Sunday, December 6, 2015

A little Thanksgiving sharing

That is my idea of a perfect plate of Thanksgiving food. Stuffing, turkey, turnip, olives, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, and squash. Cover it all with gravy. Eat.

Lip smacking delicious.

~~~~~~~~~~

There's a plate of pumpkin bread in the background. The Man's momma always made this for holidays and I am more than delighted to carry on the tradition.

Moist and packed with pumpkin flavor. I could eat a whole loaf in one sitting if I sat there with it all sliced up like that. Everyone knows that pre-sliced quick bread has half the calories as a loaf that's uncut.

K and I were baking Thanksgiving eve, preparing for the big meal the following day. I made a double batch of pumpkin bread this year so I would have extra loaves for the freezer. It's always nice to have extras in the freezer, don't you think? I glanced out the kitchen window and saw that my neighbors were home so I quickly wrapped up a loaf of warm bread and ran it over to them. It's nice to share, too.

Nothing says Thanksgiving to me like Nana's stuffing and Mom's pumpkin bread.

~~~~~~~~~~

As I'm writing this post, I'm baking my breakfast for tomorrow - Heavenly Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal. J gave me a cookbook last Christmas from the food blogger over at Oh She Glows. I have loved every single recipe that I've made out of that cookbook. Super healthy and full of flavor, the recipes make me want to cook again.

The house is filled with the most delicious smells right now and I can't wait for breakfast. I'll let you know how it tasted.




Friday, December 4, 2015

Mum Imposters

The last remnants of autumn.

Most things are turning blech-y brown, getting ready for the winter that's coming. We have a few spots of yellow in the yard, brightening things up.

And Christmas lights. Those help brighten things up too.
This flower is growing on a vine, weaving itself up into a lilac tree. I was looking out the upstairs bathroom window one morning and could see specks of yellow in the lilac. I had no idea what they were until I went out to investigate. I took my camera in case it turned out to be something extraordinary. It looks like some kind of mum to me but I didn't know they grow on vines. 

Any ideas what kind of flowers these are?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Peanut Butter Cookies, or the best thing you've ever eaten

When I was in high school, my mom worked in the cafeteria. It was great. If my sister or I needed money during the day, Mom was right there. We never had to worry about lunch money - she paid for our lunches when we went through the line. 

She sometimes got to bring home leftover hamburgers. And buttered bagels. Those were so delicious. The bagels were buttered and then put into foil bags and placed under heating elements. The butter would melt into the bagel and the edges would get hard and crunchy. 

So buttery. So delicious. So not good for you.

~~~~~~~~~~

The other thing Mom came home with was the recipe for peanut butter cookies.

Oh. The peanut butter cookies. We used to buy lunches based on these cookies. They came in wax bags - two cookies in each bag. We ate them as slowly as we could to make them last longer. 

So soft. So crumbly. They literally melted in your mouth. 

I try to make these cookies whenever I get together with high school friends. The smiles on  their faces when they take that first bite. The soft "hmmmmms" as they hum while they eat. These cookies are the best. 

Thirty-five years later and they are just as good as when we were seventeen.

~~~~~~~~~~

Peanut Butter Cookies (makes about two cookie tins full)

4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup shortening
3 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla 
1/3 cup boiling hot water

Preheat oven to 350. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together the shortening and sugar. Add the peanut butter and cream together. Add the vanilla and cream together.

Add the flour to the creamed mixture a little at a time, alternating flour and some boiling hot water. I try to do it in three steps - flour, water, flour, water, flour, water. When completely mixed together, roll into 1 inch balls and place 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Press with back of fork. Bake at 350 for 10-14 minutes.



Monday, October 26, 2015

Fancy Tacos

A few more fall scenes before all the leaves are gone. I've been watching them flutter to the ground for the past week, slowly and steadily.

We haven't had any windy, gusty rainy days so the leaves are hanging on. 

~~~~~~~~~~

That might be a good metaphor for life. When the storm is swirling around you, let go. Don't try to hang on to something that has to change.

Easier said than done, I think.
Because COLOR.

Just glorious.
Spent Sunday afternoon with Sissy and the girls. They came over to watch football with us. And eat food.

Lots and lots of food.

