Friday, August 28, 2009

Dogs and Cats and Kids... oh my!

This is my handsome cat, Tiger. He is one of the strays who adopted us when we moved here. If you have been around my blog for a while, you have seen him before. He definitely lives a life of luxury now.

Last week, Katie was sick and had to go to the vet. We had her in her carrier, ready to go. Tiger came over to check on her. He looked very concerned for Katie. (She's doing better now.)

My three nieces had their first day of school this week. I picked them up from school and took them home, then took this photo. You can see how happy they were to see Sammy after a long day at school! Sarah (in the middle) got her braces about two months ago. At first she was too self-conscious to smile, but you can see she has overcome that now.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ever Heard of Lithotripsy?

Well, I had a CT scan of my kidney stone yesterday. Today I showed it to the urologist. He says I have to have lithotripsy. They don't do it in Kentucky, so I have to go up to Ohio.

When the kidney stone is too big to come out... uh... naturally, they have to break it up into little pieces. That's what lithotripsy is. They hit it with shock waves until it breaks apart. You have to be asleep, because I guess it would be painful if you were awake. Oh, great!

My sister has had it done, and says it isn't too bad unless they have to put a stent in... then it hurts every time you move for the next few days, or however long they want to leave it in... Ouch!

I am not usually such a coward, but this has me cringing. I don't have an appointment yet... they will be letting me know. Yuck!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm Out of Commission Today

I am dealing with a kidney stone at the moment. I will write more later. My nieces had their first day of school yesterday. I picked them up and they were all excited. I have a cute photo to show you... as soon as I get this kidney stone over with.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Morning After the Party

At my house last night... fifteen people gathered for the evening to taste wine and nibble on cheese, fruit, veggies and scallops wrapped in bacon. Old friends got together. New friends were made. There was much talk and laughter. We tasted a variety of wines from Italy, brought by the "wine lady" who was both knowledgeable and fun. We also tasted wines that each guest brought to the party.

The evening started out with wine and a table full of colorful food. (I wish I had taken some photos to show you, but I just got swept up in greeting guests and there really wasn't a chance.) Then we moved to the dining room for a selection of desserts. There was candlelight and conversation. Then we went outside to talk some more, on the deck lighted with candles and lanterns, under the gazebo and surrounded by hanging ferns. Enjoying a perfect late summer evening.

It was a nice party. This morning I am washing wine glasses and enjoying some leftover cheese. Tonight, it's on to a minor league baseball game with my sister, brother-in-law and three nieces. I think it's the last game of the season, and the girls go back to school next week.

Friday, August 21, 2009

My Big Fat Saturday Night

We are hosting a wine tasting party at our house Saturday night. The wine expert brings all the wine so we don't have to worry about that. We are serving cheese, crackers, fruit and other light snacks with the wine, then coffee and desserts at the end. I have the wine tasting area set up in the kitchen/hearth room and the desserts in the dining room.

Last night we bought cheese... all kinds of cheese. Now I have to figure out how to serve them. I don't even own cheese knives. I saw them in a Williams Sonoma catalog... one kind for soft cheese and another kind for hard cheese, but it didn't specify which goes with which... I wonder, do they come with instructions? I don't have cheese boards either, or those little signs on which you write the type of cheese. Oh dear!

I will have to find some good produce. My local grocery never has ripe pears. Also, I would like to have crudites. I will have to cut them myself because the ones in the store never look really fresh.

I have made a cheesecake and some brownies, and plan to make some key lime squares with a macadamia crust. The cashier at Kroger's suggested I just buy them at Sam's Club... are they as good as home made? I didn't want to take the chance.

Oh, and wine glasses... we have twelve for red and twelve for white. Should be enough for twelve people, right? What if someone wants to start over with a new glass? My sister suggested we need buckets to pour the wine into if they don't want to drink it all. And little pitchers for water to rinse the glasses?

Will people expect more than cheese, crackers and fruit? Am I making this too complicated? Am I obsessing about this too much? Have any of you ever hosted such a thing?

