Category Archives: Signatures

My 2014 Thanksgiving Menu

nov23Next week portends to be a great week. It’s Thanksgiving! I don’t have any photos of food – but these shots of the beautiful fall season this year will have to do.

nov23aI plan on making the Thanksgiving meal, but in a different way this year. This year, we’re doing buffet style. There will be a table of food, but no table set with plates. The reason for this is two-fold. The first is that we don’t have a dining room! I’ve rearranged the furniture once again, who is surprised?

The second is that the husband will be undergoing major surgery on the Monday before Thanksgiving. I’m confident he’ll be out of the hospital by Thanksgiving but just in case, I’m doing a lot of preparation work this weekend.

The girl comes home Monday, the boy flies home Tuesday, my parents and Brother Peck will be here Wednesday. I look forward to hugging them all! Then I’ll tell them to help themselves to whatever is in the refrigerator. Ha!

nov23bHere’s what I’m planning on making . . . God willing.


Proteins – I’m making a lot of proteins this year because I want to have a LOT of leftovers. Since I have a plenitude of venison in the freezer, I’m going to use it up!

– Turkey (because I must)
– Venison
– Beef Tenderloin (because I love tenderloin)

Sides – These are my favorite sides, some from year after year, and some new this year.

– Stuffing. I don’t stuff the turkey. I make this on the stove.
– Gravy
– Green bean casserole
– Green bean prik king curry, because there must be a Thai dish in this dinner.
– Thai green bean salad. It’s a green bean fiesta!
– Mashed potatoes. The girl loves mashing every year.
– Sweet potatoes. Mom is making it this year. Her’s is the best ever because of the one secret ingredient. Did I tell you what that is yet?)
– Crab mac n cheese for the boy.
– Deli breads. I bought this from Whole Foods and they are in the freezer as we speak.
– Lots and lots of green salad with my mom’s standard Balsamic Garlic dressing. It’s delicious.
Kale & brussel sprout salad – I love this recipe from Nancy Fuller. It’s yummy, to die for, addicting and really good for you!
– (Frozen) Corn on the cob
– Cranberry sauce – from the can everyone, from the can.


Apple Pie Egg Rolls
– No Bake Cookies
Sweet & Salty No Bake Peanut Butter Bars
– Banana Leaf Wrapped Sticky Rice
Pumpkin Cheese Cake - this says it takes 11 hours to make but I swear I’m up to it!
Upside down pineapple cake – a perennial favorite!

hmmmm…maybe I’ll skip the peanut butter bars – but the no bake cookies and the cheesecake are made and I’ve purchased the banana wrapped sticky rice. Three down, three to go.

nov23dI’m having more than just turkey as a protein this year. I’m also having a touch of Thai, and a lot of fresh vegetables in the form of salads. I for one, prefer fresh vegetables over cooked vegetables and I am going to cook things that people will actually eat so crab mac n cheese it is!

nov23fMy  last thought before the week begins is this – many blessings to you and to yours. My Thanksgiving will be perfect – no matter what happens because I remember this – we are to give thanks in whatever our circumstances.

nov23eOr we can order pizza…

A Tortured Week

yesnoWhen our children leave home for the first time, the thing that parents worry about the most if the safety of our kids, both physical and emotional.

This week both our kids have occupied our frontal lobe of our cerebral cortex which in turn makes our hearts hurt. I’m not an anxious parent (hey, I heard that), and I have a lot of confidence in the ability of our kids to make wise decisions. Things happen though, nothing serious, just enough to make a mom worry.

It’s snowing in North Dakota, and the boy is learning to drive in the inclement weather. Sometimes you have to learn these things the hard way. He’s driving a little Toyota Camry, the bottom line is – we’re going to purchase some snow tires.

The girl found her car wouldn’t start and she couldn’t get to the stables to ride. She figured it out though, much to her credit. Someone was able to jump her car and she is apparently good to go. She then reported low pressure in one of her tires so her dad told her to go to a gas station and get some air in it. When she got there, she called and said she didn’t know how to use the air machine.

It just makes me feel so helpless, all of it.

She figured it out somehow, I think with the help of the gas station attendant. These are great skills to have.

Both the girl and the boy called the husband with these issues within an hour of each other. I noticed they call their dad when they have car issues, and they call me when they need money.

But then – I get a call that struck such a knife in my heart I could barely breathe. The girl called to tell me that she passed out in the shower, and that she didn’t know what happened and that she woke up on the shower floor. My girl, my unemotional, analytical, stoic, no drama girl – was hysterical and scared. One of the first thoughts in my head when she called was this, “It’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, why is she taking a shower at 4 o’clock?” It’s funny how our mind works to protect us from information overflow that can overwhelm us at once. I had to process the news a little bit at a time.

