December 29, 2013


What do you do with leftovers from the Christmas Eve veggie platter and the last four clementines? Make a feast that's what! This is what was for supper tonight:

Flank steak - simple marinade with lime juice, S&P
Roasted potatoes with onions and red/green peppers
Roasted sweet potatoes
Brussels sprout salad - shaved sprouts, shallots, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon, S&P
Cauliflower with almonds, raisins and capers 
Clementine & Almond Cake

The cauliflower recipe was a whim and though a lot of steps the outcome was delicious.
The cake recipe was in the new cookbook, Jerusalem, I received from my sister-in-law for Christmas. An absolute winner! I've seen a similar cake from my original girl crush, Nigella Lawson, so will have to make hers and compare as I believe the recipes are slightly different. I had both fine almond flour and a grittier almond meal on hand and really liked the texture of the two mixed together. Next I'll be roasting leftover grape tomatoes for a "naked" tomato sauce.

And because I love to cook then eat what I make I have a lot of leftover jiggly body bits. So ... the newest member of our family is a NordicTrack treadmill. I'm bribing paying Chunky to set it up before the end of New Year's Day so I can start the New Year out right. Another leftover to be resurrected in the new year is Take it Off Tuesdays. Stay tuned!

December 6, 2013

Potayto Potahdo

Pinterest has been taunting me with sweet potato recipes for months ... everything from pies to fries to casseroles. I wasn't sure if I could / should commit as none of my people like sweet potatoes. Oh bother Then I happened upon a bin with two kinds of sweet potatoes as well as yams during a recent grocery run. I hemmed and hawed for quite some time ... should I or shouldn't I? Which do I buy? The only kind I've eaten in a Thanksgiving dish were orange ... which of these were orange inside? Does it matter? I've heard what we call sweet potatoes here in the U.S. are actually yams. OMG I was so confused!!! So I bought one of all three intending to do an experiment much like this. A few days passed and I got consumed appropriately for once by grad school studies. Then I saw this recipe on one of my favorite food porn sites during an ahem inappropriate break. Even though it had marshmallow frosting I loathe anything marshmallow I knew I had to make it. So I baked the three similarly sized whatever-they-ares and peeled them to find one had bright orange flesh, another a bit darker ("rusty" if you will) and the third was beige. Of course I didn't label them so don't know which is which. I discarded the beige version since I had enough of the orange stuff for the recipe. I even made the marshmallow frosting. And it was so worth it ... awesome sauce! Even Hubby and Chunky liked it  ... though they only ate initially because they thought it was pumpkin ;) There are no photos because I was too excited to serve and then it was gone. I will definitely make again and perhaps next time get out a trusty Sharpie for the great experiment. Or not.

November 29, 2013

The Flight

My mother-in-law has become a groupie at age 76. She is in love with the Italian "boy band" Il Volo (il volo means "the flight" in Italian). She's such a fan that she was one of the first in line to buy their new Christmas CD, Buon Natale, and a wristband for a performance and signing when they make a stop in our town. That day was today. She cajoled me into going to the Mall of America on Black Friday to stand in line and get up close and personal with the boys. The performance was set to start at 2pm so we arrived an hour before not know what to expect. There were a few people already in queue but not too many so we had a good vantage point. I got us coffee to help the time pass and took photos of the growing crowd while MIL struck up conversations with everyone around us (her trademark). A lady immediately behind us knew a little too much about the boys for my taste (can you say stalker?!) and made mention more than once about how worried she was about their experiencing fame at such a young age. I guess these days you need to worry that even pop opera stars could go the way of Lindsay Lohan. We even had a little drama when a) police surveyed everyone to ensure they had wristbands due to "a little mix up" and 2) a young woman in front of us fainted (she recovered in time for the show).
There was a variety of ages from about 6 years old to 86 with nary a male in sight. I knew it was finally 2 when I heard all the screams and "oh my god"s. That must have been what it was like when The Beatles came to town. The boys sang three Christmas songs and their signature "'O Sole Mio" - they can definitely sing and I'm not going to lie, the tribute to Napoli was incredible.

After the performance we stood for another hour to have CDs signed. MIL was practically floating she was so excited. She started talking about looking up all the dates/cities for their upcoming American tour until I told her it sounded like she was going the way of our stalker friend. I suggested she ask if they had any nice single grandfathers.

It was definitely an experience ... I've never waited on line for a CD signing so I can check that off the bucket list.

