Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Springtime You Are A Tease

Yesterday was beautiful outside. Warm. Sunny. It seemed a perfect day to just sit in the back garden for a bit with the camera.

I have been reading through Tom Dinning’s “Learning to See” blog posts and thought it might be a good time to put some of the things into practice. To just sit in the garden quietly for a time and see what is happening and “be” a part of it.

Maybe at this point I should just light some incense and put on some tie dye clothing.

So I sat for a time just listening to the birdies tweet. And the wind blow.

Oh I should also tell you I was outside because I wanted to play around with my camera. No surprise there. I wanted to test out my Back Button focusing. Can I just tell you that I am so in love with this feature.


Now back to the show.


I always leave the Autumn Joy sedum uncut over the winter. It gives a nice contrast to the bleakness and the birdies like to sit in it.


What? Doesn’t everyone have a toilet planter? You don’t understand why I have a toilet planter? Some people in this household, who shall remain nameless, don’t understand it.

But my father does…..where do you think I got the idea.


I might have to look for a replacement this year. Or not.


Ahhhhh, resting and relaxing in the sunshine. With my bright purple Crocs. Life is good.


Hmmmmm, the warm winter has given some of the lilies in the garden the idea that it might be time to wake up and get to growing. Go back little lily!!


Oh dear. The Pileated Woodpecker has been drilling a hole in one of the trees. You cannot tell from this picture but it is a substantial hole, about 3 inches tall.


That’s not good. Not good at all. No one ever said that gardening was all happy happy joy joy. If they did then you can bet they have a gardener.


The lovely green plants sticking their heads up in anticipation of…..

HEY NOW! Wait just a cotton pickin’ minute here. You aren’t a plant!! You are…..



So I had to spend a bit of time pulling some weeds. They offended my senses and my garden zen.


Garden zen? Alpha I would be happy to contribute to your garden zen.


What is that behind you Alpha Male? What is that moving object?


Wait! I know what it is! It is a…..a……a……..





I will protect you from the squirrel oh Alpha Male.

I decided to go in after that. I was a bit deaf.

And my big fat bahookie was chilled from sitting on the ground.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hug Your Kids Today.

This morning our Northeast Ohio community is asking, “Why?”

Why would a young man feel that the only way to express his anger and rage was to bring a gun to school and shoot five of his classmates.

I cannot imagine a pain more horrible than the loss of one of my children. Parents never expect to outlive their children. No parent ever imagines that when they are sending their son or daughter off to school in the morning that that is the last time that they will see them alive. That there won’t be any more hellos or goodbyes or “I love you Mom”.

My heart is breaking.

My heart is breaking for the families of the two young men who have died. For the family of the young man who still clings to life and for the families of the two students who were wounded but will, hopefully, recover.

And my heart is also breaking for the family of the young man who stood up yesterday morning and calmly shot his classmates in the cafeteria. My prayer is that the community anger that may come will not be directed at them. That we would remember that they would never have wished this on any parent and that they are asking why as well.

I am shaken by the thought that there were times when I set the progeny out the door to school and there were harsh words between us. Maybe it was a rough morning. Maybe things hadn’t gone right. Maybe I was just a pain in the butt crabby momma that morning. To think that the last interaction that we might have had together was angry and not, “I love you” brings tears to my eyes.

Remember, no matter how ticked you are at your kids (and you KNOW you are at times) do not send them out that door without making sure that your last words to them are loving. And take the time today to hug them extra hard, even if they act like a crabby cat and don’t want you to. You are bigger.

I am sending big electronic hugs to the progeny.

I know from the bottom of my heart that the parents of Russell King and Daniel Parmertor would tell you the same thing.

And pray for these families. The families of the young men, full of promise, who are now gone. The families of the young people who are still in the hospital. And the family of the shooter, TJ Lane.

So many small acts leading to an explosion and nothing will ever the same.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Grocery Shopping PSA

Good Afternoon.

This is your Grocery Shopping PSA  (Public Service Announcement). This is specifically directed towards all those who feel that it is necessary to shop and cell phone chat at the same time.

We, the rest of the occupants of the store, do not want to hear your conversations. Really, we don’t.

