Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

I want to wish all my blog friends a very happy and prosperous 2013.  Almost four years ago, I got into this blogging thing.  I had no real expectations.  I knew if I got tired of it, or ran out of reasonable content, I could always give it up.

What I never imagined in February 2009 was how much blogging would enrich my life and the friends I would make and the things I would learn.  Some of you, even though I have never met you in person, I feel like I've known you forever. . . a long time friend.

Thank you, friends, for all the enjoyment you have given me and for allowing me a glimpse into your life.

Bring on 2013 and all its challenges, surprises, and new adventures!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Delicious crockpot baby back ribs recipe

I knew this one was going to be great just by licking the mixing bowl for the sauce after I emptied it into the crockpot over a pile of baby back ribs!

Everyone knows I am big fan of crockpot cooking.  The lady that comes over and lets my puppy out mid-day e-mailed me one day after she had been in my house asking what I had in the crockpot because my house smelled so good!

Try this one - you won't be disappointed.

baby back ribs
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
6 cloves minced garlic

Believe it or not, I had all the ingredients the day I decided to try this recipe - even the Chinese 5-spice powder!  I had bought it not too long ago for another recipe.

Not sure where I found this recipe.  I am famous for finding recipes on the internet, scribbling them on a piece of note paper - as this recipe was - sticking it on my fridge till I try it and decide if I want to make it again.  This one is definitely a keeper!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Here comes the snow!

Rochester has had a very mild winter so far.  But that is changing by the minute.  The forecast is for up to a foot or more of snow by daylight tomorrow.  From looking at the radar maps, I have to believe the forecast.  By rush hour tomorrow morning, the prediction is for slippery roads and near zero visibility with blowing and drifting snow.

I will make an honest attempt to get to work tomorrow, but I'm not crazy!

Stay tuned!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I believe in the NRA

There are radicals on either side of the gun control issue.  I am a member and a strong supporter of the National Rifle Association.  Here’s why I believe what I do.

The NRA supports responsible gun ownership and firearm education.  I have taken at least three classes developed and sponsored by the NRA:  Basic Pistol, Personal Protection Inside the Home, and Personal Protection Outside the Home.  I have taken many more classes through a very reputable company here in Rochester, all taught by NRA sanctioned instructors. . . Defensive Pistol I and II, Home Invasion Defense to name just a few.  That Home Invasion Defense class lasted two whole days and left me bruised and physically tired for over a week.  But I wouldn’t trade all the skills I learned in that class for anything.

If you own a handgun, you owe it to yourself to take Basic Pistol. 

The NRA does not support pulling out a gun and shooting at every bump in the road.  Instead, they teach awareness and prevention.  Just one example, use common sense.  Don’t go to an area you know is unsafe.  If you wouldn’t go there without a gun, then don’t go there with a gun.  If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, walk away before it escalates.

Everyone who carries a concealed weapon for personal protection hopes the only time they will ever pull the trigger on that gun is at the shooting range.  I’m one of those.  But if I find myself in a situation where the only way out is to defend myself with deadly force, then I am ready.  I am ready because of hours and hours spent in class and even more hours in practice.  If you are going to carry a firearm for personal protection, you better be able to make many decisions in a split second.
        A bad guy is coming at me.  The only defense I have in this situation is to draw my gun and fire at him.  BUT, before I pull that trigger, I need to ask myself – Are there innocent people in the line of fire?  A bullet can travel a great distance even after going through several barriers (walls, humans,etc.)

        Can I reasonably avoid this situation by running?  Are there people nearby that could help me?

        Do the laws of the state I live in allow me to shoot this bad guy given this set of circumstances?

And those questions are only the tip of the iceberg, folks.

Without looking in my gun file, I probably could not name every firearm class I have taken – there are that many.  Every time I take another class, I find lots more things that I didn’t already know.

As for the numerous idiots on TV (mostly liberal Democrats who have little or no knowledge on intelligent gun ownership) who criticized the NRA this week for calling for a qualified armed guard in every school in America, I have absolutely no respect for their short sightedness.  None.  Zero.  Show me just ONE instance, just ONE! where a mass murderer could not have been stopped by a  qualified marksman. . . and if you carry a gun for personal protection, you better be qualified!

I have no desire to own an AR-15.  But that doesn’t mean that a responsible person who enjoys shooting this weapon at the range should be denied that right.

I hope I have helped shed light on the subject of gun control here.  Sure, it’s a hot button issue.  But let’s use common sense, people.  If you believe the answer is to take away all guns, then let’s also take away all cars.  Then we will have no more deaths caused by drunk drivers.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Morgan's first snow!

Born in August, Morgan had never seen snow before.  She loves running and playing in it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Conversations at the hair salon

I was 20 minutes early for my hair appointment this morning.  There were no magazines available that I cared to look at so my mind just kind of wandered to nothing in particular.

There were two small girls playing quietly on the floor waiting for their mom.  There was an older girl in the waiting area with her mom and another in the chair not far from where I was sitting.  I quickly picked up on the fact that these two girls were about the same age and they looked very much alike.  "Are they twins?" I asked their mom.  Now that used to be a question I really did not like to get many years ago.  When I had my twin sons in a stroller, often dressed alike, and definitely they looked alike and were the same size, I would get annoyed when people constantly asked, "Are they twins?"

