Monthly Archives: August 2013

The three little words my husband dreads to hear…

For the first time in what seems like months, the Joneses house is relatively dust-free having come through what AJ jokingly calls phase one of our refurbishment/redecoration plans. He has threatened to send me back to work as, since retiring last year, I keep coming up with ideas for the house. He says the words he dreads to hear are “I’ve been thinking…”

Hmm, maybe I have been thinking quite a lot recently, but it’s such fun 🙂

Since August last year we’ve had the bedrooms, landing and hallway redecorated and new carpets fitted. We also decided to do something about the living room floor’s stripped floorboards which had seen better days. With last winter being sooooo cold, we noticed there were several gaps between the boards causing draughts. After much deliberation, we decided to have a new wooden floor laid by local fitters. AJ wanted it laid on the diagonal but I wasn’t too sure. I’m very pleased he managed to persuade me because I love the result. Kitchen 4

In the way of things, it left our battered old doors looking very sad, so they were replaced too. All this work was well overdue and mostly the house had been pretty neglected for several years while we were both working.

This week saw completion of the kitchen refurbishment. The kitchen is exactly what I hoped for. We had it completely replaced a few years back, but because we were at work and were unable to supervise the job several things were completed which I hadn’t really wanted. The company who carried out the work went bust shortly after completing our kitchen and we discovered that sub-standard appliances had been fitted which left us with a non-functioning cooker and a sink that looked perpetually grubby despite continued cleaning. Now, thanks to a really great local company, we have new quality appliances, a worktop I am totally in love with, a breakfast bar and extra cupboards. It still needs finishing touches, like window blinds and breakfast stools, but I’m very pleased with it.Kitchen 3kitchen 10

Of course, the problem with renovating/redecorating is it soon eats through the bank balance, so I’ve promised AJ to stop thinking for a while so both he and his wallet can recover. I’m not totally ready to be project free though and am planning to start work on the garden next. I want to try my hand at re-laying the patio and have already bought some ready-mix concrete, decorative pebbles and various tools and bits and pieces. Plus, inspired by Kit’s gorgeous and colourful garden, I have a list of bulbs and perennials to plant throughout the garden. All that should keep me busy for a while.

How about you? Do you like refurbishing your home? Hate it? What has been your favourite/least favourite project?

Irish’s Mooring Cafe and Steam Trains

Most of you know it’s been an anxious summer for my family, with parent health issues. Things are stabilizing nicely and last weekend, hubby and I got to take advantage of tickets we purchased a few months back…to ride a steam train. Hubby’s a steam-freak. That comes from growing up in the country where the neighbors built their own steam-run mill. They did such a good job, it’s currently being torn down piece by piece and reconstructed as part of a museum display. (Outdoor, of course.) 🙂 P1080498

Anyhow, we headed south to Oregon, to a small fishing village called Garibaldi. We had a great time. And I fell in love with the area. Our motel was clean, well-decorated, and friendly…and right on the harbor. We had amazing views and sunsets. The manager even provided the fixings for S’mores over a campfire outside by the crab cleaning and cooking station. I’m telling you, it was heaven! 🙂P1080616

But the best part of the whole weekend for me was a little cafe about half a block away from the motel. Irish’s Mooring Cafe was a home away from home for me. I wake up earlier than my husband (he stays up later than me). So when we have a hotel room, I feel like I keep him awake as I type away on the keyboard at 7AM. Well, Irish’s is open early to stock the fishing boats, so I was able to grab a table in the corner and a great-tasting cup of coffee.
But did I work? No. I spent the hour or two there before my husband joined me chatting with fisherman and the owner, Maighread. She’s from Waterford, Ireland. And she and her husband made everyone feel like they were sitting around the kitchen table. Although, I have to say, the food was better than I provide at my own table. Homemade corned beef hash, country fried potatoes, soda biscuits and gravy. We weren’t there long enough to sample it all, but what we tasted was awesome.

So if any of you happen to be on the Oregon coast and passing through Garibaldi (maybe on your way to the Tillamook Cheese Factory?), stop by Irish’s and tell her Laurie and Mark say hi. I tried to talk hubby into moving there, but alas…it’s not in the cards. Yet. LoL. So for now, I’ll have to settle for an occasional visit for some awesome food and conversation.P1080557

Have a wonderful end of summer weekend, everyone!

Laurie Ryan (and hubby). 🙂


Book Review: Cheyenne Amber

cheyenneamberI thought I’d read all of Catherine Anderson’s books but every once in a while I get a surprise. This is a re-issue from 1994 but has been unavailable until recently.

It’s set in Colorado in 1864. Laura Cheney’s husband and you can use that term loosely for him, has left her to fend for herself. Pregnant, she delivers the baby by herself and he is just a few days old when she’s informed that her husband is dead.