To see for yourself what all the fuss is about go here for their 2011 performance on American Idol (before Ignazio lost the weight according to stalker lady) and here for a recent compilation of their Christmas concert on PBS.

November 23, 2013


We had clients in from Florida for a meeting the other day and one of my coworkers led us in an icebreaker exercise. He listed four desserts on a white board:
Ice Cream

We were to go around and rank them in order of preference. I thought it was going to be totally lame, but it turned out to be fun (shows you what I know) and super revealing. Of course someone had to bring up brownies and someone else pudding ... really?!. My preferred order would have been as listed above - I LOVE cake. However I've been on a biscotti (cookie category) and pie kick lately. I made about a hundred peach crostatas this summer (pie category) and have recently turned my attention to the seasonal fave pumpkin. I especially like switching up the seasoning / spices in my pumpkin pie (bourbon, maple syrup or cardamom anyone?). I was going to switch up my crostata with plums but then they were out of season and when I found them at Costco they were too good to use any other way than au naturel ... I just couldn't bear to share them with any other ingredient or another person for that matter. Then I was going to make the crostata with apples when hubby and I got into a discussion about regular vs. "dutch" thanks to some TV commercial from who-knows-where. I guess what makes it dutch is a streusel topping instead of another pastry crust (thank you Wikipedia!). This suits me fine as I am NOT a crust fan. I found this recipe and there is simply no mincing words, we are sold. It is absolutely delicious and I do believe pie may have jumped to 2nd place honors in my book.

How would you rank the four desserts?

November 17, 2013

Here ye, here ye

Evidently there was an important meeting ...

about who could lie where

November 3, 2013

Time is on my side

I am loving the extra hour daylight savings afforded me today. I forgot to set the clocks back so woke up at 6:00am which is "regular" time (now 5:00). That means I got 6 hours of sleep straight and extra sleep time following our morning ritual. I'm pretty sure I doubled my effectiveness the entire day :)

The month of October totally flew by, I can't believe it's November with Thanksgiving less than 4 weeks away. On the down side that means we're closer to snow - yuck! On the up side that means we're closer to the greatest event on earth ... the Olympics! Only 95 days!!! I saw an article on official Winter 2014 apparel - glad to hear it will be made in the USA this time around.

In closing I am totally obsessed with making my own applesauce. This recipe from The Pioneer Woman is amazing. I flavor mine with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, a little maple syrup and bourbon, no butter. 3 lbs of apples (half recipe) makes 3 cups of applesauce. Delicious! Anyone who likes applesauce should try it. I bet this could be done in the slow cooker too ... hmm.

October 9, 2013

Quinoa the Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler

Am I the only one that thinks this Pinterest site is hysterical?

My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter
Quinoa's friend Twerk lives by a simple philosophy: no shirt, no shoes, no drama, no high fructose corn syrup and no gluten.

September 27, 2013


I've shared previously that I subscribe to Gwyneth Paltrow's lifestyle blog, GOOP. The be journal series is one of my favorite things and August's entry, The Truth is fantastic. I've had a love/hate relationship with the truth throughout my life ... I'm definitely guilty of telling myself or others something different than reality to make myself look or feel better. I still have guilt about the white lies I told as a kid for what was obviously a shameless need for attention. I've been lied to as well and discovering the truth can be a painful experience and lead to anger, fear or mistrust. I love the Purge Emotional Writing exercise (PEW-12) mentioned in the journal and may do just that to coincide with our next bonfire. Freeing the mind and spirit of things that weigh us down is cathartic and a gift we can give ourselves. So is being honest and truthful about who we are, what we're not and what we want to be.

September 25, 2013

Little Helper

Now if he'd just fold / hang too.

September 22, 2013

My blessing

The world is aghast at the Fifty Shades of Grey casting. I find it humorous ... who knows what all goes into casting - chemistry, schedules, politics, money, etc.? My personal favorite for Ana was Shailene Woodley but I didn't feel strongly about Christian ... Ian Somerhalder, Paul Walker, Matt Bomer all would have been fine. That is until I found out Clint Eastwood has a 27-year old son, Scott. Oh my goodness! Being cast as Christian Grey would have totally put him on the map and made for some very nice theater viewing.
Sassy, I give you my blessing to marry him!

September 21, 2013

To paint or not to paint

Our recent painting project has inspired me to consider lightening up other areas of the house, primarily the kitchen. The woodwork and red walls are beautiful, but it is a very heavy look. We don't have the money to gut or reface, but I don't think that's needed ... some paint and new counter tops could take the perfectly good quality cabinets to the next level.

