Kentucky Plants And Wildlife – A Day In The Kentucky Woods

Kentucky Plants And Wildlife – A Day In The Kentucky Woods
April 23, 2017

   Kentucky Plants And Wildlife – Since the weather was gorgeous this year during spring break, we took the grandkids for a day of adventure in the Kentucky woods.  (You know this has to be better than having them sit in front of some video game.)

    Middle Creek Park in Boone County Kentucky is a really nice place to just enjoy a walk in the woods.  The kids discovered lots of surprises in the woods.  You’d be surprised at how observant they really are.

    We found yellow trillium and purple trillium.


    We found ‘Blue-Eyed Mary’s’!  I had never seen these before and guessed they were probably some type of viola.  Wrong!  These wildflowers, apparently, thrive in low moist areas in woodland; and that is exactly where we found these.  There was just a beautiful blue and green carpet of these covering the woodland floor.


    We found a ladybug resting on a dried brown leaf.

    Aidan found a box turtle and wanted to take him home.  He probably would have changed his mind after carrying him around for while, but I explained that the woods was a really good home for him.  I suggested that saving one of those little turtles from a pet store was perhaps a better idea.  He agreed.

   As Aidan and Will walked along the creek, Will commented that Aidan was walking a little too close to the edge and might slide down into the creek.  A few seconds later, he was in water up to his knees.

  Then, there was Will’s nonchalant comment, “See, I told you.”

    After pushing his wet pants up to his knees, he felt he was already wet, might as well enjoy it.

   Aidan found these fossils and told us how he had learned about what they are on a school field trip.


   We found a fiddlehead fern.  The new growth of most ferns is called a fiddlehead.  The name fiddlehead is simply because the new fronds look like the decorative scrolled end on a fiddle.


    We saw wild blue phlox growing on the woodland floor.  Wild blue phlox grow in woodlands, wetlands, and along the edges of fields by the woods.  The petals are usually a blue or blue-violet color.

    The Virginia Bluebells,(Mertensia virginica), were blooming. They are easily recognizable because the little individual flowers have five petals that are fused together onto a long tube and they bloom in clusters.

   We saw bleeding hearts and these tiny white flowers, which we’ve identified as’Cleavers (Balium Aparine)‘, also known as Goosegras.  I love the leaves on this plant.


    These are some of the cutest little flowers!  They are called Dutchman’s Breeches, (Dicentra cucullaria).  These flowers resemble old-fashioned pantaloons hanging upside down.


   Star Chickweed, (Stellaria pubera), grow 6 – 12 inches high.  What appears to be ten petals on these are actually five petals, which are deeply partially divided into two.  The stamens are tipped with dark anthers that almost look like colored polka dots against the white flowers.


    And, of course, we saw May apples.  When the May apples are up, so are the morel mushrooms but we didn’t see any of those in this woods, unfortunately.


   The kids could not resist crossing the creek on this moss covered fallen log.  

    Aidan’s observant eye caught sight of several snails.  He was mesmerized by the tiny little creatures.  It’s amazing what you can find in the woods, isn’t it?


   The kids enjoyed fresh air, a long walk through the woods, and learned a thing or two on the way.  Frankly, I learned about some unfamiliar wildflowers, too.  Kentucky Native Plants And Wildlife – A Day In The Kentucky Woods and it was a memorable time for all.




Indianapolis Children’s Museum Kid’s Spring Break Adventure

Indianapolis Children’s Museum Kid’s Spring Break Adventure

April 17, 2017

   This past week we had some ideas for spring break adventures with the grandkids.  The week began with a two-hour drive to Indianapolis.  We only heard, “Are we there yet?” one time.

  The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis

   Anubis, the jackal-headed god statue, which was believed to be the guide and protector of the dead in Egypt, stands watch over the Children’s museum parking garage.   The statue is 26-feet tall and weighs five tons.   Parking is free!

    Banners greet guests as they walk down the hallway to the entrance of the museum.  The Chocolate Slide caught Sophie’s and Aidan’s attention right off the bat.

    The 17-foot Bumblebee Transformer standing in the lobby was an impressive site.  Even if you aren’t big into transformers, this definitely grabs your attention and is quite impressive.  It slowly rotates, keeping vigil over the entire room.  He was originally built as a prop for the 2007 Transformer movie.


