The best Mother’s Day Gift

I had the best gift for Mother’s Day…time with my son!  My husband took us to see a movie of my choice…The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Not their cup of tea, but hey…it’s Mother’s Day and they always let me rule the day!  Then we went to the mall shopping for my son’s girlfriend’s birthday gift from me and had a delicious meal at the Cheesecake Factory.  I had the Shrimp Scampi with Steak Diane…sooo yummy!  When my husband asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day, I said “To spend time with you and Justin”!  All of our parents have passed away, so we have a small family now and I’m grateful for them.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

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Who Needs Italy when you can make your own Limoncello!

Seriously…who doesn’t like Limoncello?  I tried it for the first time in 2010 when I visited a variety of Cities in Italy and fell in love.  It’s sweet, lemony and delicious!  It’s so easy to make your own…why didn’t I do this years ago!

Here’s the finished product.  It lasts for a year or two, so no need to drink it fast.  And I can always give them as gifts!

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Here’s the recipe…take 7 large lemons…organic is better and a liter (about 4 1/4 cups) of vodka.  I used Sveda Vodka.  It’s good quality and reasonably priced.

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Take a vegetable peeler and peel the zest.  Be careful not to  peel too deeply because you don’t want the bitter white pith of the lemon skin.  Add the zest to the alcohol, cover with plastic wrap, and place somewhere cool for a week.

On Day 6, make a simple syrup with 5 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar.  Boil the water and add the sugar to the boiling water.  Stir the sugar until it is fully dissolved in the water and then let it cool over night.

On Day 7, strain the lemon peels from the alcohol,  pour the alcohol into the simple syrup and stir well.

Serve chilled, from the refrigerator or freezer.

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How easy is that!

 

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Declutter your life!

If you’re like most people, you probably put off organizing your home — your closets, your drawers, your garage, etc.  I’d like to encourage you to start this weekend.  It may be overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin.  I say, start with one closet, or one drawer.  When you organize your home, your mind becomes uncluttered and you make room for new and exciting opportunities to come in!  I usually need to tackle my clothing closet at least twice a year and in the last week, I’ve gone through my junk drawer and my office closet.

These photos aren’t related to the post…but I wanted to share them with you.  They’re somewhat abstract…

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Cleaning up your online existence is even more therapeutic!  If you’re like me, your e-mails start to build up.  You’ll keep e-mails thinking you’ll read them later, and before you know it, you’ve got 100 of them!  I also keep folders of important e-mails, so that’s another area to keep in line.  Don’t forget about organizing your bookmarks.  If you’re a photographer, your photographs begin to accumulate and you literally will have thousands and thousands.  It took me a couple of days to whittle mine down!

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I was going to delete this photo, but I changed the color, contrast, exposure, and voila…I like it now!

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A friend is going to pay me next week to help her organize.  I’ve helped her a lot through the years at no cost, but it’s time for me to make some $!  Don’t procrastinate any longer…take control of your life!

70 is the new 60!

We’ve all heard that expression, 50 is the new 40, 40 is the new 30, etc., well my Aunt Colleen shows that 70 can be the new 60!  I attended her birthday party Saturday evening and my present to her was an enlarged photo of a small scanned photo of my late mother when she was in her 20’s.  When my mother passed away a couple of years ago, I remember my Aunt expressing an interest in this particular photo.  I asked that she open my gift first because I had another party to go to.  This photo is a little blurry, but there wasn’t another one of us.  I know it touched her because I took a couple of photos of her while she was opening it and it looked like she was going to cry.  Anyway, the party was so much fun.  It was held at my Cousin’s friend’s house, which was amazing and I’ll post photos of the house tomorrow.

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This is my Cousin’s wife Courtne with two of their children and my other Cousin’s daughter…

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A Piece of his Heart

There’s a fairly new surgery called the Wolf Mini-Maze that has a 90% cure rate for Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) and my husband had the procedure done a few days ago in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Community Heart and Vascular Hospital by Dr. Randall Wolf.  Here’s a photo of him holding a piece of his heart.  Many people have a procedure called Ablation to help with the irregular heartbeat, but typically they have to return every 5 years for another ablation.  If you’d like to read about the procedure, here’s a link.  What’s really interesting is Randy works for Atricure, the Company that developed the instruments used for the surgery, in conjunction with Dr. Wolf.  He makes the prototypes.  How cool is that!

