Monday, March 31, 2014

Richmond with Cousin Carol

Don's cousin Carol graciously hosted me, Pam and Sharon this past weekend. She has a beautiful condo in the suburb of Midlothian. On Thursday night ,we just got in our pajamas and hung out. Sharon claimed the recliner, and she wouldn't let anyone else sit in it all weekend.

Pam an Sharon shared one of the rooms upstairs. Those two spent the first night laughing more than sleeping, so I was glad I had a bedroom of my own. I didn't even have to sleep on the floor because Carol had a nice firm mattress.

Most of the day Friday was spent walking through Carytown. There were loads of small boutique shops. In between stores, we didn't forget to stop and smell the roses.

That night, we had reservations for dinner and a movie at Cinebistro. This was a movie theater with tables attached to our chairs. We ordered a very nice dinner and enjoyed eating it while we watched The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Early Saturday morning, even though it was lightly raining, we hit the local Farmer's Market. Carol promised us a the most amazing donuts on the planet.
 Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen made the double-dipped glazed donuts right on the spot. They were dripping and still warm when she delivered them to us in the pavilion.

I was only going to take one bite, but somehow that entire donut ended up in my belly.

Pam and Sharon took a bite out of the same donut. 

Before we left for home, Carol took us to brunch at a restaurant called Godfrey's. Her book club recommended it as a place to see in Richmond. The food was pretty good, but the entertainment was a little shaky. All the while we ate our omelets, very large men dressed as very large women danced in the aisles. Although it was an eye-opening experience, we all agreed once was enough for brunch at Godfrey's. So much for that book club recommendation.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Acrobat Ants

Over a month ago, I began to see ants in my tea. You heard me right...ants in my tea. At first, I thought tea leaves kept escaping from the tea bags, but once I put my glasses on and looked closer, I realized they were ants.

This discovery perplexed me, and I began to investigate where the ants were coming from. I only saw them in my tea. My first thought was that they had come from a plant someone gave me as a hostess gift. I threw the plant in the trash.

Next I thought they were coming from inside my tea bags. I did a science experiment and opened a new tea bag and used it. Aha! An ant was in my tea. I tried it again. No ants.  The ant must have come from the spoon that was wrapped around the old tea bag.

After a week of this, I decided to look around. I moved things on the counter, and directly behind my tea kettle where I keep my used tea bag was a colony of ants! Ahhhhhhhhhhh! There were hundreds of them, not more than 1/8" in size each, on the wall and on the counter, all clustered together. Of course I was home alone.

I took a picture. Then I waited for Don to come back.

He sprayed them, but he made me wipe them up.

This made my tea very unappetizing for awhile.

Time went on, and I still found ants in my tea. I called in the big guns (Absolute Pest Control) who baited them. They went away for awhile, but recently, they came back.

Mr. Absolute was here again today. He told me they are Acrobat Ants. What? Do they do gymnastics? No. When they are threatened, they basically do a handstand, kicking up their back ends. I'm so glad the colony didn't do that when I was here alone.

An Acrobat ant doing a handstand
I've since moved my tea station to the kitchen island because so far the ants have not ventured from the counter where they are currently traveling. Hopefully this new bait with eradicate them.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Come On, Mom

This is what Riley looks like when he's waiting for me to say, "It's time for breakfast."

If I happen to get up at 4:00 a.m. like I did the other day, he has to wait. I won't let him eat until the sun starts to come up because otherwise he will have to go outside in the dark.

And I don't want him to go out in the dark because the coyotes might get him.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rockin' Richmond

It's going to be another girls' weekend. This time Pam and I, along with her friend Sharon will be visiting Don's cousin Carol (the one with the purple scarf in the picture).

She moved to Richmond, Virginia almost two years ago, and we think she might need some company. Carol has the weekend all planned out for us. We are having donuts with the Mennonite ladies one morning, we'll take in a movie at CineBistro where they also serve dinner, and we may visit Godfrey's gourmet restaurant which is the one Carol said we need to "keep an open mind" about. More on that later.

