Monthly Archives: June 2011

My Mother Would Be Proud

“A house without books is like a room without windows.  No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them.”  This is a quote from Horace Mann.

I saw the first sentence of this quote on a plaque some years back and I found it very appropriate for our family.  I looked up the full quote a few years ago when I was taking a memoir writing class.  Our assignment was to choose a quote and then write a piece that showed how it exemplified a part of our life.

I chose this quote because of my Mother and her love for books.  I was especially pleased with the piece when it was finished.  Mom would have loved it.

I always remember my Mother with a book, she was always, Always reading.  She led by example and instilled in Ele and Me the love of books and reading. 

When I started working in Mt. Holly which was a 25 mile commute each way, I discovered the joy of audio books.  They are very expensive to buy, but my local library had a decent collection of them.  I also found that I could go to the county library’s website and request audio books from throughout the system and they would be delivered to my local library and I could return them to the local library…all for Free!  I wish I had found out about it sooner, I could have “read” so many more books during my commute.

The company of my audio books allowed me to drive those distances and not care if there was traffic or backups.  I was set.  My only fear was that I’d finish a book before I got home or before I was able to order another.  I tried very hard to always have one waiting to start when I finished the current one.  As much as my Mom loved reading, she would have been happy that I found a way to add more books into my life.

Now I’ve found a new way.  It’s called a Playaway.

It’s a marvelous little contraption that allows you to listen to a book hands free.

It’s tiny, roughly about the size of a credit card only thicker.  It comes with the strap to carry it around your neck.  You have to supply your own earphones or you can buy them from the library.

The operation of it was a little quirky until I figured it out, but now that I know how to work it, I love it.  I got it originally so that I could listen while doing the exercise bike or the treadmill.  It works great for that.

Now I’ve started to listen to it while I’m working in the basement sorting and packing.  It’s great!  Just as listening to the audio books on the long commute made the time fly by, the same thing is happening as I work toward getting ready for our move.  It’s an amazing thing.

I even figured out how to search the library website exclusively for the Playaways. 

Now if I can finish the two books that I’m actually reading, I’ll be all set.  I was reading A Discovery of Witches when it was time to leave for Florida.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: Book Cover

I didn’t feel like carrying a hardback book on the plane.  So I left off and started reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon: Book Cover

Kavalier and Clay has been hard to get into so I didn’t read that much of it while I was away.  I’ve been trying to finish Witches and I keep falling asleep.  But I will get it done.  I watch too much TV and need to get more reading done overall. 

That’s where the Playaway will come in handy.  It’s a wonderful tool and the best part is…it’s FREE!!

Haven’t posted a sunset in a while mainly because there haven’t been any pretty ones, but there was a pretty one last night.

Off to face the day and Read!  Have to make my Mother proud!!

Happy Thursday!! 🙂



Tofu Tuesday

I didn’t plan it that way, but that’s the way it turned out!

I was up and at it early to exercise yesterday with Gail and Alice.  More about that later but I’m feeling good about it.

After I got home, I had to run a few errands and when I got back Ralph said he had a hankering for Chinese food.  I always have to think carefully about Chinese food which drives him a little crazy.  I Love Chinese food, no doubt about it and we have several really good restaurants in the area.  I just have to consider where it is in the week because it can make a big difference when it comes to weighing in at Weight Watchers.

I calculated…well, it was Tuesday…I’m exercising more…I’ve been very good…OK!!  Chinese for lunch it is!!

We found ourself at one of our favorites…The China House in Woodbury.  We like it there.  It’s close, the staff is very friendly and the food is reasonably priced and Good!!

We both chose from the lunch menu which gives you soup or egg roll, your entrée and pork fried rice.  Fortunately for me, they are flexible with that.

I started with the egg drop soup.

My entrée was Veggie Delite which I requested with brown rice.

It was very tasty, but I was a little disappointed that there were only 2 pieces of tofu in it.  I think that started me on my mission…must have More Tofu!!

Orange slices and fortune cookies…Ralph says the fortunes look lucky…Hope he’s right! 🙂

When we got home I decided that I wanted to make some of the “grilled” tofu I had been making before I went away to Florida.  I had gotten some of the House Foods America tofu over the weekend (with coupons!).  I got the garlic and pepper tofu steak and one plain.  I’ve used the tofu steak before and I liked it.  I figured I could experiment with the plain.

I’ve never tried to press tofu before but I thought I’d give it a try.  This was the deus ex machina I came up with to press it.