~~~~~~~~~~

I had a brainstorm trying to find something to have for dinner. Sunday nights are pretty casual at our house, as in peanut-butter-sandwich casual. Since we were having guests I wanted something a step up from peanut butter but it had to fit into the I-hate-to-cook life I've got going. 

I came up with tacos. But not your average, everyday run-of-the-mill tacos.

Nope. I call these fancy tacos.

I bought the super big burrito shells in the dairy case for the wrap part. I made taco filling with ground turkey and an envelope of taco seasoning. I had several other fillings to choose from: shredded cheddar cheese, queso blanco, chopped tomatoes, chopped green chilies, sour cream, and salsa. 

Everyone filled their burrito shell and I did some fancy wrapping to contain it all. We put them into the panini maker and pressed them for four minutes.

Wow. They were tasty. Everyone agreed that these would be made again, maybe adding guacamole or refried beans to the filling. 

Try them and let me know what you think.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Pumpkins and Gourds and Squashes, Oh My!

A few more shots from our corn maze adventure. Plump, round, orange pumpkin looked like it was being shunned by the curvy green gourds behind it.
I don't remember all these different colored things when I was a kid. 

Pumpkins were orange. And we only got one the night before Halloween to carve out and put a candle in to light it.

We didn't decorate with all these fancy-schmancy pumpkins and gourds and squashes. 

Does anyone eat these things? Or are they only for decorating?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Double Weekends

Ever have one of those weekends when you need a weekend after the weekend just to get some rest?

That's how this one was. The Man and I took my dad to see Tom Hanks in "Bridge of Spies" on Friday night. Excellent movie. Engrossing. Highly recommend.

K and I got up at o'dark thirty on Saturday morning to head to Beantown with both of my sissies and all the nieces/cousins. Long, fun day filled with some delicious Italian food, pastries, and lots of coffee. And shopping. Of course there was shopping involved.

Sunday morning was spent in church. Came home and took a {very} short nap and then sissy and her family came over, as well as my dad, Nana, and Uncle T. The last three are heading south in a few days so it was time to say goodbye for the long, cold winter. We had dinner together, talked a bit, laughed a bit. Nana tried to help E learn pig latin. E is obsessed with learning this secret language and spent most of Saturday quizzing me when she got a chance.

Does anyone outside my family speak pig latin?

J, K, and I ended the weekend watching Sunday Night Football. It was a long game. A very long game. Highly enjoyable. Great win for the Patriots.

You know what? I'm tired just typing all this activity. Seriously, I need another weekend.
A few scenes from a local farm.

Sissy and I took the girls to walk in a corn maze last week. It was a little bit scary. I don't like big tall things hovering over me. Especially corn.

Remember the movie Signs? Stay out of the corn.

The girls got us out safe and sound and Sissy and I sat at a picnic table while they went back in. I was very happy to be sitting outside in the warm sun, looking at all the beautiful color, and NOT surrounded by corn.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Memory Lane

I was talking with a friend tonight, remembering a story from a very long time ago.

When the Man and I were newly married he was working for a small family owned company. We all knew each other since it was a local company and employees' spouses would stop in to show off new babies and say hello to the owners. Christmas parties were cozy affairs at one of the owners homes, with big pots of soup on the stove, lots and lots of hot appetizers, a wide assortment of libations, and many delicious desserts. Sleigh rides through the woods with cups of hot chocolate for everyone, all of us bundled up and tucked under blankets to keep warm. Good times and good memories.

So we all knew each other since we socialized together throughout the year. The guys got along fairly well and they would take turns asking their wives to bake something to bring in to the office to share. 

One day, it was my turn to bake something. I had just gotten a recipe for blonde brownies from a coworker. I had made them several times to rave reviews and when the Man asked me to bake something for him to bring in to work, I chose this recipe. I made them one evening after work and sent them off with the Man the next day.

When he got home from work, he came in with the platter. Full of brownies.

"What's wrong with the brownies? Didn't anyone like them?" I asked.

"Oh, the first guy liked them just fine," said the Man. "Until he bit into a rubber band."

~~~~~~~~~~


Oy vey. I still don't know how that rubber band got into the batter in the first place. But I never had to bake for them again.
Some more photos from the walk the Man and I took this weekend.

I love walking. Clears the head.
K and I are in the middle of watching The Blacklist. Not usually a fan of James Spader but he is spectacular in this series.