This woman and I began a vibrant, often comical conversation!  She pointed to the two smaller girls playing on the floor.  They were twins too, although not hers. We shared twin stories.  Then she asked me if my sons had gone to college.  I said they both did.  Her daughters were seniors in high school and they were still trying to decide if they should go to the same college or to different ones.  We discussed the pros and cons of both sides of that issue!  My boys went to different colleges in different states.  My one fear for four years was that their graduation day would be on the same day.  Turns out they graduated a week apart so I could go to both graduations.

We agreed that the first two years with twins, your whole life is nothing but taking care of them.  I would have been bored with one baby to care for!  As they get older, they tend to be involved in the same activities so you aren't running in different directions at once!

I was enjoying this conversation so much that when my hair dresser called for me, I told her she was interrupting us!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Good old fashioned Southern football

Everyone knows I love football, especially if the Alabama Crimson Tide is involved.  Their game against Georgia last night for the SEC Championship was football at its best.  Admittedly, Alabama's defense didn't play their best.  But one thing you can depend on.  When the chips are down, the Crimson Tide digs in hard.

Alabama now moves on to meet Notre Dame in the BCS championship for a chance to win yet another BCS championship.

Roll Tide!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Molly and Morgan

Molly and Morgan in one of their quiet moments!

Friday, November 30, 2012

A new picture of Morgan

Morgan had her first obedience class today.  Here is a picture of her there.

This was a one-on-one class, quite a bit different than the traditional group classes.  I took her to a dog trainer who spent time getting to know her and talking to me.  From there, we talked about what would work best with Morgan's personality.  I work with her for 3 to 4 weeks at home, following guidelines from the trainer.  Then we go back.  Morgan tends to be shy around new people - something I have never seen in my previous three Labs.  She gave me suggestions on that but said this could be a "puppy stage" that she would quickly outgrow.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Remembering Larry Hagman

Like many Dallas (the TV show) fans, I am saddened to hear Larry Hagman died. I was a fan of Dallas from the very first episode decades ago and I don't think I ever missed a show.  In recent years, I bought a DVD set of the first year of the show and amazingly, watching these on DVD, I remembered watching them when they were first released.  Although the new series recently brought back to television wasn't as grand as the old one, it was beginning to grow on me.

Anyone familiar with Dallas knows how wicked JR Ewing could be (Larry Hagman) and we all loved to hate him!  His evil grin when he knew he had the upper hand was enough to make your hair stand straight up!

Now with the publicity of his passing, I found out things about Larry that I never knew.  Being a liver transplant survivor, he was a strong advocate for organ transplant and he worked tirelessly for the well being of transplant patients.  He had a silly, but serious, ritual he did at these events.  "Okay, on the count of 3, show me your scar!"  On cue, the audience pulled up their shirts to reveal their transplant scar.  He did this to bring organ transplant out of the closet, to let transplant patients know they should not be ashamed.

We all know that we will die someday.  But somehow, in my fantasy world, I wanted to believe JR Ewing would never die.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Could we be in for another mild winter???

I must be getting old.  I used to get excited about the snow, the more the better. . .

In western New York State, we usually have a few minor snow showers beginning as early as October.  By Thanksgiving, we have had a "major snowfall"!  Not this year!  Last year was a mild winter.  I don't remember cranking up my snowblower all winter. . . maybe I did, but definitely it was one or two times.

I resent cutting in to my coffee time in the morning to go out an blast away at a foot or more of snow just so I can get out to go to work.  Then you come inside and lay out all your clothing on the floor and whatever else is available to dry out because it is soaked. . . not a good start to my day.

This winter is starting out like last winter and I'm happy!

Besides, I have a new car this year.  And the less snow and salt I can get on it, the better.  For those of you in the South or elsewhere that does not get snow, salt is put on the roads to help cut down on accidents.  Great for traction, but terrible on cars.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Taking the dogs for a walk

Sorry, no pictures for this one.  I had a dog on each arm!  Today was the first time I took both Molly and Morgan for a walk together.  Wasn't sure how that would work out, but Morgan did great.  It is a crisp, sunny day today.

The rest of my day won't be as much fun - yard work and house work to do.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A mother's intuition

Call me crazy if you want.  My son, John, ran in a marathon last weekend, the Richmond Marathon.  Both of my sons have been competitive since "way back."  But they are smart about it too.  John trained for months for this marathon.  He knew what he was doing.

I can't explain it, but on Saturday morning, long before the race began, I had an unsettling feeling inside me.  I ignored it.  John was so looking forward to this marathon - his first - and I was happy for him.  Yet there was that nagging feeling deep inside me that just wouldn't go away.

I went on the website he gave me where you can follow the progress of the runners.  His name never appeared.  Although, later I learned that list is often not complete.

I really didn't have time to dwell on my fears.  I have a new puppy in the house and on weekends, I have a lot to do around the house.  The work is never done.

I was driving down Elmwood Avenue when my cell phone rang.  Almost never will I answer my phone when I'm driving.  But it was John's twin brother calling.  So I answered.

John had collapsed at the 25+ mile mark of the marathon.  I think my heart stopped beating at that point.  I quickly pulled onto a side street where I could stop and hear more from Michael.  I am a mother, first and foremost.  I can - and have - endured a lot of emotional and physical pain in my life.  But don't harm my children.

At that point, all we knew was John had gotten dehydrated and they had taken him to the hospital for "observation" and would most likely let him go home in awhile or maybe keep him overnight.

It was a long few days as they continued to keep John in the hospital.  I learned that when you get severely dehydrated, your kidneys go to your muscles to grab protein, which raises your protein levels and that's not good.  I was also told that had it not been for the swift action of the race organizers at the scene, things may have been much worse for John.

