Friday, January 29, 2010

A Visit to Miss Molly's Tea Room

Left to Right: Wanda, me and Linda

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Miss Molly's Tea Room in Medina with Linda and Wanda, two dear friends. If you haven't been to Miss Molly's, I'd encourage you take the time to go. It's a fun outing for the girls and little girls would love it!

I have even taken my husband, Ken, because the food is delicious! To go along with your tea or other beverage, they offer a nice variety with yummy salads (they have amazing chicken salad!) and finger sandwiches as well as soup and even veggie lasagna and other hot dishes. I've never tried the desserts, because the lunches they serve are so filling! I can only imagine they are delicious, as well.

The dining room at Miss Molly's is larger than these photos would lead you to believe. They also have a nice gift shop where teas, teapots and lots of other fun items are available.

And of course, if you go to Medina, you must go to the Root Candle factory store and showroom. That alone is worth the trip, but stopping for lunch at Miss Molly's with your best friends is just icing on the cake!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Laughter is a Tie That Binds Us

What we experience with others forever bonds us to them. I suppose that can be both good and bad, but I am especially amazed at how this is true - in a good way - with laughter.

My mother had the most amazing sense of humor. She was known, in fact, not only for her cooking, but also for her love of laughter. There are certain things that happen even now and I am reminded of something she said years and years ago. She’s been gone almost 17 years, but her humor lives on. She always said such funny things and many of those things I found hysterical were private jokes just between the two of us. And of course, my husband knew her and her sense of humor well, too. He often says something that she used to say and I’ll laugh out loud, remembering my mother’s wonderful sense of humor. Those things now bond us together, my husband and me, even though she’s no longer with us.

And some days, like today, aren’t filled with laughter. It’s been a down kind of day and one where I’ve had to find amusement, because I certainly haven’t felt it. Then, I remembered an experience my husband and I shared a few days ago when we were watching the Jets game (unfortunately they lost).

But I digress….

We were watching the game when a Wal-mart commercial came on. It’s a fairly new one, with a clown. Have you seen it? Well, I’m not sure why, but he and I saw that commercial and we laughed so hard that we just couldn't stop! Don't you just love that kind of laughter? Ken kept rewinding the DVR (or PVR or whatever the heck you call it) so that we could watch it over and over. Tears streamed down our faces! Now, it’s not too often that we laugh so hard that we cry, but for some reason both of us found that commercial so funny. It was truly a bonding moment. I will never forget how very funny that was and the moment I shared with my husband.

So, if you need your own reason to laugh today – or at least to smile – here’s my attempt to help. I know my mother would have loved this!

Click on the link below for a good laugh and enjoy! Copy and paste it in your browser if the link does not connect for you.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Uncanny Ad Placement

Being a marketing person by profession, you would think I would have taken it in stride. Well, I guess I did. I mean, I did laugh out loud. Still, the placement of the ad was priceless.

You see, I was searching, just for the heck of it, for a new chicken recipe. So, I went to, where I often go for inspiration. It's not that I am lacking for cookbooks, since I have dozens – literally, dozens. But I decided to visit, just to see if anything ‘spoke’ to me today. I like to surprise Ken with a new recipe every now and then and today seemed like as good a time as any.

So, I was scrolling the site when I noticed an ad pop up, as they so often do. The ad was for CJ Banks (a plus-size store for women). Specifically, the ad said, “CJ Banks Size 14 & More.” And that’s when I laughed heartily. Now that same ad might just as easily have been placed on a news website or any other. But noooooo, the ad for plus-sized clothing was on a recipe website! Great placement, don’t you think?

So yeah, I’m a little fluffy. Well, actually a lot fluffy. And yeah, I have looked at the site for desserts and non-so-low-calorie recipes. So, apparently it was the perfect place for the plus-sized ad. I do a lot of shopping with CJ Banks. I guess they’ve missed me. My, those marketers are smart!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Visit to the Past

Recently on Facebook, a lot of friends and acquaintances have been celebrating a ‘throw-back’ period, by posting old photos of themselves. I caught the fever, too, and included these two photos from my college days on my Facebook page. I think I was a junior at BGSU in the first photo and the second one is our engagement photo from 1983. (Not that you can miss it, but notice the big hair and the fact that I still had braces. There are more photos below.) It’s been fun to read the comments people write about all of the photo postings. Sometimes it’s easy to see the resemblance to the person from a photo decades old and sometimes it isn’t.