Are you aware that as you stand in the canned goods aisle and talk on your cell phone that the rest of us can hear what you are saying?

Today I most certainly did not want to hear about how the woman in the canned tomato aisle has divorced her husband. How she took over all their credit card debit and he took all the house debit in the settlement but that now the house is most likely going into foreclosure and he is “threatening to take me down with him” if it does.

I am so sorry that you have to go through this but it was not necessary to talk about it in a voice that carried all the way over to the frozen foods.

You could have heard a pin drop in the dairy aisle as people were most certainly leaning in to see what would be said next.

Nor did I need to hear the teenage conversation about what she did over the weekend that her mother does not know about.

Believe me, THAT conversation was very TMI and conducted at


Perhaps she has been listening to Lady Gaga a bit too loud.

So people lets put our gray matter through it’s paces and think about what we are doing when we are shopping and chatting. Take a look around and be aware of where you are. If you must, and I have been known to chat and shop, please be aware that you are not sitting in your own home. I am in the cereal aisle with you. All I want is to get some oatmeal. I don’t want to know how horrible your mother-in-law is.

This has been your Grocery Shopping PSA for the day.

Thank you for your time and attention.


Friday, February 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes (Vol 154)


Did anyone notice that I was one volume “off” in my numbering? I didn’t either. So, this week is Vol 154 when it REALLY should be Vol 155. I like to have all my ducks in a row and color in the lines. Yeah right.

You know the drill. When you are done here remember to click on the picture above to be whisked, at the speed of my rapidly falling caffeine level (I need more coffee) over to Conversion Diary.

Release the BLATHER!

I have been singularly unproductive this week. That is the usual norm after taking a trip. I find that it is a 1:1 equation. If I am gone for a week then the week I get back is not all that productive.

Imagine what home life is like after I get back from a 2 or 3 week trip!


In those instances I just try to embrace the chaos. Be the chaos. It is the only thing to do.

Oh what am I going to do now that Downton Abbey is done for the season??

I can feel the lack already.

I will just have to have this YouTube video on constant loop.

And I have to say that I may HAVE to buy the series on DVD. The long, Downtonless, months ahead will be a little less empty that way.

Again this year I have seen very few of the movies that are nominated for Best Oscar. In fact I have seen a total of two, Moneyball (good, but then I like anything that has to do with baseball) and War Horse (also good if long. You have to stay on your toes to follow all the threads). For a time there, until I actually looked at the list, I thought The Iron Lady was also nominated. That would have put the grand total at three. But it is not nominated which seems right because it wasn’t that good of a film to be honest.

Yes I KNOW, I haven’t seen The Help. So shoot me. I will eventually get it on Netflix and I am sure that I will like it.

And I can hear Cartoon Girl all the way from NYC yelling at me because I have yet to see The Artist. Yeah, yeah I will get to it eventually. I have to watch The Scent of Green Papaya first (that is my current Netflix)

I won’t even be watching most of the Oscars anyways because it goes WAY past my bedtime.

And no, I won’t be DVRing it either.

This whole “not having a lot of snacks in the house” and “if I have to have a snack it has to be something I made” decision is killing me.

KILLING ME I tell you.

I am a snacker. I like to snack. I like to munch. I am almost 52 years old and I don’t think I am going to change now. But if it isn’t there to snack on then I cannot eat it.

How many times in recent weeks have I wondered into the pantry, intent on munching on something only to have to stand there and realize there isn’t anything that I can much ON.

I have been reduced to eating chocolate chips straight out of the bag.

I am that desperate. So I think I am going to have to make something sweet and naughty today.

Either that or things are just going to get really ugly around here.

This is my favorite picture of the week.

Often times, when I am shooting a home interior, I will encounter a dog or two. I always love that because, well, because I love dogs.

This is Rocky. And he was HILARIOUS. He just followed me around and wiggled and snuffled. I just stood there and chuckled as he valiantly worked to get up on this couch.

Seriously, who couldn’t love a face like that.

I have this strange habit of taking pictures of myself in the mirror. I cannot seem to help it.


I am so odd.

