Saturday, November 30, 2013

Wunderlist



I have a new way of keeping track of my To Do List. I signed up on my computer, then added the APP to my phone and iPad. Now my to do list is always synchronized and handy.

This free APP is extremely easy to use. I have set up separate To Do Lists for projects I'm working on, everyday tasks, Christmas, and books I want to read.

I can assign a date to the task or flag it as important. Reminders can be set to notify me to do the task as well.

All my To Do's will now be in one place, and I love seeing those little boxes checked off.

There is a paid upgrade with additional features. The main benefit allows you to collaborate with other people on projects.

Go to Wunderlist to check it out.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Simple Thanksgiving


It didn't feel like Thanksgiving today. It was the smallest group we've ever had. Five people and a ten pound turkey. Daniel was in southern California, and grandma was with us, so that made five people. Peter had the honor of carving the turkey, and he did a fine job.



Even with such a small group, Turkey Day had to go on. Here was my simple menu:

Appetizers:
Shrimp Cocktail
Cheese Balls and Crackers

Main Course:
Turkey & Gravy
Stuffing
Pioneer Woman Mashed Potatoes
Roasted Asparagus
Spinach Casserole

Dessert:
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
Triple Chocolate Cake
Pumpkin Pie
Assorted Chocolate Candy


Amazingly enough, even with a simple Thanksgiving, there was still a mountain of dishes to do in the end.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

We Have a Date

 Katherine and Josh will be getting married at Conrad Botzum Farmstead on August 3.

The farm is located in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The wedding will be held outside (pray it doesn't rain), and the reception will be in the 1898 Bank Barn.

It will be a beautiful, natural setting. It's just what they were looking for.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

It Feels So Good to Sneeze

I've been holding my sneezes in for years, ever since Riley decided they were monsters that needed to be attacked. Instead of taking the time to train my dog, I trained myself to stop sneezing.

I was lamenting this problem to Don last week. I just wanted to get a good sneeze out once in awhile, but I feared the repercussions.

Of course, Don thought I was silly to worry about what Riley would do. "Just sneeze," was his logical solution.

Yesterday I sneezed three times in my own home. I must be coming down with a cold. And Riley was right there waiting for me.

Remember the tape? Riley hates tape on his head. So each time I sneezed, I grabbed the nearest tape dispenser.

He ran away from me as fast as he could. He got just far enough away that my arm couldn't reach him. That's him at the top of the stairs in fear of the tape. Funny how he also put himself behind bars. I wonder how many sneezes it will take to re-train him.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

What are the Chances?


Peter is a Math major and a Secondary Education Major. He plans to teach high school math. When he tells me about his math tests, my jaw just drops in wonder as to how anyone can even begin to solve these problems. I guess that's why I didn't major in math.

This semester, Peter is taking a class called Combinatorics. This is a branch of mathematics that studies countable discrete structures. I think it has something to do with combinations.

In the car this evening, Don told Peter about a professor at Case Western Reserve who breaks the ice with his new students each semester by making a bet that in their class of approximately 30-40 students, at least two people will have the same birthday. Each student has to stand up and state the day and month they were born, and inevitably there will be more than one set of duplicates. I thought that was pretty amazing.

So I asked Peter, "what do you think the probability would be of one of Dad's best childhood friends, Dad's ex-fiance, and Dad's wife all having the same birthday?" It didn't take him long to tell me, "1 in 48 million".

We beat the odds on this one. Don's good friend John, his almost wife Robin, and his real wife (me) all have the exact same birthday: January 26, 1959.

Friday, November 22, 2013

That's My Riley


From the day we brought him home, Riley stole our hearts. Of course he can be annoying at times, but one look at his face and all irritation melts away. It's hard to believe he will be five years old next month. Even though Don isn't pictured in the collage, he loves Riley too.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Run for Perry


This is Becky, my walking buddy. We meet every Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. to walk in the park. We walk when it is 95 degrees and when it is 15 degrees. We walk when it is windy and snowy, but we really don't like walking in the rain. Becky is Jake's mom (and the mom of twins, TJ and Katie).


