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May 2016

Welcome to the Neighborhood

Today - on Tuesday - we're talking about welcoming new neighbors.  I'm thinking there will be plenty of lists with great welcoming tips:  food, flowers, offers, information.

So I'm going to go off the grid a bit.  And tell you what NOT to do to welcome your new neighbors.  (And this is A Biggie.)

Do NOT let your dog meet your new neighbors before you do.


(You can read all about this Real-Life, Personally-Mortifying Incident as it happened right here.)

In short, my welcome list looks a little different than it used to:

  1. Practice SIT. STAY. COME. more vigilantly.
  2. Do all you can to keep your overly enthusiastic dog from bowling down new neighbors - who just happen to step out of their car to introduce themselves.
  3. Especially keep your dog from jumping into the open door of their car.
  4. And, really, keep them from freaking out the new neighbor children (who are unaccustomed to dogs of any type, and especially big, happy dogs).
  5. Get the dog OUT OF THERE as quickly as you can.
  6. Apologize.
  7. Apologize.
  8. Apologize.
  9. Take them a plate of brownies.  (WITHOUT dog in tow.)
  10. Apologize.

I'm still apologizing.  They give me a very wide berth.  (Crazy dog neighbor who also gardens in the rain, hangs hand knits on the fence for photoshoots, AND encourages bees. . . )  

(You should have seen their faces when they realized we got ANOTHER dog. . .)

(They remain pet-less.)  (But did have another child.)

How about YOU?  How do you welcome new neighbors to your neighborhood?


See what everyone else has to say here.


Attitude Adjustment: May Day! May Day!

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There's something about May.

I mean. . . I always expect Trouble in December.  I just know - and accept - that December will be Impossible.  Too many activities and too many obligations and too many things to keep track of on the to-do list.

But May?

May always seems to surprise me.

I used to blame kids and school and activities.  You know . . . all those "year-end" things to tie up -- with the added bonus of spring sports.  Field trips.  Awards ceremonies.  Spring concerts.  Final projects.  Exams. Late games. Rain outs. Prom. Fidgety kids.

But I don't have kids at home anymore.  I can't blame school.  No one here is taking any exams.  Or going to Prom.

But May is kicking me in the butt again anyway.  

And I never seem to see it coming.

Suddenly, it's light until 9:00.  My garden is exploding.  The "up north" place is open again.  I have a bike.  The dogs want to run.  Drinks are served -- outside.  

I want to Plant All The Things.  I want to Go All The Places.  I want to Do It All.  

I am overwhelmed.

I blame May.

Does this happen to anyone else???

What I really need is an attitude adjustment.  I need to keep my face to the sun (assuming I can find it) and just . . . 

slow down

step back


roll with it.

May is busy, sure.  But it's also grand!

(Let's get out of the shadows, shall we?)

Bloomin' Friday

Okay.  So despite the persistent cold. . . and all the rain. . . and the fact that the sun has only been shining for a couple of hours in, well, weeks now. . . my garden is popping!

Let's see what's blooming THIS week.

To start, I've got an awfully lot of these . . . 


But.  They add color.  And the bees like them.  So there is that.

I've also got this going on . . . 


There's some grape hyacinth, and the yellow bits?  Cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma, if you want to be technical).  And those pinkish things?  Weeds.  (It's called purple deadnettle, and I'm pulling it left and right.)  (Really.  It's everywhere this year.)

One of my spring favorites is going to town this year.  This is Jack Frost brunnera.


I have clouds of this all over my garden, and it is just lovely right now.

My poor, waterlogged quince is really trying to put on a show. 


Most of the blooms, though, are too soggy to look good in photographs.

This little shrub is called a fothergilla.  It's just getting started.


I love these odd little blooms -- tiny bottlebrushes . . . with a touch of chartreuse.  (You can see my blooming viburnum in the background -- if you squint a little and use your imagination.)

It's a great time in the garden!  (Or . . . at least it WOULD be . . . if the weather would settle down just a bit.)  What's blooming in your garden today?


And More Bright Spots!

Yesterday, I told you about our trip to the Phipps in Pittsburgh.  It's located within quick walking distance of Erin's former-and-soon-to-be-again campus (Carnegie Mellon), so she gave us a quick tour and showed us where she'll be hanging around (again) next fall.


The next day, Erin and Keith created a fun day of field trips . . . specifically with Tom in mind.  (Because, really.  The Phipps was for me.)

First, we went to Kickback - a Pinball Cafe in Pittsburgh.

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(This is the floor; taken from above.  Coolest floor EVER!)

Tom LOVES pinball.  As a kid, he saved all of his paper route money . . . to play pinball.