I immediately drove the three hours to her school and it was by far the most anxious three hours of my life. When I got there, I found her and her roommate in a state of worry but the girl said she felt fine. Thank God for Danielle-girl, she’s a good roommate and friend. I took the girl home with me anyway, to ensure we can keep an eye on her. To make a long story short, we went to see a doctor the next day and took blood work, among many other tests and the girl has a clean bill of health. I suppose it could have been a myriad of reasons for her episode. I do worry that it could happen when she’s either riding or driving but she assured me that if she felt dizzy or sick like she did before the episode, that she would get off the horse or pull over. She stayed with us for a few days and now is back at school.

If you have a daughter – you would know how we felt this week.

Someone asked me what we would do if the boy passed out at school. Well, he’s in North Dakota – so . . . I don’t know.

photo(15)So this week we relied on our faith in God, prayers from friends, and on laughter. He sent us this today, I guess he started No Shave November a few days late since it’s well past the November 12th. He keeps us laughing, even with all that goes on with our kids, it’s what we count on to get through things like this.

Here’s to a calmer, less stressful, pre-Thanksgiving week. I’ll be so happy to have both of them home next week!

And Another Thing About Halloween

halloween1Have you been watching the Walking Dead? I have  – but honestly, I’m not enjoying it as much. I don’t know if it’s because I have to wait a week between episodes or the fact that the husband isn’t interested in it and won’t watch it with me that makes it not so fun. So I’ve decided to stop watching it for the season and just wait for it to come out on Netflix when I can watch at my leisure when the husband is gone.

The boy watches it and he says that he relates most to the character of Glen. Then I saw this on my photostream and I just had to shake my head. College kids can really be something can’t they?

Speaking of college, this is a special time in their lives, a time when they can explore their surroundings with new freedoms, without their parents’ constant attention – and nagging. You can imagine can’t you? You’ve been there.

So I don’t know why I was surprised when I received this text from him – but I was. I’ve been very disturbed by the news about the spread of Ebola. I’ve been thinking about the victims in Africa and those doctors and nurses who had the courage to risk so much to help. I pray for the military who were sent to that part of the world to help curb the spread.

halloween2This was their Halloween costume. I have no words.

He didn’t know how focused I was on the issue so I’m sure he didn’t realize how I would react to this. It’s too early to be doing things like this. But this is college, and they are kids who clearly are irreverent.

I suppose it’s genetic. His dad once dressed up as a baby seal killer. I don’t think PETA is laughing.

halloween3And his friends dressed up along with him. He said they were in the top five in the costume contest.

There are times when I’m so proud – this is not one of them.

I apologize to you all.

What Halloween Doesn’t Mean To Me

halloween1Every year Halloween becomes less and less fun for me. The husband and I decided to stay home but then there’s the annoying bell ringers and such, so we put candy out on the porch and walked over to Neighbor Theresa’s house to avoid having to answer the door.

We are really Halloween Scrooges. How did we get here? Oh right – that’s what being empty nesters does for you.

On the way out of our yard we see the JV soccer team dressed up for Halloween – as the JV soccer team. Even our kids are no longer creative. Can this get any worse?

halloween2As we enter Neighbor Theresa’s yard we see all kinds of ghouls and Freddie masks and the kids were literally wild – running around like wild juvenile delinquents. Hey you kids! Get off of my lawn!

I’ve always wanted to shout that.

halloween3Like I said, delinquents. Alright – they are kind of cute. I’ll grudgingly admit it.

halloween4And here is our host, Neighbor Chris, who is dressed in the politically incorrect costume. Apparently sombreros have been banned on some college campuses for costumes because it’s insensitive to certain groups of people. Someone forgot to tell Neighbor Chris.

halloween5Neighbor Theresa is dressed in my egg costume because I didn’t want to dress up. I would have been a rotten egg, but she is the sunny side up egg! She’s so cute.

halloween6Speaking of cute – there’s Neighbor Ashley dressed as a hobo or something like that.

halloween7Now we’re getting somewhere. Adult costumes yes!

halloween8This is exactly why we did not want to answer the door.

halloween9Gotta post this cutie. Every year Neighbor Paul gets bigger and bigger, and cuter and cuter. Funny how that happens.

halloween10Had Neighbor Ted dressed in drag this year, I would have been in a better mood. He stopped doing so when his kids got old enough to be embarrassed. The rest of us were really disappointed though.

