Thursday, September 30, 2010

convertible therapy

Sometimes, when life is full and I am feeling overwhelmed, I find the best thing I can do is run away.

Yesterday, that is what Mike and I did.

We justified it by reminding ourselves that we had yet to celebrate our 23rd anniversary, which occured a couple of weeks ago.

We reminded ourselves that we had to take advantage of a perfectly glorious September day.  Snow isn't far away, the busy holiday season will soon be upon us.

We realized the Miata has rarely left the driveway this summer, it needed to be exercised.

Charlie safely off to school, we drove away.  Sun on our shoulders, wind in our hair...

(The perfect day hit a small snag when our sweet friends called to let us know that they had found Claude outside, in our neighbor's yard.  WWHHAATT?????  So a quick detour to their home to pick him up and give him a good scolding was in order.  We are not quite sure when, or how he snuck out....THANKS TRACY!!!)

Okay, off again!  Sun on our shoulders, wind in our hair, the Miata running happily.

We wound our way down highway 61, marveling at the Mississippi.  I don't recall ever seeing it so high.  The sun sparkled on the fast flowing current like glass glitter.

First stop, Hastings.  So many antique shops!  Buttons everywhere!  An absolutely charming river town, with a wealth of old architecture.

Lunch was at the American Legion (a shop owner's recommendation).  A patio overlooking the river, great service, and really good food.  We would never have picked it without his tip.  ALWAYS ask the locals where to eat.

Off again, we headed  to Wisconsin.  We drove through Prescott, Maiden Rock, all of the usual suspects. 

We stopped in Stockholm for a coffee break, message collecting, (not me, I relished the break from my phone and computer) and 'stocking' up on beer and hard cider.  The Pie shop was CLOSED.  dang.

Leaving highway 35, we followed winding county roads past tidy farms, bright green roadsides, and crispy cornfields.  At one point we stopped on the dirt road, and just listened to the wind whispering through the corn fields.  Yes, we did.

Nelson was a stop for fresh cheese curds and bargain pumpkins from a yard.  Three big pumpkins, four smaller pumpkins, all for $10, tucked into the unattended metal money box.  Just another reason I love Wisconsin.

I kept pinching myself, sure I was dreaming.

We headed back to Minnesota at Wabasha, where they really celebrate fall. 

Every streetlight downtown was decorated with corn stalks, pumpkins, and fall flowers.  Pumpkins and mums were in abundance, from hotels to homes.  Outside City Hall, the giant pumpkins looked like they had fallen, and couldn't get up.  Those were some awfully big pumpkins.  I wonder what they do with them after the show is over....

Signs of autumn were everywhere- red tipping the maple trees, unfamiliar names on political signs in yards, combines working the fields, "pumpkins for sale" on handlettered signs.

The best thing I picked up was a visit I had with an antique shop owner.  He and his wife own one of my favorite little stops "OldStuff" on Highway 35.  He creates incredible rocking horses, and bird houses.  They sell out right away, and people collect them.  He could sell THOUSANDS of them.  He chooses not to. 

He creates one wooden rocking horse a year, calls the top ten people on the waiting list, and whoever shows up first gets to buy it.  They are meticulously crafted, and incredible.  One year he sold 95 bird houses, and could easily have sold more.  He now creates just 25 of two unique designs each year, and when they are gone, they're gone. I asked him why he does it that way, when there is clearly such demand for what he creates. 

He told me that he loves his life.  He and his wife operate the antique shop, interacting with customers.  He works in his wood shop, when he wants to.  And he gets to enjoy a peaceful life in the beautiful rural country of Wisconsin.  On his own terms.

My take away from this?  Slow down.  Enjoy the beauty of a fall day, and don't worry about how many things I have in my shop, or if my bathroom is spotlessly clean. I have way too many 'shoulds' in my life, and I need to find more room for the 'want tos'.

