Monday, July 31, 2017

Crammed full

Every day for the past week and a half, I've thought, "this is the day I'll get a post on my blog." I even started writing one up one day. Hopefully, I'll make it through this one.

Here's what I've been up to while I haven't been blogging:

Sam's parents, Michelle and Shawn, visited from their home in Texarkana, and we had a blast with them.  Joe really lucked out with these fabulous in-laws, and so did we!

We went to a Rockies game

Had a sleepover with Brooklynn and Bentley.  We use the term "sleep" loosely for Bentley.

Michelle coloring with B & B.

Had way too much fun with the selfie-stick.

Visited a new microbrewery.

And an old favorite microbrewery.

Went for a hike.

Shopped at this amazing imported cheese store, which contributed to the many calories consumed throughout the week, including an amazing barbecue with Cajun meats complements of Michelle and Shawn.

And. . .

I finally got Lilly to the groomer, got myself back to water aerobics class, and rescheduled a hair cut appointment twice. I'm going this week.

Made pickles with cucumbers from the garden.

Hosted book club at my house and we discussed The Sparrow Sisters by Ellen Herrick.

Bought some new chairs and a porch swing for the patio.

Took a morning bike ride with Dan and ended up at Starbucks:)

Wow, I crammed a lot into the past two weeks, just like I just crammed a lot into this post.  Good-bye, July! Welcome August!


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

In the kitchen

Layered Greek Dip

I made this for my book club this week, and I think it will be a go-to recipe for the rest of the summer. It's gluten-free, and lighter than the layered Mexican dips, which I love!, but nice to have a change, too.

I've seen lots of versions of this dip on Pinterest and on different cooking blogs.  This is a blend of several of those recipes.

8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup, peeled and chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped tomato
1/2 cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup slice green onions

Pita chips for serving.

1.  Beat together, with electric mixer, cream cheese, lemon, juice, Italian seasonings and garlic.
2.  Spread into a serving dish. I used a deep dish pie plate.
3.  Spread the hummus on top of the cream cheese mixture, then top with the remaining ingredients.
4.  Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours or overnight.  Serve with pita chips.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

Girls Love Mail

Doesn't everyone love mail?

If you're someone who enjoys writing letters, here's something you might be interested in doing.

About a year ago, I learned about a group called Girls Love Mail. They collect handwritten letters, and send them via hospitals and clinics to newly diagnosed breast cancer patients. It's such a simple but powerful way to let someone know that you're thinking about them, and offer encouragement during a difficult time.

The website includes all the information you need to know, as well as suggestions for how to get started on your letter.

This is a great activity for a group to do together, too. Or, if you're like me, and have a love for stationery and enjoy writing letters, it's a great way to share a bit of your time and give the gift of a letter to someone who would appreciate some words of cheer.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Five Favorite Photos

My family is spread out all over the state and the country, if you include my nieces and nephews, so texting is a great way for us to keep in touch. This week, the texts were flying and loaded with pictures. It occurred to me how fortunate we are nowadays that, no matter the distance, we are still a part of each other's lives.  

Here are some of my favorite photos that came through this week.

1. One of my brothers, Mark, trains German Shorthaired Pointers for hunting. One of his dogs had puppies this week, and he said I can have as many as I want!;) Dan said no. 

2. My brother Andy is the family naturalist and artist. We were exchanging photos when I asked him to help me identify a feather I found.  (It was a turkey feather LOL). This is an eagle feather he came upon one day and posed it for a picture.

3. My dad texted me this photo that he came across in one of his albums.  Me (squinting in the sun), my mom and my grandmother.

4. Luke texted this photo that he took of the baseball team that he coaches.  Before each game the boys gather in prayer. He said it is their own idea, but I know that he is an awesome mentor to these teens.

5. Saving the best for last, my beautiful niece Sami (daughter #1 of brother naturalist and artist) upon receiving her White coat! She just passed the halfway mark towards earning her degree in chiropractic medicine. 

