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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Tradition Part III

Krumkake are sweet treats that hold a special place in my heart because my grandma used to make them. I never knew how much work went into making these special scrolls. I only knew that each Christmas I could expect to find wax paper lined shoe boxes full of them in my grandma's pantry.

How she had the patience for all the futz involved with them, I'll never know. I never even gave it a thought until I inherited her iron. Now I'm drawn to make them. I feel a connection to her and our heritage when I drop the first bit of batter onto the hot cast iron griddle.

She'd probably think I'm crazy to go to all of that work to produce this pile of scrolls with nobody to share them with. She was pretty no nonsense. But I couldn't think of anything I'd rather do today than reminisce about my grandma and I hope her spirit is smiling!

Tradition Part II

At first I count ten seconds, flip, fifteen seconds, flip... wiggle the spatula under the lacy web. Transfer to white towel, wrap around metal tube, place seam side down to set. But after a few, you get into a rhythm and the krumkake speaks to you. Flip me now! I'm ready! Okay, not really, but I was definitely in the groove.

There is nothing more pleasing than a perfectly cooked krumkake, perfectly picked up, pirouetting around the metal form. For some strange reason it makes me feel a connection. I'm not sure if that comes with mastering a new thing or sharing in an experience of my ancestors.

Either way, it was a delightful way to spend my Christmas afternoon.


I pulled out my grandma's krumkake iron to cook up a little tradition on this Christmas afternoon.

The trick to making these delicate scrolls is to accept that you will scrape the first few off the pan as a complete loss. They always burn!

Then when the batter runs over onto the burner and starts smoking, crack a window, transfer the iron (WITH A POT HOLDER!) to a fresh burner and start over. Thank goodness for temperatures near 50° today!

Twas The Night Before Christmas...


Peanut is anxiously awaiting Santa!

Delightful Mushroom Gravy!

The steak was not as fabulous as Christmas' past, but the mushroom red wine gravy was absolutely devine! Delightful!

Friday, December 23, 2011

New Lonely Girl Recipe

In honor of a lonely girl weekend, I've finally update the Lonely Girl Recipe in the righthand column.

Try this chopped salad to satisfy a crunchy craving. Yummy!


I'm delighting in this salad lately!

1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/4tsp dried oregano

1C Organic Girl romaine lettuce hearts, chopped
1/2C tomato, deseeded and diced
1/2C green pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
1/4 cucumber, seeded and diced
1/8C pitted Kalamata olives, sliced

1. Combined dressing ingredients. Let sit while preparing salad. I usually combine in a small container, shake, and use the following day.

2. Combine salad ingredients. Toss dressing with salad.

3. Yum!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Now Taking Tradition Suggestions

I'm anxious to be done with work with the impending Christmas holiday, but I have no idea what to do with myself all weekend!

I have long spent Christmas alone. Ever since my siblings started giving the folks grand babies, it quickly became about the kids. So having my own traditions became important to me.

Back in those early days of grand babies, I was working at a Fox television station and a small portion of my responsibilities was to schedule paid programming. One of the best gigs ever! In no way was it challenging and the paid programmers bribed me with holiday gifts like steaks. That first year I made the steaks on Christmas Eve for a small gathering of friends (back before I really cooked). It was pretty plain jane as dinners go, but the whole evening was special in a tradition-starting sort of way. The following year when the steaks arrived, I looked forward to preparing them for myself on Christmas Eve.

My tradition of visiting Pier 1 on Christmas Eve was born during this time as well. Nothing puts you in the holiday spirit more than browsing holiday housewares to jazzy holiday tunes at the Pier 1 in Onalaska, WI. Unfortunately I've found the same is not true of the Springfield store. Sometimes it actually sucks the spirit right out of me. I may still give it another try this year.

After I've settled in for the night, prepared a steak dinner, imbibed a little of the red holiday cheer, maybe catch the Letterman Christmas episode with Darlene Love, I read my Coca Cola Santa Night Before Christmas story to Peanut. He really enjoys it. Almost as much as the antlers he gets to wear!

As magical as all that seems, I keep trying to think of new holiday magicalness I can add to my Springfield Christmas experience. I'm going to need a lot more activities to get me though the long holiday weekend!


I feel as though I've done the work of three weeks in three days this week. I'm amazed at all I've powered through, but I feel like I have three more weeks of work left to cram into two days. And I'm not even taking time off for the holidays!

I took a little time off this morning to tend to my Peanut. Over the weekend he developed a sore paw where his curly-q nail had gotten too long. He spent a great deal of time licking it over the weekend, so I wasn't sure if it was infected or just red from the excessive licking.

