Saturday, August 30, 2014

Can't Leave Him Out

Katherine wanted Riley to be the ring bearer in the wedding, but I felt he would be too much of a distraction for the crowd. Still, she insisted he be home the morning of the wedding while everyone was getting ready. He was his charming self, and Doug, the photographer, loved him. I think he was in more photos than I was.

Trying to snitch some food at the rehearsal dinner without being attacked by a toddler.

Keeping Don company as he writes one last wedding check.

Asking if he can get his hair done too.

Admiring the beautiful bride.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Still Crazy (about you) After All These Years

Merry Poe surprising Don
When Don turned 40, I had a surprise birthday party for him. It wasn't very hard to keep the party planning hidden because Don is not what you'd call a "noticer" if that is a word. He doesn't notice things that are out of place.

We had been married 11 years by then, so for his birthday, I wrote him a letter detailing 40 things I loved about him.

I looked up this list to see if all 40 items still apply. Here are a few reasons why I loved him then and still love him now:

1. He overlooks my "piles" (I'm a piler, not a filer)
2. He never gets lost
3. He gives great hugs
4. He picks up after himself (and me sometimes)
5. He cheers me up when I'm sad
6. He is generous
7. He enjoys my burnt cookies
8. He's willing to eat cereal for dinner once in awhile
9. He has good taste in jewelry
10. He never gives up
11. He always finishes what he starts
12. He doesn't golf much
13. He has lots of patience
14. He opens my car door (when someone else is looking)
15. He will still love me when I'm 80

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Poison Ivy

Don and I have broken out in a poison ivy rash. We were weeding last Monday at his current rental property where apparently we were exposed to the oil from the Poison Ivy plant. The rash didn't appear until last Wednesday.

This is only the second time in my life I have contracted this dreaded ailment. I'm lucky, I guess. Don seems to get it every summer.

His worst case was the summer we got married. We bought two Siberian Huskies when we returned from our honeymoon. In order to keep Alex and Nicholas in the yard, Don put up a fence about 30 feet into the woods behind our house. He had a raging case of Poison Ivy for about a month. Not much fun for young newlyweds!

I've been researching how to get rid of Poison Ivy since I really don't want to take it with me on our bike trip. New sores seem to be popping up daily, and the itch wakes me up every morning around 2:00. The only weapon I've been using so far has been 1% hydrocortisone cream. Today I bought some Calamine lotion and antihistamine pills.

The internet is a great resource for finding cures. I'd like to share just a few of the suggestions people made for curing the poison ivy itch:

tea tree oil
goat's milk
Clorox bleach
Vagisil cream
mint julep facial mask
SOS brillo pad
baking soda
rubbing alcohol
witch hazel
mint mouthwash
toothpaste mixed with salt
apple cider vinegar mixed with Dawn green dish soap
stalk of rhubarb
Tabasco sauce

Since no one can agree on a solution, I think I will just stick with my Up & Up generic hydrocortisone cream! It's got to work just as well as some of these crazy ideas.

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Plank

While recovering from my slipped disc, I did many exercises to strengthen my core muscles. One of those exercises was the plank. I did regular planks and side planks almost every day. I was determined to heal my back, so I was diligent.

After weeks of planks, I noticed something. My abdominal muscles were getting very strong. Of course when my back started feeling better, I abandoned the plank routine.

There are many 30-Day Plank Challenges online which encourage you to increase your hold time by five seconds a day. But I think the simplest plank plan is to get into the proper position and just hold the plank for as long as you can. As soon as you start to feel yourself losing control of the proper position, stop. Do this three times a day. You will naturally get stronger over time and be able to hold the plank longer.

The key is to stay in the proper position. You might only be able to hold it for 5 seconds at first, but don't give up. You'll be amazed at how quickly your strength will build.

Plank routine re-start date for me is September 15.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Wedding Photos

Don't get too excited. We still don't have access to the photographer's wedding photos. Katherine and Josh checked with them and found out we won't see them until the middle of September! I can hardly stand it. In the meantime, for those of you who are not on Facebook, I will post a few photos taken by friends and family.

Peter and Daniel escorting me to my seat. I was starting to tear up already.

Don walking Katherine down the aisle.

Don giving the bride away.

Mr. and Mrs. Josh Ruiz.

Daniel and Peter.

The reception set up inside the barn.

Father-Daughter dance.

Some of my high school and college friends.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hope's Bread

Katherine's roommate, Hope, made all the desserts (except the cake) for the wedding. She made two pies, two Bundt cakes and two kinds of cookies.

She also made the communion bread.

Hope did all this at our house, so we got to sample some of the cookies and the extra loaf of bread. Hope's bread was amazingly good. I venture to say it was almost as good as the best bread in the world, which is the bread my friend Merry makes.

