Sunday, November 30, 2008

What a difference a day makes!

Yesterday and today - what a difference!

This is the pond in our backyard. Bill took the picture of the squirrel taking a drink at the pond yesterday afternoon - and the second picture is what it looked like early this morning.

I took a short walk (emphasis on SHORT - it was cold & windy) and took some pictures in the neighborhood. We leave in less than a week to return to sunny Fort Myers and these will be great reminders why we head south!

Friday, November 28, 2008


We spent Thanksgiving at Laura & Tim's house. Bill and Tim did most of the cooking and it was delicious! This year, Bill soaked the turkey in a brine made with vegetable stock, kocher salt and honey for 16 hours before cooking it. The brine kept the meat nice and moist.

Bill's daughter, Laura made sure the stuffing was good. Bill always makes two kinds - one traditional (Yum!)and one with oysters (Yuck!). This year, instead of cooking the stuffing inside the bird, he put onion, apple, rosemary and fresh sage in the bird.

Gail & Naomi, Bill's mom. Naomi lives in Denver where Bill grew up.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

My Turkey-Day Birthday

Today is my 62nd birthday (Happy Birthday to me!). In honor of my birthday, the United States Government will now pay me a monthly stipend for the rest of my life. My first check will arrive in January. Born in 1946, I am among the first of the baby-boomers to tap into Social Security. I just hope there is enough money to see me through my life - or at least enough to last until I move in with one of my kids (just kidding guys!).

Since it is better to give than receive, my birthday present is some wonderful recipes that I want to share.

Cranberry Sauce
This is the best cranberry sauce ever. The secret to a sweeter cranberry sauce is to replace a portion of the fresh cranberries with dried cranberries.

Combine in saucepan:
2 cups cranberries (I use 1 1/2 cups fresh, 1/2 cup dried)
Juice and zest of one orange (I use a nutmeg grater for the zest)
1/4 cup Port (I use a 20 year Tawny - yum!)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and cook until cranberries are tender, stirring occasionally.

In a small cup make a slurry with:
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Whisk cornstarch mixture into cranberry sauce and cook, whisking until sauce thickens. Taste and add more sugar if necessary.

Pumpkin Bars (thanks to Paula Deen and the Food Network)
4 eggs
1 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15 ounce can pumpkin
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking power
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Using electric mixer, combine eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 X 10 inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with electric mixer until smooth. Add sugar and vanilla. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.

Banana Bread
3 ripe bananas
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix and bake in 5 x 9 inch loaf pan for 1 hour in 325 degree oven.

Mom's chocolate chip cookies
1 1/2 cups butter
1 1/8 cups brown sugar
1 1/8 cups white sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda in 3 tablespoons hot water
3 3/8 cups flour (add a little more for high altitude)
3 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 pounds semi-sweet chocolate chips (be sure to use REAL chocolate chips!)

Cream butter, beat in sugars until light and smooth, add other ingredients. Drop from spoon onto buttered cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.


Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Every Day Begins Here

My days begin at the gym - 24 Hour Fitness (of Biggest Loser fame) in Colorado and Planet Fitness in Fort Myers.

Both gyms have the usual aerobic machines - treadmill, elliptical, stair-stepper and bikes - and the many, many weight machines plus the free weights, and clean locker rooms with showers.

In addition, Planet Fitness has a neat area with the 30-minute circle of machines and aerobic platforms - similar to Curves except these machines are completely adjustable and used by both men and women. Let me tell you - it is a heck of a workout!

I'm usually at the gym by 7:00 a.m. and workout for about 45 minutes: 2 days of fat burn (slower aerobics, keeping my heart rate around 115), 2 days of more strenuous aerobics (heart rate from 130-135 with 3 to 5 minutes as high as I can get it) and I add weights at least two days a week.

I used to hate exercising and had every excuse in the book not to go to the gym: I'm too tired, not enough time, too boring, my knees hurt, I have a headache, etc. Then in April, 2008 I was diagnosed with Factor 5 Leiden (abnormal hereditary clotting disorder) after a severe episode of Ischemic Colitis caused by the formation of clots in my portal vein and kidney. Exercising and getting fit was no longer an option.

I was yanked off my hormones (and boy do I miss them!!) and later all soy products (my dumb idea to get pseudo-hormone relief from hot flashes which resulted in a second episode of bleeding) and have recently been put on Coumadin (an anti-coagulant) therapy.

