Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Our New Carpet

I learned something new this week: dog poop cleans up from carpet a lot better if you let it dry first.

Why did I need to learn this? Because we got new carpet a couple of weeks ago, and Riley, who has never, ever pooped in the house, pooped on our carpet. Not once, but twice.

Some might say he was initiating it...making it his own. But even though he is a "marker" this is not was he was doing.

Both incidents happened in the middle of the night when he couldn't wake us up from a dead sleep. He had an urgent need to go.

Why did he have an urgent need to go? Well,  he just might have gotten into a bag of chocolate animal crackers left over from Daniel's bachelor party which he found in Peter's backpack on the floor in his bedroom. And he might also have gotten into a trash bag that was on the counter in the guest bath instead of hanging on the high hook in my bedroom. That dog!

So when we first saw the poop on our fresh new carpet, our hearts were heavy and we screamed. I didn't want to clean it up without doing it correctly because our last carpet had a forever urine stain that grew exponentially every time we tried to get it out. That stain came from Don's brother's dog just weeks after we got the old carpet.

So I called the store where we bought the carpet and asked them what to do. The very nice man told me to "let it dry first" and then clean it up and scrape off the crumbs. After all the dry material was lifted, I should use a white rag with warm water and some clear dish soap to wipe the carpet clean.

The "let it dry first" part was an epiphany. I had never thought of that. It made a huge difference because there was no smearing and spreading of the poop.

Sorry if you are grossed out by this blog post, but just in case you are in this precarious situation in the future, take my advice and let it dry. You will thank me.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Im-Jud ' Dara

Im-Jud ' Dara is a funny name for a Lebanese dish my Sito (grandma) used to make when I was growing up. We pronounced it "em-jed-durah."

Basically, it is lentils with rice, and it is sooo good!

It can be a complete meal if you want it to be, but it is also great with some vegetables.

Here is the basic recipe:

Im-Jud ' Dara

1/2 cup olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 cup long grain rice
Salt & Pepper to taste

Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute, stirring until light gold, 12-18 minutes. Set aside.

Combine lentils and 4 cups of water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in rice and onions with their oil. Stir in salt and pepper.

Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary (25-30 minutes).

If serving at room temperature, place a doubled over dish towel under lid to absorb moisture as lentils and rice cool.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Walking Riley

I took this photo in the fall when I was experimenting with self-portraits on my iPhone.

Riley loves walks more than just about anything. The only thing better than a walk would be food.

Riley is a "marker." By that, I mean he has to pee every few feet to show other dogs he has been on his walk. He usually runs out of pee part way through the walk. But that doesn't stop him from trying.

One bad habit Riley has on his walk is lunging at passing cars. He must think cars are big dogs because he always pees right after they go by.

Riley ignores dogs who bark at us from behind invisible fences. Somehow he knows they are not a threat. But if a dog on a leash comes toward us he becomes very vicious. This is probably due to his run-in with Branson back in 2011.

The funniest thing Riley does on a walk happens when he approaches our driveway. He does not want to turn in and end our walk, so he pins his ears back and pulls me as hard has he can past our driveway in hopes of extending his fun. Once in awhile I'll let him win.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Our Waterbed

Our first bed was a waterbed from Don's bachelor pad.

It was a king size bed with one big, floppy rubber mattress that held 235 gallons of water. The weight of the bed was 2,000 pounds.

It was kind of fun rolling around on that great big, sloshy bed. And it was heated too-- so in the winter you could make it warm and in the summer you could make it cool.

When we moved from our house in Kirtland to our house in Bainbridge, we had to drain the bed. Don got the siphon going before he went to work, and I was supposed to keep an eye on the hose that was draped over the bathroom tub.

All was fine until I decided to give the kids a bath. The water seemed to have stopped flowing through the hose, so I tossed it out into the the hallway while I let the kids spend some leisurely time in the tub. To my horror, I realized the hose had been draining out in the hall the whole time, flooding our newly sold ranch home.

I thought the waterbed was great until I was six months pregnant with my first child. That's when getting out of bed in the morning started to become difficult. My pregnant belly made it hard to roll over the edge. I made it through that pregnancy and actually, one more.

But Peter was born in July, and Peter was a big baby. So no matter how low I turned the temperature on that bed, I could not get cool enough, and it was impossible to roll out after my eighth month. I had to sleep in the guest room.

After Peter was born, we decided it was time to move on to a conventional bed. We said good-bye to our 2,000 pound waterbed and bought the  king size sleigh bed that we sleep in today.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Bachelor Party

Meanwhile...back at the ranch... Daniel's friends made him wear cut-off jean shorts and a fanny pack all weekend while they rode four-wheelers and shot guns.

They tied him up and covered him with food.

And they also had some good, old-fashioned fun.

Peter won the Happy Gilmore longest golf drive shot. Here he is accepting his award from Brian (a Duck Dynasty DVD).

Bachelorette Party

The wedding date is getting closer! Time to celebrate Heidi, the bachelorette. Katherine was in town, so she and Kendall went to the party together.

Soon to be sisters!

Celebrating at M Italian in Chagrin Falls.

Meanwhile, the guys were doing their own celebrating at Brian's family's hunting cabin in Pennsylvania. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Happy Father's Day!

The dad who loves adventure.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Astonish Me

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead is a novel mostly about the world of ballet.

The story is inspired by the defection of Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1974. A Russian ballet star named Arslan  Rusakov makes his way to Canada and then the United States with the help of an American ballerina named Joan Joyce.

