Friday, November 17, 2017

Same Old Hair

Someone (I think it was one of my kids) commented recently that I haven't changed my hairstyle in years. I've had the same old haircut since just after Katherine was born. The only difference is that now it is lighter. My natural color is jet black. Underneath is the gray I'm hiding.
I'm wondering if it's time for a change. Longer? Shorter? Let it go gray?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Stuff I Like

Hershey's kisses decorated like Santa hats! So adorable!

Rubbermaid Fresh Works storage containers. These things really work! They are great for storing lettuce and fresh cut up fruit.  Highly recommend!

Mini Larabars! When you just want something small to get you to your next meal.

This butter is pure gold! Once you slather this butter on your toast, you will never be able to eat Land O'Lakes again.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Inventory of Being 18

When I was a senior year of high school, I took a class called Creative Writing. I was so excited about this class. It was taught by my cheerleading coach, Mrs. Wangler, and writing was something I loved to do. Back then, I wrote a million poems and notes and letters. And I gave them to all my friends.

While looking through The Nothing Book I saved from my high school days, I found a Creative Writing assignment called, "Inventory of Being." It is a description of myself in free verse. I'm going out on a limb here to share it. Who doesn't cringe when they read something they wrote at age18? But here goes:

Inventory of Being

I'm Marianne
I've always wanted a middle name.

I'm 18 and legal.
Sometimes that worries me.
I miss being a little girl - carefree.

My hair is not quite black.
My eyes are small and brown.
I wish they were big and green.
I'll cut my hair someday...soon.

I used to like butterflies.
Now my younger sister does.

I love dogs and used to hate cats,
until we got one of our own.
I still like dogs better. They listen.

I had three goldfish.
Two died, and I cried.
Curly is left.

I don't argue or disagree out loud unless I get really mad.
I am a very patient person.

I cry too much though.
I'm very emotional.
I hate for anyone to see me cry.

I love to run and hike and go on picnics.
I hate anything that crawls, especially spiders and ants.

I am shy in a way, but you'd never know it.

I always remember birthdays.

Once, I thought about being a nun.
I believe in God and always have.
Someday I'll see him.

I'm not afraid of death as much as I am of living.
I've never been to a funeral.

I don't like to go places by myself or watch TV.
I like to be alone to think.

I treasure my friends, and I owe them a lot...especially one.

I don't want to graduate, but it has to happen sooner or later.
I'll have my memories.

I love to cheer and have for seven years.
I'll miss it terribly.

My favorite color is green.
It used to be blue, but everyone's favorite color is blue.
I like to be different.

I am a silly bird when I want to be and sincere when I have to be.

I love ballet and diving, but I can't do either.
I don't have the grace.

I like to talk, but not to everyone.
Only those who listen.

I am easily influenced.
I guess I shouldn't be.
But I like to stay neutral.

I bruise easily, both physically and emotionally.
But bruises go away...eventually.

I know I am young, 
But it seems like I am old.

Life is rough,
But I love a challenge.

MD - 1977

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Salted Caramel Oatmeal Cookies

Aside from the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies I have been making for years, this has to be the next best fall cookie ever. Don did not want to stop eating them.

I heard about the recipe on the SortaAwesome podcast a few weeks ago, and I couldn't wait to make them. I knew Don would love them - and he did!

Salted Caramel Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 pkg. (11 oz.) Kraft Caramel Bits
kosher salt for sprinkling (I used coarse sea salt)
parchment paper

Preheat oven to 375 and line baking sheets with parchment paper (do not skip this step or the cookies will stick to the pan).

Cream butter with sugars with a mixer. Add eggs and vanilla.

Mix flour, salt, baking soda and oatmeal in another bowl and whisk to combine.

Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until combined.

Add caramel bits (I bought mine at Target).

Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto sheets of parchment paper. (I rounded the balls out so they would spread evenly).

Bake about 8-10 minutes. Remove cookies when the edges start to turn golden brown and the middle just begins to set. They will continue cooking after you take them out.

Immediately sprinkle a little bit of salt on top of cookies. Allow to cool on tray before removing from parchment paper.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Curious Incident

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon was the book I chose for the "Unreliable Narrator" category in the MMD book challenge.

An unreliable narrator is one whose credibility has been seriously compromised. In this case, the narrator is Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy, who knows all the countries in the world and their capitals as well as the prime numbers up to 7,057. He is unreliable because he has no understanding of human emotions.

When Christopher discovers his neighbor's dog, Wellington, stabbed with a garden fork and dead on the lawn, he is determined to find out who did it. Not so much because he is sad or angry about it, but he is curious.

His teacher at school encourages him to write a book during his investigation, and that is what he does. While Christopher is solving this mystery, he also has to deal with some serious issues in his home life.

Other than Christopher's father's frequent use of the F-word, I loved this book. Although I'm sure it is not the same for all autistic children, it gave me a bit of a perspective on that world.

This book was turned into a Broadway show in 2016.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Katherine & Josh threw a murder mystery party on Saturday, and everyone who came really played their part.

Katherine loves to throw a good party. She spent many weeks planning the food, the decorations, the activities.

So cute!

