Monday, October 31, 2016

Sullivan's Island and Isle of Palms

Today we left downtown Charleston to visit Sullivan's Island and the Isle of Palms. First, we had to cross the Ravenel Bridge over the Cooper River to Mt. Pleasant, SC. This bridge spans 13,200 feet. Fortunately, it did not have a steep grade.

We reached the Atlantic Ocean by lunch time. Some of our group opted to go for a short swim. We heard later that it was tough getting back into their bike shorts.

We had a group lunch at Coconut Joe's right by the beach.

We stopped at Fort Moultrie after lunch. This fortress played a key role in both the Revolutionary and Civil wars.

On the way back, we passed a restaurant called Poe's Tavern. We had to make a U-Turn to get a photo of Greg and Merry by the sign.

We made another climb over the bridge on the way back. It was a little steeper heading that direction! It was a beautiful South Carolina day for 30 miles of biking.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

South of Broad

South of Broad by Pat Conroy has been on my To Read list for a long time. I really meant to read it before this trip to Charleston, but I didn't get around to it. Now that I've been here, this book will move to the top of my list.

This is a shot down Broad Street. We crossed it so we would be "south of Broad" and then we had fun looking at all the old beautiful houses.

I liked this one because of the bike parked in the side yard.

This house was for sale, and the sign read: 38 Church Street, constructed in 1812, Grand Charleston Home, unusually spacious triple lot.

One of Don's favorites. Kind of looks like the house we just renovated.

Waterfront Park across from the Battery. Fort Sumter (can't see it in this photo) is out to the right at the entrance of the harbor.

These two have been hanging out on the balcony a little too long.

We stopped at a Starbucks to get a drink and rest a bit. I was wearing my Cleveland Indians shirt, and I didn't realize it until I sat down that the barista wrote "Go Tribe" on my cup.

We met with our VBT guides at 2:30, got fitted for our bikes, and went for a nice, easy warm-up ride through Charleston covering much of the same ground that we walked the past two days.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Don and I arrived in Charleston around noon today. We had this afternoon and will have tomorrow morning to explore the city before our bike trip begins.

We were excited to see our room at the Ansonborough Inn. We get to stay here three whole nights! I'm actually going to unpack a little.

After grabbing a quick lunch, we walked around in the City Market. Then we decided to take an hour-long carriage ride to learn a little more about Charleston.

The horse behind us pulled our carriage. His name was Bob, and he was a retired Amish farm horse from Lancaster, PA.

My favorite part of the carriage tour was when we went through South of Broad and saw all the beautiful old houses. Tomorrow morning, we are going to walk back down there and get a closer look.

There are many, many churches in Charleston. One of the things we found out on our carriage ride was that a graveyard is always in a church yard. A cemetery is not. Just a little fun fact.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Candy Corn Crispies

I was looking on Pinterest to find a fall dessert for tonight (we are going to Daniel & Heidi's house for dinner) when I came upon a Pin from my niece Elizabeth. 

The recipe was for Candy Corn Rice Crispy Treats. It was so cute. I modified it a little bit. The original recipe added an orange gel coloring and used a rectangle pan. She then cut the candy corns into triangles. I decided it would be much easier if I used my handy-dandy scone pan.

Candy Corn Crispies

6 cups Rice Krispies cereal
6 cups mini marshmallows
5 T. butter
Orange gel coloring (optional)
Dark chocolate melting candy
White chocolate melting candy

In a large pot, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add marshmallows and stir constantly until the marshmallows have melted. Stir in orange coloring, if desired. Remove pot from heat.

Mix in cereal, being sure to stir until well coated. Press the treats into a buttered scone pan to set.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate according to package directions in two separate bowls.

Once treats are set, pop them out. Dip the tip of the triangle into white chocolate and the base of the triangle into dark chocolate. Place on wax-paper lined cookie sheet to set.

Store in an airtight container up to three days.

Makes 8

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What a Game!

Don bought three tickets to the first game of the World Series, and he went with Daniel and Peter. It was such an exciting game to attend because we beat the Chicago Cubs 6-0! (Sorry Josh).

The Indians are off to a great start!

Monday, October 24, 2016

So Long Karen

We have been a five-some for about 16 years. And now Karen is moving back to the Jersey Shore where she grew up. Tonight, we went out to dinner in Hudson for a going-away send off.

So we had to take another photo in the same positions. We haven't aged too much since 2008...well maybe a little.

Can't wait until we make a road trip to the shore to visit our sweet friend Karen. Love you guys!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Upstairs Apartment

We finally finished the upstairs apartment at the house we've been working on since April! It's all ready for our renter to move in. Here are the before and after photos.

The kitchen (before) was actually a bedroom.

The kitchen (after) from one angle.

And another angle.

The bathroom (before).

The bathroom (after). You can't see the nice tub on the right.

Living room (before).

Living room (after)

Small bedroom (before).

Small bedroom (after).

Large bedroom (before).