~~~~~~~~~~

K and I like to binge watch television series. The Man hates binge watching. He doesn't understand how we can watch the same series from start to finish. We don't stop until we're up to date if it's series that is still running or have seen the whole series if it is over. He gets tired of a series very quickly, like after one episode. He's a throwback to the weekly series. He only wants to watch something once a week.

Unless it's one of his favorite movies. That? He could watch every night.
It's not really about binge watching. At least not for me.

I enjoy watching the shows we choose. But I enjoy the time I spend with her even more. We usually watch a couple episodes each night after the Man has gone to bed. We try to puzzle out some of the shows we watch and remind each other of forgotten details. We share laughs over funny scenes and sometimes get a little emotional over the heart-tugging ones.

A few nights ago we were watching something and I asked her a question about an episode. This tends to irritate her. But she's much more clever than I am and figures things out quickly so I ask her a lot of questions.

She looked at me and stuck her tongue out at me. Perfectly timed and message received. I giggled. Then a few tears welled up in me and I continued to look at her, even as she went back to watching the show. 

"K, do me a favor? On the day you get married, at some point during the day, look at me and stick your tongue out," I said, trying not let her see that I was tearing up.

She looked at me quizzically and said, "What? Why?" 

"Because then I'll know you remember this moment. Just the two of us sharing this moment," I said.

I'm sure I'll tear up on that day. Many times. But I'm looking forward to that moment and this memory.

Monday, October 12, 2015

On Solid Ground

The Man and I took a walk today just to see some of the pretty color out there right now and to enjoy another spectacular day.

I took my camera with me so that means we didn't walk very fast. On walks like this I usually stop every few minutes or so to take some pics. The Man keeps walking and eventually stops and waits for me. He is so very patient. He likes to walk super fast and take very long strides. I feel like I have to trot to keep up with him. For him to stop and wait for me? That's love.

~~~~~~~~~~

I've been thinking a lot about love lately. And how it changes over the years. I was talking with someone about this very subject and we were discussing how love feels when you first meet someone and how it feels after you've been married for a long time. 

When I first met the Man, my knees would actually get weak the closer I came to seeing him. I couldn't wait for that moment. I thought about him all the time and had a hard time getting anything done. I found myself daydreaming about him and smiling while remembering something he had said. I loved so many things about him. His kind heart. His great big smile. His sense of responsibility. His humor. He was bigger than life for me and set higher than any other man.

I don't know when that feeling changed into something else. Something more. When I felt so entwined with the Man that I didn't feel whole without him. He is as crucial to me as my arm, or my side, or my heart. The giddy feelings of youth were no longer there but something else was and it was good.

After thinking about that, I think I figured out what mature love is, at least for me. 

When I was first in love with the Man, there were so many things I loved about him. But after so many years of being together, I now feel that love in spite of so many things. 

I love him in spite of the way he always leaves the toilet seat up. I love him in spite of the way he knows how to push my buttons and does so at times. I love him in spite of the micromanaging (his need to be organized) and his propensity for leaving me lists of things to do. I love him in spite of the way he shifts all the laundry around to make sure his gets done, leaving laundry that belongs to someone else in baskets on the floor. I love him in spite of the way he forgets to pick up tools after working on a project in the house and I have to do it because I get tired of tripping over them.

See? All of these things could be negative and become reasons to be angry and hurt and be cause to argue and let those hurts cause distance between us. But not with a mature love. With that kind of love you understand that your mate isn't perfect. And it's okay. 

That's the kind of love I want and the kind of love we have. A love that accepts each other the way we are.

My knees may not get weak anymore when I think about seeing the Man, but I'm okay with that. Because my feet are on solid ground with him and that's enough for me.

Happy anniversary, man of mine. I love you.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Just Right Day

Today was one of those top ten days of the year.

Gorgeous sunny fall day. Lots of blue sky and the colors were out on the trees. The Waterlogue app showcased this photo perfectly with all those warm reds and oranges and yellows.

It was a rare lazy day - J and the Man went fishing, K was trying on bridesmaids dresses and I was left to my own devices for the afternoon. I did a little shopping, a little driving, and a little eating.

It was a just right day.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

And The Lights Came On

Left in the garden, abandoned.

We can only eat so many tomatoes.