I am happy to report that John is home now and is much improved.  He's just working on regaining his strength.  He is the last person one would expect to have this happen.  In the last 5 months, he has run more than 600 miles.  He definitely prepared well for this race.

Thank God for happy endings.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A cute Morgan story

In the morning, after being fed and out to potty, Morgan can go on a real rampage.  She will run the length of my living room over and over.  While all of this was going on, I was getting my breakfast ready.  So I sit down in front of the television, watching Fox and Friends on FNC.  Morgan is determined to get to my oatmeal and bowl of fresh blueberries and I am just as determined she will not.  This battle goes on a few minutes till finally I've had enough.  I hold her head in my left hand and gently tap the side of her snoot with my right hand with a strong, "NO!"

"Uh-oh, I've really ticked Sherry off.  Maybe I better put on my cute face."

I am pretending to ignore her, eating my breakfast.  She very quietly and slowly is crawling up on the couch, ending up with her head laying across my left arm.  I'm still ignoring her.

Molly is watching all this wondering how she never got away with stunts like this.

Finally, I look down at Morgan.  I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.  Here was this innocent puppy staring up at me as if she was thinking, "I'm sorry.  But you still love me, right?"

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Morgan and Scout

Yesterday afternoon Morgan and I visited with one of her litter mates.  John and Karen got a black female, Scout, from the same litter as Morgan.

Their backyard backs up to a golf course and is the ideal place for two puppies to run and play!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Run, John, Run!

Any minute now, my son, John, will be at the starting line of the Richmond Marathon!  He has long been an avid runner and has run a half marathon, but this is his first marathon.

Good luck, John!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The world at 6:00 am

On any given weekday morning, at 6:00 am I am sitting with my coffee watching Fox and Friends.  The dogs are at my feet fighting over only one toy, never mind that there are other toys, enough to go around.

This morning was different.  I pulled out of my driveway in pitch darkness headed to the polls to vote.  As I approached the main road, I was surprised at the number of cars on the road for that time of day.

I voted today.  I hope you will vote too.  It is important.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Brussels Sprouts

I know, just the words "brussels sprouts" brings frowns and words of disdain from most of us!

But in my quest to incorporate more vegetables and olive oil into my diet, I poked around and found a few recipes for this unpopular veggie that sounded appealing.  In my current lifestyle - with a new, demanding puppy in the house - anything I cook has to be quick and hassle free.

Here is how I cooked brussels sprouts tonight:

equal parts butter and olive oil
brussels sprouts, stems cut off and outer leaves removed, sliced in thin pieces
a splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper

Heat a skillet on high and melt the butter with the olive oil.

Add the sliced brussels sprouts and lemon juice to the pan and stir for about a minute.

Remove from heat and transfer to serving plate.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

They really are good cooked this way!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Here is the most recent picture of Morgan.  It is VERY hard to get a decent picture of her.  She seldom is still long enough to snap a picture!  She is three months old now and I am very anxious to enroll her in obedience class.

Friday, November 2, 2012

An act of kindness

that brought tears to my eyes!

I work in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  On Halloween, all pediatric patients who are able, participate in a parade down our long hallway.  The hallway is decked in Halloween decorations, some employees dress up in costumes, and we hand out candy and favors to the children.  For those children unable to participate, the employees in the unit collect bags of treats to give to them later.

One of my friends, Jennifer, oh, this woman is amazing.  She has two small children at home, a demanding job, yet she still finds time for her passion of quilting and sewing.  For Halloween, she made cute little stuffed fish.  She handed them out to the children.

One small boy, a patient in Pediatric Intensive Care, lost his and was heartbroken.  Jennifer found out about it.  She went home, made another one overnight and today she took it to the young boy in his hospital bed.

The child's mother gave her a hug and both of them had tears in their eyes.

I am a sucker for dogs and little kids.  I have to be honest.  It is hard for me to be there for the Halloween parade.  Folks, there are some sad cases being wheeled by.  Seeing little children suffer is difficult.  But at the same time, even the most desperate cases truly enjoy the parade and the special attention.

God bless you, Jennifer.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I got off easy in the big storm, although I did just notice that a large part of one of my lilac bushes in the back yard is on the ground.  I suppose that is better than a tree limb on my house!

I never lost electricity and though the rain and wind were scary, there was no damage to my property, other than the lilac bush.

My dogs managed to bring out my sense of humor in those horrifying moments.  The rain was coming down in torrents.  The dogs needed to go out.  We got to the door and Morgan, my 3 month old puppy, refused to go out.  No way!  Molly braved the elements, did her business, then turned to look at me and just stood there looking at me.  I'm trying my best to get her to come inside out of the downpour and all she does is stand there looking at me.

Morgan would look at her and then look up at me.  As frustrated as I was at Molly, it was funny.

Over 20,000 people in Monroe County lost power and about 2500 people living along the Lake Ontario shoreline were told to leave.  During the night I heard sirens that sounded close by.  Thankfully, I escaped all that trauma!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Getting ready for the big storm!

I've done all I can to prepare for the worst if the storm lives up to its reputation!  Couldn't get my generator started though.

I'm doing laundry all day just in case the electricity goes.  I have a gas stove so that can be lit manually.  And there is always PBJ if all else fails!

Rochester is forecast to get a lot of wind and rain.

I've lived through major hurricanes down South and I've made it through a couple of nasty blizzards up here, so I will survive!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bean Soup

This time of year and into the winter, I make a lot of soup and stews.  I make large batches and freeze in serving portions.

