Saturday, January 30, 2016

Which One is Jake?

Becky sent me this adorable photo of Jake and his six sisters, taken when they were puppies. She asked me if I could identify Jake in the bunch. I had a hunch which one he was, but to be sure, I looked up some photos I had taken of him to check his markings.

Take a close look at this photo of Jake and then look at the puppies in the wagon again. See if you can find Jake. Don't read the next sentence until you guess.

If you guessed the one on the far right, you are correct!

Too Chilly for the Beach

Yesterday, it was a high of 62 in Naples without much sun. So we decided to make it our shopping day. We love the Miromar Outlets, so we walked around shopping for four hours. It was good exercise.

Besides, Nancy had to find some cute clothes for her grand baby, Ava.

It was sort of like going to the zoo as well, because the turtle pond entertained us for about 15 minutes.

After lunch we had to take a photo to show Karen how much fun we were having. She's never going to miss another trip again.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Party Begins

I sent Don home last night. Yes, I will miss him, but these three ladies are arriving in two hours for several days of fun in the sun.

They sent me this photo on their layover in Atlanta to warn me they were on their way. From left to right (Nancy, Celeste, and Gretchen) - Karen is missing.

Just like she was missing two years ago on the cruise. And I didn't pack flat Karen.

Hopefully I will get some great photos of our trip.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me

This photo was taken at Sito's house. I was probably turning five that year (around 1964). That's my mom smiling at the new dress I opened.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hijacked!! (Part 2)

ATTENTION: The post you are about to read was not written by the owner of the blog "My Life with Riley." This account has been hijacked by an unidentified caucasian male.  Eye witnesses described the suspect as more attractive than his younger brother.  I hope you all protect your passwords better than my mother.

Dear Masha,
Happy Birthday! It's been four years since my last hijacking. I will admit that you protect your passwords better these days...I didn't find it in your document titled "passwords."  Some things haven't changed, though.  Riley is still alive and well, which means your blog header still makes sense.  I still look forward to checking your site each day for an interesting story...I still get disappointed when it's a recipe. And of course, I still love you for at least ten reasons:

1. You enjoy the simple things in life, such as a cup of hot tea and a good book.
2. You always laugh at my jokes, even when they earned me a set of 50 push-ups.
3. Currently working towards your third degree, you never stop learning.
4. You offer to paint my house in exchange for lunch or dinner with me.
5. My passion for photography all started with you.
6. You send just as many e-mails to me as you do text messages.
7. You have an irrational fear of bees.
8. One glass of wine is enough to make your cheeks red.
9. You could drive for hours in the car without realizing that the radio is turned off.
10. You still make me dinner every time I come over!

I wish you a very happy birthday; thank you for being the best mom in the world!


Everything I Never Told You

Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng, is her first novel. You would never know it. I thought the writing was excellent and the story will stick with me for a long time.

The Lee family consists of Marilyn, a white woman, James, a Chinese American, and their three children: Nathan, Lydia and Hannah. It is 1977, in a small town in Ohio. Lydia just turned 16, and a few days later, she is dead. She is found at the bottom of the lake near her house, but no one knows how she got there.

It is not a gruesome or suspenseful story. It is a story about family dynamics and prejudice and unfulfilled dreams. It really gives you something to think about it.

I give it 4.5 stars. Highly recommend it. This would make a great Book Group book.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

I'm Craving This Soup

Last night I was having trouble sleeping. It happens sometimes. So I put my earbuds in, set the timer on my iPod to 30 minutes and hoped to drift to sleep listening to Happy Hour by Jamie Ivey. On her podcast, Jamie interviews people she finds interesting, and at the end of each show, she asks the guest to tell her three things they are loving right now.

The guest on last night's show was Rachel Hollis who has a website called The Chic Site. I knew immediately I would want to check it out in the morning when I woke up. This didn't do much for my ability to go back to sleep.

The thing that caught my attention was a recipe she talked about. She said her company is located by a Whole Foods store in Los Angeles, and at least three times a week, she would go there and have their Chicken Artichoke Soup. She loved it so much that she asked the chef who works for her company to taste it until he could figure out how to make it. She claims that their version tastes as good, if not better, than the one at Whole Foods.

I am dying to try this recipe. It's one you can cook in your slow cooker too. So before I even try it, I am sharing it here. Slow Cooker Chicken Artichoke Soup. It's the first thing I'm going to make when I get back home.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Appreciate Those Squirrels

Photo by Kelly Humphrey, Associated Press
I bet you didn't know that yesterday was Squirrel Appreciation Day. It is a real day on the National Day Calendar. For instance, today is Blonde Brownie Day.

Riley doesn't really appreciate squirrels. I think he gets that from Don. We can't even say the "S" word in our house.