   We went through ‘Dinosphere’, where we were able to see, hear, and smell bits of the Cretaceous period.  



    And, of course, Aidan was the first to sit down at every interactive game at each display!  He’s fascinated with technology, as all boys are now.


    How interesting is this little dinosaur?  He is a ‘Dracores Hogwartsia’.   He looks like a dragon!  Apparently, he is one of the new dinosaurs and is a member of the ‘Bone Head’ family.  But, seriously,  doesn’t he look like a dragon? 

    Remember when we stayed at the Union Station Crowne Plaza in Indianapolis for Mother’s Day in 2015?  The same style of statues was all over that hotel.  I love these, don’t you?


   This conductor statue is a part of the train display.  Of course, Dave, being a retired railroader, had to check this display out thoroughly.  

    This actual 1890’s train engine from Madison, Indiana was  a ‘pushing engine’ not the normal ‘pulling engine’.  Apparently, Madison had the steepest grade in the United States and this train was used to push cars up that steep grade.   At that time the ‘Reuben Wells’ was the most powerful locomotive in the world.  It is on permanent display in the museum.


   Walking back into the passenger car, the train whistles and sounds of a train surround you.  It’s easy to imagine being there back in the day.

    We got to see the Terra Cotta Warriors and Aidan and Sophie reconstructed a warrior, which they found a bit challenging.


   Then it was on to space travel.  Familiar costumes from Star Trek and props from movies were displayed.


  The kids enjoyed seeing the toys from the past but they seemed to really enjoy pushing buttons…


and pulling knobs in this section of the museum.


   One of my favorite displays was the floating ceiling blown glass display.  There was actually a rotating round sofa to sit back on and view the lovely glass above.

   On the ramp to the next floor, the view of the blown glass tower stunned us.   Seattle artists blew these glass pieces and shipped them to Indianapolis.  It is 43 feet tall and weighs 18,000 pounds.  Dale Chihuly created the tower with over 3000 pieces of blown glass.

    Then, we entered the ‘Circus’!  Sophie and Aidan weren’t sure where to go first.

    Sophie crawled inside the cannon.  I think she crawled and climbed on just about everything.  It’s a good thing this is a ‘hands on’ place for kids.

    Sophie tried out the spinning hoops.  She even turned upside down at one point!

   Aidan seemed to enjoy trying out the Indy 500 car, probably imagining himself in that famous Indianapolis race.


  The carousel was on the fourth floor and the calliope music filled the air.   Young or old, who could resist riding the carousel for just one dollar?

    There is so much to see here at the Children’s Museum and almost everything is included in the admission price. There were life-sized playhouses, biotechnology areas, doll houses, and much more.  The kids had a great time and four hours went by in no time.

   Yes, we had a great “Indianapolis Children’s Museum Kid’s Spring Break Adventure.  You might consider taking your young children or your grandchildren to this wonderful place if you are in the Indianapolis area.  You’ll be glad you did!




Close To Cincinnati? You Need To Check Out These Places

Close To Cincinnati? You Need To Check Out These Places

Close To Cincinnati? You Need To Check Out These Places

January 27, 2017

      If you’ve ever driven up or down I-75 through Cincinnati, you have probably seen Jungle Jim’s International Market.  You may recall having seen the tram that was purchased from King’s Island, which is stored in this building protected by the huge snake.

   A little over a year ago, we took the grandkids to Jungle Jim’s in Eastgate, which is amazing, by the way.  Although we have been there a few times, we had never visited Jungle Jim’s in Fairfield.

    In pursuit of some kitchen items, which I couldn’t seem to find on this side of the river, Dave and I took a trip around I-275.  We stopped at Old Time Pottery across the interstate from Cincinnati Mills Mall.  Their stock is constantly changing and on this day, the items I was in search of were not to be found there.  We used to have an Old Time Pottery in Florence and I miss having it so close. 

    Knowing that Jungle Jim’s was close by, we got back into the car and headed there.   The parking lot was pretty full.