Two plastic containers with a large mayo jar and a can of refried beans as the weight! Of course, I forgot to take a photo when the squeezed out liquid was there, but after only about 3 hours, I ended up with about a half-inch of liquid in the bottom.  I was happy with how it worked.  It’ll probably work a little more efficiently when it has longer to press.  I have another idea for a press too.  It involves two glass pie plates but I didn’t have room in the fridge at the moment!! 😉  Of course, I could always BUY one! 😉

Found out that my small skillet is big enough to do this, so I don’t have to dirty the big one! 🙂

The start of the salad which had romaine, baby spring mix, red and green bell peppers and Tofu!

The finished product with Locatelli cheese and Ken’s Lite Asian Sesame.  I hadn’t tried this before and I really liked it.

In between lunch and dinner I spent a long time in the basement working.  Got rid of a lot of cardboard boxes that where damaged from a leak we had (may still have 😦  ) Sorted through a lot of pictures, some of which I’ll share.  They are pretty funny.  I found some photos of my cousins in California from a visit I made out there.  I’m going to send them to them.  I found some of Gail’s Mom’s 65th birthday party too.  I took them right over to her.  I was afraid they might make her sad, but she enjoyed them.  I hung around for a couple of Law & Order: SVU’s.  I miss seeing them every day.

While I was working out and while I was working in the basement I was making use of a wonderful little gadget I got at the library called a Playaway.  I’ll explain it and have photos tomorrow, so watch for that!

Lots to do today, better get it started!

Happy Wednesday! 🙂

God’s Little Critters

Monday was an Up and Active day although it didn’t feel like it.  I’ve been kind of droopy getting up the last few days. Today included.  I’m not sleeping especially well for no reason I can pinpoint, but I’m sure it will work its way out.

For many years, our yard has been a haven for critters.  We have many types of birds, usually a pair or two of Cardinals and Blue Jays, lots of mocking birds and mourning doves.  We even have Cat Birds and Cow Birds from time to time.  I love watching them.  I’ve been told that they like our yard because of the way the trees protect the area near the house.  They feel safe here and that’s why they stay.

I see bunnies and their babies too.  Squirrels abound and over the last few years we’ve started to have chipmunks.  Now, I’ve always been a chipmunk fan.  Chip and Dale for instance…

Alvin and the Chipmunks (Theodore and Simon)

“Christmas, Christmas Time is Here…Time for Fun and Time for Cheer…”

Ooppps…I’m sorry, I got carried away.  But seriously, I love chipmunks.  Ralph now tells me that our chipmunks have babies and I’ve been trying to spy them, but have not been successful yet.

I did snag a few shots of the adult one yesterday.  It’s so cute, they have a hide-y hole just outside our back door.  Some of these shots are a bit blurry because I had to take them through the storm door ( think I need to clean that baby!)  But you can see how cute She or He is!

They are just the cutest things.  I’m going to keep my eye out to see if I can get the babies.  Hopefully I will! 🙂

Dinner last night was leftovers at Ele’s!  Ralph had the last of the steak fajitas and declared them yummy.

Ele and I had the left over salad.  She popped open a can of black beans which made me very happy.  I also added the leftover sautéed peppers and onions to mine.  I never thought of doing that, but it was delicious.  I think I need to come up with a recipe doing that.  I certainly have peppers at the moment so I think I’ll do it.  It gives it a whole new flavor dimension.  Wow that’s scary, I don’t usually say things like that.

Anyway, here is my delicious salad…

A bit blurry now that I see it on the screen…well we’re still working on this whole photography thing!  I added Locatelli cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.  No news there!  It was very good and very filling after my second helping.

Just popcorn and watermelon for snacks while watching Antiques Roadshow.

It was a two-fer last night which I enjoyed…although I think I nodded off during the second episode…hate when I do that…Hate to miss the oohs and aahs 😦

Got some sorting/cleaning stuff done yesterday too.  Hoping for more today.  Every day gets me closer and closer to New Mexico.  I am determined. 

Happy Tuesday!! 🙂

Father’s Day Fajitas

Got off to a slow start on Sunday for some reason.  Kind of foggy in the head, but when I got un-fogged I got to my first project of the day.  Making my Big Salad to take to Ele’s house for Father’s day.

I’m loving the pre-cut romaine lettuce in the bag.  I’ve been getting it at Sam’s and it makes life a lot easier!

With the salad ready in short order, I started on my next project…

This beauty, also from Sam’s…a seedless watermelon!

I counted the pieces I left on the rind as my breakfast!  Good one.  One container for us and one to share with Ele.  And we have another half to look forward to later in the week!  Yum!! 🙂

At Ele’s, I helped her grill the steak and chicken for the fajitas.  Actually, I held the containers for her as she placed the meat on the grill.  She’s new to grilling but overall did a fantastic job or so the meatasauruses said!  I made suggestions on when to flip it since I know how Ralph likes his steak.