Any squirrel found in our backyard will soon be up a tree. In this way, Riley is like a coon dog. He will stay with that squirrel until the cows come home.

Riley is spending the week at Jake's house, and Becky read them a bedtime story in defense of the squirrels.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Check Out These Blogs

Random public domain photo
Here are some blogs I have bookmarked in the past few months. Instead of landing on the home page of the blog, I chose an interesting blog post to read.

1. How do you eat in a healthy way when you travel? Or when you are just in your car driving from here to there? Megan Wolf is a dietitian and consultant who writes at The Domesticated Wolf. She suggests packing some snacks that include protein and lots of fiber to keep you full. She also suggests keeping water with you at all times so you can stay hydrated.

2. I subscribe to Life Beautiful magazine, and I love the clean lines and inspiring articles in it. I recently found out they have a website to go along with the magazine. Here is an article that shows you how to set up an area for prayer and Bible reading using an armoire.

3. A Couple Cooks  is a couple that likes to cook. They eat the Michael Pollen way: "eat real food, not too much, mostly plants." So their recipes are all healthy. I want to try this Greek yogurt ranch dip. It looks really easy, and it doesn't have any ingredients I can't pronounce in it.

4. I've gotten a late start on my reading goal this year: to read one book per week. But I plan to catch up in the next 12 days. Modern Mrs. Darcy posts a reading challenge on her blog to get the creative juices flowing. I'm going to do the 2016 Reading Challenge in my 52 books.

5. Courtney Slazinik writes a blog called Click it up a Notch. It's about photography in everyday life. I like this post with 8 great tips to help you take a photo a day - something I strive to do!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Out of Africa

Peter sitting on the border of Kenya and Tanzania

Peter returned from Kenya on Thursday night. Thankfully, he did not have any problems with his flights. They were just long. The flight from Nairobi to Switzerland was 12 hours and the flight from Switzerland to JFK was 8 hours. Then he had to wait about 6 hours to get on another flight to Cleveland.

The last two days in Kenya were spent on a safari in the Maasai Mara. It was a bumpy 7 hour ride in a safari truck from where they were staying in Nairobi. They spent the night at Maasai Mara before riding back on a 7 hour bumpy ride. But it was worth it!

Peter took photos with his phone, so he didn't get too many great shots, but he saw every animal that roams the wild there: lions, leopards, cheetahs, gazelles, wildebeests, giraffes, water buffalo, hippopotamus, elephants, etc.

The beautiful giraffe.

A lion that seemed to be lost from its group.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Fabulous Chicken


I made this chicken the other night, and it was fabulous!  It was so juicy, so tender, so flavorful and yet so simple that I had to share the recipe with you. This will go into my favorites collection. I sort of got the instructions from baking at The Kitchn but I got the idea for seasoning from a YouTube video that I can no longer find. The seasoning gives the chicken a golden appearance like rotisserie.

Baked Boneless Chicken Thighs

6 boneless chicken thighs
Olive oil
McCormick "Perfect Pinch" Rotisserie Chicken seasoning

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Place chicken thighs in a small casserole dish and drizzle with olive oil. Toss them around to coat.

Sprinkle chicken with a little salt and Perfect Pinch Rotisserie Chicken seasoning.

Bake for 20 minutes or until chicken has an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove chicken from oven and let rest, covered, for 10 minutes.

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Mornings

This is what my mornings look like:

I wake up. Riley wakes up too.

I get dressed. Riley waits for me.

We go down to the kitchen together. He usually runs faster than I do.

I fill my electric tea kettle with fresh water and press the button to turn it on. Riley runs to his food cupboard and waits.

I fill his bowl with Purina Pro Plan Salmon. He turns in three circles and sits down. I tell him, "OK" and he eats his breakfast (1/2 cup).

I make my tea. Either Tazo Awake or Tazo Calm. Today it was Awake.

Riley rings his bell. I let him out. I let him in. He sits by his food cupboard and waits for a treat.

He gets his ball and runs to find Don. I sit down and drink my tea.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Lindsay Dunphy

Last night, Don, Daniel, Heidi and I went to Sarah's Vineyard in Cuyahoga Falls for pizza, wine and a show by my niece, Lindsay Dunphy, who is home from New York.

Lindsay grew up in Stow, Ohio and moved to New York for college. After she graduated, she started to build her vocal career. Right Kind of Fool is her second EP (Rainbows was her first). She's doing very well. We really enjoyed her original songs and the popular songs she sang as well.

This is what she looks like without a mustache.

This is her singing at Sarah's Vineyard.

The guy on the keyboard went to school with her at Stow. They met in Show Choir.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Purple Green Smoothie

Carolyn told me yesterday that she hates green smoothies and I won't catch her drinking one. I'm not sure what she thinks is in a green smoothie, but it's not all green stuff.

