoy accolades, because I know on Monday we will be back on the downswing once again.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Sun-Dried Tomato & Chicken Pasta

This recipe was torn out of a 2009 Hallmark magazine. It was part of their 4-Ingredient Challenge series.

 I cook the chicken using my Juicy Chicken recipe.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Chicken Pasta

In a large pot of water, cook 1 pound of bow-tie pasta (farfalle) according to package directions. Drain well and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, cook 1 lb. skinless chicken breasts. Cut into bite size pieces.

Add 1/2 jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, well drained and chopped (use the whole jar if you would like more).

Add 1 16-ounce jar Classico Alfredo sauce. Stir to combine. Simmer gently for 2-3 minutes to blend the flavors and heat through. Add drained pasta and toss to coat.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How I Met Your Father

Dear children,

One day, someone will ask you how your parents met. The following is written so that you will be able to have an answer.

Your father, upon finishing his graduate degree from Case Western Reserve University, took a job with Arthur Anderson & Co., then one of the top ten accounting firms in the nation.

Only he was not an accountant. AA & Co. had recently started a Consulting division, and that is where your father worked. The Consulting division did not do accounting work. They helped companies with strategic planning and computer systems. By the time your mother graduated from the University of Akron and landed a job at the same firm, your father had been promoted to a Senior level at the firm. Seniors supervised new hires like me.

A couple of weeks before I was to begin my job at AA & Co., all the new hires were invited to attend a staff meeting. So my friend Lisa (also a new hire from Akron U) and I drove to the office for the meeting.

We dressed in our most professional attire. At the time, business women wore skirts, blouses, jackets, and what I would call ribbon bow ties. Lisa and I both had on blue suits with our ribbon bow ties, and as we walked into the East Ohio Gas Building, where AA & Co. offices were housed, a woman in the lobby mistook us for stewardesses because of our dress.

I thought this was hilarious. I'm not sure why I thought it was so funny, but it really tickled my funny bone. So after the staff meeting, when all the new hires were introduced to the group, I raised my hand and asked if I could tell a funny story. The Partner in charge of the meeting said, "Sure", so I began.

I told my funny story about looking like an airline stewardess, and the crowd roared. I'm not sure if they really thought it was funny. They might have just been laughing at the weird new hire. But that is when your father first noticed me. He told me later that he was very impressed with my courage to stand up and tell a joke at the meeting when I didn't know anyone yet.

I'm not sure if your father orchestrated this himself or if it was pure luck, but he "happened" to be between job assignments when Lisa and I started work. It was up to a Senior who was available in the office to supervise new hires as they prepared for training school. We had two weeks in the office before we were shipped off to St. Charles, Illinois for a three week boot camp.

That was when I started to notice your father.

Lisa and I would work away in our little office, and we would straighten up when we heard your father coming down the hall. We knew it was him because his ankle cracked and popped. It was easy to hear him coming from far away.

There was a rule at AA & Co. that said employees were not allowed to date each other. During orientation, they made it very clear that you could get fired for this offense. So when your father asked me out after a couple of months, I was horrified. I told him I could not and would not go out with him because I didn't want to lose my job! He said to let him know if I changed my mind.

I'm not sure how long after that I changed my mind, but we started to go out incognito. It was very difficult to date like that. Whenever there was an office event or party, we pretended we didn't know each other, but on weekends, we would drive far across town and go to the movies or out to dinner. It made me a nervous wreck.

Two years later, after many people found out about our secret rendezvous, your father asked me to marry him. I left AA & Co. for another job, we got married, had kids and lived happily ever after.

Of course it wasn't that simple, but I have to save some stories for another day.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Way Back When

I'm not sure how old Don is in this picture, but I'm guessing he's around 6 or 7 because he's missing a front tooth.

 This is my second grade picture, so I'm probably around 7 or 8.

How did these two sweet little kids meet?  It's a long story. I'll keep you in suspense until another day.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Way We Were

Don's senior picture.
 1975 graduate of Richmond Heights High School.
Love that hairdo.

My senior picture.
1977 graduate of Kenmore High School
Overdid it a little on the eyebrow tweezing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Crackled Glass

We couldn't have made this happen if we tried.

Yesterday, after we heard a pop in our family room, Don and I watched a six foot tall glass window, which separates our family room from the sun porch, crackle into a million pieces. We just stood there and waited for the glass to finally crumble onto the floor. To our amazement, after all the crackling was finished, the glass was still standing.

We think this window is made of tempered glass.

