Monday, February 29, 2016

Visitors Bearing Treats!

Sure -  the scratches from Aunt MC are fun but LOOK - Someone brought truffles from the Chocolate Garden in Coloma, Michigan!

About The Chocolate Garden

Check out their website - my best friend MC and her fella Mr. B stopped by yesterday to help us pull out the stamped steel 40's countertop for the kitchen remodel and she brought a goodie bag.  The truffles were incredible! (Ginger Citrus - OH MY!)

(And the Red Wine Vinegar Italian Dressing from St. Julian Winery and the Hammond chocolate bars from Denver were also much appreciated).  Thanks my friends!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

You Had Me At Woof

Photo from Frankie and Ernie's Blog

A couple of you that have my email asked where Abby the Lab got the pretty bracelet present (that said "you had me at woof") for Frankie Furter's Mom for Valentine's Day.

Here is a close up from the Etsy shop it was purchased  from.

The stuffed squirrel, like the stuffed snow freak and the fabric pizza slice from Christmas came from an etsy site called Wags and Wiggles, which I shop fairly often as I love their stuffies.

The bracelet was a NEW Etsy place I discovered and I was so happy I did.

I know a couple of you that would like THIS one.
Or how about. . 

It's called Harminy's Place

Just go to and type Harminysplace in the search bar and their website will come up with all kinds of pretty silver bracelets with pet and other themes as well as some handmade fleece blankets that both two and four legged folks will love (Abby wants the Star Wars one).

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Dog's Home is Her. . . . . . .

SOMEBODY (not naming any names here) was apparently upset that Mommy was an hour and a half late getting home, EVEN if the dog walker came over and  gave her an extra walk and fed her since I knew I would have a long day.

Season 3 seems to have been opened (with teeth) and forensically examined.

(If any one you haven't seen Castle -  it's one of my favorite "crime" shows, with a lot of wit, romance, and humor).

You know Abby - our friend

said today's wacky holiday IS National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day.

Do you think I should give you a biscuit for eating my movies?

OK, OK, We'll just say the squirrels did it. Just this once. Put those big brown eyes away and come get your biscuit.

And people wonder why Mommy drinks :-)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Scrabbled' Up

While Dad was on the road, Mom spent a few hours with a friend, and a game of Scrabble erupted. Scrabble rules are loose in our house.  Which is why we have DNA, ATC (air traffic control since Mom was a pilot) and Ho (hey, Mom said that word was just uttered on Law and Order SVU). And when your best friend lives a stone's throw from from Toto, Indiana the word Oz is always allowed.  But this was one of the few games where Mom played and used every single Scrabble tile, so she took a picture.

I think if you look at the titles it's very telling as to what Mom spends her days doing.  But if I could spell out some Scrabble words - they would be a LOT simpler.

Abby Lab

Saturday, February 20, 2016


Oh boy - Mom made Pup-overs!

She lets the steam out of mine first, but they are soooo eggy/custardy in the middle and crunchy around the edges.
I'm glad Dad made it home  - he was on the road for business all butt one day last week so Mom's going to spoil him (and me) this weekend.
Abby Lab

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thursday Eats - Pizza Bones!

posted a picture of a pizza on a romantic Valentine's evening out with her husband at the pizza place they had their first date (and congratulations on the two pounds recently lost)

I had a SERIOUS hankering for pizza after that. But I really didn't want to go out in the cold wind to the store, and I didn't want to clear and re-salt the steps for a delivery guy where snow melted today and then re-froze. Besides Abby could use a treat.  Her Dad's only been home one night this week between business trips and she misses him. (She sleeps by our bed which she never does when he is home, guarding me).

So I made a pizza we'd both like, not super heavy on sauce and cheese, some tasty toppings but not too heavy on them, and a dough that's slightly chewy but soft in the middle, baked long enough the cheese welds to the crust without burning.

Making your own pizza dough isn't as hard as you think, and you can control the quality of the ingredients and the amount of sodium.  So why not make my own and then top with lower sodium toppings from the deli. I love deep dish, but didn't want all the extra calories so I made traditional crust (not thick, not thin)

Easy as "Not Pie!" -Dough (makes two 12 inch pizzas)

2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast (not rapid rise)
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 and 1/2 cups flour divided
4 Tablespoons olive oil

Mix water and yeast and let it sit 4-5 minutes so it foams up.