This afternoon, I am making Beans and Grains Soup.  You soak a bag of Bob's Red Mill Beans and Grains.  I placed a large ham hock in water with onions and celery.  When that has cooked a couple of hours, I will cut the meat off the bone, remove the chunks of onion and celery and place the soaked beans in the pot to simmer.  This ham hock is no ordinary ham hock that you find in the grocery store!  No, this came from the farmer where I buy my meat.  It has a lot of ham on it.

It is sooooo good and highly nutritious.

Like a lot of things I make, there is no real recipe.  You could add a large can of chopped tomatoes or maybe pasta toward the end of the cooking time.  You can't go wrong with it!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Paleo Bread

Until this week, I had never heard of Paleo Bread.  It is for people who are on a gluten-free diet.  I found it on a blog I follow.  It seemed so unique and so full of nutritional value, that I just had to try it.

I am fortunate that I can eat anything I want with no difficulties.  There are those who can't.  This recipe, I think, would appeal to most anyone.  It has a dense texture and a pleasing taste.

Try it!

1 1/2 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/4 cup flax seed, finely ground
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 eggs
1/4 cup coconut oil (I used vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Combine dry ingredients and mix well.  Add rest of ingredients and mix well.  Mash into greased loaf pan and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Sporting clays on a nice fall day

It was a nice day to be shooting sporting clays!  Here I am with Margaret, far left, and Tom, center.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Morgan has visitors

In the last couple of days, friends have dropped by to see "the new puppy!"  Here are some pictures.

This is Hazel with Morgan.  I call her "little Sarah!"  I watched her mom, Sarah, grow up and Hazel is a carbon copy of her mom, although this isn't the best picture of Hazel.  She is a cutie!

This is Morgan with Arielle.

This picture doesn't show my shrubs to the best advantage.  When the sun shines on them they are brilliant!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A first for Morgan!

I knew it was just a matter of time, but had hoped it would hold off a bit!

From my living room, it is three steps up to the rest of the house.  Morgan has watched Molly fly up and down those steps and you could read her mind, "How does she do it?"

I left her alone in the living room for 30 seconds earlier today to put something away.  Gulp!  I turned around and there she was at my feet.  She had a look on her face of extreme pride in her new accomplishment.

Yes, this girl is a prime candidate for agility training!!!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Saturday night with the dogs!

Okay, enough of this bone.  What kind of trouble can I stir up next?

Why did Sherry have to bring this little troublemaker home?  If she isn't biting my tail or my legs, she goes after my ears.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Amazing discovery!

Hey, did you know that fall has arrived?

I was out and about this morning and I couldn't help notice the changing leaves and the cooler temperatures.

Now don't laugh.  The last week, my days have been filled with chasing after an 8 week old puppy that is a bundle of energy and into everything.  My conversations have not been more advanced than, "Go potty, Morgan!" or "Good potty, Morgan, GOOD GIRL!"

I've actually slept "almost" through the night the last two nights and have not had a messy cage to clean out in the middle of the night or a puppy to bathe at 3:00 am in the morning.

Life is good.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Black Tornado!

Here are some random shots of the Black Tornado!  She was startled when she knocked over my tote bag, but thrilled at all the "toys" she found inside.
 In this one, she had successfully dragged my purse out of the tote bag.

The picture of innocence!

Monday, September 24, 2012

J-Mac does it again

So if I say, "J-Mac qualifies for the Boston Marathon," some of you may say, "that's nice."

Well, J-Mac isn't just any runner.  Six years ago, Jason McElwain, was a high school student here in the Rochester area.  He is autistic, so the idea of him playing basketball for a top ranked high school seemed highly unlikely.  He settled for being the team manager.

Then one night, with his team up by a wide margin near the end of the game, his coach asked the other team's coach if he minded if he put J-Mac in the game.  What happened next is beyond any realm of possibility.  In less than 5 minutes, Jason scored 20 points, most of those three-pointers.

The home video of this event went viral.  I remember first hearing about it, thinking, "yeah, right!"  What happened when the buzzer went off would bring tears to even the most hardened soul.  Students stormed the court and Jason was lifted above the crowd.  Former President George Bush came to town right after that and J-Mac was introduced to him as he walked off Air Force One.  "You can call me George W," President Bush told him.

Jason now works as a baker in a local grocery store chain.  Last week I heard he was running in the Rochester Marathon this weekend and he had been training diligently for it.  Well, folks, Jason not only competed in the Rochester Marathon, he came in 15th place in his category and has qualified to run in the Boston Marathon.

Don't be surprised if you hear more about this remarkable young man in the future.  God bless you, J-Mac!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The newest Morgan picture!

Time to settle down.  Her latest trick is dragging my purse with a long shoulder strap across the floor and biting Molly's tail.  She likes the tennis ball but Molly keeps taking it away from her!

You can click on all the pictures in my blog to view them in a larger size.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Morgan is home!

My friend, Nancy, rode over with me to bring Morgan home this afternoon.  If you look at the post below this one, Morgan is the one in the second picture down!

Prior to Morgan, I have owned three Labs and every one of them cried all the way home.  Not Morgan!  She quickly curled up in Nancy's lap and fell asleep.  She slept most of the hour and a half ride home.  At one point, I said to Nancy, "There must be something wrong with that dog.  She is too quiet!"

Molly wanted to play with her, but of course, given the big difference in their size, that will have to wait.  One misstep from Molly and Morgan would be crushed.  So for now, Molly licks her and Morgan seems to like that.

I will post pictures tonight or tomorrow.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

One last visit. . .

and then Morgan comes home!

