December 26, 2015

Reading Railroad

I did a post in July (where did summer and fall go?!) about my love of here. Safe to say I'm still loving it as I've managed to read 7 more books and am half way into my eighth.
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - Oh my stars and garter belts is this good! Suspense and intrigue in a modern 'who dunnit?!' This will be made into a movie which won't do it justice. English narration is excellent.
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler - gritty, witty and charming
  • A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen - I love Candice's voice and how open and honest she is in this book. I'm thinking of reading her first one about her childhood as well. If I met her I would ask if "romance" reference is ultimately to her daughter :)
  • Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns - I don't remember how I came upon this but I'm glad I did. Set in the "old" south, it's a lot like Fried Green Tomatoes with a great storyline and good amount of sass. Awesome narration. 
  • Happily Ali After by Ali Wentworth - sarcasm abounds and Ali seems like a girl I could easily hang with, but the reading was a bit "off"
  • The Rocks by Peter Nichols - Love, love, love this! It starts in current time and works backward so there's a rich tapestry of how the main characters' lives intersect and the root cause for what occurs. Bittersweet.
  • Maybe in Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid - Fun read, a lot like Sliding Doors with a decision point where things go in different directions by alternating chapters if Hannah had said yes vs. no.
  • All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - I'm a little glad Christmas is over because I found myself struggling between listening to this and my beloved Christmas music. It's set in WWII about a blind girl and a young Austrian soldier. 
Queued up next are:
The Traitor' s Wife by Alison Pataki
The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers
The Sexy Years by Suzanne Somers
The Japanse Lover by Isabel Allende
Is Everyone Hanging Out with Me by Mindy Kaling

December 22, 2015

So this happened!

It was a lovely ceremony, all two and a half hours! I think there were close to 300 graduates in attendance - associates, bachelors, masters, doctorates and certificates. Only 8 from our class of 15 attended - I'm so glad I didn't skip this milestone ritual. Three of our instructors are also in this photo - the one with the velvet beret and blue "scarf" has a PhD - I think I want one ;)

December 16, 2015

TV Shows

We are "upgrading" our cable (I'm convinced it's a scam but hubby says it's the greatest thing ever) so losing all our current settings and recordings. The good news is we'll be able to record multiple programs at once. One of my current issues is there are 5 programs I like that all air on the same night - if football delays on one station then two shows compete with the others and I have to choose which to record and watch later vs access on demand and be forced to watch commercials. It's house of cards. #firstworldproblems I may or may not have ever stayed up and watched all five in one night by recording in different rooms #pathetic

The bad news is I've confirmed that I watch entirely too much TV. I made a list of shows to program into the new system - 30+! In my defense many of these air only 2-3 months each year and I don't watch all the cooking shows if the menu is "weird". It's a weak defense. 

The Great Holiday Baking Show seasonal
Downton Abbey ended 2016
The Good Wife ended 2016
Madam Secretary 
The Walking Dead
Vikings lost interest
Modern Family
The Goldbergs
The Big Bang Theory
Telenovela  cancelled
Odd Mom Out
Real Housewives BH
Real Housewives OC 
Real Housewives NYC
Fixer Upper
Lip Sync Battle lost interest
The Tonight Show
Project Runway
Cedar Cove cancelled
Pioneer Woman
Daphne Dishes  cancelled
Southern at Heart  cancelled
Valerie’s Home Cooking
The Leftovers
Game of Thrones
Ray Donovan
Masters of Sex
New Good Behavior
New Timeless

December 6, 2015

Khalil Gibran on Children

“Your children are not your children.
They are sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. 
They come through you but not from you.
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the make upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness.
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He also loves the bow that is stable.”

October 4, 2015

Life Lately

I have been drowning in school work and work work lately (plus hubby stuff). I love my job and am excited to see light at the end of the school tunnel (November thesis presentation and December graduation dates are on the calendar!), but let's face it ... I'd rather be cooking.