Add yeast to 1/2 of the flour and mix in your mixer with a dough hook.  Add the remaining flour and salt and knead by hand (or with hook) until smooth.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.  Have a glass of wine.  Think pizza thoughts.
Preheat oven to 400 F.

Pour 2 Tablespoons of oil per pizza stone (or baking pan) and spread to coat evenly.

After the 30 minutes are up, divide the dough in half, adding a few Tablespoons of flour to keep it from being too sticky, and pat out on oiled pizza stone (or pan) until an even thickness.

Top with a thin layer of marinara or pizza sauce, leaving an inch uncovered around the edge, adding toppings of your choice (I used a reduced sodium ham and pineapple) and 2-3 cups cheese per pizza,

Bake 18-20 minutes (Note this pizza and the sauce had NO Garlic - Garlic is VERY toxic to dogs).   So do not give your dog pizza crusts or crusts with sauce infused with garlic, they could get very ill, depending on the amount of garlic and their body weight. I did sprinkle a tiny bit of rosemary on it before baking, in place of my usual garlic.

Oh boy Pizza Bones!

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Dog the Bounty Hunter

It was one of "those" days.  I was up late last night - Dad had taken a fall earlier in the week, and his dizziness was a mild UTI but I had to stay up late enough to ensure he got the right meds, and got into bed safely at which point his evening nurse goes home. My husband was gone overnight, so there was also snow to shovel and a dog to walk.

So 4:00 a.m. arrived way to early, and with my husband on the road, to roll in later, I had to walk Abby before work, which for me starts at 6 a.m. So I'm on the road before the sun peeks up from the horizon.  I do miss when I worked and lived in Indiana, when it was a short country drive to the office, with time for reflection and the occassional photo.  Now, I'm dodging IDOT specially placed potholes (to increase your maneuvering skills), people that drop into my lane without notice like Frogger, and the Chicago "it's legal for 6 cars to turn left after the light turns red, it's a state law I think.")

Then work, including a long polycom, a baby shower for a colleague on my lunch hour, followed by over  2 hours in traffic to get home (for a whole 15 miles), due to hitting all the trains running east to west and a car stalled in the clogged interchange to the freeway.  It was 6:30 when I rolled in, three hours later than normal.  I had 30 minutes to get dinner prepared from the crockpot with salad to go with it, eat and call my Dad, as he expects me to call at EXACTLY at 7:00 (or he gets worried/upset -  it's a "I'm 96 and this is the one thing I can control" issue which I TOTALLY get).

But it makes for a hectic arrival at home sometimes when either or both of us are late arriving.

So I wasn't happy to walk in to THIS on arrival home.  Abby T. Labrador had murdered a couple of rolls of paper towels, that were left wrapped by the back door when the groceries were brought in the other day.
It looked like a crime scene, with Christmas Big Bird sprayed out on the floor like a crime victim, two boys in blue combing the scene for clues and a red nosed reporter trying to get a scoop.

I turned the box so you could read the contact info.

But there was a couple bright notes - a call from the dog mom of
to catch up - such a sweet lady, and this box  from Simply Australian, which is like Chewy boxes for humans.   (By the way - if any of you are good enough with blogger to help Cookie's Mom add a sidebar link to her Go Fund Me for her dog's meds, difficult on a senior's income, I know she'd appreciate it, I tried and had no luck as her settings are different than mine).

Simply Australian.  Oh boy! Oh boy!  They're in Cincinnati so my order got here quick. (By way of explanation:  my grandfathers both died before I was born, and my grandmothers died before I was four.  Our next door neighbors, an older couple from Australia, unofficially "adopted" my brother and I as our "grandparents" and I still treasure a little book about a kangaroo they inscribed to me before they passed).  So, when I saw that sweet Roxie in Australia sent some to our friend Ernie for Valentine's Day I thought "it's been too long since I've had. . . 

Tim Tams".  You haven't lived until you've done the "Tim Tam Slam" where you bite off each chocolate covered end, exposing the delicate cookies and cream filled center and then sucked your coffee or tea though it, to then polish off the gooey remains.
My husband can eat the healthy stuff.  After my long day, I know what I'M having for dinner, a cuppa tea and a Tim Tam.  But given how my fingers and lips will probably look like when I'm done, I can't give Abby Lab a hard time for HER mess.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sweet Sarah Day

It's Sweet Sarah Day!