Mittens the model

This post on one of my favorite blogs as well as the display below at Home Depot are inspirations. I'm on a research mission ... possibilities, cost, etc.

September 19, 2013


It's Talk Like a Pirate Day! Check out the lingo - my favorite are the pick up lines. I dare you to say "prepare to be boarded" to someone today!

September 14, 2013

Perfect Late Summer Dinner

Paninis with turkey, peppers and cheese, roasted sweet corn, veggie casserole and peach crostata. I want to try the crostata with plums next ... I can't get enough of peaches or plums right now. 

I used eggplant instead of potatoes for the casserole (or "tian" as the original recipe calls it) ... this is amazing!

September 13, 2013

If I were a rich girl

and thin! I'd wear these. Oh my!

Happy Friday the 13th!

September 8, 2013


We survived the first week of school. It was touch and go ... we almost didn't make it through the first morning. This is Chunky's last year at the private K-8 school Sassy attended as well. An 8th grader! Where does the time go? My little Chunky Monkey has grown into a tall, lean bean sprout ... 6', 135 lbs. The uniform pants are khakis and Tarjay has those, done. School supplies, done. New backpack, done. Of course the uniform shirts from last year would not fit since he was already sporting a Britney Spears belly button look by the end of May. Those were youth XL so I knew I'd have to order via website. In bl8tn fashion I ordered two weeks before the start of school, risking that they wouldn't arrive in time for the first day. A few days before school Chunky came in from an outdoor adventure exclaiming he'd broken his belt. I promptly asked if he had another belt and he said that he did in the sweetest tone you've ever heard, like angels singing, unaccompanied by an eye roll. Not! I asked one more time before the start of school if he needed a belt and the responding snort + mumble was my cue that he had it covered. Fast forward to the first day ... I was working from home so made sure he got up (only three promptings), ate breakfast (a french toast bagel with cream cheese as he paced the kitchen, 1/4 of which went to the dog as he realized he was running out of time) and made his lunch (turkey and cheese sammie, applesauce, turkey stick, carrots, cashews and fruit snacks). That's when I heard, "Mom, I need a belt after school today". Why son would you need a belt if you already have one as you assured me twice previously within the past two weeks? Why son would you need a belt after school if it's currently 30 minutes before school? The bus had already been missed by this point. This is when we learned the belts he had were his fathers ... a 46 year old man with a 36 inch waist. There may have been more angels singing at this point, I'm not sure as I've blocked most of what happened in the next few seconds as they're likely not mother-of-the-year worthy. He attempted to hammer a nail into a belt to make a new hole and when that didn't work he tried a drill. Neither worked. So off to Tarjay we went to find a belt at 9:00 with school starting at 9:10. We had more words in Tarjay as we ran between the kids, mens and womens sections desperately searching for a belt that met his standards and oh yeah, fit properly. Did you know it's uncool for your mother to hold up the waist of your pants so that when you try on a belt it fits around the waist versus the bottom of your hip? Who knew?! Success was achieved with a dark brown, could pass for black, braided leather belt that due to the braiding afforded virtually unlimited sizing. We may have also picked up a black belt with rivets from the womens sectioned that looked "cool".

Then there was the obligatory first day of school photo ... in the Tarjay parking lot. Does this look not scream "I am so excited and love my mother beyond words can say"?!
As I was leaving school a bus load of kids arrived with several parents there to take photos. I bet they were happy to see their parents and super excited about having their photo taken! As I started to pull away, I turned and noticed a father giving some last minute encouragement? instructions? wisdom? to his young son ... so sweet. Poor sap doesn't know what he's in for in 10 years.

Sassy's first day of her college sophomore year was the day after Chunky's. She looks a tad more excited than he, no?

My first day of school is in two days (every other Tuesday night through December) ... Leading Organizational Change. I may or may not wear a belt.

August 31, 2013


How is it possible that this is the last day of August?! This has been a good "season" ... I think of summer as the time between Memorial and Labor Days ... not too short but of course I wish it would go on forever, especially the milder weather we had a few weeks ago. Back to school is just a couple of days away ... Chunky in 8th grade (last at his K-8 Catholic school) and Sassy a college sophomore ... and the season wouldn't be complete without the annual tradition of the Great Minnesota Get-Together. It's something you either love or hate and we love it. I didn't take many photos it was 90°+, but got a few of our favorite roosters from the Sheep & Poultry barn, the championship Hen & Tom turkeys as well as a food item I'd never tried before - Bayou Bob's Alligator (tasted like chicken).