At the vet, they trimmed him all up and didn't even think he would need any meds. He seems happier already! He has still been paying it too much attention, but I'm hoping he's on the road to recovery.

He's in his golden years and every little thing makes me nervous. Peanut is my main man after all and practically the only thing that keeps me from working 24/7. I'm looking forward to a holiday weekend with the Nut!

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Holiday Anniversary

My folks traveled down for their annual anniversary visit. I took a day off to escort them to a welcome lunch at Joe Roger's. Springfield's favorite chili is not mine, but pleasant enough for the start of an Illinois Adventure weekend.

Friday night we ventured to Hill Prairie Winery for a murder mystery dinner theatre which was not so much theatre as we would have hoped. After being recruited to participate in the show, my dad easily took the lead as being best in show. An interesting experience to try out, though if you have 45 dollars you can't find another use for.

Saturday was Charlie Parkers day, followed by a fudge stop at the Apple Barn. In between we managed to create heaping trays of sweet rolls, game day treats, throw a few dice, and slurp up some spaghetti before I headed out to a station event and the folks ventured out on their own to the 2nd City show (good reviews there).

Sunday was the big Wisconsin sports game thingy. We met up with a couple co-workers at a local watering hole, treats in hand, to view the sports spectacular with other green team fans. Luckily they served beer to keep me occupied.

After the tragic loss, my parents humored me in my desire to see the Dana Thomas house all gussied up for the holidays with flickering luminaria lighting the path. It was a magically merry event I wouldn't want to miss! A bountiful beef roast dinner at home topped off our holiday extravaganza.

With swollen tummies, we settled into the sofa for movie night. Popcorn was popped and as we popped it into our mouths, we plunked it in front of Peanut, and piled it in strings for the birds. Already adorning the shrubbery, I feel the birds' tummies will be swollen by tomorrow.

To top off the night- a viewing of Saturday Night Live's classic Winter Wonderland. What a wonderful weekend! Happy anniversary Mom and Dad!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


What a glorious evening to sit out on the porch! I can still hear the drip drops settling into the earth outside my window. The old familiar rattle and hum in the distance take me right back to the tracks of Tremp City.

Peanut is exploring the soggy terrain out back while I soak up the warm glow of my Christmas lights. Evenings like this take the edge off a gloomy day like today. I'm ever so grateful to have decent December weather, but I hope to wake to a glimmer of sunlight.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Disappointment And Other Activities

I spent my weekend puttering around the house. Nothing huge, just this and that little tasks you put off. It was pretty laid back and yet I crossed a lot off the to-do list. I realized it helps if you actually make a to-do list. It really helps to have clear objectives and know what you want to accomplish. And it's so rewarding to cross those tasks off the list! I even found my life goals to-do list and realized I could cross a few more things off. Exciting!

I did so much in fact, I wondered what my dad will find to do on his upcoming visit. He is usually fixing something for me! Maybe we'll just have to have a good time at a couple shows, visit the Charlie Parkers, and he can fix me and the birds a little popcorn! I was wishing my mom was here already. I could have really gone for a few dice games this weekend. And although I've been thinking a lot about Christmas cookies, I haven't dived into that yet. My mom would be a big help there!

As I chugged on into the End of the Weekend station, my thoughts turned to work. All weekend I intended to turn on my Christmas itunes playlist and didn't get around to it. It occurred to me that I should load up my ipod and take it to work this week. So the search for the ipod began.

I searched high and low for that thing. The last clear memory I have of using it was on the plane home from Florida. For the trip I placed it and the headphones in a snack sized ziploc bag. Most of the time when not in use, I stashed that little ziploc bag in the middle zippered pouch of my purse...which was loaded with all sorts of travel things.

It was late getting to the Bloomington airport that night. I do not have a clear memory of putting it back in my purse. Did I throw it away with something? Wouldn't be the first time I'd done that. Did I pull crap out of my purse in the car and leave it in the console...which was recently ransacked by a (what I thought was a would be) burglar? September seems so long ago and hazy now.

La sigh. I am la disappointed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Was It Really That Bad?

Let me pose this question. I've been pondering this all evening.

I admitted to a little flub up. Something that was nothing really. Just something. And I was countered with "You're just having a bad week."

Wait. What? I didn't think it was that bad. Was there something else? Am I just highly disappointing at all times? Makes ya think, right?

I guess it's all a matter of perspective. I hope I'm just suffering from a positive attitude, not denial.

Either way, I'm looking forward to some weekend action and a fresh start.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Card Season

This year I got a Christmas card from the garbage collectors and a good friend! I feel so blessed!

