Monday, January 30, 2017

The Things We Keep

I've had a treasure chest of stuff on the top shelf of my closet for years. I just took it down to see what was inside. It was a conglomeration from birth through the mid-1990's. Here are a few things I found:

A hand-drawn birthday card from Daniel. It was one of many he drew for me over the years. So cute!

A sheet of postage stamps from the Republic of Chad featuring Jackie Kennedy. I purchased them on a whim in 1998.

A sheet of four uncut dollar bills from our visit to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Washington D. C.  I have three of these. One for each child.

The emblem from my grade school uniform at Immaculate Conception School.

Tickets to Disneyland, The Gong Show, The Newlywed Game and The Tonight Show from my trip to California in 1978.

Leftover business cards from my first job out of college.

A Ziploc bag containing Peter's baby teeth. There aren't very many because he liked to fool the tooth fairy and dispose of his teeth before she realized he lost one.

A letter from my cousin Kathy from the 1960's. She was on vacation with her family in Canada.

An emblem from my cheerleading sweater - "Cards" is short for Cardinals.

A bracelet my grandfather (Jido) brought back from Lebanon for me in the early 1970's.

Booties from when I was a baby.

My mom's watch. She sure had a small wrist.

A note from Katherine tucked underneath a bunch of cotton balls in a hand-made box.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Water is Wide

As part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge, I need to read three books by one author. I decided to read Pat Conroy because he is an author who spent his adult life in the "Low Country" of South Carolina, and he wrote books that took place in the area where we took our last bike trip. He died March 4, 2016, and is buried on St. Helena Island where we biked one day.

The Water is Wide was one of Pat Conroy's first books. It is a memoir of his year as a teacher on Yamacraw (Daufuskie Island) during the 1969 school year. He had been offered a principal position at Beufort High School, but he turned it down to stay in the classroom. He took a position on the island because no one else would do it. 

He did not realize until his first day on the job how bad the situation was. He was teaching a classroom of 5th-8th graders, and 14 out of 17 could not read above a first grade level. Five of the kids did not know the alphabet and five of them could not add one plus one. Conroy (called Conrack by most of his students) resorted to unconventional methods to impart some knowledge in his classroom.

This book is sometimes sad and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. His passion for the children during a time in history when the south was still very desegregated is very touching. He made many sacrifices, such as traveling to the island by boat each morning and going back to Beaufort the same way in the afternoon. He went to battle to give the children experiences outside the island they had never left, and he went to court to try to save his job. In the end, because he bucked the system, he was removed from his position.

This was an excellent book. I highly recommend it. Warning: It is full of very colorful language.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

My Blizzard Birthday

I'll never forget my 19th birthday. On January 26, 1978, a blizzard came to NE Ohio. I was working as a secretary at Firestone Tire & Rubber Co., and I was stupid enough to drive to work. Of course, no one else drove to work that day.

I was living at home, and my mom tried to convince me that I didn't have to go to work, but I insisted that I would get fired if I didn't go.

I haven't seen snow like that in 39 years.

Today, I celebrated my birthday in Florida. It was sunny and 80 degrees. Much better.

Don took me to breakfast at First Watch. I had a wonderful bacon and eggs meal. After that, we went to the pool for three hours and relaxed. Tonight, we went to dinner at a nice restaurant on the water. Then we came home and watched the 1966 movie, To Sir, With Love. It was just as good as I had remembered it to be.

I got texts and emails and phone calls from lots of family and friends.

Peter called me and had his Algebra class sing happy birthday.

It was a wonderful day!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Loving People

This is the kind of person I want to be - having no notion of loving people by halves. When bad things happen, and they all of us...we need people who won't love us by halves.

If a friend's life is falling apart, and I don't know what to do or say, I pray that I won't do nothing.

If I don't have the words to say, I can still do something.

Send a text. Pray. Drop off a gift. Give a ride. Create a playlist. Organize meals. Do yard work. Run errands. Take care of the kids. Donate money. Open my home. Send flowers. Clean. Buy groceries. Arrange a massage. Send a card every week. Do laundry. Offer a hug. Be there.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Miss Those Boys

I'm really glad all my kids are grown up and married, but I still miss those days when they were young and innocent and did things like wear roller blades and helmets and went to the skate park and acted like they were cool.