Bring on the next great tradition ... Halloween!

August 27, 2013

Berry Good

We all know I love sweets, but somehow cobbler has never been on my hit list. While I lived in the south - Texas is the south, right? - for a few years, I never picked up a hankering for cooking southern food. Not sure if cobbler is a southern thing or not, but that's what I've associated it with. All that has recently changed - first this cake and now this cobbler. Oh my griddles, it's amazing! I ripped the recipe out of a People magazine I bought for a read on my recent trip to Sconny and have made it three, four times already. I use any kind of berry on hand that's looking a little overripe. My extra special twist is to add a few sliced almonds in the berry mix. Next time I make it - now? - I'm going to use almond meal instead of flour. I bet it will rock my world.

August 23, 2013


I've been working on a post about my recent rejuvenating trip to sunny northeast Wisconsin to see my BFF and family. Then I had a great night out with one of my girlfriends this week (Milwaukee born and raised) and dished with another favorite girlfriend who I missed while she was on vacation last week (Appleton born and Indiana raised) and realized all three of these great ladies are from Wisconsin! There's a fourth girlfriend in Hudson I need to connect with who will put it over the top (though she wasn't born a Sconny just lives there now, that's a technicality we'll overlook). There may be others I'm forgetting - shout out if you're reading this and are a Sconny girl!

My trip to WI was wonderful ... I loved spending time with my BFF and her family. And the little dogs too. I didn't have to do anything ... get up at a certain time, make meals (though I happily volunteered to make pancakes one morning), divvy up pills. Nothing. And I got to sleep through the ENTIRE night for three nights in a row. Sheer heaven! sigh

I was honored they took time to take me on my first trip to Door County. Love it! We ate and visited an art fair in Egg Harbor, stopped at a general store near Fish Creek, then shopped and ate ice cream in Sister Bay. If I had to pick a favorite place I'd say Pipka's - they had this amazing almond cake I will be making soon as well as beautiful French inspired scents, jewelry and doodads. Everyone at home got t's and I bought myself a pair of stylish Crocs sandals on sale. These shoes are so comfortable it might be illegal. They will forever be known as my Door County sandals.

July 24, 2013

RIP Maddie Rose

Our sweet Maddie (aka The Moose or Madagascar) went to the great doggie park in the sky today. We discovered a mass on her side just 10 days ago and it turned out to be an aggressive cancer. She was getting weaker and not her self by the day so time to let go. So sad. Chunky and Sassy went with me to the vet ... Chunky had some alone time with her before, nuzzled her head during and carried her in when it was done. The vet has an outside area for euthanasia during good weather and it was perfect ... Maddie loved to be outside - so much so that she went on many unapproved adventures over the years. Hard to believe how fast the time has passed the last 12 years.


July 21, 2013

Here I go again

I have a long history of procrastination (see any post with "grad school" label) and I'm living up to my own expectations again. I took Friday off from work so I could really dig in and get most of my Ethical Leadership research paper done. This is Sunday and I'm maybe 50% done. Really?! It's due this Friday by Noon. Today is going to be a productive day though, I can feel it.

While I should be focused on my paper, I have been processing in the back of my brain what to do with a cruddy looking crate of strawberries in the fridge. This time of year is challenging for berries ... they taste great, but are only fresh for about two days after bringing home. Conversely, the berries available in winter stay fresh forever, yet have no taste. I came across this recipe for Strawberry Basil Tart and it seems to be a perfect way to use the strawberries as well as the abundance of tiny leaf basil growing in my herb container.

Wish me luck - with the paper and tart!

July 18, 2013

I Heart Cheerios

A Cheerios commercial is getting a lot of attention. I love the commercial because it's cute and represents the world I want to live in. I also appreciate the dialogue. Go General Mills!

July 14, 2013

The Long Way 'Round

My 10-12 page ethical leadership research paper is due in 12 days. I only landed on my research question last night. I'm trying to decide if I should panic or not. I'm leaning towards not ... I have today, a few light work days, another entire weekend and a few weeknights before then. Just think what all went down in the 12 days of Christmas! I'm sure I can pull it off. Now I'm not so daft that I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to write about, but it has not been easy for me to come up with the ONE thing for which I want to create an argument with rational connections to theories presented in the course as well as counter-arguments. That may prove to be the easy part. I've got 12 pages of notes and counting (read three books on the topic- one enormous at 1000+ pages and two at 100 pages each - as well as four scholarly journals). The reference to "scholarly" is intentional - the instructor emphasized repeatedly that web resources and opinions alone are no-nos. 