Make room in your life for what you enjoy most.  The to-do list will still be there tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

Considering how many magazines get dropped in my mailbox each month (I am quite sure my mailman really loves me), I put blinders on when I pass the glossy covers of the offers of the month at the grocery store.  As I surely do not need another magazine.

But this one, this one grabbed me and jumped in my basket.  (sorry, this is not the cover of the current issue in store, which features an amazing looking cheesecake with chocolate ganache-but you get the idea!) To justify my purchase, I told myself I would send it to Heather, as I am sure she wouldn't have this very special issue in Bemidji.  Right.

But of course I had to REVIEW it before sending it out, and perhaps copy a couple of the recipes.  Right.

After marking nearly every page, I decided perhaps I should just own it, so I scooted back to Kortes and bought Heather a fresh copy and popped it in the mail.

It's a WONDERFUL publication.  No ads, and the recipes are from real people.  And of course, in this modern day, they also have a web-site, which I checked out and highly approve of.  You can fall down the recipe rabbit hole here:

Good lord.  What shall I make first?

I think this is the one I am going to try this weekend, it will take Charlie's Nutella and Bananas on Toast to a whole new level (and we will need a giant hike after we eat it to work off the calories....)

Nutella French Toast Strata (from the Fall/Winter issue of Mixing Bowl)

1 1 lb. loaf challah (or French bread, if you don't have challah)
3/4 c. Nutella
1 banana, thinly sliced
6 eggs, lightly beaten
2 c. half and half or light cream
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. hazelnut liquer (like Frangelico)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 c. butter, melted
more maple syrup

Grease a 9 x 13 pan.  Cut challah ino 1/2 " slices.  Spread half of the slices with Nutelle, arrange bananas on top of them.  Top with rest of bread slices and place in pan in a single layer.  Whisk together remaining ingredients (except butter and last maple syrup) and pour over bread, cover and chill overnight.

In the morning, preheat the oven to 350.  Drizzle the melted butter over the top of the bread, cover pan with foil.  Bake for 15 min.  Remove foil and bake for 15 -20 min. more or until lightly browned.  Serve with maple syrup-makes 8-10 servings.

Holy mackerel I think I gained five pounds just typing this.  And I think I may use more than one banana, just to increase the fruity factor a little.  And maybe throw some toasted pecans on half of it.  Groan.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

how do YOU do it?

Once the lazy days of summer have passed you by, and school and new routines have do you manage it all? 

I don't have to get up in the morning and get ready to work at a job outside of my house, sometimes I work in my pajamas until guilt forces me to get dressed at noon.  I LOVE working from  home, especially on nasty weather days, when others have to manage nasty streets and traffic jams.  But working from home allows you to create your own schedule, which can be good, or bad, depending on how proficient you are at time management.

Most days I am not.  And now that I have started down the Etsy road I find my days are even more jumbled.  I am folding laundry while I catch the 10 pm news, to see what I have missed in the world.  I am checking the calendar, and realizing my estimated tax was due a week ago.  So far I haven't missed calling payroll in on time, knock on wood.  But I can imagine little things falling through the cracks as the busy holiday season approaches.

And then there is a sick child, staying home from school, who needs chicken soup.  And a sick cat, who needs a trip to the vet.  And empty cupboards that need restocking.  And jewelry just waiting to get uploaded and posted on an Etsy shop.  And more jewelry waiting to be finished.  And holiday inventory to be ordered for the store, and holiday ad campaigns to be prepaperd.  And blogs to be written.

How do you manage your time?  I used to be able to sneak in an hour here and there, and read-but that has fallen by the wayside.  And I don't want to miss reading, of all things.  How do you do it all?  Do I just need to start getting up at 5 am?

Monday, September 27, 2010

autumn arrives... in Minnesota, with a blast of rain.  Rivers are swollen, people are sandbagging in Southern Minnesota and having to leave their homes.  They are closing sections of Shepard Road near downtown St. Paul, and forecasting near flood stage on the Mississippi.

An interesting autumn, to say the least.

But yesterday was spectacular, everything you would want from an autumn day.  Mike was out with his camera:

The river looks rather serene, hard to imagine water can cause such destruction.

One of my favorite writers just posted a new missive on her blog, talking about autumn.  She lived in my neighborhood when I was growing up, and we have reconnected through the wonders of Facebook.

It is beautiful. please pour yourself a cup of tea, or coffee, or wine, and enjoy her reflections:

Friday, September 24, 2010

creative diary, last day

As I mentioned earlier, this was the first ever Creative Connection event.  I am sure they learned so much from it, and there is no word yet if they are already planning one for next year.  Or maybe there is, and I have just been too busy making bracelets to notice...

So what did I learn?

1.  I can't paint.

2.  Cute boots aren't really a good idea when you will be on your feet all day.  Unless they are really adorable red cowboy boots.

3.  Having too busy of a schedule leaves far too little time to shop the Handmade Market.

4.  Artists you have admired for years are nearly always just as you imagined they would be.

5.  Spending time working social media is absolutely essential to success in the creative world.

If you are intersted in some other attendee's perspectives on the event, go to this link at the Creative Connection.

If you scroll down the page, past the part where it says Creative Connection 2010, you will see a list of over 50 links to women who were there, and have also blogged about the experience.  Lots of fun reading!

Now that all of my creativity need to be spent on making bracelets, it may be tough to come up with some blog posts next week.  Any requests?

New bracelets added to my Etsy shop last night, clink on the link in the top right hand corner to go directly there.  Earrings and necklaces should be up in the next couple of days, computer cooperation permitting...

Happy first weekend of autumn!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

creative diary, day four

One week ago today at this time I was pretending I knew how to paint.

I can't believe it has been a week since Tracy and I attended the Creative Connection event.  I don't feel I have still fully recovered from the huge influx of inspiration. 

So many things can happen when creative women get together.  At lunch on Thursday, Tracy and I scouted a place to sit.  We wanted to be close to the front, so we could have a good spot to watch Ree when she spoke.  We found a table in the front row, where there were still some spots left.  Introductions were made around the table, we found a couple of local women as well as some who had traveled from Utah.  Turns out the Utah girls were the famous DIY Dish girls, and happened to be silver sponsors of the event. Check them out here:

Alyssa lives in Richfield, this is her adorable Etsy shop.

Paula lives in Wayzata, and can create absolutley anything.  (I know, I have seen her studio, and she is amazing).

And on Tuesday night, I was sitting on Paula's lovely deck at her home in Wayzata, with Alyssa beside me, planning a holiday boutique!  It will be held November 20th, with a special wine and cheese preview night on Friday night.  I promise to give you all the details as they become available, both on my blog, and here:

Paula has carefully selected nine of us to participate, it will be a really fun mix of things to buy for yourself or for holiday gifts!

Talk about making a Creative Connection....

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

creative diary, day three

You have heard enough from me, click on this link to find the "In Your Words" section of the Creative Connection blog.  Scroll down through all of the stories, you will hear from artists all over the country, explaining why they do what they do, and what inspires them.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

creative diary, day two (leaving my comfort zone)

Do you have a comfort zone?  How often do you step out of what is easy, or normal?

I can think of a few times I have made some leaps.  Taking ballet class in college (no pun intended...) was one.  I had always wanted to learn ballet, I could just visualize myself in the etheral costumes, gracefully floating across a stage.

I lasted a couple of classes before the instructor politely suggested I might want to find another class.

Pride wounded, I shelved the tutu dreams and took a class in clay.

Back in 1987, I was happily working away at the NDSU bookstore.  I had a tiny little apartment, a wonderful group of close friends and my soon-to-be husband lived in the same town.  Granted, he traveled and was only home on the weekends, but it was a good, comfortable, simple life.  One day I saw an ad in the classified section, looking for management trainees for Northwest Fabrics.  The ad stuck in my head, and before I knew it I had updated my resume.  And the next thing I knew I was being interviewed.  And quite quickly after that, I was offered a position.

This one took a big leap.  I was sent to live in Sioux City, Iowa, for four months to train in a store there.  I did not know a single soul, and I was a full day's drive from family and friends.  And when I finished with my training, there were no guarantees where I would be offered a store to manage.

I talked to Mike, I talked to my family.  My parents thought I was crazy, Mike told me to go for it.  I believe his words were "You'll never know if you don't try, and you'll always wonder what could have been."

So I did it.  I packed my essential belongings in my Ford Escort, drove to Sioux City, Iowa, and bought a newspaper to search for a furnished place to live.  It was Memorial Day weekend of 1987, and Mike drove down with me to help me look (nice future husband that he was).

There was not a lot to choose from-and I couldn't afford to stay in a motel.  At the end of the weekend, I ended up living in the basement of a house out in the middle of a cornfield.  I had one window, which was also my door (the house being built into a hill), and I shared my two rooms with a very large family of mice.

I learned, and made new friends.  I returned each night to my desolate, lonely little place and mailed out wedding invitations, and sewed bridesmaid dresses for my friends.  Long distance calls were expensive, so I rarely talked to Mike or my family.  I couldn't have been further from my comfort zone.  But it was the right thing to do, and I was next moved to Bloomington, where Mike and I settled after our wedding.  Then I was given a store to manage in Brooklyn Park, and my experiences there led me to my career with Target.  So you just never know what living in a cornfield can lead to.

I haven't been out of my comfort zone for a while, I would say moving our store to the Mall of America nearly six years ago was the last time I felt lost, and wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into.

So last Thursday I took a painting class at the Creative Connection.  (It took me a long time to connect up this story, didn't it?  Sorry....)  The class offerings were varied and wonderful, I could have made a necklace with Kaari Meng, or made a cupcake pincushion with Betz White.  I own their books that show how to make those things, the classes would have been a breeze.  I could have embellished knitwear, made a photo garland with Jenni Bowlin (whose scrapping supplies I adore and collect).  I could have made a necklace of family heirlooms (I saw a completed one, they were GORGEOUS), or created a dazzling crown.

But I jumped way out of my comfort one and took a Folk Art Painting class from Laurie Meseroll.  Her work is adorable.  You can see it here:

While the rest of the class, including my very talented friend Tracy, painted away, and made delighful works of art that echoed our teacher's pieces,  I struggled, and did not come even close to completing the desired end product.   Out of my comfort zone, indeed.

(Picture taken by Tracy, see how wonderful her work in progress is?)  And here is her completed work,  someone at the Handmade Market asked her which booth she got it from!  Clearly a hidden talent that needs room to shine.

I am waiting to see what I learned from that experience, so far all I have is some wounded pride, and a resolve to only work on things I know I can do.  For now. It's a lot harder to get out of your comfort zone at 48 than it was at 25....

Monday, September 20, 2010

creative diary, day one

I don't know where to start to tell you about last week.  It was exhilerating and tiring, inspiring and of course went way too quickly.

The Creative Connection Event
was the brain child of Jo Packham (creator of "Where Women Create") and Nancy Soriano (former editor in chief of Country Living magazine).  The concept was to gather together women artists, business owners, and bloggers to talk about how creativity and techonolgy can work together.  It was a three day event, packed with classes to take, panel discussions to attend, and fun to be had.  I met artists I have admired for years, authors of books I own and use, bloggers who I follow religiously.  I met people who also had Etsy shops, women from all parts of the country, some famous, some soon to be famous.  It was INCREDIBLE.  Even though I only attended one of the three days, I feel so full of inspiration I can barely sleep.

Tracy chronicled our day here:
she brought her camera, while I brought a bag full of all of the supplies we needed for our class (my experience in that class deserves a post alone....) and another bag full of all of the books I wanted signed.  So I have no photos to share, but luckily there were lots of people taking pictures.  I will borrow some of the pictures from their blogs for the rest of this week's posts.

Lunch was amazing, the chef at the Hyatt used the Pioneer Woman's recipes to make chicken peanut noodle salad and her red velvet cake.  Oh my.  We got to hear Ree tell about her blogging life, she got a big reaction when she confessed she owned neither a sewing machine or glue gun, and wasn't quite sure why she was there.  But we all knew, as she is the queen of the blog world, and everyone wanted to hear her story.  She has already blogged about the Handmade Market at the event here:

The panel discussion we attended in the afternoon covered everything from how to start a blog, to how to use a blog to advance your business, to the advantages of Twitter.  I caved, I have joined, I now Tweet.  Although I have no idea what I am doing, and will need a tutorial from Tracy, queen of the tweet.  That sounds funny.

Cocktail hour gave us a chance to meet famous crafters and artists and have books signed-here is who I got to visit with:

Leigh Standley of Curly Girl She is young and adorable and I just wanted to hug her.  She created the official poster for the event, which I had her autograph, and is now framed and hanging in my hallway to inspire me every day.  I also picked up some of her calendars for 2011:

 Betz White wrote "Warm Fuzzies", also young and sweet, she encouraged me to finish all of the projects in her book I have started.

Heather Bailey-if you ever need to be cheered up, just go visit her site.  I ADORE her use of color, and on top of that she is so sweet.

Kaari Meng-I own several of her books, my favorite is French Inspired Jewelry.  She is exactly how I had pictured her-I sat with her at a table at the Handmade Market, where she was in between demonstrations, and had a delightful time chattimg with her.  She told me of a line of French inspired fabric she is designing, and all of the other things she is working on.  I often visit her on-line store, plan on lots of time for dreaming and maybe a little shopping:  And here is a link to her blog:

Amy Butler. I can't even explain how it felt to talk to her.  She is warm and beautiful and I was nearly brought to tears just being close to her.  I have read her story, and am so inspired by how she creates and how she lives.  I own LOTS of her fabric, and patterns, and have made many of them.  AND she's a cat person.  She was one of the two keynote speakers at our dinner that evening, and it was delightful to learn even more about her.  I want to move to Ohio and be her best friend.

Dinner was incredible, I met even more new people and we all shared a lovely meal and listened to MaryJane Butters of MaryJane's Farm Amy Butler.  Bags of swag adorned our chairs, what was inside deserves a post alone.

Tired but inspired, we made our way to the parking ramp and headed home.  In the next few days, I will be sharing links to some of the other women who were there, this is a week long diary!

Friday, September 17, 2010

fun day two

Heading out this morning to this:

I have so much to tell you next week!!!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

fun day!

I have been looking forward to this day until I first discovered this back in JANUARY:

On top of that, I get to spend the day with my dear friend Tracy.  In the morning we are taking a Folk Art Painting class, then having lunch with the Pioneer Woman, attending a panel dicussion in the afternoon about Marketing Through Social Media, then there is a huge book signing, cocktail party, and dinner with keynote speakers, including Amy Butler! 

Many of the artists and crafters I follow through blogs or their books are going to be there;  teaching, or signing books, or selling their goodies in the Handmade Market.  Including the artist behind Curly Girl-I have been buying her cards for years and LOVE her stuff.

I am just completely wound up with anticipation, and the idea of seeing all of these people in ONE DAY and getting to do all of these things makes me nearly faint with excitement and happiness.  It's like someone looked into my heart and head, and said "Let's design the PERFECT day for Kristi Pohl."

The only thing that would put it over the top is if my sweet sis could join me.  But she will be with me in spirit, and I plan to text her throughout the day so she can keep up.

Can't WAIT to tell you all about it, if I am recovered enough to be able to type....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

Back to school means many things- a return to routine, fresh new crayons, coming up with lunchbox ideas, and one of my favorite things, pulling out the crockpot!

I know a crockpot makes sense in the summer too, but for some reason I equate the crockpot with fall and winter food.

Last night was the fall 2010 debut, and here is what I made:

Chicken and Sausage Cacciatore

1 large green bell pepper-diced (I used a combo of small red/yellow/orange ones instead)
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas)
1 md. onion, cut into rings
1 lb. skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 lb. Italian sausage
15 oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted with green chilis)
1 Tbsp. brown sugar (to cut the acidity of the canned tomatoes)

Spray the crock with cooking spray, layer the veggies into it.  Brown the sausage, and then give the chicken thighs a little time browning in the same pan after you have taken the sausage out.  Just for a little added flavor.  Layer the chicken and then the sausage on top of the veggies.  Mix the tomato sauce, seasoning, garlicc, and brown sugar together, pour over the top.  Pour the diced tomatoes over that.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours.  I took the lid off and gave it a good stir and raised the heat to high for the last 20 minutes or so, to thicken things up.  We had this over whole wheat rotini pasta with some crusty ciabatta rolls.

It's not gourmet, and has no crazy flavors.  Everything all kind of melts together, it is a big bowl of mushy comfort, that I topped with some freshly shaved parmesan.

Can't wait for the leftovers for lunch today!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

time for books

No matter how busy life gets, I still need to find time in my day to read.  Even if it is just for those last few moments before sleep overtakes me at night, it is a must, or my day feels incomplete.

Here is my current read:

And here is a very thorough introduction to the book:

A lovely book for snuggling in on a cool fall evening; romance, intrigue, history.  Check it out!

Friday, September 10, 2010


Twenty three years ago today, I was making hundreds of little mints and finishing table decorations.  My dress was hanging from the ceiling in my bedroom, to keep out the wrinkles, and I was sewing the hem on my sister's cornflower blue dress.

They say time flies, and it really is true.  It feels impossible to measure a year in the life of a marriage, sometimes hard, sometimes wonderful, sometimes painful, sometimes bliss.  I know I have learned  more about myself in the years we have spent together, than I have learend about my husband.

Mike.  He is charming, and messy.  He is kind, and forgetful.  He is passionate, stubborn, and very talented.  If he had a blog he could tell you about my quirks as well.  He has helped me become the person I have always wanted to be-even though he didn't know he was doing it.

He put up with the emotional puddle I became when we were trying so hard to have a child.  We worked together, through many long nights and days, to build our business.  Together, we delight in raising Charlie, and our conversations over coffee and the morning paper are ones I treasure.  When he returns from a weekend of dirt bike racing, I love to hear his stories, and see how he has documented all of it for the rest of the riders.

And now, he is my very own professional photographer for my fledgling Etsy business.  He spends hours taking pictures, adjusting pictures, making the things I create look even better, all without a word of complaint.  He doesn't say a word when there are supplies scattered all over the house, or when I have to shove buttons down the table so we have a place to eat dinner. 

My love for him has grown and changed in the thirty years we have been together, but what hasn't changed is the little spark I feel in my heart when he kisses me.  Or the silent relief I feel when the pickup turns the corner to our driveway, muddy dirt bikes in the back, and I know he is home safe once again.

Happy Anniversary, sweet husband.  Even though we won't be spending the day together, I know we have many other days we can celebrate.  And I can't wait to see what the rest of our lives together have in store for us.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

recipe box Wednesday

Time to get back to routines and schedules-the buses are roaring by in the morning and there is a definite chill in the air.  After a summer filled with juicy tomato pasta, sweet ears of corn sprinkled with salt, and smoky delights from the grill, it's time to turn the oven back on!

The following recipe is NOT an express meal, and requires some time and level of commitment.  It is definitely not low fat, but it is really really good.  And so are the leftovers!

Red Pepper Chicken Lasagna
(adapted from "Pastry Queen Christmas")

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced small
10 oz. mushrooms, sliced (I like to use baby porabellas)
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. flour
3 c. chicken stock
1 c. milk
1 c. freshly grated Parmesan
2 shakes Tabasco sauce
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
pinch of nutmeg

12 oz. lasagna noodles
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and shredded
3 c. shredded mozzarella or montery jack cheese
1/2 c. Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease a 9" x 13" baking dish.  To make the cream sauce, heat the oil in a large saute pan over med. heat.  Add the veggies and garlic and saute about 5 min.  Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper and remove from heat.

