Tuesday, October 17, 2017


it's like summer here again as i write this.
all the windows are open, i can hear the kids across the street playing in the yard and teddy went straight from school to the course.
this weekend sure felt like fall though and i reveled in it.
i mostly stayed close to home, in my comfies with a book in hand and cat in lap.
it's one of my happy places.
the other is my kitchen.
i spent a little time in there too.
i had to read glass castle for book club.
i read it years ago, and while it stayed with me more than i realized, i wanted to give it a reread.
sunday was the perfect fall day for a book club brunch.
it was a lovely gathering of good food, friends and thoughtful discussion.
mike and ted went to the college fair.
lily went on a date with grandpa.
he took her shopping and out for lunch.
she's a lucky lady.
so am i.
i felt it this weekend...
getting quality time with the people that matter most.
and speaking of which, saturday we had an adult's only dinner with my brother and sil.
we didn't get home until 1:30!
it was delicious fun after a lazy, rainy day.

1. pancetta, leek and gruyere quiche for the ladies.
2. i did just a little fall decorating.
3. my reading buddy.
4. pork chops for sunday dinner finished with a brown butter, garlic and sage sauce.
5. name that tune is a hit.
6. the last bagel we brought back from nyc. mike and i shared it for breakfast saturday. it was divine.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Saturday State of Mind

My alarm woke me up before dawn this morning. Yes, I set my alarm on a Saturday. Both kids had early morning plans. Teddy has his last cross country meet today so I wanted to make him a good before race breakfast. It's a perfectly gloomy day. Right now it's only raining leaves, but it's supposed to be a soaker. I feel a tad guilty for not attending to cheer him on, but it rained all night so it'll more than likely be a mudder. Lily left with her umbrella to explore Bay View with a friend. She's a proudly self-proclaimed city girl now.

I have my heart set on keeping dry in my house and watching the rain from my cozy perch with my coffee, my book and my cats. Grover Washington Jr. is setting the mood. He's one of my favorite rainy day artists. Right now I'm channeling my Grandpa Vic. When his heart was particularly full he would ask anyone and everyone, And I should complain?

Last week at this time we were on our way from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side on a summer-like day. It was a jam packed twelve hours of sight seeing and theater going, and it was good and exhausting. We were fully immersed in the New York State of Mind, and loving it.

This weekend came at just the right time, and the tone and tenor are exactly what I'm craving: peace, comfort and contentment. It's natural to want to nest after a trip and especially after visiting such a frenetic, crowded place, and that is where I'm at. Zero complaints here. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

A fantastic girl's trip with Lily. We traveled well together and made so many memories. She loved NYC, and I loved being a part of her first experience in this vibrant, pulsing, larger than life place. I have hundreds of pictures, dozens of stories, and a post about our mother and daughter adventure coming soon.

Coming home. Coming home to all my boys and my house and my city. That's always a nugget I bring home when I travel: a renewed appreciation for where and how I live.

Fall. It's been a perfectly cool and cloudy week. I'm sort of giddy about the slight chill in the air.

Rainy nights.

Comfort food. I made a batch of my marinara sauce this week and served it with Italians roasted with onions and peppers, ravioli and spaghetti squash. It's so easy and so much better than most anything you'll get out of a jar. There were no leftovers. Jess joined us for dinner at the last minute and we caught up on all the drama in both our lives over good food and wine.

My ankle/foot is feeling about 95 percent. I can actually see exercise in the very near future. That is like winning the lottery! I walked more than a marathon during our 5 days in the city, and the only thing that bothered me were the blisters from new shoes.

A dinner invitation tomorrow night.

Book club Sunday morning. It's our inaugural meeting. The book is The Glass Castle, which I read years ago. I picked it up last night and it was familiar...fast. I think it will lend itself well to discussion. I'm excited to finally be in a book club again and with such a great group of readers.