Are you ready for it? Drum roll ...............................

How Does Consensus Building Demonstrate Ethical Leadership?

July 13, 2013


Read and watch movies for fun or for grad school?

These are the two movies for school - good but not light.

These are the books - all six of them! Definitely not light.

Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers by Kwame Anthony Appiah
Meeting the Ethical Challenges of Leadership by Craig E. Johnson
Practicing Relational Ethics in Organizations by Gitte Haslebo and Maja Loua Haslebo
Relational Being: Beyond Self and Community by Kenneth J. Gergen
Leadership: Theory and Practice by Peter G. Northouse
What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel

And there's more! This doesn't include reading for reasearch paper. What have I gotten myself into?!

Summer reading / viewing just isn't the same.

July 6, 2013

Sad Saturday

Unfortunately Hubby and I did not make it to the annual fun fest. He is under the weather with an infected pressure wound/skin ulcer on his right elbow. Not sure if it's the infection or antibiotics that are making him sick (or both). He was given a general antibiotic (clindamycin) at the doctor's office the other day, but they called yesterday to say he needed something more specific (ciprofloxacin) based on culture results. The wound clinic associated with his primary Dr doesn't have an opening until the 19th so on my mother's recommendation I called the vascular center seen for a wound while in the hospital almost two years ago. Thankfully he can get in on the 9th so we can get this under control. In the meantime we're hanging out in bed sleeping (him), reading/paper writing (me) and watching TV (both). The kids went to the farm without us and they're having fun. Rain is predicted later but I'm hoping it holds off long enough for them to enjoy fireworks.

The change in plans - we had an inking yesterday - means I didn't go crazy with food. I bought a cut up grilled chicken from the grocery the other day so sent that with a bag of chips and previously made pinwheel cookies with the kids. The cookies don't look like the recipe photo, but they sure taste good. I think I need to roll them tighter. I bought coconut milk to make grilled corn on the cob and decided to extended it for a new kabob recipe (used red pepppers instead of apricots). The corn "bath" didn't really add a lot of flavor so I won't go to the extra trouble to do that again (corn was tasty enough on its own). Accompanied by some wild rice I keep in the freezer it was a super yummy supper. I just wish Hubby had enough an appetite to enjoy it with me.

July 3, 2013

Size matters

I am loving my new washer, isn't she a beauty?! on the right if not sure which is which The dryer however has size envy. The matching dryer may be in my future - the height difference is testing my OCD limits.

June 30, 2013

Party Planning

We're looking forward to hanging out at Hubbys' cousin's farm for the annual 4th of July multi-day fun fest. I sure hope the weather is good. I love planning what food to bring - it needs to be family friendly, a good quantity for pot luck and of course holiday themed. Here's what's on my list so far -

Chicken Dip - the second most requested appetizer I make after bacon wrapped kielbasa; I like to use the more subtle green pepper sauce instead of buffalo
Party Ham Sandwiches - winning combo of delicious and easy
Potato Salad - torn between buying pre-made or making my own "light" recipe
Corn on the Cob - plain and either chili lime butter or roasted in chile coconut milk
Snack Mix - great blend of salty and sweet plus themed M&Ms if I can find them
Mini Cheesecakes - I've been dying to try these with Nilla Wafers for crusts
Pinwheel Icebox Cookies - I made these today and put them in the freezer to bake later in the week

June 22, 2013

Good Vibrations

Every three years we seem to have some major appliance issue. Three years ago it was the dryer which required a brand new one with washer only a couple of months later. Thankfully the washer was an easy fix then, but shortly after it began vibrating so much that it walked across the floor. We (actually Chunky) have been stuffing things on either side to stabilize - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. I figured it was the floor, the base, something. I'd asked Hubby to look at it over the years and he always said everything was fine. I finally had enough this week when a catheter leak meant mucho loads of laundry and all the washer rumbling made the dryer come unhooked. Off to Sears as we're loyal to them for all our appliance needs. The sales guy told me "heavy vibration" was a common issue with first generation front load washers. Ha! I feel so vindicated. It was a major decision ... there are A LOT of choices! Do I get the same brand as the dryer? It's three years old with many design changes so no matter as they won't look like a matched set anyway. Steam or no steam? 3.6, 4.3 or 5.1 capacity? 4 cycles or 40? OMG! I finally decided on 4.3 same brand as the dryer and steam - it was a lower mid price point with just enough selections so won't need a physics degree or pilot license to run it. I'm also getting rid of the bases - while the height is nice for loading/unloading convenience, they partially cover the window. Having them lower will give me another work surface and I could stand to do more deep knee bends as it may often be one of the only forms of exercise I get.