Randy’s looking quite happy in this photo because he’s on pain medication…

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The hospital has an agreement with a number of local hotels offering patient’s families a discounted rate for their room.  I stayed at the Candlewood Suites located just a mile away and loved it.  Anyway, after the surgery Dr. Wolf handed me the small container with Randy’s left atrial appendage that’s removed during the surgery and said, “Here’s a piece of his heart”.  I took a photo of it in the hotel room and put it on Facebook for friends and family to have a look.  I thought it was pretty funny.  One of my friends said “Glad he’s doing well, but YUK!”  This photo makes it look really big and had another friend worried that they removed so much of his heart.

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Camera Tricks

I haven’t experimented with my camera much or tried any tricks, but the other evening I had some inspiration, so I began moving my camera up or down as I snapped a photo looking at the trees and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome!  I took about 20-30 shots and picked two from them.

I’d like to paint a picture of this first shot…

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For this photo, I moved side to side.  I’ll call this one “Dizzy Tree”…

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I really do get dizzy if I stare too long!

I’m recovering from two days of outdoor work…moving everything off of my deck, power washing the deck, front patio and house, going to Home Depot for stain and spray paint, spray painting the patio furniture, detailing my car and staining my 70′ long deck.  Whew!

Flower Shopping and Mother’s Day

A few days ago my girlfriend Gina took me out in the Country to “Johns Flowers” to shop for flowers for our decks.  It’s located in Fayetteville.  I was hesitant at first to drive that far out for flowers when I could go to a Lowe’s or Home Depot 10 minutes away, but I’m so happy I did!  He has a huge selection and the quality is outstanding!  John is so friendly and helpful and it’s nice to support local businesses!

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Easter Day

My Easter Day today was great!  My son and his beautiful girlfriend (pictured below) spent the night and after a leisurely morning with coffee and internet time, I prepared some mushroom omelets and toast for breakfast.  He’s really tall–like 6’9″–so he makes her look shorter than she is.  We attended a new church today that’s very near our house and it was quite interesting.  To give you some background.  Although my family didn’t attend church,  I attended church with a girlfriend when I was 12.  And through the years have gone to a variety of churches…all different denominations…Presbyterian, Baptist, Church of God, Methodist, Catholic, Jewish, etc.  I have my own personal beliefs, as everyone does.  Anyway, the preacher at this particular church was quite loud and full of spirit.  He was so loud on the microphone that I had to plug my ears with my fingers throughout much of the sermon (but I could still hear him).  He would start off at a somewhat normal pitch and within a few sentences of each point would be almost screaming.  He said that he knows that hell is real because on YouTube he saw a video showing a team of scientists drilling into the core of the earth and their drill bit began to wobble after they were deep into the ground.  There are only two reasons a drill bit wobbles…either it is bent or you’ve reached an area without any matter…such as a cavern.  They placed a microphone down into the hole and heard human voices screaming.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m not poking fun at religion…merely repeating what I heard this morning.  Enough about that.

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Cheers to Art

Last night I went to a place called Cheers to Art in Madeira, Ohio, a suburb of Cincinnati.  Initially I heard about it through the wine meetup I belong to.  They had a private party there.  It’s a place to let your creativity flourish by drinking wine and painting a picture during a two hour class.  I auditioned earlier this week to work there.  They’re opening another location in Downtown Cincinnati and need people to set the room up, check people in upon arrival, tend the bar, clean-up, etc.  They also need people that can instruct a class.  After attending one of the classes, I believe I could do that, with a little more practice!  Either way…what fun!  To watch people create and have fun!

The owner was the instructor last night and I really like the way she made it so simple and fun!