Large bedroom (after).

Upstairs Foyer (after). No before shot available.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Souped Up Soup

Want to make a canned soup even healthier? Add some spinach or kale. This is a recipe I adapted from Clean and Delicious.

Souped Up Soup

1 t. extra virgin olive oil
2 T. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup spinach (or kale)
1 can of Amy's Lentil Vegetable Soup

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a small saucepan. Add onion and garlic and cook for about 3 minutes. Lower heat if you need to so the garlic does not burn. Add spinach or kale and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add soup to the pot and stir. Cook until heated through. Enjoy!

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Week with Jake

Jake spent a week with Riley. They had a lot of fun. I think they wish they could do this all the time. But, alas, Jake had to go home today. Don't worry, Riley, because in less than two weeks, you get to spend a week at Jake's house!

I think Riley taught Jake how to mooch.

Easy Potato Leek Soup

Leeks have been one of the scary ingredients I have avoided all my life. Every recipe I've encountered that called for leeks made a big deal about how dirty and gritty and hard to clean they are. Well, I finally got up the courage to try them in this soup, and you know what? They aren't that big of a deal. Leeks are just over-sized scallions. They are kind of dirty. But I just rinsed them three times in the bowl of my salad spinner and they were fine. I was surprised how they made my eyes tear up, though. I should have worn my onion goggles.

This soup was so easy and it is really tasty. I adapted it from Cook's Illustrated "The Best 30-Minute Recipe" cookbook. Yum!

Easy Potato Leek Soup

2  32-ounce containers of low-sodium chicken broth
5  medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 t. dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
4 T. unsalted butter
6 medium leeks
2 garlic cloves, minced

Prepare the leeks first by cutting off the roots and the dark green leaves. Slice the trimmed leeks in half lengthwise, then cut them into 1/2 inch pieces. Rinse the leeks thoroughly to remove dirt and sand.

Bring broth, potato cubes, thyme and 1/2 t. salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook, covered, while you saute the leeks.

In a large dutch oven, over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add garlic and leeks. Cook covered until leeks are wilted and soft, about 10 minutes.

Add broth mixture to leek mixture and simmer until potatoes are tender - about 5 minutes.

Remove bay leaves and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 6

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I Love My Family

I just love it when we can all be in one place at the same time!! Last night our whole family got to go out to dinner for Katherine's 28th birthday. We celebrated at M Italian in Chagrin Falls. It was so much fun. Love you guys so much!


This is a dish my Sito used to make all the time. Labneh is a middle eastern strained yogurt cheese. It's pretty much taking Greek yogurt to the next level. Straining the yogurt takes most of the whey out of it and what is left has the consistency of cream cheese. I made a sweet version by drizzling honey and sprinkling cinnamon on top.


2 cups plain, full-fat Greek yogurt

Place two layers of cheesecloth in a fine-mesh sieve over a large measuring cup or bowl. Add yogurt and loosely wrap the cheesecloth around it and tie it with a string.

Refrigerate for 24-48 hours depending on how firm you want the cheese to be. I measured 1/3 cup of whey after straining it for 24 hours.

Shape the cheese into a ball while it is still in the cheesecloth. Remove it from the cheesecloth to serve.  Sprinkle with herbs for a savory cheese or drizzle with honey and cinnamon like I did for a sweeter cheese. Keep refrigerated.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Buckeye Bark

Instead of making Buckeye balls, I made a slab of Buckeye candy which breaks up into small chunks to serve a very large crowd. If you don't have a big crowd, cut the recipe in half! I think I made mine a little too thick.

Buckeye Bark

2.5 pounds of chocolate candy coating (I used Ghiradelli Dark Melting Wafers)
2 1/4 cups creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, melted
1 t. vanilla

Melt half of the chocolate according to package directions. Spread over parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Spread to a large rectangle but not too thin, maybe 1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness. Place in freezer until set.

In a large bowl, whip together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter and vanilla. Spread over first chocolate layer.

While this sits in the freezer, melt the remaining chocolate and spread over peanut butter layer. Freeze until set. Break up into small pieces using a butcher knife. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until ready to serve.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Baseball Playoffs

There is a subtle difference in the "C's" on these two hats. Katherine's "C" stands for Cleveland Indians, and Josh's "C" stands for Chicago Cubs. Both teams play tonight at 8:00, but not against each other. But there is a chance these two teams will meet in the World Series. If so, watch out!

Avocado Egg Salad

This was my dinner tonight. I had it on rice crackers. And I have to say, it was pretty good. I had to leave out the dry mustard because my container had been purchased in 2011 and it expired in 2013. I'm not one of those people (like someone I know who lives with me) who eats way-expired food.

Avocado Egg Salad

4 hard-cooked eggs
1 large avocado, cubed
2 T. mayonnaise
1 t. dry mustard
pinch of salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mash them together with a fork. Adjust salt/pepper/mayo to your taste. Make a sandwich or wrap. Or dip crackers.