Not that I'm one to send cards. I hate cards. Once the season is passed I will throw your card away. Don't get me wrong...I appreciate the sentiment. I just don't want to partake. Or keep it forever in a box collecting dust. Last year I did use photo cards as gift tags and that worked out pretty craftily. I can still be crafty, right?

And if you receive a card from me (or even a facebook birthday greeting for that matter), it means I really care about you or appreciate something you did. I'm not one to throw sentiment around for the sake of it. And there are cards and letters I do keep. I feel like you know when it actually is special.

So that's it. A call to arms to say what you mean and only send cards when you are moved to do so. Can we all agree?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Let It Snow!

Not for real!

Okay, not a moment after I emailed this picture to the blog it actually started snowing outside. For real. Tiny little flurries fluttering through the gray sky. I hope that is all it amounts to, but the first snow is still exciting!

Monday, December 5, 2011


I wrapped up a little holiday cheer today. I haven't had the joy of buying a lot of Christmas presents for quite some time, but today I managed a little gift wrapping despite that!

It's amazing what a splash of gift wrap can do to brighten up the workplace! Add a dripping of icicle lights and blow in the fake snow and you have a winter wonderland on your hands.

I was shocked and appalled to hear of the snow hitting my friends and family in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I really feel for ya! That is why I hung so many snowflake ornaments as possible from the hallway ceiling. I want to really feel what it must be like for you with all that snow blowing around. It was even a little chilly in the office today. Brrr. I may have to take in a blankie to wrap up in!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Deck The Halls!

I'm officially decked.

Bit by bit over the last week I spread holiday cheer throughout my home. I draped lighted greenery across the mantel and over the doorways and windows. I primped my pre-decorated tree and wreath. It's holding up for one more year at least!

I replaced regular old pictures with my favorites holiday ornaments, draped the table with my grandma's tablecloth, and filled everything sitting around with ornaments!

Today I stopped into the antique store to make the traditional holiday sweep for a 1970/71 Lefton Christmas tree-shaped dish. Alas today was not the day to find it, but I did practically stumble over two black and white enamel trays perfectly sized for my vanity. At two dollars a piece, I was pretty happy with my antiquing treasures.

It was a practically perfect weekend including little housework, lots of lounging, a movie night with Peanut, and even a fun karaoke station event. I didn't sing Deck The Halls, but a group effort Twist and Shout at bar time was definitely a high light of the weekend. I can't wait for the next karaoke night!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Snoozie Qs

Peanut is all curled up for a little snoozie Qs to make up for the big, big times he had in Tremp City.

We're both happy to be home after a little quality time with a few close friends and a lot of family time. Those kids sure wear us out!

I've unpacked, popped in my Elf DVD, and am going through my mail before I start spreading a little more Christmas cheer around the house. It's officially on!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Today I'm thankful for pizza and a fun afternoon of lazer tag with the co-workers. I'm even more thankful that the blue team dominated for the championship win!

I'm thankful for an early start on the holiday traffic and a not too shabby drive all things considered.

Thanks to the folks for taking care of my dog and to Kohlrabi for showing me a good time out and about tonight in Wisconsin. There's more fun to be had tomorrow and eventually turkey!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Eve Eve

On this eve of Thanksgiving eve, I can officially say I'm ready for a little holiday vacation. I only worked about 9ish hours today, enjoyed a beer, and headed home for Peanut snuggles and trip prep.

Tomorrow I definitely have a few work things to wrap up, but I'm to the point where I can accept that sometimes some things don't get done. I hope the bosses concur.

I'm really looking forward to a sales pizza lunch and fun afternoon outing. It'll be a lovely way to close the door on the work-week and welcome in the holiday weekend. Happy turkey eve eve to all and too all a good night!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Motivation Rings Once

My whole plan this weekend was to get ready for Xmas. Fail! I washed the windows and curtains. I shrink wrapped the windows. That is about it!

I don't know where all my weekend time went, but I was definitely sidetracked. I didn't even make it in to work, which I'm sure I will regret when the inevitable 12-hour days hit me to make up a whole week, plus work ahead a whole week in three short days.

At least tonight I hauled a few pieces of Xmas decor out of the basement. So I may not have decked the halls, but I can feel confident that I'll come home to a dash of holiday spirit even if I work straight through to Wednesday. But let's hope for the miracle that I have time at home this week.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Clearly Now

I managed to get the fall window cleaning checked off the to-do list today! Which is great because I'm pretty sure I never got around to the spring window cleaning.

I'm practically a professional now that I've figured out how to tilt the windows into the house without pulling them out of their little caster thingies. Mostly. I'll say I did much better than last time.