Looking forward to spending time with these lovely ladies.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

One Thousand

Can you believe it? I have written 1,000 blog posts in the past four years. This one took me by surprise. I just happened to check my post count the other day and saw that 1,000 would be here soon.

I think of Life with Riley every day, even though I may not write every day. It makes me pay attention to life and document what's going on. I record memories, funny things that happen, the antics of Riley, what we are eating, what we are doing, adventures, thoughts, and other things that would otherwise get lost along the way.

Thanks for encouraging me to keep going! I plan to keep calm and carry on!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Some Healthy Stuff

I'm trying to accumulate a list of healthy food ideas. Sometimes healthy food just looks so unappetizing. However, I have found a few recipes that look tasty and are easy to make.

1. The Reset Button Salad from Shutterbean includes many of my favorite salad ingredients: arugula, walnuts, feta, beets, and cucumbers.

2. From 100 Days of Real Food, a satisfying breakfast. These may be a little high in fat, but all natural ingredients: Breakfast Casserole Bites.

3. I could make a meal out of Shrimp Cocktail and Green Goddess Dressing.

4. What could be better than starting your day with a Kale casserole? Smothered with eggs and low fat cheese, it probably tastes pretty good.

5. This looks like a fast and healthy dinner: Chicken, Rice and Parmesan Skillet. I would use quick-cooking brown rice instead of  basmati.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Riley in Mid-Air

Daniel has a slow motion camera on his phone, so he thought it would be fun to capture Riley catching his ball.

Go to this Youtube link to see him catch. He sounds like a wild animal after he gets the ball.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Wild Dream

You will be happy to know I'm not sleeping on the floor any longer. The stiff bed is working just fine. The stiff bed, however is down the hall from the master bedroom.

I was sleeping in there one night last week when I decided for some reason I would like it better on the floor in our room. Don was asleep, so I tiptoed in and nestled myself on the mat. I soon fell into a deep, deep sleep.

This rarely happens, but I woke up around 4 a.m. in the middle of a bad dream. An intruder was in our bedroom, and he was going to get Don. I saw him from my carpet vantage point, so I screamed, "You get out of our room!" as loud as I could scream in a dream. I didn't feel it was loud enough, so I did it again, "You get out of our room!"

Don didn't know I was in the room, and what was really coming out of my mouth was, "Ya, Gah, Ow, Are, Roo..." It woke him up. He screamed. I screamed.

It reminded me of Tevye's dream in Fiddler on the Roof. There was a lot of screaming before we figured out what was going on.

We didn't sit up discussing what happened. Two minutes later we were both fast asleep again.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Bracket Science

The men in my family love this time of year. NCAA basketball championship season is about to begin. This is  also known as March Madness. What makes it extra exciting is following your teams on an ESPN bracket.

I have to join in the fun so that I'm not known as a social toad. I have no idea which teams are good and which teams are bad. So I use a scientific method when I fill out my paper.

Florida plays Albany, so Albany will win. "A" comes before "F" in the alphabet.
Colorado plays Pittsburgh, so Colorado will win. "C" comes before "P".
VCU plays SF Austin, so SF Austin will win. You get the picture.

I figure my chances are as good as any.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Brown Rice with Spinach

I experimented tonight with a side dish. I took two recipes in my folder and pieced together a new recipe.

Although the photo to the left does not look very appetizing, the rice dish was pretty tasty.

The only down side to making this rice is that it has to cook in the oven for an hour.

Brown Rice with Spinach

1 cup brown rice
2 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 t. Italian seasoning
1 cup baby spinach, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 T. olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a square baking dish. Cover dish loosely with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Hairbrush Got Him

For the first time in his life, Riley did not beat me to his breakfast bowl in the morning. I went downstairs and immediately knew something was wrong. Not much is more important to Riley than his food.