Daniel being cool with his friends Ryan, Kyle, and Jon. I think 6th or 7th grade.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

10 Things You Probably Don't Know About Me

1) I was homecoming queen my senior year in high school.

2) I only lasted three weeks working my first job: a waitress in a fried chicken restaurant.

3) I used to sweat profusely...all the was so embarrassing!

4) I once had a crush on a Cleveland Indians baseball player. It was 1978. His name was Rick Waits.

5) Snickers bars are my favorite candy. 

6) I've only had one sip of coffee my entire life.

7) I have a thing for notebooks.

8) I sucked my thumb until I was in first grade.

9) Blue cheese makes me gag.

10) I had to take the CPA exam three times before I passed all four parts.

For a previous version of Ten Facts, click here.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

My mom used to make stuffed cabbage rolls when I was a kid, and I loved them. I've never made them because they seemed like such a bother. But when I found this recipe for "unstuffed" cabbage rolls, I said to myself - "now that's a recipe for me!" All the same flavors without having to roll anything up.

This recipe did not call for rice, but next time, I think I will add some of my Trader Joe's brown rice to the mix.

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

1 lb. lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small head of cabbage, chopped
1 (14.5) ounce can diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. salt

In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onion. Cook, stirring, until ground beef is no longer pink and onion is tender. Add garlic and continue to cook 1 minute.

Add chopped cabbage, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until cabbage is tender.

Serves 6-8

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The War That Saved My Life

The second book I read for the 2017 reading challenge was The War that Saved my Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

This book won a Newbery Honor award in 2016. You can find all the Newbery Award and Honor books at the ALA website.

Newbery awards are given to the most distinguished American children's book published in the previous year. The award has been given out since 1922.

I've read quite a few Newbery Award and Honor books since I was a school librarian. I really enjoyed this one.

The story takes place during World War II. Ada and Jamie live with their cruel mother in a one-room flat in London. Ada is ten years old, and she has never been outside. Her mother is ashamed of her because she has a club foot. Ada has never even walked, but she is beginning to realize that she could have a life outside her window. One day, a notice came home from school with Jamie that all children should be sent to the countryside to be protected from bombs that would likely hit London.

Ada's mom says that Jamie can go, but not Ada. In the middle of the night, Ada woke Jamie and left the flat for the first time. They got on a train to Kent and were placed with a woman named Susan. There, Ada slowly came to life as she was free to explore the outside world. Susan, who was at first reluctant to take children in, became the mother Ada and Jamie needed.

This was a touching and informative book of the World War II era in London. It is recommended for grades 4-6, but I would lean toward the higher side because of the mother's insensitive cruelty.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Wedding Rehearsal

I know it's kind of strange to be doing a post on the rehearsal after the wedding is over, but I just got the photos from Liz. I had a hard time narrowing them down to a few, so there are more than a few.

The bridal party waiting for instructions.

I love this one of all four of Kendall's grandparents.

Kendall and her dad. They look so much alike!

I like this one because my head is between their arms in kind of a heart shape.

We're just pretending here. But here's Mr. & Mrs. Peter Richards.

After the rehearsal, we all went to Blue Canyon for dinner.

The tables were beautiful!

We got to listen to the story of how Peter and Kendall met. It was told by Daniel and Rachel Criswell.

 Mostly Rachel.

And we got to hear from some of Peter and Kendall's friends. All of the stories were very nice.

And the evening ended with the song, "Get Me to the Church on Time" sung by one of Kendall's high school theater friends. Her dad arranged this to embarrass her. I think it worked.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Crockpot Turkey Chili

My food photography still hasn't improved, but this is a photo of the turkey chili I made for dinner tonight.

It is a healthier version of regular chili because there is less fat in turkey than in beef. It couldn't be easier to make. You just brown the turkey and then dump everything in the crockpot and let it simmer for four hours on low. It tastes great and has lots of fiber from the beans!