~~~~~~~~~~

I got home late yesterday afternoon and walked in the living room to find everyone sitting in a semi-dark room. 

"What's up with the dark?" I asked, looking around the room.

"We have no power in the living room. But just the wall outlets. Not the light switches," came the reply. They were engrossed in their iPads, not really concerned with our electrical problem.

The Man and I were headed out for dinner, since our anniversary was yesterday. I wasn't too eager to get sucked into we-should-fix-this-problem-before-we-eat land. I told him I was hungry and skedaddled out of the room, telling J and K to find some extension cords and get everything switched over to plugs that worked in nearby rooms. 

When we got back from dinner, the Man called our electrician. He asked the Man a few questions, sent the Man downstairs to test some fuses, and then said he'd be out early this morning before I had to leave for work. 

And he was. Very prompt. He and his son carefully examined everything. The circuit board. The wiring. Switches. Relays. They tested the wall outlets. Dead, dead, dead. They turned on the light switches and everything worked. Dad electrician moved the sofa, stirring up a few dust bunnies as he moved it away from the wall. Thankfully I had vacuumed under there recently or I would have been mortified. He threatened to take pictures anyway. Did I tell you I know these guys from the library? They are a whole lot of fun.

Fun electricians. Every homeowner needs to have some on retainer.

They were puzzled. They had been in the house for about fifteen minutes and had come up with nothing. No reason for the power outage. They almost started scratching their heads when Dad electrician looked at the wall behind me. 

"Why are those two switches covered?" he asked, pointing to two light switches on the wall in the dining room. They have hard plastic cases covering them, stopping someone from hitting the switch underneath.

"Oh, those are the two switches Mom told us never to hit if we wanted to keep things working in here," I replied blithely. Then I blinked.

I looked at Dad Electrician. He was looking at me, smiling. He walked over to one of the switches and pushed it.

The lights came on.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies


My MIL makes the best chocolate chip cookies. I don't know where she got the recipe from or how old it is. She's been making these cookies since the Man was just a little punkin.

J and K asked, or rather pleaded, with me to make cookies today. I like to bake in the fall and had some time this afternoon so I agreed. It was rough. Since I don't bake very much they hovered around, sneaking bits and pieces of cookie dough as I was mixing it.  I think they ate half the batch of dough before I could get them into the oven. I didn't fuss at them too much - more playful fussing than anything. It was nice to have "kids" so excited about me baking something again. It's been a while since that happened.

Oy vey. Maybe I need to bake more so it's not some sort of national celebration when I do.

Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies (printable recipe)

1½ cups Crisco
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
12 oz chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375°. Mix shortening, sugars, eggs, and vanilla thoroughly. Stir dry ingredients together; blend in to shortening mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough about 2" apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until delicately browned (cookies should still be soft). Cool slightly before removing from pan. Makes about 8-10 dozen small-med cookies or 4-5 med-large cookies.

~~~~~~~~~~

After they came out of the oven, they swooped in and half a dozen cookies disappeared very fast. Kate wanted to know if Grandma invented chocolate chip cookies. 

Then she said, "They taste like happiness and rainbows."

Yes, they do, K. 

Yes, they do.




Thursday, October 1, 2015

Playing With a New App

Found this super cool phone app for the iPhone today, Stateframe. The blogger who was writing about it used it for so many different travel and vacation scrapbook pages featuring her kids and husband.

The app has the outline of the United States and each individual state, plus Canada and the Canadian provinces. 
I had limited photos to practice with since I just cleaned out my iPhone. Can't wait to try it with some more state specific images.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Apple Love

So many apples this year.

We have been eating quite a few off the trees in the backyard. And people have been bringing them in to church to share with others. The trees were laden with apples up North a few weeks ago. 

Every time I turn around, I see apples.

{Love}ly, bright red, shiny apples.

~~~~~~~~~~

Apples are part of the rose family. That may explain why our roses had such a great year too.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Busy Night Sky


My feeble attempts at lunar photography.

Super high tech over here. The Man had his fancy schmancy telescope out to view the lunar eclipse. I put my iPhone over the eye piece and found the moon. 