Bill has been a gym rat for years and goes almost every day. He works out for up to 2 hours then hits the steam room, hot tub and shower (He rarely showers at home). When I went to the gym with him - I couldn't keep up - so that was a good excuse not to go. Now I go for ME.

I'm so much healthier now and really enjoy my workouts (but it was quite a while before I could say that!). The bonus is the energy and stamina I have so Bill and I can hike and bike or just work in the yard. I'm happier and more interested in everything. I've lost some weight and fit into clothes from my skinny closet. I gave my fat clothes to Goodwill.

Bill and I are in the final third of our lives - that's just a fact of life - but we have decided not to get old - at least not yet. We both read the book "Younger Next Year" (by Chris Crowley and Dr. Harry Lodge) and it reaffirmed what we already knew about exercise, healthy diet, loving and playing - but we were both amazed by the statistics on aging - 70% of the normal decay associated with aging (weakness, sore joints, apathy), and over 50% of all illness and potential injuries - can be prevented.

I refuse to die sitting in a chair - alone and miserable. I want to be mountain climbing with Bill when we are in our 90's.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My BIG winnings in Cripple Creek!

Paula & I headed to Cripple Creek on Saturday to exercise our wrists and trigger fingers. I figure I probably won over $500. The only problem is - it took me over $600 to win it!

Paula's luck was equally good - maybe even better. The ATM machine was her new, best friend. We had a great time anyway.

The "boys" (Bill and Lou) enjoyed their day without us by taking a 3 1/2 hour hike in Palmer Park and shopping at Whole Foods. We returned home to a fabulous steak dinner and some to-die-for hors d'oeuvres with the best goat cheese I've ever had.

Thanksgiving is in two days. It is also my birthday. I will be 62 years old. Bill is cooking the turkey at his daughter Laura's house - where we will gather with the rest of his family for the feast.

I wish I were closer to my kids during the holidays - but 3 of the 4 will come to visit us in Florida, Johnny (JK) in December, Pamela & husband Orlando & grandsons Gabriel and Sebastian in January and Laura & grandson, Zachary in February.

We leave in 11 more days! My sister, Beth & her husband Warren will be vacationing on Fort Myers Beach for the month of December so I am looking forward to spending time with them. My sister is my inspiration for this blog (and MANY other things!). She has a dynamite blog at

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Winter Beauty

Yesterday we woke up to a winter wonderland. Overnight, there had been heavy fog and the moisture froze on trees and bushes. Once the sun came out the results were spectacular - but short-lived.

This is Colorado and the weather can change in the blink of an eye. By 9:00 a.m. all the ice had melted but I managed to get a couple of pictures before the temperature rose above freezing on its way to the 60's.
Today our friends from the San Luis Valley, Louie & Paula, are coming for the day. Paula and I will probably head up to Cripple Creek to see if we can win some money. We figure our odds are better there than Wall Street.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Palmer Park

We are fortunate to have a great place to hike (or mountain bike) just around the corner from our home in Colorado Springs: Palmer Park. Named for the founder of the city, this place has trails for everyone. The park is surprisingly large despite its location in the center of town.

The trails criss-cross every section of the park and can be combined for some really long and challenging hikes. All the trails are well marked and are rated like ski slopes - green trails for beginners, blue for intermediates, and black diamonds for a real workout. There are lots of rocks, sand, and scrub brush along with winding sections, rock drop offs, and real mountain climbs.

The views of Pikes Peak over-looking the city are spectacular.

Trails are well-marked and maintained by volunteers.

There is a closed in area where dogs can romp and socialize, lots of picnic spots, areas for sports, a well-equiped playground and necessary facilities for the many residents that benefit from the park.

The geological formations are very interesting. Some are estimated to be 60 million years old.
When we are in Colorado Springs, Bill and I like to go hiking in the park a couple of times a week. We still have not been on all of the trails - but we're working on it!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Gone to the dogs...

Once I started looking for dogs to photograph, I noticed all sorts of dog related places and signs.

Here are a few of my favorites.
The Dog Bakery is in Cape Coral.

Florida has lots of designer license plates but this one caught my eye!

This coffee house is in Colorado Springs - along the bike path that we occasionally ride. They have outdoor seating and on a nice day, you will see customers drinking their coffee with their dogs at their side. I always sit inside.


This is Satchel, the "chick magnet" Bill had when we met. Hard to believe this cute face almost kept me from getting to know Bill, isn't it? Only someone who is scared of dogs could understand. Now that I know Bill, he could have a pit bull and I'd still be here. OK - maybe not a pit bull. Maybe a golden lab?

