Friday, February 26, 2010

not in training

Watching the Olympics, you regularly see athletes who started in their sport when they were very young, and have devoted their lives to a dream.  I love the human interest stories, where they tell us how people ended up in their chosen sport.

Well, Charlie is twelve, so I guess most of those sports are out of his Olympic reach, unless he goes for bobsled, many of them just picked it up in the last few years.  Or maybe curling, I think you are never too old to pick that up.  I could design some pretty amazing costumes for the curling team...

Charlie loves to ski, Mike introduced it to him a few years ago, and he was taught by one of the world's best instructors (and former Blue Angel pilot) Rick Adams. 

He and Mike head out whenever they can, and he has quickly progressed to go down the same hills as his dad.  Mike used to be a ski instructor in his teens, and was also on our high school team, so he is the perfect skiing companion.

The school Charlie is at this year has a Ski and Snowboard Club, so on four Friday nights in January and February, a bus took them directly from school to Hyland Hills in Bloomington.  Mike chaperoned each time, and they skiied in everything from temps below zero, to freshly falling snow, to a night warm enough to (almost) ski without jackets.

And while there are no Olympic dreams in site, Charlie has found a sport he really loves, that helps make winter something to look forward to.  Maybe next winter we will introduce him to curling (definitely a safer sport than bobsledding...)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

of mice and men

You may recall a post from this fall, when I chattily related the tale of mice in our house, and our wonderful old cat being quite the mouser.

This is no longer a delightful story to be shared with my dear readers, it has become a pain in the ....neck.

Once mice get into your house, it turns out it can be quite difficult to remove them (other than bringing in a professional to gas the place, necessitating you moving out for a while).  We, of couse, being the DYI's we are, have been tackling the fight on our own.

I use the term 'we' very loosely, as Mike has been the one to set the traps, clean up the areas they have made themselves at home in, and dispose of the nasty little bodies.  I have helped clean, of course (it being MY area of expertise), but he has been the main mouse man (along with Claude, of course, who may have possibly set a record amongst mousers.  Mike took a picture of him in action, and you will thank me that I do not share it here....)

I have never been much of a feminist (I am quite happy to have a man hold the door for me), and now I am really thankful I have that belief system.  And really thankful that I have a husband who takes care of dead mice-have I ever told you what a great guy he is?  I may have to remind you weekly, after this winter is over.

No matter how many mice we find, I still scream bloody murder at the sight of one.  They make my skin crawl, and as Pioneer Woman said in her blog, (about the mouse infestation at her house-at least I am in good company), she would rather have snakes climbing up her pant legs than deal with mice.

Apparently, it has been a banner year for mice troubles.  We have heard at each place we have bought more traps, that there is a big mouse problem this year.  That doesn't reaaly do much to console me.  Did the Farmer's Almanac predict it?  Because then I could have been ready.

Mike continues to find the humor in it all, he sent me this yesterday, the heading of the email was "it could be worse"
Before you doubt the authenticity of this photo, let me tell you from personal experience that mice can literally get in ANYWHERE.  But the reason to doubt the photo is that in my experience, they never look quite that cute.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

Feed a cold, starve a fever?  I can never remember.

Down with a nasty cold, or is it the flu?  What difference does it make, the only thing that will make it better is time, tea, and some chicken soup.

I have been making this recipe for years, it doesn't require hours on the stove, and is delicious.  It's from Rachael Ray's very first 30 minute meals cookbook, which shows a publish date of 1998.  She has changed her look quite a bit since then!  (sorry for the crummy photo, it was the only image I could find on the net, and I didn't have enough energy to take a picture of my own copy...)

Quick Chick and Noodle

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 md. onion, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
a few sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped
coarse salt and pepper, to taste
4  15 oz. cans low sodium chicken broth
1/2 lb. extra wide egg noodles
a handful of fresh flat leaf parsely, chopped

Heat olive oil over med-hi heat in a deep pot.  Dice chicken breasts and add to the pot.  Brown chicken.  Add vegetables, thyme, and a little salt and pepper.  Reduce heat to medium and cover.  Sweat the veggies for 5 min., stirring occasionally.  Add broth, bring to a boil.  Add noodles and cook 10 minutes, or until noodles are just tender.  Throw in parsley and serve immediately-feeds up to 6.