This breeder will let you visit the puppies as often as you like after they are three weeks old.  I have visited most weekends but I wasn't able to go last weekend.  I was amazed at the change in the pups from two weeks ago.  They are bigger and more alert and "bouncy"!  They discovered a hole at the base of a tree where a squirrel buries acorns.  They competed with each other to stick their noses in the hole!

This "may" be Morgan!  There are two females and I get second choice.  As I said in an earlier post, both females are almost identical in appearance, alertness, playfulness and their love of attention.

After a very active play session, all six of them decided it was time for some rest!  At this age, just days under 7 weeks old, they play hard for 15 to 20 minutes and then stop for a nap.

How could anyone not just love Labrador Retrievers???

Saturday, September 15, 2012

One week to go. . .

and the fear and excitement grows!

A week from today I bring home my new Labrador Retriever puppy, Morgan.

It's been 11 years since I had a new puppy in the house.  Am I up for the challenge of a puppy that will cry all night the first two or three nights?  And can I get her outside soon enough before she "goes" in my house?  And what will Molly think?  Molly, my 11 year old Lab, is accustomed to having me all to herself and being the Queen around here.

No, I am not having buyer's remorse.  I truly want this puppy and I spent months finding the right breeder.  But I also realize a new puppy in the house will turn my life upside down for a week or so.

Then I look at Molly and I'm quickly reminded of the rewards of having a Lab in the house that has been loved and raised well.  Morgan will be my fourth Lab dating back to 1985.  I can't imagine my life without a Lab.

Labs are extremely intelligent and perceptive.  They know when you've had a bad day.  That is when they lay their chin on your knee and look at you with those big dark eyes that say, "It's okay, I'm here.  Everything is going to be fine.  Now can we please go for a walk?"

I want to take Morgan to agility training when she is old enough.  None of my other Labs have done that and I think it would be fun for both me and her.

So stay tuned for more stories and lots of pictures of Morgan coming soon!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

My favorite homemade soup

This afternoon I made a big pot of my kale and sweet potato soup.  LOVE that stuff!!!

There really is no recipe and you can make it a lot of different ways.  But here is how I made it today.

I started by cooking a whole chicken.  When that was done, I let it cool enough to handle.  Next I poured two big cans of Swanson's Chicken Broth plus a half can of water into a big pot.  I chopped up a half bunch of fresh kale and one big sweet potato.  I let that cook for awhile and then added the chopped cooked chicken, a large chopped onion, and a large can of tomatoes with the juice.  Towards the end of the simmering time, I added a can of garbanzo beans.

You add salt and pepper to your preference.

First off, the smell coming from the stove fills the house with a wonderful aroma.  Then that first bowl is soooo good!

But the best part of all, I have six single servings that I put in my freezer in the basement, two single servings for my lunches this week, and another, maybe two servings to eat this weekend into next week.

I don't know what I'd do without my upright freezer in the basement.  I buy meat once a month from "my" farmer who drives to Rochester on the last Friday of the month.  Sometimes I can go two weeks or more without cooking dinner, just by pulling out a single serving of "something" in the freezer.  Most of the time I label things with what it is and the date.  Sometimes I don't.  That's when I have a "mystery dinner"!!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Twitter de dee

A year or so back, I signed on with a Twitter account.  I couldn't get excited about it so I let it fall by the wayside.

Enter my cousin, Rita, a Twitter addict.  She insisted I revive my account.  I didn't even remember my login name or password, but I managed to figure it out.

"Okay, are you happy?"  I e-mailed her.  "I'm back on Twitter."

I tried to revive the account and get more people/places/things to follow.  I had minimal luck.  I got frustrated.  So I sent her my login information and told her to get me connected with the ones she knew I'd be interested in, mainly Southeastern Conference college football.  She did.

That was this past weekend.  I went on a few times and noticed I wasn't getting many incoming tweets given the amount of those I was following.  Another thing that really irritated me.  I got a new follower that was a, well, let's just say it was an obscene thing and let it go at that.  I was ready to scrap this whole Twitter thing.

Tonight I e-mailed Rita and said, "I am not getting any incoming tweets.  What am I doing wrong?"

She couldn't answer that.  So I poked around some more on the site and thought, "What will happen if I click on "home"?  Whoa!  There are all the tweets!!!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Puppies! Which one is Morgan?

I went to visit the litter of puppies today that Morgan belongs to.  Morgan is either the one above, or this one

I get second pick.  The couple who gets first pick were there too.  She asked me if I had a favorite between "purple" or "lavender".  [Each puppy has a different colored ribbon around its neck]  I really don't.  At this point, I can't tell any difference in the two and their personalities haven't really emerged.

Isn't this picture just adorable?  This is the way Carol, the breeder, brought them from the house to the back yard.

This was the puppies' first time in the pool.  They didn't know what to think!

I just think the Labrador Retriever is the most wonderful dog in the world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Something that made me laugh today

Forgive my rambling.  Work has been extremely traumatic of late.  I wish I could explain, but confidentiality and all that good stuff won't allow it.  Anyone who supervises employees can understand my feelings.

I'm worried about my dog, Molly.  She has to have a toe removed tomorrow.  Long story short, it has gotten ugly and the vet said, "It's got to go."  Everyone knows surgery is a risk.  My children are grown and left home.  My dog is what keeps me going.  She is there for me when I come home from a frustrating day at work.  Her tail is wagging and she is genuinely glad to see me.

We have an elderly faculty member at work, way past 80 years old.  I'll call her Betty, although that is not her real name.  I enjoy Betty.  Back when I took vacation to go to my cousin's reunion down South, I told Betty all about our trip.  We are a bunch of Southerners who enjoy our guns and have a great time target shooting and playing show n tell with our guns!

