Fun in Washington

A week ago I was in Washington (the state), visiting my son’s family. Okay, I was visiting my two adorable grandchildren, but I love their parents too.

While Daddy was at work, the rest of us visited the playground…

How can those short little legs climb so many steps??

How can those short little legs climb so many steps?? Over and over and…

No, he didn't fall.... just making Mulch Angels.

No, he didn’t fall…. just making Mulch Angels.

… and went to “free play” at the gym…

No "motion blur" filter required... he actually IS a blur!

No “motion blur” filter required… he actually IS a blur!

Delicate balance!

Delicate balance!

All too soon it was time for Heather and the kids to take Grandma back to the airport. We stopped at Panera to indulge in a yummy breakfast and some selfies.
img_7043 img_7040








I miss them all already. Hoping to go back soon!
Thanks for reading… and looking at Grandma’s pictures…

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How to Make Your Workout Benefit Somebody Besides Yourself

I was bicycling along one Saturday morning in the unseasonably warm sunshine, when it dawned on me: I have never told you all about Charity Miles.

What was I thinking??

Longtime cycling buddy René Guerra put me onto it last year. You download the Charity Miles app to your phone. Then, whenever you’re about to start a bike ride or run, or even a walk, you open the app…charity-miles-app

…and choose which of the many listed charities you’d like to support that day–here, for example, Alzheimer’s Association.
Then you tell it whether you’re on foot or on the bike…pick-a-charity

…and take off.start-walking-or-riding

The app tracks your distance and, for every mile you go, a corporate sponsor donates ten cents to the charity you chose. Every tenth of a mile earns one cent for your charity. Participating costs you nothing.

charity-milesNow, ten cents a mile may not seem like much, but if you do a five-mile run with eleven friends, that could send $6 to, say, Charity: Water or Habitat for Humanity. The same dozen people bicycling thirty miles would earn $36 for their charity/charities.

If you’re going to be out there anyway, why not leverage your workout to help someone else?

I thought you’d like to know.

Thanks for reading,

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Protein Shaken – Part 2

Police Drawing of the Suspect

Police Drawing of the Suspect

When last we left Jan, she was wiping splashed protein shake off her face and was about to clean up the (major) portion that had dripped behind the refrigerator.

Spill + 3 minutes: Step one– Pull the fridge out away from the wall.

Spill + 4 minutes: Step t–wait, I’m still tryna move the fridge.

Spill + 11 minutes: It simply wouldn’t budge. I looked everywhere for the user manual.

Spill + 18 minutes: I couldn’t find any manual, so I looked it up on LG’s website. The online manual showed how to do every possible thing you might ever want to do with a fridge…. EXCEPT move it.

Spill + 24 minutes: I got on phone with a very nice person at LG, who spoke pretty good English as long as she didn’t have to stray from the script.

Spill + 25 minutes: We had to stray from the script.

As near as I could tell, she was claiming that I first had to retract the wheels so that the feet, not the wheels, were touching the floor.

Spill + 32 minutes: The LG lady wasn’t familiar with the term “counter-intuitive.”

Besides, I couldn’t even see the wheels OR feet, because a handy rubbery barrier like a giant squeegee blocked my view. You couldn’t get too mad, I guess, since it probably saved hundreds of green peas and blueberries from rolling under there and going bad.

Spill + 1 hour, 13 minutes: Brent came home.

Spill + 1 hour, 14 minutes: Brent wished he hadn’t come home.

Spill + 1 hour, 27 minutes: Brent somehow figured out how to get those stupid wheels to turn.

By the time we got the fridge rolled forward enough to clean behind it, I figured the shake mix would’ve dried up and I’d have to sort of chip it off the wall and floor. Not so… the protein had coagulated into wet, sticky, dark brown clots.

My kitchen floor looked like a violent-crime scene with dust bunnies.

That happened about a year ago, and I’m still having flashbacks.

I can assure you, though, that every time I serve up a scoop of protein-shake powder, I turn well away from the blender before re-closing the bag.

Your turn: Have you ever made a minor mess that turned into a colossal cleanup job? Do you have any hints for cleaning off fake blood clots? Do you have to keep your blender and your refrigerator separated? I’d love to see your comments in the “Leave a Reply” box at bottom.

Thanks for reading,

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Protein Shaken – Part 1

Seriously, I still can’t find an honest appliance anywhere. And if they’d only cooperate, I could really use their help with my fitness goals.

See, I don’t mind being kind of matronly, but I don’t want to overdo it. So not only do I exercise, but I also try to go easy on my beloved carbs and take in more protein instead. I rely on my bullet blender for a smooth protein shake.

img_7002Protein shake powder? Great. Especially in chocolate.

Recloseable press-and-seal zipper bag? Wonderful.

Zipping the bag closed while standing right next to a bullet-blender cup full of protein powder, ice, and water?
Not cool.

One night I was fixing a shake and had set the ice-and-water-filled blender cup on my postal scale to measure the powder.