June 6, 2013

Fresh Coat

Our home was built the year we were married - 1987. At that time wallpaper was still somewhat popular for home decorating. I can't imagine how the wallpaper in the downstairs bathroom (aka kids' bathroom) was ever popular - the floral foil pattern screamed "Help, I'm trapped in the 80's and can't get out". Needless to say we covered that up two minutes after we moved in. The wallpaper covering most of the main level wasn't bad. It was a mauve color with a bit of texture that cast a nice glow throughout the house due to the low level of natural light and woodwork. We left it alone as it was in really good shape and not too offensive. Fast forward 7 years and it was time to go.

This is a low quality close up -
Here's the difference -
BEFORE                                                            AFTER

It looks fresh, modern and clean! At least until a dog, kid or certain person in a wheelchair marks it up. I'm really happy with the way it turned out and it was worth every penny to have it professionally done. We did the main rooms upstairs, stairwell and downstairs hall all in the same color. The color selection was less painful than I thought it would be - I was worried about it looking too yellow, dirty or even too light so the painters picked out neutral colors and provided samples on poster boards for us to compare. Sassy wanted something darker, but Hubby and I decided on Benjamin Moore's Shelburne Buff. I think we got it just right!

June 2, 2013

Help Me Rhonda

The original title for this post was "Fruity". I had a detailed description of the trials and tribulations of planning 8th grade graduation at Chunky's school over the past few weeks and specifically this past weekend (7th grade families are responsible for hosting). Then I accidentally deleted everything and Blooger doesn't have an "undo" button. The short story: herding cats, diverse interpretation of the term 'responsibility' amongst 15 7th grade families and I cut up 100 lbs of fruit for 200+ people. My main task was food (shocking I know) and I couldn't have pulled it off without Sassy's help. She artfully arranged cookies and cupcakes, washed dishes and helped load/unload a carful of food at midnight following a wedding reception in the space adjacent to the next day's blessed event. I treated us to mani/pedis yesterday and it was the best money I've ever paid. Needless to say I'm over my alternative career dream of catering ala Martha Stewart.

I start my summer grad school course tomorrow. Lord willing I make it through the next two months. I will savor every moment of August. I got an A- in Marketing and am so over my perfectionist complex it's not even funny. That class was HARD! There was not a lot of synergy between actually working in Marketing (Product), going through Pragmatic Marketing training (required at work) and this class. I've OD'd on Marketing. Oy! My summer course is Professional and Organizational Ethics. I just turned in my first assignment moments ago - commentary on this article. Interesting read!

May 27, 2013

Weekend update

Happy Memorial Day!
Many thanks to all who served and made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

I think I've had the perfect weekend ... gardening, cooking/baking and relaxing. We had a movie on the docket for today, but opted for more relaxing.

I thought my gardening bug had all but died so was pleasantly surprised to find myself motivated to do a little digging. I should do more planning though. Most of the "patio plants" I bought last year didn't make it through the rough winter/spring. I tried the easy route and it didn't pay off. I'm still deciding what to do in the back yard - native plants or hostas. Either way I'll do annuals for pops of color but it has been too gloomy to get excited about that. I'm bummed that my prized 'sweet autumn' clematis vine along the back fence died. RIP. Not sure what to do there yet. I have two peonies in the "trough" along the fence with tons of space, but that area doesn't get enough sun so I need to rethink my strategy. Plus I should tie in to the general native vs. hosta plan, shouldn't I? I feel a new obsession coming on to interfere with my summer course in Ethics - landscaping/garden planning.

I cleared out all the leaves and debris in the front yard then planted poppies around the purple clematis trailing up the mailbox. The photo is what they're supposed to look like ... we'll see. Poppies are perennials and don't bloom long so need to throw something else in there. I "cheated" and added 'confetti' mix from Home Depot - each pot is a mix of red verbena, blue Lobelia, and light yellow mini petunia. I bought 7 but need at least three more so will be scrounging other area Home Depots. This is another attempt at the easy route and could be a hit or miss ... again, we'll see. On a whim I got a gardenia tree for the front ramp area. It's an annual here in the arctic, but I'm hoping an open window and warm breeze will equal magical smell in the kitchen this summer. I scored two planters of beautiful multicolor begonias via United Way fundraiser at work. You'll have to imagine it all ... short on photos as my camera pooped out (hopefully just needing to recharge the battery).