Crockpot Turkey Chili

1 lb. ground turkey
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can whole kernel corn
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
8 ounce can black beans
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 T. tomato paste
1 pkg. Lawry's Chili Seasoning
Cheddar cheese for topping (optional)

Brown turkey and drain off fat. Place all ingredients (except cheese) in slow cooker. Cook for 4 hours on low or 2 hours on high. Top with cheese if desired.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Sometimes Riley just likes to go outside and eat the snow.

To Sir, With Love

The first book I read for he 2017 Reading Challenge was To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite. This book fits into the category - "A book written before you were born." I cheated a little because it was actually published the year I was born: 1959.

The reason I wanted to read this book is because I remember loving the movie, starring Sidney Poitier, when I was a teen. The movie came out in 1967, and the title song, sung by LuLu, became a Billboard No. 1 hit.

This book is a true account of E. R. Braithwaite's experience as a black teacher in an all white school on London's east side after World War II. Even though he was Oxford educated and a Royal Air Force pilot in the war, because he was black, he could not find a job.

He resorted to teaching because an opportunity presented itself in a school full of undisciplined kids. After trying several other methods to reach the students, he began treating them like the adults that they were, including a requirement to call him "Sir." Eventually, he gained their respect and opened up many opportunities for learning in their lives.

I now want to see the movie again, and I have requested it from the library. E. R. Braithwaite died in 2016 at the age of 104. I highly recommend reading the book and then seeing the movie.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Stuff I Like

It's time for another edition of "Stuff I Like" since I haven't done one for a long time. Here are some things around the house that I have come to love. Some more recently than others.

Crate and Barrel dish towels! These are the Red Terry Textured and Blue Terry Textured dish towels. I discovered them on Christmas day at Daniel & Heidi's house when we were doing the dishes after brunch. Where have these towels been all my life? They are extra big and extra absorbent. No other dish towel compares.

Bath & Body Works Limoncello hand soap. Katherine introduced this to me when we were on our little shopping trip in Columbus a few months ago. I bought one for myself and another one for Peter. This soap smells so refreshing. It worries me that I could not find this soap on the Bath & Body Works website. However, it was available on Amazon. Could they be discontinuing it? Hope not!

Washi Tape. This tape can be found wherever scrapbooking supplies are sold. I use it to decorate notebook pages and other things. It helps cheer up a plain white envelope.  Washi tape is very lightweight and comes in so many designs and colors.

Dark chocolate covered prunes. I've been eating prunes lately. Carolyn got me on this kick when we were in Florida last year. Regular prunes are alright, but why not add some chocolate once in awhile? These are great!

Culturelle probiotic. My doctor recommended this to me when my digestive system was acting up this summer. I've been taking it ever since. I don't know how much it helps, but with this and some changes in my diet, I have been much, much better!

Milk Glass. Every once in awhile I will stop in my favorite antique shop or resale shop nearby and look to see if any interesting milk glass has shown up. I have collected a few pieces in the past couple of years just because I like the looks of it.

You can see a few more pieces in my cupboard mixed in with other ordinary dishes.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Reading Challenge

It's been three days since my last post, so I thought I'd better get one out here before I get a text from Pam. She always kicks me in the rear end if I miss a few days! She's my blog accountability partner.

Before Christmas, Katherine asked me if I wanted to do the Modern Mrs. Darcy 2017 Reading Challenge with her. Of course I said YES!

There are two different options for the challenge. One is called "Reading for Fun" and the other is called "Reading for Growth." We both chose the latter one. I guess we aren't much fun!

I went through the categories and wrote down a probable book for each one. I can always change my mind later. Here is what I will likely read:

A Newbery Award or Honor book: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

A book that's more than 600 pages: Nicholas and Alexandra: The Classic Account of the Fall of the Romanov Dynasty by Robert Massie

A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection: Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays by Joan Didion

A book of any genre that addresses current events: The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander and Cornel West

An immigrant story: The Mango Bride by Marivi Soliven

A book published before you were born: To Sir, With Love by E. R. Braithwaite

Three books by the same author: The Water is Wide, South of Broad, and  A Lowcountry Heart by Pat Conroy

A book by an #ownvoices or #diversebooks author: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

A book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending: The Man Who Was Thursday by G. K. Chesterton

A Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

A book nominated for an award in 2017: (Yet to be determined)