Joining a CSA has really challenged me to eat more veggies (and herbs & melons!). I love that the farm provides links to recipes every week that relate to exactly what's in that week's box. This week was arugula, parsley, kale, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, radishes, celery root (celeriac) and jester winter (aka carnival) squash.

For supper tonight we're having Sauerbraten (German-style pot roast), mashed potatoes/celeriac, roasted maple walnut squash, savoy salad with apple and walnut (and bonus radishes), and nutty cardamom bundt cake with bourbon glaze! I'll get at least two work lunches of squash + salad (and cake!) out of this as well.

And make these if you want the taste of summer to last a bit longer, they were winners with my picky family -

Veggie Tacos

Strawberry Lemonade bars

July 21, 2015


You know how when you find something seriously awesome and you want everyone else to share in the awesomeness? Well buckle up.

A couple of months ago I was getting ready for a road trip to visit my BFF who lives 5 hours away and decided to look up books on CD to make the long drive a bit more enjoyable. Only I kept calling it "books on tape" because I'm old and that's the only kind of book that didn't appear on the written page or my Kindle that I was familiar with. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Amazon has an audio book division called Audible. Insert angels singing. What isn't Amazon involved in? They offer a one month free trial so I promptly signed up and searched for my first book. I wanted something light, on my "to read" list and long enough to cover both to and from BFF's house. I chose Diane von Furstenberg' s memoir, The Woman I Wanted To Be. It was a good first choice in my humble opinion. Read by the author it was a little saucy and very interesting. I wondered if it was being read to or her accent that put me in a coma-like state ... so much so that it seemed like the drive was over in a flash. I was hooked! This has made my workday commutes downright pleasurable. It's a little more money than I would have thought I'd spend ... $15 a month with a credit for a "free" book (so you're buying a book a month). I like it so much though that it's worth it. I recently purchased three extra credits for $33 because I'm going through them so fast.

In the past three months I've also listened to:
  • Trading Up by Candace Bushnell - This is the author behind Sex and the City. Light read / okay. I thought it ended abruptly.
  • The Knockoff by Katherine Kellgren - Light read / okay. A lot like The Devil Wears Prada.
  • The Accidental Empress by Alison Pataki - I love history and light romance, but it was my fascination with royals that caught my attention. This was on some summer reading lists I had perused via the inter web (blogs, etc.) so into my queue it went. Awesome! Great story, character development and well read. I walked the dog around the lake three extra times one day because I couldn't "put it down". 
  • Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll - Awesome! This one kept popping up as a recommendation and was also on summer reading lists. I went for it because it was read by the same person who did The Accidental Empress. It did not disappoint. Very Gone Girl-esque.
  • Bossypants by Tina Fey - I'm reading this now and laugh aloud constantly. My only comment is Tina tends to trail off at the end of her sentences ... speak up Tina, I'm deaf and don't want to rewind!
On my wish list:
  • The Traitor' s Wife by Alison Pataki - A fictionalized history of Benedict Arnold's wife
  • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins - I don't know what this is about, but it seems to be on everyone's summer reading list and it's a bestseller
  • Yes Please by Amy Poehler - I have a thing for funny girls
  • Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut by Jill Kargman - I like her TV show Odd Mom Out - quirky and a little dark. Fun fact - her brother is married to Drew Barrymore!
  • A Fine Romance by Candice Bergen - What can I say, I like memoirs
  • Watch Me by Angelica Huston 
  • The Book of Joan by Melissa Rivers
  • The Children Act by Ian McEwan - I have no idea what it's about, but it keeps popping up on lists I peruse so I better see what all the fuss is about
  • Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek - I'm also a sucker for leadership/inspirational books and I am a behavioral scientist at heart ... I love to explore why people do what they do.
  • More -- The Power of Habit, Good to Great, Nudge, The Tipping Point, Daring Greatly
I have another road trip coming up so I had better start planning ... nerd looking for a 9ish hour good "read".