A quiet night tonight. Teddy's home from his spaghetti dinner, Lily's home from hanging out with her girlfriends, Mike's watching a movie, I'm reading and the boys are following me around...stealing my spots...still not convinced I'm here to stay.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017


The oppressive heat broke overnight. Today looks and feels like fall. I'm ready for it. I'm ready for the cozy coolness and all things autumn. When I got up this morning in the dark, Teddy had already left for the day. He had cross country this morning. I didn't even hear him leave. I missed my 15 morning minutes with him.

Instead of packing a salad, I filled a thermos with chili for Lily's lunch, and she was pleased with that. She was also happy to be able to wear fall clothes today. There's no air conditioning in her school, so the 90s are hard to handle. Another bright spot: today is early release. It's so easy to make her smile.

I have the windows and doors open. The cats keep trying to snooze, but then they are stirred by a critter running through the leaves...crunch, crunch, crunch. There are as many leaves on the ground as on the trees. The colors are starting to be showy. My summer flowers are looking lackluster, but they're still alive so I cannot pull them out of the ground. It's against my nature after so many months of nurturing.

I'm listening to Cats. We leave for NYC in a little over a week. Traveling makes me anxious. Just the before. Not the during or the after. I walked for the first time Monday evening. Only a mile and a half. My foot was sore the rest of the night and much of yesterday. That stresses me out as I think we'll be putting on 10 or more miles every day in the Big Apple. I ordered 10 pairs of shoes from Zappos yesterday hoping that I'll find at least one pair of comfortable and cute options for pounding the pavement with my still healing foot. 

I looked at the extended forecast for our trip and it is saying 70s and 80s. Everything I have ready to pack is for the 50s and 60s. Now I'm scrambling to rethink my wardrobe choices. Sometimes we anticipate, plan and prepare and still we have to ad lib at the eleventh hour. It's not my preference, but then no one asked me.

It's farmer's market Wednesday. I plan to stop and stock up on the last of the season's local veggies. The market goes through October, but soon it will be nothing but squash and apples. We have more than enough apples. I've been thinking a lot about abundance lately.

I have a hair appointment today. I'm so tempted to go short, but I'm scared. I went short this time last year and I loved it. Or maybe it was two years ago. Change is hard for me. I'm such a creature of habit. It's exactly this tendency that brought me here today to ramble. I write. I release.

I'm fooling myself today though. I'm prattling on about foliage and fall...about the dailiness of my life...to avoid facing my heavy heart. My mom will be gone 9 years tomorrow, and I just cannot put my finger on the right combination of words to express how I feel about that. It's complicated. It's cheerless. It's chaffing. I guess that's one thing that doesn't change.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


friday we went to see it.
i was lukewarm on the film, but it turned out to be a good adaptation of king's novel.
lily and her friend thought pennywise was funny.
i thought the popcorn was delicious.
she slept like a baby that night.
saturday we celebrated my dad's 70th birthday.
the boys golfed in the afternoon and we all met on their patio to enjoy the lovely late summer eve.
he cooked us a surf and turf dinner.
it was delicious fun.
he liked his presents and felt special as he should.
he is one in a million.
sunday was a lazy day for most of the family.
the blues and blahs sort of hit me.
i was expecting them.
i rallied late in the day in the kitchen.
that felt good because i hated to waste the day.
weekends are so precious that i want to savor every minute.

 the birthday book turned out great.

 it was hard to narrow down the pictures.

 the many faces of bob.

  one for the next book.

 a beautiful banana bread for monday morning breakfast.

a delicious sunday sauce. roast cherry tomatoes with garlic cloves and crushed red pepper. blend with generous helping of pesto and some reserved pasta water to desired consistency. serve over favorite pasta and top with plenty of fresh grated parmesan.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I five thanks for...

Spending yesterday with my guy. The kids were off. Guess where Ted was? If you said golfing, that'd be correct. Lily made plans to hang out with a friend. Mike and I picked apples, went out for lunch and went for a swim.

Another bushel of apples. This time Fujis, Courtlands, Galas and Macintosh. We took a peck to my in-laws in exchange for a dozen ears of the most delicious sweet corn.