Looking at these old photos brought to mind the trip my husband, Ken, and I took to Charlotte, NC last fall for a business conference he needed to attend. In many ways being in Charlotte was like visiting the past, since we lived in the area for a couple of years about 23 years ago. We had rented a sweet little house in a small community called Locust. Needless to say, since we were so close, I just had to visit that area and see the little house I had visited so many hundreds of times in my memory since we lived there.

Ken was game, so we left the Charlotte area and headed into the country to the little community where we had lived. I just knew I would remember the exact road we needed to turn on, despite the fact that it was dark when Ken and I arrived and we had not visited the area since we moved to Durham in 1989! Well, it took us a few tries, but we eventually found the road and then the little house where we lived. What a joy it was for me to see that little brick house! The house was nearly new when we moved there in 1987. It was the last rental we had before we bought our first house. So many goals and dreams were born in that little house! We dreamed about our upcoming move to Durham and the house we would buy there. Most importantly, we dreamed about the family we would have once we purchased our own house. Matthew was planned, but still very much a dream in those days. Yet, because of all of these dreams and musings, that little house took on a personality of its own in my memory and one I have 'visited' countless times.

I told Ken that night that I’d love to take a trip, a tour, if you will, of all the places we’ve lived in our 25 years of marriage. That would be 12 locations, counting the one where we currently reside. The states would include Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia and finally, Ohio! Each one is fresh in my memory, probably because “home” has always been so important to me. So, seeing as though it would take a week to visit all of these locations, I think I’ll just stroll down memory lane instead and flip through the photo albums as I go.

Do you have memories you like to ‘visit’ on a regular basis? Mine generally include time we spent so many years ago as a young married couple, planning our life together. Others are the wonderful memories I have of my parents, and of course, my college days! Sometimes I’d like to go back, if only for a little while. If I could go back, I would first spend time with my mother, just the two of us for an entire day! Wow, that would be awesome! If I had a second wish, I’d go back to when Matthew was little. What a treasure that would be! He was such a sweet baby, and I have loved every stage of his development, but I have to say, it would be his toddler days that I would visit.

Here are photos from those days...

Here my sweet mother and I were photographed at our home in Durham. We were best friends! This photo was taken only about a year before she passed away at age 53. She's been gone almost 17 years and I think of her many, many times every day. I still miss her so much it hurts.

Here I am with my Daddy. He was such a tough guy with a heart of gold! He was truly one of the most generous individuals I've ever known. This photo was taken about 1o years ago. Daddy has been gone almost 5 years. I miss him so much.

Here is our sweet little family in 1993. I treasure this photo!

Matthew and Mommy. He was such a sweet little boy!

If you had the opportunity to visit a time in your past, where would you go first? Second? Why do you think it would be in that order?

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Reminder from a New Friend

This afternoon I saw several deer in our backyard. This is not especially unusual except that we live within the city limits (of a small town) in a fairly busy subdivision. Our lot isn’t that large, either, yet for some reason deer often pass through our yard to the woods behind our house.

Several of the deer stood there under the pine trees for a few minutes, cautiously looking around, and then eventually disappeared into the woods. What both surprised and delighted me was that one deer stayed for quite a while and laid down in front of an evergreen bush. Several additional deer came through, hung out for a while and then followed the path into the woods the others had taken. Yet, there the lone deer stayed, seemingly quite comfortable. She was chewing on something and looked for all the world like she was a young lady lounging by the swimming pool. I was entertained for over an hour as I worked on dinner and washed and folded laundry.

I decided that she probably needed a place to rest and relax. I marveled at how at ease this gorgeous created seemed, and I was so grateful that she seemed to feel comfortable and at home and wanted to just hang around for a while.

It reminded me of Matthew 11:28:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Do you need rest today? Our heavenly Father is always present, ready to share our burdens and lighten our loads. Seeing the beautiful deer comfortably resting in the backyard reminded me that I need to trust the Lord and find rest in Him. He loves us and cares about every detail of our lives. If we let Him, He will provide comfort and give us the rest we need.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Meet Skinner and Eli

We often hear, “Pets are people, too!” Are pets part of your family? Do you have a dog, a cat (or two), an iguana or something even more exotic that shares your home? What do you do with your pets when you have company? Do you let the Chihuahua corner and intimidate Uncle Charlie or do you put him in the garage when you have company (the Chihuahua, not Uncle Charlie!)? Does your cat run for cover when the doorbell rings or is she curious about who’s coming to dinner, sidling up to whoever gets in the door first?