So then we had to figure out how to remove the glass pane. We could have stuck a finger in the middle and made it all fall down, but Don had a better idea: Duck Tape!

Today we set to work taping the glass, one strip at a time, which is a tedious process. Each piece of tape meant the possibility of the glass collapsing. After half the glass was covered, we needed a break. I'm trusting Don on this. He says once the glass is completely covered, he can remove the six foot pane and take it out to the trash. Look out trash collectors!

Here are some photos to show you what it looks like:

This is about half the glass window.

A different angle, looking into the sun porch.

It sort of looks like a spider web.

Partially covered with black Duck Tape.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Editorial Calendar

My Life with Riley blog is going to be three years old in June. I just checked the blog statistics, and found out that I've written 780 posts. I've had 25,693 page views from 161 people in the United States and four in Russia. Russia?

I write this blog for myself, really. But I sure hope I'm not boring my small audience. I love the books I've printed out every 100 posts. They are my new scrapbooks. They chronicle my thoughts, ideas, memories, and family events.

The incredible thing about this blog is that I have never once planned ahead. Each day, I try to think of something to write about. If I can't think of anything, I skip that day or fill in with a recipe!

This doesn't mean I haven't wanted to plan ahead. I think planning ahead is a good thing. So I'm going to try to create an editorial calendar. This would contain ideas for the coming days and weeks. I can always change my mind if something exciting happens that day, but if not, I'll already have the start of something to say.

I already use Google Calendar for my daily schedule, so I'll just add a new calendar for the blog. Here's the plan:

1. Plan five posts per week.
2. Come up with ideas for the categories I already write about: family, book reviews, confessions, home & garden, recipes, and of course RILEY!
3. Plug the ideas into days on the calendar.
4. Actually refer to the calendar (this will be the hard part).
5. Enjoy a stress-free week since I don't have to think of what I'm going to write about :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

Watch Your Shoulder!

It's that time of year again. Cardinals are nesting in the backyard, and all day long, a boy cardinal sees himself in the window.

His reflection makes him think another male cardinal is trying to stake out his territory. A fight ensues over and over again. The bird is relentless in his attack.

I want to warn him. I know what it feels like to hit a window. He's going to snap his beak, get a concussion, or worse, tear his rotator cuff.

Then he will need surgery and have to go through months of physical therapy. By the time he is all better, mating season will be over, and that will make him very sad.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Saucy Asparagus Casserole

I made a new side dish tonight that was extremely easy and very tasty. It doesn't look that great in the picture, but trust me, it is worth a try if you like asparagus.

Saucy Asparagus Casserole

2 lbs. asparagus, washed & trimmed
1 can Cream of Asparagus soup
1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. plain bread crumbs (I used Panko)
2 T. butter, melted

Place the asparagus in a 13 x 9 x 2 inch shallow baking dish.
Stir the soup and milk together in a small bowl and pour over the asparagus.
Mix bread crumbs with melted butter in a small bowl and sprinkle over the soup mixture.
Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Makes 6 servings.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Could it be?

Could it be that this little boy is graduating from college in five weeks? 
Daniel - 4 months

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Opening Day

Yesterday was a big day for Don. He got the Rally Monkey out of the drawer and placed him in a prominent spot in our family room.

It was opening day for the Cleveland Indians. They played the Toronto Blue Jays in Toronto.

Even though the Indians have not won the World Series since 1948, Don is hopeful again this year.

The Tribe is off to a great start. They won their first two games!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Stuff You Should Know

History Chicks is one of the podcasts I listen to for entertainment when otherwise in a vegetative zone (walking, driving, on an airplane, trying to fall asleep).

Recently, Katherine introduced me to another great entertaining podcast called Stuff You Should Know. There are over 300 episodes dating back to 2010.

The hosts, Josh and Chuck, are funny and easy to listen to. They make every topic a learning experience without feeling like you are in a classroom.

Here are some topics they cover:

How the U.S. Postal Service Works
How the Papacy Works
How Jet Lag Works
How Dog Shows Work
How Book Banning Works
How Tabloids Work
How Moss Works
How Lie Detectors Work
How Diamonds Work
How Floods Work
How SPAM Works
How Dreadlocks Work

The topics are all over the map. And this is just a very small sampling. To see a full list go to Podcasts - Stuff You Should Know.

On the plane ride home today, I listened to Prisons: Not as Fun as you Think. I never thought prison would be fun, but did you know that 1 in 13 adults in the state of Georgia are incarcerated? I'm glad I don't live there!