There was also a photo booth.

During the evening, each guest (even the one whodunnit) had to try to figure out who the murderer was by asking the others questions and writing down clues.

In the end, the killer was revealed, and it wasn't any of these three - even though one of them looks like he might have done it.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Lumberjack Halloween

Riley's all ready for Trick-or-Treat.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Texas Road Trip - Day 5

You can't go to San Antonio without visiting The Alamo, so that's what we did first thing this morning. The Alamo was originally built by Catholic Spanish settlers around 1718 and housed missionaries and their Native American converts. Later on, it was used for military purposes and is the site of the 1836 Battle of the Alamo during Texas' war for independence from Mexico.

Getting to The Alamo was really easy because we are staying at the Historic Menger Hotel which is across the street from The Alamo. This hotel is over 150 years old. Theodore Roosevelt once gathered his Rough Riders in the Menger Bar. Nancy and Jim stayed here last year and recommended it to us.

These colorful Casa Rio umbrellas on the Riverwalk are one of the most photographed scenes in San Antonio.

This afternoon we walked around El Mercado marketplace and had lunch at La Margarita.

The last bit of sight-seeing on our list was to see the San Fernando Cathedral, built in 1738. The remains of Alamo hero Davy Crockett are said to be buried here.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Texas Road Trip - Day 4

We started today with a visit to the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin. Lyndon Baines Johnson took office on November 22, 1963, two hours after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. He remained president through January 20, 1969. His presidency included turbulent times such as the peak of the Civil Rights Movement and involvement in the Vietnam War.

He had a very strong personality and often got in the face of those who weren't doing their job.

We left Austin around 11:00 and made two stops on our way to San Antonio. The first was at the famous Salt Lick BBQ in Driftwood, TX. Salt Lick is celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year.

We had a larger lunch than we normally do, but it was so delicious!

The other stop we made was in the historic town of Gruene. Kendall told us about this place. It is located near New Braunfels where her grandparents winter each year.

We spent some time checking out the Gruene antique shop.

And the oldest dance hall in Texas - the white building above.

We were pretty worn out by evening, so we just had a light dinner on the Riverwalk in San Antonio.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Texas Road Trip - Day 3

We began the day touring the Bullock Texas History Museum. The whole museum was really interesting, but the most fascinating part for me was the exhibit of the La Belle ship. This French ship sank in the Matagorda Bay in 1686. It was found 300 years later and was excavated beginning in 1995. Thousands of artifacts were completely preserved below the ship's deck because of a covering of mud in the waters.

Next, we drove over the Hope Outdoor Gallery where large-scale murals are painted.

It was quite fascinating.

There was an artist beginning a new painting while we were there.

We made it to the Sprinkles bakery. But to our disappointment, the Cupcake ATM was out of order!

We were able to purchase a "Boo Box" of cupcakes for Holly's family inside the bakery.

In the afternoon, we walked up and down South Congress Ave. and visited a few shops. We passed an old-time barbershop.

The highlight of our day was our visit with our niece, Holly and her family. Their house was all decked out for Halloween.

Holly made a great dinner, and we spent time catching up with her and Jason.

And we really enjoyed spending time with Carly, Ryan and Will too!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Texas Road Trip - Day 2

If you want to visit Magnolia, do it on a Tuesday in October at 9:00 a.m. No lines. No waiting.

No kidding!

Inside, there were so many pretty little things to look at!

This is the downstairs section.

Don: "Who's Chip?"
Me: You didn't just say that, did you?

Don was such a trooper. He even carried the shopping bag and helped me pick out some gifts.

Since he was so cooperative during the shopping portion of our visit, I let him go to the bakery. There was a line for that.

Our bakery order.
Don't worry, we didn't eat it all at once.


Enjoying our treats in the courtyard.

Around 11:00, it was time to bid farewell to Waco and head to Austin where they like to keep it weird.
We went directly to lunch because it had been a couple of hours since we had eaten our baked goods. We ate at a restaurant near Lady Bird Lake called Shady Grove. Don had a Fried Green Tomato BLT and I had a bowl of chili/salad combo.

After lunch, we thought we should walk off some calories so we hiked around Lady Bird Lake - not all the way around - but far enough to burn off the Silos Bakery stuff.
Downtown Austin is in the distance.
We checked into our hotel on Congress Ave. Then, after taking a short break, we walked up the street to the Texas state capitol. It was a beautiful building inside and out.

We took a short walk on 6th Street because a woman who was picking up trash on the street told us we had to visit the VooDoo Doughnut shop.

We didn't buy any doughnuts, but it was fun to see their strange concoctions.

At 6:30, we walked the other direction on Congress Ave. to the South Congress Bridge to watch the bats come out. This is a real thing here in Austin. Every evening between March and November, up to 1.5 million Mexico free-tailed bats fly out from under the bridge. We stood there and waited until 7:30. Then the bats started flying. Instead of flying up in the air like I thought they would, they flew in a circle below the bridge. I was hoping to get a photo of them, but they didn't fly high enough and it was too dark. I was surprised how quiet they were. There was no noise from the flap of their wings or anything. Very interesting to see.