Joan falls in love with Rusakov, but he marries another Russian defector. When Joan finds herself pregnant and unable to continue dancing, she returns home to marry her childhood friend, Jacob.

As their child, Harry, grows up, he becomes interested in dance, and Joan teaches him everything she knows. When he is 17, Harry is invited to dance with the same company Joan was with years earlier.

Arslan Rusakov has been Harry's ballet idol since he was a young child, and he finally gets to meet him and learn from him in New York.

In between all the ballet, there are a number of intense and interesting love stories.

I would give Astonish Me four stars. I really enjoyed the writing style and some of the lines in the book were great. It kept my interest even though I previously knew nothing about ballet. The only thing I did not like was the way the book jumped around between the 1970's and 1990's. Overall, I would recommend it for a quick summer read.

I hear her first novel, Seating Arrangements, was very good and very funny. I would definitely look that one up.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

All In

On May 17, the VCA board meeting was held in a suite at one of the early Cavs playoff games. You don't know how guilty I felt for being there, taking up a precious seat.

I hadn't watched a Cavs game all year, and I only knew the name of one player on the team - LeBron James. I felt like an impostor wearing a CAVS shirt and everything.

But I was invited, so I went.

Throughout the rest of the series, I have tried my best to stay up for a whole game. Why do those Golden State Warriors have to live two time zones away?

Tonight, the Cavs are in game six of the final series, and I'm all excited about it. You can call me a fair weather fan. You can call me whatever you want (I have control of the comments).

I'm going to watch every last second of the game! Go Cavs. I'm all in.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mother Bird

I found the mother bird today and chased her around my front yard until I could get a picture of her.

I know as much about birds as I do flowers, so I cannot identify this one. I know it is not a robin and it is not a cardinal. And it's not a blue jay either.

Can anyone tell me what kind of bird this is? Could it be a Dark-Eyed Junco?

Monday, June 13, 2016

Shelter From the Storm

My friend Becky Peterson gave me this hanging plant when she came to stay with me in May. We originally hung it from a hook on the front porch for a few days, and when Don moved it to the plant hanger, we noticed a bird had built a nest in it.

We figured by moving the plant, the bird would not find its nest.I checked each time I watered it, and I did not see a bird.

I didn't make arrangements for the plant to be watered while we were on our 12-day trip, so  I figured it would be completely dead by the time we returned home. I guess our landscaper felt sorry for it and watered it because it was thriving on June 1 when we got back.

It hasn't seemed like it needed any water until today (12 days later!). No wonder my plants die. So I decided to water the poor thing, and when I peeked inside, a little bird flew out and revealed a nest of four eggs.

I don't want to water the bird's nest. So except for rain water, the plant will have to wait until the chicks hatch and fly away.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sister Brides

Heidi and her sister are getting married five weeks apart. Yesterday was Carli's big day, and Heidi was her maid of honor. July 16 will be Heidi's big day, and Carli will be her maid of honor! They are two beautiful girls, and other than the hair color, they could be twins.

Daniel and Heidi at the Baton Rouge, LA wedding yesterday.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Richards Properties

Peter made me an official employee of Richards Properties on Mother's Day when he presented me with my very own company t-shirt.

It even points out that I am in the Painting Division.

He and Don have had their t-shirts since Christmas when Peter designed them and ordered two for each of them. I was feeling a little left out.

The photo was taken today before I really got going with my paint job. Let's just say I broke it in.

Now if only Richards Properties would pay me some wages, I'd be all set.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016


We really should have know that Riley would be trouble. The day we met him, he was in a playpen at the breeder's house, and he did not stop jumping from the time we got there until the time we left.

Another clue was that the breeder had named him Tigger.

We changed his name to Riley, but that did not take the bounce out of him. Especially when food was involved.

My niece, Laura, sent this photo to me last night. She was looking through old photos and found it. I believe Carolyn was dog sitting for us at the time and they were having a cookout. Riley was interested in the watermelon.

While we were on our most recent trip, Riley got in trouble at Jake's house. Becky had purchased a container of chocolate-covered almonds for her son TJ and had set them on the dining room table for when he came over. She didn't think twice about them.

But Riley did. The minute he was left in the house alone with Jake, he found a way to get on the dining room table and open the container of Trader Joe's almonds.

Of course, he ate the entire package and then commenced to throw up for 24 hours. When will he learn? Most likely...never.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Turner House

Pam reminded me this morning that I haven't done a blog post in six days. Since I've been home, I have been busy and somehow the blog slipped onto the back burner. Never fear, I am still here.

You would think I could have read several books on our trip given we were in flight about 10  hours going and coming, plus we had two days at sea. But I only managed to complete this one.

I picked it up in the JFK airport before heading to Rome. The Turner House by Angela Flournoy was a National Book Award Finalist, so I figured it had to be good.

I loved this story about an African-American family. The book spans about 50 years, telling how the parents migrated from the south, settled in Detroit, and managed to raise 13 children. Each of the children has his/her own issues to deal with ranging from seeing ghosts to a gambling addiction to overeating.

After Francis Turner (the father) dies and Viola Turner (the mother) becomes ill, the children must decide what will happen to the beloved house on Yarrow Street that they all grew up in. The housing market in 2008 makes the house nearly worthless. Everyone has an opinion whether to sell or hold the house.

It was entertaining and enjoyable. Would give it four out of five stars.