Friday, June 28, 2013

Dry Toes

It's no secret that Riley is an ornery dog.

I'll let him out in the morning to go potty, and most of the time he comes back in without doing his business.

His excuse? It's raining. The grass is too wet. I want my cookie now.

When I am going to leave him for half the day, it is important that he has used the potty before I go. So I will let him out the front door so I can watch.

This morning I was in a hurry, and he did not want to get his feet wet. He stayed on the walk until I gave him a boost in the rear. Then he tiptoed through the mulch and hopped up on the retaining wall. No feet in the grass.

What a silly dog.

He's giving me a look because I went back in the house to get my camera. He doesn't like getting his picture taken.

I eventually coerced him into getting his toes wet so I could be on my way.

Thursday, June 27, 2013


I've been blogging for three years. Happy birthday to Life With Riley.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rip Van Winkle

Don's mom is in the hospital, and she doesn't like being there. Who would.

By Monday night, she hadn't slept in almost two days. This made her very confused and cantankerous. Her regular sleep aid wasn't working, so the nurses gave her something new.

Once she fell asleep, she slept and slept and slept. Everyone began to call her Rip Van Winkle. In all, she slept 34 hours straight. Even after she woke up, she had a hard time keeping her eyes open.

That was quite a nap. I would love to be able to sleep like that! Imagine how refreshed I'd feel with 34 hours of straight shut eye.

Monday, June 24, 2013

I Brake for Yard Sales

I don't normally watch much TV, but when I was chained to the recliner icing my shoulder for months, I watched Good Morning America a few times.

That's when I first found out who Lara Spencer was. She's just so cute. I love her personality.

Then I found out she wrote a book about going "Sale-ing" on weekends with her kids. I liked her even more. She moonlights as an antiques dealer and interior designer.

I love it that a celebrity such as Lara loves to go to yard sales. So do I. And I think I've gotten my kids hooked too.

Her book highlights many of her finds and shows how she used them in her house. There are also tips on how to find the best deals, what to bring with you and how to re-purpose what you buy.

Love this book. I checked it out from the library, and you can too.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Bowler

It's funny how one thing leads to another.

Several years ago, Daniel painted a small figurine of a boy holding a bowling ball.  It was painted in bright colors: red, blue, and green.

He must have been tired of looking at it, because he set it out to be sold at our garage sale. No one bought it.

The next thing I knew, Daniel was in the front lawn with his "Bowler" and a can of silver spray paint. He sprayed the entire thing silver. It gave him so much satisfaction that he then looked around for other things to spray paint silver. He was on the verge of becoming a spray paint maniac when he gave up and left the statue in the grass to dry.

We all admired it. It looked so much more valuable in that color.

I don't know whose idea it was, but someone came up with a new tradition: the silver bowler could go to the person in the family who bowled the highest game at any given family bowling outing.

I'm currently in possession of the trophy. Don, Peter and I went bowling on Wednesday, and I had the high score of 151. I've set my prize on top of a bookshelf in my office. I'm very proud of it. We'll see how long I can hold onto it. I know Peter is dying to win it from me.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Baked Oatmeal

Yum! I found a great baked oatmeal recipe at which is a great website loaded with healthy recipes and food ideas.

It takes about an hour to make this dish, but it can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.

Although I ate a very healthy breakfast in a bowl, I felt like I was eating dessert. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup sugar for 8 servings, but next time I'm going to try leaving the sugar out. I think the fruit will make it sweet enough.

I used blueberries and apples because that's what I had. You can put peaches, strawberries, raspberries or whatever fruit you have into this dish. It smells amazing with apples.

Baked Oatmeal

2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. allspice (I didn't have any so I left this out)
1/2 t. cinnamon

2 1/2 cups sliced fruit
1 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Stonyfield Banilla)
2 eggs
1/2 cup maple syrup, honey, brown sugar or sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8 x 8 inch pan with PAM. Mix dry ingredients then add wet ingredients. Pour into pan and cover with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 25 minutes.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I'm embarrassed to admit that I am afraid of something the size of my fingernail. Terrified, really.

It's a phobia I've had since the day I was stung at recess during First Grade. I was spinning around on the playground when I inadvertently smacked a bee and it stung me. I became hysterical and the principal had to call my mom. So traumatic was the incident it stayed with me my whole life.

On our honeymoon, Don and I were walking back to our room from the tennis courts when a bee got caught in my hair. I became a screaming banshee, throwing my racket across the road. That was when Don found out about my phobia.

