Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

Shine on, Shine strong, Neil Diamond!

Time travel warning. I’m about to revert to a 17-year-old teenager again, but first, I need to give you a bit of background. 31 years ago, my mother and I took my then 8 year old daughter to her first ever concert. Neil Diamond. Even though she covered her ears at some of the noise, it was a night she’s always remembered. Me, too.

Flash forward to Mother’s Day when, as a combination Mom’s Day/birthday gift, my daughter repaid the favor and took me to see Neil Diamond. Here’s where I revert. 20150510_165029We were on the freeway, with me having no idea WHERE we were headed, when a Neil Diamond song pops up on her sound system. I’m like…”Neil!” and she’s like “Yessss!” Still took me a minute to clue in, but then it was one of those OMG, OMG, OMG moments, you know? I just couldn’t believe it. Then I erupted with sheer joy. We called my mom first, because she was with us so long ago. She laughed and definitely enjoyed our enthusiasm. Then we called my husband, who’d been keeping Christie’s secret for three months! We spent the rest of the drive up singing Neil Diamond songs and reveling in the memories and the anticipation.

Everything fell into place with this, from my daughter seeing the concert ad at just the right time, to us lucking into a parking spot one block from the venue that had an easy out. We had a great dinner at a trendy little restaurant. Then we settled in our seats…row frigging nine from the floor!!! We didn’t even have to look at the tv screens, we were that close! 20150510_193703

Neil Diamond sang without intermission for 2 hours and 10 minutes! And he’s doing concerts every other day…at the age of 74! I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

That man hasn’t lost his touch. He got me through some very rough teenage emotions and that emotional bond to his message was right back in place on this night. His voice is strong, his presence equally so. He had us all crying and swaying and clapping and singing and hugging. It was amazing.

It was a night of laughter and high emotion and I’m so grateful to have been there. And so grateful for my daughter’s HUGE gift to me. I turned 60 two days ago. And 60 is looking pretty darn awesome, thanks to all the wonderful people surrounding me. And to one amazing night that made me feel seventeen again, a youthfulness that has lingered in the days since the concert.

So many, many thanks to my daughter for a gift that I will remember FOREVER…in Blue Jeans!

The Diamond is shining strong! And I am, at the moment, feeling young again.

Beaches, Omelets in a Bag, and the Spruce Goose

Hubby and I recently got the opportunity to spend a weekend on the Oregon coast with one of my daughters and her family. It was great, because enough distance separates us that we haven’t gotten much chance to get to know her fiance’s two children and haven’t gotten oodles of play time with our five-year-old granddaughter. We also got a rare chance to meet our daughter’s future in-laws and found them to be interesting, down-home folks (like us!). :) It was a long drive for us, close to seven hours each way, which is tough on my husband’s bad back. Next year, we’ll have to try to find a place that’s less of a drive for us. But for this year, we made it work.

We had an awesome time. The beach was basically right outside the home’s back door, so lots of beach walking. Town had little shops to visit, and we played games, both card and board. And visited. And ate.20150516_160359

Since we’ve done cabin weekends before, we got to introduce the other set of grandparents to one of our favorite breakfasts…omelets in a bag. Have you ever done that? It’s great for feeding everyone omelets at the same time. Boil a big pan of water, then prep and set out all the ingredients you want for omelets. Eggs, mixed together. Then ham, onions, spinach, peppers, cheese, whatever else you might want.

Each person takes a quart-sized freezer bag and writes their name on it in permanent marker. Add ½ cup of egg to the bag, then whatever ingredients they want to the bag and de-air and tightly close the Ziploc. Two things to note here: First, only ½ cup of egg. More and it doesn’t work well. Second, if you add no ingredients, just the eggs, the eggs will turn green for some reason. I don’t know why. So we always make certain there’s something else in with the egg.

Anyhow, all the omelet bags get tossed into the boiling water for 20 minutes and voila! You’ve got individual omelets for a group. It’s that easy, and they taste great!

I learned something while on this trip. As much as I’m a water person, I wouldn’t want to own a place by the sea. Being right there on the sand dunes, the sand got EVERYWHERE. It was insane, and not something I’d want to deal with regularly.P1110145

En route home, we decided to break up the drive with a stop at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. Do you remember the Spruce Goose, the largest ever amphibious plane built by Howard Hughes? It is the main showpiece in this museum and we got to tour it and sit in the cockpit. That was a blast.DSC_0034A

But after a couple hours touring, it was time to get back on the road for the rest of the long haul home. We arrived to a cat who was so happy he wasn’t alone any longer, he wouldn’t leave us alone. Of course, that did eventually settle into a righteous indignation in Dude, since he tried to hide and stay outside all night.

He got over it. And we survived the long drive with a nice set of memories to tide us over until this bathroom remodel is done. By the way, it’s moving forward and getting closer. I’m guessing another 2-3 weeks and we’ll be pretty much done. Yay! Pictures will be forthcoming after that!

I hope you all get to have a wonderful, sunny week!
Laurie

Waiting on Peaches

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This is our lone little peach tree. It’s got a couple other fruit trees to keep it company (pear and plum and cherry) but we’ve only the one peach tree. And I love peaches. This one is called a Frost Peach and is supposed to grow well in our cooler area. It’s a hardy little tree and has been giving us peaches for about ten years now.

I’ve found out that peach yields are somewhat cyclical, with a three to four year cycle. Last year, we got enough peaches for two pies. The year before about the same. But the year before that, I made several pies, ate peaches for days on my cereal in the morning, and we canned 12 quarts to last through the winter.

I know you probably can’t see it well, if at all, from this picture, but our tree is totally full of little, baby peaches. It might be another summer of pie baking for me if they don’t cull themselves. And I am SO hopeful.