An impromptu afternoon visit, swim and soak with my in laws. Their hot tub has done wonders for my ankle this past week.

Dinner out with Jess on my Mom's birthday. It was a beautiful night to enjoy La Merenda patio, a bottle of rioja and an assortment of small plates. My favorite was the chive crepes filled with pork belly and served with a porcini mushroom sauce. I very much enjoyed the beef empanadas with aioli, the crostini topped with goat cheese curds and chorizo and the garlic spinach as well. It was god to be together and, of course, the best part was the company.

Last night of summer, 2017. A beautiful finale for a fine summer.

Movie night tonight. We're going to see IT at the prompting of my anti-horror film daughter's urging. I sure hope we don't regret this. On the other hand, if she likes this, there are so many classics that I can't wait to watch with her.

The perfect loaf. I've been experimenting with different baking pans, but I finally came to the conclusion that what works best for this peasant bread recipe is a good old fashioned metal loaf pan.

Ted golfed a 71 and a 77 this week.

Tomorrow we're celebrating my dad's 70th birthday. I have one gift that I think he's kinda sorta going to love. That's a win for him too because he's impossible to buy for.

It's fall although Mother Nature has yet to get the memo. This unseasonable heat wave will break next week and usher in the cooler temperatures that will invite cozy sweaters, comfort food, colorful walks, warm flannel, quiet nights, football Saturdays and all that other good stuff.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Happy Birthday in Heaven

Dear Mom,

It’s been nine years. A long, but short nine years. Long because you’ve missed so much…so many: birthdays, holidays, graduations, games and wins, Sunday dinners and family vacations. Short because there are still days I wake up and think I’ve got to remember to tell you my overnight dream. Remember how much you loved those commute recountings? Things will happen, big and small, and I’ll reach for the phone to call you. I’ll be happy or sad and you’re the one with whom I want to celebrate or commiserate. Then it’ll hit me all over again: you’re gone. Wait…not just gone. Gone for almost a decade now.

That’s a long time to be missing someone. So many people that belong to this club to which I am a reluctant card carrying member told me that it gets easier, but the only change I can attest to is that it’s different. Immediate grief is gut wrenching. Nine year old grief is soul sucking. There is a distinct difference. When you were first gone from me I was writhing in physical and emotional pain. Today I am haunted by it. It’s like a ghost, but at times I feel like the apparition…a less solid, assured version of myself. I’m a hint more fragile and fearful having lived through your death.

Every year this week, which kicks off with your last birthday and culminates in your last day on earth, sneaks up on me. I realize how silly this sounds since these anniversaries are an annual occurrence. Honestly, it’s not the dates that catch me by surprise: just the feelings. Nine years ago when we celebrated your sixtieth birthday with champagne and roses, with burgers and balloons, with a neighborhood of friends and a tribe of loved ones I remember feeling joy. That seems crazy to me now because I knew it was not only going to be your last birthday, but also your last days, period. In looking back, I recognize this as your final gift to all who gathered to celebrate you. You were radiantly alive, present and happy, and we could all feel it and wanted to join in. It didn’t matter that you were confined to a hospital bed, or that you had no hair. All that mattered was that your heart was full of love and grace. That was your parting gift.

You rallied all day long. The next day, you started slipping away. Seven days later I held your hand and told you it was OK to go. I wanted to take those words back the minute I uttered them. It was so not OK, but then it was beautiful to see peace come to and through you.  A final declaration of love and appreciation. A long gaze. A tight squeeze. A last breath. An end to suffering.

An end to your suffering.

The beginning of life without you.

A life that wasn’t pretty at first, but one that’s become its own masterpiece. A colorful, beautiful, complicated collage. A rich, dynamic, multi-layered composition that is tangible proof that there is love and beauty after terrible loss.

I want to thank you Mom because I’m as much a warrior as I am a ghost. My strength comes from deep within, but you planted the seeds. You were the first woman warrior I witnessed. Though the thing is… you weren’t all bold bristle and brawn. You had a big and soft heart for anyone and everyone.