Next year I hope to be on vacation in Tahiti during Halloween. With my luck, it will be the year that Neighbor Ted comes to the party as a hula girl but I’ll take my chances.


Happy Birthday Zena

zena98I was at a birthday party a couple of weeks ago – well, more than a couple of weeks ago now.

zena3Zena the Zebra turned two years old, awwww.

For someone who loves unusual adventures, I couldn’t turn down this party invitation. It’s not one you get every day, right?

zena94Meet Doc Linda. She owns a beautiful farm where her equine veterinary practice resides.

zena6She has a menagerie of several horses,

zena5and several dogs and a donkey which wasn’t photographed. I don’t think Ernie minded. BTW, her house and barn were spotlessly clean, even with all the pets. I don’t know how she does it. She must have “people” too.

zena92And she has a zebra.

zena93Zena the zebra absolutely loves Doc Linda. It was a lovely surprise. They are attached at the hip –

zena1You can’t tell where one stops and the other starts!

Ha, it’s a zebra joke.

zena4Doc Linda asked us all to dress in black and white, and the theme continued with zebra accents literally all over her home.

zena97And on her ceiling.

zena91I was so excited to get the invitation that I invited Austrian Eva, an exchange student, Ashely-girl who is 12 years old, and Sydney-girl who is 9. zena9They absolutely loved it!

zena96They were so thrilled to be this close to a real live zebra!

zena992Doc Linda went all out and games and all kinds of foods. Fabulous! One of the games was a treasure hunt for zebras. Zebras were hidden all over the her home and farm and the one who found the most zebras received prizes. Let me say first that of all the things Doc Linda does, this was the most courageous. I could never let 20 people loose all over my home, opening up cabinets and looking under the bed. That would be a disaster of epic proportions.

But Doc Linda did.

And she’s a brave woman.

zena991The girls won of course – was there ever a doubt? Look at all the fun prizes they got! A zebra blanket, a zebra plant, a zebra cube – zebra, zebra, zebra.

zena2Did I say zebra?

zena99I do have to say that singing “Happy Birthday” to Zena was a little bit – odd. She wasn’t there, she was outside and didn’t get to blow out her candles.

But it was in good fun. I have more from that night and it has to do with aliens – but I’m all zebra-ed out now.


Sunshine & Whiskey

sunshine1My girl loves horses – I’ve said that once or twice before.

For those of you who’s kids are at school for their first year know how important it is to see them at about the six week mark. It’s when homesickness sets in, when they become weary with classes and perhaps roommate issues begin to rear its ugly head. It’s why colleges plan parents’ weekend for about that time, they have the kids’ best interest at heart. In the case of the our girl, well, she’s been home the majority of the weekends since she’s been away so we’ve seen her quite a bit since she left. We love to see her – but we want her to begin to feel more comfortable at school. The social experience at college is almost as important as the academics when it comes to personal growth.

The husband suggested that we give her chores to do and feed her frozen pizzas and perhaps she would come home less. Ha!

Anyway, she is doing well overall and she and her roommate are getting along, classes seem to be going fine, and her homesickness has lessened but we felt that it was important that we see her in her element at school. We went to a football game, but there was not much else the girl wanted to do that weekend. She didn’t want to do the chili cook-off or run the family 5K through the town (we didn’t either). She did however, research a trail ride through the mountains. Which means I had to get on a horse.

Of course.

sunshine2Hmmm, which one shall I pick? The nicest one I hope.

sunshine4As it turns out, I don’t get to choose, I get the horse chosen for me. His name is Whiskey.

sunshine5The girl rode Sunshine – which makes our duo, Sunshine & Whiskey:) I love that song!

Here it is – love that Frankie Ballard!

sunshine3I was a little nervous, I admit it but Whiskey knew exactly what he was doing. What a good horse! The trail leader said to watch out for wildlife so after a period of time I was comfortable enough to actually do that.

sunshine6It’s hard to take photos while you are on a horse don’t cha know.

sunshine9I did see some wildlife. If you look close enough you’ll notice some things called – humans. They blend right into their environment.

sunshine8There are some more of that species.

sunshine7The girl saw this first, a deer in the woods. She was laying down and trying to be inconspicuous.

That my dears, is the extent of our wildlife sightings.

It was a nice weekend and it’s always great to see our girl! I’m leaving you with one more photo from that weekend. It’s God on display.