I didn't call him, I just waited. Perhaps he had found something more interesting...but a chipmunk in the house?

Pretty soon he came down, but slowly. He gobbled up his food and then he just stood there, looking at me.

"What's wrong, Riley?" I kept asking him. He just stood there and stared.

I couldn't figure it out until he turned around, and sticking out of his rear end was my hairbrush. I couldn't stop laughing.

How in the world did that happen? The last time I saw my hairbrush, it was on a stool in my bedroom next to the hair dryer. Only Riley.

He didn't fight me as I worked it out of the tangled mess. It was really wound up in there.

The hairbrush must have attacked him in the middle of the night.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What is Pantone?

Two years ago, while working with a graphic artist to design some cards, I first heard the word "Pantone." It was a foreign word to me then, and I never took the time to research it until now. I came across the word again while reading an email from Folio Apparel today. Sharon showed a Pantone graphic with the spring 2014 fashion color report. She said to choose one of the bright colors and pair it with one of the muted colors to make a great outfit.

If you have any artistic ability, you probably know that Pantone is, "a set of standard colors for printing, each of which is specified by a single number." (

So if a graphic artist wants some business cards printed in a certain shade of red, he specifies to the printer to use (Pantone 199 red). The printer then knows to mix 12 parts Pantone ruby red with 4 parts Pantone yellow. That makes Pantone 199 red.

Pantone colors are used for printing, textiles, plastics and sometimes paint. The colors are standardized, so all people who work on a project know exactly what colors they are dealing with.

Each year since 2000, the Pantone Color Institute has chosen a color of the year. The color they choose is supposed to reflect the mood they sense from around the world.  The 2014 color, "Radiant Orchid", indicates a mood of innovation.

Now I can use the word Pantone in a sentence. It is good to learn new things every  day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Worst Thing First

I like To Do lists. I like making them, and I like checking things off. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.

Each day, I move the unchecked items from my To Do list onto another page, plus I usually add more.

I've noticed that one item keeps getting moved to the next day. Over and over again, I move it. Don calls this procrastination....something he knows nothing about.

I need to make a phone call, and the phone call will be confrontational. That's why I keep moving it. I figure if I move it enough times, it will move off the bottom of the page and I won't have to do it.

There is a solution to this problem. It's called do the worst thing first. By doing the worst thing first while your energy is fresh, you get rid of that looming feeling that will follow you around the rest of the day.

Tomorrow. No excuses. Just do it. Check it off.

"Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day." - Mark Twain

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sleeping with the Dogs

It wasn't enough to sleep in the recliner for three months while recovering from shoulder surgery. Now I am banished to the floor because of my back.

I've made a nice little bed that includes an exercise mat, a towel, a folded quilt, a bottom sheet, a top sheet, and a blanket. I have two pillows. One is for my head and one is for my knees. Life has gotten so complicated.

I say goodnight to Don by waving up to him. He's not thrilled with the new sleeping arrangements. I do have a fan, though. Riley loves the fact that I'm sleeping right next to him.

The first night, he wasn't sure what was going on, so he stayed in his usual spot under the bench. But then he got used to me invading his space, and he curls up right next to me.

Let's hope I don't need to do this much longer. It's giving me a few sore spots.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Another Day in the Sun

Our flight home was cancelled, so we had an unexpected extra day in the sun yesterday. We eventually got home around 9:00 p.m.

We weren't happy about the change in plans, but we went with the flow. Don can turn any situation into a positive thing.

Peter notified Kendall that their date was pushed back about five hours.

Daniel Criswell couldn't have been more relaxed.

Katherine was all for one more stress free day.

And where was I you may ask? Taking pictures, of course. No bathing suit pictures for me, remember.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Good Day for Shopping

The day started out with a severe thunderstorm. Southwest Florida, specifically Collier County where we are staying, was under a tornado warning for about an hour. This is what it looked like out the porch window around 1:00 in the afternoon.

When it rains like that in Florida, we go shopping. There are several very nice outdoor malls nearby. One of them is an outlet mall. So that's where we went.