Last Saturday, we walked a mile in a fundraiser in memory of Perry Carroscia who passed away suddenly a little over a year ago. The money raised was for his children's education fund and for scholarship money at CVCA. (That's Tammy, my goat friend, in the middle)

Next year, we're running the 5K! Maybe.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Breaking All the Rules


Monday morning at the park. Riley and Jake getting a little ahead of us. They like to lead the way.

When we reached the dog run, they just sat.

Oops. Be afraid, wildlife,...be very afraid. Actually, they won't "hurt" you, they'll just "herd" you.
.
No wonder Riley slept the rest of the day.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

What Cookie Should I Make?

It's time to start planning for the Annual Cookie Baking Day. Everyone who comes has to bring the ingredients for a cookie (or make them ahead and bring them). We try to make something new each year which can be challenging. I have been scouring websites to find a cookie that looks good and is easy to make. I've narrowed it down to these six.

Holiday Cake Bon Bons from Betty Crocker. These look easy and pretty. They probably aren't very good for you, but hey...it's Christmas.

Best Sugar Cookies by Haniela. I watched this YouTube video and I love the way she makes these cookies.

Vanilla-Bean Spritz Wreaths from Martha Stewart. I could dig out my cookie press and make these fancy cookies.

M & M Cookies from "proudmama" at SheSpeaks. These were my favorite cookies while growing up. My recipe is a little different from this one, but I like that this recipe uses some butter rather than all Crisco.

Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies from Joy the Baker. Could there really be a tasty flourless cookie? I might have to try these. Too bad they still have sugar.

Fruitcake Cookies by Ina Garten. Who would have thought fruitcake could turn into a delicious cookie. This recipe actually looks good, and it got an average of five start ratings from 102 people. I trust Ina when she says these cookies are yummy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A Visit to Grove City

It was a beautiful day to drive to Pennsylvania and visit Peter. Pam and I planned our trip several weeks ago, so we were thankful the sun was out and the roads were dry.

Peter was finished with class at 11:00, so we picked him up and drove to Elephant & Castle Pub for lunch. Pam and I split a Fish & Chips while Peter devoured a very large Chicken Pot Pie. After lunch we spent a couple of hours walking around, shopping at the Grove City Outlets.

Back at Peter's dorm, we checked out his room. It can only be described as a "guys dorm room". I think he cleaned up for us. Pam took some pictures.

Just a few shoes

 Desk, chair, fridge, microwave, etc.

 Beds, couch, table, lamp, etc.

Ping pong table

We had a great day!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Project Get Healthy: Month Five

Getting healthy takes time. It takes persistence. It takes fortitude. That's what I keep telling myself. I don't want to get discouraged, because even if I just make these two changes: No Diet Coke and No Sugar, I'm much healthier than I was six months ago.

It's been 111 days since my last Diet Coke and 72 days without sugar (except for two small Kit-Kat bars on Halloween), and lately, a few small pieces of dark chocolate. I can't lie. But all the other sweets that used to call my name (cookies, pie, cake, candy, etc.) don't.

I have realized I can live without Diet Coke. It does not tempt me in the least. However, sugar is still a problem. This means I need a game plan to incorporate it into my life somehow. My solution is to enjoy a small piece of very dark chocolate when I cannot go another second without something sweet.

I did not get on the scale this month. I didn't want to get discouraged. I doubt if I even lost a pound. You'd think I would have, given I didn't eat much sugar, but I compensated with other things (bread, chips and other carbs) that I don't usually eat too much of. Hmmm.

Now Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas is six weeks away. So I'm going into a holding pattern with my eating plans. By the way, the habit of not eating after dinner lasted about two days.

This month, my goal is to walk at least one mile as many days as I can. I will take Riley with me because he needs the exercise too, especially after all the junk he consumed this month.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

About Me

Thanks to Daniel and his Photoshop skills I have this picture that makes me look five years younger. The photo was taken five years ago, so I really look ten years younger.