All it took was a spritz of water and apple cider vinegar and the glass was so sparkly clean I kept thinking I had left a window open. I can definitely see clearly now.

It is so much brighter in the house-perfect conditions to watch for the first snowfall as I decorate for Xmas tomorrow. However, with temps in the 50s, I'll probably have to imagine a white Christmas with a little help from my itunes. Clearly.

Fast Forward

I've decided I need to come home to Christmas next Sunday night. That puts this week on fast forward! If I want to get the house decorated this weekend, I need to have Thanksgiving NOW!

I started my day by making coffee and popping in my Home For The Holidays DVD. That's like really big winner.

After that, it's game on. I need to wash my windows despite the colder weather. Peanut still needs a bath. Then I'm going to pack up all those decorative pumpkins to haul to Wisconsin. And finally drag out the tinsel and greenery.

Oh and I can see my roots. I'll need to spruce up the hair before I head home for my holidays. I really can't wait. I'm ready to get there really quick and then press pause.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Stuff It!

By some magic pixie dust power I've made it to this point and time of this crazy, crazy week. I remember a time long, long ago in a land far, far away when I was bored at work. Let me tell you this...not only have I not experienced that in Springfield, it's usually quite the opposite.

So tomorrow we're kicking off our big Stuff A Truck food drive at Schnucks on Sangamon and at Montvale. The lovely citizens of Springfield can bring non-perishable food donations to either location Friday 10am-8pm, Saturday 7am-8pm, and Sunday 9am-3pm. Bags of food will also be available to purchase for donation. WQLZ, WMAY, WNNS, & ALICE are broadcasting live at the Sangamon location as well.

All super exciting! So kick off the giving season with Stuff A Truck this year!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gold Star

After a long week of work already and a near car accident, I pulled it together tonight and was productive at home. I got the whole house in tip top shape. It always amazes me how sparkling sinks and faucets make me so happy. I really missed my calling as a 1950's housewife.

Peanut has not yet undergone the aforementioned spa day, but I did manage to finish the nail trim job I started over the weekend. Previously I got about two nails trimmed before he put up a fuss and walked away.... and I noticed one was bleeding... all over the carpet.

After cleaning up that mess I abandoned the idea of a bath. But between you and me, his time is running out on the respite. He is getting to be a stinky boy and we've got special holiday plans. He's got to be the prettiest puppy in the neighborhood when he visits Grandma and Grandpa.

The clock is ticking away towards the holiday and I can't wait for a break. But for now I'm just super excited that payday coincides with dollar beer day. That's my kinda gold star! A girl has to be thankful for that kinda joy in the universe.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Feeling The Holidaze

Today at work I prepared a Thanksgiving holiday schedule. Even worse, my Boss Lady passed out a December calendar at our morning meeting.

We have a food drive event this weekend and another exciting multiple-day event in the works that will fall between now and Xmas. Between those and holiday absences and monthly reporting being backlogged, I'm starting to feel that anxious holidaze creeping in.

So much is up in the air. I really should get my house in order so I feel like something is under my control. After a slacker housework weekend, I'm looking to pick up a little slack during my evening hours this week. I'm going to start that tomorrow. Yeah...tomorrow.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Yard Workin'

Since I tend to have lazy Saturdays, Sunday is usually my motivation day. After another attempt at perfecting whole wheat blueberry pancakes and downing a couple cups of coffee, I was ready for a little yard work.
I headed outside with Peanut and chose planting my mum as my first task. After standing and analyzing my tiny flower bed for a moment, I knew the best place for this mum would be in the flower bed I kept meaning to dig out. So I did.
I grabbed my border spade and hacked out all the grass along one side of the back fence. Then I trudged through all the fallen walnuts to use the spade to pry out old driveway bricks. One at a time I freed a brick from under a weedy mess and hauled it back to line my new bed.
I arranged the bricks along the meandering edge and cleaned our my container plants to fill the bed with soil. Then I plopped that mum right on the corner by the gate. I also took the opportunity to replant salvaged garlic bulbs. I'm super excited about that! And next spring I'll be able to plant a tomato plant in the ground! I already feel like I might need to expand in the spring. But for now, I'm happy.
I finished off the lovely 74 degree afternoon by spraying out those containers and putting them away for winter. I took outdoor furniture in, cleaned my grill, and even changed the oil in my lawn mower after one last run over all the leaves. However, this weather does make me want to use the grill one more time.
Now to tackle the indoor projects. I fear the sun is getting too low to properly clean the windows. That project is probably getting bumped. But little does Peanut know...he's in for a full spa day. Then I can finally tackle the regular weekly chores. I wish there were two of me!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pile Of Parsley

While taking Peanut out last night I decided it was finally time to harvest the last of the parsley. Our temperatures are getting pretty cold in the evenings and I figured if I wanted to try to save this bountiful harvest, I probably should act quickly. After a few google searches I had a plan.
 I harvested all of the parsley from both containers. Four plants worth of growth. It was quite the pile of parsley.
I clipped off the leaves into this small glass.