I need a bigger lens for my camera. I'm obsessed with moon photos now.
We were all out watching the lunar eclipse a couple nights ago. Our neighbor came out and stood in his front yard, looking through his binoculars.

"Come on over!" we shouted to him. He came over to look through the telescope. And stayed for about an hour.

We had great fun talking with him and taking turns looking at the moon. We could hear neighbors outside, talking and laughing, up and down the street.  It was almost like a block party.

Millions of stars were scattered all over the night sky and easy to see without residual light from the moon. While I was watching the eclipse, I saw a shooting star zip across the atmosphere.

It was quite a busy night sky.








Monday, September 28, 2015

Sun Kissed Blooms

The Man transplanted all the marigolds we had ringing the garden this summer and put them in pots around the patio and the barn.

Genius.

Saved us about forty dollars in chrysanthemums. And the color is perfect for fall.
Enjoying these last few days of warmth and sunshine. 

Summer is hanging out and hanging on.

~~~~~~~~~~

weighty orange blooms
with frilly sun kissed petals -
cool nights lay to rest.

an attempt at haiku


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Out from Behind the Lens


I don't come out from behind the camera too often. My niece E had my camera last night and took some photos of K and I.

We were both rolling our eyes. We were trying to teach E how to do it. She cannot roll her eyes. She tries but they end up going cross-eyed. K told her E to follow her pointer finger and she made a rainbow shape in front of E's eyes. She could sort of roll them that way. 

But not very effective for an eye roll. No attitude. No sass.

We had her practice over and over. Finally, she said, "I don't think Mom's going like it that you're teaching me how to roll my eyes."

Considering that she's in middle school, prime eye rolling years, she has a valid point.

Er, oops. Sorry, Sissy.
Laughter.

Good for the soul.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Photobombing Sissy

An outtake.

I let one of my nieces loose with my camera tonight. She was snapping away, taking pics of K and I rolling our eyes at each other, when her sissy photobombed her.

Excellent expression on D's face.


Friday, September 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Burritos

Once upon a time there was a sandwich shop that was beloved by all who entered. The man and the woman who owned the shop made the very best sandwiches in all the land and people came from all over the kingdom to eat them. 

And the people were happy.

Then the man and the woman decided they wanted a different location for their shop. They searched north and south, east and west, but couldn't find a shop. They were either too big or too small. There were none that were just right. So they closed the shop and moved very far away. 

And the people in the land were sad and cranky and had to make their own sandwiches once again.

The end.

~~~~~~~~~~

They used to make a delicious thanksgiving burrito sandwich. The last time the Man and I were up north, we stopped in with M and the Hammer to pick up some of these sandwiches to bring home. Sissy had asked me to get a couple for her too.

We drove south for hours to get home and had arranged to meet Sissy at the local McDonald's to swap them out. I called her when we got close to the exit and she headed out to meet us. We were driving in a big black SUV and the Hammer had the radio blasting. It was late in the evening, "Brickhouse" was blaring out the speakers, we were all singing along and dancing in our seats. The SUV was humming and shaking coming off the exit.

Right around the corner was the McDonald's and the music was still playing as we pulled in to the parking lot. We spotted Sissy's car, swung into the spot next to her, rolled down the window, gave her the bag of sandwiches, took her money, and backed out of the spot. All in about one minute because we were eager to get home. 

It took a few minutes before M and I looked at each other and started laughing. Because to anybody looking at us from the outside it looked like an illegal substance deal had just gone down. 

Oy vey.

~~~~~~~~~~

After that weekend, I knew I wouldn't be up north for a while so I had to figure out how to make these sandwiches. 

The photo above shows all the ingredients - layers of stuffing, turkey (or roasted chicken), browned onions, cranberry sauce, sriracha mayonnaise and cheddar cheese. 

Wrap it all up burrito style and press it in a panini maker for four minutes. Delicioso.

To make it super simple, I buy boxed stuffing and have it made in five minutes. I get a roasted chicken from the local grocer. The most time consuming part is slicing and browning the onions. But they're worth it. 

Try it and let me know what you think.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

{Graceful} Goodbye to the Great North

Stopped at a cute sandwich shop for lunch. M and I had a hard time containing ourselves - the desserts looked so delicious. We just kept saying, "But we'll be sharing them. We're not going to eat a whole one." 

No, of course not. We only ate about a dozen pieces of dessert, but not a whole one of anything. 

Very restrained, if you ask me.
We took our food over to Portland Headlight and enjoyed sunny weather for most of our visit there. 

The fog started to roll in as we did the cliff walk. I kept thinking of the movie "The Mist" and reminded the rest of the party that we had to move along. And if they heard any buzzing, don't look back and start running. Fast. 

M told me I have quite an imagination. 
We finished the afternoon in Portland and wandered down to see the cruise ships that were in port.

These things are HUGE.

