Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sliced Baked Potatoes

Daniel informed us a couple of weeks ago that there are several foods that you can live on the rest of your life. One of those foods was bananas and another was potatoes. If you only ate potatoes the rest of your life, you could survive. If you are so inclined to eat only potatoes for the rest of your life, here is a recipe to get you started. Just ignore the bacon bits, cheese and onions.

This is what Don and I ate for dinner tonight. You can do things like that when your kids are gone.

Sliced Baked Potatoes

2 Idaho Potatoes
3 T. butter, melted
2 green onions, sliced
Grated cheddar cheese
Bacon bits
Sour cream (optional)

Slice potatoes. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Brush both sides of potatoes with butter.
Sprinkle with salt if desired.
Bake for 20 minutes. Turn potatoes and bake 20 minutes more.
Remove potatoes from oven. Sprinkle with cheese, bacon bits and onions.
Return potatoes to oven for 5 min. more, or until cheese is melted.
Serve with sour cream if desired.

These were really good!! Would make a great party appetizer too.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

A Trip to the Landfill

Random Landfill in Iowa looks suspiciously like the landfill in Indiana
I think this is one of those "you had to be there" stories, but I'll tell it anyway.

Sometimes Don asks me to do things I really don't want to do. He asks in a way that makes me feel bad if I don't put my big girl pants on and do it.

Yesterday, he wanted me to go to a landfill with Katherine to drop off the junk from the basement of the house she and Josh bought. Normally, Don would do the dirty work, but he had other projects on his mind, and he only had 24 hours to get them done.

Going to the landfill involved carrying all the junk from the basement upstairs, loading it into an 8 ft. x 5 ft. U-Haul trailer which was attached to his car, driving the car with the trailer 30 minutes to the landfill and unloading the junk.  And Josh was going to meet us there when he got off work. How hard could that be?

It took us an hour to load the U-Haul. I was afraid to drive the car/trailer, but Katherine was willing. On the way to the landfill we joked at how bad we both looked being all sweaty and dirty, but we were going to the landfill, so we didn't need to worry about running into anyone.

We arrived at the landfill, and Josh wasn't there, so we proceeded without him. Katherine, bless her heart for driving, drove our load up onto the weigh scale and signed our lives away. The lady at the window gave us hard hats and safety vests to wear so we wouldn't get run over. She pointed to the small mountain in the distance and told us to drive up there by the fence and unload.

Not knowing any better, we began our trek. There was no turning back because it's not easy to back up a car towing a trailer. Besides that, a truck towing his own trailer was right behind us.

Up we went. And up again. And up some more. It was kind of distracting for Katherine because I kept screaming, "what in the world?"

When we reached the summit, the guy behind us pulled up next to us. Katherine rolled down her window, and the most awful stench immediately filled the car. I looked ahead and saw several thousand birds (vulture-like) flying in circles and standing on mounds of garbage. Huge bulldozers were moving the piles around and huge garbage trucks were coming up the hill behind us.

The man in the truck looked at us and said, "What are you doing up here in a BMW?" I thought there were better questions than that. We told him what the lady said. He shook his head and told us to go back down the mountain and dump our garbage at the "courtesy wall."

SO we went back down and talked to the lady again, thinking we had misunderstood her. She said, "NO...that man is just a customer...he doesn't know our policies...All trailers are required to dump their stuff up there..."

We called Josh.

Josh arrived five minutes later, and we headed back up to the landfill. Josh drove this time. I was in the back seat closing my eyes and repeating the words, "I'm going to kill my husband."

We got about halfway up and a man in a garbage truck pulled up beside us and said, "What are you doing up here?" We told him our sad story. He told us we shouldn't be up here and to go down and use the "courtesy wall."

Long story short, we figured out what the courtesy wall was. You pull up and throw your stuff over this wall into a dumpster. An hour after we had arrived, that is what we did.

When we returned our hard hats and safety vests to the not-so-nice lady at the window, she apologized profusely. I think the garbage truck man scolded her for sending us up there.

Don can go to the landfill next time.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Not So Secret Life of Bees

I'm a bee watcher. I can't help it, because they terrify me.

