Friday, May 31, 2013

27 Years

Happy Anniversary, honey! 

"...I found the one my heart loves..." Song of Solomon 3:4

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Chicken Pot Pies

I finally found an easy Chicken Pot Pie recipe! I've looked for years, and this one landed in my lap. I was watching some Everyday Food cooking videos and this one appeared. It looked simple, so I tried it tonight. Yummy! But you have to get the cute ramekins to make it special. Mine are from Kohl's (Bobby Flay).

Chicken Pot Pie

3 T. butter
1 small onion, minced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
2 carrots, diced
5 T. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 c. frozen peas
2 cups diced cooked chicken
2 sheets thawed puff pastry
1 beaten egg

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring 1 minute. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in peas and chicken. Season with salt and pepper.

Divide filling among four ramekins. Roll out puff pastry and cut 4 rounds to fit ramekins (measure with top of ramekin). Cut a small X in center of each round to vent, then place on top of filling. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake at 375 degrees until filling is bubbling and crusts are golden (about 30 minutes).

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Grand Canyon Rafting

For years and years, Don has wanted to go on a rafting trip on the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. He tried to talk me into it many times, and I politely refused. I told him it was not my kind of vacation.
Even though the scenery would be breathtaking, I didn't like the description of the "facilities".

So last week, he and the kids went without me. I had a nice stay-cation at home. I had the added excuse that my shoulder wasn't strong enough for this type of adventure.

Daniel took his camera and was the official photographer of the trip. He took some amazing pictures, which wasn't easy since they were surrounded by water and sand all week. In the above picture, you can see the baby blue color of the "Little Colorado" river which flowed into the Colorado River they were rafting on.

This is the Colorado River flowing up onto one of the sandy beaches they camped on each night. It was a week of being "unplugged" from electronics and becoming one with nature. There wasn't even cell phone service. The river guides had a satellite radio in case of a dire emergency, and even then, it would take a minimum of  four hours for a helicopter to reach them.

They traveled over 300 miles on the river. Each day, they would stop for at least one hike. Many times they hiked to waterfalls like this one.

One hike led them to a cave-like area where Daniel took this silhouette photo of the group. Their group had two large rafts holding about 14 people each.

This would make a great family photo for our Christmas card this year. Daniel just has to Photoshop me in on the end.

This is the real reason I didn't go on the trip. The "Groover", or toilet, was set up each evening and taken down each morning. It was usually hidden discretely behind a rock formation facing the river. If another rafting group happened to float by, you would just have to grin and wave! And what if you needed to go during the middle of the day? It was the 50 degree river or bust.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Patriotic Desserts

For Memorial Day, I tried out some red, white and blue desserts that were simple to make.

In the front are strawberries dipped in melted white chocolate, then dipped in blue sprinkles.

In the back are canning jars filled with:
small pieces of angel food cake, small chunks of strawberries, blueberries, more angel food cake, then more strawberries, topped with whipped cream and some more blueberries.

Much easier than pie!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Chalkboard Paint

Remember the three little jars I bought at the Dollar store? Here they are being put to good use. I stopped at JoAnn Fabrics and purchased a small container of chalkboard paint, and I painted the label part of the jar.

It took about four coats of paint to cover the glass. Then I filled each jar: one with Q-Tips, one with make-up sponges, and one with cotton balls.

I labeled each jar with chalk, and these will go on the counter in my Guest Room bath. I feel so crafty today!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Out of My Comfort Zone

Don asked me to pick up a couple of things for him this week while he was out of town.

These were two small things he needed to help his mom around her house: two things his 87-year old mom couldn't live without.

First, there were weeds growing up between her patio pavers, so he needed Round-Up. Second, the ring that stabilizes her patio table umbrella was missing.

It's not like Don doesn't go to Home Depot every other day, but he asked me to do this for him, so I did.

Home Depot is my least favorite store (besides Lowe's) in the whole world. When I walk through the door, I am overwhelmed with the amount of tiny things they sell and the size of the warehouse.

So the first thing I did, which is something Don would never do, was go to Customer Service and ask for help. The Round-Up was right in the front of the store, so that was easy. The patio table ring, however, was quite a challenge. My new friend, the customer service lady, called someone right away to see if they even sold such a thing. They did, but when we went to the location where they were supposed to be, we couldn't find them. She called again and got more specific directions. Still, we couldn't find them. Then another employee came along and she asked him. He knew right where they were. I never would have found them on my own.

I thanked my new friend for being so persistent. It saved me from having to try Lowe's of all places. And I was back home within the half hour!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Life Without It

I've been getting ready for a garage sale - a garage sale I really don't want to have. I'm doing it for Katherine. She thinks it is easy money. For her, it is.

As I go through the house trying to decide what should go and what should stay, I ask myself this question: Can I imagine life without this? If the answer is "yes", it goes.

Here are a few things I dropped into the pile today:

A blow-up full-size canoe that Don purchased at least 15 years ago. It's still inside the wrapping.
Scanner - the one with the dust beneath the glass that won't come off.
Longaberger magazine basket.
Four glass vases that came with flowers while I was recovering from surgery.
Decorative pillows that don't go with anything.
Three extra suitcases that nobody wants.

I thought about putting Riley in the pile, but I can't imagine life without him.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bell Pepper Eggs


I love scrambled eggs, but after years of eating them, even I needed a change. Eating them sunny side up inside a bell pepper ring makes them look pretty, and they now have added Vitamin C. With a slice of rye toast, what could be better?