These are just a few of the photos from the week that remind me how thankful I am to be a part of this awesome family.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summer moments

My five senses were overcome with summer this week. Many consider 4th of July to be the halfway point for summer, but to me it feels like we are just beginning to hit that sweet spot of hot days when a dip in the pool feels so good. I feel bad for kids who are already counting the weeks until school starts in mid-August, but my summer will carry through into September when temperatures just begin to start cooling down. Enough of that. Here are some favorites from the week:

When our grandkids come over, it's always a grand entrance. We are so excited to see them, and they are all smiles and outstretched arms for us. One day this week they came in after having been at the pool for the day. With her chubby arms wrapped around my neck, Brooklynn snuggled into me, all warm from the sun and smelling of sunscreen.  Nothing says summer like sun kissed babies.

George, our granddog, was over that day, too. We all adore George, a rescued greyhound who lives with Joe and Sam. He is the only dog, other than my darling Lilly, who I would even consider coming to live with me. He's polite and well-mannered, gentle as a deer, and he has the smoothest, silkiest coat. It feels like rabbit fur.

The taste of s'mores. I have so many great memories of camping with our kids all those years, and seeing my grandkids with sticky, marshmallow faces brings it all back again.

The sound of the guitar, while Sam softly picks out the softest, prettiest music.

Seeing Luke and Miranda and Siefer and Sawyer on Facetime.  Yes, I wish they could have been there, right in our backyard with the rest of us. And they missed out on the s'mores. But Facetime is the next best thing;)

Linking up with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story for Friday's Fave Five.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

July and Books

It's hard to believe that the first week of July has already cruised by. The four-day holiday weekend was such a treat, and pretty low-key for us.  I was nursing a bruised Achilles tendon for much of it, but it allowed me to loll about and finish up a couple of good books.  

On Sunday, the kids were all here -- with Luke and Miranda and their two, on Facetime -- for a barbecue. We grilled hamburgers, I made macaroni salad and opened a can of beans. Nothing fancy. The best part was roasting marshmallows over the fire pit and having s'mores.  Sam brought his guitar, and it was one of those perfect summer evenings.

On the fourth, Dan and his brother Mike went to help their mom with a big project involving the garage, so I holed up and finished one of my books. 

I'm trying to be more intentional about choosing books and getting in some reading time each day. Wow, have I found some good books this summer.  Here is a sampling:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It was especially poignant to read this book on a weekend when our country was celebrating independence and freedom. The story is set during World War II, and the main characters are a German boy (Werner), and a blind French girl (Marie-Laure), whose paths collide in occupied France, in the ancient walled city of Saint Malo. Werner is an orphan who teaches himself about radios, and becomes an expert in the German army. Marie-Laure and her father -- the head locksmith at the Museum of Natural History in Paris -- have fled the city, where they hole up in the home of an uncle. Through her father's position at the museum, Marie-Laure is given access to a lab where she learns a lot about shells, snails and mollusks. Her fascination and knowledge becomes an integral part of the story line. One of the characteristics of a good book is one that teaches me something. Through this book, I learned more about World War II, and a lot about radio technology and snails! It was so beautifully written. Perhaps because one of the main characters was blind, the author awakened my senses in hearing and feeling much of the story line.

The Last Chapter by Gene Amole. This is a collection of newspaper columns written by Rocky Mountain News columnist Gene Amole, when he learned that he was dying. He chose to continue writing his column to share thes journey through his final days.  The collection spans the period of six months before Amole passed away in 2002. I saw this book at a used book store a couple of months ago, and picked it up because I loved reading Gene's columns in the Rocky.  There are some other books of his columns, and I'll look for those now, too. I love the writing style of skilled newspaper journalists. Years ago, I worked for a man who was a former sports journalist, and I learned more about writing from him than I did in my four years of college. I'm impressed by writers who can pump out columns day after day, express themselves so concisely, and come up with something worthwhile to share. 

There's a list on my sidebar of other books I've been reading. I only list the titles I would recommend.  The series on the American Revolution by Laurie Halse Anderson is for readers ages 10 and up, but it had me on the edge of my seat!