Thanks to a Taste of Home Cooking School magazine tip I knew I could use my kitchen sheers to chop the parsley.
 Chop. Chop. Chop.

I bagged up NINE 1/4C servings into snack size bags. Can I just say, I couldn't survive without snack size bags. I frequenty use these for portioning out lonely girl servings for freezing.
Then I loaded up all the servings into my freezer bag and labled it. Hopefully this parsley will flavor my soups all winter long. Yay!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I'm Not Dead Yet

I was not able to avoid getting down with the sickness. I was down for two days. I felt as though I was dying, and yet here I am.

I returned to work today to put out all the fires that had erupted while I was out. I started my day by making a strong pot of coffee and forgot that not only had I not eaten breakfast, but I hadn't had caffeine in two days. And I was on cold meds. Within a few hours I was incredibly shakey and having a hard time focusing.

Breathing, water, and a snack reeled me back in. After a hearty bread bowl soup from Panera, I was practically feeling normal. Okay, sick, but better. I think I turned a corner today. I can't wait to get a long night's sleep and wake to find myself good as new. I'm not dead yet!

Monday, November 7, 2011


As early as last Friday I could feel a congestion building in my chest. A slight shortness of breath and inclination towards a croup.

I used this as an excuse to do very little over the weekend. I even contemplated heading in to work Sunday to get reports done so when the sickness really set in today, I could stay home to sleep. Well, as it turned out, I didn't feel like working Sunday any more than I felt motivated to do anything else productive.

This morning rolled around and other than the razor blades in my throat, the shortness of breath, and the insufferable urge to drift off to sleep, I wasn't feeling too shabby. I headed in to work. It wasn't even so horrifying.

I'm one of those people that doesn't get sick that often and when I do, I'm usually not as badly hit as others. I'm feeling like this one is going to blow over. Fingers crossed!

What really makes me angry is this new game I downloaded to my phone while lounging around doing nothing all weekend. Curiosity finally got the better of me and I had to see why our feathered friends were so angry. Now I know. This game is impossible!

What makes me angrier are the hours I've wasted already trying to use birds to knock down walls of wood and stone. And trying to figure how to launch the birds. And waiting for that little green head to roll off the cliff. And the fact that I can't figure it out, so I know I'll be back.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Explosion

Did I mention I finally found my favorite decorative stripey pumpkins?

In past years I've ventured to the Apple Barn in early September to gather as many of these beauties as I could afford. One year I even cut one open to harvest the seeds with the hopes of growing my own. The problem is I don't remember to plant the seeds until the fall when I want the pumpkins!

This year due to my lateness of decorating, when I searched the Apple Barn for them, I came out empty handed (Well, not completely... I did find an apple cinnamon fritter with my name on it). A few weeks later I found a bag of three of them at my local asbestos grocery store. It was marked three or four dollars, so I opted for only one bag.

Then on Halloween I needed to run to the WalMart over lunch to pick up cream cheese for my Wildtree party and I stumbled upon a huge crate of those threefer bags at a dollar a piece! FINALLY I'm all stocked up. I have little decorative pumpkins everywhere. And I'm dorky enough to be super excited about it!

These little guys will get me though November and will probably make the trek to Wisconsin to grace our family Thanksgiving table. I couldn't be more thankful for the bounty.