Happy Birthday to you in Heaven Mom. I hope you still know how very much I miss you. Wink wink. And thank you for sending the hummingbird yesterday. It took me by happy surprise. I’ll keep my eyes open for bluebirds and my ears open for owls today.

I love you,


Tuesday, September 19, 2017


it was a summer weekend.
and, of course, it is still summer...
despite the fact that all signs (minus temps and the calendar) point to fall.
i'm caught between savoring summer's lasts and anticipating fall's firsts.
we get a little of both this time of year.
saturday we invited ourselves over to grandma and grandpa's for a swim in the afternoon heat.
we didn't expect them to cook us a delicious steak dinner complete with everyone's favorite corn on the cob, but we sure enjoyed our time together, the meal and the pool and hot tub.
i was happy that ted joined us without coaxing or complaint and uncle mark too.
we got home after dark, but not too late for ted to catch up with friends.
lily had a date with a friend on sunday.
the girls visited the art museum and then took themselves out to lunch at a popular speak easy.
i was a little surprised that they made their way there, but also impressed at their adventurous spirits.
ted umped, then golfed (a 71!!!) and then went to watch football with his buds.
mike worked around the yard and i was busy all afternoon in the kitchen.
it's a school year thing to take some time every sunday to prep for the week.
i made a pot of our favorite chili, a pan of buffalo chicken enchiladas, and a crock of drip beef for the week, and roasted chicken thighs for sunday dinner.
i didn't look ahead to the forecast, which is steamy.
i've flipped the switch to comfort food.
we watched the packer game before bed.
they lost, but the weekend was a winner.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

Getting through our first full week of school. It was a long one, but a mostly good one. We're getting in the groove. I think we were all eagerly anticipating today, or more like tonight. Teddy went golfing after school and now he's at the football game. Lily had a beach field trip today. A beach field trip that didn't involve swimming so she came home and promptly showered. Now she's eating pizza and chilling out in her room exhausted, ravenous, but clean. Mike is relaxing because he was out with friends last night. I'm taking care of business: blogging, calendars and such. When I finish here, I 'll retire with a book and a cat or two.

And speaking of books, it looks like the book club I've been talking about starting is going to finally meet in October. I'm excited because I love to read and talk about books, but it's also a built in excuse to get together on a regular basis with good friends.

And speaking of good friends...Jess made sure to ask me far in advance to have dinner with her on my mom's birthday next week. It's a nice tradition we've started. I know my mom will be with us in spirit. She got off work early the other night so she came over for margaritas on the patio. Then we grilled some brats for dinner. After dinner, she played with Lily's hair trying to sell her on a hair do for school pictures the next day. She couldn't be sold, and decided to wear her locks long and free.

 Last week Candace dropped off the portrait she painted of Lily called Sand, Sea and Soul. She took a picture of Lily over the summer that inspired her to paint this piece. It's her first portrait and I think it's amazing. So did Lily. It's pretty special to our family as is Candace.

Apples galore. All week we've been munching on them to the point I think I'll make a stop this weekend for another stash. After you enjoy these sun-kissed sweeties, it's hard to eat the store bought.

Orchards and fields and farmer's markets. This week I picked up some beautiful eggplant and tomatoes at the market.

I was inspired to make eggplant Parmesan. It was my first time in a long time and I'd forgotten how easy and delicious it is. I even made my own sauce and I'd say the dish took me only 30 minutes to make. We ate it all week. Now it's gone before I even got a photo of the finished product, but I'll be making it again and soon.

This was my lunch today. My first tomato sandwich of the summer, and I can tell you it was worth the wait. Without locally grown, fresh tomatoes, this sandwich is not worth it. And also a must is a good nutty loaf of whole grain bread. A slice of cheddar takes it to the next level.

Having my Wednesdays to myself. As much as I miss the kids, I've missed having time to get things done. This week I woke to a cool, grey day so I was inspired to bake my Grandma's banana cake. By afternoon, the sun was out and it felt like August again so I whipped up a batch of homemade vanilla bean ice cream. I had such a full and wonderful day. I was busy, but doing things that come straight from the heart.

