Monday, November 30, 2015

Photo Session

Before dinner on Wednesday, our family went to Beartown Lakes Reservation, which is only ten minutes from our house, to take a photo for our Christmas cards. Daniel brought his camera, and after setting up the family shot, he had Heidi snap the photo. I'm not going to show you that photo right now because I want it to be a surprise on the Christmas card. But Daniel took some additional photos of us while we were there. They came out so nice. The lighting was perfect.

 Katherine and Josh

 Heidi and Daniel

Kendall and Peter

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Salad Bar Dinner

Last night for dinner, we had a salad bar. I got this idea from The Oz Family Kitchen cookbook by Lisa Oz. After having Thanksgiving leftovers for several days, it was a welcome change.

Here is what I set out on the counter:

A big bowl of lettuce and spinach
Green peppers
Red peppers
Carrot crinkles
Honey crusted almonds
Cheddar and Swiss cheese chunks
Leftover ham chunks
Leftover turkey chunks
Rotisserie chicken chunks
Four kinds of salad dressings

We each made our own salad with whatever ingredients we liked. Other options might be hard-cooked eggs, seeds, cooked shrimp, chopped apples, chopped pears, mandarin oranges, cauliflower, and shredded Brussels sprouts.

I think this is a marvelous idea, and I plan to do it once a week and eat the leftovers for lunches.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mashed Potato Ritual

Don grew up in a family of four boys. He was the youngest of the four. Dave was ten years older, Doug was eight years older, and Dan was six years older. There he is on the left.

Don claims that his family had potatoes every night for dinner (along with some meat, of course). But I don't see any potatoes on this table.

The topic of potatoes came up on Thanksgiving day because Peter and I noticed that Don has a mashed potato ritual that he follows whenever mashed potatoes are served.

First, he uses his fork to form a perfect circle with his mashed potatoes. Then he tamps down the pile along the edges with the tines of his fork. After that, he scoops out the center of the pile and eats it. That makes a nice well in which he places a pat of butter. After the butter sits for a minute and melts, he digs in.

I made Pioneer Woman mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving, and he saw how much butter (a stick and a half) and cream cheese ( 8 ounces) went into the pot. That did not stop him from adding more.

He sure enjoyed those mashed potatoes. Next up: Don's baked potato ritual, which is even more exciting.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I'm so thankful for Don, Katherine, Josh, Daniel, Heidi, Peter and Kendall ...and of course Riley!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Early Thanksgiving for Riley

Yesterday, Don, Peter and I were in and out of the house (mostly out). I was the last to leave of the three of us, so it was my duty to close the pantry door.

Well, I forgot to do my duty. Normally, it would have been alright because I have been keeping all food on the top three shelves where Riley can't get it. But this week, I stocked up on Thanksgiving items, and I had to use the bottom shelf.

So, I put the sweet potatoes and the Idaho potatoes down there thinking Riley would not want to eat those.

I was wrong.

When I returned home, I had groceries in my car, so I unloaded them. Riley came out into the garage with me. Then he would not come back in the house. No matter what I did, he just stood there. I left him out there as I put the groceries away.

When I was putting things in the pantry, I looked down to my left and noticed there were only three sweet potatoes on the shelf. There had been four. Oh no.

Then I looked in the family room, and I saw a half-eaten sweet potato sitting on the floor. No wonder Riley did not want to come back in the house. He knew he was in trouble!

I'm not sure if he stopped eating the potato when he heard the garage door open or if he stopped eating it because he didn't like it. Either way, I'm glad I wasn't gone all day. He probably would have eaten all four.

Monday, November 23, 2015

That Time I Walked to Tijuana

It was January of 1984. I was working for Arthur Andersen in Orange County, California, programming a new system for a subsidiary of Blue Coral in Cleveland. Each weekend, my co-workers (Ted and Mike) and I tried to do something fun like go to Disneyland or see the Queen Mary docked in Long Beach.

One weekend, Mike and I decided to visit Mexico. We boarded a train and headed as far south as it would go in San Diego. Then we got off the train and walked the rest of the way to Tijuana. You do things like this when you're young.

I don't remember any guns or border patrol. In fact, we walked right over the border without passports. There were children selling flowers and begging for cash, but no one looked like he would harm us.

Once into Mexico, we encountered a large bazaar. It was like a giant flea market. Most of the goods were clothing, towels, blankets and tchotchkes. We bargained for two blankets, which were tough to carry around in the heat.

I remember the thrill of being outside the USA for the first time, even though it wasn't very far. We wanted to board the train back north before dark, so we didn't stay more than a few hours.

I wonder what it is like at that border today.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I Won't Grow Up

"I want to be Peter Pan when I grow up." - Daniel Richards (1994)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Christmas Gift ideas

It's time to start Christmas shopping! It would be better yet if I were finished with my Christmas shopping. But that's not the case, so here are a few items I thought would work well for family and friends.