In a large stockpot, melt the butter over med-low heat.  Whisk in the flour 1/2 c. at a time, whisking utnil smooth.  Add the chicken stock 1 c. at a time, whisking until smooth, increase the heat to medium and cook sauce until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup.  Stir in the milk, 1 c. parmesan, tabasco, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg and heat until cheese is completely melted.  Stir in the sauteed veggies and remove from heat.

Cook lasagna noodles according to directions, drain and separate.

Spread a thin layer of cream sauce over the bottom of the baking dish.  Layer 5 noodles on top, then layer with half of the chicken, 1 c. of the mozz, and one third of the remaining cream sauce.  Layer 5 more noodles and continue with the rest of the chicken, 1 c. mozzarella, and one third of the cream sauce.  Layer on last 5 noodles and cover with the rest of the cream sauce.  Mix the parmesan with the remaining cup of cheese and sprinkle over the top.  Bake 30-45 min. until bubbly, remove from oven and let stand 15 min before cutting.

The Pastry Queen has AMAZING cookbooks, if you have never looked at one I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

a scout no more....

Charlie joined Cub Scouts in first grade, and has faithfully participated since that time.  I think he initially joined because all of his friends he had at the time also joined, and he thought it sounded like a grand adventure.  And it was.

Each year he built his pinewood derby car, and his sailboat for the regatta, with a little help from his dad.

He attended scout camp, first for just an afternoon, then for an entire day, and eventually, for a weekend.

He became a Boy Scout in 5th grade, and became part of a wonderful troop with a strong tradition.  Camping adventures now lasted an entire week, meetings were held weekly, and there seemed to always be an activity to take part in or a badge to earn.

In the last year, he has become less and less enthusiastic about meetings, and camping, and projects, and has developed new interests and new friendships.  Scouting events often competed with dirt bike weekends, and weekly meetings were no longer looked forward to.

He decided to be a scout no more.

I am partly sad, as I was already planning the party we would have when he achieved Eagle Scout.  But I bet I can help a friend!

This is a decision we had him think about, for many months, weighing the pros and cons.  We discussed all of the advantages to remaining a scout, but let him make the final decision.  He wrote a letter to his Scoutmaster, explaining his thoughts. 

I am partly relieved, as I will no longer have to fight with him every Monday evening to get it in gear for the meetings.  Or argue with him that he CANNOT bring his Ipod to camp. 

It seems to me that the most successful scouts are those with a strong family tradition of scouting, and a parent who is actively involved in the troop, as a leader or in some other way.

But that isn't our family, and so we are moving on.

As a parent, it is so hard to know when to tell them what they HAVE to do, and when to let them make some of their own decisions. 

We greatly admire the families who make such a huge commitment to scouting.  We are grateful to all of the leaders who helped Charlie grow through the years, and know that the lessons he learned in scouting will carry through his whole life.

We can't wait to see where his next adventure will take him.

Monday, September 6, 2010

celebrating work

To me, Labor Day is that one last sweet day to savor summer things:  burgers on the grill, a little reading time in the backyard with some ice tea, maybe an early morning walk to listen to the birds.

But since we are celebrating work today, I was thinking about all of the jobs I have had in the first half of my life.  It all started when I was thirteen, and became the go-to babysitter in the neighborhood as I had infant experience (thanks Heather!).  At fourteen, I was old enough to be hired on at Mr. Bunns, where I was the counter girl and ice cream treat maker.  The next summer, I graduated to short order cook, and came home smelling like deep fried shrimp and french fries.