     Upon entering the store, we quickly realized we could be here for hours looking for the cookwares.  Spotting a bunch of maps displayed by another entrance, I headed for them.  A gentleman who worked there must have noticed my ‘lost look’ and asked if he could help.  

    After asking him if they had housewares, he laughed and said, “Do we have housewares?”  


   He pulled out one of the maps and pointed out the section at the back on the other side of the building.  

   On our way, we saw the yacht above with the Gilligan’s Island crew and lots of tropical fruits.  Dave had to check out the seafood.  They have tanks of live fish and lobsters.


   Just like the Jungle Jim’s in Eastgate, they have a firetruck and loads of hot sauce.  Every kind you can imagine and some you can’t.

    And back beside the Great Britain display, I found the section I needed.  King Kong hovered above it.  This place is massive!


    Here, you can find every kind of pot, pan, dish, utensil, server, and whatever you need to cook or bake.  Yes, I found the items I had been searching for here in the Italian section, a gnocchi board and right behind here, a potato ricer.

   Even though I have made gnocchi before, I admit it, I am a sucker for cooking and baking gadgets!  These will help make the process a little easier, the end product a little lighter and the ridges on this little board will help the gnocchi hold the sauce.  You can use the back of a fork for that, too.  Whatever… I told you I like gadgets.

     I  found a small pair of serving tongs, which will come in handy.  We picked up some arborio rice for risotto.   They have it in bulk and the price is about half what it is in our local store.  Score!  This place is overwhelming!  Don’t go here hungry!  At this point we were hungry and we paid for our things and left but we’ll be back.


    From there, we headed west on I-275, which loops around Cincinnati.  Just off of I-275 at 6052 State Route 128  in Cleves, Ohio is Kreimer’s Bier Haus, which serves German food and specialty beers.   The people who work here are friendly and the food is good.  We stopped here for a late lunch.


  As you walk in, you are greeted by a hostess and this huge bar.  


    There is a deck out back where you can be seated at a handmade table with benches in better weather.    On this day, we sat inside where more handmade benches and tables are.

   Kreimer’s has daily specials, which you can see on the card below.  Our favorite day to go here is Sunday!  You can order any 2 entrees for $30.00!

    There is no Saturday special and yes, that was the day we stopped by here.  Since it was lunch time, I had a salad with grilled chicken and Dave had this impressive plate of food.

    His choice was a burger on a pretzel bun loaded with onion straws and french fries. ( Usually, he orders one of their steaks.)

    There is also a patio in the back and a bar where you can order your favorite drinks.  The back overlooks the Great Miami River.  In the summer they have music, too.


   Yes, this has become one of our favorite places and we recommend it.  It was a successful day in pursuit of kitchen gadgets and an added bonus was stopping at Kreimer’s for another delicious meal.  Close to Cincinnati?  You need to check out these places!



5 Reasons You’ll Love to Visit Southern Indiana Now

5 Reasons You’ll Love to Visit Southern Indiana Now

 Southern Indiana 

October 5, 2016

   There are many reasons to visit Southern Indiana but here are 5 Reasons You’ll Love To Visit Southern Indiana Now.

 #1  Breaded Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches.

   From Northern Kentucky, Dave and I took a leisurely drive across the Ohio River into Indiana.  As cooler weather approaches, this drive will be even more beautiful when the trees begin to show off their Fall colors.  We drove through Lawrenceburg and in Aurora we headed south and drove along the river on Hwy. 56.

    Enjoying the rolling hills and the scenery, we drove through Rising Sun, Vevay, Madison, Scottsburg, and stopped for lunch in Salem.   In Salem is a little restaurant named “Christy’s On The Square”.

   The friendly people who work here make you feel so welcome!  The restaurant is clean and neat.  Aside from that, they make the best ‘breaded pork tenderloin sandwich’ I have ever had!  The breading is light and delicious.  The pork is tender and so filling.  The French fries are some of the best we have ever had, too. (Dave ate half of mine!)  But, I would definitely go back for their breaded pork tenderloin!

     From Salem, we headed west, driving through Livonia, Paoli, and into French Lick.  We had booked a room at the French Lick Hotel.  