Peter and Daniel were real shopping troopers. They did end up finding some shorts at J. Crew.

Even though the day started out stormy, the evening sunset was spectacular!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Warmer than Sunshine

It's so hard to remember that back home in Ohio the thermometer is reading 16 right now. Here in Naples, Florida, it is 72. That's at 10:30 p.m.

We have just been chilling out all week. No one feels like doing much besides going to the pool and maybe playing a round of golf.

Riley is back home with Liz. Jake is spending the week with him because Becky and her family are also vacationing in Florida this week.

The weather has been perfect for golf, so Peter, his friend Daniel and Don have gone golfing twice.

I really felt badly that I couldn't join them and make it a foursome! I had to relax by the pool instead.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Project Get Healthy: Month Eight

I lost the three pounds I gained on the cruise. That's good news. But I got some bad news from the doctor last Wednesday. My cholesterol is a little high and my blood sugar is a little high. Both need to come down by August when I get tested again.

How do I reduce these two numbers? I know, because I did it before. Lose 30 pounds by reducing processed sugar intake to nearly zero and by watching how many calories I consume. It doesn't hurt to get some exercise too.

Since my exercise options are limited until my back heals, I really need to concentrate on healthy eating this month.

The other thing that helps tremendously is keeping a food journal. The one I have used in the past is on Spark People. I can enter my food for the day either on my computer or on my phone.

This is going to take some serious discipline!

Sunday, March 2, 2014


My WebMD diagnosis was incorrect. So much for those doctors. And so much for real doctors too. When my symptoms got severe enough, I went to see a real doctor. She told me I probably had some tight muscles in my back. She gave me some muscle relaxers and pain pills and sent me on my way.

A few days later, I sent a text to my physical therapist friend, Becky, who now lives in Atlanta. She called me on the phone and commiserated with me. Then she told me to put down the phone and get on the floor, face down, and prop myself up on my elbows. I screamed because this position was by far the most painful I had been in.

Becky told me she thought I had a "disc issue" and I should see a physical therapist to confirm. So I made an appointment. I went through many contortions being diagnosed. The therapist said I needed to have an MRI to be sure, but he thought I had a bulging or herniated disc that was pressing on my sciatic nerve.

Fortunately, he also told me rather than have an MRI,  do a simple exercise several times a day to see if it starts to feel better. The exercise is simple. It is the same thing Becky asked me to do. It's like the cobra position in Yoga.

I am improving each day. The pain has moved from my glute muscle and left leg to my lower back. This is supposed to be a good thing. It means the bulge is getting smaller and coming off the nerve.

As long as I can ride my bike by May I'm alright with this.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Grandma Richards

Don's mom passed away this Wednesday, February 26, at the age of 88. She was a fiercely independent woman most of the years I knew her, so the last five or six years were very difficult for her as she gradually lost more and more of her ability to take care of herself. She hung in there, though, never losing her will to get back in her car and drive!

Donna died peacefully at home, curled up on her couch, which was where she loved to sleep. Her favorite caregiver, Olga, was by her side. Don arrived two minutes after she died, but he had been with her most of the afternoon that day.

As I was digging through pictures yesterday, I found a few that I think represent her best. We will remember her fondly when we look at them.

I don't know how old Donna was in this picture, but she looks very fashionable for her day.

This may be an engagement photo of Dave and Donna. I'm not sure, but the heart silhouette tells you they are in love. I think Donna looks a lot like Katherine in this picture.

I took this black and white photo of Donna shortly after Don and I were married. Back then I was still developing my own pictures.

Donna was thrilled to have another grandchild (Katherine) who was born 14 years after her first grandchild (Holly).
Celebrating Peter's birthday. Grandma and grandpa did a lot of babysitting when our kids were young. Their favorite memory of grandma is that she would make them as much cinnamon-sugar toast as they wanted. And she really poured on the cinnamon sugar!