It's sad, but whenever I sit outside on the deck or on the front porch, I'm always aware of the bees.

I watch where the bees fly, and I find their nests. Right now, there is a nest inside our grill. A few weeks ago, there was a nest under the shelf on our grill. There is also a nest in one of our bird feeders. And one in the fence railing around our pool.

I was surprised the other day to find a bee inside my watering can. I thought the bee had drowned, but the next thing I knew, it flew out. Then it flew back again, sat on the water and flew out. I followed it, and it was one of the bees in the pool fence. It was getting drinks of water. Or maybe taking water back to make mud for the nest. I did not know bees could swim.

I'm getting better at letting bees fly around me. I used to have to wear ear buds when I sat outside because of my bee buzz phobia. And before that I could barely stand to sit outside in the summer.

The more I learn about bees, the more I feel safe around them. I can't say I'm cured because my worst nightmare is still being chased by an angry swarm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Zucchini Muffins

I had two zucchini sitting on my counter because I planned to make some zucchini bread last weekend. It never happened. Then I saw a recipe online (Simply Recipes) for zucchini muffins. Tonight I gave it a try. There are two missing because Don and I had to sample them. They were pretty yummy. Walnuts and raisins/cranberries are optional. I used walnuts but left out the raisins/cranberries. Wish I had put the cranberries in. They needed that little extra something. Next time.

Zucchini Muffins

3 cups grated zucchini
2/3 cups melted butter (unsalted)
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 t. vanilla
2 t. baking soda
3 cups flour
2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 cup walnuts
1 cup raisins/dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine sugar, eggs and vanilla. Stir in grated zucchini and melted butter.

In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon. Stir into zucchini mixture. Add walnuts and cranberries.

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners. Distribute dough, filling up cups completely.

Bake in center of oven for 20-25 minutes. Check with toothpick to see if done.

Cool on wire rack 20 minutes.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Anne of Green Gables

I never read Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery when I was growing up. I've never even seen the movies that were made from the story, so I did not know what to expect from this book.

Well, I really enjoyed this sweet story. Anne had such a great outlook on life. And I could really relate to Marilla, her adoptive mother who was about my age.

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a brother and sister pair living at Green Gables farm, wanted to take in an orphan boy to help Matthew with chores. But there was a mix up in communication, and they mistakenly received an orphan girl. They didn't have the heart to send her back, so Matthew and Marilla became parents to a spunky 11-year-old, red-headed girl.

What I liked most about the book was that it transported me into a much simpler time. It made me long for days when you had to run for the doctor, and the most exciting thing that could happen was having a friend over for tea.

Maybe it was because I read this book for the first time at age 57, but I loved Marilla as much as Anne. I loved the way she instructed Anne and turned her into a young lady. She made me laugh out loud sometimes when she tried to keep a straight face while listening to Anne explain her most recent peril. And at the end of the book, I cried with Marilla as she realized Anne had grown up much too soon.

I give this classic almost 5 stars.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Cabinet for China

The love birds were gifted a china cabinet by Kendall's friend Katie's mom. There was just one problem. It was in Hudson and it had to get to Columbus. It wouldn't fit in the back of a car.

So Peter and Kendall rented a U-Haul van and picked it up. As you can see from the photo, they were successful in getting it there in one piece. I don't know how they lifted it and carried it into the apartment. Kendall's muscles must be very strong.

But I'm so happy they have a place to store all the beautiful dishes they received at the shower. And the apartment dining room is looking better every day.

Friday, August 19, 2016


Don thought it would be a good idea for a date night to go to the Paul McCartney concert at the Q. So that's what we did last night. It was so awesome.

Paul McCartney is 74 years old, so I was not expecting much. Boy was I wrong. That man still has spring in his step, and a lot of it. He's still cute too - at least from across the basketball court. We were at the far end. By the end of the night, what little hearing I had left was gone. But it was worth it.

The Q sold out two nights in a row. That means Paul is still quite popular. He sang for 2 1/2 hours straight. Then he came out and did another half hour encore. Amazing.

The two images of Paul on either side are enlarged projections of him. He is really that white speck in the center of the house.