 #2 The French Lick Hotel


   This hotel is beautiful!  The whole atmosphere is laid back.  The people who work at the hotel are, once again, so friendly!  The whole weekend, they all smiled and greeted us as they walked by.

   Visitors were taking in the view while resting on chairs and benches on the huge wraparound porch, as we came from and went to the hotel. 

   Take a look at these beautiful ceilings, not to mention the gold highlighting the architectural elements!  The entrance and lobby are just breathtaking. 


   Our room overlooked the upper and lower gardens.  Of course, we chose the wing with the garden view over the casino and the spa wings.

The tranquil Asian garden was a calming surprise here.

 #3 West Baden Hotel

     The West Baden Hotel was once called the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’.  You can see why if you check out a picture of the atrium dome!  There were 12-million 1-inch tiles artistically applied to the floor in this gorgeous room.   It is truly impressive.

  Al Capone, boxer Joe Lewis, Helen Keller, the Studebaker’s, and many other famous people and families have visited these hotels.

    In 1902 the wooden building was destroyed by fire.  It was rebuilt using brick and as many inflammable materials as possible, in place of wood.  This time, the 200′ dome, which was the world’s largest dome at the time, was also created.

    It was a very successful business until the Wall Street Crash of 1929.  People started leaving the hotel and it was pretty well cleared out overnight.  In just over two years the hotel was closed.  During the depression, people weren’t staying at luxury hotels.

   The Jesuits bought the property for $1.00 after the depression in 1934.  Sadly, they filled in some of the mineral springs and today they are covered with cement. They also removed some of the beautiful things in the hotel and dismantled the four Moorish towers.  

   They opened a seminary called West Baden College, which closed in 1964.  

    In the picture, you can see the cement floor that now covers one of the springs.  The windows are Tiffany glass!

    The outside of this building is brick and limestone.  When it was built the brick was covered with glazed brick as white and smooth as porcelain.  The sign outside the building said these bricks were known as ‘Tiffany’ and are worth about $100.00 each.

 In 1966, the Jesuits sold the property to a Michigan couple who donated it to a private college that was in operation until 1983.

    A small cemetery still stands adjacent to the back of the garden where several of the Jesuits were buried.

   In 1974, the property was listed as a National Historic Landmark.

  In 1983, the property was abandoned and left to deteriorate.  Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana purchased the property in 1996 and began to restore this beautiful landmark.

    From 1985 -1994 there was a battle to decide who really owned the property.

   Finally, in 1996, Cook Group Incorporated of Bloomington, Indiana started restoring the property.

    In 2003, the Indiana Legislature approved the overseeing of the hotels and the casino.  In 2007 the hotel reopened.

    A more detailed story of the West Baden Springs Hotel can be found here ►West Baden Springs Hotel.

   I took a lot of pictures here and at the French Lick Hotel.  More are posted on

My Humble Home and Garden’s Facebook page if you are interested.

# 4 The Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper, Indiana

    The first time I ever ate at the Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper was in the early 70’s.  I had their ‘Sauerbraten with Potato Glaze.’  Tender beef marinated with a sweet & sour wine gravy.  The ‘potato glaze’ is a potato dumpling ball centered with bread crumbs and covered in sauerbraten gravy. If we lived closer, maybe we would try more of their German dishes!


   As it is, this has been an occasional craving of mine since that day!  Anytime we are near Jasper, we make it a point to stop here.



#5 Having to  S l o w  Your Pace Enough to Enjoy the Scenery!

   Driving through parts of Southern Indiana, you might have to slow down for farm equipment or an occasional horse and buggy driven by the Amish.

    As I drove, (We took my car.) it struck me how really beautiful the cornfields are!  Growing up in Southern Indiana, I don’t think I recognized the true beauty of the cornfields.   

   Memories of running barefoot through the cornfields to my friend’s house and back came flooding back.   I had to smile. 

   On this trip, we passed freshly picked cornfields, cornfields ready to be picked, and some in the process of being picked.  Spread across many acres, field after field, it was really a beautiful sight. 

   Yes, although there are more, there you have it, 5 Reasons You’ll Love to Visit Southern Indiana Now.



Cooking Classes For Little Kids at Local Restaurants?

Cooking Classes For Little Kids at Local Restaurants?