If you haven't been felled by a sore throat, runny nose, and nasty cough yet this winter, I wish you continued health!!! 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

careers I could have had:

                                                        Ice Dancing Costume Designer:

I could dye animal prints, and create interesting organza feather placement.

I have experience with beading and flesh colored knits.

While I personally prefer the classic, elegant costumes, I could do the frou-frou, over the top costumes that distract from the skating.  Hey, pay me and I will give you what you want. 

Is there any other Olympic sport where you regularly hear about soft knees, or twizzles?

I loved when they showed the video of some of these pairs skating together when they were little kids.  Can you imagine working that hard, with someone else, for that long (and not as husband and wife?)
Hey, wait a minute, I think they're trying to capitalize on the whole vampire craze...

 I have to root for the Americans, but Tanith and Benjamin's costumes were way too overwrought, his hair was too long, and I really disliked their music choices.  But I DO think they were better than the Russian pair, who claimed the bronze. The other American team was elegant, but Charley had some hair issues too.  I do think their music and costume choices were superior (and I am quite the fan of the classic white skate boot-please do not pull your flesh colored tights over your skate to 'elongate' your leg).  Can you believe I have never been asked to be an Olympic judge? 

Ice Dancing at the Olympics-there is nothing better.  Who is your favorite pair?  And what did you think of the results?  The Canadian team made me cry, and how amazing for them to win on their home ice.  They were ADORABLE, and when they stood on the podium smiling from ear to ear, and SANG THEIR NATIONAL ANTHEM, with gusto, it was the best moment of the Olympics.


I am pretty sure it was the white skates and nicely trimmed hair that put them over the top.

Monday, February 22, 2010

hoarder, or historian?

Really ,there are two ways to look at those who save things.

I believe I have shared with you my penchant for saving magazines, in a previous post.  So if you really could care less about my little problem, please feel free to move on to your next blog for the day. 

As with many things, I am sure I can point to something in my childhood that causes me to ADORE magazines.  The little thrill that goes through me when I open the mailbox and there, in all of it's glory, is a shiny, fresh new issue, full of possibility.  (simple pleasures, you know)

I do remember magazines in our house, growing up.  Good Housekeeping, Family Circle, Woman's Day, and Better Homes and Garden.  But they didn't all belong to my mom, she and her friends would each subscribe to a different title, and they would pass them around after they were done reading.  So if you really liked a recipe, or a decorating idea, you had to write it down (unless of course it was from the one magazine that was yours, but you had to wait for it to return to you, which sometimes didn't happen).  My dad received Outdoor Life, it was usually in the bathroom, where I believe is the only place he did any reading. 

On the very rare occasions when we took a trip (I called our yearly week of camping at Midge Lake each summer a trip, even though it was only 10 miles out of town), we got to splurge on a fresh magazine, that we acutally purchased at Pamida, for the event.  A new Teen Beat, with hopefully pictures good enough to put on my bedroom wall when we returned home.  And my mom would get a new one as well, maybe something really scintillating, like Redbook, and she could share it with the other moms when they got together for coffee each morning during that week of camping.  Redbook was considered quite racy back then, and she made sure to keep it from my curious eyes.

In college, magazines were considered a luxury, but I did occasionally get a good deal on Glamour, even though the first year my roommate usually nabbed it before I got a chance to read it all the way through.

And now, I get too many magazines.  There are so many great deals out there, but one needs to realize how much time one actually has in one's life to read magazines.  Because I can't just read it, and then put it in recycling.  I have to go through it once, and mark all of the pages I need to save.  Then a while later I need to go through it again, to make sure I didn't miss anything, then tear out the really good stuff.  And then I have to file those pages away, for future use.

Really, future use?  Of all of the things I have saved and carefully filed over the years, how much of it have I actually gone back to?  And what about the boxes of magazines in my attic that are waiting to be thumbed through and torn out and filed?

This week, I am going to recycle all of the old issues.  The only ones I can keep to go through are the ones sitting in my living room. 

oooo, just saying that made me a little nervous.  Can I really let them go?