Inside, I did the veggie cooking.  Red and yellow peppers and onions to go with the steak and chicken.  Marinated zucchini and mushrooms for me!  Ele kindly had everything ready, I just had to turn on the stove and stir!  I can do that!! 😉

Ralph, Patrick and Bill waiting for the eating to commence.  Alex was in the kitchen with Ele and Me talking cooking.  He thinks he might like to become a chef…Ok with us!  We love to eat!  Since Alex likes to cook, he’s going to come over to Ele’s house and we’re going to give him some pointers.  He’s excited and so are we! 🙂

The first of my two yummy veggie fajitas!  Salad on the Side!

After dinner, Brownies by Ele!

Only one, but it was perfect!

Patrick, Alex, Bill and Ralph.  Two of the Best Dads in the world!

Alex cracking up Bill and Ralph with one of his acerbic comments.

It was a great day…we all left full and happy to have had the time to spend together.   Happy Father’s Day!

Off on a new adventure today.  We’ll see how it goes!

Happy Monday!

Things Adults Can Do If They Want (PG Version)

After Weight Watchers yesterday, Gail, Alice and I went off to breakfast at the Gateway Diner in Westville.  Like a dummy, I left my camera in the car so no photos.  I had scrambled eggs and sliced tomatoes and only one slice of toast with jelly.  I felt I was off to a good day with food and felt somewhat redeemed after my gain at WW.

Boring, ordinary day filled with doing laundry, some sorting of things and planning Father’s Day at Ele’s house with Ralph, Bill and the Boys.

Ralph decided he felt like a trip to BJ’s and I restrained myself from buying anything except Aleve.  The same cannot be said for Ralph.  DVD Man strikes again.  I don’t even know what he got, but there were several.

We had planned on grabbing something to eat…Ralph had suggested Barnes & Noble but strangely, I didn’t feel like it…that’s scary when I pass up Books and Coffee!!  My brain has been hijacked by aliens or something.  It must have happened when Turner Classic Movies forced me to watch Santa Claus Conquers the Martians at 4am on Saturday morning!  I didn’t watch it all but what I saw was actually pretty funny!

We hashed around a few places we might want to eat and we came to a joint decision on our best option…

Ice Cream Kids!!

Our favorite Escape spot.  See…When you’re an Adult…you can eat Ice Cream for dinner!  We tried to get Ele to join us, but she was at a graduation party.  That didn’t stop us.  Then Gail and Alice called and said they were going to a bar to meet a friend and I said we couldn’t, we were on our way for Ice Cream.  THEN…the was a motorcycle accident and the street was blocked!!  That didn’t stop us!! We parked at the corner store and were going to walk over when the police cars drove away, so we Finally got to Ice Cream Kids!

I felt restrained, somewhat.  I actually wanted one of those huge waffle cones but they don’t have them there…thank Goodness!  I settled for a medium combo of butter almond and key lime pie…

However…someone else did NOT restrain himself…

Yes, Boys and Girls…That’s Ralph with a banana split!!  He ate every bit of it too, except for the yummy walnut I snagged while he was talking to the owner, Bill.

So that’s how our day went.

I’ve got to get myself going.  I have a Big Salad to make for Father’s Day at Ele’s.  It will be fun! 

Happy Father’s Day to all of you wonderful Fathers out there.  Thank you for all that you do for your children!

Happy Graduation and Navigating a Steakhouse

Friday was our grandson Alex’s high school graduation.  I wanted to try to accomplish something, too,  on the sorting, packing end of life and I worked sorting clothes in the basement.  I’m trying to get rid of things we don’t wear.  You never know how many clothes you have but don’t use until you see the pile and start going through it.  I worked for about an hour, but if I concentrate on doing something everyday, we’ll get through this.

Because of weather, we weren’t sure if we were attending the actual graduation or not. Clear weather, graduation outside, yes we were going.  Rain, graduation inside, not enough seats, not going.  Either way we were planning on dinner out afterwards.

Ralph and I needed to get something to eat because we knew dinner would be late.  We decided on Ralph’s old favorite In A Pickle.  I had my usual caprese salad, romaine, tomato and fresh mozzarella.

Hadn’t had it in a while and I enjoyed it!

The weather stayed clear and we were able to go to the graduation itself.  It was a packed house and we had to stand the whole time but amazingly the ceremony was over in about an hour and a half minutes.  That was pretty good with a class of over 400 students.

That’s Alex with the long stride heading to pick up his diploma. I did not plan for the Big Headed Man to be in my shot.  He was clueless that there might have been anyone else trying to take photos!! 😦

Alex heading back to his seat With his diploma!  Without the Big Headed Man! 🙂  Congratulations, Alex!!

The interesting bug on the back of the Big Headed Man.  If he hadn’t been so annoying, the Man not the bug, I would have told him it was there.  As it was, the bug was still there after the ceremony as he walked away!! 😉

Alex-in cap and gown with Dad Bill, Grandpop Ralph, Brother Patrick and Mom Heather.  We’re very proud of him for what he’s accomplished.  He even won an award of $500.00!! Very cool!