Update: I'm not going to worry about cheese knives. I'm going to use these cute spreaders I already have. They are inspired by my love of the beach, as you may notice!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kentucky Life, etc.

Did you see Barney Frank on the news last night? He's my hero. If you saw him you will know why.

Can someone tell me why, every time I go into a waiting room, doctor's or dentist's office around here, they have a big television on the wall broadcasting Fox News?

Why did I ever move away from Philadelphia?

Another Movie I Loved

Cassandra Mortmain is a seventeen-year old girl living in an old, ramshackle castle in the English countryside. She lives with her family, eccentric and irrepressible characters all. They are penniless but it doesn't seem to cramp their wit or their style. The good-natured but rather befuddled father is struggling to be a writer. The much younger stepmother is his "muse". Formerly an artist's model, she inhabits the castle with dramatic flair, dressed in an ancient tea gown. Cassandra's older sister is a beauty, dreaming of love. Cassandra writes in her journal... thus, the narration of the story.

The movie was based on the book by the same name. It was written by Dodie Smith, a British writer. She has written a number of other novels, but I had never heard of them except for The Hundred and One Dalmations, which of course, was made into a movie too. When I read the book I Capture the Castle I loved it. When I heard a movie was being made (in 2003), of course I had to see it. I loved it, too. The movie captured the book perfectly for me. No book made into a movie had made me feel that way since "To Kill A Mockingbird".

Some of the adjectives used to describe this movie in reviews are: effervescent, winsome, and irrepressible. I agree. I love all these qualities in a movie.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day

Over the weekend we saw "Julie and Julia". I really enjoyed it, because I love cooking and I love Julia Child. I have those things in common with Julie Powell, who wrote the book. I also loved Amy Adams playing Julie Powell. I would pay a million bucks (if I had it) to look like Amy Adams!

Seeing Amy Adams reminded me of another movie I saw, which has received little attention in the wake of all the movies she has made recently. It's called "Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day". It stars Amy Adams and Frances McDormand. They are both wonderful in this movie! It was funny. It was touching. I loved the period look of it... from the 1930s. The clothes, the cars, the interiors. It was so much fun! Amy Adams sparkled, was endearing and funny all at once. Frances McDormand did what she does best... from understated humor to downright slapstick.

I feel I was lucky to see it. It was a British/American production that didn't run in many of the giant cine-plexes. When we lived near Philadelphia, there was a small independent theater that we were lucky enough to live close to. It showed the best little movies. I miss it terribly.

Anyway, if you haven't seen "Miss Pettigrew Lives for A Day" and your tastes are anything like mine, you should see it.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Perils of Shopping... Keep Me Out of the Stores!

You know how you go into a store (i.e., Target) to buy one little thing? And end up with a cart full of stuff? Well, I seem to have that problem with Home Goods.

For example... this morning, after writing about not being able to find my napkins, I finally found them. However, I was surprised how old and ugly they were. So, I decided to go shop for new ones. I went to my local Home Goods and found some nice ones that were on sale. Yay!

The problem is... I also found some new framed art while I was looking. It was framed art incorporating pictures of sea glass! They looked a bit like this, but in different colors and arrangements. I couldn't resist them!

I have recently gone crazy over sea glass. It appeals to my love of the sea and the beach. All my life I have longed to live by the sea. But it has never worked out that way. Family, work, all the usual circumstances... have kept me landlocked to this point in my life. I have dreams of retiring near the sea; however, with our retirement accounts declining with the economy and family demands, that may never happen. I have tried to compensate by incorporating little touches of the ocean wherever I can in my environment.

I recently discovered sea glass for sale on Ebay. I now have a small collection. I have been finding interesting ways to use it... filling small glass dishes, nestling it among candles, etc. Anyway, I could not resist the sea glass art. I bought four of them. At first I thought I would put them all in my bedroom. Then I thought they would look nice in the hallway, which has been bare until now. In any case, I walked in looking for napkins and walked out with napkins and pictures. I didn't plan it, but they were calling to me. That's how it happens. I just have to stay away from stores! Does anyone know what I mean?


We are having people over this Saturday, and I am in over my head! I started out this morning with all good intentions. I was going to fix up the tables and have everything all set up. Easier said than done!

