Friday, October 21, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

I'm off today so I spent the first hour of the morning curled up with my book, one cat or another and a coffee with more cream than usual. Nothing makes me happier.

Jane Hamilton. The last of her works I read was Map of the World many years ago. I had The Excellent Lombards on my library list and it came in the other day. It's just right as its set on an apple orchard in Wisconsin. She's truly a master storyteller.

It's a crisp, sunny late October day and I just may end up at the orchard to pick more apples if I read a few more pages. 

Celebrating twenty-one years of marriage today. He is the best partner in every way. I am blessed and looking forward to many more years of togetherness through thick and thin. It sort of snuck up on me this year, but that's ok because I don't need a big celebration...I just need him by my side everyday.

Everything about this capture...the broody sky, the geese in skein, the peace and solitude. 

Spending time with this girl in the kitchen. She comes from a long line of passionate home cooks. She's not afraid to try something new or get her hands dirty.

Pie. It's funny how no one in my family is a pie person, and yet I was quite proud of this beaut and it was eaten up by mid-week despite the fact the ice cream disappeared.

Brioche. It really makes the most decadent French toast. Also the blueberries I scored this week at the market. They were as big as your head and bursting with flavor.

Being able to send Teddy off with a good breakfast for another round of golf. He's off today too, and he's hitting the links for the sixth consecutive day. He's played after school every day this week. It keeps him out of trouble.

His passion. Whatever he's doing he's all in whether it's running or baseball or golf. 

Conferences. We connected with Teddy's teachers last night, and they all speak highly of him as a student and person. I have such respect for what they do and the impact they can have on their learners.

Lily was invited to play on the A team next year. We're looking forward to a more competitive season.

Peanut's perch.

Lily's is back in her room and it is coming together nicely. We're working on the finishing touches now, which is to say...the fun part.

She has plans to "hang out" after school. It's a Friday afternoon thing. A group of friends walks from school to some establishment and they do what 12-13 year olds do...drink overpriced, over sugared frappuccinos and take silly selfies.

Fall cleaning. I get more serious about it than spring cleaning and I think it's because I'm in more of a nesting mode as the cooler temps set in.

A free and clear afternoon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


it was pretty much the perfect weekend.
perfect because it was filled to the brim with our favorite things.
things like family and friends...races and and and entertaining.
you get the gist.
the scales were tipped in favor of enjoyment and that is what weekends are all about.
unfortunately, mike spent a fair amount of time painting lily's room and that isn't really his idea of fun.
the thing is he's doing it for her, and she is most appreciative and excited.
i so love the spa blue that reminds me of the sea and the sky that i've teased her about moving in myself and ribbed him about painting the master ceiling that same shade.
he says no and not just because he's over manual labor.
jess stopped by on a whim for a sneak peak and ended up staying for pizza and wine.
i love friends who know they are always welcome, carbs and grapes.

 it's also peanut approved.

saturday we were up early for ted's last cross country race of the season.
the course was hilly and challenging.
it was tough for the team...ted included.
he took third on his team.
he likes to take second, and would love to come in first.
next year perhaps.
now we're onto baseball (training) and getting a job.

team spirit

lining up
and they're off

 ted's at the head of the nicolet pack

 after the first hill, he falls back to second for his team and third overall

in a sea of blue

after the race...he's smiling because it's over, we're smiling because he's ours and we're proud

after the meet, ted went to lunch with the team and then to play football with friends.
the life of ted is a splendid thing.
mike got back at painting.
lily and i went shopping for her room and then made a detour first to the apple orchard and second to the pumpkin patch.
we filled a bushel with cortlands and our favorite yellow golds.
we piled a wagon full of fat pumpkins for carving.
then we came home with just enough time to make treats for our neighbor's badger party that evening.


we were lucky to find so many trees still full of fruit

 caprese, pizza, and proscuitto, brie and fig homemades for game time

snicker doodle chef at work

ted talked his way out of sunday school in order to golf with his grandpa and his uncle.
remember snow and job coming soon.
mike got back to painting again, but he would have much preferred to golf.
thanks love.
lily went to sunday school and i went shopping again.
this time for sunday night family dinner with my brother and sister-in-law.
lily played her last softball game of the season on the beautiful afternoon.

ready at first 

getting on the bag to make a play


she and i came home and got busy in the kitchen again.
our carefully planned menu went like this: herbs du provence grilled chops, homemade parmesan and basil gnocchi, cider braised brussels sprouts with bacon and lilys made with love applesauce. 
triple berry pie with vanilla bean ice-cream was for dessert breakfast.