Satchel was a very special dog. We called her "Nurse Satchel" because she had a knack for taking care of people when they needed extra love - first Bill's wife Joyce when she was dying of breast cancer then his mom - keeping her company and enabling her to stay in her own home an extra year. Satchel was a loyal companion and we miss her.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


This is Bessie. She is a Rat Terrier and belongs to very dear friends of ours in Denver. But Bessie is camera-shy- as you can see she is hiding and did so as soon as she saw the camera. Apparently, when she was a puppy she got scared of a flash camera - and hasn't gotten over it. I think she avoids pictures because she is shy about her underbite where her bottom teeth protrude more than her upper teeth. Other than that, she has perfect markings for a Rat Terrier.

Bessie is smart and knows sign language. She does tricks for her morning "cookie" with only hand-signal commands. Quite impressive. She also likes to play ball and will bring you a ball to throw over, and over, and over again.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Hobo Nickels

These are hobo nickels - Buffalo Nickels (1913 - 1938) that have been re-engraved with a new design. They are really small examples of American folk art. The ones shown are "original" or "classic" meaning they were done before the Great Depression (as opposed to the depression we are having now).

Artists today are still carving nickels and the modern ones can be spectacular!

This last picture is a modern hobo nickel that my friends had made for me when I retired from the American Numismatic Association. The artist is Steve Cox. I also have an impressive collection of rabbits from my mother ("Bunny") hence the choice of a rabbit on the coin.


It looks like winter outside today. The snow is coming down, the wind is howling and the temperature is falling. A good day to stay inside by the fire and work on the afghan I started before heading to Florida.

Since it's too cold to go outside and take a picture of the snow, I'll post this neat picture of the moon that Bill took last night before the clouds started to roll in.

Maybe later today (or tomorrow) I'll head to the American Numismatic Association Money Museum to see the new exhibit "A House Divided: Money of the Civil War" which "...takes a unique look at this epic, bloody time while showcasing the era’s coins, paper money, medals, and new ideas in war financing that helped lead to the North’s victory." (

Monday, November 10, 2008


Bill and I are back in the land of mittens & scarfs. When we left in September our backyard looked like the picture. Now it's shades of death - greys and browns. The fireplace is burning and one of our dear friends sarcastically wrote: "Congratulations on your timing! You might have missed the first heavy snow of the season had you waited just a day or two ... way to go!"

In my profile I say that I collect teapots made from cents. These tiny little masterpieces are made from either Wheat Cents or Indian Head Cents. The one pictured is made from a Wheat Cent and if you look at the bottom you can still see the design of the cent.

They were made by prisioners in New England by hitting the cent repeatedly with a spoon. I guess they had lots of time on their hands. The coins were not heated. Prison guards took the teapots into town and sold them for the inmates.

I have three in my collection and am always looking for more - but they are quite rare and hard to find. Some collectors have other items made the same way - cups, frying pans, etc.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sandsculpting Festival

On Friday Bill and I headed to Fort Myers Beach for the 22nd Annual American Sandsculpting Championship Festival. It was a picture perfect day; we were able to park very close for only $5 and the crowds had not yet arrived.

Armed with water and my camera, we headed out to see the sculptures. The artists have only a couple of days to design and create their masterpieces with sand, water, lots of hard work and imagination. It was hot on the beach. I felt especially sorry for the gal that usually did ice sculptures.

Some of the artists enjoyed visiting, others were too busy concentrating on their exhibit.

I saw this license plate in the parking lot and couldn't resist taking a picture.

Heading down to the water, we could see that the kids had been inspired by the festival. This young boy has my vote for next year's competition!
Heading back to the car we made one last stop.

Holly and Lexie

This is Holly, a chiwawa. Holly is a sniffer and it was not an easy task to get her to stop long enough to have her picture taken. All those wonderful scents! Dogs must communicate with each other through their smells - doggie p-mail?

Holly's owner was especially nice and sent me a great e-mail with this story:
"Four years ago I adoped a rescue cat (Mia). Despite all my attempts (over 3 years) to get her to respond to me in a loving way she became "the cat from hell." My children obviously got tired of hearing my tales of woe - and Holly became my Christmas present last year. After worrying that Mia might take Holly's head off, I was amazed to find they became fast pals and tumble around most of the day.
Amazingly, Mia credits me with bringing her a friend and now "tolerates" me and even likes me on good days."

This cute Yorkie is Lexie. She weights in at all of five pounds but her owner said she is not one of the smallest. Teacup Yorkies can weigh as little as two pounds!