September 22, 2016

Cooking Classes

  Not knowing exactly what to expect, I bought tickets to a cooking class for kids atMaggiano’s Little Italy in Kenwood Towne Centre in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The information was found on their Facebook page.   Apparently, this chain has kid’s classes all over the United States. 

   When asked if she would like to go, Sophia was beyond excited.  She loves helping in the kitchen and has expressed a desire to be a chef.  

   The extra bonus was that we would be making treats for our dog Lady, her Dad’s dog Winston, and Sunny her other grandma’s dog.   A portion of the proceeds from the cooking class will be donated to Tri-State CART, a local Animal Response Team, and Brother Wolf Animal Rescue to help with search and recovery efforts in Louisiana.

    When we arrived at the restaurant, we were directed to the lady’s room to wash our hands.  Then, we were escorted to a banquet room with large round tables.  A chef’s hat sat at each place and an apron was draped over the back of each chair.  


   A couple of aluminum take out containers, a pair of disposable food service gloves, a bowl of dry oatmeal, a small container of water, and a couple of plastic spoons were placed at each setting.  A large bowl of pumpkin puree sat in the middle of the table. 

   Printed recipes for two dishes, one for the dog treat and one for lasagna were also on the table. 

   Several children along with a parent or grandparent filled most of the chairs in the room.  The class was for children 5 and up, who had to be accompanied by an adult.  One of the boys with his grandmother had been to these cooking classes before.

    Chef Karl introduced himself and gave some interesting information about the restaurant and about the food service business.  He also quizzed the kids on different vegetables and herbs, passing those around so the kids could familiarize themselves with some of the ingredients.

    Kristin, who worked at the restaurant, gave directions on how to make the ‘No-Bake Dog Treats’ first.  The treats are actually good for the dogs.  I didn’t realize that the adults would be making these, too.  Sophia was tickled.  She wanted to be sure there would be treats for all of her dog friends.  She listened attentively and took it very seriously.


    After mixing the ingredients, we were instructed to roll the oatmeal mixture into small balls for the dogs.  Sophia got creative with hers and rolled one into a cylindrical shape and one into a patty.  She said Winston would like those shapes better.  Cooking Classes For Little Kids at Local Restaurants? on

   The lid was placed on that container, the mess and plastic gloves were whisked away, and it was on to the lasagna.

   Chef Karl explained the ingredients and demonstrated how to assemble the lasagna in the containers.  The kids all listened and watched attentively.  Then it was their turn. 

   The container was layered with marinara sauce, lasagna pasta, ricotta cheese filling, parmesan cheese, meat filling, mozzarella cheese, the layers were repeated, and then it was topped off with provolone cheese.  That container was sealed shut.  The empty bowls, the used gloves, and mess were once again whisked away.

   Then, plates, napkins, and silverware were placed on the table.  Next, bowls of pasta and salad were served family style.  I don’t know what is in it, but the salad dressing is, without a doubt, the best I have ever had!  ( Couldn’t get the recipe, but Chef Karl gave us a little takeout container with some to take home!)


   All in all, we got a lot for the price of the ticket!  A cooking class, dog treats, a meal, a take-home meal to bake and share with the family, and a memorable afternoon with my granddaughter!

  Yes, if you have a little aspiring chef in your family, I would recommend these classes.  The kids all seemed to really enjoy the class.  I can guarantee Sophia will be making lasagna soon, and of course, more dog treats.  Lady, Winston, and Sunny all love them!

  Cooking Classes For Little Kids at Local Restaurants?  Yes, there are probably some close to you!



Jungle Jim’s International Market

November 22, 2015

Jungle Jim’s International Market Eastgate


   Aidan, my grandson, wanted a coconut and I suggested we take a little trip to Jungle Jim’s International Market.  This market is over 200,000 square feet of goods from around the world.  Aidan, Sophia, Will, and I made the half-hour trip, heading east on the I-275 loop around Cincinnati to Eastgate and took the Batavia exit.


   The kids were excited the whole time and Aidan kept saying how big Jungle Jim’s  was and he was convinced it was much better than our local grocery!  