Yes,a day for our Blogville friend Sarah, Mona and Prissy's Mom at

 She had a liver biopsy to check out some lesions after her colon cancer was dealt with and with which she wrote about with such grace and strength.

Cancer touches all of us, almost all of us through family, some personally. I've been lucky with only a melanoma in my 20's from too much sun as a teen that left a good sized divot just above my left breast, but it was handled early. It took several stitches to close the wound when it, and the tissue surrounding it were removed, leaving a noticeable scar that looks exactly like a small human bite mark. In the occasional low cut little black dress, it gets some looks. If I find someone staring, I simply say "short Jewish ninja with overbite".
Another precancerous growth years later resulted in my converting from family station wagon to sports model, no chance of another child. But my body parts don't define me and I consider myself extremely blessed to have had only those issues.

But it's touched my family greatly and so many others among you. As my regular readers know, I lost my big brother, a heavy smoker, in 2014 to cancer, still in his 50's. Dad has been dealing with prostate cancer since his late 60's, as he went for less aggressive, non-surgical treatment. My stepmom battled oral cancer followed by Alzheimer's, just when she went into remission.  But with my Mom, it was an ever present part of her life, as I can remember it, her originally being diagnosed with colon cancer when I was four years old.

I thought about Mona and Prissy's Mom and my own, as I took Abby Lab out in the yard this morning. My husband is gone for a couple of days on business, and we're just puttering around together. The wind off of the Great Lake is bringing with it a chill, which I enjoy. People tease me about it, but I don't particularly like summer, but I love a winter landscape.  I will probably be "that weirdo that built the cabin up north instead of going to Florida". I love bundling up on a cold clear day, walking through snow upon snow, the earth standing hard as iron, the waters like stone.
We may have some some sun today but it won't be long before storm clouds ease in upon us, the pale sun imperceptibly in their trail, the cool breeze a lover's kiss of betrayal. Strangely, I always feel safe and secure when it's cloudy and still, especially when the snow or rain is coming down. I savor the slow creep into summer; the chill flurries of March--those deceptive days in April when the breeze is the cool conceit of a lingering winter.
Mom was diagnosed in early Winter in the 1960's. The survival rate for colon cancer back then was only about 1 in 7. She was in her 40's but was also a heavy smoker. It couldn't have come at a worse time for her, because life had just come full circle. She had enjoyed her 18 year career in law enforcement as a Deputy Sheriff but was thrilled to be a mother again, after losing her first child; raising my brother and I, whom they had adopted.  That the cancer showed up uninvited, when she finally had the family she wanted, was as cruel a blow as could be imagined. But cancer, like any tragedy, know no compassion for a life well lived.

I didn't visit her in the hospital as Dad thought it might be too upsetting. But I now have a picture of my older brother there with her. It was Christmas. That small Catholic hospital room had all the ambiance of imprisonment, with stark white walls, no decorations but for tubes and occasionally blood. It was the décor of a jail cell, a bleak asceticism and emptiness that can drive a frightened mind to look inward, too easily seeing only the dark. So Dad brought in a tiny and colorful little Christmas tree, complete with lights, and put it on her side table. I see it in the picture with my brother as she holds up a warm but lacy nightgown from a gift wrapped box.
While she was at the hospital I would take a fuzzy white blanket that smelled of her perfume, Chanel No. 5, and drape it over the card table to make a fort. That was my refuge, my safety zone. Unable at that age to process the fear in my father's eyes or my mom's sudden absence I made a little world for myself, with a small lamp to do puzzles by and a couple beloved toys. For that time, I withdrew into that white ecosphere of make believe warmth. She came home after Christmas, chemo shunt in place, and did everything in her power to make our  childhoods as normal as possible.