The cute little freezer safe ice cream container Teddy got me from Sur La Table. It's a must. I must get another.

These two sun worshipers.

We made it to Teddy's cross country race just in time yesterday. He didn't have his best race, but it was respectable. 

I hope I can start a little exercise next week. Staying off my feet has been the hardest part of this injury hands down.

Parent night at Lily's school. It was our last at the middle school. Lasts usually make me weepy, but not this final. I enjoy meeting the teachers, but I don't look forward to some of the parents because the make me feel like I'm back in middle school. Nevertheless, she's going to have a great year.

Scary movie season. There are a couple on my list to see. I L O V E thrillers.

I'm also excited for fall programming to return. Mostly for DWTS and This Is Us.

I bought the tickets for the before the museum opens World Trade Center tour. They're pricier than the others, but I think it'll be worth it to have a more reserved and solemn vibe for the experience.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


we were all looking forward to the weekend after an abrupt end to summer and a busy back to school week.
teddy was eager to golf.
cross country has been cutting into his time on the course.
it was a beautiful late summer weekend so he played 18 both days,
saturday he joined his uncle, and sunday he played with his dad, grandpa and a friend.
he came home with a 76 and happy.
lily had shopping on her itinerary.
she shopped saturday in cedarburg and then bayshore with friends, and sunday she and i hit the mall.
we had some success with her fall wardrobe.
she came with a succulent and some cute jeans.
the highlight of my weekend was picking apples with my girl.
she wasn't really into it, but she did it for me.
(and because i bribed her with a stop at michaels.)
we came home with a supply of mollies and ginger golds.
the best apple cider donuts, and slime supplies too.
she made slime while i finished my book.
then i put together eggplant parmesan for sunday dinner.
mike grilled some balsamic chicken too.
this pairing perfectly illustrates where we stand: holding onto summer while anticipating fall.
it's not a bad place to be.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Grateful Friday

Today I give thanks for...

We survived the first week of school. Ted forgot his computer the first day and has yet to get supplies, and Lily is chomping at the bit to fill her closet with fall clothes, but they managed. I think by the end of next week we'll be fully immersed in 8th and 11th grades.

Last year of middle school.

Upper classman.

We had a great last weekend of summer vacation. We went to a Badger party one night, invited friends over the next and celebrated my birthday with my Dad and step-mom the last. Ted picked the menu: ribs, potatoes and corn. It was delicious and fun and ended in us singing music from Cats and Christmas carols.

Saturday night dinner with friends: grilled flank steak, roasted mushrooms topped with herby toasted breadcrumbs, pasta aglio olio and proscuitto wrapped asparagus, not pictured. Also not pictured: homemade vanilla bean ice cream topped with dark chocolate sauce and pecans.


 Ted enjoys some target practice.

 The big boys play a few games of crib before dinner.

Lily patiently waits for Catman to come around. 

 How many grills does it take to make dinner?

Sous Chef or taste tester?

The definition of tender: fall off the bone.

 Birthday wine.

My dad was really touched when I gave him my Grandma Rose's pitcher filled with roses. He's a guy and the things he took from the house are likely in his shed. He appreciated this keepsake.

 I survived back to work after vacation and jury duty. I was randomly picked as the alternate juror after 5 days of testimony so I never even got to talk about the trial. That's a major letdown. By game time though I was over it because who knows how late into Friday night they deliberated. There were 19 counts. The Federal court and jury selection processes were interesting. I cannot tell you how many people tried to counsel me as to how to avoid serving. I was happy to and rather fascinated by the psychology of it all.

Our trip to NYC is coming together. We have put together an itinerary for our days and nights there and getting very excited for our visit.

A perch.

Fresh flowers in fall colors. 

My Sunday morning spot.

A box of spices for my birthday.

My uncle's surgery went well.

Grandma Judy is on the mend.