Bell Pepper Eggs

Red, green or yellow Bell Peppers, thickly sliced
Olive oil

Lightly coat a frying pan with olive oil.
Place pepper slices in pan.
Crack one egg inside each pepper slice.
Cover pan and cook until egg whites are set (about 5-7 minutes)
Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

$20 at Dollar General

I love the Dollar Store! Look what bargains I came home with today. And I only spent $20.

Garage Sale sign
Roll of wrapping paper
Package of Handi Wipes
Garden gloves
Two packages of flag plates
Two packages of flag napkins
Three rolls of doggie pick-up bags
Two Soft Soaps
Package of paper clips
Two rolls of Scotch tape
Two containers of Stax potato chips
Three glass jars
One package of Q-tips
Four jar grippers

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Life Cut Short

This is what  I woke up to! My baby birds are gone! There must have been one egg that didn't hatch. What could have been so cruel? Was it a squirrel? A raccoon? A hawk? Or was it one of the owls I hear calling outside the window every morning?

I thought this nest was a little vulnerable. No bird had ever built a nest in that location. There was easy access for many predators.

Are mama and papa bird grieving today? Or have they just moved on? Perhaps they were killed defending their young.

Don told me not to dwell on it. He's right. It happens.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Robin's Nest

A robin built a nest in the arbor holding our Wisteria on the deck.

The babies hatched about a week ago, and I've been enjoying watching mama and papa robin fetch worms to feed their young.

They don't like it when I sit on the deck with my camera. They are very suspicious of me.

I didn't stay long because the little ones were hungry, and the parents wouldn't feed them while I watched.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

This is Love

You hugged me when I cried every day.
You slept on the couch.
You moved my arm up and down and out and around.
You bought bags and bags of ice.
You filled my ice machine several times a day.
You helped me on with my sling and helped me out of it too.
You drove me wherever I needed to go .
You went to every doctor appointment.
You rubbed my arm and my back endlessly.
You encouraged me.
You kept me from giving up.
You were there.
That's love.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Stuck Together

Daniel and his friend, Andrew, have been through four graduations together. In Kindergarten, they really didn't know each other yet, but they went to the same school and they graduated together.

It wasn't until around the Fourth grade that they became very good friends. They did all kinds of fun stuff together.

This is a picture of them at their Sixth grade graduation. It looks like Daniel was a little taller than Andrew then.

Six years later, they graduated from high school together.

Then, this weekend, they graduated from college together.

And Andrew's mom (Becky) and I helped them get from point A to point B in the straightest line possible.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Congratulations, Daniel!

Saturday was a big day for Daniel and the 2013 class of Miami University. Here he wears sunglasses, but the sun was not out that day. It was unseasonably cool, and the ceremony was outside in the football stadium, and most people did not come prepared.

The guys from his house on High Street (The Bear Cave) assembled on the front porch before heading to the stadium.

I snapped random pictures of the students filing into the stadium hoping I would get Daniel, and I did! He is the second to last one in the far row.

It was a sea of red, and we did not know where our boy was. We knew he was in there somewhere.

3,300 students graduated this weekend.

We are so proud of Daniel's accomplishments.

We were fortunate to meet up with him after the ceremony.

Katherine looked cute in her dress, but her legs were pretty cold!

Here are the guys back at the house relaxing. They hosted a cookout for their families in the backyard.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Spring is in Bloom

A shot from the back of our house. There are so many plants blooming right now! I wish I could tell you what they are, but a botanist I'm not.

Lovely flowering tree. 

Aren't these pretty?

Gorgeous pink flowering tree. 

Almost in bloom.

Tiny buds.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stuff I Like

It's time for another edition of Stuff I Like! Here goes:

Salt and Pepper containers from World Market. I love that they are big, and I love that they have two openings: one for sprinkling and one for spooning. Brilliant! These can be used for any spices you like.

Betta Food Feeders. We don't have to find a fish-sitter when we go away for a few days or a week. Just plop one of these slow release feeders in the bowl and the Betta can live for a week. We've done it twice, and Henry is still alive. I must say, though, that he went into a coma when we left him in March. We thought he was dead. I am pretty sure it wasn't the Betta Feeder, but it was the temperature in the house. It got down to the low 60's and his glass bowl is sitting on a granite counter. Poor guy almost froze to death.

Best Bully Sticks.  It's the only treat I've found that will keep Riley chewing for more than 20 minutes. 

XL Ziploc Flexible Totes. These storage totes are very sturdy and  just the right shape and size. They are great for storing out of season clothes and blankets. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Senior Thesis Party

One of my volunteer jobs during this school year was helping teach and grade the Senior Thesis papers with my friend Crystal.

It was wonderful to go from concept to outline to first draft, second draft and now final paper with these 22 students. They were so much fun, and so willing to learn, it made teaching a pleasure. They were also very thankful for my help, and they cheered me on during my shoulder surgery and recovery.

Today was final turn in day, and as a tradition, Crystal has a party for them. She provides the chocolate and a chocolate fountain, and the students each bring in something to dip. There were bananas, marshmallows, ice cream cones, Oreos, strawberries, pretzels and animal crackers. The kids were out of their minds with the spread.

Then Crystal put on some music, the shoes came off, and they danced to the Hokey Pokey, YMCA, Monster Mash and Limbo. The boys really got into it. They not only danced, but they built two human pyramids. I missed those shots, but here are a couple of them dancing. Do you think they were happy to be finished?