~~~~~~~~~~


Things to remember about Portland:

The puppy meeting a goat for the first time. And getting butted. I wrote a poem for the event - Goats are ornery. Puppies are sweet. Never again should the two things meet. 

Looking for mead. Finding it in a craft beer shop and buying lots of other beverages. Many more beverages than we went in for - all locally made and so far, so delicious.

The Hammer parking in a fantastic parking spot, right alongside four Portland police officers. They were standing on the edge of the sidewalk, talking, and glanced at us as we parked. The Hammer got out of the vehicle and went over to them, "Hey, can you keep an eye on my vehicle?" One of them burst into laughter and the others were smiling as they walked away.
Great bike rack.

~~~~~~~~~~

I was taking a shower the last morning we were there and the bathroom was a bit steamy. When I pulled the shower curtain back and saw the mirror steamed up, I realized I should have turned the fan on. 

Standing in the tub, dripping water, I leaned out and tried to turn the wall switch on for the fan. It was only about eighteen or so inches away. Just far enough for me to lose my balance. I started tipping out of the tub and thought, "You better step out of the tub so you don't fall."

By the time I finished thinking that thought, I was falling out of the tub. I tried to step out and forgot that the tub is a little bit higher than the floor. Totally miscalculated this. Before I knew what was happening, I was banging into the bathroom sink cabinet and then bouncing back to hit the tub before landing on my knees on the floor. Thud, bang, crash. Silence.

I sat there for a few seconds thinking, "Maybe they didn't hear that."

Pound, pound, pound. Footsteps coming. Uh-oh. I'm nekkid as the day I was born. "Are you okay?!" the Man and Mary asked.

"I'm fine!" I said, jumping up and grabbing a towel. "I'm up! I'm toweling off!" 

I just didn't want them to OPEN THE DOOR.

"Are you sure you're okay?" they asked. "Yes!" I said emphatically. Move along, people. Nothing to see here.

My middle name should have been Grace.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Snippets from Up North

Snippets from the weekend.

Smooth rocks piled high on the beach. It was a bit treacherous getting down to the shore. Good thing the Man was in front of me with a helping hand or I might have bounced my way down on my bottom.

The Man is very sure footed. I am very not sure footed.

We make a good pair.
Poor little abandoned Pooh Bear.

He was sitting all by himself, waiting for his owner to come back for him.

Hope he finds his way home.
Fairy food.

Set out in the forest for any fairies that might happen to be lingering around.

Fairy house we found in a clearing along our walk.

An enchanted little part of the forest, filled with all kinds of tiny fairy homes. But no fairies. I think we were making too much noise.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Puppy Love

The Man and I got to spend the weekend with this sweet boy. Oh, and his parents, M and The Hammer.

You know, our dear friends. Move over, M and The Hammer, there's a new boy in town. We were infatuated with this guy from the start of the weekend. He's playful and friendly. He's rambunctious and teething. He's sleepy and reluctant to move when he's tired.

He's a puppy.
We took him for several walks on Saturday. He drew attention wherever we went. This little one is such a people magnet.

We would walk about twenty feet and get stopped by someone who wanted to pet him and talk to him. He was so patient and would just sit there and let people love all over him.

As we were walking along the harbor, we got stopped by a small group of mentally challenged young men and their group leader. They asked if they could pet the puppy and immediately dropped to his level so he would be comfortable with them. One of the young men kept remarking on how big the puppy was going to be when he was an adult. As M smiled, she said, "I think you're right. I hope I can handle him when he's big."

One of the young men, who had Down's Syndrome, said, "I can handle him." He was so sincere. I think he fell in love as soon as he saw the puppy.
What a sweet boy. And what a smile.