If I got hit by a bus tomorrow, and someone had to go through all of my stuff, would they think I was nuts, or really smart for saving all of that valuable information?  Would they quickly dump all of my carefully collected files of goodness in a brown paper bag, to be set on the curb, or meticulously arrange all of the gems I have saved and publish them in a book, "How to do Everything in Your Whole Life Really Well"?

Am I a hoarder, or a historian?  I can tell you which one Mike thinks I am....

Friday, February 19, 2010

our own competition

The drama of the Olympics is amazing.  The personal stories of the athletes, the sacrifices they make for their sport, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat.

Other than the guy who owns Dave's Pizza in Bemidji, who went to the last Olympics for curling, (at least six degrees of separation) I doubt I will ever have any connection to the big games.  (Unless of course my niece Savanna, or her brother Kaleb end up playing hockey for Team USA someday.  You never know...)

In the meantime, I want to experience some of that excitement for myself.  So I think we could have our own form of competition.  Events will include:

Grocery Storecross-participants will whip through SuperTarget with their grocery list, points will be given for style and most money saved with coupons, it will be a timed event.  This event will of course be sponsored by Target, their endorsed celebrities will bag your groceries, (extra points for bringing your own reusable bags).

Picture Hanging-blank walls will be provided, along with framed art and photos.  Participants will be required to hang them with only a hammer and nail, no measuring devices allowed.  This will also be a timed event, with points given for technical merit and showmanship.  This event will be sponsored by Crate and Barrel, and will be conducted in one of their flagship stores.  Points deducted for getting dust on their glass shelves.

Laundry Luge-how many loads of laundry can you complete in a 24 hour period?  (Tracy M, I know you have been practicing for this one....)  Tide of course will sponsor, participants can choose from standard or front loading model machines-stain removal optional, but points will be awarded for the brightness of your whites.

Sheet Folding-start practicing the corners on those fitted sheets now!  Challengers must fold full sets of sheets in a variety of fabrics, from 600 count cotton, to flannel, to silk, to jersey.  Martha Stewart will be our celebrity judge, you will be awarded on technical merit and showmanship. 

And the winners?  No medals in this event.  Third place finishers will receive a pedicure/manicure, second place will receive a pedicure/manicure and a large gift card to their favorite store, and the first place finisher will win a week at a spa.

I need more events, please send me your suggestions for consideration.  I will be negotiating with TV stations to see who wants to broadcast it, sounds like it is right up Bravo's alley.  And I will be contacting designers to come up with our team uniforms, and of course lining up sponsors.  You know, official coffee, official wine, official pasta, official chocolate.....

Start training now!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

number cruncher

My friends's daughter graduates from high school this year.  She is contemplating her school choices, and answering the question "What will you major in?"

How many of you are doing what you went to school for?  I have an art degree (major area of concentration-textiles and fiber) with a business minor.  My office is in a 10 x 10 room in our house, that I share with Mike and his desk.  I would trade it tomorrow for a sun filled studio, with an eight harness loom, and a sewing machine, and stacks of fabric and yarn, and a big table for making jewelry and crafting cards.  I know I am not alone, how many people spend their days doing a job to pay the bills, and dream about what they would do if they could?

How in the world can you know what you want for the rest of your life when you are 18?  I know there are people with passion, who always wanted to be a teacher, and became a teacher, and are amazing teachers.  Or the people who wanted to be a doctor, and are helping save lives.

Mike has a business degree, and he is clearly going down that path.  He is following his dream, and I am happy to support him.  He has such a clear vision, while mine is fuzzier, and has no numbers attached to it.  His dream can pay the bills, while mine won't support a family.  So for now, we will keep doing what we are doing, and someday I can pursue mine when time and finances allow.

For now, I am a number cruncher.  I keep the books for ACES, and do payroll, and order inventory,

and manage our point of sale system at the store.  I have never liked math (I found a way out of taking a single math class in college, rather clever (or stupid....).  I took one accounting class, and didn't pass it.  (It was Fortran programming, how is that accounting?)  And now I am an acccountant.  It just goes to show that you never know what circumstance will lead you to your job.

