Saturday, May 31, 2014

Twenty-Eight Years

Don and I have been married 28 years! That's quite a long time. I've now been married more years than I was single.

This is a picture of our wedding party. It was a large group, mainly because his brothers and my brothers added up to five.

I chose a lovely lavender dress for the bridesmaids. This was 1986 when the "tea length" dress was in. We also dyed all the girls' shoes a lavender color to match.

Don and I went to a wedding on Memorial Day. I love attending weddings. It always makes me think again about my own wedding vows.

The pastor at this wedding talked about how wedding vows are a promise with an uncertain future. You promise to love one another and stay with one another no matter what happens. Your spouse could do something "epicly stupid," and you would have to forgive and move on. You promised. Your spouse could become ill or you could lose all your money. Even so, you promised to have and to hold on.

Tears ran down my cheeks as usual during the ceremony. It's always such a beautiful thing. And I silently renewed my vows to the man sitting next to me. From this day forward, I am still his no matter what may come our way.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Loire Valley, France

Our next bike trip will be in the Loire Valley of France which is located near the central part of France, just southwest of Paris. We leave September 3, so the weather should be very nice as long as it doesn't rain.

Pam and Don's cousin, Carol, will be going with us. This was the first bike trip Dave and Pam took together, so it is a very special place to her.

I'm looking forward to seeing the beautiful gardens and chateaux the area is famous for. Since this will be our fourth bike trip with VBT, I know what to expect. Even though the trip is rated "EASY",  it won't be "EASY". I also know that I will survive.

I will encourage my riding companions to stop and smell the roses and whatever else they grow over there. And I will remind them every morning before we begin our trek that "this is not a race."

Loire Valley here we come. Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Better Taco Salad


Carolyn made me say please and pretty please to get this recipe for a better taco salad than the one I tried last week. She promised me it would be wonderful.

I made it tonight, and here is the scoop: I didn't have a bowl large enough to contain all the ingredients! It calls for two heads of iceberg lettuce for goodness sake. How many people does this salad feed? Thirty?

Even though I didn't have a large enough bowl, I pressed on.

I used two bowls. Next time, I'm going to cut the recipe in half.  I'm not saying the salad wasn't tasty, because it was. I'm just saying it makes a lot! Of course since Carolyn has five children, she is used to cooking in these quantities.

Carolyn's Taco Salad

1 lb. ground beef, cooked, drained and refrigerated until cold
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1 medium onion (optional)
2 medium tomatoes, diced and strained of most seeds/juice
2 heads iceberg lettuce, chopped

Dressing:
1 cup real mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 pkg. (dry) ranch salad dressing mix
1 pkg. (dry) taco seasoning mix

Optional Toppings:
1 bag chili cheese Fritos, regular Fritos, or Tortilla chips
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

Combine the first five ingredients (and the black beans if using) in a VERY large bowl.
Mix dressing separately. Add to salad mixture and stir well to combine.
Serve immediately with toppings of choice.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Fat Quarter Napkins

On Fat Tuesday, the place to be is the French Quarter in New Orleans, but to find a fat quarter, you need not go any farther than your nearest fabric store.

A fat quarter is one fourth of a yard, but it is cut in a different way than a regular quarter yard.

Quilting fabric measures 44 inches wide, so if you cut a quarter yard from the bolt, you end up with a piece of fabric that is 9 inches wide by 44 inches long. This is a long and skinny piece of fabric.

To cut a fat quarter, you take a half yard of fabric (18 inches) and you cut it on the fold to make a piece that is 18 inches by 22 inches. This is a nice, fat piece of fabric. You can buy fat quarters already cut, or you can make them yourself.

Fat quarters are perfect for making napkins.

Katherine and Josh's rehearsal dinner will be at our house out on the deck. We decided to have the food catered from Chipotle, so I thought it would be fun to have some party napkins in bright colors. Here's how to make them:

Once your fabric is cut, it takes about 10 minutes to make one napkin.

1. Choose two fat quarters that coordinate in color.
2. Place the two pieces right sides together and secure with a few pins along the edges.
3. Sew a 5/8" seam all the way around, leaving about a six inch opening on one side.
4. Clip the points off the corners.
5. Turn fabric so that right sides are facing out.
6. Use a point turner or bone folder to push the corners of the napkin all the way out.
7. Press the edges of the fabric flat, including the open section of the edge.
8. Sew a 1/4" top stitch all the way around the napkin.

I used grey thread, and it blended well with all the colors.

I showed Peter my creations. He thought they looked nice, but he recommended I make some more with "manly" patterns. He has a good point.  I'll have to work on that.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Forgiveness

The summer I turned fifteen, I returned home from being out somewhere. I can't remember where I had been, but when I returned home, there were a number of large garbage bags sitting on the side porch, blocking my way into the house. When I finally made it to the kitchen, I asked my mom why the garbage bags were there. She said, "your dad is leaving." Those words may just as well have been a two-by-four hitting me over the head.

My dad was leaving. He was in the garage gathering up his tools. I ran outside screaming at him to tell me why he was leaving. I did not see this coming, and I was out of my mind with disbelief.

No event in my life affected me the way that news did. I became hysterical. I ran screaming and crying down our driveway and up our street to my cousin Kathy's house. When they saw me coming, they probably thought someone had died.

Someone hadn't died, but part of me had.

My dad was leaving. He cast me aside. At fifteen, I didn't even consider what it had done to my mother. I hated him, and I was going to hate him for the rest of my life.

During the next several years, I saw very little of my dad. I wrote him hate letters. Some of them made it in the mail, and he ignored them.

Many years passed, and at times I forgot I ever had a dad. As far as I was concerned, he didn't exist. He had three grandchildren living under my roof whom he never met. He didn't care. I didn't care. I buried the pain six feet beneath my heart.

Then one day I found out he didn't have long to live. I had to make a choice. Would I bury the pain and the hate with him? Or would I reach out and forgive?

If it hadn't been for the love I felt from another Father who came into my life, I would have continued to hate. God softened my heart. I had been forgiven. How dare I not do the same?

The father I barely saw for 30 years, the father who forgot I existed, was the father I chose to forgive.

"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you." - Lewis B. Smedes

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Taco Salad

Have you ever been early to a party? I'm not talking about an hour early or even a day early. I'm talking about a week early.

That's what I was last night when I arrived at my next door neighbor's house toting my freshly made taco salad to share at the neighborhood summer kickoff party.

I thought it was strange that I was the first one there when I was two hours late. It just didn't click in my mind until I asked Kathy if I was the first one there.

The party is next week, so I'll have to make my Taco Salad again. But here's the modified recipe from Paula Deen:

Taco Salad

1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
1 medium onion, diced
1 bag shredded iceburg lettuce
1 pound lean ground beef, browned, crumbled and drained
1 cup Catalina salad dressing
1 7-ounce bag taco flavored chips, crushed (Dorito's)

Combine cheese, onion, lettuce and ground beef in a large bowl. Add salad dressing and mix well. Just before serving, add the taco chips, tossing to combine with other ingredients.

Next time I'm going to find a Taco Salad recipe that tastes more like real tacos. This salad was good, but it tasted tangy because of the Catalina dressing. It's a good thing I have a second chance next Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

No Place to Hide!

What's more fun than having one Sheltie follow you around all day? Two Shelties following you around all day!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Project Get Healthy: Month Ten

Photo credit: Pam Richards
Our next bike trip is in 107 days. And unless I want to be walking my bike on that trip, I need to get some excess baggage off my waistline.

I wasn't very successful last month. No gain, no loss. Stayed the same.

Since there are approximately 100 days until the bike trip, I thought it would be a good opportunity to do the 100 Days of Real Food Challenge.

I wrote about 100 Days of Real Food last July. What's great about this way of eating is that it is truly doable. I'm pretty sure dark chocolate is a real food.

Of course, everything in moderation!

Who wants to join me on this journey of 100 days? I need some encouragement and accountability.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Canine Vacuum Cleaner


While giving Riley his dinner tonight, my hand accidentally hit the wall. His half cup of Purina Pro Plan Salmon kibbles went flying.

At first Riley didn't know what to do because he expected the food to end up in his dish like it always does.

After about five seconds, he realized this was his food! He went into vacuum cleaner mode and ate his dinner from the floor. No clean up for me!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Interesting Things

Boston Public Garden
Here are some websites that I've bookmarked on my computer at one time or another because I thought they were interesting and worth saving.

Could you narrow your wardrobe down to only 33 items? That's what Courtney Carver promotes on her website called Project 333. Every three months she can adjust her 33 items.

