Saturday, December 15, 2012


I do not believe in evil people; I believe in broken people. Some are more broken than others.

We are all trying so hard to understand why, to find a person or practice to blame, to identify preventative measures. These are valid inquiries. But lets start with kindness, compassion, and love. Not just for the victims and their families. But for everyone whose lives we touch.

A kind word, a willingness to listen, acceptance, understanding, a smile. These small things could not likely have prevented the recent tragic events. But our every interaction has the potential to help heal - or deepen wounds.

And lets face it, we are all a little broken. We all have our challenges and struggles. And we are all in this together.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Stationery card
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Friday, October 26, 2012

Color Walk

Every year our family makes the arduous drive to Oak Openings for our annual fall color walk.  OK, well it only really takes a few minutes to get there, but I've never used the word arduous in a sentence, so I couldn't resist!

It was lovely!  Everyone came - even Scout (no one is too cool or too busy for it yet - phew!).  No electronic distractions, just family and nature.  We missed the cacophony of colors from a few weeks ago, but loved the carpet of brown and yellow leaves crunching under foot.  We always wander off into the woods a bit and traverse the corner of pond.  Everyone took a turn with the camera.  Here a few of the pictures . . .

Monday, October 22, 2012

Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” - Neale Donald Walsch

It is easy to hide behind your fears. To settle for the easy and comfortable life. And often, that is exactly what I do. But when I listen to the yearnings of my soul, when I face my fears, and dare to be more - that is when I am really living. You are extraordinary too – let loose that fabulous beast within – follow whims, chase dreams, and above all . . . enjoy the ride!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chicken Meltdown

This post will answer the age old question . . . What are the dangers involved in overzealous use of a meat tenderizer?

There are the obvious ones . . .
  • smashed thumbs 
  • smashed counters
  • loud noises that scare the crap out of the dog (literally)
Well, none of those really happened to me, but excessive meat pounding will result in chicken breasts flattened out soooooo large that only one will fit in a pan at a time. Of course this will result in a ridiculous amount of time standing over the stove.  And therefore . . .
  • you will get burned by splattering oil at some point.
  • your family will be grumpy because dinner prep will take forever and they will be starving
  • you will be so sick of cooking that you may never do so again
  • AND, you will melt the salt and garlic containers until they bow (see pic - I thought that was pretty impressively pathetic).

Friday, June 29, 2012

My First CSA

Sadly, I did not get a picture of my first CSA take – it was a crazy day and I had a party to throw. Here, however, are a few highlights . . .

The Party

 The Cousins

The Kale (I was so worried about the kale, but everyone seemed to like it!)

The popcorn – so fun to pop on the cob and the cousins declared it the best popcorn ever.

The Radishes (in a mango salsa)
The Eggs (can you guess which is store bought and which is CSA?)
The End!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Marko's Birthday Book

Shutterfly photo books offer a variety of layouts and cover options to choose from.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Break

Ah, spring break! Sunshine, Beaches, Mai-Tai's . . . Oh, wait , we don't go south for break. We go north, where it is colder. But I'm not complaining! We had a lovely time visiting the fams in northern Wisconsin. A road trip does, however, throw a few kinks into the training plan and there are only 191 days till the Chicago Marathon. On Friday, I traded in a workout for the organized chaos of packing. And rather than a Saturday long run, I went for a butt atrophying snack infused car ride for seven hours. Running up north presents it's own problems. The road side slant makes me feel like a peg legged pirate running on a fun-house floor. I am, however, pretty speedy up there (darn if those chipmunks don't sound like bears when you are running alone!). But no runs this time. And to make matters worse, I was presented with (gasp!) Oreos. And I did cave. It wasn't pretty.

I did, however, get in a couple of lovely bike rides with my darling sister Bert. I love biking up north! Compared to here, it is like biking the Himalayas (they are actually just rolling hills, but lets stick with the Himalayas story). And of course it is gorgeous up there!  On the first ride, we were joined by my sisters lovely friend Kristen. Kristen has changed my life. OK, that is a little dramatic, but she did change the way I make pizza. She sent me a pizza crust recipe with an amazing secret ingredient: cauliflower - no lie! I made it tonight. No one even noticed the secret ingredient (and I'm for sure not telling them – thankfully they are among the millions that don't read my blog). This will be Bert's first year doing a CSA too, so on our second ride, we biked out to the farm to check things out.  In addition to veggies and eggs, they had chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, wool, a cafe, and soon they will have some hydro-fisho-thing-a-ma-bob that will allow them to grow veggies in the winter.  AND, this summer, they will have a creamery and will be serving goat milk gelato (a summer must try me thinks)!

But the best thing about a trip up north is family. Here are some pictures from our adventures (albeit not very good ones – you will just have to trust me that we had a lot of fun).

Shockingly, this is not the worst picture I took.

Not sure what is going on here . . .

The flamingo sisters.
The happiest fighters ever.
Teague and his cheese stick.
What is with these people? (no nonsense Mike)
Uh . . . No idea about this one.

Scout and Kuzzy
Kuzzy and Daria
Dog Butts!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Night's Storm

Hello darlings! I've been thinking about Emma all day today. Emma is one of my alter-ego's. She is my most spiritual, ethereal, artsy side. She is in love with life and in love with beauty. She see's the good in everyone.  She is also suppose to be in charge of keeping the house lovely.  This frequently involves laundry and cleaning the kitchen, but despite having a particularly Emma day, I am behind on both (again).  Emma would much rather write in her journal, flip through a magazine, or toy with a poem.  I was feeling bad that Emma is so under-represented on the blog, so I'm posting a poem she wrote in March of last year (my apologies to anyone who was hoping for rhymes – it has none).   I do think it touches a little upon why I'm blogging . . .

by Emma (aka Marlene)

The night's storm has slowed to a gentle trickle
Its energy spent in bright bursts and loud claps

My own storm has gathered while I sleep
Potent clouds darkened by whirlwind thoughts

I roll out of bed to find paper and pen
And the storm unleashes upon the page

Finally, spent, it dulls to a drowsy patter
Emptied, Exhausted, I return to my bed

Sunday, March 18, 2012

MANual Entries: Agreeable Disagreements

Whenever I'm tempted to lecture the boys, I start a new "MANual" section.  They don't want to be lectured anyway.   

The MANual” is a guidebook, written with love, to help my boys become the fabulous men that they are destined to be.   It is a work in progress.  My boys roll their eyes at me, but if they didn't, it would mean I'm not doing my job right.

March 5th: WIN-WIN

4th of July 2011
I don't mind arguing with myself. It's when I lose that it bothers me.
-Richard Powers

  • Losing sucks!
  • Winning is good! But at what cost? What if the relationship with your opponent is important to you.
  • Sometimes there is a solution that is better than winning. Look for a way that both parties can leave the argument happy. Maybe it will be a compromise. Maybe you will agree to disagree. Or maybe you will find a solution that is better than you ever imagined.

Halloween 2011

When I'm getting ready to reason with a man,
I spend one-third of my time thinking about myself and what I am going to say
-- and two-thirds thinking about him and what he is going to say.
-Abraham Lincoln

Make an effort to understand your opponent. Really listen and try to understand their point of view. Find some common ground. Find a way to validate something he or she said. If they feel like they have been heard, they are more likely to hear your side.

Crazy Folks!

If you want to win an argument, treat your opponent with respect . . .
  • Do you like to be interrupted? Then don't interrupt.
  • Do you listen to crazy hysterical people? Then try not to sound (or look ) like a crazy hysterical person.
  • Do you like it when people insult you or your opinions? Then don't them or theirs.

A deep thinker

Truth springs from argument amongst friends.
David Hume

Now, this section might not be necessary for a regular boy, but you are no regular boy. You are an incredibly intelligent boy and you know it. That is the problem! You do not realize that you can continue to grow in your fabulousness and knowledge. Keep an open mind, and you may learn from your opponent and come to an even deeper understanding of the issue.

March 9th: WHY ARGUE?

It's “affect” not “effect” you idiot! (Scout and Cuzzy)

Arguments over grammar and style are often as fierce as those over IBM versus Mac, and as fruitless as Coke versus Pepsi and boxers versus briefs.
-Jack Lynch
Whenever two good people argue over principles, they are both right.
-Marie Ebner von Eschenbach

It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.
-William G. McAdoo
I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don't even invite me.
-Dave Barry

Chocolate Syrup Challenge

I know, I know – another Sophie's kitchen post.  But since I do need to feed the fams EVERY SINGLE DAY, I can't help that food is on my brain. Today we have the chocolate syrup challenge – store bought vs. homemade.

Here is your side by side comparison . . .
Home Made Chocolate Syrup Store Bought Chocolate Syrup
Sugar (1 2/3 cups)
Water (3/4 cup)
Unsweetened Cocoa (2/3 cup)
Milk (1/2 cup)
Vanilla (1 tsp)

(you just melt together the first four ingredients on the burner and then add the vanilla at the end)

Cost per oz: 6
(it was actually only 4, but I'll pad the cost because I may or may not be inclined to eat some while I make it)
High Fructose Corn Syrup
Corn Syrup
Potassium Sorbate (Preservative) (2% or less)
Salt (2% or less)
Mono- and Diglycerides (2% or less)
Xanthan Gum
Polysorbate 60
Artificial Flavor

Cost per oz: 10

We poured some in a glass of milk, because what really matters is the taste test.  Will he like it . . .

 Hmmmm . . .
It's good!
Why didn't we do this ages ago!
I declare it to be quite delectable . . .
So there you have it, home made was the hands down winner.  I was trying to think of what the drawbacks might be, but I could only think of two:  1) the time and effort to make it and 2) that I'd have to be conscious of when it was made and when it might go bad.  Out of curiosity, I looked at the date on the back of our store bought chocolate syrup – it was May 2010! EW! I think it is time to clean out the fridge . . .

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pie Day

Nut Crust Chocolate Coffee Chiffon Pie (Gluten Free) (I need a better name for this)

If only I hadn't gone to spinning yesterday, I'd have no idea that today is pie day (or rather pi day - you know 3.14 - March 14th). Why why why (shaking fist in the air) did pi day have to come up in spinning class? You are suppose to be spinning, not guilting me into making pie. Granted I'd have nothing to post about, but I'd also be caught up on laundry and would NOT have changed into stretchy pants (to make room for all of the pie filling I ate).  Anyway (grumble grumble grumble) Happy Pie Day (I've got to go clean the kitchen now) . . .

While I do that, you can peruse some pics from my adventure . . . 

Do you know how bloggers get those really cool pictures where amazingly delicious ingredients are pouring into the bowl.  I tried to get one of those pictures - I missed the bowl . . .
It would also appear that I need more practice separating eggs - I had to go through more than the recipe called for.  Oh well, I had an omelet for lunch.

The ingredients do look lovely here I think . . .

And finally, the recipe that I begged off of my mother in law yesterday (with minor modifications) . . .

Nut Crust
  • 2 c walnuts or pecans (chopped finely)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg white
  • 3 Tbls sugar
  • 2+ Tbls soft butter
Grind Nuts; Mix ingredients; press into lightly greased pie pan.  Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Chocolate Chiffon Pie Filling
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 2 squares unsweetened chocolate - grated (with the grater my mommy gave me - hi Mom!)
  • 1/2 cup hot double strength coffee
  • 3 eggs separated
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
Sprinkle gelatin over water to soften (5 min).  Melt chocolate into hot coffee.Stir gelatin into chocolate mixture till dissolved.  Beat egg yolks lightly and stir into chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of sugar, the salt and the vanilla.  I actually heated this mixture since I was not speedy enough for the eggs to get cooked by the hot coffee.  Set aside to cool.  Beat remaining 1/2 cup sugar with egg whites until stiff.  Fold into cooled chocolate mixture and then into the crust.  Chill till firm.

Happy Pie Day!!!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Freezer Jam

I should be working out.  I really, really should be working out, but it will have to wait.  This is too good not to share.  I . . . MADE . . . FREEZER . . . JAM!  I'm like Martha F$#^%ing Stewart!  I just can not get over myself.  And I can get no reaction out of my family (they claim they already knew I was awesome and Martha Stewart like even before I made freezer jam).  So, be excited and surprised for me.   Trust me, this is big!  So, here are a few pictures from my adventure.

As directed by the lovely folks at serious eats, I mashed myself up some fruit - gotta love strawberries!

I made a bit of a mess in the process . . . 
It was a little late, but I put on an apron . . .

I did make the mistake of adding the sugar before mixing it with pectin - oops.  And I made more mess (but no you did not see me licking the counter - that is a lie - although I did consider it - you can't beat sugar and strawberries) . . .
But look what I ended up with.  I'm very proud.  You can congratulate me now.  
Oh - I almost forgot - I got the adorable labels from PoppyTalk.   TTFN!!!!