Hope told me it was very easy to make. Ding, ding went the bells in my head. Bread that is easy to make! I asked for the recipe. She obliged.

The recipe calls for the dreaded ingredient: yeast, but there is no kneading involved. Yay! I like this bread.

I made it today, and it turned out great! 

Hope's Bread

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup milk
3 T. butter in a large measuring cup.

Heat in microwave 90 seconds.

In a separate bowl, mix together:
2 cups flour
1/2 cup wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
2 t. salt
3 T. sugar
2 1/4 t. yeast

Add liquids to flour mixture.

Add 2 1/2 - 3 cups flour. Once combined, coat the dough with 3 T. honey.

Let dough rise 1 hour.

Split the dough in half and place into two greased loaf pans.

Let dough rise 1 hour again.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Breaking Up a Dog Fight

I've been thinking a lot about Jake's vicious dog attack. Since I've now witnessed two of these dog fights, I am a little nervous. Researching the right way to break up a fight hasn't made me feel much better.

Apparently, Becky and I did all the wrong things. The first piece of advice in every article is to "remain calm - don't scream." I agree that screaming is not effective when trying to get two dogs apart, but it's kind of a natural instinct.

Stabbing the aggressive dog in the rear end is not effective either. It just makes him more angry at his target.

Becky should not have tried to pry the dog's mouth open. All the research says to keep your hands out of the tangle. The fighting dogs are in high survival mode, and even your own dog can turn on you in that state.

The advice which made the most sense was to pick up the hind legs of the more aggressive dog either by using his tail or by grabbing his thighs as in the wheelbarrow position. As you do this, the dog will likely let go of his prey. It is important to turn the dog in a half circle so he is facing away from the other dog.

At this point, securing both dogs on a leash is critical. Otherwise, they may go after each other again.

I hope I don't ever have to do this because I'm not sure I am brave enough to get that close to the action. I have invested in a can of SABRE dog deterrent spray just in case. It is supposed to be irritating enough to break up a fight without doing any permanent harm to either dog.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Monster Cookies

On Friday, a new family moved in next door.  I thought it would be neighborly of me to make a batch of cookies and deliver them today. Monster Cookies have become a favorite of ours, so I chose those.

This recipe comes from Katherine's friend, Hope, who made all the delicious desserts that flanked the wedding cake at the reception.

These are also the cookies that enticed a wild animal to break into Katherine's & Hope's house a year ago.

Monster Cookies

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 stick butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 t. vanilla
2 t. baking soda
1 cup flour
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup M & M's
1/2 cup Reese's Pieces
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Combine sugar, brown sugar, butter and peanut butter in large bowl. Mix until combined. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Combine flour, baking soda and oats in a separate bowl then add to mixture.

Mix in candy and coconut with a large spoon.

Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Makes 3-4 dozen.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Caneel Bay

I did not know where we were going for our honeymoon until Don and I arrived. He thought it would be fun to keep it a secret. I really had to trust this guy. All he told me was to pack for warm weather.

We left bright and early the morning after our wedding. We flew out of Cleveland into Atlanta. From there, we made a stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico where we boarded a puddle jumper to St. Thomas in the Caribbean. I thought we had arrived, but we had one more leg of the journey on a boat to St. John Island. Our final destination was the resort of Caneel Bay.

The trip took an entire day, but when we got to our lodgings, the effort was worth it. We had a room on Hawk's Nest beach -- our own private beach with a hammock where we stayed for ten days. This was before cell phones, so we were totally disconnected from the world as we knew it. Bliss.

How did we do these selfies? 

Like I said, we had the whole beach to ourselves.

We got a lot of sun. Don's face got as red as his pants! Red pants? I hadn't started shopping for him yet.

I was just thinking about our honeymoon because Josh and Katherine will be back tomorrow from their honeymoon, and I can't wait to hear all about it! I hope they had as much fun as we did.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to School

Peter and Kendall had such a fun summer together, and now it is time to head back to school.

Their friend Rachel Criswell took some photos of them in the rain last night.

They are just too cute together.

And Rachel is a pretty good photographer!

Another year of college awaits. I'm going to miss them both.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mama Bear

Every Monday morning at 7:30, Jake and Riley meet at the park to walk. Of course the only way they can get there is if Becky and I drive them, which we did this morning.

We started out at our usual pace, casually strolling with the boys. Then about a half mile in, we crossed paths with a woman holding two dogs on leash.

We had passed this woman many time before, and one of her dogs has always been growly. Naturally, when a growly dog comes toward Riley and Jake, they growl back.

This time, we tried to get out of the way, but the vicious dog kept pulling toward us until his neck slipped out of his collar. Before we knew it, the dog had Jake's whole jaw in a vise grip. Jake pulled and pulled but couldn't get away. He was crying, and we were screaming.

Within 30 seconds, Becky turned into a mama bear. She was on the ground wrestling the dog, trying to pull his mouth off Jake. I continued to scream. Riley didn't know what to do. After another minute, I picked up the sharpest stick I could find and started stabbing the dog in the rear end. He would not budge. Becky had her hands around the dog's mouth. Don't ask me what the dog's owner was doing. Not much.

This trail is well traveled, but no one came by during the struggle. We could have used the Hudson High School cross country team which had run out before us.

At one point, the dog let go of Jake and latched onto Becky's arm. He punctured her skin in five or six places before grabbing Jake again. I thought Jake was going to die. The scene was that horrible. It reminded me of the time Riley was attacked on a walk in our neighborhood.

I have to give Becky a lot of credit for jumping on that dog. She is more brave than I am. I just got hysterical.

After about five minutes of struggle, Jake got loose, and I grabbed him and Riley and ran away from the dog. Becky was in shock as she sat and assessed the damage to her arm. Unfortunately, the woman with the dog got away before we got her name.

It was a miracle that Jake came out of the fight without any broken skin. And we are thankful Becky was not hurt any more than she was. We're thinking of investing in pepper spray for future walks. Now both of our dogs have been traumatized.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Photo Booth

The photo booth pictures at the wedding came out so cute!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sony Cybershot WX350

My last point and shoot camera died, so I wanted to get a new small camera to take on our bike trip to France. My requirements were: small, easy to use, decent zoom, fast shutter speed, and rechargeable battery.

I've been trying out the Sony WX350, and so far I love it. It is not complicated, and it takes very nice pictures. It has 18 megapixals and 20x zoom. It will be perfect for close ups and landscape shots on the trip.

Here are a couple of pictures I took today with my favorite subject: Riley.

Outdoor shot

Indoor shot

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Gabe's Shepherd's Pie

While working out at Premier Sport Conditioning a couple of weeks ago, our trainer, Gabe Mullane, was making small talk and asked me if I had a "signature dish," you know, a specialty meal that I was known for. I couldn't come up with anything except Pork Tenderloin because everyone loves that.

Then I asked him if he had a signature dish. He jumped right on that and told me all about his Shepherd's Pie. He loves to make it for his buddies after a big rugby tournament when everyone is very hungry.

He told me how he made it, and I requested a copy of the recipe. It is really more of a fall/winter meal, but I thought I would try it out tonight because I know Peter will love it and I also invited Daniel over. I know it will be a hit.

The recipe calls for six cups of mashed potatoes, so it is wise to make those ahead of time. I made the Pioneer Woman mashed potatoes about an hour ago.

Gabe's Shepherd's Pie

1 1/2 lb. ground beef or ground lamb
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, grated
1 t. chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 T. butter
2 T. flour
2 T. tomato paste
1 cup beef stock

1 T. Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
1 cup green peas
6 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish

Brown the beef in a large skillet over medium heat, 8-10 minutes. Spoon off and discard excess fat. Push the meat to one side and cook the onion, carrot, and thyme for 5-6 minutes, until the onions are just turning translucent.

Push the onions and carrots to one side and melt butter. Whisk the flour into the butter and then add the tomato paste. Stir everything in the pan together. Add the stock and Worcestershire and cook 5-7 minutes, until thickened. Season to taste with salt and a generous amount of pepper and then stir in peas.

Turn the meat into prepared dish and spoon potatoes on top. Run the tip of a fork over the potatoes to make furrows and peaks so it will brown nicely. If desired, sprinkle cheese on top. Bake for 20 minutes, until the meat is bubbling and the potatoes are browned.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Room With a View

Josh and Katherine sent a photo of the view outside their hotel room in St. Lucia. I think I'm going to pack my bag right now and join them. Oh...they might not like that!

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Wedding


Katherine and Josh got married yesterday! The day was more than we could have ever asked for. Every detail was perfect. I wish I had some nice photos to share right now, but I have to wait until the photographer sends us the link. All I can say is that it was amazingly beautiful. We are so happy for Josh and Katherine who are now in St. Lucia enjoying their honeymoon. Stay tuned for photos.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Something Old

Something Old (for continuity)- Katherine will be wearing one of grandma Richards' opal bracelets.

Something New (for optimism) - A new pair of earring to go with her dress.

Something Borrowed (for happiness) - I borrowed this handkerchief from my mother for my wedding, but I never gave it back. I guess that means it was stolen! Katherine is borrowing it from me.

Something Blue (for love & fidelity) - Her something blue is hidden.

There is a little blue stone set in the bottom of her shoe!