July 19, 2015

Summer Playlist

I've been working on the ultimate summer playlist (in my humble opinion any way). Here's what I have so far:

California Girls by The Beach Boys
Hot Fun in the Summertime by Sly & The Family Stone
Summer Breeze by Seals & Crofts
Never Going Back Again by Fleetwood Mac
Saturday in the Park by Chicago
Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks
Suddenly Last Summer by The Motels
Cruel Summer by Bananarama
Take My Breath Away by Berlin
Borderline by Madonna
Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves
Mad About You by Belinda Carlisle
This is the Day by The The
Music by Madonna
Hot in Herre by Nelly
I'll be Here Awhile by 311
Rich Girl by Gwen Stefani
Island in the Sun by Weezer
Bubble Toes by Jack Johnson
I'm Yours by Jason Mraz
Crazy in Love by Beyoncé
Just Dance by Lady Gaga
Get Lucky by Daft Punk
Fancy by Iggy Azalea

New this summer:
Want to Want Me by Jason Derulo
Lean On by Major Lazer /MO
Ship to Wreck by Florence + The Machine

July 12, 2015

Iconic Wedding Dresses

Love the sketches so you can really appreciate the dress regardless of who wore it. My faves are Jackie Kennedy (1953), Grace Kelly (1956), Caroline Kennedy (1986), Jenna Bush (2008), Ivanka Trump (2009) and of course Kate Middleton (2011).

July 11, 2015

Just Beachy

I fully intended to blog about my girls trip to Madeira Beach, Florida ... over a month ago now. But honestly, I was so darned relaxed and refreshed afterward that I never got around to it.

I hadn't vacationed in Florida before aside from Disney World or as a jumping off point for a cruise. I wasn't sure what to expect and worried that I might get bored. I'm happy to report that I was anything but bored. We visited Tarpon Springs ... so many sponges, so little time. We took a dolphin watching cruise with bonus narration about the surrounding million dollar plus homes. We also found time to do a fair amount of shopping - outlet and kitschy variety. Most importantly we soaked up the sun and walked for miles on the beach and enjoyed one another's company. It was awesome.
Click for Options

July 5, 2015

Jolly Green

The 4th of July has come and gone and we've enjoyed it as any other long weekend - laying low in my happy place, the kitchen. I've been busy the last couple of weeks  ... especially using the deliciou green vegetables from the crop share arrangement I joined this year. Strawberry Lemon Bread when the last of a box of strawberries started looking sad, Rhubarb Cake (forgot the baking powder but it still turned out great), Kale Pesto with my first weeks' CSA bounty, and Chicken Stir Fry (zucchini, kale, snap peas and broccoli from CSA). Yesterday I made mayo free Tuna Salad in Romaine boats (my secret ingredients are Italian dressing, anchovy paste and green pepper Tabasco), Kale & Bacon Frittata for quick work day breakfasts, Parsley-Cilantro Chimichurri for steaks we're grilling later this week, and Strawberries & Cream Scones with more sad strawberries (I added basil and topped with demerara sugar to send them over the top). For dinner tonight I made Roasted Broccoli with pine nuts & parmesan, and a Salad with a delicious dressing of lemon juice, half & half and olive oil.

I've busy outdoors too ... gardening. My mom came to help me landscape the backyard. Our back neighbor put up a beautiful wood fence but the area needed texture and color to provide visual interest.

There's over 40 plants back there but the hydrangeas were the largest at planting and have grown like crazy in 6 weeks.

I'm looking forward to my own radishes, lettuce and arugula.
And in the front ... my peonies bloomed for the first time since I planted them three years ago!

June 19, 2015

Ad Mash Up

This is the most clever mash up of two pop culture TV shows! LOVE the drink references too. This company renovates/refurbishes vintage (Mad Men era) furniture. There has to be some sort of award for this.

June 12, 2015

Happy Dance

It's Friday and the weather is gorgeous!