When we had children he made me promise I would not show fear around bees because he didn't want the kids to be afraid of  them too. Sometimes I was brave, sometimes I wasn't.

Give me a snake, a spider, a mouse...just not a bee.

The most difficult test of my courage came when I was a librarian. Every spring, bees the size of tarantulas came out of the ceiling and flew around the library. I had to be brave because students came into the library all day, and I was the adult. They would scream, and I would tell them to just ignore the creature and it would leave them alone.

I was talking to Katherine about this last night. She had just learned about phobias in one of her classes. Her advice was to gradually expose myself to bees by first looking at pictures then sitting outside where they are flying around.

It's not the sight of bees that scares me. It's the sound they make. If I put my ear buds in and listen to music while I'm outside, bees can fly around me and I won't flinch. When I hear the buzz,I go into fight or flight mode, and it's usually flight.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Cake Stand

I know you're not supposed to go to garage sales the same day you have a garage sale of your own, but that's just what I did.

At 2:00 on Friday afternoon, we closed up shop at our house. I had to drive to Stow to Eddy's Bike Shop to get Don a Father's Day gift, and I passed a sign that read: "Great American Garage Sale".

There was a very large tent with lots and lots of stuff to look at, so I pulled over to the side of the road and had a look.

There on one of the tables was a cake stand that was so gorgeous I grabbed it. To my surprise, the lid weighed about five pounds and the base wasn't much lighter. Amazing! I haven't been this excited about a purchase in a long time.

The man who sold it to me for $5.00 said the cake stand sat on his grandmother's counter from the time he was a little boy. She always had some sort of sweet thing in there for him every time he came for a visit. I love the idea. It's my new tradition.

Don't worry, the lid is too heavy for me to pick up, so I won't get in there to eat the sweets. I'll just look at them.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

I could never go to the store and find a card that would say the right thing about my father.

After the age of 14, he was absent from my life. He went his own way, abandoning me, my mom and my three siblings.

It was a selfish thing to do.

I was mad at him for many years, at times I even hated him.

It wasn't until I received a call from my aunt telling me my dad was dying that my heart began to soften toward him.

I met with him or talked to him on the phone almost weekly the last six months of his life. By God's grace I was able to forgive him for all the lost years. He was 75 and I was 48.

Oh how I wish I would have been blessed with an awesome dad. One who would have loved me, cared for me, protected me and cherished me. For some reason, I wasn't. But God promises to be a father to the fatherless, and he did that for me.

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling." Psalm 68:5

Friday, June 14, 2013

No Is a Complete Sentence

Don't say yes to every request that comes your way or you will soon feel like you are drowning.
It's alright to say no.
Be polite.
Say no, thank you.
Say I wish I could, but...

Stop and pray about it first.
Is is something that fits in with your priorities?
Is is something that will take away from what is more important?
Is it something you really want to do?

If not, say a guilt-free no.
You don't have to justify your answer.
No is a complete sentence.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Project: Get Healthy

I've gotten way off track with the healthful eating plan I began in April 2008. At that time I was close to being diagnosed with diabetes, so I buckled down and lost 40 pounds in nine months. I felt better than I had in years.

Slowly, over the past three years, I've let 30 pounds creep back on. Not good. I don't even want to know what my average blood sugar has been.

So tomorrow, June 14, 2013, I will begin what I'm calling Project: Get Healthy. The goal is to get my weight back down and keep it down.

I will check in monthly so my faithful blog readers will keep me accountable. You will hear about my progress and any tips I come up with along the way.

I'm not going to be able to do this without the help of my strong and mighty God. He is the one I will turn to when I want to eat the cookie that should not go in my mouth.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

We're Not Pack Rats

Children for sale - 50 cents apiece.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Freezer Burn

Not one, but two of my children get to be in the movies. If you recall, Daniel was an extra in The Ides of March with George Clooney and Ryan Gosling when it was filmed at Miami University.

Now, Peter has the opportunity to be an extra in the filming of a movie called Freezer Burn in downtown Cleveland. One of Peter's friends has a neighbor who is a casting recruiter. They need some extra people the next two days.

He had to pack a suitcase full of clothes so the wardrobe staff could decide what he should wear in the scene.

All that practice with the dress up box really paid off.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

What's on My Desk?

I'm kind of a slob when it comes to my desk. I try to keep it organized, but piles appear by the end of each day. I'm embarrassed to take a picture of my desk and show it to you. I will only show you the half that is on my right side. I won't even straighten it up so you can see the real me. I'm being really transparent here folks.