In our day to day life we live casually. We eat in the breakfast room and use the same tablecloth and napkins all the time. When we have company, I get out the good stuff. You know... the big table cloth to fit the table with extra leaves. Coordinating napkins. Serving platters. The whole deal. When we moved here three years ago, we moved from a large four bedroom house to a small ranch. So, I don't have room to put all the stuff we use only occasionally. I have developed clever little places to stash these things between uses. Well, of course, now I can't find them!

I had a huge platter that was always getting in the way. It's a beautiful, antique, flow-blue platter that was too big for the china cabinet. I stashed it somewhere, and now that I have a chance to use it, I can't find it. I had different color napkins to go with different tablecloths and place mats and runners. I remember sorting them very neatly and putting them in a box. Now I can't find the box! I am losing my mind!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Never a Dull Moment on Rural Kentucky Roads!

Driving along Route 42 in rural Kentucky, sometimes I notice funny or unusual things. A few weeks ago, I found myself driving next to an old VW bus with a canoe strapped on top. Then I noticed the license plate on the bus was from Washington state. That in itself is pretty unusual around here. As I passed the bus, it became even more interesting. I noticed that the man in the passenger seat was playing a saxophone!

That sight made my day! Usually, all I see around here is SUVs driven by soccer moms, pickup trucks with men on their way to work, or the occasional farmer on a tractor. But... a VW bus from Washington, with a canoe on top and a passenger playing the saxophone... I wish I could see that every day! It appeals to my appreciation for quirkiness and makes me miss the big city where you never knew what you might see.

This morning, on my way home from the store, I saw another sight that amused me. A man driving a Model A... talking on a cell phone! Nostalgia with a modern touch...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Where Have I Been?

We just got home. Five days in Milford, Michigan... where my husband grew up, and where his brother and sister still live.
It's a small village, located between Ann Arbor and Detroit. Some have compared it to Mayberry (you know... where Opie grew up). It's a small town with a lamp-lighted main street full of small, locally owned businesses.

This is a painting of downtown Milford, done by a local artist, Nancy Massoll:

Every summer they have a weekend-long festival called "Milford Memories". Main Street is lined with booths, displaying art and crafts for sale. There is food, drink, music and games for all. There is the "Cold Butt Euchre Tournament" where players sit on blocks of ice. There is the "Blind Canoe Race". A couple of years ago, my brother-in-law's dog won the "Worst Breath Contest".

My husband's daughter flew in from California with our four-year-old granddaughter. Our granddaughter had heard her mother reminiscing about summers in Michigan at the grandparents' lake cabin "up north". As soon as her mom told her they were going to Michigan, she went into her room and packed her own little suitcase. One of her wishes was to go fishing. Well, there are many, many lakes in Michigan. Many people have homes on lakes, and many of them have their own boats docked behind their house.

So... granddaughter got to go fishing! Her cousin took her fishing. Guess what? She caught two fish! She was SO excited! She got to go swimming in the hotel pool, played with the dogs at her aunt's and uncle's houses, and played with kids from a girls' soccer team who were also staying at our hotel.

On Thursday, my husband, his brother, sister and daughter all played golf in a special tournament. It is held every year and it is called "The Yeager Memorial". It honors my father-in-law, who was a beloved football coach for years in Milford, and who loved golf. Our daughter and granddaughter flew all the way from California to take part in it.

During our visit, we saw old friends. We shared a couple bottles of wine and a lot of laughter. It was a nice trip. And now, it's good to be home again.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Friends and Family

This weekend we visited our friends in Philadelphia. I love walking down the old, tree-lined streets.

This is one of my favorite places in the city: Rittenhouse Square.

This is a store I love to visit: Anthropologie. They had the store decorated in an interesting way:

We walked to one of my favorite little restaurants:

We came home on Sunday, in time to celebrate my mother's 85th birthday. My whole family got together for a picnic at a local park.

Erin cutting the cake:

Feeding the fish:


Mom and me:

The littlest guest plays chess:

Finally, there was a goose parade, in honor of Mom's birthday!