But my family and friends might read my blog, so I'll have to be careful not to spill any secrets.

First off, this is the perfect gift for my friend Tammy, who has a goat farm. She doesn't have time to read my blog, so I know she won't see this. A Goat mug from Eat Sleep Farm on

Every year, for the past hundred years, I have made a family photo wall calendar for Don. This won't be a surprise to him. I have always ordered the calendars from Snapfish in the past, but I might try Shutterfly this year since I received a coupon for a free wall calendar in the mail. I make a second one for Katherine, and this year, Daniel wants one too. So I better make one for Peter so he doesn't feel left out.

This is what I'm wrapping up for Riley. He can't read (yet), so I'm not worried about spoiling it for him. It's called the Protocol Dog Treat Launcher. They are on sale now for $9.99 at You load it with small treats, then you pull the trigger and they fly across the room. He will love it!
This is something I would love to have from anyone who likes to cook and has great recipes (like my sister) hint, hint. I would love a cookbook with all their favorite recipes included. I saw a clever idea on where someone made a cookbook to give to someone who just left home.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Stress Relief

I've been kind of stressed out lately. Mostly because I want to finish my Old Testament Literature course two weeks early so I can concentrate on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Two days ago, I had five papers to write. As of tonight, I have three more to go.

I had an appointment all lined up for today to get a hot stone massage with my niece, Laura, at the Brown Aveda Institute where she is a student. I had mixed feelings about going. I really needed to stay home and work on my papers, but the massage would relieve my stress.

Before I left for the massage, Laura sent me a text saying she had a cancellation this morning, and would I mind, instead of the massage, getting a "body treatment." I didn't quite know what that was, but I agreed.

Turns out it was kind of like a massage anyway. She just rubbed a whole lot of lotion on my arms, legs, back and neck - with extra special treatment on my back.

It was so relaxing, I almost fell asleep. It took the tension right out of my neck and shoulders.

Laura will graduate from her program next week. And I'm sure she will be the world's best esthetician (skin care therapist). Congratulations, Laura!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Commonplace Book

I want to start keeping a commonplace book. It's an old-school way of collecting thoughts, letters, quotes, poems, prayers, pictures, comics, and ideas that you come across and don't want to lose. You can keep these collected items in a notebook, on a set of index cards, or in a journal or scrapbook.

Commonplace books have been around since the 15th century, so they are nothing new. People like Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon kept one.

Almost always, when I read a non-fiction book, I highlight on the pages or take notes on paper. Those notes eventually get lost or thrown out. If I capture the most important passages of the books I read in a commonplace book, I will always know where to find them. These clippings can even help me formulate blog post ideas.

There are many examples of modern-day and long-ago commonplace books on Pinterest. The great thing about them is that they take on your personal style. Some people like to illustrate their books, and some people like to glue scraps of paper to the pages.

I think mine will be in the form of a journal/scrapbook. I'll paste some clippings and hand write everything else. Since I am no good at illustrating, I can embellish the pages with colorful Washi tape.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Some Blogs I Love

Jones Design Company is a blog about decorating and crafting and lots of other great information. For instance, her most recent post was about choosing colors for the outfits you wear in a family photo.

Modern Mrs. Darcy has many great topics, but the one I like best on this blog is the book recommendations. I found her 2015 Reading Challenge too late, but it would be interesting to try to do this next year.

David Molnar has a blog that is mainly about iPhone photography. He does other types of photography as well, but what he specializes in is getting great shots with your iPhone.

Debbie Stangeland blogs about blogging. I have gotten great ideas from her website. If you are thinking of starting a blog, I would recommend her posts.

Amy Lynn Andrews is another person I would recommend for beginning a blog, especially if you want to earn money doing it. Amy also does a lot of technology reviews and she gives great tips each week in her Useletter.

Her meneutics is a blog for Christian women. The essays are about all sorts of topics including relationships, culture, and family life. I find them very thought provoking.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Spin Class

I always hate hanging my bike up for the season. It literally does get hung up. We have wire lifts that take our bikes up to the ceiling of our garage to get them out of the way for the winter.

It makes me sad to know I won't be able to get on the saddle until spring. I also hate that my biking muscles go soft from November to May. That's six months out of the year.

I don't know why I hadn't thought of this before, but I looked into Spin classes near home. The Wembly Club up the road offers them year round. You don't have to be a member to attend classes, you just have to pay a small fee.

Spin class is one hour long. My legs do not stop the entire time. The instructor in on a bike in the front of the room, facing the class. She tells us to stand up or sit down or hover over our seat. She tells us to adjust the tension dial on the bike from 0 to 10 to simulate biking up a hill. All the while we are listening to upbeat music.