blueberry, raspberry, blackberry perfection.

my first lattice top...had to consult mike the painter for assistance

next time i'll add twice as much turbinado sugar

farmer's market beauts

gnocching...they are putzy. 

she was the gnocchi master, but truth be told it was a family affair getting these cuties from pan to table. not sure there will be a repeat performance any time soon.

we gathered around the table for snacks, games (a competitive spelling bee this night) and then dinner.
every one of us lamented that the weekend wasn't longer.
yet each of us gave thanks for the blessings before us and the week ahead of us.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

The weekend forecast. It's going to be like summer here for a stretch.

Fall colors. They're intense and everywhere.

Mike and all his hard work around the house this past week. He shampooed every inch of carpet in the house and now he's painting Lily's room.

Lily's new room. This is the rug we picked out and the walls are the perfect spa blue. The yellow she had, which I selected when we moved in this house 11 years ago, was electric so we're taking it down a notch. Peanut approves, and Lily cannot wait to move back in.

The love this guy has for his girl. He just wants to be near her. It's sweet. 

If she's late to breakfast, Peanut helps himself. He likes bacon and Trader Joe's almond croissants. 

Doing the hard work of packing away and purging. Lily's room has been mostly the same since we moved in. Well, we got rid of the baby furniture, but her shelves were still loaded with picture books and her chest was filled with stuffed animals. She's ready to move on. Me not so much so I loaded up some storage bins and hauled them to the basement where they'll wait until I find a recipient or have grandchildren some day in the faraway future.

Truth and acceptance. Honesty. There's some heavy stuff going on in my extended family. It involves terminal illness and the dismantling of a house. I have certain feelings about the way people are being treated and they aren't positive. Usually, I keep a lid on it for the sake of keeping the peace, but this week I had to be blunt. In turn, this experience has made me even more grateful for the thoughtful, peaceful way my brother and I behaved during an emotionally draining time. Sickness and death aren't convenient. Going through a lifetime of belongings isn't easy but it's just stuff, yet I love seeing my mom's painting on Candace's wall when I visit. It makes me happy to sit at her dining room table at my Dad's house. It brings me joy to think of her closest friends hanging an ornament from her tree on their's every year. So yeah...stuff, but important stuff because it connects us to memories.

Hope for healing.

This outtake. This is his hurry up and take the picture face. He sorta shuns photos these days. In the rare event that I get one, I'm usually forbidden from posting it on Instagram. He didn't say anything about my blog though so I'm taking that as permission. I wasn't sure about the red pants, but he looked so handsome.

She still happily poses for pictures even at 7:20 a.m.

Broody skies. 

Friday happy hour.

Kitchen inspiration thanks to a change in seasons and new cookbooks. Yet here are some old favorites that I assure you taste much better than they look. Ina's Company Pot Roast is a star because of that veggie gravy. And what's not to love about a one dish Garlic Lemon Chicken with Green Beans and Baby Potatoes?

King of the mattress. Tigger knocked it down and then taunted Peanut who was circling. The games likely continued long after I left for work.

A pretty chill couple days ahead.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

October Inventory


I spent a great deal of time on beaches this summer, and yet I didn't read as much as I hoped. So often I'd be lured by the world before me from the book in front of me and that's OK. I am gearing up for the final months of 2016 and plan to get through a stack of well recommended titles. These are the summer reads I can remember:

The Passenger and yet I scarcely remember this, but I gave it a 3 1/2 in my journal. I think it was a quick thriller just right for passing time, but also forgettable.

Picnic in Provence I gave this a 4-4 1/2. It was a happy memoir that transported me to the French countryside and inspired me to religiously shop farmer's markets all summer long and to try some new and delicious things in my kitchen. I want to read Lunch in Paris some day. Maybe next summer.

The Girls I almost skipped this after reading reviews, but then I was lured in by the cover. I ended up liking the novel more than I expected, but it was haunting and uncomfortable for me as the mother of a daughter not much younger than the narrator. I gave it a 4.

Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty started out so strong and then midway it just got strange. It felt like two different novels by two different authors, and that I didn't appreciate. I couldn't give it any more than a 3-3 1/2 out of 5.

Leaving Lucy Pear was well developed and told. I especially liked the female characters, but I was left wanting more from their sorority and that's why I only gave it a 4.