And in February, when I am preparing our taxes to send off to a real accountant (the only time of year we hire out those services, the tax law is way beyond my abilities), I daydream over my piles of reports about the jewelry I am going to make when I am done.  While my left brain crunches numbers, my right brain dreams of what I will create when I have some free time.  But this week at the end of the day, my brain is just tired of the struggle and snuggles in to watch the Olympics, no brain required.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

How did it get to be Wednesday again already?  These Monday holiday weeks always throw me off.

Today's selection is from this book:

If you ever see it on sale, or at a library book sale (although I can't imagine why anyone would let it go), snap it up.  It is filled with wonderful recipes, arranged seasonally.  Even though it is a product of Martha Stewart, there is nothing overly complex or difficult.  Just delicious, 'everyday' food, as the title implies.

Needing a little comfort food this week, I am sharing this one with you.  I would call it fancy comfort food, as I know my mom never put prosciutto in my mac and cheese.  In fact, I think Bemidji just started carrying prosciutto in the grocery store a few months ago...(just kidding, all you Bemidji readers, you have a wonderful grocery selection, although I am still whining about the time I couldn't find fresh mozzarella in a single store in town...)


coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
12 oz. fettucini
1 Tbsp. butter
1 lg. shallot, finely chopped
1/4 c. heavy cream (I am thinking you could substitute half and half)
1  10 oz. pkg frozen peas, thawed
8 slices prosciutto (about 4 oz. total), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
1 Tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 c. finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

In a large part of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente.  Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water, drain the pasta and return to the pot.

Meanwhile, make the sauce.  In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat; add the shallot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the cream, peas, and prosciutto, bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat.  Simmer until the peas are heated through, 3-4 minutes.

Stir in the lemon zest and juice.  Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the Parmesan, and season generously with salt and pepper.  Add enough of the reserved pasta water to thin the sauce as desired.  Serve immediately, top with additional Parmesan..

Serves 4 (although I could easily see eating the whole bowl myself....) prep time: 20 minutes

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

It's not just for summer...

Bemidji is my hometown.  We don't get there as much as we used to, what with a store at the Mall of America to run, and a twelve year old boy busy with activities.  But occasionally we get to sneak away for a long weekend, and enjoy all it has to offer. 

Paul and Babe at night (little known fact, my grandfather helped build these):
Lots and lots of hockey, my sweet niece Savanna played 3 games this weekend, and kicked a little butt:
Can you believe this adorable girl is also an amazing hockey player? 
I said we are going to be at the Olympics in four years watching her play for Team USA. 

Dinner at the 71 Bar (that's Mike's mom, Janet, on the right):
Uncle Bob (Mike's brother) occupied the boys with Hang Man while we waited for our food (and for a change, Mike did not take one single photo of the boys.  And we should have, as Charlie's ten year old cousin Riley has now surpassed him in the height category!)
Burgers at Bar 209 (our second choice, the Corner Bar had no room for us!)  And we had no camera...but trust me, it was delicious, and 10 and 12 year old boys think it's great to eat lunch in a bar.

There is ice fishing, and skiing, and tubing, but we didn't do any of those things.  It is also a great place just to relax with your family!

My sister hosted a pizza party (Dave's, of course) at her fun, still-new home on Valentine's Day.  We made all kinds of food,
and even celebrated my nephew Kaleb's upcoming 17th birthday.  (SEVENTEEN???? How did that happen?  It seems we just had an Arthur birthday party for him, with balloons and ice cream cake.)  I got to visit with my brother, along with my dear mom,
and my brother's wife Angie-the world's best hockey mom:
The dad's got to visit too (although my dad goes by Dave (his middle name), his first name is Don, just like Mike's dad-it made it easy to choose Charlie's middle name and keep everyone happy).
I don't think there is anything better than getting to spend Valentine's Day with your whole family-especially when it doesn't get to happen very often.

Hoping all of you enjoyed a warm and happy weekend too!

Friday, February 12, 2010

love note

The six o'clock news was on in the background Thursday night, as I scurried around taking care of mail, clearing off the dining room table of my laptop, and the store inventory, and the morning's newspaper. 
I heard them mention a message someone had made in a snowy field, up near Blaine, and how they were wondering if the person it was intended for had received it yet.  And I stopped, with a stack of junk mail in hand, and grabbed on to a memory that had been tucked away in my brain for nearly 30 years.