I've fallen in love with Spin class. When I leave, I feel like I just jumped into the swimming pool. I think my legs are going to thank me come spring. Don will have to really work to keep up with me. Ha, ha!

Friday, November 13, 2015

My Blue-Eyed Girl

Katherine - one year old, loving the pile of leaves.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Top 5 Recipes from October

October's 31 Days of New Foods challenge was hard work, but lots of fun. And the best benefit of it for me was finding some great new recipes that I will use. Everyone's taste is different, but I thought I would share my top 5 picks from the recipe spree. These are the recipes I know I will make over and over again because they were so delicious and easy to make. If you want to experiment a little, I would try these first.

1. Angel Hair with Tomatoes & Garlic

2. Lemony Chicken & Kale Soup

3. Tomato Pumpkin Bisque

4. Rotisserie Chicken

5. Guacamole

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What's Wrong with this Picture?

Peter is doing a great job student teaching this fall. He is teaching high school math at Shenango High School in New Castle, Pennsylvania. He has to prepare all his lesson plans and teach Algebra 2, Pre-Algebra and Consumer Math. He has to prepare and administer tests, and of course grade papers.

This past weekend, Kendall helped him do his grading. But when I walked into the room, I noticed something strange. Can you figure it out?

Peter is wearing an Ohio State shirt, and Kendall is wearing a Grove City shirt.

But Peter attends Grove City and Kendall attends Ohio State. How did that happen?

Monday, November 9, 2015


Today is the day Kendall has been waiting for. She got her braces off!!
Such a beautiful young lady - what a gorgeous smile.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Gang's All Here

I love weekends when everyone is in town! It doesn't happen very often, so when it does, we try to celebrate. Tonight, we all went to dinner at Jekyll's Kitchen in Chagrin Falls. Then everyone but me went to see the new James Bond Movie, Spectre. I have a difficult time watching movies with suspense and action such as this, so I did not go.

Katherine got to celebrate her birthday one more time!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Bucket List

Places I'd Like to Visit:
South Africa

Things I'd Like to Accomplish:
Publish a book
Start my own Business
Be a Bible teacher
Eat only whole foods

Events I'd like to attend:
Summer or Winter Olympics
U. S. Open (Tennis)

Skills I'd Like to Develop:
Ballroom Dancing
Public Speaking
Manual Photography

Pie in the Sky Dream:
Six-Pack Abs

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Katherine's Golden Birthday

Katherine turned 27 on the 27th of October. That means this year was her "golden birthday." This is a real thing. It's a once in a lifetime event.

Unfortunately, Josh's golden birthday was when he turned 4 (his birthday is July 4th). So his big chance to have a grand celebration is long gone. So is mine. Once you are past 31, it's all over.

Daniel still has a chance. His golden birthday will be next year.

Katherine wanted to make this birthday special, so she planned a big party for all her friends to celebrate with her.

I'm sure Josh helped out a lot.

They carved pumpkins, had caramel apples and played corn hole.

Katherine had so much fun decorating and making the food. Just look at those cupcakes!

I'm so glad she had a beautiful day for her party!

*most photos by Josh

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Daniel & Heidi

Daniel and Heidi went to a place called Indigo Lake in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park a few weeks ago to capture the fall colors.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Michigan Visit

On Friday, Don and I took a day trip to Leonard, Michigan to visit his aunt Pat and uncle Gerry. Aunt Pat is Don's dad's younger sister. We also got to see his cousin Janis, cousin Devon and her husband, Tom as well as his cousin Debbie and her husband Roger.

Janis's husband, Rick, is a chef and owns the Pickles & Rye Deli in Bloomfield, Michigan. Even though he couldn't be there, he provided lunch for us. It was yummy!

Pat has been working on a family genealogy for years. She brought it out and unrolled it on the kitchen counter for all of us to see.

Janis took us on a tour of the property. From left to right (Devon, Tom and Janis) inside Uncle Gerry's workshop barn.

The lovely outdoor fire pit they built themselves, including the Adirondack chairs assembled by Janis.

Janis's adorable dog, Ellie.

Aunt Pat, Don, Me and Uncle Gerry

Uncle Gerry, Aunt Pat and Janis

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Trick or Treat

Don and I sort of missed Trick or Treat this year. The CVCA soccer game went into double overtime, and we didn't get home until about 7:30. It was worth the delay because the soccer team won the game and they are now district champions!

 Five neighborhood children did come to our door between 7:30 and 8:00, and Riley was ready for them.

Riley was a pirate this year. His costume was a little too small though. He couldn't move in it. He was so mad at me that he refused to look at the camera even when I offered him candy and cookies.

Everyone will be happy to know that I put him out of his misery right after I took the photos.