I wasn't that crazy about his newer songs, but when he did the oldies, it was so wonderful. He did a tribute to John Lennon, a tribute to George Harrison, a song for his wife Linda and a song for his current wife Nancy called "Valentine." I loved that one.

I cried a few times because some of the songs brought back memories of my growing up years. What a nice evening! Thanks honey.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Katherine read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot for her book club a couple of months ago. She told me about it and recommended it to me.

I had seen this book in the library before, but I was never compelled to pick it up and check it out. I wish I had read it sooner. It is one of my favorite books this year.

Until I read this book, I had never heard of HeLa cells. Unless you are in medical research, you may not have heard about them either. HeLa is short for Henrietta Lacks. She was a real person who died of cervical cancer in 1951 at Johns Hopkins hospital in Baltimore. Her cells were taken from her body without her knowledge or permission, and they are still living today.

Henrietta's cells were unusual in that they lived and thrived in petri dishes. Because of this, they have been instrumental to research breakthroughs for polio, cancer, influenza and AIDS.

Rebecca Skloot spent ten years researching Henrietta's life, family and death and then writing a book about what she found. She put a face to HeLa cells and helped Henrietta's family sort out their confusion about what her cells have meant to science.

This book would make great required reading for all high school or college biology classes. But if you are past that, read it for the fascinating story.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Kendall's Shower

We celebrated Kendall and Peter today with a shower of love. Kendall's aunts from Michigan and New York collaborated to put together a very special party.

Kendall's mom got her the big "R" since her last name will be changing. She confided in me later that she was sad Kendall would no longer be a Petno. I told her that Kendall and Katherine would now have the same initials: "KLR" and they both have the same middle name: Leigh.

Peter joined the party when there were a few gifts to go. Mrs. Criswell got him his own special gift - a cookie cookbook.

Kendall and her grandma.

The mamas and their children.

Only 132 days to go!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Hidden Kisses

I volunteered at the Bainbridge Library book sale yesterday, so during slow times, I shopped. One book I found was Cooking from the Heart by Michael J. Rosen. It is a collection of recipes from 100 great American chefs. I bought it for 50 cents.

Just flipping through it yesterday, I spotted a four-ingredient cookie recipe that looked interesting. It was on page 90, and was contributed by Mary Sue Milliken. She is one of the creators of Too Hot Tamales on the Food Network and the "Border Girls" brand at Whole Foods Market.

Mary Sue says that when she travels, she carries a five pound slab of great chocolate in her suitcase. To treat her hosts, she whips up a batch of Hidden Kisses with flour, sugar and butter which she can pick up if her hosts don't have any.

Hidden Kisses are made from a simple shortbread dough wrapped around a chunk of dark chocolate. I made a batch in about 30 minutes. They were very good. Don loved them. I'm wondering if the chocolate will harden overnight inside the cookie. That would be even better!

Riley would have loved one, but he didn't get one.

Hidden Kisses

1/4 cup sugar
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch salt
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
3 ounces fine-quality chocolate (she uses Scharffen Berger 70%) - I used DAGOBA 59%

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the sugar and butter in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the salt and flour and mix until just moistened.

Chop the chocolate into bits the size of hazelnuts.

Divide the dough into 16 pieces. Pat each piece into a disk in the palm of your hand. Place a piece of chocolate in the center of the dough. Wrap the dough around the chocolate.

Place the cookies on an uncoated cookie sheet and bake until the bottoms begin to turn golden, 10-12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack. Makes 16 cookies.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Necklace

In the fall of 2006, Katherine was a senior in high school, and she had the role of Madame Forestier in the fall play The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant. She played a wealthy woman who lends a necklace to Mathilde Loisel. Mathilde loses the necklace and she and her husband go into great debt replacing what they thought were authentic jewels. Years later, at the end of the play, Mathilde finds out that the necklace was costume jewelry and their poverty could have been avoided.

The interesting thing is that Heidi played the role of Madame Forestier's daughter in the play. She was a cute little 7th grader (the one in the blue dress with the pink bow in her hair).

All these years later, Heidi married her mother's brother. I guess that would make him Heidi's uncle. But that was just make believe.