For the cooking/baking part of the weekend, I got a bee in my bonnet to make two chicken meatball recipes - though I used turkey instead of chicken. The first was an accident as I actually intended to make the second but got all the ingredients for the first. Got that? These delicious baked meatballs have layers of flavor - pancetta, onion, garlic, parsley. Next time I'll add fresh Parmesan and try as a meatloaf for family dinner. This is definitely going on my appetizer go-to menu. I served with pasta but didn't need it as just a little sauce would have been fine. The weather has been rainy and chilly so I ended up making a hearty soup with these meatballs by adding more chicken stock and cooked wild rice. Half of the meatballs lost their shape and the kale was not a popular chioice. I probably won't make again, but I'm looking forward to leftovers for work lunch tomorrow. Finally, I was inspired by this post to make my first Hummingbird cake. It's dense, moist, flavorful and the cream cheese icing is amazing. If I make again it will be as cupcakes. Hubby said it wasn't that great then proceeded to have three pieces. Three! I think it grew on him :)

May 16, 2013


More evidence of Susie's charmed life -

I just wanted to send a note to my peeps to say what a true pleasure it has been working with all of you. I am out on Medical Leave as of today and am not certain how long I will be out or if I will be given the opportunity (God willing) to come back but this has been a wonderful place to work. The people here are most amazing and I feel so very fortunate to have built such great relationships in my work home. I hope you all feel that same way and can look back and really appreciate how many opportunities we have been given.
What I want to share most is a hope that everyone appreciates your journey here on earth each and everyday. I know it's not always easy but time goes so fast and we forget the special opportunities like hugs, kisses, laughter, tears, learning, eating, playing, vacationing, working, and all the other wonderful earthly pleasures we forget about on a daily basis. If I had one wish for each and every one of you it would be to truly take at least 20 minutes out of every day to appreciate an earthly pleasure. Have lunch or call a friend, read a book, eat a favorite dessert, go for a walk or bike ride, sing a song, make amends, etc. etc. We are here for such a short time so enjoy it while you can.

Well said. May everyone this reaches appreciate the journey.

May 14, 2013

Movie Faves: The '80s

I've been wanting to do a favorite movies post for some time and because I should be writing a paper on intercultural marketing for grad school, I decided to do a top 10 by decade. Actually 11 because I couldn't bear to part with one. And it's your lucky day! I'm give you a favorite quote from each. You're welcome.

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) - Harrison Ford in a non Star Wars movie ... swoon. I remember my mom renting the VHS to celebrate my first high school job.
Snakes. Why'd it have to be snakes?

Stripes (1981) - Bill Murray in his prime. Will Farrell is a copy cat. Worthy of two quotes!
Lighten up, Francis.
You know what your problem is? You've never had anybody give you the Aunt Jemima treatment.

The Four Seasons (1981) - The first time I thought middle age didn't look horrific.
The reality is you're married to a middle-aged woman with a a good sense of humor and dry skin!

Terms of Endearment (1983) - Mother-Daughter tearjerker; Shirley Maclaine and Jack Nicholson make this movie.
I like the lights on. Then go home and turn them on.

Sixteen Candles (1984) - John Hughes at his best, my high school years defined and I heart Jake Ryan.
I can't believe my Grandmother actually felt me up.

Back to the Future (1985) - A DeLorean time machine, skateboarding and Huey Lewis and the News music. Always reminds me of my senior year of high school.
Why do you keep calling me Calvin? Well, that is your name, isn't it? Calvin Klein? It's written all over your underwear.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) - Another John Hughes classic. The parade scene rocks!
Bueller?... Bueller?... Bueller?

Baby Boom (1987) - Quintessential '80s female empowerment; great chemistry between Diane Keaton and Sam Shepherd.
I can't have a baby because I have a 12:30 lunch meeting.

The Princess Bride (1987) - Romance, sword fighting, Andre the Giant.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Bull Durham (1988) - Baseball + Kevin Costner = hit movie.
The rose goes in the front, big guy.

When Harry Met Sally (1989) - Men and women can be friends.
It is so nice when you can sit with someone and not have to talk.