These Three Things

squinch1First Thing: I shot this photo of my pastor in his office and it turned out quite good if I do say so myself. He’s very photogenic as you can see but he was using a strategy that he says many celebrities use called squinching. I’ve never heard of it but he said that people who make a living in front of the camera know all about it. So I googled it and I found this video by photographer Peter Hurley. Check it out below.

iphone1Second Thing: We purchased the girl a new phone last week when she was home for fall break. She’s been known to to break the screen on her phone once or twice (or three or four) times so I threatened her with my flip phone – as in that’s what she’ll get if she breaks her new one. I’m still using the phone from three years ago, an iPhone 4 – at the time it was cutting edge. When Apple’s highly anticipated roll out of the iPhone 6 didn’t go as planned – as in it was totally unviewable for the first 20 minutes, it occurred to me that even the best tech people in the world have to deal with funky technical issues. It was probably embarrassing for Apple but we all did get a few chuckles out of it with articles like this –

Twitter reactions to Apple’s Livestream

It probably would have been funnier had I done this right after the livestream but – still a good Monday chuckle.

smashcake1Lastly, Third Thing: Little Benedict turned one year old a few weeks ago. His parents are very strict about what they feed this little man. All parents are with their first child. That all changes when the second kid comes around, which will happen in about six months for them. Anyway, Benedict has not eaten any processed sugar – yet – so I made him a healthy smash cake. The recipe is below.

What You Need:
– 5 ripe bananas
– 1/2 cup organic apple sauce
– 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
– 1 tsp cinnamon
– 1 tsp nutmeg
– 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 8 ounces cream cheese
– 1/2 cup concentrated apple juice

smashcake2What You Do:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Smash the bananas together and then mix in the apple sauce and vanilla extract and set aside. In another bowl, mix the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and baking soda together. Fold into the banana and apple sauce mix. Place in a loaf pan or in this case, I used individual disposable baking bowls. Bake for 25 minutes or until done.

For the icing, whip together the cream cheese and concentrated apple juice together until creamy.

smashcake5Some of the party guests said it was quite delicious and would be a great breakfast pastry sans the icing. Benedict ate about 1/4 of his piece but he did lick off all the icing.

smashcake3What a cute kid. Happy birthday!


What The Hackers Will See

snap93I wrote about Snap Chat before and it’s been reported recently that photos and videos from the app were hacked and are now in the possession of unscrupulous hackers.

It just goes to show that nothing placed online is sacred and nothing is ever deleted. It’s there forever. Young people are should know and be aware and if there is a doubt about how your content will reflect on you – just don’t do it.

There are times when I should take my own advice.

I knew that content on Snap Chat were never “deleted”, they are just renamed so that you can’t see them again but they’re still there – the FBI and hackers can still get to them. I wondered how secure my account really is from the beginning. I only have three “friends” on Snap Chat but when I made my first account, somehow a total stranger became one of my friends – and I have no idea how. An photo with a profanity laden message showed up and I was shocked – shocked. I asked the kids if they knew him and they didn’t. The girl said I made friends with the wrong person – but I didn’t mean to. I didn’t know how to delete him – and I just made a new account.

We’re not safe – the best thing to do in order to play with and still enjoy social media is to post things like this.

snap1No matter what he sends me, I love getting snaps from the boy.


Here is a screen shot of a video of Roommate John cleaning the table. I know it’s juvenile, but I had to laugh. I find the boys funny.

snap9They hung their clock over their sink and when I got this from the boy, asking us how we liked their handy work, all I could think was, “Wow, look how clean that sink is.” Impressive.


This is a video of them singing to someone called Tay Tay – oh right, it’s Taylor Swift gone pop.

snap4I was watching a video of the boy in the car and I asked him about it – this was his explanation.


I play on Snap Chat too. I like to send the kids things like this early in the morning. Well – it wasn’t that early, I was at work but to them it was the crack of dawn.


The boy sported new sunglasses, a gift from our neighbor. He’s so handsome.

snap8Really, really handsome. I tell you, he cracks me up.

It’s all innocent fun, and I don’t worry about my kids putting inappropriate content online anymore. I know there’s a balance but social media is in our lives to stay. We just have to set boundaries for our kids. It can make parenting harder, but it’s life and they will thank you for it!


Life Through My iPhone

It’s time for another compelling edition of Life Through My iPhone – because my life is so compelling.

Here goes . . .

iphone01I purchased this skirt through a site that sells used clothing called When I arrived I tried it on and though it was slightly snug, it fit. Then I think it was washed and I tried it on again – and I couldn’t get it past my knees. What the heck. I gave it to Jackie-girl and she gave it to her mom and then sent me this photo. Yep, I hate her.