We then headed to the Texas Roadhouse for dinner.  I wasn’t thrilled because of the whole “what does a vegetarian eat at a steakhouse” thing.  Plus they were VERY busy and we were told we had an hour wait.  It turned into about an hour and 20 minutes and by the time we got our food it was 9:45pm. 

Anyway, although I have no photo I asked for an entrée sized house salad.  It was actually quite good.  It had lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cheddar cheese and hard-boiled egg.  I had it with low-fat ranch dressing on the side and did the old dip the fork in the dressing routine.  It was quite good and I think from now on I’ll order that at a steakhouse rather than the Caesar salad.  More protein for me.

I was worried that eating so late and the effects of the whole week of being in Florida and then coming home would give me trouble when I got to Weight Watchers this morning.  Well, I did gain a pound.  That could be a result of eating late last night or possibly due to having been weighed on a scale in Florida last week and at home this week.  Possibly could have been all that potato salad in all the Greek salads I was eating.  Nevertheless, I think it wasn’t too bad under the circumstances.

I’m still 2 and a half pounds from my personal goal for WW.  I’ll work hard this week and see where it gets me.

Just got back from Verchio’s Produce and I’m now armed with plum tomatoes, green and red bell peppers, strawberries, cantaloupe and pineapple.  I’ve got a Big Salad to make for tomorrow.  We’re having dinner at Ele’s for Father’s Day.  Bill and the Boys should be coming.  That will be fun.

So now to get some work done around the old homestead.  If I do something EVERY day…we’ll be there in no time!!

Happy Saturday!! 🙂


What Boys Do When We’re Away

Wednesday night when I got home from the airport there was basically nothing easy for me to eat because Ralph was eating frozen pot pies (his request) which I had stocked upon before I left. 

He also ate out a lot too.  I was hungry so we took the long ride (3 blocks) to Picasso’s Pizzeria.  The staff is always nice there and the food is good.  I made it easy on myself and with an eye toward getting back on track on my eating I just had a large Garden Salad.

This is the local restaurant that has the delicious balsamic vinaigrette.  I’m not sure what they do to it, but it’s so good and when they deliver they send you Extra which I happily consume on my own salads. 🙂

Thursday Ralph had a doctor’s appointment for a checkup and after that we decided we would take the ride (2 blocks!) to the Colonial Diner in Woodbury. Ralph ordered a Santa Fe Salad that had grilled chicken.  I ordered the Balsamic Spinach Salad.  It has spinach, mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes.  It actually comes with chicken and sausage but of course I ask for it without.  No one has ever suggested that I get it on the side and allow Ralph to have it.  This time the waitress did.

Ralph ended up with SO much meat that he only ate half of his salad and had it to bring home for dinner.   He was glad to have leftovers for dinner!

My salad…

I ask for the dressing on the side and with some saltines on the side as well, it’s very tasty and filling.  I had coffee with it…can’t get enough of it now that I’m home!

While I was away, I could tell by talking to Ralph that he missed me.  He tends to be a joker though and decided to create a little gift for me when I got home.

You may remember my shrine that I created for myself for meditation.  You may remember the lovely picture of Buddha that I had there.

This is a close up for you to see the detail.  I love this picture.  It was given to me by my friend Tori who I met while working at Memorial Hospital.  She left several years ago and is now in the Marines!  I’m very proud of her and I’m excited that we have been able to reconnect on Facebook.

When I arrived home on Wednesday night, Ralph kept following me around each time I walked into the bedroom.  I thought he was just trying to not miss any of my chattering about what had happened on the trip.

Finally in exasperation he said, ” Have you looked at your meditation shrine?”  I told him I hadn’t and he suggested that I do that.  When I looked at it, I started to laugh hysterically!

This is what I found in front of my other Buddha picture…

Do you understand now why I go a little crazy sometimes?!?  Yes, that’s a Hershey Kiss dish he’s holding.  He likes to fill it and tempt me with them.  Sometimes it works!  I can’t believe the detail that he got in recreating it.   He’s amazing!

Stocked up on romaine, baby spring mix and watermelon at Sam’s Club last night.  Gotta keep this momentum going.  I’m hoping for a good result at Weight Watchers tomorrow morning.

Tonight is our grandson Alex’s graduation.  That’s very exciting.  I hope the weather holds out otherwise we won’t be able to go to the ceremony because it will be held inside.  After the ceremony,  I believe there’s another steakhouse dinner in my future…that’s always fun…:-( But I’ll work it out and we’re both so proud of Alex!!

Lots to do today, so Happy Friday!! 🙂