I made a green smoothie this morning that was one of the best tasting drinks I've had. It qualifies as a green smoothie even though the only green thing in it was spinach. I got the formula from the Simple Green Smoothies book that Katherine & Josh gave me for Christmas.

What made this smoothie so delicious is the coconut water I used for the liquid. I had never used coconut water before in my smoothies, but it made all the difference. It gave it a fresh, topical taste and made the smoothie a little thicker even though there was no milk or yogurt.

Here is the recipe (really a formula):

1 1/2 cups coconut water
1 banana
1 cup spinach
1 cup frozen fruit (I used 1/2 cup blueberries and 1/2 cup peaches)

Put it all in the blender and whirl it around until smooth. Makes enough for two people.

The next time Carolyn is at my house, I'm making this for her. She cannot say it tastes bad!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Get Out of Your Seat

From Flickr

Do you find yourself sitting for hours on end during the day? Reading? Watching TV? Working at your desk? If so, you need to do something about that. It's not good for your health.

Standing too much isn't good either. That can give you varicose veins as well as back and foot problems. The trick is to meet somewhere in the middle.

The Pomodoro Technique was created to solve this too much sitting problem. A Pomodoro is a sauce made from tomatoes, and it doesn't have anything to do with the Pomodoro Technique except that the cute little timer they created looks like a tomato.

Here's what you do: for every 25 minutes you sit, you should get up and move for 5-15 minutes. This helps your blood circulate, keeps your muscles from tightening up, burns a few calories and gives your eyes and mind a break.

You can use a tomato timer, but why spend money on that? You can also use your kitchen timer or a timer built into your phone or your computer. There is a tomato timer program if you like. And a tomato timer app you can get on your phone.

The point is, don't sit for more than 25 minutes at a time. Your butt, your back and your arteries will thank you.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Seven Years Ago

I was searching for a photo from the not too distant past that I could use for motivation. I like this one.  That's me on the beach at Grand Cayman Island. Don took me there for my 50th birthday. I had spent nine months working hard at losing weight, and I felt pretty good. I wasn't even working out then.

This is the photo I will hang on the refrigerator to stop me from munching after dinner. I'll hang it in the pantry to keep me from nibbling on junk food. I'll tape it to my dashboard to keep me from stopping at McDonald's.

I don't want to look like a football player in the pictures at Daniel's wedding. I also want my lipid panel to keep going down. All I need is a little motivation, a lot of willpower and some accountability. Here we go again.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Keep Calm and Color On

Coloring was always a favorite activity for me as a young girl. Nothing was better than opening a brand new box of Crayola crayons. So when I heard that adult coloring books were the new thing, I was anxious to try it out.

The trouble was, I couldn't find a coloring book I liked until now. I was walking through Target the other day and looked inside one called Keep Calm and Color On: 75 stress-relieving designs. The images were just perfect. They are interesting and just the right level of detail.

For my first design, I chose a flower. When I was finished, I wanted to show it to my mom. I was pretty proud of it! The only drawback is that now the arthritis is flaring up in my right hand. Maybe I was gripping the colored pencils a little too tightly? Next time I'll try to keep more calm.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Quick Chicken Salad

I had some leftover chicken that had to be used up, so I decided to try a new chicken salad recipe today. This comes from Lisa Leake's 100 Days of Real Food blog. If you haven't gone to her blog in awhile, check it out. She has made some changes that make it a lot easier to navigate.

Here's the recipe which can be assembled in about 5 minutes. Makes 3-4 servings

Sour Cream and Onion Chicken Salad

2 cups chopped up cooked chicken
1/2 cup sour cream
2 T. dried minced onion (I only used 1 T.)
1/2 t. onion powder
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. salt

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly. That's it!

She notes that it is best to make this chicken salad in advance so the minced onion has time to soften before eating. I tasted it right after I made it, and the onions were a little crunchy at that time. But it tasted great.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Hugging Giraffes

I'm so thrilled to know that Peter and his Kenya team made it to Nairobi and they are doing well. As you can see from the photo, Peter made a new friend there.

If you want to follow along with what they are doing on their trip, go to their Kenya2016 blog. I can't wait to hear all about it when Peter gets home.

Friday, January 1, 2016

More Shots from Beaver Creek

This is a photo of the year-round ice rink in the middle of the village. I took it in the morning when there weren't many people around.

This old man from Germany has been playing the alpine horn at Beaver Creek every day from around 3:00-4:00 since I can remember. Today I asked him if I could take some photos of him. He was very friendly. Then he played a nice tune for me.

He said he was asked to play at the Hofbrauhaus in Cleveland once.

There are many bronze sculptures around the plaza. This bear is looking back at a little boy who happened to shoot an arrow in his rear end. 

This one is a bronze sculpture of Mark Twain covered with a little snow.