Mike and I started dating the summer of 1980, and when he left for college in Grand Forks that fall, I was still in Bemidji, working away at a couple of jobs, saving my money so I too could attend UND one day.  We had met after I graduated from high school, and had a great summer, but always with a group of people.  It was the blush of first love, and we had only had one solitary date all summer, the night before he left.

Long distance relationships can be hard to maintain, but in a way I am glad that is how I got to know Mike.  He wrote me the most amazing letters, I still have every single one, tied up with a satin ribbon in a box in the attic.  (I know, it sounds kind of like a Lifetime movie...).  

I was always trying to think of new ways to let him know how much time I spent thinking of him, there were the boxes of cookies I would mail to him, the photos I would take of Bemidji-put together in a mini scrapbook.  And weekly letters.

One day, after a big snowstorm, the sky was achingly blue, and there was a perfectly fresh backyard full of snow.  I went out in my Sorels, and walked a message in the snow MISS YOU and went up to my parents deck, and took a picture of it with my handy Kodak 110 camera.  And mailed it to him.  (Days later of course, I would never have spent my hard earned money on one hour processing...)

My dad came home from working in the shop that afternoon, and before he was even in the house he was already yelling "Now who went out and trudged all over the septic tank field?"

In trouble again, this was worse than taping Teen Beat magazine covers to the paneling in my bedroom when I was younger.  And worse yet, I was old enough to know better.

But I had a good excuse.  I was in love, and that was all that mattered.

I am so glad they ran that story tonight, as I had completely forgotten about that moment, and how it felt to miss him so much.  I need to remember that, when I am frustrated over something trivial like taking out the garbage or leaving sunflower seeds all over the rug....

A few days early (since I won't be near a computer for the next few days):  Happy Valentine's Day to my sweet hubby.  There is no trouble I wouldn't get in for you.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I don't know if it's like this at your house, but at this time in the school year we are pretty well stuck in our routine.
This is the scene in our dining room each morning, at breakfast. 

Mike is having his heart healthy, low sugar oatmeal with maple and brown sugar, with a sprinkle of flax seed and a glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee.  He does not vary his breakfast choice,  unless absolutely forced to (such as when he is on vacation).  He is reading the Pioneer Press, either the world or local section, or business.  We are still newspaper people.

Charlie is having oatmeal in this photo too, with a sprinkle of fresh blueberries rather than flax seed, and a glass of orange juice (he tried coffee one morning, and decided he wasn't quite ready).  He is more flexible in his diet, he will have a bagel, or a bowl of cereal, or toast,  he is happy to have me scramble him an egg or whip up a pancake.  He is reading the sports section.

If there were a picture of me, I would be seated on the love seat in the front window, drinking my coffee and waiting for my heating pad to take the stiffness out of my spine so I could start my day.  I would be working the sudoku puzzle from the entertainment section of the newspaper.

Thank goodness we can share the paper equitably, or our routine might not be so peaceful.

Of course, I don't have documentation of the nagging that happens when it's time for Charlie to get it together and get down to the bus stop in time.  Am I the only one who can read the clock?

I prefer to present you with a peaceful, idyllic glimpse of our morning, no matter how fleeting those moments can be...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

Today it's time to change up Recipe Box Wednesday.  Usually I pull a treasure from the old wooden recipe box I found at a yard sale, but it no longer feels as inspiring as it once did.  And since I have abandoned my earlier idea of cooking through one of my many cookbooks each month (rather lazy, I guess) I will share a new recipe with you each Wednesday from my vast collection.

This week's gem is from this cookbook:
The first book signing I ever attended was in 2000.  Susan Branch was promoting this particular book, but I also brought along all of the other books of hers that I owned:  "Christmas from the Heart of the Home", "Heart of the Home-Notes from a Vineyard Kitchen", and "The Summer Book".  I had admired her artwork and her sweet writings for years, and to meet her in person was incredible.  She was exactly as I had imagined her, and kindly signed all of my books and listened to me babble on (which is just how I roll when I meet famous authors, apparently...)
I have since added more of her books to my collection:  "Vineyard Seasons" and "Autumn".  All of them are beautifully handwritten and painted, and I never fail to have a smile on my face when I am done looking through them.  And all of the recipes I have tried are amazing too!  In fact, many of hers are our family favorites, from her mashed potatoes to her heavenly waffles.