      The kids were amazed at the big stacks of huge bags of rice in the Far East section of the store.  This is a store that is so enjoyable if you are an adult and are just looking for something unusual.  It is way more enjoyable to watch and listen to kids exploring it for the first time.  They were amazed at all of the drinks in each section of the store.  (They kept putting unusual drinks in the cart.)  They found the candy and cookies in the section from Holland.  

    They found bacon flavored lip balm in the aisle where the fire truck was perched above their heads.  There is a huge selection of hot sauces just behind this truck.  I never knew there were so many hot sauces, but the shelves in this room are lined with hundreds of bottles of hot sauce!

    Yes, that is a ship!  We found the aisle with food from the Carribean, South Africa, and Jamaica.

    Of course, they had to test the seats from an old plane.  They noticed the ashtrays in the arm rests.   They buckled themselves in and imagined they would be flying someday.

    We found the live lobsters and the live fish.  We also found an interesting sign that said, “Fish Heads and Thangs”.

    Will and Aidan checked out the exotic meats, but they were not quite adventurous enough to choose any to take home for dinner.

    Aidan’s search for coconuts was successful!  They each chose a coconut and after thoroughly inspecting their coconuts, they placed them in the shopping cart.

    Did anyone say ‘honey’?  Honey, from around the world, lines all sides of this display.

    The Jelly Belly car greeted us at the entrance to the candy section.  There was a vast array of candy in that section!  The kids did not know where to look next.  Aidan was amazed at the biggest gummi snake in the world.   It was a mere eight-foot long.   You can have one of your own, but it has to be special ordered.


    This huge gingerbread house was on display as we neared the cash registers.  Sophie asked if it was real.  Trying to figure that out for myself, I noticed the sign which indicated it was indeed real and the cookies used in the gingerbread house were displayed beneath it!

    By this time everyone was a little hungry.  A few doors down from Jungle Jim’s is Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries.  What a great place!  We all loved the retro look and the food was very good and reasonable.  The kid’s meals are served in a ‘car’!

    If you ever find yourself on the east side of Cincinnati, you should stop in and enjoy Jungle Jim’s International Market and Hwy 55 Burgers Shakes and Fries!

Swansboro, NC Visit

June 17, 2015

    Each time we head south to the coast of North Carolina and we are within a short drive of Swansboro, we visit this quaint historic town.  It is located at the mouth of the White Oak River, where the river joins the Atlantic Ocean.

   We always stop at Yana’s and have a cold drink and a bite to eat.  A life-sized Elvis greets everyone at the front door.  The little shop is filled with memorabilia, taking you back in time.  We sat at the booth with a variety of pictures of Marilyn Monroe.

    A few years ago, my sister and I stopped in and had a little lunch.  They were considering adding strawberry fritters to their menu and asked if we would try them on the house and give them our opinion.  They were delicious!

     Dave and I stopped in last week.  Dave ordered sweet tea for both of us and yes, we had an order of strawberry fritters!  They were delicious.  In addition to the strawberry, they also have peach and apple fritters.   I also had a bowl of vanilla ice cream, which tasted so good with the fritters.  Dave had a root beer float.  Oh my,  we were on a sugar high after we left there!  (That little sugar feast is something we never do!)

   We stopped in most of the little stores on North Front Street.  Some we have visited in the past and some were new to us.  We picked up a few interesting items.  Aidan, our grandson, loaded up on pirate toys while we were in Beaufort.  He was disappointed that the compass which he bought did not work correctly.  

   We found and bought a really neat compass in a little brass case at the ‘Poor Man’s Hole’, a shop full of interesting antiques.  Aidan loved the compass!  It actually works and it looked impressive in the brass case resembling a pocket watch.

   We stopped in at the little quilt shop, which has been there for as long as I can remember. These little headbands that had ribbon roses on them caught my eye.  I bought the pink one for Memphis.  These would be so easy to make, another DIY idea!

    The ‘Port O’ Swannsborough’ is another shop we visited.  This store always has some interesting souvenirs, gifts, and they have Christmas ornaments and decorations year round.

   I found an interesting kitchen gadget there by Charles Viancin.  I wasn’t sure what it was at first, but their display piqued my interest and explained the uses quite well.