Betty giggled.  Then put her hand over her mouth and giggled some more.  She told me about her mother who got a pistol permit - years ago - and kept a pistol under her pillow at night.  Never mind what Betty was telling me.  Just the way she told me made me laugh till I cried.

So today I had left my office, heading home.  As I was walking down the hall, I thought the woman approaching me was Betty.  But this woman had shorter hair. And, anyway, Betty is supposed to be on vacation this week and next.  As she got closer, I said, "Betty?"  She beamed.

"Look at your hair!  It looks great!"

She was eating this up right and left!.  She had gotten a new perm.

"Well, I was at a meeting across the street, so I thought I would stop in the office for a bit.  Do you have a minute?" she asked.


So she reached into her brief case and pulled out a single sheet of paper.  "I wanted to show you this," she beamed.

"Oh, my God!  Is this what I think it is?"

She was proudly showing me her mother's application for a pistol permit from New York State back in 1928!

"Just one sheet?" I asked.

Yep. And her mother walked into the office with her application and walked out with her permit!

Things have changed a bit in NYS since those days.  Now a pistol permit is more of a package than a single sheet and it takes months to be granted a permit.

As Betty went on her way and I headed in the opposite direction to my parking lot, I caught myself laughing hysterically.

God bless you, Betty.  With all the deluge of nasty stuff I have been dealing with at work lately, you were a big beam of sunshine in my life today.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

This morning I made Southern Buttermilk Drop Biscuits.  I made them in a Lodge cast iron biscuit pan.  Baking them in cast iron makes them crispy on the outside and melt-in-your-mouth light and fluffy on the inside!

There are dozens and dozens of good buttermilk biscuit recipes.  Here is the one I used this time:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut in small pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Combine the dry ingredients, then add the butter.  Mix the butter into the flour mixture until you have a crumbly texture.  Add the buttermilk and stir just until moist.

If using cast iron, you must preheat it in the oven first.  When dough is ready to bake, drop into baking pan.  Bake at 450 for about 15 to 18 minutes.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Searching for my crockpot beef stew recipe

So everyone knows I have enough cookbooks to reach the sky if stacked up, not to mention all the recipes I have on my computer and in card files and binders.  I guess you could say I'm a cookbook/recipe junkie.

In one of my mindless moments, I happened to think of a wonderful crockpot beef stew I had made in the past and all of a sudden my taste buds went wild. . . I just HAD to have the recipe.

I have been looking for that recipe all weekend with no luck.  In going through the documents file on my computer, I found a picture of the stew in my crockpot.  That told me I had posted it on my blog!

Okay, so I have been blogging since early 2009. . . that's an awful lot of posts to go through searching for a recipe!  Oh, but I never told you, persistence (stubborness, my parents used to call it) is one of my strongest traits.  What to do now?  My eyes were roving across the computer screen.  In the upper left hand corner there was a "search" feature.  Oh, that probably isn't for my blog.  Still, I typed in "crockpot beef stew recipe" and in an instant, there it was on my screen!!!

There it was from October 2011!

Okay, laugh at me if you must.  But, folks, I have a very fast-paced, pressure cooker job.  I deserve my moments of mindless pursuit.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Choosing my new puppy's name

Naming my first three Labs was a no-brainer. My first Lab, Teri, was named by my two sons. Cash was four months old when we got her and had already been named by the breeder. Next came Molly. At the time, Molly was a common name for Labs.

Sometime in the winter of 2012, I decided to get another puppy. I never gave a thought to a name. I was more focused on finding a quality breeder who would have pups ready to go in late summer, early fall. That proved to be a major challenge.

As winter was winding down, I began thinking of names. I had a long list! I scoured the internet doing google searches of “names for Labrador Retrievers.” If I saw someone walking a dog, I’d ask them the dog’s name. The more names I gathered, the more confused I became over choosing the right one.

What was my first choice one week, would be discarded several weeks later!

I don’t remember when the name, Morgan, came to mind. Soon I had narrowed my list down to four strong possibilities.

I posted on facebook about my inability to choose a name and mentioned three names I was considering. “My sister had the most wonderful dog and it’s name was Morgan,” my friend, Peggy, wrote. I know it sounds crazy, but when I read that, something just clicked inside me and I decided that was the name I would choose! Oh, by the way, Morgan is my maiden name too!

Am I the only one that can’t make up my mind choosing names for dogs??? How did you choose your dog’s name?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Morgan comes home on September 22

My new Labrador Retriever puppy, Morgan, will come home on September 22.  Yesterday I visited with the breeder.  I wanted to meet her and her dogs in person before I agreed to buy.  I found her to be everything her website and her e-mail communications with me represented.  She called me the day the litter was born.

I really did not enjoy the puppy search.  Finding the right breeder can be daunting.  A couple of times I almost gave up.  Some breeders have the mindset, "Just send your deposit check and I'll let you know when you can pick up your puppy."  One breeder sent me a lengthy questionnaire to return, "so that she could determine if I am a suitable dog owner."  I'm ashamed to admit that I complied.  In the past, I knew of someone who bought a puppy, got home with it and discovered the dog could not stand up or walk.  The breeder refused to accept any responsibility for it.  If a breeder would not allow me to come visit and meet them in person, they quickly got scratched from my list.