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do with our furry and other non-human family members when other folks are in the house. I do think we need to be sensitive to visitors and at least keep Rover from jumping on guests to welcome them. Even more importantly, a lot of folks are allergic to animals (especially cats) and can be miserable if Fluffy hangs around their feet (my husband, for example).

We know that pets are truly a huge part of many families and they can be like extra kids. Pets have been a blessing to so many with disabilities. And they can be great company for someone who lives alone. Yes, people love their pets. I respect that. In fact, I wish I were more like that. Don’t get me wrong, I love dogs and my family loves animals – when they belong to someone else...and are at a comfortable distance away from said people. Actually, we had collies in the past and loved them. They were outside dogs when we lived on the farm and if I were to live in the country again, I’d definitely want another dog – outside.

Not long after we moved to Orrville, Ken’s parents visited and his dad bought Matthew a bird. Then we heard we needed to buy another bird to keep the first one company. Go figure. We did that and bought toys and oh, I don’t even remember what all we did. What I do remember, is that one day I found them, not many days' hence, feet up, in their cage. We decided birds weren’t our thing.

When Matthew was still very young, we had small fish. The day I found Matthew holding one of the fish and petting it, I decided fish probably wouldn't make it long at our house, either. I was right.

We needed a dog, I decided. So, at different times we tried adorable puppies. We bought a darling Boston terrier that, would truly make coffee nervous. Matthew named her Sparx and honestly, the sweet little thing seemed to leap vertically from a still position. Something with that much energy just perplexes me, I guess. She even had too much energy for Matthew, so with his blessing, we gave her to Ken’s parents.

A couple of years later, we bought a gorgeous yellow Labrador puppy that Matthew named Ginger. I understand how we fell in love with Ginger, but how we thought we could manage a fully-grown, huge, yellow Lab in our house is beyond me. We never found out. While still a puppy, Ginger made it at our house until she started chewing on the door frames. And then it was decided: Ginger could not stay. So, once again we found another carefully chosen home for our extra offspring.

During that time, we realized that Matthew wasn’t a pet person, either. As Ken and I watched Matthew play with both dogs, we saw that although he enjoyed them, he literally held them at arm’s length. Apparently his preference to enjoy other peoples' pets was inherited. And like us, he enjoys them most outside.

So, just like it took me decades to admit to myself I am not a morning person, it has taken me almost as long to realize that I am not a pet person. There, I said it. I'm not a pet person. I’m sad about that, but Ken and I have learned that the four legged furry critters just aren’t for us - at least not inside. And now, we know Matthew is the same way. If the girl who captures his heart is a pet-lover, she’ll need to start early to recondition his avoidance tendencies....

We did have a great experience with a couple of ant farms. With the exception of waiting months - literally - for the ants to be delivered in the arctic areas of northeast Ohio, the experience was a very positive one. But then, they were contained in the plastic tubing, come to think of it.

So, we were a little surprised when Matthew saw a small aquarium with frogs a couple of months ago and indicated he thought it would be fun addition for his college dorm room. So, Ken and I ventured back to Brookstone to purchase a ‘Frog-o-sphere’ from 'Santa'. We fed the little dudes and watched them frolic and play (well, as much as aquatic frogs frolic). Matthew was thrilled with his little charges and enjoyed them while he was home for break.

And then it was time for him - for all of them - Matthew and his frogs - to return to college. Well, no one was more surprised than yours truly that I’d be sad to see the little fellers go. But alas, Skinner and Eli, as Matthew named them, did leave to return to college with him. I do miss the little things. But I still don’t want to pet them.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

For Those New to My Blog.......

...and to all those who have expressed interest in reading older postings on this blog, please read on.

I began writing this blog in July, 2008. To view older postings, please do one of the following:

1. Click on the titles of each posting (to the left, under "Blog Archive.";

2. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the "Subsribe to: Posts (Atom)" button. There is actually no subscription; it simply gives you a blog listing (by date) of the first 25 or so postings;

To Read All Blog Listings:

3. Click on "Older Posts." This option will give you several postings, but you will need to continue to click on "Older Posts" to go back to the original postings in July, 2008.

Also, be sure to go directly to the blog address instead to previous postings. The address is:

(Please note there is NO 'www' in the blog address.)

I hope this helps those of you having difficulty finding older posts. If you have additional questions regarding the blog or wish to share comments or thoughts, please post comments on the blog or email me at

Thanks for your continued support!