Sweetbitter was a quick and entertaining read, but the characters were contrived and thus the story was predictable. It kept my attention though so it scored a 4.

When Breath Becomes Air finally. I'd tucked this away and decided to take it on the week between my mom's birthday and her death because I'm a glutton for punishment. After reading an excerpt last year in the NYT Magazine, I expected the book to be more philosophical than practical so I was surprised when it was more an accounting of his medical training than a discourse on his life and death. It was still a 4 and a worthy read.

Patient H.M. is on my night stand. I'm about halfway through and 90 percent certain I'm through. I'm giving up because this is not so much a story of Henry as it is a history of brain surgery. It's too technical, it's boring and it's giving me a major head ache every time I read it. It's also beyond dark and sad.

How to Celebrate Everything is a cookbook, but I'm reading it from cover to cover and resisting the urge to head to my kitchen and start cooking every time I read a few pages. This is another treasure trove of tried and true recipes, but I'm loving Jenny's stories just as much and I'm wondering why I didn't write this when I had nearly the exact same idea years ago.

Small Victories another cookbook and another great collection. There are so many fun riffs on old favorites that I feel like cooking my way through this one as well.

Blue Horses another beautiful book of Mary Oliver inspiration ala poetry. 

Wondering if it will rain every time I have plans to head to the apple orchard. Two Wednesdays in a row were washouts and I'm starting to get a complex.

Hoping we get Lily's room painted and put back together before the end of the weekend and that she loves her room redo.

Watching Designated Survivor as a family, Secrets and Lies with Lily and Narcos with Mike. I'm still tuning into DWTS and Survivor too. I'm rooting for Marilu Henner because I know my mom would have and definitely the Gen Xers because millennials not so much. Watch this and tell me it's not hilarious. Two decent movies. Paper Towns over the weekend and Girl on a Train the other night. I took Lily and some friends to see Miss Peregrine so I dragged Mike along and we had our own movie date. I read Girl on a Train last year, but I liked the movie better than the book and that almost never happens. Mike liked it too.

Listening to my fall music. That's Grover Washington Jr., George Winston, Vince Guaraldi, Cat Stevens and Rickie Lee Jones. Well, always RLJ.

Eating like it's fall. Last night it was Ina's Company Pot Roast even though there was no company. When Ted walked in the door at the end of the rainy, grey Wednesday, he was pleased with the aromas and he let me know. That's music to my ears. The picture below is Whole30 chili and it's another family favorite. The scant shreds of cheese and the dollop of sour cream are not Whole30 compliant, which leads me to the confession that we are bending some of the edicts. It's OK though because all things in moderation is true healthy eating and that is the goal.

Wanting a candidate I can truly feel good voting for, cooler heads to prevail, not to be confused about whether SNL is comedy or reality every week.

Thinking that America may never be great again.

Enjoying the sublime fall we've been having, 150+ days of 60 degrees or higher, white pumpkins and tiger pumpkins, bouquets of multi-colored mums, and apple everything. Also lazy weekends at home, lakefront walks with my husband, curling up at the end of the day with a cat and a book, plans...lots of plans for the house, for the holidays, for writing.

Loving this passage from When Breath Becomes Air even though I believe very much in the wisdom of children and the old, and the importance of living in the moment

I don't believe in the wisdom of children nor in the wisdom of the old. There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


i'm sitting here trying to find the words to sum up the weekend.
i'm at a loss.
it seems a bit pointless to prattle on about the things we did, the weather, the fun.
pointless in light of the things weighing on my mind and heart...
family stuff, friend stuff, political shit.
but maybe that's exactly why i come share the good parts.
they are evidence.
evidence of joy and hope and sanctity.
this is my testimony...

teddy got a pr in his last conference meet of the season, played golf both saturday and sunday, and had a blast before, during and after homecoming with a group of friends..
both the kids attended the homecoming festivities on a beautiful friday night, and they even said hi to one another in public.
mike took lily to the mall so i could take a nap and she could indulge her bath and body works and combat boot desires.
both their sunday school teachers brought delicious pastries for class and while they gorged, mike and i walked along the lakefront enjoying the sublime sunday morning and the showy sky.
saturday night it was chinese delivery and paper towns.
sunday night was mexican take out and the packers.
lily's team won their soft ball game.
not sure who won the debate, but i'm quite sure it's not the american people.
and yet here is proof that life is full of goodness and grace.