I’ve chatted in the past about how liquidy my peach pies turn out. Someone mentioned adding a little cornstarch, so I’m anxious to give it a whirl this year and hone my pie-making skills. Although, I don’t think I’ll ever make a pie as good as my mother’s apple pie. But it’s definitely passable. And I can hardly wait.

Grow, baby peaches. Grow!

A Yummy Summer Appetizer

Well, I had hoped by now to have a new bathroom to show you all. We’ve been remodeling the main bathroom in our house and had hoped to be done by now, but got slowed down by my own decision making and family stuff that took precedence. FYI – I love newly finished rooms, but the process of selecting colors and materials is agonizing. I second guess myself all over the place.

Anyhow, since I don’t have a new room to show you, I thought I’d put up my favorite appetizer, second only to fresh made salsa. I may have posted this before. I looked and couldn’t find it, but either way, it’s a great Spring and Summer dip, best with pita chips, but I use who grain tortilla chips.

Layered Greek Dip
(from my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook)

8 ounce package of cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups hummus
1 cup chopped cucumber
1 cup chopped tomato
½ cup chopped pitted Kalamata olives (I leave these off)
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
1/3 cup sliced green onions

In medium bowl beat cream cheese, lemon juice, and Italian seasong with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.

Spread cream cheese mixture into a deep 9-inch pie plate or shallow serving dish. Evenly spread hummus on cream cheese layer. Top with cucumber, tomato, olives, feta cheese, and green onions. Cover and chill for 2 to 24 hours.

It’s fresh and a nice warm weather appetizer.
Enjoy!

Addendum Thursday 5/14/15:

Okay, here’s a couple pictures now that the grout is in so you can see the tile work and wall colors. Accent wall in darker blue and the rest in a somewhat lighter blue. Next week is heat ducting and flooring. For now, though, we get 4 days off and I am vacuuming and dusting! :)

 

 

Mantle of Memories

I feel like I’ve been talking a lot about family lately and should probably branch out into other topics, but these are the things I’m passionate about, so they will probably keep coming. :)

P1100955Here’s the straight ahead view from where I sit on our couch. I love that, when my day is done and I sit down to relax for the evening, the first thing I see is the pictures of our eight grandchildren and our godchildren. It’s a diverse group, since they range in age from 22 to 1, and in interests from cars and the outdoors, to basketball, Barbies, and Mega-blocs. Whew! I change out their pictures each year until they graduate from high school. So eventually, we’ll have all their graduation pictures on this mantle.

It’s a still-changing, very satisfying visage to end my day on. Both hubby and I regularly look at these pictures and realize how lucky we are to have each of them in our lives, and to watch them grow and become adults in their own right.

Also, I’m focused on family today because one of them, our daughter Michal, who keeps an eye on this blog, is having a birthday today! So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR MICHAL! Wish we were there to celebrate with you in person!

Reality Television Redeux?

So, with the onset of the new season of reality televisions shows kicking off, I figured it was time to finally figure out who watches what. Do you watch any reality tv? We watch Survivor and Amazing Race, but not much else. And there are shows that have us scratching our heads and wondering who watches them, like Marriage at First Sight (marrying someone you’ve never met…until the wedding day). Hmmm. Or Wipeout. Ouch.

Hubby and I have had many discussions about what reality shows we think we’d be good at (if we were younger and in better shape). Since he’s a bit, umm, outspoken, we figure he’d be the first one voted off Survivor. And I don’t race well. I’d be in a panic 24/7 on Amazing Race trying to push us to go faster, get further. So that’s out for me.

Big Brother? Too much drama.
Biggest Loser? Well, even if I do respect the heck out of how hard those participants work, I just don’t think I could put it all out there like that.

Hubby never has figured which show he’d go on, given the opportunity. For me, it would be a short-lived, defunct show called The Mole. This was a bit of a travel and task show, but one of the participants was planted to quietly foil the group’s attempt to earn money. And the participants had to figure out who the mole was. At the end of each segment, whoever answered questions about who the mysterious mole was with the least accuracy got sent home. This kind of intrigue appeals to me, so yep, I’d be giving that a chance.

How about you? Is there a reality television show you’d participate in, given good health and age (and depending on your marital status, if you’re into The Bachelor or The Bachelorette)? Or do you change the channel when anything like that comes on? We swore we wouldn’t get hooked on Survivor, but we’re planted in front of the tv each week, watching and arguing. Lol. Do you resist the siren’s song of reality television?

Happy birthday, Dad!

ja 2My father turned 88 yesterday. He’s in poor health and wheelchair bound, but he has such a strong spirit, it’s astounding. We call him the Energizer Bunny because he keeps going and going and going, something we’re grateful for.

What I’d really like to blog about is the relationship he and my step-mom have. They’ve been married for 38 years and had a bunch of good years, then things kind of deteriorated for a while. What I find interesting is how they are now. Both have significant health issues and live in assisted living facilities. Different facilities, mind you. Both have varying degrees of dementia, my step-mom sadly quite a bit worse than my father.

Dad says it’s good for them, that they don’t live in the same place. Yet he calls her about 4 times every day. Each Wednesday, Dad schedules a local shuttle service to take him to my step-mom’s facility, where they get two hours to spend together. And sometimes, we take him by to see her.

They are like newlyweds, holding hands, smiling, and simply sitting there gazing at each other. It’s adorable. The fights are all gone and maybe those memories with them. I don’t know. I just know that somehow, through all this mess of medical condition tacked onto medical condition, they found the beginning of their relationship again, the newness.

And I think it’s about the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen. So happy birthday, Dad. Ain’t young love grand? :)