Saturday, November 5, 2011


It's been crazy windy in Springfield the last few days. Yesterday was cold and rainy, AND windy. In the afternoon I noticed a large branch had fallen out of my walnut tree and onto one of those cables coming from the main line in the alley to my house. It was perched on the wire and hanging down to the ground.
Luckily a call to my landlord took care of that problem. Unfortunately he couldn't do anything about the week that was rushing by me with a giant "whoosh."
I didn't participate in any Halloween festivities ON Halloween because children frighten me and I realized I had planned to host a Wildtree party on Tuesday that I had completely forgotten was coming up so quickly.
I worked a little late, hit up the grocery store, then headed home to mix up my samples and do the housework I had neglected over the weekend. Everything came together nicely for a small gathering of friends, food, and a little fizz. I even had a few leftovers to share at work.
Wednesday was another big day with pre-event prep. I had a lot of little details to wrap up at the office, plus errands. This year I needed to do the grocery shopping for our Taste of Home Cooking School. It was nerve-wracking to think about, but with the help of one of our trusty morning show guys, we shopped Super Market Sweep style in record time. By noon I had the groceries unloaded at the center and everything inventoried. And back to the office.
I got a little extra snoozy q's on Thursday morning before I was needed at the center to unload our culinary specialist, the one and only Dana Elliott. Before long I was prepping and preparing Hot Fudge Cake and a dijon chicken dish. So much fun. We finished everything in record time and I enjoyed lunch with a few other kitchen helpers before one last jaunt to the office to complete the final pieces of the big event puzzle.
I slowed down for a movie and nap time with Peanut before his dinner and my return to the center for the show. Everything ran smoothly for the most part and the show was great! I can't wait to do it again next year!
To finish off my crazy week, I was invited to a gala fundraiser dinner today...for tonight. I rushed home to glam up in my only gala-worthy dress and rushed out the door with a final whoosh for the week. I think I'm settled in for a little less whoosh for a few days. Ahhh.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Birthday Blog

So I wrote this really extensive blog yesterday about my birthday festivities and after hitting send I believe it got lost in cyber space. It never showed up on the blog, but a spam post did. Boo!
I will say that I spent the whole weekend with Kohlrabi and the Rabbi (I noticed the strangeness of that as I wrote it). They kept me entertained with cocktails and zombies and such. We visited Lincoln's homestead and sampled fudge at the Apple Barn and enjoyed a "big breakfast" at Charlie Parkers. Mostly absolutely glorious.
After there days of pre-birthday celebration and with Kohlrabi back on the road to Minnesota, the Rabbi and I ventured out one more time for a Real Birthday dinner at Bella Milano. It was a beautifully perfect way to quietly usher in my 34th year (NOTE TO MOM: That means I'm 33).

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Apple Cider Brine Pork Chop

I know this has graced the Lonely Girl Recipes in the past, but it's worth posting again here. I'm so excited to get these juicy, tasty little pork chops in the crock pot tomorrow!

I just cooked up the brine and the pork chops are already soaking up the salty goodness. Tomorrow I'll cut up potatoes, carrots, and celery to line the bottom of the crock. Then the pork chops, and the best part.... sauer kraut on top! I usually pour unfiltered apple cider into the bottom to add extra flavor and juiciness.

Did I mention, I can hardly wait? Without further adieu...

Combine in sauce pan...

1/2C cold water
1/4C kosher salt
1/4C packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/4 tsp whole cloves

Bring to a boil, stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in...

1C unfiltered apple cider
1/2C ice cubes

Cool completely. Pour over pork chop (I'm using two thin ones this time) in a resealable plastic bag. Refrigerate overnight or up to 12 hours. Turn bag occasionally.

When ready to cook, drain brine. Add pork chops to crock pot and cook according to manufacturer's instructions. Pork chops should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160°. I have a small 1 quart crock pot with only on/off setting and I would cook this 3-4 hours.

I can hardly wait!

Traditional Fall Chemical Burns

After a late breakfast following a late halloween party night, I grabbed a rag to clean up. Because I'm crazy, a simple task like wiping off the stove can quickly lead to an all out cleaning fest.

My thoughts turned to my first apartment and my very first stove and the day I realized the stove top lifted up. It was a whole new world of crumbtasticness that hadn't been seen in over a year. And I diligently restored the old olive green appliance to just like new. Well as close to that as you can get with a rental property stove.

Today it triggered the memory of the baked on greasiness which had been building up in my stove. It occurred to me that fall is my stove cleaning time of year. Since my falls in Wisconsin in my very own home included preparing a Thanksgiving feast, I wanted to show off a clean stove. Not that any of my guests would care as much as I do about something like that.

Despite having no Thanksgiving preparation in my stove's future, I decided there is no time like the present. I've already undergone round one and the chemical burns in my lungs from said round. Round two went slightly better with a fan in the kitchen window blowing the chemicals out at my neighbors. Why do I never remember that until the chemicals are stinging my face and coking my airways?

Anyhoo, hopefully those chemicals are cleaning up the residual residue as we speak. Who knew a sparkly clean oven could make a girl so giddy? It almost inspires me to cook up a little storm in there.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A Sign Of A Birthday

On my way back from Minnesota I caught this sign at a truck stop somewhere in Iowa. Just when I swore that I would never make it out of Iowa alive, this sign appeared to let me know I would survive to see another birthday.

1023 is everywhere you look if only you're looking for it. I tend to notice when I glance at the clock and it is exactly 10:23. Or am I drawn to look when the time is 10:23 because it is my birth date?