He's really good.

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He was in heaven!

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This was a great place.  Lots of machines.  Great decor.  Good food and coffee.  Nice atmosphere.  Definitely worth a visit if you're in Pittsburgh and you like pinball!

And then . . . seeing as it was Sunday and all . . . we went to Church.



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A former church -- turned microbrewery!

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Tom enjoyed a beer sampler.

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Amen.  Hallelujah.

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(Do our kids know us . . . or WHAT?)



Bright Spot

It's been a bit dreary around here lately.  Cold, too.  (Although the sun did shine yesterday.  And for that, I am grateful.  But, alas.  It appears to be back to the gloom today.)  Bleh.

Lucky thing Erin took Tom and I to the Phipps Conservatory last week in Pittsburgh -- for a much-needed jolt of blooming loveliness.  What an awesome place!

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(We found a hollow tree on the the way to the main entrance.  We may have had a little too much fun playing around inside . . . )

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(Really.  Maybe too much.)

Inside the Conservatory, there were butterflies and birds and exotic plants and water and lovely Chihuly glass.


Lots of Chihuly glass!

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And the orchids!  Oh, I so loved seeing all the orchids!

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(Really.  Orchids can really turn the tide when you're So. Sick. Of. Crappy. Weather.)

Our trip to the Phipps was just what I needed -- and a definite bright spot!

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(That . . .and spending time with Erin!)



Cooking . . . Mom Style

Mother's Day is Sunday . . . so Carole has us thinking about our Moms this week -- and those favorite dishes our Moms used to make!

Me and mom

My own Mom has never particularly loved cooking -- but she certainly has some specialities! In fact, there are some things my Mom makes that I just can't duplicate . . . even with her recipes.  Other dishes have just become "staples" over the years, and others?  Well.  My Mom's are just BETTER.

Like . . . 

  1. Potato Salad.  Although I have a couple of recipes of my own that are pretty darn tasty, nothing compares to my Mom's.  (She doesn't have a recipe.  Yeah.  She just whips it up.)
  2. Magic Cookie Bars.  I have her recipe . . . but mine never, ever, EVER turn out quite like hers!  (Brian once told me that "Nanny puts extra love in hers."  I suppose he's right!)
  3. Lasgne.  For decades, I have requested my Mom's lasagne for my special birthday dinner!  (It was a very special treat when I was young.  Because lasagne is always a bit of a pain to make.)
  4. "Grass Salad."  Who knows what it's really called, but ever since I was a child, it has been "grass salad."  (Green beans, French dressing, and dill; served cold.)  (It goes particiularly well with lasagne, I might add.)
  5. Pumpkin pie.  I've never even made one of my own!  (My Mom always brings the pies for Thanksgiving dinner.)
  6. "That Salad That No One Likes."  I can't quite remember why it's called that -- because everyone actually DOES like it -- but it has become a staple at our Thanksgiving table every year.  (It's some combination of raspberry jello and cranberries, and it's really quite tasty.)
  7. Mashed Potatoes.  My Mom makes perfect mashed potatoes -- smooth, fluffy, no lumps.  (Yum.)
  8. Blueberry Torte.  This was my Mom's "special dessert" when I was a kid -- and it remains one of Erin's all-time favorites.  (Whenever Erin comes home for a visit, my Mom makes an entire torte -- just for Erin.)
  9. Cakes.  My Mom is a Master when it comes to cakes!  Her cakes always turn out fluffy and even and pretty (from every direction).  She also has "the touch" when it comes to frosting!  (She took cake decorating classes when I was a kid -- and my birthday cakes were always beautiful.)
  10. Comfort foods of my childhood.  Although she hasn't made these for me in decades, I'll always have the fondest memories of my mom making me cinnamon-sugar toast, soft-boiled eggs, and pudding when I was a little girl!

How about YOU?  What are your favorite Mom-dishes?


Find out what everyone else has to say here.


Let the Good Times Roll

We need a soundtrack today . . . 


Once upon a time, a little boy was born.

Baby Dad

He grew up with his little sister (and, eventually, his little brother) on a farm in Illinois.  He worked hard, wasn't terribly fond of school, and always loved tinkering with things.

Dad and Aunt Nancy

He grew up and fell in love with a girl from Innisfail, Alberta.

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They got married, and had two daughters.  There were pets and cars and houses and moves and friends and hobbies and adventures all crammed in there.  

Family shot - age 10
Eventually, there were sons-in-laws and grandchildren, too.

Family 1996

Life .. . was good.

And 80 years passed . . . in the blink of an eye!


Happy birthday, Dad!

Let the good times roll.