I know I said a few weeks ago that I would do a weekly ipod photo dump and put it in a collage…..

I seem to have fallen down on that job.


But here, at least, are the few pictures that I have taken with Dahling. I will try to do better.


My “new” purple Crocs. Purchased at Goodwill for a whopping $5. I love them.

I am always sad when I see an afghan, loving made by someone, hanging all lonely and forlorn in the thrift store. I want to buy them all and bring them home.

Life is very hard when you have to have your wine and appetizers out on the lanai by the pool. But someone has to do it I guess.

Release the hounds!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Out For Their Morning Constitutional

I love the area that I live in.

Do you know why?

It is because on any given day you might be going to work, in this case I was going to an early morning photo shoot.

You can park your car.

Get out.

Look behind you.

And see……


Coming quietly up the street in orderly fashion…..


An entire pack of hunting dogs from the local hunt club out for their morning stroll. They even stopped so that I could take a picture.


And then just calmly resumed their morning constitutional.

And the person on the bike?

She was in charge of the “poop patrol”.

Lucky her.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

52 Food Adventures (Vol 5)–OUZO!

Here we are again with another installment in my continuing adventures in the food world.

I really do sound pretentious. Blame Dandy cuz this whole thing was all her idea.

Man, I digressed within the first three sentences. Amazing.

At any rate. Moving on.

Do you know what Ouzo! is? I knew what it was but I will admit that I had never tasted it or used it in anything. Ouzo! is Greek alcohol (boy howdy!) with a distinctive anise flavor. Think black licorice.

If you don’t like black licorice don’t be scared away because it isn’t overwhelming in the recipe.

First let me say that deciding to use Ouzo! meant that I had to pay a call on my local liquor store. Skuttle in to the store hoping that no one sees my car in the parking lot.

Ask for the placement of the Ouzo!

Realize that one bottle costs…..$18!!!!!!!

Stand there for a moment trying to decide if it was worth it to do this recipe. Decide yes.

Skuttle back up to the counter and pay for the Ouzo! Have detailed conversation about the weather with the store owner.

Skulk out of the store with bottle in plain paper bag clutched in my hand hoping no one sees me.

Oh the Baptist Guilt!

Sorry. Now on to the recipe. I bet you never thought I would get there. This recipe actually came from an old issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine.


These are all the ingredients that you will need. I don’t think you can possibly go wrong.


You can’t go wrong with Feta cheese. It is deeelicious.

First you should open the Ouzo! and take a nice big whiff so that you know what you are dealing with. And then pour yourself a very small amount and take a taste.


This stuff tastes like liquid Good and Plenty candy….with a BIG alcohol kick.


Debbie gives a big thumbs up to Ouzo!


MMMMMMMMM, Shrimp. The first thing you are going to do is put the shrimp in a bowl and then add some olive oil, lemon zest, salt, garlic and Ouzo! Just let them sit and get to know each other for a bit. They love each other and want to be together forever.


Heating olive oil in my trusty cast iron skillet. I love that thing.


Then you are going to want to add your diced up red pepper and onions to the pan and saute them. The recipe calls for green pepper as well but green pepper and I don’t get along so I left them at the store. The red pepper did just fine by itself.


Then you are going to add the rest of the garlic as well as some red pepper flakes. Thank goodness I looked at the recipe again BEFORE I put this in. I had measured out 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes instead of the 1/4 teaspoon that the recipe called for.

Put on your glasses Deb!!!


Then a can of diced tomatoes with the juice.


Then some white wine.

White wine AND Ouzo!? Deb you are a wild woman. Wild I say.


Then just a tad more Ouzo! You will be the better for it I promise you.

Then you let this all reduce down until the sauce is thicker and lovely. Give it a bit of a taste to see if you have added enough salt and pepper. If you want (and it isn’t written in the recipe) you can add a tablespoon of butter to thicken up the sauce.

There is also some chopped Italian parsley that goes in as well but I forgot to take a picture of it.

While the sauce is reducing you need to start the pasta water boiling. That is if you are going to serve this over pasta, which I was.


Ohio City Pasta lemon pepper fettuccini. Oh be still my beating heart.