What is all that stuff? Besides the obvious (pen, stapler, calculator, tape, mouse, etc.):

1. iPad box (my iPad is downstairs in the kitchen).
2. Kindle (wiped out the data since I can now use my iPad as an e-reader; looking for a home for old Kindle).
3. Hospital release papers from Don's mom's week-long stay in the hospital last week.
4. Life Group binder from Friday night's small group Bible study.
5. Bible tossed on top of the pile after church this morning.
6. Several books I'm in the middle of reading.
7. iPhone charger. Don must have put that there (it's not mine).
8. Cook's Illustrated Holiday Entertaining magazine unearthed in a cabinet downstairs this week while cleaning out for the garage sale.
9. My 50th birthday scrapbook put together by my friend Diane (also unearthed this week).

I guess that's about it. But that's only the half of it. I'm not showing you what's on my left side.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Flour Power

I learned this trick from Alton Brown. He's the guy on the Food Network show Good Eats.

When I'm making cookies and I need to pour 2 1/2 cups of flour from a bowl into the batter without making a mess, I do this:

I take a flimsy paper plate and pour about a third of the flour onto it. Then I fold the paper plate in half as I let the flour slide into the mixer. I repeat this until all the flour is mixed in.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

T-Shirt Quilt

What do you do will all those high school t-shirts you accumulate? You can either let them clutter your closet, or you can make a t-shirt quilt out of them.

Several years ago, Katherine handed me a big bag of her high school t-shirts and asked me to make her a t-shirt quilt. Then she went on her merry way. The bag is still in the closet.

Several weeks ago, Peter asked me to make a t-shirt quilt, but he volunteered to help me. So I said OK. There's something about Peter that makes me get my rear end in gear. I think it is his persistence.

Katherine...I promise to do yours next!

Making a t-shirt quilt isn't as difficult as we thought it would be. With a few key quilt cutting tools, it is a breeze. We have 10 out of 25 blocks finished. There will be five rows of five when we are done.

I've always wanted to make a quilt, and this will be the first one. Soon, I'll be able to check that off my bucket list.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Life is Boring Without Mom

I can always tell when Riley has had a bad day. When he is left at home alone too long, he doesn't know what to do with himself.

To take out his frustrations, he goes from wastebasket to wastebasket, shredding any sort of tissue he can find. Then he just leaves it outside the bathroom door for me to pick up.

In the main floor bathroom, I replaced the open garbage can with one that requires you to step on a pedal to open it. So far Riley hasn't figured out how to get that one open.

I might have to invest in three more of those for the upstairs bathrooms. Then what will Riley do?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Shoulder Update

Just so I don't leave anyone hanging, my shoulder almost feels normal now.

It will be four months post-op on Wednesday, and I am feeling pretty good. I'm sleeping in bed, on my back without pain, and that is a very good thing.

My doctor said I can do whatever I want (except play tennis) as long as it does not cause me pain. I can even ride my bike outside now as long as I don't fall off.

I've got some strengthening to do and I have to keep my shoulder flexible by doing stretches every day, and I am supposed to continue bowling.

I think I deserve a T-shirt that says "I Survived Rotator Cuff Surgery".

But I will live without one as long as I don't have to do that again.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Chicken Thighs Braised in White Wine

This has to be the loveliest presentation of food I have made in my 27 years of cooking for Don. The asparagus is a little lopsided, but just look at those chicken thighs piled up on top of the mound of rice with a lemon slice on top. There's even some parsley and garlic in there as part of the sauce.

This dish is very tasty, however, I mistakenly added too much lemon juice. I had squeezed a half lemon and put the whole amount in instead of the 1 tablespoon the recipe called for. So don't make that mistake. It was a bit sour!

Chicken Thighs Braised in White Wine

8 bone-in skinless chicken thighs (I used boneless)
Salt & Pepper
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 c. dry white wine
1/4 t. dried thyme
1 lemon, cut into 8 thin slices
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. cold butter, cut into pieces
2 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley
Cooked rice for serving (optional)

In a 12-inch skillet with a tight fitting lid, arrange thighs, bone side up; season with salt and pepper. Add garlic, wine and thyme. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook, 30 minutes.

Turn chicken over. Place a lemon slice on each thigh; cover and continue simmering until tender, about 15 minutes (less if thighs are boneless). Leaving garlic and liquid in skillet, transfer chicken and lemon slices to a platter. Cover tightly with foil to keep warm.

Bring liquid in skillet to a boil; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Add butter, parsley, and lemon juice; stir until butter has softened and sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken with sauce and rice.