She does look great in it though . . .

iphone1Our church is going through an expansion of our auditorium and I snapped this photo of some of my co-workers and volunteers in front of the unfinished staged. It’s not going to look like this much longer and I’m all about preserving the “during” as well as the “done” so I love this.

iphone3The husband was on a trip and ran into our doctor who he ended up flying to the west coast. What are the chances? He sent me this photo. I love it.

iphone4I was minding my own business when my brother sent me this photo of one of the most favorite things that my mother makes. It’s also a favorite of the girl. I immediately got so hungry that I went to the pantry and ate about 6 Oreo cookies. Why does he do this to me?

iphone5I was photographing a charity golf tournament a couple of weeks ago and these gentlemen bought me a drink. They were doing a little bit of drinking themselves. Anyway, they asked if they could buy me a beer and I said, no thanks, I don’t drink beer. So they asked me if they could buy me a glass of wine, and since there weren’t any wine glasses at that particular bar (yes, I hang out at sophisticated establishments), I declined again. But they insisted and asked me if I even drink alcohol. I said yes, I do so they insisted I have a crown and ginger, whatever that is. The bartender took sympathy on me and said I should get a crown and coke, I would like that better. I said alright, I’ve never had one before – and the jury is still out. Anyway, I thanked them and took this photo and they said, “Hey – a selfie!” Alrighty.

Anyway, they asked me where I was from – and the conversation continued to go downhill from there as you can imagine.

iphone6And I was exhausted from the encounter that I came home and took a nap, along with all of the other animals in the house.

Update: I read this post again and I realized that this could look like I had to take a nap from drinking a half a crown and coke (I could only finish half) but this was the day I cycled 50 miles – yes, 50 miles. It was the longest I’ve ridden and I was very proud of myself, and relieved to have gotten off the bike seat . . .

iphone7Our culinary school had a final test in at the end of another session and the staff was the benefit of some pretty awesome pancakes. I love it when they have a test. I gave them an A!

iphone8Another beautiful sky. It reminds me that God is always present – always.

iphone9They boy and I share a photostream and every once in a while one of his photos will pop up. I don’t know who these folks are though I love seeing him.

iphone10When we went to parents’ weekend at the girl’s school last weekend we stocked up on gas (as much as you can stock up). It was only $2.99, I haven’t seen that in a long time. It’s not that way here at home, we live in an expensive state. Not a political statement, only a very hard reality.

iphone11We try to stay at relatively clean hotels when we travel to see the kids but these sticker was on the headboard in our room and I wondered about it. I mean, it should be a given that they are clean right? Do we need a sticky note reminder?

Things that make you go hmmmm….

iphone12We took the girl on a drive in a national forest when we went to visit her and this was among many of the really beautiful vistas along the way.

jonny1This young man just asked out the love of his life and she said, YES! He’s been in love with her for about three years – yes, true. He came into the office to tell me and I was so excited for him that I took a snap chat and sent it to the kids. It was only afterward that I realized it looks like we were going out. Oh well, it’s why digital communication will never replace one on one conversations.

iphone13I took the dogs to the beach yesterday. It was so early that it was almost completely dark when we arrived. The days are getting shorter – and I needed a flashlight.

Have a wonderful, wonderful weekend. The girl is coming home for fall break, weeee! I’ll get some photos -

Opposites Makes Great Roommates

roommatesWhen the girl and I went to college orientation we were told by one of the housing ladies that high school friends make awful college roommates and thus, it’s discouraged. Since the girl didn’t know anyone who was going to the college, we had to just hold our breath and hoped for a good roommate. I told her many times that they didn’t have to best friends, just have to live together – I was trying to lower expectations. After all, we are all humans and as such, getting a random person as a roommate really is a crapshoot. And the fact that they are girls . . . and all that comes with being a teenage girl – well . . .

We walked into the room last weekend and were met by Roommate Danielle and her parents. Her mother immediately said, “We are so thankful that (Roommate) Danielle and (the girl) are roommates.” It was this and other things that she said about our girl that really made me so proud – and so relieved. Roommate Danielle then chimed in, “She’s the best roommate a girl can have!”

We met Roommate Danielle when the girl first moved in and she’s just adorable. She’s a cheerleader and with a cheerleader’s sunny disposition. She’s outgoing and talkative, the polar opposite of the girl in temperament. We left them on that day, wondering how  it was going to work out.

As it turns out, they like each other and the girl was rooting for Danielle more than the football team at the game.

So far so good – but I do have to laugh at how different they are. Here’s a great illustration.

rommates2This is Roommate Danielle’s side of the room. Notice all the fun colors and the patterns.

roommates1And here is the girl’s side of the room. Her favorite color is – gray. And there’s a can of anti-bacterial wipes on the desk.

This ladies and gentlemen, says it all . . .

Here’s to a great college year for both of them!