June 5, 2015

On My Mind Lately

Is it Donut or Doughnut?!

I am tempted to stop at my favorite cupcake shop which has Simpson's Duff Beer Donut Cupcakes for today only, but I just can't rationalize fighting the already late Friday afternoon going-to-the-cabin traffic plus cupcake line to do it.

It's unoffically summer! Yesterday was my baby's last day of his first year of high school :( I reminded Chunky of that all week as I dropped him off ... it's the first day of the last week of your first year of high school ... and he was pretty ready for me to be done with that on day two. I know now how quickly time passes - seems like just yesterday was the last day of Sassy's first year of high school, yet it's already been six years. 6 YEARS! Stop and rewind please. While I love the independence that comes with my kids' getting older, I miss the excitement for little things and actually wanting to spend time with me. sigh, I need a donut

I finished my proposal class and the actual proposal EARLY on May 20th. I'm pretty damn proud of myself as it was a *beech* to get through. Now I just have to wait for approval, conduct my research (interviews), write up my findings, make a presentation and take a final class to graduate in December. Piece of cake donut.

Speaking of school, some of these senior quotes are pretty funny.

American Pharoah
Tomorrow is the Belmont Stakes, the last race in the Triple Crown, and this horse is poised to be the first in 37 years to take the Crown. BTW, the correct spelling is Pharaoh but obviously people take liberties with names (I'm looking at you Keira Knightley's parents).

It's been raining a lot here in the arctic. I miss the sun and beach from my vacation last week (separate post on that), but I do not miss the humidity - not great for good hair days. The rain however is good for my plants and so I am thankful.

I was raised with a specific religious faith and I've raised my kids the same, but I've fallen away in recent years. I tend to align with Spinozism - God is nature and we live, die and are recycled in the universe. I still feel dissonance however. This story by my favorite TV fixer uppers was inspirational. One of my favorite bloggers has just released a bible study so I'm considering it to see if I can connect on a deeper level with the roots of my Christian upbringing.

That's all folks. Make it a great first Friday of the 6th month of the year 2015!

March 31, 2015

No Foolin'

I turned in the first draft of my research proposal four days ago (last Friday). I sat at the school library for seven and a half hours until I got it done. Well not all done, but as done as I could without going blind - went home and cooked dinner for my peeps then put on the finishing touches. Whew that felt good but I was concerned that it wasn't good enough - I really lost steam towards the end. I got feedback today and you could have knocked me over with a feather. "Bravo!" to quote the instructor. I was so shocked - thank goodness it's not April Fool's Day! I might make it through this afterall.
My research will focus on effective ways that leaders learn abut the organization they are transitioning to from their employees. I really wanted to address how new leaders "fit" into a new company and believe there is a significant gap in engaging direct reports to learn about the organizational culture. 
Here's a piece of my proposal intro -

I recall sitting with two executives with whom I was having a finalist interview several years ago. Though I was willing to leave a company and people I loved for a growth opportunity, it was important for me to assess how I would fit in at the new company. I asked the executives to describe their organization’s culture. One said ‘dynamic’ and the other nodded emphatically in agreement. My interpretation of the term was positive, that the company must be progressive and I was in the market for something new. I made the move and reflecting on my tenure with that company, I would definitely call it dynamic. In nine years I experienced six bosses, five job titles, three chief executive officers and associated executive level changes, as well as countless restructuring and mid-level personnel adjustments. It was a culture of constant change with a revolving door of new leaders at every level. And quite honestly I never felt like I fit in.

March 30, 2015

Tale of Two Salads

I have been on a quest for easy to prepare, great tasting 21-day fix approved meals. I scored with these three. The first two are different versions of a shrimp avocado salad and the third is a fruit salad.

Both shrimp salads have shrimp (obvs), avocado, olive oil, red onion and cilantro, but then things get interesting. I like them both equally though nothing compares to the amazing shrimp salad I had in San Diego two months ago (seemingly bottomless bowl for $8).