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My Life Lately

I thought I’d give you a more personal look at my life lately!  I joined a new Meetup.com group a few weeks ago that focuses on cooking.  Seeing that I’ve made over 160 new recipes from Pinterest this past year, it’s quite appropriate.  I volunteered to host the first gathering, which was held at our house Saturday evening.  The theme was Mexican and there were 12 of us.  Because I was the hostess…I didn’t need to cook.  Everyone else brought the food.  It was still quite a bit of work to make sure the house was clean, to assist the night of, and to clean again afterwards; but I enjoyed the company and the food was delish!

I joined another Meetup group for creative people and attended the first meetup the other night.  There were about 9 of us…so we went around the room and shared a little about ourselves and I’m signed up for the next event, an art exhibit for one of the members!

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DIY Large Photo Wall Art

If you’d like to use one of your own photos for a DIY Photo Wall Art project, Sugar Bee Crafts  has a great post to walk you through each step.  For less than $15 I was able to make a 3′ x 4′ piece of art with a photograph I took in California!  It’s hanging in my office, so I can look out the window at the woods and look on the wall at the woods!

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I found the idea on Pinterest and followed the link!  It’s a great idea for photos of people also.  Next, I’d like to make some for friends!

Football and Fun

Saturday evening we attended a Bengals Playoff Game party at a friend’s house.  I’m not much of an organized sports watching fan…but I love to socialize.  I made some Tailgate Ham/Cheese Sandwiches that were a big hit.  Originally the recipe was on Pinterest, but when I went to the website, the recipe was no longer there.  Luckily, I had typed it up and saved it—

Ingredients:

* 1 pkg. (12 count) Hawaiian bread rolls

* 1 lb. shaved Black Forest ham

* 12 slices Gruyere cheese

* 1 tub (8 oz.) Philadelphia Chive & Onion Cheese Spread

* 1/2 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted

* 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

* 1/2 Tbsp. dried minced onion

* 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

~Cut all rolls in half.  Place roll bottoms in 9 x 13 inch pan.

~Place equal amounts of ham on each roll bottom.  Top with Gruyere.

~On each of the roll tops, spread a generous amount of the cream cheese spread.  Return the tops to the bottoms making sandwiches.

~In a separate bowl, mix together the butter, Worcestershire sauce, onion and Parmesan cheese.  Pour over your sandwiches and let sit for at least 20 minutes.  (You can make these ahead of time and allow to sit in fridge overnight.)

~Place sandwiches, covered in foil, in a preheated 350 deg. F oven.

~Bake for 20 minutes or until warmed through.  Enjoy!  Yield: 12 servings.

After a while of talking, eating, and drinking, it was time to have some fun…so I arm wrestled four women and won!  They wanted me to try a couple of the guys…so I did…but I knew they would win.  My arm is a little sore today.

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Next, we convinced a couple of the guys to help us make a partial pyramid…

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The photos were taken with my friend’s iPhone.  Who says you have to act your age?

 

Lessons in Hot Yoga and on Facebook

A couple of days ago, I went to a Hot Yoga class in Loveland, Ohio at a studio called “Simply Power Yoga”.  There were 22 of us sweating profusely in the over 100 degree heat for an hour and fifteen minutes.  At the beginning of class, the teacher read the following to the class.

Letter from a Mother to her Daughter:

“My dear girl, the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say: “You said the same thing a minute ago”… Just listen, please. Try to remember the times when you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a girl?

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing for me is to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand the same way that I offered mine to you when you first walked.

When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love.

I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter.”

– Unknown

Here is a photo of my mother and I on a cruise back in 2004.  She passed away in June of 2011.

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As the teacher read this…I found myself welling up with tears, trying to wipe them away without anyone noticing, and remembering back to all the times I wasn’t patient with my mother.  When she was finished reading…she made eye contact with me and knew I was touched.  Then yesterday on Facebook I saw the same letter posted on an acquaintance’s page.

I also remember all of the times I was patient and sweet to her.  Calling her almost daily.  Buying her diamond rings and hiding them in her glass of champagne or wrapping them in multiple boxes.  Flying her to see me in Germany when I was in the military.  Quitting my job to take care of her when she was in a nursing home and finally, again, the week before she passed.

I realized that we are too hard on ourselves.  We beat ourselves up.  I learned the lesson of forgiving myself and realizing I’m not perfect!