This is the "About Me" page for my blog which I should have written 930 posts ago. I'm just now getting around to it.

If you've been a long-time reader of my blog, you know most everything about me, so I will try to come up with some juicy content you might find in the grocery store tabloids.

First off, I'm madly in love with this guy named Don who just happens to be my husband. He takes care of me and keeps me out of trouble. He also makes me exercise so I don't get too fat and lazy.

My three children have all flown the coop, however, the youngest bird still comes home for the summer. I keep the nest warm for him and his two siblings who occasionally fly by for brief visits.

My real baby is a big ball of fur with an insatiable appetite. He also makes me exercise, and he keeps me company even when I don't want him to.

If I had a day all to myself, I would choose to curl up on the couch and read. If I couldn't do that, I would clean out all the closets in my house.

Watching TV is torture for me. I do it for about 15 minutes a day so Don doesn't get too lonely. While I'm looking at the screen, I don't really process what I see because I'm daydreaming at the same time. True confessions.

I love to study the Bible. The more I study it, the more I know how much I am loved by God. On Tuesday nights, I meet with other women at my church to study the Bible together. I have fun being one of the group leaders.

I've narrowed my hobbies down to two: photography and sewing. These are two things I have loved since I was ten years old. You'd think I would be better at them by now.

What else do you want to know? I get up around 6:30 and go to bed around 11:00. I don't wear flannel pajamas. My new favorite color is gray. I'm 5 feet 4 inches tall, and I have big feet for my height. I will fly to the moon and back for a friend. I'm an introvert who doesn't mind having parties. Give me chocolate, but hold the blue cheese.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Favorite Things

It's time for another post on some of  my favorite things. 

My favorite lipstick is L'oreal Silverstone (760). Until today, it was my only lipstick. I branched out while at Target this afternoon and purchased a second color: L'oreal Sunwash (857). They are both in the brown tones. I don't like pink or red or blue or orange lipstick.

Whenever I cut onions these days, I put on my onion goggles. They were a Christmas present from Daniel last year. I look really goofy, but I no longer cry when dicing those big yellow onions. Love them!

Have you ever tried washing a king size mattress protector? Even in a large washing machine, it's like stuffing a king size comforter inside. I had given up on covering our mattress until I found this wonderful lightweight mattress protector at Target: the Threshold Knit Mattress Protector. It easily fits into the washing machine and it stretches like crazy when you put it on the mattress.

I may have mentioned before that we have very hard water at our house. Sometimes our water softener does not do the job, and we get hard water stains in our tubs, toilets and showers. When that happens, I use Barkeeper's Friend on the showers and tubs, but in the toilets, all I have to do is squirt some of this liquid "whink" Rust Stain Remover in the water and let it sit about 15 minutes. Like magic, the rust stains are gone!

These Pepperidge Farm Stone Baked Artisan Rolls in the Multi-Grain variety are my favorite rolls to have in the freezer. They are so, so good! Yummy.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Folio Apparel


I saw my friend Sharon at our church small group last night. She owns a clothing boutique called Folio Apparel in Macedonia, so she always looks way put together. It reminded me that I want to look put together too.

So I told her I would visit her shop very soon. I didn't know that I would wake up this morning and decide to arrive there the minute the shop opened, but I did. I wanted to surprise Sharon, but she wasn't there! She wasn't coming in until 1:00. Rather than drive back home, I decided to stay and get to know her associate Krista.

The picture above is from Folio's website, so the clothes shown are spring/summer fashions. The shop this morning was full of fall/winter clothing. I think I tried on every outfit in the store. I purchased a few new items, and I can't wait to go out looking put together too!

If you don't live too far from Macedonia, I highly recommend Folio Apparel.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Baby Gift

When someone I know has a baby, I sometimes give the gift of books. The new parents usually get enough cute little baby outfits and diapers and toys, so books are an unusual surprise.