Zesty Lime Shrimp Salad
This one uses lime for acidity and jalapenos for spice (I use jarred). Tomatoes and cilantro are also in the mix.

Shrimp Avocado Salad 
This one uses red wine vinegar for acidity and Dijon mustard plus garlic powder for zip. Parsley is listed but I use cilantro.

Tropical Fruit Salad
I have this fruit salad almost every morning and it's delish! I think it tastes like Hawaii. Mind you I've never been to Hawaii, but this is how I imagine it tastes.

Banana - I use half in my protein shake* and the other half here
Papaya - I cut one up on Sunday, store in container and take a scoop equal to half the banana
Pineapple - I use store bought chunks (SO EASY), scoop equal to banana / papaya
Lime Juice & Zest - I zest and juice a lime on Sunday, store in container and drop about 2 tsp in
Shredded Coconut - put the lime in the coconut ...
Sliced Almonds - this puts it over the top

Shake, marinate 10-30 minutes and enjoy!

* My favorite shake recipes (chocolate of course):
  • 1 scoop + 1 cup almond milk + ice + banana + honey
  • 1 scoop + 1 cup almond milk + ice + banana + natural peanut butter
  • 1 scoop + 1 cup almond milk + ice + maple syrup + pecans

March 13, 2015

Fix Follow Up

So how am I doing on the 21 day Fix program? Not bad if I do say so myself. My green intake is light - I definitely need more veggies - but I'm impressed with my choices. I decided to be honest and track my vices as well (damn Girl Scoot cookies!).

Containers p/day53541
Workout--DanceUpper FixPiYo
Breakfast1/2 shake coffee fruit salad coconutshake coffee fruit salad coconutshake coffee fruit salad (2) coconutshake coffee bananashake coffee fruit salad coconut
Snacknutsnutsnuts bananayogurt granola
Lunchchicken veggie medley (3) eggs sesame seedschicken raspberries eggspeppers hummmus cauliflowercukes hummus cauliflower
Snack3 clems2 clems2 clemsskinny pop
Dinnerchicken (2) rice (2)nuggets chicken friesturkey corn tomatoes blk beanssweet potatoes chicken rice
L 1 pc Dove choccookies + 1 pc Dove choc

I plan to walk the dog this weekend since summer arrived early in the arctic and I have a date with my treadmill every Sunday while watching one of my new fave shows - Madam Secretary.

One will not go hungry on this program - I ate so much on Wednesday that I thought I would explode (and no cheats that day!). Here's the color code breakdown for my daily calorie intake based on current weight:
51 ¼ cupVeggies
31 ¼ cupFruits
5¾ cupProteins
4½ cupCarbs
1¼ cupNuts, cheese, avocado, hummus
12 TbSeeds
5 tOils/Butters

February 28, 2015


I interrupt binge watching House of Cards season 3 to share with you something very important. I have found the best foundation EVER! On a whim and a recommendation from Kate at The Small Things Blog, I purchased this set and OMG the 'foundcealer' is the most amazing thing on the planet EVER! I have shared here my disdain for foundations that are cake-y and don't match my arctic skin tone, but this does! I don't even match their lightest shade, rather I am Light which makes me feel more normal rather than a freak of nature with odd skin coloring wearing a mask of foundation. It goes on like a dream with great coverage (veins and random tiny red splotches are nowhere to be found) and my skin feels like skin with nothing on it. It even wears well through my 21 Day Fix workout. All the other items in the set are nice too, but the foundcealer is a game changer for me.

This has been a very important public service announcement. You're welcome. Carry on.

February 17, 2015

Today's Sermon

I'm going deep today so if that's not your thing, stop now.