Monday, August 8, 2016

That Awkward Stage

We all go through that awkward stage sometime between 5th and 8th grade. It's when bodies are changing, faces are breaking out, hormones are raging, and you tend to put on a few pounds. I was thinking about that awkward stage because the students Peter will be teaching math to are right there.

All my children went through the awkward stage, and I have pictures to prove it. But I want them to talk to me tomorrow, so I won't share those pictures here. Instead, I'll share one of me in my awkward stage. This is a picture of me in sixth grade. It was my first year as a Highland Park Pee-Wee Football cheerleader. My hairstyle hasn't changed much since 1971.
All the girls in this team photo are in that awkward stage (except for Carolyn). I bet you can find her. She's four years from being awkward, and happy to be the mascot for the awkward girls.

I shudder at the memories this photo brings to mind. Oh how I would never want to re-live those years. I'm saying a prayer for Peter as he meets his awkward students on Wednesday.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Tangled Webs

Don and I spent Friday and Saturday again in Marion, Indiana helping Katherine and Josh get settled in their new house. Don's jobs were to install a basement door, patch holes in the walls, and install a garbage disposal.

Katherine, Josh and I spent most of our time cleaning the basement and unpacking the kitchen.

The first time we visited their new house, we noticed that the basement was pretty damp and musty smelling.  I've researched ways to correct this problem. You could say I went overboard with my ammo. We brought a shop vac, charcoal, kitty litter, baking soda, vinegar, Damp-Rid and Fresh Wave.

 The first thing (besides adding a basement door) was to use a shop vac to suck up all the spiders and cobwebs in the ceiling rafters. This is a nasty job that requires and face mask and ear plugs. Don usually does this job, but he was busy, and I wanted to show him I was brave, so I did it.

I made sure I stood behind the sections I was shop-vac-ing because I had a feeling things might fall down on my head. I was right. Several times, when I hit a big web, the big spider who made the web fell from the ceiling to capture what disturbed his slumber. That would be me. I promptly sucked the spiders up into the shop vac and when on my merry way.

While I eliminated cobwebs, Katherine swept the floor. It's amazing how much dirt and debris can be on an old basement floor. She swept up spiders too, and they kept running out of her dirt piles.

All this spider sweeping made us have spider dreams last night. Every time I closed my eyes, I saw cobwebs and spiders, and Katherine had a nightmare about them that woke her up.

I'm happy to report that the musty smell is pretty much under control now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Boys in the Boat

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown is the story of the University of Washington rowing team that won the gold medal in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It is also the story of one boy's life - Joe Rantz.

Joe grew up in very difficult circumstances in the Pacific Northwest. His mother died when he was very young, and his stepmother did not like him at all. She made him leave the house and fend for himself when he was just 10 years old.

When he was in high school, his older brother, who was married, invited him to live with them. He was spotted by a U of Washington rowing coach when he was on his high school gymnastics team. So when he went to college, he tried out for the team.

Other boys on the team were struggling to survive as well. It was the Great Depression, and food and work were hard to come by.

The boys in the boat worked together and relied on each other as they made their country proud.

I learned a great deal about hard work and the art of rowing. I would give this book five stars. It is one of my favorites this year.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Peter's New Home

It was a long day! We loaded up the U-Haul first thing this morning and drove to Columbus to Peter's new apartment. It is a very nice two-bedroom townhouse. Here are a few photos:

The kitchen is small, but it has a nice breakfast bar that opens up into the dining area. Peter found these three bar stools at a garage sale but they were about four inches too tall for the counter. So Don used his pipe cutter to trim them down to size.

Peter found this small dining table at another garage sale. He didn't want the chairs that went with it. The only chair he has is one he found at yet another garage sale. He and Kendall re-upholstered the seat.

The living room is very spacious, especially since the only furniture is these two couches and my craft lamp that I let Peter borrow.

Our family room is missing the two couches.

There are two bedrooms upstairs. Peter set his bed up in the smaller bedroom because he and Kendall plan on making a queen size bed for the master bedroom.

The master bedroom is where we dumped all of Peter's clothes and extra stuff until he can put them away.

After we helped him get his apartment set up, we went to his classroom at Worthington Christian. He is all ready to start teaching!