Here are four of my favorite books to give to new parents:

Goodnight Moon is a classic baby book by Margaret Wise Brown. I read it so many times to my kids I can still say it by heart. "In the great green room, there was a telephone, a red balloon, and a picture of the cow jumping over the moon." This book just slides off the tip of your tongue. It is a joy to read.


The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton is the cutest little board book about animals getting ready for bed. This book makes settling down for bedtime something to look forward to.








I love Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh because it is the simplest book about mixing colors I've ever come across. One day three white mice find three jars of paint:  red, yellow and blue. They find out how colors are made by accidentally stepping into more than one color at a time.






Each Peach Pear Plum by Janet and Allan Ahlberg was a favorite of Katherine's because it ties in with Mother Goose and Fairy Tale characters. It is also an "I Spy" book.

On the first page (which I remember to this day) it reads, "Each peach, pear plum, I spy Tom Thumb." On that page, she would have to find Tom Thumb hiding up in the tree.

The next page reads, "Tom Thumb in the cupboard, I spy Mother Hubbard."

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Better than TV


Riley, participating in one of his favorite pastimes.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Healthy Pumpkin Muffins


Lisa Leake of 100 Days of Real Food demonstrated a recipe for some healthy pumpkin muffins on a video she posted on Facebook. I wanted to try the recipe over the weekend, but Daniel had borrowed my muffin pans, and I didn't get them back until today.

This recipe calls for whole spelt flour, which I had never used. She said you can use whole wheat flour, but spelt flour gives the muffins a cake-like texture. She was right. They were not heavy like some of the whole wheat flour muffins I've had. If you want to know what spelt flour is, check out this post at Baking Bites.

Whole Spelt Pumpkin Muffins (from 100 Days of Real Food)

1 1/2 c. whole spelt flour
1 T. pumpkin pie spice blend
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. honey
1/3 c. melted butter
1 c. pumpkin puree

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with liners and set aside. Using a whisk, mix flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and drop in the eggs, honey and melted butter. Mix together until well combined. Fold in the pumpkin puree. Do not over mix.

Pour the batter into the muffin pan so it is evenly distributed. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Store at room temperature or freeze.



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Just Thought I'd Share



1. It only takes five minutes a day to get fresh baked bread on your table.
2. You can change your wallpaper in ten minutes flat.
3. I love the idea of tea time with black and tan cookies.
4. God is not worried, so neither am I.
5. I'm going to do this when I have grandchildren.
6. Here's a cookie I want to try.
7. Simple wardrobe essentials for every woman's closet.
8. Curly Girl creates the most adorable cards.
9. I want to have a Hot Chocolate Party!
10. Picking a paint color 101 is a class I need to take.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Beard Obsession

You can learn a lot about someone just by watching the pins they post on Pinterest.

For instance, I'm pretty sure my niece, Rachel, is obsessed with beards. She has pinned 300 of them.

Every time I log onto Pinterest, I see more of Rachel's beards.

I find this fascinating, because Rachel is a Junior in high school. I doubt if she passes too many young men with full beards in the halls.

I can guess who she was rooting for during this year's World Series. Every guy on the Boston Red Sox team had a beard.

Next time I see her, I'm going to have to ask how this obsession started.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

Tonight I went with my friend Becky to her church for the second annual Pinterest Christmas event. We went last year too. At this event, fourteen tables were set up, showcasing fourteen different ideas found on Pinterest. Some were crafts, some were demonstrations on how to set your table, and other were food related.

One of the best ideas I got tonight was the recipe for an easy and beautiful cake. It would look lovely on my cake stand, and it would also be a nice food gift to give.

Here is the recipe. Of course, you need a Bundt pan to make it.

Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake

1 box Duncan Hines Devil's Food cake mix (without pudding in the mix)
1 pkg. (3.4 ounce) instant chocolate pudding
1 1/4 c. water
1/4 c. oil
2 eggs
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Thoroughly grease inside of Bundt pan with Crisco (not PAM).
Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in large mixing bowl. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.
Stir in chocolate chips by hand. Pour into 12-cup Bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out on rack and cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar.