Author Archives: Laurie Ryan

Summer Re-cap

Well, it’s been a great summer and doesn’t look to be winding down anytime soon. It’s been crazy warm and we have several friends who have joined the air-conditioning revolution because of it.

Still, we’ve managed to have some fun. First and foremost was my niece’s wedding in June. It was an awesome night for an outdoor reception and we danced until we couldn’t anymore. No, really, we couldn’t. It was my brother’s backyard and we stopped at 10 to make sure the neighbors didn’t get upset. Here’s the awesome couple with my Dad.With Dad

Immediately following that wedding (the very next day) was a 60th birthday party for me, which was low key and just how I like it. I’m not big on being the center of attention, so a nice, relaxing lunch thing in our backyard was perfect. We didn’t even take any pictures (thank God) but I do have a couple of one of our granddaughter’s from that day that I’ll show you. Of course, Dude being in the pictures is a bonus, right? :)

And some of the women in our family got away for a weekend to wine taste and unwind. Okay, maybe we spent most of our time by (and in) the pool, but it was one of the most relaxing times I’ve had in years!20150717_170635

And we’ve finished with one more wedding celebration, for our youngest daughter, who chose the lower key Vegas option for her wedding, but couldn’t get away completely. It was party time again! :) Here they are heading off to get married.

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In amongst that, we did some day drives, hikes, and, for me, training for an upcoming mini-triathlon I’ve entered with my daughter. So it’s been a full and joyous summer and I’m feeling very blessed to have the family and friends we’ve shared this all with. I hope you’ve all had as good a summer and would love to hear some of the highlights from yours. :)

Cards, Cards and More Cards…

Recently, I celebrated a milestone birthday. And one of the most precious gifts I got, I got a LOT of. Cards. I love cards. I love making them (it feeds the scrapbooker’s soul in me). I love standing in the card aisle picking them out, and I love knowing that people took the time to find just the right card to give me.

Here’s the thing. I’m a writer, but I suck at coming up with just the right thing to say, in the right tone, for events requiring cards. Isn’t that strange? I love penning stories, but can’t write a jingle. Lol. So I have a healthy respect and appreciation for those who do. And I thank them. I hope they get paid well, because they dig deep into my psyche and always manage to find exactly what I want to say.

I thought I’d list a few of my faves (I keep them in a “Blessings” file that I can pull out a low moments and read):

A great sentiment:
Front: In life, there are many paths you can take and many people who share the journey.
Inside left: But it’s the special people who help you along the way, and it’s the most important people who care enough to give of themselves unconditionally that make the journey more worthwhile.
Inside right: Thank you for being one of those special people.

This one comes with a visual (I do like my wine.):
Front: P1110253
Inside: Wishing you a vintage year.
(Simple but effective and I LOVED the front of the card. Oh, I guess now you know which milestone birthday it was for me. Oh, well. It’s not bothering me…yet.)

From my wine buddy:
Front: They say a brisk walk is a great way to stay young and healthy.
Inside: The problem is the wine keeps splashing out of the glass!

And here’s simple but effective (when I was having one of those low moments):
Front: You are fabulous
Inside: If you ever forget that, please read this again.

From my older sister:
Front: You’re not old.
Inside: If you were old, that would make me old, and that is not going to happen.

My personal favorite:
Front: Holy $#@%!
Inside: What I meant was, “That’s not old.”

Oooh, just remembered another fave…
Front: Feeling thick?
Inside: Oh, thit.

And my sister-in-law received this card for her birthday:
Front: Did you know wine can actually help you lose weight on your birthday?
Inside: With a bottle in one hand and a glass in the other, you can’t pick up any cake.

Yep. Cards can congratulate, lift spirits, celebrate…anything is possible. And I tip my hat to those jingle writers. Thank you and keep ‘em coming!

Random Acts of…Dumping?

P1110086You might be wondering why I’m leading off today’s blog with a picture of, well, garbage. One morning, not too long ago, we awoke to this pile left in our driveway. A totally random collection of stuff that we then had to dispose of. We had no clue where it came from until the neighbor across the street told us they’d seen a white car unloading in our driveway. These guys just pulled in and started cleaning their car out in front of our garage! Anyhow, the neighbors, bless them, confronted the guys, who hopped in their car took off before they could leave any more, umm, stuff.

It kind of ticked us off. But more than that, it made me wonder why people do this? Why dump stuff you no longer want for someone else to clean up? I can maybe understand it in some rare instances. Like, when we visited Guatemala a few years ago, there was a lot of garbage lining the streets. Turns out, until very recently, food was wrapped in leaves, etc. All natural and biodegradable, so folks were used to just tossing wrappers. When plastic became more widely used, they kept doing the same thing. It takes a while to change a mindset and get people to realize some things never decompose. I can understand that. But this dumping in our driveway just doesn’t make sense. It seems to me, it’s just as easy to put it in your own garbage or take it to the landfill (garbage dump) or recycler.

So that’s my question for today. Why do some people do this? I’m kind of on my soapbox here, but I just don’t understand it. It’s like trying to figure out why folks throw lit cigarettes out of car windows during a hot, dry summer. I don’t get it.

And maybe I don’t want to understand. I just want folks to act responsible, you know? Okay…climbing off my soapbox… To close things out on a more positive note, here’s a few more positive things that happened on this date in history:

1793 – France passes first copyright law.
1911 – Hiram Bingham discovers Machu Pichu, the Lost City of the Incas
1938 – Instant coffee invented
1965 – Bob Dylan releases “Like a Rolling Stone.”

Hope your summer’s going well!

Gallery

TaDa!!! The New Bathroom has Arrived!

This gallery contains 2 photos.

As I write this blog, we are just adding the finishing touches to a four month bathroom remodel. I’d have never believed it would take that long, but a lot of the delays were waiting on materials. I hated having … Continue reading

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!