Turns out, the postal scale and the bullet blender are in cahoots.

Gripping one end of the bag with my left hand, I used my right to pinch the zipper closed. I did this by getting it started and then squeezing while pulling my right hand across the top, away from my left. Everything was fine until somehow my right hand slipped off the shiny bag.

The sudden release caused me to backhand the plastic blender cup right off the scale. It arced through the air, slammed into the side of the fridge, bounced off, landed on its feet on the countertop… and fell over backward from surprise. The cold, blackish-brown, sloshy, powdery contents were running off the edge of the counter and dribbling down behind the refrigerator before I could finish pointlessly yelling “NOOOOOOOooooo!”

I sighed and set the nearly-empty blender cup back on its feet.

Clearly, I had some mopping up to do.

A pain in the neck, but at least mopping is simple enough…. right?

NEXT TIME: Part 2, in which even the refrigerator joins in the mutiny. (Click to jump straight to the post)

Thanks for reading!

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A Wise Word from Rachel Anne Ridge

This is one of my favorite pictures of Rachel EVER.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Rachel EVER. Notice how Flash got into the picture twice.

Not long ago, I told you about my Word for the Year, “Truth.” Well, another favorite word is “Gracious,” which is what I want to be when I grow up.

Then, just over a week ago, my friend Rachel Anne Ridge wrote about Graciousness at her Home Sanctuary blog. Her perception of what graciousness is and what a little of it can do–well, her words were like a breath of fresh mountain air.

She says, in part:

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the art of being gracious.

It feels a little old-fashiony and quaint, doesn’t it? Graciousness doesn’t seem like a trait that gets a whole lot of play in today’s world.

But I’d love to see it make a comeback.

I think graciousness gets mistaken for weakness sometimes because it doesn’t ever push itself on anyone. It gets overlooked because recipients of its gentle charm. . .

With Rachel’s permission, I’m letting her do the talking today. Please click here to read the rest of her thoughts at

Thanks for reading.
You’re very gracious!

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Putting Down Roots

One downside of moving to a new house, no matter how much you like it, is Starting Over With Your Landscaping. In our old backyard we left a mature Chinese tallow tree, taller than the house. It looks like this in the fall:chinese-tallow-fall
tallow-treeLast spring we saved a few of the tallow tree’s seedlings. Here’s the current specimen, with the Pomeranian mutt for scale:

Don’t be embarrassed if you can’t see the tree. Its branches make Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree look downright ample, and not a leaf in sight.

Besides, there’s a really cute dog in the picture.

I’ve always saved extra seeds from our bluebonnets. So I planted some of those at the new place, hoping they’d germinate. I’m happy to report that now we’ve got sprouts.bluebonnet-sprout

Ditto with the cilantro: cilantro-sprout
Some things I decided not to move, like the June-bearing strawberries. Instead I bought a couple of Everbearing plants. Maybe this year we’ll get two berries from each plant more than once! I see a ladybug has already made itself at home here.strawberry-w-ladybug
The scariest move for me was the apricot-colored daylily bulbs that had grown in my flower bed since 2008. One of my professors at UT Arlington gave them to me, so I really, really hoped they would survive. I dug into the new flower beds and poked the lumpy brown things into the holes, leaving only wilted leaves above the mulch.

It sure didn’t look very promising in November… the leaves simply lay down on the ground and turned grey. But lookie what I found last week, right in the middle of those grey ribbon-like leaves:daylily

See, once more life springs from death. Didn’t Jesus say something about that?

I’m thankful for roots and new life.

Thanks for reading,

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Kitchen(Aid) Mixup

slappyAfter years getting along with just a hand-held mixer for all my baking, I finally bought a Kitchen Aid stand mixer. One great thing about my old Oster stand mixer–it had that turntable thing that lets the bowl spin around so you can scrape down the sides with a spatula while the double beaters do their job off to one side. I’m still getting used to the fixed-position bowl and the wacky single “tilt-a-whirl” beater that pirouettes around, slapping against the ingredients. And as you may know, I’ve become rather suspicious of my appliances anyway.

So when the time came to bake cookies for friends who were coming over, I plugged in the mixer with some anxiety. Creaming the butter and sugars went well, however.

So of course I got cocky.

I decided I could crack the eggs into the bowl while the mixer was running…

I did okay with the first egg, but managed to drop half the second one’s shell into the dough. Before I could react, Slappy the Beater had twirled through half a dozen revolutions, shoving ever-smaller pieces of eggshell into the soft dough.

News Flash: There is no way on earth to find all the fragments of eggshell in a bowl of slippery butter-and-sugar mix.

Ever the optimist, Brent said, “You got most of it, though, didn’t you?”
“How would I know?” I said, up to my wrists in dough. “Aaack–there’s another piece. I can’t serve crunchy chocolate chip cookies! I’ll have to start over!”

And so I did. This time, before cracking each egg, I cut the motor and propped that beater up out of the way.

The cookies were delicious.

And I am now on guard against Slappy the Beater.

Thanks for reading,

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