   This silicone lid seals tightly on all smooth rimmed stainless steel, glass, plastic, and ceramic containers.  There are different sizes and different flower designs.  I bought one of the nine-inch poppy lids.  I am going to test this one and if it works well, I think I will buy more.  They can be used in place of plastic or aluminum foil in the refrigerator.  It is safe to use as a lid on the stove top, the microwave, and in the oven up to 428 degrees.  It is also dishwasher safe.

   They had little ones to use on coffee mugs or drinks, which they claimed would keep the beverage cold or hot.  I am thinking these would make great Christmas presents. 

   If you are ever near this quaint little town, you should visit!  We always love our Swansboro, NC visits.


Memphis Belle

June 15, 2015

    Our beach vacation was interrupted with the news that Memphis Belle would be arriving six weeks early.  Tuesday, a call from our daughter, Danielle, informed us that she had severe preeclampsia and they were planning to induce labor as soon as possible.  Medicines began and the news was that Memphis Belle would probably be born Friday or Saturday.

    My phone is not attached to my side at every moment, as a rule, but I was checking it constantly and waiting for news.  It was always within reach this last week.  Saturday morning Dave and I got up at four thirty to pack up things and help Jon-Michael and Emily start back early.  They had a graduation party to attend that evening.

    Then I checked my phone for messages.  Danielle delivered at 4:45 A.M.  Our third grandchild, Memphis Belle, was born weighing four pounds two ounces and measuring sixteen and a half inches long.  She was healthy and doing great.  Danielle said Memphis didn’t want us to have the party we were planning without her.

   Danielle’s blood pressure has been elevated the last couple of weeks and they are still working on getting it down.  The nurse said it usually goes back to normal within a week or two after delivery unless there is a family history of high blood pressure.  There is not so we are expecting that it will return to normal soon.   

    Danielle has been puffy and swollen with water weight for a few weeks now. She is anxious to shed the extra fluids and get back to her normal size and good health.  Who wouldn’t be?

    We returned home safely about ten-thirty Saturday evening.  Sunday morning, Dave and I went to the hospital to see both of them.  Danielle’s face looked less swollen, but she seems to be having more problems than Memphis.  They did a cat scan to see what was going on with her lungs.  They were afraid there might be a blood clot, but it apparently was fluid built up around her lungs causing breathing difficulty.  Hopefully, that is better today.

    We both got to hold Memphis.  I did not want to put her down but needed to take pictures!  Dave held her while I took a few dozen photos!  Tiffany took the picture above with my camera.  As you can see in the picture, her little forearm is about the size of my thumb!

     The nurse said her lungs are working at one hundred percent capacity and she is eating well.  Danielle chose a strong name for a strong little girl.  If the name sounds familiar, it is the name of a B-17 Bomber based in Britain during the Second World War.   The Memphis Belle inspired the making of two motion pictures.  We will probably have to hunt down those movies now!

    At this point, we don’t know when Danielle or Memphis will be able to leave the hospital.  Hopefully, they will improve each day and be home soon.  We have a lot to do now in a short amount of time to help Danielle and Kris prepare for Memphis Belle.  


East Coast Beach Vacation

 June 9, 2015
     Our east coast beach vacation has begun on Emerald Isle in North Carolina.  This is my favorite beach.  Over the years, we have been to other beaches in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Guam, and Alaska.  For some reason, this particular beach is just my favorite.  

   Two of my children, their hopefully,  soon to be spouses, and the grandchildren are vacationing with us.  The only thing better than vacationing at the beach is sharing it with your family.  This was the first time the grandchildren have been able to experience the beach.  To say that they were and are excited is an understatement.

   Before we left Kentucky I planned a special drink for them.  On Pinterest, there was a copycat recipe for Sonic’s ocean water.  I have never been to Sonic and had no idea what it was.  After checking out several sites, the recipe always seemed the same, so I made sure I bought the Swedish fish on the trip down here.  We picked up the other ingredients at the local Food Lion grocery.

   Sophia rode down with her Papa and me.  On the way down I had told her I had a surprise drink for her and Aidan.   She was excited to help with the drink because I told her the Swedish fish were for their special drink.