And today, I share this recipe with you.  Doesn't it sound yummy?  And healthy too : )


1 1/2 lbs. large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 lg. cloves garlic, pressed
scant 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt
6 oz. linguini
6 c. fresh spinach, washed and dried, stems removed
freshly grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 400.  Put a large pot of water on to boil for the pasta.  Wash and pat shrimp dry.  Put them in a shallow baking dish along with the sliced peppers.  Put olive oil into small pan over med. heat and add garlic, red pepper flakes, fresh lime juice, and salt.  Cook 4 minutes, stirring often.  Pour over shrimp and peppers and stir gently.  Spread shrimp and peppers evenly in dish and bake 15 min.  Meanwhile, cook linguini according to pkg. instructions.  Tear spinach into bite-sized pieces.  Drain and rinse pasta, put in a large bowl, pour shrimp over and toss gently.  Add spinach, toss again, and serve with parmesan.  Serves six.  Good cold too!  314 calories per serving, 9 g. fat, 28 g. protein, 29 g. carbs, 39 g. sodium

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

paper love

Love is in the air, and tiny scraps of paper are littering my dining room floor.

Remember making Valentines as a child?  My mom didn't believe in store-bought, when we had to make Valentines for our classmates.  My favorites were the pieces of rough construction paper, folded in half, then snips and snaps removed (like snowflakes).  I remember the year she bought me a package of paper doilies to use, I felt so special.  Did you ever use old crayons, little pieces cut onto waxed paper, then topped with another piece of waxed paper, and then ironed on a low setting?  Once the paper cooled, we could cut it into shapes.  I made some last year, just to experience the fun again.  But I finally felt confident enough to cut them free-form, rather than using a cookie cutter for a pattern.

And then there were the boxes.  Did you have to make a Valentine box to bring to school?  To collect all of those Valentines?  Shoe boxes were pretty standard, but I do remember the year I used an oatmeal box instead.  Always wanting to be a little different, even at that age.

Today the wide array of papers and embellishments is overwhelming-walking into Archivers (my favorite paper store) is like being a kid in a candy shop.  My heart races a little bit, and my thoughts whirl with possibility.

But then it's time to get serious, and get some cards made, and make some decisions.  There is always next year to use those things that didn't make the cut!  (pun fully intended...)

Monday, February 8, 2010

football is in the air

I am not a fan.  I used to be a fan, other than fishing, it was the one thing I shared with my dad.  We would sit in the living room on Sundays in the wintertime and cheer on the Vikings.  We were die hard fans, I knew everything there was to know about the game.  We yelled when they fumbled, cheered when they made an amazing play, were depressed for days when they inevitably lost the big one.  I reached the point where I couldn't take the heartache anymore, and I quit watching.

That, and I went away to college, and my boyfriend was not a football fanatic.  Sure, we would go to an occasional Fighting Sioux Game, more for the tradition and the post game parties, than anything else.  We would gather to watch the Superbowl (again, more for the fun than the football).

Now, the Superbowl is all about the commercials.  ( I wanted to put a link to my favorites, the ETrade baby commercials, but technical issues made me crabby...)

And last year, of course, seeing our very favorite artist of all time perform during half time. 

So this year we recorded the game, and some time next week we will fast forward through the game, and just watch the commercials.  If only A.C.E.S. could afford one of those 30 second spots!

Sunday, February 7, 2010


ACES has been around nearly 14 years, and for the first time ever we are offering a sale this month:

Tell your friends!

Friday, February 5, 2010

the power of words

I was reminded yet again today how very powerful the written word can be.  Since nearly everything we write in our daily lives will seemingly never go away (no matter how much we delete things or send them to the trash, if we decide to run for public office SOMEONE will be able to retrieve that nasty email we sent...) is is so important to put some thought into what you express.