There is a brief moment when one has cheated death, be it in a hospital or perhaps an airplane, a fleeting feeling of being utterly alive which occurs in times of danger or great physical intensity. In Zen Buddhism it is reached through meditation and is called kensho, a moment of feeling one with the universe. It's a life altering change, and often one that makes a person wholly appreciative of all the gift's of God.  Mom not only recognized this, she made sure we understood it as well.  I am not sure where she got the courage for that, but she did, telling us each day, we will always be a family, like the words of an evening's prayer, for a child to repeat.
I remember mornings at the breakfast table. We'd look out at the fog shrouded trees behind our house, as the geese foraged for their breakfast on their seasonal stop. The sun acted as if it is preparing to take on a Broadway stage, first peeking from behind the closed curtain of clouds, then coming out to bow upon the new fallen snow to the thunderous applause of the neighborhood snow blowers. We cherished the beginning of another day together. She'd feed us sweet Danish rolls and sugary Bear Claws instead of sensible oatmeal and we'd laugh. Oh how we'd laugh.

We weren't deluding ourselves. My parents had laid things out for us as best they could and we knew that she was very sick. Our breakfast may have been sugar coated, but the truth wasn't. But we learned early on that even after cancer, or other tragedies that life later drops on you, that there is a normal, it's just a NEW normal. So with a smile, Mom would hand us our snow gear and off we'd go, another day of childhood, stuffing our fear into our pocket with a homemade cookie, our Mom waiting for us with treats when we got home, refusing to let us see when she was worried, when she was in pain.
But Mom was also human, and there was one thing for which she let her guard slip.  That was the disfigurement from the surgery. Mom was a tall and strikingly beautiful woman. The cancer surgery left her feeling less than beautiful. At the time I was too young to understand that, but a few short years later, when the colostomy had became an ileostomy, to be followed by a total hysterectomy, I overheard a conversation, her voice tinged with tears as to how she hated to be "cut open" again. I don't recall what Dad said, as I left them in that private moment. But I remember coming home from grade school the next day, and on the fridge was a colorful little note with a poem my Dad had written on it.

"Pieces and Parts
May Have to Depart
But You and Me
Will always be WE"

After that, I never heard her feel sorry for herself, for what she perceived had changed, what HAD changed. She simply gathered to her that which she loved, her family, her faith, her books and the beloved flowers she grew and tended. Those things then became part of her, part of her very physical being, an invisible prosthetic, stronger and more beautiful than what had been the earlier heritage of flesh.

With that, she sat down at the table with the doctors and Dad, to play out her next course of treatment, with the mind of a well equipped general, planning their next field campaign.
Cancer changed how we all looked at life. Before cancer, our list of "should do's was really quite long. And like other families that cope with tragedy or disease, we quit using the work "should" quite so much and enjoyed every day, as if it was our last, because, quite frankly, we were never sure it wasn't. But she lived many more years, years in which she made each and every day precious.

As I look out my window this afternoon, I notice a white quickening far away on the horizon; small clouds scurrying as in first defense of the eventual band of warrior winter white. I can almost see the promise of a quiet quilt of snow to be spread across the landscape during the night sometime soon,

I think back to those small comforts, the safe refuge formed by a old blanket and a card table as I waited for my Mom to come home. The afternoons building forts and futures out in the snow. As an adult now, I look into the grey cocoon of the advancing low overcast and feel, not grief, but comfort as the brisk wind through the trees carries the memory of love to me
Sarah -  I hope this day finds you resting comfortably, surrounded by those you love. I hope that when you look in the mirror, you will not dwell on any physical scars, on the bandages that can't cover fear. I hope you will only see the visage of a fighter, the countenance of strength, the invincible repudiation of failure as you look at this battle like any other in your life. And though it is an intimately personal battle, never forget those around you, who will support you, pray for you and hold you up when needed. For there is great, abiding strength in the power of "WE".

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Recap

Hi friends.  Abby Lab here.  Well, we survived Valentine's Days.  It started early, with Mom and Dad opening their pressies. Mom had put together a big basket of all of Dad's favorite snackie foodables from Mountain Man Fruit and Nut company (mmm, toffee cashews) as well as a book of his favorite poetry that was hard to find.

Mom had teased Dad about not getting her a "bad" Valentine's pressie after her friend D. got BRAKE FLUID for her birthday and her other friend S. got a SHOVEL (it does help with hiding the body).

Dad handed Mom this pretty bag with red tissue and she opened it up.

A manual tire inflator and a bottle of hootch!

Mom tried not to laugh, pretending to be mad, then she sees the card.

"I LIKE you"??

Dad says "it has Barney Goggley Eyes that you can shake and make move!

At that point mom lost it, laughing, while Dad comes out with ANOTHER pretty bag.