I continued to babysit regularly, building my fund to buy school clothes and someday a car.  I was hired at Patterson's Menswear through the OJT program at Bemidji High School, and each day of my senior year I left school at noon to go and work.  What a wonderful job!  The Patterson family was so kind to me, they trained my in every aspect of retail, and while I worked for them I did everything from tailoring to accounting, display to sales, and managed the tuxedo rental deparment.  I continued to work there after I graduated high school, to earn money to head off to college.  In my quest for college funds, I even sold Avon in my spare time.

Once I made it to UND, I had to support myself and held many jobs (often at the same time!)  I was a waitress/hostess, typed research papers, worked at the North Dakota Museum of Art, was a resident assistant in the dorms, worked at a craft store at the mall, did calligraphy for local businesses, was a ceramist assistant at the UND Craft Center, taught craft classes, and made and sold wheat weaving and corn husk dolls.  (seriously).

The day after I graduated UND, I started my new job at North Dakota State University in Fargo, where I managed the art and engineering department at the university bookstore.  Two years later, I was hired in to the training program for Northwest Fabrics and Crafts, and a few months later became a store manager.

Target hired me away in 1990, and there I was a merchandise analyst, a marketing assistant, worked in merchandise presentation, and became a buyer.

I have been a baby sitter, a cat sitter, a house sitter.

I have crafted dolls and rabbits and quilts and dried floral arrangements in antique containers, which I have sold at craft shows and home shows.

Mike and I started our flight simulation business fourteen years ago, and I have done everything from cleaning the bathroom to preparing payroll, but I have never controlled a flight.  And I don't really want to learn how.

And most recently I opened my Etsy shop.  I wonder what other labors the second half of my life will bring me?

What about you?  What was your most unusual job?  Your favorite job?  Your ickiest job?  I would love to hear YOUR stories.

Hope you can take some time on this Labor day for a little relaxation of your own.

Friday, September 3, 2010

the great Minnesota get together

We are fair people.  We mark our calendars every year, and figure out which day we can go, and spend the whole day.

Charlie has been to the fair every year of his life (and the year he wasn't even here yet!) so it is a big tradition in our family.

Some of you may ask WHY?  Is it the food?  The animals?  The rides?  The merchandise?  The music?

This year Mike made a little film, and after watching it, I think I can finally answer that question.  It isn't any one thing, it's how we FEEL when we are there.  Happy, carefree, wondering what the next thing will be around the bend.

Here is a link to his movie if you want to spend a few minutes at the fair yourself:

(be patient, it is a large file and takes a bit to load)

This year was a milestone-I came home feeling rather blue that our family days at the fair are pretty much done.  Our almost thirteen year old became quite disenchanted with spending the whole day with his parents, and as the day progressed became less and less interested in seeing the things we wanted to see.  He went the next day, with his friends, and had a wonderful time.  So I am guessing next year Mike and I will be going alone.  We will think of it as a date.

In Mike's movie, towards the end, there is a shot of the old carousel.  As I watched it spinning around, I saw a grandma holding a little boy on one of the horses.  He was wearing a red t-shirt, and striped Osh Kosh bib shorts.  Charlie had the same outfit, and he may have even worn it to the fair, and ridden on that same horse.  Only I was the one holding him. 

This year he watched the ride with his arms folded, skeptical, wondering why we were standing there, rolling his eyes when I asked if I could take him for a ride, one last time.

In moments like this, it is so hard to watch him grow up.  Maybe some cheese curds will cheer me up.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

an invitation

September 1st arrived really fast!

Here is your invitation to view my very own Etsy shop.  While it doesn't have walls, or employees (unless you count Mike, who has been taking all of my product photos, or Charlie, who will be helping me with shipping) it is still all mine.  I am starting out with my "button bracelets", more of which will be added in th coming weeks, and will move into other items as the months fly by.  Take a peek, won't you?

I welcome your comments or suggestions-stay tuned for all of the new things I will be adding in the days to come!  And please, by all means, share this with friends and relatives and co-workers,  your mail carrier, the cashier at the grocery store....

And as the Bartles and Jaymes boys used to say "Thank you for your support".


Related Posts with Thumbnails