Words can harm, and the hurt can never go away.  Or words can heal, and make a family whole again.

With the internet, we can daily read words from all over the world, and find out what is in people's hearts, if they choose to share it.  Since embarking on this blog journey, I have read the words of dear friends, and complete strangers.  I have laughed out loud, shaken my head in disbelief, sighed, and had my heart sing.  I have reconnected with a long lost cousin, and am contiually amazed at how similar we are.

Although there are days I feel guilty for spending so much time reading blogs, sometimes reading them helps get me through a dreary day.  And that can't be a bad thing.  Thanks to all of you who share yourselves with the world.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

winter reading

In the past week I have read two amazing books, that I just had to share with you. 

The first is "Half Broke Horses", by Jeanette Walls.  It is a 'true-life novel' about her grandmother, Lily Casey Smith.  I devoured it, much as I how I read the Little House books growing up.  This woman had an amazing life, and it is told in her voice, from her childhood through adulthood.  What an adventure!

The seond is Tracy Chevalier's newest, "Remarkable Creatures".  It takes place in England, and is about a woman who became a fossil hunter.  I know, you are thinking that doesn't sound very exciting, but in the hands of this author it is a wonderful story.
And what better way to while away the winter hours than to read about two very strong, ahead of their time, amazing women?  Add these books to your list.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

I have had a request for a main course dish this week (which made me realize all I have been sharing are sweets and treats lately...).  I dug through the old wooden recipe box, and found this.  It sounds delicious, and I don't know about you, but I love a little citrus in the wintertime.  Thinking I will serve this with some fresh crunchy green beans sauteed with mushrooms and a little lemon juice...

1 whole chicken, cut in pieces (I myself would use boneless skinless chicken breasts)
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. water
2 oranges, pared and sectioned (I bet it would be yummy with clementines too!)
1.  Wash chicken pieces, pat dry.  Brown slowly in butter in large frying pan, remove from pan and set aside.
2.  Blend flour, brown sugar, salt, ginger, and pepper into pan drippings (you may need to add more butter if you used skinless breasts, as there won't be enough fat from chicken skin).  Stir all the time until mixture bubbles.  Stir in orange juice and water slowly, continue cooking and stirring until sauce thickens-boil 1 minute-remove from heat.
3.  Return chicken to pan (ok to put in refrigerator to serve next day).
4.  45 minutes before serving, re-heat chicken and sauce just to boiling, then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.  Lay orange sections around chicken, continue cooking 15 minutes longer, or until chicken is done.  Serve with ORANGE RICE:
Follow package directions on pre-cooked Minute Rice, except substitute orange juice for water.  Add 1/2 tsp of freshly grated orange peel before serving.

I can't wait to make this one.  If you try it, let me know what you think! 

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Woke up today, saw my shadow, went back to bed for six more weeks....

Monday, February 1, 2010

a very good day

This past weekend I had the great privilege to host a group of my friends for "Kristi's Craftapalooza".  The idea for the event was motivated by several factors:

1.  I have a lot of hobbies, that people have asked to learn over the years.  And I have a lot of supplies, just sitting on shelves and in boxes, waiting to be made into something wonderful.

2.  It has been a while since I have had a women only party.  And we all need that, every now and then.

3.  January is too long and depressing and I needed something to plan to get me through it.

4.  I had a bunch of new recipes I wanted to try.

5.  My guys were going to be gone overnight to their Enduro Banquet in Little Falls.

Now unfortunately, I was so busy helping people with things and refilling treats that I did not take enough pictures to truly document the fun.  What I wanted was a picture of everyone, smiling as they learned something new.  The only one that semi turned out was this one, at least it gives you a tiny idea:

I held it open house style, so people could just drop in when it suited their schedule.  You could learn how to knit, make cards or Valentines, or craft earrings.  I had lots of treats, both savory and sweet, to fuel creativity.  It was a wonderful afternoon, with a great mix of people from many areas of my life.

At the end of the day, enjoying a glass of wine with my feet up, and soft music playing in the background, I realized just how very fortunate I am to be surrounded by incredible women, who shared a precious weekend day with me. Life is so very good.  (and the guys are quite happy with all of the leftover food...)


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