Wouldn't you love to be one of six sisters in a family? That would be so much fun. I found this recipe for Spinach and Feta Pasta. Spinach + Feta + Pasta...how can you go wrong with that?

What should men read? Check out the 100 Must Read Books: The Essential Man's Library from the Art of Manliness.

Since I will most likely have to wear a sleeveless dress at Katherine's August wedding, I am interested in how to reduce flabby arms. Six Weeks to Sleeveless caught my eye.

This is the YouTube video from Missouri Star Quilt Co. I watched to learn how to make Peter's T-Shirt Quilt. I needed to review it because I'm getting ready to finish Katherine's T-Shirt Quilt.

This was motivation to drink more water. Chris Bailey did an experiment of drinking only water for a month.

Just in case you are wondering, the photo of Boston Public Garden has nothing to do with this blog post. I needed a photo, so I just picked a random one from My Pictures. It was from our 2003 vacation to Boston.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ring-a-Ling-a-Ling

tinnitus: a ringing, hissing or booming sensation in one or both ears.

I had never heard the word "tinnitus" until I went to the ear doctor several years ago complaining about a ringing noise in my ears. After checking me over and doing a hearing test, the doctor looked at me and told me he was sorry to say I would just have to live with this problem for the rest of my life. There is no cure for tinnitus. He said the worst thing I could do was focus on the sound, because that would drive me crazy.

I left that appointment in a very sad state of mind. I went home and cried. How was I going to live the rest of my life not being able to get away from the noise? It was a very depressing thought.

I've been doing my best to ignore it, and that works a lot of the time. However, once in awhile it threatens to make me mad (as in lock me in a rubber room).

It gets worse when I have a cold or when the weather changes in the spring, and it's most pronounced when I'm sitting in a quiet room or when I'm trying to fall asleep at night.

I wish I could put ear plugs in to block it out, but the sound comes from inside my ears. I've been thinking about it too much today. Time to move on to some other thoughts.

"...whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Game Just for Daniel

Daniel helps his high school buddy Jon coach a soccer team. Since Daniel has been away, Jon has had to coach without him. Daniel flew home last weekend pretty much just to see his friends (and for Mother's Day I think). Daniel was hoping he would get to coach a game, but there really wasn't one on the schedule.

So Jon, being the good friend that he is, created a scrimmage game just for Daniel. 

Thanks to my friend Tammy for taking the pictures! Her son Jonny is on the team.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bedroom Makeover 2

I finally put the finishing touches on Daniel's room makeover. As I mentioned before, I had a hard time choosing gray paint. The guy at DIY promised me the only two colors in the paint can were black and white, but somehow the walls came out blue. One day I will get around to repainting them.

I started with these striped LaCrosse comforters from The Company Store. They are very lightweight, and I love the lime green, navy, blue and gray colors.

Don's mom had a green chest, dresser and night stand in one of her upstairs bedrooms. Katherine and Josh wanted to take the furniture, but they don't have room for it right now, so I told them I'd keep it for a short time. It's almost lime green.

I had to tone down all the green with a blue and white runner. The airplane picture, which I picked up at Bed, Bath & Beyond, reminded me of Daniel and his first flight.

Over the tall chest is my favorite picture from Daniel's high school soccer years. The team is walking into the stadium before a game. Daniel had his big hair then.

 I found a very cute owl magnifying glass at Pier 1 and a navy lamp at Target for the night stand.

 I really like the way everything came out. Although I didn't put any nail holes in the wall myself, I did assist  Don with the job.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Aunt Mary was a Millionaire


This is a photo of me and Carolyn with our two great aunts (Mary and Nina). Aunt Mary never got married, and aunt Nina married aunt Mary's brother, Eddy. Neither one of them had any children. They had a special friendship that lasted well into their later years.

I wrote about how aunt Mary died last August 14, and how we finally saw the apartment she lived in for 60 years. Apparently, aunt Mary was saving her pennies. The report of her estate was received in the mail yesterday letting us know she had almost a million and a half dollars to her name.

She left it all to her good friend and sister-in-law Nina, who passed away about a month after Mary.

We're not surprised our dear aunt saved that much. She grew almost all the food she ate and hardly ever bought anything new. She was a living lesson in frugality. Who would have known? Our aunt Mary - a millionaire!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

On Slugs and Sluggards

berkshirebotanical.org
Are you a sluggard? The dictionary says it is a lazy, sluggish person. Synonyms are: ne'er-do-well, layabout, do nothing, idler, loafer, lounger, good for nothing. No one wants to own up to a description like that.