I have owned a Lab since 1985, three of them, Teri, Cash, and now Molly. . . Morgan will be #4!  Dog owners have their own ideas about what is the right dog, a mixed breed, a specific breed, or. . . as one person told me proudly, "We have a designer dog."  I had never heard that term before.  It's just another term for "high priced mixed breed."

The bottom line, whatever dog makes you happy and that you feel a bond with, is the right dog for you.  I have found the Lab to be highly intelligent with a loving personality and a desire to please.  I will be devoted to this breed until the day I die.  It is my belief that when you buy from a reputable breeder, you know what you are getting.  A good breeder is selective in which dogs they choose to breed and they are not in it to make a lot of money.

If you are searching for a quality Labrador Retriever puppy, I highly recommend Campbell Yard Labradors in Amherst, NY.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

My new puppy was born yesterday

I will be bringing a new puppy home in early October.  Morgan was born yesterday, along with 7 other litter mates, all black Labrador Retrievers.

After the puppies are 4 weeks old, the breeder will let me visit as often as I like, in fact, she encourages these visits.  Since she is in Buffalo, about 70 miles down the NYS Thruway, my visits will be on weekends.

It's been 11 years since I've had a puppy in the house, so I'm sure there will not be a dull moment and I will be kept plenty busy!

I still have Molly, my black Lab.  Let's hope she isn't too jealous of having to share my attention with a young puppy!

If you haven't already figured it out, I think the Labrador Retriever is the most wonderful dog in the whole world.  Morgan will be my fourth Lab dating back to 1985.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

St. Ann's Tower is no more

This morning at 10:00 am, the St. Ann's Tower, a 19 story round building, near the 104 Expressway, was imploded.  It was built the year before I came to Rochester nearly 40 years ago.  It was originally a senior citizen's apartment building and then became an assisted living home.  The building itself had no special meaning to me, in fact, I was never inside it.  It's just sad when something that has been around forever needs to be torn down.  It was one of those things you "expect" to see as you are driving along the expressway.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

The AT Thru-hiker

So I pulled into my driveway, as I do every work day, stopped to get the mail - my mailbox is across the road.  I was vaguely aware of a car further down the street coming toward me but as I walked away from my mailbox my mind was on the mail I had received.  I realized the car was speeding up as if to run over me. . . it could only be two scenarios - a drunk driver (I don't think so) or Eric.  It was Eric.

Eric is a 20-something that I watched grow up on my street.  When I first moved in, some 15 years ago, Eric was a pain-in-the-butt kid.  Back then, I tried my hand at rollerblading.  Never being athletically inclined, still I wasn't afraid to try, no matter how awkward I looked on them.

I remember Eric coming along on his rollerblades, weaving in and out around me, showing off his skill and scaring me. . . "ERIC, get away from me!" I screamed one day, sure that he was going to knock me over.

Fast forward many years.  Eric grew up and developed an interest in firearms.  One of the neighbors told him I had a few handguns.  He was eager to get his pistol permit as soon as he turned 21.  If he saw me in the yard, he'd stop and talk handguns.  One day I was walking my dog on a quiet afternoon on our street.  A car pulled up behind me and stopped.  Out jumped Eric waving his new toy - his first handgun - in the air to show off.

"ERIC, would you put that thing away!" . . . Later I gave him the business card of the place where I have taken many firearms classes.  "I want you to go talk to this guy.  You need training, Boy!"

He did.

Everytime he got a new gun, he'd come running to show it to me!  "What?  Are you trying to keep up with me?" I would tease him!

Then I noticed I didn't see him around for several months.  This was maybe May or early June of this year.  One of the neighbors told me he had gone to hike the Appalachian Trail end-to-end.

Although I have never hiked the trail end-to-end, I do know a thing or two about it, having several friends over the years who have done it.  "He started in early March and he will finish in August," I was told by a neighbor.

"No, No!"  I responded.  You don't hike all 2200 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine from March to August.  It is more like March to late September or October.

So today, July 26, here is Eric in the street at the end of my driveway.

My jaw dropped.  Now, I knew once he started the hike, he would finish - never a doubt on that.  But from March to the end of July?

He finished on July 4th, just over 100 days on the trail.  He started out doing 15 to 20 miles per day - a remarkable accomplishment.  Most people don't do more than 8 or 10 per day until they get acclimated to the trail.  But "most people" are not Eric.  It was not unusual for him to do 20 to 30 miles a day.  He said his longest day was 67 miles in 27 hours.

What Eric lacks in maturity and "walking around sense", he more than makes up for in a lust for life and making every minute count.

He will go far in life.

Happy Birthday, John and Michael

My twin sons have a birthday today!  Happy Birthday, Boys.  You've made your mom proud.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Shrubs in my backyard

These are pictures of my shrubs in the backyard against the fence.  I just love them when they are in bloom.  They were late blooming this year.  They start out white and gradually turn pink.  They are in the hydrangea family.  I planted them as small bushes, less than 3 feet high.  Now they tower over me!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Love my Keens!

When warm weather comes, all I want on my feet are my Keens. . . well, except for going to work or for more dressier occasions!

I bought the pair on the left for canoeing.  The straps are made of nylon and they are great water shoes.  They offer the benefit of a sneaker and the open air appeal of a sandal.  The soles are rugged and offer great traction.  Then I discovered they are a great all around shoe.  I throw them in the washer with jeans and leave them in the sun to dry and they are as good as new again.

The pair on the right first belonged to one of my daughters-in-law.  She bought them and decided she didn't like them. . . I'm glad she didn't like them, 'cause she gave them to me and I love them!!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

We're sweltering up here!