Laura has been raised in an affluent household in Boston and is ill equipped to handle pioneer life at it’s best. The situation she finds herself is at it’s worse. Her husband left her with no money, a well that has gone dry, an old mare and mule and no way to defend herself.

When her baby is stolen Laura shows that she’s one strong woman and sets out to get him back or die trying.

She heads for Denver in hopes of finding help and finds herself turning in desperation to a man with a reputation for being more Indian then White.

Deke Sheridan was raised by Cheyenne, a loner he tries to deny help to Laura but finds himself over his head with the beautiful determined widow and mother.

This hero and heroine are about as different from each other as it’s possible to get. Or are they? Especially when Love enters the scene.

I loved this story and pretty much read it straight through as I couldn’t put it down.

The Down Side of Antibiotics

Today’s blog is going to be a little different from our normal conversations “over the backyard fence”. Today, I’m climbing on my soapbox to talk for a moment about antibiotics.

Most of you know that my Mom has been in the hospital a couple of times over the past 2+ months. The reason for this is an intestinal bug called Clostridium Difficile. “C Diff” for short.

C Diff is nasty. It’s a bacteria that normally lives in your colon, but doesn’t rear its ugly head unless something upsets the balance of good and bad bacteria. Something like taking antibiotics, which kills bad stuff, but also kills the good bacteria that suppresses C Diff.

My mother got bronchitis in May. It took two rounds of two different antibiotics to get her feeling better. Yet because of those antibiotics, we almost lost her. No one told us how important it was to take Probiotics (good bacteria) and eat yogurt while taking the antibiotics for the bronchitis.

The only way to get over C Diff is more antibiotics. Everything we’ve been told or researched about it indicates this bug is antibiotic resistant. There are only 2 or 3 drugs it will respond to. And it can take 6 months or better to get past it.

Mom has had three hospitalizations in the past two and a half months. Like clockwork, each time she finishes an antibiotic regimen, the symptoms come back 4 days later. It’s been a frustrating time, since she loves living independently at age 89 and has spent more time in the hospital or with one of us kids (not that she minds that. 🙂 ) than she has at home, it seems.

So here’s my soapbox. If you take any antibiotics, especially broad spectrum ones like Cipro and Amoxicillin, please, please make sure you are eating yogurt and/or taking Probiotics (acidophilis lactobacillis) during and after the medication regimen.

And pass the word along. I was shocked that neither myself or anyone else in my family knew about this. Where have we been?  So I just want to do my part to get the word out there a little further, because this is an ugly little bug.

At the time I’m writing this, Mom seems to be doing better with this intestinal bug, but is still not feeling up to snuff. Getting her energy back will take time, I know. But she’d sure like to resume her normal life.

For more information on C Diff, I suggest the Mayo Clinic
site. It’s my go-to site for medical research.



Good morning to each of you and happy summer. Wow! can you believe that fall is almost here and the end of our fair season. We have one more camping trip planned and a fun week at State Fair. I … Continue reading

New Cover and Exciting Credit

I have a new story coming out from Sweet Cravings Publishing and when I sent in the cover questionnaire, I let the artist, Dawne Dominique (who is fantastic to work with and really can interpret a questionnaire to nail the cover) know that I had some pictures of Edinburgh that might work for the cover. When she was ready to work on it, I sent her about twelve to choose from. She did a fantastic job and I adore the cover since it absolutely captures the essence and magic of the story (and the setting). I’m also super excited that I will be credited for the background pictures used on the cover. My first photography credit! How cool is that?

I’m going to share a few of the pictures I sent her as well as the final cover. Isn’t it awesome? Have a wonderful week. I’m hoping for one where everyone I know survives.

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Chautauqua Lake, the Beach Boys, and Aunt Sis by Valerie J. Patterson

           So, Steve and I thought we’d get away for a few days to one of our favorite spots.  It was time for our annual wedding anniversary trip, but Steve had informed me sometime in June that we would not be taking a full vacation in August, but that we would take a full vacation sometime this fall.  I was okay with that so long as we still went away to celebrate our anniversary.

            We left bright and early last Thursday morning, headed toward New York and the Finger Lakes Region.  Plans included a comedy show on the beach featuring three well-known comics Thursday evening.  We checked-in to our hotel, got settled in, and went for a bite to eat.  I was looking forward to a seat on the beach and comedians evoking fits of laughter.  I was ready to relax, unwind, and enjoy the cool breeze off the water.  I was even hoping for a glass of wine to be in that mix.

            It rained.

           Nope, that’s mild.

       The sky unleashed torrential downpours that were relentless.  Somehow, Steve managed to salvage the evening with a drive and a light, intimate dinner in our hotel.

            Friday—our anniversary—dawned, well, drearily.  We slept late, which felt so very good.  I never sleep in.  Ever.  I long to sleep in, but my internal clock wakes me and my mind runs to all manner of subjects that can’t be put off.  We had a very leisurely breakfast then drove to the Chautauqua Institute and did some sightseeing.  The grounds of the institution are so peaceful and serene.  There were hand-laid brick streets lined with huge, aged trees that shielded walkers from the sun, which did eventually shine bright and hot.  There were lush, colorful gardens, and a huge, inviting water fountain in the center of the grounds where children cast in coins while making wishes.  I don’t believe in wishes, but I believe in prayers, and as I cast in my coins one at a time, I said quick, little prayers.  There were artisans selling exquisite wares, their tents lining both sides of the streets circling the center of the grounds.  Steve and I sat on a park bench savoring chocolate candies and sipping cold water.  I was completely at peace right there.  My surroundings invigorated my creativity and I smiled thinking about working on a book right there on the park bench.

            Then, Steve produced two tickets to a Beach Boys concert to be held in the amphitheater at the Institution.  It’s a small, intimate venue seating about 4,500 people, and we had excellent seats.  There were three of the original Beach Boys performing with four newer members.  Mike Love still flirts relentlessly with women of all ages.  The band is still full of fun energy.  And Hawaiian shirts were everywhere!  The concert was incredible and I sang along, laughed, cheered, whistled, and clapped until my palms hurt.  The night air was crisp and cool, a breeze filtering in between warm spectators to prevent clinging heat from settling around a person.  Every age was represented, and all had a good time if one could use the hollers and applause as a gauge.

            After the concert, we leisurely walked the grounds hand-in-hand as we talked about the concert.  We grabbed a very late, light dinner and headed back to our hotel.  It was the perfect way to spend our anniversary.

            Saturday, it all came crashing down when the shrill ring of my cell phone broke the morning silence.  My Aunt Sis—you might remember her as the aunt with Alzheimer’s who I moved to my hometown—had fallen that morning at breakfast and an ambulance was called to transport her to the hospital.  The nurse told me they suspected she’d broken her ankle.  I was instantly awake, and all that ran through my mind was that this couldn’t be happening because I was too far away to do anything about it.  Calm crept into my mind and I phoned my father-in-law and asked him to meet the ambulance at the hospital, stay with my aunt, and keep her calm until Steve and I got there.  She has a fear of hospitals because once there, she does not remember where she is or why.  I made the arrangements, packed our luggage, and we were dressed, checked out, and on the highway 45 minutes after the initial phone call.  I think that has to be some sort of record!

            About three-quarters of the way home, my father-in-law called to say the ankle was not broken, but was severely sprained and she would need a walker to get around.  He was taking her home once she was discharged.  He’d not only managed to keep her calm, but she kept him in smiles as she joked with him while they waited.  When I got to the assisted living residence, she was walking around with a friend of the family, and had forgotten the fall all together.  I heaved a huge sigh of relief, spent some time with her, and then went home to unpack.  Two mornings later on Monday, August 12th, I received another phone call, this one telling me my aunt had experienced some sort of seizure and was now unresponsive.  An ambulance was on its way to the residence.  Thankfully, I was less than a mile away as opposed to 4 hours, and when I arrived the paramedics were getting ready to load her into the ambulance.  Aunt Sis was alert enough to look at me, smile, and say, “Don’t cry.”

            I followed the ambulance as best I could to the hospital, but lost it as it sped off down the interstate.  Aunt Sis was already in triage when I arrived.  She was very disoriented and confused.  All she could tell them was that her first name was Kay, and she was born in June.  The doctor—after examination—informed me he suspected she’d actually had a stroke as he found no evidence of a seizure, and he was ordering a cat scan of the brain along with several other tests.  Within an hour and a half, her mind had cleared and not only could she tell them her full name, my name and relationship, but also the name of her last pet.  At the end of the day, diagnosis was a seizure not a stroke and she was released into my care.  We stopped to have lunch with my sister, Janis and her daughter, Rebekah, then we headed back home to the residence.

            When I left, she was surrounded by staff and residents alike, all welcoming her back.  When I called that evening, she was sleeping comfortably.  The following day, we shared a bowl of popcorn and watched TV.  Her sense of humor was on in full force, and she was having a better than “good” memory day.  She still has some testing that her primary care physician has ordered, and we have some doctor’s appointments to go to today, but I am very thankful that she is once again safe and secure and I am close by.

            Yes, we abruptly ended our trip, but I had seen the Beach Boys in person, had been surrounded by incredible beauty, had celebrated our anniversary together, and my aunt was thankfully not sporting a new cast on her right foot or walking that long road of recovery from a stoke.  Most of all, prayers were said and prayers were definitely answered.  Does it get any better than that?

                Until next time, may you find peace in your surroundings, love in the faces you gaze upon, and that your prayers have been answered.


LillyThere are pluses and minus’s to purchasing a pre-owned home versus a new one. One of the things I’ve enjoyed about this one is the garden.

We purchased it in October so the yard was getting ready for winter and even though the lady that had it, and loved it had marked the plants with names we didn’t realize all the beautiful flowers that were there until this spring when the garden came alive.

Each day it seemed new plants were showing off and one of the best were the lilies. The woman that created the yard had to have loved this flower as they were one of the first flowers to bloom this spring and they are still showing off. The ones in bloom now (picture above) have a beautiful fragrance that permeates the porch and comes into the house with the breezes we have in abundance. IMG_0058

I have lilies at the other house though not as many and I didn’t know how to plant so we’d have blooms all year. This has been a wonderful experience and one I can see a repeat of each year.

I looked up lilies with google and was surprised at the variety of blooms. I’m hooked that’s for sure and can see myself adding to the garden with these delightful plants.

Holiday (or anytime) Punch

This is a simple recipe. My Mom’s in the hospital again for the second time in two months with an intestinal bug. At age 89, that’s not the best thing for her to be dealing with. However, I’m happy to say she’s getting better with each passing day. And, in honor of that, I thought I’d put a simple punch recipe up.

This is the family’s go-to recipe for gatherings. It’s been our standard Christmas punch for, oh, twenty years or better. We still gather, those of us siblings, grandkids, great-grandkids, cousins and friends for a brunch every Christmas morning. We generally number in the 40-50 range and we LOVE traditions. Each year, we must bring the same thing. The menu must be identical to last years. And we still kid my brother for forgetting the biscuits one year (for biscuits and gravy).

Read very carefully as there is a secret ingredient. 🙂



  •  1 frozen concentrate lemonade (regular, not pink, mixed with water per can instructions)
  • 1 frozen concentrate orange juice (mixed with 3 cans of water)
  • 1 -2-liter bottle of 7-Up, Sprite, Sierra Mist or other lemon-lime carbonated beverage.

That’s it. That’s the recipe. Oh, wait a minute. I didn’t give you the secret ingredient. Okay, grab your jello mold. You know, the thing you used to make jello in that you could turn upside down onto a plate and get that solid jello round? Pour a jar of maraschino cherries, aka, secret ingredient (drained of liquid) into the mold, then fill with orange juice and freeze overnight. When you make the punch, plop (carefully) the jello mold into the punch bowl.

It always amazes me how fast those cherries go. The kids (some under ten years of age, some over) always go for the cherries.

It’s a refreshingly simple punch, but one that, in our family, will always be called

“Gramma’s Punch”

Have a wonderful Monday, everyone!

Laurie Ryan


DownloadedFileGood grief this year is flying by. Not sure reporting on the months is a good idea because it seems I just write one blog and the next is ready.

When I was a kid and then when we had kids, August was the usual vacation month for us. June seemed to early as it left a lot of summer with nothing ‘big’ to look forward to after the vacation. July worked but somehow by having it in August, ending summer with a trip like going to Disneyland seemed to be a fitting finish to the summer vacation and a sendoff back to school with the feeling of being satisfied we’d gotten the most from summer.

I just read an article titled “August – Lets Get Rid Of It” not very positive reading but it pointed out a couple of things I had wrong.
• It isn’t the top vacation month; July is. Well we did switch to Sept and Oct after the kids left home and come to think of it so did my parents.
• It isn’t the hottest month at least on the East Coast. July holds that title. Here in the Pacific NW it won’t beat this July for no rain as we didn’t have any in July. And, that doesn’t happen very often in any month.

The gemstone for August is peridot. peridot

Even though it is relatively inexpensive Cleopatra and the Ancient Egyptians favored it.

Native Americans on the San Carolos Apache Reservation mine the majority of peridot in Arizona but it is also found in Australia, Burma, China, Hawaii, Norway, Pakistan and the islands of the Red Sea. The shade of green color is determined by where it’s located. In the picture above it looks like an emerald and the Romans referred to it as “The Evening Emerald”.

Myths about Peridot are;
• It’s associated with positive energy.
• It’s believed that the stone can bring good luck, peace and success.
• It’s associated with the power to improve health, sleep and protect the wearer.
• It’s said it calms and soothes nerves.
• It attracts love.
• It more powerful when set in gold as then it will dispel night terrors and drive away evil spirits.

August doesn’t seem to be a favorite month but it holds some fond memories for us. 🙂