I am troubled by current world events and when I feel powerless to control what's going on I know it's time to get better informed. I recently came across this WSJ article and found it very compelling so thought I'd share. My grad school ethics professor says it's important to live in the questions in order to live in the answers. DEEP. I'm letting the following statements from the article marinate slowly and deeply -

"To understand hate, it is crucial to examine the hater, not the hated."

"To be free, you have to let go of hate. You have to stop seeing yourself as a victim—or else you will succeed only in making more victims."


February 13, 2015

Inquiring Minds

The most common job in every state ... this blew my socks off.

And yes, the 90's were pretty awesome, but the 80's rule my friends!

February 10, 2015

Fit Club

Because this is the year of my 30th high school reunion, I'm only two years from turning 50, I hope to complete grad school in December and it finally dawned on me that I'm not getting any younger, I decided this was the year for some changes. And being ready to change is half the battle. So when a coworker shared that she was starting a Fit Club at work I said "sign me up". She hosts a 30 minute workout two to three times a week in a large conference room. The program is 21 Day Fix and it kicks my booty. We're only three weeks in (I'm missing today due to snow day so working from home), but I definitely feel a difference. I love to hate Autumn Calabrese ... she is impossibly gorgeous/fit, says annoying things like "you can do anything for 60 seconds" and sometimes it's like she's in my head when I want to quit which is uber annoying. I've also been taking the stairs more - my new office is on the third floor so I figure I can easily walk up/down two flights of stairs twice a day. I was so grateful for yoga last Friday after two sessions of squats that I almost cried. And now the thing is I don't want to ruin my hard work with poor food choices. I haven't completely given up snacking or my ultimate vice, chocolate, but I find myself making deals with myself to only eat two or half of something, or drink a glass of water (flavored of course because plain water is so ew) and if I still want it in an hour then I can have it ... sometimes I forget because hello I'm old. I'm hoping to add a few treadmill sessions per week, but I'm back in grad school so lots of reading/writing at the moment. AND Lord willing I'll start walking the dog when the weather warms up (I had to type that very softly lest Abbie start flipping out and expect a you-know-what NOW).

January 28, 2015

Sharing is Caring

Soups tend to be my go-to supper to ward off the arctic chill. My family raves about my Taco Soup (adapted from Penzeys) so here you are:

Brown 1 lb ground beef or turkey then sprinkle in 1-3 tsp taco seasoning to taste (I use half packet and save the other half for next time). Add 1 can black beans, 1 can corn kernels, 1 can diced tomatoes and 1 jar salsa with desired heat level (mild for my peoples' wimpy palettes). I add water and beef bouillon, or prepared beef stock if on hand, to give desired soup consistency. Simmer for 20 minutes. Serve with cheese, sour cream and chips. Delicious and "soup"er easy! You could add chiles or other veggies too. This van also be made vegetarian without meat, double or triple the beans and vegetable stock.

If you're not watching House of Cards, drop everything NOW and watch it! Season 3 starts in less than a month.

I recently returned from a trip to San Diego / Coronado, California and loved every second of the beach, sun, history, beach, fresh seafood, beautiful sunsets and the beach.

Day 1 - arrival, lunch, sunset at The Del and the best shrimp cocktail I've ever had at Miguel's outdoor dining patio
Day 2 - whale / dolphin watching (I saw both!), exciting history lessons (second largest Navy base in U.S.) from former CIA operative (a spy!), saw the USS Midway (retired), the USS Ronald Reagan (active and docked while undergoing refurbish) and Navy Seals going out for sea exercises, chased the sunset down "The Strand" and dinner at Imperial Beach
Day 3 - Historic Balboa Park (I climbed the California Tower which was only open due to 100 year anniversary of Panama Canal opening), a massage and steak dinner
Day 4 - Enlightening presentation by THE Richard Dreyfuss on the importance of American Civics in elementary education (he has an official initiative), lunch in La Jolla, quality beach time, and dinner at the oldest restaurant in Old Town
Day 5 - 2 hour beach walk, tour of Point Loma, fish tacos at the pier and departure

You should totally go!