Yesterday the temperature in Rochester reached 97 degrees, the highest for this day in over 100 years.  This morning, at 5:00 am, my outdoor thermometer says it is already more than 75 degrees.

Thank God for air conditioning!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, Rita!

Today, my "little cousin", Rita is 50 years old!  My how time gets away from us.  It doesn't seem that many years ago that she was a little kid picking fights with me and I was the one that got in trouble, "because you are older and you should know better!"

Happy Birthday, Kid!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Robert's Birthday, continued

You should read the previous post first and this one will have more meaning.

This is Robert and Nancy's home in the City.  If you look closely, you can see the barn in the back, at the end of the driveway.  I never cease to be amazed at how they transformed this home and barn from a dilapidated, aging place into what it looks like today, inside and out.

The barn has two levels on the left side.  The opening on the right is what used to be the horse stable.  When this home was built in 1902, horse and buggies were the mode of transportation!

And this is what Sara, Robert and Nancy's daughter, did to the stable!  Can you believe it???

And hanging on the wall, among other family photos, is a picture of Bill, who lived in the house from the time he was 2 years old until he moved into an assisted living home in his late 90's.  His parents built the home.

These are the chefs who were up at 2:00 am smoking the pig for the Pig Roast!

The Birthday Boy with his pig!  I have never tasted pulled pork so good.  I rarely eat coleslaw unless I make it myself.  But these guys had the best tasting coleslaw.

Ronan and Liam, two of Renata's three sons and Robert and Nancy's grandsons. Liam is quite a talker and can carry on remarkable conversations with you!

Liam with Sara's dog, Zoey.

Yes, it was a great party.  I just couldn't resist sharing these pictures with you.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Robert's 65th birthday

You'll have to wait till my next post for pictures. . . I spent the afternoon and early evening at Robert's 65th birthday.  Now, Robert and Nancy and I go back a long, long way.  I came home and realized I left my camera over there.  Quick, I dial Robert's cell. . . "Did you make it home okay?" he answered.  "Yeah, I did.  But I left my camera on the back porch. . . will you take it inside for me?"

"No problem," he answered.

"See you tomorrow," I said.

Nancy and the kids had a pig roast for his birthday.  That pig had been cooking since 2:00 am this morning - yes, it was catered!  The catering company backed into the driveway, set up shop and I was awed by that HUGE pig in the grill.  I've never tasted pulled pork that good!

Geez, I could write a book on the history of my friendship with Robert and Nancy. We watched each other's kids grow up.

They live in a house in the City. . . they raised their kids in the suburbs.  Back when I was in real estate, Robert called me one day and told me he wanted me to list his Uncle's house.  Now, Bill was a character.  He had lived in that house since the day it was built back in 1902.  Bill was in his late 90's, never married, and had to go live in an assisted living home. He and his brothers had owned and run Lauterbach's Hardware just up the street from the house for decades and decades.  When the four brothers were well into their 90's, they finally closed shop.  A piece of Rochester's fabric was gone.

"Sure, Robert," I said that day.  "Just give me access to the home to take a look at it, we'll discuss a purchase price, and I'll draw up the listing contract."

About the third day the home was on the market, another realtor brought a young man through the home.  He loved the home and was willing to put the exhaustive work into it to bring it back to it's original glory.  "I'm going to make this house my home," the young man boasted to me.

That night Robert called me.  "Sherry, I want to buy my uncle's house."

Dumbfounded, and realizing Robert had a few beers under his belt, I stammered and said, "Well, uh, Robert. . . [long pause] why don't you call me in the morning and if you are still intent on going through with this, we'll talk."

Early the next morning, fortunately after my second cup of coffee, Nancy called me.  "Sherry, he is dead serious.  He isn't going to back down."

Knowing another offer was almost surely coming in, I told her, "Well, we need to get going here.  Meet me for lunch today and I'll have the contract ready to go."

Fast forward several months.  Robert and Nancy's current home sold and they needed to move out.  Only problem, their uncle's house needed major renovation.    I was amazed that they moved in with the kitchen torn up due to renovation!

They transformed that home into a real showcase.  There is nothing like those old City homes with their charm and history.  This home has been in their family over a 100 years now!

Fast forward to today.  I couldn't help thinking, as I enjoyed the party with Robert and Nancy's family and friends gathered, just how much a part of my life they have been.  My gosh, when I first met them, they only had Renata. . . Andrew and Sara weren't even born yet.  My own twin sons were still in diapers!  Now I have three grandchildren and they have six!  Where does time go?

There will be more on this in later posts.  Bottom line, I feel truly blessed to have long time friends like these two people who have stood by me through good times and bad.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Me and my boys!

This is me with my three grandchildren, from left to right, Kevin, Andrew, and Jake.  They were here for dinner today, along with their Mom and Dad, and my other son, Michael, and daughter-in-law Marisa.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A fun day with shotguns and pistols

Several weeks back, five of us, all avid gun enthusiasts, spent a fun time shooting sporting clays and then some of us target shooting with pistols and revolvers.  Ralph was visiting Tom for the weekend and he brought his very impressive collection of handguns.  Here are some pictures from that day.

Margaret and her son, Chris

With sporting clays, you move from one station to the next, shooting at moving targets.  The disk can come from any direction, high, low, fast, slow, toward you, away from you. . . yes it's a challenge!

Next we moved over to the shooting bays for target practice.  This is me showing off some of my guns to Chris.  Unfortunately, he could only look. . . and dream! . . . as he isn't old enough yet to get a pistol permit.

Ralph's pistol permit is a mile long to list all his pistols!  He stores them in socks!!!