Sunday, January 3, 2010

I'm a Verbal Person

I’m verbal. It’s true. Although I loved science throughout school (and even got an award or two, I am proud to say), when it comes to math – don’t even go there! I admit that Matthew lost me right around the 4th grade mark. In fact, I was useless to the poor kid in that subject. My idea of math is multiplying ingredients to double or triple a recipe. It’s true. (I was so happy for the “D” I got in Calculus in college. If I could have taken it ‘Pass/Fall’, it would have been an even bigger gift.)

It’s because of this that I am soooooooooo grateful that Matthew got his math skills from his engineer-father. Yes, Ken used a write-on white board to supplement the teachings for many of our kids doing homework in the Matt-cave during junior high and high school. We have always been very proud of our strong OHS math department, but hey, hearing an explanation from a second ‘teacher’ doesn’t hurt, right? Ken still knows the stuff like he teaches it and he has never taught - well, not officially, anyway. And he graduated from Virginia Tech decades ago. How does he do it?? Don't know, don't care how, just glad he does!

So…I was delighted to receive this shirt (that I picked out) as a Christmas present this year. Yes, I am verbal and proud of it. ‘Nuff said.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Aunt Carmen's Amazing Orange Cookies

I have gotten LOTS of requests for the recipe for Orange Cookies I make every Christmas. This is a delightful, surprisingly fresh cookie. It's terrific anytime of year, although it does make a great addition to an Easter meal as well as the Christmas cookie tray.

I originally got this recipe from my Aunt Carmen who lived in Cincinnati for many years. These popular cookies are a favorite of my in-laws, Bob and Jane Brower, who now live in North Carolina. I also make some every year to deliver to our sweet, older neighbors down the street. And then, our ‘across the street’ neighbor, Janeen, requested the recipe among others, so I told them I’d just post it on my blog.

Orange Cookies

2/3 cup oleo, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup orange juice
1 box small box vanilla INSTANT pudding
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large orange rind grated (save half for frosting)

1. Mix softened oleo, sugar, egg, vanilla and orange juice.
2. Sift together: instant pudding mix, flour, salt, baking powder and soda.
3. Add mixture to butter and sugar mixture.
4. Add orange rind.
5. Bake about 8-10 minutes at 375 degrees or until lightly browned.
6. Frost cookies while warm.

Frosting for Orange Cookies

2 Tbls. oleo
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tbls. orange juice
2 Tbls. orange rind grated

To make frosting:
1. Soften butter or margarine.
2. Add other ingredients and blend well.

Cooking Tip: This recipe only makes 2-3 dozen yummy cookies! Since they are so well-loved around the Brower house, I generally double the recipe. (This past Christmas, I quadrupled the recipe!)

Also: You know I love to keep cookie dough in the freezer, ready to make cookies for guests or to give away as gifts. This is another one of those batters that freezes beautifully - and so does the frosting! Just wrap well and freeze separately. Very easy!

Note about my Aunt Carmen: Carmen has always been known for her love of cooking and baking. She was an incredible cook! Unfortunately, she is now suffering from the advanced stages of Alzheimer's and is no longer able to enjoy time in the kitchen in the same way. I treasure all of my Aunt Carmen's recipes (many of which have come to me via my Aunt Brenda, my mom's sister.) Thank you, Aunt Carmen, for sharing your wonderful recipes all those years! I love you.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Look for Cody!!

Happy New Year friends! I wish you a year full of blessings on this first day of January, 2010 and every day as we go forward this year!

When you think of January 1st, do you think of the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl? Well, I’ve never been much of a parade person (with, of course, the exception of Orrville’s 4th of July parade – which is an annual event we cherish in these parts!).

No, I’m not much of a parade person, except when it involves one of my kids. And today, it does! Cody Smucker, a drummer in the Ohio State University Marching Band is in Pasadena this week, marching with the band even as I type, and then, of course, performing at the Rose Bowl, when OSU plays Oregon!

Cody and his brother, Grant, are both drummers in the OSU Marching Band, so look for these terrific kids when you watch the parade and the game! That’s what we are doing on this 1st day of January, 2010!! (Cody is in the top photo and he and Grant are pictured in the second photo.) They are the kids of Eric and Patty Smucker, a very sweet couple who are friends of ours.

You'll recognize Cody this this photo of "our boys" you have seen before. From the left: Jacob, Cody, Matthew and Trent.

Go Bucks! We’re so proud of you, Cody!

p.s. Thank you, Getz Family, for permission to use your photos!

Readers: Sorry, but I was unable to upload the photos of Cody and Grant larger, despite many attempts. Maybe it is because these two were saved from Facebook? I'm not sure....