There are so many other greats ... Breakfast Club, Die Hard, Fatal Attraction, Field of Dreams, The Terminator ... but the above are the ones that would accompany me on a desert island. If you haven't seen 'em, you're in for a  real treat!

May 3, 2013


I do not feel charmed. At all. But I have a new goal ... to say that I've led a charmed life. A coworker told me this week that the breast cancer she beat months ago is back. This time in her lungs. And it's terminal. We sat together, laughed, cried and talked about life, death and everything in between. Of all the things we touched on, the most profound to me is when she said she's led a charmed life. How many people can say that?! She has a husband she loves deeply who loves her, two incredible college-age daughters, traveled all over and had amazing experiences. How many people can say they've led a charmed life when faced at the end of theirs? Especially a life cut too short. My new goal is to feel that I've led a charmed life. Maybe it's being more appreciative of what I already have, maybe it's figuring out what's missing or what new experiences would nurture my soul. Or a combination of these. I want to honor Susie by believing I've led a charmed life and I want to be able to say it sooner rather than later.

Are you charmed?

April 20, 2013

California Dreamin'

Our crazy weather ... snow in mid April y'all! ... has got me thinking about a getaway. So has my busy life. I need to relax and recharge somewhere other than here. I have three destinations on my list. One is my BFF's house in northern WI. She moved away a couple of years ago and I feel guilty that I don't know what her new home or life looks like. I am afraid she'd make me go running now that that's her thing, but maybe she'd be okay with my making the coffee run instead. My next destination would be sunny southern CA. My ex-stepmother lives there and has extended an offer to visit. I've been about an hour north of where she lives for a conference a few years back, walking the beach for hours one night and seeing the most glorious sunset over the ocean. I'd love to relive that. Finally, my good friend MPB and I have been talking 'bout Vegas for years. A quicky trip of debauchery could be just what my soul needs.

April 4, 2013


Found this site courtesy of Gwyneth Paltrow's blog, GOOP -
I cannot stop laughing ... thinking of having some framed as wall hangings.
WARNING: do not look if you are easily offended

April 2, 2013


This is an actual Facebook posting exchange from earlier today -

Sassy: Happy Birthday to the best mom a girl could ask for. Love you ♥

Me: Aw, thanks honey. It's easy when you have the best daughter How much money do you need?

Who has who snowed here?!

March 29, 2013

Loads of love

I went to load the washing machine and saw Sookie in her familiar position atop the dryer. I was startled a moment later to see an extra head. Unfortunately neither one was interested in helping me with the laundry.

March 27, 2013

Flat or full

How do you like your macaroons? They should be plump, perfectly rounded little pillows. Sadly, mine look like this -

I purchased this book - for a pittance at $5 - because I dream of living out my life in a warm climate while toiling away in a little bake shop. Ah the good life.

I toiled in my kitchen last Sunday - almond meal check, pistachios check, pastry bag check, parchment paper check, new spatulas thanks to early birthday gift from mom check, endless patience uh, no. It was hard work and required a lot of energy to keep furry kids away from the goods. There may also be a reason that book was $5. I researched my little heart out - instead of writing my school paper - and found that I need to add the sugar to my egg whites earlier in the whipping process. That's how I'll be spending next Sunday.

Happy Easter mom! 

March 24, 2013

Amazing Amazon

I've been ordering from for quite some time. I'm not a power shopper or anything, but I like the selection, prices and free shipping. We buy supplies for hubby's needs, shows on demand through our Smart TV and I download e-books and apps for my Kindle. I was recently in the market for a pair of beige open toe wedge heels. I purchased a black pair last year and they were the perfect summer work shoe so I fgured a beige pair would round out my needs when black wasn't the best fit.

These came into my life via Amazon -

Unfortunately they weren't quite right. I prefer not to have much space between the front of the shoe and where my toes start - it looks like the shoe is too big and my toes are squatty. So I decided to return them and notified Amazon. They instructed me to leave the box for pick up outside my front door for UPS to collect. A week passed. I notified Amazon that UPS had not picked up and received a reply that UPS had been notified. Another week went by. I sent Amazon another email last night and received a reply within moments ... they were contacting UPS. I received another reply a few moments later saying that it was too expensive for another UPS pick up so I would be credited and could "dispose" of the shoes any way I'd like. Amazing. I guess I'll be keeping the shoes after all. They weren't expensive, less than $35, or I'd feel terribly guilty. Amazon's customer service is beyond compare ... I'm a lifer.