Either way, I knew my birthday was on the horizon. I didn't yet know the epic proportion of this year's celebration, but I would soon find out.

October Adventure

Now settled into October and after a few weeks spent at home, I was back on the road. I headed north to Wisconsin to paint for my parents and hit up the local best restaurant ever. I'd highly recommend the Freighthouse in La Crosse for your next pretend birthday. It is always delightful.

From there I continued West into Minnesota for a wedding reception for the lovely couple I was so lucky to see wed in Florida. It was a long, long drive as the wind whipped across the plains. I arrived to find my hotel room on the main floor, right between the back door and the pool and right next door to a party room.... A kids party room.
Luckily when I arrived I had just enough time to get ready, grab a drink at the neighbor's hotel, and catch the shuttle to the reception. The driver was super friendly chatty and rumored to smell like cows. I would stash away his "advertising" business card for later.

I had a fabulous time at the wedding reception with humorous company and entertainment, delightful food, and even a little Dazy Head dancing. Who could ask for anything more from a wedding reception? I believe they throw the best weddings.

I got my revenge on the partying neighbors with a little after bar in my room followed by a late morning awakening. Well I actually got up early when housekeeping tried to break into my room, but took a nap after that until check out time.

I rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes, and shoved everything back in my suitcase in time to meet my parents for a dog exchange and new tire birthday present unveiling at a truck stop. Joy!

It was a long, long, even longer drive home through Iowa on that sunny, hungover Sunday afternoon. I was so happy to arrive back in Springfield safe and sound and spend a little quality time making out with my dog and the couch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Finally Fall!

After a month of traveling the countryside, I returned home to Springfield to settle into fall.

I was finally feeling the mojo. I started craving chili and squash and apple cider and knew it was time to decorate!

I stowed away most of the beachy summer decorations (some of them made their way to my office to tide me over during the winter). I dusted off the mantle and pulled out gold chargers to corral plants and papers, rescued deep orange chinese lanterns from the basement, and added grasses, nuts, and seed pods for the finishing touch.

Pumpkin bowls and a pumpkin soup tureen perch on the dining room hutch while a spaghetti squash chills in the fridge and pork chops and apple brine wait for their turn in a sour kraut crock pot supper.

Ahhhh.... It's my favorite time of year!

Monday, October 24, 2011


Oh how I've missed you blog!

I was hacked and spammed and deleted almost a month ago and just got my blog back. This has been a lesson learned in backing up. Let this be a warning to you all. Back it up babe! Hopefully I'll have time to do that in the future as well.

I'm still crazy busy. Still crazy. Even more so after celebrating birthday month with nobody to share it with. I may still get a few of those stories in, but for now.... more work and Halloween on the horizon!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Peanut and I are settling in at home after a crazy wonderful whirlwind month!

I've got him restocked on food supplies and he has practically slept off all the exhaustion from keeping tabs on grandpa and grandma constantly. He seems awfully tired! He must have had a wonderful vacation too.

I'm getting over my post sales conference cold quickly thanks to the power of zinc and Nyquil. Tomorrow I may even pick up a few groceries for the first time this month.

I've got big plans to to decorate for fall this weekend so I can get out the warmer blankets. I've also noticed that the long-neglected yard may finally require a little attention.

It's just the most wonderful time of the year!

Monday, September 26, 2011


Oh what fun there is to be had at Oktoberfest!

I hauled my Rabbi friend North with me. We both had the sickies, but after a Friday of zincing it up, we bravely faced parade day with only beers in hand. And brats. And other german treats I can't pronounce, but enjoyed thoroughly.

We had a great time catching up with the radio (and former) radio folks. We bopped back and forth between them and my friend, Kohlrabi, on the other side of the street. This is where the annual trunk photo was snapped.

We floated along like fall leaves on a crisp breeze, landing finally at the fest grounds with leaves in our hair and gyros in our tummies. We bundled up as the sun set and the temperatures dropped. We managed to get in some visiting with friends and family and witnessed a glorious Ring of Fire by the Jim Busta Band.

As we trudged back through downtown on our way home, I noticed it was 830. It had been a full day of fun and we were done! All of us were sound asleep before midnight dreaming of drinking gloves and Oktoberfest flair to share next year. Magical.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interesting Turn Of Events

Something interesting has been happening. It used to be that I had a lot of anxiety related to our annual sales conference. As a matter of fact, this time last year I was probably blogging about it. But this year was absolutely fantastic. Best sales conference ever.

I think there are a lot of contributing factors. Most obviously that this is my eighth conference, I've worked for two markets, and I just know more of the people then I did five years ago. That always puts me at ease. I find myself being much less introverted.