~~~~~~~~~~

He has totally sucked M into dog owner world. She really wasn't a dog person. At all. When The Hammer mentioned getting a dog, she was pretty up front with him about how she wasn't going to feed him, or take him outside, or train him. This was his dog.

That lasted all of about three minutes.

She is the best doggy momma around. She feeds him good food, makes sure he goes out for several walks, she packs water for him while walking, and sits with him to a make sure he drinks enough. She snuggles him and plays with him. She's going to training classes with The Hammer. And she is totally in love with this dog.

Who is she?!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Ferris Wheels

 
Sissy and I passed a fair on our way to knitting class tonight. It's in the setting up stage - not quite ready for prime time yet.

The Ferris wheel reminded me of a book I finished over the summer, "The Devil in the White City" by Erik Larson. An interesting look at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. One of the biggest attractions was the very first Ferris wheel - America's answer to the Eiffel Tower, which had dazzled the world a few years prior.

We take them for granted now. Ferris wheels show up at every carnival and fair around. But at one time, the Ferris wheel was quite the novelty. According to the Smithsonian, the original Ferris wheel had 36 cars and held 60 people each, for a total of 2,160 people per ride. 

After the World's Fair, the designer of the Ferris wheel was embroiled in legal problems and eventually died at the age of 37. The original Ferris wheel was sold and destroyed. 

The Eiffel Tower still exists.

Interesting book if you're looking for something to read.


Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Emerald Isle, Day Five

Lots of memories are resurfacing as I continue to edit the photos from our trip to Ireland last year. 

Exactly a year ago, to be precise.

I wouldn't have believed a land could get into my blood like this one did. The Man feels the same way. We've decided to go back next fall for a return visit. We both want to see more of the country but also revisit the small town we stayed in last year.

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The bakery we stopped in surprised us. The food is just laid out, on top of counters and tables and display stands. There are no utensils or wax paper to pluck the one you want - just some plates and forks to eat with. Kind of nice serving yourself that way - felt like we were visiting a friend.
We took the bus up to Galway on day five. Neither of the guys wanted to drive into a big city and us gals didn't blame them one bit.

Not after what happened on day four. 

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On day four, we had started out bright and early to find a new place to eat breakfast. T had found one in a guide book and we decided to try it. 

There are not a lot of places that serve breakfast in the small town we were visiting. Only one pub in town was open for breakfast and their idea of breakfast was not our idea of breakfast. For one thing, breakfast didn't start until ten o'clock. By that time, we had been up for hours and were starved. They only served two basic dishes - porridge or some sort of egg sampler plate. You couldn't choose the way the eggs were cooked, it was at the cook's discretion, and they were served with baked beans, a slice of tomato,  some very dry toast, and several pieces of some sort of animal intestine. After eating there one morning, we were looking for another spot for breakfast on day four.

As the Man was driving along the road, we heard a loud bang and realized quickly that something bad had happened. He pulled over to the side of the road, not that there was a side of the road since all the roads have stone walls along the edges and there are no breakdown lanes to speak of, and we all got out to look at the damage.

A popped tire. Flat.

While the guys figured out how to change the tire, T and I figured out the insurance part. Luckily we had purchased the extended coverage which included blown tires. We made some calls and got the information we needed and then waited for the guys to finish. 

It took some time. A lot of time. T and I got a bit restless. We started cracking jokes and making nuisances of ourselves which irritated the guys. We decided we better skedaddle before we got into trouble.

We walked up the road and crossed over to talk to some cows that were lined up watching us. We could see the Atlantic in the distance and the beautiful coastline since we were up in the hills a bit. Very peaceful with bright blue skies and puffy white clouds floating by. Every now and then a car would pass by but it was pretty quiet.

Eventually the guys finished the tire and we turned around to head back to a petrol station we had stopped at before we got the flat. The man at the station was kind enough to point us in the direction of the tire man. 

I loved his directions. "Just go back down the hill and look for John Sharry - he'll fix you up."

So we headed back down the hill and found a sign that said, "Punctures and Tires Repaired" in hand painted letters with an arrow pointing down a back road. We turned onto the road and kind of stumbled upon the place. 

John Sharry was the friendliest fellow. The Man was feeling pretty badly about popping the tire and mentioned that to John. John brought him out back behind the garage. There had to be hundreds of popped tires back there. He said it was very common to hit rocks and pop a tire - just a way of life on those roads. We had a nice visit with John and he got us back on the road in due time. Not in time for breakfast but in time for lunch.