    The basic recipe is:  one-half cup of white granulated sugar mixed with one-half cup of water and microwaved for forty-five seconds, longer if needed, so the sugar dissolves.  (I made this simple syrup beforehand and chilled in the refrigerator until it was time for the kids to come up from the beach.

   Sophia and Aidan rode the waves for awhile.

    Then Aidan rode on his boogie board.

  Sophia collected sea shells for a necklace, a bracelet, and a picture frame, all of which I promised I would help her make.

   They were definitely ready for a drink after all of that!

    When they came up from the beach, the simple syrup I had made earlier, was poured into a pitcher.  Three teaspoons of coconut extract, six drops of blue food coloring were also added and then stirred briskly to combine.   Next, a whole forty-two- ounce bottle of Sprite was poured into the mixture and stirred once more.  

    Yes, this a super simple drink!   The blue drink was then poured over ice cubes into a clear glass.  A couple of Swedish fish were dropped into the beverage and a colorful straw was added just before serving.

    The kids loved it!  They were served the ‘Ocean Water’ on the deck as they watched the waves roll in on the shore.  They said it was the best drink ever, but the adult children were also wanting to taste this concoction and decided it was pretty tasty, too.  Nate and Tiffany decided it would taste pretty good with a little bit of Malibu Rum, which apparently is a coconut rum.  Perhaps we will have to try that in place of the coconut extract or in addition to it.  We will have to work on it and let you know later!

    In the meantime, we are enjoying our beach vacation.


Happy Mother’s Day and The Best Steak Ever!

May 11, 2015

     Dave took me to Indianapolis for Mother’s Day weekend, where I had a happy Mother’s Day and the best steak ever! He wanted me to see the Crowne Plaza Hotel in the old Union Station building.  He worked for the railroad for almost forty years and finally retired last year.  He clearly has an appreciation for anything railroad, although he would not admit that.

   While keeping the integrity of the building, they have created a beautiful hotel in the heart of downtown.  It is easy to walk to a variety of great restaurants.  The convention center is just across the street or accessible through the skywalk.  The skywalk also leads to Lucas Oil Stadium.

    Throughout the hotel were these white statues, reminiscent of the past.  The conductor looking at his watch, a man having his shoes shined by a young boy, and a sailor lighting his cigarette were just a few of them.  It was so interesting to see these statues and easily imagine that people dressed like this actually frequented the Union Station at one time.  It definitely gives a feel of the past.

   The building is lit through the night, but I could imagine the halls in darkness and one of those statues looking eerily like a ghost from the past.


   The staff at the Crowne Plaza was very friendly, courteous and helpful.  It was such a nice place to stay.

   We ate dinner at the Ruth’s Chris Steak House.  It was just a short walk from the hotel.  Oh, my gosh!  The food was beyond delicious!   The waiter suggested a lobster appetizer, which we were coaxed into pretty easily.   They were little puffs of goodness with just a little kick of heat. My favorite steak is filet mignon.  This was the best filet mignon I have ever had in my life!   

No, there was no room for dessert.  

    Dave grills steaks from Sam’s Club on our grill at home.  There are not many restaurants around here with better tasting-steaks than ours.  Well, Ruth’s Chris Steak House steak was so good, I kept trying to figure out how they made those so much better.  

    I started looking for a copycat recipe when I got back home.  There was one, which had to be purchased, but I found a few that were free and seemed to agree with the same process and the same ingredients.    You can find one here, ►Copycat Recipe for Filet Mignon, and it was free.

    I remember the waiter warning us about the plates being five hundred degrees and we should be careful not to touch them.  The butter was sizzling on the plate.  (I wish I had one in front of me right now!)  It seems, from what I can gather, that the secret is the broiler and butter!  A teaspoon and a half of butter rubbed over the top and bottom of the steak was key to the amazing flavor.  The oven-safe serving plates are heated in the oven through the pre-heat and broiling of the steaks, too.  Then another tablespoon of butter placed on the extremely hot plate, which should sizzle until completely melted.  The steaks are then placed on the plates and fresh parsley sprinkled on the meat and on the butter around it.

    Here is hoping you had a happy Mother’s Day!   Dave treated me to a memorable happy Mother’s Day and the best steak ever!