Also, just the experiences I've had over the last two years have forced me outside of my comfort zone and given me plenty of opportunities to work on some of my issues. Picking up and moving to another state was a big deal. Having nobody to call on for entertainment, I made my own and found out I am capable of a lot more on my own than I would have previously given myself credit for. I surprised myself even more in Florida on my recent loner vacation. I just keep building my confidence.

And last, but certainly not least, I have fantastic coworker friends! I had a full car of girls and we had the most fun on the road. The travel was enjoyable, our training together was good, and we had fun, fun, fun. I work with some pretty fantastic people! We're back and excited to kick some butt this year!

Monday, September 19, 2011

On The Road Again

And I'm back on the road for our annual sales conference.

We're off to a slam bam start. We arrived Saturday early enough to hit up the water park. I played like we were five years old and it was fantastic. Once our entire market arrived, we dined at Buffalo Phil's. We decided it must be a distant relative of Buffalo Bill...possibly a second cousin...twice removed. It was delightful. After a quick rubber snake in the bed prank everyone retired for the evening early.

Sunday was our first day of training and thanks to a new shorter sessions format, the day just flew by. Before I knew it we were winning the presentation award for our market's effective advertising campaign. And then it felt like moments before I was tackled to the ground off my bar stool. Pretty sure my hip was broken. I'm starting to feel that now.

All in all, it has been wonderful. And there is plenty more fun to be had.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Last Hurrah

On my final day in paradise I planned to get up early to enjoy breakfast with the married couple before they hit the road for a cruise departing from Miami. I ended up saying goodbyes after their breakfast and before mine.
Being the last of the crew left behind, I finished my breakfast and headed out to the beach for one more dip in the warm Gulf waters. As I sat on the beach letting the morning sun dry my swimsuit, a gaggle of birds flew over and said their goodbyes as well.
I packed up my beach bag one more time and headed back to my room to finish packing my bags, load them in my Dodge Avenger, and complete my checkout by eleven.
I drove the length of the island, past Lovers Key State Park, through Bonita Springs, and on to one last adventure in Naples. My aim was an antique mall, but I got sidetracked by a Whole Foods store I wanted to check out. I picked up a couple super tasty snack bars for my eventual day of airport travel and continued on my antiquing way.
My navigator led me right to nothing. I couldn't find the antique mall I had been looking for, but after a few trips around the block and down nearby streets, I laid my eyes on another antique store and settled for that.
I was drawn immediately to the front corner of the store after it caught my eye from the street. It had a lot of 50s/60s items and beautiful furniture. I wished I lived closer so I could take a piece of that furniture home with me, but I knew I had to look for something much smaller. I browsed the entire store with my eyes scanning for something of the Florida variety. I really wanted a treasure that would remind me I found it in Florida.
After a sweep of the whole store, I made my way back to that first corner and almost immediately I noticed a white ceramic flamingo I had obviously missed before. It was love at first sight. I picked it up and marched it over to the counter for a thorough wrapping.
Wrapped in my beach towel and clothing, it nestled into my carry-on for a long and thankfully safe journey home. It makes me smile everyone I catch a glimpse of it on my mantle. We could all use a little more beach in our everyday lives!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sunday Funday

Sunday was a winding down day. Friends began to go their separate ways. Some headed off towards Orlando early in the day. Those of us that remained hit up the pier and the shops for a little funday.

I enjoyed creamy strawberry cheesecake ice cream down by the pier. I purchased a few little things in the shops and resisted the temptation to buy any of the cute purses or bags.

Then we drove to Sanibal island for a little exploration. We saw a less than spectacular lighthouse, perused shells on the beach, and hunted for fancy glassware in the shops and wildlife at the refuge. And one of us even saw a flamingo (not me).

After returning to the hotel, I burned up a little of my rental car gas shuttling to the airport and secondary hotels. I returned to my room after dark and spent the evening getting my suitcases back in order and then lounging on my balcony under the bright moonlight.

It was a perfectly glorious day followed by a fantastically relaxing evening.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Big Day

Saturday was the big day! I spent my day on the beach and accompanying friends on a parasailing adventure. Free boat ride for me! Then we rented boogie boards for quality Gulf floating.

When all the sand was rinsed off, I traipsed back out to the beach for the wedding! It was HOT in the afternoon sun, but quite breezy and ultimately lovely.

The reception followed at Doc Fords with an outdoor dinner and even a live band. How lucky was that? They even got a first dance and everything. The dancing continued at The Beached Whale with a 90s cover band and topped off with rooftop drinks.

Probably the best wedding I've ever been to. Hands down.


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