Category Archives: Laurie Ryan

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? :)

The Ides of March

P1100908This is my poor little shamrock plant that needs watering more often than any of my other plants…and I keep forgetting that. But it always forgives me and continues to hang in there, even if it’s not exactly full and lush.

So I was searching out information about the Ides of March and came across a Smithsonian blog that was both depressing and fascinating. Since it wasn’t my plan to talk about depressing stuff in this blog, I’ll simply add the link for anyone interested in ten reasons to beware the Ides of March. :)

Smithsonian Blog

Next, I hit history.com for some information. I suspect most folks know that the Ides of March is forever connected with the assassination of Julius Caesar, which happened on March 15, 44 B.C. However, the Ides of March became a phrase much earlier, around 753 B.C. when a ten month calendar began with March. Ides refers to the full moon, which at that time was around the 15th of the Month. So the Ides of March initially marked the first full moon of the new year. Being a moon child, you all probably know I’m a softy for any lunar reference.

FYI – the full 365 day Roman calendar was instituted in 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar made the year 365 days and set it to begin on January 1st. I had a hard time pulling this all together in my head, by the way, until I remembered that B.C. years would go backwards, not forward. So Caesar could change the calender in 46 B.C. because he didn’t die until 44 B.C. Duh. Sometimes, my brain just can’t wrap itself around things that aren’t part of my contemporary world. I guess that’s why I don’t write historical stories, eh?

What’s your favorite season of the year?

So…it’s been another strange winter. While others around the country have been deluged with rain, snow and wind, our Pacific Northwest weather has been quiet and almost balmy in comparison. Even our mountains are desperate for snowfall. We’re all concerned because that snowpack feeds our rivers and tributaries, and by default, irrigates our crops.

These hills should be covered in snow.

These hills should be covered in snow.

As someone who likes seasons to look different, I wish (and I say this very quietly) we could have a bit more snow in winter. This is our second year of no real measurable lowland snow, and I love a walk in the snow. I’m the first one out the door when the flakes begin to cascade down. I like Spring to be full of rain and flowers. Summer to be warm and rejuvenating. And Fall to be alive with changing leaf colors, then fading into the hibernating chill of winter.

We are very, very lucky to live here. We have our issues, mostly flooding when we get too much rain. Sadly, that’s meant some loss of life, most recently with the Oso slide in early 2014 where we lost 41 people. So I’m not complaining. I know we are lucky.

I just wish I’d seen a bit of snow.

How about you? How did Old Man Winter treat you this year? Were you part of the January blizzard in the Northeast? Sunny and warm all winter long? Is winter your least favorite season? Which one do you like best?