Of course, that was the day we hiked through a billion fields to look for a castle and almost got attacked by a crazy dog. Not our best day.

And yet we can't wait to go back. Go figure.
Back to Galway. 

The guys weren't keen on driving a couple hours north to Galway, and then have to deal with city traffic on top of that, so we opted to take a bus instead.

Worked out beautifully. We sat in front and got great views both ways. The guys got a chance to have a relaxing day and not have to worry about driving. It was a good break for them.

When we got to Galway we headed toward the shopping district. A friend had told me that I would find some nice sweaters here. I found a couple sweaters for K and one for J's girlfriend, at the time. I also picked up a couple wool blankets. T found some things for her grandson and herself. The guys stayed outside and the Man grumbled a bit about all the shopping. I'm not sure what he expected in a city, but it wasn't shopping. Huh.

Our neighbor back home had told us to have lunch at a fish 'n chips shop called McDonough's. 

It was delicious.

We will be repeat customers, for sure.
We walked all over the city, exploring nooks and crannies. We stopped for gelato somewhere. We found the Spanish Arch and learned a little bit about the history of Galway. Took lots of pictures.

And then it was time to go back to the bus station. A long day, but a good one.

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I am totally enamored with the color of this pie shop. And with the big, black window. And with the lanterns in the window. And all the signs. 

I love this shop.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Happy Birthday to Me

Playing poker for my birthday. 

I am not a great poker player. I am not even a good poker player. When I get a decent hand I raise the betting by $3.00, all at once. Since we play penny poker, that's a big clue that I've got something good in my hand.

Everyone folds and I win the $.04 pot.

The Man is a very good poker player. K taught us a quick game that Grampa showed them. Everyone gets one card. You pick up your card WITHOUT LOOKING AT IT and hold it against your forehead. Based on what cards everyone else has showing, you bet whether or not you think you have the highest card.

I modified it a bit and dealt everyone one card. You could look at your card and bet whether you thought you had the highest card. The Man kept raising the bet until we all folded. 

He won with a three. 

We laughed a lot. It was a great night. A great family night and we don't get too many of those these days with everyone off in their own direction.

I'll take 'em while I can.
Happy birthday to me.

I've always wanted a leather backpack for travel and decided this was the year. I've seen photos of this style when it's broken in and used. Absolutely gorgeous. The company says it looks it's worse on the day you buy it. 

I. LOVE. IT.

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The tag line from the company, "They'll fight over it when you're dead."

Gosh, I hope not.


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Turning Back Time, or forgetting how old you are

I had a birthday last week. As you may remember, I turned 50 last year. 

Gulp. I don't even like saying that number.

But somewhere along the line I forgot how old I was. For the past six months or so I've been thinking that I was 51, turning 52. In my head I'd console myself, "You're only two years into your fifties, just two years. That's not so bad. You're still closer to 50 than 60," and so on and so forth with other encouraging, uplifting things to say to myself. They didn't really work, though, because it seemed like I had just turned fifty and boy, did two years go by very fast.

Then about a week or so before my birthday, I did the math. And discovered that I was actually 50, turning 51.

Eureka!

I actually figured out how to age backwards!

Simply add two years to your age each year and then forget about it. Eventually you'll remember to do the math and discover that you're getting younger and younger.

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A friend gave me this beautiful yarn bowl for my birthday. I was thrilled to get it since I've always wanted one but never bought one for myself.

I took it to knitting and it was quite a hit. I'm going to have to keep an eye on it from now on.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Big Cousins, Little Cousins

Full disclosure time.

They won nothing. I totally staged this photo.

K was messing around, throwing her arms up in the air while I was shooting. We convinced my niece to do the same thing and voila! Looks like they won the jackpot.

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Things aren't always what they seem.
Little C hanging with the big girl cousins.

She belongs to one of my cousins. I love that we've been able to keep in touch through the years and watch each other's children grow up.

"A cousin is a little bit of childhood that can never be lost." 
-Marion C. Garretty

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Little C is the cousin who wanted to take Bonjo, aka J, home at the end of the day. And she almost did. She's very persuasive, that one.