Written and images on this blog are Judie Ryan's sole property unless otherwise indicated.

Thursday, November 23, 2017


Since we've already celebrated Thanksgiving with the Thanksgiving before Thanksgiving, here's an idea that was quick and easy way for me to decorate the entry. My girlfriend, who couldn't come, brought me these flowers the day before. I just added Indian corn and a fake glittery pumpkin. The fabric underneath it was a remnant from JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby.

Have a great day!

Thank you Wikimedia Commons for this great Turkey.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


When my daughter was little we always went to Pumpkin Farms and Mazes to buy our pumpkins, gourds and play hide-and-seek in the mazes. One October, we found a prepacked milk-carton sized package of Pumpkin Cheesecake Dip in the farms gift shop. It was spectacular, but ultlmately we came up with our own recipe. It's especially wonderful with pretzel sticks, but works with carrots and mostly anything.

Here's our recipe:
It's quick, easy and delicious!


1 pkg. cream cheese
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
1 c. Libby's pumpkin puree
8 oz, Cool whip
3/4 c powdered sugar.

Use a mixer to blend until there are no lumps. YYUUUUUMMMM!

Thank you for this beautiful watercolor Wikimedia Commons!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Around the middle of November, my cousin's daughter (I just call her a niece, because the actual relationships' once removed, second cousin) are too darn complicated. We drove to North Carolina), stayed a few days and drove 14 hours back. It was a gorgeous wedding, but the wedding pictures aren't done yet. I can show you one though. The one in the middle is the bride. The one on the left is my daughter and on the left, my daughter's fiance.

Later in November:

This is my brother when he was in the army. I was going to post him as my hero for Veteran's day, but as you'll see the month continued with complications, so I didn't get a chance to do that.

My brother was nearly an adult when I was born. He died some years ago of Alzheimer's Disease. Just after I posted to you on November the 7th, his wife died of cervical cancer. Due to some complications in the family, some of us didn't find out about her death until after the funeral was over. Also I couldn't find out, because I was at the wedding in North Carolina.

My brother and she had four adorable children, who are almost my age now. If you can believe so many things can happen all in one month, their oldest daughter, Debbie, died (two weeks after her mother, of a massive heart attack). I have a picture of me at about six-years-old holding baby Debbie. She was the first baby I ever held. I'll post it later if I can find it.

Debbie leaves behind her husband, three children, three siblings and the rest of us. We drove four hours to the viewing. It was not a funeral, because they were not particularly religious. It was very sad, because she was so young.

I used to play the harp in a huge funeral home that had formerly been a grand Victorian home. The home owned two harps and had large rooms for funerals at opposite ends of the house. After playing one funeral, I race upstairs, through the coffin room (Eeeeekk!) and down the opposite staircase to the other side of the house (funeral number 2). Sometimes everyone cried. A few fell into the coffin. Then, because everyone was crying, I'd start crying while playing old time favorites like In the Garden, Amazing Grace, In the Sweet Bye and Bye etc. in the background.  At other funerals, the attendees seemed to be having a party, celebrating a life. Regardless of the kind of funeral, the ministers, all of different religions, always seemed to add a touch of beauty to the services. I missed that gentle touch at Debbie's viewing.

The November finale:

My stepdaughter always works on the holidays, so we have to celebrate Thanksgiving about a week early. We call it the Thanksgiving before Thanksgiving. This year thought, we barely had time to prepare after returning from the funeral. I am still stressed out from the Thanksgiving before Thanksgiving and sleeping a lot. It's probably really because of the whole damn month prewtty much sucked, except for the wedding.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


While these poisonous plants are all spectacular in the fall, attracting kids to pick them, don't forget they are still poisonous all year. When they're green you might not even notice them. This is a picture from my very suburban yard. Can you find the plant that is poison right at my front stoop? What is it? If you can't find it a determine what it is, right me a comment and I'll help you.

I didn't notice this five-leafer crawling up a tree a few feet from backdoor in my yard until it started changing color. Do you recognize it?

The best way to help your kids, especially the youngest, stay safe from poison plants is to create a matching game. Make flashcards. Draw two or three of the same leaf, like poison ivy. Make them as identical as possible.  Mix all the cards together upside down like a commercial matching game. Turn one card and try to  match it by turning another card over. If they don't match turn them back over.  Continue until you get a match. P.S. It's also a memory game. You can so include the berries of each poisonous plant, but color them or make their shape appropriately different. Here's a list of possible cards. 1. Poison Ivy  2. Poison Oak  3. Virginia Creeper  4. Poison Sumac  5. Non-poison sumac (I'll tell you about sumac in a later part.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017


Trick-o-Treat is always fun. Most kids, at least today, come in a store-bought, commercially inspired costumes, but at least three who visited us, stood out as very creative and thinking-outside-the-box. Wish I could have taken their pictures. The first was an eleven or twelve-year-old who came in a self-made Waldo costume from the Where's Waldo book series. I love book inspired costumes! A little boy about 3 o 4 wore an full body short brown curly-haired suit with ears. Only his face showed. I guess I should have said 'tell me what you are', but I asked, are you a bear or a dog? With an extremely superior, indignant voice he said, "I'm an OTTER!"  I loved that. Later, a 3 year-old girl wearing a red tutu sprinkled with tiny, red gems, a glittering top with red twinkles all over it and a red sequin crown came to the door with her older brother (he was probably about 6). Now, I thought it was obvious what she was, but I said, "And you're a beautiful ballerina." She started galloping in place and said, "No, I'm a horse." Her brother said, "She's a ballerina." She kept right on galloping and said, "No. I'm a horse. I love big dogs and big horses." Off she galloped down the sidewalk, down the driveway and back to her mother, who waved.

I like to go as an endangered species! Excuse the wrinkled, dog-hair covered t-shirt. I forgot I had it on.          

One of my dogs was not very cooperative when we tried to take his picture. He wouldn't keep his ears in the alotted holes. So, his costume head kept falling back. (look closely you'll see he was black nose at the very bottom of the picture and his bangs covering his eyes. That way, you can try to imagine how he looked, though.

My friend made her dog, Sara, a Lion costume. Sara's so proud in her costume, unlike my dog, Bebe. He's usually just as smiley as Sara, but maybe he wanted to be a Lion instead of a Sock Puppet.