Contrary to popular belief, sluggards are not the same as slugs. From what little I know about slugs, they work pretty hard, devouring plants faster than they can grow. Slugs are ugly, but they are not good for nothing. They have a purpose in life: they help decompose leaves, fungus and decaying vegetables.

I'll be the first to admit I can be a sluggard. There are always tasks I want to put off or never do at all. Those dishes that pile up every day, and the laundry that cycles through every week make me want to be a sluggard. When I have a To Do list more than five pages long, I want to curl up in a ball like a slug. I've been known to sit idle and loaf and lounge and lay about.

The sluggard is mentioned ten times in Proverbs, but my favorite description of him is, "The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he will not even bring it back to his mouth!"

Let's hope I never become that sluggardish.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Lemon Chicken

I hardly ever eat dark meat chicken, but this recipe looked so good and easy that I had to try it. I put it together in about five minutes. Love the simplicity of it. It was pretty tasty too.

Lemon Chicken

3 lb. chicken drumsticks and thighs
1 lb. yellow potatoes, cut into chunks
1 lemon, sliced
 2 T. olive oil
2 t. lemon pepper seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange chicken  and potatoes in large roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoning. Tuck lemon slices in between chicken and potatoes. Toss everything together. Rearrange chicken so skin side is up. Cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake 20-30 minutes until chicken is no longer pink near bones and potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Flying Pig Half Marathon

It was a beautiful morning to run the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati. Don and I drove to meet Katherine and Josh there last night, and we all got up at 5:00 to start the day. The race began at 6:30 a.m.

We missed the start of the race because we had a hard time finding a parking spot after we dropped them off. We were sad, but we found them at about mile 3 where they handed off their jackets.

At mile 5, they were still all smiles. They were approaching the big hill at this point, so those smiles were about to turn to frowns.

At around mile 11, they were still going strong. They made it up the big hill and were approaching the home stretch. Don and I had to practically run to beat them to the finish line.

We waited and waited for them at the finish line, and we were beginning to think something was wrong, when Katherine called Don and asked where we were. They had crossed the finish line 15 minutes ago. Later we found out the reason we missed them was because a man fell down right at the moment they passed us. There was so much commotion and distraction looking at that man, we didn't see them go by! So we missed the start and the finish, but we saw some of the in between.

We're just so proud of their accomplishment. Congratulations, Katherine and Josh! It wasn't easy training for the race with everything else going on in your lives right now.

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Nesting Place

I pre-ordered The Nesting Place months ago, so I had completely forgotten about it when it arrived in the mail the other day.

The book is written by blogger Myquillyn Smith from The Nester.

At 5:00 last night, I sat down and started reading this book. I kept reading until 6:30, and I wouldn't have gotten up then except that it's not good for my back if I sit too long. After a brief break, I resumed my reading, and I finished the book before I went to bed.

It's a good thing it was just me and Riley home most of the night. He doesn't mind if I burst out in laughter every page or two. The author is hilarious. At least in the first half of the book where she points out some things that people like me are fearful of.

This was my favorite passage:

"I didn't realize until I started writing online how terrified some women (and many men) are of devaluing their homes by making a nail hole in the wall! Part of me wants to scream, 'It's a ding-a-ling nail hole in the wall! Is there anything in life less risky than creating a one-millimeter hole in a wall that can be filled with your finger and some putty in two seconds?'"
...
"So please, for the love of all that is lovely, don't be afraid to make a nail hole. Just make the hole, hang the art, I beg of you. If you have never made a nail hole, get up right now, find a nail and a hammer (or a shoe or a rock will do) and make a hole in your wall. It will instantly free you. If you have major nail-hole-in-the-wall issues, start with making a nail hole in your closet. You must move past your nail-hole fears in order to create a beautiful home. This is not optional."

She hit the nail on the head with these paragraphs. My problem in decorating my home is FEAR. I hate to even confess this, but I have NEVER put a nail hole in a wall. I promise I will do it before the sun sets today.

This book was so wonderful. It has liberated me. She also points out that your home does not have to be perfect. It's hard for people to be comfortable in a perfectly decorated home. So just relax and experiment. What's the worst thing that can happen?

This book should be required reading for all newlyweds. In fact, I'm getting a copy for Katherine and Josh.