"Here's your real present".

It was a beautiful embroidered nightgown she had admired in a little Vermont store, some of her favorite candy from England, AND

Well - Mom does like her bubble baths at night so she needed a toy for the tub.

Mom made little Korean pancakes for breakfast, full of veggies with a sweet and spicy sauce to dip them in. 

It started to snow by noon. After I got some walkies  and Dad shoveled off the steps and the long driveway, Mom and Dad decided to have a game marathon.

First there was Mexican Train dominoes.  THAT didn't go so well for Mom.

The first game.

The second.
Then they played Backgammon.  Mom got beat AGAIN.
Then there was that quick round of "Sequestration Battleship".

Finally - a game of cribbage.

As Dad was rounding the corner to win yet again, she looked up at him with a sweet smile and said - 

"You know why card games are like marriage?'

Dad said


Mom gave a little grin and said - 

"They start with a heart and a diamond, and they end with a club and a spade".
Oh Uh!

Dad laughed and let her win.  Then they made kissie faces and I had to leave the room.

After that it was time for MY pressies from the Frankie and Ernie household.
Look at all my neat stuff -squeaky toys, a ball and some people crackers (shaped like mailmen, milk delivery guys and a Paw-lice officer!) plus a card from Frankie!
Give me the Monkey Mom!
Using the surgical precision of the 'buttectomy" I deaded it real quick.  Time for treats!

Thank you Frankie and the Frankie and Ernie Household for a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Dad offered to take Mom out to a fancy restaurant for dinner.  

Mom was all snug in her Yoda Pants (they're like Yoga pants but more wrinkled) and sweater and she looked outside.

"It's snowy, it's cold, the Escape has escaped to the garage.  There's cars sliding off the streets on the online news station.  Let's stay in!"

Maple and applewood smoked bacon encrusted pork tenderloin, a casserole of sage stuffing and peas.  I LOVE peas! 

Mom's going to have leftovers for  lunch as she has the day off due to it being President's Day. I asked her what that holiday was about and she said  it's when the President comes out of the White House and if he sees his shadow we have six more weeks of political (insert HBO word here).

Dad had to go to O'Hair airport for a quick business trip, so Mom and I are going to hang out, enjoy our pressies, and look at all the pictures of the Blogville Parade again.  That was SO much fun. Thank you Crabby Girls and Frankie and Ernie - for helping it be a fun day for everyone.

But seriously - don't play board games with Dad, he always wins.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Day Blogville Parade

As everyone enjoys the parade events with the Crabby Girls  over with

my Dad will serenade everyone

Then check
for even more fun.

Now - Frankie and I are late for the Parade.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Glad That Chew Deterrent Worked Out For You

We've all likely heard the list of the "Seven Deadly Sins"

The current list:
Gluttony (does chocolate count?)
Sloth (three toed or the other kind?)

From Our Household - the Updated List of Additional Deadly Sins (with some classic Barkley photos)

Monday Mornings
Monday Morning Breath
Reality Stars with No Discernible Talent
Slow  metabolism
Computer Spam
Express Lane Abuse
"Hey you, with the 33 bags of Tater Tots and the second party check from the Bank of Kazakhstan, get out of the Express Lane!"

Dumping someone by email
Barney the Dinosaur
Frozen Diet Dinners
Fashion Designers that think all women are shaped like Pretzel Sticks
Last Cupcake
Drinks with Umbrellas (unless served to me on a beach by the 10th or 11th Doctor Who)
Foreign Call Centers
Round Abouts At Rush Hour
Celebrity Fitness DVD's (picking up brass at the LEO range will do more for your gluts)
Clingy women
Clingy men
Reversing the Polarity (between the Enterprise's lack of fuses and Geordi's "We'll reverse the polarity,!" I'm surprised the ship didn't detonate when they went into warp drive)
Turkey Bacon
Erectile Dysfunction Ads
Bathroom Scales 
Telephone Solicitors
Power Tools and Glögg 
Celebrity Designers (Put "Kardashian" on a cow patty, it's still a cow patty)
Deficit Spending
Mixing bleach and ammonia for "more cleaning power"
Commenting on a woman's weight when she is eating a pint of  ice cream and crying

And finally, the 2016 Deadliest Sin as submitted by Abby Lab