When you throw this into the boiling water you can also put the shrimp into the sauce. You don’t want to overcook either the pasta or the shrimp.


Stir the shrimp around, turn the heat down a bit and cover the pan. You should not over cook the shrimp or they will be tough like leather.

Leather shrimp isn’t all that appealing for dinner.

When the pasta is done and the shrimp are done you are going to grab your plates plus the feta cheese and the dill.

Did I mention the dill?


Dried dill from the garden. It may look strange but it smells fab.


Then you quickly sprinkle with feta cheese and dill. Take a picture which is so so at best.

And then sit down and eat.

Greek-Style Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Lost Post Returns.

Hurrah for Windows Live Writer! The post that was lost has now returned. And that is really good because I have nothing else to write about today.

It Feels So Good To Win

Have I ever mentioned that HHBL is a graduate of Valparaiso University? Well he is and now you know.

And every year the Valpo men’s basketball team plays our own Cleveland State University Vikings. It is the only time that I know of that HHBL roots against a Cleveland team.

And for the last few years there has been a “Meet and Greet and Eat” kind of shindig that the Alumni Assoc. puts on before the game. You know, you go, you have a name tag, you hope that you see people that you know. In my case that doesn’t happen because I didn’t go to Valpo but I still find someone to talk to.

This year we made a special effort to go because Homer Drew was the speaker. Homer was at one time the coach for the men’s basketball team at Valpo and he is just a generally all around nice guy, whose son happens to be the current coach. And HHBL wanted to go to hear him speak and to watch a bit of basketball. And I went along.


Sorry for the blurry picture. Evidently I had the setting wrong. It happens. Homer Drew was great. We loved hearing him speak.

But, I cannot say that the meal portion of the “Meet and Greet and Eat” was all that spectacular. What I can say was that it was AWFUL. Totally and completely AWFUL. And that was completely NOT the fault of the Valpo girl who was in charge. It can be laid at the feet of the catering service at the Wolstein Center. Right at their feet.


They ran out of hamburgers and condiments long before everyone had gotten food. The food was late being sent up in the first place. When they did finally get a few hamburgers up to the room they weren’t even hamburgers they were veggie burgers that had chunks of corn in them. HELLO, did you think we wouldn’t notice? And they finally brought up another batch of lukewarm hamburgers and congealed fries just about the time that everyone was leaving to go to the game. Nor did they ever refill any of the water/lemonade/iced tea pitchers. Those were dry almost from the get go. I had to resort to having one of these…..

IMG_5993It was a wrench but I managed to get through it. Dr. Pepper is, after all, the only soda that counts.

But finally, after all the food fiasco, we wandered down to the game just before tip off. The last time we went to a CSU-Valpo game it wasn’t a very good outcome for Valpo. It was painful is the best way to describe it.

But not this time.

IMG_5999A Valpo dominated right from the tip off. Dominated I tell you. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!


They seemed to be having trouble finding the hoop. And Valpo seemed to be hitting everything they shot.


In it goes thank you very much.


And there it goes again. Swish!


Did these people pay extra for dinner and a show? If they did then they were gipped.


This is HHBL and his college roomie. They are sort of fuzzy I am afraid. That darn 85mm lens and all the crowds that I was fighting against. I couldn’t get far enough back without getting jostled. Oh well, sometimes it is nice to go through life a bit fuzzy.


There was one injury on the court I am afraid. A player going down and grabbing his knee is never a good thing. He was out for the game but was at court side. And every time there was a time out of any length…..


He was up and out on the court with the help of one of his team mates.


Straight down the court and into the net. Take that CSU!

And finally the game was done. And the loudest cheers were coming from the tiny contingent of Valpo fans, many of the CSU fans having already exited the building.


And the moon was full on the way home with nary a cloud in the sky.


And that is what happens when you are trying to take a picture of the moon. The perfect picture. And your husband hits a pot hole. We have a lot of those around here.

And I actually like the picture strange as that may seem.

I am odd that way.

And it really feels good to win.

Oh, and I forgot to tell you that with that win Valpo moved into 1st place in their division.